I hope I don’t cry. Weddings are always so emotional.
Scootaloo shifted uncomfortably in her new dress, trying not to wrinkle it. She stood just outside in the hall, waiting for the ceremony to begin. “I just hope it doesn’t take too long. A royal wedding is cool and all, but those fancy Canterlot ponies can be so boring.”
Oh, I don’t think we have to worry about being bored.
“Ah know what you mean. But at least there’ll be food after the ceremony.”
Scootaloo jumped and swung turned toward the voice. Applebloom and Sweetie Belle stood behind her, each fitted in a matching white dress with purple trim. “Oh, didn’t see you there. You scared me.”
“Then who were you talking to?”
“Uh... nopony. I was talking to myself.”
Better be a little more careful there, Scoots.
Scootaloo rolled her eyes at the nickname but let it go. None of the crusaders spoke and a nervous silence settled over them as they waited. Any minute, every eye in Canterlot would be on them, if only for a few seconds.
“It’s too bad Twilight can’t be here,” Scootaloo finally said to break the silence.
“Yeah. Did either of you figure out what happened? Mah sister told me it was none of my business,” Applebloom said as she straightened the circle of flowers around her head.
“Nopony would tell me either,” Scootaloo said.
“Rarity wouldn’t tell me, but it must have been bad. She fainted like ten times last night,” Sweetie Belle added.
The sound of birds whistling in the main room interrupted their conversation. “Girls, that’s your cue,” an older pony said, waving them toward the door. Scootaloo followed Sweetie Belle and Applebloom through the door.
Scootaloo froze as eveypony turned to look at them. Hundreds of ponies had shown to watch the royal wedding. All were dressed in their finest clothes and wore expressions of varying excitement.
A long red carpet led up to where Celestia and Shining Armor waited. The room itself was huge, the ceiling a hundred feet above them. The windows were all draped in white and the room was lit by torches along the wall.
“Come on,” Applebloom whispered. They started down the aisle, scattering flowers for Princess Cadence to walk over.
Scootaloo, I think there’s a problem.
Scootaloo continued to the end of the aisle and then off to the side to watch the ceremony.
Of course you can’t answer. But just listen. Be ready to grab your friends and run. Follow my directions, and you’ll be alright.
Scootaloo stood rigid, a forced smile plastered to her face. “Girls?” she whispered. Somepony shushed her and she fell quiet.
“Mares and gentlecolts,” Celestia began. “We are gathered here today to witness the union of Princess Mi Amore Cadenze and Shining Armor.”
“Scootaloo, are you okay?” Applebloom whispered before being shushed as well. The girls fell silent and watched the ceremony. Scootaloo began to relax as minutes passed and nothing happened.
“Princess Cadence and Shining Armor. It is my great pleasure to pronounce you—”
“Stop!” Everypony gasped as a bedraggled Twilight Sparkle charged into the room.
“What is she doing?” Asked Applebloom.
Now Scootaloo. Get your friends to the back of the crowd.
“Come on girls,” Scootaloo said, putting her shoulder into Applebloom and shoving.
“Scootaloo, what are ya doing? I wanna see this,” Applebloom complained, stumbling back.
Scootaloo turned back to the door when everypony gasped again and blinked in confusion. “Two Cadences?”
“What do ya think that’s all about?”
Make your way toward the doors, but stay at the back of the crowd.
“Come on,” Scootaloo said, dropping low and shuffling behind the taller ponies. Applebloom and Sweetie Belle exchanged confused looks and followed.
They stopped as the room was suddenly filled with a sickly green light. The first Princess Cadence was engulfed in green flames. Moments later a tall, sickly looking black pony stood in her place. She stepped forward, greenish blue hair falling in dank locks around her face, insect-like wings buzzing.
When she spoke it was in a strange echo. “Right you are, princess. And as queen of the changelings, it is my job to find food for my subjects.”
Now Scootaloo, go for the doors.
“Come on,” Scootaloo whispered before charging the doors. Everypony was so focused on the changeling queen they didn’t notice the three fillies slip out.
“Oh my gosh, oh my gosh,” Sweetie Belle said as they rushed down the hall. “What was that thing?”
“I don’t know. But I’m sure everything will be alright. Princess Celestia was there after all,” Scootaloo gasped without slowing down.
“But why would she give herself up if she thought the Princess could stop her?” Applebloom asked.
Princess Luna would be asleep right now. Even if the Changeling Queen can beat Celestia, there’s no way she can beat both of them.
“Let’s go find Princess Luna,” Scootaloo said. “She’s probably asleep.” The others nodded their agreement and the three ran for the doors and out into the sunlight. “She’ll be in the main part of the castle. We—” Scootaloo broke off as she ran into Sweetie Belle.
