A/N: Time for a little change in things. I wanted to combine the humanized section with conflict. Let's see how this turns out, yah?

Please feel free to review when you're finished. I really would like to know how I'm doing.


Chapter 1

Duty Calls

All was quiet in the nation of Equestria. The moon had taken the sun's place high in the sky, beginning the peaceful night and allowing the nation to rejuvenate and start the next day anew. Copious amounts of light permeated the stratosphere, lighting up Equestria's night in a beautiful display of the cosmos, a gift from Princess Luna to her subjects… the Princess who was leaning on her balcony outside of her quarters at the moment, taking in the fresh air while modestly admiring the work she put into the evening.

It had been several years since she had atoned for her actions as Nightmare Moon… returning as weak, feeble, and having her physical maturity temporarily reversed. That was all wiped away and a distant memory, as the weakness was replaced with and iron fortitude and her muscular atrophy replaced with exquisite tone and definition especially over her legs, back, and arms. Her attire was very casual as of late, currently donning a tank top with some mesh shorts. Her face, however, betrayed her casual mood as she held her ever notorious stoic gaze over her lands, her brilliant teal blue irises scanning the horizon for any signs of trouble. Nevertheless, she was the perfect definition of beautiful, and even then, that word did not do justice.

Those who had had the honor to personally meet the Princess of the Night would know fully well that her hardened gaze was merely a mask… one that convoluted others' view of her big heart. Over the years, however, Equestrian's unnatural fear of Luna slowly whittled away and turned into those of curiosity, admiration, mystery, and a few, disdain. However, no matter her subjects' view of her, they all had one underlying sense of feeling towards her: Respect. Luna was nowhere near as outgoing as Celestia was, who could almost always be seen fraternizing around Canterlot, Ponyville, and other places when she wasn't busy with Royal Duties, this was true. She also never could amount the social skills that her older sister possessed. But many moments in their nation's recent past, albeit in small quantities, reminded them all that the Lunar Princess cared deeply for them, and would always be there for them no matter what.

However, the past year and a half were a bit different. Public opinion of the Lunar Princess was waning slightly. She had not made an appearance anywhere in over a year, and there had been no news of her recent developments or projects. Many began to feel that she was slacking off. Others believed that she was taking a hiatus. One thing remained certain: the whereabouts of Princess Luna were largely unknown at any given time. Luna sensed this ire quite largely. After all, imagine if one of your parents was never around? You know you have one… there's physical evidence that he or she exists… yet you rarely, if at all, catch a glimpse, and even then it's sparing. It creates a sense of a vacuum. Celestia, however, did not appear concerned in the slightest, so the citizens of Equestria never really acted on their thoughts, trusting their fair Princess of the Sun with her judgment that had guided them to prosperity for generations.

Luna was dragged back to reality when she realized that all was well this evening. She then grinned to herself… something that was rarely seen in publicly released pictures of her, which usually consisted of judging Royal Court with an iron but fair fist (which was greatly respected), or leading a troop of Royal Guards and/or Soldiers on tour. All those pictures showed Luna with a commanding gaze. She had made amends with the public, especially on the notable Nightmare Night when Twilight Sparkle had to help guide her through social interaction along with the other elements. Luna smiled again at that thought.

Luna turned away from the balcony and headed back inside from the comfortable night breeze, much to her dismay and turning to her room's clock: nine o'clock PM.

In that case, I believe it's time, Luna thought to herself with a sigh. She shed her tank top and mesh shorts in front of her person-sized mirror, leaving her clad in only a teal support bra and panties. She eyed herself in her mirror, tracing the curvature of her toned (but not overly muscular) abdominal muscles absentmindedly with one of her hands, lightly fingering the small scars and healing cuts that appeared here and there with her ever stoic, yet softening, gaze. A beautiful girl stared back at her, one with a proportionally endowed body that had seen its share of conflict.

Finished examining her body, Luna picked up two cup-like, malleable, metal plates and slid them into the cups of her bra, Luna gasping slightly at the touch of cool metal against bear skin of her breasts. She adjusted her chest until she was satisfied that the plating would do its job. She then opened a large closet next to the mirror and eyed a set of military-esque equipment. She pulled out a set of pants which were covered in a forest-camouflage pattern, but had custom blotches of navy and teal blue sparsely scattered around the uniform. Luna then secured the form fitting top and tucked it into her pants before securing the whole thing with a belt, the uniform holding tight against her frame, but still allowing for comfortable movement. She then removed several conically shaped onyx plates, braces, and secured them to her shins and forearms before securing half plates to her shoulders, buttocks, obliques, and her collar bone. Finally, she pulled out a large piece, her breast plate, and secured it like clockwork; the flag of Equestria high on the right while decals of her cutie mark rested on the butt plates. She stretched and twisted to ensure a good fit, satisfied with the results. It was then that she heard a knock at the door.

"You may enter," she called out with little emotion. The door opened and in walked her sister, Princess Celestia. Luna turned to see her guest and she smiled with a small gleam in her eyes. It warmed Celestia's heart, as she never got to see that smile often… more for some reasons than others.

"How art thou, Dear Sister?" Luna asked, reverting back to her more natural speaking manner. She tended to flicker back and forth but one thing remained: she dropped the Royal first person 'We.'

"I'm well, it's just been a long day. How about you, Lulu?" she asked in return, sitting on her bed.

