• Published 13th Aug 2021
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The Little Pony Legend: The Crystaling and To Where and Back Again - MaggiesHeartLove



Join Starlight Glimmer as she tries to redeem herself and saves her friends in the process

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To where and back again part 4

"Oh, this is so strange." Discord said, "We're here and that's there, and I clearly meant for us to be there and not here."

"Oh, I-I can probably explain—" Thorax began, only to be silenced by Discord, who cracked his knuckles.

"Oh, well. If at first you don't succeed…" Discord readied to snap his fingers, only to be stopped by P'Li to gripped his arm.

"Maybe we should come up with a plan first?"

"A what?"

"You know, figuring out the best way to do something before you actually do it." Trixie explained, rather bluntly. Speaking as a pony who had to learn the hard way, being impulsive and charging into something without thought was hardly ever a good idea. At least, most of the time.

Discord only laughed, petting Trixie on the head, while covering her face with her magicians hat. "Oh, that's adorable. But you see, unlike you, I can do anything."

"Uh, actually—" Thorax tried to explain again, only to be silenced again when Discord placed his finger over the changeling's mouth.

"That's all very nice, but really a waste of time. We have me. And what else could we possibly need?"

Trixie rolled her eyes. "A draconequus with magic and half a brain might help."

"Why are you here again? I mean, it's not like you're going to stop the changelings by pulling a rabbit out of a hat." Discord explained, while taking Trixie's hat, and pulled out a copy of herself from it. "At least my magic can do something."

"The thing about magic here is—" Thorax, again, tried to explain, only to be cut off, yet again.

"Like this!" Discord snapped his fingers, and was now ridding on a flying pig, wearing a knight's helmet and wielding a sword. "I'm coming, everybody!" Discord charged forward, but once he reached the edge of the cliff, the flying big, his sword and helmet all disappeared, and he nearly fell.

"Yaaah!"

P'Li and Naga rushed to help him back up. Once on land, he snapped his fingers again, sending yet another flying big towards the edge, but just like before, it disappeared. Evaporating into nothing like mist.

Thorax face hoofed himself. "I've been trying to tell you! Nothing other than changeling magic works here. Chrysalis' throne is carved from an ancient dark stone that soaks up outside magic the same way changelings soak up love. It's how she keeps the hive safe."

Starlight attempted this to try and cast a spell over the edge, but just like with Discord's attempt, it also disappeared into the wind. P'Li attempted to shoot a small combustion blast, but it also disappeared before it could even hit so much as a pebble. Even her power was useless now.

"So, uh, what kind of plan were you thinking?" Ali asked Starlight.

"Without magic, I have no idea. But nobody else is coming. So somebody better come up with something." Starlight waited for somebody to come up with an idea, but none of them spoke. "Anybody? Anything?"

P'Li was the first one to speak. "Hmm. This throne – if we get into the hive and destroy it, can we get our magic back?"

Thorax nodded his head, "Uh-huh!"

"Well, that's a terrible plan." Discord said, "How are we even supposed to get to the hive?"

"Well, we do have a polar bear dog." Trixie said, hopping onto Naga's saddle, along with P'Li and Starlight, while Thorax flew beside them.

"Yes, but how is she supposed to take us there?"

"By, walking." Trixie replied as Naga slid down the slope of the hill.

Discord looked at the distance from where he stood, and to where they needed to go, and shuddered in disgust. "I haven't traveled that far in a millennia!"

"Just get on the dog!" Ali exclaimed in annoyance, and Discord sadly complied. Thankfully, he wasn't heavy for Naga so she made her way towards the changeling castle, running as fast as she could.

(~)

Naga made great time with her speed, but eventually the poor creature started to wear out, especially with how hot the temperature was. P'Li jumped off and gave the polar bear dog water to drink.

Discord sighed in despair. "Oh, I don't know how any of you manage not being able to disappear and reappear whenever you want!"

"Well, I, for one, definitely miss you being able to disappear!" Trixie exclaimed, already growing impatient with the whinny draconequus

"Give Discord a break." Starlight said, "None of us knew we weren't going to be able to use magic."

Thorax rose his hoof, "I did."

"If we get separated, it might make sense to have a way to make sure we are who we say we are."

Discord's ears perked up, "Oh! Like a secret code! How about if I say "we are" and you say "doomed"? Or you say "rescue" and I say… whoa!" the chaotic spirit tripped and fell over a stone, making Trixie laugh.

"How about if we say "klutzy" and you say "draconequus"?" the blue unicorn taunted.

"Klutzy draconequus". Works for me." Starlight said.

"I'll definitely remember it." Thorax said, letting out a small chuckle, along side Ali, Mika and San, leaving Discord to pout.

(~)

Thanks to Thorax, the group was able to get past the palace guards, a duo of changelings wearing helmets and armor. The good changeling led the team to an opening on the wall and they quickly rushed inside, with Discord serving as bridge for them to walk on for easier access.

Once inside, Pabu hissed, his hairs standing on end, and Thorax had to pet his head to calm the fire ferret. Naga whimpered at the sight. The inside of the castle was literally a hive, made entirely out of stone, with holes opening and closing at random, as well as jagged rocks on the ceilings, and green glowing cocoons hanging down from almost every inch of the place.

"Okay. I am definitely glad you came." Trixie said to Thorax. "I don't think we'd be able to find our way without you."

"You definitely wouldn't." Thorax pointed to the opening from which they came, only to have it close instantly.

"Um, where's the way out?"

"It's a changeling hive. It shifts and changes like we do, and we're the only ones who can navigate it. It's total chaos to non-changelings."

Thorax led the group down another opening which just appeared, and they walked in as quickly as they could. Discord pulled his tail back, in the nick of time before the opening closed.

"Well, it's decent chaos. I don't know if I'd call it "total"."

With Thorax leading the way, the group walked as close to each other as they could, making sure not to accidentally get separate. Now was more important than ever that everybody stuck together.

Ali, Mika and San flew down low, two of them kept their eyes locked on the changeling, while Ali couldn't help but look at her surroundings. She saw how each pathway opened and closed, never in the same place twice. But, as she examined them, and the further they walked into the hive, she started to notice something.

