• Published 8th Jul 2021
  • 1,701 Views, 50 Comments

A Moon and World Together - Evilhumour

With the Royal Sisters reconciled at last, Equestria and the Lunar Republic continue their journey towards a peaceful alliance.

  • ...

Chapter Three

Chapter Three

Scootaloo's ears perked up as she entered the house for lunch, hearing voices inside. "I'm home!" she called out before her eyes widened in surprise at the sight before her. "Mom, dad! You're here!"

Laughing, the other two ponies came over to greet her. "How's it going?" Snap Shutter asked, reaching out to ruffle her mane.

"Ah, you know..." Scootaloo blushed as she leaned into her dad. "About the usual." Her ears drooped. "I miss having Rainbow Dash around though." She hadn't seen her big sister figure in a little over a week, since the day of the Summer Sun Celebration when she'd gone to the moon with her friends, and she knew Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom were both missing their sisters too.

"We know, sweetie," her aunt Holiday said as she came over, the Earth pony mare giving her a friendly smile. "But that's part of why my little brother and your mom are back."

Scootaloo's ears perked up again. "Really?"

"Really," her mother, Mane Allgood said. The pegasus mare smiled and reached down to pull her into a hug of her own before she continued. "About a week ago, your father and I got a message from the Princesses asking us to come back home, and they said it had something to do with both you and Rainbow."

"Really?" Scootaloo asked again, eyes wide.

Her dad nodded his head. "It seems that the Lunar Republic is offering to try and help find out why you are having so much trouble flying, free of charge," he said.

Scootaloo's eyes widened before she hopped out of her mom's arms and began jumping around in joy. "Yes! Yesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyesyes!"

"And of course, all four of us have been invited to come up with you," her aunt Lofty said once she'd calmed down. "Which is really exciting."

"And which is why you should go put away your things and get ready; Princess Celestia's mages are waiting to take us to Canterlot and then the Republic," her mom said before sharing an excited look with her dad. "Oh, I can't wait to see what it's like up there!"

Scootaloo nodded her head as she raced to her room, tossing her bags into the free corner that wasn't taken up by all the plants. She knew that her friends would find it weird she kept so many of them and not just racing stuff but her parents had sent them as gifts so she did her best to keep them close and alive.

She wasn't sure how long they were going to be on the moon and what she should bring though, so she went back out to ask, and after packing a small bag, went to join them and listen to her mom and dad tell her all about the latest stuff they had seen. It wasn't long before there was a knock on the door and a magical-looking unicorn, whom she was told was named Black Marble, stepped into the room.

"Ah, I see that she is actually here early," the stallion chuckled. "That's good."

Scootaloo titled her head at his remark before her aunts gave her a sheepish look. "You are normally out with your friends for much longer so we told mister Marble here that you might be a while," Holiday said.

Scootaloo nodded. "Yeah, I gotcha," she said. It made sense to her, so she wasn't sure why her aunts looked embarrassed. "But we all decided to come home for lunch and meet up again later." She gestured to the clock. "It is noon."

Black Marble nodded. "Well, you'll have to hold off on that," he said. "I'm sure we can arrange for something once we get to the moon. And in the meantime, I'll have one of our other ponies here let your friends know that you're going out of town for a bit."

Then he beckoned them all to come closer. "If you're all ready?"

They nodded, and his horn lit up.

A moment later, the six were gone.

Scootaloo blinked as her ears and stomach felt weird from the teleportation.

"There there," her mom said in a weird muffled tone, leaning down to rub her back. "Teleporting always feels weird the first time."

"And your ears should pop soon, little one," a regal voice said, with everypony bowing as Princess Celestia, Princess Cadance and other ponies walked over to them. "Just breathe deeply, and relax."

Scootaloo nodded and did as she was told, and indeed, her ears felt better in just a short while.

Once the doctors who'd come in with the Princesses had examined each of them, making sure they were fit for another teleport, they were led into another room where another set of ponies were waiting.

"So you're the little filly we've heard so much about," one of them said. She was a pegasus mare with a graying blue coat and a red and orange mane. "It's so nice to meet you at last."

The stallion next to her, his coat a darker blue and his mane a match for Rainbow Dash's, nodded. "We've been wanting to meet you since we heard," he said.

Scootaloo looked at them curiously. "Are you..."

The mare smiled. "Windy Whistles," she said. "This is my husband, Bow Hot Hoof. And of course, you know our daughter Rainbow Dash?"

Scootaloo was barely able to keep from squeeing in excitement, but it must have shown on her face, because Windy Whistles smiled. "Go ahead," she said. "Let it all out, dear."

Scootaloo nodded, and saw Celestia's horn light up before she let out her squeal of joy.

Once she'd calmed down (and the doctors had made sure nopony's eardrums had been ruptured - they hadn't; Celestia's spell had come just in time), the tallest of the two princesses present cleared her throat. "It's time, everypony," she said. "If you'll all gather around..."

Scooaloo moved near her parents, eager to keep going. Her aunts, Rainbow Dash's parents, and a few other ponies also came over, and then a small circle of ponies, including the two Princesses, formed around them. Horns lit up, and then all of them vanished.

They rematerialized in an unfamiliar room where more ponies were waiting for them, which it seemed had been expected. They were led into another room nearby, where more doctors were waiting to examine each of them in turn, running strange devices over each of them and then spraying their coats with an unfamiliar liquid and toweling them off after a minute. When it was her turn to get sprayed, Scootaloo shivered; it was cold!

