Bags of sugar, some bough, some stolen, were dragged down the stairs and into the cavernous city below… Already, one block of the city had an eerie green glow to it, the buildings, once hollow ruins, now were slowly being covered in chitinous growths… The creatures holding on to the bags of sugar burst into green flames and took the shape of changelings, using their wings to fly as they carried the bags, each weighing dozens of kilos, and flew down to hover over a pit, filled with water that glowed a bright green by the magic flowing through it. They cut the bags open and dropped the sugars into the pit, before tossing the bags away in a growing trash pile.
Some of the enchanted water was being syphoned off by vein-like tubes of artificial flesh, and into separate, smaller, pools. Off in once sector of the hive, changeling biomancers were drawing the chemicals from the pool and transforming it into chitin, bioplasma, and pseudoflesh which that merged with the walls of the abandoned buildings, expanding the hive. If sugars couldn’t be obtained, the changelings came back with coal, plant matter, animal carcases, algae, petroleum, and whatever form of biomass they could obtain, still, glucose and sucrose was the highest priority.
In one of the reservoirs that was being filled with the biomass, a changeling dumped canisters and crystals of the human dust, it swirled and made the liquid turn an even brighter green and go opaque, a few spells were added to the mixture, and it was then pumped into another fleshy tube to be distributed to the cells of the growing hive-form… The hive was a living creature, a chitinous shell with flesh and blood, with the Queen acting as the brain of the artificial bioform, able to control the being…
Slowly, the veins and arteries of the fleshy creature, all extending from the pool of dilute biomass that acted as its heart, glowed a bright green that could even be seen through the chitin shell of the beast. Then, large green crystals grew all around the expanding hive, acid dust…
Chrysalis lead a changeling to one of the pools of biomatter, “Get in…” She said.
“Y-Yes, my queen,” The organism took a few hesitant steps, then she walked into the pool until she was fully submerged, eyes screwed shut, the queen wouldn’t waste the life of a changeling unless she had to, she wouldn’t drown.
Chrysalis raised her horn and weaved her magic into the pool, changelings, like all organisms, were comprised of hydrocarbons, and Chrysalis was a master of biomancy, it was the reason she was queen… She felt the flesh of her subject, she felt the atoms of hydrogen and carbon and phosphorus and oxygen, in both the water and the creature inside that water… She pulled and pushed, moulding those atoms like clay, nothing happened at first, but slowly, the changeling’s legs grew longer, as biomass was added to them, and her neck grew out, her wings grew larger, but her horn shrunk, as biomass was taken from it… Chrysalis changed the structure of her subject’s eyes, like a hybrid of an eagle and cat’s eyes, and grew a pair of long and sensitive antennae from the sides of the subject’s head.
When that changeling stepped out of the pool, she was a different organism than when she entered, she blinked, her eyelids now sideways, Chrysalis nodded, “Good, now, breed,” She said, commanding the organism to procreate, the changeling gladly accepted the order and marched off to the recently constructed breeding pit… In Equestria, it was necessary to limit the breeding potential of the hive, and the queen enforced this by lowering fertility and increasing the time it took for changeling larvae to develop, now she had reversed those changes, numbers were needed, and with her mastery over changeling biology, she was able to give her subjects a nearly three-hundred precent fertility rate, and increased the speed of changeling development, it would only be a few weeks until she had completely rebuilt the hive, only a month until their numbers will octuple. The new changeling subspecies, their eyes and antennae, would be Chrysalis’ scouts, able to fly much higher and expend less energy with their larger wings, and able to see and smell and feel much further…
Chrysalis then turned, she was running low on magic after that last transfiguration, but there was still more work to be done in the hive, tomorrow she would need to create the first of her new warrior breeds that she had planned, and, perhaps those symbiote bioforms she had designed would be a welcome addition… She summoned orbs of flesh, miniature brains, that she used to store information, and inspected the memories planted in them, these contained all her plans.
