The Growing Years

This story is a sequel to A Different Perspective
Both the House of Path and Herd Path enjoy strong growth in the years following their establishment. Like all such things though, they both have their highlights and lowlights. These are vignettes in the lives of the children of Twilight, Path, Free, & Roseclaw, from foals to young adults.
This is a series of stand-alone stories of events that occur after the events of A Different Perspective, which I strongly recommend that you read first.
My collaborator, AlaskaIsCold, has written some of these and I mostly just edited them.

https://www.fimfiction.net/story/296939/the-growing-years

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1. Renaissance

Nopony took much notice of the green unicorn mare with blue mane and tail, but that was the general idea. One did not infiltrate hostile territory by attracting attention, and it was her intention to quietly slip through the passers-by without getting more than an incurious glance. An impassive expression was also a must, but she was having a hard time holding it whenever she saw the Blue Changelings occasionally among the population, and for every undisguised changeling, she was sure there were several more going about their business unrecognized in their pony guises. It was imperative that she avoided undue attention from them for as long as possible, even though their hive was her ultimate goal. She had a task to fulfill, and no one – changeling or pony – was going to make her fail.

The information that the mare had procured earlier, guided her swiftly and accurately to the outskirts of Ponyville where an impressive structure of steel and glass was being built close to the crystalline castle that was the Equestrian residence of Princess Twilight Sparkle and her mate, the so-called Prince Firetail a.k.a. Free Agent a.k.a. Gossamer, Queen of the Blue Hive. She was impressed in spite of herself. The disgusting open relationship that the Blues had with the local ponies nevertheless was producing some unlikely cooperative efforts. The new Queen certainly seemed to be ensuring that she made an impression, and that was as it should be. Nevertheless, it was not her goal today.

The unicorn made her way to the castle. She had not been able to believe the initial reports that the castle was normally unguarded, and the common citizens regularly visited for various reasons to see either of the royal couple, or their important associates. It turned out to be true though, and she felt contempt for their naiveté, but it worked to her advantage. She entered the castle as nonchalantly as possible, passing through the huge entry hall into what seemed to be a bizarre throne room. Why there were six thrones all arranged about a huge round table though, utterly mystified her. How did a Queen exert her authority over her subjects in such a strange manner? She rolled her eyes in disbelief, and then pushed it out of her mind. She was not here to sight-see nor solve silly puzzles. From this point though, she knew that further progress was going to be tricky, and she needed her wits about her.

The only obvious way that she found to continue onward was a large staircase leading further up into the castle. This was flanked by two guards, both of whom were Blue Changelings, although one wore a pegasus guise. The mare smiled to herself. That would normally have been an excellent choice, but it would backfire in her case. She observed several other Blues going about their assigned tasks, passing the guards without any concern. She assumed a purposeful air, and marched past them and up the stairs, but while they did glance at her, she received the same lack of reaction. She reached the next floor and looked around. Much of the area seemed given to temporary work stations where ponies and changelings were engrossed in various tasks. A cautious survey seemed to indicate that they were primarily engaged in the hive-building project, although some were also working on House Path projects. None had any direct bearing on her mission though.

She found another stairway, but while it was not guarded, nor was it being used by anyone except for an occasional servant. While the mare had been able to bluff her way here, posing as one of the regular workforce, the same would not be true of the more private sectors of the castle. She was going to have to be very careful from now onward. She had to find one particular room among a castle full of them without attracting the attention of the staff. Some doors were open, and allowed her to dismiss those rooms quickly. The rest required stealthy looks after pausing at each door to listen for any possible occupants first. Several times she hid behind statuary, drapes, or any other convenient concealment to avoid the gaze of various people. She kept her cool despite all of the encounters up until she was almost spotted by a familiar purple alicorn. Fortunately she was in deep discussion with a small dragon, and completely ignored the unicorn mare in the maid outfit. The dragon cast a curious glance at her, but had his attention drawn back to Twilight Sparkle.

With a sigh of relief, the mare continued her searching until at last she came to a small bedroom. One cautious look inside told her that she had found her goal, and she slipped inside and closed the door behind her. She walked over to the cot and spotted the occupant fast asleep. It was a very young changeling, perhaps only a few weeks past the nymph stage, but no mere drone was this! It was the new Queen’s daughter, a princess and future leader of the hive.

