• 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.68 "Wrenches in Plans"

Chrysalis Wins


Ch.68 “Wrenches in Plans”

( Canterlot - shortly after the dispersion of the “Discord Games” )

Prince Blueblood strode the palace with an air of authority, more so than he usually did. A swell smile simply couldn’t keep itself away from his immaculate and chiseled muzzle.

Servant ponies and various contractors were busily moving about the castle. Boxes of new decorative supplies, tools for repair, and other various commodities were carted about. Everypony moved with purpose, just like their prince.

A personal custodian tailed behind the alabaster stallion, she was rather unremarkable, save for her perfect professional appearance, and her frenzied note-taking. A quill and notepad were held in her magic, and had all the prince’s orders scrawled down. She was rather automatic about the whole process until her liege said something that gave her pause.

“Excuse me your majesty? Did I just hear you say-”

“Yes Scribe, you head correct. Instruct the decorators to prepare materials, but not to set anything up. When we’re inevitably taken over again, it would be such a bother to have the wrong decor, then have to change it.”

Blueblood chuckled to himself at the notion of having his own personal scribe. Such a luxury wasn’t something afforded to his previous office, but now… he was Prince with a capital P.

“You don’t plan on remaining in charge you majesty?”

“Scribe, after Shining Armor decided to play vigilante general, there’s only a few ways this can play out. Either he succeeds and brings the princesses back, ala return to the status quo. Or he loses, and our changeling overlords return, albeit in a much worse mood than they were before.”

The scribe pony cringes some at the thought, and makes sure to notate the orders. Blueblood stops his confident stride, and puts a hoof to his noble chin in thought, then mutters his contemplations aloud.

“Though I suppose there could easily be a third option. If they’re evenly matched, and the victor comes out weak, then another foreign party could easily come into play. I know our relations with Yakyakistan have been teetering on edge, Germane has lobbied for our northern lands for decades, and dragons have always been opportunistic blighters. Yes, if not the changelings, then it will be some other nation, as our lands remain unguarded and organized. Quite frankly I don’t think the populous will really care either, with the amount of rambunctious chaos that’s been pervading the nation for the last month. I think they’ll accept any measure of relative stability and security.”

Blueblood paused for breath, and continued.

“If some military is going to invade, I see no reason to give resistance, not that we’re in any position to… We might as well prepare the city for any coming change of decorum. Polish up the stone, and repair some of the structural damage inflicted by the initial invasion. Rude and deceitful as Queen Chrysalis may have been, at least she didn’t spend a bit out of the treasury…”

At some point during his musings, Blueblood had resumed his trot, and ended up in the royal throne room, scribe pony still by his side.

For a short while the stallion looked up to the throne his aunt had so frequently occupied. His hooves carried him up the elegant steps, and once he reached the top, he turned about in a slow sweeping gesture, fit for one of his royal stature.

Blueblood took his seat on the throne, and relished it for a moment. On a few occasions before, he had played around this throne, in jests of authority that his auntie often found amusing… This time it was no jest.

His auntie had gotten herself entangled in a game she wasn’t winning. The throne was left empty after the changelings rather sudden and shocking departure. The previous popular steward, Fancy Pants, had left with his changeling wife. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, when Shining Armor revealed his freedom, it was clear he wasn’t going to buckle down and help govern, but run off on a crusade.

Though there was plenty of greed and ambition among the canterlot nobles, none quite had that spark of charisma, or presence of command, or willingness to take responsibility. No, and only he was left to be the face of authority, and be liable for any further upsetting events.

The alabaster stallion always thought he wanted this. He always wanted to be the one at the helm, guiding the future of his nation. His cutie mark was a testament to his superior sense of direction after all…

Though now, his sense of direction was subject to be buffered about. The compromised state of the nation meant one possibility was as likely as the next.

The throne itself, rather than being an emblematic bastion of empowerment as he imagined it to be, felt rather heavy.

“Do you want this announced as policy my liege?”

Scribe pony managed to shake Blueblood out of his thoughts.

“May as well. I wouldn’t want there to be any unreasonable expectations from my paltry position. I do not plan on keeping it for long.”

Then a voice called out, one that Blueblood hadn’t heard for some time.

“Blue! What’s going on? Where are the changelings I’ve been hearing about?”

