Starlight in a Broken Vessel

by the-pieman

Chapter 91

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Chapter 91

The entire hall resumes eating as the workers clean up the messy remnants of the changelings. I sit down again, eying the other near-queens.

I notice that there’s still bits of charred not-queen in my food. I guess I could try it, but given my current audience, that might be a bit too far... So I just push my now-ruined food away and just wait for whatever might happen. No way there’d be another attempt at this point. I know for a fact everyone saw what happened.

Another two plates of food slide up to me, these with a simple-looking salad utterly smothered in some kind of dressing. It’s a blueish green dressing, and Ren noticeably perks up upon seeing the salads.

“So if this is also poisoned, does anyone wanna just say it is and we can get this over with? I’m getting kinda mad now.” I give the stinkeye across the table and get no reaction. I sigh and try the food anyways. It’s alright, with a taste rather like strong eggplant, the flavor more overpowering than I’m used to. As well, there’s the barely noticeable taste of the actual greens used, minus some sharp tastes, probably from a more acidic plant. It’s perfectly par for the course, if a bit strange. At least it’s not gross, and there’s no changeling bits in this one. It’s companion doesn’t taste any worse, either.

I pass one of the plates to Ren. “These seem fine to me. Unless they somehow poisoned both of them. In which case it’d probably be the chef.”

The queen nods, and accepts the salad and digs in with relish. Apparently, this is a favorite of hers, or something. Not enough protein in it if you ask me. At least they do eat meat... I wonder if I can come back later and get some... I’ll ask what animal it is later. Oh well, the salad isn’t terrible, so I continue eating. Aside from that one attack, this has been kind of a bore.

Ren finishes her salad, and turns to me, a bit of blue dressing on her upper lip. She speaks up, her voice a bit more confident. “So, Anthony. How have things been for you?”

“Not bad, if a bit samey. I guess when there isn’t danger, Equestria gets, well... what’s the word I’m looking for?”

“Boring?” Ren smiles. “I like boring. It’s safe.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right. Anyway, I was wondering what your ideas are for trying to get the ponies to get used to changelings?”

“Ah, well, I was planning on trying to c- convince Ponyville’s mayor to authorize temporary citizen p- passes. And then, we could try just... I don’t know. Helping? It’s a bit hard to think of things to actually help with.”

“That might work, but yeah, I understand. Maybe you just need a chance to show what you can do. They didn’t like me until I saved them from something they couldn’t stop themselves. Just do something to help that they can’t and you’ll be super popular.”

“O- oh... I don’t know if I can b- be heroic like you.” Ren shrinks slightly back into her chair, looking uncomfortable.

“You don’t have to be heroic, you just have to find some problem that they can’t solve, but you can. That’s all it should take. Or just have a changeling live with them long enough that they get used to ‘em.”

Ren nods. “Okay... I think we can do that. Maybe. But we need more sustenance. This food is really just for the taste, and a little for keeping our bodies healthy.”

“Well if it’s love you need, I may know someone you could ask... though I’m not sure of her current feelings on changelings...”

Ren cocked her head, but didn’t say anything in response. Instead, she started a new conversation with, “Well, alright... uhm... anything new?”

“Yeah, some newcomers from Earth, where I come from. Hmmmm... if you can get them to like you, then it might be easier for the ponies to understand you’re peaceful.”

Ren smiles appreciatively. “Alright. Uhm... c- could I... er, nevermind.”

“What is it? Come on, what could be so bad that you don’t wanna ask?” I give her a smile.

Ren ducks her head. “N- nothing.”

One of the protoqueens pipes up. “She wants some love from you, to make herself more powerful.”

“Well, as long as I’m asked first and you aren’t taking it by force, I suppose I have no problem. Though I don’t really have anyone I love. It’s actually kinda complicated at the moment.”

“That’s alright. J- just think of your family, of the ones you care about.” She gently sets a hoof on my hand, and stares into my eyes. Her eyes, slitted like a cat’s, stare at me. Faint swirls and shapes of green moves restlessly in the depths of her eyes.

I close my eyes and remember my life back home on Earth. I kinda already accepted that I’d never get back, but I still miss it a bit. I think about my mom and dad, and life before I came here. It was nice. Not exactly action-packed, but... I really do miss my folks. I’m willing to bet that if I suddenly went missing, they’d freak out. I’m convinced they miss me just as much... I sigh. Well, I guess it can’t be helped for now.

I open my eyes as I feel Ren hug me. “I’m so sorry... whatever you remembered, I didn’t mean to make you sad...”

