Twilight tries to make amends with her younger brother.
It was late in the morning as Paradox and Mercury crossed the fields of Sweet Apple Acres to meet up with their colleagues. Since it was the weekend, most of the town’s citizens took the day off. But in their minds, there were some things more important than a holiday.
“I keep getting the feeling that this won’t be an easy project,” the stallion said to his best friend.
“Is anything ever easy?” she asked simply.
As the two doctors trotted through the orchard, they encountered a young yellow filly, staring blankly off into space.
“Apple Bloom?” Dee said, approaching the Crusader. “Are you alright?”
“Huh?” She asked, turning to face the pegasus. Her unusual eyes throwing the filly off for a second. “Oh, I was just watching some… thing…” She pointed to the branches of a tree that was sitting in front of her.
Sure enough, the two elder ponies saw, in the trees, two tiny birds, one yellow, one purple, standing together on a branch. The purple one had wrapped a wing around the other and was nuzzling her affectionately.
“Awww, that’s adorable,” Dee said succinctly.
“Funny,” her companion explained. “A Purple Maretin and a Caneighdian Warbler. You rarely see two different species together like that.”
“Well, they’re obviously mates.” He smiled subtly. “Kinda sweet.” He looked at the two girls before him. “Come on. Let’s go.”
As he trotted ahead through the orchard, Dee smiled at Apple Bloom before trotting ahead herself.
“Wait for me!” Apple Bloom hollered as she followed closely behind.
Rainbow Dash trotted through the halls of Canterlot Castle. It was just after lunchtime, and after a hearty apple-almond-asparagus salad, she was ready to continue her day. She didn’t have any particular destination in mind since she didn’t have any immediate plans. But was a bit surprised to run into a very familiar face.
“Hey Shining!” she said to the white stallion.
The Captain of the Guard was trotting silently through the halls. He looked up at the young pegasus. “Hey, Rainbow, long time no see!”
She quickly noticed something very different about the stallion. He wasn’t wearing his traditional Royal Guard uniform. In fact, he wasn’t wearing anything. It was the first time Rainbow saw him in casual attire. “So, where are you off to?” she asked.
“Oh, my little brother,” he said with a smile. “He’s in town for a few days, so I decided to take the day off. Gonna meet up with him later tonight, have a few drinks.”
Shining was taken aback. “You met him?”
“Yeah, he… um… he wasn’t very nice.”
“Oh, you just gotta get to know him. He’s a really good guy.”
“Not to Twilight.”
The smile faded from his face. “Yeah, those two have a bit of a history.”
“Yeah…” She scratched the back of her neck. “He told me all about it.”
“He did?” The stallion put a hoof to his chin. “Odd.”
“Yeah… I might have gotten him drunk to do it.”
Shining laughed at the mare’s statement. An unusual silence descended.
“Twilight’s taking it personally,” Rainbow explained.
He sighed. “Can’t say I’m surprised.”
“Well, I’m gonna go.” He trotted past the mare, toward the castle’s main entrance. “I’ll see you around Rainbow.”
A few seconds after he started to leave, a lightbulb went off in Rainbow’s head. “Wait!” she screamed.
Caramel stood alone, leaning over a crate, as he tried to find a solution to the group’s problem. Drawing on a sheet of paper, he made several, very rough, diagrams illustrating some plans he came up with to construct a mine, while preserving the orchard above.
“Alright, we’re here.” Caramel instantly recognized the voice. He looked up and saw Paradox trotting towards them, with Dee and Apple Bloom following close behind.
“Where have you two been?” Caramel asked, dropping the pencil that was previously in his mouth.
“Sorry,” Mercury explained. “Emergency with a group of class two rain clouds on the other side of town, they got a bit unstable.”
“Don’t they always get a bit unstable?” Applejack asked nearby. “You nearly destroyed city hall with one of those once.”
“That wasn’t a class two,” she quickly explained, a bit defensively. “That was an early prototype of the tri-ionic thundercloud, and it was an accident.”
A calm silence descended, and Paradox trotted towards the other stallion. “Whatcha working on?” he asked.
“Well, we got a bit of an issue,” the blacksmith explained. “We have an ore body close to the surface, and an orchard we need to preserve. Any ideas?”
“Well, what have you considered?”
“Well, shaft mining wouldn’t work for obvious reasons, and neither would a pit. If you got another idea, I’d like to hear it.
He brought a hoof to his chin briefly before saying. “Have you considered dome mining?”
Caramel tilted his head. “What?”
“Oh, it’s a technique I read about a few months back. There was a town in Eastern Stirrope, they found an ore body of gold right underneath a small town. Land was at a premium so they couldn’t move the locals, so they reinforced the ground, and basically ran an underground pit mine.”
Caramel looked at the stallion skeptically. “How’d they do that?”
“Some complex spells, control of the local vegetation, there were several techniques they used, overlapping. I don’t remember the details, but I can definitely look it all up, just need to find the article.”
“Where was it?” Apple Bloom asked.
The two stallions looked down, finally noticing the young earth pony. Caramel responded, “Where was…”
Paradox opened his mouth in recognition. “OH! Um… I can’t remember specifics, I think it was in Scientific Equestrian.”
“Well, then, we need to find that magazine,” explained the blacksmith.
Apple Bloom smiled. “And I know where to look!”
Celestia’s eyes were trained on the book in front of her. As she tried to focus on its contents, her attention kept drifting to the young mare across the table, her loyal apprentice, Twilight Sparkle.
“Twilight, are you okay?” asked the regal unicorn.
“Hmm?” she looked up at her mentor. “Yes, Princess, I’m fine.”
“Are you certain? Because you’ve been on the same page for the past hour.”
“Um…” As Twilight was thinking about how to answer, she noticed a blue mare standing at the library’s entrance.
