Magic bolts flew to and fro across the Royal Gardens. Green and white blasts clashed over the once beautiful flowers, harvested from the farthest corners of the lands of Equestria and tended with the utmost care by the carefully chosen gardeners at the top of their classes in biology at the most prestigious schools.
The platte of ambience that the once lush area had now been trampled and scorched by battle.
"Stand firm, men!" The Royal Guards, the finest warriors in all of Equestria, were showing the might and skills they have honed over years for the sake of peace. Since the day that Celestia and Luna took the throne, the Order has stood with them. Even against the overwhelming force of the invading changelings, Royal Guardsmen stood proudly and fought the enemy's numbers with superior skill.
Golden armoured bodies clashed against carapace covered insectoids. Forelegs met one another as many of the earth and pegasi guards engaged in hoof-to-hoof combat with the changeling forces.
The unicorn sergeant fired off three blasts of magic, each hitting their mark of changelings that were locked into battle with guardsmen. "Falling like flies, eh boys?" Sergeant Rowdy Steel said chuckling as another changeling bites the dust as his hoof clotheslines the approaching aggressor. "They certainly didn't count on the legendary squad of the Five-O-Furs, the elite frontline defense of Canterlot Castle."
A uniformed affirmative echoed from the serving stallions and mares, in contrast of the sergeant's casual remark. Each and every changeling that dared to land in the courtyard was thoroughly beaten, quickly and efficiently. The piles of unconscious, and slightly cracked, invaders were spread throughout the garden.
"Looks like their invasion plan is just like their legs…" Sergeant Rowdy started, as he levitates the latest of the defeated enemies to the top of the pile like a child discarding old toys. "Full of holes."
One of the pegasi landed in front of the sergeant. She raised her hoof in salute and stood to attention, disregarding the bruises on her body and dents across her once immaculate armour. "That is last of them in the vicinity, sir."
"Good work Private. All right boys and girls let-" A whistling sound flying through the air made Rowdy stop mid-sentence as his eyes darted to the sky to see a half a dozen changelings barreling down to the courtyard, all six of them enshrouded with a green slime-like aura.
"Cancel that, looks like we have a Late-Lacys trying to crash the after-party. Men! Stand at the ready!"
All six hit the ground, the splats of their magic as they added more shallow holes to the garden. The impacts raised a thick cloud of dirt and green mist. Shadows moved away from the landing sites, spreading through the mist quickly surprising the Sergeant. "These ones actually seem like they can fight. Good, was actually starting to break a sweat from beating on all their rift-raft," he thought to himself. Not worried for his soldiers, Brawn Steel knew his men could handle themselves; they have all been under his command since they graduated from Rainbow Falls Boot Camp years ago.
Even without seeing his squad, Sergeant Rowdy knew that his men were listening. "Once we deal with them, our job is to secure the Hall of Elements for the sake of Bearers! With our strength and the power of the Elements, we will-" Rowdy barely had time to duck as a chitin covered hoof shot out of the mist, aiming for his head. The Sergeant rolled to the side as he scanned the low hanging cloud for the next attack.
Rowdy gives the surrounding mist a cheeky grin. "Hah! You'll have to do better than that to hit Sergeant Rowdy of the Five-0-Furs. Bring it on ya bugger!"
The sound of flesh and steel hitting changeling exoskeleton could be barely heard over the grunts of exertion and pain, "Those poor changelings, should a known better than mess with us." He thought to himself.
The sound of buzzing wings filled the air, dissipating the obscuring cloud of dust and magic. Shielding his eyes with his foreleg, Rowdy waited until the blasted wind subsided before taking in the expected sight of his men victorious yet again.
He lowered his foreleg and opened his mouth to congratulate them, but his mouth was left agape at what lied before him. Bodies were on the ground, all of them battered and broken. The warriors have been covered in bruises and cuts from the vicious pummeling at the hooves of the superior force.
The Five-0-Furs have been utterly decimated.
Dragging his eyes away from his fallen comrades, Rowdy was finally able to see the changeling fighters who did it. Rage filled his heart. Unlike their previous foes that Sergeant Rowdy now sees were nothing more than cannon fodder, the elites of the changeling invasion force. Their armour was much like their own shells; each piece of grey metal had been twisted and morphed to cling to the carapace of each of them. Discomfort forgotten for the sake of intimidation and protection.
Sergeant Rowdy finally found his voice as his eyes met the one changeling that stood away from the others. On his armour that had wrapped around his chest, was an insignia of four -pairs of crossed swords.
