Princess of the Ruins

by Orbiting Kettle

Chapter 1: She Shall Reign Over the End

Luna was suspended in the middle of a web of wires and tubes. Belts held her above the circle of glowing runes carved into the floor, metal bands ran along her legs and joined together on her back before parting and covering her wings. Her mane hung limp and gray. Her eyes were closed.

The room was silent save for her ragged breathing and the subdued whispering of the machines.

"Calling me is a perfectly viable way to get my attention, Luna."

Luna opened her eyes and looked down at the mare standing in front of her. Her mane waved in an invisible breeze. She stood straight, her posture and stature radiating almost tangible authority. And yet it was her eyes that fascinated Luna every time. They seemed to cut through all the lies and delusions and stare directly into one’s soul. She tried to remember when they had changed. Luna said, "I didn't think you would have come, Princess Twilight." Her voice was barely above a whisper.

Twilight frowned. "Then you thought wrong. I always come."

"Not soon enough."

Twilight shook her head. "I'm often busy, it comes with the role. You should remember that." A shining surface with moving symbols appeared in front of her. "That still isn't a good reason for wrestling the Moon from its scheduled orbit. That's one of the duties you abandoned. They have been gracious enough at the Celestial Control Center as to not press charges. At least if this doesn't happen again. Have you any idea how much trouble—"

"I won't see the next dawn."

Twilight looked up. She opened her mouth, then closed it. She bit her lip and lowered her eyes again on the surface. Her eyes moved rapidly to follow the symbols scrolling faster and faster. "Is there a problem with your life support? I do not see anything strange here, but I can call the technicians to check it up."

Luna laughed. It was a weak and pathetic sound, barely distinguishable a fit of coughs and devoid of mirth. She said, "You were never good at lying, not even to yourself. You don't believe that. You know it as well as me, there's nothing anypony can do. My time is up and this will be my last night. It's our privilege and our burden to be aware of the final stretch of our fate."

"Fate," Twilight spat the word out and looked Luna in the eyes. "A word cowards use to feel good about losing the control of their lives. There is no fate. There are causes and consequences and what we do with them." She looked around. "Where is Doctor Chitin? We will have him checking you."

"I sent him away. I wanted a bit of privacy for this. Please, stay here and listen to me," Luna said. "I wanted to talk to you. I need to bring you closure. I need closure."

"Well, let us talk then. I always have been ready for a talk." She opened her eyes again and looked up to Luna. "Will you apologize?"

"Not for what we had to do. It was necessary."

"You had to do? You didn't have to do anything." Twilight snarled. "You lied to me. For three centuries you fooled me. You made me go through the worst the world had to offer time and time again."

Luna turned her head slightly. A bundle of cables shifted. As she answered her voice was barely louder than a rough whisper. "And I would do it again. Even if it breaks my heart, it was the right thing to do."

"Then what kind of closure do you want? Another shouting match?" Twilight closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "I had one with Celestia before she... I will not... What do you want?"

"To not repeat the mistakes of my sister. I don't want your last memory of me being one of a fight." Luna shifted a bit her weight. Her muscles were weak, but the metal reacted to her intentions. Legs moved and wings moved and she settled into a more comfortable position. "I want to make peace."

"Apologize. Apologize for having groomed me to rule over ruins. For having shunned your responsibilities."

"We never did that. We prepared you to be a good princess."

"You prepared me to manage failure and didn't ever try to stop what you thought was coming. It was you who illuminated me about my grand destiny! At the height of the reign of the ponies two sisters shall govern night and day. Luna will be the keeper of Moon, Celestia shall guard the sun, and when the end will come Twilight will see the demise of Equestria." Twilight stomped with her hoof. "You could have told me and I would have prepared. Instead, you lied and shaped me into the overseer of your failures."

Luna looked at Twilight, at the minuscule tears gathering at the corner of her eyes. Luna cursed silently the failing body keeping her bound up there. "I simply told you about the prophecy. I admit there was some uncertainty about the exact translation, an ambiguity with the words Sunset and Twilight, but it was what would be. We couldn't stop it, only try to protect our ponies."

"Cut it. Your precious prophecy was a bunch of nonsense. There was no decadence, no end. Equestria still stands despite you abandoning your places."

"We didn't abandon them. We abdicated because the time had come for you to take control."

Twilight snorted. "And you knew that because you felt it, right?"

Luna gritted her teeth. "Now you are just as stubborn and unreasonable as you accused us of being. We all have a peculiar connection to fate. You would feel it too if you could accept it." Then she whispered. "And we knew you were ready. You were everything we hoped for and more. You were magnificent."

Twilight looked up to Luna, her lips a thin line. She raised her hoof and wiped away the tears. "And yet you prepared me to witness the end of everything." She chuckled. "What a colossal waste. At the end, nothing happened."

"Twilight, please open the curtains and look outside."

Twilight glared at here, then shrugged and walked to the curtains. She pulled them aside revealing a large window.

The moon covered in a net of silver lines and surrounded by a halo of lights shone in the night sky. Below it was the City, an endless expanse of towers and lights. Each building was unique, with walls covered in paintings, mosaics or hanging gardens. On the ground ample boulevards teeming with life separated the towers, up in the air willowy bridges united them. And everywhere citizens walked, played and lived their lives.

"You remember the old Equestria, you were there. It took me a long time to understand it. Age, pride, and stubbornness seem to be an ailment that affected me and my sister more than we thought. Tell me, where are the little villages? Where are the wide, empty plains? Where's the white Capitol sitting on the mountain?"

Twilight looked at her City. Minutes passed before she answered, "They are gone." A griffon carrying some grubs passed in front of the window, closely followed by a flock of pegasus foals. "Gone along with the barriers separating us from other species. Gone with the poverty. Gone with the risk of losing everything because some ancient horror felt it was time to stretch its legs again."

Twilight turned around and looked at Luna. "You may be right. The old Equestria is gone, but this,"—she pointed with her hoof at the window—"this is better."

Luna smiled. "It is, Twilight, and now I see it too.”

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