The Lunar Republic vs The Celestial Empire
"The wine is lovely this year, Madame Berry Grape." Celestia gave a short nod to the bowing pony. The wine was, in fact, not lovely this year. It was simply what a princess was supposed to say at the Autumn Equinox Banquet.
At this function, like most, the aristocracy played a traditional and subtle game of which-pony-was-better-than-which, a ferociously competitive sport of tiny score keeping. If you sit one space closer to the princess, you are one point better. If you wore a dress not haute couture, you lost a point. If your hat had an extra feather, you had an extra point, unless you attempted a power play by foregoing feathers and trying a coiffure done by a famous mane stylist, though that was a risky move. Fumbling through a step on the dance floor was an easy way to lose points, though that was never an issue, since no one ever danced for fear of subtracting their score. Winners were allowed to hold their noses in increasingly elevated positions in comparison to the rest.
The game was as complicated as it was boring, but Celestia realized the importance of playing her part, for the social order of Equestria.
"Thank you." She casually nodded her head to the waiter who refilled the cup.
Boom! The door slammed open, every head turned. Murmurring erupted
"Celestia!" Luna flew high and regal, looking down at the throne with defiance.
The sun-princess spat out the bad wine and tossed the cup aside. Here, of all places?! My sister grows bold!
"Your reign has gone on long enough! Today, you answer to the Lunar Republic." Lunar guards, dressed in blue armor, filed in from the main doors and into formation. Celestia's gold soldiers responded automatically, taking up positions to meet the invaders and protect their sovereign.
Celestia narrowed her eyes, responding coolly and with faux-politeness. "My dear sister, you'd interrupt my banquet for your insurrection? The fact we share blood makes this betrayal all the more wounding. I'll crush your forces for that and your loyal ponies will bemoan your command. You've made a terrible mistake assaulting me here."
The aristocrat's eyes went wide in terror. Voices whispered back and forth as they fled to the outer edges of the room. "Rebellion? My word!" "The horror! The horror!" "I never thought I'd see the day!"
Luna hovered undeterred. "You may find my defeat harder than you thought, sister!" She glanced down to the captain of the Sun Guard. "Reveal yourself, my agent."
Slowly, the captain marched through the ranks, taking off his gold helmet and donning a blue one.
"Et tu, Sugar Snap?"
Captain Snap turned and bowed to Celestia from the front line of Luna's ranks. "Luna offered me three cupcakes, my lady."
"My captain, did I not offer four?"
"I am sorry. Luna's were chocolate."
Chocolate! That fiend! "That is a nefarious bribe you take, captain. You have made your choice in this conflict. So be it. GUARDS! EMERGENCY WEAPONS!" Bursting through the door, armor bearers came in with their carts full of ammunition and ready to distribute to the power of the telekinetic unicorns and brute force of the earth ponies.
The factions squared off, each one matching the other with grim glares of determination. The uppercrust of Canterlot shivered, sensing the mounting tension, the calm silence before the storm. One of them dropped a pin.
The fighting would be close-in and intense. There was no point in delaying the messy ordeal any longer. Silently, the sisters understood each other. Simultaneously, they yelled:
"Guards. MOVE IN! TAKE THE PRINCESS!"
The water-balloons went flying. Both sides shouted a battle cry that shook the room. Many were struck down in that initial exchange, the ranks thick and the balloons many. After that, pandemonium. Ponymonium.
Rubber skins burst, splattered struck the walls. Pegasus troops alternated between dropping balloons on the enemy ranks and competing in aerial-aqua combat. Earth ponies rushed for fresh wagon loads to rearm their comrades. Those at the front line gripped long tube-balloons in their mouths and battled in a grand melee at the center. From the back, unicorns heaved volley after volley.
With a surreal sense of seeing everything at once, Celestia surveyed the ravages.
Two ponies dueled ferociously at the center with the tube balloons. They were brothers.
Another guard laid still in his best friend's arms, eyes closed. A balloon had burst on his horn. The friend held his fallen comrade with water-soaked hooves crying out, "WHY? WHY, PRINCESS? WHYYYY!?"
