• 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 7 - Intermission

GAOA Chapter 7 – Intermission

As soon as the coronation had been over and everybody left the parade grounds, Spike had virtually made a beeline for his quarters. By the time Twily had caught up with him, he’d already stripped out of his custom-fitted tux (made by Rarity, of course) in favor of his comfortable t-shirt and jeans. He was also firmly planted in front of the wall and stared at it like he expected it to do something.

“Spike, are you okay?” asked Twilight, before suddenly the wall came alive with a blue screen asking for a profile to be selected. Spike, with the Dualshock 3 in his hands, nudged the joystick to select the one with a fierce looking purple dragon attached to a username of ‘Dragonboy9’.

“Yeah, why?” He asked without turning around, the wall becoming the main menu selection screen and the system indicating the disc for Call of Duty...whatever, Twilight really didn’t follow video games like her little brother did.

“Oh, it was just that you were staring at a wall.”

“Sunny used her magic so I can play PS3 on a wall given she said something about how television technology here isn’t up to the point of using HDMI input.” To emphasize, he pointed to a small box that was lightly glowing with a now familiar cyan hue that was connected to the PS3, while next to it was a coiled surge protector that was also glowing with the cyan hue, powering the game console without there being any familiar, much less compatible power outlets this side of the mirror portal.

“Ah, right,” said Twilight. “Still getting used to this whole magic thing, honestly.” She usually prided herself on being the smartest in her family and it was slightly disconcerting how she really was the last to come to terms with the reality that was her sister being in command of a form of, for the lack of a better concept, matter and energy manipulation on a quantum string level, controlled purely from her mind. “Well, you’ll be safe in here, and I’m sure you’d rather be shooting people in the head than attending the big to-do reception party anyway. To be honest, I’m not looking forward to it, but I’m old enough now that I have to do these things, so I’ll catch up with you later, little brother…” She turned to leave.

“Hey, Twily,” said Spike, stopping Twilight in her place. She turned back around and saw that he hadn’t selected the game – the panel over the Call of Duty selection glowing expectantly for Spike to press the button to engage in a campaign of slaughter and angry shouting men. But he wasn’t looking at the screen, he was looking at her. “Before you go, can I ask you something?”

“Oh, of course. Anything.”

“Why have you been avoiding Pinkie all of a sudden?”

The question caught Twilight completely off guard. “A-avoiding her? Spike, I don’t know what you mean.”

“I know I’m young, but I’m not as dumb as everybody seems to think I am.” He stood up and walked up closer to his sister. “It’s clear that something happened between you and her, since until we came here to Ponyworld, you were just as close with her as all your other friends. But now I see you doing your best to avoid her.”

“That’s not true and you know it, whatever you’ve seen is taken out of context.”

“Don’t bullshit me, Twilight.”

“Language, Spike.”

Spike crossed his arms. “Twily, after everything I’ve been through, I think I’ve earned the right to swear once in a while – I certainly get called ‘squeaker’ often enough by sweaties and I hear a lot worse. But I’m only eight years old – and I’ve been kidnapped by mercenaries and then we had more armed people attack the house, and now we’re not even in our own world. And I think I deserve to get more than simply non-answers. After all, Sunset seems to think I’m at least old enough for that.”

“And how do you know that?” asked Twilight, crossing her own arms in turn.

“Remember when that one black girl stayed over? Tirespin?”

“Tirespin, yes, I remember her – she’s Troubleshoes’ daughter.”

“Well….”

Pinkie Pie paced back and forth in her own quarters. She’d already come to terms with the fact the girl she loved was not truly human, but having been at the coronation and seeing Sunset in her true form and all its glory...Pinkie’s belief that their relationship transcended normal concepts of love had only been cemented further. It went beyond the physical – and Pinkie certainly was not about to suggest Sunset Shimmer looked anything less than the most perfect human woman ever conceived despite not truly being human biologically – and lay entirely within the interpersonal.

