Too Much Focus On The Villains
Or 'Sweetie Belle's Moments'
(Halflight Dusk Supplement Notes: Note that at least some of this takes place before events of Twilight Sparkle's freedom from Chrysalis' control.)
Sweetie Belle danced, she was in the hall of the Grand Galloping Gala, disguised changeling guards protected every window and doorway, and Shining's forcefield, there would be no interruptions here. If anypony asked, they'd be told the child's sister was one of the invader's victims and was being given a boon to raise her spirits.
Sweetie Belle danced with Spike, he responded as much as a baby dragon sized teddy bear.
She had Spike take her forehoof, his clawed closed around her hoof, and tighter, and tighter, and-"OW! Spike! STOP! STOP!" Spike went limp, swaying on his two feet, just staring.
Sweetie Belle rubbed her poor foreleg.
"Applejack please stop playing," Sweetie Belle said, AJ fell on her haunches letting the bow fall from the fiddle, happy for the break. 'No no no, I should be happy to serve and be sad when I can't.' The words Sweetie Belle had instructed her to mentally recite (and did in Sweetie Belle's voice) whenever she thought such things echoed in her head regardless of whether Applejack wanted to think them or not.
"Chryssy, what went wrong?"
"You must have given him poor instructions."
Sweetie Belle looked at Chrysalis, "But all I did was tell him to hold my hoof."
"Did you now?" Chrysalis said in an authoritative but not hostile tone, like a teacher giving their student instruction. "What was it exactly?"
"I just told him to take a good grip of my hoof."
Chrysalis sighed. "He interpreted that as 'hold as hard as he possibly could.' Don't feel ashamed, it's a common neophyte mistake."
"But you said to keep what I told him simple," Sweetie Belle said a little upset at her failure.
"Yes. But you also have to be CLEAR in that simplicity. You must lead him Sweetie Belle, direct his actions, control his responses, you are the one in control. You're the puppeteer, he's the puppet, he will only do what you pull his strings to do."
She looked down. "Okay Chryssy. I'm sorry I'm not a good student."
"No no no," Chrysalis waved her hoof, "These things take time to learn, how you've picked this up so far is extraordinary, like it was what you were always meant for."
Sweetie pulled up on her dressed, looked down and frowned. "No changeling princess cutie mark."
"Maybe it'll show up at the right time. Or maybe destiny is simply being stubborn and won't admit your greatness."
"Greatness is what we have to earn my dear, is what we have to work for. If you wish to gain a cutie mark, you must claim it for yourself. You must DECIDE what you shall do with yourself, it won't appear from random dabbling. And you've shown true dedication in what I've taught you. You are wonderful, you are beautiful, you are elegant, and let no lesser tell you different."
"Those who aren't strong enough to overcome fate, and allow themselves to be ruled by it naturally hate and envy those who ARE able to defy fate."
"Are there lots of ponies that can't?"
"Most of them. And the one thing that magic eating monster had right was that those who have power and know how to rule it have the right to take it from those who don't."
"Magic eating monster?"
"Long story short: there was an egotistical feathered demon, I ate it, the end. Now dance again, and remember to keep your directions concise."
"Okay Chryssy!" Sweetie Belle bowed and took Spike's hand and began to dance again, this time Spike's motions being more natural looking and ordered Applejack to begin to play again.
"Wonderful Sweetie Belle! Who knows, maybe you'll devour me someday." Chrysalis said in sincere praise.
"Chryssy! I'd-I'd never do that to you!"
"It's just the way of nature dear. Please focus."
"Okay Chryssy." Sweetie Belle nodded.
"My Queen, I'd have a word with you."
She didn't even look at him, she said irritably, "I didn't give you permission to see me, Kabuto."
"I anticipated you'd wish to see me my queen. I can't help but notice you've taken a interest in the young cattle."
"When will you be taking her body?"
"Come again?" Chrysalis looked perplexed at the mad scientist.
"Well, after she's uplifted into a changeling of course, all this time I thought Pitcher Plant was your choice, I don't know why you'd want to inhabit a convert's body, but as my Queen wishes, but-"
Chrysalis telekinesis slammed his head in a wall in beat with the music. "If you ever imply that again I'll break your legs and repeal from you my 'royal protection', and lock you in a room of changelings. As if I'd EVER SINK to that fat worm's level. Sweetie Belle is NOT a 'host body.' She is not a experiment, she isn't a science project, she isn't something for you to play god with and discard, she--" Chrysalis calmed herself down. "After our plans are completed, SHE will be giving YOU orders."
"My Queen! A game is a game, but don't you think you're taking this a little too serious-" Head slam in beat with the music again.
"I don't care for destiny, but in this case, that Sweetie Belle and I have crossed paths where we didn't truly before, now that I'm aware of myself, we were drawn to each other as much as I and Cadence. And perhaps she and Cadence as well. Similar things draw similar things."
