• Published 5th Sep 2012
  • 12,214 Views, 365 Comments

Lunar Liability - Carpetbagger

Big Macintosh saves Princess Luna's life and she enacts a code that binds her to being his servant.

  • ...

Repaying a Debt

The insurance office within city hall was exactly as Big Macintosh remembered. Despite the claims claims of it being the highest grossing agency in Equestria, it was run out of an obviously rented space, no bigger than his bedroom. At least the square measurements alluded to that. In actuality, most of the office was taken up with wall to wall filing cabinets, two chairs and a desk in the rooms center, flooded with disheveled folders. Trying to take his mind off of the mixture of strong coffee and eye stinging cigarette smoke sucking the oxygen out of the windowless room, Big Macintosh turned his attention to the agent sitting behind the cluttered desk, feverishly searching through paperwork. For some reason, he could never remember the unicorn's name. Maybe because there haven't been any reasons to file a significant claim. The Cutie Mark Crusaders could do their fair share of property damage from time to time, but nothing as drastic as destroying his source of income in one swoop. The agent let out a cough which drew Big Macintosh out of his thought pattern.

"I'm sorry mister...uhhh... Apple?" The agent trailed off, sneaking peeks at his paperwork. "From the information you gave me, Sweet... uhh... (where is it? Ah!) Sweet Apple Acres isn't covered for falling stars."

"Then what about the fire? Ah know we're covered for fires." Big Macintosh said. The agent sighed and flipped through the folder once more.

"Yes, you're completely covered for fires, but-" The unicorn trailed off, shuffling through papers.

"But what?" The draft pony retorted, slightly aggitated. The agent picked up two sets of papers and held another in front of his face in a red magical aura.

"Well, you see, even though your... your... (What was it again?) ...your apple orchard was destroyed in the fire, the star was the source of said fire." The unicorn gathered the stacks of forms together in a folder and closed it confidently. Big Macintosh twisted his mouth and let out a snort. "Is there something wrong mister..." The agent reopened the folder once more "...Apple?"

Just then, Big Macintosh remembered the agent's name: Red Tape

"Ah feel like you're tryin' to put one over on me." The draft stallion grumbled. Red Tape scoffed and rose up from his seat in shock.

"Sir! I assure you that this is a serious matter. We can't provide compensation for preexisting damages." The unicorn said in a firm tone. He quickly brushed back a lock of greasy black mane that fell out of place during his outburst and sat back down. Big Macintosh snorted again.

"Does really it matter if the chicken or the egg came first?"

"In my line of work it does unfortunately." Red Tape said smugly. He lit up a cigarette and exhaled a puff of smoke into Big Macintosh's face forcing him to cough in reflex. Having enough, the farmer stood up and loomed over the shifty insurance agent ominously.

"All Ah know is Ah got my livelihood burnt to the ground back home and the only thing standing between me and feeding my family are you and what's in that file. Now, who's flank do Ah gotta kick to get some results round' here? Yours or that folder?"

Startled, the agent stared blankly at Big Macintosh. "I-I'm sorry, but I can't compensate you for anything you're not covered for. It's right here in your file." Red explained, holding the thick folder up as if it were a shield. Big Macintosh let out a defeated groan and sat down again shifting his glance between the Red Tape and the stack of files.

"Then would'ja kindly show me where the flank is on that folder then?"

"What am Ah gonna do?" Big Macintosh sighed.

The farmer was leaning against the fence that lined Sweet Apple Acres. The cool night air ran through his coat but it didn't do so much as draw a shiver. The lingering frustration of dealing with his insurance agent was more than enough to keep him warm. Lucky, Caramel and Buckhaur looked at Big Macintosh, speechless from the tale he just told. While the farmer continued to look up into the night sky, his friends whispered amongst themselves until Lucky decide to break the silence.

"How did Granny Smith take the news?" Lucky asked in a comforting tone, staring down into his mug of cider. Big Macintosh exhaled heavily, laying his head down on his folded forelegs.

"Honestly, Ah ain't really seen Granny since last night. Apple Bloom said she caught her looking out the window this mornin, but that's about it."

"Don't worry, she'll come around eventually." Lucky added, scratching the back of his neck nervously. "You should probably cancel that insurance coverage too. So much for saving fifteen minutes."

