• Published 9th Mar 2014
  • 30,841 Views, 5,844 Comments

The Changeling of the Guard - vdrake77



Not all changelings are fit for life in a hive. But that doesn't mean they're capable of life outside it, either. Join one such changeling as he tries to find his place in Equestria, and what the difference is between survival and living.

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Falling Into Step

"Oh mighty Queen, blessed light of the sun that shines upon us all, to behold your countenance is more than this drone deserves. Let me grovel before you and kiss the sacred ground that you deign to touch with your glorious hooves. We worms who burrow in the dirt are as mere dust mites in your untrammeled presence.”

For what seemed a hundredth time since I had begun, I felt a sharp jab in my side, and finally could take no more, giving Topaz an exasperated glance, halting only at her frozen smile.

“Idol Hooves, when you’re done catching your breath down there, please get up you are embarrassing me in front of the Princess.”

I had not even realized ponies could speak while their teeth were clenched so hard. How intriguing, I’d have to experiment with that. I looked up, and found the Princess eyeing me with surprise and concern… and I could feel that the love that had been flowing to all her subjects, while not gone, was taking a secondary role for the concern towards one, and… embarrassment? Oh Order, I was no poet, what had I been thinking? How dare I wax on so poorly before her regal ears?

“Pardon us, Princess, he’s a little overcome, and I think he might have a bit of pneumonia, that wheeze definitely sounded bad! He’s not really from here, so he’s got some weird ideas on how to-” Topaz babbled, and I nearly scowled at her implication that I was sickly.

Then I realized that I had not spoken a single word in Equish. I had prostrated myself before the Princess Celestia and buzzed to the heavens about her glory. Shamefaced at my rushed failing, I began anew, this time ensuring my word would be understood, and was abruptly cut off by Topaz giving my tail a firm yank.

A small smile graced those alabaster features, and I felt truly blessed to be the recipient of such grandeur. “Please, get up. I have never stood well with the idea that any pony should show obeisance by pressing their face into the dirt.”

I tried to react as a good drone should. She did not want me touching the soil she walked on, that was good, that was fine, I should lift myself off of it, but this damnable form had no wings! I could adjust it but not immediately, the effort would take a minute or two to adjust- but by then she had moved on, and I felt shamed that I had not been properly prepared. I had been unable to comply with any command or whim she had of me, I had failed-

“Come on sir, buck up, it’s alright.” A hoof clad in shining metal lifted me to my hooves with practiced ease, and my limbs seemed to regain some strength. “Happens all the time, somepony gets a little weak-kneed when the Princess is about. There’s a good lad.” The figure before me was draped in armor, matching the Princesses own royal wear, though in far greater quantity. Unlike many of the ponies around me, he stood straight and surely, with none of the jubilancy of the other ponies marring his features. The metal was polished to a shine that I could almost see myself in, and I found myself fascinated with the ensemble.

“I… thank you.” I managed, trying to regain my mental footing as easily as I’d taken to my hooves, and the struggle was immense. I needed to find Princess Celestia, I needed to repeat my praise so all here would understand-

“Lieutenant Shielded, pleasure to see you again.” Topaz interrupted too loudly, cutting off my line of thought as I stared at her.

The officer stared a moment as well before recognition set in. “Oh hey, you’re the Bug M- ah. Topaz Showers, right?”

Her blink was not quite a wince, but came close. “Yeah… yeah, that’s me. Just Topaz, please. How’d that powder work out?”

“Fantastically, in fact. Nearly wiped out the whole infestation in that barracks in under a week.” He gave a small chuckle, but it seemed forced. “Bed bugs are bad enough, but honestly, I swear the lice on the Griffish borders are ten times as aggressive as Equish ones.”

“About three times, in fact. And more resistant to soap.”

“Well. Glad to see your friend is up and about again. You alright, mister…?”

“Idol Hooves. I am… fine.”

