Home to the United Species Alliance Parliament
Grizzled Policy the Ambassador of the Capricorn Confederacy stood at attention as he watched his oldest friend and greatest ally pace back and forth in heavy melancholy. He’d been doing this for the better part of an hour, and Grizzled’s patience was faltering. “Septimus?” No answer. “Septimus!”
The Griffon Meritocracy Ambassador jerked his head up and looked to the Capricorn. “Hmm? Yes? What is it Akadios?”
The Capricorn shuffled a bit, not used to hearing his birth name in non-Capricorn lands. Grizzled coughed to clear his throat. “Septimus, what is your plan for Cadence? She’s clearly lost it and we can’t spare her doing something stupid that causes a war we can’t afford.”
“What would you have me do my friend? Sally forth with an army and try my claw at killing a Goddess, albeit a young goddess?” The Griffon sighed heavily and looked out his window, a nice view of the sea greeting him. “No. We must allow the Equestrians to solve this riddle themselves. We can only continue on as we have, and keep Collective backlash away from them.”
“If only it were that easy.” Grizzled remarked.
Septimus laughed heartily. “If it was, then we’d all be living in blissful, ignorant harmony and peace. But it is not, and where there is peace, there are those willing to give everything to defend it.”
“Let us hope Celestia has the will to do so.”
“To kill requires no great will.” Septimus shot back. “Killing’s easy, true strength is putting down the blade. So worry not for Celestia, she’s killed those important to her before. Instead, worry for Cadence, who might be too weak to quell her rage…”
Cadence flexed a bit, getting some soreness out of her neck and shoulders. From a ledge outside her room the Alicorn surveyed Lightning Dust’s mercenary band as they readied themselves to move out and take Ponyville by any mean necessary. Cadence thought over her plan, a simple blitzkrieg into the town to capture it quickly and without harm. After that, they’ll focus on reinforcing the town to protect it from Chrysalis. It was a cut and dry operation to say the least.
“Um, Cadence, ma’am?”
The Alicorn turned to see a buttercup yellow mercenary mare in studded leather saluting her. Cadence turned away from her. “Yes?”
The mare gulped, the coldness in Cadence’s voice frightening. “I… Well, Lightning Dust wanted to tell you that we’re all ready to move out. Just give the order ma’am.”
The skittish merc jumped slightly at the humph Cadence gave her. “About time, we’ve delayed two extra days, and that’s irked me.”
“Sorry ma’am.” The merc responded pathetically.
Cadence felt the pang in her heart hit like a punch in the gut. The Alicorn sighed, turning to the mare. “I apologize, I know you are all doing your best. It was unfair of me to be so rude… especially considering you’re the only allies I have right now.”
“I’m sorry about your Aunt, Princess, if it makes any difference.” The merc replied. “It must be hard knowing she’s under the thrall of a Changeling.”
“I’ll save her.” Cadence said with determination. “I’ll save them all from her darkness.” Cadence looked at the mare again, smiling this time. “Tell Lightning Dust I’m ready to get moving. We’ll leave soon.”
“Yes ma’am. We have magical transportation, so it should take us five hours to get to the outskirts of Ponyville. I will inform Lightning Dust of your order.” The mare nodded and shot off down the hall to relay the orders.
Cadence looked down from her ledge again and inhaled deeply. “This is it, it’s time to save Twilight…” The mare’s gaze left to her side, an involuntary gesture she had gained since acquiring Shape Shift. The Changeling wasn’t there, in fact the insectoid had not been seen since he had dropped Cadence off.
Another sigh left the Alicorn. “Where are you Shape Shift? I need you for this now more than ever…”
Ponyville, Twilight Sparkle’s Library
The bag was lifted off of his head and light flooded his field of vision. Shaking off any lingering feelings of the stun spell, the Changeling Drone Shape Shift decided to take in his surroundings.
