• Published 1st Apr 2014
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Puppets of Tragedy - Iridescence T Wind

We all know the story, human from earth goes to Equestria from buying a mystical prop from a mysterious unnamed salesman to attend Comicon. But what you didn't expect was the prop to be a puppeteers crafting kit.

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Interlude: Battlefield

I was Ditzy Do, I had to remind myself that as I swung the halberd at yet another changeling that had stolen my face, clobbering it into the ground as if with a giant flyswatter as I passed by. They had a habit of it, for some reason, as if it would help or give pause to us. Having dealt with the Puppet Masters training course from hell, however, I could merely exhale in irritation at the cheap tactic and swing again as we passed by another group. Another two, the pressure of the halberd almost being yanked from my hooves as I dragged it through, sending another Changeling spiraling into the ground below as it joined the others. I couldn't help but admire the tenacity of Prince Blueblood as my gaze followed it, and then him.

Even surrounded five to one at a disadvantage they were pulling through somehow, four to one in the moments between the thoughts, as their pole-swords, as we had nicked name them, continued their work. Had our enemy skimped on arming up? It certainly seemed so, as the only weapons these changelings seemed to have brought was their magic, either hurling themselves as green meteors, or turning into large and strange predatory animals. It didn't matter though, I heaved a breathe in as I dove, bringing the halberd with me to crush a changeling that had gone ground side, the crack as his horn broke and skull cracked taking it with pain. They were easier to dodge than their instructors Mortar practice, and bare hoofed or as large animals, they weren't nearly as efficient or aware as Xanders puppets.

I pulled the halberd free of the injured changelings body, turning and facing more of them, raising it, I charged forward, and brought it swiftly down on another's shoulder, having aimed for the head, and allowing their dodge to carry it there. Fractured, and bruised, as I used the unfortunate changeling as a pole vault, carrying myself up enough to kick another in the face as my wings unfurled again, bringing me and my weapon aloft. One changeling tried to grab on, only to find the edge sharp, and quickly let go as I flapped again, carrying myself free of the mess. My thoughts continued, as I fell back into the trance of battle. In comparison to the puppets, whom seemed to have perfect awareness of each other, this swarm was as if a disorganized mob, using the tactics of fear from their race and sheer numbers to get ground where they could, which I had to appreciate meant that we were being their anti-thesis.

I dipped under a chasing soldier, my wingmates clobbering it in turn, as I rose my halberd and smacked another out of the air who was chasing them a second later, spiraling with the blow and bringing myself higher into the air. Both for a break, and to check on the surrounding environment. Prince Blueblood had brought Twilight and her fellow element bearers to the vault, and from the looks of it, we had effectively reduced the incoming swarm entering the place down to a trickle. I yelled out my orders, voice amplified by the enchantments in my armor, and the other Pegasai followed the commands, moving swiftly to interpose and clean up.

"How goes it Aerial Commander?" the familiar voice of a little girl said, and I swept around to point my weapon at her.

"Identifying Phrase." I spoke back.

"Bluebloods Snow Cone Surprise." Tanya, our primary bootcamp from hell instructor confirmed, "And you?"

"Surprises unexpected Bath." I retorted in turn.

The code phrases were confirmed, as they were based on mistakes we rookies had during our training segments. Blueblood had been buried by an Avalanche near the start, as the mortar explosions had caused a nearby mountain to shed its built up snow, and Surprise the pegasus had gotten a rude awakening one morning for staying asleep despite Tanya yelling at her by being dumped in a lake and told to fetch the 'ducks' around the place until she collapsed from exhaustion. With her nod, I responded, "Area is under control, and resistance is dropping. From the looks of it the castle is mostly secure, Luna and Starswirl have yet to call for reinforcement implying that the fighting isn't as bad over there as we expected it would of been. Commander Blueblood has taken the Element Bearers to their Elements, and from the looks of it..." I commented looking down at the ground with my lazy eye, as I peered the surroundings some more, "He is now exiting with them, just need to do an identity check, and we should be good to go!"

Tanya nodded back, "Bring the Element bearers to the wedding room as planned, I will be moving to engage the South western quarter with the rest of my men. Show them the might of Equestrias finest, commander."

"I wish you good hunting, Instructor Tanya, Ma'am." I returned the blessing, as the small child armed with the most peculiar weapon raced off, supported by neither wings nor wind, somehow. I almost felt sorry for the changelings as I reviewed the plan again.

