A Lunar Republic
Luna approached the big metal doors that lead to her sister's meeting chamber. The Clydesdale guard stared down at her making no attempt to hide the irritation on his face. She didn't blame him.
“I've told you several times already that no one is to disturb the council while it is in session... your highness,” he told her. The last part came out grudgingly.
“I'm terribly sorry, but you needn't worry about that. I am merely waiting on my sister,” said Luna. Yes, I'm sure she's incredibly busy making grand speeches to the royal council about the power of friendship and how that can win wars, calm the peasants, stop natural disasters, and get us out of debt.
Recently, Luna had been defeated by a group of ponies. She was still baffled by their method of doing so. She had smashed the elements of harmony to bits and yet those six annoying little ponies had still defeated her in the most spectacularly improbable way: The power of friendship and a rainbow. After her guise was thrown from her, she had only seconds to think of a new plan before Celestia came for her. “I'm so sorry... I just missed you so much,” Luna had said. The words tasted like bile in her mouth, but she had to put a show on for her sister and the ponies. She even went so far as to shed a tear for good measure. She didn’t believe Celestia would take the bait, but she did though most likely she was putting on her own show for the ponies.
Getting inside the castle was the only way I could still get revenge even if it meant using the most aggravating methods to gain Celestia's trust. Those six idiots will pay for that humiliation, but only after I'm done with my sweet sister.
However, Celestia wasn't as stupid as she thought. Ever since Luna's arrival the guards had been put on full alert. She was not allowed to attend council sessions or to be seen by any foreign committee sent to meet with the princess and her council regarding international affairs. “Rule together,” she said. What a joke! A small price to pay for sure though. Being a pariah in your own castle meant that it was rare for anyone but the guards to pay attention to you and she was not one for social pleasantries especially not among the foals that supposedly ran the country. “You should go make some of your own friends, Luna.,” Celestia had said. And she had been doing just that. And they are closer to you than you think.
A courier came out of the room and whispered in the guard’s ear. “You may enter now,” said the Clydesdale. She entered the big room.
A giant carpet with a red border and a sun in the center. Just the way father left it...
She had heard rumors that the sun in the carpet was really a trapdoor her father had the staff install in the floor. If the current regent didn't like what you were saying, all they had to do was pull a lever and down you went. It wouldn't surprise her if it were true. Father always liked playing certain... 'pranks.' She wondered if her sister did too.
Celestia was sitting on the solar throne at the top of the steps leading up from the carpet, the royal banners of Canterlot hung on both sides of her and on each side of the court sat the members of the council. Most of them looked rather nervous to see Luna.
“Luna! It's so good to see you,” her sister said in what Luna thought was the most patronizing tone she had ever heard. “Recently, our Grand Inquisitor decided to take a long vacation and I've decided to put you in charge of the Royal Inquisition! Doesn't that sound fun?”
It did sound fun even though it was an obvious ploy to keep her out of the public view. She knew this position would ultimately benefit her though. She certainly had some inquiring to do about events in the castle. Especially about a certain heir to the throne who is supposedly our nephew.
“It does sound fun! I would be glad to be your Grand Inquisitor!” She said very enthusiastically “How long is the old one on vacation?”
“Oh, I wouldn't worry about him coming back anytime this year. You know how long some vacations can be.”
I certainly do!
“I have decided to give you your own royal guard as well! They even have their own color of armor to distinguish them as part of the Lunarian Inquisition. I decided to go with dark blue like your coat and they even have your cutie mark as the sigil on their cloaks,” Celestia said gleefully. “Do you like that name by the way? I thought naming the Inquisition after you was a great way to show my appreciation for all that you've done for me.”
“It's more of an honor than I deserve. Thank you so much, sister!” Luna replied in an equally patronizing tone.
This was good news for Luna indeed. The guards were most likely rats that would report to Celestia on her every move, but at least she still had the power to question whoever she liked. She wondered if her sister knew that and this was all an elaborate plot to catch Luna plotting against her. Actually, that was most likely the case.
