• Published 25th May 2018
  • 2,221 Views, 969 Comments

Little Consequences - Skijarama



Princess Rainbow Dash and her friends have found themselves in the newly restored Crystal Empire, and now struggle against the forces of Queen Chrysalis and the enigmatic King Sombra in an effort to reclaim Canterlot and save Equestria.

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Brother's Pride

The dungeons of the palace were a lot less dreary than Thorax had been expecting, all things considered. The neatly gridlike hallways made up of blue crystals were well lit with glowing gems embedded evenly along the walls. It almost looked inviting and it was all kept very clean and tidy. A far cry from what he recalled learning about the Canterlot dungeons when he was on infiltration duty with Stinger, Spiracle, and Pharynx.

Speaking of...

Pharynx would be in one of these cells, which too looked somewhat nice, if sparsely furnished and claustrophobic. There was usually a plain, basic cot sticking out of one of the walls, a hole in the floor in one corner to be used as a toilet, and a startling lack of bars or iron. Instead, there was a transparent wall of crystal that separated each cell from the hallway beyond. Thorax could see from the design that they would be lifted up into the ceiling, similarly to a portcullis when opened. The levers for each cell were presumably somewhere else in the dungeons to mitigate escape attempts.

Wind Whisper trotted along by his side, looking at everything with wide, inquisitive eyes. Her mouth hung open a little bit with each new and interesting thing she looked at, but she managed to refrain from asking about any of it. After all, she knew the gravity of the situation. She would make this clear by periodically looking up at Thorax with worried eyes and a frown on her muzzle.

Fluttershy was also looking around in awe at their surroundings, following closely behind him. Despite her clear appreciation for the design work of everything in this palace, she still looked more than a little pensive about their destination and their goal. Thorax could hardly blame her, really.

Eventually, they found it, and the one guard who had regained some of his memories looked up at them from beside Pharynx’s cell, his eyes narrowing dangerously at Thorax. But once he caught sight of Fluttershy and Wind, he recognized him as not being a threat and visibly relaxed. “I take it you’re here to talk to the prisoner?” he asked plainly, glancing over his shoulder, presumably at Pharynx.

“Uh-huh. Is he doing alright?” Thorax asked without hesitation, concern bleeding into his voice.

Fluttershy nodded along to Thorax’s question, also stepping forward. “How’s his leg?” she asked simply, glancing furtively at Wind with a somewhat anxious look.

The guard nodded in response to both questions and stepped aside. “Yes, he’s fine. His leg seems to be recovering quite nicely. I know because he tried to bust out a few times. The magic-suppression field in the cell is making that impossible, thankfully,” he explained plainly before glancing at the cell itself, frowning. “Although, there is one thing that’s bugging me…”

Thorax tilted his head. “What is it?”

“He hasn’t eaten anything, yet…”

“Oh, I’m sure he has…” Thorax replied with a slight bit of relief while stepping past the guard. “Just not anything you’ve fed him. Changelings don’t really need physical food the same way you do.”

The guard merely shrugged. “Meh. I’m just gonna pretend to know how that works and let you do your thing.”

Thorax didn’t listen to anything else the guard had to say, opting instead to canter up to the cell and look through the blue wall at his big brother. Pharynx sat perfectly still against the far wall, almost hidden in the shadows at the back. The only parts of him that was really clear were those two glowing purple eyes, glaring back at him. Thorax saw the intensity in that gaze and swallowed down the lump that had formed in his throat.

“What do you want, Thorax?” the older drone asked in a low growl, unmoving from his seated position. “To gloat? To brag? To rub it in my face that you beat me at something for a change?”

Thorax visibly wilted and slowly shook his head. “No, Pharynx… I came to make sure that you’re okay,” was his reply, his tone low and regretful. He saw Fluttershy and Wind moving to join him, but a sideways glance and shake of his head at them made them reconsider and back off.

Pharynx glanced down at his bandaged hind leg, then shot Thorax a questioning glare. “You put me in here, you know,” he spat out the words like bile.

“I didn’t want to,” Thorax countered earnestly, putting a hoof on the door. “I want you out of there more than anypony, but I can’t if you’re going to try to hurt any of us.”

Pharynx scoffed and slowly began to rise to his hooves, keeping the weight off of his wounded hind leg. “You’re really stupid, you know that?” he asked through grit teeth, limping forward and leaning against the screen. He huffed out a breath and glared sideways at his younger brood-mate. “Chrysalis is going to kill you when she finds you.”

Thorax’s ears drooped, and his face fell sorrowfully. “I know that… I’m sorry I can’t go back with you,” he mumbled out, his eyes screwing themselves shut.

“No, you’re not!” Pharynx suddenly snapped with a raised voice, slamming a hoof into the screen and sending a few ripples of light across the enchanted surface. Thorax jumped back in alarm from the loud sound and saw the agitated face of his brother glaring right back at him. “You’re not sorry you can’t go back! No, you’re sorry that you got caught leaving!

