• Published 25th May 2018
  • 2,221 Views, 969 Comments

Little Consequences - Skijarama



Princess Rainbow Dash and her friends have found themselves in the newly restored Crystal Empire, and now struggle against the forces of Queen Chrysalis and the enigmatic King Sombra in an effort to reclaim Canterlot and save Equestria.

  • ...
15
 969
 2,221

PreviousChapters Next
The Battle of Canterlot

The next morning.

Captain Spitfire of the Wonderbolts had known that there would be two changeling drones linking up with her and the rest of the soldiers en route to Canterlot, of course. She had gotten the letter sent by Princess Rainbow Dash via Dragonfire personally and had read through it several times just to make sure she had understood it right. But she was still having a hard time believing it, even now, when two drones had been brought to her at spearpoint by several stallions from the royal guard reserves barely an hour’s trot outside of the city. She eyed both of them carefully and coldly, unable, or perhaps unwilling, to forgive and forget their part in the fall of the city up on the slopes of the mountain they stood at the base of.

All around them were perhaps five hundred ponies, mares and stallions, ready to go into battle to reclaim Canterlot. And as of that moment, all of them leveled hate-filled glares at the two drones that stood before Spitfire. The one on the left was visibly disturbed by their contempt, despite his best efforts to hide it. He cowered and shook, and his eyes were glued to the grassy ground beneath his hooves. The one on the right with the purple eyes seemed far more sure of himself, standing tall and unflinching against Spitfire’s analytical amber-colored glare.

She gave her windswept fire-orange mane a slight toss before narrowing her eyes. “So, you two bugs are the ones Princess Rainbow Dash sent to help us, eh?” she finally asked in a skeptical voice.

The purple-eyed drone narrowed his own eyes in turn. “We have names, you know, and mine is Pharynx,” he shot back snidely, letting his teeth be shown in a scowl.

Spitfire was not amused. She stamped one of her hooves into the dirt beneath her for emphasis. “Watch your tone with me, buster,” she warned while slowly flaring open her wings.

The drone reciprocated the disapproving gesture. “Then watch yours.”

“W-we are!” The other drone suddenly cut in, putting himself between Pharynx and Spitfire almost immediately. He glanced at the pegasus with a small, hopeful smile. “We’re the ones who were sent to help you, I mean. I’m Thorax.”

Spitfire snorted. “Yeah, Thorax, I can see that,” she retorted in a deadpan with a roll of her eyes. “Look, we’re burning daylight here with the pleasantries, so cut to act three and tell me what we can expect up there.”

Pharynx took charge almost without hesitation, brushing past Thorax. “Changelings rely heavily on swarm tactics and ambushes to win the battles we get into,” he began bluntly, his eyes never once leaving Spitfire’s. “The idea has always been to outnumber the enemy and utilize our shapeshifting magic to cause confusion. Spread false orders, deceptions, and lies. So even though the bulk of the swarm is up north attacking your last remaining Princess, there will undoubtedly still be hundreds of changelings in Canterlot, and that’s a low estimate.”

Spitfire raised an eyebrow, silently impressed with his clear-cut description. She lifted a hoof up to rub at her chin. “I see… misdirection and lies, eh? Then we need some way of telling the real from the fake.”

Thorax perked up somewhat at that, an idea coming to him. “What about a code phrase?” he suggested with a small smile, drawing another hum of thought from Spitfire.

“Maybe…” she muttered before turning a harsh glare on the rest of the assembled ponies. “HEY! SQUAD LEADERS AND COMMANDERS, GET DOWN HERE!” she abruptly shouted, her voice echoing all over. All at once her assembled forces did as instructed, either running forward or flying over to hear what she had to say. Once she had them all gathered, she began. “Changelings can shapeshift; it's in the name. These… fine specimens have informed me that our enemy is going to likely try to confuse and mislead us by taking our forms. So, to make sure we don’t have to worry about mid-battle espionage as much, work with your squads and figure out a set of code words. When you give them an order, they have to respond with the first part of the code. You have to answer with the second half before they can carry out their orders. If anyone fails to question you with the code, assume they are a changeling. If one of us gets replaced, our replacement won’t know our side of the code code and won’t be able to answer when asked, making it clear that they are one of the enemy. Does everypony understand?!” there were several nodding heads and a general vocalization of understanding. “Good. Now get going and fill them in!”

While the commanders ran off, she then turned back to Thorax and Pharynx. “Anything else I should know?” she asked pointedly.

