• Published 15th Sep 2014
  • 5,827 Views, 335 Comments

The Humans in Equestria Club - billymorph

With a over a hundred humans in Equestria and rising it’s Alexis’ job to keep them safe and sane. But with two worlds colliding she finds herself facing mad gods and queens to save her home.

  • ...

Chapter 4: Looking Glass

The final count was thirty-three. Just so you know.

That was thirty-three new humans in Equestria. Twelve more ponies for Swift's flying lessons. Nine more introductions to horn care. A record-setting crossing where an entire family of seven stumbled through. Three more cases where ‘So you’re a mare now’ was a desperately needed guide. Two more gryphons, adding fuel to a smouldering diplomatic fire. And a zebra; which at least helped fill out our species diversity card. Far more worrying was the fact Crystal Cog’s stunt had got my mug on YouTube and, while no one had deliberately reached Equestria yet, I doubted that would last.

It was safe to say that it had not been an easy week. Twilight had informed me, by written note, that the barrier had been stabilized and that we could expect no more rushes of Club members, but that still left me with thirty confused and distraught ponies to council, and house, and feed, which was rapidly becoming a major issue. That didn’t even include the ongoing trouble I was having getting the changelings enough emotion to survive, and the fact that the Barn still weren’t talking to me, and that Star Charge was agitating for my dismissal -- again -- or that the entire town had been giving me the evil eye for making Twilight cry.

Oh, and there was one more irritant.

“Please Alex,” Swiftwing begged, hovering around my head.

“No,” I snapped, picking my way around a particularly vicious vine that wound out of the Everfree proper and across the narrow trail. There were times when I wished Zecora lived in a safer neighborhood, but my stress induced headache was bad enough for me to brave the depths of the wood. Though with hindsight I should also have picked up some pegasi repellent.

“Please Alex,” the turquoise mare repeated. “Come on. Help a pegasister out.”

I shot her an incredulous look. “I don’t believe that’s a word.”

“Your Club was using it,” she protested, then shook her head. “That’s not important, though. You have to teach me!”

Another deadpan glare was her reward. I gestured to my heavily bandaged wings. “And how exactly do you expect that to happen? I’m grounded.” And would be for some time, if you believed the doctors. I’d torn out most of my flight feathers during my desperate race against Dash and until they grew back I would be both bereft of the air and the aether.

“Who cares!” Swiftwing exclaimed, throwing her forelegs into the air and sinking to the ground. “You broke the Wall. You broke the bucking Wall, Alex!”

I cocked my head at the overly dramatic pegasus. “What wall?”

She shook her head in disgust. “What wall,” she grumbled. “The Wall! The Wall that separates you from an Weekend Wing and puts you in the big league. The Wall that, if you push through it, gets you on any weather team in the country, no questions asked. The Wall that every pegasus dreams of blowing through and leaving her opponents in the dust and you... you shattered it!”

“And buggered my wings,” I pointed out, again, gesturing at the bandaged limbs.

Swiftwing landed near ontop of me in her haste, and I got a face full of green mane. “Come on Alex, please!” she begged, grabbing me by the shoulders and shaking me. “You can have the first shower. You can have my first born. Just teach me!”

“Fine, fine!” I snapped, shoving her away. “I’ll tell you everything I know.”

“Yes!” Swiftwing cheered, punching the air. “Okay.” She dropped into a low hunker, wings extended as far as possible between the trees. “So, I’ve always imagined you need to keep your wings swept forwards when you break the wall. Kind of powering through the barrier. Lots of aether ramming forwards to-”

I pushed her wing out of the way and kept walking down the path.

“Okay, first, I wasn’t paying the slightest bit of attention to my wings.” Swiftwing’s jaw dropped. “And it’s not about pushing through a barrier. You have to... Think like an aeroplane, start using your magic to push, rather than your wings and then-”

“Wait, wait, wait, wait,” Swiftwing interjected, trotting to catch up. “You didn’t think about your wings? How in the hay do you fly without thinking about your wings? That’s number one on the list of things you need to do to fly.”

I rolled my eyes. Swiftwing, like most teachers, made a terrible student.

