Shining Armor snored softly. The stallion had been through a lot and Twilight was just glad that he was asleep, safe and sound inside his bubble.
Twilight tore her gaze away from her brother and looked into the mirror again. It was strange, she had never been a vain pony but now she couldn’t help but obsess over her reflection. The three of them had retreated to Chrysalis’s chambers, which held an intact mirror for her to marvel at.
And now, she had a somewhat decent light source. The gemstones strewn about the hive would give off a blue glow whenever somepony channeled some magic into it.
She looked at her reflection again. It was like a high speed wagon crash. She didn’t want to see it, yet she couldn’t look away.
Twilight ran a hoof through her mess of a mane. Her highlights remained purple and pink but her main color had changed into the same blue as the Changeling queen. Her hoof caught on an odd second horn. It looked like a crown, just like the queen’s. She wondered if it was of any use to her or if it was just there to signal her status as royalty.
At least she still had her cutie mark, something the Changeling queen lacked.
“See anything you like?” Chrysalis asked as she walked over to stand beside Twilight. “Like I said, you inherited my good looks.” She said with a grin, showing off her sharp fangs.
“Yeah… sure.” Twilight drew the sentence out. “Anyway, can I ask you something?”
“Anything, my child.” Chrysalis said.
“I couldn’t help but notice that I have my cutie mark. None of the other Changelings do.” Twilight noted. “Nor do you.”
Chrysalis laughed. “Oh don’t worry about that. It’ll disappear in a few days, maybe a week.”
Twilight’s jaw dropped. “Wha-...WHAT!? But I...”She stammered as she tried to find the right words. “Why?” She eventually managed to utter.
“Changelings don’t have cutie marks, there’s no need for them.” Chrysalis said casually. “You are also a Changeling, therefore you have no need for a cutie mark.” She smirked, going out of her way to show off her fangs again. Twilight was beginning to dislike that little tick her mother had.
“But that doesn’t explain why Changelings don’t have cutie marks.” Twilight retorted, stomping a hoof in frustration. The sound caused Shining Armor to jump up and open his eyes for a few seconds, after which he just closed them again and fell back asleep.
“Let’s just say that our species is not limited.” Chrysalis said. “When a pony gets their cutie mark, they tend to focus on it and nothing else. A Changeling doesn’t have a cutie mark. They do not need them as they serve their queen. If the queen desires them to be warriors, then they fight like rabid beasts. When she wants them to be builders, they will raise temples in her name. They can do or be anything, so long as the queen desires it.
“That’s how my mother used to explain it.” She added.
While Twilight didn’t know how to reply to that, it did make some sense to her. Changelings were like blank flanks: full of potential. But that potential was only to be used as the queen desired it or so it would seem.
Could she do so as well? She would become queen of this hive someday, whether she liked it or not. Could she command somepony to be a builder? To be a warrior? Even if they weren’t?
Twilight’s head was starting to hurt again, not from a torrent of chatter but from overthinking the possibilities.
“Are you okay?” Chrysalis asked. Twilight could hear genuine concern in her voice.
“I’m fine.” Twilight said. “Just thinking.”
“Don’t overdo it.” Chrysalis said. “Sometimes, it’s better to just go with the flow.”
“…Right” Twilight said hesitatingly.
“Don’t worry too much.” Chrysalis assured her. “You won’t be queen for a while. You will learn in time.”
Twilight’s eyes widened in shock. “Did you read my mind?” Twilight asked angrily.
“I didn’t need to.” Chrysalis said with a playful tone. “You broadcast your thoughts freely. I just need to pick up on them.
“But anyway, enough chitchat.” Chrysalis said, her serious tone returning. “There’ll be plenty of time to discuss those things when you come back. What we really need to focus on is your new abilities.”
“Right.” Twilight said. She didn’t like being dismissed like that but figured that she couldn’t do anything about it at the moment. “Show me.”
“This is a skill easy to learn but hard to master.” Chrysalis started. “You won’t be transforming into anypony right away, at least not properly.”
“I can always try.” Twilight loved a challenge. After all, this was just a different form of magic, wasn’t it? And magic was her special talent after all. For as long as it lasted…
“Indeed. There will be much ‘trying.’ You’ll see.” Chrysalis said.
A plume of fire engulfed Chrysalis, causing Twilight to take a step back in surprise.
The flames disappeared as quickly as they had appeared. “It’s that simple.” Cadance said.
