The Canterlot Castle Gardens
A brisk wind wormed its way through the night in Canterlot. Normally, this wind may have been considered an inconvenient nip of cold, but tonight it was a nice offset to the current bout of heat that seemed to be hitting the city. This kind of cold was one Luna would have liked to have, instead of the personal one she was getting.
“Please… We can make this work.” The Lunar Princess said glumly, placing her fore hooves on the lightly ornate lawn table and shifting in her just-big-enough chair. “It doesn’t have to end this way.”
Discord, sitting directly across the table, sighed. “You know that’s not going to happen Luna.”
“And why not?!” Luna asked in panicked way. “Why can’t this work?! We make a good pairing!”
The chaotic god sighed. “Because Luna, all we’ve had is a physical relationship, full of hot and nasty Alicorn on Draconequus sex.” He looked up to the sky contemplatively. “I want more. A real relationship, a stable, secure, and consistent one based off of more than sexual desire.”
Luna, some tears in her eyes, held back a sob. “What? Why would you want that? That kind of relationship makes no sense for your kind of personality!”
Discord got up from his chair and turned to leave. “Exactly, it makes no sense for me to be in a consistent relationship, and that’s why it’s gotta be that way, because there's no fun in making sense.” The Draconequus began to walk off into the darkness, not once looking back at Luna. “Goodbye Luna… I’ll never forget the hot, nasty sex.” And with that, he was gone.
“DISCORD!!!” Luna shouted in the night, tears streaming down her face as she reached out with one hoof after the mishmash god, as if that would bring him back. “DISCORD!!!”
“HEY!!!” Blueblood (who had returned to the castle for a few days) opened the rafters and stuck his head out of his bedroom window; the stallion had on face cream and curlers were weaved into his blond mane. “Hey! Shut up! Ponies are trying to sleep! Oh boo hoo you got dumped! That doesn’t mean you get to go off on some wailing spree! There are others ponies in the castle! It’s not all about Luna! Do you see me crying every time I get rejected or dumped? No! Cause Maker knows if that were the case you’d never get a good night’s sleep! So shush!” The stallion grabbed the rafters and began closing them. “Geez, inconsiderate.” And with a silent shut he closed the rafters and returned to slumber.
Luna sniffed crestfallenly, wiping the tears from her eyes. “Blueblood’s… Blueblood’s right.” She inhaled deeply, calming herself slightly. “Still… Still gonna haunt his dreams though…”
Equestria was a well-explored country, always under the watchful eye of its benevolent rulers but that didn’t mean one couldn’t hide if they really wanted to. That is where Cadence found herself now, in one of the lowly places of the world that escaped the eyes of the powers-that-be for the moment (as well as the lover's quarrel recently had). The royal Alicorn, wrapped from head to hoof in a shabby and thoroughly pathetic looking cloak, had a brisk stride as she came up to the place she had come to. It was an inn, or brothel, or whorehouse, Cadence wasn’t sure. It’s wooden frame looked rotted and made it seem like a truly despicable dwelling.
Finally reaching the heavy bolted down at the front, Cadence looked around to ensure she hadn’t been followed (she was certain of her stealthy escape, but caution was wise). Seeing no one, Cadence gave the entryway three heavy whacks with her naked hoof. A moment passed before a previously closed slit on the door opened up, revealing a stallion’s hazel colored eye.
“Hullo? Who is it? What d’you want?”
“To be let in.” Cadence responded matter-of-factly, and with an undertone of mockery for added effect.
“What’s the password miss?”
Cadence grunted and looked away. “I don’t know any password…”
The stallion snorted. “Then you ain’t getting in. Good day.” The slit began to lessen in size.
“Wait!” Cadence shouted. The stallion halted his closing. Cadence took on a sultry visage. “Isn’t there another way I could get in?” She asked suggestively.
“What you have in mind?” The stallion asked, intrigued.
Cadence smiled, having edged her way towards the door closed enough to get her horn passed the obvious anti-magic enchantments. The mare kept her same suggestive look as her horn lit up, grabbing the door stallion’s neck and choking him. “How about you let me in, or I choke you until the air runs out. I wonder how long you’ll last before you croak?”
Cadence heard the sound of unlocking mechanisms and saw the door creak open. Releasing the stallion, the Alicorn could hear his body hit the floor and the loud gasp as he finally inhaled. Pushing open the door and walking inside, Cadence took in her surroundings. It was like any bottom floor of an inn: a bar on one side and an open space for tables and chairs on the other. A fire blazed in the open side’s hearth, warming the shady looking patrons of the ‘establishment’. Those ruffians, Cadence had no interest in. Instead, the disguised mare walked instead to the back wall, near a flight of stairs leading to the rented rooms, where booths were carved in the wooden wall.
