“Rarity! We’re going out now!” Her mother’s voice floated up the stairs. “Please take care of Sweetie Belle! We’ll be back in four hours or so!”
“Yes, mom!” Rarity called back, trotting down the stairs until she stood next to her baby sister.
“Are you sure you can handle it, dear?” her mother asked once more, making it about five times in the last hour.
“I’ll be fine mom! I promise! I can take care of my little sister!” Rarity insisted. “She’s only an infant!”
“We could still call Red Heart, I’m sure she would-”
“It’s okay dear,” her father said. “Rarity can take care of her. She’s a very responsible filly!” he chuckled putting a hoof on Rarity’s head.
Rarity felt her control breaking as her dad playfully ruffled her mane. “D-dad! Not the mane! I- I was really careful to groom it just the way I like it!”
Her dad chuckled but relented. “Since when are you so prissy about your looks?”
“Since she started behaving like a lady!” her mother spoke up. “Really, Field Kick, her behaviour has changed for the best!”
Field Kick chuckled. “I know, I know, I just wish we could watch the games like we did before,”
Rarity felt a slight lump in her throat. “I- I’m sorry daddy, I promise to watch the game with you!”
Field Kick laughed and gave her a big hug. Rarity’s eyes snapped wide open when her tail flashed and turned straight and green. Shooting a wild look at her mother, who was thankfully looking outside, she quickly closed her eyes and with a green flash her tail was back.
“Well dear, our cab is here,” her mother said, then she did a double-take. “Rarity, did you dye your tail? I’m not sure it works, dear!”
Rarity blinked and looked at her tail. It was a very deep purple. “Um- I- I had an accident earlier,” she quickly replied; her smile a rictus of unease.
“And next time make sure you dye it in the team colors!” Field Kick laughed, turning around and putting his forearm around her mother’s shoulders. “Come on, dear, let’s go!”
The moment the door closed, Sweetie Belle violently spat her pacifier and started crying. “Maaaaaaaaaaamaaaaaaa!”
The unexpected wail made Rarity jump into the air, flashing green until she was standing upside down on the ceiling, glaring at Sweetie Belle, who took another look at her and wailed harder. Rarity rolled her eyes and dropped down to the floor, her little wings fluttering briefly into view until she was safely on the ground. With a green flash they were gone.
“Sweetie Belle!” She chided, gingerly picking up her sister from the back of the diaper. She carried the infant unicorn into the play room she had helped her parents set up and put her down next to a little device. It looked vaguely like a merry-go-round, but on a scale that made it possible for Sweetie to use her hooves to hit the movable parts and make it rock back and forth, producing a small melody.
Sweetie Belle giggled and started batting away at the little toy while Rarity watched. Her thoughts went back to the Hive, where she had not had a ‘play room’; her days had been spent practicing with assigned drones on how to shapeshift, or with her sisters tutoring her on the ways of the Hive when her mother did not have time to do so. Which was most of the time.
Rarity sighed. She much preferred life and her parents here. There was so much love that her inexpert shapeshifting was not as taxing as it would have been otherwise. She still felt a pang of guilt at how her new... personality... was a bit more aloof than she had been before she and Pupa had become one being.
She smiled down at Sweetie Belle, whose eyes were focused on her. “What is it, Sweetie Belle?”
Rarity frowned. “What?”
“Maaaaalk!” Sweetie Belle insisted.
“Malk? What’s- oh, silly me!” Rarity chuckled, trotting over to the fridge. She pulled out a bottle of milk and slowly heated it with a spell until it was lukewarm. She presented it to the infant filly, who greedily rolled on her back, holding the bottle to her lips as she sucked the milk out of it.
Rarity shook her head. Her wings materialized once again as she scooped up Sweetie Belle in her forearms and flew them upstairs to her room. She placed Sweetie Belle on her bed and sat down next to her to brood a bit more.
The squelching sounds were a bit distracting, but not by much. It sort of reminded her of the drone chambers where little drones would burst out of their sacks, jelly splattering all over the place... their cute little faces straining as they fought for the very first time to stand up; it was disgusting, by pony standards. She had to remember that.
Rarity stood in front of the mirror and looked at herself. She conjured up the image of the sacks bursting and tried to replace the small smile with a look of disgust. All the time her new sister, barely a week old, kept making sucking and squelching noises until the unmistakable sound of her sucking on air made Rarity return to her side.
Gently, she removed the bottle from Sweetie’s hooves and picked her up, placing Sweetie’s chest against her shoulder as she tapped the infant unicorn on the back with her hoof until she burped.
Rarity giggled, then shook her head and made a face. “Um... eww, Sweetie Belle...” she attempted half-heartedly. She shook her head. It would take a while to pretend to be disgusted at things.
“Will it ever become a second nature?” she wondered aloud, putting her sister down on the bed.
Sweetie Belle cooed at her and cuddled up, closing her eyes and muttering to herself. “Wawitwy”
Rarity smiled and nuzzled her sister, wondering if Cocoon or Chrysalis had ever cuddled up with her like this.
“Probably not,” she snorted, then laid down next to Sweetie Belle. The baby filly instinctively cuddled up to her, enjoying the warmth of her body and the rhythm of her breathing. “But I guess it doesn’t matter,” Rarity whispered, closing her eyes. “I have you to spoil.”
“Rarity has been acting weird lately,” Sweetie Belle said, sulking as she stared at the crayon-drawn map of Ponyville that decorated the wall of the CMC headquarters.
“What do y’all mean? More than usual?” Apple Bloom asked.
“Ha, ha,” Sweetie growled.
“Aw, come on, Sweetie, it’s true that your sister is odd most of the time,” Scootaloo chuckled, bumping Sweetie’s shoulder with her hoof.
“Okay, okay, she is!” Sweetie groaned, rubbing her shoulder. “But it’s weird. She’s acting... different.”
Her two friends stopped and looked at each other.
“Different how?” Apple Bloom asked.
“Well, she’s not... whiny,” Sweetie Belle said slowly, trying to find the words to express her observations. “She’s distracted and, she looks sad and happy at the same time... it’s weird, okay? I don’t know how to explain it. She’s just... not the same.”
“Okay, let’s look at this in an illogical manner...” Scootaloo stated, face serious.
“Y’all mean ‘logical’ manner, right?” Apple Bloom corrected.
“Logical? Is that a word?” Scootaloo blinked. “Funny, I’m always told I’m being illogical, I never thought you could be logical.”
“Anyway,” Apple Bloom sighed. “Sweetie, when did your sister start actin’ all funny?”
Sweetie frowned. “It was just after we received a package from the castle last week,” she said. “Rarity read a letter that was in a weird language and she started crying.” She looked at the others. “I think that’s when she changed... she put the crown on a shelf next to the letter and-”
“Wait, crown?” Scootaloo interrupted. “Why did she get a crown?”
“I don’t know! I don’t even think it’s hers!” Sweetie Belle snapped. “It belongs to somepony called ‘Purity’ and was sent to her by somepony called ‘Chrysy.’”
“Chrysy?” Scootaloo blinked. “Why does that sound familiar?”
“I know, right?” Sweetie moaned planting her face on the table. “I can’t figure it out, and it’s driving me crazy!”
“Chrysy...” Apple Bloom shook her head. “Ah know it does sound familiar, but why?”
They stared at the map in frustration for a few moments.
“Well, we’re not going to figure it out by staying here!” Scootaloo declared. It was then that they heard the bump on the roof. The three fillies turned around to see a green flash just outside their window and a moan.
The three looked at each other before rushing out. Lying on the ground was a cream-coated pegasus just slightly older than them. Her cutie mark was some sort of flower. She shook her head and slowly stood up.
“Hey! Are you okay?” Scootaloo asked, checking her fellow pegasus for signs of injury. “That sounded like a nasty bump!”
“I- I’m okay,” the stranger said, letting her light green mane’s bangs cover most of her face. “I’m really sorry I crashed into your... house. I was just looking at the apple trees and, well, they’re gorgeous! I got so distracted that- um. Sorry.”
Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo glanced at each other, but Apple Bloom took a step forward. “Ah hope you weren’t tryin’ to get your hooves on some of our apples!”
“Oh, no!” the pegasus’ eyes widened. “I really wasn’t! Promise! I just wanted a closer look! They all look so healthy!” She took off and hovered in front of one of the trees, holding one of the leaves in her hoof, without pulling it off the tree. “See how green it is? It’s so healthy! Even with this heat it’s barely shriveling at all! You take very good care of your trees!”
Apple Bloom smiled and puffed her chest. “That’s right! In Sweet Apple Acres we all take good care of all our trees here! We produce the best apples in Equestria! You should try one!”
“Oh, I- I couldn’t impose!” the pegasus shook her head, honey-tinted irises shimmering.
“Pluh-eze!” Apple Bloom drawled. “Go ahead! Ah’m givin’ it to you! No imposition at all!”
“Well, if you say so...” the pegasus took one apple off the tree and bit into it. She swooned. “Oh, by my ancestors... this is...” she stared at the apple before giving it another, ravenous bite. And another. She paused to slowly munch on them and swooned once more.
Scootaloo lipsmacked and gulped down. “Um... A-Apple Bloom... do you think I could also have an apple? I’m really craving one now.”
Sweetie Belle stared at the apple in the stranger’s hooves with envy and nodded once her acquiescence.
Apple Bloom smiled and bucked the tree, dropping a few more apples. “Go right ahead!”
Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle wasted no time in biting at their own apples, adding their own praises to the pegasus’ own.
“So,” Scootaloo spoke up in between bites. “I don’t think I’ve seen you around, are you new to Ponyville?”
“What’s your name?” Apple Bloom asked.
“My name is Thysa,” she provided, taking the last bite of her apple. “And I’m here for–” she cut short as her eyes widened as she stared into space. “Oh, no!”
“What?!” Apple Bloom asked, looking in the same direction as Thysa was and seeing nothing.
“I got too distracted! I must find my aunt!” Thysa exclaimed. “It’s really important!”
She prepared to take off again, but Sweetie Belle stopped her. “Wait! If she lives here in Ponyville we can probably tell you where she is!”
Thysa blinked and settled down. “That makes sense,” she said, looking at the three fillies. Then she saw a flower and bent down to smell it. “Wow... this flower smells so nice!”
“So, what’s her name?” Scootaloo prompted.
“Hmm?” Thysa looked up and blinked. “Oh. Oh! Yes! My auntie. Her name is Purity.”
Rarity stared at the crown and the letter for the upteenth time that day. Then shook her head and turned around, trying to put down the feather and ink to paper. Her new design was... too frilly. It looked nice on paper, but she knew that once the dress was put together, it would be too cumbersome and downright comical to look at. Which was not what she was going for. However, the key of the design was in the details, and as such, taking away certain elements required careful thought.
And careful thought required clarity of mind.
And clarity of mind required her not to be thinking about the damned crown!
Sighing, Rarity put down the feather into the inkwell. And stepped away from her drawing table. “This is ridiculous,” she chided herself. “You know it’s stupid to go. Even if Chrysy said it would be fine- there are too many bad memories there. And who knows what her true intentions are, she might...” she trailed off, looking up at the shelf and the objects on top of it.
