• Published 10th Mar 2021
  • 1,495 Views, 108 Comments

Paint the Sky - Flynt Coal

Having been adopted by human Celestia and her boyfriend Sable, the former Queen Chrysalis starts her new life in the human world. But she still has her old demons to contend with.

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Chapter 3 - Illusion of Friendship

Chrysalis thought for sure she would be grounded this weekend. She’d even texted Diamond Tiara after her fight with her guardians the previous night to say as such (Diamond had replied with three poop emojis, which pretty much nailed how Chrysalis felt). Then the morning came, and Chrysalis came out of her room for breakfast only to be surprised by what Sable asked her.

“You want a ride to the shopping center today?”

Chrysalis tilted her head. “Am I…not grounded?”

“Celestia and I had a talk about it.” Sable took a lengthy sip of coffee—too lengthy not to be deliberate—before answering, “We decided to give you your day out with your friends. But make no mistake, you are not off the hook.”

“Right, I guess that’s fair,” Chrysalis said with a nod as she went to the cupboard to get some of the very sugary cereal that she liked. “For what it’s worth, I’m really sorry for how I behaved last night. I shouldn’t have said those things to you.”

Chrysalis waited with bated breath for Sable’s response, every second of silence that passed filling her with more and more unexplained dread.

“If you’re gonna be taking a ride with me, we need to make a quick stop first,” Sable finally said, making Chrysalis wonder if he even heard her apology. “Accidentally left some papers at work yesterday.”

“That’s okay,” Chrysalis said, not really sure of what else she could say. Part of her considered turning down Sable’s offered lift. Things between them were sure to be even more uncomfortable than they already were before their fight, and with the added stop to the school Sable taught at, taking the bus wouldn’t be that much longer.

But before she knew it, Chrysalis was getting into the car with Sable, taking a moment to message Diamond that she would be making an appearance today after all. The silence of the car ride was exactly as uncomfortable as Chrysalis expected, with only the sound of talk radio as a distraction.

Finally, Chrysalis couldn’t take it anymore. “May I ask why I’m not being punished?”

“You are being punished, Chrysalis. Just not today.”

Chrysalis nodded, suspecting she understood. “Ah, I see. Psychological torture. You’re letting the anticipation of punishment serve as part of the punishment itself. It’s okay, I can take it.”

She had to stop herself from offhandedly mentioning that she had learned just how effective psychological torture could be by being on both sides of it.

Sable just sighed. “No, Chrysalis. We’re not trying to torture you.” There was a beat of silence as Sable seemed to be figuring out what to say next. “I know this whole ‘family’ thing is still new to you—hell, it’s new to me too—but Celestia and I are your guardians. Our job is to love and care for you, even if that means using a firm hand sometimes.”

They passed a sign on the highway that read SUNNYTOWN NEXT EXIT and Sable pulled over to the exit lane, stopping behind an 18-wheeler waiting on the traffic. He took the moment to look her directly in the eyes. “You understand, right?”

Chrysalis nodded, and Sable smiled. In that instance, Chrysalis felt something—tasted it, too—that made her see this human in a different light. At that moment, it was impossible for her to compare him to the Sable Loam she knew in Equestria.

A few minutes later, they were off the highway and driving down the streets of Sunnytown. Something about the air here felt different. Tasted different too. Trash littered the streets around overflowing bins. Buildings were run down, every other one seemingly outright abandoned. A half-torn sofa sat on the end of a street, and a man whose clothes could generously be called rags slept on it beneath a couple of newspapers. He was so still he might have been dead.

They passed an alleyway, and for a brief moment Chrysalis caught a glimpse of two figures mercilessly kicking something…or maybe someone. They turned a corner onto a narrower street, where more figures in baggy clothes and hoods loitered about. A group of about four of them who were standing around an idling car turned to look at Sable and Chrysalis as they passed by, one of them pointing them out to the others. Chrysalis looked over her shoulder to see them quickly getting into the car.

Chrysalis had been to many places like this in Equestria. Usually, it was when she needed the services of dangerous ponies with very specific skillsets that a mere changeling was ill-suited for, and images of a certain stallion with a bad mustache flashed through her mind. It was the kind of place one didn’t venture through without knowing how to handle yourself. In Equestria, when Chrysalis was a powerful changeling queen, no one in a place like this posed much of a threat to her. But now, she was just a girl. A girl with some shapeshifting powers and above average physical strength, true enough, but with nowhere near the power that she had in Equestria.

“Why are we going this way exactly?” Chrysalis asked.

“I told you. Need to pick up something from work,” Sable said nonchalantly.

“This is where you work?” she asked, and Sable nodded, laughing at a joke on the radio.

Chrysalis took another look back. There was a car driving behind them now, less than a block away. One that looked suspiciously similar to the one they’d passed a moment ago. Sable turned left, and a moment later the other car did the same. A few minutes later, they turned right, and the other car was still behind them.

“I think we’re being followed,” Chrysalis said.


How could he be so blase about this? “Shouldn’t we do something?”

“No need. This happens all the time,” Sable said. “Once they see us pull into the Blanks they’ll leave us alone. People around here know that Blanks faculty are all ex-military, and typically aren’t stupid enough to mess around.”

Chrysalis nodded and simply tried to keep her attention straight ahead. That was a mistake, as the first thing she saw was a man crossing the street with no pants on, his junk in the breeze.


“Heh, yeah. Another Saturday in Sunnytown,” Sable muttered as they drove past.

Finally, they reached the school and turned into the faculty parking lot. Chrysalis watched as the car that had been driving along behind them for the past several minutes suddenly accelerated and drove past, disappearing around a corner.

Switching the car off and removing his seatbelt, Sable said, “You should stick close. Like I said, typically people don’t mess with faculty here…but it is Saturday.”

Chrysalis hastily nodded, fumbling to get her own seatbelt off as Sable stepped out of the car and started walking up to the building.

Equestria County Alternative High adorned the façade in big plain letters. Apart from that, the building was spotless: a huge slate grey brick with no discernible features save for a few cracked windows. It looked more like a prison than a school (Chrysalis could easily imagine towers and a barbed-wire fence around it), and Chrysalis started to realize why Sable always called it “the Blanks.”

It was only when they went around to the faculty entrance that the first hint of color appeared on the building. Scrawled all along the back wall were a number of crude messages etched in spray paint. Chrysalis spotted a number of expletives as well as references to individuals she suspected were teachers at this school. Some of it she didn’t quite understand—one message asserted that somebody named Red Horse had a taste for carpets, which seemed ridiculous to Chrysalis. As they reached the door, Chrysalis spotted one name that she recognized.

“’Sodomy Sable takes phat…’?” Chrysalis read out loud.

Sable just laughed. “I’m just glad to know someone was paying attention to my literature lectures.”

Saying nothing more, Sable unlocked the door and went inside, and Chrysalis followed him closely. The hallways of the Blanks were very different from what she was used to at Canterlot High. At CHS, Chrysalis couldn’t walk five feet without seeing fliers for the school’s various clubs and sports teams, or a display case featuring trophies and awards the school had won over the years. The halls of the Blanks were bare, the only thing adorning the wall being long dried stains of…something.

They reached Sable’s office, and Sable wasted no time in pulling papers out of his desk and putting them in his bag. Chrysalis just stood to the side of the door, listening to the loud buzz of fluorescent lights.

