Twilight Sparkle: War is Necessary
Arms swaying at her sides, occasionally brushing against her skirt, a woman walked down an organized, clean hall way. Her head held up high, she walked with purpose. With each step the heels of her boots made contact with the pale gold marble floor to let out a sharp and authoritative click. Her demeanor did not waste it's presence for each person she passed either greeted her politely or stood at attention until she was several steps ahead. By now she had come to acknowledge the reactions, hardly noticing them, much different from when she first received such respect, which had left her flustered and embarrassed.
Still, nothing escaped her wandering gaze. Should one of the men linger too long in the hallway or a group of woman giggle amongst themselves to loudly (or if they giggled at all dependent on her mood), she was quick to make her existence known without a single utterance, perhaps an annoyed clearing of the throat if her underlings were slow to notice. Behavior was essential under this roof, obedience was unquestionable. The only way for a perfect world to exist was, in a nutshell, through these methods. One day all would understand this.
Today, the castle was quiet. No, quiet would not be the right use of the words. Peaceful. The gentle hum of quiet talk, the steady shuffling of papers, the rhythm of the woman's boots on the hard floor brought a sense of calm over it inhabitants.
"Oh, Twilight, my dear~!" Rang out a singsong voice.
The woman turned and she allowed a small smile to form on her features. Rarity stood before her dressed neatly in her fashionable white uniform, her hair beautifully curled and her make-up done with expertise that would make any MUA cry.
"Good morning, Rarity." She responded, silently thankful for the familiarity her friend addressed her with.
Her only friend.
"My goodness, Twilight!" Rarity said, her thick, full lashes sweeping over Twilight's figure as she reached out and took her hands. "You look absolutely exhausted, my darling! Have you not slept well?"
"...and your hair! Oh! You have not been treating is with proper care!"
"Rarity, you see I have-"
"My! I can see you are also starting to get bags under your eyes! Darling, what have you been doing to yourself?"
Twilight remained silent until she was sure her inspector was finished.
"You see, Rarity," She continued, brushing her hair behind her ear. "I've been looking over the residents of Ponyville and-"
Rarity clicked her tongue. "That old place? I'm surprised the house are still standing after all it been through," Her face twisted ever so slightly into an expression of disgust as she spat out the next words. "especially now that... P.A.R.T.Y. has taken over the poor village."
"Life here in Canterlot is so much more suited for you and me but, still, I can't help but feel nostalgic and miss the old times in that simple place
do you ever miss it my dear Twilight?"
Twilight's face hardened. "No, never"
For the briefest of seconds Rarity appeared hurt but if she had been she quickly composed her features.
"As I was saying," Twilight said. "I've been checking around to see if any of the residents...."
"Captain Rarity!" Came a voice as a young man stood at attention upon seeing his superior. "Grand Admiral Sparkle!" He continued when he caught noticed of Twilight.
"At ease solider." Rarity said, waving her hand lazily in his direction. "Well, Twilight, it's been fun but duty calls!"
With that she rounded the corner, following after the young soldier.
Twilight gave a tired smile in the direction her friend had disappeared. Her only friend left.
Ponyville had lost its color and the cheery demeanor it had once boasted had melted and burned like the scorch marks that littered its surfaces. The streets were torn up, with no one willing to re-pave them or to at least adjust the stones back into place. Buildings looked as though they would collapse at any moment, their color faded and paint chipped. No one sold flowers in the street as they once did and the shop that once belonged to Rose, Daisy and Lily was long abandoned, its windows boarded up.
People caught sight of Twilight and her two escorts, easily recognizable in their Solar Empire military uniforms. Some stared longer than others, but in the end they either looked away or hurried off in another direction. The painful sight had long lost its effects on the Admiral. Instead she focused beyond Ponyville, her goal was not here.
With her escorts in tow, Twilight walked across the village, people scurrying out of the way. Despite the unevenness of the road, she did not trip or stumble, each step as confident as it had been in Canterlot. She did not seek the village of Ponyville or its residents. She sought the last place an imperial would want to go, into enemy territory. Into the Everfree forest. Twilight glanced behind her to see that both her companions had placed a weary hand on the guns at their hips. Without a moment's hesitation she placed her foot beyond the boundary.
