The next Chapter of Carefully Tamed Chaos. In this chapter I introduce Baron Tewkebury, the Prince and the Grand Admiral. I really like the characters, and I hope that you will too.

Ceremonial Boredom

To recount the breakfasts of Spike and Twilight Sparkle would be a waste of time. Hay waffles and the last of the turquoise. Nor would any reader be blessed by the tearful fare wells of Applejack’s family. Rainbow Dash’s kidnapping of Fluttershy to the train depot would be humorous to recount but ultimately a waste of time and ruinous to the pace. Rarity had the least exciting of all, as she merely had toast, used her magic to carry her luggage to the train station where the pink train inhabited it’s proper place. Pinkie Pie showed up out of nowhere and held breakfast cupcakes for everyone who needed the extra fiber.

Granny Pie’s last words before they departed deserve the proper respect. They were meant for all, including us. “Applejack, everyone, I need to give you a few words. Listen, you never know who is saying something important, but don’t talk unless you have to. Don’t give into the courtly fashions, but don’t look like a pauper at the same times. Don’t promise or take money that’s not a gift. But, above all, to your own self be true. If you can do these things, fillies, you’re gonna do alright.” At the end of her little speech, Applejack hugged the wrinkled little old mare tightly.

And so the train, filled to the gills with female ponies, a young dragon, a circus, enough fashion to cook the editors of ‘Empire’s Vogue’ in their own fashion juices, several secreted animals and the entire collection of Daring Do’s books. Twilight took her own luggage, three packs filled with, books, clothes and books. Applejack was the only one who likely packed rationally. She had in a saddlebag an extra stetson, rope, her frou-frou gear, a small bag of apples and a gasmask.

There were also three stowaways.

In the rafters of the final car in that garishly pink train hid three very small fillies. Applebloom, yellow and red but no coward and not angry at all, Sweetie Bell, with her sister’s white and her own unique multi-pink hair, and Scootaloo with her orange and purple hair all huddled in a pink piece of luggage that said “Do not expose to vacuum.” Oh they were clever, cleverer than is right for three little fillies.

Applebloom figured that they wouldn’t get past the first custom’s office. Scootaloo wanted to see the great space foundries of the Solar System, where the facilities are so large they have their own light gravity. Sweetie Bell was scared that her parents would worry too much about her, despite the letters she left at every household.

Indeed, they were far too clever. How would they know that the massive amount of luggage, so precisely packed by Spike and Pinkie Pie, would drive the very custom’s chief of all Equestria to say, quote. “Screw it, it’s all party supplies anyway. Put it in the pressurized cargo containers and fuggetaboutit.” And that’s what happened. But that’s the future, somewhat.

The past itself is much more important, as it introduces three original characters of great importance to the plot. First, is the spidery Baron Tewkesbury. The next two will be very visible, the good captain and the heroic prince.

The train chugged into the station with a Chakchakchakchakchak that slowed to a ptsuuuu chug chug chug chug until it stopped with one last Ptsuuuu. The dock workers and custom house men knew that the pink train meant they needed to work. So they filed out and watched, humans and ponies alike, and waited for the whistles, the yelling, that would start their labors. Some actually enjoyed the work, like one orange unicorn with a magical freight train cutie mark (his parents thank the stars that he did not interpret it as hoboism), but the rest were in it for the filthy lucre they earned daily. One had to eat.

The seven passengers disembarked as soon as they could. The pink locomotive was beginning to feel hot and cramped. The breeze at the Canterlot train yards was good. The moutains around Canterlot had a habit of shunting the weather towards it, which is partly why Cloudsdale was usually so close by. Fortunately, today was one of the rare ‘suns out and temps in the seventies’ days where the sun was out and no one was roasting or freezing.

The seven were shunted by orderlies as quickly as possible to Canterlot castle. The castle was ripped from fairy tale and fantasy. Spires cast themselves up in multi-hues that charmed eye and soul. Indeed, humans found Canterlot an excellent vacationing spot akin to what Disney land was before John Lasseter went mad and committed unspeakable abominations. Children of all kinds ran about, humans and ponies ate at the highfaluting restaurants and various officials did their bureaucratic necessities at all comfortable places.