He was in what the ponies would call a library; he’d seen pictures about such things. Books lined the shelves in and the walls were barely visible as a consequence. A table was in the center and resting upon was a wooden unicorn head. That wasn’t the unicorn head Shape Shift was worried about though. The one that belonged to the purple mare in front of him held much more importance.
“So, you’re finally waking up.” Twilight Sparkle the unicorn, Celestia’s faithful student, and the Element of Magic, stared at the Changeling with furrowed brows.
“Geez… he’s got one ugly mug.” Remarked a cyan pegasus Shape Shift identified as Rainbow Dash, hovering above the ground slightly.
“Rainbow Dash!” The mare named Rarity scrutinized. “Don’t say such things, it’s not polite or ladylike to call somepony ugly, even a Changeling.”
“Yeah…” The pale yellow pegasus mare Fluttershy added quietly.
“Ah have a feelin' y’all are missin’ the point here.” An orange farmpony interjected.
“Yeah!” The pink party pony Pinkie Pie shouted. “We got to find out what he knows about the treasure of the stubborn monkey fish king!”
The other mares looked at Pinkie Pie, all expressions confused. The five decided to ignore her, noting that it was Pinkie Pie. Shape Shift looked around at the six mares, thoroughly frightened for his little life.
The Changeling thought about how he got in this situation. He had thought that it would be a good idea to steal the Elements from their Bearers. They couldn’t be used against Cadence that way. Good plan, bad execution. Poor Shape Shift hadn’t been expecting Twilight’s excellent defense magic to be placed all around her tree house. Long story short, he’d been captured. Now he had to get himself out of this annoying mess.
“Hey! Are you listening?”
Shape Shift shot back from his thoughts; the mares had been talking to him. The Changeling shrugged, both to be difficult and because he hadn’t actually been listening.
“Think you’re funny huh?” Rainbow Dash asked, getting close to the Changeling and shaking her hoof violently.
“Rainbow please.” Twilight said, placing a hoof on her friend’s shoulder. “Let me handle this.” Twilight gently moved Rainbow out of the way and stepped in front of the Changeling, smiling slightly. This stopped instantly, as the mare’s expression became angered and she slammed her hooves onto the armrests of the chair Shape Shift was tied to. “OK bug, tell what you’re doing here! I may be hopped up on anti-anxiety drugs right now, but I’ll rip you in half like a twig if you don’t tell me why you tried to break into my house!”
Shape Shift looked at the mare, mouth gaping wide and fear in his eyes. However, he couldn’t respond, literally. So he was stuck there, unable to respond.
“Well?!” Twilight asked harshly.
“Uh, Twi.” Applejack placed a hoof on the unicorn’s shoulder. “How about we handle this why you calm down from your drug-induced anger or whatever it’s called.”
Twilight wanted to protest but eventually nodded and left, sitting in a nearby corner. The mare grumbled the entire time, however.
“Sorry about that.” Applejack said. “She’s been a little on edge ever since Celestia prescribed her medicine ta deal with her anxiety over the Princess bein’ with a Changelin’.” The farmer smiled. “So, why are you here Changelin’?”
Shape Shift opened his mouth and motioned words with it, and then shook his head. Most of the Elements looked at him confusedly, except for Fluttershy. “OH!” She exclaimed. “He can’t talk. I don’t think he’s able to.”
“Then how do we interrogate him?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“Interrogate is such a brutish word.” Rarity interjected. “Can we not call it by something more eloquent? How about we call it information gathering, I think that’s a much better wording.”
Rainbow Dash rolled her eyes. “It doesn’t matter what we call it! The question is how are we going to do it if he can’t talk?!”
Shape Shift nudged his head towards his bag, lying slackly on the floor. Fluttershy understood right away and trotted over to it, picking out Shape Shift’s little board. “Here! He can use this.”
“But we’d have to untie him to let him write.” Pinkie Pie remarked.
“Ain’t no way Ah’m lettin’ that happen!” Applejack responded.
Fluttershy shook her head. “I think the six of us can handle one Changeling drone. Besides, we aren’t learning anything from him without it.”