The doctor chuckled as she did so, then, once she'd been dried off with the liquid draining away in the floor, the doctor held up the same strange object as before and ran it across her again before nodding. "All done, kiddo," she said.

Scootaloo thanked her before being escorted into the next room with the rest of the group, where she found herself looking around in awe. "This place is amazing..." she said.

"I'm glad you think so," another voice said, and Scootaloo looked up to see the dark-furred alicorn mare she'd seen at the Summer Sun Celebration. "Welcome to the Lunar Republic, everypony."

"Princess Luna," Scootaloo said with the alicorn chuckling and shaking her head.

"It's Director Luna, little one," Princess - Director Luna said, flashing her a smile. "I haven't gone by my royal title since my ponies and I first moved up here. But switching topics, while I am eager to show you all around, there are a few procedures we need to go over first before we can do so."

"Such as?" Princess Cadance asked, tilting her head.

"First off, you've already all had your decontamination spray and medical checkup," Director Luna said. "Everypony gets it upon arriving from the planet's surface, myself included, to remove any foreign particles from your body; we don't want to accidentally bring any germs or bacteria or such up here that you might not have known you were carrying."

There were several nods, before she continued. "Second, I need to remind those of you with unicorn or alicorn magic that we do have our alert system up; it's designed to detect instances of strong magic, especially unfamiliar spells or surges from ponies whose magical signatures aren't registered as regular users of such magics. It's for our own safety; we don't want to risk a surge damaging the outside of the domes."

"Like a foal who can't control their magic yet?" Holiday asked.

Luna nodded. "Exactly," she said. "That's one of the reasons we first set them up, along with security reasons. Any such surges or spells will alert our Department of Security of a possible issue that they'll need to come investigate." She looked at the two Princesses apologetically. "I believe you both remember what happened the last time somepony triggered them?"

Scootaloo wasn't sure what she was talking about, but it seemed the Princesses did, and they winced.

"The next thing," Director Luna said. "Is that for those of you with wings, we'll have to ask you to... er... watch where you're flying, if it comes up. We do have anti-gravity transports around, and we don't want anypony to accidentally fly into their paths and get hurt."

"We understand," Scootaloo's mom said, rubbing her back. "Though not what those anti-gravity things are."

"They're a lot like carts, but with built-in technology that reproduces the effects of a unicorn's levitation spell on them," one of the mages who was present said. "In short, they're carts that can fly."

"Amazing work, Director Luna," Princess Celestia said, tipping her head. "I would like to hear how you managed to overcome the power requirements for such a thing later on, if you don't mind."

Director Luna nodded. "Of course," she said. "Though I might have to have somepony else there to help translate for you. Our specialists in the matter can get rather... technical in their language, and even I don't always understand all their jargon." She then tilted her head. "But before we continue, please follow me this way." There was a slight smile on her face as she said it.

The group all nodded, and followed after her into a large room, before she knocked on the door on its far side. "Come in," she said.

A moment later, the door opened, and Scootaloo felt her heart soar.

"Rainbow Dash!" she said excitedly, hurrying over to greet her surrogate big sister.

Rainbow Dash laughed and pulled her into an embrace with her wings, ruffling her mane. "Hey, squirt," she said. "Good to see you again."

Then she looked up at her parents, and smiled at them too. "Hey, Mom. Dad."

Both of them hurried over to join the hug, and once they'd separated, they turned back to Director Luna.

"Rainbow Dash insisted on being here to greet all of you," she said. "I saw no reason not to let her. And Director Well Wishes felt it would do her good to be out and about for this too."

Scootaloo grinned. "Thank you," she said. Then she looked at Rainbow Dash, and for the first time noticed something different about her right side. "What happened to your wing?"

Rainbow Dash flinched before she gave her a confident grin, holding out her metallic wing. "Well, there was kind of an accident up here." She chuckled, looking at Director Luna. "One thing led to another and I have this now."

Rainbow Dash's dad's eyes widened and shrunk a couple of times before he tilted his head at Luna and said in an angry tone, "What exactly kind of accident happened here, ma'am, that caused you to replace my daughter's wing with... that‽"

"Dad!" Rainbow Dash waved a hoof. "It's okay, it was worth it!"

"I'd like to know too," Windy Whistles said, looking at her with concern before flashing an angry mom look at Luna. Before the other mare could speak up though, Rainbow Dash had raised a wing.

"Short version, there was a jerk who decided to set off a bunch of explosions," she said. "I flew between one of those explosions and some ponies who probably would have gotten killed if they'd been hit with it, and... and I took the brunt of the blast. Lost my wing, but better that than them losing their lives." She shrugged. "After I woke up and found out what'd happened, the doc offered me a new wing, and I said yes. This one's just as good as the old one."

"You can still do your sonic rainbooms?" Rainbow's dad asked with Rainbow Dash wincing again.

"I haven't tried it yet," she said. "Not enough room up here to build up the speed for it, so I'm going to wait until I'm back in Equuis before I try flying again." She blinked before shaking her head. "I mean, try flying like that again." she chuckled a bit loudly, confusing Scootaloo to wonder what was so funny.

Then Rainbow Dash looked at her parents. "I've been checked out though," she said. "This new wing's just as capable of channeling my magic as the rest of me. So I'm sure it'll be fine when I go out and do the speed tests."

Both pegasi still looked upset, so Scootaloo decided to speak up. "You caught the guy who did this?" she asked Director Luna, who nodded.

"He and his accomplices have all been identified and locked up until their sentence is due to be carried out," she said, before turning to the pegasus couple. "I am sorry for what happened to your daughter," she said. "But she has my eternal gratitude, and that of our people, for her actions in having saved as many lives as she did."