The seven main characters were whisked by a coffee house that held a cadre of artists holding a demonstration of human/pony art. They passed a busker pony breathing fire and juggling knives. They briefly saw a violinist -human- playing human tunes for coins to be placed in her violin case. They glimpsed a series of acrobat ponies doing great feats that no pony had ever done before, obviously.

Finally pushed into the gates of the very citadel, they found themselves without instruction. Rainbow Dash settled on a gargoyle and yawned. “Oh come on! They drag us all over the place and expect us to just WAIT here?”

Fluttershy flustered with her purse and drew out a baby carrot which she nibbled to hide her nervousness. “Oh… I’m sure they’ve got good reasons…”

Rainbow Dash waved a hoof in dismissal. “Those hum-drum bureaus don’t have good reason for diddly! It’s all paper work this and paper work that… TRIPLICATED” She spread her wings and nearly shouted. Spike and Pinkie Pie giggled. Twilight rolled her eyes. Rarity was fussing with her mane and hat and had no idea what was going on, but giggled a little anyway.

Applejack was distracted even more than any of them. The reason was soon apparent. “Uncle Baron Tewkesbury! Over here!” She waved at a officious and old looking pony.

Baron Tewkesbury was a red pony with green, spidery hair. His sides were almost as wrinkled as his face, old wounds from long ago journeys less pleasant than any of the others had. He had a sour look about him. He scowled at her, but came over anyway. “Niece Applejack of the Sweet Apple Acres Apples.” He was very dead pan, and dry voiced. He coughed wetly in a disturbing contrast. “Always a pleasure.”

“What brings you here?” She said warmly. The older pony stared at her with annoyance. Twilight Sparkle realized that the Baron only coming up to her neck at best, having to look up to her. He was also very old, but the wrinkles were not as bad as Granny Smith’s were. Twilight wondered how big he had been in his youth. Applejack continued talking at him, introducing her friends and what they were doing here. He seemed to be annoyed at each passing syllable.

“I’m head of the negotiations, Applejack. I’m the head diplomat and this entire initiative, which, for some reason, I’m taking you all along. While you’ve done very important things for Equestria…” He stared at Rainbow Dash meaningfully. “The wrong word can ruin everything for us. If we could get to colonize planet, it would mean we were the same as the humans. We would be closer to equals with the humans than ever before.”

His eyes were sap-colored and rheumy. Twilight wondered if pride kept him from glasses. His voice was hoarse and harsh as he continued to speak. She wondered what adventures he had had in his youth. His cutie mark was a small red apple over a saddle. She knew he wasn’t a baron because he was born into it. He had paid for the peer title out of a legendary horde of gold. How he defeated the guardian dragon he kept to himself. Rainbow Dash made rude sounds at him from her perch.

“Why little niece Sugar-jack! Mother’s son’s daughter! Look at you!” A mare came in, as old as the Baron himself, and much larger. She had a build more akin to Big Macintosh than the more normal Applejack. Her voice was loud and proud. A dark green with a matching light green mane. Her cutie mark was an apple crisp, with a ladle behind it. Her eyes were red.

Applejack and her met in a hurricane of familial love and passion. They pressed against each other very hard. “Auntie Crisp! It’s been a year and a day!” She said, they twirled and stared at each other. Apples are a close knit family, and besides the various factions having their great moots every year or so, there is still that close connection in the immediate family, which, of course, extends to the fifth cousins.

“My goodness, Auntie! You haven’t aged a day!” Applejack was absolutely ecstatic, her father’s kin were few and far between.

“Aw it’s all the family I’ve been producing, Sugar-jack!” Her brood was legendary. The only thing that had stopped her was sheer age. “You’ve got your father’s blood in you girl! You’ve got to get yourself a proper STUD!” Applejack blushed heavily and flipped her hat down over eyes, having long forgotten that Auntie Apple Crisp was rather… outgoing.

