Mutants

by jamlamin

First published

A Celestia/Luna Story

What if Celuna were genetic flares, mutants that only were important because of Discord?

What if there were actually troubles in the newly-formed Equestria, with racism still very much prevalent, when an old Star Swirl the Bearded was traveling around, performing for orphanages, when he stumbled across two fillies that were isolated from all the others? Raised them as his daughters? Developed all those forms of magic because he was teaching the two girls, who had more magic than anypony else, to control theirs?

I thought of the cider thing before the Cider Squeezy 6K episode, I promise.
Art is from here, used without permission (I'll get right on that, though).

In Which a Device Is Framed

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It had seemed like a very inconspicuous day. Twilight Sparkle, being the thorough and organized pony she was, decided to create a new way for organizing the books in the Ponyville Library. If this works well enough, she giddily thought to herself, maybe the Royal Library in Canterlot can adopt it, too! Speaking of Canterlot, where are those books I owe back there?

She had acquired a lot of books from the Royal Library; the librarians there had no time or borrow limit, knowing ponies from all over Equestria would come to borrow books for various projects and research. In fact, the only rules were that you had to contribute to the library for each book beyond the first; and keep a current address on file, as they may send ponies your way if they're looking for a particular book that is checked out under your name. The books' checkout cards were enchanted such that when they changed possession, the ledger in the library would be updated, along with the date of transfer.

Twilight, however, had long since finished with her books on Star Swirl the Bearded. All but one, that is: a contemporary biography on him, written by his two daughters, Sun Swirl and Moon Swirl. She had scheduled it for the day of the Smartypants Doll Incident, but had been so wrapped up in the stress of the day that she completely forgot about it. She had wanted to get Star Swirl's mannerisms down to a tee, for her costume to be perfect, and to pay homage to one of Equestria's greatest magic researchers of history. He had quickly become one of her motivational heroes the last year of study in magical college, after she learned that he single-hoofedly created or refined a vast majority of the spells they were taught in school (which she, being Twilight Sparkle, figured out to be 1217 out of 1375, or 88.51%, give or take a few decimals).

Twilight always scheduled a free day, but she usually used that day, today, to get any organization and reading she missed because of unexpected changes in her schedule done. She preferred it that way; free time during scheduled days was often enough that she wouldn't get burned out, but scarce enough that she didn't feel it was cheating to spend it with friends. However, these days were her alone time; now that Spike had somepony that he had a crush on, it was a hay of a lot easier to get him to be gone all day. She had used to be forced to make up lists of menial tasks for him in Canterlot; now, she'd just lend him to Rarity for the day.

Throughout all this thinking on how things were now, she had gotten all the books organized by the new system without consciously focusing on doing so. Now the only things left to do are post notifications detailing the new system and catch up on my reading. I'd suppose I should start on the Canterlot books first; it'll give me a good excuse to request an audience with both Princesses Celestia and Luna. Like I really need one, she added with a smug grin. Yes, being the favorite student of the ruler of the entire kingdom had its perks. Where did Spike put that cider mix?


With a fresh cup of instant apple cider, Twilight snuggled herself into the comfy pillow she left by the now-roaring fireplace. The stuff Applejack made last year, while made with the best intentions, and had nearly all the alcohol removed, had still been too strong for the lavender pony, and so, not wanting to hurt her friend, she had had box of instant cider discreetly shipped to her from Canterlot, letting Spike drink Applejack's home-brew concoction.

The book she had chosen first was Star Swirl's biography, entitled A Bright Star: The Life and Times of Star Swirl, from Those Who Knew Him Best, Unabridged First Edition. Twilight rolled her eyes. The title was a bit heavy-hoofed, but it was probably the publisher that decided to give it that subtitle. She activated her horn, hoping to Celestia the innards of the book weren't as bad as the cover.

What she found, past the front matter, was that the book itself was written in Old Equestrian, although there were clearly Germaneic influences. So Star Swirl was alive around the time Germaney and Equestria were forming alliances, she pondered, twelve years of history lessons suddenly coming to life. After this, she decided to look a bit more into world history, as well as etymology; there were letters she'd never even seen before, which fascinated her.

