• Published 14th Apr 2015
  • 4,461 Views, 156 Comments

Buggin' Hiccups - sunnypack



A changeling suffers from an embarrassing affliction that causes him to shape shift whenever he has the hiccups. Dealing with it is half the problem, when Chrysalis also sends him on an infiltration mission as well.

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1 - Hic

Chapter 1: Hic

“So this changeling chose Princess Celestia as his disguise, signed all her documents, went to all her events, amended a few tax laws, opened up an orphanage and then shapeshifted right in front of a live audience of a few hundred ponies during a speech?”

Princess Luna had an expression that told Twilight she had trouble processing it herself.

“The most perplexing fact I find from this creature is that he seemed almost glad we caught him.” Luna’s comment was laced with a hint of frustration.

Twilight stared at the changeling through the glass container. It felt like she was studying an insect in one of her experiments. The air holes in the containment made it worse. Inside, the changeling wore a relieved smile and waved in her direction as he caught her gaze. He didn’t seem to care that he had been caught. Twilight could only wave numbly back.

“I would have expected more… I don’t know, the evil malicious undermining of Canterlot and Equestria through careful and reasoned systematic elimination of key political positions resulting in the total collapse of government and state.”

Luna flicked an ear, frowning. She glanced at Twilight briefly, then shrugged, moving on with a ponderous twitch of her tail.

“I believe so,” she said looking at the changeling through narrowed eyes. “But the frustrating thing is, this changeling seems like it improved some things around here. I would have expected sabotage, or deception, or at the very least a series of inconveniences, but we have failed to find such things. All we found were happy ponies. Even Blueblood was satisfied. It is… unexpected.”

Twilight returned her attention to the changeling. He still sat there with a silly grin on his face.

“He looks awfully young.”

Luna nodded.

“I believe he’s called a ‘nymph’, though I can’t be sure, that’s simply what he told me.”

Twilight studied the changeling as he rubbed his cheeks with his hoof. It looked like he’d gotten tired smiling and was dealing with a seized jaw.

“This changeling doesn’t look too smart.”

Luna snorted. “What was that saying? ‘He is a few hay bales of a full field’,” she remarked wryly. A small pause and Luna cocked her head. “Though what he’s done seems to contradict his first impressions.”

Twilight nodded, settling back into comfortable assumptions. Changeling, deception. Right in the hoof.

“How did he even get here?” she finally asked.

Luna levelled a serious expression that would not go remiss in a Court of Law.

“That,” she muttered with pursed lips, “you would not believe.”

——————

A changeling is a master of stealth, deception and infiltration. When a changeling is assigned a mission, say from a belligerent queen that forgets to check whether the drone is suitable for a task, the changeling must do its best to compensate. In this case, ‘Hup’ the changeling, was assigned this task. Hup thought it would be a huge mistake to do so, after all he wasn’t even a drone, but that was the way of the Swarm. Listen to the Queen... and you might get to live another day.

Hup had a strange name for a changeling. While most had noble terms of endearment such as ‘Carapace’ or ‘Metamorphius’, Hup was named so because he transformed early as a nymph in a bout of hiccups. While a changeling’s transformation was often a well-received occasion—so much so a changeling would be able to choose its name on that day—Hup was too young. The Broodwatch on duty simply shrugged and named the little fella after the first thing that struck her mind.

Hup grew up apart from the other young nymphs. Though he tried to fit in, he just wasn’t conventional in every way. He was awkward with his phrases. He spaced out a lot. And on top of all this, his habit of involuntary shapeshifting had earned him the disdain of the head guard. Up until now, he had mainly stuck to the edges of the colony, while most thought he was starting to be a waste of space. If he didn’t find something he was suited at, and soon, he was destined to be exiled.

But Fortune, or perhaps Fate, had decided to take an interest in this young changeling. An accidental hiccup and involuntary shape change in front of the passing Queen had set things in motion. So surprised was the Queen by his shapeshifting, she had ordered him to meet her later that day.

