Renaissance

by Fleur_de_Lis

First published

In a war between the empires of the Sun and the Moon, there isn't much room for a middle ground. But The Peace Corps manages to do just that. Fleur de Lis however, wants to take the middle ground even further.

The Solar Empire... It was less than six months ago that it was still known as Western Equestria. The invasion of the Changeling Nation broke Princess Celestia mentally, and she became Daybreaker, God Empress of the Solar Empire. They won the war against the changelings, but at what cost? Princess Luna defected in an epic battle with her now-tyrant of a sister, which destroyed Canterlot in the process, and caused her to change back into Nightmare Moon. And thus she created the Lunar Empire after escaping from the battle with her life. And in doing so, created a civil war between West and East, Sun and Moon, ...pony and pony. Friendships were both severed and forged, ponies and other species both separating and joining hands to stand on one side or the other, either with Empress Daybreaker, or with Empress Nightmare Moon.

But then there was the outliers, as there is in every situation involving two sides. Ponies and other species who either wanted no part in the war or the politics that came with it, or wanted to find a way to either lessen the casualties caused, or end it altogether. Every species who felt that way escaped Equestria and took refuge in the Crystal Empire, which had become a neutral ground. Princess Cadance, with Fluttershy's help, and at her request, formed an army of her own. The Peace Corps. A collection of ponies and other species alike who were serious about helping those they cared about that were or might become hurt or worse by the war, and that wanted to stop the war from the inside.

Chapter I: Stranger

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Act I: Terminus ut Exordium
Chapter I: Stranger

War. War changes everything.

This thought, although it had come to her mind before, rang through Fleur de Lis' mind louder than ever before as she quickly copied the Lunar Empire's battle plans onto a separate parchment with a simple copy spell. She couldn't remember how many days it had been since the war between the Solar and Lunar empires had begun. All she could remember was the work she had undertaken once it did. Stories of mares partaking in adventures of cloak and dagger had always intrigued her as a filly. And to be able to perform such missions for a righteous cause was a thrill in and of itself, but she never let that go to her head. She always kept in mind why she was doing it, lest she stray from her path. Ponies like her walked a road that lay between two other paths, but she knew that those would only lead her to ruin. And besides, she wasn't one to blindly follow the desires of others. Everything she did was of her own volition, her own choice, and her decision was to walk the thin gray line between justice and punishment, light and dark, ...day and night.

She shook her head and focused as she rolled up the parchment containing the copied battle plans and put it in the scroll bag on her left thigh. The mission came first, she could ponder upon other things afterwards. Her work was too important for her to get caught up in philosophical strings of thought in the middle of a mission.

Information gathering was always the easiest of missions, especially when you were considered a member of the army you were getting the information from. It was sneaking in and out of the tent where the information was kept that was the hard part. Luckily, she had been born with a horn. Magic always did seem to make things much easier than they otherwise would be.

Using a thermal vision spell, she was glad to see that the guards she had sent off with words of an intruder were still gone. She swiftly exited the tent, and with hurried but calm steps she began to make her way back to the center of camp, where some soldiers were chatting amongst themselves about advice on weapon usage, and others were eating.

She took a deep breath and let it out slowly, leaning against a lantern post, the light of the flame in the glass and metal dancing off of her pale pink mane and white fur. In her line of work, most ponies couldn't hide in plain sight everywhere they went. But she was a different kind of mare. Her horn glowed as she stood straight off of the lantern post, and she grabbed her double-bladed glaive from her back, the magnetism disabled by her magic.

She knelt on the ground as her free hand reached into her hip pouch, grabbing a whetstone. She began to sharpen the edges of her blades just a little, knowing they couldn't have dulled that much since the last time she wielded it. She didn't know what drew her to glaives, if it was the stylishness of the attack patterns and drills or simply the look of the weapons themselves, she couldn't tell.

Anypony who was in her line of work would have been able to tell that she was stalling. But she was doing it for a good reason, rather than out of simple laziness or cowardice. She was waiting, waiting for her chance to do things without having to worry about being asked an array of questions or getting caught. It was essential for her to carry out the rest of her plan and get away undetected.

She was to be a stranger, who let them think they knew her. She wondered for a moment what the Solar Empire would do with the intel she had just acquired. Daybreaker was both ruthless and efficient in her planning and carrying out of attacks, having intel on exactly where the Lunar Empire was sending, and already had troops; would allow her to easily grasp a vicious victory.

Time always seemed to pass slower in moments like the one she was in. She was ready, but forced to wait. It made her a little anxious, but she knew that patience was a virtue, especially in her line of work. It did give her time to pause and think however, still sharpening her glaive's blades all the while. She found herself feeling... a little nostalgic for some reason.

...I wonder how mum and mom are doing. I hope they aren't having a hard time with me being gone almost all the time... She took a deep breath, setting her whetstone on her thigh for a moment. Her now free left hand came to rest on her right arm, covered by a mix of cloth, chainmail, and ultra light plate like her left. I left right after I was conscripted... It's been so long since I've seen them, and so long since I've been home. I miss them. ...I miss my room too, ...and my car.

Fleur snapped out of her thoughts, back to focusing on her current situation. She knew it was only a matter of time before she could make her next move. It wasn't officially part of her mission, but she had always considered herself a bit of a heroine. And so, she'd personally added it to the list of objectives in her mind. Come on, give me the distraction I need... It should be about time for it to happen, I know the intel I received was accurate, but it didn't state the exact minute that-

"THE SOLAR EMPIRE IS CHARGING! EVERYPONY GET TO YOUR STATIONS!!!"

There it is. Fleur smirked as she pocketed her whetstone and stood up. She brought her glaive around to attach itself to the magnets on her back once again, and her feet began to move once more. She knew where she was going because she had seen it on her way to the intelligence tent, and knew that under an attack it wouldn't be guarded. It was time to initiate part two of her operation.

Helping those who cannot help themselves.

Chapter II: Young Mares Dead

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Act I: Terminus ut Exordium
Chapter II: Young Mares Dead

Fleur couldn't help but grumble under her breath as she laid eyes upon her destination. There was still one Lunar guard keeping watch over the prisoners. She wasn't expecting them to play it safe with a charge from the Solar Empire baring down on them. She was hoping every last one of them would have went to the front lines to fight, making her job at least two times easier. But it didn't matter. ...She had a few tricks up her sleeve.

The guard looked confused as she walked up to him, swaying her hips and sashaying her tail left and right in the opposite directions of her hips' movements. He spoke up as she got four feet away. "What are you doing here? Why aren't you out on the front lines, soldier? We need every mare and stallion possible to be out there defending this town!" It was easy to tell he was obviously rather passionate about his status as a guard and a soldier.

Fleur smirked. "A mare as pretty as me getting covered in more blood than she needs to be? Don't you think that's a bit unfair~?" She walked a couple feet closer, leaning forward a little to allow him to see her cleavage better. "I'm supposed to take your place, they want you out there. So, why don't you go fight for our cause, and when you get back, we'll have some fun~?" She stepped forward once more, groping his crotch, which was only covered by leather.

The guard blushed a deep shade of crimson, his wings popping out at Fleur's advances. "O-Oh boy!" He clears his throat. "I'll be back as soon as possible, beautiful!" He knelt down before jumping and flapping his wings hard, shooting into the air before beginning to fly towards the battlefield. "FOR THE LUNAR EMPIRE!" His halberd was at the ready as he took off, ready to make airstrikes like he'd just been waiting for the chance.

Fleur couldn't help but chuckle. Too easy. She quickly made her way over to the Solar prisoners, some in cages and others tied up on the ground. She pulled out her glaive and cut the ones on the ground free first. "Go, go! God Empress Daybreaker is unleashing a full scale charge against the Lunar troops here, it's only a matter of time before they fall back, you need to be out of town before then!"

The prisoners were confused at first, seeing the colours Fleur was wearing, but nodded shortly after she called Daybreaker by her proper title. Only a member of the Solar Empire would call her by that, and that earned their trust. Her horn glowed as she imbued her glaive with fire, the edges of it's blades heating up as the prisoners that were on the ground began to make their escape.

With precise strikes she was able to get the locks off of the cages one by one, most of the prisoners catching on quick and making a run for it as soon as their cages were open. All except one mare who was having trouble standing, her right leg and stomach in makeshift bandages made from torn cloth. She looked up at Fleur with golden orange eyes that complimented her blue fur, letting out a small laugh before having to cough. She cleared her throat of the blood. "L-Long time no see, Miss Lis..."

"Sassy...! W-What did they do to you?!" Fleur dropped her glaive by her side as she knelt before her fellow fashionista, the flames and heat on it's blades dissipating with the glow of her horn doing the same. The ex-model's breath became shaky as she looked upon her friend's wounded form. Fleur moved next to Sassy, helping the mare lift her right arm over her shoulders, hooking her other arm around Sassy's back and under her left arm, before using her magic to bring her glaive to her own right hand.

As Fleur lifted her up, Sassy chuckled weakly. "I was... sent to make sure the sets of armor for the Solar Empire's troops were in perfect order... and to take down notes on how to improve them if they weren't... And then the Lunar soldiers ambushed my caravan, I-I... God Empress Daybreaker is going to think I'm a failure, she'll have me fired and punished, or worse!" She coughed again, a little of her blood getting on the chainmail over Fleur's left forearm.

Fleur could only give the boutique manager turned partial armorsmith a look of worry. "Shh... Just relax Sassy, let me be your right leg, ...and the blade that protects you tonight." She didn't mean for that to sound charming, but Sassy blushed deep scarlet none the less, remaining silent. "Let's get you somewhere safe, and on an airship back home..." Fleur was glad she took the time to remember the layout of the town, knowing just what roads would make for the fastest way out, trying to comfort Sassy along the way with gentle but concerned smiles.

She looked off towards the battle, thinking about the prisoners she'd just saved, hoping they would take better care of their lives, having been given a second chance. Every day ponies were wounded and killed on the front lines of the battles that the Equestrian Civil War had brought to the land. Some of them were only at the beginning of adulthood, having been conscripted right when they became of age.

Young mares and stallions laid dead after every battle, their futures ripped from them like bark from a tree. The trenches and no mare's lands sang silent songs of sorrow for the innocent lives taken by the war. But she knew why they fought. She understood all too well why they fought, believing that peace could only be obtained by following their cause to the end, despite how bitter they knew the end would be. They were fighting to protect their old lives. To protect and the lands they called home and the ponies that were their friends and family.

Fleur looked ahead as they passed behind a small building, feeling both grief and dread in equal measure. And yet she couldn't shake the solemn hymn that she felt in that moment, letting it out in spoken word. "Run for the hills, pick up your feet and let's go... We did our jobs, pick up speed now let's move..." She swallowed hard and grit her teeth a little. She wanted it all to end, the separation, the spilling of blood, the withering away of the lands and buildings of Equestria.

