• Published 16th Jun 2020
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The Power of Two - Locomotion

A young changeling runs away from home, only to be attacked by timberwolves in the Everfree Forest. Fortunately, Locomotion is on hoof to save her - but little do they know that she has a spy on her tail...

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Chapter 29: The Point of No Return

Neither Locomotion nor Thorax had time to think. With Hornette barely a fraction of a second from eternity, they only just had time to leap in front of her and cast a protective forcefield before Chrysalis fired a deadly burst of magic from her horn. Miraculously, the powerful death ray rebounded straight off their shield and exploded harmlessly against the back wall, just missing Chrysalis.

The guards, horrified by the actions of their self-proclaimed “queen”, charged straight towards the berserk changeling, trying to restrain her before she tried to attack again; but Chrysalis lashed out with a forcefield of her own and sent them flying in all directions. “YOU SPINELESS WORMS!!!” she screamed at the top of her voice. “THINKING YOU CAN DEFEAT ME, THE MOST POWERFUL CHANGELING ALIVE?!”

“Don't be a fool, Chrysalis!!” bellowed Twilight. “We've already defeated you – even your own followers have turned against you now! Give yourself up before we take you down by force!”


Thorax gritted his teeth with ever-increasing fury. That no-good Chrysalis had crossed him once too often by trying to kill Hornette in front of him, and he wasn't about to take it lying down. “You evil black widow!” he hissed fiercely. “Alright then – if you won't surrender, then it's time I did what I should have done – SIXTEEN YEARS AGO!!!!” With a blinding flash of magic, five times his own size, he morphed himself into a full-grown dragon, and lunged straight towards the mad queen.

Crazed with willpower, Chrysalis took on a similar form and began to fight back. The seven ponies, along with Hornette and all the other changelings in the room, could only watch on in fear as the two royals clawed and swiped at each other, their eyes blazing with anger and hatred for one another, and fire billowing from their mouths. It seemed to go on for eternity, and with no way of telling who would come out on top. Even Locomotion, for all the fury he felt for Chrysalis himself, was silently grateful not to have to take part in such a gruesome showdown. He was in enough pain as it was from being seized up with terror, his mind and body locked in a battle of their own; one trying to hold him back, while the other was trying to rush forward and prise that maniac away from Thorax.

He soon found himself wishing that someone would, for Thorax seemed to be taking even more damage than Chrysalis. With an almighty lash of her tail, she sent him crashing down to the floor, knocking the wind out of his lungs and causing him to morph back into his natural form. Wincing in agony and gasping for breath, he struggled to stand up again, his legs trembling weakly.

Chrysalis cackled with malevolent triumph as she too transformed back to normal. “HA HA!!” she bellowed. “NOW I'LL SHOW YOU, THORAX! DEATH TO ALL THOSE WHO OPPOSE ME!!” Her horn began to glow again, ready to fire another death ray at her helpless opponent.

NO!!!” screamed Hornette frantically. In desperation, she magically grabbed the nearest thing she could find and hurled it towards Chrysalis, no longer caring if she hurt her – she had to save Thorax somehow. The stone urn flew straight towards Chrysalis' face, leaving her no time to duck before it collided with her horn, shattering it on impact and causing her magic to explode all around the room. The ensuing shock wave was so powerful that it reverberated throughout the hive.

Chrysalis grimaced at her through the pain in what was left of her horn. “You little minx!” she growled. “I'll make you suffer for...” but before she could finish, a huge chunk of rock fell from the ceiling and landed with a thud in front of her.

Locomotion flinched in alarm. “What the flabberwocky was that?!” he yelped.

Applejack looked up, and was even more horrified by what she saw. “The roof!” she cried. “The whole hive's breakin' up! We gotta get outta here, fast!!”

“We're not going anywhere, pony!” spat Chrysalis. “I'll hold up the whole world if I have to – and when I...” but she never finished. As she spoke, she tried to light up her horn and hold the ceiling together with her magic – but was shocked to find that it wouldn't respond. It just fizzled like a faulty electrical cable. She glared furiously at Hornette, her eyes popping. “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!!”

Thorax, still wondering why he wasn't dead yet, looked up at the ceiling. Sure enough, he could see several webs of cracks forming in the hive's structure as it began to crumble apart. Without a moment's hesitation, he heaved himself onto his hooves and began to bark orders; “Guards! Guards! Evacuate the hive! She's gonna collapse any moment!”

“Oh no you don't!” Chrysalis, somehow failing to realise the gravity of the situation, tried to reassert her authority as the guards sprang back into action. “Stay where you are in the name of the queen!”

