• Published 12th Aug 2013
  • 13,689 Views, 217 Comments

Warring Dusk - AlphatheGriffin17



A happy day soon descends into a war between two peoples. Canterlot is under siege, the princesses are captured and Dusk must take up arms or watch his home fall.

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They're On The Bride's Side

Dusk had no ideas. From being with the girls and facing a number of seemingly hopeless situations, he had come to learn that there was always a solution if he just had the time to think. If he didn't come up with something, then Twilight or any of the others might have an idea. They'd always be the ones to come out on top.

This time though, he just didn't know. He had tried to think of something, anything to help get out of this situation, to act against the changeling queen before the wedding was over. But he couldn't come up with anything. He was on his own. Twilight was trapped somewhere down in the crystal caves, Chrysalis was poised to complete her plan and all of his other friends were too caught up in the wedding to even notice.

What was there he could do? Chrysalis was only mere feet away, watching him to make sure he didn't try anything. Even if she wasn't watching, the hundreds of guests and guards here would. Even if he did escape, he wouldn't get far. As much as Luna had been training him, he doubted he could overcome the forces of Celestia's Sun Guard. The princess herself might even step in if things got out of hoof.

There was nothing. Chrysalis was holding all the cards in this game. Celestia was already half way through the ceremony. What could he do?

He looked down at his necklace half, gripping it. He could almost feel the warmth of the magic that lay inside it. Twilight's magic, who even when she acted alone, she hadn't given up. She had tried and he had been a fool to not see that she was right all along. She'd known it and she'd still acted and she didn't even know what he knew.

Still, his mind was still a blank. He had to have some idea of what to do and he didn't even have that. Until Celestia herself gave him some inspiration.

"If there is anypony here who objects to this union, let them speak now or forever hold their peace."

Everypony else in the hall remained silent in the wake of this offer, but Dusk's mind was already starting to spin again.

He let his hoof fall and looked up, his helplessness dwindling. He might have not much in the way of options or even a plan. Twilight might be trapped, but he knew deep down that wouldn't stop her. She'd find a way out and they'd manage to expose the queen. He just had to try and do something before she arrived. The idea came to him there.

He could do something. He could stall her.

"Actually, I do," he declared, in as bold a voice as he could muster.

The respectful silence became stunned following that. He was sure that everypony from Twilight's parents to his friends were all staring at him like he'd gone mad. But he didn't look at them. He only had eyes for Chrysalis, who managed a contemptuous smile.

"Dusk," Celestia said in a warning tone, "what is the meaning of this?"

"I'd say that's fairly evident, Highness," he replied as calmly as he could. "I'm preventing you from making a very big mistake, an oversight that's escaped your notice."

"Which is?"

"That these vows are invalid. You asked if Shining Armour and Princess Cadence would be willing to spend their lives together and that's half right. That is certainly Shining Armour, but she," he continued, raising a hoof to point, "she is not Princess Cadence."

Now, everypony was shocked out of their silence and mutters began to grow from the crowd like a distant thunder.

"Dusk, what the hay do you think you're doing?!" Shining demanded angrily.

"Isn't it obvious, dear?" Chrysalis asked. "Twilight's his marefriend. She's put him up to this to ruin our perfect day!"

"Well, I'm stopping it right here. Seize him!" he commanded.

The guards posted at the door sprinted around the room towards him, attempting to cut off his escape. But Dusk had no intention of running. Instead, he made tendrils rise out of their shadows to grab their legs and hold them in place.

Shining made for him instead, but he got the same treatment. He wouldn't be able to hold them for very long though, so he had to make this count.

"What are you doing?! Let me go!" the captain shouted.

"I'm sorry, but I'm afraid that this is necessary for what I have to say," he said, stepping forward.

Unfortunately, the girls did too, moving to intercept him.

"Okay, looks like we have to deal with this," said Rainbow, stretching her limbs. "I don't wanna do this, Dusk, but I will if you don't cut this out, now."