Sassy spoke softly, but Fleur listened close. "...I remember that song. Wasn't it... inspired by the war with the Changeling Nation? Wasn't the next line..." She took a slow but deep breath, letting it out shakily. "Hold on tight, yes, hold on tight, you're too slow..." She coughed again, furrowing her brow and looking sad upon seeing she got more of her blood on Fleur's armor. "I guess I'm the one who's too slow now..."

Fleur sighed. "Sassy, don't demean yourself. It wasn't your fault, none of it was. You were doing your job, it's the Lunar Empire that ruined it, ...and did a number on you." She furrowed her own brow. "I'm here for you Sassy, please, just relax. I'm getting you out of here, even if I have to walk through Tartarus to do it." She looked adamant, looking ahead with an intense expression that showed Sassy the fire in the former model's eyes, and the boutique manager nodded gently, remaining quiet once again.

Fleur could only hear the solemn hymn from a past war, feeling like it still rang true for the one they were currently in. "And you were wrong by the way... that wasn't the next line. That's the one after..." She took another deep breath.

"The trees can't grow without the sun in their eyes... and we can't live if we're too afraid to die..."

Chapter III: The Dualist

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Act I: Terminus ut Exordium
Chapter III: The Dualist

The Crystal Empire. The only place of true solace left after the war in Equestria began. The sun beat down hard upon the land, every day as hot as the last. Every pony Fleur walked past was either using a hand fan, standing in front of a fan, or nearby one. The Crystal Palace loomed over Crystal City with it's stature, but did so in a comforting way, as if to tell the citizens old and new that they were safe no matter what side of Equestria they had come from. It was neutral ground, no battles were held upon the land, and refugees from both Equestrian empires were welcomed with open arms.

Fleur was on her way to The Obsidian Leaf: one of, if not the most successful teahouse, in Crystal City. She'd been there many times before, to the point that they knew her usual order: Chai with just a hint of chocolate syrup; and made it for her on sight. The reason why she went there so much was only known to the pony she was going there to meet. A certain purple unicorn with mint streaks in her purple mane.

Fleur took her seat outside the cafe, giving a kind wave inside, seeing the ponies already beginning to brew her cup. She smiled for a moment, always impressed by their service, before pulling a book entitled The Elements and You: Spells of Ice and Fire out of her hip satchel. She read a few pages before her cup of tea was brought out to her, giving the server a tip for the excellent service.

Just as she was about to take a sip of her Chai however, a figure in an almost regal robe sat down in the chair across from her, waving inside as well. "Good morning, Fleur." The voice was calculated but casual at the same time, but also sweet as ever. The mare pulled her hood down, her purple and mint green mane on display. "I take it you had a busy night? Eight prisoners somehow escaped from the garrison at Dodge City, and the guard that was supposed to be watching them was apparently too ashamed to admit what happened."

"Starlight, can't you ever just, ask me how my morning has been? Or how I'm feeling? Does it always have to be about business?" She raised a hand, seeing Starlight about to make a rebuttal. "Ah-ah-ah, I know what you're going to say, 'These meet ups are for business.' I'm just trying to say, I would have at least complimented you on how nice your mane looks today before I asked you what the Lunar Empire thought about the missing prisoners, one of which had her leg broken in three places and a spear wound in her stomach. That mare being one of my close friends."

Starlight looked unsettled by Fleur's enlightening statement, looking full of regret, and seeming to struggle with finding something to say in return. "...Fleur, I would never wish that upon anyone, especially not someone you care about, but... this is war we're talking about. Casualties are going to happen whether we like it or not, that's just one of the realities of battle." Starlight could empathize with Fleur, but she was also logical enough to not let her emotions blind her. "She must have fought ba-"

"She didn't." Fleur had taken a sip from her cup as Starlight spoke, setting it down as she spoke in return. "She didn't fight. She ran. She ran for her life. And one of your soldiers- excuse me, degenerates, instead of simply catching up to her and capturing her without harming her, decided to inflict those injuries upon her even as she begged him not to. She was defenseless! She doesn't even know a single offensive spell!"

She noticed she was raising her voice a little too much, and resigned to taking another sip of her tea, relaxing the fingers in her free hand, having balled them into a fist. "I... Sorry... The last thing I wanted to do was get mad at you for something a sick and twisted stallion did. ...He's dead now anyways." She took another sip of her Chai as she let the realisation sink into the purple unicorn's mind. "He got what he deserved, me sticking my glaive through his stomach."

Starlight looked almost livid, before she took a deep breath, her voice still stern but at a level volume. "You did what...?! Fleur, you can't just kill some pony because they wronged or hurt one of your friends! Sure, he may have treated a prisoner in a horrible way, one which I might add I do not condone and will make sure is extremely looked down upon, but... You... You can't do that! I thought you didn't want more death to come from this war? Who's side are you on?"

Fleur cast a muffle spell around them. "I don't play one side. I'm a dualist, I walk down both paths, I play both sides against each other in a way that creates stalemate after stalemate while preventing as many casualties as I possibly can. I am not only a Peacekeeper, I am the most righteous form of a Peacemaker, and you'd do well to remember that, Starlight Glimmer. So don't be getting all indignant on me about who I can and can't kill, because I know who deserves to live, ...and I certainly know just who deserves to die."

Starlight could only look on in shock. She knew Fleur was one to follow her emotions, but she didn't think it would ever go so far. What happened to her friend must have affected her in such a way that it made her momentarily lose all sense of rationality. "You can't play both sides forever Fleur... It's taking a toll on you, I can tell. I've been there before, trust me, you don't want to let your anger get the best of you..."

Fleur was taken aback by how calm Starlight was, dispelling the muffle bubble around them. She could see the concern and shock in Starlight's expression, and she felt a pang in her chest. "Starlight, I..." She sighed. "I'm sorry... I just... Sassy was the first mare who wasn't intimidated by me or talked up to me... She saw me as another pony, she's been my best friend since high school, we've shared... intimate moments, and I... When I saw the state she was in, I... I..." She looked like she was on the very verge of tearing up, her voice sounding choked up already.

Starlight could see the internal struggle Fleur was having, and finally realised just how much Sassy meant to the ex-model. "Fleur, I... What you did isn't something good, but... I know why you did it. Just..." She began to slowly reach over to hold Fleur's hand in her own. "You can't let that consume you. You gaze into an abyss for long enough, and the abyss will gaze back into you. I know you want to make the world a better place again, I do too, trust me. But... you can't change the world by yourself, Fleur. I had the same-"

Suddenly, like a brick through a window, the voice of a certain unforgettable mare made both of them freeze in place. "Trixie wants to know if you two are going to, make out or something...? You've been practically arguing like an old married couple..." In a puff of smoke, the (in)famous magician appeared, standing beside Starlight. Her robe was overly fantastical, but she pulled it off well. Fleur thought it reminded her of Starswirl the Bearded's robe, but much more form fitting and slightly revealing. "I'm asking so I can turn away, I mean, gross."

Fleur couldn't help but snicker, shaking her head and blushing lightly, Starlight blushing as well, but looking more annoyed. Fleur spoke first however. "I've always wanted to see you two make out, I mean, you would be so cute together~ You're always by each other's side already, how strange...~" She grinned mischievously as she saw the blue and purple unicorns both blushing deep scarlet at her comment. Trixie was the one who looked annoyed now, and Starlight seemed to only be able to stare off to the side.

Trixie crossed her arms. "Hmph. Just because Trixie is Starlight's Personal Escort does not mean she does whatever Starlight wants to." Fleur dropped her jaw, and Starlight covered her face with both hands, groaning in embarrassment. "...N-Not that Trixie wouldn't mind, but-"

Fleur interjected, Starlight still too embarrassed by the sudden turn in the conversation to speak up. "Wait a minute! You just said... I can't believe you just said that... I... What...?" She ended up looking to Starlight for an answer, but the purple unicorn was rubbing her forehead in a double facepalm.

Starlight finally spoke up however. "She keeps saying that, like she's asking me to tell her to do things..." She rubbed her eyes for a second, before sighing. "I don't know what to think about it, especially because, well, I..." She was still obviously blushing, but Fleur could see her subtly biting the side of her bottom lip. Starlight continued however, clearing her throat. "Ugh... Fine then, since Fleur wants to see it so bad and you keep begging me to say strange things; Trixie, I-I order you to... to kiss me." She crossed her arms and closed her eyes, trying to look confident in her authority.

Trixie laughed, Fleur snickering as well, and the magician shook her head. "No~! Trixie doesn't feel like it~!" Fleur couldn't help but giggle with glee at the scene before her, Starlight failing to be intimidating in any way. Trixie went even further. "I said I wouldn't mind, not that I would feel like doing it."

Starlight almost growled in frustration, before taking a deep breath. "You two are such a pain together..." She rubbed her forehead once again, letting out a sigh, before she felt Trixie's hand upon her shoulder, and looked up at her to see the magician giving her a warm smile.

Fleur couldn't help but let out a swoon at the adorable display before her. "Well, I've got a train to catch. You girls have fun being super cute together~" She giggled as she stood up, having finished her tea, and pushed in her chair, leaving fifty Bits on the table. "Get Trixie something too, Starlight." She turned around to walk away but stood still when she heard the purple unicorn speak up once again.

"Fleur." The ex-model turned around to look at the sorceress, ears perked up, and Starlight continued. "Remember what I said, you can't play both sides forever, and I don't just mean in the war..." She looked deep into Fleur's eyes, the ex-model looking deep back into hers, and Starlight felt something different about her.

Fleur smirked, breathing out in a puff of amusement, and struck a pose that was both intimidating and flashy, a pose that held both power and elegance... Before she began to walk off, saluting them in a casual way, the brightness of the sun making her pale pink hair almost seem to glow.

"Watch me."

Chapter IV: System...

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Act II: Incandescent
Chapter IV: System...

Los Pegasus was a sight for sore eyes as Fleur stepped off of the train that had just arrived at the station, her battle robe white and red once again, having taken the colour changing spell off of it long ago. It's so good to be home again...! She walked down the steps to the station with a sense of glee, but there was one thing she immediately noticed had changed about the city since she had last been there. There seemed to be a Solar Guard on nearly every other corner, others on patrols. Daybreaker really cracked down hard on protecting her citizens, just like she said she would... But that also means less freedom for them as well, ...always under the watchful eyes and attentive ears of the Sun.

Solar Empire flags hung around every corner and intersection, and anti-Lunar propaganda adorned the walls in some places, and recruiting posters were stuck to others. It's really become a regime... The Solar Empire... We all thought it would only be a momentary change, just until the changelings were defeated, but it only went further and further. The Princess had finally, truly broke. Celestia is no more, ...there is only Daybreaker now.

