• Published 20th Jul 2012
  • 16,126 Views, 1,430 Comments

The Conquering of Love - Littlecolt

Twilight finds she and her friends are trapped in their own minds and must escape.

  • ...

PreviousChapters Next
Horizons Ch 6 - Reaction

Book Three: Horizons

Chapter Six - Reaction

Within Canterlot Castle, hidden away, hung an alicorn in a glistening, green cocoon. Forming a circle around the cocoon were several changelings wearing black robes. These changelings were unlike others of their kind, though. Their horns, long and straight like a unicorn’s, had holes bored into their bases, and glowing magical gems inset. Their faces were lined with golden, metallic ridges. The changelings stood vigilant, concentrating on the magical energy that was seeping out from the cocoon. In a colorful back and forth display, they would change the energy from red and purple to green, and then send it through a rift at the edge of the room.

One of these changelings stood taller than the rest. He breathed in deeply and opened his eyes, staring across the chamber to the others who stood vigilant with him. He caught a glimpse of one cold, slitted eye staring back at him.

“Mulcibar,” He said, “I can no longer ignore it. I know you must have felt it, too.”

“It’s a massive response,” Mulcibar replied, opening his other eye. “This isn’t like the blip that Vitra looked into. What do you suggest we do, Magister Luzon?”

Luzon brought a hoof up to his long, white beard and ran it down its length. He turned his eyes towards the cocoon in the center of the room, Princess Luna suspended within it as if she were encased in emerald.

“It is not her this time, but if this is a real reaction of the scale I am sensing, I am not sure we have the power to react and keep her contained at the same time,” Luzon said.

“It could just be a dreamer stirring. The spell response would take care of that easily enough,” Mulcibar suggested with a shrug. “Once Vitra wakes up, she can tell us what she found. That should give us a hint.”

Luzon shook his head. “If it is not as you say, the whole operation is in jeopardy,” he said.

“So you would have one of us go in again, just like Vitra did?” Mulcibar asked.

“I don’t know. Curses, if only Vitra were awake,” the elder changeling said. “You and your sister may need to go in, but only as observers. It should be simple for you to assess the situation and get out again without much strain on your minds. If the reaction is an accidental one, you may need to reset the dream.”

“Give me a break, Lulu,” a voice came from Mulcibar’s right. “Vitra was wrong, and now you’re thinking of pulling two of us off here to chase a ghost? Luna is contained! Who else could oppose us?”

“Does the name Princess Celestia ring a bell? How about Twilight Sparkle?” Luzon asked with a groan. I should have expected at least this much resistance from Linnai, of course, he thought to himself.

“Oh, please,” Linnai said with a chuckle. “I’ll give you Princess Celestia, she might know some tricks, but that purple unicorn? The so-called prodigal student? You’re all worrying too much.”

“So you oppose it?” Luzon asked.

“Not necessarily. I wouldn’t mind going in if it meant having a little fun while I was at it,” she said with a sweet smile.

Luzon was not smiling.

“If we don’t have to wake up a dreamer, then we shouldn’t. The queen already had one of them wake up twice, we don’t need another,” Luzon explained.

“I say we just kill anypony who wakes up,” Linnai said, sliding a hoof across her neck.

“Not an option,” Luzon said. “If one of them dies, the whole network would be disrupted and we’d run the risk of having a bunch of brain-dead ponies. Need I remind you they’re no good to us if they’re vegetables?”

“Whatever,” Linnai snarled. “I could take down any pony at my current level, it’s not like we need them.”

“Don’t let your ego cloud your judgement. My decision is that you two will go in and investigate,” Luzon commanded. “Now get it done, quickly! And the rest of you, double up! We’re about to be down by three!”

A groan of protest came from several of the other changelings standing around the cocoon, but the magical aura from each intensified in brightness.