He made the shadows lap around their legs. "Ladies, if you force me to, you'll get the same as them."

They hesitated, backing away unsurely. Dusk hated to see the confusion and even hint of betrayal in their faces, but he had no choice.

"Dusk, be reasonable!" pleaded Rarity. "There's no need for any of this!"

"Yeah, we understand if Twah'light put ya up to this," Applejack continued. "But there ain't no need ta go further than ya already have."

"Interesting that you should mention Twilight," he remarked. "Because, as Ray has pointed out, she seems to be distinctly absent from this affair."

"Dusky, even I don't need to be psychic to see that," Pinkie tried. "But she got all up in her britches about her brother and she wasn't allowed to come. She made poor Cadence cry by calling her evil and that wasn't very nice."

"It wasn't very nice she couldn't come to the wedding either," added Fluttershy, "but it won't help being angry about it. Please, big brother, just stop. Please."

"I'm afraid I can't, little sister," he said softly. "Not until I've said what I have to."

Celestia's expression grew harder. "Dusk, this is your final warning."

It was everything Dusk could do to ignore her and raise his voice.

"As I've said, Twilight Sparkle isn't here because she was prevented from coming to the wedding," he began. "In a way, that's true, because she's currently trapped in the caves beneath Canterlot and this charlatan is the one who put her there!"

"Stop it!" She was putting on a crying act now. "Why are you doing this to me?!"

"I think you said the same thing to her, before you trapped her down there for interfering with your plan to take over Canterlot," he pressed on. "After that, you threatened me to keep quiet about it, hoping that my fear would hold my tongue, but you were wrong. Because while I may abhor violence, I am always willing to fight for her, no matter what."

That smile came back. "Your love for her… really is strong, isn't it?"

"I suppose you would know, being the expert of it," he returned. "I've played your game long enough and I refuse to be a pawn in it any longer. So, why don't you tell them who you really are, Chry-!"

He was cut off when two strong hooves grabbed him and heaved him to the floor. The guards had broken free of his restraints and had followed their captain's orders. He tried to raise his hoof, but they had him in a lock that might break his leg if he tried anything.

"I've heard enough." He could see the princess shaking her head. "I have to say, I'm very disappointed in the both of you. I expected better."

"Princess, please…"

"I'm sorry, Dusk, but you leave me no choice." She waved a hoof. "Take him outside and don't let him back in until the ceremony is completed."

"No, stop!" he yelled, trying to struggle against his captors. "You have to listen to me! She's an imposter! She's a change-!"

"Get him out!" shrieked Chrysalis. "Get him out, he's ruining everything!"

He tried to use his magic, but they twisted his leg until he stopped. They were stronger than him, he had no way out of this. Guests were watching the spectacle, shaking their heads and muttering disgruntledly. Shining looked livid, the girls ashamed, Chrysalis silently triumphant.

At least he'd tried… but was it worth it?

The doors burst open, but they weren't even half way down the hall. Another voice echoed around the room that made him realise that it had been.

"Stop!" Twilight Sparkle stepped in, glaring at the guards with a look that could kill. "Let him go right now or I swear, I'll make you!"

Dusk let the smile break out onto his face at the sight of her. Now, they could finally act, even if it was still their words against everypony else's

"Twilight, Dusk, both of you!" Clearly, Celestia's patience was at its end. "This has gone on long enough. I'm going to have to ask that you both leave at once before more drastic steps are taken."

Chrysalis made an annoyed sound. "Why does she have to be so possessive of her brother? She affected a sob when Celestia looked taken aback. "Why does she have to ruin my special day?"

But she wasn't alone. "Because it's not your special day! It's mine!"

The whole room gasped collectively as Twilight's companion stepped up.

"Cadence!" Dusk's smile grew when he saw her too. She looked a little worse for wear, but that didn't look like it would stop her. "The real Cadence?"

