A Day In The Hives

by Shaded Changeling

Medical Hive

Twilight was very nervous; sure she had gotten the privilege to see Cytes before, it had only really been a small window of time and inside of a smaller outpost. Now, Twilight was going to be with her for an entire day and inside of the Main Hive! When she had gotten the letter, she had to stop herself from practically shoving the entire Library’s worth of paper into her saddle bags.
She had simply been sitting in the library, sorting through the books that had been messed up during the attack to make sure everything was in its proper place, when Spike had come downstairs holding a letter from Celestia.
“Twilight, were you expecting a letter from Celestia?” The young dragon said as he walked down the stairs, a letter clutched in his claws.
Twilight was busy levitating large stacks of books and sorting them onto the shelves they belonged in. When the young dragon walked down, she continued to sort the books. “No, I wasn’t. What does it say?”
Spike unrolled the letter and cleared his throat. “‘My Faithful Student, yesterday I met with the Queens that reside within Equestria. The meeting was to determine the opening of Hives to the common pony. Of course, there were complications with the plan, but I came up with a compromise. I spoke with the…’ Yadda, yadda, yadda… Ah, here we go. ‘It is with great pride that I inform you that the Queens have allowed you the great honor of visiting the Hives to learn about how they operate. The first Hive you shall visit is the Medical Hive near Vanhoover. And…’ Twilight?”
Twilight was sitting in the middle of the room, all of the books floating in the air still. “Twilight, are you…”
The books all fell to the ground as Twilight turned around, a large smile on her face. “Ohmigosh! Ohmygosh! Ohmygosh!” Twilight grabbed the letter in her magic and pulled it out of Spike’s grip. “It says here that she wants me to write about the Queens' personalities and what I think about them and…OH, Spike this is amazing! Think of what we could learn! Think of what this could mean!”
“Does it mean that I get to stay here?” Spike asked, already knowing the answer.
“Of Course not, Spike!” Twilight said, levitating over her saddlebags. “I need you there to help me catalogue everything!” She started levitating over stacks of paper, Quills, inkwells, notepads, cameras, a number of various test tubes, goggles, and other things. “Oo… Do you think I’ll forget something, I don’t even know what to bring! What do you bring to meet the leader of an entire civilization? Are there any taboos I need to worry about? What if I say something wrong?”
“TWILIGHT!” Spike shouted, knowing it was the only way to get her attention. “Don’t you think you are taking this a little bit too far?”
Twilight blinked and looked back at her Saddlebags, bulging out from the amount of materials she had stuffed into them. She gave a small nervous chuckle. “Maybe I went a little overboard…”
Spike crossed his arms and raised an eye brow.
“Okay, a lot overboard.” Twilight sighed. “But I don’t want to mess this up, I’ll be the first pony to enter the Hives in one thousand years! It’s such an honor and I don’t want to forget anything!”
Spike shook his head. “This is also the first time the Changelings are letting a pony into their Hive, if we start taking measurements and testing everything about them, it might just irritate them.”
Twilight thought that over, while she did want to know absolutely everything, but Changelings were a more stealth race, perhaps it would be better to leave some things hidden for now. Despite how much Twilight was going to want to know. “Alright, Spike. You talked me out of it.”
“Does that mean I get to stay here?” He asked hopefully.
Twilight rolled her eyes. “No, Spike. You get to take the pictures.” Twilight replied, levitating a camera up to the young Dragon. Spike sighed and took the camera.
Twilight smiled and turned her eyes back to the letter. “It says here that Celestia would be sending the key to us shortly after… Spike have you…?”
Spike’s cheeks puffed up as he let out a burp, the green flames releasing a blue spark that fell to the ground as a blue cone-shaped gem. “I guess this is the key.”
Twilight looked over the letter and then at her saddlebags, emptying them out with her magic. “I should probably pack a little less…”
And now, she was sitting on the train to Vanhoover, her saddlebags full of writing supplies and luckily not bulging. Spike was sitting next to her, looking at the blue gem in his claws. They had been on the train for a couple hours, and judging from the changing climate, they were nearing their destination.
Vanhoover was a city up by the northern regions of Equestria, where it snowed quite frequently without Pegasi intervention. Twilight had been racking her brains for a reason why a group of insects would actually set up their livelihood in such a climate. All she came up with was some kind of natural resistance to it, but that didn’t seem right.
Twilight was making a mental list of all of the questions she would ask Queen Cytes, ranging from her Hive, to culture, to history, to why the Hive’s all separated. Along with her physical list of questions she would ask, she felt ready for almost anything.
As she felt the train beginning to slow down, she looked out towards the train station. There were a few ponies on the train to Vanhoover with her, but none that had stayed on as long as her.
“Are we expecting anypony to meet us?” Spike asked looking over the few faces that were in the crowd. “Or do we need to walk somewhere?”
Twilight levitated Celestia’s letter up to read over it again. “It says we should have somepony waiting for us… I’m just not sure as to who.”
Spike looked back out towards the crowd. “Maybe it’s the one holding the sign that says ‘Twilight’ on it?”
Twilight looked out towards the station, sure enough, there was a green Pegasus holding up a sign that said ‘Twilight’ on it, the Pegasus mare was flying above the heads of some of the other ponies to ensure Twilight saw the sign. “That might be a good start.”
Spike hopped onto Twilight’s back as the two of them walked off of the train and into the cold Vanhoover air. She walked up to the green Pegasus mare as she landed, her light blue mane left to sway on its own. “Are you Twilight Sparkle?” She asked as she and Spike walked up to her.
“That’s me.” Twilight replied, extending a hoof. “Are you here to take me to Sapphire?”
The Mare looked Twilight up and down, her purple eyes casting a curious look at Spike. “Well, you certainly fit the description I was given.” She said. “Though do you have the key?”
“Right here.” Spike said as he reached into his small backpack and pulled out the crystal. The mare looked at it as her eyes flashed blue, the crystal responding to the change with a light glow.
The mare nodded. “Alright, just had to be sure. Cytes would put me on night shift if I brought the wrong pony to her.” She shivered. “Night shift is weird… Anyway, if you would just follow me.”
The mare began walking away from the station as the train pulled out, heading further north. “So my name is Deep Sleep, I’m here to lead you to the Hive.”
“Good to meet you, Deep Sleep,” Twilight replied. “This is Spike.”
Deep Sleep smiled at the Dragon. “Nice to meet you, Spike. Hope you don’t mind the weather too much; we get hit by a nasty cold spell this time of year, always makes my job harder when I’m off duty.”
Twilight nodded. “So about how far out is the Hive?”
Sleep looked back at her. “Far? What do you think we are going to walk all the way to the Hive’s main entrance? That would take days with the way the weather is going.”
“Oh… Then I guess that…”
“We’re just going to the Hospital.” Sleep replied, pointing up at the building, the universal Red Cross symbol on the building signifying its use. “Vanhoover General, established by the Medical Queen herself, Queen Cytes, sees over three hundred and ninety four thousand patients a year.”
Spike raised the camera and took a picture of the building, while it wasn’t much to look at, the sheer size of the hospital was something to admire. “So the Hive is in there?”
Sleep chuckled. “No. Don’t be silly. It’s underneath it.” She said nonchalantly. “If I remember correctly, the Hive’s tendril is only about a mile down.”
“Then how are we supposed to get there?” Spike asked. “Unless there is a giant hole in the middle of the Hospital, it would be pretty obvious.”
“Silly Dragon.” She patted Spike on the head. “We have our methods.” She said, walking towards the Hospital.
