Son of the Howlite Howler

by JNKing

First published

Shiva's been tamed. Now Twilight has to deal with Kodo

It was so close to being over. Shiva, Alpha of the Diamond Dogs and protector of the Crystal Empire, had finally given her trust and friendship to Twilight.

But their troubles were far from over. Hidden in the mind of Shiva's son, Kodo, the dark lord Sombra dwelled, pondering, bidding his time. And now, with death close at hand, the time has come for him to strike.

Can the ponies rescue Kodo the way they rescued Princess Luna? Or will the diamond dogs be Sombra's second chance to take Equestria for himself?

Huge thanks to truenorth14 for all the help with the story, along with all my wonderful readers for keeping up with Shiva and her adventures in Equestria. You are the best, and I always appreciate your feedback. :twilightsmile:

Chapter 1: So Close and Yet So Far

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It was so close to being over. So painfully close that Twilight almost suspected something was supposed to go wrong. Nightmare Moon had been restored to Princess Luna. Discord was reformed. Chrysalis and Sombra were dead (or about to be), Tirek was in prison, Starlight Glimmer had atoned, and best of all, Twilight had finally made peace with Shiva; the Alpha of the Diamond Dogs of Outer Haven. All she had to do was figure out what was wrong with Shiva’s son Kodo, currently rebuilding Filthy Rich’s Barnyard Bargains, and things could finally go back to normal.

Yet, as Twilight and even Shiva herself watched the young diamond dog rebuilding Barnyard Bargains, nothing gave the impression that he was possessed by anything evil.

The two looked up as Rainbow Dash settled next to them.

“Anything?” Twilight asked.

Rainbow Dash shrugged. “He seems fine,” she replied, before giving Shiva a look. “Uses some kinda dark magic aura, but…”

“He’s always had that,” Shiva replied, watching her son. “But according to Skippy, he kept me knocked out for an entire week in the erased timeline.”

Twilight tilted her head. “Not the, uh, timeline where you took over Equestria, right?” she asked.

“No,” Shiva said. “The timeline you erased by showing up to the trial on time.”

Twilight blinked. “W-Wait, what?” she asked.

Shiva rubbed at her head, trying to regain the memories. “I don’t suppose you recollect what happened in the alternate timelines, do you?” Shiva asked.

Rainbow Dash rubbed at her own head. “Weren’t Kodo and I, like… friends?” she asked.

Pinkie Pie jumped. “I was a member of the revolution in the changeling timeline,” she recalled. She donned a beret. “Viva de revolution!”

The group spared her a glance before returning their attention to Shiva.

“Well, there was a timeline where you were still tracking Starlight,” Shiva explained. “And in that timeline, Spoiled Rich drove Kodo to attack her, and he fled into the Frozen North. I went searching for him, and he ended up knocking me out for several weeks.” She gave a quick nod to Twilight. “T-Thanks to you, it never happened. But it still makes me wonder…”

“Right,” Twilight said. “What if whoever’s in him gets him to try something else.” She hummed, turning back inside, where Spike, Pinkie, Applejack, Rarity and Fluttershy awaited. “Well, let’s start with the basics; who could be in his head?” With a flash of magic, she started laying out photos of the villains they had faced. “Nightmare Moon…”

“Uh-uh,” Rainbow Dash said. “Shiva’s never met her.”

“I met her counterpart,” Shiva grumbled.

“Luna was brash, but Nightmare Moon would’ve been something else,” Twilight said, a tad defensively.

“You don’t have to defend her,” Shiva replied. “I was in the Nightmare Moon timeline.” Her eyes narrowed. “I’m pretty sure she killed me.”

Twilight’s ears flattened, and her fur paled.

“Oh… kay, so probably not her.” She poofed the photo with a flash of light, before settling another one. “Discord?”

“No,” Fluttershy said. “Shiva drained his power.”

“And I’m still not giving it back,” Shiva said before Fluttershy could even glance at her.

“Alright, so Discord’s probably not a candidate.” She poofed his picture and summoned another. “Queen Chrysalis?”

Shiva hummed. “I… did kill her, but we did let the changelings go too.”

“Let’s keep her changelings in mind,” Applejack offered, taking the photo and setting it down before them. Twilight summoned another photo.

“King Sombra,” she offered. Shiva hummed, rubbing subconsciously at where his magic had hit her many years ago. Though the scar was long faded, the name still sent a shudder through her arm.

“Well, obviously, the Crystal Heart took him down,” Rarity said, failing to catch Shiva’s hesitation. However, Twilight noticed Shiva’s flattened ears.

“Shiva?” she asked. “You don’t… think he’s still out there, do you?”

Shiva clutched at her arm. “I don’t know,” she admitted. “I was sort of putting everything on the Crystal Heart, same as you.” She set the photo down. “Let’s keep him in mind, just in case.”

“Well, there’s not that many others to keep in mind,” Twilight admitted, summoning two last pictures. “Lord Tirek is back in Tartarus; no way he could cause trouble while he’s in there. And Starlight Glimmer…”

Everyone paused, sharing a mutual look at the pink unicorn hesitating by the door. She wilted like a scared animal.

“You’re not doing anything to my son, are you?” Shiva asked suspiciously.

Before Starlight could figure out whether to plead for mercy or scoff in indignation, Twilight spoke for her.

“No,” she said, standing between them. “You two didn’t meet until now. And her gripe was with us, not you.” She put a hoof to her chin. “The multiple timelines may have been a bit… traumatizing…”

Shiva flinched, glancing down at where her alternate counterpart had stabbed Twilight, but Twilight covered it with a grimace.

“…but that was more collateral than intentional malice,” Twilight dismissed. “Which means that our two main suspects are Chrysalis – or at the very least her hive – or Sombra, somehow revitalized despite the Crystal Heart.”

Applejack pawed at her hat. “Ya don’t reckon it might be something else, do ye?” she asked. “Equestria seems to draw more ‘n a few troublemakers. And this apparently only happened after Kodo ran off.”

Twilight grimaced. “Maybe,” she admitted, her eyes turning to the photo of Sombra. “Except…” she turned to Shiva. “Shiva, do you remember when Kodo was first born?”

Shiva’s ears wagged. “It’s hard to forget,” she pointed out wryly, eliciting a few nervous chuckles from the mares. Spike just glanced around in confusion.

“Well,” Twilight went on. “I remember noticing an odd aura coming from him. Now, I-I know you mentioned later that it was just the Pack Link passed down, but… then Celine visited.”

Shiva glanced at Twilight as she brought up two diagrams of two different wolves.

“Did you… scan her or something?” Shiva asked.

“Technically, I scan every pony,” Twilight replied. “I’m a princess; I gotta make sure that everyone's safe.”

Shiva moved to protest… before realizing that was actually not a bad idea. Instead of protesting, she went for a simple, “What’d you find?”

Twilight poured more magic into her diagrams. One lit up in gold lightning bolts, spinning around the wolf diagram like electrons around an atom.

“This is Celine’s aura,” she explained. “It’s not as structured as a unicorn’s aura, but that’s probably due to the unicorn magic being wedged in with the human, earth canine and diamond dog components. But Kodo…”

She lit up the second wolf diagram. It additionally had the electron like lightning spinning around it. But in the very center of his core…

“What… is that?” Applejack asked.

“I daresay it looks like cancer,” Rarity breathed.

“Or a black hole,” Pinkie offered.

Shiva only stared silently up at the pulsating, black… thing nestled in what had to be her son.

“Twilight,” Shiva breathed. “What… is that?”

Twilight pointed at Sombra’s photo. “It’s unicorn magic, but heavily corrupted.” She lowered her head with a sigh. “I’m sorry, Shiva, but our best bet right now is that Sombra somehow got into your son before the Crystal Heart went off.”

“That’s insane,” Rarity declared. “Was Shiva even pregnant with Kodo at the time?”

But then she noticed Shiva rubbing at her arm again.

“I… did take a hit from him,” Shiva admitted. “Way before we even knew what the Crystal Heart was.” She held her head in her hands. “If his magic corrupted him… and I didn’t even…”

Twilight hushed her, softly patting her claws.

“You couldn’t have known,” she said. “The Crystal Heart wouldn’t have known either. Any kind of baby is supposed to be born purely innocent. He wouldn’t have even registered as a threat to the artifact. Otherwise…”

Shiva shut her ears before Twilight could say, but Twilight didn’t bother trying. The others solemnly processed this, before Pinkie let out a breath.

“Well, that’s a relief,” she declared.

Shiva stared up at her. “What?!” she snarled.

Pinkie pointed at Sombra. “It means Sombra is what we have to worry about,” she declared. “We just gather up the Elements, wait for Kodo to come in. And then hit him with a good ole fashioned Friendship Laser. That should wash Sombra right outta him.”

Shiva stood. “Will this Friendship Laser hurt him?” she demanded.

Instantly, Twilight was up. “He’ll be just fine,” she assured Shiva. “We used the Elements on Princess Luna to free her from Nightmare Moon.”

“But Luna’s an alicorn,” Shiva insisted. “Kodo’s a diamond dog, and he’s only a child…”

“Exactly,” Applejack assured her. “The Element’s ain’t about to hurt a little colt like him.” She strode up to Shiva and made the diamond dog look her in the eyes. “Trust me like you trusted me when we met; as the Element of Honesty, what I’m sayin’ to you is the honest truth: let us use the Elements on Kodo, and he’ll be right as rain.”

Shiva searched Applejack’s face, maybe even looking for some sign of the Element in her. But whatever she saw, it lacked any dishonesty. She lowered her head with a sigh.

“Okay,” she said, before turning to Twilight. “I’ve never trusted you guys as much as I’m trusting you now.” Her ears flattened. “Please, don’t let it go to waste.”

“We won’t,” she assured her. “Just one quick blast, and this will all be over.”


Glad that’s over,” Kodo commented, stretching as he left the completed Barnyard Bargains behind. “And here I thought that was gonna last forever.”

I still don’t know what your Mother was thinking,” Sombra commented. “That kind of work should be reserved for the laborers; the commoners!”

Kodo scoffed. “By everything sacred, you sound like those snobby ponies from Canterlot,” he grumbled. “Just because you were raised in a castle doesn’t make you better than other ponies. Just like me being born to Mother doesn’t make me any better than the other diamond dogs.”

But it does,” Sombra insisted. “You have more power than any of them. They should be bowing to you. Scraping for your favor.”

Kodo shivered. The thought… admittedly did sound pleasant. But he pushed it from his mind.

Mother says that we are all pack,” he recited. “And an Alpha without their pack is nothing.”

Sombra sighed. It was clear he wasn’t going to get anywhere in this argument.

Just make sure that you don’t set yourself up for danger,” Sombra replied. “A king without his people may be nothing. But a people without their king is lost.”

Kodo nodded. “On that, we can agree.”

As they rounded the last corner before the castle, Kodo smiled as he saw Shiva waiting outside for him. Seeing her warm smile. Her pristine white fur. The look of love in her chocolate brown eyes.

Sombra shivered as he felt Kodo’s love and admiration for his mother swell. There was truly no way he was going to be able to get Kodo to do what he wanted.

Not while Shiva was around.

But Sombra didn’t let his train of thought on that go too far. At least not without Kodo listening. But Kodo seemed oblivious to the voice in his head for now. He bounded forward and jumped into his mother’s arms.

Leaving Sombra free to consider possible ways to get Shiva out of his way.

Death was certainly an easy option. Poison in her food. A knife in the back. It had been attempted plenty of times in Sombra’s court. But it would also devastate Kodo. To the point of being unable to do anything? Well... that was a gamble Sombra wasn’t sure he could take.

He then thought of the mirror. How Shiva had seemed so… tempted by it. So, curious to see what lay on the other side.

He hummed in intrigue, before noticing something about Shiva; her gaze was haggard. Almost like she was hiding something important.

“Kodo,” she said into her son’s ear. “You know I love you more than life itself, yes?”

“Of course,” Kodo said, so blissfully ignorant of Shiva’s tone and hesitation.

“I will do anything to keep you safe,” she insisted.

“And I’d do the same for you,” he said.

Oh, the benefits of youth. Sombra could tell that, despite his penchant for anger, Kodo truly loved his mother. Whatever she was planning, Kodo was not going to see it coming.

“So, I hope you’ll understand,” Shiva said, pulling him into the castle.

“Understand what?”

His tone was still so curious. He was so unaware of the danger he was in.

Kodo,” Sombra barked in his head. “It’s a trap!”

Confusion briefly flashed through his mind. Before he saw six glowing mares standing before him.

“KODO!” Sombra screamed.

He knew what they were there for. He could already see the beams blasting towards them. Ready to wash him free of his host and turn him into the ashes that should have been left when the Crystal Heart was done with him. He turned to run, but the doors slammed shut, Spike and Starlight pushing them closed.

But in Kodo’s shock, he grabbed Shiva’s claw before she could get out of the way. And a pack link formed.

Sombra could sense Shiva’s hesitation. He could sense her fear. A voice inside her was already saying; protect him. Protect your son.

But… another voice whispered. This will help him.

Sombra added his voice to the one of her maternal instinct.

HELP HIM!” He boomed.

Shocked by the force of the voice, Shiva jumped to Kodo's defense, a shield spiraling around them. The beam crashed into her shield. But it wouldn’t hold for long.

“Kodo,” Sombra insisted, reaching out to the boy’s magic as well as his own. “Trust me.”

In his fear, Kodo could only nod and allow access. And as he clung tightly to his mother, Sombra controlled his other claw, and lashed out.

Six pack link tendrils flew from underneath the beam, wrapping like plunder vines around the Mane Six. Gasps of pain sounded from them, and their magic sputtered out as Sombra pulled the magic from them.

“Guys?” Spike stammered. “Guys!”

“Spike, look!” Starlight tried to point out.

But Sombra was fast, and the strength Kodo was gaining from the magic fueled him. Sending two surges through the links, he lashed Starlight to Twilight, and Spike to Rarity. With a final pull, Sombra yanked their energy from them. And the ponies and dragon collapsed in an unconscious heap.

As Sombra stood tall in his host’s body, Shiva slipped from his side, collapsing as well upon the marble floor.

The doors were shut. No one would know what had happened. No one but Sombra.

But only if he acted fast. This was his chance. But what to do.

He could try and kill the Mane Six.


No, he could feel Kodo fighting him on that. The boy was still in there. And with him, those blasted morals. He wasn’t even sure he’d be able to take out Shiva without…

Wait…a new idea formed in his mind. One he tried to keep concealed from Kodo.

But the boy fought. What are you hiding? He tried to ask.

Acting fast, Sombra seized Shiva by the head. And he reactivated the pack link. Her memories flashed before his eyes. Her imprisonment. Her grudges. Her forgiveness. Letting them flow through him like a current in a river, he forced those memories into Kodo, drowning him in every experience his mother had gone through.

Trying to keep priority on her time in the cage, Sombra dragged Shiva away from the lobby. A quick search through the memories told him exactly where to go. And before long, he stood in front of the mirror to the human world.

He focused down on Shiva. Her face was so serene and calm, trapped in the throes of unconsiousness, despite what he was doing. Channeling his newfound strength, he delved deeper into her memories. Not just seeking to share them, he sought to uproot them.

Bit by bit, he emptied her mind of her experiences in Equestria. Her family. Her pack. Her Empire. All of it was sucked away into Kodo’s mind, drowning his host's original soul and keeping him from seeing what Sombra was doing.

Among those memories, he left the ones of her original life. A simple dog, owned by a loving master.

It’s the least I can do, he found himself thinking. You protected me from the Crystal Heart. You were a good mother to my host. You deserve far better than to be killed among the ponies you used to hate.

Lifting her body, Sombra turned to the mirror.

Once, you wanted this life back,”Sombra noted. “Go ahead and have it.”

And with a small laugh, he tossed her body forward, watching it sink into the mirror.


Twilight’s eyes slowly fluttered open. Groaning, she pulled herself to her hooves.

“What… happened?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“That was weird,” Pinkie asked. “The Element Beam is pretty exhausting. But I don’t remember it being that exhausting.”

“Every pony okay?” Applejack asked.

As the others affirmed their status, Twilight looked to Spike, Starlight, Shiva and Kodo.

“Guys,” she muttered. “What…?”

But then she noticed one of them was missing. And the other was looking around, panic beginning to set in.

“W-Where is she?” Kodo stammered.

“Kodo?” Twilight squeaked. Hesitantly, she flared up her magic, hoping against hope that the spell had somehow worked. That his soul was clear of Sombra’s wrath. That somehow, the end she had longed for could still be within her grasp.

But his next words proved she had been a foal to think victory was so close at hand. That peace between nations was now probably farther away from her than it had ever been before.

“Sparkle,” Kodo seethed. “WHERE IS MY MOTHER?!”

Chapter 2: Banners and Bluffs

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To all Rulers of Equestria and its city states,

Alpha Shiva of the Crystal Empire, has gone missing. We believe that King Sombra is responsible, as we found out a fragment of his consciousness and magic has been taking refuge in her son, Beta Kodo.

We will be doing everything we can to track him down, but we need your help. If you find any clues that could lead us to Shiva’s whereabouts, please let us know.

Thank you in advance,

Princess Twilight Sparkle, Princess of Friendship, and Ruler of Ponyville.


Celestia’s magic trembled as she held Twilight’s letter. With a flash of her magic, she teleported to Luna’s room. The Princess of the Night was asleep, but Celestia shook her away.

“Luna!” she hissed. “LUNA!”

Luna blinked away, rubbing sleep from her eyes. “Sister?” she mumbled. “I was…” But her sentence petered out when Celestia held out the letter to her. She seized the letter, the sleep rapidly fading from her eyes as she read.

“I-Is this true?” she demanded.

“Twilight’s sense of humor doesn’t include jokes like this, Luna,” Celestia insisted, her voice grave.

Luna glanced down at the letter again before tossing it aside and rising. “I’ll inform the Lunar Guard,” she said.

“And I’ll inform the Solar Guard,” Celestia replied. “We need to get to Ponyville before Shiva’s Iron Paws do.”

Luna shuddered. “Alpha Luke was a terror when he thought we had murdered his beloved. Who knows how he’ll react when he discovers this?”

Celestia sighed. “Be honest with yourself, sister,” she said before teleporting away. “We both know how he’ll react.”


Luke yanked open the door to an armory, yanking out an axe. “SHIVA KIDNAPPED?!” he bellowed. “WHOEVER’S RESPONSIBLE; I’LL SEE THEM TORN TO SHREDS!”

“Luke, I understand your pain,” Cadence insisted, following after him while Shining Armor similarly loaded up on weapons. “But you need to remain calm.”

“Indeed,” Scorpia agreed. “You’re scaring your daughter.”

Luke’s ears flattened, glancing back as the young beta hid from him. His face softening, he returned to Celine’s side.

“I’m sorry, Celine,” he whispered. “Are you okay?”

She swallowed. “Well, my mother’s missing and my brother has a villain in his head,” she admitted. “But other than that, I think I’m doing okay.”

Luke chuckled softly. “Well, she’s not going to be missing for long,” he promised her. “We’re going to find her, and get Sombra out of your brother, okay? And everything’s going to be just fine.”

Celine nodded, resting her head against his head. “I believe you.” She withdrew. “As long as you remember to work with our allies.”

Luke grimaced, glancing over at Shining. But the Captain and Prince of the Crystal Empire gave the Alpha Male a reassuring nod.

“Cadence was taken from me by Chrysalis,” Shining reminded Luke. “I’ll be consigned to Tartarus before I let someone else go through the pain of losing their loved one like that.”

Luke’s ears perked, and he turned to Shining. “Thank you,” he said.

Skippy walked up to the two. “C’mon,” he said. “Let’s go get her back.”

Shining grinned. “Don’t count out Twilight just yet,” Shining said. “You guys helped her with Sombra, Tirek and Chrysalis, but she had to take on Discord and Nightmare Moon on her own. And if there’s one thing I love about my sister, it’s that she never gives up.”


Kodo’s mind was dark. Covered in shadows. As Twilight forced her way inside, she tried to light the shadows with her horn. All she managed to produce was a small circle of purple light.

“Kodo!” She called. “Kodo! Come on, Kodo, I know you’re in here!”

“Twilight…” Kodo mumbled.

“Kodo!” she called, racing towards his voice. “Hang on. Just let me…”

But right as he came into view, Twilight skidded to a stop. Something was wrapped around the poor wolf like oil. Gleaming eyes glittered from the oil, as Kodo struggled to stay on his paws.

Well,” the oil spoke, withdrawing from around Kodo. “At last, we meet face to face… Twilight Sparkle…”

Twilight glowered as Sombra formed his own body, standing next to Kodo as the three of them stood, linked by glowing chains. Yet, the ones coming from Sombra were a sickly black, and stayed almost painted to Kodo. The same slimy darkness tried to make its way to Twilight, only to be repelled by her magic.

“That’s ‘Princess’ Twilight Sparkle to you,” Twilight growled.

Ah yes,” Sombra mused. “My apologies. I wasn’t invited to your… coronation.”He grinned at Kodo, who was glowering at them both in suspicion. “And my dear new friend wasn’t either.” He grinned at his host. “She wears her new wings well, don’t you agree, Kodo?”

Kodo turned to him. “Cut the clods, Sombra,” he growled. “What did you do to my mother?”

Sombra gasped, clutching his chest. “I’m hurt, Kodo. After all we’ve been through together, you’d assume I would do something horrible to your devoted and precious mother?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Twilight demanded. “You stopped us from purifying his body.”

“And you stopped Nightmare Moon from plunging the land into Eternal Night,” Sombra pointed out. “What’s your point?”

“Shiva didn’t do anything to you,” Kodo insisted. “Not like them!”

Sombra tsked. “Oh, but she did, Kodo. She made the same mistake you and this alicorn have made.”

Kodo and Twilight peered at each other. “What are you talking about?”

Sombra smirked. “Why be a mere princess,” he asked Twilight. “When you can be a queen?” He turned to Kodo. “Why should your mother be a lowly Alpha, when she could be a Goddess?”

Kodo blinked. “W-What?” he asked.

Sombra produced a black image. Shiva sitting on the Canterlot Throne. All the creatures of the world bowing to her. Twilight shivered, clutching at her chest.

“The alicorns limit themselves,” Sombra explained. “And they imposed this limitation on your mother. They make it seem like Princesses are the highest levels of authority… when Kings and Queens stand above them.”

Twilight narrowed her eyes, while Kodo stared, transfixed at the image of his mother.

Your mother could have had the world, Kodo,” Sombra mused. “She did once, thanks to that unicorn Starlight Glimmer.” He peered at Twilight. “A unicorn this princess intends to subjugate just as Celestia did to her.”

Twilight and Kodo stared at each other, Kodo with flattened ears, while Twilight raised a hind leg.

“I’m truly sorry you have to learn this way,” Sombra insisted. “But there is so much you both need to learn.” He inched forward. “I could elevate you both to where Celestia never dared go. Teach you magic Celestia is too afraid to even touch.”He furrowed his brow in pity at Kodo. “Are we really so different, young wolf? We both…”


Sombra paused. Both he and Kodo turned to Twilight.

“I’ve heard this a hundred times in a hundred stories,” Twilight growled. “You’re gonna say that he’s ‘not so different’ from you, rattle off a bunch of traits you think you share, and then convince him to stay on your side.”

“What?” Sombra demanded, but she had gained Kodo’s attention.

“But let me tell you something, Sombra,” Twilight growled passionately. “If Kodo is anything like his mother, then he and you are NOTHING alike. Shiva earned her friends. She earned her place in the Crystal Empire. Everything she got, she earned. And she taught Kodo to do the same.”

She formed an image of her own with her magic: Shiva, Kodo and Celine, standing on the balcony.

“Before either of you have the chance to hold the title of Alpha, I will see to it that you understand… You may lead the pack, but that does not make you their master!”

“What does that compare to?” Twilight growled at Sombra. “You TOOK your throne by force. You made yourself the master of a pack you STOLE!”

She strode forward as Sombra glowered at her.

“Shiva powered through hate and violence, and got to where she was through maturity, kindness and generosity. You answered kindness with violence, and she rightly beat you.”

She stood tall between Kodo and Sombra.

“If Kodo wants to make his mother proud,” Twilight said. “He will NEVER be ANYTHING like you. Now tell us.” Her wings flared. “Where did you hide her? Bring forth her memories so we can save her.”

For a moment, Sombra glared at her. Before he smirked.

And why should I do that?” he replied. “The minute you find out where Shiva is, you’ll answer my generosity with death.”He glanced over at Kodo. “Your mother certainly sounds like an angel, Kodo. Would she really be comfortable with that kind of exchange?”

“Stop bringing her into it!” Kodo snapped, even as doubt creased his face.

Face it,” Sombra replied. “If you really want your dear mother back, you’ll have to do what I say.”

“Really?” Kodo snapped. “This is my head. MY MEMORIES!”

But, you were unconscious when your mother was lost,” Sombra pointed out. He produced a memory that briefly showed an unconscious Shiva, only for the image to be blocked by a lock. “I could tell you where she is.” He glared at Twilight. “But the alicorn will have to go. Considering you can’t even speak for yourself when she’s around.”

Kodo snarled, but his tail remained tucked. Twilight stood firmly by his side.

“I’m not leaving without that memory,” she insisted.

Sombra sat back on a throne of shadows with a smirk. “Then I’m afraid we are at an impasse,” he replied. “Kodo, be a good friend, and show the alicorn the door. I’d consider telling you. But not her.”

Kodo moved forward, a desperate light in his eyes. However, Twilight tried to grab him.

“Kodo, no,” she insisted. “He’s trying to manipulate you.”

Kodo looked at her with broken green eyes. “It’s working,” he said sadly.

“Kodo?” Twilight asked, before she felt her link to him fading. “Kodo, no!”

“Try to find her,” he whispered. “I’ll work on him from the inside. See if we can’t get anywhere.”

“KODO!” Twilight protested.

But he and Sombra vanished into shadows. And Twilight snapped awake, finding herself back in the Castle of Friendship. Kodo stood before her, his head lowered and his eyes closed. His fur glowed softly, but otherwise, he showed no signs of life.

Twilight stared at his form sadly, before the other mares converged around her.

“Well?” Applejack asked. “Did ya find out where he put Shiva?”

