The trip along memory lane got interrupted when Chip crashed straight into a dark cloud. It was pitch-black inside and he felt tingling on the surface of his armour, small jolts pricking at his head and hooves. A violent dive allowed him to leave the grumbling raincloud.
All around, there was water coming down from the sky. The changeling had his eyes wide open, seeing the phenomenon for the first time in his life. He read about it – it was called rain. Rain was when a cloud had too much water in it – it was so heavy that it eventually fell down. All of this was made by ponies – the clouds, the rain, the weather in general. Chip did not understand why would anypony want such things floating around – he was soaking wet, almost as if he had fallen into a lake. The taste didn’t differ much from normal water. And the grim atmosphere the grumbling clouds made contrasted all that he remembered from his last trip outside the hive.
The colt decided to travel on hooves for some time – while he could fly with wet wings, it wasn’t the most pleasurable thing. And something in the sky’s murmuring told the changeling that it wouldn’t be wise to fly anyway.
The rain intensified, causing small lakes and rivers to emerge all around. The grass was slippery and flailed wildly in the wind. Chip was irritated at this – he couldn’t see far ahead and already managed to trip a few times. If this was freedom, he regretted it even more – back at the hive it was nice and dry, warm and he had a lot of things to do. Even if it was just reading the same books over and over again or repeating a spell for the hundredth time, it felt more appealing now more than ever.
Chip finally reached a place to shelter himself from the rain. It was a cosy little rock formation, shielded from the elements and view of others. It took some time for him to realise it was the same spot he chose to release all his friends to! A small tear (or was it just rainwater?) fell to the ground as Chip remembered their faces – each one was so full of gratitude, hope and sincerity.
So maybe his plan didn’t work out as expected. Maybe he would not be able to show Chrysalis the brighter side of life. Still, he did something meaningful for those mares. Doing good things brings him joy. So he would continue to do good things for ponies, learn about them. That is a good cause to work with.
His spirits up, Chip looked around the small interior more closely. There were a few items here that he did not recognise – a burned out wax candle, a piece of paper with something scribbled on it and several vegetables and fruits, all rotten and stinky. Upon closer inspection, the paper had a drawing of something that resembled a changeling – black carapace, crooked blue eyes and overly large green wings. The caption beneath read “CHIP”. Was this a message for him? Who left it here? Did anyone know of this place as well? There was nothing on the other side of the drawing, so Chip disregarded those thoughts and looked out south, towards his goal – the border of Equestria. The monotonous rain beating the ground and the serenity of the landscape lulled the changeling into a nap.
It was dawn when Chip opened his eyes. He slept dreamlessly, but was well rested and ready to tackle the day. The rain clouds moved on their way a long time ago and now the waking sun was working on cleaning up all the water left behind. The warmth of the day sent ripples of pleasure down the colt’s body. This would be a good day.
He took to the skies, delighted at the breeze present just below the clouds. He could see something in the distance from up there – was that a building? Yes, it had to be – the rocks were of one shade of grey and there were elements here and there that definitely weren’t natural.
A sudden thought struck the changeling – how would they react to his appearance? Did they even know what a changeling was? It would be a lot safer to masquerade as one of their own and gauge the situation. There was no need to scare anypony. Especially if there is a possibility of colts being there!
Chip was so excited he nearly crash landed on the ground – he left behind a long trail of skid marks and was vigorously spitting grass. Having collected himself, he now had to decide which disguise to take.
The ponies living in one of the many border barracks were as vigilant as ever. Their sentry spells picked up somepony coming before they could even see her. Along the north path trotted a mare with a yellow coat and purple mane. She seemed very happy about something and was grinning from ear to eat, picking up the pace as she approached. The guards braced and prepared their weapons
Chip, disguised as Night Star (she was the first that came to mind, no particular preference, really) approached the ponies that were pointing long sticks at him. He saw those before too, in his books. Those were called weapons. They were used for hurting. Why would they want to hurt him? Did his disguise fail him?
His slight panic got quenched when one of the guardsponies smiled and lowered his weapon.
“Night Star!” exclaimed the pony, hugging Chip. “I’m so happy to see you again! Come to check up on your husband? I’ll fetch him right away. Oy, Autumn! Your wife is here to see you!”
The gravity of the situation struck Chip with the force of a hurricane – there was somepony who could look through his disguise. He would be found out! His instincts told him to leap at the other guard and then play a complicated game of cat and mouse, where he would one by one…
No! That is not how Chip does it. He would wait out and see if he can talk to this Autumn. Maybe the changeling’s knowledge of the mare would fool him enough?
“Albert, you must be mistaken, Star is taking care of our foal to-“ The colt paused as he caught sight of Chip. His facial expression went from surprise, through suspicion, ending on something that didn’t suggest anything good. “Ah, yes,” he said in a flat voice, “silly me. That IS my wife. Come now, dear. I have something I want to talk to you about… Alone…”
Chip noticed that the weapon strapped to the stallion’s side budged. This could not be good.