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The newly risen moon had a soft silver glow that lit up the edges of the few clouds that occupied the sky this night. They were thin wisps of clouds, slowly floating across the sky where a great myriad of the stars still glittered like metallic dust on a velvet dress. The very look of it all was why Luna loved the night so much. It was calming and gentle, and the moon itself so serene- a serenity she could not quite know for herself. Maybe someday she would, but not now.

 

The castle itself was starting to quiet as most ponies began to settle down for the late evening, and there was something about the air of it that Luna found particularly dull. Dull enough that she chose to leave it, when she scarcely had as much to do as Celestia did during the day. It left her free to head out into the night sky, rising up around the spires of the castle, avoiding falling into the same old habits that seemed to have been following her almost every night. Luna always tried to do something to keep both her boredom and her thoughts at bay, always turning her mind towards something else to focus on, like flying or attempting to change out the lavender in the castle almost every night. She felt less inclined to do so these days, for certain reasons that still followed her despite the situation itself having been resolved.

 

The dark alicorn's flight brought her up towards the golden-domed observatory. Luna hardly needed a telescope to view her night sky, but she knew it was there for those who'd want to study it. It was a place she hadn't visited in quite some time or.. ever, if she could even recall it amidst everything she'd had to deal with with Celestia. It would be something new again for her to venture into just as something to do. Landing outside the door along the outside, Luna moved into the dimness of the observatory room, only lit by the light of the moon that came through the wide gap in the ceiling the telescope protruded through. She navigated easily enough by that scant light, her wings slightly held aloft as she looked around at the round room with curiosity.

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The night and stars were on full display up in the Canterlot sky without a cloud in the sky to obstruct the full moon. The light from the moon cascaded down upon the land, bright enough to illuminate the entire sky to a perfect shade of indigo violet. With the air as crisp as it was, thanks to Canterlot being on the side of a mountain, it was easy to get a full view of the stars from any telescope. For Ice Storm though, she didn't have to settle for just any old Telescope. She had a key to the observatory that housed the best telescope ever built. It was likely built by the princess herself. It was the telescope in the royal observatory, that also was connected to a library of star charts. Something that she always found fascinating.

 

The stroll through Canterlot to get to the castle was uneventful, other than being a little bit more chilled around her than it was in the rest of Canterlot just from the ambient energy from her Opalus Spheres that at the moment were resting inside a small necklace that she had specifically made to house them when she wasn't using their power. When she needed them, they would simply break away from the necklace and orbit her as normal but this make walking around with them less imposing on others. It did have the side effect of cooling the air a bit, but hey, she was an ice pony. The cold never bothered her anyway.

 

The walk through the castle to the observatory was just as quiet as most of the ponies that were there for Celestia's shift had left and the only ponies that were left were the night guards. Most of them at this point knew Ice by name as she was here a couple of times a week, at least when she was in Canterlot. It was one thing that she always made sure to make time for. Stargazing was one of her oldest hobbies that stemmed back to before everything. She remembered when she first came to Canterlot the first time and how difficult things had been and how she would always look to the stars and the moon for guidance. Luna in more ways than one was directly responsible for the mare that she had become today.

 

She was kind of upset that between the two of their schedules that they hadn't been able to find any time to meet up or go over much of any of the points of interests that she had found in the stars ever since they met several years ago and Luna first gave her access to the observatory. When she reached the observatory, she lifted the key up that she had been given and with a click turned the lock and opened the door, making sure to lock it behind her. That way ponies couldn't get in that weren't supposed to be here. She figured if they were allowed in, they would also have a key like she did. In her efforts to make sure that the door was relocked, she was still unaware of the other presence in the room with her.

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Princess Luna wandered further into the round observatory room, moving around the telescope and its base. It wasn't particularly dusty, nor could she feel it hadn't gone unused. It was a comforting thought, at least, if her feelings could be trusted.

 

Stepping around to the front of the telescope, just below the wide gap in the ceiling it protruded through towards the stars, Luna gazed up at what she could see of the night sky now. The clouds seem to have either moved on, or faded away, because the sky was clearer now. The moon shone bright without anything to mask her face, and the constellations scattered among the stars themselves were easier to pick out against the velvety darkness. How anypony could see the night as terrifying was beyond her, when all it had ever been to her was gentle and comforting..

 

The alicorn stiffened, hearing the soft click of a key in a lock and a door opening up. It had to be the one that lead into the castle, rather than out onto the landing like the one she'd used. There couldn't be many, if any, ponies who had a key to this place beyond herself, possibly her sister and.. well, she couldn't know who else beyond one pony. Luna quietly stepped around the telescope's base, circling back around the other side and into the dimness of the room. The only evidence that she was there was the stars in her mane gently twinkling in and out of existence every time her mane or tail moved.

 

Luna could see a ponyesque shape in the darkness, but she couldn't pick out who exactly it was. Only that she could feel a faint coldness. "Who is there?" the princess queried abruptly, seeking this mysterious arrival's identity.

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Ice Storm nearly jumped out of her hooves when she heard a voice behind her. She could have sworn that she read on the dossier that the observatory was free tonight. She wondered if perhaps somepony else had saw that too. Did she forget to fill her name in? It was likely. She had a habit of that. When Ice Storm turned around to look in the direction of the voice, she saw a long flowing mane with stars twinkling in it. AS dark as it was in the room, it was possible that she just didn't realize who it was. If it wasn't for Luna's mane, she wouldn't have guessed that it was the princess of the night that was in the observatory either.

 

"Oh, Princess Luna, I didn't know that you would be by tonight, I would have prepared a report or two about some of the interesting things I've discovered recently. Nothing major, but interesting never the less," she told her realizing that she never answered the question that Luna had asked her. "Oh, it's Ice Storm. Not entirely shocked that you don't remember me. It's been a while since we've had time to sit down and speak considering how busy I've been, and I'm sure how busy you've been. I can really only imagine how busy the life of a princess can be and all the responsibility that goes with it," she replied. Ice knew a lot about great responsibility. After all, with great power, came great responsibility. And because of the gifts from Swift Squall, she definitely had a source of great power. She began to walk a bit deeper into the observatory before placing some of the star charts that she had onto the table. It was actually part of the interesting discover that she had come across. By using the star charts and the telescope, and using the coordinates that were presented, she was able to find something within the void of space there that... she really couldn't figure out. It was both light and dark at the same time.

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Luna glimpsed a flutter of movement, the kind only ever made by a pony who'd been startled. At any other time, she might have found it mildly amusing to have surprised somepony, but now was not the time. It wasn't that she thought a pony managing to get in here was up to no good- she just had a healthy suspicion of most. Her first impression of the pony when they replied told her that they might be a mare by the sound of the voice, and her following thought was: that voice sounds oddly familiar.

