“This ends before it begins!”
Cadence wasn’t able to react fast enough to avoid the rushing Capricorn before he rammed into her full force, knocking the wind out of her. The physically weaker Alicorn had no chance to hold her ground against the assault and pushed back by her opponent. Unfurling her wings and flapping forward, Cadence broke contact with Capricorn Ambassador Grizzled Policy.
Cadence distanced herself and fluttered down to the ground, coughing. “Dammit…”
Grizzled Policy cracked his neck and chuckled darkly. “What’s wrong Cadence? Not expecting to get hit right off the bat?”
The mentioned mare bit her lip. She huffed as she began breathing normally. “This fight is one-sided in the physical aspect Grizzled.” The Alicorn smiled grimly. “However, I still have the advantage.” Cadence’s horn lit up with magic and with a motion of the head she shot magic tendrils straight at her Capricorn foe.
“Foolish.” Grizzled explained with a snort. The tendrils lashed out towards him, but never hit. Instead the snakes of magic struck against some invisible barrier around the Capricorn and fizzled into nothing.
Cadence took a step back, eyes wide. “WHAT!?”
“I made sure to pick up an anti-magical rune before coming here.” Grizzled explained confidently. “You want to hit me? Gonna have to get up close and personal.”
“Dammit.” Cadence growled.
“Well isn’t this a sad little sight?” The Capricorn asked. “An Alicorn without her magic, it’s almost cruel.” The Ambassador readied himself again. “Almost.”
Cadence gritted her teeth. Crap… I can’t touch him with my magic, and a physical confrontation is out of the question. The Alicorn rummaged through her mind for some plan to counter this predicament. Cadence couldn’t think of anything. Have to stall him and think of a better strategy, she finally reasoned.
Grizzled saw the doubt in her face and smiled. “Come on Cadence, step down, this doesn’t have to go any farther than this.” He took a step forward. “Just stand down and we can talk about this…”
Cadence charged, closing the distance between them quickly and thrusting her horn into Grizzled shoulder plate and by consequence his shoulder blade underneath the armor. The Capricorn grunted in pain as the Alicorn horn dug into his shoulder. Recovery quickly, Grizzled pulled his body back and thrust forward, knocking Cadence away.
The Capricorn visibly frowned. “Very well.” Grizzled expression shifted to glee. “We do this the fun way!”
Cadence was still stumbling back when she saw a pair of Capricorn hind-hooves come flying at her, colliding with her and sending her back into the wall. The wall cracked and broke at the force of an Alicorn smashing into it. Cadence went numb.
Grizzled recomposed himself and took off towards Cadence’s limp body. The Alicorn’s eyes fluttered open to see Grizzled Policy was rushing towards her. Cadence knew that if she got hit one more time like this it was over. The Alicorn would not allow that!
Thinking quickly, Cadence ignited her horn and shot a blast of overcharged magic towards her Capricorn foe. Grizzled smirked at the foolish gesture, but he underestimated her. The magic blast struck right in front of the Capricorn and exploded. Grizzled might have been protected from the magic blast, but not from the concussive force created from the explosion. Grizzled tried to hold on, but it was to no avail. He skidded several inches before the blast was too much and sent him flying towards the end of the hallway outside the throne room.
Cadence didn’t get away Scot-free however. The blast pushed her deeper into the wall and rammed her back with hard crystal rock. Biting her lower lip, Cadence held on and eventually wiggled out of her hole in the wall. The Alicorn dropped to the floor and remained there on bent knees, huffing.
Grizzled, however, had recovered. The Capricorn shook the daze from his eyes and looked around to assess. Cadence was on the ground panting, but Grizzled held back. He had no idea what Cadence had in store for him if he charged headstrong into her again. The Ambassador wouldn’t be able to finalize a strategy however.
Sickening magic flowed through Cadence, giving the Alicorn the kick-start she needed to stand again. Seeing her Capricorn opponent in contemplation, Cadence saw this as the perfect time to strike back. Her corrupted magic focused in her horn and the Princess shot a blast at the Ambassador. Just like last time, Cadence aimed for the floor and allowed the force of the rush of air from the blast to hurt Grizzled. Cadence put a bit too much in her attack, however. The blast ripped through the Crystal Palace’s walls, crushing them and sending them along with the Capricorn Ambassador flying into the surrounding city. Cadence smirked deviously despite the destruction of her home.
