(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus): Dangit, Sorry I misplaced this one! Here ya go! Excuse me, got somewhere to be! Set notes to auto-record!)
After the battle, Thunderchild had one enemy left, his nerves.
Misfit had been given leave due to all they'd done, so there was nothing stopping him.
'Dang it! Why is it the one mare that I'm ACTUALLY in love with is the one my nerves are getting to me?!' he asked himself as a certain cream colored Pegasus stared from a good distance.
Why were the Hoofmaidens were absent when somepony actually needed a little push to ask somepony out? Thunderchild cursed his luck.
"Got cold hooves?"
Thunderchild blinked, turning to the source of the voice. "Gag? Garnet?"
Garnet gave a small smile. "If you don't try now, you don't know if you'll get another chance."
Gag chuckled. "Sarge, we met when I got a concussion slipping on water, if anypony believes in love at first sight it's us."
Garnet nodded. "And you don't have a two year world tour to get to know her first...you never know if you don't try."
Thunderchild took a deep breath and steeled himself. He approached the pegasus. "Uh...h-hey."
"Oh!" said Fluttershy with a small jump. "H-Hi...You're one of Shining's squad right?"
"Y-Yeah, I'm Thunderchild."
"Oh. My name is Fluttershy, it's nice to meet you."
"T-Thanks...But...uh...I've...I've really wanted to meet you for a long time."
Fluttershy blushed. "Um...r-really?"
"Y-yeah..." he said. 'Dang it! come on Thunderchild! Pull it together!' "I...Um...I think you're really cute...and..."
Fluttercruel saw where this was going. And sense she'd revealed herself more... "Look, before you go where we think you are," she said, taking over, her appearance manifesting.
'Mom, I'm not letting somepony ask you out just for a pretty face...if either of us is getting that, it'll be me.'
Haven't you heard of pushing things too fast young lady?!
"There's two ponies in this body. I'm Fluttercruel, I'm Discord's daughter born when he brainwashed my mom and if you REALLY want to go there, you'll need to accept us both."
Fluttercruel, my little filly, what we discussed about tact? Please?
Thunderchild blinked and paused in surprise. He gave it thought...then smiled. "To be honest...I'm fine with that, glad to meet you Fluttercruel."
Fluttercruel actually froze. "W-Wow...that is not the reaction I was expecting..."
"Everypony thinks I can't really love somepony because I'll admit it, I'm a sucker for a big wingspan...but just because I've done a lot of window shopping doesn't mean I can't love somepony for real," Thunderchild said, not trying to be a smug casanova and just say what he felt. "Being a bit of a Casanova doesn't mean I'm shallow...Besides, weirder stuff has happened to the Captain than you, Fluttercruel. I'm serious, he was almost made chosen one of a reclusive group of ponies in Maasailand once. If anything, I think you're kinda awesome."
Fluttercruel blushed. "Uh...thanks...You're alright."
"Thanks...S-So..." Thunderchild blushed as Fluttershy returned to the forefront. "So...Fluttershy, I...the more I know about you, the more I think this is right...you're a great pony and...w-would you...maybe like to go on a date while I'm here? J-just to see if this would work?"
Fluttershy blushed brightly and was stunned silent for a moment. "Mom...I don't have a problem with him."
"A-Alright...Mr. Thunderchild, we can try it."
"Yes!" Thunderchild exclaimed, feeling like he was on cloud nine. "S-So...when is it?"
Fluttershy blushed herself, and felt a bit faint. "W-Well...t-there is the w-wedding p-party a-after..."
"Sounds good to me..."
Flutteshy spoke, "Uh, by the way, did you hear of... Princess Gaia?"
"I'm a member of your faithful's mailing list!"
"I liked you BEFORE it was a religion."
I turned to see three ponies standing in front of me. Two adults, a pegasus mare and an old unicorn, and one little Earth Pony filly. "...N-Noon? D-Dusk? D-Dawn? Is that-" I'd seen when I was half erased by the wolf and Dusk under Chrysalis' control and recognized Dusk's voice but...
"In the flesh Shine," Noon said, smirking.
"We...wanted to see you in Equus," said Dusk. "We felt your special day deserved a special treat."
"And we're sorry we couldn't help you more," Dawn continued, looking up at me with those little puppydog eyes. And her baby Phoenix was ALSO giving me puppydog eyes.
"It's...no problem...I got it, you said you can't interfere too much or something like the Wolf will come after you...wait, do I need to mentally narrate stuff right now?"
"We set our notes to auto-record while we manifested physically," Dusk explained simply.
I gave a smile. "Thanks...Uh...do I want to know why all three of you remind me of Twiley?"
"No. You don't. And not in a 'it's a dark secret' way," Noon explained. "It's one of those 'your mind might break trying to comprehend' way. And considering what didn't break it before that should tell you something."
"Gotcha...I'm just going to assume it's some weird 'this is how my mind chooses to process you' things and leave it at that."
Dusk nodded. "That's a wise idea." I was glad to not know if I was right or wrong.
"So...you staying for the wedding?"
"We're not leaving yet."
"That's good, but I meant," I pointed to their bodies. "Are you staying like this?"
"Well...We didn't plan to...but..." Dusk started.
"Would it cause any problems?"
"Not really...this story has already had its climax," the old unicorn explained. "Sorry, we're...just not used to this kind of thing."
"I understand, but you said it yourself, you were a part of this story, so why not stay for the good part?"
"Shine's has a point," Noon replied, giving her sister a friendly elbow. "Come on, you're Happy Conclusions, why not enjoy one for a change?"
Dusk smiled. "...Alright...I suppose it won't hurt just this once."
"Glad, I'll add you to the guest list...so...uh, Happy Conclusions? Are you three like...goddesses or something?"
"You could call us spirits," Noon answered.
"Ah, I see. Well, no matter what you are, the more the merrier," I gave them a smile.
Dawn cheered, "Yay! Party! Can I eat cake?" Her Phoenix flew around her, chirping happily, making her even more adorable than what looked like an Earth Pony foal version of my little sister already did.
Dusk nodded, "Just try not to get too much sugar, okay? We don't want you literally running on the ceiling again."
Whao boy. "And for what its worth? I never doubted you would have saved me if you could."
All three smile and Dawn gives me one of her big hugs. Phoenix lands on my head and nuzzles me.
"You're right, Shiny, we'll never leave you hanging."
Applejack may have jumped the gun a little with my coronation. I was told Chrysalis' ward and regent back at the hive, Pitcher Plant, had to be informed about her queen's end and the transfer in the reigns of power.
And my coronation as part of changeling tradition had to be done with the surviving changeling 'Masters' (of branches of changeling society) still at the Hive present during the ceremony. I was also told I was to name Kabutomushi's successor. Hercules Beetle had demanded to be given the most severe punishment I could think of for his crimes because he felt he deserved it for failing his queen again.
I decided the proper punishment for him was to keep his job. I believe in third chances.