No chance to protest anymore. Thanks, sister… Mulcibar thought, socketing a green gem into the hole at the base of his horn. He closed his eyes and sighed, a frown forming on his lips. He glanced over at Linnai, who had done the same, but was grinning deviously, her fangs bared. Please let her contain her bloodlust…

After a second, their eyes opened, glazed over with green magic. A beam of green energy shot out from their horns and into the stream of magic that was bleeding out from Luna’s cocoon.

“Behave yourselves in there, please,” Luzon said to nopony in particular. “The youngest member of the order, but still a grip on magic to be reckoned with… I pray she’s right and it’s nothing.”

“Apple Bloom!” Sweetie Belle said with a smile. “Weren’t you selling apples over there a minute ago?”

Apple Bloom nodded her head. “Yeah, but I’m done with that fer now,” she said quietly, glancing over her shoulder to where her big brother was. He was involved in the upper bleachers now, passing out apples and beverages. She hoped he hadn't noticed her, and she ducked down a little to try and keep it that way. “Sweetie Belle, we gotta talk. You got a few minutes?”

Sweetie Belle looked up at her father, who was sitting in the stands with her, her mother, and her sister, Rarity. The whole family had come out to see the show. “Is it okay, dad? I’ll try to be back before the show starts,” she asked, knowing that her father was the best one to ask. As she expected, he nodded and patted her on the head.

“Thanks, dad!” she shouted, leaping over the back of her seat and joining Apple Bloom. The two fillies walked to the back of the stands and through the port that led to the interior hallways that looped around the whole stadium.

“So yeah, it’s about Scootaloo,” Apple Bloom started, nervously broaching the subject, “we can’t just keep ignoring the problem, hoping that things will just go back to the way they were by themselves.”

Sweetie Belle turned her gaze downward, listening to her friend as they walked.

“I dunno why it took so long fer me ta’ realize it, but nothin’ will ever change if we don’t do somethin’,” she continued. “Think about all the fun we used ta have before we got our cutie marks. We were always together. We were sorta like family, in a way. You two are like... well, sisters ta’ me.” She blushed slightly as she spoke.

Sweetie Belle nodded her head. “I know. I have been thinking the same thing, but it’s just been so hectic. It’s almost like we got pulled apart on purpose. I felt like we had no control over it,” she said.

“Well then we gotta get ahold of this thing again!” Apple Bloom said. “Starting right now. Let’s go find our lost sister and bring the Cutie Mark Crusaders back together!”

“Are you sure she’ll want to be our friend again?” Sweetie Belle asked. “We were kind of mean, when I think back to it. It’s like we gave up on her.”

“I don’t know… I've been wondering the same thing,” said Apple Bloom. “No matter what, though, we have to at least apologize to her.”

Sweetie Belle nodded her head, and the two fillies continued down the hallway. They didn’t have to look for long. Rounding the bend toward the back of the hallway, they heard a familiar voice.

“You have to let me in to talk to her!” Scootaloo’s voice shouted out, echoing down the hallway. “She was saying such weird stuff, and just wasn’t like her usual self! Please, just let me talk to her!”

“Sorry, but I can’t let you in,” a security guard who was standing in front of a door responded. “I know you’re a friend of Rainbow Dash’s, but she’s on in two minutes. It will have to wait until after the show.”

Scootaloo flipped a hoof in the air towards the guard’s face and turned around. She took two steps, then stopped when she saw Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle standing down the hall, looking at her. She hopped on her scooter and rode to where the others were standing.

“What’s going on with Rainbow Dash?” Apple Bloom asked, causing Scootaloo to stop between her and Sweetie Belle.

“Don’t you two have more important things to be doing besides worrying about my problems?” Scoot asked, a flair of sarcasm to her voice.

“Nope,” Replied Apple Bloom, throwing herself towards Scootaloo and wrapping her forelegs around her. Sweetie Belle had done the same thing, and as their hooves swung around, they each bopped the other on the muzzle. With a bonk and a second of confusion, Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom both fell over, pulling their hooves up to their cheeks in reaction to the pain.