 

The dark princess took a few steps further towards the middle of the room, trying to figure it out until the name that was given helped everything click back into place. Ice Storm. There wasn't a whole lot she remembered beyond a few specifics, but Luna did know that she'd spoken with this pony, and might have even allowed her access here.

 

"Ah, Ice Storm. I.. remember you, somewhat. It has been quite some time since we've last spoken. I have been busy, albeit not as much as my sister often is during the day. I've mostly spent my time managing the dream realm, as well as every threat that decides to rear its head and attempt to conquer Equestria. I suppose it says something about our kingdom when so many covet it." Luna's voice held a musing tone to it and the silvery-blue light of her magic flared to life around her horn. It provided some illumination while she worked on brightening the room a little, lighting a few sconces set on the walls with soft blue flames. Enough to see by. Of course, she could be misjudging how well Ice Storm could see in it.

 

Luna moved towards the table the other mare had approached and looked over the star charts Ice Storm placed down with a curious eye. "Despite our busy schedules, however, I believe we may have the time to catch up now. What are these interesting things you speak of?" She couldn't judge by the star charts, nor did she felt she needed them when they were only illustrations of her own stars that now hung over them in the sky.

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"Indeed, far too long, princess. I can say at least I know what it's like to be dealing with the threats to Equestria. Just an occupational hazard of my primary profession now," She told the princess. She wasn't sure how much the princess knew about the agencies she was working for to help keep Equestria safe and she was certainly hoping that she hadn't heard of the new force that she was working on building. It would be simple enough to explain if she were asked, but she wasn't sure if the princess would see things the same way that she did. Having seen front line combat several times, she felt like she knew that she was on the correct path to keep Equestria safe. "After what happened with the invasion of the Crystal Empire, I understood that while my talent was ice, my destiny was to protect others. So that's what I've been doing. That said I have to agree. It says wonders how you and your sister preside over everything, if everypony else seems to want a piece of the pie, so to say," Ice continued as a few of the scones lit up in the observatory providing them with a bit more light.

 

Ice's coat stood out in bright contrast to the darker coated princess. The ambient blue flames of the scones deepening the saturation of blue that was being shown from the already blue ponies. When she heard the princess say that she believed that she had time now to catch up now, despite their busy schedules. She asked about the interesting things that she had found and started unraveling the charts. "Well, I was looking these over, and was using the telescope to get a better look at the eponine sector. I wanted to try to get the best view of the chart that I could and while I was moving from planet to planet, I noticed something weird, that wasn't in the charts at these coordinates here," she said pointing down to a light x that she made on the chart that she could readily remove if it turned out to be nothing. There were several times that she had thought that she had found something only for it to disappear the next time she tried to look for it. "I can't really describe what it was, but it was really, really dark, but at the same time it was shooting light from it. I've never seen anything like it before. It was like staring straight into the void," Ice Storm said. she had a few ideas on what they could be, but some things didn't line up with what she read.

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Princess Luna made an interested noise in her throat. Occupational hazard of my primary profession now. She puzzled over that particular sentence, trying to remember if Ice Storm ever told her about this profession of hers or not. It was difficult to sift through the memories, especially those that were hazy and most of their conversations lost to time. She was curious about this attack on the Crystal Empire, but she chose to withhold her questions for now. "It is a worthy cause, to be the one to stand up and protect those who cannot protect themselves," Luna quietly put in, solemn. "My sister and I originally accepted the title of princess because we wished to be Equestria's guardians, to preside over it and aid the three tribes. Not as rulers. It is unfortunate that one event has caused all of that to change."

 

She was, of course, referring to one event in particular, but there was no use to bring it up or dwell. Luna was far more interested in whatever Ice Storm found among the stars.

 

The alicorn stepped up to eye the star charts and the location of the small x. Frowning faintly, she glanced up towards Ice Storm, puzzled. "Something dark that gives off light? It sounds odd. The only thing that comes to mind visually is that of an eclipse, which I highly doubt is the case here." Luna moved away, heading towards the telescope. "Do you think you can find it again? I would like it if you can show me so that I might help determine what it could be." A wing lifted to gesture. She knew how to use a telescope, but this one.. not so much. "It does, however, sound troubling. I have never heard of such a thing before, nor seen it."

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Ice Storm nodded to the princess and kept quiet as she talked about how protecting others was a worthy cause. Especially the ones that couldn't protect themselves. It was why she did what she did after all If you have the means to stand up for someone, it just makes sense to do so. She also didn't question the event that she spoke of. She really didn't need to. Ice wanted to comment on it and let the princess know that no pony judged her for what happened, but she knew that she would only be speaking for herself and opening wounds that would better be left sealed. No sense in bringing it up and darkening the situation with it. She did however want the princess to feel like she could trust her. It was her experiences as Nightmare Moon that pushed her forward in her younger years after all. How despite everything she was still able to ultimately pull herself together and be able to stand in front of her today. AS long as Ice breathed, she would make sure that did not change.

 

Something that did puzzle her, was the fact that Princess Luna also seemed to be confused as to what her discovery could be. She repeated the characteristics that she had mentioned to her in confirmation and Ice nodded to each one. When she said that the only thing that came to mind was an eclipse Ice shook her head only to hear Luna's following words confirmed that she also didn't think that was what she was describing. She asked her if she thought that she could find it again, that she was greatly interested in finding the discovery. It was more troubling that she hadn't heard of such a thing before, let alone seen one. Ice Storm nodded and followed the direction of the princess and started aligning the telescope to the coordinates that she had listed. Cross referencing the star chart and the dials on the telescope to make sure that she had the position exactly right. When she peered into the telescope, she was relieved. For once, the thing that she said she had found was still there. It was actually a bit more concerning, because it had been a couple weeks since she found it.

 

"Here it is right here. As you can see it looks like an orb of complete darkness, and there are two cones of light spewing from it's center. I'm not entirely sure to make of it because there is.... a complete absence of everything around it. I can't even see through it to see what's beyond it," Ice commented as she moved aside and gave Luna access to the eye piece so that she could see the event herself. Perhaps she would be able to get more out of what she can see than she herself could.

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Princess Luna stepped up next to Ice Storm's side as the pale blue mare joined her at the telescope and adjusted it until the strange anomaly had been found. It was all Luna could think to call it. Sidestepping to stand in front of the eye piece once Ice found it, Luna lowered her head and peered through it, silent for the few moments it took her to fully take it in. It was as Ice described it, and nothing like what she knew an eclipse to look like. This wasn't happening in their sky, but beyond it. Luna studied it with a small frown on her face, trying to puzzle it out.

