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Not your ordinary Changeling.

"I have always been… different. Special. Aberrant. I possess less of the ability to control my emotions. Curiosity compels me, and not merely towards outside of the hive. Amongst our kind, lack of fine emotional control is embarrassing, but tolerated in some respects. Hunters are allowed more leeway with anger, as it bolsters offensive capability. Nursemaids to the hatchlings are encouraged to be affectionate, to ensure that the young are well fed. Scouts are driven by curiosity, the urge to see more. Gatherers… Well. Much is presumed about the gatherers. But rarely do they spend much time within the hive. My curiosity, however, was for how things work. This may seem like no crime. However, the hive runs like the gears of a clock. Our tasks are completed in the manner they were explained, and no more. One does not simply alter the schedule. And the hive has little tolerance for unimportant questions. Curiosity does not warrant concern from a drone, especially one tasked to expansion of the nest, as I was..."
Idol Hooves
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The Changeling of the Guard is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic by VDrake77. It is the story of Idol Hooves, a very unusual changeling.

After being exiled from the hive by Queen Chrysalis for the crime of questioning the rigid protocol of changeling society, Rogue Drone Idol travels Equestria in search of his own identity, meeting other ponies along the way and attempting to satisfy the curiosity that got him exiled in the first place. The problem is, drone changelings like Idol aren't exactly equipped to blend in for long periods of time... and of course, his natural form would be most unwelcome among ponyfolk. Is there any place in Equestria that Idol can truly call his own?

Yes there is: in Princess Celestia's Royal Guard.

Initially set a number of years before Luna's redemption, the author promises that the story will eventually catch up to the events of A Canterlot Wedding and beyond.

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A sequel called "There's Something About Merry" is now in progress.

A sequel called "Changeling Perspectives", an anthology of short stories from the perspective of Idol and others, has now begun and can be read here.

Idol and Topaz have a Character Blog, "Out of Idol Curiosity", which can be found here.

Featured on Equestria Daily.

As of September 2015, The Changeling of the Guard is #1 on Fimfiction.Net!


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This story contains examples of:

  • Achievements in Ignorance: Because Idol's character is wrapped up in just how astoundingly ignorant of the world outside of the Changeling Hive he is, and the naivety that ensues from that, he sometimes manages to achieve incredible feats without even realizing the enormity of what he's doing.
    • Early on, Idol manages to find his way into a lost temple right before Daring Do and Ahuizotl show up - and marvels at the imagery on the walls, grows annoyed when loose stones cause spikes, darts and arrows to try to impale him, and eventually just passes by all the (undoubtedly trapped) loot within to grab a mysteriously enchanted gob-er, chalice. He then escapes without qualm or concern, completely and utterly failing to realize what he's just done.
    • After moving to Canterlot, he ends up joining the Royal Guard simply because he was told to do so by one of the recruiters. Those recruiters lampshade this in the next chapter by commenting on just how unlikely that spiel was to actually work.
    • On his first patrol, he apprehends a thief... by walking off the bridge and dropping onto them, having failed to realize that ponies aren't supposed to just jump off of high places like that.
    • Upon a visit to Manehatten, he fails to realize that the apple souvenirs are actually made of wood and not supposed to be eaten... even after taking bite out of one and finding it thoroughly inedible.
    • In a non-Idol example, Topaz tries to give Idol a present in the form of a cured hydra chop. Unfortunately, having misunderstood the instructions from the griffon she bought it from, she stored it in exactly the wrong place, causing it to basically rot instead of curing. However, by doing so, she created what was effectively a changeling delicacy.
  • Accidental Harem: Through sheer cluelessness, Idol Hooves unwittingly manages to attract the romantic attentions of Topaz (his pegasus landlady), Mothchaser (a thestral in the Night Guard), and even Maud Pie. At the least, Pinkie Pie believes Maud's interest in Idol goes beyond "pen pals", and she did apply pumice perfume to her latest letter to him...
  • Adorkable: Topaz, when it comes to insects. See Nerdgasm below.
  • Alien Catnip / I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin!: Changelings have interesting reactions to honey or anything with a lot of sugar in it. They are insects, after all...