Scootaloo looked back and forth at each of them once and then fell over backwards, unable to keep from laughing. “You two! That was the worst attempt at a group hug ever!” she said between giggles.

The two other fillies rubbed their cheeks, but laughed as well.

“We’ll just have to try again!” Sweetie Belle said, wrapping her forelegs around Scootaloo more carefully this time. Apple Bloom did the same, and Scootaloo’s laughter eventually transformed into light sobbing as she slouched down, not resisting the hug at all.

“Why are you doing this now?” Scootaloo whimpered softly. “I had finally… gotten used to being on my own again.” Despite what she was saying, she pulled her two friends in closer with her own forelegs.

“You silly filly,” Apple Bloom said with a sniffle. “You don’t have to get used to being on yer own… not now, not ever.”

“We’re sorry we got so wrapped up in our talents, we didn’t even try to make time for anything else,” Sweetie Belle added. “We really missed you, we just didn’t know how to, well, say we were sorry.”

Scootaloo sighed. She pushed the two fillies away from herself and stood back up. Rainbow Dash’s voice echoed through the hallway as her speech before her performance began.

“Okay, well now that you’re both here, I’ll tell you what’s going on. I don’t know how, but I know something bad is going to happen,” Scootaloo said, gesturing for her friends to follow her. Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle flashed smiles at one another and walked on either side of Scootaloo as she rolled along at a low speed. The three of them headed towards the entrance to the arena's stands. “I was with Rainbow Dash earlier. She was acting really weird, almost like she was scared about today's show. She told me she was going to do something that would… well, she said it would change the whole world somehow. She was really nervous about it, but she wouldn't tell me any details.”

“I wonder what that means,” Sweetie Belle pondered. They reached the entrance just in time to see Rainbow Dash hanging in the air, orange lightning arcing between her hooves. The three of them stopped at the entryway and stared up at her.

“This isn’t right. I can feel it. Something, somehow, is like…” Scootaloo started, and then fell forward, gripping her head in pain. Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom dropped down with her.

“Scootaloo! What’s wrong?” Apple Bloom asked, looking down at Scootaloo’s pained expression. Waves of orange magic began to spread outward from the Pegasus’ head. She stared up at Rainbow Dash, her eyes twitching with pain.

She reached her shaking hoof outward, pointing it towards Rainbow Dash. “Rainbow Dash,” she said gruffly. “No!”

Rainbow Dash slammed her hooves down, tearing into the air itself through a rift, reaching into it deeply.

All three fillies fell forward, screaming in pain. Their agony went unnoticed, the roar from the crowd drowning out all other sound. Bright streams of colorful magic began to slowly flow out from the three of them, twisting in the air above before dissipating.

“What’s happening?” Sweetie Belle asked, pulling her forelegs tightly against her chest. Her heart was beating ever faster and felt like it was going to explode.

“I don’t know… but we have to get help!” Apple Bloom shouted, pushing her way out of the entryway and into the stands. She managed to ignore the pain enough to stand up and look around for her brother, finally spotting him in the next section over. He was staring up at Rainbow Dash, a serious look on his face. His mouth moved, and Apple Bloom recognized it as him saying “Nope,” as a circular flash of light erupted out from where Rainbow Dash was hanging in the air.

Scootaloo had pressed herself up against a wall and stood back up. She stared up at Rainbow Dash, her eyes shaking, her brain reeling with the worst headache she had ever experienced. Another flash and a loud bang filled the arena. The light somehow balled itself up a moment later, and Rainbow Dash seemed to be holding it in place.

“Rainbow… Dash…” Scootaloo managed to say. Rainbow Dash flung the ball of magic into the rift, and the three fillies once again cried out in pain. A second later, Pinkie Pie burst out of the rift and flew through the air. Scootaloo saw Rainbow Dash dive after and catch Pinkie, holding her a short distance from the ground. Pinkie Pie threw the ball of magic up into the sky, where it exploded brightly. “Was this the announcement? That you found Pinkie Pie? Why is my… head pounding?”

