• Published 28th Dec 2011
  • 73,062 Views, 3,791 Comments

ARTICLE 2 - Muppetz



An alien crash lands in Equestria. It calls itself human.

  • ...
175
 3,791
 73,062

ARTICLE 2 Part III

ARTICLE 2

Part III

By: Muppetz (!Gsih3Wfnlk)

Pinkie Pie concentrated intently on the cupcake sitting on the table before her. Focusing all her attention on the sugary confection, she twisted her head left and right, analyzing it from all sides. Her visage was cold and calculating. With surgical precision she inched her head forward and peeled back the paper cup that encased the base of the treat. The cake rested on the paper, bare. Pinkie Pie circled, stalking it like a tigress, awaiting the perfect opportunity to strike her prey. She crouched close to the floor. She crept up to the base of the table and slowly rose toward the top, until only her eyes and nose peeked over its edge. In a spontaneous pink blur the cupcake disappeared. To an untrained eye the only noticeable changes were Pinkies cheeks, engorged with sugary cake, and her lips, smeared with vanilla frosting. She slowly started chewing. Like a connoisseur of fine wines, she shifted the cupcake around her mouth. She rolled her eyes in contemplation, occasionally lifting a quizzical eyebrow.

Twilight magically lifted a teacup to her mouth. She was again glad to be a unicorn, because her hooves were still trembling. She couldn’t shake her jitters. The events of late replayed over and over in her head, despite her best efforts. The day's shocks flashed in her mind’s eye. She could still feel the icy metal against her throat; she could still hear the vibrations of his voice next to her ear. Her ever-logical curiosity questioned his apparent knowledge of the Equestrian language. However, it wasn’t necessarily that he spoke, nor was it really what he had said that interested Twilight the most; it was how he said it. Something was in his voice, maybe fear, maybe desperation, she couldn’t quite tell. One thing she was sure of; something had spooked him, bad. A book fell to the floor behind her; the leather bound tome collided with the marbled floor with a loud smack. Twilight nearly jumped out of her seat.

“Rainbow Dash! Will you quit yah quit yer’ horsin’ around keep yer’ hooves on the ground fer once?!” Applejack scolded the colorful pegasus, who flapped down from the top of a bookshelf.

“My bad,” She murmured contritely. Twilight was still shaking. Fluttershy crawled up onto the dais next to her and wrapped a soft yellow wing around her. The warm atmosphere of the lounge coupled with the serenity that emanated from the yellow pegasus helped calm Twilight.

The room was dim; a small crackling fire provided soft, ambient light. Bookshelves lined most of the walls, and each shelf supported rows upon rows of ancient, dusty knowledge. The girls sat in front of the fire place. Several plush cushions and low easy chairs provided a quiet place to sit and read amongst the rows of literature. Twilight took in a deep breath, inhaling the scent of the room. It reminded her of her library home back in Ponyville and the connection helped her feel a bit better. She tried to recall Celestia’s lessons on meditation: a slow steady breathing technique; in through the nose, hold it for a moment, and out through the mouth. She repeated the process a few times and her heart lowered to steady rhythm. Yet she still felt a bit on edge.

“Are you alright Twilight? Fluttershy asked.

“I’m fine,” She replied, sounding far from confident. She held out a slightly shaking purple hoof. “It’s just the excess adrenaline working its way out of my system,” she rationalized to herself and anypony else.

“I simply can’t imagine how dreadfully frightening it must have been.” Rarity piped from her perch on a large cushion. “You’re absolutely certain it didn’t harm you, darling?”

Twilight nodded, her thoughts wandering. “I don’t think he ever wanted to.” Twilight said quietly.

“Uh, I hate to bring it back up, but didn’t he kinda hold you at knife point?” Dash pointed out, earning an angry glare from Applejack. But the comment didn't phase Twilight.

“I can’t explain it; maybe you had to have been there. He seemed…afraid.” Twilight shook her head, grasping to find better words to explain the feeling to her friends.

“I’m sure he was.” Fluttershy finally chimed in her soft tone. “Imagine how frightened the poor thing must have been!”

Poor thing?!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed angrily. Fluttershy shrank behind her pink veil of hair. “That ‘poor thing’ just knocked an innocent nurse out cold, held Twilight hostage, then beat the hay out of five guards, and Fluttershy feels sorry for it!” Dash threw her forelegs into the air. Fluttershy blushed but surprised everypony when she continued to defend her position.