“It’s in the mirror, isn’t it?” Spike noted. “It’s gotta be.”

“Or maybe somewhere underground,” Rainbow Dash offered. “He’s using a diamond dog for a vessel.”

Twilight shook her head, cutting them all off. “He’s keeping tight-lipped about it,” she admitted. “He’s got Kodo wrapped around his hoof, knows exactly what to say to make him squirm. Kodo said he’d try to find the memory, but…” She turned to her friends. “Unless we can find another way to get past his control and retrieve the memory ourselves, I’m afraid we have to leave Kodo with him.”

“Leave Kodo with King Sombra?” Rarity demanded. She turned to the young wolf. “But look at the poor thing.”

He twitched, his eyes still shut and a soft mumble escaping his lips.

“I know,” Twilight said sadly. “But Sombra’s got too much control over him. He’s been with him since he was a baby. He’ll need serious help to even get close to overcoming him.”

“PRINCESS TWILIGHT!” a voice screamed.

Twilight groaned. “Oh, what now?” she asked, bustling outside to find Mayor Mare racing up to them.

“Oh, Princess…” the mayor gasped, panting as she nearly collapsed before her.

“What happened, Mayor Mare?” Twilight asked. “We’re already kind of busy…”

But her voice petered out as the still-out-of-breath Mayor pointed. Twilight followed the direction of her hoof… and her heart jumped as what looked like five separate armies converged on her.

From Canterlot, Celestia led a group of golden armored guards. Luna marched alongside her, sister, followed by the purple armored soldiers of the night known as the Lunar Guard.

Meanwhile, off in the distance, Twilight could see a group of crystal armored ponies, walking side by side with diamond dogs and changelings. Though they were still several miles away, Twilight recognized the purple armor of her brother, along with the darker armor of Shiva's mate.

“Looks like we got reinforcements.”

Thought Twilight shivered at the burning fire in Luke’s eyes, she forced herself to focus on the gentler looks of her brother and mentor.

“Yes,” she said. “We’ve got support.”

“Yes, we do,” a voice commented. The mares spun as Kodo joined them, his eyes a different shade of green. Outlined with purple magic.

Chapter 3: The First Domino

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As Twilight was pushed out of Kodo’s mind, the young wolf turned back to Sombra with a glower.

“Now,” Kodo growled. “Where is she?”

“Now-now, patience,”Sombra chastised. “I’m doing this just as much for your sake as mine.”

Kodo’s ears flattened. “You still think I’ll believe the ponies are my enemies, right?” he grumbled.

They are your enemies, boy,” Sombra insisted. “Just as much as they are mine. Think about it: even if, by some miracle, they pull me from your mind and defeat me, do you really think they’ll accept you? After knowing that I was in your head since the day you came into this world?”

“I never wanted to be accepted by them,” Kodo snapped. “I just wanted to be left alone.”

Wrong,” Sombra growled. “You wanted what your mother wanted. Up until now, you’ve just done what she said. Been the good son. But the good son deserves a fitting reward.” Sombra smirked. “One that could’ve been in your grasp, had your mother simply been braver.”

Kodo didn't need to be reminded. The memory flared before him just by pondering it: Shiva sitting on the throne of Canterlot. The world submitting before her. Dragons, griffons, minotaurs… every creature on the planet at her whim.

“That doesn’t need to be a fantasy,”Sombra insisted. “It can be reality.”

“As long as I’m on the throne,” Kodo guessed. “With you at the controls!”

Sombra didn’t dare speak. But Kodo saw his intention well enough.

“Forget it,” Kodo snapped. “Just give me back my mother!”

Shiva taught you better than that,” Sombra said firmly. “If you want something, you have to be willing to give something in return. Isn’t that the reason why she had you fix that foal’s home after you burned it down?”

Kodo had no response.
Put Equestria under my rule, then I will show you where your mother is. And she will return to our Equestria. The Equestria she should have had.”

“As if Celestia and the others will just hand it over to you?” Kodo asked.

You underestimate your own abilities,” Sombra noted. “As well as the abilities of your pack.”


As Luke walked up to the Ponyville castle, a smaller diamond dog scrambled to stay by his side.

“It’s war, isn’t it?” the little dog yapped. “I always knew this was gonna happen. If they don’t hand over Alpha Shiva…”

“Muffins,” Luke growled, hating whoever named the diamond dog. “Have patience. We’ll know what happened soon enough.”

Indeed, Princess Twilight was waiting for them as the five royal figures and their armies converged on her. Luke grimaced as Twilight ran to Celestia first, but didn’t dare comment.

“Princess Celestia,” Twilight greeted, nodding to the others. “Thank you all for coming."

“No matter the species,” Celestia said. “An attack on any of our royalty is an attack on Equestria itself.” She nodded to Luke. “We are at your disposal.”

“That still depends on where she is,” Luke asked, giving the Mane Six a suspicious look. “How did she manage to be slipped away from all six of you and both of your guardians?”

Spike blushed. “Um… technically, I’m just an assistant,” he said.

“Don’t underestimate yourself,” Luke said. “You’re still a dragon. But where is my wife?”

The group turned to Kodo, who shut his eyes with a sigh.
“Sombra’s hiding her,” he said. “He says he’ll only reveal where she is…” he looked to Celestia. “If Celestia hands over the throne.”

“NO!” Luna, Shining and Twilight barked at the same time.

“That is rather insane,” Skippy admitted.

“Plus… we don’t need him,” Spike realized. “I think I know where Shiva is.”

Luke and the others turned to him. “You do?” Luke asked, before it clicked. “Wait… of course…”

“What?” Twilight asked.

“The mirror!” Luke and Spike said at the same time. Kodo grimaced, his eyes briefly flashing as Sombra seemed to squirm in his host’s body.

“It makes sense,” Luke said. “She was curious in the world beyond.”

Twilight gasped. “And the world beyond the mirror has humans,” she said. “If Sombra used a memory wipe spell… she could be just a stone’s throw away and not even realize it herself.”

But as the royalty bustled into the castle, and headed for where the room was kept, Kodo squirmed again. Luke put a paw around him as he led him on.

“Don’t worry, son,” he said. “We’ll get your mother back. And then we’ll get that scum out of your head.”

Are you sure you want to do that, Alpha Luke?” Sombra asked with Kodo’s voice. “Did you ever trust the ponies to treat you and your own as one of them?”

Luke hesitated, long enough for a scream to rip the air. He and Kodo dashed after the others. However, as they entered, Sombra bit back a chuckle.

The mirror was gone. Not smashed; not even broken, but completely missing. A small mark of dust was the only sign that it had ever been there.

“Where is it?” Twilight demanded, whirling on Kodo. “What did you do with the mirror, Sombra?!"

Luke stepped in front of Twilight. “Princess,” he reminded her with a growl. “My son is still in there.”

Sure enough, when Kodo peered at where the mirror had been, his eyes were his own shade of green. Celestia, however, strode forward.

“My apologies, Luke,” she said sternly. “But Sombra is still hiding in his mind.” With a flare of her magic, she lifted Luke away, glaring down Kodo. “You have attacked one of my allies and stolen one of my items, King Sombra. You would be wise to tell me where they are.”

But Kodo’s eyes didn’t flash, even as he glanced around, as if hoping for Sombra to jump in.

“Sombra?” Kodo demanded. “Any day now.”

Luna stamped her hoof. “This is pointless,” she said, turning to the outside. “Let’s look through Ponyville. He can’t have sent it far.”

Luke nodded. “Well-well… something we agree on,” he noted.

Together, the Princess of the Night and the Alpha Male Diamond Dog raced back outside.

“The Mirror to the Human World is gone,” Luna declared.

“Spread out!” Luke barked to his dogs. “Track it down!”

The dogs growled in agreement, and raced into the town, closely followed by the Lunar Guard. The changelings, Solar Guard and Crystal Guard gave their leaders a nervous look. However, Skippy motioned for them to follow, as did Shining.

Celestia, however, stayed focused on Sombra.

“Find the mirror,” she commanded without breaking her gaze. “So that we may punish this demon.”

“Still me you’re talking to,” Kodo growled, fidgeting under her gaze.

“Celestia, enough,” Luke said, moving to Kodo’s side. “I’m not happy about Sombra either, but I’m not going to let my son be threatened.”

“I don’t suppose you have a better way to talk to Sombra,” Twilight grumped. “He’s not letting us speak to him.”

Luke peered at his son. “No,” he admitted. “But what if he responds better to a non-pony?”

Gripping his arm, Luke let a pack link flare to life between them. As their bodies glowed like diamonds, Luke sunk into Kodo’s mind.

Just like Twilight before him, Luke found Kodo and Sombra side by side. Yet, both sat on thrones of shadow.

“Welcome, Father of My Host,” Sombra greeted, like Luke was an honored guest. “I was hoping you’d come.”

“What did you do with my mate, Sombra,” Luke growled.

Kodo sighed as Sombra rolled his eyes. “It’s like a one-note track with these creatures,” Sombra noted to Kodo. “I daresay Shiva must be the next Faust.”

Luke strode forward, energy crackling dangerously around him, before Sombra lifted a hoof in a placating gesture.

“I mean it as a compliment, Alpha Luke,” He noted. “She is quite a powerful woman. More powerful than Celestia, if she only would’ve acted on it.”

Luke paused, sharing a glance with Kodo.

Did it ever bother you that she didn’t take the Crystal Empire for her own?” Sombra asked. “That she accepted this little ‘alliance’ between you, the changelings and the ponies?”

Luke glared down, but his memories couldn’t lie. The resentment; the paranoia. The fear that Shiva had made a mistake. It emanated from his body like the stink on a skunk. Sombra grinned at his discontentment.

“I don’t suppose you remember what happened in the alternate timeline,” Sombra noted. “How you were a King. Sharing the rule only with the one you loved.”

Luke looked up in confusion as the memory flashed faintly before him: This time, it had Luke with Shiva. Sitting side by side as the whole of Equus bowed to them. Luke gazed at it, mesmerized.

Why keep this as a fantasy?” Sombra asked. “Shiva gave you the power to forge your own destiny. Why not make it something more than a glorified guard of the ponies?”

Luke glanced back at Kodo, who glared at Sombra.

“Wouldn’t that be what we are to you, Sombra?” Kodo asked.

“Only if you lose to me,” Sombra admitted. He turned back to Luke. “But before you can worry about me, you must beat Celestia, take Equestria and get your mate back first. I could help you with that.” He shrugged. “But… if you’d rather stay as the errand boy to one of Celestia’s toys…”

Luke grit his teeth, but the King of Darkness faded back into shadows.

“Don’t worry,” Kodo noted. “He can’t get anywhere outside of my head.”

“Which should make him easy to handle,” Luke noted. “From both sides…” He turned back to his son. “Kodo, you realize we’re striking a deal with the devil on this.”

“Pretty much,” Kodo admitted. “But if he’s right. And if we can take Equestria for our own…” he shook his head. “Mother always deserved more than what she got.”

Luke chuckled. “Didn’t we all?” he noted. “But how do we know Sombra will let us enjoy it when we get it?”

“It’s like he mentioned,” Kodo pointed out. “We’ve got a long way to go before we need to worry about that.”

Luke stepped forward and gripped his son’s head. “Still,” he said. “Let’s agree that once Equestria is ours… he goes down.”

Kodo shivered with doubt, but when he gazed into his father’s eyes, all he could really do was nod.


As the guards searched through the town, every eye stayed on the diamond dogs. Desperation and anger fueled them, as they stormed from house to house. Where the ponies and changelings at least tried to be polite – knocking on doors and asking if the residents had sensed any magic – the diamond dogs were more forceful – kicking doors down and stampeding through the house. “Where is the Alpha?!” echoed through the entire town.

“Can’t they roll it back?” Rainbow Dash asked as she watched Sugarcube Corner get broken into.

“They lost their leader,” Applejack replied. “Wouldn’t you be frightened if Twi up and vanished?” Yet, even as she said it, she paled as several diamond dogs scurried towards Sweet Apple Acres.

“Let’s just figure out where he put the mirror, and be done with this whole thing,” Twilight insisted, flaring her horn and searching desperately for any signs of magic.

But then… they were drawn to a scream of pain. Far too high pitched to be an adult.

Paling, Twilight raced to the source. She found herself outside Canterlot Boutique. Rarity was holding a sobbing Sweetie Belle away from the diamond dog Muffins, her horn glowing as she forced the smaller diamond dog back. But several other dogs were bearing down on her, and Rarity’s face, though angry, was streaked with fear.

Rainbow Dash didn’t hesitate. She shot forward, her hooves planting into Muffins’ side. He hit the ground rolling, several diamond dogs converging around him.

“Stay away from my friends, dog,” Rainbow Dash growled… only for a dark tendril to wrap around her neck. She gagged, getting lifted into the air, as Kodo appeared, his tendril choking the life from her.

“Kodo!” Twilight yelled, her horn flaring. “Sombra, let her go now!”

But when Kodo glared at her… Twilight stepped back. Kodo’s eyes weren’t green enough. The purple outlines were gone. For all intents and purposes, Kodo should’ve been the one in control. Yet… he was still strangling Rainbow Dash.

“Kodo?” Twilight asked.

“Sombra!” Celestia boomed, converging on the young wolf, alongside her fellow alicorns. “Release the Element of Loyalty now!”

Kodo glared at her. “Who said Sombra was in control?” he growled.

Celestia’s eyes widened in horror… before Luke caught her upside the head with a slash. As she tumbled into Luna’s side, Luke raced to Kodo’s side.

“Boys,” he declared. “We’ve been betrayed. Fall back!”

“What? No!” Twilight protested.

But as the dogs gave the ponies glowers that promised war, they withdrew. Muffins was picked up by a bigger dog, and raced away. Kodo threw Rainbow Dash into the Mane Six, leaving Spike to race after him, pursuing them to the train station.

“Kodo, Luke, stop!” he pleaded. “This isn’t what Shiva would want.”

Kodo paused, looking back at the young dragon.

“No,” he admitted. “It’s not.” He raised his paw. “But she’s not here now.”

With a blast of lightning, the train station – along with the train – exploded. Spike was thrown back by the force of the blast. As he hit the ground, the ponies converged on his location.

But the diamond dogs were gone. Only small bits of worm sign were left, tearing up the train tracks as they left towards the North.

“They’re heading back to the Crystal Empire,” Shining whispered. His horn flared. “Sombra must be moving them to gather Shiva's forces.”

Skippy gasped. “Celine,” he whispered. “Princess Scorpia. A-And Princess Cadence. None of them know!”

Twilight’s horn flared as well. “They will,” she said.

“Hurry,” Celestia agreed, as the purple mare vanished in a flash of light.

“Should we go too, sister?” Luna asked.

Celestia pondered it, staring at the retreating dogs.

“No,” she declared. “If Twilight fails… we must be ready for Sombra’s next move.”

Chapter 4: Back to the Empire

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Even before Kodo and Luke returned, Celine wasn’t having a good day. She already had the fear that her mother was gone and that her father and brother might mess everything up. And to make matters worse… Princess Cadence had gone into labor.

As Celine paced outside, listening to the mare’s cries, she couldn’t help but hold her head in shame.

“Beta Celine,” Scorpia asked. “What troubles you?”

“Aside from my family issues?” Celine asked with a vacant attempt at a grin. She sighed. “Prince Armor should be here. Instead, he’s out looking for my mother.”

“Don’t blame yourself,” Scorpia replied. “You did the best you could.”

Celine grinned softly. Yet, as the door opened, the two found that the storm had passed.

Cadence held a large bundle, her face tired but triumphant. She gazed up at her fellow princesses.

“Is she…?” Celine whispered, striding forward.

Cadence smiled softly, and shifted the bundle in Celine’s direction. A healthy filly gazed up at Celine with light opal eyes. Her fur was a soft pinkish white, clearly a mixture of her mother and father’s fur colors.

Yet, as Celine gazed upon her in awe… she also noticed wings poking out from the back. Yet… a horn was also perched on the young filly’s head, nestled among her purple and blue mane.

“She’s… an alicorn,” Celine whispered.

Cadence nodded softly, too tired to express any emotion other than love.

“Yes,” she whispered. “She’s perfect. Absolutely perfect.”

Celine and Scorpia shared a glance, before movement drew Celine’s eyes. Briefly, she thought she saw a shadow in the corner of the room. But before she could investigate, much more blatant movement caught her attention outside the door.

Celine and Scorpia turned as a changeling appeared before them.

“Do not disturb the princess,” Scorpia warned.

“We may have to,” the changeling said. “Alpha Luke returns with Beta Kodo and the diamond dog forces. Shiva is not with them, and…” He gave a nervous glance back. “They’re destroying the train tracks back into Equestria.”

Celine’s ears flattened. “What?!”

Darting past the changelings, Celine sprinted out of the castle and towards the borders. A crowd was already drawing to the sight; ponies, changelings and diamond dogs staring in shock as small mounds of earth pushed the train tracks up and out of alignment.

Celine shook her head, moving to get closer… when a flash of purple light knocked her off course.

“Beta Celine!” Twilight stammered, practically falling out of her teleportation spell. She glanced around frantically. “Am I too late?”

Almost in answer, the citizens of the Crystal Empire crowded around the alicorn.

“What happened?” and “Is Alpha Shiva okay?” and “Why are the train tracks being destroyed?” swirled around the two royals like a tornado.

“Every pony,” Twilight tried to yell above the questions. “Sombra is loose! He’s going to try and take the Crystal Empire back!”

Instantly, a third of the ponies shrunk down.

“S-Sombra?!” they whispered, the flashes of pain already becoming clear in their eyes. “He’s back?!”


The diamond dogs yelped and parted as Kodo and Luke strode forward, covered in dirt from digging. Kodo’s eyes flashed, and the sight sent the remaining ponies scurrying behind their changeling and diamond dog neighbors.

Twilight,” Kodo seethed, Sombra leaking into his voice. “Come to sway my sister away with more lies and spells?!”

“Kodo,” Celine stammered, shrugging off Scorpia and Twilight when they tried to hold her back. “What’s going on?”

Kodo glanced around at the diamond dogs, all whispering among themselves.

“The ponies have betrayed us!” he declared, a gasp rippling through the canine populace.

“No!” Twilight tried to protest.

“What?!” Celine stammered, but Kodo spoke over her.

“They drew Shiva away with honeyed promises,” Kodo continued. “Then betrayed her in the hopes of manipulating me to be their willing subject.”

“But…” Celine whispered.

“Never!” Twilight snarled, turning to the crowd. “King Sombra is in your Beta! He’s trying to trick you!”

Kodo grimaced, his eyes flashing again, but he managed to cover it with a laugh.

“And now they intend to heap the blame on a long dead foe?” he asked. “A foe that their magic slayed?” He looked to Celine appealingly. “What does that say about the so-called ‘kindest race’ of Equestria?”

“I…” Celine tried to say, but he turned to the diamond dogs.

“They have always looked on us as inferior. Is it really impossible that they wouldn’t use the same tactics on Sombra against us?!”

“Sombra, stop it!” Twilight screamed, before switching to Celine. “Celine, please listen to me…”

“Don’t!” Luke snarled, snatching Celine away. “I won’t have another one of my children poisoned by your lies, alicorn!”

“Wait…” Celine tried to say, but Scorpia stepped forward before she could speak.

Scorpia stepped forward. “Alpha Luke, please…” she tried to say, but Kodo turned to her with a crafty light in his flashing eyes.

“You have just as much reason to fear, Princess Scorpia,” he said. “You and your entire hive.” He turned to the changelings. “May I ask; have ponies ever gotten over what Chrysalis did to Canterlot?”

The dogs were already growling, but several changelings winced in repressed anger.

“A blatant act of villainy by one that doesn’t stand for all of you,” Kodo noted. “And did the ponies care? Did they ever act like you weren’t part of that?”

“Will you guys…” Celine tried to interject.

“These ponies do,” Scorpia said firmly. “And we have taken steps to ensure that we are never mistaken for Chrysalis again. Changelings are not the enemy of Equestria.”

“But diamond dogs are,” Kodo pointed out. “They always will be, as long as their most powerful are not under the hoof of Celestia, or one of her council.”

“But Cadence is…” Celine tried to say.

“What? Cadence?!” Twilight asked, before paling. “W-Where is she?”

“She’s just given birth,” Scorpia whispered to her. “Now’s not the time to disturb her.”

But in her moment of comfort, Kodo turned back to the other diamond dogs. Celine started to growl in frustration.

“Why should we have to struggle to make amends to ponies?” he asked. “We were always better than them. Why share what we could take?” He indicated the crystal Empire. “Why align when this was ours by right?”

“If you’d just let me speak…” Celine growled.

“You don’t get to talk,” Twilight argued with Kodo. “Your mother was the one that saved this empire. It was her decision!”

“A decision you stole from her!” Kodo barked, the dogs barking in agreement.

“Everyone SHUT UP!” Celine barked as Twilight moved to retort, finally getting everyone’s attention. “How is this helping anyone get Mother back.”

“On the contrary, young one,” Luke said. “The only way we’re going to get her back…” he glared at Twilight. “Is if we take her by force.”

Twilight shook her head, but the power of words was fading fast. The diamond dogs were riled up. They were glaring at their pony neighbors, the changelings… and most of all, at the purple alicorn.

Twilight stepped back, before looking to Celine. The poor beta looked utterly overwhelmed. She gave a hopeless look to Luke and Kodo, but both of them were focused on the alicorns. And Kodo was beginning to glow with Sombra’s magic.

Twilight didn’t know if talk would work on them anymore. She turned sadly to Scorpia.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, before flaring her horn.

The diamond dogs jumped back, snarling as they prepared for whatever attack she was going for.

But Celine recognized the flare of a teleportation spell. And just before Twilight vanished, Celine jumped forward, snatching her by the withers.

Then Twilight vanished… with Celine in tow.

Deep inside Kodo’s mind, Sombra chuckled. “Bad move, princess,” he whispered.

Indeed, as Kodo whirled on Scorpia, the changeling princess flared her horn. Reason was gone from the young wolf’s mind.

“WHAT DID SHE DO WITH HER!” Kodo yelled, even as he lunged forward, the Crystal city descending into chaos.


Meanwhile, in Canterlot, Twilight hit the ground with a grunt, Celine following right behind her.

“What the… how?” Twilight stammered, staring at Celine in shock.

“Kodo and Luke weren’t letting me get a word in,” Celine growled, pulling Twilight up. “But you need to tell me what happened exactly.”

“That we will, Beta Celine,” Celestia’s voice declared.

Twilight and Celine spun to find Celestia and Luna, almost waiting for them.

“Princesses,” Twilight stammered, falling to a bow. “I tried. But Kodo got there at the same time. A-And he was so angry he…”

“Calm,” Celestia said, turning to Celine. “What’s important is who came with you.”

“Princess,” Celine said firmly, briefly sinking into a bow. A bow that brought a grin to Celestia’s face until Celine gazed back up at her with determination. “Where is my mother? Who's Sombra? Why was my brother trying to destroy the peace she built with you?”

Celestia’s grin faded. “Please understand, Beta Celine,” Celestia said, kneeling to Celine’s level. “Your father and brother are being manipulated by King Sombra; a dark unicorn spirit who plagued the Crystal Empire before you were born.” Her head lowered. “We thought that the Crystal Heart destroyed him for good. But he has found refuge in your brother. And he twists your brother’s mind, making him serve his will.”

Celine gasped, lowering her head. “Poor Kodo,” she whispered.

“Up until now,” Celestia continued. “Your mother’s magic has kept Sombra at bay. But in attempting to rid Kodo of his evil permanently, he overpowered your mother, flung her into another dimension, and has concealed the way back to the dimension that holds her.” She lifted Celine’s hoof. “We will do everything we can to get your mother back. But Sombra must be contained until we do.”

“How?” Celine asked. “I-If he has my brother…”

“Your brother is not Sombra,” Luna said, striding up to Celine’s side. “He still fights within. Sombra has twisted his mind, but we believe that you can bring him out of his madness.” She grinned. “After all, he was willing to burn down Ponyville for you.”

“Part of Ponyville,” Celine corrected sheepishly, but Celestia smiled reassuringly at her.

“I know your family hasn’t trusted me easily,” Celestia admitted. “But I swear to you, on my honor as a princess: help us with your brother, and you will get your family back… and more.”


We need more,” Sombra’s voice whispered, as Kodo dug his way to Outer Haven. “Bring… more…”

Kodo agreed. Though the diamond dogs had the initial advantage, Scorpia and her changelings had the power of stealth. His father and a few of his strongest fighters were still holding the streets, but they would need far more diamond dogs if they hoped to take the Empire.

Blasting his link towards his mother’s community, Kodo called upon the denizens that had obeyed her.

Hear me, my brothers and sisters of pack,” Kodo called to them. “We are betrayed. My mother has been taken. The ponies seek to make us their slaves. Aid my father and his Iron Wolves. Ensure that the ponies do not put us in cages.”

A howl answered his call. But too few. Far too few. As the diamond dogs evacuated Outer Haven, moving to join the fight, Kodo found himself gazing towards the mountains.

Your mother’s pack wasn’t the only diamond dog pack out there,” Sombra mused.

But they don’t follow her,” Kodo noted. “What makes you think they’ll follow me?”

Sombra’s magic flexed in Kodo’s claws. “They will follow the strong,” he insisted.

Growling, Kodo began to dig his way past Outer Haven, Sombra leading him on.


Meanwhile, Shining Armor and his Crystal Guard, despite the lack of trains, managed to follow the destroyed tracks all the way back to the Crystal Empire.

What they saw made Shining Armor stop in his tracks. The city was in chaos. Diamond dogs fought ponies. Changelings fought diamond dogs. Changelings fought ponies. Even changelings fought other changelings.

“What madness is this?!” Skippy demanded, flying past Shining Armor and pulling two changelings apart. “What are you doing?”

“The ponies betrayed the diamond dogs,” one of the changelings spat. “They’ll betray us too.”

“No, they won’t,” his opponent insisted.

“How can we be sure?” the first one demanded.

Skippy desperately tried to keep them apart. “Captain Armor,” he called, looking for help.

But Shining Armor charged right past him. His eyes were set on the Crystal Castle. And on a familiar pink alicorn, holding a foal in her aura and staring down at the chaos surrounding the city.

“Hang on, Cadence,” Shining vowed, using his shield spell to bulldoze his way through the fighters. “I’m coming.”

