• Published 25th Apr 2012
  • 37,122 Views, 1,559 Comments

Flitter - Nyerguds

One changeling was already inside Canterlot... and he was as surprised as the ponies were.

  • ...

Chapter 1 - The Pony and the Changeling


Chapter One
The Pony and the Changeling

The atmosphere in Canterlot was a strange mix of nervousness and excitement. On one hoof, there was to be a royal wedding, which promised to be an event to remember for years. On the other hoof, the purple colour mixed into the sunlight was a constant reminder of the shield surrounding the city, and the threat it implied.

One pegasus pony, however, had decided not to bother with any of the excitement, and had dragged her husband along to the back of the mountain, where the shield touched the ground, to check it out up close.

"Look at that," Morning Rain said, smiling. "Can you believe one single unicorn is keeping that shield going?" She smiled at Swift Star. "Could you do something like that?"

Swift Star sighed. "Come on!" he said. "That's Shining Armor keeping that thing up! His mom is the best teleporter in all of Equestria, and his sister's not only Celestia's personal protégée, but also the bucking Element of Magic! Don't go comparing me to them! Makes a guy get horn envy, it does."

The mare laughed, and walked up to the shimmering purple barrier. "I wonder what that thing feels like," she said, holding out a mint green hoof.

"Really, dear?" Swift Star said. "I hear the guy's having a really hard time keeping it up as it is. The last thing he needs is some curious ponies going around and poking it."

Morning Rain snorted. "Horn envy, huh?" she asked, grinning.

Swift Star shot her a sharp look, but decided not to dignify that with an answer. "Come on, just leave it alone. I don't want to be responsible for letting through some kind of monster invasion."

"Aww. Do you feel uncomfortable with me poking a younger stallion's magic?" Morning Rain asked teasingly, as she pushed her hoof against the shield. Surprisingly, it went right through it.

"Hey! You gotta try this!" she said. "It feels tingly!"

The unicorn shook his head, but smiled. "All right, all right. But if the guards come and drag us away, don't say I didn't warn you."

He moved his hoof towards the shield, expecting it to react the same way it had with Morning Rain. Before he even reached it, however, purple lightning arced from the shield, burning black spots in his coat. He yelped in surprise and pulled back his hoof, his eyes wide in shock.

Morning Rain gasped. "Swift! Are you all right, dear?"

Swift Star nodded, slightly shaken. "I'm okay. It didn't hurt. It's just... freaky."

Morning Rain grabbed his hoof to look at the damage. As she watched, however, the black spots began to fade. Just a few seconds later they were gone.

"Woah," she said. "Why would it do that?"

Swift Star shook his head. "N-no idea," he said in a shaky voice. "M-maybe his magic conflicts with my own somehow?"

Morning Rain frowned, and shrugged with her wings. "Let's just go home."

When they turned around, however, they found themselves surrounded by half a dozen guardsponies who were giving them angry looks. "Citizens! Stay clear of the shield!" their captain barked. "If you wish to leave or enter the city, please do so through the designated checkpoints!"

Swift Star facehoofed, and threw his wife an annoyed look. "This is all your fault."

* * *

After more than half an hour, the two ponies were finally released from the guardhouse. The guardsponies had gone as far as fetching some of their neighbours to confirm their identities, to make absolutely sure they didn't slip in from outside; it had been a tedious and embarrassing ordeal. After bidding goodbye to their neighbours, who were luckily mostly amused by the whole thing, they decided to go out and grab a bite, before going home. There would be a city-wide party in the evening, and they were obviously going, but for now, they decided to enjoy the relative peace and quiet of the bustling city.

Donut Joe couldn't agree more. "Crazy business, that's for sure," he said with a laugh, while cleaning their table. "I'm kinda glad I'm not involved in all that; it's a frenzy. Apparently, they got the Ponyville Party doing the preparations."

"The bearers of the Elements?" Morning Rain said, smiling. "Oh, that's nice!"

Donut Joe nodded. "Pinkie Pie's a great cook, so they can't really go wrong there." He smiled. "And hey, ol' Donut Joe will probably get some late-night customers after it all dies down anyway."

Swift Star looked out the window. "Those mares do make a great team, don't they?"

"I dunno," Donut Joe said, frowning. "Last I heard, Twilight Sparkle ran out on them after accusing the bride of wanting to ruin her brother's life. I guess even the Element of Magic can be a sister-in-law from Tartarus."

