by Huk

First published

After returning from a trip, Pinkie notices that her friends are behaving strangely around her...

Pinkie got back from the Crystal Empire, and it was business as usual until she noticed strange things happening around her. Is she the target of a conspiracy... or is it just her imagination?

Pinkie vector from:
Proofread by: Koekelbag

Chapter 1 - Status Quo Ante

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Lying on the cold, palace floor - she looked so peaceful, almost as if she was sleeping. Embracing her body, they let a torrent of tears to soak through their furs, as reality set in. She was gone. “We will never forget you…” they thought in unison, mourning for the lost friend.

Canterlot - 36 hours earlier

It was almost five o'clock, and the city of Canterlot was starting to slow down for the night - while the worst of the rush hour had passed already, the train station was still crowded with ponies and other creatures trying to get back home. Inside the mob was Pinkie Pie - nervously glancing left and right, trying to keep as low as possible.

Every so often, with heart in her mouth - she would poke her head out of the crowd to look at the station clock - trying to do something, anything to speed up the time. Finally, after yet another quick peek - a nervous smile appeared on her face when she heard the train arriving with a loud screech. “All aboard for the trip to the Crystal Empire!” shouted the conductor pony, and almost simultaneously the mob of passengers rushed forward like a tidal wave.

Pinkie was boarding when suddenly, her heart sank again - in the distance she saw a bunch of royal guards, carefully scanning the crowd. She hastily jerked her head away from the sight and lowered her posture - hoping it would be enough to avoid detection.

With her heart pounding and her body shaking, she slowly approached her destination - but so did the guards, and it was becoming evident that her cover would soon be blown, yet there was no turning back now. When she was about to be discovered - by a stroke of luck, another train entered the station, momentarily blocking guards line of sight - a second later she boarded the wagon with a bounce, and quickly ran inside.

The next few minutes were a blur, with sound and images jumbled together - Pinkie regained her composure only after her eyes saw one of the waterfalls surrounding Canterlot. “Phew, finally out of the city… that was a close call,” she said to herself while pulling a diary out of her saddlebag.

Outside the train window, mountains and green forests were painted with gold and crimson by the setting sun - such a beautiful sight was usually enough to ease Pinkie’s nerves after hard days, but not this time, not after what happened.

“Ehh… how did it come to this Mr. diary...” Pinkie asked herself with watery eyes, but there was no obvious answer. Swallowing hard, she took her journal and started to write.

“Last few days were weird, to say the least - oh, and I don’t mean weird like when I used the pond to clone myself, or when Twilight was trying to analyze my ‘pinkie sense’ - I mean super-duper weird! Like when Discord turned Ponyville upside down or when changelings attacked Canterlot. I need to write down everything I know - because my Pinkie Sense tells me ‘they’ will be coming,” she sighed heavily - looking for words, “I wish I knew exactly who ‘they’ are - my bits are on changelings again, but I’m not ‘Okie-dokie-lokie’ sure, you know? Anyway, I guess it started a few days ago when I returned from the trip to Crystal Empire…”

Ponyville - a few days earlier

Inside Ponyville’s train station, Pinkie’s friends were awaiting her arrival - it has been a few days since she departed to compete in the dessert festival organized by the Crystal Empire - and they haven’t heard from her since. Their small talk was suddenly interrupted when a blue blur landed nearby with a loud thud. “Well, nice of you to… drop by Rainbow Dash,” Rarity said with a hint of sarcasm, “we were starting to think you got lost or something…”

Rainbow chuckled nervously, eyeing her surroundings for some excuse, “S-sorry guys but, uh... I was so busy…” suddenly she had a eureka moment, “keeping the sky clear! I completely lost track of time, heh heh…”

“Right...” Twilight frowned and quickly glanced up - while it wasn’t an overcast, a lot of clouds were still present - it was anything but the cloudiest day. “By that, I assume your nap took longer than usual, again?”

Glancing down at the ground, Rainbow furrowed her brow a little. “Guilty as charged, but I-”

Their conversation was interrupted as everyone covered their ears and painfully gritted their teeth - reacting to the loud screeching noise coming from the train. Soon the sound stopped, and a crowd of ponies flooded the station - chatting and greeting their relatives. As minutes passed the train was getting more and more empty, yet Pinkie was nowhere to be seen.

“Twilight, you sure this is the correct train, darling?” Rarity asked with a confused voice.

“I’m positive… perhaps something-”

Twilight was interrupted by the loud 'bam' followed by a suffocating puff of smoke and some confetti. “Hellloo girls!” Pinkie shouted with a smile.

"*cough* Pinkie wh..at was *cough* that?" Twilight asked, gasping for air.

"Aww, that was my new 'confetti-bomb'! In case I'm not able to take my party cannon with me, I want to use these as a backup."

Rainbow interjected with a frown, "Seems to be making more smoke than confetti."

"It's a work in progress," Pinkie said, hopping off the train.

“Um… you seem happy, does that mean it went well?” Fluttershy asked.

Pinkie stopped jumping around and glanced at the group with a stony face. “No, it didn’t go well…" the girls gasped in surprise and were about to comfort their friend when suddenly Pinkie bounced with a grin. "It went FUN-BUCKING-TASTIC! Ta-da!” she presented them a golden cup, with following engravings on it: ‘For the winner of Crystal Dessert Competition - Pinkamena Diane Pie.’

Immediately, Rainbow took to the air and made a loop above the group. “Awsome! You showed those crystal ponies who is the boss!”

“Thanks, Dashie, but honestly I was hoping for more of a challenge - I entered the stage with my super-duper spectacular secret recipe cake and know what I saw? Blueberry Tarts, Peanut Butter Cup Brownies and other ‘common’ desserts! I mean, duh, bo-ring! After that - I knew this was gonna be easy peasy!”

“Well, we are just glad you enjoyed yourself,” Fluttershy added with a gentle smile.

“Yes, indeedy! I was even able to spend some time in Canterlot on my trip back home-”

“Oh, did you saw the construction site by chance?!” Twilight said, shaking with excitement.

“Yup! By the looks of it, that tower of yours will be done super duper fast!”

Pinkie and Twilight got weird stares from the rest of their friends. “Hold on a second,” Rainbow rubbed her chin, “Celestia is adding a new tower to the Canterlot Palace - just for you? Awsome!”

Twilight’s chuckled nervously, “No no, it’s not for me… well not JUST for me - Celestia meant to add that tower for years… my coronation finally gave her the excuse-”

“Oh, come on darling - you are a princess now!” Rarity interrupted, nudging her gently. “It’s about time if you ask me - like it or not, but every princess should have her private quarters in Canterlot.”

Twilight blushed a little; she knew Rarity was right - the custom was that each princess had her private chambers in the Capitol - even if they were to be rarely used. Cadance probably hasn’t visited hers since she became the ruler of Crystal Empire - but it was available if needed. Still, Twilight was worried how the ‘nobility’ will react - most of them weren’t very fond of her… (come to think of it - they weren’t very fond of Luna either, but she at least scared them enough to leave her alone - Twilight wasn’t so lucky.) “I’m just glad I will finally be able to stash some of my private stuff somewhere - carrying all this luggage every time I visit Canterlot is a pain.”

“You know what this calls for?!” Pinkie shouted with a grin while bouncing around. “A great big ginormous ‘Twilight will get her own tower!’ super-duper party!”

The group gave her a little-surprised stare. “Ah don’t know Pinkie,” Applejack interjected, “you just arrived - aren’t ya tired?”

“Oh silly! I don’t mean today,” Pinkie responded, still jumping around, “but when the tower is finished, I will throw Twilight a party she deserves! That’s a Pinkie Promise!”

The group sighed with relief - while everyone loved Pinkie’s parties, they all had their day planned at this point, and she wasn’t exactly someone you could easily turn down - unless you wanted to feel guilty for a few days.

“OK girls, I need to get going - the Cakes are probably super-duper excited to find out how it went - see ya!” the girls nodded in agreement and quickly parted their ways. Pinkie went (or rather bounced) directly to the Sugarcube Corner, where she presented the trophy to her employers. After quick congratulations, they proudly placed the golden cup on the counter and got back to work, since the bakery was swarming with customers. Even though this was officially her day off, Pinkie decided to help - she sat behind the counter while the Cakes redoubled their efforts to serve everyone in time.

Long after Luna had risen the moon, the last client finally went home. Pinkie lay in her bed, watching the beautiful sky and listening to the soothing sounds of crickets chirping - this was a good (even though exhausting) day. She turned off the light and peacefully went to sleep, not knowing that her life was about to change...

Chapter 2 - Sub Rosa

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Train to the Crystal Empire - current time

*sigh* That was the last night I slept with a peaceful mind…” Pinkie’s face saddened, and her mane deflated slightly - she was almost in her ‘Saddie Pie’ state now. “Oh, what I would give for all this to only be a nightmare...” suddenly her eyes went wide as it hit her, “wait, perhaps it is! Let me try something!”

With that, Pinkie put her notepad away for a moment and tried different techniques to wake herself up - unfortunately pinching didn’t work, and pounding her head against the wall only brought the surprised looks of fellow passengers. After letting an audible sigh of disappointment, she picked up her journal and started to write again. “Nope - this is not a dream Mr. diary; unfortunately, this is super-duper real… I guess I better get back to writing down the story… where was I? Ah yes, the next day…”

Ponyville - a few days earlier

Pinkie woke up in her comfy bed after a peaceful night, and at the moment it was business as usual. She quickly took her morning bath, went down to light the stoves and then started to prepare the dough. Cakes were usually up, about two hours later - that was their deal, Pinkie was responsible for the morning batch of baked goods, and early ‘rush hour’ - while they would take over during the good part of the day, giving Pinkie the opportunity to get out for a while. The arrangement was working pretty well for all of them - especially after Pound and Pumpkin were born.

It was about 9 AM when Mrs. Cake was ready to relieve her. “Thank you, dearie - I will take over from here,” she said with a gentle smile and quickly stood behind the counter. “Pinkie, there is something else I need you to do - have you seen the chocolate cakes in the back? Princess Twilight ordered those - would you be kind enough to deliver them to her castle?”

Pinkie’s eyes widened with excitement - she was more than eager to take a trip to her friend. “Okie-dokie! You can count on me!” with that, she quickly packed the cakes to the delivery cart and went towards Twilight’s home.


At this hour, Ponyville was typically crowded with ponies doing their usual business, chatting or just relaxing outdoor - and this day was no different. When she was happily trotting through the market, however, one unusual thing caught her eye... “Hmm, Applejack didn’t open her stand yet? Odd… oh well, you gotta delivery to do Pinkie, remember? No more distractions!” she said to herself, made a solemn face and continued towards her destination. Some time later she arrived at Twilight’s castle.

She knocked on the door and waited a minute, but no one came. “Oh, silly me! I completely forgot - Spike has gone on vacation with the CMC… oh well, I guess Twilight won’t mind if I let myself in - she is probably busy studying.”

Pinkie opened the castle’s door and went inside, pulling the delivery cart with her. A few minutes later she unpacked the cargo in Twilight’s kitchen and was ready to leave when she heard a noise coming from the ‘map room’ - someone was definitely talking...

“-she said we must be sure, remember?!” Twilight was arguing with Applejack over something when Pinkie dashed into the room. “Hey, girls! Having party without me?!” she screamed with a smile, startling the five ponies sitting around the Cutie Map.

Suddenly, everyone was staring at her with wide eyes and the chamber went completely silent. “Um, guys I was just joking - is something wrong?”

After a moment, Twilight answered with a nervous chuckle. “No Pinkie, everything is fine… We just didn’t expect you here… today… at this time - don’t tell me you came to invite us to another party?”

“Nopey-dopey! I delivered the cakes you ordered, silly!” Pinkie responded happily, but her smile started to fade when she noticed that everypony was still looking at her with weird expressions in their eyes. “I tried to knock, but nobody came - so I let myself in… I’m super sorry if I upset you guys.”

“That’s OK, everything's fine... it’s just emm…” Twilight paused for a moment, nervously glancing at the rest of mane six. “Remember that time when we organized that surprise party for you? When we had to… avoid you the whole day? Well, you see...”

“Not another word! I understand where this is going - you guys are the best! Although…” she struck a thinking pose, “I don’t recall my birthday or anything coming up soon-”

“We can’t tell you the occasion - it is a surprise!” Rainbow Dash interrupted, with an enormous unnatural grin.

The last time Pinkie saw somepony smiling like that was when the Cutie Map sent them to the Starlight's Village, but perhaps Rainbow was just nervous. Pinkie grinned herself and started hopping around. “Uuu! Surprise parties are the best! I can’t wait!”

