Chapter 30: Added Security
“They still in there?” I asked the grubs as I eyed the truck. The four of us were sitting some ways away from the barn, unsure of how to spend our time with Chrys and Liz ‘occupied’. Digit had told us of how we could be leaving at any moment, though we didn’t have many ways to prepare, since anything we’d brought was in the truck bed. Chrys and Liz had been in there for what about two hours; I very well knew what they were doing, though I couldn’t help but feel concerned over what they could be doing at this stage. The grubs didn’t seem too concerned, laying about as if fixing to take a nap.
“They’re doing a lot more than talking in there…” Digit said.
“Digit, ew…” I said, grimacing.
“She means with the eggs,” Echo clarified. “Such a number of eggs is an immense burden to manage.”
“I’m not arguing against what they’re doing in there…” I said defensively before glancing at the truck again. “...I’m just concerned that we’ll be moving out before they’re finished…”
“Shining would do well to wait,” Shift said. “Even if the portal won’t be open for a very long time, that’s no reason to charge ahead without some degree of protection.”
“Does he know about what Chrys is doing?” I asked.
Digit shrugged. “He was confused with how Mom left in such a rush, but he didn’t question it. If he has guessed what she’s doing, he hasn’t mentioned it.”
“I just hope he takes it well…” I said.
“LISTEN UP!!” We glanced at the farmhouse to see Shining and Big Mac stepping off the porch, looking ready to address the community.
“Well, if he doesn’t know now, he will in a bit…” Shift said.
- - - - -
I shut the truck door as Liz stood at my side, an arm draped across my back.
I felt a strange sense of… release… I’d dreaded what I’d face when I fully committed to being Queen, even if I had, technically, done it before… But now that I’d taken the plunge, that I’d taken the first real step?
I was relieved… Maybe even excited… I was eager to see where things would go.
I turned and gave Liz a nuzzle; the fact that she’d stick with me through it certainly helped.
“You know…” I said. “When this is over, even with the Queen thing, it doesn’t mean we can’t try to have a normal life…”
Liz shook her head. “I’m pretty sure I gave up on a normal life long before the 1st.”
I nodded. “Yeah, you’re right. Normal’s overrated…”
“Chrys?” I turned to see Trixie and the grubs hurrying towards me; I noticed that there was a great deal of activity around the farm—ponies hastily packing and grouping near the dirt road out of the property.
“Well, how’s that for timing…” I said.
Trixie glanced past me at the truck. “Is… everything okay in there?”
I nodded, smiling. “Happy and healthy.”
“So, they’re… babies?” Trixie asked.
Echo shook her head. “We grow faster from birth depending on how much we feed,” she explained. “Fed well enough, you could get a full-grown changeling minutes after it’s hatched.”
Trixie frowned at her. “So why’d it take you guys so long to… mature? I mean, you were spending a lot of time with Chrys…”
“Changelings can feed off of love from another changeling—relative or mate…” I explained. “It’s just not as nourishing to us; it’s love from another creature—pony, human or otherwise—that really makes us so strong. Believe me, if we could feed and grow off our own love, we wouldn’t have felt the need to attack Canterlot.”
Trixie glanced at the truck again. “So, they’re…”
“Chrysalis?” I noticed Shining approaching. “We’re getting ready to go, is… everything all set with you guys?”
I nodded. “Yep. Hey, if there’s anyone who won’t be able to walk the whole way, we’ve got plenty of room in the truck.”
Shining frowned. “But… what about your… produce?”
I smirked. “Well, our air support wouldn’t be able to do it’s job from in there, would they?”
I raised a hind leg and kicked the truck.
The door opened, lifted up from the inside. For a moment, the inside of the truck seemed completely pitch black.
Then a pair of light blue eyes opened in the darkness.
Then hundreds more, accompanied by the odd green pair. Shining and Trixie’s eyes widened as the pair stepped back
With a loud skittering noise, like a swarm of locusts, the newborns poured out from the truck and gathered into formation some distance above it. The ponies on the farm suddenly ceased all movement and beheld the immense black cloud of changelings that had formed over the property; there were some panicked yells, sure, but the response was surprisingly tame.
The swarm above were well fed and eager to serve, but there was none of that grim, almost scheming look that had once lined their faces in the old days. They weren’t looking at the ponies as food sources, rather as… people. It seemed my new outlook on things had been imprinted on them.