No matter, at least I now have access to council meetings.
It wasn't Celestia she intended to talk to in the first place anyways. After everypony else left the room, she followed a gray pony with a brown mane out of the doors: Professor Ion, a middle-aged earth pony had served under Celestia as head of the chemical warfare and pharmaceutical division for two decades. He was none too happy with the regent due to an incident in the underground labs involving her nephew. The Professor had been kind to Luna and had trusted her enough to inform her of the royal court's more unsavory secrets. Luna caught up with him as he entered the courtyard and they trotted side-by-side.
“Lovely day today, Grand Inquisitor,” he said in a hushed voice. “No doubt you are curious about my investigation regarding our charming young Prince.”
“Have you found out if he is illegitimate or if I somehow had another sibling materialize out of thin air to give birth to him?” She asked. Her mother and father were long gone after she had been sealed in the moon so she knew Blueblood's royalty was illegitimate in some way. His sole purpose was to distract the public from the question of who would get the throne when Celestia 'retired.' Of course. the crazy, attention-starved Nightmare Moon who has only brought shame on our good house's name could never truly rule Equestria.
“I just gave the DNA sample to some of the lab colts so we should be able to find out soon if he's even remotely related to anybody in the court. Like I said, most likely he's not a legitimate heir if what you say is true. Still, it won't do you a bit of good since Celestia would catch you before you could make the results known to anyone... assuming this was your goal.” Luna already knew this well. Celestia had eyes and ears everywhere.
“That is all right, I don't intend to make it public yet. Good day to you!” She replied, and trotted off.
The test itself might ultimately prove useless. This was but one of many ways she meant to expose Celestia as a fraud. Never rely on just one plan. Always have several plots to take down your enemy. Father always just had one, that's why he isn't here anymore. She had one thousand years in the moon and one thousand years to think about how to overthrow her sister and for every year she had hatched at least several hundred ways in her mind.
In the dark hall of the Tower of Inquisition Luna and her personal guard were opening the cell door. “This one was found skulking about the royal garden, your highness,” said Vice-Inquisitor Crumblycakes. “We've been giving her a good pie-ing for three day straight. I'm sure you'll have good fun with this one. She was also there next to the knocked out gardener.”
He wasn't knocked out, you moron, he was sleeping. He's always sleeping!
Three nights before, there had been a massive robbery. Someone had broken in, hit several of the guards with pies, and had taken several carton-loads of her majesty's jewels from the vault. Luna had been tasked with finding the thief. The old balding captain of the guard insisted that it must have been a staff-member but what he really meant by this was that he felt insulted that anypony would dare insinuate that his men's ability to guard the castle gates was sub-par. They had one suspect locked up in the tower here.
“Go ahead and see if you can get any information outta this one. Or not. It's always fun just to hear them scream too,” said the Vice-Inquisitor.
Luna entered the dark cell. She scanned each of the Inquisitor’s Tools set up throughout the room: the pie-er which was used to slam pies directly into the victim’s face, then she saw a tickling feather next to a table used to constrain the victim while they thrashed about from the tickling, and on the far right of the room there was the dreaded cotton candy machine which was used to ruin the victim’s mane as they were slowly lowered into the churning pot. The cotton candy machine was almost always used on suspects that the Royal Inquisition brought in from the fashion industry. I think I remember one of the six ponies being a fashion designer. I'll have to remember to bring her here once I topple my sister's regime.
Lying in the corner, trembling, was a young Filly covered with pie crusts and pie filling. Red cherry-pie filling dripped down her face as she sobbed and trembled. “So, what reason do you believe that she has any useful information regarding her majesty's royal jewels?” Asked Luna.
“Well... eh... the gardener was knocked out and she was standing right next to him. I'd say this was a clear attempt at stealthily breaking into the castle and potentially stealing something valuable.”
