• Published 26th Jun 2016
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Shellstrings - shortskirtsandexplosions

After freakish happenstance turns Lyra Heartstrings and Queen Chrysalis into a symbiotic being, they find themselves putting their superpowers to heroic use in an ever-changing Equestria.

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The Reign of a Once-Chancellor

With one combined hiss, the doppelgangers of Luna, Tia, and Prince Miller flew in a filthy phalanx towards the two sorceresses. The unicorn siblings responded by backtrotting across the platform, firing blasts of harmonic energy at the various shape-shifting thugs. Every other shot connected, sending equine bodies stumbling across the hard stone.

"Ewwww..." Luna nearly wretched. "Eww ewww ewww ewww!"

"Will you please compose yourself, sister?!" Tia snarled.

"What's causing them to turn into... p-ponies that we know?!" Luna wheezed, firing at a pouncing pony and propelling it through another charge of mind-possessed creatures.

"It would appear that the Chancellor has used her magic to restructure their core biological properties—!" Tia was interrupted when three hissing copies of herself landed on her flank, trying to bite into her neck. "Unngh! Damnation!" Gritting her teeth, the unicorn bucked the monsters savagely in their chests and threw the last one against a stalactite—violently impaling it.

Luna immediately gasped. "Tia!"

"They're obviously monstrous shades of their former selves, Luna," Tia growled, firing magic at another wave as she panted for breath. Exoskeletons fractured and insectoid limbs blanketed the floor. "After Kathleen's mutations, I find these poor citizens beyond saving!"

"Well, j-just don't explode or dismember the Prince Millers!" Luna exclaimed, firing more magic.

"Mrmmmff!" Tia grunted, punching a pouncing pony in the face. "Why not?!" she huffed.

"B-because we don't know which one is the real gr-grandcolt of Princess Platinum—!"

"I suspect that one, sister!" Tia pointed across the platform at a single stallion standing beside a chortling Chancellor, his eyes rolling with green magic.

"Oh!" Luna stammered, then proceeded to decapitate three whole doppelgangers with a single swipe of blistering hot mana. "Very well then! Rip and tear!"

"Focus, sister!" Tia wheezed, charging through four copies of Luna. "We do not wish to accidentally harm each other!"

"I am focused, Tia!" Luna snarled, fighting through the melee to get closer to the Chancellor. "You forget that I am trained just as well as you in—" Whump! A pair of Millers pounced on her, slamming her painfully to the floor. "Augh! Fecal matter!" She gaped into their lunging jaws.

"Luna!" Panting, Tia bucked a copy of herself to the ground, then telekinetically yanked the tip of a stalagmite up from the edge of the platform. "Hrnnnngh!" She charged, swinging the stone cylinder like a club.

Wh-Wham! Both Millers lost their disguise—exploding in a burst of juicy shells and twitching grasshopper legs. This thoroughly drenched Luna in green fluid, leaving her less than pleased when Tia lifted her from the ground.

"P-perhaps your harmonic channeling would have d-done the trick, sister," Luna hissed.

"I... I am nearly out of energy..." Tia wheezed. "I don't know how much longer I can keep up this fight."

"How most unfortunate for you," vibrated the Chancellor's voice.

Both sorceresses turned to look at her—only to be answered with a piping hot beam of green energy slamming into their muzzles. ZAAAAP!

"Aaaaugh!" Luna and Tia fell to the ground. Within seconds, the remaining shape-shifters flew in and grabbed their limbs, pinning the unicorns hard to the stone floor. They shook and struggled with their hissing captors.

As the creatures dropped their disguises, the would-be Queen landed from her flight and marched menacingly across a platform soiled with insect juices and twitching limbs. "Such brazen... violent defenders of democracy..." She tossed her smokey green mane and bore a fanged smiled. "Do you really think that suffering so much loss has actually weakened my hive?" Her eyes pulsed a hot emerald. "In death—as much as in life—the passions and memories of my children stay with me... secured in the collective consciousness by the Chrysalis."

