• Published 29th Dec 2013
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Unicorn x Unicorn - Typewrittensoul



An alternate Equestria that must be saved by three unlikely heroines.

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Chapter 1

As Neighagra Falls roared in the distance, a royal carriage pulled by two pegasus stallions landed on the outskirts of a small town. Although larger to accommodate more passengers, it was far from the ornate single-seat carriage that the princess would ride on important occasions.

There were three passengers in all that stepped off of the carriage. As Twilight sought to thank the guards that had brought them to the eponymously named Neighagara Falls town, Trixie was setting her belongings on the ground at her hooves with a simple levitation spell. She had enough sense to wait until after the carriage and its drivers left before she started her complaining. “That ride was less than accommodating,” Trixie sighed in disappointment.

Sunset was quick to retort and roll her eyes. “Then why in the world are you lugging a huge trunk, you airhead?”

“I’m sure that she has a reason, Sunset,” Twilight tried to rationalize, trotting closer to the two after seeing the carriage off. “Right, Trixie?”

“Of course,” she replied.

“...and that reason, is?” Twilight asked.

“Hmm? What do you mean by that, Sparkle?”

“Heh...nevermind…” Twilight said, able to see Sunset get more and more irritated by the second. “Let’s focus on Princess Celestia’s task for us, shall we?” Along with a slight nervous chuckle, Twilight led the group into town.

Looking around, Trixie was sure that there were more ponies working at the palace than there were living in this town. Of course, the population was sure to swell for the day with the upcoming Summer Sun Celebration. Already tourists were making their way to shops and restaurants that had begun theming their wares and services for the annual event.

“I’ve made a list of each of our duties,” Twilight cheerily announced as they walked, floating pieces of parchment to the others.

Trixie glanced at the copy that was floated over to her. The first thing she discerned was the quality of the cursive. Her expression became pensive as her eyes scanned the sheet that was now held aloft in her spell once Twilight’s receded. There were a few particular loops that Twilight made that always seemed to remind Trixie of the cursive textbooks. It happened when the quill tip was not applied with enough pressure at the end stroke.

It was clear and concise, not at all flashy or messy. The precise effort necessary as per academic standards. It failed to impress Trixie and so her attention quickly switched over to the meaning of the words written instead of the presentation and arrangement.

“...so let’s meet back here in two hours,” Trixie heard Twilight declare. She half nodded and returned the always-eager student’s expectant look with a neutral almost-bored one of her own.

“Sure, sounds like a thing,” Trixie said. She could figure out the context of Twilight’s spiel easily enough: “Quality of Entertainment” was at the top of her sheet in bold, after all. The several bullet points outlining her “Expected duties and (optional) additional tasks” were most likely the word-for-word summary of what Twilight had been talking about.

It was clear that Twilight recognized the sarcasm but she remained steadfastly positive, almost admirably so, Trixie had to privately admit. “Alright. See you later, Trixie!” A simple glance alerted Twilight to the fact that Sunset had long since wandered off to perform her own duties, preventing what was likely another part of Twilight’s list to be checked off as she tried to chase after her.

Smacking her lips and looking around, Trixie picked up her trunk in her magic and sauntered about for a bit. She took in the sights and sounds of what was currently active. There were booths that could be found at a local fair intermingled with grander-looking stages and displays. Food, cookware, carnival-like games and street shows all commingled together to catch the attendees’ eyes, ears and stomachs. By chance she made her way over to a small gathering and peered through the crowd to watch what was going on, carefully setting the trunk down by her side.

“Welcome all, mares and gentlestallions! Let me introduce myself: I am Amber the Amazing!” The young presenter called out, looking over the assemblage with a set of wide pale yellow eyes and an animated expression. Trixie focused not on the young mare as she talked about her recent travels and studying under a renowned magician—the basic sort of spiel to draw the audience’s attention to where it’s wanted—but on all of the likely prefabricated points of the makeshift stage that would be used for the set.