She inspected the symbiote plans… The humans had their airships and automobiles and other advanced forms of transportation, the changelings had none of those things, and Chrysalis knew how helpful such machines would be, so, she had come up with large, brainless, organisms, that a changeling could merge into and act as the brain of that organism for a given period of time, some were designed to haul biomass in giant vacuoles, while others could carry changelings, or food subjects, in pods. Some were combat bioforms, with dust crystals embedded into their flesh, or giant horns that could cast spells. One design she liked, a massive being, standing on three legs that each towered dozens of metres into the air, and had dust-ejectors built into its back, that could fire dust crystals down on targets, and a horn built into a rotating, eye-like, organ located in the front of the creature, to act as a spellcasting turret. Yes, that would be her next creation… But first, she needed to replenish her magic…
Already, dozens of humans and faunus had been captured and replaced, most were stored in pods so their magic may be syphoned to the lesser bioforms, but those creatures, the grimm, were a far better source of magic, unfortunately, they didn’t have physical bodies, so they couldn’t be harvested, simply consumed, luckily, they seemed to be everywhere, and this cave, in particular, had thousands of the grimm… Many were stored in pods themselves to be saved for later, but, no matter how many they consumed or captured, more seemed to come crawling out of the caves… Chrysalis needed to know where those organisms came from...
Sweetie Belle had a book in her hands, Tukson just walked out into the back to deal with some inventory, the moment he left, Sweetie but the book back on the shelf, open to the page she was inspecting, and channelled her magic into the book… A moment later, Sweetie disappeared, and a little drawing of her manifested inside the pages. She hummed to herself as she walked along the words, danced across the pages, and felt her form soak up the information the book provided, she didn’t need to read the words to get at their meaning, she simply needed to sit there, observe a bit, and soak up the knowledge stored within the pages… The book was talking to her, not in any comprehensible language, not in any language at all other than pure information, the language of magic.
Despite her mind being loaded with the contents of the book, Sweetie could still perceive the world outside, she could hear the noise of Tukson unpacking boxes in the back, she could see the entire store from her perch on the shelf, even if she flew off to another page in a different part of the book, “Huh, this would make a great way to spy on ponies…” Sweetie quietly muttered to herself, luckily no one was present to notice the fact that the book had just talked.
Outside, Sweetie could see through the windows that two figures were approaching the store… The bell ringed as a woman, dark-skinned and green-haired, wandered in, by her clothing and the pistols strapped to her back she looked like a trainee huntress. She was quickly followed by a similarly huntmanesque boy, with silver hair and pale skin. The boy went off to inspect some books as the girl approached the counter, ringing the bell.
“Be right there!” Tukson shouted from the back room, he walked in, carrying a large stack of books, “Welcome to Tukson’s book trade, home to every book under the sun…” He paused as he put down his load, “How may…” He paused again, taking in the customers, to Sweetie, he seemed suddenly a bit suspicious of these newcomers, “How may I help you.”
“Just browsing!” The boy said from a corner of the shop.
“I was wondering,” The green-haired girl began, “Do you have any copies of the Theif and the Butcher…”
“Yes, we do.”
“Would you… Like a copy?”
“No, just wondering.”
In the back, the boy slammed the book he was inspecting closed, and something in Tukson’s stance shifted, he stared, suspiciously, at the customers. Sweetie felt worried, and although she was currently just a magical consciousness inhabiting a book, she felt herself go cold. “Oh, what about Violet’s Garden, in paperback?”
“He’s got it, hardback too…” The boy muttered from the corner.
“Ooh, options are nice…”
“Eeh,” The boy continued, slamming the book down, “No pictures… Hey? Have any comics?”
“Near the front…” Tukson said, his voice carrying a feeling of aggression, and Sweetie found magic was slowly building around her.
“Oh! No, wait,” The girl began, in a loud voice that lowered to a threatening half-whisper, “What about, Third Crusade…”
Something in Tukson’s stance changed again, and he flinched, eyeing the customers, he replied, “Umm… I… Don’t believe we carry that one…”
“Oh,” The silvery boy said.
