• Published 23rd Jan 2015
  • 26,531 Views, 1,719 Comments

Changing Views - lllWarHawklll



One moment I was enjoying life, the next... well, I'm not so sure, though I was hearing voices. Now, however? I'm the last survivor of my race. I'm not even human anymore...

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[1] First Contact

Anger "How can you be joyful at a time like this, young one!? We are about to begin the invasion, which means we will have to leave you behind at the hive alone since we can no longer safely move you and everyling is needed for this!" my mom near-shouted at me before going back to feeling sad.

'.......Oh.'

Needless to say, I didn't feel so happy anymore.

A moment passed before she sighed. "Edge, go get Redstar, Sectine and another infiltrator of your choice. We will meet at our usual gathering spot. After I finish up with a few things, we will be departing towards Baltimare. Prepare an extra squad as well, just in case anything... unexpected happens."

"Right away, Mom!" he energetically said. "Don't worry Artemis, I'll be back one day. I promise!"

Though he said that with a cheerful tone, I could tell he was pretty saddened to have to leave.

Being an empath kind of helped with that.

I heard his footsteps fading away as he dragged the 'food' back with him, until I was left alone with Mom.

She was silent. Thinking, if I had to guess. But I didn't care too much about that; I was too busy basking in the wonderful feeling of her passive love for me, just as I was most likely sending the same feelings back to her.

It really was a wonderful thing to know, and I really mean know, without a doubt, what another person felt for you. Especially when it was something like this. I didn't think I could ever get tired of it.

"I am really, really sorry for having to leave you here alone, Artemis," she softly crooned, voice tinged with melancholy. "Know that it pains me greatly to not be able to bring you with us, especially when your hatching period is imminent."

"In the meantime, I will put you in a state of hibernation so that you may conserve any energy you have until our return to the hive. However, before I do so..."

I heard some sort of… high-pitched twinkling sound? At the same time, I could feel something I've only felt every now and then from the various brothers and sisters that had visited me; some kind of energy in the air, gathering towards one point in a somewhat specific pattern. It then branched out towards various places around the room, but mostly around my container, accumulating and molding itself into… something I wish I could see so I could know what was really going on.

This continued on for a minute or two before the source of all the energy calmed down, silencing that twinkling sound in the process. I could still feel its presence around the place, but now it felt like it was dormant, inactive, waiting for a certain trigger so that it may do whatever it's supposed to do.

"...There, that should keep you safe in our absence, just in case," said Mom, feeling satisfied with herself.

She seemed to go into deep thought once more, if the momentary silence was anything to go by.

"One thing you will come to learn, Artemis, is to have a contingency plan for anything you can think of. As such..."

That musical sound returned, and this time I actually saw something for the first time in what felt like ages.

Various images of a beautiful white… pony?—'seems too big for a pony...'—were ingrained into my mind. Its hair—'mane', I corrected myself—and tail looked to be… ethereal, for lack of a better term, sporting light-pink, blue and green colors, their colored pattern somehow remaining intact despite them flowing through the air as if wind was constantly blowing. It had wings folded on its sides, yet they didn't seem to be physically large enough to allow it to really fly. The horn adorning it's head was pretty lengthy, practically a makeshift spear if one wanted it to be.

What really caught my attention, though, was the face. They say the eyes are a window to the soul, and through this horse's... quite large eyes, all things considered, I saw a being whom had lived through trials and hardships. A being whom had despaired, yet triumphed over it all. A being born to lead—

"This is my sister, Celestia," mom informed me.

—whom I then knew was my Aunt. I didn't particularly care at that moment that my Aunt was a large winged unicorn. The serene smile on her muzzle and the calming aura she seemingly projected—

"No matter what, you must absolutely not trust her—"

—made me want to meet her—

"—for she tried to kill me," my Mom hissed with more than a touch of anger.

made me want to meet her made me NOT want to meet her. At all.

