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Mind Games

By Brolkier

Adventure / Fantasy

Tension in the air

Inside the grand hall of the Royal Palace.

As the last of the ponies called upon from Equestria entered the grand hall, Princess Luna used her magic to close the doors behind them.

Apple Jack, Rarity, Braeburn, and the Flim Flam brothers all stood in a line in front of the staircase, while Princess Celestia stood just in front of the first step. Princess Luna remained off to the side of the staircase, an uninterested look on her face.

“I’d like to thank all of you for coming to Canterlot on such short notice.” Princess Celestia greeted the other ponies in the room.

“No trouble at all Princess! So what’s all the fuss about then?” Apple Jack asked.

“Yes indeed Princess.” Flim spoke.

“Did you learn of something new since your visit?” Flam added.

Princess Celestia looked around the room, deciding the best way to tell everypony the news.

“I’ll be honest and straightforward with all of you. Last night, an unknown group of ponies broke into the Royal Palace, and abducted Queen Chrysalis.” Princess Celestia told the ponies.

“What!?” Everypony exclaimed together.

“I’m afraid so. What started off as a misunderstanding, escalated into a full-fledged ponynapping of Queen Chrysalis. Of all the ponies that were involved with the events last night, two of them have already been secured.” Princess Celestia responded. “I’m sorry to say, but it appears that Fluttershy was one of the ones involved last night, Braeburn.” Princess Celestia addressed the stallion.

“But why?” Braeburn asked.

“She aided the remaining ponies in their escape, and assaulted my sister in the process. While we do not know if she was directly involved or not, she is still being held until her name can be cleared.” Princess Celestia replied.

“Fluttershy…” Braeburn spoke, drooping his head.

“So then, what is it that you request from us, your highness?” Rarity asked.

“I have called all of you here in the hopes of clearing yourselves, as well as those associated with you, so that we may narrow down whom the possible culprits are.” Princess Celestia replied.

“Are you suggesting that my sister and I, as well as Mayor Mare and Derpy were responsible for the ponynapping of Queen Chrysalis!?” Rarity responded, shocked.

“No, not at all. This is just a precaution, to ensure everypony’s innocence.” Princess Celestia replied.

Apple Jack looked around the room, at the other ponies whom had arrived with her, and noticed one particular group of ponies missing.

“Uh, say your highness. Where exactly is Spitfire from Cloudsdale, or any Pegasus for that matter?” Apple Jack asked.

“I’m afraid that is another point which I wish to bring up as well.” Princess Celestia replied to Apple Jack. “Along with the events within the palace last night, there was also an altercation that occurred in Cloudsdale as well. From what I’ve been able to gather, and by their lack of presence here, I believe something may have happened to the Wonderbolts.” Princess Celestia spoke, giving a slight glance towards her sister.

“So that’s what that light show up in the sky was about last night.” Flim spoke.

“Indeed. The Wonderbolts must have gotten involved with somepony up there.” Flam added.

“Not quite.” Princess Celestia responded, causing confused looks on all the ponies’ faces. “The other pony that was apprehended last night was Wonderbolts trainee, Soarin. Also, one of the ponies that escaped last night was Wonderbolts member, Rainbow Dash.”

“But how can that be? The Wonderbolts have always been loyal to the Queen. Who could have caused them to betray her majesty like this?” Rarity asked.

“Yeah! This tastes like sour apples to me! We should go looking for the Wonderbolts!” Apple Jack exclaimed.

“I’m afraid that the Wonderbolts are not our main focus right now. While it would be a great success to find their whereabouts, our main goal should be to find Queen Chrysalis and the ponies responsible for her abduction.” Princess Celestia replied.

“But who else was involved?” Rarity asked.

“The only other suspects that we know of at this time are: Trixie Lulamoon, a purple Unicorn, and her pet dragon.” Princess Celestia responded.

“Purple Unicorn and pet dragon…” Apple Jack, Rarity, and Braeburn muttered to themselves.

“So then, what needs to be done in order to prove our innocence then?” Flim asked.

“Yes, and when can we start looking for Queen Chrysalis?” Flam added.

“What I believe will be the most efficient method, is a statement from a third-party, or physical evidence that can prove that none of you were near Canterlot last night.” Princess Celestia answered.

A thought appeared in Apple Jack’s mind, due to her being reminded of the group of ponies she had encountered last night. One of which being a creature that wasn’t present as well.

