• Published 3rd Apr 2022
  • 1,374 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 4: The Day the World Went Away

Location Unknown-Long Ago

Clover the Clever felt his body twist in ways he had not imagined possible. He had once seen the physical trauma that a raging minotaur had inflicted upon a pony, leaving the body twisted and broken. That had caused more than one nightmare. Thankfully, this unexpected magical reforming did not necessarily hurt, which was just as much a surprise as anything else, but it was strange to say the least. He had to shut his eyes to the bright kaleidoscope of colors that bombarded his senses. If this was the path souls took to the Golden City he was going to have some words with the gatekeeper before the end even if they were ultimately pointless.

Suddenly, the light show ended and Clover felt himself land on soft forest decay of leaves and rotting sticks… well, mostly soft. He was pretty certain he landed on that memory stone as well. Clover groaned as he rolled over to his back and dared to open his eyes. It was dark, that much was certain. Moonlight and a few stars could be seen through the foliage and tree canopy, shimmering and casting unusual shadows as the leaves moved in the gentle wind. If they were dead and this was the end at least it was not so bad. Mild temperature too.

It started as a small giggle, then perhaps it was a chuckle. Finally, it was full on maniacal laughter. Not the sound of a sane individual, but he knew that laugh well. It used to warm his heart. Now it just sent a chill down his spine.

“D-Datura?” The laughing continued, but did begin to subside. “Datura? Are you well and unharmed?”

“IT WORKED!” Clover heard his wife scream. “All that math and calculations and dimensional theory PROVEN CORRECT! The last missing piece was the astral alignment! BRILLIANT!”

“Datura, where are you? I can’t see you.”

“……..”

“Datura?”

“My… my hoof… My… is this some sort of transfiguration or cross dimensional morph… my fur is…. MY HORN! AHHHHHH!!!!!”

Clover scrambled to his hooves only to find that they did not respond correctly and he fell again. When he went to examine his foreleg, holding it close to his face in a beam of moonlight he discovered that his hoof was gone. In its place was an appendage similar to a dragon or griffon talon with five individual, independently movable digits. Clover in turn screamed, “Datura! What have you done to us?!”

He saw movement several paces away, a figure in a cloak was hunched over, the slightest glint of light in her wet eyes. Then, he saw the flash of white teeth and she pulled the hood over her head and scampered away into the blackness of the forest. Clover moved to follow but tripped over a rock or tree root and tumbled burying his face in the fallen material and tasting rich soil in his mouth.

He had no idea where she had gone, or where he was and for some reason his magic was not working. Clover brushed the soil from his mouth when he realized his muzzle was much shorter than it had been. The not-hooves patted his face and found it far flatter than it had been. They continued upwards and found hair upon his head where it should be, but his horn was missing. An overwhelming sense of fear and dread filled Clover in a way he had never felt before. Vulnerability, nakedness, panic, all of it flooding him at once and he turned his cry to the night sky.

“DAAAAATUUUURAAAA!!!!!”

----------

Canterlot Castle: Present Day

Sunset Shimmer slammed the door to the antechamber so hard that the latch broke clean off. She growled at it as if it had intended to break as a means of personal insult. The destroyed latch was then surrounded by magenta magical aura and replaced and repaired with the door as if the incident had not happened at all. Except that it had. And for good reason.

“Sunny,” Twilight Sparkle said with well practiced, soothing calm, “please calm down.”

Sunset Shimmer growled and snorted. She made a lap around the small room that was quite cramped with five individuals in it before finally coming to rest just before Twilight. She sat, took a deep breath, and exhaled through her nose. Unsurprising, if still a bit disturbing, wisps of smoke trailed from her nostrils.

“Calm? How exactly am I supposed to remain calm when I just got told I need to marry a Saddle Arabian prince or PRINCES, yeah that was a nice little add on, right? Anyhow, get hitched or else Saddle Arabia will consider it an act of FUCKING WAR because BOO HOO Equestria had all the alicorns and they have none!”

