A Princess and Her Queen

by kildeez

Chapter 1: Chapter I: Prisoner Interrogation

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For the first time in his life, Nightshift the bat-pony prayed for things to settle down.

In spite of the hundreds of hours he’d spent with his muzzle buried in Daring-Do novels, the countless nights spent on his knees praying to whoever might be listening for a bona-fide action-packed super-crunchy adventure of his own, and the hours spent diving sideways onto his bed in view of his bedroom mirror with a pair of imaginary crossbows in his grip, right now, he just wanted to crawl back to the bank of security monitors he called home and prop his hind hooves up on his desk again. Now that he thought about it, that desk was awfully cozy. Much cozier than the interrogation chamber he found himself in, at least. Back there, he had a plush chair that reclined when he wanted it to and was only just starting to squeak when it moved, a vending machine full of snacks behind him, the soft flicker of the monitor banks, a Daring-Do novel and a dollar for the vending machine hidden in the desk drawer; yep, definitely more comfortable than this craphole.

Here, the magical lights flickered and buzzed constantly, and the coffee tasted bitter without his secret stash of creamer, and his head still hurt from the black eye the creature on the other side of the glass had given him. Plus, he didn’t get the solitude he so loved in his normal job. Instead there were two other bat-ponies with him, three if you counted the guy who’d had to go to the bathroom. Still, he sat there, standing vigil in case the prisoner tried anything, even though it had been shackled to the metal desk in the room, which in turn was bolted to the floor and covered in enough magical enchantments to make Discord’s head spin. So really, this job was as boring and calm as his regular one, just less comfortable. Well, perhaps that wasn’t true. Here, the show was better.

Nightshift sat bolt-upright as Lieutenant Nocturn slammed his hooves onto the metal table, rattling both it and the chained creature. “Just give up now, changeling! We know what you’re up to!” He barked, his nostrils flaring beneath his helmet. Yep, he had gone in there in full armor, as if he expected a threat from a changeling that was not only secured to the desk, but was also at least a head smaller than the ponies holding him, with one chipped fang to boot.

Yet Nightshift couldn’t suppress the chill that shot down his spine when the creature tilted its head up and simply smiled knowingly, flashing both its good and its bad fang. “Oh, I highly doubt that, pony,” the creature hissed in that strange, multi-layered voice all changelings possessed in their natural form. “I came up with this plan, after all. I bet as far as you know, I’m just another infiltrator looking for love to steal.”

Nocturn slammed his hooves on the table again, causing another stir from the prisoner. “I am a Lieutenant in the Night Guard of Canterlot palace, you will speak to me with respect!”

“Y’know, if you keep slamming your hooves like that, you might break something,” the changeling pointed out with a nonchalant wave of its hoof. “I’m just saying, because this table looks pricey.”

Nightshift couldn’t help but allow a smile to break out on his muzzle. This guy was funny, for a love-sucking monster that had once attempted to conquer his nation. It was a shame they were natural enemies. Maybe not as fierce as the changelings were with the other pony races, but enemies nonetheless.

Nightshift winced as the Lieutenant reared back and slammed a hoof across the changeling’s jaw, eliciting a surprised yelp, but nothing more. The pony to Night’s left winced and averted his eyes, but the one on his right didn’t even flinch, his yellow eyes remaining locked on the one-way mirror. To his credit, Nightshift himself managed to suppress a shiver, and even kept his eyes open, though they narrowed down to little slits. He didn’t even look away when the door to the tiny room swung open.

“Hey guys,” the guard who’d gone to the bathroom said. “I miss anything?”

Nightshift started to open his mouth, but the pony on his right cleared his throat, narrowing his eyes and glaring so hard that if looks could kill, Nightshift felt he would have been sent right to his own funeral: black wreaths, mourners, and a pre-written eulogy all ready to go. Then he followed the other guard’s gaze to the reason for that look: a small microphone built into the wall, right above the one-way window.

“Nope,” he said simply, shifting uncomfortably in his chair. The newcomer looked at him, spared a glance at the prisoner, who by now had recovered and was sitting upright, then shrugged and pulled up a chair, seating himself behind the trio just as the Lieutenant started in with the half-crazed tirades again.

You think you can just do this!?” Nocturne barked. “You think you can just walk into Canterlot castle, attack a couple guards, and insult one of the finest guardsponies in all of Equestria!?”

“One of its finest soldiers?” The changeling gasped, cradling its aching jaw. “Aw jeez...I’m sorry, I had no idea I’d insulted one of Canterlot’s finest!”

Nocturne regarded the changeling suspiciously. “Really, now?”

“Yeah, really, I’d like to apologize for insulting the bravest, most competent soldier Canterlot has to offer!”

“Well,” Nocturne took a step back, chest thrusting out in pride. “I would like to say I…”

“So couldja do me a favor and tell him how sorry I am when he gets in?” The changeling asked, the apologetic look on his face immediately turning into a sarcastic grin. “Not sure I’ll have a chance to do it myself.”

“Oooohh,” Nightshift gasped, eyebrows rising. He had to hoof it to the little guy: that buggy had balls.

Nocturne’s response was almost instant. First, his dark-furred face flushed a deep fuchsia in pure anger, a vein popping out on the side of his neck, then he was upon the prisoner, smashing him over and over again in the face until the changeling fell limp, his head hanging on the end of his neck. For a second, Nightshift thought he’d been beaten unconscious, but then he coughed and straightened in his seat.

“Hey, I said I was sorry!” The changeling rasped.

“Damn,” Nightshift hissed under his breath.

“Celestia above, that is one tough little bug,” the pony to his left said.

Nocturne’s only reply was another punch to the prisoner’s gut, and though it elicited a choke and a gasp from the changeling, even Nightshift could see the unsure way it connected: the half-hearted, almost fearful way the once-confident Lieutenant had moved with. The changeling’s confidence was starting to erode away his cool, like an indomitable tide against a brittle piece of sandstone.

“Whatever it is you have planned, changeling,” the Lieutenant spat. “The Royal Guard will stop you.”

Nocturne turned to step out of the room, when a low, choked, hacking sound filled the room. At first, it sounded like the changeling might be dying, or trying to cough up his own lungs, and then the sound solidified and became low, cold laughter. The changeling tossed his head back with the laughter, his body rocking back in the chair. A shiver rocketed up Nightshift’s spine, and based on the way his comrades shifted in their seats, it was obvious they were feeling the same way.

“What’s so funny?” The Lieutenant barked, though he couldn’t quite keep a mild quiver from his voice.

“Dude, it’s such a stereotype!” The changeling gasped, panting heavily. “I mean, c’mon! Do you realize what you’ve just set me up for?”

The guard frowned, taking a few steps back from the prisoner, who just flashed him a confident, bloody smile, suddenly looking like a lion waiting in a tall patch of wild grass. “How’re you gonna stop us if we’re already here?” The changeling asked pleasantly.

“What?” Nightshift muttered, eyebrows hunching in his half-visible reflection in the mirror. “What the heck does that…”

He trailed off as a green flash erupted behind them, with a touch of a cold breeze, just like the kind that accompanied changeling magic. He looked up and saw a massive changeling reflected in the glass, at least a couple feet taller than him, with a deep scar running over one milky-white eye and the other gleaming an emerald green.

“Oh, shi-“ he had time to mutter before a couple hundred pounds of muscle descended upon the trio.

Author's Notes:

Rewritten! Yes, I know, it's been a while. Go ahead and yell.

Next Chapter: Chapter II: A Little Bait and Switch Estimated time remaining: 14 Hours, 40 Minutes
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