And...surprisingly. It turned out the Changeling general had a secret. I promised him I'd help him bring it to light in a way that protects the innocent...but let's just say he'd kept one particular slave particularly well cared for, and her son.
Kabuto?...That was the biggest challenge I faced in all this to be honest. The question of what to do to somecreature with a pitch black heart...
At Kabutos's trial, the only one to plead in his defense was his lab assistant from the Hive, a unconverted zebra, and yes, she testified in his defense after she had her geass removed. There's no accounting for taste.
I no intention of eating Kabuto's love to death.
The changeling swarm wanted him dead. And Chrysalis had ordered as much.
But what the Queen's said was law. I was going to turn the system upside down, which made me much like previous Queens. And I decreed there would no more executions under my rule.
However, I couldn't turn a blind eye to all the suffering Kabuto had called. I can feel bonds. Bonds are me.
Looking on that crowd...I heard every broken bond he'd caused...it was like hearing their blood calling out to be avenged.
And unlike some, Kabuto's heart was...dead to me...I could feel him but not like you feel warmth. He had no bond to ANYTHING but himself. He felt COLD. He wasn't a misunderstood pony, he was a true monster. And unfortunately, his transformation and insanity was not of the type that left him completely harmless. He regarded his lab assistant the way an artist would their life master-work painting or sculpture.
And while to him his fate was awful, that didn't mean ponies and Changelings took that as a fitting punishment.
Neither myself nor my subjects would allow him to escape justice.
So I took a page from Auntie Celestia's playbook. Punishment for the evil doesn't have to be death.
Well, uh, you know that punishment that Princess Celestia told me after I was Nightmare Whisper, that was reserved for murderers and killers of the defenseless and would have happened to me if my 'turn all Equestria into foals' plan had killed every unborn foal in Equestria?...Banished to the sun until I had been banished as many years as I had denied those ponies their years of life?
Given how long Kabuto lived...and how...how many he hurt...I don't know if my great-great-grandfoals' foals will see his release date.
His lab assistant requested she be petrified and put to sleep and wait for his release date...I think they took her to a monastery in Neighpon that takes care of ponies who chose to do that.
To top it all off I was informed of I was now the silent owner of the Hive's front companies, those had to be made into legitimate businesses or dissolved as warranted. Not to mention the equine -slaves- the hive had in Chrysalis' name, whose parents were born in the Hive and had never seen the sun.
I was tempted to simply let Pitcher Plant keep the power, but all the equines being kept as slaves in the Hive left no question that I was keeping the throne, Chrysalis had dismantled the swarm's cast system, I'd dismantle its slave system.
The good news was unlike many slavers, the changeling had allowed their goods to learn to read and write (waste not, want not).
Thankfully Chrysalis hadn't had 'puppet governments' so much as networks of plants and agents in various countries kept in place to cover up any accidental exposure of changeling gathers, I quietly and quickly dissolved those. Amazingly most were happy to live in the open and could now focus on their 'cover' jobs.
As for the drained victims who'd been 'spent' and left feelingless shells...I had the girls try something and found the Elements of Harmony could reverse it, or at least make recovering possible. They'd visit the hive later after the wedding to do it on a large scale. And... there was what Chrysalis had said, if Sweetie Belle ever became an Alicorn, she could restore them all completely with a flick of her magic. Auntie said it would be very dangerous to force her along that road, or out right tell her that's what she 'should' become.
"That way of thinking, once turned a faithful student of mine into a monster." Auntie would say no more.
And...while I'm not 'officially' queen, the Changelings still treat me with authority and so does my aunt...which means I've had a busy time making sure everything is settled before my wedding. I won't bore you with specifics, but it involved averting multiple international incidents, making several dozen peace treaties, altering and making several dozen laws, and assuring a lot of ponies their loved ones who have been kidnapped will be returned. I don't think I've ever called in more political favors or stretched my diplomatic muscle more in my life. Not bad for my first actions as a Queen.
Lyra and Bon-Bon's adopted foal, Tootsie Flute, was actually asking if she could become a 'bug pony.' Her guardians told her "No!" Moth suggested Tootsie could once she was a consenting adult, which shocked the pair.
It was...a gray area. the idea of ponies being transformed into other tribes had been taboo for centuries when before there had been racist fairy tales of unicorns who were turned into earth ponies as 'punishment' at the story's end and earth ponies turned into another tribe as a 'reward.' In modern times, the idea of being changed into another tribe was considered disrespectful to your native tribe. It was another piece of changeling culture and law that was going to be hard to reconcile with Equestria.
But I wasn't going to focus on that, I had the most important day of my life to think about. And my honeymoon after that.
Supermarine would arrive not long before the wedding. I couldn't wait to see my old foal-sitter, and neither could Spitfire wait to see her mother again. Spitfire was fine. The Changelings had practically forgotten her in all the chaos. We hugged. All my friends were here from my past at school to the present and I was happy as could be.
Though Auntie also took me aside...and told me the truth of about my new subjects.
I'd say I could scarcely believe it, but after the reveal of what Chrysalis was, everything else seemed tame.
I didn't tell her that one of my sisters had chosen to incarnated as one of Rosedust's daughters. But the rest she had to know.
The daughter of Queen Rosedust. The Hearts and Hooves Day Princess. Cursed by a prince who couldn't take no for an answer. The pain of loss of her artificial lover to a dragon twisting her body and her subjects'. Hearts and Hooves Day, the day of freely expressed love, meant to be a day of gift exchanges between her and her afflicted subjects and the other tribes.
Discord came, leaving nothing but madness and misery in his way, the princess' tribe fleeing as her mother's tribe was exterminated like insects.
"I thought they were extinct too," Auntie explained. This children race of the Flutterpony tribe. "In spite of everything, I'm still happy to see they survived after all."
"You say it's a curse that made them this way, does that mean they can be...cured?"
"It's not a curse to be what you're born as. But if they learn to see themselves as ponies again instead of a different species, perhaps they'll discard that armored shape...and let ponies into their hearts again."
Auntie Luna...she was Applejack's predecessor as Honesty for a reason. She asked my permission to tell the Changelings the same truth...and that they'd been at war with their patron's old friends...I allowed it...I'm merciful, I'm not a fool. I know the Changelings need to see the consequences of their actions. I had an exchange of letters with Mother Deer on the subject, considering she'd faced the same problem with the Hooviets.
"The Deer took years to fully embrace the truth I had to teach them, Cadence...but patience and mercy are only a part of what's needed. A mother must be stern as often as compassionate. A child will not learn if there are not consequences for the wrong they've done. I allowed the countries the Hooviets had hurt to demand restitution from Roedina. I did not white wash my children...if I had, they'd never learn."
So...as I said, the Changelings would face the consequences of their actions...but also receive mercy.
"What's this?" asked one of my new subjects as I put a very sizable pile of papers in front of him.
"Every police and eye-witness report from the ponies' side of things," I explained. "Every Changeling who took part in the invasion is to read it cover to cover. I said there would be consequences, my little changeling, and while mercy is given, I owe my Equestrian subjects closure as much as I owe my new subjects mercy."
