Princess Cadence left the carriage (a royal guard at each wheel) with her guests. Royal guards formed two lines alongside the red carpet leading to the Medley House theater.
Princess Cadence moved proud and aloof, her horn held up high. Shining Armor and Applejack trotted behind her, faces forward, eyes darting left and right. Poor Sweetie Belle dragged her hooves at the rear.
"Move it!" Princess Cadence hissed, "I mean, sorry dear, but please hurry up."
"Y-yes Princess," The filly whimpered pathetically. "As you wish."
The fake Princess Cadence and her entourage trotted into the theater where a large number of Canterlot ponies were already seated and calmly sat down underneath a multi-faceted ball chandelier.
A warble tweeted.
At the signal ponies, hiding under a background image illusion of the ceiling got the drop on the royal party.
The real Cadence landed right on top of Shining Armor, opening her wings to slow her fall and embraced him, leaning her horn against him. "I love you dear."
Rarity gracefully landed with her telekinesis and magically grabbed Sweetie Belle, touched horns with her, and said, "Loving big sister is here to save you Sweetie."
Sweetie Belle spoke haltingly, "It...it was like I was just a doll again. I could think, but all I could think was what she TOLD ME to think!"
"Shush. It's okay Sweetie Belle, you're no doll, you've never been. You're my little sister."
Applebloom popped out from under a seat and hugged Applejack's neck for all it was worth! "Ah'm here big sister! Ah love ya!"
Pinkie Pie popped from the ceiling illusion using a bungie-rope and fired a set of party cannons at the royal guards knocking them off their hooves.
The fake Cadence was hit by a blue smoke bomb and then struck by fireworks at point blank range as Trixie broke her fall with the imposter's spine. "Ta-da!"
However, she made sure to not take her eyes off the impostor. This was Queen Chrysalis they were dealing with after all.
The real Cadence was confused, she knew love, and something didn't feel right with Shining still. 'Oh no, did the precautions spell backfire?!' She thought. Did Twilight's spells meant to shield them from love based changeling magic stop her love from touching Shining's heart?
"Shining! Can you hear me? Are you free?"
"Of course I can Princess Cadence," Shining Armor said.
Pinkie blinked, looking herself over...and feeling nothing. "My Pinkie Sense didn't...oh no!"
Every window and door in the Medley House closed tight and was locked.
"Thank you for your love, Applebloom," Applejack said without a trace of her accent. Applebloom's eyes went wide as Applejack slammed her into the ground, making her forehead bleed.
Rarity realized that Sweetie Belle felt a lot heavier than she should have, more like a grown pony, oh no. Sweetie Belle bit into Rarity's foreleg, making her cry out.
Trixie's eyes didn't leave the fake Cadence. She heard Pinkie Pie shout above her. "TRIXIE! ALL AROUND YOU!"
Trixie looked up just in time to be mobbed in every direction by the theater goers, pinning her down.
Cadence realized the truth as she tried to fly up only for 'Shining Armor' bear hug her.
The entire theater, the drapes closed, and windows and doors sealed, was engulfed in a sweep of green flames, as every guard, theater goer, and member of the 'royal guests' revealed their true form.
Rarity threw away the impostor Sweetie just before the adult changeling could stab her in the chest with her horn.
"Come on lover girl, stay still, that love was tasty," said the fake Shining Armor.
"Sisterly love really does have its own flavor," said the fake Applejack before slamming her hoof down on Applebloom's head that she just managed to miss thanks to the filly rolling.
Silver Spoon rushed from the shadows and grabbed Applebloom to pull her back further from the monsters. The fake Applejack began to tear the seats away in pursuit.
Trixie found herself struck by changeling slime in every possible direction, on every spot on her body.
Pinkie Pie did a switch-out out with a 'pinata' version of herself as it was coated instantly by several layers of changeling slime. "Pardon the meme, but IT'S A TRAP!" she exclaimed.
"We have to get out of here NOW!" Trixie's horn flared, and sputtered. 'Oh no!' "An anti-teleport warding!" Then a glob shot into her open mouth.
"How could you be so stupid as to not expect a trap?" Queen Chrysalis asked.
'We did! We just didn't count on audience participation!' Trixie thought. On the plus side, this meant there have to be a lot less guards at the castle now, right?
Trixie ran through possibilities to escape her predicament, but the only things she could think of where neutralized by them needing to explode point blank to actually free her or required her to not be covered head to toe in slime.
Suddenly, a stream of green flames washed over her, teleporting the undried webbing ABOVE a group of Changelings and dropping it on them.
