• Published 28th Apr 2012
  • 26,405 Views, 1,871 Comments

Smoke and Mirrors - TeaPartyCannon

A changeling needs the help of Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy to avoid imprisonment.

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Chapter 1: Surprise Awakening

Life for the changelings was always the same. Every day the changeling drones would leave the hive nest and travel to the distant pony towns, where they would assume the form of one of their residents. There, they would spend the day with their friends and family while said pony was gone, feeding off their love for them. At day’s end, they would return to their nest and offer their food to their beloved queen, who would love and feed them in turn. Every day was the same, but the changelings were fully content with it.

But when the changeling opened her eyes that day, everything was not the same. She wasn’t at the hive, awaiting her orders for that day, and she wasn’t at Canterlot, preparing for the invasion that would change the swarm’s lives for the better. She was out in the open, just outside of a large, dark forest, with the bright sun beating down on her. The sun’s light fractured in her compound eyes, causing the changeling to hiss with annoyance and slight pain as she shut her eyes and turned away from it.

Where am I, was the first coherent thought to enter the changeling’s mind. Her body felt sore and tired, as though she hadn’t rested for days, and she wanted nothing more than to just fall back asleep where she lay. What’s going on?

A frantic chittering sound, right above her head, caught the changeling’s attention, and she reluctantly reopened her eyes and glanced upward. A squirrel suddenly appeared in her sight, upside down as it looked her in the eyes and continued making that strange sound. The changeling screeched in surprise, shooting upward and attempting to scramble away as the creature leaped off her head, only to loudly shriek and collapse to the ground again as an agonizing pain shot up her front left leg. As the pain slowly went away, she cast a glance at her leg, noticing now how it was bent at an unnatural, clearly broken angle.

My, my leg… what..? The changeling was wracked with panic as she stood up again, slowly this time, and began to limp away backwards from the hole that she just now noticed she had been lying in. She nervously looked around, seeing now that there were far more animals than just that squirrel around her. Rabbits, ducks, goats, butterflies, toucans, even a vulture and seal; all these and more were there, watching her with a mix of curiosity and fear.

A splash behind her snapped the changeling out of her daze, and she turned around to see one of her hooves submerged in a shallow pond. She turned around fully and gazed into it, seeing her reflection, by all means completely normal, but something seemed off about it. The changeling’s eyes soon widened in horror as she saw what was wrong.

Her horn! Her horn was broken off more than halfway down, leaving just a small stump where it used to be. Spreading her wings, she quickly fluttered back to the small crater she woke up in, nearly collapsing again as she landed. The changeling was surprised at just how weak she felt, but she pushed it aside as she quickly scanned the hole, dismay filling her when she saw the remains of her horn were nowhere to be found.

The changeling let herself fall to the ground, ignoring the slightly concerned animals chattering around her. How could this have happened? Just a little while ago she, her queen, and the rest of the swarm had been invading Canterlot, the capital of Equestria. Her queen was going to bring about a prosperous new age for the changelings, one in which they would never have to go hungry again. She didn’t know what went wrong. She remembered those six ponies that she and her siblings had attempted to capture, especially the strange pink earth pony that had begged her to assume her form, then dismissed her and shot her with a blast of unicorn magic when she deemed her imitation inadequate. How dare she! My disguise was perfect!

The changeling quickly shook her head to clear out the indignation of the memory. Focus. Think about the pink pony later.

Anyway, those ponies were captured eventually, but she and many of her brothers and sisters were still hurt in the process. Then came that burst of powerful magic that knocked all of them, even her queen, far away from the capital, and just like that their invasion was foiled. The changeling couldn’t understand how they had lost. Her queen’s plan had been perfect! Where did it go wrong?

The changeling struggled to her feet again, ignoring her body’s protests. How long have I been out? She wondered, trying to think of an estimate. She could only go a few days at most without any love to consume, and since she was at full strength just before the invasion, she thought that she must have been unconscious for at least two days. With how weak she was, she knew she was running on very low reserves. She needed love, fast, and then she needed to find the swarm and-

“The swarm!” The changeling shrieked out loud, startling all the animals nearby with her sudden outburst. She couldn’t hear the swarm! Ever since she was young, she always felt the swarm at the back of her mind, giving her confidence that she had all of her siblings to support her. But now she heard nothing. The only thoughts in her head were her own, and she felt completely alone and vulnerable without them. She desperately tried to think of an explanation for this.

Her thoughts suddenly went back to her horn, and the realization hit her. Of course! A changeling’s horn was its connection to the swarm; it let them recognize another changeling even when in pony form, and of course, like any horn, it let them use magic. This second realization was a lot less sweet for the changeling, however. Without her horn, she had only her natural shape shifting abilities, leaving her lacking in terms of methods to defend herself.

The changeling turned and looked at her back, giving her insect-like wings an experimental flutter. At least her wings weren’t broken; they still worked perfectly fine.