“Sure it is.” Twilight frowned. “But what did you do? All I saw was a column of fire and now you’re Cadance.” She said as she rubbed her chin in thought.
“I am not Cadance.” Chrysalis said with a nearly unnoticeable hint of venom in her voice. “I look like Cadance, I walk like Cadance, I talk like Cadance but I am not Cadance.”
“But how do you do it?” Twilight asked, growing a bit impatient.
“Doing it is easy.” Chrysalis said, shedding her disguise as an ember of green flame flowed across her body. “Doing it right on the other hoof… Picture somepony. For example, Shining armor here.” The queen walked over to her bed, where Shining Armor slept.
“You know your brother here like nopony else.” She stated. “Picture him in your mind’s eye. Imagine his coat, his mane, his structure. Imagine his voice, how he walks. You’ll know what to do.”
Twilight did as she was instructed. Recalling Shining Armor wasn’t hard. The stallion was laying right in front of her, safe and sound in the bubble the queen had encased him in.
As she imagined, she felt a spark ignite deep inside her. She tried funneling some magic into it.
The spark, in turn, ignited something. Some primal force that grew into a fire, enveloping her entire body.
And like before, the fire disappeared soon after.
Chrysalis looked her over with a critical eye. “Well… it’s a start.” She said. “Though I must say, I’ve never seen a Changeling do something like that.”
“Huh?” Twilight asked. Her voice was still the same. She lifted her hooves. They were still filled with holes.
Only now her coat was as white as snow. Twilight turned around and looked in the mirror.
Her entire body was white, even her cutie mark. Her mane and tail stayed the same though.
“Okay, I did not expect that to happen.” Twilight said as she looked at her reflection. She didn’t look half bad like this. Maybe add a few freckles.
“Try to change back now.” Chrysalis said.
Twilight tried. The queen hadn’t given her any instructions so she just tried what seemed obvious to her: just let go off the image of Shining Armor.
But that didn’t seem to work.
“How do I change back?” Twilight asked but received no answer. She turned around. “Huh? Where did you go?” The queen was nowhere to be seen.
Twilight looked around but she saw no trace of her mother. Shining Armor was still there though, still asleep and-
Her eyes widened in shock. “What are you doing here?!” She backed away and into the mirror as a tall dark mare strode over to her.
“Pitiful foal!” Nightmare Moon cried out. “I go and stand where I please! I’ll see to it that you will be punished for your insolence!”
Nightmare Moon glared at the cowering Changeling princess, before erupting in a fit of laughter. “You should see the look on your face!” Nightmare Moon mocked, before turning back into the Changeling queen.
“That wasn’t funny!” Twilight fumed as she attempted to regain her composure.
“Sure it was.” Chrysalis said. “Just a bit of harmless fun. Come on, you stared down the real Nightmare Moon, didn’t you?”
“Yeah but there I had my friends backing me up.” Twilight said. Seeing Nightmare Moon like that had spooked her greatly, even if she had squared off with her before. Twice if you counted the Nightmare Night incident.
“That may be true but you still charged in on your own after her, didn’t you?” Chrysalis asked.
“Well, yes but… wait, how did you know that?” Twilight asked in confusion.
“I may not have been around all the time but I still kept my eye on you.” Chrysalis said. “Well, my eyes. That Praetorian you saw earlier, he followed you around your entire life, keeping you safe and informing me of your wellbeing.”
“That’s… that’s kinda creepy.” Twilight admitted. She had never even noticed that. But they could turn invisible, so there wasn’t much to notice. “Anyway, what was up with that? Why did you scare me like that?” She asked, trying to return to the situation at hoof.
“Oh? So you were scared?” Chrysalis teased. “But I did so to shock you. A decent shock serves well to undo a Changeling’s disguise.” She pointed at the mirror, where Twilight saw that she had her near-black color again. And her cutie mark too.
“And I admit, it’s fun too.” Chrysalis said, enjoying the disgruntled look on her daughter’s face.
“You and I have very different concepts of fun.” Twilight said, still looking into the mirror to check for any other differences. Was her top left star darker or was it just her imagination?
“Indeed we do.” Chrysalis said playfully. “But give it time. In a thousand years you learn to appreciate new things.”
“Sure.” Twilight said, rolling her eyes before turning back to face her mother. “Care to explain why you felt the need to ‘help’ me like that?”
