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Just a Taste

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"I found the poor guy hiding in an old house near Canterlot."
"An abandoned house?"
"Yeah, there's a ton of them all around Equestria. A few abandoned villages, old mining outposts, or forgotten summer houses that turned out not worth their maintenance costs... that sort of thing."
"What were you doing in a place like that?"
"Looking for changelings. After the Canterlot attack, nobody knew what to do, and everyone was afraid - just imagine it, your neighbor could be a changeling, or your wife..."
"But the shield spell worked, right? It blasted the changelings right out of the city."
"Sure, but that's about it. Most of the changelings ended up way beyond Equestria's borders, but every so often, a lost drone would crop up somewhere. Ponyville, Everfree... even in Las Pegasus."
"A lost drone?"
"Yeah. Most of them were in a bad shape, starved, and aggressive. It never went beyond what the guard could manage, though. Maybe some of the other changelings just... integrated, you know?"
"That could be possible. They're pretty good at that, and seem to be able of some autonomy."
"Even personality, from what I found out. What's another random pony to anyone? Of course, the kingdom can't just admit that and start screening ponies or something."
"It'd just lead to panic."
"Exactly. Anyway... when the news of the first stragglers got out, a couple ponies decided to organize search parties. Gather few friends, go around the countryside, make sure there's not a monster hiding in some cave, and make everyone sleep better."
"Did it work?"
"Sure. Half a dozen of the groups found some changelings, and everypony got a good story out of it even if they didn't. It was a bit of a... thing, I guess, back in the day."
"A cultural phenomenon?"
"Yeah, or maybe more like a pastime, kinda like hiking."
"So, that's where you came in?"
"Oh, no, I was way too late to the party. I was interested, sure, but I guess I was still a bit young, so no one wanted me as part of their group. I ended up sneaking out, and going on my own. Pretty stupid, right?"
"A bit."
"A lot. Anyway, I ended up scouting out a lot of old buildings around where I lived. Most of the time, I came across no one, or maybe a vagrant or two. But in the end, I actually found a changeling."
"What did you do?"
"I panicked. I was more of a sneaking type, so I figured I'd spot it, get out, and get a few guards to come take care of it. I never expected one to corner me in dark house."
"You're lucky to still be alive."
"Yeah. I just stumbled over my own hooves, terrified, and tried to run, but I ended up getting stuck in a room with the thing blocking the only exit. I couldn't really think straight, and it followed me, slowly, like a hungry dog..."
"Didn't you try to use magic?"
"No. Would you? I was glad I remembered to breathe. But then... it spoke."
"What did it say?"
"'Hello.'"
"Huh."
"I know. It took me a while to get over the shock, but we actually ended up having a conversation."
"A conversation?"
"With a starved changeling, yeah. But it wasn't aggressive, more like... lost. It told me a couple of groups came by in the past, but he always managed to hide. I was the first one to sneak up on him."
"What did you do?"
"Laughed it off. I though he came sneaking up to me, and I told him. That's when he laughed for the first time, and... I dunno. I guess I kinda realized changelings might not just be mindless drones. Not all of them. This one seemed more like... a lost puppy. By the end of our talk, I was already decided to help him."
"Help him?"
"Yeah. I noticed he was injured, so I offered to come back with a first aid kit. I figured I'd bring some food, too, since he looked really hungry. That was... naive."
"Changelings don't eat."
"Not like a pony would. I brought a whole bag of apples. The changeling just smiled, and told me they don't really work like that."
"They eat love."
"Yeah. That made me feel even worse for him - he wasn't just starving, he was starving because he was abandoned. Unloved. Alone. That's when I decided I'd... try to feed him myself."
"Yourself?"
"Yeah... I... I don't know. I figured it'd help. How bad could it be, you know?"
"How bad was it?"
"It was unpleasant, at first. Then... it got worse. I guess after a month of starvation, you can't really blame the guy for not exactly being able to control himself."
"Did he attack you?"
"No, he just... kept feeding. It was... It was like..."
"It's okay, you don't have to talk about it if you don't want to."
"No, I do. Just... Imagine there's someone holding your heart, with a claw... made of ice. You feel every part of your body just loosing its will to live. The worst part is, it's not a hostile sensation. If feels natural, like waking up one day and realizing you've been dead your entire life."
"..."
"I think I screamed at him at one point, and he snapped out of it. He apologized, so much... it made me feel so bad for him. It wasn't his fault, it was just what he was. There was just no other way - he'd starve until he couldn't control himself, and one day, he'd just stumble out of the forest, crazy, hungry..."
"...and he'd get caught."
"Yeah. He'd probably get thrown into a dungeon. If he couldn't find any food, eventually, he'd probably fall into a coma, or..."
"It sounds horrible."
"It does. That's why I tried again. And again, and again. Every time, I gave him all the love I could spare, until it was too much for me, and every time, I found even more love inside myself to give. I must have been there the entire night, and it must have been the longest night of my life."
"Did you come back after that?"
"I didn't. The guards noticed me heading into the woods with a bag of apples, and when I didn't come back, they sent a search party. By this time, Pupa - I mean the changeling - was strong enough to fly, and I was too weak to even tell them to stop, let alone explain. Not that they'd believe me."
"So he just left you there?"
"Not much choice when there's five guards trying to hit you with a stun spell. He just looked back, and shouted 'Thank you!' In that single moment, just looking him in the eye, I knew he really meant it. And... I also know I'd never see him again. I could never tell him I'd do it all over again."