 

"I'm uncertain about what it might be. It is most strange. It does not strike me as troubling, either, but.." It was currently beyond her. A void, spewing light.. or pulling it in? She was still, trying to figure out what might be going on with it. Luna finally straightened, making a soft noise in her throat. "It's difficult to tell. I'm not getting the impression that it's of any threat to us." Mildly frustrated with this unknown, the alicorn ruffled her wings and stepped away from the telescope eyepiece to face Ice Storm again. "There is much I do not know about what is beyond our stars. I'd once hoped to be taught how to move them, something Starswirl the Bearded claimed to know, but I never quite got that chance.This.. anomaly, is more than a star. I'm not sure if there's anything we can do about it except watch it and ensure it doesn't become a threat."

 

Sighing, Luna shrugged with her wings, feeling a little helpless. It'd take them some time to figure out, she was sure. She might know the moon and the constellations of the stars, but she'd never gotten to look further past them to see what else was out there, to learn about it. The years she could've spent learning just that had been lost to her. "What do you think of it, Ice?" Luna queried, asking the mare for her opinion and thoughts.

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Ice Storm nodded as the princess said that whatever the anomaly was, it looked like it was taking place outside of their skies and that it didn't appear to be any direct threat to them. She added that she wasn't sure about most of what laid beyond our stars. That the princess had hoped to be able to learn more from Starswirl the Bearded, but never got the chance. She further added that the anomaly was more than a star but not sure if there was anything that they could do about it other than watch and make sure it didn't become a threat. She noted the sigh. It seemed the princess was a little uneased about the discovery. When she asked Ice for her thoughts on the matter, Ice Spoke up.

 

"I'm in agreeance that at the moment this doesn't appear like a threat. However, I find it fascinating. Something like that wasn't there when this chart was made because it's not on here. So it's happened since then. Furthermore, I think it can be inspirational. With as far away as it is, I'm not sure that would ever become a threat to us. It does look like it can be destructive in it's own light, but at the same time.... it's both a source of darkness, and a source of light. It reminds me a lot about ourselves. Ponies in general. Everypony has a darkside. There's no avoiding this, but they also have a light deep inside of them that pierces through. Just like how it appears that the light in this void of darkness seems to push through it in the center. It's even further proof that everything eventually works itself out," she said looking up to the moon.

 

"I think that's one of the reasons I've grown to love stargazing as much as I do, and why being up here and looking at them through the telescope is so relaxing for me. Up in the vastness of space we have an endless sea of darkness that looks ready to take over at any moment, but you have all these specs of light that refuse to be extinguished. The sun is great and all, it fuels the land, the crops, and the fields, but.... It's the moon, it's the stars, it's the night sky in general that fuels the soul. Every night you can look up to the night sky and see that no matter how dark your tunnel seems to be, at some point, there's always a light. It's not always pleasant and it's not always easy. I know that from my own experiences, but I also know they always, always, worked themselves out for the better," she commented, getting a bit more philosophical than she originally intended to, but it was still relevant to the orb of black in space.

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Luna could see Ice Storm's point of view on the strange anomaly- it was fascinating. She wanted to learn more about it, to figure out what it was and why it'd appeared; she could agree, it had to have appeared at some point in the last thousand years. Yet, why? While the other mare spoke, Luna stepped back over to the telescope and ducked her head down to the eye piece to get another glimpse of the light-devouring void, she was certain that might be what it was doing, but what Ice had to say kept her attention from dividing. The mare straightened and half turned to face Ice, her expression unreadable. Ice certainly had an interesting perspective, and all from the odd formation beyond their sky. She could even agree with some of it.

 

Ponies seemed to deny that they were capable of doing terrible things just as much as they were capable of doing good. Luna didn't see the light and dark as sides so much as she felt it was more complicated than that. It was choice. Ponies could choose what they did, for good or ill for themselves and others. Sometimes they were driven to those choices, feeling that there were no other options, or they could simply choose freely.

 

What Ice Storm had to say about both the sun and the moon touched her, too, to hear a pony speak so about the night. Framing the moon and stars, the sole lights in the dark, as beacons of hope. It was a way of thinking that Luna had never seen before, nor considered. The alicorn lowered her head slightly, her mane slowly fluttering down around her neck with its peculiar floaty quality. "Your perspective is.. new, to me. I didn't know that ponies could see something like hope in the night. Most have only ever found it fearful, strange. Yes, perhaps a time of rest, too.. but not hope. It's refreshing."

 

Lifting her head, Luna turned back to the telescope and looked up at the sky through the gap in the ceiling, at the stars twinkling overhead. A couple of thin clouds had drifted across the sky, stragglers from the earlier ones, but none dared to block the moon. It'd all put her into an introspective mood. "I can only say that I don't think that our inner morality is so clear cut. It can often be confusing, though.. yes, no matter how far we fall there is always a way out." The moonbringer dipped her head, giving Ice a little nod. This was -- helpful, strangely enough, and it'd come from such an unexpected source.

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Ice Storm was a bit taken back when the princess told her that she'd never heard of anypony looking up to the stars for hope. She had always heard ponies finding the night sky fearful and strange, but hopeful was something she had never heard before. Ice really felt bad for Luna, and a little bit angry inside. All these years and ponies still don't seem to understand. Well, at least some. Surely she wasn't the only pony that looked to the stars for hope. Luna further added that it was refreshing to here the sentiment as well. Ice could understand why if she hadn't heard it at all before. Ice smiled. "Of course they are beacons of hope. Several ponies look up to the stars for guidance, or in memory of the fallen. Others, the ones that have had a less than perfect life, well, can end up down multiple paths, but the ones that pull themselves out of it, see hope. Or at least I did."

 

"The night, the moon, the stars, everything about it is everything that ponies like myself can relate to. And it all stems from what happened to you, your highness. What you overcame, and how you turned yourself into the mare today, gives everypony a reason to strive. Because when a pony can pull herself back from that, it shows that no matter how bad things are, you can always pull yourself out. I was a filly when I first came to Canterlot, abandoned by my own blood. I've since made up with my mother, but my father still believes it's my fault. When I got here.... I was homeless. I slept in the park, underneath your stars and watching your moon every night that I could. I knew that even when it wasn't there, I was being watched over by one of the greatest beings that's graced the land. I could look up to the moon and know, it would always be there, and it would show me the way. That hope, that inspiration, that drive to keep going, is what kept me from so many times, trying to take the easy way out," Ice said from her heart.

