• Published 29th Oct 2015
  • 2,141 Views, 82 Comments

Crystal Heart Solid: The Twin Crysis - MagnetBolt

What if: Instead of replacing Princess Cadance on her wedding day, Chrysalis goes after Shining Armor another way - by infiltrating the Royal Guard!

  • ...

Chapter One - Sneaking Mission

The changeling hive was, for lack of a better word, buzzing with activity. It was an ancient structure, hundreds of years old, and formerly the capital of some fallen empire that had succumbed to the infighting and paranoia that overcame a society after a swarm of changelings had fed on the love of its citizens.

Drained of love for the people, the leaders became tyrants. Drained of love for their husbands and wives, couples broke apart. Drained of love for their country, nopony cared enough to try and fix things when they started to fall apart.

It was enough to make a young lady dream of being somewhere else. Somewhere where everything was perfect, just the way she’d dreamed since she was small.

“Chrysalis! Pay attention!” Queen Morpha knocked the textbook out of Chrysalis’ magical grasp, the young changeling princess unable to save it before it fell to the ground, the magazine she had actually been reading sliding out of its hiding space.

Chrysalis’ eyes went wide with fear as Morpha picked up the magazine, looking at it with critical eyes.

“Fifty ways to surprise your mate,” Morpha started, reading from the cover. “Twelve illegal sex acts and how to avoid getting caught. The best and worst dressed on the streets of Canterlot.”

She threw the magazine back at Chrysalis, the younger changeling flinching as it hit her horn and slid to the ground, Chrysalis too embarrassed to even try picking it back up.

“Idiot,” Morpha huffed. “That drivel will never help you infiltrate the ponies successfully. Most of them don’t even wear clothing, and I’m quite sure they don’t discuss any of those… other things in public. You’d be seen as a pervert.” She stopped and narrowed her eyes. “More of a pervert than you already are.”

“I‘m not a pervert,” Chrysalis muttered, looking down at her hooves and the crumpled magazine. It had taken ages to get one that wasn’t in awful condition.

“What are the three most important rules of infiltration?” Morpha snapped, grabbing Chrysalis’ chin with her magic and making her look away from the magazine.

“Never reveal your true form,” Chrysalis recited from memory. “Never endanger the hive. Always take more than you give.”

“At least you learned something,” Morpha sighed. “Now, let’s discuss your mission. This is going to be your first real test as an infiltrator, Chrysalis. All you need to do is maintain a low profile and learn about ponies. If you’re lucky, you’ll manage to make some useful contacts - even a friend or two can sustain the average changeling indefinitely as long as you’re conservative in your use of magic.”

Chrysalis nodded, keeping her eyes on her mother.

“Have you decided which city you’ll be infiltrating?” Morpha asked.

“Canterlot,” Chrysalis said.

“That’s a bold choice. Why?” She said bold, but her tone made it sound a lot more like stupid.

“It’s full of important ponies. Fashion designers, composers, the nobility…” Chrysalis sighed, smiling and thinking about how she’d obviously fit in perfectly.

“And the home of the only pony alive who has ever defeated me in combat,” Morpha frowned, her crippled wings buzzing raggedly.

“Princess Celestia knows changelings exist. It’s entirely possible that others share that knowledge.”

“I’ll stay away from her,” Chrysalis said dismissively. How hard could it be? She was a giant white pony almost the size of the Queen.

“If you don’t, she will kill you,” Morpha retorted. “And worse than that, I’d have to pull back some of my own plans. It could cost me years of hard work! Decades! If you got caught, I’d kill you even if she doesn’t.”

“I’ll act like my life depends on it.” Chrysalis’ voice dripped with sarcasm.

“Good. Remember you said that.” Morpha stalked to the far side of the chamber, collapsing onto a throne in the way only an exasperated elder could manage. “Get out of here, and don’t come back until you’ve done something worthwhile for the hive. Prove you’re worthy of the time and energy I spent to make you.”

“Prove I’m worthy,” Chrysalis huffed. “As if.” She rummaged through the piles of junk in her room. Some of the many benefits of being a royal - private rooms and access to the finest stolen trash and treasures from Equestria.

