• Published 24th Jan 2013
  • 1,181 Views, 38 Comments

Dog and Pony Show: Aftermath - KaraC

Having been forced to deplete their territory of gems by Rarity, Rover, Fido and Spot must find a new way to offer Tribute to the Alphas of all Dogs.

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5 - Truths part 1: Ancient Theft

The atmosphere that hung over Ponyville at high noon was tense and full of fear as its citizens crowded into town hall in utter silence. Behind one of the curtains, Mayor Mare skimmed the speech that Twilight was holding up before her. Finally, with a faint smile, she turned to Twilight.

“It’s a very good speech. Clear, concise and reassuring to the common pony. However,” Mayor Mare’s small smile turned into a light frown. “I’m a politician, Ms. Sparkle, and I know how to read between the lines. What’s really going on?” The eyes of the mayor were piercing, almost predatory as they met with Twilight’s. The lavender mare sighed.

“Princess Celestia is contacting the gryphons and asking them to act as intermediaries between her and the Diamond Dogs. There’s a chance that they won’t though; they have a very good trading relationship with them, so Ponyville might soon find itself in the middle of a war between Princess Celestia and the Dogs.” Mayor Mare’s face was just about matching her dyed mane by the time Twilight finished her breakdown of the situation. Twilight hurriedly rushed her next sentence. “It might not come to that though! I haven’t told the Princess yet, but the female Alpha seems to like me for some reason. She caught me watching the early patrols six days ago from Sweet Apple Acres and made an offer; if I meet the terms, she’ll tell me everything about why this is all happening.”

“And those ‘terms’ are… what exactly?” the tan earth pony asked warily.

“Nothing I shouldn’t be able to find out with as much research as I can safely accomplish. She said, and I quote, ‘Learn what our future holds.’ It must be something that can be deduced here in the present for her to phrase it like it was a foregone conclusion.”

The Mayor breathed a sigh of relief. “You had me worried for a moment there Twilight. I hadn’t expected something… reasonable.”

Twilight’s eyes furrowed in a moment of confusion before her expression sprung into one of shock. “Mayor Mare! Surely you didn’t think…!”

“They are carnivores, Ms. Sparkle; they’re not always the reasonable sort,” Mayor Mare countered. Twilight’s ears folded back and she gave the elected official a stern look.

“You know as well as I do their Alphas are reasonable; they didn’t have to show us their agreement with Princess Celestia, but they did.” Twilight paused and chewed her lower lip as she looked around. Seeing there were no other ponies within earshot, she leaned toward the Mayor. “I do have a theory, about why they’re doing this; but no solid proof. What I need is time to do research. If ponies start to panic…” she trailed off and shook her head. “It won’t be good.”

“The very fact you’re researching a way to settle this without bloodshed will be a reassurance in and of itself. Good luck, Twilight, and stay safe.” She rolled up the speech and carried it out to the waiting podium.

“I wish I could promise you that I will,” Twilight whispered to the space Mayor Mare had recently occupied. “But some answers have to come straight from the Diamond Dog’s mouth.”

The citizens of Ponyville were calmly speaking with each other as they left the Town Hall in an orderly fashion once the Mayor had finished her speech. Among the crowd, Rarity’s daily attention to her personal beauty had her shining like a diamond atop a manure pile. Head held high atop strained neck muscles, her eyes scanned back and forth, pausing only briefly on four other ponies. Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Applejack and Rainbow Dash; Twilight, it seemed, was nowhere to be found.

“Rainbow?” she called to the hovering pegasus with a quavering voice, as though she were on the verge of crying. “Can you see Twilight from up there? I haven’t so much as caught a glimpse of her today and I must speak with her about a most urgent matter.”

Rainbow Dash’s head and body whipped around as she checked the crowd below. “She’s not here. Don’t worry though, I’ll find her in ten seconds flat!” With a single, powerful flap of her wings the only thing visible of the cerulean pegasus was her rainbow trail as she zoomed off.

