The Wedding Aftermath

by Queen Sanguine Dreams

First published

Queen Chrysalis' hive has been scattered to the winds, but not all Changelings serve Chrysalis.

The Hive of White Tail Woods.

Haven't heard of it? Then I'm pleased that we've been doing our jobs.

Let us explain; We are in no way, shape (shifted or not) or form related to Chrysalis' plans or actions. We do not siphon love from ponies or creatures otherwise.

We 'harvest' Harmony.

Not the Elements of Harmony themselves, mind you. Simply put, we garner Cooperation, Friendship, Kindness and Altruism.

We don't replace your friends and loved ones, so don't get your 'Mob Supplies'.

However good our intentions, Chrysalis has painted every changeling as a hostile agent to Equestria, and the fate of my struggling Hive and adopted children is in jeopardy.

Does diplomatic immunity apply to foreign agents? I'm new to this 'Politics' thing.

I'm only a Proto-Queen after all.


The first chapter of the Sequel is out!

Cover art by Honey-Juicy!
Search them on Tumblr!

There are a few beginning chapters that are a little crazy to read, but I promise that It will make sense, and fit the story overall. I'm still new to writing, and everypony makes mistakes!

Do you have a question to ask the Queen?

Join the Hivemind!

You're kidding, right?

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How does someling get it in their head that attacking the governing body of a foreign power is a good plan?

Expanding on that idea, how is it a good idea to attempt the murder of somepony that controls the sun?!

Let me back up a bit.

I was sitting in my throne room, managing reports via the link in the hive mind (I might get to that later, don't call me on it) and a very persistent voice caught my attention.

<My Queen, my Queen!> It desperately cried over the voices of the others.

<Feel free to speak if it is so urgent, Gaius.> I replied with level tone. It was my job to keep everyling from freaking out after the massive blast from Canterlot swept over, despite my own sense of unease that I had shielded from affecting the rest of the hive.

<We've recovered foreign changelings, from Brood Chrysalis!>

I remember thinking that it was odd for the Badlands Changelings to be so far from their hive.

<They are bloated with energy, and say they were struck by a large blast of "Guarded Love" from Canterlot.>

That must've been the earthquake from earlier. <Have they mentioned the cause of this?> I replied.

<They have, My Queen. Brood Chrysalis attempted a takeover of the Equestrian Diarchy and Capitol of Equestria. They failed when their entire brood was banished by the guard captain and his wife.> Gaius seemed uneasy as his report neared conclusion. <The Equestrians are tripling their guard, and actively searching for 'Infiltrators' my Queen.>

This was bad news to say the least. Ponies on their own tended to be care-free, trusting to a fault and naïve. Frightened ponies however, were impulsive, hostile and difficult (if not impossible) to reason with. They would see anyling and immediately arrest or assault the first changeling they saw.

<Thank you for informing me privately, Gaius.>

<The Hive endures, My Queen.>


Contrary to what my adopted children will tell you, I am not a Queen. I am a Proto-Queen.

What is the difference, you ask?

A fully matured queen is able to produce twelve to fifteen eggs a day. These eggs, when properly cared for, can hatch after a month. A Proto-Queen however, has no control over the eggs they produce in a given day, and might not produce any until matured.

This is my unfortunate circumstance. I have a hive of nearly a thousand to care for, and no way to replace their number short of a massive growth spurt. The changelings themselves are sterile, as suddenly having hundreds of Queens flying about in a hive would create chaos.

Where is the original queen of the hive? Ask Discord. He took immense pleasure at our expense by turning her into a Moth. He said that, I quote, "A changeling Queen named 'Ra' is just too perfect an opportunity to pass up!" And promptly turned Queen Ra into a moth. Soon after, 'Queen Moth'Ra' as Discord described her, flew out of the hive never to be seen again.

Sometimes I wonder what she's up to.

Why do I bring all of this up in the first place? Well, I was going to try my hoof at Politics. I was unable to replace any losses my hive suffered, and we were rapidly dwindling in population from all our hivemates being imprisoned and starved. I could feel their links fading away with every moment, and couldn't allow them to be snuffed out through apathy.


<My Queen, a suggestion?>

<Of Course, Lanius.>

<Allow Gaius and I to accompany you to the Equestrian Capitol. Your safety should be held above any other in the hive, as we are doomed without you.>

<I appreciate the concern, Lanius. I doubt the benefits of two Hive Guard accompanying me to an 'enemy' capitol however. If they wished to attack us, there would be little we could do to stop them from overpowering us.>

The reply from Lanius took a moment as he privately marshalled his thoughts. <I understand, my Queen.>

I could feel the burden of worry through the hivemind, despite his best efforts to shield me from it. <Do not worry, Lanius. I will return as I am able, and will remain in contact through the Hivemind.

<Of course, my Queen.>


The 'plan' was extremely risky and fairly insane. I'm told that is how changeling Queens usually plan, so I feel pride from that.

I was going to disguise myself to board a train to Canterlot, walk straight to wherever the ruler's throne was, and state my case. Why was this insane? Let me tell you the ways this could go wrong.

I, Foreign ruler of a hidden nation within a nation and, by extension of race, enemy to said nation, was going to infiltrate a hostile foreign populace that I had little experience with. I was going to create a unique persona and navigate my way through society to reach the highest government that controlled the orbits of the sun and moon, and ask them to 'pretty please don't destroy my children and I'.

For comparison, let me paint a scenario. Imagine you are the protector and ruler of millions. All is peaceful and going well. One day, an attack is launched upon your literal home, and your population is nearly enslaved. You are also wounded in the defense of your subjects. Fighting off said force, you enlist your military to persue any of the attackers and thwart their ability to disguise.

To your suprise, one of your loyal soldiers informs you of the capture of a leader of the attacking people. From this point it can be handled several ways.

1. Execute the Leader
2. Imprison the Leader
3. Torture the Leader as revenge
4. Interrogate the Leader
5. Make an Example of the Leader in a public manner, see 1, 3.
6. Use the Leader as ransom.
7. Turn the Leader and their people into a puppet state.
8. Enslave the population of the leader's populace.
9. Kill everything and the Leader last.
10. (This is the crazy one.) Ask what the bleating hay they're doing sneaking around.

My plan relied on reaction 10.


From leaving the hive and donning my disguise, (a sky blue pegasus mare with white mane and purple stripes along the sides,) I ventured to the nearest town. Ponyville.

Seriously? That would be like calling our hive 'Magenta Changeling-Living Area'

Yes, Magenta. Black carapace, Soft purple shell, tail and (In my case) mane, and eyes that glowed magenta. Not every changeling comes from Brood Chrysalis, remember?

My eyes were still magenta, as it provided me some small comfort. I had never attempted infiltration before, as my duty was to the overall workings of the hive. As I walked further away, I could still feel the pleasant hum of thinking from my hive, and despite their concerns of my safety, they held hope for the future.


I had decided to name myself 'Foogle' as the meaning of the word could be held to open interpretation. My 'Cutie Mark' was a half purple and half blue heart with wings on the sides. Also open to interpretation. I didn't really put much thought into it, as my plan was fairly straightforward.

Except when I tried to buy a ticket.

<Hello?> I asked, staring at the pony that was giving me a funny look. <I'd like to go to the capitol?>

Nothing! He just kept staring at me like I was mute. I attempted to get his attention several more times before he replied.

"Ma'am, are you alright?" He finally asked.

<Yes! Fina... Wait. I've been speaking in the Hivemind this entire time, haven't I?>

My reply was a flood of amusement and joy at my expense, the hive having heard my voice above the others by default. Grumbling to myself, I coughed to clear my throat and discovered my voice to be barely audible from disuse.

"I'd like a train to the Capitol." I stated with confidence.

"What's that Ma'am? I can barely hear you." The stallion replied, cupping his ear towards me with a hoof and leaning towards the invisible barrier that held up his station.

I spoke up, shouting my way to normal speaking volume. I'd like a pass to the capitol!" I rasped.

"Ya mean a train ticket? That'll be five bits, Ma'am."

Bits? Bits of what?

<What are bits, and how do I get them?> I asked the hive.

<Currency, my Queen. Small metal disks of a yellowish orange metal called Gold. You will have to either rely on the generosity of others or aquire a job.>

<A job? What is the purpose of this job?>

<You get bits when you put effort into a job. It's a pony thing. They don't like supporting others unless they receive compensation in bits.>

Blinking at the rediculousness of this, I thanked the stallion in the barrier box for his help and made my way into 'Ponyville'.

Seriously, someling could come up with a better name.

Upon entering said town, I was face to face with a very energetic earth pony that was probably the Element of Bodily Harm, Sugar and Pink.

Said pony had let out a suprised gasp, startling a few with their attentions elsewhere, before zipping over to me fast enough to displace air and cause a gust of wind to follow.

"Hi! My name's Pinkie Pie; what's yours? Are you new? Of course you're new, cause I know everypony in Ponyville!" The Pink One cheered, extending a hoof towards me expectantly.

I stood there, in a calm and collected manner, and asked for assistance.

<Help! One of them is extending their hoof towards me and I have no Idea what they want!>

<Shake it!>

Taking the advice, given to me in a moment through the Hivemind, I shook the hoof of The Pink One. I would then be the one to discover through personal experience the difference in weight that changelings of the White Tail Woods had.

We live entirely off of emotions, our bodies converting the laytent magic that radiates from them into nutrients for our bodies. This removes the need for pesky things like Lungs, Intestines, Stomachs, Livers, Kidneys, and all the other nasty things you mammals have. Instead, we have two hearts protected by our chest carapace and shell. The hearts channel magic collected via emotion through the first, is filtered through the horn, and directed to the rest of our bodies via the second heart. Were one to become damaged or destroyed, the other heart would take over, keeping us alive long enough for the other to regenerate.

All of this meant that I weighed far too little to be weighed down by something as petty as gravity when The Pink One shook my hoof in eager response, sending me up into the air in a front flip of spiraling terror. I had barely managed to right myself when I came crashing back down to the ground.

"Woo~oowee! That's a neat trick!"

My reply was to grumble with a mouthful of dirt. Thankfully I didn't have my fangs for this disguise, or i'm certain I would've shattered them.

"You don't talk alot, do you? Oh, I know! Let's introduce you to my friend Fluttershy! She's even quieter than you!"

And before I knew what was happening, I was being carried across the back of the Pink One to the lair of its friend.


Eventually cleaning my mouth and freeing myself from the grasp of Pink Pastry, I trotted along side her as she rambled on and on about things I had never heard of. I tuned her out and absently nodded when she looked my way, but my attentions were focused to the hive.

<Gaius, any updates on the Hive?>

<Yes my Queen. We have retrieved Lucious, Grem and Harnen from captivity. Noling or pony was harmed in the effort, and the guard broke pursuit when we fled into the Everfree. We're making our way to Whitetail now.>

<Excellent work, Gaius. Ensure they are cared for upon your return.>

<So say we all.>

<Lanius?> I called.

<A report, My Queen?>

<Yes Lanius. I am making steady progress with my infiltration, but I'm unable to proceed to their capitol just yet.>

<Very well, My Queen. Whom are you with currently? I sense trace amounts of annoyance from you.>

<Pink Pastry or something. They never stop talking so I can't reply or ask them.>

There was a pause, with a sense of dread coming from the rest of the hive.

<Lanius? What is wrong?>

<My Queen... does this pony have three balloons on their flank?>

Looking around to spot the pony, I snuck a glance at her flank as she kept on talking about parties or baking or something.

<Yes, what of it?>

"We're he~re!" She sing-songed, standing on her hind hooves and pointing towards a wooden structure surrounded by fencing, smaller structures and animals.

<Run my queen!>


I was swiftly grabbed by the Pink One, and carried into the structure against my best efforts to resist.

"Honey, I'm hoooome!" She called out to the living room, several animals seeking shelter.

"Pinkie Pie, we're not a-" A quiet voice replied, before spotting me and nearly dropping the tea tray.

It was a butterscotch colored pegasus mare, light blue eyes with pink mane and tail. She set the tray on the ground for the liquid to settle before setting it down on a nearby table.

"We're totally a couple! A couple of FRIENDS!" The Pink One giggled, setting me down (Tossing) on the couch and ploping herself next to me.

The Shy One and I stared at each other for a while, and I was upset that my tea cup wasn't floating to me before I remembered my pegasus disguise. I was horrible at holding things with my hooves, so I decided to slurp tea from the cup itself.

"Um... Are you okay? Is the cup too hot to hold?" The Shy One asked.

"Nah, she's just not from around here, Aren't ya?" The Pink One gave a conspiratorial wink at me, and I opted to nod in response.

The Shy One accepted this, and continued speaking. "It must be exciting to visit a new place. Where are you from?"


<Yes, my Queen?>

<I need someplace thats far away from here for where I'm from!>

After a pause, made awkward by the stares of the Pink and Shy, I recieved a reply,

<Say you're from Yak-Yakistan.>

"Yak-Yakistan!" I yelled, once again achieving normal speaking volume. The tea cut down on my rasping, which was nice.

"Oh. It must be very warm for you if you're from there. I hear it's always snowing there." The Shy One commented, sipping her tea.

"What kind of parties do they have in Yak-Yakistan?" The Pink cheerfully inquired.

At this point I was firmly doomed. I was going to lie my wings off and get caught in all of the aftermath. No time like the present, I guess. I didn't even know what a party was, so I opted to mentally replace any mention of 'Yak-Yakistan' with 'The Hive'.

"Well, I don't know what a party is, so I guess they'd be the sneaky kind?" My voice whispered.

"WHAT?!" Pink shrieked. "How can they not have parties?!"

"Pinkie, please calm down. You're scaring Angel." The Shy requested politely.

Said 'Angel' was a small white rabbit in a towel robe, standing halfway down the staircase with grumpyness radiating from it. Not wanting to feel anger or upset, I supported Shy.

"Maybe you could give the first party then?"

I don't fully understand the reaction that my suggestion recieved, but I was later told that The Pink One rocketing out of the house through the roof with accompanying smoke trail was 'Very Pinkie'.


I stayed with Fluttershy, as that was her name, and I discussed my need for a trip to the Capitol, which I found was named Canterlot. I asked if she needed help with caring for her animals, but they all seemed to dislike me on some unseen principle.

I'm nice! Don't give me that look. I wouldn't hurt a foal.


Continuing on, I was offered a 'spot on the couch' for the night, and politely agreed. She was steadily becoming a friend, and this was letting me harvest enough magic to begin storing it for my return to the hive.

Queens and Proto-Queens are able to hold a great deal more magic than the 'standard' changelings. Imagine if famine were to strike the hive, and the only way for the hive to continue was relocation. Above anyling else, survival of the queen is paramount. No queen, no hive. Therefor, we are the mobile storehouse of magic for our hive, and the last to starve should the worst happen.

Angel Bunny had taken to watching me closely, a green helmet of some kind with four golden stars in a row sitting on his head, slanted vertically to cover his rear and rest just above his brow. He was exuding suspicion and distrust with hints of anger at my presense, but I couldn't escape his gaze without drawing attention.

Luckily for me, I don't need to sleep as much as he does.

When he finally passed out from exhaustion, I lifted him inside of his helmet like a bowl and rested him on a chair opposite my couch. I also used a clean hoofkerchief as a blanket for him. Seeing the rabbit dealt with, I began to search the house for 'Bits'.

The kitchen was empty, containing meats for the carnivores (I hope), bird seed for birds of course, and various other foods for animals and ponies alike. The bathroom and closet were equally poor, and the couch cushions held a single bit. Deciding the downstairs was only a partial success, I flew silently upstairs so my hooves wouldn't wake anything up. Seeing a chest next to Fluttershy's bed, I noticed that it was unlocked. I lifted the lid a bit too fast, and a loud complaint of strained hinges nearly gave me a hearts attack.

Keeping with my newfound disguise's lungs, I quietly calmed my breathing and spotted several books, one of which being a romance novel, and loose bits. Excited that things were working out, I grabbed four more bits from the chest before almost closing it.

Wait, what If I need to pay for even more things on the way there, or when I get there?

Seeing a saddlebag and a pouch, I pushed the bag aside and wrapped the pouch around my neck like jewelry. Don't worry, I asked what that was when inspecting Fluttershy's dresser.

Bits in hoof and nopony or critter the wiser, I quietly closed the chest and flew silently downstairs. Opening the door, I heard squeaking behind me.

Before I knew what had happened, An angry blur of white fur swung an iron frying pan into my face.


I then promptly flew into a wall and blacked out from the force of the impact.

*****The Next Day*****

I awoke with a very painful ache in my carapace, rubbing my cheek with my hoof and blinking my vision into clarity. I noticed my head was wrapped in bandages, but that wasn't what concerned me.

I had lost my disguise.

Looking around in a panic, I saw many brown and tan cubes sealing me into a closet. I remembered one of my children explaining the difficulty of moving said 'Cardboard boxes' and decided to plea for my freedom.

"Hello?" My double voice called out. It was still faint from disuse, but the buzzing of my wings combined with it cause my voice to vibrate and slightly echo.

I waited for a moment, and called out again after hearing nothing. I was louder this time.


I heard shuffling from the other side of the dreaded cardboard, and braced myself.

"H-hello~OOAAAAAHHH!" Fluttershy screamed, a box falling backwards with her and revealing wonderful daylight.

Yes I was in a closet for a short amount of time, but I still like the sun!

It was only a small hole in the wall, but enough that I could rest my head and look out to see a terrified Fluttershy. I could feel the shock of finding me pulsating off of her, conflicting with the desire to run away and the need to protect her animals. She picked herself up from the floor and peered over a couch at me.

"Are you alright?" I asked loud enough for her to hear, so as to not strain my voice. Despite my efforts, she ducked behind the backrest of the couch before I had spoken half of the first word.

Regaining her composure, she walked towards me while bearing a confused expression, looking to me and the impenetrable cardboard.

"Um..." She started, unsure as what to say. "Are you a changeling?" She finally asked.

I nodded, trying to keep my movements slow and avoid startling her further.

She stood there, blinking a few times at me as if I had done something she couldn't comprehend. After a minute of silence and us staring at the other, she slowly backed away towards the door.

"I'm... going to get Pinkie Pie and my other friends. I'm sure they'd love to meet you!" She said sweetly, but her emotions conveyed terror and a desperate urge to flee, in accompanyment to profound confusion.

"Don't leave me here, please!" I called out. I wasn't going to beg for release just yet, but I also didn't want her forgetting about me and leaving me imprisoned forever in a closet.

<My Queen, you are awake!> I heard Gaius exclaim.

<Yes Gaius. I am alright, and there is no need to worry. I was... struck by a tree branch and tended by my new friends.>

<Yes my Queen. As long as you are well, the Hive shall endure.>

Seeing the matter settled, I waited for Fluttershy to return.


Perhaps an hour later, I heard voices walking up to the house and stopping outside of the door. A soft one that I couldn't make out I assumed to be Fluttershy. I also heard the excited cheering of The Pink One, and a few different ones as well. I felt suspicion, nervousness and anger through the door and became worried.

Maybe I should hide behind the cardboard, so they'll think i've escaped?

Laying down and attempting to shift my form to blend in, my face and horn began to hurt, resisting the transformation until I had recovered more. Deciding there wasn't much chance anyway, I closed my eyes and backed into the darkest part of the closet to hide myself, shutting my eyes to prevent their magenta glow from revealing me.

I heard the door squeak open, accompanied by a gust of wind and a short clip-clopping of hooves on wood.

"Hey Shy, what gives?" I heard a mare's voice ask, slightly raspy.

"I don't see no changeling, Fluttershy." Another mare drawled.

"Um... they must've ran away?" Fluttershy replied.

Do you ever get the feeling that something is watching you? Like it's right next to you and if you do anything it will eat you?

Thats what being found by The Pink One feels like.

"FOUND IT!" Pinkie Pie screamed next to me, causing my eyes to open in shock and my wings to buzz in suprise. My hooves covered my ears in a desperate act of preserving my hearing as I flopped on my side away from The Pink One. She had somehow gotten past the cardboard wall and imprisoned herself with me.

"Oh! They must still be in my closet..." Fluttershy mumbled, using her immense strength to shift several cardboard boxes to the side for her friends to see.

Covering my ears in preperation for another blast of audio from The Pink One, I looked at five mares already staring at me.

One was Fluttershy, near the right corner. Next to her was a Blue pegasus with a rainbow mane and Magenta eyes (One of mine?). To her left was an orange earth pony with a blonde mane and strange headgear. Next was a purple unicorn, a scroll levitated next to her and a scowl on her face upon seeing me. To her left was a regal looking white unicorn, her nose scrunched.

"Hello?" I asked, internally flinching at the possibilitys of how this could play out.

"Why are you here? What do you want? What does Chrysalis want with Fluttershy?" The purple unicorn belted out question after question, growing more frantic and angry with each one. I had no time to answer politely amidst her onslaught, so I was left with no choice but to interrupt her.

"I am not of Chrysalis' Brood!" I yelled, slightly higher than normal speaking volume and worthy of silent praise to myself.

This was not a response she must have been expecting, but her reaction was an increase in anger and distrust. "You're lying! I don't know how you escaped Canterlot, but I'm sure the Princess will know how to deal with you!" She growled, storming off with Fluttershy following after her.

I lowered my hooves and made to stand up, despite the alarm this caused the remaining three. The Pink One didn't seem too bothered for some reason.

"Pinkie Pie, would you git outta there?" The orange mare asked, upset by the antics of her friend. I looked to my side, where she had been, and found her gone. When I looked up again I was suprised to see her with a hoof around the Orange one's withers.

"Sure thing, Applejack!" She chirped, her hoof instead resting with the other on top of the cardboard box she was viewing me from.

Everypony and queen subconciously and collectively decided not to question how she accomplished this feat, and moved on.

Applejack, the orange one, looked to me with curiosity. "So, changelin'. How come you haven--nmmn!! She mumbled, Pinkie's hoof jammed into her mouth before her thought could be completed. She was soon dragged off by Pinkie along with White and Blue into a huddle.

They were too far away for me to listen, but I sensed their confusion and suspicion slowly turning to amusement. A few times during their conversation they peeked out to look at me, looking at them, and giggled.

Being confused, I decided to wait. If it was important they would probably tell me.


<My Queen, are you well?>

<Yes Lanius, I'm... enjoying the company of several friends. How fares the hive?>

My eyes were closed as I focused my efforts to commune with the Hive so far away. As the numbers of our hive were small, the range of our communications were equally short. The more minds linked, the greater the area of influence.

<We have rescued several more brothers and sisters in the night, but have discovered a new kind of Pony. They are called Thestrals, and they bear bat wings with fangs. If you hear somepony loudly talking at night, it is most likely a Thestral.>

This wouldn't complicate things too much, as I was already at the mercy of my capteurs. I would be able to attack them, certainly. But I would gain only war from that action, and I was attempting to save my children.

<Well done, Lanius. Thank you for the information.>

<The Hive Endures, my Queen.>

I opened my eyes to see a pink hoof waving in front of my face.

"Hellooo, changeling lady!"

I looked down to see the Pink One, but my attention was drawn to the Purple unicorn when she cleared her throat.

"I can't believe I'm actually agreeing to this, but we will let you out of this 'impenetrable prison' on one condition." She mandated.

"What is this condition?" I asked with careful tone. I would not agree to anything I deemed out of my means, especially if it was to betray my kind.

The unicorn heavily sighed, before replying in an exhasperated monotone. "If you Pinkie Promise not to Lie or Betray Us, the Elements of Harmony, or Princesses Celestia and Luna, we will release you."

This seemed to be an agreeable condition.

"Very well. I 'Pinkie Promise' to follow those conditions."

I waited a moment after they gave me odd looks.

"What?" I asked, worried I had done something wrong.

"Follow after me!" Pink asked. "Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye!" She recited with some mystical incantation and dance, ending with a hoof in her eye.

I blinked, staring at her. I supposed I should just begin being honest if she had recited the needed words.

"I have two hearts, not one. Will this complicate things?"

She sat on her hind end for a moment, chin being rubbed with a forehoof as she looked accusingly at the ceiling.

"Nope! That just means it'll be twice as bad if you break it! Now you just have to Pinkie Promise!" She happily said.

"I, Proto-Queen Aze of... Yak-Yakistan, Pinkie Promise to neither Lie or betray the Bearers of the Elements of Harmony, nor the Diarchs of Equestria. Cross my hearts and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye."

I lowered my hoof from my eye, and saw several stunned faces.

"What? Did I do something wrong?"

"She actually Pinkie Promised?" The blue one asked in shock, her mouth slightly open.

"Yup..." Applejack replied.

"Did... Was I not supposed to do that?" I asked.


The purple unicorn, Twilight Sparkle I had learned, was confused. "Let me get this straight. You're a changeling?"

"Yes." I replied, having explained my plan in full to the six. They were having trouble believing me, but Pinkie Pie's spell held true.

"But you're not from Chrysalis." She flatly added.


"And you want to go to Canterlot, meet the Princesses, and discuss a peace treaty."


"Because your hive is in Yak-Yakistan?"

"Mmm... No." I hesitated for a moment, feeling tension in the air. "My hive is in the White Tail Woods."

I knew I was taking a huge risk by informing them of this, but everything was riding on the hope I wouldn't be executed on the spot in the first place. Seeing as these six held close ties to the Diarchs, I was planning on their word to help me.

"But during the promise, you said you were from Yak-Yakistan!" Applejack pointed out.

"Well... I've been completely forthright with you since, and Pinkie Pie has harbored no complaint..."

I looked to Pinkie Pie and regretted it. She had aquired a second cannon and aimed it towards my face. I wondered how long until she had a third.

"Why didn't you just send one of your drones?" Rainbow Dash asked, still radiating suspicion.

"Rainbow Dash, I believe I can answer that. She is the... Proto-Queen you said?" I nodded. "The Proto-Queen of her people. I believe she came in person to be taken with complete sincerity. Besides, any drone that the Solar Guard had spotted would be arrested. Being royalty, she had a better chance of success. Isn't that right?" Rarity asked, looking to me after doing a fair job of explaining.

"You are correct, Rarity. Thank you for saving me the trouble of explaining."

"Of course, dear." She replied, sipping tea offered by Fluttershy.

"So how so we all know you won't try to suck the love out of us or somethin' when we ain't lookin'?" Applejack asked, nearly as suspicious as Rainbow Dash was.

"The White Tail Brood does not survive off of love. We have adapted to more readily obtainable sources of food. Compassion, Friendship, Harmonious living and contentment."

Twilight looked to Pinkie, who shrugged. "Really? A changeling Proto-Queen is talking about harmony and friendship?"

"Is that difficult to believe?"

She struck her own forehead with a hoof. "You're kidding, right?"

Dear Princess Celestia, Duck!

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After a few misunderstandings and tense moments, I had convinced the six mares to calm down enough around me to not think that I was a monster. I was still distrusted and thought to be planning something, but the 'Pinkie Promise' discouraged their previous fears. I've asked Twilight, the smart purple one, about the Pink One and recieved no explanation for her abilities. I will have to ask her at some point if our friendship develops further.

Pinkie Pie may terrify me with her unexplainable powers, but she was the first to 'warm up' to me after my promise.

Detailing my desire to save my hive, I was given another limitation if the Six were to help me. I would be barred from changing my shape into anypony else unless requested. Their reasoning is that if I went along with them undisguised, they could deal with the Solar Guard as they appeared. The ponies called them Royal Guard for some reason. They give me odd looks.

Our current goal was insisted upon by Pinkie Pie, as I had never been to a party before. Her determination overruled the objections of her friends by sheer desperation alone, combined with a guilt trip that she later apologised for. As this was to be a suprise party for everypony in town, (the townsfolk had not been told who the party was for), it was my goal to stay out of sight until preperations had completed.

I was currently in Rarity's clothing shop named Carrotsale bow leak or something. She was talking about something I had no interest in but for her amusement I was being used as a 'Mannequin' for her designs.

<Gaius? Report please.>

<Yes my Queen! Harvesters are returning from their missions early, having been found out. Security is getting very tight in the larger cities and we're still picking up Chrysalis' Brood all over the forest. Not many have survived impact, but those that have are starving.>

<We do not have the resources or capacity to care for them. Heal them as you are able and send them towards the Badlands. They most likely won't survive the journey, but Chrysalis' Brood is mostly mindless anyway. She prefers to use her children like a resource, rather than care for them as her children.> I was unable to fully shield the hive from my disgust at that.

<Y-yes my Queen. The Hive shall endure.> Gaius signed off.

"Oh dear, could you move a bit to the left? Thank you!" Rarity cooed, a thin yellow tape of some kind floating next to my leg.

Not having a clue what she was doing, I decided to ask in a less obvious way. "Are you in need of anything from me, Rarity?"

"Oh heavens, no! I should be asking you that for giving me this opportunity." She happily sighed.

"What do you refer to? I've only been standing here and listening to you speak."

"Well, you've allowed me to be the first pony to have a shot at changeling fashion, darling." She waved a dismissive hoof at me, as if shooing my worries away. "Honestly, I'm most interested in those holes of yours."

I looked to my holed hooves as if for the first time. "What do you mean?"

"Well I have no idea what they're for, and I wouldn't want to cover up something important with fabric now would I?"

I had no use for clothing, but perhaps things were different in pony society. I took this moment to ask the Hive while Rarity continued with her yellow strip.

<What is the importance of clothing in Equestria? I am currently being 'dressed'>

<Clothing is seen as an extravagance and sign of wealth. The more clothing you wear, and the higher quality with style it holds, increases your social standing and possibility of meeting ponies in the capitol.>

<So the more clothing I aquire, the higher the chance of success?>

<So say we all.> The infiltrators of the hive replied.

"Darling, are you alright? You seem to space out quite a bit." Rarity was now standing in front of my face with a look of concern.

Realising she hadn't asked what I was doing, I explained it away. "Oh, Its perfectly alright Rarity. I get carried away in dreams of planetary conquest and bloodshed, you know." I did my best to keep a serious face as she turned an even more pale shade of white.

"Yo-bu-we-I" she blustered, her expression switching between confusion and shock.

I snickered, which came out as more of a chittering noise, holding a hoof to my mouth to hold back my amusement.

Realising my antics, she instead narrowed her eyes at me in mild annoyance as I giggled at her reaction.

"I didn't know Proto-Queens were allowed to joke." She grumbled.

"Oh come now, do you honestly think I would do such a thing?"

"That's a bit out of my element, darling." she replied flatly, looking from the corner of her eye at me as she measured."

I stood there for a few moment before realising. "Did... Did you just make a pun out of your position?"

"Whatever do you mean, darling?" She winked, and we both giggled.


This situation continued for a few hours as Rarity had me try on several different outfits she dubbed 'Costumes'. I remember thinking such things were rediculous, as one made me appear to be a spider. Several others came and went before she finally settled on a costume. It was a strangely shaped set of armor, a soft purple-blue in color with a crecent moon in the chestplate. I was told it made me resemble an historical figure from their culture.

Hopefully it wasn't a bad figure.

Pinkie Pie's plan was to hold a costume party, so that I would be able to attend the party without causing a panic. Rarity assured me that I looked 'fetching' and took it as a compliment. The hour of celebration was soon approaching, but one detail had left Rarity upset. Her sister Sweetie Belle was missing.

She had been pacing the floor for several minutes now, and I held sympathy for her position. I was going to have thousands of sons and daughters when I matured, but I hoped I would at least be able to compose myself better than standing idly by.

"Rarity?" I asked softly, not wanting to startle her or increase her stress.

"Yes?" She snapped, clearly upset.

"I could search for your sister while you perform whatever du-"

"No no no! I couldn't ask that of you. You're our guest!" She nervously laughed afterwards, her mane coming frazzled.

I steadily walked over, not used to these 'hoof shoes' and rested a hoof on her side. "Rarity, you need to find your sister and you need help. Let us both go in search of her."

She looked at me with a flash of suspicion before relenting. "Alright, but you don't want to miss Pinkie's party. You promised to never lie, and if you miss her party then she'll take it to mean you lied about coming to it." She warned.

"Thank you for your advice, Rarity." I lowered my hoof to the ground. "Where is Sweetie Belle supposed to be?" I asked.

"She was going to her friend Applebloom's clubhouse with Scootaloo, and they said they would be back by now."

I had a hunch. <Lanius, any border reports?>

<Yes my Queen. Three fillies and a mare were spotted outside of the Everfree during an extended patrol. They are restrained but unharmed. Your will?>

I grumbled to myself, given the implications of this.

<Beacon your location to me, I will arrive shortly.>

<My Queen, your disguise?>

Oh, I had forgotten about that. <Do not worry, Lanius.>

<Yes my Queen. The Hive Endures.>

Rarity was staring at me again. I decided to take hold of the moment and keep my face perfectly still, my hoof slowly and silently leaving the floor and moving towards her muzzle.

With a sudden bolt of movement, my head turned fast enough to startle her in range. Looking down at the last moment, she had no chance to evade my attack.

"Boop." I flatly declared with internal triumph, both at my composure and discipline in achieving the feat.

Rarity was suprised by this, rubbing her muzzle. "What are you really doing when you 'go away' like that?" She asked, unscrunching her muzzle experimentally.

Welp, she asked the right question.

"I am speaking with my children in the Hive Mind."

An eyebrow raised in curiosity as the opposite eye squinted in appraisal. "Hive mind?" She asked, as if those words didnt belong together.

"Yes. It allows me to communicate and sense other changelings of my hive."

She thought for a moment before replying. "Does a hive mind mean that all of your minds are the same one, or that you're a collection of minds acting in concert?"

"The latter. I would not have my children subjected to a mindless existance."

A knock on the door broke our conversation, and Rarity moved to open it as I stayed back. I was too far to hear the conversation, but the emotions I could sense involved worry, anxiety and urgency. Rarity stole a peek back at me before finishing her conversation and politely shutting the door.

"What news?" I asked.

"They say that the creatures in the Everfree are being startled by something, and that ponies keep hearing chittering." She shivered.

"Chittering? Maybe I could have a word with whatever it is."

Rarity looked oddly at me, but I was becoming immune to her strange looks. It was easier to ignore them anyway.


The chittering in question had lead Rarity and I to a secluded area of the Everfree. Calling out, I sought to find the source of the disturbance.

€Hello? I am Proto-Queen Aze. I seek to parley!€ I loudly chittered, oblivious to Rarity's discomfort.

€My Queen?€ a voice replied, and several changelings buzzed down next to me, causing Rarity to shriek in alarm.

"What is this?!" She panicked.

<My Queen, why are you->

<I will explain everything later. For now, have you seen three fillies and a mare in these woods?>

"What's going on?" She continued. We collectively spared a look in her direction in synchronization that caused her to tremble, and resumed speaking.

<We have, my Queen. The mare guiding them seems... different.>

<How so?>

<Her eyes do not always follow the other.>

We heard ruffling of dead leaves and hushed whispers, but nothing revealed hostile intent or emotions, and was ignored.

<I ask that you release them here.>

The changeling seemed upset by this, but reluctantly agreed. <By your will, my Queen.>

He promptly flew off with several others.

As they departed, the rustling of bushes became a concern as Twilight and Rainbow Dash stepped from them.

"See? I told you we couldn't trust her!" Rainbow growled.

Twilight seemed skeptical. "Proto-Queen?"

"You are free to address me as 'Aze', Twilight."

"Aze then. What was all that about?"

"Yeah! Are you abducting ponies?" Rainbow pressed.

"Did you take Sweetie Belle?"

Rainbow growled, "You took her too?!"

This was quickly getting out of hoof. "I've not abducted any of your foals on purpose, nor betrayed your trust. If you wait here, we can resolve this easily." If they don't freak out, that is.

"Yeah right! You've got your goons sneaking around the Everfree Forest!" Dash accused.

"Those 'goons' are my children, Rainbow Dash. They are sneaking because your guards would kill them on sight, and they search for Chrysalis' Brood, not your friends."

"Wait, why are you looking for Chrysalis' 'Brood'?" Twilight asked, her quill and parchment floating nearby. I remember wondering where her servant was, but dismissed the thought.

"Were we to allow them to wander around, they might lead your Solar Guard to our hive by mistake. We try to avoid death if at all possible, unlike her brood."

"What do you mean? The Royal Guard wouldn't hurt anypony, they're protectors!" Twilight replied.

"Anypony. Not anyling."

Our discussion was cut short by the return of my adopted family, a few struggling fillies and a very confused grey mare with a blonde mane and tail.

"Derpy?" Rainbow asked.

"Oh, hey Dash. Do you know where the party's supposed to be? I got turned around." She replied.

"How does the mailmare get lost in her own town?" Twilight muttered.

"Yeah... Its that way, Derpy." Dash replied, pointing towards a large tree in town.

"Thanks!" She cheered, zipping off in a lazy spiral towards Ponyville.

Meanwhile, the three fillys were set on the ground and their resin bindings being torn away.

"Eeeew." One complained.

"Gross." Two pouted.

"I guess we're not Cutie Mark Crusader, Changeling Hunters." Three pouted.

"What?!" Twilight yelped.

"Um, nothing!" Two replied.

"Scootaloo, Applebloom, Sweetie Belle, just go home already." Rainbow tiredly groaned.

The three then promptly scurried off, talking excitedly to another. Twilight, Rarity and Dash then stood opposite of myself and four changelings of my hive.

It was what can only be described as 'Awkwardly Tense'.

<You may continue with your duties now.> I declared, turning to the changelings for the benefit of the ponies.

<You will remain well?>

<Yes. Continue your duty, you're putting forth considerable effort.>

<Thank you my Queen, the hive endures!>

I turned back to the three ponies, one confused, one overwhelmed and the other relieved.

"What just happened?" Dash asked.

"Hive Mind." Rarity and I said at the same time, causing Rainbow and Twilight to jump with alarm.

"Not us." We said as one. We then both looked at each other. "Stop that." We again said. "Seriously, you're freaking them out." Again.

We both stood there, blinking in silent annoyance with the other as a purple glow started somewhere out of my direct vision.

"Boo!" We both shouted.

The purple light was starting to draw my attention, and I looked to Twilight only to be struck by a blast of magic to the chest.


I later found out that I had been struck by an overcharged stun spell that sent me tumbling through the forest and brush of the Everfree. This caused nearby changelings to sense my injury after I was unable to answer them in the Hivemind, and they decended on Ponyville. Since most of the town was in the Library for the party, the stragglers were easily subdued and gathered in the town square. I had been carried via magic to Twilight's treehouse, my costume combined with debris and leaves from the forest and my changeling nature leaving anypony unable to identify what I was even supposed to be.

I later awoke to alarmed voices in the hivemind.

<My Queen, are you alright?>
<Queen, where are you?>
<We will rescue you, my Queen!>

<Quiet, please!> I willed over the hive. <I am bruised, nothing more. It will take more than a single blast of magic to bring me down.>

<The hive endures!>
<So say we all!>

<Now, what has happened in my stead?>

"The changelings are attacking Ponyville!" I heard somepony shriek from downstairs, causing more panic and screaming as the music stopped.

<We've surrounded the Tree, and secured the other ponies of the town.>

<Release them, If the guard show up they will destroy us. Your concern and swift action is greatly appreciated, my changelings, but this is not the right moment for this. You had no way of knowing. Be swift, for the hive endures.>

<So say we all!>

A loud buzzing soon deafened the noise of panic by comparison before it was answered. "Hey look! They're all flying away!" Somepony yelled.

A loud roar of cheering caused my head to ache, but the Tree was filled to the brim with friendship, platonic love and joy. Enough to fill me and repair my injuries. This didn't spare me from the sensation of being watched, and I opened one of my eyes to see Sparkle's servant staring at me, playing with their hands nervously.

Looking unimpressed at him, I took stock of my surroundings. I was laying on several blankets on the floor for padding and my head rested on a pillow. There were books scattered about, and one of my wings was bandaged in addition to my chin, horn, chest and left front leg. Any attempt at movement was painful, as my magics had not healed me fully.

With a few blinks, I finally adressed the servant. "So?"

This seemed to startle him, before he became curious. "So, what?" He asked.

"So, why are you standing next to me?"

"Oh! Um, Twilight said to make sure you weren't faking it."

"Faking what?"

"Your injuries."

I glared at him for a moment, before painfully pointing a hoof at my bandaged wing. "Really?" I then pointed to the rest of my bandages before finishing. "You're kidding, right?"

He sighed, and walked downstairs in search of Twilight, if his yelling was to be believed.


The servant later returned with Purple Smart, (I was having difficulty keeping track of all of their names, and decided to go with simplicity for my own sake.) and they carried alot of parchment with an inkwell and a quill.

An interrogation?

"I have an idea!" She declared, setting her supplies down nearby. "You look really banged up, so you won't be able to travel to Canterlot; but news of all of your changelings attacking Ponyville is going to spread, so the fastest way to cut off a response from the royal guard is if we send Princess Celestia a letter!"

She seemed far too happy about this development, and she was the cause of my 'invasion of ponyville' in the first place. It only lasted ten minues at best, and nopony or ling was even hurt.

At what point is it considered an invasion, officially? First blood?

"Um, Aze?" Twilight brought my focus back to reality, which is a really boring place to be.

"Right, how does one send a letter?" I asked, letting myself roll onto my uninjured side.

Her excitement at my question would cause anything worry for her sanity, but she spent the next ten minutes on an in depth explanation and analysis of letter making to include a brief history of the mail system. Before she could launch into a tirade about her favorite postage stamps, I halted her with my magic closing her mouth.

"Please, I do not know what you seek to gain from this form of torture, but I apologise for whatever I've done to incur your wrath, Purple Smart." I then released her, and rested my head on the pillow.

She was upset at being forcefully silenced, but even more upset at something else. "PURPLE SMART?!" She yelled.

Her servant returned with a lamp shade on his head, peeking up from the staircase. "Who is Purple Smart?" He asked.

"Apparently I'M Purple Smart! She isn't even remembering our names!" She complained.

Her servant laughed at her upset. "I think thats pretty accurate, Twilight. Maybe changeling names are more literal?" He offered.

Smart blinked a few times, visibly mulling over that suggestion before doing the even smarter thing and simply asking me. "Is that true?"

"You are both correct. It is very difficult for me to track all of your names, so I simply call you whatever sticks to my mind. As for changelings, we are named as a summary of our personalities after reaching the age of assistance."

She seemed confused, so I continued. "The age of assistance is when anyling has matured enough to assist the hive."

"So... What do you call my other friends?" She was taking notes the entire time, but I had just noticed. She was also enjoying this now, as I could sense her anusement after taking things less personally.

"I'll just say all of them. You are Purple Smart, your... Thing over there is your servant. (Hey! / Quiet, Spike!) the blue one is Colors, The yellow one is Shy, the Pink One is The Pink One, the fancy one is Fancy, and the last is Orange or Apples."

Smart was having trouble holding back her snickering at my names for her friends, when a knock came to the staircase.

"Hey everypony and queenie!" The Pink One cheered, hopping up the stairs and landing between Smart and I with some kind of yellow food in her hoof.

"Pinkie, what is that?" Smart asked.

"It's a banana! I heard that Celestia likes them and you were gonna send her a letter, so I figured we could send her one!"

This seemed like a good idea. "I approve of this... Pinkie." My memory allowing me to briefly recall her correct name.

Smart was looking at me with a look of some kind, but I had quickly stopped caring about these looks as nothing ever came of them.

"Shall we craft this letter?"

This jarred her from her look giving with excitement. "Oh, of course! This will be the first letter from a changeling Proto-Queen to Princess Celestia ever!" She cheered.

Pinkie held her criticism, seeing her friend happy.

"Very well, let us begin...."


The letter? Oh, I actually have a copy of it here as a keepsake. Let me read it to you. Ahem!

Dear Princess Celestia,


Proto-Queen Aze
White Tail Woods

P.S. I am very sorry about the mess.
P.P.S I will send you a proper letter as soon as we catch Pinkie Pie.


Pinkie Pie had asked Spike if he was able to send Celestia food, and he confirmed this by immolating her banana. This caused Sparkle to freak out and change the subject of my first letter to a warning that was immediately sent after, on the hopes that it would arrive faster than the banana due to less 'mass' of the parchment.

Pinkie Pie was more upset than Purple when she discovered something that alarmed her.

"You don't eat?!"

"We do not have stomachs, Pink One."

"But... But how will you enjoy the cake I made you? Or what about any of the other things I baked?" She was visibly draining color from her body, and this caused me to act.

"Pink One, do not worry. I won't starve so long as you and your friends continue to consider me a friend. Your party had left me fed well enough that when I return to the hive, I will be able to feed everyling for at least two full days." I tried to comfort her with a pat on her side, but my limb was either bandaged or being laid upon.

"But you'll never find out what a cupcake tastes like either!" She continued.

"Wait, how do you blend in to society if you cant eat?" Smart asked.

"Our disguised forms give us the organs needed to infiltrate, but we cannot digest or process your foods. When we leave your company, we regurgitate or incinerate the food to keep up appearances. If we shift our forms while still full, a special pouch stores it away from our hearts. We become sick if forced to ignore stored foods, and usually try to get rid of it when able."

She was busy scribbling and Pink was consumed with some kind of scheme, as I had learned to determine based off her state of activity. Completely still? Run away. Bouncing everywhere? Moderate threat. Hugging you? It's too late.

A cough and sputter of smoke from the 'assistant' of Smart bore Celestia's reply. It was a duck with a letter in its bill. This caused Pinkie to giggle and the rest of us to become confused. Smart opened and read the letter.

"Dear Proto-Queen Aze,

Thank you for the warning. The Banana was delicious. Do you like bananas? I have sent the duck you requested as well. I look forward to receiving your next letter.

Princess Celestia
Solar Diarch of Equestria

P.S. Princess Luna would like to meet you.
P.P.S. I would like to meet you as well."

Smart lowered the letter with confusion and concern, and Pink was in hysterics for some reason.

"I think the poultry is a fitting trade for our banana." I said, examining the protesting duck as it floated around in my magical examination.

Smart struck her face with her own hoof, and groaned.

"I think if you stop striking yourself, you won't feel the pain of the action." I helpfully pointed out.

She grumbled to herself and began writing another letter, which was quickly sent away.


Several letters were sent and received as I befriended the small bird. Pink was busy attending to the guests, and yelled suprise when a random pony walked through the door to avoid questions of who the party was being held for. This worked suprisingly well as the explanation was 'Pinkie being Pinkie.'

Soon, I was told that a letter had come addressed to me. Smart read it aloud.

"Dear Proto-Queen Aze,

I formally invite you to Canterlot with Twilight Sparkle and her friends. She has informed me of your desire for peace, and put forth an interesting case. I look forward to hearing your side of the events that have taken place, and hope we can reach an agreement that will suit the both of us.

Princess Celestia
Solar Diarch of Equestria."

A loud knock on the door and its opening announced a new arrival, though the clanging of plate armor made me nervous as it came up the steps. A white unicorn with ornate armoring and blue hooves stood over me with a stoic gaze, though I could feel hatred and resentment flowing like a river from him upon seeing me.

"Shiny!" Smart cheered, glomping onto him.

"Hey Twily, I have to 'escort' this changeling with you and your friends to Canterlot." He glowered at me before continuing. "Are you ready?"

"Yep!" Smart chirped. "Just let me get my friends!"

I was then lifted from my makeshift bed in a purple glow of magic, hovering helplessly after Smart with 'Shiny' following after me.

Ponies May Be Hazardous To Diplomacy

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The Solar Guard had cleared a path through the party goers. Most expressed surprise and shock upon seeing my injured self floating behind the Element of Magic with the Captain of the Canterlot Guard in tow. I did my best to appear regal, but my pet duck being balanced on my head combined with the mummification of my bandages left me looking fairly rediculous.

What do you mean? Of course I kept the duck!

Yes. His name is Goose.

Anyway,we continued outside of the library tree, to three chariots awaiting passengers. The center one was larger, possibly to accomodate my size. They must have been expecting someling of Chrysalis' stature, but I was only a head taller than the 'regular' ponies. Proto-Queen, not fully grown, you understand.

I was placed in the center chariot with thankful care, and the captain along with Purple took seats next to me. The other chariots held Shy and Pink, the other held Apples and Rarity. (I remembered her name!) Color Dash decided to practice her long distance flying and kept pace with the chariots, trying to chat with the drivers who remained stoic in their task. This upset Color, and she decided to see if she could race to Canterlot and back before we arrived.

The chariots were enchanted to be lightweight, and to prevent accidental falls. This also allowed the three of us to speak, although the captain was unwilling to speak with me. His anger at my presence seemed to confirm this.

Smart, however, continued to discuss everything about changelings with me, but I could only provide information of my own hive.

"What happens if one of your changelings are discovered?" She asked, quill and paper on standby for notes.

"A few things. First they attempt escape, if they are cornered, they attempt misdirection or disguise. If neither are possible and capture or death are imminent, they erupt into an inferno to remove all trace of their existance and to discredit their pursuers. Talk of a strange bug pony bursting into flame and ash does wonders to discredit investigators. The saddest part of this, is that their loss is felt throughout the hive mind. It is only the most drastic of circumstances that would cause a changeling to do this, but I hope to cease its use from occuring ever again."

"With the peace treaty?"


The captain then spoke up. "Why didn't you changelings just go someplace else?"

Smart seemed bothered by this question, but I was not bound by promise to tell him the truth. "You're easier to work with." Was my answer.

"What do you mean by that?" Smart asked.

"Well, infiltrating Non-Equine culture is significantly more difficult. Most are based on personal strength or achievement, and our brood is not gifted in those areas."

"So just what is your 'brood' good at?" The captain asked.

"Many things."

His eyes narrowed at me for another look that probably meant something, but I ignored it. Ponies and their constant expressions. So much easier for someling to just read your mind and get the point across.

Actually, perhaps that is what they're doing? Are they trying to allow me access to their hive mind?

I had to ask.


<Yes, my Queen?> Veritas asked. He was the hive's prominent pony psychologist, and I felt it prudent to ask him.

<Do ponies have their own hive mind?>

<N-no... What would make you ask that, my Queen?>

<Well, sometimes I will do or say something and recieve or witness 'looks' from ponies. Nothing usually happens from them, but they confuse me.>

<Oh! That would be an aspect of mammal body language. They don't communicate through chittering, buzzing or pheromones like we do, my Queen.>

<Hmm. Thank you for your efforts, Veritas.>

<Yes, my Queen.>

I returned my focus to the present, where the captain was whispering to Smart.

"Did I miss something?" I asked.

They both turned their heads with a startled expression before relaxing. "Shining Armor was just asking me what you were doing. Actually, what were you doing?"

"Asking assistance for a problem I had, from the hive mind."

"You called reinforcements?!" The Shiny was alarmed.

"No, I asked for help with social understanding."

His face scrunched up, and I chose that moment to explain. "That; what you're doing right now. I was asking what those things meant. I've recieved them many times yesterday and today."

Another look. "Right... I can see why." Shiny replied.

"Next stop, Pompous and Posturing!" Dash yelled, zipping past our chariots.


We decended to a cordoned off section of what I assumed to be the seat of government. Tall towers of marble and gold with sharp tips and banners of the sun and moon. Many Solar Guard were patrolling the area, and a small ceremony was held for my arrival. They didn't seem too concerned about my state of injury, but I figured that I was an enemy in their eyes, so they would hold no sympathy.

I was pleasantly suprised to be greeted swiftly by the Lunar Diarch, appropriately named as Luna.

"Greetings, Proto-Queen Aze. We are Princess Luna, Diarch of Equestria." She announced with a courtious nod.

"I thank you for greeting me, Princess Luna. I would return with a bow, but my... encounter with the Elements left me worse than I had expected."

"We understand. We too were 'greeted' by the Elements upon our return to Equestria." She leaned down to whisper to me. "Nopony ever tells you that having your soul cleansed by rainbows turns you into a filly, with the taste of spicy food in your mouth for days!" She then addressed the others gathered as I was left confused.


<Yes, my Queen?>

<Spicy food?>

<Oh! Be sure to avoid that if at all possible. Some are so hot that your tongue will burn if you attempt to eat it.>

<Really? Who would be crazy enough to eat something like that?>

<You have to ask?>

I thought of the Pink One, and their habit of drenching cupcakes with 'hot sauce'.

<You're right. Thank you.>

<Yes, my Queen.>

"Pardon?" Princess Luna asked, and I looked up at her from my curled position on a cushion. "Are you well?"

"Yes, I am fine. Just bruised and battered from Twilight and a pet." I grumbled.

Luna gave a look at Twilight, her nervously giggled and tried to hide.

"May we discuss this inside? I feel exposed..." I requested.

"Certainly. You may stay here in the castle until you've fully healed if you wish. It would be unfair of us to negotiate with you under duress."

Well, they're certainly polite. Why would Chrysalis ever attack these ponies?

"Thank you!" I tried to sound cheerful, but the increase in buzzing just alarmed the Elements. Luna didn't seem to mind at least.


The Elements had used this opportunity for a 'mini-vacation' in Canterlot. Some of them stopped by my room to discuss their day. Fluttershy was enjoying the company of the palace's garden animals, Rarity was doing fashion related things, Color was busy 'working out' and trying to 'hang out' with whatever the Thunderbolts were. Probably a different name, but I wasn't interested in what she was doing anyway. The Pink One was planning another surprise and Apples was in their room, being a 'sack of sad' about being away from their farm. Twilight, whose name I hear constantly now, was busy researching in the library and becoming understandably upset about the lack of information on changelings.

We had made certain to remove anybeing who sought to expose us, and burnt their research as well.

Princess Celestia was caught up in something called 'Day Court' which revolved around listening to various ponies complain for the sake of complaining. A particular stallion named 'Blue Blood' seemed furious at my arrival, and insisted on making faces at any sight or mention of me.

Oh well. His problem, not mine.

I took this moment of relative security to sleep. I was in a cushioned bed larger than I was, with the bandages removed as there was no ichor seeping from my injuries. There was tea, but I had no use for it. I dumped out the contents from the balcony to leave the impression that I had enjoyed it, and went to sleep.

I didn't know that somepony would join me, however.


I was back in the hive, my mind rendering the changelings as dark blurs moving about as my magic was more focused on repairing me than maintaining a fanciful dream. It was different than I was used to, as the layout was entirely rediculous.

Floating platforms of hive segments in the air or spinning around; changelings flying upside down and playing with their mouths. It felt like something Discord would do. I had the command of mind to arrange everything as it should be, and went back to 'managing' my imagined hive.

At some point, a new figure entered my throne. Dark and difficult to fully see, I leaned forward for a better look before a blink brought the figure right in front of me.

I tried to make some kind of noise in alarm or fright, but the thing's voice was revealed to be Princess Luna, who shushed me.

"There is no threat here to you, Proto-Queen Aze. We are in the real of dreams. Nothing may harm you."

I blinked a few times, attempting to restart my brain.

"We hold watch over the realm of the night, and those that slumber. We noticed your presense, and sought to investigate. We have never visited the dream of a... of yours, before."

"You can do that?"


"You can simply enter somethings dreams if you will it?"

Luna made a face that shifted color a small amount.

"Yes, we are capable of many things."

"Well, if you're going to visit me in my own head, I may as well be a courtious host." I decided, shifting my memory from the hive to Pinkie Pie's party the night previous.

On a related note, why did I remember her name only now?

"This must be Twilight Sparkle's Library." Luna commented.

"Yes. I was occupied with injuries and questions, so I was unable to join."

An apparition of the Pink One came into being in front of us, seeming far too cheerful for me.

"You two should lighten up! You're both so serious all the time. Its a party!" She then threw blurry confettii and phased through us. "Have fun!" She called, dissapearing.

I looked to Luna, who was again making a face. "Does this happen often?" I asked.

She blinked a few times before excusing herself. Her wording being, 'Excusemeimverysorrybutimustleavenowbye.'

A very long word...


The remainder of my rest was uneventful and very rejuvinating. I later learned that spells had been woven into the fabric of the sheets and bed to increase regeneration and replenish magical energies. You wouldn't think to ask, but moving stellar bodies is very tiring work. I don't blame the Diarchs for upgrading their sleep to the level of healing wounds and back massages. It was slightly uncomfortable though, as carapace and shell don't tend to get muscle cramps. Still, an interesting experience.

I was free of my bandaging and able to stand on my own, but my body still refused to shape shift. Either via the Pink One's magic or my own injuries. For the sake of my continued sanity, I will presume the latter.

<Hastur?> I called to my Ambassadorial changeling. You never call on him three times however. I don't want to discuss the last time that happened.

<Hastu~ur?> I sang into the hivemind.


<Oh good! Would you mind explaining what I'm looking at?> I shifted control of my eyesight to Hastur, and he informed me in his own way how to proceed.

<Thank you sincerely!>


That matter resolved, I wore a silver necklace with an Amethyst gem in the center, hanging at the center of my chest carapace. He had informed me that royals and delegates usually wore some kind of clothing or jewelry to announce their status, but I chose to go with a simple adornment. Looking gaudy or overdressed struck me as rude. After all, were Chrysalis to enter my hive like she owned the place... Well, I would be upset, but there isn't alot I could really do about it.

Hearing a knock at my door, I quickly trotted over to open it with the grip of my magenta colored magic. I opened said door without difficulty, but somepony had put a large rug over the door. I pressed a hoof against it to find that it held firm. Pressing a bit harder to move it out of the way, it did something unexpected.

It grunted.

Blinking my surprise away, my view slowly raised as I backpedalled and witnessed the large form of an annoyed Minotaur. He (You can tell by the horns) was easily three times my height and made entirely out of muscle and supressed battle frenzy. I did the only thing a dignified and self respecting Proto-Queen would do in my situation.

"I'm so sorry; please don't kill me; I've never met a Minotaur before; I have children!" I blurted in blind panic while falling backwards, curling into a ball and shielding my face and closing my eyes.


And then he laughed.


I learned that he was an ambassador from Minos, and had come to visit my quarters to broker agreements between my people and his, based upon the outcome of my negotiations with Celestia.

Personally I was just overwhelmed with relief that he wouldn't squash me.

I was also relieved that he took no offense to my assumption that he would obliterate me on the spot, as he comes from a warrior culture that is known for being aggressive and standoffish for the sake of it. His own journey had lead him to becoming an ambassador because of his fondness for the ability of words to cut deeper than any blade, and the skill required to turn the tide of a negotiation was far more cerebral than mashing enemies with a hammer until they ran away.

I informed him of my own hive's fondness for competition in order to get on his good side. We often hold competitions to see who is able to mimic another changeling's unique disguise. Why is this difficult? Let me explain in full.

When a changeling sees something it must copy, it studies everything about the subject's physical properties with a glance. This is innate to all changelings, however not all copies are perfect. What makes this more difficult, is that a copy does not give the changeling the strength their disguise posesses. This is the same with magical ability or maneuverability in the air. A changeling copying a copy, will cause their innate sense to copy the changeling itself. Thus, copying the copy is as difficult as making your own disguise. Every detail must be exact. The bearer of the original disguise will judge a competitor's, giving them helpful pointers to improve their craft. The winners are the hive, as everyling that participates grows stronger from the instruction and guidance of each other. As I have used the Hive Mind many times already, you can see how useful this is.

I was to meet with the Minotaur ambassador after negotiations with Celestia and Luna had completed. He would introduce himself fully at that time.


Later in the day, I recieved another knock on the door. This time, I slowly opened the door to a crack I could spy from, and saw a wicker basket filled with bananas, and a letter on top. I quickly accepted the gift and locked the door. Setting the fruits aside, I read the letter.

Dear Proto-Queen Aze,

We hope our intrusion into your dreams was not too unsettling. It occurs to us that your privacy would be of importance to you before a negotiation, and we offer our sincerest apologies. Princess Celestia has informed us of your preference for Bananas, and we have seen to it that a full basket be sent to your living area.

We hope you forgive us for our intrusion, and that you enjoy our gift.

Princess Luna
Lunar Diarch of Equestria

Rolling the scroll, I set it to the side and stated at the mass of bananas.


I turned around to find nothing, and searched again in the other direction to find nothing as well.


I looked up, as something moved on my head.

"Goose!" I cheered, slightly startling my pet duck.

Yes, I'm still keeping him. He is my Goose, and you shall not have him.

He fell from my head onto the pile of bananas and began nibbling with his bill on their... Peels! Yes, that is the word.

Taking a banana, I stripped the peel of it and floated it to Goose, who eagerly ate it.