Fleur grit her teeth and swallowed hard, but slowly relaxed as she made her way through the city, towards the high-class part of the suburbs. At least I know they're safe. The Lunar Empire would never make it this far, especially without the Peace Corps or anypony else knowing. And I haven't heard of any assassination attempts on the Solar Nobility either, such a thing would have been extremely publicised. She hurried along none the less, making her way closer and closer to home, wanting to be safe rather than sorry.

There were fewer Solar Guards on patrol in the high-class suburbs district, but every manor and mansion she passed had guards posted at the gates and outside the front doors, keeping every family of noble blood as safe as possible. I wonder if mum and mom have been stressed out, they're a part of the Solar Court if I remember right... I wonder what those meetings are like, sitting there before Daybreaker, praying that you don't piss her off as you discuss politics and strategy...

Fleur's brow was furrowed as she continued on. It wasn't until seeing the Lis family home was in perfect condition that she relaxed a little. She was stopped at the gate however, the guards looking her over with their hands held out like stop signs. She groaned. "I'm their daughter, Fleur de Lis." They looked at her cutie mark for a second, before they nodded, and saluted, seeming to wait for her to do so as well, not moving out of her way. She took a deep breath before she stood at attention, saluting with them, her brow arched and eyes intense. "All hail God Empress Daybreaker! Praise the Sun!"

"Praise the Sun!" The guards repeated after her.

They stepped aside, and opened the gates for her, and Fleur relaxed once again, walking through the gate and humming in intrigue as it was closed behind her. She was both impressed and a little intimidated by the tight coordination. Damn, I guess they do take the security seriously around here... I thought it was just out on the battlefield that they were like that.

She smiled as she looked to the driveway however, seeing her Marezda Savanna RX-7 was still right where she left it. She longed to get in and rev the engine, walking over to it it. Mum and Mom will know I'm home when they hear the song of the rotary...! She reached into her armor, pulling out a key that was well hidden and hard to grasp because of it. I wasn't going to just leave my keys in my room. It's like I told Sassy before I left, if I needed my car, I would come back and take it.

Fleur rested her glaive across the spoiler before she got in the driver's seat on the right side, glad her armor was form fitting and not ridiculous or bulky. She put the keys in the ignition, the rotary engine turning over immediately, but Fleur simply let it idle for a few minutes, closing her eyes and leaning back in her bucket seat. She gently applied pressure to the accelerator, the e-brake keep in the car in place as the engine began to rev up, singing it's song. It wasn't long until both of her mothers were out in the driveway, smiling as they walked over, and Fleur turned the car off, stepping out as she locked the door and closed it.

Her other hand put the key back where she had pulled it out of, before she hugged both of her mothers so tight. "I missed you two so much..." She smiles wide, tearing up. "I hope you don't think less of me-"

Pétale de Lis interrupted her daughter, almost giggling as she patted her on the head. "Of course we don't. Your mom and me will always love you." Her purple eyes and pale pink hair were what Fleur got from her.

Silkstrider de Lis nodded at her wife's words, her white fur what Fleur had gotten from her. "Indeed! I had to go on a journey to find myself as well." She hugged her daughter tight. "I'm just so glad you came back to us."

"Gosh, Mom..." Fleur giggled, before stepping back and straightening her hair back out. "...How have things been? It hasn't been too rough being members of the Court has it?" She felt a little bad, trying to get information about the war from her parents, but she knew it would come up eventually.

Pétale was the first of her mothers to answer that question. "It's been... Interesting, to say the least. The first month was a little rocky, but God Empress Daybreaker had everything sorted out by the end of it. We started in chaos, but she brought order to us, and the rest of the Empire. Her presence is... intimidating would not even begin to describe it. She has this... charisma that makes you feel both terrified and in awe."

Silkstrider nodded. "I didn't know how she would do it at first, but through her orders and declarations, she brought the whole counsel together, and we all work together as one now. Like your mum said, God Empress Daybreaker is extremely persuasive, and she gets results, no matter what."

Fleur hummed and brought her left hand up to gently grasp her chin in thought. "I didn't think it would be so... peaceful. Not only the Court, but the Empire itself. Sure, that peace is brought about by heavy enforcement, but it's like you said... she gets results." The ex-model swallowed hard, feeling a little fearful. The Solar Empire might be the most dangerous side of the war, just like Princess Cadance thought...

Silkstrider put her hand on her daughter's shoulder armor. "But you don't have to worry about politics or how God Empress Daybreaker is running the Empire, dear. You're safe here." She smiled warmly, and Fleur couldn't help but smile back, feeling at ease. "Now, why don't you come inside, and I'll make your favourite breakfast treat! I'm sure you want to relax in your room as well, when you're done. We kept it the same way it was when you left."

Fleur dropped her jaw, almost hopping in place as she began to feel giddy. "Coffee Jelly?! Oh my Goddess, you always know just what I'm craving, mom!" Her mothers giggled as they began to walk back inside, and Fleur couldn't help but take a deep breath, letting out a sigh of relief. They're safe, and happy as always. That alone brings calm and peace to my mind. ...I guess I could stay for a day, it's been a while since I've had some real time to myself anyways. She walked through the front doors just behind her mothers, feeling like she was smiling more than she had in the past six months.

As the Solar Guards on either side of the doors closed them behind the Lis family, they gave each other a look, their eyes intense, the one on the left saying what he knew they were both thinking.

"God Empress Daybreaker will want to know about this..."

Chapter V: ...Meltdown

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Act II: Incandescent
Chapter V: ...Meltdown

Posters of both musicians and models adorned the walls, whilst figurines of characters from stories written, filmed, and animated, adorned shelves, books resting just behind them. Upon the regal pattern baring blanket on the bed Fleur sat, eating her coffee jelly with a smile and a light blush on her face. Her plate armor pieces laid next to her on her pillows, the gold flakes that adorned them glinting in the light of the sun that poured through the window next to her. "Mom's coffee jelly is always the best! Nopony else ever seems to make it just the way I like it..." She put another spoonful in her mouth, the sweetness of the cream and the bitterness of the coffee in the jelly mixed to create a symphony of fluffy, smooth, dark, rich; elegance, that danced upon her tongue.

The ex-model looked out her window at the peaceful valley that surrounded her family home, and the adjacent hustling, bustling, city streets. I'm glad Los Pegasus hasn't changed too much. I guess Daybreaker wasn't lying when she said she cared about and wanted to protect her loyal subjects. ...But I can only imagine what would happen if somepony pissed her off. The ruins of Canterlot still have flames that burn just as bright as they did the day the city was destroyed... She shuddered a little at the memory of flying past the ruins on an airship.

She heard the doorbell ring, raising a brow. "Qu'est-ce que c'est?" She looked down at her bowl, humming as she took the last bite of her coffee jelly, before pouring the remaining cream in her mouth. She stood up and put her spoon in her bowl, carrying them both in her right hand as she walked over to her door. I wonder if it's one or some of the members of the Court. Mom has always been rather friendly like that, inviting ponies she worked with over to our house.

She could just barley hear voices as she stepped out of her room, one seeming both louder than the others, and somehow familiar. Who is that? Closing her door behind her, she made her way down the hall and down the stairs to the first floor. She hummed a little Prench melody, trying to relax. It had been so long since she felt truly safe, that she had trouble not being on edge.

But when she reached the living room, having heard the voices coming from it's direction, she decided to never again cast away her caution, her jaw dropping along with her fingers going limp in shock, dropping her bowl and spoon. But before the two could reach the floor, they were grasped by magic that glowed a burning gold. No... No... Please, somepony please tell me I'm just having a horrible nightmare, and wake me up...

"Ah, just the pony I was looking for." Fleur could hear the smirk the mare wore upon her muzzle in her words. It was none other than Daybreaker herself, standing before the fireplace, which seemed to burn brighter in Daybreaker's presence. Her horn was aglow with the same aura that held the bowl and spoon, using her magic to set the two objects on the table in the center of the room. "You thought you could simply disappear for six months and nopony besides your mothers would notice, Fleur de Lis? Especially right after being conscripted into my army?" She sounded both a little angry, and curious. Pétale and Silkstrider both sat upon the couch, holding each other tight, trembling in fear.

Fleur trembled like they did, her jaw quivering, before quickly dropping down on her right knee and bowing her head, her left elbow resting on her left knee, her forearm going across and ending in her closed fist. "Praise be to you, God Empress Daybreaker..." She swallowed hard, almost making an audible gulp. "I-I apologise for my absence, my Goddess, I swear on my life that I will do whatever it takes to make up for it, just please, please don't punish my mum and mom for my transgressions. They don't deserve it, I left of my own accord and without telling them about it. If you're going to punish anypony, punish me..."

Daybreaker hummed in intrigue. "Hmm. Those are surprisingly noble words, for a deserter." She said the last word with malice, and it made Fleur's breathing become shaky. Daybreaker slowly and with intent stepped away from the fireplace, and over to the kneeling ex-model before she continued. "Normally, I would have you tied up and lashed seventy-seven times with a burning whip at the foot of the steps to the House of the Rising Sun, to make an example of what happens to those who desert my Empire for any length of time. You should consider yourself the luckiest mare in the world Fleur de Lis, for I am feeling surprisingly forgiving today. So long as you swear to me that you will do something for me, I will not punish you or your mothers. I have already talked to your mothers about it, and they of course gave me their approval. If they hadn't, you would have seen two piles of ash on the couch when you walked in here."

Fleur swallowed hard once again, looking up at the Goddess of the Sun with both fear and shock in her eyes. "What would you ask of me, my Goddess? I'll do anything, I swear on my life!" She never felt such intimidation and awe in her life as she gazed upon the immortal and powerful beauty of the flaming alicorn before her. Her mother was more than right about that, and Fleur agreed that it was near impossible to describe just how gorgeous, charming, and terrifying all at the same time; Daybreaker was. And that charisma only made her all the more intimidating. It was like the Goddess' words brought a calm to her heart that both caressed it and squeezed it hard in an unbreakable grasp.

Daybreaker's smirk spread wide into an eerily devilish grin for a moment, before she turned away, and walked back over to the fireplace, looking into it with a smile as the flames flickered and danced for her amusement. "I suppose first I should explain to you how I've come to the conclusion that you are the one to be chosen for the duty, the blessing, that I am to bestow upon you." She lifted her hand, and the flames in the fireplace took shape as she spoke, giving Fleur and her mothers a visualisation of what she spoke of as she said it. "You see, you aren't the first one I've come to about this matter, if you hadn't guessed already." The flames showed swords and magic bouncing off of, and being flung away from, a vision of Daybreaker. "I am immortal, I have no fear of being slain, nor dying of old age."