The forest was dark, the air moist and heavy. Despite the fact that the sun had withdrawn behind the grey clouds for the past several months, light still found a way to push through the thick canopy and leave shimmering spots on the damp earth. The moss had grown thick and vicious in its mission to overtake every living, and dead, item within its growing reach. Leaves rustled and shadows flickered. Off in the distance a bird sang a haunting melody. The forest was alive in ways that the populated world around it wasn't. Here plants grew, animals survived and weather changed without the help of anyone or anything other than themselves. Yet it thrived and breathed as easily as a developing child.
Very few would choose to live in the Everfree Forest but for some there was nothing unnatural about the way it carried itself. Especially for those who did not originate from the surrounding land.
The sight of the hut swept a fleeting nostalgic feeling over Twilight. The graceful tree that made up its walls. The way the foliage hung over the thick branches, next to the strange charms. The foreign masks of a distant land the decorated the exterior. Even the familiar smells of steaming herbs that floated out the windows and seemed linger around the strange home. It was all the same as before. Even the inviting call that seemed to accompany the aroma was still there. Then as quickly as the moment had come, it passed and Twilight was left feeling as cold and withdrawn as before.
She approached the door and sharply rapped on the door. There was silence. Twilight raised her hand to try again.
"I know why you have come, my dear old friend." Came a deep rhythmic voice through the door. "But I fear that old bonds you have not come to mend."
"Open the door, Zecora. I want to speak with you."
"Give me a reason to open my door, for this is not a simple visit as before."
"I have two well trained guards with me." Announced Twilight. "In the name of the Solar Empire, I demand that you open the door or I shall have them break it down!"
There was a soft click and the door swung open silently. Zecora did not cower as many others had done when Twilight came to their door. She stood proud and strong, towering a head taller than the Admiral. Her skin was as dark as the damp earth beneath their feet, her clothing simple in their design. Zecora look at Twilight with her deep blue eyes, scanning her uniform, her posture, her expression, then softened as they did before when the Admiral had just been a curious girl from Ponyville.
"Twilight Sparkle, much you have changed." She said, her voice gentle. "Yet I see not the you people call deranged."
Twilight's expression hardened. "I am Grand Admiral of an entire military force and you will address me as such."
"Fine, Grand Admiral, if that is how you wish to be seen, but speak of why you have broken from your routine."
"I'll be frank, Zecora," Twilight began, tossing her hair over her shoulder. "Whose side are you on? You live in the territory of the Republic but I have no records of you aiding them in any way."
"I continue remain neutral and free," Zecora stood taller. "For no goal or belief will have power over me."
"But before you continue let me say this, of the two armies the higher one is amiss. For the wrong of your ways if you do not admit, shall bring your downfall and many with it."
Twilight's temper flared.
"How dare you speak to me as if I am a child! It is you who is amiss! Do you not see the world around you!? Do you not see how desperately it needs out guidance?! Our leadership?! We shall bring forth a new future, a brighter future! A new era of peace and order! One where suffering and crime is a thing of the past and where everyone is in their rightful place in the world!"
Zecora stepped back from Twilight, her face shocked and hurt. She put a hand to her chest and dropped her gaze.
"So it is true what they say, you have gone and fallen astray." She said quietly. "You walk forward blind of those beneath your feet, instead you look up for guidance from face of deceit."
Twilight composed herself.
"It's a mere matter of cultural differences I suppose." She brushed off her sleeve. "However your ideals are a danger that I don't want spreading to the neighboring towns."
Twilight nodded to one of the guards. He reached forward and grabbing Zecora's forearm yanked her from her doorway out onto the earthen ground. The woman struggled to stand but stopped when the guard drew a pistol from his belt and aimed it at her forehead. Twilight motioned to the other guard.
"Burn her house down."
