Defeated. Betrayed. Cornered and outnumbered. One last chance. An escape...to a new world. A strange world. A world of giants.
For Queen Chrysalis, the end seemed near. Defeat after defeat at the hooves of her enemies had left her tired and desperate while her army of once thousands reduced to a mere several dozen. Surrounded, it seemed that utter defeat was inevitable. But she was a proud changeling queen, she wouldn't go down that easy. She still had one last trick up her hoof. A Portal...to another world. And through that portal, she entered a world of new wonders, of new dangers, and to her surprise and utter shock, a world of giants.
For Rick Mason, life was alright. He had a nice house, a decent job, and two awesome dogs. What else could a guy ask for? Tiny talking alien bug horses? ...Well it's not like he wasn't asking for them.
Amazing art was made by: xxkrutoy
All references, mentioned or otherwise, belong to their owners respectively.
8/30/20 Featured?! Well I'll be, thanks a bunch folks! I really appreciate the love.
For Queen Chrysalis, there was never such a thing as a defeat. Course that was mainly because she never really registered the word, never thought to give it much thought cause if one where to even think of the word defeat, then it was probably because they had already suffered from it at some point in time.
But not Queen Chrysalis. No, for where the mindless and spineless gave in to the word defeat, Queen Chrysalis only ever used the word "setback." Because that is what all those failu- setbacks were, just simple setbacks. Like that whole royal wedding fiasco...a minor setback. The time she lost her first hive to those vile ponies, traitors, and that horrid Starlight Glimmer... a slightly-significant setback. And those several other failed attempts of rebuilding a hive, raising an army, sending that army across the corners of Equestria, and then having the listen to how her commanders failed her when they were quickly routed and defeated? Setbacks all the same.
Course, there were some moments when she had managed to be one step ahead of the ponies. Like that one time when her third hive had taken over most of Manehattan for a week. Or that time when she had won a battle against her traitorous hive with her fifth hive's army. And nopony could ever forget that time when she used her seventh hive's army to completely destroy the Cloudsdale Weather Factory. Though the ponies were able to rebuild it a day later, It was still a victory in her books. Accursed clouds.
But as any logically-thinking leader would know, for every victory, there would be defeat. And despite Chrysalis's belief that she had learned every trick that the ponies or the princesses would ever pull, the steadily-growing streak of defeats to follow proved otherwise.
From the battle of Los Pegasus, to the assault of Appleloosa, to the second battle over Hooves Dam, the number of defeats that the changelings faced seemed never-ending. For with each defeat, the losses were just as tough on the troops as they were for the queen. Hundreds, maybe even thousands of changelings were thought to be lost over the course of Chrysalis's campaign for revenge. Brought under hoof in battle or swayed by promises of prosperity by the enemy, Chrysalis was almost powerless to stop her army of once thousands to slowly bleed out to just a mere few dozen. Not enough. To lose so much of her children, to constantly having to pack up and run with her transparent tail between her legs was a hell that no queen should have to deal with, her especially. But the other changelings knew it, they always did. Whether they were survivors of her previous hives or just decently informed, they knew that all this fighting and running was slowly killing her. Not in the literal sense mind you, but for all they knew what with her constantly having to prioritize the feeding of the newly hatched grubs over herself, it could very well have been.
So with such an fate considered by her troops, it was no wonder that many of them were secretly hoping for the day when all of this fighting would be over, and with current events at play-
...Maybe it would come sooner than later.
"How goes the preparations?"
"We are nearly complete, my queen. The workers have sealed off most of the entry tunnels and are now waiting in the chamber for further orders."
"And the soldiers?"
"The ones who can still fight are currently holding off the invaders, while the ones who have been wounded have been sent to the chamber as well."
"Have all our troops fall back to the chamber now."
"What? But, my queen. Many of them have said that they'll stay and fi-"
Queen Chrysalis halted in her march to the chamber to regard the commander to her left, though it really only took a glare over her shoulder to get the message through the changeling commander's helmeted head as he quickly stopped, bowed, and dashed off in the opposite direction.
Watching him disappear around a corner, the queen of the changelings waited a few moments before she sighed and proceeded down the dimly lit tunnel. Overhead, small bits of rock and dust would come undone by the distant sounds of battle, bouncing harmlessly off her black chitin, but still reminding her of how far she had truly fallen as a queen. For as she continued through the hastily-dug tunnels, sometimes having to duck or step over various chunks of uncut earth, she briefly wondered how it had come to this, for her and her kind to be brought to the brink of utter defeat. How had all of this happen? Was she to blame for the suffering of her children? No, of course not. But, could she? No, no it was something else, somepony else to be blamed for. The ponies. Yes, it was their fault that she and her kind were nearly on the verge of starvation, not hers. and if anypony was to be especially blamed, then all of it would go to those retched six, the princesses, that traitorous Thorax, and Starlight Glimmer. Ooo, she was very much at blame for all of this, that the queen was sure of.
Coming out of her thoughts, Queen Chrysalis looked up to see the entrance of a large chamber come into view. Quickening her pace, she passed through the stony threshold of the entrance and stepped into the glowing green light of the interior. Standing alone, Chrysalis took in the large appearance of the chamber, a large and open cavern where the majority of, if not all of her subjects were now residing in. Dozens of holes dotted the walls of the cavern, many of which still in the process of being sealed off either by green goo or rock by the worker drones buzzing about. Up above, hundreds of glowing green cocoons were stuck to the ceiling, many of which currently occupied and bathing the room in a soft green tint.
And passed all of that were the dozens of her children, present and wandering about as they awaited their queen to arrive. And arrive she had. Resuming her stroll, chrysalis adorned a look of grace and dignity as she passed by her children, who at the sight of her approach, quickly bowed their heads in subservience of. All gave her their attention, even the medics who paused in their care for the wounded who also tried their best to bow despite some physically straining to do so. Still, points for trying.
Continuing forward, Chrysalis did not stop until she had made it to the center of the large room where a large circle had be cut into the stone floor itself. But that wasn't all, for as she stood at its cut edge, she was able to make out a number of carvings and symbols within the circle, each one curving and swirling along a string of intelligible runes and characters that appeared to be drawn with the utmost care.
"Ah! My queen! It is wonderful to see you!"
Turning her head, Chrysalis set her sights on a changeling shorter than the rest and definitely unique to most others. With a transparent mane and eyes both a ruby red, she was certainly the odd one out of the rest of her kin, approaching and stopping before her queen while dressed in a crimson-colored robe. A pair of rounded glasses were pushed up her snoot as the changeling raised her head to her superior.
"Ruby. Has the circle been completed yet?" Chrysalis asked, to which the scribe-looking changeling nodded once at.
"Oh yes, my queen! Just double-checking that the symbols have been correctly written and that their are no errors in the incantation's translation." The robed changeling then smiled toothily. "And I can wholeheartedly say that we are golden in both!"
Nodding at the researcher, Chrysalis's eyes wandered about the rest of the room.
"And the rest?"
Ruby tilted her head at that before realization struck.
"Oh yes! You'll be happy to know that we managed to get twelve cocoons fully filled with love. They've already been put onto the wagons over there."
Following her raised hoof, Chrysalis was filled with the slightest sense of relief as she saw two wagons, each loaded with six of the green egg-shaped containers of visibly condensed love, parked nearby and guarded by a few of her armored subjects. Not wanting to show her true emotion, Chrysalis coughed into a holed hoof before she turned back to Ruby and nodded shortly.
"G-Good. See to it that the love and any other supplies is brought to the circle's center before we leave."
Smiling, the changeling nodded before hurrying off to another end of the circle, checking this and that while also conversing with a few of her own crimson-colored-robed subordinates. Watching her go, Chrysalis was, for a moment, reminded of a certain and insufferable purple alicorn, but quickly and vigorously stomped away that image as soon as it arrived.
"That Twilight Sparkle has nothing on my Ruby." She quietly said to herself. Truth be told, with the great deal of incompetence that Chrysalis has had to deal with during her rule, it was nice to have at least one or two servants that were almost as intelligent as she, key word almost. And in regards to having more than one...
Pausing from her musings, Chrysalis's attention was once again commandeered as she turned to face the new changeling standing beside her.
This changeling was another unique one, taller than the average drone and somewhat eye-level to the queen, if not a foot or so shorter. He was also decked in a bulkier set of dark blue armor that dwarfed in comparison the sets that her soldiers and lower ranking officers wore, complete with full-body protection save for holes for the tail and wings, pointy-bits galore, and menacing helmet that included a set of metal fangs that could snap alongside the ling's already razor-sharp fangs.
Taking a moment to gander at her UNIT of a servant, Chrysalis was left blinking owlishly as the changeling coughed into his armored hoof.
"My queen?" The drone asked once again, this time with a hint of worry in his deep, echoey tone.
Blinking once more, the queen snapped herself back to reality as she addressed him.
"Commander Brute? Report."
Now being properly addressed, her highest ranking commander and longest living officer under her, Commander Brute, bowed his head.
"Yes my queen." He then raised his head. "I have been told that the last of our troops are withdrawing from the battling above and will be here within minutes."
The queen nodded.
"Good, we will need them for the journey to come. Is that all?"
The armored bug pony hesitated before bowing his head and adding.
"I was also told that one of the princesses as well as the elements of harmony are also leading the attack."
This particular bit of news did not bode well with Chrysalis as she hissed in agitation.
"Of coursssse they are! Those insssssufferable ponies would be leading an all-out attack on my hive." Eyeing the changeling commander shaking ever-so slightly in his armor, the changeling queen ever-so slightly flinched as she brought down her temper, choosing instead to sigh tiredly. "Thank you for informing me though, Commander Brute." She then looked away from him. "S-See to it that the rest of our troops arrive here in time for our departure. And that all other supplies and changelings are brought to the center of the circle. That is all."
Looking up, Brute could not really understand why his queen had suddenly become so subdued. But still registering that he had been given his orders, he quickly saluted and headed off, quick to forget the smaller things as he ordered the others around.
Chrysalis meanwhile, saw the commander off, watching him go before shaking her head. He was a good drone after all, maybe even one of the best she had ever seen. He never disobeyed her orders, always kept the other grunts and officers in line, and was probably the only ling she ever even remotely considered as close as a son to her. He was also one of the few changelings to still remain loyal to her since she left her original hive and beyond. Hive after hive, he still remained beside her and because of that, not only was he given the highest rank she could consider, but he was even trusted by her to carry out his own strategies as well as rule over the hives while she was away, an action that proved just how valuable he was to her and just how much she cared for him, even if he didn't know it.
"Soon we'll be rid of this world. Then nopony will stand in the way. Maybe then I can tell him th-"
There suddenly came a great commotion from behind her, and as Chrysalis turned, all eyes including her own were focused on the chamber's entrance.
Rushing in, a dozen or so changeling soldiers poured into the chamber, many of whom holding their comrades to their sides or thrown over their backs, all the while the few who were still in relatively decent shape were firing off beams of magic behind their retreating forces. Once the majority of them had made it into the chamber, a drone had yelled for the entry to be sealed and in no time did a group of drones answer him as they began to push a large boulder over the chamber entrance's threshold, straining to and stopping somewhat when a array of colorful beams of magic glanced off the rock's corners and hitting one or two fleeing changelings before it completely covered the entrance with a loud thud. With rock in place, the drones then coated the edges of the entryway in a thick green goop, effectively sealing off the last entrance into the chamber.
With obstacle thoroughly in place, the soldier drones all breathed a sigh of relief before they were interrupted by Brute.
"Soldiers report. Is this all of you?"
One of the drones, a soldier missing his helmet and adorned with a plethora of scratches and scorch marks across his armor rose slowly before he limped over to his commander and threw up a salute.
"Yes sir. Were all that's left of the exterior defense force, the rest..." He grimaced before continuing. "The rest are all gone sir."
Looking from the drone to his fifteen battered and bruised comrades, Commander Brute sighed before he placed a hoof onto the changeling's shoulder.
"You did all that you could. Good work buying time for the rest of us."
Having been given such praise from his superior, the drone smiled toothily and nodded at him.
"Thank you Commander Brute, sir!"
Nodding as well, Commander Brute then looked to the others.
"Same goes for the rest of you. Now get yourselves and your wounded into the circle."
With salutes and nods all around, the drones picked up their hurt buddies and began to make for the circle when there suddenly came a strange hissing noise. Stopping, they as well as all other changelings present looked about for the source when one of the drones suddenly yelled, and after the others looked at him, he was pointing to the blocked entrance where, to the shock of all in attendance, a glowing flower of flaming red sparkled appeared near the base of the boulder, melting the green goo as it slowly cut around the boulder.
"The enemy's cutting through!"
"That rock won't hold for long."
"We're so boned."
Seeing and hearing her changelings in peril, Chrysalis almost wanted to join them, but not right now. Not when they were so close.
Answering the call, the changeling was beside her queen in an instant.
"Yes, my queen?"
"Is the circle ready?"
"Just about, my queen."
"Good, prepare to activate it now."
"Yes, My queen!"
And with that the mare dashed off, calling to her subordinates as Chrysalis then turned to-
"My queen?" Brute asked, already one step ahead of her.
"Commander Brute, see to it that all changelings and supplies are brought to the circle immediately."
"Yes, my queen."
Snapping his head to the others, he then yelled.
"You heard your queen, get to the circle now!"
Without needing to be told twice, the changelings were quick to act, helping with moving the wounded onto the circle and pushing forward a number of carts filled with boxes and sacks or various items. One such cart was apparently filled with stolen books and was being hastily moved by a number of changelings adorned in ruby-red robes. As the drones were buzzing about, Chrysalis simply stood in place and watched the heated line of pure magical energy pass the topmost point of its arch before it slowly began to come down on the other side.
Watching its progress, Chrysalis felt the heat within herself burn just as bright as the rock-cutting light she stared at. Or did until a certain someling's voice broke her from her smoldering stupor.
"My queen, we must go." Brute said, glancing from the entrance to her.
After a moment more of staring, Chrysalis huffed before she nodded and turned around, making her way to the circle just as the last of her changelings were stepping into it. Once she was in, Chrysalis looked around for Ruby, and after a moment of searching, found the short one busying herself with frantically flipping through the pages of a black book floating in her magical grasp.
"Ruby!" She called, momentarily drawing her attention. "Is the spell ready?"
"Yes, my queen! I just need a moment to-"
Before she could finish that, Ruby was sadly and rather rudely interrupted by the near-deafening roar of the entrance exploding, sending bits of rock flying as dust billowed about the room.
"Obstacle eliminated! All units move in! GO! GO! GO!"
Coughing slightly from the dust, Chrysalis peered into the cloud ahead as the familiar sound of clanking armor and galloping hooves signaled the arrival of her enemies. Slowly, as the dust settled, She could make out the silhouettes of her assailants, and a moment later, she now found herself facing off a veritable swarm of royal guards, with the earth ponies brandishing an assortment of blades and spears while the unicorns powered up their horns, ready to unleash magical hellfire at a moments notice.
There was no more than ten feet that separated both groups, with the changelings all huddled in their circle while the royal guard remained posed menacingly in a semi-circle, effectively cutting off the changeling's only means of escape. Or at least that's what they thought.
Glares were met with hisses as the two opposing forces faced one another. And as the last bits of dust settled, a moment of silence was left unopposed before one of the royal guards, identical in appearance as the others that flanked him, yelled out.
"Queen Chrysalis, we have you surrounded! Surrender now or face the might of the Equestrian Army!"
