• Published 31st Jan 2013
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Of Princesses and Changelings - Vigilance


Princess Celestia and Queen Chrysalis have become a couple. Cadence is more than determined to make sure it doesn't stay that way.

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Lick Your Wounds
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Carapace cringed and bit her lower lip, quietly snarling bitterly as the pain flowed through her body. The Changeling Queen cursed under her breath, annoyed at her treatment and of the situation she was currently in. Regardless she was powering through it, like any proud Queen of the Collective would do in this case…

“AHH! Watch it equine!” The mare yelped as a particularly painful jolt shot through her body.

“I apologize Lady Carapace,” The purple unicorn stallion replied with chipper empathy. “Your injuries are extensive and I’m trying my best. Healing magic isn’t painless.” The unicorn returned to his craft.

The Changeling Queen sat on a large chunk of crystal rubble while the unicorn stallion pulsed healing magic through her body. The two were seated on the main street of the Crystal Capital, only a meter or two away from the Palace’s covered courtyard that held the Crystal Heart.

The Changeling stomped her hoof on the ground and forced herself not to yell out in pain. “Ah! I’ve had newborn larva heal better than you! To think you call yourself a doctor!”

The pony cocked his eyebrow at the Changeling. “Well actually I’m a combat medic. We don’t really heal ponies, we just make them feel better as they die.” The stallion didn’t lose his gleeful tone as he spoke.

Carapace eyed him with a disturbed look of shock, but turned away and towards the ground and began to glower again. “Wonderful.”

“You’re lucky we have allowed you to live at all.”

The Queen black ears perked at the voice and she eyes shot up to locate the source. Much to her dismay, it was Princess Luna, the royal pain of the pair. Despite her contempt for the younger Alicorn, the Changeling smiled for the sake of decency. “Hello Princess Luna, you’re looking particularly menacing today.”

“Silence insect.” Luna shot back. “If you believe us on the grounds of pleasantries you are quite wrong. I don’t like you at all.”

Carapace snorted. “How blunt. Is there any noteworthy reason for this dislike?”

Luna was now in front of the Changeling, and disapproval flowed off her like a waterfall. “You think I can forgive you for your actions here? You have attacked the lands of my species, had the ponies of this land held hostage, and Maker knows what else! You and your Hive should be reprimanded severely for such actions! They would have been in my time.”

The Changeling Queen threw her head up and laughed, even if it hurt a bit. Bringing her eyes down to stare at Luna’s, the Queen smirked. “Yes, but things have changed. It is now the age of appeasement, where everyone is scared of attacking each other due to the fear of loss of varying levels. How painful it must be Princess, having such outdated ideals of how the world should work.”

Luna’s horn flared black and dark blue magic as she rushed up close to the Changeling; eyes alight with hated of the being in front of her. “Say that again bug, I dare thee!”

Carapace inched back and lifted her hooves up in a surrendering manner, smirking confidently. “Whoa now Princess, don’t go Nightmare Moon on me.”

A pang hit in Luna’s heart and her expression faded into chagrin. The Alicorn back away in shame, her greatest folly spoken before her. The topic was still, even now, a fresh burn in the Princess’s mind. Chances were that it would always haunt her. The nighttime Alicorn shifted back, ashamed that anger (no matter how justly felt) had taken her.

The Changeling Queen gave a snorting laugh, her eyes shifting beyond the fool in front of her. “Ah, here’s the more agreeable of the two.” Carapace bowed slightly, albeit mockingly, to Princess Celestia. “Good day Princess, how fare you?”

“Rather well considering.” Celestia returned, ever the calm and collected. “Other than my niece going insane and trying to kill an entire race it’s been a normal day.”

“Glad to hear,” Carapace smiled. “I’d hate for you to have any more stress on your shoulders.”

“Your concern is much appreciated Carapace, as is your cooperation in releasing the Crystal Empire and stopping Cadence.”

“Think nothing of it dear Celestia, always happy to help out.”