“I'm the gardener's granddaughter! Granddaddy fell asleep and I was trying to wake him up!” Cried the Filly. “No one listens! Why doesn't anyone listen?”
Luna looked at the torturer incredulously. “A likely story,” Crumblycakes said, his voice cracking from nervousness. “What she probably intended to do was-”
I don’t have time for this. “You're an utter incompetent or you're a madpony and I have no use for either! Lieutenant, unshackle the Filly and take her back to her grandfather. The rest of you take this imbecile down to the lollipop room on the sixth floor.”
“What!? No! NOOOOOOOO!” Crumblycakes screamed and screeched as they dragged the him out of the doorway, his hooves scraping on the hard stone floor as he was taken. I'll get back to him later. He probably doesn't have any useful information, but it might be fun just to hear him scream some more. Most likely he was also one of Celestia's many rats anyhow, maybe now her own guards would take his fate as an example of what happens to rats.
Shivering in her hooded cloak in the rain as she waited for her contact, Luna looked to make absolutely sure she was alone. Someone in the castle could always follow her so she had taken the extra precaution of using the secret castle exit through the mountains while in her cloak. Even then she didn't feel safe. Her eyes and ears are everywhere.
After returning from escorting the Filly home the Lieutenant informed Luna that the gardener wished to meet with her immediately. She dismissed her entourage and had gone alone to his little cottage on the castle grounds. He gave her an envelope without saying a word and then shut the door in her face.
“Everfree Forest, near bat cave, 5 PM. Come alone.” It was most certainly not written in the gardener's handwriting.
She had immediately burned the letter. Before she got back to her chambers to change, Celestia sought her out and insisted that she should co-host the Grand Galloping Gala with her. “It would be so much fun with you there and I really think it would improve your PR,” she had said. “The Wonderbolts will be there and so will my pupil and her friends.”
Yes, that's exactly who I want to see again. Antisocial know-it-all, country bumpkin, klutz, prissy, hyperactive, and passive-aggressive treehugger. Great times we’ve had! Maybe I can show them what I do at my new job.
Luna hated the Grand Galloping Gala. It was a gathering of the richest, most beautiful, most handsome, most elegant, most useless ponies in all of Equestria. All anypony did during the event was listen to boring music, complain about pop-culture, complain about today's youth, complain about ponies complaining, and then complain about ponies complaining about ponies complaining.
That or they would talk about how they had just bought a cruise ship for their filly because the ninety-six foot yacht they had originally purchased was much too small.
“Oh Celestia, I couldn't. I've got so much work to do finding your jewels,” she had told her. That was an admittedly flimsy excuse. “Aw, Luna you don't need to work yourself to death,” Celestia said. “You should take a break to get to know some of our subjects. Plus the Gala's a long ways away. Surely you'll find the jewels before then?”
“We'll see what happens. Either way I appreciate the offer,” Luna said. She resolved to avoid the Gala at all costs but she had to think of a better excuse. Why were they even planning it at this point? It was a good five months away from happening and it wasn't like it was an event that needed much planning: Hire the most overpriced band available, set up a few tables, hang a few decorations from the rafters and be done with it.
“Didn't keep you waitin' did I?” asked a deep voice with a thick cockney accent.
Robbed from her internal musings, Luna turned around quickly to see a cloaked pony. Everything on him was concealed except for his muzzle that stuck out from his hood.
“Are you the one who left the letter?” Luna asked. She could defend herself if he tried to attack her, but she was worried that he had friends hiding in the trees or bushes.
“Old fatty did. None o’ us can say ‘is real name out loud, but there's yer hint and you'll know 'im when ya sees 'im. Or at least who he represents. Y'ever gone spelunking? No? Well, now ya get to learn. Follow me into the cave behind ya and we can get right down to business with the rest of 'em. They'll answer all your questions.” He started towards the cave. “Stay close behind or it might be that you won't be seein' the sun ever again.”
I could certainly live with that!
“Why should I trust you?” She asked.