“I hope you all enjoy our fair little town while you’re here for the Summer Sun Celebration this year!” As soon as she made that declaration the performance began. Or at least, that’s how it was to the common pony. Everything was part of the show, from where the magician stood to how she glanced and winked at members of the audience, to even how she selected a volunteer from the audience. While it didn’t seem to be that the young stallion who walked up to choose a card from the deck held aloft was actually a planted member of the magician’s group, he was definitely brought upward to change that skeptical look on his face to one of amusement for the rest of the audience to watch.

Overall it was a very by-the-book show for a non-unicorn. Feats of non-spell magic along with illusions and dove appearances. Even a false dismemberment to shock and awe everyone.

Trixie remained as the crowd dispersed at the end of the show and she even waited for the couple of foals excited by the act who were bothering the magician to finally be pulled away by their mother. With no reservations, now that the coast was clear, Trixie stepped forward and stated, “I spotted that switch.”

“W-what?” The earth pony stammered out, not sure what to make of what she just heard from this pony that just said this out of the blue.

Trixie didn’t even blink when she said, “Your overhoof switch needs to be faster, and with less wasted movements. Think of it like pulling a tablecloth so quick that the cutlery and plates remain.”

She seemed hesitant but slowly her hooves moved into position after giving it some thought. She first brought out a bag of bits as she did during the show. The bag jingled and made the appropriate amount of noise from her practiced movement to draw the audience’s attention in, before she waved her hoof over the bag and it deflated as though everything within its confines disappeared without a trace.

“Oh wow. It worked!”

“Hmph,” Trixie audibly huffed. “Of course it did.”

The mare chuckled and agreed with that point, giving a slight bow of her head. “Th-thank you! My name’s Amber. Nice to make your acquaintance…?”

“Trixie Lulamoon.”

“Right,” Amber giggled. “Trixie Lulamoon. Are you here to perform as well? You’re not thinking of stealing attention from me now that you’ve scoped the competition, are you?”

“Not really,” Trixie curtly responded. There were already plenty of other performances that she had to take a look at and Trixie definitely didn’t want to have Sunset crowing about her not doing her job. “I’m really here more on separate business at the moment.”

“Oh, I see,” Amber said in understanding. “Right. I guess I’ll be seeing you around town? Well, if you find yourself getting some time off, make sure you come to my show later tonight. As thanks for helping out, you can come for free! I’ll definitely have the switch down by then. And a lot of other tricks too, I promise!”

Her horn was aglow once more, lifting the large trunk off the ground with ease. “I’ll see you around, I guess,” Trixie said. She returned to her wandering, assessing the various booths and stalls of Equestrians that even included a number of non ponies trying to catch the eyes of the ever-increasing number of tourists and visitors before finding Twilight and Sunset strolling up ahead. It didn’t take long to get within a few paces away at a quick gait when she called out, “So are we done, yet? Lugging this around is getting tiring.”

Sunset let out an irritated nicker and growled out, not needing to turn around to recognize who had just complained. “Seriously, what was the point of you even bringing tha-...?”

“Cadance? Cadance!” Twilight suddenly exclaimed and lunged forward much to Trixie and Sunset’s surprise. She bolted ahead of the others toward a tall—statuesque, even—pony dressed in a less-than-fetching brown hooded cloak. Twilight’s excited calls attracted the pony’s attention and caused her to turn in curiosity. Light purple eyes lit up in joy upon seeing Twilight and she moved around to embrace the smaller unicorn in a familial nuzzle.

“Twilight? It’s been so long! I’ve missed you so much,” she said in a warm tone

“I’ve missed you too, Cadance!” Twilight cheered.

By the time Trixie and Sunset reached the pair Twilight and the other mare had already finished some weird song and dance. It drew a predictable number of stares and amused looks from the ponies around them, just as it drove home to Trixie just how embarrassing it was to be associated in any way with Twilight Sparkle more than it already did.

Trixie only half paid attention to the conversation between Twilight and who she gleaned was named Cadance, to include quick introductions of Sunset and herself, when a look of realization appeared on the eggheaded mare’s face. “I think...this is for you.” Twilight passed the letter from the princess kept in her saddle bag over to the other pony, exchanging it from her magic’s grasp to Cadance’s.

