The green blast emanated from the centre of the hovering mass above the town, it came down with deathly precision and stuck the centre of the town hall. Even from the distant field, the group could hear the immediate screams of the town’s folk. “Oh my goodness!” screamed Ruby, stumbling back and falling into Seed who stood frozen.
“What the hay was that!” Thor yelled.
“That was magic!” Whispered Archimedes, “Changeling magic!” immediately recognising the tell tale signs from one of his books, and his mother’s stories.
“Changelings?” Thor shouted in alarm, “Those things that tried to take over Canterlot?” Archy gave a grim nod as he continued to stare. For a moment they stared, as a second blast was sent in the direction of the shopping district. In the direction of Sugar Cube Corner.
“MOMMY!” screamed Sweetness, forgetting herself and charging without thought to the already fast burning town.
“Sweety!” Yelled Ruby, trying to reach out and stop her. The unicorn’s hoof just missed the tip of the pink pony’s tale as she whipped away. She took a step forward, trying to follow, but was stopped by Seed. The stallion’s hoof had crossed her path, pushing her back.
“You can’t go in there, it’s too dangerous!”
“But what about Sweety? What about my parent’s? What about YOUR parents?” She pleaded, horrified. Seed swallowed.
“We don’t know where they are...” he whispered, his eyes still fixed on the fluctuating mass, now firing shots sporadically at the thatched houses. Each created a shining green explosion, that sent beams, glass, and what Seed was sure were ponies, high into the air.
“I’ll get Sweety!” Thor stated, bolting forward and taking to the sky fast.
“THOR NO!” Seed yelled after him. But it was too late. Bitterly, he looked back at the remaining three of his friends. Waited for a moment, then gave an angry cry and turned back and followed him as fast as he could on the ground. As he made his way towards the town that was already filled with the stench of burning wood, the final three saw the worst turn of events yet.
The cloud broke up.
What seemed to look like thousand of little pony shaped creatures began to fall down towards the town, all of them screaming wildly as their little wings propelled them fast to the ground. Realising his friends were in danger, Archy shouted to the two girls. “What do we do?!” Ruby stared at the remaining Pegasus. So far, Angelica hadn’t moved, like her cousin her eyes had been fixed on the destructive cloud. Now it was gone, her focus returned slowly to the matter at hoof.
“We...” She began, thinking hard. “We...” Suddenly her head snapped up, determination fixed in her eyes. “We go in, find those three, and get out! Our parents can look after themselves. We need to protect each other!” Archy nodded, and began to canter off after Seed, Thor and Sweetness. Without a word, Angelica followed him, closely pursued by a terrified looking Ruby.
The town was in chaos! Within moments, the summer sun’s light counted for naught as the fires raged and their smoke blotted out the sky. Screams flew through the air, a mix of both the terrified inhabitants of Ponyville as they fled their blazing homes, and the gleeful fits of joy coming from the changeling drones as they demolished the town and mauled it’s residents. Seed was terrified yet he couldn’t leave, not without his friends, not without his best friend! Not without Thor!
The country stallion pelted through the streets, filled with running screaming ponies as they made their way out of the town. He was buffeted from side to side, constantly fighting against the tide of fleeing town’s folk. The smoke brought stinging tears to his eyes and clogged his throat, yet he still pushed on, squinting to try and see a glimpse of burgundy coat or Aqua mane!
“THEY’RE DOWN HERE TOO!” Screamed a bright pink pony with a yellow mane, rearing up and running back the way she had come as a line of about six changelings appeared, blocking of the exit the ponies were trying to reach. The crowd screamed and turned back. Suddenly knocked off balance by the change of momentum, Seed stumbled almost falling to the floor to be trampled.
As his footing completely seemed to fall away, his forehooves flung out to shield himself. Yet he never hit the ground! Peeking quickly out of one closed eye, he saw his body encased in a dark shade of magic. He recognised the rare colour! Turning his head, he saw Archimedes pushing his way through the chaotic crowd towards him, his horn glowing brightly. Seed found his footing once again and made his way over as best he could through the already thinning masses of ponies.
