• Published 20th Apr 2020
  • 1,518 Views, 111 Comments

Disharmony: Gods Among Ponies - Mr-Astounding

  • ...

Princess Ember

Chapter 3: Princess Ember

“A pleasure most rare, your grace,” Little Strongheart declared with a teasing grin as Dragon Lord Ember finished her approach to her home. “I was starting to think you'd forgotten about the alliance the Dragon Lands had made with the Buffalo Tribe in an attempt to ease the tension of delving into Equestrian politics.”

Here, Princess Ember couldn’t help but blink, not knowing what the daughter of the Buffalo Chief was talking about, but allowing herself to admit that it wasn’t a bad idea. She allowed herself a smirk even as she gave the likeness of her friend an easygoing nod. “Yes, well, take comfort knowing that a part of me wishes it was done earlier.”

Little Strongheart just gave an anguished sigh. “I know what you mean,” she said as she directed her attention towards a statue in the distance. “But it’s the least we owe to him, isn’t it?”

Ember couldn’t help but gasp: there, for all to see, was a familiar looking statue that bore a plague that read the following: “In Loving Memory of Spike, the Brave and Glorious. Born a Dragon, Raised by Ponies. Beloved by All.”

The Dragon Lord reminded herself to hug her friend when she got back even as she did her best to remain calm. “Like I said, we should have made peace with our Equestrian neighbors even a few days earlier...which reminds me. Sad to say, this isn’t entirely a friendly visit. I’m in need access to the information the Dragon Lands have on Equestrian Governments. History, current structure, and all that jazz.”

Little Strongheart let out a wince. “Ah, yes: for the treaty negotiations with the Solar Empress.”

Though still confused, Ember decided it was best to play along for now. “Yes: the treaty negotiations. I’m still unsure how I feel about all this.”

Little Strongheart just shook her head. “I don’t blame you: I didn’t like it much either when the Buffalo were more-or-less drafted into the Equestrian military due them technically being part of Appleloosa. In any case, I'm afraid our resources are a bit limited at the moment: Celestia has seen to it to keep some of the details of her Empire's inner workings to herself.”

Seeing an opening, Princess Ember nodded. “Mind telling me what you do know? A thorough review of the events leading to her rise to power could potentially reveal possible strategies for negotiation.”

“Always the diplomat, eh Ember?” Little Strongheart teased. “Your father would've been proud.” Noticing the shocked expression on the Dragon Lord’s face, the Buffalo couldn’t help but wince. “I’m sorry: I forgot that you’re still a bit sensitive about the subject.”

Dragon Lord Ember could only suck in a breath as she attempted to collect herself even in the face of the revelation that her father was dead in this reality. With some effort, however, she’d managed to calm down. “It...it's alright: now you were saying?”

Little Strongheart just gave a light smirk. “Right, the explanation. Anyways, five years ago, the one called King Sombra tricked Celestia into killing her sister, and destroying much of Canterlot in the process. Consumed with grief, she snuffed out what little light Sombra had left.”

“Indeed: we all remember where we were on that day…” Ember declared, doing her best to play along.

Little Strongheart simply shook her head in sympathy and...well, maybe it was the Dragon Lord’s imagination, but she thought she caught a little disgust as well. “After that, she knew little of restraint: judge, jury, and executioner, she and other like-minded ponies, and various other citizens of Equestria who aligned themselves with her, quickly reigned in the criminal element.”

Knowing what this would mean for certain members of said criminal element, Ember couldn’t help but let out a slight shake of her head. “Which made her quite popular…”

Seeming to understand her frustrations better than most, Little Strongheart let out a sigh. “Many of Equestria's citizens were desperate for some sense of security after Sombra's death, making the arrangement of what's now known as the ‘Solar Empire’ that much easier, as was the sweeping away of many of Equestria's older policies.”

It was here an orange Dragon with purple spines approached the two, clearing her throat as she landed. “Sorry to interrupt, but Celestia's envoys have arrived. They're currently waiting for you near Torch’s old throne.”