But at the same time, what had happened between them thanks to that damn butterfly...Pinkie still couldn’t forgive herself. It was her job to protect Sunset, to ensure that kind of shit didn’t happen. And as her Swordbearer...she’d willingly let herself succumb to it.

Ultimately, all this pacing about wasn’t going to get anything done, Pinkie needed something to take her mind off it all. Her thoughts drifted to what she’d been told about regarding the differences between the three main pony races of unicorns, pegasi, and earth ponies. The former wielded magic directly, and pegasi could fly, but it was the earth ponies that were the most relevant. The counterparts to Pinkie and Applejack were both earth ponies and it was said that Applejack was potentially one of the strongest mares alive, stronger than even the average earth pony mare. Certainly on par with an Olympic level athlete, Pinkie could confidently guess. And then during the resolution to the Radiant Hope incident, she herself had punched through a car like it was butter...was she also magically gifted with strength beyond that of the average human, even if her ability wasn’t able to match Applejack’s?

It made her recall the devastation caused by her own battle with the creatures Applejack had fought a few days ago. If that was any indicator, it was possible that Pinkie herself might be even stronger than her friend.

As Pinkie changed out of the uniform and into some workout gear – she didn’t want to get the nice outfit sweaty given she would wear it again that evening at the reception – she departed her room for one of the guard training spaces within the castle. She wasn’t sure what the answer was, but at least she was probably a match for some of the guards and there was only one way to find out if that was true.

Since they were not expected to engage in any major activities before the reception that evening, Celestia and Sable had retired to their own quarters but opted to remain in their outfits – Celestia in her resplendent formal dress attire while Sable remained in his Navy dress blues.

“Something the matter, hon?” asked Sable, adjusting his collar in the mirror. Celestia didn’t immediately reply, prompting Sable to turn and face his girlfriend.

With him looking right at her, Celestia relented. “It’s just...trying to come to terms with where we fit in with all this.”

“All this?”

“Sable, like it or not we are inexorably tied to Sunset’s life, and to some extent it’s not through any action of our own – I’m simply involved because Velvet has been a close friend of mine since childhood and you’re involved partly because you’re with me, and partly because you chose to be.”

“Yes, but this isn’t anything new, Tia. We knew this going into it all before Sunset’s grandma reset the timeline.”

“Maybe it’s just hitting me now, since it's possible I’m never going to return to this land of Equestria. I certainly have no need to, I’m just an educator.”

“An educator who happens to know a lot of, shall we say, interesting people,” he cracked. “Human and otherwise.”

“Yes, but now I’m in the role Sunset was for all those years – I have to keep all of it a secret.”

“So, you kept it a secret she was actually a magic horse expat at your school while you were still its principal, did you not?”

“I didn’t find that out until last year!”

“Are you saying you aren’t up to it?” He walked over and sat down on the bed next to her. “Because if you aren’t, then I’ll leave the SIREN program. Troubleshoes probably would be able to handle taking over as the admiral and–”

“No, don’t: the triplets need you and I know you have a soft spot for them.”

“Well, that’s true, I guess.”

Celestia flashed a soft smile. “Besides, you probably know too much about all this to just walk away from it. I know I certainly can’t. After everything Sunset’s done for me – for everyone – I owe it to her to shoulder this burden.”

Sable draped an arm around Celestia’s shoulders. “Then we’ll do it together.”

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Equestria, future plans of a much more sinister sort were being formed.

“Yes, marvelous, marvelous!” cackled Mandible, rubbing her pock-marked hooves together happily. “You’ve done excellent work, Clypeus.”

“I live to serve you, my liege,” replied Clypeus, the purple colored changeling bowing, his report having been received appreciably. “The ponies will never know what hit them.”

“Yes, it will prove to any changelings not under my banner that I am the true queen and that our kind will regain the territory lost by that idiot Chrysalis. Those ponies think that we’re just bugs that no longer pose a threat...those ponies of course are wrong. They still think Chrysalis is in charge when she’s in no position to do anything.”

Clypeus ventured a thought. “My queen, if I may, I have some concerns about her.”

