Five Score: A New Hive

by bossfight1

Chapter 18: Cosplay

Chapter 18: Cosplay

WARNING: This chapter gets kinda "stab gouge slit gore splat AAAUUUUGH".

“Step aside, please,” I said, momentarily calm. Trixie, with a yelp, threw herself aside. In less than a second I’d lit up my horn and unleashed my magic.

The cage door blasted apart in twelve different directions. I walked out of the cage, stretching my stiffened legs as I looked around the cave. In that depressive haze that Prima had put me under, I didn’t bother to get a clear look around since I was too busy wallowing in self-pity.

I was such an idiot; I left myself open for Prima to leave a curse on me—the same curse Discord gave to the Mane Six when he’d first escaped, that warped their personalities into their complete opposites. She’d left me a depressive, submissive weakling… Yet she was right. My own foolishness nearly wiped out my people. If I hadn’t been so stubborn, we may have survived…

But then you’d have never met Liz.

I glanced to the side as though someone had just whispered in my ear, yet it wasn’t the voice of Trixie or one of the grubs. It was familiar, though… Too familiar.

Liz. I snapped out of my reverie and looked around. Down in the small alcove, where Digit, Shift and Echo had fought Prima’s drones, I could see something in the wall, illuminated by the glowing piles of goo. I hurried over; the grubs followed without hesitation, with Trixie right behind them.

I slid into the alcove and lit my horn. There, embedded in the preserving amber, were several people. They seemed so calm, as though in sleep…

But I knew just how sick this was. I’d done it for years for the sake of my subjects, but it took an outside perspective to see just how wrong it was, placing innocents in a coma and sucking off of their feelings for their loved ones. I knew Prima was only following my own stupid, stupid example, but it didn’t make me any less livid.

I scanned the cluster of comatose humans. I’d have to get them all out of here; I knew Bedford was near where the grubs were kept, there was an older, sharp-dressed gentleman I presumed to be Halford Sr., and--

I found a perfect balance between joy and horror when I found her. Liz seemed somewhat less serene than the others—she could probably tell something was wrong, like when you’re dreaming of having a conversation with someone and suddenly remember that they’ve been dead for a long time.

“Free the others,” I said to Trixie and the grubs. They complied as I reached into the amber with my magic and pulled. Liz came free, with some effort, and I caught her in my forelegs. I lowered her to the ground and brushed aside some of her hair, stuck to her face in the fluid. “Liz…” I whispered. She didn’t respond—likely shaking off the induced sleep.

The other captives were, one by one, pulled from their prisons. They seemed both terrified and confused at the sight of the changelings in the chamber, but didn’t give more than terrified glances as Trixie tried to get them to calm down. I didn’t know how long they would have before Prima and her drones would get back, but I’d hoped they could be out before then.

Trixie looked hesitantly at the amber holding Bedford. “Chrysalis, what about Bedford? She was having a heart attack…”

“Keep her in there…” I instructed, still trying to help Liz wake up; she was likely put into a heavier sleep than the others. “We’ll get her to a hospital or something when we’re done…”

“You think they won’t ask questions?” Trixie asked skeptically. “About why a pony and some bug-ponies are bringing a comatose woman to the ER?”

“Trixie, we can’t keep hidden forever…” I said, shaking my head. “Try as we might, eventually word will get out. Even a changeling will reveal itself in time. We’d best get used to it.”

I heard Trixie sigh. There was a wet “schlock” of an object being pulled from the amber by magic. “Keep her in this,” I heard Trixie instructing some of the captives. “When you get out, get her to the ER as soon as possible, okay?” The escapees didn’t seem in the mood to question their good fortune, or the odd circumstances of said fortune, as they shouldered Bedford, preparing to head out.

Halford Sr. was staring directly at me; usually the victims of our “mental hazing” could remember what had happened while under our control, and he clearly remembered that the past few days for him had a lot to do with me. “...It’s you…” he began.

“Not. A word,” I said firmly. I knew he was a pawn in Prima’s game, but I hadn’t forgotten some of his past business dealings. “When we’re out of here, just walk away and don’t make trouble for us again, you hear me?” Halford nodded quickly and kept his distance.

I returned my attention to Liz when she gave a soft moan. Her eyes fluttered open weakly. She shuddered, though I had a feeling it wasn’t just due to the feeling of cold air on her skin. Her lip trembled as her eyes darted around in fear and confusion. Finally, she looked up at me. “C-C-Chris?” She stammered.

“Shh…” I lit up my horn. A warming haze surrounded her shivering form. “We’re getting you out of here.”