“So Chrys, have you thought about trying out for any of the sports teams at CHS?” Sable asked casually.

“I started too late to try out for any of the teams, but that’s okay. I sometimes like staying after school to watch the soccer team practice.” Chrysalis thought she’d maybe try out for the soccer team next semester but wasn’t sure she’d like it enough to stick with it. That didn’t matter so much to her, though. What mattered was that she had the chance to try at all.

“What about clubs?” Sable asked. “Any of them catch your eye yet?”

Chrysalis had to think about that one. “My friend Diamond is the president of the junior debate club. I could join that, but…I dunno. I’m kinda more interested in the movie club.”

“You don’t sound so sure.”

Chrysalis looked up at the buzzing fluorescent light above his head, oddly mesmerized by it. “Di says it’s full of losers.”

Sable hmmed and put the last of his papers in his bag. “Well, it’s good you have so many options at CHS. Students here don’t have that luxury.”

“You don’t have any clubs here at all?” Chrysalis asked, and Sable shook his head. “What about sports?”

“We tried to get our own soccer team a couple years back, but the school board wouldn’t approve it. Didn’t want to waste the resources on what they saw as a school full of future criminals.” Sable shook his head, and Chrysalis could taste his frustration. “It’s like it never occurred to them that many of these kids might not even be future criminals if they had something like a sports team to give them purpose.”

“No wonder it looks like a prison…” Chrysalis muttered. “Why would anyone want to go here?”

“Most students don’t,” Sable said. “Most of them are here because they were expelled from another school.”

“Like CHS?” Chrysalis asked.

“A fair number of my students used to attend CHS, yeah.”

Chrysalis let that sink in as Sable zipped up his bag. Being here and seeing what it was like certainly added new weight to all of Neighsay’s talk about sending her to the Blanks or somewhere similar.

“You know what the really sad thing is?” Sable asked as he stood up. “Not all of my students really deserve to be here. A lot of them are smart. Motivated. But…they fell in with the wrong crowd. Because the other really sad thing is, not everyone who does deserve to be here ends up here.”

“What do you mean?”

“What I’m trying to say is…the worst kind of kids aren’t the ones who graffiti ‘Sodomy Sable takes phat cocks’ on the wall.” Sable then gave her a knowing look, and Chrysalis had the feeling he could see right through her in that moment. “The worst kind of kids are the ones who can convince others to do it for them.”

After Sable dropped her off at the east entrance to the Olde Towne Shopping Center, Chrysalis sent Diamond Tiara a message letting her know she was here and then entered. She was not prepared for the sight that awaited her. Olde Towne certainly looked like its name suggested, with a cobblestone pedestrian street lined with old-fashioned lamp posts leading down rows of beautiful brick buildings. It was only when Chrysalis peered into the large windows of the stores that she saw how sleek and modern they were inside. Row after row of clothing and apparel stores, antique shops and restaurants stretched on, each one as smooth and elegant as the last. Chrysalis was so lost in the sheer beauty of it all she didn’t hear her friends approach.

“’Sup loser,” Diamond Tiara greeted.

Chrysalis was too enamoured to return the customary greeting. “This place is awesome!” she exclaimed.

“You didn’t have anything like Olde Towne up in Klamath Falls?”

“No,” Chrysalis said. Not that she’d know.

Something about the clearly European inspired design made Chrysalis nostalgic for the first home she’d ever known, and without thinking, she said, “I wonder if this is what Italy looks like now….”

“You’d know better than us,” Silver Spoon said with a careless shrug. “It can’t have changed that much since you lived there.”

“Right,” Chrysalis said, remembering that her homeland was probably as strange and different as California was to her now.

“Can we go shopping now?” Cozy Glow asked. “I’m bored already!”

Chrysalis was eager to check out some of these shops as well, so together the four girls set out, spending the next couple of hours browsing clothing stores. Chrysalis couldn’t help but notice that Diamond and the others had a fair bit of spending money to throw around. The money from Chrysalis’s own allowance wasn’t inconsiderable, but she didn’t want to spend it all on a single pair of shoes (regardless of how nice they may have been). Thus, she spent most of that morning merely window-shopping, in spite of her friends’ best efforts to get her to buy something.

“What about this, Chrys?” Diamond asked for the dozenth time, holding up a white skirt with gold accents. “You like it?”

“Ooh that’s cute!” Cozy exclaimed.

“I guess…” Chrysalis muttered. “Cute” wasn’t really her style, but she spotted something deeper in the store that was.

“Whoa, check this out!” Chrysalis said, holding up a black shirt with the design of a deer skull complete with big intricate antlers. “Now this I like!”

“That’s the boys’ section, Chrys,” Silver sighed.

“Is that a problem?”

“You’re a girl.”

Chrysalis still didn’t see the problem. Skulls were cool! Why shouldn’t girls get to wear them?

“Look Chrys, I think it’s cool that you don’t give a fuck about what anybody thinks,” Diamond Tiara said, gently taking the hanger with the deer skull shirt on it from her. “But we can’t afford that luxury. We’re too important. And now that you’re with us, so are you.”

Diamond put the deer skull shirt back on the rack where Chrysalis found it and started to lead her away. “The whole school has their eye on us, and your whole… ‘Hobo Hot Topic’ aesthetic just doesn’t mesh with ours. It makes you stand out too much.”

Chrysalis frowned. “What’s wrong with standing out?”

“Nothing! It’s just….” Diamond let out a patient sigh. “Look, you want to keep hanging out with us, right?” Chrysalis nodded, and Diamond Tiara grabbed the white skirt from before as well as a pink top. “Then just try it on. Who knows? You might even like it once you see yourself wearing it!”

Chrysalis still wasn’t crazy about the outfit but took it from Diamond regardless and headed for the changing rooms. Diamond was trying her hardest to help Chrysalis fit in, the least she could do was try it on. Once inside the changing booth, Chrysalis looked at the outfit hanging on the door for a second before turning to face the mirror in the booth.

She concentrated, and instantly the green flame-like appearance of her magic washed over her. Chrysalis stood, her sallow features and teal-tipped blond hair unchanged, but in place of the dark sweater, denim skirt and black leggings she now wore the soft white and gold skirt and pink blouse that Diamond Tiara had picked out. She didn’t look bad in it necessarily. In fact, Chrysalis thought she looked rather fetching.

Even so, something about it just didn’t feel right. Chrysalis was used to changing her appearance drastically and regularly. It was kind of what she did. Back in Equestria, there were times when she would have to live under a different appearance and identity for weeks, months, or occasionally years at a time. It was for that reason that her sense of identity was fairly fluid. But looking at the gorgeous, stylish outfit she was wearing now, she just didn’t feel like herself. The person looking back at her was a stranger.

So with another flash of green flame-like magic, the pretty pink and white outfit disappeared and her darker, more familiar clothes returned. Leaving the real pink and white outfit hanging in the booth, Chrysalis exited, making her way back toward her friends. On her way over to them, she realized that most humans couldn’t change in the blink of an eye like she could. Diamond and the others definitely wouldn’t believe her when she told them she tried it on. So, seeing that the three of them were still looking at clothes on the far side of the store—seeming not to have noticed her yet—Chrysalis decided to make a stop to the ladies’ room: nature happened to be calling anyway.

