• 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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4 - Would the Real Pony Princess Please Stand Up?

Chapter 4: Would the Real Pony Princess Please Stand Up?

For a changeling, the ability to shape-shift at a moment’s notice is a highly valued skill. Those that do not possess this trait were usually relegated to the more menial side of caring and maintenance in whatever habitation that the Swarm resided at the time. Usually, the location was chosen for a combination of factors ranging from the mundane aesthetics to the forcibly practical. Food had to be close, of course, so the Swarm picked the cave systems near three major pony cities. It had to be hidden, so a cave rather than camping in the forest vastly reduced the risks. That it was near a waterfall was because the rather dramatic view was to Chrysalis’ tastes. Despite the remote location, it was still a tenuous position for the changelings. Ponies could wander in. They could be captured, of course, but missing ponies would be investigated.

Chrysalis had no desire to be routed out from her secret base, no matter how uncomfortable it had seemed compared to literally the royal treatment she had during the wedding’s deception. During the climax of the events, the apex of her plan’s fruition, she had let herself get carried away. She had thrown her customary cautious forays, careful information gathering and meticulous planning. They had all been torn apart by her rushed decisions and overtly mistimed snatches for power. It had been a typically villainous error, but one she sought to rectify. Information was a weapon, and Chrysalis now intended to be formidably armed.

So the Queen had put her faith in the changelings of her Swarm that were the best infiltrators, scouting for information that could cause the undoing of Equestria by some fortuitous circumstance. Chrysalis vowed to plan her next attack and resist the urge to snatch power without it being assured beyond reasonable doubt. However, in the coming months as reports filtered in the ponies had infuriatingly little to hide; their security had been bumped up a few notches, making it difficult to get any changeling close to the city, let alone the seat of power.

In particular, Chrysalis lamented the fact that the phoenix Celestia always carried around with her, seemed to always know if a pony was a pony or a changeling was a changeling. Something about intentions and auras, but nothing in texts, art, or rumour could shed light on the mysterious creatures that were often present around Equestria. Apart from finding out that dragons apparently shared the same enmity to the phoenixes that she did, nothing else bore fruit.

She faced the entrance of her cave, her eyes glowing green as thoughts, plans, counter-plans seethed in the cauldron of her mind. She glanced up as a changeling crept into her chamber somewhat morosely.

She raised an eyebrow at him. “So I take it you failed, Metamorphius?”

The changeling bowed once more, looking haggard and weary. It appeared the changeling had spent the better part of the last couple of days looking for the changeling. “Yes, my Queen.”

Chrysalis gave the changeling a smile that could snuff a bonfire. “So you see, you need not have questioned my judgement.”

“Never, my Queen,” he replied hastily.

She waved a hoof dismissively. “I know what you’re thinking, you don’t have to speak for me to know what you’re saying.” She rose gracefully from her throne and stalked forward, each strike of her hooves sending an ominous echo around the expansive chamber. She circled the Guard drone, like a shark or a vulture does.

“Yes, my Queen.”

Chrysalis snorted, and stalked back to her makeshift throne, carved out of the stone. She lay down upon it and eyed Metamorphius coolly. “Hup is changeling with a rare ability, you wouldn’t understand.”

“My Queen?”

Chrysalis sighed, her hooves kneading her forehead. “I’m not used to explaining myself to my subordinates, but if it eases your mind, and the ridiculous propensity for you drones to gossip, then I’ll tell you. Hup is an experiment. He’s a changeling which I’ve put a little bit of my essence into.”

“Essence?” Metamorphius blurted, he looked disturbed. “Are you saying, my Queen, that he is…?”

Chrysalis rolled her eyes. “No, you absolute imbecile, that changeling isn’t related to me. It’s to do with the creative part of his mind.” She tapped her hoof impatiently on the chair’s rest. “Most changelings have an innate sense of duty, it’s just how they’re born. That duty squashes your ability to think outside the box. Instead, I have to do all the work.” Her mouth twisted bitterly. “And I’ve learned the hard way that even I can be compromised. If I fail, we all fail, and there’s no independence of the Swarm to adjust for that.”