“We are glad you approve, darling - oh and by the way, could you drop by my boutique later today? I am working on a fabulous dress, and could use your help.”

“Okie-dokie-lokie! I’ll drop by after work!” Pinkie suddenly stopped bouncing as an alarmed expression filled her face. “Speaking of which - I need to get back to Sugarcube Corner, my shift is not over yet - see you guys later!”


Later that day, Pinkie visited Carousel Boutique - as promised. Rarity was indeed working on some new fancy dress (isn't she always?), and Pinkie was a ‘perfect model’ for it - at least that’s what Rarity said. In reality, the dress looked too big, and its color was contrasting with her fur - but perhaps that was the point… only Rarity knew. Soon they started talking to pass the time.

“Darling, do you remember when Big Mac was injured, and Applejack tried to harvest all those apples by herself?” Rarity asked while making some adjustments to the dress.

“Yes, indeedy! She was acting pretty strange back then - I guess exhaustion will do that.”

“Oh yes, it certainly will… the worst part was when she brought those apple pies she had cooked on the farm, and half of Ponyville landed in the hospital!”

“Oh, silly! Your memory must be playing tricks on you,” Pinkie responded, trying to keep as still as possible since Rarity now measured the dress on her, “it wasn't the apple pies, it was muffins! And AJ hadn't brought them from the farm - she helped me cook them at the Sugarcube Corner.”

“You certain about that darling? I could swear it were apple pies…”

“Aww... one hundred percent certain - I landed in the hospital myself that day, so I would know... Why did you mention that anyway?”

“Oh, no reason, just recalling some old times - after all, we have gone through a lot together haven't we?" Rarity smiled and using her magic gently took the dress of Pinkie. "That year when Twilight arrived was especially 'busy' wouldn't you say? First Nightmare Moon, then parasprite invasion, then that braggart Trixie... not to mention that bully Gilda! I never told you this - but I really appreciated all those pranks you set up for her at the party - it was hilarious!”

Pinkie tilted her head, and confused expression filled her face. “I didn’t prank Gilda - it was Rainbow Dash, remember?" she noticed some sweat on Rarity's forehead. "Are you feeling OK?”

Rarity wiped her hoof across her face and inhaled deeply. “To be honest darling - I am a bit tired… last week I had to work overtime to fill all my orders, again."

"I guess, that explains it - you really should get some rest," Pinkie said, her voice uncharacteristically serious.

"Perhaps you are right... I should just go and lie down for a while… I think we are done here anyway-”

Before she could finish, Pinkie hugged her tightly. “Aw... I hope you get better soon!”

An awkward silence filled the air - but only for a moment. “Em… thank you darling, I really appreciate it…” Rarity returned the hug, but there was something in her voice, that made Pinkie Sense tingle - but before she could say anything, Rarity added. “Oh and by the way - Rainbow Dash wanted me to tell you to meet her too if you have the time.”

Whatever was on Pinkie’s mind a moment ago was wiped clean in an instance, and a huge grin appeared on her face. “Okie-dokie-lokie! For Dashie, I’ll make the time! Thanks, Rarity!”

A second later Pinkie stormed out of the boutique, towards the location where Rainbow could be found at this time of the day.


“La-la-la-la-la-la-la,” Pinkie hummed, hopping through the center of Ponyville while looking up - today, the sky was cloudless - which made her job a lot easier. A few minutes later she found her target - a single cloud floating in the air… with a rainbow tail hanging from it. Dash was taking another of her day naps… again - to allow such prank chance go to waste would be a crime.

She approached quietly from below and took her megaphone (one of many stashed all over Ponyville - ‘just in case’), inhaled deeply - taking in as much air as her lungs could handle - and then... “STAMPEDE! Stampede, Rainbow! Get out of the way, get out of the way!”

“Whaa..?!” Rainbow fell from her cloud onto the ground below with a loud thud. She looked around nervously only to notice pink blur rolling on the ground, laughing. “Hey! Not funny Pinkie! I could get hurt from the fall you know!”

“Oh don’t be silly Dashie! I’ve seen you fall from much higher without any damage,” Pinkie bounced towards her grumpy friend, “you are just maddie because I tricked you!”

Rainbow glanced at the grinning Pinkie and gently smiled back - that was a good prank, even if she didn’t want to admit it. “OK, OK you got me there - I guess Rarity sent you here, huh?”

“Yup! So what can I do for you Dashie?”

“Well… as you know - Scootaloo’s birthday is coming up soon-”

Pinkie interrupted, tilting her head. “Um Dashie, Scoot’s birthday is in about two months - or 55 days 8 hours and 27 minutes, to be super-duper exact…”

“I know that! But for what I’m planning, we will need the time!”

For the next half an hour, Pinkie and Rainbow discussed the plan - Dashie’s idea was pretty original: she wanted to show Scootaloo the best adventures she and the rest of mane six had so far while saving Equestria. Pinkie liked that - it would require a lot of work of course, but it wouldn’t be a simple ‘party’ but rather a ‘paaartay’ - something the little filly would not forget for the rest of her life…

However, the more they talked about it, the more Pinkie noticed that Rainbow had a rather garbled memory of certain events - for example:

- She insisted that she didn’t do any tornado trick, during the parasprite invasion - even though Pinkie clearly remembered how she lost a brand new pair of cymbals when Dash pulled that stunt

- She also didn’t remember jousting with Fluttershy during Sombra crisis - insisting it was Applejack

- Neither the time when Gilda and Pinkie worked together to save her during their visit to Griffonstone

“Dashie, you sure you are feeling, all right? Don’t get me wrong but your memory seems teensy-weensy worse than usual…” Pinkie said with a hint of concern. “You didn't hit your head or something during one of your super-duper stunts, did you?”

Rainbow struck a thinking pose. “I don't recall... unless I crashed so hard that I don't even remember the crash itself, ha ha!" she laughed hard, but it sounded rather... artificial. "In reality, last few days were a little rough, and I could use some R&R... anyway, I think we are all set - this will be the party Scoot won’t soon forget!”

Pinkie nodded in agreement and started to walk back to Sugarcube Corner - but the fact that two of her friends had a garbled memory of certain events, was still on her mind. Rarity she could understand, after all, she was know to work her flank off every time she got one of those 'important orders' from Canterlot - but Dashie? She wasn't exactly known for being a hard worker - heck, even today, Pinkie found her napping on the cloud...

After a few minutes of walking, her pondering was interrupted when she entered the bakery to start her afternoon shift...

Train to the Crystal Empire - current time

“Why? Why didn’t you trust your intuition? Perhaps if you would have acted sooner…” Pinkie asked herself, as a tear fell from her eye. “You knew something was wrong - but you did nothing! Why did you wait?!”

She put her journal down and, with teary eyes, started to stare outside the window. Green forests were gone - replaced by endless mountain peaks, covered in sparkling white snow - the train was getting closer to the Crystal Empire, and her time was running out.

*sigh* I just hope, Princess Cadance can help, she is my last shot,” Pinkie mumbled, grabbing her journal again. “Mr. diary - I… I just want my friends back… oh, but I didn’t write how I lost them yet, did I? Well…”

Ponyville - a few days earlier

Next day started as usual - early wake-up call, backing and morning ‘rush hour.' The only difference was - there was some light rain during the night. When her morning shift was over, Pinkie went outside to stretch her hooves. As luck would have it, she noticed Fluttershy nearby, dragging a cart full of pet food behind her - normally this would not be a problem, but because of the rain, the way to her cottage was muddy, and cartwheels were sinking, making it hard to pull.

“Hi, Fluttershy!” Pinkie shouted with a smile, causing the timid pegasus to jump a little.

“Oh… um… hi Pinkie,” Fluttershy responded quietly - even more than usual, “is there anything I can do for you?”

“Nope! But it seems you could use a hoof pulling that cart huh? I’m right, right?!”

“Oh… I… think I manage-”

“Oh, don’t be a silly filly! I can see you are struggling to pull that thing but have no fear! Auntie Pinkie Pie is here!” Without waiting for approval, Pinkie quickly attached herself to the cart - even if Fluttershy wanted to protest, it was too late now. Together they quickly pulled the wagon out of the mud and started moving towards the cottage.

Pinkie noticed her companion was unusually quiet - sure, the pegasus was one of those less talkative in their group, but still - Pinkie felt something was off. “So Fluttershy, how is it going?” she asked, trying to start a conversation.

“Oh, fine I guess - nothing special… Last week was actually pretty relaxing.”

“How so?”

“Well, you see - Rarity was finally able to get some time off-”

Pinkie suddenly stopped dead in her tracks, causing Fluttershy to trip and almost fall down. “Um sorry Fluttershy, I… stepped on something. You were saying you spent some time with Rarity, right?”

Fortunately, Fluttershy continued talking like if nothing happened. “Yes, we went to the spa a few times - hadn’t been there in months.”

“I see… what about Dashie - have you seen her during the last few days?”

“Oh yes! The day before you got back, I invited her to one of my animal picnics; she came with Tank, and we had some fun!" suddenly Fluttershy's face tensed and her voice started to tremble. "W-Why do you ask?”

Pinkie glanced at the yellow pegasus and noticed sweat running from her forehead. "Aw... no reason - I was just curious what Dashie was doing when I was gone."

Upon hearing her words, Fluttershy’s face relaxed almost as if some burden was lifted from her heart. A few minutes later they finally arrived at her cottage and Pinkie quickly unstrapped herself from the cart. “Okie-dokie-lokie! I need to get going - see you around!”

Fluttershy nodded in agreement and Pinkie was off… or at least that’s what she wanted her to believe... In reality, she decided to observe her friends, starting with the yellow pegasus - as it turned out she didn’t have to wait for long. Only a few minutes after she said goodbye, Fluttershy flew out of her cottage in the direction of Twilight’s castle…


Following the yellow pegasus, she led her to the ‘map room’ again - looking through a crack in the door she saw Twilight, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash - what they talked about, chilled her to the bone.

“So she probably suspects something - great, just great!” Twilight covered her head with her hooves. “We have no choice - we will have to bring her in today-”

“But we’re not sure yet!” Rainbow interrupted. “And if that’s really her-”

Twilight hit the table with her hoof. “Enough! We got orders - we are running out of time! And since she knows - there is no way we are gonna get anything out of her now, I don’t see any other way."

Pinkie heard enough - she knew something was terribly wrong, and that her friends - if that were her friends - were lying to her on purpose. Moreover, they said, they were ordered to bring her somewhere, and the thought struck her: what if Crystalis was behind this?! What if these were really changelings in disguise, and she was the last element bearer they didn’t catch yet? She needed to tell Celestia right away, but her options were no good - since Spike was on vacation, sending an instant letter was not possible, and using Equestria mail would take a few days... and ‘Twilight’ specifically said they were to bring her to somewhere today - her last resort was the train.

Pinkie quickly sneaked out of the castle and went to Sugarcube Corner to gather her things - she informed the Cakes that she will need a few days off - but decided not to tell them where she was going. Then she bought the ticket and boarded the train to Canterlot - if anyone was able to fix this, it was the Princess.

Chapter 3 - Darkling

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Train to the Crystal Empire - current time

“Celestia can fix this - she can fix anything… right? Oh, how naive I was Mr. diary!” Pinkie said, pounding her head with her hooves. “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid Pinkie! Eh… I guess my plan didn’t exactly work out - but how could I know that even super-duper Princess Celestia and super-scary Princess Luna could fall to... whoever is behind all this? Cadance, pretty, pretty, pretty PLEASE help me… *sigh* Anyway, where was I?

Canterlot - two days earlier

The train from Ponyville finally stopped at the central station - by the time Pinkie arrived, the sun was slowly setting behind the horizon, painting the castle buildings with a light reddish glow. She quickly made her way to the palace, but to her surprise and irritation she learned, there will be no audience that day. “I’m sorry miss, but Princess Celestia is not available at the moment,” said one of the guards.

“Not available? But this is important!” Pinkie shouted in frustration, but the guard remained untouched.

“Miss, do you have any idea how many times a day I hear that? Everypony want’s a piece of the Princess - and she is only one mare,” he responded, maintaining his stoic posture, “I realize you are one of the element bearers Miss Pie, but right now the Princess is attending the conference with delegates from Saddle Arabia, and she gave specific instruction not to be disturbed - please return tomorrow.”

Gritting her teeth in frustration, Pinkie considered her options - unfortunately, she left her party cannon in Ponyville, so blasting her way through, was out of the question - as luck would have it, her pondering was interrupted by a familiar voice. “Pinkamena Diane Pie? What are you doing here?”

“Hello, Princess Luna... I came to talk to your sister, about very important stuff - but apparently, she is busy,” Pinkie said, and smiled gently, “perhaps I could talk with you instead?”

