• Published 29th Jun 2023
  • 5,580 Views, 160 Comments

Run Without Debugging - RunicTreetops



After a misunderstanding, you end up sustaining a serious injury while trying to protect Chrysalis. Now, the ex-queen is on the run, carrying you with her as your time among the living grows short.

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The New Hive

"...H-huh?"

You begin to tremble as you slowly look down at yourself. Steam gently pours out of the golf-ball-sized hole that goes straight through your chest. You bring a shaky hand to the hole and feel a hot liquid begin to gush out of it. Why... why do you not feel any pain? You slowly glance behind you, seeing Chrysalis look at you with shaky, terrified eyes. You look back in front of you to see Twilight, Applejack, and Rainbow Dash all staring back at you, their faces white as sheets and their mouths agape. A bit of familiar-looking steam still emanates from Twilight's horn.

Suddenly, your vision begins to grow blurry. You lose feeling in your legs, and as your eyes begin to close against your will, you can see the ground rapidly approaching. The last thing you hear before losing consciousness is Chrysalis yelling out your name.

How...? How did it come to this?


After her argument with Ocellus and subsequent scolding from you, Chrysalis began to act differently. While still her usual, prideful self, she began acting less aggressive. She started saying things like "please" and "thank you," and she started to refer to you by name. Is it because she's finally started to reflect on her past actions? Or is it because she realized that she was at your mercy while sick? Either way, you found yourself dealing with conflicting feelings about it.

On one hand, that's good behavior. She's finally starting to act like a proper citizen instead of a wannabe despot. On the other hand, her motivations are still unknown to you. You didn't want to believe a lot of what Ocellus said about her, and yet their argument did little but prove Ocellus right. Chrysalis has done some horrible things. You knew that already. But to think that she really hasn't learned anything since then just made you so... frustrated, you supposed. Did you really do the right thing by making this deal with her? Is there really a chance that she will learn what it means to be a friend, or to truly love someone?

Well, if there's one thing you do know for sure, it's that your heart won't let you abandon her.

Your brain, on the other hand, knows that you can't let her get away with whatever she wants. You left the remedy that Ocellus gave you in the medicine cabinet, hidden away from Chrysalis until you were convinced that she had been "punished" enough. For about two weeks, you were in a strange state of flux. You still made sure that she had what she needed, and you still went into your bedroom at night so that she could feed on your love, but other than that, you were having a hard time convincing yourself to be around her. Heck, she probably doesn't even want you there, anyway. In stark contrast to a few weeks prior, where snuggling up with Chrysalis at night was the highlight of your day, you began to instead sleep on the couch, leaving her alone in your bedroom. It's probably better not to crowd around a sick changeling anyway, even if you can't catch her sickness.

However, two weeks after she had fallen ill, you were preparing to sleep on the couch once again after allowing Chrysalis to feed on your love when a creaking sound caught your attention. Your gaze was directed towards the basement door, which had opened a bit due to the draft coming in from a nearby window. You rolled your eyes and went to close it, but as your hand reached the handle, you stopped yourself. Although she has spent a lot of time in your bed, Chrysalis declared this basement her "new hive" after you made your deal, and she forbade you from ever entering.

Should you really be considering this? Isn't this an invasion of her privacy?

...

You shook your head. You knew what needed to be done. After the things she said to poor Ocellus, you couldn't be certain that she's actually maintaining her end of the deal anymore. Surely there's a reason why she didn't want you to go down there. You just needed to know what that reason was.

You opened the door as gently and quietly as you could before you crept through it, being careful to not let the steps on the other side creak as you did so. Once you had taken about eight steps down, you reached the bottom of the stairwell. It was pitch-black down there, and you felt around for the light that you knew was nearby. After a few seconds, you found it. With a click, the light came on, finally revealing Chrysalis's "hive."

...Huh. Well, that was unexpected.

