• Published 5th May 2017
  • 681 Views, 23 Comments

Whispers - Huk



After returning from a trip, Pinkie notices that her friends are behaving strangely around her...

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Chapter 6 - Shattered Mirror

Xerox - because that apparently was the changeling's real name - walked alongside her queen, staring indifferently at the ground while her memories were slowly coming back, and with them, the sad truth - her kind needed love to survive, and Equestria had more than enough, she didn't betray anybody - if anything, she should feel pride... and yet she couldn't silence that voice inside her head whispering that she was a traitor.

“Your highness, may I ask what should I do now?” Xerox asked as they approached one of the great halls.

Chrysalis replied with a smile. “To be honest, I don’t have any plans for you at the moment,” she said as they walked towards a palace balcony, “but I think we both agree, you are not an ordinary changeling - and since I will now have a lot more responsibilities with running this little country - how would you feel to be my second in command?”

Xerox grinned. “Awesome! I would be super-duper ha…” she was interrupted by a frowning gaze coming from Chrysalis. “I mean... I would be honored, your Highness.”

Fortunately, a smile quickly returned on the Queen’s face. “Good - for now you are dismissed, you can use one of the guest rooms to rest up,” she said as they reached the palace balcony, “but, before you go - you may want to take a look at your accomplishment,” she pointed her hoof at the scenery.

Standing next to her queen, Xerox started looking - the first thing that caught her eye was the green color of the shield, no doubt due to the influence of changeling magic. A few buildings were on fire - others were smoking, but all in all the city was in a rather good condition.

Fellow changelings were everywhere - some were in the air guarding the skies, others were on the ground patrolling the streets - a few even wore armor, no doubt pilfered from the captured guards. Some crystal ponies were on the streets as well, doing chores - with their heads hanging low - but otherwise unscarred.

Suddenly a male changeling approached Chrysalis. “Your Highness..." he said, his voice trembling, "a group of about fifty ponies tried to escape using the old mine tunnels-”

“They were captured I presume?” Chrysalis responded in a surprisingly calm voice, and the messenger nodded. “Bring them in then.”

A few seconds later escapees were brought before the queen and her would-be second in command changeling who was still standing next to her - as soon as the first prisoner emerged from the corridor the feeling of guilt intensified a thousandfold.

Ponies were being marched by two dozen guards - all connected by a massive rusty chain and each one with shackles on their hooves, their bodies lacerated and beaten - it was evident they resisted capture, but the damage seemed excessive nevertheless. Suddenly, the chain revealed a filly, then another and another - all sobbing softly. “Your Highness… pardon my question but isn’t this a bit… excessive?” Xerox asked trying her best not to shed a tear herself.

“No - they were trying to escape, they got what was coming to them,” Chrysalis responded calmly and then turned to the prisoners. “Why did you try to run? You know I’ll have to punish you now.”

At first, there was silence, but then one of the mothers responded with a shaky voice, “Please… don’t punish our children; they are innocent.”

Chrysalis approached one of the crying foals, as his eyes widened from fear. “Don’t be afraid, child,” she murmured, soothingly, while gently stroking the kid’s mane, “I won’t hurt you - but your parents did something foolish, and there must be consequences,” she turned to the terrified mother. “Lucky for you - I am not the monster you think I am... Put the children in the orphanage and the parents in the dungeons," she ordered her guards, "if you behave, you'll see each other in a week or two.”

With that, guards started to separate the sobbing foals from crying parents - it went not without a few incidents: some parents tried to fight the restraints, while others grabbed their kids and didn't want to let go - but it was all in vain. With a few well-placed shots of magic and some physical force, the guards quickly crushed all the resistance and removed the prisoners from the palace - leaving the queen alone with Xerox once again. “That was very generous of you, your Highness.”

“Oh, I didn’t do it for them,” Chrysalis smiled, “after they get reunited, they will release a lot of love - who do you think told them about those old tunnels hmm?”

Xerox frowned. “You mean... you did?”

