Cracked Chitin, Whole Heart

Aug 24th, 2018
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  1. >You are Anon, and you are not proud to admit that you went out like a bitch.
  2. >The fact that the Princesses, and even Discord, have been cocooned also is at least somewhat soothing to your ego.
  3. >Stupid sexy bug horse and her stupid goo.
  4. >Sigh, at least it looks like Starlight and her little changeling friend are going to save the day.
  5. >You'll be free in no time.
  6. >There's the good-guy speech, followed by, yep, the magic of friendship and love cheapness.
  7. >Wow, is Chrysalis really just gonna stand there?
  8. >Like, literally right there?
  9. >That thing is obviously going to explo- and there it goes.
  10. >Spitting goo from your mouth, you stand with the rest of the freed victims, and stand back as they congratulate Starlight for her heroics.
  11. >This is why you are first to notice Chrysalis sprawled out on a pile of rubble, quietly groaning.
  12. >Is that... green blood?
  13. >Oh, here comes the others, Starlight in the lead.
  14. >"Chrysalis, when Twilight defeated me, I chose to run away..."
  15. "Put a hold on that," you say, approaching. "I don't think she's hearing you."
  16. >"Wha-? Anon what are you doing?! She's dangerous!" Twilight says, a sentiment shared by the others.
  17. >You merely bend down and turn the queen's head slightly to the side, her mane falling away to reveal a sight that makes you grimace.
  18. "I don't think she is," you say. "At least, not if grievous head wounds are as debilitating for changelings as they are for humans."
  19. >"Grievous head wounds?" Starlight questions. "What are you- Holy Cheese and Crackers! I think I can see her brain!"
  20. >A moment later, Starlight''s face goes green, and she hurls behind a pile of rocks.
  21. >Twilight is next to look, and she barely manages to hold her lunch as she stumbles back and makes room for the rest.
  22. >"Oh my!" Flutterhsy says, flying forwards to hover frettingly above Chrysalis. "Oh my, oh my, oh my!"
  23. >"Can you do anything, Fluttershy?" Starlight asks, making a point to not look at the bloody mess that is Chrysalis' head. "You know first aid, right?"
  24. >"I do," the pegasus answers. "But this... this is beyond first aid."
  25. >"Am I missing something here?" Rainbow Dash pipes up. "Why are we talking about helping?"
  26. >"E-excuse me?" Starlight asks, looking at the brash flyer. "What else would we do other than help?"
  27. >"Uh, go home?" she says as if it's the most obvious thing in the world, gesturing around them. "The changelings have been reformed, like, literally, and this cunt's plan is in ruins. I say we call it a day and leave her for the bugs. Er, no offense."
  28. >"Some taken," Thorax says, unable to take his eyes from his queen.
  29. >Or at least, former queen.
  30. >"You can't be serious!" Starlight yells, looking around. "Do you all think that?"
  31. >Anon looks up, and while he can see Fluttershy, Pinkie, and surprisingly Luna all wearing sympathetic expressions, the rest look less hospital.
  32. >"Starlight," AJ begins. "She's literally the queen of lyin' and tried ta kill us all. In my honest opinion, she's better off rotten here instead of a dungeon. Ain't a waste o' the tax payers bits that way, at least."
  33. >"Besides," Rarity chimes in. "With a wound like that... there's little we can do."
  34. >"Magic!" Starlight yells, looking to Twilight. "Surely some pony here has studied healing magic."
  35. >"I... haven't gotten around to it, yet," Twilight answers guiltily.
  36. >Judging by the despondent look on Starlight's face, neither has she.
  37. >"Step aside," Luna commands. "I shall do what I can."
  38. >"Sister?" Celestia speaks hesitantly. "Are you certain of this? Besides Chrysalis being one of our most fearsome enemies, you haven't exactly stayed up to date in all the advances in modern magical medicine over the last thousand years."
  39. >"Tis not a disease," Luna says, horn glowing. "I may not be a doctor, but even I know that holes in one's skull should be closed."
  40. "May want to get the debris out first," you comment finally, pointing at some gravel visible in the gash. "Sure she'd appreciate not having rocks in her brain."
  41. >"Especially because she already has rocks for brains! Huh!" Pinkie says, then shrinks into herself when everyone sends a glare her way. ""Sorry. I make inappropriate jokes when I'm nervous."
  42. >While Discord pulls out a notepad and writes that one down, Luna looks back at her impromptu patient.
  43. >"Right..." she says. "Good idea, fair Anonymous."
  44. >Horn glowing again, her eyes narrow as an azure miasma covers the multitude of small pebbles and dirt and plucks them out, the sight of it coming from Chrysalis' grey-green brain matter causing several more stomachs to empty.
  45. "It needs to be disinfected, too," you tell her. "She'll get an infection otherwise."
  46. >"Oh! I can do that!" Rarity says. "I know all sorts of sanitizing spells."
  47. >"You're going to help?" Starlight asks hopefully.
  48. >"Don't get me wrong idea, darling," she sniffs. "I am nowhere near ready to forgive that... that beast for what she did, especially to my mane by stuffing me in that goo-filled cocoon, but... I can't say she deserves to die. And besides, if you, Luna and even Anon are going to help, then so will I."
  49. >Stepping forward, her horn ignites and her tongue pokes out from between her lips as her magic envelopes the gaping tear in the changeling's chitin for several seconds.
  50. >Releasing a puff of air, she declares the wound germ-free, and gives Luna the go-ahead.
  51. >The night princess spreads her front hooves marginally, and her jaw clenches.
  52. >"Now... for knitting the bone back together," she says. "Healing magic is not as many think it to be. It is not just a flash and the injury gone. No it's an acceleration of the natural healing process, and one that comes with it's own risks."