“Sweetie Belle?” Her friend was staring up at the sky with wide, frightened eyes. She looked up too.
The force field had been up since they’d arrived. Nopony would tell them why, but Scootaloo had guessed it was to keep everypony safe during the wedding. It was slowly giving way, long webs of cracks appearing in the barrier. Thousands and thousands of black creatures swarmed outside the protective barrier, slamming into it over and over.
“What... what are they?” she asked.
Changelings. Keep going.
The girls started down the path toward Canterlot Castle. Scootaloo had only been there once on a field trip, but remembered the way. They cut through the sculpture garden and she couldn’t help but glance toward Discord’s statue. He seemed to meet her eyes for a moment, his stone face reflecting her own fear.
Suddenly a deafening crash overwhelmed all her other senses. The shield had shattered into millions of pieces. The shards glittered and fell all around them until no traces of the shield remained. The entire thing took less than half a minute.
“No way the princess slept through that,” Applebloom shouted. “Ah think we should find someplace to hide.”
Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo nodded.
Scootaloo jumped forward, tackling Applebloom and Sweetie Belle out of the way. A changeling landed where they’d been in a crash of green fire. “Run!”
The fillies took down the streets at full speed. After a moment of confusion, the changeling clambered to its feet and lunged after them with an angry hiss.
Scootaloo, there’s an alley coming up on your right. Turn there.
“This way!” Scootaloo shouted, breaking right. A group of changelings crashed down a few dozen yards past the alley’s entrance. “In there!”
The girls turned right and charged down the alley to the street beyond. They turned left at the end of that street and sprinted down a smaller dirt road.
“We need to find a place to hide,” Scootaloo grunted quietly between gasps. “I can’t run much further, and Sweetie Belle’s probably even worse off.”
Just a little more, Discord promised.
“Scootaloo!” Applebloom cried behind her. Before she could react, a changeling charged into her side, knocking her to the ground. It backed up for another charge, horn glowing green. Scootaloo cringed away but Applebloom and Sweetie Belle slammed into it. The three rolled to the ground and struggled to get to their hooves.
They finally separated and the changeling reared up to launch itself at Sweetie Belle. Scootaloo jumped toward it, but it was just too far away. “Sweetie Belle!”
A pie hit it in the face.
The three fillies stood, staring at the shocked changeling as it stumbled backwards, dripping whipped cream and banana pudding.
“Come on!” Scootaloo cried and urged the crusaders down the road again.
You three have to find a place to hide. The queen beat Celestia, and they couldn’t get to the elements.
Scootaloo’s heart dropped like a rock into her stomach, but she pushed herself to run faster.
It looks like... wait... no. No, they couldn’t... Discord burst out in laughter, unable to choke out an ending to his sentence.
A moment later the sky blazed with a white light. The roar of rushing power drowned out the sounds of chaos around them. Scootaloo stumbled to a stop and braced herself against a sudden howling force. A light pink wave of energy washed over her and she felt her friends huddle next to her, heads bent against the force.
Her mane whipped around her face as she staggered back. For a moment she thought the wave of magic would wash her right of the face of the planet.
Then it was over as quickly as it had begun. The streets were blanketed in a shocked silence. Ponies blinked stupidly, looking around for any sign of the changelings. The only sound Scootaloo could here was Discord’s laughter.
The power of love, of all things. Oh, she’ll never live this down.
“It looks like everypony is okay. Rarity and Applejack nearly had heart attacks when they realized their sisters were missing,” Scootaloo said. She sat in bed, staring out the castle window at the full moon.
Oh, I’d bet. I’m just glad nopony was hurt.
“Me too. Especially Sweetie Belle and Applebloom.” She turned over to look at her sleeping friends. “They tackled one of the changelings for me.”
I saw. I’ve said it before, you’re all very good friends. And friends protect each other.
“You’re right.” Minutes stretched on in silence until she finally said, “You protected us too. You told us where to go. You even dropped a pie on one of the changelings.”
Like I said. It’s what friends do for each other.
“You’re right,” she said again. “You’re right. It’s what friends do for each other.” Another minute passed in silence. “I’m going to help you. I’m going to free you.”
Scootaloo, we’ve been over this. There isn’t any reason for you—
“I’m not going to do it for me. I want to for you. It’s what friends do for each other.”
“I don’t care what anypony thinks. They don’t know you like I do. Please, just let me do this.”
Discord sighed. Fine. But if I think the risk is too much, you’ll stop right then and there. Understood?
Scootaloo nodded eagerly.
Alright then. And... well, thank you. Scootaloo smiled and closed her eyes. Tired from the day’s events, she was asleep in no time.
Sleep Scootaloo. Tomorrow, the real fun begins.