Queen Chrysalis sat on her own throne she had her changeling bring into the wedding hall. She had spent a few hours sitting in lewd poises on Celestia's throne, had some photos taken, then taped them facing inward on Princess Celestia's cocoon prison. Chrysalis' pointy teeth gleamed as Princess Celestia's face burned at the photos. The Princess of the Day noted, however, that the egotistical Queen didn't seem to look at any of the photos herself.
Her new personal scribe recorded everything for her. She had loaned her new personal messenger to Digger Wasp for the time being, and her new magical slave was overseeing her major project.
Sweetie Belle sat on the arm rest of the queen's throne, smiling, still wearing her dress. Shining Armor standing on the other side of the throne, his face completely blank and empty.
Sweetie smiled wider as the queen stroked her mane, as Applejack stood before her, playing the violin for them in a private concert.
Chrysalis chose to indulge herself with her second favorite hobby.
"I am mightier than the Sun,
More cunning than the Chaos.
More beautiful than Harmony,
I put her face to shame"
"Oh, look at me. What do you see?
There's no one greater than me
I'm the Queen. The best you've seen
So worship me"
Sweetie sang as AJ played.
Chryssy we worship you as number one"
"OH YES! I'm evil personified
So get down on your knees"
"And if you're ever graced by my beauty
You'll thanks your lucky star
Aren't I great?
I'm amazing myself all the time" Chrysalis laughed.
"Equestria will quench our thirst!"
"QUENCH YER THIRST!" AJ sang.
"If you dare to get in my way"
"WE'LL MAKE YOU PAY!" Sweetie cheered.
"You won't live another day"
Sweetie and AJ sang together.
"Queeny, just show yer beauty
Yer the baddest queen under the sun
Keep on shining. We'll keep on whining
She's our queen. She's the baddest to be seen
Dear Chryssy yer da wicked beauty
We bow down to you eternally"
AJ finished her song with the fiddle with a flourishing bow.
Sweetie Belle clapped. "That was great Applejack! I didn't know you could play the violin!"
AJ gave a tired smile to Sweetie Belle still standing on her hind legs, carrying the bow and fiddle in her forelegs, "Ah learned it when Ah was with Aunt and Uncle Orange as a filly. They said how ma was good at playin' it, and Ah should give it a try, Ah was a little disappointed when Ah didn't get a cutie mark for it. Guess Ah was a bit like Applebloom like that..." Her lip quivered just slightly at the mention of her baby sister.
"But yer really good!"
"Yeah, but it's not what makes me happy."
"So..." Chrysalis smirked, "You hid learning it, because it wasn't 'uncouth farmer' enough? Because it reminded you of that place that made you miserable, even though it was something you were proud learning, something of your mother's that could never be taken away from you? My my, how utterly DECEITFUL for the Element of Honesty!"
AJ opened her mouth, but suddenly choked on her words.
"Aren't you happy you're brainwashed so you got a chance to play without feeling embarrassed or ashamed?" Sweetie asked.
Applejack's body sweated as she looked ready to vomit, "Y-yeah. Sweetie, i-it's real nice."
"Are there any other great tricks you can do? I know! All those rope tricks you do with Applebloom!"
Sounding tired, AJ said, "S-Sweetie, are ya really sure-"
"Do as she says Slave."
"Y-yes, Yer Madjesty."
"No, no, no," Chrysalis put her horn to AJ's head, "That won't do at all. You should be happy to entertain my little song bird. You should consider it an HONOR!" She hissed. "That is a TRUTH for you! OBEY it!" She snarled.
AJ's mouth twisted into a pleasant smiled hesitantly like she was trying not to. She said cheerfully. "Of course Yer Majesty! Of course! Ah'm Happy to obey!" She said, her body looking even more ill than before.
"Like you should be!" Sweetie Belle said smiling and nodding.
"Now say it to her," Chrysalis pointed.
"Yes Yer Highness," AJ bowed to Sweetie Belle.
AJ proceeded to give Chrysalis and Sweetie Belle their own private rodeo, Shining Armor not budging an inch or saying a word, Princess Celestia was an audience whether she wished to be or not. Sweetie Belle munched on popcorn.
Twilight Sparkle shot off orders gatling gun fast as she trotted around. Her mane was done up in a bun and she was wearing glass as she look over a check one by one side and a mind numbingly complex magical diagram and algorithm on the other. The ponies and disguised changelings obeyed her with equal fear of disappointing the one who spoke for the one they worshiped (who was not the same pony).
Kabuto, disguised as a unicorn, was very annoyed at the lunch-meat telling him what to do, and having basically taken over the entire operation. What made him much more angry was that she had rewritten the spell and giant rune to be more efficient in a matter of hours, which had taken him and his fellow bio-alchemists years to put together, while this lowly piece of food was making them look like fools. And to top it all off, she was getting it done MUCH FASTER than any of the logistics had predicted!!! She had even had Spike dragon mail similar instructions and changes to undercover changelings at the other key points to get the runes engraved into the ground faster with actually increasing their effectiveness once activated. A plan that was scheduled to take weeks, would be accomplished in one or two days.
And the way she spoke about EVERYTHING like she KNEW everything, with that smug arrogant attitude that put even Queen Chrysalis' moon sized ego to shame. Forget the vivisection, Kabuto wanted to break her horn off and shove it down her throat just to SHUT HER UP!
"So while using the leylines as a connecting line for the runes was a brilliant move, you need to make the mana flow able to adjust itself for the micro variances in the position of the leylines for maximum efficiently. Using this much magic at once could go very wrong for everypony involved if the calculations are off, thankfully, with me, that isn't likely to happen. Now as you can see, by rotating the workforce, you're actually increasing productivity, and while Earth Ponies are the most physically strong naturally, this doesn't make them automatically the best workers for a task, since there are unicorns and pegasi who are more fit, and Earth ponies who are less fit. And SERIOUSLY, just look at a map of Canterlot and Equestria, the lines that ALREADY exist in the roads and blinds can cut down on construct time overwhelmingly! And further more-"
Or Kabuto would rip off his own ears, whichever came first.
"Sir." Said a 'pegasus guard', "The spell rune is completed in the north west district, should we move onto the northern district?"
Kabuto opened his mouth-
"Oh you don't need permission for moving onto the next section, that's just for higher ups can feel important. I've already laid out the work schedule down to the last brick. With a waver window in case of trouble makers. Thank you for reporting the update though. That's very good work of you and your work team House Fly!"
"Oh I . . ." The changeling grunt was not used to being THANKED by someling who knew what he was. "You're welcome Miss."
"I'll need to inspect each section personally though, I hope you understand."
"Of course, Miss." The changeling BOWED, to HER.
"Don't bow to a slave you idiot!"
Twilight Sparkle looked at him dully. "I am merely carrying her Majesty's will to the best of my ability, if there is something wrong with my work, please explain it to me."
Kabuto gritted her teeth. "No. I find nothing wrong with your work. I think when I vivisect you, I'll leave out the anesthetic."
