A changling still in canterlot! how will he survive?
After the love wave wiped the changlings from Canterlot all has pretty much returned to normal. or so they think. One changeling wakes up in a forest outside Ponyville and decides to conquer the town in the name of his queen. Will he succeed? Will he fail? And what kind of hilarity and action can come from it?!
My first fic so criticism is welcome. My Little Pony is a product of Hasbro. Unfortunately I do not own any of this, save for my characters.
"It's all over!" Queen Chrysalis cried. She had won, Canterlot was hers and even the mighty Princess Celestia and her Elements of Harmony were unable to stop her.
"Your spell!" Twilight Sparkle yelled to her brother, having realized he was the only one who could stop them now, "perform your spell!"
The Changeling Queen cackled evilly, "What good would that do? My changelings already roam free!" By the screams and explosions that could be heard from outside that was no lie,
"No..." Shining Armor stained trying to draw up the magic neccesary to perform the shield spell but it was no use. "My spell is useless; I don't have the strength to repel them."
"My love will give you strength." Princess Cadence said, moving forward to help him. Queen Chrysalis just chuckled again; she couldn't believe her ears "What a lovely but absolutely ridiculous sentiment."
Not paying her any mind, Cadence touched her horn to Shining Armor's, emiting a small current of energy. Soon magic was flowing all around the Alicorn and her fiancé, her love for him powering his spell. Eventually all the built up energy was released in a wall of magic that flew out in all directions. Chrysalis barely had time to cry out as the wave crashed into her, pushing out of the castle. All around Canterlot, Changelings were being pushed out of the city by Shining Armor's supercharged shield spell and soon, the threat of invasion had been completely eliminated.
Or so they thought.
*** Sunlight streamed through the canopy of the forest, dancing on the dew of the leaves. It slowly spread across the forest floor and onto a unmoving object.
Onto a Changeling.
The changeling was unconcious, lying in the center of his personal crater. He had been thrown halfway across Equestria and even though he did not know it yet he was lucky to survive.
The sunlight slowly blanketed the Changelings body and shone on his face, eliciting a sleepy groan from the insect-pony.
The sunlight began to affect the sleeping Changeling and finally he opened his pure blue eyes.
The first thing he saw was the intense pain that the sun had on his compound eyes.
"AAAAHH!" He screamed, coming fully to his senses and turning away from the harsh light. He rubbed his sore eyes and after his sight returned looked around, trying to figure out why he was in a forest. He lied on his back and racked his addled brain as to why he was here.
It all came back in a rush.
The wall of magic energy.
He winced at the last thought, still feeling the pain of getting punched by a wall and sent flying out of a city.
To his surprise he realized that there were no other Changelings around him. He could not sense them either as his hive link seemed to be disconnected.
He was alone, alone with his thoughts.
And his thoughts were telling him to find his comrades.
Struggling to his hole-filled hooves, his stiff exoskeleton straining from the effort, he set out on the search.
Three wasp nest, two bears and one very grumpy manticore later, the lone Changeling finally reached the edge of the forest. Unfortunately to his disappointment he had not found any others of his kind.
"They must have been sent farther away or to other parts of Equestria." the solider muttered as he walked along a dirt path out of the forest. He had hoped that at least one other soldier landed near him but he had been wrong. With his hive link severed he couldn't even feel any of the swarm, not even his Queen.
And to make matters worse; he was completely lost. He could be in an entirely different part of Equestria, far away from anyone else.
The sound of a head slamming into wood filled the air. The soldier had, while deep in thought, walked into something. Shaking his head to clear his mind, he looked up at what he had run into. It was a sign, neat and plain, standing on two pegs and in big red letters spelled out:
WELCOME TO PONYVILLE
Looking to the side of the sign the changeling could see a small town filled with ponies not to far away all of them with content smiles on their faces. He hated them.
Look at them, he thought' rage building. Not a care in the world, but what about US huh? They get all the food and the comforting life and we're banished to the Badlands and left to starve! Why if I were in charge...
At that precise moment the Changeling had an idea, an idea so amazing that it would turn him into a hero, grant food for his race, and give them a starting point from which they could attack Canterlot all over again!
He would conquer Ponyville all by himself!
"How hard can it be?"
Sneaking into town was easy, he could already taste the emotions of the ponies. Hate was extremely bitter and love was like nectar to a changling and so on. And this town had a lot of love.
But this mission before him would require stealth and cunning, which a Changeling has in large supply. Focusing his energy he started to construct a pony form for himself. Looking into a nearby puddle he admired his work.
He was a normal earth pony, not that it mattered what he was. His fur was a lightish grey and his mane was a scarlet red. On his flank was his cutie mark: a mirror.
This was his favorite form truth be told. It had belonged to a simple glass blower in Appleloosa. He especially liked the cutie mark. No Changelings have a cutie mark but if he did, this would probably be what it looked like. Admiring his disguise he decided that he was all set to conquer this town. He brought his gaze up from the puddle.
And into the face of something pink.
He screamed. And to his even greater surprise the pink thing spoke.
He screamed even louder. This didn't even seem to phase the pink creature as it continued to talk.
"I'm Pinkie Pie the party pony of Ponyville! I've never seen you here before and I know every pony in Ponyville and I've never seen you! And since you're here I'll throw you a welcome to Ponyville party! Do you like parties? I like parties! I'm the party pony of Ponyville wait, did I say that already? Why are you screaming? Or is that singing? I like singing!"
First he was screaming out of surprise but now he was screaming out of fear. This pony was one of the Elements of Harmony! One wrong move and he could have Celestia and her army staring him down. One moment free, the next locked in a canterlot dungeon, or worse!
Alright, alright just play it cool, he steeled his nerves and looked the pony in the eye.
"Soooooooooooo, what's your name?" She said jumping in his face causing him to jump back in shock.
"Please don't hurt me!"
This caused the pink earth pony to stop in her tracks; her entire body seemed to darken a bit.
"Hurt you?" She asked as if it was the craziest thing she had ever heard. "W-why would I hurt you?"
He quickly straightened up and cleared his throat. He could make this work.
"Uh, sorry I just uh, moved here from Appleloosa," He quickly started his back story. "I wasn't treated the best there and I decided to move here to get away from it all." the changling gave his best sad and broken look, which wasn't hard since he was pretty down and out. Instantly the pony's confused look turned to a look of concern.
"Are you okay? I'm soooooo sorry for acting like that." She said very rapidly and before he could respond had wrapped him in a bear hug.
The one good thing about this was the compassion she was creating, it was almost as delicious as love and the Changling could feel himself getting stronger and his earlier pains healing. She finally pulled away, her body regaining its original color.
"So, you're moving to Ponyville?"
He couldn't help but smirk.
"Oh, I think I'm going to be here for a long time."
"Well, what you need is a party!" the happiness in her voice returning "Where is your house?"
"Oh, uh I don't have one." he tried to sound pitiful.
"Oh! Well when are you going to buy one?"
"I, uh, don't have any money but-"
Before he could finish his sentence this mare, Pinkie Pie right? Had grabbed his tail in her mouth and was dragging him away.
"We can't have that! You can stay with me at Sugercube Corner until you get the money!"
"Yeah! And I can throw the welcome party there!" She chirped.
"YEAH! I can't wait to introduce you to my friends!"
"You sure like saying 'what?' a lot." She giggled, somehow hopping up and down while dragging him.
"By the way, I didn't get your name?"
Oh yeah He thought, Changelings didn't usually have names, but some do. What was the name I always use?
I can't believe it, I just arrived here and I now have a place to stay and an alibi!
"Mirror Edge?" A voice rang out but he ignored it.
Tricking these Ponies is going to be easier than I thought. Soon they will all feel the blunt of our revenge! Soon they will tremble under the iron hole-filled hoof of our people!
"Mirror Edge? Helooooooo?" The voice called out again.
All hail Queen Chrysalis! ALL HAIL THE CHANGELIN-
Mirror Edge yelled out in surprise; a loud clang had shaken the Changeling out of his deep thoughts and now everypony was staring at him.
"Sorry about that." He chuckled sheepishly. "I was just uh, deep in thought."
Nopony paid him much mind and went back to what they were doing. This "Sugercube corner" certainly could hold a lot of ponies. He turned towards the pony that had so rudely shaken him from his delusions of grandeur. Pinkie Pie. Of course. Since he had introduced himself to her she had given him a complex tour of Ponyville (all while dragging him by her teeth) and had insisted that he stay in the guest room at Sugercube corner until he earned enough bits to buy his dream house and to top it all of she held a giant welcome party at Sugercube Corner to introduce him to everypony.
It was all too perfect.
He had the perfect story, his disguise was flawless and he had one of the elements of harmony completely fooled. Soon all of Ponyville will follow suit, then he will strike. Everypony in Ponyville must be in here and to his eternal joy Pinkie Pie had introduced him to most of them. The mayor was one of the first; she had beige fur with a graying mane and horn rimmed glasses. It would be a dash to impersonate her, maybe cause a scandal and have her impeached, then over time he could gain the towns trust and run for office. Then he could welcome his people into town without anyone stopping him; it would be perfect, it would be-
His thoughts were once again stopped as something very sweet was lodged into his mouth. Standing beside him was Pinkie Pie, babbling non-stop about something that she probably thought he was following.
"-So Twilight was all 'Quiet!' And I was all 'And I said oatmeal? Are you crazy?' And everyone was all-"
"Yes Mirror?" She asked, her previous tangent forgotten.
"You've introduced me to nearly everypony in this town but you haven't shown me your best friends."
"Of course I have silly! Everypony here is my best friend!"
"No I, guh," This was getting irritating; she was as sickeningly sweet as the cotton candy that matched her hair color. "no I mean your friends, the Elements of Harmony?"
If it was even possible her smile got even larger.
"Oh! You mean my PBFF?"
"Pony Best Friend Forever?"
"Yeah, there here somewhere. I'll go find them!"
With that she bounced off into the crowd. Mirror chuckled softly. She was going to hand him Ponyville on a silver platter with a side of hay-fries if she kept this up. Walking over to the snack table he picked up a cupcake and eyed it. Changelings don't need food to survive; they get all their nutrients from the emotions they eat but that doesn't mean that they can't eat. He popped it into his mouth besides, there so darn delicious.
When I take over this town I really must ask her for the recipe he thought to himself. Take over the town. He could see them congratulating him now.
"My solider you have done our race proud." Queen Chrysalis would say.
"Thank you my Queen." He would say. "With this town taken we will begin capturing the surrounding ones and then..."
"Canterlot!" The Queen chuckled. Finally they would all get what they wanted and it was all because of me.
Mirror Edge turned away from the cupcakes he was making talk to face a unicorn mare. She had purple fur and her mane was both dark blue and pink. Her cutie mark was a star surrounded by smaller stars.
She was another Element of Harmony.
"Hi, I'm Twilight Sparkle. I run the library."
The Changeling stared at her, back to the cupcakes and back again.
"Uh, hello." He was far more nervous than he showed. This unicorn was the one they had been told the most about; she was the student of the ponies Princess, Celestia and had been able to figure out the Queens hoax. She was responsible for the invasion failing.
"I'm Mirror Edge; Pinkie has probably told you everything already."
"Yeah, I'm sorry but I have to ask; when you were traveling here did you see anything?"
"I don't understand."
"You know; monsters? Creatures of evilness?"
He shook his head. "Doesn't ring a bell."
She groaned. "Like any Changelings?"
The disguised Changeling nearly choked on his cupcake.
"Excuse me?" He asked, trying to sound nonchalant.
"Did you hear about the royal wedding in Canterlot? I was the maid of honor." Twlight said with a hint of pride.
"Oh really? Well I was a there too." Mirror Edge allowed himself a smug smile. He was practically telling her that he was a Changling and she was none the wiser.
"Really? Were you a guest?"
"...Yes, yes I was."
"So you know about the invasion? And how we stopped them?"
"How could I forget?" He could still feel the bruises.
"Well there have been reports of Changelings appearing all over Equestria, so Celestia is having everypony on high alert in case one pops up here."
Mirror could feel his nerves at their ends. If they discovered him...No...No they won't find him. He'll make sure of that. Just then a white unicorn ran up to Twilight.
"Twilight! You simply must help me!" She said in a very proper voice, nothing like the other Ponies around here. "Big Macintosh refused and there are no stallions left in Poni-" It was at this moment that she noticed Mirror Edge. "YOU." She said in an almost monstrous voice.
Mirror felt more scared then Pinkie Pie and Twilight combined.
Before he could say anything, the white unicorn had tackled him to the ground and was staring him in the eyes.
Oh my Queen. She figured me out!
"Please don't hurt me." He whimpered.
"You." She began.
"Are." Mirror prepared to face the end.
"Perfect!" With the last word her attitude went from seemingly murderous to overjoyed.
"It's not true! I'm not a-wait what?" Mirror said. Twilight Sparkle stepped forward.
"Rarity, I think you're scaring him." She said, looking at the terrified earth pony on the ground.
"Oh! Excuse me! I am so sorry!" The very embarrassed unicorn called Rarity quickly got off Mirror and this allowed him a moment to look at her; she was a unicorn, like Twilight but had white fur with a curly purple mane. Her cutie mark was three diamonds. All in all she looked very pristine. He remembered her from the Canterlot invasion; she broke three of his ribs.
"You see, many of the fashion stores in Canterlot were damaged or destroyed in the invasion, and now orders are flying in to restock them! I've never been busier!"
She seemed happy but overall she looked exhausted.
"And now there are all of these male orders I have to fill and nopony will model for me!" She despaired over dramatically.
"But you!" She said looking him over. "If you don't mind me saying but you have just the perfect figure for my orders! Oh you simply must help me!"
This gets better and better. Mirror thought. They still don't know what I am and now I have found the perfect opportunity to get rid of one of them!
"Hmmmm, I don't know." He mock-considered. Rarity grabbed him and started shaking him.
"You'll do this and I won't rip you to pieces!" She threatened, looking him in the eye.
"Okay! Okay! I'll do it!" Mirror cried, he was tired of all this shaking and the loud noises. When he took over he'd never have to deal with this ever again.
"Excellent!" Rarity stood up feeling reenergized by her victory. "I'll see you tomorrow at Carousel Boutique first thing in the morning." She got up close to him again. "And you'd better be there!"
With that she turned on her hooves and walked away.
Both Mirror and Twilight stayed silent, exchanging a few looks as they watch the unicorn leave.
"Sorry about her." Twilight tried to apologize. "She was endorsed by one stallion and now she's swimming in orders. You know how it is, to have a huge honor laid upon you."
"Yeah," He said. "Yeah I do."
After the party had ended, Pinkie Pie and a not-to-happy Mirror Edge were left to clean up the mess.
"That was one of my bestest parties ever!" Pinkie was almost jumping off the walls, which she did back in the party. "Somepony else needs to come here so I can throw another party!"
"Yeah, sure, whatever." Mirror wasn't even listening to her anymore he just went around cleaning things.
"Did you have fun today? Did ya? Did ya? Did ya?" Pinkie asked, jumping up and down excitedly like a puppy.
He smiled, "You know what Pinkie? I did have fun and I even met some of your friends."
"Oh yeah! You met Twilight and Rarity."
"How did you know?"
"I was watching you guys from under the table." She smiled.
"...How did you...I saw you... you were... Fine! Fine. Whatever." He would never understand this mare. "That unicorn, Rarity offered me a job, well forced me to help her model clothes or something like that." He was already thinking of places to hide the body.
Pinkie looked intrigued at this. "A modeling job? I think you'll do well!"
"Yeah, think of everything a Changling could do in the modeling industry!"
Everything in the room seemed to freeze up, as if the whole world had stopped in its tracks and was trying to remember how it got there. He sat across the room from the pink mare, Mirror Edge couldn't believe his ears.
She knew?! All along?!
Is my ruse really that bad?
The name, It was probably the name.
Wait, maybe it's a trick! Maybe I can still talk my way out of this.
Mirror Edge pulled on the biggest, goofiest, most out of character grin he could muster.
"HAHAHAHA! That's hilarious Pinkie. Good one!"
Sweet merciful Chrysalis this hurts. How does she do this all day?
"No really; think of all the things a Changeling could do in modeling! You could be a size small one moment and then whoosh!" She made a whooshing noise complete with frantic waving of arms. "You're a size large! Or you could fashion for stallion clothing AND mare clothing! Wait, can you do that?"
Mirrors big smile was drooping on his face, his mind was freaking out.
"Wh-why would you say that Pinkie?" He asked, feigning hurt feelings. "I'm not a Changeling."
"Well duh, of course you are. I mean it's sooooooo obvious, well at least to me."
Mirror edge was freaking out; his entire plan could be brought down in flames by this one pony. Pinkie Pie bounced up to him and begun circling him.
"I thought that you were pretty strange for an earth pony, and that's coming from me!" She giggled, making a few snorts. "Your name doesn't sound like any pony I've ever heard of, I mean; Mirror Edge? That's just silly." She turned to face Mirror, somehow sporting a detective hat and a bubble pipe. "And while I was hiding under the table I heard you talking to my cupcakes about your invasion." She went up and booped him on the nose. "You're really silly."
The Changeling was near hyperventilation at this point. This crazy pony had somehow figured out his entire plan and any moment now he could have Celestia breathing down his neck.
Change of plans; he would get rid of her now.
He dropped his form and glared at Pinkie.
"You don't know what you're dealing with here mare!" He said, trying to sound more intimidating then he was. Pinkie simply went to the other side of the room and struck an absurd kung-hoof pose. He hated her.
I hate her. He thought. Okay; I have to defeat one of the Elements of Harmony in full on combat, no pressure.
Okay, so what if she's an Element of Harmony, I have all the power that the ponies emotions gave me, I can beat her!
Both of them reared up on their back hooves and charged...
"...And that's why you should always keep duck tape handy. Your faithful student, Twilight Sparkle." Twilight, in her library had just finished her newest friendship letter. Though she didn't really know what it had to do with friendship. It was just a slow day.
"Alright Spike, send it to the Princess."
Her dragon assistant took the scroll and was just about to send it when a explosion racked the library. Twilight and Spike quickly ran to the window to see what had happened. Smoke and confetti was pouring out of the upper windows of Sugercube corner and fighting noises could be heard from the inside.
"Huh, Pinkie must have seen a cockroach again."
The room was somehow an even bigger mess than it had started as. Mirror had suffered the most damage but Pinkie still got hurt to. Her damage was simpler; her fur was scorched in places by Mirrors magic bolts and there were a few bruises all over her. Mirror was worse; somehow in the span of a few minutes the pink mare had pulled out an anvil, a comically oversized mallet, and three dozen pies, all from seemingly nowhere. Neither of them was seriously hurt of course, Pinkie was able to stave off most of his attacks and Mirrors exoskeleton had protected him from the blunt of her blows. Didn't mean they hurt any less though.
"Prepare...to meet...your..doom." He wheezed out. He was exhausted from fighting. Not all of his energy had returned.
"Oh...yeah?" Pinkie panted. She was just as tired as he was. "Prepare to meet him first."
"That doesn't make any sense." He retorted.
"You don't make any sense." She retorted back.
"No Pinkie, You specifically don't make any sense."
This fighting would get him nowhere; Changelings fought by utilizing surprise attacks or ambushes in large numbers not on-on-one battles to the death. And sooner or later she was going to call for help and then everything he had planned would come crashing down around him. This was it. He had one last ace in the hole. He really didn't want to do this but she had left him no alternative.
He steeled his courage.
Walked right up to her.
Looked her straight in the eye.
And got down on his knees and begged.
"Please! Please don't report me to the Princess! I don't want to go back to the Badlands! I'll do anything! I'm just hungry! Please!" He had swallowed his pride by this point but it didn't matter, she would call the Princess or the royal guard and they would throw him back into that horrible land where he'd probably starve to death, or get eaten, or both.
Pinkie Pie just stared at him, at the Changeling groveling at her hooves.
Mirror just closed his eyes and waited for the decision. Neither of them moved or did anything. But then Mirror felt something; an emotion.
Opening his eyes he looked at Pinkie whom had gotten on her knees like him. She had a small smile on her face, not goofy or over the top, but warm.
"You really don't want to go home do you?" She asked. The hint of disbelief in her voice. He shook his head wildly. "It's like Tautorus out there."
That wasn't too far from the truth. The main reason why Changelings invaded other areas, other than to find food was to get away from the Badlands; a large area to the west of Equestria, filled with monsters and danger abound. It was a fate worse than death to be banished there.
"I'm not gonna report you silly!"
"Really?" He asked, totally confused. "I mean thank you, but really?"
"Well yeah, I wouldn't want to hurt my new CBFF."
Pinkie sighed. "Changeling Best Friend Forever?"
"Ah. But wait, I'm a Changeling and you won't turn me in?"
"Yeah, you're just hungry after all right? And I can't just let you starve." Her expression turned to a pained one. "I know how that feels."
Mirror stared incredulously at the pastry chef. "How could you possibly know how that feels?"
"I grew up on a rock farm."
They both sat there in silence, staring into each others eyes, trying to see what was really going on in the others head. The trance was broken however by a knocking on the door.
Oh no, The room is a complete mess from the fight!
Panicking Mirror had barely enough time to raise his disguise before Mrs. Cake walked in. Mrs. Cake was one of the owners of Sugercube corner along with her husband; Mr. Cake. He wasn't sure how but Pinkie had managed to talk them into letting him stay at least for a while.
Mirror found it hilarious for some reason.
"Pinkie, It's-Oh! I'm sorry, am I interrupting?"
"No, no you were not Mrs Cake." Mirror smiled. He swore that every time he talked to the Cakes that he could see fear in their eyes. He'd have to work on his smile; not show as much teeth.
"I just came up to say that it's close to midnight and I hope that the cleanings done okay?"
"Oki doki loki Mrs. Cake! Cleanings all done!"
