Hello reader dear, here’s a new story I’ve wrote…this one isn’t rightly a writing commission, it is however a Christmas gift to my best friend Italianschizoidboy, who asked that for this holiday season I write him a story of dystopia and magical ponies, a weird thing to do for Yuletide enjoyment since typically I don’t associate candy canes and ornamented trees with Big Brother and his evil mustache, but to each his own, come read on and see just what sort of world I’ve weaved today.
Everypony (and non-pony) depicted here the property of Hasbro, except the guards and the alluded to Fox Fire, who are mine, Silent Moon belongs to Italianschizoidboy.
It was two months since the sun and moon had gained orbits, it was one month since the Silent Moon government had taken hold over Equestria, spreading his darker vision of the world across it. Leaving the rest of the world to his friend, the one who helped him give the sun its orbit.
His reign harbored some alien ideas, things that to the majority of the population were nothing more than odd, and there were many ponies disagreeing about them.
Silent Moon’s new police had arrested Starlight Glimmer for having once kidnapped a large amount of ponies and for her past attempts to tear apart the fabric of space and time to settle a petty feud with Twilight Sparkle. She was being brought into Fort Foalkatraz, a construct of the new regime, a prison not like any other. But like all prisons, nopony EVER wanted to see the inside of them.
Starlight Glimmer was brought in among several other ponies in a tall cube shaped carriage that was pulled not by pony, but by some sort of miniaturized steam engine that didn’t use steam. These engines were new to Equestria, and despite the uses she and her deceased friend Twilight could have seen for it, she was being brought somewhere she’d rather not be.
She couldn’t see who else was being brought in, nopony could. The carriage kept anypony inside it in their own cell, something so small they had just a little room and not much else, there was however a little window.
Starlight identified the trees they’d passed as belonging to the “Rumbledown Woods”, considered the “Brother” to the Everfree Forest; she’d heard stories about it, the place where nature was not only acting by itself, but worse than its “Sister”… vines that would reach out and strangle ponies, poisoned thorns, really hard rocks at inconvenient spots and a whole mess of violent critters.
And if the amount of time she’d been looking at this haunting, spooky place told her something, she was deep within it.
Supposedly Foalkatraz was located at the center of it.
“Where did it all go wrong?” Starlight sadly thought to herself, moping as the despair welled within, caring not if she were overheard.
“Twilight is dead… the Elements are who knows where…and Equestria is in the hooves of such a heartless pony, but…what happened?”
Her head still swam around what could have lead Silent Moon to do this to an entire country as they pulled right into the beginning of a concrete campus.
She didn’t even realize it, as they moved right onto the grey, poured foundations for the ground of a place so feared they compared it to horrific Tartarus.
She didn’t think at all about the drab yet simple foundation, something that has never been encroached by this feared forest even once, or wonder why that was…
She didn’t think at all about the barbed wire fence, the fence so damn tall, with the dome of barbed wire around it that covered over the whole prison in some sort of death-dome, preventing escape from anything be it Earth pony, griffin, Pegasus, unicorn, buffalo or anything. It wasn’t built for dragons, but she didn’t even think about the place Silent Moon had made just for them.
She didn’t think about the building, a five story, tall, imposing mass of concrete and metal, jagged at the top but otherwise a large mass that looked so stout Celestia couldn’t destroy it. It was dotted with windows and a few doors, but she didn’t think about that.
Or the dozen or so guards littering the yard, in their full body armor, covering up their legs, hooves, torsos and necks with protective grey armor produced by Hi-Tech Industries, a subsidiary of Fox Fire Industries, owned by Silent Moon’s friend to the East, who also produced the black, face covering riot helmets they wore. The armor looked like it belonged on a SWAT team, but seemed to have a hardness to it that seemed as if a Timber Wolf could never shred them in all their fury. Some of them had holes for horns, some had holes for wings, some were clearly earth ponies by virtue of lacking any holes. A couple however were very clearly griffins, and seemed to be doing maintenance on part of the fence.
Not that Starlight was noticing any of this, she had her mind on other things, and though there was plenty of indistinct chatter throughout the yard, she was finally snapped out of her thoughts through overhearing something: the security check at the front door.
“…Silent Moon himself oversaw this?”
“Of course he would, he’s been waiting for some of these for a long, long time.”
“I don’t see him here.”
“He doesn’t need to be here dingus, he just had to sign off on this. Organized the security detail himself.”
“That explains the dragon.”
“Yeah he rolled out the red carpet for this one.”
“More like a bed of coals. I wouldn’t want to be in their hooves now.”
“That’s the Chancellor for you, he doesn’t engage in any horseplay.”
“Nah… okay, you can pass.”
The banter ended, the gate had been opened, a massive thing capable of fitting a small ship through, outfitted with spikes, not especially handy but a good decoration to disguise how study the iron door was.
Starlight Glimmer finally stopped thinking inside herself, and focused on the world she was entering as she walke- I mean rolled into the joint.
She saw the hallway was laden with torches, a tall arching ceiling, and about five Pegasus guards on one side, she assumed there were the same amount on the other side.
The guards were all holding something with their magic or thanks to special devices, something she’d remembered reading about some time before she got arrested.
They were long items, with what looked like a circular roll of tubes, attached to a box, which was in turn attached to a back strapped to her back.
There was no doubt, these had to be some of Hi-Tech’s newest products, a little thing they’d personally developed for the Silent Moon regime on the grounds it was ‘really bucking cool’; it was called a Gatling gun, capable of releasing a humongous load of bullets into anypony unfortunate enough to be in its way. Developed specifically to be able to kill large numbers of targets at once, or to take out something very, very strong.
