• Published 26th Jun 2016
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Shellstrings - shortskirtsandexplosions

After freakish happenstance turns Lyra Heartstrings and Queen Chrysalis into a symbiotic being, they find themselves putting their superpowers to heroic use in an ever-changing Equestria.

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A Very Special Secret Agent

"'So th-that whatever f-foul force may fall on the land of th-this nation...'"

She huddled against the wall.

She trembled.

She clenched her eyelids tight as she whispered into the mountain air.

"'I pledge... with full devotion... to p-put all energy to eliminating that threat...'"

Explosions thudded in the distance, growing closer.

The air filled with screams and hisses.

Moisture escaped the edges of her sockets. She fought past a sob, forming a stern frown.

"'So that the last living being m-may enjoy his or her final breath as a free pony... and a proud bearer of harmony... as I am... now and forevermore... an unswerving agent of the League.'"

Once the breathy mantra had been finished, the earth pony opened her moist blue eyes. She inhaled deeply while raising a manarifle to her chest. Cocking the weapon—ch-chtung!—the agent spun around the granite column where she was hiding and fired a crackle of blue energy into a swarm of changelings sailing overhead.

Z-Zaaap! POWWW!

Three of the abominations exploded, littering the streets and storefronts of Canterlot with insectoid entrails. Terrified citizens ran for their lives while more ravenous creatures pounced on them—sinking their fangs into exposed necks and flanks.

Snarling, the mare pumped loose a spent crystal, reloaded a fresh manabattery into her rifle, and tossed her blue and pink mane back so she could aim true. "Begone!" Zaaaaaap! A fiery blue beam sailed across the rubble-strewn street.

A changeling exploded before it could drag a filly off into the wild blue yonder. The foal scampered off, breathlessly joining a herd of panicked ponies fleeing every which way while hundreds upon thousands of changelings dove in, turning the sky above into a squirming black mass.

Canterlot – Seven Thousand Years Later – The Day of Princess Cadance and Captain Shining Armor's Wedding

The screams of the innocent were soon drowned out by a collective banshee shriek. The sounds of crickets and cicadas intensified as row after row of changelings dove towards their prey below.

"Not on my watch!" The agent shouted, galloping forward. She slid to a stop beside a cluster of cowering ponies and fired straight up into the phalanx of plunging changelings. "Rrrrrngh!"


The air flickered from a shiny black to a juicy green. The bloody remains of the changelings parted ways, staining the cobblestone street on either side of the cowering citizens.

"Oh Goddess!" A mare whimpered.

"Celestia... Luna..." A stallion shivered in his sweater-vest. "It's the End Times!"

"No it's not!" The agent shouted, reloading her rifle yet again. She yanked the ponies to their hooves and pointed towards the nearest hotel. "Get inside! Put as many closed doors between you and the outside world and wait this out!"

"Wait it out?!" A young mare pointed incredulously at the blackened sky. "Canterlot is good as captured by these... f-freakish beasts!"

"Who are you going to listen to, huh?!" The agent sputtered, cocking her rifle. "Those beasts? Or..." She squinted one eye, aimed at a lamppost, and fired. ZAAAP!

CRACK! The metal pole fell over, crushing three changelings in a row.

The citizens flinched. An aged stallion shouted to the rest: "Let's g-get inside that hotel!"

"Hurry! Put as many closed doors between us and them!"

"Move your tail or lose it!"

"Go! Go!" The agent shouted, waving a hoof and taking aim once more at the sky. "I'll cover you!" ZAAAP! Z-ZAAP! "Rnnnngh!" She gritted her teeth as she fired several burning volleys at the impossibly large swarm. "Where in Equestria d-did these bastards from from?!" She sputtered, sweating and heaving as she reloaded yet again. "Tartarus couldn't even hold th-these many drones... could it?"

"Help! Please! Helpppp meeee!"

Gasping, the agent spun to face the far end of the street.

A mare and a stallion flailed as blood-thirsty changelings lifted them up off their hooves and carried them skyward in separate directions.

"Nooooo!" The mare sobbed, being hoisted away. "Green Clover!"

