Just Like You

by TechyConversant

Chapter 12 - Royalty


Princess Celestia exited her study, the grimace on her face reminiscent of the traumatic event that just occurred. The event was only lightly traumatic for her. If she said this was the first time she caught this rambunctious little human falling from a high place, she'd be lying. They grow up so fast, she would think. However, she can only imagine what her precious Anon must be feeling. She wasn't there, and she wished she could be, but luckily her little niece was in the thick of it all.

Changelings. There are few creatures that Celestia does not truly love that reside in Equestria. From her balcony she would look below, the sun she shines down on them. Ponies, unicorns, pegasi, griffons, all the animals of the forests, rivers, and skies. Maybe even a draconequus, given the right environment. But not even a ruler should expect to deal with these parasitic creatures.

Morphing into the shapes of others, feeding on their very emotion. The stronger ones, she's heard, can even control and manipulate with magic. An act that's quite forbidden, quoting Starswirl the Bearded himself. Not that she'd ever bring herself to do such a thing, of course. Banishment is hard enough on an immortal psyche. No creatures should have such dominion over another, the removal of free will, or it's warping through deceit. Luckily, thanks to young Cadenza, it was easy to see through the uneasy fog.

She saw the whole thing, Cadenza would repeat to the radiant ruler. Rushing to check on her 'precious' Anon...oh, young love is adorable...she saw herself! The disgusting bug, in the young Princess' terms, was disguised as herself, and manipulated the cadet, Shining, into attacking her. Meanwhile, it guided Anon to the balcony, and shoved him off! The royal guard arrived in time to apprehend the creature, but was far too late to save him. Fortunately, Celestia herself was around to do that. Sunlight travels fast.

Her foster child was out cold, passing out the moment he landed on her back. Those moments spent flying to safe ground were agony, the possibility of carrying what might have been a mere husk...as soon as her worries were quashed, she immediately brought him to safety. Having already attacked him in the hallway, coming to finish the job...Celestia's face contorted into a flash of motherly anger. Despicable. The guards had it. This time, Celestia will get her audience.


The magical bindings surrounding her mouth would prove to be far less useful than the ones around her hooves and horn. Chrissy's voice would be gone from the screaming anyhow. Seeing Anon plummet, inches from her saving grasp, only to have it torn away. Even if he hadn't fallen, he'd still be torn away from her, thanks to the royal guard. It's burned into her mind, the look on Anon's face. All of them. Each and every one.

The face of pure, seething hatred. She had Shining take her to him, to save him from all this. As the gullible cadet spoke, Anon had turned to face his faux captors, feeling disgusted to even look like her. His eyes, for that moment, were dark pits of pure, concentrated malice towards the princess. It shook Chrissy to the core, but as she uttered her soft plea to escape, his eyes became sullen, his own emotions exhausting him. A momentary relief, that would be over all too soon.

The face of despair, of fleeting hopes. Surely it mimicked her own at that instance, her holed hoof was so close to him. But in that fateful second, her body was jerked backwards, absconded by the damned guard. If only he knew. He would have waited that mere second, if only to let her him. Surely he would have. No one's that heartless. Remembering who she once impersonated, she corrected herself. Almost no one.

And lastly, the face of joy, at the taste of a red, shiny apple. The deadpan stare after she would deplete the fruity rations. The sorrowful look as they parted. The boredom he would exhibit being forced to deal with that vile pink mare in the years to come. All of the emotions, all of them his. All of them gone. Her eyes closed. What her mouth was not allowed to express, her tears did.

The hoofsteps resonating through the room were enough to jostle her from her sadness. Looking up, she saw the elder princess staring her down, as angry as she was radiant. "Shall I allow her to speak?" One guard inquired, nudging the captured bug harshly. Celestia shook her head.

"All these creatures spout are lies." Leaning in, Chrissy began to muffle.

"Mff ammfmm ohkkff?" She attempted to speak, to no avail. Celestia didn't bother to ask what.

