The floor rumbled under the hooves of Prince Regent Shining Armor and ex-tyrant Sombra. The stallions were currently in the Crystal Palace’s still mostly intact throne room (the giant hole from Grizzled really ruined the decor though). Looking towards the sound of the blast and out a window, the two saw the explosion that was Cadence and Grizzled Policy.
“What in the world is that?!” Shining gasped.
“An explosion…” Sombra said dully, sitting on the still unconscious form of the Changeling Queen Carapace and twiddling with his hooves.
Shining sent his compatriot a glowering look. “I know that, I mean what caused it?”
“Something exploding…” Sombra answered.
“I hate you so much…” Shining grumbled.
The dark unicorn shrugged. “It’s not like I know, you and I have been in this room for the past few minutes, watching meanie shell mcmeaners here.” Sombra knocked on the hard carapace of the Changeling Queen he sat upon.
“It has to been Cadence and Grizzled.” Shining remarked. “They must still be fighting…”
“Or one of them is dead.” Sombra recoiled at the glare Shining shot him. “What? Explosions are a number one way to take out bad guys.”
“That’s my wife Sombra!”
The stallion nodded. “Yeah… this must be really trying for you, huh?”
“Shut up…” Shining shot back.
“Ouch, touchy subject.”
Shining gritted his teeth. “Once again: my wife!”
The two bickering stallions were too caught up in their squabble to notice the air becoming filled with white sparks of magic. Oblivious, the two jumped in fear when a white flash tore through the throne room. Fear gave way to confusion as the Capricorn Ambassador Grizzled Policy was thrown from the blast to the floor, moaning in pain at the fall.
“What the…?” Shining started.
“Woo! That was close!” Discord the Draconequus remarked as he appeared from the dissipating white flash. “We were only milliseconds from being caught in that explosion… you could say that it was…” The chaotic spirit pulled some sunglasses from nowhere and put them on. “A close shave, YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAHHHH!”
“That pun meme made no sense for this particular situation…” Shining remarked.
“That is, as they say in Prance, the point dear Shining.” Discord replied. “Geez, I thought you would have come to know me by now.”
“And what are you doing here?” Sombra interjected.
“I was in the neighborhood.” Discord answered. “Watching the delightful chaos raining down on you ponies like chocolate rain and I decided to help the Capricorn when he concluded to blow himself up like a party popper.”
“Well that was nice of you…” Sombra added in.
Discord nodded. “Well of course, I mean honestly… Can imagine just how dark this story would be if someone actually died?” The Draconequus suddenly leaned away from the stallions and placed his claw to the left side of his mouth. “Possible foreshadowing, take a note readers, wink wink nudge nudge.”
“Who are you talking to?” Shining asked, the mishmash creature seemingly talking to no one.
Discord quickly leaned back towards the stallions, smiling shadily. “Oh nothing, don’t worry about it!”
Shining cocked an eyebrow. “Ok… Anyway, that was rather nice of you to save the Ambassador.”
Discord snapped his claws. “That reminds me.” The Draconequus teleported with another white flash to Grizzled and leaned in close to him. “Hey, sup? If you’d be kind enough to sign this…” A piece of paper and a pen magically appeared and floated in front of Grizzled’s unconscious face. Discord waited for a moment, and when nothing happened he grasped pen in his magic. “Let me just help you with that…” The mishmash creature signed Grizzled’s name to the paper and once it was done the paper rolled up and disappeared. “Thank you very much!”
“What was that?” Shining asked cautiously.
“A certificate of nice-doing.” Discord replied. “It’s a lot like a rewards system, Cappy here is just lucky saving someone from suicide is three points.” The paper reappeared in front of Discord and he examined it. “Ooooo! I have enough points to get free refills at the royal snack bar! Delightful. Soon, I’ll have enough points to get that whole day of unrestrained chaos! Oooo I’m giddy with excitement!”
“What happened to Cadence?!” Shining blurted out, deciding to get to the task at hand.
“I dunno.” Discord shrugged.
