"Twilight darling, before we set off, there is something I'd like to show you girls," Rarity said proudly as she pulled the drap from over a bundle she had brought up from the church's basement.
"Oh, oh my," Fluttershy whispered.
"Cool," Rainbow said.
"Well ain't this somethin'," AJ commented.
"This'll be fun!" Pinkie Pie cheered.
"Rarity when...when did you have a chance to do this?" Twilight whispered.
"While you were resting darling. I know I was supposed to be standing watch with the others and I was, there is nothing to say I can't multi-task dear." Twilight remembered Rarity's unparalleled ability to control multiple objects via telekinesis at once and didn't doubt her friend. "I sadly didn't have time to make one for everypony, but I did have time to finish one for most of us. Pinkie Pie, I'm sorry I only completed part of yours."
"It's okay Rarity, I'm gonna fight best without it. It'll only slow me down," Pinkie Pie said putting on the piece of barding resembling the saddle for a merry go round horse.
"Rarity, custom armor?" Twilight asked. Indeed, each of the suits of guard armor was engraved with their cutie mark, and now matched their color scheme as well. Each one had been totally remade as to barely resemble royal guard armor, and was missing the helmets. The one with Dash's symbol had zig-zag plating but still streamlined to prevent drag, while Fluttershy's overlapped and was shaped like like butterfly wings. Applejack's back and leg armor was etched to resembled cowpony leather while Rarity's was patterned like jewels, and Twilight's crisscrossed plating created a star map.
"I found the suits of guard armor in the basement, seems they were stored here and just forgotten about."
"Sounds about right," said Silver Axe. "Old design. There's always a surplus of armor, since new recruits come all the time. It's likely when this design was retired, the spares were stored down here just because it was open after putting some in the museum and other display places."
"Rarity? Why?" Twilight asked.
"Well first, this is our first time really going into full out battle knowing we are, so a little extra protection won't hurt. But...that's not the reason. We're not a bunch of faceless goons...we're heroes whether we see ourselves as such or not. And Equestria respects its heroes...is inspired by them. Our mini army needs to know who is fighting with them and all the inspiration and confidence they can get."
"These aren't as efficient as they could be," Silver Spoon said pragmatically. "That original armor design was chosen for a reason."
"No," Twilight said running a hoof over the armor and giving a thoughtful smile, "This is very, very very efficient. Rarity's right. We've fought all this time without armor, we've risked our lives without it. This is to inspire ponies, we have to astonish them, which I think these will do just fine."
Trixie nodded, giving a smirk. "Trixie likes it. After all, Superstallion doesn't wear that outfit because a nigh invulnerable flying brick needs protection."
"Rainbow, doesn't the 'S' represent hope on his home planet?" asked Scootaloo.
"That's right kiddo. Glad you know your comic books!" RD said.
Trixie then summoned her magician's outfit with a flash of her horn. "Think Trixie wearing this over some normal armor would suffice for a heroic outfit?"
"...A cape might not be a good idea in combat," Silver Axe pointed out.
"It is when your combat style is being a trickster," Trixie explained, proving her point by doing several spins and using the cape to hide her movements and the glow of her horn with a practiced grace. "I once was challenged by a pony who's special talent was watching the movements of your muscles and predicting your movements. I used the cape to stop him from seeing mine to outwit him. Besides, capes are heroic, aren't they?"
Rarity rubbed her chin. "Gold and blue is always a heroic color scheme, I think that would go fabulously."
-A minute of suiting up later-
"Dash! You look awesome!!"
"No need to state the obvious Scoots. I don't always wear clothes, but when I do, I dress in style."
"Yeah, heh, yeah ya do!" Scootaloo replied.
"Alright everypony!" Princess Cadence spread her wings. "We move out now! We rescue Shining Armor before Princess Luna arrives! Everypony remember their goals? Good. Let's end this, for everypony."
"Elements of Harmony, let's do this thing!" Rainbow Dash cheered.
Howdy-ho everypony! Guess who! It was time for the big big party! Everypony was invited! And so were the changelings whether they liked it or not, but they crashed Cadence's wedding, so it was fair game! Things sure got chaotic, I mean really really chaotic, we had all had our parts to play and knew what our goal was, but I don't any of us had a complete picture of what was going on, and that included the changelings. We just knew the Princess was due in a couple of hours, and we had that long to break into the castle and save the prince, okay he isn't a prince yet, but it sounds cooler that way! Hehe, I wonder what Twilight thinks about her brother being a prince!
Rarity was right, fighting is a really dirty business, and just cause we weren't fighting our friends this time didn't suddenly make it anymore pretty. So I'm gonna skip all the dirty stuff, 'cause really, you now know how stupid and silly fighting was if you saw when the cowponies and the buffalo fought. But yeah, we all had our jobs to do!
Let's see, where that's list Twilight made? Oh yeah I ate it cause it was top secret! Don't look at me that way, Twilight told me to, she said she trusted my stomach more than a incineration spell. Heh. What do I even need that for? I may not be as good at making such good outlines and log-jesters that I lose sight of the point as Twilight, but when it comes my friends and details about them, my mind is like a picture book! Except without the book. It's funny, how I don't read that many books, but I read and remember stuff about ponies really well!
How would Trixie put it? Hmmm. Ahem. 'Twilight knows the stage and the set, but Pinkie Pie knows the actors and the characters!' That sounds about right.