Ember just smiled. “Thanks for the heads up. I’ll go check it out.”

The young dragon couldn’t help but frown as she watched the Dragon Lord fly off. “Huh: I can’t put my claw on why, but something was different about her.”

Little Strongheart just nodded as she too watched the Dragon Princess fly off. “Yes...there was.”

Despite the seriousness of the situation, Ember couldn’t help but quirk an eyebrow about seeing who was waiting for her at her father’s throne. “No offense meant, but they sent you two?”

“None taken,” came the reply of Solar Fluttershy - now sporting some light armor. “Celestia thought that this would be a chance for growth for all of us. Besides, with everything that’s happened, there just isn’t a whole lot left to be scared of, you know?”

“OOGA BOOGA BOOGA!” Solar Scootaloo - wearing a black vest and having developed her wings a considerable amount, a collapsible scooter at her side - let out a laugh as Fluttershy let out a startled shriek and clung to Ember even as she handed the tribal mask she had borrowed from one of the Buffalo back to one of the guards that had been on standby. “Heh, sorry, Flutters: you gave me an opportunity like that and I just couldn’t resist.”

“No, no, it’s fine,” Fluttershy replied as she let go of Ember. “Just try and stay focused. Rainbow Dash would have wanted us to ensure the peace agreements go smoothly, wouldn’t she?”

Scootaloo let out a mournful sigh. “Yeah: she died loyal to Equestria: the least we can do is honor that loyalty.”

“Okay, this is getting a bit heavy for my tastes,” Ember admitted, even as she herself felt a little uneasy knowing that this reality’s Rainbow Dash was dead. “Let’s get back to what we’re here to discuss: the treaty?”

Fluttershy just nodded as she held out a scroll. “The final draft. The Empress is pleased that you agreed to our terms.”

Ember simply nodded. “Mind if I take a look? Wouldn’t want to find out that somepony had misspelled something in the ‘final’ draft, would we?”

Scootaloo just snorted. “No, we wouldn’t, otherwise a certain bookworm might attack us out of spite.”

Ember just smiled as she gazed upon the treaty before her...only to lose said smile more and more the further she got in the document.

Fluttershy, noticing the Dragon Lord’s distress, couldn’t help but quirk an eyebrow. “Something wrong?”

Princess Ember was only just barely controlling her rage. “Oh, something’s wrong, alright: this is nothing but subjugation: you’re demanding control over the entire Dragon Lands!”

Scootaloo just gave a scoff by way of reply. “Hey, you’re the one who agreed to this. Can’t fault us for following orders and/or expecting you to cooperate.”

Noticing the thinly veiled threat, Ember let out a growl. “Tread carefully: friend of Rainbow Dash or not, you do not want to anger the Dragon Lord.”

Quickly using her scepter to temporarily blind Fluttershy, the Dragon Lord quickly closed in on Scootaloo. The Pegasus was ready for her, though: five years had been plenty of time for the daredevil Pegasus to develop her wings and earn flight capabilities, so right off the bat, air superiority was no longer a factor. Between that and how Rainbow’s honorary sister had only gotten better with her scooter and Ember had a really hard time getting a good hit on her opponent. That said, Scootaloo had brought a wooden scooter to a fight against a fire-breathing dragon next to an active volcano, thus she soon found herself distracted by her favorite keepsake, surprise surprise, catching fire. The moment she had moved to use the nearby geysers to extinguish the flames, however, Ember capitalized on her lapse in judgement to quickly knock her out.

Feeling somewhat merciful, Ember did Rainbow’s sister a favor by putting out the flames of her favorite scooter before turning towards the young Pegasus with a glare. “Orders or not, Celestia will not have the Dragon Lands. Not now, not ever!”

Fluttershy, having recollected herself, quickly tried to use her knowledge of pressure points to subdue the Dragon Lord, only for her to dodge.

“This doesn’t have to get any messier,” Ember calmly declared, attempting to appeal to the Pegasus’ gentle nature. “I just want to talk to Celestia.”

