• Published 3rd Apr 2022
  • 1,373 Views, 485 Comments

Alpha and Omega - Revel Montaro



For every beginning there is an end. Princesses Twilight Sparkle and Sunset Shimmer stand side by side as the rulers of Equestria, as beacons of hope against those that seek said end, as the darkness closes around them and the walls press in.

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Chapter 2: From Out of Nowhere

Northwest Equestria: Four Days Ago

The train ride from Canterlot to the northwestern city of Vanhoover had been relatively pleasant. Tempest Fury had managed to catch a nap while her husband, Fog Gauge, had taken their two foals for a stroll through the train cars. Their son, Saber Knightly, was old enough to walk himself even if he groaned after only a few steps his legs were tired. Their newborn, who was only a few months old, was finally starting to nod off for a nap after having been fed and gently rocked by the train and her father’s movement. Dusk Wind yawned and stretched her tiny forelegs and wings as far as the carrier restrains would let her go before snuggling into her father’s grey umber fur that was only a few shades darker than her own.

With the foals going down for nap that meant that he too could find a precious few minutes to rest. Quietly, with stealth infiltration precision, Gauge snuck back into their cabin and helped his son snuggle up next to his mother who was fast asleep before claiming the other bed, careful to not disturb the younger foal. Such acts were not always successful. However, Celestia holy ghost smiled upon him that morning, because they were able to obtain three whole hours of rest before the train whistle woke Dusk and she cried in protest.

Gauge glanced over to his wife who was also stretching and yawning and said with a smile, “Just remember, you insisted we take this trip.”

“If I didn’t love you I would hate you, you know that right? I’m not one for half measures.”

Gauge sat up and began the routine of checking diaper first before moving on to trying to calm the newborn from the startling noise. “I expect nothing less.”

Considering the next leg of their journey, and for another reason, the two captains of the Solar and Lunar Guard decided it was best to spend the next two nights in Vanhoover before renting a carriage to take the foals to a small logging town just south called Crater. The name, as Gauge had explained it to Tempest, was self-explanatory. Long ago, a meteorite had crashed down taking out a long strip of forest land in the process. In doing so it had carved a path through the dense thicket that allowed the first prospectors to settle an outpost beyond the Vanhoover harbor, long before the rail system was established. The outpost eventually became the town of Crater, but it had never really taken off as a settlement. Mostly for geographical reasons.

Quality timber had been in need, all growing towns needed wood for building, but Crater had no inland waterways, no ports, no rail line. The only way to get the timber out was to haul it back out the path the meteorite had cut and ponies had trampled all the way back to Vanhoover kilometers away. The town made enough to stay a small settlement, but never much beyond that even more than three centuries after the first shovel was driven to the dirt.

This was the town where Fog Gauge had been born. And it was populated nearly entirely by pegasi who left Cloudsdale for… reasons that were often debated. Or had been last time he had seen it twelve years ago. It was not the leg of the vacation journey he had been looking forward to.

The second reason to stay in Vanhoover for the night came gently knocking at their hotel room door not long after they had settled in. Fog quickly moved to open the door to find a pastel coral colored mare whose mane had once been blonde, but was now more platinum colored standing at their door. She smiled warmly and he happily returned it.

“Hello, mother.”

“Oh, Fog! It’s so good to see you! I, I barely recognized you, sweetie!”

“Yes, I, um, I tried to describe to you the changes the thestral ritual causes, but I suppose seeing puts it more in perspective.”

“You’re so big! You were skinny as a rail last I saw you! Tight and tawny, athletic sure, but not so… be still my heart, boy! If you didn’t come out of my very womb I might haveta… well.” Tempest was treated to a unique and savory sight of seeing her usually stoic and nonchalant husband fumbling and blushing at his mother’s insinuations. The laughter caught the older mare’s attention and she slapped her son on his flank with her wing. “Manners, you! Introduce your old mama.”

“Of course, Captain Tempest Fury, please say hello to Aero Cutright. Mother, my wife and mother to our little ones who are tired, but would likely not be opposed to meet their grandmother.”

“So formal, the young ones will call me Nana and there will be no use arguing with me on it.”

Tempest nodded her head, “Who am I to argue with the mother of the finest stallion I have ever known and have the pleasure of serving the royals of Equestria with.”