So yeah, we broke into a lot of little groups! Each of us had our own role to play in this big show! I wasn't there personally for a lot of it, my group's job actually was meant to involve the least fighting, which was fine by me.
Having met up with our allies, and assumed our positions, it was time for the curtain to rise on the biggest production Trixie has taken part of! I wanted us to start fast and loud with fireworks, our job was to get as much of the changelings' attention as possible wasn't it? And if there was one thing The One and Only Trixie was good at, it was getting somepony's attention.
Instead a little unseen birdie dropped a few magically charged lemon seeds, that then exploded into lemon trees that wrapped up some of the changeling guards, followed by the summoning spell of what if Trixie's life had not yet taken the strange turns that it had, I'd think I'd have gone delusional.
"Angry Great Mother Lemon! Charge!" Well. We certainly got the changelings' attention with a towering walking lemon attacking the front gates.
"Mother was right! I shouldn't have burned down Miss Bugs Life's house with flaming lemons!" One changeling lamented before he was pounded.
(Interviewer's Notes (Earth Pony): Hehe!)
What's so funny?
(Interviewer's Notes (Earth Pony): Oh! Just something a friend said once!)
Then myself and Twilight Sparkle began our assault, along with several Canterlot unicorns and Miss Tiara, along with Princess Cadence galloping with us.
-Star Blazers Instrumental-
When the unicorns had gotten the changelings' peepers on the ground, and with Rarity's scenery illusion giving us some extra surprise, I was, yeah me, was leading Soarin' and Fleetfoot, yeah, WONDERBOLTS, I was leading WONDERBOLTS, oh yeah (since I had the most fighting experience apparently), oh right, I did the motion with my wings as we flew in formation and ordered "Start attack!" And we flew down in a straight down towards the top of the castle towers. That sure gave the changelings some sudden panic.
A changeling fired slime right at my face, I did a 90 degree turn, then another 90 degree turn so I was flying down again, then two more 90 degree turns, leaving half a square shaped rainbow trail behind me in less than a second!
"You guys are like airships in a dog-fight, all armor and punch and just plain clumsy!" I told'em as I overcame that freaky changeling carapace with sheer force of speed and impact. I think even Fleetfoot was freaked at how fast I REALLY was, and just how quick I could turn myself, then again, the 'Bolts had been unconscious when I saved 'em. Fluttershy wasn't the fastest pegasus alive, but once she got it into her head that her friends were on the line, just watch her go! And with Fluttercruel's fighting skills, they were a big help (I think the Bolts got freaked at seeing her kick flank)!
They freaked out even more as they saw Princess Cadence flying with us.
With Moth acting as my body guard as far behind the battle line as I dared be: I played Princess Cadence's lyric-less song. I was her champion after all. The spell song was draining my mana, even if it was my special talent, but I was powering up and harmonizing our side, and helping Princess Cadence do her job. I was saving Bon Bon's magic candy, since using it too much might be not be a good idea. And the changelings were going crazy trying to figure out whether it was the Cadence in air or the Cadence on the ground was the fake and which one was 'playing the music'.
The answer of course, as most pony folk might have guessed, is that both Cadences' the changelings done saw weren't the real McCoy! The real princess was down here with us earth pony folk. With an couple of nice illusion spells from Trixie, Rarity (with some nice gossamer wings), and good old Moon Dancer, were sure doin' a bang up job of convincin' the changelings that one of 'em had to be real! Or one was real and the other had to be another of them fancy-smancy Avatars! Ah might not be a huge fan of deceit, but Ah admit in times like this it has its place.
When Ah asked 'er 'bout why she choose this way in, she told me.
"Queen Chrysalis won't in a thousand years, suspect me of traveling through those awful crystal mines ever again."
And Ah could tell her highness was shakin' like an apple leaf at going through this here place. Ah gotta admit though, if we weren't in a hurry, Ah'd think the place was beautiful. I think it mighta been that a part of meh felt this place was familiar, why was Ah thinkin' of ponies with jewels fer eyes? Twinkle Shine was there as our light source, our resident pink rock farmer was there to MAKE new passages if we had ta. Me and Silver Tongue were along to help PINKIE PIE makin' the way through in record time!
But Twili' and the others weren't just pullin' some fancy song and dance number, they were gonna be in here too if they could help it!
I shall confess dears, I never dreamed I'd be acting as a decoy to Princess Cadence herself, but a request from royalty a fine lady like myself simply could not turn down. Twilight said she choose Moon Dancer on the ground because besides Trixie and Twilight, she was the strongest unicorn we had. As for myself, I was informed that I was the most graceful and lady like pony in the air...Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash did not protest this. That and I was our only unicorn with any experience flying. I think the fear they were facing an Alicorn was the most effective of weapons we currently have.
I'm not a factory, but I'm going to be one anyway. Ponies downing my candy without tasting it, and wanting more. Mineutte 'patching up' our friends, and me 'recharging them.'
I don't have a right to complain, I chose this role, it's the place I can help the most at...Just as Lyra now has the role that'll let her help the most...she and Moth together...please...let's all go home to Tootsie Flute together!
Moth, I love you, I truly do, but you and your tribe are such silly ponies...the four of us are a family, and none of us are related by blood. Look at the Elements, they couldn't be more different, but they're a herd.