Again, Pharynx took charge of the discussion. “Only that you should be careful of changelings shapeshifting into other creatures entirely. The skilled or healthy ones can shapeshift into wildly different creatures, like rocs or bears. It’s a power hog for bigger changes, so they wouldn’t last long, but it is still something to keep an eye out for, as they will gain all of the physical traits of whatever they turn into.”

“Duly noted. Anything else?”

“No.”

“Good,” Spitfire turned back to the small army and then shot into the air on her wings. “GET YOUR SQUAD CODES FIGURED OUT! WE’RE MOVING IN FIFTEEN!” she shouted out over the sea of ponies. They exploded into activity, with squads, teams, and every other hierarchical structure coming together to decide on their own codes. While this was happening, Spitfire turned her gaze back down to Thorax and Pharynx. “You two are coming with me!”

The brothers shared a look, then took to the skies to join Spitfire.


The ascent to Canterlot had been made mostly in silence. The army was forced to move at a slow pave, sadly, and there was almost no way that the changelings didn’t know they were coming. But still, they pushed on, expecting there to be a rain of green fire at any moment. But, shockingly, none came. When they finally reached the front gates of the city, they found them standing wide open with not a soul in sight.

Thorax could just hear some poor stallion, sounding like a rookie compared to those around him, speak up in a quivering voice. “M-m-maybe they ran away?”

Pharynx snorted and shook his head, having also heard him. “Don’t be stupid. This must be a trap of some kind…”

Spitfire shot him an incredulous look. “Wait, you mean you don’t know this strategy?” she asked in suspicious disbelief. “I thought you were, like, the head of the military.”

“I was the head of patrol, pony,” Pharynx shot back impatiently. “I handled small groups of changelings patrolling around the hive. I’m not a mass-army tactician or strategist. That was always Trachea’s area.”

“Trachea?” Another Wonderbolt, a stallion with a white coat and dark blue mane and tail asked with a scrunched muzzle. “Jeesh, you guys have weird names.”

“Can it, Soarin,” Spitfire snapped at him before grinding her teeth together. Finally, she let out a sigh and began to walk forwards. “Alright, everypony move in. Keep your guard up, there is probably a trap up ahead. Bugs, with me,” she ordered. Pharynx growled deep in his throat at the derogatory name calling, but otherwise complied. Thorax followed shortly behind him without complaint.

The city was utterly silent, save for their hooves slowly and carefully scraping across the battered stone streets. Thorax allowed his eyes to freely roam for a while, remembering how these desecrated buildings had once stood proudly as a pristine testament to the tenacity and strong will of those who built them. The image of streets full-to-bursting with a sea of pony faces filled his mind, and he felt a twinge of guilt. They had all been going about their days, laughing, spending time with friends, families and lovers. It had all been so… lovely.

The serene image was marred when his wandering eyes spotted an old scorch mark along the side of a collapsed building. He could just hear somepony screaming in agony, somewhere deep in the depths of his imagination. That one scream began to multiply, slowly but surely until an entire city of innocence were crying out in fear, confusion, anger, and pain in his mind. He remembered seeing the utter horror on their faces as he rushed for Wind Whisper that fateful day, not able to stop to help any others. He remembered… and he regretted.

Any further ruminations about his past mistakes were silenced, however, when Pharynx suddenly spread his wings and hissed loudly, drawing Thorax, Spitfire, and the whole army to a stop. The pegasus turned a questioning frown on the snarling drone, her wings fanning open and her posture lowering into a fighting stance. “What is it?” she demanded in a harsh whisper.

Pharynx sucked his tongue back into his mouth and looked around slowly, his teeth becoming clearly visible. “Something’s wrong…” he whispered back, his eyes glowing somewhat. Then they snapped wide open, and he inhaled sharply. “THEY’RE HERE!” he shouted, his horn igniting with a rush of green fire. That fire swiftly expanded into a dome that encompassed himself, Thorax, and the front several dozen soldiers, shielding them.

Less then a second later, a blast of more green fire exploded against his barrier, putting cracks all along it and forcing a pained cry to slip out of his lungs as he fell to his knees. There were more blasts behind the barrier, and the sound of soldiers shouting in alarm and pain could be heard alongside deafening explosions. Rubble rained from the heavens in the aftermath of the initial volley, and as Pharynx dropped his barrier to get a better look at the situation, several small stones and pebbles battered him and everyone around him.

Thorax coughed and wheezed through the thick clouds of dust that came rushing into the space where Pharynx’s barrier had been, waving his hoof in front of his face. After clearing some air, he looked ahead and squinted through the haze. Then his eyes widened, and his ears fell flat against his head in abject terror. His heart fell into the pit of his stomach, and in the back of his mind, three words began to repeat themselves over and over again. We are dead. We are dead.

