The loss of so many family members was hard to recover from... but her favorite children had survived. They had all been summoned to the Cutie Map... and were shocked to learn the tree had chosen to save them... Changelings were despised, hunted, and outright massacred by the other races.
They appeared to others as terrifying beast. The fact they weren't bipedal, in their natural state, didn't help that. They were one of a few races that walked on 4 legs, and had no arms or hands... they looked like beast and so were mistaken for monsters.
That is why they had chosen to live in secret... even now.
They had begun to build a new hive, this one underground, in one of the unsettled pocket dimensions... There were 42 large cargo bays on this deck... most of them not claimed by any race... including their's. Chrysalis didn't actually have any legal claim to land. She just had changelings wander around in Giant monstrous forms, to make the dimension look too dangerous to try to settle... which resulted in the ponies thinking the tree chose this dimension to be a sanctuary for the more dangerous magical beast. Moving them in here, from the castle, while keeping the more docile ones inside the primary dimension...
This actually proved to work out for the best. As now ponies came into the lands frequently, tending to the dangerous animals. Giving them love and affection, along with three square meals a day. The food might be meaningless to changelings, but the love that came with it was greatly appreciated by the infiltrators.
They used it to make their "Love Honey", a pink jelly like substance, which changelings excrete from their mouths. It went to feeding the entire hive.
"My Queen." A Warrior changeling bowed before her. Though he had a similar build to drones, his magic made him much more powerful (both physically and magically). Not as strong as herself... but powerful in his own right. The only true way you could tell he was a Warrior, was the fact he was more colorful then a drone, though in darker colors then a pony.
"Yes, Snuggle Bug?" Chrysalis raised an eyebrow.
The changeling groaned at the least intimidating name ever given to a warrior, but Chrysalis stood by her decision. He was just the cutest thing as a grub, always snuggling up to his brood mates.
Snuggle Bug shook his head, "Thorax was seen trying to sneak out of the dimension again."
Chrysalis sighed, her most rebellious child, despite his meek nature.
"He wasn't even transformed this time."
Chrysalis jerked back, as if struck. Then she immediately jumped out of her throne. "WHAT!?!" She raged, "sneaking out is one thing, but was He trying to expose our whole society!!! That foolish grub! The ponies would have killed him on sight and raided the entire dimension for more of us!!!"
Snuggle Bug shrunk back, "The news gets worse... Pharynx was attempting to cover for him."
Chrysalis groaned, "He always had a soft spot for his runt of a broodmate... but this..."
"I don't believe he knew what his brother planned. He was just covering for him, when he realized Thorax wasn't with the other drones, doing their duty in building more tunnels and chambers." as the drones had been doing for months.
Chrysalis sighed, somewhat relieved that there wasn't a conspiracy with the Captain of her patrol. He was just trying to keep his brother from a reprimand, due to perceived laziness... though she had to wonder how often he did that...
"Bring me the grub." Chrysalis ordered.
Snuggle Bug blushed, "Errr, which one?" Chrysalis tended to refer to everyling as "Grub", no matter how old they got.
Chrysalis rolled her eyes, "Bring me Thorax. I can deal with my wayward Captain afterwards."
Thorax was brought into the throne room, looking every bit the runt of a brood. He was so very small, and staring at the holes in his legs as they nervously fidgeted. The 12 year old looked exactly like a larva that had stolen extra love honey. As if he didn't understand this crime was far more serious.
Changelings started working as soon as they left the Larva phase. They couldn't afford not to, as the Hive was always in danger of discovery. So they needed everling to do their part...
Thorax was always hard to keep to a specific task, as he wanted to help the think tank... and didn't like the role of "Tunnel Digger" he had been assigned at birth. His runt status honestly made him good at either job, but Chrysalis wasn't going to reward bad behavior by reassigning the grub.
Meanwhile, Thorax's brother, "Pharynx", was a model ling. Accelerating quickly in his clutch. He was even promoted to "Captain". While far from the highest rank, he was in charge of directing his platoon. As well as helping the other Captains, of the Patrol Clutch, make plans and organize themselves...
Pharynx... would be crushed when he heard what Chrysalis planned to do to Thorax.
Chrysalis didn't say anything for several long minutes, just staring at the grub as she attempted to remain calm.
"Queen Mama?..." Thorax tried.
"Don't!" Chrysalis snapped, "Don't you dare think of sweet talking your way out of this. Disagreeing with me is one thing, but actively endangering the hive!"
"I don't believe I was endangering it." Thorax tried to explain.
"That's not for you to decide!" Chrysalis banged her hoof against her throne. "If you will not respect my word as Queen, then the least you could do is listen to me as your mother!!! The other races are DANGEROUS!!! They have been slaughtering us for centuries. Do you think I drove us into hiding for FUN!!!"
"But that was so long ago," Thorax was still arguing!!!! "And things have changed. There is a level of cooperation between the species that has never-"
"Do you know why they slaughtered my first brood?" Chrysalis interrupted.
Thorax flinched, "Cus we look scary..." he admitted.
