Changeling Q and A
(Prepare to fire the head-canons!)
Q: How does the chain of command work with the under-queens? Does Chrysalis control the under-queens, who then control the lesser changelings(Chrysalis -> under-queens -> drones), or does Chrysalis control them all equally and the under-queens are just stronger changelings(Chrysalis -> under-queens and drones)?
A: Chrysalis has the ability to directly control/give orders to any given drone, but tends to not bother. She is obsessed with conquest and ponies, and considers drones to be a bit beneath her notice, so she lets the under-queens direct them. Even in a healthy hive, however, the queen tends to delegate quite a lot of the running of the hive to the under-queens.
Q: Since changelings have a hive mind, does that make them able to know what the other is thinking at all times?
A: Any given changeling within a hive can see what any other changeling is thinking if they want to, and many drones (Sweetcake among them, before losing his bond) are a little lazy and like let the hive do all their thinking for them, so they hardly have thoughts of their own. Others, however, tend to be a little bit more individualistic, and will only "check in" with the hive when they run into something they can't figure out for themselves. Either way, most changelings seldom bother to see what any other changeling is thinking, they're busy with their own lives and duties. The real effect of the hive bond has more to do with mood, emotion, and the spreading of emergency information, such as when the hive is under attack.
Q: Have the other hives have any contact with Equestria? Have they tried to engage in diplomacy?
A: The other hives lie within Equestria, so they've definitely had some contact! Chrysalis Hive's territory is Canterlot itself and the small towns that lie nearby it, including Ponyville, and stretching out into the badlands to include Appleoosa and Doge as well. This is a little bit unusual, though. Most hives are actually quite urban. They feed on ponies, so they go where the ponies are. There are hives hidden in or near every major urban center in Equestra. (Manehattan has two.) Chrysalis Hive is also a bit unusual in the hive proper being a long away away from any pony habitations, but the original founding queen did not want to build a hive right under Celestia's nose, so it was located well away from Canterlot, even though that's where they do most of their feeding.
The other hives have not, however, tried any sort of diplomacy with ponies. It is the Prime Directive of changeling life that ponies should never know changelings exist. None of the other hives/queens would approve of what Chrysalis has done in letting ponies see changelings moving openly at all.
Q: Are your changelings distinctly male/female, hermaphrodites, or neither?
A: 95+% of them are infertile females. That's what the term "drone" is used to mean in my stories, even though it's technically a bit inaccurate (drones in bees are males, not females.) A small percentage in a given hive (around one in a hundred) will be fertile females, aka. under-queens, and an even smaller percentage fertile males. (The males are incredibly protected, though it varies from hive to hive whether they are pampered princes or near-slaves, but they absolutely never leave the hive and a pony would never be allowed in to see them.) The single queen is also, of course, fertile and female.
That's strictly physiologically speaking, though. As far as gender roles and gendered personalities the way we (and ponies) tend to think of them, most changelings would consider themselves to have no gender at all. Infiltrators, who spend a lot of time around/as ponies do tend to settle into a particular gender and stick with it, since learning how to comfortably fit both gender roles is difficult, it's easier to stick to taking just one gender. This is why Sweetcake feels comfortable with "Mister", and doesn't bother to explain that it's not physically accurate. Technically he's actually female, but he doesn't think of himself that way.
Q: Do they sing when they work?
A: Yes! They are probably not as prone to bursting into song as ponies are, but they do sing.
Q: Are they prone to any form of 'sibling rivalry?
A: Generally not, no. All changelings feel a strong loyalty to the hive which tends to prevent that kind of thing. The exception is under-queens, some of whom tend to constantly try to one up each other in various ways in hopes of ending up queen eventually.
Q: Are there holidays of any kind?
A: No, changelings are not prone to "wasting" time and effort on things like that.
Q: Do Changelings play tricks on each other for fun, if and when they have free time? Is that even possible, due to hive connection?
A: It would be incredibly rare for a changeling to do so. An individual who liked surprising and pranking others would be regarded by the hive as borderline insane, but it's within the realm of possibility. Some pranks would be easier than others. The hive bond would prevent things like sneaking up behind someone, but though all changelings within a hive can sense each other, they are not actively reading each other's minds at all times, so tricks and pranks would be possible.
Q: Do different hives have slightly varied looks between the Changelings from each hive such as different spines, eye colors, or carapace patterns?
A: Yes! Most of the variations are subtle, but differing hives have distinctly different "accent colors" ie. their eyes and the things I've been calling "wing cases" since that's the nearest insect analog I can come up with for wtf they are.
