Queen Chrysalis watched with amusement as black shapes flitted around in the windows of the warehouse. She knew that the eventually the two Alicorns and the Unicorn, powerful though they were, would soon be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of Changelings. Also, they would not wish to harm the three little fillies she’d sent to do the job. Love was such a stupid emotion, and yet, so succulent and so tasteful.
“Shall I go and end the fight?” Celestia asked as she also surveyed the fight with an emotionless face.
“No, I am content to let my troops gain experience by apprehending the fugitives.”
Queen Chrysalis looked at Celestia with amusement.
“I was astonished when I fully realized the extent of Shining Armor’s love for Princess Cadence. It was so powerful that I had an epiphany. If I am so powerful, then why shouldn’t I be the Queen of the Equestria? But first, I had to convince everpony of my great wisdom which will lead Equestria into my new golden age.”
Celestia’s face did not change at all as she stared at the warehouse.
“What did my spell show you Queen Celestia?”
“My own inability to look out for the good of my subjects” Celestia said in an emotionless voice “only you can save us from ourselves my Queen.”
“Excellent, ha ha ha . . .” Queen Chrysalis chuckled, and then she turned back to the warehouse, fully expecting to see the three insurgents being dragged out by their tails.
Instead, she saw her Changelings wandering about, looking leaderless. The fight was over and the three rebels were nowhere to, in addition to the Cutie Mark Crusaders.
For a moment, Queen Chrysalis said nothing as her brain refused to process the information. Then she growled, her face contorting with anger. The Changelings along with the Ponies all across Canterlot flinched and some even cowered as the Queen’s voice boomed out.
“FIND THEM, FAN OUT AND FIND THEM!!!”
The Changelings all nodded frantically and took off, eager to avoid their Queens wrath.
Back a few minutes ago in the warehouse . . .
Twilight fired off another beam of magic that hit a Changeling. It was utter chaos as the three un-brainwashed ponies tried to fight off the mass of Changelings while trying not to hit the three fillies that kept trying to attack them.
Cadence dodged back as Apple Bloom leapt at her. Apple Bloom missed but quickly got up and began hitting some crates in her direction. Cadence couldn’t understand how such a small filly; an Earthpony could be so fast!
Luna struck out and hit several Changelings with her hoofs. Then a shrill warcry alerted her to the fact that Scootaloo was charging straight at her. Unwilling to hurt the small Pegasus Luna’s eyes flared black. Darkness expanded from her horn and enveloped the entire inside of the Warehouse. Nopony could see anything except Luna and they all stumbled around blindly.
Both Twilight and Princess Cadence heard Luna’s voice, “grab a filly.”
Luna had quickly picked out the three Cutie Mark Crusaders and had herded them together. Now she shoved one each into Twilight’s and Princess Cadence’s hooves and each of them magically held the fillies in the air. The Crusaders all kicked and struggled but they could do nothing.
“Follow me,” Luna said and she touched her horn to Twilight’s and Princess Cadence’s in turn. Suddenly they could see Luna and the immediate surrounding area in the darkness.
Luna turned and charged away and the two ponies followed, still levitating their struggling Crusaders. Luna lowered her horn and blasted the door away. The moon cast a bright light, though it could not rival the sun. They stormed out and Luna quickly darted away into an alleyway, with her two followers quickly following suit.
They looked behind them and luckily, no Changelings had yet recovered from Luna’s darkness to follow them. They galloped away, randomly changing directions until finally; Luna picked a random house that looked to be empty and moved in through the back door. It looked like a bar which was thankfully closed for now. The three ponies quickly moved to the basement of the building and closed the door behind them.
Only then did the finally deposit the three fillies in a corner. The three young ponies leapt to their feet, indignation and anger written all over their features.
“Hey! What gives you the right to just go and kidnap us? Specially when we were just doin the queen’s biddin and all!” Apple Bloom shouted.
“You are aware that your “Queen” is the ruler of the Changelings who has been impersonating me aren’t you?” Princess Cadence asked in confusion.
Sweetie Belle cocked an eyebrow “of course we are, that was all a part of her master plan to save Canterlot. Pretty soon she’s gonna lead us in a really awesome campaign to save all of Equestria.” A gleeful smile grew on her face as she continued what was fast becoming a manic rant “she even promised to open up Cutie Mark Crusader posts in every city. Imagine that! Nopony now will have to go without a Cutie Mark for long!! I hope mine’s gonna be a Changeling!!!”
Luna looked at her two companions “they’ve obviously been brainwashed by Queen Chrysalis. Or at least, by one of her servants. I fear that we are the only one’s left in Canterlot free from her evil mind control.”
