Cheyenne Mountain, Base Outskirts
In the makeshift encampment outside of Cheyenne Mountain, Maria, Ricky and Karol were still waiting on word of their friend Blue. They could see that her children were creating a few buildings off in the distance, but Colonel Bunker had instructed their guards to not allow them anywhere near them for their own safety. Stuck inside of a shade tent and surrounded by crates from the mountain containing whatever could be thrown inside in a rush, the three turned their temporary holding area into a place as comfortable as they could. For the moment, all they could do was listen to the passing conversations of soldiers and worry.
"Hey, heads or tails?" A nearby soldier asked of his partner.
"Tails. Is this what I think it's for?"
"Whoever wins the flip deals with any curious bug. You got a spray bottle?" The soldier asked seriously. "For whatever reason, the main bug's kids don't like dealing with water that much. They buzz right off if you get 'em a little bit wet."
"We're seriously going to defeat a swarm of flying alien bugs with spray bottles? I would've thought there'd be more bullets and explosions, ya know? Maybe like Starship Troopers but on a smaller scale and less terrifying."
"What, that queen isn't scary enough for you? She can shapeshift into whatever she wants in a moments notice. Who's to say we haven't already carried her out of the base or somethin' as a chair?"
"Oh shut up, you know she went in after that other queen a few hours ago. No way we would've carried her out."
"Yeah, but what if that was just one of her bug-children throwing us off? She could be plottin' something."
"Would you two shut up?" Maria interrupted angrily. "Blue isn't like that at all."
The two soldiers turned sideways at Maria before sharing disbelieving looks. "Yeah, and you'd know all about alien life considering you're the kids that 'found' her, right?"
Karol and Ricky were now aware of the confrontation going on and joined Maria at her sides. Maria crossed her arms, "Yes. I do know her, and she is the least threatening thing on this planet!"
"Maria, can I talk with you for a minute?" Ricky asked, placing a hand on Maria's shoulder.
The soldiers returned to their quiet conversation and betting as Ricky walked Maria away. "I know you're worried about how Blue is doing, but we're not going to help her by getting into fights with soldiers."
"You know Blue isn't like what they're saying, Ricky." Maria countered, shrugging off Ricky's hand. "I can't just stand by and listen to them treating her like she's some kind of monster."
"Well..." Karol whispered with a smile, "What do you two say we do something about that?"
"What do you mean, Karol?" Maria asked, huddling with Karol and Ricky to avoid the soldiers eavesdropping on them.
"You know how all of Blue's drones are making buildings and everything next to the mountain?" Karol grinned excitedly, "What do you two say we go visit them; see what's going on? If anybody knows whats going on with Blue, it should be her kids, right?"
"How do you suggest we get past the soldiers? You know the Colonel doesn't want us wandering around." Ricky whispered, looking over his shoulder to ensure the two guards were still distracted.
"Well, I was thinking that--" Karol began, before a very loud clanging sound was heard from within the tent near the back.
"Hey! What's goin' on in there?" A soldier shouted, peeking his head through the tent's doorway.
"Uh, nothing! College stuff!" Karol loudly voiced back. "You know, like, rough housing and hormones and everything?"
The soldier gave a blank stare of annoyance at Karol and decided that investigating further wasn't really worth his pay grade. "Well stop messin' with things, would you?"
"Yep! Can do, sir!" Karol chirped back eagerly, giving an awkward salute.
The soldier then rolled his eyes, pulling the tent doorway shut. The three friends breathed a sigh of relief before refocusing.
"What made that noise?" Maria asked, investigating the back of the tent.
"Maybe something just fell over?" Ricky suggested. "They did put this area together in a hurry."
"Uh, guys?" Karol called just loudly enough to be heard. "Anything odd about this box to you?"
Maria and Ricky joined Karol in staring at a very out of place cardboard box. Just above the box was an open skylight of jagged tent in the square shape of a box.
"Considering that this box wasn't here before, yes." Ricky replied confidently, reaching out to grab the sides of the cardboard box. Before he could fully grasp it, the box moved just out of reach on its own.
"Okay, boxes don't move. Are you a changeling?" Maria asked, her hands on her hips as she looked down on the 'box'.
"No?" The chittering box replied, before shifting unnaturally as if it was folding in on itself. "I'm a box."