'Never thought I'd see the day where a sentient herbivore would attempt to kill a member of its own family. You'd think murder would be an inconceivable thing to commit as a pony.'

...

...

'On that note, never thought I'd become part of a race of quadruped shape-shifters whom feed on emotions of all things, reborn as an egg in a world where dragons, manticores and griffins exist among other sapient species, and where an entire kingdom of ponies is ruled by a magical winged unicorn whom apparently happens to be my Aunt; not to mention having hundreds, if not thousands of brothers and sisters included within this new family of mine...'

...

...

...

'......Huh.'

Never really thought about it too much, to be honest.

I was brought out of my musings by the arrival of a sibling I had yet to meet.

"We're ready, Mom. Everyling is waiting by the entrance."

"...Alright," she sighed. "I'll… tell you the whole story when we return, Artemis."

She came closer and everything felt warmer. My egg shook a bit, too. She must’ve been hugging me or something, making me wish that I could return it at that very moment. Instead, I’d have to make do with simply sending love through the link.

The twinkling sound returned, and I started...feeling....drowsy......

"Sweet dreams.......my little Artemis."

==============================================



...



...



...



"Forgive me, my children."



'..whaaa...?....... Fahve moar, minutes... mom........ so, tired...'



...



...



*swooooooooooooOOSH*

'Erk!' I mentally exclaimed, fully awake.

I physically jerked as some sort of powerful wave passed through me, somehow invigorating me to the point where it was almost painful. It felt like I was fed the equivalent of five of Mom's visits, all at once; the sensation comparable to being hit by a taser, albeit one where the jolt made you feel incredibly good instead of having your body lock up in a paralyzed state. I felt strong enough that...

Well, to put it simply:

I felt complete.

I could feel my body, curled up inside this egg. I could move and touch the soft membrane shielding me from the outside world. I could sense hundreds upon hundreds of links, stretched very, very far off into a certain direction.

But, something also didn't feel right...

Some of those links were suddenly beginning to disappear completely, as if cut off. One by one, two by two, dozens by dozens, they were vanishing at an exponentially increasing rate.

I tried to peek deeper into one of the remaining connections, yet I was forced to retreat from it once I felt pain on a scale I've never thought possible.

'Maybe that wave gave me a kind of boost that is starting to slowly wear off? Maybe trying to feel the link on a deeper level at this distance is painful by default...? Yeah, let's go with that.'

Assuming all those links I sensed represented the entirety of my new family, then they were all extremely far away. I was alone in the hive for the time being, just as Mom said I would be.

'Don't think I want to get out of this egg just yet then. Not while I'm alone.'

Besides, I guessed that the hatching part was some sort of very special and memorable moment.

And I didn’t want to deny my new Mom that event.

Unsure of how long I could safely stay and be nourished by the egg, I decided to sleep as much as I could to conserve energy, while also in the hopes that my family would return promptly.

Though, as I slowly fell into a deep sleep, I couldn't shake off the feeling of being alone...

==============================================


".-~-.~~-,-.~"

I groggily awoke to the faint sound of multiple voices echoing from some nearby hallway or... something. Didn't really get the chance to look at my surroundings to know the layout of the place and I refused to open my eyes while I could still feel the slime coating the entirety of the egg's insides.

These voices were actually saying words though, and not in the usual instinctive language of chirping, chittering and hissing that I had adopted and heard from everyone I had met here so far.

Annoyed "(Of course I'm not lost you dolt; I'm mapping the place and making sure I don't miss anything of importance.)"

...And unfortunately I had no idea what language they were speaking, nor could I understand it.

Angry "(Well you sure didn't miss that explosive trap back there, Miss 'I know everything about exploring evil monster lairs',)" a distinctly male voice sarcastically replied.

She scoffed… I think. "(I trotted around it, in fact. It's not my fault somepony failed to notice and walked right into it,)" she spoke with a sort of 'sophisticated accent'.