"The real Cadence," she confirmed, smiling at him. "Good to see you again, Dusk."

"Likewise," he returned. "You're looking well."

She looked herself over. "I don't know, I think I've had better days. Bedraggled and beaten doesn't really suit me."

"It could be a lot worse."

"Careful, Dusk. I'm engaged and your marefriend is standing right here."

"A gentlecolt always takes the time to compliment a lady. Congratulations, by the way."

"Thank you. You'll have to excuse the entertainment." She turned her glare to Chrysalis. "I never did much like impressionists."

"Silence!" snapped the changeling. "How did you escape my bridesmaids?"

"Easy." She exchanged a smirk with Twilight. "Even under mind control, the allure of catching the bouquet was too much for them."

"Hmph. Clever. But you're still too late," she sneered.

"Ah- ah don't understand," stammered Applejack. "How can there be two of 'em? Dusk, was this what you were tryin' ta tell us?"

"Indeed it was," he affirmed, standing now the guards let him go. "Cadence, I think you can back me up that you are the genuine article."

"I am." She pointed at her doppelganger. "She's a changeling. She takes the form of somepony you love and gains power by feeding off your love for them."

Chrysalis' eyes and horn flared green in anger. Her back hunched, surrounding her body with the same green flames she used to imprison Twilight. Only this time, they erupted into a funnel of flame, forcing everypony nearby to cover their eyes.

Through the flames, Dusk could make out the transformation. It was like the fire was peeling away pieces of her body. Pink became black, fur became chitin, feathers withered away to expose transparent membranes. Finally, the fire died and the true form of the changeling queen was revealed to all.

Even with the horrors he'd seen, this was a new one for Dusk. She was tall, even towering over Shining, even matching Celestia in height. Her whole body was a black, insect-like carapace, dark as a stormy, starless night, except for a green piece of chitin over her midsection, where her tattered wings emerged from. Her horn was jagged and huge, twisted, a small crown with blue orbs set beside it. Her teal mane and tail were ragged and torn, holes near the bottom matching the ones in her wings and even the bases of her legs.

But if her body was horrifying, her face was like none he'd ever seen. Her oval-like eyes, like the magic she used, were a poisonous green, set against by black, reptilian-like pupils. They were elongated, stretched almost too far to be normal, burning with a lust for power and for conquest. To consume. Like the insects her form so reminded him of. She licked her lips hungrily, exposing sharp fangs like a vampire's.

"Right you are, Princess. And as queen of the changelings, it is up to me to find food for my subjects." Her voice sounded distorted, like two different voices were trying to speak together. "Equestria has more love than any place I've ever encountered. My fellow changelings will be able to devour so much of it that we will gain more power than we have ever dreamed of!"

Cadence was defiant. "They'll never get the chance! Shining Armour's protection spell will keep them from ever even reaching us!"

Chrysalis only chuckled. "Oh, I doubt that. Isn't that right, dear?"

Her horn glowed, as did Shining's eyes. He nodded dumbly, like he was her puppet. Livid, Cadence started forward, but Chrysalis blocked her path.

"Ah, ah, ah. Don't want to go back to the caves, now do you?" Reluctantly, Cadence backed off. "Ever since I took your place, I've been feeding off Shining Armor's love for you. Every moment he grows weaker and so does his spell. Even now, my minions are chipping away at it."

That was when Dusk heard something he hadn't noticed before. A sound like electricity. He looked out of the window and saw movement through the shimmering field. Lots of movement, in the form small black dots, slamming into the top of the forcefield. They were trying to break in. And there were a lot of them.

A whole army of changelings. Hundreds, if not thousands of them. Even with increased security, the guards wouldn't stand a chance against their numbers.

Chrysalis laughed again, caressing Shining's face. "He may not be my husband, but he is under my total control now. And I'm sorry to say, unable to perform his duties as captain of the Royal Guard."

