• Published 15th Sep 2012
  • 10,873 Views, 715 Comments

The Rise of Iron Mare - Alexstrazsa

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Chapter 2

20 Years Later

Twilight sat behind her desk, looking over a series of blueprints laid out in front of her. Adorning her was a dark suit, expertly tailored to fit her and complete with a tie. She levitated a pen near her and occasionally made a note here and there or circled a portion of the design. The drawings themselves depicted a large structure with multiple floors, each labelled with a purpose or function. “Hmm... now if we put the generator down here...” she thought out loud, marking a section of the blueprints. She brought a nearby cup to her mouth and took a sip of the drink, her eyes never leaving the pages.

The light hiss of doors opening sounded through the room, and a clearly older dragon strode in, carrying a clipboard and looking over numerous sheets of paper. Twilight glanced up briefly and gave a soft smile before returning to her work. “How are things, Spike?”

“As good as usual,” he replied, flipping through the papers. “Sparkle Industries is up three points from yesterday, a new shipment of MECC casings just came in, and you have lunch with Princess Cadance...” he leaned in to his clipboard, “next Tuesday.”

“All good news,” Twilight replied, switching to another sheet of the blueprints. “How’s the new factory holding up?”

Spike adjusted his necktie and cleared his throat. “Yeah, uh... there was a bit of a... mishap... with one of the trainees, but other than that it’s been smooth sailing.”

Twilight chuckled, rolling up the plans and putting them within a plastic tube. “As long as nothing serious happened.”

The dragon then got a sudden look of realization and pulled out a small envelope that was tucked under the rest of the documents. “Oh, I almost forgot, this came for you in the mail today.” He placed the gold trimmed envelope in front of Twilight, who looked over it momentarily.

“To Miss Twilight Sparkle,” she read out loud as she teared the top off. She then pulled out a small slip, which was heavily decorated in golden trimming and cursive text. “You are hereby invited to a formal charity ball at the private estate of Sir Fancypants, taking place on the 21st of this month.”

“Ooh, sounds... fancy,” Spike said, looking over the invitation. “Are you going?”

“Well, it is for charity,” Twilight said, idly flipping the invitation around. “And since Fancypants is hosting it, I’m sure Rarity will be there. It would be nice to talk with her after all these years.”

The dragon let out a dreamy sigh and leaned against the desk. “Ah... Rarity...”

“Twenty years and you’re still going gaga over her?” Twilight asked, taking her reading glasses off and grinning. “I thought you would’ve found a nice dragoness by now.”

“You know she’s the only girl for me, Twilight,” Spike replied, dismissively waving a hand. “Besides, she’s still single. I have a chance!” He flexed his arm and looked over the less than average bulge.

The mare simply rolled her eyes and smiled, glancing to her computer screen. “Whatever you say, Casanova. But while you’re standing there swooning over Rarity, can you get her on the phone for me? I need to get something nice for the party.”

Spike snapped out of his daydream and shook his head. “Oh, uh, yeah. Sure. I’ll have her over the intercom in a bit.” He picked up his clipboard again and began to walk towards the door. Midway, though, he turned and walked backwards, then said “And after I bring Rarity through, I’m getting lunch, okay?”

“Sure thing, Spike,” Twilight said, focusing on the monitor. With a flick of the hoof, a holographic keyboard appeared in front of her. “Time to send these plans to the architect...” she mumbled to herself, typing at the keyboard. “Then I need to keep working on a more efficient magic unit...” With an exasperated sigh, she put her head on the desk. “Ugh, I have so much to do.”

She enjoyed the cold against the top of her head for several moments before a soft ringing sounded through the room. Not moving her head, she exclaimed “Answer.”

“Well, well, well, if it isn’t Miss Twilight Sparkle,” a sophisticated voice echoed through the room. “Whatever does the most well known pony in Equestria need of little old me?”

Twilight rolled her eyes. “Please, Rarity, you can just call me a friend.”

