• Published 9th Aug 2014
  • 13,205 Views, 239 Comments

Changeling: The Movie - Obselescence



"Dear Princess Celestia, as your (former) most faithful student, I feel I have to warn you that this is probably a trap. Chrysalis cannot possibly be serious about this. Why would anyone, much less her, want to shoot a documentary on us?"

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Take Two

“And remember!” said Chrysalis, landing neatly on the meadow-grass. “You are not to feed on any of the ponies while you are in Equestria.”

“We remember, your Highness,” said a drone, crashing with somewhat less neatness. “And if we are very, very hungry, we...?”

“Do it when she isn’t looking,” said Chrysalis. “As I told you when we left.”

She allowed herself to enjoy the sundry pleasures of the overworld while she waited for the rest of her minions to catch up. The cool breeze against her face felt almost lovely, as did the sunlight. Not so much the sunlight, actually—she rather preferred cool and damp—but it wasn’t cooking her in her shell.

So that was nice.

“And the ponies get this always, every day,” she mused. “You know, that actually makes me angry.”

The drone straightened. “Would you like me to feel angry in your stead, Highness?”

“No, no, I think I can manage by myself.” She patted him on the head. “But the offer is appreciated.”

The rest of the band arrived shortly thereafter and worked itself into formation. A half-dozen each of workers and drones, plus the camera. It was an unusually large cadre of changelings to make it past the Equestrian border, but these were special diplomatic circumstances. Rumblings of war had made it easy enough to secure those, as ponies understood the concept of casualties and changelings merely understood casual threats.

“Is the camera on?” she asked, polishing a rough spot on her shell. “I want everything on film. Everything.” She stopped and thought a moment about what she’d just said. “Save for anything that embarrasses me personally.”

The camera nodded. “Active, your Highness.” A light film of green fell over his eyes and he stood rigid, unblinking. “Recording at your command.”

“Excellent,” said Chrysalis. She coughed to clear the slime from her throat. “Begin as we walk.”

It was a truly historic time for changelings and ponies both. The first triumphant steps into Ponyville were caught forever on camera—as were the horrified faces of nearby ponies. That was good—perfect, even. It was a strong opening. Attention-grabbing. Generations of changelings would remember it for weeks.

“The squalid and ugly hive of the average pony,” she told the camera, to a soundtrack of shrieks, gasps, and general cries of terror. She knocked a fleeing pony aside before it could get into the shot. “Look well upon it, minions, for though they may seem alien and strange, I shall teach you of their ways, their culture, their...” she turned her voice down low, just in case, “vulnerabilities.”

“Their what now?” said a familiar voice. A screechy voice. A grating voice. Or—perhaps the biggest insult of all—Twilight Sparkle’s voice.

Chrysalis turned, putting on her biggest and least obviously fake smile. “Their vulnerabilities, Sparkle,” she said. “Obviously. Our documentary must be comprehensive in detail to be effective, and to leave out your kind’s weaknesses would be a criminal omission of important knowledge.”

“‘Important knowledge’ my left—” Twilight Sparkle paused. She opened her mouth and closed it again. Then, sadly, she opened it again. “All right, while I will admit that knowledge is, in fact, important, I absolutely don’t trust you.” She poked Chrysalis right in the thorax—for which she would later pay. “Remember that I’m here to keep an eye on you. No funny business.”

“Agreed,” said Chrysalis, brushing the hoof off. She turned to the drones. “Agreed, yes?”

“Agreed.” The drones nodded. “We shall not be funny at all.”

“Well, there you go,” said Chrysalis, wearing her most obviously smug grin. “We most certainly will not be funny while we’re here.” She waved over the rest of Ponyville, which was still panicking over something as small as a dozen-odd changelings and their magnificent queen. “Though, I admit, I find your fellow ponies hilarious.”

Twilight shot her an altogether venomous glare, but turned to deal with the mob first. “All right, everypony,” she shouted. “Calm down!”

Which did absolutely nothing. One pony tried to hide behind a pole. Another ran into said pole.

“Okay, that’s fine. We can do it that way if you want.” Twilight took a deep breath, horn aglow, and shouted again with the voice of a thousand Twilight Sparkles. “CALM DOWN!

And they calmed down.

“Come on, everypony,” said Twilight in the newly-formed silence. “I told you all they’d be here this morning. Remember? The changelings are coming to learn more about our culture and foster better relations? Princess Celestia is aware of it, and...” she coughed, “allowing it.” She looked around to see naught but confused faces. “Come on, at least one of you has to remember this.”

