The three charged forward. The pegasus, earth pony and changeling. The attacking force ahead of them was only a few feet away but in those moments before they would collide it felt like miles. Everything was slowed to a crawl. That’s how it seemed to Lightning.
The hoof beats of the farm pony beside her mixed with those of the changelings charging toward them on the ground. She could hear the solid, wet thumps they made on the muddy earth.
The wing beats of the swarm droned and filled her ears as much as the sound of hooves meeting earth.
And the rain that soaked the world around them was above it all. It came down in heavy, cold drops. Each drop resounding alongside the cannon fire that boomed in the background.
The sounds came together in a deafening cacophony making these few moments before the opposing sides clashed feel like an eternity. Then all at once time exploded forward in the violent crescendo of opposing forces.
Rainbow shot past Lightning. The pegasus seemed to cut a swath through the approaching changelings. Mowing them down like she was clearing clouds from the sky. The prismatic trail the pegasus left looped around, over and under as she flew ever faster. Beating aside changeling after changeling.
Lightning wasn’t far behind. The changeling charged into her kin with the same vigor she’d always had in a fight. Spinning in the air Lightning aimed her holed hooves to strike firmly on the bodies of her fellow changelings.
Applejack was doing well for herself with the advancing ground changelings. As she neared the first few the farm pony planted her forelegs firmly while spinning to bring her hind legs up. With all the force the farmer used in her fields she began bucking changeling after changeling that dared try to pass her.
As the three worked to keep the the swarm at bay the cannons set up by Pinkie continued to fire. The massive confetti and streamer ordinance pummeled anything that got in it’s way. It helped but the three front line defenders had to be carful not to get taken out by friendly fire.
Rainbow slowed herself as she pulled up behind Lightning. The cyan mare put herself back to back with her changeling friend. “This is insane! It’s like no matter how many I bowl over more just pop up.”
Lightning grinned while pushing back a changeling and giving it a swift kick in the stomach. “Don’t tell me you’re turning chicken on me now Rainbow.”
The pegasus turned to avoid a thrust from a changelings blade arm. “Ha! You kidding, this is a blast!”
Lightning just continued grinning as they separated and flew lower to give Applejack a helping hoof.
The farm pony had realized quickly that simple bucking wasn’t gonna cut it so she started alternating her front and back legs. She’d buck a target and use the momentum to flip herself up and deliver a solid punch to another before bucking again. It was like a cartwheel of pain for the unfortunate changelings that got to close.
When the three regrouped on the ground Lightning spoke. “We need to get them to back up. We’re almost fighting in the town.” She dropped her stance, avoiding a deadly slash but getting a shallow cut in exchange.
Applejack nodded while bucking a changeling. “And I got an idea on how to do that.”
Rainbow flipped over the two batting away a pair of changelings coming from the air. “Well don’t keep us waiting AJ.”
The three covered each other as the blond pony spoke. “Well I figure Lightning can take a lot of punishment so Rainbow I want you to go as fast as you can and throw her the the swarm.”
Lightning flipped a changeling on his back and stomped his stomach, knocking him out. “When did I become a projectile?”
Applejack turned to the changeling. “You gat a better idea lemme hear it.”
Lightning sighed and turned to the pegasus. “Get ready Rainbow. It looks like we’re gonna do an air strike.”
The spectral maned pony kicked away a changeling before grabbing lightning and rapidly gained altitude. When she rose above the swarm she rolled her body to point down and rocketed toward the swarm.
Dash propelled herself downward faster and faster, her vision becoming tunneled. When she was close enough she angled her wings to flip herself head over heel and launched Lightning.
When she was released Lightning tucked in her legs and wings. She pointed herself straight down and manifested green fire around herself as she dropped. Lightning hit the swarm and the reaction was instant.
As she descended the attackers where blown aside and collided with others. The effect spread out knocking more changelings down like dominos.
When she hit the ground Lightning felt like she’d been hit by a train. She shakily stood up from the crater she created and shook her head. So that’s what a meteor feels like.
Lightning turned her head to admire the damage she and Rainbow had done. it wasn’t much but it had forced the swarm back a bit.
The changeling nodded to herself and flew in the direction of town to meet up with Applejack and Rainbow.
When she landed Rainbow smirked. “I give that a nine out of ten.”
Lightning chuckled. “What? I stuck that landing.”
Applejack shook her head, amused. “More like destroyed it.”
Lightning shrugged. “Either way it bought us some breathing room.”
The farmer nodded. “How you two holdin’ up?”
Rainbow shook herself. “I’m soaked by the rain and have a few scrapes but I’m good.”
Lightning nodded. “I’m the same. Kinda shaky from that dive I just took but it’ll pass.
Applejack sighed. “Same here. A few scrapes but nothin’ to serious yet.”