The Goddess of the Sun clenched her fist, the vision of Daybreaker turning to the side, her stomach growing. "But I require descendants, I require a dynasty to call my own, a family of powerful mares which I am mother to. Having such a dynasty would make me even more powerful and solidify the Solar Empire as a force that none could stand against. Think of it, Fleur de Lis, a family of highly intelligent and exquisitely powerful mares, all birthed from yours truly, leading my armies on different fronts, making sure of consecutive victories, no matter what war, what nation stood in my way! Even the great Griffonian Empire wouldn't be able to stand a chance!" The flames showed the mental images she conjured with her words as if it was a film screen made out of flames.

Daybreaker's expression became sour then. "But there lies a problem in being as powerful as I am, believe it or not." She scowled as the flames showed vulgar and detailed visions of stallions being mounted and milked by her, all of them either simply dying of exhaustion and failing to get her pregnant, or having their genitals crushed or bent by her clenching nethers. Fleur couldn't help but cringe at the latter part, pressing her thighs together and shifting her hips back at imagining the immense pain the various stallions that happened to must have felt. Daybreaker continued however, the flames changing to show a vision of Fleur's mothers. "That is where you come in, Fleur de Lis. Your mothers are of noble unicorn blood, and thus, so are you. But that is only one qualifying factor..."

The flames showed a vision of Fleur in them then, and the ex-model blushed at seeing they rendered a part of her that very few knew about. "That's right Fleur de Lis, I know. You, like one of your mothers, have a marecock. Mares born with cocks are naturally more magically fertile, as well as having cocks that are more resilient and perfect, which means they are less likely to be damaged so easily by my immortal folds, especially if they belong to a unicorn of noble blood. Another plus is that the sperm that mares with cocks produce is guaranteed to create mares and mares with cocks." She snickered at the words she was about to say. "Your other mother should consider herself lucky she gets to stay with her wife however. Fortunately, they are both older than you, not old per say, but past their prime. And thus, it is not your mother with a marecock that can be chosen for this."

Daybreaker stepped away from the fireplace, the flames returning to normal once again as her magic dissipated. "And so, this duty has come to rest upon your shoulders, Fleur de Lis." She stood before Fleur once again, holding the ex-model's chin in her hand to make her look into her eyes. "You are the one who will breed with me, the one who will give me the dynasty I want. The one who will allow me to become truly, utterly unstoppable in every single way." She let go of Fleur's chin, walking over to the front doors, which the Solar Guards opened for her. "I expect your presence at the House of the Rising Sun at exactly noon, or else your mothers will be burned alive before your very eyes and I will take what I want by force. Not through the vile and disgusting act of rape, but by having your semen extracted from your balls and injected into my womb until I am pregnant. And then you will be burned alive as well." She bent over and walked out of the doors, which a few seconds afterwards closed.

The Lis family were left in complete and abject horror and silence, Fleur's eyes wider than they had ever been from shock, and her mothers weeping in terror.

Chapter VI: Radiance

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Act II: Incandescent
Chapter VI: Radiance

The House of the Rising Sun used to be known as the Museum of Illumination, and used to hold different lights from throughout the ages, and different light-creating inventions. Fleur couldn't help but admit it did seem rather fitting that a museum themed around illumination was now the royal residence of the Goddess of the Sun. She swallowed hard as she began to walk up the steps, some ponies stopping on the sidewalk to look at her and gossip to each other in curiosity, wondering who she was. She was glad she had chosen to wear a white cloak that covered her up from head to toe, not wanting anypony to know it was her walking into the House of the Rising Sun. Nopony can know about this. If word about this got out, my reputation in the Peace Corps would be scarred, and the soldiers of Lunar Empire would recognise me as the one in images of ponies who walked into the House of the Rising Sun and survived. Only those truly loyal to Daybreaker can claim to have done such a thing.

The guards standing in front of the doors to the House of the Rising Sun looked at her face as she lifted up the front of her hood enough for them to see it, and they nodded, both of them turning around and pulling out golden keys, unlocking the doors before opening them up just enough for her to enter. Fleur did so swiftly, making sure she was clear of the doorway before she stood in place, waiting for the doors to close behind her before she took her cloak off, handing it to the guard that had walked up before her in that time. He cleared his throat, obviously not getting many chances to speak. "At the end of the West Wing, behind the wall in front of you. God Empress Daybreaker awaits your presence."

Fleur nodded, before swallowing hard once again. She couldn't believe this was happening, she never thought she would step foot inside the House of the Rising Sun, much less meeting Daybreaker for such an... intimate, matter. She walked around the wall before her, where the receptionist desk used to sit, and entered the West Wing, walking past the guards who held the doors open for her, the two having opened them and waited for her when they heard the front doors to the House of the Rising Sun open.

The West Wing of the museum had been remodeled to look like the throne room that Canterlot had before the city was destroyed, but with the pillars on fire, and Solar Empire tapestries hanging from the ceiling between the pillars of flame. She walked along the red carpet that lead to the throne, noticing something that was a slightly-pale purple on the floor by Daybreaker's crossed legs, which became clearer as she got closer. It was Twilight Sparkle, the former Princess of Friendship, her eyes rolled up and her tongue sticking out as a dildo wrapped in a burning gold aura plunged into her pussy again and again roughly. She moaned in unashamed ecstasy, and Fleur could only look at her in a strange form of curiosity, blushing deeply. She was no longer Twilight Sparkle, she had become Sunrise Sparkle, Daybreaker's right hand mare and a slave to her whims.

Daybreaker laughed as she saw Fleur stare at Sunrise's ecstasy blanketed form squirming by her feet. "Don't let her bother you. My apprentice is a real slut when it comes to being pleasured by her God Empress, for both my amusement and as a reward for good deeds." The Goddess seemed to be in a better mood than she was that morning, which helped Fleur worry a little less about pissing her off. Daybreaker looked into Fleur's eyes, and the ex-model felt her heart skip a beat before the Goddess spoke again. "I shall assume you are not quite as shameless as Sunrise is, and I would prefer this moment be private anyways." She snapped her fingers, and all of the doors in the wing were shut by the guards standing outside them, and she looked to Sunrise, who seemed to start to panic.

"No, no, wait! Please, my Goddess! Let me stay, please let me watch! I won't tell anyone what I see, and I promise I'll be as quiet as possible! I'll even put a muffle spell around me so that even if I do make any noi-" Before the loyal bookworm could finish her sentence she disappeared in a flash of burning gold light, Daybreaker's magic dissipating from her horn shortly afterwards.

"She's loyal, I'll give her that, but sometimes she doesn't know when to mind her own business." The Goddess laughed, before uncrossing her legs, relaxing in her throne. "Now where were we? Oh, that's right..." She lifted her fire orange battle skirt up, and pulled her matching panties aside, her royal flower on display before the ex-model. "Do you want to get right to the main event? I imagine it must be difficult to resist the urge." She smirked devilishly, and Fleur blushed deeply once again, feeling her length begin to grow and harden beneath her battle robe.

Fleur swallowed hard, and though she felt the want in her loins, she felt like there was something more she could do. I'm the first pony to be in a position like this who doesn't blindly follow her every whim, I have a chance to do things that nopony else has... She felt conflicted. Daybreaker really did bring something out of her, but she couldn't explain why. It wasn't just her intimidating and charismatic presence, it was something... something more. And she had a feeling that she was the only one who could bring that same feeling out of the Goddess in some way. "My Goddess, I-I... I don't want this moment to just be purely for the purpose of breeding."

Daybreaker raised a brow at that. "Oh? You have a stronger will than most, that's something I find admirable." She beckoned Fleur over none the less. "So you want this to be something more, something with deeper meaning than mindless sex to impregnate me, is that it?" Fleur nodded at that, and Daybreaker couldn't help but laugh, sending a chill down the ex-model's spine, but also making her chest tighten. The Goddess leaned forward, letting her panties rest back in place over her royal nethers. "Tell me then- actually, no. Show me what you mean. Show me what you want this moment to be like, show me what your heart is telling you to do. You've made me... curious." Fleur stood before her then, before slowly getting down on both of her knees.

Fleur reached down tentatively, lifting up one of Daybreaker's feet gently, making the Goddess raise a brow once again, watching the ex-model remove one of her battle sandals. "You deserve more than just a simple rut, my Goddess. You deserve to be treated like the God Empress you are, to be treated with respect and admiration." She let out a huff as she stared at the Goddess' long and shapely foot, her fire orange nail polish complimenting her cinnamon white fur in a way that made Fleur lick her lips. Her toes were perfect, not too long and not too short, and her feet in general just the right mix of plump and slender.

Fleur began to kiss up Daybreaker's foot slowly but passionately, starting from her heel and up upon every single inch of her sole, the Goddess' toes wiggling in appreciation. The ex-model could feel her heart begin to race in her chest, her cheeks painted deep scarlet the whole time. Daybreaker's foot was soft but firm, and every time her lips were pressed against it she felt a tingle all over her body. The Goddess smirked once again, seeming to lean back in her throne as the worship went on. Fleur couldn't help but wrap her lips around some of Daybreaker's toes, their sweet cinnamon vanilla flavour driving her crazy, her cock throbbing hard beneath her battle robe.

Daybreaker snickered both proudly and happily, smiling in comfort, but also finding it so adorably submissive how Fleur was kissing her foot and suckling on her toes, wiggling them once again, but this time against the ex-model's tongue. "Ohoho~ Someone really wants to make their Goddess feel special. Not even Sunrise does this kind of thing. How humiliating, a former model being reduced to nothing but a slut for her Goddess' feet~" She was quite clearly enjoying the attention, holding her fingertips up to her lips but not touching them against them. "I am quite pleased with this turn of events, Fleur. But I want more." She grabbed a handful of Fleur's hair and tugged her head between her legs, making the ex-model gasp sharply and adorably from the slight pain. "It's been so long since somepony truly cared about my satisfaction and pleasure over their own."

Fleur actually found herself smiling warmly, and her heart pounded hard in her chest. "Of course, my Goddess~ I think... I think that anypony who doesn't prioritise your pleasure over theirs isn't worthy of receiving pleasure from one as heavenly as you." She swallowed hard, biting her lip as she tenderly reached forward, tentatively pulling the Goddess' panties aside, her face right in front of Daybreaker's tight and slightly damp pussy. The worship had gotten her in the mood, and Fleur wasn't going to waste an opportunity so precious. "You deserve to feel more than just respect and praise, you deserve... to feel loved." She smushed her lips against the Goddess' pussy lips, kissing the royal flower with a burning passion.