  • Alien Lunch: The giant timberwolf heart, of which Shining reluctantly admits he kind of wants seconds.
  • All Genes Are Co-Dominant: Averted. As mentioned in passing when Pinkie Pie brings up the idea of Idol & Maud having foals, and expanded upon in the blog, changelings can interbreed with ponies, but the offspring are always changelings.
  • Almighty Janitor: By the time we catch up to canon, Idol has served in the royal guards for almost 10 years but is still only ranked at the very bottom. Celestia makes it clear that he's long been overqualified for a rise in rank.
  • Audio Adaptation: Beginning in November 2017, the youtube channel Fanfiction Reader began featuring this story as read by a computer voice. Begin listening here. There is another reading by the youtube channel Equiniox3141, this live reading of the story can be found here
    • The author has expressed amusement at some of the effects caused by having a computer read the story.
  • Bee People: Changeling society and hive structure is expanded upon in great detail, though very little of the story actually takes place in "The Hive" itself. As it turns out, changelings subvert things in some very key ways; they consist of equal male and female members, who reproduce individually (and Idol is quite dumbfounded by the thought that Queen Chrysalis would be the sole birthing member of the hive) but raise their offspring collectively. Whilst they do have an instinctive ability to commune with each other, it's empathic in nature, not telepathic; unlike a true Hive Mind, changelings have individual personalities and can't communicate complicated information to each other through their psychic abilities - though Queen Chrysalis is able to create "Orders" that function as imprinted psychic compulsions. It's subtly muddied in that we have no idea how much of the Hive's social structure is natural, and how much is Queen Chrysalis' tyranny.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Wasta Matter's name, as mentioned below, refers to an Arabian word about, essentially, nepotism. Also, it's only slightly different to "Watsa Matter", a very coarse/lowbrow English pronunciation of "what's the matter?".
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Idol Hooves has quite some difficulties in understanding Pony mentality and morality, due to his own cultural teachings.
  • Brick Joke: During chapter 29 Shining Armor says that if Idol could find a just cause to jump off a bridge he'd join him. In the next chapter he attempts to go through with his word, when Idol jumps off a bridge to arrest a thief.
  • Broken Pedestal: Downplayed, but when Idol talks to Topaz in chapter 48 about having learned that Queen Chrysalis has Ordered him to never have offspring, he admits that whilst he cannot not love her due to being the Queen, he also thinks that he hates her, at least a little. He is clearly heartbroken about the revelation.
  • Bury Your Gays: The eventually outed as gay-stallion-turned-mare Merry Meadows is seemingly killed off in the same chapter his sexuality is revealed... only to be averted in the sequel fic, "There's Something About Merry",
  • Call-Back: In chapter 41, there is mention of a Daring Do book featuring Ahuizotl and a figure on the cover that looks suspiciously like Idol.
  • The Cameo: Idol accidentally runs into Daring Do and Ahuizotl in the middle of a confrontation, causing a hell of a lot of confusion for both of them.
  • Character Blog: Out of Idol Curiosity
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • After completing his guard's training, whilst alone with Shining Armor and Cadance, the two ponies wonder if Idol Hooves mightn't be some kind of time-displaced refugee from the Crystal Empire. The thought nearly knocks Idol off of his hooves as he triggers an Order from Queen Chrysalis demanding he stay away from the frozen north. Whilst that gun hasn't fired yet, it's a pretty obvious hint that the origins of the changelings may lie with the Crystal Empire.
    • After learning that he, like all exiles, is compelled to be unable to have children, Idol Hooves admits to having started to hate Queen Chrysalis. Again, this gun hasn't fired, but it's obviously setting things up for Idol to formally turn on Chrysalis at some point.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: To be fair, Idol hasn't exactly had a whole lot of experience outside of the hive, but some of the things he does are... strange. Such as filling his saddlebags with cement mixture after his first encounter with it, and mistaking a prison cell for comfortable lodging space.