"Cuz we look SCARY!!! We never raised a hoof against them! We were never a threat to them. They merely saw us, screamed 'Monster' and killed us on sight!"
"Things are different now Mama!" Thorax tried to stress.
"You want to live amongst them so badly!" Chrysalis raged, "I will grant your request."
"Really?" Thorax blinked.
Chrysalis glared, "For the crime of endangering the hive, you are hereby banished."
Thorax mouth dropped, "That's not what I want!"
The guards around them tensed.
Chrysalis glared, "Throw him out into the Refugee deck, and erase his memory of our location."
The guards gulped. "M-my Queen?" as if begging her not to have him do it.
Chrysalis sighed at them, "We must protect the safety of the hive. We can risk no ling to endanger it. Now, get him out of here."
The Guards started dragging the grub away... all the while he gave screams of "Please!!!" and "I'm sorry"... and one of "Queen Mama!!!"
It broke her heart to watch them drag the grub away. Yet she forced herself not to turn away. This was her decision. Not as a mother, but as Queen of a nation... to protect all under her rule... she would have to live with this pain. So she refused to look away at her son's tear stained face.
Once the boy was gone, Chrysalis turned to a nearby hoof maiden ."Tell Pharynx," Chrysalis told the drone. "That he may leave with his brother. He may come and go as he wishes... but Thorax is not to return to the Hive."
Spike was walking down the hall when he caught sight of some kind of small animal stumbling through the hall. The beast must have wandered out of one of the animal sanctuaries. It took Spike a moment to register that that was a Changeling. About as big as himself... which wasn't very big at all...
Spike should have ran, should have screamed... but the critter looked so... sad... with massive streams of tears dripping down his face... dripping onto the floor...
"You... you okay?" Spike didn't know why he asked, it wasn't like Changelings could talk.
The little guy jumped, with strangely Sapient sounding, "Gah!" Before looking at Spike.
The changeling looked at him a moment then, sniffled "no... I'm not..."
Spike's eyes grew wide, as he registered the monster... wasn't actually a monster... then... he registered what the creature said.
Spike walked over to the other boy, at least he assumed it was a child based on how small he was, and hugged him. The critter tensed.... but after a moment... he hugged him back... this simple hug, proving everything Thorax ever said. They could live in peace. They didn't have to hide... why couldn't Queen Mama see it...
He cried harder as he thought of her.
Pharynx immediately stormed out of the hive, the moment he was told what happened to Thorax. He shifted into a bug bear, and flew as fast as he could. Once he was on the Voyager ship, he turned into a fly, and tried to sneak about, looking for his foalish brother.
The least Chrysalis could have done was have Pharynx escort Thorax out, himself. His most treasured broodmate might very well be dead already. Especially if he went through with his plan to expose their real form to the other races.
When Pharynx finally spotted Thorax... The young Captain immediately shifted back into a bugbear, and let out a ferocious roar. Thorax was already under attack! Neither seemed to notice Pharynx had changed, luckily.
Pharynx immediately swiped his claw at the dragon... only for Thorax to push it out of the way and stand over it. His horn glowing... but was pointed at Pharynx... or what Thorax might not know was Pharynx... guess it wasn't so lucky Thorax didn't see...
Queen Mama must have went all out with the banishment, and fully severed Thorax's link to the hive... so Thorax not only couldn't hear his thoughts... but couldn't sense him... that would explain why it took so long to find the runt.
Before this could get out of hand... Pharynx changed back.
Thorax's horn immediately stopped glowing, "Pharynx!" the grub immediately jumped at the tall Warrior bug. Obviously hoping to get a hug. Instead, the elder broodmate whacked the runt upside his head.
"Banished Thorax!" Pharynx raged, "With all the stupid things you've done, it looks like you finally pushed the hive too far."
Thorax lowered his head.
Pharynx scoffed at the 'Kicked puppy' look his brother was sporting, "Come along, we need to find a place to hide, but first-" his horn started glowing, as he walked towards the dragon.
Thorax immediately jumped in front of him, "What are you doing!?"
"I'm just going to erase it's memory."
Pharynx glared, "He's seen you! Seen both of us!!!"
"He was helping me!!!" Thorax insisted. "Besides, I'll need contacts, out here, if I'm to adjust!!!"
"CONTACTS!!!" Pharynx yelped, "You can't trust these things Thorax!!! They will squish you like a defenseless grub!!!"
"You guys are scared of us?" Spike blinked.
Pharynx glared. "You SLAUGHTER US BY THE THOUSANDS!!!"
Spike flinched. Then stood tall, "We didn't even know you were real until you attacked us! Even afterwards. We didn't know changelings weren't anything more then mindless monsters, controlled by Chrysalis. You've never tried talking to us before!"
Pharynx bared his teeth and hissed.
Spike took a step back, but then forced himself to be brave, "I promise I'm not going to hurt you. Not unless you try to hurt me."
Thorax gently laid a hoof on his older brother's shoulder, "Please Pharynx..."