The mare’s form was suddenly surrounded by magic green fire, and Chrysalis stepped forward with a broad grin on her face. “So I have found you at last, Epiphany.”

# # #

Chrysalis watched warily as her traitorous child powered up her horn. Although Gossamer wore the form of an alicorn stallion, there was no way that her daughter could yet match her power, and yet she had withstood every attack of hers and kept coming back stronger each time. How she managed that was a mystery to Chrysalis, and the changeling queen was treating the situation much more seriously than when she had started the battle with Gossamer. Nevertheless her progeny’s latest actions were puzzling. While the massive power that the pseudo-alicorn was building up was undoubtedly very dangerous, the relative slowness of the forthcoming attack would be laughably easy to dodge, or even counter. She decided to be cautious and try to anticipate the plan of attack, preparing a defense in the meantime. After what seemed an interminable length of time in this furiously-paced battle, she judged that Gossamer was about to release her attack, only to be shocked when the pseudo-alicorn disappeared. She desperately tried to seek out her foe, but realized far too late that her enemy had reappeared behind and above her. Before Chrysalis could react, the gigantic accumulation of power was released, and a shaft of energy tore through her body. With a cry of agony, Chrysalis plummeted to the ground, and the aura of power around her started dying.

“VICTORY!” she heard her child scream, and knew that she was right. Her body was trying to heal itself as it had done so many times during their battle, but this was no mere wound. Her body was far too damaged to possibly recover, and she knew death awaited her. Yet, in these final moments of her life, she felt pride – her daughter had surpassed her! How glorious it would have been to rule Equestria together, but maybe she could give her child the chance to do so without her. She managed to watch as Gossamer landed and walked up to her. She tried to talk, but only hacked up blood. She tried again, and Gossamer moved closer to try to hear what she was saying.

“H…how?” she managed to whisper, hoping to solve that mystery before she died.

With an almost pitying look, Gossamer replied, “I told you already – True Love and the Magic of Friendship. You should have tried it.”

Chrysalis managed a ghost of a smile. Such foolishness actually had some merit; she was hardly in a position to deny the results. “At last… a worthy … … heir.” With the final dregs of her strength, she reached out and touched the pseudo-alicorn’s nearest hoof. Upon physical contact, she was able to enact the transfer of control of the hive-mind to Gossamer, and then she collapsed, utterly spent. She had no strength left to move, or even blink, and only the enormous reservoir of love energy that still suffused her body was keeping her barely alive and conscious for the moment. She could not even react as Gossamer realized what she had done and started cursing and kicking her insensate body.

“Celestia damn you to Tartarus, you bucking bitch. You miserable excuse for a mother! Just had to get the last laugh, didn’t you? I hope there’s a hell and you burn in it forever!”

Such ingratitude! Still, give her time, and blood would tell. Such a daughter was destined for greatness, and she comforted herself with that thought even as the abuse continued. Eventually though, some of Gossamer’s compatriots came and informed her that one of her allies was dying, and she departed hastily. Chrysalis found a small measure of satisfaction in the knowledge that she was taking one of her enemies with her. It was almost the last coherent thought that she had as her body was slowly losing the fight to stay alive.

Night finally fell, but Chrysalis could not tell how long she lay there before some drones passed in front of narrow field of vision. She barely realized that they were picking up the changeling corpses that littered the battlefield when one walked past her, brushing her body. The brief contact was enough for her to connect with the soldier though, and her mind rushed to fill the void that was the drone’s consciousness, pushing it aside and leaving her in control. She gasped with the shock of the unexpected transition, and realized that she had inadvertently accomplished something no other queen had ever done before, and all because she had raised a horde of soldiers that were virtually mindless. That had left her a host for her essence, and she lived once more! She carefully broke the connection to the hive-mind so that her resurrection would remain undetected, and then she threw back her head and laughed long and loud.

“Oh, Gossamer, you had best be truly worthy of the gift that I gave you, because I will test you when I have regained my full power.”

The other drones continued picking up the dead and carrying them away, but obviously avoiding her former body.