Chapter 5: Battle for the Crystal Empire

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Kodo stared up at the mountains with his heart hammering in nervousness. Just above him were the diamond dogs that had rejected Shiva. He could already see dogs growling at him, like wolves defending their turf. Shiva’s warnings flashed through his head, reminding him of the dangers of different packs. But now Sombra, and the brutal fighting of the last two days hung over the warnings like a storm cloud, glaring at them in disapproval.

“You shouldn’t fear them, Kodo,” He noted to the boy. “They deserve to fear you.”

They aren’t ponies,” Kodo noted. “I’d be dragging them into this.”

Sombra laughed. “And you think your mother didn’t have to drag them into her plans as well?”

Kodo glanced up in disgust, only for the memory to flash before his eyes:

Shiva standing before a Diamond Dog Alpha. Holding him by the neck as lightning coursed through her fur.

“Not every battle can be won with kindness,” Sombra noted. “Least of all from non-ponies. You have to assert yourself. Dominate them. And only then will they listen.”

Kodo glanced up at him in intrigue. “You sound like you had to do it yourself,” he noted.

“Aye,” Sombra agreed, his memories flashing before Kodo’s eyes. “Twilight lied to you about me stealing my throne, pup. All I wanted was to defend my empire.”

Memories flooded Kodo’s mind. A younger Sombra, with a normal gray horn and not as much regalia as before. He watched in horror as a group of ponies broke through the shield. The Crystal Ponies, unused to conflict, were quickly being cut down.

Kodo winced as he saw the ponies falling.

By the time, we managed to stop their rampage,” Sombra muttered. “Too many had been lost.” Sombra shook his head with a growl. “We couldn’t rely on the Crystal Heart forever. Just like you can’t rely on diplomacy.”

Kodo’s ears flattened. Yet, as he looked up from the ground, he saw diamond dogs already approaching him. Some with crossbows. The rest with spears.

Taking a deep breath, he let his magic flare.

The dogs had just enough time to back up before Kodo’s tendrils smashed into them.


Shining blasted the last of the dogs out of his way, racing into the palace. It had taken him almost two days of non-stop fighting through the chaos, but he had finally managed it.

“Cadence!” he shouted, before turning to the guards that had kept up. “Keep them out of the palace.”

As the ponies set up defenses, Shining raced into the palace. “Cadence!” he bellowed.

“Relax, Captain Armor,” Scorpia’s voice said, before arriving with Cadence. “We’re fine.”

Shining still didn’t relax until he saw his wife. And even then, he paused, seeing the small bundle on her back.

“F-Flurry Heart?” he whispered, crossing over to his wife and daughter.

Cadence smiled softly, levitating their child over to him before the howls from outside drew their gaze. Despite the threat, Flurry Heart simply giggled, waving at her father.

Cadence sighed. “I wish you could’ve met her under better circumstances,” she admitted, glancing at the doorway with worry. However, Shining turned to the doorway with determination.

“Let’s just make sure they don’t do anything to hurt her,” he replied, turning back to Cadence. “Get Flurry Heart and the Crystal Heart down to the safe room. You should probably stay there as well.”

Cadence narrowed her eyes. “And do what? Cower in fear while my husband fights for me?” She flared her wings. “I am an alicorn. And this kingdom needs me.”

Right on cue, the door nearly burst open, and two diamond dogs managed to get in. Shining turned to the dogs, a shield spiraling into being seconds before one of the dogs could bury his axe in his head. Cadence followed up, blasting the dog right into the other dog with a spell. The guards kept the doors open long enough for Cadence’s spell to send the two guards out, and then slammed the door shut.

Grinning at each other, Cadence levitated Flurry Heart over to Scorpia.

“Please, get her down to the safehouse,” she asked. “Don’t let anyone get to her.”

The changeling princess nodded, and raced away, while Cadence and Shining ran side-by-side up to the castle balcony. Outside, they saw the city in utter chaos. Changelings, diamond dogs and ponies battled throughout the streets. Too many lay eerily still on the ground. Faintly, they made out Luke and Skippy battling each other.

“How can you side with them after they stole my daughter!” Luke demanded of the changeling.

“They didn’t steal her,” Skippy insisted. “There’s a reason to this madness!”

Luke didn’t let him finish, smashing at him with an axe. The changeling managed to dart away, and was pursued through the streets of the Empire.

“Skippy!” Scorpia yelped, flapping out of the castle before Cadence could realize she returned. “Luke, enough of this!”

Cadence followed after her, leaving Shining to reach after her futilely.

As Scorpia yanked Skippy away from Luke’s claws, Cadence kept the dog at bay with a beam spell. She landed before him and the two circled each other.

“Look at what you’re doing to your home, Luke,” Cadence demanded, indicating the Empire. “This place was your home just as it was mine.”

“And that was the mistake,” Luke growled. “We never should have let you take it. We should have kept it for our own.”

“And what would you have done with the Crystal Ponies?” she replied. “What would you have done with the unicorn in your son’s mind?”
Luke paused, hesitation battling his conviction. He gazed across the field, as his own people engaged in intense battle.

Cadence tried to step closer. “Help me call them off,” she pleaded. “We can use the Crystal Heart. This can’t possibly help you get Shiva back.”

Luke’s teeth bared. “Don’t bring her into this!” he barked, lunging to fight Cadence.

But the alicorn easily launched into the air, avoiding his attack before nearly crushing him into the ground. Cadence grimaced as Luke dodged her attacks, his own attack getting repelled by her shield.

“Can we please stop this?” she demanded. “I’m the Alicorn of Love, not War. This isn’t my territory.”

“Then do what ponies do best, and lose,” Luke snarled, lunging up at her.

Cadence narrowed her eyes, and caught him with a beam spell, smashing him into the ground.

“The only good thing we can do is lose?” she demanded, blasting another beam at him.

However, Luke managed to roll out of the way.

“What would you have done if we didn’t stop Chrysalis?” he demanded. “What would you have done if we weren’t there when Sombra attacked the first time?”

Cadence growled, but her shield faltered, and Luke managed to get a hit in.

“You’re working for Sombra now!” she insisted, bucking him away.

“And now your Empire’s in ruins,” Luke replied, easily rolling with her kick. “Once, Celestia and Luna kept you and your ponies safe, but you have grown soft under their rein. And the only way you’ve been able to keep yourselves from being overthrown is due to either Celestia, the pony she’s clearly manipulating for something, or us.”

Cadence caught him with a blast, and threw him off his paws. Before he could regain his paws, Cadence shot back down, and pinned him under her hoof.

“Well, not this time,” she declared, flaring her wings. “Now, it’s my turn to save Equestria.”

“Wrong,” a voice boomed from the ground.

Cadence froze, as did most of the other fighters.

A second later, the ground exploded… and several more diamond dogs came out. All coated in obsidian armor. Their eyes glowed green while Kodo hovered above them, his eyes flashing with the purple highlights of Sombra.

“You’re going to see exactly what would’ve happened if Shiva hadn’t been here for you,” Sombra said through Kodo with a grin.

Cadence narrowed her eyes and lunged at Sombra. However, a block of obsidian flickering with lightning got in her way. As she bounced off the wall, Luke lunged up to catch her.

Cadence got a shield up in the nick of time. But as Luke’s claws sunk into her barrier, one of Kodo’s dark links wrapped around his father’s legs. And those same links dug into Cadence’s shield.

The alicorn’s eyes widened as her magic began to get pulled into the link, the purple light fading into a dark purple as her barrier flickered and died.

“No!” Cadence screamed, canceling her barrier.

But as Luke fell, Kodo smashed through his block, the shrapnel catching her off guard and allowing her to sink his teeth into her neck. His links sunk into her body, and the Alicorn of Love could only kick feebly at her attacker as he crashed her into the ground, her magic draining into his body and fueling his own magic.

Ponies, changelings and even a few diamond dogs still loyal to the ponies yelped and tried to help her. But Sombra shot them a dark look and sent a shockwave through the earth, knocking them back before Luke and his own forces drove them away.

As for Shining, he could only stare in horror from the balcony as Cadence was drained of her magic. Her dulled eyes didn’t leave Shining’s as Kodo stepped off her broken form and coated her body in obsidian, lifting her up so her head was visible to everyone in the empire.

“Your Princess has fallen,” Kodo/Sombra declared as she was lifted up. “Your Empire will follow, unless you surrender.”

Shining seethed, nearly leaping off the balcony. But Cadence stared him dead in the eyes, and mouthed a single word.


Staring at his beloved with heart-rending despair, Shining reluctantly turned from his wife and to the remaining ponies, now looking to him for advice.

“Retreat,” he choked out. “We have to retreat.”

“Retreat!” the ponies began to yell, fleeing the castle. “Retreat!”

Kodo grinned, marching forward as the citizens either fell in line beside him or raced away into the snow.

“Alpha,” the diamond dog Muffins asked. “Should we pursue them?”

Make sure they are trapped in the Frozen Wasteland,” Kodo/Sombra replied. “The cold and storms will finish them off soon enough.”

Nodding with a grin, Muffins took off, while Luke stayed by Kodo’s side.

“Kodo?” he whispered. “You’re still in there, right?”

“Don’t worry, Father,” he assured the elder wolf. “Sombra can’t get rid of me that easily.”

Will you both relax?” Sombra asked. “I’m on your side.” He grinned as he ascended the stairs. “After giving me back my beloved empire…” he whispered with a loving grin. “Oh, you are most certainly on my side.”

He rested a claw on the door, pushing it open, and breathing in relief as he found himself back in the Crystal Castle. Luke tilted his head, and Kodo nudged at his mind, breaking him out of his reverie.

Spread out,” he ordered his army. “Any stragglers are to be captured. To either join or die.”

Barking in agreement, the diamond dogs raced away, followed by changelings disguised as diamond dogs, dragging along ponies who grabbed desperately for Sombra.

“Please, we wanted you back, Sombra,” some of them begged. “Please don’t hurt us…!”

Sombra, however, didn’t even give them a second glance back. Heading into the throne room, Sombra smiled as he gazed at his throne.

“Oh, Kodo,” he whispered. “I had feared that I would never know how it felt to have my throne again.”

If you’re really grateful,” Kodo growled. “Show me where my mother is.”

All in good time,” Sombra assured him, moving past his throne and into the bunker that had once held the Crystal Hear. “First, let’s make sure that this Empire stays under my control.”

“You mean the Crystal Heart?” Kodo asked. “Because I thought that thing was flawed.”

It was,”Sombra agreed. “But it did take out my power. If some of my magic hadn’t been sealed into Shiva’s essence, and I didn’t put that essence in you, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

How unfortunate that would've been,” Kodo grumbled sarcastically.

Sombra chuckled, just as he reached the bottom. His door of fear was gone. But he could feel the pulse of power that had to come from the Crystal Heart.

And both of them picked up the smell of a newborn foal.

Kodo’s ears perked. “Is that… a newborn foal?”

“It seems the Princess was busy,” Sombra mused. He tried to move forward, but Kodo's legs locked in place.

“You’re not going to hurt her,” Kodo growled.

Kodo…” Sombra tried to protest, but Kodo yanked him back.

The only reason you’re getting this far is because I don’t know how to get my mother back,” Kodo snarled. “If we’re going to do this, we do this my way.” In their inner mind, Kodo got into Sombra’s face. “We don’t hurt her!”

Sombra grumbled, but before he could protest… two cloaked figures came out, small bundles clutched to their chests.

Sombra and Kodo froze, staring at the cloaked figures in shock.

“Don Bhanrion!” they suddenly yelled, blasting at him with spells.

Kodo’s reflexes saved them; he backflipped up the stairs and blasted back at them with dark links. The two figures dodged, one of them firing another spell. Kodo jumped off the stairs, avoiding the blast, only for a portal to form.

Without another word, the two figures charged up and into the portal. Kodo blasted at them with some of Sombra’s magic, but the portal faded just as his bolt hit, destroying the wall.


Meanwhile, in Equestria, Celestia, Luna, Celine and Twilight watched the North with grim expressions. Celestia turned as a guard raced in.

“Well?” Celestia asked.

The guard shook his head. “The Crystal Empire has fallen,” he declared. “War is inevitable.”

Celestia took a shaky breath, and turned to Celine, who stared at the guard in horror.

“I’m sorry, Celine,” she said.

Celine shut her eyes. “No,” she growled. “No, there has to be a way to stop this.”

Yet, as Celestia and Luna exchanged a look, they knew there was no way to assure Celine. Whether they liked it or not, war was coming. And Sombra was not going to let peace be an option.

Chapter 6: The Power of Friendship

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“Attention citizens of the Crystal Empire,” Kodo announced, his voice booming from the top of the Crystal Palace. “Princess Cadence and her daughter, Flurry Heart, are under the control of the Iron Wolves.”

Sombra smiled softly at the gasps of horror that sounded from below.

“Any acts of resistance will not just result in punishment for you,” Kodo continued. “It will result in punishment for them. So, before you start entertaining any thoughts of resistance, just consider; are you willing to have a baby’s life on your hooves? Are you willing to let her die so you can be under Celestia’s hoof instead of our own?”

No pony responded.

“Think about it,” Kodo finished, before turning inside to his father and Generals.

“Most of the city has been contained,” Luke reported. “But Shining Armor and Princess Scorpia have escaped with most of the Crystal Guard and Changeling loyalists.”

“We’ve tried to pursue them,” General Muffins added. “But a storm blew through and cut us off.”

“Storms,” Sombra scoffed. “The only thing the Crystal Heart is really good at keeping out.”

Kodo hummed. “Don’t risk our dogs out there,” he decided. “We can let the Frozen North take care of them. For now, focus on making sure there’s order in the streets. We don’t need any resistance cropping up.”

Nodding, the diamond dogs left for the streets, while Kodo crossed over to the throne. Sombra moaned in excitement as Kodo sat himself down on the throne.

I feared I’d never get to sit on this throne again,” Sombra noted. “Would never get to feel the power of royalty. To know an entire city bends to my will.”

Not your will alone,” Kodo reminded him. “We helped you. And I’d appreciate some show of gratitude for that aid.” He concentrated, and Shiva’s face shined before Sombra. “Where is she?”

“Patience, young one, patience,” Sombra insisted. “Our work is not yet done.” Reluctantly, he raised himself from the throne. “I foolishly believed my work was done once. I found a way to keep our Empire safe. Granted, not everyone agreed with my… methods…”

Kodo saw the memory: Sombra carving dark runes into the ground. Summoning a dark being that granted him his abilities. Turning his horn red and his eyes green with the purple highlights.

But once the city was secure, I believed us to be untouchable.” Sombra lowered his head with a glower. “But I never thought that I would be attacked by the very ponies I had once respected.”

The memory shifted. Celestia and Luna flying into his kingdom. Disrupting the security, he had tried so hard to maintain. And sending him falling into a dark abyss with a scream of… not rage, but betrayal.

“That mistake cost me, and led me to this point,” Sombra admitted, forming before Kodo with a desperate look. “It is a mistake you must not repeat.”

Kodo glowered down at the ground. “All I want is to know how to get her back,” he insisted.

Then help me ensure the safety of our Empire,” Sombra insisted. “March on Canterlot – March on Celestia – and ensure that she cannot take this from you as she took it from me.”

Kodo sighed, but reluctantly stood and went back outside. He reached the courtyard of the castle just as Luke returned.

“Patrols are heading through the streets,” Luke reported. “No one’s trying anything as long as they think Flurry Heart’s in danger.” He grimaced. “I personally don’t like threatening an innocent like that.”

“It won’t be for long, father,” Kodo promised him. “Prepare the armies. We march south. We march for Canterlot.”


Unfortunately for them, they weren’t the only ones on the march. As Kodo’s army prepared to march south, the Equestrian military was marching North. Celestia watched reluctantly as her ponies marched, garbed up and ready for battle.

“I didn’t want it to come to this,” she admitted solemnly, turning to Luna, Twilight and Celine. “I had prayed that the time of war would be over.”

“Maybe it still can,” Celine offered. Her gaze turned to the North. “Give me a chance to talk him down. This whole thing is completely distracting us from finding Mother. If Kodo’s really still in there, he’s got to realize that.”

Celestia sighed. “I hope you’re right,” she noted.

Twilight stepped forward. “And if Sombra has too much control over him,” she offered. “Maybe the Elements of Harmony can stop him.”

Celine paused. “Elements?” she asked. “But… didn’t you have to get rid of them?”

Twilight chuckled. “Well, technically,” she pointed out. “My friends and I embody the Elements. We just need to be all together, and we should be able to still use the power inside, even if the Elements themselves were given back to the Tree of Harmony.”

“Um…” Celine scratched at her neck. “Oh… kay, I guess.” She sighed. “Look, just give me a chance to talk to him ‘before’ you blast him.”

Luna chuckled. “Well, considering he has a literal army behind him, you can be assured we’ll play it safe.”

Celine faltered. “That… only makes me more terrified,” she mumbled, turning towards the North with a sigh. “Well… let’s see if diplomacy is really dead.”


The diamond dogs barely got a mile from the Crystal Empire before they saw the army advancing on them.

What did I say?” Sombra asked with a chuckle. “Just like before; they were coming for us. Just like they did to me; they’ll try to do the same to you.”

“Not if I can help it,” Kodo growled. He turned to his father and generals. “Tell the wild dog clans to stay out of sight. Dig tunnels underground, flank em from underneath. Don’t let em know about the extra dog power we got.”

“Right away,” Muffins agreed, darting off. However, Luke’s eyes remained on the army. Kodo pat his father’s shoulder.

“We can do this,” he tried to assure him.

However, Luke didn’t reply. He just pointed. Kodo followed his gaze, and saw a small group ahead of the army.

At the head of that group was Celine.

“Sister…?” Kodo whispered.

Luke turned to the archers. “Don’t shoot!” He barked. “Any of you fires a single arrow or spell at my daughter, I’ll gut you myself!”

The dogs wisely lowered their weapons, as Kodo and Luke raced out. There may have been a few miles of no-man’s-land, but it took the remnants of Shiva’s family no time to reunite with each other. Celine jumped into her father and brother’s arms, and together, the three embraced each other. A collective, ‘Aw,’ sounded from the ponies’ end.

“Good to have you back, Celine,” Kodo whispered, pulling her away from the ponies. “We were worried they were going to send you to wherever they sent Mother.”

“They didn’t send Mother anywhere,” Celine insisted. “Kodo, Dad; this is all just a big misunderstanding.”

“According to them?” Luke asked bitterly.

“Yes!” Celine said, before pausing. “Um… no?” She sighed. “Look, they weren’t responsible for Mom’s disappearance. They’re doing their best to look for her, but this freaky little attack you’re trying is just making it harder for everyone to search.”

Kodo sighed. “That’s the problem,” he admitted. “Sombra knows where she is. But he’ll only tell us if we attack.”

Celine blinked at him. “So, Sombra is alive? And you’re gambling with the lives of our pack on his word? The word of a unicorn? That even the ponies hated?”

“I have to try,” Kodo insisted, reaching out with a pack link. “If you listen to him, you’ll understand…”

But Celine backed up from him. “No,” she growled. “Keep that monster out of my head.”

Monster?” Sombra growled. “It seems the ponies have brainwashed her as well.”

Kodo tilted his head, almost turning, but Celine grabbed his face.

“Kodo, do not listen to him!” Celine insisted. “He’s using you for his own ends. He doesn’t really care about you. Not like…”

“Not like the ponies do?” Kodo growled, already reaching up to pull her arms away.

“Not like Mother does,” Celine replied.

Kodo froze. Inside his head, Sombra squirmed. Kodo lowered his head.

“You're right. No one cares about us as much as Mother,” Kodo admitted.

“And what would she think of Sombra?” Celine asked him. “What would she think, knowing you were trusting him with her return?”

Luke backed up, doubt crossing his face, while Kodo sat back on his haunches.

But she isn’t here to judge you,” Sombra replied softly. “And how do you intend to get her back if not with the one who put her away in the first place?”

Kodo shut his mind, trying to probe at the memories. Only to find a solid black wall between him and the memories. He opened his eyes with a whimper.

“I don’t see another option, Celine,” he replied.

“Of course, there’s another option,” she insisted. “Work with the others. They know unicorn magic. Maybe they could…”

But that’s the point. ‘Maybe,’” Sombra replied, speaking through Kodo and causing Celine to jump back in alarm.

“Kodo?” she whimpered in fear.

’Maybe’ they could figure out my magic,” Sombra continued to speak through Kodo. “’Maybe’ they find your mother. But what if they can’t?”

Celine was backing further and further away as Sombra urged Kodo after her.

Are you really willing to gamble with the life of the one who brought you into this world?” Sombra asked. “The one who you claim to love above all else?”

“Don’t you dare twist my words,” Celine snarled. Her magic crackled to life. “GET OUT OF MY BROTHER!”

She blasted at him, only for Kodo to rear up and blast his own magic. A beam struggle began between the two siblings, though Celine quickly began to lose, shock overcoming her determination.

“Kodo?!” she stammered as she was blasted back.

“I need him!” Kodo barked at her. “We need him to find Mother!” He stopped his beam before it could seriously hurt her. “Please, sister," he begged. “I don't want to hurt you.”

But as Celine struggled to her paws, a glow lit up behind her. She turned, as the Mane Six rose into the air; six blinding blobs of light. Linked together in the form of a star.

“King Sombra!” They boomed. “You have manipulated these children for the last time!

A beam of light surged from them and at the black wolf. But before it could hit… Luke jumped to his defense.

“Rally to your Alpha!” Luke boomed.

And as Kodo’s pack link spiraled from Luke to the army, he caught the beam of light… and held it in place.

Inside Kodo’s head, Sombra winced back, feeling the purifying beam’s searing against Kodo’s claws like fire. His essence disintegrated around Kodo’s claws. It should have been the end for him.

Yet Kodo was still able to hold the beam back. As his pack link spread from Diamond Dog to Diamond Dog, the pack link spiraled around his hands like bandages, condensing into a beam of their own that slowly pushed the Harmony laser back.

I-Impossible,” Sombra whispered. “How…?

The ponies run on friendship,” Kodo said. “Even now, I can feel their love for each other in this power. Their love for their country; their love for their princess. It’s why they fight, and it’s what powers their magic.” He chuckled as he took a step forward, his own beam pushing back, and wiping the grins from the Mane Six’s faces. “But they aren’t the only ones that can use that type of power.”

“What… how is he doing that?” Twilight stammered, as Celine backed up behind them. “How is he resisting!?”

“My magic is not just powered by some forsaken unicorn,” Kodo snarled out loud. “My magic is powered by the magic my mother wielded. The magic she passed onto me and my sister. The Power of the Pack Link!”

“Kodo, no!” Celine whimpered, as Celestia and her army rose up.

“Prepare for battle,” she called, even as the ponies quaked in fear.

“B-But how is he doing that to the friendship beam?!” several of them asked. “That destroyed Nightmare Moon! I-It stopped Discord. It even stopped Queen Chrysalis! Why is it…!”

“You Ponies thrive on friendship!” Kodo boasted. “But we diamond dogs thrive on pack. And pack is more than just friendship!” His fur lost all of its black luster, gaining a white tinge that made him almost look like Shiva reborn. “It’s FAMILY!”

The pack link’s beam overpowered the friendship laser. The Mane Six were blasted away, their super forms fading as they tumbled across the ground. The ponies backed up, quivering as Kodo and his army marched on them.

“But now, our family is broken,” Kodo snarled. “It’s broken, and you stand in our way of repairing it.” He drew his axes. “NOW PREPARE TO PAY FOR IT!”

Chapter 7: Battle of Claw and Hoof

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Celestia led the charge. Though her eyes shined with a reluctant light, she lowered her horn and galloped towards Kodo as he raced towards her.

Seconds before the two could clash, Kodo stopped. Dark magic flared through his being and into the ground, and Celestia barely managed to avoid crashing face first into a giant wall of obsidian.

“Pegasi!” she boomed, as Luna and a legion of pegasus and thestral warriors flew over the obsidian. As one, they tucked their wings and dove towards the dogs. However, the dogs countered with spells and spears, knocking several of the pegasi out of the sky.

However, Luna deflected any shots towards her, and Kodo had to jump to avoid being crushed. Luke leaped to his defense, but Luna bucked him out of the way. Across the battlefield, the pegasi rained down on the dogs like meteors. Kodo winced as link after link faded, dogs being crushed under the pegasus’ relentless hooves. Yet as each pegasi crushed a single dog, other dogs lunged onto them, burying the pegasi before they could take off again. Luna turned to her soldiers with worry in her eyes, but Kodo took the opportunity to carve a slash across her cheek. Luna backed up, her glower returning as her injury healed with a flash of darkness.

“Thou should have listened to thy sister,” Luna noted, a scythe forming before her. “We would have spared thy life.”

“I don’t need your pity, Princess,” Kodo snarled, before lunging forward and beginning to duel with her. "Or your advice!"

Yet, before either of them could get too many strikes in, the obsidian was blasted apart. Earth ponies withdrew behind shields and began to force their way forward, unicorn snipers popping up behind the earth pony’s phalanx and firing spells. Kodo quickly withdrew behind a wall of Shield Dogs, but Luna followed after him, bulldozing through the dogs before they could re-seal their own wall of shields.

Snarling, Kodo pushed back at her, their magic clashing in a burst of darkness that sent the diamond dogs scurrying back and even caused the earth ponies to falter.

“Have courage,” Celestia said, already depositing a battered Twilight on her back. “Equestria has stood tall against all opposition before. This will be no different.”

Emboldened by her words, the pony phalanx moved to close the distance with the diamond dogs, who were still being scattered by the pegasi and Luna. The rest of the Mane Six were pulled behind the phalanx, but Celine dodged the ponies magic auras and raced to Kodo’s side.

“Kodo, stop this!” she pleaded, before glowering at Luna as she forced her brother back. With a reluctant whine, Celine summoned up her own magic, and seized Luna with a tendril.

“Beta Celine!” Luna cried out in horror, but Celine hurled her away from her brother before linking to the dog army.

Throw the pegasi at them,” she offered. “Use their own soldiers to keep them back.”

Kodo smiled at his sister before adding his own order. “And fall back. Let them come at us.”