"It's what anypony would have done," Rainbow Dash said, smiling. "Besides, you know how much I wanted to join the Wonderbolts. They'd have been doing this kind of thing too, saving lives and all, not just performing for the crowds." She flicked both wings. "Only difference is, they couldn't have replaced my wing if it couldn't be saved."

For a moment, Windy Whistles and Bow Hot Hoof were silent. Then, their faces began to tremble, and finally, they wrapped their legs around her.

"That's our Dashie," Windy Whistles said, sniffling as tears came down her face. "Always thinking of others."

"Yeah," Bow added, hugging her tightly. "Our little hero!"

Scootaloo felt a little squished between them, but she didn't mind so much. Finally though, Rainbow Dash herself had had enough, and flicked her wings out, reaching around them and signaling with her feathers, both organic and metallic, that she wanted her space.

"Thanks, Mom, Dad," she said as they withdrew. "I appreciate it." She then tilted her head towards Scootaloo. "Come along squirt; I told Well Wishes about you and he said he's eager to figure out why you can't fly so he can help you."

"He's quite intrigued by your case, little one," Luna said, smiling at her. "As a pegasus himself, Director Wishes is looking forwards to granting you access to the freedom of flight we fliers so greatly cherish."

"He's a pegasus too?" Scootaloo's mother asked.

Luna nodded. "Our current board of Directors has five Earth ponies, three unicorns, one pegasus, two thestrals and one alicorn - myself." She blushed a bit. "It was four Earth ponies and four unicorns until recently, but one of the unicorns was discharged for crimes against our people, and his Deputy Director appointed to his position until a proper election can be held."

"That is a very well balanced representation of the tribes, Director Luna," Princess Cadance said with Luna tutting and shaking her head.

"It is only fortuitous luck that has it as such," she said as they began to walk out of the room. "We value competency above all else; only those within the department themselves can be nominated to become the Director and the voting happens within the department with the rest of us Directors doing vetting as it proceeds to the final candidates. If all the possible candidates for a new Board of Directors were Earth Ponies, then we would have an entire Board of them and no pony would see fault with it."

"Would that certain parts of Equestria were as open-minded as your citizens when it comes to the tribes being equal," Princess Celestia said with a sigh. "But you know my thoughts on that matter."

"Quite," Luna replied. Then she smiled. "I've been looking forward to showing you around up here," she said, stopping in front of some doors. "How about we go take a walk, Princess Celestia while Rainbow Dash takes her little friend here and their families to meet Director Well Wishes?" She then tilted her head towards Cadance and smiled, though she spoke softly next. "And Twilight Velvet is waiting for you outside, dear niece, so be prepared."

Cadance had a strained smile on her face. "Of course," she said.

Scootaloo blinked in confusion. "What's the problem?" she asked.

Cadance turned and looked at her. "Twilight Velvet is one of the Directors here," she said. "But she's also a mom, and I've been kind of seeing her son."

"Ohhh..." Scootaloo nodded. "I gotcha."

Her parents traded looks, and beamed. "She's growing up so fast," Mane Allgood said, patting Scootaloo on the head. "And good luck, Princess."

"She may well need it," Director Luna said with a chuckle. "Still, Velvet's a good friend of mine, and she knows how I've come to care for you, so she shouldn't be too bad."

Princess Cadance nodded, and then they bid farewell to the two elder alicorns before heading on their way.

As they walked down the halls, Scootaloo couldn't help but smile as her parents and aunts let out sounds indicating how impressed they were by the decor, and finally reached the exit to the building, where a unicorn mare was waiting.

"Rainbow Dash," she acknowledged with a smile. "How'd it go?"

Rainbow Dash gave her a gesture with one wing, extending one of the lower feathers upward, and the mare smiled. "Good to hear it," she said, before looking at all of them. "I'm Twilight Velvet, Director of Housing," she said, before looking at the pegasus couple. "You must be Rainbow Dash's family," she said to them, with the pair nodding in confirmation. Then she looked at Scootaloo. "And you must be little Scootaloo."

Scootaloo blushed. "Ah..."

Velvet smiled. "Rainbow Dash has been so eager to see you," she said. Then she looked at them again, and her face turned more formal. "Princess Cadance."

The pink alicorn stepped forward. "Director Velvet."

For a moment, Velvet was silent, then she smiled again. "Shiny and Sunset have both told me so much about you," she said. "It's an honor to finally meet you face to face."

Cadance's expression turned to one of relief. "It's an honor to meet you too," she said. "Um, where is Shining Armor?"

"He's doing work for his department right now," Velvet said. "We'll be meeting him later, and Twilight too. But for now, let me show you all the way to the hospital."

As they walked towards a strange looking hexagonal platform, Velvet beckoned them all onto it. "As Rainbow Dash knows, this will help carry us where we're going a lot faster," she said. "You should stay back from the edges."

All of them nodded, and once they were into position, there were a lot of startled looks as the platform rose up and began moving.

"Where is Twilight now, anyway?" Cadance asked as she looked around in awe. "And Sunset?"

"They're at Twilight's apartment, with the rest of their friends," Velvet said as she directed the platform. "Including Fluttershy."

"Technically, I've been staying there too between doctor's appointments," Rainbow Dash pointed out as she looked at her parents. "They let me move out of the hospital after a few days, since Twilight is fully qualified to keep an eye on my wing in case something needs it."

"Is she a doctor?" Windy Whistles asked.

