“Twilight, did you eat my sandwich?” Rainbow asked quizzically, looking at her remarkably empty breakfast plate before shooting an irked glare at the innocent lavender bookworm.
“Nnope,” Twilight chirped innocently while pulling her book closer to her face.
Rainbow grimaced before looking down at her plate, despondent. Then her grin grew again. “Y’know, my sandwiches are high in carbs, Twilight.”
“So?” Twilight raised an eyebrow while peering past her book at the now foully smirking Rainbow Dash.
“Well, you kinda sit around reading books all day. My sandwich is probably going to make-” a flash of light interrupted Rainbow’s sentence. When the flash was gone, Rainbow had gone with it. In her place was a very confused looking… uh… insect thing that looked remarkably like Twilight.
“...What?” The bug asked.
“You FAT!” Rainbow finished her sentence while pointing a hoof forward mockingly. She then stopped when she realized she was no longer sitting in the library. Instead of pointing her hoof at the adorkable book horse she so loved to tease, she was instead pointing a hoof at a rather perplexed… thing that looked oddly offended by that comment.
Rainbow Dash appeared to be sitting at a table in some kind of restaurant, or maybe a cafe? Whatever the case, a chessboard sat between the wide-eyed pegasus and the equally wide-eyed bug creature thingy. A large cavernous space sat outside the window, and somehow Rainbow Dash had wound up on the side of the board that was winning the game.
“...Rainbow Dash…?” the giant bug-pony-thing muttered in apparent confusion.
“GWAH!?” Rainbow Dash blurted out, immediately opening her wings and taking to the air.
And getting a nasty bump on colliding into a very solid ceiling.
The bug just watched Rainbow Dash fall back to the ground, her perplexed expression never leaving for a moment. “OK, as amusing as this is… Twilight, you can stop whatever prank you’re playing now.”
“What in Mom’s name are you!?” Rainbow shouted out, though her alarm seemed to be slowly turning into anger. “Did you foalnap me? Where is Twilight? I’ll tell Mom on you!”
“How childish,” the big bug deadpanned. “Seriously, you can both stop it now. And stop acting like you don’t know who I am, it’s really annoying.”
“I DON’T KNOW WHO YOU ARE!” Rainbow yelled, throwing her forelegs wide in exasperation. “WHERE AM I?!”
Any other patrons of the cafe were quickly vacating, all of them also very insect-like in appearance. They cast nervous glances towards the bug and Rainbow, soon leaving the two of them alone.
The bug seemed to concentrate for a moment, her eyes narrowing and her head tilting slightly, almost as if she were having some kind of internal conversation. And then her eyes widened again, but thirty percent more than before.
“Why thirty percent? The joke is twenty,” Discord remarked with a frown.
“Because I like to go one step beyond…” Discord Dos commented cheekily.
A small bit of panic seemed to be setting in upon the thing at the table, and her agitation did little to help Rainbow Dash’s ease return.
“I can’t find her…” the bug muttered, and then suddenly shot up from the table and crossed the distance between her and Rainbow Dash. “WHY CAN’T I HEAR HER!?”
“...Uh, hear who… weird… sharp-toothed bug thing?” Rainbow asked, suppressing the urge to gulp at the sight of all those fangs.
“Twilight Sparkle! My daughter! WHO ELSE YOU RAINBOW HAIRED TURKEY!?”
“I’m not a turkey, you’re a chicken,” Rainbow deadpanned, though immediately regretted it as the bug’s eye twitched. “And I mean… wait… Did you just say Twilight was your daughter?”
“Well, of course. Or did you forget EVERYTHING that has happened in the past year?” the bug exclaimed in increasing exasperation.
“The last year?” Rainbow raised an eyebrow. “In the last year I moved to Ponyville with Twilight from Canterlot, got the elements and now I work as a volunteer with the weather teams.”
She blinked. “Volunteer?”
“Well, yeah. Apparently it’s not exactly proper protocol for royalty to have a commoner’s job,” Rainbow pouted. “It sucks, really.”
Something seemed to be dangerously close to fizzing out in the bug’s brain. “...Royalty. You? The egocentric pegasus who apparently represents loyalty?”