A white unicorn with crimson-grey mane trotted into the throneroom, followed by a violet mare the prince recognized as Celestia’s protege. He was confused by the appearance, but voiced a positive greeting.

“Auntie Shy! It’s been too long. And, well, much has certainly happened. Come, please sit.”

The chalky stallion stepped down from the throne, and called for some of the servants to bring over cushions. They were all quickly attended to, and Blueblood turned to his scribe.

“Scribe, I want you to go about publishing the memo, also make sure the servants are instructed regarding decorum. Once I’m finished here, I’ll meet you at the treasury to do some budgeting.”

“Right away your majesty.”

As the scribe departed Shy raised an eyebrow, and she turned a critical gaze towards the stallion.

“Majesty?”

“I figure the proper title will give the disgruntled ponies of this city a sense of order, anyway, where do I even start…”

“How about where all the changelings are, the ones that are supposed to be ruling?”

Shy’s tone was very business-like, and didn’t contain the warm charm the prince remembered her by. But things as they were, she deserved answers. Blueblood started by pointing a hoof at Twilight.

“Firstly, I’m surprised to see Miss Sparkle here, since you were so hotly pursued by Queen Chrysalis.”

“Where is she Blueblood.”

Twilight’s question was less of a question and more of a demand, there was no humor to her voice at all. With the two mare’s being so pressing, he decided forgo his own questions for the time being.

“Very well, they disappeared all at once, about a week ago. The queen and her whole army. Some individuals mentioned something about a crystal empire up north. Shining Armor rallied all of Equestria’s standing guard to march that way. I have no idea what the outcome is going to be, so I’ve just been preparing the city for what may come. Auntie… is something wrong?”

After the “crystal empire” was mentioned Shy had frozen in place, her pupils shrank to pinpricks, and her breath all but stopped. Blueblood’s expression of escalating concern caused Twilight to turn to the mare next to her. She reached out a hoof and prodded Shy’s withers.

“Shy?”

The touched caused a flippant reaction, and the pale mare had jumped high into the air before landing on her hooves.

“YOU SAID WHAT!”

Both Twilight and Blueblood flinched back at the volume.

“Calm down auntie, what is the matter?”

“Y-you said the crystal empire has returned?”

A desperate flicker was in her eyes, and a wild, almost maddening twitch had taken over her whole face. This also translated to a whole body tremor, and Shy shook like a pup terrified by a thunderstorm.

Twilight felt panic rise within her chest, the whole week she had been with this pony…-cough- changeling, she had never once expressed the smallest amount of nervousness. Not at the mention of the hostile imprisonment of her friends, or the defeat of Celestia. No, Shy had never expressed doubt that she could handle the situation with Chrysalis. But now, the mention of this place, this crystal empire, had clearly caused her to unravel, but why?

“Auntie, you’re scaring me. What is there to worry about?”

The shaken mare struggle to say more, and ultimately didn’t utter anything intelligible. Fear had seemed to take her completely. Both Twilight and Blueblood hurried to her side to try and calm her down.

After a few minutes of soothing contact, Shy finally managed to expel a single word, though it sounded much more for herself than any other pony.

“S-Sombra…”

“What was that?”

Blueblood and Twilight both questioned at once. However, their curiosity was put on hold when they heard thunder boom outdoors.

A great storm rolled over the top of the mountain, and expanded across the valley and fields all about. Odd objects rained from the sky, ranging from squeaky duck toys to watermelons. Strange winds that whispered riddles blew the curtains about. All the previously orderly ponies in the palace began to cower in fear. It had been such a beautiful day…

Brilliant white light flashed in the throne room, and a deranged cackle echoed off the walls.

“Shy, shy, I wonder why, what would they want her for, so much so they couldn’t bother to say good-bye.”

Twilight instantly recognized the voice, and she was highly perplexed by it. She stood on her hooves and called him out.

“Discord.”

Said draconequus popped into view, and hovered around the little group, his snaky body slowly swirled as he circled them. Blueblood reacted in abject fear, and shivered like a terrified colt. Twilight remained steadfast, if annoyed, and Shy finally seemed shaken out of her stupor.

“So tell me, Shy, why would Celestia be directed towards you?”

The chimera landed on his hind legs, and loomed over them with interest. Twilight throughout a demand first, as she stomped a hoof on the tile.

“How did you get out! We put you in stone only a year ago!”

A zipper appeared over the lavender unicorn's muzzle, and Discord zipped it shut.