What happened to your people Moth? What happened to them that they couldn't even comprehend asking for help? They're not stupid, and they're not foolish, so what scarred their hearts so badly that it's carried down the line for so long?
Whatever it was Moth, you're proof it can be healed. I'm sorry we have to fight your swarm Moth, but...we're all ponies, let's all be friends when this is over. The three tribes hated each other's guts, if they could become Equestria, this fighting can stop too. Let's prove that they're wrong about us.
Lemon Hearts threw her by now famous lemons that exploded into the yellow clouds, engulfing the changelings, giving her creation cover.
The changelings emerged with nose plugs and goggles.
"I destroyed your last creation, fruit mage! I shall strike down this beast as well!" Hercules Beetle said, landing on the battle field from a window with a massive ground pound that knocked some of the nearby ponies and changelings off their feet.
"All you did was destroy her vessel! Everything returns from where it came, and her spiritual essence came from me! She's ready for round two! Are you?!" Lemon Hearts said patting the Great Angry Mother Lemon on the side.
Hercules smirked. "That's it, fight for your survival. That's what I want to see from you ponies," he said, reading himself.
Trixie fired off some more fireworks to sow some more confusion among the ranks and asked, "Trixie is confused, if you could reincarnate your lemons...why were you sad at her destruction before?"
"Because... experiencing the end, never gets pleasant."
"...And a good mother is always there for her child...that's something Trixie learned from her own recently."
"Here they come!" Scootaloo shouted.
"Hurry, we must protect Her Majesty."
"Yes, we must protect Her Majesty."
"Of course, we must protect Her Majesty."
"Indeed, we must protect Her Majesty."
"We must protect Her Majesty."
"Absolutely, we must protect Her Majesty."
"Meanwhile, we'll finish the rune."
"We'll totally finish the rune."
"The rune must be finished."
"Finishing the rune must be done!"
"Finishing the rune is the most important thing ever!"
"Finishing the rune is why I was born!!" Cheered a Canterlot blank flank filly.
The herd of glowing green eyed ponies all agreed as they marched, splitting into two groups. Not all of Chrysalis' changelings had formed the defensive ring awaiting Princess Luna's inevitable confrontation or to fortify the castle...the rest had decided to 'recruit' reinforcements. And they weren't stopping any time soon.
That smile, the same identical blissful identical smile they all had, Sweetie Belle realized those smiles felt familiar.
Traps ready! Applebloom signaled to Spike.
But even at the fillies' impressive industrial and improvised speed, the changelings were ready to steamroll any obstacle course the CMC the put together with their sheer number of happy zombified ponies.
Sweetie Belle, thanks to Chrysalis, now had a link to Spike, and had him send a simple message to their teammates.
Disable the changelings, leave the ponies to me.
P.S. Please be gentle.
She knew that the Changelings could be weakened by using their brainwashing without her song to keep them charged. She remembered what the changelings had been saying, that hearing her song, was like they wouldn't need to feed for a year, so it was a risk if that was even a good assumption, but the CMC had been legendary for taking risks.
There were dozens of zombified ponies, all of them docile and happy, all in a peaceful daydream, but there were eight changelings, assuming any of the herd weren't sleeper agents. Each one at a corner of the two halves of the herd.
'Okay, so one is gonna be used to finish the rune, and the other half is gonna be used as shields for the changelings. We gotta do this now!'
Scootaloo had figured out the more direct route they'd take, Applebloom had gotten their surprises ready, Sweetie Belle was to take care of the herds once the changelings were given a time-out, Spike was their link to the others, and Silver Spoon with the rest of the CMC were to be bait when they needed it!
Eight changelings with a whole bunch of innocent ponies at the same time...Sweetie Belle could appreciate that this wasn't a game. Sweetie Belle's only regret, was that Rarity refused to let her near Chryssy, scared Chryssy might brainwash her again. If anything, Sweetie wondered if she would have been able to heart-wash Chryssy.
Thankfully, being near the edges of the herd meant the Changelings were closer to the houses on the edges of the street, which made things a bit easier.
Filly eye in the sky time. I really wish I could be enjoying finally having wings that work but first we gotta help save Equestria.
First we threw some water balloons filled with lemonade to try and lure them into the buildings (which were mostly shut down businesses, but we were good at getting in places we weren't wanted), but besides trying to hit us with slime they stuck closer to the ponies and began watching the windows like hawks.
Okay, got them distracted from the ground, and the stink made'em more distracted. Applebloom pulled a rope, causing what had looked like just normal street trash covered in litter to spring up. I guess having to set baskets in just the right spot to catch apples you buck out of trees helps when timing things, because two of the bugs ended up getting planks tied with cement blocks hard between the legs.
Spike winced in sympathy as they curled up on the ground...just in time for Applebloom to pull the rope again and mercifully knock them out. Too bad it broke the blocks too. Sweetie looked sorry.
Two down six to go. The rest picked up their friends and put them on the backs of the ponies.
The Canterlot ponies didn't even stop, and the changelings began zapping any street trash that was in their way.
Too bad for them the next trap was a bowling ball (we were going to use paint cans but Moth said Changeling hide was too tough for that) swinging in from a balcony that caught one of them off guard and clocked him in the back of the head and knocked him out.
The one behind him used that green magic of theirs to plow through the bowling ball. And then he got clotheslined by a pipe on strings, knocking him on his back. That wasn't enough to keep him down, but we figured we'd get lucky if either of them to knock them out. When he got back up...