When Chrysalis finished her business, she lingered in the stall for a little bit, idly checking her phone. It was around that time she heard the restroom door open, and a pair of footsteps echoed through the room. Accompanying them were a pair of familiar voices engaged in lively conversation.

“Like, it’s not just me right? That girl’s kind of a freak!” It was Silver Spoon’s voice, and she sounded annoyed with someone.

“She’s weird, I know, but that’s fine. We can work with that,” Diamond Tiara said. “Remember how Cozy used to be when we first met?”

Chrysalis thought she should speak up, let her friends know she was in here too, perhaps even ask what they were talking about. But some instinct deep inside her told her to just remain quiet and listen. Perhaps it was the changeling part of her still trained in espionage.

“I just don’t know how much longer I can keep up the ‘friendly’ act, y’know?” Silver Spoon said, as Chrysalis heard what was probably Diamond enter a stall further down.

“Just be patient,” Diamond Tiara reassured.

“Do we really need her this much? I mean, Cozy Glow I get. Her mom’s on the district school board. But why Chrysalis? Is it because her mom’s superintendent?”

Chrysalis was still already, but now she was practically frozen.

“It’s because she’s our in with Sunset Shimmer,” Diamond said. “If we’re going to take her place when she graduates, she needs to acknowledge us or else the school won’t see it as legitimate. We already burned the bridge we had with Apple Bloom and her friends—honestly, if I thought it was even possible Sunset was gonna reconcile with their sisters a year ago I wouldn’t have targeted them so much.

“But if Chrysalis vouches for us, at the very least Sunset can’t dismiss us outright!” There was a pause, and Diamond added, “Besides, you saw her at the Corner the other day. The girl’s a beast! Having her around as muscle will definitely come in handy!”

“I hope you’re right,” Silver Spoon said, “because I….”

The sound of a toilet flushing drowned out the rest of whatever she said next, but whatever it was made Diamond Tiara laugh—a sound Chrysalis had heard many times, but somehow sounded a touch crueler now. The pair of them started talking about where they wanted to go next—Silver Spoon suggested lunch, saying she was getting hungry—over the sound of the running sink faucets.

Chrysalis stood up, quickly hiking up her skirt. She was going to emerge from her stall like a demon from hell and demand an explanation! But instead, she just stood there, awkwardly peering through the crack in the door until Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon left. Only then did Chrysalis emerge and wash her hands.

It was a slow process; all the speed had apparently been diverted to Chrysalis’s mind as it raced at mach speed. Was their whole friendship a lie? Were they really just using her? Chrysalis always got the feeling that Silver Spoon felt awkward around her, but Diamond Tiara always seemed so genuine!

What else did you expect when you bought into the big lie of ‘friendship’ anyway? The little voice in her head piped up as it so often did in moments like this one.

Chrysalis looked up at the mirror in front of her, and for a moment could swear her own reflection was already glaring at her. Its gaze seemed to pierce right through her.

So what if they’re only using you? Use them back! Little Voice said. That’s all a ‘friendship’ really is anyway: Just people using each other for mutual gain! There was a time you understood this.

Chrysalis splashed her face with some of the sink’s water in a desperate bid to clear her thoughts (again thinking her reflection’s gaze seemed to linger on her for an extra moment). Was that right? Was she foolish for ever thinking that friendship was something she could have?

Chrysalis walked out of the women’s restroom in a daze, and before she knew it she had met up with her frie—with Diamond Tiara and the others.

“You okay, Chrys? You look kinda pale,” Diamond Tiara asked with kind eyes and a concerned tone. Oh, she is good!

Chrysalis just gave her a big, toothy smile, noting the way Silver Spoon recoiled. “Never better!”

Lunch was a terribly awkward affair. While Diamond Tiara and the others carried on with conversation throughout the meal, Chrysalis remained dead silent. Even when Diamond made the occasional effort to include her in the conversation (like a matron throwing scraps to the dog under the table) Chrysalis gave her only a shrug and a non-committal grunt. After a few times, Chrysalis spotted Diamond exchange a look with Silver, who gave a barely perceptible shrug. Chrysalis grinned ever so slightly. She’d let them sweat like this for a little while before letting them continue to think she still believed them to be her friends.

Then what would she do? It was one of the many things racing through her head as she ate. There must be some way she could benefit from keeping up the charade of friendship. Diamond wanted to use her to get into Sunset’s good graces. Perhaps she could pretend to be her friend until Diamond inevitably asked her to put in a good word with Sunset: an opportunity she could use to throw Diamond and the others under the bus, securing her own position as Sunset’s successor. Of course, there was no reason to wait for Diamond to ask before selling her out, Chrysalis could talk to Sunset next week if she wanted to. So she kept thinking.

Maybe she could try to get close enough to Diamond to learn some of her darkest secrets. She could even recruit Apple Bloom towards that end: she’d known Diamond for long enough to have something good on her. Once she had what she needed, Chrysalis would…do what, exactly? Destroy her reputation at CHS, thereby removing her as a potential obstacle to power? Or perhaps she’d use it as blackmail and make Diamond dance for a while before dropping it on her anyway.

All of this sounded very appealing, but Chrysalis found herself thinking about her drive with Sable this morning and couldn’t help but imagine how disappointed he and Celestia would be. She had promised Celestia and Sunset that she wasn’t that person anymore. Another thought suddenly occurred to Chrysalis that made her incredibly uneasy: the simple truth that she didn’t want to humiliate and destroy Diamond Tiara and her friends. Yet here she was, trying to think of every way imaginable she could use her friendship with Diamond to her advantage because the truth was….

The truth was Chrysalis didn’t want to go back to being alone. Chrysalis started to laugh. There it was: she’d rather cling to the illusion of friendship than go through the rest of her school years without it.

“What’s so funny?” Silver Spoon asked.

“Just my life,” Chrysalis said between giggles, and again the other three girls looked at each other with growing concern.

Several minutes later, the four of them finished their meals and set out for the Olde Towne Theater. The other three were doing their level best to forget about Chrysalis’s earlier bout of insanity, talking about the movie they planned on seeing. Cozy, however, kept checking her phone and looking around the theater, her foot tapping impatiently. By the time they got their tickets and were lined up to get snacks, things actually had managed to return to some semblance of normalcy. That is, before Cozy Glow spotted something across the way and her normally sickeningly sweet face contorting into almost comical rage.

“That two-timing slut!

Chrysalis followed where she was looking and spotted a pair of familiar figures. Sweetie Belle and the brown-haired boy with the hat—Button, if Chrysalis remembered correctly—were chatting happily with each other as they walked into a theater showing a superhero flick that honestly looked far more appealing to Chrysalis than the teen romantic comedy Diamond and the others wanted to see. Chrysalis noted just how close together the two were, and what was more, she could taste their infatuation all the way from where she was standing.

“Eesh, you hate to see it,” Silver Spoon said. Diamond Tiara said nothing, but managed to snap a quick picture of the two with her phone before they disappeared into the theater.

“If that bitch thinks she can steal my boyfriend, I’m gonna smash her fucking face in!” Cozy’s rage was hot enough to burn Chrysalis’s tongue, however she couldn’t deny that such extreme anger from someone so miniscule was rather comical.

“Relax, Cozy. I’ll take care of it,” Diamond said. Chrysalis could hear the tap tap tap of her texting someone.

“Fuck that, I wanna make her bleed!