Trixie dodged another barrage of Changeling slime and bucked one that made a dive for her in the face and knocking him back into another.
Trixie gagged and vomited the changeling slime she had swallowed.
'...Wait...green fire?' Blinking as she realized what that meant.
A changeling took advantage of her moment of confusion and splattered her in the face with slime again, she heard a little dragon battle cry and a thick dragon skull impact the hard changeling carapace, dragon bones were harder.
Green fire cleaned off the slime again and this time Trixie wasn't caught off guard and this time slammed Spike into the floor with her to avoid the second barrage of changeling slime.
"Everypony, cover each other!" She shouted. "What are you doing Spike?"
"Saving you," Spike said, as Trixie created a storm cloud forming a ring of lightning around the pair.
"Thank you. But shouldn't you be saving Rarity?"
"You needed my help more than that her!" Spike said.
"No 'I don't need your help?'"
"Trixie is grateful you care enough about her to help."
"Hey, what are friends for?"
"Knockin' 'em down is easy, gettin' 'em ta stay down is the problem!" Pinkie Pie exclaimed as she fired shot after shot from spare party cannons in every direction around her, one hit a changeling in the center, knocked them through a seat. It got it, shook his head, and, while giving a grunt of pain from the blunt impact, made another rush at the pink pony.
"Spike help!" Rarity screamed as her head emerged from a mass of changelings.
"Rarity!" Spike leaped for her, he suddenly found himself gripped by Trixie's magic, and himself then used as a club on Rarity, who was knocked out cold, Spike barely felt a thing, and 'Rarity' was knocked into its true form.
The real Rarity kicked off the changeling who had grabbed her onto the floor between the seats, and unleashed a torrent of gems she combined into a shield as another changeling came down on of her and shield bashed it into a wall.
"Come back you little rat!" The ex-fake AJ changeling said as it chased Applebloom under a seat, another changeling doing the same and bonking heads.
Silver Spoon popped up from another and blew a raspberry. "What's a matter? Can't catch a couple foals?" she called in a practiced mocking voice.
The Changelings snarled and leapt at her, but she dived under the seats, earning them another head on collision. They then ripped the seat out only for Applebloom to kick one in the back of the foreleg making them fall forward and knock into their teammate. Silver Spoon leapt off Applebloom's back and did a cannon ball onto the two Changelings, knocking the wind out of them.
Then Silver got slime on her glasses and was head butted by the ex-fake Sweetie Belle who was tackled by Applebloom was who tackle by another changeling Silver Spoon blindly grabbed on the neck of with her back legs and pulled painfully on their wings with her mouth.
Cadence unleashed the Royal Canterlot Voice in the face of changeling bear-hugging her, leaving his ears fins ringing vulnerable to an Earth Pony-like headbutt, and made a go for Chrysalis who seemed content to just watch the fight. Cadence unleashed a spell bolt that hit the queen in the side, knocking her over, and Cadence tackled her, Chrysallis twisting about, preventing her from lancing the witch with her horn. The two tumbled across the floor.
A changeling produced a mud ball from somewhere and threw at Rarity's side getting past her floating jewels. The changeling startled as Rarity let out a battle cry instead of a shriek and found himself struck by several of her jewels at railgun-like speed, breaking his carapace, and very much experiencing pain. 'Think of washing later! Think of washing later!' Rarity thought.
"Pages of Harmony is the best story ever!" A changeling with a megaphone shouted at Pinkie Pie.
Instead of a scream of rage, Pinkie Pie giggled. "Wouldn't say the best, but it is pretty funny. I mean the idea of Twilight hurting us on purpose! Haha! While we're talking about fan works, here's some fanart of Discord and your queen I found!"
"What the-AHHH! My eyes!"
As the traumatized changeling tried to purge his mind of the unspeakable image he'd been presented with, a spring loaded boxing glove to the face took care of that.
"Hey, you guys started it."
"You're ones to talk!" Rainbow Dash knocking out a changeling from behind having arrived when Pinkie wasn't looking.
"Pinkie Pie! I'm here to rescue you!" Rainbow Dash said flying in close to the pink pony, and got a mini-sonic-rainboomed in the gut resulting in the changeling doubling over in pain.
"NO! I'M here to help her!" The real Rainbow Dash said after she zoomed in smiling at the mare.
"Yay Dashie! Duck!" Rainbow Dash did, hitting a another changeling who was struck by the party cannons, only to get up a minute later thanks to changeling shells being made for abuse. "Hmm...party cannons aren't very effective on Changelings...Maybe they'd be more effective if I filled them with more clop art."