"Now that's not very wise. Even if you use a powerful paralyze spell, the body has natural reactions to such high levels of pain, and would compromise your findings."
Kabuto wanted to scream. House Fly politely backed off and got back to work. He didn't even considering asking to know what exactly it was they were building.
"I still don't understand what this rune is even for, and WHY it must be etched into the grounds around Ponyville, and WHY it must be done so fast!" Mayor Mare said to the unicorn envoy from Canterlot.
"It's quite simple," he said, "Her Majesty has ordered these runes must be completed as soon as possible."
"I heard that the first time! But why?"
"Her Majesty ordered it, you need more reason than that? That's not very faithful to Her Majesty is it?"
Mayor Mare shuddered a bit under the unicorn's gaze. "T-that isn't it at all! Ponyville and its citizens are my responsibility! If this project has to be done as fast as you're ordering, and involves us, then we have a right to know WHY."
"...It is for the future of Equestria. The less that is known about it, the less that Her Majesty's enemies can learn about it. Are you a spy Miss Mayor? Is that why you want to know things that you aren't being told, and so clearly therefore don't need to know?"
"What?! Don't be absurd! I am not a spy! And what enemies? Equestria has no enemies. We haven't been at wars...I can't remember the last time we HAD a war besides Nightmare Moon's civil war!"
"Do you want ponies to panic? Do you want to trot around in paranoia? And you're naive to assume Equestria can have everything, and those who have nothing wouldn't hate us for it. Plus, all the dangerous beasts of Everfree who can simply wander from it and hurt your ponies. Do you care nothing for them besides their votes?"
"Of course not! I care about them the way I care about my own family! They're all part of my herd as far I care!"
"So do you care about your herd?"
"How can you even ask that that?"
"THEN SHUT THE BUCK UP AND GET BACK TO MAKE SURE THIS LAND RUNE IS ENGRAVED YOU COUNTRY BUMPKIN!!!"
Big Mac just hoped his family got compensated for all this public works time he was putting in.
"And the rune engraving at the other six location across Equestria are proceeding ahead of schedule, nice," Twilight said happily getting the dragon mail from Spike. Of course some of the runes had been partially built ahead of time under the guise of 'public work projects' thanks to 'Princess Cadence,' but with her innovations they'd be finished in no time. Still, Twilight wondered why Her Majesty had given her strict orders not to reveal the purpose of the rune to anyling.
"Alula, you want to join the school newspaper?" Cheerilee asked surprised. Alula's school activity participation have always been of a more athletic nature.
"Yes, Miss Cheerilee! I do!" The pegasus filly smiled. "I know Diamond Tiara made a lot of ponies unhappy, but they must have still liked it if they kept buying it even when it made them unhappy! And I know you made her not editor anymore, but she must have had some good for the paper before then if you kept her on until then."
"Well, that's sort of right dear, but...no offense to the poor dear, but I'm not sure her actions as editor of the Foal Free Press should be emulated."
"Don't worry Miss Cheerilee, I'm just going to make the paper popular again! I'm not going to blackmail anypony! Honest!"
"Well, our current editor is saying they aren't very inspired by the job, so I guess-"
"Thank you miss Cheerilee!" Alula smiled, "I just know I'll be useful after the wedding at Canterlot is finished, then ponies will be interested in reading local again. I promise, I'll have lots of interesting stuff for them to read then."
"Wait, what?" I asked, blinking.
"I know it sounds crazy...but it's the truth..." the little filly responded. I recognized her voice.
"They just announced that the Luna and the guards that were thrown out where the invaders..." TLC reported, coming back in.
"...The conspiracy theorist in me would say they're the invaders trying to trick us," I said without thinking. For the first time in weeks, I felt like one of my theories might be right...
"You're right..." the foal said, hugging that little phoenix of hers close, like if she let go of him for a second, he'd vanish.
"...Why couldn't I have been right about the door knobs? At least they're harmless."
"You're believing the filly?" TLC asked me. I wasn't looking at her face.
Golden hadn't spoke a word just yet, she seemed more concerned with how frightened the filly was.
"She...helped me once before. She's smarter than she looks...speaking of which, filly, where are the other two who are with you? The grown up pegasus and the elderly unicorn?"
"My sisters...I don't know where my big sister is but...but bigger sister...Chrysalis...she...she took her..."
"There there," said Golden, gingerly, trying to calm her down. "Everything will be okay..."
I looked outside the window at the city. Naturally, many ponies were staying indoors, since there was a present and direct threat. Those that weren't seem to be building some strange...thing.
"So...if what you said is right, we're trapped in this city currently ruled by these creatures, and everyone else that could stop them is indisposed to the best of your knowledge?"
The filly nodded.
I gave a sad, pitiful chuckle. "All the years of worrying about some joint Alicorn, Pegasi, and Unicorn conspiracy against Earth Ponies and then after I've finally let go of it, I end up in the middle of an actual conspiracy against all of Equestria..."
"...So, what are we going to do?" asked TLC.
"I thought you didn't believe her."
"I didn't say that."
"So you believe a race of monsters have taken over Canterlot?"
"...I know enough psychology to recognize when somepony is trying to take advantage of it," TLC admitted. "...Telling us that the Princess Luna and Guards who just got thrown out were the invaders? That's too simple...it feels too CLEAN. Like it's telling us what we WANT to hear rather what makes the most sense given what we saw.
"Not one of them looked different than a normal pony, I don't know how shapeshifters work, but most disguise spells I know of fade when the user is knocked out minus high level ones. It feels unlikely not one of those ponies would 'drop their disguise' when they were hit. What she's saying...it just makes more sense."
"That's quite well thought out of you."
"My livelihood is trying to figure out the source of patients delusions and what's a part of it and what isn't. Thinking things out well is my job. There's enough in favor of what she's saying that it's probably she's not insane."
Golden looked up at me. "Filthy...you said Silver Ax was there?"
I sighed. "Yes...along with his daughter and Miss Rarity..."
"...What are we going to do? We can't just sit here doing nothing while they're in danger."
"...Golden...I...I just got you back...I..."
"...Filthy, we've lost our little Princess...I don't want Silver Platter to lose hers too..."
I gasped, staring at the look on her face. It was so serious. So protective. It was...it was Golden, pure and simple her. That intensity I remembered her having.
"I don't want her to go through what I...what I put you through thanks to those things if there's one thing I can do about it."
"...You're right...I can't put Silver Platter through that...losing her mate and her daughter...or worse, these things worming their way into their heads and using them to get to her...Or two coming back as her loved ones...Besides...there's no way for us to get out of the city..."
"...Mr. Rich...if you make this choice, you'll be stepping out of the background," the filly explained, looking oddly serious. "You'll have to be the hero...If you do, you can't stop until you've saved the day or...or lost completely. There is no 'back out' once you make that choice. You'll have to keep it through until the end. Is that really the fate you want to choose?"
I thought about it. Diamond...my little Princess...I couldn't save you...I stopped Golden from making a horrible mistake, but ultimately I couldn't protect you...I can only hope to get you back one day.
