• Published 1st Nov 2012
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Starlight Over Detrot: Nightmare Night - Chessie



At a Nightmare Night party, Hard Boiled gets drunk and tells of how he and Taxi met Princess Luna.

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Part 3: Blue Moon

Starlight Over Detrot: Nightmare Night

Part 3: Blue Moon

“She didn’t...” Swift was wide-eyed as she balanced precariously on her cotton candy pillow.

“Oh yes she did!” Taxi howled, flinging her latest empty bottle towards the bars, where it shattered into a thousand pieces. “I was madder than a whole heap of ferrets on fire, and didn’t care whether or not she turned me into foal soup... and here she is suddenly talking about how impressed she is. I’d never been so confused in my whole life!”

“Her student, though?” My partner dropped her second bottle of alcoholic lemonade and rubbed her stomach. “Princess Celestia only took, like, one student I even know about, and Princess Luna never does!”

“Well, the Night Princess has always enjoyed a certain degree of ‘honesty’ in ponies.” Slip Stitch put in, somehow talking through lips stuffed to capacity with bits of string cheese. “She admires bravery, but moreso, she admires somepony who will tell her the truth, regardless of the consequences.”

“Also, you’ve got to understand what Taxi was like back then.” I said as I smirked at my driver who had a hoof-full of chocolate sprinkles halfway to her mouth. “She made her instructors at the Academy absolutely nuts. If her intuition had translated into being able to fire a gun, remember procedure, and not piss off the teachers she’d have been through there faster than I was. As a filly... she was far worse.”


Luna set Shiny and Junior to one side, then stepped up to the map of the city. “We discovered the dragon’s plans almost too late.” continued Luna, heedless of the continued glare Shiny was giving her. “We had nothing but my own talents, the wits of our artificers, and the spell matrixes around which our new weapons were based. They could not be replicated in time, but they could be used.”

The other children were mostly watching the princess, but were giving Shiny wary sidelong glances, like a baby cockatrice had suddenly appeared in their midst.

Junior crawled closer to the filly and put his hooves around her neck. “Shiny, are you okay?” He lifted her face so he could see her eyes.

“I’m fine.” She said it just loud enough to be heard; it was the least ‘fine’ thing he’d ever heard out of her mouth.

In the year he’d known Shiny, the colt had seen his friend in tears. He’d seen her angry plenty of times. He’d seen her laugh, even when she was hurting. But he’d never seen her like this.

Her eyes were like Luna’s. Dead. Empty.

Part of him desperately wanted her to cry, or scream, or do... something besides just sit there.

When he was unsure what to do with her, he often just gave her a hug; for some reason, that always seemed to work. After a few seconds, she returned the gesture, giving him a light squeeze as her breathing became a little more natural. “It’s okay. Really. I’m alright. At least, I will be.”

As he pulled back, he saw a smile. Her eyes hadn’t changed, but it was something.

Junior rose to his hooves as her realized that Luna was patiently waiting for them. As was everypony else, albeit with less visible patience.

“Sorry, your majesty,” he said, apologizing for both of them.

“Quite alright. Had I a friend like you to confide in a thousand years ago, I might not have made certain... mistakes.” Luna then returned her scrutiny to the crowd. “Understand, this war was one that could have been avoided. Both sides knew this, in their heart of hearts, and yet we persisted. We could have sued for peace. It might have taken a concession or two, but in the end, pride stayed our hooves... and brought us to that.” She waved her leg in the direction of the spire on the tiny Castle’s roof.

“These zebra rune matrixes were like very complicated blueprints.” The princess explained, lifting one of the dragon figures and turning it in a slow circle. “Etch the correct part of it onto an object and that object is endowed with the spell. Cast the entire spell matrix itself with a horn... and it is destroyed. It required more power, more concentration, and more thought than even I was capable of... but as always, the solution was in ponies working together.”

She lowered herself onto her belly, the weight of her guilt becoming like a millstone around her neck. “Our earth pony engineers cobbled together... a lightning rod. It was an ugly thing, built of whatever scrap metal we could scrounge together, but with it, we could call down the power of the storm itself to give life to the spell matrix. Every flight capable pegasus in our volunteer ranks would be called to shape a thunderhead and channel it’s fury into a single strike... and I... would catch the lightning, change it, focus it, and spread it amongst our spellcasters...” Reaching up she rubbed her horn as though trying to massage out an old ache.

“Every unicorn got a piece of the storm and a tiny piece of the spell. Together, we would cast it in it’s entirety. The most powerful spell incanted for... well... for a thousand years... which turned into an atrocity. The like of which this world had never seen and, cast your hopes to the sky, will never see again.”

She let the silence linger, drawing out the tension from her riveted audience. Finally, one tall and slightly chubby unicorn got up the nerve to ask, “But... Yer Majesty...What’d tha spell do?”

Nodding at the boy, she got up and moved around the outside edge of the map-room to a part of the mural, pointing her horn at what appeared at first glance to be just another part of the painting. She tapped her horn against it until she found a particular spot, into which her horn simply slipped. There was a click, followed by several grinding sounds. With a blast of air, the map began to rotate, rising out of the floor on three pylons; Beneath the miniature city, a circular staircase descended deeper into the sub-terra.

“Now, I ask you one more time if any of you wish to leave. You can go back to your parents. You will not hear nor see what I am going to show, though one day you might discover it on your own. If you want to leave, raise your hoof and I will send you back upstairs.”

The foals looked around at their neighbors; not one knee rose. Shiny was back to watching Luna with that same frigid rage.

“I see. Then, we go.”

****

The dim light coming off Luna’s horn was barely enough for everypony to see where they were setting their hooves as their plunge into the underworld continued. The walls were getting rougher, more like natural stone and less like the cut surfaces of the tomb.

Junior had long since lost sight of the ceiling and the princess was no longer putting out stars for them to see by, so when Shiny slowed down without warning, he almost ran right into her rear.

“Uh...Shiny?”

“What?” She asked, curtly.

“Are you... I mean, we can go back up...”

“No. She needs me right now.”

“What... who? The princess? Wait. Weren’t you just... Shiny?”

His friend didn’t reply; she simply sped up again.

The change in her attitude had almost given him whiplash, but Junior knew he wouldn’t get anything else out of her. She could be terribly hard headed like that.

****

The inability to see the sky was messing with Junior’s temporal awareness. The trip down the stairwell seemed to take many minutes and the air was thick and close.

Their descent eventually stopped at a series of long hallways, branching off in every direction. The princess led them unerringly in one direction, seeming to know precisely where she was going. After he’d long ago lost his way, their journey ended abruptly at an archway.

Unlike the rough-hewn, unfinished look of everything around it, this doorway was carved from pure alabaster marble. Across the top, there was a series of symbols in a language he didn’t recognize, wrought in gold.

As if reading his thoughts, Luna’s voice intoned: “It’s old Equestrian. ‘Here lies the great crime of Princess Luna. May time forgive her, though she will never forgive herself.’”

Dipping her head, she tapped the arch on both sides, her horn letting out a metallic ringing that hurt Junior’s ears. There was a noise like a very big bubble popping, followed by a rush of wind and a cacophony of smells which he definitely didn’t like. Burning meat, like from the griffin eatery he had to walk past on the way to school. The reek of snake, dry and foul. Decay. He remembered decay from the time he found his first goldfish floating at the top of it’s bowl.

Princess Luna proceeded through the door into the space beyond without another word.

He tried to get some glimpse of something but it was like walking into his closet late at night and closing the door. He’d found Shiny sometimes doing just that, sitting amongst his toys, cuddling his ragged, button-eyed teddy bear when she wanted a place to sleep without bothering him.

The smell was much stronger now and his nostrils were starting to burn, reducing him to breathing through his mouth. The gasping pants of a few of the others told him he was not alone in finding the stench unbearable.

They all trailed in Luna’s hoofsteps, trying to see out into the stygian nether they’d found themselves in. The walls and ceiling were far away, and the floor seemed to be some sort of dust that clung to Junior’s hooves. He stumbled, kicking something chalky white that rolled end over end, passing out of sight before he could figure out what it was.

Without warning, the princess’s horn went out, leaving them in utter, empty black. There were a few gasps and a squeak of fear. He felt Shiny bump into him and put his leg around her middle to stabilize himself.

“Worry not, children. I am here. I only tell this in darkness because I wish you to comprehend what was done.” The princess’s voice was tender and comforting. They all stilled and listened, ears perked.

“You all must understand this. Understand and take it with you. Whatever you tell your parents is your responsibility. They may not believe you, but you will know the truth, regardless. What you do with this truth will determine the course of Equestria’s future. I leave it now, in your hooves.”

Luna’s words washed over them, bringing unbidden images of their loved ones, friends and family, to their minds. Junior wondered if it was magic, or just her presence working on his imagination

“We knew the dragons were coming.” The princess’s voice no longer came from directly in front of them. Junior might have sworn she was whispering into his ear.

“Their cohort would have blotted out the sun with their wings. It was composed of every dragon they could drag into battle. Fully a fifth of their civilization, supporting the war effort. There had been negotiated rules of engagement, and until that day, both sides had managed to keep to them. They did not attack our hospitals nor our orphanages. On btoh sides, all those that died were warriors, and civilian casualties were only incidental.

“That all changed on that day... and we were the ones to change it.

“Overhead, a magnificent force of pegasi built the storm. We four, the generals, stood beneath the obscenity, the needle rising high into the morning sky; a monstrosity built of our boundless hubris. At the appointed hour, the weather control teams sped their work and I breathed the air of your city for what I thought could be the last time. Hundreds of ponies surrounded us, some holding the tower in place, some ready with their part of the spell, and each having taken a vow of secrecy. Each of them knew only that what we were to do would save their families and the lives of their loved ones. The time came. I gave the signal.”

Luna’s words were growing in volume. Junior hadn’t noticed it until she stopped to draw a breath but the force of her voice was like a physical thing, bearing down on his chest and making his heart beat faster.

“The lightning strike bore from the heavens! It ripped down the spire and our horn... burned. We dragged the maleficence of the storm down and bent it to our will. The spell matrix connecting all those minds waited, like a greedy child.

“We held the spell and cast... and for an instant, we were more than a pony. We were a pulsar! We might have our night eternal once more! Endless, endless power!”

A very faint gleam was emanating from a particular spot in front of them where Junior thought he’d last seen the princess... a gleam like two slitted, yellow eyes. As she continued, she sounded different; scornful, and not at all like the princess they’d come all the way down with.

