• Published 29th Sep 2013
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Midnight Star: The Frozen Empire - Nebula Star



Midnight Star was given a second chance to be happy without the horrors of her memories; but those memories were never truly gone. They are only the beggining of her struggles however, Equestria is about to face a new threat; The Frozen Empire

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Chapter 13: An Unexpected Visitor

Midnight Star: The Frozen Empire
By Nebula Star

Part 2: To Build an Army
***
Chapter 13: An Unexpected Visitor
***

Midnight listened carefully as the captains described the preparations being made and the fortifications that had been built so far in the pass. The pass was wider than Midnight had thought, which was bad for them since it meant a wider front for the Frozen Empire to attack. But there were high ridges along each side where unicorns would be stationed and siege weapons had been placed so that they could attack from the heights.

In the pass itself they had built two tiers of fortifications so that if the first fell, they could fall back to the second. The only access to the ridges overlooking the pass was also behind the second tier so they would continue to hold that advantage even if the first line fell.

Once they had gone over the fortifications, the captains then went over their defensive plans. For the most part, earth ponies and unicorns less skilled with ranged magic would be in the pass to hold the line while those Unicorns trained in ranged offensive magic would be positioned on the ridges with the siege weapons.

Pegasi would of course be required to combat the windigos in the air above though Midnight had no idea how they were suppose to fight the spirit beasts. She knew all too well how difficult it was to truly kill spirits. Discord had been a spirit being after all. She'd managed to, for all intents and purposes, kill him in her original world, but it had taken a very powerful spell she didn't think any of the unicorns could cast. How were pegasi suppose to fight them?

Midnight decided to worry about it later and listened to the rest of the plans that the captains had made. She was glad to hear that they were going to hold the civilian volunteers in reserve, but unfortunately she didn't think anypony would be spared the fighting in the end.

“I think our greatest threat is the windigos. We haven't been able to find anything to counter their magic,” Crimson said finally in conclusion. “And we're not even sure if traditional weapons will even harm them.”

Midnight nodded in agreement. “Spirit beings can be hurt but it is extremely difficult to outright kill them. I think our best bet is to cause them enough pain to drive them off. Unless somepony here knows Clover the Clever's fire of friendship spell?”

Crimson shook his head. “I think the only ones who might know that spell are the Princesses.”

Midnight nodded, she'd expected as much. “Hopefully they will return in time. But until then we have to work with what we've got. Now from what you've told me, magic is definitely where we are at a disadvantage which is what I was afraid of. I have a new form of enchantment that may help protect the earth ponies and pegasi from magical attacks, but that alone may not be enough...” she looked up at the ridges and the markers indicating the positions of the siege weapons. “What types of weapons do we have on the ridges?”

“Mostly trebuchets and ballistae that we could assemble on site. Only a few cannons, we didn't have time or the unicorns needed to transport more.” Crimson answered.

Midnight nodded understanding. “Do the trebuchets and ballistae have enough range to cover the entire pass?”

“Well actually a rather clever earth pony made some improvements to our designs and managed to increase their range by nearly thirty percent.” The captain over the siege weapons answered. “They can reach across the entire canyon now.”

“Alright, I think I'd like to see some of the preparations in person.” Midnight said finally. Captain Crimson, Captain Valor, will you accompany Captain Shining Armor and I to inspect the fortifications?”

“Of course, general.” Crimson said with a salute and Valor saluted as well.

Midnight nodded. “Afterwords though, I'm going to need to meet with some of our most talented spell-casters concerning my new enchantment spell.” She turned to Shining armor. “Aside from yourself, Shining, who are some of the most talented unicorns in defensive magic?”

Shining looked up seeming slightly surprised. “Well there's lieutenant Shield Wall, and lieutenant Barricade...” He glanced at Crimson to see if the other Captain knew of any more.

“Sergeant Golden Fleece, is also quite skilled in defensive magic.” Crimson provided.