“Look, to go that fast you have to stop thinking about it like flight,” I persisted. “It’s more like rocket science. You have to build a spell that- well, you have to push with magic rather than-” Swiftwing gave me a rather blank look and I slumped. I may have also made a terrible teacher.

“Okay, let’s try something else,” Swift interjected, leaping over my head and striking another spread winged pose. “Spitfire has this thing called the Eagle Claw. She uses it out of the blocks to get up to hundred plus speeds faster than anypony. Did you use that? Or, or!” She leapt into the air and stretched both sets of legs as far forwards or backwards as they could go. “Did you copy Dash’s aether spike. Okay, so that's more of a Rainboom prep and you got nowhere near that but-”

I held up a hoof to silence her. “Look, Swiftwing. I honestly wasn’t doing any secret technique. I was imagining what I wanted to happen based off of what I read in a book.”

Swiftwing dropped to the ground and shot me a look of utter disdain. “Really, Alex?” she asked, cocking her brow and continuing incredulously. “You read it in a book?”

Rolling my eyes I stopped. “Yeah, some ponies use them to learn things.”

“Urgh.” Swiftwing made a face, scowling. “Typical. It’s just my luck. I’m finally friends with somepony that can break the magic hundred limit and she flies using her mind.”

The pegasus leapt into the air and, without another word, flew off in a huff.

I shook my head. So much for escorting me through the Everfree. I shrugged and continued down the winding road.

It took just a few more minutes to reach the edge of the forrest. Not enough time for anything truly nasty to sneak up on me, though I had to keep my wits about me to avoid the patch of poison joke that had sprung up in the half hour since I’d been down the path. The nasty little plant had a strong reaction to Club members to say the least; something to do with Discord’s adaptation spell and a chaos magic overload.

At last free of the trees, I took a deep breath of the cool autumnal air. It was a rather grey day; the pegasi were keeping the worst of the rains away until the last of the harvests could be gathered, but it looked like they were fighting a losing battle. Weather control, I was told, was more art than science, and judging by the sky it was going to be a lightning bolt symphony by the evening.

I shook my head. Glancing at my mental lists, I took stock of what I had to do. Big on there was the Club meeting later in the day, which would be less than fun with Crystal Cog, Star Charge and I in a three corner war. I’d managed to put off the disaster of a meeting by a week, what with still being in the hospital after my jaunt to Earth, but the Club still had a job to do. I couldn’t just avoid the issue indefinitely.

Sighing, and with a weary patter to my trot, I continued with my list. Just as disagreeable, I had to check on the changelings to make sure that disaster hadn’t got any worse since tuesday, and then do the rounds of the town to drag the less sociable members of the Club to the meeting. And while I was out and about-

My thoughts were interrupted by Angel Bunny flying past my muzzle.

I caught the airborne lapine through more luck than skill and lowered him to the ground. He shook his fist wildly back the way he’d come, kicked the ground and then hopped off, leaving me standing bemused on the path.

Sighing, I followed after him.

It looked like I was going to be late.

Fluttershy’s cottage was the epitome of chaos-

Sorry. That should read, ‘the epitome of chaos, was at Fluttershy’s cottage’. Specifically, Discord was sitting in the garden drinking T with Fluttershy. Yes, the letter. I don’t think I can adequately explain how much just standing near the draconequus, made me want to simultaneously throw up and facehoof so hard I scooped out my brain.

“Oh my!” Discord exclaimed, spotting me through a set of opera glasses. “If it isn’t the mare of the hour herself.”

In a single, sinuous motion the draconequus flicked through the air, picked me up in one arm, dragged me kicking over a dozen yards in the blink of an eye, and deposited me at the picnic table.

Fluttershy tittered, as I tried to catch my bearings. She, unlike Discord, had a proper tea set before her though, for reasons I couldn’t understand, she was also wearing a set of false mouse ears. Angel Bunny hopped onto the table, dressed in a waistcoat, and doing his best to ignore the silly proceedings.

“So glad you could join us, Alice dear,” Discord continued, pulling a large top hat out of his sleeve and affixing it firmly atop his head.

With growing dread I looked down to see that, while distracted, I’d been placed in a frilly white and blue dress. To be fair to Discord, it was a rather flattering cut, probably; I’m not great on pony fashions.

I cocked a brow at him. “Really?”