Being prudent, Cadence opened her wingspan and took flight, flying down to the broken city and landing near the rubble, eager to find her opponent. The Alicorn looked around for the Ambassador. “Oh Grizzled~!” Cadence called out in a singsong manner. “Where are you? Come out and play!” Only silence greeted the mare and this irked her. Turning her head this way and that, Cadence looked around impatiently for her enemy. The Alicorn stopped and stomped her foot. “Where are you!?”
The angered mare shouted in pain as a crossbow bolt slammed into her shoulder. Turning, Cadence espied several Alliance soldiers of varying species standing on some rubble, all armed with ranged weapons or magic.
“Stand down Princess Cadence, by order of Ambassador Grizzled Policy and the Alliance Parliament!” The soldiers shouted. Cadence simply grunted and paid them no mind.
“Listen to them Cadence.” The mentioned Alicorn’s ears perked and she turned to see Grizzled off to the side walking up to her, his armor dented and broken from his fall. “The battle here is won and there is no need to continue. The violence you bring here is unneeded and unwanted. You’re being irrational.”
“Irrational?!” Cadence shouted at the goatfish. “I am protecting my lands from the Changelings that infect it!”
“But they are all defeated or being defeating.” Grizzled replied calmly. “The fight is won.”
“They still live!” The Alicorn shot back. “The battle is never won with Changelings until every single bug is dead!”
“Calm yourself!” Grizzled replied in an annoyed tone. “This path is folly.”
“It’s folly to protect one’s lands from monsters?!” Her sick magic engulfed Cadence’s horn. “You’re all blind! I’ll shed away these Changeling lies and free you all from their madness! I’ll stop them! I’ll…” An arrow lodged itself in Cadence’s neck.
“You’ll do nothing of the sort.” Grizzled said grimly, an undertone of pity in his voice. He watched as Cadence fell, wide-eyed, to the ground. The Capricorn shook his head and sighed, walking up to Cadence’s limp body. “That Basilisk venom will keep you down till we can get you back to Equestria and proscribe you some therapy.”
Grizzled’s gaze fell on his soldiers; the one zebra was reloading his crossbow. “Get her out of here, gently. She needs help, most Alicorns don’t possess this kind of madness unless they are horribly sick in the head.” The Capricorn cracked his neck to relieve some pain. “Once she’s calmed down we’ll…”
Grizzled looked down in time to watch as Cadence thrust her horn, covered in magical fire, into his chest. The Ambassador spit out blood as shock overtook his body from the strike. He bit his lip to try to handle the pain.
Cadence huffed, her eyes a dark blood red. “I… will not… be… defeated!”
“Crazy bitch…” Grizzled muttered.
Well passed Grizzled’s anti-magical barrier, Cadence fired off the fire spell stored in her horn. Already passed Grizzled’s armor, the spell easily shot through Grizzled’s body and out his back. The Capricorn spit more blood out, but didn’t have time to bite lips this time as Cadence used a force spell and sent him flying across the street. He landed on some rubble, crashing into it with great force and splattering blood in all directions.
Cadence got up from her position on the ground, laughing manically. “Hahaha! Did you honestly think I wouldn’t prepare for some dirty trick like that?! You stupid, arrogant fool!”
The Alliance soldiers aimed their crossbows and spells at Cadence, readying to defend their leader. The Alicorn in question snorted, lashing out with a dark wave of energy. The soldiers jumped from their high perch to avoid it, narrowly missing being blown to shreds from the sick looking magic.
With that taken care of, Cadence began to stomp over to Grizzled Policy. The Alicorn’s dark smirk betrayed any notion of what she once was. The arrows still in her neck and shoulder, the Alicorn reached her Capricorn foe and stood over him. “So… we’ve come to the obvious outcome of this little encounter.”
Grizzled’s eye twitched as the beaten and bloody face looked up at Cadence. He swished the blood around in his mouth and spit at Cadence’s face. The Alicorn retracted in disgust. “Ugh… this what I get for fighting an Alicorn… An Ambassador to my people and I don’t know crap. Shoulda known it turn out like this. But still, you call me arrogant? HA! You believe you are strong enough to face any foe, is that it? It will sweet to watch you fall from your blackened pillar of hate.”
“HA right back!” Cadence retorted after wiping off the blood. “A Capricorn telling me about hate being my downfall?! Irony is truly alive and well!”
“At least I was born as I am… You’ve fallen from the path you are supposed to take… Thank the Maker Celestia’s plans for Twilight Sparkle have not yet come to pass, lest history’s sad treatment of Equestrian sisters repeat itself!”
“Twilight? Plans?” Cadence looked from side to side. “My aunt has plans for Twilight? And she is under Chrysalis’s thrall as of late…” Cadence became fearful. “Twilight’s in danger! How could I not see it?! This… All this! This Chrysalis’s attempt for revenge on Twilight for being the instrument to her defeat at the Wedding!”
