Cutie Mark Crusader Dragon Savers Yay!
-One grand teleportation color unscrambling later-
"Twilight," Trixie said, "I'd like to say, that I'm sorry that I wasn't able to save you on my own. All the growth I've done, and I still wasn't able to save you when you needed me most. Just feels like Trixie is again here, just to be a spare."
"You are NOT going down that path again Trixie!" Twilight said.
"I-I know, it's just how I FEEL, my brain knows different, but my heart won't listen."
"Since when do hearts EVER listen to what the head is thinking?" Pinkie Pie asked.
"Seconded," Twinkle Shine said.
"Agreed," Cadence said.
"Can't argue with that," Lyra said.
"Believe me, I'm living besides that truth every moment of my life," Bon Bon said looking at the green unicorn.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Trust me, I know how hearts work," Moth said.
"They have a point," Rainbow Dash added.
"I know they do," Minuette chose to add too.
"And besides, Trixie, you're willing to take risks, you're willing to NOT worry about the specifics and take a gamble. I need my checklists and books, you don't."
"That has its own set of problems."
"And so does my scheduling. Both of us have strengths and weaknesses. They're both double edged swords, but they're DIFFERENT double edged swords. And that's why you were able to stalemate me while I was under Chrysalis' spell! You're not my spare, you're my CO-BEARER! And I'm proud of you."
Trixie blinked, then smiled. "Thank you...I needed to hear that."
Cadence looked to Trixie. "And Trixie, if you WEREN'T here, I'd be dead now."
"And I-I'd have been the one to kill her, and... I would have never forgiven myself for it," Twilight whimpered, hugging her friend. "You didn't just save her, you saved us BOTH!"
Trixie blinked again. Then returned her friend's hug.
This was followed by Cadence, Rainbow and Pinkie Pie hugging her as well.
"And considering you went from not being able scratch something Twilight easily took care of to 'fight her to a standstill when she's fighting seriously,'" Rainbow added with a smirk. "I'd say you've got a a lot to be proud of, Trix'."
"And Trixie, Cadence, I'm sorry for how I acted...I apologize."
"Twilight you had no way of knowing..."
"That isn't the point! If you had really been Chrysalis, I had five or seven ways I could have safely disabled you to stand trial for your crimes... instead I was going to do much worse. That anger and hate, it eclipsed everything else in my heart... that's how MONSTERS are made of heroes! I even imagined most of my friends and Spike cheering me to do it! And it almost cost me you. NEVER AGAIN! Nopony is dying here! Not us! Not Canterlot's ponies, not our friends, not the changelings, not even Chrysalis! I am not a savage!"
Rainbow Dash asked strangely sober, "...Twilight...You know we might have to make hard choices, right?"
"Maybe, but there's a difference between a hard choice and self-righteous murder...like I tried to do, and I don't like where that leads. If we ever HAVE to do that, I'd rather it be something we didn't WANT to do rather than something we took pride in."
"I agree with ya one hundred and twenty percent."
Minuette nodded. "That's the difference between a soldier doing their duty and a self-righteous killer: the soldier doesn't treat it like a good thing, they treat it like what they had to do."
"You sounded a bit...knowledgeable about that, Minny."
"My coltfriend is a guard and I've known a real monster before, so I've seen both sides of the scale," she replied. 'Or rather, been on both sides of the scales.' "Point is, I've seen the difference first hoof...Twilight's right."
"That and we know now that Changelings aren't evil," Bon Bon pointed out quickly, almost protectively.
Twilight blinked. "Wait, what?"
"...Go ahead Moth."
"Alright, just don't be shocked at what you see."
Moth assumed her true form.
"Twilight wait!" Cadence shouted.
-One Changeling Popsicle Later-
"I SAID I was sorry!" Twilight apologized for the nth time to Bon Bon's family as they finished getting Moth out of the giant ice-cube and glared daggers at Twilight. "And you could have just told me first."
"I thought the fact Bon Bon told you would have been a clue I was a friend," Moth shivered. "Thanks for at least using something easy to break me out of though."
"Moth's the one who told us how to break Chrysalis' spell on you, Twilight," Trixie explained. "She's been a major source of intel thus far."
"...Thank you Moth..."
"...I just wish I'd said it earlier...but you're welcome. I'm just glad it actually worked..." Moth said, somewhat guilty.
"What? You didn't think showing love WOULD?" Cadence asked her eyes wide.
"No! Not THAT...I meant me helping period...Ever since I've left the hive I've felt like a failure...and then I tried to help again earlier with Bon Bon and Lyra and we just made things worse...I'm glad I was able to ACTUALLY help, that's what I meant."
"Can somepony please fill me in on the details?"
-One explanation and one kick to the shins later-
"I deserved that," Moth said simply as Bon Bon gave a new death glare at Twilight.
"There. Now welcome to the team Moth. I'm happy to have you."
"Moth, when I said you should stop beating yourself up, I DIDN'T MEAN for you to let others do it for you!" Bon Bon chastised her.
Loyal Rainbow defended, "You know, one light Egghead kick to the shins, after what happened to her brother isn't really-" Bon Bon death glare. "-Shutting up."
Twilight hadn't actually hadn't tried to kick that hard.
"If you're here to help save BBBFF and all my friends, then that's all I need to know Moth and that makes you a friend too." Twilight looked at the other, "So where is everypony else?"
"They're off saving Spike," Cadence said.
"What about Sweetie, Applejack, and MY BROTHER?"
"...You two were kinda the only ones who weren't right next to the queen, so we took our chances," Minuette said.
"Twilight," said Cadence. "...I wanted to save Shining too, but it took a lot of pony power to just save you, and we'll need everypony if we want a chance against the Queen."
"And as you guessed, the plan was to divide the enemy's attention so they couldn't react to one being saved," Trixie explained.
"I...I guess that's a good point...wait, if you split into two groups what happened to Digger Wasp?"
"Long Haul, the Changeling's communications officer...I lost contact with him right when you girls showed up. I thought you attacked him."