“I told you before, we can’t afford to be so direct. Not before the old guard graduates anyway,” Diamond said, and Chrysalis could hear her hit ‘send’ on that text. “But us being the new guard, we can’t let a challenge like that go unanswered, so relax. She’ll be put in her place before the day’s over.”

With a few deep breaths, Cozy returned to her usual saccharine demeanor.

“Thanks, Di,” she said, pulling Diamond into a big affectionate hug. “You’re such a good friend!”

Chrysalis couldn’t help but feel a twang of sympathy for Cozy Glow at that moment. From what she overheard, Diamond was using her just like she was using Chrysalis. Perhaps Chrysalis could tell Cozy what she heard. But not right now. For now, Chrysalis would let her enjoy the illusion of friendship Diamond was giving her for a little while longer.

A couple of hours later, when Chrysalis and the others left the movie theater, (Chrysalis found the movie itself fairly underwhelming. How do you set a movie in high school without any musical numbers?) Diamond Tiara met up with the person she had been texting before it started. A large, beefy boy with orange hair and punk-like attire, including a dog collar, Diamond had introduced him to Chrysalis as “Rover”. According to Diamond, he was a member of a group of senior year troublemakers.

“What is he, your boyfriend or something?” Chrysalis had asked as they were on their way to meet up with him.

“No, but he’s head over heels in love with me, which makes him useful,” Diamond had answered.

So, just another one of your pawns then, Chrysalis thought as she and the others met up with Diamond’s proverbial dog. Despite what Diamond told her, Chrysalis didn’t sense any real love from Rover in Diamond’s presence. But it was hard to miss his constant glances up and down her body. There was clearly only one thing Rover wanted from her, and Chrysalis suspected that if Diamond ever gave it to him, she would no longer have her loyal dog. It was likely Diamond was aware of this too, and thus would never do any more than string him along.

“Hey hot stuff,” Rover said, pulling out a single rose and offering it to Diamond. Chrysalis spotted a flower shop barely a few feet away. “Got you something.”

“Well aren’t you sweet,” Diamond deadpanned, taking the flower and handing it off to Silver without so much as glancing at it. “Now, did you follow those two morons like I asked?”

“After they left the theater, they stopped by the game store,” Rover reported. “Then I saw them go out behind the west lot. You can probably guess what they’re doing back there.”

To punctuate his point, Rover made a circle with his thumb and pointer finger and inserted his other finger in and out.

“Classy. Don’t you think that’s a little insensitive to poor Cozy?” Diamond asked sternly. Rover very quickly stopped.

Diamond then proceeded to give him his orders like a general to his troops: Find them and make them both pay for breaking Cozy’s heart.

“Break Sweetie’s nose. That pretty face is what got her into this mess in the first place,” Diamond said. “If you think about it, we’re doing her a favor by keeping her out of future trouble.”

“Oh, and while you’re at it, break some of Button’s fingers,” Cozy Glow added. “I might find it in my heart to forgive him for this betrayal, but only if he devotes himself to making it up to me. Not being able to play his dumb video games should make that easier for him!”

“And take Chrys with you,” Diamond said. “Those losers probably won’t give you any trouble, but it’ll be good to have the backup. Just in case.” She then turned to Chrysalis. “You up for putting the hurt on some back-stabbing cheaters?”

Chrysalis nodded. Beating up someone who deserved it might be just the thing she needed to take her mind off the day.

So, she soon found herself walking across the quiet parking lot on the west side of Olde Towne. Apparently, they were repaving much of this particular lot, so most of it was closed off from the shopping center’s customers. It was the ideal place to start something away from prying eyes, whether that be committing adultery or punishing it.

As they walked, Rover went on and on about how much he hated “disloyal punks”. Chrysalis, on the other hand, remained quiet. Her mind was still racing. Was what she was about to do really right? She’d done far worse to traitors to her hive, after all. Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon may have turned out to be as two-faced as…well, a changeling, but Cozy didn’t seem to know anything about it. On the contrary, she and Chrysalis appeared to be in the same boat. The least Chrysalis could do was look out for her interests, even if Diamond happened to benefit from it.

On the other hand, the thought of what she was about to do filled Chrysalis with an unpleasant feeling in her stomach. For some reason, her mind kept taking her back to the graffiti she’d seen on the wall outside the Blanks’ staff entrance. Sodomy Sable takes phat cocks.

“Yo there they are.” Rover’s voice brought Chrysalis out of her own head.

Just ahead of them, Chrysalis could see their targets. To her mild surprise, Button and Sweetie were not wrestling tongues up against the wall like Rover had suggested. Instead, they were both holding out their phones towards a corner of the wall, moving their fingers up across their screens with purpose. Both of them remained unaware of Chrysalis and Rover’s presence.

“Yes!” Button exclaimed, pumping a fist in the air.

“You got it?” Sweetie asked him.

“Yeah. Dratini, you’re mine!”


It took only a moment for Chrysalis to realize they were playing that “pocket monsters” game that was apparently really popular at school. Chrysalis had even downloaded the app herself, though she hadn’t gotten around to actually trying it yet. The game itself couldn’t be further from her mind at the moment, however. Something about the scene didn’t add up.

“Are you sure they’re even together?” Chrysalis asked her partner. “They seem like they’re just hanging out as friends—”

Chrysalis barely finished her sentence before noticing that Diamond’s attack dog was already off his leash. Sweetie’s soft, high-pitched voice let out a shriek of horror as Button was suddenly shoved against the wall. Rover then laid into him with a punch to the gut. Sighing, Chrysalis made towards them as Sweetie started screeching at the much bigger boy, fumbling for something in her bag as she did so.

Sweetie brought a pink canister of pepper spray to bear (Chrysalis knew what it was because Celestia had given her one just like it), but she never got the chance to use it. Chrysalis pinned her against the wall with one hand, snatching the bottle of mace and tossing it away with her other hand.

“Nice one, Chrys,” Rover said after tossing Button to the ground. “You take care of her, I’ll take care of him.”

Sweetie looked between Chrysalis and Rover with wide, terrified eyes glistening with tears. Chrysalis saw the hurt recognition there, and felt something tiny inside of her break. “W-why are you doing this?” she asked as Button said something similar to his own attacker.

“Shut up! You know what you fuckin’ did, you disloyal punk!” Rover shouted as he held Button face down into the pavement.

What the hell are you talking about?!” Button shouted, clearly in pain.

“Cozy Glow. That name ring a bell?” Rover said, shoving Button’s face into the pavement harder.

“She put you up to this? Why?!

Rover lifted his face off the pavement just to slam it down again. “Because real men don’t cheat on their girlfriends!”


“SHUT UP!” Rover grabbed Button’s arm as the much scrawnier boy tried to elbow him off, and twisted it behind his back, eliciting a cry of agony from the boy. Rover then looked up over his shoulder. “Chrys, what are you waiting for? Teach that slut a lesson!”

Looking back at the terrified girl she had pinned to the wall, Chrysalis recalled what Diamond had suggested. Break her nose. So Chrysalis raised her fist, but to her surprise, Sweetie didn’t recoil or whimper. Although the girl was clearly scared out of her mind, she held Chrysalis’s gaze.

“Y-you don’t have to do this,” Sweetie said. “P-please….”

Chrysalis had seen that same terror on so many other faces over so many centuries. When enough creatures looked upon you with such fear, one eventually grows numb to seeing it. But something about Sweetie’s terrified face in that moment gave Chrysalis pause. She realized she was thinking about the moment that she had first met Sweetie Belle on her first day of school.

