The Luna Memorial Hospital in Upper Canterlot was the best of the best in medical care in the mountainside city. Cadence had been taken to it as soon as she had collapsed from the news about the Crystal Empire’s fall to Queen Carapace. The pink Alicorn of the Love had been there the entirety of the day and the whole of the night.
Celestia and Luna had, reluctantly, left her and Chrysalis at the hospital for care as the sisters had to attend to their royal duties. Leaving Blueblood in charge (an action that made Luna shiver), the Alicorn sisters now trotted briskly to the hospital where their niece now resided.
“Why is it that everything named after me is either dark and scary, or a place where they keep the dead and dying?” Luna looked to her sister as she asked her question when the hospital carrying her namesake came into view.
Celestia rolled her eyes. “For the millionth time Luna, the medical care for the common ponies is much more effective than it was a thousand years ago. Going to the hospital doesn’t mean you’re going to die.”
“It’s the principle of it sister.” Luna replied.
“Why do I bother?” Celestia asked, shaking her head.
Several royal guards met the sisters at the front doors. After being saluted and cleared through, the Alicorns entered the hospital and made a straight path to Cadence’s room on the third of four floors. Nurses, doctors, and all other manner of hospital occupants move out of the way of their country’s rulers. Using prior knowledge, the sisters made it to Cadence’s room quickly. A short, portly white stallion in a doctor’s gown was there to meet them.
The grey-mane, balding stallion adjusted his glasses and looked at a clipboard placed carefully in his hoof. “Ah! Princess Celestia and Lady Luna, a pleasure!”
“I am a Princess as well.” The darker Alicorn scoffed, not enjoying the challenge in her status.
The doctor quickly checked himself. “Oh yes, yes… Of course, forgive me. Not used to dealing with royalty, yet along two at one time. Anyhow, Princess Cadence has been stabilized and given appropriate care. It was somewhat difficult, though, considering her condition.”
“And what is that, doctor…?” Celestia asked, adding the prompt for introduction at the end.
“Oh? Oh! I’m Doctor Healthy Pulse. As for Cadence’s condition, it was an emotionally traumatic feedback shock that brought about a heart attack like response.”
“Emotionally traumatic feedback shock?” Luna asked. “So… she was scared into a seizure? That’s a stupid notion!”
“It wasn’t a seizure, it was a heart attack, there is a difference Princess.” Pulse replied. “And it is completely plausible. It is often downplayed because there are usually no seeable side-effects, but emotional stress can do a lot of harm.”
“So you say…” Luna remarked. “But if you start telling us she’s lost the will to live…”
“Nothing so serious.” The doctor assured.
“Good…” Luna said, squinting angrily. “I’d have to slap you if you did.”
“LUNA!” Celestia scowled. “I’m sorry doctor she’s still a little archaic in some categories…”
“Hit you so hard I’d take off your head…” Luna mumbled and Celestia promptly stomped on her sister’s hoof. Luna held in a shout and the doctor seemed to not notice.
“Oh, it’s quite alright Princess. I’ve had far worst told to me. Ponies always seem to think doctors have all the answers, even when it is not so.” Healthy Pulse looked through his clipboard notes once more.
“You can go see her.” He continued. “But that’s for later, she has a guest right now anyway. I just need to ask you some questions about her past health.”
Celestia bowed her head slightly. “Of course doctor. Come on Luna.” The nighttime princess nodded and followed her sister and the doctor down the hall.
Inside Cadence’s room, the Alicorn slept soundly on a plush and above-average hospital bed. Her sheets were pulled over most of her body for warm. The visitor that Healthy Pulse had spoken about looked down at her, thinking.
“Well… um,” Discord the Draconequus began. “So Fluttershy thought it would be a good idea if I came and visited you cause, you know, you went and had a heart attack or something…” The mishmash creature rubbed the back of his neck. “Umm… Oh! I got you a present! Here, got you some swag.” The Draconequus took out a large festoon of several flowers and budding fruits aligned into a nice flowery design and placed it on the table at the end of Cadence’s bed.
“Here ya go, enjoy that swag.” Discord said as he sat back into his seat. “I stole that by the way, blamed it on someone else… oh the chaos that caused.” The chaotic god sighed in happiness at joyful memories of bedlam. “Anyway… So Cadence, we both are well acquainted with the authenticity of I not possessing the articulate vocabularium required of one’s person in order to respectfully convey contemplations and doctrines in a civilized and systematic procedure. So… get well soon.”