Blank stares. Unanimously.

“Did any of you even listen?”

“I have precisely the same problem, you know,” said Chrysalis, leaning in. The average pony, it seemed, wasn’t substantially more intelligent than a brick. Or a drone. Useful information, that. “Just the other day, I ordered the hive to move my throne, and they—”

“And that’s enough out of you,” said Twilight, pushing Chrysalis away. She walked over to the changelings and inspected the ranks. “Where’s your camera?” she asked. “How are you supposed to film your ‘documentary’ if you don’t even have a camera?”

Chrysalis sighed. “Camera.”

The camera stepped forward and gave a salute. “Recording for duty, your Highness!”

Twilight frowned. “That is not a camera.”

Chrysalis frowned back. And harder. “I fail to see how that is not a camera.”

Twilight’s horn lit again, and summoned from thin air a crude-looking box mounted on three spindly legs. “This,” she said, floating it over to Chrysalis, “is a camera. It records things for later review.”

“Which my drone does precisely,” said Chrysalis. “He remembers in exacting detail all that he sees and hears, and will eventually produce a number of pheromone sacs to recreate those experiences. For later review.”

A few ponies in the crowd gagged. Twilight appeared deliciously pale.

“As has become quite apparent,” Chrysalis told the camera, “ponies are at least as ignorant of us as we are of them.” She pointed to the ‘camera’ Twilight had summoned. “And far behind us in breeding viable cameras.”

“Okay, okay.” Twilight shuddered. “So it’s a camera. I mean, I think it’s a camera. It might fit the classical definition of a camera. Probably a camera. Can we please get a move on, then?”

“With pleasure, Supervisor,” said Chrysalis. “We are in your capable hooves.” She turned to her changeling squad.

A drone opened his mouth.

“We are not literally within her hooves.”

The drone closed his mouth.

Twilight placed a hoof to her chest and took a deep breath. “If you’ll just follow me now,” she said, her voice remarkably even. “I’ll introduce you to Ponyville.”

The streets of Ponyville were quaint and quiet, particularly now that everypony knew changelings were supposed to be wandering it. They eyed her and her workers with curious stares, and her workers eyed the ponies with predatory glares. There were minglings here and there as inattentive ponies bumped accidentally into changelings and changelings purposefully bumped into ponies. Standard displays of dominance. It kept the riffraff in check, at least.

Chrysalis, for her part, merely looked down upon the ponies with lazy disdain. Time enough for her to mock and insult their squalor later. Someday, she’d conquer this wretched little place, and then she could laugh at the burning embers of Ponyville—which she would do heartily—but, for now, everything was going according to plan.

“Unlike our tentative models for changeling hives,” Twilight rambled as they walked, “ponies live in discrete houses.” She waved at a pony selling flowers and other forms of garbage nearby. “We all have individual schedules to follow and important jobs to do. Some of us grow food, some of us make art, and so on. It all comes down to what that pony’s interests are and what their special talent is.”

“Ponies live in woefully inefficient and separate dwellings,” Chrysalis translated for the camera. “They spend their days muddling about in chaos as they try they to figure out their tasks without central direction.”

Although—and she would never admit this out loud—Ponyville didn’t seem to be all that much less efficient than her own hive. The ponies went about their tasks with just nearly as much hustle and bustle as she’d grown used to in the tunnels. If not a little more. Certainly there were fewer head-on collisions, and most ponies seemed to know what they were doing with themselves. She’d have to study the recordings later to see how they’d managed that. Perhaps the hive could do with a few more schedules and junk stands...

“We’re actually a fairly small village, in all honesty,” Twilight continued. “There are cities like Manehattan further north that—”

“Ponyville is an utterly insignificant hive and unworthy of particular notice,” said Chrysalis. “There are rich population centers further north that... Ah...” She motioned Twilight to continue.

“I’m going to ignore your commentary here,” said Twilight, between deep breaths, “because, petty as you are, I think there might actually be an opportunity for us to learn from each other here. You’re learning now about us, and I’m learning a little about you.” She scratched her chin thoughtfully. “We’ve never actually had a changeling’s perspective on anything before.”

“There now! You see, Sparkle?” said Chrysalis, laughing. “This is a mutually beneficial arrangement. For both of us! I believe you owe us now an apology for your prior suspicions.”