"That wasn't part of our plan," Trixie replied. She then smirked. "Which logically means somepony else must have done it. Perhaps we're not alone here."
"Best not dwell on that," said Cadence. "We need to plan now while the others are saving Spike."
Twilight nodded. "...Trixie, you're the sneaky one..."
"And you're the THOUGHTFUL one...Let's do this together, shall we?"
Twilight gave a nod. "Alright...well first things first, Moth? What are Changeling's weaknesses? I'm tired of being stuck out of the loop."
Moth looked surprised, and whimpered a little. "You're my family, but...they're still my people. I'm scared what'll happen if...I don't want to see any of them hurt."
"And us?" Lyra asked.
"Not you either Lyra."
"Moth you've been helping us all this time," Bon Bon said gently.
"Yes but...this makes me sick inside, like I'm not just defying my queen, now I'm stabbing in the back my family I left in the hive. If you win, how do I know they won't end up as animals in a zoo? Lab rats? Or worse?"
"Moth," Bon Bon put a hoof on her shoulder, "Do you think any of us would do something like that?"
"No. But can you speak for everypony in Equestria?"
"Moth," Cadence said, "We're fighting to save our home and stop an evil queen. Not to hurt changelings. I swear, I'll give up my crown before I let your people be harmed for being what they are. Just as YOU chose to fight against your people to protect innocents, I'll do the same. I swear it. Believe me, I want to see a peaceful end to this war as well."
"What? How'd that go again? Uh, okay. Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye."
Moth took a deep breath. "A changeling is not as strong, fast, or magical as an earth pony, pegasus, or unicorn, we can't restore our mana on our own. We can't last as long in a drawn out fight normally, end of discussion. We have to feed to restore it, our magic, life, and love are one, they draw from the same pool inside us...we run out of any, we die, and crumble to dust. This only happens if we run out of love. We can be magically or physically forced out of a form, but we don't need to consciously maintain it, even dying doesn't necessarily mean we shift to our true form. We can ONLY copy what we see or have seen very recently, Chrysalis is an exception to the rule. Mixing and matching is extremely hard and limited to ones like me but we can't create new species out of thin air...The vast majority of us can only assume shapes that have four limbs, a single head, and a tail and wings, or without those. And most of us can only do equines. We can't feed on each others' love. And above everything, WE CAN NOT tell if another is a changeling in disguise or not, AT ALL. Also, our exoskeletons are highly resistant to bladed weaponry but blunt force can hurt us through the armor. Alchemy Master Kabuto's explanation was most predators use claws and teeth, so our biological army evolved to counter it."
"That should be useful, thank you Moth," Twilight said, "Too bad we don't already have Spike rescued or we could send the others this information. So who did you send to rescue Spike?"
"FILLIES?! You sent FILLIES into danger?! Are you all crazy?!"
"We all said the same thing Twilight." Rainbow Dash sighed, "But it was that, or lock them in a trunk, which they'd break out of five minutes later and sneak off on their own, or send 'em on a fool's errand to get lots of string, and they'd end up in the queen's throne room either way. And they made a pretty good argument."
"That if they're so good at causing trouble, maybe they should cause trouble for the bad guys instead, and we're always saying what they could do if they got serious and now they are. And this way at least we have an eye on them."
"I hate how much sense that makes."
"Don't worry Twilight, we were a lot more worried about saving you than getting Spike back, they'll be back in no time!"
"Rainbow! Don't jinx it!" Pinkie Pie said.
"Hey, sure stuff can go wrong, but we ain't gonna lose to these jerks like this! We've got eyes in the sky in case something goes mega wrong and you can come to their rescue!"
"Eyes in the sky?" Twilight asked.
Cadence said, "Turns out I have a flock of fans I didn't really notice before Twilight."
"Now," said Trixie simply. "They know your weaknesses, let's find a way to use that against them."
Rainbow blinked. "How?"
Trixie chuckled and gave her signature smirk. "Using pony's strengths against them is my forte, Rainbow. The more you know the enemy knows, the more you have to turn against them."
"And I can make counter-counter measures," Twilight said, giving a smile of her own.
Pinkie popped out of nowhere and hugged the two. "It's good to have you both back."
Twilight smiled. "It's good to BE back, Pinkie."
Meanwhile, Changelings had begun searching the royal pony sister's rooms. The ones searching Celestia's chamber found themselves being chased by a rather angry Phoenix until the firebird took off for Rosedust knew where.
Three came staggering out of Luna's chamber, quaking like leafs. One of their swarmmates blinked. "What's wrong?"
"Don't go in there..."
"That Princess of the Night is just screwed up!"
"Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day!" Sweetie Belle sang, though there was little need for it. Chrysalis' changelings had reported those who had listened to the filly's song of 'Sweet Music' felt like they wouldn't need to feed for a year.
Next to the filly were some books Chryssy had given her as gifts from the forbidden part of the library. 'Black Magic: Why It's Your Friend' with a happy stick figure fiend on the front cover. 'Hexes, Curses, Geases, and Ensorcelments, For Absolute Beginnings' and the last one, 'The Proper Manipulation And Brainwashing Of Others' With Chrysalis' face on the cover, that one wasn't from the library.
Chrysalis gave Twilight's notes to Half-Light Dusk.
"Finish the rune now! Work them to death if you have to! We'll activate the Canterlot rune alone if we have to, then we can activate it again when the others are finished! Jury-rig it if that's what it takes! I've come too far to lose everything!"
"As you command Your Majesty," Half-Light Dawn sighed sadly and teleported away.
(Interviewer's Notes (Noon) Addendum: The following sections began at the same time Cadence and company launched their rescue on Twilight.)
"Sir! We got a report from Madam Twilight that she's been assaulted by renegade cattle! Madam Twilight's projections show that the queen's other property are in danger of being stolen as well given not all of them are present at her attempted theft!"
"Full alert! Noling gets near the dragon!"