“Ya should never trust anyone with a hood and a cloak that comes up to meet ya all sneaky-like. But it's not like there's much I can do against one of the most magically powerful ponies in all of Equestria. Ya comin' or not?” He stood at the entrance of the cave tapping his hoof impatiently.
Well, she could take this flea-bitten bum down with her if he was setting up an ambush. At worst, he would lead her somewhere into the cave and trap her there, but where would he have to run from her? The cave looked shallow anyways.
It was not a shallow cave. Inside, it was a gigantic maze of branching stone walkways above a deep chasm.
She followed her contact through a walkway that lead to a network of tunnels that had their own confusing branches. It must have taken them the better part of an hour before they finally reached a big metal door engraved in the stone guarded by two pegasi clad in red armor.
“I put you in trances and do evil dances. Then what shall I do? I gobble you up in a big tasty stew,” said the guard on the right. “What am I?”
“We agreed that we wouldn’t use the stupid password system because it’s flawed,” said the hooded contact irritated. “Let us in, or I’ll tell fatty he needs to warm up the gumball machine because you two were enforcing a security hazard!”
“That is the correct answer,” replied the guard on the right.
The two guards tapped their hooves on the ground at the same time. There was a large rumbling and then the big door opened. She and the contact went straight inside.
She was seated at a table in a dimly-lit room with twelve other ponies. There were also more red-armored guards lined up throughout the room. She was able to spot ‘fatty’ immediately.
“Welcome, princess. It's been a long time since I even seen your face. Though last time I saw it was in some story-book,” said the obese red-coated yellow-maned pegasus with massive jowls sitting across from her.
She didn't recognize fatty, but she could tell just from his cutie mark which famous family he was from: The Salt family, similar to the Apple family, essentially owned the salt industry and had a monopoly on the salt trade and salt harvesting. Literally every major or minor city with a salt bar owed much of its success to the Salt Family.
“Let's get straight to business,” fatty said. “For the last few decades, your sister has been keepin' the captains of industry from expandin' and increasin' profit. It's somethin' we can easily do with more Salt Mines, but she won't have none of it. Can you believe it? We could be more technologically advanced, more prosperous, and more rich and she says no to this because it might violate some code of ethics and nature horseapples I don't give a phooey about. What I mean to say is, I want your sister gone, out, departed, vamoose if you will and, as I understand,” he leaned closer and lowered his voice, “so do you.”
“And just why would you assume this?” Luna asked. I wonder if fatty can still fly.
“Lady, don't tell me you're just gonna to let her get away with givin' you a nice millennium off on the big white rock in the sky. You're blood's boilin' and I can see the hate in your eye. Yeah, that's the look of someone who is sick of livin' in her sister's shadow. We want you to take over this country and begin a new era of ruling.”
Luna thought about it for a minute. Fatty was most certainly just interested in expanding his industry and probably didn’t really care who took the throne for that matter. A hydra could sit the throne and he’d be perfectly happy so long as it didn’t try to regulate the family business.
“What do you have in mind regarding my sister?” Maybe if they all ask her very politely, she will step down, she thought sarcastically.
“I'm glad you asked. First and foremost, you don't need to bother with those eggheads down in the lab. I can assure you Blueblood ain't legit, no way no sir. I have my own family journal recordings to prove where the loveable heir really came from and the best part is my family journals can be released to the public without Celestia comin' after yous.” Luna was liking this already. “But dat's just the tip of the iceberg. You see Celestia is planning to have her 'nephew' marry one of my daughters to mend the relationship between our families. Uh, puttin' da past behind us, know what I'm saying?”
She definitely knew what he was saying. Their dear father had played a 'prank' on the Salt family back in their early days of the industry. The prank involved flooding a few of the Salt's factories with apple-juice. It probably didn’t help the situation that apples were the symbol of their rival family. From thereon after the Salts had made their hatred of the royal bloodline known.
“That's wonderful , but how does this fit into the plan to take Celestia down?” Luna asked.