Even under the guise of a normal teenage girl, Chrysalis was intimidating. Most of the other students at Canterlot High first saw her and reacted either with fear or dismissal. But Sweetie Belle had been warm and friendly to her without knowing a thing about her. That kind of warmth from a complete stranger was new. And now here Chrysalis was, reducing that warmth to the same cold fear she’d always known.

With a sigh, Chrysalis’s fist unclenched and dropped it to her side, and she let go of Sweetie Belle. For a brief moment, the two of them stood, each one appraising the other, before another cry of pain from Button sprung Chrysalis into action. With purpose, Chrysalis approached Rover and Button where they struggled on the ground and delivered a swift, brutal kick to Rover’s stomach, sending the big meaty boy flying into the wall.

While Rover coughed and sputtered, Chrysalis knelt beside Button. Sweetie was by his side not even a second later. “You alright?” Chrysalis asked him.

“Everything hurts.” Button coughed.

Chrysalis looked at Sweetie. “You should get him medical attention.”

“What the fuck, Chrys?!” Rover was pulling himself to his feet, using the wall for support. “Whose side are you on?!”

Chrysalis quickly tried to pull Button to his feet and pass him over to Sweetie. “I’m not going to beat up these poor kids just because Diamond Tiara told me to,” Chrysalis told Rover. “If you’re smart you’ll do the same. She’s using you. Using both of us.”


“Believe what you want, I’m still not letting you lay another finger on them!” Chrysalis said, readying herself. “Last chance. Just walk away.”

Rover cracked his knuckles. “You’re just another disloyal punk, and I’m gonna make you eat your words, BITCH!”

Seeing that words weren’t going to work with this guy, Chrysalis turned to Sweetie and Button. “You two get out of here,” Chrysalis said. “I’ll deal with him.”

Sweetie looked unsure, but Chrysalis didn’t have time to press the issue before Rover was upon her, swinging with wild fists. The boy was clearly untrained, likely relying solely on his size and physical strength in comparison to his weaker peers to get to this point in life. Chrysalis had faced far more dangerous foes.

Chrysalis dodged and stepped around Rover’s flurry of punches, keeping up a smug grin in the hopes of further infuriating him. Anger makes you stupid, something that Chrysalis had to learn herself the hard way on more than one occasion.

“What’s wrong?” Chrysalis taunted as she ducked a wild swing from the boy. “Can’t keep up?”

Rover let out an almost canine growl. “STAY STILL SO I CAN SMASH YOU!!!

“Oh yeah, real motivated.”

Her ploy worked, and Rover attacked with another wild, unfocused swing. He was beginning to tire, though, and the attack was slow (and Chrysalis’s initial kick was already slowing him down), giving Chrysalis an ample opening to strike the boy’s throat with a quick precise jab.

Rover stumbled back, coughing and gurgling. He tried to shout another taunt but all that came out was a dry wheeze.

“I’m sorry, what was that?” Chrysalis said, theatrically raising a hand to her ear. “You’ll have to speak up!”

As predicted, Rover came at her with another furious assault. Somewhat less predicted was the manner in which he attacked. Rather than attempt to hit her with more wild, furious punches, Rover charged straight into her like an angry bull, in what was likely a close approximation of a football tackle. Chrysalis hadn’t been ready for it and felt his entire weight slam into her as both of them fell to the ground.

Oh no…. Fully straddling her, Rover resumed his patented technique of “swing his fists wildly until he hits something.” But now, Chrysalis wasn’t in any position to maneuver, and raised her own hands in a desperate bid to redirect his attacks. Seeing no easy opening and losing ground quickly, Chrysalis instead opted for her own patented technique when dealing with a male opponent: “knee to the groin.”

Rover let out an almost cartoonish “urk” and Chrysalis shoved him off of her. The two combatants pulled themselves to their feet, and Chrysalis decided it was time to stop messing around and end this. Rover lunged at her with one more wild punch, and rather than dodge it, Chrysalis caught his fist in her palm. Slowly, painfully, Chrysalis rotated the big boy’s arm, whose eyes bugged out as his attempts to rip free of her grasp were in vain. Chrysalis turned his arm further and further back until it was a struggle to keep turning it, then turned it some more. That cold fear Chrysalis was so used to tasting in her enemies began to radiate from Rover, and Chrysalis’s big toothy smile grew ever wider as she slowly—theatrically—drew back her other hand into a fist.

Rover immediately hit the ground from the punch Chrysalis delivered. She then stood over him, folding her arms.

“If you’re planning to get back up,” Chrysalis said. “I suggest you try going the opposite way.”

Slowly—much slower than the other two times—Rover pulled himself to his feet. His eye was black and swollen, there was blood coming out of his nose, and he was cradling the arm Chrysalis had twisted around. The two of them stood and faced each other for a moment each one sizing up the other. Chrysalis made a show of looking up and down his injuries and lifted an eyebrow. Then with a final snarl, Diamond’s dog turned and ran, his proverbial tail between his legs.

“That. Was. So COOL!” a familiar high-pitched voice cracked.

Chrysalis turned around and saw Sweetie and Button leaning on each other. Chrysalis found herself irrationally angry.

“What part of ‘get out of here’ did you two not understand?!” she exclaimed.

Apparently snapping herself out of a daze, Sweetie Belle said, “Sorry. Guess we were just worried about you.”

“For no reason, apparently,” Button added, his eyes absolutely lighting up despite the rest of him looking like five miles of bad road. “That was, like, some Mortal Kombat shit! Where’d you learn to do that?”

Chrysalis simply said, “I’m self-taught.” Sparing another glance at Button, she added, “I wasn’t joking about getting you some medical attention. He messed you up!”

“Got that right,” Button chuckled, then said, “But I’d probably be a lot worse off if it wasn’t for you. Thanks!”

The boy’s earnest, genuine smile filled Chrysalis with that same warmth she’d felt from Sweetie Belle and her friends on her first day of school here. Chrysalis suddenly felt her phone vibrate, and her good feelings vanished. She had a new text from Diamond Tiara.


“Let me guess. Your friends?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“No,” Chrysalis said. “Not anymore.”

Still, Chrysalis texted Diamond back saying she’d explain in person. It was well past time the two of them had words. The thought made Chrysalis bittersweet. This was the end of her first friendship in her new life, false though it may have been.

With another warm smile, Sweetie said, “I knew I was right.”

Chrysalis looked at her, puzzled. “About?”

“You,” Sweetie Belle said. “You don’t fit in.”

“Trust me, I know,” Chrysalis sighed. Ironic, that someone as versatile as a changeling couldn’t truly belong anywhere.

“Hey, it’s not such a bad thing,” Sweetie Belle said, and what she said next carried Chrysalis back into Olde Towne where Diamond and the others were waiting. “My friends and I don’t fit in either. But we have each other.”

The crowd was dispersing and the sun was getting lower in the sky when Chrysalis met back up with Diamond Tiara and the others by the fountain in the center of Olde Towne. It was fitting. The sun wasn’t setting on just the day, after all.

Diamond stood up, flanked by Silver Spoon and Cozy Glow. All of her carefully constructed faux friendliness was gone, and all that was left was anger. “You mind telling me why the fuck you beat Rover within an inch of his life, Chrysalis?!”