Shining was staring up at the swarm, mouth agape, trying desperately to form words. Finally, he tore his gaze from the formation and looked at me. “W-W-What is this…?” He stammered.
“Air support,” I said simply.
“How did you…?” He began, when he noticed Liz at my side. She gave him a soft smile as she gently wrapped her arms around my neck in a hug. He glanced up at them again. “...Chrysalis, how many…”
“One hundred and eighty-seven,” I said with confidence. “Related note—coming up with one hundred and eighty-seven names? About as difficult as it sounds. There are only so many synonyms for the word ‘change’, and I already gave one to Shift.”
“But this is…” Shining breathed. “...Chrysalis, this could be seen from space!!”
“Hey, our little ‘migration’ wouldn’t have been so subtle,” I said, raising an eyebrow. “I’d rather be able to say, with confidence, that we’re safe from any attempts by the military to hinder us. The time for subtlety is over, Shining—whatever happens with Discord, this world’s gonna know about us. We can worry about what it does with that knowledge later.”
He was still looking rather distressed; I stepped closer to him. “Look… I know I said I wasn’t gonna hatch them, at least not for a while, but… If we want a chance to get home? To stop Discord? This is how it has to happen.”
Shining slowly met my gaze; slowly, he relaxed. He took a deep breath and nodded. “...Okay.”
I noticed many of the ponies drifting towards us, with expressions varying between astonishment and uncertain terror.
“Not everyone’s gonna like it…” Shining muttered.
I put a hoof on his shoulder. “Whatever happens beyond the portal…” I said before spreading my wings; Liz stepped to the side as I flew upwards and hovered in front of the swarm. The grubs took to the skies as well and floated behind me. “Let our peoples face it, side by side.”
- - - - -
I considered myself fortunate at this point; I was deadened to my torment by now. I barely felt the eggs leave me as I lay in whatever dark abyss my master had left me in… barely heard them hatch, or the hatchlings inside give their first, joyous chirps of life before choking and suffocating on that vile substance…
For a time, I wondered if I should feel bad for… not feeling bad… For not mourning such a horrendous loss of potential…
But then I figured, how can one mourn something that was never meant to love them?
These weren’t my children; he’d simply made me spawn these… things… These echos, these glimmers of what should have been… They were little more than toys, meant to look, sound, feel, like true hatchlings…
So I no longer wept. I no longer screamed when they died, no longer wailed as I was forced to lay countless more pretenders…
I was honestly more concerned that my ‘master’ hadn’t returned by now; I’d have expected him to alter my ‘sentence’ when he realized I no longer found the anguish he was clearly seeking.
Without the energy or will to mourn, however, I was left to think about things…
Chrysalis… she’d had a point… Would Discord have followed through with our agreement? I couldn’t see any reason why he would… He had a long, long history of lies behind him…
How did I know he wouldn’t have left me here regardless?
Chrysalis may have been better off...
...Where is she now? I wondered. Is she with the human she so adores? Is she rebuilding the clutch she had started, before I arrived?
I had a thought; if she was, then… Our people would begin again… That would be a… good thing, right?
A loud crack made me flinch—my long aching body giving me a vicious reprimand for doing so.
“Ooh…” Discord said, tutting disappointedly. “Don’t tell me you’ve grown bored, Prima?”
“It is hard to keep mourning what is little more than a reflection of what could have been…” I muttered.
“Mmm, good point…” He said. “But that’s not why I’m here.”
I felt his eagle claw wrap around my head, lifting my face up. Even in the pitch darkness I could somehow make out the smug, almost hungry grin on his goat face. “They are coming. I don’t know when, I don’t know how, but the ponies are coming.”
For the first time in days, I smiled. “Perhaps you should make due what time you have left…” I said tauntingly. “If their return is such a threat to you…”
He raised an eyebrow.
Then he swung his reptilian leg and kicked me, sending me tumbling back through the air. I slammed into what felt like a rock wall, feeling my bones lose what little progress they had made in healing over the course of my torment. I fell to the floor with a cry, laying on my side, unmoving.
I felt his cloven hoof fall on my head; he was silent for a time. “...You’re right about one thing; they pose a greater threat than I’d care to admit…”
I began laughing again—I no longer cared. “And you turn to me for help…”
Then he laughed. “In a sense… See, what does one do when they feel they are no longer safe in their own home?”
I frowned; what was he getting at?
I smelled his foul breath as he leaned in towards me; I could make out his eagle claw in the darkness, talons primed.
“They get an attack dog…”