• Published 28th Mar 2013
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The Code's Apprentice - Lapis-Lazuli and Stitch



For a thousand years, the Code of Harmony has ruled Equestria, and the Code of Dissonance has sabotaged its works at every turn. Now the war for control over the land will come to a head, and one unicorn's decision may decide the fate of all.

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Chapter 27 - The Report

"Article 17 - In the event of a Monarch or Monarchs of Equestria engage in activity which is either detrimental to, or in direct violation of the established Laws, Codes and Regulations of Equestria - Including, but not limited to accepted military doctrine, the safety of Equestrian citizens in times of peace or war, and/or actions which directly violate or endanger the stability of the Equestrian crown. Then the designated On-Site commander of any military operation may immediately call the operation under investigation. Should all senior military commanders on site, excepting those who are designated as Monarchs, agree with this proposal; Then all haste shall immediately be taken to suspend military operations until such time as a hearing can be conducted on the subject of the Monarch's actions." - Equestrian Military Code of Justice.

~~~~~~~~~Aboard the H.M.S. Commander Hurricane ~~~~~~~

Celestia quietly waited around the corner, not too far from the meeting room. She sighed and gently stroked at her pink mane - a color she'd not seen it as in countless centuries - and waited patiently. Minutes later, Luna and Twilight left the meeting room, hoof in hoof and wandered laughing down the hallways of the cloud fortress together. Celestia smiled faintly, and continued to wait.

More minutes passed, and then Commander Spitfire arrived with two uniformed Pegasus guards next to her. "Alright." Spitfire said gently. "Let's go." She gestured and Celestia stood up in a single graceful move. Soon, all four of them were walking silently down the halls, deeper into the ship. No words were spoken, Spitfire had on her best hard-ass military commander face and it wasn't budging an inch.

They walked this way for nearly ten minutes, before arriving in the deepest part of the ship - the brig. The guards left the two of them to walk into the silent and empty chambers, fitted with a set of six cells. None of them were cleared to hold Alicorns. Unicorns, sure. The bars had been tempered with silver and inlaid with magic-cancelling runes. But there was no way in hell they'd hold an Alicorn.

Spitfire grabbed one of the bare, basic wooden chairs and sat it down. "Sit." She commanded, as she grabbed a second chair for herself, and a clipboard. "Lemmie make myself perfectly clear." Spitfire slowly began, as Celestia sat on the chair as regally as she could. "Right now, I am following the absolute letter of the law. I invoked an Article 17. The Admiral agreed with my assessment. There were no other senior officers on site to object. If you have a problem with any of this, now might be the time to say something.."

Celestia tilted her head and shook it once. "No, Commander. I have no problem with any of your assertions thus far." Celestia had a serious, serene look on her face and Spitfire clenched her jaw a little. "Please, continue."

Spitfire nodded once, and then snapped a hoof. Moments later, a uniformed unicorn officer walked in and dropped a massive stack of folders, full of paper, and bound together with several thick strands of purple ribbon. "This." Pointed Spitfire. "Is Prince Armor's full report to the Admiralty and Equestrian High Command. It contains interviews of everypony directly involved, with the exception of Sombra and Chrysalis, in the events of the last two weeks." Spitfire paused, pulling off her flight glasses. "You wanna know what it says?"

Celestia inclined her head once again, and Spitfire slowly began to talk - heat burning out of her voice. "You deliberately misled Equestrian Intelligence. You deliberately hid your knowledge of opposing forces during a military briefing. You plotted and then carried out plans to engage in your own suicide." Spitfire paused, glaring daggers at the eternally serene Celestia. "You endangered a vital piece of Equestrian Military hardware. You put an admiral, and his entire command staff in jeopardy. You did the same thing to First Air WIng. You gave orders which lead to the deaths of more than two thousand highly trained soldiers, mages and technicians for little to no tactical gain. Said orders allowed two - Not one, Celestia but two black level threats to escape custody and capture."