Hup already knew what it was about—he might as well turn himself into the Equestrian guard. Still, though it was dangerous getting caught by the ponies of Equestria, it was infinitely more mortal to refuse the Queen. If anything were to remind Hup of the transient nature of existence, it was a few moments with the Supreme Ruler of the Swarm.

“Hup, I’ve heard great things about you,” Chrysalis began, eyeing the changeling as he entered the spacious cavern.

“An exaggeration, my Queen,” Hup uttered, the voice warbling a little at the higher registers reminding them both of his obvious youth. Hup miserably reflected that he had yet to even mature to drone status. He didn’t even have his wings.

“Ah, a modest one, how… adorable. Listen, I have a request to make of you.” Chrysalis stared at Hup with wide, iridescent eyes. It would have been fine with Hup, if the slight green glow didn’t put him on edge. Of course when the Queen ‘requests’ something from you, there wasn’t even the implied choice in the manner.

“Yes, my Queen,” Hup replied automatically.

Chrysalis nodded appreciatively.

“Ah, the symphony of subservience is music to my ears. You soothe your Queen’s heart, Hup. However, we are not here for pleasantries. Quite the opposite in fact.”

If Hup had sweat glands, he’d be working up a storm. The Queen could really set the mood with her menacing tone. She was a master at inspiring fear and awe in her subjects. There was definitely fear. Yep. Definitely nailed it.

“I want you to go to Equestria and spy on those insipid little ponies. Come back to me when you find a significant weakness we can exploit.”

Hup considered for a brief—almost fleeting—moment that going on this mission would be a bad idea. He even considered raising a slight objection, but then Hup glanced at the Queen’s slight smile and chose to swallow and nod instead.

“Yes, my Queen,” he barely croaked, bending down in a bow.

“Good. Call for me if you run into any problems.” The Queen waved a hoof in his direction, allowing Hup to leave.

“Yes, my Queen,” Hup replied stoically, relieved to be dismissed. He turned to leave.

“Oh and Hup?”

Hup stopped and turned back around.

“Yes, my Queen?”

“Don’t call me.”

————

Hup trudged through the bowels of the hive, trying to avoid contact with any other member of the Swarm. If he could sneak out, before anyone spots him, maybe he could—

“Hic Hoc Hup?!”

Hup’s hoof froze partway to the ground and he took a deep breath. He didn’t like his full name, it sounded ridiculous, but there was only one changeling in the Swarm that called him that. Well, there was only one changeling in the Swarm that could remember his full name. He turned around.

“Hello, Metamorphius.”

“Hmm, what are you doing down here in the Ends? A changeling like you wouldn’t have clearance.”

“I have a mission from the Queen.” He mumbled most of his words into his carapace.

Metamorphius cocked his head, leaning over the young nymph with a frown that might as well be etched in stone.

“I’m sorry, you seem to have said something inconceivable. I’ll give you another go, say it with me: ‘I’m Hup, the useless half-drone and I’m going back to where I came from’.”

“I-I need to get past,” Hup whimpered and he shrank back further as Metamorphius eyed him with piercing blue eyes.

“No.” Metamorphius spat. He rounded on Hup. “A disgrace like you won’t even make it a day out there.”

Facing Metamorphius was hard, but going back to the Queen? Unthinkable.

“I-I have my o-orders,” Hup stuttered, trying to straighten up.

“And I have mine,” Metamorphius growled. He rapped a holed hoof to his metal chest plate. “You see this?”

If Hup had the guts he would have rolled his eyes. This was probably the hundredth time Metamorphius had recounted his prideful rant. Instead, he nodded meekly.

“This is what comes of serving the Swarm your whole life. I am the paradigm of training, dedication and hard work. I’ve had sleepless nights I haven’t even counted that you couldn’t possibly hold in your tiny nymph head. I am the product of a lifetime of servitude, a lifetime of ceaseless labour and loyalty. What could you possibly have that separates you from me? Is it your unimpressive build? Is it your failure to consciously shapeshift? Is it the fact that you’re an embarrassment to yourself and your whole lineage?”