“For the record, I would be quite upset as well,” said Sable Nimbus, moving to pat Sunset on her armored shoulder.

Twilight nodded and conceded the point. “She is perfectly allowed to be upset. However, this is a tiny room and I don’t want any creature getting hurt in case she accidentally ignites her wings. So please, keep it together, um babe?”

Sunset’s eyes snapped back into focus on Twilight who was forcing a loving and disarming smile to try and defuse the tense situation. Twilight’s ill timed pet name that lacked any confidence in its usage caused Sunset Shimmer to finally snort and chuckle. She took another deep breath and leaned forward to nuzzle Twilight and slide their horns along one another.

“If you are going to call me babe or honey or sexy sugar rump or whatever you need to say it with some panache, Twily.”

“I’m not good with pet names or nicknames, well beyond easy ones, like Sunny or Isa. But it helped calm your panic and that was what I was going for.”

“If clearer heads have returned we need to discuss our strategy and quickly,” commented Isabella. “We cannot leave the grand vizier and prince waiting for too long less it be considered additional insult. Requesting a small break for private discussion was necessary, but we need a plan, now.”

“We could simply tell the arrogant meat bags to go to hell and that if they find that insulting we would be happy to feed them to Cerberus instead.”

Sunset grinned at Raven. “If not for the whole declared war thing that would be my first choice.”

Isabella rolled her eyes and groaned at the oncoming headache. “You two are incorrigible. Fine, I will be the adult in the room. We need to return and humbly request more information on why they would issue such a harsh ultimatum to begin with. This is bold, even for them. We have placated and shown great deference to their unique culture over the years.
Surely, they must be aware that the two of you are already engaged. It was easily the biggest news of the century when it was announced. There must be some sort of socio-economical mechanization going on that they feel that having an alicorn under the sultan’s hoof will somehow magically solve everything.”

“Yes, questions. I can do questions! I can make a list of questions right now! And Spike! I need Spike here, now!” Twilight summoned a quill and parchment and began mumbling as she wrote with a grin on her face. Isabella quickly dialed Ambassador Spike’s number on her SunLight crystal and retreated to the corner to wait for him to answer. Sunset glanced to Raven who simply rolled her eyes.

“You know, if you carried Smartypants with you more you could have just had her record the questions and then display them on her holo projector. Would be faster and save on paper a tiny bit.”

“Meh, I prefer parchment. Besides, she is still not working right. Every time I try to talk to her about being put to a task she complains she can’t do it without an internet connection and then goes into standby. I think she’s become too depressed to function.”

“She’s probably just jealous that I have a Mobile Assistant Unit and she doesn’t. We can function just fine without connectivity.”

Sunset smirked and poked Raven in the shoulder. “You nearly had a virtual coronary when you realized there was no internet here. And you could always let her take the body for a test ride now and again. You know, just to be fair.”

“And you could give my non-existent butthole a royal rim job instead of spoiling Twilight with them. You know, just to be fair.” Sable snorted, Isabella groaned, Twilight was too engrossed to listen, and Sunset giggled and stuck out her tongue. “Seriously, this was my gift from you. No other PAAL, and since Smartypants IS the only other PAAL in this world, gets to drive this body but me.”

“Fair enough.”

“Okay,” said Twilight, rolling her list up, “I have a small list of pressing and important questions to ask our guests. Are we ready to find out what is really going on?”

“Armed with a Twilight Sparkle list and a shitload of sarcasm… ready as I’ll ever be this early in the day.”

Twilight kissed Sunset’s cheek which made them both smile brightly and led the others back out of the antechamber.

It probably was seen as a minor slight that all the princesses and all their advisors quickly exited the throne room leaving the grand vizier and prince alone with the guards. However, they were right where the group had left them and did not appear outwardly insulted. The grand vizier even went as far as to bow once again when the princesses stopped before him and his prince.

“It is good that you have returned promptly. I assume that you have come to a consensus and accepted our terms?”

“Uh, not quite,” said Twilight with a polite smile. “We have a number of pressing concerns that must be addressed first and more importantly, we have questions.”

