The Joy Hive

by TheDriderPony

A Royal Aside

"Thanks again for helping me with all this paperwork, Twilight." Thorax lifted another pile of papers and sighed as he whacked them into his still unfamiliar antlers, sending them flying.

"It's no trouble!" Twilight replied with a smile, catching the pages easily before sorted them back into order. "There certainly are a lot of forms needed to get a new nation officially documented and recognized."

They lapsed back into silence, the air filled with nothing but the sound of six quills scratching (Twilight magically operated three at once to fill out forms that required triplicate documentation).

"Can I ask a silly question?" Spike asked. He set down his quill and began massaging his wrist.


"How many reformed changelings do you rule over?"

The changeling king set down his quill, deciding now was as good a time for a break as ever. "Well, I don't think of myself as a ruler, really, so much as a guide to help lead them in the right direction and... and I can see this isn't where you were going with this. About two hundred and some. We might be pushing three by next year."

Spike furrowed his brow in deep concentration, moving his lips silently as he worked things out in his head. "So," he finally continued, "Where are the rest of them?"

Immediately both Twilight and Thorax tensed up. Spike continued unaware. "I mean, during the invasion, Chrysalis had thousands of changelings ramming the dome and who knows how many more already disguised inside. What happened to all of them?"

The two royals shared a short glance before Twilight nodded, giving her permission to share. "We... don't know," Thorax admitted. "We noticed back when we first started to regroup at the hive after the invasion. Chrysalis never addressed it, so if she knew anything, she never told us."

"We have theories though." Twilight piped in. "Celestia thinks that they were scattered so far away that it became impossible for them to return. Luna..." She winced, "Luna thinks that after being weakened by Cadence's love pulse... most probably didn't survive the subsequent crash landing."

Thorax hung his head at the thought of his lost brothers, whatever their fate, and Spike began to regret opening this particular can of worms. But there was no closing the lid now, so he might as well see the topic through. "And what do you think?"

"Me?" Twilight asked. "I... don't know. On one hoof I don't like the idea of anycreature lost and alone or worse, but on the other..." She hesitated and even her autonomous quills stopped writing. "We looked for a long time. I know changelings are experts at hiding, but this was an active investigation with four alicorns involved and we never turned up more than the odd rogue scout. "

Spike was glad at that moment that he was not a changeling. Thorax's expression alone was more than enough to see his guilt and loss without even a special ability to sense it. "Since I became a king, I've tried to feel for them through the hive connection, but I've never got more than a few scattered signals. Not nearly the number we're missing. There's no way that would fail unless either one of the princess' theories are right... or if they somehow managed to form a new and separate hive."

"They can do that?" Spike asked.

He shook his head. "It's possible, but I doubt it. Not unless they found a new queen somewhere to link themselves to. And Chrysalis is the only queen I know of." He paused a beat. "Who is now missing and on the lam. Oh dear."

Twilight frowned. "Well that's one more thing to worry about at night. Maybe we should start up the search again? Dust off some of our old theories. Retread old ground."

"Agreed. Maybe I can lend a new perspective."

"But for now," she lifted a new scroll in her magic, "Form 106-11B: Verification of Legal Ownership of Claimed Territory."

Thorax sucked through his teeth. "That one's going to be tricky. Pass me that book again on property code."

With a sigh, the room descended back into the quiet of scritching quills. Up near the ceiling, ensconced behind a crystal outcropping, a large and rather intelligent-looking beetle scurried away. It had learned something very interesting.