Frustrated "(Geez, thanks for warning us. Maybe you could tell us whenever your 'trap-sense' goes off next time?)"

I was tracking their progress via the sound of their footsteps, but theirs seemed to be much, much louder than what I was used to. Either my hearing got even better or...

'Wait a minute...'

I tried to form a link despite the distance, but… it just didn't really connect, nor did their emotions indicate any sort of reaction to my attempt.

'Please don't tell me these people aren't changelings...'

"(Why are we even here again?)" the guy grumbled. "(I didn't sign up to be a guard to follow the orders of some bossy lady while trudging into weird illuminated caves in the bucking middle of nowhere! We haven't even come across anything yet!)"

This was the first time I got to sense such a concentrated amount of negative emotions in one place, though it all seemed to be centered or directed around that one dude. Considering the family seemed to be extremely closely-knit, the odds of this group being composed of fellow changelings seemed nonexistent by now.

'Oh crap, what do I do!?'

"UUURGHH!" groaned the female.

Well, that one I understood at least.

"(Will you ever SHUT UP!? I thought guards were trained not to question orders and avoid conversation unless the situation demands it!)"

Exasperated "(Forgive my colleague, Miss Yearling. He is… new to the job, as you can most likely tell,)" said a deeper, calmer voice; no doubt from the third member of their party.

"(And you still didn't answer my question,)" spoke the seemingly younger male.

There was a pause when the footsteps stopped for a moment as I felt a surge of rage spike from one of the three invaders; the kind of rage where you struggled to hold yourself from your own satisfying desire to beat the crap out of anything nearby.

"(We're here because Princess Celestia herself asked me to explore these ruins in search of anything linkable to an 'Artemis'. Rather, that's why I am here. You two are here on her insistence to 'escort' me in case unforeseen events were to occur, despite my own assurances that I could do this alone.)"

They seemed to be going further away from me, which was good. From what I had gathered out of the stories Edge told me, nobody knew about the existence of our species. I didn't want to find out how they'd react to finding an unknown egg in some base or something.

"(Surprise surprise! Yet another dead end! AGAIN!)" said Mr. Grumpy.

"(ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!)" shouted the lady all of a sudden, the outburst echoing through the place for a second or two. "(I've HAD IT with your motherbucking whining in this motherbucking cave!! If you want ANY hope of keeping your job as a guard, you WON'T say another word unless it's ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. UNDERSTAND!?)"

I don't think I heard any reply to that, but McGrumpy was now afraid, while the two others were relieved and/or satisfied.

"(And for the record, that was the first and last time we'll come across THAT dead-end.")

Unfortunately they were getting rather close to where I—

"Whoa."

'...Shit.'

"(Hey, uh, I think we found it.)"

"(You don't say,)" the lady replied.

There was a pause where no sound or movement was heard as we all remained in place.

"(I say we smash it,)" the younger male declared with conviction.

Incredulity, shock and anger simultaneously leaked from the other two beings.

"(...What? It's a changeling egg! They're monsters, every single one of them! You all saw what happened at Canterlot!)"

"(The Princess should decide its fate, not a recruit of the Royal Guard. Regardless, as the leader of this expedition, the decision falls to Miss Yearling,") interjected the other guy with his ever-present calmness.

A moment of silence passed until the female broke it. "(...Princess Celestia wanted us to find an 'Artemis' and, assuming this is it, she would want it alive. Now, you two stay here and don't enter the room. I'll go and explore the chamber behind it.)"

"(H-hey! Why should we stay here? We're supposed to escort you!)"

"(Because this entire place is filled with traps!)" she exclaimed from mid-air, the sound of flapping wings overriding the silence.

'Probably a pegasus then. So these are all ponies? They're supposed to be nice, right? I mean, in the end they're just little horses— Oh, but 'Celestia' actually tried to kill mom...'

Definitely not a comforting thought.

