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Night Star approached the mare that lay motionless on the ground. Whatever Chip did to her… No, whatever that large, black changeling mare made Chip do to her… It looked really severe. The victim didn’t even blink when the yellow pony waved a hoof in front of her eyes.
“Oh my…” whispered Chip’s friend. She felt sorry for the captive – the things that the changelings did to her were horrible, to say the least. With nothing else to do, Star pulled out a blanket and covered the apathetic mare. She then snuggled up to her, hoping to give out at least a little bit of “warmth” to her.
Involuntarily, Night Star took a nap. When she awoke, Chip was on his feet again, reading something. The pony that she had in her embrace had her eyes shut and the delicate moves of her sides suggested she was sleeping. As gingerly as the yellow equine could, she backed away and approached the changeling.
“I’m sorry,” he mumbled in a grumpy voice, flipping a page.
“You’re forgiven.” The mare nodded. “I can only imagine the torture you went through… If you want, you can share that… Burden… With me.”
The recap of that day’s events wasn’t as painful as Chip suspected it would be; he even felt some kind of relief. Tension gradually left his body and only the throbbing sensation in his head persisted. His carapace would heal before tomorrow, but the inside of his skull felt like it was full of “honey” – a liquid known for being sticky and moving quite slowly. At least Chip hoped that was a good analogy.
“Oh, and one more thing,” he took on a curious expression. “The Queen said something about learning how a mare can please a changeling in a way other than being… Eaten. Any idea what she could mean?”
Night Star’s face went from surprise, to frown to a full out blush in a matter of seconds.
“Umm…” she cleared her throat, “I thiiink you’re a bit too… Young to talk about those things.”
“Nonsense,” replied Chip, cocking his head. “I’m as mature as any changeling, if not more. What did the Queen mean? Tell me!”
His excitement made the yellow mare even more embarrassed. She scrambled for words – when a colt really loves a mare? When a colt and mare get together and…
“No,” she snapped, her face furiously red.
“Why? Tell me!” pleaded the changeling.
The budding quarrel was cut by a weak moan coming from under a blanket. The most recent prisoner was coming to.
Chip hid himself with the invisibility spell he managed to master recently. It was agreed that seeing the changeling might not be a good idea just yet. Night took the time to assure the colt that she won’t be angry with him once the situation is explained properly. When the green coated mare opened her eyes, the room was inhabited only by another pony.
“Hello there,” started Night Star. “Are you feeling all right?”
A barely noticeable nod would have to do for an answer.
“Are you hungry? Do you want something to drink?” continued Chip’s friend, uncovering some fungus and a water canteen from under a stack of trinkets. Night Star was told by Chip that changelings usually don’t take more food than they can eat on the spot, but him being special, he could take some spare rations on the account of growing and needing more calories. The truth was that the colt didn’t at all feel the need to eat more.
“It may not smell too nice, but it will get you up and running in no time,” explained the mare, feeding the pony on the ground. It was a hard process, as the victim had barely any strength to chew or swallow.
From his corner, Chip watched the two mares talk and eat – he had a great urge to meet the new pony and talk to her, but guilt and fear bogged him down. And a giant head ache on top of that. His spark mind was unusually quiet and only a faint static buzzing came from the hive collective. He tried to review the things he read about pony anatomy – assuming that they are similar in structure to changelings, the punishment he gave himself could have fractured his skull or something. Does that mean his brain would leak out? How will that affect his thinking? Will he be… Oooouch. To stop thinking was probably the best idea for now.
The new mare, going by the name of Dawn Hope, recovered a bit under the watchful and caring eye of Night Star. The thought of being in a changeling nest and, moreover, in the cave of her recent torturer scared her out of her mind, but the presence of another pony kept her senses more or less in their place. The mare she just met tried to convince her that the giant creature that drove her to the border where life and death shake hands was, in fact, a good friend and kind creature. And that he found a way to get them out of this wretched place.
“Dawn, I will now want you to stay calm.” The tone of Night’s voice was serious, but hesitant. “Whatever you do, remember I’m here, okay? And remember what I said – Chip isn’t going to hurt you. Okay?”
“… Why? No, don’t tell me… Don’t tell me it’s coming back?!” exclaimed Hope, her fur raising in terror.
“Dawn, dear, he was here all along. I told him to wait until you calmed down a little. Chip, you can come out now.”
Great ripples went through the silencing spell as the black colt materialized in the far side of the cave. Chip lowered his head and ears, trying not to look at the mares.
“Shhh, calm down, it’s okay, I’m here, ” chanted the yellow mare, hugging the terrified Dawn close to her. The darkness of the night descended upon the canyon, unaware of the terrible on going screams coming from below.
The moon had journeyed half-way across the sky when the green mare finally calmed down. Her eyes were still wide as she stared unblinkingly at the monster in the corner, but at least she didn’t scream. Or was not able to do so anymore. Chip was as motionless as a statue – every time he would shift or move, Dawn would attempt to dart away towards the exit. The tight embrace of a worried Night Star prevented that, but Chip didn’t want to provoke a dangerous situation either way. Everypony in the room was exhausted by the stalemate.
After some more hours, sleep finally swept its cloak around the ponies, just in time to miss the sun rising on the horizon. Wrapped in each other’s hooves, they looked more or less peaceful – their manes and coats were mangled and dirty, stained with rusty dots… But they lived. Chip could save them, eventually. Just not yet. He had to make sure the Queen would stop kidnapping ponies to make him practice. He had to ace every change and then drag the victims down, into his lair. The thought of again performing the tainting feeding ritual made him sick, but he had a goal larger than his own conscience. His plan was still salvageable.
As he quietly passed the mares to meet the Queen, he recapped the events he planned. First, stop the madness with kidnapping ponies. Then, during the next few months, or maybe even years, try and convince Chrysalis to leave the canyon (maybe as a form of field study?) and experience the beauty of the green grass and soothing wind. Then, perhaps, he could mention something about meeting other ponies. In their natural habitat. It was obvious his “mother” already met ponies – but she only knew them as prey. The other side of the equine coin was obscured from her view and Chip vowed to help her flip that “bit”. Finally, when she would understand all the things she believed in thus far were far removed from reality, maybe they could visit Equestria together – meet new fascinating ponies, learn their ways… Make friends. Don’t hurt anypony anymore. Be happy. Together... Because he really loved his mom.
This time, the mare the Queen introduced to him was totally different. More bulky, more feisty, less crying. Her blue coat and short, black mane were rugged and Chip was surprised to see one of his brothers lying unconscious on the floor.
“Chip,” said the Queen from her throne, “today you will be practicing something a bit different. So far, you have copied only mares – weak, timid creatures. Today, you will become a real colt, my student.”
Colt? Wait, a colt? A male pony? He would get to meet a colt! He surely HAD to ace this transformation. And get her… err, him, out of the Queen’s grasp.