Mandible looked at her most trustworthy minion with a quizzical look, “You may speak your mind.”

He looked up at her, slightly worried. “Even though my interaction with the three loyalist changelings indicated that the hive is, in fact, close to the point of collapsing, we don’t know what Chrysalis has even been up to. I’m worried she might have some kind of secret advantage with which she can use to strike us down and restore her reign over all changelingkind.”

“Oh, Clypeus,” said Mandible, laughing and patting his head like a mother to a confused child. “There’s nothing she can possibly do! My hive strength easily is double hers in numbers alone, and our mole inside the hive has continuously managed to avoid detection, suggesting the hive mind is fragmenting under her. And that is enough to cause colony collapse – changelings can not exist without a queen to guide the hivemind. No, she only serves as a reminder of why I am the proper ruler. And we will soon make that clear to all creatures on this planet!”

Spike had just finished explaining the talk he and Sunset had had about Tirespin, and Twilight wasn’t sure how to feel about the matter.

“But this is different,” said Twilight, nervously rubbing the toes of one of her dress shoes into the floor.

“Is it?” asked Spike. “You’re being irrational, Twily – and the fact I’m the one having to explain this to you of all people really should put this into perspective!"

With a small “oh” of shock, Twilight realized Spike was right. Normally, Twily was the logical, reasonable one, but ever since...that had happened with Pinkie and Sunset, Twilight had been hiding behind an emotional wall.

“Look, I get that Pinkie and Sunset obviously like each other,” said Spike, unwittingly understating just how far the relationship had actually gotten – Twily thanked the stars Spike wasn’t aware of the near date rape that had occured because of magic butterfly venom or whatever it had been explained as. “But maybe this is just stuff we need to live with. Like, I thought everybody had gone crazy when Sunset moved in – this homeless loser just getting Shiny’s old room, and then you and Tavi latching onto her like she’d been brought into the family without anybody telling me? I didn’t like her at all! But she grew on me so much that when we surprised her with the adoption papers, I was happy seeing her happy. Then having her be part of our family didn’t seem so bad.”

Twily stood there, lost in her own thoughts. Maybe Spike was right, maybe she was...but Pinkie had….

“Thanks, Spike,” said Twily, walking over to give him a hug. “You’ve given me food for thought.”

“Heh, yeah, just remember to say that the next time one of your friends says I’m the dumb one, alright?”

Elsewhere in the castle, a familiar pair of arguing voices sounded out, but to the guards and Hooves setting up for that evening’s festivities, it wasn’t the expected duo that came around the corner.

“Ah’m tellin ya, the book is far deeper than what you are taking it to be!” argued human Applejack. “It’s a very–”

“–insane and nonsensical book!” replied Rainbow. “I mean really, some airheaded chick lands in the middle of some far flung southeastern Asian country, then eventually runs off to go scalp the natives with a necklace of tongues? And this book is supposed to be realistic?”

“It’s about the Vietnam War, you twit,” sighed Applejack, “the whole story was a metaphor for how soldiers were goin’ crazy from the heat and everything was becoming almost surreal to them.”

“I guess that does explain the bad guy from that one film about the cryogenically frozen super soldiers...you know, the one with the bad guy soldier with the necklace of ears?”

“Rainbow, I don’t watch nearly as much bad action film crap as you do.”

“Your loss…” Rainbow suddenly realized where she and AJ had walked to. “And I think we’re lost.”

AJ took a quick look around. “Eeyup, seems that way.” But before either athlete could make a suggestion about what to do and promptly get into another argument with each other, they heard the sounds of heavy exertion. Giving each other questioning looks, they moved as one to look around the nearest door frame.

Inside, the two were surprised to see Pinkie – as in, their Pinkie – in workout clothes and handling a very large sword in what appeared to be a guard training room. And while they were both familiar with Pinkie’s near contortionist-level of flexibility between being a cheerleader and taking dance classes, what Pinkie was doing almost nonchalantly as if from memory looked like the aforementioned “bad action film crap” Rainbow consumed like an addict. Pinkie herself didn’t seem to even notice her friends, but if she did, she made no move to acknowledge them.

