• Published 2nd Dec 2012
  • 19,513 Views, 726 Comments

Hybrids - Blarghalt

After an accident, Rarity and Twilight are thrown in a race against time to stop their transformation into changelings before they become part of Chrysalis' swarm forever.

  • ...

Stage 2: Infection

Rarity screamed so hard that she produced nothing but a dry raspy sound; her legs quaked and body shivered at the repugnant monster that stared her down in the mirror.

Eventually she quieted down and ever so cautiously walked up to the repulsive reflection of herself. She checked and checked again as she poured over every horrible detail.

"My hair is an absolute mess! It's going to take me hours to brush this out in the morning."

She turned the faucet's knobs to collect a pool of cold water and noticed something odd with her front left hoof.

Rarity brought it closer to her face and turned it, and when it was in full view her mouth dropped. In the middle of it, near the bottom, was a huge hole going right through her leg. With her other hoof, she pushed the tip of it as far as it would go into the hole before it stopped. She did indeed have a circle going through her flesh and bone.

"Huh." Rarity said flatly, which was closely followed by a second, even louder scream. Her eyes rolled back into her head and she tumbled to the floor in a frizzled heap.

The sun's rays hit Rarity's eyelids and jostled her from her impromptu sleeping place. She experienced a moment of confusion as she looked around her unintended bedroom before her memory returned.

She brought her hoof back in front of her. The hole was still there to mock all notions of how pony anatomy should work. She fought back another cry for help since he hole didn't seem to be from any kind of injury; it was almost as if someone had just blanked out a piece of her leg. It didn't really hurt either; the only thing that was actually sore was her head, which smarted quite fiercely.

The hospital was a possibility, but...No no no, they'd almost certainly see Rarity as the harbinger for some kind of horrible plague and quarantine her. The Carousel Boutique would likely be closed off, and she'd be out of business!

"Twilight!" she exclaimed, "She'll know what to do!"

She ran downstairs, but stopped herself at the door. Nopony would just ignore Rarity as she walked down main street with a hole going right through her; she needed some kind of cover. Luckily, the early winter months had already begun and many of the denizens of Ponyville had already started to bundle up. The unicorn ran back upstairs to put on her best boots and a modest sweater before she headed back downstairs.

"Mamma's going out for a while, Opal. Be a good girl while I'm gone!"

No reply came. She shrugged, opened the door to head outside, and closed it behind her. Had she not been in so much of a hurry, she might have noticed a terrified Opal backed into the corner of the room, no longer threatened by her owner but now full-on terrified.

Rarity plotted the least conspicuous course to the Golden Oaks Library. If all went well, she wouldn't have to run into another pony before she made it to Twilight to fix her illness. After all, it was probably nothing. Twilight probably had tons of books that were about holes in ponies, right?

Every noise seemed to startle her as she kept a low profile, and she was so absorbed in her own condition that she headbutted right into Fluttershy. The pegasus squeaked a soft 'ouch' when they both hit the soil.

"Oh my!" Fluttershy said as she struggled back up, "I'm so so sorry! I wasn't looking where I was going and I—"

Rarity waved her concerns away, "It's fine, dearie. What are you doing in this alley anyway?"

Fluttershy timidly kicked at the dirt. "Well, I always take this way back to my cottage. There's fewer crowds this way."

The fancier of the two dusted herself off and noticed that Angel was with Fluttershy as well. He stood on her back with folded arms; Rarity could feel the intensity of his beady stare. He didn't thump his foot on Fluttershy or in any way tell his owner about Rarity's condition, and for that she was silently grateful.

Rarity said her goodbyes to the pegasus as they went on their respective paths. She thanked Celestia when she saw the Golden Oaks Library and checked to see if no other pony was around. When she was sure she was alone, she knocked three times.

No answer. She knocked again, a little louder.

When she raised her hoof to begin a third round of knocks, the door swung open; she was pulled inside none-to-gently by a magical telekinesis field. The moment she was inside the library, the door slammed behind them. The field that held Rarity vanished and she landed on the ground before Twilight's face filled her vision.

The librarian's pupils were bloodshot, and the bags under her eyes told bounds about her exhaustion. Her mane was frizzled—even worse than Rarity's—and her left eye twitched. She also wore a bright blue scarf around her neck, even though the library was toasty.

"What!?" she demanded.

Behind her, Rarity noticed stacks of books piled over one another and it looked as though they had been flipped through before being ultimately discarded. Spike thumbed through one of the thicker ones as she addressed Twilight.

"Sorry to interrupt your, uh, studying, but I need your help with something."

Twilight lifted several books with her magic and pushed them onto Rarity. "Well there's a lot of help in these books. You should probably go home and read them and not stick around here! It's not like I'm trying to hide something!"

"Hide something? What are you hiding?"

Twilight covered her mouth and piled even more books onto Rarity. "Said too much! Here, here's every romance novel in the library! This one's about a werewolf made of diamonds! You like that, right?"

Rarity had a split second to react before she was locked out of her only opportunity of a cure. She thought fast and tried to pin the reason for Twilight's strange behavior.