The older changeling (by a few seconds but that did make a huge difference to grubs) sighed. He suddenly burst into green light, and reappeared as a purple and red dragon. Thorax followed his led and transformed as well... not really willing to push Pharynx any further, by trying to present himself to all the creatures as a ling... they might not react as well as Spike... and one friend was enough... for now...
"Errr, it might be better if you guys hide as Ponies."
Dragon Pharynx sneered, but did as was suggested. turning into a purple unicorn with a red mane. Thorax turned into a light blue foal, a black mane with blue highlights.
"Cool..." Spike shifted uncomfortably. "errr now... let me find you a place to live. There are a few thousand ponies, so no one will notice if a few new ones appear. Everypony has been busy all week, picking their houses, so no creature will suspect a thing.
Thorax smiled, while Pharynx raised an eyebrow... the little dragon was actually directing them with the best way to hide.
● With Twilight.
"You want to teach all children the Shadow Clone Jutsu?" Sarutobi blinked at the 'Friendship Ambassador'. As she asked for some instructors, in that Jutsu, for the school.
Twilight pranced in place. She was filled with a surprising eagerness to get started, "I have been talking to some of your creatures about what that spell does. And While a physical clone, controlled by your own subconscious, is extremely useful, it's ability for all knowledge it gathers to be absorbed by the original!!! That is just too perfect!!! The clones are even more focused, and retain information better then the original. They even have greater comprehension!!! This makes it an Excellent teaching aid.
"Even if the kids only have enough power to make a single clone, at first, that's still double their current rate of learning. We could greatly accelerate the time taught teaching. As they get older, they will naturally get better at the spell, just by using it every day. So they can make more and more clones!!! Which means faster and faster learning!!!" She bounced. "This will revolutionize schooling!!!"
Sarutobi thought on that... the reason the Shadow Clone Jutsu wasn't already used for such a reason... was more politics... that no longer existed. Back when the Shinobi were made up of seperate villages, The Jutsu was considered a restricted technique, to Konoha. As a result, civilians couldn't be taught it. Then, despite how easy it was, the academy students couldn't be taught it either, as a result of them not being considered trustworthy enough to handle a village Jutsu until they were at least Genin...
Reducing the Jutsu to a teaching aid, for everyone, would greatly limit it's usefulness in a fight... but the Shinobi couldn't rely solely on their combat prowess... this might also give them a chance to endear themselves to the other races.
"Very well," The Hokage nodded.
Twilight whinnied excitedly, then quickly covered her mouth. She now had a mortified expression on her face. "Pardon my language," She begged. "This is just, so thrilling!"
There was a sudden knock at the door. Then a little scaly head poked into the room. "Mom?" Spike asked then blushed, seeing the Hokage, "S-sorry to interrupt, but can I borrow the List of houses still available?"
Twilight smirked, "Bit young to be moving out."
"N-no, not for me." Spike blushed, "I ran into a couple orphans and they told me they don't have a place to live yet. I was going to show them a few places. They also need Data chips and a food allowance."
Twilight sighed. "We do just keep finding more and more orphans, scattered about the dimensions..." the reminder of that putting a damper on her good mood. "I recently set up more permanent orphanages, for each of the dimensions. So all underage creatures can be cared for. Just let me finish up here and I'll walk your new friends over."
Spike looked behind the door, out into the hall. There was some hushed talking, before Spike nodded, "They're cool with that. Will the Orphanage help them set up their Data Chips?"
Twilight smiled, "Of course, now go play in your room. I'll come get you lot soon."
● a few hours later.
Thorax looked at the plastic card, his Data Chip... holding all fake knowledge about his life that Pharynx provided. Pharynx had taken the form of a teenager, just a few years older then Thorax... and the matrons even let them have an apartment all to themselves...
The orphanage was more like a huge apartment complex, then what their used to be in pony culture... probably because the sheer amount of orphans being found. The adults would just wander the compound, and occasionally check on the kids... Thorax could taste the love around this place. The love adults have for children they care for.
This was the reason Pharynx allowed them to be moved here. Such areas were easy to survive in.
None of the apartments had locks on the doors... nor did they have kitchens. The kids were expected to eat together in a large, free, diner on the property. Not that changelings needed to eat, but it couldn't hurt either.
"So..." Spike shifted uncomfortably. "Will you guys be okay?"
Pharynx still eyed the dragon warily. The boy had helped them find the perfect way to hide... but that doesn't mean he couldn't turn on them later... regardless, the dragon child had earned a little trust.
"The matron helped me sign up for an Apprenticeship, learning how to operate the ship. If I gain enough Intel, I might be able to buy forgiveness for Thorax to rejoin the hive..." Pharynx hesitated to say the next bit. "This went much better then I thought our first day out here would go. Even my best case scenario, wasn't nearly as well off as this... thank you." it hurt to say that last bit, but Spike was too valuable a contact to lose.
Thorax smiled, giving Spike another hug, "See you at school."
Spike smiled, "You bet, I pulled some strings, so we get to be in the same class."
Thorax smiled even wider.