Celine shared a relieved look with Kodo before going to his side. Though her relief faded as she noticed several of the thrown pegasi tumbling through the air like rag dolls. A few of them weren’t screaming, and blood flowed from their necks like waterfalls. But, with Luna struggling to stand back up and the earth ponies trying to catch the pegasi being flung at them, the Shield Dogs were able to reform their phalanx, even adding an additional covering of shields to protect from the unicorn snipers.

“Celine,” Celestia whispered sadly. “Why?"

“I don’t agree with him, Celestia,” Celine assured her. “But he’s my family. Surely you can understand.”

Celestia and Luna gazed at each other, a painful memory making both of them wince, before Celestia turned to the concealed Celine with a sad look.

“I do understand,” she admitted. “But I have the safety of my people to consider.” She turned to her earth ponies. “Push them back to the Crystal Empire.”

The earth ponies marched forward, passing by their princesses as they closed the gap. Kodo motioned, and the dogs began to move backwards.

Steady…” he whispered through the link, drawing Celine’s concerned look.

Kodo, what are you doing?” she asked.

Trust me, little sister,” Kodo assured her, turning to her with a soft smile. A smile that held no trace of Sombra.

Despite the fluttering in her heart, Celine gripped her brother’s arm, and moved back with him as the earth ponies pushed them back.

“That’s it,” one earth pony soothed. “Go back to where you belong.”

“Heh, this is kinda easy,” another noted. “Why didn’t we just do this instead?”

As Kodo grinned through the shields at them, Celine noticed a flicker of Sombra in his eyes. Her eyes turned to the ponies in horror.

Kodo, wait…” she tried to say.

But at that moment, Kodo’s claw hit the ground. “Now!” he and Sombra boomed.

Instantly, the ground opened up under the earth pony’s hooves. They disappeared with a scream into the pit. Yet, as Kodo charged forward, small little stone shields popped up, allowing him to rush straight into the stunned and now unprotected Princesses.

Celine gaped down at the wild diamond dogs making short work of the ponies underneath. “Kodo!” she screamed. “How could you…?”

But her protests were cut off as the diamond dogs surged past her, slamming into the pegasi and unicorns like a tidal wave of fur and spears.

Luna was the first to pull herself from the carnage. Though blood soaked her fur, none of it appeared to be hers. Fluttershy clung to her side, whimpering with fear. Celestia appeared a moment later, ichor streaming from several wounds, and an angry light in her eyes as she looked at Kodo with betrayal.

“That was a dirty trick,” she seethed, before gazing down in sorrow at her overwhelmed ponies. “Fall back!” she yelled, turning from the battlefield. “Fall back!”

Despite her order, the few ponies that turned their backs on the dogs were quickly cut down or pulled into the earth. The unicorns went into overdrive, teleportation spells flashing as they retreated with as many pegasi and earth ponies as they could carry.

An hour later, the dogs reached track-less ground. Behind them, the few ponies who still lived were being clapped in irons. Celine winced as she saw Applejack and Rainbow Dash among them. Though both fought like wild horses, the diamond dogs had numbers. And all they could do was stare at Celine in betrayal as they were tugged down into the tunnels.

Celine turned to Kodo, who was staring ahead with a grin.

“Kodo,” she said. “Mother hated the idea of work horses.” She indicated where Applejack and Rainbow Dash had been taken. “What would she say if she knew what you did with these ponies?”

Kodo’s grin faltered. He looked down, horror briefly flashing across his eyes, before Sombra took over.

We’ll release them before her return,” he assured him. “After they’ve accepted that our rule is better.” he added with an ominous smile.

Kodo didn’t protest his words, yet Celine was not comforted. And as Kodo continued towards Canterlot, every dog and wolf fell in line behind him.

Celine feared that they wouldn’t listen to her. She needed help.

Her ears perked. Kodo disappeared behind a wall of his followers, but there was one dog who was watching her with concern.

“Dad,” Celine called, racing to his side. “What happened to Skippy? And Princess Scorpia?”

Her father’s smile faltered, replaced by bitterness. “They sided with the ponies,” he grumbled. “Raced off with Shining Armor into the snow.”

Celine winced, fear shooting through her heart at the thought of Scorpia and Skippy all on their own. Then… a new idea came to her.

“What about Vespin Hive?” she asked. “Any word from them?”

Luke shook his head. “None so far,” he admitted, glancing at a few diamond dogs that had the scent of disguised changelings to them. “Some of them chose to join us, thankfully.”

Celine smiled, an idea forming in her mind. “What if we could convince the rest of their Hive to join as well?” She stepped forward. “I’d be willing to talk to them.”

Luke gazed at her brightly, her coy tone completely going over his head. “You would?” he noted.

“It’d keep me out of the main fighting,” she tempted. “And if they agree…”


“This is the worst possible thing!” Rarity bemoaned, pacing as a fuming Celestia and Luna pored over a battle map, Twilight, Pinkie Pie, Spike and Fluttershy grouped around each other for comfort.

“Five hundred… thousand soldiers,” Celestia whispered. “All either dead or captured.”

“An entire third of our army,” Luna bemoaned.

“And a third of the Elements of Harmony,” Twilight whispered, lowering her head. “Not that it did us any good.”

“That was so unfair!” Pinkie grumbled. “Why do the bad guys get to use the power of friendship? That’s our thing!”

“Because Kodo doesn’t think he’s a bad guy,” Spike realized. “He’s just a kid looking for his mother.”

Luna turned to him. “That ‘child,’ just destroyed our army,” she growled. “Given the chance, he will destroy Canterlot, and take Equestria for Sombra. All under the delusional belief that Sombra will give him what he wants at the end of it all.” She turned to Celestia. “We have to stop him. Any way we can.”

“Agreed,” Celestia said. “Send a message out across Canterlot and the surrounding territories. Any stallion, mare or strong foal who can bear arms, be ready to take on these Iron Wolves.”

Spike winced. “And Celine?” he asked. “Celine was just trying to stop the fighting.”

“She failed,” Celestia hissed. “It seems I was wrong to think we could count on her.”

“Maybe not,” Spike offered. “Remember; all they want at the end of the day is Shiva. So… what if we could go find her?”

“But where do we start looking?” Twilight asked. “Kodo no doubt has his own Iron Wolves tearing apart any place they’ve conquered.”

Spike pondered it for a moment. “He hasn’t taken Ponyville yet, has he?”

Luna and Celestia consulted the battle map. Celestia breathed a small sigh of relief.

“He hasn’t,” she said.

“For now,” Luna added.

“Then let’s start there,” Spike said, hopping up and checking the map himself. “The Ever-Free Forest is always chocked full of dark magic.”

Luna flinched. “An unfortunate side effect from our battle at the Castle of Two Sisters,” she muttered, not meeting Celestia’s eye.

Celestia’s angry expression changed to concern, and she brushed Luna’s back with her wing.

“But think about it,” Spike prompted. “Sombra uses dark magic too. Who’s to say he didn’t transport the mirror somewhere in there.”

“Spike, no,” Twilight said. “The Ever-Free is too dangerous.”

“Surely, we have to try,” Spike insisted. “If the mirror is in there; and it’s the only way to get to where Shiva’s being held…” Spike shrugged. “Shiva was a hard-head, but she wasn’t stupid. And, at the end of the day, Kodo’s her son. She has authority over him, just like Celestia has authority over Equestria.” He gripped Twilight’s hoof. “We need her back. It’s the only way we’ll be able to stop Kodo.”

Twilight winced, before Fluttershy spoke up.

“He won’t be going alone, if that’s what you’re worried about,” she offered. “I know the animals of the Ever Free. I can protect him.”

Twilight winced. “I should go too,” she said.

“I’m sorry, Twilight,” Celestia replied. “But I will need you here. I will need every able body I can get.”

“I’m not much for fighting,” Fluttershy admitted. “But if I can get Shiva back, and stop this from ending violently…” she held herself up. “Then I want to try.”

Spike turned to the princesses. “We need to move now,” he insisted. “I have no idea how long it’ll be before Kodo’s forces reach Ponyville.”

Celestia sighed, before nodding in consent. Hopping on Fluttershy’s back, Twilight and Spike shared a final glance.

“Stay safe out there,” Twilight said.

“You too,” Spike said, resting his head against hers. Pinkie and Rarity hugged Fluttershy tight, shortly followed by Twilight.

“Bring Shiva back,” Pinkie said. “So, we can end this the way we always did before.”

“I will,” Fluttershy assured them. Then, with a soft flap of her wings, she and Spike took off for Ponyville, even as the saw the army, like a dark spot on the horizon.

“Let’s hurry,” Spike noted. Fluttershy didn’t speak, merely nodding and speeding for Ponyville.

Chapter 8: Canterlot's Fall

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From the outskirts of Canterlot, Kodo watched as Fluttershy and Spike flew towards Ponyville. Muffins and Luke stood alongside him, watching the duo’s slow trek.

“Looks like they’re heading for Ponyville,” Luke noted.

“Might be trying to… get reinforcements or something,” Muffins offered.

“Or they’re trying to continue the search for Mother,” Kodo pondered. He pat his father’s shoulder. “Tell one of the changelings to follow after them. If they start looking for the mirror… tell him to help em however he can.”

His words sent another squirming sensation through Kodo’s mind.

Kodo, be reasonable,” Sombra growled. “You’re going to help them…?”

“I’m going to help them find my Mother,” Kodo growled, wishing he could glare the dark king down. “You’ve been stalling me and making me do your dirty work, and now you’ve probably got most of the ponies against my kind.” He grinned darkly. “You might want to consider how long you want to press me. Because if those ponies find Mother before you decide to tell me, you’re going to have a bit more of a fight on your hands.”

Sombra shifted with a grumble. “Right now,” He pointed out, indicating Canterlot. “You’ve got an entirely different fight ahead.”

Kodo followed his gaze, and couldn’t find it in himself to refute the king. What was left of the Royal Guard was practically plastered across the walls of Canterlot. Every unicorn had a spell ready to cast, and every pegasus and earth pony had crossbows ready to fire.

Luke, however, chuckled at the defenses. “Do you think they took out the catacombs we dug to get into the Canterlot Mines?”

Kodo and Sombra blinked. “You did what?” he asked.

Pulling his son away from the guard’s line of sight, Luke unsheathed his claws before digging into the ground. The dirt parted before him like water, and with an “OOF!” Kodo found himself staring down at an opening into a massive tunnel. Luke gazed back up at him, his smile as wide as the crescent moon.

“No, they didn’t!” he sang, as the dogs gathered eagerly around the hole, before glancing nervously at Canterlot gates.

“Keep their focus,” Kodo ordered Muffins, hopping into the hole with his father. “We’ll go right under their defenses.”

Cackling in glee, Muffins and several of the wild dogs clambered back into view, proceeding to hurl spears and spells at the gates.

“Stupid ponies!” Muffins taunted. “Hiding behind your fancy walls! You think that’ll keep you safe from the diamond dogs of destruction!”

Muffins dodged a spell that was fired back, while underneath the ground, Kodo and Luke followed the pathway underneath Canterlot.

Hm…” Sombra noted with an ominous chuckle. “Your tunneling under here could’ve seriously destabilized the support structure of Canterlot.” He turned to Kodo with a grin. “Why not just go all the way? Send Canterlot into the ocean, and ensure no resistance ever gets in our way again?”

Because I’m not a mass murderer?” Kodo replied with a snarl. He stopped, peering up at the roof and tapping at the stone. “And the ponies won’t learn anything if they’re dead.”

They won’t be a threat either,” Sombra pointed out.

Kodo hummed, but ultimately barked, calling his father and dogs over. He indicated the top of the roof.

“Feels like the structure of the wall starts here,” he said, cracking his knuckles. “Let’s break it down.” He turned to one of the smaller dogs. “I’ll have the main force advance; keep anything from hurting us by pulling them down here.”

The dogs saluted, and Kodo raced back to the outside.


Celestia, Luna and the Mane Three were drawn to the sound of a structure collapsing. Racing to the outside, their jaws dropped as the walls to Canterlot fell, swallowed up by the very ground. Guards jumped or flew off the collapsing peak, yelling in shock and horror as their last means of defense crumpled.

And as the gates crumbled, the diamond dogs advanced, Kodo in the lead.

Earth ponies and unicorns tried to blast at him or his dogs. But hands burst up from the ground, and sucked them into the earth.

“T-The Catacombs!” one of the pegasi screamed. She lunged up into the air, but Kodo snagged her with his pack link, throwing her back down to earth and allowing Luke and his Spear dogs to reclaim her.

"I thought we buried the ones leading into the mines!" another earth pony protested. Luke caught him.

"You didn't do a good enough job," Luke replied, before yanking the hapless guard into the earth.

Celestia’s eyes shut as guard after guard was sucked down into the earth. Yet, Luna and Twilight’s eyes narrowed as Kodo stared up at them. Slowly, he advanced into the city. Any guards that tried to stop him were quickly sucked into the earth. Yet, as one guard cowered by a building, Kodo spared him a small glance, before moving on. The diamond dogs similarly let him be, one dog pointing his spear at the equine only out of caution.

Celestia sighed. “Luna,” she ordered.

The younger alicorn straightened.

“Take Twilight and the others out of here,” Celestia declared. “Though Canterlot may fall, Equestria will not!”

"B-But Princess…” Twilight stammered. Celestia silenced her with a wing.

“Sombra promised to tell Kodo the location of his mother if all threats to his reign were eliminated,” she noted. “Maybe if she is found, this madness will come to an end. But if it does not…” She turned to Twilight and rested her hoof on her shoulder. “I will need you to stop his madness.”

Twilight’s ears flattened, and she pulled Celestia into one final hug.

“Twilight,” Rarity insisted. “We have to go.”

Twilight’s eyes filled with tears, but Celestia gently nudged her towards the others. As Rarity was grabbed by Luna, Twilight took hold of Pinkie Pie. And the four mares darted away from the castle, as Celestia turned and stared the rapidly approaching Kodo down.

“You know…” an ominous, evil voice whispered in Celestia’s ear. “You could dispose of him yourself. It would be so easy…”

Celestia shut her eyes with a grimace. “I swore that I would never allow your evil to reign across the land again,” Celestia thought darkly.

And yet, you need me again,” the voice pointed out, even as Celestia turned back inside her castle, and moved to her throne. “Let me out,” the voice ordered. “I will show that whelp true terror.”

Celestia settled herself at her throne. “He doesn’t deserve it,” she insisted.

Even after he attacks your armies?” the voice demanded. Celestia’s fur glowed as she struggled to reign the darkness in. “Even as he imprisons your subjects? Turns your home into a wasteland for dogs?!”

Celestia grit her teeth and shut her eyes. “It will only be temporary,” she replied, desperation entering her voice. “He will stop as soon as his mother is returned.”

The voice laughed. “You have always been a naïve fool,” it mocked. “And now, how many ponies are going to suffer because of your faith in those who do not deserve it?”

Celestia shook her head, before the opening of a door jarred her back to reality.

Kodo stood at the end of the hallway. His diamond dogs right behind him. Slowly, cautiously, he strode up to Celestia.

With relief, Celestia noticed a look of regret on Kodo’s face, like he wasn’t fully happy with this. Celestia stayed on her throne, watching as he slowly approached.

“So,” she declared softly. “Who am I speaking to?”

Kodo tilted his head.

“The son who wanted to reunite with his lost mother?” Celestia asked. “Or the False King who can’t stand not having the entire world under his hoof.”

Kodo twitched, darkness billowing up around him, but he forced it down.

“It’s just me,” he replied. “Though…” he added with a small grin. “Sombra does feel like you attacked him first.”

Celestia sighed, while Kodo shook his head.

“I don’t know what history you guys have,” he admitted. “And I honestly don’t care. All I know is that he won’t hand over the memories I need to track Shiva until he’s certain his Empire will be safe.”

Celestia gazed at Kodo with disappointment. “It will never be safe as long as he’s in charge,” she noted. “You know that, yes.”

Kodo nodded. “I know it might be hard for you,” he replied. “But try not to worry about it. I know what he is, and he needs me to survive.” He smiled. “Otherwise, I’m pretty sure Flurry Heart and Cadence would have a far worse fate than simply being under house arrest.”

“I hope you’re right,” Celestia replied. She shifted on her throne. “So, how exactly does this play out in your minds? With my head on a pike?” Despite her coy tone, her skin paled under her fur at the thought.

Kodo chuckled softly. “No,” he assured her. “No, I don’t intend for any harm to come to you or your subjects.”

Darkness billowed around him, but again, Kodo stamped it down. Celestia tilted her head.

“Oh,” she noted. “Can I… assume I won’t be staying in my palace?”

Kodo tsked. “Unfortunately,” he replied. “The other dogs wouldn’t be exactly comfortable if I let you walk around free. Sombra,” he indicated his head. “Would probably try something risky if I allowed that.”

Celestia rolled her eyes, before taking off her crown. She stared at it for a solid minute, before she glanced up at Kodo.

“If I do this,” she said. “I need assurance that my little ponies won’t be hurt. Throw us all in the dungeon if you need to, but don’t hurt them.” She glared into his eyes, hoping Sombra was squirming in his mind. “Because if you do, you will see exactly why Sombra, the griffons, the diamond dogs and every other non-pony was right to fear me.”

Yes…”the voice in her mind whispered, as her mane shimmered with gold.

Kodo nodded, and put his claw over his heart.

“As a Son of Shiva,” he promised. “As an Iron Wolf… I promise that if you surrender, you and your ponies will not need to suffer anymore.”

They held each other’s gazes for one second. Two seconds. Three.

Finally, almost in slow motion, Celestia threw her crown from her throne. It bounced to a stop in front of Kodo, and he stopped it with his back paw.

Celestia lowered her head in defeat, and Luke and Muffins raced forward, clamping a collar to her neck.

“Take her down to the dungeons,” Kodo declared. “I have… business with a certain unicorn.”

The dogs took Celestia from the throne room, as Kodo settled himself on her throne, and envisioned Sombra before him.

I certainly hope you mean Twilight Sparkle,” Sombra growled.

Kodo said nothing, glaring the dark king down.

Our work is not done,” Sombra insisted. “What about Princess Luna? And the last of the Elements of…”

You got what you wanted,” Kodo growled. “Celestia’s down and Canterlot is yours! When do I get what I want?”

Oh, Kodo, my boy,” Sombra soothed. “I want the same things as you. I want to bring Shiva back to a kingdom that will be safe. That will truly be hers.” He grinned. “And besides,” he added with a grin. “The place Luna and Twilight would likely go to is the very place where your mother went missing in the first place.”


Sombra wasn’t wrong. As Twilight, Luna, Pinkie Pie and Rarity soared towards Ponyville, they were nearly battered by a barrage of apples.

“Who goes there!?” Big Mac boomed from a massive barricade.

“It’s us,” Twilight called back. “Princess Twilight, Princess Luna…” she shook her head. “Canterlot has fallen. And we need to make sure Equestria doesn’t fall with it.”

Racing past the barricade, Twilight quickly found Discord. She blinked as she saw him summoning giant clouds and molding them into snow fort like castles.

“Your… magic is coming back?” Twilight stammered.

Discord chuckled. “Shiva may have taken away my current magic at the time,” he replied. “But chaos is still mine to control, my dear.” He took in a deep breath. “And the chaos her son’s been kicking up has been quite a marvelous meal.” He sighed as Twilight’s horn began to glow in warning. “I promise, I only intend to use it on the diamond dogs.”

“And what about Fluttershy?” Luna asked. “Has she or Spike found the Howlite Howler?”

Discord glanced towards the Ever Free Forest. “Last time I saw her, she and the dragon went in there.”

Twilight turned to the forest with hope in her eyes. “I hope they’re safe,” she whispered. “Even if Shiva could end this war… I don’t want it to be at the cost of any more of my friends.”


Spike cackled in victory. “I knew it!” he cheered to Fluttershy. “I knew it! Didn’t I call it?!”

Fluttershy merely smiled softly. In the Castle of Two Sisters, sitting innocently between the ruins of Celestia and Luna’s old thrones, the mirror sat, it’s surface shimmering like water, holding the place where Shiva was being held.

Chapter 9: Resistance

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As Celestia paced in the cell the dogs had put her in, she pondered on if this is how Shiva had felt. Chained up in a cold, dreary dungeon. Unsure of what fate awaited her.

“Oh, stop feeling bad for your enemies,” the dark voice in her head growled. “Your pity is their greatest weapon. It’s the reason your ponies are suffering.”

You’re wrong,” Celestia insisted. “Kodo is not like Sombra. He’s not even like Nightmare Moon.”

Ah, yes, Nightmare Moon,” her dark voice mused. “The same Nightmare Moon you couldn’t defeat; the one you had to hand off to your precious student.”

She could handle it!”Celestia tried to insist. “We may be long-lived, but we won’t live forever. Twilight needs to be able to take over when I am unable to.”

“And how many times has she done that?”her dark voice demanded. “When Discord came for you? When Chrysalis? Oh, right; the diamond dog took care of that one. And Sombra, and Tirek.”She scoffed. “No wonder you were worried about Twilight; you may have chosen her as your successor, but she is not ready for the burdens of being a princess of Equestria.”

She…”Celestia wanted to protest. But before she could… someone came to her cell door.

She blinked. It was Blueblood! Scuffed and battered and no longer wearing his finest garments. But the light in his blue eyes as he unlocked the cell door held nothing but loyalty for his princess.

“Princess Celestia,” he declared, bowing his head as he opened the cell door. “I believe it’s time for you to leave this horrid place.”

“Blueblood?” Celestia stammered, stepping out into the open. “But how?”

“I believe my actions can be summed up in a single sentence,” Blueblood admitted, leading her down the hallway. “But ‘I told you so’ is far too immature for a stallion of my standing.”

“That… explains nothing,” Celestia admitted.

Blueblood deflated. “There were still ponies that were worried something like this might happen,” he said. “And the guards that held us and the rest of the nobles that were in on Beast Breaker’s actions agreed. We knew how you felt about provoking the dogs, so we took precautionary measures.” He turned to her with a grin. “Now a resistance will be able to form. And once we reunite you with the other Princesses, hope will spread. And we will be…”


Blueblood fell with a scream. Celestia jumped, back, only to find a changeling standing in her way. She tried to flare her horn…


Pain struck her from behind. And the next thing the Princess knew, she was laying on the ground, staring up as changeling surrounded her.

“A resistance, eh?” the changeling noted, walking away as the others began to bind Celestia and Blueblood in green resin. “Interesting…”


“A resistance?” Kodo demanded.

The changeling shrugged. “Apparently, it’s right here in Canterlot,” he replied.

“And without Shiva or Celine to maintain order…” Luke realized, turning to Kodo. “I’m sorry, son, but you can’t come with us to Ponyville.”

“But even if Mother isn’t there,” Kodo insisted. “My magic is the only way any of you will stand a chance against the alicorns.”

“But if you leave,” Luke argued. “What will stop this resistance from gaining more steam? From breaking Celestia out and allowing her to attack us?”

Kodo hummed, before turning to Muffins. “There’s been nothing from the Crystal Empire, right? The ponies aren’t trying anything there.”

“Nothing so far,” Muffins replied. “But if they find out we don’t actually have Flurry Heart, that could change.”

Kodo groaned, running his claws through his fur. He sighed.

“Alright,” he said. “I think I know what to do to keep this resistance out of the way.” He turned to Luke. “You at least get a good look at what kind of resistance we’ll be facing in Ponyville. And be careful.”

“I know, son,” Luke assured him. “If resistance can crop up here in Canterlot… who knows where else they might rise up against us?”


Celine yelped as pies splattered the cactus she had taken refuge behind.

“Please,” Celine pleaded to the ponies hurling pies at her. “I’m just trying to pass through!”

A pie splattered inches from her head, forcing her back behind the cactus.

“Well, you passed through the wrong town!” a heavy southern voice snapped back at her. “You tell that crazy diamond dog from the Crystal Empire that he can take Canterlot and Ponyville and all of Equestria. But AAAAPPLLOOSA ain’t going down that easily!”

“Literally, I think that it’s a bad idea to do anyway,” Celine pointed out. “Seriously. We’re on the same page in that regard!”

Briefly, the pies stopped flying. Celine poked her head out, hoping that she had gotten through to them.

Her smile vanished into horror as she saw a herd of buffalo in war paint charging at her.

Shrieking in fear, Celine sprinted away as the buffalo smashed her measly cover to bits, chasing her away from the southern town.

“When I hoped for peace between species, this isn’t what I had in mind,” Celine cried as she raced across the desert, ponies following behind the buffalo and continuing to hurl pies at Celine as she ran.

“Buffalo and ponies have learned to work together for ages,” the lead buffalo declared. “Something we believed you diamond dogs had started to learn at the Crystal Empire. You may have betrayed your kin, but we are not so easily swayed!”

Celine dodged a pie, desperately trying to avoid the herd. As she made a wide detour around, hoping against hope she could still find a way to the changelings.

If the buffalo are still this loyal to the ponies, Celine found herself thinking. Maybe the changelings can be counted on as well.


At the same time, deep in the Frozen North, the survivors of the Crystal Empire trudged through the snow. The changelings had shifted into big furry yaks, huddling the less furred ponies under their bulk. Yet, despite the extra protection, Shining Armor still shivered from a more painful cold.

“We left her,” Shining bemoaned. “My wife. My child. They’re both back there.”

“We will rescue them, Captain,” Scorpia assured him. “Once we reach Vespin Hive, we can ask Mother or my sisters for aid. They can’t deny us…”

She paused, as a shadow fell over their small group. Shifting quickly, her changelings turned themselves into rocks, concealing the ponies beneath them as a fleet of airships surged past. Each of them flew a strange black flag with two jagged blue lines arcing up like some kind of sword.

The ponies and changelings watched in shock as they flew over them and towards the south.

“W-What was that?” Flash Sentry demanded. “More of Kodo’s forces?”

“I-I don’t remember Kodo or Shiva talking about air ships,” Skippy insisted.

“Whatever they are,” Scorpia said grimly. “It looks like they’re heading for Canterlot.”
Shining stood. “Then we have even less time to waste than I thought,” he growled, moving out from under Skippy. “Come on, we need to get to Vespin Hive fast.”


Yet, as the group raced for Vespin, the diamond dogs led by Luke converged on Ponyville.

