Queen Aze: Changeling Queen of what was once known as the White Tail Woods hive. Now, the area once known as the White Tail Woods is referred to as Pyrelight; A stretch of land that is constantly burning with a magical orange fire that has yet to be countered. The young Queen of three years was forced into action with the Attack on Canterlot by Queen Chrysalis, and devised an initial plan of disguising herself and sneaking to Canterlot in order to beg for a peace treaty with Princess Celestia. This plan was immediately shot down in spectacular fashion when the first pony she ran into was The Pink One herself. From that point on, the Queen was taken under suspicion by the Bearers of the Elements of Harmony to Canterlot under the pretense of peace talks.
They were successful, if not completely exasperating for the Solar Diarch. The changeling Queen did not survive mainly from Love as Chrysalis had, but rather several emotions. Generosity, Friendship, and a state of Harmony. With those in mind, and a sizeable bank account left behind by Queen Ra, (Her mother,) She was able to buy the good graces of the nobility in Canterlot. Following that, she negotiated with the Crystal Empire for their favor as well. This involved several instances and back room deals she would refuse to discuss, were she still capable of holding a conversation.
Why is this, you ask?
Hark back to the Destruction of Cloudsdale and Canterlot, and you will find Garotte Wire. The Villain's release of Lord Tirek had forced the most magically able beings in the area to coalesce their power within a recently ascended Twilight Sparkle. All of the magics of those beings, (being Celestia, Luna, Chrysalis, Nightmare Moon, Discord and King Aether,) would have torn Twilight into lavender strips of messy pony bits were it not for Queen Aze's magic. The Changeling Queen needed Friendship, Harmony and Generosity in order for her and her hive to survive. Queen Aze's Harmonizing magic forced the other forces of magic to work together, if only for the briefest of periods in order to defeat Tirek and return to their original masters. For a changeling, the raw emotions of ponies are transformed into a refined vessel that is able to bring new changelings into the world, and in this case, reign in the foreign magics of so many gods and goddesses. The reasoning for this being that Queen Aze and her changelings are able to exist entirely on the emotional magic inherent in ponies. You don't believe there to be magic in emotions? Well, take one look at Twilight Sparkle when she is known to be angry, and her subsequent eruption into an avatar of flame, and you will have your proof.
Changelings take the emotions of ponies very seriously, as any mage would take an ancient scroll with the same gravity. When Queen Aze gave up the magic of Harmony that she existed upon, her body went into a kind of stasis. Queen Chrysalis also went into a different kind of biological stasis; however she was quickly revived by Princess Cadance, as she was the Alicorn of Love and not present during the encounter with Tirek.
Queen Aze, however, was not so fortunate.
Queen Aze is of an entirely different brood than Chrysalis, and this can be seen with an observant eye. The brood of Aze is devoted to infiltration, subterfuge and secrecy. Furthermore, they are not built with combat in mind, as Queen Chrysalis' brood is. Their fangs are less pronounced; their form is far more lithe and minimalistic. They have four wings, two of which are smaller than the others, much like a butterfly. They have a black carapace, but their shell is in front of their chest, arranged like an uppercase Y and connecting behind their neck. Their coloration is Purple or Amethyst for their mane and eyes, and they do not have Frills. In order to better disguise themselves and spare energy on maintaining their form, their hairs are like silk to the touch. They have only two organs, both of them being hearts. The first heart accepts emotional magic, and directs it towards the Changeling's horn. From there, it is filtered into a usable form, and directed towards the second heart, which fuels the rest of the body's needs. They have no digestive system as mammals do, and they have no lungs, kidneys, livers, or other such organs to speak of. For this reason, they are extremely lightweight, and usually disguise as Pegasus in order to avoid detection by their weight giving them away. Since their bodies are entirely dependent on the magic they harvest peacefully, their body has one last preventive measure to preserve their body in the case of a famine.
Their bodies transform themselves into Amethyst replicas of their original form.