Twilight followed her, just making small talk until they entered the Hospital. It looked about the same as Canterlot General, only on a much larger scale. There were a few more ponies working at the reception desk, with one or two Changelings alongside them, ponies walked around the room and looking up, Twilight could see another floor right above them.
Sleep led them up to the reception desk, up to one of the Changeling receptionists. “Morning, 48.”
The Changeling look up at them. “Sleepy! Good to see you again.” The Changeling said, turning her attention to Twilight. “Oh, hello, Miss Sparkle and Mister Spike. I hope the trip wasn’t too boring.”
“Oh no it was fine.” Twilight replied, giving a smile.
“48, make sure security knows we’re coming. Don’t want to be held up with that mess.”
48 nodded. “I’ll make sure to get the message to them. Will you be staying for dinner, Sleepy?”
Sleep shrugged. “I’m not really sure, the Queen may just put me on Anesthesia duty again, it all depends on how the day goes.”
“Well if you are free, O-P-D 43 is planning a little party in the Hive, you’re free to come.” She leaned in. “I heard tell that he’s finally going to propose to ‘You Know Who’, but if he asks, you didn’t hear it from me.” She said quietly.
“About time.” Sleep replied. “I’ll talk to you later, 48.”
Sleepy began to walk past the reception desk, heading down a hall. “So can anypony just walk into the Hive?” Twilight asked.
“They can certainly try.” Sleep replied. “All of us took the Hippocratic oath, well, almost all of us.”
“Uh… Almost all?” Spike asked.
“Defenders.” Sleep replied. “They keep us safe. And they don’t care about others’ well being. They like to keep our Hive safe, and they keep out those that aren’t allowed. They never take the Hippocratic oath, they will kill if need be.”
“Have they?” Twilight asked.
“Well… Not that I’m aware of. They are essentially the Soldiers of our Hive. But since we are so small, we don’t need them as much. But they are still essential.”
Twilight swallowed. “Well… That’s interesting…” Twilight’s horn lit up as she pulled up a notepad and quill, writing on it.
They continued their walk until they came to a door labeled ‘Basement’, the door looked like it should be locked, but the knob had a strange looking keyhole. Sleep pulled a blue crystal out from under her wing and held it up to the keyhole, there was a slight magical hum before the crystal stopped glowing and Sleep put the crystal back under her wing.
Sleep pulled open the door and motioned for Twilight to follow. As she stepped into the door, she noticed that there was a slight blue glow coming from the ceiling. “Well, come on, we’ve got to meet with the Queen.”
Twilight snapped to look back at Sleep. She followed her down a flight of stairs and came to… A basement. Not sure what I expected…
It was exactly what you would expect, a basement with a few janitorial supplies, and a few supply boxes. “Are you sure this is where the Hive is?”
Sleep sighed. “Yes, Twilight, I think I know where my home is.” She looked back at Twilight. “Just put up a magical shield. Do not ask why.”
Twilight looked back at Spike, who shrugged, before putting up a magical shield around herself.
Sleep watched Twilight put up the shield before walking towards a blank stone wall on the far side of the room. “Anesthesia Drone 28, requesting permission to enter.”
“Permission granted.”
Sleep turned back to Twilight. “This is why I told you to put the shield up…”
Twilight cocked her head, as Sleep stepped to the side as a bright beam fired from the wall, hitting Twilight’s shield and surrounding the purple barrier, a few seconds later, the beam ceased and a door was placed where the beam had fired.
“Neat, huh?” Sleep replied. “Little knockout spell we Anesthesia Drones rigged up, with a little help.” Sleep motioned to the door as it was opened and two Changelings wearing blue armor walked through, their eyes a sky blue color as they both looked at Twilight with a glare. Between their two blue wings was a dusty purple backplate.
“Relax, boys, the Queen wants her as a special guest. This is Twilight Sparkle, personal student to Princes Celestia…”
The two guard’s wings flared open.
“Alright… Fine…” Sleep turned to look at Twilight. “They just need to search you, both of you, for any kind of weapons.” She sighed.
The two Changelings walked up to Twilight and lit their horns, a wall of magic spread over her, washing slowly over her body. One of the Guards stopped as it reached Spike’s bag, its horn beginning to glow red.
“Spike?” Twilight asked. “What is in there?”
“Nothing you don’t know about.”
Twilight went through a mental list of what she had packed, before mentally facehoofing. “The Lab kit! I forgot to remove the lab kit from your bag. They must be picking up on the scalpel.”
Sleep walked up to the two Guards. “Hey! Pain-Brains! The Queen ordered that Twilight be allowed to pass.”
One of the Guards put their hoof on Twilight’s chest. “If I find you even attempting to harm anyone within the Hive,” He raised his hoof to his neck and slid it across. “Got it?” He said bearing his fangs.
Twilight gulped. “Uh-huh…” She said nervously.
The Changeling Guards both walked back through the door, followed by Sleep and then Twilight. As they all stepped through the door, it faded into the wall.
“Sorry about them.” Sleep said, being covered in a blue flame and replaced with her changeling form. “They are super defensive, but they will only attack if there is a legitimate threat to the Hive. So just… don’t do anything aggressive.”
“Noted…” Twilight said, writing down on the notepad. “So… What do you do around here?”
“I didn’t tell you?” Sleep asked. “Well, I’m an Anesthesia Drone. When I’m a pony, I’m an Anesthesiologist at the Hospital. I’m skilled with knockout spells and work to help keep ponies from seeing the Hive. That little spell hooked up to the door was made by us Anesthesia Drones, with a little help from the Queen.”
Spike looked around the room. “So, where is this entrance to the Hive? So far all I see is a barren room.”
“Just wait, little guy.” Sleep said. “We’re almost there. We have to keep it under wraps in case somepony gets through the Defenders and the spell. It is just up here.”
Twilight followed Sleep a little bit further before coming to something she did not expect. “A sapphire?”
Standing at the end of the hall, was an enormous sapphire, easily taking up the height of the small hallway. She could almost feel Spike drooling at the sight of such an enormous gem.
“It’s beautiful.” Twilight said. “But what is it?”
Sleep smiled. “Why don’t I show you?” She walked up to the gem and put her hoof on it.
As if reacting to the hoof’s touch, the crystal began glowing a faint blue. The gem began to glow brighter and brighter before letting off a flare of magic. Twilight covered her face with a hoof to shield it from the blast. When she looked back, Sleep was gone.
Twilight looked back at it fearfully. “Deep Sleep?” She said, slowly walking up to the crystal, before she got close to it, the crystal began to glow again and instinctively Twilight put up a shield around herself. When the glow died down Sleep was standing in front of her.
“You coming or what?” Sleep asked.
“How… How did…?”
“Just put your hoof on the crystal,” Sleep said, “And it works its magic and teleports you to the receiver. Now you want to go to the Hive or what?”
Twilight looked at the gem, unsure about the safety of it. She looked over at Sleep, who waved her hoof in front of her face.
“Oh, Cytes! That fear.” She walked up to Twilight. “It’s perfectly safe. Now just put your hoof on the crystal, and stop stinking up the place.”
Twilight shied back. “Sorry… Forgot that you guys could smell that…” She sighed and looked at the gem. She walked up to it, and slowly raised her hoof to it, as the lavender hoof connected with the clear blue surface, she saw the surface of the crystal begin to glow, growing stronger and stronger. She tried to pull her hoof away experimentally but found that her hoof seemed glued to the crystal, she tugged a little more before the glow shot out from the crystal.