Rainbow huffed. “Egocentric? ...Yeah, I guess,” she conceded before frowning. “Why are you so surprised? This has been a thing for, like, eight years now. Have you been living under a rock this whole time?” she then looked up at the roof, which was very rocky indeed. “Yeah… looks like it.”
“It’s a complex series of caverns making up a hive structure!” the bug shot back. “And in the last eight years that has NOT happened. You and Twilight only met AT Ponyville and we met when I attacked Canterlot with a legion of drones!”
“Uh… you what now?” Rainbow asked, taking a step back. “I’m pretty sure I’d remember a siege on where I live. Mom would never shut up about it if something like that happened.”
The bug simply did not seem to know what to make of any of what Rainbow Dash said, only for a small tilt of her head to suggest the proverbial light bulb had lit.
“Maybe I’m thinking too much of this, and this really is some stupid prank you and Twilight decided to pull on me, but…” the bug sighed. “What year is it?”
And when Rainbow Dash told her the year, the bug only seemed to be more and more resigned.
“Of course. These things ALWAYS happen to her…” she muttered. “OK, in short… You’re a year in the future. The Rainbow Dash I know is NOT royalty… thank the hive. So I must surmise you’re from an alternate cosmic timeline.”
“Uh…” Rainbow blinked while tilting her head. “OK, now I can suddenly believe you’re her bug mom.”
“Seriously, it’s like looking into a mirror to the past with my daughter…” the bug deadpanned. “Also, not a bug. Changeling. Say it with me, changeling-.”
“I’m not deaf, you know.” Rainbow snorted in offense.
“-and I am Chrysalis,” Chrysalis continued, not listening to the upstart. “Queen of the Badlands Hive, and mother to Princess Twilight Sparkle. Now, you are clearly not the Rainbow I know so let’s start again… who the fuck are you?”
Rainbow cringed. “Ew, do you kiss your mother with that mouth?”
“My mother got eaten by a dragon.”
“Sorry,” Rainbow rubbed the back of her head sheepishly. “Well, uh… I’m Princess Rainbow Dash, adopted daughter to Princess Celestia. Though please don’t use my title. Seriously, it makes my skin crawl.”
“Adopted?” Chrysalis said questioningly. “What? Did Windy Whistles and Bow Hothoof-”
“Yes, yes they did,” Rainbow quickly cut Chrysalis off. “No, I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Sorry,” Chrysalis apologised, suddenly feeling like history just repeated itself.
“Deja vu,” Carduus commented over the hive.
“Are you listening in on this?” Chrysalis demanded, her face turning into an annoyed scowl.
“Er… no?” Carduus shyed.
“What? I’m not even related to-”
Chrysalis then shut Carduus out and returned her attention to Rainbow, who noticed the scowl on her face. “Er…”
“Forgive me, my Captain was spying on us.” Chrysalis remarked with a stern and disapproving glower directing out the window.
“Oh,” Rainbow blinked and then looked around a bit. “Okay, now that I’m not freaking out, I gotta admit… this place of yours is actually kinda cool looking. Not enough colors, though.”
“We’re changelings, if we wanted to be seen we would use colors, but we evidently do not,” Chrysalis pointed out, and then snorted. “Honestly, who could ever imagine a changeling race as colourful as ponies?”
“She has no idea,” Discord chortled.
“In both universes,” Discord Dos agreed. “Thorax and Twilight… DEATH BATTLE!”
“Does that deer-ling even happen in this one, or are you getting mixed up with my and old Tone Shift’s world, where the dimwitted stallion hangs with his darling fillyfriend?” Discord asked.
“Meh, time shall tell.”
Rainbow lifted a forehoof. “Me.”
Chrysalis cringed. “Well… clearly you don’t know us very well, yet.”
“Well, not that this hasn’t been fun…” Rainbow started, inching closer towards the door. “But I should really go home now.”
Chrysalis rolled her eyes. “If I knew how to do that, I would have punted you home the moment I laid eyes on you. I’m a Queen, I am very busy, and you are an annoyance.”
“You appeared and now my little nymph is missing,” Chrysalis pointed out with a small snarl. “I GET TO BE RUDE!”
“And here I thought things had calmed down,” Rainbow muttered under her breath before shrugging. “Well, I don’t know what to tell ya. I’m just as confused as you are. So you go ahead and fume some more while I go actually do something… bye.”