"Twilight!" she yelled as she held out a hoof to stop her. "It...It's happening to you too, isn't it?"

The white unicorn was still suspended in air as Twilight looked at her with shock, "How—how do you know?"

Rarity pointed at the floor and Twilight complied as Rarity was slowly lowered to the floor. When Rarity had solid footing, she carefully removed the boot to the infected hoof and held it in front of her friend. "It showed up last night."

Twilight nodded and pulled down a part of her scarf. Instead of fur, there was shiny black chitin. "Spike heard me mumbling in my sleep and went to check on me. And he found this."

"By Celestia, Twilight, what's happening to us?"

Twilight took a deep breath. "Rarity, I really don't want to say it. What's going on here isn't documented in any history books, any medical journals, or any ancient tomes. I've ran every possible scenario. Rarity, we're turning into one of them."

Rarity attempted to brush off Twilight's conclusion with an alternate explanation. "You can't be serious Twilight. We probably just caught some exotic disease in that filthy room that guard found."

"Technically, you're right. I don't know how, I don't know why, but I know that changeling wing we saw has something to do with this. I'd go back to try and take him home to make some kind of cure, but it was almost certainly—"

"—destroyed in the fire." Rarity finished. "What are we going to do, Twilight?"

Twilight turned back to her books. "That's what I've been up all night trying to figure out. So far, all I've found are ways to exterminate changelings. And they're all...messy."

"Couldn't we write a letter to Celestia? She'll know what to do."

"No!" Twilight cried, "No. If we showed up in Canterlot looking like this, we'd be thrown in jail in no time. I think we're on our own here, Rarity."

"Twilight, we're turning into insects. Celestia's going to be a lot more upset if she finds out we both became monsters because you were too afraid to ask her for help."


"Twilight, it's not like we're going to be meeting her in person. Just write her a letter and explain what happened."

They both heard the sound of burning paper behind them, and turned to see a green wisp fly out the window.


"I had a letter ready an hour ago. I was going to wait until you told me to send it yours—" Spike explained before he was cut off by one of his loud belches, which produced a small wrapped scroll.

Rarity exhaled. "Oh thank goodness!"

The two crowded around Spike as he grabbed the hovering parchment and began to read it.

"Dear Sir or Madam or Species of Obscure Gender,

Their Royal Majesties Princess Celestia and Princess Luna are unavailable for contact at this juncture, as they are currently attending diplomatic duties in [REDACTED]. Please await two to four weeks for a reply, and—

Twilight crumpled the letter before Spike could finish. "Ugh! I hate that answering spell!"

"So I guess we're on our own, huh?"

Rarity helped read through the massive collection of books in the library, and at the same time kept a polite distance from Spike. The little dragon ignored his pile of books and was concentrating on admiring Rarity, staring at her with puppy dog eyes.

"Spike." Rarity warned without looking up from her book.

The dragon sighed as he picked up one of the medical dictionaries and began halfheartedly flipping through it. It didn't last long, however, as he stopped looking at the book and concentrated on Rarity.

Rarity's brow furrowed when she noticed Spike looking at her again. She opened her mouth to ask him to please focus on the books, but stopped herself; a large heart had appeared over Spike's head, glowing with a pink halo.

Rarity pointed to the object above his head, "Spike, what's that?"

Spike looked up. "Huh? I don't see anything."

"Twilight!" Rarity called after her friend, "Look at this!"

The unicorn looked up from her book. Her gaze also fixated on the floating heart and both unicorns walked up to inspect it.

"What is it?" Rarity asked.

Twilight flipped through a book she was holding in front of her, "Weird. Looks like that big heart we saw with Cadence and Shining Armor but...smaller."

"What are you guys talking about? All I see is the ceiling."

Rarity stuck out a hoof and poked the floating heart. It dissolved at her touch as it shrank and pink tendrils of energy flowed into Rarity. When the heart was completely gone, a burst of energy knocked her to the floor.

"Rarity!" Twilight yelled, coming to the aid of her friend and lifting her head off the floor. "Are you alright?"

"I'm fine, dear." Rarity replied. When she did, she noticed that she felt different, and looked down to see that another hole had appeared on her leg, this one going through the side of it. Rarity's shrill cry pierced the room as Spike and Twilight attempted to calm her down.

They ran out of napkins and hankies and Twilight had to resort to some of the books in bad condition to dry the unicorn's tears. After a while Rarity regained her composure; Twilight patted her on the back to console her.

"What was that? I touched it and now I'm even worse!"

Twilight was silent for a moment, and seemed to startle slightly with revelation. "Changelings feed off love, Rarity. That must have been a physical manifestation of it. When you poked it, you must have absorbed it somehow."

Spike grunted. "Great. Now everybody knows."

Twilight looked up, "Spike?"

"Yeah, yeah. I'll go into the other room so I won't make another one of the heart things," he sighed, and walked upstairs.

When he was gone, Twilight stood. "I don't think we're going to find a solution here, Rarity. Even that book Spike found in the wall didn't have anything about this."