I wanted to rescue my little sister first, she's my responsibility. But Spiky-Wickey was the only other one besides Twilight we surmised was not near the queen. And we were going to need every pony (or dragon) we could.
Some might have suggested we just hide under the pews and wait for Luna to return with her army. That was called cowardice. We were still the Elements of Harmony, dealing with power-mad goddesses who were taking over Equestria was what we do!
Besides, the more work we did now, the less would fall on Luna when she arrived.
Figuring out where adorable little Spike was tricky. It wasn't like we had a beacon on him. It would have been easier if we had gotten Twilight first...then again, maybe not, we had to strike while we had an element of surprise and were believed to be down and out, which we wouldn't get back once we saved one of our friends.
At least from Moon Dancer and the display at the wedding we knew what poor Spike was being used for. The awkward way Moon Dancer spoke about her friendship with Spike told me much too. I don't blame Spike, he is a BABY dragon after all. He hasn't hit his adolescent years organically, he's still figuring out what love is, I wouldn't put it past the poor boy to not fully understand the different types of love that exist and put them under one definition. (Maybe I was lucky, if he'd understood it during the 'Spikezilla' episode, his greed spurt might have turned love into lust...)
Not to mention the fact I'd had my own crushes, such as Prince Blueblood and a few other high society types, and I'm an adult.
"Spike was my friend, he always thought we could be more, but I just didn't like him like that...Chrysalis used that."
And I was going to be quite happy helping bring that witch to justice for exploiting poor Spike's confused feelings, and for violating my little sister's mind! Again! She could keep Discord company in the statue garden. Or perhaps have a good long time to think about it sealed in one of the celestial bodies.
Finding Spike? Sorry I got side tracked, it keeps making me so angry! Discord was an insane primal force of chaos, what's her excuse?
Spike! Yes! Half of us went to save Twilight! The other half went to save Spike! With half of each group acting as a emergency 'help' if the first group ran into trouble. Thankfully, Minuette and that Cobweb had been planning already or we might not have had a plan period. Not the perfect plan but Cadence was being completely frantic! Ranting about the end of the world. I know darlings, but after hearing about it for the fourth time, I feel slightly resigned to my fate of having to be a hero as well as a fashion designer.
We could just wait to spot one of Spike's dragon mails and try to follow it back to its source. But we couldn't watch the entire sky and simply WAIT for a letter to HAPPEN to fly by.
We knew Spike had to be somewhere with a window for his dragon mail to work. But as our romp through the castle had proven, the castle was a very large place, and that was assuming he was even still in the castle.
He likely wasn't with Twilight, as that'd be putting all their eggs in one basket. Then again, Spike WAS her Number One assistant, she might have convinced Chrysalis to keep him by her side. That just meant we'd have twice the pony power for this. And he wouldn't be somewhere out in the open on a silver platter wearing a little bow.
If we sent Spike letters to lead us to him...it would lead the changelings right to us as THEY traced OUR letters back to us.
We had exactly one ace left up our sleeve. One we had been careful to keep until now. Once this was blown, we wouldn't be able to recover it. But I didn't realize just how big a card this was we could play until I asked,
"Can any of us even SEND a letter to Spike?" I had asked.
"I can." We all looked to Moon Dancer. "He...he showed me how...he taught me...I don't think even Twilight or the Princesses know...he said it was. . . so I could always be in contact with him...I never used it. I...I didn't want to get his hopes up."
"And the changelings still think you're their slave," I said.
"HOPEFULLY," Minuette said.
"Then let's find out!" I said, "Send Spike a letter, and lead us straight to him!"
Naturally we didn't send the letter from the church, that would be stupid.
I still wasn't happy about bringing foals along, but those fillies...we could have told them death was waiting for them, and they'd have still come along, at least this way we could protect them. And...they were Spike's friends, we shouldn't put all our eggs in one basket, if I couldn't save Spike, maybe they could.
Sweetie Belle. Applejack. Spike. Hold on. I'm coming.
"Sir! We've received word that cattle matching the description of some of those who aided Cadenza in her escape are on their way to the observatory tower!"
"Have they been engaged?"
"No sir! We're to deal with them inside to prevent causing alarm among the city's cattle! They'll be here in minutes!"
"Prepare to destroy them!"
"But sir, our orders are no cattle are to be killed."
"Screw orders! These are not civies, these are rebels!"
A yellow fruit rolled innocently into the room among the changeling troopers.
"What is that object?"
"It appears to be a lemon."
The lemon exploded in a gas of yellow smoke stinging in their compound eyes worse than industrial strength pepper spray and left them coughing and gagging, trying to shield their noses.
Fluttershy sent her song birds to be protected by Philomena, Cadence had a flock of little spies she could call upon. I was happy she was on our side.
"ANGRY PAPA LEMON! CHARGE!" Lemon Hearts commanded as the giant lemon with arms and legs steamrolling the changeling welcoming committee who were all writhing on the floor.
"You were supposed to be our ace in the hole you fool!" Silver Tongue snapped.
"And we ran into a HUGE hole that you needed me to fill for you!" The yellow unicorn retorted.
"Are you so naive you think the rest of the tower is going to be empty or the same trick is going to keep working?"
Fluttercruel said, "Point, but don't argue among the nasties! Maybe we should just skip this stupid gauntlet and FLY up!"
"None of the windows are big enough for us to squeeze through! Except for a pegasus filly who can't fly!"
"Relocate the dragon if you can't get rid of the rogue cattle!" The changeling officer managed to scream at the top of his lungs before going into another coughing fit.
"Screw this! I'll fly the fillies up, they unzap Spike, and which we should have done before Lemon-Rambo here started the party!"
"You'll be a sitting duck! We can't bet all our hopes on that," Moon Dancer replied.
"ENOUGH!" Silver Tongue bellowed in a 'drill sergeant tone' no one present had heard. One of the wheezing Changelings had gotten close and made a jump for him, but the retired guard caught the blow, twisted his leg, and knocked him out cold with a strike to the temple, and pushed up on his glasses. "We weren't entirely unprepared for this but enough arguing and lets get back on target. Our objective is to rescue Spike!"
