• Published 6th Sep 2013
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Five Score: A New Hive - bossfight1



Chris, on his twenty-fifth birthday, begins going through some inhuman changes. Set in the Five Sco

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Chapter 12: Demands

Chapter 12: Demands

Ray stared, aghast at the pile of eggs before him. “Chris…” he whispered, horrified. “This is… bad… This is really- WAH!!”

Ray suddenly bucked frantically as a black form leapt on his back. “Hi, Aunt Trixie!!” Came the squeaky voice of Digit, her forelegs wrapped tightly around Ray’s neck. In the past few days the grubs had grown substantially, now reaching roughly the average changeling size. Digit was still somewhat smaller than the average pony, with a short white mane that mostly obscured her ears.

“My name…” Ray rasped, ceasing his bucking and trying to pry Digit’s viselike grip from his neck. “Is RAY!”

“Digit, down,” I said, loudly and with authority.

Digit did so with a cheeky laugh, nuzzling Ray affectionately. “Sorry…” she giggled.

“It’s okay…” Ray said warily. His gaze fell on the eggs again. “Chris, when did you lay these?”

He took a step towards the eggs; I panicked. “Ray, WAIT--”

In an instant Ray was tackled and pinned against the wall by a furious-looking Shift, a chitinous hoof pressed against his neck. “You will not…” he began.

Before I could order him to stand down, Shift was enveloped in a green aura and pulled from the gasping Ray. From behind the batch of eggs came Echo, her face expressionless. “Shift,” she said plainly. “Leave her alone.” Ray was too busy catching his breath to correct Echo.

“Thank you, Echo,” I said, nodding towards her before turning towards Shift. “Be nice.”

Shift scowled towards Ray before sitting at my side at attention “Of course, my Queen…” he said with a nod; I swear, I had half a mind to order Shift to shapeshift into someone who didn’t have a broom stuck up his ass.

Ray, massaging his neck, looked up at me. “What’s been going on down here?”

I sighed. “From what I could figure out, changeling queens lay eggs at an… unpredictable rate. I laid a couple eggs the morning after the whole Bedford incident… had to cover my mouth with that lovely goo to keep you guys from hearing the screaming. Before I could figure out whether to hatch them or just… leave ‘em, I laid three more the other night. Then another two yesterday… and two more a while before you came pounding on the door.”

Ray looked at the eggs. “...You have a plan yet?”

“They should be hatched,” Shift said firmly. “For the sake of the Hive.”

I turned to him. “Shift, I’m not exactly interested in making a hive right now. Probably not ever.”

“But if you don’t feed them, they will starve…” Shift said, conflicted.

“I’ll feed ‘em what I can, but until I’ve made a decision, they’re just big, moist paperweights,” I said. “Understood?”

Shift gave me a blank look before nodding slowly. “Yes, my Queen.” I rolled my eyes.

“So how would you hatch them?” Ray asked, curious.

“Well, in egg form they’re still technically alive,” Echo explained before I could open my mouth. She sat beside the eggs, gently stroking one. “The Queen, or her subjects, provide what love they’ve gathered and feed it to the larvae inside until they have the strength necessary to break the shell.”

Ray and I gave her a blank stare. “...Thank you, Echo…” I said, somewhat confused yet ready to attribute her knowledge to natural instinct. I turned back to Ray. “So, yeah, guess I was feeding them with the love I was getting from Liz.”

Ray’s eyes suddenly lit up, remembering something. “Aw, SHIT, right!! It’s Liz! She’s in trouble!!”

I frowned. “Trouble, how?”

“She and I left to go back to my place to get some things, she went out to the car to wait for me… I heard her honk the horn, and when I looked out the window I saw her getting dragged out of her car by these two dudes!!” Ray said in a single breath.

My throat felt oddly dry. I fell to my haunches and put a hoof to my mouth. I leaned my head back, trying to find the right words.

“...Say what now?”

“I couldn’t do anything, Chris…” Ray whimpered. “If I tried to stop them, who knows where I’d have ended up…”

“No, no, I get it…” I said, shaking my head. “It’s just a little…” I took a breath. “Are you telling me, Ray, that Liz- my girlfriend- was kidnapped?

Ray slowly nodded.

I put my head in my hooves. “Are you fucking kidding me…”

- - - - -

“Are you fucking kidding me?” I demanded, my hands gripping the cage I was in. I was in some warehouse, plunged in darkness save for the single light over my prison. In the shadows I could make out a few figures just on the edge of the light; they appeared to be sharply dressed, with nice black suits and ties. The one in the center who I was addressing seemed to be the one in charge. “What do you want from me?”

“Not from you, Ms. Pierce,” he said, his voice one of a middle-aged gentleman; he sounded a little familiar. “From your boyfriend.”

“If you’re going for ransom money, he doesn’t have that much to spare…” I said, annoyed.

“You misunderstand me…” he said. “I’m very much aware of what your boyfriend can do… the shapeshifting?”

My heart skipped a beat. “I don’t know what--”

“Please, do not think me ignorant. I have seen him change, as have some of my men. You are merely here to encourage him to have a chat with me.”

