Chapter Two - Beginnings
Pluto, Sol System
Pluto, the planet that never was. The largest known object in the Kuiper belt, and the second largest object in the Sol System after Eris, the dwarf planet. Such a humble thing. Discord gave a little smile at the name and a small nod of greeting to the humble planetoid, named after a sister he never had.
But that wasn't why he was here.
Discord waited with a patience that was at odds with his name, seemingly frozen as he stared up into space beyond the thin atmosphere of Pluto. He would wait however long it took. There was no rush. He had all the time in the galaxy. He was immortal after all. The very universe itself could die and he would remain, chaos incarnate. Not even Celestia could claim such, and he knew that fact intimately.
There was no herald to its arrival, no trumpets, no flash of light, it just simply appeared, a shadow against the starry sky.
It moved with elegant purpose with no visible means of propulsion, dancing through space effortlessly as it carried its precious cargo to its final destination. The great work was only just beginning, and there was still so much to accomplish before everything would be ready.
Discord watched the massive creature as it ever so gently placed a Mass Relay into orbit around Pluto above him. It paid him no mind, accomplishing its task with a driven intensity that made Discord shudder at the very order of things.
Pulling away from the Relay, the creature turned, beginning its journey back out of the solar system, edging out of Pluto's gravity before it jumped away. It left no trace of its arrival save the Mass Relay it had placed into orbit, a monument that would withstand the sands of time, forever working, a guiding light to all who found it.
With a long slowness, the great inner rings of the Relay began to spin, circling around a glowing ball of Element Zero. The miracle element that would forever allow the races of the galaxy to expand beyond their humble beginnings.
As Discord stood still, watching, time began to speed up. The inner rings of the Relay became a blur, moving far too fast for him to see. Years pass, then decades, centuries. Pluto orbited the sun, faster and faster. Endless cycles. Millennia passed, and for the first time, Discord observed silently as the Relay activated.
With a flare of element zero and blue lightning, a small ship rocketed out from the Relay. Discord watched as it sped away, exploring the system. Finding nothing after days of scanning, it returned to the Relay and passed back through.
Time continued on, and Discord did not move from his silent vigil. Far above him, the Relay went dark as its element zero supply depleted. Its rings stopped spinning, and slowly, ice began to build on its impenetrable surface. Before his eyes, the Relay became an icy moon orbiting Pluto.
Centuries passed, and Discord watched as the false moon spun around Pluto in an endless orbit. Millennia passed in the blink of an eye, and Discord remained unchanged.
Discord couldn't help but give a small smile as the Relay activated for what he knew was the final time. This was the moment that everything truly began in this solar system. Time slowed, because Discord didn't want to miss a single moment.
The rings of the Relay smashed the ice covering it into chunks as it reactivated. Seconds passed, though it could have been a million years to Discord. A broken Prothean ship hurtled through the Relay, struggling to slow down as it leaked element zero from its cracked hull. Unlike the other aliens, the Protheans stayed at the Relay, working for over a month to deactivate it.
With a slow finality, the Relay went dark for the final time. The Prothean ship began a long voyage to the fourth planet from the sun, Mars, the red planet.
Growling in his throat, Discord snapped his claws. He disappeared without making a sound.
Discord appeared on the surface of Mars, ignoring the harsh wind and red dust that howled past him, a bubble of peace and calm appearing around him. Looking up at the sky, he smiled when he saw a pale blue dot just barely visible above the horizon, even through the thin atmosphere. Reaching up, he stroked his goatee.
"Intriguing," he muttered, looking down at the ground beneath his feet. He knew that he was standing directly above the Prothean archives, buried for nearly fifty-thousand years.
It would have to stay buried for awhile longer.
Looking back up, he watched the massive sand storm that was beginning to build on the horizon.
He snapped his fingers and disappeared.
Discord appeared on the moon, light enough that he left no sign of his presence in the dust. Just at the edge of the grey horizon, a brilliant blue planet was beginning to rise, beautiful and majestic, an awe-inspiring sight.
At least the planet that would come to be known as Earth.
"Such a boring planet." Discord shook his head.
He cocked his head as he stared over it, watching the strands of time passing by in front of him.
"What makes you so important?" He pondered, scratching his chin.
Discord studied the planet, peering through the veil of time to the strands of knowledge that hid beneath. His eyes widened at the revelation that appeared instantly to him.
"Oh!" He smiled in understanding. "That's why. Yes... Yes, I can work with that."
He snapped his fingers and disappeared.
Discord appeared miles above the surface of Mindoir, looking up at the sky just in time to see the raider's ships begin to descend through the atmosphere, flames licking at their kinetic barriers as they opened fire on the city below. Discord shook his head at the violence, but he made no move to stop them.