“You saw the numbers on those tombs upstairs. Each corresponds to a number in a secret registry of names held only by myself, that only I might bear the guilt of what was done and the dead can remain, safely, nameless... because that second... that tick... that I wasted in revelry... caused the spell to break free. I lost my concentration. I failed. Our spell was meant to be a shield, impossible even for the dragons to breach. Instead, it began laying about with the furor of the storm we had the audacity to try to tame.”

The eyes hung there, unblinking, as Junior noticed the outline of the bone crown on Luna’s head, which had begun to shimmer. Her mane reappeared, a deep purple conflagration made out of nothingness. No stars shined within.

“The spire exploded, and half of our volunteers were dead in the second it took the lightning to fry their bodies from the inside out.” The flaming glory drew higher, surrounding them on three sides and Junior’s mouth went dry as the princess spun her tale. “The enchantment still rested in their horns, and even in death they continued to incant. So I... grasped what was left of it and placed that wild magic into the first spell that sprang to my mind.”

Heavy, purring breaths now seemed to roll out of the murk. “A thousand years ago, I was locked away for the good of all ponykind. A thousand years ago I felt crushing cold, unable to move, alone with nothing but my madness for company. That is where my thoughts fled. I did not only take their warriors. I took their young and their old. Their healers, slaves, cooks, and scholars. Their sick and injured. I took their entire force and cast my spell. I hated them...and I unleashed the mighty power of my hatred upon on them. I became... their Nightmare!

Fire spilled out of the point where Luna’s horn should have been, swelling up into a bright pillar and revealing their surroundings.

Junior wasn’t aware he had any screams left in his body after the drop down the shaft; he was wrong. His mind went blank and he, along with every other foal in the room, let loose a noise that they probably heard in Canterlot.

Nightmare Moon, her fanged lips salivating for his flesh, stood barely two body-lengths away with her hooves set wide and her crown of bone seemingly having grown into her forehead. She radiated the sort of unholy energy he’d always imagined in all of his worst dreams. Her inky flanks and spreading, ebon wings made his knees weak with fear.

Had she been the only available focus of his terror, that alone would have been enough to send him caterwauling behind his mother’s skirt. But she wasn’t.

Behind her there lay a dragon. A dead dragon. It’s jaws were half open and most of the scales on it’s face were missing, scorched off like it had been left in a blast furnace. Something in the underground had long since eaten it’s eyes and tongue. The creature’s head by itself was three times his father’s height.

He twirled to run but found himself confronted by another giant lizard’s corpse, this one’s scales bright green. Flames had licked the great beast’s throat, leaving a charred hole. One of it’s rear legs seemed not quite right, but Junior was too scared to stick around for another look.

He bolted back towards the archway. The others quickly ran after him. A distant part of his fear-wracked mind realized he was walking in the ashes of all those dragons trapped underground, trying to free themselves.

He plunged through the door, following a trail of flickering stars which lit the path back the way they’d come. He dashed along it just as one of the smaller pegasi had the thought to take wing and flew past him, followed by several of the faster earth-ponies. He turned to yell for Shiny to run faster... but she wasn’t there.

Immediately, he skidded to a halt. Consequently, a big unicorn almost ran him over, part of the larger pony’s costume coming off and flying off down one of the passages. By the time he caught his balance, the others were around the bend going at breakneck speeds in the direction of the stairs. His instincts were absolutely crying for him to keep going until he was safe. Equally loud, however, was the horrible thought of his best friend being furiously gobbled by Nightmare Moon or an undead lizard.

A rational part of his mind knew neither of those things was terribly likely, but that rational part did not hold enough seats in his mental committee right now. Deep underground in a tomb full of who knew how many deceased dragons, he wasn’t feeling particularly rational. For a moment, he hung there, caught between survival and concern.

‘What would dad do?’ He thought. It was a question he’d only started asking himself the year before, and often, in Junior’s young mind, the answers placed bravery before other, lesser virtues, such as 'wisdom' or 'having a full set of limbs.' He turned back towards the charnel house he came from and set off at a hard gallop, praying the little magical lights didn’t pick that second to go out.

Finding the archway seemed to take a lot longer than it had the first time, but finally he found the gleaming white door with it’s message of endless guilt. There was just enough light from the trail for him to see Shiny’s yellow flanks standing a short distance inside on top of a protuberance of stone, staring out into the shadows.

“Hey! What are you doing? Let’s get out of here!” he shouted. His voice bounced off the far walls before coming back to him in a reverberating bellow.

She didn’t move. Taking a few cautious steps in, he almost tripped over a smaller dragon’s foreleg which lay half across the path. He wondered how he’d missed it the first time.

“Shiny, are you okay?” He asked, doing his best not to think about the fact that he was skipping over what could only have been part of a lower jaw.

“I’m... no. Hardy, there’s something here that’s not... okay.” Shiny sounded a little frightened, but not of the stinking bodies. “Can’t you feel...all of... all of... this?”

“I... don’t-” He hesitated, his throat closing around the words. There was a sensation here. Something about this place felt like watching Princess Celestia raise the sun at the Summer Sun Celebration his parents had taken him to when he was just a baby. It felt... holy, like he was dirtying the place just by being there.

“I feel it.” He murmured, raising his forehoof a bit higher to avoid stepping on a boney wing. Something else occurred to him. “W-where is Nightmare Moon?”

The filly shook her head. “Oh please. It was Princess Luna. She was giving the other foals a good scare. She vanished after the others ran. I think she’s probably waiting at the other end of the hall to take them back upstairs.”

He glanced back towards the arch. It seemed to emanate it’s own light, but the trail was still there, heading off through the cave system.

“What do you mean them? Aren’t we going, too?”

“We’ll... Hardy, would you stop being a silly boy and come over here? I want to show you this.”

The way she’d said ‘boy’ pricked Junior’s ego enough to overcome his fear. “Okay, I’ll look for a second, then we’re going, alright?”

“Sure, whatever. Just... here.”

She pulled the clasp on her pink saddle-bag open and retrieved a flashlight. Turning the end, she fitted it into a band with a loop, and wrapped the strap around her foreleg. The circle of light wasn’t big, nor did it reach very far, but it was enough for them to see by.

Shining the small torch towards a spot on the ground, she stepped to the side so Junior could see. The rush was dying and his taut nerves began to calm down so he gulped a breath then moved closer to where she was pointing.

At first, he was uncertain what he was looking at; it seemed to be a boulder just like a dozen others nearby, but as he approached it, he felt his hackles rise. The rock seemed to be shaped like a dragon’s muzzle, teeth and lips jutting above the ground, with the rest of the head buried in the earth. It seemed as though the surface had melted into the body such that the flesh had the same consistency as the granite around it.

“What...what is that?” Junior asked, unable to take his eyes off the terrible sight.

“She...the princess... she moved all of those dragons underground with that spell. That’s why they never got to dig themselves out. She wasn’t aiming for any particular spot. Just... underground. They were alive...alive with their bodies half inside the ground...”

Twisting the torch into a tighter beam she held it on the legs of a smaller specimen. Up to the creature’s thighs it appeared to be solid stone, like a statuary half brought to life.

“Why didn’t they rot? Isn’t that what dead things do? Dad showed me pictures from work!” He wanted to know as he nosed in the direction of another which looked almost perfectly intact but for the loss both of it’s wings which were burnt stumps.

Shiny rubbed her jawline. “Do you remember that big ‘whoosh’ when she touched the arch? I bet that was some sort of unicorn shield. Dragons can live a long time between meals; Years even, but they can’t live without air. All those dragons trapped together, in pain and shooting fire, probably burned off most of the oxygen and torched most of the germs.”

Junior twisted his head upside down he could look into the face of a gracefully hanging body whose shape was somehow more feminine than the others, probably a girl dragon. She clutched something in her foreclaws, which looked like part of a really big, broken eggshell. “So... so why didn’t the princess try to save them or something? She seemed like she felt really bad...”

How?” Shiny indicated the form of a great reptile whose talons had broken off, obviously trying to claw his lower half out of the encasing rock. “The spell that put them here killed all those ponies upstairs. Is she going to cast that thing twice to save a bunch of half-dead dragons who were trying to destroy the city?”

“Fine, so... if it’s true and they were still alive, how did that get here?”

Lowering her nose, the filly shut her eyes and thought hard, scrunching up her face as she tried to put all the things she’d seen together into a story that made sense. “Um...the stairs we came down looked like they were cut with magic. They were really smooth. No chisel marks. Maybe the Princess did the work herself, then teleported the arch there and sealed it all shut. She probably did it before all that stuff upstairs was built. Some of the dragons must have...still been alive that whole time.” Her lips began to quiver as she held back tears, too overwhelmed by the enormity of this terrible act.

Junior’s nose wrinkled as he tried to comprehend. “So why are you so interested?”

“Oh, stop being stupid! Think! Why did the princess show us this?” His friend waved at the ceiling where he could see the dangling body of yet another of the creatures, it’s tail encased forever in the firmament. “I mean, I get scaring everypony, but she could have done that just by making them think she’d turned into Nightmare Moon. This isn’t a scare... this is a lesson. And something else...”

“A lesson?!” Junior all but shouted, quickly lowering his voice when his words bounced back off the far walls. “I almost peed my costume! If she wanted to teach a lesson she could have done it without a bunch of dead dragons! What lesson could she possibly be trying to teach?”

“I... don’t know why she did it, yet, but I’m going to ask her!”

“Are you crazy? You don’t ask the princess questions like that! You’re lucky you’re not napping in dirt yourself! I had my look and now I want to go!””

Her lips thinned to an irritated line. “You didn’t—” She stopped mid-sentence and leapt upright, ears swinging backwards then forwards.

“What?” Junior asked, alarmed. “What is it?”

“Shut up!” Shiny snapped back, slapping off the flashlight’s switch and leaving them again in the pervasive blackness.

The colt didn’t dare move, lest he back into one of the corpses, or worse, stumble into an open mouth. The arch still glowed just enough for him to see the outline of Shiny, twisting her head in all directions.

“S-shiny—” He started to whisper.

A low hissing rolled out of the dark. It didn’t seem to come from any particular place but rather grew in volume to a crescendo before abruptly ceasing.

“T-t-tell me that was you...” Junior murmured.

“...no...” Shiny answered softly.

“Didn’t... dad say... something about the... the ophio-whatsit... didn’t he say that it’s mostly eats dead things?”

