• Published 11th Jul 2020
  • 690 Views, 12 Comments

All Right! Who Touched The War-Map?! - Anonymous Potato



Queen Chrysalis is attacking Canterlot! Now, if only somepony would stop playing with the map-pieces...

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STOP NICKING THE MAP-PIECES, FOR CELESTIA'S SAKE!

Upon the cliff-face of a mountain, where dreams pale in the face of reality, one inconspicuous building served as a battlefront whereupon the fate of a million ponies was decided. It was a day adolescents would someday learn of in school if they had nothing better to do.

It all began with the joyful sounds of bickering.

Don’t touch that!” a voice hissed behind the closed door, “get down from there!

Oh, don’t be such a worrywart. There’s nopony here,” another hushed voice protested back.

The Princess will be soon, and we can’t let her see us out of line. Now, stop playing with the stupid dolls!

They’re action figures!

I don’t care what they are!” Steel clanked alarmedly. ”You’re supposed to be a royal guard. Act like one!”

But—

Quiet! Somepony’s coming!

With much grinding, the door opened on its seldom-used hinges.

In the light of the morning streaming in, she stood. Her silky mane fluttered in the air as if caressed by a nonexistent breeze. Her hooves were light as raindrops on the linoleum. The smile on her face shone with at least three shades of benevolence, yet, as she stepped inside, and looked around, that pleasant expression on Princess Celestia’s face soon turned confused.

The room, which was octagonal in shape—implying that the architect would likely have fared better as a mathematician—was curiously devoid of occupants. If one neglected to count the skylight, there was only a single entrance, and she was standing in it, in between two of her royal guards.

…One of whom was clenching their jaw, while the other was trying, and failing, to inconspicuously caress their shoulder. There was nopony else.

The door had begun to close on its own when a voice called out from behind her. “Princess!”

Celestia turned around in time to witness a middle-aged unicorn stallion speed indoors, trip on his loose uniform, and then slide on his stomach all the way to her feet. She blinked and pursed her lips. “Colonel—?”

“Princess Celestia! Your Highness!” The stallion panted for breath. “Thank the heavens you received my message! You’re just in—hng—time!” He got back up on all-fours, all the while voicing his frustration over an aching hip that he probably intended the Princess not to hear.

He completely failed to notice her flush at the more colorful expressions he used. “Do you need any help, Colonel?”

“No, no, I am perfectly fine, your Highness.” The stallion drew himself up to his full height, which caused his spine to crack horribly. “Please, follow me,” he pleaded, “we have much to discuss, and very little time.”

The stallion began to shuffle stiffly forward. Princess Celestia trotted in his wake.

What the room lacked in inhabitants, it failed to make up in furnishings as well. In the middle, where he was leading her, was the sole piece of furniture in the entire room: an ordinary, if on the larger side, round table.

The Colonel leaned against it and rubbed his back. “My informant appears to be running late. I’m terribly sorry for the inconvenience.”

“That’s quite alright. I hope,” Celestia added, a carefully neutral expression on her muzzle, “if the situation is indeed as dire as your message implied, Colonel—”

“Oh, it is!” he interrupted. “If we do not act accordingly, Canterlot—Nay, all of Equestria, will fall!”

Princess Celestia scowled. “This is indeed serious. Who could possibly—”

“Yes, very serious, indeed.” The Colonel squinted as if he was trying to light a fire with only his gaze.

Keyword being ‘trying’. Celestia wouldn’t have rated it a one out of ten, even if he’d met her eyes.

“I see,” she said. “You’re not going to tell me anything before this informant of yours arrives, are you?”

The Colonel's response came out so curtly, it could only have been rehearsed. “I’m not authorized to answer that. It’s classified.”

Princess Celestia didn’t sigh, though it certainly would’ve seemed that way to anyone present.

Somepony coughed. Before Celestia could turn around and find out who, it was followed by the altogether different sound of hoof connecting with something squishy.

By the doorway, the two of her royal guards were standing at attention, like the best of her soldiers. The one on the left had a look of violently murderous intent in her eyes, while the one on the right was standing on only three of his legs, with both his chest and his cheeks puffed out. His face was beginning to turn purple.

Perfectly normal.

“May I ask you something, Colonel?”

