Twilight scrambled through the door. She needed to get away from that crazy pony, now! Was she even a pony, she wondered briefly before focusing her mind at the task beforehand.
From wherever she was.
It would be easy, she figured. She just needed a window, to give her a location so she could teleport. She could try a blind teleport but since she had no idea where she was, that was incredibly dangerous. For all she knew, she’d end up halfway through a wall.
“Amaryllis!” The queen called after her.
Who was Amaryllis anyway? Twilight wondered. Was she talking to her? Was that her real name?
No, her name was Twilight Sparkle. She was the firstborn filly of the Twilight family and they were always named Twilight something or another. She liked her name.
But the way Chrysalis said that name… it made Twilight’s heart ache. She briefly considered stepping back in, to confront the queen about it but decided against it.
She even slammed the door shut and kept it closed with her magic, just so she could get a head start.
For now, Twilight just needed a nice, calm spot so she could recollect her thoughts and prevent herself from going all crazy again.
And that nice, calm spot was not in this hallway. It was most certainly NOT here.
Dozens, hundreds, maybe even thousands of eyes stared at her.
Hundreds of creatures looking like the queen. Some of them were on the ground, others were hovering in the air. Some of them were bigger than two Big Macintoshes taped together, while others were as small as Sweetie Belle.
And all of them were looking at her, their gazes fixed only on her.
Twilight squeaked in fright.
In an instant, the creatures bowed before her. ‘Do not fear us.’ The gesture said.
Twilight felt a rush of comfort wash over her, engulfing her entirely. She felt slightly more at ease. If the creatures wanted to get to her, they would have.
But she knew they didn’t mean to harm her.
Somehow, they were transmitting their feelings for her into her very mind!
She felt no hostility from them. No anger, no hatred.
Instead, she felt… love? Compassion? Happiness?
How was she able to identify those feelings? It wasn’t her own happiness she felt. It was theirs, it had to be.
Because she wasn't feeling very happy at the moment.
Was the queen messing with her mind? Making her feel things that weren’t there?
The pressure steadily increased as more and more Changelings pitched in. More emotion than Twilight had ever felt was forcing its way into her being.
And it started to hurt.
As she tried to organize these new thoughts and feelings her magic faltered. The door behind her swung open before Twilight could reestablish her hold on it.
Twilight cursed to herself for allowing herself to be distracted.
The Changeling queen stepped through the doorway, her own magic keeping the door firmly in place this time.
Twilight felt her headache coming back, just like before.
“What’s going on here? What are you doing to me?” Twilight demanded from the queen.
“They have been waiting for you.” Chrysalis said to her as she slowly approached her wayward daughter.
Twilight noticed this and took two steps back in response.
Instantly the Changelings stepped back too, moving out of the way. They still lingered though, like moths hanging around an open flame.
“Please, do not run.” Chrysalis pleaded. “We have so much to discuss Amaryllis.”
“Stop calling me that.” Twilight said, looking around in a frenzy. “What are they? Why are they so quiet? And why are they in MY HEAD!!” She fell to the ground, clutching her head in pain.
“All of you, back down!” Chrysalis said, her voice laced with authority and carrying through the hallway. “She’s not properly integrated yet, you are overwhelming her! Return to your posts, now!” The Changelings backed away, their normally static faces showing their shock at being told off by their queen.
Meanwhile, Twilight sighed in relief as the bombardment of emotion seized. She still felt it trickling in but it wasn’t overpowering any more.
“I am sorry for that.” Chrysalis said as the hallway cleared out.
The Changelings returned to their posts but Twilight felt that they only did so reluctantly.
Chrysalis glared at the last three Changelings that remained, sending them skittering off. “Your siblings are very eager to see you again.” She said as she caught Twilight’s confused look.
“Siblings?” Twilight asked.
Chrysalis nodded. “All three thousand three hundred and twelve of them. Not including converts, of course.”
“Of course.” Twilight mimicked, her tone slightly sarcastic as she tried to keep a calm demeanor.
But her mind was reeling! She was confused and angry but she didn’t want to show it.
And besides, she already has a sibling: Shining Armor!
It was hard enough for her to remember one birthday. Thousands of them? It just seemed impossible.