“Not personally of course - but we left some hints for ponies to find, my elite guards were observing that mine all along.”

“But… the messenger seemed anxious...”

“He didn’t know - not every changeling knows about everything... besides, it’s good to keep you all vigilant,” she added with a chuckle.

“OK...” Xerox responded with confused voice, “if I may - I would like to get that rest now, your Highness.”

“Of course! You are dismissed, my child.”

***

Xerox ambled towards the guest room with the feeling of uneasiness looming over her - on the one hoof, she knew they needed a lot of love to feed queen’s army - on the other, using children like that seemed just wrong. Lost in thought, she reached the chamber and went inside - directing herself towards the bed - hoping that a sound slumber will clear her head. She was about to hit the pillow when a familiar item caught her eye - lying next to the bed was Pinkie’s journal - only then, she realized it was the same room where she ate breakfast with Cadance.

“Hmm, Cadance must have left it here after I passed out,” she mumbled to herself - touching the book made Pinkie’s memories flash inside her head again, sending confusing signals. “Nopey-dopey! I need to control those urges - I need to remember who I am… the Queen knows what she is doing,” she laid the journal on the nightstand and went to sleep.

Even though the bed was comfy and temperature perfectly balanced, she found it difficult to fall asleep. For the next twenty minutes, she was tossing from side to side - trying different positions, but no matter what - the slumber would not come. "Okie-dokie-lokie! I have had enough of this!" she said, hopping off the bed. “Perhaps a teensy-weensy… grrr, I mean a little stroll will help… I need to learn to control my mouth…

Surprisingly the palace was almost empty - sure, there were some changeling guards here and there supervising the pony servants, but it wasn’t crowded in the slightest. The peaceful walk was suddenly interrupted by loud cries, coming from one of the rooms. “What gives? Better check this out,” As Xerox entered the chamber she saw what the fracas was all about: two changeling guards, covered in spilled milk and baby powder - were trying to feed the little princess Flurry Heart, but not having much luck.

“Need some help?” she asked, giggling softly at the view.

“Be my guest! This thing is a little devil!”

“Aww, you never dealt with babies, did you? Stand back - this can get nasty,” Xerox morphed to Pinkie form and approached the crib. “Come to your auntie Pinkie Pie! Let’s do something awesome!”

At first ‘Pinkie’ had no more luck than the guards - but after trying many techniques real Pinkie learned while dealing with the Cake kids, she finally started to calm Flurry Heart down. “Happy! Sad. Happy! Sad. Happy! Sad. Open, shut, open, shut, open, shut, open, shut. Yep, yep-yep-yep-yep-yep-yep. Nope, nope-nope-nope-nope-nope-nope. Oooweooo, oooweooo, oooweooo, oooweooo, oooweooweooweoo!" she shouted enthusiastically, shaking the crib - making the toddler laugh while fellow changelings stared with their mouths wide opened.

Finally, after about ten minutes Flurry Heart was calm and exhausted enough to accept the bottle. “Where did you learn that?” one of the changelings inquired, still a little shocked at what he saw.

“Aww, silly - I was babysitting Cakes’ kids for many… I mean - the element of laughter babysat some children - including this one. Why is the baby here anyway? Last time I saw her, she was with her parents in the dungeon.”

“Queen Chrysalis ordered us to separate her from them for the time being,” one of the changelings responded while cleaning himself from the baby milk, “she said that the amount of love released by the parents during the reunification will be enough to power up the Crystal Heart, even if ponies refuse to help.”

“Yeah - the queen said that if this works, we may be able to use this technique to harvest love from other children too - a much more efficient way than collecting the scraps from the rest of population, if you ask me.”

‘Pinkie’ made big eyes. “Ex-cuse me? She wants to exploit parents’ love for their kids?! What the heck?! She said we could all live in peace and harmony!”

“Whoa easy there, or you’ll wake that little devil up again. Look, we all gotta eat, and now - we need to share the love with that thing that powers the shield, so at least temporarily we need to do this - but if you ask me, we should do this as long as necessary, those dirty ponies don’t deserve any better treatment.”