"Yeah man, got dang ol' gecko talkin' all fancy. If it's too good to be true... Like dat sharply dressed guy with all dem scars on his face man. Gotta protect yourself from mayhem like dem... Down right disgrace man." Buckhauer lamented before taking a swig of cider.

"Yeah, Buckhaur is right." Lucky added.

Big Macintosh barely acknowledged Buckhaur's advice and simply looked up despondently at the stars. Buckhaur and Lucky took turns poking Caramel until he worked up the nerve to say something. The light brown stallion twisted his face up while trying to find a way to change the subject.

"Well... uh, at least it's a nice night huh? Looks like you're keeping Luna happy.

Both Lucky and Buckhaur stared at Caramel as if he sprouted a second head. He looked back at the pair and realized his blunder just before Big Macintosh lowered himself to all fours. Caramel flinched at the sight of the approaching farmer but looked relieved when Big Macintosh made for the barrel of cider to fill his mug. The draft pony took a few gulps and looked at the trio.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"N-Nothing..." Caramel stammered. He grew ridged at the thought of bringing up the princess. Lucky let out a small burp and threw in his two bits.

"Come on, it's not like it's a secret or anything. We heard all about you and Luna."

"Me an' Luna- whut in the hay? Who told y'all that?"

Caramel and Lucky both looked around sheepishly. Big Macintosh took a few moments to consider their sources and narrowed his green eyes. "Rarity talks too much..." He grumbled from behind a gulp of cider. A bit frazzled by the accusation he began pacing back and forth explaining the situation. "It ain't even like that. Ah just happened to save her life. Now she feels like she owes me somethin' for it. Ah'd do the same for anypony." Big Macintosh took another gulp from his mug but nearly choked.

♪Luna and Big Mac sitting in a tree...♪ Caramel sang lowly while elbowing Lucky. Big Macintosh didn't look the slightest bit amused.

"Caramel! Ah swear to Celestia, if you finish that rhyme Ah'll kick you so hard, your grand foals will have horseshoe cutie marks." Big Macintosh threatened. He smiled to himself at the sudden silence and took another sip of cider.

♪...K-I-S-S-I-N-♪ "Waugh!"

"That's it! C'mere!" The draft pony shouted. He took a few charging steps towards Caramel startling him enough let out a very unmasculine yelp and running into town. Lucky and Buckhaur leaned against each other, nearly breathless from laughing. Big Macintosh took another gulp of his drink while trying not to break out laughing himself.

"Look at him go!" Lucky chortled, wiping a tear from his eye. He regained his composure and turned to Big Macintosh. "You feeling any better big guy?" The farmer took a deep breath and gave an assuring nod.


"Good to hear. Last thing you want to do in times like this is lose your cool." Lucky said, raising his mug in a celebratory manner. "You up for a few more rounds?"

"Nnope." Big Macintosh sighed and looking up at the moon. Judging by its, position, it was getting late. "Ah'm gonna call it a night. Just make sure y'all clean up when you're done." He added, tapping the nearly empty barrel propped against the fence. Both Lucky and Buckhauer nodded as Big Macintosh made his way to the house.

"Same time tomorrow?" Lucky called out.


Big Macintosh made his way up the dirt path. Suddenly, he stopped half way up the road and felt a cold chill. Darting his eyes upwards, he could have sworn somepony was watching him. Blaming it on stress and cider, he gave up and turned his attention on getting some much needed rest.

High up on the farmhouse's rooftop Princess Luna laid on her back breathing deeply from almost being spotted. She had plans for the night and the last thing she needed was for her new master to spoil the surprise. Rolling over on her belly, she scooted closer to the roof's edge and watched the crimson mass of muscle approach the front patio. A coy smile formed across the alicorn's lips as some very primal thoughts invaded her mind. She thought of a simpler time where somepony of his size would make an excellent warrior. If he had bested her in battle, Luna would have no objection to becoming his-

"Your highnesss?" Facade whispered rising from the chimney.

Princess Luna let out a squeak and desperately scuttled her hooves wildly, nearly sliding off steep incline. Regaining her footing, she gave the shrouded unicorn an annoyed scowl.

"Facade! You nearly gave us a heart attack!" Luna growled in a progressively loud whisper. Facade bowed apologetically, but then raised an eyebrow in concern.