"Alright Pinkie, I need you up for tomorrow and Mirror, I hear that you have a job to do for miss Rarity."
Oh yeah. He had almost forgotten about it in all of the commotion.
"All right, goodnight both of you."
They both said goodnight and Mrs. Cake left. Mirror suddenly noticed that the room was literally sparkling clean. Turning around to tell Pinkie he found the pink mare holding a mop and a bucket.
"Sorry, that took longer than I thought." She apologized.
Mirror Edge stood and took in his surroundings. He was in Canterlot; great city of the Ponies and the site of the failed invasion.
Now it lies in ruins.
The once great walls and castles little more than rubble now. The swarm had surprise attacked on mass from all sides and had overpowered the royal army. Lead by their Queen, the mighty Chrysalis they had stormed the castle of the Royal Sisters and after an intense battle had defeated them once and for all. Chrysalis stood in front of her swarm, the bodies of Celestia the sun alicorn and Luna the moon alicorn at her hole-filled hooves.
"My people," She adressed, speaking out to all the Changelings. "We may have been beaten once before but now we have risen up once again to crush all in our way!"
The crowd and Mirror cheered. This was what they had been waiting centuries for.
"And we have our hero to thank for restarting our conquest!" She motioned for Mirror Edge and he quickly stood up and moved to her side. The crowd started to chant his name.
"MIRROR EDGE! MIRROR EDGE! MIRROR EDGE!"
This was his moment. Everything they had sacrificed, everything they had worked for has finally paid off.
"My Queen, my people," He addressed the Changelings with the same voice his Queen used. "I'm honored to have lead my race to glory and finally crush those who banished us! And now, Equestia is finally-"
The air froze, a voice had screamed out behind Mirror. Everypony turned around to see six exhausted Ponies.
It was the Elements of Harmony.
They looked exhausted; they must have fought all the way here.
"CELESTIA! LUNA!" Twilight Sparkle screamed, tears streaming from her eyes. She tried to run forward but was stopped by the wall of furious Changelings, they must remember what she did to them last time. Chrysalis giggled maliciously. "Ah, the Elements. It's too bad you weren't here earlier," She motioned to the two bodies. "As you can see you're a little late to the party." Chrysalis chuckled darkly.
The Ponies shared a collective gasp, Twilight taking a few steps back not taking her eyes off the body of her beloved teacher. "No...no..no...no.." She muttered.
But Mirror wasn't looking at Twilight. He was looking at Pinkie; her body had completely lost its energy, her colors were dulled and her hair looked like a deflated balloon.
She sniffled. "Why Mirror?...Why?"
For the first time in his life, Mirror couldn't find the words to say. His voice had died in his mouth. Chrysalis suddenly took the offensive. "Now my army! Attack! Wipe them out!"
"No." Mirror finally found his voice but it was too late. The swarm charged from all sides.
"NO." He said again, in their state none of them would survive.
The last thing he saw was Pinkie looking tearfully at him.
"NO!" Mirror bolted up. His body was drenched in sweat. His heart was pounding in his ears. Quickly, he looked around finding himself in the guest room at Sugercube Corner.
"Huh," He muttered his breathing slowing. "It was all a dream. The invasion hasn't happened yet."
Calming himself down, he laid back on his bed and closed his eyes.
Pinkie had suddenly run into the room and had screamed at the top of her voice, unfortunately this caused Mirror to bolt straight up into the ceiling.
"Mirror! Mirror! I just got up and was remembering what I had to do and then I remembered what You had to do and then I was all *GASP*" She gasped loudly. "And then I ran in here to wake you up though I maybe shoulda been a little quieter."
"No, no Pinkie." His reply was muffled but she could still hear him. "It was my fault. I'll get ready as soon as possible."
"Oki doki loki!" She was about to leave but then she remembered something else.
"Wait, I almost forgot." She started jumping higher and higher until she could reach Mirror and pull him out. When he was on the ground again she started talking.
"You're not gonna do anything to Rarity are you?"
"What?" He scoffed. "Me? No!"
He was. Even though this pink mare had shown him kindness he was still going to take over this town. And the first thing to get rid of was the Elements of Harmony.
But not Pinkie though.
He'd make her his personal chef.
"Even still," She looked at him with a mistrusting gaze. "I'm going to need you to Pinkie promise."
"What? You want me to promise? Fine, I promise not to hurt your friends."
"No, no, no." She shook her head. "A Pinkie promise. Do as I do."
She started miming her actions.
"Cross my heart, hope to fly stick a cupcake in my eye."
She made a cross motion over her chest, then wave both her arms like she was flying, finally she stuck her hoof in her eye.
It took all of his will power to keep from laughing. "Alright Pinkie fine. Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my-AAAGH!"
Pinkie giggled. "Don't worry, Twilight did the same thing. Now remember." She looked Mirror right in the eyes.
"A Pinkie promise last forever."
"Pinkie, why are you always this close?" But she ignored him.
With that awkward moment over, Pinkie Pie backed out of the room, leaving a very confused Changling who simply sighed.
"She can't be real."
He wasn't going to keep his promise.
What could she do to him?
He walked through Ponyville, grabbing wayward emotions from the passing Ponies as he went, lost in thought.
That dream. Why did it have to happen like that?
And why do I care?
I mean that's how it's supposed to happen; the Ponies are crushed and we return to glory! So why does it feel wrong in some way?
No, no! It's all a trick! These Ponies and their Princesses need to feel our wrath and they shall!
Right. He would get rid of the Elements, seize control of this stinking town and pave the way fro the victory to end all victories!
Before he could follow up on that thought he crashed into something, the sound of splintering wood filling the air. Knocked out of his thoughts once again, Mirror got up and looked at what he had ran into. It was a produce cart of some sort, fruit was scattered everywhere. Suddenly ten loud ringing noises came from the bell tower.
"Ten o'clock....I'm late!"
Remembering what would happen if he didn't get there. Mirror jumped to his hooves and ran off in the direction of Carousel boutique.
"Mah food cart!" A voice ran out behind him but he didn't bother to look back.
Carousel Boutique looked exactly like its namesake; horse seats on pegs decorated the outside of the building. Not taking time to question the architecture, Mirror trotted up to the front door and knocked on it.
Okay, first phase of the plan; getting rid of the Elements of Harmony. This shouldn't be too hard.
The door burst open and Rarity grabbed Mirror.
"Now, I need you to stand here while I get the supplies."
After a few moments of explanation Rarity had calmed down and they had gotten started. The inside of the building was worse than it seemed; half-finished clothes and supplies of all types littered literally every surface.
This was going to be too simple.
"Alright, now I need you to stand on this stage and just let me work." She seemed even more stressed out then before, if that was even possible.
"Wait, you want me to stand still for probably hours while you use me like one of your mannequins?"
"Yes, you have a problem with that?" She threatened.
"No ma'am." He quickly stepped forward on to the platform.
Suddenly a hissing noise filled his ears. Looking around he found a cat lying on a mound of clothing, she was hissing viciously at him.
A cat, of course. He thought. Animals were able to see through a Changelings disguise. Some of the finest infiltration attempts were thwarted because someponies pet was agitated.
"Opal! Leave him alone." Rarity shooed the cat away. "I really should apologize for her."
"No, it's quite alright. Animals and I don't get along."
"Right, now I need needles, thread, some gems...." She had opened a chest and was looking through it. Completely turning her back on him. This was too perfect. Mirror started sneaking up on the preoccupied mare. All it would take is one sharp twist of the head and bam, one less Element of Harmony. He was right behind her, reaching up, just about to-
Pinkies head appeared from underneath a pile of clothes startling Mirror edge and sending him stumbling into a mountain of boxes.
"There, now I-Oh my goodness! Are you alright?"
"Yeah," Mirror climbed out of the mess. "Have you ever see Pinkie pop out of literally nowhere?"
She gave him a knowing look. "You Pinkie promised didn't you?"
Oh sweet Chrysalis she must have put some kind of curse on me! That tears it! Take her out! It's not like anypony will-
"Big sister? Are you alright?"
A unicorn filly had entered the room; she had white fur and a pink and purple mane.
"I'm fine Sweetie belle, but this friend of mine isn't." She helped Mirror out of the mess.
The filly named Sweetie belle giggled mischievously. "Is he your special somepony?"
"D-don't you have somewhere to be?" Rarity blushed and Mirror was shocked.
A Changeling and a Pony?! That's absurd! It would never work! It, it....
"Anyway I have to go, me and the Crusaders are goning to try getting our cutie marks again!" With that see ran out the door. Rarity turned to Mirror.
"I have to apologize for my sister and myself as well. I know I haven't been the most gracious."
Mirror was suddenly very contrived; he couldn't kill Rarity now, especially if she had family who relied on her.
He knew the feeling too well.
The skies above Stalliongrad were dank and muddy; black smoke belched from the cities many smokestacks and mixed into the clouds. To make matters worse it was snowing pretty hard with the temperatures below freezing.
Mirror shuddered in his hooves, his morphed fur offering little protection from the icy winds.
He hated this city. A cold place like this is no place for an insect.
But it was necessary; the Queen had chosen him to scout the city in case it was a good starting point to the invasion.
He shifted his hooves in the ankle-deep snow; they were numb from exposure.
To be honest he didn't think that this city was good for anything.
And it certainly wasn't good for moral.
Mirror turned towards the voice; it was one of the new soldiers, fresh out of the hive, 'larvae' the more experienced soldiers called them. His chosen form was a red Pegasus with ice blue hair. True to his form he had little icicles hanging from his hair tips.
"Yes Snowflame?" Mirror asked as if he didn't already know.
Snowflame's voice rattled like a cobra's tail. "M-m-me and the other b-b-boys were wondering when we were going to eat again."
Mirror looked over the Changelings shoulder at the three other Changelings under his command, all of them shaking nearly as bad as Snowflame.
They needed food.
They needed emotions.
Good emotions to be exact, a thing that the city did not have in abundance. Stalliongrad as a whole didn't have very happy citizens; most of the Ponies there were down on their luck trying to make some money and the dark aura around the city certainly didn't help.
Mirror didn't show it but he was scared. Not for himself but for his men. They were dying of starvation and they were expecting him to save them.
He gave the most optimistic smile he could.
"Don't worry Snowflame, I'll make sure that we all survive this.
He had saved them back in that cursed city, to this day he had no idea how.
He had requested that he'd work alone ever since.
He couldn't get rid of her now that he knew this. And to make matters worse he just couldn't do it anyways with Pinkie popping up out of Chrysalis knows where. He sighed, accepting his defeat.
"I accept your apology Rarity now can we please get to work?"
Rarity chuckled. "Yes of course."
Mirror was exhausted and angry. Five hours of standing in place while a unicorn jabbed him with pins and needles. And on top of everything his plan to off her had completely failed. He would have to find another way to stop them from stopping his plan without breaking his promise.
He really didn't want to know what would happen if he broke a Pinkie promise.
He walked into Sugercube corner, well stumbled in really. Pinkie was talking to somepony.
Outside of Ponivile there lay a small cottage. Its multiple birdhouses and assorted animal cages only added to its humble appearance. Strangely enough a Pegasus lived there instead of the cloud houses that were the norm. She was in the garden tending to her animal friends and one very stubborn animal in particular.
"Come on Angel, please eat the carrot." Fluttershy pleaded with her pet rabbit. Instead, the white rabbit simply threw the vegetable at the mares face and hopped away.
"Oh, Angel come back!" The pegasus was about to follow him when the bushes near her began to rustle.
"Eep!" The yellow Pegasus squeaked jumping back. The bush simply rustled a little longer and stopped.
"Oh! Oh my!" Fluttershy whimpered but regained her composure. It could be one of her animals and it hurt itself.
"Hello?" She peered into the bush looking for any creatures in need.
"It's alright, I won't hurt you little creature." She whispered to the bush
For her trouble she got two bright blue eyes glaring at her.
"This life of mine is just getting better and better."
"Quiet back their!"
"Don't be like that Applejack! You'll learn to like him you'll see!"
This was the ultimate humiliation; in a shorter time than Mirror could make out the orange pony with the nice hat had hogtied him and had shoved him in a cart. Pinkie hadn't even tried to stop her. And with Pinkies "promise" curse on him he couldn't even bring harm to them. When he took over he would have to remember to throw her into the dungeon for a week to let her think about what she had done.
"You know, you could have just told me what you wanted instead of doing all this." He yelled at the orange pony.
"Ah could 'ave but ah didn't." She calmly replied. He couldn't see it but he just knew that she was smiling.
"Were here!" Applejack finally stopped and with a single kick knocked Mirror Edge out of the cart. "Welcome to Sweet Apple Acres!"
From his vantage point on the ground, Mirror could see a few simple farm buildings, all of them looking well in need of a renovation and acres of apple trees as far as he could see.
He remembered this place.
"Amd hmm wm hamm Swmm Mpple Amrs!" Pinkie happily announced. She was giving her new friend Mirror edge the grand tour.
"Mmmh mmrm mnh mmle mn nmhmh."
"Pinkie. You still have my tail in your mouth. Pinkie?" But she had already set off again dragging Mirror behind her. He sighed.
"Oh well. It's not like I'll have to deal with her all the time."
"Watcha doing Mirror?" Pinkie asked. "Are you daydreaming again? I want to daydream too!"
Applejack walked up to Mirror edge.
"Now, ahm an understanding pony." She started.
Mirror gave her the most sarcastic look he could muster.
"This moment notwithstanding. And since you not only destroyed mah cart but the apples it was carrying," With one tug of the rope all of the knots became undone, sending Mirror spiraling on the ground. "And since Pinkie told me that ya'll didn't have any money..." She brought her head down level to Mirrors. "You're gonna pay your dues by picking the new crop." With that Applejack grabbed Mirror by his tail and started pulling him towards the fields.
"Guhh!" He groaned. First Rarity and now this?!
"Mirror!" Pinkie waved from behind them. "Don't forget your Pinkie promise!"
"Okay, here's what yah have to do." Applejack started to explain. The two were in the middle of one of the apple acres, massive apple trees surrounded the two in all directions. "It's simple; buck the trees..." She demonstrated by hitting the tree with her hind legs, causing the apples to fall into the buckets underneath. "And the tree will do the rest. Ah'll come back later to check up on yah." With that little bit of information she left, leaving Mirror to his (forced) work. He eyed the tree and scoffed.
"This is my punishment?" He chuckled. "This will be over in no time."
"Hey girls! What's going on?" Sweetie belle asked as she walked in to her friends treehouse, inside were two other fillies; a yellow earth pony with a bright red mane and matching bow named Applebloom and a orange pegasus with dark purple hair named Scootaloo and like Sweetie belle none of them had cutie marks
"What we do every day." Scootaloo groaned. "Try and fail to get our cutie marks!"
"Don't be like that," Applebloom retorted. "Twilight and Miss Cheerilee told us that we that we would get our cutie marks if we tried hard enough. And who knows! Today might be the day that we do!"
This didn't lift Scootaloo's hopes but she conceded defeat and looked at the other two crusaders. "Okay, what are we gonna try today?"
This stumped the group, they had tried so many things that they couldn't think of anything.
"Cutie mark Crusader chefs?" Applebloom asked.
"We did that last week and Pinkie's still cleaning up the batter." Sweetie belle replied embarrassedly.
"Cutie mark Crusader deep sea divers?" Scootaloo asked.
"No! Ah don't want to see those Seaponies again!" Applebloom denied. She had just gotten the song out of her head and wasn't going to risk it.
"Well, what's left?"
The three Crusaders stared at the floor, suddenly feeling very lost. Suddenly Sweetie belle perked up.
"Hey! There's a new pony in Poniville!"
Applebloom gave Sweetie belle a confused look. "So what?"
Sweetie belle was practically jumping up and down now, an idea forming in her head. "Well Rarity told me that he was from out of town so he must have new ideas for getting cutie marks we can try!"
"Yeah! We can ask him for help!" Scootaloo jumped to her hooves.
With their new plan in mind, the Crusaders ran off to prepare to find the mysterious pony.
Mirror had been bucking the same tree as hard as he could for almost an hour to no avail. He had tried everything; ramming into it as hard as he could, bucking it as hard as he could, he even morphed into Applejack to try and use her strength to know the fruit down but as a Changeling can only copy someponies apperance and not their attributes. Finally with all his energy spent he slumped over onto the ground and reverted to original form. He looked up at the sky, panting hard.
"Now what am I going to do?" He muttered.
As if on cue the tree he had previously been kicking began to shake, the apples falling off the branches and into the buckets under the tree.
Mirror was scared. Somepony or something was in the trees and he was unmorphed. Before he could say anything though a blur shot out of the tree and into another one. Shaking the apples loose like it had done before.
"Whose there?" He asked the shaking tree though it didn't give a reply.
"I said: "Whose there?"." He asked again, feeling angrier instead of distressed now. The blur simply shot out and into another tree to start the process over.
"That's it!" Mirror screamed and with a fierce cry rammed himself as hard as he could in to the tree with the blue in it. Surprisingly it worked and the blur came tumbling out into one of the buckets.
"Ha! Now reveal yourself!" He peered into the bucket only to find-
"Pinkie?!" He said confused and irritated. "What are you doing here?"
Pinkie looked rather embarrassed. "Well, I knew that you destroying Applejacks cart was an accident and I saw you weren't doing well and I didn't want you to get in anymore trouble-"
"PINKIE!" Mirror angrily shouted. "GET ON WITH IT!"
"I just wanted to help."
Pinkies voice got uncharacteristically quiet as she said the last part, her body adopting the dark tones that Mirror had saw in his dream and her hair had deflated. Mirror was completely flabbergasted but he had one last question.
The question hung in the air for a moment before Pinkie finally replied.
"That's what friends do."
Mirror was in shock. This pony was without doubt, not real. She had let him stay with her, knew he was a Changeling but treated his as a friend anyway and was now helping him even though if Applejack found out both of them would be in trouble. Watching Pinkie develop tears in her eyes, Mirror felt a feeling that he had never felt before.
It felt like a knot had tied itself in his stomach and was tightening with every moment.
He had never hated anything as much before. He had to get rid of it. He knew exactly what he needed to do.
"Mirror," Pinkie sniffed. "I'm sor-"
Before she could finish, Pinkie was grabbed by Mirror and was wrapped in a massive hug. They both stayed like that for about a minute before they broke apart. Pinkies color had raised a few tones and she had a small smile on her face.
"Why did you do that?" She questioned. Mirror took a deep breath.
"Because you've been a friend to me." He simply replied. "I've never had a best friend, much less a pony friend. Thanks."
All of Pinkies colors returned and her hair poofed out. She happily pulled Mirror into a bear hug.
"Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"
"Oh, right, sorry." She giggled, releasing him. Mirror had finally gained enough energy to morph to pony form.
"Now, will you help me with the apples?"
"Sure Mirror, what are friends for?"
They had done it; through the combined effort of Mirror Edge and Pinkie Pie they had finished collecting enough apples. Pinkie had left just before Applejack arrived.
"Well tan mah hide!" She whistled. "Ah didn't think you would pull it off but ya'll did!"
"Heh, I sure did." He chuckled. Then something was shoved in his hooves; a mug filled with some strange liquid. Mirror eyed it suspiciously.
"Go ahead, your reward for a job well done." She held up a similar mug and drank heartily from it. Mirror looked at the drink and raised it nervously to his lips.
Oh sweet Chrysalis.
It's like somepony took Pinkie's cupcakes and turned it into a drink! He gulped down the drink and nearly ate the mug. Applejack watched him with a look of amusement on her face.
"Ah guess it's the first time you had cider huh?"
"I don't suppose you could give me the recipe?"
"Old Apple family secret."
Applejack sat on the law outside the family barn. Mirror Edge and Pinkie Pie had long left and the sun was hanging low in the sky. Her brother, Big Macintosh lumbered up and sat beside her. Big Mac was a bright red stallion, as red as the apples he harvested and he always wore his yoke whether or not he was working. They both sat in silence watching the sunset.
"Pinkie was helping him the whole time, wasn't she?" Applejack asked her big brother. He had been secretly watching Mirror edge to make sure he wouldn't try to run away.
"Eeyup." He plainly answered as he always did. She smiled and shook her head but then a worried look came over her face.
"Did anything happen out there?"
He was silent for a moment before replying "Eenope."
Applejack nodded her head. "Well ah guess ah have to take your word for it. G'dnight big brother." Without another word she said goodnight and walked back to the house, leaving Big Macintosh alone. He watched the sun set for a little longer.
Actually he had seen something. Something he had never seen before.
But he wasn't about to tell her that. She would figure it out herself eventually.
Something big was happening in Poniville, he could tell. And he wasn't about to ruin it.
The walk back to Ponyville was long and quiet. Mirror trotted along deep in thought while Pinkie hopped around him, humming a nonsensical tune.
He had lost. He unmorphed and stared at his hole filled hooves.
His race had lost. He didn't even know if any of his swarm had survived.
He looked up at the setting sun.
He was lost
Mirror looked down to see Pinkie facing him. She had stopped her imaginary musical and was looking at him inquisitively. The sun had finally set and Luna's moon and stars had come out.
"I don't know what to do. My plan has failed and, and..." He froze up, full realization hitting him.
"...I'm all alone."
"No you're not, silly."
He shook his head. "Not like that, Pinkie."
They both stood there in the moonlight, the wind blowing around them. Finally Pinkie spoke up.
Mirror stared at her. Almost not believing his ears.
"I mean, you could work at Sugercube corner and maybe do stuff around town and, and stuff." She stopped, looking at Mirror. He was happy that she couldn't see his face.
"Go home, Pinkie." He said calmly.
"Are you leaving?"
He didn't say anything more, turning his back to her. A moment later he could hear her walking away back to town.
Once again he was alone, shrouded in the pale moons glow. He stared at the town in the distance; full of happy Ponies living their own lives and having their own problems.
Start over? He thought.
Is it that easy? Can I just throw it all away and begin anew?