The crowd exploded in a sea of green fire. The three fillies stared out into the crowd, and their minds immediately began to race, filled with images of the royal wedding and subsequent changeling invasion. This green fire was the same as the flames that engulfed the changeling queen when she revealed herself.

“This… can’t be happening!” Apple Bloom shouted, stumbling back into the doorway towards Scootaloo. The green fire began to flash upward. As it dissipated, all that was left was a slight green glow. Some of the ponies began to sprout the translucent blue wings of changelings. “Everypony… is a changeling?”

“No, it’s worse,” Sweetie Belle said, rising to her hooves. “I can see it… like I’m slowly remembering it all… This isn’t real. None of this is real.” A bright pink flash of light shot out from her chest, just below her collar. The area it had come from continued to glow lightly in the shape of a heart.

Scootaloo pushed herself away from the wall and took hold of one of the handlebars on her scooter. She stared out across the crowd, the pain in her head slowly lessening, replaced by a pulse of energy in her chest. “I don’t understand anything that just happened, but I think you’re right,” she said, her voice shaking with adrenaline. “This can’t be real.” A flash of orange light shot out from her chest, leaving behind a glowing patch of magic in the shape of a flame.

“But what do we do, y’all? We can't reach my brother, now. We gotta run!” Apple Bloom said. “We gotta run and come up with a plan! We can't hang around here, even if this isn’t real,” A flash of golden magic shot out from her chest, leaving behind a glowing spot in the shape of a flower.

The three Crusaders stood staring at one another, their minds full of confusion and questions as they observed these strange, colorful shapes appearing on their chests, shining with magic. In the back of their minds, they could hear a voice calling out to them, distantly but urgently. They backed up from the crowd into the entryway to the corridors, their breath becoming heavy as if they had been running.

“You two,” Scootaloo started, pointing a hoof at the others, “You’ve got… some sort of flashing light…”

With a loud hissing sound, the audience sprung to life. Hundreds of changeling-winged ponies launched into the air and towards Rainbow Dash. Pinkie Pie wriggled and shouted again, this time slipping free from Rainbow’s grasp. Rainbow Dash lifted her hooves back up and shot into the sky, the cloud of attacking ponies flying after her.

“We don’t have time to talk about it, ya’ll!” Apple Bloom shouted. “Run!”

The three fillies took off running into the corridors, not knowing where they were running, only knowing they wanted to be anywhere but out in the stands.

As Rainbow Dash shot up into the sky, the dream versions of Princess Celestia and Princess Luna hung in the air, still engulfed in green flame. With a flash, the flame burned out. The princesses emerged from the flame unscathed, but their eyes were glowing brightly. Celestia’s eyes let off a bright red color, and Luna’s glowed an icy blue. They looked at one another and then up at Rainbow Dash.

Celestia snarled. “What a waste of time, brother,” she complained. “Of course a reaction at this large of a gathering would create a massive blip.”

“Calm down, Linnai. Let’s investigate the cause and then get out of here. We’re not to get involved,” he said, scanning the arena. His eyes were immediately drawn to the ponies that were unaffected. He caught sight of Big Macintosh, Celestia in her disguised form, Twilight and Fluttershy, who were still in their hoods, Applejack, Rarity, and Rarity’s parents. “There’s an awful lot of ponies here that aren’t reacting. We can’t salvage this, we’ll have to reset the dream.”

“I’ll find the dreamer,” Linnai responded. “I want to get out of here as fast as I can. I hate being inside a pony’s body.”

Mulcibar sighed. “You think I enjoy being inside a mare?” he asked, annoyed.

Linnai laughed. “I know for a fact that you do.”

Mulcibar blushed and coughed. “Alright, then! How about you just find that dreamer?”

