Chip’s newfound abilities were finally drawn out from the shade – his unique personality, which he still liked to call “the spark”, grew to such strength that it was capable of sending meaningful messages to the hive mind network. It was clumsy at first, and controlling even one changeling was a strain for the student. Each day he exerted his power to their limits. It was far more complicated than maintaining his own body (which was now second nature to him) – he had to breathe, think and feel for the creature under his control. Many changelings given under his care eventually died of suffocation or muscle cramps so severe they would break bones. But he was learning zealously, and two weeks later, he proudly trotted about with two fully controlled changelings at his side.
Chrysalis taught Chip not only how to control his minions, but also how to use them in what they were best – sneaking up, mimicking others, and gathering information. It became a fun game to battle with changeling minions to the death – the Queen didn’t seem to pay attention to the victims of their fun; Chip was uneasy about the issue at first, but eventually got over it. He started acting like she did – with a cold demeanour, and a royal air about him. He grew even more, and was now almost as tall as Chrysalis. His frame was magnificent, his chitin shiny and strong. The wings he sported were probably stronger than her own, but she would never admit that.
As more and more time passed, there was less and less the Queen could offer to Chip – he learned all she knew. At one point a creeping fright started making its way into the back of her head – what if he betrays? What if he slays her and takes the throne? Her paranoia eventually lead to a confrontation.
Without much warning and in his sleep, Chip was ambushed by several dozens of changelings. Defeating them was easy, but the reason behind the attack was unclear to the colt. He didn’t waste time and went to the Queen immediately, only to be attacked again, and in greater force. He fought furiously, anger and frustration building up beneath his skin, until… Well, he just stopped. A pile of his dead brothers and sisters lay in the room, and Chip just stopped and dropped to his knees in a bow. He ignored the little gnawing changelings, which eventually penetrated his heavy armour and started tearing into his flesh. Only when first blood was drawn from the colt did the Queen stop herself. She had a blank expression on her face. Without much thought she probably slew her minions, as they fell off the large changeling lifeless. Chrysalis approached the stallion that Chip was now and looked at him. Much of his carapace was broken, and a nasty gnash sprung dark green blood down the colt’s body. The Queen delicately bent down and licked the wound, tears building up in her eyes. A soft green glow soothed Chip’s physical pain, but a sense of dread and betrayal persisted in his heart. He could not understand why Chrysalis would do what she just did. And now heal the damage she had done.
“Chip…” she started in an unusually small voice. She shook her head and looked the changeling straight in the eye. “Chip” she began again, her voice strong and royal now “you proved your loyalty to me and your obedience. What just happened was one of the final tests, and I am fond you passed it.”
Chip nodded from his crouching position – his mind however, was not certain the mare’s words were true.
“You are now ready to face the outside world. You have been kept precious for long enough – you are strong and trained, and you shall now work for the education and care I gave to you. Return here in the morning – there won’t be any more testing as intense as this, so sleep well. You will need much strength for the task ahead of you.”
Chip again nodded and, limping, left the Queen’s lair. His body was aching, but it was nothing compared to the pain somewhere deep inside him. He never felt so out of tune, so misplaced. He refused to believe what his delicate senses told him – she was lying, and in a horrible way. The colt could not sleep that night, waiting and mowing down the events of the night till sunrise.
Chrysalis arranged a good-bye with all the glory and splendour that he read about in his books. Many changelings saluted him, there was a speech he didn’t pay much attention to, and tears… False tears… of pride.
“Chip, my most faithful student and loyal subject” intoned the Queen in a breaking voice, “From here on out you are, by my decree, assigned on a special mission. You are to infiltrate the southern kingdom of Equestria. Your main task is gathering information, spreading false rumours and preparing the country for our arrival. You shall act as our glorious Vanguard, the spear that will split apart first Equestria, then the world!”.
The whole room cheered, but Chip knew those puppets didn’t know what they were actually doing. He loathed them, hated everything at the moment. A throbbing scar under his newly regrown carapace kept reminding him in the rhythm of his heartbeat about last night, the night he was turned upon. He really wished she would just end him back there, as he intended. He was betrayed and not worth her trust. He lost something incredibly precious – and it wasn’t even his own fault. The Queen wanted him to be this way, so he was. What else could he do?
His grim thoughts didn’t distract him from giving an upbeat speech about loyalty, servitude and the glory which is his Queen. By now he was able to think, read, speak and do magic all at once, a feat impossible just a few months back. Time really did fly – but in the wrong direction. If it could only rewind just a little bit and stop…
The ceremony ended fast, as there was little in the way of partying between the changelings – what needed be said was said, and everyone had their orders. Chip packed a saddle with some of his favourite books, concentrated hard and leapt forward. A green light enveloped him, and with a loud pop he vanished into thin air. He really loved blind teleportation – it was fun, at least as long as he kept a safe distance from the ground and mountains. He managed to stuck himself or part of him in solid rock, some trees or deep underground many times. The precious moments needed for recasting the spell could have cost him his life more than a dozen times. Looking back at all the times he got injured, nearly killed even... he wished he would be left alone then. A fond memory of his feats and potential would remain… Not the sour taste of rejection and fear.
Thank you so much for the reads and encouragement! It means a lot to me. Hope you will enjoy the story as it unfolds!