• Published 14th Apr 2015
  • 4,468 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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2 - Hoc

Chapter 2: Hoc

While tumbling down through your own species’ excrement was probably a bad situation, one should never think that it couldn’t get any worse. For one changeling, that edict was swiftly broken not moments before he fell into the raging whirlpool of the primary draining area for his Swarm’s sheltering area. The caverns weren’t the most comfortable of accommodations for the Swarm, but the Queen had made the decision based on how easy it was to remain covert. A lesson painfully learned that no matter how subtle the infiltration, it could all fall apart even when one thinks they have the upper hoof.

Right now though, other things were going through Hic Hoc Hup’s mind as he tumbled through the murky liquid. They were simple thoughts, and just as easily surmised.

For example, I’m going to die, aren’t I?

Or, Why didn’t I just stay with the Swarm?

Finally, Is that a waterfall?

To answer Hup, yes. It was a waterfall. A steep waterfall with rushing rapids and a lethal-looking drop.

In the small interval of time between which Hup had recognised the waterfall edge and realised his plight, he might have noticed that there were rocks to aim for, or possibly that spindly root jutting out from the caverns afters years of a tree’s persistence and effort.

He could have aimed for the rock.

He could have grabbed the root.

He fell down the waterfall instead.

“Blaaaaaaabluuuuuuaaaargh!”

Let it be noted that screaming doesn’t work very well with water in one’s mouth.

Hup tumbled in the water, feeling parts of his carapace hitting various debris, flotsam and jetsam that he didn’t really want to think about. In fact, it was hard to think at all with the lack of a singular orientation and the prospect of a quite permanent ending. Hup managed to break the surface of the rapids, just long enough to see the edge.

“Waterfa—?!”

He didn’t get much further. With a burbling hiccup, the changeling fell with the rest of the water down the thirty foot drop. Even pegasi, most of whom had frequent experience in crashing at high speeds, would think twice about hitting water at near sixty five feet per second.

Hup miserably reflected on the fact that he couldn’t fly. He wished his wings could have come in earlier. It looked like he wasn’t even going to last a few seconds out of the caverns.

Metamorphius was right, he noted glumly. I couldn’t last a moment in the outside world.

Though his situation was growing desperate by the second, Hup had a spot of luck in his series of misfortunate events. A passel of moths had been passing under him, moving in a dense cloud of wings. You might be mistaken in thinking that these small creatures could lift the changeling, like butterflies. Moths were nothing of the sort. They were spiteful creatures that liked to stick to walls and shed dust everywhere. In fact, a few moths saw the falling changeling and rapidly shifted aside, making a gap big enough for him to fall through. But fortunately for Hup, these moths shed a particular dust that gave them the strength to migrate from South to North during Spring.

Hup still hit the water hard enough for him to blackout, but at least that was a significant improvement from being killed, so Hup couldn’t complain too much. Not that he was in a state to complain. He quite literally went with the flow. The water swirled and washed Hup away with it.

—————

When Hup came to, he noticed that his bottom half was still partially submerged in water. Groggily, he realised that he had washed up on the shore of some river, face down and to the side. Water that would have drowned the poor changeling had streamed out of his airways and he had barely survived the ordeal.

For a moment, Hup lay there savouring the feeling of being alive.

I’m alive! he cheered to himself. I survived.

Though his carapace hurt all over, Hup didn’t feel like anything was damaged so badly that it was broken. The combination of the waterfall’s water breaking the surface and the moth’s special dust had saved his life. Hup took a liberating breath of fresh air. This was great! Out in the world. Away from the Swarm.

He picked himself up, shaking off the last few drops of water as he studied the environment around him. Green, green, light green, dark green, a bit of brown and a brilliant blue. Hmm, the colours were awfully familiar to the Swarm’s caverns. Well apart from that blue! That brilliant blue that stretched across the sky!

Clouds as wispy as cotton, and just as whimsical in their nature. Something sparked in the back of his mind. The Broodwatch had told Hup that the clouds near the ponies were perfectly shaped and generic in design. They were created they said. Out beyond Equestria and away from ponies the clouds roamed fairly free, but were not so wild as a small forest labelled by the ponies as the Everfree.

Hup pondered the situation. His stomach growled. Oh bugger, he’d forgotten to bring anything with him! While the best sustenance for changelings was emotions of other creatures, changelings could make do with a nutritious supplement that was similar to the gel-like fluids that sustained nymphs while still in their shells. The Broodwatch prepared it… somehow and it was simply called ‘gel’. It had an unpleasant taste, but it was better than starving to death.

It was a viable alternative, but there were some changelings that couldn’t digest the nutrients after leaving nymphhood. The changelings that couldn’t either perished or severed themselves from the Swarm. Severing oneself from the Swarm was a kind of isolation that was extremely difficult to bear. Most preferred to remain in the Swarm, even when their bodies slowly and agonisingly starved.