“Respect the classics, dear,” Discord said, with a haughty flick of his head.

“Save me, Fluttershy. Please," I begged.

“Oh, it’s not so bad,” she replied, smiling softly, adjusting the false ears. “It’s just his way of saying he likes you.”

“Indeed I do!” Discord exclaimed, suddenly right next to me and pressing his face against mine. “After all, I just know we’re going to be the very best of friends.” He lifted the corners of my cheeks into a wide grin.

I gritted my teeth and scowled. “Take your hands away, or I will take them away,” I snarled.

Between heartbeats Discord was back in his chair, holding up his empty paws. “No hands,” he pointed out.

I tore the two manikin hands out my mouth and hurled them away. Snorting in irritation I rounded on Discord, who was whistling innocently, musical notes bubbling away into the sky. For a moment I considered bucking him into next week, then an idea struck and a wicked grin spread across my face.

“Hey, friend,” I began, false sweetness layering my voice. “Perhaps, as a good buddy of mine, you could help me live up to a promise.”

Discord puffed himself up. “Why of course, dear Alice, anything for friendship. Just ask and you shall receive.”

I pointed a hoof at the ground a ponylength away. “Just stand there for a moment.” Discord, for once in his life obliged, and, not letting the false smile slip I took up position before him.

Then in a flurry of motion I whirled round and kicked him as hard as I could.

“My nuts!” Discord exclaimed, with a keening wail.

My grin now decidedly of the self satisfied sort, I turned to survey the damage. Discord, far from being doubled over in pain though, was fishing around in a small cloth bag. Pulling out shards of shattered wallnut out he devoured his freshly crushed snack.

“Thank you, Alice,” he continued, stuffing his face without the faintest trace of awareness that I’d just tried to emasculate him. “I always struggle to open these for some reason.”

I shot him another glare. “I really hate you, you know that.”

“Alex,” Fluttershy chided, the buttercup pegasus fixing me with her harshest look. Which before you laugh, was still enough to make me hang my head. “Discord is trying to be friendly.”

Letting loose a weary sigh, I took back my seat at the table and poured myself a cup of tea. “Not everyone can be friends,” I pointed out.

“See, that’s what I said to old Sunny Butt,” Discord continued, blithely unaware of Fluttershy giving him a long suffering stare. “But if I can be friends with one pony, I can be friends with anypony. I even have a list.”

He unrolled a long scroll, titled ‘Twilight Sparkle’s Friendship Algorithm’. “Now where was I... Ah, here swapping stories.” He looked over at me expectantly; after a few moments where I met his mismatched gaze, he shook his head and sighed. “I guess I’ll start. Ask me anything, dear Alice.” He pulled open his chest to reveal the text underneath. “I am an open book.”

My headache was rapidly reaching a crescendo. I grumbled to myself for a moment. “Fine. Whatever...” I cast around for a question. “Okay, do you sound like John de Lanice because he voices you on the show, or does he voice you on the show because he sounds like you?”

It was a -- semi -- serious question. Everypony else sounded different, albeit subtly, from their voice actor, but Discord was dead on all the time. It was bizarre.

“Oh Alice, you should know better than to ask questions like that,” Discord exclaimed, chortling to himself. “It’s like asking, ‘which came first, the pegasus or the egg?’”

“Pegasi don’t-”

I shut the hell up. No way was I completing that sentence. Discord looked on eagerly for a moment, before slumping.

“Oh you’re no fun,” he sighed, lifting a very large polkadotted egg out from under his hat. I had to repress a shudder.

“Discord,” Fluttershy chided.

He shrugged. “What? It’s chocolate.” He gave the egg a knock, resulting in a hollow thunk, then he threw it over his shoulder. There was a low rumble as it took off like a cannonball towards Ponyville.

Pinkie Pie had been standing in the middle of the street for some time, staring at the sky. Nopony had plucked up the courage to ask why, partly because getting a straight answer from Pinkie Pie was like getting sunshine on Rainbow Dash’s day off, but mostly because her tail had been twitching non-stop and nopony was brave enough to get close.

The peace was suddenly split by a crack-boom that sent ponies diving for cover. With a slight twitch of her head the pink pony snatched the ballistic egg out of the air, then turned and bounced away, humming a happy tune to herself with the chocolate treat clasped between her lips.