“...yes...”

Mostly?”

Shiny bobbed her chin affirmatively.

They both turned in a circle, realizing their unfortunate position.

“Running now?” Junior asked, trying to keep his voice calm. His friend, finally, needed no further encouragement. They scrabbled for purchase on the ashy floor, then were off at a gallop towards the white arch. Junior couldn’t be sure, but the echoes through the caverns made it sound as though there was a third set of hooves somewhere behind them, keeping pace.

Once through the archway and back into the tunnel, the colt’s eyes shot towards the ceiling. The trail of stars was gone. The only illumination they had was Shiny’s lamp and the arch itself.

“W-where’s the path?” Shiny squeaked. .

“You’re the one with the sense of direction!” Junior shot back then grabbed one of her scarved and yanked it until she started moving towards the tunnels.


“Why would the princess... Hardy, why would Princess Luna show you all something so awful? I mean, I know ponies did some pretty terrible things during the war but...” Swift held her fluffy, fake dragon tail to her stomach. “You were just children.”

Slip Stitch who was still showing no symptoms of his absolutely maniacal boozing, was in the middle of concocting something involving a donut and half a box of condiments. It was absolutely dripping with chocolate syrup, hot sauce, and nacho cheese dip. He dropped his creation on a place and began licking his hooves. “Mmm... You know, I believe I can answer that. If I may?”

I was feeling the need to wet my whistle again, but the only booze tasted like taffy, so I went instead for a carton of milk. “Sure, if you like.”

“It must be kept in mind that our kind Princess Luna did spend a millenia sitting someplace she wasn’t able to watch the development of pony civilization. There was a more brutal time, long ago, when terror was considered a perfectly viable method of teaching.”

Swift let out a choked gasp, spraying crumbs of crumpet all over my legs. “What?!”

“I’m afraid it’s true, my dear.” The coroner asserted, firmly. “Be glad, however, that you were not born a griffin. Until just the last hundred years or so, their methods of child rearing were nothing short of barbaric.”

“Barbaric?” My partner asked, wiping bits of her meal off her lips.

“Yes... corporal, in fact.” Stitch replied, smacking his lips around the insane donut. “Beatings, torn feathers, and if nothing else would help a fledgling fall in line they had a tendency to toss them out of the nest. Being that their nests are generally on top of extremely high cliff-faces, it often gave the recaltricent youth plenty of time to consider their mistakes on the way down.”

The pegasus shuffled her wings uncomfortably. “Suddenly, gran making me dodge blunt knives until I was too tired to fly seems less bad.”

“What little I know about your parents says to me they probably weren’t happy about that,” I commented.

“My dad totally lost it when he found out.” Swift bit her lower lip, stifling a giggle. “Mom... well, she knows gran would never hurt me. I never sassed gran twice, though.”


He’d tried his best to keep to what he remembered of the path back towards the staircase, but quickly found both himself and Shiny thoroughly turned around. He picked a path he thought might lead them back towards where they’d come from, only to find it criss-crossed by three more he didn’t recognize. Nonetheless, Junior kept his pace, trying to put as much distance as possible between themselves and whatever was following them.

Their hooves thumped over the naked stone, loud enough that with the reverberations through the ground shooting both ways up the tunnels it sounded like a whole marathon was running alongside. He kept running until he heard Shiny falter, pitching over against the cave wall.

“Ha-ha-Hardy... st-stop... c-can’t go...further!” She panted, a bit of foamy spittle running down her lip.

He started to tell her to get up and keep going, but all that came out was a tired wheeze. During the run, he hadn’t really felt the burn in his knees and neck, but a ten second break was enough to make him feel like his lungs were about to pop. The panicked adrenaline had faded for the moment, no longer able to keep him upright.

“Ugh... whoo... haa...” He gasped for breath, tottering over beside her and dropping, exhausted, against her side. “Do you... think we... ha... lost it?”

“I... oof... I don’t know,” Shiny replied, breathily. “I heard something a few... a few turns ago but now...” She trailed off, wiping her mouth with the back of her leg.

“Was that... whatever it was... was that what you felt when you were upstairs?” Junior asked, mopping his forehead with the edge of his collar.

“I think so. It felt so—” She was interrupted by a sound that sent icy tingles racing down their backs. It was a clatter that reminded Junior of the maracas he’d been stuck with when the school band ran out of instruments. The noise seemed far off, but with the confusing way the tangle of passageways seemed to twist back upon itself, there was no good way of gauging distance.

“L-let’s keep moving. This place can’t go on forever.”

****

“Ugh, this is taking forever...” Shiny complained, picking a pebble out of her hoof and tossing it away.

Junior couldn’t help but agree. He had to finally admit to himself that they were only getting further and further from the main path. It couldn’t have been more than fifteen or twenty minutes, but the underground roads seemed to have no end. .

Whatever magic or creature dug the seemingly random assortment of tunnels was following a logic neither of them understood. It didn’t seem to care where it went nor what it cut through. More than once, they passed diamonds which had been sheared in half.

Faint luminescence from a few gems, which seemed to be growing from the walls, allowed them to see their own hooves and perhaps a body-length in front of their noses. It would have been easier with the torch, but Shiny wanted to preserve the battery, so they persevered until Junior ran nose first into a dead-end.

“Ow!” He cried out, falling on his tail and covering his muzzle with both knees. “Ugh, there’s a wall there.”

Shiny flicked her torch on and played it across the surface. It seemed almost perfectly smooth, mirrored like glass. “It’s... um... yeah. It’s a wall. Good detective’s instincts you’re developing.”

“Ha ha. Very funny,” groused Hardy.

“You know, I just had a thought. Do you remember that experiment we did in class last year with the ants?”

“You mean where we buried some food on one end of the ant-farm and then watched them dig to it?”

“That’s the one. They dug all those funny tunnels in different directions looking for it, then when they found it they stopped digging. What if this is like that?” Shiny asked, turning the lamp back off.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, unless Princess Luna knew exactly where she put all those dragons she must have had to look around a little bit under the city. What if it’s like a spell that eats stone until it finds something else?” Brushing her mane back from her eyes she tried to fit it all back under her cap. Tufts of black and white fur still spilled into her face.

“I really hope you’re wrong. These tunnels could go for miles!” Junior whined, realizing he’d lost the badge from his uniform somewhere as they made their escape.

“Yeah... but if we’re missed too long, they’ll all come looking, right?”

“Let’s hope. My dad is going to be so mad!” The colt replied,

“Oh, shut up! It could be much worse.” His friend snorted, derisively.

How could it be worse? We’re stuck underground being followed by something in a maze full of dead dragons!”

“Trust me.” Shiny pulled him up by his mane until he stood. “My dad finds out that I snuck out again, I’ll be lucky if I don’t spend the rest of the year someplace really similar.”

They started off in yet another random direction, hoping they’d come across the stairs or, at worst, the dragons’ grave. The gemstones seemd to light the way only to unnervingly flat dead-ends, time and again.

Junior was just turning away from another blocked shaft when he heard rocks tumbling against each other. It sounded nearby, but the strange acoustic effects continued to counfound his hearing.

Shiny froze mid-step, then swung around and butted her head into her friend’s flank, shoving him out of the way as a barreling form flew down the hall at pony-crushing speeds and passed through the space he’d just been.

He went for a tumble as the filly let out an agonized shriek and slid the other direction, clutching at her right foreleg. The strap holding the flashlight to her thigh broke, sending the device spinning in the direction the creature had gone. Junior had an impression of claws, scales, and black fur standing at the far end of the tunnel.

It had the aspect of a snake given four cloven hooves, but was far more bulky. A wide cobra’s hood adorned with two bright splotches of green sprung from it’s supple, frighteningly flexible neck. Two goring horns, capable of skewering an adult pony, end to end, completed the ensemble. It stumbled back and forth at the end of the hall, shaking it’s head wildly like it was trying to dislodge a bee from it’s ear. He didn’t even know if snakes had ears, but something in the way it staggered from side to side indicated something was definitely wrong. Patches of scales along it’s face and neck seemed to be missing, leaving ugly, weeping sores dripping some foul liquid.

Junior found himself paralyzed as the monster lowed; It reminded him momentarily of the cow-lady up the street who sang while cleaning her laundry, but its reptilian eyes, glittering in the light of the tiny lamp, held none of her gentleness. It lowered its horns at him, pawed the ground, and charged. Behind it, a long tail capped by a dry rattle slapped the floor with each step, and viscous fluid dribbled from it’s lips, steaming in the cool underground air.

The colt took all of this in and threw his chest out, preparing himself internally for the end.’

Life hadn’t really been so bad he decided. He’d learned a secret that night and been scared worse than he’d ever been before. If he was going to die deep beneath the earth on the horns of a monster, there probably wasn’t a whole lot he could do about it and he might as well get it over with.

At least his dad wouldn’t be able to ground him and Princess Luna wouldn’t be able to banish him to the moon.

Thundering towards him, the bullsnake careened off the wall, still unerringly on course to turn him into a pancake even though it’s balance seemed rather poor until a lightning yellow burst of motion in his peripheral vision drew his attention off the beast. A pair of pink saddlebags flew towards the ophiotaurus. His mind seemed to be moving faster than his body could react.

Shiny, that won’t stop it. Run!’ he thought.

Then the bag met the oncoming creature with all the power of a freight train. The heavy crystal ball inside connected with it’s forehead and it pitched onto it’s nose, skidding almost to Junior’s hooves. Immediately, it began flailing at the ground, trying to get up to rip apart the foals who had dared defend themselves.

He didn’t give it time to gather itself for a third leap. Righting himself, he snatched Shiny and pulled her down one of the side passages. She was limping, her eyes glazed with pain as he took one turn, then another, doing his best to get them as lost as he could. Part of him desperately wanted to stop to check on her, but he knew if he did, they’d both be dead.

They hobbled along through the near total dark, almost blind but not daring to slow down until Junior spotted a crack in the sub-strata which bisected their tunnel from top to bottom. It looked just big enough for him to fit if he ducked low.

“Quick! In here!” He exclaimed, wedging himself into the crevasse. Junior pushed forward until his shoulders hit a tighter spot.

“Can you see anything?” Shiny asked, crawling in behind him.

Squinting in the dark he tried to see how deep their particular nook went. It took his eyes a second to adjust but it seemed a bit further in things widened out and there was more light. Letting out all the breath he could, he shimmied forward a few more inches, dislodging some gravel which slid down the front of his shirt. “Yeep... oh mom is going to go nuts when she sees what I did to this costume...”