"Are you actually considering it?"
He turned around and couldn't believe what he saw.
Pinkie trudged back through Ponyville, her head down and the jaunty tune she was singing earlier replaced by a somber humming. This would have kept up if a pony hadn't run into her, knocking the both of them into the ground.
"Hey! Watch where yo-" She nearly finished before she saw who she had run into. "Fluttershy?"
Fluttershy looked like she had just ran a marathon, her mane was unkept, tears streamed from her eyes and her pupils were little dots.
Pinkies keen analitical mind told her something was wrong.
"PINKIE!" Fluttershy screamed louder than Pinkie thought possible. "You have to help me!"
It was a Changeling.
Well, he could sense it was a Changeling. it was in disguise.
"Another Changeling? Here?" He was overjoyed. He wasn't the only one left after all.
She smirked. "You surprised? My name's Copycat."
The Changeling was a female; her disguise was a simple unicorn mare. Her eyes were a brilliant blue, the fur was a light red and her mane was green. Her cutie mark was a detail less pony surrounded by similar ponies.
Mirror chuckled at the irony. Copy noticed him looking at her disguise. "I got it from a publisher in Manehatten. Yours?"
"A glass crafter in Appleloosa."
Silence fell over both of them for a moment. The stars overhead twinkled and sparkled.
"You were considering it, weren't you?" She asked.
He had considered it. Even if it was for a single second, he had considered it.
"It doesn't matter now." He simply said. She smirked and turned around. "Of course it doesn't. Now that we are here."
Mirrors ears perked up. "We"? Others? Are there other Changelings here?"
Copycat turned her head, letting Mirror see a razor sharp grin. "Come see for yourself." And with that she took off in the direction of the Everfree forest. Mirror stood there, looking at the spot that the Changeling had just been in and he looked at Ponyville; home of a pastry chef who had shown him true friendship.
He took off after her.
The six friends had assembled in Twilights library. Pinkie had calmed Fluttershy down enough to get here to explain.
"It-it was hor-horrible!" She weakly cried, even with all of her friends comforting her she was still in shock. Applejack Yawned. "Ah know sugercube but you have to tell us what happened."
Fluttershy took a deep breath and started. "Well I was just tending to my animals and-and I heard something in the bushes and I looked in and-and." She couldn't talk anymore and just dissolved into sobbing and hiccups. Rainbow Dash, a cyan Pegasus with multicolored hair and a rainbow-lightningbolt cutie mark stood up. She couldn't take this anymore.
"We need to get over there! Whatever attacked Fluttershy could still be over there!"
Twilight stood up too. "I agree. It's probably a Changeling who had tried to eat Fluttershys emotions."
"Changelings! Oh! Those horrible things?" Rarity remarked. "We need to catch this terrible thing immediently."
Pinkie Pie stayed unusually quiet during the discussion, not that anypony noticed.
"Come on girls!" Applejack hollered. "We got a monster to catch."
The five of them left Fluttershy in the library and took off in the direction of her cottage, Pinkie Pie trailing behind.
Please don't be him. Please don't be him...
Mirror entered a clearing. He had been running through the forest for Chrysalis knows long trying to follow Copycat and she had finally led him here.
He couldn't believe his eyes.
Standing before him, surrounded by at least ten other Changelings was Queen Crysalis herself. She was talking to her subjects, not noticing that somepony new had appeared.
"My Queen!" Copycat suddenly burst out from behind and sprinted to the Queen. They had a brief conversation, Copycat pointing at Mirror a few times before she motioned for him to come over. He went over and quickly saluted.
She nodded. "Yes, it's good to see another of us whom was not captured. Copycat has told me that you tried to conquer the town all by yourself."
He groaned inwardly. "Yes your highness. I failed."
"Why did you fail?"
He quickly looked around, Copycat had left and all of the other Changelings were off doing other things. He turned back to the Queen.
"My Queen," He stated. "This town is home to the Elements of Harmony."
He braced himself for the anger but instead a smile creped onto his Queens face.
"This is wonderful!" She laughed. "Not only will we conquer this town but we will conquer the Elements of Harmony themselves!"
Mirror was less than excited. "My lady, forgive me if I do not sound hopeful but how are we going to defeat Celestia and her forces without the power you gained at the wedding?"
The Queen chuckled darkly. "That won't be a problem." She looked up at the stars. "I have found something even more powerful."
"Alright girls were here."
Twilight and her friends had finally reached Fluttershys cottage. The house was completely wrecked, cages destroyed and animals gone. Twilight inspected the destroyed cages.
"Strange, these cages were broken from the inside out. The animals were trying to get away from something."
Pinkie just stared at the destroyed cottage with an empty expression.
"Enough talking!" Rainbow Dash yelled. "We have to get in there!"
"Dash is right." Applejack said, brandishing her lasso rope. "That critter is still in there, look!"
Applejack was right, two bright eyes shined from inside the dark house and noises could be heard from within.
"You're both right. Come on girls! Let's take this thing down!"
No sooner had Twilight said that had the door to the cottage burst open and the creature had run out.
Morning in Equestria. Celestia's sun had risen above the mountain range and shone briliantly across the land as a symbol to the Ponies freedom and power.
It also hurt to stare at it.
"GAH! Stop being so bright!" Mirror Edge screamed at the sun, for a second expecting it to talk back. He was slowly plodding back to Ponyville and had drifted off for a moment looking at the sky.
He just wanted to get back to bed. He had stayed up all night talking to his comrades at the Changeling camp.
You worked for hours in an apple field and you thought it was a good idea to stay up all night?
Shut up brain, maybe I like the unending hours of exhaustion. Did you think of that?!
A small part of Mirror mentally slapped him for arguing with his mind and tried to pick a subject that didn't involve staring at big balls of fire.
Chrysalis was alive. That was astounding. He was surprised that she was still concious since she was at the epicenter of the love-wave. They had even welcomed him back and applauded his skills for lasting so long.
And then they had sent him back.
"But my Queen! Surly you need my services here!" He had insisted. they stood in the Changeling camp, Everypony else running around training and doing other duties.
Chrysalis nodded but she stood firm. "We have all we need and more Changelings will be appearing soon."
"But can't you send another Changeling in my place?"
She shook her head. "Too many new Ponies appearing at once will draw attention." A fanged smile graced her lips. "Besides, we already have somepony in town with you."
"Somepony else?" He questioned.
"Yes, a special solider of mine."
Somepony else? But who would be brave enough or stupid enough to sneak into this town?
Mirror had finally entered Ponyville and immediently noticed that something was wrong. All of the windows and doors were closed, no food carts were out and strange Ponies were standing in front of a few buildings.
The strangest thing?
They were Royal guards.
Mirror quickly ducked behind one of the buildings and beat at his chest until his heart started again.
"Royal guards?!" He muttered, nearing hysterics. "They must have figured out our plan! I have to get out of here!"
He started to sneak towads the edge of town but unfortunatly he didn't watch where he was going.
"Oof! Excuse meeee..."
His voice drained away when he realized that a guard was standing in front of him, staring at him with those cold eyes they all seemed to have. Mirror whimpered quietly to himself.
"Sir?" The guard asked in the gruff tone that once again, they all seemed to have. Mirror only whimpered more in response.
"Sir, please get up. You need to get inside." He said, picking Mirror off the ground with only one hoof.
"Wait what? Get inside?"
"Yes sir, a Changeling was captured earlier today and the whole town is under lockdown."
"A Changeling?! Oh no..."
"Sir." The guard angrily insisted. "You must get inside now."
"Yes, right, sorry goodbye." He rambled, quickly trotting away from the guard and towards Sugercube Corner.
Another Changeling was captured? He thought as he approached the door. He chuckled a bit. Must have been the so called special solider of the Que-
He couldn't finish that thought because as soon as he was inside he found himself in the middle of an argument.
"Confess!" A cyan Pegasus screamed to a cage, or what was inside the-
"Confess to what?" A voice from inside the cage asked. Mirror could feel the smugness in his voice. Or her voice, whatever was inside the cage was speaking in a mares voice.
"I'm your friend, Rainbow dash. It's me, Fluttershy."
"NO IT'S NOT!" The Pegasus screamed, punting the cage with her hind legs in rage. Another Pegasus stepped up and spoke in a clam quiet tone.
"Rainbow dash, maybe you should try being a little nicer to the Changeling." She spoke in the same voice as the one in the cage, though without the evilness.
The Pegasus knows as Rainbow dash groaned. "Come on Fluttershy! I know that you're a "Friend to all living things" and junk like that but this monster broke into your house!" She pointed a hoof exaperatly at the cage. "It needs to be punished! It needs to be-" She noticed Mirror at this point, causing everyone else to look. Mirror was finally able to see the Changeling inside the cage.
"Oh, hello there." The Changeling spoke with obvious venom in his voice. "Have you come to set me free? No need, I can get out of here in a snap."
He paced the cage, looking like he resented the very idea of being locked in somewhere. As he paced, Mirror recognized the form he was morphed in; He was morphed into the yellow Pegasus that Mirror recognized as Fluttershy, during the job at Sweet apple acres, Pinkie had told him about her other friends including Fluttershy. She was a very timid Pegasus who instead of working on the weather like a normal Pegasus worked with animals. Pinkie had told him that she was the element of kindness but he really couldn't see it now. his form had yellow fur with a long pink mane but the eyes shined bright blue with malevolence. The real Fluttershy stood outside of the cage beside her friends, She looked very much the same, except for the evil eyes.
He was about to say something when he was tackled to the ground in a bear hug by a pink blur.
"Ohmygosh, ohmygosh Mirror! You're alright! I mean I thought that you were gone and then I thought that you were evil and then..."
"Pinkie!" Mirror chuckled, he had missed this in a way. "I'm fine! What's going on?"
"One of those dreadfull Changelings attacked Fluttershy last night." Rarity said.
"It was soooo scary." Fluttershy suddenly spoke up.
"And we captured it!" Applejack chimed in rather proudly.
"But why put him-er, it here?" He asked.
"Pinkie suggested it." Twilight said. "Besides we're waiting for it to be taken away."
Mirror looked at Pinkie, she whispered. "I thought it was you."
He smiled and whispered back. "Thanks."
"Why are you all talking?!" The blue Pegasus that Fluttershy had called Rainbow Dash called out. She looked furious by the looks of things. "This monster has to be punished!"
"Ah know Rainbow but we still hav' to wait for her." Applejack told her.
"Wait for who?" Mirror asked before hoofsteps could be heard behind him. He turned around to find himself face to face with-
"Princess Celestia," Twilight reported. "We've tried to get something out of this creature but we failed."
The great Princess nodded, "That's quite alright. You've done your best." She noticed Mirror and smiled. "Hello there are you one of Twilights friends?"
Mirror Edge fell to the floor with a thud.
"Mirror!" Pinkie jumped to his side. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine Pinkie," He replied while face down on the floor. "Just had a minor heart attack is all."
Celestia let out a small giggle. "I know that someponies tell me that they could faint in my precense but I never took them seriously!"
Mirror let out a pained chuckle. This was going to be difficult. Before him stood the enemy leader, one wrong move and he could be enjoying his new home on the moon.
"My name is Mirror Edge, Princess."
"Well Mirror, If you'll excuse us I have to speak with my student and her friends."
With that she led Pinkie and the others upstairs, leaving Mirror with the Changeling.
"Well, that just leaves you and me comrade." It said in a snarky tone.
"I take it that you're the special soldier that Chrysalis talked about?"
It smirked proudly. "The one and only."
"What's so special about you?"
"What's so special?!" It gasped as if it was physically hurt. "I'll have you know that I'm a master of disguise!"
"A master of disguise gets caught so easily?"
"Gets caught, lets himself get caught it's all the same thing."
"Can you stop doing that?" Mirror asked.
"Stop what? Being handsome?"
Mirror sighed, he was getting sick of this. "Stop speaking in Fluttershy's voice, can't you unmorph?"
"Nope. Don't you get it?" The apparently male Changling smirked. "I'm the real Fluttershy."
"Sure you are." Mirror sarcasticly replied. He was about to turn around when the Changeling spoke up.
"Do you know why the Changelings were banished?"
Mirror turned back confused. Everychangeling knew why they had been banished.
"We had been banished for crimes we did not comit, Celestia and Luna threw us into the Badlands and left us to starve."
He scoffed. "Is that what your Queen is telling you? You really should ask for the truth sometime."
"She's your Queen too!" He was getting angry at this guy. The mare/Changeling laughed. "Nah, I don't work for anypony."
Before Mirror could press for answers the door to upstairs opened and five mares came down.
"Where's Pinkie and Celestia?"
Twilight shook her head. "She said they needed to speak in private."
A few minutes later the door opened again and Pinkie happily bounced out followed by Celestia.
Celestia cleared her throat. "Twilight, you and your friends may go. I would like to talk with Mr. Edge."
"Yes Princess." Twilight said. The six walked out the door, leaving Mirror alone with the Changeling and the Princess. Celestia looked at the cage holding the Changeling for a second and turned to Mirror.
She motioned for him to follow and the two walked upstairs. Mirror had absolutly no idea what was going on. Why would the Princess want to talk with him? They had just reached the room upstairs when Celestia pushed him in and closed the door behind her. Her face was expressionless.
"That unicorn, Rarity offered me a job, well forced me to help her model clothes or something like that." He was already thinking of places to hide the body.
Pinkie looked intrigued at this. "A modeling job? I think you'll do well!"
"Yeah, think of everything a Changeling could do in the modeling industry!"
It happened exactly like this. He thought. He stood opposite Princess Celestia, regent of the sun and his and all Changelings mortal enemy.
And unfortunately the door was on her side.
He thought about lying or resisting but sighed, why bother to lie?
He dropped his disguise, not much use for it now and stared at the Princess. She looked very majestic; with white gleaming fur and a long multicolored mane that waved like a flag. Her entire body seemed to shine with a dull glow.
"How did you figure it out?"
"I've picked up a few things since the wedding." She stated. "Besides, It is pretty obvious."
"It's the name, isn't it?"
"Next time choose something more Pony-based."
The two of the let a small laugh fill the room before it was swallowed up by the silence once more.
His head dropped. "You're going to capture me aren't you?"
She shook her heard. "I was going too when I first saw you but your friend dissuaded me."
His head shot up. "Pinkie?!"
"Yes," She confirmed. "After my talk with the six, Pinkie and I shared a private conversation."
"Yes Twilight, It will be held in center of town."
"But why hold it in Poniville?" Applejack asked. "Can't ya'll hold it in Canterlot?"
"Unfortunately no," She replied. "Canterlot is still being rebuilt and it would be too difficult to transport the prisoner back."
"Um... you're not going to hurt it... are you?" Fluttershy mumbled.
Celestia smiled. Even after the ordeal she went through the Element of Kindness still felt for this Changling.
"No Fluttershy, when the trial is over we will simply transport it back the Badlands."
"And that's it?" Rainbow dash asked.
"That's it." Celestia confirmed. "Now, I would like you five to leave and wait outside. I would like to talk to Pinkie Pie."
"Me???" Pinkie Pie jumped up and down in excitement.
"Her?!" Twilight stared slack-jawed at her mentor.
"Yes now, please leave so I may speak with her."
The five mares walked past the hopping party pony and out the door, more confused than angry leaving Pinkie alone with Celestia.
Celestia sighed; this was not going to be easy. "Now Pinkie-"
"Ohmygosh, ohmygosh what do you want to talk about Princess?" Pinkie said, nearly exploding with excitment.
"Pinkie-" Celestia tried to cut in but was interrupted again.
"We can talk about parties! Or I can just talk about them or you can just talk about them or not at all!"
"What do you want to talk about?" She hopped around the Princess. "Food? Games? Parties?!"
Celestia was certain that for a split second, Pinkie faltered in her hopping though she just as quickly recovered, smiling even bigger then
"Which friend? There's Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy and Applejack and..."
Celestia sighed. In a way she was impressed; if Pinkie was nervous she certainly didn't show it.
"No Pinkie, your new friend."
Pinkie's smile seemed to stretch around her head, the smile itself looking as fake as a counterfeit bit.
"Oh yeah, He's from Appleloosa and works with mirrors and-"
"Pinkie," It was Celestias turn to but in, enough was enough. "I know he is a Changeling."
Pinkie all but threw herself at Celestia's hooves, tears formed in her eyes.
"Please don't take him away!" She pleaded to the Princess. "He's not evil or anything!"
For the first time in years Celestia was genuinely confused. "Excuse me?"
The alicorn stared at the pink earth pony pleading at her feet in shock.
"But Pinkie, he's dangerous! He needs to be captured!"
"No he doesn't!" Pinkie cried, clinging to the Princesses leg. "He's not evil, he's my friend."
"Friend? Pinkie, he's not your friend he's an enemy spy."
"No he's not!" She insisted. "I mean he was at first but I can explain..."
"She told me everything that happened in the past few days."
Mirror nodded his head, it made sense that she would.
"But what's stopping you from capturing me anyway?"
"Pinkie she could vouch for you and besides..." She shifted from one side to the other suddenly embarrassed. "She made me Pinkie promise."
There was a brief pause where neither said anything.
"Have you ever seen Pinkie's head appear out of nowhere?" Mirror asked.
"Oh thank me! I thought I was the only one!"
The two shared a laugh, feeling the mood lighten but then Celestia's stern gaze returned.
"What do you know of the Changeling down stairs?"
"About as much as you do." Mirror shrugged. "Apparently he's some kind of "Special soldier".
"Then it's worse than I thought." Celestia said, pacing around the room in thought. "We will have the trial and then we will ship him back to the Badlands as soon as possible."
Suddenly Mirror edge was furious. "Why do you keep sending us back to that horrible wasteland?!" He walked right up to her and looked her in the eyes. "Why do you let us starve?!"
Celestia was silent; she didn't say a word and instead walked to the window overlooking the square below. Mirror was even angrier now.
"You won't even answer me will you?! You just want us to go back there because-"
"I don't want you to leave."
Mirror froze up. "W-wh-what?"
"I don't want any of you to starve." She said quietly, her back turned to him as if she couldn't look at him.
A few thoughts flashed though Mirror's mind;
"Do you know why the Changelings were banished?"
He scoffed. "Is that what your Queen is telling you? You really should ask for the truth sometime."
Without saying a word he walked over to the Princess and sat beside her, looking out the window at the Ponies below; going about their daily lives.
"It wasn't always like that." Celestia said.
"What?" He buzzed.
"The Badlands, it wasn't always like it is now. It was once as green and lush as Equestria. Maybe even more so."
"If it's not so good now, why are you sending us back?"
She was silent for a moment and in that moment Celestia looked a millennium older than before.
"It is your homeland."
"Ooookay, I obviously don't know how to use maps."
Copycat stood in a forest, map in hole-filled hoof and a confused look on her face.
"Well, good news everypony!" She said to nopony in particular. "I am completely lost!"
She proceeded to fold the map into a giant paper airplane and threw it in a random direction.
"Now," She stared puzzlingly at a rock as if it had the directions that she seeks. "I need to get to Poniville and talk to Mirror edge. I just need to find out how."
"Ouch!" A small voice cried out near her.
Copycat jumped in shock. Did she accidently hit a magic tree and it was going to have its unholy tree-related revenge?!
"You okay Scootaloo?" A second small voice said.
"Yeah, this stupid paper airplane came out of nowhere and hit me!"
"Will y'all hurry up?" A third voice rang out. "We 'ave to get to Poniville to find this new Pony!"
New pony? They must be talking about Mirror!
Copycat suddenly got an idea. She could use this.
"My homeland?!" Mirror shot back in disbelief. "But that's impossible! That land has been uninhabitable for centuries!"
Celestia nodded. "For over 2000 years to be exact." She hung her head sadly. "I lost count along the way."
"But... what happened?" He was almost afraid to ask but he needed to know. Celestia gave him a sad look.
"What do you know about Discord?"
Discord? He thought. Spirit of chaos and disharmony? Who hasn't heard of him?
"Because he is responsible for the Changelings."
Mirror froze up. His entire world stopping in its tracks. He could barely comprehend it.
Celestia took a deep breath. "A long time ago there was a kingdom in the Badlands, the Ponies there were nothing like the ones that lived in Equestria." She looked the Changeling in front of her over. "The Queen of these Ponies ruled though grace and love and her subjects lived in harmony with the world around them. These Ponies survived by drawing the energy of positive emotions emitted from other Ponies around them, through this they were able to stay strong and healthy and nothing could defeat them."
"But then what happened?"
She paused for a moment. "Discord, Discord happened."
"Sister! Art thou sure thou are going the right direction?"
"We are sure Luna now hurry! He has spotted us!"
A younger Celestia and Luna ran through a dense forest, running from the chaos magic spreading behind them and dodging the magic bolts raining down from above. They had been discovered by Discord a few weeks earlier and had fled to the adjacent kingdom. The two could feel their hearts about to give out.
"We must press on sister," Celestia panted. "We are almost-there!"
They could finally see it; a city stretching through the forest with a massive castle overlooking it all. The two alicorns didn't have time to enjoy the view though as the chaos blasts were getting closer. They quickly ran to the castle, all around them guards and soldiers were flying out to meet the menace about to attack. Finally the Princesses reached the throne room.
The radiant Queen stood up; her insect wings shining in the light of the stained glass windows a look of happiness on her face.
"My little Princesses! What brings you here again?"
It was at this point that she noticed the two Princess were hurt and covered in mud and filth. Before she could say anything the castle began to shake. fighting could be heard from outside. The Queen stared at the alicorns with a confused look.
"What is going on?" The Queen asked.
Suddenly the ceiling began to crack and bits by bit it was torn away reveling-
"DISCORD!" Luna screamed.
The Draconequus floated above them all; a malicious look on his face and debris floating around him. He let out an evil chuckle.
"Oh precious Princesses," He sneered. "Did you really think that you could escape the spirit of chaos?"