“The last time I hesitated, I lost my best friend,” Fluttershy barked back. “Celestia has promised that’ll never happen again if we just follow her lead. You’re my friend, Ember, but sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. When somepony tries to block, you show them how you rock!”

It was clear from the get-go that everything that had happened over the course of the last few years had hit Fluttershy harder than most. The aggressive way that she attacked the Dragon Lord only served to showcase how much pain the once gentle pony had gone through, and how much she wanted to avoid feeling that kind of pain again. Between that and how she’d call upon the local wildlife to aid in her attack, Ember actually found herself on the defensive for the majority of the fight. That said, if there was one thing that the newest Dragon Lord prided herself on, it was the ability to think strategically.

Sometime into the battle, Fluttershy noticed the Dragon Lord raising her scepter. Remembering how Ember had used it to blind her earlier, the Pegasus quickly covered her eyes...which was exactly what Ember had been counting on. Quickly closing the gap between them, Ember quickly jabbed at a few spots on her opponent to temporarily stun the Pegasus before pushing her to the ground, quickly pinning the pony to the ground as she did.

“There is no kindness in forcing friends to fight each other: you taught me that!” Ember barked out, instantly taking the will to fight out of the yellow Pegasus. The Dragon Lord just let out a sigh. “I’m sorry, okay? I know how important it is to you that the Dragon Lands make peace with the rest of Equestria, but this? Forcing us to submit to you like so many of my more unruly subjects wanted to do to you ponies? That isn’t the way. You know that, deep down, don’t you?”

Before Fluttershy had the chance to reply, however, several dragons and buffalo entered the area, escorting a very familiar looking dragon to the area. “There she is, Princess,” one of the Dragons declared, all but confirming Ember’s suspicions.

“Welp, parallel Equestria it is,” Princess Ember remarked as she got off Fluttershy, the Pegasus quickly scampering into a corner as to not get in the way of the coming fight.

“Who do you work for, usurper?” Solar Dragon Lord Ember demanded. “Grogar? Ahuizotl?”

“I’m the rightful Dragon Lord!” Ember declared. “Within the Dragon Lands, I answer to no one...unlike you.”

“I’d choose your next words very carefully,” Solar Princess Ember growled out.

Ember just shook her head in disgust. “You would give away the Dragon Lands, the kingdom you swore to protect, like a set of bad gems...to a pony!?”

Solar Ember just gave a sigh. “The treaty requires that Celestia recognizes our differing societies… and that as much of our culture which can remain intact does remain intact.”

Ember just growled. “...and yet you put your forces at Celestia's beck and call.”

Solar Ember shook her head in frustration. “It was either compromise or risk that mare throwing my subjects into the sun.”

Ember could only glare. She understood her counterpart’s motives, she couldn’t help but feel disgusted. “Yes, you ensured the safety of yourself and your subjects, and all it cost you was your pride and your freedom. Sorry, Princess, but what you call compromise, I call appeasement!”

The Solar Dragon Lord merely growled in reply. “I grow tired of this.” She quickly raised her scepter. “All forces: attack the false Dragon Lord!”

“Whatever you say.” ...and that was the only warning Solar Ember got before she was blindsided by the last creature she had expected.

“What are you doing, Strongheart?!” Ember yelled out.

“Something that I wanted to do from the moment talk about this treaty began,” Lunar Little Strongheart declared. “The Solar Empress stole the Buffalo’s rightful home: I won’t let her do the same to the Dragons. Not without a fight. Your twin showing up was just the final push I needed to finally stage a little intervention.”

“Brave, yet foolish,” Ember said with a sigh. “I know you mean well, Little Strongheart, but you only brought a few dozen of your Buffalo with you, so even if you were to team up with my double, you’d clearly be outnumbered.”

“That’s true,” Ember declared, “but you are clearly outmatched.”