“…well…think about it, I’m sure to him, we’re the aliens. He must have been terrified when he woke up and found a world full of strange creatures chasing him.”

“She has a point there, Dash.” Applejack agreed. “If ya’ll woke up on a strange planet and a bunch o’ alien monsters showed up and tried to run yah down, would you have just let em’ catch ya?” Dash folded her arms and grumbled under her breath.

“I don’t think it’s us he was afraid of.” Twilight corrected.

“What do you mean?” asked Rarity. “What else could have frightened him?”

“I don’t know.” The purple unicorn admitted, still struggling to communicate the feeling to her friends.

“At least you got to see it awake.” Dash complained as she hovered about the room once again. Twilight let out a blatantly sarcastic laugh.

“Yeah, lucky me.

“Ah jus’ don’t understand what could’a had the big fella so troubled that he’d go an’ try ta’...well…”

“…off himself?” Dash offered.

“…yeah.” Applejack finished. No one had an answer. The prospect of something so awful that the alien would rather die than face disturbed the girls greatly. They let silence fill the room; the longer it went on, the less willing the girls were to breach it.

Rainbow Dash continued to fly laps around the ceiling.

“…where the hay did the Princess go? We’ve been sitting here for like an hour” She finally said. They all agreed that waiting was getting more and more difficult to bear. Yet they all knew it was best to let the Princess act as she saw fit. So they resigned themselves to wait.

Silence fell over the girls again, each filly absorbed in their worried contemplation. The only exception was Pinkie Pie, who placed another pristine cupcake on the table. Once again she studied the confection. The girls cautiously observed for a few more moments before Rarity bravely spoke up.

“Pinkie, darling, what in the world are you up to over there?” Pinkie Pie looked up from her work. She wasn’t wearing her usual happy smile. In fact, she seemed rather upset.

“I’m trying to figure out why he didn’t eat the cupcake I left him” she huffed on the verge of tears. “What if…what if he didn’t like it” she sniffed, “…and that’s why he ran away?” She plopped down on her haunches and her pink hair started losing its tight curls, a dangerous sign the girls recognized instantly.

“Aw c’mon now, sugarcube. You make the best darn sweets in Equestria, and everypony knows it.” Applejack trotted over and nuzzled the side of Pinkie Pie head. Pinkie brightened slightly.

“Really?” She looked up at the orange farm pony. All the girls nodded encouragingly, voicing their agreement. Pinkie’s smile widened.