A commission for Cjbronyten, featuring Summer Flare and a changeling. Now available in WebM format!


Open for Commissions!


Technical

Still image created with inkscape.
The animations were made and exported with aniGen.

Testing out new version of aniGen, with improved UI. Playing around with keeping effect animation bases (the love beam) in defs and referring to, using inherited stroke and fill attributes. It works pretty well and saves a bit of the code. Also, WebM.

Links

WebM version
Original SVG

As always, I appreciate any comments, criticism and discussion.
Image details
Image size
1414x854px 29.88 MB
© 2017 - 2022 MisterAibo
Comments65
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schorpioen007's avatar
Lord-Kiyo's avatar
Really good animation, and it goes well with the story.
TheShadowscale's avatar
That was eerily similar to what I've always imagined for my Changeling. Nice work!
Animaltoon's avatar
I'm not an mlp fan

but the animation quality and the story was just so interesting I had to fave this <3 Very nicely written-
11buddy14's avatar
Aww this is so cute. Love the little story.
11buddy14's avatar
NavelColt's avatar
And then it was discovered friendship is magic, even with changelings c: Take him out on a walk, give him cuddles, he'll be fine.
MisterAibo's avatar
Nah, it needs to be a bunch of changelings giving love to each other to create a feedback loop through a weird loophole in their love draining ability. Kinda like a giant orgy of friendship. So, kinda like a regular giant orgy.
NavelColt's avatar
Except Spike and Thorax prove it can be done with non-changelings. C:

Not that I'm against friendship orgies among changelings. Newly-crowned King Bug Moose gives his subjects all manner of cuddles I'm sure.
MisterAibo's avatar
Sure, but if it's just one changeling, it doesn't turn them into a colorful OC. And I guess they need some sort of longer lasting relationship before the effect kicks in. Maybe that's why Chrysalis enforces such strict order among them.
NavelColt's avatar
=P I think Chrysalis enforced such strict order because she's a tyrannical bitch and used her subjects as tools to conquer nations to satisfy her unyielding lust for power, imo. Whether she knew about the ability to shift and get rid of the curse of constant hunger or not, power was clearly always more important to her than the well-being of her subjects, seeing as she was willing to silence Starlight's explanation of passing off hunger, in favor of continuing things they way she wanted. So on that subject, I say good riddance. I really hope they don't reform her, wouldn't suit her character one bit.

Sorry, train of thoughts leave the station and they don't come back. :la:

Rather rude of me, sorry, forgot to mention your animations are as solid as always. :) Always fun to see what else you come up with. Making sure to watch you so I don't continually run into your stuff via derpibooru.
MisterAibo's avatar
Thank you. And don't worry, I don't mind discussion at all.

I suppose that's Chrysalis' main motivation, yeah. She probably didn't know, either - but anyone undermining her authority in any way - even speaking out of turn, probably - is just seen as a threat. But I also don't think she exactly "conquered nations" - if the comics are to be believed, the hive just found a juicy target like a city, infiltrate it, and basically raided it, then moved on. Which makes sense.

