Howlite Howler 3

by JNKing

Chapter 15: The Reign of Queen Shiva

The first thing Shiva felt was an odd surge in her gut, like someone had dropped her off a cliff. Skippy and Kodo felt it too, looking around in confusion.
“W-What’s happening?” Kodo asked.
“I don’t know,” Shiva admitted, her ears tilting and perking in confusion. “There’s… some kind of disturbance…”
Suddenly, Shiva felt her mind almost… lift away. Memories cascaded into her mind, filling her head like she was having a vision, and taking her away from the cave like she was falling unconscious.
The visions were familiar, yet different all at the same time.
Her memory of landing in Equestria. Her confusion.
Her capture by Beast Breaker. Her escape. Both from him and from Canterlot.
Meeting the Diamond Dogs. Meeting Chrysalis.
Except… Shiva tried to blink. “I didn’t shake hands with her,” she tried to insist. I didn’t agree to help!
And yet the visions disagreed. They showed her storming Ponyville, changelings and diamond dogs together. But… Twilight and her friends… Twilight was gone! Her five friends were scattered. Uncoordinated. They fell so easily to her horde.
Then they reached Canterlot. Finally, Twilight appeared. But she didn’t have her wings. And she was weak! Too weak. Shiva batted her aside with barely a thought.
Luna? Celestia! They all fell as well. In seconds, Shiva and Chrysalis stood facing each other, Celestia’s throne between them.
Chrysalis’ smug grin was fading into shock, as a ball of magic built up in Shiva’s hand. Shiva watched herself hurl it, unable to believe she had been capable of such feats.
She saw… Shiva gulped. She saw Celestia and Luna. Broken. Bowing to her. She saw herself seated on the Alicorn’s throne. More people flashed before her eyes: unfamiliar dragons, diamond dogs, minotaurs… briefly, Shiva’s heart slowed as she saw Princess Scorpio among them…
Then Shiva opened her eyes. She was… She had to blink twice to fully comprehend it. She was seated on Celestia’s throne. Murals depicted Celestia and Chrysalis falling to diamond dogs. All the different creatures uniting in harmony.
And Shiva felt power. More power than she had ever known what to do with before. She looked down at herself.
“By everything sacred…” she mumbled in disbelief.
Her armor was overlaid with royal robes! Her pearls and rubies glittered like stars in the night sky. Her fur pulsated with magic, tendrils of her pack link disappearing through the murals. And when Shiva lifted herself off her throne… she gasped as she felt actual, feather and bone wings extending from her shoulder blades.
She was no alicorn. But she had certainly taken the place of one.
Queen Shiva,” a voice suddenly called. Not from the front of the throne room. But from the pack link.
Almost on instinct, Shiva let her mind slip towards the voice. In an instant, she found herself in a familiar forest. Nestled next to her was…
Shiva resisted sobbing in relief. It was Kodo. Grown up. With powerful looking arms and armor black as obsidian. His paw was on a purple alicorn that reminded Shiva of Twilight. Rainbow Dash stood in front of him, glaring at a purple dragon that was waving his hands, looking like he was begging something.
Don’t I… know that dragon? Shiva thought, searching her memories. Isn't that alicorn... Twilight? Before she could put a claw on who they were…
We caught us an alicorn.” With another jolt, Shiva realized that Rainbow Dash was the one speaking. Her rainbow mane was somehow more ruffled and wild, like she had been spending time in the forest. Sapphires studded a sky-blue vest strapped around the pegasus.
“What do you want us to do?” Kodo’s voice asked, pulling Shiva from her thoughts. “The dragon’s just a kid, but the alicorn could pose a problem. She’s keeps acting like she and Rainbow Dash know each other.”
“A-And I don’t!” Rainbow Dash insisted. “I’m loyal to you above all else!”
Shiva blinked at the panic in Rainbow Dash’s voice, but forced herself to stay as calm as she was about to urge Rainbow Dash to be.
“It’s fine,” She said. “Bring them to me; I will question them personally.”
Rainbow Dash nodded. “Understood.” She turned to the purple alicorn, and Shiva felt an odd shudder at the suspicion in the normally loyal pegasus’ eyes. “Looks like it’s your lucky day, kid. The Alpha herself wants to see you.”
“Rainbow Dash, please, listen to me!” Twilight tried to insist, but Kodo yanked her up roughly and shoved her forward.
“Less talk, more walk,” he growled, prodding her forward with his axe.
Shivering, Twilight and her oddly familiar dragon friend started walking. And as Shiva watched them, she inched her consciousness out, trying to figure out where she was.
