The Joy Hive

by TheDriderPony

Population Growth

Dear Diary,

Hi Diary! It's me again, Pinkie Pie, but you knew that. And wowee has a lot happened since the last time I got to write!

It's been a few weeks now since I found little Feldspar and, despite a few close calls, I don't think anypony's caught on to my secret. Mostly because they're all not really over the wedding yet. I really wish I didn't have to hide the little guy --he's such a sweetie when you get to know him!-- but everypony's still too riled up. They even seem to treat the normal bugs in their lives worse than usual. So for now, until tempers cool, I'm keeping him safe and protected in the party cave.

He seems happy enough there. He likes playing with all the party supplies and changing into different things to surprise me. And he's always happy to see me when I can get the time to sneak away and visit. He's a lot like a dog, which is kinda weird cause I thought changelings were supposed to be smart. Not book-smart, though I guess they could be, but I mean like pony-smart. Able to talk and plan and create and everything. Maybe he's actually really young or he hit his head and got his brain scrambled, but I've been doing what I can to help him learn to talk again. He likes it when I read to him, especially at bedtime, so maybe he is just a changeling foal. But I like reading to him and he likes being read to, so it's not like there's a downside! All I have to do is take out a book and he leaps into my forelegs!

And sweet gumdrops is he a hugger!

He just loves to ride along while I do party planning things with his forelegs slung around my neck like a big ole buggy boa. He's surprisingly light for how big he is.

I know he's eating something from me. I've caught him a few times out of the corner of my eye, slurping up this sparkly blue stuff like a giant noodle. I know Twilight said that changelings eat emotions, but I'm not so sure if that's right. After all, it's been a good while now and I don't feel any different. Most of the time I don't even notice he's doing it. The times I do, it's because it tickles!

Still, even though things have been going well so far, I can't help but worry. There's still so many questions I don't know the answers to. How did he get here? Why can't he talk? Was he part of the invasion? Scratch that. I'm pretty sure he was. You don't get scratches and nicks in your chitin like that from just an outdoorsy foalhood.

Still, I can't help but be worried. Eventually somepony is going to----

Pinkie's quill slid across the page as she flinched from an unexpected touch. She glanced down under her writing desk.

There was a changeling there. Staring back at her with enormous blue eyes.

"Sparry?" She asked as she pushed away the chair to crouch down to his level. He cocked his head innocently. "What are you doing up here?"

Feldspar said nothing. Pinkie sighed, but smiled and reached out a hoof to ruffle his head fin. He always liked that. As expected, he leaned into the touch and cooed.

After a moment, Pinkie's eyes widened as a thin blue line exited her hoof and spiraled away into his mouth. As usual it didn't hurt, but now that she was aware she could feel it; like a single hair being pulled across her skin.

"Well, someone must be hungry." She pulled him into a hug, which startled the changeling enough to make him stop. "Go ahead. Eat your fill. Auntie Pinkie wants you healthy and happy."

After a moment's hesitation, he continued to eat. Pinkie barely even felt it.

When he was down, Pinkie set her errant ward down in front of her and gave him am appraising look. He seemed... bigger, than she remembered. Nearly full-pony sized. Maybe he was getting stronger from a good diet?

She shook her head and tried to be stern like she'd practiced. "I thought I told you to stay in the party cave unless I was with you." Feldspar did not respond except to remain silently cute. She chuckled and took his hoof. "Oh, what am I ever going to do with you, you little rascal. Come on, let's get you back downstairs."

Placing him in the usual place on her back, Pinkie opened her wardrobe and pulled a secret lever. The false wall retracted, revealing a fireman's pole leading down to the cave. With a well-practiced hop, Pinkie latched on and slid to the basement. She bounced off the floor and landed, safely, atop a perfectly placed pillow.

"There we go! Back safe and-"

Feldspar was sitting in front of her, perched atop his favorite stack of emergency rock candy. There was also another changeling sitting atop her filing cabinet.