All of a sudden, her wings, began to reflect on the surface of the walls. This had never happened before. It was as if her wings were serving as magnifying, allowing her to see some kind of markings on the walls, markings that went unseen by everybody else.

"Mika, San, look." Ali signaled her siblings to come closer as she hovered near a wall.

"Ali, what are you doing?" Mika said in a hushed tone. "Starlight said we needed to stick together."

"I know, but look at my wings." Ali showed them her wings, placing them side by side with the wall. Her wings reflected the surface, but there appeared to be some kind of markings on her wings, which were not seen on the walls.

"That's weird." San said, as he also noticed his wings, "Hey, I've got it too!"

Indeed, all three siblings could see that their wings reflected what could not be seen on the walls. Ali dawned a look of determination, and once she saw an opening, she flew right into it.

"Ali! Come back!" Mika called out and she and San followed their sister, just as the opening closed up.

(~)

P'Li didn't know if it was because of the constant opening and reopening on the walls or not, but the changeling hive seemed even more elaborate than it appeared outside. Some aspects didn't even feel architecturally accurate for the design of before. It reminded her of how Twilight's castle was magically larger in size inside than outside, so it could have had the same workings as the hive.

Of course, that didn't make it any less uninviting. The sound of echoing changeling wings buzzed and hummed, bouncing off of the walls from one way to the other. Thankfully, Thorax knew every trick and pathway, so if there came any changeling, he would know when and from where. Still, they were fortunate enough not to run into any changelings at this point. Starlight hoped it stayed that way until they found the others.

"Are we sure that I'll get my magic back when we destroy this throne thingy?" Discord asked.

"If Thorax is right, then yes." Starlight replied.

Discord rolled his eyes, "Well, that's reassuring." he said sarcastically.

"And how are we supposed to destroy the throne when we find it?" Trixie asked, her eyes looking back and forth from Starlight to their surroundings. Aside from Thorax, Trixie was being constantly observant if any changeling came about.

Starlight hung her head, her ears pressed against her head. "I… don't know." she said honestly.

"Maybe Naga can help destroy it." P'Li suggested, petting the said creature's head. "She once bended metallic bars like a box of cardboard."

"That could work!" Trixie said enthusiastically.

"Um, fellas." Discord looked around, his ears lowering down, looking surprisingly terrified. "Has, anyone seen the kids?"

"I thought they were with you!" Starlight said.

"I thought they were with P'Li!"

At that moment, everyone reacted. They were so focused on keeping their eyes open for the changelings, they didn't notice the children weren't with them anymore.

Discord started pulling his ears, stomping his feet in anxious anticipation. "Oh, no, no, no, no! This is bad! If Korra and Mako find out we lost their kids, it'll be a fate worse than what the changelings will do to us!"

"Why are you so afraid of that pampered princess and her overprotective boyfriend?" Trixie asked with an arched eyebrow.

"Says the pony who's never had to face a mother's wrath!"

"Obviously. You really think anypony with common sense would entrust their kids on the Lord of Chaos who can't go for a walk without whining nonstop?"

"Yes, but when the throne is destroyed, I'll be able to rip the very fabric of reality to save our friends, while you'll still be a self-absorbed, below-average illusionist!"

"Self-absorbed?! Why, you…!"

"Cut. It. Out!" Starlight Glimmer came in between the two, pushing them both aside, trying her best to keep her calm, and her voice as low as she possibly could. If she had blood pressure problems, right now, they would be through the roof.

"I'm just barely keeping it together, and it would be wonderful if you two could actually try to help instead of bickering like foals!"

Discord and Trixie looked at one another apologetically, knowing that their bickering wasn't going to solve anything. Especially now that they had just lost three of their companions.

"Okay." Discord said in defeat as he and Trixie followed Starlight up a set of stairs.

"How can we help?" Trixie asked.

"Don't ask me! I couldn't even handle giving advice at the Sunset Festival, and I had magic then! And the three of us are as good as useless!"

"But what about the kids?" Discord asked, "We have to look for them."

"We don't even know where they went. At least Thorax knows where we're going, so if we find them--"

"Um, guys? I think we're lost." Thorax said, standing over the edge of a small cliff-like rock, inside an expanding room filled with spiraled stone pathways, and constant opening and closing holes.

Trixie sighed in exasperation and threw her materials to the ground, sitting. "Oh, great. We might as well just sit here and wait for the changelings to soak up all of our love or whatever gross thing it is that they do. How often do you all get hungry?"

"Actually, I haven't been since I met Spike." Thorax said, thinking about it. "And changelings are always hungry. We can never get enough love."

"Well, that's just super—" Trixie began, only to get cut off by P'Li closing her mouth.

"But you aren't hungry at all now?" the woman asked.

Thorax didn't really think about it until now. But, now that he was. "Huh. Once I made a few friends, I guess I just sort of forgot about the whole feeding thing."

"Is that about the same time your wings changed?" Starlight asked, pointing her hoof at his wings, which flapped once, causing the lights to reflect off of them like a shimmering crystal stone.

"I guess so."

Discord let out and uninterested yawn, "While I would love to sit around chitchatting about feeding and not feeding, I have a family to save!" His last sentence echoed throughout the cave, so loud it would be impossible for nobody to have heard it.

"Can you please lower your voice?!" Trixie said in a hushed tone, "You're gonna get us all captured!"

"Oh, you keep saying that, but I haven't seen an actual changeling since we got into this hive."

Not too long after the words left his mouth, Naga immediately started growling at an invisible threat. "What is it, girl?" Starlight asked, followed by the distant sound of humming, and latter hissing.

Trixie was already trembling in fear. "W-What's that?"

Thorax could feel his heart beating hard against his chest. He knew this sound better than anyone. Even now, it was his least favorite sound in the world.

"A changeling patrol!"

The sounds of screeching and hissing grew louder, as did the sound of flapping insect wings. Naga continued to growl, while P'Li held her back. Thorax was hyperventilating, while Starlight tried her best to calm him down by patting his back.

"This seems like one of those moments where we need a plan." Discord said.