He was holding one of the Queens soldiers in his clawed hand. The soldier was unconcious or at least they hoped he was unconcious.
"Oh and about you." He pointed an accusing finger at the Queen who scowled in response. "I must really give you credit; these warriors you have here are tough. He tossed the soldier down to the ground in front of Celestia and Luna landing with a soft thud "But not tough enough."
Metamorphosis was furious. "Do you come here and expect us to bow down?"
Discord simply floated in the air, digging in his ear. "Uh, yes? And if you don't..." He flew down cracked a double fanged grin. "Well I don't know what I'll do."
The Queen looked at the monster in front of her and then at the two Princesses whom she had loved like daughters. She knew what she had to do.
"Alright, victory is yours." She admitted raising a hoof to shake in defeat.
"Metamorphosis?!" Celestia cried in confusion.
"Do not do this!" Luna yelled.
Discord ignored them instead grinning as he reach for the hoof. "I'm so glad you see it my-"
Meta's hoof was like lightning, slamming against Discords face and knocking him to the ground.
"Meta?!" Celestia watched in disbelief.
"Forgive me." She said flashing a final smile before sending them away with a flash of magic. She was alone in the throne room with an insane chaos spirit, who was getting up by now. Discord finally got off the ground but felt that something was off; looking at the ground he realized that the Queen had knocked one of his fangs out of his mouth. He glared at the Queen who had actually angered him.
"You're going to regret that."
"...And because of her sacrifice, me and Luna were able to escape and find the Elements of Harmony to stop Discord once and for all." Celestia continued. "When it was all over we searched for years for them, for any of them and when we found you..." She stopped for a moment, suddenly incapable of speaking though she regained it. "When we found them they were...changed; they were vicious, twisted and evil. We tried to return them race to normal," She looked at Mirror with sullen eyes.
"We tried everything but nothing worked. And then your race started drawing energy like they always did but..." She paused, looking for the right words. "They started drawing energy from the land itself and they took it in droves. Eventually the Badlands looked like they do now." She shook her head. "I've seen Changelings like you before; the curse Discord did is lifting but it's not enough."
She looked at Mirror. He was mortified, to hear that your specics wasn't always like this, that they were better times. He couldn't believe it.
Celestia sighed. "I'm sorry to tell you this; I hope you can forgive me."
Mirror couldn't think of anything to say other than: "Thank you."
She smiled warmly and walked towards the door.
She froze halfway through the door turning her head to Mirror.
"What were they called?"
She thought for a moment before finally answering.
Mirror walked through Ponyville ignoring the other Ponies and completely lost in his thoughts. He didn't even try to grab emotions off of others; he just didn't have the appetite.
Is that what we were? All this time?
I mean the name is kind of lame but really? We used to be so different.
And they never told us.
That thought struck him like a bolt of lightning reverberating through his entire body.
They never told us. He realized, coming to a stop in the middle of town. All this time and none of us even knew.
Anger started to fill him. Why did it have to happen like this? Why can't we just go back to before and stop being monsters?
As if the universe didn't like messing with him enough, he was quickly tackled to the ground by somepony. It was Copycat; in her unicorn disguise, wearing the biggest smile.
"Finally found ya!" She giggled, holding him down. "Let me tell yah; I've been looking for you forever!"
High-pitched giggles could be heard from nearby. Craning his neck he could make out three fillies laughing at him.
"Hey!" He shouted at the three. "What's so funny?"
"It's probably has something to do with you being on the ground and me being on top of you." Copycat happily answered.
"Thank you for explaining." Mirror sarcastically replied. "Now can you get off of me?"
"Nope." She giggled. The three fillies were on the ground laughing hard. Mirror stared at them incredulously.
"Who are these fillies, Copy?" Mirror asked. "Friends of yours?"
"Oh yeah," She jumped off of him and ran up to the three; an earth Pony, a Pegasus, and a unicorn, all mares. "Girls, you should introduce yourselves."
The three started talking, one by one.
"Mah name's Applebloom."
"I'm Sweetie belle, but you've already met me."
"And I'm Scootaloo."
"And we are the Cutie Mark Crusaders!" They said in union, jumping into a group pose complete with applause courtesy of Copycat who immediately after scooped all three of them into a hug.
"Aren't they just the cutest things?" She squealed.
"Hey! Ya'll are ruining our entrance!" Applebloom shouted.
"I am not cute!" Scootaloo yelled insistantly at Copycat.
"Put us down!" Sweetie belle commanded. Copycat obeyed and let them all go, letting them land in a pile with a small thump.
"I found them in the woods looking for you!" She proudly proclaimed, pointed a hoof at him with a smirk. "I was looking for you anyways but they looked like they needed help so I jumped in!"
"No you didn't," Applebloom interjected. "We were walking to Poniville and y'all were lost."
"Details." She scoffed, waving the earth Pony away. The other two ran up and start clamouring around her. Mirror stared with a widening smile at the scene; a Changeling was friends with three fillies. If he had seen it a few days earlier he would have found it absurd but now...
"Oh! By the way Mirror." Copycat broke away from the CMC's and walked Mirror Edge away so only the two of them could hear.
"What is it?" He asked.
"I have a message from the Queen." She whispered, looking back at the Crusaders in case they were listening in. They were.
"What'chall talking about?" Applebloom asked.
"Maybe they're talking about a secret mission!" Sweetie belle wondered. Mirror was surprised how often some of these Ponies were right.
"She wants to see me? Why?"
"She didn't say. All she told me was that 'you will get your questions answered' or something like that."
My questions answered? He thought then suddenly realization hit him again.
She must know! This whole time and she knows?!
Rage started to build inside him, about to burst he took off towards the forest.
"Mirror?" Copycat called from behind him.
"Wait!" Scootaloo yelled. "We wanted to ask you something!"
"Whatever it is you can ask Copycat!" Mirror answered, running off. The three turned to Copycat who offered them a smile which they reacted badly too.
"What? Too much teeth?"
Mirror sprinted through the forest, branches wiping his face as he ran. The sun hung low in the sky giving everything a golden glow; it had taken him so long to get there because of the guard patrols still looking for the Queen and her forces.
He finally burst out of the underbrush and found himself in the camp.
"Sir," A drone ran up to him. "The Queen has been expecting you."
"I know." Mirror quickly brushed past him and walked up to the Queen who was writing at a huge desk that a servant had brought in.
"You were expecting me your highness?" He gritted his teeth in rage.
"Ah yes I was." She turned away from a letter she was writing. She had been sending out letters to her forces to converge on Poniville. "I suppose you met my special soldier?"
He nodded swallowing his anger for now.
"Good, can you report his progress?"
He couldn't stop a small grin to come on to his face. "My Queen, unfortunately your 'super soldier' was captured and is being prepared for a trial tomorrow.
He waited for the rage to spread across her face but nothing came. Suddenly she started to cackle victoriously.
"Finally, everything is going according to plan! Soon we will earn our ultimate reward!"
Mirror stared mouth agape at his Queen. "You wanted this to happen?!"
"But of course my subject!" She confirmed while writing out a few more letters. "Don't you know of our plan already?"
Mirror finally snapped. He knocked over the table sending everything flying.
"I know about the Flutter ponies!"
The Queen went silent, her eyes widening in shock.
"Wh-how do you know about that?"
"Princess Celestia talked to me."
Chrysalis looked around at the gathering of Changelings who had heard the commotion. Mirror could hear her quietly cursing under her breath.
"Disperse! I would like to speak to my subject alone." She commanded. The entire swarm quickly walked away leaving Mirror alone with his Queen. She looked at the ground, all of the notes and letters strewn around.
"How much do you know?"
"More than enough your highness, she told me everything." He admitted. He wished that he didn't know as much as he did now. There was a deep silence between them, the sun beginning its departure behind them. Chrysalis watched it set.
"I'm surprised that she even remembers."
"She cares, my Queen and she wants to help us."
"If she wants to help us then tell her to get out of our way!" She snapped at him. After she had done this her expression softened and she turned away.
"This secret was passed down from Queen to Queen," She started to explain. "Eventually along the way we just stopped telling them because it wouldn't change anything."
She made a dark chuckle but not like she usually did, this one was full of irony.
"Isn't it ironic?" She quipped. "Changelings who can't change."
"But surely there is something we can do?" He begged. "Anything!"
She paused and looked off to the setting sun. How symbolic she thought. She turned back to him, a expression Mirror couldn't make out on her face.
"There is one way."
"One way?!" He reacted. There might be one more way to turn them back? "What do you do?"
Chrysalis looked at him with a hint of mirth in her eyes; this lone soldier had done so much in a few days that it astounded her. But her eyes soon clouded over with mist.
"You don't do anything but I..." She couldn't finish her sentence because at that second, a Changeling burst through the bushes.
"Hello boss, I've returned home." He spoke like he was supposed to be rewarded or something for this.
"I'm sorry, who are you?" Mirror asked, feeling like he unfortunately already knew.
The Changeling gasped in mock shock. "Don't tell me you've forgotten the master of disguise?" He clicked his tongue. "Really, you should try harder to remember Ponies like me."
"Wait, you're the special soldier?" Mirror asked shocked. "But you're in a cage in Poniville!"
The Changeling groaned. "How many times do I have to tell you? I can get out of things like that in a snap." He whipped his tail while he said 'snap'.
"Ah yes, finally." Chrysalis walked towards the soldier. "Is everything prepared?"
"But of course." He smugly replied. "The swarm is building and come tomorrow Poniville will be, well, swarmed."
Mirror was about ready to kick this smug snake in the face. "Did you really need to say that pun?"
"Well I could have said 'zerg rush' but the author thought that wouldn't work as well." He shook a hole filled hoof at the sky earning confused looks from the other speakers.
He coughed. "But I digress. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to town wouldn't want anypony wondering where I've run off to."
Without another word he jumped into the bushes leaving them alone again.
Chrysalis sighed. "He's hard to work with but he gets things done. You should probably get back too. Prepare yourself for the invasion and the conquering of Equestria. "She chuckled evilly.
Mirror did feel tired and the moon was just beginning to appear over the mountains. He began walking out of the camp but turned back.
"Wait, you didn't tell me what we need to do to return to normal."
Chrysalis was cleaning up the area, stacking the papers and returning the desk upright. She stopped and turned to him, the expression he couldn't understand on her face again.
Celestia stood on the balcony of Twilights library, the moon shone brilliantly above her. Twilight and her assistant Spike had gone to bed, exhausted from the problems of the past few days. Ever since she had arrived, Twilight had been going through her library trying to find anything about the Changelings. It was no use of course, Celestia had the only records of Changelings and they were in the Canterlot vaults.
Twilights pet owl, Owlowiscious, a literal night owl had stayed up alongside the Princess. He fluttered over to the Princess and landed on her back.
"How did you know I was waiting for somepony?" She playfully asked the owl who simply rustled his feathers in response.
"I'm not going to spoil who it is." suddenly the sound of flapping wings filled her ears. "Besides, here she comes now."
A dot on the horizon slowly grew into a shape that the both of them could make out; Princess Luna, sister of Celestia and regent of the moon. Her mane waved just like her sisters but instead of rainbow colors Luna's mane was dark as the night with stars twinkling in it. She flew over to the library and floated in front of her sister.
"Hello sister, I got your message." She looked down towards the center of town where parts of a makeshift court had been assembled.
Celestia nodded. "Hello Luna, How is the rebuilding of Canterlot going?"
"Were running behind schedule unfortunately." She sighed. "We won't last another attack."
Celestia sighed; she really didn't want to be the bearer of bad news but...
"A Changeling had been captured here."
Luna watched her moon rise slowly over the horizon. "I had hoped that your letters were just another of your little jokes."
She shook her head. "Not this time little sister. More and more sightings around Poniville have been reported."
"Their planning something." Luna acknowledged.
The sound of an owl hoot broke the sisters out of their serious conversation. Owlowiscious fluttered over to Luna and rested peacefully on her back.
"Hello Owlowiscious, how are you?"
"Really? She tried to talk Celestia into that?" She giggled.
Celestia sighed. Luna could talk to all creatures of the night and she still refused to go outside and sociolize.
"Luna we must focus, I have talked with one of the Changelings."
"One of the drones?"
"Yes, he arrived here earlier than the other one and did not have any connections to him." She looked back into the library where her prized student was sleeping. "He's made friends with Twilight and her friends."
Luna stared in disbelief at Celestia. "Does this mean that the curse is breaking?"
"I'm not sure," She admitted. "But we need to prepare for anything." She looked out at the lands around him. "You've sensed it too haven't you?"
"Yes," Luna replied. "Something is coming, something big."
"We...we don't know Owlowiscious."
"My ever faithful subjects!" Queen Chrysalis proclaimed to her growing swarm. Over the days more and more of her soldiers had found their way to her and she now overlooked a small army, not as big as the invasion force but big nonetheless.
"Today we begin a new invasion of Equestia!"
"All hail Queen Chrysalis!" The swarm cheered.
"Today we strife the final blow against those who would leave us to starve!"
"All hail Queen Chrysalis!" They cheered.
"Finally we will get our new kingdom, with me as your ruler!"
"All hail Queen Chrysalis!" They roared.
"Follow me my servants, to victory!"
With a crescendo of buzzing wings the army took off in the direction of Ponyville with Chrysalis leading them.
"She cares, my Queen and she wants to help us."
"If she wants to help us then tell her to get out of our way!"
If only it were that simple. Chrysalis thought. Don't worry my lone soldier, soon we will all be normal again. ***
Mirror was suddenly stirred from his slumber. He had been dreaming about Pinkie and Applejack combining their cupcakes and cider into one heavenly food and he was just about to taste it.
Whatever had woken him up had better have a darn good reason.
Walking downstairs the first thing he noticed was that the cage had been removed from the room. Pinkie was behind the counter working on a pan of pastries.
She noticed him and waved. "Good morning Mirror Edge!"
He waved back which was kind of pointless considering he was right next to her now.
"What are these?" He sniffed the pastries, they smelled divine.
"These small delicious, what are they for?"
"I just thought that everypony would be hungry after the...trial..." She trailed off suddenly embarrassed.
Mirror shook his head. "It's alright Pinkie, I've been thinking and..." He never thought he would really say it. "I want to start over, here, in Poniville."
Whatever he would have said next was stopped as he was bear hugged again. Pinkie was smiling bigger than he had ever seen.
"Really? Do you mean that?"
He couldn't believe it either but he really did mean it. He had been thinking long and hard last night and had finally come to the conclusion that he didn't want to live like a monster anymore. He was sick of the invasion plan anyway.
"Yeah, I guess I do."
She began prancing around the store in excitement. "That calls for a party! But we'll have to have it for another reason other than you not being an evil Changeling because that would blow your cover. So I will have to create a new occasion to celebrate so we can celebrate and..."
Pinkies rambling was cut off by construction noises coming from outside. Mirror suddenly remembered why he got up today. He ran out the door and surveyed his surroundings; Ponies were everywhere, arranging chairs, stools and benches around two judge's pedastals and in the center of it, giving all the orders was Princess Celestia and Princess Luna.
Mirror suddenly realized; he had to tell them about the plan! He didn't want anypony to get hurt!
Before he could go talk to them he was poked very gently by sompony's hoof, he almost couldn't feel it. Turning around he found himself face to face with Fluttershy, Element of kindness and victim of the Special Soldier incident.
"Hello Fluttershy how are you?"
She only squeaked in response.
"I hear that." He joked watching the Ponies constructing the court probably hoping they never have to do this again.
"Do you think they're going to execute it?"
Mirror looked at the yellow Pegasus with a mixture of confusion and nausea. He was pretty sure Pinkie told him that she was the 'friend to all beings' type.
"Erm...probably not, Celestia wants to be as nice to the Changelings as possible."
Fluttershy nodded. "That's good. Its friends would be heartbroken if that were to happen."
She smiled and walked off leaving Mirror slightly confused. Where did she fit in the equation? He wondered. The thought was cut short by the sounds of brass horns.
"Court is now in session!" A guard shouted.
Everypony began sitting down in the many benches and chairs, Celestia and Luna sat in the judge seat with Pinkie and her friends to the right of them. Mirror couldn't get to the Princesses and warn them so he had to sit down and wait.
"Order in the court." Celestia said magically banging a gavel. Unfortunately everypony was chattering so loudly nopony could hear her. Celestia leaned over to her sister.
"Luna? Would you be a dear?"
Luna stood up cleared her throat and...
"WE REQUEST THAT EVERYPONY IS NOW SILENT!"
Her voice was like a hurricane, blowing everypony away. Even in the back Mirror could feel the wind from her words.
Everypony went silent. Luna sat back down.
"Thank you sister." Celestia calmly thanked Luna.
"You are welcome sister." Luna replied.
"Now with that out of the way, bring in the accused!"
Carried in on a cart pulled by five royal guards was the Special Soldier. He was still in his Fluttershy form. Admists the jeers and boos he stood up in his cage and bowed gracefully.
"You must be my new audience!" He shouted over the crowd. "It will be my pleasure to shake everypony's hoof and hand out autographs."
The crowd was getting increasingly angry at the prisoners antics, trying to reach him from outside of the cage while he simply sneered at their attempts. He waved at Mirror recieving a raspberry; Mirror would have no more involvement in this. Eventually the guards were able to maneuver the cage to the opposite side of the judge seats. Celestia and Luna looked down at the prisoner lounging in his prison. Celestia's horn began to glow and she shot a beam of light at the cage, it was encased in a see though bubble.
"You can no longer use your magic to escape, that cage is now unbreakable. Do you have any requests before we begin?"
"Yeah, can you get me an ice tea of something? Destroying you all is going to be thirsty work."
Celestia sighed inwardly. They still act like this, even after two millennium they still act like him.
She stood up, unfurling her wings letting her appear even bigger then she was.
"Let the trial begin!"
The cheering could be heard from outside of town.
The swarm had finally reached the outskirts of Ponyville. They had to go on foot now since they would be spotted too soon if they were flying.
"My Queen, what are we waiting for? Shouldn't we just attack?" Copycat asked Chrysalis who was staring intently at the town but not moving an inch.
"We are waiting for the signal my faithful subject."
As if on cue they could suddenly hear cheering coming from the center of town.
Chrysalis smiled. "And there it is. Come along my subjects, now is the time to strike!"
"You have committed crimes against the kingdom of Equestria," Luna proclaimed having read the full charges out. "How do you plead?"
The prisoner smiled and said. "Guilty as charged."
The Princesses exchanged a look.
"This is too easy." Luna whispered.
"I know right?" Celestia whispered back.
"Do you think it's all a trap?"
"I know it's a trap. They're going to try something today but I have come prepared. I have my soldiers garrisoned in the nearby buildings if they should choose to strike."
"A trap?" The Special Soldier asked. "Why would you think I'm part of a trap?"
"You're saying that you aren't?"
"Oh, I never said that."
Mirror was getting more and more nervous, he knew that Chrysalis had planned the attack today but there was no way to tell the Princesses without revealing himself and causing a panic.
"Why do you keep acting like this?" Celestia asked the prisoner. "Do you think we're going to let you off easy for attacking an Element of Harmony?"
He nodded. "Would you really hurt Fluttershy?"
"For the last time! You are not Fluttershy!" Twilight screamed at the Special Soldier. "She's right here next to us!"
Fluttershy meekly waved to prove her point. But then she yelped in surprise. "Look!" She pointed.
Everypony turned around to see a truly frightening sight; Queen Chrysalis and a giant swarm of Changeling behind her. They weren't flying or even charging towards them, they were simply walking towards them unmorphed and unafraid. Many of the Ponies gasped or screamed in fear and bolted for the buildings to hide while others waited to see how it turned out.
"I know Luna."
The two Princesses rose from their seats and walked forward to meet their foes. Pinkie, Twilight and the rest looked at one another, each of them with a look of grim determination on their faces and they followed their Princesses. Mirror simply sat in his seat; he didn't know what to do.
His dream was coming true.
Chrysalis and her swarm came to a stop a little ways away from Celestia and her sister. The tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife.
"Celestia, Luna." Chrysalis said with enough venom to kill a manticore.
"Chrysalis." Celestia said without a hint of emotion.
"We know what you are doing." Luna told her.
"Oh really? Enlighten me." she sneered.
"You sent in spies like this to try and break us from within but it won't work!"
The Changeling Queen shook her head, a growing laugh forming into a bout of evil cackling. "Do you really think I would try something as simple as that?"
Mirror finally found the strength to move and ran to Pinkie.
"Pinkie! Twilight! It's all a trap!"
"What? A trap?" Celestia shouted.
"Yes!" Chrysalis cried. "By coming here, you and your sister have sealed your fates alongside your subjects!" She leaned down to look at Mirror. "And you can thank your new friend here for helping."
Mirror stared in fear at his friends.
"You were helping them?!" Rarity said shocked.
"You're a Changeling aren't you?" Twilight asked.
He looked back and forth, trying to find a way out of this but he couldn't think of anything. He looked over his new friends and emitted a sigh.
"Alright, it's true. I am a Changeling."
He unmorphed, the disguise peeling away from his form like old paint revealing his horn and his insect wings. His wings stretched involuntarily from non-use. The mane six gasped in astonishment. Chrysalis just laughed more.
"I can't believe you didn't figure it out!" She chuckled evilly. "I mean really; it's so obvious!"
"Enough with this nonsense!" Celestia thundered. "This fighting is pointless, Chrysalis! If you stop now we can help your race."
"Were you 'helping' before when you banished us?" She snapped at the Princess, fangs barred. "You left us to starve and now we will have our revenge!"
"But how?" Luna questioned. "Your army is half its regular size and you don't have the power of love on your side."
The Changeling Queen smiled. "That is why I brought a trump card."
She motioned to the cage behind them, the prisoner within watching the event unfold with a massive smile on its face.
"You see; for the weeks I masqueraded as Princess Cadence I took a look around Canterlot castle, specifically the royal gardens."