Her heart jumped into her throat; she was in Canterlot! But… it had changed. Thankfully, it wasn’t ruined or abandoned. But every kind of species walked through its walls. Dragons. Changelings. Diamond Dogs. Minotaurs. Griffons. And plenty of other animals she couldn’t even name!
“How… could this happen?” Shiva thought.
But she barely even had to ask before the memories returned.
The various animals bowing to her… they had been ambassadors of these species. They had come to her, eager to form alliances or eager to test the new ruler of Equestria. And she had passed their tests. Earned their respect! And more… she had extended the offer of friendship to them. In a way Celestia never had.
She quickly started sorted through her pack links, chuckling a bit as she realized they were all sorted by name. And better yet, many of them were names that she was familiar with.
So… Her ears perked. How is everyone doing in this new world?
Quickly finding Celine, Shiva looked into her daughter’s link … and breathed a sigh of relief as she found her working a soup kitchen, handing out bowls of hot broth to hungry workers of every species.
“Don’t crowd!” Celine barked, her pack link tendrils separating a group of dragons that were shoving a familiar white mare away. “There’s plenty for everyone.” Ignoring the dragons, she sent forth a tendril that lifted Rarity up and ahead of them. “Doing okay?” she asked.
“It’s always armor these days,” Rarity complained, accepting a bowl from the diamond dog. “No one wants dresses or even formal attire. Any more requests for armor, and I fear my hooves will be permanently callused.”
“Oh, quit whining about it, pony,” one of the dragons grumbled. “You should consider yourself lucky; at least you know how to work gems.”
Rarity huffed, while Celine just snickered.
“Well,” Celine offered. “I have been thinking about getting a robe for formal occasions.” She winked at Rarity. “Think you can help a pack sister out?”
Rarity eyes’ glittered, and she kissed Celine on both sides of her face.
“Princess… or… Beta…?” Rarity stammered.
Celine waved it aside. “Just Celine, to you,” she said.
“You are truly a life saver,” Rarity giggled, before practically skipping away.


Shiva chuckled softly at their antics. It seemed that Celine’s love for ponies crossed dimensions well enough. Turning to the pack link labeled ‘Luke,’ she found her lover gathered in what had to be a war council room. Shining Armor and Skippy, along with a cyan blue dragoness, a darker blue minotaur, a wrinkled old griffon and a couple of other warrior-looking folks, stood glaring down at a map of Equestria.
“Our scouts reported a village of pony separatists out in these canyons,” Skippy was saying, pointing at a section of mountains. “I sent one of my men out there; he talked about them being some sort of ‘equality’ cult.”
Luke chuckled. “Queen Shiva’s going to love that,” he muttered.
“I wouldn’t get too comfortable,” the dragoness noted. “Whoever’s leader down there is probably not going to be eager to bend the knee to someone else.”
The minotaur laughed. “If ponies have a problem,” he declared. “They’ll get a taste of Iron Will and the Iron Paws!”
“Definitely have that as a backup plan,” Luke agreed. “Ember, can you spare a few torchers in case we need to go all out.”
Ember nodded grimly. “If they have one of those stupid pony rebels that want to tear down what we’ve got,” she promised. “You can have the whole flame brigade.”
“Just two should work for this operation,” Luke replied, turning back to Shining and Skippy. “Shining; send one of your men as the negotiator. Shiva would want us to give them a fair shot.”
You know me well, my love,” Shiva noted coyly. The others jumped, before turning to the link shining above him.
“Queen Shiva!” they greeted, giving quick nods of respect.
“No need for formalities,” Shiva said. “Just stick with everything Luke said. If they work with us, good. If not… you know what to do.”
Ember grinned. “You gave us access to the treasures hidden beneath Canterlot,” she said. “We’re more than happy to make sure that doesn’t change.”
Shiva nodded, noticing Shining wince before she pulled back to her throne. With Skippy already accounted for, Shiva curiously checked the link for Scorpia. She found the changeling princess watching happily as a swarm of changelings slowly built a hive, not far from the Crystal Empire. Cadence stood alongside her, her belly swollen with a slowly developing baby.
“And you’re certain they’ll take to a pony?” Cadence asked.
“A pony that’s given them a steady stream of love,” Scorpia corrected with a grin. “Caritatin Hive will accept you. And I’m quite certain your child, when raised alongside them, will be seen as practially family by the time she's ready to inherit.”
Cadence rubbed her stomach subconsciously. “Sometimes, it feels weird, knowing how we used to be royalty,” Cadence admitted.
“Don’t consider it a demotion,” Scorpia replied. “You don’t see Celestia or Luna in dungeons, do you?”