Spitfire flung her chair around her and slammed her hooves into the chair Celestia was sitting in, the Alicorn's eyes going wide. Spitfire's voice was practically grating through her lips, her teeth grinding. "You attacked a monarch of a foreign land on Equestrian Soil! What's more you attacked a monarch of Equestria on Equestrian soil! And last, and by far the worst of all, you engaged in magical activity that has caused Millions of bits in damage, and jeopardized an entire town's worth of Equestrian citizen's lives!"

Celestia actually flinched at that last assertion, her serenity cracking for a moment. Spitfire glared for a few silent moments before grabbing her chair from the ground and putting it upright. "Do you deny any of these charges?" She asked quietly. In what had to have been the quietest voice Celestia had ever heard the commander use.

Celestia could only quietly reply. "No. I do not." Spitfire stared at her, evidently expecting another response. Celestia smiled, feeling the sadness well up inside of her chest. "Commander, those reports have given you the truth. I did do all of those things."

Spitfire slumped back into the chair, running a hoof over her face like she had a headache. "Princess, when you offered me the head spot of EIS after the changeling invasion, I gotta be honest. I thought you were nuts." Spitfire stabbed a hoof at Celestia. "But I took it, because you were right at the time. There wasn't anypony else with the connections, the discipline, or the courage to take it on. So I did. And I did a damn fine job."

Celestia nodded, that damnable smile never leaving her face. "You did, Commander. Even Silent Service would have been proud of you." Celestia shook her head slightly. "The brave soul. May he rest in peace."

Spitfire shook her head firmly, and went back to glaring. "Give me something here, Celestia. I want an excuse to cover this up." She pointed her hoof at the report, her speech rough. "I need an excuse to wrap this whole bucking thing in black ribbon and ship it off to Stalliongrad. We can rebuild Ponyville. We can replace the lost guards, the lost unicorns. We can pay off the families, pay off the townsfolk, pay off all the soldiers. But I can't do that, I can't justify doing that unless you can give me a reason to do it."

Celestia looked on in quiet serenity, and Spitfire snarled - slamming her hoof into the report. "Damnit, why aren't you even trying to defend yourself!?" Spitfire... well, spat out. "I'm staring down a firing squad in the shape of a purple Alicorn with enough power to wipe us all out!"

Celestia looked shocked at that one, and she sat up straighter. "Twilight would do no such thing. I know she wouldn't." Celestia spoke firmly, far more animated than she had been over the last few days.

Spitfire rolled her eyes. "You don't get it, do you? You're her mother. Twilight spent two days in a magically induced coma, and the only words we got out of her were two names. Yours, and Luna's. She's been through Tartarus and back again. She finally thinks everyone she loves is safe, and now you're going to force me to call a military tribunal down on your head?" Spitfire growled, leaning forward. "You realize you won’t get out of it alive. Too many ponies have gotten hurt, too much damage has been done, and too many laws have been broken. They will execute you Celestia, and I can't say I'd disagree with them for doing it!"

Celestia flinched away again, turning her head to stare at the stone floors of the brig. "Then why are you doing this, Spitfire?" Celestia whispered softly. "I am not innocent of those crimes. I admit it. I am prepared to face judgment." She swallowed softly. "I should face judgment."

Spitfire felt some of the anger melt out of her, and sighed softly. "Because a filly who is entirely not ready for this just took over the throne. Because I know that kind of person, Celestia. She was willing to go toe to toe with you because she disagreed with the law and she loves you.. You think she'll hesitate at tearing the entire military apart if it means saving your life?" Spitfire stood up and trotted across the room, grabbing Celestia's chin, and turning her head towards Spitfires.

Celestia stared into those red eyes, and Spitfire glared back. "You bucked up. You know it, I know it, Shiny knows it. So as I see it, you've got two options. You can take the coward’s way out, and I'll send you to the headsman so you can die for your guilt." Celestia's mouth worked silently, as Spitfire turned around and walked back over to her chair. "Or you can spend the rest of that eternal life of yours serving Equestria and doing everything you can to repay that guilt."

Spitfire grabbed her flight glasses and pushed them on. "Choice is yours, Princess."