“Yeah. For instance, if you wanted to marry me with your brother, where is your brother? And is he the better looking of you two? Not that you are hard on the eyes mind you, you got a decent build and a pretty face, you know, for a kid who is like a hundred and thirty years younger than me, but you’re the second son. I find that kinda odd.” Twilight glared amethyst daggers at Sunset. “What?”

“Seriously? Those are the most pressing questions that come to your mind?!”

“Oh, right, sorry. It’s still early and I got sidetracked." Sunset quickly glanced over at the list. "First things first. Did you know I was already engaged to be married to this beautiful and patient mare right here next to me? I was just reminded that it was pretty much the biggest news of the last century.”

Grand Vizier Muhasib nodded his acknowledgment. “Yes, we, and by extension, his holiness the sultan, was also quite aware of the engagement. However, we had believed at first that perhaps it had been misprinted and Princess Flurry Heart was who had courted the high princess.”

“Are you kidding me… SHE’S MY NIECE FOR CELESTIA’S SAKE!”

“Yes, we would have found that odd as well, but this is Equestria. Perhaps such rumors are completely unfounded? As such, this was why when further investigation revealed that it was in fact the elusive and mysterious daughter of Princess Celestia who had finally taken her rightful crown upon her mother’s death his holiness felt it was finally necessary we come to make our case heard. And so, it went to the advisors and the merchants and the seers and then back to the royal family. By the time a nationwide consensus was reached your engagement was well known and considered a dangerous consolidation of power both magical and political.

“Equestria has a goddess of the sun. Equestria has a goddess of friendship. The Crystal Empire, which is just a protectorate of Equestria even has a goddess of love. But the princess of the moon had abdicated more than a century ago. And when Sunset Shimmer took up the mantle of the moon and wished to forever bond her heart and soul with the sun, that is in our eyes a dangerous and quite frankly insulting centralization of authority and power over the entire world as we know it.”

“My lord,” Isabella interjected before Sunset could retort, “Celestia and Luna held the exact same power and station for centuries. During the second age, as Equestrians calls it, it was even more centralized as Celestia commanded both the sun and moon for one thousand years while her sister was exiled. You are trying to make a case of centralized power leading to corruption, but Equestria has held this power since its founding for thousands of years. Why now? Why does this offend you so?”

“Because look what stands before us,” said Prince Khayaliun. “The most beautiful and power mares in all of existence. Saddle Arabia has beauties that poets and bards have told the tales of for thousands of years and yet we have never been blessed with the divinity of alicornhood. My father has grown old. None dare speak of it, but those of us close to the sultan know he is not long for this world. It is his wish for his son or sons if it is to be so, to have the most beautiful wife in all of existence by his side and to produce an heir that will bring our nations closer together through magic, harmony, and blood. That is why I am here. I gladly present myself to fulfil the sultan's desire and I wish to marry you, Princess Sunset Shimmer. For the good of the world and because I find you most captivating.”

Sunset arched a brow, sighed, then pointed to the earring in her left ear. She then pointed to the amethyst earring of the same design in Twilight's ear. “Did you miss the part about already engaged?”

“Long courtships are common amongst our tribe as well," said the grand vizier matter-of-factly. "This gives ample time for changes to occur or be canceled entirely. You are not married yet and if it the arrangements are an issue we can use them as you have set forth or compensate others financially for their time. For the good of both our nations you must end your previous engagement and accept this proposal.”

Sunset could feel Twilight tense up like a weather pressure system about to burst and gently placed a golden wing across her fellow princess’s withers. The purple princess took a deep breath and glanced to Sunset and gave her a thankful smile.

“Princess Twilight worked reeeeeeeally hard on the invitations, the details, every possible aspect from the location to the way the napkins are supposed to be folded. In fact, your dad is probably getting our RSVP with the set date right now if he has not already. Heck, it took her over a week to decide on what script font text to use and paper type because it was THAT important to her. Oh, and you would not believe what I went through to get these earrings commissioned in secret. I got shot at by the police trying to make it back in time!”