Finding the booth she wanted, Cadence made her way for it, making sure to keep at least a hoof’s distant from any patrons (pickpockets and whatnot). Making it to her destination and nudging her way in, Cadence rested against the hard bench of the booth. Across from her sat a pony, obscured completely by shadows. Cadence waited for a moment, when no dialogue was exchanged, she decided to begin.
“I thank you for meeting me here.” The Alicorn started. “And I’m glad you are willing to assist me with my… ‘problem’.”
The pony looked at Cadence, its gamboge eyes showing malice. “What can I say? Your offer was rather alluring.”
Cadence analyzed the creature. It was a mare of athletic build; she could easily see that despite the shadows. The voice was a confident one, a lot like Rainbow Dash Cadence mentally commented. The difference was that this voice sounded as if the confidence had been kicked out of her, then returned brutally. Ignoring this, Cadence simply smiled at the mare. “Well, I need a lot of help dealing with this issue. I must admit though I’ve never dealt with mercenaries before… You’re positive that you’ll be able to help me get the job done?”
The mare slammed the mug she had been enjoying down on the table and scoffed, wiping the liquid mess from her snout. “Yeah, me and my boys will help you bring down this Changeling bitch of yours. Don’t know why you’re working with a Changeling… we almost killed him when he came close to our base of operations.”
Cadence chuckled. “Oh don’t worry he’s trustworthy. Also, you’d never have killed him” Cadence’s expression darkened. “I assure you of that.”
The mercenary seemed to take no offense from the implication that her group couldn’t handle one Changeling, but it was hard to tell. “Sure whatever. So, where’s the payment?”
Cadence nodded and reached into her cloak. Scrounging around a little, the Alicorn produce a large sack that looked full to bursting. The mare dropped it onto the table with a loud thump and the clank of metal. The mercenary looked at it and reached for it and opened the bag (Cadence noted her light opal coat).
Inside was gold, and lots of it. There was more gold than most ponies would know what to do with. Cadence smiled manipulatively as she watched the mare looked over the gold. Cadence knew she’d need help to bring down Chrysalis, and mercenaries would be a great help with their loose morals. Obviously, the Alicorn couldn’t use royal treasury gold because it could be easily tracked. This is where blackmailing Fleur De Lis came in. With all the gold that noble had Cadence could easily pay for all the extra help she needed. She had sent Shape Shift out to find some mercenaries for hire. The best of the best was already employed, but this would do.
“Well?” Cadence asked.
“It’s good.” The mercenary responded. “This, plus the royal boon you promised, and you got yourself a mercenary band’s loyalty.”
“Good.” Cadence replied. “Now about the boon…”
“That’s for me personally.” The merc replied. “I only want one thing: revenge.”
“That makes two of us.” Cadence admitted.
“Good, so it’s not out of the question.” The mare said. “I want revenge on the bitch who wronged me. Once, I was at the top, the best of the best. Until she came along. She took everything from me! And so all I want is revenge…” Lightning Dust brought her head from the shadows, hatred in her eyes gleaming like a sun. “I want Rainbow Dash to pay for having me kicked out of the Wonderbolts Academy.”
Cadence knew this mare; Twilight had spoken of her in a letter before. She was an arrogant, brash, and uncaring thing that had endangered others to achieve her frivolous goals. Twilight’s pegasus friend Rainbow Dash had shown her up and revealed to the Academy staff her inadequate behavior. Lightning had been kicked out of the Academy as a result, shamed and not able to hold a job most likely. Apparently, she’d found a new purpose: selling herself out as a mercenary. At least she didn’t become a whore lifting her tail for any stallion with bits, Cadence’s mind interjected to lessen the Princess’s already low opinion of the mare in front of her.
Cadence did not let the distaste show, and simply nodded. “Oh course, I can get you Rainbow Dash and you can do whatever you want to her, without fear of being reprimanded by the law.” Lightning smiled darkly at this. In truth, Cadence was going to betray Lightning in the end and terminate her existence. She was a pony Equestria would not miss, and the Alicorn would have no one going after one of her sister-in-law’s best friends. It was, of course, also to cover Cadence’s own tracks. But that oddly enough took a backseat in her priorities.
“So… Shall we catch ourselves a Changeling?” Cadence asked.
“Give me a when and where.” Lightning responded.