As it turned out, the battle that broke out didn’t last as long as one might think. Having spent the past few years using her scepter to command other dragons to fight for her out of a sense of self-preservation, it had been quite some time since Solar Ember had actually seen battle. This immediately put the Solar Dragon Lord at a disadvantage, as Princess Ember had made a habit of entering battle herself whenever she could if it meant protecting her subjects and/or her Equestrian allies. It didn’t hurt that her own scepter more-or-less canceled out the effect of her Doppelganger’s, effectively removing its influence from the battle. Combined with how Little Strongheart was assisting her - her traditional Buffalo fighting style a force to reckoned with on any world, to say nothing about how her status as the Chief’s daughter gave her enough influence to occasionally call upon her own backup in the form of some of her trusted Buffalo companions - and it was like Ember had said: her Solar counterpart was simply outmatched.

Ember simply shook her head as she gazed upon her defeated doppelganger. “Perhaps now you’d be willing to discuss a revised foreign policy?”

Before she could get a reply, she was stunned to discover that several of the dragons and buffalo were suddenly buried in pudding. “What the…?

Solar Fluttershy felt her eyes grow wide in comprehension. “I know this brand of chaos anywhere…”

“Glad to know you haven't forgotten about me… old friend.”

Solar Fluttershy just groaned. “Discord, show yourself this instance!”

Discord just gave a sigh. “Part of me wants nothing more, dear Fluttershy, but alas…” ...and that was all the warning they got before he appeared before them in a bright flash of light...only to reveal that his very form was fluctuating almost beyond control. “...it seems there are some forms of chaos that even I am uncomfortable with.

Little Strongheart could only stare in shock. “Holy...what happened to you!?”

Scootaloo, having since regained consciousness, quickly began looking a little green around the gills. “I've seen some pretty disturbing things but that…” ...and that was as far as she got before running behind a rock and tossing her cookies.

Discord simply gave a helpless shrug even as Fluttershy went over to comfort the daredevil Pegasus. “Yes, I suppose this is a bit disturbing, but wise as she is, Celestia always did make the mistake of thinking that peace and quiet were one and the same. While it's true that her ‘Solar Empire’ has eliminated most crime and conventional means of disharmony, the sad truth of the matter is that her little war with Twilight Sparkle's ‘Lunar Republic’, as the public is calling it, started a chain reaction that has inevitably caused Equestria's citizens to be in such a state of panic and mistrust that the power of Harmony itself is at a tipping point.” As a show of good faith, he snapped his fingers to get rid of the pudding - fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at things, leaving the guards in a state of brain freeze, keeping them from interfering for the time being - only for a few of rocks surrounding to suddenly become giant marshmallows.

Discord could only give a disgruntled sigh. “As you can clearly see, I'm just barely hanging onto the ambient chaos created by the struggle.”

Princess Ember, having realized the seriousness of the situation, gave a determined nod. “...and the presence of doppelgangers running around probably doesn't help much.” She turned towards Little Strongheart. “Because of our past friendship, I’ll allow you to leave and seek the aid of one of the brainiacs that could potentially send my lookalike home. If I catch you interfering again, however, I will show you no mercy.”

“And if I hear that you are still helping the Solar Empress, I’ll have no choice but to take you down...and I won’t even need help from your doppelganger to do it,” Little Strongheart declared, before looking to Discord. “Uh, you can send us to somepony who can help us, right?”

Discord simply nodded. “That much I can do, but discussions will have to wait.” With a snap of his fingers, Little Strongheart and Princess Ember vanished, before the Spirit of Chaos turned towards the pony who taught him friendship. “I have to go now, Fluttershy. Nothing personal: it's just that not only do I need to get to the Tree of Harmony, as it's the only place right now that even temporarily cools down my overflowing magical might, but I can't promise that they'll have been sent someplace you'll like. Like I said, there’s a bit too much ambient chaos in the air for even me.”

Solar Fluttershy simply gave a light smile. “It's fine: go take care of them. Just out of curiosity, though, you're still able to have tea parties, right?”