I wonder If I'm supposed to be feeding it bananas...

Despite my lack of duck care knowledge, I sat next to Goose and fed him bananas until he fell over.

"There! You are fed?"

"Quu...ack." It garbled, bits of banana all over it.

"Excellent!" I declared.


The following day, Princess Celestia had cleared her schedule from Day Court in order to negotiate the treaty. I was alone in representing the White Tale Woods, shortened to WTW for convenience. In attendence were several nobles of various houses, Princesses Celestia, Luna and Cadance, and the ambassador from Minos. There was also the Captain of the 'Royal' Guard, Shining Armor. Minos and the nobles to my right, Celestia and Luna at the opposite end and Princess Cadance and the Captain to my left.

The table held various snack foods and parchment, ink wells and quills. Twilight was sitting next to Celestia to record everything said on parchment.

Celestia raised a hoof, and the meeting was called to order. Transcription for your sanity.

First Meeting of the White Tail Woods Hive and Equestria.

Key for simplicity: WTW = White Tail Woods
EQ = Equestria
PC = Princess Celestia
PL = Princess Luna
PQA= Proto-Queen Aze
PMC = Princess Mi Amore Cadenza
SA = Guard Captain Shining Armor
M = Minos
N = Noblemares / Aristoponies

Meeting Start: 8:00 am

PC: I call this meeting to order, that we may begin. I motion for PQA to begin their opening statement.

PQA: Thank you, PC. I am here to clairify and formalise the soverignty of the WTW Hive from Queen Chrysalis. We are in no way, shape or form, affiliated with the actions of Queen Chrysalis or her brood. It is my hope that we will be able to ratify an acceptable peace treaty between our nations. Thank you.

PQA sits.

PC: All in agreement to discuss this proposal, say Aye.

Four ayes, two neighs.

PC: The motion is passed. PQA, what are your terms?

PQA brings out a scroll with prepared terms, copied as follows.

"Peace Treaty

1. Release and return of all White Tail Woods changelings.
2. Agreement upon borders for WTW changeling hive.
3. Informational packets to be distributed, detailing the differences between different Broods of changeling.
4. Cultural exchange program to ease tensions between nations.
5. Recognition of soverign state within Equestrian borders.
6. Immediate withdrawal of all Solar and Lunar guard from WTW.
7. Immediate withdrawal of all WTW changelings from Equestria.
8. Trade agreement of 'food' to WTW Hive, in exchange for construction assistance and defense of WTW from any hostile foreign power.
9. Any pony or changeling acting against this treaty will be declared a hostile actor, and their protections revoked from both WTW and Equestria.
10. All leaders present must Pinkie Promise to uphold the agreed upon conditions of this document as written, effective for three months trial period."

Peace Treaty is read aloud by PC.

N: A moment, PC, PL. What is the significance of a "Pinkie Promise"?

PQA: I would not invoke its power lightly, N. I am serious about its implications in this document.

Snickering from N, SA, PMC.

PQA: Why are you laughing?

PC: Order please. This is no time for jokes.

PC waits for calm before speaking again.

PC: PQA, are you certain of your terms?

M: I have noticed this agreement does not include Minos.

PQA: This is true. The Changeling Hive of WTW recognises the independence of Minos, and would not presume their nation under influence of EQ.

M grunts on an affirmative tone.

PMC: Does this treaty apply to the Crystal Empire?

PQA: A seperate treaty may be arranged at a later date. Our Hive is studying the political climate, and would prefer to see the benefits of this treaty before others are pursued.

SA: What guarentee do we have that no hostile act will befall any nation outside of this treaty?

PQA: The WTW Hive does not engage a practice of making enemies. I will ratify a treaty with your government as soon as possible, SA.

PL: What does the condition of 'food' mean, specifically?

N: We aren't giving you our loved ones, that is certain.

N harrumphs.

PQA: We do not subsist on love. We harvest Friendship, Platonic Love, Kindness and Generosity.

N bah humbugs.

SA: I'm sure you're going to say we should all hold hooves and sing, right?

PQA: Would this increase the likelyhood of friendship and harmony between our nations?

PL: We are becoming sidetracked. All in favor of the treaty as it stands?

Five Yeas, one neigh.

PC: The motion is passed. This meeting will continue in one week.

Gavel bangs, Meeting Adjourned.

Transcription by Twilight Sparkle.

As we filed out of the room, I found the Ambassador from Minos motioning for me to meet him.


"I am called Iron Will. I was pleased how you handled that situation, Proto-Queen. You've a strong backbone to stand up to nations more powerful than you, and you recognized our soverignty. The Griffon Empire is still having difficulty with that."

I gave a slight bow. "Thank you for your review, Ambassador Will."

"Please, Iron Will is acceptable."

"Of course."

"On a related note, have you noticed the hostility of Shining Armor to you?"

"I have. He voted Neigh twice."

"That's because his wedding was the one Chrysalis attacked when she tried to take over Equestria's capitol."

I slowed to a stop, Iron Will turning around to see my haunted expression.

"Oh." Was all I could say to that.


I was once again in my room, Goose passed out on the floor. I had made certain he was still alive after a poke caused him to quack in complaint.

"Goose, what am I going to do with you?"

He gurgled in reply.

A knocking at the door lead me away from my feathered pet, and I opened it to see Princess Cadance.

"May I come in?" She asked with a soft tone.

"Certainly!" I replied with cheer. She walked past me and I closed the door, turning to see her demeanor change to hostility.

"What do you think this is going to achieve?!"

My ears folded back involuntarily, suprise on my face as my wings twitches nervously. "P-pardon?"

"What do you hope to gain by attacking my husband and I, then playing politics like nothing happened?"

I was confused. "Didn't you vote in favor of the treaty?"

She calmed herself before speaking again. "I did. I don't want what happened to Shining and I to happen to anypony else. Even if this is just a sick game you're playing. I can't let my personal feelings get in the way of what is best for the Crystal Empire."

I stood silently for a moment, thinking of the best way to phrase my reply.

"My only wish is for my Hive to survive. War will not help, violence will only lead to our destruction. Why would I risk war with nothing to gain? We survive off of-"

"Yes, Friendship and Harmony. I've heard what you said, but that doesn't mean I believe it."

I sighed in frustration. "Then the only way I can prove it to you is by example. Please, allow me to show you I am sincere."

Cadance composed themself once more before replying, a smirk on their face. "How about with a Pinkie Promise?"

I gulped.

Qween Qwisawiss

View Online

"I wook wedicuwous." I pouted.

"I think you look adorable." Cadence snickered.

I had agreed to one task of any request set by Cadance in exchange for her support from that point on. I had no idea that request would involve me transforming into the nymph version of Queen Chrysalis in a chicken suit.

The cost was almost too much to bear. Almost.

"Why am I dowing dis again?"

"If we're going to convince Shiny that you aren't out to stab him in the back, we need to show him the lengths you're willing to go for peace. Besides, you still look so cute! If the real Chrysalis hadn't mind controlled my husband and kidnapped me, I would have been excited to meet a changeling. You're just precious!"

She continued to babble and make foal noises at me during the rest of the journey to Shining Armor and Cadance's room. My little hooves making the journey agonisingly long.

We finally reached the room, and Cadance knocked before peeking inside. Hushed whispers of excitement and confusion were heard, before Cadance leaned out to usher me inside. Shining was facing the far wall with his eyes closed, a look of confusion on his face. I was positioned some hooves behind him, and soon Cadance gave the signal with supremely over the top melodrama.

"Oh no! It is Queen Chrysalis! Saaave me, Shining Armor!" She wailed.

Shining spun around, looking above me for the imagined Queen.

"Feaw me and dispayer!" I squeaked, yelling dramatically. My chicken suit somewhat detracted from my performance.

"Cadance... What is a Filly Chrysalis doing in our bedroom?" He asked, confused that he had put words together in that order in his lifetime, with complete seriousness. "And why is she dressed like a chicken?"

"I am noh Fiwwy, Shining Awmur! I am a Qween!" I bellowed.

Cadance was barely holding back a storm of laughter, her face turning red as air escaped her puffed cheeks, held in place by both of her hooves as she leaned on their bed.

"Cadance, seriously. What?" Shining was at a loss for words.

"I wiw take ovah aww of Eqwestwia, mwa ha ha!"

Shining was probably broken at this point, so I decided my task was complete and reverted to my natural, Proto-Queen self.

He stood in shock, blinking repeatedly as Cadance burst out in laughter at the sight of Shining not knowing what to do, and my very obvious embarrasment and discomfort with the entire situation. I cautiously moved my hoof to touch him, and he sprang into action, flipping me over him and into a cabinet.

"Shining! No!" Cadance gasped.

"Wh-what?" Shining said in a daze. "What the bucking hay just happened?!"

I saw stars. They were pretty.

"Good grief, Shining! Did you have to throw her so hard?"

"What?!" He was still broken.

"Are you alright, Aze?"

"Did you get the Cutie Mark of the Stallion that ran me over? I think I laid an egg. Stars." I rambled.


They had done their best to ease any injury caused, but I don't think they realised that the ice pack on my head wasn't helping. It was simply cold.

Shining Armor had come out of his shock when I tapped him, and reflexively treated me as a threat before his brain could catch up with what was going on. Cadance continuously apologised for the entire thing, but I did my best to wave off her concerns. I'd had more punishment from Sprinkle anyway.

"So, do either of you want to tell me what all of that was about?" Shining asked, once more in control of himself.

"Well..." Cadance began, looking to me with a look of somekind.

"I have no idea what those looks mean, Cadance."

"Oh! Right. I forgot that, sorry."

"Cadance? Not 'Princess Cadance'? Since when are you two on a first name basis?"

"I only have the one name, actually."

"You know what I meant." He grumbled.

"Actually, she's been fairly consistent with her... unique lack of knowledge. No offense!"

"What offense?"

"Cadance, can we focus please?"

"Right! So, I followed Aze back to her quarters after the meeting to speak with her."

"Mildly put."

"Shush, you!"


"Yes, so, I wanted to know what she was planning, because I was certain this was just another way for Chrysalis to make a move on Equestria after the wedding. Aze suprised me when she offered to prove her commitment, so I made her Pinkie Promise to help me in exchange for my support onwards."

"A Pinkie Promise? Seriously?"

She nodded. "Yep! It turns out that Aze is convinced that breaking a Pinkie Promise would be the worst possible thing to occur, ever."

Shining looked at me with what I was beginning to correlate with 'Intense disbelief and skepticism.' "Right..."

"It's true! You can explain if you want, Aze." Cadance offered.

"You know that my hive survives through Harmony, Friendship, Generosity and Kindness, correct?"

"However much I don't believe you, yes."

"I was explained to me by The Pink One that were I to break a Pinkie Promise, I would lose the being that I had promised to as a friend forever."

"FOREVERRR!" the Pink One added, sinking into a chest filled with clothing and shutting with a click.


Shining and Cadance seemed very alarmed by The Pink's sudden appearance, but my throat clearing cough (That I dont actually need to do, as I have no lungs with which to cough) brought their attention back to me.

"The Pink One is always watching those that promise in her name. So were I to break my promise to her, I would also lose her friends as my friends, the Diarchs, and by extension, all of Equestria. This would cause my children to starve and possibly our entire hive to die out. So yes, I take any Pinkie Promise as a matter of life and death, because for me, it is."

"Wait, what promise did you make to Pinkie Pie?" Cadance asked.

"Something along the lines of 'I will never betray or lie to the Bearers of the Elements of Harmony or the Diarchs of Equestria.'"

"Have you?" Shining asked. "Lied, I mean?"

"I'm absolutely certain that I would have been informed by The Pink One if I had. Her arsenal of personal artillery is quite portable and expansive."


"Party Cannons, Shiny."

"Do I want to know?"


"Alright," Shining now adressed me. "If Cadance is willing to give you a chance, then I will too. She has more right than anypony to be upset with changelings, and I trust her judgement. That doesn't mean we're friends, but I'm giving you benefit of doubt."

I nodded in appreciation. "Thank you for the opportunity, Shining.

"Now... About what you said when Shining flipped you..." Cadance cautiously began.

"What did I say?"

"You mentioned that it felt like you laid an egg? Well... You did."

I blinked, and was about to reply before I was cut off.

"No, I'm not kidding."


"I sincerely hope that bodily harm is not what is required for me to lay eggs." I grumbled.

I had infact laid my first egg. It was Cadance's theory that having me go along with her 'prank' was what allowed a friendship to begin between us, and being her position as the Alicorn Princess of Love, her field of magic was great enough that the joy I gave her sped up my growth cycle enough to begin laying eggs.

"Hey, if you ever need to lay an egg, let me know. I could use the workout." Shining chuckled, before getting tapped on the head by Cadance's hoof.

"Shining, be nice. She just gave birth... Sort of."

"We don't give birth, thats a Mammalian thing." I pointed out.

"Oh, right." She looked at my first egg, which I held between my forehooves with Goose sitting on top. We had returned to my quarters after they ensured my good health.

"What are you gonna name it?" Cadance asked.

"We do not name our Nymphs until the age of assistance. By then, their personality is developed enough to be summarised with an appropriate name."

"What does your name mean, then?"

"Aze: Innocent but guarded, extremely protective of friends and family, dedicated to the well being of all, sometimes clueless in social situations and peaceful at heart. Queen Ra made it up when she couldn't think of an accurate name. She derived it from Chittitchtc, which means Burning Passion in Chitter."

"You chitter?"

€Yes, Our language has both a mental and physical aspect to it.€

Both Cadance and Shining gave me a look of 'Uncertain Worry' as I've associated it with. Mammals and their body language.

They asked me what I had said, and I repeated it in Equine.

"So wait, all of that is neat and everything, but what about your egg?" Shining asked.

I had been feeding it a steady stream of magic, and it was now beginning to emit a magenta glow.

"I will have to return to my hive in order to place it in the nursery with the caretakers. It should only take a day, and we still have another six until the next meeting."

Cadance leaned over and whispered into Shining's ear. He seemed suprised and whispered back to Cadance, and this patteren continued long enough for me to contact the hive.

<Caretaker Gaia?>

<Yes, my Queen?> She was radiating excitement.

<I will be returning to the hive soon. I've laid my first egg and something tells me more are coming soon.>

<This is wonderful news, my Queen! We will prepare for your arrival imnediately!>

<Thank you Gaia.>

<The Hive rejoices!>

I returned my attention to the ponies in front of me, who were staring at me.

"Aze? Are you alright?" Cadance asked with worry.

I sighed and rested my head on my egg. "Yes, I'm fine. Why does everypony always ask me that? It gets tiring after the tenth time."

"Well your eyes dimmed and you didn't reply..."

"I was speaking with the hive. I informed them of my impending arrival so they would have time to prepare."

I felt something shift in my body suddenly, and my midsection started to bloat.

"Well, that confirms it. I'm able to lay eggs now, and I have a full year of uncontrollably doing so. Wonderous."

"You don't seem very happy about it." Shining noted.

"That's because I still have a peace treaty to work out, and I cant excuse myself in the middle of it to lay more eggs. It would cause the meetings to drag on forever, and my children would starve."

"Well then we'll just have to help you with it every step of the way, right Shiny?" Cadance said, using her facial expressions to somehow influence her husband until he relented.

"That should be illegal." He grumbled. "Fine, but I want to go with you and see your hive for myself."

This suprised me, as my ears folded back. "You want to explore our hive?"

He nodded, and Cadance smiled with glee.

"We do not allow ponies to discover the location of our hive... But as 'Queen' I will make an exception in your case. I would ask that you follow me at all times, as you would need a connection to the hive mind to even navigate. If you get lost, ask one of my children to direct you to me. I will explain to the hive before we arrive so they are not alarmed."


We had retrieved a chariot to fly Shining, Goose, the egg and myself back to the hive. I was going to have them land at the borders of the forest to keep our location hidden. Goose was sitting on my head, using my left ear as a pillow. The egg was on top of a cushion used to hold dragon eggs in transit, and Shining had taken to directing the Chariot itself. He mostly just took in the scenery, but I was busy arranging plans and trying not to lay any more eggs.

<Gaius, Lanius?>

<Yes, our Queen?>

<I am bringing a guest with me to the hive.>


< I realise the perils of my decision, but this is a crutial component of my negotiations with Equestria and the Crystal Empire. We will need their full support if we are to convince either government to agree with us.>

<Do you wish any restrictions on their movement, or a guard detail to watch them?> Gaius asked.

<Have at least one guard that knows the hive well act as his guide. He is an acting ambassador to the Crystal Empire, as well as the coordinator for the Diarch's personal guard. No harm is to come to this Unicorn.>

<Of course, my Queen.>

<How will you be arriving?> Lanius asked.

<We will arrive on the north eastern side of the White Tail Woods, via chariot. You may meet us there.>

<Yes, my Queen.>

<Caretaker Gaia?>

<My Queen!>

<I feel more eggs wanting to be laid. I may have to stay in the Nursery for awhile, and I am bringing a guest.>

<O-of course! We will be sure to protect your eggs with our lives!>

<Gaia, I simply ask that you keep him informed of your station and its purpose. I won't be able to entertain his curiosity the entire time, so that will fall to you.>

<Yes, my Queen!>

Blinking, I returned to the chariot.

"It's gonna take awhile for me to get used to that. You look dead whenever you go away." Shining commented, slightly disturbed.

"I was arranging the hive for our arrival." Looking past Shining and out to the ground, I called for the chariot to land just outside the treeline.

"We will have to travel by hoof from here. I may trust you enough to show you our hive, but I do not trust your warriors." I motioned with my head to the drivers of the chariot. Two armored pegasus of the Solar Guard.

"Are you taking your egg with you?"

I lifted the egg and cushion with my magic, as Goose tried to hold on by wrapping his wings around the base of my horn. "Yes. Follow me, Shining. I have family to introduce you to!"


Shining was hiding his nervousness well, but he wasn't able to stop feeling the emotion. His face was determined and blank but I could feel his jitters, and his paranoia of an ambush.

"Shining." I said abruptly, startling him. "Your vigilance is respectable, but you travel with a friend."

"I know, but something else is making me worried."


"You seem different than you were in the castle. More... collected and commanding."

"I am the 'Queen' of my hive, Shining Armor. I hope you understand the importance of appearing calm and collected at all times in a position of leadership?"

"Oh, well that makes sense."

"It is even more crutial for my part. I must shield the hive from my worries or doubts, as they will travel through the Hivemind and affect my children. I must remain strong and immovable, or they will panic. Some of them have never left the hive, and to see me without full control would cause their world view to crash down around them."

<My Queen, we have located you. Please inform the Ambassador of our arrival so he doesn't attempt to hurl magic in panic.>

<Thank you, Gaius.>

Shining was looking at me, as the communication had caused me to stop. "Anything?"

"Gaius will be arriving soon. He sought to inform me before you had a chance to be caught off guard."


Rustling of leaves combined with chittering revealed Gaius and several Hive Guard in a half circle formation in front of Shining and myself.

€My Queen.€ Gaius bowed.

"Gaius, It is rude to speak a language our guest cannot understand, and you know that you don't have to bow to me as well."

Gaius stumbled a bit in his haste to stand too swiftly. "Y-yes my Queen. Of course."

I felt amusement from Shining, but he hid it well.

"Gaius, I must travel to the nursery. Please escort my guest in a tour of the hive."

He nodded. "Yes, my Queen."

"Wait, you're not doing this yourself?" Shining asked, caught off guard.

"I have eggs to lay, and they've been demanding release since Canterlot. I must have at least five waiting in a queue by now." I finished with a wince of pain. They were pressing against the food container between my flank and my hearts. "I will join you when I am able."

He nodded, and followed Gaius into the hive as I quickly flew past them towards the nursery.


"NOLING TOLD ME IT WOULD FEEL THIS STRANGE!" I screamed, the fourteenth egg in a row sliding free of me.

"My Queen, please! It is almost over, and then you may rest!"



Shining could hear the screams of Queen Aze echoing through the hive, and felt sympathy for her. He noticed that the other changelings flew into walls or became dizzy from time to time, usually in time with Aze's screams of frustration or pain.

'I'm really glad I don't have to deal with any of that.' Shining thought, as he was lead into a new chamber with higher pitched buzzing and chittering.

"Pony!" He heard a voice call, and he turned in horror to see a small wave of tiny changelings scrambling toward him, pointy teeth and fangs visible with glee.

"Aaah!" He yelped in fright as he was dog piled by nymphs.


"Aaaand... Twenty!" Gaia announced as I slumped in exhaustion into the pool.

It was bright purple in coloration, a liquid distillment of the magics needed to sustain our minds and bodies, and perfect for the eggs to incubate.

"I think... I'm just going to lay here." I tiredly mumbled.

"Certainly, my Queen. You need to regain your strength for the next batch!" She chirped,

"The what?" I asked with dread in my voice.

"Your next clutch of eggs, my Queen!"

She was far too cheery about my discomfort.


Gaia has informed me that due to my delayed growth, the eggs that I was supposed to have been laying have all chosen this moment to be laid. Several hours later, the Incubation Pool was filled with fifty new eggs. I had screamed every horrible thing in existance in order to make it stop, but to no avail. Gaia must have been the Element of Patience, because she encouraged and soothed me as much as possible through the whole ordeal. On her insistance, I was instructed to ask for accomodations for a second caretaker to care for any eggs laid in Canterlot.

Shining had enjoyed his tour of the hive, after being swarmed by growing nymphs. I hope his review of my hive will allow for a better reception as the treaty itself is discussed.

Shining Armor had taken leave of the hive shortly after I finished laying eggs. He took with him a written request to 'Hive-ify' my quarters, in order for me to remain at the negotiations.

"My Queen?" Gaia called.

I was soaking in the pool, surrounded with my unhatched children. "Yes, Gaia?"

"Your next laying should be anywhere from three hours to sixteen hours from now."

I wilted at the thought of that. "And... after that?"

"Your body should begin to make a habit of when you lay your clutches of eggs."

"Well, something that I can plan around at least.

"Exactly, my Queen."

I motioned the eggs. "And these will hatch a month from today?"

"Yes. Dependent on the magic you incubate them with, it will determine their role."

"What do you mean?"

"High concentrations will be more protective, lower will be more suited to hive work. Other factors can determine their traits as well, but you will have to research alchemy on your own, with the... removal... of Queen Ra."

"Alchemy..." I looked to Gaia. "This is something all Queens know?"

"Each Queen teaches their offspring before they set out to make their own hive."

"So I have to invent alchemy because noling is here to teach me?"

"Eh... yes, my Queen."

"Wonderful." I grumbled, sinking my muzzle below the fluids.


Dear Princess Celestia

It has come to my attention that I will need a 'significant modification' to the quarters you have provided me. I will be able to provide the materials and workers required for this, but I am uncertain if I will be able to remove them after the negotiations have ended.

Your hospitality has been beyond all expectations, and I feel that I am overstepping by making this request of you. I understand if these requests cannot be met. I will fully explain my reasoning for this, but it must wait until we are able to meet privately.

With Gratitude,
Proto-Queen Aze
White Tail Woods Hive

Princess Celestia, Solar Diarch of Equestria, was a mixture of concerned, amused and suspicious.

Concern, for the implications of allowing special allowances to a single party will cause confliction with the others present.

Amusement, from the Queen behaving as if the smallest inconvenience will see her wiped from existance.

And finally suspicion, from the vague request itself.

What would she hope to gain? Is this the beginning of additional requests to discover the limits of Equestrian generosity? Furthermore, she had somehow convinced Shining Armor to advocate for her position. Princess Cadance also spoke highly of the Queen.

Celestia decided that she would have Shining and Cadance magically scanned for mind-control magic.


No reply from Celestia, but that is better than an armed reply at least.

My laying had finally been given the opportunity to normalise, and I was now laying five eggs every six hours.




For a year.

Do you know how many changelings that is?

Seven thousand, three hundred a year.

I already have a thousand from Queen Ra, and they're adequately cared for. I absolutely must do anything possible to secure peace with Equestria, or untold numbers of changelings will die with me, having never been hatched.

No pressure!

The Economy and You!

View Online

**** Author's Note ****

Yes, the next few chapters are a bit nuts. I'm still a beginning writer and mistakes were made. Please continue through them, as the story does get serious again. I'm not going to rewrite these chapters because the rest of the story is constructed around solving this ludicrousness as logically as possible.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

<You have everything you need?>

<Yes, my Queen.>

<You're certain? I could negotiate for more supplies or things that you might need. Do we need milk bottles?>

<My Queen, we are certain that->

<Because I dont know what I would do if I found out that when I returned to the hive, that everything was on fire and there was changelings on fire and the nymphs were on fire because some crazy mare with a flamethrower decided to show up and->


I stopped moving to properly recover from the entire hive yelling at me at once.


<The Hive endures.>

If I had lungs, I would be taking deep breaths to calm myself. Thankfully, The hive can send their good feelings to me in order to calm me. I am capable of calming the hive as well. Benefits of a shared mind.

<Thank you, for that. I am still becoming used to laying twenty eggs a day, and there is another meeting tomorrow in Canterlot.>

<We understand.>


Shining Armor had arrived at the edge of the White Tail Woods with a single chariot to return me to Canterlot.

"You look... different." He commented as I flew onto the chariot.

"How so?"

"Well for one, your eyes are glowing brighter than before."

"I've laid one hundred and fifty eggs since we last spoke. I've also been laying in a pool of distilled harmony."

Shining took a moment to process that before replying. "I think I should try something like that, sometime."

"Was your initial visit a pleasant one?"

"Informative, and I was able to play with a few foals in your hive."

"They're called nymphs, if they're changelings."


Our conversation halted long enough for the hive to inform me that it was 'awkward'.

"So..." I began, "Nice weather?"

His head turned to look at me, his eyebrow raised with his mouth slightly open. "Seriously?"

"Yes! The sun is out, the clouds aren't here, and theres a pleasant breeze."

"That's the day's scheduled weather."

"Isn't it great?"

He squinted his eyes at me. "What are you trying to do?"

"Be... friendly?"


"So my thousands of children aren't killed in a war we have no hope of winning if I don't?" I gave my best 'smile'. He didn't seem to like it. Maybe a bit too much fang?

"I understand your situation, but I've had alot of time to think this treaty over. Equestria and the Crystal Empire have no prior history with your hive. Anything you say or do could be a lie, and I'm not willing to place my trust with you without insurance beyond a Pinkie Promise."

He was giving off resentment and bitterness, but also guilt and sadness.

"You're troubled?"

He growled at me, and remained silent for the remainder of the trip.


I had no idea what had soured Shining's opinion of me, but I had very little time to worry about it. News of my negotiations had spread to the surrounding nations, and ambassadors from the Griffon Empire and Zebreca, and Saddle Arabia had arrived to observe the proceedings.

The Griffon Empire met with me in my still un-altered room, announced with a knock on the door.

"You may enter!" I called, still trying to clear out space for the eggs I would be laying for the next two days.

The door creaked open and was followed by the clanking and rattling of platemail. I turned to see a heavily armored Griffon in silver armor with gold trim and red accents with a small shoulder-cape of red and gold with a design of a rearing griffon.

"Proto-Queen Aze, I presume?" The Griffon's voice seemed rough and worn, possibly from shouting orders as they looked more like a general than an ambassador.

"Yes, that would be me." I turned away from my task to fully greet what I assumed to be a 'him' from the deep tone of his voice.

"I am ambassador Julius of the Griffon Empire. I seek a private meeting." He stood in a rigid pose that looked uncomfortable, possibly a sign of respect?

"You did not wish to send a written request, I assume?" Normally I would have been informed at least a few hours prior to any arrival or need by mail. Princess Celestia was very fond of 'Dragonfire Instant Messaging' as she described it.

He seemed taken off guard by my comment, if his expression revealed nothing, his emotions did. "I had taken the initiative when I learned of your arrival. I will send a message before we meet in the future for your convenience."

I nodded. "That would be appreciated." I motioned with my hoof for him to come into the room. "Please, enter and let us discuss things. You have questions, I assume?"

He steadily but loudly clanked his way in, closing the door behind him. "Yes, although it pains me to admit it." He took a seat on a rougher looking sofa that I had avoided for that very reason.

What? Just because I have a carapace doesn't mean I can't like soft and fuzzy things!

"What do you mean?" I took up my much more comfortable seat opposite to him.

He sighed as if remembering a tragedy of his past. "Our once mighty empire has stagnated, and crumbled to near ruin after the death of King Alexander. Our economy has become almost non-existant and our military takes the large majority of all our supplies just holding back wild beasts from our towns in the outer edge of our territory."

"That is... difficult, but why do you mention it to me? Surely your standings with any other nation would be more in your favor than mine? I'm fighting to even gain recognition as a soverign nation, and you've an Empire!"

"Empire in name only, at this point." His mood was rapidly deteriorating. "I come as an Ambassador to you, for a trade agreement. At the very least we could use the lumber from White Tail Woods to construct walls for our settlements. We would repay with bits, as you're within Equestria's borders."

That gave me an idea. "One moment, please don't freak out."


<Gaius, Lanius? Do either of you know how many bits we have?>

<... We' ve never actually taken the time to count. Would you wish inventory taken?> Lanius replied.

<Please do so with haste, It may benefit the hive in some way.>

<Yes, my Queen.> they replied.

"And, back." I replied, Julius' claw was waving in front of my face and he was startled when I returned.

"This..." He lowered his claw to the ground. "Is normal?"

"For as long as I remain a Proto-Queen. It takes more effort for me to commune over distance with the hive mind than a matured Queen."

"That seems extremely useful, if endangering."

"You would be right. On a different subject, have you come here to observe the negotiations?"

"Yes. It was only recently we learned of the attack on Canterlot, and then heard of your peace treaty. It's not often I get to meet a new species."

"I doubt that our species is 'new', Ambassador Julius, but I will take it as a compliment." I tried to smile again, but it only sent a spike of worry into him, so I closed my mouth.

"You know, as a friendly tip... If you expressed your emotions more often, having you suddenly smile wouldn't bring up memories of Timberwolves." He grumbled.

"Apologies. I am still new to these 'expressions' you mammals do."

"Mammals." He muttered.

"I will inform you of our ability to assist via letter as I am able, Ambassador."

Taking this as his que to leave, he stood from his seat. "Thank you for receiving me, Proto-Queen." He gave a slight bow, and left the room with a quiet click of slowly closing the door.



I was beginning to think that something was taking amusement at my expense.

"Proto-Queen Aze, What has happened to your gaze?" The Zebrecan delegate asked, their voice a medley of rhyme.

"I was asking the Hivemind about Zebras. Sadly, we've not encountered your peoples before."

"This observation would seem true, as this is our first time meeting you."

I was attempting to perfect my 'expressions' and decided this was the perfect moment for 'Single narrowed eye with opposing raised eyebrow of slight annoyance at an obvious observation by another party.'

"Pardon my memory, but what was your name again?"


Huh, she didn't rhyme.

"You've decided to meet me for what purpose, if you don't mind my asking?"

"Of all species far and near, your intriging own has brought us here. You claim to be seperate from Chrysalis' hive, and we wonder how that impacts our lives. We observe the actions you take, to better understand the place in our world you make."

This was making my head hurt. How does she even organise her thoughts into rhyme like that? I think it's affecting me...

"Proto-Queen Aze, we mean no alarm, but it seems our presense causes you harm."

"W-what? Oh! No, I'm fine. Just..." I shook my head for a moment to clear the rhymes away. "Alright, better. You were saying?"

She blinked a few times before walking backwards from my room. "We think it best to take our leave, before our words make your brain bleed." She then shut the door swiftly, freeing me from her spell.

"Well... that was different."

I'll have to study those Zebras at some point. I hope they don't ALL do that or i'll have to negotiate via letter.

Wait, please don't tell me they rhyme in letters too!



The Ambassador from Saddle Arabia was far more 'normal' compared to the others I had met. He was actually a Prince, taking on the role of Ambassador until his position on the throne could be secured. His father was of poor health, and his xenophobic leanings gave 'Prince Sta'abel a sour impression of his ability to lead.

The Prince was an earth pony. Dusty sand colored coat with brown and black mane and tail with blue eyes like sapphire gems. He wore robes of cloth over his body despite the pleasant weather, but he informed me that his homeland is much hotter, and that Equestria was perpetually chilly.

"I've learned a little of the new ambassadors that have been staying here, but I would assume that given the amount of clothing you wear that you're not here for a favor?" I asked.

The Prince, as I will not be attempting to pronounce his name again for my own sanity, seemed amused by my reply. "There's no need to be so formal, Proto-Queen Aze. We are equals as far as I can tell. Do you hold yourself this way with your changeling subjects?"

"They are not subjects, they are my children. To answer your question, I do. And for formality, It would be reckless of me to lower my guard in my position."

He hummed in thought before replying. "Very well, I can respect your choice. You are correct that I have not come here to beg from you, however I would seek a trade agreement."

At this rate I wont have a kingdom left. "Oh? What do you wish to trade?"

"I seek the opportunity to appraise your land of its natural resources, and offer fair payment in exchange for retrieving those you are willing to part with."

I thought on this for a moment before replying. "I will think on your request, and send you a response via mail."

He stood from his seat and bowed. "Thank you for receiving me, Proto-Queen."

The second the door shut, I slumped into my seat.

"This is going to be a long day."


"We are all prepared?" Celestia asked. The gathered participants of the peace talks took their seats.

Transcription for your sanity.

Second Meeting of White Tail Woods Hive and Equestria
Time: 12:00am

Key for simplicity: WTW = White Tail Woods
EQ = Equestria
PC = Princess Celestia
PL = Princess Luna
PQA= Proto-Queen Aze
PMC = Princess Mi Amore Cadenza
SA = Guard Captain Shining Armor
M = Minos
N = Noblemares / Aristoponies

PC: This meeting is called to order. PMC, you have the opening statement.

PMC: Thank you, PC. I would like to formally announce my good faith with the WTW Hive and PQA. Several meetings and an extensive cultural exchange have eased my suspicions about the motives of PQA, and I fully support her position.

N: You mean that PQA bribed you in a back room deal?

SA: How dare you?!

PC: Order! N, you will wait your turn to speak. SA, if you would sit... Thank you. PQA, would you like to explain?

PQA: We were met by PMC in our quarters, and she made her suspicions clear. I offered to ease her doubts and convince her of my goals. This involved me-

SA: No, don't say it!

PC: SA, please await your turn. PQA, continue please.

PQA: This involved me taking the appearance of Queen Chrysalis as a nymph, dressed in a chicken suit.

N: Wait, seriously?

PQA bursts into magenta flame, shapeshifted into Queen Chrysalis as a nymph, in a chicken suit.

Several 'D'aaaws' are heard. Loud coughing and grunts in a sad attempt to regain semblance of masculinity.

"Yus, it is twue."

A Noble faints, is revived by Royal Guard.

PQA reverts to original form.

SA grumbles something unintelligible.

PC: We've all recovered? Yes? Alright. Nobles, you have the floor.

N: Looking over your proposed treaty, we noticed that you seek a trade agreement with Equestria and its citizens. What resources do you have available that would interest Equestria?

PQA's eyes go dark.

Alarm begins to spread.

PMC/SA: It's fine! She does that!

Confusion, all gathered begin to calm and await reply.

PQA's eyes glow again.

PQA: Does anypony or Minotaur happen to have an affinity for math?

PL produces an Abacus.

PL: Yes. What is the purpose?

PQA: What would be the total amount of one thousand bank accounts with five hundred bits, plus an additional account with ten thousand bits, at twenty percent interest rate over the course of a thousand years bear?

PQA's eyes dim, before glowing again.

PQA: Also adjusting for inflation and the scarcity of coins held?

Nobles collectively faint, PC visibly sweats as PL calculates.

PL seems shaken.

PL: five hundred twenty seven million, three hundred and ten thousand bits. (B 527,310,000)

PL drops her abacus onto the table.

PC's eye twitches.

PQA: Is that alot?

PC: This meeting will continue at a later date, to be determined by Equestria and informed personally!

Gavel announces end of meeting
Transcription by Twilight Sparkle

"Did I say something wrong?"


Princess Celestia was sweating ballistas.

"Luna, what are we going to do?! Does that much money even physically exist? Why didn't I think about opening a bank account?"

"Tia, we must remain calm-"

"Calm?! CALM?! I'll show you calm when I banish that changeling to the moon to prevent the collapse of society!"

"Celestia! Calm down!"

"She could buy the entire planet four times over and have enough left over to drown every dragon and noble in gold, AND still have enough to coat all of Zebreca in bits! What do I even do about-"

"CALM THYSELF, SISTER!" Luna bellowed in the royal Canterlot Voice.

Celestia rebooted her brain after reflexively blinking for a minute straight.

"Better?" Luna asked.

"Yes..." Celestia rubbed her chin. "I've got it! We'll just have to keep her in the dark about the wealth she possesses, so that she won't discover that she would send the entire economy crashing down around our ears!" She giggled manicly.

"Sister, thou scares us."


"Really, did I say something wrong?" I was very confused. Luna announced a number that I had never heard of, several ambassadors fainted, and now everything I even thought to ask was being provided to me. They even let me turn my room into a miniature hive and allowed caretakers and my personal guard to stay with me.

"I'm sure you did nothing wrong my Queen." Gaius said. He and Lanius were staying as my guard, and Gaia was still at the hive. I had just finished laying the last of my eggs for the day, and Minerva was caring for them in a miniature pool.

"Perhaps the Queen would like a distraction?" Minerva suggested.

"What do you have in mind?"

"Well, you still have yet to master alchemy, my Queen."

Oh, shell. She was completely right. "Thank you for reminding me, Minerva."

"No trouble, my Queen."

Now, who would be smart enough to invent alchemy?


Oh, you've got to be kidding. Of COURSE it would be her.


Alright, hopefully she received my letter and I won't-

The door opened.

She looked at me.

I looked back.

"Hello, Twili-"




Didn't get the letter in time.


"I have thousands of children that need their mother, you know." I scolded Twilight as she wrapped bandages around my chest.

"I'm so sorry! I didn't know you were coming and I just got your letter after I stunned you and I thought you were Chrysalis for a moment and my magic reacted faster than I could and-"

"Twilight!" I raised my voice, halting her stream of apologies and excuses with a hoof over her mouth. "I need your help."

"Wuwht?" She mumbled, and I removed my hoof. "Help with what?"

"I need your help with re-inventing Alchemy."

She blinked. "You know those are myths, right? Nopony can actually do those things?"

"Nopony." I agreed with a nod.

Her eyes lit up as her jaw dropped, accompanied by an excited gasp. "You're serious?!"

I nodded again, as she exploded into a cascade of 'YesYesYesYes' repeated for long enough that I walked upstairs to take a nap.


"Twilight, there has to be a simpler way of doing this."

"What do you mean? This perfectly lays out every element the myths talk about in their books!"

She had produced something she dubbed, 'The Periodic Table of Non Magical or Enchanted Elements'. It looked to me like a series of blocks with scribbles in the margins and large lettering. None of this meant a thing to me.

"I'm simply stating that there has to be a way that I can understand what I'm doing at a glance. I don't have the time to study in a university for years to learn what all of this means."

"Just how old are you, anyway?"

"Two years, seven months and four days."

She took a while to reply.


I nodded. "We mature much faster than you ponies do, and most of our knowledge is passed down through the hivemind. Do Humans still fight dragons?"

"What's a human?"

"Hmm, nevermind." I guess they lost.

"How can I make this simpler?"

"Well, lets start with Iron. It strengthens and purifys against evil spirits, but erodes over time. How about a Pro/Con list?"

"Like... Iron: +Strength, +Spirit, -Longevity?"

"Yes! Let's do that."

"But chemistry is so much more exact and complex than that! Every measurement has to be exactly right or it will blow up in your face!"

"But this is changeling alchemy, I'll be fine!"



We had spent several days tinkering and arguing about alchemy, before I decided that it was good as we were going to get without trial and error. For this purpose, I used one of my eggs that I had laid in Canterlot, and Twilight sat on the edge of the pool, ready to take notes. I sat inside of the pool with the experimental egg ready to be... experimented on.

"Are you sure this is ethical? It seems wrong to me somehow."

<Quick, I need a snarky rebuttal!>

<Counting your chickens before they hatch?>


"Twilight, that would be like counting your chickens before they hatch!" Hah!

"Did you seriously just ask the hive mind for a comeback?"

I stuck my tongue out at her in response. I think her snarkyness is beginning to affect me.

"Alright, here we go!" I declared, levitating magically liquified elements.

"Um... What do I do now?"

"Use them?" Twilight uncertainly suggested.

"Right! Here goes!"

I dumped all of them into the egg, combined with my magic.

Which elements, you ask?

I believe I said all of them.

The resulting explosion sounded as a mix between a lightning bolt, several ponies screaming, a gunpowder explosion and a choir of tears. Smoke that was dark as charcoal coated everything in the room and caused Twilight to sputter and cough. I was thankfully Immune. No lungs, remember?

When Twilight regained her senses, we opened the balcony window to let the smoke billow out and accidentally warn the neighboring nation of Roarham of imaginary invaders.

What was left of my efforts, was a very tall pony, about Celestia's height. His coat was dark as night with a mane and tail a pure crimson. His eyes glowed a deep red as well. What was most unsettling was... I had created an Alicorn.

"Wh-what!? Who am I? Who are you? What have you done with my parents?!" He babbled in a blind jibbering mess. "You must've killed my parents! You don't care about me! I'll make all of you pay!" And then he lept out of the balcony window crying tears of blood.

After Twilight and I had finished picking our jaws from the floor, we spotted another pony.

The Pink One.

She was dressed in a dark grey full body jumpsuit with many pouches, all with her cutie mark on them. Her face was concealed by balaclava, and she had goggles with bright green lenses.

"Allright ponies, where'd the Alicorn run off to?" She questioned, her voice attempting to be gritty and serious.

Twilight and I both had the presense of mind to point out of the balcony window. She leapt onto the railing before turning around to look at me.

"What did you decide to name him? I gotta know what terrible Oh See im going to be hunting after all."

Oh sea? Or is it 'Oh! See?'

"Soon to be Queenie! Focus!" The Pink One snapped.

"Oh! I will call him... Edgey."

She saluted me, and backflipped from the guard rail.


"Twilight..." I asked, not moving my head incase something else rediculous were to happen.

"Yes Aze?"

"We agree to never, EVER do that again?"



"Well, I suppose we should inform Princess Celestia that theres a fourth Alicorn..."

"Nah, don't worry about it. She'll probably have me end up dealing with it anyway."


"Oh. Well, back to work then?"

"Of course!"

Additional Family

View Online


Multiple eye witness accounts have confirmed a bombing yesterday when a loud explosion was heard at 5:00pm. The Royal Guard have refused to release a statement, and Captain Shining Armor also refused to comment. There are rumours spreading of a Black Alicorn escaping from the blast, and a pink pony chasing after it. No news yet on this mysterious fourth Alicorn, but we promise to report on this situation as it develops.

This is CNN (Canterlot Nightly News), bringing you the BEST in the business. Back to you, Teleprompt!

Celestia set down her magically animated newspaper and slumped back into her chair.

Of course they would think it was a bomb. What was she even doing in there, and with Twilight of all ponies? This is going to get out of hoof quickly if I don't release a statement soon.

Celestia readied her quill and began writing.


Dear Proto-Queen Aze

Please stop blowing up the palace
Please stop creating Alicorns
Give me a break
You're paying for the damages

Please banish yourself to the moon see me in Day Court.

Princess Celestia

"Hmm. Well, it seems serious. Perhaps it is for the treaty?"

"My Queen, what about all the crossed out sentences?" Gaius asked.

"Well they're crossed out, so why should I worry about them?"

Gaius blinked at me before relenting. "Very well, my Queen.



Citizens of towns all over Equestria are reporting sightings of Queen Chrysalis' brood. Most are badly injured or seeking refuge with well intentioned ponies. If you see a changeling, report them to the Royal Guard.

Do not approach the changeling.
Do not attempt to communicate with the changeling.
Do not keep the changeling in your home and develop a relationship.
Do not adopt the changeling like a stray animal.
Do not attempt to hug the changeling.
Do not attempt to teach the changeling what true love is.
Do not capture the changeling without assistance from the Royal Guard.

In short, just dont.

Call the Royal Guard.

Celestia's eye twitched.

Letter time!


Dear Proto-Queen Aze,

Seriously, get your plucking flank in here

Your attendance in the day court is greatly desired.

Princess Celestia

"Oh! I completely forgot! Excuse me Twilight, I have to leave. I'm late for a meeting!"

Twilight continued to fiddle around with liquidized elements, thick goggles preventing her from being blinded while cataloging the different reactions.


The door slammed.



The doors to the Day Court were wide open, and I caught the ending of Celestia's rambling as I trotted towards the thrones.

"... To be the absolute death of me at this- Oh! Proto-Queen Aze! I'm very glad that you were able to attend today."

Her voice had shifted from anxious panic to motherly affection the second she spotted me.

Ponies are strange.

"I apologise for being late! I was caught up in my experiments and just now noticed your letters." I took a seat in front of the thrones. It was a small cushion on the floor.

"That's alright. Guards? Please close the court."

"Yes, Princess!"

Uh oh. What's going on?

"Princess Celestia? What is happening?"

The heavy doors slammed shut with an echo.

"I'll tell you! Ponies think that you were attacked, Chrysalis' Changelings are popping up left and right, and now theres a fourth Alicorn on the loose! All In one night!" Her regal mask had shattered when the door closed, and was in full panic mode. "At least with Discord we can always freeze him into stone! Any old evil that pops up can be blasted by the Elements of Harmony!"

I sat patiently, waiting.

"On top of that, there's changeling hate groups popping up, look!"

She floated a newspaper to me, and I grabbed it with my magic.


Protesters of the White Tail Woods Hive and Equestria peace treaty have begun to arrive from all over, absolutely livid about the idea of peace with Changelings. One protester had this to say.

"These con sarnned changerlings are jess going to sap the love out of our foals n leave em fer dead!"

She was later taken to Helping Hooves Mental Wellness center.

More on this story, as it develops!

"What do you want me to do about it?" I asked, setting the newspaper down.

"Something? I dont know, buy them all a house!"

I wonder how much they cost?

"Very well, Princess Celestia. I will purchase housing for your ponies in exchange for your support in the peace talks."

"But-..." She groaned. "Yes, of course."

"Pinkie Promise?"

She glared at me before going through the motions of a Pinkie Promise.

"I wouldn't worry about the Alicorn. The Pink One is dealing with it."


Pinkamena 'Splinter Cell' Diane Pie had the Alicorn cornered. He gave a good chase, but his constant angst gave him away for miles, and the sound of his self loathing and pity made him easy to track. Now, at the edge of the world, there was nowhere he could run.

"You're out of options, Edgey!"

"My name isn't Edgey! It's King Shadow Slaughter!" He whined with a stomp of his hoof that caused blood magma to bubble from the frozen ground of the north pole.

"Nopey dopey, mopey! I'm pretty sure you're Edgey!"

"Graaah!" He screamed, sending a bolt of red and black lightning into an Iceburg, shattering it. "You can't tell me who I am!"

"For your sake, I'm sorry it had to come to this!" Pinkamena shouted over the growing blood blizzard, caused by Edgey's Angst. It was a magical comb that helped him style his mane into jagged spikes. It was soothing.

"I'm too powerful for you to kill, Pie!" He growled, readying himself for combat.

"Who said anything about killing you?" Pinkmena countered, also readying for combat.

As the storm built to call the howls of the dead, and their bodies became soaked in blood, they charged.


"Yep. Nothing to worry about."


The next day, changelings from Chrysalis' brood had been getting captured with greater and greater frequency. All of Proto-Queen Aze's changelings had remained in White Tail Woods during the peace talks, supplied by visits from Aze. Her work with Twilight was building into a solid academic friendship, and was enough to sustain everyling.

Aze herself, however, was exhausted.

"I don't know how much longer I can be used as a battery and lay eggs every day, Gaia."

"You're already three weeks into your growing Queenhood. That means its only eleven months and a week until you can decide when to lay eggs!"

She's still too cheery for this situation.

Laying down in the Hive pool, I spotted a trail of smoke winding its way towards me. I lifted my head to get a better look, and a scroll unfolded from the ashes in front of me.

Dear Proto-Queen Aze,

We here at CNN (Canterlot Nightly News) would love your input on recent events, and would like to schedule an interview at your earliest convenience.

You can find our offices in the Haughty Quarter of Canterlot, just past Preening and Posturing.

Awaiting your reply,
CNN CEO First Scoop
First Scoop

An interview? Perhaps I could win the sympathy of those ponies not already allied with the protesters...

Another egg laid.

Yes, I will accept this interview.


I had sent my reply, accepting the interview to First Scoop. The interview itself would be held in two days to allow for 'hype' to build over the event. I had asked Princess Celestia for advice with the Interview, and her suggestion was to 'Drink Tea and look important.'

Well, I can't drink tea, but I can certainly look important. I look important by default, and that's not my ego talking. (Yes it is.)

The problem before me, however, was the small group of Chrysalis' Brood that had sought asylum in my room via bursting through the window from the balcony. They all looked like starved colts from Trottingham, with their Foalboy caps and vests.

"You will be our Queen?" One of them asked, desperation in his voice.

"Why would I?" I probably was going to anyway, but I wanted to hear their reasoning.

"Because... Queen?"

Oh, they were the Warrior Caste of Chrysalis' brood. The ones that were bashing their heads against the shield? Yeah, I heard about that too.

"Right... Just sit in my quarters until I get you."

They looked at me curiously, uncomprehending.

"You. Room, go."

"Yes Queen!"

Most of them ran or flew off in different directions, but one stayed behind.

"You are?" I asked.

"Chitin, Queen Aze."

"You're not a warrior, I assume?"

"No, I am a caretaker." Chitin replied with some sorrow.

"Queen Chrysalis even sent caretakers into battle? It's a wonder you're alive."

"I was taken in by a kind stallion who nursed me back to health, but when he found out I was a changeling, he left me and started the anti-changeling movement. Apparently our situation has happened to alot of ponies and changelings after the attack."

"Well, how would you like to change all of that?"

She looked from the ground towards me, a look of 'hopeful suprise yet not fully trusting the sincerity of the speaker'. I'm not sure what word summarises that.

"I am due for an interview with CNN in two days, and I would offer you a position as a guest." I explained.

"Do you think it will work? Ponies aren't the most trusting after you betray them."

"Who did you betray? Did you pretend to be some other pony?"

"N-no! I made my disguise from what I liked of several other ponies."

"Well, if you pretended to be yourself in pony form, then that is exactly what you were. You didn't betray anypony because they only see the surface, Chitin."

She took a moment to reflect on my words before replying. "Thank you, Queen Aze."

"Walk with me, would you?"


Pinkamena was breathing heavily, but Edgey was wearing out faster than she was.

He had tried to use every spell he knew to defeat 'Splinter Pie', but she was just too quick for him. He had only been alive for a day, but the alchemical memories he had been given made him believe the world was an awful place with only suffering. Pinkamena was the culmination of all his angst and pain, in his eyes.

"You're...*huff*... Gonna get tired sooner...*huff*... Or later, Edgey!" Pinkamena taunted.

"I already told you! It's King Shadow SLAAAAAUUUGHTERRRRR!" He screamed, hurling unformed magic recklessly around, slicing part of an iceburg mountain clean off, disturbing some birds but otherwise causing no mentionable damage.

Now, while he was distracted and enraged, Pinkamena had her chance.

She ducked under a red laser beam, leapt over a conjured bomb and rolled into a jump directly at Edgey's chest.

Straight into a hug.

"W-wh-what?!" Edgey stammered, caught off guard by the deadly attack of his foe. "What are you doing to me?!" He screamed in panic, something happening to his chest as Pinkie held on, burying her muzzle into his chest. "S-stop! This feels weird!"

"You're not going to be angsty and mopey if I have anything to say about it, Edgey!"

He wanted to fight back, to throw this bright pink mare off of him and vanquish her, but something stopped him. It took all of his willpower to fight it, but just when he gained ground, she would hug a little tighter, or brush his mane, or say that she loved him, and wanted him to come home to his mother.

"" He asked, his legs failing him as he fell to the crystalised blood snow.

Pinkie looked into his glowing crimson eyes longingly, letting the moment grow between them before she slowly moved closer to his muzzle.

And booped him on the nose.

"Nope! Queen Aze is your mommy! I'm like your aunt in a way. Isn't that crazy?!" She giggled.

King Shadow Slaughter could only blink to this.

"Yep! You're just like your mommy!"


Twilight had just finished categorising and alphabetizing all of her initial findings on Alchemy when Aze returned.

"Oh, how are you doing, Aze?" Twilight wondered.

"I've encountered a changeling of Chrysalis' brood that might help me in my interview tomorrow."


"What interview?" Twilight asked, looking around at the stacks of newspapers that CNN insisted on delivering hourly. She had used them for scratch paper.

"This one. I brought you a 'copy'."

Twilight held the newspaper with her magic.


Tomorrow night on CNN only!
Standby a CNN magical broadcaster to tune in, live!
Really! We can't record this stuff!
Special suprise guest!
Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

Twilight lowered the article, setting it aside on her workbench.

"Why am I not suprised?" Twilight whispered to herself, floating the goggles from her head to reveal perfect circles on her head where the coat had been spared the blasts of science.

"Twilight?" Aze called.

"I was just about to head to my hotel. Do you need anything?"

"Oh! Well, I had wanted to repay you for all the help you've given me."

Wait, really?

"Queen Aze, you really don't have to do anything for My. How did you get that many bits?!" She asked in shock, drawn to a bulging bag of bits like a moth to... Er, sore subject. Like a 'very interested pony'


"Well, it was revealed that Queen Ra sought to ensure her infiltrators and harvesters would never start off poor in Equestria, so we have alot f money. You were there for the transcription, weren't you?"

"I was too busy trying to keep track of everything to really notice. How much do you have?"

"Upwards of five hundred million?"




"Do you have a hive mind as well?"


"I should probably get somepony..."


<My Queen!> I heard Gaia call.

<Yes, Gaia?>

<Your eggs are beginning to hatch!>



<On my way!>


"Hey, is that the one changeling queen thats been hidin' out in the palace?" A stallion with a neigh jersey accent asked, pointing to the glowing magenta lights moving across the night sky.

"Nah, I think its one o' dem new earth pony flyin' machines they was talkin' about."

"Oh yeah? 'Den whats them lights doin?"

"Making sure nopony flies into it?"

"Oh yeah, dat'd make sense. What're we doin' again?"




I flew from Canterlot to the Hive within five minutes. Color Fast would be so proud.

<My Queen, through here!> Gaia beckoned, leaning out from an alcove into the Nursery.

I rounded the corner just in time to see a little horn poke its way through it's shell.

"Eeee! They're even more adorable when they're yours!" I squee'd, bouncing on my hooves in a most undignified manner as I cheered my offspring onwards.

"Come on! You can get to mommy!" I cooed.

The nymph had burst off the top of the shell, having it impaled through his horn and restinglike a helmet on his head.

"Yes! My champion!" I cheered, and more eggs began to hatch as my excitement urged them onwards.


The hatching was shorter than I had expected, but now my first clutch, the fifty eggs i first laid, were nymphs surrounding me, climbing on top of me and nibbling my mane and tail.

I enjoyed simply laying on the hive floor as they hung onto my horn or tried to wrestle with my wings. They were just too adorable for me to ruin their fun. A few of them tried to use the holes in my legs as chairs or storage spaces for whatever they felt worthy of collecting, which happened to be strands of my mane.

After awhile though, the sun had arisen once again, and I had meetings to return to.

"Don't worry, Gaia will teach you all how to talk to mommy through the hive mind! Be good!"

They squeaked and chittered in reply, and I began my flight back to Canterlot.


"This Amethyst will project my voice?" I asked. One of the CNN crewmembers was affixing a necklace to me with a field of magic, as others worked to style my hair in an attempt to tame it.

It stubbornly refused.

"Yep, alls you gotta do is talk like regular, n' you'll be good to go." The unicorn replied, chewing on something.

"Places in five minutes!" A voice called.

"Ah'righr, we gotta get you ready. Follow us, Queeny!"

I was lead onto a brightly lit stage, and a small sea of colored ponies sat in stands above the stage platform. The floor was mahogany in color, with white 'pleather' couches for myself, Chitin and the host to sit it. The backdrop was one half Canterlot, and one half a picture of the White Tail Woods. Looking into the stands I could see many grumpy faces.

"Hey, don't worry. We got security everywhere."

There was indeed security. They wore tailored black jackets with white collared shirts, and had their own gemstone communication devices that spiraled from their ear.

"All set?"

Nods from several ponies.

"Welcome to our Sunday night CNN Special with Queen Aze!"

Polite stomping of hooves.

"Is there anything you'd like to say to the folks at home before we begin?"

Oh! Sympathy card!

"I'd like to give a 'shout out' to all of my newly hatched nymphs in the hive, as well as Twilight Sparkle for assisting me in my research, and Princesses Celestia and Luna for hearing my case and allowing the peace talks to continue." I did my best smile, and given that nopony fainted, I took it as a huge victory for me.

"That's wonderful news! Tell us, how many little 'nymphs' should we expect to see running around?"

"In Canterlot?"


"Oh, well I plan on keeping all of my children in the White Tail Woods until our nations are better equipped to handle another."

"Are you implying that Equestria is unable to 'deal with' you and your hive?"

"W-what? No!"

Booing from the stands.

"Moving on. What can you tell us about your 'special guest'?"

"Oh! Chitin, please join us!"

Fanfare plays, some applause, some booing.

"Now now, everypony. Play nice."

The booing dies down.

"So, Chitin is it?"


"Ah, A shy one are you?"

Chitin nods.

"What can you tell us about yourself Chitin?"

She looks to me for help, I nod in support.

"W-well... I lived with a pony after the attack on Canterlot and-"

A loud boo, followed by security tackling a stallion and throwing him from the studio.

"...And I made my own disguise in order to blend in and survive. When the pony I was staying with found out that I was a changeling, they got very upset and threw me out. They're a part of the Anti-Changeling protesters now." She finished meekly.

"Wow, tough break there." His attention returned to me. "Queen Aze, what do you plan on doing if the peace talks conclude in your favor?"

Celestia's mentioning of houses returned to my memory.

"Buy everypony a house."



Complete silence.

"I said that I would buy everypony a house?"

A shout from the croud. "What kind of house?"

"Um... any kind?"


"Prove it!"

Well, I did have some deeds to houses on me. Best to be prepared for anything, and the Pink One had given me the secret of what she called 'The Mane of Holding'.

I withdrew a deed to some random house, and tossed it to the challenger.

"You get a house!"

He caught the scroll, and a camera zoomed in on the scroll magically adding the cutiemark of the stallion to the deed. He fainted.

A great clamour of shouting and raised hooves happened at once, and I took it quite well.

"You get a house! YOU get a house! Yooouuu get a house!"


"You get a house! You get a house!! Yooooooou get a house! And yoooou get a house!

Celestia's teacup shattered, spilling liquid onto the carpet.

"I'm bucked."


"And you're certain my mom is through this door?" Edgey asked, nervously balancing on the tips of his hooves while looking in a compact mirror, brushing his mane just so.

"Yepperooni!" The Pink One chirped. "Go on in there and suprise her!"

King Shadow Slaughter gulped, and willed himself to have the courage for this confrontation.

He opened the door to a flood of noise, maneuvering through excited and jumping ponies, all reaching for scrolls that were flying through the air. One struck him in the muzzle, and before he could becone upset, he saw his Cutie Mark of a bleeding ghost appear on the seal.

"And you get a house too! OH EGGSHELLS, EVERYPONY GETS A HOUSE!" A familiar voice yelled over the roar of the croud.

"Mom?" Edgey mumbled in disbelief. He hadn't seen her for at least an entire week, which was his whole life. She was even more gorgeous than he remembered, and her coat was black; just like his!

"Mommy!" He yelled over the croud, his Alicorn vocals booming out and stunning the croud into silence.

"E-Edgey?" Mom stammered, setting down a filly who now owned a house of her own.

"Is it really you, mom?"


What the buck? I thought that Alicorn was a joke from life itself!

"Y-yes. It's me. Where have you been?" I asked cautiously.

"Oh mom, it IS you!" He cried, tears of blood flowing from his eyes.

"There there, Edgey. Everything will be alright now. Mommy is here for you."