Why in Equestria was she even thinking of such unrelated things? She was freaking out worse than she initially thought.
It was hard to keep her mind on one thing, especially with droning of the Changelings returning ever so slowly and quietly, like fillies sneaking into the house way past curfew.
Even when they weren’t around her, she could feel them.
“Come.” Chrysalis said, sensing Twilight’s distress. “We’ll retreat to your chambers.”
“Why should I?” Twilight said, trying to sound more courageous than she was feeling at the moment. “I don’t know you, this is just so confusing!” She yelped in pain. “And they’re in my head again!” She sunk to the floor in anguish.
The queen’s expression turned to a scowl.
Twilight felt something. An order. A command.
Something unspoken and unheard but felt instead. She didn’t understand it, as it was not directed at her.
But the moment it passed the droning stopped. Twilight’s headache instantly faded.
Chrysalis helped Twilight back onto her hooves, pleased with the fact that Twilight didn’t resist her touching her.
“Come along now.” Chrysalis said. “We have much to discuss, so many years to catch up with.”
“Don’t act like we’re best friends.” Twilight said harshly. “I don’t trust you and so far, you’ve given me no reason to. You can't just walk into my life and claim to be my mother!”
“Amaryllis.” Chrysalis said, a tone of annoyance clear in her voice. “Why must you resist so? It’s quite obvious that you are my daughter.”
“My mother was a Unicorn, so I can’t be your daughter.” Twilight countered.
“Oh, but you are.” Chrysalis smirked. “You look just like me.”
“I do not…” Twilight started but her words quickly got caught in her throat.
Her wings fluttered ever so softly.
Her hooves ached a bit.
Her tongue caught on her fangs.
Panic began to fill her.
“Let’s get you to your room.” Chrysalis said, her voice calmer once more. “I will tell you all you need to know. And you’ll be able to look into a mirror. I think you’ll like the new you.”
New me? Twilight thought, what’s wrong with the old me?
Chrysalis noticed her daughter’s distress. “Didn’t you notice?” She asked.
“No.” Twilight said. She didn’t dare to look, as if ignoring the obvious would make it go away.
But the queen would have none of that. Her daughter needed to see the truth.
So Chrysalis lifted her left foreleg and held it in front of her face. She closed one eye and peered through one of the holes in her leg with the other.
Twilight shuddered as Chrysalis’s single eye peered through that void. It was unnerving. It remained fixed on her.
But the feelings of mere unease quickly turned to full-fledged panic as she mimicked Chrysalis’s gesture.
She knew Chrysalis was speaking the truth. A mere glance at her leg told her enough. Her heart began to beat more rapidly and her vision began to swim.
But she still continued her mimicry.
She closed one eye.
Then she held her hoof in front of the other.
And still she peered into Chrysalis’s green eye.
And then everything went black.
“How could you have known?” Celestia asked. She was shocked. She had let Twilight be examined yearly by the finest Unicorn doctors bits could buy, to map out her magical and physical growth. Never had they noticed anything wrong or different about the filly.
She knew Twilight’s magic like she knew her own and even then she had never suspected that Twilight might not have been a Unicorn.
“First off, allow us to apologize.” Night Light said meekly. “If we had told you, this might not have happened.”
“But we were afraid.” Twilight Velvet said. “We love our Twilight so very much. We were afraid that you’d take her from us.”
“Or worse, banish her.” Night Light cleared his throat.
“I am disappointed in you.” Celestia said as she hung her head in defeat. “That you’d think that I would banish a filly for something beyond her control.” She sighed.
She had hoped that her subjects had moved on from their fear of her.
“We’re sorry princess.” Night Light said. “I know we should have trusted you. But we were just so afraid. What if it came out that Twilight wasn’t a Unicorn? What would all the other ponies in Canterlot say?”
“I’d say that those other ponies can stuff it!” Rainbow Dash said angrily.
“You’re missing the point.” Rarity said. “Imagine if everypony knew that Twilight was a strange pony-like creature that could shapeshift into other ponies.”
Rainbow Dash looked at her oddly. “So?”