Canterlot had been split into five sectors, dependent on the city itself. Canterlot was a city that wrapped itself around the mountain, and while incomplete, had been a slowly growing majesty to it that was now partially on fire. Originally it had been been divded evenly, starting from the north western corner and going down counter clockwise to the south eastern edge into four even quarters. The city itself stretched about four miles down the mountain, and the castle grounds itself had been labeled as a fifth, if egg shaped, zone due to the strategic import of it.

The Castle zone of Canterlot was the beating heart of the city, afterall. In it, was the magic colleges that every unicorn aspired to go to, the vaults of Canterlot, which housed the Elements of Harmony when they weren't in use, and the Gardens of Woe, as Xander had nicknamed it, a veritable prison of at least one major villain whom were now statues in the otherwise pleasant garden. The garden itself had been given a token guard, enough to keep changelings from passing through it, as it bordered the vault and the path it took to go between it and the castle proper. I had noted, worryingly, as one of the statues had cracked a small bit from the war, though I had no idea when it had happened, as I was too busy at the moment with the unending numbers the Changelings had been hurling onto the path to ask. Hopefully it wasn't something that a bit of grout couldn't fix, but that was neither here nor there.

I yelled out my next set of orders, as I dove towards the bridge below, we still had a decent amount of fighting left to do after all, and I had gained enough of a breather just being up here with my wing to continue. With a deep breathe and a war cry for the glory of Equestria, we descended back upon the crowd, aiming once again to clear the air around our escort mission. My wings pulled hard as we rose out of the dive, and used the momentum to carry us into and through the enemy swarm like hot knives through already warm butter. I was glad for the lack of slack, with that, as I knew instinctually that if I had tried to do that back before I had joined up, that would of likely had dislocated my wings at best, as is, it merely strained them as we tunneled through.

A shout was Bluebloods way of confirming he saw us, as we fought them, the code waiting until after we had cleared a proper path, as even our enchantment boosted voices would be lost to the din here. A party cannon, and magical lasers had joined our fighting force, and while the Party cannon had did little to harm, but rather stun the changelings, it was a welcomed distraction to follow up with far more incapacitating attacks.

I lost myself in the fighting, finding myself on more than one occasion back to back with the prince, as was our song and dance, I covering the immediate proximity with wide swings around us, and him ducking beneath my wide blows to jab at changelings like clockwork, injuring, maiming, and knocking unconscious those in our way. Instinct and trust won over numbers, as we all used team tactics, pegasai striking high and the unicorns blocking the low and hammering the middle of the combat heights home with shield and pole-sword. I lost count of how many bug-ponies I hit at some point, but I was panting, exhausted as we re-entered the castle, a shield spell coating the windows as the large doors swung shut on the sight of what must of been at least four hundred changelings our group of twenty unicorns, twenty pegasai and six civilians had taken on.

We took a half minute to breathe before marching on, we needed to keep going before the adrenaline wore off, Bluebloods command following in our first step. Soon it would all be over, and soon we would all celebrate with Cider and Smores! As was our units recently made tradition after winning a major battle! The distant booms and explosions in the distance were comforting, as we had all heard them over the weeks prior, of our hell and back. Though I had to wince at the chains around us as we strode deeper in. Shutting my wandering eye helped, but without the ability to gauge depths I'd have a hard time flying straight without bumping into things. I resolved myself to staying near Blueblood, halberd at the ready. A small joy in my heart that I hadn't messed anything up this far into the battle.

And through the halls we marched on, victory within my grasp.


I was a coward, I knew this. I hated fighting, ever since I had been a larva, and this chaotic war just seemed like the biggest mistake that our leader could of ever made. At first I had just tried to stay out of the way, capture and subdue those ponies who were isolated or too weak to fight back as gently as possible. But I had run out of those, and now had to hover on the border of the city as I watched fighting consume the city we had been meant to capture. Worst of all, I felt so lost that I couldn't identify anything that was going on.