“Hey Twilight,” the pegasus said, trotting towards her friend.
“Rainbow? What are you doing here?”
She responded with a coy laugh and a playful tone, “Oh, I think I have something that might interest you.”
Camile’s eyes were bright and wide. They darted around as she took in her surroundings.
“Camile?” TJ said, bringing a cloth to the woman’s forehead. “How’re you feeling?”
She looked at the medic. However her gaze was unsteady.
A smile appeared on her face. “Big fluffy bunny,” Camile said, her voice shaky and fluctuating in tone.
TJ realized there wasn’t much to do. She walked back to the centre of the room.
“What is it?” asked Colonel Young.
“Well…” the medic explained. “She’s high.”
“On what?” asked a nearby Kino.
“Nothing.” Everyone’s gaze turned to Doctor Rachel Inman, the ship’s chief chemist, who was standing behind a bench, which held many flasks and test tubes. She explained, “I ran a detailed tox-screen, and as far as I can tell, there’s nothing out of the ordinary in her bloodstream.”
“Well then,” the Colonel asked. “What could cause this?”
Volker interjected, “What caused any of our symptoms?”
Brody was standing behind the astrophysicist as he explained. “Cousin Itt’s right.” No one could see Volker’s look of exasperation. “Whatever caused any of their symptoms is likely what’s causing Wray’s.”
Varro wasn’t too sure. “Well why did her symptoms change?”
Johansen explained, “Best guess, it’s might be a normal progression of the illness. There’s a good chance that you will all eventually start to… hallucinate and… lose focus.”
“WEEEE!!!” Everyone looked at Camile as she twirled her fingers in the air.
“Well, that’s not good,” Volker said.
“Which is exactly why you are all staying right here” the Colonel said. “Until we know what this is I’m not taking any more risks.”
“Um…” Inman interjected. “I think I might have an idea there… Colonel.”
Everyone looked at the scientist.
“Well, I looked at the flower.” She held a plastic bag containing the blue flower for everyone to see. “To try to figure out what it was. First looking at the leaves, see if any put out any toxins. Found nothing. Looked at the pollen, thought that maybe it might have some toxic properties. That turned out to be highly unlikely.”
“So what else is there?” Brody asked.
“Well, on a hunch, I decided to use one of the portable scanners we found,” she said, pulling out a handheld that was only slightly bigger than a Kino remote. “And…” She handed the device to TJ before continuing. “It appears to be emitting some type of energy signature. Can’t place exactly what it is, but it’s definitely not something a plant would normally put out.”
“You think an energy signature did this?” Volker asked.
TJ took the lead. “Well, only one way to find out.” She walked over to Doctor Volker, and pointed the scanner at him. As it started buzzing, TJ kept her focus on it.
It wasn’t long before the device let out a beep, and she looked at it intently. Quickly running to Varro, she ran the scanner over him, and the result came even faster. “I think…” She then scanned Morrison, who was sitting right next to the soldier.
“Well?” Young asked.
“She’s right Colonel. I’m picking up a similar energy signature from all three of them.” She started walking towards Camile.
“So, now that we know what caused it,” Brody explained. “It shouldn’t be that hard to cure it.”
“What are you suggesting?” Volker asked.
“Well, I’m suggesting we find a way to counteract it. Run an interference pattern over it.”
“Could that work?” asked the Colonel.
“Well, sir,” TJ explained. “It’s the best lead so far.”
He looked at Doctor Brody. “Get to work.”
Twilight looked down at her sandwich. As she stared at it, the mare simply could not get herself to eat.
Across from her, Shining chewed on his salad. As he looked at his sister, he suddenly got concerned. Swallowing the contents of his mouth, he decided it was time to ask her the most crucial question. “Not hungry?”
“I guess not,” she replied. “Shining, why does this bug me so much?”
The captain shrugged. “He’s family?”
Twilight turned her gaze back to the sandwich. “Thanks for this,” she said.
“Don’t thank me yet.”
“Are you sure he’ll be okay with it?”
He levitated a forkful of salad to his mouth, and quickly replied. “I don’t know,” he said before taking a bite.
Silence once again descended upon the siblings.
As Shining ate more of his salad, it wasn’t long before he was hit by an epiphany. “Twilight,” he said. “If I told you a secret. Do you think you’d be able to keep it?”
She smiled. “Of course BBBFF!”
“Hold on,” he said, holding up a hoof. “Now, I don’t just mean from a few ponies. I mean from everypony. From your friends… even from the princesses.”
Her eyes went wide.
“You have a secret you want me to keep from Princess Celestia?”
“What is it?”
The soldier sighed. “It’s not my secret to tell.”
“But I need to know, that you would keep it.”
She thought about it for a second. “Does Cadance… know this secret?”
“No… no she doesn’t. It’s too… risky.”
“You don’t trust her?”
“Twilight it’s… it’s not that simple.”
She looked down at her sandwich briefly. Her thoughts buzzing around. It wasn’t long before Shining noticed the mare smile. She looked up and said, “you can trust me.”
He smiled. “Good. I hope the others trust you too.”
The third barn at Sweet Apple Acres did not contain much in the way of supplies or livestock. It was kept at the far end of the orchard. Far away from the rest of the farm. It held some emergency supplies and occasionally, any stock that couldn’t fit in any building closer to the farmhouse. But as Apple Bloom entered the structure, all it contained was a pile of stones, which was exactly what she wanted.
She was dressed in a baggy orange suit, designed to protect her from the radiation. Following closely behind, a blue unicorn was dressed in an identical suit, save for the fact that it actually fit her.
“So,” Paradigm asked. “What exactly are you planning here?”