Metamorphius looked like he was having trouble wrapping the concept around his head. “But we are very inventive on our own, my Queen. We are resourceful—”

“No doubt,” Chrysalis interrupted. “Can I finish?” She waited to see if Metamorphius would dare interrupt her, before continuing. “I never said you couldn’t do things yourself, but you need orders, plans, a direction. What if you’re isolated from the Swarm, what will you do then?”

From the way Metamorphius was frowning, Chrysalis could see he was wracking his brains for an answer to the obvious question. She already knew what he would say, and started doodling in the ground with a stick.

“I would locate the nearest food source, escape detection and wait until I could get into contact with the Swarm…” he trailed off as Chrysalis finished his sentence with the words written in the ground.

“So you see,” Chrysalis drawled. “Hup would probably think to infiltrate the local government and instate himself as a political figure. In fact I know that’s what he would do.”

“H-How, my Queen?”

Chrysalis looked like she wanted nothing more than to knock him senseless. “Because that’s what I would do,” she snapped. “Weren’t you listening?”

“O-Of course, my Queen.”

Chrysalis stared at him for a moment longer, then simply pursed her lips, deciding that the impertinent Guard drone wasn’t worth her time. She only decided to talk to him out of boredom, anyway. At least Hup had the continuing decency to look suitably meek in front of her inspiring majesty. She could see it now, the changeling was probably halfway to controlling Canterlot already.

“I can’t wait to see that Princess Celestia’s smug little face when she finds out how far I’ve come,” Chrysalis said with a slight chuckle. Thoughts of the horrified expression from the pathetic pony princess kept a smile dancing around her lips.

It was at that point that Metamorphius thought it wise to leave before he was considered expendable.

——————

Little did Chrysalis know that Hup was well on his way to controlling not only Canterlot, but all of Equestria itself. The changeling stood uncomfortably in the anteroom of Celestia’s own private quarters while the alicorn was having entirely too much fun dressing ‘herself’ up.

“Oh I never knew I would look like that in that dress. My, my, this is so much more convenient than a mirror. Would you mind turning around? Perfect! Oh that dress matches me—I mean you—flawlessly! You will be the belle of the ball, I guarantee it!”

Hup shifted on his hoofs uncomfortably, feeling the great feathers of his wings slide in sympathy on his back. They felt strange and uncomfortable compared to the smooth, diaphanous wings he saw on other changelings. He didn’t have wings normally, of course, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t shapeshift his own pair. You couldn’t lie about your development in the Swarm, anyway, the Broodwatch kept a close eye and recalcitrant changelings faking their age—for whatever reason—were punished quite harshly.

Hup had other reasons, mostly to do with the idea that if your opponents underestimated you, it’s a lot better than if they overestimated you. He had it bad enough.

“I look great,” Celestia announced with an appraising look. Hup felt a little uncomfortable under the scrutiny of an alicorn that looked less like she was dressing a changeling and more like she was ready to eat a delectable treat. She caught his look and rolled her eyes. “Don’t be like that. We still haven’t gone through the reams of lessons for etiquette.” The smile turned devious. “We’ll have to give you a crash course on the basics.”

Hup glanced around uneasily, his eyes scanning the room and settling on the window.

“Don’t even think about flying away,” Celestia said good-naturedly. “You wouldn’t make it past the guard pegasi. If you do, which I doubt, I might have to send your Queen a note.”

“A note?” Hup asked suspiciously. “What note?”

“Dear me! We’ll have to fix that voice of yours; you can’t sound like yourself when you’re disguised as me.”

Hup muttered something under his breath and changed his voice to match the Princess’ exactly.

“Is that better?” he grumbled with a long-suffering squint.

Celestia nodded emphatically. “Much better! You sound exactly like me! All the applications I could take advantage of if I had my own changeling…” She spaced out a couple of moments, before grinning widely. “Oh silly me, I already do!” With a disarming smile, Celestia swept around, circling Hup another time. “It’s a good thing you can do that, I thought I might have to use a spell.”