The... mare then flew around the edges of the room before proceeding away towards a different section of the place, leaving me alone with the two guys.

The calm dude was, well, remaining calm, displaying the epitome of patience while the other guy was seemingly fuming internally.

"(Who does she think she is? I don't see any traps at all. Hmph,)" the younger voice said after a few moments, slowly approaching me.

"(What are yo— STOP, YOU FOOL!!)"

The older male's sudden shout startled me, and with the anger I was sensing from the young one who was decidedly getting much too close for comfort, I was genuinely starting to be afraid for my life.

I barely noticed my fear being absorbed by the energy that Mom had left around the room before her departure, activating its effects in the immediate area around my egg.

All I heard then was a sort of constant 'oooom' sound as a sickly green light was suddenly being emitted at a brightness that I could see through my egg's soft membrane, regardless of the fact that my eyes were still closed. The activation of whatever that was, in turn, seemed to switch the state of every other scrap of energy in the room from "off" to "awaiting input".

One of those scraps was directly under the approaching threat, absorbing his anger to power itself up.

Fortunately (or unfortunately; the debate still stands), whatever happened around my egg frightened the pony enough that his anger was replaced with fear, at which point whatever he was on top of stopped charging.

The pretty light show and the earlier shout caused the lady to come flying back almost immediately.

She sighed, frustrated. "(This is why I work alone...)" she muttered at a volume that I strained to hear over the humming sound of the light show around me.

"(Alright, what exactly happened while I was gone for less than ten minutes!?)" the mare asked with a tone that decidedly lacked patience at this point in time.

The pony who stood half-way through the room towards me nervously chuckled. "(Ah, heheh, funny story actually—)"

"(He angrily stomped towards the egg, questioning your knowledge of traps,)" interrupted the one who had stayed put.

The pegasus groaned. "(Alright, just… ugh, hold on. I'll get you out of there.)"

She once more flew around the edges of the room, keeping her distance from me before she slowly approached the frightened pony.

Throughout the entire time, I was still afraid of everything that was going on, unable to comprehend anything with my lack of vision. Stuff that I couldn't see was just happening so fast, which fueled my fear, which unknowingly kept the entire room's energy on either an active state or a semi-active one.

The lady had finally reached the immobile pony, slowly descending to seemingly pick him up.

"(Just don't move, now,)" she carefully said. "(No sudden movements...)"

Anger "(WELL WHAT DO YOU THINK I'M DOI—)"

A sharp whistling sound was heard, rapidly increasing in volume and pitch before he was promptly yanked away from his spot by the mare—

*BOOM*

—narrowly avoiding the miniature flaming explosion that occurred on the very ground he occupied a mere moment ago.

The nearby blast increased my fear which intensified the brightness of the glow around my egg.

"(Whew! That was, close... heh...)"

Someone breathed in loudly, apparently doing a breathing exercise if the diminishing anger meant anything. "(That's it. I'm done with you. Both of you go back and wait for me at the entrance,)" said the mare, audibly struggling to keep a calm tone.

"(...uh, could you… guide us? I kind of, don't know the way ba—)"

"(Just. Go. Up. Up. Down. Down. Left, then right,)" she muttered through her teeth.

I felt the two males leaving to return from whence they came while the lady began to mutter to herself just outside the threshold of the room.

"(Alright, that shield appeared around the egg when he approached, but the trap didn't go off just yet despite him being on top of it. He didn't move at all before it blew either… maybe it's triggered by sound? No, then all the other ones would've blown too...)"

Strangely enough, she had dropped her accent.

She started pacing in circles from what I could hear. "(What do we know of changelings? Ugh, nothing other than them being able to turn into other ponies and love itself gives them 'power'.)"

The mare stopped moving. "(Love.......love............LOVE! Emotions! The trap blew when that idiot got angry! They must be powered by negative emotions!)"

She paused for a short moment. "(...But then what's powering that shield?)"