But...I did do one thing I told Chrysalis I would do. The Changelings, so long as they allowed ponies to remember the Chrysalis they knew, could remember the Chrysalis they did. All her sins and all her virtues remembered.
As for Moth, Weaver, Carpenter, Bombardier, and those like them...as a Princess of Equestria, I commended them for their loyalty and the good they did. As Queen of the Changelings, I'm going to pardon them for betraying the Hive. Simple as that. None dared question the Queen.
Weaver and Diver's bonds with Goldar and Faline also endured despite the truth of matters. Love conquers all after all.
The Princess of the Night shall converse with thee. Did we seek stricter punishments on the Changelings? No. There were consequences, there should always be, we are pragmatic, but no longer coldhearted.
Instead, the Changelings, as our personal divine punishment as the Night, would be receiving copies of what nightmares they've caused in others that Cadence's burst of love did not prevent. They would see how their actions looked from the other side of things.
We inflicted nothing upon them we hath not inflicted upon ourself.
As an Equestrian Princess...our punishment was simple:
"You believed ponies would see you as monsters? They wouldn't have...now many do because of what you've done. Your punishment is not to be white washed or excused. For your actions to be seen as they are. Your punishment is from this moment on to bare the burden of your crimes and have to change our subjects' opinions of yourselves on your own...Believe us, once upon a time, a foolish Alicorn betrayed her sister and became a monster...now she bears that burden, and so shall you."
Our intent was nothing short of crushing the changeling racist mentality so low it would never raise its head again.
As for Miss Moth and other such Changelings, we made it clear we approved of their actions...and that Queen Rosedust would as well. We do not believe the innocent should be punished with the guilty.
As for Queen Chrysalis...there is no Queen Chrysalis to punish. Simple as that. The being in her body may have her soul but Chrysalis is for all intents and purposes dead.
As for the miracle of her rebirth? Being 'reset' so to speak is a normal punishment for Alicorns, so that is nothing new (the mercy I believe is that she remained in the mortal universe)...her missing Cutie Mark I believe has another explanation.
Concepts are pillars of creation, they can't simply die and go poof. Their power is their soul, only being devoured can part the two of them. But souls are two parts: a light and a shadow. And the light can exist without the shadow.
Chrysalis' Shadow consumed so much of her being, its destruction left only an innocent light to inherent her Godhood.
Chrysalis received as close to death as Concepts are permitted.
"Mrs. Sparkle," I asked Twilight's mother in my most refined lady-like voice. Yes yes, I know, this isn't my family, neither was the Tiaras, but...well, you'll see.
The injured mare looked up at me as her husband doted on her, as any good husband should. Thankfully she wasn't crippled for life, considering...
"Hello...Miss Rarity, I believe. I didn't expect to see you here."
"I just want to say...it was very brave of you to stand up to Chrysalis like that, even after Princess Celestia couldn't defeat her. Even if...it didn't work, I respect you for it," I explained, sincerely.
She looked downtrodden at that. "Thank you...but I couldn't do anything. I failed them."
"...No more than I failed my sister," I replied, giving her a serious look. "Or Applejack failed hers or The Princess failed all of us. We tried, Mrs. Sparkle. We wanted to protect our loved ones and tried as hard as we could. If we'd truly failed them, we'd have not tried at all."
"...I...I hadn't thought about it that way."
"And you managed to make her bleed. Not much, but it's much better than most ponies COULD have done period. That just shows how much your foals mean to you that it boosted your magic enough to wound the Changeling Queen at the height of her power."
She gave a small smile. "I...suppose that's right...Miss Rarity...No offense, but why are you doing this? You don't even know me..." she asked, looking grateful, but perplexed.
I lightly put a hoof on her shoulder, being careful of her broken legs. "Because you're my dear friend's family, that's close enough to family for me darling," I gave her a smile.
She returned it. "...Thank you, Rarity..."
"Anytime, Mrs. Sparkle."
"Please, call me Starlight."
I gave a chuckle. "Certainly, Starlight."
As I left to go attend to my duties (I DID have to replace the wonderful dress that DEVIL destroyed after all), I turned back to her. "Oh, and Starlight?"
"Your books do NOT stink, they're personal favorites of mine. I feel your skill at crafting loveable stallions is something more authors could use."
She looked stunned for a moment, then gave a smile that reminded me of when Celestia told Twilight she could live in Ponyville.
"...Thank you, I try my hardest, I have very good inspiration," She looked at her husband who blushed.
"...I'm working on another sequel, you know."
"I will most certainly be looking forwards to it!"
"I'll send you an autographed copy."
"I'll be honored, Starlight Sparkle."
"See dear? That's what I've been trying to tell you for the last several hours after I stopped beating myself up," her husband said.
The ironic part? After what happened...I was seriously considering canceling my next book when she came in. Hehe, I suppose fate works wonders sometimes.
Twilight Sparkle and Shining Armor at the same time felt a chill go up their spines.
I heard hoof-steps behind me again. I sighed. "Again?" Can't this groom get some quite alone time before his wedding? I should really lock that door. Oh right, Twiley would just teleport in and catch me at an embarrassing moment.
"Oh...uh...pardon?" a female voice asked. It was strangely familiar. Like something I'd heard in a dream...literally.
I turned to see a unicorn chambermaid. She didn't look much different than many of the others except her Cutie Mark was a maze. "Sorry, just this isn't the first or second time somepony's dropped by tonight."
"You're popular, huh?"
"Guess so. So what do you need?" I didn't know the chambermaids were doing their rounds again yet.
She frowned, looking down at her hooves. "I'm sorry."
I blinked. "For what?"
She looked like a kid whose parent was always cleaning up after them. "It seems you're always having to fix my mistakes, Shining. I'm so sorry."
"Huh? Do I know you?" I looked her over, but I couldn't put my hoof on why she felt so familiar.
"Yes, in a way..." She looked up at me with a hopeful look. "What are you going to do with Chrysalis?"
I blinked, feeling a bit of whiplash. I wondered if I should tell her, but I...it just felt like she should know for some reason. "...Cadence says she should be treated as the blank slate she is and maybe we can raise her right this time."
She gave a wide smile. "Good...maybe third time's the charm...Thank you, Shining."
Okay, now I'm confused. And considering my life, that's saying something. "For what?"
"For everything... As a zebra alicorn, you know she needs to be raised as a zebra, right?"
"Er, I haven't really thought about that, it was jarring enough she got turned into a Alicorn filly."
"Right, and as an Alicorn, she also needs to be raised to respect and understand her power, she didn't have that the first time."
"So...a catch twenty-two?"
"Well, she needs an Alicorn so she can be a proper goddess, and she needs a zebra to teach her how to be a zebra. There aren't many Alicorn tutors, and which zebra tribe? There's more than one you know. Her's is gone."
"There's all those freed zebra slaves."
"Who either only know the Hive or have a grudge against the changelings."
"So you need..."