"Flower Dust!" The stallion struggled as he and several other horrified citizens were being hauled into the buzzing swarm. "Honey! I love y-you!"

"Hey!" Snarling, the agent galloped straight towards the scene. "You let go of them! If you wanna feast on the living, then you gotta get through me—" She scuffled to a stop, blue pupils shrinking as a dark shadow crossed over her.

No less than thirty changelings converged on her spot, hissing madly. Their fanged mandibles glinted in the manalight from her rifle.

"Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww shit!" the agent snarled, spinning right around and galloping in the opposite direction. Cicada song pulsed in the back of her ears. She jumped left—dodging a changeling as it smashed through a street sign to her right. She hopped again, kicking off a diving monster and shoving it into a collapsing stagecoach. As she reached an intersection, she grabbed a post box by its support beam, spun around, and twirled the rifle until she aimed with one hoof. "Hiss into this, ya larva-humping plotsplats!" ZAAAAAAAP!

The blue beam fired into the incoming swarm, melting a dozen of the bugs into bubbly green goo. The rest pounced on the mare, surrounding her on all sides, scratching and clawing with their charcoal-black grasshopper legs. The agent struggled from deep within the dogpile of carapaced creatures. For a moment, her struggles ceased as she disappeared deep within their writhing limbs. But then—only a few seconds later—

THUNK! A grappling hook fired out of the circular mass, embedding into a third story apartment building's face above. Half-a-breath later, the agent came flying out of the dogpile with the grappler controls in one hoof... and three loose grenade pins in the other.

"Have fun being spray paint, flankholes!" she spat.

True to her profane prophecy—POWWW!—the changeling cluster exploded in a sticky mess of scattered shells. Among the many, only a few shape-shifters survived—one of which flew up in a violent streak and collided with the airborne mare.

"Ooomf!" The agent grunted as she and her attacker toppled sideways and—


—shattered through a third-story window. Glass flew as the two rolled and wrestled across an apartment room carpet.

"HRESSSHAAA!" The changeling's mandibles lunged at the agent's muzzle.

"Rnnnngh!" The mare held its jaws back with aching fetlocks. She grimaced as dollops of insectoid drool fell down on her peach coat. "What'd you h-have for breakfast this m-morning?" She wheezed, fighting against the beast. "Diamond dog?"

"Noooo!" shrieked a foal.

"Mommy!" whimpered another.

Panting, the agent tilted her head straight back.

She witnessed the upside down sight of a mare being pinned against the wall by two other changelings. A pair of children shivered in the corner. Upon spotting the agent's gaze, they pointed at the older pony. "They're going to eat our Mother!"

"Rnnnngh... dammit to Tartarus..." The agent clenched her teeth. Her eyes darted left and right. "...!" She spotted a horseshoe on the floor, grabbed it, and shoved it deep into her attacker's mouth—forcing the creature's jaws wide open.

Surprised, the changeling lifted up, struggling to toss the offending object loose.

"Mrnnngh!" Wham! The agent wasted no time in punching the changeling in its thorax. As the creature stumbled aside, she hopped up, kicked it in the back, and then grabbed the monster lengthwise. She then proceeded to charge across the apartment, wielding the changeling's body like a battering ram.

WHAM! She slammed one of the other two changelings into the wall. As the third released its grip of the mother, it received a massive uppercut to the chin via the agent's rifle butt.

Frowning, the agent yanked a lamp from the kitchen table, smashed the bulb off, and then shoved the live socket into one of the offending changeling's fangs.

Bzzzzzttt! The beast shook from head to tail. Its wings burst into flames and its compound eyes exploded. P-POW! As its smoking corpse fell to the ground, one of the two remaining monsters came charging over it, rushing the agent once again. "HRESSSHA!"

The mare braced herself, took the brunt of the monster's charge, then hooked its neck under her forelimbs. "Grrrrr—Raaaugh!" She punched the creature's gut three times, kicked an oven door open with her leg, stuck the beast's head inside—and then SLAMMED the door shut, decapitating the beast in a blink. Crunch!

Panting, wheezing, the agent backtrotted. She sensed three equine figures sobbing in her peripheral. "Don't... uh... worry, citizens. This goo... uh... trust me... eheheh... it'll wash out—"

Bonk! A loosely spat horseshoe ricocheted off her forehead from across the room.