“Uh, pardon me Princess, but Ah just remembered. Where’s Zecora anyhow? Ah saw her last night in her shack in the Everfree forest, as well as Fluttershy, Braeburn, Rarity, Mayor Mare, and a couple ’a fillies.” Apple Jack told the Princess.

“Is this true?” Princess Celestia asked Rarity.

“Indeed so, Princess. Myself, Mayor Mare, and my sister, Sweetie Belle, all visited Zecora’s shack last night in the hopes to clear up some confusion that had transpired earlier.” Rarity replied.

“There is another that lives with you as well, correct?” Princess Celestia asked.

“Yes, your highness. Although, while I cannot vouch for Derpy never leaving, I can assure you that she would never do such a thing as ponynapping.” Rarity responded.

Princess Celestia thought the statement over, before responding to it.

“Very well, I will accept that.” Princess Celestia replied, before turning to Braeburn. “And what about you?”

“Huh? Me, Princess?” Braeburn replied.

“Yes. What were you and Fluttershy doing at Zecora’s last night?” Princess Celestia asked.

“We were trying to make our way to Sugarcube Corner, after leaving Town Hall in Ponyville, but we got lost. I figure we were the confusion that Rarity just talked about.” Braeburn replied.

“Ah can honestly say that they were there. Ah offered to guide them to Sugarcube Corner, as soon as Ah found mah missing apples; which Ah never did find.” Apple Jack added on, an annoyed look on her face upon remembering about her apples.

“It’s true your highness. Their being at Town Hall yesterday was what caused our confusion. We had hoped that Zecora might be able to shed some light on the situation, with her being, you know, mysterious and everything.” Rarity replied.

Princess Celestia thought upon the new information that she had just received, before questioning further.

“Why then was it that Fluttershy assisted in helping the ponies escape, and assaulted my sister?” Princess Celestia asked.

“Zecora had some kind of vision that there was trouble in Canterlot, and Fluttershy zipped out the door.” Braeburn explained.

Apple Jack and Rarity both nodded their heads in agreement to what Braeburn had just told the Princess.

Princess Celestia considered the explanation, but thought that something still didn’t seem right.

“While I do not doubt the word of two third-parties, I am rather skeptical in believing that Fluttershy would actually stick her neck out for another pony. All due respect to your friend Braeburn, but you should know better than anypony how she normally acts and treats others.” Princess Celestia replied.

“I agree Princess Celestia, and I still find it really strange why she may have done it; but it doesn’t change the fact that she rushed off without knowing what she was getting herself into!” Braeburn replied.

Princess Celestia thought on Braeburn’s response, before bringing up another issue.

“I shall consider what you’ve said for after this meeting has been concluded, but can any of you explain why Zecora isn’t here now?” Princess Celestia asked.

“Ah’m afraid Ah can’t, Princess. Ah left before things must’ve finished up there.” Apple Jack replied.

“What about you two?” Princess Celestia addressed Braeburn and Rarity.

“I left early as well.” Braeburn answered.

“I believe ‘I’ have an answer, your highness.” Rarity replied.

“Really, and what is that?” Princess Celestia asked.

“As my sister, Mayor Mare, and I were in the process of leaving, we were confronted, and I believe Zecora was attacked by Princess Luna.” Rarity explained, pointing a hoof to the other princess.

Everypony, including Princess Celestia, was shocked at the statement Rarity had just made. Princess Celestia couldn’t believe that such an accusation could be made about her sister, but at the same time, she couldn’t dismiss it given her sister’s actions as of late.

“Is this true, Luna?” Princess Celestia asked her sister.

“She speaketh lies dear sister. Perhaps the zebra slept in, and her associate got lost in the forest.” Princess Luna responded.

“But we saw you barge in, and then change into that hideous form! You threatened Zecora with nightmares, and I’m sure poor Applebloom will be having them for a while as well! She didn’t look like she slept at all last night.” Rarity responded.

“Please, I will handle any questioning of my sister from here on out! I do not want any fighting going on while we are already in a dire situation.” Princess Celestia exclaimed, looking back and forth between her sister and Rarity.

“So what about us then, Princess Celestia?” Flim spoke up, after remaining quite for so long.

“That’s right. You visited us last night, and we thought we had already proven our innocence.” Flam added.

“It should be obvious we I stand with you two, but you must still remain.” Princess Celestia replied to the brothers.

Having heard enough to strain her mind, and realizing that tensions were beginning to boil in the room, Princess Celestia decided to end the chaos for now.