As the glow encompassed her, her snout pulled her forward into the crystal. Instead of hitting a solid wall, it is more like being thrust head first into a strong current, quickly pulling her along through a winding course. She had closed her eyes as the glow became blinding, but deciding there would be nothing wrong with it, she opened her eyes.
What she saw was a spinning vortex of sensory overload, various colors, all swirling together and making only the shadow of images before flashing to something else. She felt her head beginning to feel tight as the images flooded her mind. After a few seconds, she felt all pressure relieve itself as she was covered in a bright light and found herself inside a black room, her eyes blurring as her mind tried to comprehend what she had seen.
She saw another two bright flashes from the corner of her eye, and chose to stay on the ground. There was a bottle of some purple liquid that was levitated in front of her face and shook a little. She saw a Blue eyed changeling walk in front of her eyes and open its mouth, miming drinking the liquid.
Twilight opened her mouth and felt the bottle placed into her mouth, she felt the strange substance enter her mouth, the consistency of molasses alongside the taste of what Twilight thought was fermented fish guts, the taste alone almost made her gag reflex go into overdrive, but it was pushed down by the strange substance. When she managed to swallow it, she saw the bottle pulled from her mouth as her vision cleared.
As soon as she was able to see straight, she stood up and saw Sleep come back with another bottle of pink liquid. “Here, this will help drown out the taste.”
Twilight grabbed it and began to drink the liquid, feeling the sweet substance dance across her tongue, purging the foul taste from her mouth. “Oh, Celestia! What was that stuff?”
Sleep pulled the bottle away and put a stopper in it. “Well, the purple stuff is a strong reorientation potion, mixed with a little bit of a potion designed to enhance motor skills within a pony. We use it to help those who try to open their eyes when using the teleporter gems.” She levitated the pink liquid over to a shelf with a variety of colorful liquids. “I could tell the instant I saw your eyes.”
Twilight raised her hoof to her eye instinctively. “What happened to it?”
Deep Sleep closed her own eyes before snapping them open as the iris spun around, flashing in a whirlpool of colors, the pupils rapidly dilating as it contracted to pinpricks and expanded wildly. She closed her eyes and shook her head. “Cytes… Been a while since I did that.” She held her head with a hoof.
“Is there anything we should be looking out for?” Spike asked, looking back at Twilight. “In case the symptoms come back?”
“Oh yeah…” Sleep grabbed a small vial hanging by the wall, full of green slime. “This will help if the eyes begin swirling again. It tastes like curdled milk.”
Twilight looked at the green slime. “Let’s just hope we aren’t going to need it…” She cleared her throat. “So uh… Where are we?”
Sleep smiled. “Well!” She said happily, she walked over to the door at the far end of the room. “Why not take a look?”
Twilight and Spike walked over to the door as Sleep pulled open the door. Twilight felt her jaw drop at what she saw.
She was looking over a railing; below her was a large complex of rooms and hallways. All of them were covered with a blue membrane while Changelings flew around the complex, any number of them holding clipboards and various pieces of medical equipment. Looking straight down, Twilight saw what looked like the bottom of the complex, a number of Changelings sitting there. All looking up at a large magically charged board that was displaying an image of Queen Cytes.
As Twilight looked around, she heard what sounded like an intercom system turning on. “Attention all Defenders, be aware that Twilight Sparkle has entered the Hive. She is not to be antagonized during her stay. That is all.”
Sleep walked up to her, a small smile on her face. “Welcome to the Medical Hive, Twilight.” She patted Twilight on the back. “How’s it feel to be the first pony to look at it?”
Twilight was still looking around this undoubtedly small section of the Hive, thinking about what the full size of the complex must be like if this was merely a tendril of the Hive. “It’s amazing…”
Spike raised the camera and took a couple of pictures of the surrounding complex. “How is everything lit up down here?”
“Excellent question!” Sleep replied. “All the light you see here is being produced by the very emotion we feed on.” She paused and blinked a couple of times. “Oh, Minotaur Muscles! I almost forgot to get you to Cytes!” She grabbed Twilight by the hoof and began to sprint down the halls, Spike grabbing onto Twilight’s tail and just barely managing to hold on.
The surprisingly strong Changeling whisked Twilight along the halls of the Hive. Getting only a few looks at the other Changelings as she was rushed down the hall.
“Hey, Sleep, what are you…?”
The Changeling watches the two of them run. “Okay…”
Twilight would have liked to slow down, at least a little, she wasn’t feeling one hundred percent, and running through an unknown location with no way she was going to be able to find her way out if she didn’t have help.
When she was finally able to slow down, Sleep was breathing heavily and put her hoof on a wall. “I…Can’t… Run… That… Whew…” She said breathing hard, her wings buzzing slightly. “Listen… I… Put… Just…” She let out a long breath. “Just give me a second.”
Twilight stood up and let Spike climb onto her back. She looked around to see where they were, not that she figured it would do any good, but she looked through a membrane/window to see a group of blue eyed Changelings standing around a gray earth pony, all of them looking at the Earth pony as it was laying unconscious. “I thought I was the first pony in here?”
Sleep took another deep breath. “Well, no. You are the first willing pony to ever come down here.”
Twilight pointed at the pony. “Then who’s that?”
Sleep looked into the room. “Ah, Miss Felt. Well… She had a nasty run in with a Changeling; she has been out for a long time, we are hoping Acari has a way to fix her… Until then, she’s just another Shell.”
Twilight looked at the pony, her mind working to think of something that might help. When a very particular word in that description caught her sensors. “Another?”
Sleep nodded. “We have twenty three of them here. All the same way.” Sleep sighed. “Alright, I’m good. Let’s get out of here, I hate it here…”
Twilight looked back at Miss Felt before sighing and following Sleep. A little bit further down, a small group of Changelings were talking to each other before one of them noticed Sleep. “Hey, Sleep. How was… the…” The Changeling saw Twilight and looked at the two of them. “Uh… Sleep?”
“Hey, guys.”
“Uh… Is there a pony behind you, or have I been breathing in the wrong gas in the hospital?”
“No, you’re fine, Doctor.” Sleep replied. “Though you could do with less caffeine in your system.”
The Changeling shrugged. “Eh, it’s my weakness.”
“So, Sleep, you coming to O-P-D 43’s party later?”
“I’ll see what I can do.” Sleep said with a smile. “Cause I’m ready to throw off the old calm concentration act.” She said.
“Well, hopefully the Queen sees it that way.” The Changeling replied. “See you around, 28.”
“You too.” Sleep said. “Come on, Twilight”
Twilight followed Sleep while Spike took a few pictures here and there. Eventually they came to a large door, at the top of the frame was an engraving with a stethoscope and syringe crisscrossing on top of a red cross. There were two Guards outside the door, they both shot Twilight and Sleep a glare before lighting up their horns and opening the door.
Sleep and Twilight both walked into the throne room to see Cytes herself sitting at the far end of the hall, sitting at a large throne, the symbol of her Hive over her light blue crystalline throne. She was levitating several pieces of paper up with a small desk having been summoned in front of the throne so that she could write. As the doors opened, she looked up.
“Ah, Miss Sparkle.” She said calmly, her perfectly curved horn lighting up and making the papers and desk vanish. “You are a little late. Knowing you I thought you would burst through the room practically dragging Deep Sleep.”
“She actually dragged me…” Twilight said rubbing the back of her neck. “Wait… I’m late!”
