“So…what’s the plan for the next attack?”
The attitude in the cluster was, to say the very least, grim. Granted, these meetings were never really joyous occasions. Changelings didn’t really deal much in joy and merriment. This particular meeting, however, was a bit more of a downer than the usual meetings. It was to be expected; they were reeling from a last-minute ruining of their queen’s perfect plan and a brutal defeat at the hooves of a bunch of ponies. Their morale could stand to be higher.
“Simple,” Chrysalis said, walking back and forth in front of her minions. “We take time to regroup and rebuild. We shall find a small, unsuspecting town and prey upon its citizens. The strongest of them will be put in conversion pods, and once our army has grown stronger than ever, we find a new mark to take the place of.” The other changelings nodded. Their queen was wise and powerful and everything she said was absolutey correct and perfect. This was no different.
“…But…” one changeling muttered. In an instant, every single head turned to look at him. No one ever brought the queen’s orders into question. Chrysalis strode across the room until she came face-to-face with the dissenter.
“But?” Chrysalis asked, her face riding a delicate line between bemusement and rage. The changeling in question sank down a bit, but Chrysalis lit her horn up, lifting him up so that he was at eye level with her.
“Do you mean to question my plans?” Chrysalis asked, her voice eerily calm. “It isn’t like one of you to do this.” The changeling looked away. He wanted to go on, but was far too intimidated to continue his thought pattern.
“What is your number?” Chrysalis asked, tightening her magical grip on the changeling in front of her. He did not respond at first. This infuriated the queen; insubordination was unheard of, and she barely even knew how to react to it.
“TELL ME YOUR NUMBER!” Chrysalis shouted, tightening her grip further. The changeling winced and struggled before finally answering.
“I am not a number,” the changeling spoke in a strained voice. Murmurs spread throughout the room, with a few scattered gasps here and there. Attention then turned to Chrysalis, who surprised her brood yet again by placing the changeling down on the ground and releasing her grip.
“Explain yourself,” Chrysalis said.
“I…am not a number,” the changeling repeated. “I am an individual.” More murmurs spread, until Chrysalis raised a hoof to silence them.
“What makes you think you are special?” Chrysalis inquired, lowering herself to stare straight into the eyes of the dissenter.
“I have brought happiness to somepony,” the changeling spoke. The crowd roared, but was once again silenced by the queen.
“Happiness?” Chrysalis said derisively, spitting on the ground near the changeling’s feet. “Happiness is a weakness. Happiness is a vulnerability to be exploited. It is not an emotion that one should feel pride in bringing to others, unless it is being used for your own personal gain. What did you have to gain from this?”
“…Nothing,” the changeling said. “When we were fighting the ponies…the pink one. She smiled and laughed at my transformations. Then she requested that I change myself to look like her. I complied.”
“Why?” Chrysalis asked.
“I didn’t know at the time,” the changeling responded. “It was something I had never felt before. My actions were approved of, and I wasn’t even trying for that type of reaction. It felt…good.” Chrysalis stared the changeling down, though her stare seemed a bit less harsh than it had been.
“And how do you feel about this?” Chrysalis asked. The changeling looked up into Chrysalis’s eyes, noting the odd, empathetic question.
“…I feel good about it, my queen,” the changeling finally responded. “It was a fantastic feeling, knowing that I had done something to make someone genuinely happy. Perhaps if instead of trying to take over Equestria, we simply concentrated our efforts on gaining acceptance from others like I did from the pink pony, we could-” The changeling’s voice was cut off as a quick surge of magical energy from Chrysalis seized him and snapped his neck like a twig.
“Happiness is for the weak,” Chrysalis said coldly. The other changelings were silent. “Now let us get back to business.”
Commentary from Donny’s Boy
Oh, ouch. That ending was like a punch to the gut—in a good one. I love the building tension as the changeling stands up to Chrysalis and especially that moment of maybe-empathy. Did Chrysalis have a moment with the ponies as the now-dead changeling have with Pinkie Pie? We can only wonder. Great story.