Luna nodded in agreement. “Of course! I just got back from my delegation in Manehattan and won’t be attending anything else today; please follow me to my private chambers.”


A minute later, they were sitting at the round dining table with a teapot on top, while Luna was preparing the drink for her guest Pinkie had explained her suspicions. “Indeed, we heard rumors that Chrysalis was rebuilding her armies - but it is doubtful she was able to replace the element bearers themselves,” Luna said while pouring herself and Pinkie a cup of tea. “You see, after the latest incidents, we placed certain changeling detectors in Ponyville, Canterlot, and few other strategic locations. We also adjusted the shield around the Crystal Empire so it would block any changelings from entering - there is nothing to worry about.”

Watching the steam rise off of the surface of her tea, Pinkie smiled gently and relaxed - finally some good news; but soon doubts started to fill her head. If everything was alright, why did her friends act so weird around her? And where had they wanted to bring her to? With all those unanswered questions, her smile started to fade quickly - seeing this; Luna added, “I think, you should talk to Celestia nevertheless. Perhaps she will be able to explain the behavior of your friends, where I cannot - you can use the guest quarters for the night.”

After a quick consideration Pinkie nodded in agreement. “Okie-dokie-lokie! Thank you, princess!" she said, drinking her tea down in one gulp. "Oh, and by the way - do you plan to attend this year’s Nightmare Night?”

“I don’t know-”

“Please say yes! We really, Really, REALLY would like you to scare us all again!" Pinkie shouted with a grin, hopping towards the confused princess. "Please Say Yes! PLEASE SAY YES!”

Luna started backing away from the crazy pony but soon hit the wall, and the pink blur was getting closer and closer... “ALL RIGHT!” she shouted in defeat. “We shall be there!”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you! With you, the fun will be tripled!”

Pinkie bounced around a - still a little shocked - Luna for a few more seconds, before saying her farewells, and going to the guest quarters to get some zzz's.


The next day, Pinkie was woken up by a knock on the door - as it turned out, she was invited to have the morning meal with Celestia herself. “Breakfast with the Princess?! Holy moly!” she quickly jumped out of her super comfy bed to prepare.

About 45 minutes later the doors to Celestia’s dining room opened with a quiet click. “Good morning Pinkie, please sit down,” Celestia greeted her with a smile, pointing at one of the chairs.

Pinkie approached the table expecting one of those ‘elaborate’ dishes that Rarity once took her for, that is: tasteless food and portions so small, that you could not feed a cat with it. Instead, in front of her was a stand full of cake and sweets - including her favorite cupcakes and tea - her mouth nearly drooled at the sight.

“I hope the breakfast is to your liking,” Celestia added, “consider it as a little compensation for my inability to see you yesterday.”

Using her magic, she put a huge piece of cake on the plate of her guest and her own - then without further ado, she started eating. This was the first time Pinkie had seen the princess eat in private and after witnessing Celestia’s muzzle smeared with pieces of the cake and frosting she couldn't help but giggle. “Pinkie, you have no idea how lucky you are,” Celestia said with a smile, while at the same time - devouring another piece of cake, cupcake, and a muffin, “you can eat whatever you want, wherever you want - I have to limit myself only to ‘special occasions’ like the one you provided for me today - for which I thank you sincerely. You wouldn’t want to know what I normally eat.”

Instead of answering, Pinkie took a huge, messy bite of her cake - now muzzles of both mares were covered in icing and smiling hard. “Luna told me your story, and I can assure you, there is nothing wrong with your friends,” Celestia continued, at the same time absorbing yet another chocolate muffin, “if any changeling tried to infiltrate Ponyville we would learn about it immediately.”

“But then… why were they acting so strange?” Pinkie asked, staring indifferently at a half-eaten cupcake.

“Question is - were they?” Celestia's response only added to Pinkie’s confusion. “You see, yesterday - after talking with Luna, I sent a letter to Twilight asking her about the behavior you described - and she confirmed everything, but also said they explained it to you… something about ‘secret party’ - I am not quite sure.”

Celestia paused and took a sip from her cup; at the same time, Pinkie was processing what she just heard while looking indifferently at the food. “Pinkie, I understand your concerns,” Celestia continued, “but have you considered the fact that you may be simply… overreacting?”

Poking at her food, Pinkie was lost in thoughts - could it be? Was it simply her imagination playing tricks on her? Usually, she would dismiss it out of hoof - but now, after some consideration, she realized Celestia might be right - it wouldn’t be the first time...

Her pondering was interrupted by the Princess, “I know for a fact that the last few weeks were quite stressful for you: first that party at Canterlot - which, by the way, was fantastic - then Luna’s birthday and now the Crystal Dessert Competition,” Celestia emptied her cup, “I know you are most energetic pony around, Pinkie - but stress of such life sooner or later, will get even to you - trust me, I know.”

Pinkie smiled weakly - lately, she was feeling a little more tired than usual - of course, nobody else noticed that she was bouncing a few centimeters closer to the ground than she normally does, or that her rate decreased from a solid sixty bounces per minute to more like forty-five or fifty, but she knew. “Perhaps… you are right; I’m a teensy-weensy more tired lately.”

“Maybe we should have you examined?” Celestia asked with a hint of concern. “I know, nobody like checkups - I mean how many times can you hear ‘You should eat fewer sweets, it’s unhealthy!’ or ‘Your blood pressure is too high - you must drink less tea and follow your diet’ or ... “ she paused, after realizing she was impersonating her doctors with two pieces of bread held by her magic, so they formed a ‘talking mouth’ - blushing slightly, she put the ‘talking food’ away. “Em… yes, like I was saying - nobody likes checkups, but when you are feeling tired they can be quite useful - if you’d like, I could have my personal doctors examine you, even today.”

Pinkie struck a thinking pose and considered Celestia’s offer - she wasn’t very fond of doctors poking her and drawing blood but, if there was something wrong with her - something that made her ‘loco in the coco’ to the point that she started suspecting her friends of being changelings, she needed to know. “Holy moly… I can’t say I’m super-duper looking forward to this… but I need to know - I don’t want to hurt the girls again…” she raised her hooves and made a salute gesture, “I’ll do it! For my friends!”

Celestia nodded her head with a smile, then they both finished the breakfast. The Princess still had some business to attend to but asked Pinkie to meet her at the Canterlot General Hospital’s royal wing at 2 PM.


The royal wing wasn’t as ‘royal’ as Pinkie expected - she imagined the building stuffed with gold, gems, and amber… but it turned out to be just another boring hospital - only a little tidier and less crowded than the clinic for ordinary ponies.

After the tests began, Pinkie quickly regretted her decision to come there - she was scanned and poked into every orifice of her body, the doctors even managed to create a few new ones in the process - after drawing her blood, she had a talk with a shrink. It was almost 4 PM when one of the physicians entered Pinkie’s private room. “Hello Mrs. Pie - we got your results - let’s see…” he glanced at his clipboard and paused, looking a little confused, but only for a moment. “Well, there are some indications of elevated stress hormones in your blood, the glucose level is a bit higher than normal, but not by far… also that dream about ‘cupcakes’, you described to the psychiatrist was rather… disturbing - all that suggest you are stressed out. I would strongly recommend a lot of rest and to take it easy for at least a week.”

“Oh, that’s it? All I need is teensy-weensy rest, and all this will go away? And I will feel super-duper again?”

“I… didn’t exactly catch all that Mrs. Pie, but if you are asking if you’ll feel better - then the answer is yes,” the doctor responded. “Princess Celestia would like to have a word with you - can I send her in?”

Pinkie nodded, and the doctor left the room - moments later Celestia came inside. “So how are you? Everything checked out fine?”

“Doctor said all I need is some rest but...” Pinkie shook her head - no matter how many ponies told her everything was OK, she had this gut feeling that it really wasn’t, “but… what if… if… I don’t know - what if something else is wrong with my friends? Perhaps not the changeling but…” she paused for a moment, querying her mind for ideas - and one struck her like lightning, “MIND CONTROL! Yes, that must be it! Somepony is trying to control my friends - that explains everything! Princess, we have to-”

“Pinkie STOP!” Celestia interrupted with raised voice, Pinkie never heard the Princess speaking so loudly before. “I am sorry, but I see that I have no choice - I have to stop this before you will do something you will regret.”

Celestia sat down next to a confused Pinkie and continued. “We both know you were there before - you suspected your friends, and it didn’t end well,” Pinkie’s mane deflated slightly, those were bad memories, “do you remember the letter you send to me afterward? What did you write? Please try to recall.”

She didn’t have to try - everyone knew Pinkie had an excellent memory. The letter in question was rather lengthy, but she had a pretty good idea which part was on Celestia’s mind. “I… I wrote that… from this day forward I will have more trust in my friends - and I will not jump to conclusions so quickly.”

“Exactly, I am asking you, to follow what you wrote in that letter. As a ruler, I get hundreds of reports of ‘suspicious behavior’ every day - do you know how many actually turn out to be true?” Pinkie shook her head. “Maybe one in a thousand or less - you have no idea how many ponies actually reported that you are a changeling, spy, witch or fallen demon in disguise,” she added with a chuckle.

Pinkie stared at the ground with an emotionless face, her mouth slightly agape - she still wasn't sure what to think. Suddenly the ‘Gummy after party’ that started it all - filled her mind, and with it: Mr. Turnip, Rocky, Sir Lintsalot, and Madame Le Flour - the ‘replacements’ she created for her friends.

She never confided this to anyone, but after 'chatting' with her new ‘companions’ she felt alone and lonely, but most of all furious - and her anger grew with every passing moment. If Dashie would visit just a few minutes later… Pinkie feared she would have hurt her. What's worse - even though everything turned out OK, she had nightmares for weeks after that - horrors about her hurting her friends in the most disturbing ways possible.

After a moment of silence, Pinkie violently shook her head. “You are right - you must be… I… I just can’t risk it,” she said with teary eyes, “if you are saying I should trust them - I will.”

A smile returned to Celestia's face. “Thank you, Pinkie - now, I think you should get back home unless of course, you have some other business in Canterlot I don’t know about? Like… exchanging some secret spy information, or using you ‘witch magic’ to turn someone into a newt?” Celestia chuckled.

Pinkie wiped tears from her eyes. “Nope... I think I did what I came to do… I… I’m sorry for the trouble your Highness.”

“Don’t be - it’s better to be too vigilant, than not vigilant enough... Oh and... just between you and me - if you ever figure out how to turn ponies into newts or something else, let me know - I could use it on my nephew,” Celestia winked and Pinkie nodded with a smile - seconds later they left her room and parted ways - Pinkie was off to train station.


Pinkie was filling out discharge papers at the registration desk when she noticed her diary was missing. “Oh gosh! I must have left it in my room, I’ll be back!” she said, and quickly ran upstairs. That book was very important to her - and the mere thought of losing it was making her heart beat faster. Fortunately, when she reached her room - the small notebook was still lying idly on the bed. She grabbed it with a sigh of relief and started to go back when she heard the sound of her name coming from one of the offices - someone was talking.

One of the voices was definitely Celestia's, “...I must be sure - we can’t afford any mistakes here,” she said, and a second later a green flash illuminated the room.

Out of curiosity, Pinkie took a look inside - the view made her blood run cold - Celestia was there all right, along with a male changeling!

“Satisfied?” he asked, furrowing his brow in irritation.

“Mildly - now please tell me what did you learned. I already know what the tests said - but I must be sure,” Celestia - if that was Celestia - said.

“Well… I can only confirm the tests results, if something were off, I would know - but to be on the safe side, we should wait for the blood work.”

Celestia stomped her hoof and an expression of frustration flooded her face. “So, in reality, we got nothing… the blood work will not be here until tomorrow, and I already sent her away.”

With her mouth wide open, Pinkie took a step back and dashed for the exit. Her mind boggled up, for all she knew - there was some conspiracy going on, and the princess has been compromised just like her friends.

She was about to burst through the front door when, Luna entered the hospital - with Prince Blueblood hanging from her shoulder - his fur dirty, and a bit bloody. Pinkie stopped dead in her tracks from the shock.

“Hello your highness,” the receptionist said with a smile, waving her hoof at the nearby nurses, “another fight I presume?”

Luna sighed and shook her head. “Stairs,” a few ponies put the mumbling prince on the gurney, “when he gets sober, please let us know.”

The receptionist nodded and returned to her duties, like if nothing happened - at the opposite end of the hall Pinkie finally regained her composure. “Princess Luna! I need to speak with you!” she shouted, approaching the blue alicorn.

For the next minute, Luna listened, with a stoic face. “Pinkie… I am sorry, but this is just crazy! Celestia sent me to Ponyville to examine your friends just in case - I found nothing out of the ordinary. And now you are implying she is a changeling?!”