"So what do we do, Twilight?"

"The Crystal Empire's library is bigger than anything I've ever seen. Bigger than Canterlot's! If they don't have a book about this, nopony does! It's a pretty long trip, but I think our best bet is to do some research there."

"Oh, the cold is just going to wreak havoc on my skin. Well. I'll meet you in the train station in an hour, Twilight. I simply can't go to the Empire a second time without looking my very best."

Rarity slipped her boots back on and walked towards the door before she turned back to her friend."Oh, and Twilight?" she said with a look of sincere gratitude, "Thanks."

Twilight smiled, "That's what friends are for Rarity. You'd do the same thing in my boots."

"But I like these boots..."

Twilight sighed at Rarity's joke and opened the door to see her out. When it creaked shut, she turned back to Spike.

"Spike? Did you catch all that?"

Her assistant looked concerned. "Are you really sure this is a good idea, Twilight? We could just wait until Princess Celestia comes back."

"We don't know when that'll happen! We have to—"

Twilight's vision blurred, and her legs became jelly. Spike only closed half the distance between them before she was on the floor, completely oblivious to the world around her.

Twilight awoke in the great library of the Crystal Empire.

"Oh, thank Celestia!" she exclaimed as she ran down the massive aisles of books to find something, anything about changelings to reverse the process. She panted heavily as her legs carried her to the 'C' section, and quickly scanned the book bindings that whipped by for any sign of information about changelings.

Twilight stopped dead when she saw one piece of literature called Changelings and You! She grabbed it and immediately flipped through the pages to look for any information about ponies spontaneously that suddenly transformed into the horrible bugs. Her search ended when she found a chapter titled Non-Preferable Genetic Overflow, and moved her hoof below the chapter heading to begin delve into the words.

"So," the words read in a very un-academic fashion, "you wanna stop turning into a changeling, right?"

Twilight didn't question the fact that the book just talked, and dream logic compelled her to nod.

"Now what would you want to do that?" the book continued, and the whispers of a familiar voice began to nararate the book, "I think it's an improvement!"

"I need a cure!" Twilight shouted back at the book, and it laughed in the same dramatic way that she had heard at her own brother's wedding.

"Here's something you should know about changelings!" Queen Chrysalis' voice shouted as Twilight followed the jagged sentences, "Our will is absolute! And our decisions are final!"

Twilight awoke with a start, and the dragon that had been only inches from her face scrambled backwards before he fell back on his behind.

"What happened?" Twilight groggily asked as she rubbed her head.

"You fell down and got right back up."

"I...I was only out for a few seconds?"

"Yeah. Twilight, you think we should just visit Zecora before you go all the way to north?"

Twilight closed her eyes and concentrated to consider Spike's option. It seemed so obvious, but...when she tried to consider anything that didn't involve going to the Crystal Empire and delving into the books for a cure, her mind seemed to dismiss it on instinct; she needed to go.

She smiled and patted her assistant's head. "Don't worry, Spike. I've got it under control."

Rarity's knees wobbled as she opened the door to the Boutique. She stood there absently; it wasn't until she felt a gust of wind behind her that she realized she was standing in the doorway. The unicorn walked inside, considerably fatigued from the stresses of the day.

She walked up her staircase and into her bedroom to find something decent to wear to the north. After quite a bit of arguing with herself, she decided on her finest pair of yellow boots. When she came to an impasse over what scarf to wear, she was struck with revelation.

"What am I doing?" she exclaimed as she threw down her scarves, "I can't just go to the Crystal Empire! This is—"

Rarity's eyes became dilated and face vacant when Twilight's words echoed through her mind.

"The Crystal Empire's library is bigger than anything I've ever seen. Bigger than Canterlot's! If they don't have a book about this, nopony does! It's a pretty long trip, but I think our best bet is to do some research there."

"On second thought," she said in a neutral tone, "maybe I should go. Wouldn't want to disappoint Twilight, after all."

Rarity continued to check through her wardrobe, and within minutes had forgotten about the strange influence her friend's words had over her; she happily hummed a little tune as she contemplated what fashions would be popular in the Empire at that time of year.

The two of them met at the train station at the agreed time.

Rarity looked around for any sign of Twilight's minion. "Where's Spike?"

"I can't risk him making more of those hearts. It seems to accelerate the process, and I dunno how long we have until this becomes...permanent."

"All aboard!" the conductor shouted, "Galloping Gorge, Vanhoover, and the Frozen North!"

The conductor eyed them carefully as Rarity and Twilight both walked on. A normal pony would have never noticed anything unusual about the two unicorns, but the conductor wasn't a normal pony. In fact, he wasn't a pony at all.

Insect eyes hidden behind his guise saw in-between the multiple scarfs Twilight wore, and for the smallest of moments witnessed the hard shell of a changeling. When the two were out of sight, he took his own place upon the train as the engines of the locomotive roared to life and steadily pushed the machine towards the north.

This was an interesting development, thought the conductor. When they stopped at Galloping Gorge, he had a few pieces of information to pass along.

His queen would expect no less.