NOTE: I just wanted to say the quality of this chapter may be bellow expectations as I hit a massive Writer's Block when I sat down to type it. So i'm sorry if thats the case.
The former queen lifted her head, her slitted eyes coming to rest on Keyan.
“What are you feeding me? It sustains me, but it tastes…..empty,” her strange voice sounded broken.
“It’s some weird energy or radiation, my A.I figured it out. Don’t ask me for anything more cause I won’t be able to tell you.”
Chrysalis looked at him, she seemed to accept his answer. With nary a sound she laid her head back down. Keyan should have been furious, how dare this changeling ignore him. But instead… he felt a twinge of something inside him. It took him a few moments to put a word on it… sympathy. It was an entirely new sensation for him.
Sighing deeply he made his way to a nearby armchair and sat down.
“Why’d you do it?” he asked.
A silence settled throughout the room. It took many moments for the queen to respond,
“Because I had to.”
“There has to be more to it than that.”
“My changelings were starving. There was no other option. We were dying,” the queen paused, “I didn’t want to invade. But my changelings were in agreement, and the queen cannot go against her entire hive.”
Keyan’s head picked up,
“So you’re not an all powerful tyrant?”
“No. I am merely an arbiter of the hive’s will. The hive decided to attack and so it was my duty to come up with the plan.”
Keyan nodded, it was similar to working in a alliance. When told by someone more powerful than you to do something, even if you didn’t want to, you did it.
“I think I understand.”
Chrysalis immediately shot up, her eyes glowing green as she shook with rage.
“YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND!” she visibly shook, “I was given a mockery of free will! I was imprisoned by the very changelings I was supposed to rule!” she pointed a holed hoof at Keyan, “AND YOU TOOK THAT FROM ME!”
The queen sank into herself, eyes shut tight as she trembled slightly.
“And now I’m alone.”
Keyan was really at a loss of what to do, he wasn’t sure if she was angry or depressed.
“Is that a bad thing? I mean, now you can choose for yourself what you want to do.”
She looked at Keyan, and he realized what she truly was right now: lost. The formerly proud queen buried her face in her hooves. Keyan stood up and made his way over to the bed. He slowly sat down next to the Changeling. Licking his lips, and questioning what exactly made him think this was a good idea, he slowly wrapped his arms around Chrysalis.
She flinched at the initial contact, not understanding what the capsuleer was doing. It was a strange sensation, she had never been hugged before. The mix of emotions emanating off the capsuleer was strange, she couldn’t feel love, but she could feel… compassion? sympathy? They were new to her. Without realizing it she burrowed deeper into Keyan’s chest.
The changeling felt weird to Keyan, her chitinous outer layer was surprisingly soft, and she had a thin layer of fur covering it. The changeling shifted slightly, pressing her face into Keyan. Her horn was dangerously close to his face. He was at a thorough loss of what to do, his plan coming in here was to interrogate the changeling queen then cart her off to Celestia for whatever she wanted to do. But here we was, hugging the damn thing. He took a deep breath and just decided to do what he would do for Scootaloo if she was in a similar situation.
He tentatively reached up a hand and began to brush it through her mane. He expected it to feel wiry, but once again he was surprised at how soft it was. It was full of tangles and knots that Keyan did his best to work out.
“I’m all alone now,” Chrysalis said softly, “Before my connection was severed my entire personality was ruled by them. I acted the way they wanted me to act. I could feel every changeling in the hive. Their emotions, their state of mind. But now there's nothing. And the last thing I felt was their fear.”
“I tried to convince them to let me surrender. But they didn’t let me. The hive couldn’t afford to be divided. So they… I don’t know how to live on my own.”
Keyan hated this, it was so much easier shooting things when they were just a statistic. He could feel the queen nestling into him.
“I was a queen, and now look at me, a former queen. Now I’m just a prisoner.”
“You’re not a prisoner,” he could feel Chrysalis freeze, “Well you were, to be honest. But the situation has changed.”
