The changeling rounded on her prey. A small mare with a vivid orange mane trembled as the changeling stalked closer, driven by a single directive being channeled from the hive-mind, and the changeling queen at its center.
Feed, drummed the order in her mind. The changeling tensed, ready to pounce and drain the love from her target. She lunged, opening her maw wide to feast on the love-filled mare—to suck the living essence from the pony and leave her to die.
She was interrupted mid-pounce by a quick and massive magical explosion, clipping the side of the changeling and sending her spiraling through the air.The hive-mind told her what had happened: the guard captain’s spell, augmented by Princess Cadence, had just successfully repelled the entire invasion force and sent them hurtling away from Canterlot.
Unable to right herself enough to fly due to the force of the blast and the speed with which it repelled her, the changeling slammed into the side of something hard and fell to the ground in a daze. Lifting her head, she faintly registered that she was in a town, notably the one she had seen off in the distance as she had flown with the rest of the swarm towards Canterlot. Ponyville, the name echoed through the changeling. The hive-mind processed this information and was made aware that several other changelings had also been separated from the the swarm, scattered about the countryside. The hive-mind made a decision.
Abandon, the queen’s thoughts echoed in her head. Of course. She was dispensable, like all the others. There were uncounted thousands of changelings just like her back at the hive. Why should the swarm be concerned with her? The young changeling accepted her fate without question and lay her head back down, ready to be cut off from the group consciousness and be embraced by death. Her vision dimmed as she felt the hive leave her, taking her consciousness with it until finally she succombed to oblivion.
But death failed to take her. When the changeling opened her eyes after a few hours, her mind was blank; she no longer felt the presence of her brethren or her queen. She felt so empty without the constant buzzing of the hive in her head—so small and isolated. Her mind grappled wordlessly with the sudden disconnection, but with no vocabulary and only the most rudimentary of thought processes, it loomed before her like an impassable mountain.
Something told her she shouldn’t have survived. It told her that her kind were never meant to be alone, and that what she was supposed to do was lie back down and waste away to nothing. Although her indoctrination emphasized otherwise, with the separation came an inexplicable desire to exist. What little thought she could piece together told her this was what the hive had intended for her to do. However, that thought was smashed apart by her sudden sourceless drive to continue on.
So what then? Was she supposed to go back to the hive? No. Those who had abandoned her to her fate would only quench this newfound independence and subjugate what little will she had suddenly developed. That same nameless something deep within her felt this was unacceptable, that somehow her independence was precious and needed to be protected. Moreover, she doubted she would be accepted back at all. She could go off on her own and hunt, but that was even less appealing; she wasn’t meant to be alone, that much rang clearly within her. With her newfound (if rather limited) capacity for making decisions, she decided that she was in deep trouble. She was cast out and had no options, no hope. But fate smiled on her and brought her a miracle.
A shadow suddenly loomed over her. She looked up into the sun to see a silhouette of a pony standing over her, her spiked mane standing out against the brilliant light. But her eyes looked so large...
“Well, well. What’s this?”
The changeling felt herself being lifted by a pair of snow-white hooves. With the sun out of her eyes, she could see the white unicorn with the spiked mane (which she now saw was an electric blue color), and she realized that what she thought were huge eyes were in fact oversized sunglasses.
The strange white mare lifted her glasses up, revealing stunning magenta eyes. “You’re a cute little devil, aren’t you? Are you lost? Do you have a name?”
The changeling had spent time with ponies before; she had assumed the form of somepony who was well-loved and usurped their place in society. She had fed off the love meant for the pony she had replaced and used it to sustain herself. But this was so strange. She could feel the waves of love this pony was radiating, and she soaked them up like warm rays of sunshine. But no matter how much affection she consumed, the pony that held her didn’t seem to waver or weaken at all. What’s more, the love the unicorn put off didn’t seem to have a destination. No pony to be directed at or receive this love... or could it be that the intended recipient was....
“No name, huh? Well, that’s alright. I think I’ll call you Wubsy! What do you think of that?”
The changeling, now Wubsy, made the second decision of her life. She decided right then and there that wherever this strange, love-filled mare went, she would follow. She wasn’t sure what made her do what she did next. It was just instinct. It felt right, so she just did it. With a blaze of green fire, Vinyl Scratch found herself suddenly holding a perfect replica of herself, sans the glasses.
Vinyl gaped. “Whoa! That was so bitchin’!” She looked the Wubsy Scratch over, nose to flank, gawking at the perfect accuracy of the mimic. Well... Almost perfect.
“Hey. Where are my glasses?”
Wubsy looked at the sunglasses that were currently resting on Vinyl’s forehead, just under her horn. With a tilt of her head and another burst of green flame, she manifested spectacles of her own, identical to those of Vinyl. “Better?” she asked the pony whose form and voice she now shared.
“Hey! You can talk!” Vinyl was impressed.
“Well of course I can talk,” Wubsy replied in the mare’s voice as though it were obvious. “I’m you. And you can talk. So I can talk.”
Vinyl puzzled over this for a moment. “So... you can turn into other ponies? And do whatever they can do?”
“Yup! Neat, huh?” Vinyl shivered slightly as she found herself on the receiving end of the same mischievous look she always gave Octavia.
“Ok, last question. You wanna go have some fun?”
