• Published 14th Feb 2020
  • 3,695 Views, 494 Comments

What have I done to deserve this? - Cackling Moron



Every obstacle in the path of a Queen is the fault of some nefarious other party, and no fault of her own.

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---MEANWHILE, ELSEWHERE, IN A ROOM WITH TEA AND CAKE---

Author's Note:

Where I continue my habit of wholly squandering Cadence, because I'm awful.

I think this all makes sense. I think? It's all rather rushing out of me at this point. And don't think too hard about the bit with the comet, it's just a joke. It's all a joke, everything's a joke. This is all a farce.

And yes, tail-end joke about fradulent expensive claims ruthless stolen from lovingly adapted from a comment made by A.P.O.N.I back in chapter, uh, eight I think?

Luna was speaking. Or rather, Luna was wrapping up:

“...and so with an adjustment made to the path of the comet - again we thank Twilight for her calculations.”

A nod to Twilight here, who nodded back, glowing mildly from the acknowledgement.

“With a minor adjustment collision was averted and all life saved.”

Her piece spoken Luna lent back and took a sip of calming, delicious, well-deserved tea while the others present - Twilight, Celestia and Cadence - applauded politely. Saving all life seemed worthy of a small round of polite applause.

“Beautifully handled! That’ll be another one for the secret files, I think,” Celestia said, levitating a quill and making a note on the pad on the table beside her.

Not a lot of drama involved in magically nudging a comet, and not a lot of benefit in letting it be widely known. The sort of thing that would just make most ponies unhappy. Maybe in a few years, maybe quietly. Presently there were other issues. With the note made Celestia set the quill down and swivelled in Twilight’s direction.

“Now. Chrysalis,” she said. Luna and Cadence also swivelled a bit the better to look at Twilight for this part. Twilight suddenly felt very put on the spot.

“Ah, heh, yes. Thought that might come up,” she said, smiling nervously and shifting. The luxurious, comfortable seat suddenly didn’t feel quite as luxurious or comfortable as it had at the start of the meeting.

“We hear you captured her?” Luna asked.

“We don’t really have her captured per se, it’s more that she’s...a guest…?”

“A guest?” Cadence asked. They’d all had their own level of experience with Chrysalis but hers had perhaps been a tad more personal than most. Certainly, it had felt pretty personal at the time.

“Uh, yeah... It was a little unusual but that’s how it worked out,” Twilight said.

“Luna and I did receive your summary, but if you wouldn’t mind going through it with the three of us? Just so we can hear it from you directly - words on a page are always so dry, I find!” Celestia said, brandishing the summary (which had been nearby) briefly, for demonstrative effect.

Twilight did not mind, so she did, briefly summing up brief events and touching on all the salient points: Queen Chrysalis, previously in the wind, now located and her location known. Also now reformed, somehow. Also now in company of strange (though polite) alien, both of whom were presently in a house in Ponyville.

That was kind of about it, barring some of the fiddlier details. It didn’t take long to sum up.

“-we’re also keeping an eye on the house, obviously to see if anypony comes out who didn’t go in. Or anything, really. Changelings, you know. And you can’t teleport in or out of it either. Just in case,” Twilight said, concluding.

“Wise,” Celestia said, nodding, obtaining more cake.

“A cell may have been wiser…” Luna said, though quietly, earning a semi-sharp look from Celestia and a non-committal tilt of the head from Cadence. For her part, Twilight could understand this response.

It was a notion she had gone through herself. She could see the appeal. Chrysalis, even as she was, even without the element of surprise, wasn’t exactly less-than-dangerous and wasn’t exactly what anyone would call predictable, and on the face of it just letting her potter around a house (even an observed house) seemed kind of mad.

But the situation wasn’t quite as simple as all that, Twilight felt.

“The idea - the hope, my hope - is that friendlier, gentler treatment may yield a positive outcome, which is better in the long run. For her and for everypony else,” she said.

“I can see the logic in that. I still hope the house is sturdy,” Luna said.

