Princess Cadence tensed as she heard footsteps in the bar above. She’d managed to get her group back without any trouble and now was waiting for Princess Luna’s group.
The door slid open and Cadence magically charged her horn in case she needed to fight. Thankfully, she didn't need to. Princess Luna led her small entourage of ponies down into the basement of the bar. After checking everyone’s eyes to make sure they weren’t tinted green they all exchanged notes.
Scootaloo asked the first question before anyone else could, “where’s Rainbow Dash?”
“We could not rescue Rainbow Dash, it was too risky,” informed Luna after a short period of silence.
“Risky in more ways than one,” she thought as she remembered what had happened.
Princess Luna and Twilight Sparkle peered cautiously out of a doorway into the training area where guards usually ran drills. They could see Rainbow Dash in the middle, organizing the Changelings and ordering them to do drills and practice flying maneuvers. Hundreds of Changelings were in the area and Rainbow Dash was sitting right in the middle, there was no way to get to her without attracting the attention of the whole horde of Changelings.
Queen Chrysalis was inspecting Rainbow Dash’s work personally. Luna and Twilight both watched as the Changelings paraded and flew about, showcasing whatever Rainbow Dash had managed to teach them in a few short hours.
Queen Chrysalis did not particularly interested however. Rainbow Dash landed right next to the Queen.
“And that formation is called the “Major’s Head,” Rainbow Dash informed the Queen enthusiastically. She went on about the various things she had taught the Changelings, failing to notice the obvious lack of interest being shown by the Queen.
Then the Queen suddenly seemed to have an idea, a mischievous smile played along her face. A small burst of magic lit her deformed horn and it suddenly hit Rainbow Dash (not that she seemed to notice.)
“-and that one is called the Manticore’s stinger and-“ ZAP! –“that riiight there beees the Hounds o Hades formation. I’m a thinkin you of all souls would appreciate a wee look at the new attacks ah’ve been a thinking of. I call it, “the Valkyries!””
Both Luna and Twilight clapped their hooves to their mouths, giggles escaping in spite of themselves. Luna desperately tried to control herself and not allow the Royal Canterlot Voice give them away. As it was, they clutched their sides while small giggles escaped their lips no matter how hard they tried to stop it. They then discreetly removed themselves from the vicinity, not wanting to wait until the Changelings found them.
“The important thing is this,” Princess Luna continued, “we’ve received some disturbing information.”
The Princess turned to Rarity for an explanation and Rarity cleared her throat.
“Before I was liberated from the Queen’s horrible mind-control spell she had set me to make uniforms as you all well know. I was also tasked to make a personalized outfit for the Queen herself. Now that I think about it, the instructions she gave me were all wrong. I mean how can pink frills and lace fit in with her dark color scheme. Really how can she be so-”
She stopped speaking when she heard Twilight and Applejack clear their throats loudly and pointedly. Rarity smiled apologetically, “right, sorry. Anyway, before you three arrived I received a letter from the Queen. She’d originally tasked me to design for her whole army as well as herself. But the letter said that since the rebels, you six, were still at large within Canterlot and liable to compromise security, that our invasion would be pushed ahead of schedule. I was to focus on Queen Chrysalis’s outfit only because the invasion of Equestria is to happen tomorrow at dawn!”
Silence hung in the air as the news sunk in. Then Rarity continued on in a panicked voice “but she doesn’t merely intend to conquer all of Equestria. She plans to brainwash every solitary Pony, Gryphon, just anything she finds. She’ll then have her Changelings feed off the whole country’s love and once she’s sucked Equestria dry, she’ll move onto the next country!”
Nobody spoke as they contemplated this new turn of events. Then Applejack spoke up, “well, the answers simple ain’t it? We gotta get out of Canterlot and warn everypony!”
“And just how do you suggest we do that Applejack?” Twilight asked sarcastically. “There are what eight of us here and how many Changelings? We wouldn’t even be able to warn half of the outlying towns before the Changelings swarmed over us all.”
