• Published 8th Jan 2020
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Golden Age of Apocalypse - Book III: Legacies - BlueBastard

Everything is finally ready for Sunset Shimmer to be crowned a ruling princess of Equestria, but not all is as it seems as the Covenant make their move and the history of Equestria itself is called into question as GAOA reaches its explosive end!

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Chapter 12 - All the King's Ponies

GAOA Book 3 Chapter 12—All the King’s Ponies

Kingdom of Navarre, 1502

As the sun rose above the hills in the Duchy of Viana, two men were already well awake and riding horses down well trodden paths to survey the land—something that the younger of the two enjoyed to ‘clear his head’ as he so claimed when saddled with pressing issues.

“Honestly,” sighed Almirante, the duke of the land, “I do not understand why my brother Coronel insists on continually claiming my lands for his son whilst his firstborn is barely a noticeable bulge in his wife’s belly—and may not even be born a boy, for that matter.”

“My duke,” said his manservant, Valeroso Sirviente, “you know as well as I that your brother envies your seniority placing the duchy in your name instead of his. But as you have no issue, let alone a wife, to all others it seems you have no interest in preserving the family legacy as the stewards of the Duchy. That your head is as full of air as the girls who fight for your attention and have no concern over the future of your estate or bloodline. Or that you may even be secretly uninterested in the fairer sex and…well, I’m not sure what the term is but—”

“Valeroso, my friend, the term you are looking for is sodomite.” The duke sighed again. “Not that I care about such petty rumors and histrionics. Let the courtiers have their intrigues; I care not of what the Court of Najera thinks. The king knows I am a loyal and responsible man.”

For his youth as a duke, many of the older nobility looked upon his preference for such early activities as being unfitting for a bachelor, it implied things that while untrue, did nothing to improve his reputation for defying social roles if he so desired. And few could argue against him, for his golden locks and grayish cerise eyes upon well chiseled features made many of the ladies swoon for him. But for all the potential bachelorettes throwing themselves at his feet, as well as other pressing matters of more personal nature, the usual antics of the vain women in upper society bored him. As his peers often entertained three or four girls in private during a single week, for him to have never been seen taking a lady home had reached the point of near scandal, for who had ever heard of a man of such prestige not seeking companionship?

And of course, the problem of needing an heir—why was it that nobles were so obsessed with clinging to their material wealth even after their death by proxy of their children? The whole practice disgusted the Duke.

But while he’d been distracted with the problems of progeny, he and Valeroso had ventured by a large lake and, due to a number of workers hauling some sort of gaudy mirror that looked vaguely italian made taking up the whole bridge, been forced off to a trail around the side. Likely it was a gift from one of the other dukes, trying to woo him by way of trinkets in order to marry off one of said duke’s daughters—a sad ploy if there ever was one.

But as fate would have it, this put the duke and Valeroso in the right place to realize something else about the lake.

¡Dios Mio!—is that woman swimming naked?” exclaimed Valeroso with raised eyebrows. He pointed to a dark-skinned woman—possibly one of the Moors from the south—who indeed was naked and splashing about in the water.

The Duke was a bit more observant. “You mean a woman drowning naked!” Acting quickly, the young duke leapt off his horse and ran for the lake. “Go, Valeroso! Get help!”

As Valeroso hurriedly galloped off on his steed back to the manor, Almirante dove right into the water without even stripping out of his clothes. Fortunately, he was an excellent swimmer, and despite the woman’s thrashing making it difficult to swim her back to shore, he managed it just in time for Valeroso to return with several more of the duke’s servants bearing spare clothing and towels.

“My word, she looks as if she’s seen the devil himself!” remarked Valeroso with shock, dismounting to assist his duke in getting out of the water.

Almirante paid his manservant no mind, instead focusing on trying to comfort the woman out of her hysterics. And he couldn’t help but note that despite likely being a heathen Moor, how beautiful she was—hair of silky platinum streaked with yellow and red like the king’s flag, eyes of a captivating blue, and even in this naked and vulnerable state an air of finesse and allure unlike anything he’d known before.