His proclamation was met with a collection of whoops and hollers from his fellow guards, and maybe earned a whimper from one or two changelings that may have felt threatened. Queen Chrysalis however, merely scoffed.
"Oh really?" She asked, narrowing her eyes at him. "Do you honestly believe that I'd be swayed by such an inferior as you?"
The guard flinched at that, but still remained as stoic as could be.
"Y-Yes you should! Face it Queen Chrysalis, we have you and your rogue changelings outnumbered five to one!"
Hoping that that little fact would get to her, the guard was shaken somewhat when she giggled instead.
"Is that so?" She said, smirking at the now slightly-shaking stallion. "Hardly seems like fair fight then...for you that is."
Blinking stupidly at her, the guard quickly shook his golden helmeted head before glaring at the joking queen.
"That's it!" The guard yelled, turning to his comrades. "Come on guys! Let's show this bug bitch how the Solar Guard gets things done!" Seeing and hearing his fellow soldiers raring to go, the guard turned back to the queen and, with a wave of his hoof, he yelled. "FOR EQUESTRIA! CHARGE!"
And at his command, the soldiers rushed forward as one, ready to deliver a four-hoofed, gold-plated ass-blasting of shear awe-
Or they were before there came a sudden eardrum-bursting call which sent just about every guard literally tumbling over one another as they all came to a screeching halt.
Seeing the guards heel so quickly and hearing that banshee of a royal Canterlot voice, Chrysalis could only think of one pony, or rather, of one alicorn. And low and behold...
"Celestia." She quietly hissed to herself as the co-ruler of Equestria and physical embodiment of that eye-burner in the sky, slowly made her approach.
Princess Celestia, literal textbook definition of everything regal, put one hoof after the other as she made her way to the front of the line, her little ponies parting to clear her a path as they each lowered their heads in a respectful bow. Knowing that they had done their best to find the queen and her flock, she was quick to give a motherly smile or acknowledging nod to a guard or two before she raised her head to meet the disinterested eyes of one Queen Chrysalis. Nonetheless, the princess remained calm and cool as she stopped, now standing before the one who had brought so much stress and disorder to her and her little ponies for the past few years. To say that she was relieved was an understatement.
For a moment, the two rulers faced one another, staring, thinking, planning.
For Princess Celestia, she was thinking back to every incident that the queen of the changelings had orchestrated, thinking back to all the times they had fought one another, all the damage she had caused, and all the pain and sorrow she had inflicted on her little ponies. Yup, she was certainly pissed about that.
For Queen Chrysalis however, she was busy formulating several plans at once, one for attack, one for deceit, and one for retreat. But after running the numbers and drawing up more than a few conclusions as to how they might all end, she decided on just sticking with one plan and would add to it as she went. Hey, a half-assed plan was still a flawless plan as long as one didn't believe in the flaws.
In the fraction of a second, Chrysalis dove into the hive mind and quickly established a mental link between her, Ruby and Brute.
'Yes, my queen?'
'How long will it take for you to activate the spell.'
'At least a few minutes or so, my queen. It's a long incantation.'
'Alright. See to it now.'
'Yes, my queen.'
'Yes, my queen?'
'See to it that the drones don't get in my way.'
'I will, my queen. But what will you do?'
She mentally chuckled.
'Me? I'll just be entertaining myself.'
And with that being though, the link was cut and Chrysalis returned to reality. Still in her stare-off with the princess, she was the first to metaphorically blink as she closed her eyes. Then after a moment, she opened them and, to the princess's slight surprise, smiled wickedly.
"Well well well. If it isn't Miss Sunbutt herself." She said, chortling a bit before she looked to the princess. "To what do I owe the displeasure of our little meeting?"
Blinking, Princess Celestia shook her head before she addressed the changeling queen.
"Queen Chrysalis." She smartly corrected, much to the alicorn's slight annoyance.
"Sigh, Queen Chrysalis. I've come to ask for your surrender and to be tried for your crimes against Equestria."
"Oh?" She said, feigning ignorance. "And what exactly have I done? That is, besides providing for my children as any loving mother would?"
"You know what you've done, Chrysalis!" Celestia said, huffing through her nose. "The attacks, the damages, AND the countless number of abductions all ordered by you and you alone."
Chrysalis simply raised a brow.
"Oh, is that all?" She asked innocently, much to the shock and anger of the guards and their ruler.
"Well if I may ask, Princess Celestia. What do you intend to do if I don't come quietly?"
"Then I'll just deal with you myself." Celestia said, narrowing her eyes.
"Oh really?" Chrysalis coed, baring her fangs in a smile. "And just how will you accomplish such a feat in your current state?"
"What are you talking about?" Celestia asked confusedly.
"You know exactly what I'm talking about Princess Celestia." A devilish smile suddenly appeared on her face. "Or should I say...Princess Celesti-ass?"
"E-Excuse me?!" Celestia all but yelled, her composure vanishing in an instant as she took a step back in blushing shock.
"Oh yes princess, I do wonder how you'll be able to defeat me with such extra baggage weighing you down. It would be rather unfair, wouldn't it?"
"What?! No-Now you just wait one minute, I-"
"Of course, Now I understand why your little guards gave you such a wide birth earlier. Obviously it was because they didn't want to get knocked over, am I right?"
"Still. While it must be quite the inconvenience for you, being so idiotically robust as you are, at least it's convenient for others that the thunderclap of those flank cheeks of yours can give them proper warning."
Smirk level increasing, Queen Chrysalis watched as the oh so lovable elements of harmony came scampering into view, joined by one accursed Starlight Glimmer and lead by none other than-
"Twilight Sparkle. And others. How detestable it is to see all of you once again."
Coming to a stop beside her old teacher, the princess of friendship was quick on the draw.
"Chrysalis! We've come to bring you to justice!"
"Justice? Oh please Sparkle, Everypony should know that I'm not the one who needs to be brought to justice here." Seeing Twilight and company put on their own looks of confusion, she continued. "Why if anything, taking away Celestia's cake privileges would certainly be doing Equestria justice, or at the very least, to chairs and cushions everywhere."
Now, to say such a thing as that, and to say it as casual as she did, Chrysalis wasn't surprised by the looks of utter shock from all present. Chrysalis would also be lying if she wasn't especially amused by the looks that Twilight or Celestia were giving her.
"What?! Ho-why would you say something like that?!" Twilight yelled, her blush face paling in comparison to Celestia's as the white alicorn was now spinning about in an effort to assess just how big her ass actually was.
Looking at the young alicorn, Chrysalis once again smirked.
"Oh really Twilight." She said, sounding as though she were a disappointed mother. "Did you really think that after everything I've done, I would simply stop there?" When Twilight failed to answer right away, she continued.
"Do you honestly believe that after everything that has happened up until this point, that I would be persuaded by you and your friends, or even PMD (Plot of Mass Destruction) over there?" She said, pointing to a frantic Celestia who, at the moment, was busying herself by asking as many guards as she could, "is it really that big?" of which the majority of were either too embarrassed to answer or were rendered unconscious when she'd accidentally slam her plot into their face when she spun about. "Yeah I don't think so."
"We-Well I thought that-."
"Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. Oh you poor, naive little filly. And here I thought that Princess Celestia already told you about everything else."
Hearing that, Twilight looked up at Chrysalis, tilting her head.
"Wait. Everything else?"
At the utterance of that, Celestia paused in her apologizing to turn swiftly back to the changeling queen. unknowingly knocking down a guard she had just been apologizing to.
"Oh yes. I was under the impression that dear Celestia told you all about how she ordered all my changelings to be hunted like animals."
"That once they were captured, she would starve them of emotion for days."
"Then when they were begging for the tiniest bit of love from her." She quietly said, circling the mare until she stopped right beside her ear and whispered, just loud enough for all to hear. She would have them accompany her to her chambers for a night of hot. Sweaty. Love-crazed se-"
Giggling to herself, Chrysalis ignored the fuming solar princess as she stared into the eyes of one heavily breathing, heavily blushing princess of friendship. "After all. How else did she learn of this place I wonder?"
Once she had managed to finally steady her beating heart and cease her insistent panting, Twilight turned to her friends, whom all had taken the news with mixed reactions, ranging from pure disbelief, to hunched-over laughing, to simply fainting where they stood. Turning to her old teacher also didn't relieve her either as the white alicorn was trying and failing to form coherent words.
"Princess. I-Is that true?!"
Insert random flustered horse noises.
"I-Well uhm, you see-, the thing about that is-"
Chrysalis watched in glorious amusement and satisfaction as Princess Celestia, considered to be ever the unbreakable mare, was reduced to a stuttering ruin as she vainly tried to dig herself out of the pleasure pit she had unknowingly fallen into. But before the changeling queen could offer another quip regarding the princess's ass, the weight of said ass, or her love for foreplay and any of the many kinks she preferred, she suddenly received a call through the hive mind, and seeing as how she allowed only a select few such a privilege, she was quick to answer.
'Yes my queen. I'm just about to finish the incantation. Just wanted to inform you since you love to always have the last word.'
Smiling at that, she mentally nodded.
'Excellent. Thank you Ruby.'
'It's my pleasure, my queen."
With the mind-messaging done and Princess Celestia still trying to piece together even the most basic of a response, Chrysalis knew that now was the best time for what was about to happen next. So with little to no effort, she threw her head back and let loose the most villainy laugh she could muster.
Hearing such a villain laugh as that, Twilight was of course the first to respond.
"Chrysalis what are you- ah!"
But before she could ask, she was suddenly sent stumbling back several steps as a sudden gust of wind pushed passed. And once it had subsided, Twilight could only look back in utter shock at the sight of the largest spell-casting circle she had ever seen, the circle itself and its many alien symbols glowing a bright green below the hooves of the changelings and their grinning queen.
"Chrysalis!" Twilight heard Celestia yell from beside her. "What in Equestria is that?!"
She simply laughed again.
"Oh this?" She cutely asked, tapping at the glowing lines below her. "Why its merely a circle used for teleportation." She then giggled before adding. "And to where, you may ask? Well..I guess you'll just have to ask the stars!"
Blinking, Twilight, as well as everypony else, stared at the queen in confusion as she simply stood smug as could be.
"Ask the stars?" Twilight repeated, the statement confusing her immensely. "Princess Celestia, what does she me-"
Looking to the princess, Twilight did a double take as the solar princess stood as still as a statue, her paled features portraying a realization so horrified that even her eternally-flowing mane and tail froze in place.
"No. Chrysalis. You don't mean-"
"Oh but I do, dear princess!" Chrysalis said, smiling from ear to ear.
"But, to teleport through space is-"
"Impossible?" She said, raising a brow. "Hehe. Just because some old bearded coot said that ponies couldn't do it doesn't mean that changelings can't!"
"But the risks-"
"Oh? You mean the chance that such a spell could tear apart the very fabric of reality itself?" She shook her head. "So what?! Anything's better than spending another measly second here!"
As Chrysalis continued, a faint humming began to echo throughout the chamber, slowly growing in volume alongside the ever-increasing glow of the circle's light.
"And If I can't rule over this world, then I'll simply go to another one instead AHAHAHA!"
"As if I'll let you!"
Suddenly bursting forth from the group, Rainbow Dash, element of loyalty and chad of the main six, quickly took to the air before rocketing towards the changeling queen, but just as she swung herself around to deliver a fierce flying kick, she suddenly slammed into something midair and was sent bouncing back to the others in a cursing heap. From where she recovered, Dash and the others were now met with a transparent wall of green that encompassed the magical circle that shielded the ones within.
Seeing a new obstacle in their way however, the guards were quick to respond, calling onto their magic users to barrage the magic field's surface while the earth ponies charged in, stabbing and jabbing this place and that, hoping to weaken the barrier even in the slightest.
Not wanting to be outdone, the rest of the elements charged in, offering what aid they could to combat their transparent target. Yet as they kicked, stabbed, blasted and punched with all their strength, there efforts only seemed to backfire on them as ponies dropped one by one from fatigue while the shield remained undamaged even in the slightest.
Seeing their efforts wasted for nothing, Chrysalis was quick to pour on the salt.
"BWAHAHAHA! YOU FOOOOOLLLS! Did you really think that you could stop me? Why don't you all just spare yourselves the embarrassment and give up?"
Watching the changeling queen proceed to laugh some more, Twilight looked amongst her panting friends as well as the dozens of fallen guards before she turned to the only other pony still standing.
"Celestia!" Twilight said, turning to the alicorn. "What do we do?"
Looking from the younger alicorn to the queen of the changelings, still laughing by the way, Princess Celestia was silent for a moment before she narrowed her eyes and slowly stepped forward.
"Do not worry, my faithful student, I will take care of this."
Still laughing, Chrysalis paused to take a breath so that she continue laughing manically before she noticed the white alicorn approaching her.
"Oh? What's this?" She asked, raising a brow with a grin to match. "Instead of sitting still on that plump plot of yours, you wish to fail alongside your little ponies too?"
"I won't let your actions stand any longer, Chrysalis."
"Oh? Then by all means! Try as much as you like!"
Coming to a full stop, Celestia took up a wide stance, her breath slowing to a near halt as her horn was enveloped by a golden glow. Closing her eyes, she then reached from deep within herself, searching for that great power down below before finding it and beginning to slowly draw from it. Soon enough, the glow from her horn began to grow brighter as she channeled her magic. Seeing this, both the guards and girls were quick to pick themselves up and beat a hasty retreat until they were safely on the other side of the room and not on the other end of that horn. A horn which now seemed to take on a pure white glow as the magic gathering there was then condensed and focused to the highest degree ever thought possible. Then, when it seemed as if she had reached her peak, Celestia's eyes suddenly flew open, and with the flaring of her wings and a great wave of her head. she sent a solid beam of pure white light rocketing towards the barrier. The result from contact was, in a word, awesome.
Upon making contact, the beam exploded, seemingly tearing apart the air itself as a wave of heat and sound sent all lesser beings tumbling backwards. And this would last for several long seconds as Celestia poured more and more magic into her horn, cracking the very stone beneath her hooves while simultaneously deafening all with a roar that would put even the mightiest of dragons or most violent of volcanoes to shame. But once those several long seconds had ceased, so too did the roaring and the near-blinding light show as well. And several seconds after that, only silence.
For a moment at least. For once the might of the sun had been fully extinguished and the princess had fallen to the floor in a groaning heap, Chrysalis, who had actually been hiding behind a drone the whole time, slowly opened her eyes and looked first at the fallen princess, then at the undamaged barrier, then finally at the other drones around her, before bursting forth into another fit of villain-level laughter.
"Heh. Hehe. Hehehe. AHAHAHAAAAAAA!"
She then stood up and walked around the shaking drone as Twilight was the first to recover and come to Celestia's aid.
"Do you see now, Celestia? Do you see how utterly useless your efforts were?"
She then continued to laugh some more as Twilight lifted up the worn-out ruler.
"That much magical energy." She quietly said, glancing at the circle's still unbroken barrier. "Princess, what can we do now?"
Raising her head, an action that in itself was a challenge, Celestia was slow to respond.
"Huff. Huff. Huff. I-" She slowly looked over to the cackling changeling before looking back to her old student. "I...I don't know, Twilight."
With a shared look of utter defeat, the two alicorns turned to face the changeling queen, who upon seeing their looks despair, smiled triumphantly as she shook her head.
