The Changeling is the sixth episode of The Chain. It aired on March 6th, 2019.
The Chain deal with an intruder skilled in infiltration and disguise.
The senior officers of the Chain of Acheron, along with the "Angel" revivified by King met in the officers' mess of the Somnium Tenebris to discuss the matter of the shapechanger who appears to have infiltrated the ranks of the Chain. King, on consulting the Chronicle, suspected that the shapechanger was a member of the Faceless Guard, an organization loyal to Ajax and shrouded in mystery. Angel told Judge that if there was an impostor Angel elsewhere on the ship, that impostor would think that the real Angel was still dead, and therefore would have no reason to change disguises. Judge, furious that he may have been fooled by a faker and suspicious of this Angel, grabbed the Halfling by the throat and attempted to frighten him, hoping that if he were the changeling he would reveal himself in his fear. Angel gave no sign of being anything other than Angel, and King stepped in between the two, using Chain sign to ask for proof of his identity. Angel signed back, "Fuck off, boss", which satisfied King.
The officers agree on a plan: to lock this Angel in King's quarters and order the rest of the Chain to assemble in one place. Once there, Bigcat could inspect them, as he seemed to have detected the changeling earlier, although they did not realize it at the time. Angel objected, not wanting to be separated from the action, but acquiesced. Slim instructed the Navigator to only allow King or himself to open the door to King's quarters, and Judge left to gather the rest of the Chain's members to the cattle deck. When he returned, the senior officers boarded the elevator with Angel to escort him to King's quarters. As soon as the doors to the captain's deck opened, Angel, revealing himself to be the changeling, struck at Judge.
- “Hail Ajax!”
- — the changeling
Battle ensued as the officers attempted to prevent the changeling from escaping. The changeling was able to hold his own by changing his appearance to create a magical fear effect and casting fireball in the tight space of the elevator. When the officers wounded the changeling, they saw that its blood was a black acid that dissolved the material of the ship, and when Judge cast hellish rebuke on it, he noticed that it had resistance to fire. The officers also saw the changeling's wounds shortly after being inflicted, and the changeling was able to escape via the use of gaseous form to slip down to a different deck. Slim used his connection to the Navigator to keep himself apprised of the number of individuals on each deck. With this, Slim sensed the number of creatures in the cattle deck increase from 27 to 28, followed shortly by the sound of screaming. The officers rushed to board the elevator and get to the cattle deck.
On arriving at the cattle deck, the officers found a grisly scene: a humanoid corpse burned beyond recognition with the junior officers standing around it. None of the soldiers had seen what happened, or even who it was who had been killed. After a brief debate, the officers initiated a lockdown. Thanks to Slim, the officers knew that the changeling had to be on the cattle deck, so Slim had the navigator seal the doors to ensure that no one entered or left the deck to confuse matters. Judge suggested using the mind flayer imprisoned on the ship, whose psionic abilities might be able to suss out the changeling, but Slim objected and silently instructed the Navigator not to allow anyone other than himself to open the mind flayer's cell.
The debate was interrupted when one soldier asked Two-Shoes if "the alien" (Slim) could be trusted. Judge saw this as an attempt to sow discord amongst the troops and cast hell's lash on the soldier. Correctly interpreting the soldier's apparent resistance to the damage done by the fiery lariat, Judge realized that he has indeed caught the changeling. In its attempt to escape, the changeling killed several soldiers with a fireball and turned himself invisible, but Copper was able to locate the invisible changeling and hit it with an arrow. After a well-placed strike from Judge, the changeling took on Judge's appearance in an attempt to confuse the other officers. While the ruse briefly worked, with Slim hitting the real Judge with his greatsword, he determined from the color of Judge's blood that he had guessed wrong, and he aimed his next strike at the changeling, killing it. As the changeling died, its form rapidly shifted through different shapes it had taken recently, and it collapsed into a mishmash of different steaming forms.
Buts successfully harvested the brain of the creature, and the senior officers arranged the remaining soldiers and had them each cut themselves to show that they were not other changelings. After each soldier passed the test, King announced that they would soon make their way out of the Astral Sea to Capital, where they would attempt to rebuild the Chain, meet up with other members who may have escaped Blackbottom, and eventually complete their contract by killing Mortum.