The residents of Ponyville collectively shook their heads and moved on with their lives. There was no explaining Pinkie Pie.

I looked around suddenly. “What the heck was that?”

“Oh just a cut-away,” Discord explained, waving it away. “Pay no heed.”

I rubbed my throbbing temples. “Discord, please, just, leave me alone.”

“Alice, how could I just abandon a new friend to the vagaries of this cruel, cruel world?” Discord demanded, looking hurt.

“You are the vagary of this cruel, cruel world,” I shot back, jabbing a hoof at him. Discord mimed being shot in the heart. “And we are not friends. We will never be friends!”

“Oh you wound me dear Alice-”

“Alex!” I roared, at long last, slamming my hooves on the table and rattling the crockery. “My name is Alexis, and you will damn well use it!” For a moment Discord seemed stunned... then the Discord-shaped cardboard cutout fell over to reveal behind it the draconequus rolling on the floor laughing.

“Mercy,” he exclaimed, tears of mirth streaming from his eyes. “Mercy. You are just too much.”

I slumped onto the table, resisting the urge to sob. It was like spitting into the wind.

“Discord,” Fluttershy snapped, with something resembling real force. “That was not a very nice thing to do to a friend at all.”

“Oh, very well,” Discord sighed, pouting as he, once again, resumed his place at the table. He held out a paw before my nose. “Truce?”

I scowled at him. “You know what? No! No truce.” I batted the paw away and raised up, with my forehooves on the table. “I hate you Discord. You are the sole reason my entire life for the last two months has been an utter farce. The reason I am in this stupid body, in this stupid world, with a stupid doomsday clock hanging over my head. There is nothing, nothing, that would make make we want to do anything but smash your miss-matched teeth in!”

Discord gave me a slow round of applause. “Well done Alice, at least a six on the megalomaniacal rant scale there,” he continued, holding up a scorecard. “Next time though you need really to work on your ending. Start denouncing wildly, don’t just keep things on a single target. I can definitely see the potential that won you our award, though.”

“Wh-” I began, then realised there was a heavy weight on my chest. Looking down there was a large, gold medal, on a silk ribbon around my neck. “For services rendered to chaos and disharmony,” I read. “‘The Made a Princess Cry Award’ - Discord!”

“That is enough,” Fluttershy cut in, fixing us with a glare. “From both of you. Alex, Discord is just trying to be friendly, and you will apologize.”


She fixed me with a stare. I couldn’t meet it for even a moment.

“Fine,” I sighed. “Discord, I am sorry.” You’re alive.

“Likewise,” he agreed. “In fact. A gift!” He plucked a golden ticket out of thin air. “For you, dear Alex.”

Well at least he got my name right that time.

With all due caution I took the ticket out of the air.



“Discord!” I roared. I hurled myself across the table at him, only to be stopped short by Angel Bunny who grabbed onto my tail and hauled me back. That turned my enraged leap into an elaborate procedure to smack my jaw on the table.

“Son of a--!” I swore, clasping my jaw. Angel hopped up my back and onto the table, where he wagged a finger at me.

“Urgh, how is this my life?” I groaned, covering my eyes with my hooves.

“Discord, this isn’t a nice gift at all,” Fluttershy pointed out, reading the ticket.

Discord rolled his eyes. “It’s just a little prank,” he pointed out.

“Well pranks aren’t supposed to make other ponies feel worse about themselves,” Fluttershy countered, fluttering into the air to get on eye level to the draconequus. “You have been terribly rude to Alex this whole time.”

“But she-”

“No buts, mister,” Fluttershy interrupted, hooves on hips. “Alex may have not been very nice either, but that’s no reason for you both to sink to the same level.”

I winced. It’s generally a bad sign when Fluttershy has anything bad at all to say about you.

“Oh, very well,” Discord sighed, then turned to me. With a snap of his fingers the frilly nightmare of a dress (though not my medal) vanished in a puff of logic, and he gave me a deep bow, sweeping his hat from his head. “Alex, allow me to sincerely apologize for my behavior.”

I cocked my brow at him. “Seriously?”

He looked up. “Oh yes,” he said, with a mischievous grin. “In fact! I have just the idea for an apology. A boon!”

