• Published 14th Apr 2015
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Chrysalis Wins - Arkolo



Chrysalis's invasion is successful. The challenge of ruling begins...

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Ch.55 "Anticipation"

Chrysalis Wins

Ch.55 “Anticipation”

As soon as the queens exited the portal both of them fell on their rumps and panted. Chrysalis more from exhaustion, and Crone from her swollen and constricted air ways. They sat on the green grass a while, just outside the main city borders.

They watched their swarm march on into the city. The sound of welcome cheers and hollers from crystal ponies accompanied the body of changelings as they advanced into the city. As the two royals on the hill watched their army migrate further in, Crone piped up.

“Couldn’t you have brought us closer to the palace…”

Chrysalis didn’t look at her sister, while she muttered between breaths.

“Why don’t you cast it next time.”

She dropped forward on her belly, and noticed there was a slight chill to the air. As she looked around she saw the nearby mountains still had snow on them. The empire itself was still mostly green, but the cold shelf had definitely crept closer.

Both royals jumped when they heard Vivisect’s voice from behind them.

“My queens…”

Both of them turned and spoke in perfect unison.

“Yes Vivisect?”

They looked at each, then both snorted and shook their heads in almost perfect mimicry. The tall sentinel just blinked with uncertainty, then continued with her reasons. She tapped one of her temples with a hoof.

“A sentinel keeps speaking in my head. He says something about a pony and a few vanguard that want to speak with you. He says it’s very important.”

“Any names?”

Both royal changelings spoke again with disconcerting unity, and Vivisect cracked a smile.

“The pony is Amethyst Maresbury, and the vanguard are un-named.”

“Where are they waiting for us?”

“Central Square under the palace.”

Both queens sighed at the same time. Then Crone snapped out of their odd and sudden copy behavior. She spoke to Chrysalis while she rolled her eyes.

“I don’t think we should be around each other for… routine tasks.”

“I agree, I don’t like some changeling saying everything I do to the T.”

Vivisect chortled, and both queens looked at the sentinel with great confusion on their faces.

“What? It’s kind of funny.”

Crone and Chrysalis looked to each other for confirmation then addressed the other changeling with one voice again.

“I’ve never heard you laugh.”

The sentinel’s chuckles intensified.


---


-Central Square (under the palace)


The royal changelings leisurely flew towards the center of the city. Along the way they decided Crone could work with the ponies to find accommodations for the influx of changelings, and Chrysalis would go see what Amethyst and a few of the vanguard wanted.

A short stretch later, and with tempered grace, Chrysalis landed close to the center of Central Square. The grey coated mare with ostensibly large glasses bowed when she recognized the queen, and two nearby vanguards stood at attention. One of them held a crystally heart shaped object.

With a tap of the hoof, the giant changeling garnered Amethyst’s attention, and the older mare retracted from her bow. There was a wide smile on the ponies face, and she was a little giddy when she spoke.

“It’s been found your majesty! It’s been found!”

“I assume you mean that?”

Chrysalis pointed at the Crystal Heart that one of her vanguard held carefully.

“Yes your majesty, the Crystal Heart, they found it at the pinnacle of the palace while they flew about. Apparently that’s why Sombra chased off and banned pegasi from the empire… Some strange alarm went off when they approached it, but ultimately nothing happened. All of us crystal ponies were overjoyed to hear that it was found, but we waited to put it in its proper place. We believe placing the heart should be your privilege, as queen.”

As the old librarian spoke Chrysalis noticed a large congregation of crystal ponies had aggregated around Central Square. Many of them bore eager expressions of unfettered anticipation. The queen blinked, and did a double take. Did her eyes deceive her or had the population of crystal ponies substantially altered in color? They seemed brighter, and more lively. She turned to one of the vanguard and asked.

“What has happened here, besides you two finding the heart?”

“Well, my queen, the ponies basically set up stalls and partied it up. Amethyst here was particularly forward with getting their ‘crystal fair’ going since she read that history book.”

