Are you sure this is going to work? It seems like a bit of a long shot…
Calm down Celli, I’m sure it’ll all turn out completely fine.
I simply wish that there could be another way, one that didn’t involve you in the line of fire.
Anything worth doing has risks.
But we can choose what risks to take. And I’d rather you not take this one.
Sorry, why mind’s made up.
Then let us pray that our planning works the way it is suppose to.
I know it will Celli!
Knowing my luck she’ll summon Nightmare Moon from the grave...
Cadence hardened her stance on the ground, eyes darting wildly about at the soldiers encircling her with crossbows drawn and bowstrings taut. The Alicorn’s mind was racing, thinking of some way she’d be able to get out of this jam. Celestia’s trap was quite secure however. The Equestrian soldiers’ crossbows targeted Cadence and her mercs. Any sudden moments would result in a bolt in the head.
“Cadence, do not do anything rash.” Celestia implored sadly. “This does not need to end in bloodshed.”
The scarlet Alicorn snorted. “Is that so? You come here with two Changeling Queens and say this won’t end in violence? Hypocritical Aunt Celestia.”
“The irony is of course that Changelings are usually very empathic.” Carapace interjected. “It’s only when our bellies are empty that we get rowdy, which isn’t as heinous considering that’s every species basically.”
“Did I ask for your comment?” Cadence shot back at the Changeling.
“You didn’t. But I suspect that I wouldn’t get my two cents in otherwise.”
“Go to hell!”
“Not unless I take you with me…”
“ENOUGH!” Luna shouted in the Royal Canterlot Voice. The mare huffed slightly and shifted her eyes left to right so ensure she had everyone’s attention. “Good. Now Cadence, please surrender. Your position is hopeless. You’re out-ponied, outgunned, and lack superior positioning. In short, you’re finished. So please, let’s not do this the hard way.”
Cadence gritted her teeth together so hard there was a fear she’d reduce them to dust. “You can’t intimidate me Aunt Luna!”
The Nighttime Princess glared down on her niece with cool detachment. “I assure you Cadence, I can easily intimidate you. I simply choose not to, for fear you may soil yourself in public.”
The maddened Alicorn didn’t reply, but simply readied herself more for the fight she knew was about to come. This action only served to get a rise out of Luna, who snorted aggressively and ground at the rooftop angrily. Celestia looked to her sister to try and calm her but it did nothing, Luna was ready to beat Cadence into a bloody pulp.
The younger Alicorn sister finally huffed at Cadence. “Fine then foolish child. You want a fight? Then prepare to be beaten until your own swollen eyelids are all you can see!” Luna ignited her horn and unfurled her wings, ready to charge her niece.
Before the Alicorn could take off Chrysalis placed a hoof in front of her and shook her head. “No Luna, I’ll handle Cadence.”
Luna cocked an angry eyebrow at Chrysalis. “What? That is unnecessary Chrysalis; I will deal with this fool myself. There is no need for you to put yourself in…”
“I insist.” Chrysalis sternly replied. “She wants to fight me? So be it. It’s time this game ended, and no one else is getting harmed because of her hatred for me.” Chrysalis turned her head to Cadence and frowned. “So, how are those terms Cadence? You and I fight, just us and no one else. The loser is at the mercy of the victor.”
Cadence pondered this for a moment. They were terms she could accept, but she had some of her own to offer. “And what about my mercenaries?”
“Full amnesty, if you abandon your attack on Ponyville and release all the hostages.” Celestia added in.
Cadence nodded. “Alright, fine. I accept this little duel of yours Chrysalis.” The Alicorn looked to her mercs. “Stand down, release any captured ponies as well as the Elements of Harmony.”
The mercs nodded at Cadence’s orders and surrendered (though if it was loyalty to Cadence or them not wanting to die was anyone’s guess). The two mercs that were trying to haul away Rainbow Dash, finding it very hard due to the mare’s violent thrashing, removed her cuffs and backed away from her. She gave them angered looks and they scurried away to their fellows.
“WHAT?!” Lightning Dust shouted. “No! That wasn’t part of the deal!”
“Stand down Lightning Dust.” Cadence ordered. “This only between Chrysalis and I now.”
“N-NO!” Lightning Dust screamed, a hot tear flowing down her face. “NO! You promised! You promised me my revenge on Rainbow Dash for what she did!” The mare shook, anger overflowing as she realized she’d been cheated out of her boon.