“A what?”

“A gift,” he repeated, leaping to his feet. “Any gift in fact. You must simply ask for it. Any gift, at any time.”

I frowned. “This seems like a monkey's paw,” I pointed out.

Discord gave a quick check of his paws. “Not at all. See, no monkeys here, after all I’m reformed don’t you know? But you don’t have to make your wish now, simply call when you have need of it, and I’ll be there.”

“Psh, that’ll be the day,” I muttered. Discord just continued to smile, as if laughing at a private joke.

“Well it has been lovely, Fluttershy, but I really must be off,” Discord announced suddenly. Pulling Angel out of his pocket, the furious rabbit clasped around a gold pocket watch, the draconequus checked the time. “I’m running late, you see, to a race with the Red Queen.”

Ah, so that was why Angel was in a waistcoat. You’ve got to admit, when Discord grabs a theme he runs all the way with it. Without another word Discord ran on the spot for a few moments and then, without moving, seemed to recede into distance in final assault on my sense of reality.

I let out a sigh of relief and let myself, at last, sample the tea. It was very good, even if my nerves had been jangled beyond all repair by my brush with chaos.

“Are you okay, Alex?” Fluttershy enquired, settling down opposite me.

“Oh sure, I just got mocked by the spirit of disorder. I’m having a great day.”

Fluttershy shrunk back a little, hiding behind her mane. “Umm, I meant, is your jaw okay?”

I rubbed my chin. Much to my surprise it didn’t hurt in the slightest. “Huh, apparently yes. One point in Discord’s favour I guess.”

“He can be very nice when he puts his mind to it,” Fluttershy admitted, a fond smile on her lips. “He just doesn’t know how most of the time.”

I sighed. Well that feeling I could sympathise with. “Urgh, now you’ve got and made me feel sympathetic,” I groused, making a face as I toyed with my ‘Made a Princess Cry’ medal. After a long pause. “Is Twilight ever going to forgive me for yelling at her?”

Fluttershy cast her eyes down, rolling her empty cup around on her hoof. “Well... She was very upset.”

“And I was very much a jerk,” I agreed. “I probably should apologize to her when I get the chance.”

“Oh, no, I wouldn’t do that,” Fluttershy cut in, softly. I blinked in surprise. “You see,” she continued, looking back down at the table. “Twilight is a fixer. She’ll have a big plan for making you forgive her for letting the jet get through the barrier. If you don’t go along with it she’ll get all stressed and try even harder to get it right.”

“I’m not sure Twilight is the one who’s supposed to be apologising,” I pointed out.

Fluttershy didn’t say anything to that. More silence passed between us. “Still,” she began at last, “just let her apologise first. Before you do. That way everypony will be happy.”

I shook my head. “Well, it’s better than my previous plan.” Fake my death and run away to Appleloosa. “Thanks Fluttershy; and for the tea.” I stood to go, the medal thunking against my chest.

“Umm.” I looked down. “Any chance I can leave this with you? I don’t think I’ll be too popular around town wearing this.”

Fluttershy smiled. “I have a closet of all the things Discord leaves. You can keep it there.”

It took me ten minutes to get out of that closet. Have I mentioned yet just how much I hate Discord? I was seriously contemplating using that boon to give him a wedgie, but felt that would backfire spectacularly, somehow.

Gritting my teeth I skirted around Ponyville. To the north west, where Ponyville proper ended but the Everfree had not yet begun, a single tent was pitched. The grass around it had been charred by fire, the fabric itself was a mismatch of coloured patches, and nothing but the breeze stirred its folds, but the tent was, blessedly, still occupied.

“Hello there!” I called out, trotting closer. A pair of rose coloured eyes watched me from the recesses of the entrance. It turned and vanished into the gloom and, feeling like an extra in an Aliens movie, I followed after it.

Inside was dim, but not unhomely. Low tables, flower filled vases and mountains of pillows filled the space. And changelings of course. Everywhere the drones lay, watching me with their alien eyes, but beyond the door guard none moved. At the very centre Queen Rose stood. She had gained a lot of colour over the last few weeks, her carapace slowly taking on the familiar black tones of the changelings, but they had not been easy weeks. She looked listless, her mane hanging limp and untended, and for a moment she eyed me with what can only be described as hunger.