Hwær Stihtung wæs wunaþ, Hé scán gelíc ein Sæsteorra tō Ūs.

Tō Ūre Æce Fæder.

Just the dedication was a challenge. Thankfully, she had prepared a spell for such an occasion, though she had only used it for Modern Griffin to Equestrian. She had no idea whether or not it would work, but at least the spell wasn't harmful to the literature at all, as all it did was enabled one's eyes read the words in a language you could yourself process. Concentrating even harder, she formed the incantation's words in her mind. A flash of light later, and the dedication page was a lot easier on her mind.

Where Providence was wont, He shone like a Star, guiding Us.

To our Eternal Daddy.

Twilight smiled; after reading that, it didn't matter if the book came off as sappy. It was written by Daddy's Little Girls, after all. She gleefully turned the page and took a sip of cider. This was going to be interesting, after all.

This book held a lot of discrepancies between Star Swirl's life and what "history" books had to say about it. First off, he was not born on the day that became the Summer Sun Celebration, but around it. To a lower-middle-class family, at that! He didn't even attend primary school, as his family was too poor to actually afford it, yet too rich for the Unicorn government to actually sponsor him. Star Swirl wanted to be a traveling performer, and actually got his cutie mark stargazing while trying to come up with new material for his act. As for his daughters, they were orphans. He found them in his travels, after having been on the road for twenty years, and accumulating enough money that he could afford to put on charity shows whenever he stopped by a place with an orphanage. "Swirling Comet," as his stage name went, especially liked visiting unicorn orphanages; he'd show the foals some simple magic tricks after the show. They'd all get a kick out of it.

We found one of Dad's old journals after he passed, the book stated in an aside. He said he never would forget the day he met us, just like we him. You wouldn't believe the amount of shock My sister and I had when, a few days later, he showed up, said he was retiring, and wanted to adopt two fillies. But Dad was like that: once he set his mind on something, he stuck to it. It took him three months to convince the headmistress that his intentions were good; he actually had all his things moved from the countryside cottage to a flat. After that, when he finally got a chance to state that he wanted us, of all the fillies in the orphanage, the mistress told him no. All in all, it took about a year for us, the freaks that got teased by everypony, to finally be released into his custody. Lulu was with Dad when he passed, and told me his final words were "You two were definitely worth it."

Twilight was only halfway through the book, but that aside had forced her to stop. She went to sip some more cider–then heard the mug hit the ground as it clicked in her mind. Lulu? Isn't that a nickname Princess Celestia reserves for–her mind refused to let her finish that thought. Impossible, nopony considers them freaks. Twilight then remembers the time frame: Star Swirl had been alive during the founding of Equestria! He had worked as the advisor to Princess Platinum for about ten years, until she released him on (fairly) good terms, according to the literature in front of her.

Now she knew what she had to do–it was going to eat her alive otherwise. She pulled out a quill and started on the most important letter not directly related to her studies she had ever written to Celestia.

Dear Princess Celestia,

I am writing you because of a–let's call it a discrepancy–in my studies. Princess Luna once remarked on my Night Mare Night costume for its accuracy toward Star Swirl the Bearded. I found a book written in Old Equestrian (with some Germaneic influences, but this letter is not about the book's etymology), and, after I casted a translation spell, it says that Star Swirl had two daughters, Sun Swirl and Moon Swirl. Do you know of any books on them? I'd like to know more about them.

Your faithful student,




Twilight Sparkle

There, Twilight thought to herself. That should be nonchalant enough to not send up any red flags in case my hunch is wrong, if they were in fact traitors or something. She then decided it was time to find Owloyscious, as she couldn't wait for the morning. Rolling the letter up, she placed the scroll in the firm, steady beak and pet the owl before he departed. She watched until she could no longer see him, then returned to the book. She then proceeded to read for another hour before deciding she was too tired to continue.

Twilight begrudgingly crawled into bed, disappointed that she didn't receive an answer. She was confident, though, that the princess would have one for her in the morning. Her last thought as she drifted off to sleep was that she would have one interesting memoir when her turn came to write one. Maybe I can get Princess Luna to be my biographer.