For all around them, a veritable dome of changeling drones had emerged from seemingly nowhere, presumably having been hiding and disguised before their spellfire barrage. As Pharynx had predicted, there must have been hundreds of them at least, and they had the pony army completely surrounded from all sides, in the air and on the ground. Their wings buzzing filled the air, and Thorax could feel the vibrations in his teeth and in his chitin. We are dead. We are dead.

He barely heard it when Spitfire gave the order to engage, and the battle broke out. All at once, it all exploded into chaos. The swarm converged on the surrounded army, hissing and snarling and lighting up their horns with magic. Pegasi shot into the air to meet them, aided by spells from the unicorns, while the earth ponies ran to provide defenses for their commanders and to fight off any drones that chose to come in from the ground. Spitfire, with enough force to create a pressurized shockwave, launched into the air at one oncoming drone. She pivoted with her hips and expertly drove both of her hind hooves into her would-be-attackers belly. The drone let out a breathless gasp of pain before Spitfire kicked out with her hooves, sending him flailing head-over-hoof to the ground in a heap, out cold.

Her brief moment of triumph was summarily snatched away when no fewer than seven more drones rushed her all at once, grappling her with magic and teeth and hooves. Thorax could barely hear her strained shouting over the din of battle as they drove her into the ground hard enough to kick up a cloud of dust. He backed away, his heart hammering in his chest so hard he was afraid it made shatter the chitin on his chest. His panicking eyes darted left and right, taking in the scene around him.

He could already see pony soldiers being forcefully subdued and dragged, kicking and screaming into destroyed buildings, presumably for cocooning. He saw one pegasus leap to try and help one of his comrades, only for a crackling jet of green flames to fly in from his right and explode across his side. He cried in agony as the spell sent him flying like a ragdoll into the side of a building, where his attacker immediately followed to pin him down, green slime already dripping from her fangs. The soldier was screaming.

Thorax’s eyes turned directly ahead, and a scream left his lungs when he saw three drones rushing him. His horn lit up with magic and he kicked back from them, letting loose a bolt of magic. The drones swerved effortlessly around it and closed in, baring their fangs, ready to tear the traitor apart.

Thankfully, they never reached him.

A giant beetle suddenly tackled the lot from the left, surprising even Thorax. It let out a loud chittering screech, its left pincer clamping down on all three drones and throwing them into the street hard enough to crack the stone. The beetle was then consumed in a swirl of green fire, and Pharynx turned back to face Thorax with a grimace. “Thorax, snap out of it and FOCUS!” he shouted before launching back into the fray, grappling with one of the drones that was attacking Spitfire and dragging him back.

But Thorax didn’t snap out of it. He watched the scene around them for a moment longer, unable to move. They were finished. They were outnumbered, they were surrounded and the changelings had the element of surprise. It was over. They had failed. He had failed. Wind Whisper was never going to see Squall, or him, again. She would be lost in the Crystal Empire, alone, frightened, and powerless to do anything but watch as Chrysalis tore it apart, powerless to do anything but scream and cry as the drones forced her into one of their harvesting cocoons. Powerless to do anything but be food.

He could already see the fear in her eyes as the slime fell over her face. He could already hear her screams being muffled and silenced as she was entrapped for the rest of her life.

He could see her end...

No.

And he hated what he saw.

NO!

With a scream of both rage and despair, Thorax was suddenly consumed in a violent pillar of green fire, creating a gust of wind that knocked away everything that was too close. The fighting briefly drew to a halt as all eyes locked onto the tower of glowing green light. The flames expanded and grew, lifting up into the air until there as a gigantic sphere of flames above the city block, casting a putrid green light on the entire city. A low rumble could be heard from within those flames, like a gigantic feral animal growling in rage.

Then, all at once, the flames vanished to reveal the creature that had materialized within. Where once there had been a changeling drone quivering in terror, there was now a gigantic, dark blue dragon as large as a two-story home. Enormous leathery wings snapped open on its back, casting a long and intimidating shadow over Canterlot. Its glowing blue eyes searched the grounds in front of it for a target, and green flames were starting to leak from the corners of its mouth.

