• Published 12th Dec 2013
  • 12,475 Views, 1,524 Comments

A New Way - Phoenix_Dragon



A small but growing number of changelings now live openly among ponies. Many ponies are welcoming. Others are concerned. And nobody, from the new Equestrian changelings to the Princesses themselves, knows how Queen Chrysalis is going to respond...

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Prologue

Prologue

Luna walked with a regal air of calm and grace, hooves clopping sharply on the marble floor of the palace’s broad hall. She had been down this hall enough times since her return that she gave no mind to the scenery. Nor did she pay attention to the numerous changelings buzzing back and forth through the air, who in turn, ignored her presence as they flew to reinforce their companions.

Only when several louder shouts reached her ears did she glance aside. A horde of changelings had surrounded a small group of guards. The guards were ragged and weary from battle and completely outnumbered. As the changelings closed in, the guards’ commander shouted out, calling for anyone to aid them, for anyone to stand tall in defense of Equestria.

Luna simply looked away and continued on, indifferent. Such a scene was just a pointless diversion. Unimportant. They were playing out all throughout the castle, all throughout the city, the sounds of battle echoing into a muffled, distant background rumble. Soon they would be nothing but a memory.

The doors to the grand hall lay open as the changelings flew about, and only once she had entered did she pause to look around her. The changelings’ conquest here was complete. Cocoons decorated the grand dais, holding their prisoners immobile, unconscious. She considered the scene with a critical eye before approaching the dais. The changelings continued on, uninterrupted, without even looking in her direction.

The first cocoon she looked to was the largest, and inside it floated the figure of her sister, Celestia. Her face was twisted in a grimace, eyes closed in induced sleep. Luna thought back to her sister’s remark as to how disgusting the cocoon had felt when she had found herself imprisoned in one during the changeling attack. A fleeting moment of humor nearly drew out a hint of a smile, but she remained silent and neutral, letting the moment pass. A frown crossed her face a moment later when she looked to the next cocoon, only to see a poor mimicry of herself floating inside it. For a species that relied on deception and disguise, one would think they might have paid more attention to the fine details of appearance. Her coat was a much richer shade of midnight blue, not the bland gray of this impostor, not to mention their simplified cutie mark and utterly boring and mundane blue mane.

Her expression returned to neutral as she looked over the next two cocoons, holding inside them Princess Mi Amore Cadenza and Prince Shining Armor, trapped so close to each other, yet eternally apart. Beyond them were six more cocoons holding six very familiar young mares.

The rulers and greatest heroes of Equestria, all trapped and helpless as the changelings descended upon the kingdom. As invasions went, it couldn’t be any better.

Luna was turning away when a detail caught her eye. She stopped and turned back, leaning to peer into the nearest of the closely grouped six cocoons. It seemed oddly fitting, if a bit unorthodox, for Princess Twilight Sparkle to be entombed there with her closest friends instead of alongside the other princesses, but that wasn’t what had caught Luna’s attention. Instead, it was the realization that Twilight did not have her wings.

Curious.

She turned away again, leaving the dais and its cocoons behind. They were a thing of interest, but minimal importance.

Luna came to a halt a short distance from the line of broad, open windows, and immediately behind a dark, insectoid form as tall as her sister: Chrysalis, queen of the changelings. The changeling queen stood calmly, one foreleg draped over the windowsill, her visage framed by the scene outside.

Beyond her, Canterlot burned.

There was little effort made to rein in the destruction, unlike Chrysalis’s first appearance. The numerous cocooned ponies being hauled back and forth showed that the invading force was not enacting a complete slaughter, but they were not being gentle. The green flames of changeling magic flickered in reflections off Chrysalis’s glossy carapace, while she looked on with a content smile.

Luna stood silently, watching over the scene of destruction with detached indifference.

The dark queen was not alone. A few changeling guards stood nearby, one of which was clad in midnight-blue armor. More interesting was the changeling floating over to land beside Chrysalis. The new changeling was unlike the common drones, roughly halfway between them and their queen in size, and resembling the latter far more than the former. Further, while all the drones were male, this one was female. One of the changeling princesses, then.

As soon as she had landed, the newcomer bowed her head, a predatory smirk crossing her features. “The Royal Guard is broken,” she said, delight clear in her resonant voice. “The final pockets of resistance have collapsed, and the castle is secure. Canterlot is ours.”