“Miss, please, you are safe now,” he told her, taking a towel from one of the bystander men and gently wrapping her in it so she wouldn't be as Aphrodite was when she was born. “I know not how you got here, but as the Duke of Najera I swear that I will protect you.”

To his surprise, the woman spoke in English, not the Arabic of the Moors: “I...I don’t understand!” she cried in a panicked voice. At that moment, Almirante was glad that he’d had a tutor from England as a child; the man had been a servant of the English crown and had left under terrible circumstances, so Almirante’s father insisted that his children be well-versed in many languages...and English was amongst those.

Almirante repeated his words, in English this time, and upon that the woman seemed to find some solace, but refused to let go of him. “I…I can’t go back,” she stammered, “Don’t make me go back! I wasn’t safe with him, no safety with the Sisters, no safety at all!” The trauma of what happened to her clearly started to overcome her emotions, she curled up in the duke’s arms more and started to cry softly.

The duke in turn only continued to hold her, providing comfort where the unidentified man and sisters presumably never did. “Valeroso,” he said, addressing his manservant, “take my horse back to the castle and bring the carriage, she is in no condition to ride horseback.” He then turned to the lone woman who had accompanied Valeroso upon his return: his wife, Obra Dulce. “Dulce, please see to her needs—I trust no other with her.”

Dulce curtseyed. “It shall be as you say, my lord.”

“I shall be back soonest, my lord,” replied Valeroso, departing with some of the men to fetch the carriage. Those who remained were guards trained well enough to ignore everything so long as it wasn’t immediately presenting harm to their lord.

“Now, then,” said Almirante to his unexpected female companion. “Surely a beautiful woman such as yourself has an equally beautiful name, no?”

She nodded. “Y-yes, my name i-is…Musica Allegra.”

They would marry six months later. Three months later would see the birth of their first child—extremely suspicious given Musica’s own unexplained appearance in the life of Duke Almirante, but at the same time she was a rising star with her legendary talent as a musician of seemingly all instruments. Only the duke’s brother continued to argue about Lutero’s father being somebody other than Almirante, yet even he eventually dropped it once he started becoming the displeased uncle of many nephews and nieces.

But not even Viscount Coronel could have known he was not only right, but that his nephew was not even human—he was born and raised as one, lived and died as one, but only his mother knew the truth...

...that Luthier was a colt who would never know his real father.

That he was the son of King Sombra.

Generations later, this buried secret in the famous bloodline of Musica Allegra had placed the blood of the heir stealer, Octavia Melody, in a position where all the horrors she thought were gone were now coming back worse than ever.

“N-no!” she yelped, confusing all the ponies around her. “You don’t exist! You’re just in my head!”

“Yeah, that's what the shrink told you?” taunted Melody from within Tavi’s head. “I told you: I am your unborn twin, and thanks to this little amulet, I finally understand how I’m even still here despite you having killed me in the womb!”

“The fuck does this tacky piece of shit jewelry have to do with you?!”

“Just as much as it has to do with you, too, sister! It all makes sense now—our destiny was greater than being just another name in Musica’s family tree! Oh, you certainly remember all the fun with that Club right before that bitch Sunset ruined it? What with the shower and the black stuff coming out from where the sun don’t shine?”

“H-how did-“

“Come now, Tavi, you ate me in the womb, we share the same body, the same memories…but not the same life! You denied me taking what I deserve!” Unsettlingly, Tavi then heard the voice in her head chuckle. “And you want to know the ironic thing? All the pain you blame me for? You can thank your beloved cousin for it!”

“What are you even talking about?”

“Oh, of course you wouldn’t know, she never even told you—dumb bitch probably never even realized it herself. But remember when that hot piece of DJ ass heavily drugged you? You think you just dropped being under the influence of a powerful substance like the Vibe when everybody else had that shit last for hours? No, it was your magical horsey cousin pumping you full of magic to purge the drug—she succeeded, obviously, but that’s also the very reason I was awakened!”

