My Little Pony: Change
Chapter 1: Home Again
"Come on men!" A white unicorn stallion with a blue and cyan colored mane and tail called out. "We need this place looking perfect!" The stallion sighed and mumbled to himself. "Years of training to become captain of the guard, and I'm planning a gala..."
"Chin up Shining, this years gala is special." A pink alicorn with a long flowing mane of pink, violet and yellow, said to the stallion. "Sleep Tight and his men are finally coming back from their four year expedition. You should be happy you get to put this together for them." She smiled kindly at him.
"Yeah I know... but if you really like this job so much why don't you take it. Then you can tell the public Princess Cadence personally took part in the welcoming home of the hard working army men."
She cringed a bit as her caring smile slowly turned sour and fake. "Oh I'd love to but... ya know paper work and princess-ly duties are very important and-" Shining armor cut her off.
"Sure, sure whatever. Just don't complain if there's an over abundance of apple cider."
"I'm fine with that. Now if you'll excuse me." she started to walk out of the main hall. "I do actually have some work to get done. I'll be back in time to make dinner okay?"
"Alright then see you tonight."
After hours of decorating, ordering food, hiring catering services, bumping up security around the castle and making sure all the right invites got to all the right people. Finally everything was ready for the gala.
"Four years away from home is a lot more emotionally draining than I thought it'd be." A gray unicorn, stallion with a black mane said while making his way towards the castle. His cutie mark resembled a shield with a full moon engraved on it.
"Wait a second Redone... you thought it wouldn't be emotionally draining?" A Pegasus stallion with a brown coat and blond mane, asked following him.
"Well Sleep-Tight I like the outdoors. So I thought less of this whole thing."
"Love the outdoors my hoof."
"We just got back and you two are already fighting." A black unicorn stallion with a crimson mane replied walking up to them. His cutie mark was a single shield guarding a lone star-like object.
"Hey, Stand-Alone. Did you get to see Double?" Sleep-Tight asked.
"Yup she's doing fine. I'm glad her friend's parents are so nice. I feel like such a terrible parent. Leaving her for four years."
"No need to feel so down on yourself. You were doing your duty to protect Equestria."
"We were on a hunting mission for pretty much nothing."
"Hey!" Redone yelled in protest. "We didn't come back with nothing, we came back with plenty."
"We also lost plenty..."
"Eons gave his life to his country..." Sleep Tight replied. "Celestia bless him..."
"Is this really the time to have this argument?" An earth pony stallion said with a white coat and black mane. His cutie mark was a shield with a sun and moon on it.
"Equal has a point."
"Besides Celestia and Luna will decide if we came home with nothing or not." Redone added.
"I suppose you're right." Stand-Alone replied a bit begrudgingly.
Finally after a long walk to the castle the four were greeted with warm welcomes and were held in high regard. After a bit of commotion from their return Celestia finally broke up the crowds and had the four ponies come to greet her and her sister.
"Princess Celestia, princess Luna it's an honor to see you two." Sleep Tight said with a bow followed by the other three.
"Please, my little ponies no need to bow. We're friends aren't we?"
"Er- Right." Redone said as they all stood straight. Though Celestia was friends with all of the royal guard only Sleep Tight and Shining Armor were ever really comfortable with it.
"I'm sure you want to what we've discovered?" Equal asked about to pull something out of his Saddlebag.
Celestia smiled at her sister who nodded back to her. "That will have to wait until later."
"Be it for now, enjoy the gala we have thrown for you." Luna continued gesturing towards the Gala before them.
"Are you sure princesses?" Redone asked.
"If you say so my princesses." Sleep Tight added.
"Thank you princesses." The stallions said with a bow and ran off into the party to look for friends.
On there way down the steps back into where everypony was Shining Armor stopped them. "Guys!"
"Shining!" Sleep Tight called out hugging him followed by the rest doing the same.
"It's been awhile." Stand Alone said with a smile.
"Yeah it has." Shining replied. "Hope you four like the gala so far. I had to plan it."
"You got stuck with Gala planning?" Redone asked. "Ha, sucker."
"Well If you haven't noticed Equestria is kinda of a peaceful place."
"It's been awhile." Equal added. "Peace isn't something we're used to."
"You have a point. Say where's Eons?"
Sleep Tight hung his head. "We lost Eons to an Ursa Major..." Sleep Tight took a breath. "But let's not have that get in the way of tonight. He died doing what he loved, protecting Equestria."
"I'll make sure to send word to set up a funeral then..."
"Thank you." Equal said with a smile.
"Well... how about we all go get a drink of apple cider."
"Thought you'd never ask." Stand Alone replied with a small chuckle.
"Great I called for extra just for tonight." Shining headed to a table with enough pillows for all five of them plus one.
"Say where's your lovely wife?" Stand Alone said with a smirk while sitting down.
"How did you know I was married?" Shining Armour sat down.
"We had an owl deliver mail about once or twice a year." Redone added sitting down as well. "A royal wedding and attack on Canterlot was pretty important information to get to us."
"We almost got pulled out." Equal said sitting down.
"I kind of wanted to," Stand Alone replied sitting down with them trying to see if a waiter was near. "Knowing my daughter was in danger worried me sick."
"We had to convince you to stay until we got the order to fall back to Canterlot." Sleep Tight said laughing.
"It's so bad I was scared to loose my daughter?"
"No that's fine."
"Nearly killing us was bad though." Equal said with a twitch in his eye.
Shining Armor chuckled. "Seems like you all had quite the adventure."