“By about twenty three point eight nine seconds.” Cytes replied. “Now then, I know that we had a bit of a discussion earlier, but I believe that we should start anew?”
Cytes walked down from her Throne, her body only slightly smaller than Chrysalis. Her strange membranous mane was pinned up into a bun. Her dusty purple backplate extended to create three blue stripes under her stomach. The key feature of this hive, which Twilight noted before, was the fact that unlike most other Changelings, Cytes’ horn and wings held no degradation, no holes were prevalent throughout a majority of her body. Her mane and tail were perfectly cared for and she looked down at Twilight with her sky blue eyes and a smile. “Nice to meet you, Twilight Sparkle, it is an honor to welcome you to my home.”
“The honor is all mine, Your Majesty.” Twilight replied with a bow. “I’m so glad that you and the other Queens gave me the chance to do this.”
“It is for the betterment of both our societies.” She sighed. “Though I wish that I had another couple weeks to sort everything out…” She mumbled. “I am willing to answer any questions you may have about the Hive and its denizens. Though I must inform you I have an appointment in an hour.” She looked over at Sleep. “Anesthesia Drone 28, I am giving you the rest of the day off. Do try not to break anything.”
Sleep practically hoof-pumped the air before bowing to Cytes. “You know how to contact me should you need it.”
“Go and have fun, Sleep, I know you want to.” Cytes replied.
Sleep backed out of the room, leaving Twilight, Spike, and Cytes to talk. “So, Twilight, how have you been enjoying the Hive?”
“Well, I wasn’t expecting my first reaction to be the taste of fish guts.”
Cytes shook her head. “Sleep gave you the Counter Agent, correct?”
Spike lifted the small vial. “Right here.”
“Good, I was afraid of having to transport you to the emergency wing.” Cytes replied. “As long as that is taken care of, shall we begin with a few of your questions?”
Twilight jolted upright before her horn lit up as she pulled out a rolled up scroll from her bag. “Right, sorry. Sorry. I should have been more ready, I mean you are probably so busy and…”
Cytes’ horn lit up as Twilight began to calm herself. “Relax, Miss Sparkle, I have cleared a majority of my schedule for the day, and I only have a few small duties to attend to today, as it normally is when I’m not working at the Hospital.”
Twilight took a deep breath. “Right, don’t panic…” She unrolled the list as it fell to the ground and rolled to a stop in front Cytes’ hooves. “Sorry…” She cleared her throat. “Well, first question: What made you decide to establish a Hive in Vanhoover?”
“Socialized Medicine.”
Twilight blinked. “Huh… That… Actually makes sense.”
Cytes nods. “Ponies are more willing to come to the hospital when it won’t blow up their budget.” Cytes watched as Twilight looked over her questions.
“Well, I suppose that my next question would be: How long did this Hive take to build?”
Cytes tapped her chin. “Hmm… A very interesting question.” Cytes replied. “Come, walk with me, I’m sure it would fascinate you more than just looking around my Throne room.” She walked past Twilight and towards the hall, quickly Twilight jumped up and put away her questions.
“So… How long?” Twilight asked as she caught up to the Changeling Queen.
“As I said, it is an interesting question, if you are asking how long it took to build this particular hive, it took us almost five decades to get this Hive up and running how you see it now.” She replied. “We decided to stake out our Hive here since it is far enough away from the others, yet close enough that we can come to the aid when needed.”
Cytes continued to walk, a group of Doctors waved at her. “If you mean how long my Hive has been operating, long before the rule of Celestia, my ancestor, High Queen Heloma, was the first and last Medical High Queen.”
“Why was that?” Twilight asked, writing down on her note pad while Spike took some more pictures of the Hive around them.
“Well, it turns out that a High Queen that specializes in Medicine is not exactly the best, especially when the lack of a Medical Hive causes the growth of the most destructive virus to Ponykind.” Cytes sighed. “The Cutie Pox was later obliterated after she transferred the power to Chrysalis’ ancestor, Queen Karamantis.”
“How many Hive Queens are there?” Twilight asked.
“As of this moment?” Cytes replied, pausing. “Well, there is a single High Queen for each and every Territory. I only know of Apath, but they are considered the most powerful and respected Queens in the world.”
Twilight quickly wrote that down. “What makes these High Queens so powerful?”
Cytes stopped. “Good question.” She replied. “I’m not sure.”
“Huh?” Twilight asked confused.
“The truth is, the High Queen’s power is transferred from one to the other it is a closely guarded secret amongst the Queens, so even if I had that knowledge, I could not reveal it to you.”
Twilight frowned a bit. “Oh… Well then…” She went through her list of questions in her head. “Who is O-P-D 43?”
“Optometry Drone 43. You see Twilight, a majority of my Hive is dictated through medical studies. Every one of my Changelings studies the field of medicine they wish to work in and are on their own on that front. As such, a majority of the sub divisions of my drones have rather long complex names. Because of that, they all came up with a system of quickly recognizing the job and status of a drone.” Cytes’ horn lit up as a paper appeared in front of her. “For instance, O-P refers to the study of Optometry, while the ‘D’ at the end refers to the fact that particular drone has achieved his Doctorate.” She levitated the sheet down to Twilight. “It is a little complex to the untrained mind, but it is rather simple once you understand it.”
Twilight looked over the list. “What about Ortho?”
“Ah, Therapy Drone 22. She is doing well in Ponyville I assume? Regardless, she is one of the Drones that do not need an extended title. The shortened titles are for the Doctors or those that hold positions which demand shortening.” Cytes replied. “As is true of most other…”
A Changeling wearing a lab coat flew down to Cytes, a clipboard in his hooves. “My Queen, I thought you should be told that the Surgeons are ready for inspection.”
“Excellent.” Cytes replied. “Tell them I will be there shortly.” The Changeling nodded and flew back through a tunnel. “Would you be interested in seeing a group of my Changelings at work?”
“Um… Okay. I guess you can decide. You are the Queen after all.”
Cytes nodded. “Now then, I do hope you are not squeamish.”

Beep. Beep. Beep
Beep. Beep. Beep.
“You are getting a little close there…”
“I can see that.”
Beep. Beep.
“You should really back out of there.”
“I know what I’m doing…”
Beep. Beeeeeeeep. Beep.
“Doctor, we should really be clo-“
“Just one more…”
The Doctor groaned as he pulled the scalpel from the cadaver.
“I told you, Clear Cut.” His assistant said. “We should have closed up the wound.”
He sighed. “Yeah. I thought we had more time.”
The speaker system started up. “Then maybe you should take precautions to ensure it does not happen.”
The Doctor cast his gaze up towards the Observation deck, looking down on the practice surgery was Queen Cytes, her hoof pressed against the intercom button with the Lavender Unicorn next to her.
“Open Heart Surgery is nothing to play with, you must remember, a patient dying is Malpractice. You will have to change professions.”
“Understood, My Queen. If I could ask, what of the others?”
“A majority of them passed this test, granted many of them were close calls, but the monitor never dropped below stable levels. You will retake this test once I believe that you can handle it. Now go and clean yourself off.” Cytes took her hoof off the intercom.
The group of Changelings below bowed before walking out of the room. Once they were gone, Cytes turned to Twilight. “What was your question again?”
“I wanted to know what you personally studied before becoming Queen.”
“Ah yes. Well, at first I studied Changeling medicine before I moved onto Biochemistry, then slowly worked my way to Surgery, then I went on to study the various other facets my job demands. Having an extended life span helps in that regard.” Cytes sent a signal out to a few Changelings to help clean up the Cadaver.