"Yes sir," squeaked everypony meekly.
"Good! Now Lemon Hearts, more gas bombs for cover, anyone with melee experience get in position to intercept attackers, now! We need breathing room to think!"
The gifted unicorn nodded and threw some more to give them cover as Rarity and Fluttercruel prepared themselves for a fight.
"Dad," said Silver Spoon. She pointed to an air ventilation system, too small for an adult, but for a group of fillies and, on the way back, a baby dragon.
"Okay, that could work...But who will watch your backs?" he was still her father.
Applebloom looked thoughtful. "Any pony got matches? Ah think Ah can do somethin' with that."
Silver Tongue blinked, but produced some matches. "Pays to be prepared, they teach you that in the guard. But I'd prefer you having someone to watch your back."
Lemon Hearts threw another lemon smoke bomb to keep the cover up and handed the fillies some lemon bombs and whistled, causing some lemons -turned into filly sized but still somewhat cartoonish familiars- to climb out of her bag and flank the Crusaders. "There's some back up. Use the lemon bombs if you get in a spot, they seem a bit more effective on Changelings than I thought," she said, noting the Changelings didn't seem to tolerate the smell of the lemon scented smoke very well.
"Lemons are a natural insect repellent and many types of insects can't stand the smell of it," Fluttershy explained.
"...That would explain why Moth stood upwind of me."
Rarity looked at the little lemon familiars. "Why do you have these on you?"
"I wanted Angry Momma and Papa Lemon to have kids, okay?"
Silver Tongue too steadied himself. "Spoon...you're sure you'll be okay?"
"Dad, if the things the Crusaders do daily haven't kill me, this won't. We'll be okay."
"Alright...be careful...And if you girls run into too much danger, get out of there, got it?" he asked in complete seriousness.
The filly nodded and hugged her father quickly. The CMC and the lemons then snuck into the ventilation shaft and began their assent.
"What do the rest of us do?" asked Fluttercruel.
"Three pronged attack," Silver Tongue whispered, getting as close as possible to the others so the Changelings wouldn't hear. "We fight our way up, the Crusaders sneak up. Whichever group reaches Spike first frees him or we extract Spike when we get there. Our flier heads up the outside with either Rarity or our third unicorn to try to rescue Spike that way and also try to stop the changeling if they try to take Spike back to Chrysalis. Make the Changelings think this is the main assault."
"Why them and not the Crusaders?"
"Because the unicorns can fire back and this lets us attack three ways instead of two."
"How do we get Spike if the windows don't fit us?"
"You have telekinesis! Use it!"
Fluttercruel nodded and intercepting a Changeling charging the group who quickly put sun glasses quickly over his burning eyes.
"Ha! Your only weapon can't work on me now!" he exclaimed, throwing a punch. The Demi-draconequus promptly blocked his punch and elbowed him in the face to stun him. He then gave a very sharp yelp as she kicked backwards as hard as she could with both hind legs to a very sensitive area.
"Wrong Flutter," she said, giving a smirk before letting the Changeling crumple to the floor in agony and curl into a ball.
"Okay, so good news bad news," Fluttercruel said, regrouping with the others. "Bad news, apparently they know about the Stare."
Rarity grumbled. "Twilight..."
"Good news is, they're still vulnerable to getting nailed in the stallionhood...and it's still hilarious."
Fluttercruel got stares out of that.
"What? It's important information. Oh, and apparently they don't know me and mom are sharing a body or at least they think mom's a one trick pony."
"Wait, what?" asked Moon Dancer.
"Long story, not time to tell it now."
"Try to minimize their airspace," Silver Tongue ordered. "We don't need it and they won't be able to swarm us as easily!"
Lemon Hearts nodded and ordered her Angry Papa Lemon to ram some decorative pillars over at an angle to limit the amount of available airspace the Changelings had while Rarity used rapid fire pieces of whatever she could to keep cover fire up and force the Changelings to remain low.
"Which one of you two is going up with our group and which one is going on Fluttershy's back?"
"Well, I could have just bluffed my way through," Moon Dancer stated. "But I guess I'll go."
"Darling, I beg to-"
"You're powerful, but you need ammo for your projectiles, I just need mana."
Rarity grumbled and used a nearby rug to create a makeshift shroud for Moon Dancer to hid her identity. "There, now at least we can maintain your secret identity."
Fluttercruel got the mare on her back and took off once outside, heading up the tower while the Angry Papa Lemon used its long arms to help keep the Changelings grounded alongside Rarity.
"Ugh, hang on," Fluttercruel said, dodging 'Royal Guards' trying to stop them and fire from inside the tower windows.
Moon Dancer gathered power in her horn and blasted several Changelings with her magic. "Twilight isn't the only mage unicorn in the world."
"Here's hoping the kids can make it through alright."
Some use silver spoons to dig out of a prison, now I'm breaking INTO one.
I can't believe we're doing this. I can handle the weird monsters and the fact we're being accompanied by freaky filly-sized lemons, but...we're helping save Equestria. Here we are, three little fillies helping save the whole world.
The Angry Baby Lemons made climbing up the ventilation system a lot easier, and the Changelings didn't seem to have considered the rebels would let foals take part in an attack. Not that I blame them. But we weren't drafted, we volunteered for this. It was just WEIRD to be in the middle of things helping save the world. Last time world threatening things had happened we were either turned into monsters or running for our lives in some way. Now we were infiltrating an enemy lair to rescue our friend.
Once we got to the top, Applebloom prepared her little surprise, but that was mainly for us to get out rather than in, or a last resort.
We came out INSIDE the room at the top, which had two guards at the door. I was assuming with all the Changelings between the others and Spike, they thought two would be all needed to supervise him personally. Not that there was any reason for them to actually expect three little fillies to break into the room via the ventilation system. Spike...he was like a little robot... Any life that was in him before was gone. He just went through the motions with the piles of letters with a blank expression, over and over. It was scary.