"Not my Shining Armor!" cried Cadence.

"Soon, my changeling army will break through. First, we take Canterlot. And then, all of Equestria!" she declared.

"No. You won't." Celestia stepped forward, the sun blazing in her eyes. "You may have made it impossible for Shining Armor to perform his spell, but now that you have so foolishly revealed your true self, I can protect my subjects from you!"

At this, she took to the air, blasting a stream of fire from her horn. Chrysalis met it with a beam of her own green energy. She grimaced under the strain and Dusk had hope. As powerful as she might be, it would be impossible for Chrysalis to stand up to Celestia's power. Once she was beaten, perhaps the other changelings would surrender.

But something was wrong. Chrysalis's magic seemed to be growing stronger, forcing back Celestia's. She saw this too, tried to keep her back, but Chrysalis recovered with incredible speed, sending her magic right at Celestia's horn. The princess only had time to narrow her eyes in shock before she was consumed by a bright white flash.

Dusk watched, like it was in slow motion, her crown come free of her head and hit the floor, followed soon by its wearer. The tip of her horn was black and smoking, her body sprawled across the floor. She had been defeated.

The crowd gasped in fear, some cried out, but no voice was louder than Twilight Sparkles

"Princess Celestia!" She and the others galloped to her, Dusk not far behind.

Chrysalis looked at her horn in pleasant surprise. "Shining Armor's love for you is even stronger than I thought! Consuming it has made me even more powerful than Celestia!"

"The Elements of Harmony…" murmured Celestia weakly. "You must get to them and use their power to defeat the queen!"

The girls and Dusk looked around at each other and nodded grimly, knowing what they had to do. Tossing aside his suit along with the girl's dresses, he galloped with them out of the hall. They stopped when they noticed one missing pony, lingering to catch their fallen clothes.

"Rarity!" they all called. Reluctantly, the fashionista discarded her gown too and ran to join them.

"You can run, but you can't hide!" mocked Chrysalis, while they galloped out of the hall and into the streets.

Dusk looked up at the other changelings. They were still slamming into the barrier and he could see cracks beginning to form along its surface. He could actually hear them, cackling away in anticipation for the fight. They would have to wait long, it looked like it would break any second.

It did.

With an almighty rumbling and a deafening sound like shattering glass, Shining's protective spell was broken, shards of magic falling and fading away into nothingness. With nothing else to hold them back, the changelings swooped in for the kill. Their horns glowed, surrounding their bodies with green energy and drastically increasing their speed.

"Go, go!" Twilight snapped them out of their trance and they resumed their course.

It was then Dusk noticed they were still missing somepony. "Wait, where's Ray? Where did he go?"

"I thought he was following us!" Fluttershy looked horrified. "We have to wait o-or go back and find him!"

"There's no time, come on!" urged Twilight.

"No! We can't just leave him!"

"Ray can look after himself and once we get the Elements, we'll be safe," reasoned Twilight. "We can find him when this over. Right now, we have to move!"

Fluttershy couldn't argue with that, even though he could tell that she really wanted to. With a reluctant nod, she galloped along with them, though Dusk could see her glancing back the way they came, perhaps hoping Ray would rejoin them, flashing a cocky smile and making some kind of witty remark.

Dusk spared her a look and a brave smile. He would be fine. Hopefully.

They didn't exactly have cause to slow down. Every second, there was another crashing sound as a changeling landed in a crater it created on impact, climbing out for a fight. All around them they swarmed in, some closer than others. One landed directly in front of Twilight, but she just stamped on its head and pressed on.

They climbed the stairs on a path that would take them to Canterlot Tower and suddenly stopped. Dusk looked to see their way blocked by a black, leering wall of changelings. There had to be dozens of them, all standing in their way.

He turned to see even more flying or crawling up the stairs, over the railings from below where they'd come from. They had them surrounded. They wanted a fight. It looked like they would have no option but to give them one.