“Aw shucks, Auntie, Ah’m young yet! No hurry.”

“Nonsense girl! Old Bear and I were just your age when he rescued me from the…”

Baron Tewkesbury made vomiting sounds. “Yes yes. Lets get on and not keep anybody important waiting.” He made a move to the citadel entrance, the grand foyer was just beyond the doors. “Apparently only thing that remains is the shuttle bearing the Prince of the Empire of Man and the Captain of the ship we’ll be staying on the journey to Earth.

Above, there was the rumble of atmosphere engines. Baron shook his head grimly. “And that will be the two of them all standing for ceremony. Come along!”

The doors opened by some unseen mechanism. Out poured the BROOD OF BARON TEWKESBURY. It was a legendary brood, second largest ever recorded. Out poured children, younglings, foals, colts stallions and mares. Out poured smaller families with children of their own. Out poured earth ponies, but also unicorns and pegasi sauntered or flew out. It was a small army of brats, youths and middle-aged ponies all under one family banner.

What came out next were the myriad, unmemorable introductions. The six non-apples were treated to every single type of accent that has ever existed in Equestria. They heard every dixie, drawl, cajun, urban and affect that was possible. There were even a griffin shriek in there. They came to face to face with palace guards, with business ponies, with good ole’boys and grande dams.

Finally, Baron Tewkesbury and Auntie Crisp properly introduced themselves with all the pomp they deserved. Finally over, criers were beginning to announce the festivities. The baron grumbled bad spiritedly and his dam hummed in good spiritedly. THE BROOD OF BARON TEWKESBURY followed them obediently. The seven finally found themselves alone, and Applejack was the only one who had any idea what was going on.

“Aw! Come on ya’ll it’s time to go in!”

“What just happened…?” Rarity mumbled. Pinkie Pie was still shaking both fore-hooves in some sort of seizure. Fluttershy appeared from behind a statue and Rainbow Dash stretched her wings as far as she could and began to flit about, trying to regain the feeling in them. Twilight Sparkle stumbled forward. Spike was being dragged by her magic, having gone something like comatose.

“I don’t know, but it’s time for the ceremony.”

The grand foyer filled in with functionaries and noblemen. It was not just ponies coming to see the very heir of the Empire of Man, it was humans, too. A long, lone Goz-o-gog sat silently on its hovering propulsion chair, breathing it’s methanated oxygen through tubes implanted in its flesh. Another alien sat upside down in the eves, a horrible and ugly Queren, a traveler from beyond the Empire’s boundaries.

Princesses Celestia and Luna stood in the back, regal and imperious as they should be. Technically, as regents of an entire planetary system, they were second only to the very family of the Empire of man and their authority-given servants. White Celestia’s multi-pasteled mane flowed gracefully, covering one eye without looking like she styled it that way. Navy-Blue and serious Luna stood a step behind her. She had let the lunar-arcane powers- that were her right- gather behind her, cooling the great room and stardust seemed to sprinkle a little, enhancing the aura of both Princesses.

The doors opened. First, they cracked open. Creaking ever slowly and painfully slow. Then they sped up as the Pegasi guards gained speed. Finally the doors thrust themselves at full sped, WHUMPING into their full open position. The Pegasi Guards fluttered out, tired and very wanting to get the -HONK- out as fast as possible.

The vanguards were five and twenty Imperial Guardsmen. They were arrayed in the bulky and intimidating black and gold armor that was their custom. The Guardsmen were led by one whose black and gold was completely reversed. They each stood nine feet tall and each carried a powerful carbine in their hands. Their hips holstered a pistol, customized to each member, and a long saber, also customized, unique to each. Legend says they forged their armor themselves in the very heart of the planet Mars. Truth says that it was a contractor who did operate from Mars itself.

They filed in and spread out, eleven on each side of the doors. The first was a standard bearer, with the symbol of a great scarlet rampant lion guardant (facing out) with crossed tail and claws that dripped over a field of gold. This is the symbol of the Emperor. It flowed a little in the breeze. The lion stood over a black key and a crossed brown book, representing that the Empire knew it’s foundation in Christianity. Unfortunately, no pony except the Princesses, Twilight Sparkle and maybe Pinkie Pie had any idea what any of these things meant, besides the pomp.