Nothing seemed to be particularly important about the letter as she opened it, but that impression changed when Cadance began to read the contents on what seemed like a high quality stock of paper. "Oh...Shining..." She swooned and sighed. Trixie narrowed her eyes when she heard his name pass through the older unicorn's lips.

“Ah, there you are, Cadance.”

Cadance returned to reality when the stallion’s voice registered in her mind and she stepped to the side of the comparatively shorter stallion. “Oh, I’m sorry. Everyone, this is Chancellor Tapioca of the Free Pony Federation.”

“Charmed to meet you ladies,” he said with a polite and stiff bow of his head.

Trixie recognized the name. It was part of the drier lessons of Equestrian history taught by an eggheaded mare that managed to put even Twilight to sleep. Chancellor Tapioca was elected to represent the loose collection of ponies recently liberated from the Crystal Empire’s control that no longer felt they had to remain entirely in Equestria’s sphere of influence. Princess Celestia quickly acceded to the call for independence, much to everyone’s surprise, then even went so far as to propose an alliance with the Federation. While most if not everything she ever learned in that class was dumped out of her memory in favor of something more useful or at the very least interesting, the purely rote review of this part of Equestrian history was probably forever ingrained in her mind. Trixie could still see the “Fill In The Blank” questions of dates and names floating around in her nightmares.

“Oh, you’re a descendent of Chancellor Puddinghead, aren’t you?” Twilight mused aloud. She stepped forward. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, your Excellency. My name is Twilight Sparkle, this is Trixie Lulamoon and Sunset Shimmer,” she introduced her classmates and in turn he politely nodded to each of them.

“W-well, yes. You certainly know your history, Ms Sparkle.” He fought to keep his composure when that name was mentioned, but the stallion could hardly stop the grin from curling the corners of his lips upward.

“Heraldry, actually,” Twilight said along with a chuckle, nodding toward his distinctive cutie mark. “But I can see where you would make that mistake in distinguishing the two.”

He seemed to take Twilight’s correction in stride and smile back with a chuckle of his own “Ah. Apologies regarding my mistake, then.” Along with a nod, Tapioca returned to looking as dignified as one could when standing next to the much taller Cadance. “I’m simply quite excited to be invited as an honored guest at this occasion,” he gushed. “I mean, on behalf of the ponies I represent, of course.”

“Of course,” Cadance giggled politely.

“Well we’ve mostly checked over everything for Princess Celestia’s arrival,” Twilight said. "Sunset already spoke with the mayor and I guess that letter was for Cadance this whole time."

“Yeah, it’s pretty good,” Trixie said. “Some events better than others, anyway.”

“What was that, Trixie?” Twilight asked with some amusement when a pair of Wonderbolts arrived.

“The Princess has left Canterlot and is on her way,” one of the distinctly uniformed pegasi said.

Twilight nodded, quickly calculating the estimated time of arrival like the egghead she was. “Right. We can start seating everyone, then,” Twilight stated, to which the guards quickly spread the word to the guests and visitors all over town.

Along with an influx of visitors crowding the streets of the normally quiet town, the presence of ponies clad in the finest armor and wielding impressive weaponry had quite the calming effect. Just beyond the falls was the border with the Crystal Empire and the ever present risk of invasion that was the very reason why the town never grew despite the picturesque location and plentiful grazing lands. Neighagra Falls was first and foremost a military post meant to ward off opportunistic attacks by the Empire. However, word of the princess’ arrival this year boosted enough confidence in Equestrians to visit for the Summer Sun Celebration.

That meant traffic and crowd control, security for both the civilians’ safety as well as to tamp down on crime like thievery and rowdiness from a massive population growth in such a short amount of time. Trixie could tell from how Twilight interacted with the mayor—a pegasus stallion by the name of Windrush—that the town had met the challenge of hosting this event and then some. Which, she had to admit, was impressive given her classmate’s high standards and sometimes obsessive expectations. Sunset Shimmer, as per the princess' orders, focused on coordinating where everyone had to be while Twilight immersed herself in the logistics of the whole affair. They made quite the team, Trixie had to admit.