“It’s… um… hard to explain.” The young filly shuffled over to the pile, careful not to let the tape that was wrapped around her legs come loose. She looked at the rocks and saw several different coloured stones. Most were a dull gray, but several stood out for her. They were a dark black, and very shiny, almost perfectly reflective. Apple Bloom leaned in closer and noticed the stones had some dark red stripes within.
“Zebran Obsidian,” came a voice behind her. “The red is caused by traces of Naquadah.”
“Are they safe?” she asked.
“I’m sure of it.” She levitated several pieces of obsidian out of the pile, and placed them within a burlap bag. “Is this enough?”
“I hope so,” the yellow one replied. “I’m not sure yet.”
The unicorn looked at her. “Do you even know what you’re doing with it?”
“Um… I’ll figure it out.”
“So you have no idea.”
“I have an idea!” She was almost incensed. “I have a few ideas, I’m just not sure if they’ll work.” She looked at the bag. “Do you know how to make jewellery?”
The light that once bathed the city of Canterlot slowly faded as Equestria’s sun set below the horizon. In the light of the setting sun a young pegasus flew over the city, his dark red coat looking slightly darker in the warm light. Upon his back, a saddlebag was wearing him down. It was loaded with goods, and the clasp was emblazoned with the stallion’s cutie mark: A single dark grey thundercloud with a red lightning bolt streaking in front of it. On his flank the lightning bolt often blended into his coat, which sometimes frustrated the young pegasus.
Gliding over the metropolis, he approached the Doubleappletree Hotel where his best friend was waiting for him. Red landed gracefully on one of the balconies. Noticing the curtains were closed, he trotted towards the window, and rapped three times.
A greyish glow encompassed the blind as a bright blue eye peered through it. Moonlight unlocked the latch and opened the sliding door.
The pegasus trotted through the curtain, and was quickly greeted by the young unicorn. “Did you get everything?” he asked.
Red quickly looked around the room. It was much larger, and much better equipped than Red’s. Around twice the size, it had a small fridge, a fireplace, and plenty of room for the young unicorn and his loyal companion to work, relax, and organize.
“I hope so,” Red replied, unloading the bag off his back. “I’m not going out again.”
A voice came from across the suite. “Well then, I hope so too,” she said. “Because we’re not going out either.”
A short white dragon sat on the edge of the mattress, examining a strip of film, her back to the two stallions.
“Lazy little bugger,” Red quipped.
“Annoying little jerk,” she responded, turning to face the pegasus.
“Whatcha workin’ on?” He asked.
“Just examining today’s footage. Making sure none of you screwed up.”
Red responded with a sarcastic laugh.
A knock came at the door. “Mister Sonata, this is the Royal Guard, please open up!”
“Dammit!” Red exclaimed under his breath.
“Coming!” replied the unicorn, as the dragon dove under his bed, dropping the filmstrip.
Underneath, she could see very little, but could hear everything.
Moonlight opened the door, as a pair of hoofsteps trotted in. “Good evening Mister Sonata.”
As the door closed behind him, the new arrival explained his presence. “We received an anonymous tip regarding some illegal activity being conducted by your company, I have a warrant here to search your room.”
“Um… uh… well…”
The young dragon was scared, she could only hope she wouldn’t accidentally give herself away.
“This won’t take long sir.”
She could hear the stallion approach, and open, the empty crate on the far side of the room. As he continued to trot around, she realized he was getting a bit too close to her location. He stood right next to the bed, and she noticed the guardsman kneel down, as a pink glow encompassed the sheet hanging over the bed frame. As it flew up, she was all ready to panic, run, attack, something! But it all went away the moment she saw a pair of blue eyes and a shining white smile staring back at her.
“AH!!!” she screamed, leaping forward wrapping her arms around Shining Armor’s neck.
The three ponies in the room started laughing, as the white unicorn stood, the dragon still holding on.
It wasn’t long before she let go, landing on the bed, and responding with a slap across the stallion’s face. “You bastard!” she screamed.
As he put a hoof to the impact point, Shining responded with a chuckle, “Sorry, I thought it would be funny.”
“Not that!” she said. “You got married you jerk!”
“You should have seen her,” Moonlight explained. “You broke her heart man.”
He looked at the young dragon before him. “I’m sorry, Scales, I should have told you first.”
“Bah,” she said, waving a claw. “I’m over it. It was months ago.”
“Oh… now I’m hurt,” he said almost mocking. “I thought I was the love of your life.”
“Get over yourself.”
“Well, there must be somepony else, then. Did another handsome stallion steal your heart?”
She looked at him coyly. “Maybe… maybe not.”
Another knock came at the door. Moonlight turned to look at his brother.
“Don’t be mad,” he said. “I’m only trying to help.”
Another knock came. Scales jumped off the bed, attempting to hide from whoever was on the other side.
Moonlight approached the door, and opened it with his magic. His eyes went wide.
“Hello,” Twilight said with an awkward smile.
The blue stallion turned to look at his older brother. “Only trying to help, huh?”
He looked back at his older sister. “What do you want?”
“Look, I’m sorry, really I am. I know I’ve been a terrible sister. But, I want to make up for it.”
He stared blankly at the purple mare, before closing the door in her face. Moonlight quickly turned to look at his older brother. “Are you insane!?” he screamed in a hushed voice.
“Oh, come on!” he threw up his hooves. “How long can you hold a grudge!?”
“It has nothing to do with that!” He exclaimed. “It has everything to do with her.” He pointed to the dragon who was peeking over the bed.
“She said she wouldn’t tell anypony.”
“You told her!?”
“No, I just asked if she could keep a secret, and she said she would.”
“Even from the princess?”
“Even from the princess.”
He paused for a second. “And you believe her?”
Shining stood up straight. “Yes.”
Moonlight’s horn started glowing as the door opened. He didn’t bother to turn around as he said, “You gonna come in or not?”