"You…As the commander of your men, you will take responsibility for their actions." Rowdy paused lacking the jovial tone before the arrival of the elite wave, his head forced to the ground with his eyes shut. Trying his best to maintain some semblance of control, but failed as his horn glowed white, spreading from its point of focus to cover his entire body in a powerful glow. "So you will face me and bear your punishment." The veins in his head were throbbing, bulging with blood. "This is what you have done to my boys and girls you freak of nature!"
Faster than he has ever been in his life, the unicorn used his magic push himself off the ground, leaving deep imprints where Rowdy once stood and launched himself towards the marked changeling leader. His magic only increased his already formidable strength and he pumped his forelegs out to destroy the first of the changeling opposition.
The air whistled as the surrounding changelings attempted to stop the enraged unicorn from attacking their leader. Wings buzzed their hummingbird like motions seem to be in slow motion compared to the blur of Rowdy.
He was getting closer; none of the other changeling warriors had any hope of stopping him. He may not be able to beat all of the soldiers here, but he will be damned if he doesn't take out the commander in the name of his fallen comrades. Finally within arms reach, Rowdy let out a victorious shout, "FOR EQUESTRIA!"
Rowdy could only gasp in horror at what happened next.
The Sergeant then watched as the changeling commander grab hold of his outstretched hooves and used his barreling momentum and adjusted his trajectory towards the walls of the enclosure, before Rowdy could even think he crashed into the stone walls and was buried under the rubble.
The changeling commander did not even look back as he gave his orders to his soldiers and the slowly rising changelings from the earlier fight. "Rouse the workers and cocoon the Royal Guards. Make sure to dig out that fool as well, his passion for his fellows will be a useful for the hive."
Captain Avis of the Queen's Legion supervised as the injured workers did their duty without complaints. It was their place to obey the solider caste in times of conflict, even if this was the first time in centuries that members of the solider caste were given permission to go so far away from the hive.
When a hive was this desperate for food, even Avis agreed with the Queen with breaking the outdated traditions for survival.
The workers were digging weakly through the rubble of the castle wall to the barely alive stallion, his rage still emanating from his unconscious mind. Avis could taste unfiltered emotions for the first time in his life.
With the emotional famine in the hive, the unicorn was a tempting meal. The solider caste needs its strength. He thought to himself. It would be better to be well-fed and alert, compared to hungry and tired. Letting his curiosity and hunger get the best of him, Avis took a hearty helping of the unicorn's rage.
The sulfuric taste was strange, but at the same time he felt exhilarated at the slightest snippet of emotions. Members of the solider caste, like him and his men, have never been this close to a food source before. The squad of soldiers under his command were scrunching their faces as they tried to comprehend the anger from the stallion, each following their commander's lead and taking a large helping.
Focus. Captain Avis chided himself for his break in discipline, shaking off the anger, biting back his own grimace from the aftertaste.
A loud whoosh could be heard over the combat throughout the city. A flare rising from the bustling shopping centre of Canterlot. It exploded high in the sky with a shrill whistle as bits of magic descended to the ground.
Avis turns to address his troops and the gathered workers, crouching low to prepare to fly. "Corporal Frelon, take command and occupy the Hall of Elements. I will aid the falling front personally."
The Changeling Captain took flight heading to the area known in Canterlot as "Simply Divine Dining Square".
Scanning the ground from the air, Captain Avis saw the invasion progressing according to the Queen's plan. Hundreds of ponies were being rounded up and the harvester and worker castes were already restraining any who resist and sealing them into the cocoons for transport back to the hive.
As he got closer to the site where the flare was launched from however, Avis could see a problem. Dozens of changelings were lying in crumpled messes. Some were embedded into walls; others look like they were covered in pieces of a tea set.
"Must be another squad of Royal Guards who were stationed farther away from the castle." Avis told himself, no normal pony could do so much damage on their own.
The sound of pained chittering coming from one of the cafes below drew Avis's attention as he begins to descent towards the cobbled roads and ravaged restaurant. The writing on the window read in Equestrian, "Fantaisie Schmancy Pantalon". The drapes that were once weaved throughout the fenced patio were now ripped and torn from the ponies that ran away frantically for a place to hide. Shaded tables were overturned with food and drink littered on the ground from the ponies that were in the middle of their meals.
The Captain landed outside the eatery that once catered to the Canterlot elite. Now it was nothing more than a broken husk that will soon be home to hungry cockroaches that have been denied entry for so long.
Gasps of a changeling in pain, the sound wood smashing against carapace led his eyes to the shop as he attempted to see the situation. Approaching the shop cautiously, Avis kept his eyes peeled for any sign of pony resistance.