“Don’t worry, you’ll have that soon enough.” Cadence explained. “In three days, I’ll be taking a ‘vacation’ to the countryside to get some fresh air. After a day or so, I’ll invite Chrysalis to visit, only she won’t make it, will she?”
Lightning laughed out loud, gaining a few stares from others. “You’ve already got this down pat don’t you? Well good! Let’s do it!”
“To our new partnership.” Cadence remarked, using her magic to teleport a mug to her hoof.
Lightning grabbed her own mug and slammed it against Cadence’s. “To a horrible end to those we hate.”
A poor choice of words… Cadence thought as she brought the mug to her lips and chugged it as she watched the mare she had prejudiced disapproval for.
Four Days Later, Road Leading to South West Equestria
Chrysalis inhaled deeply, taking in the fresh air provided to her. The Changeling Queen was travelling down a well-used road leading to the vacation spot Cadence was at. She was being taken there in the traditional royal manner: a guard drawn carriage. Unlike Celestia’s, however, this one didn’t fly (Chrysalis wanted to travel on the ground for aesthetic reasons). Other than the four guards pulling the carriage, another four were stationed at the four corners of the one vehicle convoy with one sitting beside Chrysalis as well.
“We’ll be there in a short while Lady Chrysalis.” The guard next to Chrysalis said.
“Thank you, Lieutenant Breeze.” Chrysalis responded, nodding at the white furred, indigo mane pegasus mare Indigo Breeze. “It’ll be good to relax with Cadence for a time while Celestia catches up with her royal duties.”
“Of course ma’am.” Indigo agreed, readjusting her chest plate to hide the large scar that went down the mare’s chest. The guard could sense the Changeling watching her. “Hydra attack, if you’re wondering. Barely got out alive. Luckily, the thing lost interest after I lost consciousness.”
“Very luckily indeed.” Chrysalis nodded, returning to her view of the road.
Down the road, behind large rolling hills on the side of the road, sat Lightning Dust, Cadence, and Shape Shift along with over a dozen and a half of Dust’s mercenaries. Hiding in some bush dotting the top of their hill, Lightning and Cadence spied at the carriage coming their way.
“Alright, there they are. Are you mercs ready Lightning?” Cadence turned to the disgraced Wonderbolt hopeful.
To her credit, Dust could easily be seen formulating a plan of action, as she had been for several days. “Yeah, but we need your Changeling…”
“He’s not my Changeling.” Cadence snarled, disliking the thought of Shape Shift being a slave.
Lightning’s eyes rolled. “Whatever. Look, I need him to disguise himself as a pony and pretend to be run over. That’ll stop them for a minute and cause the distraction we need to jump them.”
Cadence nodded, calming down. “Alright. Shape Shift.” The Changeling zipped to Cadence side, saluting. “I need you to transform into a pony and pretend to be hit by Chrysalis’ carriage. Can you do that?”
WHAT KIND OF PONY DO YOU WANT ME TO BE?
“It doesn’t matter…”
IT KINDA DOES, I NEED DIRECTION RIGHT?
“Bug’s got a point.”
“Shut it Lightning. Look Shape Shift, just pick something common alright?”
“It doesn’t… I don’t know, something cliché common…”
RIGHT! Shape Shift nodded and rushed from the bush, hiding behind a large rock close to the road. Just as the carriage neared the Changeling he jumped out, green magic enveloping him as he shape-shifted.
Chrysalis and Indigo had to ram their fore hooves into the front of the carriage to avoid being flown forward. “What… What just happened?!” Chrysalis asked, shaken slightly.
“Good question.” Indigo asked. “Stay here.” The mare motioned to the Changeling Queen and jumped out of the carriage, making quick strides to the front. “What’s going on? Why’d we stop?”
“We hit somepony.” One guard replied.
“WHAT?!” Indigo shouted fearfully. “How did that happen?! Weren’t you paying attention?!” The Lieutenant pushed passed the others, trying to get to the wounded pony.
“We didn’t even see her in time.” One guard chimed in. “She just appeared out of nowhere.”
Indigo finally got through her guards and looked down at the wounded mare. “What the…” Before the Lieutenant lay an Alicorn, with a black coat and fiery red mane.
One guard chewed his hoof nervously. “Oh crap… she’s an Alicorn! That means she’s a princess right? MAKER WE KILLED A PRINCESS!!!”
“She’s still breathing featherbrain.” Another guard chided.
“Check her vitals!” Indigo ordered. “Get her help! Let's move ponies, no time to waste!”
Back at the bush, Cadence was peering through the binoculars at her buggy assistant as he distracted the guard. “What in the hell did he transform into?”
