• Published 11th Feb 2021
  • 1,140 Views, 44 Comments

Changeling in a Changing Land - Podrick Equus

After Queen Chrysalis learns of a faraway island nation inhabited by harmonious changelings, she sends a diplomat to learn more about them, and to make them an offer.

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1 - Arrival in Blosmport

Gerhard Kopieren was no stranger to different cultures. As a member of Chrysalis' spy network, VOPS, he had undergone dozens of operations in all sorts of places. He'd infiltrated communities and governments all across Equus, and had even had the pleasure of visiting Griffenheim years back as a part of an old military partnership that Chrysalis used to maintain with the Griffonian Empire.

But this... this was new.

Gerhard looked through the periscope of the transport submarine he had spent the last several weeks in. He saw a port not too far away, and he also had spotted several primitive looking ships scattered around it. Though none of the structures surrounding the port looked very advanced, it seemed to be a fairly active place. He took a deep breath.

He'd reached Blosmport, the capital city of Greneclyf. An entire country of Changelings on the other side of the world.

Truthfully, up until now Gerhard had thought that this entire mission was an elaborate prank. Harmonious changelings? On a remote island? And they wanted to have a cultural exchange? He had feared that he was being quietly disposed of due to his recent unsatisfactory performance, but now he realized that his boss had been serious.

"We'll be surfacing soon," said the submarine's Helm.

"Right." Gerhard nodded. "I'll go get ready."

Gerhard retreated to his quarters to gather his things. He looked around the small room, taking stock of it once again. There was something awe-inspiring about these war machines that the shipyards spat out, the brutal efficiency that went into their design. He couldn't quite place his hoof on exactly what feature of this submarine he liked the most, but he felt at ease, despite how cramped it could feel sometimes.

He still missed his home, though. The massive hives at Vraks was the only place where he could truly relax. He recalled having a view of a local nursery from his abode. Though he would never admit it, he took great joy in spending hours watching the little grubs mingle with each other.

That was a different time, though. Now he was one of the more effective spies within VOPS, and he personally had a hoof in destabilizing the Equestrian Government leading up to the Alicorn Sunset, Chrysalis' grand invasion of Equestria. He was often picked first for important missions due to his invaluable expertise... ignoring his recent track record, of course. He had fumbled his law few infiltrations in Manehatten and Fillydelphia, leading to some of his friends being captured. Gerhard sighed, hoping that they were okay.

As he turned his thoughts to the mission at hoof, he recalled what little information he knew about Greneclyf: They weren't very technologically advanced, as evidenced by their first contact with the Changeling Fleet. They had arrived on an unarmed wooden sailboat, of all things! And to top it off, they had somehow made the journey through heavily guarded waters during wartime without alerting anyling. Perhaps the fact that they were also changelings gave them an edge at staying undetected.

He also knew that they were friendly, not just to other changelings, but seemingly to almost everycreature. That part was puzzling, maybe they were discreetly using them for feeding purposes?

They had given a strange piece of tapestry to the port master who had greeted them, one that seemed to radiate a small but unending supply of love. Gerhard wondered how they had created such a thing. How many ponies' worth of love it must have taken to enchant it? They had also expressed interest in visiting again, and had given the port master a crudely drawn map that seemed to invite them to their homeland.

The port master had immediately informed VOPS about this encounter, thus setting plans for a diplomatic mission into motion.

Gerhard's objectives were two-fold: He was officially supposed to create an alliance between Greneclyf and Changelingia, or a simple trade agreement if that wasn't possible. His much more important mission was to learn as much as he could about them: How did they create that tapestry of endless love? Did they have any strange spells that could be utilized in the war effort? Did they have any active spy networks?

Gerhard picked up a sealed letter from Chrysalis meant for whoever the Greneclyf Queen was and slipped it into his bag. He packed the few supplies he had and returned to the submarine's control room. The Commanding Officer of the sub was there, tapping his hoof impatiently.

"Took your sweet time, Schrulle. I assume you're ready?" he asked curtly.

Gerhard paid no mind to the Captain's tone. "Yep. How soon until we-"

"Now," interrupted the Captain, pointing a hoof up towards the lower hatch, where the sub's lookout was already starting to open it.

Gerhard frowned internally. He had met some stiff lings over the years, but the ones in the military seemed to be especially difficult to work with. Those in charge of the naval vessels seemed to be even worse. How did anyling even put up with them?

Gerhard nodded and walked to where the Captain had pointed. The lookout twisted open the hatch, revealing a ladder that led upwards, then climbed up to get in position for the upper hatch. Gerhard followed suit. Soon he'd be free from the hot, cramped sub. After that, it'd be a long three months until his entourage came to pick him up.

The Captain sternly looked at Gerhard as he climbed up. "Don't screw this up, Schrulle. Chryssie wants the support of these primitives."

"I'm sure that they're not that primitive, they are changelings after all." replied Gerhard as he reached the upper hatch.

"Ha. Well you'll find out, won't you now? We will be back in three months' time. Good luck, Schrulle." The Captain saluted him as one of his subordinates closed the lower hatch.