The ponies were ready for them. The barricades admitted looked more like snow forts, but with Discord grinning cheekily at them, the ‘snow forts’ could’ve held any sort of nasty surprises. A line of ponies stood ready as well. Pinkie Pie with her party cannon, and several pegasi with storm clouds.

Luke strode up to the front of the Fort, his eyes immediately finding Twilight.

“Princess Twilight,” Luke declared. “You’re needed back in Canterlot.”

Twilight didn’t move. “On the order of Princess Celestia, or King Sombra?”

Luke narrowed his eyes. “You can either turn yourself and Princess Luna over… or you can bring Alpha Shiva out of hiding, and return her to us. No one needs to get hurt.”

Twilight stood firm. “I’m not leaving my ponies,” she declared. “And neither is Princess Luna."

“Where is the alicorn of the moon?” another diamond dog asked. “Seems pretty cowardly to not have her here with you.”

“I could say the same about you and Kodo,” Twilight shot back.

As the diamond dogs snarled at her, Twilight glanced back towards Ponyville. At her castle, Luna sat in a meditative stance…


Projecting her consciousness into the dream scape. Hanging over Kodo, she watched as the diamond dog went about his business, walking down into the dungeons, where Celestia awaited.

"Do not fear, my sister,” Luna thought as she saw Celestia’s downtrodden expression. “The boy must sleep eventually. And when he does… that’s when he’ll be mine.”


“I’m not going to ask again,” Luke growled. “Either hand Alpha Shiva over, hand over Luna and yourself… or we’ll take all three.”

“And how do you intend to do that?” Discord replied. “Shiva’s not here. And neither are her pups. You know, for a bunch of dogs, you really seem to have a poor time tracking.”

He laughed, though Luke and the others seethed at his jokes.

“Alpha Luke?” the biggest of the diamond dogs growled.

Luke nodded. “They just signed their death warrants,” he agreed.

The dogs charged forward, the ponies and chaos spirit preparing to do battle…

Only for the rocks around the dogs to erupt into green flames.

Before the dogs knew what was happening, they were being sandwiched into Ponyville’s barricade by several changelings. The changelings were emaciated and fought like feral animals, sinking their fangs into dog necks, and draining them like vampires.
Thought Twilight shuddered at their feroicity, she reluctantly waved her hoof at the off-guard diamond dogs.

“Open fire!” she screamed, and a barrage of potions, spells, cakes, and thunderbolts slammed into the dogs, nearly scattering them.

Coughing and barely manage to fend off one changeling, Luke smashed his way into the ground. He tried to dig his way under Ponyville… only to slam his claws into a steel wall.

Discord laughed above him. “Sorry, my little mutts,” he declared. “But that trick’s not going to work again.”

Seething, Luke turned from the wall… and found a very familiar changeling before him. Admittedly taller than before, and with far more scars across his carapace. But Luke knew the light in his bottle blue eyes all too well. Remembering the jealousy he had felt when Shiva had gazed at them with pity they didn’t deserve.

“Thorax,” Luke snarled, baring his claws. “You changed your mind about joining your Queen in death?”

“My Queen is only dead because of your mate,” Thorax hissed. “It took us forever to recover from her loss, but now that we can put up a fight… we’re going to make sure that Shiva knows exactly what it’s like to lose someone you love."

With that, Thorax lunged at Luke with another hiss, but Luke caught his lunge, nearly breaking his jaw before being forced to use him to block a changeling spell. Digging his way out of the ground, Luke bellowed as he found his diamond dogs routed; either being cocooned by the changelings, or sent packing by the ponies.

A spell from Twilight nearly did Luke in. But he heard the sound of her horn, and dodged at the last second.

“This won’t stop us, Twilight Sparkle,” Luke snarled as he raced after his fleeing dogs. “Count on us coming back! Count on it!”

But a lightning bolt from a pegasi forced him to shut up and run. And soon, the only ones left on the battlefield were the changelings. Who quickly raised their hooves as Twilight and her forces trained their weapons on them.

“Thorax?” Twilight asked. “As in… one of Queen Chrysalis’ changelings?”

“Queen Chrysalis is dead,” Thorax replied. “And though it took a long…” he brushed over several more scars on his body. “Very long time… I am now king of the changelings. And I want only one thing.”

“Vengeance?” Discord asked with a grin. When the other ponies stared at him, he shrugged. “What? It’s classic."

“And true,” Thorax admitted. He stepped closer. “We share a common enemy in the diamond dogs. Let us help you defeat them. And we’ll sort out whatever damage Chrysalis has done to you later.”

Twilight turned away with a worried gaze, even as Rarity and Pinkie Pie joined her.

“I know it’s a… ‘less than ideal’ choice for an ally,” Rarity admitted. “But, surely it’s better than nothing.”

“But what about when Fluttershy and Spike bring back Shiva?” Pinkie asked. “What if Thorax hurts them.”

Twilight gave the Ever Free Forest a worried gaze. “I feel like we should be more worried that they haven’t shown up yet,” she replied, striding for the Ever Free. “What’s taking them so long?”


Meanwhile, in the dimension hidden by the mirror portal, a human Fluttershy stood with a canine Spike.

“No…” Fluttershy whimpered.

“No, this can’t be happening,” Spike whispered alongside her.

Canterlot High; the place where Spike had claimed the human versions of the ponies lived, was now as dark as an abandoned house. A sign was plastered across the door. A sign that chilled both of them to their bones.

Closed for Summer Vacation.’

“Spike…” Fluttershy whimpered. “If our human counterparts aren’t here… then where could Shiva be?”

Spike gazed around helplessly. “I… don’t know,” he admitted.

Suddenly, his nose twitched. His eyes widened as he noticed something that he never had before in his dog form. A small white trail, in the form of Shiva. Arcing away from Canterlot High.

“But I think we can find out,” he said, squirming from Fluttershy’s arms, and racing after her scent.

Chapter 10: The New Foe

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Kodo led Celestia out to a balcony that overlooked all of Canterlot. As Celestia gazed at the streets below, she noticed several ponies creeping through the streets. One of them was spray-painting ‘Celestia rules forever,’ before a patrol of diamond dogs chased them away. She turned her gaze to Kodo, who stood right alongside her.

“This won’t work on all of them,” she noted. “There are some ponies who never give up.”

“Maybe,” Kodo admitted. “But this worked on the ponies of the Crystal Empire. And I just want to keep these ponies from doing something that’ll force me to use… less-than-savory methods.” He nudged her forward. “Go ahead. This is for both of our sakes.”

Biting back a growl from her inner darkness, Celestia stepped closer to the edge. Taking a deep breath, she let her Royal Canterlot Voice loose.

“Ponies of Canterlot,” she declared in a powerful voice. “Hear me now.”

The resistance ponies paused, as did their diamond dog pursuers. All eyes turned to her, as she flared her wings to make sure they saw her.

“The Son of the Howlite Howler knows of your attempts to resist his rule. Though your dedication to me is admirable, it is only going to get you hurt.”

The resistance ponies flattened their ears, as their diamond dog captors grinned in victory.

“As your Princess,” Celestia continued. “I ask that you work with the diamond dogs and changelings…” she grinned. “Until their rightful Alpha has been returned to their side.”

Kodo’s ears flicked, and darkness briefly flared around him, but hope still shined in the eyes of her subjects. They dropped their spray paint cans, and meandered away from the diamond dogs, who didn’t seem to understand the double meaning behind their words.

“Equestria will survive,” Celestia continued to assure the ponies. “Never doubt in the power of Harmony and Friendship.” She turned to Kodo with a perked eyebrow.

Kodo bowed his head in thanks, though his grin was fleeting. “Shiva was a far better ruler than me,” he noted. “Wasn’t she?”

Celestia’s gaze became piteous. She extended a wing over Kodo as they went back inside.

“My heart aches at your loss,” she said. “But rest assured; Fluttershy and Spike will do everything they can to get her back.”

“Even if she does…” Kodo noted, glancing up at Celestia with regret. “My dogs and I have done so much damage. I wouldn’t blame your subjects if they wanted me banished… or imprisoned…”

“Or banished and imprisoned?” Celestia asked coyly. Kodo blinked up at her.

“That’s a thing?” he asked.

“Some of my subjects seem to believe so,” she admitted with a laugh. Her laugh faded as she saw the nervousness in the young canine’s eyes. “But I have to admit you’re not like some of the other adversaries my ponies have faced.” She paused. “Actually… there is someone that would know what you are going through?” She leaned forward conspiratorially. “And there is a way you can talk to her.”

Kodo turned to her, suspicion battling intrigue. “Who?” he asked.

Celestia grinned… before the door before them burst open. Luke staggered in, gasping for breath.

“Dad?” Kodo asked, keeping a pack link wrapped around Celestia’s neck as he ran to his father’s side. “What happened? Where are the other princesses?”

Luke gazed up at Kodo. And in his father’s eyes, Kodo saw…

“We have a serious problem,” Luke admitted.


Every changeling that had sided with Kodo now stood before him. Each of them with a pack link wrapped around their necks.

“I swear to you,” the lead changeling insisted. “We had nothing to do with Chrysalis’ Hive. Just as they turned Celestia on us, they’re trying to turn you on us.”

Kodo’s ears remained flat. Though his pack links assured him he was telling the truth, fear still coursed through his gut.

Changelings,” Sombra spat. “Ever the deceitful little bugs. Your mother never should have sided with them.”

“These ones sided with me,” Kodo insisted. “They cared, despite…”

Kodo’s ears perked. “Has there been any word from your queen?” he demanded. “Vespin Hive?”

The changeling shook his head. “N-None,” he insisted.

“And Celine still hasn’t reported back…” Kodo admitted with a growl. He turned back to Luke. “Luna and Twilight are going to have to wait. We can’t march on them with a fractured army.”

Luke stepped forward. “We’re going to find your sister?” he asked.

Kodo, be careful,” Sombra advised. “If you leave Luna and Twilight unopposed...”

But what if Vespin doesn’t approve?” Kodo demanded. “I can’t have these changelings fight against their mother! And worse… what if something’s happened to Celine? What if she never made it!” He gazed towards Ponyville – towards the mirror that held his mother. “What if I’ve lost her and can’t get her back?”


Unknown to Kodo, Celine was currently tracking her way into the northeastern borders of Equestria. A large lake stood out before her, the moutains blocked her path north, and the Boreal forest covered the rest of her pathway. To her immense relief, she scented changelings, and swore she could see the green outlines of hidden changelings.

She tilted her head up. “Changelings of Vespin Hive,” she called. “I am Beta Celine; Daughter of Alpha Shiva of Outer Haven. I beseech you for your aid!”

On cue, the rocks around her erupted into green flames. The changelings of Vespin Hive appeared before her, a few with weapons, but more gazed on her with kindly eyes.

Celine bowed her head and showed her unarmed claws and chest in a show of submission.

“Please,” she asked. “Take me to the Queen.”

The changelings moved to her, when…


They looked up. Princess Scorpia raced towards them, followed by Skippy and Shining Armor.

“Princess!” the changelings whispered, bowing to her as Scorpia skidded to a halt before Celine.

“Celine, as much as it pains me to ask,” Scorpia said. “You must not let Kodo deceive you with Sombra’s lies. He…”

“Princess Scorpia,” Celine assured her. “Calm yourself. I’m not here to recruit the changelings for Kodo.”

They paused, every eye turning to her with shock. Shining stepped forward.

“But… he’s your brother,” he noted.

“Which is why I’m not going to fuel his delusions,” Celine replied, turning back to the changelings. “I wish to ask for your aid… in stopping his madness.”

Shining, Skippy and Scorpia almost deflated with relief.

“Then it sounds like we’re all on the same page,” Skippy noted.


A sentiment that sadly did not extend to Celine’s family.

If you go after your sister, Canterlot will not hold,” Sombra insisted.

And if Luna and Twilight are allowed to roam free, they will destroy my hold on it anyway,” Kodo repeated in a surly growl. “As if I didn’t hear it the first dozen times.” He walked out onto the balcony that overlooked Canterlot. “But if my sister is hurt, I can’t just stand by and let her die out there alone!”

She’ll die anyway if the ponies are allowed to overcome you!”Sombra pointed out.

Kodo growled, gazing up at the sky… only to notice an odd darkness falling over the sun. The diamond dogs and ponies noticed it as well. All eyes turned skyward as a dark cloud surged towards the balcony of the Canterlot Palace.

Sombra, are you doing that?” Kodo asked.

“No…” Sombra admitted. “This is… something else.”

Soon enough, the cloud parted – and a strange airship came out of its dark folds.
Kodo snarled. His pack link spiraled out, linking to his father, his diamond dogs... and to the ponies.

Ponies of Canterlot,” he boomed through his link. “Whatever this threat is, let us face it together. Whatever qualms you have with me can and will be settled. But not if whatever this is subjects you to a fate worse than death!”

Reluctantly, the ponies agreed, taking comfort as his link wrapped around them and empowered them with the strength of the diamond dogs and changelings.

Kodo stepped forward, a bright ball of energy once again making him look like Shiva reborn, while the airship settled before his balcony, and a ramp descended to the marble surface.

Kodo narrowed his eyes, twin axes of magic spiraling to life in his claws, as… a small hedgehog like creature waddled out with some kind of box. Settling it on the ground, the box turned into some kind of microphone, which he promptly began speaking into.

“Ponies… and… otherwise… of Equestria,” the hedgehog creature lisped. “We come on behalf of the fearsome, the powerful, the almighty… Storm King!”

The airship unfurled some sort of banner, depicting a yeti-like creature in dark armor that clashed greatly with his white fur. Kodo perked an eyebrow as the diamond dogs growled and the ponies nickered.

“This is terrible,” Kodo heard one pony whisper.

Stand fast,” he assured her. “These fiends are no match for a unified front.”

“And now,” the hedgehog continued. “To deliver the evil-evil message…”

“Evil?” Kodo muttered. “Really?”

“Put your hooves… and uh, claws, I guess,” he admitted, glancing at the diamond dogs slowly gathering around him. “For Commander Tempest Shadow!”

Behind him, a dark purple pony strolled out, clad in the same dark armor as the yeti on the banners above her. Strangely, Kodo noticed a cracked horn on her head, crackling and sparking with magic. It went well with an additional scar down one of her gray-green eyes.

Huffing, Kodo shoved the hedgehog out of the way, stepping up the ramp before the unicorn could descend.

“So,” Kodo noted. “Evil Storm King, huh?”

The unicorn rolled her eyes. “He used to be a theater major,” she replied.

Kodo nodded. “Understandable.” He grinned. “So, let me guess: you’re here to take over Canterlot? Steal something from the princesses?” Kodo cracked his knuckles. “Because I’m afraid you’re going to have to wait in line.”

“Not a problem,” Tempest replied with a breezy tone. “The Storm King heard about your little conquest, and he was hoping you'd be a little more agreeable than the Princesses."

"Depends," Kodo replied. "What does he want."

"The princesses," Tempest replied, before pausing. "Well, not even them, just their magic. Hand them over like a good dog, and I’ll consider letting you keep this…” She shot Canterlot a slightly disguised look. “’Eyesore’ of a palace.”

Kodo narrowed his eyes. He felt Celestia among his links. A strange… dual feeling sparked with her. Kodo felt a slight hint of fear, and yet also of rage. Of disbelief that some whelp controlled her fate.

Kodo, however, kept his eyes on the unicorn.

“Even if I had all the princesses,” he replied. “I’m afraid I have my own use for them. They took my mother from me, and I intend to get her back.”

Tempest raised an eyebrow. “They took your mother?”

No, we didn’t!” Celestia’s thoughts snapped before she could stop them. But Tempest tsked before Kodo could think on that.

“Low,” she admitted. “But not my problem.” She stepped closer. “Either give them up nicely, or we make this difficult.”

Kodo peered into her eyes. “I get the sense that you want us to choose difficult,” he noted, before sending a thought to his pack. As one, they lifted their spears, and fired...

Only for the spells to fizzle out as they struck what had to be at least a dozen ships. Ships that promptly deposited several yeti like creatures. One diamond dog blasted another spell at them, but the spell fizzled out against the yeti’s armor.

“It’s magic resistant!” Kodo yelled. “Aim for their white…”

But before he could continue, Tempest withdrew a strange green ball, hurling it at Kodo. Dodging, Kodo briefly saw the orb explode in a burst of obsidian before he caught the ramp with his axes.

Flipping over to the other side, he kicked Tempest onto the balcony and began dueling fiercely with her, as his diamond dogs engaged the yetis.

Forgetting their spells, several diamond dogs dove into the ground, yanking down the yetis as they engaged with either the ponies or the changelings. Luke himself seized the hedgehog creature and used him as a ball and chain, bashing several of the yetis to the ground.

However, Kodo didn’t have long to watch his army. His main problem was Tempest. The unicorn was unlike anything he had ever fought. Foregoing her magic aside from the strange obsidian orbs, she enveloped him in a barrage of kicks and judo-throws that left him skidding and bouncing around the balcony like a rag doll.

Snarling at his lack of progress, Kodo blasted one of the orbs out of the air, and called upon Sombra. Seizing control of the obsidian that came from the orb, the dark king managed to catch Tempest off guard with a barrage of obsidian spears. The unicorn backflipped to avoid them, only for Kodo to catch her with a slash across the shoulder.

Her shoulder pad came away with his claws, and he promptly used it to bat aside a fourth orb. Spinning, he threw the shoulder pad right into her neck, knocking the wind from her and allowing him to go for a hopefully fatal bite to the eyes.

However, as he lunged at her, her horn lit up like a firework, blasting him back again while also knocking her against the balcony.

Catching the balcony bannister with his axes, Kodo smashed his way through the balcony floor and hurled two pack links at Tempest. Though she managed to catch one with another orb, the other pack link caught her around her neck.

And Kodo dove into her mind. He saw a scared filly. An Ursa Major bearing down on her. Her horn snapping in half. Other ponies abandoning her. Leaving her because she couldn’t use magic. Because she was different. Leaving her alone.

Kodo paused, carefully exerting control over her so she couldn’t attack him.

“That’s why you joined this Storm King,” he realized. “Friendship failed you.”

Tempest blinked up at him. “W-What are you talking about?” she demanded.

Kodo concentrated, and let his memories burrow into her mind. His mother’s suffering. Carving a life out for herself. Having him and his sister.

And then… Kodo flinched as it spiraled out before him. The ponies blasting at him. Shiva leaping to his defense. And her vanishing in a blinding flash of light.

Tempest’s struggles ceased. Her frown was almost… piteous.

“And it seems it failed you too,” she noted.

Kodo nodded… before an idea occurred to him. He gazed up at her, letting the memory of Celestia in a cell and Cadence in obsidian flash before her eyes.

“I have two of the princesses,” he bartered. “Two more remain free.”

He let her see his memories of them, hiding in Ponyville, before adding the thought of his sister. Alone and forsaken.

“Take the princesses,” Kodo offered. “Let me concentrate on finding my family. And their magic is yours.”

Tempest nodded. Adding her strength to his link, he extended his pack link to the yetis – Storm Creatures, Tempest called them.

Forget Canterlot,” Tempest ordered through the link. “We march on Ponyville.”

The Storm Creatures obeyed, stepping back from the diamond dogs.

Yet, as the two sides stood down, and Tempest and Kodo shook claw and hoof, Kodo still felt Celestia watching him.

Staring at him in utter betrayal. While her mane started to glow golden. And her look of betrayal and sadness turned to rage.

Apologies, Celestia,” Kodo whispered. “But I need to find my sister. And this… Tempest Shadow is the perfect distraction.”

Chapter 11: The Hives

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As Celine and Shining Armor were led into Vespin Hive, Celine couldn’t help but stare around in awe.

“Captain Armor,” Celine noted. “You… never got to see a changeling hive, did you?

“If you’re referring to Chrysalis…” Shining replied, similarly awestruck. “I don’t think anything she had came close to this.”

Indeed, while the Hive retained an insectoid style of architecture not unlike a bee’s hive, the place had a warm ‘lived-in’ feel that made the Hive somehow feel safe and welcoming.

As they entered into the massive hive, they noticed armored seals opening and shutting as changelings entered and left on business of their own, acting almost as hanger bay doors to keep anything else from getting in. As Shining and Celine followed Skippy and Scorpia inside, one of those same hanger bay doors shut behind them, yet a honey colored light was there alongside the cozy warmth of a hearth fire to compensate. Moving under a honey comb patterned archway, the non-changelings quickly found themselves surrounded by changelings with lit horns.

“Peace, my children,” Scorpia soothed. “These are allies to the Hive.”

The changelings backed off, but still watched the non-changelings carefully.

“Very dedicated to their job,” Shining mumbled. “Aren’t they?”

“I know,” Flash muttered. “We could take notes, right?”

“Well…” Shining started to say, before the grins from Scorpia, Skippy and even Celine swayed him. “Yeah.”

Rolling his eyes, Flash glanced at one guard with glasses under his helmet, who promptly whipped out a pad of paper and a quill, and started writing.

The group slowly made their way through the maze-like hive. With pegasi and changelings working together to help those not capable of flight, the group made their way to a peanut shaped cell containing a massive throne. On this throne sat a Changeling Queen.

For a moment, Shining tensed. Celine cautiously rested a claw on his shoulder, and her pack link flared, giving her a vision of Chrysalis. But this Queen was nothing like the treacherous queen that had threatened Shining’s wife. This one had a much more fuller appearance to her, and her eyes had a friendlier, bottle blue gaze to them. Though wrinkles around her eyes gave her an experienced look, there was power in her carapace muscles, and the frill that served as hair to her was full like butterfly wings.

At her side were two younger versions of her, one a bright butterfly green, and the other a more subdued beetle blue. They rose, smiles gracing their features as Scorpia gained a bit of a spring to her step and bowed eagerly before them.

“My Queen,” Scorpia whispered, as the others bowed behind her. “My mother.” She grinned at the two by her side. “My sisters.”

The sisters gave their mother a cautious look. But the Queen motioned, and they flew down to their sister.

“It’s wonderful to see you, Scorpia,” they said, glancing back at the others. “Though… who are these outsiders?”

“Members of the Crystal Empire,” Scorpia explained, as Celine cautiously inched forward. “They come asking for aid.” She turned to Celine before she could overstep her boundaries. “My friends,” she said. “This is Queen Vespa IV, Leader of Vespin Hive.” She indicated her sisters. “And these are Princesses Lintra and Orenta. My sisters, and fellow heirs to the throne.”

Queen Vespa leaned forward on her throne, taking in Celine’s appearance as she bowed before the queen.

“You look so much like your mother,” Vespa noted.

Celine flinched at the mention of Shiva. “Funny you should mention her…” Celine said nervously, glancing up at the Queen. “Shiva’s been kidnapped. By King Sombra.”

Vespa’s grin faded, while Lintra and Orenta began whispering to each other.

“Sombra’s also… taken control of my brother’s mind,” Celine continued. “He’s made him and my father and pack attack Equestria. We have to stop him.” Her head bowed. “But I don’t know how.”

Shining stepped closer. “We were hoping…” he offered hesitantly. “You’d be able to help us.”

Vespa shut her eyes with a sigh. Skippy shifted closer to his mother, as Scorpia watched her mother with tension.

“The cruel and unfortunate truth,” Vespa began softly. “Is that while Equestria’s fall would be catastrophic, the conflict will not leave only one side the victor.”

Celine blinked. “W-What do you mean?”

“Even if Celestia defeats your brother,” Vespa noted. “Will you stand by and allow her to destroy your family?”

Celine shuddered. “I can’t,” she said.

Vespa nodded, turning to Shining. “And even if the Son of the Howlite Howler defeats Celestia,” Vespa continued. “Will you stand by and allow your species to be enslaved, Captain Shining Armor.”

Shining’s eyes narrowed. “Never.”

Vespa nodded. “Exactly,” she said, turning back to Celine. “Diamond dog or pony; there will be survivors. And those survivors will have a grudge against the winners… and all who help them.”

“F-Forgive me, Mother,” Scorpia said. “But Vespin Hive is not some struggling colony. We have the means to defend ourselves.”

“We do,” Vespa admitted. “But how many changelings could be lost ensuring that we don’t fall. Ponies are smart, and diamond dogs are stubborn. I’m not interested in having either as an enemy.” She gave Celine a sad look. “My apologies, Daughter of the Howlite Howler. But my direct aid… is something I cannot give you.”

Shining and the ponies began to look down in horror. But Celine tilted her head in realization.

“But what about your ‘indirect’ help?” Celine asked. “As long as we assured that neither the ponies or the diamond dogs could trace your aid back to you…”

Queen Vespa’s eyes sparkled. “You really are your mother’s daughter,” Vespa praised.

Orenta stood. “My changelings can help,” she said.

Lintra did not move. “Mine will have to stand back,” she admitted, before giving Shining a smile. “However, they can lead you to a certain Hive that would be overjoyed to help you.”

Shining blinked. “They would?” he asked.

Lintra clicked, and a swarm of darker colored changelings hovered up before them.

“Gaol,” Lintra commanded. “Bring them to Caritatin Hive. And inform their Queen that reinforcements are soon to arrive.”


Meanwhile, in the dark of the Ever-Free Forest, Princess Luna marched through the ruins of the Castle of Two Sisters.

The portal to the Human world gleamed between the thrones she and her sister had once occupied. But though the absence of the Element of Kindness and Twilight’s faithful dragon bothered her, she let the portal be.

Instead, she moved beyond the Castle. To an old temple, shrouded by what once was the shadow of the castle’s ramparts. Only visible in the light of the full moon. As Luna altered the moon’s path, ensuring that it’s light bathed the field in silver, her heart tore as she found the temple destroyed. Vandalized with depictions of Nightmare Moon being struck down by Celestia.

Never mind that Celestia has her own inner demons, Luna thought venomously, before shaking her head and returning her focus to her task.

Her horn glowing, she launched a beam of magic into the sky. Crackling through the stars like thunder, an Aurora Australis appeared, streaking through the night sky like a rampant paint brush endowed with neon green.

At first, nothing happened. But Luna expected it. Flaring her wings, she lifted herself into the air. And as her silhouette darkened the moon, she spoke. Not in the normal language, but with the clicks and squeaks of another language.

Soldiers of the Night,” Luna beseeched. “Heed the voice of the one who forgave you for your crimes, who came to you in dreams with tales of better times.”