That was when some changelings changed into Rainbow Dash and pushed Trixie's 'lightning ring' out of place, forcing her to dispel the ring or get zapped by her own spell.
"Oh no you don't!" Rainbow moved like lightning, using a wing-to-wing combat pegasus spell that actually let her cut through the slime they shot at her wings and knocked away the imitations. "You are NOT using my face, jerks!"
"Since when are cattle so smart?!" one Changeling asked in shock before Applebloom dropped the sand bags hanging above the stage on his head where the blurry eyed Silver Spoon lead him.
"Cause we ain't cattle! No offense tah Daisy Joe!"
Rainbow moved like a mad pinball around the auditorium, knocking away changelings that tried to strike at her teammate's blind spots.
As Cadence pinned the changeling queen, Chrysalis' eyes for a moment looked alarmed, then she smirked. "You want to dance with me, you poor imitation of a princess?" Chrysalis asked.
Chrysalis head butted her, and proved to be stronger than she looked, sending Cadence into the air with her throw. "Then let's dance." Chrysalis flew and tried to lance Cadence in the stomach with her horn, but the Princess of Harmony spun out of the way and kicked the queen who merely kicked back harder. "A princess can't match a queen!"
Spike was on Trixie's back, breathing 'burn things' type fire at Changelings who came at her from behind, as Trixie zapped changelings every which way with her lightning spells and barrier spells to block more changeling slime.
"This is pointless! We have to get out of here!" Trixie said as Spike used the 'teleport type' fire to send a wad of goo spat their way right back into it's spitter's wings. Then they hit the ground, a spell from Trixie left him in a pillar of ice.
Then the changeling shape changed and the pillar shatter which Trixie brought up a shield to protect herself from and back pedaled.
"Maybe using an ice spell on an enemy who can burst into flames wasn't such a good idea," Trixie said.
Instead of her wings being aimed at, Rainbow found her legs instead glued together by another shot of slime, she grunted and continued to use herself as a missle
A clever changeling filled one of the dropped sand bag with goo, and threw it at Applebloom and Silver Spoon, it missed, but the release of slime covered them completely in its contents.
The green ball of goop containing the two fillies floated towards the clever changeling. "Gotcha ya little imps! I'm gonna suck yer feelin's dry till you can't pick your own-"
The filly ball then slammed into the changeling's face, several times, and floated over to Rarity, who cut the hardened surface open, letting out the foals who gasped for breath.
"Thanks Miss Rarity."
"Darlings, please be careful!" Rarity said.
"Dashie, where's the rest of the back up?" Pinkie Pie whispered wrapping up a changeling trooper in ribbons and using him as a shield against the changeling slime barrage (she made sure to leave him a sugar cake as an 'thank you' gift afterward).
"They're covering Cadence!" RD hissed lowly.
Cadence threw a punch that Chrysalis grabbed and used the opening to double spin kick Cadence. The Queen grunted in annoyance as she noticed she had dislocated her own shoulder with that maneuver. "More out of shape than I thought," she said popping the disgustingly slimy joint back into place.
Cadence fired a spell beam that Chrysalis returned, the spells canceling each other out rather than forcing against each other.
An unnoticed pink filly filched the art of Discord and Chrysalis at her father's request, he wanted it framed.
'Can't I just stab one of them in the back? Problem solved.'
'Not until Chryssy is exterminated. You interact with a harmony pony directly in any way, everypony who can WILL sense you, including Queen 'Born Of Both Harmony And Chaos'. The simple fact is, these ponies have a very long track record of winning direct confrontations. And don't forget, little Silver Spoon is there. You remember how your last meeting with her went, don't you? Oh, and if Pinkie has any more art she wants to show off like that, be sure to grab it.'
"We're just being worn down!" Rarity said, as Applebloom served as her spotter, most of her jewels now covered in slime, and her mane and tail splattered, "Princess! Trixie's right! This is pointless! Rainbow Dash! Give us a Sonic Rainboom through a wall!"
"I might bring the whole place down on us!" Rainbow said fighting along side Pinkie Pie.
Chrysalis hissed, tapping Cadence's shoulder and sending shockwaves of pain through her body. "None of you are going anywhere! Even if you break out, we have guards surrounding the place!"
"Don't listen to her," whispered Trixie, Silver Spoon having been on her back, helping the pony who's bread and butter was goading her enemies into making a mistake do just that. "They know if we get out, they'll have to act as GUARDS not as CHANGELINGS, which means no shapeshifting, no slime, and no magic from them." she whispered to the others. "And if we hold out long enough, Twilight might come crashing through the roof with Princess Celestia."