“Y-you’re lying!”

“Believe what you want, I honestly don’t care. Regardless, now that I know what this body we share actually is, if you won’t let me take what is mine, then I’ll just make it so neither of us can!”

Tavi was about to respond, before a splitting pain in her hips made her scream and clutch her dress as, to her horror, her hips were…widening?

"What, can't comment back?” cruelly laughed the voice in her head. “Or is your voice a little...hoarse?"

That was followed up by a razor sharp, piercing eruption from where her tailbone was, but the increasing pain in her legs was drawing much of Tavi’s tear-welled attention. Almost too rapidly it had become hard to even scream in pain as she felt her leg bones outright start cracking, her legs bending the wrong way of their own volition…and then as the pantyhose started to tear she was utterly mortified to see gray fur starting to sprout all along them. Her dress shoes spontaneously exploding at the same time her feet started to feel distinctly toe-less which only made her put two-and-two together with her evil doppelganger’s choice of words.

That was followed by her hindquarters spontaneously erupting with light. Having to try and control her body just so she could make out what further awkwardness she was being subjected to by Melody, she was able to just make out her new tramp stamps on the now copious field of gray fur now covering her deformed body from the hips down—they were indeed treble clefs, but purple in color with a distinct black outline.

Identical to what her own, fully Equestrian counterpart had called her cutie marks.

Tavi’s horror reached its crescendo as she finally understood just what Melody was trying to do. What she had meant; that Tavi’s own biology was not entirely human. But that clarity mattered little at the moment.

What mattered was that Melody was obviously hellbent on making sure Tavi’s biology went full equine and there was nothing Tavi could do to stop it.

“Celestia above…” whispered Lockbox, completely in shock. Sure, she was responsible for the whole “curse” that reputedly-plagued Nightshade, but that was more an illusory magic; none of it was actually real and every single one of the ponies who were supposedly cursed did so voluntarily and Lock was always careful to make sure it could be undone. But this? This was straight-up torture being inflicted.

Razz for her part was unable to even speak. Dark magic’s corruptive properties were well documented; she herself was living proof of it and it was only through the grace of her special talent (if it could even be called that) that she was even still sane. But even her own corrupted form was simply a darker, more predatory-looking version of a normal pony. From her perspective, the Amulet was straight up doing the impossible and turning a human into a completely different species. This was a violation of every magical principle that even Dark Magic followed, unless….

She’s the fourth Scion,” uttered Razz, completely flabbergasted. All the information started to finally fit together. Musica. The Mirror. Octavia’s constant psychological issues. The fact that the whole “itchy blood” thing had occurred while Tavi was inside Castle Canterlot. Had Sombra actually intended for one of his descendants to be hidden in the human world all along? But that made no sense, Sombra had thought little of humanity and the idea his own bloodline would somehow be mixed with theirs was something Razz knew would have been completely out of the question.

“S-STOP!” screamed Tavi, still writhing as strange magic sensations kept occurring within her. She had fallen to the ground, jerking and spasming like someone undergoing a grand mal, a conspicuously raven-hued tail lashing against the ground and getting longer as her nightmare continued.

As if!” taunted Melody, “Now I’m the one in control for good, and this time you’ll be the one trap—"

The Amulet suddenly lit up in a sickly green glow and was forcefully yanked off Tavi, who promptly stopped spasming, instead lying prone on the ground, hyperventilating and shaking.

Following the glowing Amulet as if to confront a new threat, Razz and Lockbox turned to see the one the Covenant called Oracle holding in Amulet in her magical aura. But there was more to it: the look on the Oracle’s face was annoyed, as if something had happened that she disapproved of, but for the briefest of moments, Razz thought she saw something else in the Oracle’s eyes. A flash of recognition...perhaps she’d seen something like this happen before?

“Oracle Dynamine!” exclaimed Lux, “What just happened?”