Gerhard watched the lookout struggle with opening the final hatch. Somehow, he felt that something would go awry. He had a knack for knowing when things would go sideways, and his senses were telling him that this would be no ordinary mission. Still, he had nowhere to go but forward. Or up, in this case. The lookout grunted as he opened the hatch, revealing the bright sunlight overhead. It was almost blinding.

Gerhard then noticed that the air was quite brisk. It seemed that even during the summer, a place this far north was still somewhat chilly. As he looked over the edge of the submarine, he saw that the calm waters of the sea were shimmering. Small waves could be heard splashing against the side of the vessel.

He turned his attention towards the island in front of him. He could see groups of changelings buzzing about, doing... whatever it is they do here. Despite being a master of infiltration, he felt like he would have a very difficult time fitting in here.

And besides, he reminded himself, this is a diplomatic mission, so I don't have to sneak in. They know I'm coming... I hope.

The lookout whistled as he watched the same scenic view. "'What do you think they'll be like?"

Gerhard squinted as he spotted what looked like a group of smaller changelings chasing each other through the air. "With any hope, they'll be just like us."

The lookout nodded. "Aye. Best of luck, Kumpel."

As the lookout closed the hatch, the submarine immediately began submerging itself. Evidently the captain had no patience at all. With another deep breath, Gerhard extended his wings and began flying the rest of the way to the port.

As Gerhard set hoof onto the wooden planks of the port, he suddenly felt very out of place. He was wearing a stock uniform from the Changeling Armada, complete with false medals and unearned stripes that made him seem more diplomatically important than he really was. In stark contrast, several of the locals wore knotwork-covered attire, and some had burly coats covering most of their bodies. Many were looking at him curiously, and some got closer to him than he would have liked.

As he walked through the port and into the city proper, he got the feeling that he was being followed. He turned around to see a few younger changelings tailing him.

One of them, a drone clad in a brown tunic, approached him with a smile. "Dia duit a chara nua!" she chimed excitedly, extending her forehooves for an embrace.

"Uh..." Gerhard was taken aback. Noling had told him that they spoke a different language! He backed away slightly out of uncertainty.

The female changeling tilted her head, and her expression turned to one of worry. "An bhfuil tú ceart go leor?"

Gerhard's eyes rapidly swapped between her and the approaching group of changelings that were gathering around him. Being the center of attention had always put him on edge, and the fact that he had no idea what they were saying didn't help at all.

He wondered why Chrysalis had decided to send him instead of a proper negotiator.

A slight tap on his back got Gerhard's attention. As he turned, he was met with the brilliant blue eyes of a slightly larger changeling clad with a much nicer tunic. This one had a mane, unlike the others. Gerhard blinked in surprise. A royal? What was a royal caste doing here? He hadn't seen a male royal in years, and he hardly expected to see one walking amongst the drones.

The blue-eyed changeling gave him a gentle smile and spoke with an equally gentle voice. "Glac lenár bhfáilte, le do thoil, ní bhíonn aíonna againn go minic."

Gerhard stared at him cluelessly. Their language didn't sound like anything he'd ever heard before, it was like they had developed it in isolation for hundreds, maybe even thousands of years!

He was going to strangle his boss when he returned to Vraks.

A few of the locals began to murmur in their unknown tongue, so Gerhard decided this was the time to take his leave. "I, ah, need to go. Thanks."

Gerhard saw an opening and the crowd and quickly trotted through it, trying to process what he should do now. He made his way through the cobblestone streets to a quiet alley behind a stone building and rubbed his forehead in frustration. How was he supposed to negotiate with them if they didn't share a language? How did such a critical detail like that get missed during his briefing? How?!?

He slumped against the cold wall and sighed in exasperation. This was going to be a very long three months. If he couldn't pick up on their language, then he'd have to find some other way of communication. Until then, he'd need to find a suitable local to replace and feed off-

Gerhard's eyes went wide with realization. His tried and true tactics were utterly useless here. He couldn't impersonate a local to feed off of the love they received. Not only were they were changelings like him, he also couldn't afford to be on poor terms with them. They would likely be able to see through any disguises he put on as well.

He racked his brain, trying to think of a way to convey his thoughts to the locals. Perhaps they might know the Old Tongue of the Changelings? It was possible... though Gerhard wasn't very skilled in the various clicks, trills, and hisses that went into the language. He cursed himself for not paying better attention in school all those years ago.

Perhaps if he could find a translator, he could get them to bring him to whoever was in charge. Gerhard figured that it was possible the Greneclyfians had been in contact with Riverland ponies far south of their island. Being well versed in Ponish from his time spying in Equestria, he hoped that there might be a trader here who had visited the Riverlands and picked up some Ponish.

Yes, that might just work... Gerhard mused as he prepared himself to venture out of alleyway. He'd need to find a trader who knew Ponish, and if that meant dusting off his embarrassingly rough Old Tongue, then so be it.

Gerhard picked himself up, then returned to the streets of Blosmport.

Author's Note:

I always thought it'd be fun if there were more interactions between Greneclyf and the Changeling Lands, but (at the time of writing) their current in-game interactions are... minimal, to say the least. I hope that you will enjoy this.