Q: What location is this hive in?
A: Chrysalis Hive is in the badlands, on the far side of the Everfree from Ponyville.
Q: Do they prefer dirt or rock for the beginnings of their hive, IE: open field vs. mountain terrain?
A: Rock. Especially soft sandstone which is easy to work. Urban changelings will tend to take advantage of any old, unused pony structures underground too, such as abandoned sewer lines or subway tunnels.
Q: Do Changeling queens gather at any point to discuss matters of territory or other subjects?
A: Changeling queens almost never leave the hive (Chrysalis is once again atypical.) They do "gather" by means of drones, as the queen can use the bond to speak through a drone.
Q: Do they like toast or tea?
A: Only the infiltrators would have had the opportunity to try either, and it would depend on their personal taste.
Q: Do changelings potty? We know all changelings feed on love, but only some versions eat food, others just pretend, and some find a way to avoid the situation altogether
A: As mentioned in the story itself, my version of changelings do require solid food. They are omnivores, but live on a diet that primarily consists of mushrooms. Fish and cooked insects such as locusts/grasshoppers tend to be used to add variety to that rather boring diet.
Q: Would that make "hate" a way to sicken a changeling? Or is [directed strong negative feelings] just an emotion they cannot feed on leaving them starving but otherwise unharmed?
A: Hate would sicken a changeling if the changeling tried to eat it, but feeding is an at least partially voluntary act (it can be done subconsciously too, while sleeping, but not unwillingly.) You can't force-feed a changeling. So yes hate would make them sick if they actively fed on it, but they wouldn't.
Q: Can polymorphing be used to cheat injuries?
A: No. Injuries translate across when a changeling shifts forms.
Q: How deep does the polymorphic ability go? Does it merely change the wrapper but not the insides?
A: It makes macro changes, but not micro changes. Ie. it does go more than skin deep, you could x-ray a changeling and it would look like a pony, but if you drew a little blood or tested their DNA, it would not be pony-like at all.
Q: If it goes deeper, could that be used to shapeshift into a restored changeling after suffering a broken limb? What about loosing an entire limb?
A: I suppose with a good supply of love energy, the shift could be used as a kind of healing spell, but it wouldn't be something the average changeling could do.
Q: Do changelings get sick?
A: Absolutely. I haven't put a lot of thought into changeling-specific maladies, though, as they don't come up in any of the stories I've told so far.
Q: Can a drone become a fertilizer by sheer will? I know there are species that can change sex at will if necessary, so I guess the same can go to actual reproduction.
A: No, simply wishing it were so is not enough to change sex for a changeling.
Q: Also, when they take a pony form, do they become physically fully functional?
A: This is kind of a "yes and no" question. In pony form they do have functional genitals, but as it is a macro (structural) change rather than a micro (biochemistry) change, they don't have the hormonal responses for arousal.
Q: Are they limited to ponies-only, or can they shape-shift with other species? If so, is there a size limit (like breezies or buffalos for example).
A: No, they're not limited to ponies only, but there is a size limit. It's a fairly flexible one though. Chrysalis seems to be about the size of Celestia, and yet easily takes the form of Cadance, who is quite a bit smaller than Celestia, after all. And of course Sweetcake's stallion form is a good bit larger than his natural changeling form.
Misc. Q and A
Q: Will Sweetcake form a hive bond with the rest of the Mane 6?
A: No. Sweetcake's bond with Pinkie was a very unusual thing. It happened because of the dual factors of him being completely cut off from all mental contact (and thus being subconsciously and consciously desperate to somehow establish some sort of bond) and the fact that he and Pinkie were feeling very similar emotions and were in very close contact for some time. Other changelings could conceivably form bonds with other ponies under similar circumstances, but for Sweetcake to form a bond with any other pony, he would have to first lose his bond with Pinkie Pie.
Q: Will Twilicorn be in the sequel?
A: No. The sequel only jumps forward a month or two in time, and is still before Twilight's ascension. As I am enjoying writing in this universe, it's entirely possible that eventually alicorn Twilight may turn up, but for now I have no specific plans to include her.
Q: Is it okay to use ideas from this story in stories of my own?
A: Absolutely! It would be hypocritical of me to steal my setting and most of my characters from Hasbro and then turn around and demand that nobody else use any of the things I invented. (And if you do, I want a link!)
(All art is by me, since I haven't gotten any by anybody else.)
I had never felt or tasted such love as Pinke was suddenly pouring into me.
Larger version here.
My new form was still pink, like Pinkie. I'd made my mane and tail short and straight though, and I shaped a horn.
Larger version here.