"You poor, foolish ponies. If such a level of magic didn't work, then nothing else will." She then giggled like a mad mare before narrowing her eyes at them. "Face it. You. Have. Failed. And I have finally wo-
Blinking, both Twilight and Celestia stood in silent astonishment as the changeling queen, who had just been gloating before them not a second ago was gone in the blink of an eye, her changelings also nowhere to be seen as the very stone they had all stood atop of was also gone, leaving only a circular hole in the ground where the circle had been previously drawn.
"They're...gone." Twilight finally said after staring at the hole for a few more seconds.
"Y-Yes." Celestia said, her brain still trying to process this sudden turn of events. "So it seems."
"What...happens now princess?"
Before she could say anything else, there came the sudden rumbling of earth as bits of rock and rubble fell around the two alicorns, starting with the smallest of pebbles before larger chunks of the ceiling began to rain down.
"I think we should leave for now." She then turned to the nearest guard. "Get everypony to the surface at once!"
Quickly saluting, the guard then turned to his fellow guardsponies, and with shouting and hurried hooves, the princess, her troops, and the elements of harmony left both the collapsing chamber behind and the investigation into the fate of the changelings and their queen to be had another day as they made their break for the surface.
Rick "Ricky" Mason awoke in the wee hours of the early morning not by conventional means, such as by the beeping of his digital alarm clock or by the rays of God's eye-searing inferno above, but from another entity all its own. An entity that cared not for borders, ideologies, or even personal space for that matter. An absolute force of nature that commanded Rick's every move. An ultimate beast that...really needed to go to the bathroom
Blinking his tired eyes open, Rick found himself cornered under the covers by a puppy currently standing atop his chest, large ears flopping and tiny curved tail wagging as it stared at him with impatience.
"Chim? W-yawn. What is it boy?"
Eliciting another high-pitched bork, the little dog began to do a little dance on Rick's rib cage, little paws hopping about as it tried to get its cryptic message across.
Give or take a moment of watching the dog tap dance over him and Rick's brain finally managed to finished its boot-up sequence, allowing him to soon realize what the dog was trying to convey.
"Let me guess, bathroom?"
"Alright. Alright. Now could you get off me, please?"
Nudging the pupper off him, Rick threw off the blanket and swung himself out of bed. Then after heading towards the door, he paused at the handle to regard the pup still spinning and dancing on his sheets. Of course.
"Sorry Chim, I totally forgot." Rick said, hurrying back over to the bed where the dog all but jumped into Rick's hands as he lowered him to the carpeted floor below.
With pup now quickly scampering alongside him, Rick was soon out of his bedroom and down the hall, down the stairs, and soon unlocking and opening the sliding glass door, where upon seeing said gateway to salvation being opened, the pup was out in an instant and already in the process of sniffing for a place to relieve himself.
Watching the dog tend to his business, Rick yawned for the fifth time since waking up as he kept a drooping eye on the pup, blissfully unaware of the dark figure slowly and quietly sneaking towards him. But in the end, it was the man's deafness due to an inadequate amount of hours slept that costed him his life as the mysterious figure remained completely undetected up until it was directly behind him. And then it pounced.
"OOF" went the man as he was glomped from behind.
Step step step went the man's feet as they stumbled forward, out the doorway, and over the wooden deck beyond.
And thud went the man's body as it made contact with the grass after having tripped down the two wooden steps of the aforementioned deck.
Following the sneak attack and a second or two of groaning, several moments of laying in the grass proceeded thereafter as Rick contemplated whether he should try to get up or simply accept the cruelties of fate and sleep on nature's green futon. And while his tiredness was making the ladder option seem quite appealing right about now, it seemed that someone else had other plans for Rick as he felt the weight on his back shift. Then he heard the sniffing beside his ear. And once the sniffing ceased, the licking soon followed, irritating the downed man as he sighed in tired exasperation.
"Bad girl, Dem." He said, his voice slightly muffled as he laid still in the grass. "That's a very bad girl, Dem."
The licking stopped and a giggle was heard soon after.
"I sure am, master." Dem said before she lowered her snout near Rick's face and growled seductively(?). "What're you going to do about it? Scold me? Punish me?"
"How about I just lock you out of your Crunchyroll account instead?"
Apparently that did the trick as the weight that had Rick pinned was now gone in an instant and the staticky yelp and literal yelp that accompanied that also confirmed Rick's suspicion as he got up, dusted himself off, and turned to the now quivering doberman before him.
"Yo-You wouldn't!" Dem frightfully said through the speaker in her collar. "That's straight-up animal cruelty!"
Rick simply raised a brow.
"Oh? So are you going to be good then? Cause if not then I can just-"
For the second time that morning, Rick was once again tackled by Dem, landing back-first back on the grass and having almost all the wind knocked out of him as Dem cried both in dog speak and through thought-translated English.
"YES! YES! I WILL! I'll be a good girl! I'm sorry master so please don't change the password again, PLEEEASE!"
"Alright, alright. I get it, apology accepted!"
The dog ceased her cries.
Sighing, Rick smiled as he patted her on the head.
"Yeah, really. So can you get off me already?"
Granting her master's wish, the doberman quickly released him and headed back towards the house. Though just before she was about to climb the wooden steps, she suddenly stopped and turned back to face him.
And with that, Dem quickly climbed the steps and headed inside, leaving Rick to to deal with a slew of mixed emotions. Luckily he wasn't alone in his endeavor as Chim scampered to a stop beside him, tilting his little head and barking curiously. In return, Rick simply sighed as he gave the pup a scratch behind the ear.
"Really boy. She tackles me twice, yet still has the nerve to call me the asshole. Can you believe that?" He shook his head. "Sigh, guess girls'll be girls, am I right, Chimera?"
"Heh. Thanks boy."
Give or take a hour later of showering, getting dressed, and getting ready and Rick was now sitting at his kitchen's island, dressed to impress and happily sipping up a mug of good old morning brew as cartoons played from the living room just behind him.
Putting down his mug, he reached for the tablet beside him and, after a moment of swiping and typing, was now reading up on a number of emails that had been sent to him earlier on. Boring reports and spam mostly.
Grabbing his mug, Rick went to take another sip when he suddenly received a new notification. Raising a brow, he opened it and just after reading the first few lines, promptly spat out a mouthful of coffee. Reading the whole message twice over, he couldn't believe his eyes. Blinking, he patted his pockets before finding his phone and quickly turning it on, wincing at the number of missed calls.
Swearing under his breath, he quickly downed the rest of his mug, promising to clean up the rest of it after he got back. Then after pocketing his phone, he spared a quick glance into the living room, seeing Dem snoozing on his recliner while Chim watched cartoons from atop one of the nearby couch's cushions.
"Yo Chim." Rick said, gaining the pup's attention as it curiously looked up at him. "I'm heading off to work. Your sister's in charge till I get back. Got it?"
The pup barked and Rick smirked.
"Good boy. Watch over the house, okay?"
And with that, Rick was soon out of the house and stepping into his car. A few seconds later and he was now miles down the road, completely unaware of what awaited him back home.
"We're trying to look for the lost relic. Can you find the lost relic?
"...That's right! Muy bueno!"
Chimera's curly tail waged furiously as he was praised by the little human girl on the wall. Though how she could understand him and why she chose to go it alone in a forest with only a talking piece of paper for company were questions best left to be answered for later as he continued to guide her on her dangerous adventure. Minutes of offering directions and receiving praise in return empowered the pup to no end. And once the little human had managed to find the item she was looking for, Chim felt a great sense of pride and accomplishment, though that only lasted for a brief moment before his ears perked up at a strange whisking noise, which was then accompanied by the sudden appearance of a mysterious, masked creature as it came bursting out of a nearby bush.
Thinking that the creature was intending to do the little human harm, the pup was on his paws in an instant, growling as fiercely as he could in an attempt to scare it off. Though in the end, his efforts were seemingly in vain as the "Swiper" continued to press it's attack unimpeded. Luckily it seemed that the little human was prepared for such an encounter as she too attempted to ward off the creature.
"Swiper no swiping!"
Seeing this have little effort on the creature, the little human then asked that he help her in repeating the phrase, a request he was more than willing to accept. Channeling that bit of wolf in him, Chim howled with all he could alongside the girl as she repeated the phrase and, to his utmost delight and relief, witnessed their combined efforts bear fruit as the masked beast snapped its paws and beat a hasty retreat through the woods.
with the day won and the little girl safe once again, the pup yipped with joy, pausing from his cheering to hear the little human speak again.
"Gracias for helping me, amigo! Thanks to you, I can bring the relic back to- sssshhhhh -where everyone can enjoy it!"
Blinking, Chim tilted his head in confusion as the girl disappeared, was replaced with a strange noise and a grey void, then suddenly reappearing, oblivious of what had happened not a second ago.
Looking to his right, Chim wasn't surprised when he saw Dem was still snoozing away on their master's big chair. Shaking his head, he then looked up at the special box on the ceiling, seeing nothing out of the order either. Strange.
After making sure that the little human had made it safely back to civilization and was happily reunited with the little naked human in boots, Chim lifted his paw and pressed the big black button on the remote, turning off the projector as he yawned and stretched. Following his stretch, the pup hopped off the couch and proceeded to the kitchen, hoping to get a small snack before he started his investigation.
Chrysalis gasped loudly as she was jostled awake. Blinking her eyes open, she just as quickly closed them as light invaded every corner of her sockets, causing her to grunt in pain.
"My queen! Oh thank the changeling goddess you're awake."
"Ugh. Ruby? Is that you?" Chrysalis asked, sneaking a peek at the little changeling who happily nodded.
"Yes, yes it is, er- I mean I am, my queen."
It took Chrysalis a moment for her eyes to properly adjust to the morning light, but when then they did, she was now able to fully see the changeling, albeit through a slightly-noticeable haze.
"Ruby? why is everything so-"
"Dusty, my queen?"
Strange choice of words, but Chrysalis nodded all the same.
"Weellll." Ruby said, rubbing the back of her neck. "You should just see for yourself."
Blinking at her, Chrysalis was about to ask for her to explain when she happened to glance around and promptly froze.
From what felt like a second ago, Chrysalis found herself not in a dimly lit cave, but in what appeared to be an impossibly-large temple of some sort. Below her, she sat upon a strange floor, not exactly stone, but not earth either despite the brownish texture and bits of brown grass. All around her, great blocks of brown, whose size dwarfed that of even the tallest of Manehattan's skyscrapers, soared to great heights above her head until they seemed to practically fade into the dark, cloudless sky above.
Wait a minute.
Actually, while that may have seemed the case at first glance, it wasn't until Chrysalis really looked that she found, to her utmost shock, that what she had previously thought was space was actually a sloped ceiling which rose hundreds, no, thousands, no, tens of thousands of feet into the dust-ridden air. A number of long bridges and towering beams also acted as the supports for the great ceiling in the not-sky, their length and utter size just as incredible as the roof they held aloft.
"Where...are we, Ruby?" Chrysalis asked, her voice seeming quieter than it should. The bespectacled changeling hesitated.
"Honestly, my queen." She said, pausing a moment to rub away the dust from her glasses. "I don't know." She paused again before adding. "But I can safely say that, without a doubt, we aren't in Equestria anymore."
Looking at her, Chrysalis raised a brow.
"Yes, my queen." she said, nodding, before suddenly becoming very animated. "I mean just look around us! Such a place as this? While it's only a hunch, I believe that we were teleported to some sort of lost, ancient alien civilization. It's all so...so...oh, just look around us!"
Chrysalis did, and as she did, she could now see a number of her changelings also exploring the massive area, with some walking about, some flying about, and some just sitting about and staring at this or that or just straight up. Luckily, the lot of them were at least staying within sight, and that observation was enough to keep the queen at somewhat relative ease as she turned back to Ruby.
"It is rather impressive, Ruby."
"Isn't it, my queen?" she said, taking a deep breath in before sneezing cutely. "Though the dust is an issue." She then sneezed again...and again...and again after that.
Smiling at the changeling's sneeze fit, Chrysalis blinked before turning her this way and that in search of-
"Where's Commander Brute?"
"Sniff. Brute? He's overseeing the supply wagons near the circle." She pointed just behind herself. "Over there."
Looking over Ruby's head, Chrysalis was relieved to see the changeling commander safe and sound. And after thanking her for the directing, she got up and headed straight over to him with Ruby following closely behind.
Seeing his queen awake and on approach, Commander Brute was quick to dismiss his guards as he moved to meet the queen halfway.
"My queen! It's good to see you finally awake."
This earned a brow raise from her.
"Oh? Was I out longer than the others?"
"Well." He said, hesitant to reply before sighing and nodding. "You were, my queen." He then bowed. "And I sincerely apologize for my inability to wake you."
Knowing full well that he was being nothing but sincere, Chrysalis shook her head.
"It is quite alright, Commander." Seeing him still bowing, she quickly added. "Though I do want a report regarding the status of the drones, our supplies, and our current location."
Hearing that, Brute raised his head to see his queen patiently waiting. And not wanting to keep her waiting, he offered what he could.
"Y-Yes my queen. "Ahem. While you were still asleep, I was able to perform a headcount with roles included as well. And as of this moment, we currently have about twenty six soldiers, though I'd say that about roughly half of them are still capable of fighting. We also have five medical drones, five infiltrators, and sixteen regulars.
"Aren't you forgetting something, Brute?" Ruby suddenly asked, tapping an impatient hoof. "Or rather, some-lings?"
This earned a raised brow from the queen as she glanced at Brute, who after tilting his head at the little changeling, suddenly realized his mistake and was quick to correct himself.
"Oh! Oh right. And we also have Ruby's six scribes as well."
"Right." Chrysalis said, glancing at her proud little ling before she turned back to Brute. "So we have fifty-eight changelings in all?" He nodded. "And what of our supplies?"
"We have five filled wagons my queen, including the two carrying our love reserves. All of which have been left over there." He said, pointing to the line of wagons parked near the base of one of those massive blocks.
Seeing the wagons intact and under guard, Chrysalis nodded. Though before she was about to praise Brute for his diligence, a thought suddenly occurred to her.
"Hmm. Commander Brute, if i'm not mistaken." She said, squinting at him suspiciously. "Didn't we have more changelings and wagons with us before we teleported?"
"Oh! Well um. You see- the thing is about that-" Brute stuttered, before instantly giving up at the sight of his waiting queen. "Oh who am I kidding. The truth is, my queen...we did. About seven or so regulars were reported missing along with one of our wagons as well."
Yikes. Mommy bug ain't happy to hear that.
"I see." She said, narrowing her eyes at the slightly sweating commander. "And why, Commander Brute, did you neglect to inform me of this?"
"Honestly, my queen?" She silently nodded. "I didn't want the first thing you heard after waking up to be bad news."
Daww. I mean the queen was upset with him, don't get me wrong. But still...daww.
Now, despite her disappointment in her commander for his act of withholding information from her, especially when it involved her changelings, Chrysalis couldn't help but feel her old heart do the tiniest of skips as he shivered before her like some mistreated colt.
Maybe she could forgive him this one time.
No. No, a punishment needed to be administered lest the others mistake her hesitation for weakness. Yes. It was only fair after all.
With personal reasoning solid and out of the way, Chrysalis first looked down at Brute, who's head was still bowed as he nervously awaited his sentence, then at Ruby who was also nervously glancing between her and Brute, then finally at all the changelings who had gathered around the trio in a loose circle, their looks ranging from genuine curiosity to blatant pity. For their fellow changeling no doubt.
Nevertheless, the punishment would still proceed unopposed as Chrysalis approached Brute, passed him, and just kept walking.