Twilight was facing away from the door when she heard it swing open. She slowly turned around, the confusion on her face quickly turning to joy, as she galloped in, closing the door behind her.
Her little brother turned around. “Well Twilight, you already know Shining and Red, so let me introduce you to Scales, our chief gaffer.”
The dragon quickly jumped onto the bed, holding out a claw for the mare to shake. “Pleasure to meet you.”
Confusion once again struck her face. “Likewise,” she said, returning the gesture.
“Twilight?” Shining said.
Her gaze turned to the white stallion. “Yeah?”
“So, where did you come from?” She asked the dragon. “I mean how come we didn’t meet earlier?”
“Oh, well, I was hiding in Crate ‘S.'”
“Twilight,” Moonlight said. “You can’t tell anypony about her.”
“What? Why not? And why was she hiding in a crate?”
The two brothers looked at each other, before quickly turning their gaze back toward their sister.
Shining responded, “because she’s a fugitive.”
Rainbow Dash wasn’t really that much of a bookworm. Not that she was vehemently opposed to books, but her life didn’t revolve around them either. There was a time when her feeling regarding literature were beyond biased. She thought only eggheads read, and she certainly wasn’t an egghead. But one day, that all changed. She learned that books are not just fun, they’re exciting, and oftentimes they could become quite addicting.
But she never bothered with anything outside of fiction. Action, adventure, sci-fi, those were the kinds of books that she could get lost in. But today, she decided to try something new and expand her horizons. Today, she was reading a dull book by some historian who died a hundred years ago… and she wished she wasn’t.
Her head fell forward into the book. Sitting across from her, the tall and regal Princess Celestia looked at the young pegasus. She closed the book that was levitating in her grasp and slammed it on the table with a loud bang.
“I’M UP!” the weatherpony screamed.
“It’s not exactly an exciting read is it?” the princess asked with a chuckle.
“Sorry,” came the reply. “I was just… um…”
“It’s quite alright Rainbow Dash. Though I must ask: Why the sudden interest in ancient pony history?”
Because of the thing that’s older than all known history, she thought. “No reason.”
Celestia was slightly perplexed. “So, you’re not looking for anything specific?”
“Uh… well… actually…” she thought for a few seconds. “What do you know about the Cataclysm?”
“Not much unfortunately,” the princess explained. “However, we do have a few books on the subject. If you’re sincerely interested, I can give you access to the more restricted sections.”
“Of course, in fact I have a book here that might be able to help you.” Celestia turned toward the stack next to her and levitated one of them out from the middle of the pile. “It’s one of the books Twilight discovered in the Ponyville Library. I believe it’s some type of journal. It might help.”
Rainbow grabbed it in her hooves, and placed it on the table before her. “Thanks, princess.”
“I must say these books are quite interesting. I’ve made some remarkable discoveries.”
“Uh huh…” Rainbow said, feigning interest.
“There are some old spells I completely forgot about, some historical records…”
Rainbow started flipping through the book.
“…I also found some documents on…”
The pegasus looked up as the princess trailed off.
“It’s not important.”
Rainbow went back to her book. Focusing on the task at hoof.
“A fugitive?” Twilight asked. “You’ve been aiding and abetting a fugitive?”
“We,” Shining interjected. “Have been aiding and abetting a fugitive.”
“It’s a bit of a long story,” Red explained. “Would you like a drink?”
She nodded. The group trotted over to a round table that was sitting opposite the bed. As they gathered around, Scales quickly got to work pouring drinks for all the little ponies.
“So… what’d she do?” Twilight asked.
“Well…” Moonlight started, before his brother interrupted him.
“She nearly destroyed half a city.”
Twilight’s jaw hung open, a glass of whisky sitting in front of her. She downed the whole glass.
“Woah! Pace yourself!” the pegasus exclaimed.
“Half a city!?” the mare exclaimed.
“It was a small town and I didn’t destroy it,” the dragon explained, defensively.
“Yeah, well, they’re still bitter about it,” Moonlight explained. “Property damage was through the roof.”
“Wait…” Twilight was confused. “She’s just a little dragon! How could she destroy half a town?”
“I went a little crazy.”
“Turns out dragons grow a little abnormally,” Shining explained. “She was quite large, like the size of a building, and it caused her to lose her mind.”
Twilight’s mind started buzzing. “I think the same thing happened to Spike.”
“Spike?” Scales asked.
“Her dragon assistant,” Shining explained.
“You have a dragon assistant?”
“Yeah, it was his birthday, he got a lot of gifts, it made him want more, and the more he got, the more he grew.”
“Yeah, that’s kinda what happened to me.”
Twilight was confused. “Okay, but we repaired everything, and nopony tried to arrest him, why would it be different for her?”
“Well… it didn’t happen in Equestria,” the blue unicorn explained. “It happened in Itrot, the laws are a bit different for dragons there.”
“What do you mean?”
The four of them looked at each other. Unsure of how to continue.
Eventually, Moonlight explained, “capital punishment. They wanted to execute her.”
“Yeah… it’s actually how we met, we had to smuggle her out of the country. We’re lucky they didn’t check that crate at the border.”
“No,” Shining interjected, bringing a glass to his lips. “We’re lucky I was there to calm her down.”
“Yeah, she was so smitten,” Moonlight explained with a smile.
“Same thing happened to Spike, Rarity knocked him out of it.”
“Little Spike’s smitten with her then, huh?” Shining asked. “Not surprised.”
“Well… yeah… he was.”
“‘Was’!?” Scales responded. “Oooo! There’s a story that’s not about me losing my mind, let’s talk about that!”
Twilight put a hoof on her head, “Woah.”
“I think I drank that too fast.”
“Yeah, no kidding.”
