Darkness was everything I could see. Scared about my current blindness, I made the first mistake of many, by which I mean shooting straight up and hitting my head on something, resulting in me assuming a sitting position while my head pulsed with pain. Great, just great. My first act of the day is to hurt myself, of course it is, just another day in my life.
With these thoughts in mind, I now wanted to commit an act that was hopefully not going to end in great pain, and decided to do something against the darkness. Namely, I opened my eyes.
What I saw was not what I expected: Instead of my room in all its chaotic glory, I got to stare at a tree. A tree that, if my knowledge of trees is to be trusted, had seen better days: It, or at least the small part of it I can currently see, was black, scorched and burned to the point where I couldn't even see if the bark was still on it, with a claw mark on it that was... uncomfortably big.
Note to self: Whatever made this mark is nothing I want to encounter.
After this example of my truly amazing judgement, I decide that I should expand my horizons and look around a bit. By which I mean sitting on my ass and turning my head a bit. Turns out I was in what I was able to identify as a forest, which was far less surprising because that's where trees normally reside. Who knew? At least it's not my first time waking up naked in the woods, likely miles away from home, given that's the kind of loving family I had, so I knew not to panic immediately.
With a groan, I looked down at my body's state of undress. Lo and behold, this day was the gift that kept giving when it came to surprises. I blinked. I blinked again. Honestly, I would have screamed like the little bitch I am if it weren't for the fact that, eyes aside, I was frozen in a state of disbelief. It appeared I was related to that tree over there: I was black. Not that there's anything wrong with being black, mind you, it was just really strange to wake up with another ethnicity. Then again, I also didn't have hands, so a different ethnicity was likely not even the half of it.
Oh. Oh no.
Now my body finally allowed my to scream, and scream I did. Well, it was more of an irritated buzzing than anything else, which is not much more pleasant to hear or do, especially if it means that you can't speak. I'll just gonna consider this a good thing for now, because otherwise everything in a decent radius would have heard a slew of curses that would make a sailor proud and not a lot of people talk to me anyway. Also, it was not as loud, which, given that there might be a load of predators around, was clearly on the blessing side of things on the blessing/curse scale. After taking a deep breath using a technique I may or may not have copied from a well-know character, I calmed down a bit.
So... a Changeling, huh?
Getting a better look at myself was unnecessary, but I did so anyway. Holes were a given. I could buzz my wings if I concentrated on it, so that was good too. I had a horn, and now that I'm not that out of it, I realized already had its entrance when I hit my head. Ouch. I was easily able to confirm my fangs with my tongue. Now, the final criteria I had to check for basic Changeling abilities would be the shapeshifting capability, but, untrained as I was, there was no reason I could possibly manage t-*FWOOOSH*
Neeeeeeevermind then, it appeared that I am a natural at that, for whatever that's worth. Looking at my changed appendage, I...
Minutes passed. Minutes where I could only look at my hand. Yes, you got that right. HAND. I changed into a human. Not me, at least not as far as I could tell, given that this body had bigger hands than I used to have, but a human nonetheless. My eyes shot wide open as the change reverted and I was back to my buggy self.
I... can change just like that?
As everyone who suddenly found a lot of abuseable power in his... relevant appendages, I suddenly had a big smile on my face. Dire situation where I will probably never see my family again, will probably be executed in a foreign prison and never being in the embrace of another human being ever again or not, I could do things now! Like an excited child I was unable to sit still.
Ok, ok, what do I do first?
After a look at my hole-riddled legs, the answer was clear as day.
First, I'll stop looking like cheese!
And with a flash of green fire, it became so. Excited, I got up and tried to walk around... Only to realize moments later that I didn't know how to properly execute quadrupedal movement and promptly fall on my bugbutt™. Grumpy, I tried again. Over and over, until I was tired of bashing my face in. I angrily buzzed my wings, thinking about how else I could possibly move from my location.
"Hmm... How can I move other than using my fe-I mean hooves", I wondered, with my wings having calmed do-
Oh yeah, Changeling.
Flying was very complicated though, so I really didn't bet on it to work. So I tried to fly... and I did.
What? I can shapechange and fly, but I can't goddamn walk? You've got to be kidding me!
Makes one wonder, was flying simply more instinctual than walking to a Changeling? I just assumed it was, because that way I had an explanation, and I prefered that to having no clue at all.
Wait, if I can do that on instinct...
Let me spare you the details for the first two and cut straight to the point: Minor energy bolts and telekinesis were, after a bit of practice, a huge success. Well, telekinesis was more of a pebble success, one with multiple pebbles at the same time even, but you get my point. Now, here is the interesting part though: A success were, to my utter surprise, portals. They weren't color coded like they were in Portal, sadly, but apparently you extend your magic to two surfaces until you coat two areas of nearly equal sizes and then connect them, thus gaining a 'shortcut' of sorts. After a bit of experimentation with hoof-sized portals, I came to the following conclusions:
1. You can 'bend' your portals a bit, to the point where I could hae them warp around a tree branch. This does not warp whatever goes through.
