• Published 6th May 2019
  • 3,072 Views, 268 Comments

Walk Where There Is No Path - theOwtcast

When everything you’ve ever known goes against everything you believe in, can leaving help you live with yourself?

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Doubts and Fears

Night fell just as I reached the end of the wasteland and entered a forest. I would have to find shelter soon. A hollow tree provided a suitable one. Only upon entering the safety of its interior did I dare to remove my disguise. Even if the team of changeling hunters hadn’t noticed me, there was no telling what other threats may have been out there... for example, another group of changelings disguised as elements of scenery, keeping watch over the three undisguised ones. I’d used a similar trick to escape the hive; it would be a sad irony to get defeated by failing to see through another’s.

Sleep didn’t come lightly that night. Despite my best efforts to remain still and silent and get some much-needed rest, I kept tossing and turning most of the night, only half asleep and jerking awake at every tiniest crack or rustle. Dawn had already shone through the cracks of my hollow by the time my troubled mind gave way to exhaustion.

I spent the entire day in the hollow of my tree. The changeling hunters would have probably left for their new mission by now, but I didn’t want to run into them if they had any unfinished business to deal with, whether or not it was related to me. It didn’t matter; staying in one place gave me the peace and quiet I needed to think about recent revelations. Cancelling the hunt for me seemed straightforward enough: if it really had been seven months, it made little sense to keep looking for something, or someone, that had vanished without a trace. I still couldn’t believe I really hadn’t left a trace for them to find! Surely they could have found out about me from the buffalo, or those unicorn twins, or the zebra! Even if they’d had no sure way of knowing it had been me - which was unlikely considering I’d made the mistake of introducing myself to Little Strongheart with my own name, let alone the fact that few changelings ever dared to even consider turning their back on the hive and leaving like I had - following rumors would have given them at least a suspicion, a rough estimate of where to start looking! Had they even bothered to ask? An experienced infiltrator would have known which disguise to use to avoid suspicion among non-changelings and which questions to ask to get honest answers! Would I have stood a chance against hunters if they’d been using the skills of an infiltrator in such a way, either one deployed with a particular team or one already in place at a particular location? I seriously doubted it: I’d been sighted too many times; someone was bound to mention something to them assuming the teams hadn’t already been around to witness the occasions! It would appear the hunters had been searching for me only visually, avoiding all contact outside a team and counting on a random chance of running into me. But that didn’t make any sense! Chrysalis was far too experienced to ignore, or fail to notice, that flaw in the hunters’ strategy!


Maybe it hadn’t been Chrysalis who had planned and approved that strategy.

I came to realize that could also explain why I’d spent so much time in a cocoon. What if part of that nightmare hadn’t been a dream? Could it have really happened? Could someone have been looking after me all along, saving me from trouble once again when I’d had no way of saving myself, then putting me back in my cocoon to heal the injuries I’d received in the process? Being cocooned twice in quick succession could have easily lasted seven months, and if I’d indeed been under the effect of a substance that could mess with my most recent memories like I’d started to suspect was the case with changeling venom, it made sense I wouldn’t remember the short interlude in which something might have happened to require another period of cocooned healing, or that the memories of such an event could be strange and twisted. Though it would have been such a relief to know I could count on someone to help me out, such a possibility seemed to fantastic, too unreal to consider!

Of course, I could have been wrong on all accounts: maybe they’d discovered me already and were trying to confuse me or lull me into a false sense of security so they could lure me into a trap. But did they even need a trap? Even if that crazy theory was correct, they could have dealt with my protector and taken me while I’d still been in the cocoon or immediately after I’d gotten out! They could have also dealt with my supposed protector later if they hadn’t realized in time that there had been one, and I would’ve been in no condition to resist them on my own, especially if I’d had to do it twice! I found it hard to believe they wouldn’t have noticed something had been off sooner or later! So why complicate things? Were they simply having fun torturing me like that? Or was this terrible uncertainty part of my punishment for running away? If that was the case, did I still stand a chance of getting myself out of it?

Realizing I’d gone too far into overanalyzing the matter, I forced myself to move onto something else. Freaking out over all kinds of elaborate deception scenarios, real or imagined, would get me nowhere!

The new mission they were being sent on presented another puzzle. Even the team leader didn’t know the particulars, but it seemed like something big was coming up. But what? I didn’t have much personal experience in going on missions, but from what I’d picked up from Pharynx and other changelings, I could assume that few missions involved such level of secrecy to keep even those involved in the dark until the last possible moment. The invasion of Canterlot had been widely advertised throughout the hive since the first stages of preparation - even the larvae must have known about it - and that one had been considered one of the most important battles in changeling history! What could possibly be so important to enforce such secrecy all of a sudden? Was it simply a consequence of my escape, an increased security measure in case any other changelings tried to leave, a precaution against them revealing tactical information to the enemy? Or was something really incredibly, insanely huge about to go down - something of even bigger importance than the Canterlot invasion? And what? Another invasion was the most obvious possibility, until I remembered that only a dozen of changelings were to be involved, assuming all the teams were the same size. What could a dozen changelings accomplish when thousands had failed last time? Okay, they were supposed to get backup, but there couldn’t be that many drones involved as backup, or the plan would be widely known from the start; there'd have been little point in hiding anything.

So, what was going on? The most obvious way to find out would be to simply follow them in disguise... but as much as I was dying to find out, it was simply too big a risk.

As much as I didn’t like it, I would most likely have to wait for them to set in motion whatever it was they were planning. Hopefully, I may be able to throw a wrench in their plan in time to stop or slow them down before they could do too much damage! I had already failed to help their victims once. For the life of me, I wasn’t going to let it happen again if I could help it!