As she spoke, the sound of wings began to respond to her call. The forests began to move, and spots like fireflies began to glow as thousands of eyes alighted on the Lunar Princess.

The sun fades away, the yellow turns to gray,” Luna warned. “But moonlight shines across the land; a calling I plead you obey. The purest of shadows must fight a greater fight. Join me, my brothers and sisters; my Soldiers of the Night.”

A sound responded. At first hard to hear – impossible for some creatures – the sheer number allowed it to be heard as a sharp, “EEEEEEEEEEEE” noise.

The forest shifted again, and those glowing eyes began bodies as thousands upon thousands of thestrals rose into the air, answering Luna’s call.

Yet, in many of their eyes, Luna saw resentment. Suspicion. Guilt. She bowed her head.

For all the good I claim to create, it doesn’t make me right,” she admitted. “But we who hide in darkness see a different kind of light.”

Her horn glowed, revealing a vision to the thestrals: Kodo, Sombra at his shoulder, howling as his diamond dogs rushed the broken solar guard.

“The times we live in now have changed,” Luna claimed. “Honor is long gone. Good and evil are shades of gray, and a cruel impasse has drawn. Now day shivers in the gutters, far away from home. They lose the last vestige of hope, freezing and alone.”

The thestrals winced at the suffering of the ponies. The angry looks began to fade. Luna let herself drift closer, before noticing a familiar fleet of airships approaching fast.

Come forth from the shadows,” she asked. “Fill their souls with dread. Fight tonight to rule tomorrow; face the dark days that lie ahead.”

The thestrals hissed. But rather than retreat, they joined their princess, rising to serve the lady of the night.

Taking wing, they launched for Ponyville. As they settled over the sleeping town, Luna felt a presence in the dreamscape.

One she could not afford to let slip by.

Quickly settling herself couchant, Luna dove into the dreamscape.

Kodo was waiting for her. No longer in Ponyville, he and his pack were long past Ponyville. On the way to the changeling hives.

Sombra curled around Kodo’s sleeping mind like a snake around a trunk. Luna fired a spell into his dreams, distracting him with nightmares of Celestia overthrowing him. As the demon king struggled with his nightmares, Luna dipped into Kodo’s dreams…

And found the poor wolf in a nightmare of his own. A more distorted looking Sombra held him by puppet strings, pulling him away from his beloved mother, and forcing him to march on a helpless Celine.

“Brother, please!” Celine whimpered. “Don’t do this!”

“I… don’t want to!” Kodo insisted. He looked up to Sombra, who forced him closer and closer to his sister. “Sombra. Please; I don’t want to do this!”

Sombra merely laughed at him, forcing him to raise a sword over his sobbing sister.

“Celine… no!” Kodo whimpered.

Luna didn’t let it progress farther. Firing a spell, she cut the puppet strings binding Kodo. With an additional beam, she dissipated the dream Sombra. In seconds, Kodo found himself with his family. Though, even as he embraced them, his ears flattened, and they faded from his arms.

“You’re the one Celestia told me about,” Kodo mused, turning to Luna. "You fought her before.”

Luna tilted her head, before his memories came to her. Talking with Celestia.

“There is someone that would know what you are going through,” she had said. “And there is a way you can talk to her.”

“Yes,” Luna admitted, settling next to Kodo as his dream shifted to Outer Haven. “I… know what it is like to be overtaken by evil.”

“I don’t…” Kodo winced, gazing down at his claws. “I don’t think that Sombra is evil. At least… not all the way. He could’ve done so many horrible things to me for revenge for Shiva. But he didn’t…”

“Please, use caution, young one,” Luna insisted. “I once thought that Nightmare was merely a way for me to vent my anger and frustration. Then it became something much worse.”

“Maybe it already is something much worse,” Kodo admitted, looking into his dreams as they took the form of Shiva. “Oh, Mother…” Kodo almost sobbed, reaching out for her. “All I wanted was to have her back.” His fist clenched over his mother, only for her image to dissipate into steam.

Luna’s ears flattened in pity. She gently touched Kodo’s back.

“Celestia was wrong,” Luna whispered. “You are better than I, Beta Kodo. Love motivates you, where envy was what motivated Nightmare Moon.”

“But how do I get her back?” Kodo whispered, turning back to Luna. “How do I reunite my family and bring things back to the way they were?”

"Even now, the Element of Kindness and the Dragon Spike move to find your mother," Luna assured him. She settled a wing against him. "Please, Kodo; when she returns, call off your dogs. There was never a need for war."

Kodo, however, turned to where Sombra had been. "But what about Sombra?" he noted. "He will have to be taken, right? And then..." Kodo's ears flattened. "I'll be punished."

Luna winced. Indeed, the ponies would be very reluctant to let Kodo go without retribution for the suffering he had inflicted. Luna herself still knew the dreams of some ponies that thought she had gotten off too lightly. She huffed; another thing she might share in common with this young wolf.

"I'll see to it that your punishment isn't severe," Luna offered. "For now... be patient. Lead your pack away from Canterlot. And dream of your family."

Kodo obeyed, despite himself. And as warm images of Shiva, Luke and Celine formed around him, Luna left his side, gazing on him with pity and wishing that she could do more for the poor, misguided wolf.


Meanwhile, inside the human world, Spike moaned as he reached a street.

“There’s too many scents here,” he whispered. “I-I think Shiva got into a car. But then a bunch of cars shot through here. I have no idea which one had her in it.”

“Well, we have to figure it out somehow,” Fluttershy insisted. “Everyone in Equestria is counting on us.” She pet Spike's head. "I know you're doing the best you can."

Spike nodded, moving to try and pick up some sort of clue… when one of the humans passing by did a double take.

“Fluttershy?” she asked.

Fluttershy looked up with a blink. “Tree Hugger?” she whispered.

Admittedly, it was the human version of Tree Hugger. But her smile was just as kind as her pony counterpart.

“Good to see you again,” the human greeted. “I thought you went off on that big camping trip with your new pet.”

Fluttershy and Spike paused, glancing at each other. “New… pet?” Fluttershy asked.

“Or animal companion,” Tree Hugger rectified. “You know, the big white husky, or whatever dog breed she was. The one you found wandering outside Canterlot High, looking like it had taken a serious knock on the head, and you were all worried about what happened to her pups, before you decided to adopt her.” She shrugged, grinning as she saw Fluttershy’s grin. “I think you know the one I’m talking about.”

She started to walk away, before Fluttershy darted in front of her.

“Eh-heh,” Fluttershy chuckled nervously. “And could you remind me where I was going to take my new animal friend?” Fluttershy giggled, before knocking on her own head. “I’ve got a bit of a slow memory.”

Tree Hugger just shrugged. “Eh. I get it. You wanted to take her on a trip to Camp Ever-Free. Apparently, your dog was really curious about checking the place out.”

Spike and Fluttershy nearly squealed in delight.

“We got her!” Spike cheered, before pausing. “Wait… where is Camp Ever-Free?”

Fluttershy glanced at Tree Hugger expectantly.

Chapter 12: Old Friends

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The princess of the night was torn from Kodo’s side, returning to the waking realm to find Twilight shaking her, fear in her purple eyes.

“Luna, we need your help,” she insisted. “I think Kodo’s back!”

“But Kodo’s searching for his sister,” she insisted. “What’s…?”

But before she could ask, she saw the air ships from the night before. Descending upon Ponyville.

"Oh... right." Rising with a growl, Luna joined Twilight at the front barricade. “Stand fast,” she ordered.

The ponies of Ponyville formed ranks, standing alongside the changelings of Thorax’s hive, along with the Thestrals she had summoned. Though ponies and changelings alike gave the thestrals nervous looks, they were quickly more concerned with the ships that landed before them. And the cracked-horned unicorn that came from them.

“There you are,” Tempest Shadow noted with a grin. “And here I was concerned that Kodo was spinning me lies.”

“Who are you?” Luna demanded.

“Why are you helping Kodo?” Twilight demanded.

“Cooperation furthers our respective goals,” Tempest replied. “I need your magic, and he needed someone to keep you busy while he searched for his family.” Her eyes narrowed. “And, if I may add… taking his mother? That’s low even for you.”

Twilight and Luna’s eyes narrowed.

“We didn’t take her,” Twilight growled. “If anything, we’re… going to find her.” She glanced back at the Ever-Free. “Soon.”

Tempest hummed. “Good,” she declared. “Having someone that diamond dog pup truly cares about will make it easier to ensure he doesn’t try anything stupid like turn his back on this little alliance.” She grinned as Storm Creatures formed ranks behind her. “Something I recommend you follow his example on.”

Luna stamped a hoof. “Kodo’s mind is beset by darkness and madness,” she declared. “We are not so easily manipulated.”

Tempest merely huffed in amusement. “I was hoping you’d make this interesting,” she admitted, withdrawing an obsidian orb from her armor. “Considering these were originally intended for you two.”

Luna’s eyes widened in alarm, and she and Twilight dove to the side as Tempest hurled the orb at them. As the princesses tried to blast Tempest, the armies once again clashed.

Unfortunately, though the Ponyville resistance fought with just as much ferocity as the diamond dogs who came before, they were still too reliant on magic. And as their spells fizzled and faded against the magic-resistant armor of the Storm King Army, they were forced to rely on physical strength to overcome them.

Yet, they didn’t give up. Pinkie Pie blasted cakes and pies at the Storm Creatures, the Cake family right alongside her. Rarity hurled gems and jewels, with Sweetie Belle keeping her armed. Apple Bloom and Big Mac hurled apples at the trees, while Discord turned them into bombs with snaps of his fingers. And Zecora hurled potions and ancient brews from the side, drawing the Storm Creature’s gaze.

Yet, as the princesses fought with the traitor unicorn Tempest, what she had said burned in Luna’s mind.

I need your magic, and he needs someone to distract you while he searches for his family.”

Twilight briefly backed up from the fight, attempting a replica of Shiva’s pack link. Though it was shaky, she connected to Luna’s natural dream spells. Though it nearly cost Luna her freedom, as she narrowly dodged an obsidian orb.

This is just a distraction,” Twilight thought with all her might. “Kodo’s going after Celine. That means that Canterlot must be open. None of Shiva's family are controlling it. Maybe we could try to save Celestia.”

Luna briefly didn’t speak, sending Tempest back-flipping away with a shadow spell.

That may not be possible, Twilight Sparkle,” Luna finally replied wearily. “This army is like nothing I’ve seen before.”

“If not us, then at the very least someone else,” Twilight insisted, knocking Tempest off guard with a shot to the ground under her hooves. “Not all of Equestria could have fallen to the diamond dogs.”

Luna pondered it, before dodging another orb from the unicorn. She growled. “My dream realm could allow quicker communication. But you would have to fight her on your own!”

But Twilight smiled as a cake suddenly plastered Tempest upside the head. Pinkie rolled her cannon next to her, while Rarity drop-kicked a storm creature into a waiting spell from Thorax, and grinned at the princesses.

“I’m never alone,” Twilight declared, standing with her friends as Tempest got up with a sparking horn and an expression of rage. “Go!”

Smiling at the young princesses’ bravery, Luna let one more spell loose, managing to punch a hole in one of the ships and send it plummeting to the ground. Emboldened, the thestrals, changelings and ponies continued to push back, while Luna shot from the battlefield.

Returning to a quiet place, she dove back into the dream realm. Though no one slept, she remembered the concept of day dreams. Desperately, she sent out a massive spell, echoing with her message.

Ponies of Equestria,”she begged. “The Son of the Howlite Howler moves North. Away from Canterlot. Free Celestia. Free Canterlot. Free Equestria!”


Meanwhile, Kodo stood over the beaten Brae burn and the resistance of Appaloosa. He shook his head at the buffalo that were forced to their knees before him.

“You should have just let us pass peacefully,” Kodo noted. “We had no quarrel with you.”

“Y-You took down our princesses,” Brae Burn insisted. “You made yerself an enemy of the ponies the second you took down Princess Cadence.”

“And they may not be our leaders,” the biggest buffalo replied. “But we are still allies to the ponies. And as long as they need us, we will fight.”

Loyal,” Sombra mused. “Admirable, I’m sure. But it must be punished.”

Sighing, Kodo nodded assent, and raised his claw to fire a spell at them…

Only for a silvery tendril to pass through them all. Kodo staggered on his feet, while several of the ponies collapsed and fell asleep instantly. In the throes of exhaustion, Kodo heard her.

Ponies of Equestria,” Luna declared. “The Son of the Howlite Howler moves North! Away from Canterlot! Free Celestia! Free Canterlot! Free Equestria!”

Blinking and shaking his head free, Kodo noticed the buffalo chief trying to rise.

Sombra!” he barked. And the dark king replied, catching the buffalo with a spell that quickly encased the chief in obsidian.

The ponies yelped, and wisely bowed when Kodo glared at them. Yet, the diamonds dogs still stood with confusion.

"What happened?" Luke asked.

"A dream message," Kodo replied. "They know we left Canterlot."

“If Celestia is freed,” Sombra whispered. “Your entire army will suffer.”

Kodo grimaced. “But Celine still needs our help.” He insisted.

For a moment, the diamond dogs stood in doubt. Then… their smallest member stepped up.

“I’ll go back to Canterlot,” Muffins offered. “I’ll keep them from freeing the princess.” He put his claw on Kodo’s shoulder. “Find your sister. And bring a whole army of changelings back with ya.”

Kodo grinned, and pat Muffins’ shoulder as well. Luke stepped up as well.

“Send someone to the Crystal Empire as well,” he suggested. “Not only to check and make sure Cadence is alright… but Shiva and I were working on something that might be able to help.”

Muffins’ eyes glittered with an ominous light, and he bowed to his Alpha. “At once, Alpha,” he declared, before scampering away.

Kodo watched him go with confusion. “W-What were you and Mother working on?” he asked as they turned back for the hives.

Luke grinned. “Poison gas,” he explained. “Diamond Dogs are usually resistant to most gases. We have to, as a result of living underground. But other creatures are not as adaptable. We figured out a way to turn that on any non-dogs that came across us.” He paused. “Of course, Shiva cut production on it after she found out what it does. But, if it discourages enemy movement…”

Kodo grimaced, before turning to Muffins.

Muffins,”he barked, catching the small diamond dog with a pack link. “This weapon Dad’s suggesting. You be careful with it. After all, not all of our allies are diamond dogs. It’s possible Celine will meet us at the border with an army of changelings. Ready to help us take out the princesses and get Mother back.”


Kodo was right in some regards.

As Celine gazed at the Hive that was waiting for them, she noticed with a shudder that it was placed right next to the border of Equestria. From her vantage point, Celine could see the fires burning across Equestria. Ponies marching to and fro, prepping for war.

Her ears flattened, and a whimper escaped her snout. Shining Armor walked up next to her, following her gaze with a somber expression.

“This war’s never going to truly be won,” Celine admitted. “Is it?”

Shining Armor glanced at her with a confused look. “What do you mean?” he asked.

“Even if we stop all the fighting,” she noted. “Save the princesses…” she lowered her head. “The ponies won’t forgive the diamond dogs.” She looked up with tears in her eyes. “Won’t forgive… my brother for what he did.”

Shining grimaced, but couldn’t refute her. At least, not until Skippy walked up next to her.

“That was Sombra,” he insisted. “Not your brother. It’s not fair to just judge him for the actions of one of their own.”

Celine nodded, but her tail remained tucked. “It wasn’t fair, what happened to Mother either,” Celine pointed out. “But it happened anyway.”

Skippy grimaced at her point, before Scorpia and Orenta walked up to them.

“We’re here,” Orenta said, turning their gaze to the changeling hive. “Caritatin Hive.”

At first, Caritatin Hive looked rather undeveloped. And yet… as they made their way into the base, they noticed that the undeveloped part was more of a shell. A shell of ruins, admittedly, but ones that did a good job hiding the smaller but much cleaner and military prepared Hive. As they passed by the shell, several guards hiding in the broken comb-like entrances glared down at them, before their expressions softened, seeing two of their princesses among them.

“W-Welcome to Caritatin Hive, Princesses,” one of the changelings called, saluting Orenta and Scorpia.

“At ease, my friends,” Scorpia said, smiling at Shining Armor. “The Queen is going to want to see these visitors.”

Shining gave her a confused look, before she ushered him and the others inside. Despite the ruin outside, the Hive inside was still warm and inviting, with changelings constantly bowing to Shining and the ponies as they walked by.

“They don’t lack for spirit,” Shining noted, blinking as several passing changelings bowed to him.

“Their last queen – their entire royal family,” Scorpia noted sadly. “They were lost 45 years before Luna’s return.” She indicated outside. “That ruin used to be their old Hive.”

Celine glanced back. “Now it… what?” she asked. “Makes good camouflage.”

“Pretty much,” Orenta admitted with a grin, turning to Scorpia as the princess continued.

“Due to the complexity of inheritance without a designated heir, the council had to sift through over a thousand years’ worth of documentation,” Scorpia continued.

“It took them some time, and plenty of help from us,” Orenta continued as they lifted Shining and Celine towards the throne room. “But with Shiva’s aid, we managed to track down the last ratified inheritance paper, written by Queen Athru, a hundred years before Luna’s banishment. In her paper, she stated that in the event of no designated princess, the Hive was supposed to go to the youngest of the ‘Amore’ family.”

Shining blinked. “A-Amore?” he stammered.

But at that moment, they reached the throne room. And both Celine and Shining gasped in relieved wonder.

Sitting on the throne, with three changelings standing guard, playing with a stuffed animal, was Flurry Heart.

“Flurry!” Shining cried, lunging to embrace her. The changelings rose up to defend her, but Scorpia managed to wave them off in time, allowing father and daughter to be reunited. Celine briefly reached a claw out before drawing back, covering her muzzle in shock.

“H-How?” she whispered, turning to Scorpia. “I thought Kodo captured her.”

“Almost,” one of the changelings replied, still watching Shining warily. “But we were able to get her away in the nick of time.” He turned back to Celine and gave a small bow. “Councilor Setanta, at your service.” He indicated the other two changelings, who grimaced as Shining sat himself on the throne right by Flurry Heart’s side. “These are Councilor’s Cumhall and Dagda.”

“You… rescued my daughter?” Shining choked out.

“We rescued our Queen,” Dagda corrected.

“I…” Shining stammered, waving at his eyes. “There are no words. I-I have no right…”

“Do not fear, Prince Armor,” Setanta replied. “Just know that we are more than happy to fight for the ones who birthed our future Queen and restored our Hive.”

As Shining bowed in thanks, Celine chanced a glance outside the uncompleted hive. Her grin faded as she saw a very familiar diamond dog leading a massive pack towards them.

“Then I hope your army is ready,” Celine replied darkly. “Because that fight is coming sooner rather than later.”

Chapter 13: A Battle for Pack and Mind

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Tree Hugger’s van cruised down the highway. Fluttershy and Spike sat in the back, watching the trees pass by with somber expressions.

“So,” Tree Hugger noted. “What’s the story with the dog?”

Fluttershy looked at Spike in confusion. “What do you mean?”

“Well,” Tree Hugger noted. “Ever since Summer break, that white dog was taking you on all these trips. Some of them out-of-state.”

“Oh!” Fluttershy gasped in realization. “Well… if I had to guess… I was trying to help Shiva find her old home. Before us.”

“Before Equestria?” Spike whispered. Fluttershy nodded.

It made sense, when they thought about it. Shiva had to have had lingering doubts over the fact that she had never been a full diamond dog. That she had likely come from here. Who would blame her for wanting to find her old home?

However, as Fluttershy pondered Shiva’s predicament, Tree Hugger suddenly straightened, peering at something in the road.

“What the…?” she muttered, turning off onto a well-worn forest path.

Fluttershy and Spike peeked out the window… and gasped in shock. Fluttershy hugged Spike so tightly he nearly squeaked.

As Tree Hugger’s van slid to a stop, they saw the Human version of Fluttershy walking out.

With Shiva right behind her.

Even without her diamond dog heritage, it was impossible to mistake Shiva for just any old dog. She stood almost as big as a horse, her snow-white fur almost appearing to glow in the late afternoon light. Yet… her brown eyes shined with something familiar and yet unfamiliar at the same time.

Confusion. Uncertainty. And great sadness. Despite her efforts, Fluttershy could assume that Shiva had not found her original home.

Though Fluttershy didn’t get long to worry about Shiva’s feelings. Fluttershy soon saw that same expression reflected back at her as her human counterpart spotted her. Tree Hugger herself blinked as she took in the two versions of her friend before her.

“Whoa,” she commented. “I’m seeing double.”

However, the confusion only lasted a minute before Spike came out of Tree Hugger’s van. And Human Fluttershy’s eyes widened in realization.

“You’re the Fluttershy from Twilight’s world,” she realized. “E-Equestria.”

Fluttershy sighed in relief. “Yes,” she said. “And we need help.” She indicated Shiva. “Her help, specifically.”

Human Fluttershy turned to Shiva, who looked up at her with a confused whimper.

“Her help?” Human Fluttershy asked. “But… she’s… is she someone important in Equestria?”

Spike and Pony Fluttershy exchanged a glance.

“Sister, you have no idea,” Spike said, while Fluttershy indicated Tree Hugger’s van.

“Come with us,” she invited. “We can explain on the way back.” She noticed Tree Hugger tilting her head at her. “I mean… if that’s alright with you.”

Human Fluttershy and Tree Hugger exchanged a glance. Before Tree Hugger shrugged.

Shiva, on the other hand, slowly approached, her eyes locked on Spike with familiarity. Spike approached her as well.

“You recognize me, Shiva?” he asked.

She huffed and sniffed at him.

“Your kids need you,” Spike insisted. “Kodo and Celine. They need you.”

“Kodo and Celine!” Something flashed around Shiva’s head, but her ears perked, and she looked to the van with a new light in her eyes. Racing up to Human Fluttershy, she pawed at her with a desperate look in her eye, before racing back to the van and barking.

Human Fluttershy nodded. “I guess that settles it,” she said, turning to Tree Hugger. “T-Tree Hugger, I kind of hiked out here with her. I-If you don’t mind…”

Tree Hugger shrugged. “Hey, I’m happy to help out friends,” she said. “And it sounds like I’m saving a world too.” She chuckled and hopped back into her van. “Get in; let’s go save a world.”

“Hopefully, Kodo’s left a world for us to come back to,” Spike mumbled.


Meanwhile, on the borders of Equestria, Celine watched as the battle lines formed: mere miles from the borders of Caritatin Hive were her brother, father and pack. On the other side, right in front of the Hive, Shining Armor, Skippy, and a collection of ponies and changelings stood ready to combat them.

As she stepped out from Caritatin Hive to join them, she remembered another battlefield – another time when ponies had needed her to step up. But she hadn’t. And now Celestia was in prison, Luna was under attack, and the others had been scattered.

Skippy noticed her coming up to them. “I can sense your emotional turmoil,” he noted. “Are you sure you’re prepared for this?”

Celine turned to her brother, wincing at the hopeful gaze he was giving her. “I have to be,” she admitted. “And yet…” She looked down. “I failed Celestia. I should have stood my ground… but…” She looked up. “Skippy, he’s my brother. Those are all my family."

“Family of blood, sure,” Skippy said. “But Shiva is my pack sister.” He indicated the Hive. “That makes all of these changelings’ pack by choice.” He pat her shoulder. “Just… consider that.”

Celine shut her eyes. She wanted to whimper, cry; do anything to get rid of the ball of guilt, fear and nervousness locking her limbs in place and making her long to be anywhere but here. But then she heard Luke’s growl, and Skippy’s comforting touch left her.

When she opened her eyes, her tail could only feebly wag as Kodo and Luke once again stood before her. She walked out from Caritatin Hive’s front line, and walked into No-Man’s-Land to greet them.

“Sister,” Kodo whispered. “I’m sorry; I never should have sent you away.”

“Was it worth it?” Luke asked, gazing up at Caritatin Hive’s outer shell of ruins, concealing its true glory. “This Hive… doesn’t exactly look like the best.”

“It’ll be enough,” Kodo insisted, his gaze barely leaving his sister. “Come on, Celine. Introduce us to the changelings that are going to help us save Equestria.”

Celine swallowed. But when Kodo tried to pull her towards the Hive, she stopped him.

“Save Equestria?” she asked. “What happened to finding Mother?”

Darkness briefly billowed from Kodo’s form, but when he gazed at her, it was only with confusion.

“Sombra will reveal where Mother is,” he promised. “As soon as we get rid of the Princesses.” He stepped closer. “And that’ll be easy; we’ve already got Cadence and Celestia. A-And there’s this unicorn – Tempest something or other – who’s willing to take them and make sure they aren’t a threat to us…”

“Kodo,” Celine interrupted. “They were never a threat to us. Not until you started listening to Sombra.”

Darkness billowed around Kodo again, but he struggled to shake it off.

“Celine… sister…” he almost begged. “Don’t do this. Don’t make him…”

Celine shook her head sadly, but planted herself before him and the changelings.

“I’m sorry, brother,” she said. “But the changelings of Caritatin Hive are not joining you in this mad crusade.” She winced, her heart begging her not to add in the last part, but she forced the words out: “And neither am I.”

Kodo’s entire body drooped. His eyes shined with horror. His tail tucked up to his chest.

“Celine…” he whimpered as darkness started to pour out from his form. “No…”

“Don’t listen to him, Kodo,” Celine pleaded, cautiously taking a step towards him. “Don’t listen to Sombra.”

Stop turning him against me, girl!” Sombra suddenly bellowed, lashing at Celine. She barely managed to dodge.

“Kodo!” Luke barked, but Sombra turned to him with a snarl, and the diamond dog backed up with a surprised bark of alarm.

You would turn against me?!” Sombra demanded to Celine. He turned his gaze up to the changelings, who bristled and hissed at his fury. “You would betray me?!”

“Who betrayed who, Sombra?” Celine growled.

Sombra snarled down at her, his green eyes glittering in hate. He raised a claw to swipe at her.

But… he hesitated. His eyes flashed back and forth – sometimes shining with dark magic. Other times shining with tears.

“N-No…” Kodo whimpered, struggling to hold Sombra back. “Not… my… family…”

She betrayed us, Kodo,” Sombra insisted. “She was beguiled by the alicorns! You have to stop them, or you'll never get your mother back!”