“I really think your mom having to clean your little uniform is probably going to be a lower priority than you coming back with all your legs.” Shiny chastised,

Edging along, his forehooves broke free and slipped over a precarious edge. He was about to stop when the sound of scuffling hooves and that evil rattling tail began thumping down the passage they’d just come up.

“Hardy... it’s coming! Move!” Shiny gave him a hard shove from behind and he began to slide.

Thankfully, there was an incline rather than a drop, but for the third time in a night he was internally exploring the idea of being dead. The small pit evened out and he rolled to a stop against the far wall just in time for the filly to land solidly against his chest, knocking the air out of him.

“Oof!” Junior choked on a face-full of dust and leaves.

Leaves?’ He thought, pushing a pile away from his face. They were, in fact, leaves. He could even see them. Tilting his head back he caught a white sliver peering down from far above. The crack in the earth they’d found themselves in went right up to the surface.

Junior tasted the fresh, crisp air of the early evening. It was too far to even consider climbing. Despite what his class-mate Rock Roller said, he was pretty sure you could only do that with a bunch of equipment.

“Look... Can you see that?” Shiny pronounced, turning around to try to get a better angle. Her yellow pelt was turned a strange sepia by the unearthly light of...

“The moon. I see it,” he murmured. “We should see if there’s another way out of here.”

An irritated snort sounded down the crack they’d just emerged from and Junior felt an irrational anger light in his chest. He leapt forward, braced his hooves on the walls, and spat back at the menacing monster the worst curse he knew. “Darn you straight to Tartarus!”

Shiny covered her mouth with one hoof and sniggered to herself. “Oh Hardy, I never heard you cuss before. That was sooo adorable!”

“Hush!” He growled. “Look, I think I’ve had enough of wondering if I’m going to die. I want out of here, now!

Taking a step forward, Shiny winced as her knee gave out and she almost fell on her face. “Ouch! Oooh... yikes.”

“Lemme see that.” Junior ordered.

“I’m fine.” The filly rebuffed, holding her leg away. “I’ve had way worse.”

“Let me see!” He insisted, moving closer. She tried to back up but hit the wall and slid to the floor. Standing over her, he took her knee and lifted it with his. A nasty slash ran from her thigh all the way up to her shoulder. It was shallow, but would probably need stitches. Blood dribbled down her knee, staining his shirt. He ignored it, pulling one of the mutitude of scarves from around her throat and tying it tightly around the wound just like his dad had taught him when he’d cut his shin on a piece of glass.

Shiny sucked in a breath as he bound the cut, then relaxed and put her hoof down. “Y-you didn’t have to do that.”

Yeeeah, sure. Next problem.” Junior began feeling his way around the edge of their little prison, trying to find another way out besides the one they’d come in. He realized after a second that Shiny was still sitting there. “Are you going to help me?”

“I... sorry. C-can I ask you something?” Shiny stammered. Something in her voice made him stop and turn to face her.

“Uh, what do you want to ask me?”

“You never said... I mean back when I first said we were friends you never said ‘yes.’” The filly’s face fell and she shut her eyes. “I got us stuck down here and you’re not even mad at me. You came back, but you never said ‘yes, I’ll be your friend.’”

“Sweets,” he said softly. “I’m your friend. I get the feeling we’ll probably be friends for the rest of our lives.”

“Do you really mean that?” She asked, hopefully.

Reaching out he put his forelegs around her neck and pulled her into the dappled glow filtering from far above. Raising his eyes, he nodded at the sky. “Our lives might not be terribly long, but I promise, right here, under the moon, that I won’t leave you. So you can stop worrying, alright? I ain’t going anywhere except maybe into that thing’s stomach.”

Hugging him tightly for a second her eyes widened and she pointed over his shoulder towards the far side of the tiny chamber on the far side. “Hey! What’s that?”


“Awww, that’s so sweet!” Swift gushed, her wagging tail knocking over a stack of cherry cordial wrappers.

“Yeah, ‘sweet’ is the word alright.” Taxi gathered her small collection of single-shot liquor bottles and set them to one side. “Who’d have thought I’d be stuck with his bitchy self for the next three quarters of my life?”

I chucked the nearest snack-cake at her. She ducked, then winged an apple in my general direction. It rolled to the floor at my hooves and I snapped it up, juices running down my chin as I bit it in half.

“You’re the one who asked me for that stupid promise, kiddo.” I rebutted.

“Kiddo!? I’m a year younger than you are!” Taxi drew back her leg, this time holding a spoon full of cheese dip.

“Hey! Don’t waste the nacho sauce, or you can finish this story yourself.”


It was a hole. Not a big hole, but a hole. The opening in the rock-face was just above head-height. Rearing back, Shiny was just able to hook her foreknees over it.

“Give me a boost?” She asked.

Junior positioned himself under her and she planted her rear hooves on his back, shoving herself up and scuffling around until she had a firm grip.

“Oof, you really should lay off my mom’s pie.” The colt moaned.

“You’re one to talk! Just a little higher.”

Pushing himself up onto his rear hooves, he gave her just the lift she needed to scramble up onto the ledge before his legs gave out.

“Whew! What can you see?”

“There’s...There’s a way through!” She shouted back, excitedly. “It looks like it leads to another tunnel! I think I see... yeah! I see a candy bar wrapper! We must be right back near the entrance!”

“So, what are you waiting for?” Junior asked, impatient. “Go!”

Shiny stuck her head over the side. “I’m not just leaving you down there.”

“Oh please. Unless you brought a rope, you’re gonna need to go get somepony to get me out.” Sitting back against the wall, he pulled some leaves off his chest and flicked them away.

“Alone? Yeah, so not happening! Here, give me a minute.” Shiny began dickering with something up above which sounded like rustling cloth then something soft flopped down into his eyes. He batted it aside then caught it. It was the tail end of one of her scarves.

Tugging it a little he decided it might just hold his weight. “Shiny, you’re a genius.”

“Yeah, I know. Don’t thank me until you’re up here.” came the reply.

Wrapping his leg in the fabric he pulled himself up, bit a section, shimmied up a few inches hanging by his teeth, then un-twined his leg and moved it up, repeating the procedure. It was tiring, but he was the best earth pony in gym class at the rope-climb. His friend was there and grabbed him by the back of the collar. Between the two of them, Junior managed to drag himself onto the short ledge. Shiny had tied the scarves around a stalagmite but it made a serviceable anchor.

Inspecting the holes, he noticed the sides were worn smooth, either by years of rainfall flooding the small space or because some animal had decided to make it their home. At the other end, he saw a piece of colorful foil laying on the dirt a short ways through. The dull gleam meant there were probably more glowing gemstones though he was extremely reluctant to leave the safety of their little retreat.

“Alright, so... let’s hope this is the way out. You getting any ‘feelings’?” He asked, working his aching jaw. He was glad he’d lost most of his baby-teeth, or the climb have been very short with a painful bump on the head at the end.

“Not a one. Sorry.” Shiny scratched her side apologetically, trying to come up with some way to explain how she’d lost her school saddlebags. “The crystal ball was the best I think we’re going to get. I’m tapped out.”

Junior wiggled his way into the short burrow, squirming through to the other side. “Either way, I’m glad you brought it or they’d be cleaning me up with a spatula.”

“No kidding.” Shiny said, hiding her amusement poorly. “I wonder if that monster’s poop is really long or if it’s like a pie.”

“What?!”

“You know, because it’s a snake and a bull-”

“Right, right, forget I asked. I’m glad I won’t have the opportunity to find out first-hoof.” Dropping his shoulders, he squeezed his way out of the tight entrance. A quick shake dislodged pebbles from his collar before he reached down to pull the filly free. Her hips stuck until she exhaled then wriggled out.

“Spelunking is definitely not my special talent.” Shiny groused. Her cap had a rip in it and she was down to one remaining scarf.

Junior, meanwhile, was examining the area around the candy wrapper. “Check it out!” He touched a scuff-mark on the rock where a small hoof had marred the stone. “Okay, so we’re somewhere near the entrance. That’s the wrapper from the chocolate bar that colt with the whiny filly-friend used to shut her up.”

He couldn’t see the details of her face in the half-light provided by the magical jewels but he thought Shiny grinned. “Awesome! When we’re out I am totally going to— oh no...” She backed up against the wall.

The heart-stopping hiss filled Junior’s ears. It sounded close. Too close. He inched his head around to stare down the snarling fiend.

It paced restlessly out of the end of the shaft perhaps ten meters away, biting at it’s own forelegs. Blood drooled from the nasty head wound Shiny had given it. The brute’s complexion hadn’t been improved by a weighted glass orb to the cranium; It’s scales were battered and torn, sloughing off in chunks. He could only imagine it had circled around somehow through the labyrinth.

Lifting it’s head, the ophiotaurus spotted it’s rebellious prey.

Junior stepped very deliberately in front of the filly and spread his hooves defensively, trying to make himself as big as possible. He knew it was coming... and he readied himself to leap onto the bullsnake’s head. It would never see that coming.

‘Even if it bites me, I’ll get it’s eyes first!’ he promised himself. It might eat foal after all, but if it did, he wanted the darned hellion to pay a price and no matter what, it wouldn’t get Shiny.

“Get ready. As soon as it charges, get back down the hole.” He murmured.

A vengeful moo rose to end in a frightening screech, and the monster threw itself at them.

Junior dug his rear hooves in and lowered his head then threw himself forward, teeth bared, trying to aim for the spot where the blood seemed to drip from most heavily. Maybe, he reasoned, two hits would put it down.

The passage of moments slowed to a crawl, like a series of slides. Junior studied the creature’s maddened glowing eyes as they set upon one another, his small legs pounding down the corridor while the cloven-hoofed feet of the bullsnake pounded on rock that was breaking and chipping with each step.

Buried under the chemistry induced psychosis, under the agony of it’s poisoned condition, the colt saw something familiar and felt a twinge of pity. The bullsnake was afraid. Young, hungry, trapped underground, and scared for it’s life.

Junior had never killed anything before, and he realized that something within him had changed just a little. It wasn’t a sweeping change, but it was one of willingness. He’d been a coward. The realization was striking but it gave him a sudden, powerful resolve.

Hiding under his blankets and weeping for his mother was what a child did when they were afraid. The foal who let terror steal their will would be just as dead as the one who fought, with far less impact on the world and without even the smallest hope of escape.