You thought you were going to see... you know, changeling things. Holes in the walls, pods of goop, strange plants, that sort of thing. However, from what you could tell, your basement was largely untouched. Your old sofa was still resting against the wall, though it looked a bit more worn than you remember. Some old boxes for storage were still piled in the corner, and the bathroom was still unfinished, yet usable. You clicked your tongue as you began to inspect the room in greater detail. After all, if she really had nothing to hide, she wouldn't have forbade you from coming down here, right?

So, what was different? Well, the most obvious thing was an old log, which was resting on the floor in the corner next to some of your boxes. It looked extremely dusty and had some cobwebs on it, implying that it hadn't been touched in at least a month or two. Other than that, the boxes looked untouched and the sofa looked like it had been sat on. Hm.

After pondering why she wouldn't let you down there, you decided to take a seat on the sofa. As you did so, you received a bit more resistance from the cushion than you were expecting. You raised an eyebrow and stood up before turning around and removing the cushion. Beneath it were a few things. First and foremost, a large tome detailing changeling anatomy. You recognized that tome. You had borrowed it from the library at the School of Friendship. It had apparently been published less than a year ago by one of Thorax's friends back at the hive, who is apparently trying to make up for the lack of changeling literature that's readily available in Equestria. You thought you lost it, but it's clear now that it was stolen from right under your nose. You mindlessly flipped through the pages, and noted that two specific pages had creased corners.

The first page detailed the differences between light changelings and dark changelings. According to the author, a dark changeling becomes a light changeling when they simultaneously give and accept a certain amount of love from another/others. The process is extremely fast and done without any input from the changeling themself. There are both upsides and downsides to becoming a light changeling, however. Dark changelings are much sturdier than light changelings, but they also feel as though they are in a constant state of starvation, whether they're actually close to starving or not. Light changelings, meanwhile, are much more adaptable than their dark counterparts, but also susceptible to lovesickness. In contrast to dark changelings, light changelings never feel like they are hungry, but this can be a detriment as they also don't know when they really are starving.

The section ends with a footnote which states that the only known dark changeling left in Equestria is the deposed and reviled Chrysalis, the "figurehead behind the dark age of the Changeling Kingdom." You let out a sigh after reading that. Knowing that Chrysalis read that made you feel a bit bad, but... they aren't wrong.

The second page detailed the shapeshifting ability of changelings. According to it, changelings can shapeshift at will for a specific period of time. The amount of time depends on the age, experience, and magical capabilities of the changeling in question. Even young changelings can shapeshift for a minute or two, but particularly strong changelings can shapeshift for extended periods of up to a month. On top of that, the strongest changelings don't have a time limit at all. However, light changelings specifically might find themselves having difficulty shapeshifting if their emotional state is unstable. They are more likely to accidentally take on the appearance of things that they subconsciously associate with whatever they are feeling, making it more difficult for them to shapeshift into anything else. This also means that in instances where their emotional state aren't as susceptible to changes, such as when they are sleeping, they will simply maintain the form they were in when they fell asleep. You weren't sure why Chrysalis would need to read this, but you chose not to dwell on it too much.

Following the tome, there were a few pieces of parchment and a quill. Most of the sheets of parchment were blank, but one had some text on it. The hoofwriting wasn't very good, but it was still legible. It appeared to be a list of dates, beginning a little over a month prior and ending the day before Chrysalis got sick. Beneath each date was an interval of time. "July 9th - Two seconds." "July 10th - Four seconds." "July 11th - Five seconds." This pattern continued, with the interval increasing every so slightly every day until the final day said "Thirty minutes."

Not knowing what to make of the parchment, you shifted your gaze at the last item, which was the most puzzling. It appeared to be a loose photograph of you alongside some of your friends after saving Ponyville from a dread maulwurf. Last you checked, that picture was among many like it in a collage hanging in your living room that Fluttershy made for you. Why did Chrysalis take it?