The stallion looked like somepony had dipped him in bleach. “Is it about something serious?”

Princess Celestia closed her eyes, and refrained from sighing again. “No." She chose to likewise ignore him exhaling as if he’d just been relieved from escorting her nephew.

“Then go ahead, your highness.”

“Thank you.” She waved her hoof over the table. Laid out thereon was what appeared to be a miniature scale model of sorts; Celestia could pick out familiar monuments and landmarks, the most notable of which was a tell-tale mountain spike. Little toy soldiers were peppered all over it like toppings on a pizza, only less edible, she suspected. “The map here seems to represent Equestria. These models then...am I correct in assuming they represent the Equestrian standing army and their position?”

The Colonel nodded. Celestia peered in, almost close enough to smell the plastic on one very peculiar-looking model.

“Why do you have my sister in here?”

Since she’d half expected it, she was prepared to patiently wait out the awkward silence that followed. It lasted for far longer than it had any right to.

“It’s because Princess Luna, she, well...” The stallion gulped, unnaturally white in the face again. “She’s a part of the 1st Field Artillery.”

Princess Celestia’s head rose from the table, slowly. She turned to the stallion, and the full brunt of her gaze drilled into his eyes. Unfortunately for him, the scale they use to measure alicorn stares goes up to a hundred.

“You drafted my sister?”

She’d spoken with similar polite inflection if she were asking for directions. The destination, in this case, was most likely going to be on the moon. “She’s a guard?”

The Colonel perspired heavily. There was already a pool of it under his hind legs. “No, she, uh...” He sucked in a breath. “She’s the cannon.”

“Excuse me?”

THESE JAFFA-CAKES ARE EXEMPLARY! FETCH ME THE BAKER!

It remains a monument to unicorn engineering that the city of Canterlot still stands despite the more than occasional earthquake, avalanche, and sudden shortage of cheesecakes. The entire building may have shaken from Princess Luna’s distant shout, but the only damage had been to the ponies’ hearing.

Once the reverberations subsided, Princess Celestia nodded sagely. “Point taken,” she conceded. “But may I inquire as to why you have a miniature Twilight as well?”

SPIIIKE!”

“Your sister’s been teaching her,” the Colonel responded, once he had re-regained his balance. “The army’s been tasked with supplying the populace with earplugs once the current crisis has been dealt with.”

Princess Celestia nodded again. It was relieving to know that despite possibly inevitable destruction, at least their populace would not be suffering from royal tinnitus.

Now left with nothing else to discuss, the two ponies waited out the clock. The Colonel did so with out-of-key humming, Celestia by mentally going through various flavors of cheesecake.

She managed to restrain herself before she could grow hungry. “Colonel, when exactly are we expected to meet this informant of yours?”

“Oh, I’m already here.”

Princess Celestia whirled around. Dignity be damned.

There was nopony there. Nothing had changed, except for the wide eyes on the faces of her two guards, who were now staring intently at the nondescript cardboard box in front of the door.

Also, there was a nondescript cardboard box sitting in the doorway.

Ahh, Operative Adder,” the Colonel said through his teeth. “So good you could finally join us.

“Sorry for being tardy, your highness,” the box answered. A head popped out at the top. “I was preoccupied.”

The Operative was apparently a stallion in his mid-to-late-thirties. His face bore both scars and a five o’clock shadow, while a mullet-and-a-sash combination completed the rugged, gritty look. And just as much as he looked the part, he sounded like he’d been born with a cigar in the corner of his lip, too.

Celestia nodded in greeting. “Well met, Mr. Adder.”

“Your highness.” The Operative bowed his head, once he was close enough for it to be socially acceptable—as socially acceptable for a pony half embedded in a cardboard box, that is.

Speaking of... “If I may be so blunt as to inquire, why are you sitting in a cardboard box, Mr. Adder?” Celestia asked.

The stallion did not seem put off in the least. “Oh, that,“ he replied, as off-hoofedly as was just about possible. It made the newspaper colt’s comment about the weather seem like the most interesting thing ever. “Subterfuge.”

She quirked an eyebrow. “Subterfuge?”

You know.” A forehoof wiggled out of the box to wave in the air descriptively. “So a spy wouldn’t be seen.”

Celestia hummed in thought. It made sense.