“What are you doing here?!” the earth pony yelled angrily to his friend.
“I wasn’t going to leave you and Thor to burn alive! Now come on!” Archy turned around, heading away from the line of approaching Changelings. Seed followed quickly. As they made their way across the street, Seed caught a glimpse of two female faces waiting in a side alley, staring out worriedly. Ruby and Angelica! The stallion sped up towards his cousin and friend to check they were safe.
Leaving Archy to wade through the crowd alone.
A particularly large stallion slammed into the small bespectacled teen. The unicorn stumbled backwards, only to be slammed into by a small gaggle of foals as they made their way out guided by a terrified Mrs Cherilee! One of the foals caught Archy in the back of his leg, causing the stallion to lose all purchase on the ground below. As he fell to the floor, he felt pain shoot up his right calf. He tried to stand, but combined with the barging ponies around him, the pain in his leg was too much to allow him to get up.
Archy looked up, searching for his friends. But as his gaze rose, he saw a large hoof comedown to meet his face.
Then darkness and silence as the screams began to fade away into nothing.
“Mac! Where is she!?!” Fluttershy cried mournfully as her and her husband made their way along the dark alley. The red stallion’s eyes were furrowed in horror as he gazed at the blazing buildings. Ponyville! In Flames!
“Flight trainin’” He mumbled to the hysterical yellow mare. “She’ll have been outta the way; she has ‘nuff sense to run!” Fluttershy didn’t look in the least part reassured.
The three were headed through the back roads and alleys of Ponyville, hoping to avoid the hundreds of Changelings that had besieged the small town. Already, they had encountered a large group of them outside the library, which was where they had picked up Twilight. Along with the help of Big Macintosh, the purple magic master had been able to repel the small dark creatures. The magenta unicorn now charged forward leading the group. A look of shear horror in her eyes as she searched for her beloved little Archimedes!
She hadn’t said a word yet, her lips seemed frozen in place as she searched while trying to find a way out of the town for the others. While her son was here, she wouldn’t leave, but she couldn’t allow her friends to stay and get hurt! Friends like...
“APPLEJACK!” Twilight screamed.
The orange pony was trapped, though fighting as best she could; the swarm of changelings that surrounded her were too much for even the athletic mare to handle. Without a moment’s hesitation, Big Mac charged, his head lowered down like a battering ram. He struck the first of the unsuspecting little parasites hard in the back, sending him into several of his friends and making them tumble into the blazing inferno that had once been the first floor of Sugar Cube Corner.
The brother and sister stood back to back, as though they had never parted. Without a single word, Applejack ducked to allow Big Mac to send a strong and powerful kick into the face of one of the floating creatures. It fell twitching to the floor instantly. Applejack rose up hard and fast, bringing her forehoof up and into the waiting jaw of the next victim. Within seconds, the two siblings had left the group of attackers lying on the floor in pain.
Mac grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and hauled her over to the others waiting in the alley just off of the main road. “Twilight! Fluttershy!” Applejack cried, flinging her hooves around her two friends thankfully. “You two a’right?” The two mares gave shaky nods. Applejack knew what was wrong, it was the same reason she had come down into town the moment she heard the explosions. They were worried for their children!
“What were you doing over there Applejack?” Twilight asked, slowly making her way to the corner, and checking for signs of any other changelings.
“I swore I heard somepony Yellin’!” She looked worried. “I think it was Pinkie!” Twilight’s eyes widened in horror as she turned to the blazing bakery. Now she concentrated, she was sure she could hear terrified squeels coming from within its smouldering walls.