Aero laughed and gladly pulled Tempest into a hug. “Not the only pleasure with him you’ve had since there be two young’ins.” Tempest snorted and blushed a tiny bit. “Let’s take a look at you, dear. My, my, you are tall for a mare, aren’t you? Strong, beautiful, why if she had wings she’d be nearly as big as those alicorns you two serve, am I right?”

“Not quite, but I’ll take that as a compliment.”

“As well you should. Now, where are my grandfoals! Let me see their smiling little faces before your father goes and ruins things.”

Since they knew they could afford it, Tempest and Gauge had splurged and rented the luxury family suite for the next two nights that offered far more amenities for travel with foals and more importantly, a sliding privacy door between the two hotel bedrooms. Tempest gestured to the room on the right before leaning over to Gauge and whispered, “Ouch. Blunt much?”

“I tried to warn you.”

“Noted.”

Saber looked up as the door that had been cracked slid open and an unfamiliar, elderly pegasus was standing there. The bed Saber would be sleeping in was larger than his one at home, but had a safety rail on three sides and was low enough to the ground he would not injure himself if he accidentally rolled out. Next to the bed was the play pen/newborn bed that Tempest and Gauge had brought along to accommodate Dusk Wind and across from that was a nursing lounge chair for when their daughter got hungry in the middle of the night and a rocking chair. Those were a must in Tempest’s opinion.

“Why hello there!”

The mulberry unicorn foal with red and white colored mane looked past the pegasus to his mother. “Mama?”

“It’s okay, Saber. This is your dad’s mom. You can call her Nana.”

“Nana?”

“That’s right. Is it okay if I give you a hug?”

Saber crawled over to the edge of his bed and sat up with his forelegs out as if wanting to be picked up. Aero gladly scooped the foal up and nuzzled him, which caused his horn to shoot a small spark.

“Oh!” Aero blinked and giggled before gently setting him back down. “Didn’t expect that.”

“He’s still getting a grasp of his control,” Tempest said, also reaching over to snuggle her son. “Trust me, it’s common and it’s a lot better than it was. We don’t have to use the training inhibitor at night anymore.”

“Uhh! Uhhh!”

Aero looked to her right and found Dusk sitting up waving a hoof. “Oh, don’t think I forgot about you. The moment Aero picked Dusk up however she gasped with joy when she realized that her second grandfoal had two tiny wings sticking out. “She’s a pegasus!”

Gauge arched a brow at her surprise. “Did I forget to mention that?”

“Yes, you did, silly goose! Oh, my! Look how wonderfully formed your fuzzy little wings are! I bet a shiny new bit you’ll be flying on the ceiling in no time!” Dusk giggled as she was hoisted up high in the air, attempting to flap her wings on instinct. “I’m no fanatic like your father. To be fair, Char wasn’t that bad when we were young, but I do still feel like a piece of me has passed on to this little filly. She even has my old mane color! Look at youuuuuu!”

Gauge glanced back to Tempest who simply arched a brow before snuggling Saber again and helping him get comfortable under the bed covers. He had a feeling they would be having a chat later about favoritism or something to that degree later.

Aero set the newborn back down and tucked her in, making sure to swaddle her wings again just in case she tried to flap them more. “I could go for a spot of tea and a great deal of catching up.”

“Of course, mother.”

----------

Present Day

Raven stood like a statue, which was quite frankly easy for her, as she waited for the mysterious, unscheduled train to arrive. Her eyes turned to the east where the sun would be coming over the horizon soon. On her internal chronometer that she had adjusted to accommodate for Equestria’s slightly different time than that of mirror Earth, Raven knew Twilight would be up in a few minutes… assuming Sunset let her get out of bed. The thought of her friend/owner/caretaker and her usual morning antics would have automatically brought a smile to the AI’s face had she not been able to shut off her expressions instantly.

The reserved platform had been cleared by the company of twelve royal guards and cordoned off from the regular morning traffic. The waiting citizens did not mind, it was part of the price of living in Canterlot after all. One never knew when such-and-such dignitary or royal would be coming to visit and the guards had to make a secure zone for them. Still, some looked on from the perimeter in curiosity.

The locomotive was a standard model that operated the lines in eastern Equestria, likely chartered for the trip. Since there was no direct link to Saddle Arabia because of the ocean between the two lands the Equestrian Diplomatic Core maintained a warehouse to store such items for envoys near their private ports where the ships would dock for customs inspections.