Except it didn’t.

“Wouldn’t it be more effective to hide underneath it, then?”

To an inexperienced spectator, it might have appeared as if the Operative’s pupils had shrunk comically. “Uhh,” he mumbled. “Wardrobe malfunction?”

“We don’t wear clothes, Mr. Adder.”

“What is this, the interrogation room?!” He hung his head in defeat. “...I like boxes.”

The Princess peered around the very much homeless-looking pony, as well as his little container, and the most peculiar marks of wear and tear. “And the scuff marks—?”

“No more questions! We’re here on a matter of national security, and we don’t have time to waste,” the stallion barked, and hopped over to the map.

The Operative's forehoof withdrew into the confines of his box and fished out an extraordinarily black token, which he then proceeded to slam onto the board. Thereupon, Celestia realized, several others had already been placed in similar seemingly haphazard fashion.

Her hoof ground into the floor. These carapaced creatures resembled her subjects only in shape. They were beings that could sour a day faster than the castle’s baker taking a sick-leave.

“Your Highness, I regret having to inform you the situation is most dire.” Adder swept his hoof over the board. “Changeling infiltrators have been popping up in the areas neighboring the Capital. Such an increase in changeling activity can only mean one thing:” He hid his expression in a grievous frown. “Queen Chrysalis is on the move.”

Celestia sighed. She should’ve known. “Go on.”

“By our estimates, these infiltrators can be dealt with minimal casualties by tomorrow morning.”

Celestia waited patiently for him to continue. She was understandably confused when he didn’t. “I’m sorry to say this, but I don’t quite understand how the situation counts as dire.”

“These scouting parties are nothing but a diversion,” the Colonel budded in, “Chrysalis knows she can no longer win by infiltration alone and is likely resorting to brute force. They are no doubt massing an all-out attack—one we fear is coming soon.”

Celestia felt her heartbeat quicken. “How soon?”

The two stallions shared a brief look, at the end of which they nodded. “Today,” they replied in unison.

Celestia gasped. She would have to cancel her tea-time.

Her brow furrowed. The temperature in the room might have risen a few degrees.

No-one messed with the tea-time.

“How many?”

“The entire changeling race.”

Immediately one of Celestia’s eyebrows shot back up. “And what exactly clued you in on that conclusion?”

“Their hive was empty.”

“I see…” It’s not at all common to catch her Highness off guard but, I can assure you, this was just an exception among many others. “And you don’t know where they...?”

“Nope.”

“Huh,” she finished eloquently.

Princess Celestia hummed once.

She hummed twice.

She smacked her lips.

Then she hummed some more.

Finally, she opened her mouth.

“Correct me if I am wrong, Colonel, but am I to understand that you, the very best in Equestrian Military Intelligence, have, in fact, misplaced several million changelings?”

The Colonel didn’t respond.

He did his best to try, though. Several times, in fact. It was just that his words kept dying in his mouth before any of them had a chance to come out.

...Which kind of made him look like a blowfish. Operative Adder came galloping to his rescue.

“To be fair, your highness, that is an awful lot of changelings to keep track of…”

Princess Celestia’s stare in reply was so dead-pan, all it lacked was the funeral.

Nopony said anything. A silence so absolute, one could hear their heart stop, fell upon them. The serenity was then only briefly broken when the Colonel hid his head softly in his forehooves.

Celestia barely managed to stop herself from rubbing her temples. “And I suppose you wanted me here because...?”

The Colonel withdrew his head. “We wanted to ask you, with your centuries of knowledge, in case you might have an insight as to where they could be hiding.”

Celestia noted to her own chagrin that the stallion's hoof-in-mouth disease seemed to be getting worse. The Colonel didn’t allow her to say anything condemning, however, before he dashed over to the war-map and clung to it like a life-raft.

A fly-by that swiftly turned to bombardment.

“As you can see, changelings have been spotted in these parts—” He started flinging plastic models every which way. “Grr! The pieces are all wrong!”

Celestia laid her head against the table. “... two days ago, a changeling was spotted here, stealing a…” the Colonel rambled, but she’d stopped paying attention.

She really needed that tea-time.

Celestia listlessly raised her gaze an inch off the mahogany table. Then her eyes widened. Her lips puckered. Like a halo shining over it, she'd found something that piqued her interest.