Grinning as her mane and tail flapped wildly behind her, Rainbow Dash whooped in exhilaration while she slalomed around a few puffy clouds. A spot of purple near the Everfree forest brought her to a screeching halt before she pitched over into a steep nose-dive.

“…Don’t leave!” Her ears twitched as the unicorn’s plaintive call entered her hearing range. Concern washed across her face and she fully flared her wings to quickly land.

“Twi! What’re you doing here?! Are you alright?!” she asked as her eyes darted from the clearly marked Dog Boundary sign to her friend, sweeping over her form.

“I’m fine Rainbow! I’m alright!” Twilight was quick to reassure. “I was trying to collect more data about the Diamond Dogs.”

“By yourself?!” Rainbow exclaimed incredulously. “Not cool, Twi. Seriously not cool!”

“They won’t talk to anypony but me. If they even think somepony else is in earshot, they take off; just like Beni just did,” she sighed.

The pegasus choked back a laugh. “B-Beni?!” she blurted. “What kind of a name is ‘Beni’?!”

Twilight shot her snickering friend a very flat look. “Beni is a… somewhat eccentric female with rubies in her collar, an excellent command of Equuish and… very… good… hearing…” she trailed off as understanding dawned across her features. “Rainbow… she heard you before I even knew you were coming! Their auditory senses must be extremely sensitive!”

“Heard me coming?” She stuck out her tongue and did a brief raspberry. “No way. I was cloud level when I saw you. She probably saw my sheer awesomeness and left because she knew I’d have taken her down in ten seconds flat!”

Twilight shook her head at that. “It's not likely she saw you, Rainbow. I’ve noticed their eyes are highly photosensitive.” She saw Rainbow Dash’s baffled look. “It means that bright lights hurt their eyes and they can see in the dark better than we can see during the day. If she heard you at cloud level, then their hearing is better than I thought.” Her eyes took on a thoughtful, faraway look and one could practically see the finely tuned gears in her head spinning.

“Whatever egghead. Come on, Rarity wanted to talk to you about something.” Rainbow lightly slapped Twilight’s nose with her primaries and snapped her out of her daze. “Come on, slowpoke!” she challenged before taking off.

With a final, lingering glance at the sign behind her, Twilight began lightly trotting after Rainbow Dash back towards Ponyville.

The Carousel Boutique was abnormally dark and quiet as Twilight approached the door, so much so that she paused and looked at all the shuttered windows. It looked very unwelcoming and she hesitated as she brought her hoof up to knock.

“It’s open Twilight.” The voice from inside was barely distinguishable as Rarity’s, cracked and broken as it was. Worry replaced the apprehension on Twilight’s features as she opened the door, stepped into the Boutique and closed it behind her, leaving her in utter blackness.

“Rarity?” she queried as she lit her horn and let its light cast the items in the room in sharp relief from the dark. The light also illuminated her friend slumped over her design table and glinted off the tears running down her face. “Are you alright? Why is it so dark in here?”

“I do not wish the world to see the monster I’ve become. A thieving, selfish beast that doesn’t care about the misfortune and misery she forced upon an entire race for the sake of something as petty as fashion!” she spat with a voice filled with self-loathing. “If only I’d known the fate I was forcing on them… all those babies…” Rarity whimpered before she trailed off and fell into a round of heart-wrenching sobs.

Twilight rushed over to her and wrapped Rarity up in a firm hug. This prompted a wail from the fashionista before she whirled and returned the hug with fervour with her face buried into Twilight’s neck. “Shhh… You’re not a monster, or a thief,” she soothed as her hoof stroked Rarity’s back. “You’re a wonderful, generous pony. It’s not your fault. None of this is your fault.”

The two unicorns remained like that for nearly half an hour, Rarity holding on to Twilight as though her very sanity depended on it and keening in anguish while Twilight ran her hoof up and down Rarity’s spine murmuring soft, almost inaudible words of reassurance. When Rarity wound down to the occasional sniffle from her crying jag and released her desperate grip, Twilight gently pulled away and lifted the chin of the forlorn unicorn so their eyes met in the dim glow of her horn. Rarity was a frightful sight with her mane all askew, tear-matted cheeks, runny nose and red, puffy eyes.

