• Published 12th Dec 2018
  • 3,051 Views, 945 Comments

Child of the Invasion - Starscribe



The changeling army has taken control of Canterlot. While their queen secures her grip over this newly captured territory, what happens to the drones who made up her army?

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Epilogue: Mirror

Harlequin glanced briefly outside the walls, confirming what she’d already thought. There was a carriage moving down the road towards them, in Princess Luna’s colors. She could sense no terrible magic radiating out from within, though. The alicorn herself was not in attendance.

The hive was surrounded by royal guards, growing more numerous by the minute. Of course, they weren’t here to lay siege—the changelings within had already surrendered. Princess Luna’s staff moved through the hive, making notes and taking tallies. To make good on the princess’s promise, they’d have to know how many bugs had to be placed.

Behind her, a door squeaked, and she heard hooves making their way up. They walked a little closer, then stopped not far away. “Harlequin,” Codex said. “I heard you made it back. But some of the bugs down there were saying you’d turned us over to the ponies, or…”

She darted over to him, ignoring his protests and hugging him tightly. He didn’t fight, at least not much. “I did,” she said. “Mostly because I thought that Princess Celestia was the only way to stop Hydrus. But then I killed him, and some bugs ate him, and so that’s all taken care of.”

“I’m the last one to be upset about getting ponies involved in this mess.” Codex shoved her away, eyes wide. “Wait, what was that last part?”

“He’s dead.” The carriage was pulling up to the gates, passing through the soldiers. She could make out two figures inside. “Codex, you know I’m sorry about everything you’ve been through. I don’t… If I could’ve understood what being a changeling would do to you, I would’ve stopped it.”

He shrugged one shoulder. “Now you’re guilty? It’s a little late, bug. This is my life, better or worse. I have the same punishment waiting for me as the rest of you. And I’ll endure it, because at least I’ll know that Equestria is safe.”

“That’s noble of you,” Harlequin said, patting him on the shoulder. “But I don’t think it’s necessary. You should, uh… you should come with me.” She turned back for the stairs. “There’s some stuff I think you should see.”

He groaned, rolling his eyes a little at the comment. “That’s probably not… I’m not sure why you wanted to talk to me up here, if we were just going to go somewhere else.”

Even so, he followed her down the steps. “That new one thinks he’s in charge, but the drones listen to you. I think…” He lowered his voice. “I wonder if he would’ve hurt you otherwise. Pharynx really hates you.”

“I wonder why,” she repeated. “Was it our last ruler using me to trick him into a trap and getting most of his friends murdered, or turning over the hive to pony authorities? I should be the most popular bug in the hive after this.”

“Oh, yeah.”

They left the stairs, rounding the corner into the courtyard. Pony soldiers milled about, all armed, but none feeling terribly threatened. Nopony in the hive had fought them since they arrived. A few of them had probably been here as customers, they knew they weren’t in danger.

Through the line of soldiers, the little carriage rolled to a stop. Its captain, a stallion in a purple uniform, hopped down, hurrying towards her without opening it. He stopped in front of the two of them, seeming unafraid of just how changeling she was. “I’m looking for the one called Harlequin. You don’t have cutie marks, and… I’m ashamed to admit you all look the same to me.”

“I’m Harlequin,” she said. “Are you going to ask about Codex next?”

He stared for a few seconds, before nodding hastily. “That’s… yes, exactly. You knew I was coming then.”

“I hoped,” she answered. “I’ve already got more than I deserved today. I guess I hoped I might be able to get a little more.” She nudged Codex forward with her wings, gesturing at the carriage. “Thanks for your help, Codex. Thanks for teaching me, and the other bugs.”

“I don’t understand.” He glanced back at the low building that concealed the passage into the hive, then back at her. “What is this? Harlequin, am I… did you expedite my trial or something?”

The carriage door clicked open. A little pony head poked out, a cream-colored unicorn with bright green eyes. She stared across the clearing at them, fearful at what she saw. Even this filly had apparently seen enough during the invasion to be afraid.

But Codex melted. He shuddered, nearly collapsing under the pressure. His eyes got wider, and his voice cracked. “How?” he asked. “Harlequin… what’s going on?”

She shrugged. “I told the princess about you. They understand changelings a lot better than they did. There’s this noble named Irongate, you remember him? He told Luna everything. There’s no reason for you to be punished.”

Codex flashed briefly with magic, something he’d been practicing from the look of it. He went from an average-sized male to a unicorn stallion, taller than she was and with an unruly mane. She couldn’t remember everything exactly, but it looked pretty close.

The filly sure recognized him. She squealed suddenly, ignoring the protests of the pony in the carriage and darting down towards them. It was an awful lot of love for one place, and she’d already eaten today.