“If you love them so much, perhaps you should take care of that brat?” the other added mockingly, pointing at the princess.

'Pinkie' frowned. “Okey... dokey... argh… I mean, all right - just have her moved to the guest room I’m using - you two couldn’t babysit her anyway,” she said, morphing into her natural form, before leaving the chamber.

***

After returning to the guest room, Xerox had no more problems falling asleep - time spent with the little princess made sure of that - she had woken up in the morning, just as the sun was starting its long ascend onto the horizon. The sky was cloudy, and light rain was pouring outside. “Aww great, just what I need,” she mumbled, dragging herself out of the comfy bed.

Slowly, life was returning to her body, after stretching the bones - and making sure Flurry Heart was still asleep in her crib - Xerox went for the queen’s chamber, ready to receive her instructions.

Surprisingly, the palace was empty again - this time even the guards were absent, leaving the place quiet like a tomb - strolling through this cold crystal corridors was making her feel uneasy. Suddenly, sounds of footsteps filled the air. “Hello? Anybody there?” Xerox asked with trembling voice, but there was no answer.

Following the direction from where the sound was coming guided her through the private parts of the palace - every room had something beautiful to look at - unfortunately, there was little time to admire anything as the footsteps were getting quieter with every passing moment.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, she arrived at a closed door - oddly enough, this part of the building was rather battered - with old paint coming off the walls and small piles of rubble lying on the ground. The corridor itself was poorly lit, and the door looked like it could fall apart at any moment - a complete contrast with the beautiful chambers from before.

Holding her breath, Xerox pushed the door open, only to be blinded by the bright light. Regaining her vision, what she saw made her jaw drop. "What the...?" she was standing in the center of a large room, full of pony foals - some were crying, others calling for their parents - a few were laying on the floor, rocking forth and back - mumbling to themselves. “This is not right...”

“Indeed it’s not,” a deep calm voice responded from behind.

Turning around, she saw a blue alicorn staring sadly at the scene. “Princess Luna… Okey... dokey... arg... I should have known this is a dream,” she said, taking a defensive posture. She expected some sort of attack - after all, Luna was the master of this realm, if she wanted to she could probably tear her apart.

But nothing of the sort happened - Luna approached her in silence, with her eyes locked at the crying children. “Tell me one thing - are you happy?” she asked closing her eyes for a moment. “This is only the beginning.”

“Of what?”

“Of their suffering - suffering of the innocent-”

“And you were doing so well princess," Xerox interrupted, "We both know this is just a dream, so what are you trying to pull?”

“What you see, is not just any dream - it is the representation of the loneliness, pain, and suffering - these children have to endure after being removed from their parents.”

“Do you think I'm Pinkie Pie?!" Xerox said, her voice risen. "We only separated about ten foals because of their escape attempt - do your homework, before trying to manipulate-”

“FOOL!” Luna shouted, causing Xerox to trip over. “You don't even know what's going on, do you?! Your queen has given the order to separate ALL the children from the parents! What you see here is just a few - out of thousands!”

Xerox slowly got up, processing what Luna said - lying would be a silly thing to do as she could verify her words in a matter of minutes after waking up... Suddenly she recalled what the Flurry Heart 'caretakers' said - how every ‘reunification’ releases extreme amounts of love.

For a moment as regrets returned she was lost for words. "I... but..." Glancing at the crying children, she could feel tears slowly accumulating in her eyes - but suddenly, she violently shook her head. "No! Queen had no choice! We need love to survive-"

“And that justifies everything?!”

“Look! I don’t like it - but I am what I am!” Xerox shouted, looking Luna in the eyes. “If you think I will betray my kind, you are loco in the coco!

Luna smiled gently. “I see there is still some Pinkie Pie left in you."

"Grrr, don't remind me! And don't change the subject!"