"What kind of plan?!" Trixie asked anxiously. "We have no magic, and it's not like my illusions are gonna save us!"

Starlight's ears perked up and her eyes sparkled. "Do you have any of your smoke bombs?"

"Are you kidding?"

(~)

As the changelings closed in, Trixie smiled cockily at the approaching swarm. "Looking for somepony?" she said before throwing one of her smoke bombs. The changelings flew after her, completely ignoring the smoke, but found she had already disappeared.

"Is that the best you've got?!" Trixie laughed and reappeared behind them in a completely different spot.

The changelings hissed and flew after her, only to once again see her disappear in a cloud of smoke. She appeared and then reappeared in different locations, and each time, the changelings went after her, only to be met with the same results.

When they did finally see her, she galloped away. From an opening above a coriander, Starlight and the others saw three changelings follow Trixie, while two more saw an opening and quickly went into it before it closed.

"Not exactly great and powerful, but effective." Discord said, earning a smug smile from Trixie beside him.

"Hm. I'll take it."

They turned around, only to see another Trixie appear before them. The group hesitantly stepped back.

"Klutzy"…"

"…"draconequus"!" Trixie and Thorax said simultaneously, and the "Trixie" copy turned back into Thorax, who was really the one having distracted the other changelings. Since he was the only one who could still use magic, he took advantage of it.

"Ugh. I really think we need a new code word!" Discord said in annoyance.

"That was a pretty good plan." Thorax said, earning a lick on the cheek by Naga.

"But we still don't know where we're going." P'Li said.

"Actually, we might." Starlight said, "Two of the changelings didn't go with the rest."

Thorax face hoofed himself in realization, "Oh! With an intruder in the hive, they went to protect the queen! Good thinking, Starlight!"

Starlight briefly froze in place at his compliment, as well as from the approving smiles from everyone else. The unicorn gave an embarrassed laugh. "It was nothing. Really, anypony could have done it."

P'Li crunched down to Starlight's level, lifting up her chin. "Don't sell yourself short, Starlight. I bet Sunburst would be so proud."

Starlight blushed at the memory of her beloved, which only motivated her all the more to seek him and the others.

(~)

"I knew sneaking off was a bad idea." Mika said as she and her siblings flew high on the walls of the hive, being careful not to be seen by any changeling.

Ali kept her focus on the walls. Every now and again, they would find markings that reflected off of their wings. The little spirit knew there had to be a pattern with these symbols. They were in a language Ali couldn't read, but many images were drawings, of changelings throughout history.

"Girls, look at this!" San called out, showcasing what was seen on his wings.

They were drawings of changelings, emitting some kind of beam from their chests, and another image left the three nearly speechless.

"No…way!"

"We have to tell the others!" Ali picked up speed and the three flew off to find their friends. This was important information that needed to be shared.

(~)

Thorax led the group down a coriander. "We better hurry. We can't let anyone else know we're--" unfortunately, the changeling was cut off by another swarm of changelings that came at them. Naga growled and charged at the creatures.

"Naga!"

Ignoring their cries, the polar bear-dog used her front paws to swat the changelings away. Using her powerful jaws, she gripped several into her mouth and hurled them across the hive. Even Pabu jumped off of P'Li's shoulder and got the changelings to chase after him, away from the others. But despite the size of the beast, the changelings were no cowards.

Thorax saw another opening, "This way!"

"What about Naga?!" Starlight said, only to receive a howl in reassurance from the polar bear dog. Discord took P'Li, Trixie and Starlight into the opening, and a few more changelings came at them, only to be blocked by Naga once more.

The group arrived at the opening of a long wide stalagmite, with a spiraled staircase that led upwards. Starlight looked back at the opening, thinking about how Naga and Pabu sacrificed themselves to save their friends.

"Starlight, come on." P'Li said hushly, but with much compassion. The group walked up the stairs until they reached a large cave-like entrance with insect wings for curtains, and several changelings sporting guard-like armor stood front and center. This no doubt was the domain of the changeling queen. And where there was a queen….there was her throne.

"Now what?" Trixie asked Starlight.

"We… go in." she replied, still shaken from the experience from earlier.

Thorax trembled in fear, "Even if I wanted to, there's no way past the guards. We'll be spotted for sure."

"We need some kind of... distraction." P'Li said.

Trixie reached into her bag, "I'm fresh out of smoke bombs."

Discord scratched his head. "Normally, I'm the most distracting thing I can think of, but without magic…"

Once again, Starlight's eyes sparkled in realization. "You shouldn't underestimate yourself."

(~)

The insect curtains of the entrance closed after several changelings flew in. The guards looked before them to see a strange, mix-matched creature standing before them, tapping a microphone. Discord still wasn't a hundred percent sure if this would work, but if it was to save his friends, he would do so.

"Hello, changelings and changelettes! Believe me, I was just as surprised as you are that I'm here! When I heard that I'd be playing for a bunch of changelings, I was beside myself! Then I realized, it was just one of you."

Normally, if he had his magic, he would make a rimshot sound effect, but the only sound he heard where changelings snarling. The chaotic spirits laughed nervously, tugging on his scarf.

"But, seriously, this isn't the toughest crowd I've ever been in front of. But it's definitely the easiest to bug!" the changelings gave him questionable looks. "To bug"? Is this thing on?" he tapped on the microphone and the changelings snarled while closing in on him.

Seeing their chance, P'Li used her strength to open the curtains, allowing for the two unicorns, Thorax and herself to go through without the changelings knowing. Once they were in the clear, Discord made his leave.

"Well, if you think that you can do any better, be my guest!" Discord tossed the microphone away and the changelings ran after him, while the others watched from behind the entrance.

"It is absolutely ridiculous that that worked." Trixie said. Though, she must admit, the chaotic spirit did a rather impressive job. Even if she wouldn't admit it out loud.

(~)

Discord quickly hid behind a rock, and the changelings flew by him, taking down another pathway. Once the coast was clear, the chaotic spirit gave himself a pat on the back.

"It is certainly a pleasure to have such dedicated fans. I'll have to come back with some new material after I rescue everybody." just as Discord was about to make his leave, he heard the sound of familiar whimpering, not too far away.