“Please, Rarity. Tell me what’s wrong. Are you hurt?”

“Not…” she sniffed. “Not physically, darling,” Rarity admitted as she visibly tried to pull her mental faculties together. “I must look horrendous.” Her statement, while weak, was true; Twilight wisely said nothing and simply looked expectant. Rarity sighed. “It really is my fault you know, all of this. I never thought to ask myself why Diamond Dogs mined gems and until earlier today, even after Princess Celestia’s speech, I didn’t understand. Now I do, and with a horrifying clarity at that.” Her eyes became dull and her voice clearly relayed her emotional exhaustion.

Twilight nodded in a ‘go on’ gesture.

“After completing all five outfits Sapphire Shores ordered, I found my gem supply running low again. So I set out early this morning in the hope I would find a deposit outside their territory. My gem-finding spell led me to the bottom of Ghastly Gorge. However it was already occupied by eight female Diamond Dogs. Naturally, I hid behind a large boulder and it was then I saw they were all carrying bags and busy digging holes. I thought that they were burying gems for later, like what Winona does with bones and toys.”

Rarity’s lip began to quiver as her eyes shone with new tears. “Then… then… Oh Twilight! It was awful!” she wailed as she threw her forelegs around Twilight again. “They weren’t burying gems at all! They were burying a bunch of newborns! And… and… when they were done… I had my epiphany! I understood!” She pulled back her head and stared at Twilight with slightly manic eyes. “Princess Celestia said the gems were like vitamins for Diamond Dogs. All those poor females lost their babies because of me! I kept mining their vitamins without a care in the world, vitamins those infants needed to survive! All so I could sew them onto dresses and sell them! There were thousands of those little graves Twilight! Thousands! Most of them recent in the last year or so!” Rarity was hyperventilating now, the mania that had been in her eyes replaced with panic. “Oh sweet Celestia! I’m a murderer Twilight! A heartless–”


Rarity’s suddenly sopping wet head and mane from Twilight’s water conjuration spell abruptly stilled in the sudden, deafening silence of the darkened boutique.

“You’re not a murderer, you’re hyperventilating!” Twilight snapped as Rarity stared at her incredulously. “Follow my lead. Deep breath in.” She closed her eyes and inhaled. “Hold and release.” The exhale blew a few dangling droplets from Rarity’s mane. The corner of Rarity’s eye twitched and she opened her mouth only to have it covered with a purple hoof. “Inhale through your nose.” The contact seemed to snap the white mare out of her stupor as she rapidly blinked her eyes and removed the hoof from her mouth.

“Twi, darling, I appreciate your attempts to comfort me in my bleakest hour; but I will not, neigh, cannot accept your false platitudes. The facts are–” she didn’t get to finish as Twilight interrupted her.

“Facts, Rarity? I know the facts, and they’re telling me that tensions between the Diamond Dogs and Princess Celestia have been rising for centuries, more likely millennia. What happened between us and them was the pebble that triggered the inevitable avalanche.” Twilight shook her head and moved to the window, chewing her lower lip “I’m still not sure of the exact reason they hate Princess Celestia, but I do know why they’ve trapped us here in Ponyville.”


“This is a strike against the Princess. The Alphas are trying to make her feel what they do: fear, impotence, and despair. Somehow, they’re bound to Equestria and can’t leave until the Princess does something. What, exactly, I don’t know yet,” she sighed. “The Diamond Dogs are going to become extinct soon unless they move on. The worst part is, though, all the adults know it.”

Rarity could only gasp in horror. “No!”

Twilight nodded as she calmly replied. “Yes. And Rarity, you absolutely cannot tell this to anypony. If this information fell into the wrong ears, ponies might think the Diamond Dogs weak and try to rally other ponies to drive them away. If the Diamond Dogs are threatened like that, well, I don’t even want to postulate the outcome.”

“I understand darling, my lips are sealed.”

The silence between them hung heavily as they appeared to be lost in their own thoughts.

