Roseluck hummed peacefully to herself as she attended to one of the many flowerbeds that were scattered around the peaceful little town of Ponyville. This was the last one of the day, so the pale yellow Earth pony mare was giddy with the free time she’d soon possess. Tossing her streaked scarlet mane out of her face, the pony took the water pail into her mouth and skillfully drenched a bed of tulips with liquid. She studied carefully so each flower would get its fill without getting drowned out. Like the skilled gardener she was, Roseluck easily got every flower the adequate amount of water it needed without any hassle and in a ridiculously fast pace.
The mare set the pail down and looked at her work with a big smile, more than just a little hubris slinking into her mind. While she’d be happy with the free time, Roseluck had to admit today was a perfect day for gardening. Princess Celestia had outdone herself with the Sun today. The skies were clear and pristine in their bluish hues. Birds sung merry tunes and animals happily skittered this way and that. And everything was starting to get blurry… Wait, what?
Roseluck looked confusedly at the darkness and blur that had overtaken her vision. Her mind rapidly processed the situation and finally decided on a solution to the question in her mind. Like any surprised victim, the mare’s head shifted downward to look at the singed fur on her chest, right where the stunner spell had hit her. She grunted a bewildered ‘huh’ before falling over unconscious.
The rest of the town faired no better. Lightning Dust’s mercenaries had gone over the plan a hundred times over. To them, this was a simple as trotting down the street. They pushed up from the south, throwing stunner spells and swinging blunted objects against any who stood in their way. Two teams held back and instead spilt off to the left and right and struck Ponyville from the east and west, effectively offering no real way for the town militia to properly defend their home (which hadn’t been built to be defensible anyway).
This plan was flawlessly executed; it had to be done so. Cadence had spent her days recovering by studying maps of Ponyville and the surrounding areas, planning out the best route from which to take the town. Now the moment had arrived, and the scarlet Alicorn was very pleased with how it was going. Already the southern half of the town was in her grasp and the rest would fall quick enough. It hurt Cadence to have to attack the small town, but they’d never understand her reasons and she didn’t have time to explain.
The ponies would just need to accept what was happening, they’d thank her later when she freed Celestia of Chrysalis’s thrall. Until then, the Alicorn walked along the path towards the town, rather nonchalantly considering it was now a battlefield. Cadence really didn’t have to worry though; she was an Alicorn after all. There was only one being in the town that might hold against her, but by now Cadence’s soldiers already caught that mare, she being completely unaware of the attack.
The Alicorn’s ears perked and she left her dazed thoughts to see a mercenary running towards her, his face and mane frazzled and dirty. Cadence cocked an eyebrow and tilted her head a little. “Yes? What is it?”
The merc saluted, though his heavy breathing made it look pathetic. “Ma’am… We… ugh… We’ve encountered a…. a problem!”
Cadence gritted her teeth and frowned, eyes squinting in anger at the merc. “What problem? My plan is flawless! What could have possibly gone wrong?!”
The mercenary didn’t know what hit her, well she did but she wasn’t really expecting it. The blue magic she had tried to dodge was only a decoy for the lavender magic, which punched the merc mare straight in the face and sent her flying into a wagon, shattering the wooden object into many pieces.
The merc’s compatriots faired no better. One pegasus stallion’s jaw was dislocated by strong orange hind-hooves. Another mare got a face full of confetti and other party confections. A poor beige unicorn stallion got a hoof to the top of the head at super fast speeds. Despite their training, these mercs couldn’t hope stand up against the Elements of Harmony in a fair fight.
Thanks to Shape Shift, the six mares were ready to take down their attackers. He had warned them about Cadence’s advanced teams that would secure the Elements before the actual fighting began and so they had prepared an adequate welcoming for each group sent to their places of residence.
The mercs had gotten wise, however, and regrouped together to face the Elements… this did not work either. The six mares had fought enemies that would make most pee themselves; a bunch of mercs with orders to take them alive was child’s play.
Twilight Sparkle watched as the last merc fell unconscious to Applejack’s strong kick. Huffing, the mare checked on all her friends. They too were heavily breathing, but were no worse for wear considering their merc enemies were on the ground out cold.
“Everypony ok?” Twilight asked instinctively. “Nothing seriously hurt?”
“Well ma back legs feel right darned bruised up.” Applejack joked, stretching her legs about. “But Ah reckon Ah can’t complain none, geez RD, a little harsh on that there unicorn don’t ya figure?”
The speedster pegasus laughed. “Ha! That’s what they get for facing down Cloudsdale’s greatest flyer ever!”