“No way!” objected one of the guards anxiously. “I'm not staying here even in the name of my own mother!”



But Chrysalis was too far gone to listen. She remained standing on her throne, screaming and hollering in vain for the guards to obey her commands, even after the last of them had abandoned her to her fate. More rubble began to rain down from the ceiling, much of it crashing down on the statues of her likeness and crumbling them to shards.

Hornette, Thorax and Locomotion were the last to leave the throne room – but just as Locomotion had crossed the threshold, he suddenly heard Chrysalis scream again in pain and anguish. Looking back, he could see that the throne and its pedestal had been smashed, and Chrysalis herself was pinned down under a particularly large chunk of rock, unable to move. His first thought was to just run like he had never run before; but then he was inexplicably gripped by a feeling of injustice as he flashed back to his first meeting with Hornette – how battered, weakened and helpless she had been, and how it made his heart bleed seeing her flinch away from him. Now Chrysalis was in a similar situation, and he was about to abandon her in cold blood...but no! He couldn't do that. That insane potentate may have been his and Hornette's greatest enemy, but there was no way he was going to stoop to her level and leave her for dead. He just had to save her!

Without another moment's thought, he belted straight back towards her. “Chrysalis!” he shouted bravely. “Hang on!” and he began to scramble up the pile of debris that remained of the throne. He had barely climbed a few hooves, however, when he felt something grab his hind leg. “Hey, what the...?! Let go of me!!”

Chrysalis glowered at him, her right hoof gripping his leg like a vice, her teeth bared with unbridled resentment as she tried to drag him back down. “You meddlesome little brat!!” she snarled. “I'll tear you to pieces for this!”

“GET A GRIP OF YOURSELF, CHRYSALIS!!” yelled Locomotion, kicking her squarely in the face and making her lose grip. “You're in danger! That rubble could crush you to death! Now shut up and let me help you!!” With a concerted effort, he heaved his way up to the top of the heap and began using his forcefield spell to shield himself and Chrysalis against the falling rubble. The deluge seemed to go on for ages on end, hurling loose rock onto them like an avalanche, and the red unicorn soon found himself straining to keep his forcefield together. Chrysalis, still ignorant of the danger, continued to curse and swear at him in a blind rage, but Locomotion paid her little heed. One little lapse of concentration could spell disaster for them both.

But already, it seemed disaster was all but inevitable. The forcefield spell was taking its toll on Locomotion, and he soon began to feel a dizzy spinning sensation, as if a whirlpool had formed inside his head. His magic faltered, and his legs began to wobble with exertion. He shook his head violently; “No!!” he half-groaned, half-shouted, trying to will himself awake. “Can't...give in...must...save...queen...!”

Gingerly, he turned his head up towards the ceiling. His vision was beginning to blur as well, but he could just make out a gaping hole above, and the night sky peeking through it. If he could only keep the spell up a little longer...

“Why do you fight it, Locomotion? There's nothing more you can do.” Was this for real? Or was this just a side effect of his delirium? He didn't know – all he did know was that a soft, regal voice seemed to be calling out to him. “You must save yourself,” said the voice. “Chrysalis is beyond hope – even if you do save her, which you won't, she will only continue to terrorise your kind and ours.”

“No...must...try!” wheezed Locomotion, panting with exertion. “Can't...let her...perish!”

“Your bravery is commendable,” continued the voice gravely, “but you're far too forgiving for your own good. There can be no salvation for Queen Chrysalis the Ruthless. As for you...I pray that you can find it in your heart to forgive me for this.”

Locomotion didn't have time to wonder what the voice meant before another shard of rock, bigger than the rest, came crashing down to bludgeon the back of his head. If it hadn't been for his forcefield, the rock could easily have killed him; but as it was, it sent an immense pain through his entire frame. With a grunt of agony, he lost his balance and tumbled down the mound, bumping his forehead on a particularly rough patch before coming to rest halfway down.

With his magic extinguished, there was nothing left to shield Chrysalis against the falling rocks. The offending chunk of wreckage landed with a thump in front of her face, making her screech in alarm as the full weight of her situation finally hit home – and hit hard. She was even more horrified by what she saw in the rock, one of several carved in the likeness of changeling rulers of old. This particular one had been shaped to resemble the very first queen of their species – but to Chrysalis, it looked very much like the face of Nymphia, smirking with malevolent glee at the deranged changeling's peril.

“I warned you this day would come, Chrysalis,” it seemed to say. “You have been guilty of hubris, greed, vanity and vice – but no more. You refused to repent, and now you will bear the judgement of the true Queen of the Changelings.”

“NO!!” screamed Chrysalis desperately.

