The group left Carousel Boutique. Lightning moved to the front of the gathered ponies and started in the direction of the Everfree forest. “Come on I stashed the scout I caught in an old castle I found in here.”
Twilights brows shot up “The castle of the pony sisters?”
Lightning shrugged and continued walking. “I guess. I don’t know the name I just know that it was a good place to put someone I didn’t want to get away.”
Fluttershy began to quiver as she trotted. “S-so we have to g-g-go in that dark, scary forest? F-filled with all those d-dangerous creatures?”
Lightning chuckled “It’s not that bad. Honestly I don’t know why everyone’s so afraid of it.”
Rainbow, who hovered above the group, snorted. “Maybe it’s not strange to a weird bug thing like you but to us ponies that place isn’t normal.”
Lighting smirked. So that’s how it’s gonna be huh? Fine then. Lightning hovered up beside the spectral maned mare with a look of hurt on her face. “I’m not a bug thing!” She turned her nose up “I don’t have six legs.”
Despite the seriousness of what they were out to do Twilight chuckled. “She’s got you there Rainbow.”
Rainbow dash looked confused. “Huh?”
With a sigh Lightning dropped back down to the ground and continued to lead the group. When Lightning had led them a fair ways into the forest Twilight sped up to walk alongside the changeling guide. “So I’m curious what exactly are changelings?”
Lightning rose a brow as she turned her head to Twilight. “Well I can’t tell you much. I was born to be used as a living battering ram basically.”
Twilight thought for a moment before responding. “Anything would be helpfull.”
Lightning nodded and turned her attention back to the path as she began her explanation. “Like I said we’re not bugs. We are insect like in appearance but that’s where it ends. I’m not sure of much else except that we lay eggs.”
Twilight nodded. “But you all have wings as well as a horn. So can you do magic?”
Lightning nodded again. “A bit. Mostly just things that affect ourselves and basic magic. Remember that green fire that surrounded us when we crashed from the air? That was it.”
Twilight threw a questioning glance at the pseudo pegasus. “But the queen used a powerful magic blast against Celestia. That's not exactly basic.”
Lightning chuckled. “We changelings can do most things you ponies can. But we've also got a few things we can use on our own.”
Twilights eyes glinted in curiosity. “What sorts of things?”
Lightning grinned. “Sorry Twilight but a girls gotta have a few secrets. Besides we’re here.”
Twilight turned her attention ahead of her and saw the old bridge she’d crossed two years ago as well as the castle. Still shrouded in the seemingly perpetual fog that swirled around this part of the forest the castle was just as intimidating now as it was on her first trip.
After crossing the bridge Lightning led the group past the main entrance to a smaller door off on the side of the ruined castle. When Lightning opened the door it revealed a set of stairs going down into the lower levels of the castle. Twilight lit her horn as they began descending the stone steps. Guided by the light of the unicorns horn the group made their way into the bowels of the castle.
At the bottom of the spiraling stairway was a long corridor lined with iron bared cells. Making their way roughly half way down the corridor Lightning stopped the others in front of one of the more intact cells.
Inside was a changeling that looked a bit smaller then the ones that attacked Canterlot. He was asleep before Lightning clanged a hoof on one of the cell bars. “Hey wake up.”
The changeling rolled over and groaned something that sounded like “Go away.”
Lighting clanged the bars again. “Oh don’t be so stubborn. Besides you’ve got visitors.”
The caged changeling rose and turned to the bars hearing this. Noticing the other ponies he rose a brow. “I’m going to hazard a guess that I’m about to be questioned right?”
Lightning let her disguise drop as she took a key from a nearby wall hook. “That’s right. Now I’d ask if you want to give the information they need the easy way or the hard way but I think you want to be helpful. So I’ll just unlock this door, you’ll tell them what they want and you go free.”
The brows of the others in the corridor shot up as Lightning said this.
Rainbow threw her forelegs up as she spoke. “What! Why would we let him go? He’s dangerous!”
Lightning scoffed and waved a holed leg as if brushing the pegasis worries off. “Are you kidding? He’s just a scout. A stiff wind could knock them over.”
The male changeling, stepping out of the unlocked cell, nodded. “I hate to agree with a traitor but she’s right. I’m about as dangerous to you as one of your foals. We scouts are however more intelligent then the siege changelings.”