"Oh, dear me," Celestia said to nopony in particular. She had been awakened by the soft flutter of owl wings as Owloyscious had flown over her bed to set the letter on her night stand. The letter seemed, on the surface, to be not urgent at all–which had been a red flag for Celestia from the time she read it. As much as she loved her student, even she had to admit Twilight could be overly dramatic at times. Still, she usually knew how to use that adrenaline properly. If you discount the whole Tardy Incident, that is.

It was the content of the letter that had elicited the utterance from Celestia, however; two names that she had forgotten long ago, with memories locked away even longer. She felt hotness on her cheeks and knew that she was crying. Crying? I forgot I could even do that, Celestia mused bitterly. She quickly cleared her eyes and got up. It was time to find her sister; after all, she had just as much a hoof in telling the story as Sun Swirl did. The names that were all but forgotten; they feel good to say, even if just to myself.

"Luna! Might I interrupt Night Court for a moment? My student has found some urgent discrepancy regarding Star Swirl the Bearded."

"Celestia! You'd dare to interrupt this year's nightlife service tax codes being ratified for some history lesson?"

"It concerns Sun Swirl and Moon Swirl!"

"Oh, dear me. Night Court is now in recess for an hour! Please, everypony, this is a pressing matter indeed."

As the large throne room emptied for the hour, Moon Swirl–No! My name is Luna now–looked over at her sister with dread. Just how much does Twilight Sparkle know? Does she know how our–how Star Swirl died? Celestia gave nothing away, as usual.

When only the Moon and the Sun remained, save some of their most trusted guards, Luna started sobbing softly. Celestia, ever the big sister, put a wing over her shoulder to comfort her and unraveled the letter, allowing Luna to read it. After doing so, she returned the scroll to its rightful place with a teleporting pop–on her private, hidden bookshelf in a location in the royal library that only a unicorn could find, but only a pegasus could reach. Still, if any more like she and her sister were born, they'd teach them about the location.

Upon reading the letter, Luna relaxed a little bit, though she was still concerned. While it maintained Twilight's cordial, almost formal tone of writing, it still seemed. . .off. It was as though Twilight was scared of something and was purposely trying to cover it up. Tia might not see it as readily as I or anypony else of the night would, though. For now, however, I'll play along.

Only one thing was certain: the crimes of the past were being brought from the shadows into the light. Will we be able to handle it, though? Luna somberly thought as the remainder of the hour wound down and Celestia had left her to herself. She had suggested they bring Twilight in, and, albeit warily, Luna agreed, as it was the best way to get the whole story out. So Day Court was to be canceled and Twilight transported directly to Celestia's chamber so the three of them could talk uninterrupted. And she was to bring that book. The truth that everypony had forgotten about, the same truth of which the Hearth's Warming Eve pageant so desperately tried to remind them.

We Do What We Must Because We Can

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Twilight Sparkle had been very eager to get started following her hunch. So it wasn't a surprise when the princesses invited her to the castle. The surprise, however, lay in the fact that they were so secretive about it: everything was obscured in shadows. From what looked like Celestia's shopping list fading to the real note about three minutes after Spike belched it out, to the strict order to tell nopony, not even Spike about the contents or her destination. This was, of course, encoded with the keyword from the shopping list banana, such that to anypony else trying to read it, it looked like gibberish. Even the way Twilight was to travel was secretive: Two Night Guards were going to show up tomorrow morning at exactly 5:37 AM, knock twice, and only twice, then depart one minute later, with or without Twilight in tow.

The whole thing made Twilight nervous, real nervous; stumbling into a Level 7 security clearance area nervous. She knew that while she was Celestia's favorite, that can only get you so far with the safety of the nation at stake. She didn't want to die just yet. No story was worth chasing for that to happen.

So she was completely bewildered when she found, at 5:48 AM the next day, she was in the air, en route to Canterlot, on Luna's private chariot, no less. The cool rushing air had awakened her, both from the physical component and the haze that had been her dread. Now that she was thinking clearly, she reviewed the facts from both the book and history class. First and foremost, it had always bothered her that the Hearth's Warming Eve pageant seemed vague in time frame, but she had always assumed that that was just because the message was the important part, not the details.