"Oh Rosedust, you have got to be kidding m-"
The piano wasn't actually what knocked him out, it was the anvil hidden inside it. Don't ask where the anvil came from, Pinkie Pie had provided it. I noticed a musician pony in the herd actually crying when they saw the piano get smashed. Great. Now I feel guilty!
That guy didn't get up, but the one we hit bowling ball did. DANGIT! How hard were those shells?! I remember the one that chased me got knocked out after a bucking in the head with four hooves after flying through a building. But we hadn't had time to set up a building to fall on them.
But he sure looked like he had a splitting headache (maybe a concussion?) and put his buddy on the back one of the ponies.
That's three down, five to go.
Now they were watching the ground, and the skyline, they weren't going to be caught off guard by either again, that was for sure, and I had to stay out of sight if I didn't want to be a feather slime sandwich!
"Excuse me Glow-Worm, Night-Crawler, I think Chryssy wanted you to find me?" Sweetie Belle was standing out from one of the alleyways. "Like very importantly?" She then began trotting backwards.
"Lady Sweet Belle!"
"Her Majesty demands your presence before the rune is complete!"
Two of them broke off to follow her against the wishes of the others.
"Get back here morons!"
I think the changelings knew it was a trap, they were zapping or gooing anything they thought could hide a trap and keeping an eye for falling pianos as Sweetie ran from them.
Not exactly how it was intended to go, but it'll do. I flew up ahead and landed waiting for them.
"Is everything ready?" Sweetie asked.
I nodded. "Yeah, just one more thing," I said hoofing Sweetie a cueball. "Put it on top of that pile of junk."
"Okay!" Sweetie said, putting it on the pile where she was told. "Oops!"
"Lady Sweet Bell, there you ar-" the Changeling was cut off as the rather crowded alley suddenly became a disaster zone, ending with the pair of Changelings buried under lots and lots of thrown out pieces of modern art while we hid under a trashcan.
"Yes! It worked!" I cheered.
"What?! You meant for that to happen?!"
"Not exactly that, but something like that."
"Why didn't you tell me?!"
"Pinkie said 'don't tell her or invoking the joke won't work'."
"I thought you wanted me to talk to them!"
"I never said that. Sorry." I may not have told her, but I didn't LIE to her. And seriously, I didn't think she thought she was supposed to talk to them! (I think.) "If I could have told you, I promise I would have..."
Yeah yeah, what Twilight did to me, we're past that already please? It was the only way it could work or otherwise I'd never have done it.
Sweetie actually stopped to nuzzle and apologize for me to the two changelings.
Five down, three to go.
Okay, now they were down to a trio, if it so much as moved they were giving it the zap and goo treatment, one poor house cat got both barrels. Good thing Fluttershy wasn't there.
We couldn't surprise 'em from above or below anymore, and we couldn't use Sweetie as bait again. And we were at the junction where the streets split off. Once it was down to just one of them we could rush'em. Good thing they didn't think much about the ponies to...Uh-oh.
Now they're using the herd as a shield by getting in the middle of it? Hey! That isn't fair! They aren't supposed to come up with stuff that's clever! They're the bad guys!
Okay, come on, we need something clever right back...
A letter popped up over Sweetie's head.
'Ah got an idea. Meet meh up ahead.' She wrote her accent?
"...Where did you get this much tree sap?" asked Silver Spoon, lookin' at the several buckets full of it.
"...When yer a Cutie Mark Crusader, yah tend tah get quite familiar with it..." Ah said.
Thank Celestia there were still trees around...
"What's the plan again?"
"Puttin' some of our old Crusadin' tah good use."
"...Which ones involved tree sap?"
"...Too many...Way too many..."
"What are Sweetie and the others doing?"
"Cutie Mark Crusader Janitors."
They just finished 'mopping' the path ahead of the herd. The Changelings just thought it was a wet path instead of wet and soapy and got tripped up somethin' fierce. Yeah, the herd got tripped up too, but the Changelin' got busy trying to keep 'em from fallin' over themselves.
"Cutie Mark Crusaders Tennis Players go!"
Sweetie and Scoots popped out with some tennis rackets we had Pinkie send us through Spike (well, from Cadence from Pinkie) and started swingin'...with rocks. The Changelings were forced tah take hits for the herd (though most of them were hittin' the guards anyway).
"...They just need tah imagine the Changelings are their match opponents…"
"So that's why you were suspended from the tennis court."
That got them right mad and two of them lost their wits and charged after Sweetie and Scoots, slipping and their slime spittin' sailin' off course.
"Spike! Now!" Ah called once they were away from the herd.
Green dragon fire went over our heads and above the two of 'em, then dumped a lot of soda on 'em.
Then we took out our helmets, and ducked and covered for the next part...
the pop rocks.
Rainbow Dash bucked a Changeling in the chest, leaving him open to 'Cadence' giving him a surprisingly solid right hook to the jaw.
Suddenly, their attention was drawn to a small mushroom cloud of soda fizz going high into the air.
"...The girls?" Rainbow asked.
"...Once more, I'm so glad they're on our side..." 'Cadence' said before back-hoofing a Changeling behind her.
'I know, quite impressive display of chaos. Oh such wasted potential in those three...'
"...I'm presently embedded in a wall..."
'...Oh...You should probably get out of that.'
"I think the soda glued me to it."