Luna looked back and forth between the two leaders. Their conversation was civil, courteous and befitting of those with high respect for each other. The younger Alicorn saw through it as clearly as a newly washed window. This interaction could be summed very basically: Celestia telling Carapace that if she ever tries anything like this attack again she’ll break the Changeling into a million pieces. Carapace on the other hand was retorting with her own threats, what specifically Luna could not tell. The nighttime Princess groaned under her breath, she hated cross-species politics.

“Alright Lady Carapace, you’re all healed.” The unicorn doctor stepped away from the Changeling as she got up and stretched. “Just don’t do any strenuous activity and you should make a full recovery.”

“Thank you doctor.” Carapace riposted with uncharacteristic sincerity. “I’ll try not to fight to the death with any insane Princesses for a few days.” The unicorn nodded at the joke and left to tend to any others that were wounded.

“Now that you are healed, what is our next course of action?” Celestia inquired to the Changeling. “We must stop Cadence before she does something extremely irrational.”

“Straight to business then?” Carapace asked. “I’m surprised.”

“The situation is over, nopony was hurt to the point of death, and the Empire is once again in Equestrian hooves.” Celestia stated. “It is done, why dwell upon it?”

The Changeling smiled darkly. “Good to know I get off Scot-free, mostly.” The Changeling looked away from the Princesses, contemplating. She turned back to them. “Our deal still stands, and I will fulfill it faithfully… even if it is at a great cost to my Hive.”

“It could have been much more.” Luna noted.

“True.” Carapace remarked. “Now then, what’s next?”

Celestia turned away from her sister and Carapace and gazed out into the open sky. “We find Cadence and stop her. I want her unharmed, we can still save her from herself.”

“She looked full on Nightmare Moon to me.” Carapace added in. “Mane and everything, albeit shorter and a different color scheme.”

“But her minds not completely corrupted yet.” Luna interjected. “I can change my appearance to Nightmare Moon any time I desire. It’s the negative feeling taking over one’s mind that makes the transformation truly happen. Right now Cadence believes her actions are for the greater good and that she’s fighting for others. As long as she believes that she won’t fall into evil beyond saving.”

Celestia nodded at this. “Yes, precisely.” The Solar Alicorn spun her head to the two mares. “That is Cadence’s one saving grace. That is the only thing that keeps her bound to salvation. We must reach her before it gives out.”

Luna and Carapace nodded. The three leaders now knew what they had to do: stop Cadence before she fell to her hatred. If they could do that, redemption was still possible. All around them Changeling, Crystal pony, and Alliance soldier alike was skittering about trying to help with repairs and first aid, unawares of the leader’s plans.

Celestia exhaled deeply. “Grizzled’s returned to the Alliance Parliament at Jesaben Fortress to give his superiors a debrief.” The Alicorn walked up to the others. “We must secure Cadence before they decide she is a threat and want immediate, and probably dire, action taken.”

“Shining can oversee repairs here at the Empire.” Luna remarked.

“My Changelings are yours to use to bring down that crazy bitch.” Carapace added.

Celestia smiled slightly, confident at this tale’s outcome. “Excellent. Then let us begin.”

~~~~

Somewhere far from the Crystal Empire

Cadence gasped heavily as she popped back into the material plane, falling to her knees and heaving tiresomely. Despite her best efforts, her body couldn’t take it and she released the few contents of her stomach onto the hard rock she resided on.

The Alicorn had been madly teleporting all around Equestria at a rapid pace, throwing off any attempt at magical detection. So much random magic use had, however, exhausted her beyond measure and she could no longer take it. The Alicorn heaved one more time before collapsing, only being conscious enough to avoid landing in her own sick spew. Cadence cursed slightly as her world darkened and went black.

~~~~

????

Voices? Yes, definitely voices.

Cadence’s eyes fluttered open and she brought her head up slightly. She was in a bed, a really soft one actually. Taking in more surroundings, Cadence deduced she was in a small room, seemingly Spartan in nature and with no windows to speak of. A dresser adorned one side and a work desk with a closet next to it occupied the other.