Scootaloo bared her teeth and leapt at Luna, “you take that back!!! The Queen is a good and loving person and she cares a lot about us!!! She’s the only one who can save the world!!!”
Luna simply held out a hoof and pushed Scootaloo back into the corner with the other fillies. Twilight looked as if she were deep in thought, then a metaphorical light bulb went off in her head.
She stepped forward and turned to the two Alicorns.
“I remember when Discord brainwashed all of my friends I learned a spell that would remind them who they are. That spell might help cure them.”
Luna nodded and quickly grabbed the three fillies, who’d been getting ready to bolt upon hearing this news, with her magic.
Twilight walked up to Apple Bloom first, her horn beginning to glow. Apple Bloom snarled “ah won’t fall fer your tricks. Ya’ll are just a bunch o traitors!”
Twilight touched Apple Bloom’s forehead and the young filly gasped as memories surged back. The greenish glow died in her eyes and she fell limply to the floor. The other two crusaders gasped and Twilight quickly moved on to Sweetie Belle.
“No, it’s going to be so perfect!!! Don’t hurt me!!!” Sweetie Belle cried in fear as Twilight approached.
“Don’t worry Sweetie Belle, you’ll feel better soon” Twilight said comfortingly as she touched her horn to the struggling Unicorn’s forehead. Sweetie Belle also collapsed to the floor and Twilight turned to Scootaloo.
“Ha, you may have foaled the others” Scootaloo said as Twilight moved towards her. “But I won’t be so DUH-…” she finished as the spell began to work on her.
She also collapsed to the floor and Twilight stepped back to survey her work. Each filly was rubbing their head as if they had a headache (which they probably did.)
Apple Bloom opened her eyes and looked around her. Her eyes eventually came to rest on Twilight and she quickly avoided her gaze.
“Yes Apple Bloom.”
“I’m a might bit sorry about all the things I said,” Apple Bloom said in a voice that sounded as though she were about to cry. “I don’t know what came over me. Me and the girls were just in the Kitchens, trying to earn some cooking Cutie Marks, when suddenly a bunch a Unicorns burst in. They hit us with some sort oh spell and after that . . .”
Tears actually were leaking out of her eyes now as well as the other Crusaders. Twilight smiled and walked over to them, pulled them all close to her in a hug.
“Shhhh, it’s okay girls. What happened then?”
Sweetie Belle took over the story, “well, after that all we could remember were all our bad memories. Everything we’d ever done that made us feel scared, mad, or ashamed, that was all we could think about. Then we got told that the Queen was the only person who could save us from being the horrible people we were and that she was going to fix all of Equestria! And we . . . we . . . we fell for it!!!”
All three fillies began to cry in earnest, each leaning up again Twilight. The display tugged at the heartstrings of Princess Cadence and she walked forward, eager to comfort the little ponies.
“Shhhhh, don’t feel guilty little ones. That was just the spell; none of you are to blame at all.”
Princess Luna watched from the background, unsure of what to do. She contented herself to wait and listen to make sure they were completely alone and that nobody was upstairs.
Finally, after the Crusaders had managed to calm down, Luna turned to them,”now, what do you all know about Queen Chrysalis’s plans?”
The Crusaders all thought (rather reluctantly) back during the time when they’d been brainwashed. It was Apple Bloom who answered first.
“We were assigned on patrol duties at first. Then when the Queen heard that you had escaped into the mines Princess, she ordered us to ambush you in the warehouse. She thought it would be funny. But she’s not just sitting around on her bum laughing about such simple things, she’s raising a whole army!”
Luna’s eyes widened but her expression remained impassive as she said, “go on.”
Scootaloo took up the story, “she’s training up her Changelings to capture ponies so that the brainwashed Unicorns can use Hypnosis spells on them them. She’s got some of the ponies who wear the Elements of Harmony leading the buildup. Applejack is rousting food out of the houses, Rarity is designing uniforms, and she appointed Rainbow Dash to teach her Changelings how to fly better!!!” she said with indignation.
Princes Luna’s eyes narrowed in thought. Then she had an idea.
“Do you know where each of these persons would be, or at least what areas they would visit?”
Apple Bloom sniffed then said, “last I heard, Applejack was gonna check out some of the warehouses down by the bakery’s.”
Sweetie Belle piped up, “Rarity’s locked herself up in the most renowned dress shop in Canterlot for “creative stimulation.””
Scootaloo took her turn, “and Rainbow Dash is hanging around the exercise fields training the Changelings.”
Luna nodded, “very well. I believe that we should attempt to apprehend these three and break them of the spell that controls their minds.”
Cadence looked up from Sweetie Belle at Luna, “why?”