Seated at an alabaster desk in a study that glimmered brightly with the rays of the sun beaming through a grand, open window, Princess Celestia seemed buried beneath piles of paperwork. Her expression was bland as parchment slid off the stack on her left, was scanned by her bored eyes before receiving a stamp, then moved to either the pile on her right side or onto a smaller tower resting on a side desk.

Just as a sheaf of parchment joined the shorter stack, there was a knock at the massive oak doors. Visibly relieved for a distraction from the tedium of paperwork, Celestia looked up and softly called, “enter.”

One of the doors opened, showing a guard in full armour. “Princess,” he began, “Gryphon Ambassador Greer wishes to speak with you.”

Celestia’s face lit up in delight. “Thank you Lieutenant, please show him in.”

With a bow, the guard retreated from the opening and was replaced by a slender, dust coloured gryphon with small, round glasses perched on his beak.

“Princess.” He gave a slight bow that acknowledged her station. “King Grailor of the Misty Valley High Aerie has sent his response to your request for an intermediary between yourself and the Gem Dogs.” There was a peculiar note of apprehension in his voice as she reached into his shoulder bag with one hand and withdrew a sealed scroll. Holding it out in front of him, Greer opened his talons and offered the bound missive on his palm.

“You seem nervous, Ambassador Greer.” Celestia idly commented as her magic levitated the scroll to her muzzle, allowing her to inspect the wax imprinted with the seal of the Gryphon Royal Family: a crown floating above a rampant gryphon.

“I know my King, Princess Celestia, and I do not believe his response will be the one you seek.”

“I see,” she responded neutrally as she neatly broke the wax and unfurled the letter.

From the Ebon Throne of King Grailor IV of the Misty Valley High Aerie

Greetings Princess Celestia of Equestria. I write this letter with heavy wings for honour and alliance dictates that I refuse your request for negotiatory assistance between Equestria and the Gem Dog Alphas.

The Alliance between Gryphonia and Equestria is greatly valued and I wish it to remain so through your turbulent skies with the Gem Dog Alphas. Therefore I have instructed Ambassador Greer to disclose any relevant information regarding the Alliance between Gryphonia and the Gem Dog Alphas.

The Ebon Throne of the Misty Valley High Aerie wishes you Fair Winds in your negotiations.

King Grailor IV

Silently, almost ominously, Celestia placed the letter on her desk and gave Greer a measuring look. His leonine tail puffed out and twitched even though his own expression remained neutral.

“Now, Ambassador Greer, let us talk about the Gem Dogs…”

“Sister!” The yell was not quite at the level of the Royal Canterlot Voice, but it was close—close enough to completely overwhelm the sound of the Lunar Princess furiously stomping down the marble hall.

“Luna?” Celestia’s voice queried before the massive doors to her bedchambers opened and her head poked out. Upon sighting her younger sister her eyes widened fractionally as she took in the changed appearance of the Princess of the Night. Luna was taller, darker and possessed her astral mane.

“Sister,” Luna began at a lower volume, but with no less fury than her shout less than a minute before. “Thou hast been withholding thy conflict with the Gem Dogs! They art most incensed with thine egresses of late!” she ranted.

“Please Luna, come inside. The hall is no place to discuss a delicate matter.” Celestia turned back into her room and Luna followed, the door closing behind them and becoming locked with an ominous ‘k-thunk’.

Inside the room, Luna was visibly still fuming but holding her tongue. “I take it you spoke to Bitch-Guard Luella.” It was more a statement than a question, but still received an affirmative nod from Luna. “Yet you are angrier with the thought I’ve done them wrong rather than the fact I didn’t tell you, are you not?”

Fury melted into shock at Celestia’s revelation before it morphed into confusion. “Why… yes…” Luna murmured thoughtfully. “But… why didst thou not inform Us of this conflict? Doth mine opinion not yet bear weight to thee?”

“Oh Lulu.” Celestia sighed. “Of course your opinion matters to me. I just wanted to keep you away from the Dogs; now I understand what a mistake that was.” She looked out to the mid-afternoon sun. “The Dogs are right to call me what they do; they suffer for my selfishness.”

