Paint the Sky

by Flynt Coal

Chapter 6 - Somebody To Love

Since ditching Diamond Tiara for Apple Bloom and her friends, Chrysalis had been looking into the after-school clubs at CHS. Naturally, the first one she signed up for was the movie club. Organized by a sophomore named Juniper Montage, it was a club that met every week on Thursday to watch and discuss movies. Chrysalis had been welcomed into their ranks with open arms, and she found herself learning a lot more about the film industry itself. The club’s members—Juniper in particular—were rife with knowledge of filmmaking trivia, and Chrysalis soaked their knowledge up like a sponge, always coming home to Sable and Celestia with something new to share.

The problem started as the club was dispersing for the day. Chrysalis was just putting her jacket on when a familiar boy’s voice greeted, “Hey, Chrys.”

Chrysalis turned and smiled when she saw the blond-haired blue-eyed boy wearing a grayish blue jacket smiling nervously at her.

“Oh, hey Star Tracker,” Chrysalis greeted.

Out of everyone in the movie club, Chrysalis liked Star Tracker the most. Admittedly, a big part of it was he was the only one in the movie club who didn’t look down their nose at her when she said she liked High School Musical. More significant though was the simple fact that he was the only other freshman in the club. Because of that, Chrysalis saw him pretty regularly in her classes as well, and ever since she joined the movie club, the two of them had been talking more and more. In just two short weeks, Chrysalis and Star Tracker had gotten to know each other pretty well.

They weren’t exactly close friends per se (Star Tracker didn’t hang out with Chrysalis or her group of friends outside of school), but they were certainly more than mere acquaintances. Chrysalis wasn’t sure how to describe how she felt around him. All she knew was that he was easy to talk to and they always seemed to make each other laugh.

“So, I take it by the sniffling and quiet sobs that you liked the movie?” Star asked with a knowing grin.

“I was not crying, thank you very much!” Chrysalis proclaimed, folding her arms and giving him an imperious glare. “I have…allergies.”

Despite her best efforts to look intimidating, Star only chuckled and said, “Yeah? What are you allergic to? Feelings?”

Pfft. Shut up!”

That was another thing Chrysalis appreciated about Star Tracker. In spite of her being nearly a head taller than him (as she was with most of her peers) the boy wasn’t the least bit intimidated by her like many of her peers were. Of course, this had the drawback of her patented death glare being completely ineffectual against him. So, as the two of them began walking down the hall on their way out, Chrysalis opted for a change in tactics, switching from intimidation to simply changing the subject.

“You know, I just realized that was the second movie I watched this week where Pearl Street went crazy in space,” Chrysalis commented with a giggle. The film that the movie club had watched today was the 2014 film Interstellar. Sunday night Chrysalis had watched a film called The Martian with Celestia and Sable, the lead actor of which made an appearance in today’s feature. “They’ve got to stop sending that man to space!”

Star laughed. “Yeah, it never seems to go well for him.”

The two chatted lightly and easily as they always did until they reached the school’s main entrance. There, Chrysalis saw Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo waiting for her; each of them clearly having just gotten out of their own extracurricular activities. Chrysalis gave them a wave and the trio returned it.

“Well, this is me,” she said, looking over her shoulder at Star. “Unless you want to actually join us this time?”

“Thanks, but I should probably get home before my Bubi starts to worry,” Star explained, and Chrysalis nodded in understanding. But before she could start heading over to her friends, Star said, “But before I head out I…kinda wanted to ask you something.”

“Oh?” Chrysalis asked, turning back around. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Apple Bloom and the others all giving curious looks her way.

Something wasn’t right, because for the first time since Chrysalis had met him, Star suddenly looked intimidated by her. “Y-yeah. I-I just wanted to ask…are you doing anything tomorrow evening?”

Chrysalis tapped her chin and said, “Hmm…my guardians are having family over for dinner, and I was kinda looking forward to seeing them.”

“Okay, then how about Saturday?”

“My Saturday’s wide open.”

Star smiled widely, his sudden unexpected anxiousness slowly dissipating. “Well, on the topic of space movies, you remember the one I told you about last week?”

“Yeah. Arrival I think it was called?” Chrysalis said. Star had shown her the trailer for it on YouTube, and Chrysalis thought it looked pretty good.

“That’s the one. It comes out tomorrow,” Star said, scratching his blond hair nervously. “I was thinking I’d go see it. And…wanted to know if you’d like to go with me.”

Chrysalis’s face lit up. Ever since she first started watching movies with Celestia and Sable she’d always wanted to see one in a theater. Unfortunately, her first theater experience was soured a bit by the fact that she’d just found out that the friends she’d gone with were horrible people (also the movie itself wasn’t very good). The thought of getting another chance at a proper theater experience made Chrysalis happier than she honestly expected.

“Yes! I’d love to go with you!” Chrysalis exclaimed.

With a relieved smile, Star said, “Great! It’s a date then!”

So, bidding her farewell, Star went on his way while a single thought went through Chrysalis’s mind. He didn’t mean…? Nah. Deciding not to give it another thought, Chrysalis went over to where her friends were waiting.

“Hey Chrys,” Apple Bloom greeted.

“Hey Bloomie. How was Dance?”

“Pretty good,” Apple Bloom said with a beaming smile. “Tender Taps and I are really getting our routine down.”

“So have you asked him out yet?” Scootaloo asked.

“N-no! It’s not like that,” Apple Bloom said, though the hint of red in her cheeks betrayed her and made Chrysalis chuckle.

“Speaking of asking out, what’s the deal between you and Star, Chrys?” Sweetie Belle asked, giving Chrysalis a little nudge.

“Nothing,” Chrysalis insisted. “He merely asked if I wanted to see a movie with him on Saturday.”

“So, he did ask you out, then?”

“No! I mean, he did ask me out, but it’s not a date.”

“Did he say it’s not a date?” Scootaloo asked.

Chrysalis stammered a bit. “Well…no, but….”

“What were his exact words?”

There was a pause as Chrysalis tried to remember what Star said exactly. It was hard to remember, already the conversation was far from Chrysalis’s mind. So, Chrysalis repeated the only words she could remember.

“It’s a date.”

Apple Bloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo all looked at her with deadpan expressions.

“Fuck. It is a date,” Chrysalis moaned.

With a frown, Apple Bloom said, “You don’t sound so happy about it.”

“Yeah, I guess not.”

With that, the group silently and unanimously decided to stop hanging around the school entrance and started walking towards the street.

“Well, why not?” Apple Bloom asked.

“Yeah, Star’s pretty cute, and you two seem to get along well,” Scootaloo said. “I thought you’d be stoked.”

“I don’t know, I guess I…I’m just not ready for a relationship yet,” Chrysalis said.

“You know, I thought the same thing when Button first asked me to that movie a few weeks back,” Sweetie said. “I even told him I just wanted to go as friends at first. But then we started spending more time together and….” With a cute nervous smile, Sweetie looked away and started idly fidgeting with her bracelet. “I dunno, I kinda like him.”

Chrysalis would be lying if she said she didn’t find Star cute. She certainly did enjoy his company.

“Look, what I’m trying to say is, you should give him an honest chance,” Sweetie Belle said, making eye contact again now that the subject wasn’t on the desires of her own heart. “What’s the worst that could happen?”

“Uh, ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ How about getting drugged and taken advantage of?” Scootaloo said. “Or did you forget what you told us nearly happened to your sister last year?”

“Wait, what nearly happened to your sister?” Chrysalis asked.

“Oh right, I forgot the Club was before your time, Chrys,” Sweetie Belle said, then explained, “At the beginning of the year, a group of boys got their hands on the mother of all date rape drugs and…had their way with a number of the girls at this school and others. They would have gotten to my sister Rarity too if Sunset hadn’t intervened.”

Chrysalis tensed up. She couldn’t help but think of the Compulsion: the mind-control drug cooked up by King Sombra’s mad scientist and tested on her. She remembered how scared and helpless she’d felt when Sombra had her on the stuff constantly, to the point she couldn’t eat, sleep or even relieve herself without being told to. It had been a feeling worse than any claustrophobia. She was made to do and endure horrible things and couldn’t even scream….


Apple Bloom’s voice snapped her back to reality, and Chrysalis blinked. Her friends had stopped walking and were all looking at her with concern clear on their faces. Chrysalis realized then that she had been gasping for breath and focused on getting herself under control with a few deep breaths.

“Sorry,” she said when her attack subsided. She tried to give her friends a reassuring smile. “I’m okay.”

Her hands were still shaking though. This she realized when Sweetie Belle took them in her own.

“It’s okay if you’re not ready for a relationship yet,” Sweetie said. “I’m sure Star will understand.”

“Either that or his whole ‘nice guy’ act is exactly that and turning him down will make him show his true colors,” Scootaloo said.

“Scoots, we can’t go through life thinking that every boy we meet is secretly a jerk who only wants to get in our pants,” Apple Bloom calmly argued, before turning to Chrysalis. “You know Star better than us. Do you think he’s really like that?” Chrysalis shook her head. “Then you probably have nothing to worry about. But it’s up to you. If you’re not ready, then that’s fine too.”

“Well, I’ve got a day to think about it,” Chrysalis said.

With that, the four of them kept walking and the topic moved on to other things. Chrysalis, however, remained silently focused on her sudden conundrum.

As far as discerning Star Tracker’s true intentions went, Chrysalis had one advantage that her friends didn’t know about. Her changeling abilities allowed her to taste exactly what Star was feeling, and she would be able to gauge his feelings for her the next time they spoke. Of course, this brought another alarming fact to the forefront of Chrysalis’s mind. Namely, that she had been completely blindsided by Star’s apparent feelings for her. How had that happened? Were her changeling senses weakening now that she’d been in the human world for so long? No, that wasn’t it. She could still taste the emotions of everyone around her fairly consistently.

And hadn’t she tasted Star Tracker’s infatuation growing day by day? Yes, now that she was thinking about it, Chrysalis supposed she knew all along how Star felt. However, she’d subconsciously chosen to pretend that she couldn’t. Why? Chrysalis didn’t know, but it only made her more conflicted.