“Because obviously you couldn’t do it on your own.” Chrysalis said. “Letting go of a disguise is even harder than assuming the disguise in the first place. In time it will become easier.” She said. “You tried to just let go of the image, didn’t you?”
Twilight nodded. “It seemed logical.”
“Don’t do it like that. You’re too familiar with Shining Armor’s image. Instead, you need to force the image away, not wait for it to go away on its own. It doesn’t work like that.” Chrysalis explained.
“Anything else I need to know?” Twilight asked.
Chrysalis tapped her chin in thought. “About changing, no. All I can say about it now is practice, practice and practice. But perhaps I could demonstrate the proper use of a disguise.”
“Sure.” Twilight said, wondering what the queen could mean by that.
“Positively marvelous darling.” Rarity said. “One can never have too much information on such subjects.”
“Huh?” Twilight looked up in confusion. “Rarity? Where di- oh, I get it.” The princess gave a short laugh. “Not bad, you almost had me fooled.”
“Given your initial reaction, darling.” Rarity said with glee. “I’d say that I did have you fooled. Don’t try and deny it dear, it happens to the best of us.” With that said ‘Rarity’ was consumed by a flash of fire, revealing the Changeling queen once more.
“I admit, that was good.” Twilight was amazed. She hadn’t expected the queen to pull of such a good impersonation of one of her best friends.
“Now, now dear, flattery will get you nowhere.” Chrysalis said, still using Rarity’s voice. “But I see that you can appreciate a somewhat decent work of mimicry.”
“Mimicry?” Twilight asked.
“Impersonation.” Chrysalis said, using her own voice again. “Copying somepony’s actions, speech patterns, way of breathing, everything that can help you assume somepony’s identity.”
“Can you teach me?” Twilight asked.
“No.” Chrysalis said. “You’ll have to figure that out on your own.” She then turned into a copy of Twilight herself, only as a purple Unicorn again.
“I’m sure you can do that.” Unicorn Twilight said with a smile.
“Very funny.” The real Twilight said. Chrysalis mouthed the words as she said them.
Twilight rolled her eyes and so did her copycat. “Stop it.” They said.
“Seriously, stop it.” Twilight repeated herself. She stomped a hoof in frustration, as did her copy.
She groaned, as did Chrysalis. “This is just like in magic kindergarten.” She said, recalling the stupid games the other Unicorns had occupied themselves with.
“You really need to lighten up.” Chrysalis said, turning back into herself. “Got any other questions?”
“Not really.” Twilight said, though her mind was working overtime to try and figure out how to make use of this information.
“Good. Now try again.” Chrysalis said. “Think of somepony else this time. Somepony that you’re not all that familiar with but still know.”
Twilight nodded. “I think I know somepony.” They had only met briefly but Twilight remembered that mare well.
Again, she visualized the mare in her mind’s eye and allowed her magic to run its course.
“Much better.” Chrysalis said. “Your mane’s still off though.”
Twilight looked in the mirror again. She was a little surprised to see the Great and Powerful Trixie staring back at her. Only difference that she immediately noticed was that Trixie still had Twilight’s Changeling mane, dyed in Trixie’s color. “That wasn’t so bad.” Twilight said, noting that her voice was still the same too. “I thought familiar ponies were supposed to be easier?”
“Usually that’s right. But as you can see, your disguise is not perfect yet.” Chrysalis reminded her, pointing out the various details that weren’t quite perfect yet. “You need more practice.” She said, pointing at Twilight’s cutie mark on her left flank, whilst the other flank had a cape and wand design.
“The Great and Powerful Twilight knows that!” Twilight said, trying her hoof at mimicking Trixie but falling a bit short. “She will do her best!” She proclaimed, trying to sound as confident as the showmare had been.
Chrysalis nodded. “You know, I thought I recognized that mare from somewhere… never mind, change back now. And try to do it right this time.”
Twilight nodded. Again, she tried to force the image of her copied pony away. She closed her eyes and focused.
She mentally pushed against the image of Trixie sitting in her mind’s eyes. She focused her mind on that single task and…
“Twilight Sparkle!” Somepony cried out in anger, causing Twilight to lose her focus entirely. “Why haven’t I received your homework yet? You’re tardy!” A portly green Unicorn scolded her, giving the blue Unicorn a glare that would make any filly or colt tremble in their seat.
Twilight’s eye twitched. “Very funny.” She said as she stared down the short Unicorn in front of her. “Miss Shimmer Shine was my least favorite teacher in magic kindergarten.” Twilight said. “How did you even know that?”