“If it is jewels you desire, I assure you, you will be covered in them so thoroughly that a dragon could smell you ten kilometers away.”

Sunset cringed and looked to Twilight who was also trying very hard to hold her diplomatic poise. “Um... wow. That… was one of the worse pickup lines I have ever heard. Seriously.”

Before anything else could be said the throne room doors opened and closed just as abruptly. All eyes turned to find a brawny purple dragon dusting himself off and trying to calm his exhausted breathing. Twilight beamed at the sight of Spike bringing a true smile to her face.

“Sorry for my… whew… haven’t flown that hard in a while. I’m getting out of shape.” Spike coughed into his claw. “Anyhow, I was told there was a bit of a diplomatic situation at hoof and I am here to assist.”

“Ambassador Spike, yes. Your reputation as Equestria’s top diplomat precedes you,” said Muhasib. “However, given the personal nature of this matter perhaps it would be best if the princesses handled this themselves.”

Spike stepped off to the side, near the edge of the tranquility stream that ran through the perimeter of throne room. He examined the guards, then the expressions of the royal assistants, and finally Sunset and Twilight. He nodded, cracked the knuckles in his claws, gave his neck a quick stretch, and flashed a toothy grin.

“Grand Vizier Muhasib, we’ve met before, always an honor and a pleasure. Blessing be upon the sultan and holy one, Al Hisan Ealia. May he live long and fruitful," Spike said smoothly and respectfully, including a bow at the waist. "Judging by the fine clothing choice and the guards in black I’m guessing that this is one of the holy sultan’s sons. I apologize that we have not met before.”

“Very astute, lord dragon. I am Prince Hisan Khayaliun.”

Spike bowed his head, respectfully to the prince. “Oh, I’m just getting warmed up, my lord colt. See, I’ve been studying under Princess Twilight since I first learned to read. And now, the only thing I can read better than a book is how to read a room. Without even having to know what this is all about, your eminence, I can tell this is not going to be solve by lunch and if you guys don’t get some more coffee and maybe a bagel into Sunset Shimmer we are going to have a potential fire hazard on our hooves.

“So, how about we do this. I will gladly take the prince out on a small tour of beautiful Canterlot, since I am all but certain he’s never seen it. With an escort, of course. Sunset can go find Luna to consult with and maybe take a breather. The grand vizier and Twilight will then have less conflicting opinions and ‘chefs in the kitchen’ as the saying goes. That will allow Isabella, who knows procedural law like no creature’s business to be freed up and at both your disposal. Sable can handle the commons petitioners that are starting to line up while Raven handles the nobility who will start rumors for fun if they don't get an update on all this soon. With all hooves and claws set to task I imagine that by the time we get back from the tour, just before lunch that an initial draft will be ready for the others to look at and discuss. Sound good?”

Eyes exchanged glances and there were nods of consent all around. Twilight beamed at her brother and former yet always to her heart, number one assistant, and how much he had grown. Spike smiled and flashed Twilight a wink before turning back to the Saddle Arabians.

“Good. In that case, my good prince, I am Ambassador Spike and I will be your humble tour guide this mid-morning.”

“Your reputation for handling a room is well earned, sir dragon. Please, show me the best the crown jewel of Equestria has to offer.” Prince, Khayaliun glanced back at Sunset and blew her a kiss. “Until this afternoon, my wife to be.”

“Uhhhh…”

“Let us go find if Mistress Luna is in the mood for a coffee, shall we, my princess?”

Sunset shook her head and smiled at Sable Nimbus, following the red maned bat pony through the throne room’s antechamber door away from the prince’s entourage.

“Right, I guess I’ll go deal with the nobles and all their wonderful speculations. Yay, me,” said Raven with an eyeroll.

Once the throne room door closed Isabella straightened her dress jacket and her posture. “Perhaps this should be taken to the secondary dining hall for privacy and comfort. I can have refreshments ready and waiting by the time we arrive.”

