• Published 3rd Apr 2023
  • 2,170 Views, 177 Comments

A Change in Darkness - David Silver

Bat ponies were a convenient hiding place. Few knew of their true nature, if they even really existed, so he could pretend to be one and get few hard questions. A pity one princess knew more than most, and would not be casually brushed aside.

  • ...

10 - Family Concerns

"You look haunted." Piercing shook himself out, not wearing the armor at the moment, so no wings on display. "Shouldn't you be happy? You led that, and it worked out pretty well."

"Thanks." Skyline brushed his pelt with the brush held in a wing, working slowly through the soft fur. "The mission was fine. Good job, by the way."

"Thanks!" Piercing tapped at his chin. "One thing bothers me, just a little. The way we do it, we can't see who hit what. Patty was watching, right? She didn't say who actually scored the shots."

"She doesn't have to." He ran the brush over the top of his head, getting his mane in order. "Especially not in the sitrep. That the tower was hit and went down was the important bit of info, along with none of us getting hurt doing it, and we didn't murder them in the process."

"Yeah, sure..." Piercing snuck up on Skyline, not that he was all that stealthy. "But aren't you curious? We carry that big boulder, I'd like to know what mine did."

Skyline worked the numbers in his head, imagining the rock he dropped at the angle he dropped it. He could see it clearly, in his mind, crashing against the support of the tower with a mighty crash. He was sure he was one of the two boulders that hit directly, helping bring it down. "Well... In the end, we're a team. If we get the job done, together, we're doing it right."

"Too damn modest!" Piercing swatted and punched at Skyline with a laugh, looking far more amused than actually upset. "Now what has you looking so odd?"

"Well..." He hadn't been told it was a secret thing... But it was embarassing... Still... "This will sound odd. Remember the questions Luna asked about?"

Piercing tensed. "Hard to forget! What about it?"

Skyline directed a wing at himself. "She wants to do that, to me. Or with me, I guess. She wants me to get so full of love... Um...." He was coloring despite his efforts to just relay it. "To get so fat I can't do anything else but to make an egg. That would be the first real batpony, in theory."

Piercing blinked slowly, working through that with his namesake thoughts. "Huh... I know changelings aren't ponies... So set me straight. With ponies, you need a boy and a girl pony. You know what they do, right?"

Skyline shoved Piercing back. "I know more about how ponies make ponies than how changelings make changelings. Yes, I know how that works. Why are you even bringing that up?"

Piercing shrugged helplessly. "I'm just wondering, do you need to get cuddly with a lady... or a guy? If you're the one making the egg... Are you being the lady?"

Skyline narrowed his eyes at Piercing. "Whether I make an egg or not, I am a guy." But his expression eased. "Silly ponies. Changelings don't work that way. If you could turn into a dragon at any moment, and one day you breathed some fire, does that make you a dragon? Of course not. You'd still be a pony. A pony that can be a dragon. I'd be a guy that laid an egg, because he can be whatever he wants."

"Oh..." Piercing sat up, brushing his chin with the flat of a hoof. "Guess that makes sense enough... So... Does it matter who you get love from?"

"I... don't think so?" Skyline inclined his head. "Just that they give me so much I overflow, which is... like a fantasy. A fantasy a lot of changelings share, but never expect to actually run into. Normally... If we started feeling even a little full, we'd hurry home and drop off most of it. There's a whole hive waiting for a bite... But..."

"You don't have a hive." Piercing waved a hoof over the barracks. "You have a barrack of soldiers. And we don't need a share of that."

"Exactly." Skyline seemed to brighten as Piercing understood the parts of the problem. "Still, imagine it, try. It's like being told to eat so many pies you want to throw up, but to keep eating anyway. They're good pies! The best... But keep eating. Keep eating until something happens."

Piercing shrank back, ears wilting. "I don't like it nearly as much when you phrase it like that..."

"Yeah... All I have to do is open my mouth and keep eating. Past any reasonable limit." Skyline rubbed his belly, imagining that overfull state. "And we only have an old story to hope works. It might, or I might just explode. Or just find a new way to vomit Equestria's never seen before."

Piercing did his best to try to imagine it, but he didn't even know what eating love was like to start. The pie example was all he could work from... "Say... Can a pony try some love? Just to see what it's like?"

Skyline went still enough his brush fell to the ground with a clatter. "I... don't know. Ponies don't have the stuff to pull love out of something. Something would have to push to love at you." He mused silently a moment. "Actually, I guess you do do that, sometimes. If you have a special somepony and they love you, you feast, in your own way. That is part of why ponies are happy being married, right?"

"Point! Point..." Piercing nodded slowly. "But I'm trying to imagine how someone could be so happy being married they overfill on marriage happiness... What would that even be? Changelings are not ponies... No offense! You're great, but not a pony."

"Not a pony," agreed Skyline with a little chuckle. "But Luna hopes I can make batponies a real thing, instead of just ponies playing pretend. There are other things that bother me though."

"Okay... So let's assume you do it, pop, egg." He made an egg pattern in the air. "What else is the problem?"

"Why? Why does Luna want this?"

Piercing inclined his head. "I have no idea. Did you ask her?"