The gold and black took three steps in front of his black and gold battle siblings and began to cry out. “PONIES! HUMANS! DISTINGUISHED GUESTS! I present the heir to the Empire! The man who will lead us to future glory and the man who will live forever! WARLORD OF MARS, GRAND DUKE OF VENUS, VISCOUNT OF ALPHA CENTAURI, SOVEREIGN OVER THE PLEIEDES AND BARONET OF NOO JOISEY, HADRIAN TIBERIUS.” There was a pause. “AND HIS LOYAL CLONE, GRAND ADMIRAL HAD TIB, THE CONQUEROR OF THIRTEEN STAR SYSTEMS AND VICTOR OF 100 BATTLES!”

The Gold and Black stepped aside, revealing the Prince, and five and twenty of his Imperial Guards behind him. On his side, though, was a little more diminutive figure, but all eyes were on the heir-apparent. After all, what is a Grand Admiral when the heir to the greatest known space empire was present?

The Heir had obviously been gene-groomed while still in the womb. The heir would not be legitimate if he had been born in any other manner. He looked perfect. His hair was golden and wavy, his face painful for the self-inferiority it inflected. Even Rainbow Dash and Rarity, purveyors of the finest stallions, were feeling hot under the harness. His eyes were the clearest blue that pierced and pulled you apart, yet you did not mind one second of it. He wore golden and silvered armor, less bulky and much more sleek than his guards. On his brow he wore a royal coronet with a great diamond diadem.

The clone slouched next to him. He was bald, his eyes were dirty-gold and his posture terrible. He did look much like the Prince in the face, but there were no other similarities. He wore an unassuming officer’s uniform. It was black with silver linings. His only true measure of rank was the bars he wore on his uniform. He had an officer cap that he held under an arm in deference to his original model.

Directly behind the two of them were four female servants. They bore a sword, olive branch, basin of water and a model of a space ship. They were clad in damask white and wore veils. The items they carried represented: War, Peace, Knowledge and Space. They moved only when the prince moved. Behind them were almost exact copies of the five and twenty guardsmen who had filed in front.

The Prince took several steps forward and addressed the crowd assembled in his honor. “My Little Ponies! I wish I could spend the time with you to properly know you and understand your culture, but the greater empire calls to me. I have heard, though, of your loyalty to the Empire and the benevolence of your monarch, Princess Celestia!” Polite Applause. Giant queue cards were held up by ushers.

“And I congratulate Princess Luna, personally, for her removal of that curse that was laid on her!” Not quite true but no one was going to tell him differently. More polite applause.

“I hope and pray that you will continue to prosper on this fine planet of Terra Equestria! I will now meet with your ruler and hear of your great works. Remember, the empire knows who are its friends, and it’s promise to them is UNWAVERING!” More applause, a few of the humans shouted and whistled. The ponies politely stamped their hooves.

He waltzed through a center aisle that appeared. The clone and the guards followed. The Princess bowed her head to him, then led the way to an inner room. The guards blocked the way as the doors closed. Twilight suddenly found Baron Tewkesbury by her flank. “Quickly! Teleport the two of us to that room.” He whispered wetly, he coughed almost immediately afterward. She nearly jumped.

“But I can’t… it could hurt you!”

“Filly, I’m Apple family. Just do it!” A flash and the two of them into the inner chamber. Baron was smoking a little when they arrived. Prince Hadrian Tiberius was shocked, but Grand Admiral Had Tib showed no sign of it.

The Princess Celestia took charge quickly. “Ah! Twilight Spark and the Baron Tewkesbury. I was about to call for you.” She raised a hoof in a minor placating gesture, hoping to calm the Prince. “I should have been quicker in informing you that they were coming.” Prince Hadrian regained his wits.

“Of course! Your personal student. It’s a pleasure.” He bent himself in a near-bow. He dipped his head at the same time. Twilight Sparkle was feeling extremely uncomfortable.