The south eastern portion of the city was the nosiest. Some old man with blue skin and a white beard was freezing changelings by the dozen and hurling large boulders of ice in the shape of lightning bolts at massed groups while cackling madly as if insane. A Turtle reinforced him, with an army of smaller turtles and other odd creatures that defied anything he had seen before, like walking mushrooms and strange cubes that growled and hurled themselves in straight lines at incredible speeds. He could of sworn he saw an iron ball with a chain trailing behind it whose entire body was a mouth and two impossible eyes on its side as it mangled a changeling, and that wasn't even the worst of it. Completing the monsters as a trio, was some sort of inky black tree-man who was constantly changing their shape enough to make us look like amateurs all the while shouting insultingly bad puns at us. And if that wasn't enough the thing did all that while hurling brother and sisterlings around the place like rag dolls.

The Direct south of the city was no better, as while our Queen was there, so too was the Puppet Master, a force of nature in himself, who seemed to be able to duplicate himself, and pull all sorts of overkill tricks out of his sleeves one after the other. While the fighting over there was the most stable for the changeling army, I couldn't help but note that more and more of us were collapsing from the drain of energy, as Queen Chrysalis took from them to supplement her own magic while fighting him.

Worst off had been the western portion of the city, which had gone quiet, a giant mechanical clock on spider legs was navigating itself through the city streets, slowly inching its way now through the south western portion, which was fighting now both the explosions and the swarms of mechanical creatures that came out of the giant clock. Scarily, not a changeling could be seen from behind the clocks advance, which implied that they had taken complete dominance of the entire area.

I debated leaving, flying towards the edge, and pausing in flight. This would be desertion, and I had no idea how my brothers and sisters would react if by an off chance we won this somehow. Attacking seemed like suicide, and leaving meant exile. So I resolved myself to the next best thing, flying down low to the ground, I disguised myself as a large rock among someponies stone garden, and decided to wait out the rest of this war. It was the most viable strategy I could come up with, and if it worked, Hopefully they would call it the Thorax maneuver in a Changeling history book someday. But I just really wanted to cry. I felt moments later, my Queens pull, seeking energy, and gave her all I could spare without endangering myself before cutting the link myself.


I, Luna, Princess of the Moon, dreams, and all it entailed, was bored with this. Having been alerted beforehand, the ambush of Changelings had fallen short, though ended up irritating as they had somehow replaced all of my furniture with infiltrators. Which was a shame, since I had just finally broken in my bed, and would now need to break up a new one, as there had been no signs of where they had taken my mattress, or bed frame for that matter, at all. While their struggling was amusing at first, there was only so many changelings one could bash with a shield spell or shoot with a sleep inducing arrow before one grew tired with the endless swarm tactics they employed.

Starswirl was in a similar boat, but with spells instead of brute force. None of the changelings dared to approach the stallion physically after he had set one aflame with his still flaming beard, and as boorish as it had been, it had still been the highlight of the day so far, as Starswirl and I methodically cleared the tower of pests. Mayhaps I had expected too much from them, considering they had tried knocking me and mine guards out with sleeping poisons in the food and water supply. While Xander had been kind enough to save my forces from such a disgrace, and provide an alternative breakfast, I had to admit I was mildly disappointed.

In a way, I thought, as an arrow belatedly nailed a changeling between the eyes, sending him into a slumber for the next good portion of three days... I sort of wanted to team up with Xander, Master of Puppets again. The fact he was across the castle didn't seem like much, but it made my mood foul, for some reason that I couldn't. The strategy had called for me staying where I was, unless I wanted to spook the queen of these bugs out of Canterlot, and turn a handy victory into a costly narrow one.

I looked out the window as another wave of changelings were reduced to sleep, taking a view of Chrysalis and Xander battling to the south. He had revised his battle tactics massively since the battle with Android 21, but even then Chrysalis was no Android, and I frowned as I watched Chrysalis disintegrate a copy of Xander, wielding a musical instrument no less, with a beam attack. In all honesty, aside from her reserves of magic, the Queen of changelings wasn't that impressive. She was good with a blade, but her spells were too small scale to pose a real threat in the open.

I thought back to the strategy meeting, and how her sister was to lose the duel. It only made sense that the duel was lost due to the risk of civilian collateral, as manipulating the sun required far more power over the course it took to move it by several magnitudes larger than whatever it was Chrysalis was doing. But there lay the double edge sword. Her sister had always been about area and density explosions in her magic than a refined technique required for interior combat. It seemed some things never changed even after a thousand years. I snorted, remembering why I chose the grounds of our castle as well when I had rebelled. While the Elements of Harmony had showed me my place back then, and I had been absolutely awful, the same idea had come into play regarding trying to overthrow mine sister. The castle staff being behind the walls, had meant Celestia couldn't of fired her typical array of spells without burning someone else alive on accident.