Rainbow Dash shook her head. "She's the one who built this thing," she said, waving the metal wing. "It's not like it's the first of its kind, but according to the doc who attached it, she really improved the design."

"Do all health issues up here get fixed by replacing parts of your bodies?" Lofty asked, looking a little wary, and sending a concerned look in Scootaloo's direction.

Velvet was about to answer, when Rainbow Dash shook her head again first. "They'd only do that if a pony was born with something missing, or if the original body part'd been so damaged that there wasn't any other way, like my wing was," she said. "They can't grow limbs back, and there's some inside parts that can't be replaced except with machinery. But that isn't the only way for them to fix a problem - a long time back, they came up with a nifty way of growing and transplanting new organs if it's needed. Like if somepony came down with the renmors virus, instead of needing a donor like we would, they could grow a new set of kidneys and transplant those after they took out the originals and cleaned out the virus."

That got some amazed looks, but Scootaloo just tilted her head and looked at her funny, and Rainbow Dash chuckled.

"I've been spending most of my days at the hospital and I got bored when Fluttershy couldn't be there, so they offered me some reading material on what they do to help ponies," she said. "It's actually pretty interesting, and the doc was willing to answer any questions I had."

Windy Whistles looked at her curiously. "Are you thinking of a change in careers?" she asked.

"Nah," Rainbow Dash said. "Not my thing, Mom. I'm a little too blunt and fidgety to have the right kind of bedside manner, and I really don't have the patience to go back to school and learn all the stuff I'd need for it. But I liked reading about it." She looked down at Scootaloo, and smiled. "Don't worry about it, Scoots. Doc's already promised me that they'll just start with some full-body scans. It won't hurt or anything, and I'll be right there if you need me."

Scootaloo smiled. "Thanks, Rainbow Dash," she said, leaning into her side.

Behind them, Windy and Bow smiled. "That's our girl," they said simultaneously.

"Yes," Velvet said, looking at the pair. "She certainly is." She gave a smile of her own. "She was very brave that day."

The two smiled at her, before Windy gave her a questioning look. "So, are we going to meet this Twilight who made our Dashie's new wing? I want to thank her."

"Of course," Velvet said. "After we get done in the hospital. She and her other friends are back at her apartment right now, but we, Princess Celestia and Director Luna will be meeting them all, along with my husband and our son, for dinner this evening." She winked in Cadance's direction.

"She must be a very important mare," Bow remarked.

"Of course she is," Velvet said. She smiled. "She's my daughter."

"Ohhh..." all six of the visiting Equestrians who hadn't met Twilight before said.

With that, Velvet turned her attention back to steering the platform, as they continued on their way.

"I missed this view," Celestia said to her sister, staring at the view of Equuis. "It is so beautiful; I am envious that you had it for so long."

"It wasn't the same without you," Luna said, resting her head against her sister's. "I missed us having these moon walks together."

"As did I," Celestia said in the vacuum of space. "I almost forgot what the music of the moon was like."

"If only we could record this for others to hear," Luna said, shaking her head. It was one of the few perks they had along with Milky Way; the ability to exist in the vacuum of space and hear the music of the celestial spheres.

"Wasn't there a world we saw where someone had figured out how to create music based off the movements of all the stars and planets?" Celestia asked.

"One of the more technology-based ones, yes," Luna said. "But it wouldn't be quite the same."

For a minute, Celestia was silent. Then, she gazed at her sister. "I'd miss this, you know," she said. "If your plan happened."

"No, you wouldn't," Luna said. "Dreams and Nightmares also have access to the music of the cosmos."

"Not in the same way," Celestia said. "And it wouldn't be the same without you."

Luna nuzzled her. "Oh, trust me, we can still very much hear it the same way without Night and Day," she said. "Trojan and I haven't done any of these walks together, but he does them by himself every hundred years or so. We compared notes once, when I found out and asked him how it sounded to him."

Celestia smiled, her heart resting easier. "That's good then," she said, nuzzling her sister back with Luna returning the gesture.

"Come on Tia," she then said, tilting her head back to the domes in the distance. "I think you'd like to see more of my home and less of this cold wasteland."

"It would be nice," Celestia admitted. Then she smiled again. "As long as it's with you."

Luna nodded with her horn glowing, before the two teleported back to the inside.

Celestia waited for the momentary shift in her equilibrium from being teleported to pass before she opened her eyes and took in the wondrous sights once more. Ponies were walking and talking with each other, enjoying each other's company as they moved about their lives and didn't seem all that troubled by her or her sister's sudden appearance.

She took in a deep breath of the air and looked at Luna, a smile on her face. "Lilacs?" she asked with Luna giving her a light blush.

"It is a little thing," she said, shrugging her shoulders as the two of them walked through the many statues of this nation's founders. Celestia could see both the master craftsmanship that had went into each of them as well as the preservation magic her sister had embedded into each statue. Some would have called it a waste of power but Celestia knew different. "It is a pleasant scent and I feel it keeps the mood calm in the primus dome."

"As well as it is my favourite flower," Celestia said softly so as not to embarrass her sister.

Luna nodded silently. "It reminded me so much of you," she said.

For a little while, the two alicorns were quiet as they walked around, Celestia looking about in fascination. Luna had already shown her around the Lux Aeternam, or at least the main room thereof, so they bypassed that for now. But eventually, the pair reached one of the other towering buildings, where Luna stopped.

"Our Directors each have their own living space, some distance from where they work," she said. "A precaution, in case something like... well, what he did was to happen. My own quarters are in this building."