Chrysalis chuckled, adding a slight sinister edge to it; something she’d become adept at over the last millennium. “It wasn’t as bad as all that,” she said, giving Diamond a big smile. “You make me sound like some kind of monster!”

“Did you at least kick that bitch Sweetie Belle’s ass?” Cozy asked.

“The thing about that is, I’m not sure she’s even dating Button,” Chrysalis said. “But then again, neither are you, right?”

Chrysalis thought she saw a vein pop on Cozy’s neck for a brief moment. “He just…doesn’t know he likes me yet!”

“Whatever,” Chrysalis said, returning her attention to the quietly fuming Diamond Tiara. “I didn’t come here to talk about Cozy’s delusions.”

“Damn right!” Diamond exclaimed. “You’re here to account for yourself!”

At that, Chrysalis just laughed, allowing herself to ham it up a little like she used to do when she was a queen. “You might be even more delusional than Cozy!”

While the girl in question grinded her teeth, Diamond glared at Chrysalis. “What the fuck is your problem today?”

Chrysalis shoved a finger in Diamond’s face, causing Silver Spoon to visibly flinch beside her. “You are my problem, Diamond! You’re a rotten bitch and I no longer want to have anything to do with you!”

Diamond just sighed and shook her head. “That hurts, Chrysalis. I let you into our group with open arms. Treated you like a friend when no one else would. And you repay my kindness by talking to me like this?”

“Where the hell is this coming from, Chrys?” Silver asked with far less convincing faux kindness.

“Oh, you can cut the ‘friendly’ act already, Silver. I know how exhausting it is for you,” Chrysalis said dismissively.

“What are you—?” Silver cut herself short when she realized.

“You were in the bathroom earlier today, weren’t you?” Diamond asked, all the anger gone from her voice.

Chrysalis grinned. “I heard everything.”

She expected Diamond to get angry again. To start denying what Chrysalis had heard with her own two ears. Instead, Diamond just sighed and actually looked…remorseful?

“I was afraid this might happen,” Diamond said, looking at Chrysalis directly in the eyes. “I’m so sorry, Chrysalis.”

Those words brought Chrysalis’s entire planned speech to a screeching halt. “What?”

“Tell me, what exactly did you hear in the bathroom?”

“I seem to recall something about you only befriending me to get an in with Sunset Shimmer.”

“Right.” Diamond let out another long sigh. “You’re not wrong. When I initially invited you to our table, it was because I saw you—brand new to our school—talking to Sunset. And yes, when I found out you knew her, I had hoped you would introduce us. Maybe even vouch for me as someone with leadership qualities. But I should have been up front with you about that, and I am truly, deeply sorry if you ever thought that meant our friendship was fake.”

Diamond touched Chrysalis’s arm, not once breaking eye contact. “Just because I had something to gain from a friendship with you doesn’t mean I don’t want to genuinely be your friend.” She then glanced over at Silver. “Sure, some of us need a little time to warm up to you, but I think you’re cool. I love hanging out with you!”

Just like that, Chrysalis was no longer sure of what she was going to do next.

“What do you say we start over again?” Diamond suggested. “We can put the whole mess with Rover and Sweetie Belle behind us. Clean the slate. From now on, no more secrets. Nothing but total honesty…between all of us.”

Extending her hand, Diamond gave Chrysalis a winning smile. “What do you say? Friends?”

It was a tempting offer, and Chrysalis couldn’t taste any deception in Diamond’s words. It seemed like she was actually being genuine. And wouldn’t it be nice if Chrysalis got to keep her friends after everything that happened today?

Sodomy Sable takes phat cocks. There was that damn graffiti again, occupying her mind’s eye like an unwanted roommate. With it came memories of her talk with Sable in his office at the Blanks, and Chrysalis’s resolve returned. Chrysalis believed that Diamond was being straight with her…but now she was wondering if she only wanted to believe it.

“Tell me, Diamond,” Chrysalis said. “What happens the next time Sweetie Belle, or Apple Bloom or someone else does something to ruin your precious image?” she asked. “You gonna point me in their direction and say sic ‘em?”

“C’mon, we’re not like that, Chrys,” Diamond said.

Chrysalis wasn’t letting her talk her way out of this one. “So what then? Just gonna let bygones be bygones?”

There was a slight pause before Diamond answered. “I’d only ask you to do what anyone would do for a friend in their time of need.”

Chrysalis shook her head. “See, that doesn’t sound like real friendship to me. That sounds like a tyrant commanding their lackeys.”

“How do you even know what real friendship sounds like?” Diamond asked. “You told me yourself we’re the first friends you’ve really had.”

She has me there, Chrysalis thought.

“Ugh, why are you making this difficult?” Diamond groaned. “You’re arguing semantics over a situation that probably isn’t even going to happen!”

“But it will happen. Won’t it, Diamond?”

Diamond’s brow furrowed, some of the anger returning to the carefully crafted face of a friend. “You don’t know that.”

“But I do,” Chrysalis argued, feeling her resolve grow stronger still. “I may not be very experienced with friendship, but I have plenty with manipulative, narcissistic tyrants, and you are just like them!” Diamond’s façade slipped further and further as Chrysalis kept going. “It’s a good thing you’re just a kid without any real power, or you would be genuinely dangerous. Even so, I don’t want to be a part of your petty tyranny.”

With a “pfft,” Silver Spoon said, “Do you hear yourself? You’re talking like a goddamn crazy person. God you’re weird!”

Chrysalis ignored her and jabbed a finger at Diamond. “This is it. We’re done. I don’t want you or your lackeys to bother me ever again, and you know what? I don’t want you bothering Apple Bloom and her friends, either!”

With her piece said, Chrysalis turned to put her toxic former friend behind her, pausing only briefly to address Cozy Glow. She might have been a bit delusional when it came to matters of the heart, but Chrysalis was sure that everything else bad about her came from Diamond.

“They’re using you just like me. If you ever feel like getting out from under Diamond’s thumb, come talk to me.”

Cozy didn’t answer. As a matter of fact, Chrysalis noticed she had been extremely quiet throughout most of the confrontation. It was likely she was still processing everything she was hearing, as Chrysalis once again couldn’t taste any emotions from her. So, Chrysalis left without another word. At least, that had been the plan.


Chrysalis wasn’t about to take that lying down, so she stopped and turned around.

“That’s right! Why don’t you just ask Apple Bloom and the rest of those losers about the living hell I can turn your life into?” Diamond grinned. “Because guess what? It’s about to get a whole lot worse for them now, and they’ll have you to thank for it!”

Chrysalis had been hoping to at least part on peaceful terms. Now, not only would it seem she had just made a new enemy, but Apple Bloom and the others were about to catch hell for it as well. Chrysalis knew she had to do something about it now.

You know what you have to do, the Little Voice in her head whispered. You need to teach these grubs who the real Queen is.

Chrysalis strode up to Diamond, watching as the furious grin on her face slowly started to give way to alarm. Chrysalis was a good head taller than Diamond, as she was with most girls her age, and she made that as clear as she could when she stood at her full height mere inches from Diamond, looking down at her.

“You've got it backwards, Diamond. You have no idea who you just made enemies with. The truth is, I’m actually as dangerous as you wish you were.” Chrysalis leaned in closer to her boring through the other girl’s eyes. “And if you try to make a move against me or Apple Bloom’s friends, I will fucking kill you.