I admit it, I had butterflies in my stomach. We had to come up with some kind of plan to disable two Changelings without alerting anypony outside. But...it was weird. I actually had faith in us. Hehe. Hard to believe that a year ago I was the one calling those three worthless right along with...with Diamond...And thinking I was worthless. Now the fate of Equestria LITERALLY rested on our shoulders.
Yes, daddy had said 'turn back if we ran into too much danger.' Two bad guy grunts wasn't 'too much danger' compared to 'accidentally travel sideways in time' or, as Applebloom told, escaping a town of flesh eating zombies.
So...we planned quickly.
"Why do I have to do the puppy dog eyes?" asked Scootaloo. "That's Applebloom's thing."
"Yeah, but Applebloom has a lot more stopping power than you or me," I explained. "And, well...we kind of need that."
"Okay, ready girls?"
"Ready Angry Baby Lemons?"
They gave a thumbs up...They're still freaky.
"Serious Cutie Mark Crusaders Rescue Team! Yay!" we whispered. And we were. Everypony always said if we got serious we could do anything, and now was the chance to prove it. I know it was a dream, but I remembered the stage float trap. How they were able to make a perfect trap down to the letter when it mattered. Well now it mattered.
Scootaloo snuck her way under a table and peaked out, so as to seem like she'd been there the whole time. "Um...excuse me, Mr. Guards?" she asked, looking up.
They took a defensive stance, but then looked down at her. After all, why would they take a little filly seriously as a threat? "Yeah, we're guards...what are you doing here?"
Good thing they were still trying to play 'good guards'.
"I was on a tour awhile ago and the guard leading us got blown away by a weird energy wave thingie. I fell asleep hiding up here. I'm lost..." she said, giving her best puppy dog eyes.
I don't know if the Changelings were zapped by the puppy dog eyes or were just getting tipsy eating the cuteness but it kept their attention long enough for one of the Angry Baby Lemons to sneak me up to a shelf overhanging the door with the biggest thing I could get my hoofs on. A book. The entire, unabridged royal cake recipe book, eighth edition. Or at least that's what the cover said. Ugh...good thing I have Earth Pony strength! I think it's heavier than I am!...Then again, all this exercise I've had with the others has made me lose weight. Mom did approve of that.
Once Applebloom got in position, another Angry Baby Lemon climbed down the wall and used its hose-like arm things to grab one of the Changeling's champron and yank it off his head.
I dropped the book smack dab on his head from as high as I could get.
With an 'oof!' he staggered and fell to the ground, out cold and his disguise disappearing.
The other one turned and snapped up at me. "What the Tartar-"
He was cut off when Applebloom gave him her best applebucking kick...well, right in the apples. Yeah yeah, it's low, but we're FOALS! We only have two places we can kick to actually hurt an adult! And kneecaps weren't gonna do it!
As the Changeling was too busy being in debilitating pain to scream, Scootaloo quickly pulled his helmet off as I grabbed the SECOND heaviest thing I could find (a copy of Princess Celestia's autobiography) and dropped that on his head to knock him out. Considering Applebloom is an Earth Pony who spent a large chunk of her time doing rough physical labor, he's probably thanking me right now.
We held our breath and waited. All we heard was the two Changelings breathing, the battle going on below, and the clockwork like fire-breath of Spike and letters. We gave a sigh of relief that we'd managed to do it quietly enough to avoid alerting anypony else...Daddy, I hope you're okay.
Scootaloo rubbed her eyes. "Ow...Applebloom, how do you make the puppy eyes look so easy? It makes my eyes hurt."
"It's a gift... Sweetie's better."
We made sure the Changelings wouldn't be going anywhere if they regained consciousness before we left. Remember how in plays sometimes the parents come home to find the babysitter tied to a chair and gagged by the foals? Foals can really do that if we're clopped off enough.
Spike seemed too focused on doing whatever that blasted witch had told him to and kept picking up letters and sending them.
We did the smart thing and grabbed him, covering his mouth and dragging him under a nearby table just in case so we could say our peace and hopefully free him. He didn't struggle much, he really was more like a robot following his programming than the baby dragon we all knew.
Pardon my language, but I hope that bucking witch ends up in the sun for doing this.
"Okay, so we just need tah hug 'em, right?" asked Applebloom.
"No...we need to show him how we really feel about him when we do it," I remembered. "It can be a hug, but we still need to do it with 'true love' or that's what Miss Moth said."
Moth...if you were lying...
Applebloom hugged him. He shuddered, but...it didn't work.
Scootaloo tried. The same thing happened.
I tried. This time I actually felt his heart race and him shudder HARD, but the spell didn't break.
"It didn't work!" Applebloom said, panicked.
"No...it's working, but not well enough," I said, able to see it in his eyes, the green glow flickered and the magic had DISTORTED for a moment, like glass about to shatter.
"We need to try harder!"
"Ugh...sappy stuff..." Scootaloo muttered.
"We gotta do it. And remember, how you really feel this time!"
Applebloom took a deep breath. "Spike...look...yer one of us...yer one of the Cutie Mark Crusaders now and we don't know what we'd do without yah anymore!" She turned on the puppy dog eyes full blast. But this time they weren't fake to get what she wanted, they were real.
"...You and Sweetie Belle...since Diamond left, you've been so close to me, Spike...I don't want to lose two of my friends so soon after I made them," I continued. I actually let myself start crying like I'd WANTED to this entire time. "Please, come back to us Spike! We miss you! We need you!" Yes, I think I had puppy dog eyes too. It's hard to tell when you do it naturally.
Scootaloo groaned, not being one for emotional sentiment. "Look...Spike...Just..." As usual, she had trouble finding the right worlds. "I just want to...Please....Oh buck it! You're my bud, Spike! I MISS YOU! You can be a stick in the mud sometimes but now that you're a part of the club we couldn't be the Cutie Mark Crusaders without you! I miss you! Rarity misses you! Moon Dancer misses you!...Moonsent! Just come back already! Please!"
