~This day has been just—
The doors to the thrown room slammed opened, rudely interrupting Queen Chrysalis (again) just as she was singing praises of her victory. “Perfect,” she said, turning around to see a white-furred, blonde-maned unicorn stallion without even the courtesy to dress up for the occasion frantically scanning the assembled changelings around him. Prince Blueblood had arrived, and he seemed completely disinterested in the fact that he was surrounded by (very confused) changelings.
Completely disregarding the situation around him, Blueblood immediately began to search through the crowd, looking next to changelings, pushing aside changelings, even lifting one changeling over his head to look under them, all the while calling for his—
Finally, he saw Celestia suspended from the ceiling in a changeling cocoon, and shortly thereafter, the changeling that looked like she must be in charge, and stomped over towards her. “You!” he shouted, “Release Princess Celestia at once! There is a dire emergency she needs to attend to!”
“Oh, yes,” Chrysalis hissed semi-seductively as she turned his gaze down at the unicorn. “I would imagine an invasion by a foreign power would seem to you ponies as an ‘emergency’.”
Blueblood’s eyes narrowed, and he drew himself up to his tallest height. “Listen, I’m quite sure you’re just making up all this ‘invasion’ business, because I haven’t heard anything about it, and I hear about everything worth hearing about,” he said haughtily, “Now release Princess Celestia this instant! As I said, this is an emergency!”
“You really think your emergency is more critical than the invasion and conquering of Equestria by a foreign power?”
As soon as Blueblood said the word, they snapped up from his sides: A pair of the tiniest, most ineffectually small pegasus wings that anyone in Equestria could imagine. A collective gasp rose from the crowd in the grand room, from pony and changeling alike.
Queen Chrysalis snerked. A moment later, she stuffed her hoof into her mouth, failing to stop a laugh before it escaped. A moment later, she lost control, and fell over onto the ground cackling like a hyena. Both Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie joined in without hesitation, although everyone else seemed to have the courtesy to at least not draw attention to Blueblood’s predicament. So, he let them laugh. Perhaps for several seconds longer than he should have.
“Are you quite finished?” Blueblood demanded. “As I said, this is an emergency!” After a few moments, Chrysalis managed to get herself under control again (Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie continued to laugh) and nodded to some of her changelings. In a flash, they split open the cocoon, and Princess Celestia came spilling out in a pile of goo. Blueblood rushed up to her crying, “Auntie!” and she stood up and sputtered, spitting green ooze from her mouth. The instant he arrived at her side, she looked at him and recoiled in surprise.
“Nephew!” she exclaimed, “You’re an alicorn!”
“Yes! I am! Fix it!”
“I knew you, could… I’m sorry, what?”
“Fix it!” Blueblood insisted again. “I’m a prince, I’m not qualified to be an alicorn! There are thousands of ponies more qualified than me to be an alicorn!”
“Perhaps tens of thousands!” Rarity added.
“Maybe even millions!” added one of the changelings. Every creature in the grand room looked at it. It looked back, and then averted its gaze to the floor, shuffling its hooves. “I-I felt left out…” it offered weakly.
“Besides,” Chrysalis said, turning her attention back to Celestia after a moment. “It throws the balance off.”
“B-balance? What?” Celestia had never been so confused in her life. Even when Discord was roaming free, she’d never been so confused or dripping with green slime.
“Well, of course!” Chrysalis continued unabated, “All the best things come in threes! The Three Muskrateers, for example. The Three Hooges, the Three Falsettos, that delightful series of one act plays you ponies have. What’s that called?”
“‘Three’s Company’?” Blueblood suggested.
“Yes, that’s it!” Once more, Chrysalis continued unabated. “My point is, you have three alicorns already. Do you really need a fourth?”
After a few moments of careful thought which looked suspiciously like staring in abject confusion, Celestia said, “What?”
“I don’t mean to be rude, Princess,” said Twilight Sparkle, stepping away from the changelings keeping her and her friends in line. Curiously, none of them moved to stop her, “But she’s right. I mean, I don’t really see how having another alicorn really helps Equestria at all.” She would not realize the irony of that statement for several more months, and when she finally did, Rainbow Dash would… anyway.