Chrysalis found what she was looking for. Saddlebags. She started packing the essentials for her long journey.

“Mother’s plan is so useless,” she said, talking to herself. She looked up at the cracked mirror in the corner, running a hoof through her patchy mane. “Maybe if I was some average drone, a scouting mission would be sufficient. She has her aim set so low! A few contacts? Get in and get out without being noticed?”

Chrysalis scoffed and stuffed a half-dozen cans of pickled jalapenos in her bag.

“My own plan is so much better.” She grabbed a scroll from her dresser and unrolled it.

“Step one, infiltrate Canterlot. Anyone could do that.” Chrysalis turned, trying out a few disguises. Most of them were just nondescript ponies, with nothing special about them. Suitable for fading into the background where even the most careful eyes would overlook her.

“Step two, use my natural beauty and charm to rise to the top of the social scene.” She looked at herself in the mirror again, smirking, and assumed a slender, graceful form, the very picture of beauty. She’d mostly copied an up and coming model named Fleur, though with a few changes to the color scheme. Chrysalis couldn’t stand pink. “That should take a week at most.”

“Step three, meet the stallion of my dreams and marry him, just like in all my stories~” Chrysalis sighed happily and packed one bag entirely full of romance novels, all of them dog-eared and worn from being read over and over again. She giggled to herself, picking up a stuffed white stallion in felt armor.

“It’s going to be so perfect! He’ll love me for who I am, and we’ll get married and have a honeymoon and we’ll even have time for that thing with an eggplant and jelly-”

She danced with the stuffed stallion and spun, turning to see another changeling standing in her doorway. Chrysalis froze in place. She was lucky chitin couldn’t turn white from terror.

“How much did you see?” She asked, her voice barely coming out as an uneven whisper.

“I didn’t see you playing with your doll again, Princess Chrysalis,” the changeling said, very carefully not looking at her.

“T-that’s good.” She shoved the doll in her pack. “What do you want?”

“I’m here to escort you to the hive exit,” he said.

“Does Mother think I’ll manage to get lost in my own hive?” She rolled her eyes.

“She also asked me to give you a map, some Equestrian currency, and to remind you not to get caught.” He hesitated. “Queen Morpha further implied I should hit you several times and call you an idiot to ensure you didn’t forget.”

“Can we pretend you did and skip that?” Chrysalis asked.

“Yes, please, ma’am,” the changeling said. He levitated over a small bag of bits and a rolled-up map. It was a rough depiction of Equestria, less for navigation and more to give the general lay of the land.

“Excellent.” Chrysalis’ hoof traced a path from the Badlands all the way to Canterlot. It would be a simple journey, and then she could begin her hunt.

“Why is this so haaaaaard?” Chrysalis complained, as she collapsed into the grass on the side of the road. It was a bright, sunny day. The birds were chirping. The sky was blue. She’d even managed to land near wildflowers.

“Stupid ponies and their stupid, weak bodies,” she mumbled. Her hooves were sore, and her legs felt heavy. “How can they even stand to walk around with completely solid legs? It’s unnatural!”

She sighed, lounging on the soft grass. At least that was something ponies were good at. Sitting around. They were soft and cuddly and she could just imagine some kind stallion finding her, and taking her in, and caring for her and falling in love.

Chrysalis giggled and rolled over.

“I wonder what having a job is like. I’ll probably have to get something inconspicuous until I’m rich and famous.” She looked at the clouds overhead. They were puffy and soft-looking, not like the scraggly, thin clouds of the Badlands. “Maybe I could make slime. Everyone needs slime.”

“As I’ve explained before, we don’t have any openings for a… slime… enthusiast,” the stallion said. He looked at Chrysalis like she was something unpleasant. She checked her disguise in the mirror behind the desk to make sure she hadn’t gotten something wrong. Tall, slender unicorn mare. Teal mane. She smiled. No fangs. She’d had to practice for weeks to make sure she remembered to get that right.

“But I need a job!” Chrysalis exclaimed.