“It would appear that we will not need to ransom the human for Sunset Shimmer,” said the Oracle, “for Sunset was not the fourth Scion as we predicted. Instead, by the providence of fate, Corner did get all three Scions within Canterlot Castle, as this human inexplicably carries the blood of King Sombra.”

“Impossible! The idea that Sombra would have ever allowed his progeny to mate with these disgusting beasts is unfathom—"

“ENOUGH!” bellowed the Oracle, clearly incensed though in reaction to what exactly it was hard to say. “Even I am not privy to the full reasoning behind Sombra’s machinations, but the Amulet clearly shows this human is one of the chosen four, regardless of our own opinions of it.”

“Hrmph. Then put it back on her and finish the transformation. If she is truly of Sombra’s blood then she will serve in the form that such a task would be best suited to.”

“No, she is transformed enough—she even has a cutie mark, what is more pony than that?” Before Lux could retort, she turned and quickly started to leave. “Besides, we mustn't let the Amulet’s power be drained further—we will need it for the prophecy to finally be fulfilled.” Without further word, she left, and the rest of the congregation followed suit, except for Lux and Corner Shot.

“Well, looks like you managed to fail so hard you actually succeeded,” said Lux, before he too took his leave. Corner, for her part, didn’t say anything—she just looked at the transformed state of the broken, sobbing now half-human before her, then to the angry, accusing eyes of Razz and Lockbox, before slowly walking off herself.

The moment Corner departed, leaving nothing but a single disinterested guard behind, both Razz and Lock moved to Tavi’s side.

“It’s okay, you’re going to be okay,” Razz cooed, gently but awkwardly cradling the shattered girl in her forelegs. She regretted having changed to her human form earlier, because right now, it probably would have come in more use.

Then again, the last thing she probably would want to see is me turning into a human just as she’s going the other way, Razz mused darkly.

“Razz, she’s in shock,” Lock told her. “Can you put her under?”

“With my magic?” the mulberry unicorn replied. “I want to help her, not put her in a coma!”

“Try,” Lock insisted. “For her sake.”

Razz looked into Tavi’s shock-glazed eyes. “Tavi, I’m going to put you to sleep right now. I know it hurts, and I want to help you. But the best I can do right now is to put you to sleep. Do you trust me?” The broken girl didn’t say anything, but for a moment, Razz swore she saw a glimmer of familiarity within those terrified violet eyes, and that was enough for her.

Closing her eyes, she focused on an old trick that she’d learned from her days on the run: it was a sleeping spell (neutral magic alignment, thankfully) that she’d picked up after one too many nights being afraid for her life had caused her to become overtired. She’d read the spell years ago in a library in a small mountain town called Saddlesoar, and it had helped in the years since.

She now applied that spell as gently and carefully as she did the first day she’d ever cast it, but this time she was casting it on someone else. She wasn’t sure if it would work on a human, but as had been proven just now, Sunset’s human cousin turned out to be anything but.

Tavi’s eyes slowly closed and her breathing steadied. Finally, she began to doze gently, hopefully with the pain masked by the effect of slumber.

“I did what I could,” Razz told Lock. “I just hope it’s enough.”

Lock was no longer concerned about that. “I thought you said that Amulet couldn’t be removed by anypony except the one who put the damn thing on?” she asked.

“I know what I said and I know both Twilight and Trixie confirmed it,” replied Razz, “but the Amulet sometimes seems to have a mind of its own. First when it nearly blew up Zecora’s house in my mere presence which in turn led to the back of the mirror falling off, revealing this whole stupid prophecy, and now...this…”

“That’s not answering how the hell that shady bitch did what you are saying three ponies confirmed is impossible!”

“I DON’T KNOW!” shouted Razz.




“FOR LIKE FIVE SECONDS! TRIXIE WORE IT FOR A STRAIGHT WEEK AND SHE COULDN’T TELL YOU SHIT ABOUT IT!” She stared at Lock for a few minutes and then added, “Now shut the hell up or else you'll wake Tavi!”

