• Published 6th Mar 2014
  • 6,856 Views, 204 Comments

Cooking Roach - Bucking Nonsense

The story of Rochelle, a changeling in Canterlot, and how she ends up with a most unusual job...

  • ...

Recipe Two: Sweet Snacks

"So, what gave me away?"

As Celestia and Luna helped clean up the mess that Nuisance had made (they'd offered to help, and she wasn't about to turn down assistance from two alicorns), Rochelle had thought back to what the two had mentioned earlier: that they had deduced that she was a changeling quite some time ago. That brought up many questions, some simple... some less so.

Celestia chuckled as she wrung out a washcloth, and set about wiping off the hatchling's face, and said, "Well,nothing really gave you away: shortly after the invasion, I searched the royal archives for a spell that can be used to locate creatures of varying species in Equestria. It's useful for when a census needs to be taken, as it allows us to determine how many minotaurs, griffins, and various other creatures are within our borders, as well as how many ponies. I wished to determine where the swarm had ended up, and if there were any changelings still in Equestria, and I was shocked, simply shocked, to find out just how many were."

Rochelle, washing the dishes, was surprised to hear that. There were changelings other than herself in Equestria? Well, she'd heard of a few changelings, maybe five or so, other than herself, but from how it sounded, there were a lot more...

Luna gave a chuckle herself, seeing Rochelle's expression, and, while she mopped up the floor, said, "There were fifty changelings still in Canterlot alone, and another two hundred scattered across Equestria. Given what had just transpired, many of them decided to act as you did: live quietly, as far under the radar as possible. A few, however, decided to go the other way, and have managed to accomplish remarkable feats in service to Equestria. You've probably read about them in the newspapers by now."

Nodding, Rochelle admitted, "Yeah, I have. There wasn't anybuggy that I really knew from the hive, and I had too much on my plate already to go getting tangled up in their messes. Taking care of a baby can be a full-time job, especially this one." Nuisance giggled cheerfully, to which Rochelle responded, with a sweet voice, "Oh yes, I'm talking about you, you little trouble-maker." The griffin giggled even louder.

The two princesses chuckled, and after a moment, Celestia said, "Given that we knew that there were changelings in the city, and within our borders, the question remained, what should be done? While there are some who would argue that the best course of action would be to round them up and deport them, we had to wonder, just how many of them might have been here in Equestria before the invasion, living peacefully, and how many others had chosen to do the same afterwards. So instead of taking such an extreme and heavy-hooved action, we decided to keep each changeling under observation. If they began to act in a manner that made them a threat to the ponies around them, such troublemakers were collected and disciplined in a manner befitting their crimes. The ones who were living peacefully were left to their own devices. Those that seemed to be struggling with adjusting to life here would be approached by a representative who would give them the help that they needed, so that they could continue living in peace with others."

Rochelle remembered her meeting with the old gray mare earlier today. Pulling the card from behind her ear, she asked, "I don't suppose that this would be from one of those representatives?"

Celestia read the card, then nodded. "Indeed. I would recommend paying that address a visit in your free time, especially if you'd like to meet with your fellow changelings here in the city."

Rochelle nodded, and tucked the card back behind her ear. After a moment's thought, she asked, "And Candy Floss, she's one of the ponies that was observing me?" Since Candy was the only one that the changeling had told that she was going to compete in the pepper eating contest today, it would make sense that the pegasus was one of her 'handlers'...

"We did approach her for that purpose," Luna admitted, tactfully. "We were surprised to learn that she had already deduced on her own that you were a changeling. More importantly, perhaps, she had already spent considerable time observing your actions, as well as giving Nuisance a medical checkup whenever left in your her for longer than a few minutes. While she felt that you would never intentionally harm the little one, she did want to make certain that she remained healthy and happy while in your care."

Rochelle could appreciate that. The changeling had almost no experience regarding the rearing of children, prior to her 'adoption' of Nuisance a year ago. In the first three weeks alone, she'd had to bug Candy almost daily about what needed to be done regarding even simple things like feeding and the proper use of diapers. The pegasus had taken all of this in stride, and with good cheer. Candy had seemed to think it was great that Rochelle was so worried about Nuisance's well being...

Celestia laughed merrily, and stated, "Half a year ago, when we approached her with our concerns about you raising the child, Candy had pulled out a thick stack of documents, which, upon examination, turned out to be her assessment of your effectiveness in taking care of the little one. She felt that, in all honesty, it would be far more traumatic to Nuisance to remove her from your care than it would be to let her stay with you. Given that Candy Floss is only a year away from completing her dual majors in Child Psychology and Pediatric Medicine, we couldn't help but agree with her assessment."

Rochelle giggled at that. "Yeah. I was surprised to find out she was a medical student, myself. Given that her cutie mark is a stick of cotton candy, I was stunned to find that she was planning on becoming a pediatrician." As she said that, she blushed a little with pride. Candy thought that Rochelle was doing a great job as a parent: while the pegasus had said that more than once, she'd just thought the pegasus was just trying to make her feel better. Having heard that Candy had told the princesses flat out that Rochelle was the best bug for the job was just...

"So," Luna said, nodding, "We decided to leave her right where she was, at least for the time being. Candy Floss agreed to keep an eye on you, and let us know if you had any trouble. She did mention to us that you were going to be competing in that contest earlier today, so we did ask one of our representatives to meet you there, in case there were any problems due to your species."

Nodding, the changeling said, "I thought as much. Well, it's nice to know that there's been someone watching over me, but... I get the feeling that there's a really, really important reason why you're here, and it's not just because you like the taste of my cooking."