This amethyst replica of the changeling Queen was currently resting in the Museum of Evil in Canterlot as an exhibit on the differences between perceived evil and actual evil. Her display was intended to remind ponies and other beings that not everybeing you see is evil just because of how they look, or what you've heard about their kind.
A final, crucial note about Queen Aze's hive, is the Hivemind. For the average pony, such a concept is as alien as it is bizarre. For a changeling however, it is as crucial as the ability to breathe, to blink, to walk or talk. It is their ground in stormy seas and their single refuge in the chaos of life.
And without Queen Aze to reinforce and maintain it, it was deteriorating. Fast.
<Lanius, are you there?> Gaius asked into the Hivemind, in search of his brother and co-advisor. Gaius and Lanius had been the two main advisors that Queen Aze had sought out, and in her absence had become the defacto leaders and representatives of the hive.
<Lanius, I know you're there.> Gaius repeated, his concern growing. Normally anyling would immediately answer a call from across the Hivemind, but recently there had been a growing pain in the collective consciousness of the Hive and it had blocked out most communications.
Gaius had attempted several more times, and was growing more concerned by the moment. He then tried to contact other changelings within the hive, and received no reply. Stuck in Manehattan along with the rest of the hive, the Hivemind was crucial for organization and communication along with social interaction and information updates. In addition to this, changelings of Aze's hive had known the Hivemind to be a constant force of comfort for their entire lives. This was even more distressing for both Gaius and Lanius, as they had been alive since the days of Queen Ra over a millennium ago. To suddenly be cut off or numbed to the Hivemind was nearly panic inducing for the aged changeling, yet if he lost hold of himself now then there would be no hope for the rest of the hive.
What do I do?! I can't contact the Queen and simply ask; She's been frozen in Amethyst for the past three years, and nothing we've done has freed her from it! Gaius thought frantically, pacing his small apartment that was free from any furniture aside from a very comfortable bean bag chair. He couldn't relax now, however, as the growing silence from the Hivemind had set him on edge. What would Queen Aze do? Gaius asked the Hivemind, but something felt off. There was no voice, it was simply more of a specter of conversation instead of the words actually being said. As if there was noling but himself to ask, and this was making him even more worried than he had been a moment ago. There has to be something I can do! Gaius paced and worried in his apartment for several more minutes before an idea struck him. It probably wouldn't work, but Queen Aze had tried something similar and it worked out for them in the end.
He was going to send Princess Celestia a letter. If the Ponies have a Queen, and Chrysalis is a neutral party at best when it comes to an opposing hive, then it was his best bet.
To the Solar Diarch of Equestria,
Greetings, your highness. I will skip further pleasantries and get to my point. The hive of Queen Aze is in jeopardy.
Our Queen has lain dormant for such a period that our Hivemind is degrading at an unsustainable rate. If this is to continue, the panic from the lesser changelings will cause a catastrophic incident. They are not born or trained in how to survive if the Hivemind were to end completely, and with the rate of degradation currently setting in, there is only one way that our hive can survive.
We must find a way to revive our Queen, or our hive will be doomed.
I understand if you are unwilling to risk the return of another changeling Queen, but see this from our perspective. Our Queen is more essential to our lives than the air you breathe. Were she to fully disappear or even perish, so too would the thousands of children that call her mother. I am one of those changelings, and I beg of you to find a way to revive our Queen. We have tried these past three years to harvest enough emotional energy to return our Queen, but to no success.
We have no idea what is required to bring a Queen from stasis, as this has never happened before in our Hive. At least for as long as the thousand years I've lived.
Your assistance is desperately needed, and anything you wish to ask of us will be repaid.
Advisor to the Queen,
Princess Celestia, sitting on her throne in the midst of Day Court with the noon sun shining through, could only allow a slight eye twitch before producing her own quill and paper for a letter to somepony with more experience. This was going to go horribly for all she expected, but if anybeing knew a thing about changelings, it would be her.