Lock looked at the sleeping half-human and winced; she couldn’t imagine what it was like to be forcibly turned into a mockery of herself. “You can reverse this, right?” she asked Razz

Razz, however, glanced down at Tavi’s new equestrian anatomy and cringed. “I...I honestly don’t know if it’s possible.”

Back in Canterlot, it was all hands on deck; now that one of the human contingent was captured by an enemy force, the time had come for SIREN to prove itself. However, they weren’t the only ones interested in the situation, so when Sunset informed her fellow teens they weren’t allowed in, needless to say, they weren’t pleased about it.

It didn’t help matters that instead of being a part of the rescue operation, most of the “Eightmazing Eight” were instead looking on in a heavily-ensorcelled part of the infirmary, watching as one of their closest friends lay in a bed, hooked up to enough machines and magical devices to look like something out of a sci-fi movie, watching as she hung on by a thread.

“Fuck this,” Applejack snarled. She’d spent a few minutes in her room to change out of the bloody clothing she’d been wearing, something she knew was going to give her nightmares later. “Ah’ve just about had it with being a fuckin’ target, and Ah think Ah’m going to do something about it.”

“No, you’re not.” Trying to project a calm she currently didn’t feel, Sunset tried not to look at the girl lying in the hospital bed. The one she’d put there, both because of their intertwined fates and because Sunset had been too cowardly to make things final between them.

“But our friends are in danger, Sunny! These asshats are playing for keeps just like the ones we had to deal with in the old timeline!”

“Yeah, Sunny—I thought you out of all of us would have gone in guns blazing!” Rainbow added.

“No! I am not risking more of your lives!” insisted Sunset. “After what happened to Pinkie... I can’t let any more of you get involved!”

“But what about our powers?” Rainbow countered. “We aren’t ordinary humans anymore, none of us are, and you know that!”

“Yes, but you’re also barely trained in using them! Pinkie was the most well equipped out of all of you to handle something like this, and….” Her words trailed off, as if finishing her sentence would do even more grievous harm to their critically-injured companion.

“I’m afraid Sunset has a point,” agreed Rarity. She had just come out of another room, where she’d donated blood; out of all those present, she was the only one with the same blood type as Pinkie. “We’d be just as much a liability if we didn’t have powers at all. I mean, I’ve got shields and some telekinesis but honestly? I’ve yet to reliably cast either on command and it's not like I can just practice that at home. Sunset’s right, girls: we’re not really in any position to help here.”

“On that note,” added Fluttershy, “Shouldn’t you be in that meeting as well, Sunny?”

To all their surprise, Sunset shook her head. “No. I’m too close to the situation. After I saw what happened to Pinkie, something in me just… snapped. If it wasn’t for Twily, I might have crossed a line I could never go back over, and that was just against an unarmed prisoner.” Rubbing her arm in a nervous way more akin to old Fluttershy than Sunset, she said almost too quietly to hear, “In an actual fight… I’m legitimately terrified of what I might do.”

The others understood at once that Sunset was just as much a liability to the operation as the rest of them as she concluded, “We’ll have to trust the military on this one. And I’ve already instructed Sable to show those Covenant bastards how humans play ball.”

“Isn’t that just going to make Equestrians fear humans more? Eroding everything we’ve been trying to do?”

A hard look crossed Sunset’s features then. “After everything the Covenant was able to get away with? Maybe a little more fear is exactly what we need.”

Rarity looked at Sunset, then went over and hugged her. “Don’t cross the line. You know Pinkie wouldn’t want that. None of us do, but especially not her.”

“I know,” Sunset replied in a broken, soft voice. “And it’s the only reason why there are several dozen ponies still breathing.”