Spike grabbed his head, groaning in pain like he was under strain. "No...Not you..." he grunted, sounding almost like a primal beast. It sounded like Spike was there, but he wasn't at the same time.
"Spike! It's us!"
"No...I don't want you..."
And with that we all three hugged Spike. He struggled and pushed us off, but dang it! If Applebloom and Scootaloo are determined enough to go through as much as they had trying to earn their Cutie Marks, how determined do you think we three were to save our friends?!
We jumped back on and hugged him as tightly as we possibly could, not caring about his struggling! The harder he tried to force us off, the harder we hung on!
"Spike you stubborn dragon! You're coming back even if we have to drag you out of the witch's fog kicking and screaming!" Scootaloo said. "Now snap out of it you big lug and come back to your friends!"
"Ah don't care what happy juice that sick nag is pumpin' inta yer brain! It ain't got nothin' on friends and family!" Applebloom continued. "And we're gonna remind yah of that if it kills us!"
"Spike...you've been my friend after I lost Diamond. I didn't WANT new friends until the Crusaders showed me I NEEDED them! You NEED us whether you WANT us or not!" I finally said. "Now stop being such a stubborn brat and wake up! You're our friend and we love you!"
I'd never been good with Earth Pony Magic. Scratch that, I probably hadn't used it once in my entire life, but suddenly I felt something...spark in me. In my hooves where I was touching Spike and a tiny bit of mana sparked at them. So did Applebloom's. I noticed Scootaloo's wings jolt with lightning for a moment. I looked Spike in the eyes. They glowed green for a moment, then the magic seemed to burn away like his fire was melting it. After it was gone...the green before and now was like the difference was like silver before and after it's been polished.
Twilight blinked, looking to Pinkie Pie. "What is it?"
"My Pinkie sense, that's the third time it's went off like that!" said the pink pony. "It's weird, I've never had THIS one before we got to Canterlot!"
"...When did you have it the other two times?"
"Let's see...Once when we were running from the Changelings after you ambushed us, and even earlier right as the Queen Meanie was heading down the isle!"
Everypony blinked for a moment. "Pinkie...while you were ditching the Changelings, Cadence was freeing me."
Lyra gave it thought. "Hey, didn't we free Moon Dancer right as the wedding started?"
Everypony just stared for a moment.
"Wait...so it's a 'somepony's been freed from mind control' sense?" Twilight asked. "But that would mean..." Twilight's eyes lit up. "Spike's free! They did it!"
I give a gasp as I finally 'wake up' all the way... no, not quite... that would mean I'd been asleep... I saw it all...Twilight... Princess... Rarity... everypony...
"I'm sorry..." I said, not even TRYING not to cry. "I...I'm so sorry..."
Why? I...I'd almost been DISAPPOINTED Discord had ignored me...why? Why couldn't that witch have just overlooked me too? Why...why did she have to make me do this?!
"It's alright, Spike," Silver...Silver said. They didn't stop hugging me.
"It's okay, Spike, we know yah didn't want tah follow that witch's orders."
"But...but I did...I mean I didn't but I felt like I did...I felt like there was NOTHING WRONG working for her, hurting Twilight, like brushing my teeth...that...that's the worst part..."
"...Spike, it's just like my daddy says Discord made him...People like them...it's how they work..."
Rarity...Applejack...all of you...is this how you felt when Discord made you hurt Twilight? Did you feel...I don't know, violated? Like...like...ugh...I don't want to complete that thought...
I looked at the fillies hugging me...They saved me, I'm grateful but...
I...I don't know how I feel right now... How I felt when they were trying to break the spell.
Ugh...I held my stomach and groaned. I know how THAT feels...like my stomach is in knots.
"Are you alright?" Scootaloo asked.
"Y-Yeah...just...ugh... I've never sent this many letters in one day...and I feel like I've had my heart ripped out...but I'm...Maybe... maybe I'm not fine..." Forget when Celestia sent back all of Twilight's friendship letters, this is worse!
I look at them...I...I don't know...
"What's wrong?" Silver asks, confused as they step back and look at me.
"I... I... When you were freeing me... A... A part of me felt... dirty... like... Ugh... Look, I... I don't like you girls THAT way but my brain or that witch's magic or something...it kept telling me I felt like I do about Rarity or mixing up how I felt or...UGH! I don't know!"
Was I going crazy? Considering what I'd been through I don't know it wouldn't surprise me. They blushed. Of course they would.
Silver blinked, then shook her head with a sigh. "Spike... Look... Uh... this is hard to describe but... foals don't always have best reign of their emotions...sometimes we mix one up for the other and...well..." she actually blushed bright pink. "I haven't even told those weird interviewers but...Ugh...there was a time that I thought I might... feel...you know... that way about Diamond Tiara...but I didn't. And I REALIZED that when...I had a little crush on a colt at one point. It's a different thing... Mom had to explain to me that there's DIFFERENT kinds of love...And foals tend to mix one up for the other."
I frowned. That...that made sense but... "But...I'm not that childish am I? I..."
"You're a very mature...chick? Is that what a baby dragon is called?"
"Uh...I think it's wyrmling..." ...I hadn't really though of that before...
"But...you're still a chick, wyrmling, whatever. Even by PONY years you're not THAT much older than we are."
"Actually," said Applebloom. "Ah was born before Applejack got her Cutie Mark, and you were hatched the day she got it! Spike, Ah'm OLDER than yah are!"
I blinked. I tried to argue with it...but she was right. Dash's Sonic Rainboom was WHY I was hatched and why all six of them got their Cutie Marks. I just couldn't argue with that. I suddenly felt, I dunno, one upped somehow?
I blushed...somehow. I'm coldblooded, how is that physically possible?!
"I know, you don't act it," Silver told me. "...Neither did I, Spike. I thought I wasn't some little foal but...I am. My mom MADE me act like a little grown-up instead of the filly I actually am. And...it bucking STUNK!"