“Thank you,” Chrysalis said softly. The words felt strange on her tongue, she never had used them before, “what are you going to do now?”
“I’m going to take you down to the palace. And to put it simply, you’re going to kiss and makeup with everyone down there.”
He could feel Chrysalis freeze up,
“They’ll kill me.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll be right there with you okay?”
Chrysalis nodded into his shoulder.
Ugh.. what was he getting himself into? These ponies are making him to soft.
Twilight, Rarity, Rainbow, Applejack, Spike, the CMC, and all princesses save for Cadence were waiting in the courtyard as they watched Keyan’s shuttle descend from his ship.
Rarity, as much as she regretted it, owed Keyan for the help he gave Sweetie Belle. The damnable capsuleer infuriated her. He switched from a polite, cultured gentlecolt to a ruffian on the drop of a hat. One day she would have words with him, but until then she would deal with him.
With a familiar hiss the shuttle touched down. And the familiar swoosh of the door soon followed. But, what was inside was definitely not a familiar sight. Keyan stood there in casual looking clothes, blue pants, a black shirt and a vest over it. They were obviously well made and comfortable. But slightly behind him and to the side was standing Chrysalis.
The CMC immediately jumped behind their respective older sisters, Scootaloo behind Rainbow Dash because she was the closest. The adult ponies immediately assumed combat stance, snorting threateningly. Chrysalis immediately did her best to hide herself behind the capsuleer.
“Behind you Key!” Rainbow shouted.
The Princesses’ horns began to glow as they prepared to literally rain the wrath of the heavens down on the changeling.
What none of them expected was the calming hand that Keyan raised,
“Calm down guys. The situation is a lot more complicated than what you think.”
The situation in the courtyard was tense, to say the least. But then they heard a single sound coming from behind Keyan, a single sob. The ponies looked at each other, not knowing what to do. This was the last thing they expected to happen.
To everyone’s surprise it was Applejack who stepped down first. Rainbow gave her a sidelong glare and swiftly replied,
“I think Keyan would be able to tell if someone was lying Rainbow, and besides I don’t think she could hurt us right now, and we got both Princesses this time. And for land sakes shes crying.”
Rainbow licked her lips and looked back at the cowering queen.
“Alright, fine. But I’ll be watching her.”
The rest of the ponies soon dropped the intimidating postures but were still wary of any possible plans. Eventually Celestia stepped forward as her horn lost its golden glow. Seeing the very mare that she had blasted 3 days ago stepping towards her Chrysalis did the only logical thing. She dropped to the floor with a thunk and did her best to disappear.
Celestia paused, this was not the same Chrysalis she had fought.mere days ago. This Chrysalis was little more than a lost and alone filly. Celestia kneeled down, putting her eye level with the changeling. Chrysalis caught sight of Celestia’s eyes and immediately looked away, burying her snout in the back of Keyan’s pants.
Keyan kneeled down and gently ran his hands through Chrysalis’ mane.
“Go with Celestia and tell her your story okay?”
Chrysalis picked her head up, and with a voice very much akin to a lost fillies asked,
“Can you come with me?”
Keyan shook his head,
“You have to do this yourself okay? Celestia won’t hurt you right?” the last sentence was mainly directed towards the princess in question, and the veiled threat didn’t go over her head.
“I promise Chrysalis. I am very interested in hearing your story would you please come with me?”
After a few moments Chrysalis nodded and Celestia waited patiently as she stood up. With a small smile she turned around and lead Chrysalis down the path to the palace. Rainbow gave the much larger queen a glare as she walked by, Chrysalis seemed to shrink to half her size as she weathered it. To their credit, the guards posted around didn’t attack her on sight, but they definitely eyed her with well deserved suspicion. Luna quickly followed, but gave Keyan a strange glare as she turned around.
Keyan sat down on one of the seats with a sigh,
“Do you ponies have any idea how complicated you make my life?”