She wondered whether or not it was these they had used on Discord, until she remembered that he couldn’t possibly have been hurt by something like this. At the least they’d have needed something like the bombs Fox Fire himself had invented, the ‘Funky Boy’ bombs, or something similar.
It was eerie for her, but who wasn’t surprised and scared at the strange new world that had such ponies in it.
As they went down the hall, a hall that seemed longer than a hoofball field plus two more in a solid row, she craned her neck placing her cheeks against the glass just to get a glimpse further down the line.
It didn’t work out, there just simply wasn’t enough space to look further down.
Starlight sat down again, she was genuinely scared…but she hadn’t seen the worst part of this place.
The thing she’d be dreading more than anything.
Starlight Glimmer’s legs felt like they were limp spaghetti.
She remembered the prisoner orientation, and wished she didn’t, she didn’t recognize any of the ponies there, nor the sergeant telling them what’s what.
He was built like a mountain, and clearly an Earth pony, he had dark brown fur and a short yellow mane, he wore a prison uniform that seemed different though, while his Cutie Mark was covered, he simply didn’t wear any helmet or mask. She’d have wondered why, but those eyes and their glare gave her all the explanation she needed, he just wouldn’t be half as intimidating if THAT face was covered.
“Alright you bucking insurgents! Freaks! And…and whatever the buck that last guy is, I don’t care.
“As of now, your talking privileges…ARE REVOKED! Whoever speaks up next is about to get a hoof to the face! NO EXCEPTIONS!”
Starlight stood in a line of people from all across Equestria: ponies, zebras, juvenile dragons, diamond dogs, and some other stuff she didn’t think were real, some looked like actual criminals, others… ponies who no doubt found out that Silent Moon’s laws were as serious as they sounded.
Except the guy next to her, an amber coated pegasus with a Cutie Mark that looked like three basketballs and a brown mane that covered his eyes, yet he appeared to see well enough.
“Oh I volunteer, I volunteer! Who wants the first hoo-“
He was shut up with a blow to the face that knocked him right off his hooves and caused his mouth to bleed, the sergeant glaring at him with an intensity that rivaled a sun brightly shining right in his own face, as blinding and terrifying as an angry god determined to break your teeth and eat the remains like rock candy.
“And you get the first hoof bone smuggler! NOW LISTEN UP!”
His voice reverberated through the room like the roar of an army itself, and he continued.
“Ever since the election of Party Chairman, Chancellor Silent Moon, things have changed in prisons… LIKE THE FACT THEY EXIST!
“Adopted from countries such as Silonea, now ruled by the new Equestria’s ally and friend Fox Fire, the CEO of both Fox Fire Industries and Hi Tech, these prisons will teach you that the rules of this new world WILL! BE! UPHELD! And your schooling STARTS NOW!!!!”
The sergeant gave another general glare their way as he continued.
“Now, when allowed out of your cells, you will be allowed only certain times to lie down, sit or talk, you will be fed only once a day and you will only sleep when we tell you to. You shall all be assigned jobs within the prison, you will obey our laws and our orders, and the punishment for denying these rules, for defying the will of our glorious leader Silent Moon IS SEVERE!
“Nopony, be they pony, griffin, or whatever the buck can disobey the law, and here you can and you WILL LEARN what that entails, the law is THE LAW and you will be taught, just like that idiotic blue coated Pegasus who wreaked havoc purely to keep her pet turtle from hibernating. SHE COULD HAVE JUST WAITED UNTIL BUCKING SPRING!”
The imposing stallion continued to glare. “NOW BEGONE! YOU ALL BELONG IN YOUR CELLS! ANYPONY CAUGHT SITTING DOWN OR TALKING FOR THE NEXT THREE HOURS GETS CANED!” He bellowed at the top of his lungs.
“AND IF YOU EVEN THINK OF BREAKING OUR RULES, EVERY SINGLE ORIFICE HAS HI-TECH CAMERAS MOUNTED EVERYWHERE, AND WE ALWAYS WATCH! NOW BUCK OFF!!!!”
Starlight Glimmer had severe doubts that he was serious about the punishment, but she decided to play it safe anyways.
Like it mattered, she remembered what that judge said about her, she wasn’t just sentenced to be imprisoned here for eleven years, no.
She was sentenced to be caned one day each month, 20 times.
Starlight had never actually heard of caning before, reportedly a punishment employed by a country to the east, she’d heard it was highly controversial but couldn’t imagine how it would be… how much of a punishment could being smacked on the flank with a cane be? Sure it’d hurt, but it couldn’t have been that bad.
However, as she stood, she thought back to her friends and missed them… she missed Pinkie Pie’s jokes, Rainbow Dash’s flying, the company of her good friend Trixie.
And she certainly didn’t forget that night with Big Macintosh when his sisters were out camping with their grandma, they didn’t call him big for nothing. She didn’t care if he’d slept with most the mares in Ponyville to boot, he was still a nice young stallion, sleeping around besides.
Starlight just stood still and waited, trying to use memories of the three separate nights she’d spent with Mac to help keep her distracted, hopefully her friends could help her break out of here.
But she wasn’t aware of exactly what was in store…
Starlight Glimmer had stood for a long time, but eventually she was given the all clear and could sit down, even if her legs felt like noodles.
Now, she sat somewhere, but not in a cell, no she was right in the cafeteria, eating a bland meal made from various foods mashed together into something that was better for the nutritional value than any actual taste.
