• Published 29th Jun 2022
  • 2,743 Views, 51 Comments

Battle For Holed Hearts - David Silver

To rise against the tyrant. To taste victory. To become what you hated. He had experienced that loop and, given this chance, he would do it right this time. He would turn his suffering people on a better path from its tyrant, Queen Chrysalis.

  • ...

1 - To Repeat, To Change

He had to move. He wanted to move. But it was cramped, and the walls were close together. He pressed at them, but they did not give. He was trapped, and he couldn't breathe. It was time to escape, or die, and that choice seemed simple enough to make.

He bashed on the wall of his prison. His hands didn't feel quite right, but they could strike just fine. Dull thumps echoed off his ears as he struggled. Without thinking it entirely through, he headbutted the surface. It felt like something at the edge of his face caught on the hard surface. It broke with the force of his impact, creating a splintered web of cracks that he desperately scrambled at, forcing it to become larger, breaking open to cool air that rushed into his space. He could breathe!

Pushing through that space, he fell forward, splatting to the ground. A large presence watched over him and others... like him? They were grubs, wriggling and hissing at one another. He had no mirror to check, but... he was one too. He had just been born as a changeling. Fortunately for him, he had a whole life to figure out what that meant.

"Sir!" He saluted sharply at the larger changeling in front of him.

"At ease." The larger nodded at him with a grunt. "The queen has no specific task for us today."

"As if she ever does." He had learned all about Queen Chrysalis.

"Shut your trap." The older changeling thopped him across the snout. "You're too young to do anything important anyway. Patrol." He pointed down a tunnel. "And you'd better be paying attention."

"Sir!" He had a name, as a human, a lifetime ago. That life had ended. The folks that believed in reincarnation were apparently right, but he was fairly sure forgetting that past life was part of the package. Too bad for them, as he remembered it. He remembered the tyrant he had worked so hard against, so hard he had become the tyrant. He had died that tyrant. To be born subject of a new one.

Figures. Was that karma? Whatever. He wasn't that man anymore. He was Perception Gap, a changeling in training. He had four hooves, usually, a horn, also usually, and two buzzing wings, usually. All of those were optional. He had freedom of form. He could become an elephant, or a fly, or a rock if he wanted. He was still learning the tips and tricks of it, but it was all within reach of his hooves, or whatever he put at the end of his arms that day.

Perception frowned as he squinted down the rocky hallway. There wasn't much to see, and there rarely was but the passing other changeling. He wore his 'natural' form, as did most of the others. It was the quickest way to be sure another creature was a changeling too. A pony could be a pony, or a changeling pretending to be a pony. A changeling? Nobody is going to imitate a changeling in their hive, not if they're remotely sane.

"Perception!" A large form ambled towards him with a big goofy grin. "Where ya been?"

Perception knew the changeling speaking, one of his doofy friends. "Good to see you, Mirage. On patrol, so I'm going to keep right walking."

"And I'll walk with you." The two of them were both young changelings, maybe in their middle teens? "If we see something, I'll let you take the credit." He hissed, tongue flicking in the air. "So no problems."

"You're too nice." That was meant literally to a point. Changelings that were too nice were often picked on. "What's new, Mirage?" He crept to the corner of an intersection and peeked down it, only to see three other changelings walking away. Nothing strange there.

"We're besties. The rest can suck it. Besides, we're brothers!" He meant that literally, in a sense. They were brothers in two ways. The most important was that they had come from the same brood of eggs. When they were helpless grubs, they were together. "Ain't nothing going to break us up!"

Perception Gap knew that, according to many changelings, Mirage was ripe for taking advantage of, then tossing aside. He was too nice, in all the literal sense. Perception decided against that. "It's good to have you."

Mirage squeezed him with a leg thrown over Perception's back in a fierce one-armed hug. "It's good to be here, and to have you back, bro!"

"I didn't go anyway," laughed Perception as he hurried a step ahead of his affectionate freind. "You know they'll get on both our cases if they see us being too chummy."

"Well, sucks for them." That was one reason Perception kept him around. He had that rebellious spark, even in the face of potential punishment. "I'll check that way." He pointed down a new hallway. "Meet up back here after?"

"Sounds good." They met with a firm clop of hoof to hoof. Yes, it was good to have friends, the sort you could trust when things got real tense. It was also good to not get in trouble for no good reason. He hurried back to his patrolling task.

"You!" It was impossible to miss the stern shout of their 'glorious leader'.

Perception hurried before her with a salute. "Sir!"

Her nose twisted. "No, that sounds odd. Forget I ever mentioned it. Go back to ma'am, or your royal highness, hmm... I like that." Chrysalis chuckled darkly, considering her prideful self. "I have an important job, and your overseer says you're up for the task. Is he wrong?"

A trick question. Saying no to that would get both Perception and his overseer in big trouble. "I am ready, Your Royal Highness."