It was strange that the first Raven and the guards had heard of the envoy was when they had already been in motion as opposed to the official channels in customs and diplomacy. Raven made a note to contact the department head later to find where the breach had occurred. Regardless, they were here now and she would deal with this first.

While Raven had never dealt directly with the Saddle Arabian royals, she had been given extensive information on their current standings along with some speculations on what visit could be about. Isabella had also shared a few personal stories on what kind of behavior Raven could expect if it was one of the sultan’s princes or princesses as opposed to a dignitary or high ranking diplomat. Apparently, the sultan had four children, two of each gender and all unwed. The fact that Isabella had thrown that last part in there had piqued Raven’s curiosity.

Crown prince Alsame Aldhahabiu prospected Princess Flurry Heart a few years ago on the possibility of an official courtship. Flurry Heart had heard him out and then nearly caused a massive diplomatic incident when she laughed in his face. He was a charming horse and did not deserve the massive insult.

Raven had found the use of the word “horse” interesting since she had heard other Equestrians use the term “whorse” as a derogatory insult. Apparently, the spelling, situation, and emphasis at the beginning was important. Such was the nuance of language sometimes. Isabella had gone on to explain why 'horse' was more accurate and accepted a term for the Arabians than pony considering their larger body frames and standing height. It was also true for the ‘unicorn’ Arabians as well, who were more rare, but still preferred to be called horses as opposed to ponies.

Once the train had stopped the first to disembark were the guards, which was expected. Raven made note of their black and indigo uniforms of tight fitting armor plates with loose, breathable fabric between and masks that completely hid their faces other than their eyes. They were armed, but made no move to grab said weapons and instead only secure their own perimeter.

“The Al Haras,” said Lieutenant Walnut. “The sultan’s royal guards.”

“Well, that narrows it down to royal family,” said Raven without turning her head.

Once their formation was set, staring down their Canterlot counterparts a light grey horse exited and met Raven’s eyes. He tried to maintain her gaze, waiting to see if she would blink first. Naturally, he lost and had to blink rapidly to moisten his eyes.

“You have the resolve of a stone sentinel,” he said in a slightly accented dialect, bowing his head to reveal the tip of a horn through his elaborate head covering. “It is commendable.”

“Thank you. I am Chief Coordinator Raven Sundown. I speak for the princesses of Equestria and their personal assistants. Your visit was not scheduled.”

The grey horse smiled sheepishly and rolled his eyes. A gesture that finally caused Raven to arch a brow. He cleared his throat and stepped to his right. “I apologize for such rudness. Arriving without invitation was… not MY idea. I am Muhasib, grand vizier to his great and holiness Sultan Al Hisan Ealia. I come w-”

“Such formalities!” Muhasib stopped in mid-sentence and sighed as another Saddle Arabian exited the train wearing robes that looked as if they were as much jewels and gold as they were made of fabric. He was a tall, lean horse whose fur was mostly the same color as fine yellow sand with a stripe of white that went from his forehead, down his nose and likely continued on through his hidden underbelly. He glanced to the grand vizier before descending the steps of the platform, the black-clad guards moving in step to maintain position. Raven heard some of her guards shift and she held a hoof up to remind them to standfast.

Once before her on equal ground Raven could tell that the newcomer was as tall as Sunset, but still shorter than Twilight or Flurry Heart. He seemed an excellent physical example of his people and her basic olfactory sensors did not detect anything that would be considered foul or rotten upon him. She was not one hundred percent certain, but based on gathered data on other quadrupeds his body language translated as impatient and put off. More intel was required and she intended to get it.

“And you are?”

The horse grimaced as if the act of speaking to her soured in his mouth. He glanced to his right, waiting to see if the grand vizier was going to continue. When he did not the sandy horse made to step around Raven, she took a step to block his path.

“As I understand it, it is considered quite rude in Saddle Arabia when an official introduces themselves and it is not returned in kind. You should know that it is the same in Equestria.”

“You are not the pony I have traveled day and night to come see.”

“But I am the pony you have to speak to if you wish to leave this train station other than back the way you came.”

“You dare hold a prince hostage?” Upon the sandy horse’s words the Al Haras fell into position and made ready to grab weapons that were currently sheathed. Both solar and lunar guards fell into defensive formations in kind also reaching for spears and arms, horns taking on a glow with readied spells.

