• 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 22: Dread

Chapter 22: Dread

May 18th

“...so Prima’s about to pretty much turn me into a stain, right?” I said. “And I have one of those, ‘welp, I’m fucked’ moments where I’m sure I have no way out.”

It was about 12:30pm the next day. We’d spent the whole night driving cross-country, Liz and I
swapping out every few hours so the other could take a nap in the front passenger seat. I was turned towards the back and explaining what happened with Prima, just to kill time.

“So, what happened?!” Digit asked, bouncing in her seat.

“Well, I kinda realized I hadn’t even touched the surface of what our people can do,” I said. “I mean, I was just flying around, throwing magic at her, despite having goddamn shapeshifting powers at my disposal. It’s like having an ‘Anti-Everything Cannon’ at your fingertips, but you’re content with just tossing pebbles at your enemies. So I… got a little creative. And by ‘creative’ I mean I just changed into a few game characters and annihilated her.”

“Annihilated how?” Trixie asked.

“As in, when I was finished I could’ve spread her on toast,” I said. “I mean, I was brutal. I sliced her up, grinded her foreleg to shreds, hell, I turned into a damn T-Rex and just...” I made a few gnashing noises. “I swear, I was seeing red the whole time.”

“Don’t you think that might’ve been a bit much?” Liz asked. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, Prima had it coming, but… Don’t you think that might’ve been overkill?”

I turned to her. “She wouldn’t have treated me any better,” I said, in a serious tone. “Besides, she threatened you—threatened everyone I care about. When I fight someone with stakes like that, I’m gonna go for the eyes. I might’ve went a little Cupcakes, yeah, but it was the only way I could get Prima to stay down. And I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

Liz didn’t say anything, simply keeping her eyes on the road. “Hey,” I said, reaching over. Liz hesitated, then slowly took my hand. “If it bothers you…”

Liz squeezed my hand. “It’s okay… You’re right. While it might’ve been… harsh, you did what had to be done.”

“So what happened next?” Digit asked, eager to veer away from the grimmer topics.

“So, Prima’s basically finished, right?” I said, turning back to the grubs. “And I’m… wondering if I should… put her out of her misery.” I realized that this part of the story wasn’t as fun as the little fangasm. “...I decide it’s for the best; she’s in pain, she’s been manipulated, and god knows what Discord would do to her if I let her live.”

“Unfortunately, Discord himself shows up, knocks me for a loop, and takes Prima away—more likely for the sake of dispensing punishment. I don’t know what he’s doing, but… I actually feel sorry for Prima.” I laid my head on the seatback. “Call me crazy but… I wish there was something I could do to help her.”

“Won’t stopping Discord be considered helping her?” Digit asked.

I shrugged. “Maybe.” I faced forward in my seat and leaned my head back. We were passing a sign relaying an upcoming exit towards St. Louis. “We’re almost there.” I pulled out my cell phone; my sisters and I’d been texting each other during the past two days.

“Should be there in 20 mins,” I texted them. After a minute I got a reply from Penny, the younger-older sibling.

“Can’t u tell me something about what this is?”

“It isn’t something I can explain through texting or phone calls,” I replied; then, feeling that wasn’t enough, I continued. “I know you and Sarah came a long way on my word alone, and I appreciate that. But this is something too serious to keep from you guys.”

There were a couple minutes, then Penny texted back. “Okay. But I want you to tell us everything. Everything. Mom says she can’t wait to meet Liz.”

I smiled. “Liz is excited too. Love you.” I put my phone away as Liz took the exit.

- - - - -

My breathing was heavy as I gave Liz directions. My parents and I had lived in Maine my entire life, but when I was ready to take care of myself they decided to move back to St. Louis, where my mom had grown up. I’d been here enough times over summer and winter vacations to have a pretty clear picture of where to go, give or take a couple vague turns. We headed towards the northern reaches of the city, close to the river. Finally, we pulled into a small neighborhood.

“...and it’s that house at the corner of the bend,” I directed, pointing at the small brown house. I could see my parent’s car parked in the driveway, as well as an unfamiliar one that I assumed to be my sisters’ rental.

“It’s cute,” Liz complimented. “Was that the house your mom grew up in?”

“Yep,” I said. “They’ve been sending stuff there for a long time, ready for when they wanted to retire.” I let out a heavy exhale. Liz looked over at me.

“Are you ready for this?” She asked, placing a hand on my shoulder as we pulled up in front of the house.

I wasn’t sure if I had a way to explain the pit I could feel in my stomach, so I resigned to shaking my head. Somehow I felt that Trixie had dealt with this sense of dread much better than I could ever hope to. “I’m scared. I’m just… scared.”

I felt a hoof fall on my shoulder. “Hey,” Trixie said. “Like you were there for me, I’m there for you.”

“We both are,” Liz said.

“All of us!” Digit chirped as I felt her hug me from behind, damn near strangling me.

