Diplomat at Large

by Evilhumour

Chapter 1: Chapter One

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Chapter One


“Ponyville, next stop!” the conductor bellowed as he passed by the coach, all five mares and Well-Hidden looking up and several of them getting ready to disembark, gathering their luggage. Moving behind the crowd of passengers, they exited the train, with Rarity stopping by the coach where the changeling Queens were gathered, still en route to Canterlot.

“I look forward to seeing you again soon,” she told Queen Scolopidia, who gave a snort but at the same time had a faint smile on her face.

“See you later,” she said. “I do want to see this spa you spoke of but I have my own duties to attend to.”

“I absolutely understand, darling,” Rarity told her. “I will make absolutely sure we can make a visit before Fashion Week in Manehatten.”

“See you then,” Scolopidia said, waving one more time before Rarity left the train.

Outside, she and her friends found a hoofful of ponies awaiting them, including three grinning fillies. “You’re back! You’re back!” they cheered.

“Sure are,” Applejack told her siblings and Granny, before she looked very serious. “And we’ve got a lot to talk about.”

Mac nodded. “Eeyup.”

Once she’d gotten her things unpacked, Applejack headed into the kitchen, where the rest of her family was waiting. “Did you know we had a family member livin’ in the Packlands?” she asked.

Granny Smith looked a little startled. “Ah sure did,” she said. “Some nonsense about her not wantin’ to be an Apple no more and goin’ all wolf-like.” She slapped a hoof against her knee. “But ifn’ bein’ all wolf-like means actin’ all polite like Swifty did, Ah don’t see what they’d be complainin’ about! Ha-ha!”

Applejack gave a strained grin. “She had the Apple Itch, ya know?” she said. “Went out there, and after some troubles, she agreed to do things their way. An’ that included… well, slaughtering the hogs.”

Granny Smith suddenly looked serious. “Did she now,” she said in a dangerous tone.

“An’... an’ that’s how she got her Mark,” Applejack admitted. “But the other ponies in town, they didn’t see it that way. They told her folks, an’ she got thrown out of the family.” She shook her head. “Ah was the first Apple to talk to her an’ not judge her for what she’d done. Ah understood she was just followin’ the local laws.”

Granny Smith nodded slowly. “Applejack… you wus right.” Her eyes blazed. “Ah ain’t never heard such disgraceful behavior from an Apple, no-siree! Throwin’ one of their own kin out for obeyin’ local laws…”

Mac shook his head. “Eenope! That ain’t right!”

“Ah hope you told her she was always welcome with us!” Granny said.

Applejack looked startled. “Well… Ah did tell her Ah’d like to come back an’ see her, an’ I’d be glad to bring all of you with me,” she said. “An’... an’ she actually offered to let me move out there ifn’ Ah wanted to.”

“Well, if that’s yer choice, Ah ain’t gonna stop ya,” Granny said. “Ah’d sure miss ya though.”

Applejack nodded. “Ah’m stayin’ here for now,” she said. “But if yer up for visitin’ Slice n' Dice an’ her packmates at their home, just say when.”

“Ah’d love to,” Granny said. “An’ maybe Ah should have a talk with those parents of hers.”

Applejack smiled. “Twilight already wrote to Princess Celestia about that,” she said. “Ah think the Princess is gettin’ things handled on that end.”

“Well good fer her!” Granny Smith said. Then she looked around. “Say, where is Twilight? Ah didn’t see her gettin’ off the train…”

“She wasn’t with us when we got back,” Applejack admitted. “She’s off travelin’ the world with Spike. Made herself a Diplomat-at-Large for Equestria now.”

Apple Bloom looked up at her. “She’s not comin’ home?” she asked in a small voice.

“She’ll be back,” Applejack reassured her, pulling her little sister into a hug. “Not for a while, but she’ll be back.”

Apple Bloom smiled. “Ah’m gonna miss her while she’s away...”

“We’ve got ways to write to her directly,” Applejack told her. “We’ll be hearing from her a lot sooner than we’ll be seein’ her.”

Apple Bloom looked happy at this.

Looking down at her sister, Applejack smiled. Then she made a mental note to remember to talk to Granny about the other matter, with the Pears. In private.

Trotting home with Sweetie Belle at her heels, Rarity gave her little sister a fond look. “And how was your week?” she asked.

“It was fun!” Sweetie Belle grinned. “But I missed you.”

“I missed you too, Sweetie,” Rarity told her. “Have you heard from Mother and Father?”

Sweetie Belle shook her head. “They’re still off in Seaddle, doing the tourist thing,” she said. “Mom’s last letter said she’s trying all the coffees she can, and Dad’s checking out the local fishing.”

Rarity nodded. “Well, I do wish they would be around a little more for your sake,” she said. “But Sweetie Belle… even when we have our differences, you will always have me, you know that?” She leaned down and nuzzled her. “I love you, little sister.”