Some years later…

Harlequin tossed her uniform into the locker with everything else, slamming it closed with a hollow bang. The moisture of her shower was still wet on her coat, but she still wanted to look like a pony. She shook herself out a few times, using a little magic to straighten her mane. She didn’t smell like pony sweat anymore, and that was probably good enough for Apple Cinnamon.

He met her out in the Watch offices a few hours later. To her surprise, though, he wasn’t alone. Azure Sigil walked beside him, still in uniform and with a folder in her magic. Apple Cinnamon felt confused, maybe a little frightened. But Sigil was excited. “Harlequin,” she said, before Cinnamon could say anything. “Good to see you again.”

There was always a little tension in her voice when she spoke. There could be no forgetting that once, Harlequin’s manipulation had basically cost her a career. She was still in the Guard, but being Harlequin’s parole officer was hardly a promotion.

“You too,” she said, shaking hooves politely. She didn’t abandon the disguise—like all changelings who still had time to serve, Harlequin wore a dark metal necklace at all times, with a little green hexagon hanging from it. “Have I done something wrong? I didn’t think we had another review until next month.”

Not that she needed it. Her chosen uniform shape was familiar to both these creatures. Apple Cinnamon knew it intimately.

“Nothing wrong,” Sigil said, gesturing down the hall a little at a table and set of low cushions. “I was just talking to Apple Cinnamon about an opportunity in the Solar Guard. Something… I think both of you might be interested in.

Harlequin obeyed, though some part of her was a little annoyed to have her evening interrupted. She was already doing her time for Equestria, what more could the Guard want?

“It’s interesting stuff, Harlequin,” Cinnamon said. “You’ll want to hear it.”

Azure Sigil flipped open her binder for the two of them. “I knew you wouldn’t want to take the position unless Officer Cinnamon was going too. I’ve already spoken to him, and he’s open to the possibility.”


Harlequin nodded once. “What is it?”

“Something that could end your debt to Equestria in two more years instead of ten,” Sigil said. “I know you… like your work. But there’s somewhere you could do more than just catch petty criminals and help old nags cross the road. A place frightening enough that most ponies don’t last three months. But several changelings are already serving there, and not one has returned prematurely.”

“You’re talking about…” Harlequin’s eyes widened. “Through that mirror portal. You’re trusting bugs to go there now? I thought that place was… innocent. None of the ponies over there even knew they had magic. Aren’t you worried I’ll… mess them up?”

Sigil shook her head. “We’re not letting just anyone go. They need to have a record serving Equestria. You do.”

“It’s bad over there, Harley,” Apple said. “Their own countries are hunting them down, locking them away so their magic won’t spread. Shoved into a dark cage, maybe never to be released.”

She tensed, sitting up in her seat. “You need someone to save them? You’re desperate enough to take a bug like me?”

“Yes,” Sigil said, pushing the file towards her. The text was so dense that Harlequin didn’t stand a chance of reading it, though much of it did seem familiar. If she had a few hours, she could probably sound it out word by word. “Frankly, Harlequin, those ponies over there would be lucky to have anyone. Changeling or not.”

The important part was there, though. Another copy of this contract, with Apple Cinnamon’s signature on it already. He was willing to go. If he thought it was safe, then… it was probably safe. She lifted up the pen in her magic, and signed her name. Awkward and clumsy, but it was hers. “I’m in.”

Author's Note:

So that's the end of the story. Feels kinda crazy to have made it this far, with as long as this one has been going. Huge thanks to those who read all the way through, your comments were a joy to read, even when you were calling me out.

For those who don't know, Harlequin has previously appeared in my works--her first appearance was in my interpretation of Equestria Girls, "Friendly Fire." Anyone curious about where her story goes next can check it out here:

https://www.fimfiction.net/story/330783/friendly-fire

Thanks again for reading along, and to TyrannisUmbra for sponsoring this story. They gave me just about complete creative control to write the changeling invasion hinted at in Friendly Fire however I wanted, and I really had a blast.

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PreviousChapters
Comments ( 40 )
TCC56 #1 · Oct 30th, 2019 · · 1 ·

And so one of my favorite fics comes to a close - it's been a great ride. Thanks for an awesome tale, Starscribe.

And I'm hoping that last bit really is a sequel hook. I'd love to see more of Harlequin! If not - it's still great to see her get the happy ending she deserved.

Well this just got dark. First we need to see how EqG Earth got that messed up in the first place.

Sad to see this end. But... sequel hook? When will you be able to start that one? And how different will it be from “hostile history” (other than past equestrian “evils” not being around)?

If that's not a sequel hook, I don't know what it is,

Not bad, but I was expecting a final scene with the Unturning planning her next move.

Well. Heck of a note to end on. This was a fascinating adventure, full of rises and falls. Thank you for it. And if you should happen to expand on that mission through the mirror...

Well, we'll see what happens. For now, Harlequin has the sort of happy ending she can appreciate: love, work, and helping those who can't help themselves. I can think of no better sendoff for this part of her life.