A stray balloon, deflected by magic, streaked through the sky and struck a pony that had merely come for the banquet. She looked in abject horror and disbelief as water dripped down her dress. A moment later, her eyes rolled back and she fainted. A senseless casualty.
Slowly, Celestia strolled through the battlefield, watching all. The carpets ran wet with liquid. Bits of rubber laid strewn about her feet, much of it belonging to her loyal subjects whose limp forms piled about the banquet hall.
The battle had been decided the moment Sugar Snap defected, a key role in the royal defense undone. But she allowed the fighting to continue, that her guards might be struck down with honor, serving their princess with their last dry hair. They deserved that much.
Swatting an errant balloon away from her with a spell, Celestia stood on the sun emblem in the center of the room. With a wing, she gestured to the battlefield. "Is this the face of the Lunar Republic? A room soaked with the water of our subjects? Your victory is a costly one."
Luna didn't bat an eye. "Many of us would rather fall wet here than live with a dry mane under your rule. Something a ruler like you could never understand."
"Indeed. I won't. I'm afraid that any of your soldiers leaving dry is no longer an option." With a quick spell, Celestia threw her trap. The sun she stood on clicked with a thrown switch.
Secret compartments opened on the walls and in the ceiling. A torrent of balloons tumbled in. The guards on both sides screamed. Many tried to flee but there was simply nowhere to go as they were pelted. Safe inside an enchanted shield on her sun, Celestia silently waited until it was over before dropping the shield.
Luna, too, survived dry, but only barely. Holed up in a corner, she threw down her own spell to shield herself. Now she was trapped and cowered before the taller pony.
The sun-princess hoisted half a dozen balloons into the air with her power, primed and ready for the finishing blow. "Foalish sister. Did you think that here, in my fortress, I'd lack an ace in the hole?"
A smirk most sly grew on Luna's face. She stopped cowering. "That's why I stacked the deck with a Joker. NOW PINKIE!"
Celestia jerked her head up. "How in the-" Too late. Pinkie, riding her pedal-gyroplane, leapt off and released a gigantic balloon. The Fat Boy. Pinkie rode the balloon all the way down, swinging around Applejack's hat and hooting. Until impact.
Water exploded out the windows of the Canterlot tower. The roar of it was intense as it flooded the room and more.
When it all settled, Celestia lay on the grown, mane and tail dripping. Luna was dry.
"Yes! Yes, yes, yes! I win!" Luna shuffled her hooves in a victory dance, humming a victory tune.
The blue guards rose from the ground, roused into celebrating. The gold-armored ponies rose as well, but their shoulders sagged in defeat.
Celestia sighed, then laughed, standing and shaking out her mane. "Lunar republic wins this round."
Another aristocrat fainted.
* * *
The victory was costly, as Celestia had said. Both sides cleaned the room together, collecting the bits of rubber, taking out tapestries and table cloths to dry. All in all, it took hours. The soldiers laughed as they did it, exchanging war stories, the Lunar guards occasionally making verbal jabs at the losing side, both sides joking back and forth.
Also, according to the rules, all those that fought for the Lunar side threw a party that night, to be prepared, served, and cleaned up after by the Celestial Empire. Thus were the spoils of war.
"Chocolate?" Celestia demanded as the party died down. "You got Sugar Snap with chocolate? Vanilla has been his favorite as long as I can remember."
"Yes, but I gambled." Luna smiled. "He was ready for variety."
"The party was enough to entice her as a wildcard." Luna giggled with giddy triumph. "I knew she would be able to counter whatever back-up plan you'd have."
Celestia sat back to consider this, impressed. "You are one clever mastermind, Luna. I look forward to next year's game." They exchanged a hug.
"Don't forget," Luna added. "You know what victory means!"
Celestia winced. "I was hoping you forgot."
* * *
The next day . . .
"Uhh, princess?" Prince Blueblood looked ready to either collapse into a ball or run out the door. "Are you alright?
"Tee, hee! My wings are so pretty!" Pink Celestia, mane freshly permed, responded in her most vapid voice. "I'm a princess."
"Aunt Celestia . . . should I call someone?"
"Let's fly to the castle!" She derped her eyes. "We'll have a tea party and play dress up!"
The ball option, then. "Someone save me!"