“I love you too, Rarity,” Sweetie Belle said, nuzzling her back.

Fluttershy and Well-Hidden were chatting happily as they approached her cottage. “Harry did a good job keeping things in order while I was away,” she said as she looked around.

“He certainly did,” another voice replied, making Well-Hidden’s ears flick. “Even though Order is so boring.” A familiar face slithered out through the keyhole of her door. “Welcome home, dear Fluttershy.”

“Discord!” Fluttershy beamed. “It’s so good to see you.”

“And you as well, my dear.” Discord turned and nodded to Well-Hidden. “Sir wolf.”

“Lord Discord.” Well-Hidden gave him a nod. “Fluttershy has told me much about you.”

“And she has told me of you as well.” Discord gave him a wave. “In far more flattering terms than she used to describe that minotaur. Then again, this is Fluttershy we’re talking about - the worst thing she said was that his services were ‘unsatisfying’.” His face softened. “But I wouldn’t have her any other way. She stays true to herself, and that is one of the things I so like about her.”

Fluttershy blushed.

“Well now, come on in!” Discord waved. “Tea’s all ready… though I think some of it’s still looking for a U to follow it.”

Fluttershy giggled as she and Well-Hidden followed him into the cottage.

“Ah…” Rainbow Dash sighed as she soared lazily around Ponyville. “Man, I’ve missed stretching my wings like this.”

“Rainbow Dash!”

Rainbow Dash looked down to see a familiar filly on a scooter. “Hey, squirt!” She drifted down to land. “Told ya I’d see ya again soon.”

Taking off her helmet, Scootaloo grinned. “Yep, you did!”

“Your aunts back in town yet?”

“No.” Scootaloo looked down. Then she perked up again. “But, they are going to be back tomorrow!”

“That’s great,” Rainbow Dash told her. She sobered. “You know, I wish they would stay here with you, full-time, instead of going back and forth.”

“So do I,” Scootaloo told her. “I miss them when they’re not here… I miss you when you’re not here.”

“I missed you too, squirt,” Rainbow Dash told her as she reached out a hoof to ruffle the little filly’s mane.

“So, what was it like in the Packlands?” Scootaloo asked eagerly.

“Well, let me tell ya, squirt. I might not have gotten to fly anywhere near as much as I wanted, but they’ve got some primo napping trees!”

Scootaloo giggled.

Standing at the castle’s chariot hanger, her sister, niece and nephew-in-law by her side (Blueblood had stiffly declined to attend, but had asked them to pass on his regards), Princess Celestia watched as the chariots carrying the changeling and wolf representatives came in for a landing.

The first of the changeling queens to emerge was taller, nearly Celestia’s own height herself, with a brilliant green mane. Unlike Chrysalis’s, it was neatly combed and looked far healthier. Her wings and tail were the same shade, and her crown was a similarly radiant green. Next to her came the younger changeling with sparkly wings, whom she guessed must be Prince Thorax, and another changeling with a red dorsal fin and tail, purple wings and a stern look on his face. The red dorsal fin changeling was looking very protective of Thorax, the same look a sibling had for another.

Four more changeling queens followed, each looking as healthy as the first; one had a more bluish mane, one an almost ginger color, and the third one a darker red with… was that a touch of makeup on her face? The last one was a purple shade, somewhere between Twilight’s fur and Rarity’s mane.

“Welcome to Canterlot, your highnesses,” Celestia spoke as they approached. “You are well met here.”

“Thank you for your welcome,” the lead Queen said. “I am Queen Tegmina. These are Prince Thorax, his brother Pharynx, and my fellow Queens - Metamorphia, Remigium, Scolopidia and Taenidia.” The quartet each nodded in turn, in the same order Celestia had observed their colors.

Celestia nodded back. “With me are my sister, Princess Luna, our niece Princess Cadance, and her husband Prince Shining Armor,” she said.

“It is a pleasure to meet all of you,” Queen Tegmina replied. “Allow us to present our companions.” She then moved to the side, allowing a group of wolves to step forward and introduce themselves as well while a large group of changelings kept to the distance, roughly twenty per each changeling Queen.

Once introductions had been completed, Celestia led the groups into the castle and towards one of the dining rooms. The same one she had held Swift-Pad’s own welcoming in, in fact, which she felt was appropriate. One by one, the visiting changelings and wolves found their seats, before she settled into her own place. She noted Shining Armor and Cadance had chosen to sit directly across from Prince Thorax and Pharynx.

“I understand you were the one to alert us to your former Queen’s attempt to attack our capital,” Shining Armor said directly to Thorax, who looked a little nervous.

“Yeah… yeah, that was me,” he said. “I just didn’t think it was right, what she was doing. I didn’t stand a chance going against her directly, but… I thought, if I could send a message, it might help.”