Daybreaker hummed and closed her eyes, her hand relaxing atop the ex-model's head, but still held it in place none the less. "Mmnh~ Not only are you passionate, but you also know just how to flatter a mare." She felt Fleur's head turn a little as she stopped kissing the Goddess' pussy, only for her tongue to begin tenderly and thoroughly licking her outer labia from top to bottom, kissing her clit sweetly every time she reached the top of one of her labia, even kissing and licking her inner thighs every now and then as well, Daybreaker actually bringing her free hand up to grope and rub her own breast, pinching and tugging on her nipple. This was different, she could tell. Fleur seemed to be putting her all into making the Goddess feel truly appreciated, and it didn't go unnoticed. "And you're eager to please as well, nnnh~"

Fleur could go on and on about how perfect Daybreaker was, but she decided to remain silent, hugging the Goddess' thighs against the sides of her head a little hard, moaning before she began to properly and lovingly make out with her now dripping slit, slithering her tongue between those cinnamon vanilla tasting folds with pure affection, her lips coaxing the Goddess' honeypot to open as she delves her tongue inside deeper until she couldn't make her tongue extend any further, swirling it around slowly inside her, her nose nuzzling and rubbing Daybreaker's clit all the while, hearing the Goddess actually let out a small moan.

"Fuck~ Such a good girl~ I can't take it any more, Fleur. Get up, I'll assist you in removing your armor and clothing." Her horn glowed as Fleur obediently stood up, the ex-model's armor and clothes coming off easily and without much effort, Fleur's fit and slightly muscular body on full display for the Goddess then, the ex-model's rock hard sweet pink marecock drooling pre in want, pulsing and twitching eagerly. "You refused to think about your own pleasure, despite being that aroused~? I'm not sure if I should consider that as your ability to control your urges, or as complete devotion. I'm impressed either way~ And I think I finally understand what you want. You want to be my lover, don't you Fleur~?"

Fleur froze for a moment, but swallowed hard, forcing herself to nod. "I... I think I do, to be honest. I know, it isn't as simple as just telling you that, but... Now that I've spent some time with you in a more private and intimate setting, I... I just feel something in my chest, like you have a grip on my heart, one that I want, and don't ever want to lose. I just, I feel something when it comes to you, like I was meant to be here, before you, whether it be worshipping your feet, telling you how absolutely stunning and gorgeous you are, or just spending time with you. I know most ponies tremble and quake in fear before you, and I did too. But now, now that fear just makes me want to be with you more. I... I like you for more than just your body and status."

Daybreaker momentarily had the slightest hint of scarlet upon her cheeks, almost unnoticeable in nature. But her classic devilish smirk never faded, and she started to laugh, raising her hands and intertwining her fingers with Fleur's, pulling her closer. "You are just so precious~" She made it sound like she hadn't taken Fleur's words completely seriously, but had at least taken them into consideration. "Perhaps in time we shall grow closer, my pet. For now..." She pulled Fleur even closer, making the tip of the ex-model's pre drooling marecock kiss her more than ready royal slit. "Show me how much you love me by filling me with that thick delicious maredick of yours~ Make your Goddess feel your love thrusting inside her and filling her up with your hot sticky cream filling~" She snickered once again, finding the ex-model's want for a romance with her quite amusing, especially because it gave her teasing fuel.

Fleur couldn't help but let out a swoon at the romantic position and hand holding that Daybreaker put them in, her lips quivering as she stared at the Goddess'. She huffed, before taking a deep breath, and thrusting her hips forward, penetrating the tight, almost constricting folds of Daybreaker's honeypot, feeling how wet and hot she was around her. "Ahn~!" She arced her head back for a moment, hearing Daybreaker surprisingly humming in delight, but the ex-model wasn't done, catching her breath before plunging her length deeper inside the Goddess' pussy, allowing her to get even closer, and press her lips against Daybreaker's, hoping with all the hope in her body that it wouldn't anger the Goddess of the Sun.

To the ex-model's surprise, she felt Daybreaker let go of her left hand, the Goddess' right hand moving behind Fleur's head to force her lips against hers harder, and the ex-model felt her whole body tingle as her cock throbbed wildly. Daybreaker's legs came up as she let go of Fleur's right hand to wrap her left arm around the ex-model's back, her legs wrapping around Fleur's waist tight, making her shove the rest of her length inside, filling the Goddess up completely as her pussy swallowed every single inch of Fleur's thick maredick, actually stretching a decent amount. "Nnnnhh~!" She almost growled hungrily in lust, breaking the kiss only momentarily to speak. "Fuck~! Yes~! Fuck me, Fleur, fill your Goddess with your love!"

The ex-model didn't need to be told twice, pressing her lips back against the Goddess' with pure burning passion as she began to pump her cock in and out of Daybreaker's tight and wet royal slit, licking the Goddess' lips in a request for entrance. Daybreaker opened her lips, allowing Fleur's tongue to enter her mouth, only to suck on it hard and hold it in place with her teeth, making the ex-model moan alongside her. It had been so long since she felt this good, and it felt even better than the last time, Fleur's noble marecock seeming to be made for her royal pussy. "Mmnh~!" She coaxed Fleur's hips to thrust harder with squeezes of her legs, panting hot through her nose, Fleur panting as well, but not quite as hot as the Goddess of the Sun's panting was, of course.

Fleur could feel herself getting close, and from the way the Goddess' royal pussy clenched around her thick maredick, she knew she was too, their horns beginning to glow, their thoughts being transferred to one another as their bodies and minds connected in every way possible. Cum for me my Goddess~! I love you, I love you so much~! I want to cum at the same time~! I'm so close~! Daybreaker moaned deeply as she heard the ex-model's sweet passionate thoughts echo throughout her mind, Fleur actually surprising her with her passion, and she squeezed her legs tight around the ex-model, hilting her inside as their lips separated in loud and passionate moans.

The Goddess grit her teeth as her royal pussy clenched so very tight around Fleur's thick maredick, squirting her almost burning hot pleasure around the ex-model's cock and all over her crotch, Fleur arcing her head back and rolling up her eyes, the ex-model screaming her passion, not caring if the guards outside the doors heard. "I love you, God Empress Daybreaker~!!!" She came hard as she said it, filling the Goddess' regal womb almost instantly with her first noble load, every one after filling her royal pussy more and more until she gave her a creampie. She panted hard as she leaned back down and wrapped her arms around Daybreaker's waist, returning to making out with her passionately, if a bit limply from the pure unbridled blissful ecstasy that blanketed her in that moment.

Daybreaker caressed Fleur's hair, Prench kissing her back tenderly, proud of her consort's passionate love for her, her horn glowing for a moment as she telepathically told Fleur of her satisfaction. Good girl, Fleur~ That's a very, very good girl~ Fleur cooed and swooned as she hugged Daybreaker even tighter, before the Goddess pulled the ex-model's head back with her grip on a handful of Fleur's hair, smirking at the sharp gasp that the ex-model let out.

Daybreaker looked into Fleur's eyes deeply once again, making the ex-model swoon even more, and said something that made Fleur gulp in both fear, and excitement.

"Ready for round two, my pet~?"

Chapter VII: Survival Tactics

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Act III: Luminescence
Chapter VII: Survival Tactics

Fleur de Lis never thought she could become so exhausted from a session of intimacy. Even though it had been a day since she shared that session with Daybreaker, she still felt a little worn out. But as she stepped off the train platform in Crystal City she hoped that slight exhaustion would subside soon. I can't believe she made me go for thirteen rounds... I know she's a goddess, but I'm just a unicorn with a marecock, ...which is still a little sore... I just couldn't stop getting hard for her... She sighed, wondering if Daybreaker had a slight limp after all they did the day before. But her thoughts were interrupted as she noticed how empty the streets were. Wait... Where is everypony? Even all the shops are closed... She looked around in both curiosity and worry. What happened while I was gone? She picked up the pace, making her way to the Crystal Palace.

It wasn't just one part of the city either, as she approached the Crystal Palace, she hadn't seen a single soul. She furrowed her brow, wondering if a spy or assassin from one of the Equestrian Empires had made an attempt to end somepony's life. The doors to the Crystal Palace were the first place she saw somepony, four Crystal Guards and four Peacekeepers each stood before her, one of the Peacekeepers speaking up as they saw her. "Peacekeeper Fleur! Quickly, get..." She felt a hand on her left shoulder, the Crystal Guard next to her looking intense. The Peacekeeper turned back to Fleur, her expression just as somber. "...Recite the Peacekeeper Oath, immediately." The Peacekeepers and Crystal Guards brandished their weapons in the ex-model's direction.

Fleur blinked in slight shock, wondering why they were so defensive all of a sudden, but recited the Oath none the less. "In brightest day, in blackest night, we fight for what is right. To protect the world from devastation, to heal those who are hurt by any nation. We stand in the middle of any war, and it is Harmony and Peace that we fight for, Omnia Vincit Amor!" She stood proudly, her left hand over her heart, standing her glaive up straight by her side with her right. The Crystal Guards and Peacekeepers each let out a deep sigh of relief, and stopped pointing their weapons at her. Fleur put her glaive on her back once again. "What's going on? We only recite the Oath if-"

The Peacekeeper who had spoken before answered her swiftly. "A changeling was found out yesterday, and two others followed suit, saying something about the Changeling Nation rising from the ashes of their defeat. Princess Cadance and Director Fluttershy fear that Chrysalis is planning to attack the Crystal Empire, so Princess Cadance ordered everypony to lock their doors and stay safe in their homes until she's sure the Empire is safe. As our most accomplished Peacekeeper, Princess Cadance and Director Fluttershy will want to talk to you directly about the matter. Get inside, quickly." The Peacekeeper turned around, opening one of the doors to the Crystal Palace, which Fleur hurried on through, the door shutting tight right behind her.

Fleur had to take a deep breath and process everything. The foyer of the Crystal Palace was heavily protected, Crystal Guards and Peacekeepers each three feet apart, standing by the walls. What in Tartarus is going on lately? Everything is moving so fast... She rubbed her head for a second as she began to walk again, making her way towards the Tactical Operations room. First I find Sassy injured and have to carry her away from a battlefield, then Daybreaker herself wants me to help her get pregnant and create a Solar Dynasty, and now the Changeling Nation has recovered from their defeat at the hands of the Solar Empire, possibly planning a takeover of the Crystal Empire...

She nodded to the Peacekeepers standing outside the Tactical Operations room, and they opened the doors for her, Princess Cadance's voice welcoming her as she stepped in, the Princess of Love standing next to Director Fluttershy at the map table. "We have to be prepared for them to come through the border, Fluttershy. I know the last thing you want to do is purposely put the Peacekeepers in danger, but as long as we have at least a few good mares and stallions stationed at the border for reconnaissance, we'll at least get a heads up if the changelings cross it." Cadance was obviously stressed out from the situation, having personally dealt with Chrysalis once before.