"I've never ssstartled you before. What were you doing?" The robed mare inquired.

"N-Nothing, nothing at all. We were just..." Luna looked up to the sky, hiding her embarrassment. "... testing Andromeda's integrity. We would not want a repeat of last night." The princess lied.

In a posture that exuded confidence, Luna marched to the other side of roof and looked over the edge. As far as the eye could see, endless rows of hills still smoldered with cosmic heat. The decimated farmland was blackened beyond recognition with a large crater that was still smoking from the night before. It would take quite a bit of work for the moon princess to fulfill her promise to the Apple family. But she had the resources to do so.

"Shall we begin?" Luna asked, looking back at her assistant.

"Yesss your highnesss." Facade said, tilting her horn directly at the moon. Luna took a step back and watched tentatively as a ball of light gathered at the tip of her assistant's appendage. The wind around them picked up, flowing under Facade's robes, rippling them like waves in an ocean. Taking one final deep breath, Facade launched the orb of energy upwards.

Both mares looked to the night sky expectantly until a faint glint of light could be seen from the moon. Clouds in the night sky parted almost as if they were retreating from what Luna's former prison was about to release. The nightly beacon grew alive with light as a fine beam dropped from the sky. The Princess and Facade had to shield their eyes from the impact point before them. Strong winds, dust and debris kicked up all around them, and in one final flash of light, everything fell silent. Luna approached the edge of the roof top and smiled at the seemingly endless sea of glowing yellow eyes staring back up at the royal alicorn.

Meanwhile in Canterlot, two well dressed unicorns sat at a table outside from the local Starbits. They were nearly identical, almost like brother and sister. The same powder grey coats and identical combed back, shiny black manes. They even wore same black blazers and matching black ties with matching sunglasses and earpiece, standard issue of course.

"...but then we went back to find that mysterious blue shed, it was gone again. The only thing left behind was a half eaten banana muffin." The stallion of the pair concluded before sipping at his coffee. The mare gave a restrained grin to hide her excitement.

"You never cease to amaze me Agent Benson. I always thought that blue box was just an urban legend." The mare said with a grin. Benson frowned and folded his arms.

"Almost forgot how green you are, Hedges." Benson replied while pausing to savor a sip of coffee. "Don't you realize that it's our job to make sure these things remain as myths and legends to the public. If-"

"I know, I know..." Hedges interrupted, waving dismissively. "If everypony knew about half the stuff we deal with, how could they continue living their everyday lives peacefully?"

"Spoken like a true prodigy." Benson said with a nod of approval. Just as he placed his mug on the table, both ponies' earpieces began to crackle with life.

"Agent Benson! Agent Hedges! Do you copy?" A voice called out, shrouded behind static. "We just picked up an energy signal not too far from your position. It was a bit difficult to track, but it's a positive match!"

Benson rose up from his seat and tossed a few bits on the table before trotting away. Hedges took a quick bite of her salad and chased after the stallion while wiping her mouth.

"Energy signal? Positive match? Sir, what's going on?" Hedges asked, still chewing. Benson continued walking, but waited for his partner to catch up before speaking.

"Tell me everything you know about the mare in the moon."

"Vivas Noctus! Vivas Noctus! Vivas Noctus! Vivas Noctus! Vivas Noctus! Vivas Noctus!"

The formation of shadowy figures chanted from below Princess Luna's gaze. Metal clanged in unison from the collective salutes given by the armored ponies of the night. They were her most loyal of subjects, her personal army, the Lunar Gaurd. Luna took it all in almost lost in the moment.

"Vivas Noctus! Vivas Noctus! Vivas Noctus! Vivas Noctus! Vivas Noctus! Vivas Noctus!"

The respect, the admiration, the sense of pride. Luna couldn't remember the last time anypony gave such praise since her return. All of Equestria avoided their princess of the night like a leper. Even the castle staff were afraid to make eye contact. Proudly puffing her chest out, she let them continue.

"Vivas Noctus! Vivas Noctus! Vivas Noctus! Vivas Noctus! Vivas Noctus! Vivas Noctus!"