I took a step back. "Silver...did you just CUSS?"
"Yes!... Please don't tell daddy..."
"Good. But I'm serious, now that I know what I was missing, having that much of my foalhood wasted trying to be a grown-up bucking STINKS! I WISH me...me and Diamond hadn't been trying to grow-up so hard we forgot to be fillies! Maybe if we had I wouldn't had NEEDED to be a bully to feel good! I'm tempted to go back into time again and slap myself in the face for doing it!"
"Didn't Doctor Whooves say that'd cause a time paradox?" asked Applebloom.
"I don't care!"
I blinked. "I...I never thought of it that way."
"Spike, when's the last time you actually acted like a kid JUST to act like a kid?"
"Uh...well...there was...no...I did...no, I was playing with you girls...uh..."
"Spike, you're a dragon, you're lucky to have a longer foalhood...chickhood...wyrmlinghood...whatever you have than we will. Don't waste it. You're only a kid once. I KNOW how it feels. How being grown up is some big cool thing...but being a kid isn't something you should waste. Believe me, I've been on both sides of it and I WISH I had that part of my foalhood back. Being a kid has its downsides... but you ARE a kid, maybe it'd be HEALTHY if you actually acted like it from time to time!"
I thought about it. "But...what about Rarity?"
"...The age difference isn't that big, Spike, maybe some day. But for now, why waste your foalhood when you don't need to?"
"Ah help AJ on the farm all the time, Spike," Applebloom said with a smile. "Bein' a foal don't mean yah can't put in a hard day's work."
"Being a foal doesn't mean we can't be serious when we need to," Scootaloo said. "Look at what the three of us just did when we got serious."
She pointed out the table cloth and I peaked out to see the Changelings that had been guarding me bound and gagged to chairs, trying to keep their noses turned away from a couple walking lemons that were on their shoulders watching them like hawks...I'm not questioning that.
"...I remember, Point taken...maybe you're right..."
Maybe...maybe I am a kid...Maybe I put too much stress on myself sometimes trying to act grown up...I do have fun hanging out with those four, I really do...maybe...
"And Spike...Ah ain't the best one tah talk about actin' grown up," Applebloom said. "But Ah know a thing or two about the different types of love...before Ah met the girls, Ah just had mah family. Family love is the Apple Family's thing, and Ah WILL use it tah break AJ out of that witch's spell. But it ain't the same thin' that Ah feel for mah friends. They're different kinds of love. And none of 'em loves are worth more or less than the rest. There ain't no shame in havin' any of 'em...but Ah know it's hard tah tell 'em apart sometimes. We love yah as a friend, yah love us the same way."
Moon Dancer...Rarity...I...I have a lot to think about...
I frowned thinking about it.
"What's wrong now?"
"Rarity...Moon Dancer...No offense, I'm GRATEFUL...but..."
"Spike, they're here too. We were just the ones who could get to yah easiest," Applebloom said.
"Yeah, the passage was too small for 'em to get through, and there's a bunch of Changelings between there and here. We ALL came to rescue you...well, except Cadence, Rainbow, and Pinkie, they're saving Twilight," Scootaloo pointed out.
I blinked. Twilight. "Oh...I...Thanks..."
They hugged me again.
"You're welcome, but we probably should start getting out of here."
I blinked, remembering where we were. "Oh...right..." Then I gasped. "Moon Dancer! Wait! YOU SAID! She's! She's really, but-wait! Are you working for-"
They all shouted in my face. "She's free Spike! Her friends freed her just before the wedding started!"
I fell on my scaly rear, I didn't care. "Moon Dancer, she's. . . she's free?"
"She's free Spike, she's really free," Applebloom said smiling at me, "She's been helping us. She's been helping us get you free Spike. She's your friend. You're HER friend!"
Moon Dancer...Friends. Rarity? Do you see me as a friend too?...She was happy to see me like when I visited. But Moon Dancer never kissed me. Moon Dancer never told what a wonderful dragon I was so hard it snapped me out of my greed growth. Moon Dancer more often than not turned down my offers to help her, not like Rarity... Maybe there was a difference after all.
"Girls, thanks." I hugged them and the hugged me, again.
We got out from under the table and I looked at the two restrained Changelings. "How did you do that anyway? I was busy being a zombie."
"Ya said ya remembered!"
"I do. I just wasn't paying attention."
"Scootaloo distracted them with puppy dog eyes and I knocked one out with a big book," Silver started.
"Then Ah kicked the other one in that spot stallions hate gettin' hit in so Silver could take 'em out with another book."
"The filly who's family regularly kicks all the apples out of trees for a living kicked 'em there? Youch!" I winced in sympathy pains.
"Yeah, I felt it just watching and I'm a girl," Scootaloo said.
"Is it just me or is there something really weird about the fact you three could do that but only one of you has a Cutie Mark?"
"...Ah don't know, but should we be complainin' about it?"
"...Good point, why am I complaining when you saved my life?"
"Don't know, now come on, we need to get out of here," Scootaloo said.
I nodded. Okay. What could I do? Ah! "Hang on a sec, I've got an idea!"
"We've got a few ideas too, let's hurry though."
So while they did what they were doing, I did two things. First, I found any letters with important information for us in them, and then burned the rest with normal dragon fire. Then I wrote replacement letters.
"What are these?" Silver asked, looking at them.
"Conflicting orders, and all to the wrong places. Taste of their medicine! Should give us a bit of an opening while the Changelings try to figure out what's going on."
"Ah. Well, we've got a couple distractions of our own set up."
I looked over to see two things. The first was a basket of lemons set to fall on whoever opened the door. The second was Applebloom putting the finishing touches on a...campfire in the middle of the room arranged with matches.
"...What are the lemons for?"
"They're lemon gas bombs. Changelings REALLY hate them."
"Ah...And the camp fire...oh! I get it!"
"Uh, anypony think how we're gonna tell our friends we got Spike?" Scootaloo asked. Figures.
Time for Sir Spike to save the day again. "You said Rarity was here too right?"