The grey mare felt chipper enough to add in of her own volition.

“Yes your majesty I have. You’ll find the population is in quite high spirits! They await your initiation.”

The changeling queen didn’t want to appear unsure, so she seized the Crystal Heart in her magic, and pointedly looked down on the librarian, who just smiled dopily at the central circle.

“Well… is there any kind of ceremony to it or do I just place it in the center?”

The changeling’s words shook the librarian out of her anticipatory daydream.

“Oh, yes, sorry, the only ceremony is that it was traditionally placed by the crystal princess. When you bring it over there two pillars will extend and keep it in place.”

“Very well, I’m weary and it seems the ponies are dying for this to happen. So let’s end the wait.”

It was only a few strides and Chrysalis close enough, when she held out the relic, a seemingly magnetic force seized it and pulled it the rest of the way. Two pillars jutted out of the floor and ceiling like magical stalactites and stalagmites. Intense light illuminated the immediate area, and the thrum of magical radiance hummed across Central Square.

She quickly noticed an additional change with all the crystal ponies. Whereas before they had merely become bright and cheery, now they looked… like crystal? Their coats had picked up a prismatic sheen, and many of their manes sprain up into lively styles. Chrysalis just gawked at the bizarreness.

Then after each of the ponies had become crystallized… they started to bow and touch their muzzles to the ground. As they did so blue light infected the floor under hoof, and radiated outwards across the empire. After the empire was filled to the edge with the blue cadence of light, it all rushed back to the center and caused the heart to rotate rapidly until it was a blur.

The next moment the air was filled with the rush of love and light fueled magic, and a blue sphere of it radiated outwards. As it blew past Chrysalis and over the rest of the occupants of the empire more strange alterations occurred.

When the queen looked at the vanguard next to her she raised both eye brows. The changeling had a stubbly grown mane before, now however, he’d sprung a full length one, and it was well groomed… His chitin and skin also glinted and shined with a refined brilliance, as if he had changed to glass.

These drastic changes encouraged Chrysalis to give herself a once over. Her chitin had also obtained a glassy appearance, her wings a prismatic quality, and her mane rested very different. She also felt a strange weight on her head, and reached a hoof up to find out what.

It was a crown… Which she quickly took off and inspected. It wasn’t the old crown she had lost, but, she could do with this for now, and she put it back on.

After the initial blue wave of radiant magic finished, a new pillar of stark white blasted straight up through the core of the palace and out the top. A rainbow beam shot into the sky then exploded at a certain elevation. Tendrils of color seeped out and reached across the sky. Something that could truly be seen across all Equestria…

Chrysalis barely noticed when Crone hovered by and landed next to her. She had undergone similar changes, but had little unique differences. Both of them glanced south before Crone spoke.

“What did you say about the Empire’s location NOT being big news?”

The queen of the jagged horn cursed and seethed.

“Molt flakes!”


---

-One week later

---


Preparation, preparation, preparation…

After the fanfare and celebration of the Crystal Heart’s placement both changeling queens threw themselves into fortifying the Crystal Empire with mad fervor. The frigid chill of the far north was pushed back with the relic’s return, and working conditions were quite favorable.

In short, the explanation Chrysalis gave the crystal ponies for her sudden return, and desire to make the empire more defensible was this… she had enemies. Enemies that sought to divide Equestria and gain power for themselves. She came to the Empire because she believed them to be the most trustworthy. The reception of this news was mixed, but her projection of confidence was enough to resolve most qualms. She had saved them from Sombra after all…

So in preparation the drones busily dug a moat, and built a slime/crystal wall around the border of the empire. Vanguard constantly projected a field to prevent any surprise teleportations. Sentinels scoured the city for any signs of foreign presence. As a result a few germane ponies were added to the collection of prisoners.

Another notable effect was the Crystal Heart itself. Its constant magical radiance projected hope and love throughout the empire. The air was thick with it, and any changeling could feed simply by breathing. The changes in the constitution of the swarm were very noticeable, and constant exposure over the course of the week had remarkable effects.