  53. >A blue dome appears over the wound, and you can see the bone slowly pull together.
  54. >It's interesting, she has both chitin, and a skull, though both seem thin
  55. >You also notice Luna's magic is only targeting the latter, and your eyes narrow.
  56. >"Stop," you say, thrusting a hand across her vision.
  57. >Her head jerks back as her magic cuts off and she glares at you.
  58. >"What is the meaning of this, Anonymous!" she says, huffing from exhaustion.
  59. >Healing magic is hard, especially working with flesh and bone that is foreign to the healer.
  60. "You're only healing the bone. Why?" you ask.
  61. >She raises a brow, but humors you.
  62. >"Tis the most obvious injury. Truthfully, I do not have the magic or skill to perform a full healing, and it would not be advisable even if I did. There is a reason we do not use accelerated healing to fully restore ponies. We use it to stabilize conditions, and jump start the recovery, but never to bring ponies back to full health."
  63. >"Yeah..." Rainbow muses. "Why is that? When I busted my wing, the doctors only healed it half-way, then made me wait to let it heal the rest of the way on its own."
  64. >"It is because accelerated healing has an increasingly higher chance of causing wild tissue growth if overused. A bone can be set, and healed some with little risk, but to fully regenerate it will have a high chance of bone spikes growing and spreading."
  65. "Cancer," you say to yourself, looking at Chrysalis's head.
  66. >The chitin is wide open, but the skull beneath is now only sporting a slash about as wide and long as your middle finger.
  67. "You should have focused on the brain damage first," you tell the princess. "As it is, it's going to swell while it heals, so if you had sealed her skull completely, the pressure would have built up in the cavity and killed her."
  68. >Everypony stares, slacked jawed, with Luna most of all.
  69. >"I hadn't thought..." she starts, but shakes her head. "You are right, Anonymous, but I still have some magic left, and will fix what I can."
  70. >You let her, and she uses the last of her magic to treat what little she can of the actual brain before giving out.
  71. >Looking off to the side, you see Discord, leaning casually while picking dirt from beneath a talon.
  72. Walking over, you ask, "Could you have healed her?"
  73. >"Hmm?" he looks down at you, then shrugs. "Probably, though who knows what sort of wacky side-affects that would have had. She might have ended up with an extra eye where the injury was, or maybe a second personality since I would have been working directly on her think paste."
  74. >You tilt your head slightly.
  75. "Is that true, or are you just making up excuses?"
  76. >He hold out his lion's paw, and makes a so-so gesture, getting you to sigh.
  77. "Regardless, I think she'd have been okay with the side effects if it meant not dying. You should have done something if you could have. You're supposed to be reformed, right?"
  78. >"Yes," he drawls. "But I'm also the flippin' spirit of chaos and the king bastard up in here, and I do not happen to like bug-butt over there. Sooo..."
  79. "You'd let her die," you conclude.
  80. >"Well, when you say it like that, it sounds bad."
  81. "And how would you say it?"
  82. >"Mmm, letting her transcend her mortal coil to embark on a great adventure."
  83. "You know, Discord, you're a real ass."
  84. >"Only in the face."
  85. >"So what now?" you hear Starlight ask. "Will she really be okay?"
  86. >"I do not know," Luna answers between pants. "But we have done all we can here. The rest is up to her."
  87. >"So, now that she's, you know, out of the danger zone or whatever... we can just leave her here, right?"
  88. >"Rainbow Dash! Why do you insist on being so cruel?!"
  89. >"She's a flip-floppin', no-good, big bad villain! We don't owe her anything!"
  90. "She's coming with us!" you shout, approaching the group and leveling a glare at Rainbow Dash. "End of discussion."
  91. >"Ah, come on, Anon," Dash whines. "I'm not the only one who thinks we should leave her! Come one, back me up, girls!"
  92. >She looks around, eyes falling on the prince and princess of the Crystal Empire, who have been tense and quiet this entire time.
  93. >"You two agree, right? She's evil!"
  94. >Cadence looks with cold-fury at her downed enemy, and breathes deeply through her nose.
  95. >"I think... that we should take her with us," she starts, but before Dash can have an outburst, she adds, "And place her in a dungeon."
  96. >"Cadence is right," Shining says. "Equestria may not believe in the needless execution of our enemies, but we do believe in their imprisonment and surveillance so they can't pose a threat to us again. If we leave her, and she recovers, we're just asking for her to come back for revenge."
  97. >The stallion glances to Anon, and gives an almost apologetic look. "That would satisfy both parties, right? She gets treatment, and we ensure she doesn't hurt any pony else."
  98. >Dash mulls this over, then nods.
  99. >"Fine, but we're putting her in the deepest, darkest dungeon we can fine... I want her as far away from Scoots and her friends as possible."
  100. >Applejack and Rarity tense at that, and give slow nods of agreement, but not you.
  101. "No," you say. "Not until she's fully recovered, at least. A dark, damp dungeon and a diet of gruel isn't exactly the ideal health plan for a recovering bug horse."
  102. >"I don't think there's any hospitals that would willingly take her in," Twilight points out.
  103. >"And I'd rather not force them if they refused," Celestia adds.
  104. "Then she can stay at my place," you suggest smoothly, continuing before the contention caused by the statement can boil over. "Starlight will stay with me to be on guard."
  105. >"Me?" she asks, pointing at herself.
  106. "Who else? You're strong enough to fight on the level of alicorns, and if I'm not mistaken, you were about to give Chrysalis a redemption speech before you realized her brain was airing out. You can stop her easily if she attacks, and this gives you the chance to do the whole friendship spiel when she comes to. Win-Win."
  107. >You look at the group.
  108. "And if that actually works, and Chrysalis wants to turn over a new leaf after this. We'll give her a chance, won't we?"