All of these thoughts completely distracted Chrysalis from something else that had been on her mind: That she hadn’t seen Toola Roola or Coconut Cream in class for the past week and a half.

The afternoon and evening went by relatively uneventfully for Chrysalis. She didn’t have much homework that day and managed to finish all of it in time to help out with the dinner. In no time at all she was sitting at the table with Celestia and Sable enjoying a juicy steak.

“So, anything interesting happen today, Chrys?” Celestia asked.

Despite her mind being preoccupied all evening by the “something interesting” that had happened that day, Chrysalis only shrugged and said, “Not really.”

“Today you had your after-school movie club, right? How’d that go?” Sable asked.

“Pretty good. We finished watching Interstellar,” Chrysalis answered.

Although neither Celestia nor Sable seemed particularly concerned by her brief answers, Chrysalis couldn’t help but wonder whether they knew that something was on her mind. They did seem to have a sixth sense for this sort of thing, especially where Chrysalis was concerned. So, she decided to throw them a bone.

“A friend of mine invited me to see that new Arrival movie on Saturday,” she said, adding, “Should be fun.”

“Oh really? Which friend?” Celestia asked.

Chrysalis waited to finish chewing her bite of steak before answering, “Star Tracker. He’s the boy I told you about from the movie club.”

“Oh,” Celestia said casually enough. Then realization seemed to hit her. “Oooooh….

Stop that. Star’s just a friend.”

A slightly impish smirk appeared on Celestia’s face. “Why, whatever do you mean, Chrys?”

Her cheeks suddenly got very hot, and it wasn’t just the freshly cooked steak that made it so. “You know exactly what I mean!” Chrysalis exclaimed.

Still grinning, Celestia said, “No, I don’t think I do!” before taking another bite of the steak on her plate.

Realizing that she wasn’t going to get out of this without addressing the issue head on, Chrysalis said, “You think it’s a date, don’t you?”

“Well, is it?”

Clearing his throat, Sable finally spoke up. “How about you ease off a little, Tia? If she turns any redder, she’ll shapeshift into a tomato. Or maybe a firetruck.”

Chrysalis had a pretty good death glare waiting in the wings, but then Celestia said, “Okay fine,” and Chrysalis’s glare towards Sable became a look of gratitude.

“Teasing aside, though, if it is a date, I hope you’ll be careful,” Celestia said, the “Mom” tone starting to come through.

“Yeah, sure. Whatever.”

“I’m serious. Statistically, more and more kids are having sex at younger ages….”

Oh my Gooood….”

“…and I think it’s more important than ever that we educate you on the risks….

“Can we please not talk about this now?!”

“…so that you guys can practice having safe sex.”

“Mom, PLEASE! Can you at least wait until we’re finished eating?!”

Celestia and Sable exchanged a curious look all of a sudden, but before any of them could dwell on it for too long, Sable said, “Tia, Chrysalis is well over one thousand years old. She hardly needs to get ‘the Talk’ from us.”

Looking at him like he was her own personal messiah, Chrysalis said, “Thank you Sable.”

Raising her hands in defeat, Celestia said, “Okay, I’m sorry. I’ll stop. But Chrys, I want you to know that if you ever need to talk about anything—including love and dating—you can always come to me or Sable.”

“Preferably Celestia,” Sable added.

Finally getting fed up with her boyfriend, Celestia turned to him and intoned, “Is there a reason you’ve not been taking my side all evening? Because the couch is looking pretty comfortable tonight!”

It would appear that the Princess of the Sun wasn’t the only Celestia who liked using banishment as a punishment. Chrysalis was worried she was about to lose her only ally at this dinner as Sable quickly looked between her and his girlfriend. He then carefully and diplomatically said, “I’m not taking anyone’s side here. I only meant that if Chrysalis wants advice on dating, she would benefit more from your perspective than she would from mine.”

Celestia regarded Sable for a few seconds, both him and even Chrysalis waiting in bated breath for her verdict. After apparently deciding she’d made him sweat long enough, Celestia said, “I suppose you’re right.” She then turned to Chrysalis and gave her best motherly smile. “I’m always happy to talk with you about whatever’s on your mind, Chrys. So, if you ever need advice, you can come talk to me any time.”

“Thanks. I’ll get riiiiiiiiight on that,” Chrysalis drolled.

Seeing no point in continuing the discussion, Sable moved it to another topic, for which both Chrysalis and even Celestia were grateful. When dinner was finished, Chrysalis opted to return to her room rather than watch TV with Celestia and Sable. After some time idly scrolling Facebook and watching YouTube videos, Chrysalis decided to call it an early night and started getting ready for bed.

Things had changed since Chrysalis had first moved in with Celestia and Sable, and it wasn’t just that she was beginning to feel more comfortable in her new life. The dreams she was having had been changing as well. In her early days back in this world, Chrysalis used to put off going to bed as long as possible. She knew that when she laid down her head and closed her eyes, she would be back in Equestria suffering for King Sombra’s sick amusement. Or trapped within the hive mind, her own voice drowned out by thousands of others.

But ever since her first day at CHS, Chrysalis’s trauma-fueled nightmares started being broken up by a very different dream: a dream where she was not herself, but a mare named Calyx, apparently a queen of Old Unicornia. In every dream that she had as this “Queen Calyx,” Chrysalis was having a secret love affair with a stallion knight named Sunburst. There was enough courtly drama and romance to fill a novel, and had Chrysalis known the first thing about writing, she probably could have written one.

Chrysalis had no idea where these “Calyx” dreams came from; perhaps someone with a better understanding of dream theory could explain it. But Chrysalis was perfectly happy not knowing. These dreams were her little secret, and in recent days she was having them more often than nightmares. If she was being honest with herself, these dreams were the reason she was considering this date with Star Tracker at all. Because the feeling of being in love—not just feeding on it—was one she’d grown to enjoy, even if it was only a dream. Star Tracker may not have been the dashing knight that her dream paramour was, but maybe they could still have something as beautiful as Calyx had in these dreams.


But when she laid her head down to sleep this time, the dream that followed was tinged with sadness. She stood on a path just outside of the capital in the darkness of night. She was cloaked and hooded so that none would recognize her. With her was her love: Sunburst, dressed in the full barding of his station. The mood between them was solemn: something deep inside her told her this would be their last meeting.

“I wish you didn’t have to do this,” she said.

Sunburst looked at her and Chrysalis could see the sadness in his eyes, but the love and determination there shone brighter.

“You need not fear, my love,” he said softly. “I’ll only be gone for a scant few months. A year at most.” Sunburst then smiled. “Then, when I return with the legendary sword Rosegarden, the nobility will have no choice but to accept me as your husband-to-be.”

“Were you not the one who always said it mattered not what the nobles thought of us?”

Sunburst sighed and said, “Do you really want to go on like this forever, Calyx? To keep loving each other in darkness and secrecy until we’re old and crooked?”

Chrysalis thought about the life she wanted for them: to rule her ponies with Sunburst at her side. To have and raise foals who would one day succeed her. To have a family with the one she loved without shame. None of that would be possible if the nobility would not approve of the “lower class” knight that she had chosen.

“I suppose there’s no other way,” she conceded, then added, “Unless you want to elope?”

“Would you really want that?” Sunburst asked. “If leaving all of this behind would truly make you happy, just say the word. We can go tonight. Start a new life somewhere far away, where no one would know who we are.”

The offer was tempting. More tempting than Chrysalis could say. She then looked back at the walls of the capital. Her home.

“No, I can’t leave,” she said with a sigh. “I shudder to think what would become of my kingdom if the likes of Briarthorn or his ilk were to take the throne.”

“I suppose you wouldn’t be the mare I fell in love with if you wanted to just run away.” Sunburst then kissed her tenderly on the cheek, and the two of them held their gaze as more and more Chrysalis realized the moment was approaching its end.

“This is it, isn’t it?” she said, her voice catching in her throat.

Sunburst nodded. “Take care around that cur,” he said, not needing to address Lord Briarthorn by name. “You know I don’t trust that opportunistic villain.”

Chrysalis wasn’t sure he was as dangerous as all that but vowed to be cautious regardless. “Just come home safely,” she said. “I care more about you than some silly sword.”

She then pulled him into a kiss, deep, passionate and full of tears. Then they broke, and Chrysalis slowly…reluctantly let go of Sunburst. He lingered long enough to brush away her tears, and then he was off; starting his way down the long dark road. Chrysalis watched him go until she could no longer see him, then turned and hurried back to her castle. She had to make it back before sunrise.


Chrysalis awoke the following morning with tears staining her cheeks.

Friday passed relatively uneventfully, though there was one moment that stuck out to Chrysalis as…not strange exactly, but…off. She had her usual morning science class: the one she happened to share with Star Tracker. The two of them greeted each other and chatted as amicably as they normally did, but something about the vibe felt different. There was a nervous tension in the air between them now; Chrysalis didn’t need her changeling abilities to sense it.

Those very changeling abilities also picked up on the sweet and unmistakable taste of infatuation coming from Star. Chrysalis almost hadn’t noticed it at first, and she realized it was because they were the very same feelings she had tasted from him since they first met. Chrysalis couldn’t believe she hadn’t noticed it before.

When the lunch period bell rang, Chrysalis and Star set out to go meet up with their respective friend groups.

“So…we still on for tomorrow?” Star asked.

Chrysalis stood rigid, her stomach full of anxious butterflies. Before today, talking to Star had always been so easy, and now Chrysalis found herself unable to form a single word. She had half a mind to simply tell him that something had come up and she wouldn’t be able to make it on Saturday. Maybe she could say that her grandma was dying and pray that she even had a grandma.

“Sure!” Chrysalis said instead, hoping her smile didn’t look too strained. “Can’t wait!”

Star smiled. “Great!”

The two of them lingered there silently for a moment, then another, neither one evidently knowing how to conclude the conversation.

“Well, I’ll see—”

“See you the—”

“Oh,” Chrysalis waited for him to speak first, then realized he was doing the same thing and quickly shouted, “Bye!” before walking away, feeling like an utter fool.