On the topic of reforming Chrysalis... if they do it, they could spin it as a way to show that even the worst people aren't beyond salvation. At the same time, that's just wishful thinking. It'd be cool to just see a villain that's actually irredeemable, who does what he does for his personal benefits, and could never function as a good guy, and who doesn't immediately get sent to magic vacation to Tartarus. Chrysalis definitely shows she won't have her authority challenged by anyone, and she won't relinquish her power for any reason. That's a good way to handle her, and having her be more of a looming threat can be a nice element.
NavelColt's avatar
I enjoy discussion too. Not on fan forums any more so it's gotta come out somewhere. :XD:

Unfortunately the comics aren't even remotely canon, they're a spin-off. Very entertaining, very dark and very interesting places they go to that the show can't because of its' different age demographic, but not canon. From what the show has shown us, Chrysalis was very, very much intent on capturing and keeping ponies prisoner indefinitely, feeding off them like Matrix batteries.

I quote, 'So I could feed, of course! By replacing the most beloved figures in Equestria, my drones will be able to store all the love meant for them and return it here to me. Everypony will do as I command, and my subjects and I will feed on their love for generations! [maniacal laughter]'

And's that's just the finale. She mentioned prisoners in the S5 finale alternate timeline as well, and it must have been long-term because an entire organized resistance had been formed long-after her takeover of Canterlot. :XD: All her canon appearances are,'look at me, I'm a classic Disney villain with no redeemable traits, I want power, muwhaha!'. Honestly, the fact they went to the trouble of replacing her character role with Thorax shows that they not only want to keep her as a villain, but are probably setting up to do something other than reforming her.
MisterAibo's avatar
"Canon" is a really loose term when it comes to the show... Some people don't even consider anything from season three onward canon, others say EQG isn't canon... I don't know. As long as the sources don't contradict, anything can have its weight. The show is probably the golden standard. At the same time, the show never mentions any adventures they have in the comics, and they almost never really mention EQG stuff outside the films, other than Flash Sentry's cameo.

I see it more as parallel universes. The show tells one set of stories, and the comics are basically "what if"s and "imagine" scenarios. Plus, the quality of the comics varies a lot. Prince's stuff is usually good, if only for the extreme art and difference in tone, but there's some really crappy comics - self inserts about the writer's OCs being tutored by Twilight, stuff that looks like it was drawn in MS paint... But yeah, I won't call comics where Applejack literally lassos the moon and the ponies walk to it canon. It's kinda how I approach the stuff that I make. Since the multiverse / parallel realities seem to be a thing in MLP... How could you tell if you saw were actually few dozen parallel realities anyway? It'd definitely explain ponies acting out of character here and there, the weird episodes that never get brought up again, or the fact that so much stuff happens to the same characters.

Now there's an idea for a fanfic, if I had the time and motivation to write it. :D

Thorax felt strange at first, the whole "redeeming a changeling" episode felt more like something you'd read in a fanfic. But in the end, it was a reasonable compromise if it means they don't have to redeem Chrysalis to launch their new colorful changeling toys. Plus, this way, there's still both kinds of changelings out there, and a ton of potential they're sure to never touch, like "How do the new changelings procreate if there's no queen? Does this make them a race destined to die out, or steal and convert changelings from other hives? Would they as far as to capture a queen of their own?" So, definitely fan content potential right there, which I'm fine with.

That's the biggest hook in the show for me - it provides enough material to get the imagination going, and enough basic principles to provide common ground, but it's vague enough to let people imagine whatever they want. Almost like it was designed to sell toys that the kids will just make up whatever stories they want with, by a former kid who did just that in her youth.
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Cloudkickerpony8404's avatar
Nice artwork well done huggles
Cloudkickerpony8404's avatar
RomanticGaze's avatar
that is how changelings eat? 
MisterAibo's avatar
It's how it looks when Chrysalis forcefully drains love out of ponies. It's not much of a stretch to see other changelings do it when they're starved and need to get a lot of love at once.
RomanticGaze's avatar
Oooh, I thought only the queen could do it like that
MisterAibo's avatar
It might be the case. But hey, headcanons, you know?
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