• Published 9th Mar 2014
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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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Moonlighting

Princess Luna was... not what I expected. It should be reinforced that I recognize that I have no right to expect anything of the royalty and am in no way inferring that any of them should act according to my personal preference, I only mean to state that I was expecting something more... Celestia-like.

Ergo, I was not expecting to walk into a storm the very next day.

"Thou wilst explain thyself, sister! Thou knowest full well I have not conceived, and if the child was thine, claim her as such!"

"Luna, I've been trying to explain-"

"She even has thy pink coat from long ago!"

"Luna!"

The smaller blue alicorn flinched, but seemed to be trying to hold her ground. Still, all Princess Celestia needed was a moment. "Princess Cadance is not related to us by blood. She's... adopted. If she were mine by blood the world would know, I promise you that."

"...Truly?"

A hint of exasperation from the princess. I doubted any of the ponies could have even noticed it. "Of course, sister. There is so much to tell you about, and Cadance was going to be... a surprise."

"Well. I am indeed surprised." Luna admitted, looking more and more abashed as her righteous anger faltered. She gave a small cough that did not seem entirely forced. "...Why is she a niece, then...?"

"...You used to be pink?" Cadance queried, intrigued and far more amused than the situation called for. I admit, it was an odd thing to consider. Pink Celestia. Pinklestia. My brain seized at that, but only momentarily. I was growing used to the betrayal of my mind when odd ideas were introduced. Pony things, I decided. I was being corrupted. I wondered idly if stating the term 'Pinklestia' would be an act of disloyalty.

Maybe I could relay it to Topaz.

"More off-white than pink, I'm afraid. Pinkish? Regardless, Luna, I promise to explain later."

"Tis surprising, all the same." Luna murmured. "If she is not thine-... your daughter, then who? The sun and moon were wrested from our hooves several times during the long night. We would congratulate our foe on a battle well-fought."

Celestia smiled. "That would still be Cadance, Luna."

Now the truly pink princess blanched. "I didn't really-"

"Nonsense! You managed, however temporarily, to wrest control of the celestial bodies from... Nightmare Moon. Tis an accomplishment! My own special talent, and that of my sister, and you were able to snatch control. Twas a fine effort and a distraction that may have done much for the new Bearers."

"No, no no, I... I don't know anything about fighting, I didn't even know what I was doing-! I mean, my talents aren't-" Her desperate eyes fell upon me and I was dragged unwillingly into a discussion amongst goddesses. "Idol, tell her!"

"Truthfully, your majesty, I have heard love and war have similar rules."

"Hear hear!" Luna grinned. "Majesty? Thou art taken to grandness, we see."

"That's... that's just Idol. He's... got a much higher opinion of me than I deserve, I promise."

"Nonsense. We look forward to sparring in the future." Her countenance changed, becoming less certain.. "If... that is amenable?"

Cadance hesitated, but nodded slowly. "I... think I can find some time for a little training. I certainly don't think I was doing as well as you're implying."

"Nonsense! Thou art a gifted beginner. We shall make a warrior of you!"

I was perhaps the only one to catch Princess Celestia giving a fond sigh. As a true guard, I drew no attention to it, but allowed myself a moment to revel in the shared joy and camaraderie of those who fell under my watch.


Princess Luna's return was not without external strife, however. Certain individuals used the opportunity to cause trouble, because of course they did, and there were a few small protests calling for the 're-banishment of Nightmare Moon', which only seemed to further crush Princess Luna's spirits and confidence back to what she had been that first day.

A griffin had decided to commit theft in the market, having decided that her time spent arguing with a pony was at least worth some of his wares. Annoyingly, this seemed to be some grand griffish trading strategy; she could simply fly away and keep the items but didn't. Still, most businesses detested the practice and it was technically stealing, even if the stolen item was to be brought back and 're-negotiated'.