What am I going to doooooo?” Chrysalis groaned as she sat with her friends at their usual table in the cafeteria. She had just finished telling them about her interaction with Star Tracker. “Tomorrow’s gonna be so awkward!

“From what I hear, first dates usually are,” Apple Bloom said.

Sweetie Belle nodded. “But totally worth it once you get past it.”

“But what if I don’t get past it? What if I just make things weird like I always do and he never wants to talk to me again?!”

“Well, you are pretty weird,” Scootaloo said noncommittally.

Chrysalis reared her head at the half-asleep girl eating mashed potatoes and snarled, “CEASE YOUR PRATTLE, WORM! I HAVE NO USE FOR IT!”


“Look, if this date is getting you this worked up, maybe you should cancel,” Sweetie Belle suggested.

Chrysalis rounded on her next. “Weren’t you the one suggesting that I go for it just yesterday?”

“Yeah, that was before you started acting crazy about it,” Scootaloo said around a mouthful of food.

Giving Scootaloo a deadpan glance before returning her focus to Chrysalis, Sweetie said, “Blunt, but she has a point. Dates are supposed to be fun. If you don’t think you’re going to have fun, there’s nothing wrong with canceling.”

Chrysalis nodded, an idea coming to her. “Right, okay. I’ll call Celestia and ask if I have a grandma!”


It was around that time that Chrysalis noticed Apple Bloom had been unusually quiet throughout this whole conversation.

“What do you think, Apple Bloom?” Chrysalis asked her.

“Oh, I don’t know. I’m not exactly very experienced with this sort of thing,” Apple Bloom said, uncharacteristically quiet.

“What are you talking about?” Scootaloo exclaimed. “You’ve technically dated way before any of us have!”

“Yeah, and we all know how that turned out, don’t we?”

Chrysalis looked between all of her friends, who exchanged a single knowing look between them. “Someone wanna fill me in here?”

At that, Apple Bloom gave Chrysalis an apologetic look. “Sorry Chrys, but this is still kind of a…sensitive issue for me. I’ll probably tell you about it someday, just…not today, alright?”

Chrysalis shrugged. “Fair enough.” It wasn’t like she wasn’t keeping her own secrets from them anyway.

“Besides, maybe none of us are qualified to be giving you advice on this anyway,” Apple Bloom continued. “Have you thought about asking your guardians for advice? My folks actually helped a lot with making me feel better about…my thing.”

Chrysalis thought about her conversation with Sable and Celestia (more so Celestia) at dinner the previous night.

“Yeah, that’s not happening,” Chrysalis said with a shudder.

She then thought of a conversation she’d had with someone else a couple of weeks ago, and realized she’d get the chance to talk to that very person again tonight.

“But I think I just thought of someone I can ask for advice.”

Unlike with the house party with Sunset’s family a few weeks ago, Chrysalis was unable to be completely open about who and what she really was at this mini family gathering of Celestia’s at their place. This was because this time around, someone was attending who was not in the know about all things Equestria. What was more, that very person was the first to arrive, doing so in the company of Chrysalis’s own Principal Luna.

“And you must be the Chrysalis I’ve heard so much about,” the tall dark-haired stranger said after greeting Celestia, extending his hand for Chrysalis to shake while holding a six-pack of beer in the other. “Name’s Moonshadow. Luna’s fiancé.”

Chrysalis took his hand and gave him a casual, “’Sup.”

Moonshadow laughed, and Luna said, “I told you she was charming!”

“Yeah, well you’ll have to tell me all about how it was living in Klamath Falls,” Moonshadow said, and Chrysalis froze. “My family had a cottage up there for years before we sold it in 2008. Used to go every summer!”

Chrysalis tried to give him a friendly smile that was strained at the edges, and somehow still too wide. “Really? What a…fun coincidence!”

“Yeah, you’ll have to tell me what it’s like these days!”

Chrysalis had done just enough research on the Klamath Falls area to be able to bullshit her way through a conversation with someone only mildly familiar with it. In a conversation with someone who practically grew up there, Chrysalis knew she would get found out. Fortunately, she only had a few moments to sweat over it before Luna chimed in.

“Remember Moons, she didn’t exactly have great experiences growing up there. She may not want to talk about it,” she said.

Moonshadow’s eager smile melted away, and the man awkwardly scratched the back of his head. “Right. Of course. My bad….”

The awkward silence that followed was thankfully cut short when Sable emerged from the bathroom, his face freshly shaved.

Hey there he is!” Moonshadow exclaimed, aiming down the sights of a pair of finger guns pointed Sable’s way.

Sable just chuckled and went over to the younger man, where they clasped hands and exchanged a “bro hug.” He then gave a quick, “Hi Luna,” and gave the woman a much more restrained hug.

“Good to see you, Sable,” Luna replied before the man in question was pulled back to a more testosterone fueled conversation.

“Sable man, when are you gonna come paintballing with me and the guys again?” Moonshadow asked.

“As soon as I have a moment of free time, man. Here, let me put that in the fridge for you.” Taking the six-pack from Moonshadow, Sable led him into the kitchen, the two of them talking about whatever it was guys like them talked about.

“Want me to pour you a glass of wine, Luna?” Celestia asked as she made her own way to the kitchen.

“Please. I’ll take whatever you have that’s red.”

“How about you, Chrys? Want a soda or something?”

“I’m good.”

With that, Celestia disappeared into the kitchen and Chrysalis and Luna were left alone together.

“Thanks for the save back there,” Chrysalis said quietly.

“Never fear, auntie Luna’s got your back!” Luna said, giving Chrysalis a friendly nudge.

Chrysalis just gave her a smile, not really knowing what to say. Luna may have been family (sort of), but lately the only time Chrysalis ever saw her was at school. And it just felt weird having her principal hanging out in her home. However, seeing as the person that Chrysalis really wanted to talk to still had yet to show up, Chrysalis realized she could talk to Luna about something else that was on her mind. That is, at least, assuming that this Luna had anything in common with her equine counterpart.

“Hey, Principal Luna,” Chrysalis started, but Luna interjected.

“We’re not at school, Chrys. You can just call me ‘Luna.’”

“Right–sorry, Luna. This may seem like a weird question, but…do you know a lot about dreams?”

“I actually studied a bit of dream psychology when I was in college. Can’t say I remember all of it that well. Only took it for one semester as an elective,” Luna said. “Why do you ask? Having weird dreams lately?”

“For a while, actually. Pretty much since I started living here with Celestia.”

All too aware of the trauma that Chrysalis had suffered over her life, Luna frowned. “Nightmares?”

“No, actually, they’re more like….” Chrysalis cut herself short as Celestia returned with a glass of wine for Luna, and a second for herself.

“You two want to move this conversation to the living room?” Celestia asked, then added as a follow-up question. “What are you talking about, anyway?”

“Nothing in particular. Just catching up,” Chrysalis said as nonchalantly as she could.

She hadn’t told Celestia or Sable about the strange dreams she’d been having. Mostly because quite a few of them would get…steamy, and she simply wasn’t comfortable talking about that kind of thing with them. The embarrassing talk she had at dinner the other night didn’t help any. Fortunately, Luna seemed to pick up on Chrysalis’s reluctance to continue discussing the topic with Celestia present and simply went along with her sister as she led them to the living room area and the conversation moved on to other things.

It wasn’t long before Celestia went to get started on the dinner and seeing as Sable and Moonshadow were still catching up (they’d both moved onto the balcony, each of them with a beer in hand), Chrysalis was once again left alone with Luna.

“So Chrys, what were you saying earlier about dreams?”

“Right, yeah,” Chrysalis said, trying to figure out how best to word it. “Have you ever heard of a person dreaming that they’re not themselves, but a completely different person? Someone with a whole other life that you see different pieces of every time you fall asleep?”

“Hmm, you mean this other person you become in your dreams is the same person every time?”

Chrysalis nodded. “Yeah. It’s a pony from Equestria. Someone I’ve never met before. Or at least, that I don’t remember meeting.”

Luna took a sip from her glass of wine as she thought about it. “Well, dreaming as someone else isn’t unheard of. When I was still a teacher, I once had a student who said she used to dream about being someone else all the time. One night she dreamed she was an Indian girl on a cruise with her family. Another, she was a forty-year-old blonde woman having an affair with a married man. Another night, she was a Japanese salaryman in Tokyo who kept striking out with women.

“Your dreams seem to be a little different, but I think the same theory applies: That dreaming as someone else means you’re struggling with your identity. If this scenario is a recurring theme in your dreams, it could mean that you’re currently reconstructing your sense of self. The fact that these dreams started around the time you moved in with my sister proves it. I’m sure all of this change hasn’t been easy for you, and you’re still trying to figure out who you are even now.”

“Yeah, I guess that makes sense,” Chrysalis said.

“Are these dreams bothering you?” Luna asked.

Chrysalis thought of the blissful content feeling she always felt when she was being held in the arms of her dream counterpart’s lover. “No, actually. They’re usually quite nice.” She then thought of the most recent dream she’d had. “The last dream was kind of sad, though. Felt like I was saying goodbye to someone important.”

“That may actually be a good sign. Saying goodbye could very well symbolize you leaving your past self behind.” Luna gave her an encouraging smile. “I think you’re closer to finding yourself than you realize!”

Feeling warmed by Luna’s smile, Chrysalis returned it. “Thanks, Luna. I didn’t know how much I needed to hear that!”

Luna reached over and patted Chrysalis’s shoulder. “It was my pleasure. I hope you know you can always come to me about anything.”

Drinking in the warm, syrup-like feelings of that moment, Chrysalis couldn’t help but notice a hint of the bitter taste of jealousy and longing coming from Luna.

“My sister doesn’t know how lucky she is to have you…” Luna muttered.

“Something wrong, Luna?” Chrysalis asked.

“Oh, nothing,” Luna answered, and then muttered more to herself than to Chrysalis, “There’s still plenty of time left….”

There wasn’t a moment to dwell on Luna’s thoughts and feelings, because just then the doorbell rang. Sable (who happened to already be coming inside from the balcony for another beer) announced that he’d get it and Chrysalis decided to join him, leaving Luna to rendezvous with her fiancé.