By then I had somewhat calmed down, the green light slowly dulling before fading away completely.

"..."

The pony then began slowly approaching me. I could feel her giddiness, her awe, her caution...

She was kind of getting a bit too close to me... and to my mounting horror, she had just walked over a few of those explosive trap thingies—that were obviously meant to fend off intruders— along her path towards me without any trouble at all.

The green light returned to shield me from her as she was but a few steps away from me.

"(No change in my own emotions as I approached, I think, and the only other being in this room is...!")

She finally stopped right in front of me, the glow around me stronger than ever.

"(Hello, little one...)" she softly said, projecting sympathy and feelings of comfort. "(Umm… I don't know if you can understand me, but, it's alright… I'm not here to hurt you...)"

Surprised as I was that she wasn't actually giving off any negativity whatsoever, the barrier dimmed slightly, yet remained present.

After a minute or two of having her presence silently loom over me, she suddenly started humming a lullaby.

...Just like... just like Mom used to...

As the light vanished without me actually noticing that it did, I felt myself being lifted ever so slowly, the soothing tune's beautiful melody continuing uninterrupted.

...Until the humming stopped, and I felt the joy and pride from what I realized was the pony whom was holding me, gently carrying me away from where I had been set for so long.

My fear returned in full force, mixed with a desperate panic at realizing that I'd been lulled into a false sense of security and was being carried by what was probably a poacher.



Every single trap in the room began charging at once.



--------------------------------------------

The two royal guards were silently backtracking towards the entrance of the hive.

"...I really bucked up, didn't I?" one of them sadly muttered.

Well, as silently as they could be with Wind Caller present.

His companion sighed, replying with a simple: "Indeed."

"I just don't know what went wrong..."

"Allow me to give you a list of things you did wrong, then," began Wind Caller's superior.

"You've incessantly complained ever since the first day of our trip. You've questioned A.K. Yearling's methods, despite her knowledge on the matter. You walked right into that trap card earlier, when it was clearly displayed on the floor, especially when Miss Yearling walked around it.

"You’ve relentlessly harassed our charge, whom also happens to be the leader of this expedition," he continued, to which the younger guard tried to make himself smaller with each followed up accusation. "You ignored our 'silent treatment' training, which would have avoided nearly all of the aforementioned issues...

"But the worst of it all, however, was when you tried to play Faust and decide the fate of an unborn child. Yes, perhaps changelings are heartless monsters. Perhaps we could save lives by ending that nymph's existence. But you should take into consideration that perhaps, changelings are just like you and me. Perhaps, they are simply misunderstood."

Wind Caller remained silent for a while, contemplating. "Alright, I get it, my muzzle thought faster than my brain. I'm a loudmouth... But what's up with A.K. Yearling, anyway? You make it sound like she's some sort of celebrity."

His friend stopped dead in his tracks.

"You… really don't know!?" the senior guard incredulously asked.

"Uhhh..." Wind Caller hesitantly trailed off. "...no. Should I?"

"A.K. Yearling?"

*Blank stare*

"Famous writer?"

*A tilt of the head*

"Sole author of the entire Daring Do series!?"

"..."

"..."

"..."

"...DO YOU LIVE IN A CAVE OR SOMETHING!? THE DARING DO SERIES IS LITERALLY THE BEST THING EVER! EVERYPONY KNOWS ABOUT IT! Her daring adventures! Her escapades and encounters against the infamous Ahuizotl! When all hope is lost, when she is wrapped in chains, in a chamber which is being filled with sand and deadly snakes and venomous spiders unleashed on her all at once, SHE STILL FINDS A WAY TO ESCAPE AND SAVE THE DAY! SHE'S THE MOST INCREDIBLE MARE OF ALL TI—"

Wind Caller just stood there, slack-jawed at seeing his friend break from his calm demeanor for the first time ever, over...