Discord simply let out a laugh. “I'll have the cucumber sandwiches ready.” With that, he teleported away...right into the company of Ember and Little Strongheart, the former of which was starring in shock upon realizing that her friends were here, safe and sound. “Welcome to Resistance Headquarters.” Lunar Discord declared.

Here, Little Strongheart gained a shocked expression of her own. “You...you're fighting against Celestia?”

Discord simply smirked. “I told you I needed this senseless war to end if the Empire didn't want me tearing reality apart without even meaning to: I never said which side I wanted to win.” He then sent a kind smile in Fluttershy’s direction. “Besides, how could I pass up the chance to have tea parties with two versions of my favorite pony?” He then gave shudder. “Speaking of which, I wasn't lying to them about needing to find the Tree of Harmony, so…” With that, he teleported away.

Ember, having noticed the way everypony else was looking at her and her companion, simply gave a helpless shrug. “Don't look at me: he's not our Discord.”

Rainbow Dash simply snorted. “Well, we already knew that much.” She smiled as a certain somepony entered the room. “Meet Not-Our-Twilight.”

Lunar Twilight Sparkle couldn’t but smirk even as she levitated something over into the Element of Loyalty’s grasp. “You know, I was actually beginning to wonder how I was going to retrieve you from the Dragon Lands, Ember.”

Ember merely blinked as she noticed Rainbow swallowing a pill. “Wow: I heard that Discord had a habit of giving ponies headaches, but this…”

Rainbow just snorted. “Well, you’re not wrong, but this pill is to help me avoid a different headache later on.”

“It’s a durability enhancer,” Lunar Twilight remarked. “Five-01-AR. Using a combination of Alicorn magic and some herbs found exclusively in the Everfree Forest, it temporarily increases the strength of bone, tissue, and even magical output by a significant degree.”

“Long story short, the egghead ‘borrowed’ the recipe from Celestia,” Rainbow declared as she and everyone else sat down around a conference table that had been set up, “She can tell you the rest later if you feel the need for a nap. Guess some things are the same in every reality.”

Lunar Twilight let out a bitter chuckle. “You have no idea how much I actually missed that kind of talk, Rainbow. Anyways, my old teacher gives these to her allies: I just thought it fair to return the favor.”

“Right, her allies,” Ember declared. “I actually ran into a few of our evil twins.”

Here, Lunar Twilight shook her head. “They're not evil. Well, most of them aren't. There are some like Chrysalis who hope to take advantage of the Solar Empire’s new status on how to handle criminals, but most of them are either following Celestia out of fear or because they are convinced that she is right. To be fair, until a little over five years ago, I would have been convinced she was right too.”

“Still, it’s hard to believe you’re doing this alone,” Little Strongheart declared.

“Who said she was?”

Rarity couldn’t help but gasp upon hearing that voice. “Sweetie Belle?!”

“I realize this isn’t entirely accurate, but it’s good to see you again, sis,” Lunar Sweetie Belle - currently walking around with the assistance of a wheelchair cart - declared as she walked in beside Lunar Soarin - sporting light battle armor and a five-year-old filly at his side.

Said filly - sporting light blue fur and rainbow-color highlights in her dark blue mane - gasped upon noticing a certain Wonderbolt in the room. “MAMA!” And that was all the warning Rainbow Dash got before she was glomped by the young Pegasus. “I never thought I’d see you outside of photos!”

“Uh, Storm, sweetie, it’s not her,” Lunar Soarin awkwardly declared. “She’s one of the ponies from the other Equestria Twilight mentioned.”

“Oh, sorry,” the filly declared as she broke the hug, only to be stopped in her tracks as Rainbow placed a hoof on her shoulder.

Rainbow stared at the filly for a good while before turning towards her fellow Wonderbolt. “So, she’s…?”

Soarin simply nodded. “Her name’s Storm Chaser. Long story short, the two of us had a bit too much cider following the tragedy of Canterlot. Despite her not being planned, however, you never once acted like you regretted her existence. After you fell in battle, I’ve been doing my best to raise her the way you would have wanted.”