  109. >You've resorted to using what you've heard ponies refer to behind your back as your "Father Voice," and you can see it take affect on even the bullheaded Rainbow Dash.
  110. >"Yeah fine," she grumbles kicking at a lump of dirt she's staring at on the ground. "Not like she'll turn good anyway, so we'll just put her in the dungeons later."
  111. "We'll see," you say, looking back down at the deposed queen. "Now, who's going to help me carry her? There might be damage to the neck we don't know about, so we'll have to keep that stabilized as we go."
  113. >Much later, Anon is sitting outside his small home's even smaller guest bedroom.
  114. >More of a closet, really but there is a bed just big enough for one queen-sized changeling, and that's exactly what's in there.
  115. >That, and Nurse Red Heart, who volunteered to give Chrysalis an examination.
  116. >She steps out once she's done, sighing as she sets her bag of medical supplies down.
  117. >"The things those girls bring to this town, I swear..." she's saying. "What next? Going to bring King Sombra in for a prostate exam... Wouldn't actually mind that if they did."
  118. "What' the prognosis, Doc?" you ask, interrupting the pink-maned pony's perverse thoughts. "You think she'll pull through?"
  119. >Her lips pull into a thin line.
  120. >"It's hard to say for sure, since I'm not used to working with changeling-physiology, but I believe the odds are in her favor."
  121. >She looks back towards the door.
  122. >"Princess Luna did a pretty good job of fixing the most severe damage, and the gap in the cranium should allow for enough swelling to prevent ICP, so all there is now to do is wait and keep the wound clean, which I'll go over with you in a bit."
  123. >You nod your understanding, and she smiles.
  124. >"Now, if this were a pony, I'd say odds of survival would be at least seventy percent, and I imagine a queen changeling is built of sturdier stuff than you or I, so it's looking good."
  125. >The smile falls.
  126. >"Whether or not she'll wake up, and when, however, is a different question."
  127. >You nod at that, unable to keep the grimace off of your face.
  128. "Yeah, I figured," you say. "Which might be a problem."
  129. >"Oh? Know something I don't?" Red Heart asks, tilting her head. "She's on an IV drip, and she's as comfortable as we can make her, so..."
  130. "But does the IV drip have love in it for her to live?" you counter. "Because from what I understand, unlike these pastel colored changelings, Chrysalis still needs that to survive."
  131. >"Oh.. I see your point," the Nurse mumbles.
  132. "Thorax said he'd bring the food stores the changelings had on them before transforming, but I don't know what that's going to be, or how we'll feed it to her when she's unconscious."
  133. >"That is a problem," Red Heart concedes with a sigh. "Unfortunately, I don't know what I can do to help in that regard."
  134. >You reach down and pat her head absently, getting the mare to blush.
  135. "Don't stress over it. You've done enough already," you tell her. "Coming here and treating an enemy of the state without hesitating is pretty commendable."
  136. >"Well, you know," she says with a little bashful giggle. "It's what we medical professionals are all about; helping those in need."
  137. "Doesn't mean every one would have."
  138. >"I'd like to think I wouldn't be too large a minority in this."
  139. "Right," you answer, giving her head one final pat before dropping your hand and smiling down at her. "Anyway, how about you go over how I should take care of her wound. Don't want to mess up and kill her."
  140. >"I'm sure that won't happen. You're too caring for that," she says, smiling back up at you.
  141. >While the nurse goes over how to clean and re-wrap Chysalis's head, you can't help but be a little anxious.
  142. >Hopefully Thorax will be able to help you with your feeding problem before your house guest starves to death.
  144. >"And... there!" Starlight says cheerfully, banishing the glow from her horn with a small flourish. "Your house is now completely warded, Anon."
  145. "And these defense spells aren't going to accidental go off on me?"
  146. >"Of course not," Starlight says confidently. "I tuned the spells specifically to Chrysalis' magic signature."
  147. "Ah," you say. "... And they aren't going to go off on her while she's injured, right?"
  148. >She smiles wryly and rolls her eyes.
  149. >"No, you big softy, at least, not unless she gets out of bed and tries to leave the house. There's a immobilization charm on all the windows and doors leading outside, as well as an alarm on her bedroom door to warn us if she tries to leave without permission."
  150. >You nod your understanding, and turn around at the sound of buzzing.
  151. "Thorax," you start. "Good to see you on time."
  152. >"Of course, Anon," the new changeling leader says, touching down along with several other changelings, each with a surprisingly symmetrical barrel made of hardened green goop on their backs. "I may not like everything about her, but I certainly don't want Chrysalis to starve to death."
  153. "That the love food, then?" you ask, gesturing with your chin at the small barrels the changelings are setting down.
  154. >Each one probably comes up to your knee.
  155. "Yep," Thorax confirms, tapping the lid of one. "On the rare occasion that a changeling absorbed an excess of love energy, he could excrete it into changeling honey."
  156. "Heh, taking the bug thing a little far. Are you bees now?" you ask.
  157. >"Well, we did live in hives."
  158. "Fair point," you say, going over and kneeling by one of the barrels. "So this is liquid love."
  159. >"More of a creamy, viscous love," Thorax comments, popping the lid of of the barrel you're looking at.
  160. >Sure enough, the contents is a milky, lightly green substance.
  161. >You deadpan.
  162. "... Is this changeling jizz?"
  163. >"Wha-? No! Of course not!" Thorax says, looking disgusted.
  164. "So this didn't come out of your dick?"
  165. >"No! We excrete to from our love depositors."
  166. "Love depositor?"
  167. >"Yes, it's located... between our hind legs."
  168. >Starlight is blushing and looking away while Thorax looks like he's just realizing a pervy joke.
  169. >You sigh, and stand.