“I had a feeling…” she whimpered. “They had me at home… with you… Just us, just being together... I was happy, but… but I knew something was wrong… so wrong…”

“I know…” I said, resting my head against hers.

She was silent for a moment. “...You really are Chrysalis…”

“...Yes…” I said. “I still think I have, and will, cause you more pain than you’ll ever deserve, but… Liz, the thought of living without you… Even if we can’t beat Discord, it makes me sick… I… I need you, Liz…” I really couldn’t put it any other way. I lifted her head. “I love you…”

Liz stared at me for the longest time. Then, slowly, carefully, she reached up with a hand and cradled my head. I brushed my head into her head, drinking in the warm sensation it offered, before helping Liz up and turning to the other humans. “Listen up!” I said, walking over and putting my back to the rest of the chamber. “Me and my subjects are going up the tunnel first to ensure the surface is clear; once we’re sure it is, we will cover you while you escape. Get to a cop, some random house, anything… Just get to safety.”

“Safety...” came a voice from behind us. Every head immediately turned towards the center of the chamber, above the clutch of eggs. “Before long, nowhere will be truly safe,” said Prima, floating in the center of the chamber with roughly two hundred of her drones surrounding her.

Seeing Prima in person made my vision turn red. My mouth began to water at the thought of spilling her traitorous blood. “You…” I snarled. I stepped forward. “I was angry enough when you warped my mind… I was livid enough when you took my eggs-- my children, to serve the ends of you and your bastard of a master…”

I took a breath and jerked my head towards Liz. “But you fucked up the worst when you threatened her.

Prima actually looked amused, happy, even. “That’s the Chrysalis I knew… The Chrysalis I actually missed. Not that foolish weakling of a boy you’d become, content to lazing around, never daring to dream big!” She extended her forelegs. “Well, I did dream, Chrysalis! I’ve joined the greatest power Equestria has known, and soon our kind shall finally claim our due!! The Hive will blanket this world, stronger than you could have ever dreamed, and with Lord Discord’s blessing, Earth will be just the beginning!!”

The “other” voice flared up. “Oh my god, will you shut the fuck up…” I snapped in annoyance before I realized what I was saying. I frowned; this was beyond bizarre.

Prima gave a surprised laugh; I could feel the perplexed glances of Liz, Trixie and the grubs behind me. “I guess I’d spoken too soon…” Prima chuckled. “Two souls, so conflicting, can’t so easily share the same body, it seems…”

I narrowed my eyes. “Do you really think I’m stupid enough to keep listening to you? You warped my mind out of cowardice, Prima… You knew you couldn’t take me on, so you decided to break me. Part of it was my fault for letting you get so close, but you’re no less spineless for it.”

Prima scowled for a moment, then forced a cruel smile. “Discord has granted me the power to level cities, Chrysalis… The only reason I chose not to fight was because I needed you alive. I couldn’t risk damaging you to a point where you couldn’t lay our precious bounty. But now I see you are far more trouble than you’re worth. I’ll end you here, now, then Lord Discord will grant me the gift I need to expand our numbers, once I will fulfill his wishes…”

I raised an eyebrow. “Which are?”

Prima smirked; she probably thought I wouldn’t benefit from knowing if she’d thought me to be dead in a few minutes. “I will find the Bearers of the Elements… They will watch as my Hive begins to spread across this nation, slowly spreading like wildfire until it finally corners them… And then they will serve their ultimate purpose.” She extended a hoof towards me. “Just as you could have served yours. But you’ve wasted my generous gift, Chrysalis. Even in your failure you could have helped the changelings arise into a world-spanning power that would topple empires… But you defied me. You defied Discord. And now you will pay the price.”

She looked to her drones. “KILL THEM!!” She shrieked.

I glanced back at Liz, Trixie and the captives. “STAY BACK!!” I bellowed before turning to Echo. I’ll keep the majority of them busy. Try and thin out the ones in the back.

Yes, Mother, came Echo’s reply. Her eyes flickered towards her siblings as she relayed my orders to them. I looked up at the swarm that was bearing down on me.

Their scent was off, and not just because they weren’t of my brood… They were born of Prima herself. This was why they were reduced to puddles when slain, unlike a true changeling, which left a true cadaver behind.

I smiled. My horn lit up and I unleashed a volley of blasts. Nearly all of them struck home, piercing the drones’ chitin like a rock through wet tissue; those who weren’t quick enough to dodge dropped from the air and hit the ground with a wet splat as they liquidized, those with keener reflexes still suffered a serious burn in their wings or bodies.