Rainbow rolled her eyes,
“Oh come on, ya love us.”
“With all my heart,” came the sarcastic response.
The CMC chose this moment to reappear from behind their sisters. Scootaloo immediately clambered up his arms to claim her usual spot on his shoulders. Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom trotted up with smiles on their faces.
“Hey Mister Keyan!” Apple Bloom said, “its good to finally meet ya!”
“Uh huh!” nodded an enthusiastic Sweetie Belle.
Keyan extended his hand with shook their tiny hooves,
“Its a pleasure to finally meet Scootaloo’s friends. But please, just call me Keyan, or Key if you want.”
“Okay Keyan,” Sweetie Belle replied.
Apple Bloom then looked at Scootaloo, her eyes transmitting a message. Upon recieving it Scootaloo looked at Keyan,
“So Key, last night we got interrupted halfway through Cutie Mark Crusader Space Pilots,”
Keyan rolled his eyes,
“And you want to finish it don’t you?”
All three fillies nodded their heads.
“Fine, go ahead!”
The three fillies let out cries of excitement as they hurried off into the cockpit. Scootaloo gave Keyan a brief hug around his neck before she followed her friends. Keyan looked up to see Spike shuffling nervously around on his feet.
“Go ahead Spike,” Twilight said with a smile.
Spike immediately broke out into a broad grin and hurried in to join the crusaders.
“Oh Keyan, I have your syringe here,” Twilight said as she pulled the nanites rom wherever ponies kept these things.
Keyan waved his hand,
“I told you to keep it Twilight. Never know when you’re gonna have to use it. And trust me, look at it under a microscope.”
“Oh thank you Keyan! I know you said that in your note but I was just making sure.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
Applejack chose this moment to suddenly pull him into a crushing hug. Her legs of iron began to crush the life out of the poor capsuleer. Keyan hesitantly patted Applejack on her back,
“Umm… whats this for?” Keyan asked.
“Giving Apple Bloom that magic shot, ya fixed her right up. You’re a friend of the Apple Family now ya hear?”
“Thats good to know, but you’re kinda crushing me right now.”
“Oh, sorry,” a sheepish Applejack said as she let the capsuleer go.
Keyan stood back up, coughing as his lungs once again filled with air. His attention was suddenly grabbed by Rarity staring at him,
“I’d like to thank you Keyan, for helping Sweetie Belle last night, and giving her those… nanites,” she paused at the strange word, “I owe you a great deal.”
Keyan once again waved his hand,
“Its not big deal Rarity.”
Rarity nodded and gave him a smile. But then something seemed to occur to her and she bit her lip.
“Oh umm, well since you asked. Last night you did mention the possibility of some extra fabrics. I was just wondering….” her voice trailed off.
Keyan mentally kicked himself,
“Sorry Rarity, I completely forgot, I’ll have Aura scan the cargo holds now. But I have some, I picked up some luxury goods from some pirates I ran into, theres bound to be something in there.”
Rarity let out a squeal of delight,
“Oh this is wonderful darling! Do you know what colors are in their? the sheen? the texture?”
“Whoa whoa whoa Rarity calm down. I don’t know any of that. I just know its expensive.”
“Well thats good I suppose, but how expensive exactly?”
Keyan stroked his goatee as he tried to come up with an appropriate figure,
“Well… If its some Amarrian silk a single bolt of it could go from 100 to upwards of millions of isk, depending on what planet it was made on. And considering I got the good from Amarrian pirate gang I’m pretty sure its somewhere in between. And one isk is roughly 100,000 bits.”
That conversion was actually pretty low, but it served to get the point across to Rarity.
The fashionista immediately began babbling,
“A hundred thousand bits? Oh my. Oh my Oh my. Millions!?”
The assembled ponies chuckled as they watched their friend try to process the information. All of a sudden the fashionista reared back on her hind hooves and fell onto a conveniently placed couch, which Keyan knew wasn’t there a second ago.
Confound these ponies.
