"You...You did it, my queen! You killed the beast!"
"She really did."
"Of course she did, that's why she's the queen!"
"Was there any doubt that she wouldn't? By the way Skel, you owe me your love ration now."
Seeing and hearing her changelings alive and happy, Chrysalis couldn't help but let the smallest of smiles escape her as she basked in the glory of her victory. And as she stood atop a shard of what used to be the large vase that solidified her victory, she couldn't have felt more alive as she stared upon the remains of her foe. Though with its body thoroughly and graphically smooshed, save for the one exposed and still twitching leg, there was little else to see. Yeesh.
"Ugh." Turning her head, Chrysalis stepped down from her perch and proceeded down the path that they had come from, wanting more than anything to leave the scene lest the smell and sight get to her. "Come along my children. Let's return to the swarm at once."
Despite what she said however, the rest of her guards did not immediately follow. The reason for this? Well it only took a moment for Chrysalis to look over her shoulder at the guards all circled around their fallen comrade to realize her mistake.
Power-walking over, the guards gave her space to see what had become of their valiant friend, and to put it quite frankly, it wasn't good.
The changeling in question looked to be severely injured. His armor had been removed and put off to the side, and for good reason as it allowed the others to see that for where the acid had initially made contact, the chitin had been stripped away, leaving the green and bandaged flesh below exposed and partially burned by its alien contents. Luckily the armor was just thick enough to absorb most of the acid, but even still though.
"Commander Brute." Chrysalis said, turning to the commander who was hunched over and examining the injured ling. "What's his condition?"
Glancing at his queen, Brute continued his examination before sighing.
"Not good, my queen." He then stood up. "While it's a miracle that the acid didn't break through the flesh, he is still suffering from some sort of poison." He then paused as the guard coughed violently, splattering green-purplish blood over the brown floor. "I've done what I could to slow the process, but we still need to get him back to the medics and have him fully cured before his condition worsens."
Grimacing at the report, Chrysalis nodded before turning to her other guards.
"I need one of you to bring this one back to the swarm. Who'll it be?" Immediately, five hooves went up. "Okay then Um..you." She said, pointing to a guard in the back. "See to it that this one is quickly escorted back, and stay with him until we return. Got it? Good. Now go!"
Nodding his head, the volunteer approached his friend, carefully lifted him up, placed him over his back, and with a buzz of his wings, took off.
Seeing the two go, Chrysalis sighed before turning to the others.
"Alright then. We'll be flying out next. Let's g-"
"Wait, my queen!"
Turning to one who interrupted her, she raised a brow.
"What is it?"
He bowed his head.
"I apologize, my queen. But we won't be able to fly out of here on account of all this webbing." He then motioned to his wings, which appeared to be glued to his back by the white substance. The other guards, including the three changelings they just rescued were also in a similar bind as well. "Th-The only reason why Skel was able to fly out was because he was guarding the rear."
Blinking, Chrysalis looked incredulously at the saddened guard, then at the others, then to Brute who merely shrugged.
"I-I see. Wait a moment. If that's the case, then why did all of you volunteer to carry the injured one back?"
"Any one of us would've gladly carried him on hoof back to the swarm, my queen." One guard said stoically. The others hastily nodded.
Whether she considered that extremely brave or exceedingly idiotic, words still escaped Chrysalis as she tried to comment on that. Instead, she simply shook her head and began to walk back the way they came.
"Very well. Let's just head back to the swarm on hoof then."
Seeing her go, Commander Brute looked to the remaining guards before issuing two to carry the unconscious changelings while another supported the third in walking and the last one took up the rear guard. Once they were all set, He then caught up to the queen while the others followed.
"Wow, that was crazy, huh?" One of the guards asked as the changeling on his back snoozed away. The other changeling-carrying changeling beside him nodded.
"For real. I'm just glad we made it out in one piece." He said before grimacing. "Still, shame what happened to Kino. Hope he's going to be okay."
The guard helping the conscious changeling along chucked.
"Don't worry Drax. I'm sure Kino's going to pull through. He's lucky like that." He then turned to the changeling at his side. "Speaking of being lucky. I'm surprised that that giant bug didn't make a meal out of you or your friends before we got there."
The changeling chuckled dryly.
"Yes. It is rather strange that it didn't eat me when it had the freedom to do so." He shrugged. "But I guess it was likely because it was saving us for the others."
The guard smiled. "Heh, yeah. Maybe."
"Wait a second." He said, suddenly stopping to fully look at the changeling. "What do mean by oth-"
"More monsters. That's what you meant. Now I get it, now I bucking get it!"