"Need a zebra who's a cultural connoisseur and willing to become her teacher."
"Ask your sister, she might know somezebra. And you need to figure out how to introduce the zebra tribes to the news they now have their own goddess."
"No thanks for reminding me."
She then got a perky look that I know I've seen somewhere before. "By the way, about your writer's block on your novel?"
I blinked, not sure what to think at the moment. "Yes?"
She smiled wide and clapped her hooves. "It's gone now, so is your mom's. Consider it a wedding and apology gift."
I cocked my head in confusion. "Uh...thanks but...wait a second, how did-"
She put a hoof to my lips and shushed me. "...Please...don't let her become a monster again...I want at least one of them to be a dream instead of a nightmare...Good luck, Shining."
I blinked and suddenly she was gone. What?! Where did...Was she even here?
Wait a second...Ah! I can give the aliens bio engines like the deer use for all their technology and have their motivation be they can only find replacement supplies for them!...Wait...my writer's block and...Who the hay was that?...Do I want to know?
It's bad luck to see the bride before the wedding (dang that didn't turn out well...she wasn't in her wedding dress, so maybe my natural weirdness will cut me some slack), but Lyra found me a little while later, she told me, that Cadence had found a name now written on the filly Chrysalis' blanket that hadn't been there before...Kifuko.
Pinkie Pie grinned at the assembled Cat Tribe looking looking up at her.
"Now my loyal minions! With you at my command, we shall spread laughter to all four corners of Equestria! BWAHAHA!...Hmmm? Thank you for the card! 'Your time has not yet come, your instructions say to wait till you're older and much wiser, try to avoid running into an unhappy ending till then - love, Princess Possible-Later-You-But-Where's-The-Surprise-In-That Thalia.' Oh. Okay. So...wanna help me set up the 'We Saved Equestria AGAIN' party?"
"MEW!" 'You Absolutely Positively Completely Bet We Do!'
Hello, Minuette here, thank you for interviewing me again. What did I do after the invasion...well, my coltfriend finally managed to arrive.
"Minuette! Are you alright?!" Audience asked, galloping up to me. My normally composed, logical stallion was completely frantic with worry. Well, I did have blood on me from my patients.
I was going to zap him unconscious before he could reach me (he was on the other side of the world when I last heard of him), but I was so tired of paranoia, these changelings would target their new Queen's friend right? I hugged him and as soon as he was near.
"I'm fine, what about you? Are you okay?"
Audience nodded, nuzzling me cautiously, like I was made of glass. "Y-Yeah...sorry...I...I just was so worried about you."
"I was worried too, Audience...I thought I'd never see you again..." I replied, stepping back.
"So did I...t-that's why...while I was on my way back (long story)..." Audience blushed. That didn't happen often. "I...I got you something...I was going to spend most of my savings, but then my traveling partner had a better idea...and I had to fight a weird lizard...thing and save a village but it was worth it..."
He got down on his knees and floated out a...a...a...
"Minuette...I was worried I'd never see you again...I...I was terrified we'd never get the chance to do this...I've never been more afraid of anything in my life...and I didn't want to risk it again." He opened the little black ring case to reveal a unicorn style gold ring with a large diamond in it. A very large diamond. A part of me seemed to feel it was literally otherworldly. "Minuette...w-will you...will you marry me?"
I blinked in shock. "A-Audience..." I muttered, wide eyed...but...I'd been just as worried...worried we'd be like Sunset and Ranger and never be able to tie the knot...it was a big commitment...oh buck it! I didn't risk my existence to be able to get closer to the ones I love to back up when somepony wants to get this close to me!
"Yes, I will," I said, tears in my eyes as I hugged him tight and gave him a big kiss. He slid the ring onto my horn and we kissed again.
Oh...and...other than me now being engaged, something else did happen...
"Hello, Doctor, remember me?" I asked.
"Yes, I believe I have...you were the Hoofmaiden that got sick when I met up with your group in Zebrafrica, right?"
I chuckled. "Good, we're meeting in order, it would be so confusing otherwise."
He blinked. "How do you..."
I showed my Cutie Mark, identical to his. "Doctor...you are not alone."
He gasped. "You're...you're a Time Lord?" I don't think he knew what to think. When I deleted HIM, I know the Doctor must have felt the only other Time Lord he knew of disappear.
"...Not just any Time Lord."
His eyes went wide. "You used to be..."
"No...I replaced him...Just know...unlike him...I want to be your friend, Doctor...no pony should be alone."
If I'm immortal like I know I might be...that's a blessing in a way. It means Cadence will never have to be truly alone...so why should the Doctor?
"I...I see...what's your name again?"
"Ah...so...no new name yet?"
"Haven't really thought about it yet...I know Time Lords expect it...but I haven't really decided to yet."
"I understand...just know one thing, Minuette...when you take a name, you make a promise. And once you do, don't ever break it."
"I understand. Thanks, Doctor."
"Quite welcome...so, uh...engagement ring, huh? Who's the lucky stallion? You know my wedding is going to have been weird apparently."
The Changeling General, defeated by a hoofmaiden and a retired Guard, couldn't bare to look at his brother.
"You were right, okay?" said the younger brother sadly. "I...I was reckless, impulsive, I wanted to prove you wrong, and I failed because of it...I know why you hated me being General...because you were always better than me."
Goliath thought back to how Hercules had lead as the War Master of the Changeling Hive. While he'd always waxed poetics, he was never one to put his men through anything he himself wouldn't do...he'd always cared about them...that was why they were loyal to him. That's why Goliath had been so ticked at him smiling as their own men were attacked by the rebel ponies and they could do nothing to help them. It disgusted him. And Goliath's legendary temper had cost him, again.
"...Brother, look at me."
Goliath heard anger in his brother's voice. He turned pitifully towards his older brother. It wasn't the anger on his face that surprised him. It was the large patched up wound on Hercules' chest. Goliath had seen his older brother, wounded before, you didn't get to be the military leader of the entire swarm without earning it, but never this badly.
"I'm not better than you, but you're right, this is exactly why I was upset you were made leader," Hercules said with the authority that came naturally as the elder brother and the General of the entire military. "Now do you see what I was trying to get through your head before the fight?"
"...Yes...if the cat-ponies hadn't been merciful, then my men would have died...all because of me...I'm sorry brother."
"Your apology is admirable, but don't be so arrogant in your humility. Your decisions were not the only one affecting the battlefield. Your mistake was acting like a warrior instead of a leader your men needed."
"Brother...I never heard you speak like that before. You were always...I don't know, so quiet and serious. You never abused your cattle, but I didn't think."
"Yes...but I told you because I still think a leader can't afford to think less of his opponents for their species or their race...I admit, I'm ashamed of myself that I couldn't protect Her Majesty...You're right that I've been a failure...but I can't say I'm upset no Changelings or ponies are mourning their dead tonight."
Goliath looked down in shame. "...No thanks to me."
Hercules gave a sigh of his own. Remembering something said during his battles. "...Or me...I can be a stubborn mule sometimes..."
