Pain! The sun began setting and the Changeling's head felt like exploding as unconsciousness gave way to an incredible pressure. Pain! Her vision returned and she saw the horrific killing field. Hundreds if not thousands of her fellow Changelings dead or dying. Their bodies evaporating into the air as a water puddle evaporates on a hot summer day and the air thick with the stench of death. Pain! The Changeling looked at her own body and the damage that was done to it.
The Changeling tried to stand and more pain shot through her left rear leg as it buckled. It was broken. The Changeling whimpered in her mind. She saw one partially formed Changeling ten feet from her. The Changeling limped to the injured changeling. The two changelings looked at each other with blank expressions. The limping Changeling waited for the other changeling to communicate or to melt into a healing puddle to rapidly heal itself. The injured changeling coughed once and went limp. Whatever spark of life was in the Changeling's eyes was gone.
The Changeling shook her head and sadness fill her heart. All around was death and destruction. Even the plant life did not escape the attacker's wrath. The Changeling clicked the roof of her mouth in growing anger. She knew who to blame for the massacre. Chrysalis the undisputed Queen of the Changelings. This carnage has Queen Chrysalis' hoofprints all over it. Only Chrysalis would let such wanton death and destruction happen just because she could.
The Changeling saw a hill. It was a good spot to see how bad things are. The Changeling made her way to the top of the hill. Being a Flyer, the Changeling equivalent of a Pegasus, she wanted to fly but with her broken leg landing would be too hard. She wanted to become a Healing Puddle. She was in mental shock and the Healing Puddle had to be done with total concentration. She limped up the hill. She stopped half way and rubbed her broken leg and tried to speed up the changeling's ability to quickly heal. It worked after a fashion. Some of the pain was gone but the bone was still broke.
The Changeling reached the top of the hill. At the top of the hill grew tall grass left untouched by the death and destruction below. The grass was taller than the average changeling and pony. She made her way through the grass. She reached the edge and looked down into a small valley. Fifty feet from the hiding spot, Chrysalis was killing (no, murdering, the Changeling thought) off the injured and dying. It was not an act of mercy or compassion. It was Chrysalis being herself.
The Changeling's growing anger caused her body to shake. The grass moved enough for Chrysalis or one of her personal guards to see it and mentally relay the information to Chrysalis via the Hive Mind. In either case Chrysalis looked up the hill and knew something hid in the tall grass. She and her guards made their way up the hill. The Changeling got a closer look at the Changeling Queen. 'She looks like I feel,' the Changeling thought to herself.
Fearing started to grip the Changeling as Chrysalis got closer. Chrysalis killed Changelings that had serious injuries. A broken leg is the same death warrant as internal bleeding. The Changeling thought fast. She could not fly or run. She could transform. The Changeling transformed into a rabbit. The tall grass blocked Chrysalis' view of the visual magic caused by the transformation. The leg was broken. No matter the form, an injury is an injury. It was how shape-shifting worked for changelings.
The Changeling limped away. Chrysalis and her guard pushed the grass down leaving the Changeling exposed. "Can't hide from me," said Chrysalis. Her gleeful expression became disdain seeing a rabbit.
"A rabbit. . .or are you?" Chrysalis leaned nose to nose to the Changeling. The Changeling Queen focused on the Hive Mind. "Just a rabbit. We can still have some fun."
Chrysalis turned into a rabbit. The Changeling backed away in fear. Whatever the Queen had in mind would end up with the Changeling in so much pain she would wish she was dead provided Chrysalis did not come up with a creative way to kill her.
"A race from here to the bottom of the hill and back up. The winner gets to live," explained Chrysalis. "You have a broken leg. Let's make it interesting. I can heal your leg or I could do something else to balance you out."
The Changeling's spine turned to ice. Whenever Chrysalis wanted to make things interesting it meant a lot more pain than can be imagined. The Changeling backed away in fear. What could she do? Even at full strength she would be no match for Chrysalis. Long sharp claws grew from Chrysalis' rabbit paws. The Changeling knew right then Chrysalis did not want to break her other legs. She was going to use those claws to amputate. Chrysalis stood tall in her rabbit form as the Changeling cowered unable to do anything. Chrysalis raised a paw and with manic desire and expression went to strike.
Chrysalis stopped and transformed back into her natural self. She looked to the west toward Canterlot and through the memories of the Changelings near that kingdom she saw a platoon of Pegasi flying toward her location. Chrysalis gave the mental command to retreat. She did what she set out to do and did not want to stir up more problems. She looked down at the Changeling.
"We won't get to have our race but I can't leave you without a parting gift," said the Queen. She kicked the Changeling hard enough crack ribs.
The Changeling watched Chrysalis fly away with her guard flanking her. Minutes later shadows passed over the Changeling. The shadows were from Pegasi. They flew in the same direction as Chrysalis.
