The Three Sisters: Like Fudge

This story is a sequel to The Three Sisters: Extended Family

A story of The Three Sisters Universe

Families are like fudge — mostly sweet with a few nuts. ~ Unknown Author
Chrysalis' daughters are serving their community service in Ponyville. Nothing can go wrong. Right?
Unless they all have their own agenda, and surprises keep piling up, complicating matters further. But anything to broker peace between the Changeling Nation and Equestria... right?

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11. My Hive is your Hive

Rarity, Chrysalis and their honor guard stood in a cavern, looking around in awe.

The cavern was huge, curving slowly from the flat and sandy wide base with unhealthy-looking black trees to ragged stalagmites, threatening and dark at it's narrow top high above. Two metallic doors, designed to look like wings stood almost as solid as the walls around them, awaiting for the signal from within to open.

"Purity," Chrysalis hissed, "stop fiddling with your scarf."

"I'm nervous!"

"Dignity, Purity. Don't forget dignity."

Rarity glanced at the changeling gnawing on a nearby tree. "He's hard to forget, dear, he followed us all the way here." She paused. "Why did he follow us all the way here?"

Chrysalis smiled. "He's the next in line for receiving one of my discarded exo-skeletons so he wanted to be close when it happened."

"That is..." Rarity shuddered. "Disgusting."

"I find it endearing," Chrysalis confessed.

"Announcing Queens Purity and Chrysalis of the Northern Hive!" a voice echoed from the other side of the doors, and slowly, with a steady rumble, the doors shuddered open, allowing them to see a crystalline hall just beyond them. Several entourages of Changelings seemed to already be there, all paying attention to the pair of Queens and muttering to each other.

"Hmm," Chrysalis frowned. "This is not good."

"What?" Rarity asked, forcing her eyes away from the lovely crystalline formations. "What's wrong?"

"There are other Queens here to take the throne." She nodded towards a group on the far right, where a very thin and tall Queen with long white hair stared steadily at both of them. "That's Queen Dermestid over there, I should have figured she'd drag her malodorous thorax in here."

"I'm sure that—"

"—that she'll be a pain, yes," Chrysalis hissed. "But she's not the worst here. Look. There's Queen Dacus."

Rarity followed Chrysalis eyes to a small entourage around the obvious queen. She had a slightly olive-green tint to her exoskeleton and a rusty-orange mane. "What's the problem with her."

"She's a pest," Chrysalis muttered.

Rarity rolled her eyes and smiled pleasantly at the two Queens. That was immediately followed by another round of hushed muttering.

"And of course, Queen Phoneutria herself is here," Chrysalis muttered, looking at the other side of the hall, where a large, almost muscular brown-tinted Queen stood, watching them intently, with only two bodyguards at her side. "Don't stare, Rarity, it's dangerous."

"Ah, welcome!" A tired voice echoed from above drawing everyone's attention to a balcony, where an elderly Changeling Queen was being helped to by a pair of attentive drones. "Now that the two sisters have arrived, we are all here and ready to begin."

 

 

They had been led into a large throne room and offered seats around a beautifully crafted table. At every corner and turn, Rarity's eyes would glitter with awe and appreciation for the delicate work that had gone into decorating the crystal caverns Apocrita governed.

Queen Apocrita sat on a large throne made of different shades of quartz, and looked across the rock crystal table at the gathered Queens. "Welcome all of you who answered my request to attend," she said, breath wheezing. "As you all know, I have little time left in this world, and with my only daughter having passed away..." she sighed. "My Hive has no future without a Queen."

The hall was silent for a moment, but Rarity did not miss that all the other Queens, Chrysalis included, gave each other predatory looks and smiles. Their reactions were not lost on Apocrita, who sneered at them all.

"Yes, I see that all of you are ready to sink your fangs into it already." Her eyes roamed the table and hesitated slightly on Chrysalis and Rarity before becoming hard again. "But it won't be so simple. I will not be murdered. In fact, I have a last standing order: if I am to be murdered, my whole Hive will descend on you all at the cost of their own lives and devour you, dooming your own Hives to death or the machinations of your daughters."

"You dare!" Queen Phoneutria rose from her seat, glaring at Apocrita. "Then why invite us to decide who will inherit your Hive?"

Queen Apocrita smiled pleasantly. "I will make the final decision, so I must remain alive until it's been made. You all... you are all fair game to each other as long as there is no outright violence. You must prove to me that you will be the right Queen for my Hive. Will it be you, Queen Phoneutria? Known for your ruthlessness and efficiency?" She turned her head. "Or perhaps Queen Dermestid, silent as the grave yet knowing so many secrets? It might fall in the lap of Queen Dacus, who has overrun entire lands and farmed their peoples for hundreds of years?"

Her eyes settled on Rarity and Chrysalis. "Or perhaps my Hive will find a place under the rule of the Two Sisters. The only Changeling Hive to have more than one Queen, defying tradition and common sense by somehow striking at Canterlot, yet seemingly being able to not only escape the wrath of the Sun and the Moon, but also somehow courting the Crystal Empire and Canterlot itself."

Phoneutria and Dacus seemed surprised by this information, while Dermestid had smirked knowingly.

"My Hive is the third largest Hive, smaller only than Dacus and the Sisters' Hives. For Phoenutria and Dermestid, this means that they would be on equal standing with either. For either Dacus or the Sisters it would mean a clear distinction of power. This is not a small price, my dears, and its something very worthy of pursuing..." Apocrita's eyes narrowed and her tone became harsh. "But my Hive is not cannon fodder. My Hive is not a simple addition of numbers. My Hive is my Hive unless one of you wins it. And it will always remain itself. When one of you—if one of you— raises to the task of being this Hive's Queen, remember that its not becoming your hive. You are becoming its Queen."