"Looks like we're gonna have to do this the hard way." Rainbow smacked her hooves together, only to run into an exact double of herself. She stared at it for a few moments, mirroring each other's movements, until the one in her way shoved her back. "How did you...?"

Within seconds, there were two, three, six, ten different Rainbow Dash's barring their path. In flashes of green, black became barriers of pink, yellow, lavender, white, cyan and blue. All of them were looking at hostile versions of themselves.

"They're changelings, remember?" reminded Twilight.

"They're changelings, remember?" mimicked about seven different copies of her, smiling mockingly.

She crouched low to the ground. "Don't let them distract you. We have to get to the Elements of Harmony. They're our only hope."

All of them, with the exception of Fluttershy and partially Dusk, leaped towards the changelings and met them in battle. But with so many changelings, all of them pretending to be his friends, they quickly lost each other in the brawl.

The last thing he managed to see was Fluttershy, being approached by three changelings who had taken her form. He was about to move to help, when she tricked them into believing she was one of them by pretending to fight. They passed by her but was blocked by a quartet of Rainbow's, only for three of them to be knocked down by the genuine article, who helped her help.

He managed to catch her, smile gratefully, but lost sight of her when Applejack rolled by in a brawl with Pinkie. Or was it that Pinkie was battling with a changeling that looked like Applejack? This was fight was getting confusing…

Dusk was soon alone, facing off against a changeling that had chosen to take his form. He backed away, a little unsure as to what to do.

"Well, this is certainly unnerving," he remarked aloud.

"Well, this is certainly unnerving," mimicked his changeling double, leering threateningly.

He raised an eyebrow. "Is that all that you changelings do?"

"Is that all that you changelings do?"

"In all seriousness, please stop it."

"In all seriousness, please stop it."

"Fine, enough is enough." He let an orange glow appear around his hooves. "Mimic this."

"Mimic- huh?" The changeling didn't have time to comprehend before he swung a hoof at it, knocking it back into the crowd.

Satisfied, he turned to see another six or seven copies of himself closing in around him. With so many of them, he didn't want to waste his energies on this single group. So he decided that he wouldn't have to.

He locked eyes with a changeling, daring it to attack him. It did, leaping at him and hissing. He caught it in the chest, pinned it to the ground and pressed his horn up against it. He just hoped this wouldn't be too different from a pony's mind.

"You friends will betray you," he told it mentally, its frantic mind agreeing with him almost instantly.

"Not if I can help it!" he hissed.

He let the changeling get back to his hooves, transforming back into his true form. He charged at one of his confused fellows and struck him across the face, pinned him to the floor and pounced straight for another. Feeling he needed to assist his somewhat unwitting ally and struck another version of himself across the jaw.

Once the group was down, it was only him and the changeling, whose name he'd seen in his mind was Buzz, stood in their little patch of peace. Buzz seemed to be recovering from the effects of his mental suggestion, shaking his head.

He turned to Dusk, still more dazed than angry. "Wha… what did you do?"

"Something like this." He closed the distance between them. "Go to sleep and I'm sorry for tricking you."

"It's okay… sleep sounds nice…" he yawned, curling up and making a strange kind of purring noise while he slept.

He couldn't help but smile a little at the sight of it. He was almost tempted to go find him a pillow and a blanket. Until he remembered that he was in a battle with a lot more of them and went looking for his next opponent.

"Dusk, help!" He whipped around to see Rarity, pinned down by a changeling. Or was it a changeling pinned down by Rarity?

He prepared to fire a colour pellet, when the other Rarity raised a hoof and he stopped.

"She's trying to trick you, Dusk!" insisted the one on top. "I'm the real Rarity!"

"Don't be absurd!" cried the other. "Hurry! If I shan't crumble from this creature's ferocity, it shall be from its withering halitosis!"

"Come now, darling, would I lie to you?"