“Yes! Your time has come, Chrysalis, and vengeance will finally be mine!”

Chrysalis looked around like a frightened rabbit, frantically searching for a sign of salvation. But all she could see were growing mountains of rubble, and Locomotion lying limply on one of them, struggling to stay conscious and recast his forcefield. Looking up, her blood ran cold as she realised with chilling clarity that he had no hope of succeeding in time; for several more rocks were rapidly bearing down on her from above. Her voice caught in her throat as Nymphia's words echoed in her head one last time;

Sic semper tyrannis, Queen Chrysalis the Ruthless!!!”

Locomotion saw the rocks too, but he was too weak and in too much pain to stop them hitting Chrysalis. He could feel blood soaking the fur around his left forehead, almost dripping into his eyes; and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't light up his horn again without sending a searing pain through his head. That voice was right, he realised – nothing could save Chrysalis now.

“I've...failed...” he gasped groggily, giving himself up for lost as he slumped onto the rocks. As his eyes fell shut, a brief but horrific splat registered in his ears, making him wince with dread...and then his world went blank.

Unaware that Locomotion had been left behind, Thorax, Hornette and the Friendship Councillors scurried through the long corridors, ushering the other changelings out of their chambers and stopping at intervals to see if any were already in trouble. Panic and confusion reigned throughout the hive, but Thorax at least managed to restore a modicum of order as he oversaw the evacuation, barking out orders left, right and centre and trying to calm the occupants as they streamed past him.

It took a while for Hornette to realise that Locomotion was missing; and when at last she did, she was so alarmed that she completely forgot about the evacuation. Throwing her own safety into the wind, she zipped frantically back and forth, calling out his name as she tried to seek him out among the stampede of escaping changelings. But there was no reply – just a noisy hubbub of screaming and shouting, none of which belonged to her stallion.

As the last few changelings took wing and flew out of the hive, Thorax took one final check in a nearby chamber. “Anyone in the servants' quarters?!” he shouted. No-one replied, so he turned to the three soldiers standing behind him. “Okay, troops, that's the lot. Now let's get the heck outta here!”

“Yes, sire!” The soldiers hastily saluted and charged down the corridor, while Thorax ran back to where Pharynx was still lying. Breaking Twilight's forcefield, he gently hefted his brother onto his back and made to follow the other changelings – only to find Hornette coming the other way.

“Come on, Hornette, let's go!!” he crowed.

“I can't find Loco!” cried Hornette desperately. “We've gotta go back; he could be in trouble!”

“It's too late!” yelled Thorax, grabbing her in his magic and levitating her along with him. “We stay here, we'll be buried!”

“But Loco...! Let me go!” Hornette kicked and thrashed hysterically, but as she looked back, she could see the corridors begin to cave in before her very eyes. The young changeling locked up in horror, watching helplessly as the red-furred pony's escape route was cut off...if indeed he was still in there. Only when they were safely out in the open did she manage to regain control of herself, flitting amongst the millions of gathered changelings and trying to spot his black and gold mane and red coat – but the only ponies she could find were the Bearers of Harmony.

By then, Twilight had also begun to realise that they were one pony down; but before she could even begin to wonder where he was, she looked up and saw the tall tower in the middle of the hive leaning dangerously to one side. “SHE'S COMING DOWN!!” she shouted urgently. “EVERYPONY, HIT THE DECK!!!

All the changelings and ponies flung themselves down onto the sand, many throwing their front legs protectively over their heads. As Thorax and Hornette looked back, they could see the tower pitching further and further to the east, until finally the stonework couldn't take any more. With a weary groan, the tall structure toppled over and crushed the rest of the hive, kicking up a huge dust cloud that swept over the Friendship Councillors and the changelings like a tidal wave.

As the dust settled, everyone climbed gingerly back to their hooves and surveyed the devastation. Where the hive had once stood, proud, tall and intimidating, all that remained was an immense heap of jagged rock and shattered cocoons that seemed to go on for miles on end. Without waiting to see if the others were alright, Hornette ran back to where the throne room had been and began sifting feverishly through the rubble for Locomotion, coughing as the dust irritated her lungs.

Twilight, Thorax and a few changeling soldiers followed on, taking in the harrowing scene of destruction. None of them could be sure that all the changelings had escaped in time, but they weren't about to wait around for answers. Thorax nodded to the senior officer by his side; “Search for survivors,” he ordered tersely.

The officer saluted wordlessly, and cantered away to rally his troops. But deep down, Thorax didn't fancy Locomotion's chances – after such a cataclysmic collapse, they would be lucky to find any survivors at all, let alone their missing unicorn comrade. Still, even a million-to-one chance was better than none at all, he thought gravely as he began retracing his steps.