The mess now thoroughly cleaned, and the dishes done, the four returned to the kitchen table. Celestia nodded, and said, "Well, as good as your cooking is, you are correct. There is something that we wished to speak with you about. Something that you might find very interesting."

Before Rochelle could asked, Nuisance started making a racket. Checking a clock on her wall, the changeling realized what the problem was. "Oh, right," she said, "Two o'clock. It's snuggle time. Could you hold her while I get dressed?"

Luna nodded, and took hold of the little griffin, while Celestia, an eyebrow raised, asked, "Dressed?"

Walking over to her closet, Rochelle said, "Well, as you've probably noticed, I'm not what you'd call cute and cuddly, and I'm definitely not fluffy. So, when it's snuggle time..."

Pulling out a costume, she put the fluffy garment with a single, well practiced motion, then zipped up. "...I put on something a little bit easier to hug."

Both Celestia and Luna burst out laughing at the sight: how often do you get to see a changeling wearing a fluffy pink bunny costume. Nuisance, on the other hoof, launched herself from Luna's grip, and flew over to Rochelle, hugging her while chirping happily. Rochelle hugged the little chick back, and, after the laughter died down, said, "Alright, so you had something important to talk to me about. What's up?"

Wiping tears of mirth from her eyes, Celestia said, "Well, it has to do with your long term plans here in Equestria. As I've already mentioned, steps have been taken to help the changelings here in Equestria to adapt to life amongst ponies. There have, in fact, already been a few cases where changelings and ponies have intermarried. However, recent discoveries have revealed a problem."

Rochelle was a little... surprised to hear that. She would be the first to admit that she'd found a few ponies to be quite handsome, but marriage was a really, really big step, one she felt was probably years and years away. But what would this have to do with her?

Luna, her expression more serious, stated, "Ponies and changelings cannot have children together: the differences in biology between the two are simply too great." Her expression lightening somewhat, the princess said, "However, ways have been found around that. A recently rediscovered set of spells has revealed that it is possible to permanently transform a changeling into a pony. The spell is complex, and requires significant amounts of magical energy, but upon completion, it allows the happily married couple to have children. Shortly after the first successful use of this spell, we were inundated with requests from changelings across Equestria, and while a few of them did have a very special somepony, a great many others simply wished to be a pony for no other reason than because they felt that being a pony was infinitely better than being a changeling."

Chuckling, Celestia said, "There are a few who prefer to stay as a changeling, of course, but the vast majority feel that, if they are going to spend the rest of their lives in Equestria, they would much rather do so as Equestrians. So, my sister and I, as well as several other representatives, have been visiting changelings like you, who had remained in hiding across the nation, to let them know that the option now exists."

Rochelle was stunned to hear that: A spell exists that can transform a changeling into a pony? That was... incredible... unbelievable...

"Now," Celestia said, "There is a long line ahead of you, so it would be at least a year before you yourself would be able to undergo such a transition: the spell in question requires significant preparation, and can only be cast at certain times during the year, on a small handful of changelings at a time. However, that would grant you plenty of time to make the necessary adjustments in preparation for life afterwards. The reason we are here is to ask you if you would be interested."

Rochelle looked at the two alicorns in front of her. From their expressions, she could tell that they were completely serious. They were asking her, Rochelle, if she wanted to become a pony. As she cuddled the now sleeping Nuisance against her, she said, "That's a heck of a question to spring on somebuggy out of the blue. Could I have some time to think on it?"

Celestia chuckled, and said, "Certainly. Take all the time you need. We'll save you a spot in line."

Luna nodded in agreement, smiling. "We can understand why one would hesitate: it is a rather drastic change, and one that will affect you for the rest of your life. We'd be more concerned for you if you simply decided on impulse, rather than gave this the careful consideration it deserves."

After a moment, Rochelle nodded, and said, "When I've decided, I'll let you know."

With a radiant smile, Celestia said, "Wonderful. We'll have a coach come by tomorrow to pick you up, and we can talk more about this then." At Rochelle's confused expression, Celestia said, "Well, you did indicate that you wanted to meet the two ponies who wished to adopt Nuisance. We can take you to see them tomorrow, and you can make your judgement regarding whether or not they would be up to the job."

"Oh," Rochelle said. Between the mess Nuisance had made, and the series of stunning revelations, she had almost forgotten about that...

Luna placed a hoof upon the changeling shoulder and said, "There's no rush in any of this. If you decide you need more time to decide on anything, you'll have it. We... well, I understand that this is all a lot to think about."

Rochelle nodded, and said, "Thank you. Right, well, it's her nap time, so I'd better put her in her crib."

Celestia nodded in understanding, and said, "We'll see ourselves out. We'll stop by about noon tomorrow. If you're ready then, we'll take you to meet Silver Tongue and his wife. If not, we can reschedule."

After a few parting words, the two princesses left, leaving Rochelle along with Nuisance. Once the kit was in her crib, sleeping soundly, the changeling pulled a cookie from the jar she kept on the counter, and began chewing on one of the treats she normally reserved for the hatchling. As she examined the texture of the cookie with her tongue, and imagined how it would probably taste, Rochelle sat down at the table and thought...

...And thought...

...And thought...

As the two flew home, Celestia asked Luna, "What do you think she'll decide?"

Luna, smiling, answered the question with a question, asking, "About what? Giving the little one up for adoption, or about becoming a pony?"

Chuckling, Celestia answered, "Both."

Luna shrugged, and said, "About Nuisance? She will decide to do whatever is best for the child, whatever that may turn out to be. As for becoming a pony? Flip a coin. She could go either way. But like you said, we'll save her a spot in line: she could always say no today and change her mind tomorrow. That is her right."