"...Though...I'm glad you're still alive, brother..."
"...Same here, brother."
For the first time in years, the two brothers hugged, each just happy the other was still breathing.
I looked at the Changeling who'd been my subordinate while I was Chrysalis' brainwashed minion, now he was in Cadence's service. He was still beat up from our fight with an ice pack on a certain area.
He looked up at me. "Mistress Twilight Sparkle."
He raised a hoof. "Don't apologize...we both knew we were just doing our duty...it was never personal."
I nodded slowly. "I understand...but...how are you doing?"
"Getting used to things...Queen Cadence had us all do a lot of thinking." He actually looked down at his hooves. "I...have a lot to think about."
"Well...then can I give you another thing to think about?"
"Other than us hunting my friends and me being brainwashed, I actually DID enjoy your company...so if you want an Equestrian friend, I want to be the first."
He was speechless I think. I don't think Changelings are USED to being shown genuine kindness in their true forms.
"I-I'll think about that."
"Alright. Cadence knows my address if you need it."
Now where did that orange pegasus guard go? I never caught his name.
Moondancer turned to look as a familiar purple unicorn rushed up, panting. "Amethyst Star?! Are you okay?"
The unicorn instead hugged her. "Are you? Lemon Hearts told me what happened."
"I'm fine...I had a rough go of it for awhile..."
"So I heard..." Sparkler lowered her head, pinning her ears. "I'm sorry...I...If me and my family hadn't...UGH!" she held her head. "No, if we'd been here they'd have buckin' been in the middle of all this! Ugh...I feel like my mind is being pulled in two separate directions!"
Moondancer hugged her friend. "I can understand that...I'm glad you weren't here, I didn't want another friend in danger."
"...But I could have freed you..."
"True, but the others saved me, that's all that mattered. I'm just glad to see you here, safe and sound."
"And the Doctor probably would have messed up the bad guy's plan like he always does, as much as I don't like that nutball..."
"Long story...it involves Dracozilla..." Sparkler snarked. It didn't help thanks to her rides in the TARDIS she remembered a timeline where Moondancer had been fine, but Lyra, Minuette, and Twinkle Shine had been made mind-controlled minions instead and had to be saved from the Crystal Mines and freed from the geass after the Changelings were evicted, but didn't know why. What had altered it? "That's not here or there. Other than...you know, being brainwashed, how have things been going?"
"Good, I'm friends with Twilight now! Finally broke her shell!"
"That's... almost as shocking as the invasion thing... Okay, more shocking."
"And me and Spike are 'just friends' now for REAL...that's a longer story..."
"Got nothing but time...literally, hanging out with you and the others is all I honestly planned to do here."
"Maybe I can squeeze your family a few seats at the back row of the wedding of the century. Care to attend?"
"If you're there, that's fine by me."
I didn't jump as most ponies did when my little sister popped out of nowhere right besides me in my room at the castle.
"Aww! You ruined the reveal, Inkie!"
(Interviewer's Notes (Pegasus Prerecording): Pinkie! Just because we set the notes to autopilot doesn't mean you can just borrow them!)
I've have stopped questioning my sister's oddness. "Pinkie, please don't call me Inkie, I changed my name when I got my Cutie Mark. It's Octavia Melody now." My parents were planning to name me Marble after I got my cutie mark, they were surprised when it was one for music.
"Better than 'Tavi' I suppose."
I decided to stop the formalities and give my sister a hug. What? You thought I was ashamed of my roots? That I loved my oddball sister less? No. Quite the opposite. Changing my name had to do with my cutie mark, not my family.
Like most of us, Pinkie decided to break the mold instead of being a rock farmer as our parents wanted. We both got along best with Granny Pie (though me mainly for her love of songs). Pinkie and I got along the best out of us Pie siblings. Me and our third sister didn't get along because...maybe she broke the mold a tad too far. Then again she was always kind of used to her plans always working out, maybe, she was a paradox sometimes...Oh we still love each other, all three of us...just Pinkie and I are closer.
A fourth sister? No I don't-Ugh, why does that make my head hurt?
Point is that I was as proud of Pinkie as anypony when she saved the world...now for the fourth time. And yes, I would very much like to get them together and write one of my songs about them. Surely the Elements of Harmony would have a rhythm of their own.
"Hey, Tavi! You didn't tell me you knew Pinkie Pie! How'd a city girl like you know a country filly like her?" Vinyl asked. Of course we'd been together.
"Pinkie Pie is my younger sister."
Vinyl blinked. "Uh."
She looked back and forth between the two of us, trying to see the resemblance. "Yah sure?"
We sighed. "Pinkie, do you mind?"
"Nope! Not anymore!" Pinkie, in that cartoony way she had, caused her mane and tail go straight. I simply undid mine and let it go straight as it did when I was younger. We stood next to each other and looked to Vinyl with bland looks on our faces like we had before Pinkie taught the family to smile again.
"Oh! Now I see it!...Then why is she-"
"Pinkie's coloring comes from our grandmother, Vinyl. I have not been replaced by a Changeling. I had to save YOU from the Changelings, remember?"
"Oh yeah...Sorry, just with how that witch messed with your head..."
Pinkie gasped. "Octy!...Chrysalis got you too?"
I sighed. I'd been hoping Pinkie wouldn't need to know. "Yes...again a psychopath wanted to make me their songbird," I muttered, looking down. "And this time they succeeded."
Pinkie, being herself, gave me the biggest hug she could. And no, I didn't hesitate to hug her back. Pinkie, for what time she was on the farm, had always tried to be the heart of that rather barren place. I was used to her trying to cheer me up.
"Octy, you don't need to feel bad about that."
"Discord liked my music, now Chrysalis liked my music, if Tirek appeared before us, I wonder if he'd like it too and send his stratadons to kidnap me so he could put me in a cage as his little songbird. Is my music something only snoba and monsters enjoy?"
"Octy now you're the one being silly!"
"As I recall you didn't care much for my music the last two times you heard me play, both at the Gala and the Garden Party. In fact you interrupted my Gala performance."
She whimpered. "I'm sorry...I thought I said I was sorry...and then sent an apology letter for that after my split personalities merged back together and realized how nasty that was."
No, that had not confused or shocked me as much as it would the average pony...I'd suspected it to be honest.
Vinyl on the other hoof, "Split personalities?...'Tavi you ever considered selling your life story? I bet it'd make a killing as a soap opera!"
I ignored her. "You did, Pinkie...and admittedly, the Pony Poka was a fun break from the tedium of the Gala, till you got too comfy with my cello...but you still didn't seem to care much for my music otherwise."
"Octy...I'm not going to lie...at the Gala, I...wasn't quite sane at the time...I'm better now but..."
"I know, Pinkie...and the Garden Party?"
Pinkie looked down. "T-That was me...I...I was so busy being with my friends I forgot to hang out with my sister...I do love your music, just..."
"Just what Pinkamena?"