  170. "Right, whatever," you say. "As long is this stuff will keep her alive, I'll figure out a way of feeding it to her."
  171. >Already, you're wondering if you can mix some with the IV drip, and ask Thorax his thoughts.
  172. >He's no medical professional, but he doesn't think it would hurt, so that becomes your first plan.
  173. >"I really do hope she pulls through," Thorax whispers as you show him to his former queen's room and he stares down at her. "I... I don't know how to do any of this leading stuff, and if she can learn to love like the rest of us has, I'd gladly turn over my rule to her."
  174. "You're doing fine," you tell him.
  175. >"It's barely been two days."
  176. "And no ones died. Keep up the good work."
  177. >"I'm not sure how good your subjects not dying is as a measurement of success."
  178. "It's the best place to start though."
  179. >Thorax chuckles.
  180. >"I suppose. Thanks Anon."
  181. "No problem."
  182. >"No, I mean it," he repeats looking up at you. "Thank you. Especially for taking care of Chrysalis for us. By all rights, she should be our responsibility... but I don't know how much I can trust the new changelings to treat her right. We might be learning how to love, but just a couple days ago, they had all only known cruelty and malice. It's easy to fall back onto bad habits, you know?"
  183. "I'm human," you answer. "I know."
  185. >You are... Mmm, who, again?
  186. >Something with a C, you're pretty sure.
  187. >Cathy? Cranberry? Crystal?
  188. >No, no, and close.
  189. >C-r, hmm.
  190. >Oh shoot, it's on the tip of your tongue, the stubborn little thing.
  191. >With a sigh, you decide to come back to that little mystery and open your eyes instead.
  192. >You're in a room, surprisingly well-lit compared to what you were expecting.
  193. >The walls are also far more straight and less green than you'd have liked.
  194. >Really, eggshell-white and shaped like a box?
  195. >How tacky.
  196. >The garish interior is probably what's giving you such a massive headache.
  197. >You open your mouth to call... someone- a servant seems right- but your mouth and throat are bone-dry.
  198. >You cough harshly, and your head throbs even more.
  199. >Ugh, you'll do it yourself then
  200. >You don't know exactly where you'll find water, but that turns out to be a problem for later as you realize your legs feel like noodles.
  201. >And is that a needle in the crutch of your foreleg?
  202. >Who would do such a thing?
  203. >The door opens, and you're pretty sure you get your answer.
  204. >That is a tall ape, and its expression is not friendly.
  205. >Certainly the type who would go sticking needles into others.
  206. >It's eyes lock onto yours, and you freeze embarrassingly enough.
  207. >You don't know exactly why that's embarrassing, but you certainly feel like you should never be the one who is afraid in such encounters.
  208. >The creature does not attack, however, its eyes slightly widening in surprise, before it speaks in a gruff voice.
  209. >"You're awake," it notes, and you feel yourself relax a touch.
  210. >Ah, it's a male.
  211. >Now you feel even sillier for having been spooked.
  212. >You go to open your mouth, perhaps to tell him off for not knocking like that, but only manage another reedy cough.
  213. >"Thirsty?" he asks. "I'll go get you some water, so don't do anything stupid. Seriously, Starlight will teleport here in an instant, and probably end up blasting you through a wall. I don't want to deal with those repairs."
  214. >Turning, he's out the door, leaving you quite confused.
  215. >Okay, that was... odd, though at least it provided a spark of memory.
  216. >Starlight.
  217. >That name rings familiar, and not like a gentle twinkle of a sprightly bell.
  218. >No, more like the dong of a big, bronze bell that makes your head hurt and your teeth grind in agitation.
  219. >Starlight, whoever you are, you are going to get a solid boop to the snoot next time you face she with a C-r name.
  220. >... Okay, you really need to remember that already.
  221. >Come on, think.
  222. >Push through the pain.
  223. >Cr-Cry-Chri-
  224. >Chrissi!
  225. >... Hmm, okay, that's really close.
  226. >Oh, the male is back, and he has something very tantalizing in his paws.
  227. >A glistening pitcher of water.
  228. >You go to lick your lips, but your dry tongue catches on their rough surface.
  229. >There's a flash of what might have been a smile on the male's lips, but it's gone a second later as he approaches the bed while pouring a glass of water.
  230. >"Here, drink up," he says, and while you should be angry he's giving you commands, you can only focus on quenching your unbearable thirst.
  231. >You reach eagerly towards the glass, and the male pulls back.
  232. >"Sip at it," he adds. "I don't want you vomiting on the sheets."
  233. >You glare petulantly, but nod, grabbing the cup between your hooves with a little more decorum then a foal snatching at candy.
  234. >Resisting the urge to chug it and demand several more, you instead sip daintily at the glass.
  235. >Oh yeah, that's the good stuff.
  236. >After several sips to sooth your burning throat, you take a slightly larger mouthful and swirl it around a little.
  237. >Swallowing it down, you heave a sigh of relief.
  238. >"Good?" he asks, and you nod.
  239. "It will suffice," you whisper in return, still taking sips of the cool water. "Where am I?"
  240. >"My house," he answers, getting you to raise a brow.
  241. "Why?"
  242. >"Because I've been taking care of you after your skull got cracked open like an egg."
  243. >You blink several times at this, slowly reaching up.
  244. >Sure enough, you feel gauze wrapped around your head.
  245. >Your heartbeat starts to increase as you look back at him.
  246. "What happened," you demand, one eye closing as your panicking heart causes the pain in your temple to grow, "Did you do this?"
  247. >"Nope," he says, reaching forward.
  248. >You flinch back, but he's only grabbing the empty cup from your hooves and refilling it.
  249. He offers it back, and you ask, "Then who?"
  250. >"There's a pretty good argument to be made that it was you."