"M-My queen?" Brute hesitantly asked, raising his head to watch her pass the other changelings before continuing on.
Quickly glancing at Ruby, who of which also had no clue where their queen was going, Brute hastily galloped off towards her and didn't stop until he came to a panting halt in front of her.
"M-My queen." Brute said, hoof pointed at her as he tried to steady his breath. "Where are you going?"
"Why, to wherever the missing changelings are of course." She said, as if it was nothing. Like hell it was.
"What?" Brute asked confusedly as Ruby and the other changelings finally caught up to them.
Chrysalis simply sighed in return before slowly replied.
"I said that I'm going to go find my lost children."
"I feel as though I'm the only one worrying here."
"What was that, commander Brute?"
"N-Nothing, my queen."
Raising a brow, Chrysalis glanced at the changeling commander beside her for a moment before continuing forward at a somewhat leisurely pace.
Truth be told, she was worried. More so than what she was letting on, actually. In fact, ever since she had left behind Ruby and the other changelings to go off in search of her missing changelings, she had been on relative edge since then.
But she was a queen after all, and if she were to let her guards know, or Brute for that matter, that she was just the tiniest bit scared of her alien surroundings then there wasn't a doubt in her mind that they would have her return to the others in a heartbeat while they went to search themselves. And damn it all if that thought alone didn't make Chrysalis's chitin crawl. Maybe it was the fact that they were literally in another world or just her motherly side, but like hell she was going to let her soldiers be the first to brave new territory without her there to oversee it.
"My queen." Brute suddenly said, bringing Chrysalis back to reality. "Just how long do you plan on having us continue this search?"
"As long as it takes to find those changelings of course."
Brute grimaced at that, but nodded all the same as he kept his eyes forward. To him, this whole rescue mission was a bad idea from the start. Was this his punishment for going against his queen? To watch as she lead their little expedition into the unknown, seemingly and blissfully unaware of the dangers possibly all around them? Or even the potential repercussions such a journey could have on the morale of the others if something were to happen to their queen? If she were to get hurt or...worse, on his watch no less, oh changeling goddess above. A torrent of shivers went down the changeling commander's spine just at the mere thought of it.
Luckily though, he was right there beside his queen. He wouldn't let any sort of harm come to her. He'd rather die than let such worries become reality, and as he glanced over his shoulder at the six armored changelings bringing up the rear, he was sure that if something did happen to him, at least they would see to it that she was protected.
And so with those heavy thoughts put to rest, Brute sighed tiredly as he took the lapse in conversation to regard their surroundings, and despite their search dragging on for what he thought was an hour at the most, the scenery of brown blocks and the occasional oversized oddity did little to peak his interest. That is, until they rounded the corner.
What lay before them was unlike anything they had seen thus far. A tube-like object as big as a grain silo and as bright a yellow as the sun itself lay on its side before them, seemingly blocking the path ahead. Now granted, if it meant overcoming such an obstacle, it would've obviously been hatchling's play as the changelings could simply fly over said obstacle and continue forward. However, what really gave Commander Brute, his guards, and their queen pause was what was shown on the object itself.
"What is it?" one of the guards asked to noling in particular. The one beside him tilted his head.
"Not sure. Commander Brute sir, what do you make of it?"
The changeling commander regarded the grunt for a moment before he looked back at the object, silently studying it for a second before narrowing his eyes.
"I'm not entirely sure, but I believe it's some sort of weapon."
The other changelings, queen included, all looked at Brute.
"How so, commander?" Chrysalis asked, to which Brute, rather then respond, slowly approached it instead.
"It's only a hunch my queen, maybe my intuition, but something tells me that this thing is no mere artifact."
Stopping just a few inches short of the object, Brute's eyes wandered over the cylinder's exterior, taking into consideration not the insanely bright color choice, but of the strange clusters of black markings that blanketed its surface, besides the dust that is. In fact, the more Brute focused on the strange black bunches, the quicker he was to realize that they were most likely the words of an alien language, though to what they were conveying and to whom it concerned, he did not know.
Still, he needed to make sure that this object wasn't still a threat to his queen. So what came next was obviously the most logical thing to do at that given moment.
"Brute!" Chrysalis yelled, causing the commander to turn her way. "Why in the great hive above did you just kick it?!"
"...I had to make sure it wasn't a threat to you, my queen."
She was baffled.
"So you just kicked it without even considering the possibility that it could've exploded or something?!"
The commander was silent for a moment as he looked her, then at the cylinder, then back at her again.
"But it didn't my queen. And given the layer of dust this object is covered in, along with the fact that I had seen no clear signs of levers, pulleys, or triggers of any kind, nor had I detected any magical-based detonator on or near the object, I had safely ruled out the possibility of this object being a trap."
Chrysalis was at a loss for words as she stared at Brute, one of her best, dumbfounded by his utter recklessness, yet simultaneously baffled by his bravery and just slightly turned on by his stoicism. That's why he was one of her best after all.
"...And the reason for the kick?"
"That, my queen? That was just me unsafely checking if it was a trap."
Excited bug horses noises.
"I-I see. well, uhm, please be sure to inform me first before you do something like that again."
"I will, my queen." He said, nodding his helmeted head.
Seeing and hearing his acknowledgement, Chrysalis sighed in relief before joining her commander alongside the strange object. The two were then joined shortly thereafter by the six guards who, while at first seemed reluctant to go near the alien item, were soon won over by their own curiosity as they examined the object for themselves, walking around it, flying over it, and even standing atop it while also adding in a kick here or a vain attempt at alien translation there. And while it seemed at this point that the object could be considered little more than a oversized stepping stone, one changeling would soon realize it was anything but.
"My queen! You should come see this!"
Hearing her title called, Chrysalis walked around the side of the cylinder to were one of her guards was staring worriedly at something.
"What is it, soldier?"
"My queen." He said, stepping away from the object and turning to her. "What do you suppose all this means?"
He then pointed to the cylinder itself, and as Chrysalis raised a brow at his antics, she nonetheless followed his hoof before stopping.
"My queen?" Brute asked as he stepped around the object along with the rest of the guards. Upon seeing his queen frozen in place, he blinked. "Is something the mat-"
As he was speaking, Brute had happened to glance at the object's surface before doing a double-take. This reaction was also repeated by the other guards as they too looked on at what was displayed on the cylinder's surface.
At one end of the cylinder below the edge of a large black cap, was what appeared to be the picture of a large, black shield. And within that shield were bright yellow symbols that dwarfed the ones on the backside. But below those symbols were two things that really stood out to the party.
The first being what looked to be a lightning bolt being shot from the symbols, which of course threw the queen and her changelings for a loop. Maybe the symbols meant something bold or violent if it needed the accompaniment of a bolt of lighting to get the message across? Though in regards to the second thing, Chrysalis herself was sure she at least had the basic idea of the message. And that message was, in a word, death.
"What are those things?" One of the guards asked.
"Not sure." Another replied. "They do kinda look like bugs though."
"And dead ones at that."
Glancing at her guards, Chrysalis wanted to say something, but remained silent as she stared at the creatures drawn onto the item's exterior. There were several of them in all, insectoid, different in shape but of relative size to one another. Each of them featured a number of legs twice or three times as many as the four below Chrysalis. And, as the guard had stated earlier before, each and every one of them were left laying on their backs, their legs all thrown up, broken and bent as they all appeared to have suffered a bitter demise by the bolt striking above them.
"It is possible, my queen." Brute suddenly said, catching her attention. "That these creatures were most likely destroyed by something wielding a great power." He narrowed his eyes. "A power that could apparently bring lightning down onto its foes."
A few changelings gulped at that. Chrysalis as well.
"You think so, commander?"
"I do my queen, which is why I believe we should hurry and find our missing before we encounter such a being."
"I-I see. Then let's go then."
And with that, Chrysalis swiftly turned and headed of at a brisk pace. Watching her go, Brute and the six other changelings exchanged looks with one another before, as one, they quickly followed after their queen.
Unbeknownst to the changelings however, that as they continued farther and further into the unknown, none of them had yet to notice the six gleaming red eyes that had been watching them since the start of their journey.
Raising his hoof once more, Brute then swiftly brought it down, slashing another white vine clean through with his hoof-mounted blade before moving forward onto the next.
This process continued for minutes on end as he and the rest of his queen's guards cut, slashed, and chopped their way through the mess of silky vegetation before them. It was rather strange that not a few minutes ago they had been walking unimpeded to where their missing were supposedly located. Luckily the queen had a spell that she could use to track down the missing changelings. But now? Well, Brute would be lying if he wasn't a bit skeptical of the spell's effectiveness as it lead them down a path that just screamed danger and dread with every step they took.
And really, how could it not. What with the path covered as it was in a mess of sticky, white vines that stuck to every surface in sight and clung to the hoof or wing if they so much as brushed by it. And not to mention the height of the brown blocks increasing dramatically as they rose high above the surface in every direction, practically snuffing out the morning light as a result and leaving the group to brace a darkness that was almost on par with the caves they were akin to traversing through not long ago. And let's not forget the fact that with every cut of snow-colored rope, a number of dust particles would be freed, thus reducing a guard or two to a cutely sneezing mess. And if that wasn't enough, all the dust from the constant cutting had left the air to fog slightly over with dust, thus further reducing the pace at which the changelings moved, if they weren't already moving slow enough when they first started.
"My queen!" Brute called, slicing through another vine. "Are you sure that this spell of yours is working?" The queen clicked her tongue at that.
"Of course it's working, Commander!" She said before faltering slightly on her words. "Though it has been a bit troublesome to maintain as of late."
Turning his head, Brute was about to ask his queen to repeat whatever she had just mumbled when one of the guards yelled something. Turning to him instead, Brute asked what was wrong when the guard simply pointed ahead and up.
And imagine the commander's surprise when he looked up and blinked in bafflement at the sight of one of their missing wagons, its contents still tied down as it hung dozens of feet above the floor tangled in a mess of white vines. And just beyond that, their missing changelings.
But despite the obvious wave of relief that washed over the group at finding their missing comrades, that relief was immediately replaced with dread as they found each of the three changelings swaddled in a bundle of white and attached to the strands of...a...massive...web.
"By the changeling goddess."
It was a spider web alright, there was no mistaking that. But the sheer size of it alone was as amazing as it was horrifying. And what's worse, the three changelings that the group could see were placed in the dead center of it.
"My queen." One of the guards hesitantly asked. "What do we do now that we found the missing?"
Turning to the guard, Chrysalis raised a brow.
"Isn't it obvious?" She pointed at the monster web. "Go rescue them!"
Hearing her order, the guard quickly saluted and with a nod to the other five, he set his wings abuzz as he flew up to the web with the five other changelings following shortly behind.
Once the guards had made it to their captive comrades, one of the changelings went to jostle one of the three awake when the changeling's eyes suddenly flew open and he began to scream and writhe, though with the webbing currently covering his limbs and snout, all that really came from him were muffled gasps and rustled wiggling.
"Whoa, whoa calm down! Were here to rescue you!"
The changeling quickly ceased in his actions to regard the guard with a blink.
"That's right." he said, nodding and smiling. "Just give us a second to get you and your buddies out of those ropes and we'll be outta here before you know it!" The ling however, looked to be terrified of something as he began and squirm while shaking his head furiously.
"Mm, mm. Mhu Mmm mhm mm memmh."
The guard raised a brow. "What?"
"MHm mm Mhmhm!"
Humming, the guard withdrew from his forehoof a blade which he then used to cut the binding covering the changelings mouth. A second later and the changeling's mouth was free and gasping greedily.
"You were saying?" One of the changelings asked, to which the drone snapped to him.
"What I was trying to say was that you all need to go now!"
"Why?" Another asked as he was looking over one of the other bound changelings.
"Because!" The changeling exclaimed, his eyes wild with fear. "The monsters'll devour us all!"
The guards looked to one another before looking back at the obviously delusional ling.
"Monsters?" a guard repeated skeptically. "What monste-"
Freezing in place, the six guards all blinked before slowly looking up into the darkness above and meeting the glare of six glowing red eyes which peered down on them from up high. Slowly, the eyes descended, and with them came the rest of the nightmarish beast. At what a beast it was. Black and red-striped exterior. Eight massively long legs. A set of dangerously sharp snapping mandibles. And passed all of that, a large body that seemed to shimmer and warp and...oh by all that is holy and unholy, it can camouflage.
"What the Tartarus is that?!" One guard yelled, drawing a spear as the others also brought their own weapons to bear.
"It's back!" The tied up Changeling screamed, trying and failing to break free from his silk-woven prison. "It came back and now it'll devour us all!"
Hearing that, the guards were shook beyond belief as the monster arachnid advanced towards them, hissing and chittering as it seemed to wet its fangs at the sight of its next prey.
It would sadly come to realize however that these creatures would be no simple snack as a sudden beam of green light impacted its back, causing it to hiss loudly in pain.
"What are you drones doing?!" Chrysalis barked, her horn alight with green magical energy. "Cut those changelings free now!"
With a buzz of her wings, Chrysalis took to the air, and with her horn now fully charged, she began to strafe the spider, flying in low to deliver utter magical hellfire and pulling up just before the spider could swat her out the sky. But try as she might, Chrysalis's attacks weren't having much effect on the creature at all, covering it in burn marks sure, but really she was only just irritating the thing at this point. And after being blasted one last time and failing to swat away the annoying bug attack it, the creature finally lost interest and turned to the others whom it thought would be easier to handle. But the giant bug once again found that things just weren't going its way as the changeling guards had managed to cut the first one free and were hastily working on the other two.
Now thoroughly pissed beyond belief, the spider hissed once before reeling back its head, took in a breathe of air, and sent forth a cannonball-sized wad of purple spit at the group.
Luckily, or rather unluckily, one of the guards managed to see the attack and dove in front of it in a bold attempt to shield the others. And upon contact with the vile projectile, the guard was promptly sent flying and crashing into the floor below. But despite the guard's armor somewhat breaking his fall, he soon began to cry out in either shock or pain as the entire right side of his armor began to melt before the eyes of the others, the material hissing and popping as it was slowly liquefied by the arachnid's acid.
Seeing what had befallen their friend, the guards quickened their cutting pace feverishly while the spider in turn readied itself to launch another spit attack, but was immediately halted in its progress as a torrent of magical bolts rained down onto its exterior, causing the beast to retreat slightly at the sudden assault.
Chrysalis meanwhile, was absolutely ablaze with rage as she fired shot after shot of pure magical energy into the spider's body, its face, everywhere she could as fast and as hard as she could. So what if her brain felt as it were going to explode at any moment? After seeing one of her changelings, one of her children, be stricken down before her very eyes, Enough was fucking enough. Something within her had snapped. And at that very moment, if she were to fall either from magical exhaustion or combat, she was damn sure going to at least take this insect down with her.
So with another scream-slash-battle-cry of motherly rage, she poured on the magic, leaving the bug little room for a counter attack as all it could do was slowly back away from the enraged bug pone. Hey, Hell hath no fury like a mad magic-yeeting mamma.
But after a few more moments of spraying the spider with green rays, Chrysalis paused her attack to recuperate. Totally not because she was a few magical blasts short of falling over, of course. But as she huffed and puffed, she found that that would soon be the case for her as the spider regarded her obvious tiredness for a moment before happily resuming its advance on the changelings now busily cutting the last changeling free. Against the clock and in need of a solution fast, Chrysalis was desperate for a solution, even if she hated the idea. But luckily it seemed as though the powers above were offering her a freebie as she happened to glance up and spot the salvation to her woes.