I scribbled a message to my dearest and sent it, it instantly flew down the air duck.
"Hey! I thought you needed a bond to send letters!" Silver Spoon. said.
"Need it to receive letters." I corrected.
"Okay! Let's follow it down, and get out of here!" Scootaloo declared.
"Hey!" said a voice. I looked over and saw Fluttercruel and...and Moon Dancer looking through the window. "Kids! You did it! come on! We need to get out of here!"
"Moon Dancer...you're..." It was like looking at another mare with mind free.
"It's the real me, Spike! Hurry! We can talk later!"
I looked to Fluttercruel, who looked more than a bit roughed up.
"Do NOT ASK what happened on my way up here! Just get on my bucking back. Yes 'Shy language!"
"Alright! Just let meh light this and we're good tah go!" said Applebloom, striking a match and throwing it into the center of the spell circle while I sent off all my fake letters in all directions. "Alright, now!"
Moon Dancer grabbed us and the lemons with her magic and pulled us out and onto Fluttercruel's back as we finally made enough noise to get the Changelings to burst into the room...resulting in the lemons going off in an explosion of yellow gas and them acting like they'd just gotten a face full of skunk spray. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't kinda funny. Hey, they'd just put me through Tartarus, can you blame me for enjoying them getting some karma?
As we went out the tower, Applebloom's surprise started going off too. They didn't have Sweetie Belle to help this time, but Applebloom had managed to pull it off somehow. Kinda.
"Forward troops! The dragon must be protected or reclaimed! For Her-" A tsunami from nowhere flooded down the stairs knocking changelings back down.
A pony shaped beast made of water roared like a tidal wave at the head of the stairs.
"Huh...we were tryin' tah summon a fire elemental that time," said Applebloom.
"The Knight is crowned!" Rarity exclaimed from where she was hiding after having a nervous break down after being hit by mud balls the changelings had thrown at her the moment they recognized her.
"What?" Lemon Hearts asked.
"The girls have Spike!" Rarity hissed, hoping the little fillies hadn't been caught and brainwashed Spikey had sent the message.
"Retreat!" ordered Silver Tongue, Lemon Hearts throwing a large number of Lemon Bombs, practically filling the room with the (to the Changelings) the unbearable yellow smoke to cover their retreat.
"After...after the-" the Changeling commander started before a gurgling roar came from upstairs. "What was," he coughed, "that?"
We quickly realized two things. One, the Changelings would try to kill me before they'd let me escape (thankfully they were quickly distracted by the Water Elemental now loose in the tower). And two, Fluttercruel wasn't flying down gracefully and was more trying to achieve a controlled crash.
"Too much weight! I'm not bucking Rainbow Dash here!"
Moon Dancer did a good job of stopping us from screaming, thankfully. I saw one 'Guard' make a dive for us.
I remembered something from when I was a little...okay, littler, and promptly blasted him with my magic fire. When it cleared, he was no longer wearing armor, leaving him confused and vulnerable to getting blasted back into the tower by Moon Dancer.
Hehe, thanks Shining.
"Where did you send it?" Silver asked.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Rich, but I'm afraid this street is closed to the public right now," said a 'Guard' to the Riches' group. "You need to-OW! OW! OW!...OW!"
Filthy Rich blinked, looking at the unconscious Changeling buried under a set of armor that had materialized over his head out of nowhere.
"...Well, that was convenient, let's move on."
"I don't know, probably nowhere important."
"Hold on! We're going to crash!" Fluttercruel shouted.
Moon Dancer's horn glowed and a mound of feathers formed underneath us, softening the impact.
"Alright, hurry before anyone sees us!" The red-head unicorn beauty warned.
The rest of the group came running out of the tower and regrouped with us. The Changelings seemed busy trying to banish the Water Elemental before it got out or in disarray from my letters.
I saw Rarity come out of the tower, she was...not clean...she dove back into the tower and came back out seconds later wet but washed.
Rarity gave me a quick hug the moment she spotted me so tight I could hardly breathe. She was...crying...she looked so worried...
"Spikey-wickey! You're safe! You're free! You are free aren't you? Oh I'm sorry what happened to you dear!"
"Y-Yeah, Rarity, I'm free..." I hugged her back...even if I don't understand love...she was worried about me, THAT'S what mattered.
"That's wonderful dear! I promise I won't let that witch hurt you again. Let's have lots and lots of jewels for you when we get home!"
"Thanks Rarity...So, what's the escape plan?" I squeaked out when she let me go.
"Sewers," Silver Tongue reported quietly.
"S-Sewers?" asked Rarity. And she fainted. Hehe, I missed that.
They picked her up and Lemon Hearts used one of her lemons like a ninja smoke bomb while we got into a sewer.
"After them! Hold you're bucking breath you larva!" The changelings swarmed into the open sewer like giant cockroaches.
Judging by everypony else's faces, I should be glad dragon's have a special sense of smell...
"I told you, I'm good at scenery illusions if you give time to set them up," Rarity whispered as watched the changelings disappear into the sewer system, us still on the street level, never having really gone in. Yeah, I fib.
"The changelings are so used to using misdirection, I doubt they'd think 'stupid cattle' would use it on them," Moon Dancer whispered.
Okay. Number one assistant time. Checklist!
-First, mug some Changeling guards for armor, Silver's dad fits them best. Looks natural on him.
-Have Moon Dancer continue to walk like a zombie, I think this is the last time she'll be able to use this trick.
-Have the rest of us dress up in shrouds.
-Smarter than the average changelings stop us.
-They take off the hoods and find Scoots and Silver Spoon.
-They open the basket and close it quickly when they find only lemons.
-Unroll a rug and find only a rug.
-Then they rip open the cute little baby wrappings, and have 'baby' Applebloom begin to cry and have 'mommy' berate the guard for waking her up.
-And I get to be a hump on 'old lady' Rarity's back all the way back to hero headquarters.
-And of course...
"So Silver Spoon...who was the colt?"