“I don’t care.” Cadence stated flatly. “In fact, I wasn’t even going to let you hurt Rainbow Dash at all. So just shut up and accept it.”
Lightning felt more tears trickle down her face. Everything had been a sham, a trick by Cadence. It was a massive blow, to know that she would be tricked out of her desire no matter what happened. The mare clenched her teeth and shook in hatred. “No… No… NO!” Lightning twisted around in place and shot forth towards Rainbow Dash. “I WILL NOT BE SCREWED OVER! RAINBOW DASH IS MINE!”
Cadence made a ‘humph’ sound and shook her head, horn igniting in magic. “Well, you were losing your usefulness anyway.” The scarlet mare aimed her head down and targeted Lightning Dust. Firing off a bolt of nasty magic, Cadence watched uncaring as it soared towards the Mercenary Captain with the intent to kill.
Blood erupted into the air in a geyser of red. Celestia, Luna, Chrysalis, the guards, and all the present mercs stared wide-eyed at what had just happened. No one, however, was more wide-eyed than Lightning Dust. The mare twitched slightly as she processed what had just happened. She landed on the ground with a loud thud and grunted a little bit from the impact. Her eyes instantly locked on to the blood staining her coat crimson. Despite that however, it wasn’t the thing she was most focused on. Her mouth quivered a bit as she formed the word.
Rainbow Dash slowly brought her head up, a cocky grin on it despite the gashing wound now inflicting her entire right side. She chuckled slightly before answering. “Cause… Cause we were teammates right? And teammates always look after each other.”
Lightning Dust stared wide-eyed into Rainbow Dash’s eyes, lost for words. Rainbow Dash had taken the blow for her, a blow that while only wounding Rainbow Dash would have killed Lightning. The opal mare had wanted Dash dead for what she saw as ruining her chance to become a Wonderbolt as well as her life. But despite that she still, still saved her from death. The mare didn’t know if what Rainbow Dash had said about being teammates was truthful or mocking, but it really didn’t matter. Lightning Dust was still unable to form any more words as Dash slipped into unconsciousness from blood loss.
Chrysalis stared blankly with mouth agape at the two mares intertwined in the bloody mass only meters away. Her shock turned into anger and she glared at Cadence. “NOT. ONE. MORE!” The Changeling Queen charged the Alicorn.
Cadence quickly snapped back into reality as the Changeling charged her. Panicked by the unforeseen attack, Cadence ignited her horn to escape. Her mind cycled through several possible locations but seeing the Changeling lunge at her brought one specific memory to mind. And so the Alicorn teleported, taking with her Chrysalis… as well as a buttercup yellow stallion with a pink mane, who was able to jump in just in time.
Chrysalis wrestled with Cadence as the two mares were flung across the ethereal plane towards whatever destination Cadence had picked before teleporting. Chrysalis was more or less just trying to hold on, knowing full well what would happen should she get blown about while teleporting. She could end up anywhere, in anything. She wasn’t too keen on that idea.
The Changeling Queen felt a tug on her and before she knew it the world left the erratic and pulsating bluish tint of teleportation into a flash, and then complete and total darkness. Chrysalis fell away from Cadence and hit the ground with a hard thud. Instinctively lighting up her horn, Chrysalis looked around at her surroundings.
She was in a vast expanse of caverns, so wide and large she couldn’t see far away down the cavern. Crystals of a pink-purplish lined the walls, reflecting a very clear image of Chrysalis from varying angles. Chrysalis gulped as she realized where she was. The site of one of her greatest crimes against the mare she now had to face in deadly combat.
“Fitting, isn’t it?” Chrysalis’s head shot forward as she saw Cadence walking towards her, horn ignited and a cruel smile across her face. “This is where you left me to rot while you tried to destroy my life… but now? Now it’ll be your tomb.”
Chrysalis stood up as Cadence fired her magic off into the air and into the crystals lining the walls, causing them to light up with magic so the two had a clear sight of the cave and each other. Chrysalis looked around, trying to formulate a strategy for fighting Cadence in this cavernous environment. It was then that she saw a shape in the cavern, unlike the others. It was small and completely black with an insectoid form, and was currently getting itself up.
Chrysalis became slightly elated. “Shape Shift? Is that you?”
The little Changeling finally righted himself and looked to his Queen, nodding happily at her to confirm him as him.
Chrysalis wanted to run over and hug her last drone, but the presence of Cadence halted such a desire. Instead, the Queen simply smiled back. “I’m glad you’re ok. I’ve been worried about you ever since Cadence attacked me at the hospital. Thank Creation she hasn’t harmed you.”