"So primitive," he muttered sadly.
Turning from the violence, Discord snapped his fingers.
A dense Fog rolled across the forest floor, and tall trees rose up to meet the sky, skeletal and bare of their leaves. Riley found herself standing in the middle of the forest, dressed in her bloody and torn clothes from Mindoir.
"The Harvest. Countless cycles and countless lives."
A heavy voice, thick and powerful echoed through the forest, seeming to come from both nowhere and everywhere at once. Rily clutched at her ears, trying to block the voice out, tears welling in her eyes.
"Die you stupid bitch!" Another voice rang out, intimately familiar. The voice of the Batarian that killed her family.
"Hide, Riley!" Her mother's voice echoed harshly through the trees. Riley dropped to the ground, terror gripping at her heart. "Whatever happens, whatever you see, don't make a sound. I love you, sweetheart."
Stumbling up, Riley ran through the forest, tears streaming down her face. Dark shadows followed her, never moving but always just behind her. Specters of fear and death, faceless, but their eyes were always on her.
"No!" RIley shouted, clutching her hands over her ears. "No! No! NO!"
"You will do." The first voice rang out again, deeper, sounding pleased in its own, dark way. "There is strength inside you, and they will learn to fear it."
"Enough," A new voice said, coming from behind her. It didn't echo like all the others, nor did it sound as menacing.
Riley stopped, turning as the forest fell away, leaving nothing but a white expanse behind. She found herself face to face with a tall creature, vaguely serpentine, but like someone had just mashed whatever pieces of animals they had on hand together to make a new being.
Her heart started to pound in her chest. The moment that she laid eyes on him, her eyes widened and she screamed. Rushing forward, the creature put a paw over her mouth, perfectly silencing her.
"Ah, ah. None of that," the Creature spoke again. Sighing dramatically, he placed a claw to his forehead. "While I do so love to listen to screams of terror, we simply do not have the time."
The Creature paused, actually thinking through what he said.
"Well." He shrugged (and Riley was guessing it was he from his voice). "I say that, but whatever. We're not here to talk about me. You, however, Riley, are certainly due for a trip down the rabbits hole."
Riley raised her gun, and to her own quiet surprise, she noticed that she wasn't even a bit surprised to find that she was holding a gun, not bothering to wonder where it came from, and carefully aimed it at Discord. She fired, only to find that her gun had turned into a banana.
"None of that." The Creature tsked, wagging his finger at her. "I'm not going to hurt you, little Riley. You should try to be as courteous."
Riley glared at Discord, unable to talk.
"Oh, Don't give me that look." The Creature rolled his eyes. "I've destroyed civilizations for less."
The Creature looked Riley up and down carefully, judging her silently. "I'm going to take away my paw, and you aren't going to scream, are you?"
A moment passed, and then Riley nodded.
The moment he drew his hand away, Riley screamed as loud as she could. The Creature just rolled his eyes, snapped his fingers, and Riley's mouth disappeared.
"You promised you weren't going to scream." The Creature chided.
Riley tried to speak, but she freaked out when she found that she couldn't move her mouth. She gestured wildly, trying to get her point across. The creature just ignored her wild movements and continued on as if she was not doing anything out of the ordinary.
"Please, let me introduce myself." With a flash, he was standing on a golden pedestal, a top hat jauntily placed on his head. He gave a happy bow, keeping his eyes on Riley the entire time. "I am Discord. The spirit of Disharmony and purveyor of Chaos. Pleased to be at your service."
He jumped off the pedestal, which disappeared behind him.. Discord started to pace back and forth in front of Riley, who had edged as far away from Discord as she physically could. She was terrified, and as a young girl she knew that she had no way to fight against him.
"I am sorry to say that it was never supposed to turn out this way," Discord apologized, continuing his pacing. He shrugged finally, unwilling, unable to change. "But, needs must, and even I cannot fight against this inevitability."
"Little Riley," He stopped and turned to look at her. "You aren't even aware the looking glass exists. I am sorry that I am the one who has to break you from your little delusion, but, here we go."
Stepping forward, Discord placed a single claw against Riley's forehead.
It was too much for her already fragile mind to take and she crumpled to the ground.
Prism sat on his haunches in the medical bay onboard the SSV Olympus. His wing had been bandaged and a cast was tightly wrapped over it and his barrel. Looking around the med-bay, he looked over the survivors of the raid on Mindoir. The worst of the worst had been brought onboard as soon as the Systems Alliance had pacified the city.
The door to the med-bay hissed open and Prism didn't bother to turn and look as someone entered, far too wrapped up in his own thoughts to hear anyone as they came in. He was already too focussed on ignoring the dull pain sluggishly passing through his veins to keep track of everyone who came and went through the med-bay.