 

Ice Storm smiled back to the princess as she took a seat across from her. Which she certainly wasn't expecting the princess to be in the observatory tonight, and it likely meant that her study session wasn't going to happen now, but that was perfectly fine with her. A chance to catch up with the princess since that night so long ago was more than worth missing a study session. She let out a small sigh. "I just wish that more ponies could see things the way that I do. Know that no matter what, you always have at least one that speaks positively of you, regardless of anyone else," she smiled to the princess.

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It'd entirely escaped her knowledge, how ponies might view her skies. Yet, she had to remind herself, she didn't often get to spend a lot of time around them. And not so personally, not the way most ponies socialized with each other and held their casual conversations. Which reminded her of the little meeting she'd gotten to hold with the other princesses. They really were too far removed from their citizens, had become so distant that they as immortals hardly knew what the mortals thought or felt or even went through. Maybe.. she could fix that. She would just have to craft a disguise..

 

Her idle thoughts and plans trailed off, a mere part of the background of her attention which was mostly on Ice Storm who she listened to closely. In listening, Luna got a chance to learn more about Ice. To hear that the mare had been abandoned by her own parents shocked her. She pulled her head back, her airy mane slowly floating to frame her face and neck as it belatedly followed her motions. "Your fault.. ?" Luna murmured quietly, aghast. Her fault for.. what? Who could abandon a child?

 

One of the greatest beings that's graced the land. Princess Luna was met with mixed feelings about that particular statement, something that both touched her and vaguely reminded her of that arrogant little part of her that'd only ever gotten to see the light once. Years ago. "It is.. hard for me to understand why you would think that. During that time in your life, I was still locked in the moon, still a nightmare. I twisted the dreams of ponies, and I might be just as responsible for your nightmares as much as your experiences, your fears and worries.. Yet," Luna paused with her voice full of emotion, teal eyes focusing on Ice Storm's smile. She let her back legs give underneath her and eased herself down to sit, much like Ice Storm had already done. "I.. know that I will never again be the pony that I was. I've grown, and I've learned. I regret. I want to make up for the harm I've caused in any way I can. It.. heartens me to know, that even as my worst self I've been a comfort to you. To others."

 

Her head tilted, and her mane followed, slowly settling back around her shoulders. "I wish I could see things the way you do too. I'm still healing, so to hear you and others speak positively of me is still difficult to grasp." She shrugged a little. Jealousy might never be the cause again, but Luna knew, even feared, it might happen again for a different reason. Her magic was no longer corrupted, but even the Elements couldn't change a pony's emotions. Soothe them, temporarily, but not change. "I'm sorry about what happened to you. I could feel sorry that I couldn't have been there for you or others in such situations, but it would be useless. I hope I can at least still be that soothing light in the dark that you saw those years ago."

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Ice could hear Luna's flabergasted response when she heard Ice mention that her father still thought it was her fault. She didn't understand it either, but she was beyond him at this point. She was more powerful now than he ever was, and part of her believed that it was his jealousy of what she was able to become without his help that only further pushed him away. After all, she was highly successful and was on Equestria's front lines as one of the more powerful mages in any fight. The orbs around her neck did nothing but help her even more in that regards. She also heard Luna comment about how it was hard for her to understand why she thought the way that she did. Mainly, it was because that during that time, She herself was still in the moon and that  she was a Nightmare. That she twisted the dreams and she might have been as responsible as her experiences were for her nightmares "Horesfeathers," Ice Storm started.

 

"You weren't a nightmare, Princess. You may have called yourself Nightmare Moon, but you weren't a Nightmare. You were a broken mare. You were a mare that never got an outlet to release the feelings that were building up. Many of the other ponies here in Equestria.... seem to forget, that yes, You, Celestia, Cadence, Twilight, you're all princesses. But you're also ponies... and that just like everypony else, you all have feelings. I may know what it feels like to be abandoned, but I'm not going to even pretend to know how you felt a millennia ago, and anypony, other than yourself, that tries to say that they know exactly how you felt is full of themselves..."

 

"Maybe that's one of the reasons I was drawn to the moon so much. I knew that while it wasn't quite the same, I could relate... and I won't deny.... a thousand years ago, I probably would have joined your cause because of what I went through... And honestly? I don't see how anypony in this day and age has the right to judge you for what happened a thousand years ago. the only ponies that was alive for that was Celestia, and Discord. So everypony should be thinking of you as you are now. Not what you were before they were even alive," Ice finished as she heard Luna apologize about what happened to her, and that she could feel sorry for her, but ultimately it wouldn't amount to anything.

 

While most would probably have been a bit offended by that, Ice understood what she meant. Sure, the words themselves were comforting for a pony, but realistically, what's done was done, and feeling sorry about what happened isn't going to undo anything that happened, nor will it make everything okay now if things weren't. It was a sentiment only thing, and honestly, there were better ways of expressing it, just as Luna had. Of course, it wasn't Luna's fault that these things happened to her, but never the less. "It's okay Princess. I know that you couldn't have been there, but your moon was... And actually... when you stop and think about it... technically you were there for me. If you were still on the moon then, then I would have been looking at you for the support I was looking for and without knowing, you were watching not just myself, but every single other pony in Equestria that looked to the moon for hope. As you said, even when you were hurt the most, you were still a guiding beacon for many, myself included. So I'll reiterate what I said earlier. You were never a Nightmare, at least, not in my eyes, but a pony that had been hurt, broken, and had no where else to turn to. In return, I hope that I can be your beacon of hope in assuring that there are many that idolize you, and by being a friend," Ice said with a smile to the larger mare.

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The scoff earned a blink from the moon princess and Luna lowered her head, frowning faintly. There was a lot in what Ice Storm had to say that she could take comfort in, and appreciate the pale mare's point of view on her, and her situation. Yet, there was something that Luna still disagreed with if only because of her very personal experiences with her physical transformation. "Perhaps I was a broken mare. Alone, unappreciated, overcome with emotion.. but I am not innocent. I made my choice, impulsive and angry as it was, and I became something new."

 

Luna lifted her head, straightening up where she sat. Her wings, however, had sagged a little at her sides, partly open. Some part of her felt a flicker of amusement over one of Ice Storm's statements. Anypony that tries to say they know exactly how you feel is full of themselves. The dark alicorn could fully agree with that when she'd run into a few ponies over the past two years who believed they truly knew her, knew the night, and thought they could relate to her somehow all because they were nocturnal. Ice Storm was definitely not one of those ponies and she seemed to really understand in her own way, through her own past suffering.