Edit: Oh. I keep meaning to read Friendly Fire. Hopefully this will get me to break the inertia.

The adventure continues!

This story...I'm going to try to be vague here because I don't want to start anything up again. Those who know, know. But I started reading this story at a time on this site where I was in a bad way. Another series involving changelings I had been following, and loving, took a turn for the worse. And I'm not talking about bad things happening to people who don't deserve it, that happens in some stories and I can deal with that. Rather, it's because the series just sort of structurally imploded on itself as the author apparently had little care for the world, characters, and plot he was writing, instead focused on...you know, damned if I can really tell other than just putting creatures through Hell and mistaking that for depth.

So while I dealt with that implosion...in not the best way I could have...I also started looking around for other changeling stories that seemed better put together, better written. I found two in relatively short order since they kept hitting the feature box: The Bug in the Basement, and Child of the Invasion. The former was ceaselessly saccharine, incredibly soft and fluffy. It had its dark moments but it was always clear that it was going to have some manner of happy ending. So that helped sooth my soul.

This one...like I said months ago, this story could have ended with Harlequin standing triumphant, or Harlequin dead in a ditch, and in either case I would have been satisfied because the story was good, the plot was engaging, the characterization was consistent, and the world made sense according to its own internal logic. Of course I'm happy that Harley got a happy ending, that the changelings in this story are going to get the help they need, and so on. But more pointedly, I'm happy that things made sense. That everything in this story fits together. There are unanswered questions, of course, but not glaring ones, not ones that undermine the very premise of the story.

Starscribe, you wrote an engaging story. An entertaining story. But you also wrote a good story. One where the pieces fit together snugly. There was never a sense of you as the author forcing certain things through because you needed stuff to happen. There was a flowing beginning, middle, and end.

And I look forward to reading more.

That was a good read, as always.
The EqG stuff sounds like you are holding a door open for a sequel or at least a way to use two or your established characters again.
While i do not particularly like EqG i might give it a try if its written by you, in my book Starscribe kinda became a quality seal.

Tying back around to Friendly Fire, then?

9914842
Ah ha, thanks. I'm interested in seeing where Harley goes from here.

So this was Harley! That is really brilliant

Sequel? Prequel? Crossover with another author?

“Was it our last ruler using me to trick him into a trap and getting most of his friends murdered, or turning over the hive to pony authorities?"

Well, when you put it like that, I suppose I can see how Pharynx might take issue with you. :rainbowlaugh: I suspect he'll largely get over it eventually, though. He's a smart bug, he'll see the former was out of Harlequin's control and did not have her support, and the latter really will be for the better in the long run, assuming the transition period for all parties continues to go smoothly, and it seems like it did.

Besides, her actions quite likely helped to save/preserve Thorax's life, and we all know that's no small matter for Pharynx. :raritywink:

I still feel like it all wrapped up a bit too cleanly and quickly, but admittedly not nearly as badly as I had first feared. :twilightsmile: I had forgotten that it had been indicated from the beginning that this fic was to tie in with others Starscribe had written (which I've not read), but remembering that does help fill in some of those blanks and explains why the story ends the way it does. Plus, I think the intent was to allow this fic to stand mostly on its own if needed, so the ties to the rest of the related lore was kept to a minimum with that goal in mind. Still, I feel like there's still a few more points that would've been nice if touched on or explored with a bit more depth, namely what happened to Irongate and how Harley and Apple Cinnamon's reunion and eventual budding into a relationship during that time skip went, even if in brief...but I'm content enough with this, I guess. I suspect a couple of these would be addressed if I go and read the related works now, so I can't exactly press the matter much.

It's that closure to Codex's arc that really works for me, though. It's short, its simple, but it accomplishes precisely the right goals it needed to, and feels just right of an ending for Codex, so kudos on that. :pinkiehappy:

And I'll say it again, this is definitely one of the best of Starscribe's works I've read, so if nothing else, walk away with that in your mind. :twilightsmile:

Great story.

Never realized this was a prequel though I haven't read those stories yet. I will now.

As always, good work Star. Can't wait to see your next works.

Posdible sequel? I am interested.

9914951
Sequel was written years ago, though Harley is a side / only semi main character of it

9914890
Ah, one of the few I still haven't gotten to... well and the sequel, obviously

9914842

Crap. I was hoping to forget Starscribe's version of TCB. Not one of his best stories :pinkiesick:

“I wonder why,” she repeated. - No she didn't. "responded", maybe?

What a great journey it's been. I'm pleased to have been a part of it! And reading all the comments from people saying how this story has affected them makes me pleased for ultimately going with this one rather than the other ideas I had. And you definitely didn't disappoint! I'm glad I decided to stay as hands-off as possible.

