• Published 13th Sep 2014
  • 5,653 Views, 258 Comments

The Seventh Element - PaisleyPerson



Thestrals are thought extinct. But what will happen when one moves to Ponyville? Disguised as an earth pony, Acrylic does her best to fit in. Can she keep the secret, or will she expose her entire race?

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Chapter 24: Exposed

Chapter 24
Exposed

“No! Wait!” I bolted upright from sleep at the sound of Cadence’s voice. It was accompanied by loud crashes and sounds of a struggle. “P-please don’t hurt me.” I pounded on the barrier.

“CADENCE!” I screamed. “Are you okay?” My voice was drowned out by the ongoing clattering from the other side.

“No! Twilight, it’s me! Please, you have to believe me. I've been imprisoned like you and Acrylic both.”

“Acrylic’s here? What’ve you done with her?”

“What’s going on over there?” I demanded.

“Acrylic!”

“Twi?”

“I thought you had to go home because of Torchwood’s parents!”

“That was the imposter Cadence, remember?”

“So... this is the real one, then?”

“Now you’re catching on.”

“Are you sure?” Cadence answered for me.

“Sunshine, sunshine, ladybugs awake. Clap your hooves...” the Princess recited. It must have meant something between them, because Twilight even joined in to finish the poem off.

“...And do a little shake,” they ended.

“It is you! You remember me!”

“Of course I do! How could I forget the filly I loved to sit for the most?”

“What just happened?” I tried to joke. They didn’t answer; the changeling queen’s nasty cackle again echoed through the halls.

“How touching,” came the voice. “Too little, too late.”

“We have to get out of there,” Twilight declared.

“Do you think you can use your magic to break this wall down?” Cadence asked.

“It’s worth a shot. Acrylic, stand back.” I huddled in the corner, but suddenly realized that my wings were still visible. That must have been the fastest retraction I’d ever accomplished. A loud CRACK! followed by an earth shattering BOOM! rang in my ears. I opened my eyes to two figures silhouetted in the resulting dust cloud. There was no time to wait for it to settle. I jumped up and dashed between them.

“What are you waiting for? There’s no time!”

“We have to stop her,” Twilight concurred. With a nod of agreement between themselves, they followed me as we charged out into the rest of the crystal caves.

We had been running for a while, but I felt like we were in an infinity loop. The walls hardly changed, and I felt like we weren’t moving at all. Cadence and Twilight felt it too. Even the repeated clopping of our hooves repeated so many times was getting to us. Cadence had to break the silence. She just decided to do it in song.

...

“This day was going to be perfect,

“The kind of day of which I've dreamed since I was small.

“But instead of having cake

“With all my friends to celebrate

“My wedding bells, they may not ring for me at all...

...

“We must escape before it's too late;

“Find a way to save the day.

“Hope, I'll be lying if I say

"’I don't fear that I may lose him

“To one who wants to use him

“Not care for, love, and cherish him each day.’

...

“For I oh so love the groom,

“All my thoughts he does consume.

“Oh, Shining Armor, I'll be there very soon!”

...

“Oh, the wedding we won't make,

“He'll end up marrying a fake!

“Shining Armor will be… gone.”

...


We’d made it through seemingly never-ending tunnels, roller coaster mineshafts, and nearly fell into a deep dark abyss I nearly crashed down, but we’d finally made it. Or so we thought. The main entrance was blocked, but we were so close to the surface that the wedding organs could be heard from the palace ballroom.

“Mares and gentlecolts, we are gathered here today to witness the union of Princess Mi Amore Cadenza and Shining Armor,” Celestia began the ceremony.

“Oh, we’re never going to save him,” Cadence wailed. I was desperately looking for an exit, running up and down the narrow outcroppings along the wall while Twilight scouted from the larger platform.

“We will,” she assured. “We just have to find... there!” I jerked my head to finally spot the light about fifty feet away in the air.

“But how will we-” I started to protest. Before I could finish my sentence, Twilight’s teleportation spell engulfed us, landing everypony just in front of the exit. “You did it!” I gleefully squealed, twirling in my excitement. I scared myself for a moment; that sounded like something Pinkie Pie would do. I’d have to be more careful. But more importantly, when I finally made the full 360°, I turned right into the face of a hypnotized Colgate. Wasn’t she one of Cadence’s bridesmaids? Well, she used to be. Now all three bridesmaids’ eyes glowed green from changeling influence, and their voices sounded mechanical.

“You’re not going anywhere,” they all robotically chimed. Cadence quickly summoned a flower bouquet with her magic, and tossed it. Even under changeling control, the bridesmaids dove for the flowers. I almost laughed at the comical sight.

“Nice,” Twilight congratulated.

“Let’s go!” This time, Cadence led the charge back to the castle. No guards were outside; everypony was busy guarding the ballroom where the wedding itself was taking place.