~~~~~~

Shining Armor sank into the giant puffy chair with a sigh of relief, the last of the thick black armor clattering into the corner on the glow of Cadence's magic. Shining had to admit, it was good to finally let his guard down. And to spend some time with Cadence, as opposed to those freaky friends of Twilight. That was probably going to be an awkward conversation later, but Shining figured it could slide for now.

Cadence hopped up into the massive 'love seat' and curled up around Shining, wrapping her forelegs around his neck and kissing his cheek gently. "I'm so glad you're safe, Shiny." she whispered, all sleek and rubbing up against him. Shining sometimes wondered how he got so damn lucky with Cadence. Cuz Celestia's a manipulative witch. Shining snorted silently. And I don't give a buck, because she's so freaking wonderful.

Cadence paused and smiled slyly, parking herself in Shining's Lap and just cuddling around him. Shiny was completely okay with this, and he hugged her right back, nuzzling his cheek against hers with a sigh. “Cadence, I should have listened to you a long time ago about Twilight." Well if there was ever a time for admitting he'd bucked up, now was pretty much it.

Cadence rolled her eyes and gently smacked him with her hoof. "Yes, you should have. Perhaps then none of this would have happened." She sighed gustily. "I should have stood up to Celestia sooner." her voice was more than a little depressed, and Shining quickly came to the rescue with a firm kiss on his Wife's lips, her eyes going wide with shock.

A moment later, Shiny pulled away with a head shake. "We couldn't have predicted all of this, Cadence. At least something good did some out of it." Shiny smiled, brightly. "We've got balance in the world now. Right?"

Cadence smiled sadly. "A drop in the bucket dear heart. It will take a lot more than a single action to turn the tides of a thousand years of abuse." She shook her head slowly. "That will take enacting a very large percentage of laws that will be very unpopular with the common folks."

Shiny frowned, but he hugged Cadence closer to him anyway. "Like what? Not that I want to put you off your mood but.." Cadence chuckled at his worried voice, and Shiny smiled. "Yeah yeah, I know. If we get the work out of the way now we can have more fun later."

Cadence beamed at him proudly, and Shiny had to admit that smile felt a lot more powerful than it had before. By the Silver Crown of Unicornia, I am not even gonna think about the sex right now. Cadence was obviously thinking about other things too, nibbling her lower lip in worry. "Well for one, I know Twilight is going to insist upon lifting the racial restriction laws. All of them, most likely." She sighed gustily. "Not that I don't agree in principal, but that's going to cause all sorts of trouble with local authorities. Especially when they figure out that 'every creature' includes changelings too."

Shining Armor frowned a little. "Yeah, I guess that might be a bit of a sore spot." Especially in Canterlot. He winced slightly. "Make that a big sore spot." Shiny shook his head slowly. "That's not even counting the Dissonance worshipers. We're going to have to completely dismantle the Solar Inquisition."

Cadence nodded somberly. "Among most of the other witch-hunting organizations. At least the ones who don't agree to stay away from the Dissonant temples. Luna was already talking about reconstruction of the Temple of the Moon in Canterlot. And in every other major city and town in Equestria." Cadence rested her hoof against her forehead. "I swear to the Ancestors, Shiny. They're all trying to murder me in my first week!"

Shiny laughed at that one, and gently pulled her hoof down. "Oh quit being a drama queen, Cadey. Look, we both know these things are going to be necessary, right?" Cadence sighed and nodded slowly. "Then we'll see if we can't convince them to take it a little slower. I know Twily will listen to us if we explain the situation." he paused. "I don't think we'll be able to slow down the race laws. She's going to be absolutely adamant about that. She'll be adamant about removing restrictions on Dissonant worship too. Let's start with those two reforms, and work our way up to temples and the like."

Cadence smiled softly. "Shiny... She's still your little sister to you, isn't she?" Cadence smiled warmly, hugging him tightly to her.

Shiny nodded and sighed. "Weird as it is, yeah. And she always will be." Cadence nodded with understanding, and then pressed a hoof to his mouth.