For even higher above the changelings and their foe was yet another web, and within its silky embrace rested a massive blue vase, one which just so happened to be suspended, held up literally by threads it seemed, directly over the spider's stupid unsuspecting head.
"Perfect." Chrysalis said as she charged up her horn. Then as she charged it, she quickly flew over to where her guards were and buzzed just a few feet between them and the spider who, as she expected, stopped to regard the sudden obstacle hovering before it.
"My queen!" One of the guards exclaimed as he looked up. "What are you-" He was then interrupted by Chrysalis as she spoke, her eyes still on the spider in front of her.
"Are you all almost done cutting that one free?"
"Wha- yes my queen, we're just about. But why-"
Just be ready to fly when I give the signal, got it?" She spared him and the others a quick glance. "The same goes for the rest of you. Am I understood?"
With little else to say and no time to argue with their queen, the guards nodded and finished up on cutting the last strands of web covering the unconscious changeling. As they did so, Chrysalis turned to see the spider still silently standing before her, as if it were waiting for her to make the first move. And that was exactly what she was going to do.
"I promised my changelings that I would offer them a second chance." Chrysalis began, her horn glowing a bright green. "That I would give them a place where they would no longer be hungry. A place that was safe. A place that they could call home." The green aura around Chrysalis's horn began to morph in shape, shifting to that of a green flame. "But you, vile creature, dare to harm one of my children?!" The flame over her horn sparked and flickered. "I may not show it, but I care for my own. But you?" She narrowed her eyes menacingly at the spider. "I do not care for in the slightest. For my name is Queen Chrysalis." She raised her head, flaming horn flaming brighter than ever before. "And I will have. My. Revenge!"
And with that exclamation, Chrysalis fired her flaming bolt straight into the sky, or rather, straight into the webs holding up the vase.
With appearance akin to that of a green flare, the ball of flaming magic erupted upon making contact with the strings, bursting forth and quickly spreading over the strings of webbing like water on a scroll. Yet after a moment, then another, and another, nothing else actually happened.
Looking back at the spider, Chrysalis blinked as the creature before her made a noise.
Then did it again.
And again to the point where all Chrysalis felt besides anger and rage was embarrassment and disappointment as she soon realized the spider was laughing at her after it realized her efforts were for nothing.
With the sound of flaming web ripping apart and the woosh noise that accompanied the falling of a giant vase, Chrysalis only had to give her changelings a look before they all took to the air and were out of harms way in a instant. The spider however, remained standing on the web, spending the last second of its life saying a single expletive in arachnese before its entire body was brought under the vase's full weight, was pushed through its own web, and was left hissing in terror as it was sent hurtling towards the ground below. Its cries for help and sorriness also fell on deaf ears as the sound of glass shattering on wooden floor deafened all nearby from any and all other sounds.
The sickening crunch sound that the spider's body made as it was splattered under vase?
Just one example.
Sniff Sniff Sniiiifff
'Huh. Nothing under master's bed either. Figures.'
Crawling out from underneath Rick's bed, Chimera took a moment to shake off the dust and stretch as he checked that spot off his list. Looks like the search continues.
Oh? What was he searching for?
Well, ever since he saw that strange anamally- anamelie- anamolopy-...that strange something happen to the picture wall, Chimera had made it his mission to find whatever the cause was for the strange something. But ever since then, the investigation has remained ongoing and evidence yet to be undiscovered. Yet, mind you.
But sadly as the young pup ventured back into the hallway, downcast and empty pawed, he knew that there were few places in the house left to search for that strange something. And since he couldn't go outside without his master's permission or that the search would inevitably end when his master did return from parts unknown, the clock was ticking.
Still, the little pup was adamant to solve this case, for he knew deep down inside that the bloodhound in him wouldn't rest until he found what he was looking for. Because really, Chimera was just sure he was so close to finding something, anything.
As if a clue was right under his nose, even.
Or...above it, apparently.
Looking up, Chim was absolutely sure he heard something.
The something that may have been the cause of that same something earlier before, perhaps?
Maybe. Could be. Either way, Chimera was going to see for himself. And that rope dangling from the ceiling was likely his ticket to that something.
So with little else holding him back, or to give proper reasoning, he made a mad dash for the rope. But just as he neared it, he suddenly veered off, aiming instead for the small shelf nearby. Then after channeling his inner greyhound, he jumped, cleared the top of the shelf, jumped from the shelf, and managed to catch a bit of air before nabbing the end of the rope with his teeth.
With his mission half successful, Chimera dangled in the air for a moment to catch his breathe before he began to swing from side to side. And after some more swinging, he was soon delighted to hear the soft click of the attic door opening, a sound which prompted the pup to let go of the rope and land back on his paws just as the hatch swung open and the ladder descended.
Coming around to the front of the ladder, Chimera stopped and stared up into the dusty space above him. So that's where the something was hiding. Clever. But not clever enough.
With a happy ruff and a tail wag, Chimera ascended the steps.
"You...You did it, my queen! You killed the beast!"
"She really did."
"Of course she did, that's why she's the queen!"
"Was there any doubt that she wouldn't? By the way Skel, you owe me your love ration now."
Seeing and hearing her changelings alive and happy, Chrysalis couldn't help but let the smallest of smiles escape her as she basked in the glory of her victory. And as she stood atop a shard of what used to be the large vase that solidified her victory, she couldn't have felt more alive as she stared upon the remains of her foe. Though with its body thoroughly and graphically smooshed, save for the one exposed and still twitching leg, there was little else to see. Yeesh.
"Ugh." Turning her head, Chrysalis stepped down from her perch and proceeded down the path that they had come from, wanting more than anything to leave the scene lest the smell and sight get to her. "Come along my children. Let's return to the swarm at once."
Despite what she said however, the rest of her guards did not immediately follow. The reason for this? Well it only took a moment for Chrysalis to look over her shoulder at the guards all circled around their fallen comrade to realize her mistake.
Power-walking over, the guards gave her space to see what had become of their valiant friend, and to put it quite frankly, it wasn't good.
The changeling in question looked to be severely injured. His armor had been removed and put off to the side, and for good reason as it allowed the others to see that for where the acid had initially made contact, the chitin had been stripped away, leaving the green and bandaged flesh below exposed and partially burned by its alien contents. Luckily the armor was just thick enough to absorb most of the acid, but even still though.
"Commander Brute." Chrysalis said, turning to the commander who was hunched over and examining the injured ling. "What's his condition?"
Glancing at his queen, Brute continued his examination before sighing.
"Not good, my queen." He then stood up. "While it's a miracle that the acid didn't break through the flesh, he is still suffering from some sort of poison." He then paused as the guard coughed violently, splattering green-purplish blood over the brown floor. "I've done what I could to slow the process, but we still need to get him back to the medics and have him fully cured before his condition worsens."
Grimacing at the report, Chrysalis nodded before turning to her other guards.
"I need one of you to bring this one back to the swarm. Who'll it be?" Immediately, five hooves went up. "Okay then Um..you." She said, pointing to a guard in the back. "See to it that this one is quickly escorted back, and stay with him until we return. Got it? Good. Now go!"
Nodding his head, the volunteer approached his friend, carefully lifted him up, placed him over his back, and with a buzz of his wings, took off.
Seeing the two go, Chrysalis sighed before turning to the others.
"Alright then. We'll be flying out next. Let's g-"
"Wait, my queen!"
Turning to one who interrupted her, she raised a brow.
"What is it?"
He bowed his head.
"I apologize, my queen. But we won't be able to fly out of here on account of all this webbing." He then motioned to his wings, which appeared to be glued to his back by the white substance. The other guards, including the three changelings they just rescued were also in a similar bind as well. "Th-The only reason why Skel was able to fly out was because he was guarding the rear."
Blinking, Chrysalis looked incredulously at the saddened guard, then at the others, then to Brute who merely shrugged.
"I-I see. Wait a moment. If that's the case, then why did all of you volunteer to carry the injured one back?"
"Any one of us would've gladly carried him on hoof back to the swarm, my queen." One guard said stoically. The others hastily nodded.
Whether she considered that extremely brave or exceedingly idiotic, words still escaped Chrysalis as she tried to comment on that. Instead, she simply shook her head and began to walk back the way they came.
"Very well. Let's just head back to the swarm on hoof then."
Seeing her go, Commander Brute looked to the remaining guards before issuing two to carry the unconscious changelings while another supported the third in walking and the last one took up the rear guard. Once they were all set, He then caught up to the queen while the others followed.
"Wow, that was crazy, huh?" One of the guards asked as the changeling on his back snoozed away. The other changeling-carrying changeling beside him nodded.
"For real. I'm just glad we made it out in one piece." He said before grimacing. "Still, shame what happened to Kino. Hope he's going to be okay."
The guard helping the conscious changeling along chucked.
"Don't worry Drax. I'm sure Kino's going to pull through. He's lucky like that." He then turned to the changeling at his side. "Speaking of being lucky. I'm surprised that that giant bug didn't make a meal out of you or your friends before we got there."
The changeling chuckled dryly.
"Yes. It is rather strange that it didn't eat me when it had the freedom to do so." He shrugged. "But I guess it was likely because it was saving us for the others."
The guard smiled. "Heh, yeah. Maybe."
"Wait a second." He said, suddenly stopping to fully look at the changeling. "What do mean by oth-"
"More monsters. That's what you meant. Now I get it, now I bucking get it!"
"Shut up Cicade!"
"You shut up Zenomor! Cause I'll shut up when we stop getting attacked by giant monsters!"
"Be quiet the both of you and just keep running!"
"Watch out soldier!"
"Whoa! Heh. Thanks for the save, Burrow!"
Cursing to the heavens above, Chrysalis huffed tiredly as she willed her legs to press on despite them screaming to do otherwise. Glancing to the side, she saw that Brute was keeping pace with her despite the difference in their heights. Stupid Brute and his dummy strong legs. Glancing over her shoulder also didn't favor relief as she saw her guards struggling to keep ahead of the two massive black beasts hungrily crawling after them. And if the hissing and snapping mandibles weren't enough, the occasional volleys of acid being launched at her changelings' backsides was just the icing on the cake. Luckily one of her soldiers was able to spot the projectiles in time and warn the rest, though how he could with that helmet of his covering his eyes was anyling's guess.
Still, Chrysalis was hoping for another miracle right about now, and at this point, she'd settle for just about anything really. And just as they skirted around another corner, It looked as though it was Chrysalis's lucky day today as that large cylinder they had passed by came into view.
How did that translate to being lucky? Well if anything, they could at least use it to impede the monsters' progress. But just as Chrysalis and her changelings were about to pass by the object, they all slowed to a stop as a strange noise came from the creatures behind them.
Turning around, Chrysalis and her kin were somewhat surprised to find that the large creatures halted in their chase, their movements hesitant as they stared at the changelings, or rather, at what was in front of them.
Noticing this hesitation, and after looking between the monsters and the pictures on the cylinder's surface, Chrysalis was quick to put two and two together.
"You were right, Commander Brute." She suddenly said, drawing the commander's attention. "This thing is a weapon." She then looked to the creatures, smiling. "And those things know it."
With their worst fear seemingly uncovered, the giant spiders both took a step back, an action that gave the changeling queen an idea. Turning back to the cylinder, Chrysalis approached it before, to the surprise of every creature present, she began to push it. Gritting her fangs, she grunted as she tried to push the cylinder forward with her head, an action that gave the spiders pause while her changelings simply looked on in utter bafflement.
Blinking from his stupor however, it didn't take long for Brute to realize his queen's unspoken intentions and after doing so, he was quick on the follow-up. Turning to his guards, he barked.
"Well don't just stand there. Help your queen!"
Sobering from their own stupors, the guards rushed to their queen's aid, taking up positions on both her sides before beginning to push as well. And not a second after they began to grunt and hiss did Brute decide to join, taking a bit of a running start before using his head as a ram to kick-start the can into motion. And boy did that get the job done. For as his helmet made contact, the cylinder suddenly lurched forward, and with the combined might of the changelings and their queen, the cylinder slowly began to roll forth, the metallic groaning of the object seemingly syncing with its straining pushers.
But seeing as they were only pushing the can away as apposed to using it, the two spiders looked to one another before coming to the realization that these creatures didn't actually know how to use it. And that little fact alone was just enough to completely dash away the spiders' fears, leaving two monster arachnids to share a spider chuckle before slowly approaching their prey, smug as could be.
Seeing their pursuers closing in, Chrysalis swore under her breathe as the jig was apparently up now. But would that stop her? Nope. Because that just gave her all the more reason to go all in now.
Tapping into the last of her magical reserves, Chrysalis used what little magic she had to engulf the cylinder in a green aura. Then with a wave of her horn, she pushed.
Completely caught by surprise, Chrysalis had little time to properly react before a strange mist erupted from one end of the cylinder, engulfing her and those changelings to her right. Caught in the spray, Chrysalis's focus shattered and the aura holding the can disappeared as well, allowing nature to take the wheel as the force of the can's spray sent it rolling off course and into a wall.
But all that really didn't matter at the moment for when the spray had hit Chrysalis, she was on the floor in an instant, her limbs apparently succumbing to the unknown effects of the gas as she coughed and gagged violently. Blinking through teary eyes, she saw that the guards who had been on her right had also suffered the same fate as they too were reduced to a limp, coughing state.
"My queen! Cough. Cough. Are you okay?!"
Though the world looked to be caught in a blurry haze, Chrysalis could still just make out the commander's worried features. Blinking a few more times, the haziness quickly faded away as all she could now see was Brute's teary blue eyes. Though whether those tears were for her or caused by the gas left a strange feeling in Chrysalis's heart as she was helped up by the changeling commander.
"Yes my queen, it's me." He said, grunting as he threw her hoof over his shoulder and boosted her up on to the other three hooves. "Are you alright? Are you hurt? Please tell me, my queen."
Looking down at her commander, Chrysalis was slow to respond as she looked to the others, seeing those who had been inflicted upon also being tended to by those who hadn't.
"I-I'm alright. Just cough cough just a little weak is all."
"Sigh. I'm just glad you're alive, my queen." Brute said before glancing to the side. "Though, it seems we won't be able to rest anytime soon.
Following his gaze, Chrysalis grimaced at the two spiders that stood a ways away from them, seemingly having witnessed their misfortune and having moved a bit farther back as a result.
"Tsk. Of course." She said, narrowing her eyes at the creatures as the two groups stood in a standoff.
Looking from the bugs to her changelings, Chrysalis was at a momentary loss on how to proceed. Sure, she could order her guards to do battle with the creatures, but considering the size difference between them, the acid that the creatures possess, and the current condition of herself and her guards, it didn't take a genius to know that the odds were definitely against them. A plan of transformation and deception perhaps? No, out of the question. With her magical reserves being practically nonexistent as they were now, she would be lucky to still be able to cast an illumination spell without keeling over. And even if she could transform into one of the abominations in front of her, it would still be for naught considering she had neither the strength to maintain said form, nor the knowledge about how the creatures of this world functioned, some uncanny similarities aside. Giant alien spiders were still giant alien spiders after all. What to do, what to do?
Eh, worth a shot.
Seeing all other potential options as worthless, Chrysalis bit the bullet as she resigned herself to committing such an unqueenly act. With a sigh and a grumble, Chrysalis closed her eyes and, after a second of hesitation, began.