“I just hope they’re all ok.” Fluttershy remarked, standing over the merc with the dislocated jaw and rubbing his head gently. “After all, they’re just doing their jobs and it’d be terrible to hurt or kill them for it.”
Rarity nodded as she straightened her hair, which had become messy during the fighting. “Oh indeed darling, I would never wish for anypony to be hurt as such, it’s terribly unladylike.”
Pinkie Pie remained oddly silent, apparently reloading her party cannon for use in the next battle. The mare did nod whenever she agreed with something however, mostly to indicate she wasn’t being a meanie and was still listening to her friends.
“Well now we have to help take down the rest of them.” Twilight said, walking back to her library. “We’ve got to hold out long enough for Princess Celestia to arrive with reinforcements.” The purple unicorn trotted inside her home, remaining for several minutes. When she finally came back, her mane was wet and she had familiar Changeling behind her.
Applejack snorted a little at the insectoid. “What in tarnation is he doin’ with ya Twi?”
“He’s going to help us.” Twilight replied. “Aren’t you?” She gave Shape Shift the I’m-a-mage-and-could-turn-you-into-a-frog-so-you’d-better-do-as-I-say look. The Changeling shook his head up and down violently, showing he understood where their new partnership was going.
Twilight nodded and smiled happily. “Good. And now that I plunged my head in freezing water and got rid of my drug high, we can go save the town!”
“B-but Twilight…” Fluttershy stuttered, unsure how to word her question. “I, um… what happens if we find Cadence and she really is how Shape Shift described?”
The purple unicorn paused for a moment, scanning literally hundreds of variables in her head. With a depressed and thoroughly melancholy filled sigh, Twilight steeled herself. “If it is that is the case we’ll have to take her down. Nothing fatal obviously, just enough to keep her still so we can use the Elements on her, you all have your Elements right?”
“Darn tooting!” Applejack exclaimed as she took off her Stetson, revealing her Element underneath.
“Never leave home without!” Pinkie said, pulling it out of her party cannon.
“How could I not have it?” Rarity questioned as she motioned to the Element pendent around her neck. “It is such a fashionable thing!”
Fluttershy simply nodded, the pendent around her neck but previously hidden due to the color schemes being almost identical.
“You wouldn’t let me handle mine…” Rainbow Dash mumbled angrily.
“Right then!” Twilight reached into a bag and brought out hers and Rainbow’s Elements. The mare placed the diadem on her head while tossing the Element of Loyalty to Rainbow Dash. “Let’s go and save our town from… well… average, pretty normal ponies who are just following orders. Huh, for once it’s not some ancient dark evil trying to envelop the world in some negative state of emotion or being.”
“Feels… kinda weird.” Rainbow Dash commented.
Twilight nodded. “Yeah…” The mares and Changeling looked between each other. “Well, let’s get going.” All nodded and sped off as fast as they could, galloping to the city’s center where the militia was making its stand.
“The town had better get reimbursed for this!” Mayor Mare shouted at the top of her lungs as a stunner spell glided over her head into a nearby tree, leaving a noticeable singe mark. The older mare yelped at the sight and ran inside the town hall building.
The town militia captain, a slender golden pegasus mare by the name of Sunset Radiance, rolled her eyes and shook her head. “Politicians…” The mare found herself cut short as she ducked to avoid more stunner spells bolting towards her and her militia. “Crap! Get down! Unicorns! Throw up defense barriers as well as intercept spells! Keep those stuns off of us!”
Ponyville’s militia was in a tight spot; Lightning Dust’s mercenaries had pushed them back to the center of the town, the rough circle that held the town center square and government building. They wouldn’t lose easily, however. They had dug in, put up makeshift barriers, and readied for the attacking mercs.
Now it was a real game of king of the hill, with the militia desperately trying to hold the center while the mercs advanced from three sides. The unconscious bodies of mercs and militia littered the square as stunner spells and ponies from both sides collided against one another, with the mercs slowly pushing the militia back.
Sunset Radiance jerked to the left to dodge a hoof flying straight at her from one of the pegasus mercs, a blue stallion with a jet-black mane. Radiance grunted as the merc sent one of his back knees into her gut. The golden mare pushed herself away using the stallion and did a flip in the air before steadying her body. Her opponent did not relent and charged straight at her. Radiance removed the green bandana that signified her as a Ponyville militia-mare and rushed her attacker. Like a skilled matador, Radiance pulled the piece of cloth over the stallion’s head and wrapped it around him. Radiance pulled the bandana taut and held on as the stallion became crazed, unable to see his path. Radiance pulled herself onto his back and pushed down and led the stallion straight into a building.