In the midst of the wreckage, Hornette couldn't help shuddering at the gruesome scene that met her eyes. The throne, along with the pedestal on which it stood, had been completely destroyed; and at the foot of its remains lay the headless body of Queen Chrysalis. Her front legs rested in a growing pool of her own blood, and a massive shard of rubble lay where her head should have been. The young changeling gagged lightly, trying to force the sickening mental image out of her mind, and continued her search.

She didn't have to look much further, however; and even after the unpleasant sight of a decapitated changeling, nothing in the world could prepare her for the sight that met her eyes. Looking back towards the remains of the throne pedestal, she suddenly threw her front hooves over her mouth, gasping in horror – for there, lying prone and half-buried near Chrysalis' maimed corpse, was Locomotion! His eyes were closed, his forehead was bleeding heavily, and there was another small trail of blood trickling from the corner of his mouth. His right arm was bent at an odd angle, and he didn't seem to be breathing.

“TWILIGHT!” screamed Hornette at the top of her voice, frightened tears stinging her eyes. “THORAX!! ANYONE!! COME QUICK!!!”

Forgetting about his own search, Thorax darted straight over just as Twilight teleported onto the scene, followed very closely by the other Friendship Councillors.

“What is it, Hornette?” asked Fluttershy anxiously.

“It's Loco!” wailed Hornette. “He...I...” Unable to say any more she was in so much distress, she simply pointed to his motionless body.

Rainbow Dash and Applejack wasted no time. Working together, they carefully dislodged the smashed rocks from around Locomotion so that Twilight could levitate him bodily out of the rubble, while Rarity and Fluttershy laid out some of their blankets on which to examine him. But even before Twilight had set him down, they could tell that the deluge had taken its toll – with such a nasty bump on the back of his head and so many other serious injuries, it was a wonder he was still in one piece!

Hornette ran to his side, trying to nudge him awake. “Loco?” she asked desperately. “Loco, are you okay?”

“Don't try to move him,” advised Twilight, gently moving her back a little. “With physical traumas, you can never be too careful – for all we know, the slightest movement could finish him off.”

Thorax hung his head. “He can't have survived,” he murmured, gazing back towards Chrysalis' remains. “Even that scorpion couldn't have stood a chance.”

“We can't just give up on him!” protested Hornette. “He's got to survive! He's just got to!” She gazed up at the lavender alicorn pleadingly. “Please save him, Twilight.”

“Well...I'll do my best, but I can't promise anything.” Twilight set her horn aglow and began probing Locomotion's body for any signs of life. Thorax and the other ponies watched with bated breath, while several other changelings gathered around to see what was happening.

Without bothering to wait until Twilight had finished her scan, Hornette knelt down next to Locomotion's lifeless form. “It's alright, Loco,” she whispered feverishly, more to herself than to her beau. “You're gonna be okay – honest you will. We'll get Twilight to revive you, and then we'll take you home so you can get better. You'll soon be back to driving trains...back with your family and friends...” Her voice began to crack at that point, and she was forced to pause for a few seconds while she regained what little composure she could. “I was wrong to leave you behind like that...but I'll make it up to you somehow. You'll live, Loco – you've got to!” She looked up to Twilight for support; “Won't he?”

But Twilight's response was far from reassuring. She didn't say anything, but simply frowned and shook her head in sorrow.

Hornette felt her heart shatter as her world came crashing down. “No! Please!” she sobbed despairingly, wrapping her arms around Locomotion's barrel and crying heavily into his fur. “Please don't leave me!” She couldn't believe this was happening – the very pony who saved her life in more ways than one, the one creature more precious to her than the sacred Promised Land...now little more than a broken, lifeless carcass. She felt like she could never be happy again, no matter how much love her friends could feed her.

Rarity and Fluttershy each choked back a small sob of their own. Pinkie Pie, whose mane and tail had deflated in her own sadness, began wailing out loud as literal fountains of tears streamed out of her eyes, while Applejack simply bared her head in respect. Twilight, Rainbow Dash and the changelings all sombrely hung their heads, a few of the latter murmuring a quiet dirge as those three words slipped out of Hornette's mouth – words that should have cued the most memorable moment in all her life, but now brought pain, grief and sorrow to her heart as she uttered them...

“I love you.”

Author's Note:

Just getting this out of the way immediately - yes, I know that this and the next chapter share titles with existing MLP episodes, but I felt that the circumstances fit the title of this one pretty well (hopefully for obvious reasons in this case), and since a lot, if not almost all, of Seasons 8 and 9 is pretty much non-canon in the Locoverse, I decided to use it anyway.

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