“Now imagine if one of those ponies got it in their heads that Twilight was dangerous.” Rarity continued."Because she's different and has all these abilities."
Rainbow opened her mouth to reply but quickly fell silent as she processed what Rarity implied.
“Never mind.” Rainbow Dash eventually said with a frown. She could imagine what would happen if one angry pony decided to take the law in his own hooves.
“Rarity is right.” Velvet said. “Our image is not important, but I’d die if somepony dared to lay a hoof on my daughter.”
“And we’ve had first hoof experience with the bigotry here in Canterlot.” Night Light said. “My brother was made out for a ‘featherbrain’ and an ‘airhead’ the last time he visited.”
Celestia nodded. Some of her subjects were not as loving as she wanted them to be. “I can imagine how they would react to something that wasn’t a pony at all.”
“When we first discovered that she was a Changeling, there had been an incident.” Night Light said. “I think you remember that? Where that Earth pony mare met her end at the hooves of those supremacists?”
“Yes, I do remember that.” Celestia said darkly. That had been a dark page in the history of her capitol.
“Wait, how did you know that she was a Changeling?” Pinkie said.
“That’s what they’ve been trying to explain so far dear.” Rarity frowned. “Haven’t you been paying attention?”
“No not that, he said that they discovered she was a Changeling.” Pinkie Pie pointed out. “I’ve never heard of a Changeling before today and I know everypony and every pony there is to know.” She said with some pride in her voice.
“Miss Pie is right.” Night Light said.
“Call me Pinkie, please.” The pink mare said.
“Pinkie Please it is then." He laughed at his own joke beore continuing. "We started noticing strange things about Twilight.” He said. “She’d wake up with a different color coat or mane, small stuff like that.”
“But when she started teething, she bit me.” Twilight Velvet said. “Our little filly had poisonous fangs. I slept for three days.”
“I came home that day to a crying Twilight hugging her mommy.” Night Light said. “The poor thing had no idea what she did.”
“I don’t understand why you wouldn’t go to the doctor with that.” Rarity said. “Surely you’d want that checked out?”
“That’s just it, those ‘symptoms’ didn’t stay!” He said. “They would spring up and disappear again, just like that. We didn’t understand what was going on.”
“Still waiting.” Pinkie said, not having received an answer to her question yet.
“Right.” Night Light cleared his throat. “We found out that she was a Changeling because of a book somepony had slipped into her bag.”
“Being the good filly she was, she gave it to us because she was scared somepony had lost it.” Twilight Velvet smiled.
“The Monstrous Manuscript of Monstrous Monsters, it was called.” Night Light said. “Not something I’d read to a filly before bedtime.” He said as he pulled a book out from under the pillow. “I brought it with me.” He said as he saw the looks of confusion. “In case we needed it.”
“There was a bookmark in it.” Twilight Velvet said. “On page… three hundred and twelve, if I remember correctly.”
Celestia levitated the book out of Night Light’s hooves. She held it in front of herself and Luna. “Authored by… Starlight Twinkle?” She read.
“Your former student.” Luna said, a dark tone to her voice.
Celestia opened the book and quickly scanned through it. “This is rubbish.” She said as she pointed at a child’s drawing of some sort of lion creature. “Manticores aren’t related to kittens.” She pointed out. “And Chimeras don’t live in Weather Top.” She frowned at this mockery of a book.
Luna snorted as she read an entry about humans actually being shaved sasquatches. “This is hilarious. And here I was, thinking that Starlight was an accomplished writer.”
“Page three hundred and twelve.” Twilight Velvet said again.
Celestia magically flipped through the thick tome, stopped at the desired page.
‘Changelings’ the page read, in grand ornate letters. Underneath it was a beautiful drawing of a seemingly hideous creature.
“It explains everything.” Night Light sighed. “The fangs, the transformations. Even her fixation on chocolate.”
Everypony shuddered at the mention of chocolate. Twilight’s obsession with the treat was well known around both Canterlot and Ponyville.
“It says here that a Changeling queen can and will replace ponies with her own kind.” Celestia frowned at that. How long had this been going on? How had nopony ever noticed this?
“That could mean that your real daughter’s still around.” Fluttershy said, though she quickly regretted her choice of words.