Lightning smirked. “And yet I still caught you so what does that say for how smart you are?”
The changeling grumbled but said nothing. Applejack stepped forward. “Ok ya’ll I think we’re gettin’ off track here.” She faced the scout “All we wanna know is where’s this changeling cell thing and where’s our friend Rarity?”
The scout tilted his head. “Rarity?”
Pinkie spoke up. “Ya know, white unicorn, hates to get dirty, really dramatic.”
The scouts eyes widened. “Oh her! Yeah when we captured her we stuffed her in a cocoon real quick. I swear she wouldn’t stop with the...”
Before he could finish Lightning shot herself forward and pinned the scout to the wall. Holding him slightly off the floor. “You put her in a cocoon?”
The scout trembled as Lightning narrowed her eyes at him. “Y-yes.”
Lightning pushed him more firmly against the wall. “Where?”
“Um in the old mines not far from here. That’s where the cell is. We ran out the diamond dogs and took the place for ourselves.”
Lightning backed up and the scout dropped to the ground. “Get out. And when we get to that cell you better not be there.”
The frightened scout zipped out and up the stares as fast as his wings could carry him. The group of ponies stared at the siege changeling. All of them wondering what caused her to become so serious all of a sudden.
Giving no time for questions Lightning turned to the others. “You all know where these mines are?” After receiving nods of confirmation she rose into the air. “Good. Rainbow, you and Fluttershy will fly there with me. The rest of you get there as fast as you can.” After she spoke Lightning flew towards the stares quickly followed by Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash.
The three grounded ponies were right behind them. After climbing the stares and spotting the retreating forms of the flyers Pinkie spoke up. “What d’ya think got into Lightning all of a sudden?”
Applejack shook her head. “I don’t rightly know Pinkie. She did seem awful mad for some reason. You got any ideas Twi?”
The Lavender unicorn faced the farm pony as they all galloped down the path leading out of the forest. “I can’t be completely sure but I think it has something to do with that scout mentioning how Rarity was put in a cocoon.”
The two earth ponies looked confused. Pinkie was the first to ask what they were both thinking. “But what’s that got to do with anything? The princess was in one and she looked ok.”
Applejack nodded. “She’s right Twi. Come to think of it what’re them cocoons even for?”
Twilight turned her attention to the path as she mulled the question over. As the three exited the forest and turned in the direction of the mines she spoke. “Im not sure what purpose the cocoons serve but from Lightnings reaction it can’t be good.”
The other two nodded and Applejack sped up. “Well then we best not waste any time gettin’ to those mines.” Increasing their speed the three continued toward their destination.
In the air the tow pegasi were wondering why Lightning, who’d been so calm before, was acting the way she was. As far as they could tell she was concerned about something but what that could be neither of them knew.
Fluttershy flew closer to the changeling. “Lightning I was just wondering if maybe you could tell us what’s got you so mad. If you want.”
Lightning breifly glanced at the pink maned pony before again focusing on the mines she could see in the distance. “You don’t know what those cocoons are for do you?”
Rainbow flew to the side of the changeling opposite Fluttershy. “Then how about you tell us what they’re for?”
Lightning gave each pegasus a look before she spoke again. “When someone is put in a cocoon it starts draining them of their positive emotions. It goes to the core of the victim. If they get left in one long enough all that’s left of them is a shell of what they used to be. They become filled with nothing but negative emotions. No being can be filled with only negative emotions and live.”
Rainbows eyes widened. “And Rarity’s been in one for at least a week. Maybe more!” After that she looked confused. “But why do you care so much?”
Lightning sighed. “A, because she’s the sister of my daughters friend and B, she’s my leverage with you guys.”
That statement caused Rainbow to stop and hover mid air. The other two flyers turned to her. Rainbow stared at Lightning with a mix confusion and a bit of anger. “Leverage? That’s what she is to you? Leverage?”
Lightning brought a hoof to her face. “Ok that was my bad. Look I’m new to this whole friendship and love thing. My life’s mostly been centered around staying alive any way I can.”
Rainbow hovered closer, her brows furrowing as her eyes narrowed. “Then what about Scootaloo? What’s she to you?”