'...Ah...Just convince it that it's-"
"-already fizzled out, and nopony ever drank it and nopony ever will, and even then it would have just caused cavities and then they'd have had another soda."
'I was going to say 'empty calories,' but good work.'
Ah'm sure Princess Celestia won't mind all them broken windows from the big boom and the big smokin'-Mah tail! Mah tail! Ow ow ow ow! Ahh, fire's out, thanks Sweetie.
"How...why..." Silver muttered. "It...How can there be fire?!"
"Is it really all that stranger than a water elemental being summoned with a campfire?" Spike asked.
"The fire smells like cherry flavor," Sweetie Belle said.
Oh the changelin's? They're out cold, and smokin' like Granny Smith on poker night!
"There's one more to go!" Scootaloo said, and zoomed like a shot right at the last changeling. He brought up a pony with a music note cutie mark as a shield, Scootaloo just went AROUND her, and got slimed in the face. The changeling then tried to brain zap Scootaloo right on the spot. When it didn't work the changeling just got angrier and used MORE magic on her. Then Ah remembered what Twilight said before we set up for our part.
"Remember, there is no such thing as unlimited, endless, perfect immunity, with a spell that isn't your new natural state. A changeling MIGHT be able to brute force past this spell, or have a way AROUND it, so don't stick around grinning as they're trying to brainwash you! Better safe than sorry."
But that gave us time thankfully just to jump on top of the ponies who weren't givin' nothin' no mind and clobbered 'em!
"Alright!" I said buzzing my wings as my friends came at the big black bug from every angle at once while he was focused on trying to get past Twilight's mind-protect spell. Even if he got me, I knew my friends would help out! And...I trusted Twilight's magic would protect me.
By the time we had him tied up however ...
"The herd!" Applebloom shouted, the zombie ponies, with the changelings gone, had suddenly shifted gears and were running ragged towards the castle or the last part of the rune that needed making.
"Dang it! That's what the tree sap was supposed tah be fer!"
Both sets tripped a little wire ahead…in an alley in the fork in the the road connected between both streets...a bunch of green gunk came out. Covering he two herds.
They slipped, and fell, and struggle to get up, but only ended up getting more stuck.
I had to asked. "Sweetie, where did you get that much changeling slime?"
"Actually, part of it was molasses, the rest was changeling slime. I got the molasses from Pinkie Pie," Sweetie Belle explained.
"About about the slime?"
"I don't think...I...I can produce anymore..." Moth panted, looking green around the gills.
"I just need another barrel! Here, let me sing to you again.
Sweet Music, oh sweet music."
"You know I'm starting to get sick of that song."
"When did you have a chance to do that?"
"Do we have any soap left? We're gonna need to get them free after...well, I get them free."
"Ah think we still got some."
"Good, that's why I mixed it with molasses."
I trotted in front of the ponies, I had been there when Chryssy had enchanted some of them, I remember feeling so happy for them that they now had Chryssy to make all their choices for them. Ponies needed protection from themselves after all.
Now I felt sad. Remembering how hurt the others had been inside...I had to remember I was an exception, not the rule.
I remember what Chryssy taught me, and I reached within, and pulled forth my dark magic, my horn and eyes glowed. Chryssy told me I was special, that she, Princess Cadence and me had a special bond, promising to tell me what when the rune was done. Chryssy said that bond was why I could do the extra-special magic she taught me I practiced on ... on Applejack.
I looked each one in the eyes, and undid the changeling's magic on them with my own, giving them their mind's back in spite of me not being a loved one of any of them. Most thanked me, some remembered me as Chryssy's 'pet', but all of them were happy to be free, other shuddered from the loss of the serene 'peaceful purity' of it...like the serene peaceful purity I felt when Discord made me a dancing doll with Diamond Tiara...
"...There are not words to describe the humiliation I'm experiencing right now," the Changeling we'd tied up muttered. "Beaten by calfs!"
I walked up to him after freeing the ponies while the other were washing them off.
"...You remembered my name?"
"I remember all the names I was told," I said. Just because Chryssy...Chryssy taught me some things to be mean doesn't mean I can't use them for good...right?
(Interviewer's Notes (Unicorn): No, Sweetie, quite the opposite.)
He looked shocked for a moment. "...But...Her Majesty's spell..."
"It was broken awhile ago."
"...I still want to be Chryssy's friend, I don't want to see Changelings or ponies get hurt any more," I explained. "...I just want everypony to be friends...and so does Cadence...that's all we want."
He looked at me with wide eyes. "...You're lying...all ponies would want to do with the Changelings is wipe us out..."
"...I hate to say this but...the Changelings don't know ponies nearly as well as you think you do..."
"Really? And the little filly would know that how?"
"This little filly would have been your Princess if you'd won."
"We haven't lost yet!"
"Does that change the fact Chryssy was going to crown me Princess?"
"You were going to be uplifted into one of us!"
"But would that have made my mind different? From what Chryssy said, it doesn't have to and she didn't plan to so long as I was willing. So the filly you're talking to right now is just as smart as the one who would have been your Princess."
"Are you questioning Chryssy's decisions, Tick?" I didn't sound mean, I didn't sound like I disapproved. I just asked.
Tick opened his mouth...then shut it. Chryssy had said it, so he couldn't argue with it...not without prodding at least...I hoped.
"...You think ponies are just stupid cattle, right?"