  • Clueless Chick Magnet: Idol Hooves' ignorance about pony courtship customs and his instinctive niceness combines into a potent ability to attract pony mares, without him even realizing it. He and Topaz are recurrently mistaken for a couple, he charms Topaz's mother on their first meeting without intending it, he is implied to have unwittingly Mothchaser (who has been making strongly implied propositions to him that he has just never decoded), and even Pinkie Pie has come to believe that Idol has actually caught her sister Maude's eye. After all, Maude doesn't apply her pumice perfume to every letter that she sends, just the ones to Idol. And all the while, Idol has only a minimal realization of it, although he is shown to have an unrealized attraction to Topaz and, despite his confusion, he start instinctively thinking about offspring when Pinkie declares he and Maud would have cute foals together.
    • He gets a little less clueless when Topaz bluntly informs him that Mothchaser has been sexually attracted and signalling her interest in him for some time. Though even then he tries to defend that Mothchaser isn't interested in that sort of thing... which just makes Topaz fall over laughing again.
  • Crazy Awesome: In chapter 24, Idol comes up with a suggestion for dealing with a Timber Wolf that falls squarely into this: to stop it constantly reassembling itself, he and Shining Armor smash it to pieces and eat its heart. In-Universe, everyone can't believe Idol actually managed to think up something like this.
  • Cross Cultural Kerfuffle: It's the running gag in the story that Idol will consistently mistake or misinterpret pony customs. Sometimes he's corrected, sometimes he's not.
    • When establishing his default form with Topaz in chapter 10, he mentions taking on a unicorn identity he named "Silver Spell". An aghast Topaz explains that name belongs to an infamous Politically Incorrect Villain, a unicorn tribalist bigot whose entire character revolves around giving her nephew hell for being involved with a pegasus. Due to the connotations, there hasn't been a real unicorn named that in the last two or three generations. She mentions that pegasus and earth pony names with similar negative connotations are "Cloud Brain" and "Mud Hoof".
    • His most recurring example of this is that he's taken to placing a sock on the door when a fellow changeling exile shows up seeking his help. Idol knows that this will keep any ponies from intruding, allowing him the privacy he seeks, but he has no idea that they do this because such a symbol signals that he's having sex. This has given him a reputation as a hugely successful ladykiller. He finally learns about this mistake in chapter 50, and is mortified.
    • Idol Hooves actually gets the chance to be on the other end of this in one chapter, when his fellow Day Guard, Bigflank, responds to a female griffon's thread posturing by flexing so hard he bursts the rivets in his armor. Said griffon promptly surrenders... and then keeps committing more petty crimes, until Idol clears up that Bigflank basically just gave her one hell of a sexual proposition, as such posing is part of griffon courtship. Bigflank is mortified, especially as he has an off-and-on relationship with fellow Guardspony Wispy at the time.
      Idol Hooves: Sergeant Bigflank did not so much... ah... push her buttons, as it is that he... typed a very improper letter with a great deal of bad grammar.
  • Declining Promotion: Idol has, during his 10 years as a guard, repeatedly been offered and turned down promotion to the point that Cadance and Topaz eventually make a bet over it. It's implied that his natural instincts as a worker drone causes him to shy away from roles that involve having authority, seeing himself as unworthy of the position.
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: Idol Hooves's reaction to his first encounter with Cadance. Ironically, he didn't have this same sort of reaction to meeting Celestia, though for justifiable reason; because Cadance has a unique affinity for love magic, her presence is vastly magnified in Idol's senses, making him read her as being far more powerful than Celestia. Consequently, he's literally awestruck the moment he meets her, and can hardly comprehend how Shining Armor is not overcome by the same mind-scrambling urge to obey her.
    I am incapable of expressing what I saw, what I experienced. This was no simple being, no sentient creature of mere physical flesh and bone. Celestia, praise her, is many things, powerful, beautiful, and wise, but even at her strongest, I am able to look upon her.