Fluttershy was getting worried. It seemed that ever since Lightning was revealed to be a changeling Rainbow had taken it the worst. Sure Fluttershy didn’t trust Lightning fully but she knew that the changeling hadn’t done anything bad so far.
Lightning folded her forelegs at the question. “We’re mutual benefactors in a deal we made.”
Rainbow scoffed. “So you don’t really care about her either. I knew it.”
For some reason what Rainbow said struck something in Lightning. She became angry. “You knew it? You don’t know anything!”
Rainbow saw how she’d gotten under the changelings skin and smirked a bit. “You say she’s your daughter but you don’t even know what that means. Sounds to me like she’s just some food source to you.”
Lightning glared at Rainbow. "I've given her what she needs. I've given her a home and I look after her. What've you done for her?"
Rainbow met Lightnings glare with one of her own. "At least I'm not some unfeeling parasite!"
Lightning seethed and wanted to continue going at the pegasus but remembered what they had to do and turned her back to Rainbow. “You’re wrong about me. I’ll admit I don’t know what it is I feel for Scootaloo or even why I feel it. All I know is I want to protect her.”
Lightning sighed as she turned to face Rainbow. “We can talk about this later or whatever but right now we need to focus on saving your friend.”
Rainbow nodded and before they started for the mines again Lightning whispered something the pegasus almost missed. “Besides how can I love when I’ve only ever stolen the love of others?”
Rainbow eyed Lightning before the changeling began speeding towards the mines again. As Rainbow started after the changeling Fluttershy came alongside the cyan mare. “You know. You should give her a chance Rainbow.”
Rainbow Dash was about to question her friend when the shy mare continued. “I don’t mean trust her right away but just give her a chance. She’s not done anything wrong. Just because she’s a changeling doesn’t mean she’s bad.”
The spectral maned pony said nothing. Simply turning over what her friend said in her mind as the three made their way to the mines.
Once the six arrived at the mines they hid behind a large boulder near the entrance. Lightning smelled the air and nodded. “They’re definitely in there. I can smell them.”
The others gave the changeling an odd look. Pinkie sniffed the air but still looked confused. “I can’t smell anything.”
Lightning pointed to her nose. “We changelings have a higher sense of smell. Remember that mixture I told you only we can smell?”
The ponies nodded and Applejack spoke up. “Well then how’re we gonna get in there without any o’ them noticin’ us?”
Lightning smirked. “I’ll just use one of my amazing changeling skills to get us in.”
With that a flash of green magic engulfed lightnings front hooves. When the change was done her hooves were larger and angled like scoops. “I’ll dig us in.”
After making that statement Lightning began furiously digging at the earth beneath her. In no time she had the beginning of a tunnel going. She called back up to the waiting ponies. “Don’t just stand there I could use whatever help I can get with this.”
The ponies hopped into the hole and started helping the changeling. While Lightning was fast she couldn’t dig and clear the dirt from behind her as it pilled up. That was what the others concerned themselves with as Lightning dug threw the dirt almost as fast as the diamond dogs they’d encountered.
After a solid twenty minutes of digging Lightning broke through to a tunnel. “Hold up a second guys.” The changeling looked up and down the tunnel as well as checking if any were nearby by smell. Once she was satisfied she signaled the others to drop down from the hole.
Rainbow shook herself free of loose dirt and pebbles then turned to Lightning. “So how’re we supposed to find Rarity?”
Lightning tapped her chin in thought. “If she’s in a cocoon then she’ll be in a side storage chamber. Although we might have to fight our way through the main chamber to get there.”
Fluttershy gulped. “Fight our way through? How many changelings are here?”
Lightning sighed. “From the size of Ponyville I’d say there’s at least enough to account for every pony in the town. At the most twice that many.”
Applejack lightly whistled. “Hoo boy. Looks like we’re in for one heck of a rodeo then.”
Twilight shook her head in dismay. “I don’t think we should risk a fight. Any other ideas?”
They were all quiet before Pinkie turned to Lightning. “Hey what if you caught one of us?”
The changeling cocked her head in confusion. “Caught one of you? Wait do you mean we fake them out?”
The pink pony nodded enthusiastically. “Yeah! one of us plays possum and you act like you just caught us and then you look around for where the cocoon thingy is.”