"Adventure doesn't begin to explain it." Redone added placing a hoof on his face.
"So again I must ask. Where is Cadence?" Sleep Tight asked.
"She'll be here soon." Shining Armor said. "She's dealing with greeting everypony she sees."
"How did you get away then? Being a captain of the royal guard and married to Cadence."
"Easy, get here before she did." They all laughed. "Actually I had to deal with all of that before she arrived..."
"Oh..." Sleep Tight cleared his throat.
"So drinks?" Redone asked.
"Oh right." Shining armor called for a waiter. "Could we please have five glasses of apple cider?"
"Of course sirs." The waiter replied bowing his head.
"Oh! And one grape juice for my wife when she gets here."
"So what've we missed while we've been away?" Redone asked.
"Nothing really of importance. Other than the Discord thing... and Chrysalis."
"Figured as much." Stand Alone added.
Sleep Tight looked at the two princesses. "Seeing Luna is... weird."
"Oh yeah you guys missed all that huh?"
"Just a bit."
"I will admit she's as beautiful as the books said." Equal said with a pink on his cheeks
"Don't go crushing on a princess Equal." Shining Armor replied.
"You're one to talk." Redone snickered.
"Your drinks sirs." The waiter said, back with the drinks they ordered.
"Ah thank you." Shining Armor replied.
"Of course." he left with a bow.
"Drinking already?" A pink alicorn asked sneaking up behind Shining Armor.
Shining Armor jumped almost spilling his glass. "What's wrong with having a drink Cadence?"
"Nothing I've come to expect it from you shining, but I thought these four would at least wait until a day after they returned." Cadence sat down next to Shining Armor and kissed his cheek.
"Well the sun has set. does that count as a day?" Redone asked.
"I'm just kidding, you four deserve a drink." She said taking Shining Armor's glass of apple cider and replacing it with a glass of water. "You've earned it." She took a sip of her grape juice.
"Thank you princess." Sleep Tight said with a chuckling taking a sip of his apple cider.
"No problem Sleep Tight."
"So how has life treated you two?" Stand Alone asked sipping his cider.
"It's treated us well." Shining Armor added not bothering with his water. "Aside for the long rebuilding of Canterlot we had to go through it's been great."
"How's sweet little Double?" Cadence asked. "Is she okay?"
"I got to check on her before I came here she's fine. She told me all about what she's been doing waiting for me..." Stand Alone looked down into his drink. "She was so happy..."
Cadence nodded with a smile. "I bet she would be."
After a bit of an awkward silence from Stand Alone the six of them started to share stories from the four years they had been apart. Including moments like when Redone was trapped in quicksand for a whole day and Shining Armor's horrible attempts at asking Cadence out.
Finally after about an hour of talking and drinking Celestia and Luna walked up to the six. "You four, we need to speak with you." Celestia said in almost a demanding tone.
"It's of utmost importance." Luna continued.
"We understand." Sleep Tight stood up. "Come on guys."
The other three stood up. "Yes sir." They all stood in line in front of the princesses.
Shining Armor stood up. "I said you four, shining armor..." Celestia said as a way to get him to sit down again. As such he did understanding the situation. "Come, my little ponies."
The four followed Celestia and Luna to the garden.
Once they reached the garden Celestia sighed facing the group. "I'm sorry for cutting your night short. We wanted to be able to relax your first day home but somethings come up and we need to know what you found in the south."
"Of course." Equal pulled out a black and green sharp metal object from his saddlebag. "We found this odd metal. I honestly have no clue what it's made of."
"Neither Stand Alone or Redone can touch it with their magic." Sleep Tight added.
"And digging it out with our hooves didn't work so this was all we could bring back."
"Magic couldn't touch it?" Celestia asked.
"Yes, any magic it comes in contact with either reflects or just disappears."
"Sister we should send a group of ponies to mine this Metal." Luna added.
"I agree... but not now, things are too dire to send anypony out."
"If I may ask princesses." Sleep Tight interjected. "What is this 'dire situation'?"
"Celestia sighed looking at Luna then back at the ponies. "Changlings are advancing towards Canterlot. They don't seem to be armed but... they weren't armed last time they attacked."
"Why aren't we on high alert!?" Stand Alone said stomping his hoof in protest.
"Calm yourself Stand Alone. They don't seem to be attacking. They would have brought more than such a small group if they were."
"But they might be trying to take someponies place again."
"He has a point." Redone added followed by Luna shooting dagers at him with her eyes.
"Don't you think if they were doing that they'd try a less obvious approach?" Sleep Tight asked.
"Do you think they don't actually want to fight?" Equal suggested.
"There is no way to know until they reach Canterlot." Celestia said. "Until then here are your orders. First, Remain on high alert and work with Shining Armor to make sure Canterlot is safe, but do not, I repeat do not have Shining Armor use his protection spell we don't need that. Second if you can try and find out why the Changlings are coming to Canterlot, if you can not that is fine. Third do not tell anypony about this. We don't need a panic. Forth bring this odd metal to our scientists and try and figure out what it is. Last but not least... enjoy your time home... you might not be able to for long. Got it!?"
The four ponies Saluted to their princesses. "Yes Ma'am!"
"Good you may go back to the Gala. Inform Shining and Cadence of your orders after the Gala and you are in private."
"Yes Ma'am!" They stopped saluting and walked back into the castle.
"Do you really think those five can handle this on their own sister?" Luna asked.
"They have to little sister... they have to..." Celestia walked back to the Gala leaving Luna to her thoughts.