    When Princess Cadance first stood before me and was introduced, I knew the truth of how insignificant I truly am. This was no mere sunny warmth from Celestia, it was a molten inferno of raw, unimaginable might. Power poured forth from her like a tsunami, and it was all I could do to weather the storm that was she. My body hurt from the pressure around it, and none of the others so much as noticed. When I was told she would be performing this surprise inspection to allow her to choose two ponies to have the privilege of escorting her around Canterlot for the day, I knew terror. I would be found wanting, must be found wanting, and had never had any right to stand in her presence. I was no warrior drone, no defender of the realm by blood, and-
  • Dork Knight: In a Mythology Gag to the comics, it's revealed that Shining Armor still plays the setting's Dungeons & Dragons expy. Amusingly, Cadance herself also plays, to the point that part of their flirtations in chapter involve quipping about their respective characters. Shining plays The Paladin, while Cadance plays a ranger.
  • Emotion Eater: This applies to all of the changelings, but Idol explains that emotions of all kinds, not just love, can serve as nourishment for changelings. Different emotions can have different effects on the one who's feeding. And it can be taken too far... see Empty Shell below.
  • Empty Shell: What happens when a Changeling feeds on somepony's emotions too much. Idol does this to poor Topaz by accident, just by feeding on her interest. She can barely walk, speak, or eat until he manages to snap her out of it. He also mentions that this has happened on occasion to the parents of hatchlings in The Hive... their own children can consume them if they feed them too much love.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: Mothchaser mentions in private there's a running joke/theory among the guards that Idol isn't a pony, but rather a golem construct. Idol sees no reason to deny it.
  • Everypony Can See It: Bold and Wispy have an on-again, off-again relationship where they are both clearly in love with each other, but worry the other doesn't consider the relationship as "serious".
  • Exact Words: Going along with Idol's Literal-Minded nature, he occasionally uses this to his advantage. For example, when Celestia tells him to take a day off before the return of Nightmare Moon, he realizes that because it's not daytime, he should be free to continue his duties. This creative interpretation leads Celestia to finally give him the promotion he was trying to avoid.
  • The Exile: Queen Chrysalis banishes Idol from her hive for going against the established order.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Idol Hooves naturally. Besides the fact that he feeds on emotions he has no problem eating meat as well as vegetation and he's not picky about the meat either, whether it be snakes, scorpions or insects. During his guard training he eats six MREs and asked for more, to the sheer disbelief of his commanding officers and fellow trainees. Later still he eats a stew that Topaz made for him that had crushed egg shells in it by mistake without seeing any problems with it and in the morning is shown to have no problem drinking said stew while it was boiling hot (Topaz, on the other hoof...). Then of course there's him suggesting that he and Shining Armor eat a timber woof's "heart" to keep it from regenerating (noted to taste almost like meat with the texture of wood). When he's questioned on the subject by Topaz he admits that his only standard for food is that it's edible and doesn't make him ill.
    • In chapter 34, in a double-doozy, he reveals he took a bite out of a wooden apple paperweight, and reveals that Topaz's unwittingly-rotted hydra chop is essentially a changeling gourmet delicacy.
    • During the events of his first visit to the Everfree Forest, he's disappointed at not getting the chance to scavenge from a half-eaten manticore.
    • When Luna gets sick, Idol manages to eat an entire napkin with his meal while watching over her.
  • The Face: Silver Tongue is this for the caravan. Idol describes her as knowing when to "lay it on thick", though he doesn't quite understand the meaning of the expression.
  • Foreshadowing: Way back in chapter six, Rough Shod describes how Zaimare became the leader of the caravan, in a way describing how Idol, years later, would become the unofficial leader of the Changeling Exiles in Equestria.
    Idol Hooves: “But… but who chose her to lead them?”
    Rough Shod: “Nopony did. Colt, they just followed her. That’s how these things start. Nopony points at somepony and just says ‘there’s your leader’, what kind of bucking sense would that make? She knew what she was doing and where she was going, they bucking didn’t. If they hadn’t followed her, there wouldn’t be a caravan. She’d still be pulling her own cart and these folks would be trudging along and waiting for a barge.
  • Freak Out!: The Dentist that examined Idol ends up having one when he realizes that all of Idol's teeth have vastly different ages from 26 years old to a baby tooth. He subsequently learns to extend his disguise to his teeth afterwards.
  • Gender Bender: Merry Meadows, one of the guards in the Everfree outpost, gets switched from male to female when exposed to Poison Joke. It's explained as being one part an Incredibly Lame Pun based on his/her name (Merry = Mare-ey), and one part ironic; the stallion in question is gay and suffers from repressive parents, but being a mare means his sexuality no longer makes him a "colt cuddler".