"Chancellor... please... look to your past," Tia stammered, struggling against the creatures restraining her. "You weren't always a slave to chaos. Don't choose this path. It's... mrmmfff... most unbecoming of a pony!"

"Listen to yourself. Defending an idea that is noble only in pathetic poetry," Kathleen hummed. "What is or isn't befitting a pony shall be rewritten... once the nature of all ponies is changed itself." She paused to lean over and caress Prince Miller's chin. "After I've absorbed the three of you into the hive, I'll send my children out to lure the rest of Equestria into my fold. The equines of this land will come to learn the peace and tranquility that a true Queendom can grant them, and their thoughts and feelings shall exist eternally within the Chrysalis. This is the only way that we as a race can endure forever..." She smiled at the two siblings, her wings twitching. "Even in a dim world without a sun and moon... we shall embrace eternity with love."

"Then it will be a manufactured love," Tia growled, her horn struggling to summon a spark of magic. "And you will be ruling over a hive of slaves."

"Shhhhhh..." Kathleen leaned forward, her horn glowing ten times as bright. "My little pony, how can there be slaves when there is no more struggle?" Her smile disappeared as her vibrating voice resonated with cricket song. "Now... open your hearts and let me in."

Tia frowned in the face of an inevitable blast of magic. Luna clenched her eyes shut.

Just then—

Fwoooosh! Clover the Clever came gliding in on a beam of mana. She landed between Chancellor Kathleen and her apprentices. "BE GONE!" the elder hollered mightily. POWWWWWW! A sphere of unbridled harmony exploded outward from her being.

The insectoid ponies were violently knocked off Tia and Luna while the two young unicorns remained untouched. The minions shrieked as they flew completely off the platform and fell into the fire-lit fissures of Tartarus below.

Chancellor Kathleen—however—recovered from the blow before she could fall off the nearest cliff-face. Snarling, she aimed her horn at the cavern's ceiling, loosened every stalactite within view and sent them soaring like spears at Clover's wrinkly muzzle.

Sucking her breath in, the elder spun about with unmatched grace. She whipped a spiraling band of blue magic around her. As it made contact with the stone projectiles, it transmuted them into floating pools of water. Before the liquid could fall to the ground, she telekinetically caught each drop in a translucent basin of magic and froze it. Twirling to a stop, she aimed her horn forward—simultaneously flinging a wall of icy daggers straight at the Chancellor. "Haaaaaah!"

"Rrrrrnnngh!" Kathleen braced herself as best as she could. The multiple ice-blades made contact, slicing straight through the mare. The air turned green with a bloody mist. When the projectiles had finished their flight, the mutated pony stood with countless round holes punched through her legs and fetlocks. And yet—she lingered in place... panting and heaving. "Hrmmmm... hrmmm-heheheheheheh!" Her laughter was punctuated by the occasional gargling sound. The cricket song had limped into a threadbare hum.

Clover the Clever stood as solidly as she could, her trembling frame locked in a fighting pose. "Laugh... as much as you wish... creature..." The elder wheezed. "I know... that I can no longer slay you..." Her wise eyes narrowed. "But you also know that this fight is lost..."

"Perhaps this battle, Madame Clover..." Kathleen vomited green slime through a wicked smile. Her green eyes teared acid—and it tore away at the coat of her muzzle. "But it has assured my victory in the future." Her skin flaked off one square inch per second, revealing a charcoal black exoskeleton beneath. The once-Chancellor teetered on the edge of a cliff, just above the firelight of Tartarus. "Every emotion you exercise... only empowers the Chrysalis..." Her mane drooped, hanging heavy like silken webbing. "One day... I shall rule over Equestria as Queen... ensuring harmony for all..."

"Perhaps someday..." Clover sneered. "...but a hollow victory that will be. A monarch who rules over mindless slaves is just as lonely as the day she dies." Her horn pulsed as she took a step towards her foe. "Now join your abominations in bottomless darkness."