That said, she was suddenly curious why she herself hadn't scrutinized over the details before; it would have been easy enough to do, after all. Oh, well, she decidedly thought. At least I'll be able to ask the princesses about it, after the whole "Sun Swirl" and "Moon Swirl" thing, that is.

It was just after sunrise when they approached the normal dock for Canterlot Castle. The night guards picked Dock Eight and gave a yawn before starting their approach. Twilight didn't think anything about it, until they were decidedly not slowing down. As soon as she was certain of this, Twilight's mind went into panic mode, adrenaline making everything seem to slow down. She wanted to cry. So this is how it ends? Crashing into a dock on my way to the princesses? I bet they didn't even put this flight in record, so it'll look like an unsanctioned flight, too; the night guards were obviously fatigued and unfit to fly such an arduous journey–it's the perfect way to kill somepony who knew too much. Oh, there's the ground; I can't watch!

The impact never came, though. Instead, a strange sound rang on the ground in front of them, and when she ventured to open her eyes, she saw black nothingness ahead. Craning her neck toward the last source of light she was certain she'd ever see, she was startled when the bright red-orange ring around it suddenly vanished, leaving her and her flight crew in abyss.

As they leveled out, lights came on overhead with large metallic sounds. Twilight marveled at the sights that came with them: things she had never seen before; things the likes of which Pinkie Pie had only described. Suddenly, Pinkie didn't seem so crazy when, right in front of her face, were things Twilight would only describe as indescribable. There were things she thought forbidden being practiced here, such as necromancy and transmutation on live ponies. Things that, she knew, were to never see the light of day. There were technological marvels, stuff she theorized should be pony lifetimes away, being treated as though they were fifty-year-old technology, strewn about as though they were commonplace and ubiquitous around here.

Maybe they were, for all she knew.


At the end of the makeshift runway they found themselves on, Twilight noted there were two high-backed chairs facing away, one light, one dark. However, the Sun was on the dark one and the Moon the light one. The chairs also had two halves of a strange black-and-white circle, with a swirling, teardrop-like pattern contained therein. On the chair with the Moon, the black half was present; the Sun chair held the white half.

Upon reaching their destination, the two guards unhooked themselves from the chariot. They got no further than five paces away when that red ring opened up beneath them. This time, however, was different. There were flames shooting up from the ring. To Twilight, it looked like the very definition of Hell. The pegasi hadn't had time to react as their wings caught on fire. They whinnied in primal, abject fear, but the ring only increased in size in response. One more terrified look in their eyes, then they and the red ring were gone.

Twilight sat there, stunned. Just what had she gotten herself into? It was too late to turn back now; that much was certain. She wanted to, though. She wanted to run home and cry, now more than ever. She'd just sat by while two ponies were murdered. For her sake. She felt worse than if she had actually done the deed herself. All she could do, though, was look at those otherworldly chairs.

"You're 4.4 kilometers below ground, you should know. That game, Portal 2, all over the Ponynet? VALVe is run by operatives from here," an all-too-familiar voice stated, albeit without her usual warm, instructional, or motherly tones. Celestia continued, "We allowed them to release some of the technology early in a sci-fi fantasy setting. Still, the tech displayed in the game won't be available to the military for some two hundred years, so don't expect to go pick up a portal spell tome any time soon."

"Princess Celestia?" Twilight asked with a little more shock in her voice than she anticipated.

"And yet," the seemingly radically changed princess continued, as though she hadn't heard her favorite student at all, "none of this compares to the biggest secret of all of Equestria. The only Level 10 secret we have. The secret you uncovered." She and Luna turned around.

Twilight had to catch her gasp. The princesses were still princess sized, but gone were their pristine coats and blemish-less complexions. Replacing them were battle scars of various sizes, lazy eyes, and missing chunks of flesh that had been poorly hidden by bad comb-overs. What made it all the more unsettling is that their manes were the exact same as when they had their respective illusory spells applied.

"For you, Dearest Twilight, are the first pony to see us like this in over four hundred years. And, might I add, if you want to be the first to keep breathing in eight hundred, I suggest you tell us everything you know about Sun Swirl and Moon Swirl. Now."