“Absolutely darling,” Rarity rose from her cushion and approached Pinkie Pie. “…and if you don’t believe us, well then we’ll just have to ask him ourselves.” An excited grin spread across the pink pony’s face.

~~~~~

Celestia stalked through the castle corridors in search of her sister. Two dozen of the Royal guard accompanied her in an impressive formation. They hindered her progress a bit, but some small part of her was grateful for their protection. She did not fear the creature, but it did have a nasty habit of throwing proverbial monkey wrenches into her plans. She located her sister’s presence with a quick and easy spell. Luna's aura blazed like a bright sun amongst dim stars. An unusual testament, given her position as the Princess of the Night. Luna was in the dungeon and Celestia felt a pang of dread. Nothing said “good first impression” like a dungeon. Yet the beast seemed to be doing everything in his power to be placed there. Luna’s presence suddenly disappeared.

After a moment of confusion Luna reappeared in her private quarters at the other end of the castle. Putting Luna’s peculiar behavior out of her mind, Celestia quickened her stride, and the guards at her sides kept pace. Celestia hurried toward another presence, one that felt foreign. She had no doubt what emitted that peculiar aura. Celestia wished she could simply teleport there but she did not like the prospect of abandoning her guards. She was confident the alien posed no threat against her power, but millennia of experience had taught her that the safer road was the one most wisely traveled. So she remained with her guards, albeit at a quickened pace, and soon they reached the castle prison.

The dungeon was a place rarely traveled by any other than guards or inmates, and it had seen its fair share of both. Although it was never an official prison, it did prove useful from time to time. Celestia entered the building and was surprised by the number of guards Luna managed to marshal on such short notice. At least six soldiers guarded every door, and a constant rotation of patrols roamed the hallways. They rushed out of Celestia’s path as she approached, lowering their heads in reverence until she passed.

Celestia approached the spot her sister had vanished from fifteen minutes ago: the maximum security wing. Unsurprisingly, there was a distinct lack of Luna. There was, however, the commander of the royal guard, whom Celestia approached with relief. He stood outside a thick steel door with nearly a platoon of guards.

“Commander.” She greeted the armored stallion.

“Princess.” He replied, with a small bow. He never directly faced the Princess but instead kept his gaze fixed on the large door.

“What exactly is the situation, and where has my sister gone?” She knew the answer to the latter question, but she hoped he could shed some light on Luna's movements.

“I just got here a few minutes ago myself. Princess Luna sent a priority message ordering myself and as many troops as I could get over here as soon as possible. I showed up with the entire fifth and here she had our little visitor out of bed, lookin’ like he’d been dragged through hell, lying unconscious on the floor. She said she needed it secured and left the thing in my care. Then she said she had to go “get some things,” and disappeared!” The commander barely concealed his aggravation, and Celestia couldn't blame him.

“You have it locked up?” She asked, her heart filling with even more dread. All hopes of a civilized first contact between two species fluttering out the window. He nodded.

“Not that we had much choice. Come see for yourself.” He walked the Princess over to the metal door and slid back a tiny rectangular section, revealing a small window. The room was large and its walls were padded, clearly designed to contain the nastiest of inmates. The alien leaned against the far wall. Its two forelegs were secured with thick steel braces that were bolted to the wall with heavy chains. It was a sorry sight. His head fell against his raised left foreleg, and Celestia noticed a large U shaped mark on his face near its forehead. The mark was swollen and the skin was split open in some places. The occasional drop of blood streaked down his cheek, accentuating his depressed countenance.

“What happened there?” Celestia asked, indicating the corresponding spot on her own head. The commander sighed.

“Right after Princess Luna left our friend here decided to try and wake up. Apparently he wasn’t in the best of moods because it took six of us just to hold him down. Without Luna here to put him back under…” He held up an armored hoof and inspected a small smear of blood. “…we had to improvise.”

“Was that really necessary commander?” The princess asked, hopeful for the possibility of salvaging one scrap of a diplomatic interchange with the alien. The stallion finally turned to face the princess. He sported a large, obviously painful black eye.

“…yes.” He said, with a twinge of sass that she wouldn’t have tolerated from any other pony. He took one last look through the tiny window before pushing the iron slide back into place. “He’s got some fight in him, I’ll give him that. But the poor bastard doesn’t seem to know when he’s been beat. I don’t know whether to respect or pity him.”

Celestia’s eyes wandered over to some of the guards filling the hallway. She noticed one nursing a bloody nose and another examining an awkwardly-hung wing. Celestia offered to heal the commander’s eye, but he refused and insisted that his own healers were more than capable of dealing with minor injuries. With that Celestia began issuing orders, trying to rein the situation back under control. She ordered constant patrols of the perimeter and corridors. She divided the guards into three groups, staggering their watch duties so at all times at least two groups were on patrol. As soon as she was satisfied the level was secure she left the rest under the supervision of the commander and withdrew to hunt down her sister.