  251. "Me-"
  252. >"Evil schemes aside, you stood on top of a clearly about to explode pillar while it exploded. Frankly, I'm more surprised you still have all your legs."
  253. >You gulp at that, feeling the urge to pull the blanket from your lower half to check on your hind legs.
  254. "Why would I do that?" you ask instead, getting him to tilt his head.
  255. >"I don't know," he says slowly. "Shouldn't you?"
  256. >You feel your face heat up, and you're glad blushes don't show easily through chitin.
  257. "I'm a bit... fuzzy on the details."
  258. >"Huh... Is that all you're fuzzy about?"
  259. "Are you suggesting I'm some sort of mental invalid? I assure you, creature, my mental faculties are in top form."
  260. >"Right," he says, sounding unconvinced. "Well, how about I go get you something other than water for your stomach? Thorax told me that your kind can partially digest simple sugars- says your quite fond of sweat iced tea."
  261. >Augh, there's that agitating ring of familiarity.
  262. >Thorax, interchangeable with traitor.
  263. >But whoever he is, he's not here now, and this creature is, and he has made you an offer.
  264. "Yes... sweet tea sounds... nice," you say, leaning back and resting your throbbing skull back on the pillow.
  265. >Hopefully some rest will stop this infernal headache.
  266. >He grunts, and turns towards the door, and suddenly, your struck with a sense of urgency.
  267. "Wait!" You near-yell.
  268. >He looks over his shoulder curiously at you.
  269. >"Yeah?"
  270. "What's your name?"
  271. >"Anon."
  272. "A... pleasure to meet you, Anon," you say, trying to sound cordial towards the one who's apparently been, and will be taking care of you for now. "I'm..."
  273. >Shoot, you still haven't riddled that one out fully, and now Anon is staring expectantly.
  274. >Quick, come up with something!
  275. "Chrissi," you say at last.
  276. >"... Chrissi?"
  277. >You blush again.
  278. "That's what I said, isn't it?"
  279. >He stares a moment longer, than shakes his head.
  280. "It's nice to meet you then, Chrissi. You like anything else in your tea besides sugar?"
  281. >You blink, surprised by both the question, and that you know the answer.
  282. "Mint, if you have it."
  283. >"One mint and sugar iced tea, coming up."
  284. >With that, he leaves the room, and leaves you confused.
  285. >What a strange male this Anon is.
  286. >Not wholly unpleasant though.
  287. >You are Anon, and you are staring down at a disbelieving Starlight and Twilight.
  288. >"You... think she's suffering amnesia?" Twilight asks slowly.
  289. "I don't think she's remembering everything," you say. "But she doesn't want me to know that. She has admitted to not knowing how she got hurt."
  290. >"Anything else?" Starlight prompted. "I mean, it's not surprising she wouldn't remember the events leading up to a massive head injury."
  291. "Maybe her name," you answer. "She introduced herself as Chrissi, which is telling in two ways."
  292. >"What's the other way besides maybe not remembering her whole name?" Twilight asks, tilting her head.
  293. "Well, she didn't remember me, either," you say, gesturing your arms out. "And I'm kind of hard to forget, what with being the only human in Equestria."
  294. >"Point taken," she says with a sigh. "This makes things more complicated on the legal end of all this. It'll be harder to justify imprisonment if the culprit doesn't even remember committing the crime."
  295. >"But it might mean it'll be easier to turn her good, though," Starlight says hopefully. "I mean, if we can become friends with her while she's a blank slate, then maybe even if her memory comes back, she won't want to fight us anymore."
  296. Twilight seems to mull this over while you say, "This is all jumping ahead right now, anyway. She's still recovering, so whether she's going to the dungeons or becoming our friend doesn't matter. Heck, she might even regain her memory in a couple days."
  297. >"I guess your right," Starlight comments a little dejectedly. "I guess I'm just trying to be hopeful."
  298. >"How about you, Anon?" Twilight asks. "Are you comfortable with Chrysalis staying in your house? I know Starlight did an excellent job with her warding, but if you're worried about having a a now conscious villain under your roof, I can always stick her in one of the rooms of the friendship castle."
  299. "Chrysalis is fine where she is, and I'm not worried," you assure her. "She can barely walk right now."
  300. >"A month in bed will do that to you," Twilight says, wincing. "I remember from when I got the World Encyclopedia for my eleventh birthday."
  301. "Right..." you say. "So, I was thinking; I know you two wanted to talk to her when she finally woke up, but I'm thinking we might want to hold off for a bit. If she doesn't remember you, then seeing your faces will probably have a lot of unpleasant memories flooding back all at once, and I'd rather not put her through that sort of stress until she's recovered more."
  302. >"Yeah, she might try to attack us and get herself hurt," Starlight agrees. "I guess I'll have to wait to give her the friendship speech."
  303. >"A shame, really," Twilight adds. "We've been working on it ever since that day, and I think we've really hammered out all the wrinkles."
  304. >"Yeah," Starlight agrees. "Compared to what I would have improvised, this is a way better presentation of the values of love and friendship."
  305. >"With charts and graphs to represent the empirical benefits of goodness!" says an excited Twilight. "Ooh! I just thought of another data set that can be represented in our presentation!"
  306. >"Really?!"
  307. >"Yes!"
  308. >"Then what are we waiting for? I'll go get the crayons!"
  309. >"I've got the poster board at the palace!"
  310. >You have to clear your throat to get the little mares' attention, and they stop just before galloping off to look at you sheepishly.
  311. >"Oh, ah, sorry, Anon-" Starlight begins to say, but you halt her with a raised hand.
  312. "It's fine," you tell her. "I just wanted to make sure we're clear on our plan of action."
  313. >"Um, just a continuation of what you've already been doing, right?" Twilight asks.