Aside from that, all there was left was water, but if there was any upside to this, at least the prisoners were allowed to talk during lunch.
And after going through the line, she ended up taking a seat next to some mares she knew… yet somehow didn’t really know.
One was her friend Trixie Lulamoon, a Roamani descended unicorn mare who made a living as a stage magician who traveled around Equestria, the other she’d only heard of through Rainbow Dash and her unending (kinda annoying to be honest) praise, the Wonderbolt commander Spitfire.
Neither one seemed like themselves though, Trixie didn’t seem to be anywhere near as energetic, loud, arrogant or theatrical as she once was. And Spitfire, well she didn’t really seem tough at all, she seemed more like some sort of grunt, a rookie, a private, someone who was at the bottom of the totem pole, she was as non-threatening as she could possibly be.
Starlight couldn’t have imagined either one of them to have been like this, it just couldn’t have been possible, and yet it was, sitting down at one of the long tables, overseen by what must have been about twenty armed guards, who themselves appeared to be chatting about something or other, yet keeping a better eye on them than Starlight would normally have thought.
The former revolutionary decided to be the first one to speak to these broken mares “Trixie?” She began, a bit nervous because she was a bit afraid of whatever could possibly break these mares the way they were now.
Trixie’d somehow not noticed her, the unicorn and the Pegasus had been off in thousand yard stares, possibly just remembering some foul punishment that nopony would want to suffer.
“Starlight?” Trixie said in a low whisper, one with a noticeable hint of pain in it “Silent Moon got you too?”
“Yeah… I missed you Trixie!”
“So did Trix- uh, I mean I missed you too.”
Starlight shivered a little “Uh what?”
“I missed you.”
“…No ‘Trixie missed you?’ I mean, that’s how you always enjoyed talking.”
“I… I don’t do that anymore” she sadly remarked.
Her head sank lower than a weeping willow branch after a heavy rainstorm, looking at these two depressed mares, Starlight couldn’t believe she was seeing Trixie and Spitfire, but their broken spirits made them seem more like strangers to her.
Spitfire sighed and lowly asked “Did… were you sentenced… that… that thing too?”
“What?” Starlight nervously asked.
“Y-yeah” Starlight responded, nervous and confused.
“Caning” Trixie began, sounding particularly melancholy “It sounded funny at first, almost… almost comical. But when that cane starts hitting you…”
She trailed off, beginning to cry a little. Starlight was disturbed by seeing this, but not fully convinced “It *gulp* it can’t be that bad.”
Spitfire lifted herself off the seat, all ponies in this facility had an identification collar around their neck, but this Pegasus had something extra: a bandage covered flank.
The Pegasus sat down before any guards could object “They… they put me in here after they took apart the Wonderbolts.
“They said I was being very, very abusive to the cadets… some just, just quit, because I was treating them like shit, I think one of them even tried to hang himself.
“And then the police, they found out I’d… caused another cadet to get his spine broken during a training drill. So he had me locked in here for seven years… already been here for two, just like Trixie.”
Trixie glowered as she remembered why she wound up there, her attempt at enslaving Equestria years back “Only I got nine… but I too was sentenced to be caned, nopony likes it, it hurts worse than you could imagine, and they use magic to make the pain last even longer. And even if you aren’t sentenced to the cane… you can still get it.”
Starlight Glimmer was horrified by this description of the punishment. Though she had yet to actually ask just how they could get it, she learned how thanks to another mare she’d seen in Ponyville, Spoiled Rich, who as she later found out was there for foal abuse.
“Disgusting!” She growled out, all too loudly “I’d find better food at a diner’s trashbin!”
The prisoners, briefly having some sort of peace, ignored her and just wished she’d stop, especially the guards.
One of them, who seemed to be just an average one, trotted over to her, stern but fair “Miss, nopony here likes the food, not even us. Don’t raise a fuss and don’t be too loud, there’s a reason you’re here.”
Spoiled gritted her teeth, a roar of defiance went screaming out of her lips as she gripped the tray with both hooves and smashed it right into the guard’s helmet.
It didn’t even leave a mark, and the stallion grabbed one of her hooves as she attempted to slap him.
“How dare you lay your hooves on me!” She yelled out “You have no right to touch a lady! Especially not-”
“Shut up. McNinch! Get over here, we got a troublemaker!”
Another guard who was most definitely a pegasus flew on over “Alright Spoiled Rich, you know the rules, caning time.”
The Pegasus quickly pulled out a set of restraints, and clapped them right over Spoiled’s hooves, she proceeded to try and kick the other guard, only to get smacked in the face for her little outburst.
They grabbed all four of her limbs and carried her right out of the cafeteria, the still rebellious, formerly rich (but still a total bitch) Spoiled Rich had left the room, dragged off to suffer the cane.
Starlight looked back to her food, she didn’t shudder though “Caning sounds horrible… though I don’t know if I could feel sorry for her.”
“You might” the showpony recounting her own account “I almost pity Suri Polomare, it’s difficult…with what she did.”
“What’d she do?”
“Assorted corruption charges, and she’d killed about three different ponies just to get to make it into high society, she got sentenced to be caned 20 times one day out of each month… it’s weird, I’m horrified by this… but she was a horrible mare, and what she did, it almost deserves it.”
Starlight paled, confusion and fear taking hold.
She was sentenced the same amount of caning.
It was about three days since she’d spoken to Trixie and Spitfire, and today a guard literally had to make sure she ate, swallowing just wasn’t coming naturally now.
