FimFiction Link - Short ID: 455832/the-changeling-mission
Published: Apr '22
'The Changeling Mission' is a three thousand and eight hundred-word oneshot. It details the creation and deployment of Chrysalis, who is revealed to be the part of something far greater.
This story makes me very frustrated, because I really want to praise it, but I can't really do so. On one hand, there is a clear display of the author's creativity when it comes to the very alien locations and machines Chrysalis (or "QC" as she's called in this story) visits. Though they could use a bit more detailing, what the author did write is nicely eerie and alien. The only issue I really have with the descriptive parts of the prose is the number of run-on sentences in the story. There are far too many of them and they almost all span nearly entire paragraphs. Similarly, the idea that Changelings are an interplanetary species colonizing and terraforming planets is also interesting, especially with the parallels the story draws with Half-Life's Combine. There is the seed of a deeply intriguing and perhaps even horrifying sci-fi plot about ponykind facing off against an insignificant scouting party of an unbelievably great empire.
But, instead of anything like that, the story quickly buckles under one main flaw: The aliens (i.e. Changelings) are not nearly alien enough. Their base acts like a bog-standard sci-fi space station with AI voices and whatnot. The characters chat with each other, even though they're supposed to be little more than the sentient pawns of an unseen Overmind. Said Overmind is almost depicted as something to be pitied by the story stating "its attention is already stretched out too thin."
Long story short, despite the macabre imagery and supposedly horrifying purpose, I'm not getting the image of indecipherable and unfeeling bioweapons, but rather a slightly-wonky organization that is powerful, but, instead of being overwhelmingly so, is clearly vulnerable. This is only further exacerbated by Celestia and Luna very causally wrecking the Chrysalis' ship without even realizing they are being attacked, which somehow completely severs Chrysalis' connection with the Overmind, leaving her witless and barely surviving only because the two sisters are far too busy bickering with each other. It's almost comedic instead of feeling like Equestria narrowly escaped destruction.
Overall: 5/10 This is probably the easiest five-ten I've ever given, though I'm certainly not happy about it. There is so much I like about this story, its concept, some of its descriptions, the first few scenes where there is no dialogue are all great. However, the author's insistence on explaining everything in ironically "down-to-earth" terms wrecked the mood for me. Do I recommend this story? I honestly don't know. I think parts of it are definitely worth a look, but the plot itself largely disappointed me.