Rainbow looked back to the filly, giving a proud smile as she did. “I see it. I see the same fire in your eyes that I see everytime I look in the mirror. I have no doubt that you’re going to be a legend when you get older.”

Rarity couldn’t help but smile as the two shared another hug. “Aww, that’s adorable.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” Sweetie Belle said with a snort before turning to Twilight. “The Empire remains ignorant of my continued survival. Also, just got word from Shining Armor and Cadence: they’re still holding their ground at the Crystal Empire, though they’re requesting that we send some supplies their way as the Empire’s last assault on their home was a bit too close for comfort.”

“They’ll get them,” Twilight said immediately. “Any word from Sunset?”

“She’s holding up the best she can, all things considered,” was Sweetie’s reply. “Mentioned that her offer to come over and help, as well as their world’s Rainbow Dash’s offer to help look after Storm Chaser, is still there if you’re interested.”

“Tell her that as always, I appreciate it, but she and her friends are already helping me plenty by dealing with the ponies Celestia has exiled to her world, whom I’ll remind her once again don’t always deserve it. I need her to keep those ponies safe for the time being. Besides, the Empress never learned that the Crystal Mirror survived the attack on Canterlot all those years ago and she and her friends are my only line of defense if my old instructor ever decided to move on their world, especially since while Principal Celestia and Vice-Principal Luna have been doing their best to aid their former students following their graduation, I fear for what would happen if they were to run into the former’s counterpart even now,” the Princess of Friendship declared.

“Here’s hoping we can solve this crisis before that happens then, Darling,” Rarity couldn’t help but remark.

“Mah thoughts exactly, Twi. Speakin’ o’ which, y'all got an impressive set up here,” Applejack said with a grin. “But Ah reckon it weren’t cheap. How do y'all afford all this?”

“She had a little help,” Prince Blueblood - wearing a business suit and showcasing scars and/or calluses on his hooves, indicating that he had been doing some strenuous exercise and/or personally working on a few other projects on the side - said with pride as he entered the room.

“What is this?” Ember growled out.

“How are you even alive?!” Rainbow demanded even as she held “her” kid close.

“Relax, Rainbow: he’s with us,” Lunar Sweetie declared.

Lunar Prince Blueblood nodded. “Unlike your Blueblood, I never willingly aided Sombra in his plans, and other than a certain incident at the Gala, I don’t have any other blemishes on my record. Celestia doesn’t even suspect that her favorite nephew is secretly funding the resistance effort. Besides, I highly doubt my counterpart would be pleased to learn what Celestia has done over the past few years.”

Lunar Twilight nodded even as everypony sat down. “Blueblood’s involvement is a secret. as those critical of the Empire tend to disappear: activists, government officials, reporters…”

Fluttershy nodded. “Well, um, you brought us here, so you mind explaining why?”

Rainbow scoffed. “Yeah, and while you’re at it, how about explaining why you couldn't have maybe waited a few more minutes. We were kind of in the middle of something.”

Lunar Blueblood nodded. “The Soul-Binder Bomb. Don’t worry: it didn't go off. Somehow, your transfer managed to prevent it.”

Rarity gasped. “How did you...?”

Lunar Soarin smiled. “At the risk of sounding creepy, we've been monitoring your world for some time now, your group specifically.” Clearing his throat, he turned towards Sci-Twi. “Well, most of you. You were brought here by accident.”

“It’s fine,” Sci-Twi declared with an understanding nod. “I’ll help however I can regardless. This might not be my world, but there’s still plenty of innocent people...er, ponies that need protecting. Anyways, what’s the plan now?”

Lunar Twilight simply gave a nod of approval before clearing her throat. “I’m not sure how it went in your world, but here, after we had dealt with Queen Chrysalis the second time, I decided to take precautions for in case I needed to fight against any of my friends for real, either because they had succumbed to mind control or because, like Celestia now, they had fell prey to their darker impulses. One thing I developed in particular that I had originally intended for my friends to use on myself, should the need arise, will aid us greatly in the coming crisis: an Anti-Alicorn weapon that…”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Rainbow yelled out. “The way I see it, you kill Celestia and you won't be any better then she is.”

