• Published 14th Apr 2018
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A Time to Think - The Sonic Mage



Mercy isn't just about sparing others. It's about helping them to their feet, and keeping them steady as they travel forward.

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Chapter 9: Of Mind and Body

There was no doubt about it, the pony soldiers under Pharynx’s care were terrified, as the Changeling General began his individual chew-outs. However, while there was fear in the courtyard, there was anything but that coming from a high up balcony.
>~~~~~~<

Thorax was hysterical. He was doubling over in laughter, tears in his eyes, almost falling out of his chair. Chrysalis on the other hoof, was stunned, her mouth agape. Never in her life had she seen, or heard for that matter, such a thing. A large part of her somewhere felt like she should be afraid, terrified even, like the trainees down below. And yet, for some reason, she felt…amused. She found the whole ordeal…somewhat funny. It wasn’t out of some kind of fetish for the misery of others (She knew too well what that felt like). It was the kind of amusement that came from watching a stand-up comedy routine. There were several times where she had snorted, chuckled or let out a laugh outright, covering her mouth with a hoof in shock at herself. Part of her felt bad, and another part felt good. ‘Why!?’ Chrysalis mentally questioned herself, as she became aware of the sound of Thorax’s laughter again.

The king took a few breaths. While he wasn’t completely laughed out, he had calmed to the point he could form a coherent sentence. He invoked the hive-mind and telepathically contacted his brother. “How-*snort* H-How long were you holding that in for?” Thorax said, verbally expressing his question.

Since the day you made stop, bro’ Pharynx mentally responded, without a word leaving his mouth.

“I have to commend you on your patience.”

“Um…” Chrysalis got Thorax’s attention.

“Yes, Chrysalis?”

“P-Pardon me asking, but why did you find that whole thing funny? I mean, was it not somewhat cruel?”

Thorax collected himself so that he could give a proper answer. “Well yes, it is, but a lot of that was exaggerated for the purpose of scaring them a bit.”

“I get that, but why is it funny?” She needed the answer partly for herself.

“Well, part of it is because it’s so over-the-top. Another part is that it’s so absurd. But it’s mostly because I know the reason it’s so absurd and over-the-top.”

Chrysalis tilted her head, slightly confused, “And that reason is?”

Thorax chuckled a bit, “Pretty much everything he just said…” he paused for a moment, “he made up right then and there.”

There was a long pause as Chrysalis had to process the explanation. “What?”

“Yeah.” Thorax said. “I mean, he memorizes the rules and regulations. But how he presents them, and everything in-between is entirely made up on the spot. By his own admission. In fact we’ve made it into a kind of game to try and keep a straight face all the way through one of his ‘orientation speeches’”.

After another few seconds of silence, something came up Chrysalis’ throat. It wasn’t anything sick. It was a sound. It was…a chuckle. Then that chuckling turned into a small laugh. And then, it became a full fit of laughter. It wasn’t an evil, malicious laugh. It was genuine laughter. It was a good hearted fit. One that both she and Thorax shared in.

“*snort* H-How many breaths did he take that whole thing?” Chrysalis asked.

“I stopped counting after the ‘college dropout’ part, HAHAHA!” Thorax said through his giggles.

The two continued gleefully discussing Pharynx’s antics. And for a while, Chrysalis forgot about her past, her fear, everything that made her so quiet and distant.

“So just wondering,” Chrysalis began, “you stick around for the rest of orientations?” She looked out at the courtyard where Pharynx was still going through the process of interrogating individual troops.

“All the time, just in case he needs me.”
Thorax looked out to the same place. “I mean, it’s unlikely he will, but especially in this case I like to be sure.”

“You really have seen a lot of improvement ever since…” Chrysalis stopped. All of her painful memories were beginning to come back to her. The invasions, the wars, the misery.

However, they were interrupted by Thorax. “It’s far from perfect. And we still have our problems.”

“What do you mean? What kind of problems?”

Thorax rubbed the back of his neck, “Well it’s mainly because of me.”