Lightning nodded. “Yeah that could work but what about the rest of you?
Twilight shrugged. “I don’t know. I don’t like the idea of splitting up but that seems like what we’ll have to do.”
Rainbow groaned. “I don’t wanna just sit here. What if something goes wrong and whoever goes with Lightning actually gets caught along with her?”
Applejack sighed. “I agree with RD. If this goes south we all need to be there.”
Fluttershy finally added her two cents to the discussion. “Twilight why don’t you use some magic? Don’t you have any spells that could help us?
Twilight shook her head sadly. “Sorry. Large area offensive spells aren’t something I’ve studied. The most I’ve got is my magic burst but that’s not much.”
As the unicorn said this Lightning connected a few dots in her head. Hmm, maybe. But if it doesn’t work we’ll be in for a big fight. Either way it’s all I’ve got.
Lightning turned to Twilight. “Hey you remember when you undid my disguise?”
The lavender mare nodded and lightning continued. “Well that time, like in Canterlot, I didn’t react right away because when our disguises are undone by force we get disoriented.”
Twilight nodded. “I noticed that in Canterlot but it doesn’t last long. How is that useful when these changelings are most likely not disguised?”
Lightning paced as she explained. “Well maybe if you pour a big chunk of magic into a simple blast all that extra magic could effect the changelings here even though they’re not using their shape shifting. It could be like when magic rebounds on other spells.”
Twilight closed her eyes in thought. “Well according to the work of Clover the Clever and the alchemist Mino the principle sounds the same. The changeling transformation sounds like a biological manifestation and not one that’s simply manipulated magical force. So, like you said, if I give their systems a big enough shock it could give us the time to get past them and locate Rarity.”
Lightning nodded. “Ok then. The rest of you follow behind me while I carry Twilight like I knocked her out. Just stay out of sight.” The changeling turned to Twilight. “You ready?” With a nod the unicorn climbed on Lightnings back and went limp.
Lightning smiled slightly. “Let’s hope this works.” She then started trotting down the tunnel in the direction she figured would lead to the main chamber. The other ponies trailing behind her ready to duck behind something if they met any stray changelings.
After some walking and a few close calls with a passing changeling Lightning heard the chatter from down a tunnel that told her they were coming to the main chamber. She turned her head to the unicorn on her back. “Start charging your magic Twilight. We’re almost there.”
Lightning didn’t get a response but she could see the faint glow in her periphery that meant Twilight was gathering magic in her horn.
When Lightning got to the entrance of the main chamber she was happy to see it was packed full of her kind. That means less of them will be in the other chambers. Perfect. With a smile on her face she walked a little past the chambers entrance.
Lightning turned her head to face the unicorn on her back.“Twilight. Give em a light show.”
Hearing this the lavender mare jumped of lightnings back as her horn grew brighter and brighter. This got the attention of a few of the changelings milling about. One even uttered a “What the?” before Twilight let her magic burst from her horn. The beam of magic hit the center of the room.
When it impacted it formed into a sphere the size of a softball. Lightning rose a brow as Twilight smiled. The sphere stayed where it was for a second before emitting a shrill hissing. One of the changelings went to investigate and as it poked the ball an intense shockwave shot from it along with a flash of light.
When the light faded the changelings in the room were laid out across the floor. All groaning and unconscious at the massive magical bomb.
Lightning held a hoof to her head as she swayed slightly. Even being outside the blast radios she felt the effects of whatever Twilight had done.
Shaking her head Lightning turned to Twilight. “What was that?”
The unicorn giggled. “That was a condensed magical blast. Relatively harmless but it shorts out magic in it’s blast radios. It’s mostly used to disarm runaway spells but since the changelings magic is more biologic then manipulative it shorted them out.”
Lightning Shook her head. “Wow I’m glad you didn’t realize that when I fought you guys in Canterlot. I’d hate to be in the middle of that.”
Twilight chuckled again. “Well either way we need to hurry and find Rarity. Girls come out.” At her call the others, who were hiding around the corner, trotted out.
The unicorn turned to Lightning. “So what are we looking for?”
Lightning trotted into the main chamber, stepping over the knocked out occupants. “Look for a shallow chamber. If you see a long corridor just avoid it. Also a green glow should be coming from it.”