“Okay, so she might not try and kill me, but what to do? I cannot simply go there by myself!” she levitated the letter and opened it, glancing in. “She said I could bring somepony else, but who would be my best bet? Twilight? Or maybe Rainbow Dash...”
Rarity started pacing around her study. “Why must things be so difficult? If she hadn’t gone ahead and started her stupid war this would have never happened!” she groaned. “I could have lived my life as Rarity and left the Hive alone. It took me years to stop thinking about them!”
She shook her head and walked up to the mirror. Lowering the shades, she magically lit up a small lamp and released her disguise. A habit that she had outgrown... and then found addictive after revealing herself to her friends and Chrysalis.
She was taller and slimmer, her blue mane with seaweed-green highlights was curled up in her usual style and her cutie mark contrasted wonderfully with her black chitin armor. Her wings buzzed a bit as she relished in letting them flutter a bit.
“I’m really good looking,” she admitted to herself. “Even my horn looks nice and deadly.” Rarity snorted.
She heard the door downstairs open and close and sighed, letting her body be encased in emerald flame, revealing her real form as far as she was concerned. Rarity opened the curtains and headed downstairs. “Welcome to the Carousel Boutique, where everything is- oh, it’s you, Sweetie Belle!”
She cantered up to her sister and nuzzled her. “What brings you here?” she asked, eyeing the pegasus that had just followed Sweetie Belle in. She frowned and stepped between her sister and the pegasus, who was looking around the boutique curiously, ignoring them completely.
“Who are you?” Rarity asked.
Sweetie Belle looked at her sister in confusion. Rarity sounded... angry.
The pegasus blinked and turned to look at them. “Oh, I’m–”
“Never mind that,” Rarity growled. “Why are you here? How dare you use my sister to get to me?”
“R-Rarity?” Sweetie Belle asked, starting to look a bit scared.
“Why...” Thysa looked at Rarity innocently. “I didn’t! I promise! She said she could help me–”
“Don’t lie, changeling!” Rarity growled, her horn lighting up with magic. The door slammed shut and glowed a bit as her magic secured it. “Why are you in Ponyville?”
“I- I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Thysa stammered. “I’m just a pegasus and I’m–”
“Just a pegasus,” Rarity snorted. “Your disguise shimmers when you are caught unawares. Even now I can tell by the blurring that you’re having trouble keeping it up. Who sent you?”
Sweetie Belle stared at Thysa in horror as the pegasus slumped down and green flames erupted around her, revealing a changeling, not unlike Chrysalis, only younger.
“I-” Thysa stammered, eyes getting watery. “I- I’m sorry! Nopony sent me! I just want to talk to my auntie! There’s trouble in the Hive!” she started crying, covering her head and sobbing. She started chittering “I’m sorry! Please don’t hurt me!” over and over again.
“R-Rarity?” Sweetie Belle ventured. “S-she said she was looking for ‘auntie Purity’ and- and I remembered that you seemed to know who that was so I...” she trailed off when she noticed that Rarity was staring at the changeling in horror.
“Wh–” Rarity cleared her throat. “Who are you?” she asked less forcefully, but Thysa didn’t speak up. Rarity looked around, clearly at a loss. She didn’t know what to say or do. Finally she looked at Sweetie Belle. “Sweetie, please go fetch Twilight and... don’t tell anypony about this. Please... not even Apple Bloom and Scootaloo. It’s really important.” She released the lock on the door and motioned for her sister to get going.
“But- but why is she here?” Sweetie asked. “Why do you know who Purity is?” her eyes were also getting watery as she stared at her older sister. “Tell me...” she whispered. “Please? Was that letter from the changelings?”
Rarity closed her eyes, her feelings reeling. “Sweetie, I- please get Twilight,” she slumped down. “I’ll need somepony to watch over her while we talk. I promise to tell you everything, sis.”
Sweetie gulped, nodding once before galloping out of the door.
Sighing, Rarity gently closed the door and spoke in the chittering language of the changelings. “What’s your name, little princess?”
“T-Thysa,” the changeling princess sobbed, apparently not noticing the change in language at all.
“Thysa,” Rarity sighed, patting the changeling’s head gently. “It’s okay. I know about you, you are Chrysalis’ daughter... the one that loves plants.”
Thysa seemed to have calmed down a bit and drew a shuddering breath. She looked up at Rarity and nodded.
Rarity shook her head and stood up, letting the changeling gather herself as she paced.
“Why did you come all the way here, Thysa?” Rarity asked, looking at her niece. “What kind of trouble would make you abandon the Hive?”
“I- I need to talk to auntie Purity, she’s the only one that could understand...” Thysa muttered. “No offense.”
Rarity rolled her eyes and let herself change.
Thysa stared at the queen changeling in front of her. There was no way this could be any other changeling than... “Auntie Purity!”
Just as Thysa launched herself to hug her, Rarity heard a horrified gasp. Her eyes widened as she turned to face the door, which had been pushed ajar. Sweetie Belle stood on the doorway, frozen in place, her eyes wide and tearful, her expression one of horrified confusion.
“S-Sweetie Belle!” Rarity called just as her niece latched on to her.
Shaking her head, Sweetie Belle turned around and galloped away.
Another nagging in the back of my head. I debated actually writing this, but, what the hay. I’m doing it, if only to produce something. I did want to mention though, the name “Purity” actually derived from a comment from “Big Mac.” in ‘The Three Sisters’. ^_^ I liked the idea so I went with it.
Also, this is a small series based on the what-if, therefore earning its own story. I’m dedicating it to all of you who loved ‘The Three Sisters’ and ‘What if: Rarity met Chrysalis’. I’m dedicating this to all of you that loved the (unintentional) series. Many, many thanks to those of you that took the time to create wonderful art out of my simple words.
Again, this is as it was written, almost no editing other than whatever my faithful minion Trevor pointed out at first glance, so mistakes and such are to be expected. If you let me know about them out in the comments I’ll drop back later and fix ‘em.
By Wanderer D
She’s not Rarity! She’s not RARITY! She’s a freaking CHANGELING! Sweetie Belle thought in a panic as she galloped through Ponyville. What am I going to do?! Where is my real sister? Why is this happening now?
Behind her she thought she heard Rarity- no, the changeling’s voice calling her name. Gritting her teeth, she lowered her head and galloped faster. I can’t let her catch me! Who knows what she would do to me? Sweetie’s mind conjured up a myriad possibilities. Will she suck my feelings? Will she erase my memories? Will she turn me into a changeling?! Her mind created an image of her sister standing over her.
“Sweetie Belle, I have sucked all the emotions from you!” Rarity-changeling told her in her imagination. “You are now a changeling queen! You must go and create a Hive! Turn your friends into changeling drones to help you!”
“Nooooooo!” Sweetie Belle wailed. “I don’t wanna rule the changelings! I wanna be a pon- oof!” she stumbled back from the unicorn she had slammed into and finally collapsed after taking a couple of steps back. She shook her head and looked up to see Twilight Sparkle picking herself up. “Twilight!”
“Sweetie Belle?” Twilight shook her head. “What happened? Why did you run into me like that?”
“I’m–” Sweetie was about to apologize when she remembered what had happened. “Twilight!”
Twilight Sparkle blinked. “Wait, no, I’m pretty sure I’m Twilight. Did you hit your head too hard?”
“No! I mean, I know you’re Twilight, but I need your help!” Sweetie Belle looked around wildly. “But we have to hide!”
“Help? You’re not trying to brew another love potion, are you?”
“No! I need- it’s Rarity! She’s not a pony! She’s a changel- mph!”
Twilight kept her hoof in Sweetie’s mouth as she watched other ponies trot by. “Okay Sweetie, it’s clear we need to talk, but let’s go someplace else... this is not something you should talk about in public.”
Sweetie nodded and made a face when Twilight removed her hoof. “I just–”
“In the library, I promise,” Twilight said soothingly as she led the filly towards said tree. “I’m sure you have lots of questions and–”
“Waaait a minute!” Sweetie stopped just as they reached the entrance. “How do you know what I’m talking about?”
Twilight blinked and looked down at the filly. “Okay, tell me what is it? I don’t think there’s anypony else around right now,” she added, looking about.
“Rarity is not a pony! She’s a changeling!” Sweetie Belle whispered fiercely.
“Oh,” Twilight nodded. “That... yeah, I imagine it must be a bit of a shock, but–”
“A bit of a shock?!” Sweetie snapped, prompting Twilight to cast a silencing charm around the library. “She’s been replaced by a changeling!”
“Well, that’s not exactly how it is, you see–”
“Hey Twilight!” Spike called, opening the door to the library. “You have a guest! She said she was looking for her sister and that she probably had come to visit you!” he glanced over his shoulder before he leaned in conspiratorially. “I told her you hadn’t seen anypony today, but she wouldn’t listen!”
Twilight looked up to see a unicorn mare with a black coat. Her mane was an almost pink red, as was the cutie mark in the shape of a hourglass on her flank approaching them. She suddenly had a very bad feeling.
“Who are you?”
“Me?” the mare’s voice was smooth, alluring. “I am called Arachne. I came here to you because mother mentioned something about help from Ponyville and a princess...” she smiled seductively. “And you, dear, are Princess Celestia’s student, aren’t you? Therefore I came to you first, before my sister could reach you.”
“I- your sister?” Twilight stammered, rearing back a little as she felt her cheeks grow warmer. “I’m afraid I don’t understand, I haven’t met anypony new today and–”
Arachne pouted. “Aw, my little sister Thysa hasn’t visited?”
At the mention of the name, Sweetie’s eyes became wide. “Twilight! Thysa’s a changeling! She must be a changeling too!”
“What?!” Twilight was immediately standing between Sweetie and Arachne, her horn glowing with magic, while Spike jumped behind her.
“My, my, what an interesting little filly,” Arachne giggled, pacing in front of the trio. “So you have met Thysa, then? How curious. I was sure she would come to Twilight first...” she grinned, tapping her hooves on the floor. “Thysa can be so silly; she probably got distracted by something stupid like that carrot patch at the edge of town.”
Sweetie said nothing, making herself smaller and trying to hide behind Twilight. “What did you do to my–” once more she found her mouth covered by Twilight’s hoof.
“I suggest you leave, Arachne,” Twilight said firmly. “You are not welcome here.”
“Oh, I will!” Arachne chuckled and her eyes glinted. “But not alone.”
Twilight’s eyes widened as she looked down at a circle of green flames that had formed around her, Spike and Sweetie Belle.”
“What the!?” The baby dragon reacted, jumping back just as the flames went up and enveloped both unicorns. When the flames died, they were gone.
Arachne laughed as she smirked evilly at the dragon. “Let’s see your princess find the Hive now!” she laughed as flames enveloped her body. Soon, she was replaced by a raven, who squawked once before flying out the window.
Thysa flew down, disguised once more as a pegasus. “I can’t see her!” she said, landing next to Rarity who was calling and asking around for Sweetie Belle.
“Oh, Sweetie!” Rarity lamented, looking around desperately. “Why couldn’t you have waited until you talked to Twilight?”