Together with Sable, Chrysalis greeted the other two guests arriving for dinner this evening, giving warm hellos to Cadance and Shining Armor. When Sable and Shining locked eyes, Chrysalis noticed a strange sensation pass between them. It seemed to be a mutual understanding and an unspoken agreement. Chrysalis suspected that whatever they had talked about at Sunset’s place weeks ago that had Sable so worried would not be a topic of discussion for them tonight.

Shining and Cadance had supplied what appeared to be freshly-picked corn bought from the farmer’s market on their way over, and Chrysalis volunteered to take it to the kitchen and prepare it. She could wait a little bit before pursuing the conversation she wanted to have. In spite of her efforts to put it off, though, the conversation ended up finding her instead.

“Alright, I’m gonna go mingle for a bit,” Celestia said after putting the chicken parmesan she’d been preparing in the oven. “Have you got things handled in here?”

Chrysalis gave a lazy two-fingered salute as she continued shucking the corn. “Yes, Your Highness.”

Celestia just smiled, grabbed her wine off the counter, and nearly bumped into Cadance on her way out to the living room.

“Anything I can help with in here?” Cadance asked.

“Cady, you know the rules. No guests in the kitchen!”

“Well, I need a beer, so….”

With a smile and a shrug, Celestia said, “Alright, but don’t let me catch you trying to clean up or anything.”

Raising her hands in mock surrender, Cadance said, “I know better than to step into your territory!”

With a laugh, Celestia went back out to the living room, leaving Chrysalis and Cadance alone in the kitchen.

“So, how have things been with you, Chrys?” Cadance asked as she pulled a beer out of the fridge and started rummaging through drawers for a bottle opener.

“Not bad,” Chrysalis said, deciding she might as well just get it out there. “I have a date tomorrow.”

“Oh yeah? Right on!” Cadance exclaimed, having found a bottle opener and cracking open her beer before raising it. “I’ll drink to that.”

Chrysalis grinned as Cadance took a hearty sip. “I was actually hoping to ask you for some advice on it,” she said.


Chrysalis rubbed the back of her neck. This was going to be more uncomfortable than she thought. “Yeah….”

“So…anything in particular on your mind?” Cadance asked after a beat of silence that was more than a little awkward.

With a mischievous smile, Chrysalis looked around to make sure they were both alone before saying, “Yeah. If I really like the guy, do I suck out his emotional energy on the first date? Or should I give it a few?”

With a grin of her own, Cadance replied, “Trust me, Chrys, never suck on the first date. You don’t want that kind of reputation!”

Chrysalis snorted, which set Cadance off into a giggle fit, and before she knew it both of them were laughing.

“Seriously, though,” Cadance said when their laughter had died down. “What is it about this date that has you so worried?” Cadance then frowned. “Does it have to do with what you went through in Equestria?”

Chrysalis didn’t need her to elaborate on what she meant. “No, actually. For a little while now, I’ve been thinking…I’d like to try being in a real relationship, but….” Chrysalis realized the truth of her conflicted feelings no sooner than as she spoke them aloud, “I don’t know that I like Star Tracker romantically.”

Cadance nodded. “Ah, that would be a problem.”

“Don’t get me wrong, he’s a good kid. He’s smart, kind, funny and thoughtful. A good friend, but….”

“But you don’t know if he’d be a good boyfriend.”

“Yeah, I just don’t see the point of trying to start a relationship if I don’t think it’ll work out in the end.”

Cadance took a sip from her beer as she considered this. “But you don’t know that it won’t work out in the end. The only way you’ll know for sure is if you just give it a chance.”

“That seems to be the popular opinion,” Chrysalis said.

With a nostalgic smile, Cadance said, “You know, I remember feeling trepidation when Shining Armor first asked me out. I was scared that I’d screw it up somehow and it would all end in tears. But then I realized that the only thing I’d regret more than that was never trying in the first place. That’s not to say this Star Tracker guy will be the One—Shining and I kinda lucked out finding each other so early in life—but still.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” said Chrysalis, feeling a little better. “Thanks, Cadance!”

Just as Chrysalis had been feeling pretty good about the whole situation regarding her upcoming date, did Cadance bring her mood down with the question, “So, is there a reason you came to me with this and not my aunt?”

Shifting uncomfortably, Chrysalis said, “I dunno. It’s embarrassing. She’s, like…for all intents and purposes, she’s my mom.”

“I take it she teased you pretty hard when you told her?” Cadance asked, and Chrysalis gave her an inquisitive look, curious how Cadance could have known. “She did the same thing to me when I first started dating Shining.” With a bashful smile, Cadance said, “She doesn’t mean anything by it, though. She teases out of love.”

“The worst part was when she actually tried giving me a serious talk about…y’know…intimacy.”

Cadance furrowed her brow. “Huh. She never did that with me. She really is going full mom.”

“Good to know she cares, I guess, but it’s not exactly helpful. I’m willing to bet I’m a lot more…experienced with sex than she is.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure,” Cadance said. She then stepped a bit closer and put a hand on Chrysalis’s shoulder. “To start, the horrible things you went through do not count. From where I’m standing, you’re still pure. As for my aunt, she’s…another story.”

Chrysalis looked at Cadance with clear disbelief. “Are you trying to tell me that Celestia…has a wild side?”

“Oh, you have no idea!”

Chrysalis waited for Cadance to elaborate but when she said nothing, Chrysalis said, “Well? You can’t just tell me that and not elaborate!”

“I can, and I will. The choices my aunt made when she was young…they’re her cross to bear. It wouldn’t be right for me to just expose all of her secrets like that,” Cadance said. “If you really want to know, you could always talk to her yourself. I know you want to avoid another ‘Mom Talk’ on the subject, but I really think listening to her could help you.”

Chrysalis was suddenly surprised by the sudden hiss-whoosh of the stove burner behind her as the boiling pot she had put the freshly shucked corn into started to boil over. Gasping, Chrysalis hastily removed the lid of the pot, letting out a hiss of her own as it burned her hands, and started frantically turning down the burner intensity.

“Well, I’m gonna go catch up with Luna,” Cadance said as she took another sip of beer and started heading out of the kitchen, turning back to give Chrysalis one last mischievous grin. “I’d offer to help, but I don’t want to step into Celestia’s territory!”

After a very nice dinner, Luna and her fiancé stayed for one more drink each before going home for the night. Cadance and Shining Armor stuck around a little bit longer, but then decided it was time to call an Uber home (both of them had drank a little bit more than was perhaps their plan). Before Chrysalis knew it, it was just her, Sable and Celestia standing by the front door.

“Guess we should probably start cleaning up,” Celestia said, her words slightly slurred as she started moving towards the kitchen before Sable’s hand on her shoulder stopped her.

“I’ll do that. You and Chrys did enough work preparing the dinner tonight,” he said.

Clearly a little tipsy from the night, Celestia gave him a lidded look and a sultry chuckle. “Knew there was a reason I liked ya….”

Celestia then leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek before whispering something into Sable’s ear that made him turn a bit red. Perhaps it was an effect of the alcohol, but Celestia’s flirting in this moment seemed far more risqué than Chrysalis had ever seen (or tasted), and it made her think of what Cadance had told her earlier in the evening.

Giving Sable a playful smack on the butt as he went to the kitchen, Celestia turned around and for a moment froze when she locked eyes with Chrysalis.

“Oh, shit. I thought you were in your room,” Celestia said. She then took a step forward and nearly stumbled over herself. “I think I had a bit too much wine tonight…. I’m going to sit down for a bit.”

With that, Celestia wobbled past Chrysalis and made her way to the living room. Chrysalis decided that what her guardian needed right now was a glass of water, so she went to the kitchen to get exactly that before joining her in the living room.

“Oh, thank you, sweetie,” Celestia said, taking the glass from Chrysalis and taking a big swig.

Chrysalis took a seat on the couch beside Celestia and the two of them watched the evening news in silence for a minute or two as Sable clattered around in the kitchen.

“Can I ask you a kind of personal question?” Chrysalis asked.

Finishing off her water, Celestia looked at her and tried to blink a little sobriety back into her eyes. “Sure?”

“What was it like dating when you were my age?”

At that, Celestia just giggled; a girlish sound that Chrysalis seldom heard from her. “I may be getting older, but I still have a few millennia to go before I’m your age!” she exclaimed, reaching over and booping Chrysalis’s nose for emphasis.

Chrysalis smiled, kind of enjoying seeing this side of her guardian. “You know what I mean.”

“Yeah, I know.” Celestia sighed and leaned back into the couch. “Honestly, there’s not much to talk about when I was in high school. I was the popular girl and could get any guy that I wanted, but only had a couple on-again off-again boyfriends. My real dating adventures started when I was in college.”

Celestia let out a long, rueful sigh. “I dated some reeeeal pieces of shit. Guys that treated me like a dumb bimbo because if I’m being honest, that’s exactly what I was.”

Chrysalis couldn’t believe what she was hearing. The image Celestia was painting went against everything Chrysalis thought she knew about the woman who had adopted her.

“Bookwise…he was a fuckin’…douche canoe.” Chrysalis snorted, and for a brief moment Celestia managed to level a warning glare her way. “Don’t repeat any of what I say, by the way. Anyways, this guy, this…this fuckboy turned out to be engaged to someone else the whole time we were…y’know….” Celestia wiggled her eyebrows.

“I know.”

“You know.”

“I know.”

Celestia nodded, and for a moment Chrysalis thought she was going to say, “You know,” again, and they’d just be stuck in an endless feedback loop. Instead, Celestia continued, “The writing was all over the wall, but I didn’t see it. Got so wrapped up in my own little fairytale. Thought I was gonna marry him and everything. Instead, he calls me a dalliance and then tosses me aside like garbage!

Celestia talked about it with a jovial tone, but Chrysalis couldn’t help but taste a hint of lingering bitterness. It wasn’t quite the same, but Chrysalis could empathize all too well with being used and discarded for some asshole’s amusement.