The others nodded and spread out looking down the many tunnels leading from the main chamber. After checking over half the tunnels Fluttershy called to the others and they made their way down the tunnel she pointed to. The green glow coming from a few yards in front of them meant this was definitely the right way.
When they entered the chamber they saw it was lined with cocoons. Ready to be filled by unsuspecting ponies. Besides the cocoons there were a few changelings near the entrance. Lightning shot forward propelled by her wings. Rainbow followed her aiming for one of the other changelings.
Lightning got to her target and latched her holed hooves onto the changelings head. Still flapping her wings she flipped her body over her target coming down on her hind legs behind the changeling and shifted her weight forward. Using her gathered momentum she threw the changeling at the far wall knocking him out on impact.
Rainbow got to her target and simply barreled into him with her front hooves. The impact also threw this changeling into a wall knocking him out. The final changeling was blasted by Twilight and joined the other changelings in unconsciousness.
With the only guards out of commission Lightning turned to the ponies. “Ok let’s not be here for longer then we have to be. Spread out and look for Rarity.”
The others nodded and began checking the rows of cocoons.
Lightning was going down her third row when Pinkie shouted. “Over here guys! I found her!”
Everyone came from their rows and gathered around the pink mare who stood if front of a cocoon where Rarity floated under the murky green surface. Pinkie tried to reach in to grab Rarity but the cocoon was rubbery and just repelled her hooves. “I can’t get in.”
Twilight stepped forward charging her horn when Lightning stepped up beside her. “That wont work. Let me get her out.” Twilight backed off as Lightning took her spot in front of the cocoon.
Lightning stood on her hind legs and charged her hooves with the electric green of her changeling magic. She thrust her hooves forward and started pushing threw the layers of the cocoon. The cocoons were made to be sealed and once the victim was fully drained they were just thrown away.
Usually if you got to them soon enough it could be ripped apart while still fresh. But with how long Rarity had been in this one it had hardened and offered a lot of resistance.
It took some doing but Lightning tugged Rarity free and laid her on the floor. Now out of the confines of the cocoon Lightning got a good look at her. What she saw worried her. “Oh no.”
The unicorns mane and coat were faded and her eyes were closed. She was breathing but barely. Fluttershy knelt down beside Lightning. “What’s wrong? Why isn’t she waking up?”
Twilight lit her horn and enveloped Rarity in it’s glow. “I don’t understand. The princess was fine when we pulled her out. What’s going on? It seems like she's hurt but I can't tell how.”
Lightnings throat felt dry. “They were feeding on her. I knew it. She’s been in here a whole week being fed on by who knows how many changelings.” Lightning lowered her horn to Raritys. She closed her eyes and tried to sense the white unicorns emotions.
Lightnings eyes shot open with worry and she looked to the ponies gathered around her. “She... she’s almost completely drained.”
The others gasped. Rainbow shot forward. “Well don’t just sit there, do something!”
Fluttershy began to cry as Applejack held her. “No she can’t be... This can’t be happening.”
Pinkie was just staring at the unicorn as her main and tail seemingly lost their life and flattened into long straight sheets.
Twilight looked into Lightnings eyes with dread. “Lightning can’t we do something? Anything?””
Lightning looked around franticly and brought a hoof to her head. “Just.... gimme a second.”
Rainbow grabbed her by the shoulders and brought them nose to nose. “We don’t have a second! Our friend is dying and we’re just sitting here!” The pegasus shouted and then clenched her eyes shut while letting go of the changeling. “Please help her. Please.” The rainbow maned mares voice was choked with emotion.
Lightning looked around to all of Raritys friends. “I... I don’t know what to do..” She felt helpless, worthless. At that moment she wished she couldn’t sense emotions because the ponies around her radiated the deepest sadness. She didn’t want to but she forced herself to take in the emotion. To feel the coldness and crushing weight of it.
Feeling how strong the emotion was and knowing the cause of it caused Lightnings mind to work overtime. Ok the cocoons seal and drain positive emotions so we can feed on them. We take in the emotion but can we reverse it?
The changeling ground her teeth together in frustration. She wracked her brain for something, any little thing that could help. Then the answer hit her like that shield spell had. “I got it!”