“I’m sure you do. How about we go over a few things and we see if you have some relevant skills?” The stallion offered. “Your resume is… questionable at best, but sometimes an interview tells more than words on paper.”

“Right, sure.” Chrysalis considered using magic to charm him. It would certainly work, but she didn’t have a supply of love yet, and if he didn’t want her, she’d have to spend far more love maintaining the charm than a few casual friendships could replenish.

“First, why do you want to work here at Hayburger Princess?”

Chrysalis considered the question. She’d heard that honesty was important in an interview. She just have to make sure she didn’t reveal anything about the hive, and maintain her cover as a normal, average pony. Who was also beautiful and perfect in every way.

“I want to work here so I can gain currency in exchange for my services.” Chrysalis smiled. She’d definitely nailed that! His expression was still a tight frown. Had she done something wrong? Had her answer been too perfect?

“...Okay. What’s your greatest strength?”

“My cunning, adaptability, and mastery of deception!”

“I’ll just write down ‘customer service’.” He checked a box on the form in front of him. “And what’s your greatest weakness?”


“I thought ponies were supposed to fall all over themselves and accept apologies for anything as long as you pretend you mean it.” Chrysalis sniffled. She had to admit she’d overreacted a little, but the fire had been contained very quickly, and it wasn’t her fault that she’d somewhat misunderstood the question. She’d retreated to one of the many parks to get away from the press of ponies around her. She needed a few moments alone to compose herself. It was the first time she’d really felt like she’d failed.

“Hey there,” somepony said, as they sat next to Chrysalis. “Are you okay?”

“I’m just having a bad day,” Chrysalis mumbled. She didn’t have the energy to turn and look at her. What was the point?

“I can tell. I haven’t seen you around here before. Are you new in town?”

“Canterlot isn’t as nice as I’d heard,” Chrysalis said, looking at her hooves. She wasn’t sure why this pony was bothering with her.

“It’s definitely different,” the mare agreed. “I had to move because of, well…” she trailed off, as if unwilling to continue the sentence, or as if Chrysalis should have been able to figure it out on her own.

“I really messed up a job interview,” Chrysalis admitted. It felt good to just say it. With no other changelings around, she could talk more freely. “I don’t think it could have gone much worse.”

“You’re really upset, I think.” The voice sounded oddly unsure. “You can’t have messed up that badly.”

“You have no idea-” Chrysalis looked up. The pony in front of her had wings. And a horn. And wings! And a horn! She promised her mother she wouldn’t get caught, and now she was in front of Princess Celestia, and she was-

She was much shorter than Chrysalis had expected. And pinker. She hated pink.

“Please, you don’t have to bow,” the alicorn said, sounding sheepish. Chrysalis was confused for a moment. She wasn’t bowing. She was cowering. Tactically. The foolish Princess clearly couldn’t tell the difference between a changel- a pony showing deference and a predator ready to strike.

“Right. Yes. Bowing.” Chrysalis said, avoiding her gaze and straightening up. To her surprise she found that she was actually taller than the princess, even in this disguise. Clearly, it was a sign that changelings were the superior race, as tallness had always been the primary determinator of power and the right to rule.

“Do you want to talk about what happened? A beautiful mare like you shouldn’t be crying in the park.” The princess gave her a warm smile. Chrysalis swallowed back her fear. She had to maintain control of this situation.

“It’s nothing. I just… don’t interview well,” Chrysalis said. “I got nervous and started to panic.” That, at least, was true.

“Most ponies don’t handle pressure very well,” the princess said. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of. I’m still learning to deal with this whole… princess thing. I mean, just a few years ago I was just an orphan, and now ponies are bowing and expecting me to be some kind of great leader…”

She sighed. Chrysalis tilted her head, confused.

“A few years ago? But I thought you’d ruled Equestria since before written history and…” She trailed off as the pink alicorn’s eyebrow rose. Chrysalis felt herself starting to sweat again. Clearly she’d missed something very important in her training. “...and… you’re… not Celestia?” She ventured.

The pink alicorn started laughing. Chrysalis had never been more embarrassed in her life.