“A mother knows these things.” Miss Shimmer Shine said. “And having invisible spies helps too. You didn’t do half bad, but you kept that Unicorn’s mane color this time.”
Chrysalis turned back into her old self. “But that’s enough for now. You know the basics. All you need to do is practice, practice, practice.” She repeated her earlier advice, as if it were a mantra to live by.
Twilight nodded but she had her doubts. “Are you sure about that?” She questioned. “Can’t we keep practicing for a while?” She needed to be able to assume her old form before leaving here. Or at least a passable disguise, so she wouldn’t stick out like a sore hoof while in Canterlot.
“But I still need to show you so much.” Chrysalis said. “Tell you what, if we have some time left, I’ll help you practice. If not, I’ll help you along with your disguise.”
“You can do that?” Twilight asked.
“Of course. How else do you think I hid you for eighteen years with your foster family?” Chrysalis looked a bit insulted.
A thought struck Twilight. It was something that had been in the back of her head since she woke up the other day, something that was bothering her. “What… what happened to my parent’s real foal?” She asked nervously.
Chrysalis froze at that question, before turning to look her daughter in the eyes. “I was afraid you might ask.” She said. “Are you sure you want to know?”
Twilight nodded. “I do, for their sake.” And for her own. She wanted, no, needed to know what happened to the one whose life she was living.
“Come, I’ll show you. Don’t worry about your brother, he’s safe here.” Chrysalis assured her.
Twilight trailed after the queen as she led them out the royal bedroom and deep into the hive.
Celestia had taken a page from Twilight’s book and had prepared a checklist. One that would surely make the purple Unicorn shed a tear in joy and pride.
She ran a hoof over the list, stopping at the appropriate mark. “Saddlebags?” She asked out loud.
“Check!” Rainbow Dash said, pointing at the pile of bags laying in the middle of the courtyard.
Celestia ticked off the box saying ‘saddlebag’ and moved on to the next. “Supplies?” She called out.
“Checkers!” Pinkie yelled as she balanced three boxes of various sweets on her nose. “This should keep us going for a while. Half an hour at least.”
“Pinkie Pie, I meant vital supplies.” Celestia clarified, though she was highly amused by the party pony’s antics. Unlike Luna.
“Vital?” Pinkie asked dramatically. “What could be more vital than cupcakes?”
“Water and rations.” Luna said. “Stuff that’ll keep you alive.”
“Cupcakes keep me alive.” Pinkie said cheerfully.
“And on a permanent sugar high, I assume.” Luna muttered under her breath.
“Did you say something Luna?” Celestia asked.
“Nothing, nothing at all.” Luna said quickly. “I am just anxious to leave. I haven’t been in the Wastelands in a thousand years.”
“What are they like?” Rarity asked. “They sound absolutely dreadful.”
“Oh that’s only because they are, in fact, dreadful.” Luna said cheerfully. “The air’s so rich in sulfur that ordinary ponies drop dead in a few hours.”
Everypony stared at her in shock.
“What?” Luna asked. “I’ll protect you all, I do know my way around the Wastelands and I know a spell to allow you all to breathe there.”
“Well that’s a relief.” Rainbow Dash scoffed.
“Do you know where their hive is then?” Celestia asked, hoping for a clearer answer this time.
“I already told you, I do not.” Luna said, mildly annoyed. “Ammy and I only ventured into the Wastelands, never into the hive. The Changelings do not appreciate strangers entering their home.”
“How do ya suppose they’ll react to us?” Applejack asked. “Because, you know, we’re trying to enter their home too. And we’re strangers.”
“And how will you find their lair anyway?” Rarity pitched in.
“All will be revealed in due time, my little ponies.” Luna said. “But if things do get hairy, I will teleport us to safety.”
“Can’t you just teleport us in?” Rainbow Dash asked. “Because that’d be great.”
“I need to conserve my energy, in case we run into trouble.” She said. “And even if I had energy to spare, I still have no direction, nor a clear image of where I am to go.” She explained. “If I were to teleport, I would probably get us all stuck in a rock or buried beneath the ashes.”
“Forget I ever asked.” Rainbow Dash said quickly. Being permanently fused to a rock would severely hinder her chances at becoming a Wonderbolt.
“Are we all set?” Luna asked. “I intend to leave as soon as the night falls.”
“I think we are.” Rainbow Dash said.