“Okay, Ah’ve seen some of those moves in books my su-bah-nim lent to me once, about old fighting art styles,” said Applejack in awe. “And Ah highly doubt Pinkie’s read them and yet she’s doin’ em – even Ah couldn’t do that stuff! Plus, what happened this mornin’ between her and Ah…”

“Wait, what happened?” asked Rainbow, looking at AJ suspiciously. “We already had the situation between Sunset and Pinkie, please don’t tell me–”

You’re the one with the living gay pride flag for hair, don’t start sayin’ Ah swing that way,” retorted AJ, “and what happened was Ah was sparrin’ with Pinkie. Now, Ah take pride in being a blackbelt but Pinkie...she’s on a whole ‘nother level.”

“Almost...inhuman, you’d say?”

AJ looked at Rainbow in surprise. “That’s extremely insightful for you, you know.”

The Latina merely shook her head sadly. “It’s just what we’ve all been thinking – I mean, let’s be honest, ignoring this ‘Swordbearer’ whatever that Pinkie’s been hung up on for awhile now, we all are becoming something that makes us more than regular teens. And it’s not some magical girl stuff where we have powers because we’re wearing magical, color-coded geode necklaces or whatever, but it’s something we were born with. Like we’re mutants.”

“And in non-X-Men terms, please?”

“We’re all kinda magical now, and it’s changing us. And I’ll admit: I’m a bit freaked out where it’s going to take us.”

“Ah’ll be honest too...Ah think we’re all scared of it.”

The two watched for a few more minutes, as Pinkie, apparently unaware they were there, gestured for a burly stallion to spar with her. As the two clashed with the magically-dulled swords, at first it seemed as though Pinkie was clearly out of her league against a well-trained and experienced guardspony. But a few seconds later, as if a switch had been flipped inside the girl’s head, she immediately started attacking with a ferocity and adroitness that surprised the guard, and within seconds, she had him to the point where he’d given up, much to the surprise of both combatants.

Applejack and Rainbow looked at each other. “And Ah’d be a damn fool if Ah didn’t say those fears might just be justified, Rainbow.”

“So, all hail the Princess Sunset Shimmer!” joked Razz, walking into Sunset’s private quarters. She’d been surprised when she’d received the summons by way of Hoof, but it must have been important.

“Sure feels like a lot more pomp and circumstance than I think I’m comfortable with,” admitted Sunset, who was taking the opportunity to preen herself. Being human almost all the time meant she didn’t concern herself with maintenance of her new appendages nearly as much as she probably should have, especially given that she hadn’t had said appendages up until a month ago.

“Tell me about it: I remember when they had one for me up at the Crystal Empire since, well, you know.” To emphasize, Razz momentarily dropped her normal guise to reveal her true, physically corrupted state, before immediately bringing herself back to normal. “And I’m just a minor royal; Sombra actually ruled the Empire, even if he was really just a usurper.”

“It’s still something, though – I remember you mentioning something about getting royalties because some amusement park ride is using your family crest in a horror setting themed around him?”

“Says the mare-slash-human who if I recall, gets like half the French national royal budget?”

“No, I get a stipend from the Imperial House trust, as well as my ‘family inheritance’, quote unquote – certainly not from the Republic’s coffers,” groaned Sunset, in a way that indicated she still thought it was too much. “Besides, given how famous my human parents are now? And the fact I’m apparently such a ‘legit snack’ as a human that I still get other students making marriage proposals to me almost once a day? Sometimes I’d beg for normality.”

“Have you talked with Twilight about it? I mean, Princess Twilight – she still gets by without having to do the whole ‘Hark! A royal approaches!’ crap.”

“She also lives in a giant crystal root shaped like a tree. You know, the complete opposite of subtle.”

“Yeah, that’s true.”