Diamond scoffed, but the slight tremor in her voice revealed that she believed it, at least on some level. “You’re just talk.”

With lightning speed, Chrysalis grabbed Diamond by the throat one-handed and squeezed.

“Hey! HEY!” Silver gasped, rushing forward to pull her off of her friend. Chrysalis effortlessly tossed her back with her other hand without breaking eye contact with Diamond. Cozy just stood off to the side, watching the whole thing go down from a safe distance.

“You don’t know a thing about me, Diamond,” Chrysalis said as the girl in her grasp began gasping for air. “I’ve taken lives before. It’s remarkable how easy it gets after the first few times. Killing you right now would barely even require any effort….”

Chrysalis held Diamond’s throat just a little longer, grinning wide and allowing Diamond to catch a glimpse of her changeling fangs, revealing them with a subtle touch of her shapeshifting power. Chrysalis waited until she could see the raw, primal fear of one looking death in the face before finally releasing her. Diamond collapsed to the ground, coughing and gasping for breath as Silver and Cozy looked on in disbelief.

Chrysalis never actually intended to kill her, of course. Chrysalis had sworn to herself the day she had saved Ms. Celestia’s life that she would never kill again. But Diamond and her friends didn’t need to know that.

“Stay out of my way,” Chrysalis said as she stood over the trembling, wide-eyed Diamond Tiara. “Or else next time, I won’t stop.”

Chrysalis turned and walked away again, and this time Diamond gave no parting remark. Chrysalis ignored the voice that told her she should have just ended the miserable runt once and for all.

She did, however, catch a whiff of the telltale scent from the puddle Diamond was making on the ground.

When Chrysalis arrived home that evening, she found Sable in the living room, grading the assignments he’d grabbed from his office at the Blanks that morning. The TV was on but muted, playing a game of baseball that Sable occasionally glanced up at.

“Hey Chrys,” he greeted as she set her bag down. “Have a fun day at Olde Towne?”

“It…turned out to be a lot more drama than I would have liked,” Chrysalis said. “But I think everything worked out for the best.”

“Oh?” Sable set aside the homework he was grading and looked up at her. He didn’t look suspicious of her, or on the verge of getting angry at her like he had the other night, but Chrysalis still felt reluctant to tell him about her day.

“Um…would you be mad if I said I got in another fight?” Nevertheless, Chrysalis was smart enough not to try to hide anything from Sable. That and…she wanted to talk to him about it.

Sighing, Sable said patiently, “I’d be less mad if you were completely honest with me.”

So, taking a deep breath, Chrysalis told Sable about the events of the day, including what she overheard in the bathroom, her fight with Rover, and subsequent confrontation with her so-called “friends.” At some point she’d sat down on the couch next to Sable, who listened patiently and silently until she was finished.

“Have to say, I’m not thrilled that you managed to get into two fights in as many days,” Sable said, and Chrysalis’s eyes found their way to the floor. “But.” Chrysalis looked back up at him. “I understand better than most that there are times when you need to stand your ground. In this case, I think you made the right call. And it’s good that you decided to cut ties with those girls. I had a bad feeling from the moment I met them yesterday.”

Chrysalis frowned and fidgeted her fingers. “Still…I probably could have done it without choking out Diamond.”

“I won’t argue with that.”

“Does that mean I’m going to get punished for this on top of what happened yesterday?” Chrysalis asked. “Double-grounded? Is that a thing?”

“Celestia and I talked for a long time after I dropped you off. She wanted to ground you for all of next week,” Sable said. “But having met your ‘friends’ yesterday, I told her it was more likely that you got pulled into a confrontation you wanted no part of.” Then he sighed. “I probably wouldn’t have raised my voice at you last night if I’d realized that then, of course. I’m sorry for that.”

Chrysalis nodded and Sable continued. “Anyway, with that in mind, we decided not to punish you this time.

“And today’s incident?”

Sable smiled. “It’ll be our secret.”

Chrysalis returned his smile. “Thanks.”

“But three strikes and you’re out, okay?”

Getting off scot-free still sat poorly with Chrysalis, so after some thought she offered, “If it’s all the same to you, I’d like to do a couple of days in ‘parent jail’ next week anyway.”

Sable tilted his head, and Chrysalis said, “Look, I want to prove that I’m really trying, okay?”

“Just the fact that you said that is already proof enough, Chrys,” Sable said. When Chrysalis refused to back down, he raised his hands in defeat and said, “Okay, if it’s that important to you, you’re grounded until Wednesday, young lady!”

Chrysalis giggled, “Thanks.”

“Y’know, you’re probably the first kid in history to thank her folks for grounding her.”

The two of them had a good chuckle at that. It didn’t even occur to Chrysalis that she’d all but referred to Celestia and Sable as her parents just then. She then remembered why she’d wanted to tell him about what happened today in the first place.

“The decision I made today…I think I owe it to you,” she said.

“What do you mean?”

“‘Sodomy Sable takes phat cocks.’”

Excuse me?” Sable exclaimed, furrowing his brow. “Am I gonna have to double-ground you for real?”

“It’s the graffiti. The one we saw where you work?” Chrysalis hastily corrected herself, and Sable nodded, suddenly remembering. “It kept popping into my head when I was about to beat up those two kids for Diamond Tiara. I didn’t know why at first, but I think it had something to do with what you said this morning. About the kid who probably wrote it.”

“Okay. You’ll have to remind me what I said,” Sable told her, glancing over at the still ungraded schoolwork on the small table next to the couch. “This morning was a long time ago.”

“You said that the only thing worse than the kind of kid who would write…that…was the kind of kid who could make others do it,” Chrysalis said. “At the time I thought you were talking about me. Thought you were telling me ‘I know what you are’ or something. But you were warning me about Diamond Tiara, weren’t you?”

Another thought suddenly occurred to Chrysalis then. “Was that the whole reason you showed me the Blanks in the first place? Were you…‘scaring me straight’?”

With an impish smile, Sable said, “I had a feeling you’d figure it out. You’ve got a good head on your shoulders, Chrys.” Without thinking, Sable reached over and patted her hand, having momentarily forgotten her discomfort at being touched. And the weird thing was, so did Chrysalis.

“The decision you made today…you don’t owe it to me,” Sable continued. “I did what I could to give you that push in the right direction, but the rest of it was all you. Give yourself more credit!” Sable was then looking somewhere past her. “Trust me…I know how hard it is to let go of a friend after you realize they aren’t the person you thought they were.”

Sable didn’t elaborate any further than that, and Chrysalis didn’t ask him to. It was around that moment Chrysalis realized her hand was still in his, and what surprised her the most was the realisation that she was the one holding on to him. Noticing what Chrysalis was looking at, Sable quickly pulled his hand away.

“Sorry,” he said, clearing his throat. “I forgot you’re not comfortable with that yet.”

“No, it’s okay.” Chrysalis then realized now was a good time to clear the air between them on this point. “For the record, it’s nothing personal. You’re a good man, Sable. I know you really care about me, and I don’t hate you, it’s just….”

“It’s just my counterpart in Equestria, right?”

Chrysalis nodded. “I only ever met him a few times, but…he hurt me. Not quite to the extent that King Sombra hurt me, but…his was…a different kind of hurt. I know I-I’m not making much sense….”

“That’s okay. If you don’t want to talk about this….”