“What?” Chrysalis was taken aback by the statement. “How can that be? You’ve been such a good leader as far as I can tell.” She was expecting the problems to be related to her time as ruler creating stigma and racism towards Changeling kind.

“Yes, but I’m not a good politician.” Thorax said. “I’m terrible at meetings. I’ve angered a few dignitaries, said the wrong things at the wrong times, and apparently according to a few I’m ‘too truthful’.” It was clear that Thorax found the last one somewhat ridiculous. “And in the case of me being a leader…I’ve made big mistakes. There are times where I don’t know what to do. And when I go to my brother and the people, they don’t know what I should do. So then I end up making a decision that could do great good or bad.” Memories were now flooding into Thorax’s mind. Embarrassing moments, small crises, and so on.

He took a deep breath collecting himself, “It’s times like those that I wish I had someling to help me rule.”

Chrysalis tilted her head in a bit of confusion. “You mean like a…?”

“N-Not like a Queen.” Thorax hurriedly responded.

“Well then, what do you mean?”

Thorax sighed, looking out into the distance. “What I mean is…a mentor. Someling to teach me and guide me. Someling who can help me grow as a leader. Like a...” Thorax didn’t continue. He just seemed to look down at the floor.

“Thorax?” Chrysalis broke Thorax from his thoughts. He shook his head and smiled.

“I’ve rambled on long enough about me.” He said kindly. “I think my brother can take care of himself from here. How about we get some lunch?”

As they left the balcony, Chrysalis could only wonder what Thorax was going to say earlier. At least they were going to have a meal which, despite her current state of mind, was never a necessarily bad experience.

>~~~~~~~~~<

If Chrysalis had known earlier that they were going to be having lunch in a public area in the Hive she would have ran to her room like there was no tomorrow, and locked the door as if a monster was on the other side. She felt terribly stressed. She was essentially in a room surrounded by witnesses to her failure as the leader of a kingdom and a provider to her people. With every passing second, Chrysalis fully expected for at least one of the Changelings in the mass dining hall to come up to her in a fit of rage, and berate her. Maybe even attack her. And yet such a thing never came to pass.

A new voice then broke her from her contemplation of the situation.

“Ah, Bonjour Monsieur Thorax!” Said their waitress with obvious enthusiasm, and a clear Prench accent.

Thorax waved a hoof in greeting. “Hello Tibia! It’s good to see you too.” It seemed clear that Thorax was more sociable and active in communicating with the Hive.

Tibia looked to the black Changeling and former queen who was also at the table. Chrysalis smiled nervously, waving a hoof as she shrank into her seat when Tibia laid eyes on her.

Their next sentence, however, was anything but degrading, “Oh, Madam Chrysalis! It is a pleasure to serve you in-pony.” There wasn’t a hint is fear or sarcasm in her sentence. She was genuinely happy.

‘So…much…kindness’ Chrysalis seemed to be getting surprised a lot recently. ‘Why?’ She also seemed to be asking herself a lot of questions that apparently had no answers.

“So what can I get you for today?” Tibia asked, pulling out a small notepad.

Thorax eyed the menu for a moment. “I think I’ll have the usual casserole.”

Tibia frowned a little, “Monsieur, you really should order some of the more substantial dishes I can provide.”

“It’s just lunch Tibia,” He said, “I don’t think I’d be able to eat anything for the rest of the day if I ordered your famous ‘Royal Flush’.”

“Still, I didn’t spend 4 years studying the culinary arts abroad in Prance, just so you could order a glorified salad.”

Thorax jokingly rolled his eyes, “Perhaps for a special occasion.”

Tibia sighed, “As you wish.” She then turned to Chrysalis. “Now, the real question is: what exotic dish can I get you Madam Chrysalis?”

A million bells went off in Chrysalis’ head. ‘It’s a trick!’ Her mind started shouting, ‘They’ll poison the meal! Get back to the room! At least there’s a chance to survive the trap that’s been laid there!’

The whole thing was laid out in her head. All she had to say was “excuse me for a moment”, and once out of site, run all the way back to her room. She looked at the menu, then to Tibia, and then to Thorax. She looked back at the menu. Chrysalis opened her mouth to speak, and…

“Um...Surprise me?” Chrysalis said, a bit unsure of her request.