“Pharynx…”

“Do you have any idea how long I’ve known about how much you’ve hated your lot in life?! Huh?! I saw you hatch in the nursery hive, you know, I remember seeing the fear and confusion on your face even as all of the other hatchlings climbed over our Queen! I’ve seen your disgust and hatred for what we’ve done build up over the years, your discontent for your fellow Changeling, your guilt and sorrow every single time you were sent out to perform spy work in Canterlot before the invasion!” Pharynx punched the wall again, sending more ripples across it. “So don’t you dare try and sell to me that lie that you’re sorry for leaving your entire race behind!”

Thorax shied away from his brother’s rage, unable to at him in the face. “Pharynx, I… I just…” he stuttered out, not able to form a proper response.

Several seconds passed them by in a tense silence. Finally, Pharynx broke the silence with a heavy sigh and grunt.

“...Hmph. You know, in a weird sort of way… I’m proud of you.” he mused, his anger bleeding away to a more melancholy emotion. His words drew a questioning glance from Thorax. “You’ve been such a pushover your whole life, you know? So passive, so unwilling to fight or hurt… you were weak, but only because you didn’t want to fight. You didn’t have anything to fight for…” a small smirk appeared on his face, and the intensity in his eyes softened severely. “But then you start caring about something, a little filly that you barely even knew, and all of a sudden you changed… while before you were just a small gnat to be brushed aside, now you’re like a speeding train without brakes. Even I was powerless to do anything to stop you…”

Thorax swallowed heavily again while gingerly approaching the wall. “Well… It’s not like I never learned how to fight… you taught me everything I know. Like you said, I just never had a reason to use any of that knowledge…”

“That’s what I’m proud of,” Pharynx noted, a fond, reminiscing look spreading on his face. “After seeing you struggle with what you were for so long, to see you finally find something you thought was worth fighting for…” his smile fell away to be replaced by a look of regret. When he looked at Thorax again, there was a faint glistening in his eyes. “It made me so proud, to see so much conviction and resolve in you. Outside Canterlot, and in that alleyway… I just wish that it didn’t have to lead to me losing the only family I ever had…”

Wind Whisper, who had been standing off to one side with Fluttershy, chose that moment to inject herself into the conversation, despite Thorax’s earlier glance. She slowly stepped into Pharynx’s line of sight, eyeing him with a combination of fear and curiosity. He looked back at her with an unreadable look and narrowed his eyes. She flinched back from the look but stood her ground. She gulped heavily and began speaking. “You know…” she began hesitantly, coming to a stop by Thorax’s side. “You don’t have to lose him.”

Pharynx looked at Wind for several moments before scoffing and shaking his head. “If you brought the filly to try and guilt trip me, Thorax, it won’t work,” he snarked out through clenched teeth.

“Pharynx-” Thorax went to say something, but Wind cut him off.

“Thorax is your little brother, isn’t he?”

Pharynx glanced sideways at Wind with a scowl. “Yes. What of it, child?” he demanded with a cold grimace.

Wind pouted at the word ‘child,’ but otherwise didn’t react much. She stood up tall, cleared her throat, and then spoke up while trying to make her voice sound like Squall Dreamer. “It is the ultimate duty of the big brother to protect all of his little siblings. If the parents can't do it, then he must be the last line of defense.”

There were several seconds of silence before Wind pointed at Thorax, her eyes locking firmly onto Pharynx’s. “That’s what my big brother said, at least. So why aren’t you going to protect yours…? It’s your duty, isn’t it?”

Pharynx shook his head without hesitation. “No, it isn’t. A touching sentiment, but nothing more. My duty is to my queen, my fellow drone, and to the continued feeding and prosperity of the hive. That is my duty, and I swore an oath to it as soon as I grew from being a mere larva to a full drone.”

Thorax seemingly perked up a little bit at that. “Our oath… I remember it…” he mumbled before looking at Pharynx with a small glimmer of hope burning in his eyes. A similar spark lighting up in his heart, he shifted so he could look directly into his brother’s eyes. “The oath said to never fail your queen, right?”

“Right,” Pharynx muttered, lowering his gaze. “That was one part of it, anyway. Never fail the hive, never hinder the hive, follow the queen’s command without question, and work always to ensure the continued prosperity of the hive and your fellow changeling... Which means I have broken my vows already. I promised to report you if you proved unreliable, and I didn’t. I hindered my queen and, as punishment, I was sent to capture you and bring you back after you ran away. I failed to do so… my life is forfeit. You aren’t the only one who’s going to suffer for their mistakes when Her Majesty finds us.”

Thorax took a step forward, still hopeful. “Pharynx… both of our lives are forfeit, now. If you help me, help these ponies... If you stand by our side and fight back against Chrysalis, we might just both make it out the other side,” he pleaded, his ears perking up just slightly and a small smile appearing on his face. “Please… I don’t want to lose you either.”

