• Published 19th Mar 2021
  • 5,147 Views, 67 Comments

Five Weeks Of Deliberation - Jest

The five-second war is over, as have four weeks of careful deliberation and discussion. All that is left is for Equestria's elected officials to weigh in on their changeling problem. That shouldn't be hard, right?

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A House Of Fools

Author's Note:

Just a quick warning but I go into more worldbuilding/romcom territory with this story and its possible sequels. The comedic elements will always be there, but this is just more serious then the last one.

This is supported by the usual peeps, yada yada you know the deal.

Got a few new fics you should check out. Like Hostile History, and Swapping Scales

Chrysalis smiled smugly as she gazed out at the streets of Canterlot, excitable paparazzi tracking her through the carriage window. The small mob of ponies, gryphons, and various other creatures snapped pictures, yelled questions and generally irritated the former queen. Though she made sure not to show that annoyance, Chrysalis carefully maintaining her neutral expression.

Across from her sat Celestia, who was the only other occupant of the carriage, though the alicorn was busy reviewing documents. The pony’s nose had hardly left some paper or another since before they had even left, and Chrysalis was growing bored of the continued silence.

Not even the newspapers proudly proclaiming their support for the newly arrived changelings could lift Chrysalis’ mood. Though the small hit of superiority she got from knowing the general populace did not fear her changelings was good... It did not replace the pleasure Chrysalis usually got from teasing the alicorn, and occasionally gloating about her recent victories in the courts.

“So, how goes your desperate attempt to find a loophole that I did not?” Chrysalis inquired with a smirk.

Celestia didn't look up. “Oh I gave that up a while ago.”

Chrysalis’ smirk grew along with her feelings of superiority. “Ready to admit defeat then?”

“You still have the house of lords to convince you know,” Celestia pointed out. “They would need to agree on the activation of the war powers act in order to grant you the safe harbor you desire.”

Chrysalis scoffed. “Those squabbling officials were easily brought over by the promise of labor that demands only appreciation as compensation.”

“Most, yes,” Celestia remarked, marking something on a peice of paper before setting it aside. “But not all were so convinced.”

“Yes there are a few individuals who were not swayed, but that doesn't mean my victory is anything but assured,” Chrysalis proclaimed.

“Don't be so confident,” Celestia retorted. “Though I doubt all of the senators questioning you today will be a match for your intellect you would be a fool to underestimate Fancy Pants.”

Chrysalis scowled. “Let me guess, he was the one with the resplendent pantaloons?”

“No, that was lord Resplendent Pantaloons,” Celestia answered.

Chrysalis blinked. “You’re joking.”

Celestia smirked at the changeling over the top of the paper she had been pretending to read. “I might have been.”

Chrysalis shook her head. “I can never tell with you ponies. Your names are just so… ridiculous. This mare introduced herself as Angry Lavender and it took me twenty minutes before I realized that was the name of the perfume she was trying to sell me.”

“Ha, at least the scent wasn't called ‘perhaps’. That one confused me for days,” Celestia replied.

“Felt like I was in the middle of a Grey Abattoir and Brown Constable skit,” Chrysalis murmured.

Celestia raised an eyebrow. “You listened to that old radio show?”

“And watched their movies too,” Chrysalis remarked. “At first I was trying to understand the lingo of the time but I must admit that who’s on first bit really got me.”

“It was quite something wasn't it?” Celestia mused.

Chrysalis snorted irritably. “Regardless. Aren't you the least bit worried? If I win here you will be obligated to feed and house my changelings permanently.”

Celestia shrugged, and grabbed another scroll, unfurling the paper. “I suppose we will.”

Chrysalis’ frown grew, and she distracted herself by staring out the window and passively consuming a bit of the endless curiosity directed towards her. It was a small snack, though Chrysalis had grown rather intrigued by its flavor given how little she had experienced it. The changeling continued to ruminate on her future plans while watching the city pass her by until they finally passed a pair of iron gates.