“Now would you mind telling me how old you are?”
Cytes let out a laugh. “Not at all, Twilight. I’m Seven Hundred and twenty three. I ascended to the throne Five hundred years ago after the passing of my mother, Queen Cornea.”
Twilight nodded as she wrote down the information. She looked back over to the door hoping to see Spike returning from the mission she sent him on, with the permission of Cytes. She allowed Spike to go and take a few pictures of the nursery and Hatchery with the help of a Caretaker. “Well, not that I couldn’t figure this out on my own, but what does your Hive do for Equestria?”
Cytes chuckled. “What don’t we do for Equestria?” Cytes looked down at the practice Chamber as a Changeling was stitching up the hole in the Cadaver, they had so few of those left they began magically mending them to have more. “Well first and most obvious, we help with the discovery and expansion of medical remedies be they magical or physical. We also help promote long lives for ponies, since that in turn means more resources for us. When Equestria goes to war, my Medics are the first to volunteer for the front lines, and my Defenders get a little bit of a… Boost.”
“Meaning what?” Twilight asked.
Cytes smiled. “Have you heard of the Horse Berserkers?”
Twilight nodded. “They were ponies that did psychedelic plants and drugs before battle.”
“And they were said to be able to feel no pain, almost like a gift from the Gods?” Cytes shook her head. “The Defenders are like berserkers, whenever we enter battle, they are the first to move in, aided by an ancient spell, that inhibits their nerves responsible for feeling pain and hooking it up to the Dopamine centers of the brain.”
Twilight’s eyes widened. “Essentially making them into walking pain sponges…” Cytes nodded. “That… That’s amazing!”
“It is the last resort we have, next to releasing the Cutie Pox virus again.”
Twilight’s eyes grew to the size of dish plates. “You have that?”
Cytes smiled.

“Welcome to the Hazard Lab.” Cytes said. Both of them now wearing white HAZMAT suits as they passed through the disinfection station’s glass. “This is where we chronicle and preserve a sample of every disease since Queen Pathos established this center.”
Twilight looked around the room, unlike the rest of the hive; the area was a pure sterile white, the blue glow replaced almost fully with magical fluorescents that didn’t let a single Shadow be created for the pathogens to hide. Around the chamber, Changelings wearing the HAZMAT suits were looking over vials and a variety of different potions that ran throughout the lab. If Twilight wasn’t absolutely sure that something would go wrong, she would have already run up to look at everything.
“Here we analyze old and dangerous pathogens to determine weakness for current variants, our Doctors work around the clock to analyze the potential dangers of these viruses getting out now.”
Cytes walked over to a large metal door and pulled it open with her magic, beckoning Twilight inside. When she walked in, she saw a long hallway, shelves along the walls and stretching for an absurdly long distance down the cavern, both shelves held a large assortment of glass jars, a label under each one. Cytes stepped inside and closed the door.
“The Halls of Plague as we like to call them.” Cytes said. “The last of every deadly strain of disease held at the absolute lowest point of the Hive, behind a sealed door and preserved within magically sealed jars. Cytes walked up to a very dusty old jar. “This is the last strain of the 101-P Strain of Cutie Pox, it was one that only really affected ponies, and was practically ineffective against Changelings, then this nasty bugger showed up.” Cytes lifted another jar. “203-C, a dangerous strain that not only hit Ponies, but Changelings. Caused us to go absolutely insane around here. 24/7 we were working to crack this one. When we finally did, Pathos practically shrieked when she managed to kill it.”
Twilight looked at the two strains. “What else do you have here?”
“Well!” Cytes said. “We’ve got West Anubian flu, Luna’s Curse, we even have a couple pathogens from fossils.”
The door at the end opened. “Queen Cytes, we should remind you that this area is to be renovated and the magical seals reapplied today, it may not be the smartest idea to keep young Miss Sparkle here much longer.”
Cytes nodded. “Of course, we should go. Spike should be waiting for us back in the Throne Room.”
Twilight nodded. “Okay then.”
Twilight and Cytes left, as they stepped through the glass separating the Hazardous area from the safe area before entering the Hive. The glass slid behind them as a beam of magic flooded over the two of them, ensuring the viruses did not escape. After the wave flooded over them a few times, they walked to the other side of the chamber, the change instant. The sterile white walls replaced with the standard gray of the inner Hives. The Magical Fluorescents replaced by similar looking bulbs with blue energy flowing through them.
“I must say, I haven’t been in there for quite a few years. Every time I look at it, the chambers remind me just how dangerous my Hive could be.” Cytes shook her head. “Good thing there is almost no chance of anypony managing to get down here to steal any.”
Twilight nodded as they walked down the chamber, a number of blue membranes dividing this section from much of the Hive. As Twilight looked around, she realized a rather basic question she forgot to ask in her time here. “What emotion do you primarily feed on?”
“Gratification, Appreciation, a little bit of Nervousness, Acceptance, take your pick.” Cytes replied. “In a pinch we can charge up on fear, but it tastes absolutely horrid and I would never condone such behavior.” She said as they walked up to the Blue teleportation Gem.
As both of them touched the gem, Twilight felt the yanking on her snout and this time kept her eyes closed. When they reappeared, she was only slightly disorientated and had a bit of a headache. “When did you start using these Gems?”
Cytes tapped her chin. “Well, actually we discovered their abilities under my Mother.” She replied. “They are extremely useful for keeping the Hive sections safe. The Hazard lab is buried ten miles below the rest of the Hive, the only way in or out is with the crystal, same with the Quarantine center. Without the gems, there would be a constant risk of releasing those Pathogens, at least now we can contain the spread should it ever occur.”
Twilight nodded. “Now, you mentioned that not all of your Changelings work in Hospitals. What did you mean by that?”
Cytes waved at a few of the Changelings around the area. “Well, it is true that I employ my own Changelings as well as Pony Doctors, sometimes I simply cannot, those Changelings are then sent to find a place they can gather or live. Many times they find small villages that are too far from a Hospital to go should something happen, and take the place of a medicinal pony. They are responsible for something like… Thirty nine percent of all gathered emotion for my Hive.”
Twilight scribbled on her notepad. “So, out of curiosity, just how much of the Hive have I actually seen?”
Cytes paused. “Hmm… A good question. If I had to guess, you haven’t even seen half of the Hive yet. You haven’t even seen the Psychiatric training ward, Therapy training, Nursery, Changeling medical Ward, and a large host of other chambers.”
Twilight blinked. “Yikes…”
Cytes’ horn lit up as a clock appeared in front of her. “And sadly, it seems as though we are nearing the end of the day.” Cytes sighed. “I must apologize, I realize that the Surgical training took much longer than I expected…”
“No it’s alright. It was rather fascinating to see how a Changeling would operate on other Changelings. Though I think I could have gone without the close up view of a Changeling’s biology.”
“Yes… 34 does need to get better at controlling her nerves… Those spasms have been vexing us for years.”
“Well, I certainly am glad for the chance to see the Hive, and though I didn’t get to see all of it, I certainly am glad to say that I had fun learning about everything.”
Cytes smiled. “I’m glad that you enjoyed yourself.” She reached up and took off her red-rimmed glasses. “Are there any more questions you wish to ask?”
“Yes actually. How do you get Bits?”
Cytes stopped. “Hmmm…. You wish to know how we can pay for not one, but two hospitals' worth of supplies without drawing attention to ourselves.”
Twilight nodded.