“All things in good time Twilight, but I came here to get my questions answered first. You see, I was spooked recently… SPOOKED! Can you believe it! Some pony managed to play a trick on the master of tricks, it vexes me deeply to say the least.”

Discord summoned a large armchair into existence, which he promptly relegated himself too. Also the lighting in the throne room had changed, a cosy fireplace popped up where there wasn’t one before, and the chimera held out a book, opened it, and continue as if he were reading them a story.

“We were all having such a lovely time too, playing games and all that. But somepony decided to bust the party, one that emanated such harmonic magic I thought the elements were being brought to bear again. Fortunately that was not the case, and apparently it was only a cheap trick… Anyway, the interesting part comes when I realized I’d left one of my ears behind in the grass.”

The devious spirit pulled one of his ears off to demonstrate, and tossed it down at the hooves of the ponies. The prince recoiled in disgust, Shy ignored it, and Twilight stepped down on it.

“OW!”

Discord snapped his ear back up and reattached it to his skull, he gave Twilight an unappreciative glare… and slapped a straight-jacket on her as well as doubling up on the zipper.

“Anyway, that ear I’d left behind in my haste to escape managed to catch an interesting thing or two. -Go south before Discord can follow you- she says -Find Shy, particularly you Celestia- she says… I couldn’t help but find myself extremely curious about the whole thing. What would Celestia need from you?”

The draconequus’s mismatched pupils focused down on the chalky mare, a highly suspicious slant draped over his muzzle. The mare, for her part, looked back up at the spirit of disharmony, her calm and collected composure working itself back together. Her words came out cautiously, as if she attempted to poke a bear with a stick.

“Now Discord, I only need to see her briefly. You can go back to your jokes, but I do need to see Celestia. She needs my-”

The chimera leaned forward to put a paw to her lips to silence her, and flickers of recognition began to play in his countenance.

“I’ve seen you several times before, I remember you walking through the gardens with that alicorn. You always had such a contemptuous look for my statue. You looked like I’d done something hurtful to you before…”

A paw was lifted, and Discord began to scratch into his own ear. Disturbingly, the scratch continued, longer, and deeper. Eventually the entirety of his eagle claw was within his own head, and after one moment of struggle, the draconequus pulled out his own brain, and held it aloft in his paw.

Such a sight caused Blueblood to faint, Twilight to cringe, and Shy to look, guilty. The chimera simply looked at his own thought organ with interest.

“Oh my, this is interesting, what do we have here…”

A large corkscrew was clearly embedded deep into the right-side of Discord’s brain. Without hesistation he lifted his lion paw onto the handle. Then slow, deliberate twists began to unwind the device. Moment by moment, the chimera’s casual smile began to droop lower, and lower. When the metal instrument was completely removed a ferocious snarl had evolved over his muzzle.

“YOU… you conniving little cretin. You thought you could just play with my mind, SLY!”

He stood to his full intimidating height as he roared at them, a zap of energy spouted from from a paw at the red-maned pony, and her disguise melted away. A changeling queen now coward in her place. Her tone became begging.

“You don’t understand! I had to-”

Discord roared over her, not caring for her response now.

“Year after year! I see it clear as day now! You took advantage of my helpless state. New disguises all the time! You thought you’d make me forget about you, so I’d leave your kind alone. Oh how quickly that idea is falling apart! … I’ll have to give an extra large thank-you to Chrysalis for bringing all this to light! And I don’t do thank-yous!”

The flashes of lightning from the storm picked up tenfold, and the golden eyes of the spirit of chaos glowed with belligerence. He snapped his digits, and the whole of the palace shook.

Screams of the terrified echoed across the whole of Canterlot, and after a particularly power lurch, the city ceased to shake. For any who looked outward, their mouths fell open in shock. The mountain side city had separated from the mountain, and now floated slowly into the sky.

“Now, I know Celestia is currently headed in the wrong direction. Apparently she thought she'd find you at your little country home. So, I’m going to head her off, and remove any tacks you may have put in her mind, Sly. Let's see what she thinks!”

“No, Discord you can’t! You don’t understand! She needs me right now!”

Sly all but screeched.

“The only thing that NEEDS to be done right now is fair exchange...”