The three college students shared a sigh and lunged for the box in unison, grabbing it by the edges to lift it in front of them.
"You're sure about that?" Karol asked with a straight face. "You're a hundred percent box?"
The panicked movements of four small chitinous hooves could be seen flailing underneath the 'cardboard' box. Before long, the box erupted into blue-purple flame to reveal a distressed changeling drone trying to escape from the three of them with very wide eyes.
"Hey-hey, shh." Maria cooed, "Don't worry. We're not going to hurt you, okay?"
"We're friends of Blue Sun." Karol added, motioning for the three to set the changeling down on the grassy ground.
For a moment, the changeling and the three students looked at one another. The drone with suspicion, and the three with wonder and excitement. Karol had a very large smile across her face, hidden by the sleeves of her hoodie. Maria and Ricky were cautious but eager to hear from the small drone that darted its gaze between the three.
"What's your name?" Maria asked softly, leaning down to eye level with the drone. "Or have you been named yet?"
The drone's eyes went even wider at the question, backing up a few steps. "Oh no, no! I've done nothing to deserve an honor like that. Well, not yet, anyway."
"An honor?" Maria asked. "What do you mean?"
"Well, only members of the Queen's royal family are allowed to have names." The drone explained, before its eyes went wide and shoved its hoof into its mouth. "I don't know why I just told you that!" It exclaimed, before realizing something was wrong. Taking its hoof out of its mouth and sputtering, the drone sighed. "Yuck. I don't know why I did that either."
"Maybe its reflexive?" Karol suggested, taking a seat next to the drone. "You know you talk with your wings, right?"
The drone's rolled its eyes, even though said eyes were little more than slightly brighter points of glowing light. "Of course I know that, It's just... nothing is right!" As if to add to its observation, the drone kicked a nearby crate and hissed in pain from it being harder than expected. "Where are the wooden boxes? These things aren't normal! These tents! All these... not minotaur!"
Maria and Karol shared a quick chuckle and explained. "You were only hatched a few hours ago, right?" Ricky asked.
"Uh... yes. But that doesn't make me any less capable than a full growth!" The drone replied defensively.
Maria placed her hand on the drone's forehead, rubbing its carapace. "Hey, we're not making fun of you, okay?" She added soothingly.
The drone looked with confusion at Maria's hand, its eyes nearly crossing. "What are you doing to me?"
Maria placed another hand behind the drone, quickly scooping it up into her arms in a cradle. The drone began buzzing and wiggling with the sudden change, and Maria ran her hand along the neck and shell of the drone to calm it down. "Hey, don't worry, alright?"
After a few moments, the drone began to calm down as its chittering became less frequent. Its wings were draped over the side of Maria's arms and its hooves were curled up next to its underbelly.
"What do you think we should call the drone?" Karol whispered. "I mean, we can't just call all of Blue's kid 'that one drone', you know?"
"I think Blue has to be out of the mountain before we can ask her, right?" Ricky pointed out, ruffling the drone's tail.
"I am so confused right now..." The drone quietly buzzed, its ears folding downward. "Why am I..." It questioned, before yawning.
"Well, I don't think the Colonel really knows whats going on with Blue, but like we discussed earlier, her kids might. There's a convenient hole in the tent now, so all we have to do is finish cutting the hole from the top and sneak out of here, right?" Maria offered.
"With what knife? And how would we do that without the soldiers noticing?" Karol asked, before her gaze shifted to the drone.
"No, we're not using one of Blue's kids as a distraction." Maria immediately replied. "We'll say that we found the drone, which is true, and we're returning it to the rest of them, right?"
"That's not gonna work. They'll just spray it or take it from us." Ricky countered, scratching the side of his face. "Hey, do you think they have any lab outfits in these crates?"
"Think they had time to assign separate key-codes to each crate?" Karol wondered, kneeling down and beginning to press buttons. "Lets try One-one-one-one."
"Karol, there's no way that's going to-" Maria began, before a long beep and a green light from the keypad announced that access was granted. "You're kidding me."
"Hey," Karol shrugged, "Logistics are hard. Gotta find some way to keep things simple. Who wants to carry around a list of boxes and codes for every box?"