"Shut up Cicade!"
"You shut up Zenomor! Cause I'll shut up when we stop getting attacked by giant monsters!"
"Be quiet the both of you and just keep running!"
"Watch out soldier!"
"Whoa! Heh. Thanks for the save, Burrow!"
Cursing to the heavens above, Chrysalis huffed tiredly as she willed her legs to press on despite them screaming to do otherwise. Glancing to the side, she saw that Brute was keeping pace with her despite the difference in their heights. Stupid Brute and his dummy strong legs. Glancing over her shoulder also didn't favor relief as she saw her guards struggling to keep ahead of the two massive black beasts hungrily crawling after them. And if the hissing and snapping mandibles weren't enough, the occasional volleys of acid being launched at her changelings' backsides was just the icing on the cake. Luckily one of her soldiers was able to spot the projectiles in time and warn the rest, though how he could with that helmet of his covering his eyes was anyling's guess.
Still, Chrysalis was hoping for another miracle right about now, and at this point, she'd settle for just about anything really. And just as they skirted around another corner, It looked as though it was Chrysalis's lucky day today as that large cylinder they had passed by came into view.
How did that translate to being lucky? Well if anything, they could at least use it to impede the monsters' progress. But just as Chrysalis and her changelings were about to pass by the object, they all slowed to a stop as a strange noise came from the creatures behind them.
Turning around, Chrysalis and her kin were somewhat surprised to find that the large creatures halted in their chase, their movements hesitant as they stared at the changelings, or rather, at what was in front of them.
Noticing this hesitation, and after looking between the monsters and the pictures on the cylinder's surface, Chrysalis was quick to put two and two together.
"You were right, Commander Brute." She suddenly said, drawing the commander's attention. "This thing is a weapon." She then looked to the creatures, smiling. "And those things know it."
With their worst fear seemingly uncovered, the giant spiders both took a step back, an action that gave the changeling queen an idea. Turning back to the cylinder, Chrysalis approached it before, to the surprise of every creature present, she began to push it. Gritting her fangs, she grunted as she tried to push the cylinder forward with her head, an action that gave the spiders pause while her changelings simply looked on in utter bafflement.
Blinking from his stupor however, it didn't take long for Brute to realize his queen's unspoken intentions and after doing so, he was quick on the follow-up. Turning to his guards, he barked.
"Well don't just stand there. Help your queen!"
Sobering from their own stupors, the guards rushed to their queen's aid, taking up positions on both her sides before beginning to push as well. And not a second after they began to grunt and hiss did Brute decide to join, taking a bit of a running start before using his head as a ram to kick-start the can into motion. And boy did that get the job done. For as his helmet made contact, the cylinder suddenly lurched forward, and with the combined might of the changelings and their queen, the cylinder slowly began to roll forth, the metallic groaning of the object seemingly syncing with its straining pushers.
But seeing as they were only pushing the can away as apposed to using it, the two spiders looked to one another before coming to the realization that these creatures didn't actually know how to use it. And that little fact alone was just enough to completely dash away the spiders' fears, leaving two monster arachnids to share a spider chuckle before slowly approaching their prey, smug as could be.
Seeing their pursuers closing in, Chrysalis swore under her breathe as the jig was apparently up now. But would that stop her? Nope. Because that just gave her all the more reason to go all in now.
Tapping into the last of her magical reserves, Chrysalis used what little magic she had to engulf the cylinder in a green aura. Then with a wave of her horn, she pushed.
Completely caught by surprise, Chrysalis had little time to properly react before a strange mist erupted from one end of the cylinder, engulfing her and those changelings to her right. Caught in the spray, Chrysalis's focus shattered and the aura holding the can disappeared as well, allowing nature to take the wheel as the force of the can's spray sent it rolling off course and into a wall.
But all that really didn't matter at the moment for when the spray had hit Chrysalis, she was on the floor in an instant, her limbs apparently succumbing to the unknown effects of the gas as she coughed and gagged violently. Blinking through teary eyes, she saw that the guards who had been on her right had also suffered the same fate as they too were reduced to a limp, coughing state.
"My queen! Cough. Cough. Are you okay?!"
Though the world looked to be caught in a blurry haze, Chrysalis could still just make out the commander's worried features. Blinking a few more times, the haziness quickly faded away as all she could now see was Brute's teary blue eyes. Though whether those tears were for her or caused by the gas left a strange feeling in Chrysalis's heart as she was helped up by the changeling commander.
"Yes my queen, it's me." He said, grunting as he threw her hoof over his shoulder and boosted her up on to the other three hooves. "Are you alright? Are you hurt? Please tell me, my queen."