“Bloody fool!” Grizzled shouted. “You make up foolishness to suit your own petty want of wanton hatred and violence! Dammit, have you fallen so far?! Can you even see the top of the hole you fell down into?!”
Cadence was not listening to Grizzled, her own mind already concocting its own reasonings and conspiracies. “I’ll defeat the Changelings here, then fly to Ponyville to protect Twilight. And they have the Elements of Harmony there since Discord’s freedom, so I can get their help banishing Chrysalis! Finally this will all come to an end!”
“Like hell it will! I’ll not let your madness continue!” Grizzled mustered what strength he had and jumped on Cadence. The Alicorn screamed and shook and bucked wildly to remove him, but it was to no avail. Grizzled, already losing consciousness, reached for his chest plate’s strap. “Hey Cadence, guess what?”
“Get off of me Grizzled! I’ve no time for it!” Cadence increased her wild movements but still the Ambassador held on.
“I’ll not let you cause an international incident that starts a war between the Alliance and the Collective!”
Cadence shot off magic to scare her foe off, but Grizzled Policy was persistent. “Why do you care for Changelings?! Why defend their sick, evil race?!”
“I don’t give a damn for Changelings.” Grizzled retorted. “But unlike you I’m willing to put aside my pride for the path of peace and harmony!”
“Like you did at the meeting all those weeks ago?!”
“I really hate being a stubborn bastard sometimes.” Grizzled said pitifully. “Had I kept a cooler head and not been so stubborn… I’ve wronged Chrysalis harshly; I admit it that I was a stupid fool! I wronged her, but I will make it up to her! That’s a lot more than you can say!”
“Dammit! Get off!” Cadence shouted.
The Capricorn grinned weakly. “You know Capricorns are very warlike most of the time right? Hell, we consider war, fights, and whatnot as political meetings!”
“So?!” Cadence shot back.
“So…” Grizzled responded. “I never leave my guard down at political meetings!” The Capricorn released his chest plate’s strap and the hunk of metal fell to the ground, revealing the vest of high explosives strapped to the Capricorn. Cadence stopped bucking and looked at the explosives in wide-eyed terror. “Arrivederci bitch!” Grizzled pulled the pin from his belt.
At least I won’t have to write up a report for this one… Grizzled smiled as that last thought crossed his mind. The explosion ripped through the air, tearing apart and shredding everything in a ten-meter radius.
Ten minutes later…
Ringing. Ringing was the only sound to accompany the downed equine. Cadence’s eyes fluttered opened, damn everything hurt! Her vision blurred and flustered heavily, the Alicorn tried to move a hoof forward. She succeeded, but this only caused confusion. Cadence saw a hoof, a leg, but they weren’t hers. No, this hoof and leg was covered in scarlet red fur, certainly not Cadence’s regular bright pink.
The young Alicorn struggled, but she managed to get up. Her black, sick magic swirled around her, healing her she guessed. This theory was confirmed as Cadence saw a chunk of her right leg missing. The magic covered the wound and soon flesh, muscle, nerves and fur regrew. The fur was scarlet.
“That’s odd…” Cadence remarked, though she didn’t regard it much. Her magic was working on its own; she could not expect it to get everything right. That was the thought until Cadence saw a broken mirror on the ground.
The mare that stared back at Cadence was not Cadence, yet she had to be. In place of the pink Alicorn stood a rich scarlet one. Her blue eyes now a dark blood red, her mane black with red highlights. It was still Cadence, simply with a darker color scheme to go along with the darkened thoughts.
Cadence did not dwell on it long, as she turned to look at the battlefield. It was torn apart and blackened from the blast. Bits of rubble and crystal lay about. Oddly, Cadence could not see any pieces of Grizzled Policy’s body.
“He… He must have disintegrated from the blast.” Cadence said unbelievingly, knowing her magic was the only thinking that had kept her alive. The mare clenched her teeth in anger. “Dammit… Damn Changelings!” Cadence drove her hoof into the ground. “He died… Protecting them…” A tear let loose from the Alicorn’s eyes. “Why? Why didn’t you listen Grizzled? Why sacrifice yourself… for them?”
Cadence wouldn’t have her answer, as a sound entered her ears. She disregarded it at first, stuck in grief. But when the sound ended with a stomp of a hard landing, she couldn’t help but look towards the sound. The Alicorn’s now blood red eyes widened.
Queen Carapace smiled sadistically. “Hello Princess Cadence… I need to have a word with you…”