“Do you still know where he lives?” Chrysalis asked. “I could pay him a visit and put him in a cocoon if you like.”

“Pfft…” Celestia laughed a drunk and obnoxious laugh. “You’re sweet, but no, I think he’s perfectly miserable right now. I looked him up a few years after graduating, just for fun. His wife divorced him not even a year after they’d been married. Apparently caught him with another dalliance. And let’s just say this one was young enough to get him into some serious legal trouble.”

“Hmph. Sounds like a real charmer.”

“Yup, and he wasn’t the last one. I got stuck in a cycle of dating shitty guys, and I blew it with the one decent guy I tried dating because….” With a wobbly smile Celestia looked at Chrysalis and said, “If you think I’m drunk now, you should’ve seen how I drank thirty years ago.” She then added with a rueful sigh, “My liver was beautiful then….”

Chrysalis could only sit there next to her as she tried to reassemble the image of Celestia, the successful administrator and loving caregiver.

With another sigh, Celestia shifted, leaned on Chrysalis and said, “You’re much smarter than I was at your age. Your Star Tracker friend sounds like the perfect guy and you’re still agonizing about whether dating him’s the right choice.” She then put her arm around Chrysalis’s shoulders. “The person you end up marrying is going to be like if Superman and Captain America had a kid—y’know, when science makes that possible—and I can’t wait to watch Sable walk you down the aisle!”

Chrysalis laughed. “Thanks, but that’s probably not gonna happen for a long time.”

“Well, don’t keep me waiting too long. I’m not getting any younger!”

A somewhat depressing thought occurred to Chrysalis then. “What if I’m not ready for a relationship until well after you’re gone? I’ll probably outlive you by quite a number of years, after all. What if you never get to see me marry?”

Celestia closed her eyes and hummed. “It’ll be sad, but I’d rather you wait if you’re really not sure. Not everyone is ready at the ideal time. I mean, just look at me. I’m well into my fifties and never married. After college, I had a couple more relationships, but nothing in the past decade until I met Sable last summer.”

Celestia let out a yawn, and her voice grew fainter as she started to drift off. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all of my crazy sexcapades, it’s that you just can’t rush love and relationships. Could I have had a serious relationship that led me to marriage and kids years ago? Maybe. But I wouldn’t have met Sable, and who even knows if I would have met you. And knowing how I was back then, I probably would’ve torpedoed any good relationship I might have had anyway. Because the truth is, I think part of me was meant to have you two come into my life, even if I didn’t know it at the time.” Celestia yawned again. “And if something similar turns out to be the case for you, then that’s okay….”

“Huh. That actually makes me feel a lot better about tomorrow. Thanks, M—uh, Celes….”

Chrysalis was interrupted by a soft snore, and she realized that Celestia was out for the night. So with her arm already draped over Chrysalis’s shoulders, Chrysalis lifted Celestia up off the couch and carried her to the master bedroom. With Chrysalis’s unnatural strength, Celestia was surprisingly light, and in no time Chrysalis had her tucked into her bed.

Lingering a moment longer, Chrysalis looked at the woman asleep in a cocoon of bedsheets, feeling closer to her now than she ever had before. Celestia wasn’t just her savior, or the woman whose house Chrysalis lived in. She was a smart and capable woman with more wisdom and experience accumulated over her few decades of living than Chrysalis had in millennia. And for all of her faults, past and present, the person moulded by those experiences used them to make Chrysalis feel at home and loved unconditionally.

So, Chrysalis was compelled to kiss her forehead before she whispered, “Goodnight, Mom.”

For the first time in weeks, Chrysalis didn’t dream. Waking up that Saturday morning almost left her feeling empty. It seemed likely that Luna was right, and that her dreams of being “Queen Calyx” were merely a manifestation of her fractured sense of identity. And that her dream of saying goodbye to Sunburst was her finally settling into who she was now. Still, Chrysalis would miss living out that fantasy romance. But today, she was going to try her hand at a very real one.

Sable had offered to drive Chrysalis to her date, saying that he had some errands to run anyway. He even asked her how Star Tracker was getting to the theater, and when Chrysalis said he was probably taking the bus, Sable said, “Nonsense! Tell him I’ll give you both a ride.” That should have been Chrysalis’s first clue to his intentions.

Instead, the first indication to Chrysalis that Sable was up to something came when she saw what he was wearing around his neck.

“Are those your Army dog tags?” Chrysalis asked.

Sable merely grunted an affirmative and asked if she was ready to go.

Chrysalis gave Sable Star Tracker’s address—perhaps naively—and before she knew it, she and Sable had pulled up to the curb beside Star’s house.

“Hi Chrys,” Star greeted as Chrysalis stepped out of the car. His voice caught in his throat a little when he got a good look at her. “Wow. You look…nice.”

“Thanks,” Chrysalis said. She had decided to dress up a little for the occasion. Nothing too fancy, just a decent black skirt and leggings that weren’t torn up, a dark green top and a choker. All of this she wore under a simple black jacket and a green scarf to ward away the cold November air.

Then Sable got out of the car, absolutely looming over the much shorter Star, who seemed to shrink even more in his presence.

“So, you must be the Star Tracker I heard so much about,” Sable said, offering his hand to shake. “I’m Chrysalis’s legal guardian, Sable Loam.”

Star’s anxiety was palpable as he took Sable’s hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you Mr. Loam. Wow you’ve got a strong grip!”

Star was noticeably wincing in pain as Sable dragged out the handshake just a touch longer than was usually considered normal. Chrysalis noticed Star’s eyes nervously flick to the military dog tags dangling from Sable’s neck. Finally, Sable released Star from his grip and his gaze drifted from the anxious teenage boy to his house.

“So, this is where you live, huh?” Sable said, his gaze not leaving the house.

“Uh, y-yeah. With my Bubi,” Star answered.

Sable let his gaze linger on the house just long enough to get the message across: I know where you sleep.

“Alright, let’s get going!” Sable said, breaking his gaze with Star’s house and giving the boy in question a faux-friendly slap on the shoulder hard enough to elicit a quiet whimper from him.

With both Chrysalis and Star Tracker riding in the back, the drive to the movie theater was uncomfortably silent and was broken up only once when Sable elected to up the tension even more.

“You ever seen a gun before, Star Tracker?” Sable asked as they stopped at a red light.

“Uh…w-what?” was Star’s nervous reply.

Sable then reached over, opened the glove box and to even Chrysalis’ shock, pulled out what appeared to be a loaded handgun.

“One of these,” Sable said, holding it up so Star could see it.

Noticeably sweating now, Star managed to stammer, “Y-yeah. Yeah, I’ve seen ‘em….”

“You ever shoot one before?”

“Uh…not really, no. No.”

Sable just looked him dead in the eye and gave him a nod. “Mm. Hope you never have to.”

With that, the light turned green, and Sable put the gun back into the glove compartment but didn’t bother to close it before he pulled through the intersection and kept driving. At that moment Sable suddenly started to chuckle, which very quickly evolved into full blown laughter. Before Chrysalis knew it, Sable was just laughing like a complete maniac while in the glove box beside him, his handgun sat in plain view just chilling next to the car’s registration.

Chrysalis and Star both exchanged a look, and although neither of them said a word, the mental conversation was clear.

Is your dad fucking insane? asked Star’s terrified facial expression.

I think he just might be, replied Chrysalis’s own mortified face.

Finally, Sable’s mad laughter petered out, and he said, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I just thought of a very funny Saturday Night Live skit.”

None too soon, they arrived at the movie theater and Sable said, “Alright, you kids enjoy the movie!”

“ThankyouverymuchMr.Loam!” Star exclaimed, wasting absolutely no time in getting out of the car.

Chrysalis lingered just a bit to lean over Sable’s shoulder. “Laying it on a little thick, don’t you think?” she asked.

Sable just shrugged. “I may have gotten a little carried away.”

Chrysalis sighed, smiling in spite of it all. “Alright, well thanks for the ride.”

“Don’t forget….”

“Yeah yeah, be home before six. I know the rules.”

“And make sure to always stay in a public place,” Sable added as Chrysalis stepped out of the car.

Now standing at the movie theater entrance, Chrysalis gave Star a little nudge and asked, “You good?”

“Yeah, just…what’s the deal with your dad?” Star asked. “Has he, like…killed people before?”

Deciding not to correct Star’s referring to Sable as her dad, Chrysalis remembered that she had witnessed first hand just what an efficient killer Sable Loam was, but she couldn’t exactly tell Star that.

“Well, he was a Ranger in the Army. Served in Afghanistan,” Chrysalis said, opting for a lie by omission only. “The one time I asked him what he did when he was in the Army, the only answer he gave me was that he’d done some things he wasn’t proud of.”

It was the truth. Sable never talked to her at length about his time in the US military, and Chrysalis didn’t expect him to any time soon.


“Don’t let him bother you too much, he was just messing with you. He’s actually very sweet once you get to know him.” What Chrysalis didn’t mention was that of the three people in that car, Sable was only the second most dangerous. “Anyway, have you got the tickets?”

“Oh yeah!” Star exclaimed, his mood instantly picking up now that the talk of the horrifying father-figure interaction was being left behind. “We should have enough time to get some snacks and get in before the previews start!”

As Chrysalis and Star Tracker entered the movie theater, a group of three young boys around the age of ten were just leaving in the company of their chaperone. Neither of the two groups acknowledged each other, passing like ships in the night. Had Chrysalis turned around while standing in line at the confections counter, she would have noticed Sunset Shimmer’s little brother Spike talking animatedly about the exciting superhero movie they’d just seen. And had Spike not been so wrapped up in the afterglow of a thoroughly enjoyable summer popcorn flick, he would have noticed Chrysalis. However, Featherweight did notice the apparent werewolf girl that he’d seen on Halloween a couple of weeks ago, and just like that he forgot all about the movie they’d just seen.

In spite of the truly amazing footage that Featherweight had captured on that night, he was until that moment very reluctant to show it to anyone. A big reason was that he had no idea what he had really seen that night, and whether showing someone would draw the werewolf girl’s attention to him. If she was really keeping her lycanthropy a secret like Featherweight suspected, if she found out he had this video of her, she might just decide to make him her next meal! That wasn’t, however, the only reason.