By comparison, she was pretty much killing time by her trunk while Twilight, the mayor, Cadance, the Chancellor, Sunset and a number of townspony volunteers were doing the final preparations for the princess’ arrival at the main stage. A certain illusionist by the name of Amber didn’t seem to be present, but Trixie was able to spot a few charlatans and cons trying to make their living from the unexpecting crowds. It didn’t take much to turn the game around on them from her perch at the edge of the stage overlooking the designated celebration grounds in the center of town. A minor trip spell here, pickpocketing the pickpocket to return valuables to their rightful owners there, when she overheard Twilight announce to Cadance while approaching, “Assuming that everything continues on schedule, I expect tha-”

A quick glimmer in the distance caught Trixie’s eye but it was the only warning Cadance needed before she spun around, her horn aglow in magic just as several dozens of shots in a multiple-hued barrage of roaring energy lit up the sky. The audience around them was at first awed by the sight, but when the delayed ferocious roar of the attack tore through the air and exploded upon impacting Cadance’s barrier, they screamed in abject terror. The violent concussions of the blasts shook the ground and made even the air around them waver and vibrate against them.

“Wow,” Trixie gasped in awe at she was witnessing. ‘No wonder Twilight knows her barriers. Besides Shining Armor, of course. What’s going on between him and this Cadance girl, anyway? Is it her height? She’s pretty, I guess...

"Let's go," Sunset whispered, drawing Twilight and Trixie's attention.

“Heh? What? Oh.” Trixie snapped out of her steadily meandering thoughts and followed the girls.

The guards sprung into action to corral the screaming civilians and mount a defense at the still-unseen enemy. The various ranking soldiers doled out orders and their subordinates shouted back in compliance.

Trixie had just left the stage as black armored stallions made their appearance, crashing into the stage and various guards’ positions with offensive spells. They were all brushed off by the spectacular display of prowess from Cadance before a counterspell shot back with no casting needed despite the incredible amount of magic it had to have contained. “No way!” Trixie shouted at the absurd sight, unable to comprehend that the endless warnings of an incoming invasion back at Canterlot from ponies she deemed were paranoid and nonsensical were finally bearing fruit.

Soon squads of invaders began to appear, clashing with would-be defenders. Three of the heavily armored attackers split off from the group to take on the advancing guards. They engaged the guards and with no hesitation swung their weapons and cast spells.

Trixie nearly stumbled as her eyes caught sight of growing amount of destruction from less than a minute of fighting. “Get your head in the game, Lulamoon!” Sunset shouted in excitement, easily jumping out of the way of the energy that crashed into the ground where she just was. With a look of sheer joy on her face, Sunset quickly countered with a barrage of fireballs that trailed after the armored attacker. Each successive shot came closer and closer to hitting him until one grazed his foot, causing him to falter upon landing.

“This isn’t a game, Shimmer!” Trixie shrieked, realizing her own immediate danger as she dove out of the way of an energy blast sent her way. The ground crackled and a deep crater was bored from the resulting explosion, sending pieces of rock flying everywhere.

“Trixie!”

“Twilight! There you are!” Trixie shouted in relief at the sight of her classmate running toward her. “Listen, Sunset isn’t listening to me to get to safety so I need you to-”

“Safety! Yes, of course! I’ll help to protect and evacuate the townsponies with Cadance. You need to help Sunset, Trixie!” With that, Twilight galloped back with her horn glowing bright to summon a pair of floating orbs that were quickly thrust into the sky, shooting them up just as they exploded like fireworks.

“Wait, that’s not...M-me? With that power freak?!” Trixie scowled at the thought. The light of the signal flares recognizable by every royal guard and soldier quickly dissipated as the lingering wisps of energy twinkled less and less. More so as attack spells of all kinds shrieked every which way across the sky.

Twilight chuckled over her shoulder. “It’s ok, Trixie. I trust that you’ll take care of her.”