 

A small smile made its way across Luna's lips. "I accept your friendship, and your comfort. I cannot argue against what you have to say about me, especially during the time I called myself Nightmare Moon.. despite how I meant the world harm. Eternal night wouldn't have been sustainable, no matter what our magic can do for what we need to live. There may be plenty of ponies that are still frightened by the night, and by me, I can at least rest easier knowing that there are those few individuals like you who feel the way you do, in your own ways. I.. appreciate it." The mare dipped her head, nodding to Ice.

 

"What you've said to me certainly will be a hope I can hold onto, even in the face of adversity. It is your friendship I'd prefer more, over being idolized. Sometimes the latter can go a little too far, and I speak from experience."

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"I agree. Eternal night would not have been. The plant life would have suffered greatly and in turn everything else would have followed suit. As said before. The sun fuels the land while the night fuels the soul. However, unchecked emotions, especially negative emotions can make a mare do many things that she's not proud of. Every mare brakes a different way... If I personally had broke, which I came close to doing many times when I was younger, I wouldn't be alive now. I understand that things happened and that you weren't innocent a thousand years ago... but you're innocent now. That is why, to me you weren't evil, but broken... and a pony. Just like everypony else... except with wings and a crown," she smiled hoping that Luna knew that she wasn't trying to discredit her position with the crown to any extent. She realized after she spoke that she was losing some of the formal tone that she was speaking with and was pretty much talking to Luna at this point as she would a friend.

 

The words that followed her gave her a bit of hope herself that she wasn't being too out of place or offensive to the mare. Granted, she was mostly trying to bask her in a positive light. She understood that what happened was bad. She also understood that there's always a linchpin. A pony just doesn't snap like Luna did without a lot of build up and warning signs. The fact that no pony caught the warning signs, or worse, noticed and didn't care a thousand years ago bothered her. She knew there wasn't anything that she could do to go back and fix what happened back then, but she did know that she could at the very least try to be there for her princess if she ever needed a voice to talk to that wasn't on the royal pay role. The fact that Luna said that she would prefer her friendship more than the idolization, because sometimes that can go a bit too far, as she found out from experience.

 

"I can't deny that I've idolized you for most of my life. After all, you've saved it more times than you know. At the same time though, it was that idolization that gave me my drive. I'll admit, at the time, I didn't know what that drive was, other than to make myself better, and not let the hardships that I went through turn me into a mare that I didn't want to be. Of course now, my drive is protecting ponies, and making sure that they get a chance to look up to the moon and stars. That they can do so without fear of what's on the horizon that they can't see, knowing that Equestria, and all of her princesses are protected," Ice smiled. She definitely considered herself thankful that she decided to come out tonight.

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A slow sigh escaped the mare, as if she was letting go of all her burdens with that one breath. Ice Storm's views were refreshing and she was glad to hear the unicorn state them. It wasn't what somepony might think she wanted to hear, but what she needed to hear. She was no different than any other pony who gave into their emotions, acting on their worst impulses.. The only difference was that alicorns were not quite like ponies and they were affected differently by emotions. Still, Luna saw Ice's point.

 

"You, at least, are honest about it."

 

Honesty was one of few things that Luna valued most; after all, she once wielded the Element of Honesty herself. While she often had trouble expressing herself and being honest with her feelings with somepony, she would never tell a lie, and she would never want anypony to lie to her either. Ice Storm wasn't denying that she idolized her, and Luna received a good reason why that was. She, in an inadvertent way, had been both a beacon of hope and an inspiration to this mare, and it was enough for Luna to wonder how many other ponies she possibly affected this way. Maybe not as many who still idolized and looked to Celestia, and perhaps they were not as vocal about it, but she knew that Ice couldn't be the only one.

 

"My visit to the observatory has been fruitful this night, and I admit this conversation we've had has made me feel quite a bit better about myself, too. I cannot deny I still want what my sister has, but I have at least gotten to learn that there are ponies out there who aren't frightened of me, or.. see me as a monster. Too, I see nothing wrong with idolatry.. I just hope it won't get in the way when a pony meets me. I want to be treated like a pony too, after all." Luna dipped her head to Ice.

 

"Of course, I can't deny I'm not still bothered by the way ponies still treat me differently from my sister. It's.. an unfortunate burden and I've yet to learn to cope with it. I know I do not need their love and appreciation, but I cannot help wanting to be seen as an equal to Celestia. I know I am, but I am often overlooked and put aside. The.. play Princess Twilight put on for my sister's 'first time raising the sun' is one such thing. We both raised the sun and moon for the first time on the same day, when the unicorn tribe, even Starswirl the Bearded, exhausted their magic to bring the day and it fell to us to be the ones to move them. It was how we both got our cutiemarks!" Some frustration entered her tone and Luna unfurled her wings as she spoke. It wasn't the only issue, but it was one specific example. Settling, Luna snorted softly. "It -- rankles me, I fear."

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The long sigh that graced Ice Storm's ears from the discussion that they were having... sounded like that of a pony whose had a huge weight lifted from their shoulders. She heard Luna mention the fact that she was at least honest about how she felt. She still wasn't sure at the moment if that was a compliment, or if she had ended up upsetting her. The sigh lead her to think compliment, but still, it was a delicately sensitive topic. She also noticed that Luna.... seemed to be opening up a bit? Ice was a bit surprised internally, but only showed a comforting posture as the lunar mare spoke. She went on about how her visit to the observatory was fruitful this night. After the next statement it was Ice's turn to let out a small sigh of relieve as Princess Luna confirmed that the conversation that they had, did indeed, make her feel a lot better about herself. That she she couldn't deny that she still wanted what her sister had, but she at least got to learn that there are ponies who are frightened of her or see her as a monster. That she also didn't mind idolatry as long as it didn't get in the way when somepony met her. That... she really did just wanted to be treated like a pony.

 

She felt a small pang of hurt inside of her when she4 heard Luna make the monster comment. She was never a monster! The very thought of somepony actually saying this to her made her blood boil. "For their sake, I pray that I never hear anypony call you a monster. I've seen monsters, I've fought monsters, and it was a monster that ripped my family apart. You are none of those things, and I personally won't let anypony smear you or your name like that," she said a bit defensively, a hint of venom in her tone. Naturally it wasn't directed at the princess, but rather anypony that spoke ill about her new friend.

 

Of course, hearing Luna say that she now knew that she didn't need anypony's love or appreciation made her break a bit inside once again. That she was still bothered by how differently ponies treated her in regards to her sister. That she wanted to be seen as Celestia's Equal, and she knew that she was, but she still felt like she was often over looked and put aside. She used the play that Twilight put on for Celestia's first time raising the sun as an example. It was her first time raising the moon as well! it was how both of them earned their cutie marks! Ice Storm could feel the emotions pouring from her.