“What about this one?” she asked, all the while pointing at it.

But the Colonel gave it only a passing glance. “Oh, Princess, don’t be ridiculous.” He rolled his eyes. “There’s no way the changelings could ever climb over Mt. Canterhorn—”

The Colonel froze in his tracks. It looked like his entire life, or possibly a feature film, was flashing before his eyes. Then almost instantaneously, which should have been impossible for a stallion half his age, he appeared nary a hair’s width from where she was pointing.

There, standing atop the miniature mountain, indeed was a changeling figurine. “Good heavens.” His mouth seemed to have been set on autopilot. “They’re pulling a Haynnibale. How did none of us catch that?!”

Once again surprising the Princess, as well as his disheveled colleague, the stallion materialized beside Operative Adder. He grabbed the agent by the shoulders and started spewing orders at him like saliva.

Princess Celestia took a sudden interest in the skylight. You’d think that having lived for several thousand years, you’d have heard everything, but she was once again proven wrong.

That, and there really were some words that should not be said around mares. When she dared to look down again, the Colonel was leaning on his forehooves and panting heavily. His colleague was nowhere to be found.

“The capital is saved.” The aforementioned forehooves rose towards the roof. ”Praise Celestia!”

Princess Celestia blinked. “...You’re welcome?”

The Colonel flinched and wheeled around, and was promptly taken by a chuckling fit. “Ho-ho-ho, Princess! You truly are as funny as you are cunning. After all, was it not you who placed that changeling-tack there?”

“What?” Celestia’s eyes furrowed again. “Colonel, I did not—!”

“Oh, Princess, don’t play coy. It wasn't me, and it certainly wasn't my action-oriented subordinate,” the Colonel mock-chided her and waved his hooves around. “And there’s nopony else here! It could only have been you!”

“But, Colonel, I assure you I didn't—”

“Truly, your eye for tactic has no peer. I shall make it my goal that your legacy continues to be taught in military schools through the eons!” The stallion turned on his heels. “Now, come. There is a battle to be won, and afterward, a celebration the likes of which the city will never get to see again!”

Celestia sighed and followed suit as the stallion marched straight out of the room. The door banged shut behind them.

Once they were certain the Princess was well out of earshot, the two “royal guards” dropped their disguises in bouts of green flame.

The two changelings stood, mirroring one another. Both wore matching expressions of incredulity on their faces and had their eyes locked on the one incriminating miniature model still perched atop Mt. Canterhorn—the model which unmistakably looked like it was just about to merrily skinny-dip down the mountain.

The one on the left stepped in front of the other. She grinned at him with unblinking eyes and twitching eyebrows. “Now,” she whispered, “what did I tell you about playing with the stupid dolls?!”

The other chuckled nervously. “Oops?”

Author's Note:

Thank you for reading

Comments ( 12 )

Umm... ... ... What?

10327649

I don't even know. Thank you for reading and commenting, I appreciate it.

...ok so... The changelings were covering up the dact that... they were messing with Celestia's stuff?
Did I get that right?

10360328

One of the changelings used the map as a toy. That's why all the models were in the wrong place. What the two undercover changelings were supposed to be doing isn't really explained, which, in hindsight, I probably should have done.

Thank you for commenting, it helps out a lot ^^

10360478
So that's how they knew the hive was gonna be above canterlot makes sense though I think the fact Luna is a cannon is hilarious

10433760

Yup. Also Royal Canterlot Voice op :trollestia:

Thanks for reading and commenting ^^ Have a pleasant day.

10433828
Anytime I found it funny I wonder if the ling was Kevin ponyvilles resident changeling

10433876

... I'm not authorized to answer that. It's classified. :trollestia:

10433884
So that's a yes then since your neither allowed to confirm or deny it which is a often used way to say yes but I can't say yes or I'm fired

This was confusing but hilarious. :rainbowlaugh:

10923002
I'm sorry for making the story a bit too confusing, but I'm glad that you read :twilightsmile: I hope you still enjoyed it.

That. Was something. Yes it was.

And ... the power of the right toy line. Yes, it fits the world so well.

... Part of me wants to know, what did I just read, but I think I know too well what I just read.

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