“Wait! Does anypony know what happened to my lute?” Pinkie asked. “I can’t be a bard and boost our moral without my lute!”
“Pinkie, I will not wait for such trivialities.” Luna said, hoping that nopony had seen her beat up the instrument, before breaking it apart, throwing it around for a while and then setting it on fire. She had then proceeded to dump the remains into the castle moat, just to be safe.
Luna truly detested lutes... Almost as much as the Pony Pokey.
“Never mind, I’ll use my emergency stash.” Pinkie said with glee. She moved to a nearby shrubbery, stuck her hoof in it and pulled out a sparkling new instrument. “You never know when you might run into a lute emergency.” She said as she began to tune the new string instrument.
Luna’s eye twitched. “Anypony care to explain this to me?” She asked, trying to stick to her modern speech and not revert to the Traditional Canterlot Voice in frustration.
“Well, it’s best not to think too hard about it.” Rainbow Dash said with a shrug.
“Back in Ponyville, we just chalk it up to Pinkie being Pinkie.” Applejack said.
“But it doesn’t make any sense!” Luna couldn’t keep herself from crying out.
“Wait!” Somepony yelled. The group turned to the entrance of the castle, from where a white Unicorn came running. “You aren’t leaving without saying goodbye, are you?” Blueblood panted as he came to a stop in front of the group.
Rarity’s eyes widened. “You!” She hissed. “What are you doing here?”
“Uh, I live here?” Blueblood offered. “And I want to say goodbye to my aunt?” He shrugged. Of all the ponies that would be here, it just had to be her…
“Leave him be Rarity.” Luna said, walking over to her nephew. “Are you sure you haven’t changed your mind nephew?” She asked, hoping for a different answer this time.
“I’m sure aunty.” Blueblood said. “I would only slow you down.” The white Unicorn reached into his vest and pulled out a simple silver broche with a round red stone imbedded in it. “Here.” He said. “Take this, it’s my good luck charm. Be sure to bring it back to me, along with her.”
“Thank you Bluey.” Luna said as she clipped the broche on her cloak. “I will do my best.” She promised, hoping that she’d be able to keep that promise to her favorite nephew.
Celestia walked over to Luna and hugged her. “Thank you for doing this Luna.” She said gratefully.
“Thank me when I bring Shining Armor and Twilight Sparkle back safely.” Luna said.
“Did you pack an extra cloak?” Celestia asked.
“Of course I did.” Luna scoffed. She hated it when Celestia decided to act all motherly. Her sister was only a few thousand years older than her, after all.
“And did you feed the bats this time?” Celestia teased. She knew exactly how to grind her little sister’s gears.
“I’m pretty sure I did.” Luna said, trying to recall if she had actually done that or not.
“Do you really have to go sis?” Applebloom asked. “Ah don’t wanna see you go too.”
“Ah know lil sis.” Applejack sat down next to Applebloom. “But we need to save Twilight. And maybe we’ll be able to save Mac as well. It’s a long shot, but we have to try.” Applejack pulled her sister into a hug. “Now be a good lil filly and listen to what Rarity tells yah, okay?”
“Okay.” Applebloom sniffed.
“That’s a good filly.” Applejack ruffled her little sister’s mane.
Scootaloo then walked up to Rainbow Dash. “Hey squirt.” Rainbow Dash said. “You gonna be okay without me?”
“Uh, sure Rainbow Dash.” Scootaloo said. “Hey, when you’ve come back and saved Twilight and Equestria and kicked the queen’s butt, can you… nah never mind.” She said, losing her nerve halfway through her sentence.
Rainbow Dash smirked. “Kid, if you want flying lessons, just say it.” She said. “I’ll be more than glad to teach you. Who knows, you might become as awesome at it as me.”
“Really?” Scootaloo’s eyes lit up.
“Well, maybe.” Rainbow Dash shrugged. “If you try hard enough.”
“Wow! Thanks Rainbow Dash!” Scootaloo said happily before running back to Sweetie Belle and Applebloom. Rainbow Dash noticed a spring in her step that wasn’t there before.
“So, ya got a soft spot after all?” Applejack nudged her.
“What?” Rainbow Dash blushed. “Kid needs guidance, who better to provide it than me?”
Applejack chuckled. “Sure. Keep telling yourself that.”
“What was your cutie mark like?” Twilight asked, breaking the awkward silence that had reigned during their walk.