The three turned to face the swarm again and noticed that all the changelings that hadn’t been knocked out or caught in the tangles of confetti and streamers were rising into the air.
Rainbow Dash rose a brow. “Are they retreating?”
Lightning just stared as the swarm hovered high above them. Then all at once the swarm lit up in a brilliant flash of green fire.
Lightnings eyes widened and she turned to her friends. “Run! They’re gonna dive!”
As the three turned to Ponyville and began to sprint they heard the impact of their attackers all around them. They had to bob and weave or they would be crushed by a bombing changeling. Even the cannon fire couldn’t slow the descent of the living projectiles.
As the ponies and changeling continued to run through town Lightning began giving instructions. “AJ tell Pinkie and Fluttershy that the arial fire won’t do anything now. They need to turn them off and go hoof to hoof.”
The orange mare nodded and turned to go warn the two artillery ponies.
Lightning turned to the cyan mare running beside her. “Rainbow check the town to see if any of the bombers got into the houses. We don’t need any innocents getting hurt.”
The pegasus nodded and leapt into the air, raising above the incoming changelings to give look for any holes in the roofs of houses.
After the other two had gone off Lightning picked up her pace and headed for the town square. I hope Twilight’s nearly done. Now that the swarm’s in town this just got a lot more difficult.
In the town square Twilight was concentrating on the complex spell she’d found in one of her books. Rarity was beside her not because she needed the white unicorn to concentrate in tandem with her but to use Rarity as a spell focus.
The lavender unicorn inhaled deeply as she focused her magic. Ok I’ve built up enough power now comes the tricky part.
With that thought Twilight sent her power to Raritys horn and began to cast the spell. Lines of light snaked from the dress makers horn and surrounded the pair. Weaving and twisting into complex shapes and lines as it formed a circle around them.
Once it was done the lines burned themselves into the ground. The still glowing lines of magic cast a slight blue glow in the town square. Twilight smiled slightly as she felt the lines settle into the proper shape. Just a little more time.
Applejack had gotten to Fluttershy and Pinkie as fast as she could. After the cannon operators heard the situation they flipped a switch on their remotes that shut down the cannons.
Once the cannons were taken care of Applejack turned to her friends. “Fluttersy I think Lightning was headed for Twi and Rarity so you go help her out.” The pegasus nodded and ran towards the town square.
The apple farmer then turned her attention to the pink mare. “Pinkie you’re with me. We gotta find Rainbow and help deal with the changelings in town.”
Pinkie saluted and began galloping alongside Applejack as they searched for their spectral maned friend.
Rainbow was flying around Ponyville trying to see if any of the diving changelings had entered any homes and if they were attacking the ponies hold up inside.
A few of the houses and businesses were damaged and she’d cleared out the changelings but she was also having to deal with the ones that were outside. There’d been a few close calls with the blades of a few changelings and Rainbow was sure her mane had gotten shorter after she’d dodged a particularly close swing to her head.
The cyan pegasus grunted as she beat back another changeling from a house. They just keep coming. I don’t know how much more I can do alone. Flying out the hole in the homes roof she looked around for any homes she may have missed.
She heard a faint flapping behind her and turned. A changeling had come up behind her and was in the middle of swinging a bladed foreleg toward her. Before the blow landed the attacker was shot down by a wad of confetti. Rainbow looked to the ground and saw Pinkie behind her personal party cannon.
The cotton candy colored mare waved to the pegasus. “I got your back Dashie!”
Rainbow flew down and landed beside the party pony. As she did Applejack came around a corner. “Hey guys. How’d you find me?”
The blond mare pointed to her pink friend. “Pinkie sense.”
Rainbow nodded. “Oh yeah. Anyway thanks for the help.”
Taking a look around the cyan pegasus noticed her shy friend wasn’t here. “What happened to Fluttershy?”
Pinkie pointed to the center of town. “AJ sent her to go help Lightning while we take care of the changelings around here."
Applejack sighed. “I hope this ends soon. I’m startin’ to feel all these cuts add up.”
It was true that while none of them had been seriously injured they still took some damage. There were just to many changelings to dodge every hit thrown at them.
Pinkie turned her cannon and shot another blast at a group of changelings. “Just hold on girls. I think Twilight should be about ready. And just think, when this is over I can throw a party for us surviving.” Pinkie grinned.
The other two laughed and Applejack adjusted her hat. “Let’s get back to it then.”
Lightning had made it to where Twilight and Rarity were putting together the spell. She saw the lines and shapes circling the two where they sat and nodded. Ok so that parts done. It shouldn’t take her to long before its ready. At least I hope so.
The changeling turned so her back was to the unicorns. The attacking changelings were mostly held up by the cannons and whoever was helping Rainbow but a good number of them were making there way towards her and the two spell casters.