2. You don't need perfectly flat surfaces, evident due to my ability to project them on bark. There is a limit of a few centimetres tolerance, but I can't tell exactly how much it is.
3. You don't need to see the surfaces, but you need to have a clue where they are and if they are there. It appears that Changeling-magic is incredibly fast to confirm if there is a suitable surface and even kinda allows you to take the next best fitting area if your original target is denied. It's hard to explain if you haven't experienced it personally, but it's some kind of... pull.
My final two tries were goo-spitting, on which I found myself to be an incredible aim, and feeding.
...For which would be an incredible time, because I was hungry. And when I say hungry, I mean I could eat a horse!
Yes, I mean that.
After hours, way after I lost the energy to maintain the transformation that kept my legs solid, salvation came in the form of two voices. Part of me wanted to object to consuming emotions (and their owners, depending on how things work out, I have fangs after all), but I felt like I was dying, for which the blame is totally not on me overextending myself, and being the egoist I was I'd rather it be them than me.
"You really should get that idea out of your head, Lyra. Humans don't exist, and even the most powerful Unicorn can't change that!"
I tensed up.
That couldn't be good. That meant I was close to the Elements, which in turn means I am close to things that won't just accept their place in the food chain and instead fight back.
"The proof is there! Why would our tools have such handles if they were designed for hooves? You can't deny the facts, Bonny."
And of course Bon Bon is there too. Of course my first encounter with the enemy would be with a monster hunter.
'Screw my life!' Is what I would have said if...
If there wouldn't have been the fact that when they got closer, I could feel them. I could feel them getting closer to my location. Could feel them pulsating with a strange energy.
"Well what if our tools originated from Diamond Dogs? What then? Then you chased that dream for nothing!" The voice belonging to Bon Bon told her... partner?
No... What Bon Bon felt was love, that I was sure of... somehow. Lyra, on the other hand did not display it love in any significant amount, rather... Frustration? Sadness?
"Even if that might be the case", Lyra said, her... everything dripping with sadness, from my point of view. "I just want to believe, you know? Even if they aren't real, it's something that gives me hope, you know? Meeting those that we can thank for our wrenches and doorknobs one day... it's something to wake up for, and..."
They set down on a bench on the opposite side of the bush currently giving me cover. Lyra talked and talked and talked her heart out. After her first few sentences I just kinda zoned her voice out. After all, I was excited, given I was able to finally confirm: I can feed! As the conversation changed, the emotions followed, and I consumed to the point where I couldn't taste what I actually ate. Interestingly enough, I was able to feed on both of them, apparently regardless of the actual emotion: On Lyra's sadness-turned-happiness and on Bon Bons...
"GROW UP ALREADY!" Shouted Bon Bon, my current unsuspecting victim.
Snapping back to reality from my happy food-time, I set my Changeling-sense on Bon Bon... and ho boy, she was angry. Now that I thought about it... yeah, she actually endured Lyra going on and on about humans. I felt kinda bad for both of them, really. Not enough to not feed on them, but I felt bad for them.
Not gonna lie, I'm an emotion-glutton, this stuff is the shit!
Now I fed on anger, a truly negative emotion, and... yeah, love is better, but it's actually ok. Not as filling, but it works and tastes rather spicy, which I can appreciate. I expected me vomiting or some such, but none of the like happened.
With Bon Bons love now in my belly, she gives Lyra a verbal beat down, now lacking the tolerance to put up with her. Not gonna lie, that was probably my fault for nearly exclusively trying to gulp down her love, but hey, I didn't know how this would end!
I may have expected it though... I had to admit to myself.
It was sad when the Unicorn ran away in tears, her sadness taking over immediately and probably overriding her ability to talk it out with her 'friend'. Part of me felt I had to make this up somehow, so I decided to do what I do best: Consuming emotions, apparently. When Bon Bons anger faded, her love reared its head, and so did her sadness. Now the Earth Pony started crying too. It appears I'm quite the heartbreaker! Get it, because I broke their rela-... nevermind.
"Why did I do that? What came over me? I had everything planned: I was gonna tell her at the Summer Sun millenia anniversary, I had a table booked and everything!"
Ok, ok, wait, hold on. Millenia? So does this mean Nightmare Moons return hadn't happened yet? I nearly hadn't felt that the mare ran after her crush, it didn't matter. What mattered was that the invasion didn't happen yet. Which means that if a new pony were to appear, they wouldn't immediately suspect something was up. I had a smile on my face which I would consider happy and others would call disturbing, with the fangs not being the main factor why. I imagined a Unicorn. Time Turner's statue, Night Light's hair and tail, Luna's eyes and Moondancer's color. It didn't have to look good, it only had to work.
I looked down on me, and I saw that it was good!... Ok, I might be a bit of a megalomanic when it comes to shapeshifting, but oh well, I'm not perfect, I'll be the first to admit that.
With a goal in mind, I decided to set foot out of Whitetail Woods... Only to remember that I was unable to walk and fall on my ass.
I sighed. It appeared I had a painful training session ahead of me...