I at least, had the practice for dueling, unfortunately. Another flood of arrows cleared the hallway I was sitting in, as I chewed on that. I was absolutely an awful pony for being adept at indoor fighting, acting like a spoiled brat that I had been back when. Getting into fights to be noticed, when I was already noticeable as a princess of the moon... But, it was my fault, for the scorn of my position. My atonement for not putting up with the words back then, for not being friendly to those who were being mean to me, and trying to make friends with those who didn't, not couldn't, understand me.

For some reason, that thought didn't feel right. But as quickly as I thought it, and the feeling, both faded away. I'd need to up the ante with my Tantabus, make sure that I never made those mistakes again. I recomposed myself, marching my way now, back up the tower, to clear out more changelings that were trying to rise their sleeping fellows, Unfortunate for them, to be added to my pile. Starswirl was still hanging in there, with most of my guard, I teleported one out of the way of being captured, and slapped the offending changeling to a wall with another magically constructed wall taking him and twelve others out of the battle by being squashed unconscious. A small bit of me inside said that had been too much and overkill for what I just did, and I agreed, naturally. A bit more guilt to resolve later, and I hated this. Why couldn't we all just talk and be friends with the emotion eating insect ponies?

I sighed, steeling myself and redirecting arrows through windows to the outside to knock out offending changelings from approaching, Was this war my fault? It felt like it with the guilt slowly crushing my heart, pity and empathy for these bugs who were pulling my heartstrings so-... No... they were invading us, to capture and enslave both me, mine sister, and our citizens as a form of cattle... No offense to the cows... They had brought this onto themselves, right? The guilt weighed heavily, and I wasn't sure why. For some reason, my mind flashed to the Tantabus again, perhaps I needed a second one after this, I was unsure, a matter of personal debate later on.

My mind flashed to Xander, again, the strangely warm smile in his dream scape, the small look of sadness, as if he had his own unresolved issues he had been hiding away in the filing cabinet themed room of stories his mind took him to. My resolve hardened, a fair bit with the thought of the soft, sad smiles and warm comforts he had offered, the thoughts outweighing for a moment, the crushing guilt. I didn't deserve happiness, in my opinion, but he did, perhaps. My thoughts idly knocked out a straggler changeling as I took a seat on one of the many piles of bug ponies that now littered the halls.

When I thought of him, my heart weighed on me in a strange different way, than my guilt did, as if it was pulling me up, and into the air, instead of towards the ground. He had been nothing but kind, and considerate and I had used him as a shoulder, no a crutch to lean on this entire time. It was the highlight of my day to talk to him after I woke up for my nightly duties, and I had it on good authority, that despite the wretch that I was, that he enjoyed my company as well. I sighed, wondering when the next wave would attack as I pondered him.

As a villain, he had done crimes that would invalidate him as a romantic partner, but now he had been pardoned, and better yet, crowned an emperor of two other nations that dwelt in or around Equestrias borders. Given a short period of stability, he would no longer be an alienating choice, but by then he'd likely have found an Empress to rule by his side. My heart ached for that thought, and I had to take a deep breathe to calm myself before it sank further.

Would it be wrong for me, regardless of expectation, to ask for his favor, though? While I was used to the idea of being courted, would it be acceptable if I courted him? What if he rejected me? Despite being a princess, I knew I was undesirable as a lover. My job was nocturnal in nature, and my past was unforgivable, but there wasn't that sort of weight with him. It was like he had roughly shoved the idea that I had been an evil being, rumored to eat children and swallow ponies whole, and threw it down a trashcan before talking to me as a person. I shook my head to clear myself from dwelling on it, looking to the window again, to observe the scene.

I'd ask him on a date, I owed it to him, if not myself. See if things worked out, or give him the choice at least. At minimum, if he said no like I thought he would, there would be a resolution to this conflict in me, and I'd be able to get over it. I stood up from the impromptu seat, striding to the window to get another view, and my heart began to sink again, at what I saw. A sense of dread overtaking me, as I all but threw myself out the window, leaving a startled Starswirl the bearded behind me to aid in cleaning up, as I hoped dearly that I wouldn't be too late.

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