“It did,” Shining Armor told him. “Your actions saved a lot of lives that day.”

Thorax looked relieved with Pharynx snorting.

“You’re forgetting the real surprising part which was somehow convincing me and others to turn on her.” He said with Thorax squirming slightly. “My brother here was never the bravest or boldest changeling when we were young.”

Cadance gave Thorax a friendly smile. “You were willing to stand up for what you thought was right, even though you were probably terrified about what would happen if anyling found out,” she said. “I’d say that was plenty brave.”

“And I’ll second that,” Shining Armor added.

Thorax blushed. “Th… thank you,” he said.

Pharynx still looked a little cranky, but he nodded slowly.

Conversation turned to other things as food was brought in, the changelings happily feeding on the dishes that were offered. “Love and other positive energies are a necessity for our magic,” Queen Tegmina noted as she ate. “They’re also necessary for our ability to digest solid food. The former Queen usually looked down on letting her drones do that though. Just another way for her to control them.”

“Is it any wonder she was liked the least of any of us?” Queen Scolopidia muttered. “I’d almost swear the only members of her hive still following her are only doing it because they’re too scared or conditioned to think otherwise.”

“Mind yourself, Scolopidia,” Remigium chided sharply. “Despite her crimes, she is the oldest among us Queens and ruled one of the largest hives. Respect must be given even if it is for a nymph such as her.”

“Doesn’t change the fact that her personality left a lot to be desired,” Scolopidia retorted, but she went back to focusing on her food with a frown.

“You should always respect your enemies lest they take advantage of your distaste,” Princess Luna replied. “I have found that studying them and learning a respect for their methods makes it easier to figure out how they think and how best to counter their methods.” She grimaced. “Of course, had I not been asleep during that whole matter and thus unable to stand by my sister’s side, I suspect Chrysalis might have had a harder time getting as far as she did.”

Pharynx and Scolopidia both snorted, with the Queen doing an actual job in trying to hide it. The drone, on the other hoof, made no such attempt. “We all had our different bets to where you were that day and I just won the pool!” He grinned at the alicorn who was fixing her attention on him.

“So glad I could help you,” Luna said dryly. “My duties in directing the Night Guard and thus protecting our citizens during the dark hours require me to have a different circadian rhythm than most of our little ponies.” She gave her sister a look. “You said you had things handled with all the precautions you’d taken, and that it would be safe enough for me to keep to my normal hours and then pay my respects to our dear niece at the reception.”

“I know, Luna. I was wrong.” Celestia sighed.

“Hey, don’t blame yourself,” Pharynx said with a snort. “Chry-she was one of the best infiltrators ever and she had mentioned she had a very hard time penetrating your guard. I was to be one of the changelings who would have to try and deal with you if you showed up.” He shrugged. “You’re a well-trained soldier, and I don’t like risking lives in a battle that I don’t think we can win. Listening to my little bro meant not having to do that, so is it any wonder I gave him a chance?”

Luna gave him an odd smile with her wings twitching. “I see what you mean, though I am curious to what your methods would have been. Perhaps later on we could reconvene in the training yard?”

“That’s fine with me, your highness,” he said with his usual smirk, missing the grins on all of the changeling Queens’ and Cadance’s faces with Celestia’s eyebrow raising high.

The rest of the meal went calmly, with friendly conversations going on between the guests and Equestrians. There was one moment when Cadance’s squeal of delight led to a few of them having to cover their ears, but given the matter under discussion, none could blame them.

“You and I are absolutely attending their wedding,” she told Shining Armor, who nodded.

“If Ambassador Swift-Pad is a friend of my sister’s, I definitely want to meet him,” he said. “And his lady love.”

Queen Metamorphia gave a happy smile of her own. “I’m sure Maxilla and Swift-Pad would be glad to meet you as well,” she told the couple. “In fact, Maxilla was talking about using the same dress-maker you did for your wedding. Though her being a friend of Twilight’s was also part of that decision.”

“Rarity will probably be glad to hear that, if she hasn’t already,” Cadance said. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught a hint of a blush from Scolopidia. “I was very happy with her work.”

An hour after their meal was finished, the group reconvened in a distant wing of the castle with guards of ponies wolves and changeling positioned at each entry point. Thorax was standing firm with Pharynx close by, while Cadance faced him, the changeling Queens, Royal Sisters and Shining Armor standing around the edges of the room.

Cadance stared at him before blinking her eyes. “How is this to work, Prince Thorax?” she asked him.

“Well, I will need the love energy transferred to me,” he said, shifting on his hooves. “I can start the process to create a cocoon for myself; I can feel it beginning to start itself for a while but I wasn’t ready for it.”

“If that is the case then,” the alicorn said, tilting her horn towards him as she focused on the love she felt for her husband. Drawing on that love, she began channeling it, releasing a steady stream of magic for him.