“You asked for a common cliché.” Lightning Dust interjected as she looked through her own binoculars. “Obviously he is making a joke, though I think it’s in bad taste.” She turned to her allies. “Ok guys, let’s move, fast and quick, like Swift Pace.”
The mercenaries chuckled at the jab to their companion's sexual performance. Getting serious quickly, the mercs moved into position to attack the guards. Once positioned, they waited for Lightning’s orders. The mare lifted her hoof up and held it. A breathless moment passed until Lightning threw her hoof down, signaling the other mercs, who burst from their hiding spots and attacked the guards.
What happened next was a fast blur for Indigo Breeze. One second she was trying to awaken the downed Alicorn and the next she heard other ponies rushing her group. The mercs, however, had underestimated the guards. A pegasus stallion rushed Indigo, only for the mare to returned the favor and clothesline him, bring her hoof up into the bottom of his chin, and down him quickly. Numbers held with the mercs, however. Three guards were down in the first minute and that number was soon going to increase.
It took Chrysalis a few seconds to realize what was happening. Any of the Changeling Queen’s efforts to help were in vain as she felt a prick in her neck less than a minute into the attack. Her world became blurry and deafness began taking over. The last thing she heard was the muffled sentence: Sleep tight Princess Bug Breath.
Indigo gasped as she saw an opal-coated mare stick a needle in Chrysalis’ neck, causing the Changeling to slump. Indigo tossed the unconscious body of the fourth merc she’d downed into another attacker, with the obvious attempt to escape the fray and launch herself to save Chrysalis. The mare was stopped cold by a blast of magic in the back. The Lieutenant slumped to the floor. The pegasus was able to keep her eyes open a few seconds longer to watch her guards get downed. Finally however, darkness overtook her.
“Too damn easy.” Lightning remarked as she looked over the recent battlefield.
“True.” Cadence, who had stayed out of the fight, agreed. “But then again you only won thanks to the element of surprise. Even with your numbers, had the guards been ready, you’d have no chance.”
Lightning scoffed. “Yeah, well that’s why we didn’t attack them directly isn’t it?” Cadence simply grunted in response.
The battle had been extremely one-sided. The mercs had rushed the guards down a hill, having not only high ground but also increased momentum as they slammed into their opponents. If that wasn’t bad enough, the royal guards had been all pegasi or earth ponies, meaning the mercenary’s six unicorns easily rained spells upon the unsuspecting equines and took them down quick. The guards had still put up a good fight; twelve of the attacking mercs were on the ground unconscious or holding their beaten selves.
Luckily, there had been no causalities on either side. Cadence had specifically ordered this from Lightning, and she knew the royal guards would refrain from such acts unless truly necessary. All in all, it had been a very clean job.
Shape Shift, who had downed Lieutenant Breeze with a blast of magic in the back, had reverted to his normal self and was helping the mercenaries pile the unconscious guards onto a cart they had brought (they couldn’t have the guards running off after awakening and telling Celestia what had happened could they?).
Cadence stepped through the battlefield until she found herself at the royal carriage, Chrysalis’ body motionless save for the slowly rising and falling of breathing. The Alicorn stared at the Changeling for a good while as the mess of the fight was cleared out, loathing and disgust all over her face.
“I should kill you right here and now.” The Princess snarled. “I could just end it, it be so easy…” Cadence felt her sick looking magic flow from her horn; black, green, and purple magic streaming like an inferno from the pink bone.
“But…” The mare uttered, controlling her magic. “It would break Celestia’s heart. So no… you don’t die yet. No, I’m going to prove your depravity and when Celestia finally knows how evil you truly are then, and only then, will I slowly bring my strongest magic across your throat and watch your acid blood pour out like a leaky faucet.”
Lightning Dust handed a guard to one of her mercs, pretending not to hear Cadence’s words. “Damn… and I thought Nightmare Moon was the sadistic one.” Lightning looked around and noted her group’s completion of the ‘cleanup’. “Alright. That’s everypony here! Grizzled Hoof, Swift Pace, Steadied Step, Thorn Rose, strap yourselves up to the royal carriage and pull it to the base. We’ll dump it afterwards. Let’s go you slackers, move!”
The mercs moved as their leader commanded (even if most were still sore after the fight). Lightning motioned to Cadence to get moving and the mare nodded. She took one last glance at Chrysalis. The Alicorn gave the body a dark, sarcastic smile. “Until the moment when I’m the last thing you see while alive on this earth.”
With that, the Alicorn left to join her transitory, and most certainly brutish, allies.