Dozens of them suddenly divebombed me; the grubs immediately ducked to the side to combat any foes that weren’t focused on me. I conjured a thick green barrier, much like that of Shining Armor’s in Canterlot--

Oh, that reminds me, if we find Shining Armor after this, we should probably apologize for all that.

Shut up!! I thought angrily as the drones slammed into my shield almost simultaneously. With a powerful thrust I gave the barrier a quick burst and sent them flying, either colliding painfully with their allies or smashing into the wall, some of them immediately being reduced to stains from the impact.

“Kill her!! KILL HER!!” Prima shrieked, very much like a child not getting her way. Some of the drones who were combating the grubs diverted their attention towards me, but they seemed to have second thoughts. Despite being born of Prima’s essence, they seemed independent… and could very much feel fear, judging by the fact that they kept glancing at each other, non-verbally daring each other to go first.

Finally, three of them approached, the fear in their eyes betraying the otherwise brave attempts at viciousness in their snarls. I raised an amused eyebrow and focused my magic.

An aura surrounded each of their throats. With a very satisfying ‘POP!’, their necks snapped in awkward positions. I dropped the convulsing fakes to the floor and evaluated the situation.

Digit was weaving between her attacker’s swings and rushes, focusing her magic on plucking their wings and sending them falling to the floor or simply tricking them into attacking each other. Shift, the soldier that he was, was deep in his element; when he wasn’t finishing off drones injured by Digit, he was viciously snapping limbs, gouging his combatants with his horn or simply firing off blasts of magic that critically injured, if not killed those he managed to hit. Echo was doing something different—it was a harsh maneuver, rarely used, but given the situation I allowed it; she, like Digit, was effortlessly dodging the drones’ blows, but kept her horn lit the entire time. Every time she got an opening she pressed her horn onto the head of her foe; its eyes suddenly flashed green, then blacked out, like a light bulb burning out. The foe would then, quite literally, drop dead and melt.

I peered back at the humans. Trixie, having some of her true memories restored, as well as some of her arcane prowess, was maintaining a flimsy but effective barrier, to keep the chaos of the fight from endangering the captives. The humans stood at the ready, prepared to bolt at the first sign of an opening.

I returned my attention to the fight. There were still at least a hundred drones left, and they seemed to acknowledge that numbers did not, necessarily, guarantee victory. Prima was screaming at the top of her lungs, ordering someone—anyone—to attack, to fight, to actually land a damned blow. She didn’t seem to realize that, not only were these drones born of her own flesh inferior to a true changeling, they were even more so because of her own ineptitude, and her mere status as a drone in my own Hive, all those years ago.

Regardless, the drones seemed to look to Prima for guidance, as though hoping she could take some of the hits for them. Prima roared— quite literally, with the deep bellow of some horrible demon—and, with a sweep of her horn, smote some of the errant drones. The rest dropped to the floor and cowered, now more terrified of her than of me and my own brood (to my annoyance).

Prima’s eyes fell on me. “Enough…” she growled, furious spit flying from her maw. “You are an arrogant bug, Chrysalis!! You can’t… you won’t… stand in the way of the destiny of our people!!”

“The destiny you seek is an abomination!!” I yelled.

“WE WOULD DO EXACTLY AS YOU DID FOR HUNDREDS OF GENERATIONS!!!” Prima roared. “You think yourself better? You believe what we did to your precious mate to be an atrocity?! I knew you foolish, Chrysalis, but I never believed you to be so hypocritical!! You damned thousands—ponies, griffons and all—into that deep sleep!! And only now do you believe this to be wrong?!”

I grit my teeth. “Twenty-five years has a way of teaching you what is necessary… and what is completely despicable, what drives your people to becoming the monsters they are believed to be.” I began to hover until I was at eye level with Prima. “When we are finished… When Equestria is restored, and when Discord is dust, we will no longer be outcasts, we will no longer be thought of as the bane of ponykind. This is what a leader should do, Prima!! A true leader decides when to act for their people… and when to act for their world. And you are far too focused on the former.”

“Indeed I am,” Prima said. “What I do now, I do for the Hive. And I’ve come too far to allow you to stop me.”

Her horn lit up. The cowering false changelings below suddenly all began to scream in horrified agony. Within seconds they all liquidized, forming an immense puddle that nearly encompassed the entire chamber; it made me sick to watch Prima’s tainted essence touch my eggs, even the ones she had already corrupted.