Today was caning day at the prison.
She was being lead back to her cell ahead of schedule by two guards, one of them being the same mountainous stallion who’d showed up on her first day. Something just seemed off…
Looking on down the hallway, her door was clearly opened, just like the one across from it, her neighbor Suri Polomare (whom she hadn’t seen her first day or second) in the middle of being dragged out by a pair of unicorn guards, looking downright pitiful as she sadly pled with them.
“No… please, don’t do it! I’ll be good!” She whimpered.
“Sorry miss, it’s our job” One of the guards spoke up “Quit flailing and come quietly, you don’t want it to get worse.”
“Well said!” Came a voice from within, an deep yet bone-chillingly cold one she found oddly familiar “It can always get worse, especially for this one.”
The weeping Suri was carried on by the two guards, Starlight just stopped and stared at her, trying not to imagine what it felt like to be caned and beaten horribly, but what she was most concerned about was why her own guards stopped shortly in front of her cell.
She waited about a minute, confused, the larger stallion leaned down to her ear and whispered so loudly to the point of shouting “Go on… ENTER!”
“He wants to see you, prisoner #24601!”
“Chancellor Silent Moon!!!!”
Silent Moon himself was a fairly handsome yet absurdly sinister Earth Pony with brown hair and a matching goatee, his coat was white, though his Cutie Mark was obscured by the suit he was wearing, sitting down on a folding chair (I’ll leave it up to your imagination what a folding chair for ponies looks like), looking down at her like a worm.
He seemed like more than a pony, with the help of a friend truly gifted in the art of invention, he was able to topple an empire that lasted for centuries and place himself in charge, she could only imagine what kind of chaos would unfold should BOTH have appeared.
Silent Moon was staring at her coldly, his blue eyes piercing through her soul like sharp pieces of ice, and for what seemed like an eternity, she had no idea why he was there.
“You don’t remember me, do you?” The pony stated towards her, noticeably offended at something “Of course, there were plenty of ponies back home, weren’t there?”
“No… you came from my dystopian-”
“Dystopian would imply there was a problem with the Village of Equality, believe or don’t, I don’t care which, but I actually liked living there.
“Before that, I’d led a highly turbulent past, and suffered much, all because of the… inequality, of Equestria, and when I’d found your town, you taking my Cutie Mark… it allowed me to feel better than I’ve felt in years.”
“But I lied about-”
“I know, but I’d already agreed with all of your ideas, and I didn’t mind you keeping your Cutie Mark… did you really think I wanted those fools to give it back?”
Starlight couldn’t even speak… was she really responsible for all this? Did she unwittingly create this fairly disturbing pony sitting before her now?
“Naturally” he continued “I kept my book of Equality, awaiting the day you returned to set things right… and then I found out you and Twilight Sparkle became friends.”
The Chancellor paused for a moment, starting to shake in an alarming way, then he suddenly snapped: “I BURNED that book, and left the village for good, you… you betrayed me, you betrayed ALL of us, and you need to pay for it. I developed new ideals… I developed my own plan, and with the help of Fox Fire, I finally freed us all from Alicorn control, now things can finally be put right.”
“But it was never wrong.”
“And how is that?”
“Friendship… my friends, and their friends, they made magic, and they held Equestria together in peace, and the ponies before them.”
“Believe it or not, but the old Equestria was anything BUT peaceful, friendship is good, and it helps too… I wouldn’t have been able to get the sun the way it ought to be without Fox Fire’s help, but it isn’t everything, and just relying on friendship altogether, that won’t work.”
“I don’t believe that.”
“Most ponies don’t, in fact that’s what caused ponies so much trouble, the upper classes using this to justify the huge, gaping chasm between them and the poor, keeping society the same no matter what, refusing to progress and NOT punishing the wicked the way they should… did you think Discord agreeing to ‘the honor system’ was going to help? I assure you it didn’t; all he did was just get more discreet with tormenting ponies, he certainly deserved it, you know.”
“I remember reading about that” Starlight sadly remarked, wishing she could’ve prevented Silent Moon and Fox Fire from getting to Discord.
“Yes… I’m still surprised the machine worked… well, we won’t hear from him again.”
“Maybe there were problems… but how were we supposed to deal with ponies like Blueblood?”
“The way I did: we just kicked every single one of them right out of their homes, the aristocrats lost the ‘privileges’ they never earned, I simply ‘brought them down to my level’ balancing everything, at long last I’ve balanced out things, and Equestria is finally equal, Ponies now have just about everything they need, a little less freedom isn’t that big of a price to pay.”
“Horseapples…there has to be another way.”
“I will admit, there’s other ways to reach a better society…like Fox Fire’s example.
“You know, when he said he was taking a few other kingdoms, starting with that of the Diamond Dogs, to make his own, I was… concerned, that it was going to backfire, I mean there’s a good reason I didn’t directly count on how successful a ‘Blade Galloper’ esque country would be… minus the smoke and smog, well, mostly minus anyway.
“Granted I do hope his fixation on cybernetic and genetic enhancements don’t backfire, there’s all too many ways how it could. Still, he has brought countless new inventions to Equestria, though he says the cybernetic horns and wings may take a while.”
“…What the hay is Fox Fire?”
“Someone in better shape than you’re about to be… you not only kidnapped countless ponies, but you tore through time like a saw through a plastic bag. And even though a good personal bias is involved I do admit, do you have the slightest idea what you could have done to…EXISTENCE?!”