Midnight nodded. “Alright, send them word that I wish to meet with them, and any others you can think of, after inspecting the preparations.”

~~~

“Hey Wind!” Sky called as she glided down into the practice yard on the edge of the camp where he was trying to get use to holding a sword in his teeth. He could use his hoof while flying, but if he had to land at some point, it was important to be able to fight on the ground. Sky had been practicing earlier herself. Her agility in the air however made her far more effective in flight.

Wind paused to take the sword out of his mouth. They were both technically on break from their crash course training schedule but Wind was determined to be the best he could be, both on the ground and in the air. By last report, they only had three days before the enemy would arrive.

“What is it Sky?” he asked looking up as she landed.

“I just heard that Midnight arrived a little while ago.”

His eyes widened excited as well. “She did? Have you seen her?”

She shook her head. “She was meeting with the captains and then I heard they were inspecting the preparations in the pass.”

“Did you tell Copper?”

She snorted. “He's holed up in that tent with the other siege engineers. It would take a force stronger than Midnight's magic to pry him out of there.”

Wind laughed. “Maybe, but you know what Princess Twilight always says; there's nothing stronger than the magic of friendship.” He returned his practice sword to the rack and turned back toward the camp. “Let's go see if he can take a break and then we'll all go and surprise Midnight.”

~~~

Watching carefully with all her senses, Midnight felt the enchantment spell the lieutenant was casting fall into place exactly as she had demonstrated for them, without any mistakes this time. It had taken a few hours but she'd managed to teach five Unicorns including the two lieutenants and sergeant the enchantment spell.

“Excellent, now I need you to apply this enchantment to the armor of as many earth ponies and pegasi as you can manage, starting with the members of the guard.” She looked over at Captain Crimson; he and Valor had watched as well though they'd likely need to practice a bit in order to learn the spell themselves. “Captain, it would be best to make arrangements to have the members of the guard bring their armor to be enchanted.”

“I'll take care of it,” Crimson said with a nod.

Midnight nodded. “Hopefully that will make a difference.”

“It is an incredible technique, general,” Sergeant Golden Fleece said excitedly. She'd been the most enthusiastic about the technique and had been the first to master it. “I'm sure it will make a huge difference! Defensive spells powered by earth ponies and pegasi, I didn't even think that was possible!”

Midnight smiled at her enthusiasm. “I just wish I could figure out how to give the pony wearing the enchantment control of a more complex spell. Even a simple levitation spell for earth ponies and pegasi to hold their weapons with instead of their teeth...”

“Well we pegasi can use our hooves when flying.” One of the pegasi captains told her with a shrug.

“Have you tried making a framework with your enchantment instead of the spell itself?” Valor asked thoughtfully.

“A framework?” Midnight repeated.

He looked at her seeming surprised. “Didn't you learn about frameworks at Celestia's school?”

“Yes, of course,” Midnight said quickly slightly embarrassed. A framework was a kind of guidance spell to help unicorns learn more complex spells. Essentially a framework would guide their magic into the forms needed so that they could feel what it felt like to cast the spell. “I guess I just never thought of that because... well, I've never needed a framework to learn a spell.”

Valor grinned at that. “Do you think it would work though?”

She thought about it a moment. She'd definitely have to modify the framework spell. The hard part would be allowing the Pony to sense the framework so that they could activate it. Then her enchantment would draw the magic needed into the framework which would allow the pony to essentially cast the spell themselves. There would be no need to transfer control because they would be the ones casting the spell. “That might just work... I'd have to experiment a little but I think that might do it.”

She looked up. “If I could get it to work, this may prove invaluable to our cause. Is there someplace I could work without being disturbed?”

“If you give the order, general, you could work just about anywhere without being disturbed except in an emergency.” Shining reminded her sounding slightly amused.

“Right... but I'd rather not occupy the command tent.” Midnight said rolling her eyes.

Valor smiled. “We have a tent prepared for you. It's not far, I'll show you the way,”

Midnight nodded. “Thank you, captain.”

“And we'll get started enchanting the earth pony and pegasi armors.” Crimson added, giving Midnight a salute. The other five unicorn's followed suit then followed Crimson out.

“You're tent is actually the one just down the hill from here,” Valor told her. “So if you'll follow me, general. We'll have to set up another captain's tent for you, Captain Shining.”

“That will be fine,” Shining said with a shrug.

Midnight nodded. “Thanks, Valor. If this works, it should give our pegasi and earth ponies more of a fighting chance.”

He smiled. “Well, don't underestimate hornless ponies, Midnight,” He advised, speaking more familiarly now that it was just the three of them.

“I know, but I also know all too well the kind of damage magic can do,” she said somberly. “What I did to Ponyville the night I betrayed Twilight was nothing compared to what I had done to Canterlot in my own world.”

“Uh, Midnight...” Shining said in a warning tone, looking at Valor.

Midnight looked glanced at him then looked to Valor. “Rainbow told you the truth about my past didn't she?”

He nodded. “She also mentioned that you had regained your memories.”