“Because, the Elements of Harmony are perhaps the only way to end this in one fell swoop, but to use them we need its bearers.”
Twilight nodded, and then she said, “I should probably be able to find them each in turn and catch them. You two should stay here in the meantime Princess’s and guard the Cutie Mark Crusaders.”
The two Alicorns looked at her as if she’d just gone insane.
‘Twilight Sparkle, if you believe for even one second that we will allow you to rush off into danger like this alone, then you are gravely mistaken. We shall accompany you, we will all go!” Princess Luna said with a flourish.
Princess Cadence nodded, “I’m not going to let my favorite little foal go off somewhere dangerous without some backup.”
“Hey!” The three older ponies turned to see the Cutie Mark Crusaders all looking indignant at being left out of the count.
“We’re comin with you,” Apple Bloom said determinedly.
“Yeah” Sweetie Belle continued, “and before you start on how we’re “too young” and stuff those ponies are our sisters! We’re not going to just wait in the basement if their in trouble!!!”
“Totally,” Scootaloo agreed, Rainbow Dash was the best big sister she’d ever had. Even if she technically wasn’t Scootaloo’s big sister (by blood anyway) Scootaloo always considered Rainbow Dash to be the coolest person ever.
Princess Cadence surveyed the three little fillies, taking in their rebellious looks and contemplating just how much trouble they could get into. Then she turned to her friends and said, “if we take them along, we can keep an eye on them.”
“But, the danger-“ Luna began but Cadence cut her off.
“Look at them, even if we locked them in here, which by the way is just as likely to get them found as them coming with us, they’d find some way to get out. If they’re anything like a certain little unicorn I once looked after,” Twilight looked at the ground, blushing. “Then they’ll find a way to find trouble if they’re left out.”
Princess Luna thought for a long time. Carefully weighing the cost, and then she finally spoke.
“Very well, they may come, but only if they behave themselves.”
The Cutie Mark Crusaders all cheered.
“Maybe we’ll get some “kick Changeling butt” Cutie Marks!” Scootaloo said and the other two Crusader’s face lit up at the prospect.
The six ponies all prepared to leave.
Applejack walked into the warehouse. Holding her checklist, she walked down one of the aisles containing various foodstuffs and emergency supplies. She checked off items on the list as she went, all this food would be donated to support Queen Chrysalis’s righteous crusade to save Equestria. She didn’t notice several shadows moving on top of the boxes.
She did notice it however, when the boxes behind her slid off the shelves into an enormous pile, blocking her from going back. She looked at the pile and there, standing on the top were Apple Bloom and Scootaloo. Applejack looked at the two confusedly.
“Apple Bloom? But I thought y’all was supposed to be patrolling. What’re you-“ her attention was stolen as she heard a flapping sound and turned back to see Princess Cadence land in front of her, cutting off her escape. Realization dawned in Applejack’s eyes as she understood why they were here. Then her eyes narrowed and she pawed the ground, glaring at Cadence.
“What did ya’ll do to ma little sister!!!” she shouted at Cadence.
Cadence merely looked at her with a pitying expression, “I simply freed her from the enchantment. This is an act I intend to duplicate with you.”
“No ma’am! I ain’t allowing myself to be turned against the Queen so easy like!”
Without further ado, Applejack snatched a crate of food off one of the shelves and kicked it straight at Cadence. The Princess didn’t have enough time to react and was hit by the box.
Applejack wasted no time and galloped past her, intending to get out through the other side of the warehouse. She heard someone following her, and then heard her sister shout out, “Applejack!”
She turned to see that her sister was keeping pace with her by galloping across the top of the crates on her right.
“Please Applejack, let us help you!!!”
“Help me what exactly? Be a traitor? I won’t miss out on my chance at becoming a better pony just because some Cutie Mark obsessed whiny filly tells me not to! Yer nothing but a whining betrayer who’s tryin to drag me down with ya!!!”
Apple Bloom’s eyes watered and she stopped chasing her sister. Applejack sped on; content with having lost her pursuit, but then she heard something that made her come to a screeching halt.
Apple Bloom was sobbing.
Rarity was hard at work. It wouldn't do not to finish this dress after all. As she levitated needles and strips of cloth, she noted just how frilly, pink and, dare she say it, girly this dress seemed. She’d received a basic outline of how she was to make the dress; one of the conditions was that it be as feminine as possible.
She hummed as she continued to bring her creation to life. She glanced at the mirror, musing on how this was really a step up from her boorish old life at Carousel Boutique. The Queen had been so kind to her even in spite of all the horrible things she’d done.