What the hay is going on?

"Aaalright then everypony! This has been one exciting story, brought to you exclusively by CNN! Tune in next week for even more exciting news and... apparently, Drama!"


"I'm not going in there! YOU give her the tea!" A maid hissed.

"Me?! Are you insane? Did you even SEE what she did to the last pony to give her another cup?!" The guard whisper shouted in reply.

"Yes! And thats why YOU are giving it to her!"

"No! That's not my job!"


The door creaked open, and both maid and guard gave each other a curious look before investigating.

What they saw would be sworn to secrecy on pain of banishment.

Princess Celestia, Solar Diarch of all Equestria, Ruler of the Sun and all that dwell in its glow, was curled into a ball on the floor.


With shattered tea cups everywhere.

And tea bags blinding her from the CNN channel.

Please Leave A Message

View Online

**** Author's Note ****

This chapter should be the last of the crazy that temporarily took hold of the story.

Thank you for bearing past all of this nonsense.

Dear Queen Aze

Congratulations on your Queendom!

I understand that you've technically not physically matured to the correct level, but having young of your own is an important stage in any mare's life.

I look forward to the conclusion of these peace talks; that we may conduct business of our own.

Warm Wishes,
Prince Sta'abel
Saddle Arabia

Perfect. Now he could settle down for the night, watch his favorite show, and send the letter in the morning.

What's on CNN?


You get a house, and you get a house, YOU REALLY GET A HOUSE.



Prince Sta'abel then decided to crumple his letter, and throw it into a nearby lit brazier.



'Ambassador' Julius scratched his beak, having also seen the display on CNN.

"This is perfect!"

He hopped from his roost, a circular griffon couch arranged like an old bird's nest yet infinetly more comfortable, and moved to his quill and paper.

Dear Queen Aze

Truely wonderful news, reuniting with your son!
I wish the best for you, and your hive as well.

I regret bringing your attention once more to the condition of our nation, but would you be willing to visit anyway?

We will provide transportation for you and up to fourteen tag-alongs if you wish.

Eager to hear from you,
Ambassador Julius



Iron Will had witnessed CNN as well, and took the moment to realise the implications of what had occured in full.

Queen Aze had freely given everypony in Canterlot a house.

Said ponies no longer had to make payments on those homes.

Banks would be flooded with ponies attempting to spend their savings on things, now that their main source of economic troubles had been conquered by a relatively friendly changeling Queen in a single night.

Princess Celestia would either have to conduct damage control and nullify the deeds for the sake of the economy, earning her the loathing of her ponies, or sit back and do nothing.

Doing nothing would help her save face, but only until ponies began questioning why the Solar Princess hadn't done what Queen Aze had done.

This would either cause her to lose standing in the opinions of ponies, who would hold Queen Aze in higher reguard for dealing with their troubles directly, or reveal her plan to hide the monetary wealth that Queen Aze had no idea what to do with.

Knowing the amount of bits the Queen possessed, via attending the second meeting yet not speaking, Iron Will was certain that others would seek to take advantage of the Queen's naïve nature.

Iron Will doesn't let anybeing get pushed around.



"Yes, Shiny?" Cadance called from another room, the crystaline halls of their castle reasonating with a musical quality.

"What would you say if Queen Aze bought everypony a house in Canterlot?"


"That's pretty specific."

"Just a hypothetical?"


"Did she get US a house?"


"She got EVERYPONY a house."

Shining's reply was followed by a flurry of hooves galloping across crystal flooring, ending with a leap onto Shining Armor.

"Lets go on vacation!" Cadance cheered from her position on Shining's lap, staring up at him adorably.

"That should still be illegal." Shining grumbled.


"Tia?" Luna called to the runed and enchanted golden/marble doors of her sister's bedroom.

"Go away!" The muffled voice of a distraught Celestia called back.

"Tia, it is us! Let us in, that we may speak with you!"

"I need to be alone!"

"We have a meeting, Tia!"


"Tia, thou art acting a foal."

"You deal with it today!"

Luna took a deep, calming breath.

"Very well, Sister."

"Thank you Lulu!" Celestia called back.

Luna idly noted that the hallway smelt of spearmint tea. Odd.


Twilight had been watching CNN. Practically anypony/dragon/ling/griffon/sentient being with available means had been watching CNN.

Twilight had a house in Canterlot now.

Science lab!

Twilight then began collecting her things, scooping them into saddlebags and squeeing with glee at all the things she could do with an entire house turned into a laboratory.


Spike did not recieve a house. No one cares about Spike.


The rest of the important ponies recieved houses as well. Rarity turned hers into another boatleak or whatever, Applejack turned hers into a cider bar, Color Fast turned hers into an altar to the wonderbolts, and Fluttershy turned hers into another Animal Shelter.

Pinkie Pie, however, decided to go crazy.

She had converted her house into an airship. Large balloons and rotating fan blades held it in the air, and she sought to sail to the 'eight corners of the world to find the fourth of six walls and shatter it to pieces.'

Everypony just allowed Pinkie the space to be Pinkie, as she hired a pirate crew to both guard her ship, feed personally via pastry, and to entertain and throw parties for so she wouldn't become lonely or bored.

She still wrote though, so that was nice.


King Shadow Slaughter was having difficulty with moving into his mansion, however.

"Why- *Hgrrr* do they make doors- *Grrrrr* never wide enough- *Grr* for FURNITURE TO FIT THROUGH?!" He shouted, a mighty shove of body and magic sending his new skull and chains decorated couch flying through the front door.

He picked himself up from the floor, and levitated his couch into the air once more.

"Oh come on, seriously?!"

Another doorway stood in defiance of his goals in life.


Celestia herself had been given a house as well, but she ate the deed in her grief, and would have to ask for another house if she wanted one.


Queen Aze didn't know what to do about her son.

Her Alicorn son.

He seemed able to find fault with a great many things, yet could find nothing wrong with Aze herself, even if she asked for complete honesty.

"Edgey, you know I'm terrible at alchemy. Would you help me learn it?"

"You know, you made me on your first attempt. I'd say you performed perfectly."

"But I need to be even better for my nymphs! For the future of your brothers and sisters!"

He grumbled, sipping juice from a small cup with a skull on a silly straw made of bones.

"Alright, fine."


"You're like a foal when It comes to Alchemy."

"Boom!" I teased


Why was I asking Edgey for help with alchemy?

It was explained doubly by the Pink One and Edgey himself.

Pinkie's explanation is that since our hive survives off of 'harmony' and the things that cause it, when I used all of the elements at once, the harmonic magic prevented complete failure and instead ensured the survival of my son, albeit as an Alicorn instead of a changeling.

Edgey's explanation is that 'I am too metal to fail.'

I like Pinkie's explanation better.

Edgey's own natural talent with alchemy comes from how he was created. Since changelings are educated by the hive mind and also contain genetic memory, when my harmonic magic combined with 'every element ever', they imbued him with knowledge about how each element worked and interacted with another.

So in laypony terms, I got super lucky and I have a living alchemical cheat sheet that thinks I'm the best thing ever.

Twilight had practically vanished since giving her a house, and Celestia had replied to any letter or request sent to her as follows:

Princess Celestia isn't here right now.
Please try again later.

At the tone, please record your message.

Nopony really knows what the second part means, but I suggested that she perhaps needs a vacation.


Final meeting of White Tail Woods Hive and Equestria Peace Talks

8:00 AM

L = Luna
A = Bug lady
D = Derpy Hooves (me!)

L: We are all that could attend?

A: It seems so.

D: I couldn't find the way to my house, so I decided to help!

L: How did you evade our guards?

D: Guards?

A: Should we just focus on the meeting?

L: Oh, yes. Our sister is not feeling well, and has asked us to conclude our peace talks thusly.

A small paper is produced

My kingdom for all your bits!
Stop crashing the economy!

For a nominal integration fee, Equestria will enter a permanent alliance (barring intentional hostilities) with the changeling hive if White Tail Woods and Queen Aze, of 500,000,000 bits.

A: Huh. That seems like alot?

It's extortion!

M = Scary Minotaur! (My bad! I didn't know he was here!)

M: Princess Luna, is this Equestria's plan?

A: Wait, what's going on?

L: Please, allow us to explain. It was our sister's-

M: Explain nothing! A, Minos will offer an alternative to this outrage. We will enter an Alliance with you, in exchange for a small boost to our economy via trade.

B= Bird stallion! (Where do all these not-ponies keep coming from?)

B: The Griffon Empire will also ally themselves with you, A. We seek to rebuild our empire with your assistance, and we would be forever indebted by your assistance.

M: WTW will ally with Minos!

B: Nay, with Griffonia!

A: Um, Sirs?

L: No fighting in the peace room!

Lots of fighting, growling, and I got a feather! It's a nice feather.

L: *really loud* Cease thy actions at once!

Fighting stops, B/M/A all look suprised and upset.

L: Wait, why were you fighting, A?

A shrugs.

A: I figured if I defeated them in combat that they would listen to me?

L: We have become derailed. All gathered in favor of the solution that A will ally with Equestria, Minos and the Griffon Empire?

Four ayes, one abstain.

L: Celestia is not present, and you dont get a vote, D.

D: Awww.

Three ayes, none opposed.

Transcription by Derpy Hooves!

"Well. That went well!"


Edgey, meanwhile, was having a minor crisis.

He had no idea what to do with himself, now that he had achieved all of his (rather new) life's goals.

He had a house, he was ludicrously rich (due to his mother) and he had everything he could ever want.

Except love.

Nope, just kidding. Edgey was too metal to need a loving and compassionate relationship that would fufill his innermost desires of companionship and understanding in a way that nopony else would be able to compare.

He was partially constructed of every element known to exist, so he could self medicate.

What he really wanted was a hive of his own, to show his mother that he would make a great King Shadow Slaughter some day. The problem was two fold.

He wasn't a changeling.
Kings cannot lay eggs.

He could attempt to experiment on himself to change this, but he didn't want to upset his mother's masterpiece of alchemical genius (Himself).

He could possibly ask to use one of her eggs, but that would appear strange if he didn't explain why he needed it, as he wanted to suprise her.

Perhaps he could talk with Twilight Sparkle? She was there for his creation, so perhaps she could help.

Seeing no other alternative willing to come to mind, Edgey set off with saddlebags made from the flesh of his enemies (Cotton) and his alchemy supplies, and set off to find Twilight.


<Everyling, I have a problem...>

<Yes, our Queen?>

<What do I do now? We've successfully allied with Equestria, Minos and the Griffon Empire, but... what do I do now?>

<Why, you lead the hive, our Queen!>

<Yeah, I understand that. But where? Do we just sit around doing changeling things?>

<That is for you to decide, our Queen.>


<I have an idea.>

<Yes, our Queen?>

<Everyling, buy a toga. We're starting a democracy!>


"Everyling is gathered?"


"Everyling has their toga? It's crucial to democracy!"

"Yes, our Queen!"

"Wonderful! Let me tell you all why I've decided to form a democracy!"

"We can't hear you back here!" A voice called out.

Darn, worth a shot I guess.

<Fine, we'll hold the meeting in the hive mind.>

<Yes, our Queen!>

<Now! To business. I have created this democracy with one soecific goal in mind. What do we do?>

<Trade agreements with more nations!>
<Absolutely nothing!>

The last changeling got a few disapproving emotions sent his way, and he felt bad for a few moments.

<See if Celestia is alright?>

Murmuring within the hive mind.

<Actually, we should've thought about that sooner. Thank you for reminding me! I will be off to Canterlot, but come up with something to do by the time I get back!>

<Yes, our Queen!>

Oooh, this is perfect! Now I don't have to think as much!


Edgey had visited Twilight at her house/laboratory, and had several suggestions given to him. One that he took to heart was working music.

With this, he was humming along to his new favorite song, written by his Aunt Pinkie's dread pirates in celebration of their latest conquest of Beer Island. They had released an entire collection of their music via magical disk, pioneered by Vinyl Scratch.

His current focus was on deciding how he would begin his experimentation with alchemy. He needed eggs for this to work, and the only way he could do that without upsetting his mother would be to ask permission.

Maybe he should just ask via a letter? It's less personal, but he didn't feel up to a direct confrontation.

Screw it, letter time.

Dear Mother

I love the house that you've given me, and I finally have everything all settled.

I was hoping to get some help with my hobby, alchemical tampering.

I don't have anything to experiment on that provides a constant base template, and I was wondering if you would be willing to spare some of your eggs?

I fully understand if you are unwilling to part with them, but they would be an immense help.

A Thousand Thanks,
King Shadow Slaughter

There. Perfect!

Edgey sent his letter via magical laser, and waited for a reply.


"Princess Celestia?" I called, lightly knocking on her door.

"Celestia isn't home!" Celestia replied.

"I just want to talk!"

"Not here!"

This wasn't going anywhere productive.


"What If I made a problem so your ponies would forget everything that happened?"



"Did I say something wro-"

The door swung open to reveal a very distraught Celestia. Mascara was streaming down her face in an ink black river, her ethereal mane was tied in knots and had a brush sticking out of it, and she had bags under her eyes from lack of sleep.

"You'd really do that?"


"Just for my sake?"

I nodded.

"Queen Aze... I LOVE YOU!" She declared, wrapping her forehooves around me and lifting me from the ground in a twirl.

"Please stop! Crushing! Ack!

"Oh, right! Carapace..." She set me down and I checked myself for cracks. "My bad..."

"It's alright Celestia. If we can be friends then it will be worth it."


"Yes! We feed from harmony and friendship, remember?"

"But why me, specifically?"

"You're an alicorn of immense power?"

"So it's not because of my fiendishly good looks?" Her eyebrows danced.


A trail of smoke flowed through an open window in Celestia's room to me, and opened itself into a letter.


"What does it say?" Celestia asked.

"Its a letter from my Alicorn son, Edgey."

She grumbled.

"Oh! This is interesting."

"What?" Celestia walked beside me, and I showed her the letter.

"Oh~" Celestia purred. "Send him a hundred, and let me write the letter!" She grinned.

"This will make us friends, and cause you to feel better?" I asked.

"Definetly! Friends forever after this."


Dear Edgey (King Shadow Slaughter)

Thank you for letting me know how you're doing! I'm glad that you're settling in to your new home nicely.

About the eggs...

I'll be sending you a hundred!

I hope they will arrive at the same time as this letter, and that your experiments go well.

Queen Aze

Edgey couldn't believe his fortunes. He had been expecting flat out refusal or at most, a single egg or three. A hundred? He could nearly dedicate each egg to an element!

But that wasn't his goal. Edgey wanted to make his mom proud, and he would do so by making his own hive. All he needed to do was figure out how Queens were made, and bind one to his will, or turn himself into one.

Edgey put on his own pair of science goggles, turned on his most righteous tunes, and began tinkering with the eggs.


Dread Pirate Pinkie Pie sensed a disturbance, but it left her conflicted.

She knew that a great threat to Equestria was brewing, and only now would she have time to act on that knowledge... But that threat was making Edgey happy. It was naking Aze and Celestia friends, and it was giving thousands of changelings a purpose.

For the sake of harmony, she knew that she should intervene... But for the sake of her friends, she knew that it would be better for her to let them enjoy themselves.

"You better be loading that cannon with confetti mister!" She barked, catching one of her pirates in the act of loading her broadside party cannons with jagged glass and twisted metal.

"But, captain!-" he protested.

"No buts, mister! Get confetti for those cannons or no cake for you tonight!"


Pinkie's crew was in the process of boarding Mr. Fancy Pant's zepplin, as part of her housewarming present.

New Zepplin? House party!


"You're certain this will cause something to happen that will bring harmony to Equestria and abroad?"

Celestia had laid out a rather convoluted plan that relied on Edgey 'giving in to his true self' and causing chaos. She believed that due to the random chance of his creation, that he was unnatural and any actions he took would cause the universe to notice, and balance accordingly.

I was still concerned for his wellbeing. He might not have been a changeling in form, but he was still my son. One of them, at least. Yes, all of them are important!

Just because im going to have thousands of children doesnt mean i'll become a cold, heartless monster!

"I'm certain. All we must do now is adjust to the changes that your peace treaty has brought, and teach you how to not bring everything to ruin with your coin purse." Celestia replied. She was doing much better now that a clear, obvious doom was approaching on the horison, if obscured by the mists of time.

"Will you send Twilight and her friends to confront Edgey?"

She sipped her tea; peppermint this time. "Most likely. All that remains to be seen is when and how Edgey will act."

"I hope he's doing alright..."


King Shadow Slaughter pushed away the goggles from his eyes, using the blood red of his magic to grab a cloth and wipe the sweat from his forehead.

For some reason, his instincts told him to pick out two eggs, gather as many metal elements as possible, and infuse them with Arcanium. That magical crystal was something he had no experience with, but he didn't know how to explain what he was doing, only that it seemed right to him.

The two eggs he had chosen from the remaining sixty-three were of a higher gloss to the others. Their shells pitch black and resonating with their mother's magenta glow as if posessed. He checked over his notes, (Mostly arcane babble that meant nothing to him, but somehow eased his thoughts when he wrote them out and gave him comfort when he saw them) and readied himself to imbue the eggs with his own brand of magic and to give them life.

As Edgey focused his magic, the torches and braziers were snuffed out in a spectral wind. The stone floors of his mansion taking on a frosty coating and causing the various chains and bones that he had decorated with to rattle and clank together.

Intensifying his efforts, the color of the room began to fade, literally greyshifting and draining into the eggs as a great shadow began to swallow the room itself. Edgey's horn stood as a single beacon of life in the room, its bloody glow emitting a siren's call of enchantment as his spell wove the elements and life together as one.

The eggs themselves began to pulsate. Their inner glow began to match the bloody red of their king, and metal spikes poked through their shell. These spikes lashed out, stabbing into the granite floor and securing themselves against the growing winds of ghostly torment.

With a final effort, Edgey's magic exploded in a storm of energy. Whips of red magic flailing around the room, fighting before unseen dark spectres as they growled and hissed in anger.

As the spell began to dissipate into completion, musical notes could be heard coming from the eggs.

Picking himself up from the floor to greet the first of his own children, intense musical notes and the sounds of growling, combined with magically electrified guitars began to play, heralding the birth of their dwelling souls.

The first, one that he would name Vicerii, growled and roared with all of her strength as she broke free from her egg. The second, Mentelli, brought a molten blood tear to his eye as she announced her own birth with a shout that would make demons weep with pride.

Even better than this, his magics had accelerated their growth, and they remained changelings. But not just any changelings.

Changeling Proto-Queens.

Vicerri was dark as her father, her mane and tail brutally twisted and sharpened as the hairs that composed them had been transformed into daggers, arranged like feathers. Silver for the body, and gleaming gold at the edges and tip. Her eyes were a magma of orange and red, glowing like the blaze of a furnace.

Mentelli, for her part, was less brutal. This did not make her frail, however. Her body had reinforced itself with a runed metallic armor. Steel, silver and titanium had woven itself into intricate runes and designs around her chest and upper limbs, and her head was adorned with a horned crown of its own, fused with her body as symbolic of her role.

King Shadow Slaughter took both of his daughters in a fierce grip, proud partially of his accomplishments, but even moreso of the potential of his two beautiful daughters that he had given new purpose.

His mother was going to be so proud!


View Online

One thing that almost no being has a say in, is what they're named. This caused Edgey some fair amount of redicule and skepticism when he proclaimed himself an Alicorn, especially when his creation was brought up.

In addition to this, Mentii and Viccii, (He was having difficulty with remembering their names, and he blamed the memory he inherited from his mother) also disliked their names when they gained the ability to put thoughts to voice.

"I'm just saying that nopony is ever going to pronounce that name right." Mentii huffed.

"Mhm." Vicci added.

"And my sister barely speaks! She's even silent in the hive mind. She just sends whichever emotion she feels best represents her... Feelings. Wow. I mean thats nice and all, but words have a purpose too, you know?"

"Mhm!" Vicci nodded.

"Uhg! You're hopeless."

"So, I'm having a similar issue to you two as well." King Edgy Shadow Slaughter the horribly named added.

"Should we just come up with names for each other that we like?"

"Mhm." Vicci agreed.

"Well, how does the royalty get their name?" Menti asked.

"Celestia controls the sun, Luna controls the moon, King Sombra enslaved ponies and made them sombre, Discord is crazy, Chrysalis abducts ponies and puts them in chrysalis'." Edgey explained.

"Wow. That's like... painfully simple. So we just have to find what we're good at and name ourselves after it?"

"Well, Princess Cadance's real name is Mi Amore Cadenza. Her whole deal is romance and love. I think she became an Alicorn after some deeds though."

"Hmm." Vicci input.

"So... I'm good at singing, Vicci is good at being blunt and she's hyper protective, and you're good at alchemy."

"How is Vicci good at protecting?"

"She flung herself into a bear that snuck up on me while singing yesterday. Knocked it out, too."


Edgey and Menti both gave a suprised look to Vicci before recovering and continuing their conversation.

"Alright, so if you're good at singing, why don't we call you Queen Song?"

"Really? That's so bland though!"

"So is Princess Sun and Moon. And King Sad. And Discord."

"Fine, It's better than Mecci or Meci or Minty or whatever."

"Queen Minty?" Vicci suggested.

"Nope, I'm not going to be known as Queen Minty." Queen Song scrunched her muzzle at the thought.

"Okay, that's settled. What about Vicci?"

Edgey and Song observed Vicci, who was playing with a slab of bloodied meat.

"Where did she get that?"

"I have no idea, but I hope it wasn't from the bear earlier..."

Vicci raised the meat with her orange magic and skewered it on her bladed mane.


Song and Edgey both gave expressions of pleasant suprise in response.

"That's pretty fitting, actually. At least you look the part!" Song commented.

"So now we have Queens Song and Viscera. What about my name?"

"King Alchemy?"

Viscera hissed.

"Take that as a no." Song replied.

"Well, I was King Shadow Slaughter. How about King Shadow?"

"Sounds too much like Sombra."

"Aether?" Vicera suggested.

"Why Aether?"

"Well, alchemy is mythical by pony standards, and it sounds cool."


"Hey, its better than Edgey."

"That's true. I can kind of picture it, actually. Princesses Celestia, Luna and Cadance, Kings Sombra and Aether, Queens Song, Viscera, Aze and Chrysalis."

"Sounds like a Gala to me."

Viscera nodded with a smile.

"So it's settled! Queens Viscera and Song, Grand-daughters to Queen Aze. King Aether, son to Queen Aze. Sounds good to me!"

"But what do we feed off of? We know that Grandma Aze uses Harmony, Friendship and Generosity... What do we 'eat'?" Song asked.

"Well, what do you feel missing?"

Song thought a moment. "Joy, Suprise and Enthusiasm... The rest I can feel on my own, so I wouldn't need it?"

"That's as good a theory as we'll get until you meet Grandma. What about you, Viscera?"

"Pride, Safety and..." Viscera trailed off before shrugging.

"Guess just those two, then?"


"Well that explains why we havent starved yet. I can feel Pride and Joy just radiating from you whenever you see us. Pretty hearts-warming, honestly." Song and Viscera smiled.

"Daww, you two are the best daughters I could've hoped for." He pulled them into a hug, making an effort to avoid Viscera's bladed mane.

"What about Great Aunties Celestia and Luna?"

"Huh?" Aether replied.

"What do they think about us?"

"Oh... Well I haven't told them yet."

Song gasped. "We should throw a surprise party!"

Aether was having flashbacks about his Aunt Pinkie Pie, and zoned out as Song began to excitedly plan out a surprise party. Viscera nestled into her father for cuddles.


<Alright everyling, I've returned from Canterlot!>

<Welcome back, our Queen!>

<What've we all decided on?>

<We've organised into several parties. Hive, Commerce, Military and Diplomacy.>

<Wow, you've been doing good work!>

<It took us that long to group up.>


<However, each party has a specific goal in mind!>

<Alright, lets hear them!>

<Hive Party believes that we should expand underground and above ground to accomodate our growing population. Commerce believes we should contact Yak-Yakistan and Saddle Arabia to open trade routes, as we've discovered a rich gem vein in the forest. Military believes we should invest in durable armoring to enhance our warrior's longevity on a hypothetical battlefield. Diplomacy believes that we should contact the Dragonlands for a peace agreement, and that we should set up an embassy in our allies capitol cities.>

<What is stopping us from doing all of that?>


<I'm certain that won't be an issue. I motion that all of the above be implemented for the good of the Brood. Excellent work!>

A rush of pride, joy and accomplishment flooded the hivemind, and everyling immediately set off to accomplish their party's goals.

"I wonder if Celestia has things this easy?" Aze wondered aloud.


Princess Celestia was sitting in Day Court, doing her absolute best to maintain the myth of her legendary patience. All it really took was an excellent poker face and a practiced voice. What was immensely taxing her reserves of limited patience was a particular noble that nopony liked. A noble that complained for the sake of complaining, that would come nearly every day for the express purpose of complaining that they had shown up.


The name alone just makes you want to strangle the little-

"Princess Celestia, a letter for you."

Oh, thank myself!

"Thank you, Flash Sentry."


Blueblood went ignored as Celestia read the letter addressed to her.

You've been invited to King Aether's family reunion party!

Hope to see you there, Great Auntie Celestia!

Mystery Mares S and V!

King Aether?


Celestia spent the remainder of Day Court nodding and generally ignoring anything Blueblood had to say as she wracked her brain for which King that would be, and who would have offspring related to her.


Invitations had been sent to practically everypony that was important. Even Goose got a letter, and Spike himself was suprised to receive a letter as well. Dread Pirate Pinkie Pie had engaged her Party Boosters(tm) to propel her airship back towards Equestria, as the ship and its crew were relaxing at Beer Island.

Luna was practically bursting with excitement. This was her first social gathering since her return that she wouldn't be forced to sleep through, as her letter detailed it would take place from 4pm to 4am the next day.

As for what to wear, Luna decided to go with a functional yet stylish attire of silver and light blue hoof rings that glowed during the night. She wasn't certain what kind of party it would be, but her normal regalia was suited for anything. Add 'glow sticks', as the packaging label described, and she was perfect!


"Song, I just thought of something." Aethur mused.

"Huh? What's that?" Song replied, using her magic (a soft pink) to steady a carnival strength tester.

"How do you sing if you don't have lungs?"

This caused Song to pause, the tester rocking on its own until it sat upright. Song sang experimentally, testing different pitches and notes before realising something.

"When I sing, I feel a slight burning in my vocal chords, and my shell seems to resonate with my voice..."

"Your shell?"

She pointed to the metallic runed armor that she 'wore'. "Yeah. Shell."

A look of sudden comprehension dawned on Aether's face before he replied. "I guess that would make sense. You sing with magic, and your shell amplifies the effect. Do you know if you can direct it?"

Humming in thought, she took note of the strength tester's name. A wicked grin spread from ear to ear before she took a wide stance and belted out with all of her might towards her father.


Aether was sent hurling backwards as rings of condensed sound struck him like a hurricane, and he bounced twice before rolling to a stop. His ears were ringing from the noise, and he had possibly sprained a wing.

"That, was AWESOME!" He shouted as he trotted back to his daughter with a huge grin on his face.

"I want to do that again!" Song cheered, before her sister's hoof clamped over her mouth.

"Fun, but loud." Viscera used her other hoof to point. Following the hoof, Song spotted a small village whose occupants were wandering outside, wondering where the sound had come from.

"Oh." Song's ears folded back. "Welp, I'll save it for the party then!" Her cheer returned, and the two went about setting up their party's games.

Viscera was quite fond of the 'spinny wheel with throwing knives' one.


A party?

Queen Aze had been laying another clutch of eggs when her invitation came.

Dear Queen Aze,

Hey, Grandma!

King Aether (Edgey) has a special suprise for everybeing, and you've been invited to a party!

Everybeing who is anybeing will be attending, and you'll get the opportunity to meet your grand children!

There's gonna be games too!

Hope to see you there,
Mystery Mares V and S

Huh. Well, If Edgey wants to rename himself then I don't really mind. I hadn't expected him to actually survive his encounter with The Pink One, but I'm sure she had her reasons. As far as name changing goes, I think an Alicorn can call themself whatever they want.

I wonder if the hive got an invitation?

Actually, that would be rediculous. Theres already going to be alot of party goers, and adding an entire nation would be excessive.

"My Queen! You received a letter as well?" Gaius happily asked, cantering to the edge of the pool.

Oh grief.


"Your payment has been received in full. Tell me, what do you intend with the pool?"

Aether had purchased a massive chunk of Zebreca for a day, in exchange for a set of specially enchanted armor for the Zebrecan Legate. He was told not to worry about the implications of an undying warlord, as he would be able to stop him at any time in the future, barring balefire armageddon.

Seriously, who uses balefire anymore? So Pre-Nightmare Moon.

"I intend to have a pool party, obviously. Why would I purchase a pool and not play pool volleyball?"

"Your reasons are most abstract; Won't this pool be too compact?"

"Pfft, please. Part of the fun is going to be watching others while you wait your turn! We have a betting pool set up to gamble on the victor of each match."

"A pool for liquid I see, where is the other that you tell me?"

Aether facehoofed. "It's not a literal pool. You place bets, and the money goes into a large pile and is divided amongst the winners."

"Gambling on 'volley ball' appears quite tame. For you, I would consider it lame."

"Oh, nopony told you? It's enchanted to freeze the entire pool if it hits the water. We have a hot cocoa vendor set up next to the arena!"

Zecora had no words for this, and could only huff in reply.

"Hah! Got you!" Aether declared triumphantly.


This was obviously some kind of trap; Chrysalis was certain of it.

A random patch of land in Zebreca, dedicated to a 'family reunion' party, and she was invited?

It was probably Cadance and Stupid, trying to pull some kind of trick and capture her.

Well Chrysalis wasn't having any of it!

No thank you, 'Mystery Mare V'. The hive is perfectly fine where it is!

A changeling of her brood then lazily slumped to the floor, instinctually trying to fill the emotional void in itself with dirt that was lethargically hoof shoveled into its mouth.

Chrysalis sighed. "Alright, fine! We're all going to Zebreca for a party!"

"yay." The changeling wheezed.


"You sure inviting Chrysalis is a good idea?" Song asked her sister.

Viscera took a moment to reply. "The way I understand it, is that Chrysalis' actions caused grandma to engage in peace talks with Equestria. During that time, she transitioned into full Queenhood and re-invented alchemy with the help of ponies she would never have spoken with otherwise. During those formative weeks, she created our father, who in turn created us. For those reasons, if Chrysalis hadn't invaded Canterlot, we wouldn't exist. In my mind, that makes her family by default."

Song blinked, turning her head sideways to observe her sister in a new light. "Either you've been abducted and replaced, or that is the most I've ever heard you speak." Song then poked her sister. "Are you an impostor?"

Viscera shrugged in reply, and walked off towards the fridge.

"Nope, she's Viscera alright."


"Wait, why does she even keep meat in the fridge if she doesnt eat it?"

Song peeked around the corner to witness Viscera making sushi rolls.

"Weird." Queen Song muttered to herself, before leaving her sister alone and moving outside to continue decorating.


Dear Twilight Sparkle,

We understand if this letter comes as a surprise, but I have need of your magical talent.

I have two ponies very special to me that want to learn how to control their innate magic with finesse. I am told that you are the mare we needed to see.

In the attached letter, you will find coordinates and train tickets to assist your journey.

You will be compensated with knowledge of alchemy and enchantment.

Awaiting your reply,
King Aether
Temporarily in Zebreca

Twilight was indeed surprised. Firstly, that she had been requested by reputation to teach royalty, and secondly that there was a 'King Aether' she had never heard of, in Zebreca of all places.

Twilight usually didn't pack more than a collection of books wherever she went, but set off towards gathering what she would need for the journey.

There was no way she was going to pass up the opportunity for learning.


Pinkie Pie had been informed via the spotter in the pegasus perch of her airship that a large camp had been spotted off the stern. Putting her binoculars to use, she confirmed that Zebras were working in concert with three black coated ponies to set up what looked like a massive carnival the size of Manehattan in the desert.

"All hooves, prepare for landing!" She shouted, and her pirate crew scurried about the ship in preperation.

An alarm klaxon sounded as the turbines of the ship rose to an intense whine; the balloons deflating to lower the ship steadily down.

An appropriately sized dust storm from the ship's landing caused a few tents to topple over, and the turbines steadily cooled from their glowing red when the ship completed touchdown of the surface.

Readying themselves, all of Pinkie's Pirates stood at the exit ramp, waiting for the hatch to drop.

"Thirty seconds!" Pinkie shrieked, lining up mobile party cannons.

"Fifteen seconds!"

"Five, four, three, two, one..." She counted down. After one, the latches of the exit ramp burst open with a hydraulic hiss, and the ramp crashed down into the sand.

"Go, go, go!" She happily cheered, as the pirate crew roared in reply... only to come to a stop in front of three large and scary... Things.

The first one to the left had a mane and tail of daggers, her body a carapace of black and silver. Her eyes glowed orange and her fanged smile set the experienced pirates on edge. The center figure appeared to be a male alicorn, and his crimson mane, tail and eyes stood out against the contrasting black of his coat. This was countered somewhat by his attire, as he wore a fancy suit jacket with a silken red shirt and black tie. To the right, was an armored mare with runes that glowed a soft pink. Her eyes also were of the same color, and her mane and tail were straightened black, flowing in the breeze of the engines. She suprised the pirates when her voice echoed with a musical quality to it.

"Welcome to Party Planet, everypony!" She yelled, standing on her hind hooves and using her gossamer wings to steady herself as her forelegs spread to accent the unravelling banner that declared the camp as 'Party Planet'.

Pinkie Pie moved past the shocked pirates of her employ, her gaze falling to who she knew as Edgey.

"Edgey?" Pinkie asked, a tear of joy in her eye. "Did you really throw a party? Your FIRST party?"

Aether quickly trotted to his Auntie Pinkie, using a wing to scoop her away from the Pirates and his daughter who were discussing drinking games as an activity to hold.

"Auntie, I go by Aether now. I will literally pay you to never call me 'Edgey' ever again."

"Aww, but I liked that name." Pinkie pouted.

"Hmm... How about this. You, and only you, are allowed to call me Edgey. Only in private company, of course."

"That's fine with me, Edgey!" Pinkie chirped.

Aether knew he would regret this decision someday, somehow.


Twilight had just reached the end of her journey as her train pulled into a city that she hadn't seen before. The station she disembarked onto looked brand new; made from marble and silver. Looking around, she noticed Zebras and ponies running about, setting up games and tents as well as food stands.

As Twilight was standing there in befuddlement, she heard a familiar voice call out.

"Hey Twilight! Isn't this great?!"

She turned around to see Pinkie Pie walking alongside Edgey in a tailored suit.

"Edgey calls himself Aether now!" She explained.

Twilight tried to get her mouth to work, but no words would come.

"I'm glad that you accepted my invitation, Auntie Twilight." Aether said with a polite nod.

"Auntie?" Was all Twilight could say.

"Yep! I'm Auntie Pinkie, and then theres Auntie Fluttershy, Auntie Rarity, Auntie Rainbow Dash, and Auntie Applejack! They all got invitations too! His first party and he invited Everypony ever!" Pinkie cheered.

"Everypony?" Twilight's eye twitched.

"Everypony or being directly or indirectly related, yes." Aether explained.


Meanwhile, Spike had finished packing his bags.

"Twilight? I'm ready to go to the party!" He called.




"I'm just glad that so many of my invitations were accepted! I have a big surprise for everybeing, and I can't wait to show all of you!" Aether bubbled with excitement.

"Wait, didn't you need my help with something?" Twilight asked.

"Yes! I neex your help in teaching two mares how to teleport... Dramatically!"


"All flashy and impressive, yes."

Twilight sighed, dissapointed that she hadn't expected something like this. "Alright. Where are they?"

"Right this way!" Aether took both Pinkie and Twilight under his wings, and they moved through the camp.


"Lulu, does this dress make my flank look big?" Celestia asked her bored sister.

"Nay, Tia. It is most fitting."

"Ooh, nervous?" Celestia smirked.

"What does thou mean? We art perfectly fine." Luna frowned.

"Luna, you always go back to the old way of speaking when you're nervous or excited." Celestia smiled, tickling her sister's muzzle with a wing. "I think it's adorable."

"We are not 'adorable', Tia! We are ruler of the night!" Luna declared with a raised hoof, wind pushing it back slightly as their chariot flew towards the party's location.

Celestia wrapped a wing around her sister and began to tickle her relentlessly. "Go on! Show your sister how powerful and capable you are!" She cackled.

"Nay, Sister. Cease this at once!" Luna uncontrollably gigled. "We are the night!" She yelped, trying to resist Celestia's tickling.


Discord had been sent a letter, but he was still frozen in stone.


Chrysalis, and what remained of her brood, had run into a snag.

That snag being an entire opposing hive of changelings that they had stumbled upon while traveling to the party.

"What Queen leads you?" Chrysalis called to the black and magenta changelings, some of them heavily armored.

"Chrysalis?" A familiar voice replied.

She turned her head, wings buzzing with irritation. "Aze..." She grumbled.

"It IS you!" Queen Aze cheered, landing next to Chrysalis. "It's been ages!"

"Too soon." Chrysalis mumbled.

"How have you been? I heard about your attack on Canterlot! It's such a shame that attacking your nearest source of nourishment in a blind attempt to murder the pony that controls the orbit of the sun every day didn't work out!" Aze cheerfully needled Chrysalis.

"Dont remind me, Aze."

"Oh, but this whole situation can only mean one thing! Did you get an invitation too?"


Aze squee'd with glee. "This is going to be perfect! I've dreamed about this day since I was a nymph!"

Chrysalis tuned out Aze as flashbacks of a certain spontanious song came to mind, worsening her mood.


Twilight was having some difficulty with 'Mystery Mares S and V'.

Mainly it was the part were they wanted their teleports to be announced with a bolt of lightning instead of a flash of light. They had explained that they wanted to appear as if lightning struck and made them materialize from nothing as part of the opening event in the large stadium they had built. Somehow.

To be fair, Twilight had no idea how long this party was being planned, but it still made her uneasy to think that all of this was accomplished in such a short time.

"Alright, I want you to practice your lightning spells before we attempt to merge them with a teleportation spell."

She had set up several dummies made from copper wire and straw in order to practice control.

Mare S' lightning always sounded like the wailing of the damned when it struck, and Mare V's impacted with enough energy to immolate whatever she zapped. They had been practicing for at least an hour before S got impatient.

"You know what? I'm pretty sure we got this, Twilight." She huffed.

"Mhm!" Mare V agreed. She hardly said anything, which annoyed Twilight.

"Well, all thats left to do is combine your teleportation practice with your Lightning." Twilight agreed. She had been wirn ragged by the trip itself, the heat if the desert, and the magical exertion of teaching.

"Here goes!" S declared. Her horn pulsed and her shell glowed a bright pink as the runex activated, and she appeared across the tent in a bolt of lightning that set the roof on fire.

"Again!" V cheered, as Zebras scrambled to find water.


The big moment had finally arrived. Everybeing had settled down in the stadium after the slight panic of two entire hives of changelings decended from the sky, filling half of the stands in a sea of magenta, green and blue.

A stage had been built in the center, and Aether flew out to stand in its center.

"Greeting, everybeing!" He announced, several amulets augmenting the volume of his voice and some shielding his ears as well. "It's been a pleasure to organise this surprise for you all, and I'm very glad that you all showed up!"

Polite applause and stomping.

"Enough about me! Let me show you all why I invited you here!" He motioned to two stone platforms behind him. "In just a few moments, the suprise of the evening will announce the start of this night of celebration!"

Aether backed away from the pillars, balancing on his hooves and stretching his wings to maintain balance. "Introducing my daughters, QUEENS SONG AND VISCERA!"

Before the croud could react, two bolts of lightning stuck the stone pillars in synchronisation, scorching the point of impact. Standing proudly at the top of the pillars were the very excited Queens themselves, waving to the crouds.

Aze's hive burst into cheers and applause, causing Chrysalis' brood to join in out of confusion, as their Queen was dumbstruck by the thought of having two whole other hives to eventually contend against. The Minos and Griffon Empire sections applauded as well, their cultures making it an insult to not go along with the expectations of their host. Zebreca itself was a gossiping murmur of rhyming confusion, which quickly organised itself into proper cheers.

Equestria, however, was having a fit.

Not the average ponies; they were cheering louder than anybeing else, not really knowing what they were cheering for but caught up in the excitement all the same.

No, the ponies having an issue were the Diarchs and the Elements of Harmony. Who all collectively swore in Celestia's name. Celestia herself included.

"By my beard!" She gasped.

"Celestia's Sunny Flank!" Luna added, equally shocked.

After the amusing outbursts of the eight were concluded, they hesitantly applauded.

"Allright every being, let's get this party started!" Queen Song shouted, loud enough to drown out all of the applause.

This caused the changelings to take flight, racing the Griffons and Pegasus to the various rides as the ground walkers were left in the dust.

"Awesome." Rainbow Dash commented.

**Bonus Chapter: I'm not a changeling!**

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***Reader Beware. This chapter is seperate from the main story.***
***This chapter was written mainly as an amusing distraction.***
***Let me know in the comments if you would like more.***


<My Queen, we have a problem.>

This should be good.

<What's wrong, Gaius?>

<We have a changeling here that is claiming to not be a changeling. He says that he is 'human'?>

<I thought they went extinct? Didn't they all run off to fight dragons?>

I remembered some mentions of humans from the ageless knowledge of the hivemind. Queens had to be informed of everything if they were to succeed, after all.

<He says his name is Johnathan, and he 'wants the voices to stop.'>

Oh grief.

<Bring him to the throne room, Gaius.>

<Yes, my Queen.>


"I'm telling you that I'm not a changeling! I'm human! I'm supposed to be going on a date right now!" The not-a-changeling yelled at Gaius as they entered my throne room.

<Here he is, my Queen.>

<Thank you for your patience, Gaius.>

"Why do your eyes keep going dark?!"

"Johnathan, is it?" I asked.

He looked to me with suprise, before his face contorted into shock and disgust.

"What the heck are you?!" he shouted, backing up.

"There's no need for drama, Not-A-Changeling."

He scowled at me, squinting at me as if I'd light on fire if he tried hard enough.

"My name is Johnathan!"

"Of course. Would you mind explaining how you are clearly a changeling and yet not a changeling, Johnathan?"

This should be even better than I thought. He was just sitting there looking confused and worried.

"W-well I was driving on a stormy night, and-"


"Uh, yeah. In my car?"

I blinked. "You've lost me."

He growled in annoyance. "It's not important!"

"So what is important, then?"

"I'm not a changeling!"

"You've said this. Many times. The fact remains that you're a changeling despite how much you claim the opposite."

"You've got to fix this!"

"Fix what?"

"This!" He yelled, motioning awkwardly to himself with a forehoof as he tried to maintain balance.

Oh sure. Let me just wave my magic horn and make all the troubles in the world just vanish.

"I cannot do that." I stated simply.


Oh great, he's crazy and stupid.

"You did this to me!" He screamed.

"Calm yourself, Johnathan. Throwing a temper tantrum isn't going to fix your problems."

He huffed in anger, but he was silent at least.

For about five seconds.

"If you won't help me, then I'll find someone who will!"

He then awkwardly attempted to turn around, and tripped over himself.


That was perfectly eye-roll worthy.


Dear Princess Celestia,

You're going to get a laugh out of this.

Let me paint the scene for you:

Sitting on my throne, doing Queen things, when Gaius (One of my go-to changelings) tells me that theres someling screaming that he isn't a changeling.

Naturally, I ask Gaius to lead the not-a-changeling to my throne room so that I may speak with him.

Lo and behold, The epitome of angst stumbles in, yelling about 'Driving' and 'being on a date'. I ask him what this 'driving' is, and he babbles about something called a 'car'.

Anyway, he somehow expects me to magic away his insanity. On top of all this, he claims to be human!

Named Johnathan!

I hope you don't have to deal with this one, Celestia. He's a hoof-full.

Best Wishes,
Queen Aze
White Tail Woods Hive

"Princess Celestia?"

Oh no.

"There is a changeling here to see you. He doesn't seem 'all there', if you catch my meaning."

It's going to be one of those days, isn't it?

The 'Evil' Overlords

View Online

This is wonderful! Aether has a family of his own now, and he's already improving his relations with all the world powers!


Uh oh. Celestia looks upset.

And so does Luna.

And the Elements...

Well, might as well see what they're upset about.


"You can't be serious!" Twilight complained. Her friends stood behind her in relative unease as Twilight argued with her mentor.

Celestia was suprised that Twilight would go against her wishes so strongly, but it probably had to do with the work that she had gone through with Aze.

"Twilight, you know the threat that Aether and his daughters represent. We cannot allow them to cause terror."

Twilight pointed a hoof at the carnival, where changelings of seperate hives were hoof wrestling. "What threat?!"

"You may not see it now, but what would happen if Aether's daughters began to lay eggs? If their brood swept across Equestria, or even worse, allied with Chrysalis?"

"Queen Aze wouldn't let that happen! Why would they even ally with Chrysalis? She's the one that forced Aze to reveal her hive and beg for mercy!"

"I do not trust that Aze is as helpless as you think, Twilight. She secured an alliance with Equestria, Minos and the Griffon Empire within a month, and became a celebrity overnight. She could cause immense economic chaos with a whim, and she distances herself from directly assisting Equestria."

"Princess Celestia?" Applejack interjected. "Why don't we just ask Queen Aze if she'd ally with Chrysalis?"

"Why would you expect her to tell the truth?"

"Pinkie Promise." The 6 replied with degrees of enthusiasm.

Celestia barely held back a scoff. "You truely think she would hold herself to that?"

"Hello, everypony!" Queen Aze said suddenly, causing some to jolt with surprise.


"Why all the serious expressions?" I asked.

"Uh, nothin'." Applejack replied, hiding whatever expression she was making with her Stetson.

"Yep! Just talking." Twilight nervously added.

I probably would've left it at that, but their emotions nearly made me fall over from toxicity.

"You're sure about that? I can sense your emotions, you know."

Color Fast facehoofed in response.

"We're having an argument about your son, Queen Aze." Rarity explained.

"Oh? What's wrong?"

Celestia glared for a moment at Rarity before answering. "I am concerned that Aether and his daughters will cause great harm to Equestria if left to their own devices."

"Have you spoken with them?" I asked.

"Er... No." Celestia admitted.

"Seems fairly harsh and judgemental, Celestia. Not very harmonious of you." I needled.

Nopony, not even Celestia, was going to insinnuate that my Son and his daughters were a danger to anybeing just based from looks. If it came down to it, I know that Chrysalis bested Celestia in a fight, so I should be able to as well.

Just, not directly. I'm not built for that.

Still, grr!

"Um, Queen Aze?" Fluttershy asked. "Could we ask you a question?"

"Of course, Fluttershy."

"If you were an evil Queen with plans of world domination and enslavement, you would tell us, right?" She asked meekly, looking at my chest instead of making eye contact. Poor thing.

"You know that I cannot lie to the Bearers of the Elements of Harmony, or the Diarchs of Equestria, Fluttershy. If you six, or Celestia or Luna asked me a question, I could only tell the truth."

Yes, Pinkie Promises are a serious thing. No, you have no idea how much you just don't understand the severity of the situation.

"So, um... Are you?" Fluttershy asked, hiding behind Twilight.

"Am I what?"

"Planning to take over the world and be evil?"

The shell?

"Um, no? Why would I do that? I live off of friendship, harmony and generosity, remember? I'm practically allergic to being evil."

She visibly relaxed, and Twilight seemed to have a question.

"What about Aether, Song and Viscera?"

"Well, we haven't spoken with them today. Why don't we ask them?"

Celestia seemed annoyed at how things were developing, but gave Twilight the leadership role by remaining silent.

"That sounds like a plan!" Twilight agreed. "I'll just grab my notes, and we can go find them."

Pinkie Pie then chose this moment to announce, "Everypony, they have a BALL PIT!"

She then immediately jumped towards said attraction, and pretended to be a shark.


Celestia was left behind to wage an internal war of confliction.

It was the same pattern every time.

Doesn't look friendly? Probably evil.

Penchant for dramatic flair? Probably evil.

Suddenly created out of nowhere? Probably evil.

Causing change and upheveal on a grand scale? Probably evil!

So... What was the issue? Aether and his daughters fit all these critera, just as Chrysalis, Sombra, Discord and countless others had.

But Twilight was standing up to her for their benefit. Species were unifying that would normally be at each others throats, for the sake of party games and chocolate fountains!

If Twilight and her friends wouldn't use the Elements of Harmony, then who would?

Did they need to be used at all?

... If there's no crisis or impending doom, what... What do I do?

Celestia looked to a Minotaur with two changelings on each shoulder, the group laughing and playing a game called 'Test your Mettle'.

That gave Celestia an idea.


"Grandma!" Song cheered upon seeing Queen Aze and her great-aunties.

"Hello, Queen Song! My friends and I were eager to meet you after your wonderful entrance." Aze smiled.

"We'd also like to get to know you, too!" Rarity added.

"Oooh, wait, hold that thought one moment!" Song said as an idea came to mind, and she flew off with haste.

"Uh, that went well?" Rainbow shrugged.


"Think she's comin' back?" Applejack asked, looking around and seeing only party-goers.


"I'm baaaack!" Song announced, Aether and Viscera in tow.

"Oh! This is wonderful. Thank you for bringing your family here to meet us, Queen Song!" Twilight replied.

Song landed in front of Aze, Aether landed next to Applejack, and Viscera lightly touched down next to Fluttershy.

Who suprisingly didn't hide behind something upon seeing the bladed queen.

Fluttershy instead reached out a hoof, before realising it would be rude to touch somepony without asking, and saw that Viscera was looking at her. Halfway through neekly withdrawing her hoof, Viscera nodded with a pleasant (as could be managed) smile.

Gleeful comprehension dawning on the butterscotch mare's face, she happily pet Viscera.

Much to the bewilderment of everybeing else gathered, Viscera seemed to enjoy the attention.

"So..." Twilight began, in an effort to let the two have their moment. "That was quite the suprise!"

"We've been planning it for weeks!" Song agreed.

"At least two of them." Aether added.

"All this, in two weeks?" Rarity asked, the scale of the operation, let alone the time that would've been spent just organising and properly setting everything up, causing her newfound respect for the 'evil three'.

"Mhm!" Viscera added, now laying on her side and pawing at Fluttershy; the entire scene beginning to weird everybeing else out.

"That must've been pretty expensive." Applejack commented, taking into account the amount of workers required to run the attraction, in addition to the cost of the attractions itself.

"Oh, that's not an issue Applejack. Aether and now his daughters have access to my bank accounts. I'm even thinking of transferring ten million to each of them for their own accounts!" Queen Aze brightly added.

"Hey grandma, why don't you let your friends have some bits too?" Song realised.

"Oh! The thought completely escaped me. I was so caught up in managing the Hive that I never even considered." Aze looked to the Elements of Harmony. "Would all of you like any bits?"

All of them faced a sudden moral dillemma.

Rainbow Dash could use the money to pay her bills so she wouldn't have to work with the weather team, and thus could spend more time training for the wonderbolts. At the same time, however, she would be leaving Ponyville high and dry of their best weatherpony (not even bragging, it was just fact.)

Fluttershy could care for all the animals she'd ever want to, but it would leave little time for her friends and leave her unable to care personally for all the animals. Certainly she could remain with the animals she had currently, but with everything taken care of, what would there be left to do? Socialise? The thought made her shiver.

Rarity could open as many boutiques as she wanted, but that might also drive her competitors out of business by flooding the market with everything Rarity. Sure, she had wanted to be famous and one of the social elite, but she also enjoyed seeing the unique style of other artists. She also wanted to rise to the top of her own accord, although the offer was wonderful to have been presented in the first place.

Applejack could use that money. No doubt about it. Things on the farm were constantly breaking down, and it was a major source of stress to get the bits to repair everything and keep the farm running. She still enjoyed working the farm herself, and was a source of personal pride to see the orchard bearing fruit. She might not industrialize her orchard and have it taken care of by farmhooves, but she could also pay for Granny's hip and Applebloom's advanced schooling (if she wanted it.)

Pinkie Pie was already rich. Seriously, do you even understand how many bits are involved when baked goods and ponies are combined? On top of that, she was a pirate captain of an airship with complete crew! She already had more bits than she knew what to do with, so at best she would use the funding to throw parties for random ponies in Equestria that seemed sad. Although, if she did that, she would have no time for anything else. All things considered, she didn't need the money.

Twilight, on the other hoof, needed supplies. Paper, ink, quills, ingredients for both spells and now her alchemy hobby, Spike's... something. Twilight was pretty sure Spike needed bits for something. She was happy that she had remembered something about Spike, but that quickly vanished as she realised that she had left him behind in her haste. Maybe she could bring him back gifts and give him a vacation as an apology.

As all the ponies thought on their answer, their reply became a jumbled mess of, " No thanks/ Thank you, but I just can't/ I couldn't possibly ask you for such a thing/ That'd be a mighty big help, Queen Aze/ Thank you!"

Then all the ponies looked to their friends, wondering at their answer and why they wouldn't leap at the opportunity for free bits. Were they crazy?

Queen Aze in the meantime, had picked out each of their replies easily. She was used to thousands of voices speaking at once, after all.

"Very well, Miss Applejack, Miss Twilight. I will open accounts in your name for a total of one million bits each. I would give more, but Celestia scolded me the last time I gave too much money to charity. She said the organiser for the event nearly had a heart attack when the check cleared."

The ponies that had thought to decline the offer immediately reconsidered their position. After all, everypony needs a million bit backup plan, right?

The group spent a while discussing finances, before they returned to the reason for their gathering in the first place.

"So, this is awkward, but..." Twilight began, trailing off to find the nerve to continue her thought.

"Princess Celestia thinks you're evil." Aze finished with a perfectly executed eye-roll. Yes, changelings can roll their eyes. They have that glowing circle underneath the lens, remember?

Aether raised an eyebrow to that. Song snickered, and Viscera rolled over to let the other side of her be rubbed.

"Yep. Evil masterminds. You caught us, we surrender!" Song mocked, raising her forehooves in surrender.


The group had spent several hours catching up, discussing hobbies and generally getting to know each other.

Luna had enjoyed the venue known as 'The Rave' and found that her choice in attire went perfectly.

Celestia had spent her time organising a grand scheme that would set everything how it should be, in her eyes.

Goose had left his perch on Aze's horn, and attacked a cabbage merchant, because who sells cabbages in the desert?

Iron Will was using a stage to give a self-motivation seminar in front of a colossal roller coaster, allowing those with anxiety the force of will to enjoy themselves.

Ambassador Julius was enjoying the war games that were available, one called 'Ice Hockey'. He particularly enjoyed the part where a melee would occur when frustration ran high.

Prince Sta'abel and Zecora were discussing trade agreements, as their peoples had somehow never made contact before today. It turns out that Zecora was very well connected.

With everything going pleasantly, Celestia decided to enact her plan, and sent three letters off to find their mark.


Dear King Aether/Queen Song/Queen Vicera,

I face a serious problem.

By now, something should have happened that would give need to use the Elements of Harmony, but hasn't.

I know this will appear strange to you, but I require your combined unique abilities.

Despite my initial suspicions, I believe all of you to be pure of heart and intent, however, Equestria needs a villain.

I would like to enlist the three of you to be those villains.

To ensure my sincerety, and to honor the quirks of your Grandmother/Mother, I Pinkie Promise to not seal you in stone, or by extension, banish you in any way, so long as no permanent injury or death befalls my subjects. Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye.

I hope I did that correctly
Why am I thinking aloud on paper?

Awaiting your reply,
Princess Celestia
Solar Diarch of Equestria

P.S. Do not tell Twilight or her friends, or anybeing else.
P.P.S. Seriously, don't.


Aether was fairly surprised when he received his letter. Celestia herself was asking his daughters and himself to play the role of villain to Equestria. He didn't see the reason that Equestria would even need a villain, but perhaps being immortal was boring? He imagined centuries of nothing but meetings, board rooms and courts, listening to complaints day in and out.

Aether then decided that Celestia was completely justified in her need for entertainment, as the requirements of 'enlistment' deemed not to kill or cripple her subjects, thus turning the entire situation into a game.

Now... knowing his Equestrian History, theres one thing that always messes with the villain and causes their defeat.

The Elements of Harmony.


Queen Song took the offer as an opportunity to give her eventual hive a thematic direction. She was thinking of implementing her unique shell into her brood, abd having an army of excellent vocalists.

Queen Viscera thought of the situation and decided it was a form of protection, if completely roundabout and filled with circular logic.

If badguy, then fight badguy. Badguy lose? Wait for new badguy. Badguy win/escape? Fight again.

She also knew that Song and Aether would be extremely proud of her if she contributed, so she agreed to the terms Celestia had presented.


"Alright! I declare this as the First Meeting of the 'Evil' Overlords!"
Aether declared.

One of Aze's changelings, Hastur, was there for transcription. He didn't talk much.

First Meeting of the 'Evil' Overlords
7:37 PM

A = King Aether
S= Queen Song
V= Queen Viscera

A: Now, on to business. We've all agreed to the terms set by our 'sponsor', yes?

S: Yes.

V: Mhm!

A: V, this is an important meeting. Could you at least speak?

V: Kay.

A: Moving on! As I am the most informed on Equestrian history, I will point out the unifying factor of defeat for all villains up to this point. The Elements of Harmony.

S: You mean our great Aunties?

A: No, they're enchanted gemstones that annihilate impure souls and corruption. They are wielded by your great aunties, however. Each of them has a connection to one of the elements. Normally, we would steal these Elements and lock them away is a super secure location with dragons or giant snake monsters to guard them. However, all of that has been tried, and it failed miserably. Instead, we're going to put an advertisement in the paper looking for our 'Lost Family Heirlooms'. When some idiot eventually brings us these items, or more likely, we simply disguise ourselves and personally steal them, I will put two of each in our safety deposit boxes in the bank. I will craft look-alikes, and store them in the previously mentioned evil volcano or large tower with generic beasty.

S: Our safety deposit boxes?

A: Yes. They would have to break the law in order to access those, and they're way too morally conflicted with such an action as to actually become villains to stop us.

V: Greater good?

A: No, they would still feel horrible about breaking into a bank and stealing them, if they ever found out where we hid them.

S: So, what do we do when the Elements are ours?

A: I figured we could mess around with Ponyville, Aze never really liked the name of the place anyway.

V: Home base?

A: Oh! Right. I will have a large fortress embedded into a mountainside with harsh winds to deter any air travel, and have an extremely well guarded single path to said fortress. I will post lookouts with good visibility to message the rest of our armies of intruders.

S: Armies?

A: I'm going to accelerate your growth a bit, in order for you both to start laying eggs. In the meantime, I will recruit Minotaur and Griffon mercenaries. Opposable thumbs are rediculously useful.

V: What about the beasty?

A: What do you mean?

V: Get a big snake, and give it protective goggles.

A: Why?

V: Eyes are squishy.

A: Oh, I suppose that makes sense. Actually, we should've thought of that. I'm going to abduct some random orphan foal from Ponyville and add them as an advisor.

S: Should I even ask why?

A: Because they might spot something we've overlooked, of course.

V: We got really evil, really fast.

A: What makes us evil? We're indirectly giving everypony in Ponyville a new home, safeguarding the Elements against actual threats, and adopting an orphan by force.

S: That... Okay, yeah. Let's go with that.

A: All in agreement of our plan?

All ayes.

A: Meeting adjourned!

Transcription by Neutral Third Party.


Dear Princess Celestia,

We accept your request.

We would also like to know the location of the Elements of Harmony, and any other magical artifacts that may intentionally or accidentally harm us.

In the event of a real threat to Equestria, we will return these items immediately. Cross all our hearts and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in our eyes.

Thank you for your assistance in advance,
The Evil Overlords
Undisclosed Location

P.S. We would like formal adoption papers for an orphan in Ponyville. Young but able to speak is preferred.

That... went far better than Celestia had expected. The request for adoption was odd, but as far as requests went, at least taking the Elements would convince Twilight and her friends of their 'evilness'.

Now for another letter.

Dear Twilight Sparkle,

I will be sending both you and your friends your respective elements for safe-keeping. I trust your knowledge of both alchemy and magic to ensure their safety more than my own, which Discord easily bypassed.