The grieving ponies looked up from their prone friend to Lightning. Twilight found her voice first. “What are you...”
Lightning interrupted her while gathering the dress maker in her forelegs. “No time to explain, just listen. All of you need to focus your feelings of Rarity at me. Concentrate on how much you love her then direct it at me.”
This time Rainbow tried to question her. “But how’s that gonna...”
Lightning looked sharply at the pegasus and shouted. “Just shut up and do it! Trust me!”
Any questions the others had were thrown out of their minds as they heard the urgency and desperation in Lightnings voice. They didn’t understand what was going on or how it would help but they would trust the changeling. For Raritys sake.
Each of the fashionistas friends closed their eyes and thought of how they all loved Rarity.
Twilight focused on how she and Rarity would sit in her living room at the library and laugh at some of the trashy romance novels they would read. The lavender unicorn smiled as she could hear her friends voice in her head. Making fun of the ridiculous things the characters would say to each other.
Pinkie thought of how Rarity always offered to help her with work even if she had a big dress order. The unicorn would just wave a hoof and say “Nonsense darling. I always have time to help a friend.” Pinkie smiled.
Fluttershy remembered all of the times she and Rarity had gone to the spa. She loved spending time with her friends but spa day was special. She and Rarity would relax and vent all the weeks troubles by talking to each other. Or when they would get together for tea just enjoying a sunny afternoon together.
Applejack thought of how if she needed help at the farm and her other friends were busy Rarity always helped her. AJ knew the fussy unicorn hatted dirt and “uncouth” things and she deeply respected, even admired the unicorn for putting aside her dislike of these things to help her. Applejack chuckled as she remembered how they would bicker but always with that undertone of friendliness.
Rainbow thought of how whenever she get flack about her tomboyishness from others Rarity would always come around and say “It’s just because they’re jealous of you Rainbow. Pay them no mind.” She didn’t have much in common with the unicorn but she knew she loved her like all her friends. She didn’t want to lose any of them.
The five ponies focused on their love for their friend. They let it consume and fill them. Lightning felt this and began drawing it into herself. Gently connecting to the five around her and gathering their love.
Lightning had never felt love so powerful! The only thing she could compare it to was the shield that blasted her from Canterlot. She was tempted to take it for herself. Her instincts were whispering to her. “Just take it. Take it’s power and use it for yourself.”
No! I can’t. I won’t. I won’t make them feel that cold crushing sadness. If I can give them the source of this love I’ll do it! I’ll save Rarity!
With that thought Lightning focused the love she was taking in and forced it out and into the unicorn held tightly in her forelegs. Please work. Whatever power governs the universe please let this work!
As she syphoned the directed love into Rarity Lightning opened her eyes and looked at the unicorn.
She wasn’t moving. No... I failed. The one time I try to give back and I fail!
“I’m sorry everyone I...” Lightning was unable to finish her sentence and the unicorn in her grasp coughed and fluttered her eyes open.
“Oh my what a strange dream.” The alabaster unicorn looked around and saw all her friends. “Why hello girls. Where are we? The last thing I remember is going out to find more gems.”
The five ponies said nothing and just lunged forward embracing their friend and Lightning in a crushing hug.
Rarity returned the affectionate gesture but was still confused. “What’s going on here? Did I miss something?”
Twilight lifter her head. She had rivers of tears going down her beaming face. “It’s a long story Rarity. We’ll tell you when we get home.”
The hug was disengaged and the unicorn noticed a pair of Rose colored hooves around her waist. She turned her head and came face to face with a mare with ice blue eyes and a purple mane. “Um excuse me but who are you?”
Lightning let go of the unicorn and stood up. “Oh I’m Lightning. I um..”
Rainbow came beside her and threw a foreleg over Lightnings shoulders. “She’s a new friend of ours. She helped us find you.” The cyan mare said with a grin.
Rarity nodded with a smile. “A pleasure but let us get out of this ghastly cave and back home for proper introductions shall we?”
Lightning nodded with a smile. “Sure thing, follow me.”
The group went through the room of changelings that were thankfully still out cold and continued to the hole Lightning dug. After getting back above ground they headed in the direction of Raritys home.