“A quill and an inkwell.” Chrysalis said, taking a moment to fondly remember the marking. “I was a writer.” She turned to look at her now blank flank, noting the obvious lack of such an image.
“Really?” Twilight asked as they turned right. “What did you write? Are any of your books still around?”
“A few.” Chrysalis said, now turning left with Twilight right beside her. “The Mare in the Moon is one of them. Who knows why Celestia kept that in production though.”
“You wrote that?” Twilight’s eyes widened. “If I hadn’t read that book, I would never have known about Nightmare Moon.”
“You’re welcome.” Chrysalis said. “I gave you your copy for your thirteenth birthday.”
“Huh?” Twilight was confused.
“It was a gift. You know, a birthday present?” Chrysalis said. “I left it by your bed.”
“I always thought Shining Armor gave that to me.” Twilight admitted.
“All for the better I suppose.” Chrysalis sighed. “That you didn’t know, I mean. You could’ve been found out. Mother told me not to interfere with my heir’s life until you were ready to return home. Of course, I never listened.”
The royals came to a stop in a small but bright room. “We’re at one of the deepest points of the hive now.” Chrysalis said. “No other Changelings are permitted here. It’s a like a holy place just for us royalty.”
Twilight could see several slates standing upright. Tombstones, she realized. “Are these… you know?” She struggled with her words.
“Indeed.” Chrysalis said. “The hive is most grateful for their sacrifice, as unwilling or inevitable as it was. Nearly all of the foals buried here were stillborn.” She pointed to a particular stone. “That’s hers.”
Twilight nodded. “Thank you.”
“I’ll allow you some time here, if you need it.” Chrysalis said before retreating back into the hallway.
Twilight stayed silent and turned back to the stone. It was rather unremarkable. There were no ornate carvings, no wishes or epitaphs. No clever poem, like on great-aunt Glimmer or a quote, like on grandma Twilight Twinkle.
Just a name. Twilight Sparkle written in both Equestrian and in those weird squiggly lines that the Changelings seemed to use as written language.
It was an odd sensation for Twilight Sparkle, standing in front of what could be called her own grave. “Hi.” Twilight said to the tombstone. “You don’t know me and I don’t know you but I know your parents and your brother. They… they obviously loved you very much. And I…” She struggled, trying to put her thoughts into words. “I’m just so… I’m sorry. For taking your place in their heart.” She eventually managed.
Silence reigned for a while as Twilight searched for more words to say. But what do you say to the one whose life you’ve been living?
“I’m sorry.” She said again, not knowing what else to say. “Maybe under different circumstances, we could’ve been friends.”
She knelt before the grave and said a little prayer, in hope to set the real Twilight Sparkle’s spirit at ease.
“Are you okay?” Chrysalis asked as she came back into the room.
“I’m fine.” Twilight lied. “Just a bit overwhelmed.”
“I understand.” Chrysalis said, noticing the blatant lie her daughter told her with ease. She pointed her hoof at the tombstone next to Twilight Sparkle’s. “That’s the real Starlight’s grave.” She clarified. “To this day, I’m still not sure if she was stillborn or if mother had something to do with it…” She grit her teeth in suppressed frustration.
Twilight cringed at what Chrysalis implied. “Can we go now? I’d like to get out of here.” The place was unsettling to her and probably to the queen as well.
“Very well.” Chrysalis said. “We should head onwards to more pleasant places.” The queen said, leading the way once more.
The rescue party had left Canterlot behind them, leaving as soon as Luna had raised the moon. It shone nearly twice as bright as usual, illuminating their path. The four ponies were now well and truly on their way to the border separating Equestria from the Wastelands
“I don’t get why we’re even travelling by night.” Rainbow Dash remarked. “It’s dark and there’s all sorts of evil creatures of the night lurking around.”
“That may be so.” Luna said, feeling slightly insulted by that remark. “But you’re travelling in the company of the Princess of the Night herself. No foul creature will dare to disturb us as we go.” She claimed proudly.
“Yeah, yeah.” Rainbow Dash said with a yawn. “All I know is that I already miss my bed.”
“Dash, we just left.” Applejack said. “We ain’t making camp just yet you know.”
Rainbow Dash just shrugged and flew off. Moments later she returned with a small cloud, on which she laid down. She gently beat her wings to keep going as fast as the ground dwelling members of the group.
Applejack groaned in annoyance as the rainbow Pegasus took the easy way out, as usual.