“Oh my gosh!” Fluttershy cried as she too heard the fearful noises of their trapped friend. The group all ran out into the clearing, searching for a way to help. “Pinkie!” Twilight screamed. High above them, from behind the window of her and Discord’s room, they saw a figure freeze. “PINKIE!” She yelled again. The figure shifted and pushed the windows open quickly.
“TWILIGHT! EVERYPONY! HEEEEELLLP!” Now the window was open, Twilight could see the menacing orange glow of flames that must be only a few feet from the Pink pony!
“Sweetness! Darn it! STOP!” Thor had landed, and was now rushing after the pink mare he had finally found. The random pink pony was determined and wasn’t even looking back as she barged past ponies and Changelings alike; somehow, the little black creatures seemed to never notice her! Thor saw them glance at her from their chaotic looting and smashing of items and windows, he even saw their green beady eyes glance at him! Yet they ignored the pair as they rushed through the town. Why?
“I’m going to go help my mommy!” Sweetness yelled angrily over her shoulder at the pursuing Pegasus. Thor gave a quick burst of speed, catching up, and then overtaking the rushing mare. He stopped in front of her, spreading his wings wide to stop her from getting by. Sweetness tried to get past, her wild and frustrated movements proving how distraught she was.
“Sweetness!” Thor shouted, grabbing her shoulders tightly and staring her down. “We need to get out of here! NOW!”
“NO!” She yelled, trying to break free of his hold. “My mommy’s all alone! I need to help her! Pappa isn’t here!”
“You don’t think the wife of a god can protect herself against a few of these things!” Thor gestured madly at the black drones that now clambered over the buildings, obviously content with the amount of suffering and death they’d brought to the town. Now their round green eyes stared at the two with bated breath, almost as though they were watching a show!
Yet again Thor found himself wondering why they hadn’t attacked. What was going on? “Your mom’s fought them before! With my mom, Seed’s, Archy’s all of our parents have before! They’ll be fine!”
“NOOOOO!” Sweetness yelled, anger exploding into life across her face, for the first time in living memory. Her deep purple eyes seemed to flash scarlet. Their blood red gaze boring into the stallion before her.
“Woh!” Thor yelled in surprise, backing away slightly in fear. For a moment, just one moment, he could see the side she had inherited from her father. For a moment, he didn’t see a pony glaring back at him, but an angered draconequus!
Anger quickly melted into sorrow, as Sweetness’s eyes became round and fearful. They shifted back to their former colour, and quickly filled with tears. “I-I’m sorry!” She whimpered. Thor shook the moment off and came back up to her.
“Sweety! We need to leave, let’s find the others and we’ll run to the forest! Ok?”
“I-I-I’m scared Thor!” the mare squeaked as she gazed at the burning town around them, at the little creatures staring hungrily at her. Thor came closer to her.
“Me too!” He trotted up to her side and unfurled his wings. “Get on!” He ordered, which Sweetness obeyed without hesitation. With speed like his mother’s, Thor bolted up into the sky.
“Hold on Pinkie! We’ll get you down!” Twilight encouraged falsely, she had no idea what she could do! If Pinkie jumped, she’d hurt herself too badly to move! Then she’d be a stationary target for these things!
Another blast of the green magic exploded into life behind the line of houses to their right! It’s green flames billowed out towards the sky, carrying with it what seemed to be over twenty ponies! Twilight’s stomach threatened to empty itself at the sight of such death and destruction, but she couldn’t give in! Pinkie needed her, and Archimedes did to! They needed to hurry!
“MAC!” Applejack yelled, taking charge as the magenta pony panicked. “You think you could catch her?” The red stallion glanced up at the high balcony, the angled himself underneath it. After a few adjustments to his position, he turned and gave a solid nod to his sister. Applejack took a deep lungful of smoke coated air, preparing to shout to her friend now flailing helplessly as the amber flames began to lick at her tail as they jumped from the room.
However, as she stared the orange pony noticed a faint glint in the sky behind her friend. Before she could focus on the object approaching fast, it shot past the balcony at breakneck speed trailing a rainbow streamline behind it. As it collided to the ground, dust and smoke swallowed the group in darkness.