First was the lack of fatigue, most changelings didn’t even feel the need to sleep, and recovered quickly from strenuous tasks.
Next was mostly aesthetic differences, the swarm looked healthier and more vibrant than it had ever been. Most changelings sported full manes now, though many didn’t know what to do with them, and left them un-styled.

Last was the fruition of Chrysalis’s earlier order to multiply. She planned for that to take atleast another week, but she didn’t expect the Crystal Heart to do what it did. Everything progressed faster, and by the end of her first week back in the empire…

Broodlings… Broodlings everywhere, over five thousand of them of every flavor. The sheer volume was enough to overwhelm, and the queen’s labor force was cut, more than she would like. To her surprise many of the crystal ponies offered to help tend to the boom of changeling babies. Which she reluctantly accepted, the circumstances had become quite demanding after all.

When it came time to make a census of her swarm however, most of the menial concerns were brought to a screeching halt.


---


Chrysalis cantered along the stairs of the palace in a brisk trot, she was headed to the throne room to deal with the concerns of the day. Crone had taken a long shift and was ready for a break. Inventory and supplies of the empire were accounted for over the previous night.

As the queen moved along her wings tittered, she felt as if she should be tired. The last week had been almost none stop work, but every breath of the fresh love-infused air brought new invigoration. She mentally communicated with Colony as she moved along.

So has the census of the swarm been completed yet? It’s been almost a day since the new broods dropped…

Yes my queen, it is complete. I’ve also done one for the ponies, would you like to hear it categorically?

Tell me the swarm first, what did we get?

Broodling drones, 3648, Broodling vanguards, 373, broodling sentinels, 979, broodling royals, 2.

The queen’s brain stopped, and her jaw dropped, her body mindless continued forward in its brisk trot. She didn’t even noticed when she trampled over some innocent bystander. After a few more moments of mental silence Chrysalis struggled to think cohesively.

W-what was the last thing you said?

Broodlings royals, 2.

The confirmation caused the queen’s pupils to shrink to pinpricks, her trot stopped dead, and her wings and ears flared outward, before she mentally roared.

WHERE!

Colony’s response was much more timid than before.

With me, they’re both right here with me.

Chrysalis didn’t waste a moment peering through the mental spectrum to identify her head-drone’s location. It was nearby, in a lower level of the palace. When the queen pulled out of her telepathic vision, she noticed she was already in the throne room, and had garnered several stares from both changelings and ponies.

When a throat was loudly cleared from across the room most eyes shifted focus. It was Crone who croaked out the noise.

“Greetings dear sister, did you have something you wanted to announce?”

“Come with me. I’ll call Shade in to conduct your business.”

Crone furrowed her brow in confusion as she crossed the floor until she was at Chrysalis’s side. The shorter queen issued a quick mental order to her head-vanguard, then announced loudly to the throne room.

“Shade will come in and conduct business that you would otherwise have with us. We will be preoccupied until further notice.”

Most of the ponies in the room took the announcement with nonchalance. A large part of their concerns didn’t really warrant a royal edict anyway.

Without another moment to waste Chrysalis turned about, and bolted towards Colony’s location. Crone was almost left in the dust since she didn’t expect the urgent pace of the other queen. All she could do was follow in hot pursuit through the hall ways.

“What is going on?”

She tried to ask, but Chrysalis rounded the corner before she could finish the question. This caused Crone to clench her jaws and growl in frustration. She may be closely related to the true queen, but she couldn’t explain this odd behavior.

Thankfully the chase came to a close, and the queen with the jagged horn stood hesitantly on the other side of a door. It was a common crystal door to one of the common rooms lower in the palace. Tired of the strange behavior, Crone walked up to the door and pushed it open.

“Care to explain what’s going on yet?”

Chrysalis remained silent and took cautious steps into the room. With a heavy sigh, Crone followed while she rolled her eyes. As soon as things came into clear view, Crone’s jaw dropped.