"Yeah, that's what you are. Too pig-headed to realize what we're trying to do."
"Then how did a bunch of 'calves' just outsmart you?"
"You caught us off guard."
"Yes, on purpose. Just as we planned to do. We set up every one of those traps, we prepared every pitfall that took down eight Changelings."
"Well...you're a special cattle! That's why! Same reason Her Majesty wanted you uplifted!"
"So you think we won because I was smart?"
"I didn't come up with the traps on my own. It was a group effort."
"You're all special then."
"Really? So five 'cattle' were all special? What about how the others managed to outsmart you so many times during all this? Yes, Chryssy outsmarted them...but they outsmarted the Changelings too. If they were lucky, Digger Wasp and Kabuto wouldn't have vanished. The Changelings wouldn't be on the defensive right now. There's over twenty of us, Tick, not counting the army we built up...this whole thing is a group effort. Can that many ponies all be 'special cases?'"
"...It doesn't change that we're predators, you're prey, the griffins may have forgotten what they are but we haven't. It's our nature to ravage and harvest you, we're fighting for our survival, lions are not meant to lay down with the lamb."
"Really? Spike! Come over here please!"
"Yeah Sweetie Belle?"
"Spike, this is Tick, Tick, this is Spike."
And there was the most awkward greeting in the history of greetings.
"Spike...Chryssy went over some mistakes that some old deer Empire made. Why does Queen Tiamat not mind you being here with Twilight and us if she doesn't like her subjects being claimed by another kingdom? Or did you know?"
Spike actually smiled big a proud. I remembered when he mentioned Twilight had made him proud of his family. "Because I'm part of a long line of dragons that help keep Equestria safe! I'm the seventh! Queen Tiamat is proud of my family."
"So the Mother of All Dragons, the one who would have absolute, unarguable right to say what is and is not right for a dragon approves of you being here?"
"Yeah. Twilight looked it up, the Spikes are very revered dragons."
I looked to Tick. "So the Dragon's mother goddess doesn't mind one of her children being a guardian instead of a greedy monster. If I remember what Chryssy said, Tiamat's made treaties with us so Dragons need to act against their instinct to grab everything they want to have peace with Equestria...and yet the dragons seem perfectly fine with it if the Dragon Migration was any sign. Who would have more say on that matter than the one who created the dragons in the first place?"
"...That's dragons! Not changelings! If we lose to you! Then nature WANTS US to lose! Is it WRONG to be true to yourself?!"
"...No...it isn't...So I'm going to be true to myself."
I walked up and hugged him. "I want to be your friend and live in peace. I don't want to see ponies and Changelings fight any more...Tick, what's true to ponies is being forgiving. We would never destroy the Changelings...but that isn't nature. It's what we've decided to be. And we're happy that way. It's what ponies really are...and it has absolutely nothing to do with instinct...I choose to care about you because I want to."
He blinked. I remembered what Moth said...about being shown love when Bon Bon knew what she really was made her full. Made her feel content. I wanted to make Tick feel the same way.
"...I...I need time to think about this...I promised I'd obey and serve and protect Queen Chrysalis wherever she led us when I was given the choice to become a changeling guard, instead of being TOLD TO become one like my ancestors were..."
"So I'll give you a choice too...Tick...I promised pretty much the same thing...and I want to SAVE Chryssy." I ignored the others rolling their eyes. "...But some times saving someone means saving them from themselves."
"...like I said ...I'm...I'm going to really need time to think about this ..."
'Blast, how can that girl use everything Chryssy taught her in such a perverse manner!'
"Sweetie Belle..." The shadowless filly sighed. "It's meaningless."
"Alright." I patted him on the head. "I can't expect anything less..." I looked at the other, "Come on girls! We've still got work to do!"
"Cutie Mark Crusaders! Yay!"
"Your Majesty...the emergency labor force and reinforcements...they were intercepted...none got through...we can only assume they've been stripped of our geass. It will take hours to round up more. Hours we don't have Your Majesty before the Night Alicorn's army is in striking distance of Canterlot, the last base before her route to Ponyville just spotted her," said one of my guards, I didn't care which one. "...Our messenger was injured getting this information back to you."
My messengers had been flying mad to and from our front line outside my new front door...and the other hot spots between the Canterlot-pony-cattle who were causing trouble, and the bug-pony-cattle who followed me.
"My Queen. We should retreat from Canterlot. We've had to withdraw from some positions outside the barrier due to paranoid ponies, but our changelings still hold several Equestrian bases under our control, and our still have several of Equestrian guards as prisoners, or indisposed or abroad. AND we still have the Sun Princess as our prisoner! We may not be able to have the swift and clean victory we hoped for...but the war ISN'T lost! But I'm afraid this battle will be. We should withdraw, call for our reinforcements, we've rooted ourselves deep! We didn't remain hidden for decades and more by being easy to detect, otherwise the first injured changeling spy would have revealed us to the world! We are still undetectable by their spells, and can be as ghosts, monsters in every shadow...We will make them so terrified and paranoid that they'll rip themselves to shreds, and once they do, they'll BEG US to bring some sanity and reason back to their lives. But not if you are lost my Queen! And not if they regain their greatest weapons!"
"...I see." I sighed. "Very well. It seems I'm out of options Maua. No I didn't want to take this gamble either, I know you're worried, that's what makes you a good friend and always has. But I won't give up, I've worked too hard and for too long."