“That’s an excellent idea, Isa,” said Twilight. The grand vizier nodded as well. Isabella made a call on her SunLight crystal to the kitchen staff and began to lead her princess and the remaining guards out the door.

----------

Sunset found Luna in her tower. After Sable explained the situation Luna immediately broke out one of her special blends and began making two large cups of coffee for her and her niece. In the safety and privacy of Luna’s tower Sunset let all her troubles air out.

“This is the most fucking ridiculous thing that has ever happened to me and I have had A LOT of weird shit happen to me over the years.”

“Agreed. And thou has still yet to reach thy bicentennial of age. One can only surmise the lunacy that will surely follow that milestone.”

Sunset removed all her armor save for her helm crown and flopped on one of Luna’s couches with a groaning sigh, stretching her forelegs and wings out across the whole piece of furniture. “Seriously though, the balls on these guys. Coming to our country and our castle and saying ‘Hey there, babydoll hot stuff, you need to marry me so my brother and I can spit roast you for bragging rights on who gets to put the foal in your belly and then put you on display like a trophy wife just so we can say, we have an alicorn too!’ This is probably why mom never married dad because it would have pissed someone, somewhere off.”

“On that, I am afraid I could only speculate, same as you. Celestia never spoke much about your father after the whole mirror incident that nearly ripped our worlds asunder.” Luna came to sit next to Sunset with two steaming mugs of coffee in her indigo magical aura, careful to not crush her niece’s wing. Sunset gladly accepted hers and took a scalding sip, relishing the blended flavors of cinnamon, honey, and something that reminded her of raspberries.

“The easy answer here is to obviously send them packing, but… with a threat of war? Can we be that arrogant and callous on the hope it's a bluff? I’m having trouble seeing a way out of this that ends well for both our nations.”

Luna nodded. “Clearly some sort of consensus will need to be reached, but NOT one which has you being effectively taken hostage to the other side of the world and away from your beloved. If they think we will simply bow to their demands they are in for the bitter taste of disappointment.”

“Yeah, Twilight was not real keen on the idea of me being left behind on the other side of the mirror for thirty moons again, so I don’t think she would appreciate postponing the wedding another hundred years. Or for me being the sacrificial lamb in this even if we both will totally outlive those princes.” Sunset stared into her brew as if it held the secrets of the universe, thoughts and scenarios plaguing her mind. “I’m the daughter of Celestia, granddaughter of the Goddess of Creation, I can move the sun and the moon anytime I feel like it, I have more power than I have any right to have, and somehow, even after all the shit I’ve put her through with my actions and behavior Twilight still loves me and wants to marry me. There is no way I’m giving that up for politics.”

“Hmm.”

“Hmm?”

Luna smirked and giggled a bit. “Oh, I just had a wicked thought is all.”

Sunset grinned and poked Luna with her hoof. “Well, c’mon, share. I could use a good laugh after all this load of horse shit.”

“I was just thinking. I too am unwed. Perhaps I should offer myself in your place?”

“You… you can’t be serious. You would do that?”

“It would not be my first choice, no, but to spare our ponies the horrors of blood soaked soil in an unnecessary war of pride? To save you? Without hesitation. In addition, an immature part of my mind wonders if two young, strapping stallions could keep a mare such as I satisfied or if they would find me too old and undesirable for their tastes.”

“If I may be so bold, Mistress,” commented Sable with a heat of intensity to her generally sweet voice. While Spike's plan had been sound, Sable had chosen to allocate the handling of petitioners to subordinates so as to stay by Sunset's side. She stepped closer to the two alicorns and Sunset was ashamed to admit that she had forgotten the bat pony was still in the room since she had dutifully remained near the door like a statue during the entire tirade. “Your unquestionable beauty and immense sexual prowess would snuff such arrogant young princes of all life in a matter of days if they attempted to try and satisfy you fully.”