"...Golden's right...I couldn't save our daughter...I failed...If I can save Silver and his daughter...bring them home safe to Silver Platter...Then I won't have failed twice...Besides, I've spent my life searching for a conspiracy to fight back against, why run when I actually have one?"
She looked at Golden. "And you, Mrs. Rich?"
"I'm not 'Mrs. Rich' until...until she's forgiven me. I am Screwball. But I feel the same as Filthy...I failed my little princess, I failed as her mother...now I can save Silver Platter's daughter...I can save your sister...Tell me, filly, do you believe in second chances?"
"Yes...Believe me, I do..."
"Well I think this is mine...And I'm taking it if Filthy is."
"Miss TLC..." I said. "...What the filly said is true...if we DO do this...then...there won't be any turning back. If you want to turn back and pretend you never heard this, you can..."
"...Mr. Rich, with all due respect, I wouldn't be a very good nurse if I didn't stick with my patient until the bitter end," TLC replied. "And I'm a civil servant of Equestria...what kind would I be if I betrayed it in its hour of need."
"Besides...where else is there to turn to? If these things win, it sounds like another end of the world..."
"...Alright then, I suppose we're decided," I took a deep breath and peaked out again. "...Filly, do you know what this strange construction is?"
She shook her head. "N-No...Bigger sister locked me out...I can't find out..."
"...Well, as a businessstallion, I know one thing...you don't put THIS much effort into something unless its bucking important," I stated. "Whatever we do, it should revolve around making it very difficult on them to complete it..."
"And, if I may," TLC added. "They clearly don't want a panic. They're trying to keep the city under control..."
"Alright...I think I might have the beginnings of a plan. But...we need help, we can't do this alone..."
"Who can we turn to?" TLC asked. "Who would believe us?"
"...Somepony observant, very observant...who would see reason if we told him it," I replied thinking. "...I think I know...come on...Let's go..."
Golden looked to the filly. "...What's your name, little one?"
She gasped, looking surprised. "S-Sorry...just I'm not used to ponies being ABLE to ask that...My name...it's...it's Half-Light Dawn..."
"Well, Dawn, let's go get your 'bigger sister' back, shall we?"
"So let me get this straight, after we just saw Princess Luna and her guards get thrown out of Canterlot, and are told that they were mind controlling monsters in disguise, you just happen to teleport into our room at the same time, and guess what, you're that freaky voice that was in my head when...when I had that trip to Ponyville." Spitfire asked, not looking very pleased.
"Private, Soarin'. And I didn't think you were strange at the time, but now I do think you're strange. And you insist you're NOT a freaky mind control monster after you were already inside my head when I didn't notice it, and when the ones we're told ARE the monsters get thrown out, THAT'S when I realize you being there in my head WAS weird? And you JUST HAPPEN to look a lot like a certain purple pony? And swear you're not a shape shifter who got her species wrong? And you're saying that was the real princess, and that the ones telling us ABOUT THE BUGS, are in fact the bugs in the first place?"
"YES! Now can you please untie me?!" I struggled. Dang it. This is still crazy! I'm not supposed to talk to my own auto-recording! "Haven't you heard of the benefit of the doubt?"
"Soarin' has. And that's why I haven't already given you to the guards. Which I am just about to."
"Okay, first off, I arrived BEFORE they got thrown out. I know that cause Luna wasn't even THERE when I got teleported here, and I was here when you heard. Do the numbers, if I got thrown out at the same time as the others, then wouldn't I have been here at the same time they were launched? Not like five or ten minutes BEFORE that?"
They had somepony crunch the numbers (of course the Wonderbolts have a speed and trajectory guy, they're stunt fliers) and they gave a nod, confirming the ponies got launched considerably later than me.
"Congrats. That only leaves what? A dozen other pieces of damning proof against you? We really should just give you to the guards and let them sort it out."
"The only guards left are changelings!"
"How convenient for you. How do we know you didn't just abandon the rest of your fellow monsters to save your own hide when the going turned rough? And THAT'S why you showed up earlier? And your appearance and cutie mark are way too similar to be just dumb luck. And that doesn't change that you and your buddies are mind-invading sickos! Creatures who get their thrills by worming their way into another pony's head? You sicken me. You should go to the guards either way!"
"Look, I CAN'T explain what I really am!"
"And why not?"
"Because you know how in some stories there are truths of the universe that simply aren't SUPPOSED to be known by mortals? Well what me and my siblings are is one of those things. I'm not speaking down to you, it's a 'you literally cannot comprehend it' thing."
"Then you better start dumbing it down."
"...Fine...I'm a demi-goddess, so are my siblings. Our mother is an Alicorn who's...related to Twilight. That's why we look like her. That's as detailed as I can get about why that's the case, if you don't believe me, cut me if you don't believe me, it'll heal in a couple minutes. I was in your head because...to put it in a way I'm ABLE to describe it, me, my big sister, and my little sister are the 'Good Alicorn' on everypony's shoulder. We don't get THRILLS by worming into ponies head, it's our JOB to be that little voice of reason in the back of your mind that helps guide you. Intuition, a conscience, whatever you call it, our job is to help it along, give ponies a little nudge. And before you say 'prove it', think back to when we were in your head, did we ever ONCE tell you something that hurt you? Did any of the choices we suggested you make, and I say suggested because mortals can and HAVE not listened to us, end badly for you or RAINBOW DASH?"
Soarin' looked like he had a headache.
Spitfire slapped me for that last one. "Leave her out of this, she is a FRIEND of mine and that is the most crazy thing I've ever heard."
"So it's too crazy to be a lie I'd have ready for this right?"
"If we cut you, maybe regeneration is just how the shape shifting monster WORK. We don't know either way. And you could have simply gambled on making up a story so wild we'd think you were crazy and harmless, or that we WOULD believe you because it's so crazy. I met a pony once who got by some guards by hitting them with so much nonsense reasons that they let him pass because they were worried just SOME of what he was saying just MIGHT be true."
"But that wouldn't explain why I was in your head that night, would it?" I asked. "Answer THAT question: did ANYTHING I told you that night lead you in the wrong direction like a shapeshifting monster would have? And before you say 'I was earning your trust', if that was the case, then why would I choose to arrive here in the single most UNTRUSTWORTHY fashion possible?"
"Simple: if my theory is right, you did this in the middle of an emergency retreat and hadn't planned for this to happen if your buddies just got kicked out of Canterlot."
Come on, think! You're good at this...
"Alright, then let's assume you're right, what did they say happened to the REAL Princess Luna?"
"And what do your scouts say is happening in Canterlot RIGHT NOW?"
"How do you know we sent scouts?"
"There was a period of time between Luna and company being launched and you receiving a message confirming what happened, you guys do search and rescue and even if you didn't, you're still good ponies who WOULD be worried about what just happened and sent somepony to investigate."
"...How did you-"
"Rainbow Dash. If MY story is correct, I'm her friend, let's assume for a moment I am."
"...Fine, Echo, our fastest, said they're building something. The guards said it was something to protect Equestria."