The green-coated, blue-maned unicorn sitting next to fatty cleared her throat and then spoke,“We'll fill you in on the details of that later, but it involves a few pies flying in the general direction of the Princess. Or, if you're feeling ironic, you could banish her to the sun for a thousand years.” The mare had a voice that made her sound like she was twenty years older than she looked. I think they called her Zinc.
“Blueblood's wedding and his heritage are not coming until much later in the plan anyways. Right now we have to consolidate your power,” Zinc said with icy professionalism.
“I have a lot of ponies watching my every move right now. I don't know how you intend for this to happen,” Luna replied.
Fatty spoke up again: “Got to do this in steps, lady. Dat's why I had my colts steal dem jewels from the castle. I knows of this red dragon who is not too far off from Ponyville. When he smells dem jewels I had my colts plant in a mountain closer to Ponyville, he's gonna go straight to sleepin’ right next to ‘em. His snoring should alarm the locals.”
“And?” Luna asked feeling skeptical of this plan.
It was Zinc's turn to speak, “and then while the ponies are panicking from the smoke build-up, you can sneak into the Everfree forest with 'your' personal guard without anyone noticing. Bring them to the same temple where you broke the Elements of Harmony and lost your power. Our unicorns will take care of the rest.”
“What do you plan to do with my guards?” She asked a little nervously. She wanted to usurp her sister but she wasn’t heartless enough to seriously hurt innocents.
“Oh they'll be perfectly fine. In fact, let's just say we're going to have them go through an upgrade. Now, are you with us?” Asked Zinc.
Some of this plan sounded like it was going to come from the school of make-it-up-as-you-go and that did not sit well with Luna. She had no other allies outside the castle though and while she hated to admit it, she desperately needed external support to take Celestia down. What was the worst that could happen? Another millennium on the moon? Two millenniums? Several eons? What did she care? This group had absolutely no interest in her revenge and fatty probably had no intention of letting her rule with an iron hoof like her sister but they were the only ones who would get her that much closer to it.
“I think it sounds like a plan. So, I will become the new Princess once we dethrone my sister?” Luna asked.
“Prime Minister,” said fatty. “Once you take over, the monarchical system of Equestria goes along with your sister. We'll call it the Lunar Republic.” He unfolded a map of Equestria with the very words printed across it. “How does that sound?”
What it ‘sounded’ like was that she needed to have a heart-to-heart with fatty about the merits of a strong ruler with supreme power. It also meant that she was going to have to get rid of fatty as well since this confirmed that he in no ways intended for her to be anything other than temporarily in power.
She didn’t have time to make a reply because right then two white pegasi that sat across from each other stood up from the table.
“FOR CELESTIA!” They shouted and the pies flew.
Luna ducked under the table as one soared straight over her. Fatty was not as lucky. He was hit with two at the same time right in his sides. He stumbled back from the table as a third pie hit hit him directly in the face and he was down. The guards quickly drew their own pies and pelted the two pegasi with them. They quickly fell to the flurry of pastries.
“Our location has been compromised! Coal, escort Luna back out to the forest. You need to get back to the castle as fast as you can and make sure no one sees you,” Zinc said in a panicked voice.
“What about our plans?” Asked Luna still shaken from the assassins' attempt to pie her.
“They're still in motion. Wait for the smoke to appear above Ponyville and then do as I said,” Zinc shouted as she and the remaining ponies rushed out a door opposite the entrance.
The hooded pony from earlier, apparently named Coal, lead her out the entrance doors and through the maze of tunnels to the entrance of the cave as fast as possible.
Her eyes and ears are everywhere.
At least the problem of what she should do about fatty had resolved itself...
To be continued
(PS: This story was inspired by the fan music, “For the Lunar Republic,” by iamnotacleverpony and the Luna ‘Bide’ Obama poster drawn by Equestria-Election on deviantart.)
Chemicals involving cupcakes, pie-filling, and other types of sugar!