"I would like to see them, if that were okay," Celestia asked, not even bothering to think of Neighsay. She did not want to bring the mood down by bringing him into the equation.

"That's exactly what I had in mind," Luna said with a smile. "Follow me."

She led Celestia into the building, through the lobby and into the elevators. Upon reaching the top floor, she hesitated outside the first of the two doors.

"I must admit to some hypocrisy," she said. "I made negative comments about you being stuck in the past, when I myself designed this apartment after the base design of the one I stayed in before we were able to spread out."

Then she opened the door and led her sister in.

It was a large space, and unlike Twilight's (as she would later see), it was rather full of things around the edges of the main room.

"My apologies for the condition," Luna said. "I keep meaning to straighten up out here."

Celestia smiled. "It's perfectly all right," she said. "It feels lived-in. More welcoming than some places I could name."

Luna looked relieved, before she continued showing Celestia around, including into the rooms she'd cleaned out. "This is where you'll be staying," she said. "Cadance will have the next room over, and the one over there mine."

"Ah, I see that these rooms are properly sized," Celestia said approvingly as she looked around.

Luna nodded with a smile. "Technically, they're sized for me, but it works out well for the both of you too," she said. "Actually, when we were first setting up, the other founders insisted that every residential building's ceilings had to be tall enough to comfortably accommodate me at a moment's notice." She looked a little embarrassed. "I said it wasn't important, but I got overruled."

"I don't see why you'd object," Celestia said. "At least your ponies were genuinely thinking of your comfort when they made that decision and not just to show off, like certain individuals in Canterlot would have been."

She went in and peered out the windows. "And the view is wonderful too."

Luna smiled at that. "It is, isn't it?" she asked as she walked up beside her sister. Then she gestured towards another building. "That's where Twilight lives, by the way."

"Ah," Celestia nodded her head. "And where our students are no doubt getting to know each other."

Luna nodded again with a bit of a smirk. "Quite frankly, ever since I saw them standing together the first time, I'd be surprised if Cadance couldn't sense their feelings all the way from Canterlot." She looked at Celestia more seriously. "Speaking of, have you kept an eye out for either of the individuals most likely to be involved in her full awakening?"

Celestia nodded. "One's still in the frozen north, and the other far to the south," she said. "I'd love to do something more permanent about both of them sooner, but..." she sighed. "I can't take the opportunity they present away from Cadance, though I do have contingencies in the works to minimize the damage they could do before she defeats one or the other. At any rate, I'm certain neither will try to make a move until after Discord's return." She paused for a moment, feeling conflicted. "And I am trying to take a step back from overplanning considering how it went the last time."

Luna nodded understandingly. "At least I can make one issue easier on you," she said. "A certain other pony whom we saw nearly destroying Equestria in many, many worlds, until their Magic stopped her, won't be a problem."

Celestia looked at her curiously. "Which one, and what did you do about them?" she asked.

"I didn't actually have to do anything," Luna said with a chuckle. "She was born here naturally, just like Twilight was. That alone solved her main problem - with the Republic being so much smaller than Equestria, she didn't have her friend move away, which meant she didn't develop the psychosis that so many of her Others did as a result. She works in the State Department."

Celestia let out a sigh of relief as she realized whom Luna meant. "Well, that's a load off my shoulders," she said. "I got worried when Sunburst first showed up at my School for Gifted Unicorns and there was no sign of Starlight back in their home village. It didn't occur to me that she was up here."

Luna nodded. "We all make mistakes," she said. "Though speaking of ponies who threatened Equestria, have you seen any signs of Cozy Glow or Tempest Shadow? Neither of them are up here."

"Cozy, no but Shadow, yes," Celestia said, tipping her head. "It was happenstance that one of Cadance's agents was in the location during her accident and was able to recover, reattach and rebuild her horn in time, so she's grown up and lived a happy, normal life since then." She tilted her head. "As it happens, she still wound up becoming a soldier, but it was by her choice and for our Guard instead of one of our enemies. She's one of Cadance's agents now."

Luna smiled. "That's good to know," she said. "And the Storm King?"

"Still undetected," Celestia said. "Either he doesn't exist or he's just better at hiding." She looked at Luna. "Have you seen any signs of his army's movements?"

"None; we don't have the means to go for close observations of Equuis," Luna said.

Celestia nodded. "I see... I must confess that with the usual size of his air fleet, I thought you might have been able to see them moving en masse from up here even without aid."

Luna nodded her head. "As did I, though a thought that occurred to me is that he might have heard rumours of the Republic and took precautions to hide from me, just in case we did exist."

Celestia bit her lip. "A fair point; there are numerous stories about what could be on the moon with a nation up here being prominent," she said. "And if that is truly the case, then he will be a more dangerous foe than what we have seen elsewhere."

Luna nodded in agreement. "Something to keep in mind," she said. "But in happier news, I feel you should know about another individual up here."

"Who?" Celestia asked.

Luna smiled. "We have the Lady of Self-Centeredness," she said. "She gave me permission to inform you of her identity. And she is most definitely on our side, rather than Discord's."

Celestia looked relieved. "Anypony I'd recognize?" she asked. "That Role's Bearer did tend to vary a lot more than some of the ones we saw."

"It's Moondancer, and she has done a fair deal to help Twilight overcome several internal issues," Luna smiled. "You'll be meeting her when we go to Twilight's apartment tonight. Though of all of us there, only you and myself will know it. Milky Way, Extra Seconds and Trojan are also aware of her identity, but you know how they are about showing themselves."