Trixie clicked her tongue and began to contemplate her actions amidst the maelstrom of spells ripping the town apart. “The heck does Sparkle think I’ll be able to do, anyway?” She sighed and muttered with limited calm before making her way to her hot headed classmate.

--

Only minutes had passed since the initial magical volley and already parts of the town was set ablaze and mostly in ruins. The streets were riddled with rubble, but thankfully clear of any civilians. The shouts of soldiers and metallic clanking and clash of steel weapons and armor echoed amidst the sounds of spells and explosions. All the while, from relative safety behind mounds of wood fragments and collapsed brick siding, Trixie watched as Sunset shot volley after volley at the attackers. Squads of intimidating armored stallions charged forward and were repelled by a single pony. No matter how the armored invaders tried to dodge her attacks, it was no different than aiming at stationary scarecrow targets for the mare.

“Ugh...is she...is she actually smiling?” Trixie whispered to herself. The garish display of force was a reminder of a barbarous past better forgotten. A time of tribal warfare and petty arguments over land.

Trixie found it absurd how ponies could still be so violent in this day and age. Competitions, duels, sports and the like were supposed to have replaced actual fighting, were they not? Presentations of skill and power within the confines of rules and guidelines should have been more than enough to prove one’s superiority over another.

There was just something distasteful about taking another’s life like that. Trixie grimaced, however, at the sight of how little that worldview seemed to apply to her classmate.

Sunset rushed forward to meet the pair head-on, her mane engulfed in flame. She charged the one nearest her, headbutting the armored giant of a pony and casting the fire onto him. Twisting around, Sunset threw her weight to whip her hind legs against the foreleg of the second guard, toppling him over so she could promptly buck her hooves against the visor.

“Ok, the Princess sure as heck didn’t teach us that one…” Trixie said, unable to look away from her classmate’s fierce style of fighting. It was messy, more appropriate for a brawl in an alley than against an opponent in a proper duel. It couldn’t be any less of a surprise, considering how jumbled Sunset’s writing seemed to get at times.

Once she was done with the two attackers, Sunset’s horn glowed. The dust and confetti scattered about swirled into the air, fluttering from the pressure building up from the unicorn’s spell. “Is that all you’ve got?!” She called out to her opponents.

Trixie frowned, taking notice more and more how the supposedly heavily armored soldiers flew back after getting hit by Sunset’s fireballs. The disconnect in action and reaction was too great not to notice for the star performer. Trixie’s focus increased as her critical eye analyzed the amateurish show before her. “It’s like there no mass to them at all,” she whispered to herself and the answer quickly clicked in her mind. She spotted her target within the crowd of armored enemies.

Trixie reached into her cloak’s inner pocket, fetching the items necessary for her experiment. She pouted for a moment at the implication but poured her focus into the task before her. She took hold of a set of pinecones, vials of glitter, and glue.

--

A ball of light, as though a brilliant fire was condensed into an orb, struck against the soldier and adhered to his armor before exploding in a show of light and heat. The stallion was dizzied and frantic from the effects of the flash and subsequent blast of oppressive heat, striking out around him in a haphazard manner in obvious show of blind panic.

“Phoenix...fire?” Sunset muttered softly, recognizing the spell. She only had to focus for a moment to knock him out with a shot of magical energy against his helmet. The soldier was whipped back as though some devastating attack was just done to it.

“Yeah. This’ll do,” Trixie huffed from her hiding spot when she watched Sunset manage to get to her own cover. From under her cloak, dozens of glitter-covered pinecones were carried in her magical grasp and seemingly lit by an intense flame. She lobbed the pinecones as hard as she could, to make them look as believable as possible. A volley of nine pinecones, coated in glitter and made to dazzle and shine with Trixie’s illusion magic, surged onward,

She brought her trunk forward and opened it, taking out her whole storage of pinecones, glitter and glue. The preparation was automated by a spell to use all of her supplies. As soon as she was ready, another volley, in greater numbers, was hurled at a larger force. While certainly impressive looking, three pine cones bounced harmlessly against a set of confused invaders while a dozen more were apparently tossed aside by some great spell.