Thysa sighed. “I’m sorry auntie,” she said. “I just really wanted to find you an–”
Rarity shook her head. “No time,” she interrupted. “First we find Sweetie, then we worry about what to do with you, Thysa. I don’t blame you, but- I’m worried.”
Thysa didn’t say anything, simply nodding meekly. It was clear she felt guilty for the situation happening in the first place.
“I can go take another look,” Thysa offered. “Maybe ask the pegasi if they have seen her?”
Rarity was about to nod when she heard her name.
“Rarity!” Spike shouted, running as fast as his short legs could carry him. “Rarity! Come quick!”
“Spike!” Rarity motioned for Thysa to go with her. The pair galloped up to meet Spike halfway. The baby dragon took several deep breaths, all the while staring at Rarity in distress.
“Rarity, something horrible has happened!”
“What is it, Spike?” Rarity asked, trying to remain calm, even if she felt her stomach grow cold. Could this be related to Sweetie Belle?
“It’s Twilight!” Spike said, making her sigh in guilty-feeling gratitude. “And Sweetie Belle!” Spike added. “They were taken away!”
Rarity’s eyes widened as she stared at the little dragon. “W-what?”
“I think he said they were taken,” Thysa supplied helpfully.
“I heard that!” Rarity snapped loudly, making several ponies stare at them in surprise. “Take me there, Spike!”
The trio made their way to the library, where Spike pointed at a seemingly clean spot in the floor. Rarity leaned down and looked at it closely.
“I can’t detect anything... it must have been a similar spell to the one sister used to transport Twilight in Canterlot.” She mused.
“Sister?” Spike asked, frowning.
“Spike,” Rarity spoke up, turning to look at the dragon. “Take a letter. ‘Dear Princess Celestia, my sister and Twilight Sparkle have been captured by changelings, I would like to go retrieve her, with your blessing and hopefully with some help. I would very much like to talk to you in person about this as the situation with the Changeling Queendom might be escalating. Your’s truly, Rarity.”
“Es-ca-la-ting...” Spike muttered as he scribbled down the note in parchment. “Should I send it now?” he asked as soon as he was finished.
Rarity nodded. “Please. And after that, go find Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash, I’ll go get Fluttershy and Applejack.”
Thysa watched curiously as the dragon used his fire to burn the note, which, unlike notes she had burnt (the flames were pretty) actually turned into mist and flew out the window.
“Come on now,” Rarity said, galloping out of the door. “We have to find the others!”
It wasn’t long before Rarity and Thysa returned with Fluttershy and Applejack. Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie were already there, as well as Princesses Celestia and Luna themselves.
Spike had apparently been giving his side of the story the princesses, who looked up as the three last members of the group arrived.
“Rarity,” Princess Celestia spoke up when she saw them. “Spike has told me what happened, who is this ‘Arachne’ he’s talking about?”
Rarity sighed. “Arachne is my niece,” she said after a moment, drawing gasps from her friends and a really confused look from Spike.
Celestia frowned. “You seem to be more informed than I expected.”
“I- after I talked to all of you I couldn’t help myself,” Rarity explained. “You see, your highness, I left Canterlot the day after the wedding, the real one, I mean and I went off to see my sister–”
“You what?!” Rainbow Dash shouted, zooming in front of Rarity. “Why did you do that?! Don’t you know how dangerous that was!?”
“She’s my sister!” Rarity snapped. “I don’t expect you to understand, Rainbow Dash, but family is something you just don’t brush off because of a fight! Regardless of how awful they can be at times!”
“Quite right,” Celestia added, making Rainbow Dash shuffle uncomfortably.
“W-well, then, who is this?!” Rainbow Dash asked, shifting her eyes to Thysa, who meeped and cringed right next to Fluttershy, who meeped and cringed when Rainbow Dash was suddenly in front of them.
“That,” said Rarity, “Is my other niece, Thysa.”
“Now, just how many nieces do y’all have?” Applejack spoke up.
“Four,” Rarity replied. “Arachne, Acari, Phasmi and Thysa. According to Chrysy, my two elder nieces are forces to be reckoned with.”
“Aha! So you are a changeling!” Rainbow Dash said, pointing her hoof at Fluttershy. She blinked then looked from one trembling Fluttershy to the other. “Wait, which one’s which?”
“Really, Rainbow Dash,” Rarity chided her, shaking her head. “Come on dear, calm down. I promise that Rainbow Dash here won’t do anything to you.”
The Fluttershy on the right nodded slowly and stood up.
Rarity sighed. “You can stand up too, Thysa.”
“Oh...” the Fluttershy on the left said, blinking and did as instructed. In a flash of green, she was in her original, changeling form.
“As amusing as this is,” Luna spoke up. “We need to figure out our course of action, I will not stand by again while the changelings threaten our lands and friends!” She paused and looked at Thysa and Rarity. “No offense,”
“None taken,” Rarity assured her.
“Wait!” Spike spoke up. “Wait, wait... so... Rarity, our Rarity is a changeling!?”
Everypony looked at each other with a bit of concern before nodding. How would the news affect the baby dragon?
“Wow,” Spike whispered, stunned. Then he smiled. “Hey! Does that mean you can turn into a dragon?”
Sweetie Belle opened her eyes and quickly scrambled to her hooves. She looked around, taking in the damp feeling in the air and the fact that she had been laying unconscious on the murky floor of a cavern of some sort.
The dark walls were sometimes illuminated by little green globes of... something. And that something seemed to be ooze. “Eww!”
She made a face and stepped away from it. “Where am I?” she finally asked.
“Prison,” said a voice from behind her.
Sweetie quickly turned around to stare at whoever it was she had missed seeing the first time. At first she missed seeing anypony else, but slowly a shadow at the back of the room shifted. Sweetie Belle narrowed her eyes, trying to figure out what it was, and when she did she cried out in surprise and pressed back against the wall. “No! Stay away from me!”
Chrysalis rolled her eyes, laying down on the floor again. “I don’t know what you expect me to do, filly, but whatever it is it’s probably not what I would do.”
Sweetie blinked and went through what had just been said. “Wait... you’re saying you won’t hurt me?”
Chrysalis gave her a half-lidded look full of boredom. “Yes, I really have no interest in you. A fact that my dear daughters seem blissfully unaware.” She smirked. “When Arachne threw you in here her exact words were ‘I brought you dinner’.”
Sweetie Belle gulped. “B-but you’re not gonna eat me, right?”
Chrysalis snorted. “No,” you wouldn’t feed me for long and–” she hesitated.
“And?” Sweetie prompted.
“I’d rather not eat the only company I’ve had since last week,” Chrysalis said after a moment. “Besides, they underestimate you ponies, they don’t expect anyone to come get you and your friend, Twilight Sparkle.” She chuckled. “I know better.”
“Twilight!” Sweetie Belle looked at Chrysalis in horror. “What happened to her? You aren’t force-feeding her all the love in the colony to turn her into the new queen, are you?”
“Force-feeding-” Chrysalis shook her head, bewildered. “What kind of stories have you been listening to, filly? That is absurd!”
Sweetie Belle let out a sigh of relief.
“It would be a more involved process,” Chrysalis elaborated. “We would have to drain her of all fluids first, then we would have to...” she trailed off seeing the look of horror in Sweetie’s eyes. “But... no, uh... she’s not being converted.”
“Where is she?” Sweetie Belle asked.
Chrysalis pointed a hoof up. “Somewhere in the floor above,” she explained. “Probably in a cocoon.”
Sweetie’s mind went back to the one that the changelings had placed Princess Celestia into and shuddered.
“So what now?” Sweetie asked.
“We wait,” Chrysalis said. “What else?”
“But... if you’re here, you’re also a prisoner?” Sweetie Belle asked after a moment.
“You just figured that out?” Chrysalis snorted. “Yes, I am a prisoner. Just like you.”
“But... can’t you, I dunno, transform into something else and escape?”
“Not right now,” Chrysalis motioned with her hoof at the cave around them. “Our prisons are very specialized affairs, you cannot teleport or open a portal from the inside. It can only be done from the outside. My daughters made the mistake of throwing me in here,” her eyes narrowed. “They are severely underestimating me.”
“But what can you do from inside a prison?” Sweetie Belle asked.
“Oh, much more than they think,” Chrysalis grinned evilly. She looked askance at Sweetie Belle. “You look familiar, have we met?”
“I- I was in the wedding at the castle when you attacked,” Sweetie Belle said.
Chrysalis frowned and leaned closer to look at Sweetie Belle. She gasped. “You’re... Sweetie Belle?!”
“Huh? You know me?” Sweetie Belle asked, surprised.
“This... complicates things,” Chrysalis admitted, standing up and walking closer to Sweetie Belle. “We’ll have to make sure you are well fed and taken care of. This might even call for a change in plans...” Chrysalis grinned evilly and her eyes flashed. “Yes, this will definitely call for a change in plans, I’ll have to move earlier but that might be for the best, we’ll get you somewhere safe and I’ll attack so quickly my daughters won’t know what hit them!”
“But why?” Sweetie Belle asked.
Chryslais blinked. “Well, if they don’t know what hit them, they are less likely to be able to form a plan of action and–”
“No, I mean why do you want me to be safe? Why do I change things?”
Chrysalis chuckled. “Because you’re family.”
A/N: Like I said in the blog, shorter chapters. Hope you don't mind.
By Wanderer D
“Family!?” Sweetie Belle stepped back, shaking her head as she stared in horror at Chrysalis. “I’m not a changeling!”
“By adoption,” Chrysalis rolled her eyes. “You ponies always jump to conclusions.” She shook her head.
“Like Twilight when she jumped to the conclusion that you were really not Cadence?” Sweetie Belle asked innocently.
Chrysalis narrowed her eyes. “Yes,” she hissed. “Just like Twilight.” She gritted her teeth. “But that doesn’t mean that it’s the right answer every time.”
“But she was right that time!” Sweetie Belle argued. “If she hadn’t jumped to conclusions you would have conquered Canterlot and we would be all living as part of your evil empire!”
Chrysalis’ eyebrow twitched. “Even she had more reason to jump to conclusions than you do right now.”
“Listen lady, I just saw my sister turn into a changeling and talk to another in clicks and taps. I think I am entitled to think whatever I want.”
Chrysalis blinked then started laughing so hard she rolled onto her back.
“What?” Sweetie Belle growled. “It’s true! I wanna know where my real sister is! Where is Rarity?”
When Chrysalis didn’t stop laughing Sweetie Belle started hitting the floor with her front hooves, tears forming in her eyes as she shouted in anger, “I want my sister back! Why did you take her away from me, you monster?!”
Still chuckling, Chrysalis shook her head and sat up. She grinned at Sweetie. “Do you really want to know?”
Sweetie barely nodded, the tears of frustration still present in her eyes.
“Probably worried sick about you having gone missing,” Chrysalis shrugged. “I imagine she’s kicking herself for not telling you sooner.”
“Telling me what?” Sweetie mumbled as she dropped on her haunches, staring at the ground in annoyance.
“That’s she’s a changeling queen, of course,” Chrysalis said.
“But that’s not Rarity!” Sweetie insisted. “That’s some changeling called Purity!”
