The pony wolfed down the sandwich, she was barely chewing and nearly choked a few times. Changelings could eat regular foods as well, but they were flavorless to them, just like air. The sweet aroma and delightful bouquet of flavor that emotions were could not match anything Chip knew thus far. It took great self-control from his side to not lunge at the pony who started feeling more positive emotions all of a sudden – the bright and delicate smell of hope and the chunky aroma of gratitude hit him with the force of a tornado, nearly clouding his vision. Courtesy of the weak link he still had with the hive mind, his mouth began to water and horn started tingling with magic.
“No,” he said in his mind, “not now. Not this one.”
The mare on the floor was eyeing Chip with hesitation, unable to tell what the changeling was struggling against.
“Who… Who are you?” she said in a feeble, but soft voice.
The sound managed to avert Chip’s attention from the overpowering hunger he felt. Communication. The mare tried to talk to him. He would talk to another pony that wasn’t a drone, or wasn’t his Queen!
“I am Chip,” he replied with enthusiasm, sitting down with a thump. The violent motion scared the mare a little, but she did not back away.
Chip’s face got brightened with a foalish smile, and his whole body was shaking with excitation. In a way, the changeling reminded the pony of her own foal… Waiting at home… For her mommy…
The changeling got puzzled by the sudden outburst of tears. If this is how ponies reacted to meeting somepony new, he did not know. The books spoke nothing of such behavior. Ponies are supposed to be crying when they are hurt, sad or depressed. The mare wasn’t exactly sad, but she wasn’t exactly happy either. The mix of flavors he felt made him uncomfortable – he felt he should… Do something. So he poked the pony with his hoof and said
“What is your name?”
Surprised, the mare stopped crying and turned her bloodshot eyes upwards.
“Night Star,” she sobbed. “My name is Night Star.”
Chip noted in his mind that poking ponies is a good remedy for crying
“Where are you from?” he asked excitedly.
The moon’s light crept into Chip’s cave, in which a tight voice muffling spell hid away the conversation between the changeling and Night Star. As time passed, the pony loosened up a bit; not only was she now answering questions, but also started asking some herself. This was probably the first instance of a dialog between the predatory changelings and a representative of ponykind, which usually would serve as prey.
Chip learned that the mare had a family of her own – a filly and a husband, both of which she loved very much. She even had an album with pretty pictures of them (an item Chip took for an odd, useless book). The changeling asked a lot of questions, most of which would concern how does feeling feel, or what does she think about thinking. The pony was utterly confused at those, but would not dare to disappoint or dismiss the queries – for one, the changeling was a lot larger than her, and she didn’t want to take risks of displeasing it. On the other hoof, something about the creature, a kind of pure and simple foalish fascination with the subject of existence, brought out her motherly instincts and habits – she would lecture him, tell him about life and use big words that would make the changeling’s eyes sparkle with glee. From time to time she even forgot she was being held against her will, all aching and miserable, probably at the end of her days.
Chip himself was extremely excited during the conversation – he constantly kept guessing what the mare would say, and failed each single time! He was so enchanted by the words that came out of her mouth that he totally didn’t feel the time pass. It became apparent that it was late when the mare started yawning and her head begun to sway a bit.
“Are you feeling alright?” asked Chip, cocking his head curiously.
“Yes…” replied the mare. “Just a bit… Tired… That’s all.” Star’s face broke in yet another wide yawn.
“Oh, tired? Well… Umm…” Chip searched for words, but his head was blank. Now what? He brought the mare here. He was supposed to deal with her. The way of “dealing with her” was clearly laid out in his collective memory…
Still, she was great at talking (something Chrysalis always refused to do, calling it a waste of time) and just doing what the hive mind constantly whispered him to do… Didn’t sit right with his spark self. He had to find a way to conceal her presence. Or even better, get her out of here, somewhere far away. Maybe even back home? A teleportation spell!
Without as much as a word, Chip dove into a stack of books he remembered had magic spells in them. He was certain one of them had a fairly simple relocation spell – something he didn’t care to test just yet, as there was no need to go outside of his home canyon.
Aha, and there it was. A bit out of shape, with the letters on its spine obscured and unreadable, but a book full of interesting incantations nonetheless. A quick magical versing later, Chip found the spell he was looking for – it required him to know the location he would transport to… which was a problem. He would need to actually leave the hive without anychangeling noticing, find a safe spot and return. With a deep sigh, he turned around.
“Okay, listen,” he said, showing the book, “I think you can’t stay here, although I’d like to keep you. You’re the first pony I’ve met and it was fun talking to you. But I think you have to go.”
The mare straightened up, looking sheepishly at the book.
“Ummm… Excuse me,” Night Star whispered, looking past the letters and at the changeling. “… I’m not a Unicorn. I can’t cast spells…”
“I noticed” said Chip, a hint of irritation in his voice. “I will be the one performing the spell. But there is a requirement here – I must know the place I want to take you to. To do that, I need to leave the cave, sneak out of the canyon and find a spot for you. You will need to keep quiet and hide yourself just in case somechangeling comes poking around in my things. That should not happen, but this book here,” spoke Chip, pointing to a criminal fiction story, “tells me that everybody is always watching. Now, just how do I leave this place undetected…”
“Umm…” started the pony, clearing her dry throat, “maybe… An invisibility spell?”
Chip’s eyes snapped to meet those of the captive’s. She was brilliant. Such a waste to let her go…
As the sun rose to shoo away the moon, Chip was vigorously appearing and disappearing from sight, forcing himself to perform the spell as many times as possible before having to go to his mandatory sessions with the queen. Night Star was sleeping under a pile of inconspicuously arranged blankets the changeling had.
The hope and expectations she had (which Chip feared would blow the mare’s cover) were utterly distracting to Chip’s hive instincts, so his body didn’t manage to completely vanish a single time – sometimes it would be reduced to a lone hind leg, be left headless or with the changeling’s organs visible underneath a transparent skin. He should be sleepy, or at least tired, but somewhere in his chest he felt a burning desire to keep going – it was a fantastic sensation, one that would probably allow him to carry mountains should such a need arise.
He finally felt the calling of Chrysalis, ready to squeeze whatever juices he had left in him with the shape shifting training. Before leaving the cave, Chip took a last look at the pile of blankets. He felt good about himself. His spark told him that.