The chimera forcefully brought down his paw on Sly’s head, and his eyes started to swirl into hypnotic nonsense. The same began to happen to the changeling he was trying to change. The queen fought against it, and the struggle lasted for some time. Twilight hopped over, and tried to poke Discord in the leg with her horn, but the painful distraction wasn’t enough. When he let go, the changeling below him was grey, her mane had lost all color, and she slumped into the cushion beneath her.

Content with his work, Discord turned away and disappeared in a flash of magic. Along with his departure, Twilight was relieved of her bindings. She took in a deep breath of relief, then hurried over to her traveling companion.

“Sh-Sly? Are you ok?”

The worrying signs of color change were there, perhaps Twilight could fix it? Though probably not, she didn’t have a long list of memories to share with this changeling.To her surprise, Sly sprang to her hooves, and began to trot in circles with a giddy chuckle.

“Secrets, secrets! Time to spill the beans! Let’s hang out all the dirty laundry Twilight! For every pony to see! HEHEHHAHAHEHAHA”

Sly put her hooves on the unicorn and shook her with vigor, then she let go and ran down the hall in mad laughter.

“No! Sly wait! Come back here!”

Twilight ran after the changed-ling as fast as she could.

Blueblood was left alone in the throne room, still unconscious.



---



( Near Yakyakistan - shortly after the dispersion of the “Discord Games” )




Broken… burned… shattered. The ruined form of queen Monarch lay in the center of a crater. Her wings were shredded nearly to stumps, her horn lay split in half, and large swathes of her chitin had melted away, and left large areas of flesh exposed. Slow weak breaths caused her ribcage to rise unsteadily, and her bloodshot eyes stared forward, unseeing.

Snow began to fall after sometime. The rift in the clouds caused by the queen’s descent had since sealed over. Moderate winds seemed to play a baleful melody over the ice-capped peaks, and only added to the mood of departure. Much of the blood that oozed from Monarch after impact had already congealed, accelerated by the frozen air.

A single snowflake landed on the queen’s emerald eye, and she blinked. A deep gasp echoed from her chest through her throat, followed by an intense shudder down the length of her body.

What seemed like a moment ago her entire being had been on fire, and only now did she begin to react to the unforgiving exposure of the cold.

Despite the involuntary trembles that wracked every string of muscle she had left, she felt oddly at peace.

“This is it…”

The words formed on her cracked and bloodied lips, though she spared no air to actually voice it. She made no effort to get up, she saw no purpose. If anything, an amused curl started to stretch at the corner of her mouth, though pain and numbness prevented full expression.

Monarch held no anger for her opponent, nor did she care how or why such a lowly royal managed to overwhelm and destroy her. No, such wasn’t her concern anymore. She had already died inside long ago. Celestia had perceived it all too easily in those rueful “Discord Games.” Now her body had simply caught up to the crushed state of her soul.

The once mighty queen closed her eyes as acceptance flowed through her, as readily as the frozen numbness of her environment. Her lips contorted one last time to form the words,

“My Fire…”

She couldn’t wait for death, now that it felt mere moments away.

“You’re not done Monny.”

The ruined changeling’s eyes flickered open, confusion stretched the burned features of her countenance. That voice, she hadn’t heard that voice in over a century and a half. She must be delusional, yes, simply a death spasm.

“Get up Monny, I never picked you for a quitter.”

This time the voice was accompanied by the sound of hoof steps. Monarch began to seriously question her level of lucidity, but curiosity compelled her head to turn towards the source.

There stood a changeling she hadn’t seen in over a century and a half. This startled her into a violent coughing fit, and she was shocked at how alive she still felt. As she gained control of her lungs she managed to sputter audibly.

“F-Fire! B-but you’re dead?”

“You’ve still got a job to do Monny.”

The changeling of imperial stature knelled down close to her, he was clothed in his typical cloak and regalia, just as she remembered.

“You can't give up Monny, not yet.”

Tears began to spill over onto Monarch’s charred cheeks, and she attempted to reach out to her unexplained companion. She didn’t care if this was insanity, she didn’t want this moment to end.

“I have no work left Fire, I’m expired. Just… stay with me.”

An apologetic sigh came from the regal king, and he stood up, and unlatched his cloak.

“I can’t stay with you Monny, you still have an important work to do.”

He cast his freed cloak over her, and the cold of the mountains was relieved, but the turmoil rooted in Monarch’s chest wasn’t.

“No, no you can’t! You can’t leave me Fire Heart, not again!”