"Princesss? Maybe we ssshould take it down a notch." Facade whispered into the Alicorn's ear. The realization of the situation nearly floored Luna. They were getting too rowdy, too loud. Raising a front hoof, a simple gesture, the rows of soldiers fell silent. Just to make sure their cover wasn't blown, Luna stooped down and laid an ear on the roof. Aside from Granny Smith's snoring, the house was silent. Satisified, she rose to her hooves once more and placed a hoof against her lips.


The sea of glowing eyes blinked multiple times. Heads turned to their neighbors, shoulders shrugged. There were even occasional murmurs shared amongst the bolder soldiers. Taking advantage of the situation, the princess leaped from the roof, gracefully gliding to the ground before her confused guards. As Luna approached, the soldiers snapped back to attention and split into two formations that faced the monarch from either side. Unfortunately the motion gave out a loud collective clang of metal that made Luna flinch. Concerned, she looked back at the house and let out a relieved sigh that the lights were still off. Confident that things were still going as planned, Luna ran a hoof through her now frazzled mane and continued on her path through the makeshift hallway of guards.

"Our Loayal Lun-" Luna paused, biting her lip. She gave nervous glance at the Apple house before continuing in a whisper "We mean, loyal Lunar Stallions... We hath summoned thee for a mission of grave importance..."

"You hear that? After all these years, we finally get some action." An excited stallion in black armor whispered at the far end of the split formation.

"I'll believe it when I see it, Ramjet." A night stallion in purple armor shot back in disinterest.

"You always say that, Thundercracker. Luna is our princess, her word is law." Ramjet retorted.

"Pffft, I know, I know. We swore an oath to blindly follow her every command. At least the pay is good." Thundercracker dismissed, with a light snort.

"Silence, our fearless leader is still talking." A screechy voiced stallion in red armor demanded.

"Uhh... not anymore, Starscream." Ramjet countered while darting his eyes to the front of the formation. She's looking right at us. I think she wants us to come forward."

"How can you tell? She's been whispering the whole time." Starscream grumbled while cocking his ears in the princess' direction.

"Because I can read lips, she just said..."

"...Starscream, Ramjet, Thundercracker, come forth." Luna whispered a second time. The alicorn looked back at Facade, who simply shrugged her shoulders. The three ponies in question approached and bowed graciously at the Princess Luna's hooves.

"Strarscream, Ramjet, and Thundercracker..." Luna began. "You seeker brothers three are our most trusted generals. Prime candidates to lead this mission."

"What is it you wish of us, your highness?" Ramjet interrupted, while rising to his hooves. "Is it time to clean up Neighazi?" With a wild look in his eyes, he produced a sharp piano wire and tugged it between his front hooves with a menacing grin. Starscream and Thundercracker couldn't help but roll their eyes.

"What? N-no..." Luna stammered, taking a step back.

"Darn, maybe next time." Ramjet sighed, he looked up at the Apple house and smiled. "Oh, I know. Is there a V.I.P. that we need to silence?" His fanged grin grew even wider as his left eye twitched.

"Heavens no!" Luna exclaimed, nearly wilting at the overly eager stallion's presence. "Wait, that's it! Thy mission does involve an ambassador. Lord Macintosh of... of..." The alicorn nervously scratched the nape of her neck. Thinking quickly, Facade loomed over and whispered into the princess' ear. Luna backed away and raised an eyebrow at the robed unicorn in which she responded by nodding in a sagely manner. Taking a deep breath, the night princess took a confident step forward and thrust her wings outward for a much needed dramatic effect.

"This shall be the most important mission of thy career. Lord Macintosh Apple, ambassador of the..." Luna couldn't help but pause and give Facade another questioning glare. The assistant swirled her hoof, beckoning the moon princess to continue. "...nation of Sweet Apple requests our aid in restoring their damaged crops. Thy mission is to restore this farmland to its former glory."

"That's... it?" The trio asked, nearly deflating. Still in the moment, Luna took the chance to assert her authority.

"Dost thou question us?" Luna smirked, subconsciously going back into her ancient dialect. The three generals exchanged glances and split the small army of night ponies into separate squads to take off to Celestia knows where. Once the last of the her guards cleared the horizon, Luna plopped down on her haunches and exhaled a breath of relief.

"Facade? How did you know that would work?" The princess asked, looking physically drained. "We don't remember our guards being... so eager for bloodshed."