Linnai, still chuckling, shot magic up into her horn, and looked up at Rainbow Dash, who was flying circles around the changelings that were chasing her. Her eyes flashed white for a second, like the flash of a camera taking a photo.

Rainbow Dash bolted up, then pushed into a tight right-angle turn. The swarm of changelings followed her as if they were tied on with a rope. She glanced back and let out a grunt. This wasn’t part of the deal! she thought, beginning a wide circle pattern above the arena.

You’re right! a voice shot into Rainbow Dash’s ears. But it’s exactly what I needed to happen!

As she circled around, bringing herself in tighter and tighter, the changelings began to crash into one another, eventually starting to form into a ball of writhing ponies. Rainbow Dash snapped to a stop and pushed her hooves out. Clasping them inward, the cloud of changeling ponies smashed into a single, solid sphere of writhing limbs and screaming faces.

Rainbow Dash laughed. You can’t stop me now! Not when I’m so powerful! I’ll find you, next! she thought. A white flash caught her eye, and she glanced down in its direction, spotting Celestia and Luna.

What are they doing just floating there? Dash thought.

“It’s not the rainbowy one, she’s just part of the dream,” Linnai said, then training her eyes over to Rarity and her parents, who were now standing their ground against a crowd of changeling ponies who had encircled them.

“Mother, Father, I need you to turn a blind eye to the rather unladylike behavior I’m about to demonstrate,” Rarity said, eyeing the approaching mob of ponies. “These are the same changelings that we encountered at the royal wedding, so…”

Rarity’s dad laughed. “Gee, Rarity, look at you bein’ brave,” he grinned, leaping past her, landing on the ground with a slide, and turning his body as he slid. With a single, powerful motion, his hind legs kicked out, striking two ponies in their chests. The ponies blasted backwards through the air, bowling over several more behind them.

Rarity’s mom grinned and giggled. “Oh, dear, I love it when you get all rough and tumble!” she said, lighting her horn up.

Rarity tilted her head and shrugged. “Well, I suppose if you must,” she said, charging up her horn with magic as well. She and her mother let loose a short blast of magic, zapping another pony and causing its disguise to dissolve. The changeling underneath bared its teeth and hissed, but ultimately fell backwards with the others.

“There’s just so many of ‘em, though, ya know?” Rarity’s mother said.

Rarity’s father just grinned and leaned forward, scraping his front right hoof against the ground. “Lemme show ya why I was the best linebacker on the team in college,” he said, and charged forward just as a flash came from overhead.

Rarity turned her head up towards the flash. “The princesses?” she asked aloud.

“It’s not any of them, either,” Linnai said with a groan. “What is with all these dream fragments resisting the reaction spell?”

“Not our concern, sister. Keep looking. If they aren’t here, we’ll have to expand our search after quarantining the area,” Mulcibar replied.

“The geezer should let me cast the spell next time, he clearly botched the whole thing. I say we purge the place,” Linnai said with a grin.

“What part of ‘We’re not to get involved,’ did you not understand?” he asked, his tone very serious. “Besides, there won’t be a next time. After tomorrow, we’ll own all of Equestria.”

“You’re the worst sort of party pooper!” Linnai protested, but flashed her eyes towards Big Macintosh.

Big Mac applied the full force of his back left hoof to a changeling’s face. He turned his head back and forth, scanning the crowd for two particular ponies.

AJ, Apple Bloom, y’all better be safe! he thought, pulling his head to the side and evading a changeling’s incoming punch.

“Nope,” he said as flatly as ever, swinging his own hoof around and knocking the changeling back three rows of seats. A flash came from overhead, and he glanced up to see the princesses above.

Wonder what they’re up to. They better have a plan for all this! he thought, but then noticed their eyes glowing. Ah, shoot… there goes that idea.

He turned his head back to the task at hand, and spotted Applejack across the arena. Knocking two changelings over in the process, he bolted forward and began to make his way towards his sister.