 

"I truly mean no disrespect to Celestia, but in my eyes, you and Celestia aren't equals. Celestia isn't the one that was there for me. It wasn't Celestia's sun blistering down on me while I was homeless in the park that gave me hope. It wasn't the constant bickering and down putting of the nobles district during her days that gave me my drive... Okay, maybe a little bit at the beginning but still. It was you, that gave me my inspiration. It was your moon that gave me hope. It was your stars that gave me guidance. It was your nights that kept me cool. No princess, you've done so much more for me, even without being here, than Princess Celestia ever has. In my eyes, you're not equal, you're superior. You're the Princess that many find relateable, even if their experiences don't truly relate," she spoke, the venom that was previously in her tone washed away with one that was empathetic.

 

It was then that Ice Storm got an idea. "Hey! I know! What if I helped orchestrate that play? If Twilight put on a play for Celestia, there's nothing to say that somepony like myself, or mabye myself and a group of my friends couldn't pull together in your honor, and make a similar play for your first raising, and perhaps speak with Celestia about possible getting a celebration in your honor as well. After all, The Summer Sun Celebration is on the longest day of the year. Yes, Nightmare night is technically a holiday for you, and I find it to be a quite enjoyable holiday, but at the same time, it's built around the part of you that, as you said, everypony still fears. I know here in Canterlot and in Ponyville a lot of those fears were absolved, but we really need something that would put you into a positive light. Something perhaps on the Winter Solstace. That is, after all, the longest night of the year. It's only fitting it should have some sort of ceremony or celebration with it as well," Ice added trying to think of things that could help. The play was a no brainer, she could get a following for doing the play in a heartbeat. The yearly celebration would take some work, if it was something that Luna would even be interested in.

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"I have never heard anypony call me a monster, but I have no doubts some have thought it over the years." It wasn't much of a reassurance, and not when she knew they must think of her that way. The Nightmare Night celebration, with its stories about her as Nightmare Moon.. it was no wonder ponies shied from her during that very first Nightmare Night. The night may have relaxed them with the fun and games, but the fact that she had to prove to them that she wasn't going to hurt them still stuck with her a little.

 

Her head twitched up, surprised by Ice Storm's statement. Superior to Celestia. It left her with mixed feelings, touching upon the pride in herself that was buried deep down within, and shock that she could ever be better than her sister. She couldn't see it, though in some ways, when she really considered it -- she could. "I fear my sister has been but a servant to Equestria rather than its leader. She was put in that position after she was forced to banish me and ponies saw her as a hero. I feel it is more the fault of ponies that things are the way they are, though I suppose my sister is not innocent."

 

Luna sighed softly through her nose, inclining her head with interest at Ice Storm's idea. A play for herself? Initially it sounded like a wonderful idea, but as the doubts started to creep up on her again, she was torn. Ponies could easily see it as her attempt to copy her sister, despite the fact that Celestia wasn't the one responsible for that play; Twilight was. Or they might think she was trying to steal the spotlight, to undermine Celestia, or some poor cry for attention. They could think anything about there being a play for herself. Plus, that day that was celebrated with Celestia's play was already past. Too late. The princess wilted a little and she shook her head. "I am.. uncertain.. if it would work. I fear what ponies would think about it, that they would get the wrong idea. It's something I may have to attempt another year, should they ever try to throw another play like it again. I don't want them thinking I got my cutiemark after she did." The moon princess fell into a thoughtful silence, frowning at nothing in particular. She didn't want to shoot Ice Storm's idea down.. "There may be something we can still do for a play, I just cannot think of what. As for the Winter Solstice, I do like the idea. A celebration would be wonderful for it.. and perhaps I can convince my sister to make the winter nights longer."

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Ice Storm gave a gentle nod when the princess that she'd never heard anypony directly call her a monster but she had no doubts that there were plenty that thought it. She couldn't argue with that, but she could give anypony around her that she heard comment about that a good hoof to the face and feel no remorse in doing so. She already didn't take disrespect well to begin with, but to disrespect a princess... that was now also one of her friends? That's asking for a beating. She knew there were ponies out there that didn't like the princesses, and she knew that they felt like they had very good reasons. They also knew though to never bring it up around her. The comment that she feared that her sister had become a servant to Equestria rather than it's ruler.... bothered her a bit. As she continued, it bothered her even more, because she was right. After what happened, the ponies of the time practically pushed Celestia into the position that she was. She nodded when she said it was more the fault of ponies in general that things are the way they are now, but she supposed her sister wasn't entirely innocent either.

 

"That really only further proves my point though really. Celestia's had everything.... pretty well handed to her. Sure, I would presume, or at least hope there would be some remorse and pain for the time of your absence. I think this goes back to what you said before Princess, about Idolization getting in the way of being ponies. She's for the most part been given everything, and you've had to work for everything that you can get. Not once, but twice. You really shouldn't have to prove yourself to anyone for ponies to be accepting. As said, no pony was alive when you were at your worst, so no pony has the right to judge you for what happened then. You've had to work for all of your accomplishments. Celestia's been given hers. I'm not trying to say that she's a bad princess by any means. I'm just saying that, I don't see her in the same light that most do," she admitted. It was true. She'd met Celestia and the meeting was quite pleasant. She wasn't a bad pony by any means. But she'd always been drawn to Luna more, especially since she was the first that she met, when she did on that blizzardly night a few years ago.

 

When she heard Luna talk about the play and the Winter Solstice, she nodded. As much as she didn't want to admit it, it made sense. They could easily see it as her grasping for attention... unless.. "Unless you just let us do everything and get everything set up for it, and then 'surprise' you with it. After all, you and I are the only ones here right now. They don't have to know that anyone other than myself and a few friends put it together for you. Inspired by Princess's play for Celestia, to do the same for you. It would spin the questioning glances from you to myself and anypony that would help me put it together. If nothing else, we could very easily hold a banquet in your honor at any time. I also like the idea of the longer nights, but I imagine that would take quite some convincing. You know your sister better than I do though. That being said, something that I could do as well, is perhaps talk to Twilight. She is the princess of friendship after all. Last time I checked, that would be all inclusive, so she should be helping you and helping honor you just as much as Celestia. I imagine that Twilight probably doesn't even know that it upset you," she added.