She shook herself quickly enough, and smiled warmly. “Alex, so good of you to visit.”

“Rose,” I replied. “I thought I’d come and see how you were doing.”

“We’re surviving, that’s the best I can say,” Rose sighed. “Please, sit.” She gestured at an unoccupied pair of pillows, twice the size of a pony.

I sank down into one, half lying on my back, half sitting up in the human style. “These are new,” I observed, doing my best to make conversation.

“Well, we’ve been doing a lot of sleeping,” Rose admitted, sinking down next to me, then cocked her head. “Isn’t that uncomfortable?”

“A little,” I admitted, shrugging. In fact my wings were protesting the rough treatment. “But you know, I like to live in denial sometimes.” Rose smiled, sympathetically. “As I’m sure everypony in the club will appreciate.”

“And everyling,” Rose added, grinning.

“Oh god. I’m going native,” I grumbled, rubbing my eyes. “Soon I’ll be giving ponies a hoof, no matter how stupid that sounds.”

Rose sighed. “Well, far be it for me to tell you how lucky you are...” She trailed off.

“Right, yeah. I can’t really hold a candle to what you guys are going through,” I agreed, shaking my head. “I’m supposed to be making sure you and your hive are all okay.”

Rose held up a pitted hoof. “Please Alex, don’t worry about making this work. I- I don’t get many visitors these days, and I’d prefer to think of you as my friend rather than my social worker.”

I snorted; I pretty much was the Club’s social worker, but I got the point. “Sure, what would you like to talk about?”

“Well... how fare the new arrivals?” Rose asked, hesitantly.

“Urgh, not terrible,” I admitted, grudgingly. “I’m getting lots of practice with my, ‘Welcome to Equestria Speech’, at least. At least they aren’t caught between Cog and I.”

“You really should have hit him again,” Rose muttered.

I let loose a bitter laugh and shook my head. “Half the Club wants to shake me by the hoof, the other half wants to run me out of town.” Rose’s face fell. “Right, sorry, poor choice of words there.”

“Well, at least they’ll have cleared all the monsters out of town, then,” the queen sighed, and there were a few angry chitters from the scattered drones that sent shivers down my spine. “And that was uncalled for. Great.”

I put a forehoof on her shoulder, and summoned my best reassuring smile. “Don’t worry about it. It’s been a rough week for everyone.”

Rose pushed me off, not meeting my eye. “A week that doesn’t look like it will end soon. I would offer you my support, but I fear it would do little beyond making things harder for you.”

“Rose, you don’t need to help me in the slightest,” I assured her. “This is my mess, and I’ll figure it out on my own, eventually. Are you going to come to the meeting today?”

She hissed. “Not while that former bitch, Amelia is still demanding my head.” Her mane flashed with red fire for a moment. “I’m not partial to draining ponies into emotionless husks but for her I’ll make an exception.”

“Might want to keep that thought to yourself,” I observed, after a long moment’s silence.

“Argh!” Queen Rose snapped, standing and pacing down the length of the tent. “I didn’t want to say that. We’re just... hungry. And it makes it so hard to think rationally, sometimes.”

“I hear we might be able to arrange a pick-me-up from Princess Cadance...” I began, keeping a wary eye on the rest of the swarm, who were paying far more attention all of a sudden, and the kind of attention one would pay to a juicy steak, not a trusted friend.

“A sop,” Rose snarled, rounding on me. “What, the Princess is going to camp in Ponyville to keep a hive of monsters fed? Bah! I need food Alex. I need it regularly. I need ponies that accept us otherwise we’re going to have to start taking what we need.”

Slowly, so as not to provoke attack, I got to my feet. “Rose. I think you need to calm down,” I said, in a very measured tone. “We’re not that desperate yet.”

Rose paused, and took a deep, shuddering breath. “No,” she hissed. “But we’re close. God we’re close.” A shudder ran down the length of her frame. “I can hear them. Charlie and Thomas. They’re hungry. They don’t understand any more why we can’t feed anymore. They’re too stupid.” She spat the word. “To realise there’s more than just brute force in this world.”

She snarled at one of the nearby drones, and it backed away, belly pressed flat to the ground in submission. A moment later she rounded on me.