Discord wiped some sweat from his brow and exhale heavily. “Whoo! Glad that’s over with. Alright, I said my sappy, time to go.” He patted Cadence on the head. “Alright Caddy, get better, try not to go on a crazy genocidal rampage ‘kay?” The Draconequus snapped his fingers and disappeared into a flash of white light.
The sleeping Alicorn flinched slightly from the bright light, but made no other movements other than the steady up and down of the chest indicating breathing.
“Why all these questions doctor?!” Luna demanded as she slammed her hoof down onto Healthy Pulse’s desk. “Isn't Cadence only emotionally shocked? Why must you ask about her recent behavior? Why ask about her magic? Hmm?! What game do you play?”
“Luna.” Celestia said, giving her sister a dirty look.
“We have a right to know sister!” Luna shot back.
“It’s alright.” Healthy finally said. “It’s just that as we cared for her recent condition, we noticed anomalies with her magic. Her magic has spiked greatly and in odd manners, ways we’ve never seen normally with her.”
That shut up Luna’s demands quick. She gave a look of concern. “What? What anomalies? Is… Is she ok?”
Healthy shrugged. “We don’t know honestly, we couldn’t examine her close enough. Every time we did her magic would flare up and knock us away.” The stallion inhaled deeply, a saddened look on his face. “I think Cadence might have been using ENEC…”
The stallion jumped slightly when Luna slammed her hoof on the desk again. “WHAT?! NEVER! Our niece would never do something so foolish! She is a smart mare that would never stoop so low!” Luna kept her angered glare for several seconds before it finally degraded into an expression of confusion. "Umm... What's ENEC again?"
The doctor blinked at Luna. "You don't know? It's a very serious emotional condition for any user of magic."
Luna bit her lower lip. "The field of medicine one thousand years ago was not as advance as today, obviously. We didn't not have many terms for emotional distress... it was all labeled under the crazy tag."
Celestia coughed. "ENEC, sister, is an abbreviation for Extreme Negative Emotion Channeling. As we are both well aware, emotions can have a big impact on a mage creature's magic. ENEC is when a creature's magic is feed with negative emotions in order to become stronger and erratic."
Luna was still confused. "But, such funneling happens on a daily basis, every magic user in existence has experienced such an accident periodically in their life."
"Yes Luna, that's RNEC, a common and harmless accident. ENEC is intentional and dangerous. While it does increase magic output, it also increases the natural levels of whatever emotion is being used in the mage's body by a significantly large amount."
"So that means...?" Luna sounded.
"The jealous would become more jealous, the lustful more risqué, the angry livid with hate." Healthy Pulse added as an example.
"Oh..." Luna said knowingly. The Alicorn thought about it for a few more seconds before slamming her hoof on the desk angrily. "Cadence would never do something so foolish!" Luna's inner self smiled to itself, it knew about what was being said!
The stallion took off his glasses. “I’m sorry Princess Luna, it’s just my professional opinion. I honestly have nothing to back it up with, but we have to be prepared.”
“I’m sure Cadence would know if she’s doing such a thing.” Celestia said confidently.
“Most of the times those that use ENEC don’t even know they’re doing it.” Healthy Pulse admitted. “It’s like an addiction to any drug, and it can be very dangerous.”
The sisters looked between each other, worry plastered both of their faces. “Can anything be done?” Celestia asked.
Healthy shrugged. “First, we need to find out if she is actually using ENEC. If she is, calming her down and letting her rest with no magic for a little while along with therapy will do the trick . As I just stated, we have to know if she is using ENEC in the first place. Right now it’s best if nopony sees her, especially if it’s related to the cause of her use.”
Celestia scratched her chin. “Well, from what I could tell, her magic was fine until she heard about the Changeling’s attack on the Crystal Empire. So we just have to keep her away from anything Changeling related.”
The door to Healthy Pulse’s office opened slightly and a nurse stuck her head in. The mare smiled. “Doctor Pulse? I just wanted to tell you I approved Lady Chrysalis to see Cadence. She’s in there right now with her in case you needed either of them.”
The two Alicorns and one doctor looked at the nurse, wide-eyed and mouths gaping slightly. “Well crap.” Luna finally said.