On the ground, under the dragon’s shadow, Pharynx looked up with wide eyes and a hanging jaw. “Thorax…?” he whispered, barely able to believe what he was seeing. The dragon roared, the titanic sound so loud that windows nearby began to rattle in what was left of their frame before shattering. Pharynx covered his ears with his hooves, wincing and cringing in pain from the volume. Then, with a great flap of his wings, Thorax lifted into the air. Gusts of wind were sent flying from the movement, causing many enemy drones to go spiraling out of control with shouts of alarm and surprise.

The green flames in his maw surged forward, allowing Thorax to bathe several dozen changelings in a rush of scorching heat. He was careful to make sure it wouldn’t be enough to kill any of them; he had enough on his conscience as it was. But still, his attack did the job. Drones were dropping from the sky left and right, and already he could see his pony allies capitalizing on the distraction to break out of their surrounded position. They formed into an arrow-shape and surged forwards as one, breaking through the dome and spilling out into the city proper.

The changelings were quick to try and restore their dome, but Thorax was making those efforts rather difficult. His wings pummeled the air, creating gales that swept away any drone unfortunate enough to be in his way. He unleashed torrents of flame to scatter the drones he missed. In less than a minute, the dome had completely dispersed, scattering like a popped bubble. Thorax couldn’t help but grin, despite the pain already seeping into his muscles from the exertion.

Of course, the downside of being a gigantic fire-breathing dragon was in the name. He was giant.

And an easy target.

The swarm was quick to recover from his efforts, and those that were not otherwise engaged with fighting ponies turned to start hurling spellfire at Thorax, and many of them changed their forms to diversify their attack. Thorax snarled deep in his throat when he saw giant beetles, massive hornets, and other vicious flying creatures charging up at him. He turned and unleashed another wave of fire on them, but they were able to power through it, albeit with some new burn marks. Cursing under his breath, Thorax gave his wings another almighty flap, sending him rocketing over the city and away from his pursuers.

More spellfire pelted his hide however, no matter how far he flew away from the heart of the battle. The drones had identified him as their largest threat, and they were doing everything they could to bring him down. And they were doing a pretty good job, too, as every single bolt of magic that burned into his scales felt like a dagger stabbing him and filling him with liquid fire. He roared in pain and rage, but was able to maintain his composure to breath out another torrent of flames across the swarm, sending a swath of drones falling to the streets below.

Another spell hit him, this time right between the eyes. He recoiled, reaching a claw up to the point of impact. Another spell blasted him just under his wing, sending a spear of white-hot pain dancing through his body. All at once, his focus on his transformation was lost. In a swirl of green flames, the dragon vanished, replaced with a screaming changeling drone. He tried desperately to bring his flight under control, but the pain clouding his mind made any efforts of recovery meaningless. He opened his eyes and focused just in time to see the roof of the house he was about to crash into. He screwed them shut again and braced for impact.

And what an impact it was. He felt his chitin along his left shoulder crack and splinter when he hit the stone roof of the building, and an explosion of excruciating pain flared all over his body. The roof gave away from the force of the impact, and he went falling down into several something wooden. Shelves along the walls were torn from their places, and their contents spilled over him, continuing to pummel his already weakened body. He cried out when he finally came to a rest, unable to open his eyes through the pain.

After several moments of gasping in pain, he managed to concentrate and open his eyes just a crack. He was in a storage closet by the looks of it and a rather battered one at that. The entry hole he had made in the roof looked to have torn the closet door clean off of its hinges, allowing him to see an unfurnished room on the other side. The staircase leading down on the other end of that room told him he was upstairs, and the doors along the walls of the room implied that he was in a home.

He tried to stand up, but his shoulder reminded him of its condition with an explosion of pain. He crumpled and screwed his eyes shut again, crying out. He could feel tears in his eyes from the pain, and he couldn’t help but imagine Pharynx giving him some flak for crying over a small scratch. Of course, it wasn’t a scratch; the chitin over his left shoulder had been shattered, and if he really paid attention, he thought he could feel something warm seeping out of the wound.

He heard the sound of a changeling drone landing nearby. Hoping against hope that it was Pharynx, Thorax slowly opened one of his eyes. Sadly, it wasn’t Pharynx. The calculating look in those eyes, the thoughtful frown, and the tall, rigid posture told him who it was immediately.

Trachea humphed in amusement. “Thorax… I must admit, I never thought you would be capable of such an astonishing transformation. That must have been quite the rush of emotion to power your magic that much,” he noted, slowly stepping forward. His expression became an impressed smirk. “But even with such a boon, you were foolish to waste it all on turning yourself into a dragon. You know full well that such a transformation would not be sustainable for long. Even our almighty Queen would be unable to hold such a state for more than a few minutes.”