"Alright, but we need to make sure we can last that long." Rarity said.
"...Pinkie, surprise us." Trixie said.
Pinkie looked thoughtful. "I've got an idea but I'd need ten minutes when I think we've only got three."
"Cut it down to five and I'll buy you the extra two," Rainbow said.
(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): Borrow five minutes yourself and repay it with the victory party later.)
'Good idea!' "Alright, engaging hard work montage mode!"
One montage and a large number of lightning bolts later, the group was protected by an indoor mini fortress armed with party cannons and pie launchers.
"...That'll buy some time." Rarity admitted.
"Man the cannons!" A clever changeling spat slime at the party cannon's mouth at the exact moment it was fired, the backwash blowing it up, and knocking Pinkie Pie back, with spinning eyes, twitching and wanting to take a little nap. "Gee, that was kinda crafty."
"Pinkie Pie!" RD said dismayed as she quickly launched the pie throwers herself.
Applebloom took some streamers and tied them together like rope and used them to fire the remaining party cannons all at once with the half blind Silver's help.
"You can't aim like that darling!"
"Don't have'ta! Called depression fire! At least this way we can catch our breath!" 'Bloom said.
"It's 'suppression fire' dear!"
Spike shouted, "Wait! Cadence is still fighting Chrysalis!" Cadence had crashed into the floor following the 'gift of pain' technique, and couldn't get airborne with Chrysalis zapping down at her from above.
Trixie looked out through a sniper hole and timed creating a mirror right in front of Cadence, reflecting a beam straight back at Chrysalis. Trixie got ready to project a shield if that got too much of Chrysalis' attention.
Cadence grabbed the mirror in her telekinesis and proceeded to use it as a shield.
"Squads A through D, don't bother the canned love! Focus on Cadence!" Chrysalis ordered, the changelings obeyed as they stopped trying to 'storm the castle' and began to swarm towards Cadence.
Trixie said, "At least we can provide her cover and-"
"Squads E through J form turtle and RAM through their defenses!"
"Uh-oh," Applebloom whispered, Silver huddling beside her and Spike.
Half the changelings in the room descended on Cadence like vultures as she took to the air. The other half did a turtle formation (the ones on the outside using themselves as shields), and RAMMED into the unconscious Pinkie Pie's fort. Shaking some of the quickly assembled battlement to pieces. A piece struck Silver Spoon in the shoulder, the filly cried out and Applebloom helped her stand.
"Oh no you don't!" Trixie fired a fireball at the changelings squad, several in fact, they held formation for a while, until their 'shields' began cooking in their own shells, holding onto their teammates in sheer duty.
"And this is what I think of you tricking me with a fake Sweetie Belle!" Rarity hissed, sending needles at the speed of crossbow bolts changelings, aiming at the tiny spots where their carapace came together, expanded by the heat, making them whimper in pain, reactively falling off as their joints were stabbed.
"What monsters put their nymphs into a battle? Oh right, you." said the ex-fake Sweetie Belle.
"Trixie, you set the place on fire," Rainbow said.
"Uh-oh! Give me a minute, cover me!" Trixie said, carefully creating a rain clouds to but out the burning fires but unable to do much else. "At least this gives us a chance to rest some. Somepony wake Pinkie, if this place breaks we'll have to move." Trixie began to feel dizzy from mana drain.
Cadence used the Royal Canterlot Voice at full strength, but it was making her feel disoriented, it hadn't done that before. She was feeling faded. She had to finish this now with the queen. Chrysalis was again just flying outside the swarm, letting her changelings do the fighting for her.
'If they feed off of love, and a song projecting true feelings of that strengths them...What about a magical song charged by heart BREAK?'
Cadence opened her mouth and sang.
"This day was going to be perfect
The kind of day of which I've dreamed about since I was small
My love's heart your queen has stole
My love and I were to be whole
She left no happiness for me at all..."
The changelings looked disoriented and had stopped their advanced. They looked ill, every changeling in the room did.
"This day is going to be perfect,
The kind of day of which I've dreamed about since I was small
All of Equestria we will control
Every stallion, mare, and foal
You who had nothing will have it all!"
Chrysalis had SUNG BACK. Singing of triumph of will, of victory, of one who fought with nothing against everything and had won, of the wolf after a successful hunt to end all hunts.
Cadence sang, BACK again,
"This'll be the day,
This is when I'll say,
This'll be the hour,
This is not about power,
This'll be the time,
And Chrysalis sang back MORE.
"This has been the day we've waited for!
When we have revolution!