Midnight nodded. “I figured she would. Anyway, our main disadvantage is in magic. So we need every possible edge. If I can get this spell to work it could make all the difference. I'll need somepony to test them though.” She looked over at Valor again. “Is Rainbow busy with anything?”

“She's probably just sparing with some of the other Wonderbolts. They don't train with weapons typically.”

“Well, if it works they may be learning to wield a sword with a levitation spell,” Midnight said with a shrug. “Could you ask her to come to my tent when she can?”

He nodded.

“I'll also need items to test the spells on; necklaces or circlets, something small.”

“We have some simple headbands we use for communication enchantments. They're small enough that they can be worn under a helm,” Valor told her.

She nodded. “That will work, if you have spares.”

“We always have spares,” he said dismissively as they reached a large tent. “Here we are, general. You're guard is still being organized, but you shouldn't be disturbed.”

“My guard!?” Midnight exclaimed.

He nodded. “Of course, you're the leader of our forces and that will make you a target, Midnight. You need a personal guard.”

She stared at him a moment then sighed heavily. “Right, well once they're organized, bring them here to introduce them to me.”

“Of course, General. Actually several of your mother's guard volunteered to join your guard for the duration of the war, so you know some of them already. For the time being though, I'm sure Shining can ensure your safety.”

Midnight threw Shining a grin. “Yes, I guess he'll have to do for now.”