“About?”

“About a simple business deal; he gives me some of the little shapeshifting creatures he appears to be spawning, I return you, as well as pay him for the trouble. A mutually beneficial partnership…” At this point I could see him steepling his fingers. I gave him a deadpan look.

“Dude, you missed your calling as a Bond villain.”

He chuckled. “Really, I’m just doing what is necessary to acquire a potentially priceless resource. Taking you is really just a means of getting his attention.”

“And if he says no?” I asked; I was bluffing, of course. I knew Chris would level the city (though hopefully not) to get me back, and considering what he could do, that probably wouldn’t be far off the mark.

“Well, I doubt he would, but if he did, I suppose…” His words trailed off, as though he hadn’t planned for that potential outcome. He stroked his chin thoughtfully. For a good minute he was quiet. Then he made to speak.

“I suppose we’d-- ugh…” He suddenly rubbed his temples, panting as though he was about to vomit.

“Something wrong?” I asked, forgetting the circumstances of this little chat.

“Nothing…” he snapped, before righting himself. “It’s nothing.” He stood up; somehow I could feel his cold gaze. “If he says no, we will kill you. Simple as that.”

I felt a cold chill in my stomach, and it didn’t help that his cronies didn’t notice or care about this sudden dark turn, from the way they didn’t so much as flinch at the prospect of murder. The man turned around. “We will call him soon, though, and if you mean anything to him, and I have no reason to doubt that, you’ll be out of here by morning.” He walked away without a backwards his glance, his men accompanying him. The slamming of a door announced their departure.

I leaned back against the wall of the cage and held my knees to my chest. Things sounded simple enough; Chris would talk to them, I’d be let out and we’d move on with our lives, which were complicated enough already. I was scared, sure, but it helped that things had a, however suspicious, simple means of resolution.

Yet I couldn’t shake the feeling things were much deeper, and darker, than they appeared.

- - - - -

“Dude, is pacing really gonna do anything?” Ray asked as I walked anxiously around the basement.

“Shut up. Thinking,” I said simply.

However, most of my plans were either impractical, impossible, or just led to me imagining enticing methods of torture for whoever had taken Liz. I really didn’t have a hope or prayer of tracking her down; I could call the cops but I was still terrified of accidentally leading them to the grubs (if I could still call them that), or the hive. And by myself I may have had magic and a trio of loyal changelings, but I couldn’t see how they could help short of just tearing Augusta apart to find Liz.

“Perhaps if you hatched the eggs,” Shift suggested. “We could have sufficient numbers to comb the city…”

“Shift, I’m not hatching the eggs, at least not yet, so drop it!” I said sternly, making Shift lower his head in fear.

“But how are we gonna find Liz, mom?” Digit asked, tilting her head to the side.

“Which returns to my previous statement, urging for you to be quiet, because I am in the process of thinking,” I said testily.

I’m feeling like a star,
You can’t stop my shine.
I’m lovin’ Cloud City,
My head’s in the sky.
I’m solo, I’m Han Solo,
I’m Han Solo,
I’m Han Solo, Solo…

All heads looked up the stairs towards the living room. “My cell!” I said, lighting up my horn. The song grew louder as my phone levitated quickly down the stairs towards me.

“That’s your ringtone?” Ray deadpanned.

“Your face is my ringtone,” I replied, not putting in the effort for a proper retort. “Look, it draws a laugh every time… It’s Liz!!” I cried, seeing the caller ID. I hit accept and put it on speakerphone. “Liz??”

“Is Mr. Barton available?” Came the voice of an older gentleman. I suddenly felt a bit awkward that I’d answered the phone in my Chrysalis form.

I stared at the phone in silence for a moment. “Yyyyeeesss?” I said carefully.

“I don’t suppose I’m actually speaking to him?”

I ground my teeth, but calmed myself. “Who is this…” I began, but he cut me off.

“Someone who sees the potential in your abilities, Mr. Barton. You’ve proven you’re not above using your abilities for personal gain, and perhaps you’re willing to… share your blessing with others for a fair price.”

Without warning the phone was plucked from my magic. Digit took on a form that, in other circumstances I’d have appreciated and laughed at. “I don’t know who you are…” Digit-Neeson began, speaking grimly into the phone before I snatched it from her.

“Shaddap!” I said sternly before turning back to the phone. “What do you want?”

“Come see me at hangar 3 at the airport in two hours. I’ll be there, with a fair security detail… Please don’t give them a purpose for being there.” Click.

My eye twitched as I stared at the phone before dropping it to the floor. “Fuck.”

“Someone knows what you can do…” Ray said. His gaze fell on the still-petrified Bedford beneath the stairs. “Maybe a relative of Bedford’s?”

“She doesn’t have one in the county, as far as I know…” I murmured, rubbing my head, trying to remember the whole conversation. “He said I used my powers for ‘personal gain’, what did he--”

My brain suddenly lit up like someone had said the Secret Word. The events of the past few days played in my head, one single event taking center stage. I growled, pure fury overtaking me. “Dane…

Author's Note:

Feels a tad rushed, but I feel it gets things moving.