"Hey! Hey! You said you're sisters right? Don't go putting each other down! The good guys won and everypony lived, right? So what's with the sour feelings? I found out some of the ponies who listen to my remixes are bug ponies but that doesn't make my music lousy!...In fact, one of them was kinda cool, gave 'em the nickname Wubsy...But come on Tavi, since when do you think bad about your music? You're making something out of nothing. If your music is radical that even super-jerks like it, then you gotta do something right. Princess Celestia must love your music too, or she wouldn't keep hiring you for Canterlot's big social meets right?"
"...My my, Vinyl, I didn't think you were capable of being the voice of reason..." I remarked in genuine surprise. Vinyl and reason tended to be...well...
"I just don't like seeing you down, okay? Princess Cadence rehired both of us on the spot! I haven't seen you this down since we got stranded on that desert island for half a day!"
"Well, everything was trying to eat me."
"Not the point."
"Because you're just that sweet," Pinkie said.
I chuckled at Pinkie's remark. "You're right."
"And Octy, Discord said Laughter was his favorite Element and according to some... strange ponies is in love with me."
I shuddered at the thought. If that monster's black hearts are capable of love, then I'd hate to see it be my sister.
"Father, why did you have me collect all those pictures of Pinkie?"
'I want to make one of those cute little stalker shrines you see on TV.'
"She hates you and love is pointless."
'I never said I love her...I have a creepy, morally reprehensible fascination with a mare several hundred billion years younger than me. And I have a crush on her and think she'd make a wonderful wife and perfect mother!'
"But this isn't about me Octy', it's about you. My point is, just because Discord loves Laughter, doesn't mean Laughter is bad. His mean bully kind of laughter is, but was me making you laugh right now a bad thing?"
"No...I needed that laugh."
"So maybe laughter is just so much fun even a big dumb meanie like Discord likes it...and maybe your music is so good big dumb meanies like him and nasty witches like Chrysalis like it?"
"That's what I said!" Vinyl said.
"I know, I was just giving another example to boost yours."
Did Pinkie just use logic? I smiled at the sight of it being Vinyl for once who was flustered. Heh.
"Ha! I got a laugh out of you!"
"Yes Pinkie Pie, you did. And thank you. I didn't let what Discord did to me bring me down, and I won't let this bring me down either...But...there is one more...small thing."
"What is it, Octy?"
"What that witch did to me...it wasn't brainwashing...the doctors said she tampered with my brain chemistry...she made me almost...really like her..." I shuddered. "I felt better after it wore off...but...I still feel...violated... she messed with my feelings...And...at least Discord understood the special quality of my music...he could hear it the way I did...with Chrysalis...ugh! I feel like some jock just strung me along for a month as his trophy fillyfriend!"
I whimpered, feeling tears go down my face. "I know it was as fake as fools gold, I know she manipulated my body to make me feel that way...but I can't help how it made me feel..."
"Oh no you don't!" Pinkie Pie said frowning, "We are NOT starting down that road again! You listen to your little sister! Queen Meanie is gone, poof, bye-bye! Ding dong the witch is dead! She's never gonna hurt you again!" She hugged me from the front.
"And you listen to your best friend too!" Vinyl hugged me from behind. "I care about you! It sure looks like your family cares about you! And I moonsent know that all your bandmates care about you! And you can bet the hay that those feelings are real!"
I felt so warm with them. I smiled and returned their hugs...as best I could anyway considering I was in a hug sandwich.
And it was sadly interrupted by a knock at the door...or so I thought. Pinkie and I just stared wide eyed at the mare at the door. And Pinkie's jaw went to the floor. I mean that literally.
"My sisters." Our third sister trotted up to us and, for the first time in I-don't-remember-how-long, took her glasses off...and the contacts underneath, to let us see the orange eyes of our sister. "Thank Princess Celestia you are unharmed! With ze invasion und you being in Canterlot, I was...so worried."
No putting her own name in every sentence, no servants literally carrying her around...Just our sister looking at us with blood-shot eyes.
Family can be easy to forget in peaceful times. But I suppose when they're in harms way, you'll always remember them.
"Okay! I have gotta write this down!" Vinyl began scratching with a note pad.
"It's okay! I just change the names and nopony needs to know!"
"If you could actually write a book."
"I can write."
"Yes, you write some very lively melodies, but I mean novel."
"Oh! Right! I'll just sell the rights!"
"You do, and I'll sue your cutie mark off!" My OTHER sister said.
"I was just joking!" Vinyl exasperated, "Come on 'Tavi, do you really think I'm that selfish?"
"No. But you are that impulsive."
"...Point taken...But seriously, I did not see this coming."
Pinkie nodded. "Yeah, we get that a lot."
"Yes...though I suppose ze lengths I go to hide my roots are partly responsible...It's just..."
"It's fine," I said, hugging our sister, not caring what anypony thought. At all. "I know how harsh high society can be and you need to stand out...what matters, Photo, is that you worried about us and came to see if we were okay."
Pinkie hugged her as well, as Pinkie would.
And the brash, egotistical photographer dissolved, and our sister hugged us.
"I...I suppose when your family is in danger...Being with them. It is all that matters...I love you, sisters."
"I love you too, Photo."
Vinyl looked at us again. "...Okay, so my classical music loving best friend is sisters with the a country girl party pony who saved the world...four times, and sisters with one of the toughest photographers in the business...and all three of you have different accents...this is surreal."
We blinked, looking at each other. Then laughed. I hadn't heard my sister laugh in so long.
"You should have heard our parents' accents!" Pinkie Pie laughed.
Photo gave a groan. "Yes, she is right...though come to think about it, Granny Pie, she had a different accent too."
"Our family is weird...which explains a lot when you think about it," Pinkie remarked.
I looked around at my family. It made me feel warm and smile just looking at them.
"So, feelin' better?" Vinyl asked smirking.
"I...yes I do. Thank you...I...I..." I looked at my cello. "I...I know only one way to actually express how I feel."
I picked up my cello and attuned my ear to the rhythm around me...the sound of movement, of our hearts beating. Of our breathing. And I began to play. A song that was us.
Pinkie didn't hide that she enjoyed my music this time...and Photo smiled. Vinyl...danced...and then Pinkie danced with her. I was with the ponies I cared about. That was the most important thing. This wasn't the fake emotions that the witch had pumped into me...this was real...I loved them both.
Of course Pinkie would sing.
"Three little ponies, splitting up at the start,
But here we are, still together at heart.
We go on and beyond.
But we still have our bond.
Hear you hear us now?
We can say it soft or loud!
Can you see us now?
Watch us dance and take our bow!
We cross the divide,
and here we are back at each other's side!"
I smiled to them as the song was over and I shared a hug first with my sisters, then with Vinyl.
"This moment," Photo Finish said, giving a smile and for once letting her mane down to how it was when we were fillies, and...admittedly with some reluctance, taking off her dress. She's still herself. "It must be captured! Anything else, it would be improper! It is time to make...the magics!...Now if only I had my camera."
"Here you go!" Pinkie produced Photo's camera and tripod out of nowhere and hoofed it to her. Vinyl blinked in confusion.