Now within the grounds of the house of lords, the paparazzi were gone, and Chrysalis could look around freely. Not like she would debase herself in such a way and end up looking like some kind of tourist, but the option was there. Her own changeling guard which walked behind the carriage were a little less disciplined then the former queen however.

“Oooh I wonder if they’ll let me take a picture next to the clock tower,” one of them remarked.

Silence fool. Chrysalis mentally commanded. If you’re good you can come back and do your best impression of a witless child later.

With no other distractions, Chrysalis waited patiently until they stopped at the entrance to the grand structure. Towering spires and ancient edifices covered the exterior of the building, the antique beauty striking even Chrysalis. Who thought to herself how wasteful it would have been had she listened to her idiotic advisor that had recomended an invasion.

Then again his name was Cannon Fodder so I probably should have seen that coming. Chrysalis thought to herself.

“Ma’am, your highness,” greeted a guard, who had opened the carriage door before stepping aside. “The lords await you.”

“Excellent. Go ahead Chrysalis,” Celestia offered.

Chrysalis smirked. “You just want an excuse to inspect my carapace.”

“It is rather shiny. Though I’m curious if it is as supple as your lips,” Celestia remarked with a smirk of her own.

Chrysalis stumbled a step before walking outside where she was greeted by her guards, who were doing their best not to smile. Not a word. Chrysalis commanded.

The alicorn was quick to follow the former queen, and together along with their guards, they entered into the building. Where an assistant stood waiting, the small completely brown pony moving to the forefront of the group and silently leading the way. Together they made their way to the chamber, the gathered lords standing the second Celestia entered the room.

Chrysalis moved to sit near the forefront of the room, striding with all the confidence of a predator among prey. Though she heard some of the whispers being exchanged amongst the gathered ponies, Chrysalis cared not. She was a queen victorious, and was determined to act as just that.

Celestia meanwhile seemed distracted, constantly reviewing papers and plans with her assistant who followed the alicorn all the way to the base of the throne. Which was where the alicorn flopped into, not with the grace of a ruling monarch, but with the distracted, somewhat sleep deprived awkwardness of an overworked wage slave. A sight which made Chrysalis nervous for reasons the changeling couldn't wholly come to grips with.

“Greetings my fellow lords,” bellowed a barrel chest earth pony who sat directly in front of Celestia. “I don't think I need to remind any of you why you are here.”

“I think that should be obvious, mister speaker,” barked a garish, elderly tuxedo clad unicorn who sat on the benches to the first stallion’s right.

“Which is why I think we should just jump right into it. If her majesty approves,” offered the earth pony.

Celestia waved a dismissive hoof, not looking up from the scroll she was frantically writing on.

“That answers that,” he muttered. “Now let us begin with the debate period. Opposition leader Gerry Mander. You have the floor.”

The rather fluffy old unicorn rose on shaky legs. “Yes well. I believe I speak for everyone when I question the use of the safe harbor act.”

Chrysalis kept her features stoney as the room whispered amongst themselves, noting absently that the opposition’s opponents were strangely silent. Fancy Pants, who sat at their head, was similarly neutral, his gaze flicking occasionally to Celestia, as if waiting for a sign. He also felt little emotion save for anticipation, as well as what tasted like pride, but Chrysalis wasn't sure due to just how many ponies were around him.

“These invaders seek to take advantage of our harmonious nature and mooch off of Celestia’s wealth like a pack of hungry weasels,” the unicorn continued. “They are venomous little leeches that will suckle at the unearned teet of our economy like the swarm of ravenous illegals they are!”

“Get to the point Gerry,” interrupted the burly earth pony speaker. “Celestia has proclaimed this a debate period, not a grandstanding period.”

The old stallion blinked several times. “I er… where was I?”

An aide quickly whispered in his ear.

“Ah yes, the unwashed masses which have so been deposited on our shore,” Gerry Mander exclaimed. “We must oust them, and to that end I posit this.”

He paused for dramatic effect, which seemed to had very little effect save to sap the patience of everyone.