"Please, help!"

Discord followed the sound, his path illuminated by several green glowing cocoons, both hanging from the walls, as well as on the ground. The whimpering grew louder as she got closer, seeing a familiar yellow pegasus mare with pink mane and tail, which was currently smashed under a rock. Beside her was a female human, her leg also jammed underneath the large rock that kept them both trapped.

"Fluttershy! Asami!"

"Discord! We're stuck!"

"You certainly are! And I should probably help you two get free. But... oh-ho-ho-ho-ho…" Discord wagged his finger while laughing.

"But what?" the human woman asked, her raven hair a tangled mess.

"But you are obviously not Fluttershy or Asami!" he said pointing his finger at her nose. The pony and human hung their heads in sadness.

"Oh."

"I mean, I'm separated from the group and just happen to come across two of the friends I've risked neck and tail to come and rescue? I can smell this setup a mile away."

Even Asami began to sniff and cry. "No. You're right. There's no way you should trust us."

"Just go find the others." Fluttershy wailed, tears spewing from her eyes, "I understand!"

Discord still wasn't buying it, "Oh, come on!" unfortunately, they weren't the only ones crying.

From behind him, Discord hear even more crying from a multitude of voices. There wasn't just Fluttershy or Asami anymore, but also Rarity, Ikki, Jinora and Opal, along with more copies of them, Fluttershy and Asami all around, crying while either stuck to the wall, or behind rocks.

"We're probably all changelings." Asami said, her hand hung, the raven locks blocking view of her face. "You shouldn't rescue any of us." she slowly rose her head, the raven locks partly covering one eyes, and a wicked smirk formed across her lips, making the normally kind-hearted heiress look like a twisted sociopath.

"Unless, you think, maybe one of us might be your real friends. Oh, that certainly would be a nasty changeling trick, wouldn't it?"

"It's me Discord!"

"Don't you know me?"

"I'm the real Fluttershy."

"Please help me!"

"Don't leave us!"

Discord was frozen in place. They sound so much like his friends, but he knew they couldn't be them. Even if he still knew it was a trick, he didn't have much time to figure it out.

If any.

(~)

Thorax peeked out, but still saw now sign of their ally. "We can't wait for Discord. Between seeing him, Naga and Trixie, the castle will be crawling with guards soon."

"But if we do manage to destroy Chrysalis' throne, we'll need him." P'Li said, "He could take on the entire changeling army by sneezing if he wanted to."

"He's probably already been captured!" Trixie trembled.

"Hello?" a voice called out, walking through the curtain. It was Discord, trying to call out to them. "Fellow rescuers?"

Seeing him alright, the group walked out. "We can't stay here." Thorax said, "We gotta find the throne."

"Ooh! I heard some of the changelings who were chasing me say that they know where it is!" Discord said. But, the group instantly noticed that there was something off about Discord. Particularly in the way that he spoke.

He no longer sounded genuinely urgent to save the others, nor did her do any of his sarcastic, or comedic gestures or remarks. His speech pattern felt like he was trying too hard to be cheerful. If there was one thing P'Li knew about her chaotic friend, it was that he was never hesitant to be himself. Something wasn't right.

"Klutzy"…?" P'Li said, waiting to see his reply.

"Hmm? Oh. Yeah. I-I can be klutzy. Now, follow me." Discord led them down the path, and the group followed, but they felt anything but trusting towards this creature.

"You know that's not Discord, right?" Starlight whispered to Trixie.

"Obviously."

Thorax nodded in agreement, as did P'Li. This was clearly not Discord, but a changeling posing as him. They have gotten to him too.

The changeling impostor reached two openings and went down the one of the left side. "This way! We're almost there!"

Thorax stopped first, "I know this trick. If he says to go left, we should definitely go right. He's leading us to a swarm waiting to attack!"

Starlight tried to think of a way out of this, while Thorax was shivering in fear. Trixie looked at the two, and recalled the moment Naga risked her own tail to protect everyone. She never seen such a display of loyalty and self sacrifice, even from an animal. Then, something stirred inside of Trixie, something she had felt before, but often brushed aside. Not this time.

"Okay, I'll handle it." said the blue unicorn as she made her way into the left tunnel, "You three just get ready to run into the other tunnel."

"Wait, what?! Trixie, you can't!" Starlight exclaimed, stopping her friend, "I won't know what to do! We've already lost the kids, Naga, Pabu and Discord; I can't lose you too! Without magic, I—"

"Starlight. You got us this far with just my illusions and Discord's annoying personality. You don't need magic to figure out what to do next. I know you're afraid to be in charge, but you are really good at it!"

"Listen to her, Starlight." P'Li said, smiling warmly. "Listen to your best friend."

Starlight felt overwhelmed at the moment. Trixie believed in her, and so did P'Li. Her friends all believed in her, as did Twilight, Korra and Tenzin always have. Maybe, it was high time for her to let go of the past, and finally embrace the pony she was meant to be.

Trixie and Starlight hugged and the blue unicorn made her way into the left tunnel. "Hey, Discord! Want to see the new trick I've been working on?" Trixie placed a cloth under Discord's chicken hand and her hoof, "I call it the "Changeling Catcher"!"

She removed the cloth, only to reveal a colorful collection of tried together rainbow cloths, tied together, binding their wrists. The changeling snarled, having been found out.

"Run!"

Starlight, Thorax and P'Li followed Trixie's command and hurried to the other tunnel. The Discord importer changed back into a changeling and flew after them, only to be stopped by Trixie's long string of multi-colored cloths, which she used to hold the changeling back. Hissing sounds were heard from above, as the swarm revealed themselves before her.

"Ta-da…" Trixie chuckled nervously, and prepared for the swarm to come at her.

(~)

Starlight Glimmer, P'Li and Thorax panted as they made their way down the right tunnel. They heard changeling wings buzzing, and the silhouette of the creatures fly by. Starlight pointed down and tunnel, to which she and P'Li both took, while Thorax took the other.

The room gave an eerie green glow, more so than any of the other rooms, It was even larger in scale, with several stone pillars sustaining it. Starlight walked deeper into the room, feeling a wet, gooey substance land on her horn.