'Uhm. Changeling Goddess above? Past Changeling queens before me? It's me, Chrysal- ahem, Queen Chrysalis. I uhm, sigh, look I know that no queen should resort to something so desperate and pathetic but...can you, any of you, help me out here? Me and my children that is. Can you like, help us...or something? Send me a message? Maybe grant me some magical power? Anything? ...P-Pl-Please?'
'Well...that was just a utter waste of-'
"My queen!" One of the guards suddenly yelled, causing Chrysalis to open her eyes. "Another one of those monsters is coming from the other side!"
Looking over, Chrysalis's dread rose to a crescendo as she did in fact spot the leg of another one of those insufferable creatures slowly creeping around a corner further up ahead. And as the creature's head and front half came into view, Chrysalis was already halfway through the process of cussing out every single one of her ancestors, changeling goddess included and repeated several times over, before she suddenly and rather shockingly realized that the spider wasn't crawling around the corner so much as it was actually dragging its front half forward.
And why was it dragging its upper half forward? Because it only had its upper half, as the rest of it was nowhere to be found, instead leaving behind a trail of green gore and guts which seeped and pooled from its open abdomen, or what remaining bits still classified as its abdomen.
Cried the spider as all nearby, yes even the spiders, flinched at its gurgling pleas for help. But in another shocking turn of events, the half-spider-half-paint-roller was forcibly silenced when a massive black and brown paw came into view, hovered over the trembling spider's form, and fell.
In an instant, the spider's life was snuffed from this world, its body reduced to a meat pancake in seconds as bones snapped and flesh was flattened, leaving only a twitching mess of green and black to be slowly dragged away out of the viewers' sight.
But where the view was hidden, the sound remained crystal clear to the mind as a horrifyingly cacophony of tearing and chewing left little to the imagination. And once the invisible feasting audibly ceased, hearts soon pounded and limbs quivered as all were shook at attention to the large, booming footfalls that steadily grew louder as, with a deathly slow and dare I say dramatic-as-hell entrance that could chill one to the very bone and or exoskeleton, the new challenger made their entrance known.
What first came into view from behind the corner was one massive paw, stained green from the fresh blood of its recent victim. Then came another paw, equally soiled as its mirror.
Then the maw appeared, a growling and panting thing with rows of razor sharp teeth that were caked in spider gore and complimented by strings of flesh and even a leg or two which still dangled from in between its partly opened fangs.
And finally the rest of its body revealed itself, and boy was it a heart-pounding crescendo and a half sight to behold. A massive body of mainly black with varying tones of brown that splattered its coat like paint, up to a tail of mostly light brown which was just as, if not more fluffier than the rest of the beast's coat, borderline cloud-like really, that curled over itself. Two more paws came into view, not as drenched in the blood of its meal as the front two were but instead hinted at the presence of strong muscles likely equipped to creatures of the hunting or fighting variety. Further passed its maw were also two massive, floppy ears that twitched and turned with its head, no doubt in search of its next meal.
Next meal. Next...meal.
Blinking from her horrified state, Chrysalis looked from her frozen soldiers, to the awe-struck spiders behind them, to the large cylinder beside them, and finally to the monster mutt that had yet to notice them. This idea of hers. It just might work.
'Brute can you hear me?'
'Wha- oh. Yes my queen, I can.'
'Good. Because right now I need you to get the others behind that thing beside us as quickly and as quietly as possible. Can you do that?'
'Well- I could, my queen. But why can't y-'
'Because I need to cast one last spell commander, and its hard enough as it is just keeping this connection steady. So can you please do what I ask of you?'
'...Yes, my queen.'
'Good. Then get ready, cause when I give the signal, I won't have much time after.'
'Alright, my queen...wait. What do you mean by-.'
Before he could finish, the mental connection between him and his queen was severed. Blinking, he looked at her only to find her charging up her horn. Meeting her eye, there was a silent moment between them before she suddenly nodded and so did he. Looking over to the others, he quickly sent a quick call over the local hivemind and, after seeing them brake from their stupors to answer it, he gave the order.
With their orders received, the other guards nodded and made their way around the can, and after all were behind it including Brute, he looked to his queen who simply nodded again before activating the spell she had been casting all the while.
Nothing outrageous mind you. In all honesty it was little more than a simple illumination spell with a bit more juice in it. But since Chrysalis was pretty much on her last legs magically-speaking, it had taken everything in herself to keep the spell stable as Brute and the guards hid. And once they were in place, All Chrysalis had to do from that point was condense the spell into a sphere, drop the spell-filled sphere, and dive for cover.
And not a moment after her chitin hit the floor behind the cylinder did the next part of her master plan fall into place.
Upon hitting the floor, the green orb burst, erupting in a bright light which lasted only for a second but still got the job done as the resulting flash and accompanying hisses of surprise were just enough of a oddity to capture the monster mutt's attention.
Turning its head, the beast regarded the two spiders with a tilt of its head before it proceeded towards them, leaving the group of changelings it passed by to go completely unnoticed as it advanced on the spiders which slowly advanced away from it. Or one of them did at least.
The other one, slightly bigger than its comrade but still dwarfed by the beast before it, attempted to stand its ground, choosing instead to face the creature head-on as opposed to fleeing, despite the obvious evidence that literally dripped from the monster's maw and paws strongly suggesting otherwise.
Yeah, maybe that whole heroic bit seemed cooler in the spider's head. But reality is a cruel mistress after all. And that fact was proven correct when the monster simply raised its paw and dropped it onto the spider, not enough to kill it instantly mind you, but just enough to reduce it to a pinned and struggling state.
Looking up from its second caught snack, the monster went to regard the other spider when it realized that the spider was already gone, the dust from its previous position kicked up as it had made its hasty escape while the beast was distracted. Huffing slightly at that, the beast set its sights back on the spider still squirming and hissing expletives under its paw and, with little care or worry, it simply lowered its head, bit down on the spider, and then simply lifted it back up. And with its fate pretty much sealed at this point, the spider could do nothing but squirm and hiss in the jaws of its executioner who, after giving the spider a moment to exhaust itself, casually closed its maw, sinking jaws into flesh and snuffing life from the world as the spider squirmed once, twitched twice, then finally went limp.
With its second meal now skewered in its fangs, the beast's tail wagged happily as it continued forward, hoping to catch up to the other spider as it left the one in its mouth to be thoughtfully chewed upon like some non-squeaking toy.
Still remaining unnoticed by the beast, Brute and the other changelings watched as it walked off in search of more food, apparently. Once it was a good distance away, he sighed in relief.
"Thank the changeling goddess above that that thing didn't find us." Watching it go, he chuckled grimly as he then turned to his queen. "Well, my queen. Your master plan really did save u-"
But once he had turned to her, his heart skipped a beat at the sight of her unconscious form.
Looking her over, he grimaced as the others also took notice and circled her downed self.
"What happened to her?" One guard asked.
"Is she..?" Another hesitantly wondered.
"She just fainted." He said, glancing at the guards beside him. "Likely due to an overuse of magic."
He then took care to get under her before lifting her up with a grunt.
"We need to get her back to the swarm so the medics can help me. Let's go."
Coming out of cover, Brute spared the massive mutt one last glance before he quickly headed off towards the others, his snoozing queen slung over his back while the other guards followed close behind, hoping against all else that their queen would be okay and knowing full well that they had a lot to share with the others once they returned.
Sadly though, that also meant that while they were thinking of the swarm and their queen, they were also oblivious to notice the ominous glint of a blue eye that most definitely noticed them.
When Queen Chrysalis awoke for the second time that day, she was, for a lack of a better term, pissy. Why? Two main reasons, actually. The first one was of course regarding her role as a ruler. Meaning that Chrysalis, being the all powerful and dominating bug-mare that she was, and a sexy one at that, had to always maintain a constant display of power and tactic, for as any and all great queens before her knew was one of, if not the most crucial factor when it came to commanding her subjects. After all, what semi-competent changeling would follow their queen if she appeared as weak as a newly hatched grub? Or as knowledgeable as one for that matter? Noling, that's who. Yet who was the one who led her own into the unknown, unknowing of the potential dangers that even a common drone would've spotted with ease? No. No, she knew it would've been dangerous and yet she dismissed them all as if they were myth. And because of that, not only did she put her life at risk, but Brute's, her guards', maybe even the whole of her hive for goddess's sake.
And that of course lead to the other reason why Chryissy was pissy. For not only was she just a leader, but a mother as well. Dash away all those rumors and remarks about her disinterest for her lings, uncaring if they felt pain or unconcerned when the few were fed and the many were left with rationed scraps.
She cared dammit! She always did! When it came to her enemies, oh sure! Call her heartless, call her cruel, call her anything and everything under the sun. But when it came to her changelings, her children...she always cared. She'd do just about anything for them. Changeling goddess above, between wagging war against Equestria itself and nearly breaking every law including those put in place by the creator, she pretty much had done everything she possibly, and technically impossibly, could have done for her little changelings. And yet what did all of that do for her in the end? Just prove to her that she was, without a doubt, a failure of a que-
"My queen!? MY QUEEN!"
Opening her eyes, Queen Chrysalis was met with the bewildered look of one of her lings, who not a moment ago had been trying to shake her awake. Blinking away tears (?), the royal brow was furrowed as the drone stepped back and breathed a sigh of relief.
"My queen! Oh thank the goddess above you're alright." The ling said, her heart rate returning to normal. "I-I feared the worst and assumed something alien was causing you ill."
"Oh?" Was all she could reply with. The changeling nodded.
"Oh yes! At least that's what I thought when you suddenly began to cry in your sleep and lash about."
"My queen, was there perhaps another reason why-"
"You will forget what you saw and never speak of any of this again. Am I clear?"
"O-Oh! Yes, my queen, of course!"
"Good. Now..." She trailed off, looking about and finding herself resting on a blanket laid in the corner within what seemed to be a large and shrouded structure. Cubed in shape and holding within its confines a number of massive tablets that where soon found out to actually be books of massive scale and varying volumes. How could she tell? The smell of aged paper was one giveaway. The five scribelings off to the side currently standing atop an open one and trying to make out the symbols they stepped upon and around was the other. On a side note, she noticed that the only sources of light for the room were either from the candles that rested around her blanket, or from the massive gaping hole on the wall behind and above her that shone light from outside and onto the pages of the book covered in crimson robes. "Where exactly are we?"
"Oh right! While you and the others were gone, one of the other changelings had found this place after flying through that big hole up there." She pointed up at the opening. "Didn't find much else besides those books over there...and some sticky rope, apparently." That last bit made Chrysalis shiver a bit. The changeling didn't notice. "Anyways, after you got back...or, well...when the commander carried you back..." a small blush spread across the queen's face. The changeling also didn't notice that. "He and Ruby decided to have you rest in here.
"Why?" She asked.
"Privacy." The drone responded before smiling. "They also didn't want the others to all be crowding around you while you recovered."
"Anyways, my queen. I was assigned by Commander Brute to see to your medical needs while you regain your strength and magical reserves."
Looking up at the changeling, it was only then that she just noticed the cute little, and most definitely stolen, white nurse's cap resting on the ling's head. She in turn beamed.
"Uh huh." Chrysalis nodded as she slowly rose to her holed hooves, almost fell due to their light shaking, and was righted with some aid from her medical aid. "And your name is..?"
"It's Sylphia, my queen. And it's an honor!"
"Right. Well thank you for your assistance, but I can handle walking just fine."
"Are you sure, my queen?"
Bowing her head, the little nurse stepped aside, allowing her queen space to move. And move she did, though after a few steps, she paused, looking back up to the opening in the wall. Sighing, she then began to put some energy into those wings of hers before the ling beside her quickly waved her off.
"Wait, my queen!"
"Please, my queen, you must save your energy."
"Well is there some other way out of this place?" The queen asked, raising a slightly irritant brow at the slightly shaking changeling.
"Oh, but of course my queen! Just over there actually." She said before pointing with a holed hoof over to the other wall on their right, which as Chrysalis looked over, saw for herself another exit. Though really, it was in actuality nothing more than a triangular hole cut, or more so sawed, through the wall with a bit of ripped tarp acting as a makeshift door, but hey, at least it was something.
"Hmm..." Chrysalis hummed before casually shrugging. "Very well. Come along." And so she went, her little nurse following after as she made for the door, tipped her head, passed through the tarp, and stepped into the open light.
Funny enough, only after the nurse followed her queen out of the massive box did one of the scribes still atop the open book finally blink awake from his cipher-stupor and look up and around, noting his queen's absence, before shrugging and simply returning to his deciphering once more without a second thought.
"Ever wonder why we're here, mate?"
"I mean, how we're still alive and all, mate. Ever wonder how we're still kicking even after all the stuff we've been through?"
"Really, mate? Like...never?"
"Huh...well after all the fighting and hiding and...and now that we're in this new place, I just got to thinking is all."
"You think any of that stuff that the commander told us about was tru-"
"What's wro- woah. Now look at that. Looks like a, like a paw print but...big...real big. You ever seen something like this, mate?"
"Yeah, me neither. Think we should bring this up with Miss Ruby?"
"Alright. Let's head back then an-"
"...Oi, Mandi...please t-tell me that's you pulling my hoof, mate."
"Oi. Mandi. It's...it's right behind me...isn't it."
Pant Pant Pant
"Are you okay, my queen?"
"Are you feeling well, my queen?"
"Yes. Very much so."
"Are your magic stores back to their normal capacity?"
Frowning profusely, Queen Chrysalis facehoofed before glancing up at the crowd that had gathered around her the moment she had stepped out and into the open. First it was the two guards that were standing just outside the doorway sans door, then came the changelings that had been laying or wandering about nearby, and pretty soon nearly every changeling under her command was among the throng of changelings worrying over her condition. Course, it was cute that they cared, but after being asked the same questions several dozen times over, the queen's patience was waning by the millisecond. Luckily however, her patience did in fact pay off in the end as she saw her saving grace marching stoically towards her.
"My queen!" Commander Brute exclaimed, causing the crowd to cease its cries almost instantly. And upon his arrival, they immediately parted, allowing him and the two guards at his flank unimpeded access to their ruler. After a pair of salutes and a quick bow, the changeling commander raised his head with a small but relieved smile. "Am I truly glad to see that you're back on your hooves." He then turned to ling beside her . "As for you. You've done your hive a tremendous service, Sylphia."
The nurse giggled.
"No trouble at all, Commander!"
Nodding his head, he then turned back to Chrysalis.
"So my queen, what are your orders now that you're awake?"
Blinking, the queen raised a brow at him before glancing at the others, whom also appeared to be just as intently curious as to what she wished for them to do next.
"Oh, well...first, all of you." She glanced about at the changelings crowding her before shaking a hoof in a shooing manner. "Leave me and the commander be." And like that, the crowd dispersed. Seeing them go, Chrysalis then addressed her little commander once again. "Now, would you please inform me of all that has happened while I was..."
"Unconscious, my queen?" Brute warily proposed, causing the taller changeling to squint at him for a moment, before tiredly sighing the next.
"Yes. While I was...unconscious."
Grimacing, the commander glanced at his guards and nodded, a silent cue which the two acknowledged with a salute before wandering off somewhere else. He too then sighed before looking back up at the queen with a somewhat tired expression that the queen ever rarely saw replace his usually stoic features.
"Sigh. Honestly my queen? Things had been a bit...rough while you were recovering."
"How so?" She curiously asked. He looked off to the side.