Prima dropped to the floor and landed in the slime. She took a deep breath-- like a sponge, she began to absorb the liquid essence into her. The puddle shrank, but her body seemed to grow… Her horn lengthened, her mane became wilder, and her wings became longer than her entire body, big enough that she would need to flap them more like a bird than like an insect.

Uh, do something?!

I listened to the “other”. I flew down, holding my horn out in an attempt to gouge the wretch’s throat.

With a single, almost aggravated swing of her hoof, she smacked me. Feeling like I’d been struck by an Ursa Major, I flew back towards the wall Liz had been encased in. I slammed into the wall hard enough to shake dust from the ceiling. I let out a low gasp of agony as the impact reverberated throughout my body.

“Chris!!” Liz cried. She reached out for me.

“NO!” I yelled as I glanced at Prima; she was still absorbing the pool, and I could see the other remaining stains scattered around the Hive slowly moving towards her, seeking to reform with the being that had birthed them. “You—all of you—” I gestured at all the captives. “—need to get out of here!! NOW!!”

The captives needed no other persuasion, since the only real threat remaining was somewhat occupied. The humans scrambled up the ramp, careful not to slip on the damp rock as they ran up the tunnel. The two men carrying Bedford kept a tight grip on her, making every effort not to drop her.

Trixie and Liz, on the other hand, stayed. “No, no, we’re not leaving!!” Trixie yelled. “We’re in this together!!”

“There’s no time!!” I shouted as I shakily stood up. “Either you run and have a chance at finding the Mane Six, or you all stay and we all die!! YOU NEED TO GO!!”

Liz shook her head. “No.”

Echo… I thought. Get them out of here. Please.

Echo was silent for a moment. She looked between Digit and Shift for a moment, before finally nodding. Yes, Mother… Her reply was much quieter than normal.

I WILL see you again… I urged. If I’m reduced to a smear I WILL come back to you. I promise you this.

Echo gave a shaky nod. Over the low roars of pain Prima let out as she absorbed her essence, I could have sworn I heard her sniffle. ...Be careful, Mother…

Echo and her siblings nodded at each other; then Digit and Shift both wrapped their forelegs around Trixie’s middle and lifted her up. “No, no!! Chris!! CHRYSALIS!!!” She shrieked as Digit and Shift carried her towards the exit.

Echo wrapped her forelegs beneath Liz’s flailing shoulders. “LET ME GO!!” Liz shrieked.

I hurried to her. “It’ll be fine…” I assured her. “This isn’t goodbye…” She didn’t seem convinced… Hell, I didn’t feel very convinced. I was going up against the crazed minion of one of the most powerful, malevolent forces Equestria had ever known… I was… I was scared.

My eyes locked with Liz’s.

Seven months. Compared to the hundreds of years I’d lived, seven months as queen felt like a weekend as a human. Yet, even now, when I’d remembered just how long I’d lived, the love I’d faked, the love I’d consumed…

Her love meant more to me than anything else. It kept me going, yet it wasn’t just food to me.

It was everything.

I leaned in and kissed her, with every ounce of passion I could muster. She returned it in full, and then some. My own veins threatened to pierce my chitin as a flood of energy coursed through my body. Liz… she didn’t care that she was kissing what was, to her, basically the mouth of a horse… She didn’t even care that, with every ounce of love she put into the gesture, I felt I could take on Discord himself…

All she cared about was showing how much she loved… me. Me, Chrysalis, and me, Chris… One in the same.

I would have let that moment go on forever, but Liz seemed to know better. Our lips parted. She looked me dead in the eyes, all fear gone. “Fuck. Her. Up.”

I smiled. “I will. Now go.” She looked back at Echo and nodded; Echo lifted her up and carried her after Digit and Shift, who had disappeared with Trixie up the entrance. We managed to lock eyes one last time before they rounded a corner and were out of sight.

I took a deep breath and turned back towards Prima. She was now roughly twice my size; purple energy sparked from her horn, and she seemed to twitch every second, practically overflowing with her corrupted magic. I supposed absorbing the essence of her dead spawn wasn’t exactly a good call, but then she hadn’t had many of those. “You’ve bought them a few hours, at best,” Prima said, the distortion in her voice sounding like she was ten people speaking at once.

“A few hours without looking at your ugly mug?” I said with a smirk. “Still a victory, I think…”

Prima let out another demonic roar and charged. I leapt into the air, performing an old-time classic, often referred to as “tricking the brick-shithouse into running into a wall.” Prima left an indentation roughly the size of her face in the wall. I hovered over to the far side of the chamber before looking down.