  314. "Yes, but also that any of you who Chrysalis is likely to have a strong reaction to should stay away. That includes your friends, the other princesses, and probably any of the transformed changelings."
  315. >"Right," Twilight agrees. "I'll tell the others."
  316. "Make especially sure that Pinkie understands," you say seriously.
  317. >"Um, why Pinkie-?"
  318. "Because, if I know her, she probably already knows Chrysalis is awake, and is planning a 'No Longer in a Coma Party'."
  319. >"Okay, that's just creepy," Pinkie suddenly says, coming out from behind a tree, party canon behind her. "How'd you know?"
  320. Lucky guess," you say evenly, getting Twilight and Starlight to look at each other.
  321. >You hear Twilight whisper, "stallion intuition," to which the other mare nods in agreement.
  322. >You sigh and roll your eyes, heading back towards your house.
  323. >Right before you close the door, you look at Pinkie, and make the I'm-watching-you gesture.
  324. >She just scuffs her hoof in the grass and walks away, party cannon dragging sadly behind her.
  325. >You doubt that will be the end of this, and consider asking Starlight to add the party mare's magic signature to the wards later.
  326. >Her breaking into your home had been an issue in the past, until you sent a letter to her parents about it.
  327. >The stern lecture she got then has been enough to keep her away, but the prospect of a making a new friend might be too much for the bubbly mare.
  329. >You are Chrissi, and you do not trust this mare.
  330. >She's white with a pink mane, and she's about to pull the IV from your leg.
  331. >This would be the perfect opportunity for her to instead push it in further in an attempt to harm you, and you do not like the idea of letting yourself be vulnerable in such a way.
  332. >You'd rather just yank the needle out yourself, but Anon insists that a professional does it.
  333. >The pony puts her hooves on you, and you fail to hold back a hiss, making her flinch back.
  334. >"Stop being a baby," Anon says from behind the pony. "She's not going to hurt you."
  335. >"That's right," the mare agrees. "It would go against my oath, after all, to intentionally hurt a pony."
  336. "And yet, I'm not a pony," you spit with narrowed eyes. "What a convenient loophole."
  337. >While the pony looks stunned, then offended, Anon simply looks annoyed.
  338. >"You know, we'd have been done already if you'd just let her do her job."
  339. "Her job of spearing my leg, you mean," you say in agitation. "You didn't want me to puke on your sheets, and yet you're okay with blood spurting all over them? Crazy colts."
  340. >"There won't be any blood!" the pony yells. "Do you want the IV out or not?"
  341. >"Not by your hooves," you growl.
  342. >"You know, I'm really starting to reconsider that oath just about now," the pony says, eyes narrowed.
  343. "Huh!" you declare triumphantly, jabbing a hoof at her and looking at the human. "See, I knew she planned on attacking me, Anon!"
  344. >"I said no such thing!" the mare defends. "Okay, never mind. Is there anyway you'd let me do this?"
  345. >"Nope, never," you say stubbornly, sniffing. "Either let me do it, or I'll let Anon."
  346. >"You'll let him, but not a trained nurse?" the pony says, skeptical.
  347. >"Yes," you answer with a nod. "He's had ample opportunity to make an attempt on my life, and has yet to do so. Besides, he's a stallion; he's no doubt squeamish around blood and will not want to see it sprayed all over the room."
  348. >Just walk me through the steps, Red Heart, and I'll do it," Anon says, stepping forward.
  349. >You relax as the nurse steps aside, and willingly offer your foreleg.
  350. >After listening to the pony's instructions, he washes his hands with some sort of disinfecting gel, takes a cotton swab in one hand, and grabs your hoof gently in the other, straightening it out more and positioning it where he needs to.
  351. >You watch carefully as he peels away the dressing holding the IV in place, holds the swab over the exit point, and grabs the needle.
  352. >Your eye twitches as he slowly pulls it out, but he's steady and careful, and soon the he's pressing the swab down over the hole left in the crook of your leg where the chitin is absent for the joint.
  353. >"See, that wasn't so bad, was it?" he asks.
  354. >You sniff.
  355. "Yes, because it was you. Had she done it, I'd no doubt be bleeding out right now."
  356. >You hear the pony grumbling, but ignore it as Anon smiles wryly and lifts the swab away from your leg.
  357. >"Paranoia aside," Red Heart says, glaring at you, "She should be good now, which means I'm good to leave."
  358. >"Thanks for coming by," Anon says to her. "Sorry for the inconvenience."
  359. >The pony's expression softens as she smiles at the human, and you can't help but glare.
  360. >"It's no problem at all, Anon. I'm always glad to help," she says. "And no need to apologize. You weren't the one being difficult."
  361. >She matches your glare with her own for a second, but it gets replaced with a flustered expression as Anon gives her a head pat.
  362. >"Still, thanks," he says. "I know being a nurse is hard work. Maybe I can make you tea and offer some cookies before you go. I had a pot ready to boil for Chrissi here."
  363. >Giggling, the mare straightens the cap on her head and blushes.
  364. >"That sounds lovely, but I really do need to get back to the hospital, so maybe just the cookies for the road."
  365. >"Sure," he answers, smiling amiably. "Hope you like chocolate chip. I made them myself."
  366. >"Mmm, a classic. I'm sure they're delicious if you made them."
  367. "I want a cookie, too," you declare, nose slightly raised.
  368. >Both other occupants turn to stare at you, but you maintain your composure.
  369. >You belong in the center of attention, after all.
  370. >You're quite sure of that, and that these two, especially Anon, should not be ignoring your presence.
  371. >"Can you even eat cookies?" Anon asks. "I thought you changelings just ate love, sugar, and water."
  372. >Admittedly, you don't know the answer to that, though your gut is telling you no as it roils at the thought of solid food.