Zecora's eye widened as she began to yell in her native tongue. Undaunted, the guard struck a match and held it to the dry wood of one of the mask. The fire leapt to the surface and hesitated. For a moment it was as though it would fizzle and die but then it burst to life and the mask was engulfed. Tears began to streak down Zecora's dark cheeks as the fire caught the tree, her home. Forgetting the gun, she rushed to her feet and towards her burning home. Dismayed, as if realizing there was nothing she could do, she sunk to her knees and let out a wail.
Twilight pulled the brim of her hat down, shielding her skin against the heat.
"Take this as a warning, Zecora." She said. "Do not spread your ideals to others. Instead, I want to you run."
Zecora looked up at her, eyes red and puffy.
"Run to the Republic." Twilight continued. "Tell them what happened, ask them for protection. They will give it."
The woman dropped her gaze. She stared at her dark palms before looking back up slowly.
"Separated and broken you will be," She chanted, as if in a trance. "You will lead her to damning victory."
Twilight turned from the scene of the woman before the burning tree. She did not doubt that Zecora would follow her instructions. With her guards in toe she left the without a second glance or feelings of remorse. There was no time for such when the future was dependent on your every action. She needed to keep a good focused head on her shoulders. After all, the world needed leaders and she was one of those leaders.
Twilight slowed her pace. It was quiet. Too quiet. There was no rustling through the leaves, no eerie bird songs, not even the soft whistling of wind. The day was coming to an end and the pockets of light were growing fainter. She clutched her left fist and felt her guards tense behind her, understanding the signal. They continued walking; keep their features as blank as possible. They're ears were open, however, their sense heightened.
They're here, Twilight thought.
The silence was broken and filled with the sounds of war. The guards had drawn and aimed before anyone could so much as blink. Stunned by their failure, the Republic scouts were slow to react but when they were ready to aim, Twilight had swung her arm in an arc above her head, her finger tips glowing with the Magician mark under her left eye. A sphere of blue light formed around the trio and the oncoming bullets bounced off its liquid like surface. The dark forest was illuminated now by the flashes of gunfire and the unnerving glow of the power-shield. Twilight raised her hand again, this time straight in the air. Crackling energy began to form around the sphere, spinning and gaining speed. Her open palm began to glow brightly and pulsate. Then the energy froze and for that moment all was silent. Twilight curled her fingers into a fist.
The sound was deafening as the energy exploded and shot out in raging currents toward the dark trees, seeking out the hidden pray. The fire had ceased and was replaced by strangled screams. It wouldn't kill them, but it would make them think twice about attacking any one member of the Solar Empire. The energy dissipated and Twilight waited. Somewhere in the distance someone called a retreat. Still she waited. Silence befell the forest again, with only the sound of quiet shuffling here and there. Finally, a single strand of the electric like energy returned to Twilight's waiting palm, signaling that the opposing force was no longer a threat. With a sigh, she dropped the shield. Her companions were unharmed as was she. There was a reason she was in charge of the Solar Empire militia. Within the ranks there was only one who is more skilled in magic than herself and that was the Princess Celestia.
The sun was setting over Ponyville, giving the broken village a soft orange coloring. No one was in the streets anymore, only shadows in the windows. Normally, Twilight would continue on without stopping until she was back in Canterlot, but something caused her to pause. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught sight of the library, her old home. The leaves were gone, the branches scraggly and burnt black. All the windows were shattered and broken. The door lay in splinters, the hinges the only part left standing. Even the balcony was a disaster, the railing almost all gone with a hole straight through the wooden floor.
None of these things are what made Twilight stop. Instead her eye had been caught by graffiti that had not been there hours earlier. In bright yellow and red paint that had begun to drip down the tree trunk it read: YOU BETTER PRAY YOUR SIDE WINS, TWILIGHT!!! The message was signed by a simple painted cupcake.
A shiver slide down her spine and Twilight bit her lip. As if reading the Admiral's thoughts, laughter started to echo through the streets. It was a high, crazed sound, void of all joy or positive emotion. It seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere at once, echoing from the inside out, as if the source rested within her very soul. Twilight caught sight of a shadowy form on a nearby wall. Instantly she, along with her companions, spun around toward the building directly behind them, only to find the sun setting over the crumbling tiled roof.