“I merely jest, Twilight. You know we’ve always been the best of friends. But I digress, what do you need me for?”

Twilight stood up and shook off, then began to pace around the room. “Well, you probably know this, but Fancypants is hosting a charity party this month. Next week, actually.”

“Ah, yes, I received my invitation yesterday. Why do you ask?”

“Well, for once, I’d like to get a new dress for the occasion. I know you’re usually busy these days, with how popular your dress lines have gotten in the last few years. If you don’t have the time, I completely unde-”

“Oh, Twilight, don’t be silly! Of course I can make room in my schedule for you. What sort of pony would I be to take random customers over a dear friend? You can come in whenever you’re free.”

Twilight sighed and smiled. “Thanks a lot, Rarity. That means so much to me. I’ll take a look at my schedule and get back to you, okay?”

“Anytime, darling. I simply can’t wait to see you again. It’s been so long. How are things, anyway? I know that corporation of yours is doing quite well.”

“Yes, Sparkle Industries has only been getting better every day. There’s a lot of investors and a lot of new technology being developed.” Twilight smiled, looking over her office. “But, that’s just what happens when you’re the only developer of portable magic storage.”

“How exciting! And if you don’t mind me being a bit of a nosy mare, just how much is your company worth?”

“Well... it’s worth a respectable six point two billion bits, if my recent numbers are correct,” Twilight exclaimed, with a proud smile.

“Goodness! You’ve truly done the best out of all of us, Twilight dear. But really, we always knew you would.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that... Rainbow Dash is living out her dream, you know.”

“Right, right. I’m sure she’s been living a good life. Times have certainly changed, Twilight."

“It really has, Rarity. Now, I should probably leave you to your work.”

“Of course, dear. See you soon!” A click signaled the end of the call, leaving Twilight alone in the middle of her office. She moved back behind the desk and flopped unceremoniously into her chair. She floated the cup back to her mouth and took a long drink, finishing its contents.

“How can I be so successful and still feel like I need to accomplish more?” she asked, with a sigh. The question hung in the air, and its presence was almost tangible. Rolling her eyes, she opened her desk drawer and brought out a partially filled bottle of amber liquid, along with a glass. She poured a bit of the liquid and swirled it around the cup, then downed it in one fell swig. “Ugh, I need to cut this out.”

- - -

In a whirlwind of official documents, company meetings and a weekend visiting Rarity, a week had passed and the night of the ball was upon Twilight. She had gotten a private carriage for both her and Rarity, much to the fashion pony’s liking.

“This is simply marvelous, Twilight,” Rarity said, ogling at the interior of the carriage. They both laid upon silk pillows, and were basked in a soft light from the roof. In the background, a radio was playing the news. Twilight sat calmly across from Rarity, looking out the window at the Canterlot scenery.

“It was no trouble, really,” Twilight replied, turning to Rarity. “I rarely use this thing anyway. Teleporting to the office is easier.”

The white unicorn curiously observed the small refreshment bar at the side of them and asked “Surely you could have just teleported us to the ball, couldn’t you?”

Twilight smiled. “I figured you would enjoy the ride. It’s not every day you can ride in an executive carriage, is it?”

“It certainly isn’t, Twilight. Thank you.”

“And thank you for the dress. It’s very lovely,” Twilight replied, looking over her outfit. It had a dark red, frilled neck piece, and covering her body was a deep violet fabric. A similar red cloth composed the top frilled half, leading down to a night sky purple material. Sleeves of the same nature adorned her forehooves. The creation, as a whole, was expertly tailored and crafted, proving that Rarity’s skills had only improved over the years.

“I always try my best, dear. Oh, it seems we’ve just about arrived.” She looked out the window, where there was a large gathering of carriages and well dressed ponies in front of a luxurious building. It had similar architecture to the rest of Canterlot, but was built as a mansion.