“Say, princess.” Applejack turned to Luna, in an attempt to ignore Rainbow Dash. “What’s with the shiny rock? The one the prince gave ya?”
“It’s his lucky charm.” Luna said, lifting a hoof to the broche clasped on her cloak. “Bluey’s a good kid, not many ponies know that.” She rubbed the red gem fondly.
“All I know is that he was a total jerk to Rarity at the gala.” Rainbow Dash said with a shrug.
“Yes, he gets like that around mares like Rarity.” Luna admitted. “He makes an ass of himself in the hopes that mares like her will leave him alone.”
“So you’re saying he’s not a prissy, stuck-up prince?” Applejack asked.
“Of course he is.” Luna laughed. “This is Blueblood we’re talking about after all.”
-meanwhile, back in Canterlot-
“Hatchoo!” Blueblood sneezed. “I’m sorry, where were we?”
“Just sign here prince.” Brass Bit said.
-Back with the rescue party-
“But he’s not all bad.” Luna said. “He’s a good kid. He actually convinced me to go to Ponyville on Nightmare Night. If it weren’t for him, I’d have just stayed put in my room.” That night had been one of the best she had had since returning from her exile, even with the rocky start.
“So the two of you’re close?” Rainbow Dash asked.
Luna nodded. “Very. Bluey’s a real home body, he’s always around the castle. He too has difficulties relating to other ponies, thus we gravitated to each other.” She said.
“Listen, it’s none of mah business… but is Blueblood sweet on Twilight?” Applejack asked, having been pondering about that all day.
“Yes.” Luna said abruptly. “That’s why he came in, running and screaming today. He demanded that we send an army after Twilight.”
“That would’ve been cool.” Rainbow Dash admitted, though she had no idea about how she should feel about Blueblood fancying her favorite egghead.
“Not you too…” Luna grumbled as she momentarily lifted up from the path and sailed besides Rainbow Dash . “Do I need to raise my voice at you too? Because I can and will do so.”
“Never mind.” Rainbow Dash said quickly, beating her wings just a tad bit harder to propel her cloud along faster than the princess was flying right now.
“Something bothering you princess?” Applejack asked, noting Luna’s expression.
“Yes. The fact that everypony I talk to seems to think it’s a good idea to send out an army!” Luna raised her voice. “It’s preposterous! My nephew even suggest we started building Pylons again!”
“What’s a Pylon?” Applejack asked.
“Unicorn weapon, used about two thousand years ago.” Rainbow Dash said. “It’s like a tower that links together a dozen or so Unicorns and focusses their magic into this massive beam of energy that destroys everything in its path!”
“I didn’t know you were so versed in ancient weaponry.” Luna said, impressed that the Pegasus even knew what such a Unicorn-specific weapon was.
Rainbow Dash just shrugged. “I read the Daring Doo books. In ‘Daring Doo and the Chalice of Vengeance’, Ahuitzotl gets his hands on a Pylon to try and kill Daring Doo. Obviously he fails and gets his butt kicked by Daring Doo, after which she steals his keys and frees the Unicorns inside the weapon.”
“I see…” Luna was a bit shocked at that revelation, though she did not show it. She was surprised that ponies took such matter so lightly in this day and age, as to feature weapons of war in foal’s books like that.
She had seen the tools in action. Back then, they were the greatest weapons ever produced. Now, they were amongst the stuff that littered her occasional nightmares.
“You should read them!” Rainbow Dash said excitingly, oblivious to Luna’s feelings on the matter. “They’re so awesome! Twilight has the whole collection, so just ask her once we get her back.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” Luna said, though she didn’t feel like this series was her cup of tea.
Applejack noticed a certain member of the group hanging back. “Hey Pinkie, you okay?” The farmer asked. “We haven’t heard from you since we left Canterlot?” She was getting a bit worried.
“Why’d you have to mention that?!” Luna cried out. “She was quiet and made some sort of sense for a while!”
“I’m fine.” Pinkie Pie sighed. “I’m just worried.”
“About Twilight and Shining Armor?” Luna inquired. She may dislike the pink pony’s penchant for randomness but she knew her heart was in the right place.
“Sort of.” Pinkie frowned, causing Applejack to gasp. Rainbow Dash took it a step further and actually fell off her cloud in shock. “I’m just worried about… what if Twilight doesn’t want to come home?”
“What do you mean by that?” Rainbow Dash asked, once she had gotten over her shock from seeing Pinkie Pie, of all ponies, frown.