The guard, of course, did not belong in this transaction from the griffish perspective. From the guard perspective, we politely, if firmly, disagreed.

Cornering an angry griffin in an alleyway was hardly what most would consider to be a pleasant afternoon. Griffins, it should be noted, are made of sharp things. The beaks are like shears, the talons like spikes, and the even the claws on the rear paws are exceptionally... claw-like. I have heard them likened to knives but this seems an inaccurate connection; most pony knives are actually rather dull. Beyond that they lack the 'ripping' characteristics and I believe it to be an important feature.

Still, her 'negotiating tactic' for the guard was mostly to puff herself up and try to look intimidating. Which, to be fair, mostly worked... on those of us who recognized the potential threat of a griffin.

Bold, however, chose to flex right back at her, taking what I could only assume to be 'classical body-building stances'.

I face-hoofed. It seemed like the thing to do. Shows of physical prowess and intimidation were part of griffish courtship rituals. It was very likely this would only escalate matters- I was suddenly alarmed at a sharp 'ping' from Bold. I stared at the russet stallion as a further series of the pings occurred as he popped the rivets of his armor. How strong was this earth pony? Did he realize that he was damaging his own armor like this? The armorers would have a field day.

This sentiment was shared at least somewhat by the griffin, followed by waves of shock and intrigue.

Bold, misunderstanding entirely, relaxed. "Now, are you going to come quietly?"

"...wherever you take me." The griffin mumbled, dazed. I would have to explain what he had done. Later. For now, she could cool off in a cell and pay her fine. Perhaps we could nip this 'tactic' in the bud before it became commonplace.


It had been six days, almost seven and therefore this meeting was unavoidable.

I rapped a hoof on the granite block, then twice more in rapid succession. Then once more, and thrice. Silence greeted me.

I began to worry. Nightmare Moon's return had caused some chaos, true, but... my instructions had been explicit. But could one blame someone for fleeing during what some thought to be the end of the world?

I could, I found. "Nymph?"

"It's supposed to be three knocks then two!" Came an indignant cry.

"And you are not supposed to answer without the proper signal." I agreed, now somewhat cross. "If I am doing it wrong you aren't supposed to respond."

"You don't have any rhythm, it's not my fault." The gatherer protested, wriggling her way out of a hole that... honestly, I hadn't even seen. She sat in front of me, looking eager. "Is Nightmare Moon really back?! I heard she's pretty."

"I'm afraid you missed that. Princess Luna has returned to rule alongside the others, however. And I suppose one could say she is attractive."

"How's her wingspan?"

I sputtered. "Nymph!"

The young changeling grinned up at me. She was entirely too young to make such jokes, I decided. I couldn't understand how she learned such things; most of her interactions were with colts and fillies roughly her own age. Defeated, I offered her a crystal, which she traded out for one that was surprisingly still well lit.

"You are being careful with your playmates, I hope."

Nymph bounced in place, eager to relay her tales. "I'm imaginary. They want me to be a unicorn, I'm a unicorn, they want me to be a pegasus, I'm a pegasus! Most of the parents don't pay much attention so long as everyone's having fun."

Nymph was a sweet 'ling, I thought. She'd have done wonders as an infiltrator and gatherer. Practically self-sufficient, even at her age.

"And your new forms?" The Nymph had, by my count, something like two dozen. If anypony started noticing them, I had no doubt Canterlot would be in a frenzy to determine the source of all these apparent orphans. Thankfully, she discarded each set as soon as she got bored with them.

"Ooh, ooh, look at this one!" She turned into an orange filly with a blue mane. "Redshock!" She stated proudly.

"Except that you are not red." I pointed out.

She blinked, looking at her foreleg with consternation. "I feel red." She argued, defiant.

I sighed. It had been a trial to convince the nymph that I was not simply making up things, but usually she accepted my criticism. Sometimes it bothered her. I could hardly blame her. How did one truly explain that half of her friends were more visually complex than she knew?