"So that's two of Discord's sub-Powers," Celestia smiled, recalling what Luna had admitted to her about Twilight once she was certain Cadance wasn't listening in again. "If we could locate the others, then the issue of not having the girls awaken their Power would be mitigated."

"One so far; Twilight has yet to awaken her Power," Luna corrected her. "But yes, I hope that we can rely on them in minimizing Discord's impact. I don't know if he has the rest of his sub-Powers but I think he would at least keep some as for extra weight."

Celestia nodded in agreement. "Which is worrisome," she said. "Having five against us would be very disastrous, even with your two as a counter. He could easily outvote us by finding allies."

Luna nodded her head as she sighed, going to her wine cooler and pulling out a bottle. "I save this for truly stressful days," she said, summoning two cups as she poured out the millennium-old wine. "I think that this counts."

Celestia accepted her cup and both of them drank, before Luna continued. "We each know of forty-three of our kind, though not all their Bearers in this world," she said. "You and I, of course, represent Day, Night and Dreams. Trojan and Moondancer hold Nightmares and Self-Centeredness, and Milky Way and Extra Seconds hold Time and Space. That makes seven definitely on our side. Love has yet to fully awaken, the same with Twilight's Power, so it's seven to five - Disharmony and at least four of its sub-Powers - with two more not able to involve themselves, in that regard."

Celestia nodded. "The Judge, of course, is a True Neutral and would not be involved," she said. "One would hope that the Apocalypses and Creations would stay out of this entirely - you know full well how Life and Death get about being disturbed for any reason short of a full-scale interdimensional invasion, and Peace has never approved of Disharmony, so they wouldn't help him. The others, I don't know what they'd think of the situation."

Luna nodded. "The Seasons and the Forces of Nature also tend to be neutral, so I'd hope they'd not assist him but they could also choose not to aid us either, given how Equestria is about manually moving the seasons and such."

Celestia nodded in agreement. "Something I'd been really hoping to change at some point," she said. "But after the great freeze, nopony was willing to let nature take its course and risk having a disaster on that scale happen again, even if they knew the windigos were the ones really responsible for it."

"Quite," Luna said, before she considered. "If Harmony and their sub-Powers can Awaken in time, they'd be with us for sure, so it would be fourteen to five, with at least three dormant and abstaining, one definitely abstaining, and sixteen who could go either way," she said. "That's thirty-nine."

"Leaving four who, if they're all even active now, are likely to be a mixed bag," Celestia said. "Empathy is unlikely to side with Discord. Detachment is usually neutral. Despair... is likely the same, though they might join him anyway, if he's still carrying Sorrow. And the last would most likely be on our side, if they're willing to show themselves. They generally prefer to influence beings from the background though, so they'll probably stay hidden."

The two alicorns traded looks, then sighed.

"This is yet another reason I'd like us both to step back and take an adjunct rank," Luna said, shaking her head. "It'd be one less set of headaches!"

Celestia couldn't help but agree. Although... "The question is, would handing over my Mantle also cost me my Champion status?" she asked. "Order personally entrusted me with those Duties, and... and I hesitate to step back from something so important, especially since I can't imagine Discord stepping down from being our Champion of Chaos."

"I don't know," Luna said. "I can understand why you'd be worried about it though. Perhaps it would warrant talking to Life or..."

"Order Themselves," Celestia finished uneasily, staring out the window. "Neither of which I am particularly eager to do."

Luna nodded, laying a wing over her comfortingly. "I know, sister," she said. "I know."

Celestia looked back at her and smiled, grateful for her sister's presence. "We'll figure it out eventually," she said. "For now though... what do you think our students are up to?"

Luna gave her a smile of her own. "If I know Twilight?" she said. "Trying to revolutionize some form or another of science."

Celestia chuckled. "Of course. And knowing my student, I'm sure Sunset's encouraging her." She considered. "Though depending on what they're working on, she's probably making some contributions of her own while she's at it."

Luna smiled and nodded. "I'm sure she is."

The two looked out at the window of Twilight's apartment, where their two students were undoubtedly hard at work on something, and smiled with pride.

"So," Vinyl was saying. "There we were, surrounded by cops, including Shiner himself - it was his first day on the job, and LP and I knew we didn't want to get him in trouble if he couldn't bring himself to try and take us in. So big bro and I traded looks, then threw them all our best salutes and yelled, 'We throw ourselves on the mercy of the courts!'"

Everyone present burst out laughing, including Twilight and Sunset, who were tinkering with some piece of machinery together as they sat together on the couch.

"Honestly, Vinyl," Octavia said from her own seat, a mixture of disapproval and amusement in her voice. "One wonders how you two managed to get into such trouble."

Vinyl chuckled. "Eh, it turned out okay," she said. "It was only trespassing on public property after hours, after all. Nopony'd gotten hurt, we didn't cause any damage... so we got a light sentence, did our time at community service, and that was the end of that."

"Sounds lahk a good way of handlin' things," Applejack said. She'd been going back and forth between spending her time with her new kinfolk and her friends for the past week, and this was one of her days with Twilight and the others.

"It works for us," Twilight said, smiling. She was so glad to have... well, almost all her friends here today. Vinyl, Moondancer and, with one exception, everypony who'd come back with her from Equestria were all just sitting around relaxing and chatting together. Shiny was at work, of course, and Rainbow Dash would be meeting the new arrivals they were expecting today, if she hadn't already, but those were understandable absences.

"Though I guess you don't have much experience with it, right Twilight?" Rarity asked.