Lunar Twilight shook her head. “I didn't say it would kill her: it's meant to incapacitate, nothing more.” She then sighed. “There's just one catch: I have it stored at the Castle of Friendship and I need your help to access it…”

Meanwhile, back in Canterlot, Princess Celestia, the Solar Empress, High Councilor of her self-created Solar Empire - currently wearing a more menacing version of her royal regalia - was taking a break from her royal duties to look at some old photos, reflecting on better times, all while a medium-sized Tirek stood in a containment cell in the corner of the room, a collar similar to the one she had found controlling Discord all those years ago around the Centaur's neck.

It was around that time that Solar Applejack - having let her hair down for the moment and wearing a flowing gown - walked into the room, nodding to Tirek as she did. “The collar seems ta be working. Good. Ah reckon re-education wouldn't have worked with him.” The Solar Empress nodded in reply...before jerking a bit in surprise upon noticing what Applejack was wearing. Noticing the stares, Applejack just groaned. “Ah lost a bet with Rarity, alright?” Celestia just nodded, earning a slight frown from the farmer in response. “Are ya sure that it's okay that Applebloom is recovering here? Ah mean Twilight's the one who cast the spell that’s healing her and with the falling out ya had…”

Here, Celestia blinked, remembering their shared sensitivity when it came to family. Eventually, she gave a weak chuckle. “Believe me, that's the least of my worries: for all my failures as an instructor, Miss Sparkle really knew how to command magic…”

Solar Applejack couldn’t help but adopt a guilty expression in response. “Ah'm not trying ta sound ungrateful: Ah just…”

“I know.” She gave the granddaughter of Granny Smith a light smile. “Go on, I'll be fine: the last thing I want is you to forgo time with your family, comatose status notwithstanding…”

Solar Applejack simply gave the Empress a light grin. “Ah appreciate that.” As she turned towards the exit, however, she froze in place. “Oh, before Ah forget, Rarity's…”

“...on her way in to give her latest report.” Despite the heavy tone of their previous discussion, Celestia couldn’t help but Solar AJ a teasing grin. “You're not the only one who likes being punctual.” She gave a light grin as AJ simply nodded and continued towards the exit...just in time for Solar Rarity to make her entrance, prompting Celestia to quirk an eyebrow. “I noticed you're still trying to arrange wardrobe changes with the residents of Sweet Apple Acres…”

Solar Rarity simply shrugged by way of response. “Well, I had some time, and you have to admit that she pulled the look off quite well.” Here, Celestia simply rolled her eyes in amusement.

“Anyways, we might have a problem,” Rarity went on to declare. “I’ve gotten reports of a disruption in the treaty negotiations with the Dragon Lands...but more to the point, while on my daily patrol, I ran into some ponies that could pass for Fluttershy and Applejack’s twin sisters, a Pegasus that looked a lot like Rainbow Dash...and the Element of Generosity.”

Needless to say, the Solar Empress found herself perking up at that last part, before gaining a stern glare. “Gather up as much information as you can and then bring in them and any others you might find for questioning. I want to know if this was an accident...or if my EX-student is finally coming out of hiding…"

To Be Continued

Author's Note:

Special thanks to Comickook for the suggestions in the dialogue. 😊

Anyways, in case the last chapter didn’t make it clear, this story is not going to be a copy-paste of the original game’s plot. There are going to be some changes thrown in here and there. Some will be rather subtle, while others...not so much, and needless to say, not all allegiances will be clear right off the bat. That said, however, there is a method to my madness, so please keep that in mind as we continue to go forward.

Also, just for fun, even though this takes place before the Season 7 premiere, every so often I’m going to be throwing in an Easter Egg of a character or event that took place during or after said event. In fact, there’s one in this very chapter. I look forward to seeing how many of you are able to find it. ;)