After a spell from Twilight, the cloud passed, leaving a tired looking Rainbow Dash holding Pinkie tight to her chest. Twilight gave out a nervous laugh as she trotted over to her two friends. “Rainbow! Pinkie! You’re ok!” Rainbow rose slowly, scoffing at her friends words.
“Pfft! Of course I am! I wasn’t going to let these punks slow me down!” She laughed, but by the look of sheer terror in her eyes, the friends could tell that her bravery was merely a thin veil of deceit.
A few seconds later a worn out Soarin’ landed behind his wife panting. “You ok babe?!” he asked of Rainbow, who nodded. “Everypony else?” Soarin’ asked, all gave shaky responses. The professional flyer gulped, dreading the answer that may come. “The kids?” Fluttershy succumbed to bitter tears, Mac threw a consoling foreleg over her, giving a curt shake of the head to Soarin’ as he did.
“Good!” the Pegasus gasped in relief.
“GOOD?!” Twilight exploded, just as another blast tore the roof off a nearby house. “GOOD?!” She repeated, advancing on the stallion. “My baby is out there alone right now! He could even be dead! And you say it’s GOOD that we don’t know?!?!” Without hesitation Soarin’ roared back.
“If none of us have seen them! There’s a higher chance they weren’t in the town when the changelings attacked!” He turned to the others. “Rarity and Spike are safe! I saw him fly outta here with her and some other stragglers!” the girls gave a sigh of relief.
“If the kids are out of the town, then they’re safe!” Soarin’ mumbled. “They’re at no risk!”
The screams, explosions, and crackling flames began to swim back to Archimedes as he regained consciousness. As his eyes opened, he believed for a second hat he’d died and fallen to hell! The suffering around him was unimaginable. Just inches from his face, a pair of bright red eyes stared blankly back at him from the scorched earth. With her glasses shattered and laying beside her Dj Pon3, Mrs Vinyl Scratch his old music teacher had fallen Dead!
The unicorn turned his aching head, the muscles in his neck flared in agony and he had to grit his teeth hard to compensate for the pain. When his vision changed from the sight of dead ponies to the actual view of the street, his heart shattered into pieces. Ponyville, was destroyed!
A few buildings still stood, barely! And a few screams now and again from the distance suggested that there were still survivors! But as he gazed down the street, he saw them. The line of Changeling drones, making their way up the narrow corridor of houses.
They stopped every few paces, at first the unicorn couldn’t see why, but as he stared at the fast approaching group he saw. A Grey furred pony was twitching a few feet away, she tried to lift herself up, but the agony was obviously too great! Her fur and flesh were both burnt beyond recognition, but through her pain, she moved towards the –what seemed to her to be- approaching ponies.
A single one of the dark creatures stepped forward, it’s comrades giggled maliciously, all approaching the helpless creature suffering on the floor. But the first creature flung out it’s leg against the approaching horde in protest. It flung out... a hoof! Archy could only stare, his mouth hanging agape at the creature as it approached the suffering thing on the floor. His mother had told him of the Queen of the Changelings, her long sharp sword like horn, her dragonfly like wings, her pony-like body shape. This creature matched the description, yet, it wasn’t female!
The approaching thing was more stallion like in its shape and size, and its horn was gleaming like a polished steel blade. Archy could see wings twitching at his side, so was he an alicorn? Or WAS he a changeling like the queen?
Finally the figure reached the suffering pony on the floor and bent down. For a moment he seemed to be trying to help, and the dying female smiled with relief. She reached up to it, trying to hook her hooves around the black creature’s thick, strong neck. But as she rose up slightly, bringing her shoulder the bottom of the figure’s chin, Archy glimpsed the gleam of pearly white teeth, even from this distance!
