When Queen Chrysalis awoke for the second time that day, she was, for a lack of a better term, pissy. Why? Two main reasons, actually. The first one was of course regarding her role as a ruler. Meaning that Chrysalis, being the all powerful and dominating bug-mare that she was, and a sexy one at that, had to always maintain a constant display of power and tactic, for as any and all great queens before her knew was one of, if not the most crucial factor when it came to commanding her subjects. After all, what semi-competent changeling would follow their queen if she appeared as weak as a newly hatched grub? Or as knowledgeable as one for that matter? Noling, that's who. Yet who was the one who led her own into the unknown, unknowing of the potential dangers that even a common drone would've spotted with ease? No. No, she knew it would've been dangerous and yet she dismissed them all as if they were myth. And because of that, not only did she put her life at risk, but Brute's, her guards', maybe even the whole of her hive for goddess's sake.
And that of course lead to the other reason why Chryissy was pissy. For not only was she just a leader, but a mother as well. Dash away all those rumors and remarks about her disinterest for her lings, uncaring if they felt pain or unconcerned when the few were fed and the many were left with rationed scraps.
She cared dammit! She always did! When it came to her enemies, oh sure! Call her heartless, call her cruel, call her anything and everything under the sun. But when it came to her changelings, her children...she always cared. She'd do just about anything for them. Changeling goddess above, between wagging war against Equestria itself and nearly breaking every law including those put in place by the creator, she pretty much had done everything she possibly, and technically impossibly, could have done for her little changelings. And yet what did all of that do for her in the end? Just prove to her that she was, without a doubt, a failure of a que-
"My queen!? MY QUEEN!"
Opening her eyes, Queen Chrysalis was met with the bewildered look of one of her lings, who not a moment ago had been trying to shake her awake. Blinking away tears (?), the royal brow was furrowed as the drone stepped back and breathed a sigh of relief.
"My queen! Oh thank the goddess above you're alright." The ling said, her heart rate returning to normal. "I-I feared the worst and assumed something alien was causing you ill."
"Oh?" Was all she could reply with. The changeling nodded.
"Oh yes! At least that's what I thought when you suddenly began to cry in your sleep and lash about."
"My queen, was there perhaps another reason why-"
"You will forget what you saw and never speak of any of this again. Am I clear?"
"O-Oh! Yes, my queen, of course!"
"Good. Now..." She trailed off, looking about and finding herself resting on a blanket laid in the corner within what seemed to be a large and shrouded structure. Cubed in shape and holding within its confines a number of massive tablets that where soon found out to actually be books of massive scale and varying volumes. How could she tell? The smell of aged paper was one giveaway. The five scribelings off to the side currently standing atop an open one and trying to make out the symbols they stepped upon and around was the other. On a side note, she noticed that the only sources of light for the room were either from the candles that rested around her blanket, or from the massive gaping hole on the wall behind and above her that shone light from outside and onto the pages of the book covered in crimson robes. "Where exactly are we?"
"Oh right! While you and the others were gone, one of the other changelings had found this place after flying through that big hole up there." She pointed up at the opening. "Didn't find much else besides those books over there...and some sticky rope, apparently." That last bit made Chrysalis shiver a bit. The changeling didn't notice. "Anyways, after you got back...or, well...when the commander carried you back..." a small blush spread across the queen's face. The changeling also didn't notice that. "He and Ruby decided to have you rest in here.
"Why?" She asked.
"Privacy." The drone responded before smiling. "They also didn't want the others to all be crowding around you while you recovered."
"Anyways, my queen. I was assigned by Commander Brute to see to your medical needs while you regain your strength and magical reserves."
Looking up at the changeling, it was only then that she just noticed the cute little, and most definitely stolen, white nurse's cap resting on the ling's head. She in turn beamed.
"Uh huh." Chrysalis nodded as she slowly rose to her holed hooves, almost fell due to their light shaking, and was righted with some aid from her medical aid. "And your name is..?"
"It's Sylphia, my queen. And it's an honor!"
"Right. Well thank you for your assistance, but I can handle walking just fine."
"Are you sure, my queen?"
Bowing her head, the little nurse stepped aside, allowing her queen space to move. And move she did, though after a few steps, she paused, looking back up to the opening in the wall. Sighing, she then began to put some energy into those wings of hers before the ling beside her quickly waved her off.
"Wait, my queen!"
"Please, my queen, you must save your energy."
"Well is there some other way out of this place?" The queen asked, raising a slightly irritant brow at the slightly shaking changeling.
"Oh, but of course my queen! Just over there actually." She said before pointing with a holed hoof over to the other wall on their right, which as Chrysalis looked over, saw for herself another exit. Though really, it was in actuality nothing more than a triangular hole cut, or more so sawed, through the wall with a bit of ripped tarp acting as a makeshift door, but hey, at least it was something.