"You what?!" Luna cried.
"And I just happened to come across a certain statue." She grinned.
Celestia somehow got even whiter, she was suddenly very fearfull. "Oh no..."
"Oh yes." She replied. "You see my subject; this is what I meant when I said 'struck a deal'." Chrysalis smiled. "To finally turn us back to normal, I enlisted the help of-"
"Discord!" Twilight finished her sentence.
Everyone turned towards the cage holding the prisoner...
...and it was still there.
Celestia turned to the mane six. "I don't think he heard us. There isn't much time." She whispered. "Get to the library and use the Elements of Harmony before he finds out. I shall hold Chrysalis off with Luna."
"There are two things wrong with that though." Fluttershy stepped forward, suddenly more assertive than usual. She reached behind her back and pulled out a book containing-
"The Elements!" Twilight shouted, she recognized the book anywhere.
"See the first thing is that we already have the elements. The second thing is..."
Fluttershy started to strain, her eyes becoming pure white while red cracks appearing all over her body with light pouring out. Everyone had just enough time to shield their eyes from the bright light. When the light faded away instead of Fluttershy standing before them they saw-
"Discord!" Celestia screamed.
Towering over them was the eponymous Draconequus, still holding the book containing the Elements in his clawed hand.
Everyone looked on in fear at the reality warper that stood before them, his very presence causing small cracks and distortions in the earth. Celestia turned to Chrysalis, seething uncharacteristically with rage.
"You fool!" She shouted at the Queen. "Do you have any idea of what you've done? Do you?!"
Chrysalis snapped back with as much ferocity. "It is your own fault for not helping us! We needed a way to turn back and this is our last chance!"
Meanwhile, Mirror Edge was having his own argument with Rainbow Dash.
"You were spying on us this whole time?!"
"No I wasn't! I'm not a spy!"
She snorted in rage, reeling up on her hind hooves and stomping the ground.
"Well you were part of the invasion right? You planned it didn't you?!"
"No!" He feared for his life at this point. "I mean it was that way at first but then I changed!"
"Liar!" Dash tried to charge Mirror but was restrained by Pinkie. The other three just sat and watched.
"Dashie please! He's not as mean as you think!"
Dash refused to listen; she shook Pinkie off and lunged for Mirror only to be tackle to the ground by a Changeling.
"Mirror?" The Changeling buzzed.
"Copycat?" He remarked, recognizing the voice.
Everyone stopped when Discord started to laugh; an evil guffawing laugh that bounced off the buildings. He stopped laughing and wiped an imaginary tear form his eye.
"And what are you laughing at?" Luna eyed him with anger matching her sisters.
"Oh, it's just too much!" He chuckled. "You're all being driven into the throws of chaos and all I'm doing is standing here."
He somehow managed to smooth his horns back, though they snapped back a moment later. "I'm amazing."
"You're Discord?" Copycat suddenly popped up, as quizzical as ever.
Discord smiled his snagle toothed smile, leaning down to talk to her like a grandparent talking to his grandkid.
"Why yes I am little....thing." He soothingly talked to her. "Are you a fan of my work?"
All emotion seemed to drop from her face. "You're the monster that cursed us."
Nopony had expected that, least of all Discord who decided to ignore her and go back to gloating over his enemies.
"You know?!" Mirror Edge asked Copycat.
"Well I-" She tried to explain but was interrupted by Twilight.
"Discord!" She jumped forward, her horn glowing unstably with magic. "What have you done with Fluttershy?"
"Oh, nothing much, she's over there in that inescapable cage." He pointed a talon to the cage behind them where a Fluttershy with glowing eyes was screaming for help.
"All it took was a simple hypnotize spell and a few special effects."
He snapped his fingers and the captured Pegasus's eyes regained their normality. She cried out from the inside of the cage, her eyes streaming with tears.
"I'm so sorry! I tried to warn you!"
The five Ponies plus Mirror Edge and Copycat ran at Discord, rage burning in each of their eyes. Discord simply yawned and snapped his fingers again. The group was suddenly picked off the ground by an unseen force and floated around the mad reality warper. He twirled the Elements book on one finger.
"You Ponies are so boring! Always doing trying to stop my fun doing other boring things."
Applejack floated upside down, her hat somehow staying on her head.
"But ah don't understand, how did ya get your mitts on the Elements?"
Discord smirked; he had wanted to tell them this.
"Changelings! Oh! Those horrible things?" Rarity remarked. "We need to catch this terrible thing immedientely."
Pinkie Pie stayed unusually quiet during the discussion, not that anypony noticed.
"Come on girls!" Applejack hollered. "We got a monster to catch."
The five of them left Fluttershy in the library and took off in the direction of her cottage, Pinkie Pie trailing behind.
Fluttershy watched them go, an evil smile growing on her face.
"Those Ponies will fall for anything. This really is too easy." Discord secretly muttered, walking into the library. He noticed Twilight's Dragon assistant, Spike. He was tending to the books like he always did.
"Ugh, why do I always have to stay home while they go on some fantastic adventure?" He groaned under his breath. not noticing that Discord had entered the room.
He didn't even notice Discord running at him with a big book.
"And that is exactly what happened. More or less." Discord said. He looked at his captives, expecting horror or at least disbelief. Instead he got looks of confusion from everyone involved.
He facepalmed. "None of you saw that flashback did you?"
Everyone was in an even larger state of confusion, all except for Pinkie who raised a hoof, acidentally punching Rainbow dash in the process. "I did!"
"Of course you did." Discord waved her away, his hand still on his face. He snapped his fingers and everyone fell to the ground again. Mirror Edge, Copycat and the Ponies quickly got to their hooves.
"You can't beat us this time Discord!" Twilight pointed an accusing hoof at the Draconequus. "We won't be turned against each other again!"
"Oh we are well aware of that." Chrysalis spoke up, buzzing through the air to Discords side. "That is why I had Discord take the Elements away from you."
Discord opened the book, revealing the hollowed out interior inside. Out of the book floated five necklaces and a crown, the Elements of Harmony. They floated around discord, he didn't look at them though, it was almost as if they caused him pain if he looked at them for too long.
"The Elements of Harmony, the gems in these trinkets are the only things that are strong enough to stop me."
With a soft clicking noise, the gems from each of the necklaces and the crown popped out and went into Discord hand.
"And we can't have that now can we?"
"No..." Was all Celestia whispered.
Discord had closed his hand around the gems and with one swift clench had crushed the stones into dust. He then opened his hand, letting the dust run through his fingers to the ground below and be blown away. The Ponies gasped in collective shock, watching their one salvation be blown away.
"And now that that's over with, it's time to get to business." He clapped his hands together, eliminating what was left of the dust.
"It can't be..." Twilight half-consciously said, watching the dust flow around them and away.
"Oh, but it is." Chrysalis laughed.
"Enough with this blabbering, that's what I do." Discord waved them silent, his face now sporting a malicious grin. "It's time for the real fun to begin!"
He tried to reach for Twilight but Mirror Edge jumped in front of her.
"If you want them, you have to go through me." He snarled.
Discord starred at him for a moment and shrugged. "Okay, I can do that. But it will be horribly messy though."
Before he could do anything, a soft glow washed over the seven.
"Celestia?" Rainbow Dash turned to see the Princess's horn glowing in concentration.
"We will not let you do this Discord." Luna yelled at the Draconequus, her wings unfurled and horn raised.
"Celestia!" Twilight shouted to her mentor. Celestia shook her head.
"I'm sorry Twilight."
With a great flash of light, the Mane six minus Fluttershy were gone, as well as the two Changelings. The Princesses, The Queen and her swarm as well as the Draconequus all inspected the area where the group of seven had just been.
"Huh, just like before." Discord mumbled, eyeing the Princesses who have been a pain in his side for far too long. It was no matter though, he was free and soon nothing would matter.
"Now that your subjects are out of the way, prepare to meet your defeat!" Chrysalis yelled at the two, her horn glowing a sickly green. "After that, my end of the deal will be through! Right Discord?"
"Yeah....about that." Discord scratched his beard uncomfortably.
Chrysalis turned towards him, slightly confused. "But Discord, I'm supposed to destroy Celestia and Luna. That is the deal we made."
"Yeah, you see, I don't want to destroy them. That would end my fun." He shook his head. "And to be honest, I don't want you to change back; it would ruin all the chaos you have caused."
Chrysalis's face was paling in fridge realization, her pride dropping a few notches. "But...but, Discord! We had a deal! You were to lift our curse!"
He nodded. "Yes I was, but you see...." He flew up to her, their faces inches apart.
"I don't want you to change."
With a swipe of his claw he created enough force to send her flying through the air and crashing into the Princesses. The three regained their footing quickly and looked on at the reality warper before them, grinning monstrously.
"It's time for chaos to reign again."
Mirror Edge weakly opened his eyes, teleportation was always an uneasy subject for Changelings and the suddenness of this one made it even worse. Looking around from the floor he was lying on, he could see something pink lying not too far from him.
Mirror Edge weakly opened his eyes, teleportation was always an uneasy subject for Changelings and the suddenness of this one had made it even worse. Looking around he found himself on a stone floor, he could see something pink lying not too far away from him.
Slowly, realization came to him.
With a surprising amount of speed and energy, he climbed to his hooves and ran over to the pink mare. She was on her side with her back to him, she wasn't moving.
"Pinkie? Pinkie!" He shook her, trying to wake her up, but no response came.
Oh Chrysalis, what if she's dead?! He thought. He paced the floor, trying to think of what to do.
The unmorphed Changeling turned around towards the voice; Twilight, Applejack and Rarity were standing in the opening of a stone hallway, each of them none the worse for wear.
"Girls!" Mirror ran towards them, only to be stopped when Twilight and Rarity pointed their horns at him threateningly.
"Girls! Please, you need to help me!" He quickly retreated from the angry women and back to Pinkie. "There is something wrong with Pinkie; I don't know what to do!"
While the two unicorns glared daggers at him, Applejack simply nodded her head. Pushing Rarity aside, she trotted over to Pinkie and inspected her.
She nodded again. "Eeyup, ah've seen this before. Ah know what to do."
Cracking her neck, she cleared her throat, took a deep breath, rose to her hind legs and shouted into Pinkie's ear.
"PINKIE! WE'RE 'AVING PANCAKES FOR BREAKFAST!"
No response, everyone stared at the farmer Pony who had just utilized the Royal Canterlot Voice as if she had gone mad. But suddenly the pink body on the ground stirred.
Pinkie shot up with the force of a lightning bolt, somehow brandishing two forks that came once again from nowhere. She searched the area with a crazed look in her eyes before she realized where she was.
"There's no pancakes are there?" She asked rather confused.
Mirror Edge fumed. "Do you know you almost gave me a heart attack?" He yelled. "I thought you were dead!"
It had taken a minute for what he was saying to connect in Pinkie's brain but when it did she beamed with happiness.
"Awww! You do care!" She proclaimed, pulling Mirror into another bear hug. The two unicorns who had been watching the entire scene play out, looked at each other in confusion and walked tentatively over to the others.
"You're really not evil, are you?" Twilight asked. "I mean I've made mistakes like this in the past and..." She trailed off.
He nodded. "Yes, I'm not evil. Didn't have a choice really." He glared at Pinkie who simply giggled.
"I hate to be the bearer of bad news but where are Rainbow Dash and that other Changeling?" Rarity asked.
Everyone looked around, it was true, no one had seen either of them since they had woken up.
"Well they can't be that far from us." Twilight stated. "We'll just have to find them."
Just as Twilight finished talking, Pinkie's tail began to shake.
"Twitcha-twitch, twitcha-twitch!" She shouted, dropping Mirror.
"Everypony take cover!" Applejack screamed, running for the nearest cover. The other two Ponies quickly followed suit.
Mirror simply stood in the middle of the room watching the three in abject confusion.
"Twitch-what? What is going on?"
"Mirror!" Twilight called to him. "Take cover!"
"Why? Is something going to come out of the sky and crush-"
He didn't even get to finish his sentence.
"Here he comes!"
"He got Needles! Fall back!"
The scene in Ponyville was one of, sufficed to say, chaos; Ponies and Changelings alike ran or hid from the reality warper who was raining doom and pies upon them. Ponyville was very quickly becoming the chaotic place it was before when Discord attempted this the first time. In the midst of this disastor was Celestia, Chrysalis and Luna.
"Stop giving me that look!" Chrysalis shouted at Celestia who had stopped nagging her and had switched to the 'I told you so' look.
"It is your fault, Chrysalis." Luna also shouted, they were all trying to hear each other over the explosions and honking. "You thought Discord, the monster that transformed you, would help you."
"What choice did I have?!" She snapped. "My people are dying and what are you doing?!" She glared at both of them. "You treat us like a nuisance! Like an insect swarm that needs bug spray!"
The two Princesses were silent; staring at the Changeling Queen before them, a descendant of a good friend long gone, who had been refused help and had been forced to go to the monster who had twisted them so long ago.
"Sister, what does thou think?" Luna asked turning to her big sister. Celestia looked sorrowfully at the Queen in front of her.
"It's our fault, Luna. We gave up too easily and brought this upon us." She stepped forward. "We have to help them."
"Are you sure?" Luna asked. Celestia nodded and walked over to the Queen
"We will help you." Celestia said.
"What?" She asked, not paying attention.
"We want to help you again." She tried to be a little louder.
"WHAT?" Chrysalis shouted as a chocolate milk bomb went off near them.
"WE WILL ASSIST YOUR RACE!" Luna RCV'd.
Chrysalis was taken aback. "But we've done so much to harm you!" She shouted back. "Why would you help us again?"
Celestia looked up at Discord, who was flying though the air, shooting at escaping Changelings and guards like it was a game and he was the controller.
She grimaced. "Let's just call it a long overdue debt."
Meanwhile still stuck in the magic enhanced cage was Fluttershy. She was still pounding on the bars of the cage, trying to get the Princesses attention but the havoc around her was making it difficult. Finally exhausted she slumped over in the cage.
"I have to get back to my friends and apologize." She sniffed, tears forming in her eyes. "But how am I going to get out?"
To answer her, a repeditive clanging could be heard behind her. She turned around to find a white bunny.
Her pet rabbit was standing outside the cage, a look of determination on his face and a frying pan in his paw. He was beating on the cage, trying to set his owner and feeder free.
"Oh, Angel, I'm so sorry for everything! Please forgive me."
He didn't reply, there would be time to forgive and ask for a pineapple-cherry salad later.
And, you know, he was a rabbit.
As he beat against the barrier, it began to crack and break away. With a final swing the pan collided with the barrier and it crumbled away, the cage now uncovered. Angel quickly climbed to the top and unlocked it. Helping Fluttershy open the cage, she climbed out and hugged him.
"I'm so sorry Angel, I didn't mean to scare you, I hope you can forgive me, I, I..."
Angel, having enough of his owners over-apologizing, put a paw over her mouth, silencing her and pointed towards the forest.
"What is it? Something in the forest? Angel now isn't the time for a walk."
The bunny face palmed, reaching behind him he pulled out a picture of Fluttershy and her friends.
"My friends?" She gasped. "Are they in the Everfree forest?!"
He charaded a 'yes' by touching his nose and was suddenly dropped onto the ground.
"Oh no!" She worried. "I have to go in and find them!"
"Now why would you want to do that?"
Fluttershy looked up to see Discord hovering on a pink cloud that looked to be made out of cotton candy in front of her.
He grinned. "Still the quiet one? That's too bad, I for one liked the makeover I gave you before."
"I...I..." She struggled to speak, trying to remain calm in the face of the beast who had been controlling her. "I-I'm not afraid of you!"
He chuckled, reaching down and ripping a chunk of the cloud he was sitting on and stuffed it in his mouth.
"Om rmllm?" He asked, still with food in his mouth and swallowed.
"Oh really?" He repeated, leaning forward. "Well you know what? I don't believe you."
She shirked back in fear. "W-when I find my friends; we're going to stop you!"
"Your friend's aren't here at the moment, please leave a message never." He joked, looking out at the forest in the distance that Angel had pointed to earlier.
"Besides," He reached out at her. "You're not going to get the chance."
Fluttershy braced for the end when a magic blast sailed over her head at Discord, striking him clean in the face and sending him flying off his candy cloud and into a building, bringing the entire thing down.
"Amazing shot, Luna! Right in the face!" Fluttershy turned to see Princess Luna standing on a mound of rubble, her horn smoking from magic discharge. Princess Celestia and strangely enough, Queen Chrysalis came up behind her.
"Fluttershy! You need to get out of here!" Celestia shouted to her. The yellow Pegasus didn't need to be told twice and took off to the forest.
Suddenly, rumbling sounds came from the once-was-a-house that Discord had crashed into. The ground suddenly burst revealing the angry Draconequus, his fur was singed from the blast but apart from that there seemed to be no injuries despite having an entire house come down on him.
"Tch, tch." Chrysalis shook her head, clicking her tongue. "Let me show you how it's really done."
Her horn glowing, Chrysalis lifted three large rocks into the air. Lining up to the target she let each of them fly one after the other at Discord.
Climbing out of the rubble, Discord rubbed his head. He had to admit; that really stung. A whistling noise filled his ears and he looked up seeing three boulder sized rocks sailing towards him.
He growled. Try to stop my fun again? I don't think so.
The object that had crashed into Mirror was actually Rainbow Dash and Copycat who had been fighting in the sky a moment earlier. After everyone had regained consciousness, again, the two had to be restrained to keep them from fighting even more.
"C'mon, sugercube calm down!" Applejack strained, holding her friend down.
"Let me at her! I'll give her a few more holes!" Dash threatened, nostrils flaring and anger burning in her eyes.
"You just try, Rainbow...head!" Copycat retorted.
"That's telling her, Copycat." Mirror Edge who at this moment was restraining the fellow Changeling, snarked.
"Rainbow stop this." Twilight stepped between the two groups. "They're not our enemies, well not them anyway."
"Calm down Copy, we don't need to fight." Mirror proclaimed.
"Well, okay, fine." Copycat muttered, turning away from the group.
"Dash, you need to calm down too. There are much more important things going on." Rarity said.
"But...but...fine." Dash tried to argue but couldn't think of anything to say.
"Excellent!" Pinkie chimed in, hopping around the group. She picked up Copycat and Rainbow Dash and pushed them together.
"Now apologize!" The party Pony commanded.
The two stared at Pinkie for a moment then they looked at each other.
"Just so you know..." Copycat added. "I would have won that fight."
"Oh, It's on now!" Dash screamed, tackling the Changeling to the ground.
Mirror and Twilight facehoofed. This was not going to be easy.
Ponyville was a disaster area; buildings warped beyond reality would allow, things flying through the air that normally wouldn't be able to, anything and everything could be a threat.
But the strangest part was that Chrysalis was enjoying it.
She gallivanted through the wreckage of Ponyville, firing green energy blasts with glee at the dodging Draconeguus.
"Why are you laughing at a time like this?!" Luna questioned the Changeling Queen who was cackling with joy.
"Because this is Discord I'm fighting!" She laughed, levitating more boulders to fire at the mad monster. "I've wanted to do this for a long time!"
Luna shook her head. "We should not be having fun here! This is the fate of Equestria on our shoulders! We need to protect it from certain destruction, right sister?"
Celestia couldn't hear Luna as she was busy talking to Chrysalis. "Watch this, I'm going to build the house around him and then collapse it."
Luna watched as the two charged the Draconequus side by side, gleefully tormenting the Draconequus.
She sighed and charged in alongside them. Sister, always the mischievous one.
"There, that should do it."
Applejack stepped back to admire her handy work; Rainbow Dash had put up a massive struggle but in the end she had managed to hogtie the Pegasus to keep her from starting anymore fights. While Dash calmed down, Pinkie Pie and Mirror Edge had taken it upon themselves to bring Copycat up to speed with what was going on.
"How did you know that Discord was the one who cursed us?" Mirror asked.
The Changeling shifted from one hoof to the other in slight embarrassment. "My ancestor was one of the guards that survived Discord's attack. In hindsight I probably shouldn't have just announced it." She looked at Mirror. "How did you figure it out?"
"Princess Celestia told me."
Copycat whistled, "Straight from the Princess herself. You really started something here didn't you?"
He nodded looking through the broken ceiling of the ruins to the treeline, he could see smoke rising from Poniville.
Is this all my fault? he wondered.
"I guess I can't really go back to the swarm now." She sheepishly rubbed her head. "Is it okay if I hang with you guys for a while?"
"No!" Rainbow Dash yelled.
"Sure!" Pinkie Pie chirped. "But I have one question." She walked right up to Copycat and looked at her with narrowed eyes and a emotionless expression.
"You are uncomfortably close." Copycat said rather offhandedly
"Ignore that, she does this a lot." Mirror said from behind Pinkie.
"Do you... like parties?" Pinkie asked, poking the Changeling for emphasis.
Copy grinned. "I sure do! I remember when I went to a high class party in Manehatten; hundreds were there. The food and everything was awesome!"
Pinkie gained a grin of her own. "You were invited to a party in Manehatten?!"
"Invited, snuck in, it's all the same when you get down to it." She shrugged.
The two started talking excitedly about their party exploits, leaving Mirror alone. He didn't want to interrupt the two so he walked over to the other Ponies who were currently watching the scene.
"They're going to be a strange pair of friends aren't they?" He asked.
"This whole thing is strange." Rarity answered.
"Stranger than a snake with legs." Applejack added.
The five of them watched Pinkie and Copycat chat excitedly in silence.
"...Can you guys untie me now?" Rainbow Dash piped up.
"Not just yet." Applejack smiled.
The Princesses and the Queen were getting tired from fighting. Chocolate milk rained down around them and contrary to its looks it burned like acid.
"My remaining soldiers are taking shelter." Chrysalis walked over the rubble to the Princesses. With every step she felt white hot pain shoot through her back hind leg.