"I mentioned her because she is many things... and to say that sometimes she is annoying would be putting it mildly,” she added, rolling her eyes, “but I know her heart is in the right place and I hope her memories include her morality..."

“Come again?”

"I can feel your struggle, I’ve been there myself,” her smile faded. “blinded by my own hatred I ignored all the signs and convinced myself that I was doing no harm… we both know how that turned out.”

“Trying to scare me? Seriously? Is this how you are going to plead for your subjects’ sake?”

“I am not pleading for their sakes... I am pleading for yours,” she sat down, as a single tear hit the dreamland’s floor. “Even after all this time I didn’t fully forgive myself for what I did, and it hurts - every single day. You may have convinced yourself you are doing the right thing, but when the reality strikes back - you won’t be able to look at yourself without feeling revulsion," the floor in front of Luna transformed into a mirror, showing her as Nightmare Moon, "trust me, I know...”

Xerox stood still, her mouth agape - having Pinkie’s memories, she knew Luna was still blaming herself for the ‘Nightmare Moon incident’ - but seeing the blue alicorn on her knees, crying, was the last thing she expected. She glanced at the mirror on the floor, and the image changed - showing what appeared to be the playground near Ponyville school, Pinkie was there playing with the kids, making everypony happy - after a few seconds, the view shifted back, revealing her changeling's face. Looking at her reflection was filling her heart with deep sorrow - Luna was right, no matter how hard she tried to deny it, Pinkie's moral compass was in her head, screaming that what she did, was wrong.

After what seemed like an eternity, Xerox sat down next to Luna, staring at the ground with teary eyes. "What do you expect me to do? Without the power of love, my fellow changelings will starve, what choice is there?"

“Thorax - he and his changelings, they can help you - we already asked him for assistance.”

“He is a traitor!”

“I realize Chrysalis probably filled you all with hatred towards him - but check Pinkie’s memories, and you will find out that was a lie...”

"But..." Xerox paused, as all of the sudden the ceiling was getting very bright, "what's going on?"

“You are about to wake up - please, follow the sound of your heart!"

***

Xerox was awakened by the loud noises coming from the nearby crib - Flurry Heart was crying. "Ehh... here we go again," she said morphing into Pinkie. Fortunately, it didn't take long to calm the little princess down this time. "Sweet dreams little one," she put the baby down and quietly approached the window.

Outside the moon was still on the horizon, illuminating the empty streets with gray and silver - at this hour, Chrysalis and most of the changelings should be still asleep. She approached the crib of sleeping Flurry Heart one more time and smiled. “Okey... dokey… little one - you are staying here,” she said, gently stroking the child’s mane. “Wish me luck - something tells me I’m gonna need it.”

With that, she slowly opened the door and glanced outside - fortunately, the corridor was clear of guards. “OK, here goes nothing…” she mumbled morphing into Chrysalis herself and started walking towards the dungeons.

Fortunately, the journey was uneventful, she passed a few changeling guards on the way, but the only reaction she got out of them was a respectful greeting. Minutes later, she arrived at her destination - most of the lights were out, and prisoners were asleep, that is - everyone but Cadance and Shining Armor - he was staring at the moon through the small cell window, while she was looking indifferently at the damp ground, her eyes wet and wide open.

THUD!

A loud noise woke everyone as Cadance blasted from her bench, trying to grab the changeling through the bars - bending them slightly in the process. “MONSTER!” the Princess shouted with so much hatred that even Shining Armor took a step back.

“Easy there princess before you strain something in that cute body of yours,” Xerox said mockingly, trying to imitate Chrysalis as best as she could.

Cadance said nothing, she was just staring at the changeling - her eyes burning with rage. “Why did you come here?! To torture us some more?!” Twilight suddenly yelled.

“We are all going on a little stroll - I need to show you something,” ‘Chrysalis’ gave a sign to her guards - who started to chain the ponies - to be on the safe side, each cell had only two prisoners inside.

“I am not going anywhere until you give me back my daughter!” Cadance screamed, pushing away the guard who was trying to restrain her.