Giving a dismayed sigh, the changeling reflected on her situation. It was looking pretty bad; the swarm was scattered over Equestria -many of them dead, most likely-, her queen was also missing, and she was stuck, injured and starving, in an unfamiliar place. The changeling assessed her options.

“Okay, okay, think, just think. Things are looking pretty bad now, but you can get through this. There are a lot of weird animals here, so maybe there are some ponies around, too. You just have to find a pony and-” The changeling’s pep talk went unfinished as the chattering of the animals behind her was breaking her concentration and starting to grate on her nerves. She turned around to hiss at them to be quiet, only to stop as she finally noticed the quaint little cottage lying just in front of her that she must have missed in her initial panic.

She was silent for several moments at this. “…How did I not see that?”

Despite her egregious lapse in observation, the changeling couldn’t help brightening up at the sight. This was great! A cottage meant a home, and a home meant that somepony was living there! Now all she had to do was stay alive and not die of starvation before the pony came back home, and she might just survive!

The changeling was so caught up in her luck that she almost failed to notice the close sound of two voices approaching. She pricked her ears and listened closely, trying to catch what they were saying.

“Look, Fluttershy, we’re here! We’re here! Oh, I bet all your animals just can’t wait to see you again!” Said the first voice, a high-pitched one just filled with excitement.

“Yes, well, thank you for your help, Pinkie Pie, but you didn’t have to come with me. Not that I’m not grateful of course, I am, but I can handle this by myself just fine.” A second, voice, one much softer by comparison, spoke up next.

“Oh don’t worry, silly, I won’t get in the way! Besides, you remember what Twilight said, don’t you? We need to stay in pairs for the next few weeks. Remember the buddy system! We wouldn’t want any mean old changelings to snatch us up now, would we?”

“N-No, you’re right. I hope we don’t see another one of those creatures again; they were pretty scary.”

The changeling’s eyes widened in fear as she listened. These two ponies knew about her kind, which meant they may try to capture her if they saw her, and she was in no condition to fight back against them. She turned to fly away, forgetting again about her injured leg until she took the first step with it. As the sharp pain shot up her leg, she fell to the ground and let out a shrill screech of agony.

“Eep! W-What was that?” Fluttershy’s fear-filled voice came again, sounding even closer this time.

“Maybe it’s one of your animal friends? Do you think its hurt? Ooh, I always wanted to try being a doctor! Let’s go, let’s go!” A series of bouncing noises followed soon after as the unseen pony began making her way around the cottage to the back, ignoring her friend’s quiet pleas to stop and wait.

Through the pain, the changeling felt her rising panic threaten to burst. She couldn’t let them see her like this! She needed a new form, any form! Desperately racking her mind for anything, she quickly found an image of a pony, albeit one she didn’t fully recognize.

Who is this? Oh, it doesn’t matter right now! Come on, change, CHANGE! The changeling’s mind screeched, a small cocoon of green magic starting to form around her in response to her thoughts.

The spell finished and the green shell burst just as a pink earth pony bounced around the corner. She gasped at the sight of the injured pony in Fluttershy’s backyard, but the transformed changeling took no notice of this; her emergency transformation had drained what little energy she had left right out of her body. Struggling to keep her eyes open despite the creeping darkness at the edge of her vision, the changeling was about to give into the exhaustion when two pink hooves placed themselves on top of her own.

“H-Hey! Are you okay? Well, you don’t look okay, so I guess that was a silly question, but still! Oh, please answer me! Fluttershy, I need help here!” Pinkie Pie called out, her voice shrill with near-hysteria. The pink pony’s concern shot through the changeling, filling her with the energy she needed to remain conscious. It wasn’t quite as powerful an emotion to feed on as love, but it kept her alive at the very least.

“Oh, r-right. Um, miss? Do you need help? I do have some medical expertise, but I mostly only use it for animals. I’ve never used it on a pony before.” Fluttershy said as she cautiously approached, staying close to Pinkie as she looked over the injured pony. “We could take you to the hospital, if that’s what you need. It’s not too far from here. Well, actually it sort of is, but we can still get you there quickly.”

Despite her nervousness, Fluttershy’s concern was just as strong as Pinkie’s, and their combined emotions gave the changeling the energy she needed to slowly pick herself back up. The two backed away to give her some room, but Fluttershy’s attention was soon drawn to the broken foreleg that the disguised pony awkwardly kept lifted off the ground.

“Oh, your hoof, um, I can bandage it, if you need me to-” She began.

“I’m fine. I’m fine, I can handle it.” The changeling interrupted, trying to stand tall and look undisturbed. She couldn’t look weak in front of them; she had to act natural and pony-like. Speaking of which…

The changeling limped over to the pond and stared at her reflection. A tan-colored Pegasus pony with magenta eyes and a messy, grayscale mane and tail stared back at her. Turning her head, she saw a compass rose cutie mark on each side of her flanks. The identity of the pony escaped her still.