Looking upwards, she saw them.

All of her friends, from Team Avatar, the airbenders, Lin and her entire police force, the alicorns, even Sunburst, Discord, Trixie, Naga, Pabu, everyone. Each one hung upside down in a cocoon, filled with green liquid. Some managed to open their eyes, only to be closed again. Some even had their limbs twitching slightly, almost as if their minds were actively trying to escape, but their bodied could not respond completely.

The cocoons hung everywhere, on the walls, all across the ceiling, each one with an airbender and police officer. There was no time to waste, she had to find a way to free everyone.

Right in the center of the room, and underneath the cocoon, stood the queen's throne, rising from the ground. Like the changelings' legs, it had severals holes around it, even on the large spider-web styled chair. A green light shinned downwards, illuminating its stone surface.

As Starlight approached it, the sound of evil laughter stopped her in her tracks. She knew this voice. All too well.

"One little pony all by herself." the voice said. The sound of insects scattering was heard from above, and a skinny creature with torn insect wings, and teal colored tail, with long legs, adorned with holes, and a green insect-shell on her back. Her joints cracked as she moved upside-down. It especially didn't help that her green eyes were exaggeratively widened, making her look all the more creepier.

She was now face to face with none other than Queen Chrysalis herself.

"Oh, how will I ever prevent this daring rescue?" she taunted as was her head, which turned upwards in the most unsettling fashion.

Changelings emerged from the openings on the walls, screeching and hissing at the intruder, outnumbering her and binding her front legs to the ground with a green sticky substance.

Chrysalis flew down from the cocoons and landed on her throne, laughing at the unicorn. "Well, well, well. It would appear that one little airbender pony got away from me. No matter. Even if you weren't foolish enough to come, nopony would have believed you over their beloved heroes."

Starlight strained to break free of her bindings. "You won't get away with this!"

"I already have." Chrysalis said, showcasing her prisoners above her. "Nopony is coming to save you. Your little squad was it. And now, there's just you."

"Thorax is still out there."

"Don't mention that traitor's name in my kingdom!" the queen spatted and flew down, snarling at the imprisoned pony. "He was a fool to leave and even more a fool to return! When I find him, he'll learn just what happens to those who betray the hive!"

Starlight whimpered as Chrysalis gazed into her eyes, noticing an interesting lack of reflection in them. There was only one creature in Equestria who she knew had eyes like these.

"And it seems I don't have far to look, do I…Thorax?"

Chrysalis's horn glowed a sickly green and shot a green blast at the unicorn, engulfing the pony a green glow, revealing his true form. The changelings hissed at the traitor, who shrunk down as the queen towered over him, ready to make an example of him to everyone.

She stopped when she heard rocks pounding on her throne. The real Starlight Glimmer, along with P'Li, where using rocks to try and break the throne. So far, P'Li was having better luck due to her physical strength, but it still wasn't enough. The two were discovered and jumped out of the way when Chrysalis shot a green beam at them. The two friends hid inside the throne, with P'Li carrying Starlight in her arms.

"Very clever." Chrysalis half taunted as she looked for them inside her throne, the two hid from her view sight as best they could.

"And clearly Thorax revealed to you the secret of my throne. I can't have powerful ponies and benders using their abilities against me. Even with your rather embarrassing little rescue attempt, everything has gone according to my plan."

"What plan?" P'Li asked, "Why did you do all this?!"

Queen Chrysalis stuck her head into the hole near the girls, who reeled back. "So I could feed, of course! By replacing the most beloved figures in Equestria and in the human world, my drones will be able to store all the love meant for them and return it here to me."

"And replacing the airbenders and police force, you'd have the perfect alibis to help keep the charade, right?" Starlight said, narrowing her eyes.

"Correct, little pony. After all, the Air Nation is rather beloved by many, and the police force will make sure to silence anyone who is the wiser. What better cover than law enforcement?" she said as she sat back on her throne. "From this day forward, everyone will do as I command, and my subjects and I will feed on their love for generations!"

Chrysalis laughed maniacally while her changelings hissed in delight. P'Li remained inside the throne, while Starlight gestured she would go out to try and distract the queen while the combustion woman found a way to break the throne.

The unicorn hid behind a rock, trying to come up with a plan. She saw Thorax trembling in fear, his crystalized wings shimmering. She remembered how Thorax no longer needed to feed like the other changelings once he learned how to share love rather than steal it. Maybe the solution didn't need to be violence. Maybe...

"What if you didn't have to?" Starlight asked, prompting the queen to land before her.

"Ridiculous!" Chrysalis hissed, snatching Starlight by the tail and throwing her across the room. P'Li watched in horror at the treatment of her friend, while the guards held her down.

"The hunger of changelings can never be satisfied!"

"Exactly!" Starlight explained, "Thorax left the hive and made a friend. He shared love, and now he doesn't need to feed. You don't have to live your lives starving all the time!"

The changelings all looked at one another in confusion. They did wonder why Thorax's wings were suddenly the way they were. Could it really be the result of sharing love instead? How was that possible? Changelings don't know how to give love.

Did they?

Queen Chrysalis's horn's glowed, levitating Starlight to her in a green glow, her pupils shrinking in reflection of her anger. "You know nothing of the changelings or what it takes to be their queen!"

P'Li saw Chrysalis toss Starlight once more, hitting the wall. This encouraged the combustion woman to work harder at breaking the throne from the inside. Once they had their magic, they will be able to stop the queen. But no matter how hard she tried, all she could do was a few small dents, and that was by hitting the same place constantly. The dent was barely enough to break the thing. The would need something stronger to break this throne, but Naga was already captured, and no doubt even the polar bear dog wouldn't be enough.

Chrysalis towered over Starlight, while the other changelings reeled back. P'Li then noticed something peculiar. The changelings looked…frightened. Frightened by their queen, and the idea that she had complete dominion over what they choose to do. A queen so filled with pride and self-adoration believed she could force her subjects to do things she believed were for their own good, but were harming others in the process. She kept preaching she was doing it for her subject so they could eat, but what good was it if others got hurt for her cause.

