A changeling without a name bounced around the wastelands wearing the form of a pink earth pony mare with curly hair and a set of three balloons as her cutie mark. All the other changelings were naked, showing their dark, winged forms marked with holes. They didn’t normally take on other forms unless they needed to. But ever since it had donned this form during the assault on Canterlot, things felt different for this changeling.
That pony had been so eager to see its double, it thought. And for the first time in its life, it took on a form not for infiltration nor combat, but because somepony asked. For the first time, when it took on this form, its smile was genuine.
The pony hadn’t been impressed. And so it resolved to practice. It’d practice this form until it was a perfect match for that curious pony.
It laughed as it bounced through the dirt. It didn’t know why. It just did. It wondered whether it had ever laughed before.
One of its fellow workers approached it. “What’re you doing?”
It stopped and smiled. The other worked backed away.
“I dunno!” It chirped. “I’ve just been trying this form on, and I just felt like laughing.”
There was a strange rhythm and melody to its voice that it had never heard before. It started humming to itself, feeling its voice go up and down and just enjoying the sound of it.
The fellow changeling turned its nose up and took another step back. “This one doesn’t understand your meaning.”
It shook its head and beamed at the other changeling. “Come on, try it! You’ll like it!”
“This one doesn’t understand. The Fair Folk do not like.”
It rolled its eyes and waved a hoof. Some changelings were so serious about the whole Fair Folk thing. They had no sense of fun. “Just do it!” It bounced around the other. “Do it do it do it!”
The other snorted. “Very well.”
In a swirl of color it changed into the same pink pony. Even though it still glared and frowned, its face seemed more lively somehow.
“Now smile!” The changeling shouted, leaning in close and batting its eyes.
The other changeling smiled. “This one doesn’t understand.”
Another changeling approached, already wearing the pink form. “Is something going on? This one saw you taking on this form, and it followed.”
The first one chuckled at both of them. “Ponies don’t say ‘this one,’ silly.”
The second looked at it. “I’m not sure.” It blinked in surprise at its own phrasing. “We’re supposed to try this form on. I think we’re practicing.”
More changelings gathered and they all took on the form in turn. Soon the first one was bouncing around again, and all the others bounced after it, following in a single file line. It told them that wasn’t right, that it shouldn’t be single file like that, though it wasn’t sure why. And eventually there was a cluster of a few dozen changelings, all wearing the pink form and bouncing randomly, none following any other.
“Wait!” One shouted, not bouncing anymore. “Where’s the leader? Where’s the first one?”
All of them stopped and looked around, frowning in confusion. The first one brought a hoof up to its chin and thought for a moment. It didn’t want to lead any of them. But they wanted to know who it was. So it needed some way to dinstinguish itself. Its face lit up and it gasped in realization, and in a flash of color, it was suddenly blue. The rest of its form was the same, only its color had changed.
“Over here!” It reached up with a blue hoof and waved. “I’m right here!”
The other changelings all stared at it with their mouths hanging open. It noticed they were getting a lot better at expressions.
“B-but…” One frowned. “But we’ve never seen a pony like that! Have we?”
All the others shook their heads as they looked at one another.
“I know,” the first one said with a smile and a shrug. “It just seemed like an easy way to tell each other apart.”
Several of the other changelings turned blue, and the first one shook its head and held up a hoof to stop the rest.
“No no no, sillies! Try different colors!”
They all looked at one another and the first one groaned. It pointed a hoof at a random changeling.
“You! Turn orange!”
It looked around at all the others with fear in its eyes. It looked like real fear, the first one thought. But with a deep breath and shut eyes it flashed, and was suddenly orange.
“Great!” The first one shouted. It held out its hooves and spun around with a big smile on its face. “Now, everyone! Everyone try changing color!”
They all looked around at one another just as the orange one had. But slowly they started doing it. There were curly-haired ponies of every color. Even two red ones weren’t exactly the same shade of red. Some of the less creative ones copied the blue of the sky or the brown of the dirt. But even those weren’t all the same. And soon there wasn’t one pink pony left among them.
“What’s going on here?”
The sudden shout made all the colorful ponies turn and face a naked changeling.
“What’re you all doing? You’re supposed to be working!”
They all smiled, and a yellow pony bounced up to it with a broad grin.
“Come on! You gotta try this!”
The changeling looked them over skeptically and snorted.
The colorful crowd cheered, and the changeling court was never the same.
Commentary from Donny’s Boy
This is wonderful, adorable fluff! I love how the changeling single-hoofedly leads a changeling revolution without even trying—just as Pinkie single-hoofedly changed this changeling’s life without even trying. All of the changelings doing different colors and switching to the use of “I” as a pronoun. I can only imagine what changeling culture is like from this point forward, and all of the things I am imagining make me grin.