"Lets see what we got." Ricky suggested, sliding the lid from the fancy metal box. Peering over the edge, the three were quickly disappointed.
"MRE's?" Maria grumbled. "The mountain was falling down, and they packed food that would survive nuclear fallout?"
"How about another box?" Karol suggested, pressing the same combination of numbers and fortunately opening another box.
Ricky shook his head. "This is rediculous."
The White House
Presidential aides buzzing through the Oval Office were becoming a common sight along with the Starbucks coffee cups that filled every trash can in the building. The halls of the White House were slowly stacking with manila folders filled to bursting with alien sightings, incident reports and collected data on every new kind of Queen that had been dropping out of the sky. President Amelia, for her part, had decided that a ponytail would have to suffice for the rest of her term with all the havoc around. Members of NATO had been calling almost every hour, one after the other since the first news report of an alien meeting had been released. The President's latest call with the British Prime Minister had the fortune of ending positively, but it was only a short moment before a new aide popped their head through a doorway.
"Madam President? The President of Russia is calling on line seven..." She reported, concern etched across the aide's features. "He wasn't very patient."
President Amelia gave a tired nod and picked up the receiver of a newly installed phone brought in to deal with the sudden influx of international traffic. After sparing a moment to brace herself, the president was greeted by the thick accent of her Russian counterpart.
"President Amelia. It is pleasure to be meeting with you."
"President Virtolya. How has the 'alien invasion' been for you?" The president replied with serious tone. "No violent reactions yet, I hope?"
"Nothing of the sort. The few 'Queens' we encounter are more concerned with warm blanket than world domination. Imagine the disappointment of my generals to learn of this news."
"Has anything new happened in your section of the world? We're up to our necks here in international calls."
"Only slight problem." The Russian President replied cautiously. "Have large pillars of black crystal appeared in your mountains? Crackling energy, purple and green?"
Amelia stood from her chair in alarm. "Pillars of crystal? Are any of the Queens causing it?"
"Well you are alien expert, President Amelia. You are supposed to be telling me, da?"
"You know about as much as anyone else, Virtolya. Do your forces need assistance? The President of Germany has had forces sitting on their hands since all of this started." Amelia optimistically suggested while shifting manila bricks of paperwork to the edges of her desk, making room for an inbound stack of even more reports heading her way via the Intern Express.
"I doubt these aliens will be like your Independence Day, President Amelia. In any case, more assistance would be welcomed. Tell the Germans to pack for cold weather this time, would you?" Virtolya joked before switching into a more serious tone. "Is this all that has happened since our last conversation?"
Amelia paused for a moment, switching the receiver from one ear to the other while glossing over a new report. "Well, according to this fat folder in front of me, apparently not."
"What is report?"
Flipping through the pages with helpfully included pictures and highlighted wording, the President relayed the information in front of her. "You remember the report earlier about the media Queen's eggs hatching and melting one of our bases?"
"It still makes me feel warm inside." Virtolya chuckled. "Yes, I remember."
"Turns out that Queen's progeny have been busy. They've already set up what our best and brightest are guessing to be hospitals, living quarters, watch towers and a shrine... to their queen. Of course." Amelia sighed, flipping through more of the report.
"I like her already! Statues are always a sign of self important leadership. Egotistic behavior can be exploited to our advantages, da?"
"The report goes on to state that some of the 'drones' as they're being called, have taken up leadership roles in the Queen's absence. They already have what appears to be a General and an engineer. The aliens could be caste based, so look for other queens attempting to lay eggs. We don't need this getting out of control any more than it already is." President Amelia reasoned, switching the receiver's side again. "And Virtolya?"
"Da, Madam President?"
"Be sure to keep China and India in the loop on this. They haven't contacted us during this whole debacle for some reason."
"They've not? We assumed they had been in contact with you all of this time."
India, Region Unknown
"Yes! Feed, my children!"
A very maniacal looking changeling queen with a dark teal mane and green eyes had sillouetted themselves on a nearby mound of dirt overlooking a chittering swarm of agitated changeling drones. Every color, size and temperament of drone could be seen, and one theme was common amongst them all.
"No, get that out of your mouth!" Queen Chrysalis shouted, smacking a red colored changeling with the clunky looking metallic device she wielded across its face. "That's plastic!"