Morning Rain frowned. "Oh dear. I do hope they make up. That would be a real downer at the wedding party."

"It sure would be," Donut Joe said. "Hey, you two have a son their age, don't you?"

Swift Star nodded. "Oh yes. He lives in Trotsborough. We haven't heard anything about him getting a marefriend yet, though."

Morning Rain smiled at him. "Well, if he does, let's hope he's a bit more decisive about it than you were."

Donut Joe raised an eyebrow. "This fellow left you hanging, ma'am?" he said with an amused smile.

Swift Star sighed. "It was a hard time. Didn't have a job, wasn't used to Canterlot, and things were a bit stressed between us as it were, so I just... didn't bring up marriage until all that was sorted out."

Morning Rain waved her front hooves dramatically in the air. "He left his poor pregnant girlfriend waiting!" she shouted, before nuzzling Swift Star's nose. "But it all turned out all right in the end, I guess."

"I bet you wouldn't have looked that good in a wedding dress before Blueprint was born, anyway," Swift Star said with a smile. He turned to Donut Joe. "And funnily enough, bringing a baby along when getting married is a lot more endearing to the relatives after he's born."

Donut Joe chuckled. "Learn something new about your customers every day. So, can I take your order?"

Morning Rain looked at the different donuts on the menu listing. "Raspberry jelly donut. No glazing, no sprinkles," she said.

Before Swift Star could order, however, they heard an odd rumbling. It sounded somewhat like thunder, only more... rhythmical. He frowned. "What's that sound?"

Donut Joe looked out the window, and gasped. "They were right! Something's attacking the shield!"

The two other ponies quickly joined him at the window, and saw black shapes bouncing off the top of the shield. Swift Star's pupils shrank to the size of pinpricks as he realized what those creatures were.

"We have to get out!" he yelled. "Quickly!" He ran out into the street, tugging his wife along with him.

The pair had only just left Donut Joe's when the sound of shattering glass filled the sky. Swift Star looked up and saw the shield splinter into a thousand pieces. Huge shards of solid magic crashed into the ground before they had a chance to dissolve. The black shapes hovered menacingly where the shield had been.

"By Celestia! It didn't hold!" Morning Rain yelled. She looked at Swift Star, disbelief in her eyes. "The shield didn't hold!"

Swift Star didn't respond. He was looking up, terrified. He knew those black shapes. He knew them all too well.

"They shouldn't be here," he said, looking at the mare in desperation. "They can't do this, it'll upset the whole balance!"

"Swift, honey? What do you mean? You know these creatures?"

"From my travels. They're changelings," Swift Star replied. "They survive by taking the appearance of a loved one and feeding on love they are given."

The mare frowned. "But, what did you mean with balan—"

"This is not the time for a lesson in creature culture!" Swift Star yelled at her. "They're just not supposed to do this, okay? Come on. The Princess and the Elements will deal with them. Let's just get home and wait this out."

Morning Rain nodded. "Right. Sorry."

Their run was a futile exercise. The changelings swarmed in from above, and spotted the runners easily. The two were surrounded within minutes. Swift Star stopped running as he saw more of them looming ahead. Morning Rain backed up against him, both ponies sitting on their haunches.

One of the black creatures approached the pair. Its eyes were steely blue orbs, staring at them with a cold menace. It grinned hungrily, revealing sharp fangs.

Swift Star bared his teeth. "You shouldn't be here!" he hissed.

The black creature didn't respond. It glanced at the others behind them, and gave a short command in a hissed language. One by one, they were engulfed in green flames.

As the green flames disappeared, half of them were transformed into copies of the female pegasus. The other half collectively blinked, and stared dumbfoundedly at the unicorn they had failed to copy. Morning Rain noticed the same thing, and gasped.

The apparent leader of the group looked at Swift Star, confusion in its eyes. He hissed at him, too, and waited for a reply. When it didn't come, he continued in Equestrian language. "You are of the Kind!" it said with an odd buzzing voice. "Why do you not follow the Swarm? The Queen commands us."

"What queen?!" the unicorn yelled. "You're deranged! You can't just ignore the Old Ways!"

He looked back as he heard a hoofstep behind him, and noticed Morning Rain had taken a step back. She stared at him with a bewildered look in her eyes.