“What is a ‘Richard’?” Celestia asked, lifting up a page of the report and squinting down.

This side-tangent caused Twilight’s eyes to light up. No prickly questions of what was the right and what was the wrong thing to do, there! Just an alien! That she’d talked to!

“I’m still not completely sure yet. But he wears trousers. It’s all in this report I made!” She said.

The report was produced and presented to the group. It was a hefty document indeed. Alarmingly hefty given that she’d only talked to the man for a day, and not even a whole day either. Also hefty enough to raise questions about where exactly Twilight had been hiding it up to that point.

Probably best not to ask.

“Hmm,” Luna hummed, taking and flipping through the report, mostly out of politeness, quickly becoming alarmed at the depths to which the text plunged. Comprehensive would be the word.

He did indeed apparently wear trousers, this Richard, this Luna could confirm. She could also confirm that that was only the start of it. It went so much deeper. Apparently he even wore things under the trousers, on occasion. The mind reeled.

“What’s the nature of Chrysalis’s relationship with Richard?” Celestia asked while Luna continued to flip through the report with increasing, albeit low-level alarm as Twilight’s thoroughness and quick work.

“Healthy?” Cadence asked from the sidelines. Kind of caught Twilight off-guard, honestly, but then again holding grudges was quite antithetical to love, so maybe it shouldn’t have come as that much of a surprise she seemed to be expressing sincere concern. Very sincere pony, was Cadence.

“Um, yes?” Twilight ventured.

“I meant more in the sense of what function is he serving. Why does she need the Richard?” Celestia said, though by what details there had been in Twilight’s written summary it rather sounded like everyone needed a bit of the Richard in their lives. Needed Richard to just slide on in there. So to speak.

Ahem.

“Oh! Right! Minion. Kind of,” Twilight said.

“Kind of?” Celestia asked, eyebrow raised, honing in on the ambiguity.

Twilight shrugged helplessly. It was kind of a difficult dynamic to explain. Seeing it in action helped, but only a bit. Richard and Chrysalis were, well, something, certainly. That you could say with confidence. They were certainly something.

“Well that’s what he said he was, said he was just her servant, but we’re not too sure. He clearly had something to do with Chrysalis becoming reformed and we think we know what, but neither of them are...open about it, so we’re not sure, like I say. But they’re clearly both very important to one another.”

“Must be, if he was involved in her reforming,” Cadence said, the unspoken implication that it would take something special to have got through to Chrysalis, of all people, someone who’d been able to stand defiant in the face of her whole hive going against her and not budge an inch at the time.

“Yeah…” Twilight said, scratching her head.

“You sound unsure,” Luna said.

Another helpless shrug. She really wasn’t a fan of being on the spot for this long, especially when she really didn’t have a firm grasp on the subject at hoof.

“They just kind of showed up the other day, an alien with a head wound and the now-reformed fugitive Changeling queen demanding things. It’s too early to be sure of anything…” She mumbled.

“With that being said, what do you believe the next steps should be?” Celestia asked.

More on the spot! It just got worse!

“Me?” Twilight squeaked.

“Of course. We all have our own ideas I’m sure, but you are the one who has dealt with her directly, you know the most about it. So what do you think?”

Twilight had lots of thoughts, all the time, about all sorts of things. Sometimes too many to know what to do with or which ones were even worth the time. This was certainly something she’d given a fair amount of thought to in what little time she’d had available to do it in.

“She’s been through a big change, bigger than the other Changelings, probably,” Twilight said slowly, still thinking as she spoke. “She was the queen, she had the hive looking up to her, she was in charge. And now she doesn’t anymore and, well, she isn’t anymore. On top of everything else, on top of all the other...stuff…”

‘Stuff’ said while Twilight gestured vaguely to herself, as a way of indicating ‘Radical magical physiological, psychological change’. The others got what she was driving at.

Twilight continued:

“So I’m not even going to pretend to know what the best thing to do is, but it seems at least like one of the better things to do is just be slow, gentle, understanding and give the pair of them some space, at least to start with. Maybe later once she’s more settled we can see what else can be done and needs to be done, but for now, gentle. That’s what I think.”