Chrysalis sighed. “Yes, that’s my nickname for her, since she’s both, my sister Pupa–”
“Aha!” Sweetie Belle jumped to her hooves.
“-and your sister Rarity. So I called her Purity,” Chrysalis finished.
“Huh?” Sweetie’s face went blank. “But that- how does that even work? It’s impossible! Infeasible! Inconceivable! It’s–”
“What are you, a dictionary?” Chrysalis growled. “Shut up already.”
“Sorry,” Sweetie muttered.
“Listen, Sweetie,” Chrysalis held the filly’s shoulder with a hoof. “Pupa and Rarity are the same pony. And she’s your sister as much as she’s mine. She- at least you had her with you all this time. I don’t even remember what it felt like to have a sister.”
Sweetie hesitated, looking up to stare at Chrysalis, who was looking away with what seemed to be a bit of regret tinged with pride. “What do you mean?”
Chrysalis closed her eyes. “A long time ago... I thought Pupa had died. I never thought I would see her again, and so I just carried on as usual. But- when Purity revealed herself to me, I remembered so many things that I had not cared about back then,” she sighed. “It made me all nostalgic and melancholic.” Her eyes opened and her gaze centered on Sweetie Belle. “Emotions are not a good thing for merciless queens. I did the right thing by coming back here to the Hive and becoming the Queen. I will never think otherwise.”
Sweetie was quiet for a moment. “So... if my sister really is Pupa... and I am not saying she is,” she clarified. “Why didn't she return here? Why did she pretend she was dead?”
Chrysalis smirked. “Life in the Hive is not... as happy as life in pony lands. We are constantly being tested, be it by nature, enemies or ourselves. Pupa was never cut to be as... cold as she needed to be to survive here. It’s clear to me she chose the softer life of a pony because of that. It was probably for the best, otherwise she would have died.”
“I don’t think Pupa is Rarity,” Sweetie said after a moment contemplating the horrible notion of not having a sister because she died. “Rarity has always been in Ponyville...”
Chrysalis nodded. “There is a magic we changelings have called ‘soul meld’, which is exactly that; it takes the souls of two or more changelings and mixes them together into one being. It’s usually done to create the stronger and smarter captains out of several drones... but what happened is that my and Purity’s sister, Cocoon, used that spell to save the lives of both Pupa and Rarity. Or at least that’s what I think happened.”
Sweetie Belle sniffled. “Why didn’t she tell me, if that’s true?”
Chrysalis snorted. “I don’t know about Rarity at that age, but Pupa was always a very sensitive little princess. She was probably terrified of what would happen if anypony found out. I don’t think she even knew what a soul-meld was. She was probably very confused for a while... imagine you are thinking in two different ways at the same time. The same problem you see in front of you gives you two consecutive instinctual reactions. Occurrences or objects or conversations give you equally strong conflicting feelings... it’s not easy. Can you imagine what your sister went through when that happened? How scared she would be of ponies finding out?”
Sweetie looked away. “There was this one time...”
“Sweetie! Sweetie Belle!” Rarity called, looking around the house. “It’s time to go to school, Sweetie Belle!”
“I don’t wanna!” Sweetie’s voice came from the floor above. “When I come back you’ll be gone!”
Rarity smiled a bit sadly. “Well, I know I’ll be gone, Sweetie, but I promise you can visit anytime! A pony needs to set out in the world, and my boutique is the first step in becoming my own mare. I’m sure you understand.”
“No! I don’t want you to have your own place! I want you to stay!” Sweetie Belle’s voice retorted, prompting Rarity to start walking towards its originating point. “I want my sister here!”
“Sweetie,” Rarity smiled. “That’s very sweet of you dear, but it’s simply not possible. Why, with all my equipment I’m already incapable of sleeping in my own room! I need more space dear, and I cannot have it here.” She stopped in front of the door that led into her own room. “Please, Sweetie, come on out, we don’t want you to be late.”
Sighing, Rarity’s horn lit up and the door opened. She barely had time to stare in horror as boxes, ponnequins, a desk, travel bags and sewing equipment spilled out on top of her knocking her back and following her, bouncing, down the stairs.
The whole thing crashed loudly on the floor and Sweetie Belle ran out of the room, terrified. “Rarity! Are you okay?” she shouted, running down the stairs and jumping or dodging pieces of Rarity’s luggage.
“I- I’m f-fine Sweetie...” Rarity stammered. “Just... shaken. Promise me you’ll never pile anypony’s things like that again! That was v-very dangerous!”
Sweetie sighed in relief and nodded, then frowned, looking around for her sister. “Rarity? Where are you?”
“I’m right here, Sweetie... I’m sorry, that really scared me and–”
Sweetie was staring at the roof, where Rarity was standing, upside down and breathing hard, obviously still in shock. Little transparent wings fluttered on her back, buzzing nervously.
Rarity seemed to get back to her senses and blinked back at Sweetie. “Um... I can- I can explain this.”
“Rarity,” Sweetie raised a hoof and pointed at her. “You’re mane’s green!”
“What?! No! Not green!” Rarity shouted, panicking as she saw her mane indeed had green highlights now. In her panic, she let go of the roof, crashing into her bags.
Sweetie stared as the random stuff was moved about and Rarity stood up, wings buzzing, blue-green hair a mess, and a long, twisted black horn running through the neck of one of her ponnequins. Her eyes rolled and she passed out.
Sweetie woke up a bit later and shook her head, groggily. “Wh- what happened?” she muttered, rolling off the sofa. Suddenly what had happened came back to her and she ran to the stairs. The whole place was clean.
“Oh, Sweetie, you’re awake!” Rarity called as she trotted up to her with a smile. “I didn’t know you felt so strongly about me leaving... when you passed out I didn’t know what to do!”
“But- the stairs and... and the green mane and t-the ponnequin...” Sweetie trailed off as Rarity put her hoof against her forehead.
“Hm, you were tossing and turning, dear, I fear you might have had a nightmare.” Rarity sighed. “I’m sorry my leaving is causing this to you, Sweetie... maybe you could skip school and help me move?”
“I–” Sweetie shook her head, then smiled a bit shakily. “I would like that, sis.”
Rarity’s embrace was as warm and loving as always.
“And you believed her?” Chrysalis laughed.
“Hey! I didn’t even know changelings existed back then!” Sweetie replied a bit defensively, although the corner of her mouth betrayed her amusement.
Chrysalis shook her head. “That was priceless!” She opened her eyes wide and waved a hoof in front of Sweetie’s face. “It was aaaaall a dreeeam...”
“Ha, ha,” Sweetie muttered, making a minute effort to bat the hoof away. She glared at Chrysalis. “Well, since we’ll be here for a while, it’s your turn.”
“My turn?” Chrysalis blinked. “My turn for what?”
“For a story!” Sweetie rolled her eyes. “Duh, I just told you one! Now you tell me one.”
Chrysalis frowned. “I don’t know any stories.”
“Yes you do!” Sweetie insisted. “Tell me one about Pupa or Cocoon. What were they like?”
“No,” Chrysalis stated. “I don’t have time to be nostalgic.”
“Pleeeease?” Sweetie Belle asked, big puppy eyes looking deep into Chrysalis’ soul.
The changeling gritted her teeth. “You are far more effective at that than Shining Armor ever was,” she reluctantly conceded. “And even then I couldn’t turn him down all the time...”
“What? Why would Shining Armor do that?”
Chrysalis blinked and looked at Sweetie with a carefully deadpan expression. “No reason,” she said quickly, “Now, about that story...”
“Ugh, what does mother want now?” Chrysalis grunted as she followed her older sister, Cocoon, into the throne room.
“I don’t know,” Cocoon shrugged. “Maybe she has another quest for us.”
“Where does she get those things?” Chrysalis rolled her eyes. “Go fetch a flower! Go catch a diamond dog! Find the golden idol! Doesn’t she know how utterly ridiculous ‘questing’ is? She should simply make me queen and skip all the horseapples.”
“Language,” Cocoon chided without looking back. “It’s tradition, our grandmother probably had her do the exact same things and I will have to do the same to my daughters when I am named queen and you are dead from one of the quests or, if you survive them all, at my hooves.”
Chrysalis snorted. “Whatever.”
The pair reached the main chamber and were allowed in by the guards. Chrysalis and Cocoon stepped forth, slowly making their way to their mother, who stood at the center of the room.
“We are here, mother,” Cocoon spoke.
“So I see,” Queen Metamorpha said. “I called you because you are now both going to witness the arrival of another princess.” She stepped to the side, where both of them could now see a black, egg-like pod resting on the ground, held upright by root-like appendages. The soft sack in the middle glowed a muted green.
“Are you for real?” Chrysalis snorted. “Another princess? Mother, what is the point? This little one doesn’t even stand a chance, we should get rid of her now.”
“It’s funny,” Metamorpha deadpanned. “That’s exactly what Cocoon said when you were born.”
Chrysalis shot a glare in Cocoon’s direction, but the elder sister simply shrugged.
The sack began to pulsate and the Queen turned around. “She is about to be born,” she said over her shoulder.
The sack burst, and green ooze slid down to the floor as a small black figure inside shivered.
Cocoon blinked and took a step closer while Chrysalis trotted after her mother.
“Mother, really, Cocoon wasn’t much older than me when I was born, this little one is at a severe disadvantage! It’s cruel to let her live!” She followed the Queen to the edge of the chamber, and their conversation faded.
The little new born changeling shivered once more, blinking as it tried to make sense of the world around her. Already she was ready to cry in hunger and needing attention. Cocoon smiled a bit as she leaned in and nuzzled the newly born carefully, allowing her emotions to seep through and feed the little princess, who cooed happily.
Cocoon giggled. Then her eyes went wide and she quickly pulled her head back, turning to look in Chrysalis’ direction.
Apparently neither her mother nor sister had noticed anything. Cocoon sighed in relief, not noticing the evil glance and smile Chrysalis gave her once her back was turned. She would use this weakness of her sister’s to her advantage.
“That’s it?” Sweetie’s expression was not amused.
Chrysalis raised an eyebrow. “Well, what did you expect?”
“That’s not a story!” Sweetie protested.
Chrysalis’ shoulders slumped as she rolled her eyes. “Fine.”
“Sister! Look! I found a shifting barnacle!” Pupa called, galloping towards Chrysalis with her prize held in her mouth.
Chrysalis nodded, erecting a transparent shield around the exit. Pupa, being distracted by the large barnacle, didn’t notice until it was too late. She slammed into the force field, dropping the barnacle into the floor and bouncing back.
Chrysalis barked out a laugh as Pupa struggled to her hooves.
“That’s not funny!” Sweetie admonished Chrysalis.
“Eh, you had to be there to see her expression,” the changeling retorted. Then her eyes brightened. “Maybe that way you’ll get it!”
Sweetie Belle took a step back as Chrysalis stood up, horn glowing with magic. “W-what are you going to do?”
“I’m going to let you see my memory!” Chrysalis stated. “It was just sisterly games, that’s all! Here, look!” She leaned down, touching her horn to Sweetie’s and suddenly Sweetie was in a damp cave, looking at pupa galloping happily towards her.
Pupa bounced off the invisible shield, landing painfully on her side. She groaned and shook her head, confused and not noticing the flash of magic as Chrysalis released the spell.