“Princess… I know how this sounds, but-”

“Enough!" Luna slammed her hoof into the floor sending spiderweb cracks along the surface. "I don’t wanna hear anymore - I don’t know what’s gotten into you, but this has got to stop!”

The blue alicorn loomed over Pinkie, like a predator - her eyes burning with rage. Swallowing hard, Pinkie took a step back when it hit her. “They got to you! You are not Luna!”

“So now I am a changeling too? Child - you are confused. I am sorry, but for your own good I must ask you to-”

Suddenly the door burst open. “CODE BLUE! CODE BLUE! OUT OF THE WAY! OUT OF THE WAY!” shouted one of the paramedics, pushing a gurney with some unknown mare. Luna went on autopilot and teleported - ending up on the second floor. When she got back to the reception area, a few seconds later - Pinkie was gone.


Assuming the worst, Pinkie was running as fast as she could - she didn't know what was going on, or who was responsible... but one thing was certain - she was alone. Her only ally at the moment was the rush hour - with the streets of Canterlot crawling with ponies, it was easy to blend in.

After putting some distance between her and the hospital, she turned to one of the more obscure alleys and laid down behind a trashcan - breathing heavily. “Oh gosh… what should I do? I need to get some help… but from where? The princesses and my friends are out... perhaps my family?" she paused for a moment but then shook her head "Silly… what can they do? No… we need some super-duper army or something…”

Suddenly her pondering was interrupted by a sound of her name, coming from the main street. “...yes and three balloons as the cutie mark,” Pinkie peeked from behind the wall, to see a bunch of royal guards getting briefed - everyone holding a picture of her. “Princess Celestia and Princess Luna will be joining the search soon - they want her alive and unharmed - understand?”

Pinkie’s heart sank, now it was official - she was a fugitive, and soon, every royal guard in Canterlot would be looking for her. “Nopey-dopey… I don’t believe this is happening! Think - you must do something and save your friends; otherwise, this will end up just like during the wedding…” suddenly, the idea struck her head like a bolt of lightning, “Of course! Cadance! She should be able to help! I need to get to the Crystal Empire ASAP!”

Pinkie peeked her head again, only to notice a dozen guards coming her way - train station was only about a kilometer from her location, but using the main street was out of the question - her only option was to follow the alley she was in. The passage was dark and littered with trash - the smell reminded her of the garbage behind the Sugarcube Corner - on top of that, it twisted every few hundred meters. This place was probably extended over time as Canterlot grew, and while the front of the buildings was aligned to the main street, the alleys were not, forming a sort of labyrinth.

It took a while to navigate this maze, but finally, she was ready to emerge nearby the station, when suddenly… “There she is! You, over there! Stop in the name of Celestia!” a guard shouted in the distance, and all hell broke loose.

With her heart in her mouth, she started to run. She tried a path on the left only to turn back when she heard the guards approaching from that direction, the route on the right was next but following it, she soon found herself at a dead end - when she backtracked the guards were just meters away. As it turned out, the third time's the charm - the final path was clear, and since Pinkie was not wearing the Royal Armor, she managed to outrun the pursuit.

A minute later she came out near the construction zone where the ‘Twilight Tower’ was being built - the train station was just beyond it, across the road. She was almost at the center of the site when a blue blur landed in front of her. “That’s far enough Pinkie!” Rainbow shouted, blocking her path.

Rest of mane six, as well as the princesses teleported in with a 'poof' - seconds later. “Who the heck are you!” Pinkie screamed, backing away from the group.

Celestia answered with a stoic face, “You must come with us - don’t make it any more difficult.”

“Never! Leave me alone!”

"You leave me no choice," Celestia's horn started to glow but before she could discharge...


Smoke and confetti filled the air around the group stunning everyone momentarily - by the time they recovered, Pinkie was a good distance away.

“I’ll get her!” Rainbow Dash jumped into the air; she was about to grab the target, but at the last moment - Pinkie threw another 'confetti-bomb', confusing the pegasus long enough to jump away. “Darn it Pinkie, surrender already-”

“WATCH OUT!” the crowd shouted - Dash turned her head, only to notice that a support pillar was in her way, she tried to evade but it was too late, she crashed, and a second later, the tower started to come down on her and rest of the group. Pinkie - who at the time was outside the crash zone - could only watch in horror as the pile of rubble buried her friends under tons of rock and concrete.

Her first reaction was to help - but the demolition caused a thick cloud of smoke and dust to rise into the air, obscuring the view and making it hard to breathe - she could also hear some of the guards already calling for assistance. Even if she did not want to admit it - that was the perfect diversion, if she had any chance to make it to the Crystal Empire, it was now or never.

“Forgive me…” she said with teary eyes and ran towards the train station.

Chapter 4 - Hope and Fear

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Train to the Crystal Empire - current time

“And that’s how I ended up here Mr. diary…” Pinkie wrote with a sigh, the memories of past few days were still hurting, but writing them down lifted some of the burdens from her heart. “Aww Cadance please, Please, PLEASE help me! You are my last hope… Mr. diary - wish me luck.”

Outside, the snowstorm seemed to die down, allowing the rose-pink light of dawn to slowly fill the air. In the distance, Crystal Palace sparkled like a bright star, indicating she was just minutes from her destination.

“Now arriving at the final station - please don’t forget your luggage while disembarking,” announced the conductor - Pinkie burst through the door as soon as they opened. “Next stop, the Crystal Palace.”

A few minutes later she arrived at the ground level of the royal residence and quickly explained her situation. At first, the guard though this was some kind of a prank, but after seeing how frantic she was - decided to consult the princess.

“Miss Pinkie Pie - please follow me to one of the guest rooms, the princess will meet you there shortly,” Pinkie sighed with relief - Cadance was willing to at least hear her out.

She didn’t wait for long - no more than ten minutes later, Cadance arrived to greet her. “Hello, princess… Did the guard tell you why I’m here?”

“More or less - but I would like to hear it from you. Let’s eat something while we are at it - you must be starving,” Cadance called for the service, and soon, the table was full of food - including some super-duper looking cake and sweets.

Pinkie was indeed starving, her last meal was the breakfast with Celestia a day before. “Oh my gosh! My tummy says ‘thank you’” and with that she started to eat, while at the same time reporting her story. For the next half an hour, Pinkie explained everything - about how her friends were acting, how Celestia was talking with a changeling, and how she got to the Empire.

Cadance stood up from the table and approached the window in silence. “Pinkie… what you told me is incredible, to say the least, but... I can confirm some of it.”

“You... can?” Pinkie asked with a bit of confusion in her voice, the train ride must have worn her off more than she though because her eyelids were getting heavy - she didn’t sleep for more than a day after all.

“Yes - for some time now, we heard rumors about Chrysalis and her new army - that’s why the shield around the Empire was recently adjusted,” Cadance returned to the table and poured herself a cup of tea. “It would appear however that that didn’t stop her from trying-”

“Princess, you haven’t touched your food, are you gonna eat that?” Pinkie cut her off, pointing at one of the cupcakes with a grin.

"I… I'm on a diet - you can have it if you want."

"Thank you... again, your highness..." fighting her eyes from closing and yawning heavily, Pinkie took a bite, "although, I must say that these... cupcakes have a weird aftertaste..."

"Oh, don't worry about it," Cadance grinned, sipping her tea, "that's just the taste of sedatives we put in."

“Sedatives...?" Pinkie's eyes widened, as realization struck her. "No… you are… one of… them…” she stood up and wanted to run, but her legs were not listening. “So tired…” the last thing she saw was the fuzzy figure of the princess approaching her, then everything went black.


Pinkie woke up lying on the floor, her vision blurry and head throbbing painfully. “Whoooa… what hap-” a sound of a chain interrupted her speech. “Huh? What’s this?”

Soon her vision cleared enough so she could grab the gravity of her situation - she was in the dungeon, chained to the wall - her only companion was the guard outside her cell. “Hey, what gives? Why am I locked up?!”

“I see our ‘sleeping beauty’ finally woke up - I guess we gave you a little too much sedative, huh?” he asked mockingly. “I'm not supposed to talk with you so save your breath, I will notify the Princess that you are up.”

With that, he was off - leaving Pinkie alone with her thoughts. She noticed through the small window that sun was just over the horizon - it was either dusk or dawn, she couldn’t tell, but in any case that meant she was asleep for a while.

After about ten minutes, Shining Armor arrived, with a dozen guards. “You are coming with me, but first we will chain you,” he said coldly and made a gesture with his hoof. “Don’t try anything funny or you’ll regret it.”

Pinkie stared apathetically at the ground, she didn't flinch even when they put on her restraints - her will to fight was gone, replaced by the feeling of failure.

She was brought to the large hall on the top of Crystal Palace - this was the place where the Crystal Heart was currently residing - both for different security reasons. “We are here - you can come in now,” Shining said, and the rest of the mane six walked inside the room alongside Princess Cadance.

Suddenly Pinkie's jaw dropped, and her eyes went wide. “Wh…? What this?!” among her friends she saw… another Pinkie Pie - identical to her in every way.

“Surprised that your assassination attempt didn’t work?!” Cadance shouted, grabbing chained Pinkie with her magic and lifting her into the air. “If it weren't for Luna and Celestia you would probably have succeeded - fortunately, they were able to establish a shield moments before the building hit them - Luna was injured nevertheless.”

“That was... an accident...” Pinkie tried to explain herself, but Cadance’s magic was choking her. “Can’t… breath…”

After a few more seconds, her body hit the floor with a loud thud. “You are lucky we don’t execute creatures - even as despicable as you,” Cadance said, while Pinkie was gasping for air. “Shall we get started?”

With that, the guards dragged Pinkie near the Crystal Heart - and the mane six surrounded her. “What are you doing?!” she shouted, struggling with her restraints - but there was no response. “You are not gonna get away with this!”

“Um… please stop, you will hurt yourself,” Fluttershy murmured. “We are not gonna hurt you.”

“Stop pretending! I know you are not Fluttershy! I don’t know what you did to my friends, but you are gonna pay! That’s a Pinkie Promise!”

The girls glanced at ‘their’ Pinkie and she looked back, her face as confused as theirs. Next, they glanced at the one chained near the Crystal Heart, and for a moment they seemed to be stuck in a loop, just glancing back and forth - until Cadance intervened. “Don’t let her fool you! You know what to do.”

Without further ado, Twilight began to charge her horn - soon, a sphere formed around her and the rest of mane six, as the magic of friendship began to ignite. Suddenly a beam of energy passed through the center of Crystal Heart and hit the chained Pinkie. “IT HURTS! STOOOOP! PLEEEESE!” she screamed as a cloud of thick smoke coming from her body started to fill the room.

“Something’s not right!” Twilight shouted. “Magic of friendship should not cause pain! We must abort!” The smoke was so thick that she could barely see the Crystal Heart - she was about to power down, when suddenly a sphere of energy discharged from the heart, knocking everyone unconscious.

Chapter 5 - Masks Off

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Pinkie’s ears were ringing, and all she could see was pitch black - she tried to get up, but her body was not listening. In the distance, she could hear a muffled mix of rumble, screams, and conversation - all jumbled up, and confusing.

“Come on! We need to get out of here!”

“...we can’t… the shield!”


“...evacuate the princess and the element bearers!”


“Too many of them! We need to…”

“Cadance watch out!”

… … ...

“Excellent job my child.”

“Huh…?” Pinkie slowly opened her eyes, her eyelids felt as heavy as iron bricks, and her body was hurting all over. When her vision adjusted, it was the same story all over again - she was in a dungeon, chained to the wall - except this time the rest of mane six, as well as Shining, Cadance, and even Flurry Heart were there as well - with Chrysalis looming over them.

The other Pinkie was sitting next to her, the only noticeable difference, was that the fur of her 'counterpart' was relatively intact, while hers was covered with burn marks - no doubt due to the magic she was exposed to earlier. “Oh, this is just excellent! Perfect plan and execution - wouldn’t you agree my child?” Chrysalis said with a grin, looking at both pink mares. “Ha! You are just perfect! Even I can’t tell you apart.”

As everypony was processing what she said, one of the changelings reported that the shield was restored. “Huh? Restored? What happened?” the burned Pinkie asked.

The Queen gently lifted her chin, so they were looking eye to eye. “My dear, you… or you,” she pointed to the other Pinkie, “made it collapse - finally allowing us to invade. After their precious shield was gone, we took over in less than an hour-”

“I knew you were behind all this!” Pinkie took a swing at the Queen, but the chains didn’t allow her hoof to move far enough - Chrysalis only smiled at the futile attempt.