  373. >Still, you will not be denied amenities if they are being offered to this lowly mare.
  374. "Do you really think I could be brought low but mere baked goods? Insulting! I will have two cookies, in fact." you say, faking confidence.
  375. >You'll show them.
  376. >You'll concur these chocolate chip cookies with all the ease and grace of royalty.
  377. >... Which you're sure you are, actually.
  378. >You are Anon, and you are currently holding the mane out of the face of a hurling queen.
  379. "Told you not to eat them," you say, getting her to glare at you a moment before dry heaving into the toilet bowl again.
  380. >"Shut it," she wheezes. "It's your fault your cookies are inedible."
  381. "Pretty sure the fault is on you and your changeling stomach."
  382. >She simply heaves again, spitting mushy crumbs from her mouth, before flopping backwards.
  383. >You hold her steady as she pants, letting her catch her breath.
  384. >Really, you're just glad you expected something like this, or else you wouldn't have been able to pick her up in time and run her to the bathroom before she made a mess.
  385. >For a second though, you were almost convinced she could handle it as she took her first bite, chewed tentatively, then hummed and smiled in enjoyment.
  386. >The expression quickly switched to a grimace after she swallowed, but she powered through with determination alone.
  387. >Half way through the second one, however, and the cookie fell from her grasp as both hole-filled hooves flew to her mouth.
  388. >She had rolled onto to the floor, weak legs struggling fruitlessly before you grabbed her by the middle and ran.
  389. >"They weren't nearly as good coming up," she mumbles absently as she gets her breath under control.
  390. "You admit they were good going down, though," you note, getting her to growl at you.
  391. >It's not very threatening when you're holding her and she's in a near-fetal position.
  392. >"Shut up," she grumbles weakly, getting you to chuckle.
  393. "Come on, let's get you back to bed," you say, hoisting her up into your arms bridal style.
  394. >She yelps, hooves wrapping around your neck, but her worries are misplaced.
  395. >Despite her size, she's still quite light.
  396. >Literal holes in her legs aside which probably shave off a few pounds, she's also very thin around the abdomen.
  397. >Actually, you theorize that this is a result of a very short, underdeveloped digestive system, which is also why she can't handle solid food.
  398. >Compare that to the noticeably rounder middle of ponies, who actually get their energy from food instead of emotions, or even how the new changelings have wider middles now that they eat solid stuff, and it starts to make a lot of sense.
  399. >You don't mention any of this as you set the slightly shaking queen onto the bed, then pick the blanket up from the ground to drape over her.
  400. >She pulls it up under her chin, and groans, "My stomach hurts."
  401. "I'll make you chamomile tea," you tell her. "That should help."
  402. >"I'm still hungry, too," she adds, looking up at you with sad eyes. "What, um... what have I been eating since I got hurt?"
  403. >You blink, remembering it hasn't even been a full day since she woke up in the early morning.
  404. >She can probably also sense that there's no love coming from you.
  405. "Changeling honey," you explain. "It was in your IV drip until now."
  406. >She looks down to her leg where the needle had been until just a little while ago, surprised.
  407. >"Really? That worked?"
  408. "For a whole month," you confirm. "Speaking of, I'll mix some with your tea. That should fill you up."
  409. >"Yes," she says absently, snuggling deeper into the bed. "That sounds very nice."
  410. >You don't say anything to that, turning to leave.
  411. >Just as you get to the door, though, Chrysalis calls out quietly, "Anon."
  412. "Yeah?"
  413. >"Thank you... for taking care of me, I mean."
  414. "It's no problem."
  415. >"Who... who was I to you...?" she asks suddenly. "Before, I mean."
  416. >Taken off guard, you turn to look at her fully.
  417. "Why ask?"
  418. >"Well," she starts, looking down and rubbing the blanket between her hooves. "You seem to be going far out of your way to help me, but I don't feel any strong emotions from you towards me. Not love or friendship."
  419. "And what do you feel?" you ask curiously.
  420. >"Care," she answers simply. "But I'm curious on why that's the case... Were you a servant, perhaps?"
  421. "I wasn't, nor will I ever be your servant," you explain gruffly. "As to why I'm caring for you, it's because you need it."
  422. >"That's... that's it?" she asks incredulously. "There's no other reason? Surely you stand to gain something from this?"
  423. >You mull this over, then shake your head.
  424. "Not that I can think of. Maybe you not causing trouble after this."
  425. >"Did I cause a lot of trouble for you?" she asks with a curious tilt of her head.
  426. >Damn, how to answer that.
  427. >You'd rather not spark her memories quite yet, and the way she's looking at you, all innocent-like, makes you not want to hurt her feelings.
  428. "Well, taking care of you for a month hasn't been a walk in the park, what with changing your bandages and setting up the IV bags with honey."
  429. >"Oh... I suppose that could get tiring," she admits. "Um... sorry for the trouble, then."
  430. >You hum and leave the room, going to the kitchen to make what would be Chrissi's lunch.
  431. >It's strange how different she seems without all of her memories.
  432. >She's civil, and almost... nice.
  434. >You are Chrissi, and you are bored.
  435. >Augh, you shouldn't have to stand for this.
  436. >You're royalty, you shouldn't be confined to a bed all day, every day.
  437. >At least, not without someone fanning you and dribbling the sweetest of changeling honey into your mouth.
  438. >You'd have Anon do this, but he's out buying groceries or some other menial task.
  439. >Picking up the oversized rubber band Anon had brought you the day after you woke up, you absently start stretching it between your hooves.
  440. >Resistance training, he called it, to help you get your strength back after being unconscious for so long.
  441. >Really, you've been doing this for three days, as well as standing to the side of your bed and doing pseudo squats, and you'd like to think you've regained enough strength to go for a walk.