Lightning shook her head to clear the water from her face and rose off the ground. I gotta hold this line. No matter what I can’t get to far from these two.
As she thought this the first of the attackers to make it this far lunged forward. Bladed forelegs held high and poised to cut Lightning to pieces. The traitor changeling snapped her forelegs up and changed them to blades to intercept the blows coming at her.
When she caught the blades on the edges of her own she twisted her body and used the momentum of her attackers to off balance them before striking them in the temple with the flat of her bladed legs.
As the first attackers fell to the ground the others spread out. Seeing that she was quickly being surrounded Lightning flew closer to Twilight and Rarity to better defend them.
More of her kin rushed her. Changing her forelegs to heavy armored clubs Lightning spun and knocked aside her fellow changelings. Her head constantly moved, trying to track all the attacks aimed at her or the unicorns casting the spell.
Even with her skill she was just one against many and she was beginning to get nicked by the blades of her opponents. As five rushed her from all sides she swun one foreleg back to catch the one behind and one forward to beat aside the two from the front.
Lightning knew the two at her sides would get her before she could move and prepared for the blows to come.
The changeling braced herself for the hits but instead of the pain of being cut into she was tackled out of the path of the blades aimed at her torso. The two attackers plowed into each other as Lightning looked to her savior.
Fluttershy sighed as she looked at the changeling in her grasp before letting go. “I was worried I wouldn’t make it in time. Sorry I kept you waiting.”
Lightning chuckled as she resumed her place near the unicorns. “No problem. Help me with these guys and we’ll call it even.”
The yellow pegasus swept her long mane out of her eyes and came to the other side of Twilight and Rarity. “Sure thing.”
The changelings were taken off guard for a moment when the pegasus joined in the fray but attacked as soon as they realized she was another opponent.
When Fluttershy was targeted she would dodge attacks before flipping one changeling into another or redirect the attacker to collide with one of their allies.
Lightning noticed the passive but effective style and grinned. She’s pretty good for such a gentle little thing.
Returning her focus to the fight Lightning altered her movements to mesh with the pegasus. It worked but neither one of the defending parties could avoid all the strikes. They both knew that if this went on for much longer they’d be done for.
Twilight could hear the conflict going on as she wove the spell properly. She could even feel when Lightning or Fluttershy would hover past her, defending her. Hold on you two. I’m almost....
Twilights eyes snapped open. “Done!”
Lightning and Fluttershy were startled at the sudden outburst by the lavender unicorn but that quickly turned to amazement at what happened next.
From the glowing magic circle on the ground, dozens of ethereal tendrils sprung outward. The tendrils shot outward, snaring the attacking changelings and binding them together. In a matter of seconds the fighting stopped as the tendrils lifted the changelings in the air. With a flash the tendrils transformed into a transparent sphere. Holding the changelings in it’s magical confines.
Lightning whistled in amazement. “Wow. No wonder you’re the element of magic Twi.”
Twilight sighed and rubbed her forehead. “Yes but it’s taxing to do this stuff. I can keep this in place but if I leave the circle it’ll collapse the spell.”
Rarity stood and shook her head. “Oh my that was tiering. I’m glad I don’t have to stay in this rain though.” Rarity trotted to a nearby awning. “Oh just look at my mane it’s ruined!”
Fluttershy chuckled as she went to help her fussy friend. Shaking her head with a smile Lightning walked toward
Twilight. “Well we survived but I’m gonna be sore for a while.”
Twilight smiled. “I’m just satisfied that this whole thing is..” The unicorns eyes widened and her smile dropped. “Lightning behind you!”
Lightning turned and jumped back as a bladed foreleg slipped past her neck, leaving a light cut. The changeling stood on her hind legs, changing one of her legs into a blade while she lifted the other to feel her neck. “Whoa. That gives new meaning to a close shave.”
She shifted her eyes to her attacker. “What the..? Shiv?”
Lightnings old commander stood in front of her. Both forelegs bladed and her eyes glaring.
Twilight was unable to move and Lightning motioned the others to stay where they were. Lightning then turned her attention to her former commander. “How’d you not get put in the bubble?”
Shiv kept her eyes locked on Lightning. “I saw the spell so I flew straight up. I almost got snagged but I guess the spell only has so much range. Besides I still need to kill you.”
Lightning chuckled but before she respond her other friends showed up. The changeling could tell they were about to step in but she held up a hoof. “I got this guys.” She turned back to her commander. “Shiv it’s over. You lost.”
The changeling commander snarled, baring her fangs. “I didn’t lose! Not yet and I can’t return to the hive a failure.”
Lightning lowered her bladed leg and changed both forelegs into clawed arms. “So no matter what you won’t back down?”
Shiv kept her aggressive stance. The only answer she gave was a heated glare.
Lightning sighed as she crouched on her hind legs. “Fine. You want a fight I’ll give you one.”