“Alex,” she snapped, pulling herself up to her full height. “You’re backing away.”

Indeed, I had made it almost to the exit during her rant, and for a moment, I entertained the notion of just running for it. Unfortunately, changelings could fly and, with my wings in bandages, I doubted I’d make it halfway to town before the worst happened. I sighed. Also, I had a responsibility.

“Yeah, I am,” I told her, looking Rose straight in her rose-red eyes. “Because you are terrifying me.”

Rose glowered at me for a moment, and I wondered whether I couldn’t have come up a few better last words, then, like someone had pulled a plug, all the rage seemed to drain out of her. The queen collapsed heavily onto a nearby cushion, a few drones clustering protectively around her.

“Sorry,” she whispered, tears welling in her eyes. “It’s hard to think sometimes.”

I shook my head. There was really nothing I could say. I barely understood what Rose was going through, let alone knew what was going on in that shared mind of the swarm, enough to offer comfort.

Stepping forwards, I braved the hostile glares of the drones, and put a foreleg over Rose’s shoulders.

“I just-” she began, then shook her head. “I wish-

The world leapt around me.

My hooves were in the wrong place, somehow. I’d gone from an odd lean to standing straight in an instant and, for a moment, my brain rebelled against the strange leap, sending me stumbling. I tried to flare my wings out for balance, but they were still bound, and I fell to the floor, letting out a keening wail of pain as I crushed the abused limbs between my body and the forest floor.

“Oh dear, I should have told her to watch her step,” Amelia purred.

For a moment I thought I’d been teleported. We were no longer in the Changeling’s Parlor, but in some forgotten grove of trees, deep in the Everfree, if the scent of decay the oppressive gloom were anything to go by. Queen Rose was next to me, hunkered protectively between my fallen form and Amelia, the creamy yellow stallion who was standing between four Club members at the far edge of the clearing.

I blinked. The stallions weren’t Club members. They were generic pastel colours and blank flanked but I knew every face in the Club, and they had never passed through my office.

“What the hell is going on?” I demanded, struggling to get to my hooves.

“Alex,” Rose hissed, her voice trembling with fear, as she put a gentle hoof on my shoulder to keep me down. “Don’t move.”

“Oh yes, she’s done more than enough damage for one day,” Amelia agreed, gliding over. “But then, that’s all she does. Poor little lost girl. Only ever making things worse, no matter how hard she tries.”

I surged to my feet. “Right!” I roared, the pain from numerous limbs forgotten in my rage. “I have no-”


The command hit like a hammer blow. I froze. Not through fear, or any sense of respect, my every muscle just locked in an instant. Leaving me a virtual statue halfway across the clearing.

“Such a simple mind,” Amelia continued. His blank stallions swept round to encircle us, not that I could do anything to stop them. “You’d be amazed just how few buttons there are to push.” He ran a hoof down my side, jabbing my injured wing as he past. My complete paralysis was the only thing that stopped me screaming in pain. “A few taps while they dream. A quiet moment in a busy crowd. A staredown in a frantic night... Well. After all that. Who couldn’t make them dance? And what better use for an enemy, than to lure their friends?”

I desperately wanted to move. To scream, or just deck the stallion. More pressingly though, I wanted to breathe. A sensation that doesn’t become any less distressing through familiarity.

“Let her go,” Rose growled. She took a half step forwards.

Amelia stared her back. “No, I don’t think I will,” he said, shaking his head and allowing himself a vicious little smile. “This is her nightmare, you know. Being trapped while her charge is under threat. So desperate to help, but unable to even draw a breath to save herself.

A vicious whine, half rage, half desperation escaped my throat.

“Oh dear, she does appear to be suffocating.” Amelia trotted round to my front and met my furious gaze with mock sympathy. “Somepony should do something.”

My vision was going grey again, when Rose demanded. “Why are you doing this?”

Amelia rolled his eyes. “Hold that thought,” he told me. Somewhat unnecessarily. “Honestly,” he grumbled, rounding on Rose. “Here you stand. A Queen. The smartest being on the face of the world. And you have the gall to be confused.”

Rose looked blank. Snorting in disgust, Amelia turned to me. “Move,” he commanded.