"Um..." Twilight blushed. "Actually, when I was a lot younger, my class had had a field trip to one of the Science Department's buildings, and I snuck back in after hours. I just couldn't help myself - I wanted to go back and work there, and I couldn't wait!"

That got her a lot of grins, and she continued. "They saw the light from my horn, came in and arrested me as I was tinkering with some of the equipment. The only reason I got off as light as I did is because they checked out what I was doing and realized that I'd actually improved the efficiency of what I was working on." She blushed even deeper. "That's when Director Luna decided to take me as her personal student. I didn't get off completely free though; some of the first assignments she gave me also counted as punishment for my trespassing."

Sunset snorted and shook her head. "I can kinda relate to that," she said. "I ran away from Princess Celestia because I was so caught up in my own ego that I didn't think I was being treated fairly, and ended up somewhere where I caused a lot of trouble for the locals. She chased after me, lectured me, and made me her student again. And she didn't call it that, but I still say my first assignment, to try and set things right with the people I'd made so much trouble for, was also a punishment I'd more than earned."

There was silence for a few minutes, before Pinkie shook her head. "That took a depressing turn, didn't it?" she said.

"Yeah." Sunset nodded, before looking around. "I can never take back what I did back then," she said. "It's something I'll always have to live with. But it's also something that helped me. That moment when I realized what I'd become." She shook her head. "There'd been a time when what mattered most to me was being close to my teacher, because she was the closest I had to family. But somewhere along the line, I lost that. I started only caring about myself. Until that day when Princess Celestia got through to me, when it finally hit me that I didn't recognize the person I'd become anymore. And I didn't like what I'd become."

She looked up. "That was when I realized what Princess Celestia had been trying to teach me all along. About empathy, about responsibility, about staying true to ourselves, and how we need others to remind us about that when we lose ourselves. How it's wrong to just seek power for the sake of power, or because of the prestige it would give us. It hit me, all at once, and when Princess Celestia saw that I had seen how badly I'd messed up, really learned my lesson, she forgave me."

She looked at Twilight. "And you know the rest."

Twilight smiled. Setting her machinery down, she leaned over and wrapped an arm around Sunset, pulling her closer. "I'm glad you got the help you needed," she said.

"And so are we," Rarity said, smiling at them with a twinkle in her eye. "Really, I've rather enjoyed getting to know you, Sunset."

"We all have, sugarcube," Applejack said with Pinkie and Fluttershy nodding in agreement.

"And we know Twilight's certainly enjoyed getting to know you," Vinyl added teasingly, causing Octavia to give her a look. "Seriously though, you must have changed a lot from back then - if you hadn't told us about it, I'd have a really hard time picturing you as a jerk."

"That's because you haven't seen someone trying to get her out of bed without giving her her morning caffeine first," Spike said from where he was sitting next to Rarity. "Then she can slip into her old attitude for a little while. It's the only time she acts like that anymore, but it still happens."

Sunset blushed in embarrassment. "You know I don't mean it when I do that," she said. "I'm just really not a morning person."

"Yeah, I know," Spike said, smiling at her. "I don't blame you for it, Sunset."

Sunset smiled gratefully.

"So what are you two working on anyways?" Vinyl suddenly asked, tilting her glasses downward to peer at them, causing them to perk up.

"Well as you know, teleportation is one of most difficult spells to master, especially the farther you aim and the less you know the area," Twilight said, putting the gizmo down on the table. "The magnitude of possible dangers from a bad teleport is why it's only taught to those who have considerable magic reserves and have passed all the preliminary tests."

"And from what Twilight has told me, beyond your shuttles which are not ready for round trips between the Republic and Equuis, the only way to get back and forth is by teleporting," Sunset added, leaning closer to Twilight. "I know that Princess Celestia and Director Luna can do so easily due to the whole alicorn thing and our mages are good enough to make the trip for most ponies, but we thought that there has to be another way."

"And while things like space elevators could work, they are still far away as we don't have the resources to build or maintain such a thing and that the other nations might not like to rely on it to reach the Republic," Twilight continued. "So we're trying to combine our knowledge to work on another possible means of traveling to and from the moon."

"Specifically, we're working to see if we could make a possible teleportation device," Sunset finished. "A combination of magic and science. We're nowhere near ready, but if we could figure out how to do it, it'd be a major boon to both our worlds."

"Sounds like it will be a very long, complicated project with many late nights," Rarity said with a smile on her face. "Though with you two working on it together, I am sure that you'll be able to accomplish it."

Sunset nodded. "We've got more than a few ideas on what we want to accomplish," she said. "The catch is figuring out how to make it work, and how to make it work safely."

Twilight nodded, not wanting to blurt out where she'd gotten the idea from. The transporters Sunset had told her about, from the series she'd watched back in that other world, were so fascinating... but the other unicorn had asked her not to say anything about it just yet until she could talk to Princess Celestia and get permission to reveal the full truth about that world and what she'd seen there to anypony beyond Twilight herself. If only she could see the show itself to get a better understanding of how it worked there.

Maybe she could ask Princess Celestia about the mirror portal too at some point, and what she'd seen on the other side.

Vinyl grinned. "Sweet."

"I agree with Rarity," Moondancer put in with a smile. "If anypony could make this work, it'd be you two." She flashed Twilight a look. "Just don't be staying up too late though."

"I know, I know," Twilight said. "We're being careful." She then turned her head towards the wall and winced a bit. "I still need to get this place ready; Director Luna mentioned she was going to be coming by with some of our new guests today."

