• Published 22nd Jan 2017
  • 3,500 Views, 216 Comments

Heart and Soul - Orkus



Much time has passed for the changeling Habeas Brittle since he settled down on the peach farm with the pony love of his life. However, not all is too well, as an uneasy question plagues his mind. And he's not the only one going through a crisis.

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Prologue

Apini Bee was a changeling who had long ago been cast out from the changeling hive as but a nymph. Why she had been cast out all those years before was of a simple matter to explain. While one was of a natural teal color, her fully red-colored eye, which to say was the left one on her face, would always stay with her whenever she took the shape of another being. Changelings were creatures who valued perfect deception above all else, and usually used their skills to impersonate others. With such a dead giveaway to be burdened with, and the fact that her father was the first to bear it, such a mutation had the chance to spread and contaminate the hive through their bloodline if given the chance, and it was a weakness that needed to be ridden of before that chance could arrive.

Apini may not have been part of the hive, and she may have lived most of her life disguised among ponies who didn't know what she was, but she still followed the orders of her queen, Chrysalis. It was all she had to do to prove her loyalty, and it was the closest she felt to being accepted by her kind. Those orders, which she carried out without question, were almost always about what to do with certain ponies and other creatures who threatened, or fell into Queen Chrysalis' plans. Whether it was disrupting whatever actions they had, to indispose them, or to downright eliminate them, she would perform these with surgical precision.

And that was why she was here today. What she stared at from where she stood was a small farm that possessed an orchard of peach trees. It looked like a comfy and cozy abode, but the two inhabitants of it were soon to have their pleasant laziness interrupted. They were a pair of strong earth ponies, Chantilly Cream and Prunus Persica; a husband and wife, most likely, and ones who were the hunters of monsters-turned peach farmers, by the looks of things. From the report she received from a visiting drone, Apini heard that they had previously attacked and chased off a group of changelings who were enforcing Chrysalis' will not too long ago. This, of course, gained the Queen's ire, and when the Queen found ire in someone or something, death, among other forms of punishment, was typically swift to follow.

Where Apini currently stood, just out of sight, was the edge of a treeline that was part of the thickly forested area the clearing containing the blue-painted house and orchard was located within. It was a woodland that surrounded the pony capital of Canterlot, and was abundant with beasts. Great timberwolves, savage trolls, and perhaps even a fearsome dragon-or-two had the chance to inhabit it, but none would definitely venture this far into the territory the ponies. Having studied her foes from afar and concocted her plans immensely, Apini would use the dense forest to her advantage. All she had to do was lure her prey to her, and the hunters would become the hunted...

She waited in silence for almost a half hour, and only when she saw the two, furred shape of ponies - a stallion of a light blue color and mare of a much more creamy brown tint - leave the house and merrily enter the porch of their home was when her moment arrived. The instant she saw them, Apini walked out into the open clearing, just past the trees. To get their eyes onto her, Apini started to jump around where she was, almost like dancing about. Her movement quickly caught their eyes as planned, and they looked to her with surprised, but by no means fearful expressions. If anything, they looked more annoyed and startled than that. They started to converse out of the changeling's hearing range after a few seconds passed by, and the stallion dashed inside of the house again, returning back outside with a sword of a professional making in his hoof. After that, he began making his way toward the changeling at a quick pace.

He had taken the bait. And it made Apini doubly happy when she saw it was just him coming for her. For whatever reason that didn't concern her, the mare had stayed behind, though there was a look of concern on her face. One target was much easier to handle instead of two at once. With the stallion fast approaching, Apini backtracked into the forest and vanished into the foliage.

For a time, Apini avoided his sight, but didn't allow him to leave hers. Sometimes she would hide in the trees as he searched for her with a grimace and sword pointed forward. Other times she would move ahead and shift into the form of a small tree, then observe him as he unwittingly passed by. She would leave the occasional hint that would lead him into a preferable direction, such as purposefully breaking a twig or rustling a bush. Only when Apini knew he was too far away to be heard by the other pony at the house was when she chose to strike.

After she finished leading him astray to a small glade and ducked behind a bush, Apini dug up some items she had hidden in the dirt there. What she had kept stored was a pair of dime store fake blood packets, made to simulate the smell as well as appearance. They were the kind typically used for terrible pranks on the pony holiday of Nightmare Night, or plays put on in a theater. She had intended to split the two ponies up if they chased her at once and then use them, but now was even more perfect of a time to use them. After assuming the form of the stallion's dear wife and getting into character, Apini applied the packets' red liquid contents on varying parts of her body until it seemed realistic and walked into the glade. Chantilly detected the movement from the corner of his eye, but the second her saw her and pointed his sword her way, he froze and lowered it.

"Persica?!" he sputtered. "What the hell are you doing out here?!"

Apini almost wanted to snigger at how quickly he was starting to fall for her disguise, especially the face of horror he put on at seeing her 'wounds', but she stayed in character to keep that illusion up to her prey. Feigning a limping stagger, she pretended to trip after two steps and fell down upon the ground pitifully, keeping her one hoof over her red eye when she did so. "I-I followed you. You know I couldn't let you go off on your own, Chantilly!"

"Wh-what happened?! What did that creature do to you?" he cried, running up to her side and dropping the sword to the ground; oblivious to the trick being pulled on him in the flash of panic he was struck by.

"Heh. Don't w-worry about it. I handled the changeling myself," she lied. "Sure, my weapon's still impaled in its carcass, but I... got it."

"Even so, why did you put both yourself and the life of our child at risk? You're wounded!" he scolded. "You were in no condition to fight whatsoever, and now look at yourself! You're lucky to be alive!"

Child? thought Apini with a jolt of surprise. She managed to conceal it enough to Chantilly as he continued looking her over. Every time his hoof came close to where the fake blood seemed to originate from, she would flinch in faux-pain to make him take his hooves away. The mare's pregnant, eh? Apini continued to think on through all of it. So that's why she didn't follow. What to do about her...

"I'll... I'll run back to the house and grab some bandages," Chantilly eventually said in a gentle, albeit worried voice, standing back up. The second he spun around to rush off and make good on his word, he instead shook the idea out of his mind, not feeling quite right with leaving what he saw as his wife alone in the forest in such a condition. "No... no, I can't leave you out here." He turned his head and faced her direction. "Persica, if I'm going to patch you up, I'll get you out of this forest first, whether it will-"

Chantilly found himself unable to speak when he properly registered the dark, chitinous shape his green eyes then met. What was now standing before him was no longer his wife. It was a changeling, on its hole-filled legs and in a combative position. The same changeling that bore the red eye on its face; now along with a malefic grin on its fanged maw. Wiping some of the fake blood off of its form, the creature put her hoof onto his sword, still lying idly on the ground beside her, and kicked it back behind herself, out of his reach.

Her fangs bared, brow furrowed, and horn glowing a sickly green color, Apini savagely pounced upon Chantilly next before he could so much as yelp in startled surprise, ready to suck out every last drop of love he had and fulfill her duty to her queen.

Author's Note:

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