Hup cringed away from the barrage of the words. They were cruel, sure. But the slight ring of truth in them was what hurt the most. He bit his lip, but he couldn’t help the slight watering in his eyes.

“Are you crying? You pathetic excuse for a changeling, get out of my sight! If I catch you in the Ends again I’ll end you.”

A clichéd riposte from Metamorphius, but effective nonetheless. Unable to muster the courage to disobey, Hup slunk away. He could feel the burning gaze of Metamorphius as he tracked him down the passage. With a audible snarl, the guard returned to his post, faithfully keeping watch on the outside world. Hup supposed he should hate Metamorphius, curse him for what it was worth. But it was a wasted exercise, because Metamorphius was right about one thing. They both knew Hup wouldn’t make it very long in the outside world. Why he was chosen by the Queen was beyond him.

Glancing back occasionally to determine if Metamorphius decided to end him anyway, Hup tried to quell his panicking thoughts and concentrated on finding a way out without being caught.

Because the consequences of failure were too dire to even consider.

—————

Not many outsiders would know this, but when you live in a cavern long enough, there is a serious problem of waste management. Housing a Swarm in one place with a testy Queen could only be worse if there were changeling excrement added into the mix. The one good thing that Hup could think of while moving towards the lower sections of the Deeps was that no changeling would be caught dead swimming through changeling slime... so no one would see him do what he was about to do.

The cavern was a feat of changeling engineering, the smell regulated by positive pressure from the inside of the hive pushing the smell outside. With the kinks in the access tunnels, one wouldn’t know it was a sewage deposit until they approached the pool itself. When Hup entered the main collection pool, the stench was like a physical wall, pushing him back towards the main thoroughfares.

The mere thought of cast-off sewage set his fledgling fangs on edge, but Hup stiffened his jaw and tried to ignore the combined odour of the less-likable end of hundreds of changelings in one place. He peered into the slime. Was it him or did the slime just wink? Hup glanced nervously back at the entrance of the cavern. Maybe he should go back to the Queen. Maybe she’ll forgive him if he explained that Metamorphius didn’t let him past?

Yeah, and maybe he could wish himself Grand Ruler of the World. Hup shook his head. There wasn’t another way.

Along the walls of the caverns were a series of small port holes that fed into a collective cistern before being ejected out to some outside source. Hup didn’t know where it went, but he figured if he dove down far enough, he’d be able to emerge out the other side. The waste had to go somewhere, right?

Enough stalling. Hup circled the pool and judged the area that would be closest to the drain. The slowly rotating whirlpool of sludge and refuse bubbled ominously. Hup gulped, closed his mouth tightly and tried not to think of what he was immersing himself in.

Just think of it as a pool of water. A smelly, smelly pool of water, he thought to himself.

Taking a deep breath, the changeling tensed and then launched himself into the pool.

Hup pushed blindly, flailing his limbs in the murky liquid.

It was then that Hup realised he didn’t know how to swim.

Letting loose a scream as he sank in the depths, Hup realised his mistake too late and he felt more than saw the bubble of precious air float away. Frantically, Hup tried clawing for the surface, but sudden current jerked him by the leg. Now closer to the drain, Hup could see the slow whirlpool was definitely… not slow.

Briefly, Hup broke through the surface, to catch a sample of the fetid air above the pool, before being dragged under again.

As Hup swirled through the muck, grime and the unmentionables, he thought that things could not get worse than dying in his own species’ excrement.

Hup should learn not to tempt Fate.

Author's Note:

Eh, I thought this was going to be a comedy, and it will be later, but that'll probably come in the second part when Hup walks into Canterlot, hiccupping a storm.

Next Chapter: Out in the wild, wild world of Equestria, can a changeling with unreliable shapeshifting abilities survive?

As always, my lukewarm readers, thanks for reading!

P.S. This is a gift for Listener and RadicalThestral but is a little something to all my followers. I love all my readers, thanks for being here and reading my works!