“As I stated before, I am Chief Coordinator Raven Sundown and I represent the princesses of Equestria and their assistants. If you wish an audience with some creature of higher rank than I you must first deal with me.”

The sandy horse turned to the grand vizier and said through his teeth, “I thought you said she was a griffon.”

Raven spoke before her counterpart could. “You are thinking of Royal Advisor Isabella Windsong. Personal assistant to Princess Twilight Sparkle. No doubt she is attending said princess as we speak since, if you look to your left, you can see the sun is beginning to rise and the moon being put to rest. I am, as you can clearly see, not a griffon. I am much, much worse.”

Both Saddle Arabians exchanged glances before the prince made a gesture and his guards stood down from attack positions. Raven in turn did the same for the royal guards. The prince cleared his throat. “I apologize for such behavior, Chief Coordinator. I did not wish to waste my valuable time with a useless errand underling, but clearly you have iron in your belly and fire in your lovely eyes. I am Prince Hisan Khayaliun, second son to his great holiness and I am here to speak to your princesses… at their earliest convenience, of course. We would appreciate your company as escort to our embassy as we await to hear from the keepers of the sun and moon.”

Raven turn and then gestured for the entourage to fall into step. Lieutenant Walnut tapped his SunLight crystal and whispered, “All clear, situation is blue sky, we are OTM.”

“You will not be made to wait, Your Highness. While unexpected, the princesses are aware of the train’s arrival and have made arrangements to see you following their morning debriefing and breakfast. A modest spread of food and drink can be made ready for you if you wish it and they will meet you in the throne room afterwards.”

Raven glanced to her right, wishing she had more cameras or crystals to see with so as to not need turn her head. There was an unmistakable smugness to the prince’s face that she made note of after he gestured for the hospitality. Internally, Raven called up her integrated earpiece that Sunset kept nearby at all times in the pouch her PAAL unit used to ride in. By her internal calculations the earpiece should still be in broadcast range. After a few rings the line connected.

“Mmruuwhaa?”

“Finish your cuddling, get a coffee in you, and get up. It’s a Saddle Arabian prince here to see the two of you,” Raven replied where none of the others could hear.

“Lovely.”

“Consider yourself warned.”

One hour later Raven had dismissed most of the guards back to their stations and Prince Khayaliun, as a show of courtesy, had done the same leaving only the prince, Raven, Muhasib, and four of their guards each in trail escort on the way to the throne room. Now back on the palace complex grounds with access to her visual network, the AI felt more at ease in regards to her information and reaction control. Not that they would have been able to spot her anxiety on such matters.

Raven had answered all the questions the pair had asked that she felt she was capable of or allowed to answer. Once she knew Twilight and Sunset were on their thrones and ready she had informed their guests that the princesses were prepared and awaiting them.

“Miss Raven, I noticed you did not eat anything. I would hate to see you falter due to an empty stomach.”

Raven did not bother to look away from the throne room double doors just ahead as the entourage continued down the “Hall of Heroes” with its massive stained glass windows. They were especially vibrant first thing in the morning when backlit by the rising sun. Something Celestia had likely requested intentionally when the castle was originally built. Large scale art that was too big to ignore had a profound impact on the viewer’s psyche especially when it was the first time being witnessed. Judging by how the entourage had to slow to a crawl while Prince Khayaliun examined each pane likely meant he had never seen them himself. Something else Raven took note of.

The only physical reaction Raven gave the prince for his statement was to blink her eyes, which she only did because occasionally her optics did need to be cleared and not blinking made others uncomfortable. She found that out through curious experimentation. “You need not worry about me, Your Highness. Water is all I require most of the time. Maybe a bit of sun if I’m feeling a little low on power.”

The prince chuckled politely unaware that she was, in fact, not jesting. With a signal gesture they continued and the guards turned and opened the two massive wooden double doors to the throne room. After the last of the entourage entered The solar guard resumed their post and closed the doors behind them. The four Equestrian escort guards took station on the left side of the room while the Al Haras guards took up position on the right, which was considered customary.

Princess Twilight Sparkle, in full regalia with her twinkling indigo and magenta striped mane billowing in ethereal breeze sat upright, waiting for the prince to pay respects before speaking or returning said courtesy. Princess Sunset Shimmer, who sat on her throne just to the left tried to mimic her fiancés prim and proper posture while also wearing her black armor plate and regalia, but Raven spotter her moving a tad slower, even her mane's billowing was a bit lack lustered, which was not uncommon first thing in the morning when the night princess would have preferred to be sleeping like her Aunt Luna.