"You adapt quickly, I admire that..." Chrysalis thumped a hoof on his chest. "Focus it on seeing my will done, and the hive will feast well, hm? I have quite the adventure coming up. If we see it done, hunger will become a faint memory for us, at least for a little while."

"Your Royal Highness." He'd heard her claim that before. Sometimes she was even right, but she was terrible at managing things. Their food slipped away, and the hive went back to being hungry in short order, if they ever stopped being hungry for a little while. "What do you wish of me?"

"Infiltration." She bared her fangs in a feral display. "You know the ponies, do you not? We've limited our actions with them, but that is to change. They're overflowing with love, our love. Let's take it back... I need to know everything going on in their capitol. I need to know their defenses. I need to know their weaknesses. I want every scrap of information you can dig up, and I want it yesterday."

"Your Royal Highness." He didn't say bye, or wait for another response. Doing so usually invited her anger. She was like any other tyrant, ready to snap at any hint of delay in getting what she wanted. He lifted on buzzing wings and flew away instead.

He had heard of the ponies. Few were the changelings that hadn't heard of them, and practiced imitating them, among other creatures. As he flew, a flash of green flames saw his form vanish, replaced with flapping wings instead of buzzing ones. He became a dark grey pegasus with bright cyan mane and tail. His 'cutie mark', as they called it, was a line with two circles on it, towards the right side. The Perception Gap. He had felt quite clever when he thought that one up.

His fellow changelings had not gotten it. Being a changeling, his mark was entirely a creation of his own. It meant nothing, except it being something he picked. He wasn't imitating a specific pony. Good thing. Imitating specific creatures was a lot harder than being a literal new thing on the block.

The ponies didn't even blink when he moved in. They didn't object when he got a job. They only asked friendly questions, or ignored him, but mostly they were just casually friendly to his presence. They were open to infiltration, and with it, conquer. They would suffer and die beneath Chrysalis' hooves, fueled by the sweat and blood of the changelings under her, like himself.

Or he could change things. Change was what he was born to do... It was about time. She had a grand scheme he was helping her put together, but he had all the pieces... He could, and would, make it fall. It just took one missing step, a vital step. No tyrant toppler could hope to win without it, without a lot of power behind them. He was just one changeling, so raw power was out of the question.


"Nice place." Mirage was seated on his couch, bouncing on its soft texture with an almost-giggle. "Infiltrators have the best job. The most dangerous... but so many perks! You don't even have to live around Chrysalis."

"Not while I'm on duty, which I am." Perception turned to his round friend. "Chrysalis, she gets in the way, doesn't she?"

"Sometimes... don't tell anyling I said that!" He covered his mouth as if it would somehow cover his words already spoken. "I don't want to get in trouble."

"This is my house, far away from her." He paced slowly in front of Mirage. "And her power doesn't reach here. She wants it to... But what if it never did?"

"How would that happen?" He lifted his ear fins at Perception. "It's your job to make that happen."

"Which I will do. I don't have to succeed... Think of it, Mirage... Think... We changelings could use some... new management."

He went tenser by the moment, grasping desperately at the idea that terrified him. "But we only have one queen!"

"Who says the next has to be a queen?" He rolled his eyes. "Not like we're bees. We have boys and girls. The 'Queen' could be a guy or girl."

"Oh..." He sat back, gnawing at one of the holes in his legs. "You're scaring me a little... Is... Is everything alright, Perception?"

"No." It was time to be blunt. "But we can make it better. Mirage, I want to stand, against her, but I need help. Will you be the fifth hoof I never had?"

His eyes widened. "Hey! I'm already your bestie." He thumped himself on the chest. "You don't even have to ask that."

Perception smiled. It was just as he hoped. Mirage was his loyal follower. "Good! Then this is what we have to do." He waved the portly changeling closer. "I have to stay here, but you don't. In fact, they'd think it was odd if you didn't go back. That works out for us."

"It does?"

"It does." He turned Mirage towards the door. "Because we're going to get new friends. Go back, find the right ones. I'll teach you how." Spotting potential rebels was a skill he had picked up a life ago. The right ones. The kinds he wanted under him. "Follow my instructions and we'll both win. The entire hive will celebrate, and Chrysalis will stop being a failure of a queen."

"How are you so smart?!" He stomped in place in frustration. "You don't think like... Like most changelings I know..."

Most changelings he knew probably weren't former dictators. "You got me because I think odd. I'm not under any delusion that this isn't the case. You like my oddness. I like your oddness. We'll both benefit from our powers combined. Do what I say and we'll both win. Hm, and the ponies too. Poor saps, they don't deserve Chrysalis taking everything they own." He knew that was more than physical things. Chrysalis would take their love and will and leave them all drive-less husks that would eventually just die, staring at nothing with no will to move. "Let's save our people."

Author's Note:

And so we begin a new hike. Come with me! Let's talk in a dictator's holed hooves.

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