To Queen Chrysalis,
I do not ask this lightly. I request that you see Princess Twilight Sparkle immediately to prevent a catastrophe in Equestria.
I understand your actions during the Invasion of Canterlot were borne of desperation, and if you are able to resolve this situation you and your hive will be pardoned.
Further negotiations will be determined upon success of this request, should you accept.
Queen Chrysalis, currently staying within the Crystal Empire, could only chuckle at the absurdity of the letter she had just received.
When Queen Chrysalis had sacrificed the magic of Love to defeat Tirek, she too had gone into a stasis. Her form, however, was preserved within a chrysalis of her own make. This allowed her to return with much greater efficiency in event of a quick revival, which was brought from Princess Cadance as the Alicorn of Love. Immediately following Queen Chrysalis' revival, Princess Cadance fell ill from the siphoned magic. Seeing as the death of a goddess of love would be horrific for her hive, Queen Chrysalis herself nursed Princess Cadance back to good health despite the constant protests and glares from Shining Armor, the husband of Princess Cadance.
Since then, and with permission from Princess Cadance, Queen Chrysalis and her hive were stationed in the Crystal Empire seeing as it was a fountain of love enough for her subjects to be sustained indefinitely, so long as the crystal ponies were protected. With this deal, Queen Chrysalis' hive provided security and law enforcement for the Crystal Empire, as well as royal escorts.
"Caydi, come look at this." Chrysalis asked, floating the letter towards an expectant Princess Cadance. The Princess and Shining Armor had been busy with the urging of Queen Chrysalis, as nothing brought about more feelings of love than a new foal.
"What is this?" Cadance asked, taking the letter with her own magic as well as floating bejeweled glasses onto her face. They were styled like the Crystal Heart of their empire, and Chrysalis had mentioned more than once how poor of taste they were. Cadance didn't care, however, as she was amused every time she saw them.
"Aunty Sunbutt herself is asking me of all beings to help her. Asking!" Chrysalis exclaimed, even more amused than before. The Changeling Queen was the height of Celestia, and her fangs may have been less pronounced than the rest of her brood, but they still unnerved Shining Armor. Her shell went across her entire backside and wrapped underneath her barrel, giving her even more armoring than a normal Changeling. Her mane was a greenish teal, and looked similar to seaweed with holes in it. Her eyes were a three part of Emerald, a dark green and finally slit black pupils in the center. A large curved horn and large insectoid wings were also a part of her features, matched with the greyish black holed carapace of the rest of her body. In total, any pony that had not met the Queen would call her a monster on reflex.
Cadance was skimming the letter, growing concerned with the overall vagueness of the request. "What does she want you to do?" She then floated the letter to Shining Armor, whom was sitting beside her.
"Something to do with Sparkle and some imminent danger to the land. What I'm really interested in, is the part with pardon written all over it!" She smiled wickedly. She may have nursed Cadance to health, but she cared for her Hive above all else. More territory to spread her hive, the more the hive could prosper. Celestia giving her a pardon for whatever this was would be absolutely in her favor alone. She had no delusions towards attempting to take Canterlot again, however. She had everything she needed to survive in the Crystal Empire alone. What she wanted was to expand, to grow her hive further and stretch across the world. She didn't care for what purpose, so long as the future of her hive and children was secure for generations to come.
"A pardon?" Shining Armor asked skeptically. "You think she'd actually do something like that? You did try to kill her."
"Kill her? Oh please, that was a misunderstanding. The fool- I mean, Princess, was simply rusty. When do you think the last time she had to do anything related to a magic duel was? Starswirl the Bearded's time? Nightmare Moon's? Actually, I should send her a letter as well. She'd love the irony of Sunbutt herself needing my help, of all beings."
"Are you ever going to call her Princess Celestia?" Shining asked, annoyed.
"Only to her face, for political reasons." Chrysalis allowed with a slight wave of her holed hoof.