The Changeling crawled into a thicket of grass that Chrysalis did not ruin. The Changeling almost passed out again trying to transform back to normal. The broken leg and now cracked ribs. The Changeling laid exhausted and tired. She felt the lure of sleep and did not resist. She started to drift off to sleep. She was nearly asleep when she woke up in stark realization.
Chrysalis did not know the rabbit was a changeling. A slow frightening realization came to the Changeling's mind and finally realized she was not linked to the Mind Hive. A changeling is always connected to the Hive Mind except for things like dying (1) or acts of reproduction(2). Other than those things a changeling cannot willingly engage or disengage from the Hive Mind. Only the Queen can willingly tune in or tune out the Hive Mind.
The Changeling did the equivalent of closing her eyes and focused on the Hive Mind. For a microsecond she felt something but then the connection was gone. She took a painful breath and tried again. This time nothing at all. She was free from Chrysalis. She then began to doubt. This could be some kind of mental trick by Chrysalis. To force a changeling to disengage from the Hive Mind with the belief of being free. Sometime later Chrysalis appears and does whatever acts of sadism to the changeling.
If freedom was a temporary thing then the Changeling would not give Chrysalis the satisfaction. The Changeling laid in the same spot, never moving for two days. Her hunger and thirst grew along with the pain caused by her wounds. She slipped in an out of consciousness while waiting for Chrysalis to come back and finish the job or whatever she had in mind. On the evening of the second day a thought entered the Changeling's mind.
"Are you that stupid? If the Queen was going to do whatever she would have done it by now! Why won't you realize that you are FREE?" This was Changeling's own Inner Voice.
"Queen Chrysalis, you can't fool me! Do whatever you're going to do and be done with it!" thought the Changeling.
"Look within as much as you can. You will realize that I am not Chrysalis!" shot back the Inner Voice.
The Changeling feeling she now had nothing to lose did as the voice said. She became introspective and discovered that other voice was her. The deep subconscious self made up of intuition and instinct. It took a half-hour for the Changeling to accept the truth of her freedom.
The Changeling then wondered how she could have broken free. The memories came as she began to realize the truth. She got hit in the face by powerful magic and falling to the ground. The last thing the Changeling felt was her head being stepped on and her helmet cracking as she tried to keep it as dense and hard as possible(3).
Any hard blow to the head is a risk for brain damage. Sometimes one of the senses becomes damaged or lost because the signals between the organ and the brain gets ruined or disrupted. The part of a changeling's brain that permits access to the Hive Mind is no different from the eyes or ears. The damage was enough to make the Changeling telepathically deaf, mute, and blind.
The Changeling wanted to heal as the pain, hunger, and thirst became worse. The Changeling decided to risk the healing puddle. The healing puddle is a way for a Changeling to rapidly heal. It is akin to a reset button. It is also a changeling's most vulnerable form. Changelings cannot use defensive or offensive measures and they enter a deep dreamless sleep. Their form is so loose and fragile that something merely stepping on the puddle causes a great enough shock to the changeling to disrupt its ability to transform. A changeling that cannot come out of a healing puddle will die of thirst and starvation as its body starts to dissolve.
The Changeling focused and started to melt into a dark liquid goo. The Changeling gave a silent sigh of relief as the pain in her leg and chest began to fade. The healing puddle was so relaxing and the Changeling started to fall asleep. She did enter sleep for a second then awoke with a start. Only her head remained formed. She had to revert back to normal. If she entered the deep sleep she would fully melt and the healing puddle would repair her brain damage. That would connect her back to the Hive Mind and back under Chrysalis' control.
She strained her liquid body to form. Front legs rose and grew out of the puddle. The Changeling began pulling herself out. As she lifted herself and reverted her back to normal. It was like how a trapped animal stuck in muck and mud uses its front legs and to try pull itself out. The Changeling breathed heavily as her body fully reformed. She felt pain in her chest and rear leg. This pain was more pulled muscles than broken bones.
The Changeling's stomach growled. She looked at the tall grass and shuddered. Changeling do not need to eat solid food but they will if there is nothing with emotions nearby. The Changeling ate the grass while trying not to gag or get sick in her stomach.
The Changeling looked around her as the land darkened into night. She looked in one direction that lead to Princess Celestia and the Ponies. In the other direction were Queen Chrysalis and the Changelings. Everywhere else led to lands that were unknown to the Changeling. A new question came to the Changeling.
'What am I supposed to do now?'
The End. . .
. . .
. . .For Now
(1) Changelings will disconnect from the Mind Hive when dying to prevent other changeling to emotionally experience direct death and the mental anguish and trauma. Chrysalis however can force a dying changeling to remain connected.
(2) In an odd twist Chrysalis keeps reproduction a private matter between two mating changelings and never interferes. This does not mean that mating changelings are free from Chrysalis' control. Its just that the act of reproduction is not 'shared' among the Hive Mind.
(3) Changeling can not only change from one life form to another they can also harden or increase the density of parts of their body structure. This lets changelings 'grow' natural armor that is as durable as the armor worn by Pony Guards.