"You low, deceptive monster!"

"It takes one to know one."

Dusk was completely confused. He had no idea which one was the real one. Fortunately, he had a way to find out for certain.

He hoped he wouldn't hold this against him. "Rarity, your mane looks terrible, your fur is like mottled grass and your clothes would be better suited for dumpster than the Canterlot elite!"

"What?!" The one pinning the other looked livid. "How dare yo- AGH!"

Her moment of distraction allowed the changeling to shove her off and reverse their position. She didn't have much time to appraise this before Dusk knocked her down with a stream of colour pellets.

"Are you alright?" Rarity glared at him while he helped her up. "Oh um… about what I said…"

"Don't worry. I know you only said that to ascertain my double." She glared at him. "That was your intention, was it not?"

"O-of course!" he said quickly.

"Good, just checking." She smiled again. "Thank you for your help."

"My pleasure," he replied, stepping aside so she could re-enter the fray.

"Although, my mane will look a mess when all of this is over," she muttered.

Dusk didn't have time to respond when he was approached by eight changelings in his form. Some of them were in the shade of a nearby tower, the others in the direct glare of the sun. That gave Dusk an idea.

"Light!" Three colour orbs blinded half the group. "Darkness!" Tendrils wrapped around the other half. "Coalesce!"

He slammed the orbs into their respective half and flung the trapped changelings at the same time. As a result, most of them were knocked down when they either hit the floor or collided with each other. He dived forward and punched the remaining one, knocking him to the ground.

"Really, darling?" He looked to see Rarity watching him. "Must you be so dramatic?"

"Are you really giving me a lecture on being dramatic?" he returned.

She smirked. "Touché, my dear. Now, on the subject of dramatics…" Three changelings charged at her. "Time to return to the dance!"

She twirled past the closest one, swinging her hooves into the one behind him. Leaping off her hooves, she spun kicked the third in the air, executing a drop-kick and crashing him to the ground. The second charged again, but she grabbed him, spun him around and threw him back towards the first. They collided and were both knocked to the ground by Rarity's follow-up kick.

She finished in a graceful pose, as if she'd only pulled of a ballet routine and was waiting for applause. Dusk returned the look she'd given him before.

"And I was being dramatic?" he remarked. "That was just showing off."

"And what you did wasn't?"

"Perhaps."

She tittered. "We do seem to complement each other nicely. Next time the town dramatic society hosts a performance, perhaps you and I should play the leads."

He ducked under a diving changeling, backing into her back. "Just so long as you get permission from Spike."

"Only if you act with Twilight's consent," she returned, back-hoofing an attacker.

He waited until they floored a changeling together. "Agreed."

"Glad we're settled on that." She moved away. "If you'll excuse me, there are some more guests I must entertain."

"Tell them that joke you know." He punched a changeling without even looking. "It's quite a knockout."

She only shook her head for use of the pun, smiled one last time and danced back into the fight while Dusk struck a changeling with a puppet of himself, following up with a punch from himself.

He looked around to see he wasn't the only one having trouble telling between friend and foe. Surrounded by changelings, Applejack backed into somepony who appeared to be Twilight and it looked like they would team up. A moment later, Twilight was consumed by a green flash and the changeling rounded on Applejack.

"Okay, this is jus' gettin' weird," she remarked before being piled on by a dozen changelings in her form.

He galloped past two fighters, grinning when he saw Twilight perform a spell that revealed the changeling's true form and left him dazed. He tapped her shoulder and she returned the smile.

"So, am I forgiven for being reluctant?" he asked her.

"You are. Am I forgiven for leaving you behind?"

"Of course." He jerked his head to Applejack. "Mind giving me a hoof here?"

She stood next to him, lowering her horn. "I thought clean-up was meant to be your job."

"I want to make sure I get this right."

"I thought you might." Horns glowing in unison, they mowed down the scrumming Applejacks within seconds.