Princess Celestia

There! Now for the other letter.

Dear Evil Overlords,

I will be sending the Elements to Ponyville. Each element will be in the care of its owner.

Twilight may attempt enchantment and alchemical protections, so you must intercept their delivery or retrieval will become difficult.

Princess Celestia.

Aaand, send!

Celestia then floated the letters one by one, to be consumed by a lit dragon scale.

Dragonfire Instant Messaging is the best.


Queen Chrysalis, in the meantime, was having problems of a different sort. Ponies would trot up to her, browse through a pamphlet, looking between the paper and herself, and then promptly give her a hug.

This was confusing in a great many ways. First of most, is that it fed her hunger. She should've only gained nourishment from love, but their feelings of affection sated her hunger. This lead the Queen to reconsider her plans, as she was thinking of abducting party-goers to steal the love from their memories.

Her train of thought was thoroughly derailed when two ponies trotted up; one holding a business card with their magic.

"Why hello there, Queen Chrysalis!"

"Can we interest you in a fine business venture?"

"Sure... Why not. This day can't get any more rediculous."

"Ah! We were hoping you'd be open to having a few words."

"Words like: Changeling Dating and Cuddling Service!"

"... What?" Chrysalis deadpanned.

"Think of it! Ponies in need of their perfect match, and shapeshifters able to be anypony, for the right price!"

"And, you and your changelings are well fed in the process!"

That seemed like it could actually work, but... "Why?"

"Why do we offer, you ask?"

"We'll tell you why!"

"We're the world famous Flim-Flam brothers; Salesponies on the cutting edge of the market!"

"What nopony else will touch, we make a fortune out of!"

"And as a unique business opportunity, we're offering you the chance to be our partners!"

"And what is stopping me from taking your idea and using it on my own?" Chrysalis grinned.

"Merchant permits!"

"I have one. Thank you for the idea, Flim. Flam." Chrysalis nodded to each pony, before chuckling to herself and walking away from the two salesponies.

Some ponies are just too easy.


"Hello, everybeing!" I announced as I walked into a tent with Aether, Song and Viscera all present, and radiating suprise and shock for some reason. "You dissapeared on me!"

"M-mother! Hey! How are you?" Aether awkwardly bumbled.

"It's hot outside, but it's even hotter in here! What are all of you doing in here, anyway? The fun is out there!" I pointed with a hoof towards a noisy building named 'The Rave'.

"Nothing evil or dastardly, I assure you." Aether replied.

I would trust him if they weren't all on edge. "Alright, what's wrong? Is something stuck in my fangs?" I licked my fangs for show, as I don't eat.

"Grandma, nothing is in your fangs." Song finally spoke.

"Alright, then what is it? What's the big secret?"

"Mercenaries for Celestia. Pretty fun." Viscera stated with some excitement.

Song and Aether glared at Viscera in response.

"That sounds like it would be interesting. What does she have you do?"

"Test the viability of her structures, procure new housing for ponies and run an orphanage." Viscera explained.

"Wait, you were all scared I woukd find out you were a public servant?"

"Uh... Yeah! Eheh... That." Aether said uncertainly, scratching his face with a wing.

"Well, you three be good! I'm joining Luna at the Rave!" I declared, using my magic to hook glowsticks between the holes in my hooves and around the leg itself.

Honestly, it's like we were designed with glow sticks in mind!

'Evil': Help Wanted!

View Online

Have you been shunned by society for deeds you've comitted?

Is your cutie mark incompatable with today's social structure?

Do you want to serve yourself, and those you care about?

Look no further!

The Forces of Eviltm are here to help!

Simply tear off a slip of this advertisement, and you will be given an interview!

If you are adversely affected by magic, teleportation, sudden displacement, vertigo, claustrophobia, or have a fear of changelings, we have excellent psychologists and physicians on standby to assist!

Take charge of your life, and others, today!

Garotte, eight times arrested in attempted strangling charges (a complete misunderstanding!) took notice of the advertisement before her. It seemed like a trap. Who would call themselves The Forces of Evil, and then talk of community service? Also, teleportation and an instant interview? It looked too sketchy to even be truthful, but Garotte was completely bit-less. She even wore tattered rags to non-verbally communicate her complete absense of funding. She couldn't get a job anywhere because of both her record, and her cutiemark of piano wire in a circle.

She really liked hugging ponies, but they always got the wrong idea.

Garotte decided she had relatively little to lose, so the grey coated unicorn decided 'the hay with it'.


They weren't kidding about the disorientation. That felt weird.

Shaking her head free of foreign magic (meaning magic that wasn't her own, not as if magic had immigrated with different customs), Garotte found herself in a well lit and cheerfully decorated waiting lobby. There were cushioned seats, sky blue in color and actually comfortable. The walls were a pleasant shade of dark blue with white clouds painted on, and the carpetting was a grassy green. Actually, it was grass. How'd they manage that?

Finding herself as the only pony present, she took note of a nearby door marked 'Cleaning room' with a picture of a mare with a head towel. There was a stallion's stall to the right, and matching rooms for griffons, minotaur, changelings and even one for bison! She used the opportunity presented to at least get herself a free shower, and pushed her way through the swinging door to have her jaw drop.

It wasn't a shower room with lockers as she had expected. It was a full blown spa.

"Hallo! How may ve help you today?" A germane accented mare chirped from behind a counter. Garotte gulped and walked to the front, taking in the massive array of available treatments, all of which were completely free of charge.

How do they pay for this?

"Is there anythink in pahticular you vould like, dahling?" The mare asked.

"U-um, what do you... recommend?" Garotte replied, taken aback by the surreal experience and still trying to come to terms with this actually happening.

"Oh, vell why dont we just go through everything we have to offer? It's free, and you'll want to feel relaxed before you meet our 'Evil Overlords'." She winked.

Being evil comes with a free spa? I'm already sold on that alone!

"Sure! That sounds great." Garotte smiled.


"Adding the spa was a wonderful idea, Viscera." Aether praised.

Their recruitment efforts had gone well enough, but the beings that had accepted the invitation for an interview were already the abused and forgotten members of society. The waiting room had made them suspicious, and some decided to leave when they found out that it wasn't a prank.

Adding the spa changed all of that. Sure, some would maintain the tough shell and refuse the pampering, but after awhile their own stench fought with their desire for creature comforts and their will to resist quickly imploded.

"Life is hard. Why not make it a bit easier?" was Viscera's reasoning.

"Well it's well worth the expense, especially considering we only had to pay 5,000 bits to each of the workers and provide food and housing. Now they can get whatever they want for life, and enjoy their work free of stress!"

"What about that new mare that showed up? The grey unicorn. She looks different from the others that have shown up. She doesn't seem as hardened as the others." Song noted.

The three Overlords took notice from their position of observation, a one way mirror, and spotted the mentioned mare.

Soft blue eyes, grey coat, mane of blended white and black. Unicorn.

"What makes you say that? She seems pretty standard to me." Aether replied.

"That's just it. She doesn't seem like a villain."

"Maybe she's unfortunate?" Viscera suggested.

"Hmm... I didn't think about recruiting the poor or disabled. We should do that, shouldn't we?"

"I think that having blind guards would be cool! They could fight in the dark or in smokey areas where the regular Legions of Terror can't. Oh, and deaf guards could counteract the Thestrals! It's hard to screech somepony helpless when they can't hear you, after all."

Aether clacked his hooves together. "Alright! It is decided. We will broaden our horisons to the poor, disabled and forgotten of Equestria."

"Orphans?" Viscera brought up.

"Oh! Right..." Aether pondered a moment before an idea struck. "We'll open an Orphanage of Evil!"

"How is it evil?"

"We'll teach them basic life skills, and the laws of Equestria. They'll never need a lawyer because they'll already be a lawyer, and they can do everything that the 'normal' ponies can't, like balance a checkbook and cook!"

"So our orphans will be an army of self accomplished and independent lawyers?"


A nearby guard shivered at the idea. They truely were evil overlords.


Garotte had reluctantly finished the last portion of her scheduled spa day some hours later. She felt cleaner than ever and completely relaxed, though the thought of an interview was giving her some jitters.

'What if they don't think I'm evil enough? What if the spa was a test? Oh no! Did I already mess up?!'

Reinforced double doors then swung inward, and a guard walked toward her. The guard in question was a well built minotaur, armor of some unseen design covering his chest, shoulders and thighs. It was etched with glowing runes with mysterious purpose to Garotte, who had never really put a focus on her magic to begin with.

"The Overlords will see you now." He commented with a pleasant voice, throwing off Garotte's expectations.

"Th-thank you!" She stammered nervously, quickly moving past the minotaur that was three times her size.

She walked into a lavish office with three chairs facing the opposite wall, their backs towards her. The floor was a soft carpet of white, accented with a crimson rug. The rest of the office appeared to be a library of sorts, with shelves and books everywhere. Garotte observed all of this while taking the seat provided and patiently waiting.

"So, you wish to join the Forces of Evil?" A male voice asked from the center chair.

"Um... Yes?"

"You don't sound too sure of that, Ms. Garotte." A soft feminine voice to the right accused.

How do they know my name?!

"I'm pretty sure!" Garotte insisted, steeling herself so she didn't appear weak.

"Only 'pretty sure'?" Another female sounding voice teplied to her left.

"Well, If I'm being honest, I don't have any other options." Garotte confessed.

"So, you're not a bloodthirsty murderer or raging psycopath?" The left voice sounded dissapointed.

"You wouldn't kill a foal while they slept?" The right asked.

"You wouldn't injure somepony to the point that they begged for death?" The middle sounded upset.

Garotte could lie, and say she could do those things, but she would never be able to live with herself if she actually had to.

"N-no... I'm sorry, I can't do those things." Garotte wilted.

The three chairs spun, revealing Queen Song, King Aether and Queen Viscera.

"You're hired." The three said in unison, a smile spreading across their faces.


"We should do that more often, her reaction was priceless!" Song giggled.

The three Evils were exiting the interviewing room, having just arranged living quarters and payment for Ms. Garotte.

"This is going along very nicely. I'm very fond of the fact that we haven't been harassed by the authorities of any nation thus far as well." Aether mentioned.

"Why bother us? We haven't done anything illegal." Viscera pointed out.

"True. Just because we call ourselves evil doesn't give anybeing the right to descriminate." Aether grinned.

"Shouldn't we go to Ponyville to pick up that orphan before we 'attack'?" Song questioned.

"Oh! I completely forgot about that. Do we have the adoption papers from Celestia?" Aether asked, patting his suit jacket in search of documents."

"Mhm!" Viscera hummed, holding said papers in her mouth.

"You know you have magic, right?" Song asked, tugging at the papers with her own magic as an example.

"Grr!" Viscera was behaving like a dog, the paper her bone.

"Viscera, please. This is serious."

She let go, pouting.

"Alright," Aether annouced, unravelling the scroll. "Let's see who we're adopting..."

The three read through the document, before a familliar face greeted them.

"Didn't Grandma say something about that one?"

"I think I've seen her before."

"Well, she'll be a hoof full all right."


Scootaloo, whose parents were perpetually absent, wasn't actually an orphan. Her parents were alive and well, and did what they could on their time off, but they were gone so long that everypony just assumed she was an orphan by default.

To her suprise, she now had two more mothers and another father, as CFPS, (Celestia's Foal Protective Services) had deemed her constantly absent parents as 'unfitting parents.'

Scootaloo would've been distressed by this if she didn't already agree with the declaration.

With that, she began packing all of her belongings, (a helmet and pads, backpack for said things, a picture of Rainbow Dash, and her scooter) and set off for the trainstation to the Citadel of Evil.

She would ask her new parents if Applebloom and Sweetie Belle could visit.


Garotte stood in line with several other ponies, all freshly pampered from their visit to the spa. A common theme was amongst them. Their cutiemarks hinted at talents that would make more 'standard' ponies be harsh or judgemental of them. Their marks ranged from daggers to crossbows, and one even had a fireball as their cutiemark.

Her inspection of those around her was interrupted by a soft clinking of metal. Overlord Viscera, also known as Queen Viscera, rounded the corner with an impassive expression.

"You all chose to join?"

Most nodded, some verbally confirmed with variations of yes.

"You want to survive being 'evil'?"

More verbal response.

"I will teach you. Unicorns, move to the left. Pegasus to the right, Earth Ponies stay where you are."

The ponies seperated, Garotte moving left. Viscera adressed the Pegasus first.

"All of you will be trained as shock troopers and specialist capteurs. Go through the door on your right."

The pegasus did so, some confused about the bluntness of the Queen. Viscera then moved to the Earth Ponies.

"You will focus on machinery, golem repair and heavy hitting. Go through the door behind you."

Viscera then looked to Garotte and the remaining Unicorns.

"You will focus on spell based combat, healing magics and recovery efforts." Viscera then held Garotte in a field of orange magic, startling the rest of the ponies gathered. "The rest of you may exit left."

They did so, though some were concerned for Garotte's safety.

"D-did I do something wrong?" Garotte asked nervously, unable to move.

"No. Special assignment." Viscera smiled, taking Garotte with her.


As it turns out, Garotte's special assignment was picking a filly up from the trainstation. Her interview had gone so well that the three Overlords decided she would be suited better in more peaceful roles than the other recruits.

This suited Garotte just fine, as she was a lover, not a fighter. Her hugs could've fooled anypony, however.

The Citadel of Evil's train station was suprisingly welcoming. They had hired greeters of every species they could for newcomers, and even had a gift shop and opera house for tourists. In addition to that, they had shirts with a picture of the Citadel on its snowy mountaintop with the classic, 'I went to the Den of Evil, and all I got was this fantasic memoribillia!'

Garotte's training was to begin after her special assignment had been completed, which was to bring an orange pegasus filly with a purple name (Identified by photo) to the three Overlords.


+Train from: Ponyville; Arriving at: Station, Six.+ The cheerful station golem announced with an upbeat and melodic voice.

Garotte was still getting used to the various forms of life brought about via enchanted gemstones and alchemical tinkering, but at least they weren't death machines. They mainly fufilled utility purposes, as well as doing tasks that nobeing else wanted to. They weren't designed to mind, however.

As the train pulled up, Garotte noticed something odd. The filly was perfectly alright, but she was walking alongside a wild, soft purple maned changeling with glowing magenta eyes and four wings, with a duck on her horn. Recovering enough to do her job, she caught their attention by waving her hooves.

"Over here!" She shouted.

The two took notice, and trotted over.

"Can we help you?" The changeling asked. Now that she was closer, she noticed that the changeling was Celestia's height. Her mane attempted to look defined and regal, but ultimately looked messy as sections of her mane would go where they wanted. Her tail was similar.

Looking up to adress the large changeling, Garotte began to lose her nerve at the sight of its fangs. "U-uhm... I'm here for s-scootaloo!" She forcefully stammered past both her anxiety and fear.

"Oh, you poor dear." The changeling cooed, wrapping a hoof around Garotte's withers. "There's no need to be frightened! I'm called Queen Aze, and you already know this filly's name."

"I'm Scootaloo!" The filly helpfully affirmed.

Garotte took a deep breath to steady herself before replying. "Thank you, but I've been told to take Scootaloo here to see the Overlords..."

"That's what they're calling themselves these days? Rascals." Aze smirked. "Well, lead on!"


"It will be fine! They're my son and grand daughters, after all." She winked.

Oh no, what would she think of them being evil? Does she know?

"Come on, I'm going exploring!" Scootaloo announced, her protective gear adorned.

"Come~ing!" Aze musically responded.


I was really getting 'the hang' of all these expressions! I was so proud that the mare I just spoke with didn't seem weirded out by my choices.

Apparently, wiggling your eyebrows at somepony is either part of their mating ritual, or some symbol of cult activity. The looks I recieved, sheesh.

Anyway, I was on my way to the Citadel/Den of Evil, (Cute name,) when I encountered Scootaloo on the train ride there. She was suspicious of me, recognising me from the first night we met, (my changelings subduing them in resin) and radiated unease.

So, I took it upon myself to make a friend, and we began conversating. Her parents were alive and well, but nopony in Ponyville had actually seen them. CFPS, under orders from Celestia herself, decided to register her as an Orphan and send her to the Den of Citadels of Evil, or whatever.

I would later be told that Scootaloo's parents were too busy doing whatever it is that they do, to show up for court and explain their circumstances. I personally think it worked out well for everypony. My son and grand daughters get a new family member, I get a great grandchild, Scootaloo gets parents and siblings that are physically there to actually care about her, and she gets everything material she wants. I'll have to remind Aether about her desire for her friends to be with her, however. Poor filly was sad the entire trip because she couldn't be with her fellow 'crusaders'.

I later caught up to Scootaloo, with the mare named Garotte (We also began conversating while chasing after the filly) outside of the 'Interview Chamber'. It was either where there office was, or a very strange place to first meet your new charge. Honestly, interviewing a filly?


Garotte was out of breath, having chased the filly of endless energy and a changeling queen with no apparent need to breathe. Seriously, she wasn't breathing! She just flew or ran past, always talking and trying to learn more about the place. I think she only paused to give tge impression she needed to take a breath in the first place!

"Scoota...loo, you need... To slow down" Garotte huffed, steadying herself so she didn't collapse on the linestone floor.

"Aw, but my new parents are through there, and I wanna meet them!" Scootaloo protested.

"Scootaloo, how would it represent poor Garotte here if it looked like she was unable to perform her job? She was sent to make sure you safely arrived here, and if you burst through the door while she's out of breath and looking like a mess, they may fire her." Queen Aze explained.

"Oh... I never really thought about that. Sorry, Ms. Garotte." Scootaloo meekly apologised.

Did the Queen just save my flank?

"Thank you for understanding, Scootaloo. Apology accepted." Garotte replied, having caught her breath.

"Now, is everypony ready?" Aze asked.

"Ready for what?"

"To meet your Parents, and your great grandmother!" Aze cheered.

"Wait, who?" Scootaloo asked.

"Me, silly filly!"


The Overlords could hear their conversation through the door, and decided to meet their new child outside rather than having them walk in. Queen Aze being present was a great suprise, and Garotte had performed as well as expected when it came to fillies.

"Overlords! I apologise for how long it took to get everypony here. I should've-" Garrote attempted to apologize, before being cut off.

"Ms. Garotte," Aether interrupted with a raised hoof, causing Garotte to 'meep' in alarm and shut her mouth, "Please. You performed exactly as needed. No apologies or excuses are needed." He lowered his hoof and gave a warm smile. "Your room is ready for you, as well as an appointment with our tailors for your uniforms. After you visit them and have your measurements taken, you have the rest of the day off to get settled. You will be expected to report back to our office tomorrow at nine A.M."

Garotte was taken aback by the lenience of 'Evil' overlords, expecting to get hurled across the room by magic or choked out. She wasn't complaining about the lack of abuse; it was just unexpected.

"Thank you, Overlord!" She bowed.

"Ms. Garotte, please." Aether sounded annoyed. Garotte quickly stopped bowing, and looked even more distressed that she had done something wrong. "Calm yourself, Ms. Garotte. You're in a better place now, and nobeing here will harm you. If they do, we will deal with them personally. However, the same rule applies if you harm anybeing else."

"Y-yes, Overlord!"

"Call me Aether, Ms. Garotte."


As Garotte left, Aze suddenly spoke up.

"You make me so proud, Aether!" She then hugged him, her carapace providing no quarter against his fleshyness, and compressing organs.

"Mother! Squishing!" He complained.

"Oh! My mistake. I've been practicing all these expressions that mammals do, and Twilight told me of 'the hug'. I figured I would try it out, but I think I went too far."

"It was a good hug; I just prefer all my organs to work afterwards." He smiled.

Scootaloo, meanwhile, was weirded out by the entire experience. Aether, her apparent new father, and Aze, her now great grandmother, were an Alicorn and a Changeling Queen (respectively). What the hay is going on?

"Scootaloo, is it?" Aether asked, adressing the filly.

"Yeah. Are you my new dad?"

"That I am. You have new siblings as well! Come, I will introduce you to Queens Song and Viscera." He then used his wing to scoop the filly into his back; Aether informing her of her new life and Scootaloo taking everything in stride.


After everybeing had gotten settled in, Aether took Scootaloo to a planning session for their 'attack' on Ponyville. She was to be an advisor, after all.

The plan had already been laid out, and simplified so Scootaloo could understand what was happening.

"Wait, why are you going to burn everypony's home?"

"So Queen Aze can give them better, newer homes afterwards." Aether explained.

"What about all their favorite stuff? Won't that get burned too?"

"Oh... We totally spaced on that." Queen Song realised.

"How do we fix the oversight?"

"Take all their stuff and put it someplace before you burn everything?" Scootaloo suggested. She had really taken to her role, after realising she could get a cutie mark in 'Evil Advice'. She wasn't sure it was a cutie mark she wanted, but it was something.

"Where would we get the time to run everypony out of town, steal the elements, loot the place, AND burn everything before the Royal Guard showed up?"

"Or our Great-Aunties." Viscera added.

"Wait, you're all related to Rainbow Dash and her friends?" Scootaloo gasped.

"By extension of Pinkie Pie, technically." Aether explained.


"We could use the golems as the pillagers, Pegasus as the civillian extraction team, and the earth ponies to drive off our Aunties. The unicorns can be spread through all the groups as support." Song reasoned.

"What of the Elements themselves?" Aether asked.

"Well, we have to do something, don't we? Most important task for the most important!" Song cheered at the idea.

"What if they capture you?" Scootaloo asked.

"Hmm... I would be an idiot if I didn't account for that. Twilight and her friends might not be immensely powerful without the elements, but since we're not being legitimate villains, we have to play with velvet hoofshoes behind our wings. If we injure anypony, we take them with us to be healed. If one of us needs to be captured, we need to decide who stays behind. We can't let anypony know that we're not actually evil." Aether said.

"You're not?" Scootaloo asked with raised eyebrow.

"No. This is pretty much a grande entertainment. Pinkie Promise us you will tell nobeing of this."

"A Pinkie Promise? Really?"

Aether was deadly serious. "Yes."

"Uhg, fine. I promise to never tell anybeing that you're not evil. Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye." She lowered her hoof from her eye. "There."


"Always remember, never break a Pinkie Promise." Viscera warned.

Coming from the usually serious mare, Scootaloo looked at her promise with a new light.

If she thought it was a big deal... It probably was.

Being Evil and You!

View Online

Evil Henchbeing's Guide to Being 'Evil'
By Queen/Overlord Viscera

Welcome to the Citadel of Evil.

If you do not have your Identification card, please see Dr. Finger Print immediately.

The first thing you should be aware of as a new hire, is where the bathrooms are. Being Evil does not grant you permission to spread illness and disease through poor hygiene. Bathrooms are located towards the center of every floor of the Citadel. Washrooms and showers are located in your personal quarters.

If you do not have personal quarters assigned, please see Being Resources.

Additionally, you must be aware of your role within the Citadel, as well as your co-worker's. Security through familiarity. If you see somebeing behaving suspiciously, DO NOT investigate the matter personally. Discreetly allow the being to continue and sound a silent alarm that will be near your workstation or post. If any of your equipment malfunctions, please sound the silent alarm and inform your superior.

Informing your superiors of equipment malfunctions will not cause anything undesireable to occur to you. Efficient workings of this Citadel are rewarded. Concealing broken or malfunctioning equipment will result in disciplinary action taken by the Overlords themselves.

For this reason, should any of your personal equipment, including armor, weaponry, runic communications devices or tools, or any other issued gear ever malfunction, please inform Quartermaster Shipping Service. He will thank you for your honesty.

If you find that your equipment is of poor fit, cannot withstand a single attack, or leaves you perilously vulnerable, contact Forgemaster Metal Alloy. Our equipment is designed to carry you through a battle if injured. A wounded employee cannot enjoy their new life under the Wings of Evil if they are bedridden.

Likewise, all headgear and visors should not impair your visibility or hearing. Please contact Forgemaster Metal Alloy if it does.

Physical training and marksmanship/spell practice is mandatory!
The forces of Evil cannot afford to become complacent. The Forces of Good will more than likely train their entire lives to fight us, and we cannot afford to slack.

If you are unable to hit a pony sized target at 10 canters, you will be transferred to a less motor skill intensive occupation.

Notes: Prisoners

Although it is unlikely, there remains the possibility of holding prisoners within the Citadel.
These steps must be followed to ensure the safety of all.

1. All prisoners will be guarded by a member of the same sex. This limits, but does not eliminate, the chance of a prisoner attempting to seduce the guard.

2. All guards will keep their keys secured in a safe. You will not keep the keys on your being. Prisoners have a habit of distracting a guard and freeing themselves when the opportunity presents itself.

3. All high profile prisoners will have the keys to their cell given to the Overlord(s).

4. If the prisoner appears to be free of their cell, do not open the cell to investigate. Sound the silent alarm amd report your suspicions. A false alarm is better than no alarm until its too late.

5. Do not flirt or interact with the Prisoner. They are not attracted to you. They are manipulating your emotions and they should feel ashamed of themselves for not seeing you as a being with emotions.

6. All cute/furry/adored animals, companions or side kicks will be secured in a seperate cell and rendered unable to move via rope, chains, straps and bindings. Do not underestimate the effects these beings have on the hero.

7. If a prisoner tells you to duck, duck. Do not attempt to call their bluff. At best, you look like a fool. At worst, you suffer traumatic injury and will be hospitalised.

8. If a prisoner is sick, call for a trauma team and backup. Do not open the cell door.

9. If an Overlord personally visits to release a prisoner, you must challenge them with that day's phrase password. Shapeshifters exist.

10. Report any and all unusual activity.

Heroes and You:

Heroes will attempt to convince you that you are doing somethinv wrong. I would remind you that 'Evil' is a matter of perception. Princess Luna was driven to madness by Princess Celestia for neglecting and ridiculing her younger sister. Ponies consider Celestia to be perfect and kind, yet she nearly caused the apocalypse.

Heroes will attempt to 'forgive you' for your 'evil' deeds, only to backstab you when opportune. Do not trust the heroes. They do not fight or work alongside you as your friends and co-workers do on a daily basis.

Heroes will try any number of social manipulations to get what they believe is right. They do not care about your feelings, hopes, dreams or aspirations. We have specialists for this exact purpose, and you will always find a sympathetic being to listen truthfully and sincerely to your concerns. A Hero will not care about your past, so long as 'listening' gets them what they want.

When their task is complete, the Hero will vanish without even a 'Thank you for freeing me' card. Even the Overlords send their mother a card. Can you say the same for the lands heroes?

The Overlords and You:

Do not bow, grovel, kneel or otherwise debase yourself. We are all beings here, and though we may be your employers, this does not give us the right to treat you as less than you are, that being the perfect representation of you. In addition, all positions will be earned by merit and ability, not family lines or connections.

Manipulating your way to the top, while 'evil', is detrimental to the organization as a whole. Do not commit evil deeds to your fellow workers.

If anybeing is reported or caught belittling or otherwise disrupting the lives of anybeing, you will be dealt with by the Overlords.

In Conclusion:

This completes the Evil Primer to the Citadel of Evil.

Please return your copy to the front desk.

Thank you,
Queen Viscera

'Well, that was the first one. What's this one?' thought Garotte, reading the next paper.

Rules of Engagement
By King/Overlord Aether

Despite what you may have heard or imagined, we are not here to murder or commit other atrocities. We are here to bring about better living for all, under the rule of the Overlords. We will not win public sympathy by tearing families apart, stealing their belongings or being criminals.

Our main goal, as the Forces of Evil, is to unite everybeing under our rule as the Overlords of All. Understandably, others will be frightened by this as they've only ever known of Celestia as ruler. However, despite her best efforts to rule, homeless ponies exist. Disabled and maimed ponies exist. The poor, the sick, the forgotten and the helpless all exist.

We have an obligation as the warriors, scientists and perfectionists of the world to better the planet we live on. To make this place a Utopia for all. To rid ourselves of the baggage of 'Class' and the desparity of wealth between our peoples.

Those of Minos, we have heard of your living conditions. Griffinstone, your poverty. Zebreca, the scarcity of security and food. The bison of the badlands, the ferocity of your homeland and those that ignore your ancestral soverignty. The changelings, and your persecution based off of nothing more than what you happened to be hatched as. Even ponies, all of different social standing simply due to the size of your bank account. I know that there are many other beings I did not mention, and your grievances and plight should not be compared to that of anybeing else. All of your concerns should be taken into account and solved quickly.

We cannot accomplish these grand feats if we lower ourselves to the same playing field as those ignorant enough to oppose us. That is why, for the sake of all, I have imposed rules to govern how you 'engage the enemy.'

1. Do not kill, cut, rend, tear or otherwise mutilate anybeing.

2. Any injury you inflict or seek to inflict, will be first inflicted upon yourself. You must know the pain and suffering you seek to inflict on others, so that you avoid doing so.

3. Do not steal, loot or otherwise take without permission. A simple coin could mean everything to somebeing.

4. Never, ever, ever, ever, EVER kill. If you do, nobeing will save you from the wrath of the Overlords.

5. Do not harm or injure those that do not attack you. Capture them.

6. Do not abuse or mistreat prisoners. We are trying to save them from themselves. It is not their fault that they don't know what future they fight against.

7. If you see anybeing in distress, help them. If they betray your trust afterwards, imprison them. They are confused, frightened and blinded by any number of ingrained mental conditionings to include nationalism, xenophobia and/or fear of the unknown. This can be cured; they simply need the opportunity.

8. Assist your fellow collegues. The Heroes will not save you. The Heroes only think of themselves and the few they care about. Some even only care for an idea and will ignore everything else in persuit of their ideals.

9. Save the young. Their lives are complicated enough, and they don't need to be scared of everything during an attack.

10. If you feel yourself losing control, take a moment to cool off. We must strive to be better than those that oppose us, and we must have a level head in order to do so.

It is the responsibility of everybeing to work towards a better, unified future where none are forgotten. Where children can be raised by loving parents that have no worries about their financial or social situation. Life is difficult enough without us all making it harder on ourselves.

Thank you for reading this mandatory material,
King/Overlord Aether

'Why do they call themselves evil? It sounds like they're trying to better the world...' Noted Garotte as she searched through yet another paper.

The Philosophy of 'Evil'
By Queen/Overlord Song

To everybeing reading this, I ask you a question.

Why is the sky red?

It's not? You say it is blue?

I don't see it that way.

From my perspective, it is red. There is nothing that you can tell me that will change how I see the sky.

You can yell, scream and jump around until you pass out, and the sky will still be red.

Why is that? How? I have no disability, no horrible thing happened to me.

I just simply see the world the way I want to.

What does this have to do with 'Evil'?

No matter how you explain it, no matter what method you choose or what platform you instruct from, everything you do is 'Evil' to somebeing.

Eating strawberries? Glutton!
Playfully tossing a foal and catching them? Foal abuse!
Associating with those of a different class? Scandalous!

The fact of the matter being that everybeing will always tell you that something you're doing is evil, is wrong, is a detriment to society.

All we ask, is that we give others the chance to experience our brand of 'Evil', and make the decision for themself if they wish to continue with their old life, or join us.

We are 'Evil', so that all who would declare us as such will speak the truth. No shock will overcome you, no guilt will stay your embrace to those who know no alternative.

For those who cannot see the sky in all its glorious red.

Thank you,
Queen/ Overlord Song

Your Kingdom is Under Attack

View Online

"Great Grandma Aze?"

"Please, Aze is fine, Scootaloo."

"Okay... um, do you get old?"

That was an odd question. Then I remembered that ponies sometimes get old. Celestia and Luna don't get old, yet everypony else gets old. Seems unfair to me.

<Anyling, I have a question.>

<Yes, my Queen?>

<Do we age as ponies do?>

<Do you mean grow old and eventually die?>

<Yes. I'm being asked by a filly if we 'get old'.>

<No. We do not have the organs required to age, nor are our bodies limited as theirs.>

<How so?>

<For starters, their fuel source. They eat many different kinds of foods, all with different impurities. Those impurities are managed by other organs specifically for that purpose. Over time, these organs wear out. The same can be said for the organs they use to breathe. For some reason, their body processes corrosive gas in order to keep them alive, yet they have no protections against that gas.>

<That sounds stupid. Why don't they fix that?>

<I doubt they have anypony other than Twilight Sparkle who knows alchemy, and they dont posess the magic required to use it.>

<So what specifically causes them to age?>

<The air they breathe corrodes their body over a period of decades, making it more and more difficult for their bodies to remain intact as it never catches a break to fully repair. It would be similar to if our hearts could not repair themselves with our magic. When an organ is gone, little can be done for it.>

<Well that sounds horrible. Imagine, only a set amount of decades to live. No wonder ponies are so dense!>

<My Queen, you've been alive for barely three years.>

<And what of it? I've lead this hive spectacularly, given that the filly asking the question is six years my senior!>

<No offense was intended, my Queen! We simply thought you hypocrytical.>

<Oh. Well, that's fine. I don't want to turn into Chrysalis by my 'twenties' because I was self obsessed with an ego the size of Equestria.>

<Of course, our Queen.>

Blinking, I returned to find myself wrapped up in several blankets with a crying Scootaloo next to me.

"Scootaloo? Why am I wrapped in blankets?"

She lifted her teary face to look at me in surprise and shock, turning into joy.

"Why are you crying?"

"You went away! Your eyes went dark and you didn't say anything, and I thought you were sick so I got blankets for you, but you were still blank and then I thought you D-d-died!" She explained in a sobbing mess.

Oh. I probably should have told her about how all of that works before contacting the hive mind.


"Princess Celestia!"

Oh no. This'll be good.

"Yes, Flash Sentry?"

"A report from the Zebrecan border; urgent." He was breathing heavily, as if running.

Celestia took the report in her magic, wondering why nopony had simply messaged it to her, before further realising that not everypony had a dragon scale to use for mailing.

Zebrecan Border Watch
Second of Starsin, Second Year, RL

Movement of organised military forces spotted, at least five hundred strong. Unknown uniform, unknown armor and weaponry.

No direct contact established due to unsafe risk.

Request orders.

Second Lieutenant Ink Blot
Equestrian Reserves

Oh this was just great.

"Thank you for delivering this, Flash Sentry."

"Yes, Princess." He then quickly bowed, and left.

I hope that's Aether on the move, and not some other fool trying to take over. The reaction from Luna alone would be priceless.

Celestia then produced a quill, and replied.




"Am I going to die someday?"

"Most likely."

Oh, that made her upset almost instantly. Was she not expecting that? Actually, it must seem cruel to her that I don't age, and she will.

"I can probably figure something out about that, though." I offered.

"What do you mean? I'm a pony. Ponies get old and then they die." She was upset all right, to say the least.

"What brought up all of these thoughts?"

"Well... I was thinking about my friends and if I'd ever see them again. Maybe I would live my whole life here and never see them again, or something would happen to them."

"Scootaloo, I have an offer."

She sniffled, looking to me. "What kind of offer?"

"Aether and I have been talking. He was a changeling before I used alchemy (quite recklessly) and transformed him. I could work with Twilight to figure out some way to transform you into a changeling, but there are consequences."

"Why would I want to be a changeling? I mean, you're great and all, but thats cause you're you. I'm a pegasus, so it would be weird if I was a changeling."

"You want to avoid death, right?"

"Um... I don't know. Wouldn't I outlive all my friends, since you and your family don't age?"

"We could always make them changelings as well."

Scootaloo thought on this a good while before replying.

"Only if Sweetie Belle and Applebloom want to as well. I don't want to live long enough to visit my friends at their grave..."

"You're very thoughtful for your age."

"You're not even three, Aze."

"And I'm a Queen!"

Scootaloo blankly stared at me, her eye twitching and radiating irritation my way.


Garotte had no idea why she of all ponies had been chosen as a diplomat. An 'Evil' diplomat.

Maybe she was supposed to hug her foes into submission?

Shaking her head to focus, she trot ahead of 'her forces' towards Ponyville, just outside of a large apple orchard. Her task was pretty simple.

1. See Mayor Mare.
2. Talk.
3. Something about a distraction?
4. Hurray!

Garotte wasn't sure what all that meant, but she assumed her role was to keep the mayor busy while everypony else did their own jobs.

She was wearing a specially tailored full suit, complete with a hole for her tail. It was dominantly black with silver trim and a deep red accent, with a chest badge that stated:

Ms. Garotte
Diplomat of 'Evil'

It looked very fancy, with swirly letters and was made of obsidian with silver engraving. She was caught by suprise when an orange mare called out to her.

"Excuse me, Ma'am!" She drawled, cantering over to lean against a wooden fence and raising her hat to see. "Pardon my askin', but what're yall doin' out here?"

Uh oh! If we get found out now, then we won't have time to raid the village!

"We're um... A new division of the Royal Guard! Out on a practice drill, you know... Military... Things."

The country mare squinted at Garotte,

"So why does your badge say 'Evil' on it, then?"

"Oh! That silly thing, hehe. Well, our division is named that way because we're here specifically to fight evil! Yep. Evil division for fighting evil!"

"That doesn't sound right."

"Why not? Freedom fighters fight for freedom, despite their name implying that they fight freedom itself. Why not make a division that fights evil, and name it evil to confuse our opponents?" Garotte hastily explained, making everything up as she went and flying by the stitching of her uniform.

The mare considered this, before relenting. "Alright, ah guess that makes sense." She then looked to the gathered crowd of heavily armored and armed ponies, all their equipment with pink glowing runes etched into them. "Y'all hungry? I got apples for sale."

Oh, I guess a slight detour couldn't hurt that badly.

"Certainly!" Garotte chirped before adressing the gathered force. "Everybeing take a fifteen minute break! Our friend here is selling apple based refreshments!"

The force cheered, and Applejack could envision the bits flying in. Not that she really needed them, after Queen Aze's donation of a million bits. Still, It was the effort she took pride in, and that even these clearly evil ponies, minotaur and griffons still liked apples. Maybe the Reign of the Overlords wouldn't change much after all.


"Well, I suppose we could always visit your friends in Ponyville."

"Why not right now?" Scootaloo eagerly asked.

"I don't see why not. We could have a chariot take us there. Probably take all of a few hours to get there."

Ponyville. Guh. Why would you ever name anyplace something so dull? 'Hello, my name is Celestia and I control the sun! What's that? You want me to name your town? I'm tired, so we'll call it Ponyville.

Ponyvile is a better name for that place, but it's allegedy 'alright' for a town constantly in peril from everything to orange sized insects eating everything to giant bears made out of stars.

Scootaloo had taken a short moment to gather her things, and we soon set off for Ponyville, with Scootaloo gushing about everything the whole way there.


"So, what brings y'all out to Ponyville for trainin'?" Asked Applejack. Garotte had since learned the country mares name after their apple cider was discovered to be laced with alchohol. They had stayed at Sweet Apple Acres until the effects wore down to a buzz.

For most.

Garotte however, never drank in her life until that point, and could only be described as a 'joyful, frisky drunk.'

"We do all kindsa thingys out here'inna Ponyvilles. You know the best place for a Ponyville is nex' tooa Pony?" Garotte babbled, her muffled voice going into the table that she rested her face on. Her nearby collegues had debated simply leaving her behind, but that was quickly shot down due to the percieved reaction from the Overlords.

Then they wondered if that's what the Overlords intended in the first place.

"I think you might'a had too much to drink there, Sugarcube." Applejack sighed. The mare hadn't gone through half a mug before her drinking partner was smashed.

"Youuu can't tell me whadda do! I'm an amba... Diplomat!" She corrected.


A minotaur stomped over. Not on purpose, but the wooden floor combined with eight feet of muscle and armor didn't care.

"Ms. Garotte, we have a schedule." He grumbled.

"Oh!" Garotte replied, hiccuping and looking at her hoof watch, holding her mug with the other hoof. "I almost forgot!" She quickly hopped off of the stool she had been sitting on, and slowly stumbled to the floor. Pushing her upper half from said floor, she looked to the Minotaur with sad eyes.


"Can you carry me? My legs won't work right." Her pouting redoubled their efforts.

"Grr... Fine." He grumbled, picking up the relatively tiny unicorn and placing her like a towel on his shoulders.

"Wheee!" Garotte lazily cheered, her head bobbing.

When they had all gone, Applejack was left behind.

"Well. If they're evil, I ain't too concerned." She thought aloud.


Fluttershy had been waiting outside of Twilight's library, deciding if it was worth it to bother her. A bunch of strangers had marched past her home and scared her, but Fluttershy couldn't decide if it was legitimate concern, or her anxiety acting up.

The choice was spared to her, when the door flung open and Twilight ran into her with a stack of books. With joined yelps of suprise and minor injury, the two apologised for running into the other. Fluttershy then took the opportunity to ask.

"Twilight, is it okay to be worried about a few hundred beings of different species all marching in unison with matching outfits?"

Twilight had been running through some mental gymnastics as Fluttershy began speaking, but she nearly lost her books and notes when she registered what her friend said.


Fluttershy decided the best course of action was to hide at that point, her friend's sudden outburst startling her.

"Where did you see them last?" Twilight asked, her previous shock morphing into protectiveness for her friends and the town.

And maybe Spike.


Fluttershy replied by pointing a hoof in the vague direction of the approaching Division of Evil.

"Oh," Twilight deadpanned. "Thanks for the warning."


Zecora had gone into Ponyville for food and other supplies she couldn't find, when she happened upon the army of Evil.

"What the Fel? Why has nopony rung the bell?" She wondered aloud. They should really have some kind of warning system installed. Seriously.

"I come for groceries, and what do I see? Why, the armies of Evil before me!" Zecora was having none of this. "You there, Pony with a loom!" She pointed at an unsuspecting earth pony stallion of the 'Evil' army; a Loom for his cutie mark. "Come! Meet your doom!" Zecora then stood on her hind legs, dropping her groceries and wielding a staff with metal braces on each end. She spun it around in a dazzling display of skill before couching it behind her and beckoning Loom with her free hoof.

Loom, the pony in question, decided that it would be silly to fight a Hero on their own. He then loudly whistled in a short burst pattern and was joined by several well armored Griffon. Loom then did his best evil grin, and Zecora was dogpiled by sheer mass.

Being Evil means fighting dirty. Duh.


For the main six heroes of Ponyville, events unfolded thusly:

Rainbow Dash was literally caught napping. Several Pegasus and Griffon jumped her as she slept, and she was unable to fight back. Her wings were bound by shackles as well as her hooves. Said hooves were then tied together, and then the shackles of her wings and hooves were tied together, before wrapping her in duct tape. A henchpony then put a gold sticker on her forehead for effort.

Rarity was outside of town with Spike, collecting gems. They were both ambushed by Diamond Dogs and Minotaur. Rarity tried whining them all away, but they had basic ear protection. The fashionista then attempted to out-punch a Minotaur, and was simply picked up from the ground by her mane and tied quickly by the Diamond Dogs. A magic nullifier ring was placed on her horn, and then she was muffled and blindfolded. Spike was cucooned in a thermal blanket meant to survive forest fires, wrapped in duct tape, chained, roped and had a dragonscale muzzle placed on his face.

Burn through that!

Applejack was at Sweet Apple Acres and minding her own business when she was ambushed by Unicorns. Try to buck somepony when you can't stay on the ground, smartie. She was held upside down, wrapped in bindings and carried like a barrel of Cider on a Minotaur's shoulder. Her stetson stubbornly refused to leave her head.

Fluttershy was intercepted on her way back to her cottage by two Pegasus. They told her to come with them or her animals would be hurt, and she quickly agreed. She was too terrified to move, as the uniforms were very scary.

Then again, everything scares Fluttershy.

She was given the same bindings as Rainbow Dash, and plopped next to her friend.

Twilight Sparkle was attempting to hold off or route the 'attacking' army of evil, but her spells weren't doing much. Aether had spent a fortune outfitting his soldiers, and her spells were either absorbed or dissapated by their armor. A spell would do little more than stagger them, and even her Want-It Need-It spell hadn't worked. It had caused a small riot when other townsponies had attempted to grab the coveted and holy cheese wheel, but its eventual destruction caused everypony involved to feel quite silly before they were captured. Twilight had attempted to teleport away, but she over exerted herself in her confused frenzy of magic. While she was on the ground and hiding behind an overturned cart, she was nabbed by a Griffon and quickly tied similar to Rarity with three magical supression rings.

Can't be too careful with the Main Hero.

Pinkie Pie, The Pink One and Countess of Confectionary treats, was suprisingly the easiest to capture. When she saw close to five hundred beings marching into town, she nearly had a stroke from the inagined planning all of their 'Welcome to Ponyville' parties would take. She was then tied like Applejack, with party streamers and confetti laced into her bindings. A note was left in front of her face for when she awoke. It read thusly:

We are playing a game. You Pinkie Promised to remain in your bindings until the appropriate signal has been given. You were going to throw us all a party and got so excited you passed out. We hope you remember your promise, or it will ruin our big suprise!

Thank you for being our best friend,
The Forces of Evil.


Garotte, meanwhile, had been talking with the bound and gathered ponies of the town. Three of them had passed out, shouting 'The horror, The horror!' Everytime they were awoken. Everybeing decided to just leave them alone.

Garotte had been informing the townsfolk of their plan for the world, and was actively attempting to recruit. Some ponies immediately joined, others were more hesitant, and a few stubbornly refused. They were mainly the rich ponies that didn't want to lose their status. The poorer ponies jumped at the opportunity, and the underappreciated also joined. One pony couldn't or wouldn't speak, but she had nodded in agreement to the right questions. When asked her name, she wrote Vinyl Scratch.

She applied to be the new 'DJ' for the Citadel of Evil.

The main heroes however were shouting all sorts of guilt trips, and were soon gagged. Peer Pressure is no way to make a descision that will affect your life. Especially national hero peer pressure.

With the town secured, and roughly ninety six percent of the populace recruited, their homes were raided for valuables and then piled onto the main square. After the houses were completely empty, torches lit by unicorn and changeling fire were passed out, and the town was lit on fire.

Especially the Tree-brary.


"WE'RE UNDER ATTAAAAAAACK!" Flash Sentry screamed in panic as he burst into Celestia's room.


"Here! Report!" He belted out, hurling the scroll to the Princess.


Ponyville has been raided!
Elements of Harmony are captured!
Royal Guard unable to fight back, heavy injuries!


Second Lieute-

The rest of the scroll is torn, with the sender's name trailing off as if grabbed before they could finish

Aether is coming...

"Assemble the Royal and Lunar guard, and wake Luna!"

"Yes Princess!"


Queen Aze squinted to see into the distance.

"Does your town usually have large pillars of smoke rising from it?"

"Very funny, Aze."

"No, I'm serious."

This startled Scootaloo, who looked over the edge of their chariot to see Ponyville burning down.



"Princess Luna!" Somepony shouted outside her door, banging their hoof.

"Whaaaaat? We are sleeping!" She drowsily replied, covering her head with a pillow.

"Ponyville is under attack!"

Luna's eyes shot open, her sleepyness forgotten as her pillow flew from her head.

"When? By whom?!"

"Right now! We don't know!"

With a flash of magic, Luna's regalia turned into runed armor of her own. It was similar to Nightmare Moon's, however it covered her body excepting her face.

"Assemble the Lunar Guard!"

"Already done, Princess Luna!"

She then burst open the door, ready for battle and startling the guard.

"We must prepare for battle, Join us!" She declared, galloping past.

Princess Luna, Lunar Diarch of Equestria, Princess of the Moon and Stars, Warden of Dreams, Protector of the Land, High General of Equestria's Army and Champion of a Thousand Battles, was going to kick some serious flank.


Aether, Viscera and Song were all on their way to the bank in the meantime. They had used to distraction and disguised thenselves as regular soldiers in their army, and stolen the Elements of Harmony in all the confusion with none the wiser. They stood on the outskirts of Canterlot, one joint teleport away from the bank they were going to use for their safety deposit boxes.

"Alright, first step is complete. Now we just disguise ourselves as 'Better than thou' unicorns, open a bank account under a false name, and we're set!" Aether explained.

"This was pretty-"

"No! Don't you finish that sentence!" Viscera and Aether blurted.


"You'll jinx us! Make no comment on our situation, or you will bring a curse on us!"

"Really. A jinx?"

"In a land with magic, alchemy, forgotten spells and ancient evils, a Jinx is where you say 'Nope! That's too silly!'. Seriously?"

"Oh... Well yeah. Put it like that and it makes sense."

"Good, now let us finish our task and prepare for their counter attack."


To Luna's inexpressible grief, the Solar Guard were a complete mess. All of the problems in the past millenia were either solved by citizen heroes, Princess Celestia or the Elements of Harmony. As such, they had become extremely lax, ill equipped and horrendously trained. All they knew was drill and ceremony.

On second thought, that explains fairly well how quickly Canterlot fell to changelings during the wedding.

The Lunar Guard, however, were more than ready to fight. Their culture alone set them apart from their peace loving Pony cousins. Be it the frozen north, inhospitable caverns or the darkest of nights, a Thestral could thrive. Their armor coming with hoof blades as standard (if seldom used) kit. Their screeches were enough to deafen a Hydra's heads, and their strength nearly that of an Earth Pony.

The main problem lay with their relatively few numbers.

"You are all that remains of our Lunar Guard?"

Hammer and Anvil. The two Thestrals of Luna's guard prior to her banishment, and sealed in stone to await her return. It was they that pulled Luna's chariot to a Nightmare Night celebration not long ago.

"Yes, Princess Luna."

"At your command."

Luna sighed.

"Cease your deference at once. Our two oldest friends need not grovel in our presence. We have subjects to rescue, after all!"

"For Equestria!" They shouted.

Isn't What It Looks Like

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"Scootaloo, I know you're eager to befriend the fire ponies, but they're more than a bit 'tied up' at the moment!" Honestly, this filly is going to be the death of me. The second she saw Ponyville on fire, she screamed and then lept from the chariot, directly into a plummet. If I didn't have wings and magic to catch her, she would go well with ketchup as 'Scoota-Nuggets'.

"I've gotta find them!"

Oh, way to be direct, Scootaloo. Excellent. "Find whom?"

"Applebloom and-," she ducked as some poor cabbage merchant flew over her head, "Sweetie Belle!"

Really. In a war zone?

Sure! Lets go with that. Maybe she'll get a cutie mark in 'Nam flashbacks.

Nambury. The famous battle of the twelve hives? No? Hmmph, you should read a book or two.

Caught in my musings, Scootaloo had done the 'sensible' thing and run off again. Ducking from upturned vendor's wagon to various bench, I stealthily moved around several soldiers in fancy runic armor. Some griffons, some Minotaur, some ponies, and a changeling or seventeen. I had no idea why any of this was happening, but I remembered Queen Song's own shell had the same runic symbols. At that point, I realized that this was probably some game that Aether and his daughters were playing, and ceased my silly sneaking around business. Checking down a dark alleyway (Wait, how do these alleyways even get dark in broad daylight?) I thought I heard some pony in distress. Pretty understandable with their village being raided and everypony being chained and bound to a ridiculous level.

"Hello? Are you alright?" I called out to the hunched over figure.

Sadly, said figure was not somepony in distress. It was in fact a Thestral in disguise. My ears told me of this with great accuracy.

"Screeeee!" It screeched. Yes, I called a Thestral an 'it'. When I can someday scream that loudly, I'll call it a... whatever it is. The proper name!

Clutching my ears and dropping to the dirt path beneath me, I tried to prevent permanent hearing loss by randomly blasting stun spells in the Thestral's vague direction.

"I'm going to send a letter to my army of lawyer orphans if you don't cease this instant!" I shouted, wiggling around and attempting to blast the screeching obnoxiousness with fangs that was now two Thestrals, one with armor.

They seemed taken aback by that for a moment, though I don't know if it was from the unexpected nature of my verbal jab, or the fact that I might possess such a formidable weapon in a courtroom.

Could you say 'guilty' to several cute looking foals in suits with pouting faces, puppy dog eyes, and a commanding knowledge of the legal system?

Something I hadn't been expecting then decided to fly right in front of me and land with more armor than anybeing had right to possess. Princess Luna, in all of her flowing star-mane glory, dropped down in the center of her two Thestrals. Her regular coat was hidden behind midnight purple armoring, segmented and yet regal. A crescent moon emblem glowed brightly from the center of her chest, and only her face was exposed. Her mane and tail, not following the laws of any logic, decided that they didn't feel like staying in her armor and flowed freely in their cheating magical breeze from a Mane and Tail commercial.

Stardust sold Separately.

"Queen Aze? Why hath thou cast thy lot with these vagabonds?" Questioned the Princess of ridiculously archaic speech.

"Huh!?" I shouted in reply. I wasn't really deaf, but I figured I could at least have some amusement at her expense after they screamed at me.

She made a face of upset, and whispered to her Thestral bodyguards. They seemed apologetic, but still proud of their efforts to disable a Changeling Queen regardless.

A field of magic surrounded my head, coming from Luna's horn. Not really knowing what she was doing and still wary of her guards, I sent a stun spell at her with a blast of my own magenta colored magic. Despite my efforts, her armor gave the equivalent of a magical guffaw; deflecting my spell harmlessly into the dirt to the Princess' side. Her eyes narrowed in annoyance at me, and I did my best to initiate Operation: Cute Shield.

I smiled sheepishly, let my limbs go loose (As she was holding me in the air by the head with magic) and buzzed my wings a little. A nervous chuckle, combined with an embarrassed blush (completely fabricated. Have you ever tried to blush through carapace?) disarmed her successfully.

For about five seconds.

"We know you can hear us, Queen Aze. Explain yourself!" she commanded, dropping me to the ground. Hey, at least it worked! I wasn't Changeling Soup and I still had all my pieces intact. My ego can repair itself later with some ice cream and tea.

"Do you want to hear the part where I was chasing- I mean, trying to find- Scootaloo, or the part where this isn't what it looks like?" Engage sheepish smile version two, combined with nervous sideways glances and the tapping of fore hooves as I sit. Perfect. She won't know what hit her!

"You are a part of this attack upon Equestria?" Luna questioned with threatening tone, her eyes narrowing at me.

"No! I'm not attacking anypony!" I quickly yelped, raising my hooves in surrender. I might be a Queen, but I'm not built to be anywhere near as combative as Chrysalis. Luna could obliterate me with a thought, and I was in no way going to have a chance of stopping her. My strategy for surviving the wrath of the moon then fell to appearing as weak and helpless as possible, so that she would either not think me worth the trouble or become bored. Besides, It's against my life goals to kill/hurt/maim/injure anybeing. I can't make friends with corpses.

Eh, most of the time. San'se was fairly respectable.

"Then what is your purpose for coming to Ponyville, during an attack?" Luna accused.

"Scootaloo!" was my blunt answer. I honestly had no other reason for being in this dreadful town of sticks.

"Secure her."

"Wait, what?"

Before I knew what had happened, I was dog piled by the two Thestrals as Luna chuckled to herself. They wrapped me in some kind of thin metal strips that I couldn't get off, and was even more annoyed by the fact that they had tied knots through the holes in my hooves. I couldn't shape shift anyway, due to my promise to Twilight, but still. It was the sheer audacity of the thing. Acting cute and helpless had served its purpose, as I wasn't turned into scrambled Queen, but I was now immobile. There was no way I could rescue Scootaloo from herself, and my attempts at flight simply ended with me banging into walls.

"Magnificent." I grumbled.


Perhaps ten minutes had passed before I heard a deafening shout.

"Fear the night, for the shadows have come for thee!"

Luna was a Proto-Drama-Queen.

She was swooping down over the heads of everybeing below, causing shadows to come from the walls and buildings nearby with some kind of night-magic. Ponies were running away from the spooky shadow monsters, Minotaur were falling on their face trying to attack them; Griffons decided that this was hilarious, and the Changelings were just plain confused. I had inch-wormed my way out of the dark alleyway and around the corner to watch the activity in the main square of town.

All of the village ponies had been tied up as I had, and brought in front of a large stage. There was some uniformed unicorn mare on said stage, trying to keep everybeing calm while Luna let out a thousand years of pent up feelings on the poor henchbeings. Spectral wasps were scaring the cutiemarks off of a few ponies; others were fighting nightmarish lamp posts brought to life, and yet more were running away from a picnic bench from tartarus.

Luna must get really, really bored.

Then a thought occurred to me. I have magic. Why have I not simply untied myself? Using said bolt of inspiration from the blue, I focused my magic on all the knots, loops and otherwise obnoxious things that held me in place. They unraveled surprisingly well, given that I had been expecting some anti-magic rope just to upset me.

Dusting myself off, I then ignored all of the chaos before me and set out to find Scootaloo. Maybe she would go to Rarity's house for Sweetie Belle, and the apple farm for Applebloom? Eh, it's as good a theory as any to start with. Might as well head for the fashion shop.


All around me were unfamiliar faces in progressively damaged places. A certain shop that insisted that Quills and Sofa's be sold together had exactly half of it destroyed due to the battle between Luna and the Forces of Evil. I wasn't going to get involved in all of that, because why should I? I had a mission to protect Scootaloo, and there was one best way to find a missing pony.

<Everyling~> I sang into the hivemind.

<Yes, our Queen?>

<I have a certain orange coated, purple mane'd pegasus filly that I need to find in Ponyville. I need your help to find her, but there is also a problem. Luna, the second Diarch of Equestria, is currently shouting her head off at the Forces of Evil. Is there some way that we could find this filly, named Scootaloo, while also saving my son from embarassing himself against the pony that controls the moon? His forces are being devastated, and it would just be better for us overall if we weren't directly involved.>

<My Queen, a suggestion.> Asked Lanius.

<Yes, go ahead.>

<We could disguise ourselves as the Royal Guard, and route the Forces of Evil so that we may find the filly you look for.>

<Wouldn't that make us an enemy to my son? From the Diarchs' view, they would see us as either an ally or an impostor if we assume the forms of their guard. On the other fang, this would be excellent media for their guard as well...>

<Perhaps we could simply disguise ourselves as random ponies from neighboring towns, coming to aid?> Gaius suggested.

<Yes, but how would these hypothetical ponies have heard of the trouble? At best they would assume a fire had occured. They wouldn't come by the thousands.>

<Then assuming the role of the Royal Guard would appear the best option for finding 'Scootaloo'.>

<Yes. Everyling close to Ponyville, transform into an indescript member of the Royal Guard. There may be ponies with cameras flying by. Group at the border of the Everfree Forest and give me an update when you are assembled.>

<Long live the Queen!>

Returning to the battlefield, I realised very quickly why I need to remember to not enter the hivemind in a warzone.

There were random pieces of debris on top of me, dust everywhere and possibly something was on fire. If I needed to breathe, I would've suffocated. If I needed to move, I would have to blast this detrius away from me as well.

Deciding to do exactly that, I unleashed a blast of unguided magic to act as an improvised bomb to anybeing nearby. Thankfully, nothing was around to be injured, although the Pink One's lair was impaled by several planks of wood. She would either be distraught from the damage, or elated at the idea of turning the building into a place that resembled a different pastry.

It was going to take awhile to navigate, as craters and blown out buildings were common now. Charred wood, scorched earth and several mannequins giving the place a very dreary and morbid appearance.

Certainly an improvement! The place was dreadful before. Now it had history and character!

Although, this was probably going to be called 'The Battle of Ponyville' or something equally dreadful.

Oh, Right! Scootaloo!

Should definetly focus.


At this point, thirty minutes later, I was beginning to doubt if Scootaloo was in the town at all. I knew she wouldn't be dead, because of sone unseen cosmic force that denied all untimely ends of ponies in general. Even when Discord decided to unleash his power out of boredom, the worst case in Equestria was rugburn. How somepony got rugburn with a coat of fur, I have no idea. Dont even ask about the horrors everybeing else suffered.

Poor Queen Ra...

Anyway, the moment of action had come. The hive was assembled and disguised appropriately, and Luna was entirely distracted with tormenting the Forces of Evil. I don't know why she insisted on engaging an army by herself, with two guards. Then again, I don't have the power to control the moon. Maybe she's just that good.

Then I imagined an angry Celestia.

Mentally fleeing in terror from that molten thought, I refocused on the task at hoof.