“Ha! Knew it!” Trixie screamed when she saw her theory proven true and she picked up the last of her prepared Phoenix Fire illusions intermixed with a few dense wisps of energy intended for the real enemies hidden within the horde of fakes. Some pinecones phased through soldiers while others were blasted away. Other pinecones bounced harmlessly against armored stallions now hellbent on attacking her, only to be targeted by wisps of energy that immobilized them in brilliant explosion and heat or sniped by Sunset’s precise energy blasts.

From within this confusing mess of action Trixie spotted the cloaked puppetmaster. Trixie could spot the correlation of the illusion invaders’ movements with the enemy mage’s attention, timing her charge just as it began to focus more and more on Sunset’s devastatingly accurate shots. She kicked off from a wall of wind, riding a summoned gale directed at the true danger of this attack and closing a distance of a hundred feet in a matter of seconds. “Don’t blink or you’ll miss it!” Trixie declared and growled in effort as dozens of pinecones and real Phoenix Fire wisps shot out in all directions.

The roaring winds and Trixie’s presence so deep within what was supposed to be a buffer zone managed to break the enemy pony’s concentration, immediately cutting down the invasion force from several squads to less than a dozen armored attackers. The illusion’s caster was also obviously confused, unable to determine how to have the conjured projections react while the actual invasion force was taken out.

Taking advantage of the situation, Trixie grasped the pony’s leg with her magic. “You’re one hundred years too early to try upstaging me, Amateur!” Trixie whipped her head rightward, throwing the masked pony into the building’s side. Slipping into her stage persona, Trixie had a great need to crow about her accomplishments. “You must be wondering how I could tell you that were the real one, huh?” She frowned from not getting a response. Not even an exclamation of how brilliant or even lucky she was to figure the trick out. Well, she figured something that dramatic wasn’t going to happen, but Trixie didn’t expect the reaction to her appearance to be so...underwhelming.

“Tsk...you were just lucky, Lulamoon. It’s not like I needed your help. Don’t think you did anything brilliant, alright?” Sunset huffed and strode up with a tense look on her face. The remaining force of invaders had been taken care of, it seemed. Trixie sighed, already preferring the masked pony’s silence to Sunset’s version of a “thank you.”

The masked pony’s horn glowed brightly in an amber hue, catching Trixie’s attention once more. “Wait, horn?” She blinked and took a second glance, wondering if the pony had been a unicorn the whole time. Despite her thoughts, Trixie readied herself, preparing a defensive spell. She conjured the wind, remembering the elemental she most closely resembled. A wave of fatigue interrupted her gale shield for the slightest moment, but she regained her composure and stood her ground as best she could. The winds whipped her mane, tail and cloak about, having a similar effect on the other mage by revealing what was under the pony’s hood. It most definitely concerned her to see how jagged and imposing that horn looked.

That’s a crystal!’ She realized right away. The quartz-colored protrusion shone with an unmistakably dense amount of magic and fired a straight beam of energy just like what happened at the beginning of the assault. Trixie couldn’t even gasp as she jumped as best she could out of the beam’s way, feeling her gale shield tear away from the attack. Immediately Trixie manipulated the light within her shield to hide herself while projecting an illusioned self to continue stumbling forward while she juked the opposite direction. Her recently-made clone didn’t stand a chance and was hit dead center in her chest from a follow-up attack, tearing a hole straight through to the other side.

Trixie gulped at the sight and had to skid to a halt when the enemy spun around to bat away Sunset’s attack, making the energy blast her classmate shot to roar and singe the grass right before her. The blast careened harmlessly into a pile of rubble, blowing it up with a disturbing amount of lethal force.

Sunset had taken all of the attention away from her and Trixie knew she didn’t have much time left to use this opportunity to the utmost. Only a few seconds remained for her to spot where the enemy mage was. The very moment that the clone dissipated into a cloudy mass Trixie rushed forward, breaking out of her light-bending barrier to strike the masked pony before she could fire another shot.