'Books. He's fangasming. Over. Comic. Books.'

He barely listened to the rest of his companion's lengthy rant, before a whistling sound was heard from the general direction of the room which housed the egg.

"—OU PRETTY MUCH MANAGED TO PISS OFF THE. BEST. AUTHOR. EVE—"

"Shhhh, do you hear that too?" interrupted the young guard, shoving his armored hoof into his friend's mouth.

They turned to look back in the direction they had just come from, just in time to see Miss Yearling rounding the corner, flying at a speed which shouldn't be possible with the dress, saddlebags and egg she was carrying.

"RUUUUN! BUCKING RUUUUUUUUUNNN!!" she screeched as she flew over them towards the nearby exit.

They didn't need to be told twice as they heard the distant echo of a massive explosion, the shockwave nearly blasting them off their hooves whilst the whistling near them intensified to dangerous levels.

--------------------------------------------

'Yearling' had finally reached the outside, panting in exhaustion after that sprint, her 'escort' arriving shortly thereafter.

*BOOM-SHAKALAKA*

They all ducked as dust, rocks and the occasional boulder fell all around them, the combined explosions from within the hive shaking the earth as a massive plume of fire erupted from the entrance, until the tremors eventually stopped and the dust started dissipating ever-so-slowly.

The pegasus mourned the fact that yet another ruin was lost forever after earning the reward on a pedestal at the end. There was absolutely no way the lair had...

...survived the entire explosion without a scratch!?

"...WHAT?!?"

She tentatively approached the entrance built into the base of the rocky mountain cliff, egg gently held with her forelegs as she flew.

The substance which covered nearly every single part of the fortress's interior remained completely intact, albeit covered in ash. The only real damage seemed to be with the odd glowing substance located behind certain sections of the walls, which was now nowhere to be found, making the entire caverns bask in complete darkness.

'Perfect!' she happily thought, glad that she would be able to return here one day to finish exploring that treasury she had stumbled upon near the end.

"...Soooo, mission accomplished?" asked the one who she had classified as the bane of this group of ponies.

"Indeed," she said, dusting off her disguis- dress. "Right after I write the report."

"Have you uncovered any sort of ancient relics or magical artifacts within the confines of the area we were withheld from? Or perhaps a mountain of bits? Or maybe even the long lost journal of Celestia's forgotten sist—"

"No, I... no," she quickly interrupted, knowing an overzealous fan when she met one. "There was... nothing of importance back there. Just, dust and more dead-ends! Yep!" she exclaimed as she gently placed the egg on the cool floor of the cavern entrance, shielding it from the harsh sun and cooked dirt of the badlands, subsequently taking out a scroll, quill and ink pot from her saddlebags along with the magical candle she was given to send messages straight to Princess Celestia.

"Um, listen, Miss Yearling. I wanted to… apologize, for my behavior during the entire trip," slowly began Wind Caller as she started writing about the thousands of bits she had discovered in that one room. "I was just… angry that I didn't get to do much during the battle at Canterlot, and that I was then sent to escort you instead of helping rebuilding and repairing the City, or maybe even just guarding from any more potential invaders while others were rebuilding and repairing the city, and...

"...Well, what I'm trying to say is, I'm sorry for overall being a jerk and failing in my duty to you," he finished, bowing his head in submission with his ears splayed back.

At this, she stopped writing to look up from the scroll and see the genuine regret on his face, his sorrowful posture...

"...Sure," she uncomfortably said in reply, unsure of how to react to that as she continued her descriptions of the artifacts she had glimpsed while saving the discovery of the egg for last.

"Sure!?" he incredulously asked. "I pour my heart out to you, bow in submission, genuinely apologize, and ALL YOU CAN SAY IS 'SURE'!? YOU COULD AT LEAST SHOW SOME RESPECT AND PROPERLY—" he ranted on, completely missing the smirk on Yearling's muzzle.