"Maybe I should." Skyline snatched his dropped brush with a wing. "Look, I've learned to really like being a batpony, and I can stop whenever I want, wherever I want. But it's not the same for you."

"I'm warming to it." He stood in such a way one could be fairly sure his wings would be wide, if he had any at the time. "I like flying. It was a pain to learn how to do... but I bet it was a pain for each and every pegasus foal ever. I miss not having my natural talents while I have that one."

"Hm." Skyline considered Piercing, his horn and general unicorn shape. "Hm."

"What are you plotting?" Piercing tapped his hooves together. "Look... Um... changelings are pretty adaptable, right? Kinda their thing, right?"

"Right?" Skyline raised a brow. "Why?"

"So..." Piercing rubbed his hooves slowly together. "So... If you had the choice of cuddling a guy or a girl, assuming both were your type, which would you pick?"

Skyline put his brush down, lest he drop it anew. "Um... Okay, so... Let's approach that logically. As an infiltrator, which is what I was, it'd be my job to snuggle whatever pony I could that looked ready. If they had information, or ready to give up some love, or were just in the way and snuggling could get them to move. Snuggles were not... how I showed the kind of love you're hinting at."

"Oh..." Piercing looked away and back. "So... how would you show the kind of love I'm hinting at?"

I wouldn't! At least, Skyline thought that. Changelings took love. They didn't give it... "You are asking the strangest questions tonight..." But then, it came to him. "Oh!"


"Oh." Skyline prodded Piercing with both wings. "You like other guy ponies, don't you?"

Piercing darkened swiftly. "Sorry!"

"What are you sorry for?" Skyline prodded at him all the more with the tips of his wings. Bat wings could prod about as well as fingers. "If you liked me, you shoulda just said so."

Piercing blinked dumbly, rocking with the prods. "You're... okay with that?"

"What did I just say? Changelings don't work that way. Guy, girl, not much difference, other than what form I might take to enjoy the love you're ready to give. Since you already like guys, that means the form I'm in is already fine."

All nicely logical. Perhaps too much so. "And if I liked girls?"

With a rush of fire, Skyline became a lady version of himself, batting their lengthened lashes. "Then I could be that," they said with their softened voice. "But hunting my squaddies for love is probably against some rule, even if it's a rule they never wrote down, seeing as I'm the first thing they'd need to write it for."

"Yeah..." Piercing tugged Skyline's tail suddenly with their magic. "You're still you... but I prefer the guy form." One more tug like turning on a lamp's pullstring and Skyline flared, becoming his usual self. "It's not.. hunting exactly if they want to be caught."

"Want to be..." Skyline turned slowly at the pony. He could feel it. Piercing was pushing love at him. How long had he been doing that? Had Skyline just not been paying attention? He'd been so busy just trying to be a quality soldier, to make them proud, to make himself proud... "You... You're walking up to a predator and waving your rump at them, extoling how delicious you are. You realize that's kinda strange, right?"

Piercing chuckled nervously at the description. "It's not exactly like that... You're not going to hurt me."

"In a pod--"

"You don't have a pod."

Skyline inclined his head. "I can make one. In a pod, love is taken until the creature in it is drained dry, left as a barely living husk that doesn't even have the motivation to keep itself alive. And changelings aren't known for caring what happens after that. I eat emotions. That's what changelings do. I don't want to hurt you."

"Then don't." Piercing smiled nervously. "You could make a pod, and shove me into one, but you don't have to. You don't want to. So don't."

"You make it sound so simple..." But maybe it was? Ponies were so optimistic at times... "Back to the point! If I made a batpony... If that even works... This feels unfair."

"To you?"

"Not to me." He waved a hoof at that. "Assuming it works, it won't hurt me. But the foal will have a lot of ponies around it that aren't even comfortable being what it just is. Somecreature has to show it how to fly and how to be a bat pony. It'll ask awkward pony questions too. Who will be its father and mother and uncle? I'm not sure how many we have ready to be those things. We're soldiers!"

"I like being a batpony?"

Skyline prodded him once. "You just said you wish you weren't stopped from being a unicorn, which makes me think."

"I like thinking." Piercing nodded with the remember joy of a good thought. "Share?"

"Well... bat ponies aren't... defined. They don't exist..." Skyline cycled his hooves slowly in the air. "Who's to say there aren't any horned bat ponies? Or stocky ones built like an earth pony? Maybe some of them can use magic, like a unicorn. Who says there aren't?"

Piercing blinked slowly at the idea. "Well... Right now, Luna says." He pointed at his armor. "I put that on, I lose my horn, and my magic. I get wings. I doubt she'd want to make a bunch of new alicorns."

Skyline smirked at that. "Who says a horned batpony is an alicorn? They're a different tribe. Different rules should be expected. What would a princess batpony look like? I don't know. Why would anypony until it happened?"

"Interesting... I like this thought... But you have to do something first, before any foals."

"What's that?" Skyline was smiling, feeling a little better.

"Talk to Luna. You have an in with her. See if you can't talk her into letting me keep my horn." He pointed up at it. "I'll be an even happier guard if I can do it with this."

Author's Note:

Written at Everfree NW! Cons are a lousy reason to stop writing, rawr.