A lot of this friendship business was intuition and gut-feeling anyway, Twilight had come to understand, despite her fierce desire to have it all written down and quantified.

“And you believe that she will not do anything rash?” Luna asked, one of those things that had been lurking on all their minds, and not without good reason.

“Like blow a hole through a wall?” Celestia said, getting odd looks for her trouble. “What? It’s just an example. That would be a rash thing to do.”

She wasn’t wrong. That would be rash. Twilight sighed, wrung out by now.

“I don’t know, honestly. She’s, uh...emotionally fluid might be the polite way of putting it. Right now she’s a guest but she has it in her head that I’m the one under obligation to put her up because it’s my fault what happened to her? And so I have to ‘fix her’? And she also seems to think Richard still needs time to recuperate after his injury when he, uh, doesn’t. I think she knows both of those aren’t really true or possible, but...well, we’re all playing along, and so far it seems to be doing fine. As long as nothing happens to upset her equilibrium I think she’ll be fine,” she said.

“And what might do that? ‘Upset her equilibrium’?” Luna asked. Again with the questions.

“I, uh, I don’t know…”

Emotional fluidity kind of meant that just about anything could do it, and just as easily might mean nothing could. They would have to play it by ear, step by step, day at a time. Hard work, yes, but hopefully worth it in the end when everyone came out the other end happier, healthier and generally just more comfortable.

Celestia picked up on the waves of discomfort radiating off of Twilight and saw how they were now reaching a peak, feeling that they’d arrived at a comfortable conclusion she said:

“We shall trust to your judgement in this, and allow you to take things at whatever pace you feel is best, Twilight. As and when you decide that sufficient progress has been made we can then come in, if you feel it wouldn’t be harmful. We will likely have to speak to Chrysalis at some point, however.”

“Of course,” Twilight said. Understandable.

“Have you contacted Thorax at all?” Cadence asked.

Seemed like a good idea, really, all things considered. He might have some input, some feelings, some opinions.

“I sent him a letter but, uh, he hasn’t got back to me yet,” Twilight said.

“One imagines he must be busy,” said Luna.

“Ah, I know how that is. We’re all busy. Lots of very important things, all the time! Barely any time to think. More tea?” Celestia asked, hovering the teapot about the group in a manner specifically designed to puncture the mood. Luna narrowed her eyes. She didn’t appreciate bathos.

“You did that on purpose,” she said.

“It’s like you know me,” Celestia said sweetly as she topped up Luna’s cup.

A lull followed where further tea and cake was consumed, all present needing a moment of calm and reflection. Once the calm had been reasonably absorbed, Luna levitated over one of her notes.

“There was something else. A relatively petty matter but still one I feel we should at least consider briefly, before we adjourn. It has been brought to my attention that a small but steady number of questionable expense claims have been arriving at the palace.”

“Oh?” Celestia asked. News to her, but then so many of those things tended to slip her by. Luna nodded.

“Take this one, for example. It is barely two hours old, for the purchase of a kilogram of baklava in Ponyville. And see here, ‘Care of Her Majesty’. And that is merely one example, and merely the latest. These have been appearing with some regularity for a good few months now,” she said.

Celestia sat up straighter and leaned over towards Luna, trying to catch sight of the slip of paper.

“They sell baklava by the kilogram in Ponyville?” She asked before realising she might have been being too obvious and sitting back again, clearing her throat and stroking her chin. “I mean, how strange, hmm. What could it mean, hmm...”

Luna’s eyes were narrow again, but only for her sister. When she looked at the other two her expression was softer.

“I assume that neither of you know any more about this than my sister or myself?” She asked. Both Cadence and Twilight shook their heads. Luna sighed.

“Some chancer, then. Irritating. I will have it looked into,” she said.

And there things kind of just tailed off for the day, descending into talk about nothing much of note, occasional scraps of laughter and even more cake.

Such moments were important.