"The royal guards have evacuated the citizens." Luna reported. Her entire body was covered in burn marks; Discord had trapped her into a massive explosion.
"Excellent." Celestia responded. She was sitting on the ground, focusing all of her magic into a healing spell. All three of them had suffered injuries at the hands of Discord and were running out of tricks.
"I don't think we will be able to defeat him though." Chrysalis spoke, feeling her injuries begin to disappear. "Even with the three of us fighting, we are evenly matched."
"We don't need to defeat him." Celestia responded, rising up with a stern look. "We only need to stall."
"I know your plan, Princess." Chrysalis looked around them once but there was nopony else but them. "It is only a matter of time before Discord becomes tired of fighting us and-"
Out of nowhere a large magic dome had materialized around the three. Celestia took an experimental shot at it with a magic bolt and the blast simply dissolved into the dome. All around them they could suddenly hear Discord's mocking laughter. He rose out of the ground in front of them, not a scratch on his body despite everything the three had done.
"I have to say Tia; you certainly put up more of a fight then before." He crossed his arms and nodded. "But the outcome will always be the same."
"And you." He pointed an accusing finger at the Changeling Queen. "I am deeply ashamed of you for doing this." He wagged his finger. "For shame."
Chrysalis only glared dagger at him, fangs barred. Luna beat against the dome with her hind hooves.
"Don't bother, little Lulu." Discord smirked. "That dome is unbreakable from the inside."
He breathed on the dome and wiped an imaginary smudge. "Call it karma for trying to trap me all those times."
"We will defeat you Discord." Luna told him. "We always do."
Discord groaned. "Seriously Celestia; first you were the serious one and now you have your sister doing it?!" He pouted. "It's really starting to get on my nerves."
"You are just delaying the inevitable Discord!" Chrysalis shouted. "While you sit here trying to insult us, the Elements of Harmony are regrouping and are going to bring you down!"
"Oh, that 'friendship' thing again." He gagged. "What a touching but ridiculous sentiment. Besides," He snapped his fingers. "I've set a little something up for them."
With a final laugh, he vanished in a flash of light leaving the three rulers along again.
"...Didn't I say that love was a ridiculous thing before?" Chrysalis suddenly asked.
"Yes, yes you did." Celestia answered.
"That was kind of stupid wasn't it?" She admitted.
"Yes, yes it was." Celestia smirked.
"Someday you really need to tell me what happened sister." Luna demanded.
Rainbow Dash soared through the trees, swerving and twisting along the branches.
"It feels so good to stretch my wings!" She dropped to the ground but pulled up at the last second, creating a gust of wind that hit everyone else.
"My hair!" Rarity exclaimed, covering her head with her hooves to prevent it from being ruined.
"Dash! We need to be quiet and avoid making a scene!" Twilight shouted to the multicolored Pegasus. "Discord could be anywhere!"
It had taken them a while but the group had finally left the ruins that Twilight called 'The Ancient Ruins of The Royal Pony Sisters'.
She admitted that it was a bit of a mouthful.
They had even untied Rainbow Dash but only if she Pinkie promised that she wouldn't fight with Copycat anymore.
Dash had taken it very seriously when she mentioned Pinkie promise.
"She really didn't have to do that." Copycat glumly said. "I was having so much fun too."
"Don't worry Copy Printer!" Pinkie bounced up beside her. "We'll have all kinds of fun when we get back to Poniville!"
"Did you just call me 'Copy Printer'?" She realized and tried to ask but Pinkie had already bounced off to talk to somepony else.
Mirror Edge walked up front with Twilight; she knew the way to Poniville from here the most.
"What are we going to do?" He asked suddenly.
"What do you mean?" Twilight turned to him.
"How are you going to defeat Discord now that he destroyed those gems?" They had all seen it happen.
This stopped Twilight. "I... I don't know." She admitted. "But we still need to try and with you two with us I'm sure we can think of something!" She waved a hoof at all of her friends. "Chaos may be strong but the ties of friendship are even stronger."
Copycat applauded. "Very good, were you saving that one for a while?"
Twilight blushed and nodded. "I just needed the right moment to say it."
Mirror looked at the Ponies around him. "So now were all friends now are we?"
Applejack nodded. "Ah can't say that ya'll are forgiven for the ruckus-"
"Fracas!" Pinkie chimed in.
"-that you caused at the wedding but you Changelings are in as much need of help as us Ponies are." Everypony else nodded in agreement.
Mirror and Copycat smiled. These Ponies were actually going to help them.
But suddenly everyone's smiles turned to looks of surprise and fear. Mirror turned around and his expression masked everyone else's.
Beasts from every corner of the Everfree were standing in front of them. Manticores, cockatrices, timberwolves and even a Ursa Minor growled angrily at them.
"This is all wrong." Twilight whispered to Mirror. "These creatures can't even stand the sight of each other. Why are they suddenly together and after us?"
A Timberwolf stepped forward ahead of the mob of monster. It opened its mouth and to the astonishment of everyone,
"Hello Mane six and guests." It said in a recognized voice. "I've missed you all so much."
That's when Mirror Edge realized that all of the animal's eyes were pure white. Just like Fluttershy's.
Not only had Discord found them but he had mind controlled almost every monster in the Everfree forest.
This day was just getting better and better.
"Discord!" Rainbow Dash shouted. "How did you find us?"
"Oh it wasn't hard." Discord spoke through the Timberwolf. His voice came out for lack of a better term, sounding pretty wooden. "I just tracked your little Princesses teleportation spell and followed your steps." The Timberwolf grinned revealing two rows of hideously sharp teeth.
"I'm so sorry that I can't be there myself, Mane Six and guests." He concluded. "I'll be frank; I'm preoccupied at the moment, what with fighting your rulers and all. So I'm just going to have my army of monsters tear all of you into little adorable pieces."
"What?!" Everyone shouted.
"You can't do that!" Pinkie shouted.
"What? Can't? Sorry Pinkie Pie but 'can't' isn't in my dictionary."
The Timberwolf leaned down and growled menacingly. The group was caught in one heck of a bind.
"What do we do?!" Applejack asked.
"There is only one thing to do in a time like this!" Copycat dramatically shouted. Looking around, everyone had pretty much the same thought.
"Ready?" Twilight asked, getting into a fighting stance.
"Ready!" Everyone else replied also getting into a fighting stance.
The creatures around them barred their fangs and claws.
"Even though I'm not there I'm going to enjoy this!" Discord growled.
"Everypony set?" Mirror Edge asked.
"All set!" Rainbow Dash answered, she was up on her hind hooves already throwing punches.
The group suddenly took off in the opposite direction of the monsters.
"Fight! Wait what?!" Rainbow Dash, who was so fired up that she had had an entirely different thought had been accidently left behind. Luckily just as an Ursa Minor was about to squish her with one paw, Copycat buzzed though the air and grabbed her.
"I'm not about to lose my new friend." She triumphantly shouted.
Discord stared at the ground where the group had stood, than he stared at the group of monsters whom were just standing around doing nothing.
He face palmed. "All brawn and no brains huh?"
The group raced through the trees, barrelling over logs and swerving around boulders.
"Where are we going?" Mirror Edge shouted to Twilight as they jumped over a small crevice.
"Not sure." She replied. "But anywhere is better than there!"
Behind them they could hear the monsters gaining on them, their cries sending shivers down the groups collective spines.
"It can't be that bad right?" Pinkie tried to be optimistic. "It can't get any worse, right?"
Just at that second, Mirror could hear something; a whistling noise, almost as it something was flying through the air at...
"Look out!" Mirror cried, pushing himself, Twilight and Pinkie out of the way just as a tree landed where they once stood with a WHOMP.
The three stared at the tree and back to where they had been running from. The Ursa Minor had started picking up trees and throwing them at them.
Twilight glared at Pinkie.
"You had to say 'it couldn't get any worse' didn't you?"
Mirror gasped. "If Discord's not really here, who knows what he's doing to my Queen or the Princesses!"
"Luna? Do you have any six's?" Celestia
"Go graze, sister." Luna replied.
The three rulers sat in the inescapable dome; they were unable to escape after being trapped by Discord so to pass the time, Celestia had pulled out a deck of cards to play with.
"Where did you get these cards?" Chrysalis questioned, looking at the cards with slight disgust.
"That isn't important." Celestia calmly replied, picking two more cards out of the deck.
"...I must apologize as I'm not use to this whole 'hero' thing." Chrysalis laid down her cards and pointed out at the destruction and chaos that was Poniville.
"An insane spirit of chaos and disharmony has been released and is going to quite possibly destroy Equestria and everything else." She pointed at Luna and Celestia. "We, the most powerful beings and rulers of our respective races are captured and helpless." She pointed in the direction of the Everfree forest. "Our only hope is a group of Ponies and two Changelings along for the ride..." She shot up. "And you two are completely alright with this?!"
Luna and Celestia looked at each other for a moment.
"Yes." The both of them replied.
Chrysalis stared at them in complete confusion, mouth agape.
"Well okay then." She concluded, sitting back down and picking up her cards. "Certainly a lot easier then when we were enemies." She muttered.
"And besides," Luna added. "I am sure that the Elements of Harmony as well as your subjects are doing just fine."
"SWEET MERCIFUL CELESTIA!"
"OH MY CHRYSALIS!"
The group wildly raced through the forest, abandoning all use of stealth for blindly barreling through the trees. A short distance away Discord's mind controlled monsters rampaged after them.
"You're making this harder than it needs to be, my little Ponies!" Discord shouted.
"It's no use!" Twilight panted. "We're not going to outrun him."
"Well we can't just give up!" Rarity exclaimed.
"We need to find some way to free all of these monsters from Discord's control!" Applejack offered.
"But how?" Mirror Edge gasped for air. "How are we going to stand up to those mon-AAHH!!"
Mirror's talking was cut short by something appearing in his way and crashing into him, sending him and whatever he had run into careening into a tree.
"Oh, I'm so sorry, are you okay?" The thing he had run into asked sympathetically.
Mirror Edge recognized that voice; he had heard it insulting him.
"Fluttershy?" He questioned, looking down he was indeed looking at the yellow Pegasus.
before he could move, Mirror and Fluttershy were swept up by the other Ponies and were pulled into a massive group hug.
Mirror Edge, unintentional.
"Can't... breathe..." He gurgled but everyone ignored him.
" Everypony! I'm so sorry, Discord attacked me and I tried to tell you but I couldn't and, and..."
"Fluttershy, calm down, you're okay now." Rainbow Dash comforted the Pegasus before she started crying again.
A vicious roar from behind them shook everyone out of the tender moment.
"We won't be okay if we stay here." Copycat claimed.
"W-what's that?" Fluttershy squeaked.
"Discord mind controlled all of the creatures in the Everfree!" Twilight explained.
"And now they're after us!" Applejack added.
"What?!" Fluttershy cried.
"So if we want to continue living, we need to run!" Mirror Edge said.
Fluttershy looked back the way the group had come; at the creatures that were being controlled the same way she had been. Her expression slowly changed from one of fear to determination.
"I have to save them." Fluttershy stepped towards the coming horde.
"WHAT?!" Everyone cried.
"But you'll be eaten!" Rainbow Dash warned.
"Or worse!" Copycat added, looking equally worried as Dash.
"Don't worry I'll be fine, it's all about assertiveness right?" She winked at her friends. Applejack, Dash, Twilight and the two Changelings didn't understand what this meant but Rarity and Pinkie Pie nodded.
"Fluttershy, come on!" Rainbow Dash tried to step forward but was stopped by Pinkie and Rarity.
"Don't, she knows what she's doing." Rarity stated.
No one was about to argue as the monsters appeared through the forest. They were getting very close. Every one ran into the bush behind them, Fluttershy standing firm to the spot. The monsters rushed at the Pegasus; teeth, claws and fangs barred.
Monsters in your way? Make them pay.
Fluttershy took a deep breath and watching the monster get closer, let it out.
"STOP RIGHT THERE!"
Her voice was like the thunder itself, it was like hearing Luna shout all over again. Her voice carried so much force that the monsters skidded to a comical stop in front of her. The Timberwolf/Discord forced his way to the front.
"What's going-oh, it's you." He raged at his minions until he noticed Fluttershy, he adopted his calm composure quickly.
He stared at the normally quiet and shy Pegasus who was staring down his entire army of monsters.
"What? Are you angry? You going to throw a fit-"
"WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?" Fluttershy thundered. "DOING THIS TO ME IS ONE THING BUT DOING IT TO THESE POOR CREATURES?!"
Discord didn't know how to react; this Pony had somehow grown more than a few spines and was standing up to him.
"You're really angry aren't you?" He asked kind of dazed by this confrontation.
"I WAN'T YOU TO RELEASE ALL OF THESE MONSTERS AT ONCE!"
He scoffed. "Or what?"
"YOU DON'T WANT TO BE CONTROLLED!" She shouted at the animals. "I WAS CONTROLLED TOO BUT IT'S WRONG! YOU NEED TO FIGHT IT!"
Discord didn't expect anything to happen but he felt a shudder ripple through his forces, each of them fighting his control.
"Hey, hey stop that!" He commanded, his voice had become distorted from the creatures fighting his hypnosis.
"YOU'RE BETTER THAN THIS! FIGHT HIM FOR ME!"
"STOP THIS! I COMMAND YOU!" He shouted almost as loudly as Fluttershy, his voice sounding almost like static.
Fluttershy reared up on her hind hooves and pulled back a hoof.
"LEAVE MY FRIENDS ALONE!"
The last thing he saw was a yellow hoof heading for his face.
"GAAH!" Discord shuddered; even though his body wasn't actually there he could still feel the punch.
He groaned, rubbing the part of his head where he felt the imaginary pain.
All around Fluttershy the creatures had begun to regained their consciousness, they looked around sleepily like they had waken up from a dream and they noticed Fluttershy; standing triumphantly in front of them. None of the monsters felt like fighting with each other and instead went their separate ways, back into the forest they called home.
Fluttershy stepped towards the Timberwolf on the ground that was horribly disoriented.
"Oh, you poor thing..." She comforted the wooden wolf; it instantly felt a connection to her.
Fluttershy turned to her friends who sat in the bush behind her; their mouths hanging open in awe and shock.
Fluttershy blushed, hanging her head so her hair covered her face.
Celestia's sun hung low on the horizon, creating a dull orange glow that stretched throughout the forest. Twilight and her friends had just realized that they were lost. Being chased through the Everfree by Discord had thrown the group completely off course. Luckily Fluttershy knew the way back.
"So we passed this mountain and that group of trees..." Twilight pointed at a map she had drawn in the dirt, Fluttershy looked at it as well.
"Uh, Fluttershy?" A voice called out behind the two. Fluttershy turned to see Rainbow Dash.
"Yes Rainbow Dash?" She asked politely.
Dash was nervous for some reason. "Not that I'm trying to anger you or anything..." She shook her head trying to form a correct sentence. "But did you really have to bring it along?"
Fluttershy didn't understand. "It?"
"That creature!" She pointed.
Fluttershy looked at the Timberwolf lying beside her. It was the same one that she had punched, after she had comforted it and healed its bruise it hadn't left the group and wouldn't leave her alone.
"It's not my fault he likes me." She gave it an affectionate head rub.
"Uh, we have a problem." Twilight announced. Everyone quickly surrounded Twilight and the map.
"What is it sugercube?" Applejack asked cautiously.
"Well, unfortunately by my calculations we won't reach Ponyville until late at night."
She knew that no one would like what she said next.
"I think we should rest for the night."
"WHAT?!" Everyone shouted.
"Stay here for the night and let Discord do Chrysalis knows what?!" Mirror Edge asked.
"I don't like it any more than any of you do but we have to rest." Twilight explained. "The sun is already low in the sky and we're all exhausted from running from those monsters."
The Timberwolf whimpered at the memory.
"If we keep going then we'll be so tired that we won't stand a chance." She concluded.
Everyone looked at each other, as much as they wanted to dissuade Twilight from this idea there was truth in her words.
"We'll leave right in the morning."
Discord stumbled around; rubbing his head in pain.
"What's wrong Discord?" Celestia smirked, watching him from inside the dome. "Another ice cream headache?"
He glared at her. "I don't know what's happened while I was turned back to stone but these aren't the Ponies I knew."
"They have gotten stronger Discord." Luna explained. "In strength and friendship."
He groaned again. "Gag me with a spoon why don't you?"
He paced the ground, very specifically avoiding eye contact with his captives.
They're in the Everfree forest. He thought. what can you use to get rid of them in their?
He thought and slowly a grin grew on his face. With a snap of his fingers he was gone again.
"Okay, tell me how you did that?" Rainbow Dash asked again.
The group sat around a blazing campfire, Luna's moon was just peeking over the horizon. Pinkie had somehow found a bag of marshmallows and was cooking them with Copycat.
"Did what?" Fluttershy asked, the Timberwolf was curled up behind her away from the fire.
"She means, where did you learn to be so assertive dear." Rarity explained to the confused Pegasus.
"Oh, well you see while you and Twilight were away at that Wonderbolt show there was a self-help seminar." A small smile graced her lips. "I got self-help."
"Clearly." Twilight snorted.
Everyone continued talking; catching up on what had happened and reminiscing about old adventures. For a while everyone just watched the fire; sparks and embers floating off it and disappearing in the night.
Mirror Edge watched it with a sullen expression.
"I'm sorry." He apologized.
"For what?" Applejack asked.
"For everything; the royal wedding, the invasion..." He stared at the fire as if it was the one he was talking to. "If I hadn't come to Ponyville this whole thing probably wouldn't be happening.
"That's true!" Pinkie spoke up, bits of marshmallow stuck to her mane and face. "If you didn't come to Poniville this whole story wouldn't have been written!"
Mirror stared at her but decided not to ask.
"And besides!" She added. "If you didn't come here then Celestia wouldn't have told you about the Flutter Ponies!"
"Flutter Ponies?" Twilight asked.
Copycat looked at Pinkie. "How did you kno- you know what? Never mind."
"Flutter Ponies? How lame can you get? What are they, butterflies?" Dash chuckled. Earning a glare from the two Changelings.
"They're what we used to be." Copycat said quietly.
The Ponies went silent, even Rainbow Dash quieted down.
"What do you mean?" Fluttershy questioned.
The two Changelings looked at each other and nodded, it was time that somepony knew.
They started to explain; what Celestia had told Mirror, what Copycat knew from her ancestor and the reason why everything is why it is now. Slowly the Ponies faces changed from ones of amusement to horror to sympathy.
"...That's the reason why we are now Changelings." Mirror Edge concluded.
Everyponies expression was of mixed amazement and horror.
"I'm... I'm sorry." Rainbow Dash tried to apologize.
"Don't be, it wasn't your fault." Copycat said.
The fire had started to die down. No one wanted to speak.
"We'll help you." Twilight suddenly spoke up.
"What?" Mirror asked in confusion.
"We will help the Changelings become Flutter Ponies again." She concluded. "I'm the student of Princess Celestia, I'm sure I could figure out something."
"We'd help too of course." Rarity added. "In any way we could."
Everypony nodded in agreement, Mirror couldn't believe his ears.
Twilight looked up at the sky; the moon had begun its travel across the night sky. "We should all probably get some rest."
Everyone was too tired to argue, they said their goodnights and prepared for sleep.
Rainbow Dash found a comfortable cloud to lie on, Fluttershy curled up with the Timberwolf, Rarity, Applejack and Twilight fell asleep under a tree and Pinkie Pie and Copycat were sleeping side by side next to the fire, marshmallow still stuck to their faces.
Mirror Edge looked at each of them, one by one, the Ponies that promised to help them.
He couldn't believe it but it was true.
They were his friends.
He laid down near the fire and closed his eyes.
A loud sound stirred him awake; it was a repeating sound.
He slowly managed to opened his eyes and was greeted by a horrifying sight.
Canterlot, the capital of Equestria.
He could smell smoke. The buildings smoked and the banners and trees burned. Not a single Pony in sight.
It all smelled to real too be a dream.
"Sir!" He suddenly heard from behind him. He turned to see a Changeling general buzzing up to him.
"Sir! You've finally awaken!" He said relieved.
"I...I...what?!" Mirror stammered, he was horribly confused.
"Sir, take deep breathes, you were knocked out!"
"WHAT?!" Was all he could say.
"Is he awake?" Suddenly, Queen Chrysalis appeared over the rubble. She seemed relieved that he was okay.
"It's good to see that a magic blast from one of the most powerful being alive couldn't take down the hero of the Changelings." She chuckled. "Well, most powerful being not alive now."
Mirror was hyperventilating, everything looked completely real.
"Chrysalis!" He gasped. "What happened?!"
"The invasion happened, my little larvae." She turned to the commander. "He must have taken a harder hit than I realized."
"Where are we?!" He really wanted to be wrong on this one.
"Canterlot." She answered. "Once the greatest city this side of Staliongrad, now it's a graveyard for its occupants."
"Where are the Princesses? Celestia and Luna?"
She smiled darkly. "They're where they've been since the fight ended; under what's left of Canterlot castle. You took a shot from Celestia herself and you're still standing." She clapped her front hooves together. "Congratulations."
Mirror's breathing was sharp and quick. "The Elements..... Pinkie, Twilight.... Where are they?"
Her chuckling turned to full on evil laughter. "They're right over there." She pointed. "Well, what's left of them."
He took off in the direction she had pointed, not even bothering to say anything. All around him Changeling soldiers dug through the rubble for survivors or dead. When they noticed him they began to cheer.
"MIRROR EDGE! MIRROR EDGE!"
He ignored them, he ignored the tears running down his face, and he tried to ignore everything in the world.
And finally he reached the spot.
"Oh tartarus..." He sobbed.
Even though the bodies were covered by sheets he could still recognize each of them, splatters of bodily fluids and other things Mirror didn't want to think about were everywhere.
He stumbled weakly towards the sheets.
"No...No..." He mumbled, the realization of what happened making him retch. He kneeled in front of one of the sheets; strands of pink hair surrounded it.