Shining sighed while rolling his eyes and looking to his love. "Cadance, what do you think?"
"Well, it's up to Chryssi to decide." Cadance replied.
Chrysalis' eyes narrowed a bit at Cadance. "Did you just call me Chryssi?"
Cadance smiled widely in challenge. "Yes I did, your Royal Queenly Love-bug-ness. What're you gonna do about it?"
Chrysalis lowered her stance, her wings buzzing in preparation for flight as she grinned evilly at Cadance.
"No pouncing! Foal on board!" Cadance yelped, covering her belly.
Chrysalis relented, happy that she had playfully spooked Cadance, and moreso at the glare she was getting from Shining. Despite every effort, that stallion still wouldn't trust her. She had long since given up, and now sought to annoy him from time to time just to keep him on his hooves.
"Well, I should go to Ponyville then. If you don't mind, I'm going to play a little joke on Twilight. I'm sure she'll tell you all about it at the first chance, from what you've told me of her." Chrysalis grinned, turning around and promptly trotting out of the room. She was tailed by two of her own Queen's Guard; larger changelings bred specifically to guard Queen Chrysalis with more durability and magical proficiency than regular drones.
When Chrysalis had gotten out of earshot, Shining gave a worried look to Cadance. "Are you sure this is going to be a good idea? What is Celestia thinking?"
Cadance nuzzled her partner, "It'll be fine, Shiny. Chrysalis isn't the Changeling we met on our wedding day anymore."
Shining returned the nuzzle, but had a scrunchy face of uncertainty. "I hope you're right..."
"Monotone, would you please get down from there?!" Twilight yelled up to the clone, exasperated at her attempts to wrangle the five new Garottes that had taken up residence in her castle.
"I enjoy heights." Monotone replied. She was currently sitting atop the castle's massive fridge, wedged in crevice next to the ceiling.
"How did you even get up there?!"
"Gaah!" Twilight growled, deciding that she would deal with Monotone later. For now, her attention was focused on Pink's shenanigans of redecorating every picture of herself and her friends in the castle with pink mustaches. "Pink, I asked nicely! Please stop!"
"Not until you stop taking yourself so seriously, Friend-cess!" was Pink's reply as she swung overhead from a crystal chandelier wearing a top hat of pink with a white band around the center. "You're so boring with all your 'friendship lessons' and 'books'!"
"I am Twilight Sparkle. I hold a great fondness for books." Monotone agreed, placing reading glasses onto her face that had been on Twilight's head. The two of them had intruded on the Princess of Friendship's study time out of boredom, and were now taking turns harassing her for their own amusement. "Books are my life; my one true love. Books will never betray me, or call me fat." Monotone continued.
"Garotte! Your clones are out of control!" Twilight yelled towards the ceiling in desperation. "Help!"
The Trio then poked their heads though the door. Blue on top, White in the middle, and Red towards the floor like a totem pole.
"Is this a party?!"
"What's going on in here?"
"Why weren't we invited?"
"Noooo!" Twilight screamed, deciding to make a tactical withdrawal via teleportation away from the room. As soon as the Princess vanished, the chaos in the room came to a complete and abrupt stop.
"Mission accomplished." Monotone stated, pulling herself away from the fridge top and plopping onto the floor below. "Ouch."
"That was a lot easier than I expected." Pink added, looking at a hoof watch. "That only took all of four minutes! How did we even lose to her in the first place?"
"She must not be resistant to high levels of stress." Monotone continued, choosing to ignore the jab at their boss from Pink.
"No, I'm serious! How did we lose to an adorkable nerd with nigh godlike levels of power?" Pink then blinked a few times as her own words registered. "Nevermind." she grumbled. "We were destined to lose against that combination."
"Did we win?"
"What was the original purpose of this?"
"Did Garotte want us to do this?" The trio asked, in their usual order of Blue, White and Red.