Flipping it over, you found a curious sight. On the back of the photograph, there were several crudely drawn figures. The first figure looked a bit like Twilight, but with Chrysalis's mane. The next looked similar, but with a much cleaner mane than Chrysalis is known for. The one after that was a bit taller, with a body shape more in line with what many consider to be a "model figure." This pattern continued until you reached the seventh figure, which didn't look like any pony you'd ever seen. Despite the fact that it was a rough sketch, it was obvious that the mare pictured was supposed to be extremely beautiful.

However, even more curiously were the figures following that one. The next figure appeared to be a drawing of you, but with Chrysalis's hair. And just like with the drawings of the mares, it was followed by several more figures that each looked to be a vague approximation of a human woman. To be honest though, they looked a bit uncanny, as if the artist had never seen what a female human looks like.

Which, in hindsight, was probably the case.

You weren't sure what to make of the things you found, but you did know one thing: Chrysalis was hiding stuff from you. It just wasn't anything... "villainous." With a sigh, you put everything back where you found it and departed from the basement, quietly closing the door behind you on your way out. You felt a bit bad for invading Chryssi's privacy, but at least you had confirmation that your trust wasn't entirely misplaced.

...Chryssi, huh? You hadn't called her that since your outburst a couple of weeks prior. You glanced at the nearby wall, where the picture collage rests. You walked over to it, admiring Fluttershy's work. Each picture has you and at least one of your friends. Most of them are you and Twilight, but many more contain Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Spike, and even Princess Celestia and Princess Luna in a couple of them. You chuckled as memories of your time in Equestria started rushing back. You've made a lot of really great friends here, and you love each and every one of them.

It was at that point that you realized one picture was missing: the photograph you found downstairs. As you realized that, a second realization dawned on you. There were no pictures of Chrysalis on there. That made some sense, of course. She never leaves the house, and you've known her for far less time than you've known someone like, say, Twilight. And yet, her not being on there felt... wrong.

A wave of guilt washed over you. Were you being too harsh on her? Who are you to decide how long she "deserves" to stay sick? Are you really setting a good example of what a friend should be?

...Hm.

You headed upstairs, but not before swinging by the medicine cabinet. You gently knocked on the door before entering the room. As you opened the door, you could have sworn you heard the distinct sound of Chrysalis shapeshifting. And yet, there she was, sitting upright in the bed and looking at you through the darkness. Her eyes glow in the dark. It's kind of creepy, but also kind of weirdly attractive?

"Hey, Chryssi. I brought you something."

"In the middle of the night?"

"Y-yeah. I managed to get some of that medicine Ocellus was talking about."

"Y-you did?!" Her voice was still stuffy and strained, but you could tell she was excited in the way she spoke. "I... I thought you weren't going to look for it anymore."

"Yeah, well, I changed my mind. You've... been through enough."

"...Th-thank you, Anon."

You smiled and brought the goop-filled jar over to the bedridden bug.

"Here. Supposedly you'll start feeling better within a few hours, hopefully by the time you wake up."

She eagerly took the jar from you and examined what little medicine there was inside. She stifled a cough as she forced it down her throat. Apparently, it was pretty gross. After a few seconds, she regained her composure and you took the jar from her, setting it on a nearby shelf.

"I hope that does it. I'm tired of being cooped up in here."

"Heh, you say that even though you haven't left the house in months." You gave her a smile. "Well, I guess I'll leave you alone now."

"W-wait."

"Hm?"

"We need to... er, I mean, I think we should..."

"Chryssi? You okay?"

She awkwardly cleared her throat, and even in the darkness you could tell that she was shifting around uncomfortably in the bed.

"As your queen, I demand that you sleep in here tonight. ...P-please."

That "please" was hardly a mumble, but you still caught it. There were probably a few better ways she could have asked that, but you didn't really care. Instead, you gave her a warm smile.

"Scoot over, bugbutt."