“Good,” Chrysalis purred, the words descending into what might have been described as a giggle if not for the sharp-toothed grin the accompanied it.

Luna’s ear pricked at the faint sound of wind blowing through leaves, sourceless and almost hidden behind the sound of the concluding invasion.

“Nothing shall stop us now,” Chrysalis said, joy mixing with something much darker. “Soon, all of Equestria will be ours, and we shall take our rightful place!”

Luna felt as if the world was slightly lighter, more ephemeral. The change was subtle for only a moment before the familiar tug of the world twisting about asserted itself. The sky wavered, growing indistinct. Chrysalis continued to speak, but the words did not reach her, muffled under the growing distance as the buzz of wings grew into an indistinct haze, and the light of the sun swirled in impossible patterns, and the sound of leaves in the wind ushered in a gust of fresh summer morning air, and the nonexistent world rocked beneath her nonexistent hooves, and the walls peeled and curled inward, and light, everywhere light, and--



Green eyes opened to the sight of golden-lit clouds drifting far above.

They closed again as Queen Chrysalis stretched luxuriously, a thin smile playing on her face. It seemed almost a shame to wake up, even if she knew she must. It had been such a pleasant dream.

Eventually she rose to her hooves and drew in a deep breath. The air was still crisp and fresh with dew as it drifted lazily through the tiny forest clearing, promising the kind of warm summer day ponies might describe as pleasant. In the distance the forest was starting to come to life, the sounds of birds chirping filtering through the tall trees and thick brush. She sighed, shaking off the lingering feeling of sleep, and then frowned as her eyes fell to the small bundle nearby. Unwrapping it revealed her breakfast, the usual ration of fungus harvested from the hive and lumped together into a crude clump, along with a few berries her scouts had collected during their travels. She levitated the rations, taking a bite. It wasn’t bad, but it was bland, and somewhat disappointing after dreams of Canterlot. Ponies might be soft and spoiled, but the occasional luxury could be excused.

With a small sigh she levitated the rest of the small breakfast and walked to the line of bushes that separated her chosen sleeping spot with the rest of the camp.

Stepping through the dew-dampened brush, her thin smile returned with the sight of the active camp, her changelings already awake and busy. It was a small gathering, a little less than twenty changelings strong, but they more than made up for any lack in numbers. Every single one had been hoof-picked and ready for a fight. Each was adorned in midnight-blue armor, save the few who were working on maintaining theirs. Most had spears, their edges sharp and gleaming in the pre-dawn light. Such weapons were poor at taking prisoners, but that was of little concern now. These soldiers would permit no threat to their queen.

The sharpening of weapons and caring for armor paused one-by-one, each changeling bowing its head as she strolled by, eager and excited grins showing beneath their helms.

One changeling stood apart, overseeing the small camp, and he approached Chrysalis. He had been the first one chosen for this outing. Elytron was an experienced and highly capable soldier and captain who had earned a position as one of her personal guard. Now he moved to her side as she walked, his head bowed in respect. “My queen.”

“Speak.”

His head rose again as he spoke. “The scouts have relayed several safe routes through the lands ahead, and are now ready to screen our advance. No opposing forces have been observed, and it appears that we remain unobserved. We are prepared to move on your command.”

She nodded curtly. “Good.”

There was no need to say anything else. Elytron nodded again as she continued on to the edge of the clearing, where the ground sloped away. Through the widening gap she could see the distant mountain and the city clinging to its side. Already the spires of Canterlot glowed with the rising sun, a regal and dominating symbol reigning over the countryside below.

Chrysalis hummed softly to herself as she finished her small breakfast, a small flurry of excitement growing in her gut at the sight of that City. She could practically taste the love from here.

The activity in the little camp slowly faded. What little gear her changelings had was packed up. There were no tents or other such wasted weight, only what little food and supplies they needed for their trip. One by one they gathered behind her, silent as she contemplated the distant city. Looking back, Chrysalis was met with the eager grins of her soldiers.

“Come, my loyal subjects,” she said, her grin growing sharp and predatory. “We have much to do.”

She spread her wings, and as one they took to the air, flying for Canterlot.