"After we had returned to the hive with you...as you were, the others were in disarray. Things only got worse after we told them about the creatures we encountered, the massive canine in particular was especially to blame for the panic that ensued shortly thereafter." The queen cringed at that, Brute could only nod. "Luckily the guards and I were able to calm the others down before things really got out of hoof. After that, I had several guards go out and patrol the perimeter. And while I'm still waiting to hear from two of my guards, the rest have given the all clear...for now, at least."
Humming, the queen thought for a moment before she raised a brow as well as another question.
"Speaking of guards, how is the injured one from our group doing?"
Brute shook his head.
"Not good...but, not terrible either. To say the least, he's...stable for the time being. Miss Ruby is seeing to his recovery in the structure over there." Brute said, pointing to another one of the large structures off to the side where several wagons lay parked out front beside a tarped entryway.
Smiling just a bit, Chrysalis quickly dropped it before Brute could notice. She gave a single nod.
"Good. I will of course want an update on his status later. Given either by Ruby or soldier himself if possible."
"But of course, my queen."
The commander hummed.
"Well, regarding our love supply-"
Blinking, both Chrysalis and Brute paused as there ears twitched in unison. And after turning their heads, saw that they weren't the only ones as every changeling out and about also stopped whatever they were doing to regard whatever it was that Chrysalis and Brute had heard.
Swiveling her ears to the side, Chrysalis's breath hitched as she felt that tremble that everyling around her sure as Tartarus also felt as well. Turning towards the direction her ears pointed, she narrowed her eyes. Following his queen's lead, Brute raised a hoof and, with a flick, drew forth the blade attached.
"Yes, I know." Chrysalis said shortly, her eyes flicking to her subjects as the few soldiers around brought their own weapons to bear while the others slowly backed away. "It, approaches."
"Guards!" Brute suddenly barked. " Ready yourselves! Protect your queen and fellow lings with your li-"
Suddenly without warning, there came a faint mix of yelling and buzzing before a pair of changelings burst forth from around the corner of one of the larger stacks of brown cubes, their combined squeals of peril as they half flew half skidded towards the others being just enough of an oddity to stop Brute mid-sentence before all nerves were un-steeled at the appearance of their pursuer.
With a jump, the massive mutt bounded into view, airborne for only a second before it landed and struck the floor with just enough of a force that caused its immediate prey to hit the deck while the rest were left staggered or stumbling.
Dropping low, The demon of a dog brought its giant gleaming teeth to bear before the two cowering changelings below it before letting loose a beastly bark, adding on to the overall fear factor and causing the pair to embrace one another in comedically conjoined terror.
With a burst of buzzing wings and a shout nearly on par with that of the royal Canterlot voice, Chrysalis was standing before the ferocious fido in an instant, her glare radiating with so fierce a fiery anger that even the two guards whom she stood defensively over could literally taste the raw, negative emotions that seemed to radiate from their queen in waves, and their shivering only doubled as a result.
"My queen!" Brute shouted from the rear. "What are you-"
"NOT NOW, BRUTE!" Chrysalis snapped, side-eyeing him with searing death. The commander immediately shut up. That same eye then fell on the two changelings below her. They froze. "Go." They did. Watching them scrabble off to safety, Chrysalis's eye softened for a moment before she turned back to the dog, her gaze now narrowing to a confined rage. "So...I take it those vile beasts from before weren't enough to sate your hunger, beast?" The pup paused, tilting its head at her curiously. "Were you not pleased with those things which I offered to you in return for allowing me and my own passage through your lands that you still desire to devour us, beast?!" The dog blinked. "Are the forces of this world so cruel and wrathful to all who enter their domain that they must be sought after and exterminated like some changeling-goddess-damned plague?!"
Woah. Okay, now the tiny talking bug-thing was starting to give the giant little pup a bit of a fright. So much so that it actually whimpered and took one booming (at least to the changelings watching in baffled silence) step back. But the queen didn't notice nor did she probably care, pressing her advance anyway.
"I mean honestly! Whoever or whatever your master is, do they not care for others? Are they so heartless and wretched that they would send a hound from Tartarus to snuff the life of a mother and her children after all of that which she had done in the hopes of giving them a better one?!"
Wait. Wait a minute. Now wait just a fucking minute.
'Did...did she just...insult master?' The pup thought. After all, she did use some big words that, while the pup may not have known their exact definition, he damn well could guess that they at least SOUNDED like they were supposed to. 'My master?' The pup further inwardly inquired. The warm, generous, forgiving human who had shown him nothing but love and care nearly all his life? The human who sheltered him, fed him, and essentially raised him as if he were his first-born? That same master?
"And another thing-!"
Chrysalis froze at the deep thundering that was the beast's sudden growling. Looking up, a shiver ran down the monarch's barrel as her widened eyes stared right back at themselves through the reflective gleam of the hound's teeth brought to snarling bear.
The dog narrowed its mismatched eyes at her, seemingly begging the changeling queen to throw shade at its master just one more time. The queen in return, with her vast wisdom and superior tactic, was silent a moment (and just a tiny bit terrified) as she very carefully thought over what her next words should be. But as she was thinking, really just stalling at this point, she suddenly picked up on something from the hivemind. Another request for a private link between her and a certain commander. She accepted it immediately.
'My queen, what are you doing?! You must run now!'
'Brute, please, I'm handling this.'
'T-Truly, my queen?'
'No, of course not, you fool! Can't you see that this beast is making ready to attack me?!'
'Yes. Very much so. Which is why I highly recommend that you- oh goddess my queen, look out!'
"Huh?" Blinking, Chrysalis realized to her utmost horror that while she had been mentally conversing with Brute, she had made the gravest of mistakes by glancing back at the commander, whose eyes went wide with terror the moment before she realized her folly and quickly spun about. A gaping maw greeted her back. And you know what else? In that moment, that second in time that seemed to slow down for whatever overly-dramatic reason, the words she'd been grasping for earlier suddenly came back to her. As were the monster mutt's giant teeth as it lunged at her with not just the intention to kill or consume, but to avenge its master's soiled name as well.
Gravel popped and cracked as Rick pulled his car into the driveway of the Mason family's homestead before coming to a rumbling stop just out front of his parent's old house.
"Again Ricky, I can't thank you enough for coming in when you did. You're a real life-saver you know that?"
Taking a moment to turn the radio's volume down low and put his ride in park, Rick chuckled.
"Sure Suzy, whatever you say."
"I'm serious, Rick! If it weren't for you, We would've been in one hell of a mess with the press."
Pressing once on the ignition button, the growling of the car's engine ceased instantly and Rick, after a moment of soaking in the silence of his car and plushness of his seat, sighed exasperatedly.
"Well if the folks in HR actually did their damn jobs, we wouldn't be having this conversation now would we?"
There came an equally tired sigh from the other end of the call.
"Yes Rick, I know, and I've already fired like five people today because of that."
Unbuckling himself, Rick smirked as he opened the car door, stepped out, and closed it behind him before heading towards the house.
"Keep talking to me like that and your ass'll be on that list too, Rick."
Practically hearing the pout in her voice, Rick once again chuckled at his employer's anguish.
"Heh. Whatever you say, boss. Can I go now?"
"Hmm, I suppose. Enjoy your weekend Rick, you certainly earned it."
"Thanks, Susan. Take care."
And with that, Rick ended the call, shoving his phone back in his pocket just as he ascended the front porch's steps. Taking a second to dig in his other pocket for his keys, the front door was unlocked another second later and he stepped in with a smile.
"Pups! I'm home!"
"Okay...guess I'll just go fuck myself then."
Slightly miffed by the lack of an expected and much-needed wholesome welcome back, Rick stepped into the main room to find things quiet. Too quiet.
Turning his head to the living room, Rick immediately noticed two things. The first thing being Dem whom he spotted atop his recliner, still snoring away without a care nor indication that she had ever moved from that spot since he left for work several hours ago. But that was normal. What wasn't normal was the second thing he noticed, and that was him, not immediately being jumped by a certain other pup.
"Chimera?" He called, looking about and finding the little guy nowhere to be seen. "Huh."
Turning about, he decided to do a quick sweep of the first floor, calling several times for the dog all the while but returning to the living room a minute later empty-handed.
"Where'd that pup run off to?" Rick wondered, scratching his head before glancing over at Dem who simply rolled over in her sleep. Humming, the man now stood over her, hands on his hips as he cleared his throat. She stirred, but did not awake. He did it again, louder, and she merely rolled. There then came a swore before the man flicked the dog on her snoot, startling her awake with a yelp.
"What the-?! Oh. Welcome-yawn-back, master."
"Thanks." The man huffed before crossing his arms. "Now where's your brother, Dem?"
"Huh?" she said, tilting her head up at him.
"Chimera, Dem. Where'd he run off to?"
"The little squirt?" She asked, sitting up and rubbing at her tired eye with a paw. "How should I know?"
"Because you shoulda been watching him." Rick answered back, raising a brow. "Like a responsible big sister should?"
Rather than outright answer him, Dem stepped down from the chair and passed her master, chuckling once through the mic built into her collar before stopping and stretching out, letting several slight pops ring out from her outstretched legs before suddenly hitting the downward and grinning. She knew he saw it.
"Me? Responsible? Heh. That's rich."
Rolling his eyes at her antics, Rick sighed as he passed the doberman by, ignoring her pout to follow and instead making for the nearby stairs.
"Oh come on, master. You're no fun!"
"Go back to sleep Dem." Rick said over his shoulder as he climbed the steps. And, once at the top, it didn't take long for him to guess where his pup was now. "Really, Chim. The attic?"
"We're going to be dog food!"
"Why have you forsaken us, changeling goddess?!"
Humming softly to herself in thought, Chrysalis took a moment to take stock of her and her hive's current predicament. The changeling queen, her commander, and about two quivering, panicking thirds of her hive were hold up inside the large box with the large books. Their only means of escape, either the hole in the wall or the doorless doorway, were both a no-go as the monstrous mutt just outside was currently blocking both, with either a giant paw always stomping passed the door or a large eye occasionally peeking in through the hole, confirming to its owner that yes, its prey was still trapped in the box. The eye peeping was of course also accompanied by a brief show of gleaming teeth near the hole for all to behold, a scare tactic whose effectiveness was further heightened by the barks and growls that followed and of which had already put a few of the hive's weaker-hearted under for the moment while reminding the rest what awaited them should they try to make a break for it.
Overpowered, cornered, and now being tormented by a cruel beast who craved the blood and flesh of her kin. Was this truly it? To have come so far, to have sacrificed so much, just to be made the meal of some giant alien hound in a world she or her kind had yet to fully experience or see for that matter? Chrysalis sighed once more. Up until this moment, she had bared witness to hundreds of her children fall for her ambitions. From the wedding fiasco to not a few minutes ago when her death at the jaws of the beast outside would've been made a reality had it not been for the valiant act of one of her guards pushing her out of harm's way at the last second, saving her life at the cost of their own as she saw them be swallowed whole in her place. A shiver ran down her spine. The queen of the changelings was many things, could change into many things, but rarely did she ever show much emotion besides a certain few, at least on the outside that is. But in that moment...fear, genuine fear, was all that she could muster as she half ran half flew for the safety of the book box.
Blinking from her thoughts, Chrysalis turned to regard her commander who looked grim, for a lack of a better term.
"What do we do now, my queen?"
Staring into those solid blue orbs, a ting of fear that could be seen as well as tasted by his queen, Chrysalis remained silent a moment as she looked over her hive, her guards quivering in their armor, her subjects shaking in each other's embrace, and finally back to her commander, her sweet, loyal, foolish little commander. Her mouth felt dry.
"I-...I don't know, Brute." She said, succeeding to somewhat stifle the shakiness in her voice, but ultimately failing to hide the utter powerlessness in her voice. "I really don't."
The commander, deathly quiet as he took a moment to consider this and that for himself, finally sighed before suddenly falling to his haunches and, after undoing a strap, removed his spiked helmet, revealing a tired changeling whose now-visible scars across his cheek, forehead, and eye gave the changeling queen pause as she took in this new side of her commander. Had he always looked like that?
"My queen." He started, sounding more somber than Chrysalis had ever heard him sound before. "You know, more than anyling here, that from the day of my hatching to now, that everything I've done, up until this very moment, was in service of you and the hive."
"What are yo-"
"And...while in service to you and the hive, I have never been one to selfishly ask for anything, from you or from those under my command.
"-But despite recent events and the ever-present danger we now face." He paused, taking the next second to bow before his very confused and very worried queen. "I now wish to pose a rather selfish request." He somehow managed to bow lower without his snoot scuffing the brown surface below him. "I would also like to humbly apologize in advance for the ill-timing."
The queen was wordless as she blinked at Brute groveling at her hooves before glancing at the others around her who had stopped their conjoined panicking to watch them instead. She turned back to him.
"...A-And that is?"
Slowly raising his head to meet his queen's eyes, Brute narrowed his.
"My queen. I humbly request that you allow me to-"
"...B-But my queen, you haven't heard-"
She slapped him. Hard.
"Do you play me for a fool, commander?" Chrysalis coldly asked.
The veteran commander, having never really experienced the bite of a real slap or the chill of his queen's words, was left momentarily stunned as he shakily rose a hoof to his marked cheek.
"I said, Commander Brute." Chrysalis spat, her figure imposing and tone scornful. "Did you really think that I was hatched yesterday?"
"But I never-"
"Look me in the eye, Brute." She said taking a step towards the downed changeling. "You look me in the eye and tell me that you weren't just going to suggest that I let you go out there and fight that changeling goddess-damned beast by yourself." Brute, after holding his queen's expectant gaze for several seconds, closed his eyes and hung his head. He was caught.
"I...sigh. I'm sorry, my queen."
"Oh? We're you, now?"
"I just though...that if I-"
"Oh just shut up you fool!" She suddenly roared, forcing another flinch from him. "Did you honestly think I would willingly let you throw your life away like that?!" The commander remained silent. "Tch, do me a service?" She spat, turning her back to him. "What good would your foolish death do to serve me or the hive?!" She rounded on him. "Well?! Tell me, commander!" Brute had never felt more shameful. "Look at me Brute!"
He did. Gritting his fangs, the changeling commander did look up at his queen and...blinked as she stared back at him, tears in her eyes.
"M-My queen." He simply breathed. And in return, Chrysalis merely huffed as she adverted her gaze.
In his utter bewilderment of seeing this new, utterly alien side of his queen, the commander was left speechless in his response and well after his queen realized this as well and sighed. She then approached him and promptly lowered her neck to nuzzle her wet cheek against his own. He had of course went stock-rigid upon contact.
"I've already lost one child to this new world." Chrysalis said after she pulled away from the awe-struck ling. "I don't want to lose anyling else anytime soon. Least of all, you."
Hearing that, or at least most of it anyway (he didn't quite hear what she mumbled towards the end), Brute just had to say something back.
But it seemed that he wouldn't get to finish that something he wanted to say as he, his queen, every changeling around them, and hell even the beast outside paused at the deep utterance of that single word. The monster's master cometh.
"Chim. You up there, boy?"
Humming to himself, Rick stood at the base of the ladder leading up to the attic, brows furrowed as he stared up into the dusty expanse of the room above. His brows further furrowed when there came no immediate response from the open hatchway, leading the suited man to believe that his pup was simply hiding elsewhere.
"Well? Is he up there?"
Glancing over his shoulder at Dem who was sitting a ways behind him, he shrugged before looking back up into the attic. Cupping a hand beside his mouth, he was about to call for the pup again when there came a familiar response.