The other mares grudgingly nodded and Applejack walked behind the Changeling and undid his bonds. Stretching his legs around to get rid of some soreness. Grabbing his board from Fluttershy, the Changeling wrote vigorously. After a few seconds, he showed his work.
I’M NOT REAL, THIS IS A FIGMENT OF YOUR IMAGINATION, GO BACK TO SLEEP…
Rainbow Dash looked at the Changeling with bored disappointment. “That’s it, I’m gonna punch him.”
Shape Shift yelped like a filly as Rainbow Dash bolted for him. Jumping from his chair, the insectoid buzzed around the room, the speedster in toe and shouting insults at him. The other mares watched as this happened, too dumbstruck to act. After almost five minutes of rapid maneuvering through the library, Shape Shift took a look back to check on his pursuer. He promptly slammed into a rafter, not looking where he was flying. The Changeling fell to the ground with a loud thump, and slinked into unconsciousness.
~~Four Hours Later~~
Shape Shift woke up in a strange place for the second time that day. Happily, the insectoid reasoned that this time he was in a cozy bed instead of tied to a chair. Lifting himself up he looked around and found him in a bedroom, probably Twilight Sparkle’s he wagered. And once again the six mares stared at him, a little angrier than last time.
“You bumped your head and got knocked out.” Fluttershy explained, she was probably the only one not looking at the Changeling with a dark glare. “I helped fix you up and you should be fine, there wasn’t any lasting damage.”
“Don’t try that again.” Twilight scowled. “Or I will turn you into an orange.” The Changeling gulped at that.
The questions that fell upon Shape Shift like an avalanche all held the same overall theme: why was he here and who sent him. The Changeling looked back and forth between the mares questioning him on his appearance in Ponyville. Shape Shift, unable to answer, just sat and listened to their questions. Eventually, however, Twilight dropped a bombshell the Changeling could not allow to be unanswered.
“Did Chrysalis send you?!” Asked the unicorn. “Is she trying to steal me? Or the Elements?! Is she still evil? It is that isn’t it?!”
Shape Shift could not allow his Queen’s name to be slandered as such when she had done nothing wrong. The Changeling struggled with inner loyalties. Should he stay true to Cadence or Chrysalis? Cadence was a good friend and had been very kind to him and it was his Queen’s orders that he follow her. But Chrysalis was his Queen, his mother, and reason for being! It was a tough choice, and Shape Shift struggled deeply with his inner self. His mind finally decided, and he wrote on his board, showing to the mares after he was done.
CADENCE DOESN’T LIKE CHRYSALIS AND TRYING TO TAKE HER DOWN BECAUSE SHE THINKS SHE IS STILL EVIL AND I HELPED HER AND SHE’S DONE BAD STUFF AND SHE’S TRIED TO HURT PONIES AND CHRYSALIS AND OTHERS AND STUFF AND SHE’S LOST HER MIND AND SHE CAN’T TELL FRIEND FROM FOE AND I THINK SHE’S GONNA DO SOMETHING CRAZY!!!
The six mares’ mouths dropped as they read the board. They couldn’t believe it, Cadence evil? It wasn’t possible. Twilight shook off her stupor first and furrowed her brows at the Changeling. “That can’t be true! Cadence is a good mare! How can you say that?!” The young unicorn quickly snapped to the defense of her old foal-sitter. “You have no proof to any of this!”
YES I DO, read Shape Shift’s board, SHE COMING HERE RIGHT NOW.
Twilight took a step back. “W-What?”
The small town of Ponyville lie downward from the medium sized hill. It was a quaint little town, though full of life and adventure. It was also home to the six Bearers of the Elements of Harmony. But more importantly, it was where Cadence was going to begin her stand against Chrysalis’s evil.
The Alicorn looked down on the town, ready for what was about to come. The mercenary band was behind her and ready to get the job done. All it would take was one order, and the die would be cast.
“Cadence?” Lightning Dust asked. “Are you ready to move?”
The scarlet Alicorn nodded. “Begin the operation.”