“How can you not know?!” Shining shot back.
“Crap was exploding!” Discord retorted. “I really didn’t have the time to look around and smell the flowers… though they were particularly fragrant this year.”
“Is she still alive?!”
“Is she still crazy evil?” Sombra interjected.
“It’s almost cliché honestly…” Discord replied.
Shining stomped his hoof on the ground. “Guys! That’s my wife!”
Discord waved the stallion off. “Oh Shining, it’s all good! All marriages have their ups and downs… By the way she’ll be waking up in like three minutes and she is gonna be PO’d.”
“Well we got to do something!” Sombra insisted.
Discord shrugged. “I’m staying neutral in the whole fighting thing, mostly cuz it’s fun to watch and because I’m too pretty to fight.” Discord magiced up a mirror and checked himself out with it.
Shining bit his lower lip. “Sombra and I aren’t strong enough to face down an angry Alicorn…”
“Well there is one pony…” Discord said, twitching his head towards the unconscious body of Queen Carapace while still looking in his mirror.
Shining took notice. “Oh no! We are not doing that! There is no way in hell we are doing…”
“That… That’s impossible!” Cadence shouted. “You were out cold when I saw you last!”
The Alicorn was staring down her new Changeling opponent, Queen Carapace. The insectoid equine simply chuckled at the mare’s confusion. After giving her presence a moment to sink in, Carapace inhaled calmly.
The Changeling looked darkly into Cadence’s eyes, showing a heartless desire to end her. “Yes, well, let’s just say I’ve had a bit of a booster shot for that…”
Back in the throne room, Shining was holding a befuddled Sombra. “Sombra, are you ok? You want something? How about a crystal?” The white stallion showed a crystal to his companion.
Sombra looked away. “Nah, I’m not in the mood for crystals…”
Shining threw back his head in shock. “I don’t even know you anymore!”
Back on the Crystal Capital streets, Cadence and Carapace stared back at each other with the intent of darkness upon the other in each eye. It should be noted that the Changeling was much more calmer than her pony counterpart, whether this was from a lack of fear or a sense of superiority no one could tell. The stare down lasted for several minutes before Carapace huffed.
“So, I hear you don’t like Changelings very much. Why’s that Princess Cadence?”
Cadence bit her lower lip, but did not shy from the question. “Because your species is evil, and deserve to be stopped for your crimes.”
“Is that so?”
Cadence hardened her gaze, smirking slightly. “Yes, and though you may have blinded everypony else from your malice, I’ll stop you and bring back true Harmony!”
Carapace rolled her eyes. “Oh great, you’re a self-righteous fanatic… Just lovely, like I’ve never had any shortage of them.”
“Don’t be so cocky Carapace!” Cadence shot back. “My Alicorn magic is stronger than you can even guess at! I can defeat you easi…”
Cadence shouted out in pain as she felt her head being driven into the ground. Blood flowed from her mouth slightly as she tried to get up, to no avail. It was hard to move with a Changeling Queen standing on top of one’s skull. The orange eyes of Carapace looked down on the Alicorn with no regret as she twisted and dug her hooves deeper into Cadence.
“There’s something you have to realize Cadence…”
Neon green magic wrapped around Cadence and Carapace jumped off the Alicorn, hauling her into the air then slamming her into a nearby house. Carapace sprinted down the street, taking Cadence with her. The Alicorn was engulfed in pain as she was dragged through buildings, showering the street with dust and crystal debris.
Carapace huffed slightly as she ran. “You’ve only faced Changelings like Chrysalis, who is no where near the strongest Queen in the Collective.” Carapace dug Cadence deeper into the buildings as she ran. “I am much more of a challenge, the only reason your friend Grizzled Policy took me out was from surprise and the fact I’ve not eaten in a week or so…”
The pair had reached the end of the row of house and Carapace threw Cadence into a circular public courtyard. The scarlet Alicorn twitched painfully, everything hurt. She was too much in pain to hear the cracking and sundering going on around her, but when the world darkened she opened her eyes to see two large buildings floating above her.