Looking down at her commander, Chrysalis was slow to respond as she looked to the others, seeing those who had been inflicted upon also being tended to by those who hadn't.
"I-I'm alright. Just cough cough just a little weak is all."
"Sigh. I'm just glad you're alive, my queen." Brute said before glancing to the side. "Though, it seems we won't be able to rest anytime soon.
Following his gaze, Chrysalis grimaced at the two spiders that stood a ways away from them, seemingly having witnessed their misfortune and having moved a bit farther back as a result.
"Tsk. Of course." She said, narrowing her eyes at the creatures as the two groups stood in a standoff.
Looking from the bugs to her changelings, Chrysalis was at a momentary loss on how to proceed. Sure, she could order her guards to do battle with the creatures, but considering the size difference between them, the acid that the creatures possess, and the current condition of herself and her guards, it didn't take a genius to know that the odds were definitely against them. A plan of transformation and deception perhaps? No, out of the question. With her magical reserves being practically nonexistent as they were now, she would be lucky to still be able to cast an illumination spell without keeling over. And even if she could transform into one of the abominations in front of her, it would still be for naught considering she had neither the strength to maintain said form, nor the knowledge about how the creatures of this world functioned, some uncanny similarities aside. Giant alien spiders were still giant alien spiders after all. What to do, what to do?
Eh, worth a shot.
Seeing all other potential options as worthless, Chrysalis bit the bullet as she resigned herself to committing such an unqueenly act. With a sigh and a grumble, Chrysalis closed her eyes and, after a second of hesitation, began.
'Uhm. Changeling Goddess above? Past Changeling queens before me? It's me, Chrysal- ahem, Queen Chrysalis. I uhm, sigh, look I know that no queen should resort to something so desperate and pathetic but...can you, any of you, help me out here? Me and my children that is. Can you like, help us...or something? Send me a message? Maybe grant me some magical power? Anything? ...P-Pl-Please?'
'Well...that was just a utter waste of-'
"My queen!" One of the guards suddenly yelled, causing Chrysalis to open her eyes. "Another one of those monsters is coming from the other side!"
Looking over, Chrysalis's dread rose to a crescendo as she did in fact spot the leg of another one of those insufferable creatures slowly creeping around a corner further up ahead. And as the creature's head and front half came into view, Chrysalis was already halfway through the process of cussing out every single one of her ancestors, changeling goddess included and repeated several times over, before she suddenly and rather shockingly realized that the spider wasn't crawling around the corner so much as it was actually dragging its front half forward.
And why was it dragging its upper half forward? Because it only had its upper half, as the rest of it was nowhere to be found, instead leaving behind a trail of green gore and guts which seeped and pooled from its open abdomen, or what remaining bits still classified as its abdomen.
Cried the spider as all nearby, yes even the spiders, flinched at its gurgling pleas for help. But in another shocking turn of events, the half-spider-half-paint-roller was forcibly silenced when a massive black and brown paw came into view, hovered over the trembling spider's form, and fell.
In an instant, the spider's life was snuffed from this world, its body reduced to a meat pancake in seconds as bones snapped and flesh was flattened, leaving only a twitching mess of green and black to be slowly dragged away out of the viewers' sight.
But where the view was hidden, the sound remained crystal clear to the mind as a horrifyingly cacophony of tearing and chewing left little to the imagination. And once the invisible feasting audibly ceased, hearts soon pounded and limbs quivered as all were shook at attention to the large, booming footfalls that steadily grew louder as, with a deathly slow and dare I say dramatic-as-hell entrance that could chill one to the very bone and or exoskeleton, the new challenger made their entrance known.
What first came into view from behind the corner was one massive paw, stained green from the fresh blood of its recent victim. Then came another paw, equally soiled as its mirror.
Then the maw appeared, a growling and panting thing with rows of razor sharp teeth that were caked in spider gore and complimented by strings of flesh and even a leg or two which still dangled from in between its partly opened fangs.
And finally the rest of its body revealed itself, and boy was it a heart-pounding crescendo and a half sight to behold. A massive body of mainly black with varying tones of brown that splattered its coat like paint, up to a tail of mostly light brown which was just as, if not more fluffier than the rest of the beast's coat, borderline cloud-like really, that curled over itself. Two more paws came into view, not as drenched in the blood of its meal as the front two were but instead hinted at the presence of strong muscles likely equipped to creatures of the hunting or fighting variety. Further passed its maw were also two massive, floppy ears that twitched and turned with its head, no doubt in search of its next meal.
Next meal. Next...meal.