While he might not yet have known why he was alive, he was no longer willing to give up his life to fear. If he was going to die, he was determined not to let himself fall just because he was scared. If he was going to die, he would do it on his hooves, and no pony or drooling snake monster would dare change that.

He never got the chance to find out whether or not his desperate gambit might have worked. There was a flash of blue light behind it, then, only seconds before he was ready to launch himself onto it’s face, the bullsnake’s entire body began to shine. It stopped in it’s tracks, it’s eyes still rolling in their sockets as it tried to discover why it wasn’t happily mauling the irritatingly elusive little colt and filly.

It rose a few inches in the air then flew the other direction, slamming into the side of the tunnel.

Junior was too amazed at being alive and unchewed to take his legs off auto-pilot as he watched the creature crash with bone-breaking force into the stone then slump to the ground. Consequently, he ran face-first into a pair of dark blue legs. It felt much like the time he’d tried to skateboard and hit a telephone pole face first. The knee his chin met was just about as unyielding and he spilled over on his back in a dazed heap.

“Ow!” Princess Luna bellowed, putting her hoof on Junior’s chest, pinning him in place. Her horn hovered dangerously a few inches from his neck, until she realized what exactly had crashed into her. She picked him up in her magic by one ankle and gave him a firm shake. “Colt, I swear, you are the maddest little imp I have met for more than twenty years! What did you think you were doing? Attacking that beast?!” She scolded.

“I... I had to... Your Majesty. Where’s... hooo... where’s Shiny?” He managed, wheezing for breath as he dangled in front of her like a rag-doll.

“Your curious friend with the strange mane—” Luna let out a strangled yelp as she was bowled over by a yowling, scaly abomination tackling her at high speed. Spots of it’s dark blood spattered Junior’s cheeks as he landed on his head, which decided he’d had quite enough damage to his brain for one day. He teetered on the edge of unconsciousness, watching as the alicorn and the ophiotaurus squared off not far away. The princess seemed unhurt, but deeply annoyed.

The bullsnake snapped at the air in front of it’s face, biting unseen enemies before lowering it’s head to bring those ripping horns to bear. Luna barely had time to leap out of it’s way before it blasted past her, took three steps up the wall and did an uncannily flexible flip which Junior had only seen cats manage. It charged toward her again, steam rising from it’s furry undercarriage.

The alicorn threw up a glimmering shield which threw the monster back. It caught itself before it could fall, insanity and alchemy lending it unnatural endurance. Spitting up something wet and black, it tossed its head and pawed the ground preparing for another strike.

“Stay down! We have no desire to kill you!” Luna growled, baring her teeth.

Either the feral bullsnake didn’t understand her words, or it simply didn’t care. Hunching it’s rear legs it tore across the space, intent on the disemboweling the royal nuisance which had interrupted it’s hunt. Perhaps it thought a princess might make a better meal, or maybe the chemicals had eaten the part of it’s brain which controlled judgement. Whatever the case, it was sorely outclassed.

Standing tall, Princess Luna’s horn let out a sound like roaring waterfall. The monster froze mid-stride. It’s heavy tail no longer lashed. It didn’t even seem to be breathing. Junior heard a popping noise only a little louder than a soap-bubble bursting and the ophiotaurus was gone, leaving a void of silence filled only by a faint sobbing noise next to his head. There hadn’t even been a flash or a pretty explosion. Junior was a bit disappointed, but it was, he decided upon reflection, the perfect time to pass out.

****

Warm and comfortable. Junior wasn’t really sure he wanted to wake up. His last few thoughts contained a terrible throbbing just behind his eyelids and another on his chin. Despite that, he didn’t feel any particular pain anywhere. His legs seemed to mostly be in the right places. A soft blanket shifted on his chest and he rolled over, not wanting to open his eyes.

A number of raised voices hovered near his awareness but after some time they died down to a pleasant conversational tone. The bed smelled like his own. It was a dream, then. Nightmare Night nightmares. He couldn’t tell Shiny about this bunch or she’d think he was losing it. Reaching down, he touched his chest and felt sweaty fabric clinging to it. He still had on his dirty police costume.

Shiny! Junior’s eyes flew open and he sat up in a rush expecting to find himself still trapped in the dank dungeon deep below the earth with a raging bullsnake about to take a huge bite out of him.

All the voices stopped immediately.

Everything was a little blurry. His gaze slowly focused on the nearest shape which was fuzzy and yellow. As the image resolved, it was still fuzzy and yellow. Shiny sat on the end of his bed, her eyes big and wet. She seemed to have been crying but quickly wiped her face with the edge of her last scarf and threw herself forward, hugging him tight as she could.

“You stupid boy...why’d you do that?!” she whispered fiercely in his ear.

Junior’s mother was beside him, her hoof on his shoulder while his father sat on a chair that’d been pulled up beside the mattress. He looked haggard and the colt saw a thing he’d never witnessed in the eyes of the strongest stallion he’d ever known; fear. His dad was afraid. Junior gave him a tentative smile and relief washed over his grey features.

Behind them, Princess Luna sat on the floor with her starry mane drawn back in a tight ponytail to keep from knocking anything off the shelves in the small room, a cup of tea with a straw in it clutched in both hooves. She seemed too big for the space, like a doll in a house designed for much smaller figures.

“I... oh... ahhh... I... Princess? Mom? Dad? What happened?” Junior asked, petting Shiny’s head awkwardly.

The Princess winked at him. “I was just explaining to your parents that the staff of my haunted house were using a special cleaning agent on the underground segment of the tour. Apparently the two of you had an adverse reaction. I found you and your friend here off the path and wandering around the caves in quite a daze.”

“Yeah, we must have gone a looong way off the path.” Shiny apologized, sitting back. “It was my fault. I shouldn’t have gotten distracted.”

Junior touched his nose, but couldn’t feel any bruising... or taste or smell any blood. Luna must have cleaned him off. “Oh... y-yeah.” He took his cue from the princess and Shiny and forced a grin. “The... the tour was really amazing. I wish I could remember it.”

His father reached down and tousled his mane. “Are you alright, son?”

The colt nodded and laid his head on Dove Tail’s chest. “Yes, sir. I feel a little woozy though.”

“We’ll get you checked out in the morning,” his mother announced, in a way that implied anypony who objected wasn’t getting dessert for a month or two.

“Okay... Did I miss trick or treating?” Junior asked, putting his hoof on his forehead.

“Oh, there are still a few hours left, I’m sure.” Hard Boiled patted his son’s leg.

Shiny turned to the Princess, then to Junior’s parents. “C-can we have... just a minute alone? I wanna thank Her Majesty and it... w-wouldn’t be proper for everypony to see me give her a hug...”

This was not likely to rate high on Shiny’s list of most convincing lies; Hard Boiled and his wife had to stiffen their lips against a bout of extremely improper laughter in the presence of royalty. Nonetheless, Luna nodded her assent, and that was that.

Leaning down, Dove Tail kissed Junior’s cheek then turned and trotted quickly out, followed by her husband a moment later. The door swung closed, leaving the colt and filly alone once more with the princess of the night.

Uncomfortable silence reigned for several seconds, until Shiny got down off the bed and marched up to the alicorn, plunking herself down between her forelegs.

Why?” Shiny demanded.

“Why what, child?” Luna asked, her tea levitating to her lips.

“No! No, just don’t!” The filly barked, pushing the drink away so she could see the princess’ face. “After all that, you so do not get to play innocent! That stuff with the dragons. You weren’t just giving a bunch of foals a scare!”

Setting her tea to one side, the princess pushed herself up patiently to a standing position and walked around Shiny in a small circle. The child followed her with her eyes, her tail lashing against her blank flanks.

“Just who do you think you are, little girl, to order me to testify to my reasons?” Luna’s voice had become very soft and dangerous. “ I am more than a hundred times your age.”

“I know how old I am!” Shiny nipped at the royal mane, latching onto the etheric strands with her teeth and pulling the alicorn’s head down to where she could grab her cheeks in her tiny hooves, mashing them together slightly so the alicorn made a face like a fish. “I also know you’re lying. So I want to know right now! Why show us?”

The princess was too stunned to pull away for several moments. When she did, she blew a stray strand of hair out of her face and frowned sulkily. “I did want to give everypony a scare... but I wanted to teach a lesson, like my sister somehow always manages to do. I did something horrible during the war. I think ponies should know what happened. We can’t learn from history if I’m burying it.”

“Princess...” Junior began then had to stop and think about his words. He continued, carefully, “How did you do it? How did you make it so nopony remembers what’s down there?”

Her wings drew around in front of her face and she pinched the bridge of her nose with two feathers. “Memory spells. Lots of memory spells. Many of the survivors will never know they were involved and that’s for the best. At the time, I had a private agency devoted to spying and secrecy. They helped with paying off craftsponies, altering histories, and making it look like all those who died were part of attacked convoys or secret missions.”

Shiny leapt up. “It was a trick! You were... tricking the dragons!”

Luna nodded, holding her flowing tail against her side. “Yes. They believe we have a spell fit for destroying entire flights of dragons. Today we are better equipped and have greater numbers, whereas they will be two hundred years recovering their population. We could handily defeat them if they decided to attack.”

“What about the weapons?” Junior asked, rubbing his face fur. It had the funny glossy feeling that he only got when he’d been cleaned with magic. Clever princess. “The ones you mentioned? What happened to them?”

Luna gave an eloquent shrug. “My sister had them destroyed.”

Trotting back around in front of the princess, Shiny gave her a hard stare. “So why are you still lying?”

The princess rose to her hooves, her mane flying free of it’s ponytail and bursting up towards the ceiling on non-existent winds. Junior was scared briefly it might get tangled in the ceiling fan, but it seemed to pass right through it.

“You dare!?” Luna boomed, putting a hoof on Shiny’s forehead and pushing her away. “I have indulged your presumptuousness—”

“Save it!” Shiny cut her off and bounced forward. “This wasn’t about telling everypony or even the dragons so they’d learn a stupid lesson about ‘pride!’ You’re guilty!” Shiny’s hooves found the night princess’ hair and yanked. “You want those foals to rush right home and tell their moms and dads what happened, then you want their moms and dads to spread it to the local dragons, and then they’ll go and demand Princess Celestia drag you in chains right up to the moon again!”

“I... don’t—” Luna sputtered feebly. She could have used magic to toss the foal into the next country if she’d been of a mind and yet she remained there, whimpering at Shiny’s tiny hooves.