He seemed slightly taken aback by that, though I could not tell why. “Well, you get that wheeze looked at. Honestly, sounded like you had bumblebees in your lungs, can’t be healthy. And on that I should take my leave and get back to the others. Mr. Hooves, Ms. Showers, good day.”

Topaz watched him go, looking a little annoyed. “Yeah, no second date there either.”

And I had clearly missed something. “Beg your pardon?”

“Oh, nothing. And you-“ She hissed the last, “were buzzing at Princess Celestia! What were you thinking!?”

I sighed, then quietly translated my ‘buzzing’ which had in truth been more desperate praise to a goddess than poetry, and my mood began to rise as Topaz’s eyes widened with my explanation. When she started giggling hysterically, I knew another moment of panic. “What?”

“Oh my…pffft, glorious hooves? Never thought you for a hoof-stallion.” She took a deep breath, calming herself and then pitching her voice so that others in the throng would not hear. “…And you called her a queen, not Princess, and even referred to yourself as a drone?! I thought you wanted to keep a low profile, not reveal yourself in Canterlot’s main square!”

“She very clearly already knows!” I protested, hurt by Topaz’s inability to see. “She is-“

“Not. Omniscient. Don’t make that mistake, Idol.”

I gave her a slight frown, displeased at her irreverence. She actually gave me a faint smile, meant to be reassuring, I believe, and I let the matter drop, for now.

“What is the purpose of… Lieutenant Shielded? There are enemies in Canterlot? That would harm it?”

“What? No, of course not. The duty of the Canterlot guard is to protect the citizens, keep the peace, and protect the princess. It’s sort of… you know, a public service. I mean, you said about their being warrior drones, they have to do patrolling from time to time-”

“No, they generally sleep unless a threat is detected. They do not perform duties of regular drones.” My interest was piqued, however, and I looked at the guardsponies, armor glinting in the light of the sun I had watched the Princess herself raise. “Protect the Princess? Public service…?” I found myself quite liking the effect, and realized that I was having difficulties distinguishing one guard from another. So caught up was I, that I realized with a start that I had been ignoring Topaz’s response to my musings.

“-and sometimes things do happen in Canterlot that require them to put their lives on the line for the sake of the citizens, so… yeah. It’s highly respected, but not everyone is eligible and a lot of ponies aren’t willing to give up so much freedom.”

“Fascinating…” I mumbled, looking around. Why, they had been stationed all over the square in patches, and I was only noticing them now that I truly looked. The armor provided a false mane and covered a large portion of the body. This made sense, I realized, given that ponies would be incapable of growing the thicker shells of warrior drones. It was very pleasing to me, I found. “I am going to have a look around. There is… much emotion in the air.” I admitted, carefully siphoning it off. I wondered briefly if I would be capable of dunking myself in that river of emotion, or if I would be swept away by it. I decided not to find out.

“Go for it. I’m going to go grab some caramel apples. Want one?”

“A what apple?”

“Oh you’re going to looooove this. Don’t be afraid to spend a few bits, have some fun.” She smirked, trotting off. I took that as my cue to wander about.

I found myself circling a group of guards. It was quite interesting, watching them interact with the population. Many held stolidly neutral expressions, but several held smiles and chatted amiably with the community, but for the most part… the community paid them little mind. It was as if they were part of the scenery, a living extension of Canterlot itself. I wondered how this subset of pony formed. Were they, like my kind, raised as foals for the task? I could not tell, and decided I would ask Topaz later.

Tearing my attention from them was difficult, but manageable. There were still other things to witness, and ponies involved in some of the gaming seemed excellent sources for cheer and desire. I saw one filly win a stuffed pegasus that looked remarkably similar to the one I had met when I dropped my cup, and I scowled at the toy, knowing instantly the feeling was foolish.