“I’m sorry, so very sorry Mon-”

Fire Heart choked on her name, even as he bowed his head and walked away. The destroyed changeling called out more desperate than ever.

“NO! COME BACK! Fire please, take me with you, please don’t leave me… please.”

For the first time since the crash, she struggled to get up. She hadn’t felt the need for something so strongly for dozens of decades. Though the effort was obviously futile in her current state, she couldn’t let it go. Her burnt and broken body struggled pathetically, but was no more effective than a newborn foal. Though her breaths became staggered, she refused to break down into sobs, even as a torrent for tears continued to spill down her face like salt in a wound.

After a particularly strong heave she glanced about. Her companion was gone, only a wall of snowy haze surrounded her for company. She screamed against the apathetic weather.

“FIRE!”

All the strain caught up to her, and her vision fell into a blurry collusion. The combined effects of exhaustion and extensive injuries finally began to overwhelm her consciousness, and she blacked out.

She wasn’t sure when, but somewhere in her poorly lucid state she felt something tug at her legs. There was nothing she could do to react, all power overself was gone. Perhaps her desperate wails had attracted some predator? Whatever it was, she couldn’t stop thinking of the face she missed so dearly, even as her perceptions slipped to nothingness once more.



---



Several large bodies shifted around the fallen queen as she was wrapped in heavy furs, and placed on a stretcher.

One of these figures was much smaller than the others, and looked over the process as a conductor does an orchestra. Yellow eyes leered out from the darkness of the hood, and a grim grin stretched over a crimson mouth.

---



( Manehattan - A week after the dispersion of the “Discord Games” )




“I’m done! If the city press wants any more answers they can review the official statement!”

A very harassed mayor More all but roared at the crowd, which surrounded her office building. However, the circle of ponies were undeterred by her hostile dismissiveness.

“But mayor! What are your-”

“Mayor mayor! Why aren’t you-”

“Could you please explain-”

“There’s a lot of concern about-”

“Some ponies are saying-”

“I love you mayor!”

“Show your face dirtbag!”

The crowd’s incessant calls for this or that were simply relentless. So, the mayor/queen turned about with her security escort and left the scene. They disappeared into her administration building for respite.

Once inside the escorts locked the doors and secured the windows. Meanwhile More carried her rustled hide straight towards the elevator. She barked out a last order as the doors slid open.

“Watch every entrance, I don’t want any disturbance for the next eight hours! … gaw, I need a drink.”

She let out a long sigh, and once the elevator closed her posture slumped. Her hind legs splayed out and her back rested against the wall. Along with a jerk of movement, some elevator music began to chime in.

The mayor’s pony exterior melted away as her queen form continued to stare idly at the wall. Stress lines crinkled her otherwise pristine face. The last few days had been the worst PR nightmare she had ever dealt with.

Her city, her otherwise orderly and pragmatic city had almost devolved into a rioting squaller. There was nothing to do about the news of the Discord games either, there were too many witnesses to handle all at once. Even if she did try to mind wipe the city, the circulation of information would just outpace her.

The Elevator bell relieved her of her thoughts for a moment, she had reached the penthouse. Her hooves carried her with the speed of one desperate for relief. The office would be the first stop, then she could crash into bed and think about nothing.

The deep cherry wood doors burst open as the metropolitan queen bee-lined for her drinking cabinet. Only to find the bottle and glasses missing, she gawked and let out a frustrated snarl.

So far this week, her name had been thoroughly smeared with every word in the dictionary, She had become a popular scapegoat for every conceivable problem, and her reputation was less valuable than a common crumpled up newspaper, all thanks to the exposure from Discord’s oh-so-flattering games...

Most of it was simply reactionary fear, but none of it had escalated beyond words. No pony had dared attack her or invade her personal space. As long as it stayed that way, she could handle it.

However, as she stated at the violated empty cabinet… she was ready to kill.

“This city, it’s quite a marvel that you oversee.”

More’s ears flicked to the unexpected voice, her senses sprung to high alert, and her icy blue eyes fixated on the chair behind her desk.

The chair faced away from her towards the window, which gave a sweeping view of the island city. her bottle of heart-nectar was opened and on the desk. A spare glass was filled half way, presumptuously for her. The other floated next to the chair, held aloft in crimson magic. From the voice alone, More didn’t have to guess who occupied her metropolitan throne. Oddly, she found her anger disappear almost instantly.