"It'sss been quit a while your highnesss." Facade sighed, looking upward. Luna followed her assistant's gaze at the sea of bat like wings disappearing of in the distance.

Unlike bustling cities like Manehattin and Las Pegasus, Ponyville had a somewhat early curfew. There was little to no nightlife aside from a certain farmer and his three friends. This made it quite easy for the lunar stallions to traverse over the quiet town undetected. Taking the lead, Ramjet directed the three squads of soldiers to break off into search parties.

Ramjet seemed to be the most enthusiastic of the three generals, because he was. Whether it was a covert mission, protecting an ambassador, or 'silencing' those who spoke ill of the moon princess, Ramjet took pride in his work. Sometimes a little too much pride since his brothers would have to keep him in check. His dedication had a habit of clouding his judgement.

Starscream, the most ambitious of the triplets, had a different perspective on things. He did what was ordered, but his loyalties lied somewhere more specific than just Princess Luna. Until that anomaly within the chain of command could be 'resolved,' he did what was needed. This always put him at odds with the blindly loyal Ramjet.

Thundercracker never seemed to care. Even though he followed orders, his heart was never really into it. It was always a shock to his brothers when he joined the lunar guard, but his gift for strategy proved to be a valuable asset. There had even been rumors that Thundercracker was being considered for the next captain. But that's what they remained as, just rumors because he lacked the ambition to pursue it.

"Hey! wait a second!" Thundercracker called out. Ramjet and Starscream flapped to an immediate halt. "What exactly are we supposed to do? Last I checked..." The purple armor clad night pony looked around at his brothers. "...none of us are earth ponies."

"Who said anything about farming?" Ramjet chuckled ominously. He thrust his forehooves outward until a pair of hidden blades popped out from under his gilded hooves. "I was going to shake down an apple cart."

"Put those away you idiot!" Starscream scolded. "Can we go on one mission without you threatening somepony?!"

Ramjet folded his forelegs and tapped the scar under his left eye thoughtfully. "Nope."

Starscream let out a cry of frustration and grabbed Ramjet by his collar and shook the black armored stallion violently. "This is why you'll never make captain! You never stop and think about consequences."

"And you care too much about becoming captain to get results." Ramjet shot back with a crazed grin.

"At least I still remember who we should be taking orders from!" Starscream shouted, pushing his brother away.

"You take that back Starscream!"

"Make me!"

"With pleasure!"

Thundercracker put a hoof to his forehead. "Not this again..."

Suddenly a lone of lunar guard approached the bickering trio and saluted. "Sir! I think we found something..."

"Well how do you like them apples?" Ramjet chuckled while gliding down to a rocky cliff his brothers were perched on.

Starscream and Thundercracker shook their heads and focused back on the fields before them. Endless rows of apple trees extended as far as the eye could see. Maybe even further. Given vast desert on the opposing side of the mountain ridge, it was a miracle that anything could grow this far out west. But the three generals knew that strangers things have happened.

"So..." Ramjet began. "What's the plan?"

Starescream gave the black armored night pegasus a look of shock. "What? You told me I never think about consequences."

"Well, since this crop is too big to belong to that village over there..." Thundercracker thought out loud while pointing to a nomadic settlement deeper in the desert. "I say we take as many trees as we can carry."

"Works for me." Ramjet agreed while stretching his leathery wings out.

"Maybe we can get back in time for breakfast." Starscream added, looking up at the moon. Thundercracker nodded and took to the air, signaling the army of night pegasi behind them to get to work.

"Braeburn! Are you okay?" A young female voice called out.

"Ah... think so" Braeburn managed to say while being pulled back into reality, he shook his head and looked around to regain his bearings. He remembered visiting with Little Strongheart and being asked to go camping with her in the desert. Braeburn looked down at the female buffalo resting her head against his chest and forced a reassuring smile. Little Strongheart returned an unsatisfied frown that drew a sigh out of the earth pony.

"Ah don't know how to explain it. But fer' a moment, Ah felt like Ah was... connected to the earth."

"Really?" Little Strongheart asked, stroking a hoof against his chest. "What did you feel?"

Braeburn laid his head back down and stared up at the stars.

"Ah felt a great disturbance in the earth, as if thousands of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. Ah fear something terrible has happened."