In the center of the room was a bed. One the bed was Colony, and cradled up against her were two little broodlings. Actually the broodlings were quite large for newborns, but the feature that shocked them most was their eyes. The double rings of royal irises were there. One infant had blue-green, the other was blue-yellow.

Colony nervously eyed the two queens across from her, and her gaze flicked rapidly from one to the other to try and discern a response. It didn’t take long.

Chrysalis leapt forward to the bedside and let out an uncharacteristic squeal of excitement. Crone fell on to her rump, slumped her posture, ears and wings fell flat, and her jaw metaphorically fell to the floor.

The queen with the jagged horn reached forward and gushed together each of the infants’ chubby cheeks. The yellow-eyed one gurgled something babyish, and the green-eyed one chirped. Then she started to rapid fire questions to a bewildered Colony.

“When were they born? Are they yours? Where’s the father? Why didn’t you tell me immediately after they popped out? You didn’t name them already did you?”

A flux of emotions was apparent in the giddy Chrysalis’s voice, while Crone just sat back and rode out the shock. Colony opened and closed her mouth several times, but nothing came out. Before another barrage of questions could erupt, another changeling’s voice piped up.

“I’ve been Colony’s mate for the last few months, my queen. They were both born last night and she was quite tired after the ordeal. Your conversation is what woke her up this morning.”

Chrysalis turned her head around and noticed a vanguard who sat quietly in the other corner of the room. She blinked, and wondered how she hadn’t noticed him when she came in. He had light grey chitin and a dull blue mane and eyes.

“Do you have a name vanguard?”

“I’m Opaque.”

The queen then turned thoughtful, and she started to rub her chin with a fetlock, and absentmindedly tickled the yellow broodling with a hoof. It kicked and gurgled adorably. Their little pudgy bodies were quite squishy at this stage, as broodlings didn’t have hardened chitin.

Things remained quiet a while longer, Colony and Opaque waited and watched, Crone finally got over herself and approached the bedside. When she was close she lifted a hind leg on each of the royal broodlings. She hummed in reserved tones.

“A future king and queen…”

Crone snorted and took a few steps back, then she abruptly turned about to face the door. With her back to every other changeling in the room, she spoke with a small hitch.

“I…I need to excuse myself, Chrysalis.”

The taller royal made a sidelong glance, and saw her sister’s eyes glued on the broodlings. Without a look in her clone-sister’s direction, Chrysalis waved her hoof in acknowledgement. Crone’s head swung low, and she exited the room to find some place to be alone.

Eventually Colony asked the remaining queen a question.

“What do you plan on doing with them, my queen?”

The giant changeling broke her transfixed gaze from the two broodlings, and looked up to her head-drone. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes.

“We’ll do what was done with me. My parents were a drone and sentinel after all. So you, Colony and Opaque, will raise them until they begin to speak. Then I’ll take over mentoring them from there.”

Colony and Opaque gave each other a look before they turned back to the queen and nodded their heads. Then something started to scratch at the back of Chrysalis’s mind, a sentinel called out for her.

My queen, a foreign changeling is at our border. He says you know him.

She furrowed her brow at the news, and retracted her hooves from playing with the two broodlings. Colony tensed at the queen’s sudden shift, and a worried look came over her muzzle. With a slight tint to her eyes, she replied with barely contained irritation.

Did he give a name?

King Specter.

A fierce snort came from her nostrils, and she startled the other changelings in the room. She focused in the mental spectrum to locate the sentinel that called, once she had the direction fixed she stood up on her hooves.

“I’ll be back in a minute.”

She trotted out of the room, and looked both ways down the hall. Near the end of the crystal passage room she could see Crone slowly sulk away. Before her sister could disappear she shouted.

“CRONE!”

The taller royal perked up her ears and looked back down the hall, she simply stood there, and waited for Chrysalis to do something else. When she saw her clone-sister idle there she buzzed down the length of the hall.

“Crone, there is something that needs our attention on the south border.”

“Can it not wait?”

“It’s King Specter, apparently he wants to talk.”