Before it acted, the creature’s eyes began to wander. They travelled up the street, taking in the corpses that littered it. It glanced at the smouldering buildings, and widened with delight as a house tumbled to the ground in a heap of burning embers. Then, the ghostly green eyes snapped to the centre of the road, to Archimedes.
The unicorn gasped at his being discovered, he began to shuffle back as best he could in his drowsy state. The creature’s eyes stared him down for a moment, and then with a noticeable, and clearly deliberate wink. The creature opened its jaws, showing the glinting points on its teeth, and plunged them deep into the flesh of the of the helpless female’s neck!
“EEEAAARRRGGGHHH!!!” Archy screamed, he bolted to his hooves, turned tail and ran! Only a few feet ahead however, he slammed into a rather solid shape just protruding from the corner of the street. Once again, the spectacled unicorn fell to the ground. Still frantically yelling, he shook his head, and began to back away hysterically.
“Woh! Woh! Woh! Little buddy! It’s ok, it’s just me!” Thor hushed, glancing around quickly hoping none of the changelings heard the panicked unicorns yells. Archy’s screams broke into sobs of relief.
“Y-you’re ok!” he gasped, then realising the threat. He jumped up, noticing Sweetness pop out from around the corner as well. “We’ve gotta get out of here now! There’s something just down there! Something strange! Not a changeling!” he yelled, gesturing back down the street he had come from.
Thor snapped to attention, he glared down the street, but after a few moments he relaxed. “Yeah!” he chuckled slightly despite the situation. “Those definitely aren’t Changelings!” Archy frowned and followed his friends gaze. Down at the end of the street were no changeling’s, no fanged monster, no gleaming green eyes. But what was there, were three ponies running towards them! Seed, Ruby and Angelica!
“Archy! You’re ok!” Cried Ruby, reaching the unicorn and flinging her hooves around him happily!
“Thank Celestia we found you!” breathed Apple Seed, to all three of his friends.
“Great! We’re all here!” barked Angelica. “Now let’s go!”
“We didn’t realise we’d lost you until we reached Sugar Cube Corner!” Whimpered Ruby to her fellow unicorn. “And’ when we realised you weren’t there, we couldn’t think of where we lost you!”
“Explain later! Let’s get moving!” Angelica ordered again, all too aware of the still raging attack of the town.
“We were so worried...” the female unicorn said miserably. Suddenly with a piercing whistle, the yellow Pegasus grabbed the other five ponies’ attention.
“LET’S GO!” She yelled authoritively. This time, the group obeyed.
And as they left their life-long home behind in ruins, the changelings across the town gave out a scream of victory, and a solitary figure stood atop the house closest to the forest tree line.
Thor was the first to get to the forest’s line; he turned and shouted to his friends. “Come on! Come on hurry!” he kicked as much of a sizeable hole as possible through the thick exterior of the woods as he could, creating an entrance for the approaching group. They all dived in without pause; first Archy, then Angelica, Sweetness, Ruby and finally Apple Seed. As the burgundy Pegasus prepared to follow, he took one last look back at his home. And saw it.
It was slim, long and slender. Almost snake like in body build. It could be Ruby’s dad, Mr Spike, but he knew better. He saw the horns, one antler and one of a goat. Its long forked tail curled up from the ground supporting its owners lower back almost like a chair. As Thor stared, the figure raised a hoof...no... paw, and gave a sarcastic, condescending wave to the Pegasus! Thor took a step forward, forgetting for a moment the friends who needed him.
What was he doing? Just sitting there and watching the chaos unfold! Wasn’t this his home too? What about Sweetness? His daughter had almost died in there! Or had she? Thor stopped his advance, thinking hard. But even as his thoughts pieced themselves together in his mind, a large plume of flame shot into the sky making him jump. The flame roared, consuming the closest building, and when it passed and the smoke had cleared. The figure was gone.
Discord had gone!
Not wanting to be left to whatever fate left for him here, Thor turned and jumped into the forest after his friends!