For the Good of All of Us

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Twilight Sparkle just sat there, stunned. Her head spun and swam until she was dizzy. This was decidedly not the princess she knew. This--faker had to be one of the princess' famed practical jokes. There was no other explanation for the princess acting so--cold. However, a small voice nagged the back of head, refusing to be silent until its point was accepted.

What if it isn't a joke? What if two ponies really were murdered right in front of you? What if, if you don't explain the situation well enough in the next 30 seconds, you're next?

Twilight started to hyperventilate. As the adrenaline once again coursed through her, a high-pitched ringing threatened to deafen her as it increased in volume. She clutched at her temples, trying to make it stop, only to be snapped back to reality by the Night Princess.

"Answer her, you bucking whorse, before I kill you myself!" Luna shouted, voice full of aggression. As Twilight looked at her to answer, though, she saw something very different in her eyes--fear.

Why would the Princesses be afraid of me? the purple unicorn thought quizzically, I'm no threat to them. Or am I? Just what the buck did I stumble upon?

Not wanting to waste any more time, Celestia decided to try to catch this fly with honey. She put on her largest smile in over a century. "Twilight, my most faithful student," she said, laying it on especially thick today, "you can tell us; there's no need to be afraid; we just over-reacted a little is all. Just tell us what you know, and I give you my word, you'll make it back to Ponyville safe and sound."

"Well, that does sound nice, Prin--" Twilight stopped as her brain caught the odd wording of the phrase. Cautiously, she took two steps back. When Celestia's smile immediately changed to a frown, she knew her intuition had been correct: had she acquiesced to those terms, an assassin would have visited her that night.

"Look, Celestia, Luna," Twilight firmly stated, consciously forcing herself to drop the titles in a façade of confidence and bravado, "I don't know what you thought I found, but I can almost guarantee it isn't what I actually found." She pulled the Star Swirl book from the chariot, looking up to face two alicorn horns pointed at her. Still putting on the brave face, she took the tome into her mouth and tossed it at their feet. "That's what I was reading. That's what has you two being scaredy-ponies. That's what caused you to kill two guards just now. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to pass out; this has been way too stressful for me."

She had been feeling light-headed since Luna's threat, and now, with all her cards out on the table, she couldn't take any more; already her limbs felt as though they were going to give out on her any moment. When they did, she felt a tear roll down her cheek as darkness filled her vision. Goodbye, everypony, she said internally to the citizens of Ponyville, I love you all, especially you,--

Her final thought was interrupted by the princesses' voices echoing through her skull, "Oh, Discord, we really bucked it up this time, didn't we, Sis?"

"We sure did, Moony. We sure did."


"--No! Princess!"

Twilight awoke with a start. Looking around her, she quickly gets her bearing. She's only seen this room three times before, but she burned it into her memory each time, noting each change--it was Celestia's personal bedchamber. Twilight saw from the window that it was dark outside, but the moon's position in the sky was wrong--it should have been gibbous, not in the last quarter. How long was she out, anyway?

A throbbing in her head reminded her that she really had gone through some traumatic things, as all the memories of that day threatened to rape her mind once again with their stress. She forced them down, resolving to go see a psychiatrist in Fillydelphia once this was over. Hay, at this point, she'd exile herself to the Gryphon Kingdom, if it could get her some help and meant that she wouldn't have to worry about assassin ponies.

A soft knock on the door announced Princess Celestia as Twilight knew her--pristine coat, unblemished, radiant. She magically carried with her a soup tray. Luna followed, carefully gripping the book in her teeth.

Celestia sat the tray down near Twilight and smiled a warm smile, one that almost made Twilight forget about the incident. Almost.

"Twilight, I'm so glad you're awake," the sun princess cooed softly, "you were out for nearly two weeks. I was beginning to lose hope. And. . .I want to apologize." She now had a sheepish expression on her face. "It's just that we haven't heard those names in a long, long time. The last time somepony used them--" Celestia magically closed the door while Luna erected a magic barrier, "--the last time somepony used them was referring to our fight with Discord. Even then, they used them in a way that was trying to spread dissent. After all, you and your friends carry the Royal Bloodlines--"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Back the buck up. We're not royalty, you are."