“But I do. I need to say it.” Taking a deep, trembling breath Chrysalis looked at him and said, “He was one of the officers who raped me while I was under the influence of Sombra’s mind control drug. That whole period of my life is just a fuzzy, nightmarish haze to me now, but he’s one of the ones I still remember.”

“I’m so sorry,” Sable said, looking at her with sad, empathetic eyes that set him far, far apart from his long dead counterpart.

“You don’t have to apologize for anything. I know it’s not your fault. You can’t choose who you look like; that’s my thing.” The two of them shared a brief smile at that. “But it’s gonna take me some time before I’m ready to…to let you in.”

“I understand. I’ll be here whenever you’re ready,” Sable said with a loving, paternal smile. “Okay?”

Chrysalis smiled back, her heart (and by extension her stomach) full of the love she could feel from Sable. Exhausted from the day—both physically and emotionally—Chrysalis put her feet up, leaned back into the couch and closed her eyes. As she started to doze off, she found herself thinking of her father: of the Tuscan nobleman who’d brought her into the world. He’d never really been a father to her; to him she was just a tool to be used for him to secure an alliance with another house. Ultimately it had been as much him as that bastard Baldassare that put her in the clutches of a dark unicorn from another world. She’d never even thought about what it would be like to have a real father since then, but after talking with Sable…the idea made her happy.

About half an hour later, Celestia arrived home carrying two bags of groceries. She intended to recruit the help of Sable and Chrysalis to help her unload the rest of them from her car, but one look at the scene in the living room made her decide that the rest of the groceries could keep a little while longer. Chrysalis was fast asleep on the couch, her head leaning on Sable’s shoulder, and what was more, she appeared to be sleeping peacefully, un-plagued by nightmares.

When Monday rolled around, Chrysalis felt like it was her first day all over again; she was all alone. She passed Diamond and her friends in the hall once or twice, but neither party said a word to the other. Seeing the other students talking to each other about whatever they did over the weekend filled Chrysalis with a pang of loneliness, but she would endure. She’d lived with loneliness for one thousand years, and she preferred it to being somebody’s tool any day.

At lunchtime, Chrysalis ate alone in one of the stalls in the girls’ bathroom. When she was finished, Chrysalis only went back to the cafeteria to return her tray. It was then that a familiar girl’s voice called out to her.

“Hey Chrys!”

A certain girl with red hair and a pink bow got up from a nearby table and went over to her. “There you are! I was hopin’ to talk to you.”

Chrysalis had a feeling she knew what about but prompted Apple Bloom to go on anyway. “Sweetie told us what happened at Olde Towne over the weekend. She’s really grateful to you. Hell, we all are!”


Apple Bloom nodded, her big pink bow bouncing comically. “Yeah, the way you fought to protect her and Button is practically all she’s talked about. If I didn’t know better, I’d say she was into you!”

Chrysalis did know better and just shrugged. “Tell her it was no problem.”

She was about to continue on her way when Apple Bloom said, “Or you could tell her yourself.”

“Come again?”

Apple Bloom nodded a little past her, and Chrysalis didn’t need to look to know she was gesturing in Diamond’s direction.

“I couldn’t help but notice you haven’t been hangin’ out with Diamond and her buddies today.” Apple Bloom frowned. “You two have a falling out because of what happened?”

Sensing she was being stared at, Chrysalis shot a hard glare in the direction of the table Diamond and the others were sitting at. The girl in question hurriedly pretended to check her phone.

“We came to an...understanding,” Chrysalis said.

“Well, do you want to sit with us then?” Apple Bloom asked. “I think Scootaloo’s been dyin’ to ask you about the fight.”

Chrysalis couldn’t keep herself from grinning. Sitting with them couldn’t be worse than sitting alone in the bathroom.

“I suppose I could regale you all with a tale.”

Still smiling, Chrysalis followed Apple Bloom to where her other two friends were seated.

“Hey,” Chrysalis said as she sat down. She decided it was best to lead with reparations for the previous Friday. “I’m sorry about what happened at the Corner, by the way. I had a...chat with Diamond Tiara. Suffice to say, she won’t be bothering you any time soon.”

“Nice. What’d you do, beat her up?” Scootaloo asked.

Looking at the disapproving looks Scootaloo was taking from Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle, Chrysalis said, “Not too badly.”

“Sweet! Did she cry?”

“Scoots!” Sweetie Belle hissed.

“No,” Chrysalis said with a grin. “But I believe she soiled herself.”

Scootaloo burst out in loud, obnoxious laughter and in spite of themselves, Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle giggled along with her. Chrysalis then began to describe her battle for Sweetie Belle’s honor, making sure to embellish as needed. Already she felt way more at ease with them than she ever had with Diamond, and Chrysalis found herself disappointed when the bell rang and they had to depart for their afternoon classes.

“Can I…” Chrysalis started, fighting her own self-consciousness to ask, “Can I sit with you guys tomorrow too?”

“You can hang out with us after school if you want,” Sweetie said. “We were gonna go over to Scootaloo’s place to study and play games.

Chrysalis looked down. “I’d like to, but I’m in ‘parent jail’.”

“Well, if you have a decent computer, I’ll talk you through installing the game,” Scootaloo said, taking out her phone. “Here, lemme have your number.”

Across the cafeteria, Diamond scowled in the direction of the four girls while everyone got up to go to their afternoon classes. As she did, Diamond subconsciously felt around her own throat, if only to remind herself that she could, in fact, still breathe. To think that I ever wanted to be friends with that…psycho!

Her last confrontation with Chrysalis before the former parted ways with her played on a loop in Diamond’s head. It was all she could think about for the rest of that past weekend.

Because the inescapable truth was, Diamond had been terrified. Never before had she felt so powerless—so helpless—than when that girl had her by the throat. She had thought Chrysalis was no more than some unfortunate kid from a broken home who had the pure dumb luck of being buddies with Sunset Shimmer. That perception had changed when Chrysalis had started choking her.

I’ve taken lives before…. Killing you right now would barely even require any effort….

Punks like her talked a big game all the time, but when Chrysalis said it, Diamond had been looking straight into her eyes, and her gut instinct said she wasn’t lying. They were a killer’s eyes, sure enough. Diamond also had thought she’d seen something else just behind them. Something dark and sinister hiding in the deepest recesses of Chrysalis’s very being.

And what was more, there were those teeth. Diamond knew she hadn’t just been seeing things, Chrysalis’s canines had grown into fangs, like she was some kind of….

Some kind of what, Diamond? A vampire? Get real! Even so, she couldn’t shake the image.


Nearly jumping in her seat, Diamond gave an impatient, “What?

Silver Spoon looked at her meekly. “I said, ‘are you coming?’ Classes are starting.”

How much time had she been lost in her thoughts? Most of the cafeteria had already emptied out, including the subject of Diamond’s disturbing thoughts. Cozy had already gotten up and was halfway to the exit when she turned and looked back at the still seated duo. After making eye contact with Silver, she merely shrugged and walked off to her next class.

“Are you feeling okay?” Silver asked. “You’ve been out of it since Saturday.”

“I’m fine!” Diamond growled, standing up from her seat. “But mark my words, we are not done!”

“Are you talking about…?”

“Chrysalis! That crazy bitch has a secret, and I’m going to use every connection at my disposal to find out what it is and ruin her!” Diamond grinned. “Starting today, I’m making her my special project!”