“They never declared war, thus they could not surrender!” he proclaimed, raising a hoof into the air.

“And how do you respond ex queen Chrysalis?” offered the speaker.

Chrysalis rankled a little at being referred to as such, but stowed that feeling deep down in her belly. Which was where she stowed all of her other terrible urges which included but were not limited to; tearing Gerry Mander’s ridiculous white wig from his head and making him eat it.

“Simple,” Chrysalis exclaimed, rising out of the too small chair. “To assault a reigning monarch of Equestria is in itself an act of war.”

“Where does it say that?” Gerry Mander demanded gruffly.

“Bill addendum twenty three C of the Equestria protections act of thirteen sixty five,” Chrysalis replied.

“Is that true?” Gerry Mander inquired, turning to an aide, who shrugged. “What do you mean you don't know? Go find out!”

“It is quite true unfortunately,” Fancy Pants exclaimed. “It was that law which started the spilled jasmine tea crisis of fourteen seventy nine.”

“Nice,” someone whispered.

The elderly unicorn stallion frowned, and seemed about to argue the fact before the same aide returned. “Oh well then… in that case I have a counterpoint.”

“Go ahead minority Leader Mander,” declared the speaker.

“This supposed assault happened when only the bug and her buglings were in the room with Celestia and her assistant,” Gerry proclaimed. “If Celestia disagreed with the course of events it would only be her word vs that of an admitted terrorist.”

“Thus?” offered the speaker humorlessly.

“Thus there might not have been any offence in the first place. Meaning no act of war was made,” Gerry continued, glancing expectantly to Celestia. “Provided Celestia offers a counterpoint to the buglet’s assertion.”

“Okay one, bug is a slur, and two, to assert otherwise would be a lie,” Chrysalis proclaimed, inwardly sweating when she realized how shaky the grounds she stood on truly were.

“I think we should hear what Celestia has to say,” Gerry retorted.

Celestia continued whispering with her aide, and was only startled out of her private conversation by a polite cough by the speaker.

“What now?” Celestia murmured.

The aide quickly whispered in her ear.

“Oh uh no. That totally happened,” Celestia remarked, waving a dismissive hoof at the gathered lords. “Continue.”

Chrysalis had to resist the urge to let her jaw fall open, though she did cast a curious glance at Celestia. Who was even now seemingly oblivious to the dozens of hushed conversations going on all around her.

“Is that your only point, Mister Mander?” asked the speaker.

The elderly unicorn frowned, and narrowed his eyes. “No mister speaker. I have one more damning question not for the bugling but rather this room.”

“Rather unorthodox, but go off I guess,” declared the earth pony.

“My question to you oh mares, and ponies I actually respect, is this. Why should we accept her offer of surrender in the first place?” Gerry offered, raising his eyebrows dramatically.

“Because to go to war with someone who has already surrendered is against the geneva code,” Chrysalis pointed out, while hiding a small hint of doubt coiling around her heart.

“Those are more suggestions than anything,” Gerry retorted.

Chrysalis watched curiously as Celestia’s aide sprinted from the alicorn’s side to where Fancy Pants’ assistant stood nearby. The other pony then subtly worked his way back to his employer’s right, where he quickly whispered the message given to him.

“Actually I think I have an answer to that question,” Fancy Pants offered, standing up from his spot. “For you see not only is it against the code, but our own laws don't allow us to turn away such a declaration of surrender.”

“Not more legal shenanigans,” Gerry Mander muttered bitterly. “You can't keep waving that law degree over all our heads.”

“That's not the only thing going over your heads,” whispered a pony.

“Who said that?” Gerry demanded.

“The law was the sixteenth amendment to the war powers act,” Fancy Pants continued. “And it states thusly.”

The stately stallion cleared his throat. “If a head of state offers unconditional surrender to an elected representative or a head of state directly, that such an offer must be accepted.”

“Aha, but that unconditional surrender can contain a demand to wave the enactment of the safe harbor act,” Gerry replied after his assistant informed him of just that.