“I assume you didn’t come here for the view, and to steal my vintage drink, Sombra.”

The magic slowly rotated the glass, and made the liquid swirl about with a mesmerizing effect. The invader relented an answer.

“Alas, were I only here for that. No, rather, I need to see a pest. About something that has pestered me, and won’t go. Something so fundamental I’ve found it difficult to focus on going forward. So, the first question that needs to be answered is, will this pest help put my frustrated queries to rest…”

The queen chuckled at the excessive expression of antic language.

“I must say, while your tonality is different from what I remember, it is certainly entertaining, in a clownish way.”

The office chair swiveled away from the window, and brought the grey stallion about to face her. His eyes narrowed slightly, deep set confusion was smothered under an expression of distaste.

“Please, take a seat. I assume you would be willing to talk further.”

“Oh, inviting me to sit down in my own office? How arrogantly assertive… maybe you haven’t lost your old flare entirely.”

Sombra’s eyes narrowed even further. His emotions hadn’t been his own for a while, but now. Things had been changing over the last week. He found his range of emotions more flexible than before, but still limited. However, that seemed the minor problem now. His voice contained no joviality when he commanded his next words.

“Stop talking like you know me! No pony else has talked to me this way. Not even the ancient princesses. I have no memory of you, and there’s no way you could have stalked me while I was sealed in ice!”

More pulled over a chair, and pulled the spare drink over.

“Calm down, you aren’t the only ancient that was altered. If anything, everything has been spiraling out of control. I suspect the deepest of buried things will be brought to light soon enough. Plenty already has.”

The stallion took a swig of his drink, and sighed.

“I usually like playing cryptic games, but if you would be so kind. I seek plain answers… What is wrong with my memory. I thought the crystal heart had relieved me of my madness, but apparently that wasn’t enough.”

The changeling took a swig of her drink, and began to rub a fetlock under her chin. She gave a cheeky smile as she answered.

“Would you like the full story, or a quick summation?”

“The full story.”

The ancient king answered without a moment’s hesitation. The queen’s smile deepened, and she stood up from her chair, and headed towards more cabinetry along the west wall. After opening a special drawer she began to cast a few incantations, and appeared to be undoing a number of defensive wards. After a minute or so of waiting, Sombra started to fiddle around. He opened up a drawer of the desk he sat at. He noticed a framed picture, and pulled it out.

Behind the little glass pane was a perfect replication of a little scene. Two royal class changelings leaned on each other closely, and prodded each other with their forelegs. One was clearly the changeling who he occupied the office with currently. This other one appeared to be male, presumably some pony close to her. They both had stunning blonde manes and lively blue eyes. Perhaps it was a brother?

“Find something you like there?”

More’s voice caused Sombra’s ears to perk, though he didn’t make any sudden movements, or even lift his eyes from the picture. Eventually he just shook his head and set the frame down.

“Just full of questions.”

“Well, that was my belated husband. It’s been more than a few years since Ambition died.”

“Heh, let me guess, it was that Monarch butterfly? Most of you insects seemed to have a bone to pick with her.”

“Your guess would be correct.”

“Hmm, and you said his name was Ambition?”

“Yes…”

“More, Ambition…”

“Your point?”

“Heh, nothing in particular.”

The queen rolled her eyes as Sombra picked up a snarky smirk. She responded with a shrewd tone.

“You would be far from the first to point that out. My old husband was quite the obsessive type, and many disregarded him as overly savant. However, I saw potential where most would turn a blind eye. He had vision, a grand vision that could become reality with some support. He only needed help navigating the politics of my now extinct society. Which is where I came in. Combine his knack for finding impossibly lost and impossibly valuable artifacts with my sauve social fluidity and we were mere steps away from having the world conform to our vision…”

“But civil war… How many of you bugs are left anyway?”

“Why? Calculating how difficult it would be to dispose of us?”

“Not quite, some of you appear more compliant and useful than others.”

“HAH! True words from a true pragmatist. Perhaps there is more of you left over than I thought.”

“There you go again, speaking like you know me.”

“Oh sorry, I suppose that’s where I bring this up.”

The changeling lifted a glowing green orb onto the desk, where she set it down to rest. The grey king studied it with mild interest, while More explained further.