"If the real Princess Luna was missing, then why isn't there a massive marehunt for her? Why would they be focusing on building a barrier rather than finding one of their missing leaders? Even assuming a large part of the Guard just turned out to be Changelings, they'd have several hundred reserves, including YOU and the other Bolts to call in."
"Or maybe it could be they're honoring what Princess Luna would WANT and to focus on protecting Equestria!"
"Uh...Spitfire, she's got a point. Canterlot didn't even ASK for us to come fill in the void or search for Princess Luna, something that they'd probably have done by now."
"With all that's happened, I'm not surprised everypony is getting their wires crossed."
"Enough that they have a protection project going on you say, but don't think to ask you to help too?"
"We could be just the welcome committee in case the bugs break through the barrier."
"And haven't even told you?"
"They trust us to do our job when we need to. CADENCE is right now in charge, and found out her aunt was replaced by an impostor and PRINCESS CELESTIA is now buckin' hurt! You think that wouldn't leave her with a few strings hanging?"
"But Cadence isn't the ONLY one in charge, is she? What about 'Long Haul'? The chief of Canterlot security who's JOB it would be to call and tell you to do just that or ADVISE Cadence to do it and who's clearly perfectly fine since he's the one who gave the message you received about Luna when you asked? Why would he have you on call, but NOT call you in to help? Does it make sense that the entirety of Canterlot's military control wouldn't think to call you, or any other reserves, in despite it being perfectly logical?"
"Could be they just don't know we're here if you insist."
"EHH! Wrong! You TOLD them you where here, remember? With the letter that got you the report you've spent all this time telling me? They know you're here."
Okay, finally got her a bit stumped it looks like.
"And Spitfire, Cadence would probably be reaching out to ANY friend she has for moral support right now, right?"
"Of course she would, she's...Cadence."
"Your mother babysat her when she was a foal, Cadence looks up to her like Twilight does to her, and before you ask, Shining told me. And you know Cadence too, right?"
"Mom took me to some of the times she foalsat her, we played a bit. We've talked, we're still in touch...so yeah, I know her."
"And other than the one you got inquiring into what just happened, have you gotten one letter from her?"
"When's the last time you or your mother got a letter from her that WASN'T business?"
"A couple of weeks ago, before she came back and set up this wedding. Since then it's just been about stuff like setting up the Wonderbolts to show up at the Wedding...Come to think about it, mom didn't even know there WAS a wedding when I sent her a letter just before the shield went up."
"Not one word about your mother or about you as a FRIEND?"
"So let me get this straight: Cadence is in one of the most emotionally trying times of her entire life, and didn't think once to send a letter to a pony she's known since she was a foal for moral support, or send a letter to get aid from the group lead by one of her foalhood friends? And didn't invite the pony who was HER favorite foalsitter, who she RELISHED the opportunity to see again on her world tour, to her own wedding or even TELL HER there was a wedding? And has been treating both of you like she doesn't even personally know you. You know Cadence, does THAT sound like her one bit?"
"...C-Cadence is just, under so much pressure...sh-she's just being intense because-because of everything that's happened . . ."
"Not inviting you to the Wedding? That I could MAYBE see, but not inviting her FAVORITE foalsitter and one of the few genuine 'I know they're not my friend just because I'm a Princess' friends she ever had? Does THAT sound like Cadence? At all? And before you say 'mom's busy', who has every bit the ability to arrange her leave to attend the wedding? Cadence. Who didn't even TELL her about the wedding? 'Cadence'. Who is the PERSONIFICATION of Bonds? Cadence. Who forgot one of the ponies she had the closest BOND to her entire life in the build up to her big day and treats two ponies she had close bonds to like she doesn't even know them? 'Cadence.' You know Cadence. Is it like her to forget somepony she has that close of a bond to?"
"But let's assume I'm right for a second, why would the Changeling impersonating Cadence act like that? Because she doesn't have Cadence's memories, she doesn't KNOW Cadence knows you that well, she might not even know who your mother even IS. And why would invaders invite MORE outside forces into their work force to potentially discover them? They wouldn't. They'd keep them in the dark. And they wouldn't look for Princess Luna because they just got rid of her themselves along with every guard in Canterlot. The fake Cadence is COUNTING on people thinking the wedding has her nerves on the fritz to cover her tracks."
"...And the bunch of lines scratched into the street?"
"...I don't know...and that worries me, it really does. Everything I knew about the Changelings said nothing about why they're doing that, but I know one thing: their queen is a psychopath who will hurt anypony to get what she wants without a moment's hesitation...She's as bad as Discord, Spitfire, you can trust me on that. If there's one thing in this entire world you CAN trust me on, it's how bucking serious I have to be to say that."
"...Okay. Hold on. Nopony can be as bad as Discord."
"Maybe not as bad POWER wise, but she's just as big of a sadistic psycho as he is...-"
"That's what I meant! That guy was causing misery for misery's sake! Because it was 'fun' for that sicko! With no reason or plan!"
"You didn't see what she did to...to Mrs. Sparkle JUST for her making a SCRATCH on her...she just...twisted her legs and broke them. Not because she was a threat, she WASN'T, she PROVED she wasn't. She did it because she COULD. She's spent the last few weeks torturing Cadence ON TOP of keeping her prisoner...and from the look on her face, she enjoys...enjoys just how much her brainwashed victims are suffering right now..."
Soarin' said, "That's a relief, so she's just another hedonist sadist with no real goals?"
"No. That's why I said she's as bad as he is. Because even though she's not as powerful, she's actually got a plan other than 'get whatever I want', she's just more than happy to eat her cake and have it to."
"And what is it?" Spitfire asked, seriously. I think she was listening now.
"...To make every pony in Equestria cattle for her changelings. I don't mean cows and bulls, I mean 'non sapient griffin cattle.' I mean 'vampires make ponykind into a bunch of living blood bags' cattle. And that's if what she's feeding the Changelings isn't a lie to get what she wants, if it is, I'm honestly afraid to know what her real plan is."
"So in other words, a sadistic hedonist with an army and a plan?"
"Yes...and right now Applejack, Twilight, Spike, and a few other ponies are unwilling parts of that army."
"Wait wait, AJ and Twilight? Rainbow's friends?"
"Long story short, she brainwashed them...she made them help her do this. I've seen enough stuff like this to know when somepony is hurting inside, and they were...and so is my sister..."
"...Is Rainbow okay?"
"...Given the report you guys got, I'm assuming the remaining bearers and the REAL Cadence got away, given the lie about them, but that means Changelings are on their tail right now...But she's not brainwashed...in fact, given what I know about the Element of Loyalty, I'm pretty sure she's the safest from it right now..."
"...I hope so...you said sister, weren't there three of you?"
"Yeah...I...I don't know where my little sister is...she got thrown out with me...I've never spent this long away from them before..."
"Huh? What?" I asked, touching a hoof to my face and looking at the tear. "S-Sorry..."
"...Nothing to be sorry about...helps prove your case though." FINALLY the ropes came off.