“Eh, when you’re separated from your family by either countless billions of distance or not even in the same universe and haven’t seen them in forever... Guess I should think of something else, sorry.”

“No... no, that was more than enough.” Ren continues to hold me, and even rubs her face against my chest. I’m going to assume it’s a pony gesture of comfort or something.

Without warning, a blade slams into Ren’s shoulder, stabbing into me as well. At the same time, another slams into my shoulder, but it’s poorly aimed and bounces off my shoulder blade. I can see the slightly reddish glow around the knife in Ren’s shoulder, and recognize it as the aura the eldest changeling princess had.

I stand up and grapple the would-be assassin, pulling her away from the table and I throw the changeling to the ground, her stomach pushed against the ground as I step on her back. Without much effort I rip the wings off her back, my foot keeping her from being pulled up. The queen screams in pain and shock, dark-green ichor spilling from the wounds.

"Damn, you bugs are stupid, now you've pissed me off!" I list the recent annoyances as I continue to grind my heel into the eldest sister's back, bringing another scream of pain from her. I then change my tactic to finish her off, stomping on her head repeatedly.

*Crack* *Crack* *Cr-ack* * Cra-Splat*

I rip off a piece of her dark maroon exoskeleton and use it to scrape the mashed changeling brains off my shoe. I just kick the insect's dead limp body away and return to my seat. I look around the table at the drones and remaining sisters.

"Anyone else wanna try? Anyone?"

The entire table has shifted visibly away from me, leaning as far back as they can without being too obvious about it. Several of the servants look shocked, except for the changeling butler. Even Renaissance looks scared. She’s also whimpering, and probably in pain from the knife in her shoulder.

Speaking of, the adrenaline only got me up and through the ‘fight’, but I can already feel the places where the two knives tore into me. I just didn’t have time to extract myself more carefully, and now the back of my shoulder hurts really bad.

I wince, but don’t show any more pain. If there’s gonna be a third try, I’m not gonna make it look like I’ve been weakened. I just sit down and wait for... whatever will happen next.

Ren extracts the knife from herself, and looks at it, her face turning to a hard scowl I’d never seen on her usually timid face before. It’d be like Fluttershy being mean, this face.

Slowly, the knife, dagger really, was set on the table in front of Ren. “I suppose,” the queen said, her eyes literally sparking with a tiny arc of green, “That there’s a reason two of the weapons I ordered destroyed were instead given to my sister?” The cold, level voice she spoke in scares me more than even the demon did. The demon promised death. Ren’s voice... that promise is one of pain. Idly, I notice that there’s no blood on the knife.

Trying to regain my composure by reminding myself I’m on her side, I take one of the daggers and look around the table at the very shaky changelings present. “So whose eye do I shove this through?”

When none of them answer, I glare around. I’m so intent on finding guilt, that I almost miss the flicker of movement before the other knife almost seems to teleport into the head of a changeling some thirty seats down. I look to Ren, who could probably freeze helium with that gaze... or fuse it into carbon.

“Guess that settles that. So is that going to be it, or do we need to make a twenty-foot ditch for all the bodies?”

Ren’s composure fails her, and she slumps back in her chair, and she looks frail again. She’s visible shaking as she answers. “N- no... W- we’re d-done here. G- go home. I’ll send a s- soldier with you. As a g- guide.”

I could easily find my way back, but after that display, I’m not terribly in the mood for arguing. Also, I’m too tired to argue anyway. Standing up and being escorted out, I look back, seeing Ren get assisted away from the banquet room as well, four larger-looking guards flanking her warily.

Once I make it outside, I see that it’s very late at night, until the changeling guard lights its horn, the eerie green light drowning the view of the sky in ambiance. After a while, I feel a bit woozy for a moment. Guess I’m more tired than I thought... eh, it’s probably just from coming off the adrenaline rush. I did get stabbed.

The changeling guard leaves me with a salute at the end of the forest nearest Ponyville, and I start my trek into town. I can just barely see the library when a wave of red-black covers my vision for a moment, and I stumble. Blinking away a wave of dizziness, I shake my head.

That... was a bad idea. I’m much more dizzy now, and begin walking towards the library, hoping to get there and ask Twilight before whatever is going on gets worse.

No more than ten feet from the front door, I feel my legs give out, and the ground races up to kiss me. Slowly, the view of trampled dirt fades to black... Next Chapter: chapter 92 Estimated time remaining: 21 Hours, 60 Minutes

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