‘Chrysalis’ shook her head in frustration - it was evident Cadance was in bad shape, and her reactions were understandable - but if this plan was to work, she needed to do what the Queen would do - using her magic, she pushed Cadance and Shining Armor against the wall. “You - my dear princess - are in no position to demand anything!” she added as the guard chained both of them. “But don’t worry - that little devil of yours is perfectly fi-”

THUD!

Her speech was interrupted by a sight of changeling guards flying through the air - before she realized what was happening, a blue blur knocked her off her hooves. “Catch me if you can freaks!” Rainbow Dash, managed to trick the guards somehow and was now on the loose.

‘Chrysalis’ tried firing her magic, but each time Rainbow dodged it or used one of the guards as a living shield - at this rate, all would be out cold in a matter of seconds. “Wait a second - I remember this! She called it 'Rainbow Belly Cyclon' - she showed that fighting trick to Spitfire and her friends a while ago - if memory serves, this should work…” she thought to herself and waited in anticipation. Fortunately, Rainbow was locked up with Fluttershy - who curled herself into a ball and just observed, posing no threat herself.

A few seconds later the last of the guards was lying unconscious on the ground. “Now it’s your turn queen!” Rainbow dashed towards ‘Chrysalis’ - who was firing her magic at her but still missing. She was about to discharge her final blast - but instead, a green energy flashed under her. That was Rainbow’s finishing move, designed specifically for bigger opponents - fly up, dodge, quickly slid down under the belly of the unsuspecting enemy, grab it by the tail and throw it to the nearby wall, or twist it around - whatever works best against the foe.

However this time it was Dash who was caught off guard - she crashed head on, into the magical barrier - normally she would just bounce off, but this shield was small and perfectly localized - it felt like hitting a brick wall. “Oww… what, just, happened…?” she asked as the world was spinning around her.

‘Chrysalis’ responded with a grin, while chaining her. “You gave a pretty impressive show Mrs. Dash - quite entertaining, but now it’s time to move - unless anybody else wanna play?” she glanced at the prisoners, but no one - not even Cadance - was in the mood to fight anymore. “Good - let’s go!”

***

The whole group arrived at the chamber where the Crystal Heart currently resided - guarded by a dozen changelings. “We are here; you are dismissed,” ‘Chrysalis’ said to the guards - causing some unrest, “don’t worry children, I’ll be fine. Do NOT try to enter here unless I call for you - no matter what you hear, understood?”

Reluctantly, changelings nodded in agreement and left the room - leaving the ‘Queen’ with - still chained ponies. “Phew… finally,” she said, locking the door behind them - only now she realized that pretending to be Chrysalis herself was very exhausting. “Let’s change into something more comfortable,” she added before morphing back to her real form.

“What is the meaning of this?” Twilight said with a frown.

“It’s… me - the ‘Pinkie’ changeling - sorry for the pretense but it was necessary,” Xerox said with an embarrassing grin, “I can help you restore your magic, but we need to act quickly-”

“Nice try Chrysalis,” Shining interrupted, “but whatever you are planning - we are not falling for it!”

“Shining, wait... let’s hear her out,” Twilight interjected - but her face had an expression of suspicion and distrust, it was getting more and more obvious that convincing ponies to help won’t be easy.

“Look... I’m super sorry for what happened, OK? I didn’t know what I was at the time - honest!” Xerox said while unchaining the prisoners. “I can’t turn back time, but I can disable the magic damper - if you help me.”

“For a moment, let’s say we believe you - what do you want from us?”

“To drain your magic - Chrysalis is using the power of the Crystal Heart. Earlier, when you shot me, the changeling magic embedded inside of me caused the backfire that temporarily disabled the Heart. That not only allowed us to invade but also to ‘realign’ the Heart’s magic - if we repeat the process you should be able to restore it to its former form.”

“You really think we are gonna fall for it Chrysalis?!” Shining interrupted slamming his hoof into the floor. “You discovered that the heart could be charged by ordinary magic and want to buy yourself some time - it's not gonna work!”