She stood up on shaky legs and would have fallen were it not for the sudden appearance of Cocoon, who provided a steadying presence, letting Pupa lean her weight on her.
“Here,” Cocoon said, dragging the barnacle on the floor until it was in front of Pupa. Cocoon kept her eyes on the laughing Chrysalis. “Don’t stumble next time.”
“I- I won’t,” Pupa said, not looking up. She dragged herself away from Cocoon, pausing only to carefully lift the barnacle off the floor.
Cocoon’s gaze followed the morose princess until she passed by Chrysalis, who gave Cocoon an annoyed look and turned around.
“See?” Chrysalis asked. “Wasn’t Pupa’s face priceless?”
Sweetie Belle remained quiet, thinking of the look Cocoon had given Pupa. It was very similar to the one Rarity had given her when she had turned to run away. It was a very sad look.
“Well, what did you think?” Chrysalis prompted.
Sweetie Belle looked up, ready to tell off Chrysalis for making fun of Pupa even now. But her words died in her throat. There was something about the changeling queen’s look and body language that made Sweetie think that there was more going on here than making fun of Pupa.
“I- I would like to see more memories,” she finally whispered. “Please?”
Chrysalis perked up. “Sure! There’s this great prank I played on Pupa and Cocoon during our mother’s birthday celebration...”
A/N: Again, just a reminder: no edits and chapters as long/short as I feel like making them. ~WD
By Wanderer D
“Mother is planning something,” Arachne stated, pacing around the chamber she was sharing with her sisters. “I know it. I can feel it. If I could erase that smug look off her face–”
“You’ll do nothing of the sort,” Phasmi interrupted. “We still need to find out what Thysa is planning herself; I’m willing to bet mother is relying on her to act.”
“Expecting Thysa to achieve something is completely idiotic, Phasmi, you know that,” Acari stated. “And mother is not an idiot.”
Arachne glared at Acari. “Well then, since this whole thing was your idea, I hope you have a plan!”
Acari rolled her eyes, but with a sigh acknowledged her elder sister had a point. “We are all taking great risks right now, Arachne. The Hive is unaware of our mother’s imprisonment, and they have to remain like that until we have sorted out a way to deal with her.”
“She should just have died when she attempted to invade Canterlot,” Arachne growled, sitting down and pouting. “Would have saved us all the trouble. But no, she had to return strong enough to prove to everychangeling that she has more strength and power than we all thought.”
“Thinking about that is not going to get us anywhere,” Phasmi said, shrugging. “We have to figure out what her plan is. Why involve the princess of Canterlot? It’s not as if they were friends. And the student? Wasn’t she the one who found out mother’s plans just about the moment they met?”
“I am sure there was more to it than a simple glance,” Arachne said. “For all her magical prowess this unicorn is pretty easy to fool. She’s not dangerous.”
“Famous last words,” Phasmi intoned.
“You asking for a fight, sis?”
“Sisters,” Acari growled. “Let’s attend the matter at hoof. Mother clearly has a plan. And it somehow involves the Princess’ apprentice.”
“Thysa is probably with them right now,” Phasmi said. “If mother has allies amongst them, she’ll be sure to add them to her own cause, and by extension mother’s.”
“That’s not a problem,” Arachne waved a hoof. “I’ve taken steps to ensure the apprentice of Celestia doesn’t pose a threat.”
Phasmi blinked, then frowned. “Earlier you said that this Twilight Sparkle, was easy to fool...”
Acari raised an eyebrow. “What did you do?”
Arachne grinned evilly. “Remember that you two are not the only ones who can plan ahead. Let me show you my genius.”
“This is bad,” Phasmi stated, eyes wide as she stared at the upside-down, cocooned form of Twilight Sparkle, who still slumbered under the effects of a spell. “This is very bad.”
“Of all the idiotic things you could have done,” Acari shook her head. “This ranks up with the behem–”
“You said we would never speak of it again!” Arachne interrupted.
“That was you?!” Phasmi gasped. “By the ancestor queens. We’re doomed.”
“Will you stop whining?!” Arachne snapped. “I captured her link to the princess!”
“No, you simpleton!” Acari snapped back. “You captured Princess Celestia’s favored student!”
“So what?” Arachne blinked.
“You captured Twilight Sparkle, the Princess’ personal protege, and you brought her here,” Phasmi said slowly, looking at Arachne in the eye. “Does that statement not worry you the tiniest bit?”
Arachne frowned. “Oh.”
“‘Oh’ indeed,” Acari sighed.
“Well, it’s not like they know where we are...” Arachne said after a moment, before facehoofing. “Except that Thysa does.”
“Well done,” Phasmi said, nodding. Then she warned, “be careful of so many epiphanies, sister, or your brain might fry.”
“Well, this unexpected surprise does put us in a bit of a bind,” Acari said. “But there is nothing we can do about it right now. What we need are new plans.”
“And for somechangeling to follow them,” Phasmi added.
“It’s too bad we can’t turn Twilight Sparkle into a changeling. She would see our side as her best bet and join us.” Arachne muttered.
Acari smacked the back of Arachne’s head. “I’ve told you before, that’s impossible. Let it go.”
Arachne gritted her teeth. “Remind me why I haven’t killed either of you yet.”
“Because we’re family,” Acari said.
“So wait, I’m an aunt?!” Sweetie Belle gasped. “But, I haven’t even gotten my cutie mark yet!”
“Well, that’s too bad,” Chrysalis snorted. “Maybe it’s because the universe hasn’t figured how to represent ‘obnoxious’ in a drawing on your flank.”
Sweetie Belle pouted. “I just haven’t figured out what it is, that’s all.”
“Well, it sure as hay isn’t singing,” Chrysalis snorted. “Your voice is too nice for a proper rendition of the changeling anthem.”
“Hey! I thought it sounded really nice!” Sweetie growled. “Let’s hear you sing it then!”
“Amazing, wasn’t it?” Chrysalis tossed her mane cockily. “I have true talent.”
“It sounded as if you had thrown pebbles into a pasta roller and forced them through while you dunked a cat into the river repeatedly and used your magic to drag diamond dog claws down a blackboard.” Sweetie said. “I couldn’t recognize any of the words because they were destroyed immediately.”
“And that, filly is how you sing like a changeling,” Chrysalis grinned.
They stared at each other until Sweetie Belle spoke. “You’re lying.”
“I’m not!” Chrysalis raised a hoof to her chest. “Do I look like somechangeling who would lie?”
“Yes,” Sweetie Belle stated. “And changing your face to look like Applejack’s while leaving the rest of your body normal is really, really creepy.”
In a flash of green Chrysalis was back to normal. “Well fine, how did you know?”
“Just before you started singing you shape-shifted your ears away,” Sweetie Belle said. “And even then, I’m sure I saw you wince when you dislocated your jaw while attempting the third verse.”
Chrysalis cringed. That had been painful.
Sweetie Belle sighed. “So, when are we going to do something? I don’t want to just wait here!”
“Wait just a little bit longer, cousin,” Chrysalis said, ruffling Sweetie’s mane. The changeling queen’s eyes shone with green energy as her smile became predatory. “Soon enough Arachne is going to either confess what she did to her sisters, or it’s going to dawn on her.”
Sweetie raised an eyebrow. “And then?”
“And then, they’ll start worrying,” Chrysalis’ smile didn’t fade as she stood up and cantered around their cell, looking about as if she expected something to happen.
“And then?” Sweetie prompted.
“And then...” Chrysalis’ fangs seemed to glint in the greenish light as she stared at an area of the cell where the wall was starting to make squishing noises. “They come to see me to find out what I know and try to learn how Princess Celestia will act.”
Sweetie watched in fascination as the wall turned into mismatched bars and three changeling princesses glared at Chrysalis.
“Hello, daughters,” Chrysalis waved her hoof dismissively. “How is your coup going?”
One of them opened her mouth, but another’s eyes widened when she saw Sweetie Belle. She turned around and poked another of the changelings in the chest. “You brought another pony?!”
“I’m going to go to the Hive to save Sweetie Belle and Twilight,” Rarity said, looking at the others. “Thysa will stay here.”
The young changeling princess blinked in surprise.
“But, you can’t go alone!” Rainbow Dash brought her hoof down, hard. “We should all go.”
Rarity shook her head. “If we show up in force it’ll just incite the drones in the Hive to attack. We would be overwhelmed.”
“But you can't expect us to just let y’all go by yourself,” Applejack argued. “It’s too dangerous!”
“You can’t take a whole changeling hive on your own, you silly filly!” Pinkie said, grinning widely. “You need a party cannon!”
Fluttershy smiled sheepishly.
Rarity closed her eyes, smiling as the love and support of her friends filled her with power. She sighed. “Girls, I love you all and I would love to have you with me–”
“Yay! We’re going to the Hivpmph!” Pinkie Pie cheered until Rarity’s hoof in her mouth interrupted her.
“-but I cannot take you with me. I want to, but we are risking the lives of my sister and Twilight. I would never endanger them so. Chrysalis would not hurt Sweetie; and she might hold her hoof when it comes to Twilight on my account, but I cannot speak for Arachne or Acari. From what I hear Phasmi might choose to not hurt either of them, but I cannot be sure of how she would react to a threat.”
Rainbow Dash bucked the wall. “Dammit!”
“I’m sorry, darling,” Rarity said, her eyes glistening with gratitude. “But I really can’t risk it.”
“But, what about me?” Thysa asked.
“I need you to stay here in case I fail,” Rarity explained. “Thysa, dear, we’re family, and although I’ve just met you, I like you. I don’t want you to get hurt either, and with you here, I can count on my friends being able to find the Hive if anything goes wrong...” she hesitated, then looked at the gathered ponies and princesses. “If- if worse comes to worse, and something happens to me... make sure to save Sweetie, Twilight and Chrysy.”
Celestia raised an eyebrow. “You want us to save Chrysalis.”
Cringing a bit at the tone of the statement, Rarity nodded, forcing a pleading smile into her muzzle. “Please?”
Celestia sighed. “I will try. Are you sure direct intervention isn’t the best option?”
“Not unless your faithful student is free as well as Sweetie Belle,” Luna spoke up. “I think, sister, that we would benefit from your secret agent's help.”
Celestia’s eyes widened. “Luna!”
Luna looked at the gathered elements of harmony. “I would speak to Rarity. Alone.” She glanced at her sister. “Well, mostly alone.”
“Will Twilight and Sweetie Belle have a better chance at coming back home in one piece if we let y’all talk in private?” Applejack asked after a moment of uncomfortable silence.
“I believe so, yes,” Luna replied.
“Come on, y’all,” Applejack said, herding the rest of her friends and Thysa out the door. “Y’all heard th’ princess!”
“But- but I wanna know what’s going on!” Rainbow Dash complained just before the door shut behind them.
“I hate to sound like a broken record and repeat Rainbow Dash’s words, your highness, but I’m afraid I would like to know what you're thinking,” Rarity said, facing both princesses.
“I would like to form a team, led this time by Rarity and myself, which can concentrate on infiltrating the Hive and rescuing Twilight Sparkle and Sweetie Belle,” Luna explained.