"Actually," Luna piped in, the barrier triple-checked for accuracy, "that's our line. You six are, in fact, the current ruling generation, descended from the Mane Six that founded Equestria. All those advisors were given noble house titles over thirteen hundred years ago, with all six houses merging over a course of seven generations after that.

"About a thousand years ago, however, the one house diverged again, probably due to my antics," Luna admitted. "You see, there was a provision to us ruling: we were wartime leaders. Platinum House gave us control over the entire land because we could outlive anypony else--as we had done for the entirety of the hundred-fifty-year Discordant War, where we proved ourselves as worthy generals, being able to formulate and carry out plans for decades at a time.

"However, there were some among ponykind that thought Discord should be allowed to rule, figuring he'd eventually get bored and move on. Killing Discord's aberrations is one thing; having to mercilessly slaughter your own kind--well, let's just say that Discord was extremely successful in spreading his namesake. To see the children of the ponies you fought beside proudly--to see them have that much hate in their eyes for you, to want to kill you--I still have nightmares of when we were ordered to kill them without discretion."

At this, Luna broke down into tears, so Celestia, placing a wing on her little sister comfortingly, continued. "That night, we were told the rebel factions were coming for a truce talk, as the rebellion had been going on for some 20 years after Discord's sealing. Everypony was raggedly tired. Everypony, that is, except for King Oberon Platinum, who was profiteering from the rebellion, never letting any one side get the upper hand. What he called everypony to the castle for, in hindsight, was obviously not talks for peace, but inciting a full out slaughter with him as the victor--and a wartime hero. After all, he calls them for peace talks, they murder his four sons, implicating us in the process--who would be angry at him for seeking vengeance? Plus, he wouldn't have to worry about our followers, as we'd be dead!"

Twilight was floored at this statement. The princess, however, trudged on with her story.

"The only thing he hadn't counted on, of course, was us getting wind of his plan the day it was to go into action. Luna went immediately and confronted him about it, disrupting court. He attacked first. He didn't get a second chance," Celestia said somberly.

"Sister immediately flew over to the barracks and announced what happened," Luna picked up, calm enough to tell the story. "The ones that knew attacked her; she held off from attacking them as long as she could, but they really were no match for her," Luna gazed far off into the distance. "After all, Dad saw that we had more raw talent than anypony else and trained us appropriately. Since Discord's defeat, we'd been guiding the sun and the moon, for Discord's sake.

"Um, sorry," Luna stated to Twilight, "old habit. Never felt right referring to my own sister like a goddess." She proceeded, "Anyway, I suggested that we should just kill all four colts ourselves, save us some headaches when they grew up. Two unicorns, a pegasus, and an earth pony, barely two months old at the oldest. Celestia and I had our 52nd official fight. This time, however, was serious; it was for the fate of all Equestria. After about a week, Celestia wrested my Elements of Harmony from me. Did you know that all the Elements of Harmony do is grant wishes? Celestia wished for me to have a place to cool my head for as long as I needed." Luna chuckled. "I'd suppose there was some irony in the way it was worded, however."

Celestia nuzzled her little sister. "How many times must I apologize?" she asked, a hint of laughter in her voice. "I didn't know the Elements would be so literal.

"Anyway, with Luna gone, just disappeared in a daze of rainbow, I took the opportunity to declare myself regent; everypony was too stunned to consider otherwise. I declared that the king's children were not to be harmed, but three of them taken away to their respective areas, and raised in good homes. The fourth, Blue Platinum VII, was to be renamed Blueblood I, and to take over ruling when I deemed fit."

"Only he never did," Twilight said, finally finding her voice after the better part of a half-hour. "He grew up to be a snobby, selfish little stallion, whose promiscuity was only belittled by his vanity."

"That's correct, Twilight; I've been trying to work that out of the Bluebloods since. The current Blueblood is almost there, possibly in one more gener--"

"What do you mean, 'almost there?' That bastard was a bucking disgrace at the Gala! He was rude as buck to my friend, Rarity!"