“I don’t understand…” Twilight said. “There is no way a changeling could pass through the new shield...”

"Finally you are correct on something princess. Indeed, normal changelings - myself sadly included - were blocked by your little contraption,” Chrysalis rubbed her chin. “It took a lot of effort, but I managed to breed a new changeling that cannot be stopped by the barrier. She not only looks the same, can perfectly mimic body capabilities, weaknesses, and composition - but most of all, she has the same memories as the person she replaces. That’s why we captured your little friend - her memories were copied to my subject-”

“Wait-wait-wait!” the burned Pinkie interrupted. “Are you saying one of us is a changeling and doesn’t even knows about it?!”

“Exactly! You see... when I learned that the element of laughter will attend that ridiculous 'dessert competition' we put the plan into motion... All we had to do was to capture and replace her before she reached the Empire, then wait for Celestia and the element bearers to use the power of the Crystal Heart on you."

“But… you said changelings couldn’t pass through the barrier,” Twilight interrupted, “how did you intend to get the captured Pinkie inside?”

Chrysalis chuckled, “I didn’t.”

Twilight gulped slowly. “A..are you saying-”

“My dear princess, you and the rest of your little gang are extremely predictable. I knew that if I let Shining Armor ‘accidentally’ rescue the other Pinkie, we would be your first suspect, but thanks to the amnesia spell she didn't remember who captured her so you couldn't be sure, and since my changeling was so convincing that none of you could tell her apart, it was obvious Celestia would want to investigate before reacting.”

“But that’s just silly…” the burned Pinkie interrupted again, “couldn’t she just zap both of us with her magic to reveal which one is the changeling?”

"Oh, but she did. Remember your time in the clinic? All those tests they put you through? Some of them were intended to do just that - and if you were a regular changeling they would force you to your original form, but with the new breed, this won't be that easy - when it comes to 'un-shifting', you are as resilient as I am," Chrysalis said while brushing Pinkie's mane like if she was a foal.

"But... what about the changeling talking with Celestia?"

"He was sent by that traitor Thorax to 'evaluate' you, but even he thought you were real. Since they found nothing, they sent you away - I am surprised they didn't send you here, though..."


"For centuries, the Empire used the Crystal Heart as its primary defense against us - you see, the heart can channel so much love-based energy that it can force any changeling - even the queen - back to their original form - that's exactly what they tried to do, and exactly what we wanted them to do."

"But... if I didn't come here..."

"They would bring you here sooner or later anyway, but of course the 'good and merciful' Celestia had to be even more 'caring' for the well-being of her subjects than I anticipated. Instead of bringing you by force, she wanted to sit and observe... seriously, do you have any idea how hard it was to wait with the entire army outside the Empire? I swear, I will make her pay for every minute I had to spend in that frozen wasteland!"

“So… all the super-duper weird questions, silly behavior, and secrecy was because you guys didn’t know who was the real me?" the burned Pinkie said, turning to her friends. "Oh, you've gotta be kidding me! It should be obvious it was me!”

The other Pinkie immediately interrupted, “Don’t be silly! I’m the real one!”

“I don’t think so!”

“You dare to put your money on that?! 50 bits that I’m the real one!”

“You’re soooo on!”

“QUIET!” Chrysalis shouted, at the two arguing mares, “Should have captured the element of honesty instead of that annoying baker,” she mumbled. “I think it’s time reveal who is who… hmmm…”

Chrysalis glanced at both mares doing her best to find her changeling but quickly gave up. “Like two drops of water… oh well, we will have to do it the traditional way,” with that, she fired her magic at the Pinkie on the left. Some smoke and green light started to emanate from her body… but died down after a second. “Dang… I thought it was you,” she said, turning to the other one.

“No… that can’t be… STAY AWAY! DON’T COME ANY-” the burned Pinkie screamed, putting her hooves in front of her, trying to block - but to no avail.

Suddenly, there was a bright green flash and one of the mares transformed into a changeling, it was obvious she was no regular one either - her body was green, not black, her eyes had visible pupils - unlike that of an ordinary changeling - and most of all, she was almost the size of Chrysalis herself.

For a moment, the changeling glanced at her new appearance with mouth wide open - suddenly, she buried her head into her hooves and burst into tears.

“I don’t understand, why are you crying child?” Chrysalis asked.

“I… I remember… I remember everything! The planning, the capture - memory transfer, but also all good times with my friends and now... I betrayed them,” the changeling collapsed on the floor, rocking forth and back. “Dear Celestia, what have I done…”

Chrysalis embraced her child gently. “I am truly sorry, but the pain will pass... Remember - thanks to your sacrifice we will have enough love to feed us for years,” she murmured, unchaining the changeling - who was still attached, just like the rest of prisoners.

“We shall see about that, Queen!” Shining Armor interjected with an angry voice.

“My dear Shining, I am afraid you don’t have a choice - you see… you are not the only one who can manipulate energy fields,” Chrysalis grinned, “we already adjusted that little shield of yours, so Celestia will find it rather difficult to get inside - also, you probably noticed your magic is fairly weak - you can thank the Crystal Heart for that as well - that contraption can do wonders in the right hooves. Without further ado - here is the deal: you and your crystal ponies will live under our ‘protection’ from now on - in exchange, you will provide us with love from your subjects-”

Cadance interrupted, “We will never agree to that, and you know it!”

“Well, you better - because that little stunt you did - has drained most of the love from the Crystal Heart, and in a day or two, it will no longer be able to sustain the shield. We can survive in extreme cold temperature, but you ponies can’t - and before you start thinking about some clever way to restore your magic and evacuate your subjects, know that a squadron of my elite changelings has orders to move the Crystal Heart to our lair if necessary, while the rest will destroy the train station and other means of escape.”

Cadance tried to counter, but the reality was rather grim - Queen was right, if the shield were to collapse, the Empire would be transformed into a frozen wasteland in a matter of hours - with the Crystal Heart removed and train station destroyed most ponies would freeze to death before the rescue. After a few seconds Chrysalis added mockingly, “Oh, you don’t have to decide right away - sleep on it and let me know tomorrow.”

With that, she and her changeling left the cell, leaving everyone to think over her ‘offer.' “I’m so super sorry...” the changeling mumbled, leaving the dungeon.

Chapter 6 - Shattered Mirror

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Xerox - because that apparently was the changeling's real name - walked alongside her queen, staring indifferently at the ground while her memories were slowly coming back, and with them, the sad truth - her kind needed love to survive, and Equestria had more than enough, she didn't betray anybody - if anything, she should feel pride... and yet she couldn't silence that voice inside her head whispering that she was a traitor.

“Your highness, may I ask what should I do now?” Xerox asked as they approached one of the great halls.

Chrysalis replied with a smile. “To be honest, I don’t have any plans for you at the moment,” she said as they walked towards a palace balcony, “but I think we both agree, you are not an ordinary changeling - and since I will now have a lot more responsibilities with running this little country - how would you feel to be my second in command?”

Xerox grinned. “Awesome! I would be super-duper ha…” she was interrupted by a frowning gaze coming from Chrysalis. “I mean... I would be honored, your Highness.”

Fortunately, a smile quickly returned on the Queen’s face. “Good - for now you are dismissed, you can use one of the guest rooms to rest up,” she said as they reached the palace balcony, “but, before you go - you may want to take a look at your accomplishment,” she pointed her hoof at the scenery.

Standing next to her queen, Xerox started looking - the first thing that caught her eye was the green color of the shield, no doubt due to the influence of changeling magic. A few buildings were on fire - others were smoking, but all in all the city was in a rather good condition.

Fellow changelings were everywhere - some were in the air guarding the skies, others were on the ground patrolling the streets - a few even wore armor, no doubt pilfered from the captured guards. Some crystal ponies were on the streets as well, doing chores - with their heads hanging low - but otherwise unscarred.

Suddenly a male changeling approached Chrysalis. “Your Highness..." he said, his voice trembling, "a group of about fifty ponies tried to escape using the old mine tunnels-”

“They were captured I presume?” Chrysalis responded in a surprisingly calm voice, and the messenger nodded. “Bring them in then.”

A few seconds later escapees were brought before the queen and her would-be second in command changeling who was still standing next to her - as soon as the first prisoner emerged from the corridor the feeling of guilt intensified a thousandfold.

Ponies were being marched by two dozen guards - all connected by a massive rusty chain and each one with shackles on their hooves, their bodies lacerated and beaten - it was evident they resisted capture, but the damage seemed excessive nevertheless. Suddenly, the chain revealed a filly, then another and another - all sobbing softly. “Your Highness… pardon my question but isn’t this a bit… excessive?” Xerox asked trying her best not to shed a tear herself.

“No - they were trying to escape, they got what was coming to them,” Chrysalis responded calmly and then turned to the prisoners. “Why did you try to run? You know I’ll have to punish you now.”

At first, there was silence, but then one of the mothers responded with a shaky voice, “Please… don’t punish our children; they are innocent.”

Chrysalis approached one of the crying foals, as his eyes widened from fear. “Don’t be afraid, child,” she murmured, soothingly, while gently stroking the kid’s mane, “I won’t hurt you - but your parents did something foolish, and there must be consequences,” she turned to the terrified mother. “Lucky for you - I am not the monster you think I am... Put the children in the orphanage and the parents in the dungeons," she ordered her guards, "if you behave, you'll see each other in a week or two.”

With that, guards started to separate the sobbing foals from crying parents - it went not without a few incidents: some parents tried to fight the restraints, while others grabbed their kids and didn't want to let go - but it was all in vain. With a few well-placed shots of magic and some physical force, the guards quickly crushed all the resistance and removed the prisoners from the palace - leaving the queen alone with Xerox once again. “That was very generous of you, your Highness.”

“Oh, I didn’t do it for them,” Chrysalis smiled, “after they get reunited, they will release a lot of love - who do you think told them about those old tunnels hmm?”

Xerox frowned. “You mean... you did?”

“Not personally of course - but we left some hints for ponies to find, my elite guards were observing that mine all along.”

“But… the messenger seemed anxious...”

“He didn’t know - not every changeling knows about everything... besides, it’s good to keep you all vigilant,” she added with a chuckle.

“OK...” Xerox responded with confused voice, “if I may - I would like to get that rest now, your Highness.”

“Of course! You are dismissed, my child.”


Xerox ambled towards the guest room with the feeling of uneasiness looming over her - on the one hoof, she knew they needed a lot of love to feed queen’s army - on the other, using children like that seemed just wrong. Lost in thought, she reached the chamber and went inside - directing herself towards the bed - hoping that a sound slumber will clear her head. She was about to hit the pillow when a familiar item caught her eye - lying next to the bed was Pinkie’s journal - only then, she realized it was the same room where she ate breakfast with Cadance.

“Hmm, Cadance must have left it here after I passed out,” she mumbled to herself - touching the book made Pinkie’s memories flash inside her head again, sending confusing signals. “Nopey-dopey! I need to control those urges - I need to remember who I am… the Queen knows what she is doing,” she laid the journal on the nightstand and went to sleep.

Even though the bed was comfy and temperature perfectly balanced, she found it difficult to fall asleep. For the next twenty minutes, she was tossing from side to side - trying different positions, but no matter what - the slumber would not come. "Okie-dokie-lokie! I have had enough of this!" she said, hopping off the bed. “Perhaps a teensy-weensy… grrr, I mean a little stroll will help… I need to learn to control my mouth…

Surprisingly the palace was almost empty - sure, there were some changeling guards here and there supervising the pony servants, but it wasn’t crowded in the slightest. The peaceful walk was suddenly interrupted by loud cries, coming from one of the rooms. “What gives? Better check this out,” As Xerox entered the chamber she saw what the fracas was all about: two changeling guards, covered in spilled milk and baby powder - were trying to feed the little princess Flurry Heart, but not having much luck.

“Need some help?” she asked, giggling softly at the view.

“Be my guest! This thing is a little devil!”

“Aww, you never dealt with babies, did you? Stand back - this can get nasty,” Xerox morphed to Pinkie form and approached the crib. “Come to your auntie Pinkie Pie! Let’s do something awesome!”

At first ‘Pinkie’ had no more luck than the guards - but after trying many techniques real Pinkie learned while dealing with the Cake kids, she finally started to calm Flurry Heart down. “Happy! Sad. Happy! Sad. Happy! Sad. Open, shut, open, shut, open, shut, open, shut. Yep, yep-yep-yep-yep-yep-yep. Nope, nope-nope-nope-nope-nope-nope. Oooweooo, oooweooo, oooweooo, oooweooo, oooweooweooweoo!" she shouted enthusiastically, shaking the crib - making the toddler laugh while fellow changelings stared with their mouths wide opened.