Shining just rolled his eyes.

~~~

“Valor said you wanted to see me, general?” Rainbow said with a grin as she entered Midnight's tent. “I see you've got your own guard now.”

She just nodded from where she was lying on a cushion in the center of the large tent. “Yes, Valor helped organize them for me.”

“I heard. Where's Shining?” Rainbow asked.

“I sent him to keep tabs on the preparations for me while I'm working on this,” she said gesturing toward the head bands laid out in front of her.

“Okay, so what are we doing? Valor mentioned something about pegasi casting spells?”

Midnight nodded. “You remember the necklace I made for Scootaloo?”

Rainbow sighed. “Yeah.”

“That enchantment was a new kind I developed that draws power from the pony wearing it. That was Scootaloo's magic powering the spell.”

Her eyes widened. “Really?”

Midnight nodded. “I originally tried it with a simple levitation spell, but I never was able to give control of the spell to the pony wearing the enchanted item. In the case of Scootaloo's necklace, it's activated when she opens her wings, she doesn't actually have any control over the spell. But Valor gave me an idea that I think might work, so that's what we're doing. I need you to test the enchantments.”

“So if it works, I'll be able to cast spells?” Rainbow asked sounding excited.

“Well, just the levitation spell for now, but yeah.”

“That will be so awesome!” Rainbow said jumping into the air and hovering there. “Tell me what to do!”

Midnight grinned at her enthusiasm and was about to levitate the first test headband to her when the tent door was pushed open by one of the guards.

“General, you have some visitors,” The guard pony said. He was one of those who was normally part of Twilight's guard and was familiar with Midnight.

“Visitors? I did ask not to be disturbed,” Midnight said a little annoyed.

He nodded. “I understand, general, but I think you'll want to see them.”

She sighed and sat up on her cushion. “Very well. Send them in.”

He nodded and then held the tent door open as three ponies entered; two pegasi twins and an earth pony.

“Thought you were going to turn us away for a second there,” Wind said with a grin.

“Well she is the general, I told you she was probably busy,” Copper reminded him.

Wind laughed. “She doesn't look all that busy to me,” He grinned. “Didn't expect you to be here, Rainbow.”

“Captain,” Copper reminded.

“Oh right, sorry, Captain Dash.”

“Uh, guys...” Sky said softly looking at Midnight, making them both look at her before looking at Midnight as well, falling silent as they did.

Midnight was sitting there almost trembling, her teeth clenched tightly as she stared at them, breathing in unsteady breaths. Scenario after horrible scenario was playing through her mind, she saw her friends dying one by one in horrible ways. It was her own world all over again.

Her horn flashed as she cast a sound barrier inside the tent to ensure nopony outside would hear. She knew she was about to break down. “What are you three doing here!” She hissed angrily.

“We volunteered,” Wind said with a grin.

“Are you crazy!? Why would you risk yourselves!?”

He snorted. “We weren't about to let you go off to war on your own!”

“We wanted to be here for you, Midnight,” Sky said gently.

“I don't want you here!” Midnight shouted, he voiced cracking with the strain. “I want you safe!” She lowered her head, burying her face in her hooves. “I can't... I can't lose you. Any of you. Don't you understand that?”

“You're not going to lose anypony,” Wind said dismissively.

Midnight looked up sharply, jumping to her hooves with angry tears falling from her eyes. “THIS IS WAR!” She shouted with fury they'd never seen from her before. “Don't you understand!? Ponies will die!”

Then she seemed to crumble, collapsing down onto her cushion crying into her hooves. The three friends didn't know what to do.

“I told you...” Midnight said softly through her tears. “I told you about my past. I told you that I'd had to watch everypony around me, everypony I cared about, die one by one. I can't... I can't start losing friends again... I can't. I just can't...” She cried into her hooves she hadn't expected this, hadn't thought her friends would be at risk. She wasn't ready. They had been all that had kept her from falling into chaos when her memories had returned. If she lost them now.

Suddenly she felt somepony lie down by her side and a wing wrapped around her. She looked up to see it was Wind and turned away.

“You're not going to lose anypony, Midnight,” He said with gentle confidence. “I know you want to protect us, but we all have those we want to protect as well, and we weren't going to stay behind and worry when we could do something about it.”

“But I can't lose you...” Midnight said looking over at him finally with tears running down her cheeks. “I can't lose any of you...”

“You won't,” He assured her again. “We're going to win this.”

“What if we can't?”

“We will.”

“But you're not fighters. You and Sky may be athletic, but you've never trained with weapons, you've never fought for your lives before...” She looked up at Copper. “You're not a warrior, Copper... Earth ponies are going to be on the front lines.”

He smiled. “No, I'm not a warrior, I'm an engineer. Which is why I've been working on the siege weapons up on the ridges. I've already improved their range by over a third.” He said proudly.

Midnight sniffed, feeling slightly better. “That was you? I should have guessed...”

He nodded. “So don't worry, I'm not going to be on the front lines; in fact, I'll probably be the safest of anypony here.”

“Midnight, trust me,” Rainbow said touching her shoulder gently with one wing. “Times like these are always easier when you have the support of your friends. I understand you're worried. Celestia knows I worry about Valor. But you have to remember, they're just as worried about you, so it's better to stick together.”

She sniffed again and gave a small nod, but was otherwise silent for a few moments as Wind held her under his wing. Finally she took a deep breath and let it out slowly, trying to calm her fears. “You follow orders, and stay with your squads! Don't go off on your own and don't any of you dare try to be heroes!” She shook her head firmly. “There are no heroes here.”

They all nodded understanding. “We'll be careful,” Wind said softly, giving her a squeeze.

She sighed heavily. “Well you'd better get back to your training, or whatever you're assigned to do. I don't want to hear about you disobeying orders.”

Wind smiled and nodded. “We're going to win this, Midnight,” He said confidently, giving her one more squeeze. Then he stood back up. “We'll see you later, general.” He gave her a salute, and a grin then turned to go.

The other two saluted as well, turning to follow him out.

“Sky, actually, you should stay.” Midnight said before they could leave.

“Why?” Sky asked, surprised. “I do have a training session this evening.”

“I'll make sure you're excused,” Midnight said dismissively. “But I did promise you that if I ever got my enchantment to work, that you would be the first to use it.”

She blinked looking surprised. “Have you been working on it?”

Midnight nodded. “Valor gave me an idea that I think will work. If it does, it could prove invaluable in the war effort.”

“Alright, I'll tell the lieutenant where you are if you're not back in time.” Wind said as he and Copper turned to go. They waved as the tent door closed behind them.

Midnight sighed then took the first of the test headbands in her magic.

“Well shoot, but I guess a promise is a promise,” Rainbow said with a grin.

Midnight laughed softly. “Sorry about that Rainbow, I didn't know Sky was here when I asked you to help. You can still be second though.”

“This is the one time I'll settle for second. I'm not about to complain about you being loyal to your friends.”

Midnight smiled understanding and levitated the headband to Sky as she laid down in front of her. “The spell shouldn't activate on its own, so you don't have to worry about taking it off again.”

Sky nodded and took the headband, carefully placing it on her forehead, hooked over her ears. As soon as it was on her eyes widened. “I can feel something! This is so weird, I never felt anything like this with your other attempts.”

“Good, then part of my design is working at least. What you feel is a framework of the spell, and you should be able to feel your own magic as well.”

“Is that what that is!?”

She nodded. “If it's working right. Now you should also feel the framework trying to draw in your magic, but it can't until you let it.”

“Okay... yeah, I think I feel what you mean,” Sky said sounding slightly distant as she was overwhelmed by the new sensations.

“Now when you release your magic into the framework it will guide your magic into the proper spell form and essentially help you cast the spell yourself. Then you should have complete control over the spell.” Midnight placed another of the headbands in front of her. “Try to levitate the headband.”

She nodded and looked down at it, concentrating. After several moments nothing happened. She was clearly trying hard, her face contorting into odd expressions as she tried again and again.

“I can't get it...” She said finally in defeat. “I can feel something, but I can't seem to control the magic. Maybe I can't control it myself without a horn...”

Midnight frowned. “I tried to simulate the connection that a unicorn horn creates between the pony's mind and their magic. It won't allow you precise enough control to cast spells on your own, but it should let you at least manipulate your magic into the framework.”

Sky shook her head. “I can't get it...”

With a frown Midnight took the headband herself and put it on under her horn. She immediately felt the framework spell, but the other part that should have felt like an echo of what she'd always felt through her horn simply wasn't there.

“Hmm... The connection doesn't seem to be working, you were just sensing the framework spell,” She sighed. “Let me try again.”

She took the headband off and quickly removed the spell then concentrating she redesigned the enchantment slightly and recast it into the headband. Once she was finished she put it back on herself. There still wasn't an echo though; so, shaking her head, she tried again. It took three more tries before she finally put on the headband and smiled as she felt an echo of the familiar sense in her horn.

“Try that,” She said taking the headband off and levitating it to Sky.

She took it and carefully put it on. “Oh wow! I can feel even more now!” She said excitedly, her eyes wide.

“Good, see if you can get it to work.”

“Okay...” she said then proceeded to stare at the second headband, concentrating. After several long moments nothing happened again. She shook her head. “I can feel my magic, I think... but I can't... OH!”

Suddenly the headband lit up with a icy blue aura and a similar aura surrounded the second headband as well as it was lifted up in the air. “I got it!” She exclaimed excitedly.

Midnight couldn't help but grin proudly. “Excellent! Now you should be able to move the headband around with just a thought.”

“Yeah!” she said as the headband zipped back and forth. “It's so easy!” Her eyes followed the headband as she sent it all through the tent then brought it back in front of her and made it spin in place. Then she released the spell, letting the headband drop only to catch it again at the last second. “This is INCREDIBLE!”

“It's Awesome!” Rainbow agreed. “Midnight, make a second one. I've got to get in on this!”

Midnight smiled. Maybe they would stand a chance with this and her other enchantment. But deep down she wasn't so sure.