Moonlight put a hoof on his sister’s foreleg. “Are you going to be okay?” he asked.
“Yeah, I think so.” She quickly recovered, still slightly dizzy. “It was a few weeks ago.”
“Okay, let’s try it now,” Rush announced.
Adam Brody grabbed the wrapped flower petal, and placed it on the device in the centre of the lab. The device itself was reminiscent of the Control Interface Hub, the biggest difference being a gap in the centre, and a glass shield hanging from the top of the bottom section.
Brody returned to his console, and began the test. The shield raised, covering the entire testing area. As the top section started to glow with an orange light, Brody held a hand up to protect his eyes.
The pulse released into the testing area and the guard lowered. As the two scientists walked up to the platform to inspect the flower, they didn’t need to use a scanner to know they had failed. The flower petal was a brown-grey husk.
“Well the plastic survived.”
“Excellent observation Mister Brody,” Rush said as he walked back to the console. “It doesn’t exactly help us.”
“I assume that means your plan isn’t working,” Young said as he sauntered into the lab.
“It’s not that it’s not working,” explained the engineer. “It is, we’ve definitely found a way to counteract the energy field, the problem is, we can’t do it without killing the plant.”
“So you think it’ll kill a human as well?”
“Well, we can’t be certain, but I assume you wouldn’t want to take the risk.”
“It’s possible that the plant is dependant on this energy,” Rush explained. “Which means the only reason the plant is dying, is because the energy field is gone.”
“Or, it means that the counter field we’re using breaks down organic matter as well,” Brody interjected. “The truth is, we have no way of knowing, not until we actually use it.”
“And since no one is getting any sicker, it might be safer to just wait.”
“Well,” the Colonel explained. “I’m sure Camile would beg to differ if she could.”
“That was probably just a fluke,” Rush continued. “This energy field affects different people in different ways, it’s possible, it just happened to make her delirious.”
“You mean for round two?” Brody asked.
“Look, we don’t even know if dispersing the field will do anything. For all we know, the effects are permanent, and dispersing the field will do nothing but put them in unnecessary danger.”
Young was incensed, “We have a man who’s a foot tall, Rush. I hope you’re wrong about that.”
“Well, I hope so too.”
“I think he’s right Colonel,” the chief engineer explained. “We might be better off waiting it out.”
The ship’s commander paused for thought. “Keep at it. If any of them start getting worse, we’ll hit them with the dang field,” he explained. “I don’t care what the risks are.”
As the Colonel left the room, Rush quickly gathered his supplies and started to leave.
“Where are you going?” Brody asked.
“Honestly, I have better things to do than deal with a magical energy field that we can’t stop.”
As he was left alone, Brody continued to work on the problem.
Red gripped the glass in his teeth, and threw his head back, downing the beverage in sync with Twilight. As the other three clapped away, Twilight released a cough and a giggle.
“That’s strong,” she said, bringing a hoof to her mouth.
“Another round?” Red asked.
“No, no way… you win-I can’t…”
“Aww… little sis is a lightweight,” Shining said with a laugh.
“Hey, I don’t want another hangover like yesterday.”
“Ah!” Moonlight said. “Overdid it did ya?”
“Yeah, I did,” Twilight explained. “I was trying to keep up with Princess Luna.”
As Moonlight poured another glass of whisky, Twilight tried to recover from the rush of alcohol. “So… something’s bugging me,” she said.
“Okay,” her younger brother asked. “What’s that?”
“She’s wanted all the way in Itrot, not here.”
Shining lowered the glass from his lips.
“Why is it such a big deal to keep it secret here?”
Red quickly explained, “Equestria has an extradition treaty with Itrot. There are complex diplomatic issues. If the royal family found out, they would need to turn her over, or face an international incident.”
“Celestia wouldn’t do that.”
“What do you mean?” her younger brother asked.
“If we tell Celestia, she might be able to help her. She wouldn’t turn Scales over, knowing the consequences.”
“She might not have a choice Twilight,” Shining explained. “They could try to keep it a secret from Itronian government, but…”
“Well, it can’t be any good for her to stay cooped up in here all day.”
“Or in the crate,” Red explained.
“Well,” Moonlight said. “It’s not like we have much of a choice. Dragons attract a lot of attention in Equestria, somepony sees a dragon wandering the streets, they’ll ask too many questions.”
“Yeah, unless he gets that spell working, we don’t have any other options.”
Scales dropped her glass on the table. “Can you stop talking about me like I’m not here?”
“Wait!” Twilight exclaimed. “What spell?”
“OOO! Moonlight’s been working on a spell that’ll make me look like a pony,” the dragon explained. “Unfortunately, it hasn’t been able to stick.”
Twilight paused for thought. “Can I take a look at it?”
The Kornas drifted high above a planet. It’s mission: to try to intercept the humans, and take their ship: The Destiny.
This was one of many planets they found holding a Stargate. Each one likely to be visited by the humans. Unfortunately, they couldn’t stage ambushes on every one, due to limited resources. Something which frustrated the commander to no end.
As Commander Fentin looked over the display on the bridge. A nagging feeling crossed his mind. That they had failed.
It had been a long time since his people had seen their prize. He was but a child then, and since that time his people never gave up on their mission. Was it time to give up now? They hadn’t received any sign that the ship was still intact. It had been lost. Was it destroyed?
Fentin looked to his left. His second-in-command, Grevas, stood there.
“You shouldn’t be here,” the commander replied. “Your injuries have not healed.”
“I am well enough.”
The lieutenant leaned on a crutch, the pain he once felt was dulled by the medicines he had received. But the scarring had not gone away. Half his face was significantly burnt, but luckily, his injuries were superficial, by Nakai standards.
“I disagree,” Fentin explained.