"Hush, Shiny. No more talk for now. We'll save the realm single hoofedly later. Right now, I need you." Cadence purred out, her horn glowing gently and snuffing out the light in the room.

~~~~~~~~

The soft exhale of breath. The gentle sigh, the feeling of purple fuzz upon blue. The richness of the kiss and the soft sweet scent of love. The squeeze, the tug, the pull and the nuzzling of cheeks. And then, the taste of blood, as sweet and rich as life itself flowing past her lips.

Twilight's eyes shot open, as she stared down at Luna's limp form in her arms. Luna's eyes were fluttering softly and her breathing heavy and sated. Twilight's tongue snaked out to catch the last drops of crimson and she shivered softly at the taste. By Dissonance, what happened to me? Twilight's mind whispered softly Luna's eyes opened fully a moment later, and she smiled in that way that told Twilight's she'd been up to something again.

Luna pressed a hoof to Twilight's lips and whispered. "Do not think. Do not even begin to start piling logic and blame upon this. I told you that you would change, Twilight." Twilight nodded absently, now painfully aware of the full and strong heartbeat of the mare beneath her hooves.

They had been going to the kitchen to get a meal. Twilight had been absolutely starving for a meal, all of the effort and energy she'd poured into raising the moon had compounded on two days of no real food. And there Luna had been, her Acolyte. Sweet, faithful Luna who had seen her through so much trauma and pain and heartache.

Twilight had felt the urge coming over her. She hadn't even known what it was, only that it felt like hunger but deeper. It had been a feral urge that struck upon her logical mind, overwhelming it with a desire to feed. Luna had resisted a little at first, but that had only driven the need. The rest...

Twilight felt herself shiver at the dark memories. Pushing Luna into the dark room and pinning her to some unknown pegasus' desk. Holding her down with a strength Twilight didn't even know she had and just... taking from her. No questions, no loving words or sweet caresses. Not until fang had punctured flesh and drawn out lifeblood.

Twilight felt her breathing beginning to become erratic, and then Luna gently touched her cheek. It was like an electric shock passed between them, and all of her panic slowly drained away. How does she do that to me? She just... looks at me with those eyes, and I can't seem to not calm down. Twilight knew it was some kind of magic, some Dissonant spell. Twilight also really didn't much care, seeing as how she was no longer about to go off on a massive freak-out. You control the bloody MOON now, Twilight. Your freak-outs could have much, much bigger consequences if you're not careful.

Luna giggled softly. "That's better. I think you realize the seriousness now." She sighed gently, her hoof trailing down Twilight's chest. "Not that I'm going to complain. It has been a very long time since someone Moon kissed me quite like that." Luna's eyes sparkled at Twilight.

Twilight blinked at her. "Moon kissed?" She licked her fang again, and they seemed... less sharp. Less intimidating. She was also no longer hungry. Well, that's certainly a small favor. She thought wryly.

Luna chuckled. "Vamponies, dear. They call it the Moon's Kiss, in honor of the night which they live in." She winked again and gently kissed Twilight - in a very normal, romantic way - before poking her chest. "Now let me up. You may be able to live off blood now, but I still need regular food. You ought to have something as well."

Twilight did let her up off the desk, and Luna wobbled a bit before briskly walking out of the room. Twilight paused, wondering whose desk they'd left in such disarray - and hoped it hadn't been anypony important. She followed Luna carefully, but moving faster than she had some hours before. It was like she'd been completely revitalized by that snack. Then her thoughts caught up to her mind, and she shivered at the idea of thinking of anypony as a walking snack machine.

Luna was waiting outside the office as Twilight carefully closed the door. "So. A few things. First, you are unlikely to have any of the problems the Vampony race has during the daytime." She turned and started walking down the hallway. "Except that you will likely need to feed more often than they. Do not let it linger too long, Mistress - else the need may overcome you as it just did there." Luna's eyes sparkled with a sinister warning. "And not everypony is as strong as I to resist the call of the Vampony's blood."

Twilight was left standing there, her head dipped low as Luna began to move away from her. Luna stopped in mid step and turned around, staring in disbelief. "Luna." Whispered Twilight, staring into the ground. "Just... how much more am I going to change?"

Luna halted her scathing reply before it could escape her lips, and slowly began to walk over to Twilight. She had to tread very, very carefully here. "Twilight, I cannot tell you that." She spoke gently, wondering if she should try that emotional drain spell again.

Twilight shied away from Luna's hooves, still speaking softly. "I'm already turning into some kind of monster, Luna. You're telling me I could become like Chrysalis or Sombra?" That very thought seemed to horrify Twilight, and Luna clamped down again on her scathing words.

Luna sighed instead. No child. You will never become like them, unless you do it to yourself. She thought, and put a lid on those thoughts. The last thing anypony here needed was Twilight trying to do self-modification magic. She might very well make her problems even worse without even intending to.

Luna slowly built up what she would say in her head, double checking for things that might upset Twilight. Nodding, she continued to speak. "No, Twilight. You are not as they are, and you never will be." She trotted over to Twilight, and pressed her hoof into Twilight's own. "Because I will make certain of it. And so will your brother. And your sister. And your mother too, come to that." Her eyes seemed to glow at Twilight. "You see? You have something they will never have. A loving family."

Twilight blinked and then smiled tremulously. Luna mentally hoofpumped. Now, to get her less worried about the blood. "And besides..." Luna continued on in her most saucy voice. "I happened to enjoy that little...escapade." she licked her lips boldly. That was not even a fib, the Moon's Kiss was a delicious feeling all its own. She simply did not need Twilight going around creating thralls with it.

Twilight blushed and nudged her head towards the kitchen. "Maybe we ought to eat someone - thing! Something!" She blushed and laughed softly. "Oh by Celestia, I'm hopeless." Twilight was breaking down alright - but it was in laughter, not panic.

Luna exhaled in relief. Twilight was still far, far too young for this responsibility. Yet what could they do? Twilight lacked the knowledge, the centuries of experience and skill to perform the Transference ritual. Besides, there being no guarantee she could survive it. Luna knew that all she could do was try to keep the young one steady and strong emotionally. Ancestors, it was less work raising and lowering the moon every night! She snorted softly.

Luna and Twilight entered the kitchen not too long after, and began to scrounge up a late night snack for the both of them. And given the squeals that followed, perhaps one or two other things.