I dropped into boneless heap on the forest floor; I didn’t crush my wings again, but I did manage to find a particularly sharp rock to land on. “Urgh,” I moaned, between deep breaths.

“Are you not getting this?” Amelia continued, with an exasperated sigh. “Mind control? Queens superior...”

“Oh god,” Rose murmured, realisation striking, backing away a half step.

“No. Close. Try again.” And when Rose just stared at her, frozen in terror, Amelia rolled his eyes. “Just say it already, you’re ruining my reveal.”

“Chrysalis,” I whispered, struggling to rise.

Amelia grinned.

“Ah, there we go.” Green fire consumed the stallion’s body and the onyx-black carapaced Queen of the changelings strode forth. She was taller than Rose, not by much, but her whole posture seemed to make her loom over the far younger queen. She stood upon the earth as if she expected all to bow, her long mane was filled with a emerald sparks that writhed and fought and a wrought iron crown sat on her brow.

“No,” Rose hissed, backing away. “No, no, no. You can’t be here.” She backed into one of the ‘Club members’ whose disguise vanished in a sickly inferno of changeling magic.

“Not at all, my little neophyte,” Crysalis said, baring her fangs. “I’ve been here all along.”

Through more will than good sense I managed to get to my hooves. “What have you done with Amelia?”

Chrysalis hissed. “I am having a conversation,” she snapped over her shoulder at me. “But,” she continued, with a dramatic toss of her mane, “if I must enlighten you. I did nothing to him.” She grinned. “I must thank you humans. So many identical sob stories. So many blank flanks bubbling up from the earth. I haven’t had such an easy time infiltrating since the fall of Loane Stup.”

I snorted, stamping at the ground as my eyes narrowed. “I seem to recall you crying your eyes out in my office.”

“Aww,” she teased, pouting. “Did the poor newfoal fall for my clever lies? That’s what sympathy gets you, Alexis. Pain. Heartache. Suffering.” She grinned. “All delicious feelings of course.”

The red mist began to descend.

“Oh, and rage of course,” Chrysalis added, gliding over to me. “A little spicy for my tastes-” Her eyes fixed mine for a moment and all of the anger vanished into a kind of blissful calm, as if someone had thrown a warm blanket over me. “-but it has it’s own joys.” She shot a dismissive glare in Rose’s direction. “Not that you’d understand.”

Rose’s eyes narrowed. I couldn’t bring myself to worry why through the haze of aesthetic bliss. “What do you want from me?” she asked at last.

“Well that’s a simple question,” Chrysalis replied, with a fang bearing smirk. “To quote a wonderful line from your world. ‘There can be only one’.”

The drones dogpiled Rose, bearing the much larger Queen to the ground with ease. For a moment Rose struggled against them, pink magics flaring around her, but each blast withered under the drones’ green fire. Chrysalis strode over, shaking her head at the pathetic display.

“I was expecting for you to put up more of a fight than that,” she admitted. “You really have been starved to death haven’t you?”

Rose slumped, panting, as the drones kept her pinned. “Please...”


“...just let Alex go.” Rose closed her eyes.

Chrysalis laughed. “Oh, don’t act like I’m about to take your heads,” she began, the smug smile of victory fixed firmly on her face. She reached down and grabbed Rose’s jaw, forcing the mare to look at her. “I can think of far better uses for you than that.”

“...and Alex?”

The Queen rolled her eyes. Letting Rose’s face drop, she walked over to me.

I tried to run, I really did, but all I managed to do was raise a single hoof off the ground.

“Well then. What do you think, Alex? What should I do to the mare that kept me in this mud hole for an extra two weeks? Who ruined my perfectly good mob and gave succor to my enemies?”

“Kill her,” I found my voice saying, followed by the bottom dropping out of my stomach. Chrysalis leaned in close, bringing those killing fangs within an inch of my neck.

“No, I don’t think so,” she purred, fixing my gaze to her luminous eyes. “There are fates so much worse than death. Now sleep, my little pony, and sweet dreams.”

The world faded away. Leaving me with nothing but nightmares.

Author's Note:

And that's the end of act 1.

I'm taking a bit of a step back with this weeks blog and talking about theme. Specifically, I'm wondering what kind of themes you are getting from this story and how they line up to my actual aims. Come and join the discusion on the blog here.