<Everyling, you are ready?>

<Yes our Queen!>

<Very good! I will need you all to split into three groups. Earth Pony disguises will take center, form a wedge. Pegasus, Take to the air and sweep in from the flanks. I know that we cannot control the weather, so you'll have to improvise. Unicorns, follow behind the Earth Ponies and provide support and covering spells to knock them off balance before the Wedge enters their lines. After their first line is broken, find Luna and offer aid. In the mean time, Pegasus should observe from the skies for Scootaloo or her friends. Unicorns should unbind the townsfolk, and Earth Ponies should defend both Unicorns and the townsfolk.>

<Excuse me, my Queen?>

<Yes Gaius?>

<Excuse my bluntness, but when did you learn Equine military tactics?>

<You expect your Queen to be unable to defend her hive?>

<N-no, it's just unexpected... coming from you.>

<I may not understand social rituals of mammals or griffons or otherwise, but that does not make me uneducated. I may be less than three years old, but I have millenia of combined learning passed down from Queen to Queen. I understand where your concerns originate, but do not worry. The hive endures, Gaius.>

<So say we all!>


Luna, having been fighting the Forces of Evil and doing quite well, was completely awestruck with nostaligia when she heard it. A thunder of hooves, a whirlwind of wings, thousands of ponies all yelling at the top of their lungs in a glorious battlecry that caused her to pause. She had to wipe a tear from her eye upon seeing it.

A massive wedge formation, covering the fields and orchards of Ponyville. Earth Ponies of her sister's guard leading the charge like the days of old, backed by Unicorns who were launching bolts of magic out in front of their fellow soldiers. Scanning the sky from her position on top of the schoolhouse, she spotted two great wings swooping down from the sky.

The Alicorn Formation.

Earth Ponies for the strength of body, the bulk and force of the charge. Pegasus, the two wings that carried the might of the body to drive it home, and the Unicorns, the horn to impale and eviscerate the foe with no quarter given.

She needed a moment.


Garotte, seeing this as well, was rapidly reconsidering her choice in career. She couldn't blend in with the locals, as they all knew her. If she didn't run now, she would be captured, imprisoned and interrogated. Anybeing that chose to stand their ground against the approaching wall of doom would meet the same fate if they weren't lucky enough to die on impact.

Have you ever been bucked by a stampede of Earth Ponies? Thought not.

Garotte then decided that she liked her head exactly where it was, and promptly exited the town in a collected manner.



Scootaloo had found her friend in their clubhouse, which nobeing had thought to check. Her friends were worried about their families and those they knew, but Scootaloo had told them that they were only tied up and uninjured. This caused them to consider a path in combat rescue, but the deafening stampede combined with battlecry lead them to keep their heads down and hope for the best.


"Princess Celestia! A report from Princess Luna!"

Dearest Sister,

Oh! Thou hast left us in most joyous of spirits!

We did not anticipate you would send the guard in its entirety to aid us, and their display is breathtaking. A perfectly executed Alicorn Formation! Such precision has not been seen by our eyes in centuries!

This is the best gift we could have received, beloved sister.

Happy Alicorn Anniversary,
Princess Luna!

Celestia lowered the letter, her brow furrowed in absolute confusion. Blinking, she turned to Flash Sentry.

"Have we mobilized the guard while I wasn't looking?" She asked with careful tone.

"No?" Celestia shot a glare at him. "I-I mean no! We have not, Princess Celestia." He was shaking in his armor.

Who would have thousands of ponies on hoof to respond to such a threat?


Queen Aze had taken the field, as she had never left it.

Where would I find nymphs if they wanted to hide? A hole in the hive? Some out of the way place noling would look? Perhaps a more obvious place, known to myself and few others? I will have to ask their caretakers.

Her changelings, disguised as various Royal Guard, had absolutely demolished the Forces of Evil. They numbered barely five hundred, and her hive had brought its number of three thousand, each evenly split between the races of pony, crashing down on their heads.

Imagine if those changelings actually had the inherent magics of the ponies themselves...

Shaking her head of the thought, she wove her way through the obliterated paths of the town, attempting to find the ponies in the town square. There was still some fighting as the town became encircled, and the last few raiders were brought down by combined might of magic, strength and sheer numbers.

<Everyling, we must be swift. There is a limited amount of time before the Diarchs come to their senses and we are found out. The only trace we leave will be in memory. A legend of an army suddenly appearing to defend Equestria is better than figuring out it was us all along. When we depart, add a shimmering effect to your disguises and blind onlookers with a flash of light.>

<Yes, our Queen!>

Returning to the present, she was confronted by a very suspicious and upset group of mares. Six of them to be exact.

"What are you doing here?!" Twilight shouted.

Deploying wince, side glance and lowering of head.

"Trying to find Scootaloo?"

She relaxed a bit, but was still suspicious. "Why is Scootaloo here? Doesn't she live with Aether now?"

Raise head, nervous tone and... wait, what else went with those? Eyebrow wiggle?

"She wanted to visit her friends?"

This caused all of them to be extremely confused.

"Nevermind, I'm still learning expressions." Aze's face returned to it's trademark blank.

"Oh heavens, Sweetie Belle!" Rarity suddenly exclaimed, which caused Applejack to shout about Applebloom.

"Do you know where they would hide?" I asked.

"The Clubhouse! Duh!" The Pink One chirped, bouncing presumably towards said house of trees.

Sharing a look of some kind, we decided to follow her.


Gaius, taking the form and appearance of a Trottingham Unicorn, was confronted by the Lunar Diarch.

"You there. Are you the leader of this charge?" She asked, walking towards him and flanked by two Thestrals.

Think fast!

"Yes, Mi'lady!" He saluted.

To his suprise, she returned his salute with a powerful grin. "Your leadership is to be given the highest of praise, commander. Would you tell us your name?"

Oh no, what would be a good name!? She's staring!

"G-Gaius, Mi'lady." Pony feathers.

Luna raised an eyebrow in unexpected suprise. "Gaius? We've not heard such a name since the days of Commander Hurricane."

Oh! The Queen's plan!

<Everyling, we must leave. Begin shimmering!>

"Mi'lady, what do you mean, 'since' Commander Hurricane? Has he gone somewhere?" Gaius said, as he began to shimmer in a ghostly manner.

A look of shock dawned on Luna's face, witnessing their dissapearing forms. "Hold, Spirit! Why have you risen? Who commands thee?!"

A combined blinding flash of light forced the Lunar Diarch to shield her eyes, and when she had finally recovered, all of the soldiers had vanished. Only the townsponies and the destroyed town remained.

"What in Tartarus?"


Gaius and his Hivemates however, would've been gasping for air if they needed to breathe.

"Too close!"

"Way too close!"

"Never again!"


"Applebloom, y'all alright in there?" Applejack called out as Aze and The Six approached the house of trees.

Dissapointingly, it was more of a shack attached to the side of a tree. Oh, my expectations.

"Applejack?" A cautious yet excited voice replied from within.

"Is Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo with you?" Rarity called.

"It's them, they came for us!" Sweetie Belle cheered, and the three fillies then stormed out of their tree-shack.

"And... Queen Aze?" Sweetie added.

I nodded politely. At leadt I hope I did. "Yes. I asked for your whereabouts."

"Why?" Applebloom asked.

"I was searching for Scootaloo here," I motioned an upturned hoof towards said filly, "Because she wanted to visit your town to see you. When she saw the town burning, she lept from our chariot and I've bern chasing her since. Scootaloo, have you discussed my offer with them yet?"

Scootaloo looked 'nervous', as she quickly glanced between her friends and the Six. "Uhh... No?"

"Would you want me to explain it, then?"

Twilight became very suspicious. "Explain what? What deal?"

"Well, Immortality of a sort." I replied, enjoying her display of complete confusion. "It comes with a price, if you consider it one."

"What price?" Asked Fluttershy.

"Why, becoming part of the hive!"


View Online

Garotte had been galloping as quickly as her body would allow, directly out of town. No way was she going to get captured, interrogated, tortured, starved or whatever other horror could be conjured by the Heroes in the name of Justice. She had been well informed about the methods and motives of Heroes by her training courses, and she felt sympathy for those that had been unable to escape that tide of Royal Guard that had come from nowhere.

Garotte had to get back to the Citadel, back to the Overlords and- "Oof!"

She had run straight into somepony, and they were like a fiery hot brick wall. Peeling her face from the pony she'd run into, she began to profusely apologise before she opened her eyes and saw just what she had run into.

Princess Celestia.

Garotte could only whimper out a sob as her ears folded, falling backwards from being overwhelmed by grief. She was doomed! Doomed to the dungeons to be forgotten for all time!

"Miss... Garotte, is it?" Celestia asked, squinting at her nametag.

"Please don't hurt me!" Garotte wailed. She covered her face and horn, as traitors usually had their horns severed from their head in punishment for their crimes.

"Why would I do that?" The Diarch asked with a calm, reassuring tone, faintly smiling.

"B-b-because i'm..." Garotte stopped herself. If Celestia hadn't read the remainder of her tag, then she still had a chance. "I'm an Evil slave!"

She raised an eyebrow. "A slave? To whom? Why would I hurt one of my little ponies?"

Did she buy it, or was she testing me?

"T-to the Evil Overlords?" She stammered nervously, slightly lowering her guard but still looking at Celestia through a thin slit between her hooves.

Celestia's face hardened at their mention. "Slaves..." She grumbled, and then adressed Garotte. "Where is their castle?"

Uh oh. Do I betray the Overlords, who have shown me more kindness and generosity than anybeing else, or do I betray Celestia, ruler of Equestria and controller of the sun?

"Ah-I...I don't..." She tried to say, before her voice caught in her throat.

I, Garotte, Pinkie Promise to never reveal the location of the Citadel or the Forces of Evil. Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye.

She couldn't. She tried, she really did. The promise reduced her to a babbling, incoherent mess of tears, disheveled mane and dirty uniform. All she could do was toss her nametag in frustration before making a final attempt.

"Th-the b-ba-ase i-hhhss in... Guuurrrrrdhurkk!!" She stammered before something leapt into her throat, choking her. "Aaacck!" She fell to the ground, pressing her hooves to her throat as her eyes buldged.

Celestia sprung into action, holding Garotte with her hooves as she scanned her to help. A magical entity she hadn't seen before had lodged itself in her throat. With a quickly thought spell, she used her own magic to reach down Garotte's throat.

Only to pull out a spiked cupcake, that soon vanished in the wind, whispering "Forever!"

Garotte was now able to breathe, but she had passed out from both the emotional turmoil as well as the physical pain and asphyxiation. Celestia turned to a nearby guard.

"Get Ms. Garotte to the chariot, I will personally care for her in Canterlot."

"Yes, Princess!" The nondescript guard saluted sharply, joined by another to his left.

Celestia then brushed Garotte's dirty and smokey smelling mane to the side.

"You'll tell the truth, one day."


Garotte felt like death.

What she didn't expect, was feeling like death wrapped in silk.

She slowly opened her eyes, before quickly shutting them and shielding her eyes to the sun. Her throat burned, and she felt like somepony had trampled her body. Pushing her upper half away from the silk sheets and comfortable mattress, she took stock of her room.

Reds and oranges, carpetting of a soft pink. Drapes of crimson with goldren trim, probably made of velvet. Her bed had four pillars that connected to a canopy above her, intricate clouds detailed in gold and and dropped against a morning sunrise. Mirrors and windows, a balcony with a pleasant yellow guardrail and two chairs for sitting outside. A dresser with her uniform cleaned and pressed, a new nametag sitting on top of it. The walls held various classical paintings of Equestria's history, from the Unification of the three tribes to Twilight's fight with Discord. The room was pleasantly warm, the air was crisp and refreshing to her groggy mind. Sniffing, she smelt cinnamon.

Was she dead? Is this the afterlife?

Checking herself over after pushing her covers away, she noticed many scrapes and bruises that had gone unnoticed in all the chaos of yesterday... Or whatever day it was when she had last been awake. The memory of her nearly breaking her Pinkie Promise came to the forefront of her thoughts as she heard a knock on the door.

"Come in!" She rasped, and pressed a hoof to her throat to acknowledge the pain with a wince.

The door slowly opened to confirm that it wasn't the afterlife as she had hoped. It was Princess Celestia. Garotte ducked down, quickly pulling the sheets over her head with her magic in a futile attempt to hide. Garotte heard a deep sigh come from Celestia as she calmly walked over to Garotte.

"Ms. Garotte, you have no need for fear. You are safe."

Yeah, until you decide to torture me!

"I-I... Um... I'm not sure." Garotte said from beneath the covers.

"Ms. Garotte, do you need time alone?"

Maybe she could send a letter? No, they would look through it...

"Yeah... I feel terrible right now."

"Very well. I will give you time to recover, and have food brought to you. Please recover quickly, however. We may be at war." Celestia warned, before leaving the room with a quiet click.


Meanwhile, Luna was very confused.

"Sister, I know of no being or magic able to resurrect spirits of the dead in such number. They behaved as if flesh and blood until I spoke of Commander Hurricane, and they thought she still lived!"

This caused Celestia to pause. "Wasn't Commander Hurricane male? It has been quite a while since their time."

"That is fine, Tia. Not many would remember her true... Wait a moment." Luna suddenly grew very suspicious. "The guard whom I spoke with, Gaius... He claimed that Hurricane was male..."

"I doubt ancient spirits would be confused, Luna."

"That is certain, and they would be aware of their Commander's gender at the very least!" Luna was now angry. "Somepony is playing a dangerous game with us!"

"Calm down Luna. They didn't act with malicious intent and probably saved Ponyville."

"What is left of it." Luna added somberly.

"It is my fault, Luna. I should have kept the guard well trained. I haven't had to deal with something like this in ages. I'm very glad to have you back." Celestia nuzzled her sister, before setting out to write a letter.

"To whom is this for?" Luna asked, peeking over Celestia's shoulder.

"It's to Twilight. I have need of her knowledge of Friendship if I am going to learn about our opponent."


Dear Twilight,

I have need of you in Canterlot as soon as possible.

You may bring your friends with you as well, if you wish.

I will explain everything when you arrive.

Princess Celestia

Spike blinked after reading the letter. "Well that was to the point."

"Can you help me pack? I don't know what she's going to want me to do; what if it's some kind of test?!" Twilight began to panic.

"Um, Twilight?" Spike asked with raised claw.

"What if she thinks I didn't defend Ponyville well enough, or that I should've found some friendship lesson in all of this?"


Startled from the sudden yell, Twilight looked to Spike, who was pointing into the sky.

"Spike?" She questioned.

"What am I pointing at?"

She looked up from his finger into the open sky.


Spike nodded. "And where are we standing?"

She looked down to the smouldering remains of her library home.


"I don't think we need to pack, Twilight."


"Well, it's not like ah got anyplace left to look after." Applejack groaned, motioning her head to Sweet Apple Acres.

"That's great! Maybe Celestia will have a place for everypony in the palace while Ponyville is rebuilt!"

"Yeah, swell." Applejack deadpanned, and her barn decided to collapse in agreement.

"See you at the train station!" Twilight called, running to the home of her next friend with Spike trudging after her on his stubby legs.

"Darn evil forces."


<My Queen, we may have a problem.>

<Oh? What is it, Lanius.>

<A fire has spread from the fighting in Ponyville and is threatening White Tail Woods.>


<We may have to relocate the hive if it gets too close.>

<I understand. Is there a source of water nearby? Perhaps we could douse the flames.>

<We've tried that already, my Queen. It is magical in nature.>

Hmm... Oh! I know a pony for that.

<I have an idea. I will travel to Canterlot for a solution. Keep me informed of the fire's progress.>

<Yes, my Queen.>


A full day later, Aze was awaiting her turn for an audience with Princess Celestia in her mini-hive quarters.

Twilight, her five friends and Spike were also waiting.

Garotte, most of all, was in full panic mode. Celestia had called in EVERYBEING. She even told her about it! Aether's mother, his Aunties, and the three Princesses, all to speak with her about Aether. She was completely bucked. At best, she could get a quick hanging and be done with it all. Maybe she could leap from a window and be spared the torture? Should she leave a note?

A knocking at the door.

"C-come in?" Here we go!

A shy looking yellow coated mare with pink hair and soft blue eyes poked her head through the door.

"Hello? I hope I'm not disturbing you." She softly said.

"Uh... Not at all!" Garotte nervously chucked, her fear rising as she knew they had sent the heavy artillery. The cute side-hero.

She walked a bit more from the door into the room, quietly closing it behind her and turning to face Garotte. "Um... Hello. My name is Fluttershy. What's yours?"

"I'm Garotte... Didn't they brief you before sending you in?"

"Brief me? I just wanted to say hello... I could leave if I'm bothering you..." She looked sad and turned towards the door.

Oh, my heart! Curse you noble fiends!

"Wait! You don't have to go... I'm just suspicious is all. Nopony has come in here to speak with me unless they were interrogating me."

She turned around with a suprised look on her face. "Interrogating you? That sounds awful!" She voiced in quiet shock.

"It's... actually not that bad. No torture or beatings... At least yet."

"You didn't say anything to make them upset, did you? That would be terrible if they treated you badly when you're only trying to help."

"N-no! I haven't been able to tell them anything even if I wanted to. I Pinkie Promised..."

Her eyes became wider for a moment. "Oh..."

"Do you... Want to talk about things? I'm not a bad pony." Garotte said with sincerety.

"That sounds nice. Do you have anyplace comfortable we could lay down to talk?"

Garotte became nervous. "Um... Only the bed, but I don't want you to feel awkward."

She smiled. "That's okay. I share a bed with alot of my animal friends all the time. I think it would be nice to share one with another pony for once."

Oh. Well that went well.

"Well, hop on up and we can talk!" Garotte said cheerfully, turning away in time to miss the flash of Pink from 'Fluttershy's' eyes.


"Princess Celestia, thank you for seeing me." I bowed politely.

"Of course, Queen Aze. What troubles you?"

"There is a great danger to the White Tail Woods, and I request your assistance."

"Are there raiders in your lands?"

"No, it is a bright orange fire that refuses to be extinguished. We believe it is magical in origin, and have no means to counter it."

Celestia hummed. "I will see if my student, Twilight Sparkle, has a method of solving this. She will inform you directly."

"Thank you, Princess."

I then exited with a bow, and walked towards my quarters. However, something I hadn't heard before stopped me in my tracks.

Fluttershy. Being loud.

Backpedaling, I came to an unlocked door and slowly opened it. I saw a grey coated unicorn with gradient white and black mane and tail, laying next to Fluttershy who was giggling with her hoof covering her mouth.

Fluttershy doesn't giggle... At least I think she doesn't?

And where are the guards?

Poking my head through, I announced myself.


Twin yelps of surprise.

"Queen Aze?!" The grey coated mare gasped.

"You know her?" Fluttershy asked.

The unicorn tried to speak, but something lodged in her throat and she was reduced to coughing.

"Oh my!" Fluttershy exclaimed, trying to squeeze the mare's stomach until she coughed out an ethereal apple.

"S-sorry. Can't say."

"That's okay." 'Fluttershy' said, patting the mare on her back.

"Fluttershy, my memory fails me." I started, testing the knowledge of this impostor. "How did we first meet?"

"Oh! You came to my cottage, remember?"

"Right. I remembered you offered me something, but I refused as I couldn't eat cookies."

'FakeShy' nodded. "Uhuh!"

"Thank for for your help. Good luck to you, mysterious friend of Fluttershy." I offered with a nod.

I then calmly left the room, and headed right back to Celestia.




Celestia was slightly suprised. "Queen Aze? I hope everything is to your liking in your quarters..."

"The room is perfect. I come for a different matter. An infiltrator is currently with a grey coated mare in your care, and thought you should know."

"Are you certain?" Celestia asked, rising from her chair and setting her tea down.

"They were Fluttershy, being loud."

"I see. Come with me, and we'll apprehend this spy."


Garotte was disturbed from her relaxing time with Fluttershy when another knock sounded at the door.

"Come in!"

And then the door opened to horror. Princess Celestia and Queen Aze, flanked by six royal unicorns.

"I didn't do anything!" Garotte yelped, hiding under the covers.

"Oh, you must be here for me." Fluttershy said while looking to the floor.

"Reveal yourself, impostor." Celestia commanded.

In a burst of pink flame, Fluttershy transformed into Queen Song, standing over Garotte on the bed.

"I guess Granny gave me away?"

Aze nodded.


"What have you done with the real Fluttershy?" Celestia demanded.

"Huh? Oh, she's fine. She's taking care of our zoo in our secret evil lair!" Song replied with childlike glee.



"Right. What is the purpose of this?"

"To see if a Pinkie Promise was breakable. Turns out, its a doosie!"

Celestia raised an eyebrow. "You were seeking a way to release yourself from your Pinkie Promise?"

"Nope! We were wondering if you could escape yours" she taunted.

Garotte, meanwhile, was slowly inching her way under the covers towards the edge of the bed, where she could drop down and hide beneath.

"Why would I break the promise?"

"Well~ lets just say we don't think you're very trustworthy. Heroes tend to stab villains in the back at earliest convenience."

Celestia glared at Song. "We don't have time for this. Seize her!" She commanded, and her guard sprang into action by hurling stun blasts at the changeling Queen.

And said blasts deflected off of her, due to her runed shell with enchanted defenses.

"Well, that was fun. Bye, Great Auntie!" Song saluted, before leaping out of the window and taking to the skies.

"Get some Pegasus to follow her!"

"Celestia, if I may." Queen Aze asked.


"I have connections everywhere. Let my changelings follow her."

Celestia then looked annoyed at Aze. "Didn't you visit their citadel in person?"

Aze made a zipping motion across her lips. "Pinkie Promise."

Celestia sighed in aggravation. "Those promises will be the death of me."


Later that day, Garotte was in a well lit and comfortable room. Wintergreen tea and a blueberry muffin were in front of her on a table, and the room itself was precisely 'cheery'. This set Garotte's internal red flag launcher to rapid fire.

Tea time with the Princess? I'm doomed!

She was sitting across a very calm and collected Princess Celestia, whom was sipping on tea of her own and staring at Garotte. Nopony had spoken a word since she had invited the Delegate of Evil into her tea room, and guards were curiously absent.

Or, more worryingly, the Princess wanted to deal with Garotte without witnesses.

Garotte gulped, having not yet eaten anything and being extra wary of poisons or tricks that the leader of heroes might pull. If she said anything, the Promise would get her instantly, and there was no escaping a promise made to The Pink One.

Shifting her hooves and looking around the room discreetly, she noticed several documents and scrolls strewn about. Some had very fancy writing; others had chicken scratch. Returning her focus to Celestia, she almost leapt out of her coat. She was staring directly at Garotte, still never having said a word.

"Uhm... Eheh?" Garotte chattered nervously, not knowing what to say and feeling like she was going to fall apart at any moment.

Celestia's eyes slowly narrowed, and Garotte imagined them as two guillotines, falling on her neck.

"Do you have any friends, Ms. Garotte?" Celestia suddenly asked.

Garotte herself was sweating profusely at this point. "N-no! No friends." She stammered, trying not to fall over from fear.

"Was this your choice, or circumstance?"

"I don't want to talk about it..."

Celestia took a sip of tea, before floating over several scrolls. She then unraveled one, and read from it.

Canterlot Police Department

Time: 12:43 PM
Date: Fourth of Marelin, Year 989 AB

Previous Record: Three accounts of assault and attempted strangulation.
Current Crime: Attempted strangulation.

Suspect's plea: "This is a HUGE misunderstanding!"
Suspect was in tears. This investigator is inclined to disbelieve suspect's assertion that 'she hugs too strongly'.

Recommend one month's time in rehabilitation clinic.

Celestia looked from the report to see Garotte's face buried in her hooves.

"There are seven more just like this."

"It wasn't on purpose!" Garotte cried. "I didn't want to hurt anypony!"

Celestia took a moment to think as Garotte attempted to gain a hold on herself.

"Are you 'Evil', Ms. Garotte?"

A look of pain and confusion greeted Celestia, before Garotte hid her face again.

"I see."

Celestia stood, and walked slowly towards a nearby door.

"I have somepony I'd like you to meet, Ms. Garotte."

"H-huh?" Garotte looked from her hooves towards Celestia, to see Twilight Sparkle staring at her. Previous anger and distrust quickly being replaced with confusion and concern.

"Princess Celestia... what is she doing here?" Asked Twilight, her scowl returning.

"She is the mare that needs your help, Twilight. She has never had a friend in her life."

"But she's evil! She brainwashed all of Ponyville to join the Forces of Evil before Princess Luna showed up!"

The Solar Princess sighed. "My faithful student, please. I think that Ms. Garotte here is no more 'evil' than you or I. She simply lacks something that the both of us have had our entire lives."

Twilight and Garotte were both confused.

"What is that, exactly?" Twilight asked.

"The opportunity for friendship."

"You're kidding!" Twilight yelled, but a stern look from Celestia was all that was needed.

"I understand your hesitation, Twilight. I would not expect you to jump at this opportunity, but imagine how many other ponies were never given the hope that friendship brings? How many of those in the army of evil never had a second option?"

Twilight looked from Celestia to Garotte, who was hiding behind her hooves, still distraught from the memories dragged to the surface by the entire situation.

"All I ask is that you give her a chance to make friends."

Twilight seemed to freeze, taking stock of the situation and all the implications that had gone unsaid. Like what would happen to Garotte if she simply walked away from it all. What would happen to those that served evil if they never wanted to, but were left no choice. Those that could be so much more if somepony just...

Twilight then walked slowly over to Garotte, extending a hoof until she noticed. With blurry vision, Garotte saw her offering a hoof.

Garotte took Twilight's offer with a hopeful smile and a sniffle.

Maybe things would look up for Garotte, maybe Twilight could see a friend in anybeing, and maybe Celestia could give hope to the hopeless again.

Maybe Tirek would return from Tartarus.

Pfft. Fat chance.


View Online

Garotte and Twilight sat opposite each other in Celestia's dining hall. Plates of bronze and silver with matching forks, knifes and spoons were resting atop cloth napkins with Celestia's cutie mark as a design on them. The table itself was mahogany wood, with coasters aplenty to prevent water damage from sweaty drinks. Their meal had been provided by the Sun Princess, given that the two socialize and attempt to bond.

It was Celestia's never ending crusade to unite the world through friendship, even if some needed more 'convincing' than others. Twilight, as her pupil, was following the same philosophy. Despite her hopes, Twilight was still wary of Garotte's motives. So far, all Garotte had done was wear her 'evil' uniform for some reason, and sit nervously while looking everywhere but in Twilight's direction. This pattern was broken as Twilight tried to bite into her sandwich. (Spinach, olives, tomato and some daffodil.)

"So..." Garotte began, smiling uncertainly and averting eye contact. "What do... 'Heroes'... do?"

Twilight raised an eyebrow. "Heroes?" She then set her sandwich down, untouched. "We're not 'Heroes'. At least I'm not."

"Oh, um, my mistake." Garotte replied meekly, reminding Twilight of a certain pegasus.

"Why do you think I'm a hero?"

Garotte looked up and met eye contact for a moment, before hiding behind her mane and absent mindedly petting the bangs nearest her face. "Well... you and your friends defeated Nightmare Moon, Discord, Sombra and a bunch of other 'Evil' things... So doesn't that make you a hero?"

Twilight didn't see it that way. "I wasn't out there with my friends to seek glory for a quest, if that's what you mean."

"No!" Garotte blurted. "I just..."

She was clamming up again, and Twilight had to act fast. "It's nothing to worry about; I'm just interested in your view of everything. I didn't think that somepony that seems as nice as you would join the Forces of Evil."

Garotte was tempted to explain, but she knew that Twilight was only trying to pry information from her, or get her to do something she would regret. She had no reason to trust anything Twilight said, and remained silent. She also slid down her chair for good measure, and to appear smaller.

"Sorry..." Twilight offered.

Garotte instead chose to take command of the conversation. "So, um... What is having friends like?"

Twilight seemed stunned by this for a moment, but she soon mastered herself. "It's like having somepony always there that you can rely on. Somepony who cares about you, your day, and who's opinion matters to both of you. Like having somepony you can be completely silly around and also share serious moments. It's like having somepony that you can fully be yourself around. That's what a true friend is, at least."

Garotte took a moment to process this. "Well, I'm pretty sure I've never had that. I mean, I've had ponies and griffons that I've known by aquaintence, but nothing that special."

Twilight took this as an opportunity. "I could show you around Canterlot, if you want." Her voice was carefully toned to not convey her growing excitement about the idea. Maybe if she could turn Garotte from evil with the magic of friendship, then she could save everybeing else!

"Are you sure that's a good idea? My face will be all over CNN..." She hid behind her hooves as her head rested on the table in front of her. Her own sandwich was Olives, Lily, Tomato and a slice of bacon. (She lived in the Griffon Empire for a few years, and the taste was exceptional, despite the inability to digest it.)

"Well... maybe you could leave your uniform here, and we could go to a Spa to get your mane fixed?" Twilight offered.

Garotte looked to her mane. It was a gradient of black at the roots to white at the tips, shades of grey in between. It was scraggly and messy, a habit of living on the streets was to give up on mane-tenence entirely. She liked her mane the way it was. It reminded her of harsher times where she had survived.

"No... but thank you for the offer, Twilight."

'Well, at least she's using my name.' Thought Twilight.

"Whatever you're comfortable with. It must be really jarring to be rescued from evil." Twilight hopefully smiled.


Twilight's smile vanished.

"I had everything going my way before the attack on Ponyville." Garotte was morose. "I had a home, food, a job, health benefits, a retirement plan..." She looked to Twilight, pushing her sandwich away. "Now I'm stuck in Canterlot of ponies that only care for themselves." She growled with a slightly higher voice of anger.

"Garotte, please!" Twilght tried to calm her. "Getting angry won't fix anything."

Garotte was angry, true. But she knew if she caused any scene or injury, she would go to the dungeons or worse. "F-fine." She stammered, and promptly sat down.

Twilight decided to shift the focus of the conversation. "Why do you wear that uniform?"

Garotte was peeled from her brooding before it could begin, and looked at her uniform. "Well, um... this is embarassing..."

"That's okay. I won't make fun of you." Twilight said reassuringly.

"It... It was given to me by the nicest stallion I've ever met, and I owe him alot."

This interested Twilight. Maybe they could find common ground after all.

"What was his name, If you don't mind me asking?"

"I don't know if I should say..." Garotte replied, shinking further into her seat and using her forehooves held together as a bulwark towards Twilight.

"You don't have to if you feel uncomfortable."

Garotte was silent for little over a minute, and her reply changed the conversation once more. "Do... um." She scratched her cheek with a forehoof. "Could we visit Canterlot after all?"

Twilight had to restrain herself from jumping with excitement, and managed a very eager sounding, "Yes!"


Meanwhile, across the city and causing quite a commotion, was Queen Chrysalis and some fifty of her changelings. Attacking? No.


Chrysalis had taken the Idea of the Flim Flam brothers into account, and used her connections via disguised changelings to purchase a large storefront in the tourism district of the wealthy city. Her changelings, as well as herself, were always in desperate need of love. The idea of the two salesponies was to make a profit from the needs of royalty in Canterlot, whom were known to be exceptionally needy and vain. It was then her idea to have her own changelings disguise themselves as various celebrities and nobility, and offer the services of their changeling nature summarised as the storefront's namesake.

1-Night Stand

The Queen had aquired all of the legal documentation, a pony sponsor by the name of Fancy Pants, and a review by an up and coming stallion named 'Satisfaction' (Herself, of course.)

"One Night Stand receives a one hundred percent Satisfaction guarentee of excellence."

She still loved that witty pun.

She had advertised on CNN, and the final portions of the grand opening were underway. All that remained was to entice customers inside. It wouldn't be too hard, given that the Nobility or fans thereof aways had a need to either look at themself or gawk, respectively.

Her own hive could only communicate vocally under disguise, or with unintended mutations from Chrysalis' own unperfected skill at alchemy.

"Queen Chrysalis, we are ready to begin." A changeling disguised as Sapphire Shores stated plainly.

Chrysalis glowered at this one. "If you're going to play a role, at least pretend to be in character."

"A lesson learnt from experience?" It quipped.

Chrysalis was about to backhoof that changeling when she caught sight of a pony she hadn't been expecting.

Twilight Sparkle.

Oddly, she was accompanied by some grey unicorn mare. Becoming interested, she sensed for love in the air and found only sparks of familiarity between them. Bah.

Putting on a friendly face, 'Celestia' (Chrysalis in disguise) intercepted the duo. "Twilight! I was not expecting to find you in a place such as this."

Twilight was instantly suspicious, and her friend had nearly melted into the floor with fright like a dropped pail of water at the sight of 'Celestia'.

"Princess Celestia?" Twilight asked with bewilderment.

Garotte whimpered.

"You were not expecting me in my own city?" Chrysalestia replied.

"Not so soon, to be honest." Twilight then shifted her focus from the impostor to the store itself.

Two stories, a great deal of rooms. Pink and red decor, possibly to incite passion, and soft carpetting. Paintings or pictures were along the walls of the lobby, where customers could pick a Celebrity and a price.

"What is this place?" Twilight asked.

"Succinctly explained; a changeling love store."

Twilight made a face. "Huh?"

Chrysalestia resisted the urge to peel off her own face with irritation at Twilight's density, but swiftly recovered. "Think of it as a 'Changeling Novelty Store'."

Not knowing what that was either, Twilight opted to pretend that she knew, and nodded in understanding.

"Would you or your friend want to browse the selection?" Chryslestia asked with barbed wording, causing Garotte to flinch. She motioned towards all of the portraits.

"Uh... nothanks!" The friend replied.

Twilight considered her response, and replied, "This place seems nice; not that I trust it. Be safe, Princess Celestia." She gave a polite bow afterwards.

"To you as well, my faithful student."

Chrysalis watched them leave, and returned to her original self as the door chimed.

"I'm getting better!" She quietly cheered to herself.


Garotte and Twilight were walking along; a distance of awkward proportions between them. They looked more as two seperate ponies traveling in the same direction than anything else. Garotte had insisted on wearing her uniform out in Canterlot, and Twilight had opted to go bare, as she was more comfortable that way.

"I'm sorry about what happened back there." Twilight opened. "I wasn't expecting Princess Celestia to be back so soon."

Garotte was silent, but twitched her muzzle in reply. Feeling nervous and a sense of failure, Twilight offered another activity the two could try.

"We could grab something to eat at Pony Joe's!" She chirped excitedly.

"We just ate, and I'm still full." Garrote replied tiredly. "Thanks though."

Twilight grumbled internally. It shouldn't be this hard! She had befriended all of her friends without even trying. Although, maybe Garotte had alot of evil preventing her from making friends? Should she run tests?

No, that wouldn't work. How do you even 'scan' for evil?

"Maybe we could watch a movie together?" She offered.

This got a somewhat enthusiastic response. "Oh! That sounds like something to do."

"Great! I know just the place!"

Garotte had followed behind Twilight through the winding streets, going largely unnoticed suprisingly to her. She had expected rotten fruit to be hurled towards her at least. She wasn't complaining.

The night air combined with a cloudless sky had brought Garotte to a halt. She was used to living in smog dense ghettos or places where the buildings were so high you couldn't see the sun or the moon. Not even to mention the stars. Garotte had sat down on the sidewalk, causing a few aristoponies to grumble as they shifted past.

Garotte was too busy seeing the stars for the first time to really care.

Twilight had walked half a block before her ears detected a missing quartet of hooves that were supposed to be following her. Turning around and looking with brief panic, she saw Garotte sitting in the middle of the sidewalk and blankly staring at the sky.

Thinking something had gone wrong, Twilight hurried over to Garotte. "Garotte? Are you okay?" She called, and received no reply.

Garotte was awestruck. Countless points of light all shimmering with seperate yet combined beauty; arranged in artistic patterns depicting animals, events and monuments to the past and hopes for the future. The moon itself being a massive beacon of cool light blue and illuminating the cobblestone streets of Canterlot, casting an eerie feel to the city of marble and gold.

Garottw felt something on her chest, and looked down to see Twilight's hoof. She then followed the hoof to the face of its owner.

"Garotte, are you okay?!" Twilight asked in panic.

"Stars..." Garotte wistfully replied in awe, her hoof pointing to the night sky in all its glory.

This confused Twilight greatly. Had Garotte been raised in a hole her entire life? How had she never managed to glance upwards until now? Was this a distraction?

Twilight then made paranoid glances over her withers, and refocused on Garotte.

She was just sitting there. Her frazzled and unkempt mane pushed from her face so she could see with both eyes. Her mouth slightly open and turned upwards in a smile. Her hoof was still raised, as if trying to reach and grab a star to take with her.

Twilight observed this, and decided if there was going to be any hope of becoming friends with Garotte, that she had to share this moment with her.


<My Queen, your requested report is ready.>

<Thank you, Gaius. You may proceed.>

<Yes, my Queen.> A short pause. <The attack on the town of Ponyville has amounted to One hundred fourty seven thousand, eight hundred fifty three bits in property damage. (147,853)>

<Loss of life?>

<Several scrapes or bruises, and a single bloodied muzzle.>

Wow. That was fairly outstanding.

<How much to repair the damages?>

<To replace what was lost, or to improve?>


<Let's go with the 'Improve' option.>

<A half million bits will modernize and reinforce Ponyville and Sweet Apple Acres from further attack. We would also install a Royal Guard barracks and a town wall to deter the smaller creatures that attack or disrupt the town. A new library and accompanied books to fill it will cost a seperate twenty thousand bits.>

<And what of the train station?>

<Several lanes could be opened, as well as a warehouse for shipping and receiving. This would be sixty five thousand bits.>

<Oh, what about the school house?>

<A new building, books and supplies should cost ten thousand.>

<Does this include toys and equipment?>

<Eleven thousand, then.>

<Town hall?>

<Thirty five thousand, six hundred. It would have a more spacious audience hall, efficient filing system as well as stained glass windows depicting the town's history and achievements.>

<Anything we're missing?>

<All of the remaining homes will be accounted for, including Carousel Boutique and Sugarcube Corner.>

<Yes, that was the one. Rarity's home.>

<Would you like the total cost?>

<No, that's alright. We have all the money in the world anyway.>

<As you wish, my Queen.>

Excellent! The first part of Aether's plan had gone perfectly. Now all we had to do was wait for the other parts.

Queen Aze then turned on her Magic Projector screen to watch CNN.

Canterlot News Network!

Bringing you the very best in the business, because nopony else is competing!

"Welcome to the nightly news, everybeing! This is First Responder here on the scene of the grand opening of One-Night stand! Ponies are lined up around the corner to have a one nighter with their favorite pony.

Or are they?

Yes everybeing, you are witnessing the first ever Changeling Novelty Experience store! Have you ever wanted to meet Celestia? Now you can! Have you wanted to spend a night with the Element of Loyalty and Cu-- I mean, cuddle indoors with Rainbow Dash? Now you can!"

The screen sparked, a white static spreading across it.

Oh! Here's the best part!

The screen returned focus to a shaded figure in a crimson robe with glowing red eyes.

"Greetings, citizens of the world."

Two more figures joined, glowing orange and pink.

"We ask you a question." The pink eyed one spoke.

"What do you live for?"

"What do you fight for?"

"What do you strive for?"

"Whom would you die for?"

The red eyes spoke.

"Live, for yourself and those you care for. Fight for your right to exist, and fight to preserve the lives of your friends and family, or your own. Strive to overcome all negativity and nay sayers. Prove to yourself and others that you are exactly who you strive to be. Die for nobeing."

Pink and Orange take turns speaking.

"Ask the ghost how they fought for country."

"Ask the Immortal how they fight for peace."

"Ask the wise why they wither away."

"Ask the wizard why they study."

"They will say 'to be a hero', 'to save the world', 'to teach the new generation' and 'because theres too much to learn'. I ask why waste time when you can outlive them all, and persue your dreams."

Return to the red eyes.

"Take control of your life, and live to the fullest. Let nothing stop your rise to the top."

All three speak in unison, joining their hooves towards the screen.

"Join the Forces of E.V.I.L. today, and take charge of your life, and other's, today."

A message appears across their hooves, saying 'Press here to accept enrollment.'

"Time waits for nobeing. Will you?"

The commercial pauses for ten seconds before fading to static, and resuming CNN as if nothing happened.

"Bravo!" Aze cheered at her screen.


Garotte was still stargazing.

Twilight could be enthusiastic about nearly any learning experience, especially stargazing, but they didn't even have a telescope! How were they supposed to study and identify all the different constellations and patterns by blindly looking up?

She looked at Garotte, who had a happy smile on her face, looking everywhere at all the stars with almost foal-like glee. Twilight sighed, which broke Garotte from her trance.

"Oh!" Garotte suddenly blurted, and held her forehooves to her cheeks. "I'm so sorry! I didn't even notice how long I was taking!"

She was mortified, Twilight noticed. This caused a conflict with her perceptions of Garotte. Why would she care about any impact her actions had if she was evil? Even then, evil things don't stargaze.

"Are... um..." Garotte fumbled, her hooves held together in front of her chest while she sat. "Did I upset you?" She asked apologetically.

Now Twilight was even more confused. Evil doesn't apologise, period.

"Twilight?" Garotte asked with concern.

"Garotte..." Twilight began suddenly, causing the grey unicorn to jump slightly. "Are you really evil?"

The mare's face was one of upset and emotional pain. This caused Twilight to backpedal quickly before all of her friend making momentum went up in flames. "Not that I don't believe you! It's just.. I've never seen anybeing that was 'evil' go stargazing."

Garotte was guarded once more; her messy mane shielding part of her face from Twilight's gaze.

"I'm sorry if I offended you, Garotte. It's just so different being friends with somepony that's... Evil." Twilight softly added. She wasn't even close to being certain if it was the right thing to say to Garotte, but it was pretty much that or call it off.

Garotte looked to Twilight, brushing her mane aside to reveal a weak smile. "Nopony's ever called me 'Evil' before..." Her smile then turned into a grin. "and I've never been friends with a hero either!" She burst into a wide smile, tackling Twilight to the sidewalk and wrapping her forehooves around her in a hug.

A back popping hug.

"Garrote! Too-Tight! Stop! Ga-aaack!" Twilight strained, before her back popped several times and she slumped to the cobblestones.

She was still alive, obviously. (This story doesn't have the tags for anything else.)

Garotte was mortified, dropping beside Twilight and trying to scoop her up with her hooves and magic. "Oh no! Twilight!" She wailed.

"Garotte..." Twilight whispered.

She heard, and listened next to Twilight's face. "I'm here! You're gonna be okay!"


She leaned in, her ear swiveled to Twilight's mouth.

Then Twilight nipped Garotte's ear.

With a yelp, she fell backwarda onto her flank, fretting over her ear. "Aaah!" She had yelped in surprise.

Twilight was giggling up a storm from her spot on the ground.

"Curse your sudden yet inevitable betrayal!" Garotte declared, pointing a hoof at Twilight while nursing her ear with the other.

"Garotte, calm down." Twilight was stull giggling. "I didn't betray you, I pranked you for hugging me so hard."

The grey mare of evil was about to reply, but her declaring hoof remained absent of witty retort.

"That was really good, by the way. I feel like all the tension in my back just vanished."

This worried Garotte. "Can you still move?"

"Psh, of course I can." Twilight calmly replied, slowly becoming 'zen' as Treehugger would say. She then lazily lifted herself to a standing position and moved all her limbs. "See? Totally fine."

Garotte was still nervous. "You... you don't want to call the guards or throw me in rehabilitation or sue me or send me to the coal mines or-" Twilight's hoof stopped Garotte's panic.

"That was great, Garotte. I think I might know a place in Ponyville-" her eyelid twitched as she recalled her smouldering library. "Well, when Ponyville is rebuilt, where you can find a job!"

"A job? What would I do?" Garotte replied nervously.

"Hug ponies all day!" Twilight cheered.

"Um... I don't know, Twilight. My hugs usually get me arrested."

"Oh please, you'll do great!"


"I have the perfect way to introduce you to my friends now, too!"

Garotte had a bad feeling about this. "That would be...?"


Garotte shielded herself from the world and curled into a ball.

The Motives of Evil

View Online

Garotte Wire, (Her full name, as Twilight had learned) was not the most 'studious' of unicorns. Due to the circumstances of her life, Garotte had never had much of any formal magical training. She knew how to lift and manipulate things with her telekinesis, and that was about it. This didn't sit well with Twilight, as she was the Element of Magic. She didn't know how she would even survive without all the spells that she knew, and wanted to teach Garotte anything she was willing to learn.

For her part, Garotte wasn't interested in the first place. Why should she need to use magic, if she had survived just fine as she was? It sounded like a lot of study and practice for very limited results, as she knew that practically only the Princesses were a parallel to Twilight Sparkle, Overlord of overly complex spells and all things related to books. Books, books, books!

'Oh, Garotte, have you read this book? It talks about blah blah blah blah, and brings up blah blah blah.' Garotte mocked Twilight in her head. 'Maybe if you read this book, you would know more about blaaah blaaah BLAH.' Who cares?

Twilight picked up on Garrote's mood and lack of enthusiasm after about thirty minutes of attempting to make a pony read that didn't want to read.

Or... was it that she didn't want to read, or couldn't read?

"Garotte?" Twilight asked.

She was still ignoring Twilight of course, staring out a nearby library window and longing to be anyplace but a library.

Twilight tapped her on the shoulder. "Do you... know how to read?"

Garrote's face scrunched for a moment, before turning to look at Twilight as if she'd sprouted wings. "Yes... of course I can read, Twilight. I just don't find books that interesting in general."

Twilight was nearly at a loss for words. She had made even Rainbow Dash like books! How could a pony not enjoy a good book? Maybe she hadn't found any she liked?

"Garotte, maybe you haven't found anything interesting because you haven't looked for a wider selection?" Twilight hopefully suggested, leaning towards Garotte with a smile.

She chose that moment to fall to the ground on her side, laying atop a beanbag chair she had taken from the foal's reading area because it was comfy. "Twilight, I really don't like books." She stated, wiggling her way into the chair before laying sideways so that her mane acted as blinds against the sun.

Twilight refrained from having an outburst, and opted to reply calmly. "So. What do you like, then?"

Garotte sat upright, or tried as best as she could in the beanbag chair. After some wiggling and magical assistance, she was free from the grasp of the relaxing cushion of lazyness.

"Lets go look around the stores! I'll bet theres something that'll catch your eye." Garotte smiled, before realising she said something she didn't intend. "I-I mean, if you were to want something, and to get it. On your own. With... Uh... not a gift?" She was blushing.

Twilight was taken aback by this display, but chose to put it in the back of her mind. Garotte probably hasn't had much contact with ponies in general, and it wasn't too long ago that Twilight herself was this awkward.

"I'm sure we'll both find something we can enjoy!" Twilight agreed with a smile.

Garotte allowed Twilight to lead the way. As soon as the lavender mare passed, she wiped her forehead with the side of her forehoof. 'Whew. That might've gotten awkward super fast. I only just met somepony other than the Overlords that is being nice to me. No reason to throw everything away based on... urges.' Garotte squirmed in her thoughts before catching up to Twilight, who was further down the road.


Garotte gasped. "They sell Quills?!"

Twilight facehoofed. Garotte hates reading, yet she loves writing? What kind of nonsense is that?

"Twilight, they sell ink too!"

The annoyed mare looked over to Garotte, who was floating around several blank scrolls, ink wells and quills. "Do you know how much I could write with this stuff?!"

Twilight humored her. "How much?"

"Everything!" Garotte cheered, before being shushed by the staff and other customers.

"Let's just get your things and go to another store." Twilight quietly grumbled.

"Okay!" Garotte chirped, bouncing on her hooves and causing a jingly rattle from her items clanging together as she lost concentration.

"Do you want me to carry those for you?"

"No-no! I've got this!"

More precarious wobbling and clattering, before they were placed on the counter. Garotte looked winded. The store mare behind the counter looked as relieved as Garotte when everything didn't go crashing down in a wave of ruined merchandise.

"Find everything you were looking for?" The mare asked.

"Oh! Do you have any Magic-Erase for Ink?" Garotte chirped excitedly, her face lighting up at the idea.

"We have a special for Magic-Erase; buy one get one half off!" the mare replied with practiced cheer.

"I'll take ten!"

This situation went on for several more minutes as the store clerk piled on bargain after deal, including a 'customer appreciation' squeaky toy of a quill. By the time the clerk had finished with her prey, there was a mountain of items that a second, pegasus clerk, had to fly over just to finish the transaction.

"How are we even going to carry all of this?" Twilight pointed out, dismayed at the pile.

"Magic!" Garotte cheered.

"Magic." Twilight deadpanned in retort.

"Yep!" She then pointed to several unicorns that were part of the staff, who smiled bashfully.

"We sometimes get very... 'enthusiastic', ponies." One nervously chuckled. They looked like the store manager.

"Do you have a cart, by chance?" A mare asked, looking around through the window in hopes of a quick trip.

"Nope!" Garotte replied, handling a sack of bits that she had stowed in her mane, somehow. "Oh! Do you sell those too?"

Twilight again smacked herself in the face, sat on the floor and groaned loudly.

"You know, you wouldn't be in pain if you didn't smack yourself so much." Garotte observed, before continuing to pay the merchants.


In total, Garotte had purchased the following:

Everything You'll Ever Need!
Store #4
Couture and Coiffure district, Canterlot

Quills: 50
Pages: 300
Ink Wells: 20
Novelty Type-Writer: 2
CAI - Squeaky Quill: 1
Magic-Erase: 10
Novelty Mini-Cart: 2
I-Love-Writing Shirt: 1
I-Love-Books Shirt: 1
Quill Ear-Holder: 1
Clipboards: 10
Weatherproof Container: 5
Novelty Quill Hat: 1
Poems for Beginners: 1
Poetry for Beginners: 1
Make Reading Fun!: 1
A History of Canterlot: 1
Lullaby for a Princess: 1
Custom Quill Kit: 1
Novelty Ballpoint-Pen: 1

Total Items: Lots
Total Cost: 435 Bits
Membership: Signed Up
Discount: 10% Hero Discount (Twilight Sparkle)
Discount: 10% Ambassador Discount (Ambassador of Evil)
Discount: 10% Royalty Discount (Protege)

Adjusted Cost: 305 Bits
Amount Paid: 320
15 Bit tip

Membership Rewards: 42 Bits off next purchase

Holding the receipt and not believing her eyes, Twilight Sparkle followed behind Garotte with a 'Novelty Mini-Cart' hitched to her. Garotte had one as well, and Twilight made a point to bring up saddlebags. This had caused Garotte to become even more excited, and she soon set off to find more things to buy with her seemingly limitless wealth.

Seriously. She never ran out of money. How did she even keep all of it in her mane without it pulling her to the ground? It must weigh a ton!

"Oooh, Twilight!" Garotte gushed, causing Twilight to focus on the present. "Look!"

Garotte was pointing at a clothing store, with a display of a pony using fairly large saddlebags. They were grey and crimson, just like Garrote's uniform, and had attracted her attention.

"Um... wouldn't you rather have something that matched your eyes?" Twilight offered, remembering at least some fashion tips that Rarity had mentioned.

Her suggestion caused Garotte some pause. For some reason unknown to Twilight, she had practically spaced out. Checking to make sure, she even waved a hoof in front of Garotte's face. She was totally out of it for a good moment before blinking back to reality.

"No. It's okay." was her reply. She then put on a smile and replied with tone resembling the forced cheer of the sales ponies. "So! Would you like to get anything? I've noticed you haven't bought much."

Twilight half-smiled, "That's fine. I don't have much spending money anyway. I usually just buy what supplies I need for my studies anyway."

Garotte's eyes searched Twilight's face, darting around as if taking in every detail. She then sighed, looking away for a moment before returning her look. "You know what?" Garotte made a tiny stomp with her hoof. "I'm going to buy you something."

"What?" Twilight didn't know what to say. Had she made friends with this 'evil' pony so quickly?

"Anything you want, Twilight."

"But... why?" Twilight was skeptical, Her eyebrow raised.

Garotte took a moment to breathe deep before sighing. "I don't expect you to understand hardship, Sparkle, not like I do. When you live your life with nothing, you'll see where I'm coming from. I have everything, even If most of it is out of my reach. The least I can do for my first friend is buy them a gift."


Trying to soothe over the nerve she had unintentionally flash fried, Twilight maneuvered her cart around so that she could give Garotte a hug. "Are you okay?"

Garotte stood there in Twilight's embrace unmoving, before finally relenting and returning a partial hug with a hoof. "I'm fine." Then, to Twilight's surprise, Garotte started speaking angrily.

"Bubbles." She grumbled.

"Bubbles!" She shouted.

"Bubbles!" She yelled, causing ponies nearby to look worried.

"Garotte, what are you doing?" Twilight hissed, trying to avoid the stares and glares.

Garotte was now giggling. "I just can't!"

"Can't what?"

"Try it!"

"Garotte, you're not making sense and ponies are staring!"

"Say 'Bubbles' as angrily as you possibly can."


"Just do it!"

Twilight grumbled. "Bubbles."

"Come on, get really into it!"

"Bubbles!" She shouted, and the ridiculousness of the situation was starting to get to her.


"Bubbles!" Twilight yelled as loudly as she could, her magic unintentionally causing some windows to rattle as she went overboard.

"There! Still angry?"

Twilight took a moment of introspection. She was in fact... no longer mad. How did that even work?

"Is that a calming spell of some kind?" Twilight asked, now interested.

"Nope! It's something I learned when I was living on the streets!" Garotte chirped, before gasping and covering her mouth with her hoof.

"Wait. You were homeless?"

"Not important!" Garotte squeaked, turning away from Twilight and cantering off. "Come on! We need to find you something you like!"

Twilight sighed. Garotte was probably the second strangest pony she had ever met. Actually, third? Does Queen Aze count as a pony?


A library. Had to be a Library. Of course! Why wouldn't it be a Library with Twilight Sparkle involved.


"So, Do you know what you have in mind?" Garotte asked.

"Oh, yes! There was a written compendium of Starswirl the Bearded's spells, writings and even musings! It should be somewhere over here." Twilight cheerfully replied with nerdy enthusiasm.

"Good luck finding it! I'm going to look around, I guess." Garotte called after Twilight, who had run off in search of her book.

Well. I've always liked poetry. It says a whole lot more than a book does, and with fewer words too! Maybe they have a selection of poems I could look at?

With this in mind, Garotte began searching around. She had once again stumbled into the foal's section of the library, as she was naturally drawn to the beanbag chairs that decorated the area. She sat down in one of them, moving around to make a spot for herself, before standing up again. She would use this chair as her lair, and return there when she had found something worth reading.

Looking around, she spotted Twilight in what looked like a heated argument with an older stallion. She figured that Twilight would be alright, given that she had fought with the god of chaos and won.

Maybe she should just write her own poetry? It would be more time consuming than just browsing the works of others, and it could probably be entertaining too. She certainly had the supplies for anything she'd ever want to write, anyway.

Deciding that this would be the best use of her time, she brought her mini-cart next to the chair and promptly plopped into it, sinking below the sides and feeling like she was being hugged from nearly every direction. Beanbag chairs are great.

Meanwhile, Twilight had just finished winning her argument with an older scholarly pony that insisted on Starswirl being a swindler and a hoax. This was impossibly ignorant, and Twilight had argued until the other pony was blue in the face. This was a feat in itself, as the pony had a deep rose colored coat.

"Twilight Sparkle?"

Guh. It was the old stallion again.

"Yes?" Twilight snipped, though trying to remain polite as her temper would allow. "What do you want, Rosebud?"

Rosebud coughed into his hoof, and pointed towards the Foal's section. Twilight had taken so long that Garotte had passed out in a beanbag chair, and ponies were trying to wake her. She was snoring very loudly and getting drool on the furniture, as well as some paper with writing on it.

"Oh!" Twilight spotted Garotte, then sheepishly smiled to Rosebud. "Um, thanks. Sorry."

He nodded, and slowly walked off in search of other ponies to hassle and or confuse. Twilight first found the book she had been looking for, (Everything Old Wizards Didn't Want You To See!) and checked it out at the library desk without incident. All that was left was to deal with Garotte and wake her up.

Setting her book in her own cart, Twilight soon politely pushed past the small group of shushing ponies that had yet to wake Garotte up. A few had given her some concerned looks, and Twilight noticed that Garotte had been writing something. Her quill and ink well were out, and a single page lay across her lap, a bit of ink having gotten into her mane and smudged some writing.

Using her magic, Twilight lifted the page from Garotte and read.

Garotte's attempts at poetry, part 1

If you're reading this, you shouldn't be!

Here goes. Took me a while to figure out what to say for this one, but I hope it gets my message across.

Take a good look; call me a thug.
Walk right past? I would've given a hug...

Take a good look; say that i'm poor.
Call me names, but I'm not a...

Take a good look; scoff and prance away.
What I would give for food, just for a day.

Tell me you're good; tell me i'm bad.

A curse on society? Lamentable Irony!

Take a good look. What do you see?
Criminal, Thief, Orphan and more.

Evil is the path I make,
Because good... I never could take.

I swear, Twilight. If I wake up and see you reading this, I'm going to be very... something.
I'm not sure. I've been trying to find a way to explain everything to you, but I keep seeing the same pony that just won't ever get it.

Lowering the page, and finding Garotte still thankfully asleep, Twilight had a whole list of questions now. Was Garotte homeless her entire life? Did she have no parents? Was she a thief? A Criminal? She had no way of knowing without asking her, but the Garotte she had known so far was light hearted but very sensitive. Not the type she would consider Evil by any stretch. Sure, she had a rough life from what her poem had said, but it still didn't explain everything. Deciding to keep this in mind for later, Twilight set the page down in Garotte's lap before shaking her awake.

"Garotte? I'm ready to leave now."

"No!" Garotte shouted, jolting awake at the touch. She looked frightened when she stared into Twilight's eyes, but that soon vanished as she remembered where she was. Holding her chest, Garotte regained control of herself. "Sheesh, Twilight. You really know how to wake somepony up!"

"It's a talent of mine, I think."

"I think you said you got everything?"

"Yep! It's all in the cart. Now all we have to do is put it in our rooms at the palace, and we can meet my friends!"

Garotte smiled nervously. "Uh, yeah! Heh... friends."

"It'll be fine, Garotte. They're not mean at all, just a little rough until you get to know them."


Before the situation could become more awkward, Twilight turned around and hitched herself to her cart with magic. She offered the same for Garotte, and they soon left for the palace.


Garotte was waiting in a separate room, but she could hear everything being said through the door.

"What do you mean she's your friend?"

"Twilight, 'Aint she the one that turned the town evil for a bit?"

"I don't know how you could befriend a pony like her, darling. An 'Ambassador of Evil'? Honestly, the only thing that was truely Evil was their sense of fashion. Grey, red and black... how Cliche'."

"Um... I liked her mane?"

"Does this mean I get to throw a 'Thanks-for-not-being-evil-anymore-even-though-you-really-are Party?"

"Girls, please!" Twilight yelled. At least Garotte knew one pony's voice in that mess. She wasn't expecting so many friends, considering that Twilight seemed nigh obsessed with books and study. "You're being really hard on her, and she isn't like that!"

"Isn't what, Evil?"

"Yes! Well, I mean she says she's evil, but I don't think she is. She's really nice, and interested in poetry!"

"Of course you would make friends with another Egghead, Twilight."

"She's not an egghead, Rainbow. If anything, she's closer to you in personality than me."

"Really? Do we need two Rainbow's runnin' around?"

"Hey, what's that supposed to mean?"

"Um... everypony?"

"It means yer a hoof full."

"Well duh! Nopony else is gonna be this awesome, so I have to make up for it!"

"Excuse me..."

"That's exactly what I mean, Rainbow!"

"Girls, this isn't helping us. We have a pony waiting on us and it would be terribly rude to ignore her."

Garotte had already entered the room quietly, and spotted Fluttershy. The real Fluttershy, that is. They had shared a moment of awkward glances as the group argued, and Fluttershy had tried to gain everypony's attention. Understandably, the quiet pegasus didn't do so well.

"Fluttershy, right?" Garotte asked quietly, so the others would remain absorbed in their bickering.

"Y-yes, That's me." Fluttershy hid her face behind her mane, caught in the awkwardness between her friends arguing, and the pony they were indirectly arguing about.

"Do you want to go someplace quieter than here?" Garotte whispered.

Fluttershy, surprised to find the 'Evil' pony wanting a place of quiet like herself, happily nodded. She could get past the anxiety of meeting somepony new if it was in a calm and relaxed setting. All of her friends meeting with Garotte at once had seemed more like a tribunal than an introduction to her.

"Ah'm just sayin' that you could stand to tone it down, now an again!"