“Really?”

“Yes. Last time he came with a warning, his intention might be similar this time. Would you go fly down there and see what he wants?”

Crone let out another heavy sigh and nodded her head.

“I’ll relay his message at your convenience.”

“Thank you sister.”

“It’s what I’m here for.”

The taller royal approached one of the windows and set her front hooves on the sill, in preparation to fly away. Before she hopped off and left, she felt a hoof touch her wing, it was Chrysalis.

“Do you need something else, sister.”

“Crone, the broodlings aren’t going to replace you…”

That made her chuckle with a melancholic tune.

“Ofcourse not, not yet.”

“Crone…”

“Chrysalis, don’t feign my importance. I may share your tastes and leadership skills, but I’m not a properly functional royal. Those two will be more useful than me in a few years.”

“CRONE! A few years won’t happen if we don’t make smart decisions now! We have more than enough enemies already. I don’t need my greatest ally gnawed away from a sense of self depreciation. I hate to compare, but isn’t Luna a good enough example? You know what, don’t reply to that, just shut up and go flirt with Specter.”

Then Chrysalis gave Crone a hard slap on the rump… slaps with hooves hurt… That sent her sister up and out the window with a surprised squeal. The queen with the crooked horn shook her head and bit her lower lip, before she trotted back to the room that housed Colony.


---


-At the southern border of the Crystal Empire


A rather large group of sentinels and vanguard had congregated at the anti-teleportation barrier, which was slightly further than the moat and walls constructed by drones.

Opposite the large group of changelings was a tall solitary figure, a lavender maned changeling king. His veiny purple eyes followed the approach of a changeling queen, who slowly lowered herself a short distance from him.

After a short moment of studying each other Specter raised an eyebrow.

“Chrysalis?”

“Not quite, though I will admit my sister shares a close resemblance.”

“Sister?”

The king shifted in surprised, Crone took the opportunity to take a few steps forwards, and bat her eye lids just so.

“Yes, you can tell apart because she’s a little more battered than me, but enough about her. What occasion brings your gracious presence to me?”

She gave a winning smile and swished her tail playfully as she took another step forward. Specter took a step back, and raised an eye brow.

“The occasion comes from the south and east.”

He stretched out a hoof in a wide arch and indicated the horizons, where he gazed somberly. She briefly looked where he pointed, but soon turned back to studying his face intently. He had such dark lines under his eyes.

“Are you bringing friends?”

She whispered towards his ear. The proximity startled Specter, and he flinched, to find Crone brushed up against him. He put a hoof on her chest, then pushed her a leg-length away. She giggled at that, and traced her hoof over his. He pulled back and cleared his throat before he spoke with increased sternness.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t think I caught your name.”

“It’s Crone.”

“Crone? Huh… I find your current behavior an unnecessary distraction. I’d appreciate if you’d restrain yourself while I speak my peace.”

She blew a soft raspberry and rolled her eyes. She picked up an equally stern tone as her face fell into a slight pout.

“Oh please, what are you going to say that Chrysalis and I haven’t already guessed? That an army of free equestrian guards, led by an unaccounted for Shining Armor march up this way. That a rag-tag band of militia, mostly pegasi, are accompany them. That other changeling royals march, fly, and dig their way here under guise?”

“Well, you forgot the germane army marching from there.”

He pointed north-east.

“And the contingent of prench mages hiding over there.”

He pointed to a nearby forest that merged with some distant hillsides.

“Otherwise yes, your guesses are fairly accurate.”

“Then why bother coming to talk? You could easily hide off to the side and watch… Or is there some other reason?”

Crone found herself very surprised when she felt a large hoof wrap around her shoulders and pull her close. She suddenly came face to face with Specter, and their fore-heads knocked together. He gave a quick glance to the nearby sentinels and vanguards before he stared Crone straight in the eye. The king sighed as he brushed past her face and brought his muzzle close to her ear and whispered.