“Don’t push it,” said Twilight. “I’m still not completely convinced that this isn’t a trap somehow.”

“A trap...” Chrysalis stopped. “Oh, a trap!” She slapped her forehead, absent a drone to do it for her. “That’s actually a good idea. It should have been a trap.”

Twilight’s eyes grew dangerously narrow.

“Oh, don’t you start,” said Chrysalis. “It would have been an excellent trap.”

Moving on.” Twilight coughed. “Do you have any particular questions you’d like to ask? Anything that isn’t suspicious, maybe?”

“Questions, questions, questions...” Chrysalis called up five of her workers. “What were they, again? I know we had at least five.”

“I believe the first, your Highness,” a worker hissed, “was if ponies do indeed make slime.”

Twilight made no slime, but did make a face. “We absolutely do not produce slime.”

“Not usually,” said a passing-by pony. “But what about when we’re sick? I mean, I had the feather flu last week, and every time I blew my nose, there was just this massive flood of—”

“Okay, no, none of us will ever need to hear that,” said Twilight, pushing her away. “We absolutely, positively—one-hundred percent of the time—do not make slime.”

“Well, there you go,” said Chrysalis. “I’d always wondered.” She wasn’t entirely sure as to whether she believed Twilight on this one, but clearly this wasn’t a good subject to press on. She turned to another worker. “Next?”

“‘What do ponies eat?’ your Highness.”

“Oh, well, that’s easy!” said another mare. “We eat plants. You know, grass, trees, and houses. That sort of thing.”

“No, okay, that’s not correct, but thank you for trying,” said Twilight, smiling graciously as she shooed the pony off. “Actually, while ponies do eat plants—we’re herbivorous, actually—we don’t actually eat trees. Or the houses. Most of which aren’t plants.” She sighed. “I don’t even know where she got that idea. Honestly, some ponies...”

“Some ponies indeed,” Chrysalis muttered, glaring at the drones. “We understand now what ponies eat, I hope? And that it is neither love, bunnies, nor houses?”

“Y-yes, your Highness,” the drones stammered, shrinking backward. “We know now of our ignorance. No punishment is too great for our failure, so please do not spend too long thinking on one.”

Chrysalis sighed. “I do feel your pain, Sparkle.” Idiocy affected all things, it seemed. Not merely drones, workers, and most creatures that weren’t her, but ponies as well. Twilight Sparkle, limited and ugly as she was, seemed to be amongst the few who could recognize ignorance when she heard it. Which made her an ally, of sorts, in the war on poor conversation.

And a mortal enemy in every other regard, obviously. But still.

She wrapped a hoof around Twilight’s vulnerable and fleshy neck. “Why, if you should ever feel the desire to swap anecdotes about servile incompetence, I’d be more than happy to oblige.” She looked over to the drones, still cowering from her. “No, really. The stories I could tell you about the batch I birthed just last week. Why, the writhing alone...”

“I, uh, appreciate the gesture,” said Twilight, edging her neck away from the well-sharpened hoof. “I think that might actually be kind of you—really, I do—but... Well...”

Silence.

Awkward silence.

Increasingly awkward silence.

“...No?”

“Oh,” said Chrysalis. “I, uh... All right, then.” She coughed. “Ah, so, do ponies eat anything beyond tasteless plant matter?”

“As a matter of fact, we do!” said Twilight, looking fairly relieved. “We mostly eat plants, but ponies do enjoy dessert in moderation. Cakes, pies, fritters, strudels, puddings—”

“Houses?” a drone interrupted.

Superbly awkward silence.

“Camera,” said Chrysalis slowly. “Avert your eyes. I intend to slap this drone.”

“No slapping!” said Twilight, stepping between the two of them. She looked warily toward the drone. “Not that houses are a food either. I don’t understand why you’d even begin to think that.”

“It’s because they don’t think,” Chrysalis huffed. “That’s precisely the problem.”

“Well...” said Twilight, tapping her hoof on the ground. “Well, if changelings don’t actually understand what desserts are—or what food is in general—maybe the fix to that is to show them?” She grinned a big stupid grin. “Wait, that’s perfect! And low-risk!” Twilight took a few steps along the path and beckoned Chrysalis to follow. “Come on! I think you’ll like Sugarcube Corner.”

“Oh, well, if you insist,” said Chrysalis, coming along with her camera in tow. And, in a considerably lower voice, she added: “For your sake, I’d better.”

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