"It was partially my idea, and partially Monotone's." Pink explained, "We wanted to see how well she did under pressure compared to the Boss, and she really needs a tutor when it comes to that."
"What will our goal be?" Monotone asked. "If we are to follow Twilight's suggestions and teachings, then we should attempt to improve her resilience. If we are to follow Garotte, we should undermine Twilight whenever possible."
"Aw, but she's really nice to us!"
"She has a predisposition to not throw us out on the streets as well."
"I like her mane?"
Monotone, Pink, White and Blue then looked curiously to Red, whom looked helplessly back at them.
"She can't talk out of turn." Blue explained.
"It's part of the speaking rules." White added.
"Otherwise we get all jumbled up and nothing productive happens." Red finished.
If anypony could tell, a slight shift in Monotone's stance would've alerted them to her interest. "You are unable to communicate unless it is in a specific order?" She asked, her voice still holding true to her namesake. "If one of you were to be separated from the others, then-"
"Don't you even joke about that."
"If you mention anything like that again..."
"They won't find what's left of you, Monotone." The three immediately threatened, all their faces contorted in anger and menace.
For her part, Monotone retreated slightly. "Very well. I will not speak of that subject." She showed no worry or concern, but Pink could tell she was shocked. It was part of the gifts that The Pink One had given all of them, though she was most attuned to them.
"Good!" Blue chirped, returning to her regular cheer.
"No harm done then." White added, adjusting her tie.
"Just remember, do not mention that again." Red grouched, as that was her role.
"Noted clearly." Monotone nodded.
As if to cleanse everywire's palette of the drama that had just occurred, the main door to the castle announced a newcomer with resonating booms of sound. It was explained to the guests that it was hard to hear anypony knocking if there wasn't magic sound amplification runes on the door knocker, and having them would ensure that anypony would be heard. It still made everybeing in the castle nearly leap out of their coat when it happened, however.
The clones looked between themselves as if asking who was going to answer the door, when their Boss came down the steps with a distressed Twilight in tow.
"Alright, we're all going to have a 'family chat' after this door pony gets dealt with." Garotte snapped at the group, immediately making them feel bad. Garotte stopped to look disappointingly at her crew as Twilight walked past. The second she had, however, Garotte broke into a massive smile and patted Monotone and Pink on their heads. "Good job!" She whispered happily with a wink. Relieved, Pink smiled back and Monotone nodded to Garotte.
The door then squeaked open and Twilight exclaimed, "Princess Celestia?!"
Garotte's head whipped around faster than it probably should upon hearing that name, and immediately ducked towards a nearby couch seeking cover. The other Garotte's soon took the hint, and vanished with equal haste.
"Twilight Sparkle, It is good to see you. May I come in?" Celestia asked politely with a motherly tone, as if reminding her student of her manners.
"Oh! Yes, of course!" Twilight quickly replied, standing out of the way and allowing her old mentor to walk through the door, accompanied by two stout looking earth pony guards. "What's the occasion, if you don't mind my asking?"
Celestia walked to the center of the room, looking around approvingly of the castle before replying. "There is a matter of great importance occurring in Manehattan, and you are needed to fix it."
Twilight was confused by this. "Do you mean a friendship problem? Why me?"
"Would you sit with me, Twilight?" Celestia asked, motioning to the nearby couch with her horn. Pink could see her Boss sweating gemstones of worry, and her internal debate of the worth of simply bolting from the room at this point.
"Of course! Would you like any tea?" Twilight asked, already levitating a teacup and teabag of Jasmine.
Celestia shook her head slightly. "That is alright, Twilight. This should not take long to explain."
Slightly concerned by the decline of tea, Twilight set down the cup and bag. "It must be pretty serious if there's no time for tea." She stated.
"Is anypony else in the room with us?" Celestia asked.
Pink, Monotone, and The Trio all made silent shooshing gestures accompanied by panicked expressions. Twilight then took this as her moment of delicious revenge for the shenanigans not a few minutes before. "Well, yes. There's about six other ponies in the room with us." She smiled maliciously.