The eggs!! I thought with a panic. Instinctively I reached down with my magic, if only to get them out of harm’s way, even the corrupted ones--

A blast of purple magic slammed into me, about as gentle as a speeding freight train. The blast slammed me into the cave wall, creating a hole about three times my size, edged with cracks that arced in every direction. I fell from the hole and slammed to the floor. Tasting blood in my mouth, I shakily stood up; my right hind leg felt broken. The point where the blast had hit me was still smoking and burning.

Prima was back on her own feet, not impressed by my rather simple tactic. With another screech she bolted forward, with speed that belied her size. I barely had time to duck to the side before she leapt up and smashed onto the spot I’d been barely a second previously. I recovered, trying not to put pressure on my injured leg, and fired a potent blast of magic at her.

It barely singed her chitin, but it was particularly effective on her wings, which burst into flame. Prima roared in agony, flapping her wings frantically in an attempt to put them out. While she was distracted I flew forward, wrapping my left hoof in green flame. I gave the strongest left hook I could muster; it wasn’t as effective as I’d have liked, but it made her stumble, leaving her open for another attack. I kept going forward and wrapped my forelegs around her neck. Prima snarled and spit like a furious cat as I fired another blast directly into her eye.

The eye burst into a mess of blue and red goo. Prima’s scream made the entire chamber vibrate as she flailed her head in pain, trying to shake me off. I thought to go for the other eye. I adjusted my grip to get a better shot--

Her horn flared. A blast, at point-blank, detached me from her neck and sent me flying to the floor, skidding painfully across the cavern. I felt myself slide through something moist and round as I skidded and slammed, back-first, into the opposite wall.

I shook my head. Prima was still half-screaming, half-sobbing, trying to make sense after losing her eye. Her wings had completely burned away, reduced to ash that scattered everywhere as Prima flailed in agony. I smirked; maybe this could work out. Her left side was, literally, her blind side; I just had to stick there--

I noticed a sticky sensation in my tail. I looked down to see a green liquid staining it.

It wasn’t the essence of one of Prima’s goons. I looked to the center of the chamber.

My heart sank. I’d smashed eight of the sixteen eggs that had been laid in the center of the Hive. Most of them were corrupted. Most of them.

An anguished cry left my mouth. The waves of depression that had felt so distant barely minutes ago were suddenly returning.

I’ve killed them… Just like I killed my people… Just like I doomed them to starve…

Prima was on me. The anguished mindset flickered out just as she slammed her hoof into my face, again and again. I felt her stomp with all four hooves on top of me, screaming with a crazed fury only years of bitterness could produce.


She stomped with both front hooves on my face. Blood poured freely out my nose. My vision faded in and out, and the taste of blood was dominating my mouth—I might have lost a few teeth.

Prima turned me onto my back and pressed a hoof to my throat, restricting my breathing. She leaned in close and hissed in my ear, “You fight for nothing!! Even if you won here, then what? Your precious ponies won’t stand a chance against Lord Discord!! And he won’t banish them again, ooohhh no… He’ll kill them!! Torture them! EAT THEM!! He will make them suffer for defying him… Just as I will make you suffer… for defying ME!!”

She raised her head; her horn lit up.

I tried to move my head, and only got a wave of agony for my trouble. I tried to light up my horn, only to get a few pitiful sparks.

Time slowed. The crackling sounds of Prima’s horn faded out.

So this is how it ends… I thought. In spite of everything, I fail here… I fail my people again… I fail Liz…

I closed my eyes. At least now, there won’t be any more pain.

So that’s it?

I opened an eyelid. I don’t see much point in fighting any more, Chris…

Mmm… I can think of… Quite a few points in fighting, actually.

Chris, I’m broken… Literally… I’m… We’re done…

So… Chris was quiet for a moment, as though picking his words carefully. ...Okay, this is just coming from a nerd, but all of your shapeshifting powers, and all the times I-- WE, spent playing games and having all those nerd fantasies of BEING in those games, and you were content with “flying around and tossing light shows at her”?

I opened my eyes fully and looked up at Prima, who looked about ready to deal the finishing blow.

She had the same issue; resorting to using magic to beat her foes into submission. But what Prima had in power, she definitely lacked in imagination.

Mind if I take the wheel for a bit?

I smirked. Be my guest.

I changed form.

Prima’s spell hit me at full force…

...bounced off of my new shoulder plate, and flew up to the ceiling, creating another sizeable hole in the structure. Prima made a confused exclamation as she stepped back. I stood up, feeling the weight of the armor on my immense human shape, the heavy broadsword I carried in my right hand.