“Well, alongside the pay given to us by the ponies, my Harvesters go and collect rare medicinal plants that we then sell for Bits. Flowers, weeds, fruits, a few exotic animal parts, we collect them and sell them around Equestria. We get a fairly good amount of bits from that alone. However we can enlist the help of Ovi should we ever require it, we are on fairly good terms, and she has far too many bits to know what to do with.”
Twilight wrote down on the notepad, but restrained herself from asking about Ovi’s Hive, she would save that for later. “So how do you keep track of everything?”
“Communication Drones keep us all in contact; Callsign is the designated Communication Drone for Canterlot, or my personal Secretary. Generally it is the job of Communication Drones to ensure that I am told about any serious threats, though for the most part, I stay away from that.”
Twilight nodded and wrote down her response. “So… This is more a curiosity, I know that your mother was Queen Cornea, but who was your father?”
“My father was a Drone by the name of Papillitis. He worked alongside my mother while she tested out the teleportation gems.” Cytes replied. “From what she told me, they fell in love shortly after getting the crystal to be used as a Communication link, before they set them up throughout the Hive. Not long after, I was laid. Then later I hatched from my eggshell.”
“Now something I’ve been curious about…” Twilight said. “How do Princesses differ from the standard Drone?”
“Well, there isn’t too much difference. Slight Aesthetic changes such as the Royal Stripes and the ability to grow a natural mane. However the real change lies within our bodies, not just any Changeling can grow into a Queen. They must be either birthed from a Queen, or fed enough Emotion both as an embryo and a pupa to help it develop the strength and capacity needed to become a Queen.”
Twilight scribbled everything down. “Darkblaze mentioned that it was possible, but I was still curious about the reproductive cycle.”
“Well, the trouble really arises in the stages before birth, when the mother must gorge on the required emotion to ensure the child becomes a Queen. Often the loss of a Queen has enormous health complications for the next few Generations. The reason why we hold Princesses and Queens highly is for the purpose of keeping us from that fate. Hives have been nearly wiped out by this failing before, and I refuse to allow it to happen while I am Medical Queen.”
Twilight nodded. “I can completely understand. It sounds absolutely horrible to lose a leader and then have to handle all of those Changelings that are trying to scrounge up enough food to keep themselves alive…”
“It puts a strain on all of us.” Cytes sighed. “However we must not forget that the loss of a Hive is a devastating one. I have only heard tell of such a fate befalling the Hives, I hope to never live long enough to see one fall like that.”
Twilight sighed. “It would be like losing Celestia…”
Cytes nodded. “However, if she were to die, everyone would mourn. The Hives of Equestria have close ties to Celestia, were she to pass, then we would lose that connection.”
“I do have a question though, have any Hives died out that you know of?” Cytes suddenly stopped walking as Twilight continued on for a few more steps. She stopped and turned back to look at the Queen. “Queen Cytes?”
Cytes let out a sigh. “I choose not to answer that question.” She said with a deadpan. “I would prefer you not touch on that subject again.”
“Oh… Alright…”
A Caretaker flew to Cytes from a small tunnel. “My Queen, do you require something?”
“Yes… I do… Please contact Shadow Drone 4 in Canterlot. I need to speak with him. Tell him to meet me in my office. That is all.”
The Caretaker nodded and flew back into the Tunnel.
Cytes put her glasses back on. “Is there anything else you wish to ask me?”
Twilight looked over her notes. A large portion of her questions had been answered during either their walks, or the lengthy surgical test session. “Yes, what do you and your Changelings do for fun?”
Cytes looked over her glasses. “Fun?” She replied. “Well, I consider the simple gratification to be more than enough of a reward… Though, I am not really the public type…” Cytes sighed. “My job demands a lot, and as the Medical Queen, I must be ready at any time should my services be required.” She tapped her chin. “Though, if you truly wish to learn how my Changeling enjoy their time, then I suppose you can always go to Optometry Drone 43’s party tonight…”
Twilight looked up at Cytes. “Is that… safe? I mean I know that Changelings aren’t as bad as when Chrysalis attacked Canterlot but…”
Cytes rolled her eyes. “They will do nothing rash, a few may take a small nibble of emotion from you, but they will do nothing to harm you. It would go against their oath and against my own laws. But if you wish, I will put a Defender alongside you to ensure nopony does anything.”
Twilight shook her head. “No… It’s alright… I’m just… Well, getting used to everything still.”
“Understandable, though you have to remember something very important,” Cytes leaned in to Twilight. “I’m not Chrysalis. I am still Sapphire, the mare who helped you study Biology when you were but a Foal. I would not allow a single Changeling of mine to harm you.”
Twilight sighed. “Yeah… Sorry, I may be excited to learn about Changelings, but since I found out just what they can do…”
“Twilight, not a single Changeling Queen would dare use this offer to hurt you. Doing so would cause Celestia and the other Queens to take aggressive actions to ensure it will not occur again.” Cytes replied. “None of us would doom our Hives to such a fate.”
Twilight looked down at the ground beneath her hooves. “I… I’d love to see it.”
Cytes smiled. “I’m glad to hear it. Now is that all you wanted to ask me?”
Twilight looked over her notepad. The entire packet had been covered with notes and scribbles, short hand and cursive, every square inch was covered, on every side of each individual page. She pulled out her scroll of questions, each one already asked, all but a single question. “Who did you fall in love with?”
Cytes chuckled. “Well, that is for me and Princess Hemo to know, and her to disclose when she thinks it is necessary.” Cytes smiled and walked down the hall. “By the way, you should scratch out that question, most Queens will take that pretty poorly.”
Twilight looked down at the list and blushed, before taking her quill and scratching out the question. “So… How do I get to the party?”
Cytes continued to walk. “Well, first we should pick up Spike, I doubt he would be interested in the dusting tomes within my Throne Room.”
Twilight nodded, and Cytes’ horn lit up, in a flash of light, they were outside of Cytes’ Throne room, the Defenders outside remaining stoic throughout the entrance, which was rather impressive. They didn’t even flinch! Twilight remembered the first time Celestia teleported her into the Throne room, the two Guards on duty would always at the very least flinch from it, These guys must be good at this…
The two Guards lit up their horns and opened the door. Inside the Throne Room, Spike looked over at the Door, next to him was a Changeling that looked up at the door and smiled.
“Nursery Drone 34, I assume everything went well?”
“Oh, Spike was just an Angel,” 34 said. “He didn’t hurt any of the Nymphs and he was absolutely wonderful for the Foals.”
Spike walked up to Twilight. “They were so cute Twilight. They were just these small white squishy foals. Fluttershy would have loved to see them. They made this really cute sound that was kind of like a buzz and click… Not that I… Think they’re cute or anything.”
Twilight rolled her eyes and rubbed Spike’s head. “Sure you didn’t. After all, you’re a big, strong Dragon, you would never think anything was cute.”
Spike pushed the hoof away and puffed out his chest. “That’s right.”
Twilight giggled. “Well, would the big, strong Dragon like to go to a Changeling Party?”
Spike looked up at her. “Are you sure that is safe?”
“Oh, I’m sure it will be fine.” Twilight replied. “Queen Cytes said that none of them would try anything. Though, if you don’t want to I’m sure they would understand.”
“And miss a chance like this? Nah.” Spike replied. “Pinkie’s been dying to find out what a Changeling party is like; you know she and Surprise want to throw all of them a party.”
Twilight snickered. “Yes I remember. So where is this party going to take place?”