“Not immediately, but-”
“IT DOESN’T MATTER THAT YOU’RE SORRY!” Silent Moon bellowed “You now get to pay, and I’ve succeeded in doing what you should have done, but better. Equestria is now equalized, and ponies have what they need.”
“You can’t have done it, you couldn’t possibly have done it.”
“Deny all you want, it doesn’t matter, most your friends are either doing their time or have done it, and the only other pony who can reverse time… well, we already dealt with her. And you are free to believe whatever you want about how good or bad the new Equestria is, just like everypony is, I’m not that much of a dictator after all, but that will never change one thing…” he brought his face much closer to Starlight’s, showing her a grin she had never thought to ever see on his usually serious and somewhat grim muzzle “…it is largely YOR fault if things are the way they are now. Pretty ironic isn’t it? I sure feel an insufferable amount of hate and contempt for you, but in a way I actually owe you, maybe that’s the reason why I didn’t even try to have you sentenced to life imprisonment… or killed.”
Starlight could only gasp and remain motionless while Silent Moon hopped down from the chair and trotted out the door, his face wearing an even nastier grin “I swear, this is going to make my whole life.”
Starlight Glimmer was never more scared than she was right now, she was held upright, stretched out straight as a 2x4, in a barely lit room with the grinning Silent Moon sitting in front of her in an easy chair, holding onto a tub of popcorn as he watched the masked torturer getting ready whip her flank into submission, while another guard prepared to count each strike out loud and one of the chancellor’s bodyguards was holding something that the prisoner truly didn’t expect to see: a camera, and it was already recording.
“Now, your sentence says it’s only 20 strikes” Silent Moon said after swallowing a bunch of popcorn “But since you’re a very special guest, I took the liberty of making a liiitle change of rules for your first time, the next ones will be regular. First of all, you may be wondering, why am I recording you? Easy: I don’t wanna go home without a little souvenir of our touching reunion, it’ll be wonderful to have a hilarious home movie to make me smile whenever I’m feeling down!”
Starlight resisted the urge to make an extremely nasty comment at the stallion’s cruelty.
“Second, and this is really important: if you want the strikes to stop 20, you will have to sing that… PUTRID song that you and your friends wrote and sang soon after you completed your transformation into a wuss, ‘Friends are Always There for You’, and you will have to sing it until the VERY end, because if you still haven’t reached the end when you’ve been hit 20 times, the guard with the cane will just keep hitting you until you finish your dumb little song. Got it? But enough talking, let’s rock!”
The first strike arrived soon after Silent Moon finished his speech and took another mouthful of popcorn. Starlight could never have imagined how it felt, flanks are pure muscle after all, and any blow striking it would doubtless hurt.
At the first blow she just gritted her teeth while the other guard yelled “ONE”, the shock and the pain preventing her from starting to sing.
Silent Moon put a hoof next to his ear and chirped “I can’t hear youuuuu!”
Starlight gathered all the strength she had left and began to faintly sing the first verse: “I never thought that I would find a place, to step right in and start again, I never thought that I- AAAARGH!”
The second strike was when shit was really starting to go down. Her flank was already beginning to lose its skin, and she was about to feel it more each and every time she was dealt another blow, the torture was designed to feel just like pain given form.
And to pour more salt into her wounds, magic was used to take hold of her butt’s flesh and mend it so it was new, only to tear it up again. The magic was also making her feel it even more, she knew this spell too, something that enhanced senses to feel more.
And before she could struggle to continue the song, the cane hit her a third time without a millisecond of delay and the other guard promptly yelled “THREE!”
The excruciating pain drove Starlight to practically scream the next part of the song rather than singing it “…COULD JUST BEGIN RIGHT WHERE I LEFT OFF AND MAKE A FRIEND, DON'T EVER THINK THAT IT MIGHT BE TOO LATE, YOU DON'T HAVE TO- GYAAAAAH, please, please make it stoooop!!!”
Silent Moon shook his head in a mocking way “Naughty naughty, don’t beg for mercy yet, you have a concert to finish!”
“Clock is ticking, Starry!”
Tears were now falling like waterfalls from Starlight’s eyes as she resumed what very loosely resembled any form of singing “…W-WAIT, THERE'S NO MISTAKES WITH THE FRIENDS YOU MAKE, A FRIENDSHIP'S ONLY MADE OF WHAT… UUUURGH!!!”
“…you bring, and if you do it right, you can do anything, just use your eyes this tim- OH CELESTIA!!!”
Starlight tried her best to continue, but the pain was becoming way too unbearable already and she could only sob desperately like a helpless filly.
Silent Moon yelled: “Enough slacking off, you were doing SO well!”
“Now look at what you made me do!” Silent Moon said with a fake anger that poorly hid his absolute joy “I had to waste time scolding you until the next hit! Come on you worthless insect, SING!”
Not wanting the agony to go even longer than it had to, Starlight Glimmer made an effort she didn’t think she could ever make and turned her sobbing into something that you could probably call “singing” if you used your imagination: “…no lies, just don't disguise who you are inside, because your fr-”
She couldn’t even scream this time, only sob a bit louder and continue the song she once loved but now was ruined forever.
“…friends are always there for you, you don't have to be the same for friendship to be true because yo-”
“…friends are always there for you, around the world, it's still the same, together you have more to gain, there's-”
“…n-nothing that a friend won't do, everywhere you go friendship there will grow When you find i-”
“…it… it's the key, friends can change the world, you see, everywhere you go, friendship ther-”
“…will grow, when you find it, it's the key, friends can-”
“PLEAAASE, that’s enough, I can’t take this anymore, have some merc-”
Silent Moon failed to repress a very loud laugh “Aww, come now sweetie, you’re getting to my favorite part right now! FINISH IT!”