Fluttershy nodded solemnly, looking at the map. "I-I understand, Princess... I just wish there was some other way we could do it... I just think... what if the changelings discover our reconnaissance team and capture them? They could be taken prisoner, o-or worse..." She looked up from the map as Fleur stepped up to the other side of the table. "Oh, Fleur! I-I was wondering if you had returned from your trip home yet. I hope things weren't too bad for your mothers... D-Daybreaker is so scary..." She curled a lock of her mane around her finger nervously. "I-I'm sorry to say that we have a situation here in the Crystal Empire now, that we'll need your help with..."

Before the ex-model could console Fluttershy and help her worry less, Cadance spoke up once again. "Fleur, out of all of the Peacekeepers, you've always been the most ready to volunteer when it comes to particularly dangerous missions, I assume since the guards let you in you know what we're dealing with?" She put her hands on the map, leaning against the table, the border where the Changeling Nation meets the Crystal Empire right between her hands. "We need somepony to carry out reconnaissance operations at the changeling border. I'm sorry to ask this of you, but we regretfully don't have any choice in the matter."

Suddenly, a mint green flash of light appeared behind Fleur, and the three ponies at the map table turned to see none other than Starlight Glimmer and Trixie Lulamoon standing before them, Starlight quickly speaking up. "We're here to help! I saw how everypony here is barricaded in their homes and knew something was wrong. We followed Fleur and heard about the changelings, but the guards wouldn't let us in! Trixie isn't a changeling in disguise, and a changeling wouldn't be able to pull off the multiple-pony teleportation spell that I just cast to get in here." She saw the surprised and confused looks on Cadance and Fluttershy's faces. "...I hope Fleur told you about us before."

Cadance looked to Fleur, who nodded, and the Princess of Love nodded back. "As I just told Fleur, we need a reconnaissance team at the changeling border. We need to make sure we know they're coming through as soon as possible. If they cross it, that is. We're not completely sure what Chrysalis is up to, but I don't want to take any second chances. That evil bitch tried to ruin my wedding and take over Equestria in the process, and I won't let her invade my land and harm the innocent ponies who live here! They've been through enough, especially those who had to escape the war in Equestria!" Her swear made Fluttershy cringe for a moment, but she nodded none the less, agreeing with Cadance's statements.

Fleur finally took her chance to speak up, albeit tentatively. "Princess Cadance, if I may make a suggestion?" The Princess of Love raised a brow, nodding at the ex-model. Fleur continued. "I know this might sound a little- okay, really crazy, but... What if instead of sending a team out for just reconnaissance, we sent a team into the Changeling Nation? Not to fight, but to... Negotiate terms? As Ambassadors, if you will?" Fleur immediately regretted speaking those words, Cadance looking almost livid. "Please, hear me out! We're surrounded on three fronts here, and gaining an ally who specialises in subterfuge and deception would give us-"

"You must be out of your mind if you think I'm going to work with that twisted insect, Fleur! I don't know why my aunts won't see sense and stop carrying out their stupid war against each other, but I am not going to let changelings occupy the Crystal Empire, no matter how much they could 'help' us with their vile tricks!" She was breathing heavily, having lost her composure. But when she saw everypony's slight fear at her anger, she sighed, trying to relax. She fixed her slightly ruffled mane with some help from Fluttershy as she spoke. "Listen, I know what you're trying to say Fleur, but I just don't think it would end well, for any of us."

Fleur paused in thought for a moment, bringing her hand up to her chin. "Then what if..." She snapped her fingers as she let go of her chin. "What if we at least tried to form some kind of temporary peace treaty with Chrysalis? The Changeling Nation may have recovered somewhat from their defeat six months ago, but there's no way they're already the unstoppable force they were back then, once again. I know you don't trust her, but considering the state of her nation, she has to be at least partially open to the suggestion of postponing a war with the Crystal Empire." She stands proudly. "I'll be the one to personally cross the border and discuss the matter with her."

It was surprisingly Starlight who spoke up next, seeing where Fleur was coming from. "A war with the Changeling Nation would weaken the Crystal Empire, Princess Cadance. It would be more vulnerable to an attack by Daybreaker or Empress Nightmare Moon, and the former I'm sure would jump at the chance to obtain more land for her own Empire. Empress Nightmare Moon at least understands the value in having neutral ground for anypony who doesn't wish to participate in the war or wants to escape it. But if Daybreaker were to come and try to claim this land as hers, Empress Nightmare Moon would retaliate and send troops up here as well to prevent her sister from taking it."

It was even more surprising when out of all of the ponies in the room, it was Fluttershy who spoke next. "A-And we still haven't heard back from the teams we sent to offer an alliance with Yakyakistan, Olenia, and the Polar Bear Communities... We don't have their support yet, s-so if we were attacked..." She shuddered in fear. "W-We wouldn't have any reinforcements or aid to back us up, and what Starlight said might actually happen... The Peacekeepers aren't trained in warfare, they're m-meant for defensive purposes and reconnaissance, not fighting on the front lines... It would be even more dangerous than what Fleur is suggesting..."

"Alright, alright! Let me think..." Cadance leaned on the map table again, letting out a deep sigh, looking at the map for a few moments, everypony remaining silent for her. After a few more seconds, she stood up straight, a solemn expression upon her face. "I still think it's a bad idea, but you all raised some good points, so... We'll give it a try." Before Fleur and Fluttershy could salute however, the Princess of Love continued. "But I want you to exercise extreme caution in this matter. The Changeling Lands aren't something to be taken lightly, and their capital is quite a ways past the border. My only concern is that if you get in any fights along the way you won't have a healer with you."

Fleur hummed in thought, crossing her arms. I've been meaning to study some healing spells, but because I've never done anything like that before they would have been rudimentary at best anyways... "Well, Starlight is pretty powerful, I suppose she could teleport us away if we got into trouble. ...But I do see your point." Everypony was once again silent for a moment, but one of them wasn't simply standing in place. Trixie, who found it annoying she couldn't really come up with anything to say about the changeling situation, was at the food and drinks table. She looked over a bottle of wine and let out a hum, as if judging it's quality.

"I..." Once again everypony was surprised to hear Fluttershy speak up. "I'll go with them..." Before Cadance could object, Fluttershy looked to her gently but confidently. "You're right Princess, we don't have any healers who aren't busy taking care of ponies who are already hurt and need the help a lot more... And well... I've taken care of animals all my life, and have studied a lot with Nurse Redheart since the war in Equestria began..." She then looked at Fleur with pride. "And I trust Fleur to make sure I'm safe. She cares so much about helping other ponies, and she was so upset the other day when she found out her friend had gotten hurt. I know she wouldn't let that happen to me."

Trixie walked back over to them, holding some peanut butter crackers, having just finished eating one, and finally got her chance to speak up. "Well, is it finally all settled then? Trixie is ready to go and kick some ugly bug butt already!" She munched on a peanut butter cracker, everypony else looking at her with unbelieving expressions, before Trixie looked back up at them and was surprised they were all looking at her. "What? Trixie loves peanut butter crackers, don't judge her!" Fleur couldn't help but giggle, and the rest of the ponies followed suit, Trixie let out a huff of annoyance, blushing lightly.

"They're really good, okay?!"

Chapter VIII: Sssnakepit

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Act III: Luminescence
Chapter VIII: Sssnakepit

The road to Vesalipolis was indeed a long one, just as Princess Cadance said. As they got closer to the border, the area was covered with snow, and trees surrounded them on all sides, making it even harder to see around them as they trekked down the long and winding road. Fleur had walked longer distances before, and so was pacing herself, making sure everypony was doing okay as they went along. But they weren't even across the changeling border when Trixie began to complain. "It's too cold out here for Trixie! And Starlight's having trouble keeping up with us!" Fleur and Fluttershy stopped, looking at the two unicorns behind them, one indeed shivering while the other noticeably looked out of breath.

Fleur looked to the horizon, noting it had to be just before Night, the four hours of Lunar Twilight nearly over. I don't know how they can just do that twice a day like it's nothing. ...Fighting for control over the sky, for four hours each time. The two periods of eclipse became known as Lunar Twilight and Solar Twilight respectively. It has to be draining, for both of them. And yet Daybreaker looked perfectly fine. Is her... Is their power really so immense that controlling the Sun and Moon is like lifting an arm to them? "...Alright, let's set up camp for the night. We'll cross the border in the morning, and be at Vesalipolis by this time tomorrow."

They set up camp on the side of the road, Fleur getting wood for the campfire as the other three set up the two tents, one for Fleur and Fluttershy, the other for Starlight and Trixie. When Fleur came back with the wood for the fire Trixie was already wrapped up in a blanket, each of them sitting on some large rocks Starlight found, around the makeshift firepit they made. Fleur put the firewood down and lit it up with a spell, Trixie sighing with relief as she warmed up, with Starlight and Fluttershy simply looking at peace. Fleur smiled as she took her seat on the rock next to Fluttershy, the two blushing lightly as they locked eyes for a moment. Fleur cleared her throat. "So... What's everypony thinking about?"

Fluttershy was the first to speak up, the three unicorns looking at her attentively. "I-I... I'm wondering how bad it is on the other side of the border..." Starlight and Trixie seemed to share the sentiment, nodding before Fluttershy continued. "I just hope that we'll be safe on our way to the capital... I'm worried we'll run into trouble like Princess Cadance said, a-and I don't know what we're going to do if it does happen... I don't like fighting... I'm sorry I won't be much help during the battle, but I promise I'll do whatever I can to patch you up afterwards. I have bandages and health potions, and mana potions too, for if you three ever feel worn out from using too much magic."

Starlight spoke up next since Trixie was focusing on warming her hands and feet up with the fire. "I'm glad somepony else has some, I was worried I might not have enough for all three of us. I'm used to only carrying around enough potions for me and Trixie." She sighed. "Ever since the war began they just began to cost more and more. I know it's because we need to make up for the amount being used on the front lines of the war, but still. It makes it hard for us who aren't directly supplied them. That's... kinda why I try to stock up on potions whenever I'm in the Crystal Empire. You ponies ever think about exporting your excess?"

Fleur was about to mention something about the price of health and mana potions, but they all noticed Trixie pointing over the fire, in between Fluttershy and Fleur. The unicorn and pegasus swung around on their rocks, before Fleur immediately jumped in front of Fluttershy, her glaive at the ready. A group of three changelings were staring back at them from the trees, Fleur, Trixie, and Starlight's horns all glowing at the same time as they each pointed their glaive, longsword, and staff at them respectively. They were each ready to cast or fling a spell if they had to, the changeling in front holding up his hand, the three insectoids in a non-offensive stance.