- "Sadness and Sorrow" - Naruto -
"But is it really worth it Kifuko?" Maua asked sitting at the base of the large old tree, wearing one of my theater costumes too big for her. "Do you really need to touch the sky so blue?"
"...It has to be." I said sitting in the branches, wearing my princess costume, it was too big for me, but mom insisted I'd grow into it.
I looking over the grassy plains, the animals, going about their lives as nations rose and fell and couldn't care less. "It's the only way I can be me. I am a beast, with a mind that can think. Beasts are to be cunning, not rational, but here I am. My soul is a sham."
Maua giggled. "Since when do you get all poetic? You have never cared whether or not you were sympathetic."
"I never claimed to be sympathetic, if I did, that was an impostor, have I ever said I was not a monster? I am as much a beast as the sun rises in the east."
"So much poetry for so long, now I know something is wrong. I suspect Sweetie Belle, placed something in you where before nothing did dwell."
"Maua, you were my light, but you are not always right. She was not my omega and alpha, it was purely nostalgia."
"Dead my body may be, but you still forever fail your talent to lie to me."
"That is what makes you greater than that orange pony, you don't need some magic necklace to see that my very existence is phony. If I were to parse, I'd say you knew my soul was a farce."
She climbed up the tree and leaned next to me. "All I wanted to be, was your friend, to the end."
"...then what did you gain? You were supposed to be there for me through all the pain!"
"...Kifuko, you brought that pain upon yourself. And you know it cannot be healed by power and wealth."
"You think I don't know that? Even as a brat? Everything I've done, even before the hive, all was to survive!"
"...I'm sorry Kifuko, I couldn't save you."
"You have nothing to atone, everything I've done I've done on my own. And just wait, I will prove stronger than fate."
"I've done all I could...Kifuko...I wish with all my heart that you understand."
"Your Majesty? Are you all right? My Queen should I get a doctor?"
"I said you're right. We are losing control of this fight. There's no need to scream and shout. Of options, we have run out."
I saw'em first. We have earth ponies coming up from below, unicorns knocking on their front gate, and us Pegasi (led by yours truly) making our own way through the roof. But then the changelings apparently decided to sneak out the back door now that the ponies they were bullying are fighting back. And like any unwanted house-guests, they were pocketing the silverware.
"THEY'RE MAKIN' A BREAK WITH THE ELEMENTS!" I shouted at the top of my lungs, I wanted the whole world to know it if I could! "Soarin', can you handle things here?"
"Alright! Flutters! Princess! With me!"
On the opposite side of Canterlot Castle's main gates, a pair of changelings were flying fast with a familiar little blue box. If the queen wanted to make sure we couldn't zap her to the moon, then well, the was all the more reason for us. Even if I wasn't looking forward to seeing her ugly face every night up there, at least I'd get to make faces AT her!...Or moon her. Whichever I feel like at the time.
The changelings saw us, panicked, and flew faster, but didn't drop the box. They flew as fast as those bugs wings of theirs could carry them, but we pegasi were faster, and 'Cadence' showed she was good with those wings of hers. I think I like them more now that I'm not being pushed aside for them.
Then the changelings dove in between a couple of buildings, and we continued right after them, that was when more changelings flew out of the windows on both sides. Okay, I should have expected a trap, sue me. And they were wearing sunglasses, I guess they were ready for AJ or Fluttershy this time.
Maybe I couldn't cut loose as much between buildings that might have ponies in them, but I could still shows these changelings I was a lot stronger than that ambush in the music house would make them think!
Fluttercruel just did the pragmatic thing and shattered a Changeling's sunglasses with good buck to the face before letting her mom Stare 'em.
I flew up to dodge a dive from some Changelings and kicked one in the back to knock them to the ground. I then hammer hoof another in the back right back on top of him. I dive down and do a diving axe kick to knock them out before they can get back to their hooves. Yeah yeah, hit 'em while their down, that's part of Taekwondo, they're moves meant to finish 'em before they can get back up. And with these guys, I need it.
One tries to come up behind me and I do back kick to the stomach. As she (I think) doubles over, I nail her roundhouse kick to finish her off.
I look over at 'Cadence' real quick. She brings one of the Changelings to their knees with a kick to the back off of it, then leaves him gasping on the ground with some bruised ribs with another roundhouse kick. I notice that her roundhouse uses the shin instead of the hoof like mine. Sometimes its easy to forget that the same move can differ between styles.
Fluttercruel is using every dirty move she can think of. Eye pokes, groin hits, anything she can find lying around...and even getting a Rodent Of Unusual Size she and her mom found in a trash can to help her. No, I don't think she's underhoofed for it. Sometimes that's exactly what you need to do. If this was a sparring match, I wouldn't cheat. In a real fight, honor goes out the window. Especially when you're self taught.
Gah! Dang it, forgot to watch my back. One of the Changelings snuck up behind me and hit me in the back, then gave me a kick to the gut. I block a follow up with a 'palm' block (minotaurs use their palm, ponies just use the bottom of our hooves) and thrust my hoof into his throat. As he gasps for breath and covers his throat with his hooves, I have to head-butt him three times to knock him out.
Ow...Yep, my head is bleeding. Yeah, make a note, their heads are too tough for head-butting to be practical even if they can be hurt by blunt force. And I thought our heads were as hard as they came.