The Friday his parents first got him his new camera, Featherweight had been ecstatic and had wasted no time going outside and snapping photos in the yard. He must have spent hours out there just snapping photos of whatever caught his eye. Plants, birds, cars, squirrels, and sooner or later he had started snapping photos of people that interested him too. A woman sitting on her porch with a baby, an old man walking the biggest dog he’d ever seen, two kids his age playing in the yard.

And then he saw the older teenage girl across the street in her bedroom window. The sun had been going down, leaving the sky a beautiful mix of blues and oranges, and the girl was beautifully silhouetted by the light of her bedroom. With the autumn leaves of the nearby branches framing the bedroom window perfectly, it was the kind of shot you’d see on one of the professional photography sites Featherweight liked to visit, so he snapped a couple of photos without hesitation.

That was when he suddenly heard his mother’s shrill voice screaming, “FEATHERWEIGHT! WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?!

Featherweight didn’t even have time to explain that the stars had aligned to give him a perfectly composed shot before his mother had grabbed him by the arm and dragged him back into the house yelling furiously the whole time. Featherweight had been terrified: he’d never seen his mother so angry before in his young life. She’d brought him straight to his father, who had been in the living room watching TV, and had exclaimed to him that their son was a “Peeping Tom.” Whatever that meant.

Mom, what did I do?” Featherweight had asked her, on the verge of tears.


Featherweight hadn’t even noticed that the girl in the window was undressing, and he certainly didn’t understand why that was such a bad thing.

After calming his mother down, Featherweight’s father explained that taking pictures of girls without them knowing—especially if they didn’t have clothes on—was a Very Bad Thing. He then proceeded to give him a long lecture about what a boy and a girl who love each other do together, but by that point Featherweight was in tears and didn’t really understand.

“The most important thing to remember is consent,” his father said when he was wrapping up their talk. “Consent means that if you ever want to do that kind of thing with a girl—even if it’s something as seemingly harmless as taking her picture—you need to ask her if it’s okay first. Do you understand?”

Featherweight didn’t understand a lot of what his father said, but asking for permission made plenty of sense to him, so he nodded and promised to never do it again. His parents then both looked over his shoulder as he, to his regret, deleted the most beautiful photos he had taken that evening. They had then confiscated his camera and he was grounded for the rest of the weekend, only getting his camera privileges back when Halloween rolled around on Monday.

He made sure to ask for consent from every costumed trick or treater he photographed that night, except for one: the werewolf girl. He hadn’t expected the huge lupine he saw in Owl Park to turn into a girl, and after what he’d seen he was too scared to even approach her.

That was why, when he arrived home that fateful night, he downloaded all of the night’s photos onto his computer except for the video of the werewolf girl. He couldn’t help but picture his mom seeing it and asking him with barely contained fury, “Did you get her consent? Or are you still a Peeping Tom?” In fact, a few times over the course of the week, he very nearly deleted the video from his camera as if his parents were there looking over his shoulder. But every time the message popped up asking “Are you sure?” Featherweight always hit CANCEL. The video was one of a kind, something he’d never capture again even if he grew up to be an award-winning photographer like the ones on the sites he visited.

It was special and catching a glimpse of the werewolf girl at the movie theater made him realize that it was past time he showed someone.

But Featherweight remained quiet as he left the theater with his friends Spike, Pipsqueak, and his mother, who had agreed to be their chaperone for this little outing. He couldn’t afford to let her see it, she wouldn’t understand, and he’d just get in trouble again.

Fortunately, his opportunity came when they went across the street to Scoops. It was something of a family tradition that Featherweight and his parents went to Scoops—the ice cream parlor across the street from the movie theater—every time they saw a movie together. After buying ice cream for Featherweight and his friends, his mom’s phone rang and she stepped outside to answer what was likely to be one of her many lengthy work calls.

So, Featherweight and his friends took a seat at one of the tables, and after glancing at the other patrons of Scoops—seeing only a petite teenage girl with pale blue hair and a pink blouse on an apparent date across the parlor—Featherweight pulled his camera out of its bag.

“Do you guys wanna see something crazy?” he asked, and Spike and Pipsqueak nodded.

Featherweight brought up the video he recorded on Halloween and looked both of his friends in the eye. “What I am about to show you, you have to swear you won’t tell anyone,” he told them.

Pipsqueak laughed and said, “What, you get a picture of Bigfoot or something?”

Joining in the laughter, Spike said, “No, it’s probably just a big hairy guy that’s out of focus!”

The two of them laughed even harder, while Featherweight leveled his best serious glare at them. “I’m not joking, you guys! On Halloween I…saw something, and…I don’t really know what to do with it.” His two friends stopped laughing when they saw how serious he was. “Swear you won’t tell!”

Spike and Pipsqueak exchanged a look. “Okay okay, I won’t tell,” Spike said.

“Yeah, cross my heart and all that,” Pip added.

That was enough for Featherweight, so he flipped the camera’s playback screen towards them and played his recording from Halloween. He studied the faces of his two friends, who watched with confusion and intrigue.

“What is this, some kind of CGI animation?” Pip asked.

“Just watch!” Featherweight exclaimed, glancing briefly out the window where his mom was still on the phone.

Soon, the part of the recording where the apparent werewolf transformed into the girl played out, and to Featherweight’s surprise, it was Spike who gasped, “Chrysalis?”

“Chrysalis?!” Featherweight exclaimed, perhaps a tad loud. “Wait–Spike, do you know this girl?”

Suddenly looking very nervous, Spike brushed aside his hair and said, “W-well…sorta. She’s a friend of my sister’s, but….”

“Your sister?! You have to warn her! This girl’s some kinda monster!”

“Wait, are you trying to tell us this video is real?!” Pipsqueak asked.

Featherweight was about to answer in the affirmative when Spike suddenly said, “Are you crazy? Of course this isn’t real! It’s obviously done with After Effects.”

Featherweight wasn’t sure why, but Spike looked nervous. Beads of sweat appeared on his forehead even as he was taking another bite of his ice cream.

“It is real! I saw this with my own eyes!” Featherweight insisted.

“Yeah, sure you did. It’s just that I can see the harsh lines where you comped it,” Spike insisted, clearly trying to look and sound more relaxed than he was. “I’ve watched tutorials for how to make this kind of stuff on YouTube. It’s not that hard!”

Featherweight couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Spike usually always took his side! “Why are you being like this? This is real, I swear!”

“Why are you being like this?” Spike asked in response. “I know you worked hard on your video, but why are you so desperate for us to believe that it’s real?!”

“Can we please not fight, guys?” Pip asked, looking back and forth between them with increasing worry.

“Excuse me, boys?” A soft female voice spoke up right behind Featherweight, and for a moment he thought his mom had busted him for being a “Peeping Tom” or whatever again.

He quickly realized that the soft, sweet high-pitched voice could not have been the much more mature and sophisticated voice of his mother and looked over his shoulder to see the girl in a pink blouse with pale blue hair in rolls that he had seen sitting across Scoops earlier. The boy she had been sitting with was still at that very same table but was idly checking his phone as his apparent date stood looking at Featherweight and his friends with kind eyes and a sugary sweet smile that gave her face dimples.

“I couldn’t help but overhear you mention the name ‘Chrysalis,’” the girl said, still smiling her sweetly innocent smile. “Is she, by chance, the subject of that video you boys have been arguing about so loudly?”

“What’s it to you?” Spike asked, sounding curiously defensive.

“Chrysalis is the name of one of my best friends at school,” the friendly girl said, idly fidgeting her foot on her toe as she played with a loose strand of her hair. “May I see that video? I’m curious if it’s the same Chrysalis that I know.”

“I don’t know…” Featherweight said. He’d only planned on showing it to his friends for now.

Pretty pleeeeeease?” the girl begged, giving him some pretty irresistible puppy dog eyes.

It should be fine if she’s this girl’s friend, Featherweight reasoned. He glanced out the window. His mother was getting more animated with her talking gestures, which meant she was far from finishing her phone call. “Okay, just a quick look.”

Featherweight showed her the video, and like with his own friends, studied the girl’s face for her reaction. But her face suddenly became an unreadable mask as she studied the video playing before her like a military tactician figuring out their next move.

“My friend’s practicing his VFX skills,” Spike said completely unprompted as she watched.

When the girl finally finished, she looked at Featherweight and said, “Have you showed this to anyone else?”

Featherweight shook his head. “Just you and my friends at this table.”

“Okay. Listen, sweetie…I need to take this from you.”

“W-what?” Featherweight said, pulling his camera away from the girl and clutching it tight.

At that, the girl let out a cute giggle. “I don’t mean your camera, silly! I just mean the video.”

“Oh…I don’t know….”

“Listen, uh…” the girl paused, and Featherweight realized she was prompting him for his name.


“Featherweight. My friend here is very camera shy. And the fact is, this isn’t a very flattering angle you have of her. What kind of friend would I be if I just left something like this in some stranger’s hands?”

Featherweight shrugged. “Not a very good one, I guess?”

“Right. All I want is to borrow that memory card for a sec to download that video to my laptop for safekeeping.”

Featherweight looked down at the camera in his hands. As dangerous as it felt holding on to that video, he still felt a sense of pride and ownership over it.

Seeming to sense his hesitation, the girl frowned and said, “There’s also the fact that by the looks of it, you took this video of her without her knowing.”

Featherweight could hear his father calmly but sternly explaining to him, Consent. You didn’t get her consent.

“I’m sure you didn’t mean anything bad by it, but you don’t want people to think you’re some kinda creep, right?” the girl continued.

Featherweight heard his mom’s voice next. I knew you were a Peeping Tom! Where did we go wrong raising you?!

He ejected the memory card from his camera. “Okay. You can have it.”

At that, the girl, whose cheery demeanor had been gradually fraying as the conversation went on, gave him a cute bubbly smile so fast it was almost jarring. “Thanks, Featherweight! You did the right thing!”