Finding the strength to get up, Cadence roused herself. Splitting pain shot up the mare’s body, but she ignored it mostly. She had to discover where she was. Fate decided it was ok for her to do so, as the door to her room opened and in stepped two ponies.

“Look who’s finally awake.” Lightning Dust commented. “I sorta thought you’d be out for good but I guess not.”

“Miraculous.” Remarked the other pony, a yellow coated unicorn mare, in awe. “Such healing power! Maker I wish we all had such abilities.”

“Keep dreaming doc.” Lightning replied.

“Lightning Dust?” Cadence asked, her voice found. “What? What happened?”

The ex-Wonderbolt came to the side of the Princess’s bed and sat down on it. “You were passed out apparently. Your little Changeling buddy found you somehow, brought you to us. We nursed you back to health, though I don’t think you needed the help. You’ve been here for what, twenty-four hours?”

Cadence took in the information and processed it quickly. “So… Shape Shift brought me in huh?” The Alicorn was surprised the Changeling had found her; she had sent him off on some reconnaissance before she and Chrysalis had made it back to Canterlot after the raid on the Merc’s hideout.

“Yeah, resourceful little bug, if nothing else.” Lightning cracked her neck. “He’s gone and left again though, for whatever reason befits him I guess.”

“Where are we?” Cadence asked, wondering just where she had been taken.

“Another one of my group’s hideouts.” Lightning Dust responded. “This one is near impossible to find, considering how remote it is.” The pegasus suddenly became angrily distraught. “I don’t know how that little pal of yours knew where to find us, this place is a well kept secret.”

“He’s doing his job.” Cadence told the merc. “Very well considering. But that doesn’t matter right now, I know our next target.”

“More kidnapping?” Lightning questioned.

“No protection.” Cadence replied. “From what I know Chrysalis has some plan for Twilight Sparkle, probably revenge for helping to defeat her.” Cadence looked at Lightning, a determined glare in her eye. “We have to go to Ponyville and secure her and all the other Elements so Chrysalis can’t get them.”

“And where did you hear this, pray tell?” Lightning asked, curious.

“While I was fighting back at the Crystal Empire.” Cadence explained. “One of Carapace’s thralls said so.” This claim was clearly false, but Cadence had long since decided on making her own reality to justify herself.

“Alright.” Lightning responded. “We’ll get the soldiers ready to take Ponyville and get the Elements.” The pegasus suddenly smirked darkly, satisfaction entering her amber-y eyes. “That’s where Rainbow Dash lives as well, so I can finally get my boon too.”

You’ll get a deserved knife in the back you cretin… Cadence told herself. The Alicorn smiled however. “Yeah, exactly Lightning Dust. You’ll get everything you deserve.”

The pegasus did not catch the tone of her employer’s words, only thinking about revenge. “Alright. I’ll get the ponies ready. You rest up and recover, doc thinks it may be a day or two before you’re all good again.”

Cadence nodded. “Very well. I’ll relax and take it easy until the time comes to move out.” She motioned to look out a window, but stopped herself when the realization that there were none to speak of. “Keep me posted. I want full status reports on all of our forces.”

Lightning Dust snorted. Forces? They were a mercenary band of about five-dozen, not exactly a size number that warranted the use of the word (which Lightning had always associated with groups with numbers in the three digits at least).

Regardless, the mare nodded. “Of course Cadence.”

“And if Shape Shift returns, send him to me immediately.” Cadence added. “I want to see him as soon as possible.”

Lightning Dust nodded at her employer’s request. Motioning to the unicorn doctor, the two left the room, shutting the door behind them. Cadence looked down to her hooves, one of the only things to look at in the room. She was still a little taken aback by the change in her coat color, but she believed it was a temporary mistake.

Yawning, Cadence felt as her eyes drooped. “Ugh, I just realized how tired I really am.” The mare yawned again and decided to lay back down in her soft bed, ideas and plans shifting through her mind as each second past.

All the plans focused on the same thing, saving her sister-in-law Twilight from whatever malice Chrysalis planned for her. Cadence would save her beloved friend, no matter the cost.

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