"Six? They are not your friends, then?" Celestia asked, and Twilight nodded.
"They're Garotte Wire and her clones."
Celestia's eyes narrowed in thought, looking to the side for a moment before she spoke again. "Meh, that should be alright then."
Twilight was immediately confused by the change in demeanor of her mentor, and was then horrified when Celestia burst into green flames along with her Royal guards. The flames quickly spread across her body, and eventually revealed a very familiar Changeling Queen.
"Chrysalis!" Twilight hissed, hopping off of the couch in anger and ready for a fight.
"Oh, calm down Sparkle. You have to admit I pulled that impersonation off flawlessly!" Chrysalis cheered herself, wings buzzing in approval.
"What do you want, Chrysalis?" Twilight barked, still unnerved by seeing what she thought was her mentor transform into the first Changeling she had ever met, and the changeling that had attempted to replace her foal sitter and mind control her brother.
"Twilight, seriously. Calm down." Chrysalis insisted, her good mood vanishing in annoyance with Twilight. "I really did need to speak with you for a serious matter, but it seems that Sun Butt has yet to inform you."
Garotte Wire poked her head over the edge of the couch experimentally. Upon seeing Not-Celestia in the room, she picked herself off of the floor and dusted herself off. Clearing her throat, she made herself known. "So! What brings you here?" She asked nervously. Queen Chrysalis may have been a villain by pony standards, but for Garotte, Chrysalis was one of the beings that had given their magic in order to stop her. She fully expected some form of retribution from the Changeling, but with Twilight in the area she was more willing to confront this problem head on. Besides, she and the crew could probably win if they rushed the Queen and her guard all at the same time with Garotte Hugs of Doom tm.
With raised brow, Chrysalis looked behind her at the Garottes coming out of the Crystal-work. "Do you lay eggs as well, or is this a one-time thing?"
"One time thing!" Pink chirped in reply, her tone and cheer immediately causing Chrysalis to recoil.
"What are you, then?" She asked, annoyed. Something was wrong with those clones, and she couldn't place a hoof on what it was exactly.
"We are mirror copies of the original Garotte Wire." Monotone explained.
Chrysalis walked towards Pink, eyes narrowed in suspicion. Getting too close for any normal pony's comfort, Chrysalis was muzzle to muzzle with the copy. In perfect range for Pink's next move.
"Boop!" Pink suddenly announced, a hoof pressed into Chrysalis' muzzle and causing her to recoil a bit from the unexpected move.
Blinking away her disbelief, as well as the near resetting of her brain from the unfathomable nature of what had just occurred, Chrysalis then refocused her ire on Pink, whom was giggling madly and holding a hoof to her mouth.
"What's funny?" She snapped, and looked towards the other Garottes. All but Monotone soon tried to hold back giggles. She then looked to Twilight, whose expression had melted from suspicion and anger towards Chrysalis to one of amusement. "Seriously!"
Garotte Wire then held up a mirror she had pulled from her mane, somehow, and presented the Queen with it. In her reflection, Chrysalis saw a large and poofy pink mustache on her face just below her nostrils.
With a knocking at the door, any retort the Queen could've made up at that moment was abruptly thrown from the mind. The Queen, Princess, Crew and Garotte along with the Queen's Guard all looked to the door in unison. Chrysalis' mustache causing Pink to giggle once more, and was soon answered by a sweeping hoof from Chrysalis that caused Pink to fall on her face. To the Queen's annoyance, Pink broke into laughter.
"Hello?" Twilight asked, opening the door as soon as she spoke.
Then, in the doorway stood the real Princess Celestia.
"Twilight, we must have words." She said abruptly, pushing her way past in haste before stopping at the odd scene before her.
Celestia and Chrysalis stood there a moment, staring at each other.
"I can explain?" Chrysalis offered with a raised hoof.