  • Genius Loci: The Everfree Forest is presented as alive and aware, and quite hostile to boot.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Chrysalis banishes Idol from the hive simply for questioning its structure. And poor Idol, not knowing any better, doesn't blame her in the least for this...
  • Gory Discretion Shot: All that's ever found of Merry Meadows is their blood-spattered chestplate in the rogue timber wolf's den. This becomes Never Found the Body as of the sequel.
  • Hero of Another Story: If Word of God is to be believed, when the story catches up to A Canterlot Wedding, we'll see what happens in that episode from Idol's perspective. He might even visible in the episode as one of the background Royal Guards...
  • Hive Caste System: It's the story of a changeling being exiled from such a system, and what happens afterward.
  • The Ingenue: Idol is a male, but he otherwise fits this to a tee. Seeing as he's recounting his first time exploring the world outside his hive, his naivety is understandable.
  • Interspecies Romance: There are subtle hints that Topaz is sexually/romantically attracted to Idol, even though she knows he's a changeling. Come chapter 29, this turns into a case of Everyone Can See It, where her crush is so obvious that one of their friends, Wispy, tries to add a helping hoof by setting Topaz up to accidentally kiss Idol after pushing her into him.
    • It's not entirely one-sided, either; though he doesn't realize what he's feeling, Idol Hooves does enjoy the kiss, finds himself very distracted by Topaz's lips whilst apologizing to her afterwards, and feels upset (much to his confusion) at the idea of Topaz looking to find a pony to date.
    • He's actually quite dismayed to learn that one of his Orders is to never have children.
    • There are insinuations that Maud Pie is also attracted to Idol; though she thinks he's just a pony, the fact Idol's identity is a unicorn and she's an earth pony means it still counts.
    • Mothchaser, a female thestral in the Night Guard who also believes Idol is just a unicorn, counts as well. Reaches a crescendo in chapter 50 in which she finally gets Idol to "invite her to bed" — not knowing that Idol didn't understand what she was talking about until he goes and speaks to Topaz.
  • Is That What They're Calling It Now?: "Manticore attack".
  • Lame Pun Reaction: When Idol says that had Bold been 'egging on' a griffoness, it would have been a hate crime, the whole squad groans, and Wispy berates Sharp Tack for giving him a straight line.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The rogue Timber Wolf that apparently killed and ate at least one pony gets killed and eaten by two ponies — well, a pony and a changeling.
  • Literal-Minded: Sort of like a Changeling version of Drax, Idol tends to have trouble understanding metaphors and figures of speech. There are quite a few Expospeak Gags relating to phrases he finds confusing, some of which are very subtle. There are hints that, even by changeling standards, he's pretty literal-minded.
  • Loophole Abuse: Idol, somewhat unintentionally, does this when he's ordered to take at least two days off every month in order to work off some of his accumulated personal days. Specifically, when Nightmare Moon returns and the sun doesn't rise he decides he can go to work because he was ordered to take the day off. Celestia doesn't buy it and promotes him to Corporal on the spot when she finds out.
  • Nerdgasm: Topaz, an entomologist, has one upon discovering Idol's true nature.
  • No Sense of Humor: Idol completely misses most of Wasta's humor at first, though he comes to find it fascinating... to the point that in a later chapter, he horrifies Topaz with an ill-timed joke about changeling drones typically eating other drones that have been injured. Topaz is not amused.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Thanks to his complete ignorance in regards pony sexual customs and innuendo, Idol has a tendency to end up in very sexually provocative positions without meaning to. Like in chapter 37, when he goes snooping in Topaz's closet, finds a French Maid Outfit she keeps for personal use, mistakes it for a real uniform, and proceeds to dress up in it and start cleaning the house... in which state he's caught by Topaz and Honey Dew.
  • Oblivious to Love: A variant; Idol Hooves is completely ignorant of sex and sexuality, resulting in a propensity for unintentionally using Double Entendres and Cross Cultural Kerfuffle. It's one of the reasons why he's a Clueless Chick Magnet. It's justified in that the changelings of his hive take an extremely utilitarian approach to breeding; they interact just long enough to produce larvae, and then go their separate ways, although it's unclear if that's natural for them or a result of Queen Chrysalis meddling.