"I am well, I suppose… Although I could comprehensibly be in a much lighter mood than now, but I suppose you 'cannot win them all,' as they say," Luna replied, brushing her hair slightly before fishing a helmet out of her closet and setting it on her dresser next to the mirror. Celestia looked upon Luna with a bit of apprehension, not of her, but for her. Luna was always the fighter… the warrior of the family, and sometimes that worried Celestia greatly.

"Is it that time, again?" Celestia asked, already sure of the response.

"Regretfully so, Tia," Luna replied, pulling small sword out of her dresser and sheathing it to her side. Celestia merely sighed.

"Luna, you don't have to keep doing this."

"If I do not, no one else will, and the peace that has blessed Equestria for so long will be jeopardized," Luna replied in a reasoning manner. Celestia didn't respond immediately, taking a glance as Luna magically levitated a firearm out of a chest in the closet. It was a pistol, that was certain, and obviously custom designed and upgraded to Luna's specifications. Luna then produced a suppressor with her magic, levitating it to her hand before twisting it on to the barrel. Lastly, she produced a magazine, filled with crystalline projectiles that were red in hue, signifying a lethal round, and tenderly slid it into the well and carefully releasing the slide, being cautious not to arm the weapon just yet. Luna holstered the pistol on her right thigh.

"Luna, we are strong nation and have been through much. With the help of the Elements, Equestria can pull through any challenge," Celestia reasoned, curling her regal free flowing hair with one of her fingers.

"I shall not sit on my posterior and watch my subjects possibly die when something may be done preemptively. If my actions mean that Equestria may sleep another month without fear of conflict looming in their minds, then so be it," Luna replied over her shoulder. Celestia sighed again, not knowing how to argue that.

"I allowed you near supreme command of our forces, why don't you use them?" Celestia asked. Luna whirled around.

"And hide behind the valor of my subjects while I bark orders that could send our brave soldiers to their deaths?" Luna asked, almost offended.

"Luna…" Celestia tried to reason.

"This is something I must do, for the good of you, myself, the Elements, and all of Equestria. I shall not sit idly as covert and discreet threats are made against us and our subjects," Luna finished.

"Let me come with you, then," Celestia said, standing up, taller than Luna.

"No, Tia. I cannot allow that," Luna responded, holding a hand up in accentuation.

"Why the hell not, Luna? Why must you go alone always?!" Celestia asked, almost desperately. Luna found it ironic that the most iconic ruler of the nation, always strong, motherly, and fair, seemed to get desperate with words.

"Because, less numbers means less of a chance of these missions being compromised, and consequently, less casualties. Secondly, as much as you do not like to admit it, you and you alone are the face of Equestria. When people think of their leader, the see you: the fair, motherly, loving, and beautiful Princess of the Sun. I do not wish for you to take part in what I must do to help keep Equestria safe. The public does not know what my actions are, and frankly I do not wish them to know my actions."

"What's that supposed to mean, Luna?!" Celestia asked defensively.

"I am not doubting your abilities, for you are so much stronger than me in many ways. However, I am more militarily trained than you… by years and years. You are more outgoing and open with the public, and that's excellent! But what if they find out that you, their most iconic and most likely favorite ruler have killed? That Princess Celestia has taken the life of another, regardless of if it was for the good of others?" Luna asked. Celestia merely lowered her head in concession. Luna walked up to her and gingerly cupped her face in her palms, having Celestia look at her in the eyes.

"I cannot, and will not allow that. Let the public believe what they want about me right now, but it is my duty as co-ruler of this nation to keep them safe, and it is for the better that they know not of my actions, having it be kept between Equestrian Intelligence, yourself, and me. However, they need someone to watch over them at home, so I know that they are safe under my powerful sister's watchful eye and magic prowess," Luna said affectionately, pulling her sister into a hug in which Celestia readily embraced.

"I… I just can't lose you again, Luna," Celestia said somberly, her chin buried in Luna's neck and her cheek resting on the cold shoulder plate, her other cheek against Luna's.

"I shall be careful; you know that I always am. What always helps me fight on, even when I know that failure is high, is that I have the loving embrace of a sister, and the quiet but subtle admiration of a nation waiting for me when I return… and knowing that both are safe is what makes everything worthwhile," Luna continued cooing. They broke the hug and Luna walked to her dresser, sliding the helmet onto her head and securely fastening it. She then picked up other equipment: a spade, crystalline lights, and other cylindrical objects that Celestia wasn't sure what they were, and strapped them to her belt. Finally, Luna reached into her closet once more and flared her magic, levitating and retrieving a small assault rifle to her hands; examining it before strapping it to her back. Luna fastened and secured extra magazines and other spare munitions before turning back to Celestia.

"How long will you be gone?" Celestia asked.

"If all goes well, you should see me tomorrow at breakfast," Luna said with another grin.

"Very well," Celestia responded, grinning once more. The two embraced tightly again before Luna departed to her door, Celestia following. There were two Lunar Guards ready to escort the Princess of the Night to a special armored chariot which would take her to her destination.

"Take care of yourself, Lulu," Celestia said as Luna was walking away, flanked on either side by a guard. Luna turned her head back and grinned cryptically.

"The Night shall guide me, Celestia. Sleep well tonight," Luna replied.

"I love you."