Celestia exited the dungeon and stepped out into her summer sun. She stood in the courtyard a moment, took in a deep breath, and savored the radiant heat from the sky. Celestia breathed in again and felt herself begin to unwind. She didn’t allow herself too much relaxation; there was still much work to be done. She disappeared with a loud pop and reappeared in her sister's bedchamber.

Luna's large and lavish chamber occupied the tower adjacent to Celestia’s. Luna had unusual style when it came to decoration. Several of Luna’s personal items stood out of place. Trinkets and baubles dating back well over one thousand years ago, still garnished the room. They mixed themselves in with some of the more modern possessions Luna had accrued since her return. It gave the room a dual personality, that Celestia knew, many ponies actually found “creepy”. Celestia herself rather liked it. It seemed to have a wonderful balance. She admired the skill with which Luna embellished her quarters. She had paintings and artifacts, each of which held special meaning to the young princess. Some could now be considered ancient, but having lived just as long as her baby sister, Celestia recognized several of the pieces, and even allowed herself a moment of nostalgia. Luna did not, however, allow her room to be dominated by her past. Many modern pieces of art and furniture decorated the room. Celestia even recognized some albums from the bands that the kids were calling trendy these days.

Luna was darting back and forth gathering an assortment of papers, quills, and books.

“Luna?”

“Hellooo, dearest sister.” She said, in a sing song voice. She smirked widely.

“Luna, are you alight?”

“Of course! Isn’t this exciting?! Oh, think of all the things we’re going to learn!” Celestia recognized this part of her sister. Luna, ever the scholar. But Celestia had rarely seen her this enthusiastic. Granted, a situation of this magnitude had never presented itself before.

“Calm down, Luna.” Celestia insisted, amused by her little sister's eagerness. “…this situation needs to be handled very delicately.”

“Oh please don’t get all stoic and imperious on me now, Tia. I know you’re just as curious as I am!” she said, with a sly grin.

“Yes, Luna, I am curious. But we can’t let that interfere with our judgment on this issue.” Luna stopped skipping about the room and shot Celestia a quizzical look.

“What do you mean?”

“Think, Luna. How exactly do you see this playing out? How long can we keep this creature imprisoned against its will? How can we justify keeping it caged up solely so we can study it?” Celestia let the question hang in the air for a moment. Luna frowned.

“Are you seriously suggesting we let it go?” She said, her tone shimmering with skepticism.

“No.” Celestia quickly dismissed that idea, “…No, or …at least not yet. Not until I can guarantee he isn’t a danger to himself or others. And so far he’s done a splendid job of proving otherwise.” Luna appeared put off by Celestia’s words, clearly unhappy at the prospect of being denied her prize. Celestia noticed this, and continued. “This isn’t the same as discovering a new breed of plant or examining a strange bug. This is an intelligent life form. It’s an entirely new species, one we know next to nothing about. It’s clearly a combative specimen. For all we know this is how they all act all the time. Perhaps that is how their culture functions. Or maybe this one is merely frightened and trying to find its way home.” Celestia paused for a moment to collect her thoughts; she feared she was beginning to ramble. “My point being, this thing is not from our world. And whether he likes it or not, he has just become the representative of his entire race. We can’t treat him like some science experiment.”

“We also can’t treat him like some foreign diplomat.” Luna retorted. “He’s not. But I can agree with you to an extent. Inter-planetary war is not something I wish to incite.” Happy they had reached a common understanding, Celestia nuzzled the side of her young sister’s head. After a moment of reluctance, Luna returned the affection. Celestia moved away and took in a deep breath.

“This turning out to be quite a week.” Celesta said, with a sigh.

“Indeed.” Luna responded, matching her sister’s weary tone. Celestia smiled down at Luna.

“I’m glad to have you back at my side, dear sister.” Celestia said with a slight hint of sadness coloring her voice. Luna smiled back up at Celestia returning the bittersweet smile.

As if to ruin the golden family moment, a wisp of smoke wafted in through an open window, and with a dull pop materialized into a tightly wrapped scroll. It fell to the floor and both princesses stared at it for a moment. Luna pranced forward and telekinetically lifted the roll of parchment. The scroll unraveled itself in front of Luna’s careful gaze. She only looked at it for a brief second before holding it up for Celestia’s inspection. It read simply;

He’s awake

Celestia recognized the Commander’s penmanship. Celestia looked back up to see that her sister had continued stuffing papers and notebooks into her favorite midnight blue saddlebags with the crescent moon embossed in silver thread. She filled a side pocket with quills and another with a newly sealed inkwell. Luna squirmed into the straps that held the saddlebags in place. Once they were all fitted and tight, she experimentally flapped her blue wings a few times to make certain the bags would not interfere mid-flight. She shot Celestia an eager grin.