    • Zigzagged with Idol's relationship with Topaz. He slowly becomes slightly aware that he feels something different for her, but he hasn't worked out what it is that he's feeling.
    • Invoked; Cadance's ability to view love doesn't work with ponies she herself is close to. She considers it a double-edged sword; whilst it serves as Paranoia Fuel for her about how much the ponies she loves actually love her back, it also prevents her from being able to abuse her powers to make others love her. In Chapter 55, Idol notes that he seems to be similarly ignorant to Mothchaser's attraction to him — to the extent that he can't even taste the emotions he's involuntarily feeding on when she's passionately kissing him. He has no idea why he suffers from this "colorblindness", as it were, given he's used to relying on his emotional perception powers to interact with others.
  • Oh My Gods!: Idol Hooves has a tendency to invoke Order as a higher-power when making oaths or cursing. Shining Armor lampshades it at one point in chapter 38, and notes that it's quite unusual; ponies swear by Harmony or Celestia (which they have been doing throughout the fic), griffons by deity, minotaurs by land, and dragons by the dragonlord.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Chapter 1 of "Changeling Perspectives", "The Nurse", reveals that Idol Hooves' personalized pony form maintains the exact same color scheme as his normal changeling form. The only differences are, of course, the physical traits - presence or absence of holes, horn shape, wings and so forth.
    • Its justified in that most ponies believe Changelings are a myth and wouldn't spot the comparison, and it means that a quick glance at Idol undisguised can be excused as their eyes playing tricks on them
  • Prim and Proper Bun: Topaz ends up adopting this look when she becomes a professor during the Time Skip. Idol is rather uncomfortable with the change and prefers her original look.
  • Pungeon Master: Wasta Matter, fitting given his name.
  • Punny Name: Wasta Matter's name is a two-fold one. Firstly, "Wasta" is a concept in Arabian cultures that refers to getting things done through favoritism instead of merit using one's connections (basically Nepotism). Secondly, it sounds pretty close to "Watsa Matter" (a lowbrow English pronunciation of "What's the matter?"), which fits his laidback, easy-going, borderline irresponsible personality.
    • Idol Hooves himself — it sounds like "idle hooves", a ponyfication of "idle hands" (distracted or lazy). This both references why he was exiled (thinking instead of just working), and is ironic, considering how hard Idol works by pony standards.
  • Quest for Identity: It forms the crux of Idol's journey, though it takes him a while to realize. This includes choosing a name for himself... Topaz shoots down several of his suggestions before he settles on "Idol Hooves".
  • Real Fake Wedding: Princess Cadance "jokingly" asks Bigflanks and Wispy to "help practice officiating a wedding" while on vacation in Prance. Idol reveals she set everything up for it to be a legal marriage, including having Shining act as an official witness. Subverted when it actually wasn't, but Idol manipulated everybody so Bigflanks and Wispy would finally make things official between them.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Invoked; Topaz explains to Idol that, since most ponies are exotically colored and characterful, bold color schemes and the like just fade into the background. By comparison, deliberately bland ponies like his earlier disguises stand out more because they're so unremarkable. So, he settles into a disguise that is just a species swap of his normal form, and so nopony pays him any attention, even though he sticks out to other changelings like he's wearing a flashing neon sign.
  • Really Gets Around: Due to a series of sustained misunderstandings, Idol has developed something of a reputation for the scope of his (imagined) dalliances. It's gotten to the point that even Celestia is aware of his prolific reputation and is eager to remain ignorant of the specifics.
  • Rogue Drone: Idol Hooves himself; exiled for unwittingly angering Queen Chrysalis by being too independent, the story covers how he becomes so enamored with Equestria that he becomes thoroughly nativized.
  • Shapeshifters: The changelings, obviously. Idol explains the mechanics and technical aspects of shapeshifting quite thoroughly. He can even take on the form of an alicorn, though not without rather serious consequences... see With Great Power Comes Great Insanity below.