The carriage rolled up to the front of the building, where the driving stallion proceeded to unhitch himself and open the door. “Thank you, sir,” Twilight said, nodding to the stallion. He simply gave an affirmative nod and stepped aside. As she made her way out of the carriage, heads began to turn and cameras started to flash. Twilight rolled her eyes, tiring of the publicity.

“Miss Sparkle, can you answer some questions?”

“Where is Sparkle Industries headed?”

“Can I take you to dinner?!”

The purple mare groaned and made a steady path towards the doors, ignoring the camera flashes and torrents of media questioning. Behind her, Rarity was basking in the limelight, taking every opportunity to pose for the camera. Twilight shook her head and smiled, making her way into the building.

Several moments later, Rarity caught up with her in the entrance hall. “Goodness, Twilight, does that happen everywhere you go?”

“Unfortunately, yes,” she replied, looking out the door. “Well, not everywhere, but a lot of places. I still haven’t gotten entirely used to it.”

“It’s bound to happen to a mare of your status, Twilight,” Rarity said, with a giggle. “I still cannot believe I’m friends with the Twilight Sparkle.”

“I’m not that special,” Twilight replied, with a light frown.

“But you are, dear! Twenty years ago, you revolutionized Equestria, and now everypony knows your name. You truly are the pony everypony should know, Twilight.” She put a hoof to Twilight’s chin and looked into her eyes. “Don’t you let anypony tell you otherwise.”

Twilight let out a sigh, then smiled. “If you say so, Rarity. But sometimes... I just don’t feel... I don’t know, important enough.”

“Miss Twilight Sparkle? Not important enough?” Both Rarity and Twilight turn their heads to find Fancypants himself standing between them. He was certainly older now, with wrinkled beginning to form on his forehead, but the main indicator of his age was his bushy mustache, which was at least twice as large as it had been the last time Twilight saw it. He still wore a monocle, which was attached via gold chain to his tuxedo.

“Oh! Well, hello there, Sir Fancypants,” Twilight said, with a bow.

He smiled, then took her hoof and gave it a light kiss. “It’s an honor to have you here.” He then looked to Rarity. “Ah, Miss Rarity. It is always a pleasure to see you.” She received a kiss on the hoof as well.

“The pleasure is all mine, Sir Fancypants,” Rarity replied, with a delighted smile.

“Have you two been enjoying yourselves thus far?” he asked, looking between them.

“Well, we’ve only been here for a few minutes,” Twilight said.

“Ah, I see. If that’s the case, by all means, go and enjoy the party. We can talk later.” The stallion gave a bow and another grin, and after the two mares said their goodbyes, he took his leave.

Twilight and Rarity made their way into the farther parts of the hall. “He’s still just as charming as always, isn’t he?” Rarity asked, looking to Twilight.

“Yes, he’s a very nice stallion. It’s hard to believe he doesn’t have a wife yet. I wonder why...”

“He what?” Rarity asked, nearly tripping over her own hooves. She stared at Twilight in disbelief.

“Oh, you didn’t know that?” Twilight asked, eliciting a silent nod from the other unicorn. “While he’s had marefriends in the past, he’s never stayed with any of them.”

“How do you...?”

“It gets brought up too often during lunch hours,” the purple mare replied, recalling hundreds of conversations about the subject. “That’s the price to pay when all of your interns gossip with one another...”

“Well that’s... very interesting news, Twilight,” Rarity said, regaining her composure and proceeding forward. “Perhaps I’ll ask him about it at a later time.” At that moment, a waitress walked near them with a tray of drinks of multiple colors and varieties. Both of the unicorns grabbed a glass as she passed by and continued into the main ballroom, where the majority of guests were gathered together.

Twilight took a sip of her drink, silently wishing it was from the personal stash in her office. It was a fruity mixture, which was far off from what she was used to. Rarity, though, seemed to be enjoying it.

“So, Twilight, how many of these fabulous ponies do you know?” Rarity asked, motioning to the ballroom. “Surely you’ve met with a few of them personally.”