  442. >But nope, you still haven't seen the outside of this room yet, and Anon has explicitly told you not to go out the door.
  443. >Apparently you're under some sort of house arrest, even if the human colt doesn't want to admit it.
  444. >In your distracted state, you let one side of the band slip loose from your hoof and soar through the air, smacking the door with a thwack.
  445. >You sigh, throwing your head back into the pillow before looking at the band on the floor.
  446. >After a few seconds of consideration, you pull aside the covers and step down, legs wobbling a moment, then growing steady.
  447. >A few slow steps, and you bend your head down to grab the thing and toss it onto the bed.
  448. >You'd have rather used your magic, but any attempt at igniting your horn causes a headache.
  449. >You should go back to the bed, but instead, you look to the door.
  450. >Really, what's the worst that could happen?
  451. >Anon didn't need to know, and you really are tired of staring at the same ugly walls all day.
  452. >Just a quick peek around the house, then back here before he returns.
  453. >It's a flawless plan.
  454. >Confidence bolstered, you smile and push the door open.
  455. >As you pass, you think you see a spark along the frame, but ignore it.
  456. >You don't know how much time you have, and you'd rather not waste any staring at an open door.
  457. >Looking left, then right, you see the hallway is clear, and step out.
  458. >Hmm, you aren't sure, but as you turn right and walk, you can't help but feel something is missing.
  459. >When you reach the end of the hall where it opens up into a living room, your keen eyes realize what.
  460. >Pictures.
  461. >Houses have family photos and such, right?
  462. >The hall was bare of pictures, and so is this room.
  463. >Just a beige couch and a coffee table.
  464. >There aren't even doilies or decorative coasters on the coffee table, which should be a mainstay of any stallion's home.
  465. >How strange.
  466. >Suddenly, you hear a pop and there's a flash of light in front of you, leaving behind a light purple unicorn staring at you suspiciously.
  467. >What are you doing?" she demands, and for some reason, that makes you angry.
  468. >More than just the fact that some random pony would dare interrogate you in such a tone, but also the look of her.
  469. >You aren't sure, but you're starting to suspect you hate the color purple, and this mare is covered in it.
  470. "Shouldn't I be asking you that?" you growl, slowly spreading your front hooves to lower your head, sharp horn at the ready. "Anon isn't home at the moment, and I believe you just entered without permission."
  471. >She actually looks taken aback for a moment, then re-doubles her glare.
  472. >"You were told to stay in your room. You planning on making a run for it, Chrysalis?"
  473. >It's your turn to look surprised now.
  474. >How did she know you weren't supposed to leave your room, or even that you had?
  475. >And... and that name.
  476. >You ponder it for a moment, then it simply locks into place.
  477. >That's right, Chrysalis, not Chrissi.
  478. >And with one memory comes another.
  479. >This mare standing before you- defying you- and ruining everything.
  480. >A hiss, low from the back of your throat, rises up and draws out as you stock forward.
  481. >Yes, that's what you want to see.
  482. >The fear in her eyes as she takes a step back.
  483. >She should be afraid.
  484. >Of course, the little dissenter can't just be compliant to her fate, shakily banishing the fear and igniting her horn to defend herself.
  485. >Can't have that, though, so you lunge, teeth bared.
  486. >A yelp, and a ball of force collides with your chest, unfocused and ill-prepared, but enough to stop you a moment.
  487. >Not long enough, however, as you lunge again, snapping your jaws where her face was just a moment ago.
  488. >Slippery prey.
  489. Following her as she rolls away, you rise up onto your hind legs, strengthened by hate, and bring your forehooves down at her prone body.
  490. >A second too late, as a barrier teal magic blocks your strike.
  491. >"Chrysalis, stop!" she yells, getting to her hooves and expanding the barrier into a bubble around herself. "I don't want to fight you while you're still recovering, but I will if I have to!"
  492. "Oh?" you growl. "Like you did here?"
  493. >You point at the side of your head the gauze cover, and see her flinch.
  494. >It's as much a confirmation as your own phantom memories are, and you hiss once more, slamming your hooves against the barrier again and again, harder and harder.
  495. >You even try to summon magic to your horn, ignoring the pain it causes to blossom behind your eyes.
  496. >Fire licks at the ebony pike, and you consider sending a goat of green flame at the mare just as the sound of a door opening and thudding footsteps echo through the house.
  497. >Anon comes rushing into the room, wide eyes quickly surveying the scene, before becoming stern.
  498. >"Chrissi! Stop that this instant!" he yells. "You're head is bleeding!"
  499. >You should be furious that this colt would dare command you, but his harsh, angry tone causes something in your chest to constrict, and you end up stumbling away from the magic barrier.
  500. "Anon, she-" you go to say, planning on informing him of this intruder's actions, but he cuts you off, eyes already focused on the mare.
  501. >"She left me in the middle of the market when I told her not to come teleporting here in a panic."
  502. >"I had to make sure Chrysalis wasn't trying to escape!" the mare defends.
  503. >"Which is exactly what the wards you put up around the outside of the house are meant to do," he says. "Did you forget that? Or were you just eager to bust into my house and start a fight with Chryssi?"
  504. >"No! That's not it! I just-"
  505. "Don't lie," you spit, eyes narrowed at the purple mare as you point to your head. "No doubt you wanted to finish what you started, right?"
  506. >"No!" she screams again, stomping a hoof and shaking her head. "I- I was the one trying to help you!"
  507. >You sniff derisively.
  508. "Odd way of going about it. Maybe ponies aren't as kind and caring as they preach."
  509. >"That's enough out of you, Chrissi," Anon cuts in, leveling those hard eyes your way again and making your ears droop. "I told you not to leave your room, didn't I? I wasn't even gone for fifteen minutes."
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