I stared at Prima, who stared back, wondering what I was gonna do.

I took the sword in both hands, and began spinning on one foot, holding the sword out horizontally at waist-height. Spin to win, kids.

“DEMACIA!!!!!” I roared, spinning with increasing speed while leaning towards a baffled Prima. I couldn’t make out what was happening through the blur, but within seconds I felt the sword strike home. It sliced twice into Prima’s chitin, both times invoking a pained shriek from her. The third and fourth times sliced something… fleshier. Something wet splattered across the cold stone floor as Prima yelled out in agony. I stopped spinning, impressed at how I’d managed to not throw up. I held the sword in a defensive pose, ready for Prima to strike back.

“What are…” she said, before gasping in pain. She lifted a hoof to her gaping wound, which was spilling a fair bit of her green blood.

I dropped my Garen guise. My natural form wasn’t in a much better shape than moments before, but I could stand again. “I figured, I might as well have a bit of fun,” I said with a smirk, ignoring the still overwhelming pain that rang throughout my body.

Prima snarled in agitation before charging. Next up… I thought. I changed form.

I wrapped an immense gloved hand around Prima’s startled face. Her legs swung from her forward momentum as I lifted her by the head into the air. Then, with a guttural roar, slammed her into the ground, creating another hole in the increasingly damaged cave. I lifted my metal-plated boot high up and brought it down hard on her head. Prima flailed her legs, her muffled screams barely audible as she tried to push my foot off of her; a burst of heat under my foot told me she was firing off spells in an attempt to free herself.

I lifted my right arm and revved the enormous drill that replaced my right hand. I pointed it downwards and brought it down on her left foreleg. The tip managed to fit through one of the holes that littered her legs, by about an inch. The rest of the drill began to make room. Prima’s muffled screams shot up several octaves, and her flailing intensified. The end of her hoof had been shortened by about four inches, and bits of it were flying all across the floor.

I finally stopped the drill and removed my foot. Prima was still screaming in disbelieving agony. I returned to my normal form; during each shift I took some time to heal some of my wounds. Liz’s good luck gift had given me plenty of energy to spare; my hind leg was feeling better, and I could actually stand up straight now. “You done?” I asked.

Prima stopped screaming for a moment to give me a seething glare, so full of hatred I thought I’d burst into flames. “How… how are you doing this?!?!”

I shrugged. “Power is only good if you know how to use it.”

Prima roared; to my disbelief, she managed to stand up, hanging her crippled foreleg up like an injured dog. Her horn lit up. I quickly lit up my own and fired a blast that knocked her horn towards the ceiling. The cave seemed to be unable to take much more-- immense piles of rubble and debris fell from the ceiling. I threw myself away from Prima just as an enormous rock crashed on the spot I’d just been standing, breaking her line of sight.

I scurried behind the newfound cover and peered around it. No matter what I could pull out of my nerd repertoire, this was still anyone’s game right now; one false move and Prima would have me bent over the sofa.

I frowned momentarily; it wasn’t lost on me how I’d suddenly swapped between “serious and temperamental” and “goofy and stupid”. I still wanted Prima to pay, but I… guess there was nothing wrong with having a bit of fun with it, especially if the only way to win was to have fun with it.

I spotted Prima limping furiously around, searching for me. “Where are you…” she croaked, holding her ravaged foreleg to her body, green blood pouring freely from the stump. “You… psychotic… witch!!”

Psychotic? I thought with a smile.

I changed form. I tested the weight of the axe that was now in my hand.

Changing into a person with specific clothing, or holding a specific object was quite possible-- it just took extra love. It’s like carving a statue of a man with a sword; it may look like he’s holding a stone sword, but in reality the sword was built into his hand, so the sword is a part of him. That’s how it worked with more specific impersonation-- spending more love to add some details to your persona.

And right now, the detail I’d added was a vicious, bloodstained axe.

I hung low and waited for Prima to turn away. She needed to be close, but not too close… I wanted her to have enough time to react.

Prima peered behind the rock pile closest to me. Now. I planted a foot on my cover, held the axe high, and launched myself towards Prima.

I HAVE THE SHINIEST MEAT BICYCLE!!” I screamed as I went airborne.

Prima spun around, startled, and spotted the buzz axe in my hand. Her horn lit up, and an aura enveloped the axe, keeping it from swinging down onto her, just inches from hitting its mark.