“And why would I?” Cadence asked angrily. “He is the one bright spot in the otherwise black pit of tar that is your species. I would never hurt him.”
“And yet you would condemn the rest of us…” Chrysalis hissed. “Shape Shift is no more kinder or more gentler than any other Changeling who has sworn to protect one they care for.”
“I highly doubt that.” Cadence replied. “Shape Shift is different. He helped me when I knew nopony else would and is one of the greatest reasons I’m standing up to you instead of wallowing in my room in controlled anger. I doubt any Changeling would help me as he has!”
Chrysalis stared at Cadence, mouth slightly agape as she processed the information. Slowly, the Queen started chuckling and shaking her head. She looked to Shape Shift. “You drones always do take your work much too seriously. You never know when to stop do you? Oh Shape Shift, I would have been perfectly fine if you didn’t help Cadence try to kill me, but I understand your reasons. Still, you could have convinced her to calm down, instead of fueling the fire…”
Shape Shift frowned, turning his head down in shame and kicking his black hoof against the hard floor. He chittered mournfully, trying hard to apologize to his Queen.
“It’s ok Shape Shift.” Chrysalis said. “I understand that Cadence is your friend and you wanted to help her any way you could. Regardless, my little drone, I release you from your bonds of servitude to the Equestrian Princess Mi Amore Cadenza. Return to the Hive, young one, and serve your people with distinction once more.”
Shape Shift bowed to Chrysalis briefly before buzzing his wings rapidly and in sort bursts. Despite a lack of the Changeling ways, Cadence was certain the drone was communicating with his Queen.
Chrysalis nodded after his buzzing was complete. “Of course little one, I don’t expect you to stand against her now. I allow you to stay neutral in this fight, no matter how much either of us wants you to participate. And Shape Shift, when this battle is done, I’d like you to stand by the victor, whoever that may be.” Shape Shift buzzed a little in acknowledgment, and then flew off to hide away from the battle.
Chrysalis returned her glare to Cadence. “Now, are you ready to end this?”
Cadence’s eyes followed Shape Shift as he fled, relieved he wouldn’t be a part of this. She didn’t want him to be hurt during her victory. Staring down Chrysalis, Cadence nodded. “More than ready…” The Alicorn lit up her horn.
Green and black auras collided in an explosion of magic as the two mare fired off pulsating magic at one another. Each gritted their teeth as they pushed harder and harder, trying to pump out as much magic as possible into their respective blasts. The magic began to become uncontrollable and bounced off or shoot out randomly, blowing apart pieces of the caverns and sending gravel and stone into the air. The sheer power of the impacting blasts shoved Chrysalis and Cadence backward somewhat.
Cadence huffed heavily as she took slow steps towards Chrysalis, pouring copious amounts of magic into her attack. “Y… You can’t defeat me! I survived against Carapace… A Queen that is a lot stronger than you are!”
Chrysalis felt herself getting pushed back, stray magic falling from the epicenter of hers and Cadence’s magic and almost killing her in an explosion. The Changeling looked to her opponent with a look a steadfast defiance. “Yeah… You’re right. Carapace has always been stronger than me… even when we where larvae.” Chrysalis fell to one knee as pain shot around her body from maintaining her attack. “You know Cadence… Changelings try not to steal love. We like freely given love… It’s so much better and feeds us longer.”
“SO?!” Cadence shouted as she pressed her power on Chrysalis.
Chrysalis inhaled deeply and closed her eyes. “So… I’ve had months of freely given love from Celestia.” The Changeling reopened her eyes; now empty portals of goo green magic. “And I’ve gotten a supercharge!”
Cadence’s eyes widened. “Wha…” She wouldn’t finish her sentence as Chrysalis’s magic overpowered hers in seconds, taking over the attack and throwing straight at her. The Alicorn broke the attack and unfurling her wings took to flight, but before the attack singed her lower back legs and causing her to scream out in pain.
Queen Chrysalis watched Cadence land on a nearby outcropping, nursing her burnt leg. “I give you one chance Cadence!”
The scarlet Alicorn snarled at the Changeling. “Go to hell! I’ll not be outclassed by you!” Cadence’s eyes soon faded as well, replaced by black wells of dark magic. “I’ll kill you here once and for all!”