Finally, after about ten minutes Flurry Heart was calm and exhausted enough to accept the bottle. “Where did you learn that?” one of the changelings inquired, still a little shocked at what he saw.

“Aww, silly - I was babysitting Cakes’ kids for many… I mean - the element of laughter babysat some children - including this one. Why is the baby here anyway? Last time I saw her, she was with her parents in the dungeon.”

“Queen Chrysalis ordered us to separate her from them for the time being,” one of the changelings responded while cleaning himself from the baby milk, “she said that the amount of love released by the parents during the reunification will be enough to power up the Crystal Heart, even if ponies refuse to help.”

“Yeah - the queen said that if this works, we may be able to use this technique to harvest love from other children too - a much more efficient way than collecting the scraps from the rest of population, if you ask me.”

‘Pinkie’ made big eyes. “Ex-cuse me? She wants to exploit parents’ love for their kids?! What the heck?! She said we could all live in peace and harmony!”

“Whoa easy there, or you’ll wake that little devil up again. Look, we all gotta eat, and now - we need to share the love with that thing that powers the shield, so at least temporarily we need to do this - but if you ask me, we should do this as long as necessary, those dirty ponies don’t deserve any better treatment.”

“If you love them so much, perhaps you should take care of that brat?” the other added mockingly, pointing at the princess.

'Pinkie' frowned. “Okey... dokey... argh… I mean, all right - just have her moved to the guest room I’m using - you two couldn’t babysit her anyway,” she said, morphing into her natural form, before leaving the chamber.


After returning to the guest room, Xerox had no more problems falling asleep - time spent with the little princess made sure of that - she had woken up in the morning, just as the sun was starting its long ascend onto the horizon. The sky was cloudy, and light rain was pouring outside. “Aww great, just what I need,” she mumbled, dragging herself out of the comfy bed.

Slowly, life was returning to her body, after stretching the bones - and making sure Flurry Heart was still asleep in her crib - Xerox went for the queen’s chamber, ready to receive her instructions.

Surprisingly, the palace was empty again - this time even the guards were absent, leaving the place quiet like a tomb - strolling through this cold crystal corridors was making her feel uneasy. Suddenly, sounds of footsteps filled the air. “Hello? Anybody there?” Xerox asked with trembling voice, but there was no answer.

Following the direction from where the sound was coming guided her through the private parts of the palace - every room had something beautiful to look at - unfortunately, there was little time to admire anything as the footsteps were getting quieter with every passing moment.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, she arrived at a closed door - oddly enough, this part of the building was rather battered - with old paint coming off the walls and small piles of rubble lying on the ground. The corridor itself was poorly lit, and the door looked like it could fall apart at any moment - a complete contrast with the beautiful chambers from before.

Holding her breath, Xerox pushed the door open, only to be blinded by the bright light. Regaining her vision, what she saw made her jaw drop. "What the...?" she was standing in the center of a large room, full of pony foals - some were crying, others calling for their parents - a few were laying on the floor, rocking forth and back - mumbling to themselves. “This is not right...”

“Indeed it’s not,” a deep calm voice responded from behind.

Turning around, she saw a blue alicorn staring sadly at the scene. “Princess Luna… Okey... dokey... arg... I should have known this is a dream,” she said, taking a defensive posture. She expected some sort of attack - after all, Luna was the master of this realm, if she wanted to she could probably tear her apart.

But nothing of the sort happened - Luna approached her in silence, with her eyes locked at the crying children. “Tell me one thing - are you happy?” she asked closing her eyes for a moment. “This is only the beginning.”

“Of what?”

“Of their suffering - suffering of the innocent-”

“And you were doing so well princess," Xerox interrupted, "We both know this is just a dream, so what are you trying to pull?”

“What you see, is not just any dream - it is the representation of the loneliness, pain, and suffering - these children have to endure after being removed from their parents.”

“Do you think I'm Pinkie Pie?!" Xerox said, her voice risen. "We only separated about ten foals because of their escape attempt - do your homework, before trying to manipulate-”

“FOOL!” Luna shouted, causing Xerox to trip over. “You don't even know what's going on, do you?! Your queen has given the order to separate ALL the children from the parents! What you see here is just a few - out of thousands!”

Xerox slowly got up, processing what Luna said - lying would be a silly thing to do as she could verify her words in a matter of minutes after waking up... Suddenly she recalled what the Flurry Heart 'caretakers' said - how every ‘reunification’ releases extreme amounts of love.

For a moment as regrets returned she was lost for words. "I... but..." Glancing at the crying children, she could feel tears slowly accumulating in her eyes - but suddenly, she violently shook her head. "No! Queen had no choice! We need love to survive-"

“And that justifies everything?!”

“Look! I don’t like it - but I am what I am!” Xerox shouted, looking Luna in the eyes. “If you think I will betray my kind, you are loco in the coco!

Luna smiled gently. “I see there is still some Pinkie Pie left in you."

"Grrr, don't remind me! And don't change the subject!"

"I mentioned her because she is many things... and to say that sometimes she is annoying would be putting it mildly,” she added, rolling her eyes, “but I know her heart is in the right place and I hope her memories include her morality..."

“Come again?”

"I can feel your struggle, I’ve been there myself,” her smile faded. “blinded by my own hatred I ignored all the signs and convinced myself that I was doing no harm… we both know how that turned out.”

“Trying to scare me? Seriously? Is this how you are going to plead for your subjects’ sake?”

“I am not pleading for their sakes... I am pleading for yours,” she sat down, as a single tear hit the dreamland’s floor. “Even after all this time I didn’t fully forgive myself for what I did, and it hurts - every single day. You may have convinced yourself you are doing the right thing, but when the reality strikes back - you won’t be able to look at yourself without feeling revulsion," the floor in front of Luna transformed into a mirror, showing her as Nightmare Moon, "trust me, I know...”

Xerox stood still, her mouth agape - having Pinkie’s memories, she knew Luna was still blaming herself for the ‘Nightmare Moon incident’ - but seeing the blue alicorn on her knees, crying, was the last thing she expected. She glanced at the mirror on the floor, and the image changed - showing what appeared to be the playground near Ponyville school, Pinkie was there playing with the kids, making everypony happy - after a few seconds, the view shifted back, revealing her changeling's face. Looking at her reflection was filling her heart with deep sorrow - Luna was right, no matter how hard she tried to deny it, Pinkie's moral compass was in her head, screaming that what she did, was wrong.

After what seemed like an eternity, Xerox sat down next to Luna, staring at the ground with teary eyes. "What do you expect me to do? Without the power of love, my fellow changelings will starve, what choice is there?"

“Thorax - he and his changelings, they can help you - we already asked him for assistance.”

“He is a traitor!”

“I realize Chrysalis probably filled you all with hatred towards him - but check Pinkie’s memories, and you will find out that was a lie...”

"But..." Xerox paused, as all of the sudden the ceiling was getting very bright, "what's going on?"

“You are about to wake up - please, follow the sound of your heart!"


Xerox was awakened by the loud noises coming from the nearby crib - Flurry Heart was crying. "Ehh... here we go again," she said morphing into Pinkie. Fortunately, it didn't take long to calm the little princess down this time. "Sweet dreams little one," she put the baby down and quietly approached the window.

Outside the moon was still on the horizon, illuminating the empty streets with gray and silver - at this hour, Chrysalis and most of the changelings should be still asleep. She approached the crib of sleeping Flurry Heart one more time and smiled. “Okey... dokey… little one - you are staying here,” she said, gently stroking the child’s mane. “Wish me luck - something tells me I’m gonna need it.”

With that, she slowly opened the door and glanced outside - fortunately, the corridor was clear of guards. “OK, here goes nothing…” she mumbled morphing into Chrysalis herself and started walking towards the dungeons.

Fortunately, the journey was uneventful, she passed a few changeling guards on the way, but the only reaction she got out of them was a respectful greeting. Minutes later, she arrived at her destination - most of the lights were out, and prisoners were asleep, that is - everyone but Cadance and Shining Armor - he was staring at the moon through the small cell window, while she was looking indifferently at the damp ground, her eyes wet and wide open.


A loud noise woke everyone as Cadance blasted from her bench, trying to grab the changeling through the bars - bending them slightly in the process. “MONSTER!” the Princess shouted with so much hatred that even Shining Armor took a step back.

“Easy there princess before you strain something in that cute body of yours,” Xerox said mockingly, trying to imitate Chrysalis as best as she could.

Cadance said nothing, she was just staring at the changeling - her eyes burning with rage. “Why did you come here?! To torture us some more?!” Twilight suddenly yelled.

“We are all going on a little stroll - I need to show you something,” ‘Chrysalis’ gave a sign to her guards - who started to chain the ponies - to be on the safe side, each cell had only two prisoners inside.

“I am not going anywhere until you give me back my daughter!” Cadance screamed, pushing away the guard who was trying to restrain her.

‘Chrysalis’ shook her head in frustration - it was evident Cadance was in bad shape, and her reactions were understandable - but if this plan was to work, she needed to do what the Queen would do - using her magic, she pushed Cadance and Shining Armor against the wall. “You - my dear princess - are in no position to demand anything!” she added as the guard chained both of them. “But don’t worry - that little devil of yours is perfectly fi-”


Her speech was interrupted by a sight of changeling guards flying through the air - before she realized what was happening, a blue blur knocked her off her hooves. “Catch me if you can freaks!” Rainbow Dash, managed to trick the guards somehow and was now on the loose.

‘Chrysalis’ tried firing her magic, but each time Rainbow dodged it or used one of the guards as a living shield - at this rate, all would be out cold in a matter of seconds. “Wait a second - I remember this! She called it 'Rainbow Belly Cyclon' - she showed that fighting trick to Spitfire and her friends a while ago - if memory serves, this should work…” she thought to herself and waited in anticipation. Fortunately, Rainbow was locked up with Fluttershy - who curled herself into a ball and just observed, posing no threat herself.

A few seconds later the last of the guards was lying unconscious on the ground. “Now it’s your turn queen!” Rainbow dashed towards ‘Chrysalis’ - who was firing her magic at her but still missing. She was about to discharge her final blast - but instead, a green energy flashed under her. That was Rainbow’s finishing move, designed specifically for bigger opponents - fly up, dodge, quickly slid down under the belly of the unsuspecting enemy, grab it by the tail and throw it to the nearby wall, or twist it around - whatever works best against the foe.

However this time it was Dash who was caught off guard - she crashed head on, into the magical barrier - normally she would just bounce off, but this shield was small and perfectly localized - it felt like hitting a brick wall. “Oww… what, just, happened…?” she asked as the world was spinning around her.

‘Chrysalis’ responded with a grin, while chaining her. “You gave a pretty impressive show Mrs. Dash - quite entertaining, but now it’s time to move - unless anybody else wanna play?” she glanced at the prisoners, but no one - not even Cadance - was in the mood to fight anymore. “Good - let’s go!”


The whole group arrived at the chamber where the Crystal Heart currently resided - guarded by a dozen changelings. “We are here; you are dismissed,” ‘Chrysalis’ said to the guards - causing some unrest, “don’t worry children, I’ll be fine. Do NOT try to enter here unless I call for you - no matter what you hear, understood?”

Reluctantly, changelings nodded in agreement and left the room - leaving the ‘Queen’ with - still chained ponies. “Phew… finally,” she said, locking the door behind them - only now she realized that pretending to be Chrysalis herself was very exhausting. “Let’s change into something more comfortable,” she added before morphing back to her real form.

“What is the meaning of this?” Twilight said with a frown.

“It’s… me - the ‘Pinkie’ changeling - sorry for the pretense but it was necessary,” Xerox said with an embarrassing grin, “I can help you restore your magic, but we need to act quickly-”

“Nice try Chrysalis,” Shining interrupted, “but whatever you are planning - we are not falling for it!”

“Shining, wait... let’s hear her out,” Twilight interjected - but her face had an expression of suspicion and distrust, it was getting more and more obvious that convincing ponies to help won’t be easy.

“Look... I’m super sorry for what happened, OK? I didn’t know what I was at the time - honest!” Xerox said while unchaining the prisoners. “I can’t turn back time, but I can disable the magic damper - if you help me.”

“For a moment, let’s say we believe you - what do you want from us?”

“To drain your magic - Chrysalis is using the power of the Crystal Heart. Earlier, when you shot me, the changeling magic embedded inside of me caused the backfire that temporarily disabled the Heart. That not only allowed us to invade but also to ‘realign’ the Heart’s magic - if we repeat the process you should be able to restore it to its former form.”

“You really think we are gonna fall for it Chrysalis?!” Shining interrupted slamming his hoof into the floor. “You discovered that the heart could be charged by ordinary magic and want to buy yourself some time - it's not gonna work!”