In one of the Castle’s briefing rooms (originally a storage room but in the face of rapid modernization it had been converted into a meeting place), Sable and the triplets had gathered to begin planning the rescue operation dubbed Operation LOST CHORD. There they would figure out how to act in Sunset’s interests in getting Tavi and the captured unicorns back, while also possibly shutting the Covenant down for good—whether it meant force multiplying by adding the Advanced Training Group or even throwing care to the wind and adding the bulk of the whole two hundred SIREN candidates.

“Capt. Dazzle,” said Sable disapprovingly, “why is there a bird in this meeting?”

“This is Heliodor, sir,” said Adagio, gesturing to the phoenix standing on the table in the middle of the room, “I’m sure you remember him as that canary in the old timeline. He’s Razz’s pet phoenix and he’s very insistent he come along to help save her.” Then with a bitter frown, added under her breath, “Says a lot that her own damn bird is more of a fighter than she is.”

Sable took a deep breath, but knew the bird wouldn’t understand military formality—or maybe it did and just didn’t give a damn. It certainly had known how to work a laptop to watch Top Gun repeatedly even though it was alien technology as far as Equestria was concerned.

“Okay, fine, maybe he can help be a scout. Having aviation assets is always beneficial.” He then gestured to the map which had been brought in by Aria. “Cmdr. Blaze, what am I looking at here?”

“This is a chart of Equestria, sir,” she replied, “After the Princess’s little...demonstration...on one of the enemy hostiles, some of the other captured Covenant agents were pretty keen on divulging what little they knew. Especially given they ended up meeting that one griffin we didn’t kill the other day on the parade grounds when we saved Ms. Softwing.”

Sonata gave a smirk that was unnerving, given her normally bubbly personality: “I don’t know who they’re more scared of at this point: Her Highness, us, or humanity at large.”

Sable groaned inwardly; that only served to make things harder in the long run. “So tell me more about the chart, Cmdr. Blaze.”

“Right. With the help of the Army’s scouting division, the information gained from the Covenant goons was generally filtered down into several potential locations of where they are hiding out.” She pointed in no set order to four locations that had been circled in red. “Unfortunately, these locations are quite scattered: Galloping Gorge, Hope Hollow, the Peaks of Peril, and Rambling Rock Ridge.”

“Hrrrmmm, figures three of those are diversions, if not all of them,” said Sonata, “but this is all we’ve got to go on.”

“Then we’ll have to make use of the ATG, then,” said Sable. “We’ll split into four teams and each of us will take two of the ATG personnel to scout—since there’s only seven ATG members, we’ll have to ask the Hooves to lend us a member to fill the missing gap for the fourth team.”

“With all due respect, sir,” Aria noted, “time is of the essence and if it turns out to be a wild goose chase, we’re not going to make the SIRENs look good.” Given the sudden glares of animosity from her sisters, Aria added, “I know that sounds like I’m prioritizing the wrong thing, and trust me, I want Tavi and the others back as soon as possible, but part of this whole trip to Equestria was to prove the viability of our program. Failure is just going to give Adm. Tumblehome the excuse she’s been looking for to axe our whole program.”

Just then there was a knock at the door, and the knob began to turn.

“This is a closed meeting,” intoned Sable.

“Well, consider this me throwing my weight around as Agency Director,” announced a tired, irritated voice as Blueblood, much to the surprise of the four humans, walked in as if he owned the place. What was more surprising was that of all ponies, he’d brought Princess Cadence as well.

“With all due respect, Director, this is not an Agency matter,” Adagio commented.

“I’m making it an Agency matter, because this is personal,” the stallion commented as he put his forehooves on the table and leaned forward, a typical gesture of authority. “The Archmagus of Equestria has been kidnapped, but as much as Raspberry Beryl and I are on good terms, admittedly she is not the reason I am here—I am quite confident the Archmagus is more than capable of handling herself.”

“Then why are you here? Lockbox?”


The three triplets shared a surprised look—they’d overheard Rarity talking with Fluttershy about Tavi finding a beau, but for it to be both a pony and specifically the counterpart to her own would-be rapist?