Then Rarity’s eyes narrowed, she thought she’d seen a flicker of movement in the mirror. After a moment, she shrugged and went back to work on her dress. Twilight poked her head out from behind a mannequin. Princess Luna and Sweetie Belle in turn, poked their heads around the doorway. All three as silently as possible, began to tiptoe towards the humming Unicorn who looked like she was fully engrossed in her project.
The operative word being that she “looked” like she was fully engrossed in the project.
Suddenly, Rarity spun around, her magic flaring.
“HA! Thought you could sneak up on me did you!? Well have some of this!”
Various boxes, dresses and mannequins all were flung in the direction of the intruders. All three tried to leap away, but there were so many items that it was no use. Twilight was slammed in the flank by a box and she stumbled backwards into the wall. Princess Luna felt a mannequin crack against her skull and she fell over, seeing stars. Sweetie Belle in turn was tossed backwards by some small measuring tapes.
Before anypony had a chance to recover, ribbons, levitated by Rarity’s magic, quickly wrapped themselves around their legs and hog tied them. While this was going on, Rarity continued the bombardment of fashion materials so her prisoners couldn’t concentrate enough to magically escape.
“I am Queen Chrysalis’s personal designer,” Rarity said, “and I am completely loyal to her. Nothing and no one can make me-“ but she stopped short as she heard a sharp cry of pain.
In her fervor, Rarity had magically grabbed several of her own needles and flung them. They had incidentally buried themselves straight into the blank flank of Sweetie Belle. This in turn caused a sharp cry of pain to sound from the young filly’s mouth.
Instantly, everything that Rarity was doing ground to a halt. Everything in the air she’d been holding up dropped and her eyes (which up until now had been glowing green just like everyone else under a mind control spell) grew clear.
They also began to water as Rarity rushed to her sister’s side.
“Oh! Sweetie Belle, I am so sorry!” Rarity said in a strangled voice. She carefully grabbed the sewing needles with her magic and removed them as quickly as possible. Sweetie Belle cried in pain as the needles came out of her flank and as soon as they were completely out Rarity grabbed her sister and drew her close to her.
After a few moments hesitation, Sweetie Belle snuggled into her sister. Then she felt something wet hit her forehead and she realized with a start that Rarity was crying.
“Oh my sister, how can you ever forgive me? Please, please don’t hate me! I didn’t mean to hurt you; it was that horrible Chrysalis woman! She made me do this!!!”
Sweetie Belle sniffed and hugged her sister, “it’s alright Rarity.”
Both sisters clung to each other. Then a slight cough reminded Rarity that they weren’t alone. Still hugging her sister, she looked over at the scrutinizing gazes of Twilight and Princess Luna. After a very hard look at the fashion mare, Luna sighed with relief and said, “you are free of the Queen’s control. I am impressed you managed to break it all by yourself.”
Rarity suddenly remembered something and she blanched.
“We have to stop Queen Chrysalis!” Rarity said in a serious voice.
“Uh, yeah Rarity, why did you think we came to get you?” Twilight said sarcastically.
“No,” Rarity said in a panicked voice, “you don’t understand, I just received a missive from the Queen herself! She’s accelerated her plans! She’s going to lead her invasion of Equestria tomorrow!!!”
Applejack turned to see her sister crying. No, not just crying, sobbing her eyes out. Applejack’s eyes widened, how could she say something so mean, so cruel to her own little sister!?
“Apple Bloom!” Applejack said, desperate to get her sister’s attention. She didn’t notice as the green glow in her eyes died off.
Apple Bloom didn’t look at her, she was still sobbing over her big sister’s insults.
“I’m sorry Apple Bloom, I don’t know what came over me. It was like something was forcin me to say mean things to you and to anypony who dares to disobey the Que-“ Applejack’s eyes widened as the realization of the spell she’d just been under fully came to her.
Without further ado, the mare leapt up onto the boxes where her sister was still crying and quickly ran to her. She offered her sister a hug, which Apple Bloom (after a moment’s hesitation) gratefully accepted. Applejack stroked her sister’s hair as she spoke soft words of comfort to her.
“Sssshhhhh. I didn’t mean a word of what I said. You are most cute, smart, and nicest little pony I have ever laid eyes on. I love you Apple Bloom, don’t you ever forget that.”
Apple Bloom hiccupped as she embraced her sister. Then Applejack looked away and found herself staring into Princess Cadence’s eyes. Applejack looked away sheepishly, but after a few seconds studying, Cadence breathed a sigh of relief.
“Good, the effects of the spell have fully worn of. Now we must go and meet the others, if all has gone well, then Rarity and Rainbow Dash will have been rescued.”
After a few seconds hesitation, Applejack nodded. All four proceeded to head back to the basement of the bar that they'd cured the Cutie Mark Crusaders in.