Celestia gave her a considering look. “Have you been role-playing military games, Luna?”
“No!” Luna growled, blushing slightly. “As you might recall, sister, I am quite proficient in illusory magic. Hidden Tale would have no problem blending in, either. We would need maybe one or two more members to make the team the most efficient, but for now... we three should be enough.”
Celestia frowned. “While I applaud your offer of support for our friends, Luna... you must understand that Hidden Tale would be in terrible danger if caught.”
Luna shrugged. “So would we.”
Celestia grumbled. “Fine, we will ask him, but I won’t force him into this mission.”
“Excuse me, your highness, I know this all makes sense to you, but...” Rarity looked from one princess to the other. “Who is Hidden Tale?”
“I don’t like it,” Rainbow Dash muttered. “How come Rarity needs to go alone?”
“I know, right?!” Pinkie Pie grinned. “She needs all of her bestest friends with her! How else can she have a party!?”
“Weren’t y’all paying attention?” Applejack sighed. “We don’t know how the changelings will act if we all go together. What they need is to go in unnoticed... and Ah can’t rightly say any of us here, other than Fluttershy, can even approach ‘subtle’.”
“Oh, AJ!” Pinkie giggled. “I’m super-duper-ultra-really-quiet and subtle!”
“Excuse me,” Thysa raised a hoof. “Is wearing a bright yellow cape, a party hat with a propeller and bands with rows of bells on them traditional wear for Earth Ponies? It’s really pretty.”
“No,” Applejack deadpanned. “That there's Pinkie Pie being subtle."
“Oh,” Thysa said nodding her head slowly. “Well, it looks pretty...”
“But not subtle,” Rainbow Dash stated.
“I um... I wonder why they are taking so long...” Fluttershy said, lowering her head a bit when everypony turned to look at her. “I mean, um- they’ve been in there for about fifteen minutes already.”
“Yeah, and Spike hasn’t come back with our sandwiches!” Rainbow Dash grumbled. “I’m hungry!”
“Is this really the best time for you t’ complain about yer stomach?” Applejack asked.
“Look, I’m just–” Rainbow Dash stopped when the door to the library opened.
Rarity walked out, followed by Princess Luna and Princess Celestia.
“What happened?” Pinkie Pie asked, pushing her face uncomfortably close to Rarity’s. “Did you figure out what to do!? Did ya?! Did ya!?”
“I um,” Rarity forced a smile. “Y-yes darling, but please step back a little.”
“Okie-dokie!” Pinkie Pie’s smile grew as she took one step back.
“I’m going to get going,” Rarity said. “But I will not be alone.”
“So...” Rainbow Dash gave her an inquisitive look. “Who’s going with you?”
“I- I can’t say.” Rarity cringed at the look her friends gave her. “But I promise you all, we can trust this pony.”
“Come now,” Luna said, stepping past them. “I’ll take you to the rendezvous point.”
Rarity looked at her friends and pulled them all into a hug. “I wish you all could come with me,” she whispered.
“We’ll be with you, and you with us,” Applejack assured her. “In your thoughts, and ours.”
“Make sure you bring Twilight and Sweetie back safely,” Rainbow Dash said, leaning in to the hug. “And kick some changeling flank for me!”
Rarity smiled. “I will.”
“Um... be careful,” Fluttershy said.
“Please take care of Thysa,” Rarity asked her friends as she pulled back a bit. “She might get into trouble.”
“Will do, sugarcube,” Applejack assured her.
“Oh, oh! And say ‘hi’ to Hidden Tale!” Pinkie Pie grinned.
“I will,” Rarity promised as she turned around to face the princesses. She took a couple of steps before she stopped once more, frowning. “Wait, did you just say–”
“Rarity!” Luna called. “We shouldn’t make him wait!”
“Coming!” Rarity called, trotting up to Luna and putting Pinkie Pie out of her mind. For the moment.
The group of friends watched as Luna enveloped Rarity in magic and took off.
“So...” Pinkie Pie spoke up, drawing everypony’s attention to her. “Who wants to play twister!?”
Eeyup. Short chapter... especially for the wait, but I’m working mostly on TSC right now!
Once more I remind you; there's no proof-reading being done on these. Writing time: 45 mins.
By Wanderer D
Sweetie Belle hid behind Chrysalis’ hind legs and peered at the three changelings standing outside. The only thing separating all of them was a thin, translucent wall. It seemed almost easy to break, but Chrysalis didn’t even seem to want to try.
“I suppose,” Phasmi drawled out with a look of annoyance. “That you would not simply tell us what mission you gave to Thysa.”
Chrysalis snorted. “Of course not. If you three little usurpers want to take my throne, you’ll have to be more inventive than simply asking.”
“We know she was heading for Ponyville, old ghoul!” Arachne snapped. “I beat her there and took Celestia’s apprentice away before they could contact their queen.”
“Princess,” Sweetie Belle corrected automatically.
“Whatever,” Arachne snorted.
“Yes, and a bold move that was,” Chrysalis laughed. “Not only did you bring one of the most magically gifted unicorns in Equestria to our Hive; she’s under Celestia’s direct protection and she’s also one of the Elements of Harmony.” Her eyes shone with mirth. “Truly a move worthy of a Queen!” She bowed mockingly. “A queen of idiots!”
“Say all you want, old ghoul!” Arachne shouted, pressing her face against the translucent wall. “It’s not like your plans went perfectly!”
Chrysalis chuckled and shook her head. “I am well aware of my own mishaps, dear. But I will remind you I beat Celestia and the elements. My plan was executed to perfection, and it was a small oversight that brought my dreams of conquest down.” Her eyes flashed with malice. “A small oversight. In contrast to the ticking bomb the size of the Sun you have up there. I wonder, what will that do once it finalizes its count-down?”
For a moment it seemed as if Arachne was about to try and burst through the wall, but the calming hoof of Acari on her shoulder stopped her. “That’s enough, Arachne. We will deal with it on our own.”
“For now, we have come for the small unicorn,” Phasmi said after a moment. “Hoof her over.”
“Um,” Chrysalis pretended to think about it. “No.”
Acari rolled her eyes and looked straight at Sweetie Belle. “Come over, little one, I’m sure you don’t want to stay with this monster.”
Sweetie Belle hid behind Chrysalis again, but spoke up. “N-no, I think I’m f-fine.”
Acari blinked. “Come on, I’m sure she threatened you, but in there she can only perform very simple tricks. Once you come out, she cannot hurt you.”
“This is taking too long,” Arachne spat. “Come out here, brat! We’ll give you some toys, some food and once we figure out what the hell Thysa is doing, and we put an end to this old hag, we’ll get some drones to take you home.”
Sweetie shook her head and hugged Chrysalis’ hind leg, making the trio blink in confusion and Chrysalis to smile. “I’m thinking I will officially adopt her as my little sister,” Chrysalis grinned, showing off her fangs and teeth.
Acari leveled a deadpan look at Chrysalis. “Sister? Why not daughter?”
Chrysalis shrugged. “They tend to disappoint.”
All three younger changelings went quiet for a moment, until Phasmi turned around. “I don’t think there’s much of a point in talking to you more, mother.”
“I think not,” Chrysalis said. “I have little to say to betrayers.”
Arachne turned away, fuming. “Well the old ghoul has said her part, let’s get going. It’s not like her little pet unicorn and Thysa can do much for her.”
Acari and Phasmi shared a look and nodded.
They turned their backs to them as the wall started to become thicker again.
“Goodbye for now,” Phasmi hesitated. “Mother.”
“How long must we still wait, Princess?” Rarity asked.
Luna sighed. “Rarity, as a member of royalty yourself, you should learn patience.”
Rarity huffed and sat down, looking morosely at the forest. Luna had brought her to the northern skirts of the Everfree to meet with their would-be-teammate. From there, it was a short flight to the immediacy of the Hive, but if this ‘Hidden Tale’ was really coming, he was taking his time.
“Princess,” Rarity sighed. “I’m not much of a member of royalty, I abandoned the Hive to its fate to live a pony life like the part of me that has always been Rarity wanted. What member of royalty that still has a claim to the throne can do that?”
Luna was about to reply, but cut herself short as a phoenix flew up to them and landed between the pair.
“Philomena?” Luna asked, looking at the bird in confusion.
Rarity blinked when the phoenix erupted in green flames and turned into an unassuming brown-coated earth pony with emerald eyes. His cutie mark was a closed book.
“Greetings, your High-” he stopped his salutation to the princess and regarded Rarity in silence for a moment. “Princess Luna, I must inform you that the Element of Generosity has been replaced by a changeling queen.” Although he did not change his position at all, he suddenly seemed tense... and dangerous.
Rarity blinked. “Wait, how did you know? I’ve held this disguise perfectly for a long time!”
Luna face-hoofed. “Of course my sister would not inform you of this little detail,” she sighed. “Hidden Tale, may I present to you Rarity, Element of Generosity; also known against her will as Queen Pupa.”
This drew a surprised blink and half-step back from the changeling. “But- how? I thought you died!”
Rarity raised an eyebrow. “You know about Pupa?”
Hidden Tale glanced at Princess Luna before nodding. “I had been assigned to keep an eye on the next probable successor of the Hive,” he explained. “And I successfully infiltrated it. The queen and princesses don’t pay much attention to drones, so it was easy for me to pretend.” He considered Rarity for a moment before bowing. “If you really are Queen Pupa... I am in your debt.”
Luna and Rarity exchanged looks of confusion. “Wait, what?” Rarity stammered. “Hold on, I think I must have heard wrong, how could you owe me anything?”
Hidden Tale chuckled. “You were probably too young to remember now, but on the last day of your life in the Hive, I was following you and your sisters and to keep an eye on you, I joined a crew of drones in re-building a section of the Hive which you three frequented. It didn’t take long for the three of you to walk past, but... I- I got careless,” he admitted with a cringe. “I faltered in my position and the weight of the rocks and uneven ground were my downfall. You... distracted everyling by arguing about healing me enough for me to cast a simple mending spell Queen Celestia had taught me.”
Luna covered her mouth as she coughed, “Princess.”
Hidden Tale gave no indication of having heard her. “ I was still injured, but my exoskeleton looked fine. Since there was no order to dispose of me, and my injury seemed minor, I was left to rest and recover.”
Rarity’s eyes went wide. “That was you?! I remember that! I was so worried, I am so glad to know you are fine!”
“As I said, Queen Pupa,” he bowed. “I am in your debt.” He rose and turned to face them both. “Q-Princess Celestia only told me to meet you both here and that I would be briefed and given the choice to take the mission or not... I think, given the circumstances it is a definitive yes, regardless of what it might be.”
Rarity couldn’t help herself, taking a step forward, she drew Hidden Tale into an embrace. “Thank you, Hidden Tale, but there is no debt owed. I said what I felt and know is right.”
Hidden Tale did not return the embrace, but when Rarity stepped back he nodded. “Then consider it a gift, your highness, from a lucky changeling.”
“Well then,” Luna spoke up. “Now that that’s decided, we should discuss the best way to infiltrate the Hive.”