Taking the memory card, the girl quickly ran back to her table and pulled a bright pink laptop out of her bag. Featherweight glanced out the window at his mom, who seemed to be wrapping up her phone call. Just as quickly as she left, the girl returned and placed his memory card back into his hand…along with what appeared to be fifty dollars in cash.

Whoa!” exclaimed Pip.

“Split that amongst your friends however you want, as long as that video remains our little secret, okay?” the girl said, smiling sweetly one more time. “You’re doing my friend a huge favor. I’m sure she’ll be very grateful.”

Booting up his camera and seeing one less video in his media, Featherweight actually felt a sense of relief. It was an amazing video, but he was no longer sure it was worth the stress of having. He was perfectly okay with just forgetting the whole thing as the girl suggested.

“Thanks for this,” Spike said, curiously enough sounding relieved. “Glad to know Chrys has such dependable friends.”

At this the girl smiled so wide it almost seemed scary. “Oh, yes. She has no idea!”

After the movie, Star asked Chrysalis if she wanted to get ice cream, and craving something sweet after the salty buttery popcorn of the theater, she said, “Sure!”

To Chrysalis’s mild surprise, Star took her hand in his own as they walked out of the theater onto the sidewalk. Star nervously tried to smile at her, but Chrysalis’s mind was racing too fast to smile back as she started overthinking what was ultimately a simple gesture of affection. Star quickly let go of her hand, perhaps interpreting her lack of response as a sign that she wasn’t into it.

As they stood at the crosswalk waiting for the light to change, Chrysalis tried to wrap her head around the date so far. She was enjoying herself, that much was certain. The movie was good, and she’d made her own efforts to ‘put herself out there,’ so to speak.

Since Star had bought the tickets, Chrysalis had offered to buy the snacks, and rather than buy two small popcorns for both of them, she elected to buy one large. This was on the pretense that it was the cheaper option, but it also allowed her to tease him a little by brushing his hand with her pinkie finger whenever they both reached for a handful of popcorn at the same time. She had to admit, seeing his nervous reaction to that was hilarious and even cute. Even so, something about the whole thing just felt…off.

She realized what it was as the two of them sat down at Scoops (ironically and unbeknownst to her, at the same table Featherweight and his friends had been at hours before) with their respective bowls of ice cream. As she and Star casually joked around and talked about the movie they’d just seen, Chrysalis didn’t feel any pressure to flirt, or do anything similarly “date” like. She was at her most comfortable just talking with Star as a friend, and that alone was what made her realize how this date was going to end.

“Thanks for taking me out today, Star,” Chrysalis said as the two of them walked through the park after having finished their ice cream at Scoops. She gave him a shy smile and said, “I had a really nice time.”

“Really?” Star asked, clearing his throat. “So, I wasn’t a complete awkward mess?”

“You’re always a complete awkward mess,” Chrysalis said, nudging his arm. “But so am I, so you’re in good company!”

“That’s true. You’re the first girl I’ve met who talks like a supervillain when she gets excited.”

The two of them chuckled as they kept walking. Chrysalis pulled her jacket tighter around herself as a chill wind blew through the bare trees.

“Do you mind if I ask…see, I’ve been wondering for some time now…” Chrysalis stammered. “Seeing as I’m an awkward mess who occasionally talks like a supervillain…what exactly is it that you like about me?”

With a shrug, Star said, “What’s not to like? You’re smart, dependable, you have a twisted sense of humor, and of course…you’re absolutely gorgeous.” Star let out a nervous chuckle, more to distract from his own awkwardness than at anything particularly funny.

Chrysalis couldn’t help but smile, both at his own self-deprecating folly as well as the sincerity of his compliments. This was the first time anyone had called her gorgeous, and it gave her a fuzzy feeling inside that beat away the frigid November air better than a jacket and scarf.

“But more than all of that, you carry yourself with such…maturity,” Star continued. “I don’t know how to describe it, it’s like…it’s like you’re an adult in a girl’s body.”

Just like that, the warm feeling inside her plummeted into a dark, cold pit as Chrysalis realized the real reason this date just didn’t feel right.

Seeing the apparent change on Chrysalis’s face, Star frowned and said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to call you old or anything like that….”

“It’s okay, I’m not offended,” Chrysalis said, looking down at her hand and all at once being acutely aware of how it really looked. “I suppose I am quite old….”  Star gave her a confused look, and she quickly amended with, “I mean, I’m an old soul, if the term’s right. I like a lot of stuff older people do.”

“I guess that makes sense,” Star nodded in agreement.

Her deflection aside, Chrysalis wasn’t sure what to say further as she came to terms with the simple truth: That they were—almost literally—worlds apart. How could this sweet boy, who’d been raised in a loving home with a loving family, ever be able to relate to her, who had experienced and caused so much pain? Were all of those nice things he said about her even true? Or were they the image of some other, idealized Chrysalis who only existed in his mind? Would he still feel the same way about her if he knew the kind of person she really was?

And then there were the other concerns: despite the fact that she looked like a fourteen year-old-girl, she really had no idea how old she really was. By Earth standards alone, she was centuries old. But she’d also been punted back in time when she ended up in the Crystal Empire and had to live a thousand years of pain and misery. Given everything that happened to her, trying to figure out her true age was a trivial issue. But it also meant there was a gulf of maturity between her and others she knew. She could cross the gap for her friends, and for her family, but...could it work that way for love?

Suddenly, Chrysalis felt a hand on hers, and she saw Star looking at her with open concern. “Chrys? Is something wrong?”

“No. Why would there be?”

“it’s just…you’re crying.”

“I am?” Chrysalis asked, brushing her fingers across her cheek and finding them wet. “Oh. I guess I am.”

Star took her other hand in his and looked up into her teary eyes. “If there’s something wrong, you can tell me. It’s okay.” Star said softly, with a tenderness that suddenly made this small, awkward boy seem—like her—older than he appeared.

“No really, it’s fine,” Chrysalis said, wiping her eyes one last time with the sleeve of her jacket as she composed herself. “You’re pretty wise beyond your years too, you know. Not to mention sweet, funny and…charmingly dorky. Any girl would be lucky to be with you.”

Demonstrating some of that very same ageless wisdom, Star figured out where this conversation was going right away. “Just not you.”

“Yeah, just not me.”

The two stood facing each other beneath the bare trees of the empty park for several silent seconds. Chrysalis could see the crushing disappointment on Star’s face and decided to elaborate.

“I thought I was ready for this kind of relationship, but…I guess I still have a lot I need to figure out.”

“I understand,” Star said, his voice straining. He didn’t really understand, of course, but Chrysalis knew he was trying. “I hope we can still be friends.”

“Of course! You kidding? We’ll talk again in class on Monday, and there will be no arguing the point!”

Star chuckled. “Alright, Maleficent!”

Chrysalis laughed and gave him a whap on the shoulder. She then wrapped her arms around him and pulled him into an embrace, which Star returned after only a moment’s hesitation.

“Thanks again for today,” Chrysalis said before the two of them parted ways to return to their respective homes.

When Chrysalis arrived home that evening, Celestia was working on something on her laptop, stopping when she saw Chrysalis come in.

“So, how’d it go?” Celestia asked.


Celestia frowned. “Just fine?”

With a sad nod, Chrysalis said, “Yeah, we decided to just stay friends.”

“Well, I think that’s very mature of both of you.”

“Sure, it’s just…” Chrysalis sighed as she sat down at the table adjacent to Celestia, who took off her reading glasses. “I really, really wanted a relationship, if only so I could prove to myself that I’m not too…broken to have one.”

“You’re not broken, Chrys.”

“Aren’t I?” Chrysalis could feel tears start to well up in her eyes again, and she cursed her stupid heart for making her feel this way. “If I hadn’t lived multiple lifetimes of torture and pain—if I’d just been able to have a normal life—then maybe I could have had something good with Star Tracker. Instead, I….” She sniffed, and her voice broke as she said, “I don’t think I’ll ever be okay enough to find somebody to love.”

Celestia reached across the table and took Chrysalis’s hand as she quietly sobbed, feeling like an utter moron for it.

“You will find someone to love, and I’m not just giving you empty platitudes,” Celestia said. “You’re a good person with a good heart, Chrysalis, and you are so much more than the things you’ve suffered and done. That’s why the right person won’t care about any of that. You have value because of who you are right now, not who you were.”

Wiping her nose, Chrysalis said, “Yeah, I guess you’re right. Still, I don’t think I’ll be dating again any time soon.”

“And there’s nothing wrong with that.”

“Yeah, I guess there’s still a lot about myself I still need to figure out, in spite of what Luna’s dream analysis said.”

Celestia tilted her head. “What?”

“Don’t worry about it,” Chrysalis said, standing up from the chair and heading to her room. “Want me to help with the dinner?”

“No, it’s okay. Just take it easy, sweetie.”

It then occurred to Chrysalis that she was comfortable enough to give Star Tracker a hug earlier that afternoon. Surely, she could get over her issues for the woman who had done so much for her.

Chrysalis wrapped her arms around a slightly surprised Celestia and hugged her tight. “Thank you so much for everything, Mo…uh, Celestia.”

Celestia laughed and said, “Anytime, sweetie.”

Chrysalis let go and took another step towards her room.

“You know, it’s okay to just call me ‘Mom’ if you really want,” Celestia said with a grin. “You already did before, after all.”

Chrysalis was about to ask when she had done so when she remembered putting a drunk, sleeping Celestia to bed the night before. At least, Chrysalis had thought she’d been asleep.

“I see somebody was not nearly as drunk and passed out last night as they appeared,” Chrysalis said.

But Celestia just looked confused. “Oh, trust me, I was out like a light. There was nothing fake about the killer headache I had this morning.”

“Oh. Then…when did I…?”

“You’ve been slipping up for a while now, missy!” Celestia said with a laugh. “Just saying. Might as well own it!”

Chrysalis rolled her eyes. “Ugh, fine…Mom.”

The two of them giggled, and somehow Chrysalis found herself already feeling better about everything.