Just like with Zaheer all those years ago. Or, even Starlight when she forced other ponies to give up their cutie marks so they wouldn't argue over differences. She was reminded of what Princess Korra used to say.

At the core, we're really not so different after all.

"I decide what is best for my subjects, not some mewling grub!" the queen spatted, but Starlight Glimmer stood her ground, speaking the truth.

"I know what it's like to lead by fear and intimidation!" Starlight said, "And I know what it's like to want everypony to do what you say because you're scared of loosing everything! But I was wrong. A real leader doesn't force her subjects to deny who they are! She celebrates what makes them unique and listens when one of them finds a better way!"

The changelings all looked at one another. The pony's words didn't make all that much sense? The idea of them actually having a choice? That there could be a better way to life than just constantly seeking food? Could it be possible?

"But, stealing love is the only way we know." once changeling said, prompting Chrysalis to hiss in his direction. The changeling cowered in fear.

"Enough! The only thing Thorax has found is what happens to those who turn their back on the hive!" Chrysalis's horn glowed green, ready to attack the frightened changeling. But before she could, she felt something sharp slice her cheek.

"AH!" she screamed in pain, rubbing the area which stung. Green blood oozed out and she saw the culprit. A winged lizard creature with green/blue scales, with two more hovering beside her.

Starlight smiled in relief, "Ali! San! Mika! You're okay!"

"Starlight Glimmer is telling the truth!" Ali said, speaking loudly for all to hear. "You don't have to spend your lives stealing love to survive. Your ancestors found a better way, just as Thorax did. Look!"

The three spirits positioned themselves, forming a triangle within the room, their wings reflecting the green light illuminating the cave, causing rays to hit the walls, revealing markings, symbols and drawings of changelings. Some were in one form, their current states with broken legs, torn wings and fangs. But, another revealed something else.

When one changeling was stealing love from some innocent pony, in another image, was a changeling emitting a ray from his chest, a ray that was restoring love to the pony, and the changeling didn't have holes on his legs or torn wings. But wings that appeared whole.

The changelings gasped and questioned amongst each other, while Chrysalis hissed. "How is this possible? You have no magic in my kingdom!"

"Magic has nothing to do with it!" Ali replied, "Our dad always said; No matter how well it's hidden, the truth will always revel itself. Chrysalis has been keeping this knowledge from all of you!"

"Why?" Thorax asked, "If you always knew we could find a better way than steal love, why didn't you tell us?"

Chrysalis hissed, her spit nearly hitting his eye. "Because what good is to give love when at the end, all you wound up with is nothing!? Everypony preaches about how "love is so powerful", "Love is about giving, never taking"!" she said, making a bad happy pony impersonation. "Bah! That's exactly the problem! It's all give, give, give, give, it's all about giving! The more you give, the more you lose! But by taking, we can have everything! We can have power, unlimited food, we can have it all to ourselves! And we never have to lose it. Don't you see? When changelings learn to give love, they stop caring about themselves. That's the very definition of weakness!"

"You're wrong!" Thorax voiced out, loosing all of his fears and addressing the queen with great courage. "You said I was loosing everything when I left the hive, but the opposite is true! Sure I left my home behind, but if I hadn't I wouldn't have made friends who love me for me. I don't care about what I lost, because what I have now is everything I could ever want. Yes, love is about giving, but by giving everything, you gain so much more. Eventually, the food you get will run out, and then you'll just keep searching for more, and never be satisfied. I already am satisfied! You may be queen, but you will always be a lonely, greedy, selfish, coward!"

Chrysalis released a blood curling screech, her irises shrinking, her eyes bulging due to her increasing anger. Using her magic, she trapped the three lizard spirits in sticky green good, trapping them to the wall and the levitating Thorax up into the hair.

"You will pay for your insolence!"

"No! Stop!" Starlight cried out, but was stopped by the other changelings.

"Just as soon as I drain every last ounce of love from him and show my subjects what a real leader is!" Chrysalis opened her mouth, and from Thorax's stomach, came out a sparkling pink mist that made it's way into the queen's mouth, which was opened wide in the most psychotic smile.

"No!" P'Li ran out of the throne, and ran right into Thorax, pushing him out of the way, saving his life…but at the risk of her own.

"P'Li!" Starlight screamed in terror at watching Chrysalis instead begin to suck up all the love within the combustion woman. P'Li got down on her knees, the pink energy sucking away from her body and into Chrysalis's stomach. Her hair started to turn white, her skin became wrinkled, the color in her eyes dulled and she collapsed to the ground. Chrysalis licked her lips once she had all of the love inside of her. It might not have been Thorax, but anything that she could feed on was good enough for her.

Starlight watched helplessly at P'Li, who now looked like an elderly woman, laying on the ground, struggling to stand up. Her eyes were still open, but they were hazy, dull and lifeless. Her fingers twitched as if trying to move, but she could feel her heartbeat slowly stopping. She wouldn't' last long.

The unicorn shed tears of heartbreak. "No…no!"

Thorax couldn't believe P'Li sacrifice her life for his. She acted out of friendship, and love. It was then, something ignited within Thorax, something that prompted him to stand back up, and growl in anger at Chrysalis.

The queen laughed maniacally. "See what happens when you give for love? Maybe this will teach you not to question your queen!"

Thorax hissed threateningly and charged at Chrysalis, tapping into the strength he never knew he had and was able to knock her down. The queen rolled across the floor, hissing in reply. Thorax hissed in return and the two changelings took to the air, battling. Chrysalis shot beams of green magic at Thorax, who managed to dodge each attack, zooming down and knocking again against the queen. Chrysalis never knew a changeling could be so powerful.

"You could have been one of my most powerful drones, Thorax!" she said, "You could have had everything!"

Thorax only hissed and charged at the queen, hissing and scratching at each other like felines on wings. Thorax managed to bit Chrysalis's mane and yank her away, flinging her across the room where she hit her throne, hard, creating a crack. The queen sneered at this and was able to knock Throax down. He groaned deliriously from the impact and Chrysalis took the chance to subdue him with her magic once more. She smiled wickedly.