“F-friends… c-c-can change… change…”
Silent Moon stood up on his rear legs and applauded with enthusiasm “YES! You made it! Before the last two hits, you managed to finish the BEST! SHOW! EVER!!!”
Starlight could barely remember anything that happened during the rest of the caning, two strikes that felt like a million, she only remembered the loudest screaming possible and countless pleas for mercy coming from her mouth, her tears flowed down her face, downright soaking it.
And Silent Moon just kept applauding passionately, loving the sight of his fallen idol suffering for her betrayal, and in the end he bowed in a theatrical fashion in front of the camera and ordered his bodyguard to turn it off.
Starlight Glimmer could barely process any sort of reality after they were done, she almost didn’t know she’d left the room.
Her flank was bandaged up, and she was so weak she could barely move, so a unicorn guard carried her out. As she moved through the hall, she realized she was indeed still in reality once she saw Spoiled Rich.
She’d been caned too, walking right out of the cell on trembling legs, her face showing the tell-tale sign of drying tears, whimpering as the guards instructed her to move, much more obedient than she was before.
However, she noticed something else being taken into another cell, a female griffin in much bigger restraints, cursing loudly at the guards and questioning exactly how faithful their mothers were.
Silent Moon had come up behind her, and spoke over the loud cursing of Gilda “I see you found our foreign prisoner… took a bit of negotiation to get her here, but her kingdom was willing to let us punish her for the vandalism and petty thievery she liked to engage in.”
“I-Is she getting caned?”
“Of course, but just 20 times, and only once. We’re not savages.”
Starlight was brought back to her cell, where she spent the rest of the day, she stood when she was supposed to, and slept when she did.
And the years went by.
Eleven years later, she was let out of prison, she’d served her time, and so had numerous others.
Her friends never showed up to break her out, then again, seeing as some of them had been arrested themselves, this wasn’t surprising.
Starlight was being taken home on something altogether new, she’d seen it a little through windows and the gate when doing some of the routine tasks prisoners were assigned.
It was some new sort of train that moved along electric wires and a track, right through the forest itself. And it was far from the only such train either, she remembered articles and such that showed more than one sort of train like this were very much in use across Equestria.
Most of the ponies and other creatures she’d known going in were out of the prison long before she was, they didn’t have sentences as long, or were there before she was.
Starlight had a thousand yard stare most of the trip back to Ponyville, and just barely acknowledged the things she’d seen, the wondrous advances paid her no mind either.
That unicorn had the tartarus caned out of her backside, and had to put up in inequinely strict conditions for years, she was almost in disbelief that after all this time, that misery was finally over. Starlight half suspected Silent Moon had one more trick up his sleeve, or some other way of getting revenge, she’d never know the truth though.
She did get brought back to her home much sooner than she expected, both a good and a bad thing for her…
Starlight’s thousand yard stare finally broke when one of the guards gently nudged her, and said they were at her stop. She knew she didn’t have to fear the cane again if she was alright, but the memory of what happened if she disobeyed the guards back there was still fresh in her head, it snapped her out of her trance, and she slowly trotted outside with the rest of the released prisoners.
There were handlers and policemen waiting out there, systematically discharging those who were released, and making it clear that they were free now, as long as they obeyed the law from then on.
As Starlight got out of the station, her eyes were filled with the sights of the new Equestria.
It was like watching a total industrial revolution happen just overnight, the buildings looked somewhat similar, but sort of updated, and that wasn’t the only thing changed.
Trotting out further she started noticing something odd, all the ponies she’d seen were eerily happy, not eerily in the sense it was forced or brought about through drugs, no, they were genuinely happy.
And she couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen any pony that happy, and there were a crowd of bustling ponies trotting about.
Though as she began trying to trot right back through the crowd, she found difficulty after having been stuck in prison for years, it was about now she noticed something else.
There were guards everywhere.
Checking the streets and corners, she could see no less than six guards standing attentively, and that was just one street, they didn’t seem to ‘just be there’, no, they were just standing around, keeping watch, and as she moved further, she found there were still more on most the streets.
It chilled her to the bone to not only see them, but multiple cameras everywhere, the same security measures she found in the prison had applied to the outside.
Though as she continued to trot, she found the guards to not be harsh or anywhere near as strict as they were in prison, and even then they could be pretty negotiable and friendly if you followed the rules.
She could even see the citizens jovially chatting with them, they were even clearly being helpful to them.
Unless it was her imagination, she could have sworn there were more ponies than she remembered, and more foals too, it was almost surprising to her, and being surrounded by so many ponies all at once was more than a little overwhelming for her, but as she noticed a spot that wasn’t as full at the moment, she just slipped on over there to try and collect her senses.
It was a fairly standard hayburger stand, it seemed to be doing alright, but its hygiene was not especially good (if you wanted to be polite anyways) and it was an indicator that yes, she’d gotten to the marketplace after all… it looked very much different now, but the pony in charge of the stand…
As Starlight looked up, she saw Spitfire solemnly flipping hayburgers, the former soldier had gotten out about two years before she did, and she’d have thought the commander would have been trying to fly again.
She just sat, looking at her old friend weirdly for a few minutes, until Spitfire turned and saw her.
“Starlight?! When did you get out?”
“To-today” the unicorn lowly said, it was about the first thing she’d said since being released, she could still hardly believe it.