She wasn’t sure how it had all gone so wrong. As the months went on, letters from Sunburst on his quest for Rosegarden stopped appearing. Calyx tried to keep hope that her love was entirely focused on his toils and simply hadn’t time to write, but as time went on more and more she wondered whether he had simply forgotten her. Or worse, if he had suffered a terrible fate.

Then suddenly and without warning, Lord Briarthorn showed his true colors, and the depths of his depravity turned out to be beyond anything Calyx could imagine. He and his allies mustered their strength and launched a swift and brutal coup, attacking the capital and slaying indiscriminately like a pack of griffon reavers. The most loyal of her guards and servants were unceremoniously executed in front of her and soon she was entirely at Briarthorn’s mercy.

“You’ve just signed your death warrant, cur!” she spat as the wretch pinned her to the floor at the foot of her own throne. “When Sunburst returns with Rosegarden, he will use it to rend your head from your shoulders!”

At that, Briarthorn only laughed and said, “He’ll be hard pressed to swing a sword as a corpse in the ground!”

What was he saying? Was Sunburst…? No, he can’t be! “You lie!”

“I’ve lied about much, true enough, but now that your kingdom is finally mine, I have no more use for deception,” Briarthorn sneered. “My assassins have silenced Sunburst once and for all, and now you will be my queen. Purely for appearance’s sake, of course. In truth, you will be nought but my whore. A role far more suited to you, methinks.”

Still pinning her down on her stomach, Briarthorn moved to straddle her, and she could feel his hot stinking breath on her neck as he whispered almost tenderly into her ear, “Play the role well enough, and I may just give you Sunburst’s pelt as a wedding gift!”

What followed was what seemed an eternity of agony and humiliation the likes of which Calyx couldn’t have dreamed of in her worst nightmares. The hideous true face of Briarthorn’s cruelty showed itself to her as the monster penetrated her with flesh and steel both. Calyx screamed until she had no voice left and wept until she had no tears remaining. She was empty; a mere husk, and as she lay, defiled and mutilated in what had once been her hall of power, she silently prayed for death to save her.

Instead of death, something much different and far more useful came to her aid. Rage. Pure, burning anger and hatred began to burn within her like fire, starting as mere embers and growing into a white-hot blaze burning out of control.

Calyx rose on her gnarled, perforated legs, letting the pain fuel her fury. Briarthorn, who had since reclined on her throne, looked at her with wide disbelieving eyes as if she were the monster of the two of them. Fear and panic clear on his face, Briarthorn frantically ordered his guards to restrain her. She sent each of them flying with unnatural strength as she felt her body change until finally, there was nothing left between her and Briarthorn.

“Demon! Stay back!” Briarthorn exclaimed, pressing himself into the back of his stolen throne.

Calyx looked down at the pathetic, cowering stallion (somehow, she was much taller now) and said, her hoarse voice distorted by whatever magic was at play here. “Beg for your life, you miserable wretch. Beg for my forgiveness!”

Still sitting on his ill-gotten throne, Briarthorn bowed his head low and actually started to weep. “Please…forgive me! I will do anything you ask, just please…please don’t kill me!”

She sneered and said, “Good. This role is far more suited to you, methinks.”

She then ducked her head and rammed her now twisted horn through Briarthorn’s cold black heart. When the last of his death throes finished and he lay still, Calyx pulled her horn from Briarthorn’s body. Her tormentor was dead but seeing his corpse did nothing to calm the burning tempest within her. She was seeing red, and it wasn’t just the blood that had poured from Briarthorn’s heart over her eyes. She ended it too quickly. She should have made him suffer longer. Yes, suffer like she suffered.

The doors to the hall suddenly opened, and more of Briarthorn’s mercenaries poured in. When they saw the slew of bodies and Calyx standing at the center of them, all of them stared at her, their mouths agape.

“What in Tartarus is that thing?!” one of them exclaimed.

“Whatever it is, it killed our patron,” another said.

The apparent leader of this particular group drew his sword. “Words won’t work with this thing. Best to just kill it quickly!”

The rest of the mercenaries drew their swords and the thing that had once been Queen Calyx grinned, taking a step towards them as a sickly green magical energy crackled all around her. They would suffice as a target of her anger.

The next stretch of time was a blur to the former Queen Calyx as she moved through the castle killing all who crossed her path. There was just so much blood everywhere, she could no longer tell the difference between one face and another. Every pony who crossed her path looked at her with the same expression of horror and revulsion that she hadn’t even noticed that she had long run out of mercenaries to slaughter and had moved on to exacting vengeance on innocents.

At long last, a female voice returned some of her senses. CALYX! CEASE THY MAYHEM, ANON!

Blinking some of the gore out of her eyes, she looked around. She was standing in the market square at the center of town. Buildings were burning, and she couldn’t remember whether Briarthorn’s forces had done that, or she had. Same with the bodies strewn around her.

She then found the source of the voice: a figure on two legs with blonde hair and wearing the armor of a knight. Calyx knew her on sight.

“Late is the hour of your arrival, Megan!” She spat. “Where were you when all those loyal to me were being slaughtered? Where were you when I was being tortured and defiled! WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THE ONLY PONY I HAD LEFT TO LOVE WAS SLAIN?

Like the others, the Megan looked at her like she was a monster and not a pony. But unlike them, the Megan regarded her not with terror and disgust, but with pity. It mattered not to Calyx.

She slammed a hoof down, cracking the cobblestone beneath her. “ANSWER ME!

“I proffer mine most humble apologies that I wast unable to save thy soul,” the Megan said solemnly. “Either thee ‘r Sunburst.  All I canst doth anon is to stand ho further bloodsh’d.”

“So, you would turn your blade on me, now? You are no different from the rest of them!”

She then looked down at the fountain that was the centerpiece of this once great city. The water was filthy; tainted by the bodies now floating in it, but she could still see her reflection, and the creature looking back at her was a stranger. Where once there was a soft white coat there was now black chitinous skin. Her once regal horn was now gnarled and twisted like the branch of a dead tree. She had fangs, a green carapace and perhaps most surprising of all, insect-like wings.

She looked from her strange reflection to the Megan and asked, “What have I become?”

The Megan looked at something distant and perhaps not even present. “I ken not. I hath found thee as but a babe: a creature unlike any I’d ev’r seen ere ‘r since. At first, I kneweth not what with thee, but kept, did feed and car’d f’r thee. Then one day, ere mine own eyes, thou chang’st from an alien infant to an infant pony, and yond is what thee has’t been ev’r since.

“I discern’d I couldst not keepsake such a babe, so I keep-bond’d thee to the king and queen of this land, who hadst been unable to produce an heir of their own. They did love thee as if ‘t be true thee wast their own blood right up until the days of their deaths.”

Even in her right mind, the thing that had been Calyx would have had trouble processing this. Now, already broken and in pain, it was impossible. “You expect me to believe such lies?”

The Megan only gestured to the filthy water upon which Calyx had seen her reflection. “Doest not thou feel true thine own eyes? The soon’r thee accept the verity, the soon’r thou shall best able to pass this moot behind thee.”

There is no putting this behind me! Briarthorn took everything from me, and now you stand there and tell me my entire life was built on a lie!?

“‘Twas ne’er falsehoods. The love of thy family and loyal subjects wast true, as wast his love f’r thee.” The Megan then drew the sword on her hip and held it high above her head, and Calyx knew without asking what it was. “Sunburst did fulfil his gage to thee and hath found Rosegard’n.”

“For all the good it does for me now.”


Don’t call me that! I’m no longer Queen Calyx!” She took another look at the unrecognizable creature in the water’s reflection. “According to you, I never was Queen Calyx!” She then recalled her own studies into insect biology so, so long ago in a more innocent time. “I am trapped in an endless metamorphosis, an eternal chrysalis! That sword offers me nothing!

The Megan just looked at her sadly. “Mine apologies, child. ‘Tis all I can offer thee.”

“So let me have it then!”

With that, Chrysalis leapt forward, her fangs bared, and the Megan raised the blade that Calyx had been promised in defense. That was when Chrysalis awoke in her bed, sweating and panting.


It took her a while to remember where she was. She was in her bedroom, formerly the spare office in Celestia’s townhouse. The digital clock at her bedside told her it was three in the morning, and Chrysalis sat there in her bed for a few minutes, trembling as she tried to catch her breath. She felt so disoriented, that for a moment she forgot that what she’d just seen wasn’t how she turned from Crisalide to Chrysalis.

Chrysalis got out of bed and shambled her way to the bathroom, where she turned on the tap to try and clean some of the sticky sweat from her face. The dream felt so real, and even now, well after she’d awakened it was still clear in her mind, with none of the vague fuzziness that came with wakefulness. She hadn’t had a nightmare in weeks, and certainly never one like that. Where did it come from, and what did it mean? Maybe she’d have to talk to Luna about it again.

It suddenly occurred to her that perhaps the reason it didn’t feel like a dream was because it felt like something else: a memory. But whose memory? It certainly wasn’t hers.

It was then that Chrysalis’s hairs stood on end, and she felt the familiar sensation of being watched. She’d felt it a few times before when she was alone, hadn’t she? Yes, she remembered a number of times when she could swear the person she saw in the mirror was more than just her reflection.

Chrysalis turned the faucet off, closed her eyes and said quietly, “Okay, no more games. Whoever you are, I know you’re here.”

At first, silence was her only answer. But then she heard a voice in her mind so clearly that she could almost hear it reverberating off the bathroom walls.

I was wondering when you’d finally take notice of me.

Chrysalis opened her eyes and stared at the mirror’s reflection dead in the face. But her reflection was smirking at her, and what was more, she looked like how Chrysalis looked without her guise. A black chitinous horn extended from her forehead, spreading to the rest of the skin  around it. Chrysalis lifted her right arm, and her reflection mimicked. Only, Chrysalis still had five human fingers, while her reflection still sported a black hoof full of holes.

Forcing down the cold fear in her chest, Chrysalis asked, “Who are you?”

The real question is, who are you?” Her reflection said, still grinning that Cheshire grin. “You who have taken everything from me. My life. My body. Even my name.

Her heart beating faster, Chrysalis said, “I don’t understand.”

Foolish child. I am Queen Chrysalis!