“That’s- you really thought-” the alicorn snickered. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t laugh. I guess I’m just so used to everypony knowing who I am. It’s actually kind of refreshing to meet somepony who doesn’t know.” She held out a hoof. “I’m Cadance. What’s your name?”

“Chrysalis,” she said, and immediately regretted it. She’d given her real name! To an alicorn! She was going to be thrown into a dungeon, and not the nice dungeons like they had at the hive, but the really awful ones where the guards would come by every day and remind her that she was a disappointment to her mother and her people! There probably wouldn’t even be any slime.

“That’s a nice name,” Cadance said. She shook Chrysalis’ hoof. “You know, if you’re having problems finding a job, I could probably help you…”

“N-no!” Chrysalis said. “I mean… I need to do it on my own.” The less the alicorn was involved with her, the better.

“I know the feeling,” Cadance smiled, shifting closer to the disguised changeling. “It just isn’t as fulfilling when things are given to you. Earning them feels better.”

“S-so what is a Princess doing in a park?” Chrysalis asked, falling back on her training. Ponies loved to talk about themselves. All she had to do was make sure she kept Cadance talking about herself and she’d be able to escape without raising more suspicion.

“Foalsitting,” Cadance explained. She gestured to where a group of smaller, weaker ponies were engaging in combat against one another. Or perhaps they were playing. Chrysalis wasn’t entirely clear on when ponies started their combat training. Changelings learned to defend themselves almost from birth, but ponies were softer. Much softer. Almost as soft as the Princess who was increasingly getting closer and closer.

“Foalsitting…” Chrysalis considered. “So you’re… taking care of one of those?” She looked at the ponies, trying to figure out which was important enough to have a Princess watch over her. Surely it would be the biggest and strongest. Being big and strong meant you were important enough to be regularly fed.

“Mmhmm…” Cadance said. She pointed off to the side, where a filly was sitting in the sandbox, her snout buried in a book.

“Her?” Chrysalis tilted her head. She didn’t seem like anything special. If anything, she looked scrawnier and weaker than the others.

“Her name’s Twilight Sparkle. She’s a very bright little filly. I’ve been trying to drag her out of her shell, but…” Cadance shrugged. Chrysalis felt a pink wing brush against her back. These ponies clearly had no sense of personal space. She stayed perfectly still, just in case it was some kind of challenge.

“But what?” Chrysalis asked.

“She’s almost as hard to read as you are,” Cadance laughed. “She bottles everything up inside and she’s really shy. But you know, I can’t read you at all, and I’m usually pretty good with it. It really makes you… mysterious. And interesting.”

Chrysalis felt a bead of sweat work its way down her face.

“This may seem really sudden, but maybe we could get something to eat later-”

“Cady! Twily!” A new voice broke the awkward tension. Chrysalis turned to look and found herself face-to-face with the most handsome stallion she’d ever seen in her life.

The snow-white pony was almost the same shade she’d chosen for herself, even their mane colors were nearly identical. He was muscular, and tall, and had the most wonderful smile, and she could just feel her heart melt. This was the one! She had found the perfect stallion to become her husband and love her forever.

“You’re drooling a little,” Cadance whispered. Chrysalis wiped her mouth.

“Probably because of these corn dogs!” The stallion said, holding out a half-dozen batter covered… things. “Do you want one, Cady?”

“Um… n-no thanks,” Cadance said, her smile falling a little.

“I’ll take one!” Chrysalis said. Sharing food with a pony was one of the fastest ways to get them to love you. Or at least that was the rumor.

“Well sure!” He hovered one over to her. She grabbed it with her own magic and sniffed at it. It smelled like corn.

“Thanks,” Chrysalis said, smiling up at him.

“Who’s your friend, Cady?” He asked.

“Oh, this is Chrysalis. She’s new in town.” Cadance said, almost dismissively. “Chrysalis, this is Shining Armor. He’s Twilight’s big brother.”

“I’m charmed,” Chrysalis said, fluttering her eyelashes. And if she could just get a few moments alone with him, he might be just as charmed with a little magical persuasion.

“I’m gonna see if Twilight wants a corndog!” Shining replied, trotting off obliviously. Chrysalis felt her eye twitch. Her charms hadn’t worked at all. He was clearly made of sterner stuff.