“Well, at least it’s over now, for you anyways… I can’t tell you how happy I was to leave and just be free again.”
“I just… I just can’t believe it’s over.”
“It takes a while… Trixie’ll like seeing you, she runs a theater now.”
“What’s, uh, what’s with the stand?”
“I had to find work… Silent Moon disbanded the Wonderbolts, remember? And when I got out I found I couldn’t really get any military jobs, he completely banned me, I couldn’t even get janitor work on a base.
“He did the same thing to Rainbow Dash when she got out, because of all the damage she’d done to prevent winter all those years back… she got lucky though, Silonea offered her a position as a bomber.”
“It’s a new military role Fox Fire came up with, essentially a bomber’s job is to just drop bombs on ponies from way up in the air, and he wanted the fastest flyer he could find, especially with the feud he’s got with the Bear Kingdom and their asshole president.”
“Well that’s good for Dashie… what about you?”
“He said he didn’t want me, and that I failed to pass his background check… I wish I could make a living, through flying that is, but I have to make bits however I can, at least the economy’s miles above Celestia’s.”
“No, Silent Moon couldn’t have possibly done that.”
“I thought nopony could fix it, but funnily enough… he did, makes it much easier to care for my little one.”
Starlight would have spit took if she had any water in her snout “A foal?! You got a foal?”
“Well I wasn’t fat for nine months for no reason at all… I’m not married, before you ask.”
“Ho-how did…” the trailing off ended shortly as she attempted to ask Spitfire some other questions “You know where Trixie is? I think I need to catch up on things.”
“Sure, I’ll take you to her, I make my own hours anyways, I can afford to lose a day or two…”
Starlight was still very much surprised by the new buildings she kept seeing, she was so used to buildings of wood and straw, they still had plenty of wood, but there were more which also had stones, brick, metal…it looked more like a small scale Manehattan, yet was fairly similar to the old designs.
Trixie’d clearly given up her caravan some time ago, and was in fact living behind a large, aged theater, in a comparatively smaller, two story house.
Starlight and Spitfire were standing by the front door, the latter knocking, and the former taking note of Trixie’s house, it kind of reminded her of the caravan, but still had the tell-tale look of the same sort of ‘modern’ buildings she kept seeing around.
“Hold on” Came the familiar voice of Trixie Lulamoon. Though she recognized the lack of booming voices and theatrical ego that she got used to in prison, it didn’t seem as depressed and unbalanced as it was there.
She didn’t know how she felt about all this… Starlight Glimmer was just offset by this place, by everything and everypony around her since she got out. She felt she was in some mix of dream and nightmare.
Ponder her status of reality she did, right up until she heard the door open, and saw the surprised Trixie staring back at her.
“Oh my Celestia! You got out!”
Trixie swiftly hugged her friend “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
“I… I got out today… it’s weird, like really…” she paused “Everything’s so new, too eerily cheerful, guards everywhere… and then Spitfire had a foal and…”
Trixie nodded “I had a foal too.”
“Yes, same father as Spitfire’s.”
“Take a guess.”
Starlight had some guesses of her own, after all, which pony might have likely knocked up her friends, and while there were plenty of guesses, she just couldn’t narrow it down at all.
Trixie sensed her confusion “Hold on a sec” she added, her horn glowing as she pulled over a picture from somewhere in the house, showing it to Starlight.
All at once, plenty of things became clearer, she saw Trixie with her foal when it must have been a toddler, she could see a clear resemblance to its mother, but the eyes and coat reminded her of somepony else.
“About a month after I got out, I met up with him again, I was just relived to get out… pretty much the same happened with Spitfire.”
Starlight’s head was swimming “Hold on, what the hay’s been going on here?”
“You should probably head inside” Trixie advised “Quite a lot happened since you were gone.”
Trixie’s living room was comfy, not overly expensive, but after years of an uncomfortable seat, she was enjoying this, albeit a bit weirded out by how soft this was, it would no doubt be a long time before she could get used to something like this.
She sat on one of two chairs crouched around Trixie’s TV, Spitfire was on the other chair, and Trixie herself was on the couch. Trixie’s foal and Twilight’s were at the same place Spitfire’s was, school.
“Sooo… what happened?”
“Well, Big Mac just met me after I came to see Applejack when I got released… I was Godmother to Twilight’s foal after all, and with her… gone, Applejack had to care for her when I was at Foalkatraz… to be fair though, it’s not like it’s new at this point.
“Big Mac’s been with a lot of mares lately, I mean it’s like he turned into a clop star!”
“Personally, I would suggest it’s just the general baby boom that’s been here the last several years.”
“BABY BOOM?!” the startled former revolutionary bellowed “When were we at war?”
“We weren’t…most ponies are just guessing, but my guess? I think it’s just… everything, I mean for two centuries, the economy hasn’t been especially stable or really that good, we’ve been plagued with too many catastrophes, and too many other troubles. But Silent Moon’s regime… it’s weird, his rules are strict, but somehow he made it work, I can barely believe it myself, but he’s actually making Equestria a better place to live, ponies haven’t been as happy or safe as they have been now.
“And I think because ponies are so happy they really, really feel like celebrating, I mean baby booms don’t just come about because of wars.
