• Published 16th Apr 2020
  • 272 Views, 21 Comments

If You Would Friend a Tiger... - Coyote de La Mancha

Long ago, Princess Luna gave birth to a son from her own mystical essence. His name was Jack. She also made Jack a stuffed tiger to sleep and play with. This is his story.

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7) ...Learn His Special Name, and Love Him.

The changelings buzzed around one another, cold professional concern quickly giving way to panic. How? How had they been detected so quickly?

Their mission had been simple. Imitating inanimate objects and ornaments, they were to wait for their chance to assume the places of the prince consort and the daughter. Taking the places of the personal guards would probably make imitating the royal family easier. But they were their queen’s elite, her deadliest assassins, trained by the queen herself and armed with anti-magical amulets carved from her very throne. Thus, they’d been given a great deal of latitude on how they were to proceed.

The ultimate goal was for the royal family and their protectors, all save for Cadence herself, to be imprisoned and replaced. The Queen had decreed that this would be more satisfying than killing the princess outright, and nobug disobeyed the Queen.

As for how she would ultimately use the ponies in question… the changelings had shuddered and tried not to guess. There were things far worse than death, after all. But now, instead of capturing their targets, they were fleeing, the alarm sounding throughout the palace halls, every avenue of escape seemingly blocked by ponies or their magic.

Exchanging worried glances, they quickly conferred among themselves in the telepathic rapport of the Hive. If they remained, they would be captured. If they made it out, they might reach their queen to give a report, or they might not.

But if they returned to the queen without completing any part of their mission, whatever fate she had intended for their targets would be visited upon them instead.

With renewed determination born from sheer terror, the changelings flew as directly as they dared towards their secondary target. After all, Queen Chrysalis did not seek the pony monarch’s death. Not yet. First, she sought her pain. Her heartbreak.

And once a pony has children, they are never truly free again.

The toddler’s emotions were easy to sniff out, even in the crowded palace, even in the chaos and fear that ran rampant throughout its crystal halls. There were only two guards between the seven assassins and the nursery. They fell quickly enough. The changelings smashed the door in as the alicorn foal screamed, swarming murderously into the brightly painted chamber beyond.

* * * *

Shining Armor had never run so fast in his life.

There had been times before when he had quietly envied the ease with which his younger sister had mastered teleportation. It was something neither he nor his wife had ever learned. But only now did he curse whatever powers there were for keeping such a vital ability from them both.

All around him, everything was happening too fast, too fast. Almost as soon as the alarm had been sounded, the hue and cry of Changelings! had spread throughout the palace. And even as he’d begun running, Cadence had zoomed overhead, vanishing into the halls that curved before him. The oath that Chrysalis had sworn, years ago, echoing in both their terrified minds… even as a terrible roar filled the Royal Wing of the Crystal Palace.

I will destroy everything you hold dear. I will turn everything you love against you. I will take away every heart’s dream you have ever known.

And only then, only when all love is lost and all hope is gone from your soul… I will feel the life drain out of you!

In retrospect, the changeling response to a failed infiltration was all too obvious.

He knew he was too late as soon as he saw the shattered nursery door, the stunned guards staggering desperately to their hooves. He galloped through the portal, fearing the worst…

…and, miraculously, was greeted by the cries of their daughter, held in his wife’s arms.

For an unknowable time, the couple simply held their little girl and each other tightly, oblivious to all else, while the palace guards filed in and stationed themselves on both sides of the ruined door.

Then, slowly, Shining became aware of the guards’ hesitation as they entered, the quiet murmurings as they secured the room and the hall. With effort, he tore his attention away from his daughter and looked around himself.

The nursery had been all but completely destroyed. Only Flurry’s bed was unscathed.

The walls were streaked with the dark ichor that served as changeling blood, and scored deeply in multiple places with the unmistakable parallel furrows of gargantuan claws. Perhaps half a dozen of the buglike creatures lay here and there amid the wreckage of Flurry Heart’s toys and cabinets. It was hard to give an exact count: a few were badly bitten, but most of them had been torn apart.

Flurry began screaming something. With difficulty, Shining Armor tore himself out from his wife’s embrace and gave a quick search near the toddler’s bed.

“I-grrr!” Flurry cried tearfully. “I-grrr! I-grrr!”

Ah, there it was. Flurry’s tiger. One arm was hanging by a few orange threads, and there were multiple rips and gouges along the toy’s body. Some stuffing was hanging out where the damaged arm dangled.

One eye was missing as well, and crazily Shining Armor caught himself thinking, Well, it obviously wasn’t the killer’s eye he lost.

Shining returned almost immediately, shoving the stuffing back into place as he went, placing his newfound treasure into Flurry’s outstretched arms. She locked her arms around the toy with a satisfied “Hoff!” and then was quiet, eyes closed, safe with her parents around her and her guardian in her grasp.

Shining Armor wrapped his arms back around his family, holding them as tightly as he could.

“Thank you, Hobbes,” he whispered. “Thank you.”

Author's Note:

The origin of Chrysalis’ hatred for Cadence can be found here, along with a little more of Twilight’s foalhood.