Thorax cowered back, whimpering deep in his throat. “Trachea… wh-what-”

“Be silent!” Trachea interrupted him, and his smirk fell away to be replaced by a pitying frown. “Save your breath. You have very little of it left, after all,” he spat, his horn lighting up with magic.

Thorax’s eyes widened. “You’re… going to execute me?” he wheezed before falling into a hysterical coughing fit, his eyes screwing shut again.

“What were you expecting from me? You are a traitor, Thorax, and you must be punished accordingly. There can be no salvation for you… It is just such a shame that a drone with your potential had to turn rogue… you could have done great things for the hive…” the glow on his horn grew even brighter, to the point that any other colors but green were washed out.

Thorax’s eyes widened. This was it. Time seemed to slow down, allowing Thorax to really take in every single tiny detail of the spell that was about to end his life. He recognized it, even if he had never been taught how to use it. It would kill him instantly. Every single bodily function would cease simultaneously. Quick and painless…

At least, he thought, he could take some comfort in the fact that he had died doing his best to keep his promise. He closed his eyes and waited for the blast.

Before Trachea could let the spell fly, however,, a green bolt of magic exploded across the back of his head. The spell he had been charging instantly dispelled with a loud pop and a burst of light, and Thorax opened his eyes to see what was happening. Trachea stood there for a moment, stunned, before his eyes rolled up into the back of his skull, and he fell to the floor with a loud thud. Behind him stood a heavily panting Pharynx, whose carapace was now bearing several new scratches and scrapes. He took in a deep, shaking breath. “He will do great things for the hive… and you are never going to touch him!” he snarled before leaning against the wall to catch his breath.

Thorax blinked in surprise before trying to stand again. He winced in pain and sucked in a sharp breath through tightly clenched teeth when his left shoulder erupted with more red hot pain. “Ack! Ph-pharynx!” he called out between quick, shallow gasps.

His brother heard his cry and quickly moved to his aid. He put himself by Thorax’s side, allowing him to use his body as a crutch to take the weight off of his wounded leg. “Its bad, but I’ve seen worse. You’re going to be fine, kid” he whispered before helping Thorax limp out of the closet.

Thorax chuckled weakly in spite of his current condition. His ears folded back again when he heard a muffled explosion from outside, alongside the sounds of battle. “I… I bet…” he groaned before coughing violently and leaning even more of his weight on Pharynx.

“Stop talking,” the elder drone warned gingerly, standing perfectly still until Thorax got his coughing fit under control. The two locked gazes and Thorax gasped when he saw the worried look on his big brother’s face. “Y-you’re hurt. We need to get you some medical attention, right now!” he said, his voice starting to shake.

Thorax took a moment to process what he was seeing. He still wasn’t used to seeing Pharynx show emotion like this… He managed a small smile, then shook his head. “N-no… not y-yet. I have t-to do s-something, f-first…” he stuttered out before his wings began to buzz experimentally on his back. Thankfully, those weren’t hurt, and he was able to lift himself into the air, relieving his injured leg of his weight. Pharynx followed him into the air, incredulous.

“Thorax, please! If we don’t get you some help, you might never recover! There are unicorns out there, they can help you!” he all but begged, grabbing Thorax’s good shoulder with a hoof. “I’m not losing you now, not after all of this!”

“I have a promise to keep,” Thorax rebuked before another violent coughing fit rattled his system. He felt Pharynx wrap his hooves around his barrel to help him stay in the air while his wings briefly went out of sync. Once he managed to calm down, he looked pleadingly into Pharynx’s eyes. “Help me get to the caves… please… I need to save Squall…”

Pharynx’s eyes widened with shock. For several seconds, both of them were utterly silent. Somewhere in the distance, they could both hear another explosion going off, a large cloud of purple flames rising into the air indicating it as a unicorn spell. Without a word, Pharynx slowly nodded and helped Thorax fly out of the hole he had made in the roof. The two cast furtive glances towards the battle raging not far away. The ponies had managed to get some momentum back and were now holding their own. They’d be fine for a few minutes. With that hope in their minds, the two resumed their journey towards the city walls, beyond which an entrance to the ancient mining systems beneath the city would be waiting for them...

Author's Note:

Fun Fact: With this chapter, I have decided to change this story's rating from 'E' to 'T' because of the fight scenes and implied blood-loss. I'm still trying to keep it tame compared to what I could do, but a battle is a battle and war is war. It is a brutal and horrifying thing, and I don't want to romanticise it too much.

Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!
PreviousChapters Next
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!