Carapace grinned, her horn a beacon of magic. “But now I’ve got a full stomach and my magic is at its capacity.” The Changelings lifted her head up and then tossed it down hard, causing the buildings in her magic to throw themselves at Cadence. “And I am not in the mood to screw around!”
Carapace waited for the flowing cloud of dust and crystal fragments to clear before confirming her beliefs. The buildings lay where Cadence once did, and the Changeling was sure she had crushed and incapacitated the Princess.
The Changeling shook her head and turned. “Fool… to think one so weak is a Princess… I suppose they just don’t make them like they used to.” Carapace began her trek back to the Crystal Palace. The Changeling sighed in annoyance. “Well this has been one big mess… I’m going to have to kiss so much ass for this whole thing.” The Queen paused as she noticed the area around her had darkened. “Really? Is staying down that hard?”
Carapace swung around and sliced through the incoming building in one fluid, almost beautiful motion. The two pieces of house crashed to the left and right of her and sent up clouds of dust. “You’ll have to do better than that!” The Changeling goaded. The glowing light on darkened magic to her right caught her attention. “Well, I misjudged your intelligence.”
Cadence let loose a magic blast that hit Carapace and pushed her through several buildings and collapsing more than a few. The Changeling skidded along a street before hit a lamppost with a grunt.
The Queen rubbed the back of neck and moaned at the pain in her body. She wouldn’t have another moment of rest as Cadence flew from the smoke of the building Carapace had flown through and readied another attack. Carapace was prepared this time and grasped Cadence in her magic and whiplashed her into a lamppost.
Cadence recovered quickly and pulsed magic into her front hooves. Slamming them down onto the street, Cadence sent forth a magical shockwave of black lightning that coursed towards Carapace. The Changeling grunted at the attacked and countered with her own wave. The opposing magics met at the middle of the street and intertwined into a brilliant array of black and green lightning. Both mares had to shield their eyes from the bright conflict between the tow magics as each tried to gain ground over the other.
Unable to maintain their current battle, however, the magics exploded outward and collided with many of the buildings, creating gashing holes in them. Carapace sighed, she was thankful all of her Changelings and the Alliance soldiers had cleared from this area, she wanted none of them hurt (Though the reasons where more selfish than concern based).
Picking herself up, Carapace charged magic and lashed out at Cadence. It was a weak blast and easily countered by a shield from Cadence, but it allowed Carapace to take up several chunks of rubble and fling them at Cadence.
Cadence’s horn ignited as she shot down all the incoming debris like they were nothing. The Alicorn smirked at her victory, but it had been a ploy. Carapace rushed from the debris cloud and struck at Cadence with a Changeling blade. Cadence wasn’t quick enough and got a slash in the right shoulder blade.
Landing and quickly recovering, Carapace thrust her blade at Cadence for another hit but the Alicorn had took a large toothpick shaped piece of crystal in her magic and used it as a shield for the Changeling’s next blow.
Undeterred, Carapace focused her magic through her body into the blade and then into the crystal, making it unstable. Cadence yelped as the crystal exploded and sliced her legs to bloody bits. The wound was a mute point though, as Cadence’s sporadic magic quickly healed the lacerations. All healed up, Cadence horn ignited and she sent a shockwave of mental might that picked up Carapace and sent her hurtling through the air and landing on her back in a pile of rubble. Carapace shouted out in pain as a crystal impaled her left shoulder.
Cadence took note of the Changeling’s pain and her struggling to free herself from the impaling crystal. The Alicorn laughed and walked limply towards Carapace. “HA! I thought you said you were stronger than Chrysalis! Well I don’t see it! Where are you in the hierarchy of Queens huh? How strong are you out of the rest of your sick kind?”
Carapace looked at Cadence, pained annoyance in her eyes. “Out of the forty-two Changeling Queens of the Collective…?”
Cadence winced in shock as she was forced down into the ground by three huge rocks. The Alicorn struggled to free herself when she saw the rocks glow with magic.