Twilight levitated over another upside-down, which looked frantic. "Real me! Real me!"

She set her down, Applejack tipping her hat to them both and kicked another attacking changeling square in the face.

"I think we're done here," noted his marefriend.

"I think so too." He glanced at her. "I'm glad you're okay."

"You too, but let's save it until after we're out of mortal peril."

"A fair point." He gave her a quick kiss and let her run off towards Pinkie, who stood before another changeling.

Dusk watched while the changeling transformed into all of their friends, while Pinkie watched on like a filly watching a magic show.

"Ooh, ooh! Do me, do me!" she begged.

The changeling rolled its eyes and transformed into her, spreading its forelegs and grinning as if to say 'ta-da'.

Pinkie only frowned. "Meh, I've seen better." Grabbing Twilight, she pumped her tail up and down at rapid speed, blasting the changelings with magic.

The battle waged on between the Elements and the changelings. Rainbow headbutted her foes, Applejack applebucked them for miles, Fluttershy ducked out of the way, Rarity struck with grace and poise, Twilight shot magical bolts, Dusk used light and shadow to his advantage and Pinkie blasted them with her party cannon.

With all of them working together, the fight was over fairly soon. The dust cleared to reveal the result of the conflict. All of the changelings lay dazed and beaten, while they stood victorious.

"Conflict resolved," announced Dusk, glad for the chance to rest a bit.

They didn't have the time though, for more changelings buzzed towards them and they had yet to reach the Elements. They galloped again towards Canterlot Tower, the changelings closing in as quickly as they could run, even more so considering their fight had left them feeling tired. Twilight reached the doors and pushed them open…

Only for them to freeze. A whole army of changelings were waiting for them, hovering in the air, crawling down the pillars. Far more than what they had to fight before and a lot more than they could handle. Even more approached from the rear, completely surrounding them and cutting off escape.

But Dusk's eyes were fixed on a grey-furred figure, wearing golden armour that should have been melted down the moment that he lost the right to wear it. He wore a gloating sneer along with it, approaching as the changelings closed in.

"Figured that you'd come here," Hard Edge grunted. "You're not using your pretty little necklaces to get outta this one."

"Don't need 'em," retorted Rainbow, raising her hooves. "This is all I need to take you down, traitor!"

She charged, punching and kicking a few changelings before they managed to hold her down. She struggled for a bit, realised it was futile and hung limply in the air. She still managed a glare when Edge approached her.

"Too bad," he said. "I woulda liked to have seen who woulda won if you had managed to reach me."

"How about you get these guys to let me go and we'll find out?"

"No point. I think we both know who woulda beaten who."

"Yeah." She smirked. "You wouldn't have stood a chance, I know."

He grunted and turned away, facing Dusk while the changelings took them prisoner.

"Bet you're feeling pretty sorry now." He didn't respond. "I always said that I was better than you, now I've proved it. Now, you know how I feel." Still nothing. "What's the matter? No comeback? No threat?"

Dusk still said nothing. Edge glared and suddenly punched him in the gut. He doubled over as the wind was knocked out of his lungs. The girls gasped, Twilight called his name and he heard Rainbow start to redouble her efforts to escape.

"I'm talking to you, shrimp!" he roared. "Answer me!"

Dusk looked up, right back into his eyes, but refused to say a word. Edge was only growing angrier with every passing moment of silence and he raised his hoof again.

"Fine then! I'm good with just this!" But he was knocked back when Rainbow managed a kick to his face when he was close, forcing more changelings to restrain her. "You hit me?!"

"Too dumb to register my hoof, huh?" She smiled deviously. "Don't worry, I got plenty more where that came from."

Edge snarled and it looked like he was going to strike her instead. But he punched at the ground and looked away.

"Take them back to Queen Chrysalis," he muttered darkly. "I'm done here."

