A Different Perspective

Long Path, an earth pony living in Canterlot, and his best friend, a griffon named Free Agent, set out in the company of Twilight Sparkle to visit various places and species to look into what makes them different, and hopefully learn how to get along with them better. Things rarely go to plan though, and along the way, they discover things about themselves, and find love, drama, and laughter. Then Chrysalis changes everything, and the fate of the whole world might be at stake. Their lives will never be the same!
This story is set mostly after the events of Conversations in a Canterlot Cafe and builds on the fanon of the series, especially changelings, so you might want to read those stories first for background material.

https://www.fimfiction.net/story/246414/a-different-perspective

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4. Chapter 4: Reporting In

Two weeks after the Crystal Kingdom experiment, Long Path was called upon to give a report on his findings to Princess Luna. That evening, he and Twilight Sparkle attended the Night Court at a special session.

A stern thestral Royal Guard let them into Luna’s chamber at the appointed time, and Path bowed to the Lunar Princess. Although also a princess, Twilight inclined her head in polite acknowledgement of Luna’s seniority.

The unicorn scribe seated at a small desk at the base of the throne announced, “Presenting Long Path to submit his preliminary report on the project to assess changelings and their interaction with the Crystal Kingdom. Also presenting her Highness, Princess Twilight Sparkle, collaborator on said project.”

Luna smiled and said, “Welcome, Master Path. Welcome, Twilight Sparkle. I have been most eager to hear the details of your recent foray into the Crystal Kingdom. I hear that it was quite… exciting, shall we say?”

“Ah, yes, your Highness.” Path started to put up various easels with graphs, charts and other figures. He was having a hard time until a lavender aura helped place them correctly. Path smiled gratefully at Twilight, and then pulled two bundles of papers the size of a small book out of his satchel, handing a copy to each of the princesses.

Changelings and the Crystal Heart –a Synopsis of Their Interaction,” Luna stated as she read the title of the paper.

“Yes! Uh... I’m always so bad at talks, but here we go.... Okay… As you know, my original intention was to do a series of careful measurements of how a changeling would interact with the Crystal Heart, followed by some simple social studies on how the average crystal pony would interact with a changeling. As my volunteer changeling would be the only one of his kind within the anti-changeling barrier, this would have enabled us to have some clear statistics without interference from another changeling. As you probably heard though, those plans had to be abandoned due to unforeseen circumstances. My report therefore instead focuses on estimations and interpolations, with some data acquired outside of the Crystal Empire.”

“Understood. Please proceed,” Luna encouraged.

Path nodded. “So, as we know, changelings feed on positive emotions, the strongest and thus the most energy-dense being love. With the emergence of the Crystal Kingdom, a question was proposed: what happens when a changeling that feeds on love is put in an environment with a relatively endless supply?”

By this point Luna had put down the paper and was listening keenly to what he had to say. Twilight was also similarly curious since he had done extra work since they had met last.

“So in order for me to arrange the data, I had to quantify ‘love’. Since it was in the Crystal Empire and Princess Cadance is the alicorn of love, that’s exactly what I decided to call it. A Cadance is defined as the average amount of love needed to sustain one changeling for one day. The smallest amount of love that a changeling can sense is a millicadence or mC. Please keep in mind at values these small and large, the accuracy goes down.”

Path pulled out a map of Canterlot and showed it to them. It was mainly painted in blues and light green, with a pair of red dots in the centre in the castle. “On this map we can see the background level of ‘love’ is generally between 1 and 3 mC, with bright spikes in the castle centered around Luna and Celestia at a constant rate of between 10 to 12 Cadance. Again, these values are approximate because my only volunteer ‘gauge’ is flighty and hard to keep on point. There will be more experiments done in the future to refine these data.”

He put the map away and pulled out an info-graphic. This one was a top view of the entire Crystal Empire as well as a graph. This map was very different from the Canterlot, with a solid gradient from blue to white, while the graph showed an exponential curve.

“Now this is the Crystal Empire. Powered by the Crystal Heart, it actually emanates love in a kind of area-effect spell, although that’s a misnomer since there is no actual spell at work. Hmmm... how to explain it... the sun to Princess Celestia is like the Crystal Heart is to Princess Cadance. Canterlot’s local peak value of 10-12 Cadance can be detected more than 20 kilometers out from the Crystal heart, just before you enter the fringe farmlands.”

Luna was intrigued. “We have always figured that the heart was powerful, but we never thought to quantify it in such an analytical fashion. Please go on.”

Path nodded as he resumed his presentation.

“Now this being the case, we can follow the exponential curve to the point of origin. This means that the area right next to the Crystal Heart experiences background levels of over 30 Giga-Cadance or 30GC. That would be thirty thousand million times more love than what one changeling needs to exist for one day.”