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Princess Luna nodded her agreement. Celestia really had gotten everything. It hadn't been until recently, before the Friendship Festival, that they'd had a second throne put in the throne room for her. "You speak truth," the moon princess replied solemnly. "I will say, in her defense, she has suffered for the loss of me. I know she's taken it hard after she had to banish me, and carried that pain with her for all those years. I saw her weep, and I don't think my sister's tears to be 'cragodile tears'."

 

She quieted again, giving Ice Storm's plan for the play for her full attention. If all the credit went to Ice and her crew, as it would anyway since Luna didn't intend to meddle in it, then.. perhaps it would. Luna was sure ponies might still have a few negative things to say, but nothing as bad as she'd been fearing. "If it is posed as a surprise.. I think it will work. Perhaps.. the next anniversary it can be a proper play that honors us both and not only Celestia. She was never solely responsible for night and day. As for the longer nights, I feel that I won't have much resistance from my sister with that. I think she might be taken with the idea. It'd be fitting for winter."

 

Luna paused, an ear twitching towards the mention of Twilight's name. It reminded her of something.. "Perhaps she does not, but.. I could always talk to her myself, now that you mention it. We had an unofficial princess summit not too long ago, including Princess Bluebelle. We discussed all manner of problems we need to address in Equestria, and one was the issue of bandits at our borders. The source of them has been a topic of confusion for all of us, not knowing where they're coming from or why there are bandits in the first place. My sister plans to take Bluebelle with her to investigate the borders, while I stay behind in Canterlot to manage the kingdom while my sister is absent. Twilight will be with me to assist, then." The mare pulled her wings back up against her body, frowning a little over a thought. "There is much we need to address in Equestria as a whole, and out of all of it I wish to train the guard better when I get the chance to. I don't want to make them heroes, or warriors, I just want them better prepared against the dangers beyond their power, to protect our citizens instead. We've been caught by surprise too many times. I know my issues are small when it comes to the kingdom as a whole, but.. I won't forget them."

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Luna confirming that Celestia had also suffered in her absence was a bit... refreshing? Ice never wished suffering on anypony, but she also knew that if somepony wasn't at least a little bit trauma tied from having to banish her own sister and forcing them to be a part for a thousand years after being together for who knows how many... She would have had concern about just what their intentions were. Luna said that she didn't see her sister as being the type for false tears, and she watched her sister weep. That in of itself was enough. weeping isn't something a pony can do unless they genuinely feel saddened.

 

"I don't mean this negatively, but that is at least a bit refreshing to hear. I don't wish suffering on anypony, but I'd be concerned if Celestia was perfectly okay with what happened. Of course, I never thought that she was a bad pony to begin with, just....maybe a bit blind to what was happening underneath her. After all, for my entire first tenure in Canterlot, I was sleeping in the park that the balcony overlooks. I'm not entirely sure how she couldn't notice something like that and at least send a guard or something to make sure everything is okay. I wouldn't have expected her to drop anything for me, but... maybe I'm thinking way to deep on something that has little significance now. What's done is done, the only thing we can do is learn and move on," she said as Luna commented on her idea for how to set up the play. "Perfect! I'll start talking with some of my friends and colleges and see when we would be able to get something put together. The only thing that I would want to know is what you would want to see from the play. It is for you after all."

 

From here the conversation got a bit.... heavier. The princess started to weigh in on some of the issues that were actually started to plague Equestria. Apparently there was a bandit issue along the borders. The source of them has been some confusion for most of the princesses. The don't know where the source was from nor did they know why they were bandits to begin with. At first she thought that she might have been talking about some of her agents... but that didn't make any sense. Her organization was being built to prevent things like this, not create them. Plus she didn't have anywhere near the numbers to be an actual threat to the borders even if she wanted to be.

 

The news that Celestia herself and Princess Bluebell were going to the borders sent a flurry of mixed emotions to her. Firstly, she was happy that Celestia was being more proactive in the defense of Equestria. Secondly, if there were two princesses at the border, that meant the numbers of the royal guard are thinned. This would be an opportunity for somepony with ill intentions could try to take advantage of. Granted, Twilight was also staying with Luna, but there was still grounds for concern. Thirdly, it meant that she would have to at the very least tell Luna about her own force. The last thing she wanted to do was to send some of her scouts to survey the situation while Celestia was there, and them being thought of as part of the bandit groups. The comment about the guards themselves not being trained very well.... echoed her own comments, and the consensus from everypony else in her inauguration meeting for her Severe Threat Action Response Force. They do need to be trained better. She felt she had more training than some of the guards did.

 

"Unfortunately, I've seen first hoof the training of the guards. I've had to fight them before when they were under the control of another entity during the invasion on the Crystal Empire. I didn't come out unscathed, but they weren't a threat to me at all, and I hadn't had any proper training at that point yet. After all, it was that event that turned me into the protector that I am today. The news of this bandit group worries me, and with Celestia, and Bluebelle heading to the borders to investigate it raises concerns. On one hoof, I'm happy that She's taking a more proactive response to Defending Equestria... Something that... I'll touch on more in a moment.... However, with Celestia and Bluebelle away, I know you said Twilight was going to be here, but that's still going to be a severe drop in numbers for the Royal guard. It would be a perfect opportunity for a pony or creature with ill intentions to attempt something. With you're permission, I would like to enlist into the Royal guard for the duration of these investigations. I have some military training, and I know for a fact that I'm one of the most powerful ice mages in Equestria. These orbs in my necklace are a testament to that. While I'm helping defend both you and Twilight, I can send my forces to help Celestia with the investigation, which leads me into the other very important topic I just mentioned..." Ice said with a sigh.

 

"I need your trust on this princess... and I'm putting a lot trust in you by coming out with this... I'm taking a big risk because I'm sure what I'm about to tell you is very illegal, and you could very easily keep me from leaving this room. With your trust... I would very much rather the following information have no other ears other than Celestia herself... What I'm about to tell you is.... highly classified by design to both keep Equestria safe, and your foreign relations intact. Absolutely nopony else, other than the others involved, know about this, It goes right along with how the guard isn't trained enough to handle the threats we've been dealt with..."

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Princess Luna made a soft sound in her throat. "Maybe she didn't notice," she mused. "I know that she does not go to bed until late, exhausted, and does not even glance out the window. When she lowers the sun, she may do it elsewhere in the castle amidst whatever she may be involved in. I do recall a few times when she was entertaining some visiting dignitaries, the moon had already risen. I believe my sister overextends herself with these more social visits and events. I feel she could do without them and have somepony else preside over such things."