'There's the guard I've come to unfortunately know,' she thought as she added the finishing touches to the letter.

"There, mission accomplished. Wind Caller, if you wouldn't mind?" she asked, gesturing to the unlit magical candle on the floor.

"—AND MAYBE JUST THEN I WO— sure!" he cheerfully replied, lighting it up with his magic.

"Thanks."

She rolled up the scroll, added her seal and threw the entire thing into the flickering flame.

"I'll handle the delivery of the egg," she continued, carefully setting the aforementioned object... thing... being? within one of the flaps of her saddlebags. "You guys head on back to Canterlot, I'll be fine."

"...Are you sure?"

"Sure."

...

...

"Are you REALLY sure?"

‘Yearling’ sighed.

==============================================


It had taken quite a while, but Princess Cadance had eventually awoken from the magical exhaustion which followed the wave of love she released with her beloved Shining Armor.

And once she did, she was hailed as a hero by Canterlot's populace.

Her.

A 'Hero'.

Not only was murder amongst the worst possible crimes for ponykind, but she was destined to help others unite and love each other, whether they were ponies, griffins or even minotaurs.

And yet, she had essentially... slaughtered an entire race, shuddering at the mere thought of it. She'd k-killed Celestia's sister.

And the city called her a 'Hero'.

Despite all that, once she learned that Celestia and Luna had both locked themselves in their respective rooms for quite a while now because of something that was essentially her fault, and that somepony had to help manage the day court, well...

She did so, for a couple days, with a smile.

She smiled as she barely touched the food she was given daily.

She smiled as she ignored the greetings and bows of the ponies she passed as she aimlessly wandered around the numerous halls of the Castle.

She smiled as she entered her own room, observing her reflection in the bathroom mirror, taking note of the bags under her eyes, her completely frazzled mane and tail, her random ear and eye twitches...

She smiled, because it's what the ponies wanted.

And so, she would smile.

Smile.

'S-smile...'

After three days of keeping up the facade, she simply couldn't do it anymore, and her smile vanished completely as she collapsed, burying her face into her forelegs, sobbing away as the dam finally broke.

This was the state in which Shining Armor found her in, once he entered their shared room shortly afterwards.

"...Honey? What's wrong!?" he worriedly asked, quickly reaching her side and kneeling down to her level.

"I.......I-I....."

"Hey, if it's about the wedding, we can just reschedule once everything calms down again! It'll be like nothing happened!" he softly said in an effort to comfort her, nuzzling the alicorn affectionately.

She sobbed louder, to his dismay.

"Cadance, talk to me," he pleaded, concerned.

"I-I...We..." she hiccuped. "We k-killed Celestia's s-s-sister!!"

"...What!?"

"It... i-it was Ch-Chrysalis..."

"Who told you that?"

She sniffled. "W-well...."

"Was it the changeling Queen herself?" he snorted.

Cadance didn't reply.

"Look, honey," he began. "That thing had lied to everypony ever since it took your place before the train came. It lied about who it really was, it lied to Twilight and her friends... Hay, it even convinced me that it was innocent of everything Twilight accused her of! What's to say it didn't lie about being Celestia and Luna's sister?"

Her sobs slowly calmed down as she revealed her tear-stained face to him, doubt persisting on her features.

"...Come on," said Shining Armor, helping her back up. "Let's go ask Princess Celestia herself, and then we'll know for sure."

--------------------------------------------

Celestia re-read the scroll for the umpteenth time, hope and joy finally making their presence known.

'Terra isn't completely gone...' she happily thought.

Cadance would probably feel better with this news.

...

...

...

'Cadance!'

She had completely forgotten about how the alicorn of love would feel about the attack, especially since Cadance was half the reason the changelings were gone!

And she let the pink alicorn lead the court despite it all, while she hid in her room in depression!

'How could I be so insensitive...'