“We need to stop and talk to the girls first.” Celestia said, instantly subduing Luna’s excitement. She rolled her eyes and lowered her shoulders but her annoyance quickly vanished. She perked up and said,

“Fine, but let’s hurry!” She bolted ahead and took the tip of Celestia’s wing in her teeth. Her horn began to glow. Celestia realized what was about to happen, but she was too late to stop it. A blinding white light engulfed her, followed by a violent jerk on her wing and a flare of heat. The sensation faded just as quickly as it came, and Celestia immediately yanked her wing back from Luna.

“Luna, I HATE it when you do that!” She flexed her wing. It was sore, but seemed to be fully functional. She also noticed her stunning white coat was sullied with black scorch marks. “Oh, now look what you’ve done.” A quick spell returned her beautiful white fur to pristine order.

Celestia scanned the dim lounge and knew immediately where Luna had dragged her: there were the faces of six clearly shocked and confused mares. Twilight held a hoof to her chest and was breathing heavily. Fluttershy appeared to have sought shelter under Applejack. Rarity had a hoof clasped over her mouth where she had restrained from spitting out her tea. Pinkie Pie seemed to be the only one who remained unfazed by the sudden intrusion. She sat staring off into space, chewing on something, sitting next to a tiny pile of wrappers.

“Oh, I’m terribly sorry girls.” Celestia started. “Things are bit…hectic right now.” The girls recovered from the intrusion instantly. Rainbow dash shot down and landed in front of the pair of princesses.

“Is it awake now?! Can we see it?!” she began firing off questions. One by one the girls joined in a cacophonous inquisition.

“Are you going to keep it?”

“Did it say anything else?”

“Girls…” Celestia said, raising a hoof to try and quiet the curious fillies.

“Will you send it to the moon??”

“How many ponies did it eat?”

“Aint’cha afraid it’ll git out again?”

“DID IT SAY ANYTHING ABOUT CUPCAKES?!?!”

“GIRLS!” Celestia hated raising her voice, but it had the desired effect. The mares sat down quietly and waited for Celestia to speak. “Thank you.” She continued. “Now… Yes, It is awake, Luna and I were just about to go see it…”

“Great! Let’s go!” Dash began flying toward the door.

“No.” Celestia said as she used her magic to pull the colorful pegasus back down to a cushion. “You girls are not to go near that thing, not until Luna and I make sure it’s safe. Do you understand?” Celestia’s tone was still soft but she spoke with a voice that demanded nothing less than absolute compliance. The girls, of course, voiced their protests all at once. “This is not up for discussion, girls. Promise me you’ll stay away. At least until we can be certain it isn’t actively hostile.” Celestia almost feared they would refuse, but the girls eventually mumbled their begrudging agreement.

Luna tapped her hoof impatiently. Celestia gave her an annoyed glance.

“I’m sorry girls, I know this isn’t what you wanted, but this is how it has to be. I know you all want to help, but I can not risk your safety any further.”

“We understan’ Princess.” Applejack spoke up. “We jus’ wanna help any way we can.” AJ smiled apologetically. Celestia smiled sweetly back at the orange farm pony.

“I know you do. And I’m certain your services will be invaluable. But for now, the castle is yours to enjoy…with the exception of the dungeons, of course.”

“Wonderful! It’s all settled. Now, if you’ll excuse us…” Luna interrupted and pushed her sister toward the door. The girls made small bows as the two monarchs exited.

Once outside the hallway Celestia considered chastising her younger sister for being so rude, but Luna had already begun trotting down the hallway. Celestia followed and quickly caught up. She noticed that Luna had neglected to simply teleport herself to the dungeons. Celestia realized why when her sister began to speak.

“Why not just let them come? We could use them.” Celestia agreed to an extent. They each had gifts that would be very useful in the coming ordeal.

“I can not risk it, Luna. The only reason Twilight Sparkle is even alive right now is because that thing chose not to harm her. I allowed the life of my most faithful student to be placed in the hooves of a creature I knew nothing about. If any of them had been hurt…” Celestia shook her head. The idea sending shivers up her spine. “…I don’t think I could live with myself.”

Luna immediately sensed the shift in her sister’s mood. The subtle signs would have gone unnoticed by any other pony, but over the years Luna had learned to read her sister. She had tells, even if they were understated. Celestia liked to believe her stoic facade had the world deceived, and for the most part it did. Except to those with the advantage of several millenniums of sisterly familiarity.

“Tia?” She asked delicately.

“…and it would have been all my fault. I should have never asked them to come here.” Celestia continued as she walked. “If that thing had a mind to, it…”