Hup stared at the floor, his head shaking from side to side as he thought about what a mess he’d gotten himself into. At least living with the Swarm was relatively uncomplicated, all he had to do was obey orders, be bored for a while and then go to sleep. Wake up, rinse and repeat.

“In any case,” Celestia said, interrupting his thoughts. “The note will have just mentioned that you were very kind and you’ve negotiated for us to send a bouquet of flowers to her cave system up near the Neighgra Falls. Did she tell you she’s allergic to pollen?” Celestia chuckled at his reaction. “Surprised? Chrysalis thinks she’s hidden herself well but we knew she was there a long time ago. She hasn’t made herself a nuisance so we haven’t done anything. That is of course until you arrived, but, well, I didn’t think you were much of a threat.”

Hup drooped, his hopes sinking as low as his stomach felt. Nopony, or changeling for that matter, was ever going to take him seriously, were they?

Celestia jostled him with a playful hoof to his shoulder. “Come on, my little stunt double, let’s get you practicing some Court etiquette. Don’t worry, you won’t have to say or do much, just act all stoic and make some wise decisions. Most of Equestria pretty much runs itself anyway, so you’ll just be dealing with stuffy nobles and boring old functions hosted by various affluentials. Nothing too strenuous, I promise.”

“B-But what if there’s an emergency?”

Celestia raised an eyebrow. “If there’s an emergency… well, I’m sure if it’s that urgent I imagine I’d know something about it. It’d have to be pretty serious, like the sun going out.” Celestia whisked the issue away with her hoof like one would to a fly during dinner. “ I’m having a vacation, you’re just making it easier for me to do so. Don’t you want that juicy insider’s report for your Queen?”

Hup bit his lip, but finally nodded. Then a thought suddenly occurred to him. “Why are you taking so much time to teach me all this?”

Celestia blinked. “Well leaving just anypony in charge of Equestria without any training whatsoever would be grossly irresponsible.”

Hup gaped at the alicorn as she laughed.

“Oh you’re probably thinking ‘wow, and ditching Equestria to a changeling isn’t’, aren’t you?”

Hup let the silence speak for itself. Celestia shrugged. “Well it’s mutually beneficial,” she explained patiently. “The longer you escape detection, the longer my holiday and the more you get to know Equestria and make a report back to your Queen.”

“Aren’t you afraid that I might find out something that might be a danger to you ponies?” Hup hazarded.

Celestia burst out laughing. “Oh, little one, if you do ever find something, please tell us, we’ll be glad to know. Now do you want to get started or do I have to find myself another changeling?”

Evidently, the Princess thought question time was over. Hup nodded sullenly, resigning himself to the fate of playing out his part as a weird changeling turned pony princess.

“Thought so,” Celestia replied with a sly smile. “Alright, balance this book on your head and try trotting around without dropping it. No, chin higher, footsteps more dainty, stop walking like a stallion!”

Hup tried again. It fell off. Celestia didn’t even let the book touch the ground before it was placed back on top of his head.

“No, no, stop being so stiff. It’s proud, but graceful, you have to channel your inner Celestia. Oh yes, breaks? Eh… probably in another few hours or so. I have the time to myself, surprisingly, but I’ll need to head outside every now and again to handle a few things, so read this.” A massive tome thumped on her desk. “Try to catch up on a thousand or so years of diplomacy and history.” There was a knock on the door that broke Celestia’s train of thought as she was about to say something else. “Coming! Wait, where was I? Oh yes, okay, one last time!”

As the book slipped off his head for the third time, Hup tried not to follow the book to the ground in a snivelling heap.

After all, that would be bad manners.

Author's Note:

You know what else is fast, Warrior Kitten? An update!

Sorry for the late update, caught between work and a hard place (other updates). This week, if you're a general fan of my works, is an update bonanza! An update every day of the week!

Next Chapter: Hup tries not to let Equestria fall into ruins... and then wonders why he's trying so hard.

As always, my incredibly alluring readers, thanks for reading!

P.S. Quick passthrough, but I've got a lot to get through, so thanks once again for being patient with any mistakes I've made!
P.P.S Another few minor edits and stylistic additions.