“No…” Growling, Kodo turned, and found the changelings that had sided with him charging their horns at him. Even the diamond dogs were reluctantly aiming their spears at him.

W-What madness is this?!” Sombra demanded.

“Loyalty!” Kodo barked, turning to the changelings that had sided with him. “Their queen doesn’t stand with us… does she?”

“Sorry, Kodo,” one of the changelings admitted, his eyes flicking up to one of the darker armored changelings of Vespin Hive.

“Kodo?” another diamond dog growled. “Or Sombra? I thought we were following the Son of Shiva. Not another pony overlord.”

I am your ruler!” Sombra bellowed. “I am…”

And yet… as he struggled to lash out at them – to use his powers – to do anything really – Kodo struggled to reign him in.

“You…” Kodo snarled. “Will not… hurt… my… PACK!”

Celine’s ears perked up in hope. She sent a pack link to Kodo.

“That’s it, Kodo,” she encouraged. “Fight him. Don’t let him win!” She turned to his army. “Please! Help!”

The diamond dogs glanced at Luke. But he nodded and offered his claw to Celine. Her tail wagging and her smile brightening, she extended a tendril to her father as well. Golden threads of light lashed out to the diamond dogs, and the binds around Kodo strengthened. He lifted his head, and Sombra’s darkness desperately tried to fly out of him, only to be rebound by the threads of the pack link.

You fools!” Sombra bellowed as he was tied down. “All I have ever done was try to protect your pack! The same way I protected my Empire! The Alicorns see you as an enemy! They see you as a threat! They will destroy you! I only wanted to prevent that!”

Despite his protests, the threads bound tighter and tighter around him. And Kodo slowly fell to his knees, as even the changelings and ponies joined in, lending their strength to Celine as she slowly overpowered her brother.

Kodo fell to all fours, Sombra’s bellowing muffled by the threads of the cocoon that had entrapped Sombra’s darkness. And the diamond dogs cautiously crept closer as Celine stood tall over them.

One narrowed his eyes. “You’re not possessed by pony spirits either, are you?” he asked cautiously.

Celine chuckled. But before she could say no… her grin faded as she spotted something in the distance.

The others turned, following her gaze as a golden light shined up towards the sun on the horizon. A roar of utter rage followed it, almost like the call of a dragon. Or an angry goddess.

“What is that?” Luke demanded.

Sombra gazed up from his bindings, and his eyes shrunk to pinpricks of fright.

What I was trying to protect you from,” he whispered.


Back in Canterlot, Muffins and his trope had arrived to find a sight of terror:

Ponies were fighting in the streets. Taking on the Storm Creatures, Diamond Dogs and changelings that had remained. And even worse… they were winning!

As the ponies bashed their way through the weakened creatures, and made their way to the palace, Muffins spotted Rainbow Dash and Applejack leading the herd.

“YEEE-HAAWWWW!” Applejack cried. “C’MON, YA’LL!”

“These freaks thought they could keep us down!” Rainbow Dash snarled. “Let’s show em just how wrong they are!”

Cackling, she spun and kicked a diamond dog straight into the Canterlot Plaza. Just beneath that palace, Muffins knew Celestia resided. Just waiting for Rainbow Dash and Applejack to free her.

Muffins growled before waving his paw forward. “Stop them!” he ordered. “Don’t let them get to the Princess!”

Yet, even as the first wave of diamond dogs charged the gates of Canterlot, unicorn royal guards rose up to meet them, blasting them back with a wall of spells. And without Kodo or Shiva to power them, the diamond dogs quickly found themselves falling back.

Growling, Muffins turned his gaze to the ground.

“Through the catacombs,” he offered.

But as the diamond dogs dove down, they found earth ponies waiting for them. Stomping their hooves in preparation for a fight.

Muffins stared in disbelief as his forces were matched and held back. Meanwhile, Rainbow Dash and Applejack had disappeared into the palace. There was no telling how long it would be before they freed Celestia.

Then… Muffins gaze turned to the weapon they had picked up. His eyes glinted with a mad light.

“Sorry, Beta Kodo,” he growled, picking up the gas bombs. “But desperate times call for desperate measures.” He handed them to his strongest dogs. “Lob these into Canterlot. Gas the lot of them!”


At the same time, Celestia paced in her cell. Her thoughts were running wild. Her mane was nearly a solid sheen of golden flames.

He betrayed you,” her inner darkness hissed. “He led a traitor to your sister. To your student!”

“No…” Celestia insisted. “This… it will work out in the end.”

Her eyes opened as she heard a THUD come from the other side. Hope briefly flared in her chest as she heard the clopping of hoof steps down the hall.

You see,” Celestia thought in relief. “It’s working out. Things are going to be okay.”

Her smile widened as Applejack and Rainbow Dash – streaked with grime, but with passion in their eyes – raced in front of her cell.

“Howdy there, Princess,” Applejack greeted, before kicking open her cell door with a BANG! “Let’s get you outta there.”

Celestia strode out with a smile wide as the sun. “It’s so good to see you both,” she said. “How did you escape?”

“Wasn’t easy,” Rainbow Dash replied. “Those stupid wild dog clans tried to have us harvest gems for them.” She scoffed. “So much for Shiva stopping that practice.”

“But then,” Applejack continued. “We got this message from Luna. Talking about how resistance groups needed to form up at Canterlot and help ya.”

“Applejack pulled off a crazy stunt with playing dead,” Rainbow Dash noted. “We flattened a bunch of them with a mine cart. And…”

Before she could continue, the three paused as they heard screams. Celestia’s eyes widened in horror – they were pony screams.

“What’s happening?” she demanded, flaring her horn and teleporting herself, Rainbow Dash and Applejack to the balcony.

There… Celestia covered her hoof, while Applejack and Rainbow Dash gasped in disbelief.

A horrible brown gas was spreading over the lower levels of Canterlot. As the diamond dogs charged through, completely unaffected, ponies, and even changelings and storm creatures began to… dissolve.

The ponies coughed and hacked, struggling to breathe even as the diamond dogs cut through them. Many were bleeding from the throats even before the diamond dogs could get a hit in on them. Their flesh began to hang around their bodies, making them look like it was melting right off their bones. After several rounds of coughing, several of the unicorns keeled over and didn’t move again. And they were quickly followed by more, as Muffins and his brigade made their way inside.

Applejack and Rainbow Dash prepared to jump down and try to help. But they paused as they felt a growing heat building from Celestia.

“Uh… Princess?” Applejack asked.

Celestia didn’t even glance at her. Her focus was on the ponies slowly dying to the diamond dog gas. Her eyes… turned black. Her irises turned golden… and slit pupiled like a dragon.

“He said no harm would come,” Celestia hissed. “He promised…”

Suddenly, she laughed. A dark, ugly laugh that made Rainbow Dash and Applejack back up.

“Uh… Princess Celestia?” Rainbow Dash asked.

Princess Celestia was weak,” The alicorn growled at them. Her wings flapped, and she rose above them. “She wanted to believe that friendship could rule the day.”

The flame-enshrouded alicorn glared down at Muffins and his diamond dogs, as they slowed to a stop, staring at her in shock.

“What the…?” Muffins stammered.
But you don’t understand friendship, do you?” the alicorn mocked. “No, you’re too stupid for that. All you’ll understand… is FORCE!”

Fire burst from her horn. And Muffins barely got time to turn and run before the spell smashed into the dogs. Rainbow Dash and Applejack backed up in alarm as fire scorched through the city. Burning away the gas, and disintegrating any diamond dogs, changelings or Storm Creatures that remained. The ponies screamed in fear. And though the fire magic didn’t touch them, they still huddled, whimpering and coughing from the effects of the gas. Staring up in terror at the angry alicorn above them.

“P-Princess Celestia…” Applejack stammered. “Land sakes, you were holding that kind of power…?”

We can’t rely on Celestia anymore,” The alicorn replied, turning to them with a draconic grin. “Now? It’s time we see what Day Breaker can do.”

Chapter 14: Return to Ponyville

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“So… let me get this straight,” Human Fluttershy summed up, as Tree Hugger’s van slid to a stop outside Canterlot High. “Shiva is a Queen of another species whose son was possessed by the former King, and you believe bringing her back will snap her son out of his trance and allow him to overthrow the King.”

“Exactly,” Spike agreed.

“I know it’s a lot to take in,” Pony Fluttershy admitted, before Human Fluttershy gave a soft chuckle.

“If you had told me before I met Twilight Sparkle,” Fluttershy said. “I might’ve found it a little hard to believe. But after the adventures we’ve been having…” she chuckled. “I think I can accept it.”

“Yeah,” Tree Hugger agreed. “Didn’t you get that ability to talk to animals too? That was radical.”

“Speaking of which…” Pony Fluttershy noted, looking to Shiva. “What do you think about this, Shiva?”

The wolf had no response. Spike blinked and tilted his head before turning to Human Fluttershy.

“Are you… getting anything from her?” he asked.

She shook her head. “No. She hasn’t said much since I found her.” She rubbed Shiva’s head. “She talked once about her old home, but…” Her face fell. “But we couldn’t find it. She hasn’t spoken since, and…” She sighed, and looked to Pony Fluttershy. “Please just tell me that she’ll be safe on the other side.”

“Of course,” Pony Fluttershy promised, taking her human counterpart’s hand. “She’ll be in good… hooves.”

The two chuckled, while Spike nuzzled up next to Shiva, who pulled him in closer like a mother with her pups.

“You’re going back to your pups, Shiva,” Spike promised her. “We’ll finally end this.”

Shiva still said nothing, but her tail wagged, and she lowered her nose to Spike’s head with a sigh. It seems that despite Sombra’s best efforts, he couldn’t erase the memory of her children. And as they rolled up to Canterlot High, Shiva’s eyes instantly found the mirror, glittering and waiting for them.

“Are you sure you don’t want us to come with?” Human Fluttershy asked as they neared the portal.

“Thank you,” Pony Fluttershy replied. “But we don’t want to risk you getting hurt.” She looked down with a shiver. “I have no idea what’s happened while we were gone.”

Spike touched her knee. “Shiva can stop it,” he insisted. “Once Kodo sees her, he’ll stop. I’m sure.”

“Right,” Pony Fluttershy agreed, before Human Fluttershy touched her head to Shiva’s.

“Goodbye, Shiva,” she whispered. “I hope that you find your home.”

Shiva’s paws came up, touching Fluttershy’s shoulders. And a soft, “Thank you,” escaped the dog’s lips.

They held that pose for a few seconds. Then, Human Fluttershy gently nudged Shiva towards the mirror. And with Pony Fluttershy and Spike at her side, Shiva took a deep breath, and jumped into the portal…


…Into a nightmare.

The sky was red. The sun was closer than before, and almost seemed to take up half the sky in a blazing ball of gold. An unbearable heat not unlike a desert hung over the wilting trees. And the wind carried screams with it. Screams of the dying.

Shiva whimpered. Instinctively, she started to turn back to the mirror. Fluttershy almost turned back with her. But Spike – returned to his dragon form – grabbed them both.

“Come on,” he insisted. “We gotta move.”

Reluctantly, Shiva and Fluttershy followed after him. As they raced through the Ever-Free Forest, they saw other animals racing away. Fluttershy whimpered as a manticore barreled by like a freight train, his eyes wide with fear.

“Something’s… terrifying them,” she whimpered.

“W-What happened?” Shiva whispered. “H-How long was I gone?”

She got her answer, as they came to the border of Ponyville… and saw it in flames.

Fluttershy started to cry, before they realized that the flames were on the other side of town. The last ships of the Storm King were plummeting out of the sky, engulfed in flames. And the ponies were gathered, watching in horror as an unfamiliar alicorn descended on another unicorn.

“Who… that?!” Shiva stammered, pointing to the alicorn.

“I-I don’t know,” Fluttershy squeaked out. But Spike’s eyes widened in horror.

“It can’t be…” he whispered, before rushing to the barricade.

Twilight, Luna, and the rest of the denizens of Ponyville were only able to watch in horror as Tempest Shadow tried to hit Day Breaker with an obsidian grenade. Day Breaker blasted the orb aside, and smirked as Tempest quivered beneath her gaze.

You betrayed my nation,” Day Breaker growled. “You DARE help an invading force hurt MY PONIES?!”

“I… only…” Tempest tried to say, before Day Breaker’s horn lit up. Tempest turned to the other princesses, before Day Breaker’s beam fired.

Tempest’s scream rattled Shiva’s ear drums. She knelt down with a frightened whimper. A whimper that caught the others attention.

Twilight gasped in glee. “Spike!” she exclaimed, racing over to him. “You…”

“Twilight, no!” Luna hissed, pulling her back.
But Day Breaker had turned to Twilight in confusion… allowing her draconic eyes to settle on Shiva.

Ah, at last,” she noted sarcastically. “The ‘Great and Powerful’ Shiva graces us with her presence.”

Among the Ponyville residents, a familiar dark blue unicorn scoffed, but didn’t dare voice her indignation.

Shiva shook her head, glancing around as the alicorn bore down on her. “I didn’t…” Shiva whispered, before Day Breaker teleported right in front of her, sending Shiva to her back with a frightened yelp.

Tell me,” Day Breaker growled. “While my ponies suffered under your diamond dogs… were you having fun? Laughing it up with your human friends?”

Shiva whimpered and hid her face.

“Sister,” Luna hissed. “Celestia. That isn’t her fault! Sombra overpowered her. Threw her into the other world.”

She failed to control her whelp, Luna,” Day Breaker insisted. “The whelp who gave Sombra the might of the Diamond Dogs! We never should have trusted those creatures.” Her horn lit up ominously. “We should have destroyed her the second she was brought to Canterlot!”

Shiva yelped and curled into a ball… only for Twilight to step between them.

Twilight trembled under Day Breaker’s fiery gaze. But she forced herself to hold her ground.

“W-Would you have done the same thing to Luna when she was Nightmare Moon?” Twilight got out. “Y-You’ve always taught me to handle things with tolerance and friendship! I-If we act like…”

She winced and whimpered under Day Breaker’s furious gaze. Another few seconds, and the purple mare might have folded completely. Luckily, Luna took to her side.

“Please, sister,” Luna said. “Shiva is not our enemy. She is here to fix all this.”

Day Breaker narrowed her eyes. She turned to the thestrals, which had twice as many in their ranks, all trying so hard to look inconspicuous.

“Thorax…” one of the ‘thestrals’ whispered.

“Sh!” the disguised changeling hissed.

“But she’s watching us!”

Finally, Day Breaker's gaze turned to the North.

Shiva’s help is no longer required, my beloved sister,” Day Breaker finally said. “However, for the sake of you and my student, I will spare her for now.” Shiva and the town sighed with relief as the alicorn took to the air. “After all, I must do what I should have done the second that mutt of hers desecrated Canterlot with his filthy paw steps!” She narrowed her eyes at Twilight. “And if his mother causes me anymore trouble, do not think that you will be able to save her a second time, Twilight.”

With that, Day Breaker shot away, the sun blinding the others to her departure. Shiva took to her paws, her eyes wide with horror, but her voice was lost to her. And either way, it wouldn’t have stopped Day Breaker’s charge.

Twilight shivered at Shiva’s whimper, before looking back at Tempest – or rather, the charred lump of cooked meat that Tempest had once been. “Can someone get her some help?” she demanded.

Discord raced over to Tempest in a hospital getup, while Rarity and Pinkie reunited with Fluttershy.

“Oh, Fluttershy,” Rarity bemoaned. “I fear we’re too late.”

“W-Well…” Pinkie said half-heartedly. “That was Princess Celestia, right. Just in a really-really-really-really-really bad mood? Maybe we can still talk to her?”

“M-Maybe,” Twilight stuttered. “But I don’t know… I’ve never seen her like this before…”

“No,” Luna admitted. “But you have seen me like this.”

The others slowly turned. Twilight’s eyes widened in horror.

“Luna…” she whimpered. “I-I can’t…”

“You must,” Luna said. “Find Rainbow Dash and Applejack. Then you must use the Elements of Harmony to free her. As you freed me!”

Twilight looked down with horror – fright that she had to do this to her own teacher – before a voice growled.


They turned. Shiva began to rise. Her fur pulsed and glowed.

“My… pack…” she whispered, touching her head. “My… son…” She looked up. Her body still shivered with fear, but her eyes were alight with a motherly urge to protect. “She can’t be allowed to hurt him!” she whispered, her voice cracking as fear fought against instinct.

Twilight’s ears flattened. She and Spike exchanged a glance.

“Shiva, no!” Spike insisted, trying to stand in her way. “You saw how powerful she was! You just got back!”

“If you try to stop her, you and your pack will all be destroyed!” Luna said.

“We need to find Rainbow Dash and Applejack,” Twilight insisted. “Reunite the Elements of Harmony. Maybe then we can…”

But before she could finish, a burst of light blinded them. They felt tendrils seize them around the necks.

There was a draining sensation – several ponies whimpering as they remembered Tirek. However, Shiva relented before she could drain them completely.

Save for Discord, Spoiled Rich and Diamond Tiara, who hit the ground once again drained of their magic.

“OH, COME ON!” Discord wailed. “SERIOUSLY?!”


But Shiva was long gone before their protests could even echo. Racing after Day Breaker.

Following the trail that led to her children. And her true home.


And yet, Shiva wouldn’t arrive in time. As Day Breaker made her way towards the borders where Kodo had gone, the young diamond dog, his family, his pack, and the changelings of Caritatin Hive stood in horror. Watching as the Golden Grim Reaper that was Day Breaker made her way towards them.

As she flew towards them, her eyes glanced down at the places where diamond dogs tried to keep a handle on ponies. She fired beam spells down at them. And Kodo winced as diamond dog cry after diamond dog cry was silenced forever.

The Diamond Dogs began to panic.

“B-Big alicorn!” several whimpered. “How are we supposed to fight big alicorn!”

Kodo turned back to Celine. Celine turned to the changelings.

“I… don’t suppose Queen Vespa could…” Celine tried to ask.

But Scorpia and Orenta were shaking their heads. Quivering in their carapaces as they beheld the dark version of Celestia.

“W-Wait,” Luke noted. “T-That Tempest Shadow said she worked for the Storm King. Maybe we can get his help!” He turned to the changelings. “C-Can’t one of you fly north? Where did those ships come from?”

“Even if we tried,” Kodo said. “They’d never get here in time.”

The pack turned to him. Despite his heart hammering in his chest, the young demi-wolf’s face was devoid of emotion. Almost… peaceful. Like he had gone right past the point of terror, and wound back to grim apathy.

“Kodo?” Celine asked.

“I’m the one who started all this,” Kodo said. “With Sombra in my head, I can just say that the Diamond Dogs were hypnotized.”

“B-But Beta…!” one of the diamond dogs protested.

“Kodo, no!” Luke insisted. “I’m your father. I should have controlled you!”

“But I have Sombra,” Kodo insisted. “Maybe, if we confront Day Breaker…”

Are you insane boy?” Sombra demanded. “I never saw Celestia like this. But… if she’s anything like the Nightmare…”

Briefly, Kodo’s eyes flashed with a terrifying memory. A version of Luna, with fur black as night. Swinging a scythe at him. Pain exploding across his chest. But Kodo forced it down.

“A pack without their Alpha may be lost, Sombra,” he reminded the King. “But an Alpha without their pack is nothing.”

Sombra shivered in Kodo’s mind, as he turned to his sister, and hugged her.

“Lead them,” he whispered to her, before pulling his father in as well. “And help her lead,” he whispered.

“Kodo…” they protested, trying to reach out for him.

But Kodo pulled himself from their grip. And as the diamond dogs parted before him, all of them too afraid to do what he was doing, Kodo began to march towards Day Breaker.

Though many miles still stood before them, Kodo and Day Breaker’s eyes locked. Sombra’s power made Kodo’s eyes glow.

Kodo smiled softly. “Well, Sombra?” he asked.

Sombra sighed. “One last dance,” he said. “I will not let you go gently into the good night. Or… good day, I suppose.”

Kodo huffed, before he felt tears push at his eyes. His heart beat, like a bird trying to escape a cage.

Yet, the thought of his sister – his father – all the diamond dogs he had led into this madness. The thoughts of them paying instead of him kept him putting one paw in front of the other. Approaching his destiny.

Chapter 15: The Battle of the Inner Demons

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Despite the utter danger Kodo could feel himself in just by approaching the insane alicorn, one fact kept Kodo calm.

“So,” he noted, as soon as Day Breaker was in range. “Who am I speaking to? The Princess who wanted to protect her little ponies? Or the False Queen who can’t stand not having the entire world under her hoof?”

Day Breaker chuckled in amusement. “You stand before Day Breaker! The better, prettier and more powerful version of Celestia!” She giggled as she felt herself up. “Oh, it’s been so long since Celestia let me out. I feel like an old dress she never wears.”

She glanced back with a grin at the fires. Kodo’s heart churned as he saw one of his diamond dogs - now mostly just a burnt carcass.

Then again,” She noted. “Every time she lets me out… someone dies.”

Kodo bristled. “My pack…” he whispered. “Muffins…?”

Day Breaker turned to grin at Kodo. “Oh, don’t cry for the little mutts. I’ve saved them the fate of seeing what I’m about to do to you.”

“Me?” Kodo asked, before he let darkness billow over his form.

Or me?” Sombra growled, appearing over Kodo in an outline of shadow.

Day Breaker merely cackled. “Oh, look at you, Sombra. You’re really going to fight? Or are you going to cower, scream and rage quit like you did against my sister?”

“Make your jokes while you can, Day Breaker,” Sombra growled. “Because we all can see the peak of your power, while I’m merely beginning to tap into mine. You see, when I took refuge in Shiva’s womb and by extension her children, I was given access to the very magic that powers her core. The magic that grows stronger when she connects with others. As Kodo has rampaged across your lands, his pack swelling with changelings, wild dogs and storm creatures, I have grown stronger and stronger. And while Nightmare caught me by surprise, she showed me exactly how to deal with you. And once I defeat you...”

Day Breaker scoffed. “Seriously?” She asked. “You get beaten by my younger sister, and you think you know how to handle me? Let me tell you something, Sombra: whatever you've done to prepare yourself for this moment? It wasn't enough! And by the end of this, you are going to be crying. Just like one of his women.”

She pointed at hoof at Kodo, who snarled.

"Was that a jab at my mother?!" he demanded before taking a shot at her.

Easily dodging, Day Breaker returned fire. Dodging the blow, Sombra blasted at her with obsidian. But another beam from Day Breaker disintegrated his shot. Yet as Kodo matched the attack with another chunk of obsidian, he noticed the lights casting shadows over the rocks.

Sombra, the shadows,” he noted.

Good!” Sombra growled, yanking the shadows from the ground, and condensing them into a beam that sent Day Breaker stumbling back.

“Ha!” Kodo cried in glee, before noticing Celine looking at him worriedly. “Don’t worry guys! I got her on the ropes!”

“You've got me on the ropes?!”Day Breaker cackled. “The ropes surrounding the hole you’ve just dug yourself into maybe.”

Kodo paused. “I’m not in a…”

Dodge, you foal!” Sombra boomed, keeping Day Breaker from blasting Kodo right into the ground.

Summoning more shadows from the light, Sombra and Kodo tried to envelop Day Breaker with a series of shadow blasts. But the alicorn flew almost casually away, every shot going wide.

“I don’t get it,” Celine whispered. “Why isn’t he hitting her?”

“Because he keeps aiming where she is instead of where she’s going to be!” Skippy growled, before Day Breaker shot right by them, smirking cruelly.

“Oh, crap… DODGE!” Luke yelled, tackling Celine, Skippy and several of the diamond dogs out of the way before Sombra’s shadow bolts could hurt them.

“GUYS!” Kodo yelped, shutting off his bolts… and promptly getting Day Breaker's hoof in his face. He skidded across the ground, nursing a bloody nose, as Day Breaker smirked down at him.

Are we done playing children’s games, Sombra?”

"Indeed we are," Sombra growled, lifting Kodo high into the air.

Sombra, this better work,” Kodo warned.

This is everything I’ve got,” Sombra admitted. “It has to work.” Out loud, he roared at Day Breaker. “TAKE THIS, YOU SUN-BUTTED WITCH!” And fired the biggest shadow bolt of them all…

Only for Celestia to disintegrate it with a beam of light that barely missed Kodo’s nose. Kodo and Sombra stared up at the beam as it rapidly vanished into the sun.

Kodo croaked in horror, before Day Breaker rose up into his field of vision.

Just like you told you, Sombra,” she pointed out, indicating the tears in Kodo’s eyes. “Like a she-dog.”

“That’s not me!” Sombra insisted, even as his voice wavered. “That… it’s Kodo! He’s…”

"Oh, yeah, back the train over me, while you’re at it,” Kodo snapped.

Day Breaker hummed. “Odd. I almost feel bad. Usually, I just blow up whatever’s in my way. But with you, I swear Celestia’s gotten kind of attached. It’s almost like putting down the Royal Consort when he’s gotten too old.”

Kodo blinked. “That’s a thing?” he whimpered.

A sad thing, admittedly,” Day Breaker noted. “But before we part ways, Sombra, let me tell you… a tail!”

Her tail was made of fire, but it still hit like a club, throwing Kodo across the wasteland and sending him careening off a rock and into a lake.

The end,” Day Breaker noted cheekily.

“Son!” Luke yelped, before a pack link from Celine held him back.

“Dad, we can’t!” she insisted.

“But Kodo…” Luke whimpered.

The younger diamond dog didn’t appear from the lake. Not until Day Breaker descended after him. The water evaporated mere feet from her, eventually revealing Kodo sprawled out on the lake bed.

Sombra,” Kodo thought as Celestia’s aura lifted him up. “Please tell me you got another trick up your sleeve.”

"Uh… do you mind Caritatin Hive being banished with us for 500 years?” Sombra offered.

Kodo growled, before Day Breaker’s voice cut him off.

Oh, Sombra~,” she teased.

“I’m in here too, you know…” Kodo tried to say, only to scream as Day Breaker’s hoof sunk into his gut.

“Why are you hitting yourself?” Day Breaker asked, before kicking him with her back leg. “Stop hitting yourself!”

“I…” Kodo said, only to scream as she hit him right in the spine. “AUGH; YOU’RE THE ONE HITTING ME, YOU WITCH!”

Oh, on the contrary, my furry friend,” Day Breaker replied. “You brought this upon yourself!”