“Now, I think that should be enough for me to determine that everypony in this room was not involved in the events last night.” Princess Celestia told the group. “However, Rarity.”

“Yes, your highness?” Rarity replied.

“I’m sorry, but if you are indeed sheltering Applebloom, then I must ask that you bring her here for me to speak with her as well.” Princess Celestia told Rarity.

“But Princess Celestia, she’s still in shock! I’m sure of it! She may not be able…” Rarity began to explain, before being cut-off.

“I understand, and I apologize, but I need to be sure. I promise it won’t take long.” Princess Celestia replied.

Rarity thought about the request, but realized that it had to be done.

“Ye…yes your highness. I’ll escort her here myself if necessary.” Rarity responded, a concerned and worried look on her face.

“Thank you Rarity. I’m sorry to ask of such a thing from you, and especially Applebloom, but it is of the upmost importance.” Princess Celestia replied.

Rarity nodded her head in agreement, not wanting to say anything else.

Princess Celestia then turned to the rest of the ponies once more.

“Now, what I require from the rest of you is your cooperation in the search for Queen Chrysalis, and the apprehension of the remaining ponies.” Princess Celestia told the group.

“I’m assuming there aren’t any leads on either of them?” Flim asked.

“Unfortunately, no. We don’t know if Queen Chrysalis or the other ponies are even within the borders of Equestria any longer, but I must ask for your help in checking everywhere we can, before escalating our search to further lands.” Princess Celestia replied.

“You don’t suppose that any of them might be up in the sky, like Cloudsdale for example?” Apple Jack asked.

“I don’t believe so, no. While Cloudsdale is indeed isolated in the sky, there aren’t many places where any of them could be hidden, without standing out. The Queen is easily recognizable, and the Unicorn and her dragon would require a constant spell to remain up there for too long.” Princess Celestia replied.

“So where are we supposed to start looking then?” Braeburn asked.

“My sister, Discord, and I will continue searching all of Canterlot. I ask that the rest of you search your respective homes, and then spread from there. Seek help where you can.” Princess Celestia answered.

“Yes, your highness.” All of the ponies responded in agreement.

“I’d like to thank all of you for coming to this meeting, and I wish you all luck in your endeavors.” Princess Celestia told the ponies. However, before everypony could leave, she called on one to stay. “Braeburn, would you mind waiting a moment, please?”

“Uhh, yes Princess.” Braeburn replied, confused.

“I know that you care for the safety of your friend, Fluttershy, but I trust that you realize the precautions that we’re taking to ensure everypony’s safety. I’ll do my best to have her released as soon as possible, but for now I ask that you please focus on the task at hoof.” Princess Celestia told Braeburn.

“Yes, your highness. I understand.” Braeburn responded, before taking his leave from the room.

Princess Celestia waited a moment, after the grand hall doors had been shut, before speaking to her sister.

Luna had already started making her way up the staircase, when her sister began speaking.

“What do you have to say for yourself, Luna?” Celestia asked her sister.

Luna ignored her sister’s words, and continued walking up the stairs.

“Luna! I thought you were going to pursue the ponies from Cloudsdale and nothing more!?” Celestia yelled up to her sister.

Luna stopped walking up the steps, but neither responded, nor turned to her sister.

“You said you were fine!? What’s gotten into you!? You’ve never acted this way! Where’s my loving little sister? Why can’t you return to normal?” Celestia asked her sister, tears beginning to form in her eyes.

Luna remained silent for a moment, before finally responding to her sister.

“…We cannot forget.” Luna replied.

“What?” Celestia replied, confused at her sister’s words.

“Something deep within the confines of our mind is telling us that we must not forget that day.” Luna replied.

“What are you talking about, Luna?” Celestia asked.

Luna finally turned to face her sister, a serious look in her eyes.

“We shan’t let anypony escape our eternal night.” Luna replied, black slits in her eyes.

“Luna…” Celestia spoke softly.

“Her majesty is still missing. Do you truly think we have the time for thou to be lecturing us, sister?” Luna spoke, her eyes returning to normal.

“I suppose not, but…” Celestia began to reply.

“Then let us make haste, and continue our search.” Luna replied to her sister, before turning and making her way up the rest of the stairs. Once at the top, she proceeded through the double doors, and closed them with her magic.

“Dearest sister, there must such be darkness in your heart. I only hope that you do not succumb to it.” Celestia thought to herself.

Celestia then made her way past the upper staircase, and towards one instead going down. She hopped that by now, Fluttershy had come around from her cold experience, as she descended to the dungeons below.

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