"Applejack, you clearly don't understand how difficult it is to keep all of this awesome contained in one mare!"

Garotte, walking away from the group with Fluttershy, was particularly glad to not have met all of them at once. She knew that Twilight would have her hooves full just keeping them from strangling another at this point. Maybe the stress of meeting her had set them off? She had expected the Elements of Harmony to be more... harmonious?

She looked over to Fluttershy, who was staring towards the ground and keeping her mane between them like a mirror.

"Are you okay, Fluttershy?"

Her head raised in surprise, and she looked with wide eyes to Garotte. "Um, yes. I'm fine. How are you?" She awkwardly replied, accompanied with exaggerated smile.

"You know, we could save this meeting for another day if you're not feeling up to it."

"No! That's fine. I'm just nervous is all. I've never met an evil pony before; and you seem so nice."

"There's a difference between evil and being a jerk. Evil ponies can be nice, they just have different motives for it is all."

"So... you mean somepony like Sombra could've been nice once?"

"It was probably his nice-ness that caused him to become mean, honestly."

This caught Fluttershy off guard, and she had to stop while her brain rebooted. "Wait, how would being nice make him evil?"

Garotte pivoted around to talk to Fluttershy, whose interest in the subject far surpassed her anxiety. "Well, take Princess Luna for example. Before she was banished, she was the protector of everypony during the night. She would personally ensure the safety of all her subjects while her big sister, Celestia, slept. She would fight off monsters in the night, chase away nightmares, decorate the entire sky, all for the sake of her little ponies. She was probably even more kind than Celestia, in that way." Garotte took a moment to point to a nearby bench, as they were standing in the middle of a hallway and blocking the path of other ponies.

Sitting, Garotte continued. "Because of her selflessness and willingness to help others, they all took her for granted. They rested easy at night, knowing she was there to protect them. Eventually, they forgot that she was even around, because there was no reason to fear the night. Not finding any reason to keep their foals at home during the night time, they started coming up with tall tales and other stories to frighten their young so they wouldn't get lost. Luna, being unable to fight rumors and fairy tales, grew upset that ponies were now avoiding her night all together. Ponies had begun to grow up with stories about the horrors and evils of the dark, so they would just sleep through it entirely. Nearly all of her efforts having come back home to bite her in the flank, Luna became distraught. She thought that maybe if ponies had more time to enjoy the night, then they wouldn't make up such horrible stories and discredit her fight against the actual monsters that occasionally threatened Equestria." Garotte then looked over to Fluttershy, seeing if she was still interested. To her surprise, she was listening attentively and hanging on every word.

"So," Garotte continued, "She went to her big sister and asked her a favor. Perhaps she could leave the moon in the sky just a bit longer, no more than an hour or two, and the ponies would see there was nothing to fear? Well, Celestia knew about her ponies, and she knew the panic that changing their schedules would cause. She denied her sister, and told her to simply speak with the ponies about it." Garotte sighed, coming towards the end of the tale. "Luna tried as her sister recommended, and found that ponies had forgotten her entirely. They had no idea who this 'Princess Luna' was, as she was always asleep during the day to guard the night. They had forgotten that there was even a second Alicorn princess!"

Garotte paused as a guard team walked by, giving her suspicious glances.

"Completely crushed, she locked herself in her room. She had gone over everything she had done out of kindness for her ponies. All the wounds she had endured for their sake, and they didn't even know she had done anything. Her desperation to be accepted by those she had sacrificed so much for became too much for the Princess of the Night to bear, and her grief and sorrow twisted her, transforming her into Nightmare Moon."

Garotte stopped, as everypony knew how that particular story ended.

"Um... Garotte?"

She looked over to see a slightly sad Fluttershy. "Yes? Did I say something wrong?"

"Would you mind finishing the story?"

Garotte blinked. "Why? Doesn't everypony know the end to that one?"

"Well..." Fluttershy scratched her chin. "I've never heard it told by an Evil pony, so I'm interested in your view of things."

Huh... That was unexpected.

"Alright," Garotte smiled. "Just for you, then."

Garotte cleared her throat, and resumed. "As Nightmare Moon, her emotions became a fuel so bright that it overwhelmed her normal, kind self. Nightmare Moon was in charge, not Luna. The Nightmare was going to give reason for her subjects to remember her, and if they couldn't bring themselves to love her as she should've been all along, then they were going to fear her, and never forget."

Garotte glanced around, and finding nopony, she continued. "As Nightmare Moon, her own powers combined with the energy of emotion left her very unstable. She reasoned that everypony would remember the rise of Nightmare Moon if she made a show of it. If she Eclipsed the sun with her moon and challenged Celestia's right to rule Equestria. Moving forward in time, The two fought in the forests of what is now the Everfree. The magics released during that fight were so twisted, so corrupt, that they changed the nature of the land itself. Feeding from those magics, the life in that forest became as twisted as Nightmare Moon, and sought their own path in life. I think that is the reason why ponies don't travel to the Everfree very often; bad memories of things long forgotten but buried deep in our species as some kind of memory, passed down to each generation like the natural instincts of birds to fly south for the winter."

Shaking her head to refocus, she resumed with the main part of the story. Fluttershy was still listening intently. "Celestia, having been defeated by the rage and grief of her sister, used the only option left available to her. The Elements of Harmony." Garotte paused for effect. "Celestia had no idea what the intent of the Elements were going to be. She had wished for a second chance; to ensure that Luna would know how dearly she was loved by her, and to right the wrongs that she had overlooked as unimportant concerns. To her dismay and ultimate regret, the Elements heard her wish, and banished her sister for a thousand years to the moon that Luna controlled. She would get her second chance, and she would have time to ensure everypony knew of The Mare in the Moon."

There was silence for a few moments, before Fluttershy spoke up. "Wow... I've never heard it told with such passion before!"

"Well, there's a reason for it. I think everypony that hears that tale gets something different from it. Sort of like poetry, in a way."

Fluttershy thought for a moment before asking a question. "What does the story mean to you?"

Garotte sighed, "To me, It's a reminder. A reminder that anypony, no matter how noble their intentions or how earnest their goodwill, can become evil from sheer apathy. I'm sure that you wouldn't mind being left alone?"

"Oh! Um... that would be nice."

"But what about forgotten, or ignored? What if nopony ever took the time of day to even spare you a glance, or ask how you were doing? You would be alone, alright. Not the kind that anypony wants, however..."

Garotte was saddened by this, and began muttering to herself.

"Garotte, are you okay?"

Garotte looked up with a tired smile to Fluttershy, and simply said, "Bubbles."

The Pink One Cometh

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"Fluttershy!" A voice shouted from down the hall.

Apparently their argument had just ended, and they noticed their friend had gone.

"Ah swear, If she's done anythin' to poor Fluttershy, I'll-"

Applejack stopped mid sentence as she rounded the corner, seeing the Evil Pony with Fluttershy. Just sitting on a bench. Doin' nothin'.

"Aw, shucks."

Applejack then abashedly walked towards Fluttershy and Evil, her stetson held by a forehoof. "Howdy there, Ms. Evil. Fluttershy." She was uncomfortable.

"Ms. Evil?" Ms. Evil asked with a smirk.

"Applejack! That's so-- um... actually, I don't know if that is rude, or not..." Fluttershy nearly scolded.

"It's okay Fluttershy, I take it as a compliment."

Applejack was going to get this over with before it tormented her any longer. "Say, um... I don't know your real name, but I'd like to apologize."

Both Fluttershy and Evil were surprised by this. "Apologize for what?" Evil Pony asked.

"Well, when you an' Fluttershy went and disappeared, I assumed the worst of ya. I'd like to apologize for thinking badly of you."

Evil was snickering, covering her mouth with a grey hoof.

"Hey, what's so funny? I'm tryin' to say I'm sorry!" Applejack complained.

"It's just, -snrk- It's that you think I'm going to be upset -pfft- for calling me evil! I'm the Ambassador of Evil! I would hope I could live up to my title at least!" Evil then burst into laughter, and Fluttershy awkwardly smiled at the situation.

Applejack glared at the Evil Pony, putting her stetson back to its rightful place on her head. "Yeah, uh huh. Funny."

"Hey, don't be like that, Applejack. Garotte is a very nice pony!"

Applejack's trademark 'Are you serious, right now?' deadpan glare shifted to Fluttershy. "Yer serious. The Ambassador of Evil is a nice pony?"

"Yes." Fluttershy said with more force than was typical of her, amounting to a normal pony confirming their thoughts on a matter. For Fluttershy, however, this was a dramatic event.

Applejack's ears retreated in sympathy to her brain's shock. "Ahright, Fluttershy. I guess you'd be the one to know who's nice n' all; Element of Kindness..."

Garotte had recovered from her giggle-fit, and offered a hoof to Applejack. "Garotte Wire, Ambassador of Evil. Pleased to meet you!"

Applejack shook Garotte's hoof. "Can ah get you anything? I don't know what it's like bein' in a fancy palace all the time, but I'd figure the food is like them fancy restaurants that don't serve you nothin'."

Garotte nodded. "That sounds like a plan!" She looked to Fluttershy. "Would you like to go with us as well?"

"Um, thanks for the offer, but I need a while to relax. A lot has happened today and I'm worried about my animals at the cottage..."

"That's fine, sugarcube. Get your rest, and maybe you could go with Rarity to one o' them Spa's later?"

Fluttershy brightened at the idea. "Oh, that sounds wonderful! Thank you for the suggestion."

"You take care now!" Applejack called after her friend as she took flight. She then turned to Garotte, her previous suspicions about an Evil Pony coming back to mind, as Garotte looked to her innocently.

"So, what place do you recommend?" Garotte asked.

"Well, ah don't spend a whole lot o' time in Canterlot. I know somepony that would know, though. If she gives you any trouble 'bout what you're wearin', just know that she can't help it. That mare knows more about fashion than I do about apples, and that's sayin' alot."

"That would be... Rarity, correct?"

Her suspicion doubled. "How do y'all know 'bout Rarity?"

Garotte returned a friendly smile. "In-depth briefing about the potential Heroes that would come to stop our Evil-ness, of course!"

Applejack then facehoofed. She should've expected that, somehow.

"Why does everypony do that? Doesn't it hurt?"


"So..." Garotte began. She and Applejack were walking side by side down the cobblestone of Canterlot, in search of 'good eatin.' They were also unable to find where Rarity had run off to, and had given up the search and opted to find someplace on their own.

"Somethin' on yer mind?"

"What happened to the other four?"

"You mean Rainbow, Rarity, Twilight n' Pinkie Pie?"

"The Pink One was there?!"

Applejack nearly facehoofed again, but stopped herself short of a twitch. She didn't need that talk again. "Yeah, Pinkie was there. Why do y'all call her 'The Pink One', anyway?"

Applejack looked to see a very serious expression on Garotte. "You have no idea, do you?"

Blinking, Applejack figured that she was just messing with her. "Yeah, sure."

Garotte dropped the subject, as her attention was arrested by a uniquely decorated storefront. "No way! They have these in Manehattan!"

Trotting after the Ambassador, Applejack took note of the castle based decorations, painted in white. They entered into the store with a chime of bell to accompany the event, and Applejack nearly gagged at the smell.

Cooked meat!

Covering her mouth, she waded through several Griffons to reach Garotte.

"Can I get the double LOT with extra Bacon?"

The griffon behind the counter could only stare open mouthed at the grey unicorn before her.

"Yes, I eat bacon. Yes, I'm a pony. Yes, I know I can't digest bacon. Yes, I don't care. Bacon is delicious!" Garotte replied with practiced patience.

All of the Griffon's questions having been answered, she called out the order and gave the unicorn a small ticket with a number on it. Garotte turned to see a visibly sick Applejack covering her mouth with her stetson.

"Are you okay?"

"Are you crazy?" was Applejack's reply.

"No, I'm Garotte. Who are you?" she snickered.

"I'm sick, is what. What the hay is an L.O.T anyway?"

"Lettuce, Olives, Tomato."

"And the Bacon?"


"You know that's pig, right?"

Garotte gasped. "No! Say it isn't so!"

Applejack made a face. "Ya know, I think you might just be perfect for the Ambassador of Evil title y'all got."

Garotte giggled. "Why thank you, Applejack!" She then reached into her mane and pulled out several bits. "Treat yourself to something! They have a 'pony' menu as well." She winked.

Confused, but also thankful of Garotte's generosity, she accepted the bits if only to get out of the horrible store faster. "That's mighty kind of you, Ms. Evil." she smiled.

"Order Six-Sixty Six!" The griffon called, a tray with a single burger, hay fries and a strawberry smoothie held in her claw.

"Oh! That's me!"

Applejack watched Garotte run towards the counter, and couldn't help but feel as if something significant had just happened. She couldn't place the feeling, but she decided it would be simpler to just buy her food and get out of the store before she really got sick. She was about to speak up so that her voice could be heard through all the commotion, when the door chimed and everyfeather and pony went completely quiet. Turning around, she saw somepony she had never expected to see again.

Or should that be someling?

Queen Aze was standing in the middle of the doorway, looking around at everybeing inside of the store with blatant curiosity. Her face was as blank as ever, but her eyes darted around like a fly avoiding a swatter.

"Uh, Queen Aze?" Applejack intoned with a raised hoof to get the Queen's attention.

"Oh?" Aze looked down to see Applejack. "Hello, Apples!"

Applejack closed her eyes, quietly grumbling to herself. "Queen Aze, y'all are in the way." She pointed behind the oblivious queen to the frightened yet still hungry griffons behind her.

Aze looked to her rear, and startled an unfortunate griffon youth with her blank stare. "Oh! I apologize." Her voice was in complete opposition to her expressions. Her voice had always been cheerful and optimistic, almost filly-like. This was greatly offset by the fact that she never made any attempt at expression unless she was trying to get something or influence somepony. It made her more honest, in a way, and Applejack could respect that unintentional integrity.

Aze sidestepped and caused a few griffons to back away from her with confused unease, but she remained completely oblivious to her effects on everybeing present. Well, either she was oblivious, or she didn't show that she knew. She was a changeling, after all. They can sense what you're feelin'.

"So!" Queen Aze spoke up. "What does everybeing do in a place such as this?"

Garotte raised a hoof, her magic holding her OLT+B2 (Olives, Lettuce, Tomato Plus Double Bacon) out in front of her face to bite into. "You buy food here, Queen Aze!" she cheered. "Food like BACON!"

She then promptly bit half of the burger off in one bite, and began joyously chewing and making noises unsuitable for the young of any species.

Applejack was becoming rapidly self conscious; caught between the Ambassador of Evil and a changeling Queen. "Hey, how 'bout we all walk and talk outside?" She hopefully offered the two.

"That sounds like an idea..."

Aze's eyes then when completely dark, and she stood there like a living statue. Applejack always hated when Aze did that. It looked like a corpse had just been left standing there.

The Queen's eyes came back, and Aze cheerfully added to her previous comment. "I will join you for a date!"

If Applejack had been drinking, she would've spat it everywhere. "A what now?!"

If Aze was confused, the only indication was her change in tone. "You've offered to 'walk and talk' with Garotte and I. I had asked the hivemind for similar circumstances and found that a 'three-way date' would apply. Is this incorrect?"

Applejack's mouth refused to produce any words that could be associated with coherent thought and/or intelligence, but Garotte's own mouth was semi-free to make up for that fact.

"Mnyah, ish fine Kween Azhe!" She said with a mouthful of burger and now fries, jutting from her mouth. How did she even speak like that? Could she breathe?

"Excellent! Let us proceed with our 'Three way'!"

Applejack's hoof screamed to collide with her face, and there was nothing she could do to prevent the inevitable comment.

"You know, you should really get that looked at. It could be a medical problem." Garotte said, her mouth free of foodstuffs.

"I would hope that your action causes no injury, Apples." Aze had also said at the same time as Garotte.

The two then shared a knowing glance, and stood on either side of the exit archway for Applejack to regain control of her body and guide them out.


Something wasn't sitting right with Applejack. She knew that Queen Aze was strange, but why was she in Canterlot? Didn't she have queen things to be doing?

"Queen Aze?" Applejack politely asked.

"Yes! I'm here!" Aze jolted. The three of them had been walking as a group, and she seemed very distracted.

"What're you doin' in Canterlot, If you don't mind my askin'?" Applejack was looking upwards towards Aze, who stood at about Princess Luna's height. Her eyes would flicker from time to time, like a candle trying to fight the wind.

"Seeking aid." Was her condensed reply.

"Um, Queen Aze?" Garotte chimed in. "Neither of us are able to access your hivemind, so we have no idea what that would include. Would you mind explaining what you're seeking aid for? Perhaps the Forces of Evil could help!" Garotte grinned at Applejack; the both of them to Queen Aze's sides and slightly behind her.

"Oh! My apologies. There is an orange, magic based fire that is sweeping across the White Tail Woods. We have no way of dealing with such a thing, and I was looking around for Twilight Sparkle, seeing as how the Solar Diarch is busy."

"Ya mean Princess Celestia?"

"Yes, that one."

Applejack didn't know if Aze actually had a hard time remembering everypony's name, or if she just didn't think it was that important of a thing.

"How would Twilight be able to assist, Queen Aze?" Garotte asked.

"I had consulted with the few of my hive that are experienced in pony magics, and they recommended a second opinion from a more experienced source."

"Second opinion on what?"

"Fleeing the forest before it burns down on top of us."

Both Garotte and Applejack stopped at that, exchanging worried looks. Aze, of course, was completely oblivious to this, and continued onward. This forced the two of them to quietly canter forward to make it appear as if they had never left her side.

"Well, I'm sure that Twilight'll come up with somethin'. She's really good with magic; being Celestia's star pupil n' all."

"Do you know where I would find Twilight Sparkle?" Aze asked.

"Just look for someplace with enough books to become a fire hazard." Garotte grumbled.

"You ain't a fan of Libraries?"

"I'm not a fan of dusty old scrolls and books full of things that ponies have gone over countless times."


"This 'Library'... Does it bury lies?" Aze asked.

Applejack and Garotte shared a look.

Aze looked at them expectantly. Or blankly. It was Aze; Who knows?!

"I'm pretty sure it buries a whole lot of things, but it's mainly for knowledge." Garotte said finally, to diffuse the moment of awkwardness.

"This would make sense. Twilight knows many things, and should be found in a place where her knowledge could be shared."

"Oh, you don't talk in libraries. It's against the rules, cause it makes it hard for ponies to concentrate on reading."

Aze blinked. "The purpose of the Library is knowledge, yes?"


"Yet one cannot share their knowledge unless they have written it?"


"What if one were unable to write, or what if they had no other means of passing their knowledge?"

"They could always tell somepony else what they thought."

"But wouldn't they be more likely to listen at a library?"

This like of discussion continued for several minutes as the group made their way to the Royal Library. Aze had been shushed several times, but completely ignored the ponies shushing her.

"Garotte, Apples... why are the ponies hissing at me?" Aze asked, looking at the ponies that were grumpily continuing to shush her.

"They ain't hissin', they're shushin." Applejack whispered, and was promptly shushed.

"Well if they wish for me to be quiet, then they should say so. If they want to hiss at me, then I can provide ample challenge." Aze declared, challenging the nearest pony with a death stare that was all the more amplified by her otherwise blank expression, and the intensification of her glowing magenta eyes against the candle-lit library. The target of her ire then decided she had better things to do with her time, and made hasty retreat from the Changeling Queen.

Thankfully before things could get even more out of hoof, Twilight Sparkle herself was informed of the disturbance and sent forward by the chief librarian to confront the Queen, Ambassador and farmer.

"What are you three doing!?" She quietly hissed.

Queen Aze then loudly hissed in reply, startling Twilight and causing her to screech to a halt. Confused, she looked to Garotte and Applejack for some clue, and they could only shrug.

"Queen Aze?" Twilight asked softly.

"Yes, Sparkle?" Aze replied loudly. For a library.

"Would you mind whispering? You're not supposed to be loud in a library."

"Oh!" She said even louder. "I had not known that I was supposed to be quiet in a library, as I am from a foreign land that has no libraries! How confusing it must be for you, knowing all of this! It would be awkward if someling were to come here, and NOT KNOW WHAT ALL THE SHUSHING MEANT." She shouted towards everypony in the library, scowling at them.

The ponies that had become increasingly agitated were instead mortified that they had not considered this, and bashfully disappeared from sight to avoid the wrath of the changeling.

"Now then." Aze said with a barely audible whisper. "I have been searching for you, Twilight Sparkle."

"Do you need help with something?"

"My hive is burning down to the underground; nothing too big." She waved dismissively with a hoof.

"It's what?!" Twilight yelled.

"Shh!" Aze hissed.

Garotte was sent into a silent giggle fit; Applejack facehoofed, and Twilight glared at Queen Aze.

"You did that on purpose."

"What do you mean, Twilight?" Aze whispered innocently.

Twilight growled in annoyance, but Applejack was already tired of the Queen's antics and spoke for her. "There's some kinda magic fire that's burning her hive out of their hole."

Both Twilight and Garotte winced at the... less than diplomatic wording that Applejack had chosen, but Aze didn't seem to notice.

"Do... you know what's causing it?" Twilight replied, trying to steer the conversation towards something productive.

"No. All we know is that it is an orange flame, based in magic. Water has no effect, and those that we have consulted have never seen anything of it's likeness before. Thus far, it has burned around our hive, but I worry that my hive will not have time to relocate should the flames turn inward on us."

"They're avoiding your hive?"

"So it would seem, though I cannot afford to place trust in magical flames with a will of their own. I will need to know if I must evacuate from our home, or if you are able to provide a counter-spell."

"I should go with you. I'll need to see this spell in person to have any clue of how it works."

"Very well. You shall accompany Goose and I to our hive. I must ask that you Pinkie Promise to not reveal its location, or I must blindfold you."

Skeptical that Aze would actually do that, and then remembering that she gave everypony in Canterlot a house on a whim, she decided to go with the Pinkie Promise instead.

"I Pinkie Promise to never tell anybeing the location of your hive, unless it is in imminent danger and revealing its location would save it. Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye." Twilight replied with the appropriate motions and incantation.

"Unique choice of wording, Sparkle." Aze said in a lower, almost threatening tone. "Well, let us away!" she said loudly, and was nearly shushed. One look from the Queen, however, and the would-be shusher promptly ducked behind a couch. After this minor incident, The two left the Library with hurried pace, as time was of crucial importance.


"Think she'll fix it?" Garotte asked.

"Most likely. She's really good with all that magic nonsense, bein' the Element of Magic." Applejack replied.

"Should we meet another of your friends, in the meantime?"

"Well, I would, but Rainbow Dash went to go stare at some Wonderbolts that were in town. Fluttershy and Rarity are off having a Spa visit, and you've met Twilight and I. That just leaves 'The Pink One'.' Applejack air quoted with hooves, sitting on the floor so she wouldn't fall over.

Garotte shuddered. "I think we can save her for last."

Garotte was suddenly unnerved. There was this feeling like she was being watched by some unseen predator, skulking just out of view. Looking around frantically and causing Applejack to question what she was doing, Garotte wheeled around into the face of death itself.

Sitting behind her, grinning wider than her face should allow and with eyes wide as frying pans, sat The Pink One.

"Aaaaah!" Garotte shrieked, leaping a full pony height into the air; her mane and tail becoming even more frazzled as if electrocuted from shock. The moment her hooves landed on the tile floor, she rolled away from The Pink One behind a beanbag chair, and peeked over to where she was.

Where she used to be...

"Hi!" Pinkie Pie chirped in her ear, causing Garotte to flip out once again and fall on her back in a mad scramble to get away. "My name's Pinkie Pie!" The Pink One cheerfully announced, slowly walking towards her and still smiling.

"Get her away from me!" Garotte cried to Applejack, whom was completely caught off guard and also confused beyond belief at the entire scene. Garotte was close to Applejack, having crawled away from Pinkie, and reached out with a hoof towards her. "Help me!"

Applejack could only look down at the Ambassador of Evil in disbelief, as Pinkie Pie giggled and grabbed hold of Garotte's tail, dragging her away.

"We're gonna get to know each other really well, Miss Evil Pony!" Pinkie said, as Garotte screamed 'Nooooo!' before a door was slammed. Applejack couldn't remember if that door had even been there in the first place, but it was already too late for Garotte when Applejack's mind finally caught up with what had happened.


Applejack looked around, finding nopony left in the now dark library; Pinkie's entrance having simultaneously spooked what few ponies remained, and blew out the candles lightning it as well.

"Anypony?" Applejack called out.

She could swear that somepony shushed her.

"What just happened?"

They Found Out, Finally

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The second that Garotte crossed the threshold of the library and into the Pink One's lair, she knew it was over for her. She had blacked out when the door shut, and her dreams held only nightmares to prepare her for what she had expected to come.

She hadn't expected this.

She was tied with rope and hoof cuffs over that rope, to a steel folding chair. That chair was bolted down to the floor with large railway spikes. The room that she was in was small. No larger than three ponies across, and three wide. It was entirely grey, a color that normally would cause some ponies to long for the bright greens and blues of the outside world. Garotte was not a normal pony, and she had been grey all of her life. There was a square steel table in front of her, pushed close enough to make her even more uncomfortable than the ropes and cuffs had been, as it was hard to breathe. A single light swung overhead, illuminating in a cone directly downward. This effect was entirely unnatural, as all other light in the room had ceased to exist. There was no reflecting lights, no mirrors, nothing. Just a single door, two chairs and a table all visible by the swinging light.

Garotte had tried moving, but this only rattled the chains of the hoofcuffs she was bound by. Even her magic, which she would normally be able to at least untie herself, was of no use. There was a magic nullification ring on her horn, and any attempt at magic gave her a splitting headache. The more she took in, the more her sense of doom crept up on her.

This was the Pink One's domain. She could do nothing, and nobeing would be able to save her from whatever she was planning.

"Hey!" The cheerful voice of The Pink suddenly blurted from behind Garotte, causing her to jerk in surprise and tighten the ropes she was bound by. "I told you I'd get to know you, Eeeeevil pony!" She taunted with a snort.

The most unsettling thing about the Pink One was her voice. It was always cheerful and upbeat. "I sure hope this doesn't take too long! I have a party that I was planning for Ponyville since it's almost rebuilt! Those changelings sure know how to work fast!"

Garotte was able to speak, as the Pink One hadn't gagged her with anything, but she chose to remain quiet. Anything she said could doom her for eternity.

Pinkie then appeared on top of the steel desk in the time it took for Garotte to blink; a questioning look on her face accompanied by the narrowing of eyes at Garotte and the scratching of her chin. She was wearing an older detective novel's outfit, complete with grey trenchcoat, white shirt, black tie and a fedora. Her badge on the left side of her coat said 'Sergeant, Los Pegasus Police, 714' and the right side of her coat had a nametag with 'Sergeant Pinkie Pie' on it.

"So, Miss Evil Pony. What makes you think you're gonna be able to make friends with my friends?" She asked in an over the top Manehattan accent.

Garotte stared with horror at her, as her mind was already running overdrive with all the ways this could go horribly for her.

"Not much of a talker, Eh?" Pinkie then hopped onto Garotte's lap, getting in her face and holding her cheeks with her forehooves. "We'll see about that, missy!" she menaced, before her expression once again brightened to a happy smile.

Garotte gulped, savoring the moment as if it would be her last.


The Pink One knew that this pony was evil. It said so, right on her jacket!

Garotte Wire
Ambassador of Evil

There was only one thing left to do. Make her confess! She stood up on the steel table, using her mane to steady the swinging light because its dramatic affect had been lost, and was getting annoying. Lowering down, she began pacing back and forth on the table, staring suspiciously at the Evil Pony.

"So, Miss Evil Pony." Pinkie began, "You're going to have to do oooone thing for me. Just a teensy weensy thing, and I might spare you."

Pinkie wasn't going to do any such thing as actually harm another pony, as that would make them sad. That didn't mean that she couldn't use her... gifts... for some personal fun, however.

"All you have to do, is Pinkie Promise me one thing, and we can get this show on the road!"

The evil pony looked mortified as her expression sank. She was struggling against the bindings, but it was no use. With a defeated sigh, she relented. "What is your wish, Pink One?"

"Just Pinkie Promise me that you'll always tell me the complete truth to whatever I ask." Pinkie stated.

"But... I have other promises made in your name. What if those would conflict?"

Pinkie squinted, her plan thwarted so easily. "Oooh, you're good."

The pony brightened. "So that means I can leave?" she smiled hopefully.


Her ears flattened and she looked morose.

"Alright, then we'll do this. Pinkie Promise the following. 'I will always tell Pinkie Pie the complete truth to the best of my ability, so long as it does not conflict with another Pinkie Promise. If this is the case, I will state 'Pinkie Promise', and be spared the wrath of the Pink One.' Got it?"

Miss Evil nodded, and repeated what Pinkie had demanded, doing her best to follow through with the rest of the movement based incantations.

"Great! Now that we have that out of the way, we can do some proper interrogating!" Pinkie cheered, pulling up the other steel folding chair and sitting across from Evil, an intense expression on her face that she could only hold for a few seconds before a snicker escaped her lips.

"Now. What were you doing with my friends, on the night of last night, before I abducted you, at the time of last night PM?" She leaned forward intently, her chin upturned as if challenging the evil pony to lie.

"Looking for Twilight Sparkle."

Pinkie half smirked in annoyance. Her interrogation wasn't as dramatic as she was hoping. Maybe use the swinging light again?

She used her mane like a second tail, and reached over the table to knock the light around, causing it to spin between the Evil pony and Pinkie.

"Now; what, Is your quest?"

Evil gave her a questioning look. Pinkie mirrored her look.

"Befriend the Elements of Harmony." she stated.

"What, is your goal?"

"Pinkie Promise."

Pinkie groaned. "Fine!"

Evil was starting to relax, so Pinkie took a mysterious pie from her mane and placed it between the two of them. Evil Pony looked with confusion at this pie, and then to Pinkie, who gave her a malicious grin. That got her sweating again. The pie didn't do anything. It was just a pie.

"Let's try this again." Pinkie put her forehooves together in front of her on the table. "Are you attempting to destroy, harm, enslave, or take over Equestria?"


"Pinkie Promise."

Garotte was starting to be glad for all of the promises she had made, but it wasn't making her feel any safer with how the Pink One was reacting. Her mane seemed to be deflating more and more with every utterance of 'Pinkie Promise', and Garotte felt her time was running out.

The Pink One then placed her hooves flat on the table and leaned forward towards Garotte, her head over the pie. "Okay, lets try this, then!"

She shoved herself away from the table, and opened the door behind her. It revealed nothing except blinding white light; Pinkie's features obscured by the glow. "There's only one way to get out of a Pinkie Promise..." She threatened ominously, before disappearing by walking through the white archway and dissolving.

The door slammed shut, and Garotte was all alone.


Meanwhile, Twilight and Aze had just discovered something of great importance.

"Where are they!?" Twilight yelled, frantically looking through all of the belongings she had brought from the destroyed Ponyville.

"Where is what, Twilight?"

"The Elements! They're gone!"

"This is bad?"

Twilight looked from her suitcase specifically to glare at Aze, before continuing her desperate search.

"I think that implies 'yes'."

Twilight threw the suitcase with her magic into a nearby wall, panicking. "Where would they have gone?!"

"Maybe they were bored?"

"Aze, I'm being serious!"

"So am I. They chose you to represent them, didn't they? Maybe you weren't fighting enough evil for them."

Twilight considered this a moment, before shaking her head. "No, they've waited thousands of years for new bearers to come around. They wouldn't just leave because they got impatient."

"Perhaps you should ask Celestia or Luna if they've seen them?"

"They'd throw a fit! The Elements are crucial to the defense of Equestria!"

"I think they're overrated."


"Your brother and his wife managed to defeat Chrysalis' entire hive on their own. They didn't need a set of jewelry to do it. Therefore, they're overrated."

"Hey Twilight!" Pinkie Pie suddenly said from nowhere, startling Twilight and causing Aze to look around for where the voice had come from.

"Pinkie?" Twilight called out to noplace in particular.


"Where are you?" Twilight was looking around everywhere, and could find neither mane nor tail of the poofy party pony.

"She is everywhere and nowhere. The beginning and the end. She is the Pink One." Queen Aze chanted.

"Aze? It's just Pinkie."

"Forgive her, Pink One, for she knows not."

Twilight facehoofed, and called out into the nothing. "What do you need, Pinkie?"

"Oh, I was just wondering what you were doing!" She chirped happily.

"Well... I can't seem to find my Element of Magic anywhere I look."

"Did you try behind the couch cushions?"

Actually no, Twilight hadn't.

"Hold on, let me check!"

She used her magic to lift the entire couch into the air, and separated the cushions from the main body as well. Shaking it, she found a loose bit, some clothing lint, and some stray hairs. Dropping the couch and cushions to the floor with a halt to her magic, she grumbled as they came thudding down. "It's not there either!"

"That's weird! Usually it's always under the couch cushions! That's where I keep finding my Element!"

"Say, Pinkie... do you have your Element on you?"

"Yeah! It's right... um... Twilight, don't freak out, but I don't have it! We're all gonna DIE! AAAAAAAAHHH!" Pinkie screamed.

"Pinkie Pie!"


"You're freaking out."

"Oh! I thought you were gonna freak out, so I freaked out before you could freak out so we both wouldn't freak out at the same time and have a super duper freakout where we were both freaked out that the other pony was freaked out."

Aze was about to say something, but she was cut off by the Pink One.

"Oh! I should ask everypony else if their Elements are missing, too!"

"Wait, Pinkie!" Twilight shouted with a raised hoof to the ceiling. She got no reply.

"How does the Pink One speak without showing herself?"

"You know, I learned a long time ago to just stop questioning anything that Pinkie Pie does. This is honestly pretty tame compared to some of the things I've seen her do."

"You are very brave, Twilight Sparkle." Aze bowed to Twilight, which made her feel awkward.

"Um, thanks?"


Pinkie had focused her attentions on Rarity and Fluttershy, as they would be together in a Canterlot spa. She knew which one, of course, as she knew nearly everypony ever. She threw a lot of parties for ponies.

She had snuck her way into the spa, bypassing everypony and even having some fun with a radio in an air vent, yelling 'Snake!' as random ponies walked by. Her fun was cut short, as she remembered that there were evil ponies looking for... stuff, to do evil things!

She spotted her prey, and moved to intercept with all the stealth of an invisible prankster.


"Are you enjoying yourself, darling?" Rarity asked. Her face was covered with some kind of green Spa cream, with cucumbers over her eyes. Her hoof was also being filed down to look as fancy as possible, and Rarity was enjoying the pampering after the shouting match earlier that day.

"Oh, um. Well, It's not exactly like the spa in Ponyville, but it's still nice." Fluttershy replied. She had only a few dabs of the spa cream, and was relaxing in a hot tub nearby. Fluttershy had been waiting a long time for Rarity to bring it up, but she hadn't said a word about Garotte. Maybe it was up to her to bring it up, then?


"Yes, dear?"

"Do you want to meet Garotte?"

Rarity lifted a cucumber with her magic, giving Fluttershy her attention while also having the luxury of spa treatment continue. "Who is Garotte, dear? Have I done work for them?"

"Oh, she's the Ambassador of Evil we were all supposed to meet today."

Rarity made a face at the mentioning of that pony, her sense of fashion coming to the forefront of her thoughts. During this time, the Spa pony scolded Rarity for messing up the face cream with all of her movements.

"She's really nice one you get to know her." Fluttershy added.

"I'm sure she seems that way, Fluttershy. I would be careful around her If I were you. She seems like the manipulative type."

"Who's manipulative?!" Pinkie Pie yelled, rising from the hot tub water with a large splash that doused everypony present. This caused the Spa ponies to leave in a scoffing wet mess of pompous aggravation. Rarity was mildly annoyed, as she had come to expect things like this from her energetic friend.

"Pinkie? Should I even ask how you got into the hot tub?" Rarity asked anyway.

"Nope!" Pinkie smiled, and began imitating a shark in the waters of the hot tub.

"Pinkie, do you need help with anything?" Fluttershy asked, being mildly spooked by the poofy 'fin' of Sharkie Pie.

Pinkie then flipped her mane out of the water, gasping for breath.

"Yes! I was wondering if the both of you still had your Elements of Harmony?"

Fluttershy and Rarity both made patting gestures on their Spa robes, and came up empty and worried.


"Don't worry, girls! Pinkie Pie is on the case!" The Pink One declared, jumping from the hot tub and landing behind a small wall. When she came back up, she was wearing a Noir detective outfit.

'I think she can costume change even faster than me' thought Rarity.

"I hope everything goes okay with your search!" Fluttershy offered.

"Aw, thanks Fluttershy! I gotta go now, See you later!" Pinkie declared, before sinking back under the water (Her outfit included) and promptly dissapeared entirely. Fluttershy even poked around with her hooves and found nothing.

"Should we ask?"

"I think it would be best if we simply ignored it, darling." Rarity replied, placing the cucumber over her head and reclining in her chair.


"Rainbow Dash!" Pinkie shouted, popping out of a metal locker and scaring the wits out of Rainbow Dash.


"Do you have your element?"

"My what? Pinkie, what are you doing here?" Rainbow asked. The both of them were in a locker room in the Wonderbolt's barracks. Pinkie didn't ask why Rainbow had been sneaking around in there, but she knew. She knew.

"Looking for you, silly!" Pinkie smiled.

"Uh... why?"

"To ask you a question! Do you have your Element of Loyalty on you?"

"Yeah, sure. It's right... um..." Rainbow was patting herself and looking through her mane, as ponies do not have pockets.

"Don't have it?" Pinkie said in a slightly sadder, yet still upbeat tone.

"I didn't lose it! It's gotta be somewhere!"

"It's okay, Dashie! I'll find 'em all!" Pinkie declared, and promptly shut the locker she had popped out of.

Walking over to the locker and opening it, Rainbow was surprised to find it completely empty, save for a spare Wonderbolt uniform. Looking around and seeing nopony, she leaned forward and sniffed it.

"Hey! What are you doing in here?!"



Garotte had been tied up and left in that room for so long at this point, that she couldn't feel her limbs anymore. She had even passed out a few times when she exerted herself too much in attempting to escape. The only thing that prevented her from simply falling asleep in wait was the perpetually swinging light above her. It never slowed down, and kept a constant vigil of annoyance for Garotte.

Maybe if I say the Pink One's true name three times, she'll come?

"Hastur, Hastur, Hastur!"

The door swung open, revealing Pinkie Pie in a yellow robe.

"You Caaaaalled?" She sang.

Pinkie threw off her yellow robes into the corner, and they dissapeared into nothingness as she walked in, slamming the door behind her. She hopped over the back of her chair that was opposite Garotte, and plopped into the seat.

"So, I have another question for you!" She moved the Pie that she had left earlier over to one of the corners of the table, and leaned in very close to Garotte. "Where are the Elements of Harmony?"

It took them this long to find out? I thought they just weren't mentioning it!

"Overlord Aether has them."

"Little Edgey took the Elements?!" She yelped with a mixture of pride and surprise. "They grow up so fast!" She wistfully added, wiping a tear of liquid pride from her eye. After taking a moment to recover, she put on her serious face again. "Where did he put them?"

Well, he never said I couldn't tell them something vague, just not the exact location.

"He has them hidden in the darkest of vaults; the most secure of fortresses. A place where neither criminal nor royalty may pass without permission of the lords and ladies that preside over it. All tremble in fear at their calling, and all pay their tithes unwilling."


This threw Pinkie for a loop as she tried to figure out what kind of place would fit that criteria.

"I'll get back to you on that. Thanks for the help!" she cheered before opening the door.

"Wait! Can I at least get out of these bindings? It's not like I can go anywhere!"

Pinkie turned around to appraise Garotte's state.

"Nah, You'll be fine. I heard you like being all tied up, anyway!" She winked, and then slammed the door behind her.

The swinging of the light continued to annoy Garotte, but at least it partially hid her blush when it wasn't illuminating her.


Princess Celestia was sitting on her throne, when a pink cloud of smoke wafted through the window straight towards her. She thought it some kind of attack, but on closer inspection she noticed a trail of confetti in its wake.

Pinkie Pie...

The smoke unraveled into a letter, throwing party streamers and playing a Kazoo as fanfare. Rolling her eyes, she read the letter.

Dear Princess Celestia,

I found the Elements of Harmony!

Well, not really, but I know who took them!

Also, if you haven't already heard, the Elements of Harmony were stolen, Sorry!

You should let me plan the next Grand Galloping Gala, By the way. It'll be super fuuuun!

Pinkie Pie

The Elements are missing!?

Celestia dropped the letter and immediately summoned a scroll of her own to write on.

Dear Twilight Sparkle,

Please bring yourself and your friends to the main audience hall.

We must have words.

Princess Celestia

With her dragon scale aflame, she sent the letter to her student. The wording was sure to send her galloping to Celestia.


"Oh no!" Twilight worried.

"You are unable to create a counter-spell?" Aze asked.

The two of them were in Aze's Hived-out quarters, looking over a map of the area and deciding what the best course of action would be after witnessing the flames first-hoof. A letter from Princess Celestia had just arrived, and it was setting Twilight on edge.

"She found out! I don't know how, but Celestia found out! Oh, I'm going to be in so much trouble!"

"Twilight Sparkle?"

Twilight broke from her worrying to look at the blank stare of Aze.

"You will be fine. They are only pieces of jewelry. They are worth far less than the Diarch would place on the lives of any of her subjects."

Twilight took a deep breath, being somewhat reassured by that.

"You will find them, Twilight Sparkle. You have faced far worse than missing trinkets."


Garotte was pretty sure that if The Pink One wasn't some kind of unknowable force, that this amount of imprisonment would be illegal. She had been restrained for who knows how long at this point, and she was barely able to stay awake. She had become sweaty with all the bindings on her, and the room was becoming steadily hotter as the light kept swinging. She had even dozed off a few times, but she was unable to find the relaxing peace of sleep. She could try summoning the Pink One again, but she feared what condition she would be left in.

The door opened, and revealed Pinkie Pie once more.

"Hey, quick question and then I'll let you go."

Garotte looked up with relief at the Pink One.

"Where is Overlord Aether?"

"His Citadel!"

"Where is that?"


"Pinkie Promise!" She groaned in defeat. "Please, let me go! I'll promise to never hurt your friends willingly!"

Pinkie's eyes narrowed. "So you mean you've promised to hurt them against your will?"

Garotte's mouth was open, and she tried to make words that would make sense.

"I see."

Pinkie observed Garotte for quite some time, watching the mare struggle against her bindings, giving her a helpless look.

"Okey Dokie Lokie!" She decided, and stomped onto the ground to release all of Garotte's bindings in a burst of confetti. "Just one little promise, and you'll be free!"

"What promise?" Garotte begged, having fallen over in exhaustion and landing beneath the table. Her hind hooves were in the air, and her head was on the icy cold floor.

Pinkie explained, and Garotte feared for what would happen when she had to make true on her promise.

Stop right there!

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Garotte was taken from her musings as the swinging light of Pinkie's interrogation room vanished. She looked up to where the light should have been, from her awkward position of being nearly upside down and leaning against a steel folding chair, to see The Pink One glowing above her.

"Well, it's time to pay rent or move out!" Pinkie smiled, offering a hoof to her.

Deciding not to overstay The Pink One's 'hospitality', Garotte took Pinkie's hoof. She then helped her stand up in another room, and the doors of said room promptly opened a moment later.

"Pinkie! There you are!" Twilight huffed, having been galloping literally all over Canterlot looking for her friends. "Wait, why was Garotte on the ground?"

"Please don't ask." Garotte wearily replied, which was awarded with strange looks from both Twilight and Pinkie Pie.

Twilight looked questioningly to Pinkie, whom shrugged.

"Don't ask me; she's weird." Pinkie stated plainly.

Twilight shook her head. "We don't have time for this! Princess Celestia has summoned all of us to her court!"

Garotte gulped, and Pinkie Pie took this moment to don a curled and powdered white wig with accompanying gavel.

"Not that kind of court, Pinkie." Twilight deadpanned. She was used to the antics of her friend, but this was no time for jokes.

"Awww." Pinkie then threw both items behind her shoulder, which never made the accompanying sound of actually hitting the ground.

"Am I needed as well?" Garotte asked, hoping to be able to avoid the situation and report to Overlord Aether about the situation. She was still evil, after all. It would be rude to not put forth her best henchpony effort when the situation presented itself.

"Yes! You especially are needed." Twilight then brooked no argument as she lifted Garotte with her magic, and left the room with Pinkie hopping just behind.

"Do you have to carry me?" Garotte asked in level tone; she was floating aimlessly, and was starting to get motion sick.

"I don't think Princess Celestia would be very happy if I lost the Elements of Harmony and the pony I'm supposed to be keeping an eye on."

"Don't be so hard on yourself, Twilight! It wasn't your responsibility to look out for all the elements. Just your own! In a way, it's all of our faults that we didn't see this coming!" Pinkie explained cheerfully, still making bouncing noises as she followed Twilight's canter easily.

"Pinkie, that isn't helping."

"Oh look, the door!"

Twilight turned from Pinkie to see that they had arrived at the Day Court far sooner than she was expecting. She chalked it up to her worried state, and not the reality warping abilities of her Pink friend.

"Oh good, you made it!" Fluttershy quietly cheered.

"Do you think this is about the 'Elements' situation?" Rarity asked.

"That's definitely the reason. I just hope she won't be too angry with us about it..." Twilight replied.

"Well I know that I didn't lose my Element, so they must've been stolen!" Rainbow Dash complained, her forehooves crossed against her chest, as she hovered a little off the ground in agitation.

"That's what worries me, Rainbow Dash." Twilight said ominously. "Well... It's now or never."

The six and Garotte all looked to the large double doors, decorated ornately with alternating gold and silver, (one for each door). The theme was that of Day and Night combined, and by entering one door or the other, the petitioner would be moved to the appropriate court. The Day Court was for the every day askance of everypony from Commoner to Noble, and usually took all day just to deal with a few ponies. By reflection, the Night Court was held, obviously, by Princess Luna. The goal of the Night Court was more focused on global affairs, trade agreements, tax code, and other managerial matters. Rarely any ponies or beings otherwise would visit Luna's court, however, as the Lunar Princess was known to be quite unforgiving with her time being wasted; She had a great deal to accomplish every night in service of her subjects.

Still holding Garotte in her magical grasp, Twilight used a forehoof to gently push open the door, if only to stay the coming anger of Princess Celestia a moment longer. Opening inwards towards the throne, (Completely against all fire code regulation, Pinkie noted,) the group meekly walked towards Princess Celestia, whom was patiently waiting for them to get within 'indoor voice' distance. Their hooves made little noise against the red carpet leading up to the Diarch.

Deciding that this was taking far too long, Celestia spoke up. "Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Applejack, Fluttershy..." Her eyes narrowed, her tone having been stern and disappointed, "and Garotte." she finished with disdain.

The six bowed as they reached a comfortable, (anything but,) distance from the angry Princess. Garotte, however, was still floating helplessly in Twilight's magic.

"Could I be let down?" She asked tentatively, not wanting to anger Celestia any further, as the Alicorn could wipe her from existance with a thought. Literally. Ask Nightmare Moon.

Princess Celestia glared at Garotte, before nodding. Twilight then rose from her position of supplication along with her friends, and unceremoniously dumped Garotte onto the soft carpeting.

"Thanks." Garotte said quietly, attempting to shrink into her suit jacket from the gaze of Celestia. Thankfully, the Sun Princess shifted her ire to the six.

"You know that I have gathered you to speak about the state of the Elements of Harmony." She said evenly. "Are you aware of how they have gone missing?"

Everypony gathered had flinched at the implications of this, Garotte especially. She was in the process of attempting to hide underneath the rug, but Celestia herself took hold of Garotte in her magic and placed her directly between herself and the Six.

"Do you have anything to say on the matter, Ambassador of Evil?" Celestia emphasized.

Garotte whimpered, covered her eyes and curled into a ball with her ears attempting self preservation behind her head. "I-I do!"

"Then speak." She clipped, her anger barely contained. She should have expected this, honestly. It was Garotte's job to be evil, and associated with those that were evil.

"T-they were t-taken by Overlord Aether!" Garotte stammered, hoping for at least a painless death.

The six gasped, having met 'Overlord' Aether in person at the massive party he had held in the Zebrecan desert earlier that year.

"But he was such a gentleman!" Rarity said in disbelief.

"And he paid for everything we bought there, too!" Fluttershy pointed out, before receiving looks from the other four ponies. She then promptly felt too much attention was on her, and shied away from everypony with a 'meep.'

"The fault is my own, my little ponies." Celestia admitted suddenly. "I should have dealt with the threat of a fourth Alicorn far sooner; Especially one created artificially by a changeling Queen. I should have known that he would turn to evil."

"Nopony could've seen this coming, aside from the fact that he blatantly declared himself as evil and even has television adds on CNN of him being evil, and that he attacked Ponyville, and that he made two more changeling Queens, and that he has an army of orphaned lawyer foals." Pinkie reminded those gathered.

Garotte chose this moment to add to the conversation with a raised hoof, still held between the Diarch and the Six. "Are you implying that all changeling Queens are inherently evil?" She then received withering glares from all but Pinkie Pie, who nodded happily with an affirmative noise.

Deciding that self preservation was more important at the moment than explaining how bigoted that was, Garotte promptly shut up and resumed her impersonation of a hermit crab.

Twilight then spoke. "Garotte, do you know where the Elements of Harmony were taken?"

Pinkie Pie then answered before Garotte could speak. "I asked her about it earlier, and she said 'He has them hidden in the darkest of vaults; the most secure of fortresses. A place where neither criminal nor royalty may pass without permission of the lords and ladies that preside over it. All tremble in fear at their calling, and all pay their tithes unwilling.'" with complete accuracy.

The six were confused by this, but Celestia was old and wise enough with her millennium of knowledge and experience to easily decipher the riddle. She glared at nopony in particular, grimacing.

"I know where he has taken the Elements." she growled.

"The Bank."


Filthy Rich, the stallion with all the money, (As his namesake would imply,) and owner of every bank in Equestria, was at a loss for words when he had been called to Canterlot by Princess Celestia herself. Well, 'called' would be a generous use of the word. He was practically willed into existence via teleportation by the Sun Princess and fell to the tiled floor mid-trot.

He had looked up to see the faces of the Elements of Harmony, made famous by various news outlets and traveling bards, Princess Celestia, and a grey mare held in the air by Twilight's magic. She seemed very distressed, and the others were more than aggravated.

"Filthy Rich?" Celestia asked politely, looming over the stallion with her mane billowing in ethereal winds.

"Y-yes, Princess Celestia!" He blurted, finding himself just in time to bow.

"I have need of your unique position."

Rich then looked up from his bow with a curious expression.

"I need to open the safety deposit box of one of your clients."

Uh oh.

Filthy Rich was now in the middle of a policy conflict. Any being that banked with him had done so under the direct confirmation that none of their assets were able to be seized by anybeing, regardless of rank, status or divinity. This included Princess Celestia. He was practically obligated to decline.

"I apologize, Princess Celestia. We here at Rich Banking are unable to open the vault of another without them being present." He recited with practiced smile, before his brain registered the very unamused death glare coming from the Alicorn that controls the Sun. "Aaand of course that means that since you're the Ruler of Equestria, we can completely void and nullify that on your say so!" He quickly reached into his front pocket, as he always wore a tie made of the finest material bits could buy, (Which included a hidden compartment), and produced a document that he hastily unfolded. "If you'd sign here, I can personally see to it that your wishes are fulfulled!" He was now giving a desperate smile, holding out a paper and quill.

"What is this?" Celestia asked, taking both items in her magic to examine them."

"Oh! This is just a document explaining to the customer of Rich Banking that their private possessions, belongings, artifacts, mementos, and otherwise precious items have been forcefully raided by the most powerful being in the land, and that to avoid the unneccesary loss of life, we were forced to assist them."

"Huh?" Rainbow Dash asked.

"It's saying that Princess Celestia fully understands that she is robbing my bank." he explained.

"That's crazy! She's not robbing anypony, she's protecting all of Equestria!" Rainbow yelled in defense of the Princess.

"Oh? Then what if everything you owned was suddenly seized by another, when you had been assured beyond all doubt that this was impossible?"

"Um... well if it was for the good of Equestria then I wouldn't mind... much." Rainbow replied, mollified.

Garotte chose this moment to quietly laugh, attracting the attention of the ponies gathered.

"What's funny?" Applejack asked accusingly.

Garotte was still held in Twilight's magic, but she was able to raise a hoof to make a point. "I just find it funny that the 'Heroes' are resorting to blatant robbery to 'save the day' from 'evil'. Isn't robbery normally our jobs?"

Her amusement was quickly dragged out back and shot when she caught Celestia's look. It took all of Garotte's limited willpower to avoid crying on the spot. She instead managed a semi-dignified squeak of terror.

Celestia then turned her gaze to Filthy Rich. "I understand what you're attempting to say, but this is for the good of everypony."

Rich wasn't convinced. "I'm sure that's how it starts. First it's just 'We only need these things this one time.' Then before we know it, everypony's funds and belongings are being given to the crown for some unseen reason or threat, and all we have to go on is your word that it's for the best."

Rich was then immediately reminded just whom he was speaking to, when Celestia took a single step towards him. "You will understand in time, Filthy Rich." She said with a voice dripping of venom. She then practically threw the document and quill into his chest, and moved past.

Shaking in place, he watched as the other seven ponies followed Celestia right past him. He also then realized that he had to help them find whatever it was they were looking for. He just hoped it wasn't all of his money and belongings.


"So... do you know which vault you're looking to pilfer in particular?" Rich asked over his shoulder, having been forced to lead from the front. Only his managers were allowed into the true vault of the bank, and he was required to personally oversee the robbery. Policy, you understand.

"This just doesn't feel right. Ah' know we're doin' this for good n' all, but we are takin' something by force. Even if it is ours to begin with." Applejack vented.

"The Elements of Harmony are crucial to the defense of Equestria." Celestia answered, following directly behind Filthy Rich.

Garotte was following behind, her presence having been ignored for the most part now that the attentions of everypony else had been directed towards the banker.

Actually... this is my perfect chance to escape!

Garotte then trotted in place, leaving the rest of them to obliviously continue on without her. Smirking, she then quickly galloped out of the bank's expansive vault in search of the Royal Guard.

The bank was being robbed, after all.


"You must at least know the name of whom you're robbing?" Rich insisted on needling the Princess. He knew he was playing with the sun, but he was also needed to keep the economy of Equestria in what little balance it had achieved after the discovery of Queen Aze's funding. News of Princess Celestia selecting vaults at random to look through would cause everypony to scramble for their money at the same time, and they simply didn't have the physical currency to back up the numbers.

"Overlord Aether." Celestia replied curtly.

Rich stopped in his tracks. "Who?"

"Do not play games with me anymore than you have been, Filthy Rich." Celestia threatened.

"No, seriously! I don't know who that is! Nopony has opened an account by the name of 'Overlord Aether' here. I would remember!" Rich insisted.

"Maybe it's at another bank?" Fluttershy suggested.

"No, I am made aware of all that bank with us. My memory is exceptional." Rich preened.

Then, to everypony's surprise, A gruff voice yelled from behind all of them, accompanied by several sets of armored hooves stampeding across the ground.

"Stop right there, Criminal scum! You've violated...the... law?" The guard captain was baffled, having slowly degraded from his full gallop to an uncertain walk before finally stopping in his tracks.

"Took you long enough! We've been getting robbed for the past twenty minutes!" Rich angrily yelled at the guard, before Rainbow clonked him on the head. "That's assault!" he complained.

"We..." The captain began, before shaking his head free of confusion. "We were just informed by a helpful citizen that the Rich Bank was being robbed... We didn't know that it was just Princess Celestia and the Elements of Harmony." The guard said abashedly.

"They are robbing us! Look!" Rich complained, moving past Applejack to give the document Celestia had signed to the guard.

Celestia herself then facehoofed.

"You know, I'm beginning to think that it's really an unseen plague that explains the nature of Heroes." A familiar voice said from behind the guard captain, smugly revealing herself to be Garotte. "All that brain trauma from smacking yourselves in the face!"

"Garotte? What are you doing?!" Twilight asked in disbelief.

"Being evil?" Was her simple reply.

Then the Six, minus Pinkie Pie, facehoofed as well.

"Well... this document seems to be in order." The guard captain stated, before gulping and looking up at Princess Celestia. "Um... Princess Celestia?"

Celestia couldn't believe this. "Yes, Tower Shield?"

Tower winced that she had remembered his name. "Are... the Elements of Harmony your accomplices in this robbery?" he meekly asked. This conflicted with so many of his beliefs and values he was surprised he hadn't quit on the spot. However ridiculous the idea of arresting Princess Celestia was, it was his duty to uphold the law.

"No. This was all my idea. They were hostages." Celestia replied with controlled tone. She was going to see this through, even if she had unwittingly played directly into Aether's hooves.

"Princess Celestia, what are-?" Twilight blurted out, before she was silenced by Celestia's magic.

"No, Twilight. We must do this the proper way. Applejack was right. This was an error on our part. We must be better than the evil we seek to end." Celestia sagely replied. Internally however, she was close to erupting into a supernova of rage. This Alicorn was barely a year old! A year! She was out-played by a foal!

"Right this way, your highness." Garotte smugly waved a forehoof towards the exit. She was able to be confident, as the situation that Celestia had been placed in would be made immeasurably worse if she was attacked now.

As Celestia moved past with the guards and Filthy Rich, Twilight came to Garotte in shock. "How could you?"

"Twilight, when are you going to understand?" Garotte sighed.

"Help me understand, then." Twilight insisted, her anger barely held.

"I'll tell you a story, then." Garotte cleared her throat, taking in the looks of betrayal and anger directed towards her.

"Once upon a time, there was a Scorpion. This scorpion was attempting to cross a river, and had been carefully skittering along the edge between rock and water. Suddenly, the river changed, and the scorpion was swept into the water. Up above, a crow had seen the plight of the scorpion, and decided to intervene. Swooping down and plucking the scorpion from the water in its beak, it managed to ask if the scorpion was alright. In reply, the scorpion stung the crow, causing them to both fall into the water once again."

Garotte paused.

"Why did you do that?' the Crow asked, slowly dying from the venom of the Scorpion. "Now we're both going to drown!"

"I couldn't help it.' replied the Scorpion sadly. 'It's in my nature."

Finishing her story, and seeing the various states of confusion, she decided to turn around and begin walking away.

"Wait!" asked Fluttershy.

Garotte turned to look behind her.

"Which one are you?"

Garotte looked to Fluttershy and half-smiled with a sad expression before walking away from the group.


This couldn't be happening. This couldn't possibly be happening! Princess Celestia has been arrested?!

Twilight was in full panic mode. They were now sitting in a court room with a 'neutral third party' as the acting judge.


As the god of Chaos, he was not beholden to anybeing but himself, and he found the outcome of this trial to be completely enrapturing. Princess Celestia, Ruler of Equestria and Princess of the Sun was on trial for robbery.

And he was the judge!

This was almost too hilarious to even take seriously, but there wouldn't be any fun in the matter if he decided out of claw before it had begun. After all, it allowed him the opportunity to be freed from his imprisonment and to bear witness to the most absurd thing in the past millennium since his imprisonment in stone!

Coughing into his claw, Discord got the attention of the courtroom. He was wearing a powdered wig, a colonial era shirt with accompanying poofy tie, Aviator sunglasses and a tall Trottingham policepony's hat on top of everything else. He looked fairly absurd, but this was the point. The whole situation itself was completely beyond anything even he could've dreamt up.

"All rise!" He said officially, reveling in the moment. "We are gathered here today to witness the holy matrimony of these two-" Somepony whispered into his ear. "Oh! Right, sorry. Wrong ceremony."

Pinkie Pie giggled.

"The..." He forgot the fancy terms used to describe who did what, so he went with simplicity. "The one who is accusing the lovely Princess of Robbery, please state your case."

Then, looking for the first time, he noticed that the pony in charge of 'offense' as he dubbed it, was a trio of foals.

"Wait, are you serious? Pfft!" Discord couldn't take it. The 'offense' had sent foals after Celestia! The irony was priceless.

After Discord had the chance to calm down, the foal spoke. "It is owah objec-tiv to prove dat pwincess Celestia is guilty of robba-ree!" The colt dramatically declared, to the gasps of those who had wandered in and didn't know what all of this was about.