“I think it’s pretty clear,” Hidden Tale spoke up, not even blinking at the mention of their objective. “We disguise ourselves as drones. We go in through the kitchen.”
“Wait,” Rarity said, raising hoof and blinking in surprise. “Drones cook!?”
Hidden Tale took a deep breath. “Your highness, with all due respect, royalty has no idea of what it is like outside of the Queen’s Wing.”
“Well,” Rarity said softly. “I do believe it’s time I found out but...” she looked up at Hidden Tale with a tinge of fear in her eyes. “I’m not going to have to put one of those dreadful maid outfits, am I? They are positively drab.”
Spike paced in the library in a circle, keeping a wary eye on his pony friends.
“You look worried,” Thysa said, suddenly appearing right next to him. “I’m sure Twilight will be fine.”
“I know she will,” Spike sighed, looking forlornly at the group. “I mean, she’s pretty powerful and all and, yeah I am worried about her but...” he looked down. “That’s not what bothers me the most.”
Thysa blinked. “What is it, then?”
Spike glanced at the group as Pinkie Pie said something that set the others laughing. “I... I just feel left out.”
“I’m sure if you just walked up to them, they would include you,” Thysa said.
“Well, yeah, but... well, everypony seemed to know that Rarity was a changeling... except me.” Spike sat down on the floor, still looking at them. “I feel like they don’t trust me enough to tell me some things.” He turned to look at Thysa. “What if Rarity is not the only changeling? What if they all are?”
Thysa blinked slowly and raised an eyebrow. “All of them? Changelings.”
“Not a chance,” Thysa shrugged. “There are very few changelings that can survive outside the hive for a long time. And my auntie is probably the only one in Ponyville. There are too few ponies around here and a change in demeanor would be quickly noticed.”
“Okay, maybe not changelings, but... what if one of them is a vampony?! Or a ghost? What if they all know but won’t tell me?”
“Spike, they are sitting under the sunlight and all of them have cups of tea. Vamponies would be dust by now and ghosts cannot pick up stuff.”
Spike sighed in relief, then gave Thysa an impressed look. “Wow, you’re more observant than I would have thought from earlier.”
Thysa’s eyes flashed a little with an undecipherable emotion, before she turned to look at the ponies. “Yes well, I’m often underestimated.”
“It’s okay,” Spike patted her shoulder. “Sometimes you just have to prove to everypony how much you can do before they will take you seriously.”
Thysa looked down at Spike for a moment. “Yeah... yes, you’re right. I guess one day I’ll show them.”
Spike smiled. “That’s the spirit!”
“Okay, you should attempt to look like me, my Queens.” Hidden Tale said, releasing his disguise and revealing an average-looking drone.
“Do you have to call me that?” Rarity sighed as she was enveloped in green flames to reveal a feminine drone.
“Or you could be a female,” Hidden Tale shrugged.
“Wait,” Princess Luna asked after a second. “Are you saying that there are female drones? I was under the impression that you were all male.”
Rarity giggled and covered her mouth, while Hidden Tale smiled a bit.
“Well?” Luna asked again, glaring at the pair.
“Oh, I’m sorry for laughing, Princess,” Rarity chuckled. “I’m afraid most ponies do believe that Queens are the only females, but that is not so. Queens are just... different. We are able to perform much more magic naturally than drones, who take a long time to master simple spells. We also share a vague mental-link with the drones, enabling us to be able to communicate orders to them, something that they cannot do on their own. A queen amplifies the power of the emotions she absorbs, distributing the energy to the drones as well in even portions.”
“They are also more aggressive, and their empathic abilities have molded the Hive into what it is today,” Hidden Tale elaborated as Luna rolled her eyes and cast an illusory spell that made her look like drone-Rarity’s twin. “They are the natural leaders of our species, but through the ages, they have become more... they took it upon themselves to make a real distinction and divorced themselves from most interaction other than to give orders. Thus, it’s no surprise that Queen Pupa here, who left the Hive so early, has no idea of the sort of civilization we actually have.”
Luna nodded. “I see. I have no idea how your civilization actually works.”
Hidden Tale shrugged. “It does, for now.”
The trio looked at the entrance to the Hive’s kitchens, which was little more than a hole in the ground, from where steam emanated.
Rarity made a face. “Ugh, at least in this form I don’t have to worry about my mane.”
Luna shook her head. “It will be fine. Now, forward! I do intend to find out something that has been bugging my mind.”
Hidden Tale and Rarity exchanged amused glances.
“And what is that, your highness?” Rarity asked.
“What exactly does a species that feeds on emotions cook?”
A/N: Sorry for the delay. And as always, this did not go through pre-readers of editors.
“I feel like I’ve been stuck here for months, doing nothing!!” Sweetie Belle complained.
“It’s been less than a day,” Queen Chrysalis remarked, shrugging. “You have to learn patience, sister.”
“Easy for you to say,” Sweetie Belle grumbled, “you've gotten a lot more practice, sis. But it still feels like time just forgot about us.”
“Well, it does seem like an unusually long day...” Chrysalis sighed and shook her head. “I’m just about ready to burst out, but I need more information. Just a little more before I can act.”
Sweetie Belle blinked. “Wait. What information do you need? And how can you get it?”
Chrysalis smiled. “Oh I have been getting it from you... and them,” she explained. “When they visited they told me a lot more than they imagine. Clearly Thysa is not on their side, not that she can do much other than rally allies, and they seem to be under the impression that I am controlling her actions.” She laughed. “I can tell... one of them is going to betray the others, it’s just a matter of time. And when she does, she’ll come to me.” The Queen’s smile turned into a vicious grin. “I’ll have to decide what to do with her after I deal with the others.”
Sweetie cringed. “Is that really necessary?”
Chrysalis looked down at the filly. “I can always have more daughters. I’m not even into my first century.”
“Oh...” Sweetie didn’t sound convinced. “Wait... how long does a Changeling Queen live?”
“About... four hundred years at least,” Chrysalis said after a moment of tapping her chin in thought. “Mother was roughly seven hundred when she died. And she died of natural causes.”
“She did?” Sweetie asked. “Uh... how did she die?”
“Ah.” Sweetie frowned. “No, wait, that doesn’t make sense. That's not a natural cause! How would a gryphon even find this place, then get past all the changelings and murder the queen?”
“Gryphon. Assassin.” Chrysalis repeated slowly, looking directly into Sweetie’s eyes. "And of course it's a natural cause. You cease breathing."
Sweetie Belle shrank a little under the gaze. “O-okay.”
“It was truly a ghastly occurrence,” Chrysalis said, taking her eyes away from the cringing filly. “The celebrations lasted for weeks. We didn’t even remember to bury her until the clean-up crew had to clear the aftermath of the party.”
“Wait, you had a party that lasted several weeks?”
“And the ‘gryphon assassin’ was hailed as hero to all and had she been a changeling princess—and this is pure conjecture—she might have immediately become Queen, but that’s another thing altogether. Mother was not loved. At all. By anyone. Changeling or food,” Chrysalis said with a grumbling sigh. “She was really, really disliked.”
Sweetie gulped. “That’s... really sad.”
Chrysalis did not look at her. “Yeah. It is.”
“I’m sorry,” Sweetie Belle said, giving Chrysalis a hug.
“It was for the best,” Chrysalis explained, shifting a little. “She would have doomed us all.”
Sweetie Belle didn't say anything but her look made Chrysalis roll her eyes. “She had planned something similar as my plan to take over Canterlot,” she elaborated. “Only, she wanted to take on the dragons, because, and I quote: 'Things that big must also have really big feelings.'”
Sweetie Belle giggled, eliciting a smile from Chrysalis. “Yes, I thought she was joking too until I saw the maps, the logistics and plans all laid out on the table. It was fortunate that that assassin struck the moment she did.” Chrysalis shuddered. “Unlike the ponies, dragons would not have been content on letting us go.”
“Oh!” Rarity all but squealed in happiness. “I remember these!”
Her eyes roamed the large table in front of her, where several drones, male and female, worked on preparing dishes for the princesses.
“It used to be my favorite!” she whispered excitedly to Luna and Hidden Tale, remembering where she was and the nature of their visit.
“What is it?” Luna whispered back.
“Fruit bats,” Hidden Tale said, looking over the dish.
Rarity's eyes went wide, and Luna feared her fellow royal was about to either throw up or pass out.
“All this time... there's a whole colony of them at Sweet Apple Acres...” Rarity was salivating. “And I never thought to cook them. I can't believe I never noticed!”
Luna exchanged a glance with Hidden Tale. “Is this all you eat?”
“Of course not,” Hidden Tale chuckled, taking a sudden air of arrogance and control. “Follow me, young ones.”
He lead them to the table. “Carry on,” he waved a hoof casually to one of the chefs when they stopped. “I'm introducing the newest cooks to the kitchen.”
The chefs nodded, returning to their work.
“As you can see, we have the fruit bats, the centipedes over here, mushrooms, sala-tree roots, a great variety of bulbs and chocolate. All for the pleasure of our queen and princesses.”
Rarity and Luna nodded, the first trying her best to not simply bite into everything, the second carefully keeping herself from accidentally bumping against a pile of dead animals.
“How are you handling it?” Luna whispered when she saw Rarity shudder.
“I... I'm having a really rough time, princess,” Rarity confessed, gulping and trying to force her eyes to look at anything but the fruit bats. "I don't mean to alarm you, but I am holding back some very powerful urges to gorge myself right now... it's been such a long time... changelings are omnivores. We need animal protein, we need starch, we need... a little of everything, even emotions. While in Ponyville all I could eat was... well, vegetables...” she cringed. “I don't mean that I don't love my veggies, but...” she gulped. “But... F-fruit bats... oh my Celestia. I have lusted for that dish all these years, princess. You have no idea just how much I've wanted to sink my teeth into one of those. Had I known... oh, Celestia, had I known...”
“There, there,” Luna patted her friend's back. “Patience. I am sure that when we free your sister—”
“What are you three doing here?!” A changeling interrupted, trotting towards them angrily. “I don't recall allowing anyone else in here. You three. Who are you? What are your names?”
“Now, you listen here,” Hidden Tale growled, getting in the face of the changeling that had marched up to them. “These two were just assigned to start working in the kitchen and—”
“What is she doing!?” the changeling shouted, pushing Hidden Tale out of the way.
Luna blinked, thinking he was talking about her, but then she looked at Rarity and realized the changeling queen had left her side and was happily chewing a cooked fruit bat to the horrified looks of the chefs and servants.
“I'll have her executed for this! That food is only for...” he trailed off as Rarity moaned in bliss.
“Fruit bats...” Rarity whispered, her form shimmering as her disguise was completely forgotten in a moment of infinite culinary pleasure. Instead of a pretty-but-normal female changeling, now stood a queen.
All movement in the kitchen halted.
Licking her chops, Rarity let out a slow, shuddering sigh of pleasure and then opened her eyes. “Uh-oh...”
“Something is not right,” Arachne said, sitting in front of the pod containing Twilight. “I can feel it in my exoskeleton.”
“Are you sure it's not just that you haven't waxed it in a while?” Acari offered. “It's really relaxing.”
“I don't have time to do that!” Arachne snapped. “What are we going to do about this?” she pointed behind her at the pod.