Mirror Edge sobbed, tears falling freely from his face.
It couldn't be true... It just can't...
Chrysalis walked up behind him, flanked by the other Changelings still cheering for him.
"MIRROR EDGE! MIRROR EDGE!" The voices mocked him; he swore that they were getting louder by the second.
Chrysalis leaned down to Mirror.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?" She whispered in his ear. "It's everything you wanted, everything you planned."
"MIRROR EDGE! MIRROR EDGE!"
She chuckled evilly, almost hypnotically. "You're a hero."
Mirror Edge, having had enough of everything, spun around, focusing all of his power in his right hoof and brought it up to Chrysalis's face.
A hard cracking noise split the air; all of the Changelings had stopped cheering and starred silently.
Chrysalis staggered and to Mirror's surprise started to flicker in and out of view. Everything around him started to flicker and become transparent, things began to disappear altogether. Chrysalis began to flicker worse and then she disappeared leaving behind...
"Discord!" Mirror shouted.
Discord picked himself off the ground, an annoyed look on his face.
"I've had it up to here with you." He snarked but Mirror couldn't hear him over the rage and bloodlust building inside him.
Mirror roared and charged Discord, not caring for a second that it was a reality warper that he wanted to kill.
But before he could get the chance everything went white.
"Mirror? Mirror!" A voice called to him.
Mirror Edge shot up, he was in the forest surrounded by the Ponies and Copycat. Pinkie was above him trying to wake him up. Everyone had varying looks of concern.
Mirror leaped up and hugged Pinkie. She slowly acknowledged it and hugged him back.
The morning light of Celestia's sun had washed over the Everfree forest but everyone could tell that something was wrong.
The sun had come out very quickly, almost forcefully. It seemed to shake and quiver in the sky.
Discord was getting stronger.
Mirror Edge sat in front of the campfire; the actual fire had died somewhere in the night. He poked the glowing embers, depressed, his friends watching him from afar.
He had told them about his dream, what else could he have done?
Twilight had theorized that Discord had snuck into his dreams to try and control him but he had fought back.
He couldn't believe how real it had felt. It was almost as if it had really happened.
It had almost happened.
But now all of that ends.
He slowly rose and walked over to the group.
"I might not have come to Ponyville with good intentions..." He regarded his friends one by one.
"But that changes today." He held his hole filled hoof out. Slowly everyone acknowledged and put their hoof on top of his, Pinkie was the last to put her hoof up on the stack. Everyone looked at each other; a sense of companionship filled them and gave them hope.
Which was cut short by a gurgling noise.
Heads turned to Pinkie whom the noise seemed to be coming from.
She smiled sheepishly. "Sorry, haven't eaten since yesterday." She bounced up and down. "Can we stop for breakfast?"
Rarity shook her head, clicking her tongue. "Tsk, tsk, Pinkie Pie do you know what's going on? The whole of the world is at stake here and you want to stop for food?"
She nodded earnestly. "Yep."
Rainbow Dash facehoofed. "Pinkie this is serious! Discord is doing Celestia knows what to her and Luna and is probably going to take over Equestria and...and..."
Her voice trailed off as the same gurgling noise that had come from Pinkie was coming from Rainbow Dash's stomach.
Applejack chuckled. "Ah guess you need to have breakfast before you save the world."
"But...but..." Dash tried to reason with them but the growing hunger traveling through the group had turned them.
She groaned. "Fine."
Discord torn at his hair in rage, the one who were destined to defeat him where coming to defeat him, again!
And to make matters worse, he was being mocked by his captives.
And that's just rude.
"You're making some pretty bad decisions!" Chrysalis taunted him. "I mean I made some mistakes but you're taking the wedding cake!"
He groaned loudly.
"You're mocking me aren't you!" he screamed, shaking his fists at the sky. The three rulers watched from afar.
"He's doing it again sister." Luna noticed, laying down her cards.
"He has always done this." Celestia admitted. "I never know who he's yelling at."
"Yes! I am mocking you!" Chrysalis continued taunting him.
"Shut up back their!" He shouted. I have you three trapped and you don't even care!"
Chrysalis shrugged. "We just have a few more cards up our metaphorical sleeves."
Discord turned his back to them and rubbed his temples. He was not going to be turned back into a statue, especially through the power of friendship or gunk like that.
He would destroy Equestria before that happens.
"..." He scratched his chin thoughtfully.
"Come to think of it, that's not a bad idea."
After a hearty breakfast of foraged berries and flowers for the Ponies and a large dosage of emotions for the Changelings the group finally set off for Ponyville with Twilight and Fluttershy leading them.
"Hey Mirror Edge! Copycat!"
The two Changelings turned to Twilight who was staring curiously at them.
"Yes Twilight?" Mirror asked.
"Well I don't know much about Changelings so I was wondering if you could tell me just how you take emotions and turn them into food."
The two nodded. "It's actually quite simple, you see-"
"Oh! Oh! I see Ponyville!" Pinkie suddenly chirped.
Everyone looked ahead to find their home, Ponyville in the distance. Twilight eagerly raced off in the direction of it.
"Hey wait!" Mirror called to her. "Don't you want an answer to your question?"
"Later!" Twilight offered, bounding towards the exit of the forest quickly followed by everyone else, brave looks of determination on each of their faces.
A moment later the group burst through the treeline and were finally greeted with their town.
Which was not in ruins.
Everyone rubbed their eyes in disbelief at the sight of the non-destroyed town but it was real.
Ponyville was perfectly fine, not a single thing was out of place.
Somehow this scared the group even more.
"Um, is anypony seeing what I'm seeing?" Copycat asked, her face the picture of confusion.
"Ponyville with naught a scratch?" Rarity offered, equally confused.
"Oh thank goodness." She let out a sigh full of relief. "I thought I was the only one."
They walked apprehensively though the main street into Ponyville. They could have sworn that it was just a few rocks and splinters the last time they had seen it. The town was deserted though, giving it a ghostly air.
"Where is everypony?" Fluttershy meekly asked, she seemed to be more scared than anyone else.
"Hello!" Pinkie called, her voice echoed off the walls of the empty town and back to them.
"This is all wrong." Applejack stated.
"Yeah." Copycat added anxiously. "What happened to Poniville?"
"What happened to the Princesses?" Rainbow Dash suddenly added. This startled Twilight who was searching the area ahead for clues to the disappearance.
"You're right!" She gasped and raced off down the road.
"Twilight!" Rarity called, concerned. "Where are you going?!"
"I have to find Celestia and Luna!" Her voice grew distant as she ran through the streets searching desperately for her mentor.
Dash looked back at Mirror Edge.
"We have to follow her."
"Of course we do."
Everyone nodded in agreement and took off after their panicking librarian friend.
"Am I the only one who sees something wrong with this?" Copycat, the last to follow asked the air around her but a reply didn't come to the Changeling. She was about to take off after her friends when she felt something wet around her hooves. She looked down and inspected what was splattered on her hooves.
"Paint...?" She looked down and inspected the liquid that was splattered on her hooves. She hadn't stepped in any paint before so this was very strange.
"Copycat! C'mon!" Applejack called, shaking her out of her thoughts. The thoughts about the paint gone, she took off as well.
The group found Twilight leaning against a building in the center of Ponyville, completely exhausted.
"Twilight?" Rarity cautiously approached her. Twilight groaned and slowly turned around her face clouded over with sorrow.
"This doesn't make any sense." She said confusedly. "Everything's fine, not a thing's out of place and the Princesses are nowhere to be found."
"Or Queen Chrysalis." Mirror Edge added as he buzzed down from the rooftops. He had been searching the area from above but his findings were as good as Twilights.
"It's okay." Fluttershy, ever the kind one, tried to cheer them up. "It's not like they could have disappeared into thin air."
"Well actually they could have." Pinkie chirped. "Discord is a big mean reality changer right?" She asked with her usual bounciness but quieted down at the glares that she got.
"Sorry." She muttered.
"This whole town is weird." Rainbow Dash shook her head. "There has to some kind of clue or something!"
"Look!" Rarity pointed at the ground a ways away from the group.
Half covered in the dirt, nearly impossible to see unless you paid attention to details, was the Elements of Harmony.
Well, the necklaces and crown at least. The gems were still dust in the wind.
"The Elements!" Applejack cried, noticing them now that Rarity had pointed them out.
Everyone ran over to the spot where the trinkets were buried. It looked to be the same place they had been when they left.
"They're still here!" Twilight exclaimed with relief.
"But the gems are gone." Copycat noted.
"What are we going to do with them?" Mirror asked quietly, looking over the trinkets.
Twilight stared at the gem-less necklaces and crown, deep in thought. Slowly, the trinkets rose from the dirt, lifted by Twilight's magic and floated over to each of the Element bearers. Twilight lifted her crown up and put it gently onto her head.
"I don't know, but we still need to try."
The others looked at their element necklaces and nodded, putting on theirs as well.
It was not a second after this that a magic dome burst from the ground and trapped the eight.
Fluttershy shrieked at the sudden entrapment. "What's going on?!"
"I think I know." Copycat sighed, looking down at the paint on her hooves.
Suddenly, a laugh the group had heard far too often rang out and Discord appeared in front of them in a flash of light and a finger snap.
"Discord!" Mirror spat.
"Mirror Edge." Discord retorted, sticking his tongue out at him immaturely.
"What have you done to Ponyville!?" Twilight demanded to know.
"Nothing, well, made it better if you look at it from my point of view." He admitted.
"Where are the Princesses?" Rainbow Dash shouted, slamming against the force field trying to break through it.
He chuckled and snapped his fingers. The world around them seemed to grow dark and the winds picked up. The buildings around them began to distort and twist, becoming warped well beyond what normal reality would allow and other parts of the world began to peel away like old paint flaking off revealing the original rubble behind the facade. Pieces of the land burst out of the ground altogether and floated overhead. Even the sun and moon were affected, being pulled together in the center of the sky creating a disturbing twilight.
"Chrysalis!" Mirror proclaimed.
Near them, trapped in the same type of dome that the group was in, were Celestia, Luna, and Mirror Edge's Queen.
"Took you long enough." Chrysalis dryly replied.
"Hello Twilight and friends!" Luna waved to her friends.
"No more talking!" Discord demanded waving them silent. "I've been thinking." He began, walking over to the three trapped rulers and looked at Luna and Celestia. "You two have been two very painful thorns in my side for a very long time." He changed his gaze to the Changeling Queen. "I'm still waiting for an apology for you betraying me."
She hissed at him defiantly.
Discord barely noticed and continued talking. "And as much as I had fun tormenting you two, I'm just not feeling it anymore." He traced an imaginary tear down his cheek. "So I'm just going to restart reality and remake it in my image." He crossed his arms and smiled smugly. "Isn't that brilliant?"
"WHAT?!" Everyone shouted in disbelief.
"You can't do that!" Celestia shouted at the Draconequus.
"Why not?" He chided. "I'm going to get you and the Mane six out of my hair." He pointed at the two Changelings. "Plus those two who aren't even supposed to exist, it's a win-win opportunity!"
"Not supposed to exist?" Mirror Edge questioned.
"Don't listen to him. This isn't a good time to break the fourth wall." Pinkie whispered.
Mirror Edge stared at Pinkie, trying to make sense of what she just said before he figuratively threw up his hooves and shrugged. "Okay, fine."
"And don't worry about missing it." Discord snapped his fingers and an evil looking throne rose from the earth (that wasn't floating through the sky) and sat down. "I'm giving you front row seas to it!"
Everyone watched in horror as the world around them began to disappear; first the outskirts of Poniville, than the outermost buildings. Soon everything was disappearing, turning stark white and fading out of existence.
Discord laughed maniacally, somehow coming into possession of a bag of popcorn. He munched triumphantly. "And there is nothing you little Ponies can do about it!"
"Nothing they can do!" Chrysalis stood up, time to show her trump card. "Now!"
Suddenly, all around them rocks, rubble, trees and other things began to shake and were enveloped in a green flame leaving behind an army of Changelings!
Discord spit out his drink that he also strangely acquired. "What?!"
The soldiers swarmed the domes, ramming into them with all of the force they could muster. Sure enough the shields cracked with every hit and came crashing down shattering like broken glass.
The eight plus the Princesses and Queen Chrysalis gathered in front of Discord.
"I was so worried about you." Twilight gave her mentor an affectionate nuzzle.
"I was worried about you and all of you." Celestia responded.
"While we do enjoy this sentimental moment." Luna noted. "Whilst thou are talking, Discord is eliminating the soldiers!"
She pointed up to Discord who had recovered from his initial shock and was defeating the Changelings in short order. Many of them were knocked out and had begun fading away; others were still conscious and kicking and screaming as they disappeared.
The edge of whiteness was getting closer and closer, erasing everything in its path.
"We need to stop this, now!" Copycat shouted.
"Right!" Twilight agreed. "Come on girls, formation!"
The six quickly stood side by side facing Discord.
Discord sat back in his throne and smirked. "You don't have the power of the Elements. You can't defeat me!"
"We can try." Twilight retorted.
The group began to focus their energy, the necklaces slowly started glowing and the Ponies slowly levitated into the air. It was different from before though, the Ponies were straining with difficulty, trying to call upon the energies that had come so easily before.
"It won't be enough!" Celestia shouted over the growing winds. "They can't focus the energy without the crystals!"
"So we will assist them!"
Luna stepped forward, her horn glowing brightly with concentrated magic. She planter her hooves in the ground and put everything into one blast, she fired at the Mane six. The blast seemed to hang in the air for a moment, held still by the Elements and suddenly broke apart, streams of magic going into each of the Elements making them glow brighter and brighter.
Discord was getting anxious at this development; he squirmed in his seat still believing that his victory was inevitable.
Chrysalis and Celestia charged up their magic as well and shot it at the Mane six, the golden magic and brilliant green magic blending together and separating amongst the Ponies.
The Elements of Harmony were getting stronger by the second, the magic from the three rulers having supplied them with more than enough energy causing the necklaces and crown to glow blindingly white.
Suddenly, small specks in the dirt and in the air began to glow brightly, like little stars. They flashed many different colors; red, yellow, purple. Mirror Edge noted these and stared at them with a growing understanding.
The crystals! He thought. Even though they were crushed they still work.
The specks were glowing as bright as the Elements at this point. Small strips of colors shot out of them, tiny ribbons of color that danced through the air to the Mane six. The ribbons came more and more until the Ponies were surrounded by swirling colors of light.
Mirror Edge smiled. This was going to be awesome.
Unfortunately, Discord had enough of this and flew straight at the six, roaring ferociously. "I wil not be turned to stone again!"
Mirror saw this and looked at his friends; no one else could do anything at the moment, the Mane six was preoccupied at the moment, the Solar Sisters and his Queen were out of power and to his surprise the whiteness had spread over Copycat and she was half erased from existence.
The question hung in the air for a moment before Pinkie finally replied.
"That's what friends do."
"Oh, right, sorry." She giggled, releasing him. Mirror had finally gained enough energy to morph to pony form.
"Now, will you help me with the apples?"
"Sure Mirror, what are friends for?"
He looked at Pinkie Pie, straining under the massive fluctuation of energy.
He knew what to do.
Using his wings to give him even more speed, he put all of his magic energy into a magic ramming shield and charged the Draconequus.
The two collided, Mirror's shield exploding on impact. He attacked the reality warper in any way he could; punching, biting, anything that could slow him down.
It was enough. The Mane six had built up enough energy and released it with a crescendo of light. The ribbons twisted and soared up into the air, fusing together into one giant rainbow of energy.
"NO!" Discord screamed as he saw the rainbow head for him. He tried to get away but the Changeling currently attached to his arm by his teeth had other ideas.
The Rainbow collided with both of them, swirling around them like a tornado.
Discord screamed and thrashed in pain as the energies overtook him, turning his body to stone.
Mirror Edge simply held on, feeling the energy coat him. It didn't feel like anything he had felt before; it was warm and friendly.
He thought about everything that had gotten him here; his original plan, the Ponies, Pinkie Pie teaching him about friendship, the trip back from the Everfree...
He closed his eyes as the colors overtook his senses, he didn't want to see how it ended but welcomed it anyway.
It was a brand new day in Equestria; the birds were singing, the sun shone beautifully in the sky and everything was peaceful.
Mirror Edge smiled to himself. It couldn't have gotten any better.
He stood outside the doors of the royal Pony city of Canterlot, his commander armor shinning in the morning's light. He was flanked by two other commanders, both wearing the same armor as him.
Mirror stared at the massive stone walls surrounding the city, large banners hung from the walls showing the Equestrian symbol, half a moon together with half a sun.
"Sir?" One of the commanders shook him from his thoughts. "We need to hurry, the celebration is about to start."
"Right, of course." He nodded.
He led the two others to the main gate of Canterlot; it was an oriental carved door equally massive to the massive wall that held it. Mirror's soldiers stood at the sentry points, saluting as he approached.
"Commander." One of the guards saluted as he walked up.
"Private Needle hoof." He nodded. "It's good to see that you're no longer a potted plant."
"Yeah, I'm still coughing up daisies." Needle sighed but put on a wild grin. "The city is finally ours sir."
Mirror nodded again. "That's why I'm going in to celebrate, open the doors, I'm late to the party."
"At once sir." He saluted a final time and buzzed off. A minute later the huge doors began to open slowly, the gears and mechanisms inside the gate grinding together creating loud creaking noises.
Somepony should really oil those. Mirror noted as he and his comrades walked through the doors into the main street marketplace.
The streets were filled with Ponies of all types running around trying to finish their tasks, market stalls were overrun by customers and the chatter overlapping all of the Ponies was near unbearable.
Mirror and the other commanders came to a stop at the opening of the street; Mirror stopped for the moment to take in all of the sights and smells that the city had to offer. It didn't take long before somepony noticed him.
It started slowly at first but more and more Ponies began to notice Mirror and quieted down. Soon everypony in the street was staring at him in surprised silence.
Mirror and the two others chuckled. They would never get tired of this reaction.
They marched calmly down the street, the Ponies quietly backing out of the way for them, still shocked by their appearance. As they walked though, a quiet applause was started by one Pony and quickly spread to the others like a wildfire. Soon everypony was pounding their hooves and cheering.
Mirror couldn't help but feel a little embarrassed by all of this recognition but waved appreciatively at the growing masses of Ponies and soldiered onward.
Canterlot castle was in a state of mass celebration; banners, and streamers hung from every available space, courtesy of Pinkie Pie of course. Balloons floated around the town, the light bouncing off of them painting the ground below in different shades of colors.
Mirror had reached the castle just as Princess Celestia had started her speech.
"We are here to once again commemorate the brave Ponies that risked their lives to save us and the world from the threat of Discord."
The gathered citizens cheered at the announcement.
"And now that he has been turned to stone again, he will be sealed inside the royal vaults where nopony can get to him ever again."
As Mirror Edge got closer to the celebration the cheering got louder and louder. Nopony had noticed him yet though. From the back of the crowd he could make out the Princesses and the Elements of Harmony standing on a stage.
"I would like to thank Twilight Sparkle and her friends for saving Equestria from eternal chaos and worse."
The Mane six were given medallions which they gracefully accepted.
Mirror smiled. "Good for them." He whispered.
"Them? What about you?"
Mirror turned to see Copycat standing beside him wearing a hooded cloak, either she had snuck up to him and hadn't said anything or she had been there the whole time.
"They're just about to include us." He explained to her.
True to his words, Celestia had just started speaking again. "There are others I would like to personally thank, for the Elements were not alone in defeating Discord, nor was I and my sister."
Parts of the crowd quieted down in confusion but the Ponies and soldiers that were from Ponyville cheered even louder.
"Mirror Edge and Copycat the Changelings! Please come to the stage."
Parts of the crowd broke into wild cheering while others were wildly confused. Mirror turned to Copycat but found that she was trying to leave.
"Where are you going?" He called to her over the chatter.
"I'm not taking a reward I didn't earn." She shouted back with a smile. "Besides; I'm just here for the food!"
With that, she turned and ran off towards the town. Mirror shook his head in disbelief.
"Well, they still need one of us."
He turned and spread his own wings and took off for the stage, bussing over the crowd.
Well, fluttering he guessed you could say.
He did a loop da loop in the air and landed gracefully on the stage with the force of a feather earning gasps from the crowd.
The crowd stared at him and he could hear them whispering to each other.
"I don't understand!"
"That's a Changeling? But he looks so different!" "It's a long story."
"I think he's kinda cute."
"I really like his mane."
"He is not a Changeling anymore though." Celestia announced. "None of them are Changelings. They are now Flutter Ponies!"
Mirror couldn't see anything.
All around him was inky black nothingness.
He tried to call out for help but nothing came out of his mouth.
He felt himself sinking deeper and deeper into the blackness...
A hard stinging sensation graced Mirror's cheek. He shot up, fully awake now. He was surrounded by the Ponies he called his friends; Pinkie was in front of him, her hoof raised in the air.
"You...you slapped me!" He realized, rubbing his cheek childishly.
Pinkie jumped forward, squeezing him in a hug. "We thought you were turned to stone."
He hugged back. "Or worse?"
Twilight stepped forward. "Do you feel okay?"
"Apart from a stinging sensation in my cheek, I'm fine." He looked around. "What happened to Ponyville? Did we save it?"
Twilight nodded, waving an arm around them; they were in Ponyville again and everything was normal again. No ruins or rubble.
He looked at all of the normal buildings. "Where are the Princesses and Chrysalis?"
Rainbow Dash motioned to behind them. Luna was ordering some royal guards that were carrying the now stone Discord away and Celestia was tending to the wounds of Chry-
"What." He said blankly.
Queen Chrysalis looked absolutely nothing like he remembered; her dark grey hole-filled exoskeleton was gone, leaving behind similarly colored fur, her hair was still the same though the holes were gone, her wings no longer had holes in them either but were butterfly shaped and crystalline. The strangest change to her appearance was that her crooked horn was gone and in its place were two feelers that went up the sides of her head and curled at the top.