And then she bolted through the door, leaving Chrysalis to stare at the exit in surprise.
And then the Changeling Queen just sighed. “Could one of the couple thousand guards in this place please glue that pegasus to the ground? I have a feeling I’ll need her…”
“If I do it, will I become un-grounded?” Carduus asked, snark clear in his voice.
Okay, this was NOT how Rainbow Dash saw this day going.
So she decided to do a mental checklist, Twilight style, of all the things that cascaded her into the position in which she found herself.
One: A simple teasing session between Twilight and her.
Two: An angry bug Queen in an alien environment in, if Chrysalis was to be believed, an alternate cosmi-whatever.
Three: Attempting to flee to the clear skies she could see above this massive hole in the ground, slamming into what turned out to be a shield covering said hole and crashing.
Four: Being tackled by a bajillion guards, and glued to the floor with some green… stuff.
Rainbow Dash was not having a good day.
She would find some way to blame Twilight though, she was certain of that.
Now she was surrounded by numerous changelings, all glaring at her and eyeing her cautiously. She would have waved sarcastically, but her legs were still kind of stuck in what she could only assume was changeling mucus. So, she just opted to stand tall and try to look as regal as she could.
Not the worst attempt Chrysalis had ever seen, but a far cry from the other royalty she had met.
The Queen in question was about to ask Rainbow something when one of her guards pinged her over the hive. “Uh, My Queen? You said you have Rainbow Dash held in the atrium, right?”
“...Because she just walked in through the front door with the rest of the element bearers.”
“Odd,” Discord noted. “I don’t remember the Element Bearers visiting LAST time we did this…”
“We were so focused on the Chryssie catfight that you clearly didn’t notice them,” Discord Dos explained.
“Uh, uh, shit, um!” Chrysalis began to panic a little bit. “Just, uh, HIDE HER!” She pointed a hoof at Rainbow Dash.
“Wait, whaoooooOAAAAAHHH!” Rainbow began to question, though her words devolved into a panicked shout as a drone picked her up.
The drone looked around for a moment. “Uh… Where exactly?”
“I don't know, just stick her behind a tapestry or something!” Chrysalis shouted, and then paused. “Hm, that felt oddly familiar…”
The Drone nodded and then zipped over to a tapestry hanging up over a balcony. Rainbow struggled a bit, now that her legs were free, but then the drone stopped and audibly gulped. “Uh oh…”
“Huh?” Rainbow asked. Wait, no she didn't… did she? It was her voice, but she didn’t say anything. Slowly, Rainbow looked and saw, uh… herself, standing on said balcony, looking up at her. She pointed. “Nice taste in disguises, but, you can drop it for now. The real me is here.”
“Oh no…” Chrysalis groaned from the ground floor, her eyes twitching under their lids.
Rainbow stared at herself for a good long moment. “Uh… I’m not a changeling,” she finally managed. The drone simply nodded.
The other Rainbow lifted into the air, floated up to herself and looked her over. “You’re right. No changeling could possibly be able to match the perfect subtleties that is my awesome.”
“Oh my word…” Chrysalis groaned out again before starting to buzz up towards them.
Then something crashed. Everyone paused and looked around. “What was that?” the drone asked worriedly.
Both Rainbows then looked off to the side, staring dumbly at a crack appearing on the surface of the wall. “Uh…” they said in unison. “Is that new?”
“Again?” Discord wined.
“Yes, I’m afraid so.” Discord Dos pouted.
The crask then grew exponentially, revealing an odd amalgamation of… uh… energy behind it. Through this swiftly growing hole, Rainbow (the royal one) spotted a truly odd sight. She saw the interior of the golden oaks library, with a changeling version of Twilight laying on her back on a metal examination table with Pony Twilight standing over her. Both wore way-too excited grins on their face. Also, Pony Twilight was holding a pokey-stick.
“POKE ME!” Changeling Twilight proclaimed.
“POKING!” Twilight answered.
“TWILIGHT?” Everyone else cried at once, including the newly arrived rest of the group. The two Twilights looked up.
Princess Twilight blushed and waved at Chrysalis. “Hi Mom… uh, I can explain?”
“This is one fetish I didn’t need to know about,” Chrysalis muttered, facehoofing heavily.