“Does a number that big even exist?” Luna blinked a few times, staggered by it.

“I didn’t quite believe the numbers at first either, but I asked Twilight to double check them for me. So yes, the number does exist, but it’s so big that it practically loses all meaning. Oh I’m going off track! Okay so with a number that big, you might ask, why don’t we just let all of the changeling harvesters go there and they could single-hoofedly feed their entire race?”

Path moved to a white board and wrote ‘LSS.’ in fairly large letters. “The reason why that can’t happen is because of a situation that I have called Love Saturation Syndrome, or LSS for short. The simple answer is that normal changelings can only handle an influx of so much love at a given time. If they exceed a certain threshold they become erratic, flighty, irrational, and experience a huge jump in energy, and then their nervous system burns out and they die. The historical example Twilight and I discovered died roughly 16 to 18 hours after it entered the empire.”

“So the Crystal Empire must be forever closed off to the changeling race?” Luna mused as she looked over to Twilight and back to Path.

“Well, yes and no...”

Path flipped a different board and started to draw a circle around the castle. “This is the dead zone. No normal changeling can live in this zone for more than a few moments. I also theorize that any queen coming this close would mean certain death for the queen also as she could not transfer the love out of herself to her hive fast enough to stop the neurological breakdown from occurring.”

“How dost thou know how much a queen can transfer?” Luna asked.

“It’s an estimation based on some data that I got from Twilight. Since I cannot talk to a changeling queen, I have to base a model on what I know. I think it’s a safe bet that a queen could transfer ten times the love a changeling would need to every member of their hive at once. So a queen with a hive of a thousand could transfer a total of ten thousand Cadance units of love to her entire hive at one time... but that’s only a fraction of the flow she would be dealing with inside this zone.”

He drew a second larger circle that covered more of the city.

“At this range a queen could live if she was pushing all the love she could to all her hive constantly, and those changelings could burn off the energy before they started to overload as well.”

Luna hmmed. “It looks like the very thing they need to survive is the one thing that can kill them in the Crystal City.”

Path nodded. “However, there is a sweet spot for queens where they can go without having to divert love.”

He drew a set of rings that barely touched the suburbs of the city.

“If there were to be peace talks, some kind of embassy or the like, the closest it could be would be within this zone.”

Path then motioned to the outermost circle. “And Harvesters can be in this area, but this contains them to the fringe farmlands. Under no circumstances can a normal drone be within the changeling barrier though.”

Path nodded a few times and looked back to the princesses who looked like they were doing their best to comprehend fully what was said.

“It is my opinion that changelings should be allowed into the Crystal Empire proper, but under extremely restricted conditions to prevent harm to them. I recommend that they should be limited to the farm zones only. However, if some form of shield spell can be constructed to block the flow of love energy, they may in the future be permitted into the city itself.”

Path nodded a few times as his presentation was finished. “My full figures and the means by which they were achieved are detailed in the report. I apologize for the ambiguity of many of my figures, but as testing at this stage requires the participation of a citizen changeling, I cannot countenance any procedure that risks their life. I will endeavor to formulate a means for future tests to provide us with more accurate data.”

Path heaved a sigh of relief at finishing the report. “I think that’s it! I thank you for letting me take up your time. I need to head out now so that I can continue with my preparations for the next investigation. With your permission, Princess?”

Luna smiled. “Thank thee, Master Path. This has been most fascinating. I look forward to future reports from thee.”

Long Path bowed, awkwardly gathered his materials again, and left.

Twilight remained, though, and once Path was gone, she said, “Long Path has been a pleasure to work with, and has produced remarkable results within his limited means. I plan to keep sponsoring his efforts, but I would appreciate any other assistance that you can provide.”

“Master Path strikes me as a dedicated scholar, and it pleases me to support him in his endeavors. I shall look into this further for you, Twilight Sparkle.”

“Thank you, Luna. Have you had any word yet from the Griffon Kingdom?”

“Nay, but I remain optimistic. It is their wont to deny us most hastily if they are disagreeable. This lengthy wait is actually quite encouraging.”

“I see. I’ll wait for some hopefully good news soon then. I had better go now too. I have some more work to complete before bedtime.”

“Fare thee well then.”

Twilight started to head out, and then paused. Looking back, she said, “We’re still on for dinner with my friends next Saturday?”

Luna smiled. “I would not miss it for anything, Twilight.”

Twilight smiled happily in return, and then left, closing the door behind her.

“Scribe!”

“Yes, Princess?”

“Take a transcript of this report to your queen. Tell her that Princess Luna sends her compliments, and requests any aid that she can provide in pursuing these studies further.”

“At once, your highness!” With a flare of magic fire, the scribe resumed his natural form of a Green Changeling, and flew off to do Luna’s bidding.

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