Luna smirked at Sable who winked and flashed a fanged grin at her goddess. Sunset knew Sable worshiped the ground Luna tread upon, as did all thestrals, but there was more conviction to her words and Sunset could sense the love and devotion that went beyond duty. It was no secret that many of the thestral night guards served Luna in a sexual capacity at her request, but with Sable Nimbus… was it more? Such things were more Cadance's area of expertise. The thought passed as Sunset’s mind returned to the matter at hoof.

“Well, she’s not wrong. I mean, he’s not bad looking, but you would rock his world so hard his ancestors would probably orgasm from the grave.”

The three mares giggled and Luna proudly jumped up to slap her own bottom with a wing. “Tis all true! Only the most worthy of stallions and mares could satisfy this goddess of the night and live to tell the tale! Still, for you, beloved niece, I would be willing to entertain the proposition if it means avoiding war and that you and Twilight get to have what you most desire. A life together, bonded as wives in holy matrimony. Standing before all of Equestria as one heart and one soul.”

Sunset raised her cup and clinked it lightly against Luna’s. “Thanks, Aunt Luna. It’s nice to have a backup plan.”

----------

Spike had not really had a plan or a clue of what had happened. His schedule for diplomatic work was supposed to be clear for at least another two weeks before a scheduled trip to the Dragon Lands. All he knew was Twilight needed help and he dropped his SunLight Crystal faster than a poison joke covered crystal cupcake. His wife, Smolder, had asked him what was going on and he had shouted from down the hall, “Twilight needs me. Emergency ambassadorial duties!” Smolder did not protest, but he could tell he was going to owe her something special for the short notice departure. Thankfully, Princess Flurry Heart was still at the Castle of Friendship as well and could help his wife out with their son or anything regarding the school.

And so Spike arrived, defused what appeared to be a growing tense situation, heard the prince call Sunset his, ‘beloved’ or something like that, and ushered part of the problem out the door. Divide and conquer, that was the name of the game. Later someone was going to have to explain to him what the who-hay was going on.

“And this is a must see in all of Canterlot,” Spike said with a wide gesture of his arm. “The Fountains of Heroes square. I used to have my own statue here, but Discord replaced mine with one of himself, right over there.”

The prince rubbed his chin, arching a brow. “And you allowed this slight to happen?”

Spike shrugged. “Meh, he’s my friend. Besides, I have a bigger statue of myself in the Crystal Empire. Seriously, it's huge! You may or may not have heard or read, but I’m kind of a big deal there.”

Prince Khayaliun nodded and rubbed his chin as he examined the sculptures. “They are well crafted. Public art involving water has always been fascinating to me considering how my country is far more arid than this part of Equestria. It would be an excessive waste of water to have fountains such as these out in the burning sun of the Saddle Arabian desert. Still, they are…” the prince trailed off.

Spike had been listening, as was part of his job even if the representative blathered on about nothing, but there was something unusual going on. The square was always a bustling hub or all kinds of creatures who came to buy and sell. But for some reason, it was quiet, unusually quiet. Especially for this time of day. Shops were usually opening and preparing to catch tourist and others out and about for a brunch special. Instead, there were only a few other creatures moseying about, appearing just as confused by the lack of open booths as he was.

It was then that Spike realized the prince had stopped talking.

“Hey, Varnish,” said one of the thestral guards who had chosen to join the entourage. Spike turned to see he was poking the solar guard in the side, but the guard’s eyes were still pointed forward and he seemed almost in a trance. “What in the name of the mistress is wrong with you, private?” The other thestral, a mare named Willow, was having a similar problem with the solar guard opposite of her.

“I must go to her.”

“Huh?” Spike whipped back around to the prince who began to lumber forward, but not in a graceful way. He stumble-trotted almost as if he were sleepwalking drunk. A moment later the two solar guards and four black clad Al Haras also began to stumble forward.

“Go.”

“She calls.”

“Must answer the call.”

Spike stood his ground as his scales twitched and a shiver traveled down his spine at their zombie-like behavior. He had read enough horror stories and comics to know that something was very, very wrong here.

“Go where? Who is she and why are you all walking like that?”