"We are all alone, Madame Clover," Kathleen said, tipping backwards. "Meditate on that in your own prison." And she fell back, plunging through the fissures below.

Clover's eyes pulsed hotly. She propelled a fiery beam of magic into the cavern's ceiling. The hollow of the mountain rumbled, and within the span of seconds—a thick layer of boulders had fallen, patching up the chasms below and locking the fires of Tartarus away. In the absence of the crimson aura, a pitch black darkness swallowed up the platform.

Tia and Luna struggled up to their hooves. They summoned mana into their horns, faintly illuminating the area around them.

Clover the Clever had collapsed onto her knees, wheezing for breath. Prince Miller shook his head, stumbling beside the slimy remains of the Chrysalis.

"Unnngh... what...?" The stallion looked around, dizzy. "Where am I? The Chancellor?"

"Your Majesty!" Luna rushed over. She scuffled to a stop a few inches from him, gulped, and stammered: "It is good to s-see that you are back..."

"Madame Clover..." Miller looked past Luna, squinting. "What are you doing here?"

"Mrmmmff..." Clover rubbed her wrinkly brow. "...regretting."

"Master..." Tia helped the elder up to her hooves. Her pale face hung long. "We... I-I am so sorry, Master." She gulped. "I could have sworn that we were ready to face this challenge... but we failed. We failed the trial, Master, and we failed you—"

"You are right about one thing, my little pony," Clover rasped. "It was a trial. However, the failure was mine." She gently patted Tia's shoulder as she struggled to catch her ragged breath. "I misjudged the good intent of Starswirl before me. Whatever the Chancellor has become, it is something far beyond even myself."

"She... she had wings, Master!" Luna exclaimed. "How is that even possible?!"

"It is no small feat... I assure you." Clover clenched her jaws. "This is the work of something greater than all magics—both chaotic and harmonic." She shook her head. "I should have realized the severity of this situation the moment she bewitched the skies into dimming."

"But you sealed her away in Tartarus, master," Tia remarked. "Surely the Chancellor and her... Chrysalis are no longer a threat to Equestria!"

"That remains to be seen," Clover muttered, adjusting the edges of her burlap tunic. "If a mere unicorn with no expert training in sorcery could achieve such levels of power... then we have much more to be vigilant for." She gazed at her apprentices. "I fear that the prison my master built is forever compromised. If the Chancellor could tear herself a path in... then she could very easily fight her way out."

"Then we must warn the rest of Equestria immediately," Prince Miller said with a frown. "The National Council must know everything that's transpired here."

"I agree," Tia said with a nod. She looked at Clover. "Furthermore, we must find a way to seal up these crystal caves. I suspect that the mana batteries here have served as a focus for her powers. In the wrong hooves, the resources here could serve even greater evils."

"All wise precautions," Clover said with a nod. "You youngsters lead the way. I fear that... I have expended the full extent of my strength for a fortnight."

Luna shuffled on anxious hooves.

Clover noticed it. "What ails you, apprentice?"

"It's... it's Chancellor Kathleen, Master," Luna murmured. "She desired to transform the nation into a Queendom. She... felt it was in the best interest of the equine populace."

"A brash idea... maybe even a wise idea, considering the mortal frivolities of ponies everywhere."

"Master...?" Tia blinked.

"What do you mean by that?" Luna asked.

Clover sighed long and hard... then formed a tender smile. "Something that will take a long while to come to fruition, but I now sense it." She patted Luna's shoulder, then leaned on her as the group shuffled out the way they came. "Continue to focus and train your skills, young ones. Your destinies are yet to come to pass."

"Whatever you say, Master," Tia remarked.

"What of the sky?" Luna asked. "After Kathleen's interference, is there any proper way to bring light back to Equestria?"

Clover chuckled slightly. "Funny that you should ask." She turned to look at the stallion. "Prince Miller?"

"Yes, Madame?"

"I do believe we have a speech to prepare..."

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