"She's Pinkie Pie, it is what she does," me and Photo answered at the exact same time. The three of us just laughed. This was fun.
Photo did her thing and set up her camera , running a cable to her hoof. Photo arranged us in a way that just felt...natural. That captured the beauty of the moment as only she could. She might be used to having things her way...but sometimes, it isn't bad to let her do it.
My ear for the harmonies of existence, Pinkie's Pinkie Sense, and Photo's eye for things. I think all three of us Pie sisters had a unique way we saw the world that nopony else could.
Photo joined us and took her own pose, pulling the cable and taking the picture.
"I shall develop ze photos und send you each a copy," Photo explained. "...It has been so long since I have done ze personal photos...it feels good," she said, giving us a smile. It felt so good to just spend time with our family.
"I haven't seen you since you made Fluttershy a star...and then you didn't even visit. Don't be a stranger, sis!" Pinkie said, giving our sister a big hug.
"...I won't be, Pinkie...I missed you too."
Vinyl chuckled. "So, everything nice now?" she asked.
I nodded, "Now Frederick just needs to find a replacement for that priceless antique piano those brave little fillies destroyed."
Pinkie Pie had this strange guilty smile on her face.
"Money talks, and so do I. And the right ponies listen to both," Photo said.
"Good! Cause the reception is in...whao!" Vinyl's eyes widened.
Pinkie Pie grabbed Vinyl and looked at the time too. "LOVE YOU!" She kissed me on the cheek. "LOVE YOU!" Kissed our sister. "Now we're friends!" She hugged Vinyl, knocking her glasses off. And out she went out like a shot! Looked like she had preparation to make too.
"So 'Tavi, if you're looking for some nice guys, I know some stallions I could introduce-"
"Not right now Vinyl."
"But you gotta admit one thing?"
"I was right about the invaders!"
"They weren't aliens."
"And Vinyl?" I asked after she'd found 'her' glasses.
"Those glasses, they are mine," Photo stated crossly, holding Vinyl's out.
After exchanging their glasses back, Vinyl said, "Thanks, I don't mind my pretty reds or my shades, but seriously green eyes weren't my color."
"She got brainwashed from the changelings."
My sister looked to me. "Your friend, how did you save her from Changelings?"
"Oh...It's a funny story..."
"Come on Tavi', get with the beat! Ponykind, will no longer have to think!" Vinyl grinned.
"Yes Vinyl, I am aware of how difficult that can be for you, but it's not a burden for all of us."
"Don't knock being brainwashed till ya try it! That's what ya said about forcing me to listen to classical right?"
"Can I give you a hug first?"
"Turns out I didn't need the vase I had behind my back after all."
"Twiley?" I slowly stepped into my little sister's room.
"BBBFF, don't you have a wedding to get suited up for?"
"Yes but first, I just want to say I'm sorry."
"If this is about that fight to the death-"
"No! It isn't! Something awful could have happened but it didn't. That witch used me like a weapon, she made me want to kill you. And . . . I HATE that, that's why I asked you to kill me. But trust me when I say it just means I now know how some friends felt when something similar happened to them. Twiley, I'm sorry for what happened at the rehearsal, it wasn't the witch's magic, that was my own stupidity."
Twiley's became stern. "It wasn't stupidity. You did exactly what a husband should do, you defended your wife and presented rational reasons to her defense. I was the one too emotionally charge to back up my accusations without more solid proof, and that cost all of us."
"But she was guilty, and she wasn't Cadence!"
"But neither of us knew that. You wouldn't have been a good husband if you didn't exhaust every possibility that Cadence was innocent, and you wouldn't be a good BBBFF if you didn't reign me in when I was going out of control. Shining, it's the prosecution's job to prove rationally that the accused is guilty, and I failed in that. It just goes to show, when the prosecution doesn't do their job right, become more interested in the guilty verdict than the truth, they paint themselves as the villain, and it causes exactly what happened: the guilty going free - dang this soap box."
"Twiley, I still HURT YOU, and I can't stand that."
"And from all appearances -I- hurt Cadence! You were RIGHT to be angry! What if it had been all circumstance and wedding stress? Would you STILL be apologizing to me?"
"But it wasn't!"
"Shining, my recklessness that led to that fight to the death was what led to Scootaloo saving Sweetie Belle. But that didn't make me lying and trapping a filly in a monster filled castle RIGHT! What if I had been captured or killed? Scootaloo would have been trapped there, I had no way to know she'd escape. The good that came of my wrong did not turn my wrong 'good'! And YOU being a loving husband-to-be, when I was NOT ACTING LIKE YOUR LOVING SISTER AT ALL, is not wrong because Chrysalis abused that goodness. I forgive you Shining. If you acted any different, you wouldn't have been the stallion Cadence loved. Like I know you'd have done if Cadence had hurt me instead. Now hurry up and get ready so you can spend the rest of your lives loving each other!"
Twilight practically began pushing me out.
"Okay okay! And Twiley...love you little sister."
"Love you too big brother. See you at the wedding!"
Princess Celestia? I already talked about her Momjesty. Yes I did talk with her just before the ceremony...I'd...I'd rather not repeat that conversation word for word.
Feeling bad when you do something wrong? Admitting you did something wrong and wanting to make it better. It's part of what makes us ponies and it's part of what keeps us from being monsters.
But...it's like guilt and regret are becoming like monsters all their own, this feeling of never being good enough, of not trying hard enough, of failure, that it's all...pointless has been looming larger and larger. Like regret had become some invisible pony hiding in our shadows telling us we might as well not try or submit to the intelligence and will of somepony smarter and wiser than us and just accept our tiny worthless place in things.
But I didn't realize it until I spoke with Princess Celestia. And I realized that while she couldn't feel regret, she was coming frightening close, it was, unnatural looking, like the sun giving off freezing cold and the moon sucking up light instead of reflecting it.
Please, don't make me repeat what she said, it was horrible enough hear her say it about herself.
She told me...unlike Nightmare Moon, Discord, and Nightmare Whisper, Queen Chrysalis had been right in front of her. This wasn't something she wasn't there for, or something she knew there were other ponies who could do the job better than her, or one of her elaborate plans. Chrysalis had completely blind sided her. My teacher had fought her, had truly fought her. And still lost. Ponies had their true faith in her, and when her chance finally came to repay that faith...Chrysalis made a mockery of it.
Fine! She said, "I could have used MORE POWER, Twilight, I could have, but if I did, I would had destroyed that building and everypony in it...But I could also have hit her 'corpse' with a sealing spell to make sure there was no spell in place to take us with her or gambit to revive her if she died...which would have neutralized her spell before it could have beaten me. I haven't lost hope, this is different...it's faith in myself I feel slipping. I have hope you and your friends can protect Equestria, that Cadence can...but I'm beginning to lose faith that I can...
"You saved my sister and Fluttershy where I couldn't, you defeated Discord because I no longer had the only thing that let me be able to, What kind of goddess am I?"