Vinyl and Wubsy took to the streets of Ponyville, the latter cleverly disguised as Berry Punch. Vinyl held her breath at one point when a pale yellow mare with a blue and pink mane did a double take, but the onlooker shrugged and went about her business, much to the DJ’s relief. They wove their way through the town, quickly approaching the apartment which she shared with Octavia.
Vinyl spoke in a conspiratorial whisper as they sat outside the door. “Okay, just turn into me and follow my lead.” The twin Vinyls walked inside and marched into Octavia’s studio, sighting the gray pony at a writer’s desk—undoubtedly composing a new piece for her cello, which was (as always) at the ready beside her.
“Hey Tavi! Guess what!” Both Vinyls called out simultaneously, giving the cellist pause.
It was strange. The cellist was used to Vinyl’s ungodly experiments with splicing and warping sound into what she called music, but Octavia had never heard Vinyl’s voice sound so... harmonic. She turned around, expecting to see her marefriend wired up into some Celestia-forsaken electronic device to modulate her voice.
“What is it ViiiiiAAAAAAAAHHHHH!” Octavia screamed as she saw her worst nightmare realized. TWO Vinyls! Both of them sitting there grinning at her! What was she going to do? She could barely handle the maddening energy of one Vinyl!
“Surprised?” the Vinyl-in-stereo asked with that same maddening smirk of self-satisfaction.
“I should say so!” The musician rose from her desk, rounding on the two unicorns with an indignant huff. “Just what is the meaning of this? You come in here with some hair-brained prank just to scare the living—”
Octavia’s tirade was cut short, however, when she realized she was lecturing... herself?
“What’s the matter, Octavia?” the doppelganger asked with her own cultured voice and smug expression. This was impossible. This had to be one of Vinyl’s juvenile pranks. She looked the imposter over carefully, seeking some kind of hitch or flaw in the illusion. A flaw that she couldn’t find. It was a perfect duplicate.
“Vinyl...” she asked cautiously. “Am I currently addressing a pony who looks strikingly similar to myself?”
Vinyl fell on the floor, clutching her sides and bursting with laughter. “The look on your face, Tavi! You should get a load of yourself!”
The false Octavia was suddenly engulfed in a bright green flame, giving Octavia another start. Where once there stood a perfect replica of herself, there was now a black insect-like pony with shabby wings grinning at her bedeviled expression.
“Vinyl. Would you kindly explain who this pony is and what just transpired?”
Vinyl pulled herself together and rose to her hooves, standing beside the changeling and casually throwing a foreleg over her neck. “This is Wubsy. I found her in an alley earlier today and decided to adopt her as a pet. She can turn into anypony she sees. Pretty awesome, right?”
Octavia looked affronted. “Anything but awesome, Vinyl! You can’t just pull a pony off the street and decide to adopt her—and as a pet on top of that? How degrading! I would have expected better, even from you!”
The way she emphasized “even” left a bad taste in Vinyl’s mouth. “First of all, she’s not a pony. She’s some sort of weird, cool bug thing. And second off, if I wanna call her a pet, that’s between me and her. And she doesn’t seem to mind it, do you, Wubsy?”
Wubsy smiled and walked over to nuzzle her favorite pony under the chin.
“See? She loves me. And I love her too, so that’s all that matters. I mean, you of all ponies should understand that! Remember what everypony thought when we came out?”
Memories of that fateful time flooded Octavia’s mind. When she and Vinyl had decided to go public with their relationship, there had been plenty of neigh-sayers. She had almost clobbered Carrot Cake for calling them “fillyfoolers.” A mistake on her part to be sure; after all, he hadn’t meant anything by it. Soon enough, however, she had realized that the only ponies’ opinions which mattered in their relationship was hers and her lover’s. Now she wore the title of fillyfooler with pride, ignoring the few residual whispers of dissent from the hoof-ful of ponies that still hadn’t accepted their lifestyle.
Octavia sighed in resignation. “Very well, Vinyl. You’re right. I should be more open-minded. I wish you and... Wubsy, was it? All the joy in the world with... whatever this is.”
Vinyl squealed excitedly, rushing over and giving her marefriend a quick peck on the cheek. “I knew you’d understand, Tavi. Thanks.”
Octavia blushed. “Vinyl, we have company! A bit of modesty, please?”
Vinyl smiled, sensing weakness. “C’mon, Tavi, she’s our pet. Not like she’s gonna care. And besides, even if she does mind, she’s just gonna have to get used to our ‘amorous activities’ if she’s gonna live here.” Taking Octavia’s deepening red hue as a sign of success, Vinyl pressed the issue. “I mean, for Luna’s sake, we roll around the place like a pair of school fillies, groping and touching and kissing and—”
“That’s enough, Vinyl!” Octavia shouted, clearly flustered.
Vinyl approached her lover in a low, predatory stance, stalking in close for the finishing blow. The glare off her glasses gave Octavia a perfect reflection of her own terrified expression. “Oh, I seriously disagree, Tavi. I think we’re just getting started.”
Octavia backed up, looking around desperately for an escape. “Vinyl! Really?! We have company!”
Vinyl growled playfully. “You obviously haven’t been paying attention, Tavi. Guess you’ll need some hooves-on teaching.” The DJ jumped her marefriend and tackled her to the floor. Wubsy looked on and cocked her head to the side with interest as Octavia’s shouts of protest dissolved into impassioned giggles and excited yelps.