The pegasus captain jumped off her swerving transport and landed quickly enough to turn around and see the merc crash into a house through the window. Radiance made a long ‘Ooo’ sound, just watching the impact causing some physical pain for her. Shaking over some pins and needles from her fall the mare stood up to regroup with the rest of her fellows.
“Not one more step.”
“Well crap…” Sunset Radiance said as she turned to the merc unicorn stallion, his horn lit up and ready to fire.
“Stand down, now! I’ll give you one chance.”
Radiance snorted. “Shove your chance where the Sun don’t shine, I hope it gives you constipation.”
“You arrogant whore!” The unicorn charged more magic into his horn and fired.
The twang that was created from the shield spell deflecting the stun spell was quite loud, but in all honesty Sunset Radiance was glad she was not out cold on the ground. The lavender shield shimmered all around her, seemingly more powerful than usual.
The merc unicorn stepped back in befuddlement. “The hell?!” He never saw Radiance’s savior, as a full set of hooves descended on him and stole consciousness from him.
“How dramatic and flashy.” Radiance commented. “How are you not in the Wonderbolts Rainbow Dash?”
The rainbow mane Pegasus stepped off the unicorn, smiling confidently. “Well, if I left how would you guys survive? You’d get your butts kicked like twice a day. Nah, I couldn’t let that happen!”
Radiance simply chuckled and nodded, the shield dissipating around her. The pegasus looked down a street to see Twilight Sparkle and the other Elements racing towards her. “Miss Sparkle, it’s a pleasure to see you. Thanks for the shield by the way.”
Twilight nodded. “You’re welcome Militia Captain. What’s the situation? We’re here to help so we’ll need to know everything.”
Sunset Radiance’s smile faded and she gave the Elements a critical eye. “Apologies ma’am, but I’m not letting civilians get involved, it’s too dangerous.”
Rainbow Dash puffed her chest out and stood defiant. “Civilians?! We’re the Elements of Harmony! We took down Nightmare Moon, Discord, and a whole bunch of Changelings! I think we can handle some average mercs!”
“I’m not taking chances.” Radiance barked. “I’m not explaining why civvies were hurt in combat, especially six civvies Celestia herself holds very dear. The answer is…”
“Yes.” Twilight Sparkle growled. “I am Celestia’s private protégé, that means I can take command when she is not around. So, as the only high-level official around, I’m ordering you to allow us to help.”
“I… I… Well… You can’t…” Radiance tried to think of an excuse but it was to no avail. The pegasus cursed under her breath and nodded. “Alright then, ma’am, welcome to the Ponyville militia. The area is still under our control, but we’re being pushed back ever so slightly. It be a real boon if you could help support the militia with pushing the enemy back.”
Twilight gave a slight nod and understanding eyes. “Ok then, we’ll do that. Go on ahead, we’ll be right behind you.” Radiance saluted the purple unicorn and took off to the sky and towards the battle.
“Wow Twilight,” Rarity began. “I didn’t know you could do that.”
The Solar Princess’s Faithful Student smiled. “I can’t, but I’m not staying on the sidelines while my home is attacked, especially if Cadence is involved.”
The other five mares (and Changeling who had hid to avoid a scene with the Captain) nodded in agreement at that and raced into the town square to help their town’s militia.
The mares were in the thick of battle near instantly, the mercenaries having overrun the barricades and rushing into the square. Twilight’s horn ignited with raw arcane energy that she formed into ethereal tendrils that swiped at any foolish enough to come near.
Applejack had brought excessive amounts of rope, and now the mercs either found themselves tied up tight or roped right into the orange mare’s powerful hind-legs to receive a subsequent buck to the face.
Rarity’s magic wasn’t as powerful as Twilight’s, but her precision was that of a master’s. The white unicorn sent thin stripes of magic at her opponents or created bright flashes to distract mercs and leave them open for the militia to beat them senseless.
Rainbow Dash was as blunt and aggressive as a Minotaur in a china shop. The cyan Pegasus raced about, dodging attacks and following up with a punch to the face or a kick to the tender areas. A good portion of mercs only saw a rainbow blur before losing consciousness.
Before this operation, not a single merc would say that party confections could cause any pain to one’s person. Pinkie Pie’s party cannon changed their minds quickly. Whether it was confetti and colorful pieces of paper or a banana cream pie, the mercs had little defense against cannon launched party projectiles. Afterwards, one mercenary mare would never again eat pie as long as she lived.