"It's funny, I really did want to be independent from those two from day one. Now that I'm finally free, all I want is them back. Am I crazy?"
"Nah...one time before I was captain, I got in a fight with one of the other bolts and yelled 'sometimes I wish you'd just leave me alone'...the captain then told me to never say it because if he botched a stunt, that my wish could come true. And if it happened, then I'd never forgive myself...And last time I met with Rainbow I wanted to be a hero and save the day, now I'm stuck having to save Equestria from a psychopathic witch. So I know that 'be careful what you wish for' feeling right about now."
"...I know Fate...and sometimes, she doesn't set paths like that for us to punish us for wishing for something we shouldn't have...sometimes she does it because she knows we're the kind of ponies who could live up to our wishes...speaking of paths, this is your last chance to turn back. Take that first step...and there's no turning back until either we've stopped Chrysalis or been stopped ourselves...Are you willing to do that?"
"I was a Guard once, kid. And even if I'm not officially one anymore, when you take that Oath, it's not something you should just throw away or take lightly...Those pretenders LIED when they took theirs, no way am I taking that sitting down...Soarin'...up to you, you want to fly into Tartarus for Equestria?"
"You're captain, Spitfire. Where you lead, I follow: same with the rest of us. We're a flock. We stick together, that's OUR oath...and is this a good time to mention we already told the guards about a strange pegasus teleporting into our bedroom?" Soarin' pointed out.
I facehoofed. I couldn't help it.
Spitfire sighed. "If they get here before we're ready, tell 'em she escaped before they got here or something to keep them busy. Suit up Wonderbolts! Looks like we're about to make some noise. Purple feathers, can you fly and fight?"
"I could keep up with Rainbow Dash in an air-fight with a thousand years of experience at her back."
"I see you have Rainbow Dash's ego too."
"Does that mean I get a Wonderbolt suit?"
"No way. No how. Dream on."
"What's your name by the way?"
"Half-Light, Half-light Noon."
"Well, you've just been conscripted. Come on!"
"You want to sponsor the school news paper?" Cheerilee asked.
"Just a favor for a cousin of mine, who'd prefer to remain anonymous. He was very impressed with the scale and reach a simple afternoon newspaper was able to achieve, and feels if given another chance, it can do eve greater things. I don't normally do him favors, but he pointed out that given it was a mare from Ponyville who adverted a world twice ruled by Discord. How could I say no to offering my services after being reminded of that?"
The stallion was midnight blue, had a green mane, and yellow eyes. She could barely make out his cutie mark against his coat, it was a black pyramid. He was also wearing a snazzy collar and tie.
"That's very generous of you, we've been looking for a way to restore the paper's reputation after...ahem, things got of hoof."
"From what I heard, ponies continued to buy the newspaper anyway, if they truly disliked it, if they were truly disgusted by it, they would have stopped buying it, no sales, no school paper at the news stand."
"...Well! All the same, I hope ponies know such mistakes won't ever be repeated."
"I assure you Miss Cheerilee, the newspaper's mistakes in the past will NOT be repeated. If you'd let me give it a help hoof."
"Well, I'm certain your help would be appreciated Mr? . . ."
"Please...call me...hmm, Umbra Breeze."
(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): Following the havoc and chaos during and after the Canterlot Wedding, many notes were lost and damaged. So forgive us please if many parts here seem brief. And time is running out.)
(Interviewer's Notes (Earth): Okay.)
(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): Here we go.)
"This doesn't make any sense, why aren't they processing ponies en mass into entranced cattle by now? It's standard procedure, first deal with the population, THEN work on the infrastructure and any other big plans. But the only ponies they seem interested in brainwashing are the guests from the wedding, and any other pony who realizes the truth. And they're relying on Sweetie Belle's singing to keep them all fed and at full power instead of feeding on anypony. This isn't our, their standard tactics at all." Moth said, completely baffled.. "And I have absolutely no idea what the giant rune is all about. Her Majesty never mentioned any of this in her old invasion plans! Chrysalis has been planning this for DECADES. She wouldn't have parts of her plan that don't make any sense...I don't know what she's planning, but she's planning something."
"She barely mentioned it at all around me," Moon Dancer said, "All she really mentioned about it was that if everything went well, then they wouldn't even have to make it and that it was 'plan C.' She just told the Changelings 'it will help us,' and that was that."
"Good for us then," Silver Tongue, Fluttercruel, and Rainbow Dash all managed to say together, they looked at each other and Pinkie Diane giggled.
It was as Cadence had guessed, Chrysalis and her changelings were completely ignoring any place of worship, the churches were complete non-entities to them. Not worth even looking at.
"Not so good, Chrysalis didn't want this plan because it would 'take weeks, even with the pre-built portions I've already arranged,' she said."
"Still sounds good!" Pinkie Diane said.
"But the rate they're going is a dozen times faster than it was supposed to. They're going to finish it in two days or less not weeks."
"That's bad," Pinkie Diane added.
Rarity sighed. "Twilight Sparkle's brilliant talent at organization and efficiency strikes again."
"But," said Minuette, thinking. "That ALSO means Chrysalis had to redirect the effort she would have used elsewhere to perform this plan because her prime plan failed."
"It means that she has fewer resources guarding our friends than she likely would have had if plan A had worked because the bulk of them seem to be directed to making the rune. Now's the perfect time for us to make our move while they're focused on creating that. Especially if Twilight's alterations are requiring them to make changes from the established plan."
"I have to agree with that," Rarity said. "Twilight's a good big picture pony, but she often overlooks the little details, and she's NOT a military strategist."
"And," Moth added. "Queen Chrysalis likely WOULDN'T be caught dead mentioning one of the key weaknesses of Changeling mind control around her brainwashed slaves. It's NOT information she'd feel they'd NEED to know if she sees us as already beaten. It's likely Twilight doesn't even know there IS a way to break our mind control period."
"No offense girls," Twinkle Shine said, "But I went to school with Twilight Sparkle! And I know for a fact that anypony short an Alicorn going up against her is suicide. She's a bucking powerhouse!"
"Who said we need to fight her one-on-one?" Fluttercruel said. "Or that we have to do her first? I mean, if we can fix up Applejack, then we have a full set of Elements again, maybe the five of us using ours can snap Twilight out of it."
"Chrysalis' not letting the others out of her sight," Moon Dancer said, "Twilight Sparkle's the only one whose acting without 'supervision.' Shining Armor, Applejack, and Sweetie Belle never leave her side. And Spike is behind a small army of changelings. Twilight's the easiest one to reach."
"Twilight's not an Alicorn, she's not invincible, and she's not infallible," Princess Cadence said.
"And as Rarity mentioned, she has weaknesses in her thought processes," Cobweb pointed out. "So she can be tricked."
"Ah'm hungry," Applebloom said.
"How can you think of food at a time like this?" Scootaloo asked.
"The changelings got fully charged up from....from the song and Moth's gettin' fed by Bon Bon. While we're runnin' on empty."
"Pinkie Pie, I don't suppose you have fully stocked ice boxes stored around Canterlot in case of emergencies," Rarity asked.