The supposed leader of the three spoke up. "Why would you stupid ponies make yourselves so easy to spot? Are you planning to travel through our lands?" He laughed. "You're dumber than I thought if that's the case. What business would you ponies have wandering the Changeling Empire anyways? Don't tell me that you four are the best your dumb gemstone nation has? I don't think the yellow one even knows how to fight!" He laughs again, mocking the four ponies. Trixie almost growled, her ego getting the better of her at being insulted. But Fleur raised her hand, and the magician begrudgingly stifled her response.

Fleur's horn never stopped glowing, the edges of the blades on her glaive heating up and beginning to glow red, smoke coming off of them in the cold northern air. "We come in peace, but we will fight if we are forced to." The changelings looked confused at her words, and she continued. "Our message is a warning, but not the kind you may think. If your Queen decides to invade our land, Daybreaker and Nightmare Moon will both match it. The Crystal Empire is in an opportune place for both of them, and if given the chance, one of them will ensure it becomes theirs. And I'm sure you three have at least heard the tales of Daybreaker vaporizing hundreds of your kind at a time."

The three changelings hissed, obviously knowing exactly what Fleur was talking about, and the ex-model took a step forward, the three changelings surprisingly backing up a step. "Her righteous fury disintegrating more of you isn't exactly a fate I would think you're all keen on accepting. I've met her, face to face, and I can tell you this, she would do it without even giving it a second thought, and the only sound left in the battle would be her laugh. So... We have come, as ambassadors, to talk to your Queen about a temporary peace between our nations. So long as the Crystal Empire remains untouched, so shall your lands remain untouched by more eternal fire than they already have."

The three changelings snarled before turning around and running back towards the changeling border. It was only then that the three unicorns let their magic dissipate. Fleur took a deep breath, letting it out in a sigh as she knelt down, pressing her glaive's blades into the snow, pulling out a cloth to dry the water off of them after they were cooled. Starlight was the first one to walk up behind Fleur and put her hand on her shoulder, the ex-model looking back up at her. The sorceress had a shocked expression on her face, and Fleur expected the words that came from her lips in that moment. "You met her... Daybreaker, face to face...?"

Fleur stood up and looked solemnly into Starlight's eyes, wordlessly telling her that she had indeed spoken truth. She put her glaive on her back, and walked back over to the campfire, taking her seat again as the other three stood, expecting her to say more. Fleur silently stared into the fire. "She stood in the living room of my house, in front of our fireplace. Her firey gaze felt as if it was stealthily trying to pierce my heart. Her burning mane of fire, immaculate alabaster fur, and captivatingly sensual and powerful presence, made it hard to believe she was even a pony at all. And when she spoke, ...it was then that I found her truly terrifying. Her words brought such peace to my soul, they had a dangerous sweetness. ...That's exactly why she is terrifying."

She continued as the other three took their seats once again, listening closely. "She told me that if I ever betrayed the Empire and she found out, she would burn both of my mothers alive before my very eyes, and then burn me alive as well. It took me begging on my hands and knees for her forgiveness for her to laugh. She told me to be more careful, like a mother would her child, and then walked out of the house, the fire in our fireplace going out once again as she did. I consider myself lucky to be sitting here before you tonight, because I know that she could have turned me and my mothers to ash like it was a wave of her hand if she had felt like it."

The group sat in silence for a moment, Starlight making an audible gulp, Trixie holding onto her. Fluttershy was trembling when Fleur finally looked back up from the campfire, immediately feeling a little bad, and wrapped her arms around the Element of Kindness tight. The last words any of them said that night before they laid down to rest were the ones Fluttershy said as she wrapped her arms back around Fleur.

"S-So scary..."

Chapter IX: Medusa

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Act III: Luminescence
Chapter IX: Medusa

After packing up camp, the four ponies began the rest of their journey in the early morning sun. A group of changelings waited for them on the other side of the border, but as they got closer they split into two groups on the sides of the road. Fleur hummed as they walked past, the changeling squadron watching them with judging eyes. "I guess word about our journey to the capital spread fast." A few of the changelings hissed, they were the three from the night before. The changelings regrouped once the group of ponies were past them, watching the ponies with scorn in their eyes, which made Fluttershy tremble until Fleur held her hand, making her blush. The shy pegasus blushed even deeper when Fleur gave her a smile. "After what I said last night, I don't think they'll be bothering us."

The Changeling Lands were almost barren as they made their way to the capital. What plants there were were dead from the cold, the snowflakes that slowly fell from the sky lightly misted the ponies' manes as they trekked on. The only places that weren't covered in snow were large areas where the ground was warmer than it should have been, a few eternal fires burning nearby, the scorched trees that once called the land home slowly turning to ash piece by piece. Daybreaker's immense power was quite evident to them all at that point, the warm parts of the land so unnaturally devoid of snow, and the eternal fires still burning like bushes made of flames. Ash replaced the snow in those places, slowly falling from the sky and trees, before being blown away in the wind.

It was a longer trek from the border to Vesalipolis than it was from the border to the Crystal City, nearly the whole day going by and Lunar Twilight about to begin once again before they saw the changeling capital in the distance. Fleur, Fluttershy, and Trixie were less exhausted from the trek than Starlight was, but it had still taken a little toll on the three ponies who were more experienced with traveling such distances. The group hadn't stopped for anything, none of them wanting to stay in the inhospitable Changeling Lands any longer than they absolutely had to. But an hour after Lunar Twilight began, they finally arrived.

Vesalipolis towered above them, the different buildings of whatever city the changeling capital used to be were covered in chitinous walls, the snow not seeming to fall upon the city at all, a couple of what used to be skyscrapers were slowly burning down, some of Daybreaker's eternal flames lit atop them like they were matchsticks. But the plant life around and within the city curiously seemed to grow and bloom unlike it did in any other part of the land, the parts of the buildings that weren't covered in chitin instead covered by moss and vines, and flowers of all kinds grew from the lively grass. It was almost surreal to look at as they approached the gates, the ten changeling guards posted in front of them each gave the ponies different kinds of scowls before they opened the gates and let the ponies through.

As they made their way through the city, the different changelings that walked and guarded the streets were either whispering amongst themselves and pointing at the ponies, or pointing the group in the direction of the Changeling Palace. Which, it turned out, was a coliseum that had been converted into an almost arena-like structure, one made of chitin, moss, and vines. Fleur could see a pair of glowing green eyes piercing the darkness of one of the Palace's uppermost windows, staring down at them until they got a few yards away from the coliseum-turned-Palace. Fleur grit her teeth for a second, swallowing hard. "This is getting pretty intense... You girls stay close and alert, especially you Fluttershy. The three of us will protect you."

The three unicorns got into a tight triangle-like formation around he Director of the Peace Corps, Fleur at the front, Trixie and Starlight in the back, all four moving in unison as they passed through the gates and into the halls of the coliseum, changeling guards walking the halls looked at them in disgust as they walked by, but the unicorns only scowled back, Fluttershy staying silent and focusing on Fleur, trusting her guidance and protection fully. She's so brave and confident, and the way she jumped in front of me last night... I just know she'll do whatever she has to, to keep me safe... The shy pegasus smiled a little bit, looking at the ex-model with admiration, blushing lightly.

They finally walked out into the center of the Palace, the wide open area allowing them to see that the slightly different-looking chitin that covered the top of the coliseum was halfway transparent, allowing them to see the twilit sky above them. There was a cavern made of chitin in the middle of the wide open area, which seemed to descend below the coliseum, thirteen changeling guards standing outside. The guard with the bow growled as he nocked an arrow, aiming it at them. "That's close enough!" The ponies stopped in place, and a gigantic spider in changeling armor crawled out from behind the cavern to stand atop it, it's fangs drooling venom. The changeling with the bow snickered as he let forth his arrow while the ponies were distracted.

Fleur shuddered but yelled as she jumped in the way of Fluttershy the same way she had the night before, pulling out her glaive and spinning it, cutting the arrow in half and changing it's direction, but getting the half with the arrowhead stuck in the tip her right ear. "Fuck!" She hissed, baring the pain as she stood still, glaive at the ready and brow furrowed. "What the fuck was that for?! You didn't hear that we come in peace?" She growled under her breath, gritting her teeth once again at the pain of her ear. The changeling with the bow was hit across the head by the one in the middle of them, and hissed.

The changeling in the middle bared the most cuts on his armor and the most scars on his body, and his voice was gruff. "My subordinate simply acted like an idiot." He ignored the glare he got from the archer. "The Queen wants to see only you, not the others. We were ordered to just keep them under watch while you converse with her." He could see the distrust in Fleur's eyes and continued. "The Queen anticipated your distrust, and that is why she told me to tell you of a name: Nightshade." Fleur's expression changed instantly, looking almost like she had seen a ghost. The ex-model had to take a deep breath before she spoke.

"How... How does she know that name? Did she tell you more?" The three other ponies looked at Fleur in confusion, Fluttershy backing up to stand behind Starlight and Trixie, who were both looking at each other. Trixie silently asked Starlight for an answer to what the whole 'Nightshade' thing was about with a nod of her head, and Starlight held her hands up a little, shaking her head to silently say that she didn't know. The changeling general had shook his head at Fleur's question, and the ex-model finally continued speaking after thinking for a moment. "...Fine." She emphasized the word by stabbing her blade into the sand, and the changelings separated a little, Fleur looking to her right at the changeling general and nodding at him with respect as she walked past him.

Trixie was the first to speak, and finally spoke her mind. "What the fuck is she doing? ...What the hell did you get us into, Starlight? Trixie told you the stupid pretty girl would get us in more trouble than Trixie could handle!" Starlight face-palmed, letting out a long and annoyed sigh. "Just because you have the hots for her, that doesn't mean you can let her drag you and Trixie around! Especially to places like the Changeling Empire! - No offense." She said the last part to the changelings, most of them hissing in anger. Starlight blushed vividly and groaned before covering her face with both hands. The general however, surprisingly laughed. He apparently found the arguing ponies amusing, and Starlight, having an idea, looked at Trixie desperately. Trixie blinked a few times in confusion and annoyance, but eventually rolled her eyes. She looked back at the changeling general. "So... Wanna see Trixie do a magic trick?"

The general actually smiled. "Finally, someone with talent! You wouldn't believe how unbelievably boring my underlings are. ...Do you know the one where you somehow end up with the same card I chose?" Trixie looked astonished, and Starlight started to snicker, covering her mouth. Even Fluttershy let out a quiet giggle, hiding behind Starlight and peeking out from behind her hip. Trixie however, was not amused.

Fleur simply shook her head and tried not to giggle before continuing deeper within the cavern.