"Hmm..." Chrysalis hummed before casually shrugging. "Very well. Come along." And so she went, her little nurse following after as she made for the door, tipped her head, passed through the tarp, and stepped into the open light.
Funny enough, only after the nurse followed her queen out of the massive box did one of the scribes still atop the open book finally blink awake from his cipher-stupor and look up and around, noting his queen's absence, before shrugging and simply returning to his deciphering once more without a second thought.
"Ever wonder why we're here, mate?"
"I mean, how we're still alive and all, mate. Ever wonder how we're still kicking even after all the stuff we've been through?"
"Really, mate? Like...never?"
"Huh...well after all the fighting and hiding and...and now that we're in this new place, I just got to thinking is all."
"You think any of that stuff that the commander told us about was tru-"
"What's wro- woah. Now look at that. Looks like a, like a paw print but...big...real big. You ever seen something like this, mate?"
"Yeah, me neither. Think we should bring this up with Miss Ruby?"
"Alright. Let's head back then an-"
"...Oi, Mandi...please t-tell me that's you pulling my hoof, mate."
"Oi. Mandi. It's...it's right behind me...isn't it."
Pant Pant Pant
"Are you okay, my queen?"
"Are you feeling well, my queen?"
"Yes. Very much so."
"Are your magic stores back to their normal capacity?"
Frowning profusely, Queen Chrysalis facehoofed before glancing up at the crowd that had gathered around her the moment she had stepped out and into the open. First it was the two guards that were standing just outside the doorway sans door, then came the changelings that had been laying or wandering about nearby, and pretty soon nearly every changeling under her command was among the throng of changelings worrying over her condition. Course, it was cute that they cared, but after being asked the same questions several dozen times over, the queen's patience was waning by the millisecond. Luckily however, her patience did in fact pay off in the end as she saw her saving grace marching stoically towards her.
"My queen!" Commander Brute exclaimed, causing the crowd to cease its cries almost instantly. And upon his arrival, they immediately parted, allowing him and the two guards at his flank unimpeded access to their ruler. After a pair of salutes and a quick bow, the changeling commander raised his head with a small but relieved smile. "Am I truly glad to see that you're back on your hooves." He then turned to ling beside her . "As for you. You've done your hive a tremendous service, Sylphia."
The nurse giggled.
"No trouble at all, Commander!"
Nodding his head, he then turned back to Chrysalis.
"So my queen, what are your orders now that you're awake?"
Blinking, the queen raised a brow at him before glancing at the others, whom also appeared to be just as intently curious as to what she wished for them to do next.
"Oh, well...first, all of you." She glanced about at the changelings crowding her before shaking a hoof in a shooing manner. "Leave me and the commander be." And like that, the crowd dispersed. Seeing them go, Chrysalis then addressed her little commander once again. "Now, would you please inform me of all that has happened while I was..."
"Unconscious, my queen?" Brute warily proposed, causing the taller changeling to squint at him for a moment, before tiredly sighing the next.
"Yes. While I was...unconscious."
Grimacing, the commander glanced at his guards and nodded, a silent cue which the two acknowledged with a salute before wandering off somewhere else. He too then sighed before looking back up at the queen with a somewhat tired expression that the queen ever rarely saw replace his usually stoic features.
"Sigh. Honestly my queen? Things had been a bit...rough while you were recovering."
"How so?" She curiously asked. He looked off to the side.
"After we had returned to the hive with you...as you were, the others were in disarray. Things only got worse after we told them about the creatures we encountered, the massive canine in particular was especially to blame for the panic that ensued shortly thereafter." The queen cringed at that, Brute could only nod. "Luckily the guards and I were able to calm the others down before things really got out of hoof. After that, I had several guards go out and patrol the perimeter. And while I'm still waiting to hear from two of my guards, the rest have given the all clear...for now, at least."
Humming, the queen thought for a moment before she raised a brow as well as another question.
"Speaking of guards, how is the injured one from our group doing?"
Brute shook his head.
"Not good...but, not terrible either. To say the least, he's...stable for the time being. Miss Ruby is seeing to his recovery in the structure over there." Brute said, pointing to another one of the large structures off to the side where several wagons lay parked out front beside a tarped entryway.
Smiling just a bit, Chrysalis quickly dropped it before Brute could notice. She gave a single nod.
"Good. I will of course want an update on his status later. Given either by Ruby or soldier himself if possible."
"But of course, my queen."
The commander hummed.
"Well, regarding our love supply-"
Blinking, both Chrysalis and Brute paused as there ears twitched in unison. And after turning their heads, saw that they weren't the only ones as every changeling out and about also stopped whatever they were doing to regard whatever it was that Chrysalis and Brute had heard.