Chrysalis frowned. “So, it seems you want to keep my corpse. Do you want to parade it in front of your allies? Or maybe you just want to see what a queen’s body is like after it’s ripped apart by magic? Either way, you’re not getting the satisfaction!”

She lit up her horn and lifted her old body. Immediately she realized the difference in power that her new smaller body had compared to the old larger one, and lifting it was proving to be a challenge. Nevertheless, she had no intention of leaving it behind, and she slowly carried it away from the city. Only the constant flow of ambient love energy let her accomplish the task long enough for her to find somewhere to conceal it and herself. There she rested and let the energy build up within her until she sensed that it was going to overwhelm her new body. Then she released it all in one surge to immolate her corpse. What remained afterwards was unrecognizable, and she was satisfied with the result. She rested a while to build up a store of energy once more before she took off and flew away. She had a promise to keep to herself, and that would begin immediately!

# # #

It took days to make her way back to her old hive, although it was keeping a low profile that slowed her up more than anything else. Eventually though, she came to a landing just short of the concealed entrance to the hive. She had congratulated herself on the foresight of leaving a skeleton staff behind to maintain the hive in her absence in case of any problems at the Crystal Empire hive, but she had never anticipated returning under these circumstances. Unlike the soldier drones that had been hastily bred for the invasion, the ones guarding this hive were fully developed and intelligent. Moreover, they were still connected to the hive-mind that was now in the control of her daughter. However, Gossamer was unlikely to have made sufficient progress with sorting through the myriad of details to even begin considering needing to update it, and the link was very tenuous at this distance. Nevertheless, the alarm could still be raised if she did not tread carefully.

From concealment, she looked for and found the sentry. She nodded in satisfaction after recognizing the soldier as one particularly fanatical to her, hence why she had trusted him to be in charge of the hive’s security. If she was careful, she should have little problem gaining access. She used her shape-changing ability to reform her drone body into an imitation of her queen form, although she could only manage about two thirds of her proper size due to the limited mass of this body. She would have enhanced it with illusion, but that was not one of the skills that a soldier drone’s body was capable of doing. Nevertheless, it should do the job, and she took off again to approach the sentry slowly enough to be spotted and recognized.

The sentry was startled to see his queen approaching. His senses told him that it was a Blue Changeling, and she certainly looked right, even if she was smaller than she should be. He was alert but not alarmed as she approached him.

“Hail, Breezon!” Chrysalis said. “I see that you still stand duty as faithfully as ever.”

The familiar words and attitude made Breezon relax a bit. “Hail, Chrysalis! Are you alright? Has something happened at the Crystal Empire?”

“Something has indeed happened at the Crystal Empire and to me. The invasion did no go well. Let me share with you.” Chrysalis reached out a hoof to touch Breezon. Before the sentry could react, her powerful mind broke the link to the hive-mind and reforged one to her.

Breezon staggered as memories flooded into his mind, and then it took him some time to realize the implications. “Your Majesty! How could this have happened? What are we to do?”

“I don’t fully understand how I was defeated, but I will study my enemies and I will have my revenge. But first, I need to resume control of this hive, and I will need your help to do so.”

“I am yours to command as ever, Your Majesty.”

“Then let us begin. Just like you, the guards inside won’t be seeking a link to the hive-mind at first, so we should be able to bind them to me easily. I will act through my link to you, so just touch them so that I can make contact.”

Chrysalis resumed the natural soldier drone form and they headed inside. Positioned at a strategic point in the tunnel, two guards patiently stood watch. At the approach of Breezon and Chrysalis, one of them routinely challenged him.

“Who is this, Commander?”

“A messenger from Queen Chrysalis with important news.”

“What news?”

“She has returned!”

Both Breezon and Chrysalis reached out to touch a guard each simultaneously. It was trickier to do two at once, especially acting through an intermediary, but Chrysalis successfully broke the link of both and joined them to her. Both guards were stunned much as Breezon had been, but once they had recovered, they joined their queen and commander in proceeding further into the hive. From that point on, it was a simple matter of repeating the process until the last of the changelings in the hive had been converted.

“How many drones are outside of the hive at the moment, Commander?”