Chrysalis nestled herself into a hospital chair. The sound reached the ears of the Alicorn in bed and Cadence stirred. Fluttering her eyes open, the mare saw the Changeling sitting next to her bed. Cadence cocked her eyebrow, confused more than angry. “Chrysalis?”
Chrysalis smiled warmly. “Hey Cadence, how do you feel?”
“Like I got hit by a train.”
Chrysalis chuckled. “An emotional train maybe, let’s hope you never have to experience an impact from a real train.”
Cadence chuckled slightly. “Yeah, that would suck.” The mare turned her gaze from the Changeling Queen to her window. Cadence looked out onto the horizon. “Shining Armor.” She said weakly.
Chrysalis’s slight smile fled and she looked down to the floor. “Cadence, I’m… I’m sorry about the Crystal Empire…”
Cadence turned and smiled weakly. “It’s not your fault Chrysalis, don’t worry about it.” She said sincerely (a fact she was shocked to realize).
Chrysalis bit her lower lip. “I… well, that’s not as true as you might think.”
Cadence lifted her head up slightly. “What?”
“I… Celestia told me why Carapace had attacked the Empire. She thought Celestia had kidnapped me and was holding me hostage to get information out of me about the Collective.” Chrysalis turned away to look at the festoon of flowers left by Discord.
“That’s hardly your fault.” Cadence replied, unsure whether or not she was sincere or playing Chrysalis.
“But it is.” Chrysalis admitted. “I didn’t tell them I was leaving. If I had… If I had gotten their leave in the first place… The Empire wouldn’t be taken hostage right now.” Cadence looked at Chrysalis with a dumbfounded look, processing the information slowly.
“It was because you…” The Alicorn said feebly.
“But I’ll make this right, Cadence. I will! Because it’s your land, I just hope you can…”
Chrysalis gagged as something wrapped around her neck, lifted her out of the chair, and choked her. Looking down the Changeling saw her neck enveloped in a cornflower blue magic aura. That wasn’t the case for very long as the cornflower blue magic began to break away and crumble, replaced by a sickening mishmash of black, purple, and green. Following the magic to its source, Chrysalis’s eyes widened as Cadence got out of bed. The same sick magic fizzed around her like lightning and her eyes were alight with anger. Gagged to the point of being unable to speak, the Changeling mouthed Cadence, what are you doing?
“IT’S YOUR FAULT?! YOU’RE THE REASON MY HOME, MY HUSBAND, MY SUBJECTS, ARE IN DANGER?!” The pink Alicorn gritted her teeth as she glared at Chrysalis with pure anger. It had always personal, Cadence’s hate. Chrysalis had endangered Cadence, Shining Armor, Twilight, and everyone else once before, at the wedding. Now she had done it again! Fool me once right?
“YOUR ENTIRE SPECIES IS A BLIGHT!” Cadence brought her head up and then threw it down hard, triggering her magic to throw Chrysalis against the hard wall. The Alicorn inhaled slowly and sighed deeply.
She looked at Chrysalis one last time. “I’ll deal with you last.” She said darkly as her horn lit up.
“It should be right over here.”
“Lead the way Ambassador.” The female Griffon guard remarked, nodding to her charge.
Ambassador Septimus of the Griffon Meritocracy walked the streets of Upper Canterlot, catching more than a few glances from intrigued ponies. The Griffon turned his white-feathered head this way and that. “Huh, the Luna Memorial Hospital should be right here.” He looked down at the map he carried in his wings.
“Umm… Sir?” The female guard asked. “I think the map is the wrong way.”
Septimus looked to her and then back to the map. He coughed as he flipped the map around. “So it is…” He looked at the map once more. “Ah, it’s on the right.” The Griffon looked up and saw the hospital. “There we go, come on.”
“Yes sir!” The guard responded and walked after her Ambassador. Looking at the buildings around them, a question popped in the guard’s mind. “So, why are we here again sir? I wasn’t briefed.”
“We are here,” Septimus began. “To inform Princess Celestia of the operation. The Empire is in her dominion, it’d be wrong not to inform her.”
“Shouldn’t we inform Princess Cadence too?” The Griffon asked, glancing at a cloud as she did.
“Two birds with one stone.” Septimus replied. “Cadence didn’t take the news of the attack well. She’s here at this hospital.”
“Huh, I see. I wonder how she’s been since we last saw her, this incident notwithstanding.”