I smiled. “...I love you, guys…” I took one last, deep breath. “Okay… Same plan as yesterday. Liz and I go in…” I pulled out my cell and handed it to Shift. “We’ll call when you can come in.” I opened the door and clambered out of the truck. Liz and I headed up the front walk; my legs felt weak and I almost needed to cling to Liz for support. We climbed up the steps; I raised a heavy fist and knocked.

This was it. I’d have to tell them. Tell them who I was, what I was, what I did for a living, what I’d already done…

I felt myself break into a cold sweat. My breathing became irregular. I squeezed Liz’s hand. “I don’t know…”

She squeezed mine back and held me close. “It’ll be okay. It’ll be okay…”

The door opened. Penny stood in the doorframe. Penny was the ‘middle child’ of our family, but had long outgrown the ‘trials’ a middle child often faces. She was about half a foot shorter than me, with dirty blonde hair and glasses. She’d become a middle school teacher out in Kentucky, and often had great things to say about the classes she had every term. Penny and I had our usual sibling spats, years ago, but we’d grown up and had gotten much closer as we matured. Penny was one of the first people who I’d revealed my bronyhood to; she was very understanding, and even enjoyed the show herself. I wondered if her knowledge of Chrysalis—of me—would keep her from panicking at the ‘big reveal’.

She smiled as she took me in. “Hey…” she said. Momentarily forgetting my preemptive freakout, I quickly pulled her in for a hug.

“Hey…” I said back, giving her a peck on the cheek. “Listen, thanks so much for coming out here…”

Penny hugged me back. “It’s no problem…” she said. We broke the hug, and she looked at Liz. “This is Liz?”

Liz nodded and held out her hand. “Yeah, hi… Chris has told me a lot about you guys.”

“Good or bad?” Penny laughed.

Liz looked at me coyly. “Chris, how much is my silence worth to you?” The three of us laughed as a voice called from inside the house.

“Penny, is that them?”

“Come on in!” Penny said, stepping aside and letting us in. “Yes, mom!”

We entered the front entryway as my mother came hurrying from the kitchen at the far end of the hall. “Hellooooo!” She said joyfully, hurrying forward and hugging me tight. Mom was roughly my height with short brown hair, and had worked with my dad as actuaries for several years, running a small pension business back in Maine. Mom was, like many mothers, a delight to be around when happy, an absolute nightmare when angry.

“Hey, mom…” I said, hugging her back. The smile on her face, the loving hug, somehow it felt like it was pressing down on the dread deep in my chest, ready to let it spring like a Jack in the Box of Despair. I feared what I’d have to tell them would ruin what they felt would be a happy reunion…

Mom broke off the hug and looked at Liz. “And this is Liz?” She asked, before hugging Liz as well. Liz looked somewhat surprised for a moment, but quickly took the hug. My mom was always a hugger. “I’m so glad you two could come!” Mom said happily as she released Liz. “Come on, take a look at what we’ve done with the den!”

Liz, Penny and I followed Mom out of the entryway, off to the right and into the den. It had a very fancy leather couch in the middle of the room, with a gorgeous table in front of it, and several expensive-looking wooden chairs on the far side. “I got these for a real steal!” Mom said eagerly as she displayed the new furniture. “Some of these things are worth hundreds, even thousands!”

I instinctively readied a joke about promising to eat all my meals on the priceless furniture, but they all died in my throat. Liz sensed my stress and took my hand gently. Her support, plus the little boost of love from her, helped keep me on my feet.

“Hey there!” I turned to see my dad in the doorway. My dad was a fairly serious guy, capable of telling jokes though not very strong on the emotional side, but I loved him nonetheless. He was somewhat shorter than me, and was wearing his old Rutgers sweatshirt.

Behind him stood my sister, Sarah, the oldest. She had head-length brown hair tied into a ponytail, and wore a simple blue blouse. Sarah was always the sweeter sister, always willing to take me out to eat or just wanting to hug me; it got a little exasperating at times, but never suffocating.

I came forward and gave my dad a big hug. “Hey, guys…” I said, breaking off and hugging Sarah, who hugged me tight.

“Hey, babe!” She said, kissing me on the cheek. “How’s school going?”

I actually hadn’t even thought about classes since the 1st. I wondered if I should feel bad about almost completely forsaking them. “They’re good,” I said, lying through my teeth.

We spent a few minutes catching up, introducing Liz and asking if there were any troubles in getting here. Every passing minute made the pit in my stomach widen. I almost wanted to throw up. I was never one for delivering bad news; I wasn’t sure if this qualified as bad news, but it was still major enough and could very well turn out badly.

Gotta bite the bullet… I thought, before inhaling deeply.

“Everyone…” I said loudly, my voice cracking. The family was silenced. “If we could please sit down, we really need to talk about something…” Sarah and Penny, who’d been expecting some major development, immediately sat down on the couch. Mom and Dad exchanged confused glances before doing the same as Liz and I headed to the chairs on the other side of the coffee table.

Mom peered out the window. “...Did you come in that moving truck?”

