Chip’s training finally reached a stage where he was supposed to use magic. The Queen noticed that her subject’s physique started changing – he became more bulky, a bit taller, more… More like a typical adult colt. Changelings usually don’t grow beyond the height of a young adult mare, so this kind of evolution intrigued the Queen. Could it be that under no control, the body itself grows? Is her influence actually crippling the strength of her subjects? Or was it just Chip? Those and many other questions could not be answered, as Chip was the only changeling so far to be found bearing the gift of self-awareness. The Queen knew there were others, but it was hard to discern who and where it was. On multiple occasions she tried to find these specimens, but failed. Chip was deep into his personality at the time of his uncovering, and even then Chrysalis probably killed hundreds of other changelings while trying to pin-point the location of the independent will she felt.
Now, the colt before her… No, the changeling before her was ready to begin magic training. Shape shifting was easy for a changeling, at least for as long as the Queen exerted her control over it. Chip learned to fare on his own, and sustained only a remote connection with the collective mind – she could barely feel him in the muck of scents, visions and sounds. As such, she was unable to guide his body and magic through the process necessary to transform. Of course she could just yank him back and take over, but that would be missing the point – and that was to train an independent agent, one that could act of his own accord and have independent ideas. And Chip was a smart one. She could still remember the shock she was under when the little devil managed to outsmart her in a game they were playing. She had to stitch his head in several places afterwards (the board for the game was much more sturdy than it looked), but luckily Chip’s mind didn’t deteriorate, nor was the changeling mad about it. He accepted a whole lot of punishment, deserved or otherwise, just for the sake of serving her. He strained himself to exhaustion many times, sometimes even to the point of needing medical attention. One would think he was hurting himself on purpose just to be tendered back to health…
“My queen?” said Chip in a low tone, a subtle reverb akin to hers snapping her out of contemplation. This tended to happen a lot as of late, and was starting to worry the Queen.
“What? You will wait as long as it takes, you insolent rut!” she yelled, slapping the changeling with telekinesis across the cheek.
Chip didn’t flinch or move – he got used to such treating. Even liked it to some degree.
“Shape shifting isn’t easy in the slightest, and the smallest mistake on your part will cause me grief and the need to put you back together”. Was that a faint smile on Chip’s mouth? “The first thing you need is somepony you want to copy. For this example, you will shape shift into me. A normal pony is much more complicated to mimic, as most of them don’t have horns or wings at the same time”.
Chip looked at his leathery wings and flapped them a few times in disbelief. Chrysalis still remembered how the changeling darted around the room, so proud of himself, before finally losing control and crashing into a wall. He broke both his front legs, and the horn on his head was devastated. She had to scold him for damaging himself so badly and pushing away the magic training until he healed, but deep down inside, she felt… Pride. Not because of what Chip did, she would not call it that. She was proud of herself – she was a great teacher and was moulding the perfect servant. One that would be smart, fast, athletic and cunning. One that could aid her in the master plan, fulfil her dreams… All of them…
This time Chrysalis shook out of contemplation by herself. If Chip was aware of that or not, she could not tell – she decided not to invade upon his thoughts unless necessary.
“Alright, now. Take a good look at me. You need to copy each and every detail of my body, or you will fail. In the outside world, a half-baked disguise will get noticed right away, and questions will ensue. You don’t want to be questioned – you want to be the one asking the questions. Getting the answers. Using them against those that loathe us.”
She loved… Liked… To see the expression on Chip’s face when she talked about hating other ponies. She managed to inspire a kind of fire, righteous and innocent, against the dwellers of this world. She knew he would do anything to please her, and even more if it meant hurting those she taught him to hate.
The tall mare stood still as Chip inspected her, looking up and down, nearly touching her chitin with his face. He really grew a lot, and was only a head and a half shorter than the Queen. For reasons unknown, it felt kind of awkward to be ogled like that – she resisted the urge to buck the changeling in the face when he inspected her tail and flank. She had to restrain some sort of shivers when she felt his faint scent while he was looking at her horn, mane and face. He was focused on the task, bent on doing his best, if not more, to please her.
The first transformation went quite good, all things considered. At least Chip didn’t manage to turn himself inside out, which was what the Queen expected. He totally missed the eyes, and his hind legs didn’t change at all. The masquerade would easily be seen though, and the changeling brought to questioning.
“You did well, but that is not enough.” Said the Queen. “Again!”
It took a day to master transforming into another changeling, and a week or so more to excel at transforming into any form Chip could see. During that time, ponies were being kidnapped from the south and brought to Chrysalis’s lair, and Chip would then proceed to mimic the victims. As he gained expertise, it took him less and less time to transform and his accuracy was improving at a staggering rate. By the end of the seventh day, Chrysalis could not find a flaw in the changeling’s disguise.
“Well well, you finally got it, hmm?” mocked the Queen with a playful smile “Took your sweet time, didn’t you. Now, dispose of this pony and then we shall continue your education”.
Chip smiled and transformed into the victim again. The mare was screaming as her look-alike dragged her by the mane outside. The screams faded away into the distance, and Chrysalis allowed herself to smile even more. She adored the way Chip instilled fear into ponies. He was a wonderful student, and it was barely a month since she first took him under her wing. With time Chip stopped trying to sneak over to Chrysalis and sleep alongside her (which the mare kind of accepted as they went along) and instead vowed to bury himself in books and study materials at his own cave (which, for comfort’s sake, was right under Chrysalis’ lair). He was making great progress as well – ever since he learned to read, Chrysalis was steadily feeding him books about history, magic or just plain stories to gain knowledge of the language. He gobbled these tomes up, large and small, faster than she could procure them.
She was kind of worried that the colt (or changeling, she didn’t mind calling him either) would start having stupid ideas after some of the tomes, but he remained as focused as ever, and a true loyal subject. Every now and then Chrysalis would have to face an awkward question, such as “Why are we changelings?” or ”Why are we banished?”. In her usual manner, she would just slap her student, shout him down for wasting time and continue with their studies.
Chip seemed to have a great affinity for spells as well. His horn was magnificently curvy. And powerful. The Colt learned spells that a skilled unicorn would need years for in a matter of days. His favourites were an invisibility spell (with which he tried to prank Chrysalis, but ended up with a broken jaw), a teleportation spell (one does not need vivid imagination to guess how the first tries looked like) and shape shifting itself. Each and every incantation was excellent for sneaking and espionage, the main objectives that the changeling would eventually be tasked with. Chrysalis couldn’t be happier. Or at least so she thought.
While Chip was straining to produce a lightning bolt to zap one of her minions standing still (moving target practice would come later), he accidentally backfired – an electric charge somehow skimmed across his majestic plating, energized his wings, concentrated in his tail and fired right at the monarch (who was ironically standing back not to get hit). The scene happened too fast for anyone to register, and only after some minutes passed both the Queen and her student understood what happened. The bolt of pure energy did, indeed, fire backwards. It should have hit Chrysalis. Instead, a smouldering pile of ash was gently fading away beneath her hooves. Another changeling jumped in front of her and took the full blow.
The thing was, she didn’t do it. And no changeling would have the will to break out of her grasp. None, except for one. Chip. He, somehow, must’ve took control of that single minion and threw it to save her. If that was true… If it really was him…
“Chip…” whispered the Queen.
“My lady… I…” replied the flabbergasted colt.
She approached him and looked him in the eyes. For some time now she was noticing something about them. Pupils. Barely visible slits in the clear blue of his eyes. He was looking at her, uncertainty on his face.
“You did me very proud today… Chip…”. She embraced him. He gave back the hug.
He was only a head shorter than she was now.