We'll be ready for evolution!"
Cadence bucked off the wall behind her with Earth Pony strength and plowed through the moment of the swarm's confusion at the conflicting songs, and right at the distracted Chrysalis, she rammed the queen into a wall at full speed, breaking her carapace in several places and crushing her wings. The changelings looked in awe. The ponies just gazed at the sight with baited breath. Did they win?
"Congratulations," Chrysalis said, sounding rather disinterested, and not showing any pain at all. "You managed to beat her. I thought I could coach her through it, but picking a low class mook to infuse with my essence was a mistake, her reaction time couldn't keep up with me, and her body couldn't handle the stress of my moves or my magic. And her shell strength was absurdly below average for a changeling. Shape shifting couldn't change that. Like a pegasus with tiny wings. You know what? I'm done. This has dragged on for too long."
Chrysalis was engulfed in green flames, and became a normal changeling drone, who instantly began crying out in pain at her broken shell. "I surrender! Help me! The pain! Too much! Burning inside!"
"You'll live, don't bellyache so much Dustmite, you played your part wonderfully. You aren't going to die from that, so don't ruin such a good performance with an after show whining," Said...the glued back together crystal ball in the center of the theater's chandelier, had it been talking instead of 'Chrysalis'/Dustmite? "a good actress plays any role they're given with dignity."
"I-I-I I'm sorry Your Majesty, I-I did my best," Dustmite gasped out.
Cadence, despite her shock, gently pulled back from the broken Changeling, but didn't let them fall.
"WE'VE BEEN FIGHTING A FAKE CHRYSALIS?!" Rainbow heard herself exclaim.
Trixie gasped. Her blood ran cold and she fell to her knees at the realization of what that meant. 'B-But...but if the real Chrysalis isn't here then...Sweet Celestia, what have I done?!'
Cadence shouted to her friends, "Get out of here, fast as you can, as hard as you can, that is a royal command!"
"Oh no!" Spike whispered.
"Well, that's a waste of space," Pinkie Pie said waking up at once like jack-in-the-box. "And...I really miss having Pinkamena around right now."
"S-So mah sister, she's still with-" Applebloom shuttered.
"And so's Sweetie..." muttered Silver, pinning her ears.
Rarity felt sick to her stomach. "Then this has all been pointless?"
A little light was snuffed out in the ponies.
"Don't be foolish, it let me see your fighting styles and counter-measures to impart on my changelings without having to risk myself, too bad Dustmite couldn't test you more, Cadence. But I'm not letting you get out of there in one piece."
Pinkie Pie put her own face into a pillow and screamed.
Cadence felt dizzy again, empty, weak. She had spent too much. She flapped down, still magically holding Dustmite. She nuzzled the crippled changeling, she'd never fly again with those wings.
Cadence sighed. The Changeling wasn't the monster who'd stolen her love, she was just another poor pawn in Chrysalis' game. She let the helpless changeling down.
She looked at her hurt friends, then at the changelings, then she said to the swarm who were holding their breath at their surprise that they had been fighting alongside a body-double. "All of you pay attention." She nuzzled the changeling, her body sparkled and dissolved...the sparkles covered Dustmite's body, healing her impossible to naturally heal injuries. Dustmite looked at herself in shock and awe.
A clever changeling stuttered, "S-she sacrificed herself just for Dustmite-"
"THAT WAS AN AVATAR YOU TWIT!" Chrysalis roared! "The real Cadence was never here! I suppose the two of us DO think alike after all!"
"Is it alright Cadence?" Minuette asked as Cadence's real body came out of her trance. Silver Tongue as guard while Minuette magically monitored the princess.
"No, everything is the opposite of alright," Cadence said.
"If it wasn't you Your Highness, I'd have never let my daughter be there," Silver Tongue hissed angrily.
"You heard the princess!" Rainbow Dash said, "Everypony get ready to run for it! I'll smash us a path through the front doors if I have to!"
"Don't just stand there staring like idiots, you idiots! Cocoon and break them then get back here! I have surprise guests, my dear Sweetie, Shining, and Applejack are busy entertaining! So get on with it!!!"
"Remember what I said about bringing the house down Rarity?" Rainbow said lowly, "Looks like I'm going to have to do it. Trixie, shield our friends! Spike, shield Applebloom and Silver Spoon. Rarity, hold the place up while you can! Pinkie, grab as many as you can and split after I make a hole!"
"Daddy." Silver Spoon whimpered.
Applebloom looked right at the baby dragon next to her, she whispered, "Spike! Ah need a favor!"
To Be Continued . . .