Discord watched from another outcropping, a smile on his face and a popcorn in his claw. “Oh man, this is gonna be good! I think this is what we all waited for, wouldn’t you agree dear readers?” The Draconequus pondered for a second. “You know… this needs mood music… I’ve got the perfect song to, it’ll be so ironic!”
The chaotic spirit took out a record player from nowhere and set a large round, black disk on it. Grabbing the player’s needle and dipping it onto the record, the Draconequus awaited the song to start playing.
“Ok, um, hello. I’m Discord and I think I should be on the next Equestrian Idol because, well, my voice is simply divine! Just listen, and be amazed! Ah-hem. AIN’T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH, AIN’T NO VALLEY LOW ENOUGH! AIN’T NO RIVER WIDE ENOUGH, TO KEEP ME FROM GETTING TO YOU BABY!!!!”
Discord slammed onto the record player and stopped it abruptly. The spirit blushed and chuckled slightly. “Ooo… How’d that get in there? Haha… Ignore that… That’s uh… That’s nothing.” He flipped the record over. “Alright, here we go!” The slow beat of piano began to play…
Cadence began firing off bolts of intensified magic at Chrysalis, who whirled around left and right to try and avoid them as best she could.
♫This plan was going to be perfect,
A daring plan of which I've made with so much care!
But now it has all gone askew,
And it is all because of you!
More a reason for me to hate you damned bugs!♫
Chrysalis sidestepped against a particularly large blast and shielded herself from several more. The Changeling lit up her horn and blasted away at Cadence’s outcropping. The scarlet Alicorn flew up just as the ledge was incinerated by magic. Before she could act again however, Cadence was caught by tendrils of green magic and promptly thrown around. Chrysalis flung the Alicorn into rocks and crystals, tearing her coat to shreds and drawing large amounts of blood. Despite this, when she spoke there was only sadness in her voice…
♫All this was going to be perfect,
I had a Princess I cared for with so much love…
Oh but it seems I am cursed…
Now Cadence wants me in a hearse,
And now all of my beautiful dreams may have died!♫
Cadence sent her magic out in a wave of magic and shot towards Chrysalis, closing the gap between them in milliseconds. The mare charged magic into her body and slammed her hooves into Chrysalis, each one exploding into a burst of fiery magic that singed Chrysalis’s insectoid carapace. The Changeling was unable to defend herself as Cadence threw punches at her at super speeds that her eye couldn’t even track. Cadence enjoyed the screams released by the Changeling as she repeated to ram attacks into her.
♫I could care less about your love,
I won't partake in this sham!
Friends? HA! I'd be lying if I said!
I hate you without much reason,
And I’d risk committing treason,
If it meant I could truly kill you all!♫
Cadence focused all the magic in her body to her horn and let out a torrent of scarlet flames, scorching her Changeling foe. If Chrysalis wasn’t charged up with Celestia’s love, she’d have died right there.
♫Yes I hate you with passion,
In my heart there is but rage!
That’s why victory will be all mine!♫
Chrysalis felt her consciousness slipping away from her, but she held on. Grasping hold of a large well of magic, her horn was engulfed in a liquid-like goo green aura. Yelling at the top of her lungs, the Changeling fired a rapid of green magic water that doused Cadence’s fire and sent the mare rushing backward. Cadence hit a wall and was crushed by the flowing rapids of water. Chrysalis sent spikes into her water that stabbed Cadence and drew blood that stained the green water. Cadence’s eyes glowed a bright black and her magic dispersed the magic water. Huffing only once, she fire electricity at Chrysalis. The Queen was back on the defensive…
♫Must win this before it's too late,
Find a way to save the day!
Hope, I'll be lying if I say!
I don’t fear for myself at all,
I want to protect them,
Those that gave me a chance for a recall!
For I have seen my error,
I wish to right my cruel sins…
Oh, my precious love, this’ll be done very soon!♫
Cadence sent out a whiplash of magic that caught Chrysalis the leg and wounded her heavily. The Changeling was in pain as she fell to the ground and gritting her teeth harshly. Cadence jumped on top of her and smiled darkly. She charged her horn with magic and lunged it at Chrysalis. The Queen helplessly dodged each one and sent out her own attacks. Frighteningly, they all hit Cadence and spilled a considerable amount of blood, but the Alicorn paid no heed. All that mattered was piercing through Chrysalis’s skull.