“Oh, mon Dieu!” Tibia said. “Noling has asked me to do that in a long time!”

Uh-I mean-if it’s not too much trouble. S-Sorry for-”

“No, no Madam, it’s fine. You just caught me off guard, that’s all.” Tibia gave a small chuckle. “Now, as for your order…” Tibia leaned in close to Chrysalis, putting a hoof to her chin. She scrutinized her, tilted her head, giving a few “Hrm”s and “Hmm”s throughout the process. It made Chrysalis feel somewhat uncomfortable.

After a minute, Tibia shouted, “Eureka! I know just what to get you!” She scribbled something on her notepad. “Don’t worry, you’ll love it! In the meantime, I’ll have a bottle of Vintage Extract sent over to you and be back in a few minutes!” She then ran off with a spring in her step. In the distance she could be heard saying, “Sacrebleu, I am a genius!”

>~~~~~~~~~<

If one could hear the amount of internal screaming coming from Chrysalis’ mind, it would undoubtedly rattle their ear drums at a minimum. She was thinking one thing, and doing something completely different. It seemed that there was a disconnect between what Chrysalis’ mind-her subconscious, survival instincts, etc.- thought, and what her body actually did. So much so that she was now professing in the art of kicking herself. All the while, she kept asking herself, ‘Why?’‘Why am I not listening to myself? I hear what my mind is saying, but I do not act upon it. Why? Just…Why?!’

“Chrysalis?” Thorax spoke up, reeling her back into the real world. “You okay?”

Chrysalis shook her head, “I’m…fine!” She waved her hole-filled hoof, “Fit as a fiddle, really!”

Chrysalis then blinked. She looked at he hoof, which compelled Thorax to do the same. They then both thought about the analogy she made. They thought about the musical instrument referenced in the analogy. Then, back to Chrysalis’ hoof.

And they laughed a bit.

‘Really!?’ Her subconscious was speaking up again. ‘You, are about to be poisoned in a few minutes, and you're indulging in foalish humor?! What happens when they actually manage to kill you?!’

‘I told you, I deserve it!’ Chrysalis mentally shouted back. ‘This probably is just a progress report of sorts. A little assurance that they’ll be fine without me.’ She paused her internal monologue for a moment, ‘Before they send me off to that, quote unquote, Big Changeling Hive in the sky.’ She mentally stared her complaining subconscious down. ‘There are crimes I have committed, and I need to pay for them. I have accepted this. And so must you.’ Once again, the voice of her disagreeable self, faded. Chrysalis let out a heavy internal sigh, ‘Now all that’s left to do is wait…wait for the end to come.’

>~~~~~~~~~<

When Chrysalis said “Surprise me”, she wasn’t expecting to be completely stunned. The meal that lay before her looked incredible. It was a gourmet fish dinner cooked to the purity of perfection, including garnish, olive oil, and steamed and fried roasted vegetables. It was almost too beautiful to eat.

“Surprised?” Tibia asked with a prideful little grin.

Chrysalis was wide eyed. “V-Very” She said stuttering due to her amazement.

“I knew you would be.” Tibia scribbled another obscure note on her pad. “And here is the Extract.” she pulled a wine bottle from her saddle bag and placed it on the table. “For you Madam.”

Chrysalis’ surprise only increased, “For me?”

“Yes.” Tibia’s ears swerved in the direction of some voice that got her attention. “Excuse me, I must be going. Bon appetit!” And so she went on her way.

Chrysalis lifted the bottle over to her with what little magic the inhibitor around her neck allowed. It was an oddity to her. She couldn’t decide whether she thought it was poison or an actual drink. She could, however, think of one reliable source for answers.

“Um, what is Vintage Extract?” She asked Thorax, who was happily eating his casserole.

“Oh,” He said putting his silverware down, “that’s, uh, quite a long story.”

Chrysalis tilted her head a bit with a quizzical look. “Well, what is it?”