A short while later Rarity, Twilight, and Applejack headed back into the palace, leaving Keyan alone with Rainbow. The prismatic mare was currently staring at her departing friends, one in particular.
“So how are you doing Rainbow?” Keyan asked.
Rainbow jumped, her revelry broken,
“Oh! I’m doing fine.”
Keyan raised an eyebrow,
“Really? You seem kinda skittish.”
Rainbow bit her lip,
“Listen Keyan, there’s something I gotta talk to you about,” she motioned towards the cockpit where the fillies were still playing, “in private.”
Keyan’s brow furrowed,
“Umm sure?” Keyan hesitantly agreed.
The two of them walked off to a secluded section of the courtyard and sat down on some nearby stone benches.
“So whats up?”
Rainbow fidgeted on her seat, obviously nervous,
“Umm well, can you promise to keep this a secret?”
The prismatic mare opened her mouth to say something a few times but the words always died on her tongue. Eventually she took a deep breath and stared hard at Keyan,
“I like Twilight.”
“I think a lot of ponies like Twilight.”
“No no, I like-like Twilight.”
Keyan wasn’t exactly surprised at this, anyone with a brain could tell that there was something between the two. Unfortunately, he still had no idea what to say,
“Cool?” he hesitantly offered.
Rainbow stared at him, a silent plea in her eyes,
“So what do I do?”
“You think I have any idea? I never had a crush before.”
Keyan could see the gears turning in Rainbow’s head,
“Oh come on! You’re like super space explorer guy! You have to know something!”
Keyan shook his head,
“Rainbow, most of the girls I met either wanted to rob me, shoot me, blow me up, or eviscerate me. And the others hated me, not much to like there.”
Rainbow rean her hooves through her mane,
“You gotta have something for me.”
“I don’t know, why don’t you just tell her?”
Rainbow’s slowly lifted,
“I want to. Celestia knows how much I’ve times I’ve tried. But everytime I want to she just does something cute, and I just…” her voice trailed off.
Keyan licked his lips, what was with these ponies and putting him in uncomfortable situations.
“Umm. when did you start like-liking her?” he asked. That was a proper question to ask right?
“I don’t know,” Rainbow began, “A while before you came I guess. She’s just so… Twilight, I can’t put my hoof on it. And then there was the night you came Key, me and her were stargazing when we saw your ship and she was just amazing,” she picked her head up and gave him a soft smile, “you should have seen her dude. Outlined by the stars behind her, she looked beautiful. And then we saw you, and it kinda ruined the moment.”
“Oh… I’m sorry.”
She waved a hoof,
“Don’t worry about it.”
“So what are you going to do? I would just tell her.”
Rainbow shot up,
“I can’t do that! What if she doesn’t like me back, or thinks I’m weird?”
Keyan leaned forward and put his elbows on his knees,
“Let me tell you something Rainbow ok?”
“Being a capsuleer is all about risk and reward. Sure, you don’t have to take risks and do the easy things, but you don’t get a lot out of it. Its just boring. The ones that decide to go out and make something for themselves, they’re the ones that you hear stories about. Sure they got rejected, usually by a missile to the face, but they always got back up. Now if you tell Twilight and she rejects you, then yea that sucks. But at least you tried. Or it could go the other way, and then everyone is happy,” he reached out a hand and placed it on Rainbow’s shoulder, “Of all the words of mouth and pen, the saddest are these, it might have been.”
“Since when did you become a philosopher?”
“Since I got here, you damn ponies make everything complicated.”
Rainbow gave Keyan a smile.
“So what are you gonna do?”
Rainbow suddenly broke out into her signature smirk,
“I’m gonna go ask Twilight to go on a date!”
Keyan could see an idea come to light in her eyes,
“And speaking of that…” she whispered her plan to Keyan.
When she finished she leaned back, a knowing smile on her lips.
“Thats a pretty good idea Rainbow,” Keyan smiled, “I’ll do it.”