“No! You want someone to say you’re terrible, so here it is! You did something awful! Ponies and dragons died because of you and you should feel ashamed!” The filly shouted into her face, then released Luna’s mane, leaving the highest power in the land next to Princess Celestia, her profane lunar majesty, huddled there on the floor of Junior’s room. Royal tears ran down her chin.

Reaching up onto the bed, the filly dragged one of his blankets down in her teeth and walked around the princess in a circle, pulling it over her body. It was barely more than a towel on the alicorn’s frame, but the meaning behind the gesture was sincere. Leaning up, Shiny nuzzled against her cheek.

“I forgive you.”

“W-what?” Luna whispered, not quite believing she’d heard those words.

Shiny repeated herself, stroking the soft vermillion cheek. “I forgive you.”

“Y-you... how can you?” The princess stumbled over the words.

Lifting Luna’s chin on one toe, the girl gave her a sad smile. “You were trying to save pony and dragon lives. You tried and Equestria needs ponies who try. The whole world needs you.”

Sitting up, Luna put her forelegs around Shiny and lifted her off the floor, hugging her to her chest for a long moment. The filly’s rear legs hung under her, but she squirmed into a position she could return the hug.

It seemed as though the horrid weight which had been very nearly crushing the princess since Junior’d first seen her was lifting from around her neck. She’d been anticipating condemnation, judgement, and punishment. Instead, she was given that greatest of all gifts from a pony who should have been, by all rights, too young to understand her crime; she was forgiven.

Junior scratched at his mane. His mind felt like it was clogged with spinach, and what he was witnessing wasn’t helping. The mixture of exhaustion and fear had finally caught up with him and he let out a loud yawn, but this seemed to lubricate his brain sufficiently for a thought to dribble free from the vegetative morass. “Oh, uh... Princess, what are you going to do about the ponies who already know? You can’t just let this all get out right now, can you?”

The princess shook her head, setting Shiny down. “I fear that cat may have already left the proverbial bag, dear children.”

Rubbing her chin, Junior’s friend considered the problem for a bit then raised her hoof. “I... I think I have an idea.”

“We are all ears, my little pony.” Luna scooted sideways until she was sitting beside the colt, her mane coiled around his waist.

Dipping her nose between her front legs, Shiny began undoing the straps of her saddlebags until they slid off her side. She began shuffling through them until she found the crystal ball. It was split into two perfectly equal pieces. Picking one up, she shifted it around until it fit back in place with the other. The crack all by disappeared. Then she gave it a push and it rolled between the princess’s legs and fell in half again.

“You can’t pretend all that stuff isn’t there anymore... but punishing yourself won’t make it better for anypony. It’ll just make it worse for the whole world. Another thousand years on the moon with your poor sister stuck taking care of everypony? No way!” Shiny stomped on the carpet. “There’s better ways though. You made sure everypony will know one day, but it doesn’t have to be today. Close up the map room. Even if the other kids tell their moms and dads what they saw, deny it was anything but a Nightmare Night tour and a big scare.”

“I can’t lie anymore—” Luna started but Shiny waved her hooves and the princess stopped again.

“Most of them will think it was just a really neat tour with a really big scare at the end. Their parents won’t embarrass themselves by accusing you of all ponies of anything or spreading rumors based on something their foals saw. You’re Princess Luna... but even Princess Luna hasta take responsibility for what she did.”

“What... do you suggest?” Luna asked, her voice quivering.

“Close it all up again, for now.” Shiny clapped the two sides of the crystal together and pushed them under Junior’s bed. “Make sure nopony goes there except smart ponies. Ponies like those ones from that Academy place. Everypony today is... so angry at the dragons and the dragons are so angry and it’s so stupid... and you’d end up hurt and we might even end up at war again if Princess Celestia wouldn’t punish you. Do you want to kill even more dragons?”

“No...no I do not.” Luna replied, firmly.

“In a hundred years, you have to open it again.” Shiny instructed. “Open it and show the whole world what happened. If Mister... whatever his name was... if Mister Smoulder or one of his kids is still alive... you’re going to get on your knees and beg them to forgive you.”

“On... my... knees!?” The princess scowled.

“Yes! You’re gonna do it on your knees!” The filly pointed at her and gave the alicorn a hard tap on the chest. “When all the ponies who are alive today who hate dragons are gone, you go and you beg him!”

“That will not stop-”

“Then-” Shiny powered on. “-you knock down that statue of you in Canterlot. I saw it in school. You knock it down and you put up a statue of a dragon!

The quiet that dropped over the room was like a thick treacle. Junior was afraid to move or speak. His heart was thudding against his lungs and his foggy head felt ready to pop. Meanwhile, the princess just sat there, the tears on her cheeks leaving deep tracks in her fur.

He’d seen pictures of her all his life. He’d watched her in cinema newsreels. He knew, in some far off way, that she was more ancient than he could possibly imagine, but there, slumped on his floor, for the first time he got a real sense of precisely how old she was. He wanted desperately to comfort her but didn’t have the words to.

After a full five minutes, the princess shook her mane and began tying it back again. “Child, if I may... how did you come to this conclusion? You have no cutie-mark. You are child of a home whose evil I... will not speak of. If I may posit your own question in return... why?

Shiny slid onto her stomach and rubbed one ear. “I spend a lot of time grounded with nothing to do, so I read. I read a bunch of books about history last year. That statue in the bay here in Detrot was so you and the zebras could be friends. It would mean a bunch more to the dragons if it was a statue of yourself you were pulling down, right?”

Luna repositioned her starry mane. “I am... impressed. That isn’t a thing I am given to say terribly often. I believe I may now understand my sister’s pleasure at occasionally taking a student under her wing.” Hesitantly, the princess reached out to the little yellow filly. “Would you, perhaps, be willing to work under my tutelage? I believe you would be destined for great things if you were to come to Canterlot with me. I could ensure a place of importance in the Academy for you one day.”

The girl’s eyes brightened and she turned her head around, flicking her tail away from her rear-end and inspecting it. It was as still a bit grimey from the caverns but blank as ever. Her ears dipped, unable to hide her disappointment. She glanced over Luna’s shoulder at Junior who was furiously motioning her to say ‘yes’ and smiled sadly at him.

“No, your majesty. I-I don’t think I’m supposed to do that. Besides, I couldn’t leave... my friend.”

Junior thought briefly he’d misheard but Luna only shrugged, touched Shiny’s nose with her toe-tip, and said, “Then, take my blessing, at least. There will come a day when you know where you are meant to be, my little pony.”

“Thank you, Miss Luna.” Shiny replied, formally.

Sitting up, Junior remembered something which had been nagging him since he awoke. “Um... you healed us and that was really nice, but what did you do with that ophio-whatsit?”

The princess put on a knowing grin. “If you are truly curious, wake early in the morning tomorrow and look east towards the horizon.”

“You turned it into a constellation?!” Shiny exclaimed.

“Oh... hah, that would be quite rich.” Luna giggled, her mane sweeping around her body. “No, it will be re-entering the atmosphere around then and should burn up quite visibly.” Getting to her hooves she opened the bedroom window. “I must return to my guests and... do damage control as necessary. Your parents have been very gracious, though if you don’t mind, I will make my exit now. I’ve never been good with ‘goodbyes.’” She turned back to Shiny. “Should you ever change your mind—”

The filly leapt onto the bed and ruffled Junior’s mane. “Who’d keep this mess in line if I did?”

Pushing her hoof away, Junior threw his pillow at her. She ducked and the cushion flew at Princess Luna who caught it in mid-air and tossed it back, boffing him across the nose and sending up a blast of feathers. Then her mane swirled around her body and, in a flash of stars and fog, she whipped out of the window into the night, leaving two of the little treat baskets from the beginning of the tour on the floor behind her.

The two children sat there for some time before Junior broke the silence.

“You should have said ‘yes,’ yahknow.”

“I know.” Shiny pretended to check her non-existent hooficure. “I couldn’t. I’m... I dunno. Can you picture me among all those Canterlot ponies all the time? Besides I had... you know... a feeling.”

Putting his chin on his knee, the colt sprawled out on his side. “With my luck, that’ll mean I’m keeping your weird butt from getting eaten alive or banished until we’re grown ups.”

“Could be worse. Let’s go see if we can get your dad to take us over to the Heights. I hear they give out whole candy bars up there.”


“But... but... oh wow! That’s such an incredible story!” Swift exclaimed. She’d had a semi-permanent grin plastered across her face for at least fifteen minutes that was probably half booze and half sugar-rush. She’d managed to absolutely destroy a cheese-cake and still had some whipped cream on her eyelashes and feathertips. I didn’t envy whatever poor cloud she chose to shower in the next day.

“Yeah, well, it was one of the consummately strangest nights of my foalhood and I spent most of it trying to keep myself from peeing or crying in front of the most important pony I’m likely to ever meet.” My hat had slipped down onto my face somewhere during the description of the crazy run from the ophiotaurus. I pushed it back into place and sipped from my barely touched bottle. It was warm, but pleasant enough. “Sweets was the real star of that show.”

Taxi rolled over like a cat sunning herself after a mighty hunt, languidly disarranging her costume in a fairly indecent way. “D’awww, thanks, yah big softy.”

“You never did tell me whether that ‘feeling’ about where you were supposed to be turned out. You want to tell us?” I added.

“Eeenope.” She sniggered, trying to get her hyper-gelled hairdo to stop poking her every time she found a comfortable spot. “You and your inquisitiveness can sit on it and spin. I just did what came naturally at the time.”

“What ‘came naturally’ ended with you up to your ears in crap for the next however many years and now you’re my chauffeur. You could have been Princess Luna’s protege!”

Rocking back and forth until she built up enough momentum to flop over in my direction, Taxi replied, “and you could have been a pony with some tact. I don’t regret that decision. You might be a bastard sometimes, but most ponies don’t ever get a friend like you so you shut your pie-hole about what I could have been.”

Slip Stitch’s his eyes wandered dreamily towards the ceiling. “‘Tis true that good friends are rare and often come in strange forms. I don’t know what I would do without Miss Thalassemia. She is my confidante, minion, and, all too often, caretaker. I really must apply to the city for a raise for her.” Another idea ticked through his odd mind; I could almost watch as his personality shifted from kindly musing friend to the unstable scientist, curiosity unbounded. “Would that I could nip down there and get a look at all those lovely dragon bodies in their preserved state! Why, the experiments I could run on such a supply...”