Xerox scanned the group - their faces were full of distrust, confusion, and suspicion - it was evident nopony believed her. “Please, I’m not Chrysalis! Would I risk unchaining you if I were-”

Suddenly, she fell over and stabbing pain shot from her muzzle. “LIES! Nothing but LIES - you FOAL-NAPPER!” Cadance was standing over her - her eyes burning and teeth clenched.

Before she could react - she felt a hit to her left side, followed by a hoof to the right, and then another, and another - the rest of the ponies surrounded her and joined the beating - only Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie stayed back - terrified at the sight. The last thing she saw was a pair of Applejack’s hooves closing in on her head - and then everything went black...

***

After regaining consciousness, Xerox found herself tied up by the chain - her body hurt all over and her normally green skin, was blue from bruises - surprisingly, however, her more severe wounds were all bandaged - she immediately recognized Fluttershy’s handiwork. Nearby - ponies were arguing what to do now.

“This is never gonna work! We are surrounded by thousands of changelings - once we step outside we gonna be spotted in an instance!”

“You got any better idea?”

“Well, first we need to-”

The argument went on - apparently, Shining Armor and Cadance wanted to risk hiding the Crystal Heart and calling for help, but Twilight was opposing. Most of the group just kept their distance - observing.

Fluttershy suddenly appeared in Xerox's field of view. “Um… are you feeling OK?” she asked calmly, glancing at her bruised body.

“I’m fine… more or less,” she said weakly and smiled, “thanks for patching me up.”

“How did you know it was her?” Pinkie Pie suddenly joined the conversation.

“Well, duh! I still got your memories silly - remember? I could recognize Fluttershy’s handiwork anywhere. Besides...” Xerox glanced at the still arguing crowd, and her smile faded, “I doubt anybody else would care enough about me at this point...”

In the other part of the room, the arguing just got louder as ponies took sides - Rarity joined Cadance and Shining Armor, trying to convince Twilight to try their plan, on the other hoof - Applejack and Rainbow Dash supported Twilight’s argument that they should focus on finding another way. Both groups were now arguing fiercely - with no sign of reaching an agreement anytime soon.

Pinkie and Fluttershy kept their distance from the crowd - both watching in horror as each ‘side’ was trying to outshout the other. Seeing this Xerox decided to give it one more shot, “Girls… help me stop this - while there is still time,” she said, her voice barely audible, “I know you don’t trust me but… … ...” all of a sudden she realized it was getting hard to breathe...

.

.

.

.

“Rest your head on my back!"

"...huh...?"

After regaining consciousness, she found herself leaning against Fluttershy. "Yes, that’s it… um - can you breath now?”

“Yes… thank... you,” Xerox responded, breathing heavily. “I can always count on you... I mean they... I...” clenching her teeth from pain, she gently pushed herself of Fluttershy’s, back onto the ground.

Meanwhile, Pinkie - who was observing the scene - approached slowly. “I... realize you don’t know the ‘real’ me guys,” Xerox said with teary eyes, “but please, believe me when I say - I’m sorry, I never meant for all this to happen…”

Pinkie glanced at the opposite side of the room - where the quarrel was still ongoing, then back at the crying changeling - in the meantime, Fluttershy did the same, and their eyes met. No words were exchanged, but both ponies nodded as they agreed on something.

Without further ado - Pinkie approached the sobbing creature and asked her with an uncharacteristically serious voice, “Okey... dokey... lokey - you still want to help us?” Xerox didn’t expect that question coming from Pinkie after what she did to her. The shock only allowed her to nod slightly in conformation. “Then prove it!”

She wiped tears off her face and put a small smile - she knew exactly what Pinkie expected to hear. “Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye!”

Pinkie’s mane suddenly inflated and a smile returned to her face - she nodded towards Fluttershy who was already standing by, with the key to the chains…

***

“Look - we don’t have time for this! We need to act now - enough time has been wasted already!” Cadance shouted.