“I’m calling dispatch,” said Willow as she retrieved her SunLight crystal and dialed the number. A moment later, the crystal let out a high pitched tone that caused the thestral to wince painfully and the crystal fractured and smoked, losing its magical power enchantment. “Ow! Son of a… it’s never done that before.”

“I don’t like this, corporal.”

Willow nodded in agreement, reaching for her weapon as her eyes and ears remained on a swivel. “Ambassador, something is wrong with them. Grab the prince and get out of here as fast as you can. We’ll cover your escape.”

Spike was not keen on the idea of leaving the others, but he had to protect the principal representative. He moved to grab the Saddle Arabian and suddenly the black clad guards all circled their prince, brandishing weapons and a few revealed glowing horns with prepared attack spells.

Spike held up his claws in a calming, disarming manner. While the Saddle Arabian horses were taller he still towered over them. “Guys, listen, I don’t want to hurt you, but I need to get your prince out of here. Something weird is going on.”

“Weird?” Spike and the two thestrals turned to sound of a voice. It was distinctly feminine, sultry, far too at ease given the oddity of the situation. “What a generic term. Not to mention the spelling or use in different tongues can have a wide range of meanings. Wyrd. Wherd. And so on.”

Willow and Hatch retrieved their extendable polearms and took defensive positions next to Spike. A mare came out around from the far side of the central fountain, gliding one hoof along the edge of the collection pool. She turned her dark blue eyes away from the sculpture and stared directly at the three who were standing ready to attack.

“Now, if you want to talk about what is weird, you two are weird. Back in my time there was no such thing as ‘bat ponies’ or thestrals. Your fluffy ears are quite adorable though. Points for you on that front. I just want to nibble and nuzzle them.”

“Are you causing this? Identify yourself!” shouted Willow.

The yellow ochre colored pony turned her eyes to Spike and she let out a cat call whistle. “My, my, my, you are a gorgeous specimen of your kind. Not too big, not small. I wonder, did you sire these demi-ponies? That would certainly explain why they are not under my control. The bat wings would suggest some sort of transmutation magic or potin with dragon’s blood. A ritual perhaps? Hmm… I guess I’ll just have to tear one apart to check for myself.”

“W-what?”

“Did she just say, ‘under my control’?”

Willow’s eyes widened and she tighten the grip on her staff. “Oh, buck! She’s using some kind of mind control magic on them!”

Spike looked at the ponies in their group, then looked left and right and noticed the ponies and a few other creatures standing around the square, unmoving. There had to be two dozen or more. “N-No way… She’s controlling all of them? At once?!”

The mare laughed. It reminded Spike too much of Rarity in all the wrong ways. Too playful and flirty. Too happy at her own accomplishment. It was… wrong. “Oh, sweet thing, you say it like it’s so hard. Most of these ponies don’t have enough mental capacity and defenses to rub two bits together let alone keep me out. Now a dragon in the Equestrian capital… you, I was not expecting. Fascinating to say the least. Dragons have natural defenses against magic and magical attacks, dark or otherwise. Your skulls are just a teensie bit too hard or perhaps your brains are just too small for me to work with. Never had a chance to really tear into a dragon to find out for sure. All I could ever get my hooves on were bits and pieces.”

“I’d like all my bits and pieces to stay right where they are, thank you very much. I’m Ambassador Spike, chief diplomat to the princesses of Equestria and-”

“Yes, yes, blah, blah, blah. I know of you. I just skimmed all the necessary information from that guard right there, Varnish Shine. His head is particularly empty, but it did contain some useful information of names, and, oh, a complete layout of the castle. Yes, that will come in handy when it’s time.” Varnish began to spasm and convulse. “Oh! Look at that! He’s trying to fight back against my rummaging around in his head. Good show, little tool.” The mare lit her horn and a magical grip surrounded the guard’s head a moment before it twisted his head completely around with a wet, sickening crack.