Thorax took a breath, “The proper name for it is ‘Love Extract’, actually.”

Chrysalis froze for a second, not quite understanding what she just heard. “I’m…sorry…What?”

“It’s more of a medical substance used for treatment than a beverage.”

Chrysalis brought the bottle back over, scrutinizing the label. She looked back to Thorax. “And what exactly is it used to treat?”

“A couple of things actually.” He said, fiddling with his food a little. “But, mostly it’s used on Changings suffering from malnutrition. This place also serves it to those who are on record as needing it.”

Chrysalis started to panic a little. “W-What’s that got to do with me?”

Thorax looked up from fiddling with his casserole. “Well, Doc’s been telling me that you don’t have enough Love in your system. I don’t want to have to send you to the emergency room, so I had them put you down as needing it.”

Chrysalis once again looked at the bottle. As she did so, two things crossed her mind. One: ‘This bottle is so lavish and fancy! How is any creature supposed to know this is medicine?’ And two: ‘He prescribed me medication. He put me on a treatment plan as to improve and maintain my health.’ At this point, death actually seemed rather appealing, if it meant that she wouldn’t have to deal with the excruciating headache she had right now.

“Chrysalis, you okay?” Thorax leaned towards her. He was worried that the lack of love in her system was starting to take hold.

“I…” Chrysalis massaged her temples. She removed the cork from the bottle and began to pour a glass. “I think I’ll start drinking this now.” She said. ‘It’s probably poisoned anyhow. It’s either this or the fish’ She thought to herself.

“Good to hear.” Thorax beamed at the fact that Chrysalis was actually going to “take her medicine”, as it were. He lifted up a glass of water. “A toast to the future, I guess?”

“Why not?” Chrysalis took up her own glass, now filled with extract. Their glasses clinked together. ‘Well, bottoms up. Hopefully it at least tastes go-’

Chrysalis’ thought process was interrupted by the sudden wave of flavor that ignited her senses. It was sweet, soothing. A stream that tantalized her taste buds. ‘Whoa…’ She felt warm, more awake. She only then realized how deprived of energy she was.

“Don’t go chugging the whole bottle now.” Thorax joked.

“Oh, sorry.”

Thorax shook his head, “It’s okay, there’s no need for apologies.” He took another bite out of his casserole. “Please, eat. Can’t let Tibia’s foreign studies go to waste.”

Chrysalis looked at the plate before her. She suddenly felt dubious. Sure, it looked pretty, gorgeous even. But she never really found any real need for physical sustenance. Changelings could eat, but they didn’t really get anything out of it. Then again, what did she know? She and a majority of her predecessors were the ones who thought the Changeling race couldn’t evolve to become a self sufficient people. Granted, that belief was founded in the fact that ponies had never been very kind to Changelings, and that only just changed recently, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that maybe physical food might actually be good for something.

‘Okay then,’ she cut a reasonable piece of the fish that had most of the seasoning, spices, and other things on it, and brought it to her mouth, ‘Hopefully I have taste buds that are good for somethi-’

Where as the Vintage Extract came in as a wave, which became a river that allowed one to enjoy its pleasures, the main course was an explosion. It’s flavor hit like sledgehammer, leaving behind a memorable after shock. One that demanded another bite be taken. Once again, she forgot about all her worries. Instead, Chrysalis had to put her all into creating a set of table manners and implementing them, rather then just stuffing the whole plate into her face. Of coarse, a few slightly larger than average bites wouldn’t hurt.

“Tibia has a funny way of knowing what ponies would love to eat.” Thorax said looking content having finished his meal.

“Mmmm!” Chrysalis was still getting through her own plate. “ She really does!” She covered her mouth when she realized that she was talking with food in her mouth, which was bad manners last time she checked. She was about to apologize.

“Ha, ha, it’s okay.” Thorax waved off her lack of proper table edict. “It happens to me all the time.” He kept doing that. Kept reassuring Chrysalis that everything was fine. Part of her believed him part of her didn’t. And another third was just purely conflicted. She was about to take thoughtful bite, when something caught her attention. A small squeak came from beside her seat. And when she saw what made the noise, she tensed up.