Nursery Drone 34 looked over at them. “Are you talking about O-P-D 48’s party?”
Twilight nodded. “You know it?”
The Drone smiled. “What drone doesn’t by this point? It’s been the talk of the Hive recently. Everypony has been waiting for it for weeks! It’s going to be held up in the Recreation Wing. I can show you if you want.”
Twilight smiled. “That would be great, thank you.”
Cytes looked at the two of them. “I should warn both of you, I know that Twilight is a grown Pony, however the drinks and food that will be served at this party will be fine, for Changelings. Should either of you ingest them, there could be negative effects. You will feel an overdrive in your emotional matrix before it burns itself out, leaving you unable to feel that emotion. I warn you now, ingesting a large quantity of it could permanently damage your mind, leaving you unable to feel that emotion permanently.”
Twilight looked at her shocked. “That… Could actually happen?”
Cytes nodded. “Be careful little pony, I do not want to explain to Celestia why her personal student is now a rather aggressive and blank intellect.”
Twilight nodded. “I’ll be careful.” She said. “So… Anything else I need to watch out for?”
“Nothing I cannot help reverse.” Cytes replied. “Remember, should you come across any form of food or drink that you are not familiar with, do not try it. Nursery Drone 34, I am entrusting you with this Mare’s life.”
34 bowed. “Thank you my queen. I will ensure nothing bad happens to her.”
Cytes nodded. “Now, enjoy yourself. I must return to my duties.” Her horn lit up as a stack of papers appeared in front of her. “I have to look over the recovery of those few patients left, and ensure that Bloodpool is docile. As well as keep my eye on Shade’s recovery.”
Twilight nodded and looked over at Spike. Spike raised the Camera and took a picture of Queen Cytes. “Thank you.”
Cytes smiled back at the two of them. “I do hope you enjoyed the day within my Hive, I await to hear how the others fared.”
Twilight smiled back. “I’ll be sending my report to Celestia once I’m done here.”
Nursery Drone 34 looked up at a clock and let out a small buzz. “Come on Miss Sparkle, we’re going to be late for the party! The Recreation wing is five floors above us!”
Twilight’s ears only caught one word of that sentence. “Late!” She grabbed Spike in her magic and plopped him down on her back before grabbing Drone 34 by the tail and dashing out of the room.
Cytes shook her head. “There’s the Twilight I remember…” She said with a small snicker. “Well, at least I can work now.”
Twilight was barreling down the halls, Spike gripping onto her mane in a desperate attempt to stay on her back. Nursery Drone 34 was just trying to keep her face off the ground as she was dragged through the Hive quickly.
“Miss Sparkle! I understand your fears of being late, but do you know where we are going?” 34 shouted over the galloping Unicorn.
“You said it was Five floors up!” Twilight said through the Changeling’s tail. “That’s where I’m going!”
“Twilight! Don’t you think we should let the Changeling lead us there?”
“We are going to be late if I slow down Spike.”
Both Spike and 34 sighed in disbelief. The Changeling buzzed her wings to pull herself off the ground, and in a wisp of blue flame, her tail vanished, she flew in front of Twilight and dug her Hooves into the ground. “Miss Sparkle, I insist you stop galloping inside the Hive. You passed the stairway already.”
Twilight dug her hooves into the ground and stopped herself, beginning to blush. “Sorry…”
Drone 34 sighed as she transformed her tail back. “We should be able to make it perfectly on time so long as we move at a brisk pace.”
Twilight nodded. “Lead the way.” She said as Drone 34 walked back from where Twilight pulled her. “So what is your name?”
“My name is Light Heart, I don’t get out of the Hive much… But I like it here, this is my home.” Light Heart walked over to a door and pushed it open, inside was a black staircase. The top and side of each step held small blue crystals in it, along with the blue fluorescents. “Just climb up here and we should be there in no time.”
Twilight looked over the stairway, then a question came to her. “Why do you have stairs?”
Light Heart looked back. “What do you mean?”
“Well, you can fly. Not only that, but Changelings can climb on walls, so why would you need to have stairs inside of the Hive?”
Light Heart nodded. “I can understand the confusion. However as I’m sure you can imagine, some Changelings prefer to stay on the ground, some don’t like flying around, causing traffic and such. However, we planned the Hive with Ponies in mind as well. You never know what kind of injuries a Changeling could get, and no idea whether ponies will need entrance to the Hive. It is better to be prepared.”
Twilight nodded. “Well, that makes sense…” She said taking steps up the crystal imbedded steps. “Why the crystals?”
“They glow in case the Emotional Lights fail, so ponies won’t fall and hurt themselves.”
Twilight looked at the crystals. “But what keeps these lit?”
“The Emotion in the air!” Heart replied. “Our hive is practically saturated with emotion; the Crystals are powered by it. So long as we live in the Hive, the crystals will always have power.”
“So you save on needing to gather energy…”
“By using our own emotions to power the gems.” She replied. “Now, just keep following me and we should make it just in time.”
Twilight nodded as she followed Heart through the stairway and subsequent hallways before making it to a section with the words ‘Recreation’ placed above the double doors. Passing by a few of the chambers, Twilight was surprised that they seemed rather empty, more like lounges than anything else.
“So Light Heart, what do you guys do for fun?” Twilight found herself asking.
“Oh, I know it doesn’t look like too much here, there aren’t very many of us that are restricted to the Hive, so often we only really need a lounge or two around the Hive wards. This is just the place to come when we need to relax away from patients.” She replied. “You always know it’s a rough day when Cytes herself comes around here. Usually she can take the stress, you know that the day must have been Tartarus if she is in here.”
“But… Why would they be having a party in here, it just looks like a bunch of lounges.”
“That’s because we haven’t gotten to the good part yet.” Heart replied. “It is just up here.”
Twilight looked back at Spike, who shrugged. They continued to follow Heart for a few minutes, looking as the Lounge rooms slowly changed, getting covered and having a few less pieces of furniture in them.
Twilight kept following until they came to a couple of large metal doors. “Here we are!” Heart said, walking up to one of the rooms. “And we should have gotten here with plenty of time to spare.” Heart pushed open the door. “Take a look.”
Twilight looked through the door and saw a number of Changelings flying around the room, putting up a few streamers in the large chamber, the size itself reminded Twilight of the Canterlot Castle’s Party Room, except this time… Hopefully it would stay intact…
Looking around the rest of the chamber, she saw a number of groups of Changelings standing around, a majority of them talking amongst themselves. A smaller group was placing various bowls of food and a strange looking bowl of blue gelatin. “Light Heart!”
“Deep Sleep!” Light Heart said, opening her hooves to give the drone a friendly hug. “How have you been? You’ve been in Winnyapolis for so long!”
Deep Sleep pulled Light Heart into a hug. “It’s great to see you again. I was kind of worried when I got called to Cytes’ office; I thought I was going to get chewed up for killing a patient or something! I was so relieved it was just about me coming to Vanhoover. Oh, hi Twilight. Didn’t see you there.”
“You two know each other?” Twilight asked looking between them.
“Sure do!” Sleep replied. “Me and Heart here have been best buds since Basic training!” She looked back at the Nursery Drone. “You still helping with those Nymphs?”
Heart nodded. “You still boring ponies to sleep?”
Sleep laughed. “Oh Cytes, I missed you. Guess it would have been weird for you not to show up.”
“Why’s that?” She asked curiously.
“Oh… I know how much you love parties.” Sleep looked back. “There’s the stallion of the hour!”