“Has the team discovered anything?”
“Nothing. The humans have not arrived.”
“They would be well past this point now. We should move on.”
“That is not our orders.”
“Ganeg our orders!”
Fentin snapped his head at Grevas. “Admiral Voltas has his reasons for our assignment.” He slowly turned his chair toward the lieutenant. “Perhaps it was your failure at the last ambush point.”
He snarled at his commander.
“Do not take this personally Grevas. We’ve all had our failures. Perhaps we’ll get lucky, and you’ll get a chance to redeem yourself.”
“Sir, I wish to be a part of the next ground team.”
“Patience Grevas. You’ll get another chance.”
As the lieutenant left the room, Fentin realized, there was little chance of them ever being successful in their mission… without some help.
Twilight looked over the parchment in front of her. Her eyes darting back and forth. “This is amazing,” she said. “What did you base this on?”
“Well there was a book I found a while back on changelings,” Moonlight explained. “It explained the patterns they used, but there were a lot of holes, I was able to fill them in… trial and error, that kind of thing.”
“Emphasis on the error,” Red quipped from the opposite side of the room. His attention focused entirely on a filmstrip he was holding in front of him.
“What are you doing?”
“Oh, just reliving old bloopers.”
As Twilight levitated a quill to the page, Moonlight stopped her. “Woah! What are you doing?”
“I think I found the problem,” she explained, pointing her quill to the sheet.
As he looked down, he simply said, “Huh… how’d I miss that?”
“I think the better question is, how’d you design this?” she said, making the correction.
“Well, I had a lot of spare time, and a bright idea,” he explained. “It wasn’t that difficult, Twilight.”
“She’s just easily impressed,” said the eldest sibling.
“I am not!”
Off in one corner of the hotel suite, Scales blew into the fireplace. As the flames danced within the stone structure, she turned to the group. “So it works?” the dragon asked. “You can make me a pony?”
“Well, we can make you look like a pony,” Twilight explained. “But it won’t be permanent.”
“So we’ll just have to refresh it every once in a while,” Moonlight said. “Not a big deal. What about the safety mechanism?”
“Should work fine,” she explained. “So, wanna test it?”
“Sure.” He levitated the parchment in front of his face, and examined it closely. “Okay, I think I got it.”
“Um…” Twilight got to her hooves. “Can I do it?”
“No, you can try it on your own dragon when you get home.”
“Her own dragon?” Scales asked.
“Yeah, you heard me, dragons are property now.”
Red reeled up the film, and placed it on the fireplace mantle, before trotting over to the group. “Well, if this works, it’ll take a load off my back.”
“Why?” the young mare asked.
“Well, I no longer have to pretend to be the chief gaffer on the set.”
“Okay, let’s do this.” Moonlight’s horn started glowing, as a grey aura wrapped around the dragon.
Scales started to float upward, the light growing in intensity. As it grew brighter and brighter everypony in the suite had to shield their eyes from the light.
It wasn’t long before Twilight’s eyes adjusted to the brightness. She lowered her hoof, still needing to squint her eyes, and could see the shape of a young dragon projected in the light. It slowly shifted in form. Her arms and legs became blunter, her body stretched, and her neck elongated. The new shape landed on the floor, and the light slowly faded away.
Standing in the middle of the room, everypony could see a white pegasus standing there, her pink mane slicked back over her head, and a look of confusion on her face. The interesting thing Twilight noticed, was the fact that this new pegasus had a cutie mark. It appeared to be a white theatre light, with beams of light shining forward.
Scales put a hoof to her head, then pulled the hoof away, and examined the new appendage.
“You okay?” Moonlight asked.
“I think so,” the former dragon replied. “Wow, this is weird.”
“How do you feel?” the other girl asked.
“Fine… it’s just… different.”
“You’ll get used to it,” Red explained.
“Woohoo!” Twilight exclaimed. “We need to celebrate!” She rushed over to the fireplace, where a bottle of rum sat atop the mantle. “Who’s up for more drinking!?”
However, in her haste, she failed to notice the two film reels that sat next to it; she failed to notice the reels falling off the mantle as the bottle knocked them off; and she failed to notice them land on the floor, the cases breaking open, and part of the film falling straight into the fire, instantly catching the flames which ran straight up the reel. However, others noticed.
“AHHH!!!” Moonlight screamed. He ran over to Twilight’s position. Quickly encasing them in a magical field, and levitating them away from the flame. But it was too late, as the film collapsed into ash, which littered the ground.
“Oh my!” Twilight exclaimed. “I’m so sorry.”
The empty reels fell to the floor, as tremors ran throughout Moonlight’s body. “Red… wh… wha-wha… what?”
“Se… se… seventeen-B and C,” he replied.
“Th-the ones we filmed in Pensacolta.”
The newest pegasus replied, “did… did we make any copies?”
Only Twilight dared to talk at this time. “Moonlight, I’m so-”
“Get out,” her younger brother replied.
“Get out!” He turned to face the mare, fire in his eyes, his horn beginning to glow a bright blue. “GET OUT! GET OUT!”
Twilight didn’t hesitate, she bolted straight for the door, slamming straight into it. She rubbed her head, trying to disperse the pain.
She swung the door open and bolted out into the hall, slamming it behind her.
Tears streamed down her face. “What did I do?”
Destiny’s mess hall was packed with crew members enjoying their latest and most delicious discovery. In one tiny corner, the ship’s youngest genius was enjoying a fresh space apple. Chloe missed the feeling of biting into such a familiar fruit. But there were a few differences from the earth apples she was familiar with. The skin was a bit softer, and it tasted a bit sweeter. But her mind certainly identified it as an apple.