Xerox scanned the group - their faces were full of distrust, confusion, and suspicion - it was evident nopony believed her. “Please, I’m not Chrysalis! Would I risk unchaining you if I were-”

Suddenly, she fell over and stabbing pain shot from her muzzle. “LIES! Nothing but LIES - you FOAL-NAPPER!” Cadance was standing over her - her eyes burning and teeth clenched.

Before she could react - she felt a hit to her left side, followed by a hoof to the right, and then another, and another - the rest of the ponies surrounded her and joined the beating - only Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie stayed back - terrified at the sight. The last thing she saw was a pair of Applejack’s hooves closing in on her head - and then everything went black...


After regaining consciousness, Xerox found herself tied up by the chain - her body hurt all over and her normally green skin, was blue from bruises - surprisingly, however, her more severe wounds were all bandaged - she immediately recognized Fluttershy’s handiwork. Nearby - ponies were arguing what to do now.

“This is never gonna work! We are surrounded by thousands of changelings - once we step outside we gonna be spotted in an instance!”

“You got any better idea?”

“Well, first we need to-”

The argument went on - apparently, Shining Armor and Cadance wanted to risk hiding the Crystal Heart and calling for help, but Twilight was opposing. Most of the group just kept their distance - observing.

Fluttershy suddenly appeared in Xerox's field of view. “Um… are you feeling OK?” she asked calmly, glancing at her bruised body.

“I’m fine… more or less,” she said weakly and smiled, “thanks for patching me up.”

“How did you know it was her?” Pinkie Pie suddenly joined the conversation.

“Well, duh! I still got your memories silly - remember? I could recognize Fluttershy’s handiwork anywhere. Besides...” Xerox glanced at the still arguing crowd, and her smile faded, “I doubt anybody else would care enough about me at this point...”

In the other part of the room, the arguing just got louder as ponies took sides - Rarity joined Cadance and Shining Armor, trying to convince Twilight to try their plan, on the other hoof - Applejack and Rainbow Dash supported Twilight’s argument that they should focus on finding another way. Both groups were now arguing fiercely - with no sign of reaching an agreement anytime soon.

Pinkie and Fluttershy kept their distance from the crowd - both watching in horror as each ‘side’ was trying to outshout the other. Seeing this Xerox decided to give it one more shot, “Girls… help me stop this - while there is still time,” she said, her voice barely audible, “I know you don’t trust me but… … ...” all of a sudden she realized it was getting hard to breathe...





“Rest your head on my back!"


After regaining consciousness, she found herself leaning against Fluttershy. "Yes, that’s it… um - can you breath now?”

“Yes… thank... you,” Xerox responded, breathing heavily. “I can always count on you... I mean they... I...” clenching her teeth from pain, she gently pushed herself of Fluttershy’s, back onto the ground.

Meanwhile, Pinkie - who was observing the scene - approached slowly. “I... realize you don’t know the ‘real’ me guys,” Xerox said with teary eyes, “but please, believe me when I say - I’m sorry, I never meant for all this to happen…”

Pinkie glanced at the opposite side of the room - where the quarrel was still ongoing, then back at the crying changeling - in the meantime, Fluttershy did the same, and their eyes met. No words were exchanged, but both ponies nodded as they agreed on something.

Without further ado - Pinkie approached the sobbing creature and asked her with an uncharacteristically serious voice, “Okey... dokey... lokey - you still want to help us?” Xerox didn’t expect that question coming from Pinkie after what she did to her. The shock only allowed her to nod slightly in conformation. “Then prove it!”

She wiped tears off her face and put a small smile - she knew exactly what Pinkie expected to hear. “Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye!”

Pinkie’s mane suddenly inflated and a smile returned to her face - she nodded towards Fluttershy who was already standing by, with the key to the chains…


“Look - we don’t have time for this! We need to act now - enough time has been wasted already!” Cadance shouted.

Twilight responded with frustrated voice, “We don’t even know if we can move the heart in this condition! We need to-”

“Well let’s see then-”

“Cadance wait! You don’t-”

As Pinkie, Fluttershy and Xerox approached the group, ruckus was still ongoing - they tried to say something, but the noise was just too much - it was a miracle that the other changelings actually listened to their ‘queen’ and didn’t bother to check what the commotion was all about until now - but it was just a matter of time, not to mention that the real Chrysalis could show up at any moment.

“Let me try something guys,” Xerox said and tried turning into Princess Luna - at first only half of her body transformed due to injuries. She tried again, but the conversion was still incomplete. Frustrated, she tried one last time - the effort made her stumble for a moment, but it paid off - the morph was complete.

“Here it goes,” she took a deep breath - aimed her muzzle at the arguing ponies and shouted using the ‘royal voice.' “EVERYPONY QUIET!”

Immediately, the argument died down as ponies covered their ears. “Luna! How did you get here?!” Twilight was first to regain her composure.

“I am afraid she didn’t,” Xerox said, morphing back to her original form. “That was the only way to make you stop arguing - sorry.”

Rainbow and Applejack glanced at each other, and before anybody else could react, they started charging at the changeling. Her heart sunk - the prospect of other broken bones was not appealing, but due to her injuries, there was no way she could evade the attack. She closed her eyes and waited for the pain... but it didn't come. Lifting her eyelids, she saw Fluttershy and Pinkie in front of her - blocking the attackers.

“Out of the way guys!” Rainbow shouted but both mares stood their ground.

“No Rainbow!" Pinkie said, using that unsarcastically serious voice again. "She pinkie-promised to help us, and we believe her - she is a friend now!”

Everybody was stunned once again, this time including Xerox herself - being called a friend was the last thing she expected. The momentary silence allowed ponies to calm down a little - only now, after glancing at her broken body, they were starting to grasp what they did to the poor creature.

Twilight and Cadance approached, exchanging some whispers - they both realized that the changeling could have called in her guards if she wanted to, but didn’t - this, plus the fact that neither alicorn had a real plan what to do - was finally enough to give her the benefit of the doubt. “All right, if Pinkie and Fluttershy trust you… so shall we… what do you want us to do?”

“We need to repeat the procedure you did earlier when you tried to purge changeling’s magic out of me,” Xerox pointed at the Crystal Heart.

"How am I supposed to initiate the energy burst if my magic is disabled?"

"The damper cannot completely block your powers - if you concentrate it should work; true, the beam will be super-duper weak, but once it passes through the Heart, its energy should intensify. That should be enough to remove the damper. After that, Cadance and Shining should be able to repel the invasion using the same spell as during the wedding incident-”

“But… won’t the spell affect you as well?”

“Probably… but that’s the only way,” being blasted by an energy barrier was not something she was looking for, but what choice was there? “We don’t have time to argue," she tried to move, but was stumbling, "Um... Pinkie, Fluttershy, could you help me? My legs are teensy-weensy weak...”

The two mares didn’t have to be asked twice - with their help, Xerox made it near the heart, and soon everybody was ready - however before they could begin...

BAM! ... BAM! ... BAM!


“Oh, nononono. Not good, not good, not good!” Xerox shouted with an agitated voice. “That’s exactly what I was afraid of - shoot your magic, hurry!”

Twilight quickly concentrated and just like Xerox said, a very weak beam shot from her horn and through the Crystal Heart. “ARGH! OH GOSH IT HURTS…” just like before thick smoke coming from changeling’s body began to fill the air, as she was shaking from shock.

Seeing in how much pain she was, Fluttershy screamed. “We must stop this-”

“NO!” Xerox interrupted. “No matter what happens you m..must…” suddenly energy discharge shot from her body, into the center of the Crystal Heart. “… it… is… done…” she managed to mumble before collapsing to the floor...

Chapter 7 - Darkness and the Light

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Slowly, the smoke started to settle - revealing the lifeless body of Xerox; seconds later Chrysalis and her army broke down the door - swarming the chamber.

The Queen approached her broken child with an expression of disbelief. “What have you done...” she said, as a tear escaped her eyes.

For a moment the room went silent - Chrysalis has crouched over the body on the floor - frozen from shock, and her changelings didn't know what to do. Suddenly she got up, and her grief turned to anger. “You are gonna pay! Argh!” she screamed, discharging her magic.


A blinding flash filled the chamber, followed by some smoke. “Round them up! I want all of them to... WHAT?!” Chrysalis shouted in surprise when a pink energy field emerged from the settling dust.

Shining Armor managed to put up his shield just in time. “How is that possible?! No matter - break through that barrier my subjects!” immediately a few dozen changelings swarmed the shield, pounding on it like there was no tomorrow.

“Uh, guys - could you fire that spell of yours already?” Rainbow asked, glancing nervously at the attacking swarm.

“We need time to… charge up,” Shining responded with some effort, keeping up the barrier was taking its toll, “Twili - you need to take over.”

Twilight didn’t have to be told twice - her horn immediately lit up and seconds later she was in control, however… “Arg… guys - hurry up! I don’t know how long I can hold it!”

Cadance and Shining were working as fast as they could, but soon a crack formed in the barrier, followed by another, and another - it was getting obvious the shield won't hold long enough. “Twilight - let me out!” Rainbow shouted, taking a combat stance. “I will buy you as much time as I can!”

“No way ya ahr goin' out there alone partner,” Applejack added, glancing at Rainbow with a smile, “ready when ya ahr Twi!”

The rest of the gang - even Fluttershy - quickly followed and waited for the princess to make her move - Twilight, however, was lost in thoughts. Glancing at the swarm outside, it was looking more like a suicide mission… but what other choice was there? At this rate, the shield would be gone in a matter of moments anyway. “Alright… I will try to blast them spherically - you should have about two seconds before I re-establish the barrier. Rarity, when I discharge my magic - use yours to blind them, that should give you a few seconds to get into positions,” Twilight said, and everypony nodded in agreement.

Moments later they put their plan into action - Twilight went first, dropping the shield for a millisecond, only to blast the charging changelings with an orb of energy. Rarity was next - dazzling the attackers with light from her horn, allowing everypony else to take their position.

Rainbow and Fluttershy took the sky - the former knocking changeling after changeling with her agility and speed, while the latter working as a decoy - with the use of her ‘stare’ she was able to confuse the attackers, who were flying into the walls and hitting each other in the process. The land was left to the rest of the team - both Pinkie and Applejack were bucking and kicking every enemy that got too close - while Rarity was making sure nobody got behind them, zapping every changeling with her magic. Thanks to their distractions Twilight was able to regenerate her magic quickly, and for a moment it was looking like they will make it.

Unfortunately, good fortune didn’t last long - since Rarity was fighting all by herself, she was first to be overwhelmed - quickly followed by Pinkie Pie who tried to help her. Applejack was able to stand her ground for a few more seconds, knocking out several changelings in the process - until a powerful hit from the sideway knocked her off balance - before she could get up, a dozen attackers pinned her to the ground.

Rainbow was no better off - her speed gave her the upper hand initially, but now she was being surrounded by a few dozen changelings trying to keep her away from their brethren pounding on the shield. With a sharp turn around the nearby pillar, she gained enough speed to punch through the blockade and clean the barrier of any changelings one more time, before being knocked out of the fight.

Mostly ignored at first, Fluttershy was the last - now alone and cornered, all she could do was use her ‘stare’ to paralyze the attackers. "Oh, we don't have time for this! Here little pony, watch this!" Chrysalis said, morphing into a dragon right before her eyes! Fluttershy's pupils widened, as she involuntarily covered her head - seconds later changelings swarmed her, and it was over.


The changelings quickly chained the captures ponies together as Chrysalis turned to Shining and Cadance with a grin. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” she said, attaching the chain to herself, “if you force us out, I am taking your friends with me - and believe me they will NOT enjoy the trip.”

Twilight glanced at her brother, and he glanced back - they both knew that their friends would most likely not survive the flight (according to reports Chrysalis barely survived it herself the last time - and her body is much more resilient than that of any normal pony). Even if they would - being prisoners of the Queen was not something anypony was looking for... On the other hoof, they were only five versus thousands of ponies in the Empire.

She was shattered - logic clearly dictated that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, but her heart was telling her different story - the fate of the entire country rested on her shoulders and she couldn’t decide, only glancing forth and back at her friends and the queen. She closed her eyes just as tears began flowing them. “I’m sorry - we can’t-”


Suddenly bright flashes and some smoke filled the room again - followed by the sound of fighting. “Get her off me!” when the smoke subsided... two queens were on the floor struggling against each other as both ponies and changelings were watching the scene with confusion.

“What are you waiting for?! Get her off me!” one of the Chrysalis yelled.

“No! Get HER off ME! I’m the real one!” the other added.