Luna spluttered at that admittance. “They have no right to insult thee so! You are no thief, no killer of the young and certainly not a genocidal tyrant!”

“The definition of thief has not changed since it was coined some millennia before my birth. I am guilty of stealing their most precious treasure three thousand years ago. Had I not, they would have likely left Equestria long ago.”

“Tia!” Luna exclaimed, shocked. “Return this treasure to the Gem Dogs. Surely this conflict will end once you do!”

“It is not that simple Luna, for this treasure has become most precious to me as well.”

“Come now, Tia. ‘Tis only a trinket,” the younger princess cajoled as she approached and stood beside her sister—only to freeze when she saw tears in the elder’s eyes.

“You are no trinket, Luna. You are my sister and once, long ago, a bitch’s only child.”

“What?” One might have thought Luna on the verge of losing her voice had they heard the disbelieving hoarseness of her answer.

Celestia’s head lowered as she closed her shimmering eyes in barely repressed remorse, letting the tears fall gracefully to the floor. “I… I had been wandering for nearly a century, and I was so lonely. When I happened to glance upon you playing with the Dogs and the pups one night, you could not have been more than twenty years old. I told myself that because we were the same, we were meant to be together. But unlike you, I had been raised amongst ponies and I feared the Dogs at an almost instinctual level. So I waited. I waited until the unicorns raised the sun and you went to sleep, then I cast a sleeping spell around the entire area before I went underground. It was easy to locate you even in the dark labyrinth; you were the only one who radiated magic.”

Lifting her head, her still glistening eyes met Luna’s as she continued her confession. “Along the way, I passed many caves with bitches curled protectively around their litter while their mates slept facing the tunnel. It was not anything like I had expected of the Dogs and I had just begun to reconsider my decision before I found your cave. Even though you were a pony, you were curled into the bitch’s stomach as securely as any of the other pups I had seen. I must have stood there for almost ten minutes just looking at you before I picked you up with my magic. Perhaps it was the fact you were being moved in an unfamiliar way or you subconsciously sensed me, but you woke up, and when you saw me you began to yelp and whine, just like one of them. Your cries woke the bitch and upon seeing me she charged.” Celestia released a heavy, burden laden sigh.

“She howled as she chased me through the tunnels, snarling, biting and snapping at my hocks. As soon as I was clear of the tunnel I spread my wings and took off. I did not realize my ascension was slower than my land speed until I felt the pain of her jaws clamp around my leg and break the bone. I wildly kicked my legs until my uninjured hoof slammed into her stomach and forced her to let go…” She flinched before visibly forcing herself to finish the sentence. “…from almost cloud level. I will never forget the sound of her body striking the ground, nor the sight of a thousand pairs of eyes glowering hatefully at me.”

“Tia…” Luna’s voice trailed off momentarily and her ears flattened before she spoke again. “I remember none of this…”

Celestia shook her head. “You would not. After I stole you, I tried to teach you how to speak, how to interact with other ponies, but you fought me at every turn. Every night for nearly a month, if you were not howling for the Dogs to find you, you were attempting to either sneak away or outright kill me. I quickly became impatient and frustrated and one night, while we fought, you managed to get your teeth around my throat. I panicked and instinctually lashed out with magic; the bolt struck you and you… changed. It erased everything and you were suddenly like a newborn, you could not stand, could not walk, could not feed yourself. You were changed physically too, your coat and mane became lighter and you lost nearly a hoof in height.”

Ears still flat and eyes now wide with shock, Luna took an uncertain step back.

“Luna, please…” Celestia quietly beseeched and took a step forward. It was the wrong thing to do. Hooves began skittering on the polished marble floor as Luna bolted for the balcony with wings half spread. “Luna!” her sister called as she burst out the fragile balcony door. “LUNA!

The younger Princess paid no heed to Celestia’s Royal Canterlot Voice as she launched herself off the balcony with wings spread and horn aglow as the moon peeked over the eastern horizon.

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