“Oh, uh...” Twilight looked off into the crowd, trying to pick out faces she recognized. “Ah! There’s somepony I know, and you might actually know him too.” She pointed at a brown stallion with slicked back hair and three money bags for a cutie mark. “That’s Filthy Rich. He’s one of the bigger stockholders in Sparkle Industries, and one of the first few ponies to start supporting the company. Oh, and it looks like his daughter is with him.” Sure enough, next to the aging stallion was a pink mare in an elaborate dress, sporting a two-toned mane.

“My, the years certainly haven’t been kind to him, have they?” Rarity commented.

Twilight squinted to get a better look of him. “He’s not too bad for his age, actually, especially in the stressful position he’s in. The Rich Enterprise has expanded quite a bit since he left Ponyville, so he has a lot to manage.” She looked around the ballroom again and found yet another familiar face. “Look, there’s Hoity Toity, but you’re plenty familiar with him, aren’t you?”

Rarity chuckled. “Naturally. I do business with Mister Toity every month.”

Twilight returned the laugh. “Of course you do. And it looks like a few of the Wonderbolts attending tonight,” she added, pointing to several blue-suited ponies talking amongst each other. “If we’re lucky we might catch Rainbow Dash taking a break.”

“It would certainly be a pleasure to see Rainbow again. Ever since she joined the team, we haven’t heard much from her other than the occasional letter or phone call.”

Twilight nodded in agreement. “I’m sure we’ll talk soon.” She then tapped the bottom of her chin. “Who else do I know...” Her thoughts, however, were cut off by a voice ringing through the room.

“Ahem, good evening everyone.” Fancypants’ voice reverberated throughout the hall, causing those in the room to look to its origin. All different types were attending, from ponies to griffons to donkeys and even several high status dragons. “It is quite a pleasure to see you all here, and I extend my greatest welcomes.”

“And now the speeches start,” Twilight said, with a groan. She downed the rest of her drink and sat the empty glass aside.

Rarity waved a hoof at Twilight as she watched a tall, golden dragon take a place near Fancypants. “Oh, it’s not so bad, Twilight. Once this speech is over, we can mingle with other guests, have some delectable hors d'oeuvres, and enjoy ourselves.”

“You’re right, you’re right,’ the purple unicorn conceded, sighing and looking to the stallion. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed a gryphon take his place next to her, but she gave it no thought. He was just another prestigious guest, probably with multiple stocks in her own company.

She watched as Filthy Rich took his place next to Fancypants, giving the crowd a grin and waving. She also wondered how much she had donated to this event.

“...and none other than Miss Twilight Sparkle!” Fancypants announced, looking through the crowd and finding Twilight. He smiled as he spotted her and motioned for her to come up. “Who has the honor of being our largest donator!”

“Right. A lot,” she said to herself, putting on a smile and walking towards the front. The fifth step she took was when the first explosion went off.

Over the course of ten seconds, several things happened. First, the room became engulfed in smoke, sending most of the attendees into a coughing fit, Twilight included. Second, the screams began, along with the panic. Her ears rang from the blast and she couldn’t see, but she could still hear Rarity’s shrill cries behind her. Third, another explosion went off, and from the shock and the volume, it must have been close. Lastly, she felt a several sharp impacts to her chest.

Twilight looked down, noticing various fragments of metal sticking out of her. A warm sensation began to flow down the front of her body, trailing down her chest and sliding along her legs. When she touched the top of her dress, bright crimson was left on her shaking hoof. As the shock started to wear off, the pain began to set in. She felt tears welling up in her eyes and she opened her mouth to scream, but nothing came out. Her legs began to grow weak and she stumbled forward, trying her best to keep her balance.

All she could think was that she was going to die. A million pieces of different thoughts bounced through her mind, but none of them stuck together to make anything coherent. The only thing she could focus on was the pain.

Moments later, Twilight felt a claw grab her neck, then took a heavy blow to the head. The last thing she saw before blacking out were two griffons standing over her.

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