Teetering backwards, she slipped on the offending juices covering the kitchen floor.

"Whoah—!" She braced herself awkwardly against the kitchen table, leaving her open for—

"SHREEEEEEE!" The last surviving changeling sailed at her on buzzing wings.

She had no choice but to grapple with it. The two flew as one across the apartment—SHATTER!—out the side window and—CRASSSSH!—through the glass rooftop of a greenhouse two stories below.

"Mrmmmmf!" The agent landed roughly on a soft bed of petunias. Her foe, however—

Schlunkkkk! The changeling let loose a final, pained shriek as its body was impaled on a rusted sprinkler rod. Its spider-like limbs remained twitching a full minute past death.

The agent remained lying on her back. Her peach coat was scraped and bleeding in more than two dozen places. She grimaced, staring up through the shattered ceiling at a patchwork sky full of swarming abominations. The hooked legs and thoraxes of the buzzing drones blotted out the sunlight as they flitted between the blue spires of Canterlot.

"Get up," she murmured to herself.

She grunted... winced... fought gravity.

"Get. Up."

Stifling a whimper, she stirred her legs, rolling slowly off the bed of potted flowers.

"Princess Celestia is down," she wheezed. "The Elements of Harmony are missing." She battled a wincing expression as she stumbled to her knees. "... ... ...and I've yet to drink a cup of goddess-damned coffee."

Just then, a fresh wave of shrieks rattled the metal framework of the greenhouse. She looked up.

A galloping herd of changelings crossed the street, rushing towards the glass entrance to her hiding spot.

The agent's ears drooped. "...somehow, I don't think they've come to sniff the roses."

Just then, a brand new thunder lit the air. With a blink, the agent spun to look in the opposite direction.

First came the voice. "Gaaaaaaang waaaaaaay!" Second came the horn. And then—

SMASSSSSSSH! Glass. Lots of it. The mare winced as a huge gray figure barreled through the opposite wall and charged the entrance in time to meet the incoming changelings.

"Haaaaaaugh!" A rampaging rhinoceros in a black vest impaled beast after beast, raining the sidewalk outside with insect parts. "That's right!" The rhino hollered. "From Detrot with love, ya mangy melon fudges!" Snarling, she slammed her front hooves down, forcing the surviving herd of changelings to scamper off in abject fear. "What?! What?! You like that? Want more hot love right up your slimy ovipositors?!" The rhino spat on the bloodied ground with a smirk. "Tell them Betsy sent ya!"

The mare recovered on four hooves, sputtering: "Secret Agent Betsy?"

The rhino spun around, batting her eyelashes. "Yesssssss, Secret Agent Sweetie Drops?"

Sweetie Drops gulped. "What the Hell are you doing here?"

"Saving your sassy little flank, from the looks of it!" Special Agent Betsy snorted. "What? You think the only rhinoceros in all of Equestria was going to sit out the Wedding of Princess Candlehead and the Captain of the Guard?"

"It's Cadance... also..." Sweetie Drops gestured at her forehead, then pointed at her partner. "Uhm..."

"What?" Betsy blinked.

"You've... uh... got something on your horn..."

"I do?" The rhino sniffed, then went cross-eyed, noticing the remains of a changeling skull impaled on her horn. "Hah! Well, will ya look at that! Shish kabitch!" Plunk! She tore the offending thing off and held it in a thick hoof. "Not a bad air freshener, if I do say so myself. At least back where I come from. Heh..."

"Betsy..." Sweetie Drops huffed. "There are countless citizens at risk. This is no time for jokes!"

"No... it's a time for action..." rasped an elderly voice from behind.

Sweetie Drops' blue eyes instantly widened. She spun about, gawking. "D—... Chief Agent Sugar Cane!"

A wrinkly—yet grizzled-face earth pony with a gray mane trotted over the fresh hole in the greenhouse and approached the other two agents. "Secret Sweetie Drops," the elder grumbled, all the while priming a double-barreled manarifle. "I see that you're in one piece."