Hearing that, Rick smiled before he went to call his pup down. But before he could even do that, there came a series of barks shortly thereafter, barks which gave him and the doberman now standing beside him pause.
"Huh. Something's up." Dem said through her collar, leading Rick to raise a brow at her.
The doberman sniffed up at the attic before huffing through her nose and taking a seat beside her owner.
"Don't know. The kid's calling for you, though."
"He is?" Rick asked, glancing upwards.
"Yeah. Saying something about something he found." She tilted her head. "A lot of little somethings, apparently." She began examining her front paws. "Wants you to come and see for yourself."
"Uh-huh." Rick said, considering going up. He looked back at the doberman beside him. "And I don't suppose he was also calling for you too?"
"Mmmm nope. Just you." Was all that Dem said.
"Right." Rick sighed before looking back up, mounting the first step, and continuing up the rest as he ascended into the dusty unknown above.
As for Dem, she simply smirked as she sat and watched her master's ass sway the whole way up.
"M-My queen. The beast...that voice-"
"Yes, Brute. I'm aware."
"Then the barking and talking..."
"A summoning." Chrysalis said, narrowing her eyes. "Likely the monster's master finally grew impatient enough and is coming to challenge us itself." She glanced at her commander. "Do you know what this means, commander?"
The changeling could only guess.
"A chance to escape?" He proposed. His queen merely hummed in thought.
"Perhaps." She said, before grinning. "Or maybe...an opportunity."
"My queen?" Brute asked, turning to face her. When she did the same however, the commander was shocked to see her grinning as wickedly as the day she drafted her plan to invade Canterlot. "Just what are you proposing, my queen?"
"Oh, it's quite simple, Brute." She started, turning to watch as the furred beast had paused its terrorizing in favor of waiting for its master arrival. "We wait for the one who reigns over this monster to show themselves, then I will challenge them, BEAT them, and then have them relinquish their control over the hound to me in exchange for sparing their life." She cackled quietly to herself, a sight both worrisome and all to familiar to the commander. "Hehe. Oh the suffering I will inflict upon them for everything their accursed mutt had put us through."
"My queen. I mean no disrespect, but...are you actually serious?"
"Oh, Brute." Chrysalis cooed, booping him lightly on the nose. "Absolutely." She then glanced at the beast through the entrance and scoffed. "Besides. That voice was likely work of an amplifying spell like the one those insufferable princess parasites use when they demand attention. Nothing more, and certainly nothing to be fearful of."
"Truly, my queen?" Brute pondered, his brow and overall spirit raising slightly. She smirked.
"Of course." Chrysalis said, waving off her worried commander. "Tartarus, if that infernal mutt's master is anything like the princess, then I definitely don't have anything to worry about!" A villainy cackle was in order. "BWAHAHaha-heh-he-huh?"
That cackle of Chrysalis's was sadly short-lived however when there came a sudden sound and a sudden tremor alongside it.
Blinking, several times in fact, Chrysalis paused as she glanced down to the dust and tiny rocks at her hooves, noticing their very noticeable shift.
Turning her head to one side she noticed that Brute had also noticed the tremors and, with another turn of her head, so did she realize that the rest of her changelings did as well. Their worrying whispered rising to panicked murmuring proof.
Whipping her head back towards the beast outside, she saw its backside to her, its curled tail wagging up a storm as it feverishly awaited its master's arrival, seemingly having forgotten the queen and her hive all the while.
"My queen! I Think you really should reconsider your plan!"
"Or, perhaps...at the very least, consider another option?
My queen!? My queen!"
You know...maybe Brute was right. Heck, maybe since the beast's back was turned, Chrysalis could possibly have her hive sneak pass-
"I was looking for you pup. Whatcha doing up here?"
Fear. Yeah, that was it. That's what Chrysalis was currently feeling...fear...genuine, gut-wrenching, heart-stopping fear.
"Found something, you say? What?"
It was bigger than the beast. Way bigger. Tartarus, it TOWERED over it!
"Let me guess...spiders?"
Bigger than a hydra, an adult dragon, an ursa mi-, by the changeling goddess above, a major wouldn't even cut it! Barely if at all!
"Sigh. And let me guess, they were tasty too, yeah? Look first of all pup, how many times have I told you NOT to eat those mutated things? You KNOW what they do to your stomach."
"So you do know. And now your telling me you found something else, huh? Did you also eat it?"
The massive bipedal...thing sighed heavily, a thundering growl more like it.
"Ugh. Look pup, the last thing I want to do is have to take you to the vet cause of something you ate, especially if that something was poisonous and walking just a couple minutes ago. Okay?"
The beast whimpered at that, though whether it was an agreement or an apology was unclear, except to the giant who simply rolled his eyes before crouching down and patting the monster's head.
"Chim boy, look I'm not even mad. Really I'm more surprised if anything but...sigh. Just...try and keep the bug eating to at least a minimum, alright? Iron stomach or not, you're still my pup and as your owner I really don't want to be known as that guy who lets his dog eat random alive shit just to save a couple bucks on an exterminator, got me?"
"Good." The giant said, giving the beast a scratch behind one of its large fluffy ears, causing it to set the ground a rumbling with its kicking leg and earning a deep chuckle from the colossal being in return. "Now. Why don't we get out of all this dust and head back downst-"
"What do you mean there's still more of those something's you found?"
Having up until this moment been relatively quiet while hoping, praying that the beast had somehow veered the giant's attention away from her and her children's hiding spot, it was of course to noling's surprise when the changeling queen was all but ready to revoke every prayer she had ever made, today, to those in that big hive in the sky, resurrect them, then off them all herself as she saw, to her utmost and utterly ill-contained horror, the furred demon raise a paw and actually POINT at where she and her lings were currently hiding. And oh boy but if ever there wasn't ever a time that the oh so fearless and ever fearsome changeling queen found herself backpedaling away from something, then it was certainly now as she put her wings in full reverse just as the giant's head turned her way. And just as the giant's eyes had flickered over in her direction, Chrysalis had counted her quick queenly instincts still satisfactory as her back had already met one of the box's walls a split-second before the giant's gaze flicked towards the entrance she'd been peeking out of not a split-second ago.
"In there, boy?"
"Hmm. Well if you say so."
Standing up with a shrug and a grunt, the suited man approached the box, hesitant but curious as he approached it at a slow, casual stride, an approach that sent a sharp tremor up the trembling exoskeletons of the box's occupants with each booming step.
Falling to his knees, one followed shortly by the other, the man raised a brow at the box sitting idly before him, deaf to those within who collectively yelped at the thunderous landfall of the first limb and flinched as one at the second, equally thunderous fall of the other.
Hunching over, the man raised his arms and positioned them over the box, ready to open it with extreme prejudice...until they fell back at his sides. This possible jack-in-the-box kinda shit didn’t really suit the suited man to begin with. And yet here he was, about to open a box, with the strong feeling that something was going to jump at him, while his pup watched ever expectantly from behind. He sighed.
Chrysalis's mind raced. It raced as she sat there, her back against the wall and wings twitching and buzzing in fear. It raced as the sound of thunder at their holestep boomed and the dust from up high rained down. It raced as she racked it for anything, literally anything that could possibly help her and her changelings in that moment. Nothing came to mind.
"My queen." Brute said, catching Chrysalis's attention. "I believe I speak for every ling here when I ask...what should we do?"
“I-...” Chrysalis began before she paused, suddenly founding it hard to speak, much less even think of a viable answer. What should they do? What COULD they do? "Sigh. Can I be honest with you Brute?" He nodded. "I have no changeling-goddess-damned clue."
Grimacing at that, Brute couldn't help but understand his queen’s woe. And by understanding, he turned to the source, throwing a glance-glare in the general direction of the giant who, if he could hazard a guess, was absolutely reveling in the misery it was inflicting upon his kin as it loomed just outside their walls. He could tell from the tone in its voice.
"Chim?" Rick called, the hesitation in his voice as clear as transparent glass as his hands hovered over the box’s top. "You're SURE whatever's in here won't go straight for my throat, right boy?"
"Okay, see you say that, but I still remember the first time you found a black widowmaker up here."
Truly a being without a hint of compassion. Brute sighed.
"If I may be honest as well, my queen?" He asked, to which she silently nodded. "I wish we we're still fighting the ponies right now."
The queen chuckled at that. Then she froze.
"Brute." Chrysalis suddenly said, catching the commander's attention. "What did you just say?"
"I...I had just wished that we were still fighting the ponies?" He repeated, a brow hesitantly raised.
Jumping to her holed hooves, Chrysalis's eyes were wide with wonder as the answer to her problems and prayers had suddenly presented itself forth in her hour of need, like a knight in shining armor. Black chitin in this case.
With an uncharacteristically goofy and toothy grin, Chrysalis turned to her commander, the need to hug reverberating throughout her entire being. Though on the other hoof, Brute was wondering whether it was the fact that his queen was smiling at him like that or the reality that he could actually taste her need to hug him was more cause for immediate worry.
"Brute, you're a genius!"
"Oh! Well, I...aim to serve?" After a moment of brow-raising and staring at her smiling at him, the ling finally caved. "My queen. What did I actually do?"
Before Chrysalis could in fact tell him what he had done, more so said that earned him more queen points in her book, she was rudely interrupted when the ground quaked and the ceiling split, letting more and more light slowly pour into the box.
“Well, let’s see-...”
It’s now or never.
Turning to her commander, she gave him a quick nuzzle and a ‘wish me luck’ kinda look before she took to the air with a buzz. And when the ceiling had parted just enough, she shot off.
“-what’s in he-WOAH!”
In hindsight, after cracking the box open a bit, Rick really should not have been as surprised as he was when something small, black, and buzzing flew out and made a beeline straight for the man’s windpipe. Rick will remember this betrayal.
“Chimyoucutelittlelyingbastard!” Rick yelled as he backpedaled, tripped, and unsurprisingly fell on his ass with a loud thud, kicking up a cloud of dust in the process. Coughing into one hand, Rick had instinctively brought up the other to defend his moneymaker while also waving away the dust. However, that waving soon devolved to a wild swatting as a sharp buzzing zipped passed his ears, causing the man to growl as he kept whatever was blitzing him at bay. "Grah! Fuck off, you damn bloodsucker!"
"Hey! That's love-sucker to you!"
"What the?" Blinking, Rick glanced up and about as he swore he'd heard-
"Oh wait. Gotta think like a pony."
"Who?" Rick said. Okay someone was definitely there-
Blinking, Rick eye's flicked over to his right arm, brought to eye level but left hung half an arm’s length away from his face, and a quick scan was made. A scan which, to Rick's slowly widening peepers, revealed a small, horned...something hiding behind his hand.
A something that decided to peek back.
Before the strange little talking bug-thing had even a moment to blink, much less notice the slight twitch her cover had made, it was already too late and the strange little talking bug-thing's body was seized from the neck down and left with little room to even vainly squirm as it was brought before its captor's squinting eyes. It was absolutely terrified.
"Wait! Wait! Wait! Please!"
Holding it just a few inches short of his face, Rick took one look at whatever it was that was babbling at him and, if he was being completely honest, hadn't a fucking clue in the slightest just what it was he was holding.
The...creature. Bug? Fairy? Whatever it was was just all kinds of freaky. How so? Well for starters, it frickin talks. It's still talking actually, begging more like it. But let's put that aside for now.
What else...well, It looked funny, kinda cute even what with those big eyes of its...hers? Actually come to think of it, the little thing did look like a her. Sounded like one at least, or was that just because it was just so hecking small?
Anyways, i- her hair was blue and her skin was jet black. Or was it her shell perhaps? It was kinda rubbery to the touch, though still firm in some places...wait...was he actually feeling her up?
A-...And was that a squeak just now? Did she...oh yeah she totally did, she’s blushing like crazy right now. Let’s uh, okay moving on.
Hmm...she...had a little crown on, a real tiny one to boot too. And that...muzzle of hers? That little snoot with the little fangs below it? Pretty damn cute. Oh wait. No, she’s scrunching her face up something fierce now and it’s twice as cute. She’s double cute now. And now she’s...she’s...
“Sniff. P-Please. I-If you’re going to ki-k-kill me, or eat me then, then c-could you please just get it over with already?”
Okay, things just got a lot less cute.
“And if, i-if you really are going to devour me, then...then could you at least spare the others?”
Wait a minute. Did, did she just say...
“Yes! Please, they’re all I have left. They don’t deserve your wraith. They-...look, I’m their queen, alright?! I’m the one who brought them here! A-And I’m the one w-who invaded your land! So, so they aren’t the guilty ones! It’s me you want! Not them! Me! So just take me instead! Torture me, dissect me, crush me, eat me, whatever you wish! Just...please, oh changeling-goddess above please just don’t hurt them. Sniff. P-Please.”
I mean, shit if Rick wasn’t already feeling like a dick right now, then that ‘kick-in-the-dick-for-being-a-dick’ kinda-kick right to the feels was certainly doing number to his emotional everything. And that wasn’t going to fly if he had anything to say about it. He did, by the way.
“Uhh...hey. Look, I’m...I’m not going to do ANY of that stuff to you so-“
“Then you’re going to do all that stuff to the others instead?!”
“What, no?! No! Nonononono! Of course not!”
“Then, if you truly mean what you say...could you perhaps release me?”
Blinking, it was then that Rick realized he still had the little bug queen firmly grasped within his meaty graspers. He chuckled apologetically.
“Hehe. Sorry about that.” He said, opening his hand and finally allowing his captive some room to stretch. Which she did.
And after several tiny pops and a good bit of wing buzzing, the little thing was now staring up at him from her perch atop his palm.
Huh. That’s how tall she is standing up? Gotta be at least three-? No, no definitely four inches. Horn doesn’t count.
“So...gotta a name miss?”
“Chrysalis.” She stated. “QueenChrysalis.” She corrected. “Rightful ruler of the changelings.” She added. “And...at your complete mercy.” She pitifully remarked. Yikes.
“Hey now. There’s no need for that.” Rick said, bringing a finger over to raise Chrysalis’s hung head. “I already told you I wouldn’t hurt you or your subjects, right?” She hesitantly nodded. “I really meant what I said. So...cheer up, yeah?”
“You...You’re actually being serious?” She asked, disbelieving. Smirking, Rick simply shrugged.
“Hey, got a big house. And my folks always liked having guests over anyways so...”
Without warning, Rick’s nose was promptly assaulted.
Caught off guard and left cross-eyed for the moment, Rick smiled all the same the next moment as he lightly plucked his little face-hugger between thumb and index and pried her off with the tiniest of pops.
“You good?” He asked the blushing little queen who, after realizing she’d gone full-pony, meekly nodded her head. Seeing this, Rick once again chuckled heartedly before releasing her and watching with a raised brow the little thing fall out of view, stop, then fly back into view. Now buzzing effortlessly before his eyes, he waved a hand.
“Mind introducing me to my other guests?” Rick asked, To which Chrysalis silently nodded, turned about, and pointed to the very box she’d burst from not a few moments ago.
Brow still raised, the man slowly approached the box, crouched, and after taking a quick second to breath in, steal his nerves, and breath out, he opened it.
The immediate sight of a over a dozen pairs of eyes staring back, most with fear and only one with suspicion, had at first caught the man off guard once again. But luckily this time he was ready, and after having quickly recovered from the initial surprise and traded one look for a warmer one, he was already saying the first thing he thought would sound friendly, welcoming, and generally wholesome all in one simple phrase.