“Actually that's a special action and cannot be responded to. As such it goes through before we can do anything,” Fancy Pants retorted, the stallion smiling briefly before schooling his expression and sitting back down.

Chrysalis blinked, a little shocked to see that she hadn't had to offer a word yet already the room turned back in her favor.

“I- you, wait,” Gerry Mander huffed and puffed for several seconds before sitting back down. “I really should have finished grade school.”

“Does anyone else have a reason why we should not allow the use of the safe harbor act?” the speaker pressed.

Chrysalis smirked, noting the clear lack of confidence as well as antagonism in the air.

“Actually I have a few questions for Chrysalis,” Fancy Pants began.

“Go ahead sir Pants,” the speaker replied.

Chrysalis glanced from the unicorn to Celestia, noting the way they were looking at one another. The alicorn subtly tapped her desk twice before nodding to the stately stallion, who smiled faintly. It was an incredibly small, and well obstufacted set of actions, ones only noticeable by Chrysalis due to her centuries of espionage.

“If this house is forced to allow the use of the safe harbor act and your changelings are fed and cared for. What will you do next?” Fancy Pants inquired.

“I don't see what that has to do with anything,” Chrysalis muttered.

“Call it a professional curiosity,” Fancy Pants offered.

Chrysalis frowned, and gazed from the stallion, to the alicorn. “I merely wish to give my changelings the chance to live without having to worry about the hunger which gnaws at us all.”

“So it is fair to say that you simply wish to give them a prosperous future?” Fancy Pants offered.

“I do,” Chrysalis replied somewhat truthfully. Though not the whole truth, it should be close enough.

Fancy Pants cast a sideways glance at Celestia, who subtly nodded her head.

“So you could confidently say that you have no plans to undermine our democratic process, or take control of Equestria from within?” Fancy Pants continued.

Chrysalis gasped, and placed a hoof over her heart. “My only desire is to give my children a better life than the one their forebears had. All else is secondary.”

“How noble,” murmured a pony.

“She reminds me of me mum,” muttered another.

Again Chrysalis noticed the unicorn and Celestia exchanging a look, this time the alicorn nodded, and stood up. She then slipped out through a previously unseen side door, leaving the room without having uttered a word.

“Is that all the questions our party leaders have?” asked the speaker.

“It is,” declared Fancy Pants.

“I guess so,” murmured Gerry Mander.

“Then by special permission given by Celestia herself. We will now open up questions to the peanut gallery,” the speaker announced.

Chrysalis blinked. “Wait what?”

“My question is for the pony with the holes. You a dude, a chick, or both at the same time?” asked a slate grey earth pony from the observation row.

“Ummm…. Yes?” Chrysalis murmured.

“Hot damn,” he exclaimed with a grin.

“Are you more insect or more pony?” questioned a bespectacled pegasus mare.

“I’m not sure how you would quantify that,” Chrysalis admitted. “We would need to-”

“ARE YOU A COMMUNIST?” shouted a pot bellied unicorn with a stump like horn.

“I do not ascribe to any pony notion of governance,” Chrysalis replied.

“I don't know what half those words mean,” muttered the stallion. “Seems kinda suspicious to me.”

Chrysalis sighed, and ran a hoof down her face. “No. I am not a communist.”

“Is it true you can turn into anything?” shouted a young filly who was only just barely tall enough to peek over the railing. “What about my stuffed bear Wiggles?”

“I’m sure I could, though I’m not sure what that has to do with anything,” Chrysalis murmured.

“Are you from Equiss?” shouted gangly young pegasus colt with glasses as thick as coke bottles.

“Of course I am,” Chrysalis exclaimed. “Where do you think I’m from. The moon?”

“Aha so you admit your from the moon then! I knew that creepy guy on the internet was right! She's actually a nightmare spawn!” proclaimed the youth in an exuberant fashion.

“Wait no I didn't-” Chrysalis began.

“Are you or are you not a nightmare spawn?” shouted Gerry Mander.