I nodded. “Yeah, but we’ll get to that later.” My voice was faint, and I could practically feel my face paling.

This was it.

“Guys…” I began. “I… About three weeks ago, I started going through something…” Christ, this was so much easier when I was explaining what had happened to Trixie. “...I assume you’ve heard about weird happenings around the country? The… terrorist attacks in Vancouver and Seattle, the weird… flier over the Canadian border? Well, they’re… connected to a phenomenon that’s… affecting hundreds, thousands, across the world… Myself included.”

I paused. Churning this stuff out was painful. My face was drenched with sweat, and my head felt airy and light. My family had mixed expressions of confusion, concern and, most of all, fear. Just like Trixie’s family.

I breathed deep. “What’s happening to me is more different than anyone else who’s affected. I can… do things… Things that you’d probably find frightening…” I inhaled.

“Guys, I’ve changed, and I’m pretty sure there’s no way to turn back.”

Liz took my hand. I hung my head, taking deep, calming breaths. “How have you changed?” My mom asked.

I screwed my eyes shut. “I… I don’t want to show you, but I have to… What’s happened to me has changed… everything. And I don’t want to shut you all out… I…”

I couldn’t stall anymore. Here it was; the moment I’d been dreading the most, the moment I feared would convince my family that I was a monster, that would make me lose them forever.

I stood up and pushed the chair aside. Keeping my eyes closed, I tried to keep the sense of love I’d felt when I’d entered the house as vivid as I could.

I dropped my human guise.

I kept my eyes shut tight as I stood there, feeling tears flooding behind my eyelids. My family was silent, likely left with their mouths agape in shock. I took a shuddering breath.

“This is who I really am. For the past twenty-five years, the life I’ve known was… was, in reality, exile… As it was for the thousands affected. The people who are changing are, in actuality, returning to the true forms they lost decades ago. I remember who I truly am, what I truly am…”

“I am Chrysalis, the Queen of the Changelings.”

I opened my eyes. My family was stock-still on the couch, their eyes wide with shock. I felt tears stream down my face; I quickly took human form again, pulled the chair up and collapsed into it, putting my face in my hands. I had nothing else I could say; all I could do was wait for what my family had to say.

Liz spoke up. “Chrys wanted to come here because she—he… Well, because he and everyone else who is… changing, they have no way back. As far as we know, there’s no way for them to become human again… They had lives before their human lives; friends, family, loved ones, in their homeland, twenty-five years ago. Chrys remembers his old life, remembers the duties he must perform… Chrysalis is responsible for protecting, leading the Changeling Race, and now that Chrys remembers, he… He has to live up to his responsibilities.”

“But Chrys wanted to come here, to see all of you, because… Because he loves you all too much. He doesn’t think the last twenty-five years have been meaningless. He wants you to know that he really hasn’t changed that much, at least on the inside. He wants you to know that, no matter what happens now, where this takes him… He loves you all.”

I heard Liz lift her chair and move it closer to me. She wrapped her arms around my shoulders and pulled me close, stroking my head. My eyes were burning with tears now, my face was sticky and sore, and my breathing was shallow and quiet. I took Liz’s hand and grasped it tight; I had no way of telling her how grateful I was.

My family remained quiet. They hadn’t screamed, panicked, shouted at me to get out… at least not yet. I still had no way of knowing what was going through their heads, and the silence was starting to get a little worrisome. Maybe I’d need to answer some questions, to prove that I really was—

I heard someone get off the couch. I opened one reddened eye to see Penny walking around the coffee table and approaching me. She knelt in front of me, her face lined with sympathy.

“I know you’re still my brother.”

I opened the other eye. “What?”

Penny put a hand on my knee. “There have been times when you were sad, devastated, miserable… I’d seen you in those times, feeling like you were going to lose everything… Just like I see that look now.”

I blinked; she knew I was telling the truth because of how I was crying?

“Chris, I… This is a major, major change… And I think you’re really brave to come to us with it. To do everything to show us that you haven’t really changed all that much. We love you—I love you, no matter what you do, who you are, or even what you are.” She smiled. “You know that.”

I smiled back before slowly sliding onto the floor and hugging her tightly.

I broke down. A sob escaped me. Then another. And another. I cried into my sister’s shoulder, my shoulders heaving violently with each sob.

I felt her love pouring from her like an open wound, drowning out the fear and dread I’d felt since I’d arrived. And before long, I noticed it wasn’t just coming from her. I could feel it coming from…

I glanced up. Mom, Dad and Sarah were getting up off the couch as well. They all sat around me and hugged me as well. Mom and Sarah’s eyes were flooding with tears—hell, I even think dad’s eyes were glistening a little bit—as we joined together.

I had lived for over seven hundred years. I had fed off of the most bountiful sources of love known to all of Equis, had gained the strength to overthrow kings, warlords, even Celestia herself…

None of it had been as pure, as undying, as the love I was getting from my family.

But it wasn’t the power I cared about.

Not anymore.

Author's Note:

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Hope everyone had a good holiday!