Suddenly the window on the front of the café was shattered, two bodies flying through the opening in a rain of shards.
A pony had grappled the body of the female changeling and used her like a battering ram to burst through the window and cushion the landing onto the street. When hitting the road the pony released the changeling and rolled away from her foe, putting her back to the ruined shop.
Captain Avis examined with unhidden shock at his castemate's condition. The solider had her carapace broken in several places, with one of her back legs at extremely awkward angle. Her armour was warped and dented beyond repair. Green blood oozed lightly from the cuts from the glass shards from the landing.
Avis was finally able to see the pony clearly as she stood a fair distance away from him. A mare with lightly shaded dark coat with a mane of gunmetal grey. A perfectly maintained white collar and pink bowtie around her neck.
Avis met her eyes that have not left his body since her arrival onto the scene from inside of the shop. They were not wide with fear, nor burning with hatred or undisguised disgust at his presence. Her face was devoid of emotion. The changeling captain could not taste anything emanating from the mare as he let his senses roam.
The void of emotion from her could have almost let her pass as a disguised changeling. Almost.
Captain Avis spoke clearly and cleanly as he could in Equestrian with his two-tone voice. "Surrender."
This was not a compromise, a threat, or even an ultimatum. It was a fact.
The mare did not make a clever retort or scoff at the offer. She simply remained a blank slate as she reared to her hindlegs in a rarely seen combat stance for her country. Her stance made the answer clear to anyling or pony.
A student of Taurian technique? Avis thought with caution, even the majority of the Royal Guards did not show that type of skill in combat. Reaching back in his mind for training years ago as a nymph, he remembered the skills and arts trainers taught him as he morphed the interior of his body. He moved to stand tall on his hindlegs as Avis used his powers to manually shift his focus of balance to his lower back.
If this pony knew the actual ways of minotaur combat, it would explain the amount of defeated changelings in the area. Especially the fellow solider now in a broken pile. This mare is a threat to the Hive, she must be dealt with. Avis's eyes narrowed with his arms shoulder length apart.
Avis ran forward his left arm pulled back as he launches a fist at the mares head.
The grey mare swerves around the fist, her body leaning back slightly as she flows around Avis's arm and she aims to hit him hard with her pointed hooves. Avis uses his right arm to parry the blow. He could feel the force through his carapace, bruising the soft flesh underneath.
Barely registering the pain, Avis uses his right arm to uppercut the grey mare. She pulls back, her mane flying forward with the momentum, sunlight reflecting off the luminous hair. She follows through with the motion using her arms to break her fall as her right leg whips out and hooks the changelings' legs.
Avis collapses onto the paved road, landing on his side as the wind is knocked out of his body. From his position, Avis sees a strange mark on the mare's right flank. The captain memorized the symbol before crawling backwards, dodging the scythe-like leg arching downwards where he was less than a second ago.
Once out of her reach, Avis rises to his hooves once more, as does the mare. She dodges everything he throws at her, all while weaving her way around his body.
Captain Avis starts to feel a flicker of…frustration at the movements of his enemy. "Stop moving." He said under his breath. His horn begins to charge, green energy dancing up and down its curved shape.
The mare said nothing, her face betrayed no emotion, but Avis could taste a small hint of excitement in the air. Is that coming from her?
Avis's horn fired green magic, sealant goo to ensnare the mare. Seeing the ray of slime, the grey mare eyes brightened in realization.
She did something drastic to protect herself from the trap. The bowtie wearing devil rolled forward and took hold of the unconscious changeling who was still on the ground between them and tossed her into the line of fire. The poor female became encased head to tail in the green slime, gluing her limbs to her body as she plopped onto the stone road.
Avis's frustration at his opponent was growing for the changeling captain. He could feel a burning sensation building in his chest. It was strange, but he felt so empowered. Avis could taste something, familiar, yet it was not coming from his foe.
The mare flinched at the look of ire in the eyes of the changeling solider. She shuffled back a few steps, and then leapt to the side to duck for cover behind an upturned table from a flying kick from Avis.
Redirecting himself in mid-flight, Avis headed towards the wooden barrier between him and his target, only for it to suddenly turn right side up, making him collide at an awkward angle against the edge of the table, denting his armour and breaking through his shell and hitting directly to the muscle underneath.
Feeling pain to his soft insides, Avis gasped in agony briefly before jumping over the table and onto the mare.
The two fighters rolled across the patio floor, shards of tea ware and broken wood becoming tangled in their mane and wings. Each struggled for some type of advantage, hooves reaching out of the tumble for anything to aid them.