“Then that puts you out of contention, Director,” Sable told him. “I understand that the Agency is considered part of the military, but may I remind you that personal issues require you to recuse yourself from any direct intervention in matters? Furthermore, the rescue operation was assigned to the Navy and specifically the Special Initiative Command.”

But Blueblood wasn’t having any of it. “Admiral, if that’s the case, the SIRENs should be disqualified, as your three seniormost officers are compromised by personal matters as well, by reason of being close relatives of one of the kidnapped individuals.”

The triplets looked at each other with slightly sheepish glances; they had known that but had hoped it wouldn’t be pointed out.

“Furthermore,” the stallion added, “Archmagus Beryl has been captured, and with one of the service chiefs captured, it makes it a matter of national security. Doubly so, given that both of the known descendants of King Sombra have been taken and that cannot mean anything good.”

“Fine,” Sable acquiesced; he wasn’t going to get into a game of who had more authority than who. “Please have a seat, Director. Chances are, we could use the advice on intelligence matters, in any case.” He then turned to Cadance. “But I am curious as to why you’re here, Your Highness. My understanding is that as the princess overseeing defense matters, Princess Luna would be more likely to be present.”

“Trust me, I had the same thought myself,” Cadance said, passing off a mildly annoyed look to her junior royal. “But to my consternation, the director here is as forthcoming as his profession would imply.”

Blueblood sighed, seeming to be fighting an inner battle of some sort before evidently one side emerged victorious. “I know where Octavia is, which is likely where Razz and Lockbox are, too.”

The four humans—and Cadence—stared at Blu. “You do?”

“Well, my brain doesn’t, but…” he turned to his royal cousin. “Cadence, this is why I brought you here: that red line spell of yours, The Strand of Love?”

“Yeah?” The switch clicked in her head immediately and she was shocked that she hadn’t sensed this earlier. “Blu, you don’t mean—?"

He gave her a grim nod. “Just do it.”

She did as she was told—around Cadence’s forehoof, and a second around Sable’s wrist, were red circles connected to lines that ran out the open doorway. There was a third one, brighter still—around Blueblood’s forehoof.

Back in the cavern, the guard had noted the trio had stopped screaming at each other and had gone pretty quiet.

“Hey, you three better not be trying something,” he said, turning around to face them. What he saw immediately spooked him and he departed before he could get any answers.

“So, I suppose that means we’ll have to bring you along,” Sable said, after Cadance explained the purpose of the spell to him; the red string of fate was a well known romantic concept among humans, but he never would have expected it to be so literal for ponies. “I hope you’re combat capable.”

“Need I remind you who it was that saved Octavia from the band of mercenaries in the first place?” said Blu, annoyed. To further punctuate his annoyance, he magically summoned his personal agency armor and sword. “I rarely get to use this stuff, but I’m done playing the fool. It’s time I got to play the prince that I am.”

Helidor tweeted, seemingly in approval of the notion.

“Well, hell, if the bird’s in favor of it,” said Sonata with a shrug. “We could probably use an on-site intelligence expert anyway.”

“If that’s the case, then I expect that I’ll remain in command of the operation,” Sable insisted. “Furthermore, we do not have time to train you on our weapons and I don’t think we have time to teach you the transformation spell in time, in any case.”

“That’s fine,” Blueblood acknowledged. “I can take orders just as easily as anypony else. And frankly, having seen your weapons, I think I’d rather stick with my own.”

“That’s fair enough.”

Princess Cadance then spoke up. “Admiral, now it’s my turn to request something—and don’t worry, I’m not asking to come along as well; I’m not a combatant.” She looked at him and stated, “I would like to request some of your SIRENs as protection forces.”

“Protection forces?” Adagio asked.