“Princess Cadence and Shining Armor, it is my great pleasure to pronounce you–”

“Stop!” Twilight received many disappointed, astonished and disdainful glares as she charged into the ballroom, but those looks also changed to shock and horror when I slid to a stop beside her. Nervous chattering filled the room.

“Ugh! Why does she have to be so possessive of her brother?” Cadence’s imposter growled. Noticing Celestia’s perturbed expression, she changed tactics and pretended to sob. “Why does she have to ruin my special day?”

“Because it's not your special day! It's mine!”

“What? But how did you escape my bridesmaids?”

“Easy enough,” I snorted. “Even hypnotized bridesmaids still chase after the bride’s bouquet.”

“Hmph. Clever. But you're still too late.”

“I-I don't understand. How can there be two of 'em?” Applejack stuttered.

“She's a changeling. She takes the form of somepony you love and gains power by feeding off your love for them.” Chrysalis finally gave up her act. Those sticky green flames roared in a circle around her, engulfing Cadence’s form and reverting it back to the horrifying black body. Everything about her gave the impression of an insect; the buzzing, torn wings on her back, the iridescent shell to protect them, and even her metallic, clicking voice implied a cockroach.

“Right you are, Princess. And as queen of the changelings, it is up to me to find food for my subjects. 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!”

“They'll never get the chance!” Cadence shouted. “Shining Armor's protection spell will keep them from ever even reaching us!”

“Oh, I doubt that. Isn't that right, dear?”

“Mm-hmm,” Shining Armor mechanically hummed. Cadence was horrified, but then tried to run to her beloved. Chrysalis made sure that wasn’t going to happen.

“Ah, ah, ah. Don't want to go back to the caves, now do you? 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. He may not be my husband, but he is under my total control now.” Everypony in attendance gasped. “And I'm sorry to say, unable to perform his duties as captain of the Royal Guard.”

“Not my Shining Armor!” Cadence cried.

“Soon, my changeling army will break through. First, we take Canterlot. And then, all of Equestria!”

“No. You won't.” Celestia stepped forward. “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!” Her horn glowed to take Chrysalis on, and the changeling queen was forced to do the same. The odds looked unbalanced in Celestia’s favor, until a sudden burst of magic from Chrysalis sent the Princess flailing. Horn charred and crown displaced, she lay in a crumpled heap on the ballroom floor. Ponies began to panic.

“Princess Celestia!” Twilight rushed to the Princess’s side.

“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. You must get to them and use their power to defeat the queen,” Celestia gasped to her student. The six friends charged off without me; I wasn’t needed. With a sigh, I turned back to face the ancient menace. Perhaps I could make myself useful here?

“You can run, but you can't hide!” she screamed after them. The loud shattering that followed told me the protection bubble had been broken.

“Oh, no,” I gasped. Soon, Canterlot would be crawling with changelings. I tried bolting for the door, only to be swarmed by Chrysalis’s minions. Everypony finally lost it, running every which way in search of an escape route. I was among the unlucky number. Dragged to the side by the disgusting bug-creatures, I was tossed to the side with Cadence for personal judgment by the queen herself. When we offered resistance, our hooves were incased in revolting green goo. Celestia was given her own cocoon of the stuff. Cadence was held on the opposite side of the room as me so we couldn’t try helping one another to escape like the last time. She was also tortured with being mere feet away from her groom, just out of reach.

“You won’t get away with this,” she screeched. “Twilight and her friends will...” The doors banged open, and a changeling squadron deposited the elements of harmony, lacking their elements.

“You were saying?” Chrysalis sarcastically gloated. “You do realize the reception’s been cancelled, don’t you? Go! Feed!” Her subjects buzzed out the door, leaving us alone with Chrysalis and only one or two soldiers. “It's funny, really. Twilight here was suspicious of my behavior all along. Too bad the rest of you were too caught up in your wedding planning to realize those suspicions were correct!”

“Sorry, Twi. We should've listened to you,” Applejack groaned.

“It's not your fault. She fooled everypony.”

“Hmm, I did, didn't I?

...

“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 have it all?”

...

“I do.” All eyes turned to me.

“What? You? Ha! What can a simple earth pony like you do to stop me?”

“Who says I’m an earth pony?”

“What?” I looked over at my friends, tears in my eyes. Rainbow realized what I was about to do and motioned for me to stop.

“I’m sorry.” A tear dripped to the ground. “I’m so, so sorry.” My eyes turned to slits, and I let them glow. The piercing daggers were aimed at the unsuspecting Chrysalis. Heat welled up inside my chest, and I let it explode through my hooves. The white fire melted through the goo like tissue paper.

“WHAT?! You are a changeling! A traitor?” Chrysalis gasped. Then, like Torchwood taught me, I directed the flames with my mind to remove the gunk from Celestia and Cadence. The snapping of my bones couldn’t be heard over the roaring fire, but when the flames finally died down, the real me stood in their wake.

“No. I’m a thestral.”