Just like I’d hoped; while the axe had certainly stopped, my own momentum hadn’t gone anywhere. I focused it all on swinging my thick-booted foot forward, straight towards her jaw. It connected.

With a sound like someone stepping on a glass on a gravel driveway, her lower jaw shattered. Teeth flew out of her screaming mouth as she stumbled back, her wails sounding like she was screaming into a pillow. The magic faded from my axe, allowing me to use it freely. I landed on the ground and swung it horizontally at the Garen wound I’d given her. I planted the axe securely in the wound and revved the buzzsaw. More of her innards sprayed the floor, the walls, my face-- every conceivable surface was covered in her gore.

I tore the axe from Prima’s chest, panting heavily as I changed back. Prima fell to her uninjured foreleg, and vomited. She fell to her right side, panting. She never dropped her contemptuous glare, though. “Yurr… Yurr hurhurr…” she said, which I translated roughly as ‘broken jaw-speak’ for “You… You haven’t…”

I gave her a deadpanned look. “...Okay, no, seriously, I think it’s safe to call this victory ‘decisive.’”

Prima’s horn flashed. I was sent flying against the wall again. I recovered quickly and shot a scowl at her; she was struggling to get back up.

Okay, fuck this. Form of…

I changed form. I looked down at Prima, who stared, terrified, up at me. She gave a little whimper that is universally translated as, “I am so fucked.”

I stomped towards her. Prima screamed and lit up her horn, but I’d already leaned down towards her and opened my immense mouth. I wrapped the bitch in my jaws and bit down, hard. It felt, and tasted, like I was chewing on a pinecone, but I kept grinding her in my teeth, her hind legs sticking out of my mouth and disgustingly twitching the entire time.

Finally, after giving her a good flail like a dog with its chew toy, I flung Prima from my mouth towards the ceiling. She smashed into the roof, leaving a green bloodstain twice her size, and fell to the floor with a satisfying crash.

Then, for good measure, I gave her a quick stomp before returning to Chrysalis form.

Prima seemed to deflate as her green blood gushed from her crushed and cracked chitin. Her still-functioning eye was wide in shock; she was clearly in pain, too much to even let her scream. Her broken jaw hung at an awkward angle from her open mouth, the occasional pained gurgle escaping her throat. Her eye was fixated on me-- she seemed worried, almost curious, as to what I would do next if she got up again.

I approached her and kneeled a leg onto her throat-- not enough to restrict her breathing, but enough to keep her pinned. “I ask again; are we done?”

“Yurr… curr…” she gurgled. “Lurr… Ishcurr… hromished eee…”

I raised an eyebrow. I reached down and, with deliberate force, pushed her jaw back in place with a series of cracks. “Wanna try that again, Tom Hardy?”

“You can’t…” Prima rasped. “Lord Discord… promised me…”

My smile fell. “Let’s be honest, Prima… Let’s say you did kill me in this whole ordeal. Then you tracked down the Mane Six, and all the other ponies… Do you really think Discord would live up to his end of the bargain? It’s not that far a stretch in logic to assume you’re just his pawn, and once you’d finished the job… He’d send you adrift.”

“Shut up…” she growled, angry bubbles of green blood forming in her flooded throat.

“Face it,” I said. “There was no outcome that ended well for you, Prima.”

She narrowed her eye. “...So finish it, then.”

My face froze. Did she just…

We have to.

No… I thought back. ...No, I, I can’t… Even after everything she did, I couldn’t…

I understand… But either we end her here, or Discord betrays her and torments her for all eternity.

Don’t try and justify it! I argued. You’re trying to talk me into murdering her!!

Chris… She didn’t sound stern, angry, commanding… She sounded empathetic. I know how horrible this must sound-- I know you would never want to do this, in any circumstance… But the time for ‘normal’ is over. Look at her.

I was looking at her. It wasn’t just the pure agony of her wounds… There was a look in her eye, one filled with a despair I’d known for the past few days. She’d failed her master, and if she lived past this night, her suffering would only grow. If I ended her here…

Euthanasia isn’t THAT much easier than murder. I thought.

Chris… Please, do it for me…

New emotions poured into me-- one from my other half. Pity, sadness, a need to… comfort Prima… She was in pain, and there was some part of her, deep inside, that was begging for it all to stop.

A tear formed in her still-functioning eye.

...All right… I thought.

I lit up my horn.

Something struck me, sent me flying back with a less-than dignified “OWIE”. I slammed into the wall, knocking the wind out of me; the cavern shook more violently than ever, likely unable to handle any more stress.