Blueblood answered, and the look on his face was one of dismay. “The Hooves have been busy going through the potential list of Covenant accomplices, and it’s sobering. A good portion of the Solar Guard has been compromised, as well as quite a few other members of the other Guard divisions. The other services are going through their own ranks and we’re finding similar numbers. Quite frankly, due to training and vetting, the only forces we can be sure that are irreproachably loyal are the Wonderbolts, the Thunderheads, the Friendship Guard, and your own SIRENs. The Wonderbolts and Thunderheads are already taxed with combat duties, given that there are Covenant-related riots breaking out all across Equestria, and the Hooves and Friendship Guard are moving to protect the other princesses until the remaining Guards can be vetted.”

“But that still leaves the Bearers unprotected...and that’s why I need some of your SIRENs,” Cadance finished.

“And you need us to assign some of our forces to protect them?”

“As well as your own humans,” the alicorn pointed out. “Or would you like Sunset to go overboard again?”

That last was enough to get Sable’s attention. He trusted Sunset normally, but given everything that was happening, well, in the end, she was still just a teenager and one very much under stress right now. “Fine, I’ll assign the ATG. It means that we’ll have to do this on our own.”

“Not just on your own,” came another voice, and all present turned to see Whiskey standing in the doorway. She’d returned to her human form and her body language suggested she was nervous. “I want to come, too.”

“Recruit Foxtrot,” said Adagio, “While I appreciate the notion, I’m afraid that as part of the ATG you already have your assignment.”

But surprisingly, the humanized kitsune didn’t budge—quite a difference from the Fluttershy-like nervous wreck that had been recruited from the hospital courtyard mere days prior. “With all due respect, Captain, I think you’re forgetting just who I am. Before this, I was one of the appointed guards of an Inariese noble for more years then the combined ages of every human in this room. I may not be good with guns, but I don’t need guns.” She placed a hand on her ever-ready sword hilt at her side; at the same time, she held up another hand, and the leaves within it started spinning in the air like atoms circling an invisible nucleus. “And consider this a personal matter for me as well, because Miss Octavia, ironically, is the reason I am the individual I am today.”

This time, Heliodor straight up flew over to Whiskey and landed on her shoulder, tweeting his approval yet again.

Aria shook her head. “And of course the bird approves of her, too—though she’s got a point, she literally has more years of training in combat then we’ve been alive. If there was anybody in the ATG to take, it would be her.”

“Plus, the Covenant know we’ve got guns, so maybe they’ll be prepared for it,” Sonata said. “But her? We’ve never made it public what Whiskey used to be.”

Glancing between her sisters, Adagio nodded. “True, she would be a valuable asset.” She then looked over to Whiskey. “Alright, Recruit, you’re in.”

“No,” Sable said.

“No, sir?” Whiskey asked.

“You got her rate wrong,” the man told Adagio before returning his look at Whiskey. “Be ready to move within the hour, SO3. Am I clear?”

Whiskey’s eyes brightened. “Aye, sir!”

“This is what you brought me over here for?” asked an indignant Tiny Dynamine.

“B-but it could be some kind of Scion trick!” the guard stallion stammered.

Tiny rolled her eyes, then glanced down at the red circlet around the unconscious girl’s wrist. “Nonsense, it’s just some spell Sunset probably used to keep her human pet in line.”

“For the last time, she isn’t anybody’s pet!” said Razz.

“You’re in no position to decide who is whose pet, Miss Beryl,” snapped Tiny, before turning to the guard. “It’s nothing, so knock it off! I’m busy preparing for the prophecy to come to pass, so do not bother me again over trivialities!”

But as the Oracle was leaving, she made one last glance at the band around the former human’s wrist, and the red line that led from it and out the door. And Razz was pretty certain that despite the Oracle’s statement that the spell was of no concern, her body language betrayed that maybe Tiny Dynamine knew more than she was letting on.

Author's Note:

Now if THAT doesn't get people wanting to edit the TV Tropes page...what will?

Oh, yeah, and in case nobody noticed, the cutie marks of all four scions were on the cover of Book 1.

"But Blue!" you say, "There's only THREE cutie marks!"

Sure about that? Might wanna take another look - and yes, it's been there the whole time:trollestia:

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