~~~~~~

Admiral Fire Drake adjusted his hat and stared out into the gorgeous night. The sounds of hoofsteps behind him were familiar, and the cadence of them told him they were weary and tired. "Long coupla days, eh kid?" He spoke quietly as Spitfire leaned up against the railing with him, rubbing at her eyes with a sigh.

Spitfire shook her head. "She said she's gonna think about it." There was no emotion, no heat in her voice. "She's on a serious self-guilt trip, pops. You think you could talk some sense into her?" Spitfire seemed ready to fall asleep, but her words and voice were sharp as ever.

The Admiral shook his head slowly. "Nay. I don't think I'm the one to talk her out of it, kid. I think you'd better rope in young Twilight." Spitfire turned to stare at him incredulously, and he grinned, lifting an old curved pipe up to his lips and clamping down on it, more out of habit than anything. "Hear me out. I know yer worried she'll pop a gasket over this, but I think that'll just make her more determined to talk Celestia down from the edge."

Spitfire blinked once in confusion, but gestured for her father to keep talking. So he did. "I ain't met the girl, but she's got a rep. When she thinks somethin' really bad's about ta happen to someone she loves, she's prolly more dangerous than Cadence is." He paused and scowled "Or am I s'posed to call her Queen Cadence now? I can’t keep this damnfool politicking straight, I Tellsya."

Spitfire stifled a tired giggle and shook her head. "Maybe you're right, pops." She turned back out to gaze at the stars, eyes obviously fighting to stay awake.

The Admiral sighed and patted Spitfires shoulder. "Go get some sleep kid. Gonna be another big day t'morrow."