Sunset shook her head. “Maybe I’m still just grappling with the fact I am finally the princess I originally wanted to be. Granted, ‘originally’ just covers having the wings and the title in a recognizable way, the mare I’d been back then…” Sunset shuddered.

Razz simply smiled awkwardly, not sure how to respond. “Yeah, but you’re not the same mare, er, girl that you were back then, right?”

“True, and I intend to keep it that way.”

The two were quiet for a few more seconds before Razz asked, “Not that I mind coming to see you, Sunny, but is there a reason you needed me? I still have to oversee security for tonight’s reception, remember?”

“Actually, there is,” Sunset stated. “Has there been any developments about the whole Scions thing?”

That caught Razz by surprise. “You know about that?”

Sunset nodded. “Yeah, the whole doomsday prophecy or whatever. Twi filled me in on the whole thing yesterday. She felt that while my family’s still here, I could use a debrief on the situation.”

“She did?” asked Razz, nervously. Damnit, Twilight, please don’t tell me you told her that–

“Just the summarized version, but she did emphasize that the fourth one hasn’t been found yet or even surfaced.”

Razz exhaled in relief, not realizing she’d stopped breathing in the panic. “Ah, right, yes, er...the fourth Scion. Nope, so sign of her. Or him, because it could totally be a him even though the three we know of are mares. To be honest, given how Sombra operates, the ‘fourth Scion” might even just be trickery on his part to keep us off-balance, but we’re taking it as valid until proven otherwise.”

Sunset noticed the catch in her friend’s voice. “Are you okay?”

“Just tired; I feel like I could sleep for a week after all this,” Razz sighed. “Look, let me handle the whole Scions thing, okay? You have your hooves in enough jars right now as is, even with your SIRENs and court to assist.”

“I’m still not comfortable with referring to my friends and family as my courtiers, Razz.”

“You know what I mean,” the unicorn commented. “Look, honestly I’m just glad Corner Shot or the Covenant haven’t shown up to ruin things.” Especially since all evidence is suggesting you’re the fourth Scion, Sunny!

Sunset shrugged. “Hey, maybe it’s time Equestria caught a break from the constant conga line of crap it’s been buried under ever since Tirek.”

Razz chuckled. “Yeah, maybe for once that’s the truth.”

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the castle, the three heads of security that would be present during the reception were discussing their asset placements.

“...and so we’ll be reassigning this unit to the southern wall,” said Barrier Dome in a matter of fact tone. The current captain of the Solar Guard, Dome was a shade almost baby blue in color, his black mane shaved down to a near invisible fuzz (“made the helmet fit better” he often said, though nearby guards had whispered under their breath that he never actually wore the helmet short of formal events) and his tail was just a suggestion of hair sticking out of the bright, resplendent silver armor he was clad in.

“He likes saying that a lot,” said his second in command, a pegasus by the name of Poncho. She was a true rarity among ponies, not only being a pony of Pinto pattern fur coat but that she was a pegasus on top of that. Unlike her boss, she was as non-regulation as possible, preferring to wear naval-grade flight armor instead of the standard Guard barding.

“Yes, but it’s on the complete other side of the castle complex,” pointed out Marimba. “Beyond normal Guard details I doubt we need to put any extra defenses there. Just have a guardspony and either a Hoof or a SIREN within typical patrol zones for big well-to-dos like the Grand Galloping Gala and everything should be fine.”

“What about the compromised ballroom?” asked Adagio. “I know that bi-er, Archmagus Beryl has ordered the room off limits, but with a bunch of mind-controlling psycho butterflies around, that should have airtight security.”

“Literally, given their nature,” Poncho added.

“No worries there,” said Marimba, “I’ve made sure Lentando Fury is going to be handling that. She isn’t one for parties – if anything, she’s something akin to Lady Twilight when she was still merely a student of the Princess.”

“I insist we have two guardsponies there as well,” said Dome. “It doesn’t hurt to have more protection on a dangerous problem like that.”

“You just never quit, do you?” sighed Poncho.

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