As Lightning finished speaking the two changelings circled each other. The six ponies watched as the two grew slightly closer, inching forward, waiting for the perfect time to strike.
Lightning stopped all motion when she was a foot or so from Shiv. The rain was still going and water slid down her face in rivulets. She saw a drop hit Shivs ear that made it twitch and in that second Lightning lashed out with a clawed hand.
Shiv sidestepped and swung a bladed leg at Lightnings head. The traitor changeling used her hardened claws to bat away the blade and stepped into her opponent aiming a punch at her commanders gut.
Shiv gasped slightly and kneed Lightning making her back off. Lightning knew that a slow methodical fight wouldn’t do any good against her old commander so she improvised.
Lightning jumped to the side and circled around behind Shiv. Shiv turned and slashed at Lightnings shoulder. Lightning took the hit but didn't let it stop her from fighting back. The cut hurt but Lightning used the close quarters to sweep the legs out from under Shiv. As the commander fell Lightning stood and quickly stomped the center of her opponents chest, driving the air from the downed commander.
Gasping for breath Shiv couldn’t hold the transformation on her forelegs and they shifted back into holed hooves. While Shiv was occupied with trying to fill her lungs with air Lightning kicked the commander in her temple, knocking her out.
With Shiv out of the way for now Lightning sighed and changed her legs back to normal. “I hope that’s the last of the surprises for today.”
Rainbow shot forward and slapped the changeling on the back. “Nice one Lightning! Oh man was that cool!”
Applejack chuckled. “I gotta say that sure was somethin’.”
Pinkie bounced forward. “Oh yeah! You went all karate on her!”
The pink mare then went into exaggerated fight moves making Lightning chuckle.
“I guess I was pretty good but I am so tired right now.” To punctuate this the changeling sat heavily and heaved another sigh while holding a hoof to her injured shoulder.
Fluttershy trotted to Lightning to examine the wound. "It's not too bad but sit here while I look for something to wrap it with."
Twilight spoke up as Fluttershy went to find a binding. “Well I think we’ve got this under control. Once we round up any stray changelings all we need to do is contact the princess and have her send some guard unicorns to take over this containment spell.”
Fluttershy returned to Lightning carrying a length of cloth in her mouth and began to dress the changelings injury.
When Fluttershy was finished Lightning rose to her hooves. “I’ll be back in a second. I want to check on Scootaloo.”
With a nod from Twilight the changeling began trotting in the direction of her home.
After a few minutes Lightning was outside her home. Taking the spare key from above the door frame she entered her home. As she closed the door and headed for the stairs she thought about her daughter. She’s probably asleep in her room.
Lightning came to the second floor and headed for the fillies room. She smiled as she opened the door. “Hey Scoots I’m...”
Lightnings smile dropped as she opened the door. Scootaloos room was torn apart and the window was broken. Lightning stood there in her daughters doorway, not believing what had obviously happened.
Then the changeling exploded into motion. Leaping down the stairs and nearly knocking her door of it’s hinges as she burst through it. Her holed hooves thundered on the street as she raced back to town square.
When she arrived Lightning saw Rainbow dash lifting a still unconscious Shiv and moving her towards the magic bubble holding the other changelings.
Lightning jumped and grabbed her old commander. The changelings hit the ground and Lightning shoved the commander against a building.
The force Lightning used jarred Shiv awake. Seeing the commanders eyes open Lightning spoke in a low threatening voice. “Where’s the hive Shiv?”
Shiv shook her head lightly. “What?”
Lightning bared her fangs. “Where’s the hive!? I know it was moved now tell me where it is!”
Shiv smiled. “What’s wrong traitor? Something gone missing?”
Lightning changed one of her forelegs into a blade as she held the commander with the other. “Tell me.”
Shiv just kept smiling.
Lightning moved her bladed leg to stab the changeling commander when someone grabbed her shoulder.
The enraged changeling looked over her shoulder to see Fluttershy was the one stopping her. “Let me go.”
Fluttershy shook her head. “No Lightning. Tell me what happened.”
Lightning turned her head back to Shiv and the yellow pegasus spoke. “Don’t look at her, look at me.”
Lightning turned her eyes back to the pink maned mare. “They took Scootaloo. I need to find her.”
Fluttershy gasped and turned her head to Rainbow. “Take Shiv from her.”
Rainbow came and took hold of Shiv. Lightning let the changeling commander slip from her grasp.
The yellow pegasus turned Lightning around to face her.“Don’t worry we’ll find her but you have to do it our way alright?”
Lightning slumped to the ground. “Ok, I’ll do it your way.”
The pegasus smiled and went to discuss what to do with the others while Lightning leaned agains the building she’d pushed Shiv against. I’ll do it their way. But when I find out where that hive is I’ll tear it apart.