“I can’t tell you what all your old thoughts were, I can only share what my kind knows of you. Though what my kind knows is quite personal…”

“Huh, so you didn’t personally stalk me. You just fangirled vicariously through some other bug that did.”

“Queen Sly to be specific, though I suppose she was only princess Sly to you. And it wasn’t so much stalking as a graphic diary.”

“Sly?”

“Do you remember the questions I asked you during Discord’s little game?”

Sombra flinched at the thought, but repeated the words he remembered.

“Who loved you, who did you betray, whose throne was it that you took? What was her name?”

“And you answered?”

“Princess Aurori- this, she was Sly? A bug?”

“It appears that’s the memory she may have constructed for you. I’m surprised she gave you anything at all. Considering what you did.”

The king’s jaw clenched in frustration. Dealing with disrupted emotional faculties was already a royal pain, but having his mental faculties tampered as well. He could almost feel anger again, almost… However, he needed the conversation to continue.

“You’ve obviously showed some fascination with me, More. Though apparently what I did to your kind was terribly heinous. Admittedly my personal charm and persuasiveness are enviable, but what is your interest in helping me.”

The queen reached for the picture frame that Sombra had set down earlier, and pulled her drink towards her as well. She took a long contemplative draft, then spoke softly.

“I’ve had to work alone for a long time. Maybe not as long as some of you ancients, but that is not the way of my kind. Royal changelings have always done better in pairs. The most important thing left to me is this shard of the well of memories. My husband’s most important discovery, and my most treasured relic. If I may be so vain, I see much of Ambition in you, Sombra.”

More sipped another thoughtful draft, and lovingly rested a hoof on top of the green orb.

“It’s all I have left of him, and it’s how I discovered you. Now, about this shard, it’s obvious Sly tried to destroy it, or at the very least bury it where she thought it would never be found. And I can see why. You, Sombra, are the traceable reason why Sly declared our doctrine of Secrecy. Why changelings evaporated from the history of all other thinking species.”

Sombra’s brow furrowed as he tried to comprehend the scope of meaning, though More didn’t slow down at all.

“It was not the sorry-sobby reason she declares in the primary well. Nightmare Moon was simply a symptom, but you, you are the root.”

“So is there a point to you bringing your little toy forward? Or are you just going to talk about it?”

“I was just giving context, I thought you wanted the full-featured story.”

“I do, but I feel I’ll learn better if you have something to actually show.”

“Very well, you impatient stallion.”

Though More spoke with some irritation, she wore an amused smile. Her hoof rotated around the spherical object, and it’s swirling gaseous form twisted and twirled, then began to solidify into a face. As the magic worked its way into a more comprehensive state, Sombra finished the last of his drink.

“How did you get a hold of heart-nectar by the way, I was under the impression it was incredibly rare. Several of my safe caches are missing it as well.”

“Oh that? Heh, just one more thing I miss about Ambition.”

“Too bad he’s dead, sounds like he was a useful bug.”

“Psh, poor more salt in the wound please.”

“Gladly, just tell me where.”

“You know, I’m really going to enjoy reviewing this. For all your degrading remarks about my kind, you really showed yourself to be quite the bug-lover. In all the glorious, explicit detail Sly so passionately recorded.”

“...”

“I thought so.”

“Stalker.”

“Says the shadow.”

“Says the voyeurist”

“Oh wow, I don’t think the papers have called me that one yet.”

“Apparently they don’t know you well enough. Besides, in my time I outlawed speech I didn’t agree with.”

More suddenly busted a lung as she laughed explosively. Her fit of humor continued for a while, with relentless vigor. Sombra himself began to chuckle slightly, if only because of the changeling queen’s reaction. By the time More was basically in tears, the stallion relented a little.

“I don’t quite get it. Do you not ban or punish slanderous reports?”

“Oh Celestia no, especially because of Celestia. Well… not publicly atleast. We changelings have other methods of controlling public favor.”

“I’m sure. But hey, it looks like your little toy is ready.”

Sure enough, the orb had expanded, and was no longer green, but showed a scene from a different time and place. The well shard was ready to use.

“Oh yes Sombra, my little toy is ready to play with. Would you like to touch it first?”

“FOR HADES SAKE! Just get on with it.”

Author's Note:

I am! I am! next chapter is going to be called "The Spirit of Chaos and Disharmony"

and quite frankly... I need a distraction from my distractions :twistnerd:

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