"You... you're one of them?" she said. She looked pale.

"Morning Rain, please," Swift Star said. "It's not like that!"

The black creature tilted his head. "You must follow the Swarm!" it buzzed on, apparently completely unable to comprehend how Swift Star could not be on their side. "Restrain her!" it yelled. "What are you doing?"

Swift Star glared at the changeling, his normally orange eyes glowing with the venomous green of his magic. "I'm keeping a promise," he said. He swiftly turned around and bucked the creature into the others. Before they had time to react, he grabbed Morning Rain in his forehooves and flew straight up, ragged insect wings appearing out of nowhere as he did.

"You're not him! Who are you!?" Morning Rain yelled, terrified.

"Someone who loves you," Swift Star replied, as he flew into one of the windows of the high palace towers.

As soon as they were inside, Morning Rain kicked the not-Swift Star in the stomach, forcing him to let go. She rolled against a wall and looked at him. "Where is he?" she yelled, anger and desperation flashing over her face. "What have you done to Swift Star?!"

Not-Swift Star glanced out the window, and saw the changelings outside closing in quickly. "Now's not the time! We have to hide!"

Morning Rain shook her head. "No..." she said, softly. "You're not tricking me. Where is the real Swift Star?"

"Oh for Celestia's sake..." he said, looking around frantically. "We don't have time for this!" He grabbed the pegasus in a glow of green magic, and pulled her after him as he ran through the corridors.

"Stop that! Let me go!" Morning Rain shrieked at him. She tried to struggle out of the field with her wings, but quickly found them strapped against her body by his magic.

"Stop what? Saving you? Hell no!" he yelled back.

One of the changelings suddenly crashed through a window and slammed into him, causing the magical field around Morning Rain to disappear. She dropped to the ground in surprise. Watching Swift Star struggle with the black creature, she was unsure what to do; running from him hardly seemed like a good option, and she had too many questions that needed answering.

Angrily, Swift Star kicked the creature in the chest and scrambled back to all fours. "Come on!" he yelled at Morning Rain. After an unsure look at the black creature, she ran after him.

As they ran, more changelings burst through the glass windows. One of them grabbed Morning Rain in its own telekinetic glow. The unicorn-shaped changeling was not about to let that happen, though. He gritted his teeth, and with a flare from his horn he pulled her free. He summoned a shield of green flames around them to keep the creatures at bay. They could hear the shrieks of pain of the changelings that tried to get closer. As he put more effort into his magic, his horn seemed to burn away, revealing a black and curved one below it, exactly like those of the creatures that were attacking them.

Morning Rain gasped. "You really are like them!"

"I'm nothing like those idiots!" he yelled as he darted around a corner, the pegasus following closely behind them.

After a few twists and turns in the Palace's corridors, the two managed to lose the chasing swarm. Swift Star opened a door and motioned Morning Rain to get inside. After casting a final glance outside, he closed the door behind them and locked it, leaving the two alone in a large darkened room.

For a moment, the two just stood there, breathing hard from exhaustion. Neither of them seemed sure what to say. Finally, not-Swift Star broke the silence.

"So what if I am?" he whispered. "Does that really matter?"

"Of course it matters!" Morning Rain replied. She lowered her voice when she heard the buzzing of wings outside the door. "You're... you're not Swift Star."

The changeling gave her a sad smile, and folded his insect wings onto his back. "That's debatable. Sure, I'm not the pony you originally fell in love with. I can't deny that. But I think I've done quite a good job filling in for him."

"What did you do to him!?" she hissed, anger flaring through her voice.

"Nothing!" the changeling replied, his voice sounding tired. He sighed, and glanced at the door. "I tried to save him. And I failed."

Morning Rain swallowed, trying to hold back her tears. "And then... you took his place?"

"Such are the Old Ways," the changeling said, averting her gaze. "We take the place of lost loved ones."

Morning Rain walked towards him, and sat down. She shook his head in disbelief. "And you've been... him, for how long?"

"You don't understand!" he said, looking up at her. "Blueprint never met his real father. That foolish journey past the ravines? The one you were so mad about? He never made it back."

"But you did," the pegasus said, softly. She blinked, trying to grasp the implications of this revelation.