Right by her was a small, purple eyed Changeling nymph with a blue carapace. The child looked up at her with curiosity and wonder. Chrysalis was some what panicked by the nymph’s presence. Several thoughts ran through her head. ‘He’s probably terrified of me. He’ll run. Or worse, he’ll scream, and also run. And then everyling will think I did something wrong!’

The young nymph then took a few steps forward, ‘Oh my goodness! Okay, just stay calm don’t freak out. He’s just curious, it’s anything to worry about.’ The nymph then poked at one of the holes in her legs. ‘Aaaahhhhhh!’ Chrysalis was officially in internal panic mode

The nymph poked at the holes a few more times before looking up at her again. Chrysalis nervously cracked a smile, which was the last thing she wanted to do, since it would show her fangs. Unfortunately, her facial muscles were not obeying any commands. Rather than reeling back or yelping, or anything of that kind, however, the child did something Chrysalis didn’t expect in the slightest.

The nymph fluttered it’s wings, giggled and said, “Cheese legs!” in a playful squeaky voice. Chrysalis’ expression shifted. That was the last thing she expected to hear. She pulled her leg away from the nymph. But the child only pursued it. The sudden advance of the young nymph lean away somewhat fearfully. She fell on her back in the process.

She hit the ground with a small, but audible “Oof!” She groaned slightly before trying to right herself. However, when she lifted her head, her eyes went straight to her abdomen and saw something standing on top of her. ‘Oh, blast. Why?’ The young nymph was standing on her, beaming like a foal on Heart’s Warming. The small thing gave a laugh. Apparently, he was enjoying himself.

Thorax failed to suppress a chuckle. “Looks like you’ve got yourself a new fan there.”

Chrysalis kept her eyes on the nymph, who was leaning down low as if he were a cat. Some angry part of her managed to make her give a throated growl. To that part of her’s great dismay, however, that only made the child snuggle up closer. He also started purring, as he seemed to think that was intent of the sound she made.

Then, Chrysalis slowly and shakingly lifted a hoof. She felt like she was moving against something. The disconnect between thoughts and actions was noticeable again. She started growling again (though the child in question still thought they were purrs). With the gentlest touch she could muster...she stroked the top of the child’s head, petting him.

Then in the middle of doing this, the little pseudo-pony raised a tiny hoof to Chrysalis’ snout, and booped her.Right on the nose. ‘D-Did he just…?’ The young big-pony giggled and squealed in joy and amusement. The corners of Chrysalis’ mouth curled upward. She would be quite the liar if she said the kid wasn’t adorable.

“Artex? Artex?” A voice was calling a name that got the attention of the Changeling filly. The origin of the voice was a grown Changeling mare.
“Artex? Where are yo- *gasp* Artex!” The nymph was presumably “Artex”, meaning that the Changeling running towards her was his mother.

‘Wait…Mother!’ Chrysalis had officially lost count of the amount of times she had gone into a state of panic that day(As if she were keeping track in the first place). ‘Oh, she probably thinks I was doing something terrible!’ Artex hopped off her chest as she quickly stood up. She began sputtering words in her fright. “I-I-I’m sorry! I wasn’t doing anything wrong! I-”

“Artex!”, The mother scooped up her son, “What did I tell you about wandering off, and bothering other Changelings?”

Artex pouted a little. “Mooommy.” He said in his squeaky, somewhat upset voice.

“Ah, Ah,Ah! None of the sass.” Artex’s mother made her position very clear. “Now, what do you say?”

Artex looked down to the side, rubbing his front leg with his other, “Sorry, mommy.”

Artex’s mother let out a heavy breath. She then turned her attention to Chrysalis and Thorax. “I am so sorry for him bothering you.” She put her hoof on Chrysalis’, “I hope he wasn’t too much trouble.”

Thorax opened his mouth to speak, but something compelled Chrysalis to speak instead. “N-No, it’s fine…really. He wasn’t doing anything wrong.”

“You’re sure?”