Cadence pondered it. “Last time I heard from them, they were in Somnambula,” she admitted. “Celestia mentioned she was almost happy Shiva beat her. Took a massive weight off her shoulders.” She smiled. "Though, that's probably just because Shiva beat Chrysalis after the changeling tried to betray her."
Scopria shook her head with a huff. "That changeling was always a power-hungry idiot," she said. "But there's nothing to worry about; she's dead, and Shiva is in charge."
Nothing to worry about… Shiva pondered, slipping out of Scorpia’s pack link. Yet, when she delved back into her son’s link, she immediately saw the nervous looks on the faces of Twilight and her dragon – what was his name? Shiva thought furiously - as they watched the bigger and stronger species striding around through Canterlot.
Rainbow Dash didn’t seem nearly as nervous. She walked alongside Kodo as if she had known him for years (and, as the memories reminded Shiva, she actually had).
“Hey, check it,” Rainbow Dash noted, pointing out Rarity as she bounced into a shop happily. “How long do you think it’ll be before your sister proposes marriage.”
Kodo chuckled. “Aw, be nice, Dash,” he said. “She’s like that to all the ponies.”
Rainbow Dash grimaced as she saw one diamond dog back-hand a peddling unicorn out of his way.
“I don’t know,” Rainbow Dash admitted. “Being nice to them… when they haven’t earned their keep…”
“Like Blueblood over there?” Kodo asked, giving the peddler a disgusted look. “Agreed on that. But, Rarity does an okay job with armor.”
“Like I need armor,” Rainbow Dash boasted.
“Our last two sparring sessions say otherwise,” Kodo pointed out.
Rainbow Dash scoffed. “You know you cheated,” she pointed out.
“Well,” he replied. “You gonna play fair at nine tonight?”
Rainbow Dash grinned. “You’re on.”
Spitting into each other’s hoof and paw respectively, they shook on it, prompting another moan from Twilight.
“You used to do that with Applejack,” she moaned (whom, Shiva discovered with a quick look into her links, was still at her farm. Apparently, there were some things that shifting dimensions would never change).
Shiva smiled at her son’s banter and friend, though, she couldn’t help but notice the somber expressions on the ponies. While plenty of pegasi and even a few earth ponies looked happy, or at the very least determined, there were plenty of unicorns that looked utterly miserable. And it wasn’t hard to see why; every other species towered over the ponies. If it wasn’t for Rainbow Dash’s ten feet of attitude, even Kodo would’ve had her on height.
But, as much as Shiva’s gut throbbed in pity for the ponies, she couldn’t help but notice the good things as well. Her diamond dogs looked so healthy. So, did the changelings. The dragons didn’t look so cranky or irritated. The griffons were actually smiling. Even the minotaurs looked like they were having fun.
And… it hit her just as Kodo and Rainbow Dash entered the palace – Kodo didn’t have to pay for what he did to Filthy Rich! Quickly checking through her pack links, she discovered Filthy Rich’s business up and running, and providing jobs and benefits for minotaurs and diamond dogs.
Meaning Kodo had never set fire to that warehouse. Celine had never been bullied. Best of all… maybe whatever had compromised Kodo’s pack link had never happened! Things were going to be okay! She didn’t have to confront him on any of that!
Things are really okay, she thought happily. We're all gonna be okay!
But then, the doors to her throne opened. And Kodo and Rainbow Dash nudged Twilight and – was it Spike? Shiva wondered - inside.
Twilight’s eyes widened… before she had to avert them due to Shiva’s magic glow.
“S-Alpha Shiva…” Spike whispered. “Did you… how did…?”
Kodo nudged him with his axe. “When talking to the Queen,” he growled. “You kneel.”
“Easy, son,” Shiva said, rising from her throne.
Briefly, she searched through her pack links one last time. But, to her displeasure, Spike was still missing. She could’ve sworn she knew him.
Unless…Shiva’s ears flattened as she gazed down at him. Did something happen in my conquest that hurt him?
But as she searched through her memories, she couldn’t find any record of him. Even her time in the pits… the baby dragon they tortured wasn’t him! In this timeline… it seemed he simply never existed.
Shiva knelt before him. “Where have you come from?” she asked. “Why are you two not linked like the rest of the ponies?”
Spike pulled his way forward. “A-Queen Shiva, it’s me,” he insisted. “Spike! I was the only Equestrian you trusted at first!”
Shiva shook her head. “In another life, perhaps,” she admitted. “But I cannot find my memories of you from that time.”
Spike backed up, covering his mouth in horror, before Twilight stepped forward.
“Of course, you can’t,” she said. “Because this is the wrong timeline.”