The Princess of the Sun got up and trotted towards the doors to her room, fully intending to go find Cadance and apologize, as well as share the letter she had just received... only to find Shining Armor and a downtrodden pink alicorn right outside her chamber's doors as she opened them, the stallion holding a hoof in mid-air as if he was about to knock.

"Uhm, hello, your Highness." The Captain of the royal guard quickly bowed. "We wanted to ask you a few questions about certain things..."

Celestia blinked. "Why, of course! Come right in! I was about to go search for you two, in fact."

As they each took a seat, she took a moment to observe Cadance's condition, taking notice of just how much the whole ordeal had affected the younger Princess. She looked like she hadn't slept for days, which was nothing to say for the tear stains marring her face and her completely unkempt mane.

Never mind the fact that the solar diarch herself had a similar appearance as well...

"Was Chrysalis your sister?" asked Shining Armor all of a sudden, going straight to the point.

"...What?" Celestia eloquently answered, surprised by the sudden question.

"Cadance seems to believe that the changeling Queen was your sister, based on a conversation they both had."

Celestia turned to look at said alicorn, whom was gazing at the floor with a sorrowful expression. "She talked about me?"

Cadance meekly nodded.

"You can't tell us it's true, Princess! That would be completely ridiculous!" said the Captain with a desperate voice, dearly hoping he was right.

"...Did you not see Chrysalis's final moment? Did you not hear her final words?" sadly asked Celestia after a pause, looking back and forth between her two guests.

"Well... we kind of fainted right after that blast..."

'...Oh.'

"...What? You thought we would slowly float down and appear completely healed of everything, awake and full of energy after projecting that wave despite our low levels of magic at the time?"

"I, well... nevermind," Celestia said, realizing how ridiculous that would've been in the first place.

"In any case," she continued. "Yes. Chrysalis was indeed our sister, though she used to go by a different name..."

At this, Cadance cringed before slowly leaking tears anew.

"Now, now, don't worry. It's... alright," Celestia softly said, wrapping Cadance into a winged hug.

The alicorn of love merely lifted her head to regard her Aunt with a flabbergasted expression.

"Chrysalis's last words were 'Save Artemis. Badlands.' And so, I had sent a team to find this 'Artemis.'"

The Princess of the Sun levitated the scroll up to the devastated alicorn.

"This scroll just came in a few moments ago. It contains the results of the expedition."

As Cadance tried to wipe her tears and began reading the contents of the letter, Shining Armor looked decidedly uncomfortable at this turn of events.

"I'm… sorry, your Highness. I should've considered the possibility that it could've been true," he slowly said in an apologetic tone.

He was startled as the pony he loved suddenly sprang up in shock.

"R-really? Is this true!?" she asked, the first sign of anything that wasn't negative ever since the incident displayed on her face.

"Yes, Cadance," Celestia weakly smiled. "You have another cousin."

"What?!?" asked the Captain, taking the note from his love to read it himself.

The alicorn of love felt an immense sense of relief wash over her. It was one thing to cause the dissapearance of… a lot of beings—she flinched—but it was decidedly better than to completely exterminate an entire species.

Of course she still felt severely depressed, but at least she would be able to try, and... f-fix her mistake...

A flash of light signaled the arrival of another scroll, bearing the same seal.

Confused, Celestia opened and read the letter, only for her eyes to widen in shock once more.

"I… have to go talk to our department of research immediately. Please excuse me," she hurriedly said as she galloped out of the room, completely forgetting in her panic that she could simply teleport there.

Cadance gazed at the fallen note, picking it up to read it herself before she, too, left the room in a hurry to catch up with her Aunt.

Shining Armor, whom had just finished reading the first scroll and noticed he was alone in the room, ended up seeing the second scroll as well. Picking it up, he read its contents, which were seemingly written in a hurry if the decreased quality of writing was of any indication:

S3nd me any Xtra infermation yu hav on changlings ASAP.

The egg hatchd.

"...Horseapples."