"Sorry. Only in Ponyville, the train-station, and the Castle. But...I do keep party supplies with me wherever I go. Cake and soda?"
"Better than nothing I suppose," Rarity resigned herself as it turned out Applebloom wasn't the only one hungry.
Cobweb went aside with Minuette and began planning.
Cadence meanwhile was looking at the church's alter. Forget whatever lies Chrysalis used or invented, the mere fact Celestia had been struck down catapulted the witch straight into Nightmare Moon level of fear for ponies. It was so wrong. So so so wrong. Her auntie was the sun, she was the light of the world, she was how living things could exist at all. How was the sun to be raised or lowered while she was prisoner? Or would the day simply last until they had won or the queen was dealt with? At least, it would give her comfort that Auntie was still alive if the moon did rise, maybe Auntie Luna could do as her sister had and move the sun in her place. At least it would prove that Auntie was alright. Or would Auntie LET the day burn the land to give the queen the idea the night princess was gone? No. Auntie Luna wouldn't be that ruthless to make their ponies suffer just to maintain an element of surprise.
Not really thinking about it, Cadence placed her horn against the horn of the statue behind the alter, made generic and abstract enough that it could be interpreted as any of the princesses. "I just wish I knew what was going to happen."
"...Come here...and stand by me."
"But you said only you-"
"You've...changed my mind. I want you with me."
The rune activated the moment it was completed. And in doing so activated the six other runes construct across Equestria, powered up and connected via the leylines, Engraved into the floor, now becoming one giant rune across the entire country.
The rune shined blindingly with the color of the queen's magic, ponies, griffins, anything that wasn't a changeling gasped out as they felt their emotions being violently torn out of them, all being collected and carried along the rules lines to Canterlot, and to the castle, and to the wedding hall, and to the heart of the rune with all the emotions of the most loved filled kingdom in the world. The Changelings stared in shock, not able to comprehend what they were seeing.
Canterlot, Appleoosa, Ponyville, Cloudsdale, Manehattern, it didn't matter, none were spared.
The only emotion to be heard was the Queen's laughter, that seemed to slowly change and lose its echo as the energy converged on her. And a small filly cried out in shock as power flowed into her as well.
"All hail Princess Sweet Belle!" The changelings and tamed ponies all bowed down to their ruler. It was the order of the world, cattle oversaw the land, the changelings oversaw the cattle, their princess oversaw the changelings.
Her first command upon taking the throne had been to uplift her closest friends and her sister. Her second command was for all cattle to be treated equinely, and with mercy, and honor: after all, the hive could never survive without them, and the royals had said they had sacrificed themselves so the swarm could feel the sun, that entitled respect.
The Changelings looked different, like somepony had remade them in another image to have a facade of beauty. But it looked more like plastic surgery than true physical change, like somepony had just painted over their 'ugly' traits rather than remove them entirely. Like a filly does with her dolls.
None questioned the rule of their princess, had not their princess proven herself and led them against chaos, against Tambelon and Sombra's Crystal Empire? Hadn't Princess Sweet Belle done all these things to protect her swarm's happiness? Princess Sweet Bell had earned the love of all by her actions.
Multiple Alicorns, a draconequus, a deer, a dark colored unicorn with a pyramid cutie mark, and two dragons, adorned the walls as living trophies, crucified body and spirit. They looked like withered fruit, and hung limply as their essence bled out of them into ordinate chalices below.
The young changeling queen (she insisted on 'princess', she didn't WANT to feared as a 'queen') they bowed to had a white carapace, dragon-like green eyes, and pink and violet mane/membrane and wings. She wore a black crown and regalia with blue sapphires. She in turn, turned around bowed to the larger winged and horned equine shape behind her. Cattle oversaw the land, the changelings oversaw the cattle, their princess oversaw the changelings, and the princess' adopted mother, She, SHE, she oversaw the world.
"NO!" Everypony looked at her. "I can not let that future happen!" Cadence gasped, panting in a cold sweat. In a flash she was next to Pinkie Diane, grabbing her, looking almost maniac as she looked her in the eye. "Pinkie Pie! You can do anything right?"
"Uh," Pinkie Diane said not used to being on the receiving end of this, "No, not really, but I can-"
"Where is Twilight Sparkle?! She's speeding up the rune being made! Where is she right now?! I have to know or the world is going to literally end!"
"I-I don't-" Pinkie Diane's body shook and twitched. "Oh, yes, I do."
The doors burst open.
"Hey girls! Great to see you all here! I've been thinking, well not really thanks to Her Majesty, but we really should give this 'submit ourselves to the protection of the changeling swarm' a try first before judging it!"
"Uh, Miss Twilight, there's noling in here," the changeling CO next to her, Death Stalker, politely pointed out.
"Huh? You sure?" Twilight looked around confused at Cadence's empty bedroom, and did an in-depth scan spell. "Oh. Sorry. Okay! Next one! This gives me a chance to rewrite my speech again!"
Death Stalker sighed. Why did he have to become a guard even after Her Majesty abolished the cast system?
"Hey girls! Oh hey Pony Joe!"
"Hey Twilight Sparkle! The usual?"
"Please tell me you're going to make us explore the entire mine system for them."
"Naw. I just conjured a few dozen proximity runes tuned to non-changeling equine life-force to go off to blow them to bits if they are down here and try to walk or teleport out of here."
"Uh, Twilight, Her Majesty wants them alive," said Death Stalker.
"HIIIII GIRLS! And...not here either." Twilight said in her old bedroom. "Spike these books really need some dusting and . .. oh right, he's busy, oh well, onto the catacombs!"
"I had my stallions search the catacombs already actually while we were busy here."
"Why thank you Death Stalker! That was very efficient of you!"
"Resource management is why I was promoted."
The room was part art gallery, part observation deck, and part atrium. Celestia's symbol was engraved in the floor, with Luna's having been added with some retiling. Cadence's was on the wall. There was no roof, and there was only one door in or out to the main castle. The impressively tall walls of the perfectly circular room were made of arches resembling the romare coliseum. The place was nearly all pure white marble.
Celestia had commissioned it originally intended it to be a spot she could eat breakfast and raise and lower the sun at the same time, while giving her a perfect view of all of Canterlot. But with Luna's return she had it converted into an art gallery.
It gave Twilight Sparkle a perfect view of the rune, the engraving of the rune into the streets and building of Canterlot going faster than any of the changelings had dared dreamed. If everything went according to schedule, and Twilight's trigonometry and aerodynamics were correct, Princess Luna would arrive back in time for a front row seat of its activation. Twilight was determined to see it through, Her Majesty had her doubts, (not that Princess Luna would return, Her Majesty had no doubts what-so-ever of the Alicorn having survived being blasted off) but of Twilight being able to complete it in time and wanted other welcome measures in place for the Moon Alicorn's return.
Twilight would give a 110% to prove she could do it, but she knew that was mathematically impossible.
