The heavy metal slot positioned at the bottom of the door opened with a loud clanking sound. Bowls of pale gruel rushed inside, pushed by magic. Lieutenant Indigo Breeze watched the half spheres glide across the floor until one found itself in front of one of captured guards they were meant for. Indigo herself was at the back of the large, moldy cell and so her bowl was the last to reach its target.
The pegasus mare looked down at the bowl with no discernable emotion. She simply took up in her hooves, chugged it, and placed on the floor next to her, in a large pile of bowls she had collected. After this action was complete and the guard looked content with it, she huddled back into the corner she had designated for herself.
“Dammit… another one gone.” One of the mercenaries grumbled, collecting the other bowls that had been handed back to him by the other captured guards.
“If you’re so mad about it, go in and get it.” The Earth pony mare next to him goaded.
The stallion snorted. “Ha-ha, funny. You see, Kindled Glow, unlike your parents the night you were conceived, I know when not to do something stupid.” The stallion shut the metal slot.
“The last guy to go in there and try to get those bowls back ended up with a broken neck,” He continued. “Made worse by the fact he lived, he’s still in the infirmary with a neck brace.”
“Chicken.” Kindled Glow chuckled playfully as she trotted down the hall.
“I am not!” The stallion cried out as he ran down the hall to chase the mare down.
Inside the cell, Indigo had listened intently to the guards before they had left. The mare huffed in slightly uncaring way. Looking about her cell, the pegasus examined the box-shaped prison and took in the fact is it was unchanged from yesterday, and the day before that, and so on.
She was quite familiar with the cell, much to her contempt. No windows, lit by bolted in magical ceiling lamps, heavy metal door the only way out, single slot for food distribution, floor was damp and could be easily slipped on. She knew every inch of the cell, down to the slight dripping leak in the far left corner from the door.
Indigo turned her attention to the rest of her guards, huddled about doing whatever pleased them. Still alive, Indigo pondered, every last one of us… The mare shifted, going to her stack of bowls and organizing them the way she liked. They clearly don’t need us, yet we’re still alive. There’s something higher up behind this. It isn’t just a bunch random mercenary group looking for a quick ransom. Indigo smiled slightly at her neatly stacked bowl pile, it was a small comfort during this trying time.
Indigo turned to see one of her guards looking at her. She remembered his name as Precision Shot. “Yes guard?” She asked plainly.
“You have any idea why this blockheads are keeping us here?”
Indigo stood up, stretching her limbs. “Because we’re an inconvenience. Their real target is Lady Chrysalis, seeing as she’s not here. Why they want her, I’ve no clue.”
“Shouldn’t we try to get out of here and help her?” Precision Shot asked.
“Before you can jump the fence you must first know how you’re getting off the ground.” Indigo replied, turning around to check up on her bowls again as well as some blankets the mercs had given to them. Hmmm… fifteen bowls, and eight blankets between the lot of us… Good, good. That should be enough.
Precision Shot cocked his head to the side, furrowing an eyebrow. “But ma’am, we can’t just…”
“Fortune favors the bold, but survival rewards the smart.”
The stallion sighed. “Ok, I get it ma’am. Still… any idea when we’re getting out of here?”
Indigo turned to the guard. “I dunno know, when’s dinner again?”
Cadence scoffed the image in the mirror; she hated the way she looked while in disguise. Black wasn’t her color and the deep monotone voice the pendant gave her didn’t match the outward appearance. Regardless, the Alicorn dealt with it if it meant Chrysalis would be taken down.
She reached for the voice-altering pendant on her makeshift vanity. After placing the pendant on, she looked at the wooden boards and broken mirror that made up her vanity. She missed her vanity at the Palace, but that didn’t deter her really. What she truly missed was the letters from her beloved husband, Shining Armor. She hadn’t gotten a letter from him in quite awhile and it bothered her, Shining was always on time with writing to her.
Cadence was contemplating this when the door of her room opened and Lightning Dust stepped in. “Chrysalis is all tied up again, we can begin the interrogation anytime you like.”