“Hopefully much better.” Septimus remarked. “She’s probably gotten over her childish issue with Chrysalis by now.”
“You really think those two worked things out sir?” The guard inquired.
Septimus smiled. “Of course. It was just a childish dislike. I’m sure she’s already called out Chrysalis, looked foolish doing so, and in that embarrassment allowed herself open to acceptance.”
An explosion ripped through the air as Septimus finished. The Griffon’s heads shot up and watched as dark magic blasted into the sky. A second later a black streak jettisoned from the now rising smoke and flew off into the distance.
“That came from the hospital!”
Septimus shook the shock from his body. “Then again, I could be wrong. Come on!” The Griffons bolted, opening their wings and flying towards the smoking hospital.
Septimus and his guard got past the royal guards easily, and ran down now deserted hallways littered with dropped items towards the upper levels. Reaching the third, they exited the staircase and were instantly met with a scene of devastation. Most of it was harmless blast shockwave damage; the explosion spell was precise and only included the one room. Ignoring everything else, the Griffons rushed down the hallway and to the outside of Cadence’s room, where several ponies were gathered.
“What’s happened?!” Septimus asked haggardly, out of breath.
Celestia looked at the Griffon. “Septimus? What are you-? It doesn’t matter; Cadence just went berserk and attacked Chrysalis!”
“What?!” Septimus shouted. The Griffon then noticed the bloody Changeling Queen on the floor, receiving heavy medical attention from emergency EMTs. “She… She just attacked her?”
“Chrysalis is unconscious, so we can’t ask her.” Luna interjected. “But it appears Cadence attacked her, then blew a hole in the wall. She flew off into the distance after that.”
“We saw.” Septimus’s guard offered.
Celestia bit her lower lip. “This has to be because of Cadence’s ENEC.”
“Cadence has been using ENEC?!” Septimus asked.
“That’s what the doctor believes. She must have been using it and it made her go out of control!”
Septimus shook his head. “No, ENEC is never a cause, only a means to an end. Even if Cadence wasn’t using ENEC, she would have attacked Chrysalis.”
Celestia cocked an eyebrow. “What? Why?”
“Because…” Septimus paused, thinking.
The Griffon sighed; real leaders take responsibility for their mistakes he resolved. “Because Cadence has hated Chrysalis since the beginning. I saw it during the meeting about the Queen's innocence and reform. I thought… I thought it was a childish hatred, one she’d grow out of. I was, am, a fool! I didn’t see it as more!”
Celestia shook her head. “That can’t be! It’s been weeks and except for the first encounter Cadence has been friendly with Chrysalis!”
“Was it friendship, or a ruse to move freely without suspicion?” Septimus offered.
“Maker…” Celestia said, dumbstruck with realization. “I’m a fool.”
Luna growled under her breath and shook her head. “So Cadence has gone nuts with hate for Changelings? So, she must have gone to the Crystal Empire to face Carapace.” Luna’s face grew pale. “She’ll slaughter them, using her ENEC. And then we’ll have an international incident on our hoofs. One that could spark war.”
“We have to counter her immediately!” Celestia said, returning from her moment of pause. “We can’t let her kill Carapace and her hive!”
“Already on it.” Septimus interjected. “I came here to tell you the Alliance is ready to kick the Collective out of our territory. A task force of soldiers is ready to retake the Empire.”
Luna nodded. “They can take out Carapace without any Changeling causalities before Cadence arrives, then they can focus on subduing her.”
“Septimus.” Celestia looked knowingly at the Griffon. “Give the order now!”
“Just get me to your communications center and it’s done.”
“I’ll stay here with Chrysalis.” Luna offered. “Just in case Cadence changes targets.” The nighttime Alicorn turned and went to check on the Changeling.
“Good.” Celestia nodded. “Septimus, I can teleport us to the Castle.”
“Then let’s not waste a minute.” The Griffon replied, stepping close to Celestia. “By the way, I’m impressed how well you’re dealing with this, considering. You've also acted quite quickly. I would have believed you'd be in shock longer.”
“Cadence isn’t lost yet.” Celestia replied. “She can still be brought back. As for my quickness.” Celestia turned to look at Luna. “I lost my sister because of my negligence, I’ll not lose my niece to it too.”
Septimus nodded at that and readied for teleportation. Celestia’s horn lit up with a golden aura and her eyes filled with light. In a bright golden flash the two were gone from the hospital.