Pinkie glanced behind her as her passenger disembarked and walked towards the others. Now that she gave him a proper look, the differences between him and her little cuddlebug were obvious. Both of these new changelings were much larger than him and with more wear and tear on their hides. One had a chip missing from its ear and the other had leg holes that looked dangerously big. Both were also alarmingly thin, especially compared to Feldspar who had been steadily filling out.

The three congregated towards each other and began to speak in a strange chittering tongue. Feldspar, she noticed, remained silent but gestured occasionally. Mostly at her.

Her heart sank in realization. This was it. She'd realized that this moment might come eventually, but she hadn't counted on it being so soon. Of course he would have a family. That's why he was small! He was young. Obviously Twilight's theory that Chrysalis was the mother of every changeling was wrong. Then these two new changelings must be his parents. And they'd come to take him back.

A cold feeling of loss spilled across her body. She hadn't known him for very long, but the time they'd shared had been a lot of fun. Her only regret was that it had to end so soon. She noticed that the three changelings had turned to look at her with curious expressions. With heavy steps, she walked over to them.

"Have you come to take him away?"

Much to her surprise, the new changeling shook its head.

"No?" Had she misread the situation? Were they not his parents?

The changeling with a chipped ear, the one she'd mistaken for Feldspar, shook his head. He pointed at the three changelings in turn, then the ground, and then at Pinkie herself.

"I don't understand," she said.

He pointed to himself again, then sat down hard. He mimed going to sleep and waking up several times, then once more pointed at Feldspar, then her, then his open mouth. Finally, it clicked.

"Oh! You want to stay and live here too?"

The chipped-ear changeling nodded and Feldspar trotted over and sat down between Pinkie's forelegs, looking up expectantly. Automatically she placed him in his preferred riding position as she mulled over this new information.

More changelings. Was that a good idea? On one hoof, they had probably been part of the invasion, so letting them stay might count as harboring an enemy of the state. On the other hoof, little Sparry had also been an invader and he wasn't a bad ling. Maybe these weren't bad either. Maybe they just needed someone to care for them. After all, if Nightmare Moon could be redeemed, why not changelings?

A grand idea blossomed in her mind of a changeling halfway house. Tired of sneaking around and invading? Come visit Aunt Pinkie and learn how to be good! It could work. If Fluttershy could tame the wildest of creatures, how tough could changelings be?

"Alright," she said as two sets of blue eyes lit up expectantly, "You can stay. But there's going to be a few ground rules, okay?"

They both nodded, Leg-hole eagerly, and Chip-ear with some degree of seriousness.

"First off," Pinkie began as she started to pace the party cave. "You're going to need names."

While she was turned the wrong way to see it, Pinkie missed the looks of shock and amazement that briefly passed between the newcomers. By the time she turned around, they had both schooled their expressions and stood ramrod straight like soldiers during inspection.

Pinkie gave them a questioning look. "What are you doing? Relax, you're part of the family now."

Unsure at first, they slowly lost their stiffness and adopted more casual postures while Pinkie continued to mull over names. On her back, Feldspar did a good job mimicking her posture and contemplative expression.

"Ah ha!" Pinkie smacked one hoof against the other. "I've got it!" She walked over and laid a hoof on Chip-ear's shoulder. He stiffened under her touch but just as quickly relaxed under her smile. "From now on, I'll call you Calisson." She moved to the other, who half-shied away from her hoof even as he quivered in anticipation, "And you Fairy Floss!"

She stepped back to give them some space. "That is, if you like those names..."

But the rest of her sentence was cut off as Fairy Floss knocked the wind out of her. Pinkie felt a slight dampness on her fur. Through the intense hug, Fairy Floss... was crying? Did a name really mean that much to him? Or was there something more to it that Pinkie couldn't see?

She glanced up at Calisson, whose expression seemed torn. Pinkie smiled and beckoned with her free foreleg. "C'mon Cali, bring it in. You know you want to. It's alright, there's plenty of Pinkie to go around."

He was there before she finished speaking. Pinkie cooed back at them and held them tight as small wisps of blue flowed out of her and into them. This was going to be a strange ride, but Pinkie was never one to turn down new friends in need. And how hard could taking care of a few changelings be?

The next day, there were five changelings in her basement.