From behind the former political aide, Sergeant Greer had just received his rations. He turned around, looking for a seat. Unfortunately, the mess hall was not big enough to hold even half of Destiny’s crew, so seating was at a premium. He was about to leave the hall, so he could eat his rations in peace, until he noticed a single empty seat. Across from the apparently alone Chloe Armstrong. He walked over and placed his dish on the table. Grabbing the young woman’s attention.
“Hey, Ronald,” she said, greeting the soldier.
“Good evening ma’am,” he responded, sitting down.
As Greer started in on his rations, the only sound came from the mass of voices surrounding them.
“So,” Chloe said. “Enjoying the food?”
The two sat there, in relative silence, broken only by the chewing of space apples and the din of the crowd.
“If you don’t mind me saying, Miss Armstrong,” Greer explained. “It’s not often I see you so alone.”
She placed her half-eaten fruit in the metal bowl before her. “Well, since Eli’s been trapped in the computer, it’s not like there’s many people for me to talk to,” she explained. “I mean… except you.”
The Sergeant had a chuckle at her save.
At that moment, a distortion passed through the ship as it dropped out of FTL, silencing everyone in the mess hall.
“I guess it’s time,” Chloe said. She took a final bite of her apple, before getting out of her seat and starting toward the door.
“Yes ma’am,” Greer replied, eating the last of his fruit and following the young woman out of the hall.
Rainbow sat in the otherwise empty Royal library. She struggled to keep her eyes open, her head bowed over a hardbound book. Her lack of energy and devotion to the tome meant she was easily pulled out of it when a dark blue pony trotted through the entrance.
“Good evening Rainbow Dash,” the Princess of the Night said.
The blue pegasus shifted her gaze. “Hey, Luna. What’s up!?
“This evening?” she replied. “Very little.”
From behind the regal pony, her sister stepped through the entrance, levitating a slice of vanilla cake in front of her. “Hello again Rainbow Dash. Have you found what you were looking for?” she asked, before biting into her cake.
She closed the book in frustration. “No, I don’t think so.”
“What were you looking for?” the younger sister asked.
“Oh, she said she was looking for information about the cataclysm,” Celestia explained. “I’m so happy. I assume we can credit Twilight for her new found interest.”
“Uhhh…” Rainbow responded, locking eyes with the Lunar Regent. “Yeah… I guess.”
“There are plenty of books in the back of the library sister,” Luna explained. She shifted her gaze to the young pegasus. “Perhaps you can find what you seek there?”
“Uh… yeah,” the athlete replied. “Maybe.”
“Then come, Rainbow Dash,” she said, trotting into the high-security area as Rainbow Dash followed her.
As they left, Celestia sat at the table and levitated another book off the slowly shrinking pile. She took another bite of cake, and placed a separate slice of cake on the table before her.
She settled in, and got back to reading.
Sugar Cove had a very subdued nightlife. Once the sun had set, there wasn’t much to do. Some ponies occasionally threw private parties that lasted well into the night, but most just allowed themselves to rest after a long day.
Pinkie was never one of those ponies. Which was exactly why she decided to throw a small after-birthday party for her newest friend on the outskirts of town.
The celebration was held at the top of a small grassy hill, a venue chosen by the birthday girl for some happy memories it triggered. There was no music, but plenty of pastries for the two earth ponies to snack on.
The party-planner smiled and tossed another cupcake into her mouth, as the purple mare next to her had her eye glued to the eyepiece of a large telescope.
“See anything cool?” Pinkie asked, trotting over.
Fizzypop twisted a few nobs and said, “I think so, take a look!” She backed away from the device allowing her new friend to replace her.
Through the eyepiece Pinkie could see a bright blue mess of streaks, crossed with greens and purples. It was beautiful. “OOOO!” she said in awe. But there was one problem. “What is it?”
Fizzypop giggled. “It’s a nebula, a giant cloud in space. That’s where stars are born.”
“So it’s a giant baby star!?”
“Awww,” she said, returning her gaze to the astronomical phenomenon. “It’s so cute.”
“Looks kinda like a bird don’t you think?”
Pinkie steadied her gaze and noticed the cloud did have some type of shape. She could see a pair of wings, spread out very far and wide, two claws from the bottom, and a head and beak on the top. It took a bit of imagination, but she could definitely see it. “Uh huh!”
“It’s called the Blue Phoenix Nebula,” Fizzypop said with a smile. “Waterfire told me all about it.” Her gaze suddenly turned solemn. “Though I probably just read it in a book somewhere, and forgot.”
Pinkie turned back to her friend. “You know, you’re so lucky!” She smiled wide.
The pink mare nodded vigorously. “Mmmhm! When I made imaginary friends, they were pretty boring, all they did was agree with me, and insult Rainbow Dash. But you and your imaginary friends had adventures, arguments, they taught you, and you taught them-”
“-I thought I did.”
“You must be so smart to imagine friends that interesting! I wish I was as smart as you.”
“You really think I’m smart?”
She nodded again. “I’ll bet you’re even smarter than Twilight! You know she likes neberas too!”
“Nebulas,” Fizzypop corrected.
“Whatever, show me some more!” She shoved the telescope in the young mare’s face.
As she readjusted the eyepiece. Pinkie suddenly brought a hoof to the back of her neck and started scratching vigorously.
“You okay?” the purple pony asked.
“I don’t know,” she said, bringing her hoof in front of her face, she started to stare at it. “That’s a new one.”
“New one what?”
“OOO!!! I never told you about my Pinkie Sense!!!”
Rainbow Dash examined the shelf in front of her, a blank gaze spreading over her face. “You don’t see anything here that might help do you?” she asked.
“Since you haven’t told me what caused this sudden interest,” Princess Luna replied. “I don’t see how I can answer that question.”