“I’m the thirteenth strongest.”
The explosion ripped through the Crystal Capital’s airspace, tearing though buildings and solid rock. The entire city shook, the heavens themselves parted for the sheer force of the blast, and both Changeling and Alliance soldier alike clung to their fellows in fear of the sheer might of the blast.
Carapace teleported with a green flash to the top of a still standing building, only a little bit charred from the explosion. The Changeling huffed and smirked. “Didn’t even break a sweat.” (Please note that Changelings cannot sweat)
A scarlet flash behind the Queen signaled the arrival of Cadence. The insectoid had only moments to turn around to see Cadence drive an ethereal blade into her, earning a geyser of green blood from the Changeling’s back.
“DIE BITCH!” Cadence shouted, a maddened glare in her eyes.
Carapace felt herself being pushed off the building as Cadence stabbed her, and so gave one final effort as she fired a strong magical fire blast pointblank in Cadence’s face. The Alicorn shouted in pain and fell back, her entire body set aflame.
Carapace fell off the building, but caught herself with magic before hitting the ground. Gently inching herself down with magic. Grunting as she hit the ground with a soft thump, the Changeling took deeps breathes as she listened to Cadence writhe in pain on the building’s roof. Deciding it was probably not smart to stay where she was, Carapace (now considered bleeding out) began to crawl inch by inch as she tried to retreat from the scene of her battle.
“Dammit… Dammit! Creators… Everything hurts. Dammit Celestia, you’re lucky your reward was too good to pass up, or I’d have killed that stupid Alicorn right from the start!” Carapace moaned as a great pain overtook and she stopped crawling to roll into a ball. “Dammit.”
To add to the Changeling’s misery, Cadence had recovered and teleported herself into Carapace’s path of escape. The Queen’s magic had done a number on the Princess; her mane had been completely burnt off. Instead of regrowing the hair however, her magic had instead grown an ethereal wave of black with red highlights. Color scheme and size aside, it was an eerie resemblance to Nightmare Moon.
“Where do you think you’re going?!” Cadence asked, her patience at an end.
“I have to use the little ling’s room.” Carapace joked, knowing it was probably her last minute alive.
“You claimed to be so powerful!” Cadence shot back, truly annoyed. “But it was all a farce wasn’t it?”
“Nope.” Carapace replied. “I am, however, very limited in my actions when I want someone taken alive.” The Changeling chuckled. “If I had wanted you dead? Oh Creators you’d be twelve feet under right now!”
Cadence cocked an eyebrow. “Taken alive? Why do you want me alive?”
Carapace smiled. “I don’t know, why don’t you ask your aunts?”
The scarlet Alicorn’s eyes widened as realization came to her. Using her magic, Cadence scanned for magical essences, the biomarkers of any magical beings. Sure enough, plain as day was the undeniable signature of her Aunts Celestia and Luna, only a minute or so out from the city. “Dammit!” Cadence cursed. Carapace was only a distraction, meant to lure her attention away from everything else so the elder Alicorns could come undeterred.
“So, what are you going to do little Princess, before your Aunts come and hoof you your backside?”
Cadence bit her lower lip. “I…” Cadence furrowed her eyebrows. “I’m going to kill you first!” She dove at Carapace with a magical blade.
The Changeling had other ideas however. Her horn ignited and easily sent Cadence flying with a magical shockwave. The Alicorn fell to the ground a few meters away from the Changeling. Cadence was about to retaliate, but stopped as she felt the presence of her aunts in the city.
Knowing she could not take them both, Cadence decided to flee. Her horn ignited and the fallen Princess vanished with a flash of scarlet.
Carapace watched the Princess disappear, no true desire to stop her. With her opponent gone and help on the way, Carapace laid her head down on the hard ground, looking up at the sky. The Changeling sighed in pain. “Ugh, that’s it… That’s the last time I ever take a deal from a shady Draconequus…”
“HEY!” Discord whined to the Changeling as he nestled onto a rock next to her. “I’m not shady…”