Fluttershy, not one to fight, trotted about the battlefield quickly, checking on the wounded for both sides. Skilled in herbalism due to her animal friends’ needs, Fluttershy was easily able to make salves to help lessen any pain. One mercenary was foolish enough to attack her, however. He got a face full of butterscotch yellow hoof before he even knew what had happened. Fluttershy looked at the yellow stallion in front of her. It was Shape Shift, who had taken Fluttershy’s color scheme and added it to a stallion’s form (He didn’t want the mercs to know he was helping the Elements).
“Thank you Shape Shift.” Fluttershy remarked as she helped up a wounded militia-stallion. Shape Shift bowed politely to her. The Changeling readied himself to follow her wherever she went, a self-induced need to repay her kindness driving his resolve.
With the Elements by their side, the town militia began to push back the mercs. Mercenary after mercenary fell to superior magic or strength. The discipline of the invading army fell apart quickly, the initial inertia of the attack fading and being replaced by confusion as their forces where decimated… by six mares! Despite the wounds from the battle (and the fact it was the Elements of Harmony), many of the mercenaries would go on to say their pride was hurt a lot more than their backsides.
From atop a house, hidden from the ground but allowing a view of the fighting, Lightning Dust bit her lower lip in anger at seeing her forces routed. She hated even more that one of the main reasons for the routing was Rainbow Dash. Again that mare showed up Lightning Dust… she would pay!
A pale red pegasus stallion was next to Lightning, watching Rainbow Dash plow through some of his fellows. “Um, Ma’am? Why don’t we go down there right now and take Rainbow Dash out? In all this confusion it’d be easy.”
The light opal mare nodded. “You’re right, it would… But Cadence told me to hold back. Rainbow Dash will be instrumental in freeing Celestia from Chrysalis’s thrall apparently, being the Element of Harmony and all.” Lightning inhaled deeply, smiling wickedly as she did. “But after that’s done, Rainbow Dash is mine to end.”
The pegasus merc nodded. “Of course ma’am.”
Lightning Dust transfixed her gaze back on the fighting. “Though it seems like this plan is falling apart. I wonder if Cadence made backup plans for this.” The mare’s eyes perked and became erect. Turning, she looked down a street and snorted. “Speak of Nightmare Moon, and she will appear.”
Twilight had just finished off one of the last remaining mercs in the town square when the whole area shook with magic. Wobbling about and trying to keep her balance, Twilight steadied herself and looked towards the source of such power. To the unicorn’s dismay, standing in the entrance to one of Ponyville’s main streets, there was Cadence. Only the mare was not as Twilight had seen her last. This Alicorn was a bloody scarlet, and her mane was ethereal and black with red highlights. Her darkened eyes scared Twilight; they looked as though all the mare knew was twisted hatred. The Alicorn stepped into the square.
Rainbow Dash leaned in next to Applejack. “We might want to revise that isn’t an ancient evil thing Twilight talked about earlier.”
Applejack nodded. “Ah hafta agree with ya there, RD.”
“Hello Twilight.” She said, her voice seductive but with a good hint of anger.
The mentioned unicorn shook her head. “No… No it can’t be… You’re… You’re not Cadence!”
“Sunshine, sunshine, ladybugs awake. Clap your hooves...”
Twilight felt a tear run down her face. “And do a little shake…” Twilight gritted her teeth. “Why Cadence?”
The corrupted Princess smiled at Twilight. “Because Twilight, Celestia is under the control of Chrysalis. And most likely, all of you are as well. It’s not your fault if you don’t understand; I know that and I’ll never hold it against you. I’m going to save you though, I’m going to stop Chrysalis…” Cadence smiled transitioned into a frown of hate. “Then I’m going to make all Changelings pay for their crimes.”
“And what about Shape Shift?” Twilight asked. “Is he just a pawn you’ll dispose of later?”
Cadence was caught off-guard by Twilight’s knowledge of her Changeling assistant, but it didn’t matter. “He is different, and will be spared despite his species’ evils.”
Twilight shook her head and looked down to the ground with tears streaming from her eyes. “So it’s true, you’ve lost it… You’ve run into your own personal fantasy world where only you are right…”
“That is not true!” Cadence shouted. “You are simply blind to their control! I will make you see!”
“No Cadence…” Twilight said, bringing her head up and stifling her tears. The unicorn’s horn became a pillar of raw, burning magic. “I will make YOU see!”