  • Shapeshifter Identity Crisis: Taking certain forms comes with certain mental risks to changelings. Idol Hooves learns this the hard way when he assumes a form with stronger instincts than he had expected. See With Great Power Comes Great Insanity. The blog notes that this is why changelings prefer to avoid turning into inanimate objects if at all possible; too long in such a state and they die, trapped in that form forever.
  • Shipper on Deck: Cadance, rather fittingly for the Alicorn of love, becomes downright predatory when Idol lets slip that he's planning on buying Topaz a gift from Manehattan before returning to Canterlot.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Rough Shod, as befitting his Grumpy Old Stallion archetype. He drops quite a few Cluster B-Bombs when talking to Idol.
    • Later, the Drill Sergeant Nasty who welcomes Idol and Shining Armor to the Guard also fits the bill.
  • Spotting the Thread: It's a Running Gag that Idol's ignorance of what ponies can and can't do leads to him unknowingly endangering his disguise by acting in ways that changelings can, but ponies can't.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Idol doesn't seem to quite understand the concept of swimming. During training, when the trainees were ordered to jump into a pool of water and swim to the end, he sinks to the bottom and trots to the end and sits there when he realizes he couldn't get back up, until it's implied that he ends up passing out from lack of oxygen.
  • Super Toughness: Nothing much seems to hurt Idol, demonstrated when he explores a crypt and is only mildly annoyed by the constant booby-traps... the booby-traps he even notices, anyway. He later demonstrates this to a very alarmed Topaz by jumping off a very high roof and landing in front of her without a scratch while wearing his unicorn disguise. His exoskeleton does have its limits, however, such as when he catches Shining Armor after he falls from a climbing exercise, and the impact ends up cracking his carapace fairly severely.
  • Time Skip: Once Idol returns to Canterlot from Manehattan, the next few chapters cover various duties and shenanigans that Idol gets involved in during his tenure as a guard before eventually jumping forward to the day before Nightmare Moon's escape, about 10 years In-Universe.
  • Too Much Information: After Topaz emerges from her first ever stay in one of Idol's cocoons, she expresses curiosity that it seems to have had a positive shampoo-like effect on her fur. When Idol suggests that it might be due to the digestive enzymes in the slime that fills the cocoon, she quickly declares she doesn't want to know more.
  • Trans Equals Gay: An inversion is Invoked with Merry, a gay stallion who becomes a mare when exposed to Poison Joke and eventually decided he was happier as a mare. It's implied that the disdain of his homophobic parents may have played a part in it.
  • The Un-Smile: What Idol is implied to be wearing when he confronts Flim and Flam after their manipulations contribute to Luna falling ill. It is implied to be incredibly terrifying to behold.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Subverted with Blueblood. While he acts like a blowhard, Idol confronts Blueblood with the fact he makes sure not to actually harm anyone's standing in the court. Blueblood actually praises Idol for his perceptiveness.
    • Idol later notes to Topaz that Blueblood's self-imposed task is to represent the minimum standards that a noble must have, with anything worse leading to being actively shamed, and to sabotage harmful policy suggestions by supporting them.
  • Wandering Equestria: Though Idol stays for quite some time in a Saddle Arabian caravan, he eventually leaves to wander on his own. Subverted when he ultimately settles down in Canterlot.
  • Wham Line: “Not supposed to be moving around while at ease, you know. But you can call me Shining.”
  • Why Did It Have To Be Trains
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: When Idol takes on the shape of an alicorn to intimidate an attacking manticore, he gets far more than he bargained for... His very personality changes, and he gets completely burnt out afterwards.
  • Workaholic: In the ten years Idol Hooves has served in the royal guard he has never once used one of his vacation days and has accumulated enough vacation days that he could take almost half a year off of paid leave if he wanted to. Eventually Celestia intervenes and has to practically threaten him into using some of his vacation days.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: While Idol was exploring a temple, he ends up wandering into a treasure vault. He's more interested in the architecture of the room and regards the piles of gold as being too soft, and the gemstones to be too small, to use as building material and is confused why anyone would bother stockpiling it. Justified in that changelings don't have an economy or, really, any sort of trading system.

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