She turned around, facing the Lunar Regent and suddenly got a bit nervous. “Well, it’s just that… the ring. You said it’s over five-thousand-years-old. That shouldn’t be possible.”
Princess Luna smiled. “Rainbow Dash, you are not the first pony to ask these questions.” Her gaze shifted. “It is a mystery that has consumed many brilliant minds in Equestrian history, since the ring was discovered, shortly after the unification. Not one of them found an answer.” Her eyes locked with the young mare’s. “Please don’t let this dominate your life Rainbow.”
The pegasus looked down, her mind drifted around in circles as she thought about the issue. “So you’re saying: I may never find the answer.”
She nodded solemnly.
“Yeah, that’s not gonna stop me.”
“I had a feeling you’d say that.”
She trotted through the open gate, Rainbow quickly following. They passed two closed security gates before arriving at the final section, which was very familiar to the winged athlete.
As they entered the high-security area, Luna quickly explained, “There are a few books in here on the ring.” She pointed to one specific shelf, next to the hidden corridor. “I think they might help.”
Rainbow trotted to the shelf. “Thanks Princess.”
“I must return to my sister’s side,” the regent continued. “I’m certain she requires assistance in her own investigations.”
Rainbow turned to respond, only to find the corridor empty.
The Stargate came to life, all nine chevrons lighting up as the entire device spun around, eventually stopping as the gate bearing lit the first symbol in the planet’s address.
Standing at the rear of the Gate Room, Doctor Nicholas Rush was standing at one of the consoles, overseeing the dialing of the gate.
As the second symbol locked into place, Colonel Young walked in through the main entrance.
“Well, you look excited,” He said.
Doctor Rush was all ready to go off-world, he was equipped with a military-issue jacket, and a backpack loaded with supplies, which was sitting at his feet.
“Don’t want to waste any time Colonel,” he responded.
“Guess I can’t blame you for that.”
The blue pegasus examined the shelf in front of her, reading each title carefully. “A Study on Blue Pine Forrest; Geological Analysis of The Blue Pine Forrest; A Report on the Wildlife of the Blue Pine Forrest… these titles are kinda dry.”
It was at that moment, as silence descended on the corridor, a faint noise echoed down the hall. The young mare turned her head in the direction of the sound. It came from the very familiar bookcase she entered just the night before.
Trotting towards it, she noticed the sound got louder. Rainbow’s eternal curiosity got the better of her as she quickly tipped the three books the Princess used the night before.
As the hidden entrance slid into the ceiling, the noise grew louder and Rainbow instantly recognized it. The sound of stone and metal grinding together. She quickly descended the stairs, the mystery overwhelming her consciousness.
As she entered the familiar room, she remembered it was typically very dark. She would have needed a unicorn to light the chandeliers above… normally. But this time, it was well-lit. Not by chandeliers or any other traditional source of light, but several bright white continually moving lights from the opposite end of the room. She recognized them instantly. They were the white triangles that she noticed the night before. It was the Ring.
She quickly flew over to the structure, and trotted up the ramp. Rainbow could clearly see the Ring spinning rapidly. She was amazed, astonished and confused. But as the device stopped spinning, all those emotions quickly converted into terror, as a wave of energy resonated from the interior edge of the ring, and blasted straight toward the young pony.
She reacted quickly, her head dipping down as she narrowly avoided the blast. It streamed above her head, and she could feel its destructive energy, passing too close for comfort.
Just as quickly as it appeared, the energy wave settled into the ring. Rainbow slowly shifted her gaze upward to confirm her instincts, and slowly got to her hooves.
Within the ring was a bright white puddle. Almost water-like, if not for the glow it produced, lighting the entire room even brighter than it was before. As she approached the puddle, she stuck her hoof in, to feel it. It didn’t feel wet, if anything, it caused her a bit of pain. As if there was some signal telling her she wasn’t supposed to do this. She pulled her hoof out, and examined it, checking for injuries.
Then, just over her head, something emerged from the puddle with a splash. A small brown sphere flew out, continually buzzing as it moved, and stopped a few feet from where it emerged.
“Woah,” Rainbow said in amazement.
She noticed the sphere spin around. Flapping her wings, she floated over and tried to examine it as closely as she could. One thing that stood out to her, was the map of circles surrounding it, and one particular circle which seemed to be focused on her.
Colonel Young looked at the display before him. “What is that?”
“Well Colonel, sorry to say, I don’t know every alien race at this end of the universe.”
“Sir!” Sergeant Greer and Chloe Armstrong entered behind the Colonel.
“Chloe,” he said. “Just the girl I wanted to see.” He nodded toward the console. “What do you make of this?”
She snuck up next to Rush, and zoomed out on the image. “Looks like a horse.”
“A horse who can fly,” Rush explained.
“Hold on,” she said. “I think it’s trying to talk to us.”
“My name is Rainbow Dash!” the blue pegasus said, hoof to her chest. “What’s yours?”
“You… can’t talk can you?”
“Maybe you’re just stupid-uh, no offence.”
“Should we say something?” Young asked.
“Well what?” Rush responded.
“How about ‘hello’?” offered Greer.
“OOO! OOO! I’ll do it,” went a nearby Kino.
As Rainbow stared awkwardly at the floating metal ball, a series of odd noises came from the device. The weren’t irritating, or familiar, they sounded more like words. But words she did not recognize.
“So you can talk,” she said. “You just can’t understand me.”
“Have the Kino keep an eye on her,” the Colonel ordered. “And shut it down.”
“We need to get the away team together,” he explained to the scientist. “After that, you can go through and talk to the flying space horses, Rush.”
From behind the young pegasus, a loud noise came, and the light was suddenly extinguished, shrouding the room in darkness.
The characters of Fizzypop and Waterfire were created by ItsTheWhinyGuys for his story, Happy Birthday, Fizzypop.