It was an odd feeling, knowing that she should have been destroyed. It was a physical aberration of some sort. The Hive did not allow for such things. As a gatherer, she would be incapable of performing her duties; become a red version of a green mare and everypony would see you as an impostor within moments. Turning this flower-loving fun-seeking nymph into an excavator drone, where her disability would be irrelevant...? Unthinkable... but still preferable to her assured death.

Fleeing with her and bringing her to a changeling exile to care for and possibly teach her that color existed? Treasonous.

The Nurse had been a truly terrifying creature. An old changeling in any position was uncommon. Her 'losing' a young 'ling would have likely cost her more than her duty, but I was forbidden from revealing that to her last charge. It was not unheard of for the larvae to wander and get lost, needing their nursemaids to retrieve them from whatever peril they were in.

Escaping with one, however, went against everything we believed in. I could not fathom how she had managed the strength. I had not argued against her return, and the punishment she would assuredly endure. She had detested me, and truly I could not blame her. But I was the Nymph's only chance, and better the young than the old. If she could bear the shame of betrayal, I could carry the guilt over not telling her final charge of her fate.

"Nonetheless. I assure you that you are orange. Now yellow. Green. Pink. You are entirely aware that you are violet right now. Orange again. Red."

"Red," she confirmed, eyes closed. "Red. Red, red, red, red... red!" She changed back to green. Then red again, if a slightly different shade. "...Red?"

"Still red," I congratulated her. It was impossible for her to practice without me. It would have been so much easier to involve Topaz... I truly had no idea what I was doing here. She was already irreverent and behaved in strange ways. I could not imagine reintegrating her with the Hive.

She buzzed, quite pleased with herself. "Awesome!"

"Quite groovy," I assured her.

"You're ruining it!" She pointed a chitinous hoof at me, dropping her disguise. "Nopony says that anymore! It's an old pony thing!"

"Topaz does occasionally." I argued, though she was probably right. Apparently infiltrators were given lessons on up-to-date pony terminology in accordance with their age.

"You and Topaz are old!" She countered. Cut to the quick, I sank backwards with a hoof over my chest.

"I may not share my apples with a comment like that."

"Well, I have a chicken." She stated proudly. I gave her a look, and she deflated. "It was a pigeon but pigeons are good too! I only ate half of it. That's worth an apple or two."

"Then we shall eat and then practice a bit more." She looked up at me hopefully, awaiting more. I sighed. "And after that, I have more of those... books."

"You found Daring Do and the Marked Thief of Marapore!?" Her excitement shown like a beacon, and I sat up sternly.

"Contain yourself, Nymph!" She stiffened, then looked away, shamed. Damn it. "You must be careful. You are doing well for yourself but our emotions are a finite thing. It is not right for us to be wasteful."

Her agreement was respectful, if slightly sullen. "Yes, sir."

I would not tell her that revealing herself to others from the Hive might mean her death. It was my duty to protect her from that fate. She knew not to do it, and knew that she had been forbidden from returning to the hive. Not, however, exiled. Her Nurse was the highest authority she had ever had to recognize, and she had been ordered not to return and to heed my guidance... with caveats. Caveats I knew precious little about.

Apparently, secret orders were in our blood.

The moment dragged on and I huffed. "I also have the Cursed Chalice of King Cookracha."

Her eagerness returned, though she attempted to maintain her composure this time, quickly taking the books from me lest I change my mind and make her wait until after practice. "...Hey, doesn't this thing on the cover kind of look like you?"

"I am sure you are imagining things."

Author's Note:

Well folks, another chapter, some fresh art, and a new character.

https://derpibooru.org/1627946 By ToastyTop

And two pieces from Crazeguy!
Idol as a pone https://derpibooru.org/1651901
Idol as a 'ling https://derpibooru.org/1651887

I kinda like the contrast of putting them side by side. Anyone else?


As always, comments are an author's food pellets!

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