“Two foragers and both harvesters, Your Majesty.”

“See that I am alerted the moment that they return so that we can convert those also. Now, I want everyling in my throne room immediately.”

The crowd that gathered in Chrysalis’ throne room was pathetically small, but it was after all just the minimum required to maintain the hive in her absence. That would have to change as soon as possible. She resumed her imitation queen form.

“First priority – the breeders have to make a new body for me. This soldier drone form is completely unacceptable! Make the most powerful nymph that you can, but do not link it to us. Keep it totally uneducated. My mind will complete it. Next priority is breeding more soldiers.”

Breezon frowned in puzzlement. “Your Majesty – won’t we need more gatherers first to feed the new drones?”

Chrysalis regarded him carefully. “I like you, Breezon, because you aren’t merely loyal, but you can think. Yes, we will need to increase our stores of love energy, but the harvester drones are weak and disloyal. When our last two are no longer needed, they will be terminated. Instead, the new soldier drones will be modified to increase their emotion gathering ability. Perhaps they will not fail me as so many of the harvesters did when I invaded Canterlot.”

“A wise move, My Queen.”

Chrysalis turned back to the rest. “Maximum effort will be put into regrowing this hive. Our time is limited because sooner or later, my daughter will recall its location and feel the need to visit it. By then, we should have scouted out another location and moved. While we are rebuilding though, we will need to learn as much as we can about Queen Gossamer and her allies. I will learn their secrets and eventually I will have my revenge.”

# # #

It had taken a frustratingly long time for Chrysalis’ new body to be ready, and when it was, it was necessary to transfer her mind into it as soon as possible to prevent it developing a mind of its own. That had made her practically helpless for a while until she grew enough to regain some of her physical power. Despite the forced growth techniques of the breeders, that meant months of being physically unable to do much, but her mind was as powerful as ever, and she directed activities with the aid of the mind-links.

Gradually, her soldier scouts brought back news that both puzzled and amazed her. What Gossamer was doing was almost incomprehensible, and completely unknown to changelings throughout history. Nevertheless, she could see the power base that was growing through her association with House Path, and was impressed in spite of herself. It made her hate her foes even more though because they had so perverted the course that she had planned for her daughter before she had disappeared for so long.

Then she learned that Gossamer had borne a child whom she had named Epiphany. Chrysalis smiled to herself. Now she knew what she would do. When the time was right, she would be paying House Path a visit!

# # #

Chrysalis’ smile grew wider as she leaned over the crib. She reached in and nudged the sleeping child until she opened her eyes.

Epiphany rolled over and blinked a bit, focusing on the person who had woken her. Her face lit up with a smile as she seemingly recognized Chrysalis, and she clicked and whirred in the changeling tongue, “Who are you?

Chrysalis replied in the same language, “Someone who has taken very great interest in you, little one. I have something for you.

Chrysalis then took the ribbons in her mouth of the box that she had been carrying all this time, and held it over Epiphany. The child reached for it, unable to read the tag on it that read: ‘With love, Grandma’, but knowing that it was something wonderful anyway.

Chrysalis left the present beside Epiphany and then leaned in further to kiss the child on her cheek. “I expect great things of you, Granddaughter. Don’t disappoint me.” She took one last long look at Epiphany before saying, “Goodbye… Pif. You will be seeing me again, I hope.”

Chrysalis then left the room to make her way out of the castle as stealthily as she had entered, all the while imagining with glee the uproar that would happen when Epiphany’s family finally realized who had left the plush toy infused with love. It would be far too late though. The move to the new hive was complete, and its future was assured. Now it was just a matter of patience, and Chrysalis had plenty of that.

# # # # # # # # # #

 

 

Author's Note:

Ta-da! The mystery of the missing corpse solved! Tying this in with events in my other stories was tricky. If you have read "Growing Up Dandy", then you know of an incident that involved one of Chrysalis' soldier drones that occurred much later, so she could not have died, could she?

So, how many of you figured out that it was Chrysalis before she made the reveal? I didn't want it to be obvious, but there were hints.

Art by Kat Miller a.k.a. Foxenawolf - https://www.furaffinity.net/user/foxenawolf

 
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