The rest of the changelings backed off and begin spitting the wads of slime at us, but 'Cadence' assumed a yoga pose and CAUGHT the wads of slime with her telekinesis and threw them back the way they came. I've gotta admit, even compared to how powerful Twilight is, I've never seen a unicorn alive with as much control and precision and sheer multi-tasking as Rarity has.
With the changelings splattered by their own gunk I moved like a demented pinball. I once pulled off a 90 degree turn carrying four ponies while going at freakin' Sonic Rainboom speeds, smashing each one into a wall or the street to leave an impression when they spent a moment getting the slime off their faces was all I needed to clear the skies of changelings in ten seconds flat!
Okay! Got the box. Best check out that it really has the jewelry inside! Ooof! Rarity! I mean Princess! Okay, she's right, best make sure Chrysalis didn't hide a trap inside her trap, it's the sorta thing she'd do. Oops, opening the box at a distance in case it's something nasty, luck thing 'Princess' has a mirror on her just in case it's a cockatrice inside.
Little note inside, okay, now 'Cruel read it, with a mirror just in case the words are cursed, I get ready to fly us out in case it reads '5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Boom!' like in that in action play.
'Your Majesty, IOU a booby trap - Trapdoor Spider'
Okay, nothing nasty, it's the Elements, yeah, that's the Element of Loyalty alright, not some fake costume props, I know it sounds corny, but I'm going with my heart that it is! It's hard to feel wrong about something that's pretty much a part of you!
ALRIGHT! Now we know! Now let's go go go! Back to our friends! Yeah girls we're back! And we come bearing gifts! Can't give 'Princess' and AJ and Pinkie theirs just now, but will ASAP! The Elements of Magic, Loyalty, and Kindness are all back in business! And boy does that give some of our ponies a moral boost.
That was when Twilight got a scroll from Spike, the smile on her face and what she said next told me it was from our real princess.
"Well done Rainbow Dash! Now make us a door!" Twilight shouts.
"With pleasure!" I saluted, and mini-Rainboomed a hole right through the roof!
"Bolts! Cover us! We're going in!"
"Princess on the ground, please do the same! And Princess in the air, come with us!"
"Yes Twiley!" They said together.
-Boss B 2 - Star Fox 64 -
"I can not allow you to go any further," said Hercules Beetle. He spread his wings and was body slammed by Grand Angry Mother Lemon who he tossed several stories into the air, then a bruised and bloody lipped Screwball leapt on top of him, pulling on his wings. He cried out in pain and rolled on the ground, Screwball might have felt some bones break, she wasn't sure, she got right back up, but Hercules Beetle was already in the air flying right towards the airborne ponies. He was blasted by a just formed lightning clouds but was undaunted.
"Trixie, please hold the fort here."
"Sure, after all, you're the one the Queen wants to kill, makes total sense you be the one to go in and rescue your brother."
"We need the changeling army occupied, and you're better at keeping ponies occupied than me."
"Just don't do anything too heroic."
"No promises." Twilight teleported onto the roof. She caught Hercules in her telekinesis but all she did was slow him down. Then came Fluttershy's Stare. The changeling was still coming forward even as his whole body shook.
"What does it take to stop this guy?" Rainbow Dash asked.
"I'm very sorry," said the airborne Cadence, "But we do not have time to deal with you." Her horn glowed and telekinetically twisted one of his wings, making him fly wildly off course, go through a tower wall and out the opposite side before finally righting himself, having crossed his forelegs to shield against the impact.
"Come on!" Princess Cadence said as she came up from below at the changeling general, while the still ground bound Cadence fired off a series of magic shots.
Don't break Lyra, I have to keep up the harmony hymn. That's it Moth, just keep him busy. Bon Bon won't be happy if something happens to you on my watch. Okay, Twilight, Rarity, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash are all inside. We can do this. We're going to win! That's it Moon Dancer! Keep him off balance! Screwball?! I mean Golden Tiara, how'd she climb up that tower so fast?!
Ouch! Looked like that one hurt. Ick. Attacking somepony's wings? I know all fair in over and war but, I still think there might something as 'over the line', now he's on the ground. He doesn't look like he'll flying with those wings for while.
Alright. Joker has no idea the Cadence he's fighting isn't the Cadence he saw with the others and the other changelings got distracted from seeing their buddy go through a tower. Dangit...I think I'm getting tired...in goes the candy...okay...let's keep it up!
"Mr. Rich?!" Bon Bon asked.
"What are you doing here?"
"My wife said she'd be very upset if I told her not to help stop the monsters enslaving Canterlot, sadly, I'm not a martial artist or wizard or Guard. I wish I had time to tell Silver Axe that he's as great a guard as ever and a better father than I managed to be, but sadly we don't have time for reunions right now with all this chaos. So...want some help making magic candy?"
"My father believed in me knowing what hard work was."
"Ah. Well...welcome to my field kitchen. I could use the help! I'm also acting as Minuette's helper!"
"Not anymore, I'll be helping now, name's Tender Loving Care, you can call me TLC, I'm Golden Tiara's nurse, but I think I'm needed more here than with her right now...AGH! Mr. Fancy Pants! Your horn! Let me get some wrapping!" Said the black-belt mare.
Minuette rushed to him, "Here, hold it like this, I'll apply the healing-fixative."
"You're a good doctor."
"I'm no doctor, sorry."
"You sure know a lot about medicine though."
"You could say I had a master's degree in another life."