"Twilight--"

"He didn't even apologize."

"Twilight--"

"Why I have a right mind to go kick him right in his little blue--"

"Twilight Firefly Sparkle! I'll have you know Blueblood LII is the most well-behaved, down-to-earth pony in Canterlot and has been smitten with your friend Rarity since three months before the Gala. I'm the one that told him to act that way."

"But--why, Celestia?"

The sun alicorn sighed deeply. "I--got scared. Scared that I'd have to step down from rule. Scared--that if Blueblood found out the history I just related to you, he'd have me and Luna executed. Or at least try. Scared that if you sided with the rightful rulers of Equestria--well, there'd be no way to know what would happen next."


"That still doesn't explain why you two wanted to kill me," Twilight was finally able to choke out. Her mouth was extremely dry from trying to muster up the courage to make that simple yet important statement. She looked at her now-cold soup with disdain, not entirely sure if she should try to heat it up and eat it or not.

"About that. . ." Celestia trailed off. Eagerly looking for an opportunity to cover her embarrassment, she turned to laughter. "Hey, let me get that for you; it's not gonna kill you, after all." She wore a nervous grin and internally brought her hoof to her face. Oh, why did I say that? Now she's gonna think it's poisoned or something.

Luna, sensing her sister's mental flailing about, decided to step in and save the day. "What my sister meant, dearest Twilight, is that that book showed us that, while you were certainly no threat, you deserved the truth.

"It is often said that history is written by the victors. Truer words were never spoken. Tell me, Twilight, what else do you know about King Oberon?"

"That he was a tyrant, an evil ruler, a--"

"--A ruler that improved the living conditions of many slums and orphanages? A ruler that raised the minimum wage for ponies for the first time in seventy-five years? A ruler whose approval rating is only beaten out by our Celestia here?"

"Well, no, but--"

"Then you do not know the total history. After my sister imprisoned me, I've been told, all books that spoke of him favorably were burned. Over a course of about a hundred years, of course; you have to wait for everypony that was under his direct rule to die off, of course.

"And, of course, you still have the ponies that have been tracing your lineages, as well as writing anti-Celestia propaganda to go along with it. Apparently, we get a crop of 'em every generation; Celestia has a task force designed specifically for removal of such literature--as well as the 'undesirables' that produce it.

"Last I heard, your friend wanted to join them," Luna said with a smirk. "Now it's our turn to ask some questions. First off, how did you know it was us?"

Twilight snapped out of listening mode. "Well, to be honest, I didn't, but I had a hunch, Lulu."

The night princess turned a deeper shade of indigo. "Wait, that's in there?" She quickly turned the pages, thankful she left all of Twilight's bookmarks intact. When she found it, she wanted to rip the offending page out and disintegrate it. Only the love for her father stopped her from doing so. "So, er, what did you want to know?"

"Ahem, Lulu, I think my student needs some more rest. We can pick this up again tomorrow, Lulu."

"Buck. You're going to wear that nickname out again, aren't you?" Luna asked flatly.

You're darn right I will, Lulu," the sun goddess teased her sister. Now that she knew it bothered her again, the nickname had new life breathed into it. I think, Celestia thought with a big cheesy grin, that I'll start up the Lunar Underside/Life Undersea project. Space and sea exploration. I can fund it if I cut out my pink spray-on tan.

As the elder plotted mischief, the younger rolled her eyes and shuttled her big sister out the door. She knew that look all too well. It would not be pleasant for her. "Take some time to get some rest, Twilight Sparkle, and reflect on these things. You are not a prisoner here, but should you wish to ask us more questions on our past selves, mention the sun and moon in the conversation. We'll deliver to you an appropriate time to meet us here, where the barrier is already set up."

"Doesn't that drain you of magic, though?"

"Not when it's self-sustaining." Luna closed the door behind her, having locked it from the inside on her way out.

Twilight grabbed a quill and pad, and was about to write down some questions when her stomach finally got its turn to raise a complaint. She turned to the bowl. A tentative sip.

Cream of broccoli, my second favorite. Now I know Celestia's not trying to poison me.