“Not him, either,” Linnai said with a shrug.

“Check the orange one, on the other side,” Mulcibar pointed towards Applejack.

Linnai flashed her eyes at Applejack and shook her head.

Where’d that dang filly go? Applejack though as she bucked a pair of changelings over the edge of the stands and down into the field. She turned her head and spotted Apple Bloom’s apple basket about a quarter of the way around the stands. Movement caught her eye, and she glanced down at the field. Three ponies in hooded cloaks were running across it and towards Pinkie Pie. She looked just in time to see the pony she recognized as Inspector Orange pull the hood over her head.

Wait a second, though, Applejack thought. If that’s Princess Celestia, then who’s…

She glanced up at Princess Celestia and Princess Luna just in time to have Celestia’s eyes flash down at her.

“Not her. Next!” Linna shouted, becoming impatient.

Mulcibar looked around, his eyes eventually catching motion on the field. He spotted three ponies in hooded robes running towards another pony in an intricately gemmed cloak. “Those four. Scan them. Why would they be hooded like that? And where did that pink one get that cloak?” Mulcibar pondered, pointing them out.

Twilight, Celestia, and Fluttershy hit the ground of the arena and began running as fast as they could towards Pinkie Pie. Celestia pulled her hood over her head and shouted, “Twilight! Get that communication gem ready! We don’t have the luxury of being careful anymore!”

Twilight pulled the pink gem up with her magic and pushed it into her ear. Pinkie Twi’s voice immediately shot through it.

”I take it from the commotion I’m hearing and the magic energy I’m feeling here, something’s gone really wrong, huh?” Pinkie Twi asked.

“You could say that! We found Pinkie! Get ready for a connection!” Twilight yelled, noticing that Pinkie Pie had seen them running at her and was scrambling to her feet.

“Great!” Pinkie Twi yelled back. “We’re ready on this end!”

“Good to hear! Brace yourselves!” Twilight shouted, and then forcefully crashed into Pinkie Pie, pushing her back to the ground. Celestia and Fluttershy arrived a second later, pulling both ponies up to their hooves. Celestia prepared a spell to restrain Pinkie Pie just in case.

Pinkie turned her face to Twilight, finally recognizing her now, and shouted, “Twilight! Rainbow Dash! Stop her!”

“Calm down, Pinkie Pie,” Twilight said firmly. “We need your help to do that.”

“No, look! Look up there! I’m not crazy! I wasn’t crazy!” Pinkie shouted, her voice shaking with adrenaline.

Twilight raised the pink gem up with her magic. “We know, Pinkie! Calm down!” she yelled. “I need you to put this in your ear! You’ll understand once you’re wearing it!”

Pinkie Pie looked at the gem and her eyes immediately widened, almost glowing. Her voice became calm and quiet. “It… it’s like I can see to forever,” Pinkie said. She reached her hooves out and plucked the gem from the air. "So, just put it in my ear?"

Linnai turned her head down and flashed her eyes at the four ponies, who were now huddled up together and frantically talking. Her grin widened.

“Looks like we have a serious problem, brother,” she said. “I’ve never been so glad to be wrong. It’s them.”

“Which one?”

“All four of them.”

Author's Note:

Thank you to all of the people who pre-read this! Your input is appreciated!

"He brought his OC's! Run for your social lives!"

And thanks to those OC's, what have we learned?

Rainbow Dash's dream? Nope!
Applejack's dream? Nope! And not Big Mac's, either!
Rarity's dream? Nope! And not her parents', either!

You have four options left! Who's it gonna be? Although to be honest, I think it's so glaringly obvious at this point, I might as well just tell you.

You are in the chaotic and clashing dreams of all three Cutie Mark Crusaders! Congrats to those who guessed it, and double congrats to those who guessed it and stuck to their guns!

Now then, what do you suppose the strange glowing symbols on their chests are?

PreviousChapters Next