“There, you see, Auntie? Miss Sparkle agrees completely. Now, stop stalling and change me back,” Blueblood said impatiently.
“I—” Celestia began, seeming to choke on her words. “I can’t! There’s no spell to simply remove an alicorn’s wings!”
“There’s, not?” Blueblood asked miserably.
“Well, that makes sense, at least,” Twilight replied to Celestia’s relief: Finally, somepony sensible would explain the situation. “I mean, what would they be then? Just wings sitting around doing nothing? Of course they can’t be ‘simply removed’. We’ll have to transfer them to another pony’s body!”
“Of course!” Blueblood said happily. An instant later, his smile fell to a frown. “But whose body?”
“Well, Auntie’s, obviously!” All present — save Celestia, who had not yet come to understand exactly how the situation had gotten worse —turned to look at Cadence who, with a final jerk of her hooves, freed herself from the resin holding her to the floor and trotted over to join everyone else, “Who else? She has the figure for it, and what could be more regal than two sets of wings?”
“But what would she do with them? I mean, they’re so tiny—“
As one entity, the room looked to Rarity, who was so giddy she may have been close to exploding. “Headwings?” asked Blueblood.
“Headwings!” Rarity exclaimed again, hurriedly rushing over to join the small group in front of Celestia. “Tiny wings on the head! I hear they’re all the rage right now in Neighpon. Of course, they make due with enchanted prosthetics, but to have actual headwings… oh, Princess, you simply cannot pass up such an opportunity. You’ll be the most fashionable creature alive!”
“They’d give you some more lift, too!” Rainbow Dash chimed in as she likewise joined up. “Faster, higher, better control. Rarity, you’re a genius!” In a flash, pegasus swept unicorn up in a hug. “Y’gotta help me get some! I’ll even try on dresses for you if you do, whatever it takes!”
“That settles it then,” Blueblood said, turning his attention back to Celestia. “Alright, Auntie, power up and hit me!” He closed his eyes and raised his head high, standing tall and proud and expectant.
“I can’t! There’s no spell in existence that can remove wings from an alicorn or transfer them! Not permanently. It can’t be done!” Somehow, Celestia’s ethereal mane looked at those it was beginning to fray.
“Oh….” Blueblood deflated.
“Chin up, fair prince,” said Chrysalis, “Where magic fails, medicine prevails! We’ll simply remove and then reattach the wings surgically. Oh, finally!” She rubbed her hooves together and grinned like a maniac on Hearth’s Warming. “Doctor Queen Chrysalis shall have her day in the sun!”
“Doctor Queen?” asked Celestia, uncertain she’d heard correctly.
“Yes, Doctor Queen,” Chrysalis replied indignantly, “I most certainly did not spend fourteen years earning my doctorate in medicine and mastering the equine nervous system to never perform a surgery.”
“But, nopony’s ever performed a surgery like that before!” gaped Twilight, “You’ll be making history! And I’ll be there to document it!”
“Oh, and what if those techniques could be applied to veterinary medicine?” Fluttershy pondered meekly as she made her way over. “Oh, think of what it would mean for all the little birdies of the world.”
“I don’t really know what all the fuss is about,” Pinkie Pie said from her perch on Chrysalis’ back, “But if all this kooky Doctor Frankenstein god-playing means I get to throw the biggest, meanest, greenest ‘Hurray for your first ever surgery’ party I’ll do whatever you need me to!”
“Er, begin’ yer pardons,” Applejack said as she cautiously approached the increasingly fanatic group, “But the head ya’ll are plannin’ t’ play Operation with does belong t’ somepony already. Don’t th’ Princess get any say in this?”
“Oh, Applejack,” Pinkie said, her tone surprisingly patronizing, “Oh, you silly, simple country bumpkin, you.”
“There are no brakes on the mob train.”
“Choo choo, applebucker,” Rainbow Dash added with a smug grin. Applejack, recognizing that she was dangerously close to becoming a science project herself, decided to back off, and away.