The changeling nodded. "It is what we do. I asked him, as the Old Ways dictate. Love is a powerful emotion. I would keep you happy, instead of heartbroken over a lover that left on a stupid adventure and never came back. The choice, to him, was obvious. He couldn't stand to make you unhappy, not if there was any other choice."

Morning Rain stared at the floor, and shook her head. "Twenty years. You've been lying to me for twenty years."

"I've kept you happy," the changeling said, looking away uncomfortably.

"With a lie!" she yelled. "How could you do that to me?!"

"What?" He turned back towards her and glared at her. "I've turned your silly crush for a stallion you really only barely knew into a life of happiness! What do you think would've happened if I hadn't? You were pregnant, and he was dead! I married you! I helped raise our son! And now you blame me for keeping a promise to the foolish stallion that left you behind in such a state? I promised him I'd take care of you. Both of you. I promised him I'd keep you happy! And that's what I did."

Morning Rain shook her head, tears welling up in her eyes. "But it was still all a lie."

The changeling grasped her shoulders with his forehooves, and shook his head resolutely. "I love you, Morning Rain. And that's not a lie. He never asked me to marry you; that was all me. I've given you my vows, and they were sincere! Why do you think I waited so long? You were so angry at Swift Star for leaving on that journey that I nearly starved those first months. I only proposed to you after I fell in love with you."

She looked into his eyes, still unsure, but realizing that at least he'd been sincere. He pulled her into a hug, and sighed. "I don't know what that crazy queen out there is trying to accomplish, but love isn't something you can simply harvest. It takes love to get love. It won't be long before the only thing she's harvesting is terror." He couldn't help but smile. "And as someone who has fed on emotions his entire life, let me tell you, that stuff tastes foul."

A groan suddenly came from further in the room. The covers of a large bed the pair hadn't even noticed before were pulled away with a blue glow of magic. A sleepy, dark blue head with a wavy, sparkling blue mane and a rather large horn appeared from under them.

"Hmm? Tia?" the dark form said. She then promptly turned over, pulling the covers over her head.

The two figures stood still as statues, before very carefully stepping back to the door. The thought that the Moon Princess could help defeat the menace outside didn't even cross their minds. In fact, at that very moment, they'd forgotten all about the changeling swarm. The only things that did cross their minds were the fact they had accidentally snuck inside the bedroom of the Princess of the Night, and the fact they did not want to be caught doing that. No matter how hard the Princesses tried, centuries of scary tales on Nightmare Nights weren't erased from ponykind's memory that easily.

* * *

The pair silently walked around in the palace, only to find it eerily empty. It seemed the guards had either been captured and dragged away, or had gone into the city to help the citizens. The shattered glass, broken doors and smashed vases were telltale signs of the struggles that had taken place, but oddly, none of the changelings seemed to have stayed in the palace.

"Where should we go?" Morning Rain asked.

The changeling looked up the stairs. "The Observatory. I want to see what's happening."

Morning Rain nodded, and silently followed him up the stairs. When they reached the top, he made his way to the balcony. He looked at the chaos on the streets below, and shook his head.

Morning Rain stopped at the top of the stairs and looked at the changeling. "So..." she said, hesitantly. "If you're not Swift Star... who are you, then?"

He sighed. "I've been Swift Star for more than half of my life. Does it really matter? I'm still the same, you know. I still love broccoli, still loathe alfalfa, and I'm still good at music spells." He looked at her, pleadingly. "Please don't ask me to throw that away."

"I'm not!" she said. "If those things... are really you, then they're not Swift Star, are they?"

The changeling blinked. "I... guess not. I don't think he was much like me, at all."

"So, what is your name?" she asked, giving him a soft smile.

He frowned. It had been such a long time. He'd grown so used to being Swift Star.

"Flitter," he said. "That's the name I had." He gave her a pleading look. "Do I really need to take it back?"

She stared at the ground. "I'm sorry. I don't think I can call you Swift Star anymore." She joined him at the balcony, and looked down at the chaos below. The changeling swarm was apparently occupied by a familiar-looking team of half a dozen ponies that was slowly making their way to the Historical Archive building.

"So... where do we go from here?" she asked.

"We're getting out of here. We can't do anything to help. Princess Celestia is down there, and so are the Elements of Harmony. The only thing we can do is get caught."

"That's not what I meant!" she said. "What about us? The two of us?"