"Now, where was I?" she opened her mouth again, sucking in the love from the changeling.

Thorax strained to keep the love inside of him, but it would appear the queen had finally bested him. "I can feel the love inside me slipping away...! I can't hold onto it much longer…!"

Starlight could only look on with blurry eyes, trying desperately to think of a way out of this. But, it would seem all hope was lost.

Or, maybe not. She remembered the images from the wall. Maybe there was still hope.

"Then don't! Sharing love is what made you different to begin with! You should share yours with Chrysalis! Give her all of it!"

Thorax let go of his fears, and instead, allowed all of the love he had shared to expand. To be set free. Suddenly, a powerful wave of energy came shooting from his chest. From his heart. The pink colored beam shook the very cave, and Chrysalis could no longer absorb it. She could feel herself being pushed back. The force was too strong, she couldn't control it.

She was sent flying through the air, once again crashing into her throne. The crack from earlier grew in size, and several more cracks formed across the base. The queen watched helplessly as Thorax's body radiated with such a powerful energy she could no comprehend.

Suddenly, the energy wrapped itself around Thorax, creating a cyan-colored cocoon that radiated with light and hovered above the ground. The changelings which where holding Starlight back allowed her to step forward, hesitantly reaching for the shimmering cocoon.

It expanded, a brilliant light filled the room, and Thorax was released. Starlight opened her eyes, having closed them due to the powerful rays, and gasped at the sight.

The little changeling also opened his eyes, looking down at his body, he realized he was…taller now. He felt different, and judging by his new light lime green colored hooves…he looked different as well.

Thorax was now almost the size of Princess Celestia. His legs and head where now light lime green, with traces of brilliant orange fading down his neck, which was adorned with bright blue opal stones. His stomach was mow a moderate emerald green, with a dark azure back and moderate rose shells, which were open revealing his new sparkling violet wings. Even his tail appeared to resemble his wings. His eyes were moderate rose as well, his ears with an orange inside, his horn still remained, but now had orange beetle-like mandibles on his head, resembling the horns of a mighty stag. He studied his new body, and looked at the other changelings, who had their jaws dropped at the sight. They have never seen such a change before in their lives.

Thorax was at a loss for words, but his new form didn't matter much as he looked over at P'Li's unmoving body. Her breathing was slowly decreasing. She wouldn't last long. He approached her, pressing his two new horns to her side. They emitted a light turquoise magical aura which engulfed P'Li's entire body. Her hair became dark brown again, her skin youthful and smooth, her eyes bright again, and her heart was beating at a normal rate. She gasped for oxygen and jolted upwards. Her body felt stronger now. Her heart felt stronger.

Starlight shed tears of joy and ran up to the human, who embraced the pony lovingly. P'Li looked up at the new creature.

"Thorax?"

"Yes." he replied. He sounded almost the same, only slightly older now. It was still him, and he looked…beautiful. "You sacrificed yourself for me. Why?"

She smiled. "…That's what friends do."

Thorax smiled and used his new powers to free the spirit children, who gathered around the three. Starlight addressed to the other changelings.

"See? This is what happens when you give love freely instead of taking it!"

The changelings didn't need anymore convincing. They saw the images on the walls, they saw the transformation. They saw what real love was. P'Li gave her life for Thorax, but in the process because of his own love, she was revived. They now understood. When you share love, it becomes stronger. Taking it left them empty no matter how many times they fed. They didn't want this, Chrysalis did. They had a choice in the matter, they knew that now.

One by one, each changeling decided to do what they were always taught they couldn't do. They shared love. Rays of pink colored magic shot from their hearts, engulfing the entire cave in a brilliant aura, so powerful it began to crack Chrysalis's throne. The queen watched in horror as her entire throne room was blasted away. Her throne broke into a million pieces, and all she could was watch helplessly as her own subjects turned against her. They accepted love, and left her…with nothing. Just as she always feared.

The top of the castle was completely destroyed, but now with the throne gone, Starlight could crate a force field that protected her, P'Li, the children and Thorax. The group looked on in astonishment at the changelings.

No two looked exactly alike anymore. They each had their own color schemes, eyes, shells, wings. They…they were beautiful! And they no longer had holes on their legs, or felt hungry, not in the slightest. They never imagined they could feel this way. They felt free. Happy, for the first time in their lives! And nobody frightened them into doing this. They chose it freely. Their kingdom was made anew, and so were they!

The cocoons which had kept the prisoners inside had broken, green ooze spilled on the ground as the Mane Six woke from their slumber, helping each other back up. Flash helped Twilight back up, the alicorn stretched out her wings, seeing all of the green slime on her feathers. They were slightly delirious, and unsure on what had happened.

Korra rubbed her head, groaning as she awoke, feeling the slimy substance on her hair. She ignored it and assisted Mako back up. Ali, Mika and San flew towards their parents, happily kissing their cheeks, and Naga came in, licking Korra's face.

Bolin helped Asami back up and Pabu crawled up his shoulder. Starlight saw Trixie and Sunburst emerge from their cocoons, and she rushed on over to hug them, crying tears of joy.

Opal assisted her aunt Lin to her feet, while Luna and Celestia both assisted their mother to her hooves again. Cadance and Shinning Armor were reunited with Flurry Heart at last, and Thorax helped free his friend, Spike. Airbenders helped one another, as well as the police officers, each one questioning where they were and what had happened.

Discord felt like he had been dreaming the whole time as he staggery got up.

"Discord?" a voice called out. He knew who it was. He turned around.

"Fluttershy?"

It was her. It was them. Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Applejack, Spike, Pinkie Pie, Mako, Korra, Bolin, Asami, Opal, the airbender kids, all of them! Discord knew it was. He knew they were his friends. He didn't waste a second and wrapped them all in a gigantic bear hug.

"You're all okay!" he said with such happiness, he was almost on the verge of tears.

"It's, um, good to see you, too." Jinora said as he hugged tighter.

Tenzin was helped by his wife, while a changeling returned to them their son Rohan. Starlight helped her teacher back up as well, the elder rubbed his head.

"Starlight? What happened?" Tenzin asked.