“Please! No need for that!”

“It is but a courtesy.” He turned to the Baron. “The Princess has told me of your mighty deeds. I believe that you would be a mighty asset to the empire. I only doubt that pony kind alone is enough to colonize a planet.”

The Baron was not going to have any of that! “My Lord Prince, when I was young I traveled the entire world. I saw the ruins of civilizations and the beginnings of new ones. I slew a dragon to save the mare I loved and I’ve mounted cockatrices on my wall for SPORT. Even if you doubt the species, do not doubt ME.”

The Prince looked at him for a second, then laughed. “Indeed! I was a fool to doubt you, master Baron.” He stopped laughing and became serious. “Enough. I am for Pony colonization of the Salamis System. However, my father, the Emperor, will not.”

The Baron wryly grinned. “You do not wish him to live forever?”

The Prince smiled. “Oh, I never said that!”

The Grand Admiral spoke up. “You’re both so clever!” He took a step forward. “Right now our enemies are the War Council and the Emperor. Popular opinion is for the colony, as is most of the nobles. They figure that some passive ponies will replace some more… volatile members of the nobility. Not that they’ve met you, Baron.”

Twilight took her turn. “Wait, I thought that Admiral Pellon would be for us? Are there any others on the War Council on our side?”

The Princess pawed the ground. “Twilight, Pellon disappeared without a trace after he left us. His ship left orbit and no one has seem the Dauntless since.” Twilight looked down and made mumbling noises. “I’m sorry my student, I did not want to tell you.”

The Baron shook his mane. “That doesn’t matter. We can cut out the war council from this. The Salamis System is close by. We can put it under the purview of Rear Admiral Shining Armor and whatever allies we have. I’ve got dossiers that could help us decide.”

The Prince and Grand Admiral nodded. “Short term solution I’ll solve later. There is still the Emperor, though.” The Prince explained. “And the war council cannot be underestimated. But if the Emperor could be swayed, we need not fear them.”

The Princess Luna shook her starry mane and added her two bits. “But we have divined his heart. Do not take this as a threat, but his heart is blacker than the hearts that reside in Tartauros. I sensed his hatred as Nightmare Moon. She called him a… kindred spririt.” She shuddered at the memory. “I fear that she may have had an inkling of joining with him.”

The Prince and the Grand Admiral listened with serious faces. Ponies had played the Nightmare Moon incident very close to the flank, and the face that Luna had been restored was the only common thread. Had Tib spoke first. “Disturbing. I thought him maybe a little mad, but not evil.”

The Prince put out his hand. “STOP!” Everyone looked at him in surprise. He felt awkward, though he didn’t want to mention it. “I would not have my father spoken of in that way. The empire has not diminished during his reign. You would do well to know that.”

Celestia nodded. “Yes, of course. We do not truly know if he will deny our request yet. The Baron, as you all know, will go to the great senate and make the case for us. We will plan a new once we know his answer.” She looked at Twilight, addressing her directly. “Twilight will keep me informed through Spike. It’s magic based and basically instant.” The two humans kept their interest well hidden. Magic was another benign mystery to them. All they knew was that a Unicorn Battle Mage could rip out a soldier’s spine with it.

Silence.

Had Tib clapped his hands once. “We’ve said enough. I’m going to head up. Prince, I suggest you have tea with the Princess and get some pictures taken. It’s good publicity. By the time you’ve had some pomp and circumstance, I’ll be ready to depart.” The Prince dismissed him. “Come along, master Baron, mistress Sparkle.”

Twilight looked at the Princess, who smiled kindly at her. “Send letters, Twilight, we can talk all we want through Spike.” The Baron was already on his way out. He did not look back. Twilight also looked forwards, but as soon as she could, she gathered her friends.

It was a comfort as they crowded around her, wanting to know what had happened. The Baron was in a similar situation, his enormous wife badgering him for information. They gave the same response. Talk later, we need to leave, now.

Tomorrow, I shall post the latest chapter.

 

 

 

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