Blinking from her horrified state, Chrysalis looked from her frozen soldiers, to the awe-struck spiders behind them, to the large cylinder beside them, and finally to the monster mutt that had yet to notice them. This idea of hers. It just might work.
'Brute can you hear me?'
'Wha- oh. Yes my queen, I can.'
'Good. Because right now I need you to get the others behind that thing beside us as quickly and as quietly as possible. Can you do that?'
'Well- I could, my queen. But why can't y-'
'Because I need to cast one last spell commander, and its hard enough as it is just keeping this connection steady. So can you please do what I ask of you?'
'...Yes, my queen.'
'Good. Then get ready, cause when I give the signal, I won't have much time after.'
'Alright, my queen...wait. What do you mean by-.'
Before he could finish, the mental connection between him and his queen was severed. Blinking, he looked at her only to find her charging up her horn. Meeting her eye, there was a silent moment between them before she suddenly nodded and so did he. Looking over to the others, he quickly sent a quick call over the local hivemind and, after seeing them brake from their stupors to answer it, he gave the order.
With their orders received, the other guards nodded and made their way around the can, and after all were behind it including Brute, he looked to his queen who simply nodded again before activating the spell she had been casting all the while.
Nothing outrageous mind you. In all honesty it was little more than a simple illumination spell with a bit more juice in it. But since Chrysalis was pretty much on her last legs magically-speaking, it had taken everything in herself to keep the spell stable as Brute and the guards hid. And once they were in place, All Chrysalis had to do from that point was condense the spell into a sphere, drop the spell-filled sphere, and dive for cover.
And not a moment after her chitin hit the floor behind the cylinder did the next part of her master plan fall into place.
Upon hitting the floor, the green orb burst, erupting in a bright light which lasted only for a second but still got the job done as the resulting flash and accompanying hisses of surprise were just enough of a oddity to capture the monster mutt's attention.
Turning its head, the beast regarded the two spiders with a tilt of its head before it proceeded towards them, leaving the group of changelings it passed by to go completely unnoticed as it advanced on the spiders which slowly advanced away from it. Or one of them did at least.
The other one, slightly bigger than its comrade but still dwarfed by the beast before it, attempted to stand its ground, choosing instead to face the creature head-on as opposed to fleeing, despite the obvious evidence that literally dripped from the monster's maw and paws strongly suggesting otherwise.
Yeah, maybe that whole heroic bit seemed cooler in the spider's head. But reality is a cruel mistress after all. And that fact was proven correct when the monster simply raised its paw and dropped it onto the spider, not enough to kill it instantly mind you, but just enough to reduce it to a pinned and struggling state.
Looking up from its second caught snack, the monster went to regard the other spider when it realized that the spider was already gone, the dust from its previous position kicked up as it had made its hasty escape while the beast was distracted. Huffing slightly at that, the beast set its sights back on the spider still squirming and hissing expletives under its paw and, with little care or worry, it simply lowered its head, bit down on the spider, and then simply lifted it back up. And with its fate pretty much sealed at this point, the spider could do nothing but squirm and hiss in the jaws of its executioner who, after giving the spider a moment to exhaust itself, casually closed its maw, sinking jaws into flesh and snuffing life from the world as the spider squirmed once, twitched twice, then finally went limp.
With its second meal now skewered in its fangs, the beast's tail wagged happily as it continued forward, hoping to catch up to the other spider as it left the one in its mouth to be thoughtfully chewed upon like some non-squeaking toy.
Still remaining unnoticed by the beast, Brute and the other changelings watched as it walked off in search of more food, apparently. Once it was a good distance away, he sighed in relief.
"Thank the changeling goddess above that that thing didn't find us." Watching it go, he chuckled grimly as he then turned to his queen. "Well, my queen. Your master plan really did save u-"
But once he had turned to her, his heart skipped a beat at the sight of her unconscious form.
Looking her over, he grimaced as the others also took notice and circled her downed self.
"What happened to her?" One guard asked.
"Is she..?" Another hesitantly wondered.
"She just fainted." He said, glancing at the guards beside him. "Likely due to an overuse of magic."
He then took care to get under her before lifting her up with a grunt.
"We need to get her back to the swarm so the medics can help me. Let's go."
Coming out of cover, Brute spared the massive mutt one last glance before he quickly headed off towards the others, his snoozing queen slung over his back while the other guards followed close behind, hoping against all else that their queen would be okay and knowing full well that they had a lot to share with the others once they returned.
Sadly though, that also meant that while they were thinking of the swarm and their queen, they were also oblivious to notice the ominous glint of a blue eye that most definitely noticed them.