The changelings just glanced at each other not knowing what to do - both figures were identical in every detail, and there was no way to tell who was the imposter, their attention shifted when one noticed the ponies running towards Twilight, their chain broken. “Capture them you, idiots!” Chrysalis shouted, this time her subjects reacted immediately - but, so did Twilight.


She dropped the shield and discharged her horn on the approaching swarm knocking several attackers to the ground - allowing Rarity and Applejack to enter the range of the barrier - however, more changelings were already on the way. “Hurry!” she screamed, firing another volley.

Soon everypony was close enough; Twilight was reestablishing her shield when suddenly one of the attackers knocked Pinkie away - just as the barrier went up, she was pinned to the ground by a dozen angry changelings.

In the meantime, both queens were still struggling. “Child - you are forcing me to do THIS!” one of them said, and her horn began to glow green.

“Aaarg!” the other screamed as she dropped on the floor, clenching her head.


Chrysalis stood over the suffering Xerox, with the expression of disbelief. “Child... why?!”

“I know what you did! Separating children from parents and making them suffer, just so you could harvest more love during the ‘reunification’!” she snapped, fighting the pain the Queen was causing. “No..pey-dopey... I would rather starve to death than have any part in this…”

Chrysalis shook her head, her mouth slightly agape - she was not used to her subjects questioning her. “Those ponies lied to you child, you know how it goes-”

“I know how it goes, all right! Other changelings confirmed everything so save your breath! If you think I will let you hurt my friends, then you are loco in the coco!”

In the meantime, other changelings brought Pinkie into the presence of the Queen. “Her memories corrupted you… but I will give you one more chance,” she said, turning to Pinkie with a grin. “Tell me Mrs. Pie - do you know what happens when changeling magic collides with some energy field?" Pinkie shook her head. "The shield gets HOT!” she added as her horn began to glow.

Moments later a beam of energy hit the shield and produced some sparks and sizzle - no visible damage could be seen, but everyone in the room felt the heat wave emanating from the barrier.

Xerox gave her queen a surprised look. “Why did you do that? Nobody will be able to touch that shield now without getting burned.”

“Because…” Chrysalis's magic intensified again - this time concentrating on Xerox, “you are going to bake us some… PIE!”

“NO! Please don’t! AAAAA…” she screamed from pain as the mind control spell was starting to work - to keep order in the hive, every queen had the ability to mind control every changeling drone if necessary, Chrysalis rarely used it, but this time she was out of options.

“Good… you know what to do child, GO!” she pointed at Pinkie.

“Arr… I can’t… I must-” Xerox tried to resist her queen with every shred of sanity she had left, but it was a losing battle.

Suddenly she felt another wave of agony emanating from the top to the rest of her body and second later she was no longer in control - her hooves moving on their own. “No… Pinkie…” she mumbled, her voice barely audible - as her magic levitated the confused pink pony from the ground…

A moment later the stench of burning fur mixed with frying meat filled the air. “Arggg! Hot, hot, hot, HOT! It burns! Make it stop!” Pinkie screamed as her left side was pushed against the heated shield - other ponies just stared from inside the barrier with horror as their friend was being cooked alive.

After a few seconds of agony, Chrysalis ordered her changeling to stop. “So princess, will you drop that barrier or do you want me to show you my recipe for Pinkie ‘PIE’?” Her horn got brighter again - commanding Xerox to resumed the torture.

“I’m sorry… I can’t control it…” she whispered with teary eyes, shifting her victim to the other side, and pushing her against the shield again.

Immediately, Pinkie uttered a yelp as her body took the heat - inside the barrier, ponies were restless. Fluttershy curled up on the floor with her hooves on her head, Rarity and Applejack were both frozen in place - unable to comprehend what was happening. Cadance and Shining were trying to concentrate, but to no avail - only Rainbow Dash and Twilight kept their heads - the former arguing to let her out - but it was impossible.

“I see you prefer to have some pink pie for dinner - let's heat up the oven!” Chrysalis said as another beam of energy hit the shield - increasing the temperature even more. “I hope you like your pies, extra crispy because-”

Queen’s speech was interrupted by a ray of magic flying just right above her muzzle. “Grr, who dares to…? You?!” her jaw dropped momentarily when she saw that the attacker was none other than smiling Princess Flurry Heart. “Who let that baby out?! Grab her!”

Dozen changelings launched into the air, trying to catch the little alicorn… only to crash into each other when she teleported out of the way with a giggle. The second squadron was trying to be more clever, splitting into two groups - the first trying to round her up, while the second waiting for the right moment - however, just when they dashed for the capture, they all ended up hitting the pink shield Flurry established for herself.

Finally after a few more seconds playing ‘cat and mouse,’ one changeling got lucky. “I got her… I… uh-oh - your highness I think she is gonna-”

“WHHHHAAAAA!!” the outcry of Flurry Heart filled the entire chamber, producing about 150 dB and forcing everybody in the room - even Chrysalis - to cover their ears from pain. She managed to recover only after creating the sphere of silence around the crying baby, which was flying freely around the room again.

“Arg… you little brat - when I catch you-”

“Your Majesty!” Xerox shouted to her queen - thanks to the distraction, she was able to regain control and was now standing near one of the windows.

Chrysalis turned around with a smile. “You are right, leave that worthless earth pony - grab the little fluffy alicorn instead!” she added with a grin but Xerox didn’t budge. “What are you waiting for, child?”

“I’m super duper sorry queen but… this ends here,” she said to Chrysalis and then turned towards the burned Pinkie Pie who was now sitting idly nearby the shield, “Pinkie, use the ‘auntie Pie’ technique on Flurry Heart now and... never stop smiling!” she added, pushing herself out of the window...


“NO!” Chrysalis screamed dashing towards her subject - but when she arrived all she could do was to listen to the loud thud of her child hitting the ground below. With her mouth agape, she just stared motionless at Xerox’s body with the rest of her army looking at the sight over her shoulder.

In the meantime Pinkie’s shock subsided, wiping tears from her eyes and fighting the pain from her previous injuries, she started to make one of her’s ‘Come to Auntie Pie!’ stunts and quickly got the attention of - still distracted - Flurry Heart. Before any changeling noticed - both she and the little princess were inside the shield, lifting everypony’s spirits.

Finally, Chrysalis snapped out of her pondering. “DESTROY THAT SHIELD NOW!” she roared with a voice full of menace, and again all the changelings started pounding the barrier (which was cooler now, since Twilight reestablished it to let in Pinkie and Flurry Heart) - the Queen herself joined in, firing blast after blast.

But with the return of Flurry Hear - Cadance and Shining were immediately filled with the new willpower to fight, as well as the magic of love to power the spell. “Buckle up Chrissie. 'Cause you're goin' for a ride!” Shining said with a grin just as the spell discharged, pushing the changelings out of the Empire. A few seconds later the magic died down, and the chamber was filled with peaceful silence...

Chapter 8 - Remember Me

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Ponies slowly made their way to the bottom of the palace, carrying the fading Crystal Heart with them - it needed to be recharged quickly, but following what happened, that shouldn’t be a problem. After freeing some ‘servants’ on the way, they ordered them to go and inform the rest of the population to gather near the palace as soon as possible and to bring the children separated by the changelings with them.

Emerging from one of the pillars, the group immediately noticed an angry mob nearby. “Your highness!” one of the ponies called, bowing in respect, “one of the changelings is still here!” he pointed his hoof at the nearby crowd.

Shining frowned in surprise - their magic should have repelled every changeling from the Empire - before he could analyze the situation a sound of something flying over his head filled his ears.

“Fluttershy! What-” Twilight yelled towards the yellow pegasus but was interrupted almost immediately by the loud thud, as Fluttershy landed at the center of the mob.

The group quickly galloped towards the crowd trying to comprehend what Fluttershy was up to, when suddenly... “EVERYPONY BACK AWAY!” her scream forced the mob to step back in fear.

Only when they arrived near the creature, they realized that the changeling the crowd was about to lynch, was, in fact, the same one that freed them, and helped them fight Chrysalis. She was still alive but barely - her body was mangled, hooves twisted in unnatural angles and some blood was leaking from her muzzle. Apparently, she wanted to morph into Pinkie again, but only half of her body did.

“You heard her - please back away,” Cadance said, trying to calm down the crowd. Initially, some ponies wanted to protest, but seeing the alicorns as well as element bearers protecting the creature, quickly made that desire go away - soon the mob dispersed, leaving Xerox and rest of the group alone.


“Did… it work?” Xerox asked with a weak voice. “Is she gg..one?”

Pinkie answered with a small smile. “Yes, indeedy - thanks to you.”

“Pinkie… I’m so sorry - she forced me to… to…” tears of shame began to flow from her eyes. “Can you forgive me…?”

“Well, duh! Of course, I forgive you, silly!” Pinkie grinned, while gently hugging the changeling. “You pinkie-promised and you delivered - that makes you a friend in my book!”

Xerox stopped crying and smiled weakly. “A fr..iend? Really? “

“Of course silly! When you get better, I’m gonna throw you a big party!”


“There will be streamers and confetti will be flying everywhere!”

“Pinkie… I”

“Oh silly me! You got my memories right?! Remember those special cupcakes I made for Applejack last year? I will make them for you-”

Pinkie’s tirade was interrupted by a gentle poke from Fluttershy - the pegasus sighed heavily and with a sad expression and closed eyes slowly shook her head. "Oh... I..." Pinkie finally got the message, and her mane deflated immediately. For a moment only the heavy breathing of the dying creature could be heard - getting slower and more labored as time went on.

Cadance broke the silence. “I am… sorry for everything - we all are, we should have listened to you from the start… please forgive us,” she said with a shaky voice, putting her head down in shame - her action quickly followed by the rest of the group.

Xerox smiled weakly. “Don't be a silly filly, now - of course, I forgive you all, what are friends for - we are friends... right?” she ask with fading voice - others nodded, and a weak smile appeared on her face. “I… would like to ask a favor...”

“What can we do for you?”

Trying to respond she cough up some more blood. “Just… stay with me…” another bloody cough, “please… I’m scared... of dying alone-”

"No! It can't end like this!" Pinkie interrupted with teary eyes. "Twilight, Cadance, d-do something... please..."

"I'm afraid... It's teensy-weensy too late... for that... even magic has its limits..." Xerox whispered, "but it's OK Pinkie, it's OK..."

"No, it's not! You can't just... just..." before Pinkie could finish she started sobbing uncontrollably and embraced Xerox with a warm hug. The rest of the group did the same and sat nearby their new friend - their faces filled with sadness and despair.

After what seemed like an eternity, Xerox turned to Pinkie. “Pinkie - I need you to be strong… make everybody happy again.”

“I… don’t know if I can…”

Xerox looked Pinkie in her sad eyes and started humming softly.

“It's true some days are dark and lo..nely

And maybe you fe..el sad-”

Pinki involuntarily joined in and took over.

“But Pinkie will be there to show you that it isn't that bad

There's one thing that makes me happy and makes my whole life worthwhile

And that's when I talk to my friends and get them to smile...”

“Yes… like that. Pro..mise me - promise; you will make our friends hap..py again and… that you will smile too.”

Pinkie sighed heavily. “Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye...”

“Okey... dokey... lokey... I think I will take a nap now… so tired…” Xerox closed her eyes and put her head down; with every intake of air her breath was getting slower and slower until it stopped completely a few minutes later.

Lying on the cold, palace floor - she looked so peaceful, almost as if she was sleeping. Embracing her body, they let a torrent of tears to soak through their furs, as reality set in. She was gone. “We will never forget you…” they thought in unison, mourning for the lost friend.


After the ceremony to recharge the Crystal Heart and assessing the damage done to the Empire, the sun was already setting over the horizon - Twilight and her friends decided to wait until the next day before returning home, and Cadance offered them a place in the palace.

Twilight was in one of the guest rooms, reading some of her Daring Do books to unwind after the last few days - unfortunately, she knew this one from inside out, and was getting bored already. “Hmm, perhaps there is something else here to read,” she put the book away and trotted to the nearby bookshelf, which was standard equipment of every room in the palace.

After about a minute she was disappointed to find out that she already knew all of the available titles - shooking her head in frustration, she turned towards the bed when something sticking from under it caught her eye. “What do we have here…” she said, levitating the object with her magic, “a notebook? No, that looks like… Pinkie’s journal?”

Twilight opened the diary and immediately realized that Xerox had written down her whole story. She quickly located the first entry and with a mix of excitement and sadness, started to read.

“Last few days were weird, to say the least - oh, and I don’t mean weird like when I used the pond to clone myself, or when Twilight was trying to analyze my ‘pinkie sense’ - I mean super-duper weird! Like when Discord turned Ponyville upside down or when changelings attacked Canterlot…”