Of those that left the Swarm, Hup knew not of their fate, they had to take a chance by themselves, but no report of them had ever come back to the Swarm of whether or not they survived, were living happily. There was also a fair chance that they could have starved to death and weren’t capable of getting the message back to report. In either case, the prospect of being in that circumstance was dismal.

Hup didn’t know if he was one of the ones that required emotions. It was rare nowadays to reject gel, but you never knew. It wouldn’t surprise Hup if he found out that he was one of the unlucky ones that couldn’t subsist on gel.

Still, there was no use thinking about such things when the mind was of a mind to find some food. Hup was grumbling to himself, but stopped when he realised there was yet another problem added to his growing pile of problems.

He was lost.

Now he knew where the Swarm was in general proximity to the rest of Equestria, but Hup was reasonably sure that they weren’t close to the Neighgra falls. In fact, the mountain in front of Hup suggested that he was close to Hollow Shades, a place that not even the dragons dared tread. Hup shivered, and backed away, even knowing that there was several miles of open plains between him and the foreboding forest.

“Okay Hup, just spy on the ponies, rack up a small report and give it to the Queen. Get in and get out,” he mumbled to himself uneasily.

Contrary to popular opinion, Hup could transform at will. He was talented at shapeshifting, often making intricate adjustments that the Broodwatch didn’t care for.

‘What’s that?’ she would say, pointing at a small braid in his mane. ‘Stick to imitating and copying! Don’t make things up!’

Hup was a rather eclectic changeling. Though his brethren were not long in finding out their little talent, Hup was at a loss at what he was good at. He often drifted from one thing to another. Finding out that he was rather good at something, but there was always some major fault that had the other members of the Swarm shaking their head in frustration.

From birth, Hup had a penchant for creativity that often got him in trouble more than it was worth. He quite liked drawing and singing, but such activities had earned him the scorn of his fellow changeling brothers and sisters. So Hup usually kept quiet. As a changeling not assigned to a particular section of the Swarm, like the Broodwatch, the Guard, the Infiltrators, or even Keeping, Hup had the unfortunate problem of having plenty of time on his hooves.

In his forays around the Swarm, he found out that some of the Scouts in the Guard liked collecting things. Often, small mechanical items would break and be cast aside, until the next time a Scout would deign to pick up another bauble. Hup would squirrel the devices away, taking great pleasure in pulling them apart and putting back together. He would have liked to spend more time doing that, but there were precious few things in the caverns that required disassembly. So Hup liked to observe things. How the changelings trotted, how they flew, how they talked, how they coped with stress, excitement or woe.

He found that he could ‘get into character’ effortlessly. So much so, that the others had a suspicion that he preferred to be a creation rather than a changeling. Transformation was dangerous, sometimes it’s easy to forget what you were. There wasn’t much chance of that, what with Hup’s unfortunate condition.

Shapeshifting during a fit of hiccups could be more dangerous. Apart from the obvious drawbacks of an involuntary shapeshift, shapeshifting costed energy. Not much, mind you, so maintaining a disguise was convenient, but only if there was a source of food nearby. Shapeshifting without the requisite energy could reduce even the hardiest of changelings into a whimpering ball of pain and tears. Malignant deprivation was a very serious condition.

Hup needed some food, and fast. If there were ponies nearby, he could try siphoning a bit of the ambient emotions around, or even better, maybe he could trick a pony into loving him. He licked his lips. Hup wondered what love would taste like. Was it smooth and creamy like the Queen had once spoken of? Was it spicy and enticing? Was it something different?

Hup moved forward, uncertain at what the world would bring to him, but for once, a little eager to find out.

——————

It wasn’t long before Hup found out he wasn’t alone.

He had the vague suspicion that he was followed, but he couldn’t quite put his hoof on it. Several times he had cast around for the unknown stalker, but he couldn’t find any sign that he was being tracked. It occurred to him that he might be getting a little paranoid, what with being in the middle of Equestria, in a place where he could be caught at any time.

It occurred to Hup that he probably should have shapeshifted, taking the risk that he would not have the required energy to do so.

It didn’t occur to Hup, after his fifth, uneasy scan behind him, that the perpetrator could be following him from the sky.

Then again, Hup was never a lucky changeling, and he certainly wasn’t the most wordly.

“Caww!”

That was when a phoenix hit him in the face.

Author's Note:

I haven't updated this in a while, so sorry to my followers that I originally made this fic for.

You can thank Caffeinated Pinkie for reminding me that this needed an update.

Note: Actually bugging me for an update will work. I'm dumb like that.

Next Chapter: What's it like to have a face full of feathers? Where did this phoenix come from? More importantly... does it belong to anypony?

As always, my atmospherically pressurised readers, thanks for reading!

P.S. Now a bit more edited.