Spike released a fireball and the two thestrals launched themselves at the ochre mare in the cloak. The mare raised one of her forelegs that appeared to be made of metal and swatted the fireball away, it splashing harmlessly into the fountain. With a gesture, the four sultan guards and two solar guards charged Spike with weapons drawn. Spike raised his arms to protect his face and was shot twice in his softer, exposed belly by magical horn blasts. They did not penetrate his hide, but still stung terribly.

“Graaarh!” Spike spun and picked up the other solar guard, tossing his weapon away. He quickly turned back and threw the guard at the six black clad horses. Two were knocked over, but were certainly not out of the fight. Spike prepared to charge to disable them when he was barraged by throwing blades. None penetrated deep, but they were driving him back, away from his only two allies.

Willow and Hatch took fighting positions on either side of the mare. They had trained for taking on rogue unicorns witches and warlocks, but neither had ever faced one in real combat before. Willow aimed for the mare’s horn, trying to disrupt her casting while Hatch when for her legs. The witch ducked and dodge with incredible speed, making their fight feel more like a well choreographed dance than a life or death battle. After several seconds of slashes, lunges, and deflected strikes, the mare completely surprised Willow when the end of her metal hoof opened and bent in on itself with five independently moving small appendages like a claw hand. The hand caught the staff in mid-swing and she bent the end until it snapped off. A second later, the center palm opened and an energy beam discharge a bolt that passed through the gaps in Willow’s armor and out the back of her shoulder, destroying her right wing arm.

Willow fell to the ground and screamed, her helmet falling off her head. A few seconds later, she stopped screaming and just stared out with a glazed over expression similar to the other thralls while she bled.

“So, not you then. The helmet has protections you did not even realize you had.” The mare turned and tried to tear the helmet from Hatch’s head, but the material resisted her telekinetic grip. Instead of being upset, however, she only smiled more. “Well, that certainly interesting.”

“Hatch!” shouted Spike, “Behind you!” The thestral turned to find the Saddle Arabian prince standing right next to him. A moment later a dagger was plunged into the guard’s exposed throat. The mare stepped up to the guard and gently lifted the helmet with her hooves as he fell to the ground, gasping and choking on his own blood. She examined the helmet, trying to at first scan it with magic, but then switched to a device built into her foreleg.

Spike roared and punched the guards violently, scattering them. He had tried to not injure them and in reward had received several cuts, some that had actually penetrated deep enough to cause some bleeding. Spike incapacitated the last Al Haras and lunged for the prince. He snatched the bloody dagger away and moved to smack the prince upside the head to knock him out when another energy bolt caught Spike in his raised armpit, one of his most vulnerable spots. The blast penetrated and Spike fell to the ground, feeling blood begin to ooze from the wound.

The mare sauntered over to Spike and kicked the side of his head hard enough to force him to roll over to his back. She reached into her satchel and retrieved two glass vial and began to fill them with Spike’s blood. “I would love to completely dissect you, but I’m afraid our little scuffle will draw too much attention too soon and this is not the grand arena just yet. Still, waste not want not and there are many things I can do with dragon’s blood. Oh, and I need a tooth too.”

“Wha?” Spike never got more than that out before a hard kick collided with his skull from the Saddle Arabian prince. The mare then reached down with her hoof claw and pulled on one of Spike’s fangs until it tore free. Spike screamed and was kicked again and again until he finally passed out from the pain.

Datura took a small sampling of the blood and painted a clover on Spike’s forehead before turning her eyes back to the prince. “Shall we be off my prince?”

“Off, yes. Will follow you anywhere, my love.”

“There’s a good little tool.” Datura laughed as she stashed her trophies next to the stolen thestral helmet to study it further. “Come along then. We have a lot of work still to do.” As she walked out of the square a small crowd fell into lumbering step behind her.

Author's Note:

Poor Spike. I hated doing that to such a good guy, but at least she didn't carve his heart out. Twilight would have been devastated by that. So yeah, Datura has claimed first blood. It won't be last.

I completed chapter 14 this weekend so I will go ahead and post chapter 5 on Wednesday. So far I am liking the pace of this. Hope everyone is having a satisfying time reading along.

Questions? Comments?

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