For everyone reading, I'd like to reiterate what Star and others have said: more of Harlequin's story can be found in Friendly Fire as well as its (other) prequel, Unwilling Recruit.

Thank you for the great story and for some memorable characters.

I kinda thought she'd be a queen now. And going through the mirror? Huh.

A very nice stroy. Well written and having changelings in a story is always great.

Comment posted by ha41 deleted Oct 31st, 2019

Even so, he followed her down the steps. “That new one thinks he’s in charge, but the drones listen to you. I think…” He lowered his voice. “I wonder if he would’ve hurt you otherwise. Pharynx really hates you.”

Pharynx wouldn't be happy if he wasn't unhappy about something.

Yay, Codex gets his family back.

Nice to finally see Azure again, but man, that's pretty rough that the changeling invasion and aftermath derailed her life so badly.

Not that she needed it. Her chosen uniform shape was familiar to both these creatures. Apple Cinnamon knew it intimately.

Oh really now. Integration is apparently going well.

“It’s bad over there, Harley,” Apple said. “Their own countries are hunting them down, locking them away so their magic won’t spread. Shoved into a dark cage, maybe never to be released.”

Ahhhhhh, I get it. Didn't realize this was going to straight up be a prequel, just figured it was a shared character concept.

What a surprise!

This has been a wonderfull journey. Enjoyed it thoroughly

What happened with Chrysalis and the changelings that didn't end up in Canterlot?

9918415

Not. really. She is a control freak who decided ponies were going to become her puppets and play by her rules...or else.
Kinda like a godlike version of Shrek´s Fairy Godmother.

I did not make the connection until now and I feel terribly stupid. Hah.
Well done.

Oh, oh wow, this was a prequel. I haven't read that in a few years, so I didn't see it coming at all; nice.

This story fell apart to me around the Brothel bit. Went off the rails there and never really recovered. I really enjoyed parts of this story. But overall it felt a little off.

10012536
You don't get it. It's way too convenient for the story. There's no doubt. It's like the excuses lay themselves before she can think of them.

Great read. Love your take on it all and the sequel with Harlequin mentioned is good, too. I'll comment on it, too.

Wow. I can say that not once did this story follow the path I expected... And I enjoyed every unexpectable word of it. Thank you for writing it, and now I've got a new story to read...

This was the first fanfic I ever read. I got into fanfiction pretty late, and this story was what started it all for me. This story introduced me to something that I'm now very passionate about. I just finished reading this for my second time.

I've had this on my favorite list on my user page for as long as I can remember, and a few days ago, I was reading a really good fic, and I thought to myself "Should I really keep Child of the Invasion on my favorites list just because it's nostalgic?" So, I decided to reread to see if it still deserved it's fifth place spot. Answer: No. It deserves to be bumped UP. This is not a 'fifth favorite' kind of story. This story is amazing and beautiful, and it deserves a place on everyone's favorites list. At least everyone with good taste. :raritywink:

I'll admit, it had some grammar errors, and there were things that probably could've been better, but all of that pales in comparison to all the wonderful things about it. This story's character development is SO well done. Harlequin's arc is so satisfying, Codex's is believably annoying (in a good way), and somehow you manage to have a well done arc for Apple Cinnamon even though he appears fairly seldomly.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this both times, and there's a slight chance that I'll copy paste the whole story, put it on Google Docs, and print all of it on my ridiculously old printer so that I have a paperback. Would I be spending my life savings on all of the printer paper that I'd need? Probably. Would it be worth it? ...That remains to be decided.

I'd also love to see a detective mystery style story about Harlequin and Apple Cinnamon solving their first case together. (You know, catching one of those 'petty criminals'.) It could also include info on Harley and Apple's relationship, and how she deals with being in a real relationship after her experience in the brothel. It could also show Apple Cinnamon's reaction to seeing her again while knowing for certain that it was actually her. Am I allowed to write a fanfiction of a fanfiction? I mean, obviously I wouldn't do the story justice, but I can't afford Starscribe's Patreon, so... Unless she takes pity on me and decides to write it for free, (:twilightblush: PLEASE!) that probably won't happen.

Starscribe, if you're reading this, please know that your writing is truly inspiring people. Seeing as you're quite popular on this site, you probably didn't need to hear that from someone like me, but regardless, it's true. Keep writing!

10394092
Thanks so much for taking the time to tell me. Learning that a story really reached someone is always enough to make my day. I know nothing I've written is perfect, and sometimes I get caught up dreading all my old work for all its faults. But knowing that people can still enjoy it despite my failings helps keep this whole writing thing worthwhile. I'm flattered you enjoy the story so much, and honored that you think Child is worthy of such recognition.

Finally finished this. I am glad our main character didn't become a villain or a slave. My expectations are shattered with a happy ending. While the ponies are in perpetual enslavement from The Unturned the setting itself remain a gray on gray. Far different from most of the works I've read.

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