Cadance waited for him to go before speaking up again. “I wouldn’t get your hopes up.”

Chrysalis slid her gaze over to the alicorn, her smile tight. “Oh?”

“He won’t pay attention to you unless you’re covered in batter and deep-fried.” Cadance sighed. “Trust me. I know.”

Chrysalis snorted and bit into the corn dog. Her teeth slid through the breading and into something solid. She frowned and pulled back, looking at the food.

“...This is just a corn cob with breading on it.”

“Are you sure? I don’t want to impose…” Chrysalis said.

“The least I can do for a new friend is take her out for a meal,” Cadance said, smiling a little too broadly. Chrysalis was uncomfortably reminded of a predator.

“But this is supposed to be a special meal!” Twilight protested. “For my BBBFF and the best foalsitter ever!”

“BBBFF…?” Chrysalis tilted her head.

“Big Brother Best Friend Forever!” Twilight explained, huffing as if it was obvious.

“I’m joining the Guard!” Shining Armor put in. He had eventually been convinced, after both Twilight and Cadance ganged up on him, that corn dogs from a street vendor weren’t what they had in mind as a going-away dinner.

“The Royal Guard...” Chrysalis muttered, considering. It made sense. He was a big, handsome stallion. He’d look just wonderful in armor. Or out of armor. On her bed. She started drooling again until she realized Twilight was staring at her. The filly’s eyes were narrowed in annoyance, her ears back.

“I don’t wanna eat with her. She’s strange,” Twilight pouted.

“No I’m not,” Chrysalis said, huffing. Her disguise was perfect. She’d checked several times.

“You act strange,” Twilight continued, the foal narrowing her eyes at the disguised changeling. “I don’t think you’re really a pony.”

“That’s so silly,” Cadance laughed. “Twilight, of course she’s a pony.”

“Nuh-uh! Ponies don’t act like her!” Twilight stomped her hoof.

“And foals don’t read books on Quantum Magnetothaumatics,” Chrysalis countered, glancing at the titles of the books Twilight was reading. “Maybe you’re the one who isn’t a pony.”

“No way! I’m a pony!” Twilight protested.

“I don’t know, she’s got a point…” Cadance considered.

“Cadance, you know I’m a pony!” Twilight yelled, face turning red.

“Can you prove it?” Chrysalis asked.

“Prove it?” Twilight put a hoof to her chin, thinking. “W-well, we could go to a doctor and have him sign a paper that says I’m a pony. Then it’d be official because doctors are always right.”

“Unless you used your reptilian shapeshifter mind control powers on him,” Cadance said, with a teasing grin.

“Reptilian shapeshifters?” Chrysalis asked, suddenly nervous again.

“Uh-huh! Just like in Daring Do and the Republican Party Nomination!” Twilight said, hopping in excitement. “They’re big snake lizards that live underground and tried to take over Equestria using mind control and paying ponies off with secret reptilian gold!”

“Is that so?” Chrysalis laughed a little.

“It’s okay, though,” Twilight said. “Daring Do stopped them using magical orgone bombs from the lost Cattleantis city of Moo.”

“It’s Twily’s favorite book series,” Shining Armor added. “Or at least her favorite book series where I can pronounce all the words.”

“Almost all the words,” Twilight corrected. “You got Azuhotl’s name wrong. But they’re still my favorite, because you and Cadance read them to me.”

“I’m just glad I can get you to read something that doesn’t have math in it,” Cadence said. “I’ll make you a deal, Twilight. If you let our new friend eat with us, I’ll take you to the Canterlot History Museum next Tuesday.”

Twilight considered the offer carefully. “Even if I wanna stay and listen to one of the lectures?”

“Even if you want to stay late to ask questions,” Cadance confirmed.

“Okay,” Twilight said. “But I’m watching you, strange lady. You’d better not try to use MSG to turn us all into slaves!”

“...I promise I won’t?” Chrysalis said, unsure of what the proper response was. Or what MSG was. Probably some sort of pony enchantment spell. It seemed to satisfy the filly, though, and she nodded severely and trotted off after her brother towards the restaurant.