Kodo and Rainbow Dash growled, but looked to Shiva for guidance. She motioned for them to wait, settling herself before Twilight.
“Explain,” she said firmly.
Twilight’s gaze didn’t falter. “A pony from my time used a spell to travel back and change the past.” She gave Spike a sad look. “That’s probably why Spike isn’t… with you in this timeline. Among other things… that pony stopped his birth.”
Shiva’s ears flared, and she stared down at Spike with horror and a bit of pity. Spike himself clutched at his heart, looking at his body as if fearing it would turn to steam.
“But…” Spike realized. “You still remember me. How?”
Kodo laughed. “My mother’s pack link cannot be deceived,” he boasted. “She knows all and remembers all.”
But Shiva was deaf to his words. She glanced down, curling her claws.
“The memories are faint,” she admitted. “Like trying to remember a previous life.” She looked up. “But this pony is responsible for… this as well?”
Twilight followed her gaze. “Yes,” she agreed. “Which is why she has to be stopped.”
Shiva paused. “Stopped?” she asked.
Spike paled, giving Twilight a sign to stop, but Twilight stepped forward insistently.
“You see,” Twilight insisted. “In my timeline, Rainbow Dash, myself and four other ponies found the Elements of Harmony, and used them to protect the world. I don't know how much of that you remember, but you need to let me and Spike go back in time and bring that world back.”
Shiva closed her eyes, feeling the memories of that world coming back to her.
“Yes,” she muttered. “The world where Celestia rules. Where…”
“Where you still rule as an Alpha of the Crystal Empire,” Twilight insisted. “Where your children…”
Shiva’s eyes shot open. “My children,” she gasped, standing up. Twilight and Spike backed up.
“Queen Shiva?” Spike asked.
Shiva let a slow breath out, regarding him with pity before turning to Twilight.
“Twilight,” Shiva insisted. “If I go back to that world… everything here will be erased. I don’t know if Celestia would try to find peace with the other species as I did…” She gazed at Kodo with fear. “And my child’s fate is not something I can allow.”
“Your child?” Spike looked back and forth between them before he gasped in realization. “Because he burned Filthy Rich’s home?”
Kodo tilted his head. “I did what?” he asked.
“It’s nothing you need to worry about, Kodo,” Shiva assured him. “It’s a problem from another life.”
“Another life?” Twilight stammered. “Shiva, the ponies are miserable in this world! You may have harmony with the other races, but it’s not harmony for everyone.”
“What do you know about it?” Rainbow Dash demanded. “Harmony works, but only if you got the strength to back it up. Some ponies have that strength. Not all of them, but enough of them.”
“Strong or not,” Twilight vowed forcefully. “No pony should have to suffer for the good of everyone else.”
“An admirable thought,” Shiva admitted. “But one that is ultimately impossible to maintain.” She settled herself back on her throne. “It’s a tough pill to swallow, Twilight Sparkle, but your old timeline is gone.” Her gaze softened. “But it doesn’t mean you have to suffer.”
Spike and Twilight glanced at each other. “What do you mean?” Spike asked.
“Join us.” Shiva extended two pack tendrils, floating like hands before the two. “Aid us in maintaining this new Equestria. We need all the help we can get keeping the peace between the different species. You could even reignite the friendships you had in the old timeline.”
Twilight gazed at Rainbow Dash, who tilted her head back with a scoff. Spike inched his hand out, reaching for the link. However, Twilight sighed.
“I’m sorry, Shiva,” she said, backing away. “But I can’t leave my own world behind. I have to get back to the Cutie Map.”
She turned to the exit… only for Rainbow Dash and Kodo to step in front of her.
“Rainbow, what are you…?!” Twilight stammered, only for Spike to notice the tendril aimed at her turn into a spear.
“Twilight!” he screamed, knocking her out of the way just as the spear jammed into the ground she was on. Both of them turned to Shiva as she rose, her wings spreading and her glow brightening like the sun.
“I was worried you’d say that,” she admitted, before turning to her links. “Ember,” she commanded, remembering a meeting she had yet to go through with the dragon.
Aye?”Ember asked.
Somewhere in Ponyville,” Shiva ordered. “There is something called a Cutie Map. Might have appeared out of nowhere. Find it… and destroy it.”
“On it,” Ember replied, as Shiva turned back to Twilight.
“Shiva…?” Spike begged, tears poking at his eyes as she bore down on them.
“I didn’t want to do this to you,” Shiva admitted. “Especially you, Spike.” She sighed. “But if you won’t join us…” Lightning crackled to life in her claws. “Then you must die.”