Chrysalis sighed, and ran a hoof down her face. I’ll get you for this Celestia. Provided I don't strangle every single last pony in this room and get tossed in a dungeon somewhere.

Chrysalis punched open the door to Celestia’s office, a victorious expression on her face and a manic look in her eye. “I win, do you hear me? I won!” Chrysalis shouted.

Celestia blinked, and looked up from her document strewn desk to where Chrysalis stood in the door, breathing heavily.

“Oh? So the safe harbors act was indeed used. Interesting,” she muttered before looking back down again.

Chrysalis’s shoulders fell slack. “How can you act so blase about this? I’ve cost your country millions of bits, and have fundamentally thrown off the balance of power for generations to come!”

“Change can be rather scary can't it?” Celestia muttered absently.

“Cut the act Celestia,” Chrysalis demanded, pounding a hoof into the alicorn’s desk. “You’ve lost more than just some face today. Not only did your government acknowledge my victory but your own people have as well.”

A smile grew on the former queen’s face. “In fact even now they clamber to feed my changelings, allowing them to grow strong once more.”

“Thats nice,” Celestia remarked, stamping something before setting it aside.

Chrysalis growled. “Don't tell me you’re such a masochist that you enjoy losing!”

Celestia stopped, set aside the scroll she had been inspecting and folded her forelegs before her. “And who says I’ve lost?”

“Of course you have,” Chrysalis retorted. “Your people have donated thousands of bits, and literal tons of love to my cause.”

“A commendable action to be sure. Now no changeling shall go hungry,” Celestia exclaimed.

Chrysalis grit her teeth. “Drop the act Celestia. Such bold faced acting is beneath you.”

“I am not acting,” Celestia stated simply, opening her forehooves. “But I can see that is not enough to satisfy you.”

“You would not have fought me so hard before if this was not a ruse,” Chrysalis exclaimed, sitting across from the alicorn.

“Unless I realized just how in need your people were and instructed the papers to run stories sympathetic to your cause,” Celestia posited.

“There were no papers which did not side with my changeling. That would be an illegal monopoly,” Chrysalis exclaimed.

“It would be. Had I not officially cut ties with my former companies nearly two hundred years ago,” Celestia replied.

Chrysalis frowned. “I still won.”

Celestia chuckled as she rose from her desk. “Yes you did though you only did so at my discretion.”

“What? But I outwitted you!” Chrysalis sputtered.

“Your entire plan hinges on one small technicality,” Celestia began, raising a hoof. “One that would unravel your entire scheme should it have been brought to light.”

Chrysalis’ eyes narrowed. “And just what would that be?”

“That you ruled a nation,” Celestia replied simply.

The changeling scoffed, crossing her forehooves over her chest. “Of course I did. I rule over the badlands, and have thousands of loyal citizens.”

“Oh, and what nation recognizes your authority?” Celestia inquired, the alicorn walking up to the changeling with a smirk on her face. “What country acknowledges your ownership of said lands, hmm?”

“I need not the recognition of any pathetic country!” Chrysalis shouted, the changeling attempting to rise from her chair.

Only to be pushed right back down by a grinning Celestia. “Then you own nothing, and are a queen of nothing. You rule a band of nationless creatures without a country to call home. Which means you aren't, nor ever were, a queen.”

Chrysalis’ growl died in her throat. “What are you getting at Celestia?”

“I mean exactly what I said. You are not a queen, nor a leader of a nation. Meaning you can no more declare war on Equestria then a timberwolf can declare war on the moon,” Celestia exclaimed. “This entire thing could be undone with a word.”

Chrysalis’ eyes narrowed. “Then I must remove all who know this information. Like that fool Fancy Pants you were communicating with during that sham of a debate period.”

“But-” Celestia quickly interjected, raising a hoof. “Then you wouldn't find out what I’ve been planning.”

Chrysalis’ horn glowed brightly for several seconds before finally flickering out. “Which is?”

Celestia stepped back, and carefully swept her papers to the side, revealing a map. “You need a hive. Which means you need Equestrian land.”