Twilight was surrounded by notes and diagrams of the rune and it's siblings in six other locations around Equestria, all be made on schedule, she was going over them again and again, thinking of anything that could shave time off the timetable. The various statues were her only company. Next to her was a small inconspicuous crystal ball. Then her eyes brightened as she turned around. Twilight teleported the paper work away to a predetermined location.
"Hey girls!" She said to Cadence (wearing a long brown cloak she discarded), Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Diane, had come inside, all of them a green color to their eyes that now faded as it tripped the 'disperse illusion rune' she had laid at the entrance, "Great to see you all here! I've been thinking, well not really thanks to Her Majesty, but we really should give this 'submit ourselves to the protection of the changeling swarm' a try first before judging it!"
"That can't happen Twilight! I've SEEN the world Chrysalis intends to create!" Cadence shouted, confusing some but-
Rainbow Dash snapped her addition, "I know that's not really you saying that Twilight! You saved us from Discord, now we'll save you from Chrysalis!"
"HEY!" Pinkie Diane suggested. "What if we give it a try AFTER we all give you a BIIIIIIIIIIG loving best-friends hug?"
"Well I don't see-Hey! Where are the rest of you? Come on girls! I don't ever brag, but I'm still the most dangerous unicorn in a hundred mile radius. You should have had all of you here to take me on all at once if you were going to rescue me!...Hmm, I know you don't have them sneaking up behind me, or you would have tripped my security runes .. . Oh oh oh! I know what this is! You've split up into teams, and you've gone after Spike, my brother, Applejack, Sweetie Belle and her all at once! Good in theory, keeps them from doubling security around the rest, especially sense I can't seem to contact Digger Wasp right now (wow, are you trying to take him out too? You've been busy, but spreading yourself too thin!), but you should know you were going to need all the force you could get to keep me in place! Still I see you brought your best with you and didn't drag the CMC into this!..."
"Okay boys, you can come out!" She clapped her hooves like she was hosting a game of hide and seek.
=Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep - "Tears of the Light"=
The statues leading to the atrium and the ones within all flashed with green flames and transformed into changeling guards.
"Thanks for showing, I was getting a buckin' cramp," said one of the changelings who had been a statue.
"No," Cadence whispered.
"This isn't good." Pinkie Diane mumbled.
"You're joking!" Rainbow Dash said looking around.
"Not in the least, in fact, I was planning for ALL OF YOU to show up to help me, so I have three times as many as I thought I was gonna need!"
"Twilight this is dumb! There's no way ya could have known we were coming for you!" Rainbow hissed.
Twilight Sparkle said cheerfully, "Oh it was easy. When I couldn't figure out where you were, I realized all I had to do was stay in one place long enough and I knew you'd come to rescue me! Because you're all such great friends! Thanks! So I chose to direct the rest of the construction of the Canterlot section of Her Majesty's rune from here! If I stayed in one place long enough, I knew you'd find me! Just like it says in the Pony-Scout guide book!"
"You were never a pony-scout!" Cadence said.
"Yes but I read the books."
Twilight continued to say happily now standing on soap box, "Now I hope you girls appreciate all the changelings I pulled from security to set this ambush, and I took the time to brief them all on your strengths, weaknesses, and fighting styles. Now feel free to rush me all at once, I know you must be eager to fight changelings after you all had to run away before, or interrupt me as I explain everything to you, don't worry, Her Majesty told me I need to learn to be more dynamic in my planning so I'm perfectly fine with either, so we can all get started and, HEY! WAIT! You're not supposed to run away! Your best friend is under mind control right in front of you! You're not supposed to be repeating what you did before! Get back here!"
"SONIC-RAINBOOM!" The entire castle shook as Rainbow Dash did an IN-DOORS Sonic Rainboom, leaving EVERYCREATURE'S ears ringing, as she plowed through the changelings who had blocked the exit with their bodies, leaving them with bad bruises or out cold.
"Huggie-Twili-" Pinkie Diane appeared behind Twilight and tried to embrace her, only to get a massive electric shock, "-WAGA-WAGA-WAGA-WAGA!"
"Wow! Being YOU Pinkie, I had to randomly guess what you were going to do! Fighting me up close and melee was just a wild guess on my part! But all the same I enchanted my fur to electrocute the first pony it touched, don't worry, I've guesstimated how much voltage you can take."
Pinkie Diane fell backwards, her mane again in her bubblegum balloon style fizz, she fell back, her tongue out of her mouth and her eyes spinning, her body twitched, all in all looking like she had had one too many sodas again.
The changelings mobbed Pinkie Diane, who took a collection cable and clipped it on her tail, powering a impressively sized bug zapper.
"Can't! Resist! Too! Beautiful!" The changelings banged their heads into the oversized bug zapper, which didn't have enough juice to actually give them more than a slight tingle. Still holding the giant bug light, Pinkie Diane ran for it too, half the changeling guards following.
"GIRLS! You can't do this!" Twilight stamped her hoof. "You're supposed to stay here and take me on! You...you can't just leave . . ."
"I won't leave you Twilight, not now, not EVER! I promise!" Cadence said stepping forward.
"Make sure the others don't get away, I can handle Cadence on my own!"
"Miss Twilight are you-" Death Stalker again.
"Yes I am! Go!"
"...as you wish." The changeling bowed and flew, leading his changelings after the two ponies.
Cadence hid her relief behind years of practice. 'Even if I've recharged a good bit being around the others' bonds, I'd rather not have to go against a huge Changeling horde PLUS Twilight...'
"It's been really fascinating being around them Cadence, the workers are actually fully sapient, yet they have such an iron clad bond to their swarm and their hive. It's so powerful if you just open yourself up to it," Twilight said casually, her eyes wide and almost staring, it almost like she was smirking at her.
'At least Twilight still can't stop herself from explaining things,' Cadence thought.
'Okay, we've got the jerks interested in us, and got them away from Twilight, the rest I guess is up to you Cadence, now we need to ditch these goons.'
"Pinkie!" RD said, "What happened to your zap lamp? Kinda really useful right now!"
"Sorry! That only worked cause it was unexpected, silly, and cause I got zapped, it won't work if you try to invoke it!"
'So much for the easy way.' In spite of Rainbow's thought, with only Pinkie and RD giving the bugs the merry chase, the two were able to give them the run around much much easier than a herd of nineteen ponies!
'Where did that nag Cobweb go?!' The pony had set a few more booby traps in their wake set to go off after they themselves had passed through them, but they'd expected a lot fewer Changelings to be guarding Twilight and the changelings learned fast, took the to the air, and were far more spread out, and MUCH MORE cautious than before they had been blindly following the giant herd in the escape from the wedding. Still, with Pinkie's tricks and RD's speed, they were keeping them busy like rats in a maze.
"Kowabunga!" Shouted Lyra. Her sound magic making the changeling horde collected to fight an Alicorn and five Elements of Harmony stunned. Her other half and her other half's sister emerged from their hiding places they had staged their own ambush.
"GUYS! You're supposed to be back-up!" RD shouted facehoofing and now having to TURN AROUND and help.
"We are back-up!" Bon-Bon said.
"I meant back-up for rescuing Twilight!"