“Celestia!” Luna interjected. Celestia stopped. Her sister held her gaze with steeled determination. “Listen to me. That was not your fault. None of this,” She waved a hoof in an all-encompassing motion. “…is your fault. You did not ask him to show up. You did not bring him here.” Luna’s eyes bored into her sister’s as she drilled the point home. “You have never led Equestria astray, dear sister. And the events of late would have been enough to break the will of even the most stalwart dignitary. Nopony can control fate, Celestia, not even you. What happened, happened, and there is nothing you or I or anypony can do about that. It is not your fault. You are doing what needs to be done.” Celestia stared at the midnight blue princess. She had forgotten how poetic her sister could get. “We need those girls’ help. You don’t have to shoulder the weight of the world alone, Tia…Not anymore.” Celestia blinked back the mist that began accumulating in her eyes. She moved forward and kissed Luna’s forehead, before wrapping her in a tight hug. Luna draped her forelegs around her sister’s neck and hugged back.

“Thank you.” Celestia finally said, releasing Luna. “You always were good at cheering me up.”

“It’s my special talent.” Luna said, with a wink as she continued to make her way toward the dungeon. “...that and the whole…you know… moon thing I do.” She added with a dismissive wave of the hoof. They both chuckled at Luna’s lighthearted vivacity. In unspoken consent, they elected to walk rather than teleport.

As their destination grew closer, Luna’s excitement began to visibly return. She quickened her pace once the dungeon was in sight. They made their way past guards patrolling in rank and file. Celestia craned her neck skyward and saw several squads of pegasus guards surveying the area in impressive aerial formations. She returned her attention to the ground to see Luna just pass through the entrance of the building. Celestia followed her inside as guards bowed.

Celestia felt her heart race; equal parts excitement and curiosity spurred her ahead. She and Luna approached the silvery steel door that they knew housed the alien. A muffled voice emanated from the other side, although it was difficult to determine its message.

The Commander of the Royal Guard maintained his post. The princesses approached.

“Hello, Aegis.” Luna chirped, as she dug inside her saddlebags.

“Your highness.” He replied with a small bow. Luna was one of the few he allowed to use his personal name. Celestia nodded to him.

“Commander” Celestia greeted, and he gave Celestia the same bow. Celestia took a deep breath. “So, How’s he doing?” Aegis gathered his thoughts before responding. Celestia noticed his eye had been healed, although he still squinted.

“Well,” He started. “…remember when it was unconscious?” Celestia gave him a confused look, wondering where he was taking this.

“…yes?” She cautiously answered.

“I kinda miss that.” He replied with a hint of sarcastic reminiscence. “It hasn’t shut up since it woke” the Commander added, as he moved to the door once again.

“What has it been saying? ” Luna asked impatiently. A tower of paper lay on the floor, and a quill already scribbled away on the pad under Luna’s magical influence. The Commander reached up and massaged his head with a hoof.

“It’s been mostly just nonsense, the occasional ultimatum, and talking to himself. All sprinkled with ever increasingly creative swearing. I’m not entirely sure he’s…well…sane.” He moved a hoof up to the rectangular metal slide that covered the small window to the cell. The loud voice instantly poured out.

“…the Voyager Project’, they said! ‘It’ll be great for you career’, they said!” Its voice was unmistakably male, and from the sound of it, still very cranky. Celestia lowered her head a bit and peeked one of her shimmering pink irises through the hole. It was indeed awake. It punctuated every painful exclamation with a heavy yank on its chains. It continued ranting to nopony in particular.

“… ‘This is some serious “Star Trek” shit, Shane.’ OH! REALLY?? I DON’T SEE ANY FUCKING GREEN WOMEN, DAVIS! DO YOU?! NO!!! Instead, I’m chained to wall, on some ASS BACKWARDS planet being detained by MUTANT FUCKING HORSES!!!” He slumped against the wall. Celestia wondered if he had finally screamed himself out. But no. “If I get probed, I swear to God, I am going to beat the SHIT out of you!” The alien looked up at the door. He noticed the eerie pink eye gazing back at him. He shot up, his eyes wide and desperate.

“Hey! Lemme out!” He moved forward as far as the chains would allow. “Listen to me, you can’t keep us here! I KNOW you can understand me! Listen, you DON’T KNOW WHAT YO…” The words were reduced back to muffled vibrations as the commander slid the heavy block back over the window. Celestia looked at him as if to demand an explanation.

“Sorry, but statements like those,” He nodded in the direction of the door. “…are usually prequel to some rather…descriptive language.” The princess believed him.

There was something it had said, however, that concerned her much more than explicit language. She looked at Luna. From her sister’s worried countenance, Celestia knew she heard it as well.

“He still doesn’t know...” Luna said softly, a hint of sadness in her voice. Celestia nodded.

“Princess?” the Commander queried, clearly not following the discussion. Celestia inhaled deeply. She exhaled and said in a voice barley above a whisper.

“He said ‘us’.”

~~~~~

Pinkie Pie sat perched on the edge of a tall stone tower. She teetered on the rim of its battlements but seemed to have no fear of falling. Wind whipped at her hair, tossing the tight pink curls about at its fancy. From her vantage point she had a magnificent view of the entire castle grounds. One section held her attention more than any other: the dungeons. She stared, unblinking at the tall black structure. She saw the formations of pegusi sweeping the sky and the royal troops on the ground marching about, ever vigilant. Her steadfast gaze never wavered. Her tail flicked back and forth, like a cat waiting to pounce.