⚜⚜⚜

Fleur pulled the arrow half out of her ear eventually, taking a small healing potion off of her belt. She looked at it for a second, before putting it back on her hip. "I've always wanted to get an ear piercing anyways." She did however pull out some water and a small rag, cleaning off the blood and helping her ear naturally start to heal. She put the water back in her satchel, before quickly drying the rag off with a warming spell that also shook it around, and then putting it away as well. "Gotta look my best when meeting royalty." She wasn't vain, she just simply knew how to make a good first impression.

She fixed her mane as best as she could without a brush, before she came out of the cavern into... an underground garden. There were even trees growing in the almost peaceful cavern, glowing plants upon the ceiling giving the area light. She began to walk amongst the trees and other beautiful plant life, the sight of it all both astounding her and putting her in slight awe. It was then that a voice echoed throughout the lush underground garden. "How did I know it was going to be you? That you would be the one to walk into my Empire, and dare to approach me alone, speaking of peace?" The voice was undeniably that of the Changeling Queen, but Fleur couldn't tell what direction it was coming from.

Fleur responded however, wanting an answer to her question. "I just thought that a Queen wouldn't want the complete destruction of her hive. If you attacked the Crystal Empire, Daybreaker would be there to fight against you and claim the land as hers, and I don't want the war to cause any more casualties than it currently does every day. ...But the only thing I want to know right now is... how... how do you know that name? How do you know her name? I've never told anypony about her, I never spoke about her again after..." She went silent, coming upon a small clearing full of flowers, looking around her and trying to stay calm. Her mind was going a million miles an hour trying to figure out how the queen of the changelings knew about the first mare she ever loved.

The voice echoed throughout the garden once again, but this time the ex-model was able to tell which direction it was coming from. "I figured you wouldn't know. The connection is obvious to me, but I suppose you were more oblivious to it than I thought... And here I thought you were something more than just another idiot." Fleur swallowed hard at the last sentence the Queen said, it's familiarity sending a chill down her spine. The ex-model was now as shocked as she was frustrated, but took a deep breath, keeping her cool. The voice eventually continued, and Fleur was sure of its direction. "You still don't get it, do you... Fleur de Lis."

The perfect pronunciation of her name, which she hadn't even told the Queen yet, made Fleur shudder, and begin to run. But she didn't run for very long before coming upon another clearing, stopping just as she reached the edge of it. Rare but beautiful flowers grew amongst the perfect grass upon the ground. Fleur even recognized her favourite flowers - Bleeding Hearts. But what drew her attention, was the obscured form in the center, a silhouette of somepony familiar within it. Fleur stepped forward, and as she slowly got closer, her heart began to race. "How do you know her? How do you know- ...N-Nightshade Wallflower?" She couldn't believe her eyes, she was standing three feet away from a pony she hadn't seen in years.

The mare smiled at the ex-model, before something happened. Her form, her body, began to change. It slowly became bigger, and her horn became more wicked. But the colors of her fur, mane, and eyes, all stayed the same. Relaxing upon the garden floor, lifting a large leaning lily flower up and encouraging it to stand, was none other than Queen Chrysalis. Fleur collapsed to her knees, speechless. It all began to make sense. Princess Cadance, being an Alicorn, required a fair amount of power to defeat. The Changeling Queen simply smirked with pride. "I can see you finally understand. It was right before the Royal Wedding, and my disguise wasn't even that different from how I normally look."

Fleur was silent for a moment, but eventually, she spoke up. "I... You... You used me... Used me to get more powerful, powerful enough to defeat Princess Cadance..." She almost couldn't believe the heavy revelation that had just been bestowed upon her, but she knew it was true. "But you... You weren't anypony I knew... A-And... You were the pony that... that made me realise... Realise that I was into mares..." She shuddered, before swallowing hard and clenching her eyes for a moment, trying to regain at least an ounce of her composure. "Why...? Why did you choose me? Was it because I looked lonely and weak at the time? And... and all of those long chats we had in the forest, all of the times I listened to you and took your side, and truly showed that I cared... that really all meant nothing?"

Chrysalis spoke sharp. "Celestia and her sister aren't the only ones who have changed." Fleur looked up from the ground and at Changeling Queen. Her horn began to glow, and the flowers around the two of them started to bloom a little more. It was only then that Fleur noticed the large red lily in the left side of the Changeling Queen's mane, and that Chrysalis was only wearing a regal but revealing red dress and black floral pattern stockings with matching sleeves. Fleur blushed, something she couldn't believe she was actually doing in that moment. Chrysalis smirked, looking proud of herself for a moment, but looked at the lily next to her once again as she continued.

"I hate you, Fleur. But I... I don't. I hate... what you've done to me." The Changeling Queen looked deep into Fleur's eyes, and the ex-model felt her heart skip a beat. Chrysalis hummed for a second, leaning closer. "You... You were different, and I hate that you were... You liked when I acted more like myself, ...the real me. Not some pony that you knew or was tailored to your exact tastes. I... I was a fool. I was wearing a disguise that was practically me, but as a pony. And I made you like me, made you feed me. But that's the problem. You like... me. After I had a taste of your love, how pure it was, because it was practically truly for me, nothing ever tasted the same. Sure, I became even more powerful when disguised as that stupid pink slut, but... All the love I fed upon just tasted... bland."

The ex-model was confused, unsure as to exactly what the Changeling Queen was saying. Chrysalis became frustrated, vines growing swiftly out of the ground to wrap around Fleur's body, and almost squeeze her throat. "Do I really have to spell it out for you? It wasn't enough. Nothing was enough anymore!" The vines squeezed Fleur's neck more, making her unable to breathe for a few seconds, gritting her teeth, before Chrysalis calmed down a little, the vines allowing the ex-model to breathe once again. "Nothing could satisfy me, no amount of love could make me feel truly full, and alive... like your love did. I had become addicted to it. Like a fool, I let myself become addicted to the purest form of love a changeling can ever feed upon."

Fleur was starting to get the picture, but she nodded at the Changeling Queen attentively, as if telling her to go on. Chrysalis did just that. "Love for the true self..." She actually seemed to lightly blush, licking her lips with her bioluminescent green tongue, feeling the ex-model's gaze upon her whole body, different parts at a time. But the Changeling Queen went on. "It wasn't until that corrupted version of Celestia almost ended me and my changelings forever that I realised just how... how alone I felt. I realised that it was you that caused me to be unable to enjoy any other kind of love. Caused me to never feel satisfaction... Made me an addict. And whenever I thought about you, and how addicted I was to your love, I seemed to..."

She lifted her hand, and the lily standing next to her seemed to bloom even grander, the one in her mane looking like it was constantly in the absolute perfect state to admire. "Make things grow..." She turned back to Fleur, her stomach beginning to feel warm. "I can feel it, ...right now. That love...! The one that gives me a high unlike anything else ever has! It's so filling...~! Could it really be that you... find my true form pleasing? ...Even after all that happened? After... what I did to you?" The look in the Queen's eyes was more than just hungry, it was almost... desperate, in a crazy way, something that both terrified Fleur and made her blush at the same time.

But the ex-model looked back down at the ground, clearing her throat politely. "I-I... I don't know what to say. If you really mean everything you just said, I... That means that I didn't just fall for Nightshade, I... I fell for you. I fell for the playful but badass babe who didn't take shit from anypony and was always fabulous as hell. I remember you got us kicked out of that one restaurant when you..." She blushed vividly, and her heart began to race from something much more pleasant than fear. "If that was you, if how Nightshade was, the way she talked, the way she held herself, and showed me that there was a somber beauty to be found in things dark and macabre... If that's truly you then..." She felt her heart pounding hard in her chest. "...I mean, I think you're even hotter like this, uhm, your true form? I- Uh- Y-Yeah. I..."

Chrysalis smirked once again, and the ex-model actually let out a swoon. "Fufu~" She had reduced the one pony she actually wanted to give her love into a nervous blushing mess. "I'll make a deal. You swear to always give me this... addicting love of yours, and I won't attack the Crystal Empire. I dare say I'll even join you sometimes in your adventures- not for the sake of that pink slut though. Don't expect me to be nice to her either. I won't fight her as I said, but that does not mean I have to be... ugh, nice." Just the thought of being nice to Cadance seemed to sicken her. "Either way, I demand you to take me with you when you leave."

Fleur was speechless. She'd been hoping the negotiations would go well, but she wasn't expecting them to take the turn that they did. "I... I can't say no to that, I... Would..." She shuddered, blushing vividly. She felt like she was dreaming. I have to be in a coma of some kind. Maybe a large magic blast hit me or something, and this is all some kind of fever dream I'm having while lying in a hospital bed. First Daybreaker wants me to have sex with her to help her give birth to a Solar Dynasty, and now the Changeling Queen wants to travel by my side and is obsessed with me? This has to be a dream, I have to be dreaming. She pinched herself on the arm, doing it hard. "Oww!" It was real. The arrow from earlier could have told her that. Chrysalis could only laugh wickedly, feeling so strong and powerful, and yet, ...content.

The Changeling Queen growled quietly, hating how weak she felt around the fabulous unicorn before her. ...And yet she couldn't get enough of it. That was before Fleur snapped her fingers. "I got it! I'd never be able to do this unless it was a dream!" She almost pounced upon Chrysalis, gently pinning her against the flowerbed of lilies that had grown beneath her. They stayed like that for a moment, and to Fleur's surprise, they both began to blush vividly. "Wow, a green blush, that's... R-Really cute. ...So, uhm. This... This isn't a dream, is it?" Chrysalis shook her head, before reaching up and grabbing Fleur's, shoving her lips against those of the Queen. "Mnh~"

Chrysalis rolled over, pinning Fleur down, both of them looking into each other's eyes and thinking the same thing, but Chrysalis smirked once again, the impish smirk that she'd fallen in love with all those years ago, but it was made even more wickedly adorable by the Queen's fangs. The ex-model swooned, and Chrysalis blushed, getting off of her. "Don't drown me in it... until we have more time to spend together. By ourselves. ...You do have those other stupid ponies waiting for you outside."

Fleur sighed. "Shadey, they're not stupid, they're my frie-..." She blushed pure scarlet then, but grinned and bared the embarrassment of what just happened, Chrysalis blushing lightly but snickering mischievously. Fleur cleared her throat politely. "I-I suppose..." She got up to stand beside the Queen, looking up at her, looking suspiciously confident. "I guess it would be ...Chryssie now, wouldn't it~?"

Chrysalis blushed pure green then. "Sh-Shut up and get going. ...I haven't had sex since the last time we were together, so..." She looked at Fleur with bedroom eyes, and the ex-model audibly gulped, before holding the Queen's hand tight and walking back towards the entrance of the garden with her following right behind. Chrysalis could only giggle.

"I knew that would get your attention~"