Even as they were pushed back, Dusk managed a smile while Twilight ran to his side to help him up. Somehow even though they were captured, through means he wasn't entirely sure of, they'd won.

Dusk noted that Rainbow was still glaring at Hard Edge while they were dragged away from their salvation. He had a feeling that whatever it was that just happened there between them, this wasn't over.

He kept his head down while they were escorted away. He didn't want to see what was happening, even though he could hear it. He felt a sense of defeat when they were returned to the hall they'd fled from. The changelings had won. They'd failed to get the Elements and were now prisoners.

They'd need a miracle to get out of this.

"You won't get away with this!" he heard Cadence shout. "Twilight and her friends will–" She stopped when they were brought in.

"You were saying? You do realize the reception's been cancelled, don't you?" Chrysalis said to Twilight, adding her minions, "Go! Feed!"

They sped out and slammed the doors behind them. Dusk looked around. Shining stood dumbly up on the alter, Cadence's hooves were stuck in green goo and Celestia was hung upside down in a cocoon. If he needed further reminder of their loss, here it was.

Chrysalis laughed. "It's funny, really. Twilight here was suspicious of my behaviour all along. Too bad the rest of you were too caught up in your wedding planning to realize those suspicions were correct!"

Applejack approached her. "Sorry, Twi. We should've listened to you."

She shook her head. "It's not your fault. She fooled everypony."

"Hmm, I did, didn't I?" remarked Chrysalis.

"I should have realised sooner though," fumed Dusk. "If I had… we could have stopped this."

She cupped his cheek. "You came for me though, in the end. Like you always do. That's all that matters."

He held her close. "I'm just sorry it wasn't sooner…"

"You can't help that." She smiled at him. "You're my idiot, remember?"

"Always."

"Aww, well aren't you two sweet?" Chrysalis's smile grew. "I'll enjoy feeding off of you."

She crossed over to the window, looking out of it onto the street below.

This day has been just perfect
The kind of day of which I've dreamed since I was small
Everypony I'll soon control
Every stallion, mare, and foal
Who says a girl can't really-

"Okay, seriously?" A familiar voice cut her off. "Even Changelings do the singing thing? What the hay?"

Dusk looked at the source, barely noticing while Twilight appeared to slip away from his side towards Cadence. Out of nowhere, Ray Strike had appeared directly in front of Chrysalis, looking exaggerated and annoyed at the queen.

"Ray!" The silence was broken by their voices, Fluttershy's the most joyous of them all.

"Hey, everypony!" He teleported over and grinned. "How are you all? Miss me much?"

"Missed you like a bad smell," chuckled Rainbow. "I was wondering where you'd run off to."

"Oh my goodness, are you okay?" asked Fluttershy. "Where did you go? We thought we lost you."

"And now you've found me. As for where I've been…" He glanced at an imaginary watch. "You'll find out in a few minutes."

He rounded on Chrysalis, who still appeared to be recovering from his sudden appearance.

"So, Queen Chrysalis," he noted. "Should I bow or curtsey?"

"Hmph, the non-Element," she sniffed. "You didn't even remain to help your friends while they tried to save Canterlot. What loyalty."

He only shrugged. "Hm, I never really liked this dump anyway."

"Then why return?"

"Because, as hard as it is to believe, there are ponies who like this place, even live in it," he said. "Can't really let them down now, can I?"

"I'd say you already have."

"Also," he added dangerously, "there's the fact that you're holding my friends prisoner. I have to say, I'm not all that happy with it."

"Oh really?" She laughed again. "And what are you going to do about it?"

He grinned. "Absolutely nothing."

She blinked. "What?"

"I'm doing nothing. Not a thing. But…" He glanced at a clock tower out of the window. "Three… two… one…" A distant rumble like thunder was heard. "She certainly will."

The doors to the hall suddenly burst open, starlight and lightning flooding inside. And with it, beset with rage and power, Princess Luna, her eyes crackling like the lightning that surrounded her.

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