“Good.” Cadence replied. “I’ll be there in a minute.”
Lightning nodded and left, shutting the door behind her. Cadence returned her gaze to the mirror, looking back at eyes she didn’t recognize. They were a scarlet purple color and were noticeably dark, brooding, and full of hate.
Cadence looked at this image of herself for a minute before chuckling. “Heh, this magical disguise Lightning employs really works well, I can’t tell it’s me at all.” Getting up and going to her door, Cadence readied herself for the interrogation.
The mare was fully unaware that the spell that made up Lightning Dust’s magical disguise had no effect on one’s eyes.
Once again Chrysalis found herself bound and gagged, being dragged down some hallway by unknown ponies. The Changeling Queen felt quite the annoying pang of pain as her body bumped along the ground. That was one of the few feelings Chrysalis had at this point, all others stomped out from repetition of such actions and from the still brightly burning hope of rescue.
Chrysalis made no noticeable expressions as she was thrown against the same old pole in the same old interrogation room. She didn’t care as they bound her to the giant metal rivet and stood at attention, waiting for their leaders to appear. It was, of course, a very intricate ploy. The mare believed that acting tough in front of her brutish captives would give the appearance as if she was unbreakable, thus dampening their efforts. She also didn’t want to give them the pleasure of seeing her squirm. Besides, their torture methods were subpar at best. Chrysalis knew of, and had seen, much worse done to prisoners of the more… violent Queens of the Collective.
The clanging sound made by an opening metal door prompted Chrysalis to smirk. “Back again?” She asked coyly. “Geez, with how much you’re visiting me I’d say you might have a thing…”
Chrysalis’s head jerked to the side as she felt magic slap her hard. It would certainly bruise her carapace. “I have no feeling towards you but hate bug breath.” The abnormally deep voice (owned by Cadence) replied. “And when I get what I want you’ll pay.”
Chrysalis spun here head towards the source of the voice and smirk again. “Did you come up with that by yourself or did you read it in a fairy tale book?”
Chrysalis jerked in pain as another slap of magic hit her hard. Even behind the pitch black of her blindfold, Chrysalis could tell her vision blurred considerably. The Changeling huffed in pain. “Newly hatched Changeling larva hit harder than you.”
Cadence gritted her teeth, igniting her horn for another blow. “You bi-.”
Lightning Dust grabbed at Cadence’s arm and tugged at it. “Stop it! Do you want a repeat of last time? It’s not much of an interrogation if the prisoner is knocked out before we’re even five minutes in!”
Cadence pulled her arm away from Lightning’s grasp and nodded. “You’re right… sorry.”
“Well, I’m glad that lover’s quarrel was settled quickly.” Chrysalis mocked openly, trying to make her captor lose it.
“Nice try bug, but you’ll not make a fool of me twice.”
“You don’t need me to make a fool of yourself.” Chrysalis replied mockingly. “And you’ll feel like an even bigger fool when I get out of here.”
Cadence snorted. “Is that so? And what makes you think you’re getting out hmm? Celestia is all the way in Canterlot, who do you think will save you?”
“Princess Cadence will.” Chrysalis replied defiantly.
Cadence laughed openly. “HA! That fool? You think that pink slut could find us? She couldn’t find her way out of a paper bag.” The pink Alicorn felt weird talking about herself like this, but it was necessary to keep up the façade. “Well, that is if she stopped lifting her tail to every stallion who wants a f-.”
“Don’t you dare talk about her like that, scum!” Chrysalis shouted angrily. “She’s got more greatness in one strand of hair than you do in your entire body!”
“It’s not nice to lie.” Cadence growled. To be complemented by Chrysalis was an insult to the Alicorn and she wasn’t about to be insulted.
Chrysalis was about to retort when Lightning Dust stepped in again. “Can we please get back to the task at hoof? We need to find out Chrysalis’s plan for Celestia so we can stop it.”