I still don’t know who this is. Oh well, maybe these ponies can help- The changeling turned to face her rescuers, only to freeze up in shock as she got her first good look at them that wasn’t marred by exhaustion or dizziness.

A pink earth pony with frizzy, darker pink hair and a trio of balloons for a cutie mark, and a yellow Pegasus pony with long, light pink hair and a cutie mark of three butterflies. Two of the six ponies she and several other drones had been soundly defeated by. She couldn’t believe she was seeing them again, especially that earth pony; that ungrateful earth pony that wouldn’t know good shape shifting if it bucked her in the-

Okay, okay, calm down. Calm down. Oh Chrysalis, what are they doing here? They should still be in Canterlot, shouldn’t they? The changeling panicked inwardly. If these ponies had returned from all the way from Canterlot, then she had to have been unconscious for quite some time. How long was I out?

Pinkie Pie smiled and bounced over to the nervous Pegasus. “Hey now, what’s with that look? There’s no need to be scared. I’m Pinkie Pie, and this is my friend, Fluttershy! What’s your name?”

This snapped the changeling out of her panicked trance. My name? Oh, that’s right, my name! Let’s see, Mirror, that’s right. My name’s Mirror. Is that a pony name? Maybe I should add something onto the end to be sure?

Pinkie Pie frowned and cocked her head in a quizzical manner. “Cat hasn’t got your tongue, has it? It shouldn’t have, since you talked just a little while ago, and I didn’t see any cats take your tongue just now. Come on, you can tell Pinkie Pie! Your name, please?” The pony batted her eyes in a pleading manner as she spoke.

“…Mirror… Match. My name is Mirror Match.” The changeling finally found her voice and spoke, though she instantly regretted it. Idiot! What kind of name is Mirror Match? You’re a Pegasus, not a unicorn, and it sounds completely changeling! They’ll discover you for sure!

To Mirror’s surprise, however, Pinkie’s smile grew wider at the revelation, though she also noticed that Fluttershy was giving her a wondering look from behind the pink pony.

“Um, excuse me, Miss Match? If you don’t mind me asking, how did you get… here?” Fluttershy asked, pointing at the crater in her backyard as she finished speaking.

“Uh, I was flying and I… crashed. It was an accident.” Mirror finished lamely. Technically it wasn’t a lie; she had been sent flying by that weird blast and she had crashed into the yellow Pegasus pony’s backyard, so it was a flying accident of sorts. The changeling started to calm down as she saw her name’s oddness had gone unnoticed, only to freeze up again as Pinkie Pie wrapped her hoof around her.

“Oh, you poor thing! Don’t worry, Fluttershy and I will help you!” Pinkie Pie said. “Don’t you worry your pretty little head, Matchie, can I call you Matchie? Oh Matchie, you have nothing to fear! We’re going to fix you up and then we’ll introduce you to our other friends –you’ll love them, I’m sure- and then I’ll throw you a huge party to welcome you to Ponyville since I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen you here before and-”

“W-What?!” Mirror yelped, pushing Pinkie Pie away from her. Her other friends?! Those have to be those other four ponies back at Canterlot. I’ll get discovered for sure! This is bad, bad, bad!

Pinkie Pie remained blissfully unaware of the changeling’s growing anxiety. Instead, she gasped loudly as a light bulb somehow appeared above her head. Grabbing the light bulb and throwing it away, Pinkie turned to Mirror with an impossibly wide smile on her face.

“I almost forgot! You’re new to Ponyville, so I have to treat you my special welcome wagon and song!” She exclaimed.

“Song?” Mirror repeated.

“Yup!” Pinkie said, pulling a large wagon out from behind her, surprising both pegasi with her blatant violation of the laws of reality. Then, to Mirror’s utmost surprise and Fluttershy’s mild exasperation, she pressed a button on the wagon and began to sing.

“Welcome, welcome, welcome, a fine welcome to you!
Welcome, welcome, welcome, I say how do you do!
Welcome, welcome, welcome, I say hip hip hurray!
Welcome, welcome, welcome, to Ponyville todaaaaaaaayyyy!!!!!”

As the song ended, Pinkie stood posed in front of Mirror, still grinning widely. “Wait for it…”

With a ding the wagon’s oven burst open and a cloud of confetti sprayed out while a load of cake batter squirted out from the confetti cannon, covering all three ponies in a thick layer of batter. Pinkie Pie burst out laughing at the sense of déjà vu.

As soon as the confetti cannon had gone off, though, Mirror decided that, despite the abundance of love she could sense within both ponies, no amount of food was worth staying here with them. With a sudden surge of energy she turned, flapped her new Pegasus wings, and flew away…

…and almost immediately slammed face-first into a nearby tree.

Now, Mirror was not Queen Chrysalis. As a simple changeling, she wasn’t anywhere near as powerful as her beloved queen, and she didn’t have the same resiliency either. She simply wasn’t capable of holding a disguise together without actively concentrating on it.

As Mirror Match fell unconscious, her Pegasus guise fell away as well.

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