"Well, then what are we waitin' for?" Applejack asked. "Just say the word, an' we'll help out with whatever ya need."

Twilight smiled gratefully. "All right," she said. "Let me take my equipment over into my lab, and then we'll get started."

The others all nodded, and once Twilight had put her and Sunset's project away, they'd set to work, each handling their assigned tasks, Fluttershy handling the dusting and other tasks at the top-most levels of the room while the others set to work on other things.

We make a really good team, Twilight thought happily as they worked. All of us.

"So you are the young filly I have heard so much about," Director Wishes said, ruffling Scootaloo's mane with one of his hooves as they entered the doctor's room. "Your friend Rainbow here spoke a great deal about you," he said with a chuckle, causing Rainbow Dash to blush, though Scootaloo could see her still smile. "And you must be her family."

Two of the seven grown ponies present (Director Velvet and Princess Cadance had excused themselves for a little while soon after they'd arrived) nodded, each holding out a hoof for him to shake.

"I'm Snap Shutter, and this is my wife, Mane Allgood," Scootaloo's dad said as they did so, before gesturing. "And these are my big sister Holiday and her wife Lofty."

"A pleasure to meet you all," Director Wishes said, before he looked past them. "And you two must be Rainbow Dash's parents; I can see the family resemblance."

The pegasus couple chuckled as they came up to shake his hoof too. "Rainbow manes do run in my side of the family," Bow said. "My dad had one, and his dad and his dad... now my brother and I've got 'em, and my awesome little filly's got one."

Rainbow Dash blushed. "Da-ad..."

"And you are the wonderful doctor that treated our precious filly after she saved those other ponies," Windy said. "We can't thank you enough."

"Helping ponies is what I do," Director Wishes said. "And speaking of doing, I'd like to see what young Scootaloo is really capable of flight-wise." He gestured her to step into the middle of the room, and she did.

"Go ahead now," he said.

Scootaloo nodded, and began to buzz her wings.

And then she gasped in shock, her wings almost freezing up as she realized she was slowly rising off the ground and actually hovering for the first time in her life.

Slowing her pace, she let herself drift back down to the ground, then craned her neck as she tried to get a better look at her wings. "How did I do that?" she asked, still astounded.

Well Wishes "hmm"ed as he studied her. "Well, that's surprising," he said. "Rainbow Dash assured me you've never been able to do that before."

"I couldn't," Scootaloo said, still staring at her wings. "That's the first time I've ever been able to get off the ground on my own!" She looked over at her aunts and parents, who were staring at her in just as much surprise, though there was also a look of pride on their faces.

"That's our little Scoots," Holiday said, beaming. "Congratulations, sweetie."

Scootaloo blushed. "Thanks, Aunt Holiday."

"Hmm." Director Wishes pulled an item off one of the counters, and then began to run it along her body.

"Medical scanner," he explained, before tapping a button on the gadget on his wrist, popping a screen up with her image appearing over it.

He tapped a few more buttons, and the image began changing, lines and shapes appearing in various places, with assorted numbers also appearing alongside them.

"Your magical flow is working just fine for a young filly your age," he said. "And all your bones, muscles and organs are reading as normal. As near as I can tell, there's nothing keeping you from flying right now."

Scootaloo felt even more shocked than before. "But... how? Why can I fly now, when I couldn't before?"

"I'm not sure," Director Wishes said. "Have you done anything differently recently?"

"Well... I got teleported from my home to Canterlot, and then up here," Scootaloo said. "The doctors who checked me when I first arrived from that didn't find anything wrong."

"Hmm." Director Wishes looked at her. "I'll have to check with them, see if they picked up anything in their own scans." He then looked over at Rainbow Dash. "Do you think you could try hovering for us?"

Rainbow Dash looked uncomfortable. "I... er... not right now," she said, rubbing the back of her neck with her new wing. "This is Scoots' day, not mine."

"Well, all right," he said in a doctor voice that clearly meant 'I know you're holding something back'. "Perhaps tomorrow then."

Rainbow smiled at him, before rubbing Scootaloo's head. "Seriously though, it's great you're able to get off the ground now, kiddo."

"And we're looking forwards to teaching you everything we know about flying," her mom said. "Well. Lofty and I, at least." She smiled at her sister-in-law's wife.

"And from what you wrote about Rainbow Dash, I'm sure she'd be willing to help as well," Snap Shutter said with Rainbow Dash looking nervous for a second.

"Y-eah," she said. "I'll do what I can for the little squirt."

Scootaloo looked at her curiously, but at Rainbow Dash's own look, decided it could wait.

"At any rate, I think we're done for now," Director Wishes said. "I'll want to see you again later, after I analyse some of these readings, but until then, you're good to go. And Dash, there is a meeting tonight; I do think it will do you good to attend."

Rainbow Dash nodded. "I'll try to make it," she said. "But I might have other commitments already. Dinner gathering and all."

Well Wishes nodded. "I see," he said.

"Meeting?" Windy asked curiously.

"Just some stuff I don't want to get into right now, Mom," Rainbow Dash said quickly. "I'll explain when I'm ready, okay?"

"If you're sure, sweetie," Windy said, looking at the doctor for any information, but he stayed quiet.

Rainbow Dash flicked her wings, then looked at Well Wishes. "Thanks for everything, doc," she said. "We'll see you later, okay?"

"Of course," he said with a smile. "I'll let you know when I need you all again."

Rainbow Dash nodded, and then led them all back out of the room. But there was still an uncertain look on her face, and Scootaloo couldn't help but wonder what she was holding back.