♫Finally the moment has arrived
For you to have finally died!♫
Chrysalis made one last attempt to subdue Cadence by charging huge amounts of magic into one of her fore-hooves. Bringing up with terrible strength, it hit Cadence square in the face. The Alicorn’s head jerked back as the punch collided with her. Chrysalis heard the sick sound of bones cracking. Cadence didn’t flinch however and simply smiled satanically at her enemy. Chrysalis froze, wide-eyed.
♫Oh, this can’t be how it ends!
Now can’t be the time that I bend!
This victory must be…♫
Cadence plunged her horn into Chrysalis’s shoulder blade, prompting a scream from the Changeling as green blood spilled out.
♫…Mine, all mine.♫
Cadence laughed darkly as Chrysalis screamed from the pain. The Alicorn dug her horn deeper into the Changeling’s shoulder, forcing more blood out of her in excruciating agony. “See Chrysalis?! I’m still stronger than you! I can’t be beat! Today is the day you die!”
Chrysalis breathed heavily as she looked at Cadence. “No… Not today…” Her horn once more became ignited.
“HA! You think that any spell you have will work on me?! STUPID BUG!” Cadence laughed as she ignited her own horn, preparing to blast apart Chrysalis’s enter left side.
Even as her spell became fully charged and started flowing up her horn to be fired, Chrysalis lost herself in memory…
Try to subdue her first; it’ll be a lot easier for all of us if you do.
And if she’s too strong and I can’t knock her out? Should I still use the spell?
I do not recommend it. It uses a lot of magic and gives quite the strain on your physical aspects as well. Maker knows I want you to use it as a final resort.
Celestia I’ll be fine. It’s not like…
It could kill you if you put too much into it…
Oh… Well, I guess I should be care then.
This is no joke Chrysalis! This is not only Cadence’s life we’re talking about, yours will also be in danger.
I’ll be fine Celli. Besides, I need to do this.
No you don’t! Luna or I would be much better suited for…
For what? Attacking Cadence and possibly killing her if you can’t subdue her? It’s me she wants, so it’s me she’ll get! I’ll have no one else get hurt for the hatred she bears for me.
Sometimes I wish you were still selfish, and not so persuasive.
But that’s why you love me right?
Cadence couldn’t even feel it when the spell hit her straight in the chest and sent her flying backward to the other side of the cavern floor they occupied. But as she hit the ground, pain cycled through the Alicorn’s body. The mare writhed in agony as she felt harsh stings of magic ripple through her body.
When the pain finally subsided, Cadence was twitching wildly with the aftertaste of a riot control stunner spell, a nasty perversion of the regular thing that hurt like mad. Still she managed to get herself up. It was probably pure luck that she was able to get a counter spell up before it took her out. Oddly though, it felt as if Chrysalis didn't put all her buck into the spell. As if held back for something else.
An impossibly bright flash of green filled the entire cavern, blinding Cadence. The mare covered her eyes but even then the light was unbearable. Almost an entire minute had passed before the light began to dim once more and Cadence could see properly. When she opened her eyes to seek out the source of the light, however, Cadence was met with surprise as she saw what spell Chrysalis had conjured up.
“What’s the matter Cadence?” Chrysalis said confidently as she got up. “Seeing double?” The Changeling asked again, only it wasn’t the same Chrysalis that had asked first. Cadence felt her eye twitch as she looked upon not one, not two, but six Chrysalises, Chrysalides? There were more than one, that’s the point.
Cadence took a step back in shock for a moment, unable to believe what she was seeing. Suddenly, a realization came upon her, and the scarlet Alicorn began laughing hysterically. She sat down and clapped her hooves together. “Well, well, well, very nice Chrysalis. Good to know that you can do proper illusion magic.” Cadence lit up her horn and shot a magical shockwave towards Chrysalis and her doubles. “But I don’t have time for cheap tricks!”
The Chrysalises lit up their horns and erected a shield that deflected Cadence's attack. Cadence could see the shield shimmer and the Chrysalises wane slightly. She knew enough of shield magic to know that they were having some difficulty holding up the spell. Regardless of the obvious strain, the Changelings were able to keep up the shield. The head Chrysalis smiled. “Oh Cadence, I assure you, I didn’t just conjure up some cheap trick. Now, where were we? Oh right! Crazy Cadence beat down time!” All six Chrysalises smiled. Alright, according to Celestia, my current physical strength and magic reserves given that I made five copies of substantial power means I got seven minutes to discharge this spell before it either renders me unconscious, or kills me. No pressure, right?
Chrysalis and her copies readied themselves to charge. “It’s time to end this thing now Cadence!”