“What was this place called again?” The smirking girl continued.
“Tukson’s Book Trade…”
“And, you’re Tukson?”
“So, I take it, you’re the one who came up with the catchphrase.”
The boy in the back moved over a bit as he said, “And, what was it again?”
Tukson sighed, “Tukson’s Book Trade, home to every book under the sun…”
“Except, the Third Crusade…”
“It’s just a catchphrase…”
“It’s false advertising!”
“You shouldn’t make a promise you can’t keep, Tukson…” The girl began. In the back, the boy started messing with a control on the wall that slowly dimmed the room and blacked out the windows, Sweetie had a bad feeling about this, but decided to wait it out… She was just glad that Scootaloo and Apple Bloom had refused to come along since they would have already attacked these creeps… “I hear, you’re planning on leaving, moving all the way to Vacuo, your brothers in the White Fang wouldn’t be happy to hear that, and neither are we… You know who we are, don’t you?”
“Yes,” Tukson replied, shaking just a bit… The girl backed away from the counter, but Tukson didn’t seem to notice this as he kept his eyes still stuck on the space where the girl was previously standing, Sweetie saw some kind of greenish fuzz in the air where the girl used to be standing, and she got the feeling that some kind of illusion was being cast, a poor illusion though, as even a novice illusionist back in Equestria wouldn’t have let any of the magical energy leak out in such an obvious way.
“And, you know why we’re here?”
“Yes…” He replied, grimly, and Sweetie felt the atmosphere turn sinister, she was still watching the display from her position inside the book, the animated girl was standing in the print, raising Lapis Luminatus from its position on her back. As Tukson replied, his eyes darted across the room and spotted the girl in the book, he was confused for a split second, then suddenly relieved as he saw the halberd-drawing pointed right at the figures in the room. His sudden confidence seemed to, ever so slightly, take the customers aback.
“So,” The girl said, “Are you going to fight back?”
“I don’t have to…” Tukson finished, his reply seemed not to be what either of the two expected, but they didn’t have any time to reply, as there was a sudden flash of minty green from the book, and it unleashed a brilliant bolt of lightning right at the girl, who was suddenly thrown across the room with a scream and smashed into the bookcase.
The boy turned to spot Sweetie Belle appearing from the book, right as Tukson jumped him and knocked him to the ground, the boy tried to punch and kick back, but Tukson had him pinned. The girl got back up from the bookcase and drew her pistols, but they were both suddenly captured in fields of green and thrown across the room out of her hands, Sweetie leapt on her and kicked her to the ground.
The boy gave a harsh kick and knocked Tukson to the ground, the kick sounding like a gunshot, and Tukson shined with a brown field that vanished a moment later… Then, the boy turned and ran, leaping out the door… Sweetie’s vision suddenly blurred with emerald-green light and she was stunned for a second, the world blurry as someone tried to cast an illusion spell on her, she replied with a wave of magical force in all direction, she heard the windows shatter, and books go flying everywhere, and when her vision cleared, she saw that she had kocked the girl out of the window, who bore a look of anger, quickly turning to worry, as she saw all the people staring at her, she then ran out of sight…
Tukson gave a grunt from where he lay on the floor. “Oww… Q-Quick thinking, didn’t know you could hide in books like that, but thanks for saving me.”
“No problem, sorry about trashing your bookstore…”
“This place was going to be trashed anyway once I was done with it…”
“Who were they, they clearly weren’t thieves…”
“N-None of your, concern, just help me clean this place up, and when the police come, help with whatever you can…”
Sweetie’s eyes gazed the room, she didn’t know how police here in Vale handled things, but she knew how the Equestrian police worked, and she raised the discarded pistols using her telekinesis, being careful not to tamper with the evidence any more than necessary, placing them into a plastic bag to protect it.
After that, she helped Tukson to his feet and started sweeping around the room with her magic, putting books back into place.