“It’d be a waste of time…” Pharynx snorted, shaking his head in solemn resignation. “Deny it all you like, but the fact is that Queen Chrysalis is the most powerful creature alive right now. Nothing you or anything in this city can do will be enough to stop her. You’re finished. We are finished... it’s just a matter of time”

“So you’re just going to give up?” Fluttershy suddenly piped up, also stepping into Pharynx’s line of sight until she was right in front of the screen. “You’re going to give up on saving your little brother? A little brother, I might add, who loves you very much?

Pharynx, taken aback by the sudden appearance of Fluttershy, took a step back. He then snarled angrily in response to her tone of voice. “I don’t recall asking for your opinion, pony,” he growled bitterly while baring his fangs.

Fluttershy, remarkably, seemed unfazed by his remark, stepping forward and giving him her own, almost hostile glare. “Too bad. You listen to me right now, buster! This is your family we’re talking about!”

“Fluttershy, please,” Thorax tried to interject, but Fluttershy was having none of it.

“Thorax talked about you, you know,” she continued on, starting to pace in front of the door and never once taking her eyes off of the purple-eyed drone. “He told me how you taught him how to take care of himself, how to defend himself, and how you protected him when others tried to bully him for being different! You even admitted that you were proud of him for finding something to fight for!” she turned and pointed a hoof at Wind Whisper, pausing briefly in mid-stride to let the gesture sink in.

“Her! He’s protecting her! They aren’t even related! But I will tell you now, with Celestia as my witness, that hasn’t stopped him from giving all of himself to keeping her safe! The affection that I’ve seen him shower her in today alone is nothing short of what a good big brother would show to any of their little siblings!” she stopped mid-step and jabbed a hoof at Pharynx. “So what I want to know is why you’re choosing some evil queen that you’re clearly afraid of over your own little brother who is willing to risk his life for others out of the kindness in his heart?!”

When Fluttershy finished her tirade, her breath was noticeably heavier than it had been before. Whether or not it was due to exertion or emotion, however, nopony could tell. A stunned silence fell over everypony present. Seconds ticked by agonizingly slowly, with nopony else daring to move a muscle. Finally, Pharynx shifted to look Fluttershy squarely in the face, pressing his forehead against the wall. He grimaced and let out a heavy sigh. “...Listen to me, pony. I want to choose my brother, I do… but what difference will it make if I do? When Chrysalis finds us, it’s the end for both of us, no matter what side I’m on. I might as well go out with something of my dignity and pride left intact…”

“Pride?” Wind Whisper asked in disbelief, trotting up to the door and putting a hoof on it, drawing Pharynx’s attention. “...Didn’t you say you’re proud of him?

Pharynx blinked, looking at the tiny thestral with a blank look on his face. For several seconds, he mouthed like a fish, trying to form a proper response. When he finally looked away, giving up on a reply, Thorax chose that moment to add his own thoughts. “Pharynx… I know I probably can’t change your mind, but… for what it’s worth…” he stepped forward, gave Wind a gentle nudge to one side and rested his own forehead against the transparent wall right in front of Pharynx. “...When the time comes for me to face Chrysalis… I know that nothing would give me more pride than getting to face her with you at my side... as my big brother…”

There was silence after those words were whispered. With nothing else to say, Thorax turned and slowly began to trot back down the hall, and Wind Whisper fell into stride with him, glancing over her shoulder occasionally at the cell. Fluttershy lingered for a few moments, shooting a now conflicted looking Pharynx a far more gentle smile.

Pharynx looked at her, an empty look in his eyes. “Just… go away…” was all he said to her, his voice quiet and emotionless. Fluttershy looked down, her smile fading away, and cantered off to follow Thorax and Wind down the hall. As their hoof-falls fell out of earshot, and the guard re-took his position by the cell, Pharynx subtly refocused his eyes. They widened dramatically and his mouth watered profusely when he saw a thick haze of love in the air right outside his cell… from all of them.

To his great shock, most of it came from Wind Whisper and Fluttershy...

And it was all meant for him. Not for a mask, not for a creature he had been disguised as and not for anypony else nearby… all of it was for him.

And it all sat right outside of his cell, just beyond his reach...

Author's Note:

Fun Fact: Pharynx's role in this story is gradually becoming much different from what I had originally planned, and in a good Way. I had planned on him not really playing into things at all again until much later after he got beaten by Thorax, but when I wrote Brother's Quarrel, it got me thinking about how Thorax would really react to this situation. I've also been thinking about the flickers of pride and the like that I've tried to subtly hint from Pharynx ever since Thorax ran away back in Little Choices. All of that thinking has caused me to bump up Pharynx's relevance, and severely modify his place in the story moving forward.

This has thrown a few plot points I had in mind for the future completely on their heads, but I don't doubt that I can rework them in a timely manner.

S'all just part of my writing method of mostly making it up and letting it write itself as I go.

Fun Fact 2: Angry Fluttershy is really fun (and scary) to write.

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