"Changeling. Your kind has always earned my ire." She began, staring the bug down.

"Ahnnmmffnn! Ihhnnff hff oohhkkffmm? Another futile attempt.

"But what you did..." Celestia's eyes burned with the fires of the sun she rose. "...what you did to him was unforgivable."

Chrissy fell dead silent for the brief moment, her eyes widening. She shook her head. He couldn't be. "Nff...nmmmff!!"

"You listen, and you listen good." The acid dripped off the princess' words like the tears that formed at the changeling's face fell from her cheeks. "Tell this to your hive." She steps forward, hoof moving past the bug, their horns nearly touching in confrontation. "If I ever see you, or one of your kind, in my kingdom again..." Her teeth grit in anger, visions of her nearly murdered 'son' in her mind. "The only thing blacker than your empty husks will be the chars I leave behind."

The guards shook in terror. They would be regaling this tale at patrol-duty poker tonight.

Celestia's horn illuminated with strong magic, and pressed into the captive changeling. For the split second before the bug disappeared from their immediate existence, her mouth was free from the bindings. Her scream echoed through the chamber long after her body disappeared. Celestia expected such a response. Few creatures could withstand becoming the object of her displeasure. Unbeknownst to her, the bugmare's breakdown was for a different reason.

She lay in the wastes outside of Canterlot, grains of sand clinging to her tear-stained face. She's the only one now who can hear her pained screams.


Later that night...

A gentle knock at the infirmary door was responded to with a tired, sore moan.

"Mnnhh...." The pink mare tossed in the cot, lightly creaking it. The door opened anyway, as if her incoherent moan was a 'yes, come in'. The white cadet made his way inside, closing the door behind him promptly.

"Cadance." He said, almost as if reporting to a higher up. That amount of urgency. She didn't seem all too interested.

"Shining, you idiot...I'm trying to sleep..." She sits up lightly, groaning in the typical 'teenage mare who totally has somewhere better to be but isn't right now' style.

"I found out what happened to the changeling."

That changed her tune rather quickly. The sound of her sore body cracking as she stretching upright, giving him full attention. Once acclimated...she grinned.

"Tell me! Did she string it up by the balcony? Oooo, perhaps the stocks! They haven't been used since the olden times, I've heard! That's deserving of what it did. Yeah, public execution..." Her tone was oddly, disconcertingly soothing as she perused her own imagination for the fate of the changeling, which to her immediate disgust, was not as she expected.

"She let it go."

"WHAT?!" She's fortunate she was the only patron in the infirmary at the moment, or her little outburst would surely have awaken the other patients. Not that they would have the gainsay to confront her about it, of course. "She didn't kill it? How?! After what it did to you? To Anon?" Her performance regarding Anon is convincing, even though Shining is one of the few she needn't convince. Living the lie makes it easier to stick to, after all.

"Apparently her threats were terrifying, sending a message to her kind." The cadet grins a bit. "The guards with her said they had to change their outfits." Cadance has no time for his little story. Her head is already racing.

She's alive. How hard is it to execute a criminal? Especially one of that magnitude! Attempted murder of royalty. Multiple accounts, no less. She stews it over in her mind. Anon, her dear sweet Anon, must still be sleeping. That was a nasty fall. It's amazing Celestia was nearby. The way she flew through the window, a radiant blur, diving after her son. How did she even know this was happening? Mother's intuition, maybe.

"...that she'd reduce them to cinders if they ever showed up again." Shining finished. Cadance wasn't listening, but caught enough she could use. Bringing her hoof to the heart around her neck...that changeling's been manipulating him since he was young. Since the little inkling of affection crept into her mind. And now, with the bug banished, she's as good as dead to him. That night, she could barely sleep, letting the scenario run through her mind. She would talk to him, and he'd be hers, and hers alone. No creepy bugs. No blackmail. Just true young love. Closing her eyes, she slept with a smile on her face, anticipating the day. Everything would be perfect.

It only took a flight of stairs to break the delusions of grandeur, among other things of hers.