The pony was so focused on attacking Sunset again that she was completely taken off guard by Trixie’s sudden appearance. Even as her eyes turned and recognized the silver-maned mare’s hoof striking her in the face, she could not do anything in response. The masked pony spun away in a helpless manner like a top toward the ground. Her crystal horn was already lit up for another attack, and shot harmlessly into the air.

Trixie was panting heavily and wiped her brow. She was sure that a light breeze would be able to topple her at this point.

“Heh...that was...great…” the pony groaned out while struggling to pick herself up. “To think...you were that skilled?”

“Oh?” That voice was familiar, even if she only met the pony just today. “To think you were so gifted at misdirection after all,” Trixie replied, feigning confidence at this complete turnaround. Nonetheless she couldn’t bear to admire such an involved performance. “Maybe we could take a break to trade notes?”

“A magician never reveals her secrets, remember?” she declared, getting back to her hooves. “Now, shall we start round two?” she asked, her horn glowing once more.

“Funny! I was just about to ask you the same thing...” Trixie blurted out and puffed out her chest despite how much it burned to breathe by this point. It was all she could do to prevent the coughing fit that was sure to happen if she let it. Her legs were shaking and threatening to buckle at any moment. It was only thanks to her cowl helping to hide her exhaustion that she only had to focus on looking as though she was undeterred.

This became all the harder to do when the armored soldiers appeared at the pony’s side. They had surrounded Sunset, catching her outside of effective cover from whatever attack they might still be able to do. Trixie felt as if the walls were going to close in on her and Sunset until a voice called out that was so loud it rumbled throughout the remnants of the alley they were in.

“ENOUGH!” Someone landed between them, impacting the ground under her hooves, with wings so large and beautiful that they could be mistaken for Princess Celestia’s. Her stance was proud and stature regal as she bellowed toward the crystal horned pony, “I am Princess Mi Amore Cadenza. I command you to leave these ponies alone!”

Trixie gaped at the alicorn standing between them and the armored group. Cadance’s wings spread to their full span was an intimidating sight to behold. Flickering beads of magic, like shining droplets at the base of a waterfall on a sunny day, filled the air and surrounded Trixie and Sunset in a protective manner.

In response to the awesome display the pony immediately bowed in deference. “Your sister only wanted to protect you when she heard you were taken again, Princess!” She said.

“Skyla did?” Cadance questioned the explanation and lowered her wings as she did her guard. Her surprise was quickly suppressed as she made a regal expression once more. “Well despite her...good intentions...I came here of my own will.”

“My apologies, Princess,” the pony bowed ever more so with a quivering voice.

Cadance nodded and added, “I want you to return and tell my sister that I wish to speak to her soon.”

“Of course. As your highness commands!” As she stood up, the pony’s crystal horn glowed. Trixie watched as the glow spread over to the rest of her body, turning it entirely into crystal. “We’ll finish this another time, Trixie Lulamoon!” Amber declared. Just before she and the armored soldiers disappeared, she added, “My rival!”

Trixie figured she was exhausted. If it weren’t for all the pointless drills and exercises she was put through in Canterlot day after day, Trixie was sure she wouldn’t have survived even the first wave of attackers, much less remained standing at the end. All of that training, however, apparently wasn’t good enough to keep her from imagining things. “...her what?”

Twilight galloped over along with a number of guards following behind her. “Trixie! Sunset!”

Trixie looked over and felt her whole body loosen like it was rubber. Twilight sped up with alarm to catch her before she fell to the ground. “Nice...nice…” Trixie would’ve laughed at how tired she must’ve been to not even be able to say the word ‘catch’ if she wasn’t too busy coughing and feeling lightheaded. She then would’ve growled in irritation as Sunset approached, looking no worse for wear.

“Are you alright, Sunset? Any injuries?” Twilight glanced at the other unicorn while trying to shift Trixie in her grasp to a more comfortable position. Her load was lifted, quite literally, by a healing mage arriving with the rest of her support squad.

“I’m fine,” Sunset responded. She looked over at Trixie and wordlessly nodded, then looked back to Twilight. “You?”