"Isn't that 'opposites attract' my queen?"
"That is for MAGNETS Kabuto. And if you even THINK of asking to experiments on Sweetie . . . I'll demonstrate for her how to suck all the love out of a changeling, with you."
"My Queen, are you feeling well? This is not like you."
"I do as I please. She's far too precious to be a lab rat in your aimless, pointless, meaningless, experiments."
Kabuto got back up, focusing his magic and making his damaged head regenerate at an accelerated rate, in a way that looked quite unnatural, even as far as shapeshifting bug ponies go. He looked at his queen and the scene with an analytic eye, then smirked. "You're changing her, aren't you? I don't mean physically. I mean molding her like a piece of clay?"
"So what if I am? I am bringing out her true potential."
"I was beginning to worry it was the other way around. Nothing personal, my queen, just you did order me to cut your heart out if you ever made room in it. I wish you the best of luck, You Highness."
Chrysalis considered giving him another slam against the wall, but didn't wish to give him brain damage he might not be able to recover from while she still needed his intelligence.
"Thank you. You may go now, Kabuto."
Sweetie Belle danced. Her puppet obeyed.
=Some hours later=
"Wow, so you accidentally ate the love of your parents, then when she saw you were starving, somepony really special to you gave you their love, then when you tried to run away her teacher tried to hurt you, and then the entire town got buried in a storm?" Sweetie Belle stared in amazement across the royal dinning hall table the pair were using. "That's so sad!"
"Yes . . . I was the only one to make it out. You're the first living creature I've ever told that to, do you promise never to tell anyling else?" The guards were outside. She had ordered Applejack and Shining Armor to cover their ears as the entire room was sealed in a sound-proof force field.
"Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye I promise! I'll never ever tell anycreature!"
"Good girl." Chrysalis telekinetically stroked her mane.
"I bet they're all okay!"
"Sure! That's how it always works! I bet that they all fell into a cave underneath all the mud, and made friend with a bunch of friendly furry underground creatures, then they learned to have feelings again! I bet if you go back there, you'll find them waiting for you and ready to welcome you back with open forelegs!"
Chrysalis stood there silently for a while, and the queen wasn't entirely sure why. " . . . Yes Sweetie Belle, I'm certain you're right. Maybe you can come with me? After this business in Equestria is done? And you're one of us? If I'm going to see my family again after so long, I'd like it so if you were to be with me."
"Of course Chryssy! That's what friends are for!"
Chrysalis looked at her, a twang of surprise inside her. "I never told you that we were friends."
"Of course not! You don't need to! Friends don't need to say they're friends! Friends are friends!"
Chrysalis looked confused at the meal before her. "That's strange, this is the first time this has ever been filling for me. You remind me of my friend and me, Sweetie."
"Yes, you remind me of her, or maybe, you remind me of who she wanted me to be."
"Did you ever become who she wanted you to be?"
" . . . No, I couldn't. A lion can't become a gazelle just because it wishes to." Chrysalis said with the third cousin twice removed of what could be mistaken for something not unlike wistfulness in her voice. "Besides, the pony she wanted me to be just wasn't in me." 'I smothered it in its sleep long ago.' "Besides, even if I could, the past is in the past. There's no point in chasing ghosts of a past that's dead and gone."
" . . . Yeah, I guess that would be pretty silly." Sweetie reluctantly admitted. "Hey Chrissy! Let's have a duet!"
"What?" Chrysalis said again in so many minutes.
"After you get married to Shining Armor for real, let's have a duet! You say my voice is magic! But your voice is really pretty too! I bet everypony would love it!"
" . . . that . . . would be . . . After I wed Shining Armor? I suppose."
"Pinkie Pie swear?"
Chrysalis sighed, "Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye. I thought you were reluctant to sing unless I told you dear."
"I was! But not anymore! I don't feel doubt! I don't feel worry! I don't feel like second guessing myself! I feel free! I like feeling this way! Thank you Chryssy!"
"You're . . . you're welcome Sweetie Belle."
"And you're gonna make everypony feel this way too right?"
"Not . . . not the same as you. You're special. You and I share something no one else can have. You're my one of a kind little princess."
"Oh!" Sweetie looked surprised. Then happily nodded. "Okay! I'm sure whatever it is, it'll be good for them if you're doing it Chryssy!"
" . . . I think it's time we both retire for the evening Sweetie Belle."
"What about dessert?"
" . . . Fine . . . Applejack?"
Applejack didn't hear due to covering her ears on Chrysalis' orders.
Chrysalis replied by smashing a tea pot into the Earth Pony's head with her telekinesis. "I called for you, property!"
"Should've listened to Chryssy AJ!"
"Ah know..." Applejack touched a hoof to a cut on her head.
"Go get me and Sweetie desert."