"Well, you were all kidnapped by changelings, we defeated them with no magic at all, and... they're all kinda... good now."

Thorax nodded his head, and upon seeing him, Fluttershy approached the creature. Looking at him curiously. Could this really be the same kind-hearted changeling she met at the Crystal Empire?

"Thorax?"

"It's me, Fluttershy." he said. His voice did sound familiar. The pony gazed into his eyes, and immediately she recognized that aura of kindness she saw before. The pony smiled and hugged him.

"It is you!"

Princess Luna approached the unicorn, smiling proudly. "Well done, Starlight Glimmer. It seems as though you've learned a great deal since we last spoke."

The entire crowed turned their heads in alarm when something began to move underneath the rubble. Queen Chrysalis emerged, hissing threateningly at everyone, only to stop upon seeing how outnumbered she was. Ponies, alicorns, changelings, airbenders, earthbenders, non-bender, dragon, draconequus, spirits. All species, all together, facing the former queen. She couldn't fight them all on her own. Their power was far too grate. As much as she hatted to admit it, she would have to accept defeat.

Starlight, on the other hand, was the only one to approach Chrysalis. The winds flapped in their manes.

"When Team Avatar defeated me, I chose to run away and seek revenge! You don't have to! You can be the leader your subjects deserve."

Everyone else watched in anticipation, as Starlight Glimmer did exactly what Twilight Sparkle did for her not too long ago.

She offered Chrysalis her hoof in friendship. The looked looked at her hoof, and then at the unicorn. Her eyes shimmered, a glimmer of hope sparkled within them. Slowly, Chrysalis rose her hoof, reaching for Starlight…

Only to swat it away in anger.

"There is no revenge you could ever conceive of that will come close to what I will exact upon you one day, Starlight Glimmer!" Chrysalis rose up and sneered at the others. "I'm not finished with any of you! Someday, I will get my power back! And when I do, everything you know, everything you love, will be mine!"

The changeling queen flapped her wings to make her escape, only to suddenly realize that her wings could no longer carry her weight. They flapped, but they could not carry any altitude. She knew her power was weakened, but she didn't expect not being able to fly as well.

"No. No, no!"

She tried to reach back for the cliff, her legs moving in rapid desperation to reach land again, but before anyone could reach out and pull her in, Chrysalis's weight gave in and she fell down from the tower at accelerating speed, screaming as she went.

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!"

Her screaming came to a halt, followed by the crushing sound of her body, piercing and breaking apart once it landed. Green ooze spilled from every piece, parts of her body had broken apart, her entire anatomy was dis-alined.

From above, everyone cringed, screamed, and gaged at the sight. It was hard for them to genuinely feel sorry when the carcass was so…unsettling to look at.

"Eww!"

"Gross!"

"That is nasty!"

"I think I'm gonna be sick!"

Flash had to cover his mouth and look away, feeling the food coming back upstream. "That is not a pretty way to go."

"I can't tell what's her face or her stomach!" Opal said, looking down through her fingers, trying to look away from the sight.

But, despite the horrifying sight, Starlight was genuinely saddened that Chrysalis denied her offer of friendship. Twilight wrapped her hoof around the unicorn, smiling.

"I tried." Starlight said.

"I know. And I'm very proud of you."

"So, what happens now?" Thorax asked.

"Well, now with Chrysalis, the changelings are going to need a new leader." Korra said, gesturing to the other newly colorful creatures, who all bowed before Thorax.

Thorax himself took a few steps back, "M-Me? But, I can't be their king. I don't know how."

"Of course you do." Starlight said, "When you really needed to, you faced against Chrysalis all by yourself."

"Yeah, but I was still scared."

"That doesn't matter. Everyone gets scared, but you were brave enough to face that fear to protect your friends."

"Well, if that's the case, then that's what I'll be." Thorax's body changed into a more miniature version of his new self. His stomach, eyes and back remained the same color, and his mandrils were gone, but still kept his horn and the stones around his neck. His legs and head were now a grayish olive green, with faint yellow green on his neck and the tip of his horn. When he spoke, his voice sounded exactly as it did when he was in his original form.

"I'll be your leader, but before anything…I want you all to see me as your friend. I may have to take some time getting used to the whole "king" thing."

Leilani nodded her head, "Well Thorax, as the new leader of the changelings, I look forward to discussing how we can improve our relationship in the future." she said with a bow, which he returned. The queen turned back to the others. "However, for the moment, perhaps it is best that we leave the Changeling Kingdom to the changelings."

"Well, this place is definitely going to need some changes." said Thorax. "We can restore the land to how it used to be. Have the forest grow again, and maybe even have the animals return."

"Oh, that sounds wonderful!" Fluttershy said eagerly, "And if you ever need any help, you know where to find me."

"I always will." he said, rather boldly. The changeling blushed and turned away shyly. Fluttershy blushed as well, both smiling sweetly.

"Discord, why are you wearing a sailor's hat?" Bolin asked the chaotic spirit, who was indeed wearing a sailor hat.

"Oh, this? Nothing! Nothing at all. Why you ask?" he immediately tossed aside the hat, whistling innocently.

"Discord was pretty worried about all of you." Mika said to her parents.

"I was not! I was just…well, okay I was concerned, but I wasn't that worried."

"Oh, really?" Mako asked, arching an eyebrow, smiling smugly.

Discord noticed everyone looking at him, and the spirit just sighed in defeat. "Alright, alright. Yes, I was worried sick. When I heard Chrysalis took all of you, I realized I…I….I lo--" he struggled to say, and cleared his throat. "I lo…lo….looo…."

"We love you too, Discord." Fluttershy finished for him.

Discord blinked seeing everyone surprise the chaotic spirit with a group hug. He cried tears of joy and hugged them all in return. They were more than just his friends…

They were his family. And they knew it. Even if he didn't always say it out loud.

"Okay, okay, that's enough of the sappy stuff. Now who's ready for some celebratory tea and Pema's steambuns at Air Temple Island?!"

Pema looked around the crowd, "Oh! Uh, everybody?"

"Actually, now that you can snap your claws and send us absolutely anywhere again, I think I have a better option." Starlight said with a wink.

(~)