“That much should be obvious,” Chrysalis murmured, crossing her forehooves over her chest.

“But nearly all land has been settled, are being used, or has been otherwise claimed,” Celestia exclaimed. “All save for one prime spot.”

Chrysalis looked down to where the pony was pointing, only to scowl. “The Everfree forest is inhospitable and worthless.”

“Inhospitable maybe, but worthless? Absolutely not,” Celestia replied. “In fact it has rich reserves of minerals, prime locations for logging, and a vast wetland brimming with unique creatures.”

“Unique creatures which would devour my changelings,” Chrysalis retorted.

“Nothing you can't handle,” Celestia remarked with a smile. “And without the need for farmland or food production you could create an entire settlement without the worries that a modern pony city would.”

Chrysalis frowned, doubt growing at the back of her mind. “Even if I were to settle in such a place. I would need a staging ground and a home for my changelings in the meantime.”

Celestia smiled. “Then it is a good thing that I have officially reclassified the crystal caves as the official changeling temporary residence.”

“Wait, all of it?” Chrysalis muttered.

“Just about all, yes,” Celestia explained. “With the mines having dried up generations ago, the place has long since been abandoned and used only as a warehouse for the equestrian government.”

Celestia smiled as she seated herself back at her desk. “Here you could establish yourself, and create a base of operations while your changelings begin to scout the Everfree.”

“That is a… bold plan,” Chrysalis agreed.

“One which carefully sidesteps the possibility of ponies opposing the construction of a hive while also making it appear as though you are doing Equestria a service,” Celestia pointed out.

“By taming the last wild frontier and opening up opportunities for logging, and mining,” Chrysalis continued, eyebrow raising. “I assume there are plenty of natural cavers and ample darkness just beneath the forest floor?”

“A great many,” Celestia replied. “Perfect for a changeling hive.”

“So if I were to construct my hive there that would make me what… a baroness?” Chrysalis mused.

“A duchess actually, though the title is irrelevant and you may choose either,” Celestia replied.

“This is all quite… mutual for lack of a better word,” Chrysalis murmured. “Would I have the right to develop this duchy as I saw fit?”

“The crown owns all lands, and thus has claims on all natural resources therein, though if your changelings were the only power in the area it would make sense to grant them those rights,” Celestia replied, a smile growing on her face.

A sly smile slowly spread across Chrysalis’ face. “That is downright dastardly. I love it.”

“Excellent,” Celestia remarked. “Then we are in agreement?”

“I have just one question though,” Chrysalis began gesturing to the papers, scrolls and map before her. “Why do all this? You could have just as easily stuffed us in camps and fought me tooth and nail for even the most basic of necessities.”

“Simple,” Celestia replied with a shrug. “You need help, and my ponies can give you that help.”

“I’m sensing a but in there,” Chrysalis retorted.

“Oh so your still looking at it?” Celestia teased, wiggling her rump in emphasis.

Chrysalis’ cheeks turned a faint green. “I wasn't- you…” her gaze narrowed. “Well played.”

Celestia chuckled as she stood once more and rounded the desk. “But to answer your question. It's because you surprised me, and challenged me in a way that no one else has managed to do in a good number of centuries.”

Chrysalis’ blush grew as Celestia’s hooves settled on either side of the changeling’s head, the alicorn’s breath now hot on her neck.

Celestia leaned forward, whispering into the changeling’s ear. “You have managed to push me to be better like none have been able to. You are an equal like none I have met before.”

Chrysalis opened her mouth to respond, but was surprised when the alicorn planted a brief kiss on the changeling’s cheek.

“Keep it up baroness Chrysalis,” Celestia whispered before pulling back.

By the time Chrysalis recovered, the alicorn had left the room, leaving Chrysalis alone with her confusion. A tentative hoof touched her cheek before recoiling, the former queen marveling at the flavor of Celestia’s affection which hung heavy in the air. Intoxicating, powerful, the emotion was entrancing in a way that no other could quite compare.

“This changes things,” she murmured.