"I... uhm..." Nervously, Sweetie Drops brushed the flakes of dried green blood out of her two-toned mane. "I've performed better, to b-be perfectly honest, s-sir—"

"At ease," the stallion droned. "This is hardly what I call a surprise examination."

"Nope!" Betsy turned about, grinning wide. "More like the Ass-Kicking Convention! HAH! If I knew the wedding reception would had this in store for my visit, I would have worn my green vest today!" She sniffed the air once again with hairy nostrils. "Mmmmmmm—how I do love the smell of buggy insides in the morning."

"Save it, Betsy," Sugar Cane said, marching through the opposite hole and gazing at the blackened sky. "We must find the other agents and regroup with them."

"You mean..." Sweetie Drops galloped up towards him, breathless. "The rest of the League is h-here?!" She blinked, muzzle agape. "Secret Agent Haze? Sharp Quill?"

"Mmmm... yes. And Special Agent Horizons is leading them in battle as we speak." Sugar Cane turned to squint down at the young mare. "I gave her the order to round up the rest of our brothers and sisters so we can rally against the invasion."

Sweetie Drops shivered. "I... I thought that I was—"

"What?" Betsy snorted. "The only dumbass agent to be caught with her britches down in Canterlot? Pfft... girl, please."

"There'll be a time to compare notes later," the old stallion insisted. "Right now, there's an even greater threat that we must all confront."

"You mean Queen Chrysalis, right?" Sweetie Drops gulped, then frowned. "Because an invasion of this scale could only mean that she's returned."

"I don't speak of the Treacherous One."

"Then... what, Chief Agent?" Sweetie Drops stammered as the buzzing and shrieking intensified beyond. "What could possibly be an even greater threat than what's assailing Canterlot as we speak?"

"Sweetie Drops," Betsy murmured, her voice taking on a dull tone for once. "The floodgates of Tartarus have been blown wide open."

Sweetie Drops spun to gawk at her. "How could you possibly know this?"

"Your old nemesis." Betsy took a deep breath. "The Ursa Arthropodica... we saw it."

Sweetie Drops' eyes instantly shrank. She leaned back, her ears drooping over a trembling expression. "... ... ...the Bug Bear." She gulped. "It's back?"

"Aye..." Chief Agent Sugar Cane nodded. "And no doubt it's still angry over your accomplishments in the Stalliongrad operation." He glanced at the other two. "Its sense of smell is beyond compare, and its surreal strength has undoubtedly quadrupled. I say we have less than an hour before it tracks us down and attempts to finish the rest of us off."

"But... b-but what can we possibly do against that?!" Sweetie Drops swung a panicked hoof. "The last time it was on the loose, it slaughtered over half the League!" She gulped. "I-I was only one of two who c-came back alive..."

"Let's focus on one thing at a time." Sugar Cane gestured into the battle-strewn streets. "Let's regroup with Chief Agent Horizons and her company. We'll whittle down the changelings from the inside out. Hopefully—if we time our assault well—we'll relieve the pressure from the Canterlot Royal Guard so they can assist us in warding off the Tartarusian escapees."

"But... b-but—" Sweetie Drops shivered.

"So, in other words, more stompy-stompy-kill-kill?" Betsy asked. When Sugar Cane nodded, she reared her hooves and tossed her horn in the air. "Wooohooo! Let's get it on!" She charged thunderously out into the streets. "You hear that, ya beady-eyed buggers?! Ya bitches be sidewalk spaghetti tonight! Woo!"

Sweetie Drops blinked—only to flinch from the touch of Sugar Cane's hoof. "Don't worry about Secret Agent Betsy," he said. "She may be headstrong, but she will carve the path we need."

Sweetie Drops gulped. "I'm not worried about our uncaged rhinoceros, sir."

"Stay focused," he grumbled, cocking his manarifle and rushing out into the fray. "I will need you at your best."

"Yes, s-sir." She saluted, picked up a garden rake for a makeshift weapon, then galloped out of the greenhouse in pursuit. "You can count on me!" She grunted, smacking two changelings aside and headbutting her way past a third. "Grnnngh! Besides... c-can't be any worse than what Horizons and her gang are going through!"

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