Swiveling her ears to the side, Chrysalis's breath hitched as she felt that tremble that everyling around her sure as Tartarus also felt as well. Turning towards the direction her ears pointed, she narrowed her eyes. Following his queen's lead, Brute raised a hoof and, with a flick, drew forth the blade attached.
"Yes, I know." Chrysalis said shortly, her eyes flicking to her subjects as the few soldiers around brought their own weapons to bear while the others slowly backed away. "It, approaches."
"Guards!" Brute suddenly barked. " Ready yourselves! Protect your queen and fellow lings with your li-"
Suddenly without warning, there came a faint mix of yelling and buzzing before a pair of changelings burst forth from around the corner of one of the larger stacks of brown cubes, their combined squeals of peril as they half flew half skidded towards the others being just enough of an oddity to stop Brute mid-sentence before all nerves were un-steeled at the appearance of their pursuer.
With a jump, the massive mutt bounded into view, airborne for only a second before it landed and struck the floor with just enough of a force that caused its immediate prey to hit the deck while the rest were left staggered or stumbling.
Dropping low, The demon of a dog brought its giant gleaming teeth to bear before the two cowering changelings below it before letting loose a beastly bark, adding on to the overall fear factor and causing the pair to embrace one another in comedically conjoined terror.
With a burst of buzzing wings and a shout nearly on par with that of the royal Canterlot voice, Chrysalis was standing before the ferocious fido in an instant, her glare radiating with so fierce a fiery anger that even the two guards whom she stood defensively over could literally taste the raw, negative emotions that seemed to radiate from their queen in waves, and their shivering only doubled as a result.
"My queen!" Brute shouted from the rear. "What are you-"
"NOT NOW, BRUTE!" Chrysalis snapped, side-eyeing him with searing death. The commander immediately shut up. That same eye then fell on the two changelings below her. They froze. "Go." They did. Watching them scrabble off to safety, Chrysalis's eye softened for a moment before she turned back to the dog, her gaze now narrowing to a confined rage. "So...I take it those vile beasts from before weren't enough to sate your hunger, beast?" The pup paused, tilting its head at her curiously. "Were you not pleased with those things which I offered to you in return for allowing me and my own passage through your lands that you still desire to devour us, beast?!" The dog blinked. "Are the forces of this world so cruel and wrathful to all who enter their domain that they must be sought after and exterminated like some changeling-goddess-damned plague?!"
Woah. Okay, now the tiny talking bug-thing was starting to give the giant little pup a bit of a fright. So much so that it actually whimpered and took one booming (at least to the changelings watching in baffled silence) step back. But the queen didn't notice nor did she probably care, pressing her advance anyway.
"I mean honestly! Whoever or whatever your master is, do they not care for others? Are they so heartless and wretched that they would send a hound from Tartarus to snuff the life of a mother and her children after all of that which she had done in the hopes of giving them a better one?!"
Wait. Wait a minute. Now wait just a fucking minute.
'Did...did she just...insult master?' The pup thought. After all, she did use some big words that, while the pup may not have known their exact definition, he damn well could guess that they at least SOUNDED like they were supposed to. 'My master?' The pup further inwardly inquired. The warm, generous, forgiving human who had shown him nothing but love and care nearly all his life? The human who sheltered him, fed him, and essentially raised him as if he were his first-born? That same master?
"And another thing-!"
Chrysalis froze at the deep thundering that was the beast's sudden growling. Looking up, a shiver ran down the monarch's
barrel as her widened eyes stared right back at themselves through the reflective gleam of the hound's teeth brought to snarling bear.
The dog narrowed its mismatched eyes at her, seemingly begging the changeling queen to throw shade at its master just one more time. The queen in return, with her vast wisdom and superior tactic, was silent a moment (and just a tiny bit terrified) as she very carefully thought over what her next words should be. But as she was thinking, really just stalling at this point, she suddenly picked up on something from the hivemind. Another request for a private link between her and a certain commander. She accepted it immediately.
'My queen, what are you doing?! You must run now!'
'Brute, please, I'm handling this.'
'T-Truly, my queen?'
'No, of course not, you fool! Can't you see that this beast is making ready to attack me?!'
'Yes. Very much so. Which is why I highly recommend that you- oh goddess my queen, look out!'
"Huh?" Blinking, Chrysalis realized to her utmost horror that while she had been mentally conversing with Brute, she had made the gravest of mistakes by glancing back at the commander, whose eyes went wide with terror the moment before she realized her folly and quickly spun about. A gaping maw greeted her back. And you know what else? In that moment, that second in time that seemed to slow down for whatever overly-dramatic reason, the words she'd been grasping for earlier suddenly came back to her. As were the monster mutt's giant teeth as it lunged at her with not just the intention to kill or consume, but to avenge its master's soiled name as well.