“They didn’t cause any trouble, Mera.” Thorax reassured, addressing the parent by name.

“Well, okay then.” Mera looked at her son. She smiled, and lightly rubbed the top of his head. She turned back to Chrysalis, and shaked her hoof. “Thank you so much for handling him until I got here, mam.” Genuine gratitude and thankfulness emanated from her. Chrysalis confusion returned. The warm smiles, the compliments, the comfort. It all brought her back to the question she was asking herself earlier: ‘Why?’

‘Why do they show me such kindness? Why do they treat me as if I have done no real wrong? Why?’

“Uh…You’re very welcome.” Chrysalis stammered out. Mera smiles and nodded in response.

“Come now Artex! Time to go.” The two began walking away from the table. Artex turned around to face the tall black Changeling that facilitated him so much.

He smiled, and waved. “Bye, cheese legs!” He said, meaning no harm in the foalish name, before running off to catch up with his mother. Chrysalis only lifted her hoof a little to wave back. She was too consumed by her thoughts.

“Uh…” Thorax obtained Chrysalis’ attention. “Are you going to finish that?” He pointed to her plate which was three quarters of the way done. She took a good long look at it.

“I…I think I’ve had my fill.” She said quietly.

Thorax simply nodded. He paid for the meal, leaving a wholesum tip as well, and they made their way out.

>~~~~~~~~<

They had returned to her room. Chrysalis had said that she felt rather drained by the day’s events. While Thorax would have loved to show her around the new hive some more, he respected the wishes of his guest.

“Do you need anything before I go?” Thorax was still a little concerned. He wanted her to be as comfortable as possible.

“I think I’ll be good for now.” Chrysalis said.

“Well…” Thorax still felt unsure about his tenant’s state of health, though. “Okay. Just remember, tell me if you need anything, and I’ll get it taken care of.” He put a hoof on the former Queen’s shoulder when he said that.

“O-Of course.” Chrysalis stuttered, as she began to disappear into her room.

“Oh, and don’t forget to take that medicine when you need it!” Thorax called out.

“I will!” Chrysalis called back before closing the door. She let out a great breath. She was stressed, questioning herself. She let her head and neck slump as she walked over to her bed.

And so she laid there. Staring up at the ceiling, floating aimlessly in an endless sea of contemplation. She lay there on her bed, asking herself all the same questions. Both the old ones from when she first arrived her, and the new ones that arose today.

That and if the fish she ate today was or wasn’t poisoned.

>~~~~~~<

“So how do you think lunch went?” Pharynx and Thorax were once again at their desk, going over petitions, area reports, statical charts, and the occasional bill. Why they had bills to pay to themselves was beyond them, but they had to be folders and boxes like everything else.

“Personally, I think it went very well.” Thorax responded without looking up from the stack of papers he was analyzing. His response was supported by the happy expression on his face. “And let me just say, she absolutely loved your performance.”

The General’s eyes glanced up for a moment, “Glad to hear that I’ve still got it.” His gaze returned to his respective stack of annoyingly long, vague, and cryptically worded legal documents. He groaned and rolled his eyes as he viewed a certain letter.

“Thorax, where’s the spam folder?”

“You mean the trash bin?”

“Yes.”

“Here.”

“Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.”

The duo continued their end-of-the-day ritual that consisted of a level of organization that one would expect to see from Twilight Sparkle.

“So…” Pharynx spoke up, “You got an idea about what to do next?”

Thorax paused. He leaned back in his seat thinking. It was a legitimate question. ‘Maybe I could…?’

Thorax came up with yet another great idea. He hadn’t been able to go and see the hive gardens in a long time. It would be nice to do that again

‘Oh, it would be perfect!’ Thorax began thinking up the entire day plan in the back of his head. But there were other tasks that required his attention. And first-and-foremost…

“Pharynx, can I get the spam folder?”

Author's Note:

Shout out to Xanderfox for getting the reference I made in Chapter 5

Sorry this took so long.:twilightsheepish: It's quite the lengthy chapter. That and life and school got in the way.
Anyway, enjoy!

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