“I’m just spitballin ideas Twilight, as far as I can tell that’s the best plan we’ve got.”
As the two argued on, Princess Luna thought about that line of thought. What if she did manage to lead them out of Canterlot and warn a good deal of the Ponies in Equestria . . . then what? Queen Chrysalis wouldn’t be satisfied until she had as much love to feast on as possible. Luna wasn’t sure what would happen what with Celestia being under Chrysalis’s control. She was certain that the Queen wouldn’t make Celestia mess with the day/night cycle, she had no reason to. To do so might disrupt sleep cycles and doing so would make ponies irritable and perhaps would provide less nourishment with their love.
What if, she just left? What if she just gathered as many ponies as possible and simply left Equestria? Wouldn’t that have been what she wanted, she could start anew, and then nobody would ever forget the great Princess Luna who delivered as many Ponies as she could from the malice of the Queen of the Changelings. Nightmare Moon would be the memory and the great Princess Luna would be what everypony remembered.
Nopony noticed as Princess Luna shivered, there was no way in the sun or the moon that she was going to leave her sister in the hands of the Changelings forever!
“I know what we must do first in any event,” Princess Luna interjected into the conversation. The other’s eyes turned towards her and she continued, “we must retrieve the Elements of Harmony. They are our only hope of ending this in one fell swoop. And even if we do not have all the bearers of the Elements of Harmony, it would be preferable that we had the Elements themselves so that we may try and rescue the bearers later without having to worry about getting the Elements as well.”
After a few moments though, Twilight nodded, “the last time I saw the Elements was when we gave them back to Princess Celestia after defeating Discord. She keeps them locked up in a vault that, as far as I know, only she can open.”
Princess Luna nodded, “she taught me how open it as well. With any luck, Queen Chrysalis will have been too busy consolidating control over Canterlot to bother with the Elements. We have to sneak into the castle before the Invasion commences.”
After a few more minutes debate, they all agreed to a plan and set off towards Canterlot Castle.
Pegasus Brighttail was bored. He and his fellow guardspony were stationed at the most boring door of the castle. Ever since they had come under new management by the Queen they had been stationed there. It was especially boring because nothing exciting ever happened to them.
Assumptions are dangerous things to make and this was no exception. What looked like two orbs of pure concentrated darkness came out of an alleyway and hit both guardsponies in the face. They stumbled about, staggering as they tried to see to no avail.
Then, they heard several ponies gallop up to them and almost immediately, they two guards felt something very hard collide with their heads. Both guards slumped to the ground, unconsciousness overtaking them.
The small group quickly hid the two unconscious guards and moved into the castle, careful not to make any noise. The castle was unnervingly quiet. There were noises off in the distance, but it all seemed muted and their own breathing seemed louder.
Luna led the way towards where she knew the Elements of Harmony were kept. While they occasionally had to hide from a guard or two the trip seemed to be going very well, which worried her immensely.
But there was nothing she could do about it without stopping to explain all her thoughts, which was very unwise in a castle full of your enemies.
Finally, they arrived at the room containing the Elements of Harmony.
The room was deathly still. Nopony could hear the slightest sound. Luna entered first, her eyes piercing the darkness. The room was clear. The small group moved into it and Luna hurried quickly to the door. It was surprisingly still sealed.
Cautious of some sort of trap, Luna inserted her horn into the lock. She activated the internal mechanisms and heard the lock click. The doors opened to reveal a small box on a pedestal.
Still cautious, Luna stepped forward and pushed the box open. There, to her great relief, sat the Elements of Harmony, all untouched.
“Thank you for that. I wasn’t sure if I would ever get that door unlocked,” said a very unwelcome voice.
The group turned and saw to their horror that Queen Chrysalis was standing in the doorway with Celestia, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, and an uncountable amount of Changelings behind her.