Once there Rarity again asked what had happened. Twilight began with the letter she had gotten from the princess. They went through all the details except one. Lightning.
Rarity turned to the rose colored pegasus. “So who exactly are you darling and what did you do in all this?”
Lightning sighed. “I’ll tell you the truth so just brace yourself.” Not giving the white unicorn a chance to say anything she dropped her disguise. Rarity gasped. “You’re... a changeling? I... I don’t understand.”
Lightning went into her part of the story. How she was Scootaloos mother. How she helped Raritys friends and how she saved the unicorn. By the end of the story Rarity was speechless. “I don’t know what to say. You saved me even though you don’t know me. And you say you don’t know about friendship but you didn’t want my friends to loose me. I’m grateful of course but... why?”
Lightning thought hard about how to respond and decided to go with what she felt in the cave. “I don’t understand love or friendship much but I could feel it from your friends. When they thought you would die I could feel their emotions. I took in that emotion and I didn’t like it. I’d only ever taken positive emotions. So when I felt what this sadness was like I only wanted to fix it.”
Twilight put a hoof on Lightnings shoulder. “And you did. But how did you do it?”
Lightning chuckled. “Well I tried to think of a way to give her positive emotions. To replenish her soul I guess. You see when we drain someone by force it takes away a piece of them. Then I remembered that to feed our young who can’t go out of the hive we funnel emotions to them. I wasn’t sure it wold work but I had to try.”
Rarity stepped forward and put her forelegs around Lightnings neck. “Then allow me to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you Lightning.”
Lightning smiled as the gratitude flowed from the unicorn and into her. She wasn’t even trying to absorb it. It just happened. And it felt great. Releasing the embrace the changeling chuckled. “Wow. If this is what friendship is then sign me up.”
The whole group had a good laugh at that. Surprisingly it was Pinkie who broke in with a serious question. “Hey guys not to ruin the moment but what happens when all those meanie changelings wake up from their nap? And what about the princess? We’ve gotta tell her what we know.”
Twilight gasped. “You’re right Pinkie! I’ll go get Spike to send a letter in a minute.” The lavender unicorn turned to Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy. “You two fly up and keep a look out for any changelings.”
The pegasi saluted and took off out the boutique door while Twilight turned to Applejack and Rarity. “I need the both of you to go around town and warn everyone to stay inside.” Applejack nodded and raced out the door followed by Rarity. Finally Twilight faced Lightning. “I want you to go home and wait there until one of us calls you ok?”
The changeling nodded as her disguise went back in place with a green flash. Before she got to the door the unicorn called to her again. “Do you think the changelings will attack as retaliation?”
Lightning nodded. “Now that their covers blown they’ll go right for a hostile take over.”
Twilight nodded as she came up alongside the changeling. “Ok I’ll need you to help with defending Ponyville. After everything dies down we’ll see what Celestia wants to do about the other cells. Alright?”
Lightning smirked. “As long as I don’t get thrown in a dungeon for being a changeling I’m good.”
Twilight laughed. “We’ll see. Who knows you might get a medal for helping us.”
Lightning flapped her wings and rose into the air. “I’ll be at home. Call when you need me.” And with that the changeling sped of towards home.
In a series of caves that stretched deep into the western part of Equestria a tired siege changeling bowed in front of a throne made from onyx. “My queen there is troubling news! I was discovered by a fellow changeling. She has betrayed us to the enemy!”
The queen looked down her nose at her subordinate. Her features calm as she brought her front hooves up to from a a triangle in front of the muzzle. She said nothing for a moment before addressing her subject. Her voice cool and even.
“I won’t loose Equestria twice. Send two more cells to Ponyville and make sure the princesses don’t find out. This needs to be dealt with swiftly. As for the traitor...”
Chrysalis rose to her full hight and her eyes glowed with retribution as cold as her demeanor. “Bring her to me. I’ll deal with her personally.”
The changeling bowed again before darting away to complete his orders. Once he was gone Chrysalis sat again and propped her head up with a hoof on the arm of her throne. An evil smile full of malice and dark pleasure stretched across her face.
She chuckled. “I’ll make it slow for this traitor. None cross me, least of all my own kin. You want to play the changed knight on the board? Fine but know that you face a queen, traitor." Another chuckle "This will be fun.”