Taxi smacked him lightly across the back of the head. “Don’t you dare even think it you freaky twerp! Those lizards deserve their rest and you aren’t messing with them!”

Stitch looked hurt. “I am allowed to fantasize. Besides, what else are they doing with their bodies?”

Before my driver could find words foul enough to describe her feelings on his fantasies, I heard quick hoofsteps coming down our cell block’s hallway. Charging up to the bars I stuck my nose between them, mindful of touching the enchanted bars, and shouted, “Hey! Hey, anypony there? We’re stuck in here! Could you get a unicorn?”

The reply froze the blood in my veins.

“Oh, a unicorn you say?” Chief Iris Jade trotted into my vision, her skeleton still shining through her skin, and dragged her hoof along the outside of the cage, making the bars ring. “I am certain that one might be found who would be sympathetic to your plight, Detective.”

I could have responded with dignity. I am a stallion, after all, and I have my pride. However, I somehow doubted that would get me released from the cell sometime during the same century.

“Chief... please let us out? I really have to go to the bathroom.” I begged.

Her lips curled up but there was no joy in her smile. “Didn’t you see? There’s a bucket in the back of that little oubliette for just such a purpose. And what do you mean, ‘us?’”

I turned and saw the small pail at the back. I also noticed I was very alone inside the little cell. Taxi, Slip Stitch, and Swift were all gone.

“What did you do with them?” I asked, nervously.

“I simply reversed the trap spell; a relic of a less civilized time, but clever enough to snare an incautious pony.” Jade replied, sweeping her bangs back off of her thin green face. “They will be upstairs, no doubt enjoying the party. “

“They’re going to be looking for me!” I shouted, slamming my forelegs against the cage and earning myself a solid shock that sent me over on my tail.

“Unlikely, as I sent a little note with them saying you’d be waiting for them in the morning at home.” The mare’s expression was a bit too close to his memory of the bullsnake’s for comfort. I wondered what all she was on just then, and how much she’d heard. “It was a shame they had to miss so much of the party. When I activated that spell, I thought for certain you would be coming down here alone after I told the chef to direct you this way. I didn’t realize Slip Stitch was actually down here.”

“Why?” I grabbed a bag of cotton candy and put my face against it, trying to look pitiful so she might take mercy. No such luck.

“Why?” Jade’s eyes flashed angrily. “Because the last time I had a party like this, you got drunk and made a pass at the zebra ambassador’s daughter. You are lucky. Their marital rules are quite... strict. You almost earned yourself a bride and jeopardized our relations with the entire zebra nation. Be glad I was able to convince them you were a eunuch and quite unsuitable for breeding.”

“I don’t... remember that...” I stammered. The night she was referring to had gone by in a haze of cognac and tequila.

“Somehow, I am unsurprised,” the Chief deadpanned. “Regardless, as you can see, I have taken some steps to ensure no such fracas could be repeated.”

“You could have just told me to stay home, yahknow. I was catching up on some missed sleep.”

A small hoof-held camera floated into sight. The lens adjusted itself and before I could cover my face, it flashed, leaving spots floating in front of my eyes.

“And miss your lovely costume?... not a chance.” Jade giggled maniacally and tucked the camera away. “I’m having that framed for my desk. By the way, unless you want that picture to go in the department newsletter, your reports to me had best never again end with the words ‘Dispatch to Empress Tight-Ass herself.’”

“You can’t seriously leave me down here!” I yelled, throwing a muffin in her direction. It bounced harmlessly off the bars.

“You will find I am entirely capable of that. Now... sleep tight. I’ll send Telly around to let you out in the morning if I remember to.” She started to turn away but then seemed to think better of it. “Oh, one last thing.”

A bottle of the expensive beer from the drinks table upstairs drifted into the cell with me. I twisted the top off and took a grateful swallow. The cupcake vodka was tasty but dried the mouth out something fierce. “Yeah?”

“You do make a lovely mare.”

“Sure, sure...”

“Happy Nightmare Night, Hard Boiled.”

“Happy Nightmare Night, you awful bitch.”

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Comments ( 44 )

1619826
Warhammer references?

Chapter 3
WOOO
Taxi is best potential student :3

When he was unsure what to do with her, he often just gave her a hug; for some reason, that always seemed to work. After a few seconds, she returned the gesture, giving him a light squeeze as her breathing became a little more natural. “It’s okay. Really. I’m alright. At least, I will be.

Dawwwww

You all must understand this. Understand and take it with you. Whatever you tell your parents is your responsibility. They may not believe you, but you will know the truth, regardless. What you do with this truth will determine the course of Equestria’s future. I leave it now, in your hooves.

o.o a confession?
Oh my

He bolted back towards the archway. The others quickly ran after him. A distant part of his fear-wracked mind realized he was walking in the ashes of all those dragons trapped underground, trying to free themselves.

RUNNNNN

Equally loud, however, was the horrible thought of his best friend being furiously gobbled by Nightmare Moon or an undead lizard.

The taxi has been gobbled! nuuuuuuu

A rational part of his mind knew neither of those things was terribly likely, but that rational part did not hold enough seats in his mental committee right now.

Lol a mental committee, nice analogy there.

She...the princess... she moved all of those dragons underground with that spell. That’s why they never got to dig themselves out. She wasn’t aiming for any particular spot. Just... underground. They were alive...alive with their bodies half inside the ground

Holy crap
Talk about under pressure.
And then they run for their lives from the, thing

Junior was just turning away from another blocked shaft when he heard rocks tumbling against each other. It sounded nearby, but the strange acoustic effects continued to counfound his hearing.

Counfound? :D

It had the aspect of a snake given four cloven hooves, but was far more bulky. A wide cobra’s hood adorned with two bright splotches of green sprung from it’s supple, frighteningly flexible neck. Two goring horns, capable of skewering an adult pony, end to end, completed the ensemble. It stumbled back and forth at the end of the hall, shaking it’s head wildly like it was trying to dislodge a bee from it’s ear. He didn’t even know if snakes had ears, but something in the way it staggered from side to side indicated something was definitely wrong. Patches of scales along it’s face and neck seemed to be missing, leaving ugly, weeping sores dripping some foul liquid.

Oh shit

An irritated snort sounded down the crack they’d just emerged from and Junior felt an irrational anger light in his chest. He leapt forward, braced his hooves on the walls, and spat back at the menacing monster the worst curse he knew. “Darn you straight to Tartarus!”

Oh watch out we got a badass here :twilightsheepish:

Shiny covered her mouth with one hoof and sniggered to herself. “Oh Hardy, I never heard you cuss before. That was sooo adorable!”

Shiny said it XD.

Reaching out he put his forelegs around her neck and pulled her into the dappled glow filtering from far above. Raising his eyes, he nodded at the sky. “Our lives might not be terribly long, but I promise, right here, under the moon, that I won’t leave you. So you can stop worrying, alright? I ain’t going anywhere except maybe into that thing’s stomach.”

So romantic

Wrapping his leg in the fabric he pulled himself up, bit a section, shimmied up a few inches hanging by his teeth, then un-twined his leg and moved it up, repeating the procedure. It was tiring, but he was the best earth pony in gym class at the rope-climb

Reminds me of my own rope-climbing abilities, or lack of them. I never did get the hang of the technique.

“No kidding.” Shiny said, hiding her amusement poorly. “I wonder if that monster’s poop is really long or if it’s like a pie.”

“What?!”

“You know, because it’s a snake and a bull-”

Oh that’s nasty.

Lifting it’s head, the ophiotaurus spotted it’s rebellious prey.

You know my online spell-checker thingy keeps wanting to fix Ophiotaurus to hippopotomous, I can’t stop laughing. :D

A vengeful moo rose to end in a frightening screech, and the monster threw itself at them.

Oh god, not the vengeful moos! Bahaha

“Ow!” Princess Luna bellowed, putting her hoof on Junior’s chest, pinning him in place. Her horn hovered dangerously a few inches from his neck, until she realized what exactly had crashed into her. She picked him up in her magic by one ankle and gave him a firm shake. “Colt, I swear, you are the maddest little imp I have met for more than twenty years! What did you think you were doing? Attacking that beast?!” She scolded.

Dawwww

Hmm, so Taxi convinces Luna to try and reduce her aggressive stance with dragons?

“What ‘came naturally’ ended with you up to your ears in crap for the next however many years and now you’re my chauffeur. You could have been Princess Luna’s protege!

I have to agree with hardy here, being a protegee to a princess sure as hell beats being stuck in nowhere land.

And miss your lovely costume?... not a chance.” Jade giggled maniacally and tucked the camera away. “I’m having that framed for my desk. By the way, unless you want that picture to go in the department newsletter, your reports to me had best never again end with the words ‘Dispatch to Empress Tight-Ass herself”

LOL

“You do make a lovely mare.”

“Sure, sure...”

“Happy Nightmare Night, Hard Boiled.”

“Happy Nightmare Night, you awful bitch.”

Oh my “you do make a lovely mare”. HINT HINT
:D

What a nice ending. Gosh that was quite a long side-fic huh. You don't mess around eh.
So that was nice a bit of world building with the war vs the dragons, so many dawwww moments. Luna scaring the pants off a bunch of fillies then terror of being chased through lots of winding tunnels from a bull-snake creature. o.o
But then the vengeful moos :rainbowkiss:
Lots of colourful analogies and language used, and like usual very easy to read. Also an expansion on the enigma that is Taxi and her history.
Say when she read that ophiotaurus's future did she see flinging her ball at it? :D
Couple of brave moments by a desperate hardy and a little romance, sorta.

What a ride!
AGAIN AGAIN.

1694712 The Demolisher is an orange pegasus riding something called a 'war-scooter'? Did nobody pick up on that?


1695272 I'm really glad you enjoy it. I have never written anything that ruined me quite so badly as this bastard. It was incredibly hard to write and neither Kasen nor I really enjoyed it but the final product wasn't bad at all.

We hold ourselves to some ridiculously high standards of content and character and if something doesn't feel like it pops, we usually end up slamming our heads against it until it 'works'. Unfortunately, with this piece we really just wanted to get it out the door.

-Chessie

1695943 You suffered so that some of us don't have to for the story we enjoy.
Thank you

:yay: Yay! World building and Back stories and cute kids and candy and drunken exploits and wars and terrible crimes against creation and self-loathing and heartache and guilt and lies and BAWWWW Equestria is a scary place to live! :fluttercry:

“We held the spell and cast... and for an instant, we were more than a pony. We were a pulsar! We might have our night eternal once more! Endless, endless power!”