“All this, and I get to marry Shining Armor!” Cadence said with a squeal of delight. “This really is the best day ever! Oh, and speaking of Shining Armor….”
“Hm?” said Chrysalis. “Oh! Oh, yes, of course.” Her jagged horn flashed with magic, and an instant later, the hypnotized Shining Armor came back to his senses.
“Wha—huh?” he said as the green haze cleared from his eyes. His understanding did not improve when he laid those eyes on the grouping front of him. “What’s, going on?”
“We’re planning out how we’re going to remove these freaky new wings from Blueblood and then surgically attach them to Princess Celestia’s head!” Pinkie said helpfully.
“We most certainly are not!” Celestia said unhelpfully.
There was no doubt which of them Shining Armor decided to listen to as he trotted over: “Well, count me in!”
“They’re all six bulls short of a stampede,” Applejack mumbled, eyeing the exit.
“So, Doctor Queen,” Twilight said with a smile, moving up to the changeling in question, “How long will her recovery be? There’s going to be a lot of new questions about biology, and we’ll need to interview her immediately.”
“Au contraire, darling,” said Rarity, likewise stepping over to Chrysalis and likewise wearing a smile, although she continued to regard Twilight directly. “Obviously, her measurements must come before anything else. Besides a dress, she’ll need a redesigned tiara, and perhaps some other accouterments for her beautiful new wings. Of course, she’ll need to model them as well, as only she will have her unique, ah, arrangement. One must struck while the iron is hot, as it were.”
“Oh, Rarity, you’re such a kidder,” Twilight responded, smile becoming strained, “After all, what we learn for science could greatly improve the quality of life for everypony. Improvement is so important.”
“Oh, but Twilight,” Rarity replied, smile equally strained, “What good is improvement is nopony is of the right mind to enjoy it. Happiness through modeling is perhaps more important.”
Twilight’s smile dropped into a frown. “Improvement through science.”
Rarity’s smile dropped into a frown. “Happiness through modeling.”
In an instant, the entire group fell into bickering, each voice competing with all the others for attention.
“Ladies, please!” Blueblood shouted, pushing his way into the center of the argument. “We have to keep our priorities straight! First, we get these wings off my back and onto her head. Then we figure out who does what with her first!”
At that, the group paused for a moment, and then gave a collective nod — “Right!” — before turning to look at Celestia. And then looking around for Celestia.
“She’s buggered off!” observed Chrysalis. “She must have slipped out during our planning.”
“Applejack, too!” snarled Rainbow Dash, “I knew nothing good came from always telling the truth.”
“Phooey!” said Twilight, “Now what’re we going to do?”
“Oh, don’t worry Miss Sparkle,” replied Blueblood, “Just by accident, I have an idea.”
In the corridors of Canterlot Castle, devoid of (most) ponies and changelings alike, Celestia took a moment to catch her breath. It really was fortunate that none of the others had noticed Applejack slipping her away during their argument. How the dozens of changelings had also missed them remained a mystery.
“Don’t you worry none, Princess,” said the orange mare, glancing around a corner to make sure the coast was clear. “I know it might look bad, but it ain’t. All we need’s a few seconds t’ figure out how t’ get to the train station, and then it’s off t’ Los Pegasus, and safety.”
“Oh, what’s the point, Applejack?” Celestia asked sadly, head hanging low, “They’ll just find me again. I’m doomed to have wings attached to my head.”
Celestia felt her gaze tipped back upward, guided by a gentle hoof under her chin. The luminous, caring, emerald green of Applejack’s eyes banished her worries in an instant. “Chin up, sugar cube,” she said, voice as sweet, spicy, and warm as a baked apple slice dusted with cinnamon and sugar. “Ain’t nothin’ bad gonna happen t’ you. Not so long as I got somethin’ t’ say about it.”
“Applejack,” Celestia murmured, their lips dangerously close together. In the next instant, the jerked apart, for they each heard at that moment a sound that chilled their blood.
“CUTIE MARK CRUSADERS BOUNTY HUNTERS! YEAH!”