~~~

“Why do they insist on asking me for approval for every little thing! Most of them know better than me what needs to be done!” Midnight growled in frustration. It was late in the evening on the second day since they'd arrived and though her success with her enchantment had put her in a better mood the day before; it had quickly been eroded the next morning by the wide range of problems and other decisions that she was expected to deal with. She'd done her best at first, but her patience was quickly wearing thin.

Luckily her guard was following out of earshot so she could take the opportunity to vent her frustration.

Shining looked over at her with an understanding smile. “You're the one in charge, Midnight, so if anypony is unsure what to do they'll come to you instead. You'll have to get use to it.”

“But don't the captains know by now that I'm leaving it all to them?”

“Twilight put you in charge, Midnight. That's all that matters as far as the captains are concerned and until you prove yourself incapable, they will trust in Twilight's judgment,” he told her. “Don't worry though, you're doing fine.”

“Half the time all I do is ask them what they think would be best and tell them to do that!” Midnight objected.

He laughed. “Delegating is an important part of leadership. Trust me, Midnight, you're doing fine.”

She growled under her breath. “It sure doesn't feel like it.”

The only good news they'd gotten all day was that the Frozen Empire was still three days away. They seemed to be taking their time crossing the badlands. Probably so that they wouldn't be exhausted going into battle. While it did mean they had an extra day to prepare, Midnight wasn't sure what else they could do.

Volunteers were still arriving from some of the more distant cities. Most would arrive by the next day, though they hadn't had word from the Crystal Empire yet.

Midnight looked out over the camp. One whole section was made up of nearly seven hundred Zebra that had joined the fight, though most weren't warriors and while they did have some magic of their own, most revolved around potions and rituals and so wasn't really combative magic.

The rest of the camp was almost two halves. One being made up of the members of the guard, and the other was the Equestrian volunteers. Over three thousand volunteers had answered the call so far, even more than she had expected, but she still didn't think it would be enough. Even with most of the earth ponies and pegasi protected by her enchantments.