As he drew it in, she could see Thorax beginning to glow, and a layer of magic forming itself around him. Slowly, slowly…

And then his eyes flew wide as he let out a startled cry.

“What’s wrong?” Cadance heard a voice shouting.

“That’s no normal cocoon,” she heard one of the other changelings say. “Something’s different about this metamorphosis!”

Yes… a voice suddenly said inside her mind - Thorax’s. It’s like what Princess Twilight did, but more! Keep it up!

Trying to tune out the outside voices, she reached inside herself and began funneling more magic to Thorax. She could feel a change beginning in him, and as he rose into the air, the cocoon not only enveloping him but directing a wave of magic at Pharynx, who let out a startled sound as he tried to funnel the magic back, only to be enveloped as well, and other changelings of their hive.

Finally, as Cadance released her magic, the last traces she had let out going to the siblings and flowing back and forth between them, before the cocoons wisped away to reveal their new forms.

Thorax now stood far taller than he had, his chitin smoother and largely changed to a yellowish-green while his body had become a darker, but still healthy green, his main wings now purple while their protective coverings were reddish. There was an orangish color where his neck met his body, and a pair of antler-like mandibles stuck out of his head in the same orange, while his original horn was still between them, the same yellowish green as most of his body. The holes that had covered his legs had vanished.

Pharynx, on the other hoof, looked almost the same, though he was a little shorter and his mandibles weren’t as big. He was a dark cyan where Thorax was yellow-green, reddish on his chest, wings and mandible horns, and purple on his wing coverings, with his underside a lighter purple.

The other changelings had also transformed, generally looking like smaller versions of Thorax and Pharynx, minus the mandible-type horns, though some retained the central horns they’d previously sported. They came in several colors, including winged green changelings with fringed horns, winged mint green changelings with no horns, cyan changelings with no tails and two-pointed horns, blue-green changelings with no tails and two-pointed horns, yellow changelings with simple horns and winged Thorax-colored changelings with fringed horns.

“What just happened?” Queen Remigium asked, blinking her eyes.

“It’s what we’ve been missing all along,” Thorax said in awe. “When I was changing… I started giving off the energies Princess Cadance was feeding me. I sent it out to my brother, and the rest of my hive… and when we started sharing the love, this happened!”

“That’s impossible,” Metamorphia said, shaking her head. “We have been Queens for a long time; we would have known if... this,” she gestured towards the colourful changelings. “Was possible.”

“No, we wouldn't,” Scolopidia said, shaking her head. “We’ve been listening to Chrysalis for too long; she always taught us the only way to gain love was by taking it. We never once thought of freely sharing it, even in the cases like your former nymph Maxilla, it was donated from their partners.” She still looked slightly stunned. “I think the first time I’ve seen love being freely shared was when Princess Twilight gave hers to Thorax. And now… now this.”

Looking at the transformed changelings, Queen Tegmina smiled. “Well, King Thorax,” she said. “I think you have made what is quite possibly the most incredible discovery in the history of our people.”

“But… what about our holes?” Queen Taenidia asked. “They symbolize our ties to our parents and our past Queens. Giving them up just seems…”

“We are a long-lived species, and we can make sure the knowledge and stories are passed down,” Scolopidia said with a dismissive wave of her hoof, examining Thorax who was now at eye level with her. “We can also change our appearance if you have forgotten. In any case, I don’t think it will be as easy as just sharing love. Both times that King Thorax changed, it was due to two very powerful ponies giving him their power that greatly shortened the time for his metamorphosis. For all we know, triggering this new change for all of us would take a Queen accepting an alicorn’s willing donation to share among our people.”

“I think that may be because Thorax hadn’t gathered enough love for a full change on his own,” Queen Tegmina said softly. “I’d be willing to test if it’s needed or not.” Turning to one of her own changelings, she closed her eyes and focused, pouring a stream of magic out of her body to them.

And with a gasp, the ribbon-like traces of a cocoon formed around her, before vanishing to reveal a changeling queen much akin in form to Thorax, mandible horns and all, though her colors now largely matched her original brilliant green mane.

The others looked on in awe, before Metamorphia spoke. “I believe we have our answer,” she said.

One by one, the Queens began following Tegmina’s lead, along with the other changelings in the room, until all of them had transformed and were looking around admiring their new forms.

Standing back and shaking his head, Pharynx gave his brother a look. “You know, I kinda like being taller,” he said. “And actually feeling full feels really good. But there’s one thing about this that bugs me a little.”

“What’s that?” Thorax asked.

“Those antlers… they make you look like a moose!”

Without a word, Thorax turned directly to him, and Pharynx found himself wishing he had a camera to immortalize that dumbstruck look on his brother’s face.

Next Chapter: Chapter Two Estimated time remaining: 3 Hours, 55 Minutes
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