The heat in Avis's chest was still building; the burning agony spreads from his heart to his limbs, making him feel stronger. Before the mare knew what had happened, they stopped rolling with Avis finally pinning his prey beneath him, pinning her legs with his own. Face to face, the changeling bared his fangs, dripping with saliva onto to her face. The mare barely registered the wet drips from the open mouth, seeing her current predicament as the least of her worries with her eyes locked beyond the changeling's shoulder.
Sensing her prey's lack of fear, Avis turned his gaze to where she had her focus. A pink dome made of pure love, the taste was off-puttingly sweet in the air, was spreading throughout Canterlot from the castle, where he was supposed to be in command and was to secure the area for the Queen. As the shield continues to expand at a terrifying rate, black stars fill the sky, being pushed away by the heartfelt power. Avis could feel a howl building in his throat upon realizing that they were not stars, but changelings being expelled through the sky at high speed.
Instead of being frightened, Avis only felt fire spreading in his body, rooting itself into his very soul. He turns his attention back to the mare raising his arms to deal the finishing blow.
A wave of pulsing love hits him, Avis digs his rear legs into the wooden patio, breaking through the wood and trying his best to grip the broken boards underneath the flooring. His upper body was being pulled to the sky, the dome stretching the very fabric of his being away from Canterlot. "No! Nononononono!" Avis starts to lose his grip as one of his legs comes breaks free of the floor boards.
Avis locked his gaze on the mare. The fire that burned within his heart had spread to his eyes, he could feel them change…they were no longer his own. "You caused this! You drew me away! You made me fail my hive! This isn't over!" He continued to shout and rant, unaware of the words falling out of his mouth.
Blinded by the light of love, Avis's grip on the patio finally slipped and was launched into the sky. Tumbling through the air, his mind was filled with only one thought. He was not thinking of his squad, his caste mates, which he left to secure the most volatile of Equestrian tools. Nor did he think of the Queen he swore fealty to who had been inside Canterlot Castle, the centre of the explosion. Not even the Hive that he sweared to protect and serve.
Avis could only see the mare with the grey mane. The reason he was pulled from his squad. The reason why the invasion failed.
Vinyl was lucky enough to hide in an empty case for one of her stereos. When she heard the bug-like screams sail through the air, she checked if it was finally safe enough by cracking open the case slightly to take look, and then went to search the city for other ponies.
Many were celebrating in the victory over the foreign invaders. Smiling at their joy, but refusing to stop in concern for her friend that left for lunch just before the shield broke. Vinyl made her way to the shopping district of Canterlot.
The creatures had come in force; the entire downtown area had been raided. Maneuvering pasts the crowds, Vinyl was finally found Octavia standing in the middle of road gazing at the sky.
"Oy Tavi?" Vinyl questioned.
"You okay Octavia?" Looking at her body, shards of glass in her mane and numerous cuts and scrapes on her body, patches of her fur smelled of a terrible mix sweet tea and bitter coffee. But in her eyes, Vinyl could see her mind still whirling from the attack.
Hearing no response, she waves her hoof in front of her eyes trying her attention. "Eques to Octavia, are you there?"
Octavia finally snapped herself free of her mind, seeing her friend she spoke apologetically, "Apologies Vinyl, I was just thinking about the creatures."
"Those bug-ponies? They're pretty cool looking, I hear all lot of ponies calling them changelings."
"Really…?" Octavia was still looking off into the sky.
"Yep, apparently they feed off love. Good thing we aren't bumping uglies eh?" Vinyl said with a snicker, trying to get her friend's attention with her special brand of conversation. "I mean imagine feeding of emotions like love and lust. Would that mean that food-play is an appetizer, and an orgy is a freaking buffet?" With no usual rebuttal about her crass language, Vinyl was starting to get real curious about Octavia. "Bit for your thoughts?"
Octavia finally pulled her eyes from the horizon, and gave a deep sigh before turning to her friend. "If they feed on emotions, then like foals, what happens when they eat an emotion that isn't good for them?"
A/N: So another story staring Octavia and Vinyl. Also changelings because they are awesome. And fanfiction goldmine for the community. So I will be attempting to practice fight-scene choreography using this story here, so any advice on that side would be welcome.
Wrote this a month back, and thought may as well post this and work on it when I need a change of pace. Anyway, I can already hear a few people stating how the guard captain was beaten pretty quick, but I did that because, well he had pun, so he didn't really need much more going on for him.
Also Vinyl, I have so many crass jokes planned for you it is almost not funny.