None of the unicorns she'd attempted to teach had managed to learn the more complex levitation enchantment; so she had had to do as many enchantments as she could herself. She'd made them for Wind and Sky of course, as well as Rainbow. And she'd also made them for all the rest of the Wonderbolts, since they weren't as well trained to wield weapons in flight, as well as a couple other squadrons of pegasi. But that had been all she could manage the night before.

She spotted Rainbow easily in one of the sparing fields, training with Valor. Rainbow had adapted quickly to the levitation spell. Even quicker than Sky had in fact; which Rainbow had been quick to point out.

It still wasn't enough.

The windigos were the problem. They still had no way to counter their magic and they weren't sure they could even harm the spirit beasts. Their freezing magic could easily cripple Equestria's forces. If it weren't for that, they might have a chance; but as things stood, they were in trouble. And Wind, Sky, and Copper had to get themselves in the middle of it...

“You okay, Midnight?”

“I'm worried about my friends,” she admitted with a sigh. “I'm worried that we're out-matched... I'm worried that everypony here is going to die.”

“I heard that you had some friends visit you yesterday.” Shining said softly. “You need to focus, Midnight. You can't worry about them, and you can't lose hope. We'll find a way to win, but not if we lose hope.”

Midnight sighed heavily. “I know, I just... I think I need some time to myself...”

Shining nodded understanding. “I don't think there's anything else you need to do this evening. Why don't we return to your tent. You could work on some enchantments if you want.”

“That sounds good, at least I'll still be doing something to help,” she said. In truth she'd already been heading back toward her tent, but she was glad that Shining agreed that it would be alright.

Four more members of her guard were waiting at her tent and saluted her as she approached. She returned the salute then proceeded into her tent. A small desk and comfortable bed had been added to the tent the night before and she gladly went to the desk and sat down on the soft cushion she had placed there glad to get off her hooves and relax.

“So is there anything else you want me to do, general?” Shining asked.

“No, I just want some time to relax...” Midnight said closing her eyes.

“General Midnight?” It was one of her guard.

“What?” Midnight almost growled suspecting that she didn't want to know.

“One of the zebra leaders has asked to see you.”

“AAAARRRGGGHHH!” Midnight's shout of frustration startled the members of her guard and made Shining grin.

“General?” The guard asked. “Should I ask her to wait?”

She sighed heavily. “No, no... who is it?”

“She said she was Zerrinka the Shamare of the Farren 'Tu tribe. They're one of the most influential zebra tribes. She originally asked to see one of the princesses, but Captain Crimson told her that none of the princesses were in the camp so she asked to see whoever was in charge.”

“Alright...” Midnight said reluctantly. “Send word that I'll see her.”

The guard nodded and left the tent again, leaving Midnight to lament the loss of her evening of relaxation.

“Keeping good relations with the zebra is important.” Shining said comfortingly.

“I know...” She sighed.

It was nearly only ten minutes later that four of her guards entered the tent, the last holding the door as a zebra entered. She appeared older, but otherwise seemed strong and healthy. Her outfit was one of the most elaborate Midnight had seen among the zebra. Far more than the simple leg and neck bands that Zecora always wore though she had those as well.

“General Midnight, I present Zerrinka, Shamare of the Farren 'Tu tribe,” the guard introduced then turned to the zebra. “Shamare Zerrinka, this is general Midnight Star.”

“Midnight Star, to you and all Equestria we are in debt. You have done much already and will do more yet. For this I wish to thank you, and ask what more there is that we can do.”

Midnight grinned, she'd sensed a strange aura from the moment the zebra had entered the tent. One that she recognized. “Well, well, well. This is a surprise,” she said preparing to use her magic should she try to run. “I'll admit your disguise is perfect and you're act is flawless. Just about anypony else would be fooled, but I'm afraid I'm far too attuned to magic to miss your rather unusual aura.”

The 'Zebra' narrowed her eyes. “What insult is this you spake? Are you calling me a fake?”

Midnight just smiled, never taking her eyes off of the 'Zebra'. “Captain Shining Armor; you may want to excuse yourself.”

He looked at her confused. “Why is that?”

She grinned. “Because I don't know how well you can maintain your composure around your old friend.”

“I'm a soldier, General Midnight,” he told her firmly. “I'm not going to lose my head. What do you mean my old friend.”

Midnight nodded toward their guest. “You and her have met before. Isn't that right? Chrysalis, Queen of the changelings.”

Author's Note:

And another piece comes into play. While Midnight has encountered the Chrysalis of her own world before; that Chrysalis and the one of this world are two very different characters as the Chrysalis of this world has not been humbled nearly as much by the suffering that the other endured in Midnight's world.