“Spitfire and I weren’t the only mares who’ve…increased the ranks of the Apple family, there was Cheerilee, Pinkie, Zecora, Rarity, Vinyl, Nurse Redheart, and Berry Punch…and those’re just the local women. Further out, there’s some other mares I know of, like Maud Pie, his family friend Cherry Jubilee, the fashion designer Coco Pommel, pop singer Sapphire Shores, a Canterlot chef named Saffron Masala, and apparently he’s the father of A.K. Yearling’s baby… bear in mind, this is just what I know.
“Oh, and there’s Countess Coloratura, the singer! However, that’s a rather tragic story… her baby is actually the only one that Big Mac is personally taking care of, because Countess herself, well...may she rest in peace. Urgh, Svengallop, that HORRIBLE pony, we knew he was a jerk but who would have thought he would have fallen THAT low? Silent Moon actually decided that going to prison and being caned was ‘too equine’ for him and instead let Fox Fire administer a more fitting punishment. He’s alive, but he wish he wasn’t, if he ever gets out of there I bet he will have a massive PTSD whenever he hears of anything that has something to with experimentations even remotely!”
“Oh Celestia… wait, back to Big Mac, he was never a traveler, how’d-”
“A big windfall, Sweet Apple Acres had been going on some hard times, some years back… taking in Twilight’s kid didn’t help it at all, and then Fox Fire Industries came to make a quick buck, on top of what he was already making off of the baby boom… somehow, he had to have known it’d happen, because for whatever reason, he’d invested a LOT of bits into foalcare, toys, diapers, stuff like that, and when the boom hit, he tripled his money, but anyways…
“He came to them, he was aware of the demand for the Apple Family’s Cider, and that they simply lacked the means to produce it on the scale the demand… well, requested, and he knew of Granny Smith’s dislike of machines, so he just made an offer to simply hire the amount of ponies they’d need to produce as much cider as they wanted. He wanted a chunk of the profits in return, he put some apparently clever underlings in charge of managing it, and before long he’d made their Cider into a lucrative brand, he needed somepony to serve as a promoter, and due to Big Macintosh looking almost exactly like the sort of stallion that’d make somepony want to guzzle cider down and get piss drunk… well, you can guess who got chosen for this. And why he’s now paying foal support to women as far off as the Griffin Kingdom.”
“Everything… it’s all changed.”
Spitfire shook her head “It hurts to say it” she said, finally adding to the conversation “But it wasn’t for the worst, we all still miss Twilight, but at the same time, Silent Moon did pretty much ensure our protection, most of the all too powerful magical creatures that previously tried to kill us, like Queen Chrysalis, they’re all dead… he even went after Discord, turned him into a statue, only now he’s not imprisoned… he’s just dead.
“I hear Silent Moon keeps the cadaver in his office… morbid I know.”
Starlight still refused to accept it “Has he been drugging the ponies? Nopony could be happy under the rule of such a ruthless stallion.”
“Only when you break the law… thanks to Silent Moon, the crime rate has taken a total nosedive, I know you lost skin on your flank from the caning, I certainly did, got that fixed, but the fear of getting hurled into a place like Foalkatraz has dissuaded many ponies, griffins or anything from starting something, better, more effective ways of warding off violent animals came about, and it’s not like Silent Moon makes ponies stay here. I still wish I could fly for Equestria again, but my foal is actually going to grow up in an Equestria better than the one I was raised in.”
Trixie laid a hoof on Starlight’s shoulder “It might seem insane, it did to me too, but this Equestria is better than the one we left going in, I was surprised to see it, but Silent Moon was right after all. A totalitarian Equestria was a better one after all, I learned to live in it, and so can you.”
The conversation changed shortly afterwards, and they started on other subjects, but Starlight’s mind was still reeling from the whole day, she pretty much didn’t really know about what she should do, not until later.
Equestria couldn’t be perfect, not this way, and she wasn’t going to put up with it.
But the reach of Silent Moon stretched far beyond just Equestria…
A world away, beyond a magic mirror, lay a world populate by pastel colored human beings, currently ruled over by the human Silent Moon… with help from the new Fox Fire Conglomerate.
Their headquarters, until Silent Moon’s new condo was finished, was in fact their old high school, Canterlot High, which currently was dealing with a riot that the two humans looked down upon as the police proved to be much better than the students attempting a very rude method of complaining about Silent Moon’s election.
The president himself was taking a bit of a look right down at the riot, and his friend Fox Fire did the same “Well, those idiots suffered their first casualty, exactly one set of glasses.”
Fox Fire shrugged “Vinyl’s face is gonna feel that tomorrow… DAMN! Was that Diamond Tiara?”
“Wow, your guys don’t mess around, I’ll tell you that, I mean they just smacked her with two batons!”
“If that bat of her’s had stayed hidden, perhaps the tooth fairy wouldn’t pay her a visit.”
“Well yeah, and- huh, they just got the ringleader… yeah, Sunset Shimmer’s gonna hate that van, you really got a gimp in there?”
“He’s not a gimp, he’s a licensed peace officer authorized to deal out punishment by means of cane… so yeah, in a way I do have someone with a cane.”
“Well I tell you what, by the time this is all done, caneophobia’ll be widespread, but regardless let’s quit all the horseplay there, you said your friend on the Pony side had something for us?”
“A unicorn that tried to hang herself…their version of you-know-who.”
“YES!” Silent Moon roared, none too pleased to hear that name.
“Huh… well that’s weird, our version didn’t try that.”
“Our version is an alcoholic… she won’t last too long.”
“So he wants us to take on his deadweight, keep her alive? Provide me the DNA samples he’s FINALLY letting me have? Why though?”
“He was abundantly clear why, as I remember him saying…she’s not getting out of it that easily!”