“THERE IS NO PLAN!” Chrysalis shouted. “I love her and I just want to be happy! IS THAT A CRIME?!”
Cadence was about to respond yes, but stopped herself. All her life she was taught that all living things deserve happiness; it was a fundamental part of life itself. No matter the womb, no matter the gender or creed, all deserved some bright light in their world. Was it any different for Changelings? They breathed, they thought, they had ambitions (if few in number).
Cadence looked at her hoof. What am I doing? She asked. She was the Princess of Love and this… this wasn’t her. She spread love; she didn’t take it away. She always fostered any love she found, so why not the love between Celestia and Chrysalis? Was she wrong?
Cadence looked up to see Lightning Dust looking at her, motioning to her. Cadence nodded and walked to her, away from Chrysalis. “What is it?”
“You don’t look so good. We could end it for today, if you're not up to it. We can start up again tomorrow.”
Cadence nodded. “Yeah… yeah, let’s do that. I… need to think.” Without waiting for a reply, Cadence left gloomily, her mind a spiraling vortex of doubt and uncertainty.
Back inside Cadence’s room, the mare sat at a makeshift table, swirling the soup in the bowl in front of her. The cloud of gloom had not left her, and she sat in silent contemplation. Finally, she sighed, and resigned to speak her thoughts to herself.
“Am I really in the wrong? Have I had an error in judgment?”
The mare didn’t know how to respond to those questions, she just kept swirling her soup. It now occurred to Cadence that she had never given Chrysalis a chance. She had automatically written her off as a danger and an evil, without even waiting to see if such things were truth.
It was a bitter pill, but one Cadence swallowed. “I… I’ve been a fool. I can’t condemn a pony, even a Changeling, for past mistakes. I’ve got to… I’ve got to give Chrysalis a chance. I may not like it… but I have to, it's what any Princess worth her crown would do.”
Cadence seemed to calm down as she inhaled deeply and sighed. Finding some comfort finally, the mare looked to her soup (she was actually rather hungry). She took her spoon with magic and brought it up to her mouth, she didn’t even notice how much of the ethereal aura surrounding the spoon was once again cornflower blue. Cadence blew on the hot soup and was about to take a sip.
The door to Cadence’s room burst open to reveal one of Lightning Dust’s mercs. “Cadence! We need you right now!”
Cadence shot her eyes up from her food. “Why? What's happened?”
“Dinner time guards-ponies!”
The unicorn merc in charge of delivering food opened the slot of the heavy metal door and slid some gruel bowls in. That’s when he was met with pleas of help.
“We need your help!”
“She needs medical care!”
“She’s going to die!”
“The hell’s that racket?!” The guard shouted.
“Indigo Breeze is sick!” One of the guards responded. “She needs help!”
The merc snorted. “You think I’m gonna fall for one of the oldest tricks in the book?”
“No. That was just to distract you while we dug ourselves out.”
The merc gasped. “Wait what?!” The unicorn’s horn quickly ignited and he opened the door, spending in a magical wave of energy that locked the guard’s magical shackles.
Opening the door, the merc looked inside the cell and sure enough there was a large hole in one corner of the cell. “Oi! What the hell is this!” Sticking his head in the cell, he was able to see all the guards were magically stuck to the wall.
“What’s going on Bracer?”
The mentioned stallion turned to see other mercs down the hall. “They tried to dig themselves out!”
“WHAT?!” The mercs shouted as they galloped down to the cell.
The mercs gathered together and marched into the cell to secure it, eyeing the stuck guards carefully. Bracer saw Indigo Breeze at the back of the cell. He stomped up to her. “Did you honestly think that this little scheme a yours would work?!”
“Sorta, yeah.” Indigo said plainly.
“Well it didn’t!” Bracer growled. “So what you got to say about that?!”
Indigo smiled. “I’d have to say: thank you ever so much for going along with part two of my escape attempt so elegantly.”
The stallion cocked an eyebrow in confusion. His confusion however, would be resolved less than second later.