 

The dark alicorn could only nod her agreement after she'd spoken. They really did have no other choice but to move on; it was unfortunate, but true. A small smile crossed her muzzle upon seeing Ice Storm's excitement over the plans for the play, and she couldn't help a small suggestion. "Do you think we should do better, this time, and depict both my sister and myself in it? I can whisper you the details of what happened that day, so that you can do the play in more.. detail. I'm sure you and your companions can pull it off better."

 

Luna saw the change in Ice Storm's expression over the little she'd mentioned about the princess summit discussions and inclined her head, listening to the pale mare speak and point out the weakness in the guard that'd be left after Princess Celestia and Bluebelle left for the borders. That was.. true, something that Luna hadn't even considered. She was confident in her ability to maintain things while Celestia was gone, so long as she was allowed to do things her way, and she hadn't considered any possibilities of attack. It didn't seem likely, and she didn't think that anypony would even hear about it let alone try.. but there was always that chance there were spies, or inopportune timing..

 

"I believe I can defend myself quite well," Luna began, gently; she wasn't shooting down Ice Storm's offer, "but I will always welcome  your assistance." It'd been a difficult lesson to learn, to accept help. She never knew what to expect when it came to attacks, especially when Celestia won't be around to have any of her rare visions. The situation soon turned serious as Ice Storm touched upon something secret, something potentially illegal. Classified. The moon princess's interest piqued and she leaned in a little, as if she expected Ice Storm to whisper it into her ear.

 

"I shall keep it to myself," Luna replied solemnly, lifting a silver-shod hoof and placing it over her own heart. "Pray tell.. What is it?"

 

 

 

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Ice Storm heard the small sound in Luna's throat a bit and immediately felt a bit bad for bringing the circumstance up. Celestia was still her sister, and she was shedding a bit more negativity on her than most would. As she listened to Luna's explanation about what Celestia actually did when she was lowering the sun, and that sometimes she wasn't even looking outside. So it was entirely possible that she just never saw her. And she knew from personal experience that Celestia, at least when not being forced to uphold her image is very nice. She remembered the Hearth's warming morning that she met her in the gardens. It was a lovely meeting and she even gave her a spell that allowed her to look directly into stars without blinding herself. Still though, she couldn't deny she still felt stronger for the princess that was in front of her, and she felt like she really didn't need to go over why again. AT this point she'd be repeating herself and drifting into the idolization that Luna spoke of before.

 

Ice also nodded when Luna brought up that perhaps they could do better and create the play for both sisters and not just herself. That she could go over the details with her on what happened that day oh so long ago and that she was sure that her and her colleagues could pull it off better. "Thank you, that mean a lot and we'll do what we can to remain as accurate as possible in the time that we are allotted for the play," she said before the hard part of the conversation approached. She watched as Luna leaned in, and placed a hoof over her heart, telling her that she would keep the following information to herself. It made her relax a bit before she took a very deep breath.

 

"Well, I'm not going to beat around the bush with it... Princess, I'm building an army. I'm pulling together as many mercenaries, retired officers that still have fight, and anypony that's willing to train and pick up a spear in order to defend Equestria. The guards are as you said, not trained to be able to deal with these adversaries. I've been a member of Equestrian Protection and Information Command, and have fought to help keep Equestrai safe but... It's simply not enough. The Agency is to passively defensive. We can get leads on leads but we don't get to act on them until they are already here. I'm tired of getting invaded, watching others get hurt, or worse. So, I took it upon myself to do something about it. My army, the Severe Threat Action Responce Force, once in full power, will mobilize on any potential threat to Equestria and her ponies. I've implored the strategies of the same mare that was able to by pass all of our defenses, and in fact, I have her working for me...

 

"I'm building a prototype airship, one that right now exists in concept only. The previous invasion came from the air, so I wanted a way to stop aerial invasions before they got started. I'm building something that I want those who choose to be enemies of Equestria to fear. It's heavily fortified, and heavily armed. My goal with that is to stop anything with hostile intentions before it's even over our lands, and even most of the ground missions we do, very little of them will be on Equestrian Soil. Which is why I know it's probably illegal, and why I've kept it so secretive. The other reason is, I'm not waiting for a yes or no answer/ I truthfully wasn't even going to bring it up to you, because something like this, being in the position that you are, need plausible deniability, and not knowing that we exist gives you legitimate deniability. We can't be acting on your orders or Celestia's orders if you don't know we're here.

 

The only reasons I'm telling you this now is because a, I trust you, and b, when I leave here tonight, I will be sending reinforcements to the borders to assist if needed and also gather information. It was imperative that I mention the organization in it's entirety to you at that point, so that my ponies are not confused among the bandits. One thing I can guarantee though, I am doing everything in my power to protect You, Celestia, and all of Equestria. I'm tired of seeing ponies get hurt or die because we've been blindsided... not anymore," she finished and she waited. Realistically, there was still nothing stopping the princess from arresting her. She did only promise to keep it a secret. She did not promise free passage.

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Princess Luna merely nodded her head to the matter of the play, choosing to remain silent in anticipation of whatever illegal secret Ice Storm was preparing to drop on her. What could Ice Storm be planning to help keep Equestria safe from the kind of villains they'd had to face? Ice Storm, thankfully, chose to cut straight to the point. Building an army. Luna initially wasn't sure what to think of it, so she chose to remain silent and allow the mare to explain.

 

Her brow furrowed slightly. It was true that EPIC, as she'd learned, just wasn't enough to really protect Equestria despite what it tried to boast. A mention of a certain mare left Luna puzzling over what mare that could be until she recalled Tempest Shadow. Tempest had chosen to turn over a new leaf after Twilight had shown her the truth.. Somehow, Luna couldn't be surprised that Ice managed to recruit Tempest Shadow for such an organization meant to protect Equestria- her skills would come in quite useful. Though the princess was worried over this large war ship Ice detailed, she found herself growing excited over this information. It could be the answer to their problems, and had Ice not sworn her to secrecy, she could have --

 

No. Even if she trusted Celestia's views on some matters, she didn't think anypony could really understand. Even if it had all the heroes and warriors that'd been born from the strife in Equestria's recent history as they'd discussed at the princess summit, they'd find something wrong. No, she wouldn't have told them even if it wasn't a secret, wasn't illegal. It was information she was entirely going to keep to herself.

 

Luna straightened, her expression a serious one. "I cannot lie to anypony, nor can I bring myself to be at all dishonest. However, neither will I tell a soul about this or reveal my knowing of this information if I am never asked. I think we could seriously use something like this. The other princesses mentioned having the help of natural heroes and warriors to help protect Equestria beyond the Element Bearers, myself, and my sister, but we weren't sure of who. We weren't sure of the solution, but.. this could be it. Who all have you recruited to your organization?"

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