"Furtha-more, we ah here to proov da inno-cents of our client, Queen Aze!" a Filly announced.

Everyone collectively looked to the changeling Queen that had been disguised as the third foal.

"Hello! What is this room for?" she asked obliviously.

"Oh... this is going to be fun!" Discord purred with a malicious grin.

The Discordant Court

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"Now, let's set a few ground rules." Discord announced with a cracking of his clawed knuckles. "Firstly, this is my courtroom. If you bore me, I will deduct points from your side."

"Oh! This must be a room in which games are played!" Queen Aze said cheerfully, while also practicing her 'happy' expression.

Discord looked to Aze quizzically. Then his eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Have I met you before?"

Then Queen Aze noticed that Discord looked familiar. Images of Queen Ra flashed in her mind, and she nearly squeaked in fright. "No! We have never met before this day, amalgamation of various creatures. What do you call yourself?" She quickly blurted, accompanied by her 'Innocent' expression.

"Hmmph." Discord snorted. "Continuing on, I will explain the rules of this court. Firstly, No cheating. No using magic to bring evidence from the outside of this courtroom, as I could care less what Celestia did in some fool's bank. What I gain from this brief respite from my stone prison is for me alone to know. However, for the sake of consistency, points shall be awarded based on who amuses me the most with their argument."

He then looked to the duo of foals representing Queen Aze. With a snap of his fingers, they transformed into fully grown versions of themselves. With a sneer, and the confusion of the 'foals', Discord explained. "As briefly humorous as the idea of Foal Lawyers is, they're too young to represent themselves in a court of law. Let alone a changeling queen. Don't get me started on their voices." He finished with a dismissive fanning of his griffon claw.

"The use of magic on a being unwilling is against-!" The colt, Case Closed, had protested before his mouth literally zipped shut with a snapping of fingers.

"That's enough out of you. This isn't your courtroom, and your rules don't apply here. This is my chance to stretch my wings," He then fluttered his mismatched wings, "And to let loose for a couple hours."

"Question!" Queen Aze interrupted with a raised hoof, like a foal in a classroom.

Discord's eyes narrowed again at Queen Aze. "I could swear I've met you before..."

"Are there more rules to this game?" Aze inquired hopefully.

"Yes. I was getting to that, disturbingly familiar Queen." Discord grumbled. He then cleared his throat and continued. "Second, this court will determine who is in the right. Obviously, not with the 'case' of the dear Princess here taking back her own property. I know what your case was going to be, foals, and though it was cute, I won't hear it."

Case Closed and Final Point both grumbled, one of them muffled still by the zipper.


Discord groaned. "New rule! No interrupting me!"

Queen Aze then bit her lip, and slowly lowered her hoof.

Sighing to calm himself, Discord continued. "They were going to bring up a 'receipt of purchase'. I saw their briefcase, and their plan was to prove that you, Tia, were not the legal owner of the Elements of Harmony."

Celestia's face expressed a mixture of outrage and promised doom towards the two Lawyers of Evil. Or, just Lawyers.

"Their plan was to explain that they had the Elements appraised by a jeweler, who gave them a price. Then they sold the Elements to the jeweler, and promptly bought them back at ten times the price, and sent them as a gift to Aze, who then placed them in the Rich Bank under her own name. It would've worked, legally, but I don't care about legality, because throwing the laws out of the window is so much more delightfully chaotic." Discord grinned, his larger eye making the lawyers uncomfortable.

"Instead of this legal battle, as we all know that even if Celestia lost, she could override the ruling as the nation's leader, we will instead have a battle of a different sort." Discord grinned, and with another snap of his fingers, the Jury vanished to be replaced with Queen Chrysalis, Nightmare Moon, Queen Aze, Princess Luna and Overlord Aether himself.

"There we are. An impartial Jury of your peers." he sneered.

Amidst crys of confusion and plans of evil, countered by vows of retaliation and protection, Discord snapped his fingers and bound all of them in stone up to their necks. "Now now, no fighting in the Court of Chaos." He scolded with a finger waggle.

"Why hast thou brought us here, Discord!?" Luna protested.

"Hush!" Discord snapped. "We are here to determine if your dearest sister here, is a force for good or evil."

"What?!" Aether gasped.

Discord then grinned delightfully. "Oh, I'm sure the court would love to hear your testimony; free of pesky Promises?"

Aether's black coat actually faded to a grey color from hearing that, somewhat matching the stone he had been encased in.

"Hmm..." Discord muttered. "I actually think that color works better for you. Red and Black is just so over-used anyway."

With a snap of his fingers, Aether was raised in the air to be examined by the God of Chaos.

"No no no, Far too edgey." he muttered, as Aether winced at the name.

"Oh, I know! Your name is 'Aether', correct?"


"Well, as a fellow being of evil, one must remain considerate of our reputation as a whole. I know of one pony who would agree..." He then looked over his shoulder to find Rarity hiding behind a court room pew.


"Rarity, darling." Discord coo'd with Rarity's voice at her. "Would you be a dear and help me fix this travesty before we get started? He's making the rest of us real villains look bad." he snapped with venom.

Rarity, deciding to put on a brave face and flipping her mane with a hoof, nodded. "If only to get this debacle over with."

Then, as a discussion between Chaos God and Fashionista, they proceeded to tweak, prod, poke, alter and otherwise re-create Aether.


"Oh heavens, no!"

Snap. Wings were gone.


"Well, it would be hard for him to work with Alchemy otherwise."



"I was thinking something ghostly."

"No, I already know a certain mare that's nothing but shades of grey. How about this?"

The two then spent the next ten minutes redesigning an unwilling being, and when they were finished, they had arrived at the following:

Unicorn Stallion, about Luna's height. Build was overall athletic and trim. White coat, blueish-purple styled mane with Amethyst stripe on the right side as an homage to his mother Aze. Exposed hooves of a slightly light shade of grey, and his Cutie-mark had been replaced to become a wisp of magical energy around a bottle, instead of a bloody ghost. Eyes of a bright Sapphire and Amethyst blended together, giving him an hypnotic gaze.

Rarity, her heart a flutter, could only blink. "He's..."

"Good enough." Discord grumbled, having gotten bored with the entire ordeal part way through and just letting Rarity create her 'dream stallion'.

Aether twitched in the air. "C-could I b-be let down now?" He whimpered.

Discord waved a claw and Aether flew back to his seat, a jibbering mess after having his soul and body altered to such an extent. With another snap of his fingers, Discord then adjusted Rarity, whose eyes went wide after realizing what she had been made to do.

"Ah ah, no complaining. You got what you wanted, didn't you?" Discord tutted.

Rarity's eyes flung daggers of hatred at Discord, whom was immune to her death glare. In a huff, she returned to her seat behind Celestia and vowed revenge under her breath for being used.

"Now then! We're all properly styled and looking deliciously acceptable now, so let us begin with the trial!" Discord pointed to the Jury bench. "First Witness!" With a snap of his fingers, Princess Luna and Nightmare Moon both flashed into the Witness booth at once.

The two glared at each other in disgust. Luna, for the Mare she had once become; Nightmare Moon, for the future she had lost.

"Now now, ladies. No cat-fighting."

"Why have you brought us, Discord?" Nightmare Moon asked, looking neutrally to the Chaos god.

"Well, We would all just love to hear your opinion of the actions that 'Tia took when you went all crazy!" He answered with spinning eyes.

"I will not speak of it." Luna affirmed with crossed hooves and tight lips.

Discord then snapped his fingers, removing Luna's mouth from her face and placing it between his thumb and pointer finger. "Well then, I'll just make you speak of it!" He said with Luna's voice, using her mouth as a hand puppet.

Luna slammed her hooves on the wooden booth in outrage, but she could not voice it.

Nightmare Moon was greatly amused by this, and chuckled deliciously.

Queen Aze then attempted to copy Nightmare Moon's voice, and echoed the chuckle. "Oh! I like this voice. Would you mind me keeping it?" Aze asked.

Nightmare Moon looked to the Changeling Queen with complete confusion. "What in Tartarus are you?!"

Discord clapped a few times in front of Nightmare's face. "Not. Important!" He growled. Luna's mouth said 'ouch!' a few times in protest.

"Question!" Queen Aze interrupted again.

Discord grumbled and looked to the Changeling. "Didn't I just say no interrupting me?"

"I was interrupting Luna, whom was saying 'ouch'." Aze clarified.

"Discord glowered at Aze. "Fine, speak."

"Why am I an 'impartial peer'?"

Discord blinked a few times. "Aren't you a changeling, like Chrysalis?"

"Yes, but I've also a peace treaty with Celestia."

"And nothing would cause you to break the treaty?"

"For a period of three months... which has passed, now that I remember. Princess Celestia?" She called. "Are we still at peace?"

Discord quickly snapped his fingers and zipped Celestia's mouth shut. "Now nopony will know, so you must act as the neutral party. You've not been wronged by Princess Celestia, as Nightmare Moon and Chrysalis have, nor are you friends with her like Luna or Aether."

"What?!" Twilight blurted out.

"No interruptions!" Discord snapped."Now... we've all heard Celestia's side of the 'Nightmare Moon' incident, but I want to know about it from the perspective of the both of you two." Discord pointed with spread fingers to both Nightmare Moon and Princess Luna. "Seeing as how Luna isn't in a talking mood, we will begin with you, Nightmare Moon." Discord snapped his fingers, and reappeared in his Judge seat.

The lawyers feeling largely useless at this point, decided to get up and simply leave to deal with their lifespan having been greatly accelerated.

"One request before we begin." Nightmare asked.


"I wish to raise the moon."

Discord grinned as Luna's eyes went wide. "Go for it. It will set the mood!"

Then to the dismay of everybeing, Luna's moon began its ascent to blot out the sun in a complete eclipse.

Nightmare Moon purred. "There. I haven't seen that particular beauty in a thousand years."

"Yes, wonderful. Your side of the story?" Discord awaited impatiently, the entire thing taking too long.

"From the beginning, or...?"


Nightmare Moon cleared her throat, by coughing in Luna's face.

"It was a dark and stormy night," Nightmare began; both Pinkie and Discord covering their faces with hoof/claw, "and dearest Luna had just asked her sister, Celestia, to change the schedule of night and day. Twelve hours of light, Twelve hours of darkness. It seemed a fair trade, Equal time in the sky, equal chance for ponies to learn to enjoy my-- our, night." Moon looked sideways at Luna, whom was still fuming from having her mouth stolen. "Luna was a complete mess. Crying, yelling, throwing furniture around with her magic. Truly, a little filly having a temper tantrum." Luna's ire turned to Nightmare Moon, who smirked at having gotten her attention. "Anyway, she was contemplating some very tragic and final solutions to her problems. Spawned of her own misery at being neglected after her decades of hard work, I appeared to her in the mirror. My powers were only just forming, and Luna fed me with her growing sorrow. I attempted to help, honestly, but she was completely convinced of her uselessness in the face of her sister. She was beginning to question whether or not ponies needed the moon!" Nightmare was angered by this, and Luna's temper had faded, her old memories being brought to surface. "I alone convinced her of a better solution to her troubles, even if it was completely manipulative and self serving in the long run, in every way. I'm spawned of negativity, what would anypony expect?" Nightmare had pressed a hoof to her armored chest plate with a proud smile.

"Yes, yes. You've very evil. Continue?" Discord said impatiently.

The wind taken from her sail, Nightmare flashed a scowl and continued. "Luna's plan was originally to banish herself by leaving Equestria. If she was no longer needed, and nopony cared for her or her efforts, then she was only hurting herself by staying. I artfully neglected to remind her of Celestia's love for her dear 'Woona', and planted a different idea in her head. If ponies aren't going to love you, why not make them regret that, and have them fear you instead?" Nightmare and Luna shared a look. One of smug satisfaction, the other of sorrow. "She latched onto the bait completely, and that allowed me to assume direct control of the Princess of the Night. One solar eclipse and a magic fueled battle later, I had gotten the both of us banished to the moon."

Discord raised a claw, a finger pointed upwards. "Now, hold on. Did Celestia try to talk to you, or reason with you to stop?"

Nightmare nodded. "Yes, she did. It was almost infuriating how she would only fight back to give herself breathing room, in order to talk even more. She refused to injure Luna, even though I had possessed her. Ultimately, it wasn't up to 'Woona' to choose. Her getting banished was simply unfortunate circumstance at that point."

Discord hummed in thought, stroking his beard with a claw. Satisfied, he finally snapped his fingers and returned Luna's mouth.

"Now, Woona; Your side of events? Is what Nightmare Moon saying to be believed?"

Luna was looking to the floor. "We were going to do far more than banish ourselves... Sister." Luna sadly looked to Celestia, whom was doing her best to keep her composure in light of everything. The two had never discussed what happened that day, and decided it was best left forgotten. "It is true, what Nightmare Moon has said thus far. We had done so much in the service of our subjects, and received not even a glance of recognition for our efforts. We had taken the issue to sister, and she refused our request of a longer night. In our state of woe, we had forgotten all our sister had done for us in the past and only remembered the worst of events. Nightmare Moon, for all of her manipulations, did end up saving us from ourself when nopony else took notice." Luna admitted to the smug satisfaction of Nightmare Moon.

"Now, both of you having said your piece, I have a question." Discord rested his claws on the rail of the Witness stand. "How would you describe Celestia's character a thousand years ago?"

"Callous, narcissistic and self centered; at least until the problem was thrown into her face." Nightmare said without hesitation.

"Oh? Why is that?" Discord asked, interested.

"She ignored any plea or sign of misery from her sister, refused the smallest of concessions to ease her pain, and could see nothing wrong with the situation. She acted foolishly, and she paid dearly for that."

Nodding, Discord turned to Luna. "Your thoughts?"

"It is not our sister's fault that she was unable to predict what would happen. We are not all knowing, we are simply ponies given immense responsibility. We have had a great deal of time to think about this, and we do not fault sister's actions at the time. However, were she to ignore the misery of another again, we would have words." Luna growled.

"Well! This is decidedly split. On one claw, she's a monster. On the other, she's just like anypony else in the situation, despite some lack of foresight." With a snap, Nightmare and Luna returned to the Jury bench.

"However, this is a thousand years ago. What of her actions recently?" He purred, snapping his fingers and placing Queens Chrysalis and Aze into the Witness Booth.

"Teleportation feels strange." Aze commented, and Chrysalis scoffed.

"Now, you two. One of you attacked the ponies, and the other made peace with them. Care to explain your reasonings?"

Aze and Chrysalis looked to each other, Aze's eyes going dim for a moment. When they returned, Chrysalis spoke.

"My children." She started simply. "Our hive's location in the badlands has left us with barely a trickle of love to survive from, and I was forced to find a new location for our hive before everyling starved to death. In my travels, I happened upon what you ponies call 'The Crystal Empire', and the Alicorn of Love, which for me, is essentially the 'God of Food.'" she smirked a moment before continuing. "Anyway, I was ecstatic at finding food for my children, but they would need more than that 'Empire' could provide. I honestly don't know why you ponies call it an empire when it barely forms a city." she grumbled. "I assumed the form of the Food god, Cadance, and traveled with her soon-to-be husband to Canterlot. I could see from my window a great deal of outlaying villages and towns, and knew that this would be the perfect place to re-locate my hive. All I had to do was take over the city, which should have been far easier, and my hive would be saved!"

"Thankfully for everybeing involved, you're a terrible actress." Aze sniped.

Chrysalis growled at the inexpressive Queen to her left, and Discord pushed them apart. "Now now, Queens; It's story time. You can fight after you leave the court room."

"Fine." Chrysalis grumbled. "Continuing with my story, everything was working perfectly. Then, Twilight and her friends showed up, having received an invitation to the wedding, which was supposed to plant myself in a permanent spot of infiltration in either Canterlot or the Crystal Empire. I didn't mind either situation, as I could always plant my changelings in whatever position I wanted, as I was masquerading as an Alicorn. However, thanks to Celestia and everypony else's insistence that nothing was remiss, I was able to keep my disguise until the day of the wedding. The little brat had somehow found the real Cadance under the castle, and brought her to the wedding in time to interrupt. Celestia attempted to intervene and stop me with her magic, but I had been so engorged by the love of both the husband and the ponies gathered for the ceremony that I was able to overpower her."

"And you obviously didn't kill her when you had the chance." Discord pointed out.

"Why would I? That would be one less pony I could use to feed my children with, and a complete waste of a good disguise. Imagine the love I could gather posing as Celestia, leading a resistance movement against myself that would ultimately fail piece by piece, giving me both the straggling ponies that hid from my sight, as well as the love and adoration for their fearless leader." She laughed to herself for a moment, before a nudge from Queen Aze brought her to reality. With a happy sigh, her expression soon turned to anger. "But that wasn't to be. The precious Alicorn of Love and her husband were able to re-unite while I was distracted, and channeled a shield spell soaked with love to cast my children and I from Canterlot. If not for the 'love' part of that spell, myself and my entire hive would have died on impact, either from the fall or from being squashed into buildings. Not everyling was outside when that spell went off." she grumbled.

Celestia winced at the idea of scraping changelings off of the walls and ceilings from being compressed into giblets.

"Now, for the opposite side of the coin. Queen..." He appraised Queen Aze again. "Seriously, what is your name? I know I've seen you before."

"She's Queen A-" Chrysalis began, before Aze's holed hoof was shoved forcefully into her mouth.

"Queen Noling!" Aze quickly blurted.

"Really? The changeling equivalent of Nopony. Sure." He waved a claw dismissively. "It isn't important anyway; I'll find out later. State your case."

Queen Aze removed her hoof from Chrysalis' mouth, and wiped it on the floor to get the slobber off. "Well, seeing as how Chryssi's plan failed, (Thankfully, I will add,) It fell to me to save my hive from the Diarch's wrath. I had begun to receive reports through the hivemind that my changelings were being routed out and discovered, as well as imprisoned. Apparently, all changelings look alike to ponies, as they couldn't see we clearly aren't Chrysalis' brood. I've even had to state this on several occasions despite the clear differences between us."

Discord's eyes were shifting between the two rapidly. He finally bothered to notice that the other Queen was magenta, with wings resembling that more of a butterfly or a moth...

"AHA! That's where I know you from!" He declared suddenly. "You're that proto-queen I didn't bother with when I made Queen Moth'Ra!"

Aze's face was completely blank, as it usually was when she wasn't using expressions as a tool. Internally however, she was in full panic mode.

"Don't worry, I'm not going to turn you into an insect. There's just nothing I'm aware of as perfect to make you. Moth'ra, Pfft." Discord continued to chuckle to himself, before resuming his composure.

"Alright, I'm fine now. Continue?"

Aze looked between Discord and Celestia, and then continued. "My original plan was to disguise myself, make my way to the Diarch, and beg for the lives of my hive."

"Your hive, not your children?" Discord asked, a claw flat with palm upturned, pointing to Chrysalis.

"No. They are of Queen Ra's brood. I've only just begun to lay my own in the past few months."

"So they're not even yours, and yet you still care for them?"


"Would you care for any ponies that had wandered into your hive?"

"If they remained in the hive for the rest of their lives, as to not give away its location, and they were friendly, then yes. My hive survives off of friendship, generosity and kindness, and I would starve myself if I didn't at least offer that option."

"What if they didn't want to be friends?"

"They would be incapacitated, locked into a chrysalis, and have their memories wiped entirely." Aze stated matter-of-factly.

This caused a great many surprised looks and rebooting brains.

"Why?" Chrysalis asked. "Isn't your entire goal to be just like ponies?"

Aze ignored the barb. "It isn't our goal, it is our method of sustaining ourselves. The fact that we share a commonality with our food is merely coincidence. This would be like saying that because your changelings need love, that you are more like ponies than we are."

"How dare you compare us to our food?!" Chrysalis roared.

"You are what you eat!" Pinkie shouted from across the courtroom. "and that makes you both Friendly Lovebugs!"

Chrysalis glared at Pinkie, and Aze was internally expressing her mortification at the Pink One's attendance.

"Now, let's get back on task." Discord butted in, moving between the Queens and Pinkie Pie. "What happened with your plan?"

"Well, It all started when I had received a report from one of my advisors, Gaius..."

Queen Aze then recounted her view of the events leading to this point in time, in exhausting detail.

"... bringing us to the present."

Discord blinked a few times, before regaining his mental faculties again. "That was rediculous."

Chrysalis looked to Queen Aze. "You impersonated me, in a Chicken suit?!"

"I am told that you look adorable."

Chrysalis could only growl in irritation before being stopped by Discord.

"Alright ladies, It's time for your verdict!" Discord declared. "Chrysalis, You were first to speak, so you go first!" He rested his head on his claws, which were floating free of the arms behind his back, and stared attentively at Chrysalis. "What is your opinion of Celestia in the present?"

Queen Chrysalis and Celestia shared a look for a full minute before she spoke. "She did everything that she could've, given the situation. She listened to, though ignored, the brat's warnings. That was a mistake, though that was not 'evil' of her to do. She attempted to defend her subjects immediately on finding me a threat; something I would do without a second thought. Despite being defeated, she did not pursue myself or my hive after we had been banished by the Love-shield bomb. If I were in her position, I would've hunted her down and made certain of her inability to harm myself or my subjects again. Thankfully for myself, she is not that kind of pony."

"So, a little aloof, but otherwise competent?"

"Yes. Though you really should find somepony to have foals with. You're a void of intimacy. Only platonic or motherly love. Bleh."

"What's wrong with platonic love?" Fluttershy spoke up, before shrinking behind the pew in front of her when everybeing looked at her.

"You try eating oatmeal cookies every day for years at a time. Tell me you don't vomit at the sight of that food again afterwards."

"I don't!" Pinkie replied, shoving an entire tray of Oatmeal cookies into her craw.

"Enough interruptions!" Discord snapped. "Queen Aze; your verdict?"

Aze recovered from seeing the Pink One again, having forgotten her presence during the story. "Oh, yes." She then 'cleared her throat' for show. "The Diarch's actions towards me have been merciful. At any point she could have erase myself and my hive from existance, and she gave me a chance to prove that I was sincere in my peace efforts. I've done many things at her expense in an attempt to gauge her resilience to shenanigans, as Queen Ra has described the activity, and found her worthy of becoming a lifelong immortal friend."


"We do not age, as long as we are fueled by friendship."

Discord, Nightmare Moon and Chrysalis all made gagging noises and motions at this.

"Alright, fine, moving past that case of diabetes." Discord snapped his fingers, bringing Overlord Aether to the stand.

He was sweating nervously, looking to Celestia with panic.

"Now, one last thing. Celestia, Pinkie Pie, I have need of you." Discord announced before having the two appear in front of the Witness stand, with Discord floating overhead. "Celestia, I ask that you rescind your mutual Pinkie Promises to another, that this court may find the facts free of strong hoofing or otherwise powerful magics."

"Wait, what?!" Twilight blurted out. "It's just a Pinkie Promise!"

Queen Aze, Discord, Pinkie Pie, Celestia, Nightmare Moon, Queen Chrysalis, Aether and even the unseen specter of King Sombra all tutted.

"Forgive her, Pink One. She knows not." Aze intoned.

Pinkie nodded sagely.

"Now then. Tia. Aether. Your promises?"

The Sun Princess raised a hoof that was matched by Aether's and joined. "I, Overlord Aether/Princess Celestia, declare in view of the Pink One, Guardian of Harmony and Chaos, Weaver of Fate and Parties, God of the Four Walls of Creation, She Who Knows, Caretaker of the Slumberer, and the Asker of the First Question, declare my Pinkie Promises made in her name to be revoked." They chanted as one.

Everybeing not in the know had their jaws to the floor.

"Isn't this going to cause problems?" Discord whispered to Pinkie Pie.

"Nah, it's okay. I'll just throw a party afterwards and spike the punch again. They won't remember a thing!" Pinkie quietly chirped.

"Again?" Discord asked, but was ignored. Snorting, he resumed the Trial.

"Thank you for your cooperation, Celestia." He said sincerely.

To the five ponies that weren't Pinkie Pie, they were surprised to see Celestia give a respectful nod to Discord, before he calmly sent Celestia back to her spot. Pinkie Pie later re-appeared in her own place soon after.

"Now then. I would like to bring up the letters you received from Princess Celestia, shortly after your party in the Zebrecan desert."

Aether sighed heavily. "Yes. Would you like the copies?"

"That would be the most helpful, though may I ask why you keep them on hoof?" Discord asked.

"Insurance." he replied cryptically.

"Ah, right. The 'Banishment' promise."


Aether then produced several back and forth letters from himself and Princess Celestia, detailing everything from troop movements to architecture for the Evil Citadel, to include Orphan 'adoption' papers. Said papers were plans to steal foals from unfitting parents and to deliver them to better homes within the Citadel of Evil, if against their will. Ultimately, it was decided that this would be better for them than living with the abuse and or neglect of unfitting parents. In addition to this, there were papers detailing scheduled prison breaks where the Forces of Evil would scoop up and eventually rehabilitate the prisoners into their own ranks and become productive members of society within the Citadel. Various evil deeds (at first glance) appeared to have a noble motive behind it, including stealing from the rich and elevating the poor to a level where they were able to survive, or to abduct the homeless and offer them a position in the Citadel. Various missing pony's papers were also brought forth, detailing patients with terminal illnesses having dissapeared in the night from their beds. Said patients were treated by Aether himself with his alchemical knowledge, and if they could not be saved, their bodies would be spared further suffering and a well funded funeral service.

Then came the paper that started everything.

"Would you mind explaining this, for the court?" Discord asked, holding up the first letter Princess Celestia had sent, asking him to be the 'evil' in Equestria.

"Yes... well..."

Princess Celestia then spoke up for herself. "That is enough, Discord."

"Oh? You finally spoke!" Discord cheered. "Ready to put me in my place with a blast of magical elements again? Oh wait! You can't even use those, and neither can your student and her friends."

"No. I am going to explain my actions." Celestia stated firmly. "I have seen what happens to ponies when there is no threat to unite them. When there is nothing but themselves to point the blame of their daily struggles towards. They turn on each other, divide into tribes and cause their own misery with imagined slights and stubbornness. They need something looming over the horizon, or they will cause doom themselves just by their nature."

"So, ponies are Chaotic then?"

"They are fragile." She replied, looking to Luna with guilty expression. "They need to be assured that everything will be alright. That there is something they can rally behind and unite to defeat. Something that tells them there is a purpose to their life. When left alone for too long, they turn on themselves. They seek something to complain about, if only to share a commonality with their fellow ponies and to grow close to another because of it."

Celestia paused a moment before continuing.

"I had asked Aether to become the evil in Equestria to unite it. There had been several occasions where the Elements of Harmony had to be used, and ponies had begun to expect that any problem would be solved by my student and her friends. If I allowed this pattern to continue, my little ponies would panic if anything happened to the Elements of Harmony or those that wielded them. I had to give them something they could all fight; without the powers of the Elements."

"With the Elements of Harmony solving everything, ponies had begun to fear for their own safety and roles in life again. Sure, they could just keep their heads down and do whatever they were good at, but that could only last so long before they started worrying about the next threat that the Elements would have to face, and how they were helpless against it." Aether explained. "So, at Princess Celestia's request, myself and my daughters became the 'evil' Equestria needed to function properly. We were never going to actually kill anypony or do truly evil things, but the appearance of being evil was all that was needed. After the Battle of Ponyville, the story of the three thousand ghostly Royal Guard routing the forces of Evil gave hope to those ponies that were worrying; that there was another force that would protect them no matter what happened."

"How would you describe Celestia's actions?" Discord asked of Aether.

"I agree with them. I'm the one being 'evil' for her sake, at any rate. If this is what it takes for Equestria to live in peace, then I'll gladly play the role of villain."

"Ah, but what about all those that serve you? They don't know this is a game that you and Celestia are playing. I'm fairly certain there's at least one pony that most of us know of that has taken your words to heart, Aether. What if she were to go too far? She's the one that got all of us in this situation to begin with. What if Celestia's plan backfires, and you end up creating the evil you both sought to fake?"

"You mean Garotte Wire?" Aether asked.

Discord rolled his eyes in annoyance. "Yes, her. You really know how to kill the suspense, don't you?"

"What can she do? Hug all of us to death?"

Pinkie Pie raised a hoof, accompanied by nervous smile. "Actually..."


Meanwhile, Garotte had been making good on her Pinkie Promise...

The Promise

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Garotte Wire had been doing what she knew best.

Being Evil.

With some tips from the Pink One, combined with her street smarts and her affinity for stories, she had come up with an almost perfect plan. Why was it 'almost' perfect?

She had made a promise.

A few tricks had been gifted to her by the Pink One for this express purpose, and she had also promised to never abuse what had been bestowed to her. One of these tricks was instantaneous teleportation when nopony was looking. This allowed her to gain access to places otherwise impossibly forbidden, however the limit was that she was bound to Equestria in her travels. She would not gain the ability of extra-dimensional help, as the Pink One had explained she was able. She would not have the Space Marines she wanted, but she could make due with somepony else.

Or somecentaur.

"Come closer, Pony. Let me get a good look at you..." The ragged form of Tirek rasped.

Yes, she had traveled to Tartarus. With a tip from Pinkie, she had given Cerberus a roll of sushi the size of a barn. It was obviously his favorite food. Her reason? She would need a great distraction for what she was planning to do next, and Tirek was just the first step of her plan.

Garotte stepped right to the bars of Tirek's prison, a smug look on her face.

"Excellent..." Tirek whispered, before his maw opened, searching for magics that would not come. "What?!" He barked angrily, "Where is your Magic?!"

"Silly Tirek, Magic is for Ponies. I'm a copy!" The Mirror Garotte chirped. The downside of using the Pink One's abilities, is temporarily gaining her mannerisms. Garotte was not an idiot, and she wasn't going to place herself in danger with any of these tools if she could help it. Thus, the Pink One had told her of the pool of mirrors. Certainly, the entrance to this ancient magic had been sealed. However, the cave itself still existed, and one simply had to know where to look and have the abilities of the Pink One to travel there. By extension, and without the knowledge of the Pink One, Garotte had made hundreds of copies of herself to carry out her plan, all with the Pink One's limited extension of gifts.

"A copy?" Tirek grumbled, both baffled and intrigued at the idea of creating copies of himself, before discarding the idea. Having copies of himself would only end horribly. He would be too busy fighting his copies for power to actually destroy anything the disgusting ponies held precious. His thoughts finished, and Garotte patiently waiting, he glared at her. "What do you want, pony?"

"I want your help! I plan to cause as much mayhem and evil as possible, and I know that you don't kill ponies. You only steal their magic. If you killed them, their magic would vanish along with their souls, correct?" Garotte explained with uncharacteristic cheer.

Tirek grumbled. "You're well informed, pony."

"It pays to be prepared." Garotte nodded in reply.

"Should I ask why?"

"Nope! Just know that you'll be free to be you, with one little exception." she smirked.

The glare returned. "What exception?" he snapped. He was being used, he knew. However, once he had enough power, he would squash this fool underhoof the same as the Princesses.

"Just one Pinkie Promise, and you'll be set free!" Garotte chirped.

Tirek's blood ran cold.


"You told her WHAT!?" Twilight freaked out.

"Just a thing or seventeen! It's no big deal, Twilight. We've got the Princesses, Discord, the Queens, Nightmare Moon, Aether, and the six of us!" Pinkie hurriedly explained.

"Oh, don't include me in this little game of yours. I still remember the last time we met." Discord scowled, folding his arms and looking away from the group with a harrumph.

"Well, we still have everypony else!" Pinkie conceded, slightly more nervous.

"I too wish to see how this plays out." Nightmare Moon added. "I have no reason to help any of you, let alone Sun Butt the Magnificent." she said with stuck out tongue.

Pinkie's hair was deflating, and looked to Chrysalis.

"Actually, I will help." Chrysalis said surprisingly.

Twilight was now even more confused. "What? Why?"

"My subjects still need food. Dead ponies can't love. It's very counter-productive to my continued existence." She explained, receiving a few glares. "Oh FINE!" she snapped. Then, with exasperated and pained tone, she turned to Princess Celestia. "I'm sorry I tried to take over your kingdom and kill you with magic." She then gagged. "There, I said it."

Celestia was surprised by this, and respectfully nodded before looking to Queen Aze.

"Oh! Is it my turn?" she asked, looking at the expectant faces of everybeing. The Queen stared at them for a few moments before realising. "Oh! That means yes. Um, one moment." Her eyes then dimmed, and while she was gone, they moved on to Aether.

"Well, I still have my daughters even if I've lost my abilities as an Alicorn." he grumbled. "I don't know where they've gone, however. I had more than a few plans in the works to mess with Equestria before this trial."

"So that means you'll help?" Pinkie asked hopefully, her hair slightly re-poofing."

"Yes. It would be insane of me not to help Equestria, as that was the reason I was playing at being a villain the first place."

"With insane-o logic like that, how can we lose?" Rainbow Dash cheered.

Everybeing else then facehoof/clawed.

"What?" Rainbow asked, oblivious.

Queen Aze then chose this moment to return.

"I am back!" She exclaimed, before noticing the covered faces. "Did I do something wrong again?"

They collectively groaned.


With Tirek enlisted, and already moving around the Citadel of Evil and gathering power, she had another portion of her plan to complete.

The Golems.

+Train For Canterlot departing in five minutes.+ One of them chimed in an artifical voice.

"Golem, I have use for you and your siblings." Garotte said neutrally as possible, her voice void of emotion. This copy was not as perfect as the others had been, and had been chosen to deal with the golems.

Said golem stood a full two heads above even Celestia, with feet and large four fingered hands. Their build was that of a minotaur and a griffon combined, muscled for appearance as their strength lay more with the incantations and alchemical wizardry of their creation. Decorated with various glyphs, runes and designs for aesthetics, the golems were a tapestry of intricate design that pulsated with a soft grey glow. Looming over the Mirror Garotte, it noticed something odd about the pony.

+You are not natural.+ It stated as fact. +What is your command?+

The Mirror replied without inflection or expression. "You are needed in Canterlot. You will cause as much property damage as possible. Do not harm any living being. Bring all of your siblings."

The stone face of the golem could not generate expressions, but it could nod. +Very well. Your will be done, fellow construct.+

Mirror nodded in reply, and the two parted without further comment.


"So, do you at least know her plan?" Aether asked of the Pink One.

"Um... no?" Pinkie shrugged with a desperate grin.

"We do not have time for this." Celestia firmly stated. "Garotte may be an actual threat to Equestria, and we still need to find the Elements of Harmony. Twilight, I will-" Some kind of incessant jangling and clanking was distracting her, but she refocused to ignore it. "I need you and your friends to search the Rich Bank for the Elements, and-" The jangling was growing louder, and the Pink One was holding back giggles. Realising that Discord was in the room, she slowly turned her head to see a Griffon's claw holding up the Elements of Harmony next to her face, rattling them together. With a sigh, she concluded with, "Nevermind."

Discord and Pinkie then burst into giggles, and Twilight was having none of it. "We don't have time to mess around! We have to find Garotte and use the Elements of Harmony to fix all of this!"

"Um, Twilight?" Fluttershy asked.


"Don't the Elements of Harmony only work on evil things?"

"Yes, that's why we're going to use them on Garotte. Why do you ask?"

"Well... I've been thinking, and I think she's more of a Crow than a Scorpion..." she replied meekly, noticing the interested looks from all those gathered.

"A crow? Scorpion? What babble is this?" Nightmare Moon asked.

"It's a story she told us after betraying us." Twilight explained. "Something about it being in her nature to be evil."

"I don't think that's what she meant, Twilight." Fluttershy butted in, feeling nervous from all the looks, but also feeling obliged to stand up for Garotte in her absence. "I don't think she wants to be evil, but she's never been given the opportunity otherwise."

"She's had plenty of opportunity! We used to be friends before she betrayed us!" Twilight countered. "She didn't have to turn her backs on us and run off to be evil!"

Pinkie, once again, raised a hoof. "Actually..."

Everybeing then looked to Pinkie, and resumed to slam their appendage into their faces.

"Seriously, I think that it's contagious." Queen Aze commented, looking at her hoof with some degree of concern.


Another Garotte had been busy, as were the rest of them. This one, however, was accompanied by a small army of duplicates. They had been given various contraptions that allowed for flight, designed by the Pink One, to travel to Cloudsdale. Once there, they had made use of amulets that had been given to them to cloud walk. They had given the controllers of Cloudsdale's City a great big group hug, and the lot of them now lay passed out on the cloudy floor.

"All secure?"


"Anypony notice us come in?"

"Not any that are awake."

"We have the Schematics?"

"Right here."

"Shall we?"

"Of course."

Then, to the surprise of the Pegasus in Cloudsdale, the city began to change course.


"Alright, so the Elements of Harmony might work. What other options do we have?" Twilight asked of those gathered.

"Maybe you could all give her a big group hug!" Discord offered sarcastically, making foal noises. "Or, better yet, You could make her your friend!" He then 'thought' about that for a moment with dramatic exaggeration, and then added, "Oh wait! That didn't work out the first time, did it?" He sneered.

"You're not helping." Chrysalis deadpanned, fed up with the antics of the Chaos god. "Queen Aze and I have armies of Changelings. We can simply send them out to find Garotte, and be done with this. Do you know where she has gone?" Chrysalis asked Pinkie Pie.

"Nope!" Pinkie cheerfully replied.

Chrysalis glared at the Pink One, and Aether spoke up. "Alright, I know where she might be. I'm the one that trained her, after all."

"Oh?" Nightmare Moon asked. "You didn't feel this would have helped sooner?"

"Aren't you not participating in this 'save the world' party?" Discord asked, suspicious of Nightmare.

"Yes, I'm not helping. That doesn't mean I'm going to purposely allow these fools to throw all of Equestria into ruin with some scatterbrained plan. I still want subjects to rule over when I finally overthrow her Radiance." she jeered.

"You will do no such thing!" Luna protested, and the two began to square off.

"Enough!" Twilight yelled. "This isn't helping anypony, and we're running out of time!"

Luna's face wrinkled in disgust at Nightmare, as she returned a smirk of smug satisfaction.

"What's the plan?" Rainbow asked.

"Use the Elements of Harmony on Garotte?" Twilight said uncertainly.

"Well, we gotta know where she's at first." Applejack offered.

"What would Garotte do, if she had knowledge nopony should know?" Rarity asked nopony in particular.

"No..." Celestia suddenly blurted with wide eyes, causing concern from the group.


Canterlot Mental Wellness Asylum.

A place of magical practices that attempt to 'cure' the insane and deranged.

A trio of Garotte's adjusted their grey ties, and walked into the lobby. Grey tiles, grey walls, grey roof and grey halls. Anypony would go insane in a place like this, excepting Garotte. Shades of grey was her life.

"Hello, welcome to the Canterlot Mental Wellness Asylum, how may I help you?" The disinterested front desk worker asked in soul-crushing monotone. They were still distracted with paperwork, and it took awhile for them to finally look up at the Trio.


"Thank you for seeing us."

"If you can see us." The third one smirked, soon joined by the other two. They had been finishing each other's sentence.

The worker blinked a few times, before then rubbing their eyes. "You're..."

"A figment of your Imagination!"

"Yes, you've finally worked here long enough to join the clients!"

"Isn't that wonderful?"

The worker's face paled. "No... no that can't be true!"

"But it is!"

"And you should be in your cell to be safe!"

"You've gone and escaped again, you silly goof!"

"But... I work here!" they complained. Who they were wasn't important, and none of the Garotte's paid any attention.

"You used to!" the right one cheerfully replied.

"Before you went craaaazy." the middle copy said with googly eyes.

"That's why we're going to escort you back to your cell!" the left one chimed in.

The worker was in shock, and offered no resistance as the left and right Garotte guided them to the cell block doors.

"Who is this? What's going on?" The door guard asked.

"Oh! You can see us too!"

"You must be really magical if that horn of yours can project us, crazy!"

"You wouldn't want us to spread through the rest of the clients, would you?" The trio took turns speaking.

"Wha..." The guard muttered.

"Don't worry!"

"We'll make you feel all better!"

"Give us a hug." The Trio said in unison, jumping the guard with bear hugs that left him unconcious, as well as the Clerk from the front door. Grabbing the keys that the door guard had beforehoof, they opened the control door to the cell block.

"That was easier than it should have been."

The middle facehoofed.

"Oh, I just jinxed us, didn't I?"

"Not important now!"

"Which one opens all the doors?"

"Probably the large red one." The left pointed to a large red button in the center of the console.

"Or we could pull the fire alarm!" the right cheered.

"Lets do both!" middle exlaimed.

Both were indeed done, and the cell doors flew open to be accompanied by various alarm bells and sirens. The guards on the block floor were soon swarmed and rendered unconscious, their armor protecting them from the more vicious of the clients. The mob of insanity soon took notice of the Trio standing nearby, adjusting their ties.


"You've all been released!"

"With one little exception!"


"Who is Tirek?" Twilight asked.

"A centaur that wields dark magic, and uses the souls of ponies to amplify his power. If he were to become powerful enough, he would be able to destroy all of Equestria, as well as overpower my sister and I." Celestia explained gravely.

"Pssh, big deal. Just zap him with your fancy jewels and be done with it." Discord scoffed.

"He is more likely to steal the magic from the Elements themselves. We cannot risk it." Luna countered.

"So how do we fight him?" Rainbow asked.

There was a pregnant pause of unease amongst those gathered, before Celestia finally spoke, turning to Twilight. "My faithful student... this is not how I had planned to inform you."


"We must have words, Twilight." Celestia replied cryptically, draping a pure white wing over her student, and vanishing in a flash of yellow light.


"That was dramatic." Chrysalis scoffed.

"Coming from you?" Queen Aze sniped.

Chrysalis then glared at Aze's blank face.


"Where are we?" Twilight asked. They were floating in a swirl of starlight, pictures and scenes all around Twilight of her adventures with her friends, her interactions with Queen Aze, and her growth as a pony over time. The emptyness of space was all around them, and Twilight walked alongside her mentor on a bed of stars.

"That is not important right now. What is important, is that this situation has called for you to fulfill your destiny." Celestia answered. With a flash of magic, swirls of light wrapped around Twilight's torso. A bright glow was emitting from her chest, as she was lifted into the air with the magic causing a warmth to spread throughout her body.

"Princess, what's happening?" She asked, growing panicked.

"Remain calm, Twilight. This is not how I had planned for this to happen, but the situation is too dire to prolong it further."

The magic then grew in power, wrapping around Twilight with purple streaks of energy and expanded outwards into an explosion in the night sky.

The beings gathered in the courtroom below had seen the growing light, after Queen Aze had pointed it out, and were watching with concern, thinking this a part of Garotte's plan.

The resulting explosion of energy showed a starburst pattern of Twilight's cutiemark, blinding beams of light accompanying the slow fall of the symbol. Rushing outside, the group saw it touch down in the courtyard. The light emitted a final blinding flash of of energy, and a familiar form stood hunched over.

"Twilight, is that you?" Applejack asked, shielding her face from the dying light.

Rising from the ground, Twilight stood tall, unfurling her Alicorn wings.

"That... was unexpected." Discord commented in surprise.


Garotte, meanwhile, had seen the falling star.


She then turned to several of her duplicates. "Things are proceeding to plan. Have you finished your tasks?" she asked of them.

"Yes." one replied in monotone.




"Did." the Trio replied.

"Also, excellent. Now, we just have to 'mess up' and reveal ourselves." Garotte turned to a stealthily dressed version of herself. "You know what to do~!" She cheered.

The shadowy figure then bowed, and left the room silently.

"Jeeze. That's so dramatic." The Mirror replied.

"We have everything in place?" Real Garotte asked.

"As ready as it'll ever be. Tirek is causing havoc in the Citadel, the Golems are rampaging through Canterlot, the Insane ponies are doing what they do best, and Queens Song and Viscera have been left alone completely." Monotone replied.

"Think they'll play along?" Mirror asked.

"Are you kidding?"

"They'd jump at the chance!"

"Being evil, just to make their daddy proud!" The trio replied.


Queens Song and Viscera had indeed been busy. Under the assumption that Garotte had been delivering them a message, the two had taken their small hives to do battle with the Royal and Lunar guards. Their mission was to keep the armies of Equestria occupied while the 'Heroes' could accomplish their main task. They didn't mind the role, as they had been told that Celestia needed their help in preparing her star pupil for her new position.

They didn't bother to ask what that would be, but they were informed it would involve a lot of magic. And lasers. And awesome.

That was all they needed, and they soon set about attacking the various garrisons with gleeful energy.


"I'm... an Alicorn?!" Twilight panicked.

"Told you it was too soon!" The Pink One scolded Celestia.

"We don't have time to do this the proper way." Celestia replied.

"What's going on?" Rainbow Dash asked.

"Why is Twilight an Alicorn all of a sudden?" Applejack also asked.

Celestia raised a hoof to stop any further barrage of questions. "Lord Tirek." she explained, "With his ability to consume and harness the power of another being's magic, he will soon grow to overpower us. If he gains hold of any Alicorn's powers, then he will be able to destroy all of Equestria at a whim."

"Oh please, like he could ever do anything to me." Discord bragged, his clawed griffon hand resting on his chest.

Pinkie then giggled.

"Oh." Discord replied in deadpan.

"So you turned Twilight into an Alicorn, so she would have more magic for Tirek to steal?" Nightmare Moon commented.

"No. We are all going to give our magic to Twilight, so that she will defeat Tirek. When he is weaked, Twilight and her friends will be able to use the Elements of Harmony on Tirek and reduce him to his original form. I may have to banish him to the sun after this..." Celestia replied.

"Harsh." Nightmare replied. "I would know."

Celestia gave Nightmare a look, before explaining further. "With the help of the Element of Magic, Twilight will be able to control the excess magical energies that we will give her. If we keep our powers separate, he will easily be able to steal them from us. Combined, it will be too much for him to wield."

"Never eat a source of power larger than your head." Aether added.

"Exactly." Celestia smiled approvingly.

"So you expect all of us to just trust that this plan won't horrifically backfire?" Chrysalis asked, skeptical.

"It is the only option we have." Celestia replied.

"Couldn't we just talk to Garotte? If all of this is because of a Pinkie Promise, why don't we just free her from it?" Fluttershy asked.

Several powerful beings were about to explain how that wouldn't work, before their brains caught up and made them stop speaking before they could begin.

"I... hadn't thought of that." Celestia finally said. "I am used to Evil that is uncompromising and complete in its purpose."

Pinkie again raised her hoof.

"Oh, don't you even say it!" Nightmare Moon snapped.

"Actually?" Pinkie said anyway.


Stealthy Garotte had snuck upon the group, hiding in the shadows. She was laying in wait for a moment like this, and walked silently from the shadows, using her light blue magic to reveal her face. The others were still focused on the Pink One, and she took the opportunity to leap onto her. This caused the both of them to roll away from the group, with Stealth attempting to bear hug the Pink One.

"Get her!" Rainbow Dash yelled, and Stealth was struck in the side by the blur of a Rainbow turned aggressive. Rolling a few times to a stop in the grass, she pushed herself up quickly enough to dodge the next swooping attack of Rainbow. Applejack had a rope on hoof, and nearly landed it on Stealth's neck. Rolling to the side, she had avoided it, and made a move for Fluttershy.

Before she was simply lifted into the air with magic.

"No fair!" Stealth complained, flailing her hooves.

"Garotte?" Twilicorn asked.

"Whoa. You're an Alicorn? How the hay did that happen?!" Stealth asked in bewilderment. At least she had confirmed that the plan worked thus far, making her task easier on her copied mind.

"You have to stop this!" Twilight desperately cried. "You're going to destroy Equestria!"

"No I'm not!" Stealth countered. "Everything is going exactly to plan!"

"What plan?" Twilight snapped, bringing Stealth Garotte closer to her.

"This!" Stealth replied happily, pointing to her wings.

Celestia looked to Pinkie Pie with a death glare, and the Pink One was smiling nervously with shrugging hooves.

"I thought it would be good for the story!" She replied.

"We don't have time for this!" Twilight complained. "Garotte, you have to put a stop to all of this! Ponies are going to get hurt!"

"Pinkie Promise!" Stealth replied.

"Then just revoke it!"


"Why not?!"

"Hi!" Pinkie butted in.

"Wait! Before you cover your face with your limbs, hear me out!" Stealth interrupted, most of the group having nearly facehoof/clawed. "There's one condition that will end all of this. You have to defeat and banish Lord Tirek, and befriend Garotte."

All of them took a moment to be confused. Twilight was the first to recover.

"Um... Garotte? You're right here. Why are you talking about yourself?"

"I'm not me, I'm a copy!" she explained.

Twilight and her friends then paled, having remembered the horde of Pinkie Pies they had dealt with in their free time earlier that year. Twilight turned to Pinkie Pie.

"You didn't." she asked with shock.

Pinkie smiled nervously, raising a hoof.

"YOU DID?!" Twilight yelled.


"Garotte to Garotte, come in Garotte."

"Garotte here, go ahead Garotte." the Garotte on the other radio channel giggled.

"Cloudsdale in position, over."

"Begin Operation: Bait and Tackle, Over."

"Copy, Out."

Then, with the city of Cloudsdale looming over Canterlot, the weather factories began pumping out all kinds of magic, ranging from snow to lightning storms. Some Garotte's even dumped pure Rainbow over the side of the city, splashing down to the ground below and eating away at the cobblestone streets like acid, leaving behind a colorful streak as they raced into the storm drains.

Soon after, the huge amount of snowfall began to blanket the city. The accompanying lightning storms were hurled around with reckless abandon by snow-nados beginning to form, and threw the chaotic weather through windows and storefronts. Buildings began to light on fire, and were soon doused by storms of rainwater.

Meanwhile, Golems were still on the ground. They had been damaging as many buildings as possible, but their programming prevented anypony or being otherwise to come to harm through action or inaction, and the citizens of the city had been placed in the Rich Bank vault for protection, if against their will.

The insane ponies that had been released were directing the weather, deciding what went where and what to create. One had come up with the idea of a Rainbow Cloud that would rain chromatic lightning bolts accompanied by snowballs of ice. This pony was then tied up by the other insane ponies, as that was too insane, even for them.


Lord Tirek saw the massive display of magic, and began making his way towards the mountainside capitol city, engorged on the magic of hundreds already. The magic of that city in the clouds would be more than enough to challenge the Princesses, and give him the power to claim whatever else he wanted without trouble.


"What is that?!" Twilight had yelled, pointing towards Cloudsdale and all of it's spasticness.

"Cloudsdale." Stealth answered.

Twilight rolled her eyes, still having Stealthy Garotte in her field of magic suspended overhead. "I can see that. Why is it here?!"

"To lure Tirek here, obviously." She replied.

Celestia's eyes went wide. "We don't have much time until he arrives!" She then turned to Discord, Chrysalis, Nightmare Moon, Aze, Luna and Aether. "Quickly, we must transfer our power to Twilight so that she can defeat Discor-- um... I mean Tirek!"

"Did you seriously just refer to me as the 'threat of the land' on reflex?" Discord smirked.

"Wait! How am I supposed to control all of this magic? Won't it do the same thing to me that it would do to Tirek?" Twilight asked.

Pinkie Pie then spoke up. "Ya know, I thought about that, but I think It'll be alright!"

Twilight was unconvinced. "And why is that?"

She then unexpectedly pointed to Queen Aze. "Well, her hive runs on Harmony, right?"

Not getting it, Twilight humoured her. "Yes... and?"

"And Friendship?"

Twilight still didn't get it. "What's your point?"

Pinkie sighed. "Twilight, think about it. Friendship and Harmony? Elements of Harmony? Friendship is Magic?"

"I don't get it." Chrysalis added.

Pinkie facehoofed. "You guys! She's the most powerful being here!"

Everybeing then collectively looked to the oblivious changeling Queen, who was looking off into the sky at Cloudsdale with her mouth open.

"Sure she is." Twilight deadpanned.

"I don't mean obviously powerful! Her magic isn't raw power. It's made of Harmony, right?" Pinkie lead on, "Sooooo, what happens when you have a whole bunch of different magics all in the same pony?"

"Chaos." Discord added.

"And what happens when you introduce a bit of Harmony to all of it?" she trailed.

"Magic?" Rainbow Dash attempted.

"Yes!" Pinkie cheered.

Rainbow didn't get it.

"I think I understand." Twilight spoke. "Alone, all of your different magics would conflict, and destroy me. That's why Tirek can't absorb too much power at the same time. He needs some of his power to keep the rest of it from destroying him. With the magic of Harmony, I would be able to use all of your different magics, including Dark, Shadow, Sun, Chaotic, Love, Alchemical and my own natural magics, without backlash between them..." Twilight explained while her expression slowly brightened, turning to awe.

"Pinkie, you're a genius!" Twilight exclaimed, squishing Pinkie in a hug, with her new wings joining subconsciously.

"You're forgetting a crucial element!" Pinkie squeaked.

"Huh?" Twilight blurted, releasing her friend.


"Now you've lost me." Discord replied.

"Harmony is all well and good, but you can't get along if you're not friends! Just because somepony doesn't show they hate you outright, doesn't mean they can't live with you like nothing is wrong. That means that you need the Magic of Friendship to unite all those magics under the banner of Harmony, to defeat Tirek!" Pinkie explained.

Rainbow Dash held her head. "This is making my brain hurt." She complained.

"Why's all this have'ta be so complicated?" Applejack asked.

"I wouldn't question anything the Pink One does." Stealth Garotte replied, reminding everybeing of her existence.

"Was this your plan all along?" Twilight asked.

"Pretty much. You still need the last Element though; Friendship." Stealth explained.

"How do I do that? I already have my friends here, and we're the Elements of Harmony."

"Do we have time for a song?" Stealth asked suddenly.

"No!" They all replied.

"Darn. I was hoping I'd get to sing at least. Every good villain has a song."

Nightmare Moon and Discord then glared at Stealth, while Chrysalis smiled smugly.

"We're getting distracted. Why does Twilight need to befriend Garotte?" Celestia asked, bringing things back on track.

"Because she's the one that made the Pinkie Promise." Stealth replied.

"What promise?" Twilight asked, setting Stealth down.

She raised a hoof to her chest, and recited.

"I solemnly swear than I am up to no good, for my brand of evil is far misunderstood. Through pain of life I have become who I am, and through joy of life I may begin again. Without friends, my life holds little meaning. I have only myself to keep on leaning. My actions today may seal my fate, yet for their results I would gladly state: I, Garotte Wire, Pinkie Promise to be the best evil I can make."

Behind Blue Eyes

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"This is the part where we give up our powers to save Equestria, right?" Nightmare Moon asked with some amount of annoyance in her tone. "And it's also the part where we all get to go free for being such a wonderful help, right?" She was smiling with sarcastic hopefulness, leaning towards Celestia.

Celestia looked amongst the various 'villains' that were before her now. Discord, the god of chaos. A draconequus that could never be trusted without something to tie him down. She had yet to find whatever that would be, but she doubted that he would be held by a Pinkie Promise. Then again, they all treated the Promises as life and death, so that might do the trick. Then came Nightmare Moon, the entire reason she was forced to banish her sister to the moon, yet also apparently the reason she still had a sister. Luna had never told her about what happened in the years before her corruption, but it was looking more and more as a desperate cry for help in hindsight. She wasn't sure whether she should be banishing Nightmare Moon, or thanking her. After that, was Queen Chrysalis. She hadn't known why the queen had invaded Canterlot, but now it was revealed that her pony-- changlings, were starving. Wouldn't she herself do anything to save her ponies? Certainly, the methods that Chrysalis chose left much to be desired, but they also had different cultures. She would no more expect a Minotaur to beg for food, or a Griffon to grovel. Perhaps the Changelings were the same, in this way? Finally, the case of Aether. He was no true villain, and he was doing everything with her blessing in the first place. The fact that one of his subordinates took his teachings to heart was no more his fault than anypony else.

This took Celestia a full minute to reply, and her stoic mask was left in place as she thought. The other villains, now seeing Celestia actually take Nightmare Moon's sarcastic remark seriously, became very interested in Celestia's reply.

With a deep breath, Celestia's blank stare finally broke as she looked to the four in front of her. "I do not trust that all of you will not immediately go back to plotting and attempting to overthrow me, but your assistance here is desperately needed. If I declined your assistance, or used you and then discarded your contribution, I would be no better than any of you."

Chrysalis, Nightmare and Discord all rolled their eyes in unison at the attitude of Celestia, and her 'holier than thou' grandstanding.

"However, this gives all of us an opportunity." Celestia continued, regaining their attention. "With one detail, I will allow all of you the chance to correct the error of your ways." Discord then grinned mischievously. "No, Discord. I don't mean fixing your plans. I mean reformation."

Discord grumbled, and Chrysalis spoke next. "What do you mean 'Reformation'? I'm not going to turn myself into one of your ponies , if that's what you mean. At least, not on a permanent basis."

"No, I talk of social reformation."

"Uh, you guys? Sorry to but in, but THERE'S A FREAKING INVASION HAPPENING RIGHT NOW!" Rainbow Dash yelled. Then, everybeing gathered looked up to the sky to stare at Cloudsdale, as if they had completely forgotten. "Can't this wait until after we kick the bad guys' flanks?" She then winced, and looked to the four villains. "Eh, no offense!" She smiled sheepishly.

Then, unexpectedly, an explosion blew out one side of the floating cloud city. Cloudy construction material rained from the sky with streaks of flame and rainbow in its wake, accompanied by mushroom clouds of debris and dust on impact. Cloud matter was spewing dangerously from a large container near the weather factory, sending a few Garotte's to their doom below.

Twilight's face paled, imagining any of those falling to be the real Garotte. "We have to go! We'll talk about all of this later, but I really need to get powered up if I'm going to have any hope against Tirek!"

"There's a big problem with this, and I feel like now would be a good time to mention it." Queen Aze spoke up with raised hoof.

"Really?! You waited until NOW?" Twilight snapped.

"The talking was nice, and you were all becoming friends. I didn't want to ruin the moment. Besides, Celestia is spicy" Aze wiggled her eyebrows at the Solar Diarch.

Several beings made faces at this before they composed themselves. "What is the issue?" Luna asked.

"Well, at least my hive as an issue with losing all of our magic. It keeps us alive, and without it, we turn into Amethyst statues of ourselves until we can be revived through the magic we lost, or a new source."

Rarity's face then decided it didn't want to have a jaw, as it dropped to the floor. Literally. Discord laughed his tail off, and then re-attached it. Oh, and Rarity's jaw as well.

"You mean... I've been using dead changelings in my work this entire time?!" she yelled, about to go into panic.

"No, you would notice that the statue was lifelike. A work of art. However, I don't know how Chryssi's hive deals with starvation." Aze pointed out, looking to the other Queen.

Chrysalis grimaced, before finally speaking. "Do I need to give Sparkle all of my power?"

Celestia, Twilight and Pinkie Pie all shared a look, before nodding. "Every bit could make the difference between victory and defeat." Celestia replied.

Then, to the disgust of everybeing but Queen Aze, Chrysalis made a hocking sound and spat into the holes in her hooves.

"What are you doing?" Twilight asked, still grossed out.

"Making myself." Chrysalis snickered, before her magic wove between the holes in her hooves and began pulling out a mucous-resin thread and wrapping it around herself.

"Huh?" Rainbow asked.

"She's preserving her body in a Chrysalis. Thus, she is 'making Herself.'" Aze explained. "It seems we both go into a stasis of some kind. However, we will be completely unable to protect or defend ourselves in this state. You must Pinkie Promise that nothing will happen to Chrysalis or I before I agree to give you my power."

"But we need your magic to defeat Tirek!" Twilight complained. "How could you even consider not helping us?"

"I have thousands of children to look after, and I cannot bargain their lives on a plan that only has a slim chance of working. If you can promise the return of my magic, then I will assist. First, I must inform the Hivemind of what is about to happen, so they do not come in a swarm to rescue me."

Twilight was reminded of the army that had landed outside of her treehouse when she had first met Queen Aze.

"Um, everybeing?" Fluttershy spoke up. She then pointed towards the opposite end of the city. "I think Tirek is here..."

Off in the distance, his steps beginning to shake the city, Lord Tirek fired a large blast of orange-red magic from his mouth into the City of Cloudsdale's center, splitting it in two and causing a great many copies to come raining down from the sky onto the Cobblestone below.