The grand vizier approached the dais and beckoned his prince to do the same. Both Saddle Arabians bowed just enough to be polite, but not to be constituted as submissive before the grand vizier spoke. “Princesses of Equestria, stewards of the blessed sun and soothing moon. We have come to you with great haste to both lay grievance at your hooves and opportunity simultaneously. This one, is but a humble messenger of our most holy lord, Sultan Al Hisan Ealia. I am Grand Vizier and primary advisor, Muhasib.”

“Grand vizier,” Twilight said with a nod of her head, “we have met more than once. Most recently in the Crystal Empire to discuss shipping lanes and port dues that were in need of updating. I found our talks informative and enjoyable. I hope for more of the same.”

The older grey horse smiled and nodded. “You humble me, Your Highness.”

Sunset glanced to Twilight who in turned glanced back and snuck a quick wink to her lover for both fun and reassurance. Sunset would have gladly done more, but the other guest before them, who was far more overdressed, stepped forward. Muhasib bowed again and gestured to the prince.

“I bring with me the second son of His Holiness, Prince Hisan Khayaliun. This is his first time in Equestria, but he has been an advent student of your ways and people. Your open door concepts of friendship to all creatures fascinates him and will no doubt fill long hours of discussion this evening.”

“Not to be rude or to squash formalities,” said Sunset Shimmer before anyone else could tell her not to. She could practically feel Isabella seething in the corner. “However, there was a word you mentioned just a minute ago that really caught my attention and I really could use some elaboration on. You mentioned, grievances.”

“Ah, yes. That.” Muhasib reached into his robes and extracted a scroll which he passed to Raven. Raven took the paper delicately in her mouth and held it up for Twilight to grab with her magic. Twilight cracked the royal seal and began to speed read with Sunset reading right along side her. They both jumped back at nearly the same moment.

“W-WHAT?!”

“Oh, you gotta be fucking kidding me.”

The grand vizier blinked at the unfamiliar and uncouth profanity while the prince merely chuckled at their reactions.

“This, this must be some sort of joke,” said Twilight, passing the scroll over to Isabella to examine.

“A really bad joke,” added Sunset, her eyes narrowing at the two dignitaries.

“His Holiness is known for his generosity and big heart, not for his sense of humor. I am afraid it is not a jest and is quite real.” The grand vizier beckoned for the scroll back from Isabella after she had examined it and cleared his throat to read aloud. “The Kingdom of Saddle Arabia has languished for thousands of years as a second class nation to the alicorn princesses of Equestria and more recently, its allied nation to the north, The Crystal Empire. It was the gracious request of Sultan Al Hisan Ealia that the youngest princess of Equestria enter courtship with Prince Alsame Aldhahabiu in the hopes of matrimony and further strengthening of bonds between nations.

“Since said courtship failed to come under contract, the sultan has come to understand that another princess has emerged from hiding in Equestria. The daughter of the late Princess of the Sun herself, Celestia. Eternal blessings be upon her soul. This over consolidation of world power cannot be allowed to continue unchecked. So, it is with a heavy heart and stern words that His Holiness now DEMANDS that the newest princess enter courtship with one or both of his prince sons. Failure to do so will be seen as an insult beyond reasonable measure and an act of war.”

The grand vizier lowered the scroll and returned it to one of his storage pockets on his robes. Sunset turned to Twilight who stared right back at her fellow princess and fiancé, jaw hanging open.

The grand vizier cleared his throat. “I believe the floor should now be opened to any and all questions so that the negotiation and details of the betrothal can begin. To avoid a world tragedy, of course.”

Author's Note:

Good evening all. I had the day off of work today for personal errands and whatnot. So, I took advantage of it after having to buy two tires for my car and got right into writing. Pounded out a whole chapter in one day so I figure it is a good day to post an early chapter. Assuming the weekend does not implode, Chapter 3 will still go up Sunday.

Tempests and Gauge are on 'Meet the Parents' duty. That couldn't possibly feel awkward given that they now have TWO kids!

And the Saddle Arabians have arrived. Yaaaay. Things just keep getting better.

Questions? Comments?

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