“She’s still learning how to talk to other ponies,” Cadance said, lingering behind with Chrysalis. “Twilight really is a nice little filly when you get to know her.”

“I’m sure,” Chrysalis said. She wasn’t really sure, but it seemed like the polite thing to say.

“Are you coming?!” Twilight yelled back. Cadance waved and pulled Chrysalis along with her. The changeling had a feeling that this was going to be a disaster.

A few glasses of wine and a plate of pasta later, and Chrysalis was feeling like maybe, just maybe, this wasn’t a disaster after all.

“You only packed pickled peppers?” Cadance asked, shocked.

“They’re my favorite food!” Chrysalis protested. “I didn’t think I’d get tired of eating them.” She stuck out her tongue. “But after a few days I started not liking them so much. They’re good as a treat, but only having sour, spicy food kind of gets to your stomach.” Changelings didn’t strictly need to eat, but having real food helped supplant their need for love.

“That’s not a balanced diet,” Twilight said, with the assurance that only a foal could manage. “You should have brought peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They have almost all the food groups.”

“They would have gone stale after a few days,” Chrysalis said. Not that peanut butter was something she’d have been able to get her hooves on. Her mother had a weakness for it, and any peanut butter in the hive was the property of the Queen by ancient law, violators punished in horrific ways involving fresh ginger and places where ginger shouldn’t go.

“If you’re having trouble finding a job, you could always join the Guard,” Shining Armor suggested.

“The Guard?” Chrysalis scoffed. “Why?”

“The Royal Guard protects Equestria!” Shining Armor said, happily.

Chrysalis waited for him to continue. He did not. “And?”

“And that’s why I’m joining,” Shining Armor said. “I want to protect everypony. There’s only so much I can do on my own, but as part of something bigger, the Princesses will send me where I need to go to do the most good. It’s not something I could do on my own, no matter how strong I am.”

“He’s really strong, too,” Twilight asserted. “I built a thaumameter and used it on him when he was sleeping and it said he had-”

“Twilight, what have I told you about experimenting on ponies while they’re asleep?” Cadance sighed.

“Don’t do it without permission…” Twilight mumbled.

“That’s right,” Cadance said. She looked at Chrysalis and smiled. “Twilight’s sometimes too clever for us to handle. Ever since she got the letter from Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns, she’s been studying about twenty-five hours a day.”

“She’s exaggerating,” Twilight corrected. “It’s only twenty hours of studying, then four hours of sleep. It’s not even possible to study for twenty-five hours a day.”

“Unless she asks Princess Celestia very nicely to delay sunset for an hour each day,” Chrysalis put in, unable to stop herself.

Twilight’s eyes went wide, her ears perking up at the completely brilliant and totally feasible idea, and she turned to Cadance.

“Twilight, you know it’s not a good idea,” Cadance said, shaking her head.

“But Cadanceee…” The filly managed to drag out the word in ways that even Chrysalis found impressive, the final sound managing to hit every note on the scale and convey total desperation and exasperation. “I need to make sure I’m ready for any question they ask me! What if they want me to create a Hipponic Solid, or isolate a monad?!”

“There’s such a thing as being over-prepared, too,” Cadance said. “You don’t want to fall asleep in the middle of the test.”

Chrysalis snorted. “Studying isn’t important.”

Twilight looked at her with horror. “I knew she wasn’t really a pony! She’s some kind of demon from Tartarus!”

“Studying isn’t important because you can fake it,” Chrysalis continued. “You just have to be confident. If you aren’t confident, it doesn’t matter if your facts are right, because no one will believe you.”

“B-but… I have math! And diagrams!” Twilight reached for her saddlebags.

“So? You don’t sound sure of yourself. If you’re not even sure about your own facts, why should I take them seriously?” Chrysalis raised her eyebrow.

“Actually, that’s a good lesson,” Shining Armor agreed. “It was something my hoofball coach always said - a leader has to be able to make a decision, even if it’s the wrong one. Doing nothing is almost always wrong, and making ponies feel like you know what you’re doing is key.”