"...Yes Your Majesty."
"Sunshine, sunshine, lady bugs awake! Clap your hooves, and do a little shake!"
The pink princess and little filly did their special hoof shake.
It was a bright happy and sunny day. They had the park all to themselves. With all the time in the world to play and enjoy each other's company. It was just perfect.
And there wasn't a bug to be seen.
The pink princess gave Sweetie Belle rides in the sky, doing spirals and cartwheels, the filly screaming in excitement at the wild ride.
Then there was the giant cake they ate together. The pink princess couldn't remember when food had ever tasted this good.
The pink princess couldn't have asked for a filly she'd want to foal-sit more.
Ponies came and cheered Sweetie Belle as the most lovely princess-in-training ever, and listened to her sing. The pink Princess watched her perform smiling. What was this odd feeling?
"Of all the dreams we expected to find here, this was not one of them," said a dark blue Alicorn with a moon cutie mark.
The blue princess did not belong here. And that make it all unreal.
Chrysalis lowered her horn, "You! You've never been able to enter my dreams before! How can you now?!"
Luna didn't move. "We have not."
"This, this, this isn't my dream."
"No, it is not, tis Sweetie Belle's, ye are sharing it with her."
"I should be surprised by that, but I'm not."
"Ye seem rather unsurprised to see we are whole."
"You're an Alicorn, I knew it would take more than that, if you wanted to infect my mind with doubt, you should've kept the moon lowered."
"The tides and other forces rely on the moon to provide harmony, I will not damage the entire world simply to gives the likes of you a false sense of security."
"'Likes of me?' How droll."
"Yes the likes of ye. Tis ironic, if our sister and our's positions had been reversed a thousand years ago, we do not know if we had sealed her, or simply put down a threat to Equestria like we would any other. But sister's path has led to a Equestria having another of its protectors back. Ye nor thou changelings have killed anypony on Equestria's soil, Fallen-Flutterpony. Surrender for thou crimes, and thou people will be shown mercy."
"What makes you think I care anything for them?"
"Because the likes of ye always like being a ruler, and without them, ye are ruler of nothing. Ye need them."
Chrysalis gave a laugh. "You don't get it, do you? They were nothing when I found them, in a few years that flat slug would've driven them silently into extinction. They only have value because I gave it to them. It is them who are nothing without me. And you can make me do nothing."
"Are ye sure? Maybe we can cause ye have a brain hemorrhage this moment, and ye are powerless to stop it."
"If you could do anything to me here you already would have."
"Ye are correct, we would have. We are not our sister. But ye can do nothing to us either, this is our domain. The realm of dreams is us."
"Hoping I'll reveal something of vital importance while my mind is vulnerable? Or distract me in my sleep as an assassin comes to kill me in my sleep?"
"Then why are you even here? You wouldn't waste time trying to 'reason' with the enemy, you're not the bungling fool your sister is."
Luna's eyes glowed white. "Beware Fallen Queen! We shall enact restitution for such slander, sooner or later!... We were here to ensure Sweetie Belle's health and protection."
"What do you know of her?"
"Only that she is one of our ponies, and that is reason enough. And she is special to ye."
"She's very useful."
"And she is the first living thing we'd wager ye have felt anything for in a long long time."
"In my heart there is no room!"
"Perhaps she is making room. You contradict yourself oh Fallen Queen."
"Hardly! I take what I want! I have what I want! If I can take it that means I have a RIGHT to have it! That is a rule of nature! She . . . she . . . she is . . . So what?! Do you think just because I have her means I'll fall to pieces crying for her sake?"
Luna looked sadly on the Queen. "No. Because we know love cannot always redeem. For some, it's just the one they let live so they can live with themselves. Others say 'this one pony is special and the others are nothing.' For some, that person is their 'one beautiful night' or their 'one sunny day.' The worst make that one pony into a monster for their sake instead of becoming a good one for them...and those are also the most sad...
"We'd kill ye where ye stand if we could, we'd break thou evil and filthy hold over Sweetie Belle this instant if we could, and even we find it sad ye can't admit ye want her as a friend."
"This is the place for myself and only what I desire! Be gone!"
Luna could not remain in the shared dreamscape, but she still managed to get the last word in, something that anger Chrysalis to no end. "What ye art seeking, shall not grant what ye truly desire."
Sweetie's concert ended and she hopped over to the pink princess.
"That was wonderful Chryssy! Let's visit the park tomorrow! Uh, what were you talking about with Princess Luna?"
"Sure dear. And nothing important, just how special you are."
Sweetie looked around. "Chryssy, where's Rarity and my parents?" This was a dream after all.
"I'm afraid they couldn't make it, darling," Chryssy replied with a smirk and stroked the filly's head. "But don't worry about them, my little pony. You still have me. And I still have you." Sweetie Belle's smile had a bright glow.