I found one tent where one had to manipulate a ring without touching a strangely curled metal pole. This was easy, and I did it several times before being asked to stop, receiving another inedible waterfowl for my ‘efforts’. As I slipped it into a saddlebag I noted that it too had a domed head-covering similar to that pegasus, and decided I would let Topaz have her own waterfowl back, the idea of chewing on this one much more satisfying. There was a book signing, also apparently with a similar theme, but I had no interest in such a thing.

There were many other tents, and I decided to walk through them all. Many were games of chance, one pony offered to read my hoof, which I found ludicrous as I had never written on my hoof and never will; there is no possible way the writing will not get smudged, and having somepony who makes it their job to read such things is proof that it is a wasted effort. Another offered to guess my weight, and I was startled with how wrong they were, as I assume they were as well. Oddly I received another prize for this, and I resolved to give the enormous stuffed butterfly to Topaz. She would doubtless find it amusing.

There was one small tent at the far corner of the square, somewhat apart from everything else. As I approached, I could hear shouting, and I assumed it was another pony claiming a game was ‘rigged’. Still, I had decided to see everything, and approached the tent, only to be disappointed as it turned out similar to the ‘book-signing’ across the field.

“-You two slackers haven’t gotten even a single signature, not one pony interested! Honestly, how the buck are you supposed to win someone over with pamphlets and paperwork, in my day-“

“Sir, with all due respect, it’s a fair, not many ponies are really thinking about joining today, it’s really more of a formality-“

The grizzled stallion spun, seeing me for the first time. “YOU!” He barked. “You want order in your life!?”

I blinked, startled to have been involved in this conversation so quickly. “…Yes?”

“Want three hots and a cot!?”

“Well, yes…” Three hot meals sounded very reasonable, I didn’t quite understand the point of asking. Who wouldn’t want that?

“Want to serve your country!?”

“Yes.” I stated, more interested. If this was a guessing game, I was clearly doing well.

“Are you willing to stand for the folk of Equestria at a moment’s notice, waiting for the first provocation to the safety of her citizens!?”

“Yes!” I stated more firmly, finding myself pleased at how straightforward this conversation was going. I liked this stallion, he was making this all very simple.

“ARE YOU WILLING TO FIGHT AND DIE TO PROTECT HER MAJESTY, PRINCESS CELESTIA, MAY THE LIGHT SHINE FOREVER ON HER!?”

“YES!” I practically shouted back at him, not entirely sure why we were shouting but understanding that perhaps he was a little deaf.

“SIGN HERE.” He practically threw a clipboard at me, and I did so, startled. “WELCOME TO THE ROYAL EQUESTRIAN GUARD. YOU START YOUR TRAINING AT THE CASTLE ON MONDAY AT DAWN. DISMISSED, SOLDIER.”

I staggered out of the room, stunned and amazed, barely hearing the words behind me.

“Sir, you can’t just-!”

“-not an authorized form of recruitment, the guard can’t just-“


Topaz found me wandering about as I tried to fully process what just happened. That had been… sudden! It had been intense, and I had been firmly ordered what to do, where to do it, and exactly when! It was incredible! I was still trying to comprehend it as I handed Topaz the butterfly I’d won.

“Awww, it’s adorable~! I mean, it should really have a proboscis, not a mouth like this, but still it’s very cute. Thank you, Idol. Anything else interesting happen?”

“I won a…. duck… and… did not have my hoof read…”

Uncertainly, she nodded as if to urge me on. “Sounds… like… fun?” She got into her pack and began to retrieve something of her own.

“…I think I just joined the royal guard?” I offered, not entirely sure that was what just happened but feeling rather confident of it.

The saddlebag rolled off Topaz’s side as she spun, hitting the ground.

“…you WHAT!?”

Author's Note:

Hey guys, another new chapter up. Been toying around with something else new that many of you may not have noticed.

http://out-of-idol-curiosity.tumblr.com/

A little ask blog for Idol, so far it's mostly been non-canon and strictly for fun, but a few really good comments and questions will be brought up by Idol or Topaz later in the story. Again, comment if you got 'em!

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