The gathered Queens glanced at each other uneasily, eyes narrowing in calculation, fully aware now that the stakes were higher than they had imagined. Already plans were being calculated, opponents measured, temporary allies considered.

Rarity felt very much out of her depth.

"For now," Queen Apocrita spoke up again, "we will dine." She nodded at one of her retainers, who pulled on a small chain. The doors to the throne room opened and several changelings walked in, levitating several plates of food. "I have had specialties from all Hives prepared for us tonight. Tomorrow the bid begins. Please indulge in the delicacy of my Hive: Ruby Honey."

Rarity sniffed the food as it was brought in and put on display. In front of each guest, a small crystal bowl with shiny little balls of crystallized red honey were set down. Her mouth watered at the sight of Fruit Bats, and she kept glancing lovingly at the crystallized honey but her eyes wandered to the other plates. In front of Queen Phoenutria, strange, almost frog-like looking creatures had been cooked, and the Queen was eagerly transferring several to her plate. She stopped when she noticed Rarity's interest. "Is something wrong, Queen Purity?" she asked giving her fellow Queen an angry glare, as if daring her to question the delicacies in front of her.

Rarity blinked. "Oh, I beg your pardon, Queen Phoenutria!" she quickly said. "I was just looking at your plate, are those delicacies from your Hive?"

Phoenutria's chest puffed with pride. "Yes, they are! My favorite dish, and most delicious food in the world, sans none: the coconut frog! The skin is tough and hard to crack, but when cooked correctly, it separates easily allowing you access to the delicious meat inside." She demonstrated by very carefully peeling off the hard shell, which reminded Rarity of a coconut, now that she thought about it, revealing underneath a white, soft meat that smelled deliciously of coconuts and brought thoughts of the beach and tropics to Rarity.

"Oh my, that looks delicious, darling! Perhaps you would be interested in exchanging one of them for a fruit bat?" Rarity's fanged smile was too honest for Queen Phoenutria to detect any sarcasm in it and so, with a shrug, she levitated one and placed it in Rarity's plate, while Rarity reciprocated, placing a couple of fruit bats on Phoenutria's.

"Bah." Queen Dacus sneered. "As much as you praise your food, dear Phoenutria, one cannot deny the sheer delicacy of Olive Beetles stuffed garlic," she said, popping one into her mouth. "Simply delicious, and such subtle flavors! Thanks to my Hive infiltrating so thoroughly into the Minotaur lands, we have discovered so many food combinations! Stuffing them with garlic or blue cheese, red peppers... even chilli scarabs!" She waved a dismissive hoof at Phoenutria's dishes. "Simply superior."

Without even asking, she had placed a variety of stuffed olives in another plate in front of Rarity. "Why, thank you Queen Decus, these look simply divine!" Rarity said, smiling. "Could I interest you in a fruit bat? And I assure you that you are depriving yourself of a delicacy by not trying Queen Phoenutria's coconut frogs, why the smell alone is enough to make me crave them already."

Queen Decus frowned, and glanced at the coconut frogs for a moment, before looking up at Queen Phoenutria. "A trade. We shall decide which dish is superior."

Phoenutria smirked. "A trade."

Rarity glanced at Queen Dermestid, who tilted her head. "I don't believe you want to try any of my Hive's specialties, Queen Purity," she said with a tight smile. "These are called Cocooned Ages, in honor of the food inside being conserved in careful decay for hundreds of years. It's a very... exotic plate."

Rarity gulped, looking at what she had originally thought were simply overly-steamed balls of spinach. "A-and what are those, dear?"

Dermestid looked ponderously at the egg-shaped balls of clay resting on a plate in front of her. "Millenium Eggs," she explained. "They are preserved and changed through a century of preparation, where they simply change." She smiled. "Would any of you like to try one?"

The other Queens, except for Apocrita, leaned back, although all eyes were on Rarity, who after a pause, slowly nodded and enveloped an egg in her magic.

"Wait," Dermestid sounded almost surprised. "Allow me."

They all watched Dermestid as she cracked the hard shell around the egg, revealing a more normal-looking one under it, although its shell was shiny and dark, with lighter patterns on it. With a careful slice of magic, she separated the top of the shell from the bottom, carefully taking both ends off of the egg, and leaving them intact as her magic levitated the dark-green contents and sliced it into equal pieces, arranging them like a flower on top of a crystal plate and around the shell. Once this was done, she levitated the prepared food over to Rarity, who looked down at it with a bit of hesitation, before levitating a slice and, holding her breath and closing her eyes, took a bite.

There was complete silence in the hall as Rarity chewed the soft millenium egg.

"This..." Rarity swallowed. "This is delicious!"

 

 

The doors to the chamber slammed open and Chrysalis cantered in with a slightly disgruntled look in her face. Her horn glowed steadily as she dragged a moaning Rarity into the room and nodded at their guards to close the doors behind them.

"Ugh," Rarity groaned. "Sister... my stomach. It's going to explode."

Chrysalis snorted and laid her sister on her bed. "And you deserve it! I can't believe how much you ate!"

"Food... delicious. Must... hit the gym tomorrow. Work it out."

Chrysalis chuckled, climbing into her own bed and casting several protective spells in the room. "Trust me, sister, the gym is the last thing you'll have to worry about tomorrow."

Her only reply was a snore.

 
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