"That was a direct hit!" A Garotte at a control console yelled. "Another like that, and we're all dead!"

"Keep it together! We only have to stay here until the heroes pull their head from their flank and decide to do something!" Real Garotte barked back. Another blast scorched the side of the control building, causing it to shake as the supports began to collapse. Steadying herself on her hooves, Garotte looked out the window to see the grinning face of Tirek.

"Found you!"

Garotte put up a bold front, though she was still shaking in place.

"Remember your promise!" Garotte yelled defiantly back.

"You think a foolish promise, even from the Pink One, is going to hold me back?!" He grabbed at the building, but his hand simply swished through the condensed clouds, causing them to dissipate. "I am Lord Tirek! I have more power than anybeing, even her!" he growled.

"If you want to test that theory, go right ahead! It'll just mean I have to find something else to fight the Heroes with!" Garotte shot back, making for the exit that lead to her flying contraption.

Tirek took in a deep breath, his magic condensing into a large ball of energy and aimed at Garotte. For her part, Garotte began a full sprint towards the stairs, deciding to leap down the staircases instead of taking the elevator or being more cautious. As Tirek was about to unleash a gargantuan beam of energy to annihilate the entirety of Cloudsdale, he began coughing and sputtering. He doubled over on top of a Barracks, squashing an armory, several carts, and sending some golems flying into the air from the impact.

"What?!" He coughed. "I-Im- *hack* Possible- *urk!*"

Garotte had barely made it to her escape vehicle, and gave it a shove off the side of Cloudsdale, grabbing onto the pilot seat at the last moment with her mane and tail being buffeted in the wind by her rapid spiral downwards.


"We are prepared?" Luna asked of those gathered in a circle around Twilight Sparkle.

"As I'll ever be, Loony." Nightmare replied, earning a grumble from Luna.

Queen Aze took a regal sitting pose, as if being painted. "I have informed the hive. I am ready."

Chrysalis was still inside of her namesake, but her voice could be heard through the membrane as if underwater. "Let's get this over with!"

The Pink One stood in front of Twilight, placing a hoof on her chest. "You're gonna do great, Twilight." She said with sad cheer. "Go get the bad guys for all of us!"

Twilight was a bundle of nervous energy, and about to become much more. Celestia began the transference of power, covering everybeing in a glow of sunlight colored magic. First was Nightmare Moon and Luna's magic. The Dark and Shadow mixing together and pouring from their horns into Twilight's own horn. As their magic was slowly drained, the two began to physically weaken. Their magic was joined by Discord and Aether's; mixture of blackened lightning and an Aurora-borealis of light, respectively. Discord began turning into stone, as Aether collapsed to the floor with a groan. Following this, Celestia and Chrysalis began to pour their power into Twilight. The light of the sun and the power of love forced Twilight to the ground, gasping for breath and relief from the feeling of being incinerated from the inside by all of the magic she was being forced to contain. Finally, Queen Aze's magic was taken in a magenta beam of energy, swirling around all of the magics together, coalescing them into what looked like the most intricate of nebulae. The raging storm of power began to calm, and Twilight was able to breathe again. With final effort, Celestia collapsed to the ground. The Pink One herself then gave Twilight a hug as the last of the magic poured into her, and a bright glow emanated from the Party Pony she had known as a friend.

"There's a bit of friendship for the road, Twilight." She said weakly, her mane deflating to the straight lines Twilight had seen when her friend was distressed. Pinkie then fell onto her back, sprawled onto the cobblestone beneath them. "Go get em..." she whispered, weak from having her magic drained.

Twilight could feel the force of the magics inside of her all fighting for dominance. The harmony provided by Aze was only going to last so long before it was exhausted keeping everything in check. She had to find Garotte before she took out half of the planet with all of this magical energy begging for release.

Seeing something falling from Cloudsdale, she squinted and saw a pony clinging onto it for dear life. Deciding it was her best shot, She channeled magic into her horn and teleported towards it.


Garotte was screaming her head off as her vehicle spiraled out of control towards the rapidly approaching ground. A wing had been torn off during her escape, and the vehicle was going to become her coffin at this rate. She couldn't do anything other than hold onto the contraption and hope that it would break her fall enough for her to survive.


A sound that was murderous to the eardrums of any that heard it completely deafened Garotte, who reflexively covered her ears with her hooves, and began screaming in earnest when she realized she had let go of the flying machine. She was in a tumble directly downwards, and had begun screaming as the wind rushed past her face.

This was before she had the wind knocked from her lungs, as something impacted her in the chest. Opening her eyes and gasping for air, she saw the lavender coat of a familiar mare.

The wings were new, though.

"Are you the real Garotte?" Twilight yelled. Garotte was unable to hear anything.


Twilight swooped down, dodging some debris that was intent on impaling the both of them. Large sections of the city had lost their cohesion, and were crashing down below onto Canterlot with plumes of fog rolling through the streets. Twilight then banked into a dive, swooping down to land behind a fallen clocktower. The loss of speed caused Garotte to fall to the ground, having been carried by sheer momentum.

"You can fly?!" Garotte yelled.

Twilight looked to her wings, both of them unfolding. She had no idea how she was able to fly so easily, but decided that if the magic of Harmony could reign in conflicting magics of all things, then having her able to fly straight wasn't that much of a problem for it.

"Are you the real Garotte?" Twilight yelled, Garotte barely able to hear her.


Okay. That part was accomplished... now how to make friends?

Come on, Twilight. You went to Ponyville specifically to learn about friendship. This should be easy!

"Leave me, Twilight! I can't stop being evil any more than you can stop saving ponies, and I don't want to fight you!

Twilight latched onto the comment, as she could use that to get through to Garotte. "You don't have to be evil!"

The city itself was still falling apart all around them, and Lord Tirek was beginning to recover from the Pink One's intervention. His arms swung wide, allowing him to push himself onto his hooves and crushing several buildings in the process, as well as flinging debris towards the Royal Palace, destroying one of the towers.

"I made a promise!" Garotte yelled.

"We can revoke it! We just have to take you to Pinkie Pie, and you'll be freed from it!" She offered a hoof to Garotte, hoping that she would accept it.

"Don't you understand, Twilight?! I've never had a choice in who I was! I'll always be evil, no matter if it's from a Promise or not!"

"You always have a choice, Garotte!"

Garotte was regaining some of her hearing, but the destruction of the City as well as the beams of magic from Tirek were causing it to be very loud. They still had to shout just to speak to each other a few hooves away. The orange-red lances of energy were slicing apart the Royal Palace, and Golems were swarming at Tirek's hooves, attempting to pull him to the ground.

"Maybe you do, Sparkle! I don't!"

"Why is that?! You can end all of this right now! Help me, Garotte!"

"If you think I'm going to throw away the last part of me that still clings on to the vain hope that I can be a good pony, then you're wrong!"

"You can be a good pony! You just have to break your promise! Let Pinkie free you from it!"

Garotte breathed deep, her body covered in the concrete and marble dust of the city around her.

"You never understood, Twilight." She muttered.

"What? Garotte, We have to go! Come with me; help me end this!"

Tirek had wandered off, the gathered magics of everypony in Canterlot hiding in the Rich Bank drawing him towards them, giving Twilight and Garotte some breathing room. Golems were still attempting to stop Tirek, but his size was enough that he towered over every building in Canterlot that remained standing, and shook the ground with his steps.

"~Don't cut me loose~
~hang me by my Wire;~
~or set me free,~
~and hang my noose higher!~"

Garotte began to sing, confusing Twilight. Garotte was also walking towards Twilight menacingly.

"~I made a promise,~
~I intend to keep.~
~Don't be so thoughtless,~
~Let me put you to sleep!~"

Garotte grabbed hold of Twilight with her hooves, attempting to crush her in a hug. Twilight, empowered by the magics overloading her body, was able to counteract the absurd strength of Garotte, causing Twilight to reconsider if she was just a regular pony.

"~Just one hug~
~A bit of harmless fun,~
~Come here, Princess~
~Just a second; you'll be done~"

Garotte grinned malevolently, doubling down on the force she was applying and causing Twilight to strain under the compression. Twilight was then shoved to the ground, and Garotte took a moment to catch her breath.

"~Take a seat~
~Hang back~
~Just leave and retreat!~"

Garotte then jumped onto Twilight again, re-doubling her efforts to crush her.

"~Don't cut me loose~
~hang me from my Wire~
~or set me free,~
~and hang my noose higher!~"

The two rolled, struggling to gain the upper hoof. She was too busy trying to keep Garotte at bay without hurting her from the building overload of magic that she was fighting to keep under control to worry about the meaning of the impromptu lyrics. She hurled Garotte off of her with a buck, sending her flipping over a cart. Rolling over and worried that she had put too much into her attack, Garotte leapt atop of the overturned haycart.

"~I made a promise;~
~I intend to keep.~
~Don't be so heartless,~
~Trying to put me down to sleep!?~" Garotte roared in anger, tackling Twilight.

She was on top of Twilight now, their foreheads and horns locked in a battle of will as Garotte upgraded from hugging to attempted strangulation.

"Come a little closer,
I've gotta tell you something.
Come a little closer,
~And let me tighten the wire's string!~" She cried madly, slipping her hooves past Twilight's wings and wrapping around her neck.

To her surprise, Twilight could see tears in Garotte's eyes. She could also feel her consciousness fading, and desperately unleashed a bit of energy, causing a sphere of nebulous magic to blast Garotte off of her and through a brick wall.


Lord Tirek had seen the blast of magic, and redoubled his efforts to tear apart the Rich Bank, holding hundreds of Unicorns, Pegasus and Earth Ponies. He was going to need every bit if he was going up against that much power.


Garotte wheezed, pushing a slab of bricks away. Her ribs felt broken, and she could hardly move in her present state. Coughing, she saw the concealed form of Twilight amidst the dust of the recently damaged store.

"F-finish it!" Garotte sputtered. "I can't break the promise I made, because if it's the only good thing I do in my life, It'll be that I never broke a promise!"

Twilight loomed over her, and Garotte shied away, expecting retribution for attempting to strangle Twilight. A hoof rested on her chest, and she winced in pain; before that caused her to gasp in agony from her ribs -that were indeed broken- stabbing into her.

Twilight's horn was bathed in Ethereal magics, and wrapped the both of them in its glow, lifting them into the air. Swirls of black, white, yellow, green and pink condensed onto them, and Garotte could feel the pain in her chest easing, before fading away entirely as if she had never been hurt. Twilight's eyes were a fierce white glow, and the magics that she was using had begun to change her appearance from their will to dominate the other magics. The harmony from Aze was fading fast with every spell used, and Twilight was running out of time.

"Garotte, You have to trust me. We can find a way out of this that won't break your promise, but we have to work together if we're going to do that. You don't have to be evil, no matter what anypony else says, and especially not because somepony else is forcing you be evil."

She was still exhausted from the fight, as magic could only do so much to heal her wounds. She could only look at Twilight hopefully.

"We have to defeat Tirek, but I can't do it alone, Garotte. I need you." She smiled, offering a hoof to Garotte, whom was sitting on the debris littered floor.

"You're not going to banish me? Or throw me in a dungeon? Or throw me in a dungeon in the place you banished me to?" Garotte asked, taking the hoof with cautious skepticism.

Twilight then yanked Garotte into a hug, surprising her. She nuzzled Garotte, further catching her off guard. "Friends don't banish friends."

Garotte almost yelped in fright, clutching her chest.

"What's wrong?!" Twilight asked in shock, concern for Garotte blotting out the impending doom that Tirek represented.

"I... I feel..." Garotte looked betrayed, glaring at Twilight. "What did you do to me?!"

"I didn't do anything!" Twilight yelped, hooves up in a gesture of surrender.

"Then why do I feel this knot in my chest!? You did something, didn't you!?"

Twilight then got an idea, and tackled Garotte.

"I knew it! I knew I couldn't trust you!" Garotte yelled, desperately trying to hug Twilight unconcious, but failing to succeed in her weakened state.

"I know what's happening!" Twilight yelled over the scuffle. She lifted the both of them in her magic, and Garotte's struggles started to die down after awhile.

"What's happening?! Why is the knot loosening?!" Garotte panicked.

"Let it happen!"

"Bad choice of wording, Sparkle!" Garotte retorted. The feeling was beginning to unravel, and somehow, Garotte felt more at ease when it loosened more and more. "Is this some kind of mind control spell?!" Garotte asked, calming down though still suspicious.

"Nope! It is magic, though!"

"What magic?"

Twilight squeezed Garotte tighter. "Friendship!"


Twilight had taken a few precious minutes to explain to Garotte what their plan was, once she had calmed down.

"You need my magic, specifically, to defeat Tirek?"

"Yes. The other copy of you had said that I needed to befriend you, in order to do so."

Garotte's head lowered as her eyes raced in thought.

"I... I didn't tell them to say that..."

Twilight was surprised. "Wait, you didn't?"


From her spot on the floor, the Pink One smiled.


"It doesn't matter right now! We have to defeat Tirek. I need your help, Garotte."

"I still don't understand why. All I do is hug strongly." she replied, dusting off her suit jacket and adjusting her "Ambassador of Evil' nametag.

Twilight looked to Garotte's cutie mark of Piano Wire in a loop, and an idea came to her.

"I don't think that's what your cutie mark means, Garotte." She placed a hoof on her new friend's withers. "Would you mind telling me how you got it? I have a theory."

"We have time for that?" Garotte asked, pointing to the form of Tirek battering the bank with his fists, seeing as the walls had been enchanted against magic.

"Humor me." Twilight smiled.

"Alright, fine." Garotte cleared her throat, and began. "I was still a filly, though at the time I was living in the Griffon Empire on my own. My parents had vanished before I was born, so I didn't have anypony taking care of me but myself. I did what I could, currying packages or doing odd jobs to survive. Griffons aren't the most generous."

Twilight then remembered Gilda, and nodded.

"One day, I was delivering another package and came across a flock of Griffons, all arguing about something. I poked my head through all the ruffled feathers to see what was up, and earned a wing to the side that sent me flying. I picked myself up quickly, about to run before they decided to have fun throwing me around, and a hoof rested on my back. It was an old mare; never learned her name. She suggested going up to the griffons and offering them a hug. Help them see that their argument was silly, and we should just get along."

She sighed.

"Being the dumb filly that I was, I decided she was probably right. I walked up to the griffons, and offered a hug to them. One of the smaller ones, a mare griffon or something, picked me up and called me cute. I gave her a hug, and she was almost hospitalized. It took all of the other griffons just to peel me off of her, as I had no idea I was hurting her in the first place. When they pried be off, I got a swift wing to the face and flung into a fruit cart. When I came to, I had my cutie mark of piano wire. And then I overheard the griffons talking about me, and mentioned returning the favor by Garroting me. I decided to leave, but I called myself Garotte from that point on."

Garotte looked to Twilight. "I learned that no matter what I tried to do, It would only come out horribly, so I stopped trying to be a good pony. Trying to help only got myself or others hurt. If I couldn't be good, then I would be the worst pony I could live with. At least then I would have a purpose."

Twilight embraced Garotte again, and Garotte returned a half hearted hug.

"I don't think that's what it means, Garotte." She said, and pulled away to speak with her. "Look at it from a different viewpoint. All of those griffons were being mean to each other, right?"

"They were just arguing, Twilight. No big deal, and I shouldn't have gotten involved."

"No, I mean look what you did. They were all against each other, and you united them, although not in the best of ways. I don't think talking would have worked with griffons anyway. They can be really stubborn." Twilight was getting off track, and shook her head. "Anyway, I was getting at this: Your cutie mark doesn't mean that you're only good at strangling. It means you're good at having others work together whether they like it or not. Think about it! You got Tirek to work for you, you convinced all of your copies to work together when we couldn't keep even two Pinkies contained, You would've gotten all of Ponyville to join the forces of evil, and you even got insane ponies to work together towards a common goal."

"So... what does that mean?"

"It means, your special talent is uniting others through any way necessary." Twilight smiled.

"So how does that help you? Would it make your job easier?"

"I think so! If anything can make something work together, it's you, Garotte." Twilight smiled.

Garotte blinked, looking at herself in a new light. "And... you need my magic to defeat Tirek?" She asked hesitantly.

"Yes, or he's going to destroy all of Equestria. He doesn't play by any rules except his own, and he won't stop with just us ponies either."

Garotte gulped, realizing the threat she had created. She then nodded vigorously. "Okay... I'll do it!" She declared with a hoof raised dramatically in the air, before looking to Twilight. "Um... what do I need to do?" she asked sheepishly.

"Just relax for a moment, I'll take care of the rest." Twilight grinned happily, both for Garotte finally trusting her, and for the final piece to defeating Tirek.

"W-wait!" Garotte blurted as Twilight's magic began to illuminate them. "If I help you, then I'll be breaking my Promise to be evil..."

"Garotte, do you trust me?" Twilight asked.

"Um... sort of?"

"Garotte, I have an idea."

"And that is?"

"I'm going to seal you in stone, so the promise can't affect you. Then I'll absorb your magic, defeat Tirek, return everybeing else's magic, and we'll figure out a way to free you."

This didn't sit well with Garotte. "Twilight, I know you're being honest in trying to help, but you're asking me to go into Limbo for who knows how long. You don't even know if you can free me after this, or if the Promise will just..."

"We have to take the risk, Garotte. There's no other way." Twilight said with more determination and surety than she felt.

"Well... If that's what it takes, then you had better come back for me, Sparkle." Garotte replied, shoring up her nervous terror with bravado.

Twilight then embraced Garotte. "I wouldn't leave you, Garotte. I'll be back before you know it."

The two shared a moment, before Garotte broke their embrace. "Alright..." She took a deep breath and then exhaled slowly. "I'm ready."

"See you soon, Garotte." Twilight smiled, and her horn lit up with ethereal energies, also causing her eyes to emit blinding light.

Garotte shielded her eyes, and panicked as she felt the hooves touching the ground slowly lock up. Unable to move them, she looked down as saw stone slowly crawling up her hind legs, moving past her fetlocks already.

Well, if I'm going to be a statue for who knows how long...

Garotte then placed what she could of herself into a polite bow, head lowered respectfully while looking towards Twilight Sparkle.

Twilight, having finished her spell and taken the magic of Unity from Garotte, opened her eyes and was shocked to see the statue of Garotte bowing to her. This immediately made her feel a wave of guilt for how things had played out, but she promised to herself that as soon as she was able, she would find some way to fix this.

For now, however, she had some flank to kick.


Twilight stored Garotte with the others in the circle, placing her statue in the center. Queen Aze was an amethyst statue of herself, appearing as if carved exactly to her form and glowing faintly. The rest were either asleep, weak, or in a Chrysalis. Her friends had been standing watch, as their magic wouldn't be enticing enough to attract Tirek when Twilight was around.

Seeing that they were still safe, Twilight left the room, and took off from the ground while leaving a crater. Pinkie was right. Before, all of the magics were fighting with one another, attempting to use their version of a spell over the others. With Garotte's unity, the magics instead decided to fuse with Twilight's, and allowed her to sort through all the separate methods to come up with a unique spell that combined all types of magic.

Hovering above the city, it was easy to spot Tirek. He was the size of the Canterlot Palace, and shooting lasers. Kind of obvious, in hindsight.

Taking a deep breath, and feeling magic swirl in her vocal cords with a slight burning, Twilight got his attention.



Lord Tirek turned his massive frame to the source of the ear shattering challenge. Then what he was facing suddenly surprised him.

"THERE IS A FOURTH ALICORN?!" He bellowed in rage. He had already destroyed the Palace and found that Celestia and Luna were absent. The cowards must have fled, and the Third alicorn, Cadance, was too far away at the moment. She would come later.

This, however, was a large problem in his plans. He could feel the magic inside of this fourth Alicorn burning as if nothing else existed in the universe. He needed that magic. The only problem was that it was too focused, too condensed. He would need to fight this Alicorn if he was to weaken her magics enough to absorb and control. He had enough from the rest of Canterlot, and the recently peeled open Rich Bank as well as the entirety of Cloudsdale's weather factories to fight Celestia or Luna. This one, however, was more powerful than either pony combined. He would have to play this smart if he was going to have a chance.

"You've got alot to answer for, Tirek!" the Alicorn bellowed.

Now that he noticed it, she seemed young. Perhaps she hadn't been taught how to fight, yet? This would play to his advantage, as he had more than enough experience in battle to match some upstart with too much power.

"THEN COME AND FACE ME, WHELP!" He yelled in reply. His mouth opened, and a large orb of Orange-Red magic, crackling with black lightning formed in the gap between his teeth, growing in size.

Twilight ducked to the left, as a massive beam the size of a battleship scorched the air past her. The laser then followed after her, slicing into the city and annihilating several structures. The golems, which had been all but an annoyance till this point, were disintegrated by the heat from the blast alone, causing a large scorch mark to blacken the ground beneath Tirek.

The newly made Alicorn then answered with a spell of her own.

Her horn glowed brightly, different magics swirling together, colors of White, Black, Yellow, Green and Pink, with a large Blue coil around them. This was all combined into a nebulous orb, swirling like the surface of the sun and emitting tendrils of dark magic that reached out to strike anything too close. She poured more power into the spell, ducking another beam of energy from an increasingly panicked Tirek, and discharged the beam directly into his chest.

The resulting blast sent Tirek flying into the mountainside through dozens of layers of rock and sediment. Then it kept going, drilling him into the mountainside with an unrelenting barrage of fury. Tirek held his hands in front of his face in an attempt to stop the stream of doom that was pummeling him, and he was horrified to feel his hands peeling back. He was being disintegrated!

With gathered magic, He forced himself to focus long enough through the pain to teleport out of the way of this death sentence, and appeared on the opposite side of Canterlot, heaving and using his brief respite to heal his injuries.

It was another half minute before Twilight's spell dissipated enough to be stopped. Twilight then made a mental note to not use that much energy in her next attack. If Tirek even still existed.

A blast of magic to her backside then confirmed that Tirek was still alive, and flung her through what remained of the Canterlot Palace.


"Ya think now's a good time to get the Elements of Harmony ready?" Applejack asked her four friends.

"Definetly." Pinkie Pie squeaked.

"Oh, I hope nopony gets hurt!" Fluttershy worried.

"Darling, I think the only pony getting hurt should be Garotte, for causing this whole mess." Rarity grumbled.

"Yeah! If It wasn't for Garotte, none of this would be happening." Rainbow Dash agreed. "What should we do with her?" She pointed to the statue of Garotte that had been set in the midst of them.

"Well... she's not doing anything now." Fluttershy pointed out.

"But, shouldn't she get punished or something? She basically blew up two whole cities!" Rainbow countered.

"Well, she is frozen in stone, Rainbow." Rarity offered.

"But... doesn't that seem like she got off a little easy?"

"Discord ruled and tormented ponies for decades before the Princesses banished him, and he was entombed in stone for it." Fluttershy said in Garotte's defense.

"Yeah... but..." Rainbow growled in frustration. "It seems like she got off easy." She pouted.

"Well, what'd you have done, Rainbow?" Applejack asked.

"I don't know! Banished her to the moon or something?"

"Not happening... on my watch." Pinkie wheezed.

"Are you certain you should be speaking, dear? You're awfully weak." Rarity asked with concern for Pinkie Pie.

"My fault."

"Hey look! Twilight's alright!" Fluttershy blurted, attempting to distract her friends from becoming embittered or sad.

"Go kick his tail, Twilight!" Rainbow cheered with a hoof pump.


Twilight's everything hurt.

A normal pony would've been annihilated by a blast like that, but Twilight was no longer a normal pony. She was an Alicorn. A pony Demigod in every sense, and empowered by the magics of actual gods.

It still hurt, though.

"Aaaauuuu..." Twilight complained, lifting debris off of her with a field of multicolored magic. Blinking the dust from her eyes and standing on her hooves, she spotted Tirek in the distance, patiently waiting to see if Twilight had survived. To her surprise, the beam of doom she had used earlier to drill the centaur into the mountain side hadn't done any lasting damage to him. He did, however, seem just a slight bit smaller. She was going to need to change her strategy if she was going to win this fight. However much magic she may have, she did have her limits, and those included passing out of physical exhaustion. She hadn't tried using magic to sustain her body before, but she also didn't want to risk becoming addicted to those methods of sustenance. That's probably what happened to the Changelings in the first place. Once you start, your body becomes dependent on the method.

Twilight's internal debate was rudely interrupted by the crackling energy of another beam being summoned by Tirek, and Twilight had just enough time to catapult herself out of the way with a combination of her wings and magical acceleration to avoid becoming part of a trench. She charged her own horn, and sent out needles of various magics to barrage Tirek, flying around his large form like an all powerful insect.

Shielding his eyes, Tirek laughed. "You think your puny attacks will harm me? Let me show you my strength!" he roared, swiping at Twilight with a massive hand. "Hold still!" he insisted, missing the very nimble Alicorn several times.

Then, unbidden to Twilight, a massive flyswatter was summoned from nowhere in a flash of white light, and smacked Tirek on the backside of his head.

Having no time to contemplate how Discord's magic had gained a mind of it's own, she instead focused on the opportunity given by the baffled Tirek, whom was now wrestling with a giant flyswatter. She charged another beam, (Less powerful than her previous one,) And aimed for Tirek's legs.

The resulting lance of magic was enough to knock Tirek to his knees, and he shifted his arms to block the laser from cutting further into him. When Twilight's spell finally dissipated, Tirek lunged upwards to grab hold of Twilight and succeeded.

At least, before Twilight simply teleported onto to the top of his head and gave him a magically enhanced stomp to the skull.

Clutching his head in pain, Tirek swayed slightly in an attempt to remain upright. Twilight took the opportunity to blast him in a most sensitive of stallion anatomical areas, and he further tried to protect his body. Seeing this strategy having the most results, Twilight began blasting other sensitive areas, even at one point deciding to fly into Tirek's ear and deciding to play a game with his eardrums.

"Sunshine, Sunshine! Ladybug's awake!" She pounded onto his eardrums with her hooves.

"Clack your hooves and do a little SHAKE!" She screamed, bucking his eardrum with the same magical enhancements she used on his skull, and causing it to rupture entirely. She then blasted out of his ear, causing further damage, and lanced his incoming palm with another beam of magic.

"AAAAAGHH! Curse you, pony!" Tirek yelled, clutching his bleeding ear and attempting to regain his balance.

While Tirek was looking around for her, Twilight then decided to play even dirtier, and took up a load of debris from the city in her magic. She then strafed the massive centaur, throwing the debris into his eyes and blinding him.

"ENOUGH!" Tirek roared, his arms swinging wildly in an attempt to hit the annoying pest that was doing far better than he predicted.

Twilight decided she was playing around with Tirek at this point and ducked under his arms, making another strafing run on his 'bits', before looping back and smashing full force into one of his horns. This caused an Equestria-shattering crack, and his left horn snapped off entirely.

"AAAAAHHHHGG!!!" Tirek screamed in pain, a large majority of his magic exploding outwards from the shattered horn and being returned to their rightful owners in a stream of color.


"YEAH! GO TWILIGHT!" Rainbow and Applejack cheered.

"We should be bringing the Elements now, shouldn't we?" Fluttershy reminded everypony.

"Oh, yes! I had completely forgotten; with the spectacle and all." Rarity mentioned, having been enraptured by the display of magic that would put any further display to shame for the rest of her life.

"I'll carry Pinkie Pie!" Applejack declared, lifting her pink friend onto her back.

"Let's go save the day!" Rainbow added, floating above her friends that were all now wearing their respective Elements.

"wooo." Pinkie Pie cheered weakly.


When Tirek had gone down in pain, Twilight took the opportunity to shatter his second horn, which released even more magic from Tirek and caused him to shrink down to about Luna's size. She could try to banish him now, but she didn't know if that would use all of her magic or not, and didn't want to risk the lives of her friends, and frienemies. Sure, they were evil, but so was Garotte. In the end, she had done the right thing and tried to help, despite the threat to her own life. With Tirek's case, however, she doubted he could ever be seriously reformed and taken away from evil.

"Do it. Finish me, Alicorn!" Tirek growled, still trying to conjure any form of magic he could to fight back.

"Just sit still, Tirek." Twilight snapped, annoyed with his persistence. Then she blinked. Twilight normally didn't snap at ponies, did she?

Deciding that she wanted the magics that had been contained inside of her to be outside of her as soon as they possibly could, she decided to yell to get her friends' attention.

"Moving with speed would be greatly appreciated right now!"

Then, her friends came from around the corner, attempting to cover their ears from the volume.

"We're here, sugarcube!" Applejack yelled, slightly deafened.

"Let's send Tirek to the sun!" Rainbow added.

"You girls ready?" Twilight asked, and they all lined up next to Twilight. Rarity had used her magic to place Twilight's tiara on her head, and Applejack had set Pinkie down on her hooves, standing as proudly as possible.

"Ready!" The five sounded off with degrees of enthusiasm.

Twilight then took hold of the elements with her magic, and lifted into the air with glowing white eyes. The elements began to glow fiercely, and lifted the remaining five ponies into the air to join Alicorn Twilight.

"You will regret this day, ponies!" Tirek swore, shaking his fist in a most cliche' villainous manner.

Then, the magic of the Elements flared to life, combining their colors into a strip of Rainbow magic that knocked Tirek off of his hooves and to the cobblestone, coiling around and wrapping him entirely. The might of energy began to speed up, before quickly collapsing in on itself and blasting off into the sky, directly into the sun.

Then, as anticlimactically as ever, The Elements of Harmony dumped the six heroes onto the street.

Fluttershy peeked out from her mane with one eye still closed. "Did we win?"


They had indeed won. Tirek was gone; banished to the sun. Twilight and her friends were making their way back to the circle, when Rainbow Dash spoke up.

"Hey, um, Twilight?" She asked nervously, flying next to her friend.

"Yes, Rainbow? Are you hurt?" Twilight asked, concerned.

"No, no. I'm fine. It's just... what do we do about Garotte?"

Twilight stopped, and looked at Rainbow. "What do you mean?"

"Well... it is all her fault that Cloudsdale and Canterlot are in complete ruins now..."

"You want to banish her too?" Twilight asked, a bitter and completely wrong feeling rising in her.

Rainbow waved her hooves in the negative quickly. "No no! It's just... what do we do about her? I mean, banishing her would work, but she's not powerful like Tirek or Luna. I don't think I could live with myself if we had sentenced her to..." Rainbow trailed, not wanting to finish her statement.

Twilight rested a hoof on her friend's shoulder. "We'll think of something, Rainbow." she said reassuringly.


"The Heroes of the hour return!" Nightmare Moon declared, her magics already having begun to return to her. Twilight had begun the transference of power the second she could feel the presence of the others, wanting to get back to normal Twilight instead of crazy, all powerful Alicorn Twilight.

"You were successful?" Luna asked, rising to her hooves.

"Twilight kicked Tirek's flank!" Rainbow affirmed enthusiastically. She then realized she was in front of royalty, and apologized for swearing.

"What of Garotte?" Celestia asked, motioning to the bowing statue that had caused all of this.

"I say we forgive her!" Pinkie Pie chirped, her magic returned as well. She received several stares of incredulity for this. "I mean, She did all of this because of a Promise, right? So it's not really her fault."

"Could she not have simply broken her promise?" Luna asked. "It seems to us a most drastic devotion so something as simple as a verbal contract."

Celestia then nudged her sister. "Luna, I'll explain everything to you later. For now, trust me when I say it is far more than a simple agreement between ponies when the Pink One in concerned."

"Are we really going to forgive her? She trashed two cities and endangered everypony!" Rainbow protested.

"Rainbow, are you alright? You've been mighty persistent about this whole 'punishment' business." Applejack commented.

"I just don't want to start a habit of us getting along with and hugging every villain we come across from this point on." Rainbow explained.

Twilight and Celestia then looked to Garotte's statue, and then to each other.

"I've got an idea of what we could do for Garotte." Twilight smiled.

Three Years' Time

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"What do you mean?! Why can't we just un-freeze her?" Twilight had yelled.

"I am sorry, Twilight. Our magic will take some time to recover from your fight with Tirek. If there was another way, I would gladly free Garotte from her imprisonment. Until then, you must help those ponies whose lives have been upended in uncertainty by her actions." Celestia replied.

"But she helped us defeat Tirek! Without her, he would've taken over all of Equestria!"

"I understand that, Twilight. However, she is also the reason for Tirek's return in the first place. I know your feelings on the issue, but I am simply too weak to do anything except my royal duties at the moment. When I have enough power, I will inform you immediately."

Three years.

It took Celestia, Luna, Nightmare Moon, Discord and Chrysalis exactly three year's time to regain their former power. Queen Aze was still trapped in amethyst, unable to break free. Love can be freely given, but true friendship is a much harder commodity to bottle. It requires personal knowledge of the being, acceptance of their quirks and flaws, and understanding of whom they are. Love, on the other hoof, can be freely given to all who ask, even unconditionally.

Harmony, as it turns out, is priceless.

The Elements of Harmony were soon needed to combat an overgrowth of the Everfree Forest; seeking to reclaim ground it had lost to Ponyville. With the town's destruction, it was free to simply spread black thorned vines through the debris and reclaim the area. Twilight had taken her friends deep into the forest to discover what had caused the directed growth, and found the Tree of Harmony. A large, crystalline tree (of course) that grew in a secluded cave beneath the ancient Castle of the Two Sisters. They had returned the Elements, and the Tree was empowered enough to contain the Everfree Forest once again. With their state of being sealed away, Twilight was unable to use them to undo the imprisonment of Garotte, further frustrating her.

She hadn't Pinkie Promised to free Garotte, but it was made all the worse for her because it wasn't a Pinkie Promise. There was a kind of security in knowing that as soon as somebeing made a Promise of that caliber, that they were obliged to go through with it. For Twilight, her inability to make good on her promise seemed a more personal kind of betrayal on her part, towards Garotte. She had trusted Twilight enough to give up everything that made her, her.

Certainly, she hadn't expected it would take so long to free her, and Twilight could only hope that Garotte wasn't awake in that stone prison for all this time.

In the years following the destruction of Cloudsdale and Canterlot, a great many changes had occurred. Firstly, with the containment of the Everfree Forest and the banishment of Tirek, Princess Celestia had worked out a compromise with the remaining 'evils' of the world. For Nightmare Moon, It would be her duty to watch over the Everfree Forest, and prevent it from further troubling the ponies of Equestria. She was given the old Castle of the Two Sisters as her personal palace, and she had requested Thestral servants to accompany her. They may not have been warriors, but the Nightmare was known to be quite loud during the night, (And not for that reason,) and only the Thestrals could keep up with her volume. She was also an excellent drinker.

For Discord, he was given free reign over the Badlands, excepting anybeing that didn't want to join in his crazyness. To his surprise, there were quite a few ponies and beings otherwise that wanted to not only follow him and watch his antics, but they worshipped him. He was amused by the fact that his two most devout of followers were named 'Screwball' and 'Screwloose'. He guessed everypony had to be good at something, so why wouldn't he get the crazy ponies of Equestria?

Queen Chrysalis was simple to free from her namesake, as all it took was a visit from Princess Cadance. She had grown accustomed to changelings after her interactions with Queen Aze, and now found most changelings to be downright adorable. The changelings of Chrysalis' hive didn't mind in the slightest, after they had been drawn like moths to flame from the sheer beacon of love that the Princess radiated for them. Even with this fount of magic, Princess Cadance had her limits, and was quickly emotionally spent after reviving Chrysalis. To Celestia's surprise, Chrysalis didn't take advantage of Cadance's weakened state, and actually helped nurse her back into good spirits. She had asked Cadance later for the reasoning behind the Queen's actions, and she replied, "Chrysalis thought that having the 'Death of the Love Goddess' would be horrible in more ways than simply starving her hive. Besides, she doesn't like having debts, especially to a pony." The following smirk had confused Celestia, but she left the matter alone.

The main problem that had escaped everybeing's attention, however, was the great orange magical fire that had been sweeping across the White Tail Woods. Thankfully, Queen Aze had ordered the evacuation of the hive before she was turned to gemstone. Unfortunately, her hive had swarmed Manehattan without any disguise, and promptly freaked out the entire city's populace. With some impromptu fast talking and a few musical numbers about Friendship and Tolerance from Princess Sparkle, the city grew to accept the hive, seeing as how they didn't even want to be paid for any services rendered beyond simple friendship. They still took money, however, as the labor laws of the country demanded it, though the entire hive donated everything they made to various charities, and eventually started their own, named "Food for Friendship." The idea being, that anypony or being otherwise could go into one of these free buffets, and eat whatever they wanted, so long as they made friends with ponies or changelings working there. There was quite a bit of suspicion in the beginning, but eventually the lack of abductions and otherwise evil actions allowed the ponies to loosen up, and accept their odd but endearing neighbors.

Queen Aze herself was still imprisoned in stasis, and was made the centerpiece in a new 'Exhibit of Evil' in the rebuilt Canterlot Royal Museum." The reasoning for her being there, was that she had created King Aether, previously Overlord Aether, as well as bringing about the reformation of ideals as to what good and evil really meant. If anything, the destruction of Cloudsdale and Canterlot had made ponies even more accepting and tolerant of others. After all, it was revealed that the ponies that were a part of the Forces of Evil, were simply the downtrodden, forgotten and discarded citizens of Equestria. It was not their fault that they jumped at the first opportunity given to them for betterment, and infact they were helped greatly by their participation in the Forces of Evil. King Aether had seen to it that everybeing in his employ was well educated, fed, housed and paid, giving those beings the best they had seen in life. The Exhibit was quick to point out that there is a stark contrast between choice, and true evil. True Evil, was defined as 'Actions taken without consideration to others. For example, causing strife or misery for the sake of it, is True Evil. Robbing a bank for the bits to feed one's family is desperation, not evil. Robbing a bank simply to terrify others and cause mayhem, is evil. Hurting others for the reason of self gratification, is Evil. In short, don't be a C***'

Actual wording.

King Aether and his two daughters, Queens Song and Viscera, remained the Overlords of the Citadel of 'Evil'. Their role in events had been explained to the public with great controversy, but all argument soon died down with Discord and Nightmare Moon soon benefiting Equestria as a whole shortly after the announcement ceremony. The neighsayers were drowned out in the praise of Celestia, Luna and Twilight Sparkle for their efforts in turning the greatest evils of the land towards self betterment. King Aether, now a Unicorn and a mortal, was actually pleased with his new role in life. He taught a great deal of students in the lessons of the most basic of Alchemy in his University of Evil, including how to turn sand into grains of rice. He would not teach anything that could be used for actual evil, (unless somepony was actually intending to turn all of Saddle Arabia into a gargantuan Sushi roll,) and his daughters had formed their hives towards two singular purposes. Protection, in Viscera's case, and Artistry, in Song's. Viscera's hive was the main force of protection for the City of Evil, which accepted all beings equally and freely, so long as they obeyed the rules of the land. For Song's hive, her changelings were known to appear in the most random of places doing anything from painting 'happy little clouds' next to 'happy little trees', to full on musical numbers on top of mountains in order to trigger avalanches when ponies were at a safe distance.

Applejack had lead the reconstruction efforts of Ponyville after the Everfree Forest had been contained, and with financial assistance from Queen Aze's hive, the ponies were able to 'Raise this Town' in the span of twenty-two minutes. Several ponies had actually passed out from physical exhaustion, but they were quickly nursed back to health. Musical numbers, when combined with ponies, are able to move mountains and sink oceans. The farmer pony had even replanted her entire orchard, even though she had no financial need for it. It simply 'sat right' with her, having something to do every day and look forward to, as well as provide a solid foundation she could always rely on when things became too crazy for her.

Fluttershy had re-purposed her old cottage into a large animal and pony hospital, closer to Ponyville. The traffic from ponies had first caused her a great deal of anxiety, but she slowly became accustomed to the joy of being able to help other ponies as well as their pets. It also warmed her heart when Angel Bunny took up a doctorate in physiology and psychology.

Rarity and her sister Sweetie Belle opened another boutique, now including new fashion lines for the Changelings of various hives that were frequent customers. Now and again, a changeling from Aze's hive would give her suspicious looks when any amethyst was used with her creations, but she assured them that it wasn't from their hive. She even made trade agreements with a few dens of Diamond Dogs for gem shipments from their homes, in exchange for food and fashion.

Rainbow Dash had assisted with the reconstruction of Cloudsdale, being instrumental in the wrangling of enough clouds to re-create the city. The city itself was given heightened security as well, given how easily it was overtaken the last time. Additional safety measures were employed with the structures and material used to create the city, and the Weather Factory was also given a high security detail. This made the weather arrive a little later than usual for awhile, but schedules were soon arranged that everything had gotten back on track within several month's time. For her role, Rainbow Dash was promoted to an honorary Wonderbolt; being the only pony to not only wrangle 20% more clouds than anypony else, and for doing it with great enthusiasm, and for pushing other ponies to work harder. She had even raised the spirits of those in Cloudsdale by providing funding for playgrounds and flight courses for growing pegasus. (Queen Aze had given all of the Six Heroes a million bits, and what the hay was she going to do with all that money?)

Pinkie Pie had opened another SugarCube corner, owned by her. The Cakes were happy to work with her again, as they could not afford to make another bakery from what funds they had. The bonus to this, is that the Cake's home was larger than it was previously, with room for their two foals as well. Pinkie Pie had been the one pony to visit Garotte the most out of the others, and any onlookers could swear she became a different pony when she spotted the statue. Her hair would instantly deflate on sight, and she would spend anywhere from ten minutes to hours on end, simply speaking to the imprisoned Garotte. Nopony had thought it a good idea to intrude on her privacy, so what she had said was largely unknown to any. It was observed that tears were involved more than once, however.

Princess Twilight Sparkle, as she was now an Alicorn, had taken to her duties with a zeal matched only by her obsessive need to learn. Her role was two fold. The Princess of Friendship and Harmony. She had a good understanding of what both meant, having wielded powers unseen before in Equestria in order to defeat Tirek. She sincerely hoped that their like would never be seen or used again. Using those powers had not come without cost, even if temporary. The different personalities of the magic she had wielded had seeped into her own for several months, and it was during that time that she had realized she had brutalized Tirek, when she had only meant to stop him. She had blamed the evil magics she had absorbed, before realizing what that said about herself. She was quick to blame the magic of Discord, or Chrysalis, or Nightmare Moon and Aether... but who were those beings when somepony cared to look? Discord was a prankster with near ultimate power; Nightmare Moon was a protector of all she held dear, even to dramatic cost; Aether was always simply a pawn, and ultimately bettered Equestria as a whole for his efforts. Even Chrysalis, when she had gotten to know the changeling Queen, was simply a lovebug at heart. She wasn't nice or coddling, certainly, but she gave a kind of tough love to both those she knew, and her own changelings. She had grown accustomed to the harshness of the Badlands, and knew only hardship for her life leading up to her assistance in Canterlot. Twilight couldn't bring herself to hold the initial invasion against Chrysalis when she had explained that all of her children were starving, and in her own deprived state, it was all she could think of to get the love they needed immediately. Negotiations would've seen her hive starved before any meaningful progress could be done, and Twilight was inclined to agree, as it took Queen Aze nearly a full month to even get a cease-fire peace treaty organized for a following three months.

Princess Luna had put forth the effort into reorganizing and retraining the Royal and Lunar guards, after their display in fighting the hives of Queens Song and Viscera. She was determined to provide Equestria with a means to defend itself that didn't rely on Alicorns or magical artifacts, and if ponies were certain that even the average amongst them could rise to the defense of others, that it would help diffuse crisis before they could begin.

Princess Celestia had taken it upon herself to organize the reconstruction of Canterlot. The crystal mines beneath the city were more than enough to fund the ordeal, and she had spent additional effort in fortifying the structures that were raised. In the fighting, she was more than thankful that the city's support columns hadn't collapsed from the sheer size of Tirek, let alone the magic being hurled around. Further to her efforts, she also created a heroic display for Garotte. Her statue was placed in the replanted Royal Gardens, minus the hedge maze this time. She didn't want any more antics of Discord playing around in her back yard again.

Thinking on all of this, sitting in her own crystalline castle on the outskirts of Ponyville with her friends, Twilight had been resting her chin on a hoof. The six of them were all sitting around the large holographic table known to them as the 'Cutie-Map', and they had been discussing adventures amongst themselves when something different happened. All six of their cutie marks hovered over Canterlot, with a loop around them.

A loop of piano wire.

"Uh, Twilight?" Applejack asked, drawing Twilight from her thoughts.

"Huh, yes? I'm awake!"

Applejack pointed to the flashing cutie-map. "Ya think this means what I think it means?"

Leaning closer to get a good look, Twilight's heart nearly jumped. "I sure hope so!"

Pinkie Pie had been speaking with Fluttershy about a new recipe involving macadamia and peppermint, when her eyes were drawn by all the excitement. She then noticed the loop of wire around all of their Cutie-marks, and her eyes became wide as dinner plates with unbound joy.

"WE'RE GONNA GO SAVE GAROTTE!" She screamed, rocketing out of the castle's roof in excitement with an exhaust trail of sprinkles towards Canterlot.

"Is anypony else gonna ask where the-" Rainbow began.

"NO!" The other four shouted. Well, Fluttershy politely replied; the other three did in fact, shout.

"Fine, I'll leave it alone." Rainbow grumbled.


By the time the five had caught up with Pinkie Pie, the party pony was pushing a final saddlebag towards a mountain of similarly decorated pink bags with her cutiemark on them. She had been at this for quite a while, as she was sweating heavily.

"Pinkie Pie? What're you doin'?" Applejack asked, concern for her mental well being being at the forefront of her thoughts.

"Getting ready!"

"Uh," Applejack replied, taking in a different sort of input that make her sick. "Are those bags filled with meat?" She asked through covered mouth.

"Yepperooni!" Pinkie affirmed, reaching into one of the bags with her hoof and pulling out a tray of cooked meat. "She's gonna be super hungry after not eating for three years!"

Fluttershy's face paled at that, and Twlight spoke up. "Wait, you mean that she's been starving for three years!?"

"Pssh, no, silly!" Pinkie waved dismissively. "But I'm pretty sure she didn't level two cities on a full stomach!"

Technically it was Tirek that did that... but... Fluttershy would've commented, if she wasn't distracted by the Statue of Garotte Wire.

She was still in a respectful bowing pose, but her expression was a lifelike representation of her emotions at the moment of her entombment. Regret, sorrow, hope and nervousness. Fluttershy earnestly hoped that Garotte had simply slept the last three years, and that she hadn't been forced to live alone with herself in stone for that time. Every detail on Garotte was preserved as if it was a masterpiece of craftsponyship. Pinkie Pie avoided looking at Garotte directly, and had been piling up bags all around her.

"So... how do we do this?" Rainbow asked, hovering above her friends with nervous energy.

"Shouldn't we take the time to consider what her reaction is going to be? We'll have to tell her she has been trapped for three years." Rarity pointed out.

"That's what the bags are for!" Pinkie replied cheerfully, though still casting quick glances of worry at the statue behind her. There were several birds and other animals in attendance in the gardens, supposedly sensing that Garotte was about to be freed.

"An' if she don't react too well?" Applejack asked.

"Well, we're only ever going to find out if we release her. If we figure out how, that is." Twilight replied

The friends had stood around, looking to Garotte's statue in thought for a moment before they could hear hoof falls approaching. Twilight turned around to see Princess Celestia and King Aether.

"You've come!" Aether said with pleasant smile. "I had figured something would attract you here." He then noticed the mountains of bags. "Eh... What is the purpose of the bags?" He asked respectfully with a raised eyebrow. He had been living with a higher 'class' of pony for at least two years, and had taken up more of their mannerisms from so much exposure to the pompous elite. However, their snobbishness had refused to rub off on him, and he remained kind and pure of heart as much as anypony could tell. He now wore a black suit with blue shirt, and a white tie.

"King Aether? What are you doing here?" Rainbow asked with a minimum of politeness.

"I," Aether stated while pointing to himself with a hoof, "am here to return Garotte to the land of the moving, with help from Princesses Celestia and Twilight Sparkle."

"Oh." Rainbow replied, a bit ashamed.

"It's alright, dear. We were enemies for a brief time, and we haven't spoken since. I don't hold your suspicions against you."

Now Rainbow felt even worse for accusing him indirectly of being up to no good. He's practically a saint!

"Now then... the bags?" He asked, pointing to the mound of Pinkie's saddlebags.

"It's a surprise for Garotte, incase she's angry." Pinkie explained. She had appeared between Celestia and Aether, startling him.

"Ah! The Pink One! I had not expected you to be here, for some reason."

"I get that alot." Pinkie sweetly replied.

Celestia then spoke. "King Aether; you are certain this will work? We still must figure out a plan of action for Queen Aze. Her children cannot survive forever without her, and it is fortunate beyond words that they have not... vanished, in her absence."

"Absolutely certain, Princess Celestia. I have tested this particular brew with a college of mine, and we gave life to a golem."

"A golem?"

"Yes. The golem had no previous experience with being flesh and blood, and soon went berserk, but that was only the first test."

Everypony was now very worried. "And... you've perfected this brew since?" Celestia asked.

"Oh yes!" Aether nodded vigorously. This eased their concerns before he spoke again. "This will be the second test!"

Everypony except Aether then hacehoofed.

"I think Queen Aze was right. It must be some sort of neurological disorder..."

"Can we just bring back Garotte now?" Applejack asked with a pained groan, setting her hoof back on the grass.

"Right! It's time for Magic and Alchemy to bring back the least powerful yet most threatening villain of Equestria!" Aether declared with enthusiasm, preparing the bottle of various mixtures with his magic.

"Wait, what do you mean by that?" Twilight asked.

Aether stopped his examination of the potion, and looked to Twilight with a concerned stare. "You mean you didn't notice that she conjured an army in the span of a day and nearly leveled two cities, by coercing a demon from Tartarus to bind itself to her will, framed Celestia for robbery and then subsequently had all of Equestria's greatest villains, minus Sombra, returned from their banishment for the sake of a mock trial? All without barely any more magic that levitation and a great big hug?"

"Well... when you put it like that..." Fluttershy replied quietly.

"No! We're not going to abandon Garotte in stone forever just because she made a mistake." Twilight affirmed.

"We remember somepony that did something similar to us not too long ago." A surprise visit from Luna and Nightmare Moon announced. "And you didn't even send us a post card!" Nightmare added. "Do you know how boring it is to talk to the same pony for a thousand years straight? Honestly, we could've talked about what the card was made from for at least a decade, naming all the different cracks in the thing before it turned to dust."

"Somepony's still bitter!" The disembodied voice of Discord chuckled from nowhere.

"Jeeze, did everybeing get an invitation?" Aether asked nobeing in particular.

"Enough. Let's get this ceremony over with. Luna and I still have some catching up to do." Nightmare grumbled.

This earned a few curious looks and eyebrow wiggling from the other ponies gathered, and Luna then blushed.

"Oh, shut up!" Nightmare barked. "It isn't like that!"

Pinkie chuckled. She knew.

"Right, the ceremony." Aether commented, seeking to distract those gathered from any of that discussion. He then levitated the completed potion in the air next to him, and paused. "Actually. How do we do this? Wasn't her magic drained before she was placed in stone?"

"Yes, and I still don't know how to bring hers back. We tried with Celestia and Luna earlier, but nothing happened. I don't know if it was something we did wrong, or..." Twilight doubted.

"Have ya tried a big hug?" Applejack asked sarcastically. A bird had perched itself on her stetson, and was annoying her.

Aether and Twilight were about to explain why that wouldn't work, before they shared a look for a moment and shrugged.

"Might work." Aether said dismissively.

"Probably won't, but still worth a try." Twilight agreed.

The group then shared awkward looks, some of them imagining Nightmare Moon and Celestia in the group of a big hug for Garotte's statue.

"And we're not trying the potion, why?" Rainbow asked. Group hugs with villains was decidedly less cool than with friends only.

"Because she might turn into a raging monster?" Fluttershy pointed out.

"Oh, right."

"Alright, everybeing! Group hug!" Pinkie announced in a tone that brooked no argument.


Garotte was very very cold, and sore. She could also feel that her imprisonment in stone was ending alot sooner than she had thought it would take. It felt like she had been frozen only a few seconds before her horn began to feel a soft breeze.

Oh no! What if it didn't work? She worried. She was still frozen, but the stone was rapidly fading away from her mane now, and going down her forehead.

Now I just have to wait for it to get past my eyes, and I can get a good look at how much trouble I'm in. She sourly thought.

It soon passed not only her eyes, but her mouth as well. Then she was blinded when attempting to take a look at her surroundings.

"Aaaugh!" she cried. She had tried to move her hoof to block her eyes from the sun, but they were still frozen in stone.

"Garotte, are you okay?!" Twilight asked, greatly worried.

"Twilight? Did we win?" Garotte asked, opting to keep her eyes shut and just wait for the stone to melt away. She also felt very warm, and hoped that it was just an after affect.

"Yep! We won alright!" The Pink One cheered next to Garotte's ear.

Oh no, the Pink One survived! She's going to kill me! Garotte panicked.

"Wait! Before you kill me, I did everything I could to be evil! Honest!" Garotte begged. "I didn't break my promise until there was no other way out for anybeing, I swear!"

She then felt a hoof on her mouth, and risked a look. She saw a very sad Pinkie Pie smiling softly at her. "I know, Garotte. I'm sorry."

This confused Garotte greatly. "Bu- What? Didn't you-" Garotte tried to say, before Pinkie's hoof was shoved into her mouth.

"I'm sorry!" Pinkie repeated. "You're freed from your promise to me!"

Garotte's limbs were now beginning to be freed, and she looked around to notice that she was in the middle of a very large group hug. "Um... Pink One?" she mumbled, the hoof still in her mouth. "Can I ask something?"

"Oh!" Pinkie exclaimed, retracting her hoof. "My bad!"

Garotte stuck out her tongue; Pinkie's hoof tasted like fresh bread and cookie dough. Also dirt. From walking. Wiping her tongue of the foul tasting intrusions, Garotte attempted to stand on her hooves and promptly melted into a mess of exhaustion.

"Auuuu..." She whined. "Moving hurts..." Garotte twitched on the grassy ground. "Can I just lay here for awhile? You can throw me in prison later..." She nuzzled the grass, happy to at least have a moment of peace.

Garotte was then growing suspicious when nopony or being said anything, and was barely able to flip her body to get a good look at those that had gathered around.

The six main heroes, Princesses Celestia and Luna, Overlord Aether, Nightmare Moon, and a Balloon that reminded her of Discord. She also noticed they were all giving her different looks. Most of them were guilty, but Nightmare Moon seemed bored. Discord was simply amused at everybeing else's reactions.

"Okay, what's wrong? Did somepony die?" Garotte asked. "You weren't expecting me to die, were you?" she managed to raise an eyebrow.

"No!" Twilight blurted out. "It's not that... it's just..."

Garotte had been squinting suspiciously at Twilight, before she noticed something else. "Hey... wasn't Canterlot in ruins a moment ago?"

"Eheh... Well, you see..." Twilight nervously bumbled.

Applejack then walked to Garotte, and placed a hoof on her side gingerly. With a horrible 'reassuring' smile, she said, "Listen, sugarcube. It wasn't a few moments ago... It was three years ago."

Applejack was then unnerved by the blank stare she received from Garotte, and further made uncomfortable by the fact that the 'Villain' made no movements whatsoever.

"Uh, are you okay?" Applejack asked with worry.

"Did..." Garotte began, "Did you just..."

"Uh oh. I think I broke 'er." Applejack cringed, quickly backpedaling.

"DID YOU JUST CALL ME 'SUGARCUBE?!'" Garotte squee'd, gaining a second wind and pouncing atop of Applejack, causing the both of them to roll into and through a nearby sculpted bush of a Hippo. With a yelp from Applejack, the two vanished from sight, and caused the others to do a set of things separate to each of them.

Twilight, Celestia and Luna all teleported to the opposite side of the bush. Fluttershy was surprised by the sudden loudness and shrank to the ground. Rarity was in shock, and Pinkie Pie was looking at her mountain of gifts with renewed purpose. Nightmare Moon was laughing her flank off with Discord, and Rainbow Dash had flown into the air for a better look, before laughing as well.

"Help! She's chokin' me!" Applejack cried.

Twilight, when she had poofed to the other side of the bush, heard Applejack's plea and began to join in the laughter. "Applejack, shes -pfft- She's not choking you, she's hugging you!"

"Group hug!" Pinkie Pie declared, shoving Fluttershy through the grass against her will to gallop away.

"You sure about that?" Garotte asked, still with Applejack in her clutches.

"Yep!" Pinkie chirped, tackling the two mares already in the grass.

Nightmare Moon and Discord-Balloon both shared a look. "I think i'm going to need to visit a doctor after this." Discord commented.


Garotte had been a bit taken aback by the actual amount of time she had been gone, but was otherwise unaffected by it. She had nopony that would've cared enough to miss her absence, and she had only herself to look after. She was more excited that not only was she not going to be executed or imprisoned, but that she was going to get a chance at a 'not evil' job for a change, with the help of Princess Sparkle. If only she had been told what that job was.

"Where are we going, Twilight?" Garotte asked. The two of them were walking slowly through the streets of New Ponyville, towards a shop that looked eerily like a folded towel with steam coming from the top.

"Don't worry about it, Garotte. It's a surprise!" Twilight answered with cheerful lack of detail.

She must get that from Celestia. Garotte commented internally.

The two came up to a swinging glass door with hours of operation as well as different specials.

"What's this one?" Garotte asked, pointing to a pony with a towel wrapped around their mane.

"Oh! That's a hair Highlight."

Garrote's face scrunched. She liked her hair the way it was, and the messier the better. She had seen how the pompous rich had acted, and no matter how much she acquired, she was never going to look like them. "Thanks, But I think I'll pass."

"I didn't bring you here for the treatment, Garotte." Twilight patiently smiled.

"Oh?" Garotte asked with renewed interest, her ears folding upwards for once in surprise.

"I brought you here for a job!"

Garotte blinked a few times, looking between herself and the Spa.

"You're serious?" She asked quickly in disbelief.


"Serious, serious? Like, this isn't some joke?" Garotte asked suspiciously.

"Nope! Your manager should even be meeting us inside!"

Garotte made a frown that was a mixture of uncertainty, uncomfortableness, nervousness and worry. "You know what happens when I let ponies get too close, right? They file lawsuits?"

"Trust me, I don't think you'll be hurting him." Twilight winked.

The door opened behind Garotte, but she was too busy thinking of a sarcastic reply to Twilight's lack of detail when she was nearly floored by the volume of the stallion that had snuck up on her.


Garotte's mane had decided to go for a more horizontal look today, and was facing directly level and behind her head, tail included. Her face was an uncomfortable grimace combined with a polite smile, that turned into a rictus grin.

"great!" She squeaked.



After Garotte had recovered from the volume, she joined the Masseur pony inside of the Spa in a back storage room of hot towels.

"NOW, I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHY WE SHOULD HIRE YOU!" He yelled, the volume amplified by the close quarters and lack of room from the very loud and absurdly muscular stallion.

"I'm... good at hugging?" Garotte offered, and Twilight facehoofed. She had joined in for the Interview, and was simply observing.


Twilight's eyes went wide, and Garotte grinned evilly. "You bet'cha I can!" She answered, giving a mad cackle before pouncing on the stallion three times her size and wrapping her hooves around his bulging neck and squeezing tightly.

Bulk's eyes bulging both from his muscles tightening reflexively and from the pressure, he rapidly felt all resistance in his body melting away. "YEEAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaahh..." He declared in approval before slumping to the floor, asleep.

Prying herself free of the mass of muscle, Garotte smiled sheepishly to Twilight. "Do you think I over-did it?"

"I think you did great, Garotte. The whole point of a spa is to relax, and I don't think I've ever seen Bulk Biceps be quiet for even a second."

"So I've got a shot?" Garotte asked hopefully.

"Even if you don't, I'll always be there for you, Garotte. So will my friends, the Princesses, and everybeing else." Twilight smiled, giving Garotte a hug, and this was returned by a very careful hug from The Hugmistress.


Queen Aze, meanwhile, was still frozen in amethyst.


"Do you think they bought it?" Queen Aze whispered into the dark.

" I don't think we can fool them, Aze'y." The Pink One replied.

"Why is that?"

"Written Medium."


** The Ambassador of Evil **

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Thank you for reading!