Twilight responded with frustrated voice, “We don’t even know if we can move the heart in this condition! We need to-”

“Well let’s see then-”

“Cadance wait! You don’t-”

As Pinkie, Fluttershy and Xerox approached the group, ruckus was still ongoing - they tried to say something, but the noise was just too much - it was a miracle that the other changelings actually listened to their ‘queen’ and didn’t bother to check what the commotion was all about until now - but it was just a matter of time, not to mention that the real Chrysalis could show up at any moment.

“Let me try something guys,” Xerox said and tried turning into Princess Luna - at first only half of her body transformed due to injuries. She tried again, but the conversion was still incomplete. Frustrated, she tried one last time - the effort made her stumble for a moment, but it paid off - the morph was complete.

“Here it goes,” she took a deep breath - aimed her muzzle at the arguing ponies and shouted using the ‘royal voice.' “EVERYPONY QUIET!”

Immediately, the argument died down as ponies covered their ears. “Luna! How did you get here?!” Twilight was first to regain her composure.

“I am afraid she didn’t,” Xerox said, morphing back to her original form. “That was the only way to make you stop arguing - sorry.”

Rainbow and Applejack glanced at each other, and before anybody else could react, they started charging at the changeling. Her heart sunk - the prospect of other broken bones was not appealing, but due to her injuries, there was no way she could evade the attack. She closed her eyes and waited for the pain... but it didn't come. Lifting her eyelids, she saw Fluttershy and Pinkie in front of her - blocking the attackers.

“Out of the way guys!” Rainbow shouted but both mares stood their ground.

“No Rainbow!" Pinkie said, using that unsarcastically serious voice again. "She pinkie-promised to help us, and we believe her - she is a friend now!”

Everybody was stunned once again, this time including Xerox herself - being called a friend was the last thing she expected. The momentary silence allowed ponies to calm down a little - only now, after glancing at her broken body, they were starting to grasp what they did to the poor creature.

Twilight and Cadance approached, exchanging some whispers - they both realized that the changeling could have called in her guards if she wanted to, but didn’t - this, plus the fact that neither alicorn had a real plan what to do - was finally enough to give her the benefit of the doubt. “All right, if Pinkie and Fluttershy trust you… so shall we… what do you want us to do?”

“We need to repeat the procedure you did earlier when you tried to purge changeling’s magic out of me,” Xerox pointed at the Crystal Heart.

"How am I supposed to initiate the energy burst if my magic is disabled?"

"The damper cannot completely block your powers - if you concentrate it should work; true, the beam will be super-duper weak, but once it passes through the Heart, its energy should intensify. That should be enough to remove the damper. After that, Cadance and Shining should be able to repel the invasion using the same spell as during the wedding incident-”

“But… won’t the spell affect you as well?”

“Probably… but that’s the only way,” being blasted by an energy barrier was not something she was looking for, but what choice was there? “We don’t have time to argue," she tried to move, but was stumbling, "Um... Pinkie, Fluttershy, could you help me? My legs are teensy-weensy weak...”

The two mares didn’t have to be asked twice - with their help, Xerox made it near the heart, and soon everybody was ready - however before they could begin...

BAM! ... BAM! ... BAM!

“OPEN UP IN THE NAME OF THE QUEEN!”

“Oh, nononono. Not good, not good, not good!” Xerox shouted with an agitated voice. “That’s exactly what I was afraid of - shoot your magic, hurry!”

Twilight quickly concentrated and just like Xerox said, a very weak beam shot from her horn and through the Crystal Heart. “ARGH! OH GOSH IT HURTS…” just like before thick smoke coming from changeling’s body began to fill the air, as she was shaking from shock.

Seeing in how much pain she was, Fluttershy screamed. “We must stop this-”

“NO!” Xerox interrupted. “No matter what happens you m..must…” suddenly energy discharge shot from her body, into the center of the Crystal Heart. “… it… is… done…” she managed to mumble before collapsing to the floor...

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