UNLIMITED POWWWAAAHHHHHHH

“You know, because it’s a snake and a bull-”

Kids will always be kids. And kids love toilet humor.

“You turned it into a constellation?!” Shiny exclaimed.

And that's how the Constellation Bullsnake came t--

“No, it will be re-entering the atmosphere around then and should burn up quite visibly.”

Oh. Oh! OOoohhhhhh... Space can be mean.

Because the last time I had a party like this, you got drunk and made a pass at the zebra ambassador’s daughter. You are lucky. Their marital rules are quite... strict. You almost earned yourself a bride and jeopardized our relations with the entire zebra nation.

I'm seeing the last scene of Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls in my head here. SHIKAKA!

That was some serious stuff there, with Luna's emotional self-abuse in the guise of a scarefest. I've seen that same sort of thing, where it takes a good "Pull yourself together" slap rather than the comforting reassurances that induce real healing. Hits ya right in the feels.

1695943
I caught that one!

And Scary Luna is best Luna.

1699462 I wondered if the 'self loathing' thing Luna has would be too hot to touch or wouldn't come through properly. One has to figure the Night Princess is probably a little fucked up considering all the crap she's been through without the thousand years to process it all.

-Chessie

1695943
Sorry, I'm terrible when it comes to references.:applejackconfused:

Still really enjoyed it. Getting a look at Sweets and Hardy as kids was really neat.:twilightsmile:

1695943
"The Demolisher is an orange pegasus riding something called a 'war-scooter'? Did nobody pick up on that?"
Is it possible that she is Gypsy's mother ? Or war-scooters were widely used during war ?

Ah, nothing like Nightmare Night stories in February.
I enjoyed it.

2162281 Dawww, I didn't know you hadn't read this one! It's been up since October.

-Chessie

Gem

1700563>>1782302
Scootaloo :derpytongue2:

Damn, this is one powerful story! So good in fact, I couldn't put it down despite the late hour. So good that I had to make a comment illustrating how much I enjoyed it. So good that I spent ages getting my cantankerous Bluetooth keyboard to pair with my phone so I could write this comment. So good that I did not want to waste time booting up my pc to read and comment easier and quicker.

It does surprise me that you say you didn't like it much - a bloody shame, as I reckon this is one of the finest stories I've read in a long time, and I read a lot of fics on this site.

Keep it up,; theres some magical storytelling talent you got that really makes my day! :twilightsmile:

2774688 Thanks for that. If you haven't the main story is a good read. We had a royal bitch of a time with Nightmare Night and never did get to edit it as completely as we would have liked. It sorta got shoved out the door.

-Chessie

2779015

I am a huge fan of the main story, definately one of my all time favourites!

I really enjoyed this story, I know I'm late to the party as it were, I only just found this. Lots of emotions in this story, strangely my strongest emotional response probably wasn't the one it was suppose to be. My strongest response was wanting to kill Taxi's father, he sounds positively evil. All other reactions I had weren't nearly as strong as that one, not sure what that says about me.

2956400 Taxi's dad... yeah. Wait'll you find out the story behind him. That'll be part of the main story. This was a semi-cannon short one-off. I asked, if the readers could have me write about ANYTHING, what would it be. The top three answers were 'Hardy and Taxi as kids', 'Main Show characters entering the continuity', and 'The Crusades'.

-Chessie

2957380 Oh god, I'm going to end up really hating him aren't I? I gave a lot of thought as to why I was so angry about Shiny's situation, and I finally figured it out, which is sad cause it really is obvious. What pissed me off is no one did anything about it. It's pretty clear that Hardy's parents knew what was going on, Hard Boiled Senior is a cop, and did nothing! That doesn't make sense! Princess Luna knew what was going on, she saw into Shiny's mind, AND DID NOTHING!!! She's a flaming Princess, a princess who likes kids a lot, and she did nothing about it. That makes no sense! What is going on here!?

Sorry, I shouldn't get so mad about fiction, I can't help it. I hate the thought of females being hurt, little girls even more so... I... I'm sorry I'll shut up now.

2966388 If you've ever been around abused kids before, or abusive situations, you slowly get to know situations like this. Even those in authority are reluctant to act and moreso when the child asks them not to.

-Chessie

2967638 Yeah... still very sad though :fluttercry:

3023127 Wait'll you find out Taxi's REAL backstory. Seriously, it's a bit fucked up.

-Chessie

This is an amazing fic but I confess my feeling is if I ever had the chance to have Taxi be a real being I could meet my first instinct would be to try and break her jaw. She just comes across in this fic as such a massive abusive bitch with no justification or reasoning whatsoever. Just abusing Hardy for the sake of it with no guilt or qualms whatsoever.

I still thumbs it up because it's a beautiful fic but it really leaves ashes in my mouth. I feel like the entire fic Taxi is coating on the fact that she can get away with it because Hardy is too nice. And I really wish I could see someone get a shot on her and bawl her out.

3085462 Taxi and Hardy have a VERY complicated relationship. Sometimes it's genuinely abusive, but Taxi's been badly abused. The main story will, eventually, explain their relationship more completely.

-Chessie

3085755 And I have no doubt it will, but reading this fic felt so divorced from what's currently going on storywsie that it felt like a standalone and really put me off.

3089548 Well, it is a standalone. This fic was supposed to be for Halloween. Large parts of it don't really fit into the actual cannon of Starlight. I won't really be referencing it directly if I can avoid it.

-Chessie

1700467 A little? And I wonder how she feels about groups like the Loonies.

On btoh sides,

You tyoped a wrod here. :derpytongue2:

that rational part did not hold enough seats in his mental committee right now.

Hardy, I know that feel.

his class-mate Rock Roller

Misread that first 'o' as an 'i', and I can only hope Hardy never has encountered a pony named Rick Roller. :trollestia:

The crack all by disappeared.

*but

“No, it will be re-entering the atmosphere around then and should burn up quite visibly.”

*gulp* :twilightoops:

3387777 Nightmare Night was a slog for Kasen and I, so it's never really gotten the sort of regular edits that Starlight Over Detrot does.

-Chessie

3388605 For not getting regular edits, it still turned out pretty well. I just like to point out typos whenever my brain doesn't skip right over them.

As far as sidefics go, this was really, really great. I love the exploration into Hardy and Taxi's pasts.

I think I'm starting to have an idea of what happened to Taxi and her cutie mark. Poor Taxi...:ajsleepy:

3888861 It's Detrot. There's nothing nice about Detrot.

-Chessie

5138152 Sadly, like has been mentioned many times over, this story didn't get NEAR the editting it deserved. Mostly, Kasen and I were just glad to have it done.

-Chessie

They say never meet your heroes.
They may turn out to not be who you think they are.

Well I say that instead of having heroes and never meeting them, you should instead make heroes of the people you meet.
That why you truly know who they are and of what character they are built of.


Well this was actually a VERY good read. Totally worthy of having 0 dislikes.

But this gave me a thought.
Any chance at having a Harthswarming special?

You two have become very adept at many literary aspects. Action, adventure, a bit of romance, dark points that would make Edgar Allan Poe a bit jelly.
But you haven't touched heart warming that much.
You did a splendid job at a bit of it in the end of this, but not much other then that that I can recall.

It could be something like Hardy getting ready to spend another holiday at the bar feeling sad about himself and his dead partner but the girls won't just leave him to his self pity on a holiday, they could be on a stakeout and get snowed in so they tell holiday stories, Hardy visits his mom(can't remember if you have said if shes dead), Hardy is forces to help the less fortunate by his boss for a DPD fundraiser or someshit.

Possibilities for stories everywhere from 1 to 2 thousand words, or even to 20 or 30K

Something to make the heart melt.

Other then that, you continue to bring me in on levels that few have managed.
Will continue with the latest chapter in the main story tomorrow night.

“Could be worse. Let’s go see if we can get your dad to take us over to the Heights. I hear they give out whole candy bars up there.”

dvdizzy.com/images/d-f/diaryofawimpykid-05.jpg

5142182 You should be aware that THIS story was originally only meant to be about 10k in length. This was a 'Halloween' special that stretched into November.

We promised ourselves, after this one NO MORE SPECIALS...because I am apparently incapable of writing anything short.

Still, we've got a bit of heartwarming next chapter in the main story.

-Chessie

5143334
Well you gotta admit that it was worth a shot.
:twilightsheepish:

Aaaand now that I've read it, it's clicked to me exactly what the bad guy who I'm not allowed to name is doing, how he's going to do it, and how what Luna/Nightmare Moon did to end that war that day factors into it....

I think...

If so, you are very clever at weaving together details over a timeline...

5407614 Meh, Taxi was being brainwashed with magic. The whole awfulness of it wasn't actually in her head when Luna went poking around. If it had been, it might have ended this whole mess early.

-Chessie

5409188 ... actually now that i think about it, she probably would have realized somethign was off to begin with......

That was a rush. The characters are enjoyable as always, and getting some historical context (for both the Crusades and Hardy's family) was neat, even if it's not clear how much was actually "canon". It's a little unsettling how screwed up Equestria (not just this outlying urban area like I thought) apparently got in a relatively short span of time from the show, though, for something like these Crusades to happen.

6542369 Detrot is an outlier. It's way worse than almost every other place in Equestria. That said, it doesn't take much. One unprovoked attack, a couple of lightly cooked diplomats, and one extremely aggressive, extremely surly dragon sitting on the throne.

-Chessie

7679597 This doesn't actually fall within the cannon of the main story. I wrote it because it was fun.

As to the stuff about 'providing a full moon'...the answer is 'because magical pony world'. Don't overthink it.

-Chessie

http://sta.sh/01l75b4lzpf1

This story was TOO CUUTE I had to! ^////^;;

7693750 I D'awwwed so hard I almost exploded

-Chessie

This was a wonderful side story, that managed to help my craving for the next chapter of Hardy's long road to putting on Nightmare Moon's helmet, or at least that's my theory what will happen ;3

I have only one problem with Nightmare Night - it's just like a Dragon Ball Z movie. It's great and canonical, but there's no way I can see it fitting into the main story. There's simply no free time outside Hardy's long nap xD

7823604 Basically, yeah, you're right. I didn't write this as part of the main canon. I wrote it as a fun one-off for Halloween one year. I asked the readers what they wanted to see in a short. The answers were Hardy and Taxi as kids, characters from the show, and some history on the Crusades.

-Chessie

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