“Tired, but alright.” It seemed to be her turn to glance at Trixie, followed by a light chuckle. “Nothing compared to how you must be feeling, huh, Trixie? Were all those Phoenix Fires from you?”

Trixie coughed and nodded. The concerned medic wasted no time in using a recuperation spell to provide an infusion of mana for Trixie to self heal what minor wounds she could, as well as soothe her exhausted muscles and magic circuits. Both Sunset and Twilight were looked over as well, along with the rest of the ponies in the area.

The destruction, while not total, was a shocking sight for Trixie. It only took a few minutes for her reserves to be topped off before she was able to walk about with her classmates. She didn’t know how to breach the subject of Cadance’s...well, condition while she spoke plainly with Twilight and the others as they headed back to the main square in the center of town.

“Girls, are you alright?” A voice that drew a sense of comfort in Trixie called out ahead of them toward the stage where the ceremony was supposed to take place.

“Princess!” They said in unison and respectfully bowed as Celestia approached them, flanked by a pair of guards and just as a contingent of Wonderbolts soared overhead, patrolling the sky.

“Auntie,” Cadance said with a nod and curtsy to the princess. She and Celestia walked away from the girls and began to talk amongst themselves.

“Y’know…” Trixie finally said, her thoughts still mostly a jumble as Twilight stood next to her. “I thought she was the Chancellor’s secretary or something.”

“Nope. She’s a princess. Always has been.” The response was plain and simple, much to Trixie’s chagrin. She could only watch in awe as the alicorns discussed something out of earshot, both of them regal and exceptionally beautiful in their own ways.

“And she was from the Crystal Empire this whole time?” Trixie asked.

Twilight nodded affirmatively. Trixie was nonplussed by how normal such a circumstance could be. The gears in her mind creaked at a snail’s pace from how spent she felt, and her eyes looked around to witness an entire host of Royal Guards patrolling and taking action in this once sleepy town. Even Captain Pauldron was present, directing the efforts with the help of a few officers. Shining Armor, however, didn’t seem to be amongst the Equestrian force.

"I'll be sure to ask the empress why this was allowed to happen,” Cadance’s soft voice carried over to Trixie’s ears, causing her to twitch a bit.

"Just be careful, Cadance," Celestia said. And with that, Cadance flew off to the direction of the border, undisturbed by a squadron of pegasi as they veered out of her path.

Following the mind boggling sight, Trixie saw a more mundane, down-to-earth scene of political drama take place. Tapioca, covered in soot and his mane slightly burned at the fringes, approached trying to put on a brave face. “Your highness, I’m afraid that I must return to the Federation capital forthwith. It will not do to worry my citizens regarding this wanton act upon my life and safety!”

“I take matters of your safety and well being seriously and with my utmost attention, Chancellor,” Celestia said in a confident, warm tone. “Rest assured I will place my best guards to protect your life. Will that do to assuage your concerns, at least for the time being?”

“...y-yes, I think...I think that will be more than plenty. I am quite, er...well, happy that you would do so much for me, your highness.”

“As my ally and my friend, I couldn’t bear to treat you with any less, Chancellor.”

“F-friend?”

Celestia nodded.

All it took was a slight glance over to Captain Pauldron who in turn sent a pair of armored pegasus stallions to appear on either of the Chancellor’s side.

“They will escort you to the inn until the ceremony begins. It’s quite safe.”

“Thank you, your highness. I’ll see to it that my citizens know how true a friend you are when I get back!”

“I look forward to that,” Celestia replied, straining to keep her forced smile for just a bit longer. When he finally disappeared around the corner, the princess sighed and her face turned to a more neutral, if not a little somber, expression.

“Excuse me, Princess…” Just as she was about the address her captain of the guard, Trixie approached her teacher and asked, “There’s a lot of important things going on and all, but...Did you know...that Twilight’s babysitter is from the Crystal Empire?”

“Why yes I did,” the princess replied in a calm demeanor.

Trixie nodded at that simple statement. “Oh. WHAT?!”

Author's Note:

Hopefully not too many errors pop up, given how I don't have an editor (wink wink) and I take so long to finish a draft that I lose the editors I do manage to get...