“I’d hate to see you and your sister destroyed… It’s not fair, more or less. The reason you and your sister grew up in ignorance is our fault, the fault of the remaining royals. Our idiotic war has divided us so, and I don’t want either of you to get the hammer because you didn’t know any better.”

The queen sneered slightly as she whispered back.

“Well, that’s very noble and all, but do you actually have any useful suggestions?”

“I could hide you, and your sister. You’d have to abandon your swarm though.”

The last part caused Crone to pull back with a great guffaw, then she gave the king a most indignant glare. Her voice was no longer a whisper when she uttered her reply.

“Are you serious?”

The look Specter gave her was deadly serious. Crone’s indignant glare intensified.

“You really think you could get us to drop everything on a whim? Leaving Canterlot was already a great concession, but what you ask is impossible.”

Both of the royal changelings had spaced themselves apart at that point, and were locked in fierce eye contact.

“Why waste your blood? Swarms can be rebuilt or assimilated, but royals are not so easily replaced. I’ve seen too much carnage over the last hundred years to simply watch the last of our kind throw away their potential. Come with me.”

“No… not unless you can find a way to hide us all.”

“DON’T BE STUPID!”

The king’s composure started to break, and his violet eyes gained a frantic wildness. The sudden edge in his stance unnerved Crone, and she became very self-conscious of her inabilities. When Specter noticed he triggered some fear in the queen he pressed further.

“Would you rather be so selfish and guarantee annihilation of your swarm? Rather than allow them a chance at peaceful assimilation? Do you really want to be a trophy in Monarch’s collection? Do you want to rule Equestria in the open, only to have them scorn you with all but their words? Do you want to remain alone?”

Each question felt like a rail road spike being driven into her heart, and she cringed deeper and deeper throughout the king’s tirade. The last question drilled the hardest, and her muzzle drooped into a deep scowl, moisture started to build around the corners of her eyes.

A flash lightning and the loud crack of thunder brought every equine’s eyes to the sky. The howl of gale winds could be heard as clouds rapidly billowed on the horizon, they were the large plumages of a storm. Upon close inspection, Pegasi could be seen among the folds, as they guided and directed the imminent hurricane.

Another noise constantly rolled besides the thunder, a constant drum, the stamp of thousands of hooves. In the distant hills thousands of figures peeped into view as they crested the peaks. A few flashes of signature unicorn teleportation placed many in forward positions. The gold tint of equestrian guard armor made itself manifest.

The dull roar of marching came not only from the south, but the north and east as well. Soon a glittering host appeared, and shone with glamour in wide variety of metallic shades. The sound of their march was much heavier and deeper, as their physical weight bore a toll upon the ground.

Crone’s eyes almost exploded out of their sockets as she witnessed multiple hosts of thousands surround her empire. In the back of her mind she could feel the nervous chitter of the swarm as those within the empire began to noticed the approaching storm.
Specter’s voice carried a chilling tone.

“I’m almost certain More, Monarch, and Armor are among them. Besides the ponies that obviously have a bone to pick with you, for the possession of their princesses and heroes. Your time is running out Crone… What say you and your sister?”

The changeling queen looked back into the intense, pleading gaze of the lavender king.

“If there is to be a joining… feel free to help defend my empire. I won’t leave my changelings… my ponies… to the hooves of others.”

Specters eyes narrowed and his hopeful expression shattered into a displeased snarl.

“Fool…”


---


-high above it all

A small solitary cloud drifted above the entire scenario. This particular cloud was an oddity, for it was pink, and possessed the consistency of cotton candy more than mist. Occasionally dark droplets of chocolate milk would drip away from it.

Slowly it drifted directly over the Empire, towards the landmark palace.

Drip… drip… drop…

Author's Note:

Mmmk, some sketches.

The return of the Crystal Heart.


Then babies... lots O babies. From left to right, drone, vanguard, sentinel

Colony with the new royal brood

King Specter comes with warnings and an offer

The Equestrian guard come to reclaim their princesses

The Germane come to make claims as well

Some mood music as things billow up

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