“Twilight is our real daughter, nothing will ever change that.” Twilight Velvet said with determination clear in her voice. “And besides, read on. About what happens with the ponies they abduct.”
“It says here that they are drained of their love and emotion.” Luna said, stealing the book from her sister’s grasp. “And that they then become Changelings themselves.”
“Luna, did you know this?” Celestia asked.
“Sure.” Luna said. “Ammy did it all the time. She even said she was waiting for the right time to do this to me.” She said with a nonchalant tone to her voice, as if it were the most normal thing in the world.
Celestia was shocked. “And this didn’t bother you?”
Luna shrugged. “Ammy’d never really do that to me. And our subjects and I weren’t seeing eye to eye either.” She frowned as she recalled her own behavior. “I was not a good mare, back then.”
Celestia pulled her sister close to her. “Do not say that.” She comforted her.
Luna smiled weakly at her sister’s words.
Chrysalis frowned at the downed Changeling in front of her. Her daughter seemed to have slipped into the bliss of unconsciousness.
She called for a Changeling Behemoth to come and pick her up.
Instantly three of the towering soldiers appeared, racing towards Chrysalis in an attempt to be the first one there.
“Eager much?” Chrysalis mocked the oversized Changelings, though her anger was not aimed at her children. At least not at all of them.
Amaryllis would need time, she knew that.
Life at the hive was not as pleasant as life in Equestria, but she had managed just fine the past thousand years and so would her daughter.
As she was lost in thought, the three Behemoths began bickering amongst each other. There had been no clear winner in their race and thus they were fighting over the privilege of carrying their princess.
Chrysalis sighed as she observed the scuffle.
As her mother had said, each new generation of Changeling queens brought a completer hive mind with them.
Each generation brought them closer and closer to complete unity.
Yet her children were fighting over something, in her eyes, meaningless.
They still knew desire and competition. Desire was a good thing, she could live with that but competition amongst one another was not good for their unity.
So without a word she picked Amaryllis up herself, placing the still mare on her back and sneaking away without the Behemoths noticing.
The steady beeping of the heart rate monitor was the only sound that pierced the silence of the hospital.
“Ya should rest Applebloom.” Applejack said as she laid a pillow at the end of Big Mac’s bed.
“But ah wanna be awake when he wakes up!” Applebloom whined. She had hoped her big brother would be up by now. But so far the big stallion had shown no signs of waking up just yet.
“Ah know ya do.” Applejack said. “But ya need yer sleep. Just get some shuteye will ya? Ah’ll wake you up when he wakes.”
Applebloom nodded. Her sister lifted her up and laid her down on the edge of Big Macintosh’s hospital bed. It was more than big enough to accommodate the little filly.
“Just rest yer eyes.” Applejack said. “We all had a big day today.”
“Big Mac lied.” Applebloom said.
“Huh?” Applejack responded with a confused look.
“He said that he was late ‘cause of the penguin suit but he was not! He took Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo and me to safety first!” She rambled, tears forming in her eyes as she spoke. “Ah tried to convince him to stay but he didn’t! He wanted to go back and help!”
“Applebloom, it ain’t your fault.” Applejack was shocked that the little filly thought so. “Big Mac’s a stubborn old mule, he never listens to reason.” She sighed.
She sat back down near the head end of Big Mac’s bed, stroking the feverish stallion’s face. “Come on, ya big lunk.” She said. “You’ve got us all worried.”
She felt tired too. And worried. Not just for Big Macintosh but for Granny Smith as well. The poor old dear had no idea her grandson was in the hospital.
But her worry went out to Shining Armor too.
The two of them had been good friends ever since Twilight came to Ponyville and she didn’t want to lose that.
“Ah don’t care Twilight.” She whispered to herself as she got up. She moved to the window and looked out at the stars. “Ah don’t care if you’re a pony, a changeling or a fifty feet tall jackalope. Ye’re my friend and we’ll get ya back somehow.”
She sat down next to the bed again, trying to stay awake as long as she could.
Chrysalis laid her daughter on her bed before tucking her in, much like she had done as Cadance the day before.