I shook my head and coughed, trying to get my breath back. I looked up at my assailant.

The rage returned. “You…”

Floating some distance above Prima, his arms folded smugly, was Discord. He wasn’t anywhere near as goofy as his character appeared on the show… This amalgam of creatures was actually quite frightening… Mainly the goat head, with the piercing red and yellow eyes and cruel, almost hungry grin.

“You’ve done quite well for yourself, Chrysalis…” he wheedled. “I’d say you’ve been one of the more entertaining ones to watch through this whole ordeal.”

I bared my teeth and hovered up to meet his gaze. “That’s all we ever were to you… Just little toys for you to bump against each other.”

“Master…” Prima gurgled. “Master, I tried…”

Discord dropped down to the floor and planted his reptilian leg on Prima’s head with a great deal of force. “Hush,” he said dismissively. “We’ll discuss your incompetence later.” He folded his ‘hands’. “Now, dear Chrissi… It appears we are agreed that Prima is not fit to lead your people.”

I gave a brief nod. “Indeed.”

“You, on the other hand… You managed to fight off at least two hundred of her number, with only three of your own…” he tapped his goat chin with a talon.

“Well, that wasn’t so hard, considering they were little more than shadows of true changelings…” I said. I wondered if my little cosplay strategy would work on him…

“In that case, I’m willing to offer you a deal.” Discord folded his arms behind his back. “What I offered Prima, I now offer you.”

“Master?” Prima whimpered. Discord pressed his foot down harder, making her cry out.

“You aid me in disposing of the ponies-- the Bearers-- and I will restore every last changeling who died twenty-five years ago. You will be free to go about your own way-- Equestria, this world or the next, I honestly don’t care…” He smiled. “I believe I owe you as much.”

I glared at him. “I’m not even gonna pretend to consider your deal. Not only do I know that you’d stab me in the back down the line—like you did to every last pony in Equestria—but I wouldn’t do so even if you’d keep your word. You ruined the lives of millions—twice, even, since the human lives we were comfortable with came to an abrupt end.” I dropped to the ground. “Though I suppose I have you to thank… If it weren’t for you I’d have never met Liz, and I’d never have realized just how low we’d fallen…”

I gave him a determined look. “But you cannot be allowed to run free any longer. I’m going to find the Mane Six, we’re going to return to Equestria, and we’re going to ensure you cannot hurt anyone else, ever again!!

I honestly wasn’t surprised when he laughed. “Well, whatever happens…” he said, raising his eagle talon and preparing to snap his fingers. “It’ll at least be entertaining.” His mirth suddenly vanished, and he gave me a piercing glare. “See you soon.”

He snapped his fingers. I managed to catch a desperate, almost pleading look from Prima before the pair of them vanished in a flash of light.

I stared at the spot the pair had been for a few moments. The rush of the moment faded away. I slowly remembered that I didn’t have the slightest lead as to where the Mane Six could be. I sighed. “Well, great.”

The cave ceiling quaked. I looked up to see the multiple cracks from my little tussle with Prima arcing and snaking across the ceiling, the cavern groaning with distress. The cavern had taken plenty of punishment during the fight, and now it was punching out. “Are you fucking serious?!?!” I cried. I extended my wings to prepare to fly out, when my eyes fell on the eggs again. Of the eight that remained, there were only five pure eggs left from the battle.

A brief debate sparked in my mind. I could bring them out with me… I could begin to restore our people…

...But what about Liz? Would she want to be a part of it? Would she really be comfortable living with… with something like me?

I breathed heavily through my nose; we’d work that out later. I picked up the eggs in my magic, held them close to me, and flew towards the tunnel just as the cave began to collapse.

Billowing dust chased me out of the tunnel as I broke free of the Hive, flew out of the ruined office trailer that had obscured the entrance, and hovered some distance above the gravel pits. They were owned by Halford’s company, as evidenced by a sign reading “Seismic” on the perimeter of the site.

The ground above the hive collapsed downwards, filling the cave below and sending a massive cloud of gravel dust flying upwards. Prima’s Hive was undone.

I looked down at the eggs I’d taken; they pulsed gently with the heartbeat of the larvae inside. I hugged them close.

We could finally be redeemed. The true changelings could have a new, proper beginning.


I perked up. Echo!

"Mother! Is it…"

I shrugged, fully aware Echo couldn’t see. Sorta kinda. Discord kinda came and bailed Prima out, though I doubt he was doing her a favor.

"...What do we do now?"

I looked down at the eggs. We… we find the ponies, I guess…

I smiled. We start anew.