"What is it?" Star Glow asked as she sat down at his side.
"Ma'am!" Prism startled when she spoke, noticing for the first time that she was standing next to him. "Sorry, I didn't notice you come in."
"It's alright, Prism." She laughed at his expression, shaking her head. Looking down at his bandaged side, she winced in sympathy. "How's your wing?"
"It's..." Prism looked down at the bandages, frowning at them. "It doesn't look good. The doctors aren't... optimistic. I might fly again, but I don't think I'll ever be Wonderbolts material again."
Star was silent for a long moment, unsure of what to say after that revelation.
"What's got you so out of sorts?" She asked, deciding to ignore the other topic all together.
Prism took a long look at Star before pointing at a bed a few spaces down.
"What, a girl?" Star asked as she followed his hoof. A young red-headed human lay asleep on the bed.
"She watched her entire family die." Prism nodded, biting his lip. "I saved her. Kept the Batarians from killing her too... or worse."
Star pushed his shoulder lightly, smiling. "You're a regular hero, aren't you Prism?"
"Yeah..." Prism grimaced, shaking his head.
"Oh no." Star groaned, knowing Prism and the way that his mind worked. "No, Prism. I know what you're thinking. Firefly will never go for it."
"Maybe. Maybe not." Prism shrugged. He turned to look at Star with a grim smile on his face. "But I won't know unless I try."
"Prism-" Star pleaded, unsure of what she was asking for, but knowing that she had to make at least some gesture of protest.
Riley shot up off of her bed, a terrified expression on her face as she flailed violently. It was clear on her face that she had no clue where she was or what was going on, just that adrenaline was pumping through her body and that her entire life had completely crashed down around her.
"Hey!" Prism rushed over to her side. He reared up and put his forehooves on the bed. "Hey, it's alright. You're alright. You're safe."
Riley looked at him, having no idea who he was, but his words had a calming effect on her. She reached out and grabbed his hoof desperately, and before he knew it, he found that they were both moving forward into a desperate hug.
A minute passed and Riley started to nod off, still exhausted beyond all belief. She fell asleep in Prism's forelegs, still shaking occasionally in terror.
Prism sent a meaningful look to Star, who was watching them with careful eyes. With a nod, she turned away and left the room.
The Olympus was a massive ship. While it might not have been the largest in the galaxy, it far outclassed anything that Equestria had put out so far. Stopping in front of the Captain's chambers door, Easyglider straightened his coat, taking a calming breath.
Lifting a hoof, he knocked.
"Enter." A muffled reply reached his ears.
Easyglider stepped into the Captain's room, giving a polite nod to Captain Ethan Tyler, the Commander of the Olympus who was waiting for him behind his desk.
"Captain." Easyglider gave him a respectful salute.
"Commander." Tyler saluted right back, a warm smile on his face. "Thank you for the assist today. Things could have been a lot worse if you weren't there."
"I'm just happy we were able to help." He gave a warm smile. Easyglider sat down in one of the two chairs before Tyler's desk.
"Not that I am complaining, but I was under the impression that the Wonderbolts were purely a flight show." Tyler looked at Easyglider calmly, interested in the answer.
"Technically, we are." Easyglider grinned, nodding his head. "We are part of the Royal Guard though, and we all receive combat training. The Wonderbolts never leave Equestria without our weapons. Slim though the chance may be, we may have to act on the Princesses orders at any moment."
"I did not know that." Captain Tyler nodded in understanding. His face grew grim and he took a deep breath. "I don't know what we would have done if you hadn't shown up. Even with your help, we still lost near ten thousand colonists... at least that was the count last I checked."
"So many..." Easyglider sat back in his seat, horrified. A number that high was almost incomprehensible to him. So many dead.
"Too many." Tyler nodded in agreement.
"I'm sorry that we couldn't have arrived sooner," Easyglider said, truly saddened.
"You did more than we could, Commander." Tyler waved a hand, resolving any guilt that Easyglider might have felt. "Don't blame yourself. It's the raiders who deserve all of that."
Captain Tyler stood and paced around to the front of his desk, leaning heavily against it. "I have been instructed by the Prime Minister to tell you that all of the Wonderbolts will be awarded the Star of Terra."
"That's too much!" Easyglider's eyes widened and he stood in surprise, hopping down off the chair. "We only did what anyone else would do."
"Regardless." Captain Tyler smiles at Easyglider's protest. "He feels that you deserve it. I can think of no higher honor myself."
They were both silent for a long moment as Easyglider came to terms with what what the Systems Alliance was awarding to the Wonderbolts. The highest military award that the Systems Alliance could possibly give.
"We will accept it with pride then," Easyglider said with a firm voice.
"That is all that we can ask for."