Acari and Phasmi looked at each other before looking back at her. “Well,” Phasmi cleared her throat. “We could let her go.”
“Are you crazy? If we do that she'll tell their queen where we are!” Arachne growled.
“Princess,” Acari corrected.
“Whatever!” Arachne snapped.
“We have to think of alternatives,” Phasmi said, looking from one sister to the other. “Freeing her and taking her somewhere safe while she's unconscious, is one option, but not the only one. We could set her free and explain the situation to her.”
Arachne shook her head. “Ponies hate us! Why would she even listen?”
“She's supposed to be one of the most intelligent ponies ever,” Acari said. “Perhaps she will give us the benefit of doubt.”
“Perhaps she will blast us to pieces!” Arachne grumbled.
“Regardless, we need to reach a consensus,” Phasmi sighed. “Whatever we do, we can't harm her. We should decide soon, her absence must have been discovered by now and enough time has passed for the ponies to set their own plans in motion.”
“Fine then,” Arachne grumbled, getting up. “I'll think about it,” she muttered, walking out of the pod room.
Acari watched her leave before looking back at Phasmi. “Arachne is losing it.”
Phasmi sighed. “I know. But we must trust her to be strong enough to pull through. We can't do this on our own. I just wish Thysa had...” she trailed off. “I guess there's no point in wishful thinking.”
Acari shook her head, standing up as well. “We all need some rest, sister. Let's each consider what our best course of action should be, then reconvene when we have all calmed down.”
Phasmi nodded, looking absently at Twilight's sleeping form while her sister walked away.
“Ah don't know, Scootaloo,” Apple Bloom said as they approached the Library. “It's mighty strange that Sweetie didn't come back after taking Thysa to see Rarity.”
“I'm sure they just all got stuck drinking tea with Rarity,” Scootaloo groaned. “Come on, we'll see her tomorrow in school.”
“Then why aren't they at the Carrousel Boutique?” Apple Bloom asked. “Ah just want to check, okay?”
The pair made it to the Golden Oaks Library and knocked on the door.
To their surprise, it was Applejack who opened the door. “Well, what in tarnation are y'all doin' here?”
“Sis?” Apple Bloom asked. “What are you doin' here? Ah thought libraries were not your favorite place.”
Applejack frowned. “Never mind that, Ah asked you a question.”
“We're here to see if Twilight knows where Sweetie Belle is. She was supposed to be with Rarity but they were not in the boutique. We've already checked Sugarcube Corner.”
“Um... Ah-ah don't know, girls, maybe she's uh...” Applejack squirmed under the gaze of the two fillies. “Uh... P-Pinkie Pie! We have visitors!” she shouted looking over her shoulder.
“We do?!” Pinkie Pie asked from behind Apple Bloom and Scootaloo, making them both shout in surprise. “We do! That's amazing! Hello girls!”
“Pinkie, you have to stop doing that!” Apple Bloom groaned. “Don't you remember what happened to Sweetie Belle last time!?”
“Did she burst into green flames revealing she had always been a changeling!?” Pinkie Pie gasped.
“No!” Scootaloo groaned. “She passed out! Where do you get that stuff?!”
“Ah, hehe,” Applejack interrupted, chuckling nervously and looking extremely guilty. “J-just remember girls, it's just Pinkie bein' Pinkie Pie.”
Apple Bloom's eyes narrowed. “Riiight.”
“Eeeyup!” Pinkie Pie shouted, skipping around them. “Sweetie's not a changeling! Sweetie's not a changeling!” She stopped, eyes wide. “Unless... can changelings turn ponies into changelings?! That would be so cool!” she turned to look at a horrified Applejack. “She could have a moment with her two sisters! It would be the three sisters! All over again!”
“Wait, what?” Scootaloo asked, blinking. “Sweetie only has one sister,” she pointed out.
“And she's a pony,” Apple Bloom added.
“And changelings can't turn ponies into changelings, that's a myth,” Thysa added, nodding her head.
Applejack sighed in relief. “Well, Ah'm glad that's...” she blinked. “Wait...”
“Thysa!” Apple Bloom smiled. “Where's Sweetie?”
“She was captured by my evil sister and taken into custody to the changeling hive in the wastelands,” Thysa said.
There was a moment of awkward silence.
Applejack sighed. “Okay girls, come inside, we have some things we need to discuss.” She glared at Thysa. “And you, princess, better learn to keep quiet, secrets like these can get a lot of ponies in trouble if they're not kept!”
Thysa cringed. “Sorry...”
“Aw, it's okay!” Pinkie Pie grinned. “Come on, let's go party!”
Slowly, as night descended onto Ponyville and the lights of the small town lit up, peace seemed settle into it.
However, had anypony been close to the Everfree forest, they might have noticed several shadows moving to and fro.
The shadows whispered to each other, and their attention turned to the town.
Soon... soon they would move out.
By Wanderer D
Chrysalis considered the walls carefully as she thought about her plans. "Hmm... yess... that could work," she chortled while Sweetie lay on her stomach, chin on the floor and bored out of her mind.
"How long are we going to stay here? I want to—"
Chrysalis stopped when Sweetie's whining was cut short. Blinking, she slowly turned around to face the young unicorn. "Sweetie, is everything okay?"
Sweetie Belle was standing, looking around at the prison with a confused look. When she heard Chrysalis' voice, she opened her eyes wide and turned to look at her. "Y-your majesty!" she stammered, bowing.
"Why are you calling me..." Chrysalis trailed off, immediately noticing Sweetie had changed. She frowned. "You have a cutie mark."
Sweetie looked back at the broken star and note. "Uh, yes, I recently got it. Um. I promise I'm on your side!" She bowed again. "The glade is dark and quiet," Sweetie said softly.
Chrysalis' eyes widened and she put her hoof firmly on Sweetie's mouth. "The spider’s web full,” she muttered in reply. "How do you even know that, Sweetie?" she shook her head. "You're not a changeling. You're still a pony... but you're not my sister!"
"Your... sister?" Sweetie Belle blinked. "Uh..." she shook her head. "Okay, this is going to sound weird, but... I am Sweetie Belle, just from another dimension."
Chrysalis stared at Sweetie Belle for a moment. "Okay, you have been lying to me all this time and Purity put you up for this, didn't she?"
"Rarity!" Chrysalis snapped. "My sister! Your sister!"
"Rarity is your sister?!" Sweetie Belle gasped.
Chrysalis turned around and started pacing. "This is not real. My sister did not just get replaced by herself from another universe. I'm just having a breakdown. Breathe, Chrysalis, breathe. When you look at her, she's going to be the same old Sweetie Belle, bored out of her mind and asking how we're getting out of here."
When she looked back, Sweetie Belle still had that strange cutie mark and was looking at her in obvious amusement. "I think I'm missing something here," inter-dimensional Sweetie-Belle said. "We're family?"
"I feel like I had this conversation earlier," Chrysalis muttered. "Yes, we are. To make a story short: Your sister Rarity is my sister Pupa, she's always been a unicorn and always a changeling. It was a weird thing that happened and they became one thanks to my older sister saving both their lives. I know it's complicated but—"
"Ooh! I get it! Both souls became one and they shared a body!" Sweetie nodded. "That makes sense!"
Chrysalis blinked. "It does?"
"Of course!" Sweetie nodded. "If one soul can be fragmented into several pieces, it makes sense that two young souls would be able to be molded into one and grow as a single entity."
"Okay, now I know you're not my Sweetie Belle, she wasn't that smart."
"Anyway, there's still the matter at hoof," Chrysalis gestured to the cell. "We need to get out of here and get to Twilight." She sighed. "I had intended to find a way where Sweetie would not be in danger..."
"I can take care of myself," Sweetie Belle said.
Chrysalis gave her a level look. "Very well then." She walked to a seemingly random wall and touched it with her horn. The wall shuddered and slowly opened, revealing the halls outside. "My daughters forgot one very important thing," she said, smirking. "Even if they 'took over' I still am the Queen, and the Hive belongs to me."
"That's pretty impressive!" Sweetie Belle remarked. "A symbiotic relationship with not only the changelings, but the Hive itself? How come you never told me that?"
Chrysalis rolled her eyes. "Until now you were not a high level spy of the Changeling Intelligence." She took a deep, calming breath. "How did you become a high-ranking spy in my army?"
Sweetie Belle smiled. "I tried really, really hard."
Chrysalis just shook her head in disbelief.
"Oh, and you taught me to sing too!" Sweetie Belle called over her shoulder as she cantered past.
"What?! Come over here you little twerp! You have to tell me how you managed to do that one! And no half-answers!"
"So, you're looking for a purple crystal that has a lot of magic inside," Chrysalis summarized as they made their way through the hallways. "That's easy, mother had one just like you described fitted at the top of the throne." She pointed in the direction they were going. "She thought it was a particularly strong empathy gem. But it never worked the same way, and if it has Twilight's knowledge, it's no surprise it didn't work for her or me."
Sweetie nodded. "Although it doesn't seem that you're evil..."
Chrysalis stopped. "I am ruthless, Sweetie Belle," she said slowly and deliberately. "My regrets are things I deal with in a manner of minutes if they exist. There is only one..." she looked down at Sweetie. "...well, two, soft spots for me now. But as much as I love my sister and sister," she turned to glare ahead. "My throne and my queendom are my priorities,"
Sweetie nodded as they resumed walking. "That's more like the Queen Chrysalis I know," Sweetie said, keeping her eyes on the hallway. She hesitated.
"What?" Chrysalis asked, immediately catching her sister's reaction.
"I... think you're happier, in this world, than in the last one," Sweetie Belle explained. "I spent almost a whole year meeting with you there and... you only smiled sincerely once."
Chrysalis was quiet until they reached two large double doors. She took a deep breath and nodded. "I have regained much these last few weeks," she explained. "Maybe that's the difference, though I'm sure there's more."
Sweetie watched Chrysalis activate her magic, horn aglow, and order the doors to open.
The throne room was large, although not as big as Celestia's. It was certainly darker, with little decorations other than the throne it, which had, as Chrysalis had said, a purple, glowing gem at the top.
Sweetie and Chysalis approached the throne. "Well, this is it," Sweetie said, her magic wrenching the fragment from it. "Are you sure you're fine with me taking it?"
Chrysalis rolled her eyes. "As much as I enjoy chatting with a Lieutenant Spy, I'd rather have my regular sister back, if you don't mind." She smirked. "Besides, her face when she wakes up sitting on that throne will be priceless."
Sweetie Belle chuckled and nodded, sitting down on the throne and giving Chrysalis one amused glance. "You really are different here. I like you."
Chrysalis opened her mouth to say something, but at that moment the fragment vanished, along with Sweetie Belle's cutie mark, leaving an unconscious filly sitting on the throne.
Several changelings rushed in, alarmed by the magic they hand sensed and the flash of light. They stopped and stared at their Queen when she turned around to face them with a smirk. "My loyal subjects."
"My Queen!" One of the changelings saluted. "Did you capture this unicorn filly? Do you want us to take her to prison?"
Chrysalis shook her head, smiling as she heard a small cough and a groan behind her. "No... just follow my lead."