"I know what you meant," Flitter said, pulling himself away from the balcony and walking towards the other side. "And it'll have to wait. It seems those rampaging ponies have been caught. Come on, let's go before they notice us."

Morning Rain glanced at the swarm of changelings below, who were focusing their attention on the six ponies they held. She gasped, and ran after Flitter. "Those were the Bearers! They captured the Bearers of the Elements of Harmony!"

Flitter stopped. "Are you sure?"

"We saw them perform in the Hearth's Warming Eve play, remember? I know what they look like!"

Flitter ran back to the balcony, and peered down at the six ponies dragged along with the mass of black changelings.

He shook his head. "We can't help them. We're just two ponies."

"You could help them, couldn't you? If you change back, you'll look just li—"

"NO!" he yelled, cutting her off. She looked at him, startled.

"I can't change back into a pony that doesn't live any more!" he yelled, desperation in his eyes. "Don't you understand?"

"You... you'd be stuck in your... normal form?"

"Don't call it that," he said. Focusing his attention on his wings and horn, he restored his complete Swift Star form. "I need to be close to a pony to take his form. Once I change back to my full changeling form, Swift Star will be gone forever."

"But... you'd still be you," she said, hesitantly.

"Look at them!" he said, desperately. "Do you really want me to look like that?"

"At least you'd be yourself," she said. "I don't mind."

"But I do!" he yelled. "Don't you see?! Changelings are now enemies of Equestria! Could you imagine me walking around here in Canterlot, after all this, looking like one of them? They'd get the torches and pitchforks! I need to be Swift Star to be with you!"

Morning Rain shook her head. "If they win, it won't matter anyway!"

Flitter shuddered. "If they win... that crazy Queen probably won't even bother keeping day and night going. It'd be Nightmare Moon all over again."

His eyes suddenly widened, and he looked at Morning Rain.

"Luna," she said. "She's our only chance!"

Flitter groaned. "We should've woken her up right away." He turned around to walk back towards the staircase.

An odd feeling stopped him. He felt a shiver crawl up his spine, and looked back over the balcony. Morning Rain's ears perked up, and she looked at him. She clearly felt it too.

"What is that?!" she asked, walking over to the railing. She noticed a bright light shining out of the wedding hall.

He tilted his head. "It's love," he said, slightly confused. Then, he frowned. "But it's channelled... into a spell."

His eyes widened as he saw the purple sphere expand from where the white glow had been. "Oh no."

He backpedalled away from the balcony, spread his changeling wings once again, and flew away from the oncoming shield.

"Flitter? What are you doing?" Morning Rain said, looking at the fleeing form. Suddenly, she felt a tingling sensation as the shield flowed through her body, and remembered the effect it had had on him that morning. She gasped.

"Flitter!" she yelled, flying after him as he desperately tried to stay out of the shield's reach.

The shield blasted outwards like a giant purple glass wall, taking all changelings with it. Despite Flitter's best efforts, there was no way he could stay ahead of it. As the shield smashed into him, he felt his pony form burn away in purple flame. He desperately looked at his hooves as the last glimpses of yellow coat disappeared, making way for the dreaded shiny black of his changeling form.

As the last traces of purple flame vanished, the realization hit him. All his fears had come true. There was no way back; Swift Star was gone, forever.

Feeling utterly defeated, he folded his wings against his body, and let the shield blast him away. It was all over, anyway. He'd never be Swift Star again. He'd fulfilled his promise to the best of his ability, but after this, there was no point in struggling on. As he looked at the ground approaching him with deadly speed, he noticed that, ironically, he was going to end up in the same ravines where Swift Star died.

And now, he'd die there again.

"Don't you dare leave me!" a voice came from behind him. A blur of pink and mint green shot over the ground into the ravine, collided with him, and shot back up.

* * *

A pony and a changeling were lying on the dusty rock floor next to the ravine. Both of them were utterly exhausted, thoroughly shaken, and glad to be alive.

"Flitter?" the pegasus asked.

"Yes, Morning Rain?" the changeling replied, in an odd, buzzing voice.

"Where do we go from here?"

Flitter smiled, got up, and gave her a quick kiss on the mouth. His big icy blue eyes looked into her purple ones.

"Wherever we want, my love."

Author's Note:

Many thanks to brokenimage321 for his insane amount of helpful input and suggestions on this.

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