"We thought you needed help!" Moth added.
"We were doing fine! GET OUT OF HERE!"
"Don't worry about it! We can take these losers!" Lyra said using her telekinesis to magically shape a hand that slapped a changeling into a wall like a bug.
While Lyra was feeling good about herself a changeling kicked her in the horn and breaking her concentration.
"LOSERS?! We're fully trained guards you dunce! Did you think your tax bits all went to polishing Celesta's silverware?!" The changeling snarled.
"You think a couple of civies can take us on?!" One grabbed Moth's foreleg as she did a punch and threw her into the ground hard.
"SIS?!" Bon-Bon snarled in righteous fury, ready to tear these monsters apart, "YOU'LL PAY FOR-"
Another one of them twisted the raging Bon Bon's foreleg, and then kicked her in the back then slammed her back into their armored rear-leg knee. "Or did you think because we were changelings that we were gonna fold like cards to you?!"
The same changeling then put a leg in Bon Bon's stomach, making her cry out. "And here's a hint from the pros, the only thing anger does on the battle field is lower your IQ points and your life expectancy. You're just lucky Her Majesty doesn't want anyling of you cattle to go to waste."
The changelings swarmed on top of the sisters, forming slime that hardened to keep their hooves hogged tied together.
"Leave them alone!" yelled Lyra, snarling in rage and telekinetically throwing back several Changelings with a magic surge. She batted away some of the Changelings covering her friends...before more swarmed in from her rage focused tunnel vision, forcing her to the ground. One made sure to strike her in the horn and break her concentration.
"What did I just say about anger?"
"Having to rescue the rescuers should be funny, but doesn't seem like it!" Pinkie Diane said she dodged a dozen globs of the slime at once giving herself totally over to her Pinkie Sense.
"Tell me about it!" A blob of slime struck one of RD's wings, sending her to the ground, the changelings swarming on top of her now.
"Step one to dealing with Rainbow Dash according to Miss Twilight, disable wing," said Death Stalker.
Rainbow Dash assumed a karate pose, "If you think that's all I've got then you've got something else coming-" Then the slime go splattered on her mouth, shutting it, just barely avoiding her nostrils.
"Ahem." One of the changelings then shouted in a loud clear voice, "Cupcakes is a really great story! Only surpassed by Pages of Harmony!"
"YOU TAKE THAT BACK!!!" She brought out a huge mallet and smashed a changeling into the floor, and, taking an over sized swing, she swatted another one into a wall, ignoring her comrades and forgetting to simply break off the slime and instead focused totally on hammering the bug-ponies.
To the untrained eye, it would seem the changeling had made an critical error.
But that wasn't the point. The point was for her to waste her energy on wild over the top excessive offense, Twilight had calculated by Pinkie Pie's average sugar intake, how many changeling guards it would take for her to run out of steam if she didn't use her odd tricks to turn the tide and instead relied on brute force.
As Pinkie Pie panted slime was spat onto her rear legs, gluing her in place. "HEY! No fair!"
"Everything's fair in a fight! This isn't a wresting match!" Death Stalker said as every inch of Pinkie Pie's body was covered in slime. The ponies all forced down low on the floor to finish wrapping up for transport.
The two walls of the hallway (the fight had stopped just short of Celestia's private cake room) then became very shinny with a sparkle. A moment later several laser bolts bounced off the new reflective surface, hitting several changelings who were caught off guard, but not the ponies were now low to the ground.
"Lasers are just light," Twinkle Shine said.
"Time Slow Thyself," Starswirl the Bearded has never figured out how to stop time, but Mineutte had come close. Was she a student of Celestia's School For Gifted Unicorns or not? The blue unicorn smashed the goo holding the ponies trapped.
A blur passed over the heroes and the ponies confusingly found themselves free. Twinkle Shine continued to lay cover fire, the changelings, distracted, didn't notice their prisoners were now free until it was too late.
"This time everypony stick to the plan!" Minuette shouted in a no-argument-attitude, panting a little bit. She had a little stop watch floating in her telekinesis. 'Good thing the Changelings had got them altogether or there's no way I could have gotten them all in time.' While she could all-but stop time, a high level spell still had high magic costs if kept up too long.
"Listen to the nerd!" Rainbow Dash added, having knocked the changelings for a loop and really not interested in round two. The changelings already picking themselves up. Dang those shells were hard, though it seemed she'd bruised them up a bit under the shells. They were supposed to be the distraction, now RD has the crazy feeling THEY were the ones being preoccupied!
She noticed some of the Changelings seemed to jump like they'd been stung and looked around somewhat drowsily. 'No time to find out what the hey that was about.'
As they fled again, Moth looked down. "Even when I try to be brave, I mess things up."
Rainbow groaned. "Look! It's not JUST being brave for bucking being brave! You still need to learn WHEN to be brave and when to keep your muzzle out of it! That goes for ALL three of you!"
"Come on Candy, use real magic," Twilight smiling and staring, "Mute spell? I can do plenty without an incantation. Distracting me with a few pretty picture of our times together? Tickling me with telekinesis? Echoing spell? Can't you at least pretend to take me seriously? Prank spells? Sorry, you're a rank amateur compared to Pinkie Pie's tricks."
"They did exactly what they were meant to do."
"What's that? I--- I can figure out exactly what kind of move you're laying the ground work for...I'll figure out it in a second!"
"There's no grand scheme Twilight, if you found your parents and spoke with them, then I wouldn't need to be here. I only hope they're safe, like I know you hope they are. These are just to remind us of one thing Twilight, all the times we've had together...and Twilight...you're a wonderful pony, I loved foalsitting for you, I loved being with you, I loved playing with you, I loved seeing you happy same as Shining does.
"I loved those camping trips with your uncle, I loved all the book forts, they're still adorable. You're my friend Twilight...you're almost like my sister. And I can FEEL it, that bond is STILL there. And it's a LOT stronger than that witch's magic!"
Twilight held her head. "N-No...N-nothing is stronger than Her Majesty!" it felt like chains were trying to hold something down that kept rising back up.
"You know that's a lie, Twilight. Friendship and love are stronger than DISCORD, how can one Changeling witch be stronger than that? She's trying to replace all of us in your heart, but she can't do it, can she? You still love Princess Celestia as your teacher, you still love your parents, you still love your brother, you still love me! That witch is tricking your heart into giving her love that isn't hers! Now that your heart sees where that love really belongs it's trying to correct the flow!"
Twilight's eyes started to fill with tears, defying the expression on her face. "No! I love her majesty!" she yelled, firing a beam right at Cadence...but it missed.
"Twilight, you're the foal that taught ME friendship. I'd never formed a bond with any of my OTHER charges before I met you! And I know your brother was the only one other than me you formed a bond like that with. That's why I'm here...we're each others' oldest and dearest friends, the first ones we ever made."
Twilight stood there shaking, Cadence gently approached her and hugged her with her wings and putting her neck against hers. "Wake up now Twilight."
Twilight Sparkle gasped as the mind spell control curse was exorcised.