With another devastating kick, Day Breaker launched Kodo out of the lake, and sent him tumbling right into Luke’s paws.

“Dad?” Celine whimpered, as the elder diamond dog stepped over his son, and marched on the advancing alicorn.

“F-Father?” Kodo mumbled.

“No,” Luke growled. “I’m not standing by anymore.” He glared Day Breaker down. “I stood by while Shiva was taken by these monsters. I stood by while Sombra took my son’s mind. I’ve stood by long enough.” His march turned into a run. “For once, I’m gonna…”

Day Breaker’s horn flashed. And with a blinding beam of light, Shiva’s mate was turned to ashes. Not even his armor survived.

Kodo and Celine stared, unable to comprehend, as their father’s ashes fluttered to the ground. Several diamond dogs howled in horror, while even others backed up in alarm.

“Dad…?” Kodo whimpered.

“Daddy?!” Celine started to cry, as Skippy and Shining pulled her away.

Anyone else?” Day Breaker asked coyly, grinning at the changelings and diamond dogs specifically. “No? Just going to sit there cowering like the mutts you are?

"RAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!” Kodo roared, his pack link flaring out and linking with the diamond dogs, changelings, and even the ponies. He blasted forward, both armies collapsing as he pulled every ounce of power he could get...

Only for Day Breaker to bat him right through the ruined outer shell of Caritatin Hive.

No one dared stop her as she floated over to Kodo’s broken form, and enclosed her aura around him again. Kodo was barely able to open one eye to glare at her.

It seems our game is over, Sombra.” Her eyes glowed maliciously. “But before I send you running home to Daddy…” She turned to the crowd of diamond dogs. “How about I give you some company on the way down to Tartarus?”

“NO!” Kodo stammered, trying to flail his broken body. “Don’t hurt them. I’m the one you want to hurt! It was all me!”

Day Breaker’s grin was worse than any villain Kodo had seen. “I know.”

Her aura brightened. Several of the diamond dogs tried to run, only to pause as a flash of white raced towards them. And Kodo and Sombra were only able to look on helplessly as Day Breaker fired a death beam for their pack.

But suddenly, the flash of white jumped into the beam. Day Breaker grimaced as white tendrils of light wound around her beam and entangled her horn.

Her beam condensed, turning into a pack link. And as pack links moved down to the diamond dogs, they gasped… and cheered in realization.

“M-Mom?” Kodo whimpered as the light stabilized and Shiva came into view. Her fur glowing brighter than it had ever glowed before. Her dark eyes narrowed at Day Breaker in pure anger.

I have no idea what’s going on,”Shiva admitted. “But I do know that you don’t threaten my children and you do not attack my pack.”

No?” Day Breaker growled back. “'You' should have thought of that before you stole what was mine!”

Lashing her hooves out, Day Breaker sent out pack links of her own. They caught the very dogs Shiva had just linked to. Shiva’s tail tucked. Her determined look shot through with horror.

How…?” she stammered.

I lack Celestia’s compassion and mercy,” Day Breaker boasted. “But I have more than my fair share of her memories. Including everything her faithful student sent me on your pack links.”

Shiva’s ears flattened. “Oh, son of a…” Shiva mumbled.

But before she could think of a good curse to explain her situation, Day breaker gave a yank upward. Shiva was pulled forward, struggling to reign her links in, even as they began to glow golden, and strange pulsing tumors began to run – from Shiva, to the dogs, to Day Breaker and back to Shiva.

“And also, the fact that all that magic you’re using?” Day Breaker noted. “All of it is stolen from its rightful owners. They might be willing to let you take it, but I’M NOT!”

The links turned red hot. And as the magic shot through Shiva and her dogs, they all began to wail in agony. Shiva’s arms began to burn, her fur turning ashy black as the magic seared into her skin.

“STOP IT!” Kodo wailed, trying to move his broken body. “SOMBRA, DO SOMETHING!”

Briefly, shadows churned around the aura holding them, but failed to break through the magic. At the same time, Shiva tried to cut the links, only resulting in a massive explosion. Kodo watched with horror as his mother careened out of the explosion, her beautiful fur marred and blackened by ash and soot. She hit the ground, just barely managing to roll back to her paws. Even as she snarled at Day Breaker in defiance, her legs still trembled and struggled to hold her up.

The dogs, meanwhile, whimpered and cowered, several of them burned by the power exchange as well. However, as Day Breaker glided down towards Shiva’s trembling form… Celine jumped to Shiva’s side.

“Please, Princess Celestia,” she whimpered. “Don’t do this!”

Day Breaker merely cackled, lighting her horn up. Kodo squirmed in her grip, while Shiva and Celine pack linked. But even then, it didn’t look like they stood much of a chance against the insane alicorn.

“No…” Kodo began to sob. “Please…!”

But just before Day Breaker could disintegrate Shiva and Celine like she had done to Luke… Shining Armor joined their pack link, and stood before Day Breaker in defiance.

“Princess Celestia,” he said. “Enough! Let it end!”

Day Breaker snarled down at the prince. “You would stand against your Queen?” She demanded.

“I stand against cruel and unjust punishment,” Shining insisted, indicating Celine. “She’s but a child. A filly and her mother looking for peace.”

Shiva and Celine smiled thankfully at Shining, and he spared them a small nod of support.

Who needs peace?” Day Breaker demanded. “I can have it all! All I need to do is destroy everyone who stands in my way!”

Princess Scorpia joined Shining Armor. “Then you’re going to have to fight an awful lot of creatures,” she replied, before Orenta, and Skippy, and Dagda, and all the changelings and ponies and diamond dogs that could stand formed ranks against her.

Day Breaker glared down at them, unaware of Kodo pressing his claw to her force field and creating a link to that as well.

Finally, Day Breaker huffed.

I can live with that,” she replied, igniting her horn, and preparing to blast the entire group.

However, Shiva was ready. A collective beam of magic – both from changelings, unicorns and diamond dogs alike – clashed against Day Breaker’s beam.

Yet… as they struggled against the angry alicorn’s magic, Day Breaker’s beam slowly pressed down on the group. Flattening them to the ground as the beam threatened to destroy them.

But even as Shiva valiantly tried to keep her pack alive… a second spell hit the beams, producing an explosion that threw Day Breaker into the air.

The force field holding Kodo popped. But as he plummeted, he lifted his broken arm.

"No, boy!" Sombra insisted. "You've done enough! Just..."

But Kodo was undeterred. And a pack link shot out, wrapping around Day Breaker’s hoof. Kodo yelped as his broken body bounced in the air, but Day Breaker didn’t have time to growl at him or try to jar the tendril loose.

Her eyes had turned to the one who had fired the spell: Princess Twilight Sparkle. Her eyes narrowed in rage, and the Elements of Harmony flickering behind her.

“The Princess Celestia I knew would NEVER be able to live with the deaths of her own kind on her head,” Twilight growled. “Pony, changeling, or diamond dog; you always told me that all life is valuable, and that friendship and love can solve any problem!”

Sparkle…!” Day Breaker snarled.

“You taught me a lot, Princess,” Twilight admitted, her brow furrowing in conflict. “But now... it looks like it’s time for you to re-learn a lesson!”

Day Breaker tried to fire her spell, but Kodo yanked himself up, and her magic flickered as he clambered onto her. His bones creaked and cracked as he moved, and it seemed that he was only held together through sheer force of will. But it was enough for him to clamber onto Day Breaker's surprised back and lock his claws around her horn.

NO!” Day Breaker bellowed. “UNHAND ME!”

“HURRY!” Kodo screamed. “I-I CAN’T HOLD ON!”

"GIVE UP, BOY!" Sombra bellowed. "I CAN'T BE TOUCHED BY THE ELEMENTS!" He desperately turned to Shiva. "Shiva, help your child! Help your son!"

Shiva obeyed on sheer instinct. Her pack link spiraled up, ready to seize Kodo, when...

“NO, MOTHER!” Celine yelped, snatching her mother’s arm down. Shiva whirled on Celine, her instincts fighting each other, before...

“SHE’S RIGHT!” Kodo agreed.

As the Elements of Harmony began to fire, Shiva and Kodo locked eyes. And though they weren’t linked, Shiva could see what her son wanted to say to her.

It’s okay. You don't need to help me this time. I can handle this.”

The incident that started this whole mess came back to Shiva: her choice to try and protect her son against something that he didn’t need protection from. Giving Sombra the power to cause all this heartache and loss.

With the memory and his unspoken words soothing the motherly instincts inside her, Shiva let her pack link dissipate into sparkles.

And Day Breaker and Sombra let out twin roars of outrage, that quickly cracked into fearful screams as the Elements of Harmony spun them away into a vortex of rainbow light.

Chapter 16: Resolutions

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As the flash of the Element’s beam faded away, Twilight and Shiva were the first ones to inch towards the crater where Day Breaker and Kodo had vanished into.

In the crater, surrounded by chunks of both obsidian and shards of golden armor, lay Celestia and Kodo. Similar to the day when her sister was freed from her own demons, Celestia was smaller. Weaker. Her mane was now a soft pink, and her coat a more innocent white.

Kodo briefly lay atop her, before he slid off and collapsed to the ground.

“Kodo!” Shiva yelped, practically teleporting to his side. Celestia tried to tend to him, only for Shiva to throw her out of the way. “My son.”

“Brother,” Celine whimpered, skidding to his side.

Celestia wisely backed up as Twilight and Luna pulled her away from the dogs. They couldn’t help but whimper at the poor dog’s state. The Elements had done nothing to heal the damage he had taken from Day Breaker. His fur was ashen and scorched, burned down in several places to reveal charred skin. His teeth were broken, and one of his eyes didn’t open. But when he gazed up into his mother’s eyes with his remaining eye, the light of Sombra shined in them no more.

“Mother…” he whispered in utter relief.

“I’m here, Kodo,” she promised him, pulling him close. “I’ll never leave you again.”

Her pack link twined around them, as if to enforce that promise. Twilight glanced at Luna and Celestia before cautiously stepping forward.

“Um… Shiva?” Twilight whispered. “I… really hate to do this… but…”

Shiva merely leaned over her son, as a pack link extended to Twilight. She took it… and gasped as she felt herself dive into Kodo’s mind. Sure enough, Sombra was gone. The inky darkness that had surrounded them the last time she had linked to Kodo was replaced with a brilliant white.

Nodding, Twilight released the pack link, and gave the dogs their space.

“Is it true?” Luna asked.

“Yes,” Twilight said. “Sombra is gone.”

And yet… no cheers greeted her. No howls of victory or cries of relief. And she knew why. Everyone’s eyes couldn’t help but turn back to Equestria. To the destruction that had been wrought.

“So…” Pinkie mumbled, glancing back. “Who’s going to clean all that up?”

The diamond dogs winced as every eye slowly turned to them. One of them bristled.

“W-Well, the son of our Alpha told us to do it!” he protested. “A-And the alicorn wiped out our pack mates!” He looked hopefully to Shiva. “The alicorn killed Luke.”

Shiva turned, her ears flaring in horror. Desperately, she tried to send out a pack link… but the one she wanted to link with couldn’t.

“Luke?” she whispered. “Luke!”

Celestia looked down with a pained look of regret, but Rainbow Dash stomped forward.

“W-Well, you guys gassed Canterlot!” she protested back. “You killed ponies, and enslaved dozens more!” She turned to Kodo. “Princess Celestia said you promised you wouldn’t hurt ponies. Was that before or after you sold us to the wild dog clans!”

Shiva blinked, emotions fighting for dominance on her face.

“Kodo,” she whispered, turning to him with disbelief. “Is this true?”

Kodo could only bow his head in regret. “I… listened to Sombra,” he admitted. “I just wanted you back.”

Shiva stepped back from him. “And you thought I would approve of you enslaving our allies?” Shiva demanded. “Gassing them? I…” a fresh thought brought utter horror to her face. “Luke is dead because of YOU?!”

Kodo winced, and not just from his injuries. Celine, however, stepped between them.

“No, Mom, please,” she whimpered. “He was possessed by King Sombra.”

“Exactly!” another dog noted. “We didn’t know there was some sort of pony spirit in him. We were only trying to get you back. He said he knew how!”

But Shiva was shaking her head. Pain and betrayal seemed to override her entire being, and it had nothing to do with what Day Breaker had done. As she gazed up at the remnants of her pack, her eyes shined with disappointment and shame.

“I told you what ponies were capable of,” she whispered, her voice cracking with emotion. “I warned you that they were not the weaklings you thought they were.” She looked to more than a few that still carried scars as she did. “Some of you knew that first hand! And the minute I am taken, you decide to just ignore everything I’ve taught you?”

The diamond dogs whimpered, and more than a few started to glare at Kodo. But with the young diamond dog beat up the way he was, their glares quickly faltered.

“Shiva…” Celestia whimpered. “The fault… isn’t with them. I…"

“Do not. Speak,” Shiva snapped at the weakened alicorn, her fur pulsating like she was going to turn into her own version of Day Breaker.

Celestia winced and hid behind Luna and Twilight. But when Shiva looked up, it was to her pack.

“You are going to repair the damage done to Equestria,” she growled. “You will pass through every town from here to Canterlot, and make it look better than when you attacked it. Then, we are leaving and never coming back.”

Twilight winced. “B-But Shiva…”

“This isn’t…” another diamond dog tried to protest.

However, they faltered as Shiva glared at them. Her eyes were like pits. Filled with nothing but pain, disappointment, shame... and rage. Celestia shivered behind Luna, not daring to show her face to the angry wolf.

With everyone terrified of what Shiva might do if pushed, Twilight was unable to do anything but stand aside, as Shiva led the remnants of her pack back towards Equestria. Shining and his own forces cautiously followed after them, weapons at the ready. But with another pulse from Shiva’s pack link, the diamond dogs dropped their weapons, and slunk along like beaten dogs.

The war was over. Sombra was beaten. Shiva was returned, and rapidly bringing things back to normal.

So why did no pony – not even Pinkie Pie - feel like celebrating?


Several weeks later, there was cause for celebration. Equestria had been repaired, and Shiva stuck to her word. The Diamond Dogs left Equestria shimmering and studded with gems. They left the Crystal Empire. And all routes to Outer Haven were closed off. If any wild diamond dogs or Storm Creatures or other forces had wanted to cause trouble, Shiva had 'convinced' them not to.

And as the Crystal Empire welcomed both Flurry Heart and the changelings of Caritatin Hive, Vespin Hive and even the new Thorax Hive - seen as heroes for defending Ponyville - into their fold, the roads once again were paved with laughter and celebration.

Twilight herself couldn’t help but grin as Flurry Heart and her changelings were bathed in light, and the Crystal Heart once again remade them into sparkling crystal versions of themselves. And yet… she couldn’t help but glance back for the one who was missing out on all of this.

“Still no word from Shiva?” Celestia asked the freed Cadence.

She shook her head. “Nothing,” she admitted. “Outer Haven was built underground. But all tunnels that could’ve given us access are cut off. It’s like Shiva and her dogs have vanished off Equestria once more.”

Shining couldn’t help but lower his head. “Maybe it’s for the best,” he noted. “After everything that happened between ponies and diamond dogs…” He noticed the hurt look Celestia gave him. “I-I don’t mean to insult her, Princess, it’s just…” He nuzzled next to his wife. “Her son took over the Crystal Empire. Hurt my wife… tried to hurt my daughter. And… after what happened to her mate…”

“We are not innocent in this conflict, Shining Armor,” Celestia reminded him before looking down. “Me least of all.” She gazed down at her hooves. Twilight couldn’t help but notice that her mane remained pink and un-ethereal; like she was still de-powered. “I took her mate from her. I burned one of my own subjects..." She shook her head. "Poor Tempest Shadow... no sentence we can pass can compare to what Day Breaker did to her. It could be months before the mare can walk again."

"Celestia..." Twilight protested, but Celestia was unconsolable.

"I let myself become..." Celestia shivered at the memory. "Something I vowed I would never let myself become.” She gazed at Luna. “I think I understand you better than I ever did before, Luna.”

Luna looked away. “Tia…” she mumbled.

“No,” Celestia whispered, her voice threatening to crack with emotion. “I…”

She glanced around, and inched the princesses away from any eavesdropping ears. As they secreted themselves away, Twilight’s ears began to flatten as she saw who Celestia was behind her queenly mask.

“I must admit,” Celestia confessed. “It’s times like this where I realize just how unfit I am for the throne.” She gave Luna a look of a mourning. “I blamed you for driving Shiva away… yet now, I wouldn’t blame Shiva if she wanted me dead herself.” She gave a sad smile to Twilight. “Twilight, you got closer to her than either Luna or I could hope to achieve. And it’s for that reason that…”

“Are you sure that your actions have driven her away for good?” another voice asked.

The group of princesses turned to the only female that wasn’t an alicorn. Princess Scorpia grinned knowingly at them.

“My changelings have noticed some strange sightings in Equestria,” Scorpia noted. “Tales of a canine-like beast. That appears as if from nowhere, and stops monsters from attacking ponies.”

Twilight turned, her gaze hopeful. “Shiva?” she whispered.

Scorpia’s grin faded. “Hm… possible,” she noted. “Though they say the canine’s fur is much darker than hers.”

Celestia looked up. “Kodo,” she whispered.

“He seeks to right his wrongs,” Luna guessed. “By protecting those that he oppressed.” She nodded. “But does it do it on the orders of his mother, or his own regret?”

Scorpia shrugged. “Like I said,” she said. “It’s just stories. But I wouldn’t say that Shiva is entirely gone.” She gazed out to the Frozen North. “She just needs time.”

Celestia shook her head. “No amount of time can heal what I’ve done to her,” she insisted. “If any pony is going to have a chance of winning her friendship…” she turned to Twilight. “It is you.” She raised a hoof before Twilight could protest. “But don’t think I’m asking you to see her now. As Princess Scorpia said… give her time. Let her heal.”

Twilight followed her gaze. “Well,” Twilight said. “Whenever she’s ready to come back… I’ll be waiting for her.” Her eyes narrowed in determination. “I promised her that the world she made – the world where Equestria was truly united – wouldn’t be more than just a dream. But I can’t do it alone.” She pawed at the ground. “Please, Shiva… whenever you’re ready… we were so close. I could really use your help.”

Celestia smiled softly. “And that, Twilight Sparkle,” she whispered, so softly that only Luna could hear. “Is why you will be a better ruler than I ever could be.”


Unfortunately, what the ponies didn’t realize was that at that very moment, a Storm King Ship hung over the mountains that held Outer Haven.

Deep in the bowels of the mountain, Shiva sat, hunched on a throne of sapphires, her king’s throne empty and cold, as the Storm King and two of his creatures stood before her.

“So, here’s my deal,” the Storm King said. “I’ve been trying to re-brand here. ‘The Storm King,’ is tracking, well, as ‘intensely intimidating,’ but you know what? I need to back it up. You know what I need to back it up with?”

“I’m sure you’ll tell me,” Shiva grumbled, her claws teasing along her daughter’s head as Celine glared at the furry beast before them.

“A storm!” the King insisted. “That would be great! This pony with some broken horn promised me magic that could control the elements, but all she gave me was some branch!” he indicated the staff he was carrying. “A twig! I mean, was she serious?!”

“I’m sure she was,” Shiva grumbled, her eyes half lidded.

“Hey-hey,” he snapped. “Get with the program, snowball! I’m not even to the worst part!"

Celine snarled, but Shiva soothed her with a rub behind the ears. “Then how about you get to the worst part,” Shiva said. “Because I can, literally, think of a million things I’d rather be doing right now than listen to you talk.”

The Storm King chuckled. “Like licking Celestia’s horse shoes?” he asked.

Shiva tensed. She glared at him with dark eyes.

“Yeah, don’t think I don’t know what she did,” he said. “She burned my pawn; burned my army. Burned your dogs! Then forced them to clean up her entire country! And then she has the gall to try and act like a cute little pony with the friendship and the flowers and BLEH!” He mimed getting sick. “Can’t even keep up the whole ‘big bad powerful magic guy!’ What a poser, right?”

Shiva lifted herself off her throne. “What do you want?” she growled.

The Storm King grinned. “I want Celestia!” he growled. “I want the magic of the alicorns.” He glanced up and down Shiva body. “And I could use a Queen,” he added with a purr.

Shiva’s eyes narrowed, while Celine’s snarl redoubled. The Storm King, undeterred, stepped forward.

“Let’s team up,” he offered. “Celestia hurt us both. And we’re both attractive, powerful, white-furred rulers.” He reached out for her claws, his eyes already trailing to her empty throne. “You’d find me to be quite the powerful… ‘friend.’”

Shiva hummed in intrigue. Celine moved to tug at her mother’s robes, but Shiva waved her off, her other claw reaching up to entwine with the Storm King’s.

“And you honestly think we stand a chance against Equestria?” she asked.

“Mother!” Celine whispered, horrified at the genuine curiosity in Shiva’s voice.

“Don’t be scared, kid,” the Storm King said, though he kept his eyes on Shiva. “Together,” he promised. “The entire world will bow to my…” he checked himself. “Er, ‘our’ rule.”

Shiva chuckled, turning away from him and to her daughter. She lifted Celine’s head, like she was about to speak to her. Yet her eyes darted to the Storm King, before she grinned coyly at Celine.

“You really are a foal,” she noted, before barking.

The Storm King’s grin barely got to fade before two meaty paws punched out of the ground and seized him by the legs, pulling him into the dirt. Briefly, he snatched and clawed at the ground, struggling to avoid getting yanked down as Shiva turned back to him. He looked to his guards, but they had already vanished into the earth. Two holes were all that was left of them. He reached for his staff, but Shiva snapped it in half with a hard stomp.

“This isn’t funny!” the Storm King warned. “If this is your idea of a joke, I should warn you, I am very unamused right now!”

“Interesting,” Shiva replied, crouching to his level. Her voice dropped to an angry growl. “I was equally unamused when you joked about taking the place of my husband.”

“B-But your husband’s dead!” the Storm King insisted. “And Celestia killed him!”

“Wrong,” Shiva replied. “Day Breaker killed him. And if you really want to tempt Celestia to let that monster loose on us again… then you clearly have a death wish.” She lifted her claws towards his face. “And if you’re really willing to let your subjects die with you, then you are unfit to rule them!”

Wait,” the Storm King insisted as her pack link arced towards his eyes. “WAIT!”

But though his armor was magic resistant, he neglected to bring a face guard. And Shiva’s pack link stabbed into his face, withdrawing any energy he had before shoving him down into the depths. Shiva swept aside the holes where he and his guard had once stood, and stared at the pulsating ball of ice blue energy with a smile that would’ve made Tirek shiver in his fur.

A smile that faded as the door opened, and a familiar yet heavily scarred diamond dog with an eyepatch limped in. The eyepatch was studded with a sapphire, making his remaining look slightly lopsided.

“My Alpha,” Kodo said, kneeling before her.

Shiva didn’t turn to him, instead turning to her daughter and giving her the Storm King’s energy.

“Speak,” Shiva growled.

“Baltimare is safe,” Kodo said. “Some scumbag stallion tried to break into a mare’s house. He changed his mind once I got my claws on him.”

Shiva turned, her eyes darkening, and he lowered his stance even more.

“I-I didn’t harm him,” he added. “Just scared him. Hopefully enough that he won’t go after her again.”

Shiva nodded. “Good,” she said, glancing down at the holes. “My Betas will be arriving soon to discuss what to do with this Storm King.”

“You should kill him,” Kodo growled. “After the way he spoke to you…”

But Shiva barely glanced at her son. “Return to the catacombs beneath Equestria, before they see you again. You still have much to do before the diamond dogs or the ponies will stand to see your face again.”

Kodo gave Celine a nervous look, while she could only look at him with pity. “Are you sure you’ll be okay?” Kodo asked. “I don’t like the way they look at you. Now that Dad…”

“Kodo,” Shiva barked. “Now.”

Realizing he had gone too far, Kodo bowed his head, and retreated. Celine gave him a piteous gaze before turning back to her mother as she sat on her throne.

“I don’t like the way they look at you either,” Celine noted. “It’s like the Storm King… only I think they’re not kidding.”

Shiva hummed. “Well, there’s plenty more that hate me for making them clean up Kodo’s mess,” she noted, wringing her claws. “At least the ones who think they have a chance with me are there to keep them in line.”

“But…” Celine whispered. “You wouldn’t actually…?”

Celine stopped the second her mother gazed at her. In her eyes, Celine saw Shiva’s pain. The grief that she couldn’t show to anyone else. Combined with a firm, if inaudible, answer that no one would ever replace Celine’s father.

The mere show of grief was almost too much. Shiva turned away, struggling to steady her trembling arms. Celine gazed at her worriedly.

“Mother?” she asked.

Shiva didn’t respond. Her head rested against her fists, and Celine whimpered as she saw Shiva trying to reign in her emotions. And yet… wanting so desperately to cry and mourn the loss of her first love. To curse Celestia and Day Breaker alike, yet also knowing that it was pointless to challenge either of them.

Celine rested her own claw on Shiva’s shoulder, breaking her from her thoughts.

“I miss him too,” she whispered. She looked back towards the end of the throne room. “I miss Kodo… I miss Skippy.” She looked down. “I miss Cadence.”

Shiva’s grief faded. She lowered her arms with a sigh.

“We were lucky Cadence didn’t have us all sent to Tartarus,” she noted wearily. “That the other alicorns let us leave with our lives.” She glared down at the ground. “We can’t allow this Storm King to make the same mistakes Kodo did.”

Celine’s ears wagged back and forth. “Do you think that - someday - we could try and go back? To Equestria, I mean.”

Shiva looked up as her betas entered. As Kodo and Celine feared, several gazed upon Shiva with lust in their eyes. Others towards the empty throne that had once been Luke’s. They scurried forward, eager to see if they could earn her favor.

And yet… one moved slower than the others. And Shiva grinned as she noticed him smile reassuringly at her, as his eyes flash with the green flames of a familiar changeling. She rose, her pack link twining around Celine as she rose to address her subjects.

“Maybe someday, my love,” Shiva whispered through the link. “Maybe someday.”

But it would not be today. For as Shiva moved forward and addressed her subjects, the Storm King’s ship was pulled under the snow. So that by the time any changelings were able to bring pony spies, all they would find was a barren wasteland.

Apparently devoid of life.