It was late at night now and she needed her sleep. She didn’t have Shining Armor’s love to feed off anymore, as she had transferred nearly all of it to her daughter. The bit she had kept for herself was expended during her clash with Celestia.
“Sleep tight, my beautiful Amaryllis.” She said as she kissed her daughter’s forehead.
She left and closed the door behind her ever so quietly.
“We began noticing strange things too.” Night Light continued his story. “Mysterious favors, anonymous donations. Not so anonymous donations.”
“I mentioned to a friend that we weren’t able to pay for Twilight’s tuition at the princess’s school.” Twilight Velvet said. “The next day we get a visit from somepony named ‘Filthy Rich’ who said he wanted to pay them for us. I called him crazy and he just dumped a bag of bits in my lap and took off.”
“Was he an amber Earth pony with a gray mane?” Rarity asked.
“He was.” Velvet said.
“That sounds like Ponyville's Filthy Rich.” Fluttershy said. “But I don’t think he’d do such a thing.”
“Strange indeed.” Celestia admitted.
She frowned as she caught sight of the clock. “My dear ponies, I think it would be best for you all to head to bed.” She said. “It has been a long day and sunrise is mere hours away.”
“What?” Rainbow Dash exclaimed. “But what about the queen? Who was she? And what are we going to do about our Sparkle?”
Celestia cocked her head in confusion.
“She’s talking about Twilight.” Rarity clarified.
“Oh, Twilight Sparkle.” Celestia laughed, before addressing Rainbow’s concerns. “My dear Rainbow, you won’t be able to help Twilight if you’re dead on your hooves. Get some rest and we will talk more later.”
“Fine.” Rainbow Dash didn’t like it but when the celestial monarchs decreed that you should sleep, you did.
“I’ve already had some rooms prepared for you.” Celestia said. She turned to Night Light and Twilight Velvet. “That offer’s for you as well.”
“We’re grateful princess, but we’d rather go home.” Night Light said. “It’s not far and I think we’ll sleep better, if at all, in our own bed.”
Celestia nodded. “I understand completely.”
“You should go to bed as well.” Luna said. “You’ve been through just as much dear sister.”
“But the sun-” Celestia started but she was quickly cut off.
“No buts, I can handle the sun for one day sister. Please, get some rest.” Luna said firmly, her tone saying that there was no room for discussion here.
Celestia stared at her sister. “Thank you.” She eventually said.
Luna nudged her onwards. "Think nothing of it dear sister."
Celestia had one of the servants guide the six little ponies to their room and she said her goodbyes to Night Light and Twilight Velvet.
She felt weary. The day had drained her greatly. Fighting for her freedom and that of her kingdom was tiring.
But having to find out that it was actually her former student trying to control her was even more taxing.
Add to that the fact that two of her most loyal subjects had been kidnapped was just too much for one mare.
And then she hadn’t even thought about what Twilight’s heritage could mean to her and Equestria.
As she approached her own bedroom she picked up on a faint snoring. And it sounded rather familiar.
“Did anypony enter my room?” She asked one of the guards.
“No your highness.” The one to the right said.
Celestia pushed her door open. Her bed looked so alluring right now.
She shed her regalia and magically moved her blankets.
“So you’ve been snoring here?” She said as she found a baby dragon curled up under her blanket.
“Huh? Oh hi princess.” Spike said groggily. “I couldn’t find you, so I decided that I’d wait for you here.”
“Did the guards let you in?” Celestia asked. She wasn’t angry though.
“Yeah, didn’t they say so?” Spike asked as he scrambled off of the bed.
“I asked them if anypony came in.” Celestia sighed.
Spike let out a short laugh. “Hey um, princess?”
“Yes Spike?” Princess Celestia awaited his question, though she had a good idea of what it was.
“C-could I sleep with you tonight? Just like old times?” He pleaded. Next to Twilight, Celestia had been the only parent/sister figure he had ever had.
Celestia sighed. “Just this once, okay?” She winked.
She’d almost forget that underneath the firebreathing and the scales and the tattoo laid the heart of a baby dragon.
“Spike? When did you get a tattoo?”
A bit short, a bit too much filler and a bit too late. Did I do anything right? I underestimated writing Twilight freaking out, it’s harder than I had thought.