Those words, sounded so horribly, horribly WRONG coming from my teacher! The sun shouldn't darken. And the teacher I loved so dearly, should never, ever, ever lose heart! This shadow of guilt had no right to her!
And I wouldn't let her be crushed. but how do I do it? A thought occurred to me.
"...Dear Princess Celestia..."
She perked up, looking at me.
"Today, my friends and I tried to save Equestria and defeat an evil witch that threatened it all...and we failed. The Elements of Harmony couldn't beat her. We couldn't beat her...But because we never gave up, we managed to get Princess Cadence to where she and Shining could defeat Chrysalis and save Equestria...and the Changelings. I wasn't the one to save my brother, while what I tried turned out the best for others, I didn't succeed at my goal. It was somepony else who saved him. But I was there with my friends to help and made her being there and her rescuing him POSSIBLE to begin with! This time...we weren't the heroes of the day. While Cadence battled her nemesis...we were holding the line, stopping the Changelings from influencing the battle...that's what we could do...We couldn't stop Chrysalis, we could only help the ones that could...but we weren't pointless. We did what we could. And in the end, that was enough. Your faithful student, Twilight Sparkle..."
I looked up at her. "Princess...Who taught me most of the spells I know?"
"...I wouldn't say most..."
"But who taught me the basics for having such power? Who trained me to safely control my power and not fear it? Who taught me my power was a gift to cherish and not a monster inside nor a scepter to lord over others with? Who taught me how to learn magic and the right way to use magic?"
"And who taught Cadence the responsibility her power comes with? Who taught her to control it? Who made sure she didn't grow up to be a high and mighty pony who is little better than Blueblood used to be? Who taught her the diplomatic skills she needed to defeat Chrysalis by swaying half the Changeling army to her side? And handle the fall out from that?"
"...And who sent me to Ponyville so I could make friends? Who sent Cadence on the World Tour where she and Shining fell in love so they could defeat Chrysalis?...Who wounded Chrysalis, leaving her in need of healing and unable to chase after us when we escaped the throne room?"
Celestia gasped, looking at me in surprise.
"...Today wasn't won by any one pony. It was won by me and my friends refusing to quit...it was won by Trixie realizing we needed her and coming back for us after the Queen tried to crush her...by Blueblood and Arcane Spell rescuing the real Cadence ...by Lyra and her family saving Moon Dancer and uniting her friends and giving my friends the chance to escape...by Mr. and Mrs. Tiara and the Wonderbolts for freeing the second foreman of the rune's creation...by Misfit and Weaver's family refusing to give up when trapped deep behind enemy lines and taking out Digger Wasp and Kabuto, and later helping my other friends defeat Hercules...by one little flightless pegasi filly's insurmountable courage and loyalty... by a big sister's love and insight... a little sister's love and Spike's resolve... by the cleverness and teamwork of younglings... by the Gifted Unicorns, Fancypants, and so many citizens of Canterlot for standing strong."
"Yes, I couldn't be more proud...I'm going to need to commission a larger stained glass window..."
"But it was also won by you wounding the Queen and leaving her weakened enough for all of us to escape...So why can't you be proud of the role you played in it?"
"...While I do indeed have many plans Twilight, I do not truly meddle with the personal lives of my ponies, they're your lives to live...Every plan I have in motion is to protect my ponies...but this wasn't some foolish disaster you brought upon yourself that had gone out of control, it was a danger on the level it was my responsibility to protect you all from."
"But by the time she revealed herself, Chrysalis had become a threat that was our responsibility to protect Equestria from," I explained. "And we failed too. In the end...the only one that could defeat Chrysalis in a way that would end the violence...end the terror: was Cadence. You are an Alicorn, so...like Cadence, you do count as a Changeling Queen...but Cadence was related to Chrysalis in what seems to be the same way me and Twilight the First are related. Or the same way Pinkie and Rarity's souls are related. You were Cadence's aunt, yes, but the relationship wasn't biological, it was spiritual...the fact is, the only one who could challenge Chrysalis for the throne, was Cadence. And that's no pony's fault. It wasn't that we weren't strong enough. It was that Cadence was the best suited to defeat her."
I looked her in the eyes. "And Princess...Chrysalis said it herself, that Equestria has more love than anyplace she has ever encountered... you're the one we have to thank for that! You haven't ruled Equestria for centuries because you're the most powerful pony in it, or because you raised the Sun...You're ruler because you loved the ponies of this land enough to defy the, at least, fifth most powerful being in creation for them...the being who killed your mother and your aunt in front of you. You didn't do it for revenge or for power...you did it for us ponies...You're ruler because you've always done what was best for Equestria, even at great personal cost."
I floated her scorched crown she'd sat down up and sat it on her head. "You're not just a ruler, you're a leader, you're a teacher. You taught me as your student...you taught Cadence as your niece...and you taught Equestria love Discord tried his hardest to snuff out and failed. You taught us love after a thousand years of disharmony and strife...as in conflict and suffering, not the Draconequus...The point is, you taught Equestria to love again after a thousand years of Discord trying to crush the very idea of it. You defeated Nightmare Moon because you loved us enough to put what you wanted behind our safety, and that's one thing Chrysalis never did once in her entire life."
I got a look of realization. "...And that is your true victory over them both. You managed to revive something Discord sought to crush. You've never turned on your little ponies, not once in your entire existence. We're always what you put before yourself. And that proves you're a better pony and a better ruler than Chrysalis ever was."
I looked her straight in the eyes. "...The face I'm looking at right now...it's not a mask like the Chrysalis the Changelings saw...it's not a facade like Discord always wears. It's you. When you told me about the lives you've had before? The mistakes you've made? The pony in front of me, didn't change in the least. Even Nightmare Genesis...she wasn't born from selfish envy or jealousy...she was born from wanting to save what could not be saved."
I hugged her. "You didn't hide from your mistakes. You told me them despite the fact I trust you more than anypony else. You accepted them and move past them...and because of that, today, Equestria is a wonderful place to live."
I looked up into her eyes. "You're never alone, Princess. That's the best thing about living in Equestria...we're never alone. Today proved that more than anything else...when Chrysalis thought she'd crushed every hero there was...more rose up. When we thought we were one little faction challenging an invasion, we found more allies than we could ever have thought possible...but not all of them were fighters...one pony can't do everything. Everypony can do something. And together we can do anything. That is the lesson you taught us Princess...and it's the lesson that defeated Chrysalis."
"You're wrong Twilight Sparkle..." She hugged me, "It was the lesson that saved Equestria. My faithful and wonderful student," She nuzzled me, "Thank you, for reminding me. My memories can never fade, but I can turn a blind eye to them if I bury myself in my own fears it seems. Thank you my little pony. For teaching me back, some of the lessons I've given you, and some new ones."
"It's why you let me stay in Ponyville isn't it? To learn?"
"Of course not, it was to be with your friends."
"Heh heh, thanks for the reminder."
"Now come along my little pony, we have a real wedding to attend."