Chrysalis smiled and nodded. “Exactly!” She leaned towards him, her casual lounge almost reaching across the table thanks to her lanky frame. “It’s what a big, strong, handsome stallion should be good at~”

“Celestia sort of said that too,” Cadance agreed, pulling Chrysalis back before she could make Twilight even more uncomfortable. “But it’s better to know what you’re talking about.”

“And I know the Guard,” Shining Armor said. “I might not study like my little Twily here, but I’ve been preparing myself for this my whole life. I’ve read books, done battle simulations-”

“Ogres and Oubliettes isn’t a tactical simulation, no matter how much you say it is,” Cadance teased.

“The point is,” Shining Armor said, trying to maintain composure despite the pink tinge to his cheeks. “I’m going into the Guard because it’s what I’ve always wanted. Just like how Twily is going to end up a bookworm at school.”

“I’m a pony, not a worm,” Twilight mumbled.

“If you don’t have anywhere to go, you could join the guard,” Shining Armor suggested. “The big recruiting drive is tomorrow.”

“It’s not something to just decide on a whim,” Cadance cautioned. “It’s not the kind of thing where you can, um, fake it until you make it. It’s hard work, it can be dangerous, and it’s a big commitment.”

“And you would have to pass the tests to get in,” Shining Armor added.

“You wouldn’t make it,” Twilight said, sounding sure. “Shiny worked for a long time to get ready, and he’s the best big brother. You’d have to work twice as hard. And I’m not sure if they’d take a strange pony like you.”

“I could pass if I wanted to,” Chrysalis huffed. Anything these ponies did, she could do better.

“Don’t let them pressure you into anything,” Cadance sighed. “If you really need a job, I’d be happy to help. You seem like a really good mare.” Even if she couldn’t tell what Chrysalis was feeling, she’d gone most of her life without that kind of cheating, and she could read ponies well.

Not that Chrysalis was a pony. Or good, for that matter. But even Cadance wasn’t perfect.

“Join the Royal Guard,’ Chrysalis snorted, as she paced in the park. “What a stupid idea.” She’d been walking around the fountain for what felt like hours. She had a room waiting for her in a seedy little motel, but she needed space and air, two luxuries she’d never gotten in the hive. Being alone with her own thoughts was liberating and confusing at the same time. No mother to tell her that her ideas were stupid. No drones constantly after her help and approval. Just her, and her decisions.

“I mean, it would put me in a position to get intelligence and influence from within,” Chrysalis said, to nopony. “I would be able to get access to classified documents, move freely, act with authority that I couldn’t otherwise have.”

She stopped, looking at her reflection. Her perfect disguise.

“But on the other hoof…” She mumbled. “I’d have to keep up this act for years. Pretending to be a pony, surrounded by ponies who are all trained and experienced at rooting out threats to Equestria. It would be absurdly dangerous.”

She snorted, looking away, turning to a statue of Celestia.

“It would be the kind of deception worthy of a Queen! Or a fool.” She shook her head. “Mother would tell me I was an idiot for considering it. The risk is so great… and the reward…” She blushed as she thought of Shining Armor, letting out a raspy purr. “I could make him mine, stay close to him and make him love me~”

Chrysalis leaned against the statue, looking up at the night sky.

“It should be an easy decision to make, but he’s just so perfect~” She giggled. “How am I supposed to decide?”

Something caught her eye, a glint on the cobblestones. A single bit, left lying on the ground and forgotten. She grabbed it in her magic, holding it up in front of her eyes and letting it rotate.

“I’ve done plenty of foolish things today. What’s one more?” She spun the bit faster and faster until it was a blur. “I’m gambling either way, aren’t I? So heads, I go and join the Guard. Tails, I play it safe and…” she shrugged. “I don’t know. Come back in a few years with an army and take him by force? That’s what Mother would want.”

She flipped the coin into the air, and the rest was fate.

Author's Note:

I don't have nearly enough unfinished stories, so I'm starting another one.

More seriously, this is what's been keeping me busy for the last few weeks. It's been fun to write, and I wanted to be almost done with it before I started posting anything.

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