Train to the Crystal Empire - current time
“And that’s how I ended up here Mr. diary…” Pinkie wrote with a sigh, the memories of past few days were still hurting, but writing them down lifted some of the burdens from her heart. “Aww Cadance please, Please, PLEASE help me! You are my last hope… Mr. diary - wish me luck.”
Outside, the snowstorm seemed to die down, allowing the rose-pink light of dawn to slowly fill the air. In the distance, Crystal Palace sparkled like a bright star, indicating she was just minutes from her destination.
“Now arriving at the final station - please don’t forget your luggage while disembarking,” announced the conductor - Pinkie burst through the door as soon as they opened. “Next stop, the Crystal Palace.”
A few minutes later she arrived at the ground level of the royal residence and quickly explained her situation. At first, the guard though this was some kind of a prank, but after seeing how frantic she was - decided to consult the princess.
“Miss Pinkie Pie - please follow me to one of the guest rooms, the princess will meet you there shortly,” Pinkie sighed with relief - Cadance was willing to at least hear her out.
She didn’t wait for long - no more than ten minutes later, Cadance arrived to greet her. “Hello, princess… Did the guard tell you why I’m here?”
“More or less - but I would like to hear it from you. Let’s eat something while we are at it - you must be starving,” Cadance called for the service, and soon, the table was full of food - including some super-duper looking cake and sweets.
Pinkie was indeed starving, her last meal was the breakfast with Celestia a day before. “Oh my gosh! My tummy says ‘thank you’” and with that she started to eat, while at the same time reporting her story. For the next half an hour, Pinkie explained everything - about how her friends were acting, how Celestia was talking with a changeling, and how she got to the Empire.
Cadance stood up from the table and approached the window in silence. “Pinkie… what you told me is incredible, to say the least, but... I can confirm some of it.”
“You... can?” Pinkie asked with a bit of confusion in her voice, the train ride must have worn her off more than she though because her eyelids were getting heavy - she didn’t sleep for more than a day after all.
“Yes - for some time now, we heard rumors about Chrysalis and her new army - that’s why the shield around the Empire was recently adjusted,” Cadance returned to the table and poured herself a cup of tea. “It would appear however that that didn’t stop her from trying-”
“Princess, you haven’t touched your food, are you gonna eat that?” Pinkie cut her off, pointing at one of the cupcakes with a grin.
"I… I'm on a diet - you can have it if you want."
"Thank you... again, your highness..." fighting her eyes from closing and yawning heavily, Pinkie took a bite, "although, I must say that these... cupcakes have a weird aftertaste..."
"Oh, don't worry about it," Cadance grinned, sipping her tea, "that's just the taste of sedatives we put in."
“Sedatives...?" Pinkie's eyes widened, as realization struck her. "No… you are… one of… them…” she stood up and wanted to run, but her legs were not listening. “So tired…” the last thing she saw was the fuzzy figure of the princess approaching her, then everything went black.
Pinkie woke up lying on the floor, her vision blurry and head throbbing painfully. “Whoooa… what hap-” a sound of a chain interrupted her speech. “Huh? What’s this?”
Soon her vision cleared enough so she could grab the gravity of her situation - she was in the dungeon, chained to the wall - her only companion was the guard outside her cell. “Hey, what gives? Why am I locked up?!”
“I see our ‘sleeping beauty’ finally woke up - I guess we gave you a little too much sedative, huh?” he asked mockingly. “I'm not supposed to talk with you so save your breath, I will notify the Princess that you are up.”
With that, he was off - leaving Pinkie alone with her thoughts. She noticed through the small window that sun was just over the horizon - it was either dusk or dawn, she couldn’t tell, but in any case that meant she was asleep for a while.
After about ten minutes, Shining Armor arrived, with a dozen guards. “You are coming with me, but first we will chain you,” he said coldly and made a gesture with his hoof. “Don’t try anything funny or you’ll regret it.”
Pinkie stared apathetically at the ground, she didn't flinch even when they put on her restraints - her will to fight was gone, replaced by the feeling of failure.
She was brought to the large hall on the top of Crystal Palace - this was the place where the Crystal Heart was currently residing - both for different security reasons. “We are here - you can come in now,” Shining said, and the rest of the mane six walked inside the room alongside Princess Cadance.
Suddenly Pinkie's jaw dropped, and her eyes went wide. “Wh…? What this?!” among her friends she saw… another Pinkie Pie - identical to her in every way.
“Surprised that your assassination attempt didn’t work?!” Cadance shouted, grabbing chained Pinkie with her magic and lifting her into the air. “If it weren't for Luna and Celestia you would probably have succeeded - fortunately, they were able to establish a shield moments before the building hit them - Luna was injured nevertheless.”
“That was... an accident...” Pinkie tried to explain herself, but Cadance’s magic was choking her. “Can’t… breath…”
After a few more seconds, her body hit the floor with a loud thud. “You are lucky we don’t execute creatures - even as despicable as you,” Cadance said, while Pinkie was gasping for air. “Shall we get started?”
With that, the guards dragged Pinkie near the Crystal Heart - and the mane six surrounded her. “What are you doing?!” she shouted, struggling with her restraints - but there was no response. “You are not gonna get away with this!”
“Um… please stop, you will hurt yourself,” Fluttershy murmured. “We are not gonna hurt you.”
“Stop pretending! I know you are not Fluttershy! I don’t know what you did to my friends, but you are gonna pay! That’s a Pinkie Promise!”
The girls glanced at ‘their’ Pinkie and she looked back, her face as confused as theirs. Next, they glanced at the one chained near the Crystal Heart, and for a moment they seemed to be stuck in a loop, just glancing back and forth - until Cadance intervened. “Don’t let her fool you! You know what to do.”
Without further ado, Twilight began to charge her horn - soon, a sphere formed around her and the rest of mane six, as the magic of friendship began to ignite. Suddenly a beam of energy passed through the center of Crystal Heart and hit the chained Pinkie. “IT HURTS! STOOOOP! PLEEEESE!” she screamed as a cloud of thick smoke coming from her body started to fill the room.
“Something’s not right!” Twilight shouted. “Magic of friendship should not cause pain! We must abort!” The smoke was so thick that she could barely see the Crystal Heart - she was about to power down, when suddenly a sphere of energy discharged from the heart, knocking everyone unconscious.