Mirror rubbed his eyes.
"Pinkie, I need you to slap me agai-"
Pinkie did as she was told and slapped him even before he finished his sentence.
Mirror shook his head, regaining his senses and looked at his Queen once more, she looked exactly the same.
He couldn't help but snicker at the sight of it. "She looks ridiculous! You'll never catch me looking like that."
The group went silent; a few suddenly became more interesting in things far away from him.
"Pinkie?" He began.
"Uh, well you see there's a funny story about that." She stammered, trying to come up with an excuse.
"Pinkie." He said flatly.
She threw her hooves in the air. "Well come on! On you it looks okay!"
He facehoofed. "I don't believe this. Can sompony get me a mirror?" He insisted.
Rairity stepped forward, materializing a mirror out of magic and floated it up to Mirror Edge. He took it with his own magic and inspected himself.
He wasn't a Changeling anymore, his black exoskeleton was gone and in its place was light grey fur, on his head was a fluffy scarlet red mane complete with feelers and he gave the butterfly wings an experimental flap. His eyes had irises and were a bright blue instead of being pure blue
He looked exactly like his morphed form.
He quickly brought the mirror down to his side to see if it was still there. It wasn't.
In a fit of anger he threw the mirror to the ground, it exploded into magic splinters that dissipated.
"Mirror?" Applejack stepped towards him concerned.
"Oh it's not that bad dear." Rarity comforted him. "It gives you a rather unique look."
"No," He said dejectedly. "My cutie mark, it's gone."
"Um, I don't want to be rude." Fluttershy spoke up. "But that cutie mark wasn't yours."
"It wasn't, yes but it gave me a sense of..." He struggled with his words. "...uniqueness, it gave me a purpose."
"You do not need it."
Queen Chrysalis peered down towards him, her eyes were normal like his now with bright green irises.
"Flutter Ponies don't have cutie marks because we choose to defy our destinies." She sat down in front of him. "And you have certainly chosen your own destiny."
He hung his head in thought, his shoulders slumped in exhaustion.
"What happens now?" He said quietly, almost asking himself.
"I will hold a celebration of Discord's defeat in Canterlot and you three and the other Flutter Ponies will be commemorated for their efforts." Celestia walked up beside Chrysalis. "It won't be easy to explain to everypony and there will be Ponies who will still be angry but I shall work it out as well as Luna."
"I will help as well of course." Chrysalis added.
He couldn't believe his ears. "So that's it? All of this conflict will just be over?"
"Well not exactly." Queen Chrysalis explained. "Like Celestia said; there will be Ponies who still do not trust us and many of my race will need some convincing to stand down."
He raised his head in confusion. "Our race? How many Changelings were turned back?"
"Depends." Princess Luna said, floating in, joining the conversation. "Do you want an estimate or proper numbers?"
"Proper numbers please."
Luna reached into her mane and pulled out an abacus. After a few minutes of moving the beads around in a seemingly nosensical way she stood up.
She wiped her brow. "I have the numbers for how many Changelings were turned back to normal."
"All of them."
Chrysalis shrugged her wings. "It probably spread through our hive-link."
Mirror couldn't come up with a good response to this and instead settled for hanging his jaw open in shock.
"So that's it is it?" He said quietly. "The end of the Changelings."
Everyone was about to comfort him again when he took a deep breath and jumped to his feet.
"I guess it can't be helped." He said, flashing a smile to his friends. "It will take some time getting used to though." He looked himself over, giving his wings another flap sending dust flying around him.
Chrysalis grinned. "You're certainly taking this better than I thought, Commander."
He nodded, lifting himself off the ground with his wings. "I guess I am-wait what?" He froze up in midair, looking at his Queen with confusion. "What did you just say?"
"I said 'commander'." She confirmed, smiling at the Flutter Pony. "Do you expect to sacrifice yourself for not only your race but the entire world?" Her face was full of admiration. "You're a hero, Commander Edge."
This was the last straw to Mirror, with a hard flap of his wings he shot through the air.
"Woohoo!" He cheered, twisting and looping through the sky in excitement. He had become a hero, the Changelings had been freed of their curse and Discord had been defeated again. Nothing could have made this moment horrible.
As if on cue, something came barrelling though the air and slammed into Mirror, sending both of them crashing to the ground.
"Sorry about that." whoever had crashed into him said, rising to their hooves. "My Queen, the forces are okay but they're very confused about all of this."
"Very good Copycat. I will have to explain later though."
"Copycat?" Mirror groggily rose from the ground, regaining his senses he could make out the Changeling in front of him. Well, not a Changeling anymore. Her appearance matched her morphed form just like him; light red fur with a green mane and her irises were still blue. Her wings stretched elegantly and shined in the sunlight.
"Mirror!" She reacted with joy, hopping up and down on the spot, "You're finally awake! Oh man, you missed out on the most amazing light show!" Her smile dropped for a second. "Or maybe you didn't since you were inside the light show."
"...These medals of honor are for the two Changelings that helped change everything." Celestia announced, levitating one of the medals through the air to Mirror Edge. "Unfortunately we are unable to find the other medal earner but let us give a round of applause for our heroes of Equestria, new and old!"
As she concluded, the crowd broke into monstrous applause, cheering for the Elements of Harmony and the heroes of a race long since gone.
Mirror looked around him; his friends standing proudly to the left of him, the Princesses and his Queen were now conversing amongst themselves about where his race would stay and other tribulations, and the cheering crowd in front of him with Copycat waving in the back, her pockets filled with food.
He looked down at the Medal of Honor around his neck and smiled.
He finally became a hero.
Now if only he could come up with a better name than Flutter Ponies.
"And that's how the Flutter Ponies came to be!" Pinkie Pie proudly proclaimed to the group surounding her.
"We know Pinkie, we were there." Mirror Edge sat beside her, roasting a marshmallow.
Pinkie, Mirror and their friends sat around a campfire, it had been only a few weeks after the second Discord disaster and Pinkie was still talking about it as if it were yesterday.
Mirror still hadn't come up with a better name than Flutter Ponies.
"Wow!" The Cutie Mark Crusaders said in union. After the disaster, they had pestered the group to tell them everything that had happened.
"So all this time ya'll were a secret agent?" Applebloom eagerly asked, waving her hooves around mimicking famous secret agent Con Mane.
"Uh, yeah, something like that." He confirmed, rubbing the back of his head, not aware that his marshmallow had caught fire.
"That was one of the best stories ever!" Scootaloo said, clapping her hooves together.
"Yeah but did you have to go so fast through parts of it?" Sweetie Belle questioned the Pink mare. "I liked it but it seemed kind of badly paced."
Everyone stared at the unicorn filly for a minute in silence.
"Well I'm just saying!" She pouted.
"Yeah, I guess it could have been told better." Rainbow Dash remarked. "I would have made it much more awesome."
"I still don't know how you got all of these facts Pinkie." Mirror said while blowing out his horribly burnt marshmallow. "One of these days you'll have to tell me how you know so much."
"Trust me." Twilight stated. "It's a mystery."
Applejack had just finished off a mug of cider made for the occasion and raised it to the air. "Ah would like to propose a toast; to the future, our friendship and whatever crazy adventure we have next!"
"Here, here!" The rest of the group raised their mugs in the toast
Pinkie raised actual toast.
Mirror Edge laughed. "Pinkie Pie! You can't be real."
Mirror Edge the Flutter Pony stood in front of the mirror in Carosel Boutique. He wore a traditional Equestrian gentlecolts tuxedo with special holes cut out for his butterfly wings and his red mane was combed back in a formal manner.
He was doomed.
There was no other way to put it. He was simply doomed.
"I'm doomed." He sighed.
"No you're not dear." Rarity cooed. "You'll be just fine. Won't he, Rainbow Dash?"
The multicolored Pegasus was too busy laughing to the point of tears to answer.
"He looks ridiculous!" She managed to get out between the laughter, embarrassing Mirror Edge.
"Rainbow Dash!" Rarity snapped at the Pegasus. "That is no way to speak to a gentlecolt on his special night!"
That didn't help stop her laughter, in fact it made her laugh even more. "I can't... I cannot believe that she asked him to do this!"
"To be honest I couldn't believe it either." Mirror agreed, running a non-hole-filled-hoof through his mane, accidentally ruffling it up.
"To be fair, I could see it coming a mile away." Rarity said in a falsetto tone. She slicked Mirror's hair back and went back to work on his suit. "And don't worry you'll be fine."
"Hey girls." Twilight Sparkle stepped into the Boutique. "How's it coming?" She stopped when she saw Mirror.
She whistled in admiration. "Looking sharp there Mirror."
"You don't think that it's a bit much?" He pleaded as Rarity added some ruffles to the sleeves.
"I can't really say." Twilight admitted. "I've never been on a date really." She blushed suddenly full of embarrassment. "I mean, I've never had the time and I don't know the first thing about it."
"Join the club." Mirror despaired, jerking as Rarity sewed up a few more invisible holes in his suit.
"Twilight!" Rarity beamed. "If you wanted relationship advice you should have asked!"
Mirror pulled at his collar. "Doesn't this seem a bit unnecessary? This is the first date after all."
"Yes it is that's why you need to look your best." Rarity said, slapping a bow tie on him a little too tightly.
Rainbow Dash, having recovered from her outburst of laughter, sat up and looked Mirror over. "Seriously Rarity, he looks ridiculous."
"Yeah." Mirror confirmed.
Rarity scoffed. "If you didn't want my help, you shouldn't have come."
"I didn't want your help. You came up to me and forced me to come here."
"Well I had to." Rarity insisted. "If I didn't this whole date could be a disaster."
"If you ask me, it's already a disaster." Dash snarked.
"Come on you two, be nice!" Twilight insisted. "This is both their first dates and they're just going for a walk in the park."
"That's what we're doing?"
"It was my idea." Rarity smiled.
"I still can't believe they're going on a date." Dash admitted.
"I can't believe that she had to ask him." She shook her head. "Not very gentlecoltly Mirror."
"Hey this came out of nowhere." Mirror explained. "It's not every day you get asked out on a date by Pinkie Pie."
"Cheers!" They all shouted, banging their cups of cider together. Everone was outside celebrating the opening of Mirror Edge's new home in Ponyville.
It had been months after he had been made Commander of the Queen's forces and there hadn't been much to do as of late. So with permission from Chrysalis herself, Mirror had built a house in Ponyville to stay when there was no world ending dangers to deal with. The house was a simple two story thing, not that big but big enough for Mirror and his guests.
"You girls really didn't need to help me." He stated, downing his drink in one gulp. "I could have made it by myself."
"Of course you could have sugercube." Applejack responded in a sarcastic tone. "We know ya'll need to protect your manly ego and all that."
Everyone else laughed at this while Mirror simply rolled his eyes.
"But I guess I do need help carrying in all of the furniture and stuff." He looked over the pile of things he still needed to move.
His feelers lit up with green magic as he started levitating the pile bit by bit into the house. Other items lit up with purple magic.
"Well that's what friends do right?" Twilight asked, levitating things into the house with him. Everyone else got up to help and was moving things in when...
"Hey Mirror." Pinkie called for his attention.
"One moment Pinkie. Rainbow Dash! Careful with those plates!"
"No promises!" She yelled back, carrying the huge box inside.
"What is it, Pinkie?" Mirror smiled to the pink mare. Over the time he had spent in Ponyville he had come to see her as his best friend.
"Well I was kind of wondering..." She tried to ask. Mirror noticed that she was acting uncharacteristically nervous.
Mirror was suddenly concerned. "Pinkie? What's wrong?"
"Nothing! Nothing!" She jumped back, waving her hooves and putting on a big smile which didn't fool him. "Well... it is something..." She rubbed the back of her head nervously looking away.
"Pinkie, you're my best friend." He stated warmly. "You can tell me whatever you want."
She was silent for a moment before looking at him again. "I was kind of wondering if you might like to maybe..."
"Pinkie." He was getting nervous because of her nervousness. "Come on, tell me."
"Go on a date?"
Mirror's world seemed to freeze for the second time in his life. He was horribly shocked.
"A...a... date?" He stammered. "As in a...DATE date?"
She nodded silently looking away in embarrassment. Mirror didn't know how to react, he never expected this to happen but here he was. He was being asked out by Pinkie.
"Pinkie...I...I..." He tried to speak but couldn't come up with the words. A part of him wanted to refuse her offer but another part of him was screaming at him to ignore the other part.
"Okay." He finally decided.
"What?" Pinkie perked up, looking him in the eyes.
He put on a very brave smile. "I would love to go on a date, really."
Pinkie shot up, grabbing Mirror in a massive hug. "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" She repeated happily, nearly strangling him in her happiness. Just as he thought his organs were going to explode, she dropped him and started bouncing away in a state of joy.
"I'll see you later okay?" She called back.
"Yeah...sure..." He managed, weakly rising to his feet. He could feel his rib cage expanding back to normal so he figured he would be fine. But any way he looked at it; he was still doomed.
"Mirror!" Rarity called from behind him. "All of the things are inside though; Rainbow Dash will have to pay for the broken plates."
"I said I was sorry." She retorted pleadingly. "Isn't that enough?"
The white unicorn walked up to the Flutter Pony and inspected him; he was barely responding to them and was instead staring out in the direction of Pinkie who was bouncing away.
She waved a hoof in front of his face. "Mirror Edge, are you alright?"
"No..." He muttered.
They were not going to believe this.
"Poor thing." Rarity mused while adding the finishing touched to Mirror's suit. "She must have been working up the courage to ask forever."
"I still can't believe that she did." This notion had never crossed Mirror's mind until now.
"I'm surprised that it took this long." Dash said, dangling a piece of string in front of Rarity's annoyed cat. "It's so obvious that you two like each other."
"W-what are you talking about? We don't like each other." He vehemently denied even though his cheeks were beginning to match his mane's color, earning small giggles from the mares.
Dash smirked. "Of course you don't."
"Well I'm all done." Rarity wiped her brow, stepping back to admire her work. "I finally think you're ready."
Behind them, Rarity's clock started to sound off.
"And not a moment too soon." She pushed Mirror towards the door. "Time to go."
He shrugged her off and stepped tentatively into the doorway but stopped and looked back imploringly.
"Have fun!" Twilight waved goodbye. The other two did as well. Mirror simply groaned and walked out the door of the boutique.
The three were still waving as he left out the door and walked past the glass windows.
"We're going to follow him aren't we?" Dash whispered to Rarity when he was out of sight.
Princess Luna's full moon hung low in the sky over Ponyville's park, the stars glittering through the clear night like millions of diamonds. The park had been emptied some time ago and everypony had gone home.
Mirror sat and watched the moon as it began its long journey across the sky, its soft light bouncing off of Mirror's wings causing him to lighten up a small area around him.
"She should be here soon." He muttered to himself, looking towards the entrance to the park, unaware of the three Ponies hiding in the bush behind him.
"Where is she?" Rarity whispered in a harsh tone to the other two Ponies.
"Maybe she forgot." Rainbow Dash shrugged.
"She wouldn't forget this!" Rarity hissed.
"Did she ever actually choose a time for the date?" A camouflaged Twilight asked innocently.
The two were about to answer when they realized that Pinkie hadn't given a time to meet outside of 'later' but that was barely helpful.
"Um, Twilight?" Rarity coughed, searching for a change of subject. "If you don't mind me asking; why are you here?"
Twilight smiled as if she had been waiting for them to ask. She held up a small notebook and pen. "I have studied friendship in large amounts but I've never learned about this 'love' thing." She pointed a hoof out at the Flutter Pony who was sitting in silence staring at the moon. "What better way to study it than with a test subject?"
The two nodded, not knowing what she was talking about but definitely not wanting a long winded explanation.
"Rarity, I don't want to be rude but should we really be spying on them?"
"We're not spying on them!" She denied. "We're just looking to see if the date goes well."
The three and Mirror turned to see Pinkie Pie running towards them, a big smile on her face. She stopped and looked Mirror over.
"Wow Mirror, you look just like a secret agent! Are you going to a costume party?"
He chuckled sheepishly. "No actually, Rarity helped me get ready for our..." He couldn't even say the word. He took a deep breath. "...date and she was a little overzealous to help."
Pinkie giggled. "That's Rarity for you. Let me help."
She reached forward and taking one of his coat tails in her mouth, she gave him a hard yank sending him spinning around the area like a well-dressed top. He spun through the park, accessories and clothes flying in every direction and just as he was getting nauseous he was stopped by Pinkie.
"Their!" She happily announced. "You look a lot better."
Most of his clothes were gone leaving behind a simple dress shirt and the bowtie.
"Don't lose the bowtie!" She insisted as he was attempting to take it off.
She shrugged. "Bowties are cool."
"Of course they are." Mirror didn't want to bother arguing anyway.
After a moment of awkward silence, the two started walking in a general direction.
"You really thought I looked like a secret agent?"
"Yeah!" She bounced beside him. "Just like in all of those Con Mane movies!"
He grinned at a thought. "You know; I was in some of those movies."
The two kept walking and talking, unaware of the commotion that was going on in the bushes behind them.
Rarity was barely stifling a scream of abject horror as all of her work was wasted.
Rainbow Dash was holding her down, preventing Rarity from killing Pinkie and blowing their cover.
And Twilight was quietly concentrating on taking notes. "Bowties...are...cool."
"...so not only was I a secondary character but after the actor playing the villain got in an accident I played him too and nopony was the wiser!"
"That's awesome!" Pinkie applauded. "Wasn't it hard?"
"It was when Princess Celestia showed up and asked for autographs."
The two shared a laugh as they passed the trees in the middle of the park. Mirror had been telling her about his missions when he was still a Changeling while she told him about her adventures with her friends and strangely enough to the both of them, they were having a pretty good time simply talking about past exploits and any other topic
They were still unaware of the Ponies following them.
"So they're just talking?" Twilight asked. "Is that all you do during a date?"
Dash grinned cheekily and was going to answer but was stopped by Rarity.
"Wait." She whispered. "Look."
The two had stopped walking and were looking up at the moon again.
"Do you ever miss it?"
"Being a Changeling."
Mirror's face was contorted in confusion. She noticed this and was about to recall her question when Mirror nodded slowly.
"As strange as it is; yes, well, some of the time."
He tried to put his thoughts into words. "I suppose I miss the morphing, I can't do that anymore which is a shame; not being able to become whatever you want. I don't have a hive link anymore so I can't just call the swarm with my mind." He looked back at his wings; clear as glass and if you looked close enough you could see the web of veins that ran out from the base. "I do miss not looking so ridiculous." He tugged on one of the feelers.
"So you do miss it." Pinkie hung her head, sad that one of the friends she cared about was not happy with himself.
Back in the bushes, Rarity was quietly dabbing at her eyes with a handkercheif she brought along and Twilight was filling out the last of her notebooks pages. "Drama is good for love..." Rainbow Dash, having lost interest, was asleep behind them.
"On the contrary."
Mirror tilted her head up with a hoof so she was facing him.
"It will take time to get used to this form and the fact that everything I have mentioned is gone as well." He shrugged plainly. "But with all of the friends I've made and everything that has happened for my race, I'm pretty happy anyways."
She was silent for a moment, taking in all that he had said. Mirror had become aware of the awkward silence and was about to say something else when Pinkie pulled Mirror into a hug and closed the gap between their faces. She stepped back a moment later, her face a very deep shade of pink.
She had kissed him. It had only been a little peck and only for a second but it had still been on the lips. Mirror stumbled backwards, his center of balance suddenly off-kilter. He was silent as he brought a non-hole-filled hoof to his lips.
"Mirror...?" She asked hesitantly. He didn't reply.
"Oh no." She fretted. "Was that to forward? It was wasn't it? I mean I thought it was the right time and that speech you just made was good and-"
Her rambling was silenced by Mirror who closed the gap once more, to the mare's eternal surprise. They broke apart and looked at each other.
"I...uh..." He mumbled, embarrassed by his own actions.
"I 'uh' you too." She replied, nuzzling him affectionately.
They stayed like that for a few more minutes. Mirror licked his lips in thought. He smiled crookedly.
"You do taste like cotton candy."
They waved to the bushed behind them.
"Was this enough for you and the girls, Rarity?"
"Hi Twilight! Hi Rainbow Dash!"
The bush behind them started to shake violently with sounds of surprise coming from within. Rarity climbed out, her mane and fur ruined by dirt and sticks.
"You knew that we were here all along?!"
"We sure did!" Pinkie chirped, bouncing on the spot.
"Well I didn't at first, Pinkie's still explaining this whole 'fourth wall' thing that she uses to see others and stuff to me."
"He learns so well." She stood up and ruffled his hair, earning another strangled squeak from the white unicorn. "What do you wanna do now?" She asked the Flutter Pony.
"I hear that the bowling alley has laser bowling now."
"Oooooooh! What's that?" She asked, getting excited.
"It's like normal bowling...but with lasers."
"Awesome!" She got down in a racing stance. "Race you to the alley, last one their pays for shoes!"
"you're on!" They shook hooves and Mirror turned to Rarity and Twilight who was emerging from the bush. "Sorry Rarity, Twilight but we still have a date to finish." He turned back and to his surprise, Pinkie was up in the air flying towards the rest of Ponyville on a strange flying machine.
"Oh it's on now!" He shot into the air after the pink pony leaving the three others behind.
Rarity stared at the sky, watching the two fly away into the night.
She ran a hoof through her mane knocking out the twigs and leaves that were stuck to it earlier and sighed, a faint smile on her face.
Twilight came up behind her also watching the two happily soar through the air together. She looked down at her notebook; filled with information that had no scientific explanation. With a small flash of magic she tossed the notebook into the air and shot it with a magic bolt, sending pieces of burning paper raining down around them.
"That's it; I'm going back to learning about friendship."