“I mean that now she’s with her real mom and she’s a princess and she’s going to rule her own kingdom...” Pinkie rambled. “And that might mean she’ll miss my next party! And the one after that!”
“Pinkie, calm down.” Applejack laid a hoof on the party pony’s shoulder. “Ah get that you’re upset but there’s no reason to. We’ll find Twilight and sort this whole mess out, okay?”
“Okey-dokey.” Pinkie Pie smiled again, causing Applejack and Rainbow Dash to sigh in relief.
“Pinkie, never do that again.” Rainbow Dash warned, laying a hoof on Pinkie’s other shoulder. “And I mean never. It creeps me out!”
“What is this place?” Twilight asked. The room they were in right now was bathed in a green light. Hexagonal indentations lined the walls, reminding Twilight of the cells in a beehive.
“This is the nursery.” Chrysalis said with glee. “Where all your little baby brothers are waiting to be hatched when the time is right.”
“Hatched?” Twilight cocked an eyebrow in confusion. “Like from an egg? How is that even possible?”
“Easily.” Chrysalis said. “When the Changeling inside matures enough, he will crack open the egg an-”
“That’s not what I meant.” Twilight interrupted her. “I mean that it’s not logical.”
“Not much is logical about Changelings.” Chrysalis admitted. “We look like mammals and act like insects. We have venomous fangs and we lay eggs… We’re like platypuses.”
Twilight’s eye twitched. That didn’t make any sense either. She was beginning to wonder if the queen did this on purpose, knowing of her inquisitive nature.
“Any other questions?” Chrysalis simply adored the look of confusion on her daughter’s face.
“Yes! How does this even work?” Twilight nearly screamed. “It doesn’t make any scientific sense!”
Chrysalis shook her head, preparing to explain the facts of life to her daughter. “Well my dear, when a Changeling queen…
Twilight’s eyes were a milky white in color, not like when she had one of her magic episodes as they did not glow. She just stared at nothing, her eyes being unseeing as she stood there frozen.
Chrysalis tapped her hoof in impatience.
Suddenly the color returned to Twilight’s eyes and she drew in a deep breath. “What happened?” She asked, feeling like something was off but she couldn’t really put her hoof on what it was.
“What happened?” Chrysalis asked. “You altered your own memory, that’s what happened.”
“Why would I do that?” Twilight asked.
“It seems that you found the facts of Changeling life a bit too horrifying.” Chrysalis said with a chuckle.
“Really? That bad?” Twilight asked. Princess Celestia had taught her all about such mind altering spells, though she warned her to only use them when necessary and to tread lightly whilst performing them.
“Oh yes.” Chrysalis said. “You see, when a Changeling queen…
“Stop doing that!” Twilight screamed after reapplying her memory spell. Only this time she left herself a note about it, telling her not to let Chrysalis undo her spell again. “Stop unraveling my spell!”
“You do know that I can put a better charm on you, right?” Chrysalis asked. “Mind magic is a Changeling’s forte.” She said proudly.
“I don’t trust you enough to let you mess with my mind.” Twilight said.
“It’s not like I’d slip up or anything.” Chrysalis scoffed. “I know my way around the mind better than anypony else. But if you’re adamant on doing it yourself, then I-”
‘Crack!’ The sound echoed across the room, drawing both Twilight and Chrysalis’s attention to it.
Chrysalis smiled, though for once she kept her fangs where they belonged, and rubbed her hooves together in glee. “This is just perfect!” She said.
She rushed over to one of the lower cells and beckoned Twilight to come closer.
Twilight did so nervously, hoping that this wouldn’t trigger another relapse. She stared at the egg, which was green in color, and waited with baited breath as the first crack grew larger.
Okay, for real this time. Fun fact: The sole reason Changelings lay eggs is to allow me to make Scootaloo jokes later on. And we have a new member on the Mirror’s Image team. Thanks to uT.TerAbsurdity, my new editor, you no longer need to groan at the obvious mistakes I make.
[Editor’s Note]: HELLO EVERYPONY! uT.TerAbsurdity here and I am now credit to team! All Hoovy references aside, I don’t think I can begin to say how excited I am to be able to help out with this story…because…well…this story is awesome. Yeah, there won’t be much to read down here but be sure to check in once in a while as I may reward your commitment with a laugh…or something. Anywho, that’s it for now. I shall try my very bestest! Tune in next time for the newest episode of… Absurdity’s Chaos Corner! Peace!