Another Changeling walked up to the group. “Glad to see you could make it Heart.” He said. “Wouldn’t be the same without you.”
“Well, I almost didn’t find out, everypony has been really quiet about it, I only found out a few days ago.”
“Well maybe if you spent less time with the Nymphs.” Sleep replied.
“It’s my job, Sleep.” Heart replied. “I can’t just abandon the Nymphs. Cytes will only give us time off if we have our own little bundles of joy.”
“Well, maybe you won’t have long to wait.” Sleep said with a smile, her ears perked up as she turned. “Well, I’ve got some old buddies to talk with, see ya later guys.”
“Optic, why was everypony being so secretive about this party?”
The Changeling next to her shrugged. “I’m just hoping everything goes well, I got Mya and Hypo to help with the decorations, so I can only hope that they…”
“You made sure Mya was the one putting the decorations up right?” Heart asked. “Because remember, she’s the one that…”
“This good, Mya?” A Changeling asked placing a streamer on the wall.
A slightly smaller Changeling squinted up at the other, “I… Can’t see, it’s too far away…”
“Well it’s too close for me up here.” The flying one replied. “Why am I the one up here?”
Optic sighed and shook his head. “I’ve got this…”
Twilight looked at the two Changelings. “What’s wrong with them?”
Heart sighed. “Mya and Hypo are sister and brother respectively, one is nearsighted, the other is farsighted. Take a guess which is which is which.”
Twilight looked at the two of them. “Mya, read this.”
“Uh…” The Changeling squinted. “I can’t, you’re too far.”
Optic sighed. “Hypo, you read it.”
Hypo squinted. “I… Can’t. You’re too close.”
Optic sighed. “Mya, you are supposed to place the decorations while Hypo tells you where they go. Speaking of which, where are your glasses?”
Both Changeling took out a pair of glasses and put them on. Optic looked at the two glasses and took them off, putting the opposite glasses on each one. “Huh… So that’s why we couldn’t see.” Mya said, adjusting her glasses. “I told you yours were the gray ones.”
Hypo looked over at her. “Then why didn’t you correct me?”
“Well, you were just so strung up about…” Mya blinked before turning back to look at Twilight, she blinked a few times before taking off her glasses and wiping them, before placing them back on and looking over Twilight. “Uh… Hypo, you didn’t happen to mess with my glasses did you?”
“No. Why would you ask?”
Mya pointed at Twilight. “Because I’m seeing a Pony…”
Hypo looked over and blinked, raising his glasses to the top of his head. “Huh…” He lowered his glasses. “Weird…”
Twilight waved at them. “Hello.”
“It just spoke to us.” Mya said. “Should we be worried?”
Heart rolled her eyes. “It’s alright. This is Twilight Sparkle. Cytes allowed her to come to the Hive.”
“Oh… Well nice to meet you!” Hypo said with a wave. “I’m Hypo, and this is my sister, Mya.”
“Hello!” Mya said. “I hope you enjoyed your stay. It would be terrible if you got a bad impression of us. When it’s the first time that… Oh… never mind…”
“Well, yes. It was a very bad impression, but I learned that only one hive is like that, so I will not judge you based on the invasion.”
“Well, that’s good. I was afraid you would put us all in a box and…”
“Mya, we need to do a bit more before this party can get into full swing, you can talk to Miss Sparkle later, come on.” Hypo said. “I’m sure she would love to talk later but we have things to do.”
“Oh right!” Mya said, buzzing her wings and flying up to the wall “Wow, we weren’t even close!” She said as she grabbed the streamer.
Hypo looked up. “A little to the left.”
Twilight watched as the two Changelings hurried to put up the rest of the decorations. She looked over the tables and chairs being pulled out, leaving a large space in the middle of the floor. She looked over at the table where the refreshments should have been to see a couple things she would eat normally. While a majority of it was multicolored gel and bottles of blue liquid, there were a few more pony foods placed there since she arrived.
Twilight walked around, talking to a few of the Changelings around, getting less surprised looks as the word of her visit spread quickly through the Hive. It wasn’t much longer that the room seemed to get filled with Changelings, all talking, laughing, a couple dancing, Twilight was surprised how pony-like the party was.
Spike had joined in at some point, and Twilight had been talking to one of the Changelings about the taste of emotions.
“Huh… I never really thought about it…” The Changeling replied, taking a bite of a cookie with bits of clear crystal inside it. “Well… The closest thing I can think of for our food is…” He tapped his chin. “The closest thing I can think of is… Vanilla Ice cream.”
“Huh…” Twilight replied, writing down his response. “Shade told me that Love tastes like Cotton Candy.”
“Every Hive is different.” The Changeling replied. “And every Changeling inside a Hive has different tastes.”
“Interesting…” Twilight replied, she looked over at the Dance floor, or rather the Dance-air. Where a number of Changelings were flying around each other in seemingly random ways. The music that was playing was similar to what Twilight expected if Vinyl was in charge of the music, up on a small raised platform was a purple-eyed Changeling, wearing headphones around his neck. “What hive is the DJ from?”
“Timbre? She’s from Tettix’s hive. There are quite a few of them around Equestria who follow the more club focused music types. Scat is a good DJ from… I think he’s in Los Pegasus… Could be wrong.”
Twilight nodded. “So out of curiosity, was there any reason why this party was created?”
The Changeling blinked. “There has to be a reason?” He replied. “Honestly we have these at least once a week, gives us a chance to throw off the stress. Sometimes we have a reason, though I’m not…”
“If I could have everypony’s attention.” Twilight looked over at the center of the room, where Optic was standing. “But… I have something I want to say.”
Twilight tried to look above the heads of some of the Changelings, and saw Light Heart standing there in the middle of the room with him. Optic turned to look at Light Heart. “Light Heart, we have known each other for a long time, you were there when I needed help, and every moment I spend in your presence makes me feel like the luckiest stallion in the world. I didn’t know it at first, but when we started dating one year ago, I knew that you were the mare for me.” He bent down on his front leg and one of his hind legs, a small black box levitating up in front of Light Heart.
Light Heart clasped her hooves over her mouth and looked at the box surprised, her eyes starting to fill with tears. “Optic…”
“Would you allow me the great pleasure, to call you my wife?” He opened the box to reveal a jet-black horn ring, small blue sapphires encrusted into it with a Diamond placed into the center of the ring.
Light Heart looked at the ring, tears welling up in her eyes. The room was deathly quiet as everypony waited for her response. She opened her mouth, before closing it, she looked down at Optic, her mouth opened again but no sound came out.
Light Heart looked at the box, and smiled, her horn lit up as her magic surrounded the box and closed it. She then wrapped her hooves around Optic and pulled him into a kiss. When they finally broke apart, Light Heart looked Optic in the eyes. “You just had to ask.” She said. “Of course. Of course you can call me your wife.”
Optic smiled and Twilight looked around the room as she noticed a few of the gems attached to the walls had transitioned from blue to a hot pink color. She wrote that down before looking over at the center of the floor again to see the new couple had gone back to enjoying each other’s company.
Even if Twilight wasn’t a Changeling, she could feel their love and the surrounding joy from the others. Deep Sleep managed to walk over to where Twilight was. “So, Miss Sparkle, didn’t think you would see a wedding proposal inside the Hive now did you?”
Twilight shook her head. “No I didn’t.”
Sleep looked over at the two of her oldest friends. “Those two have been a couple for a year and I was waiting for them to tie the knot. I’m happy for them. Light’s been wanting to have Nymphs for a while now.”
Sleep looked back towards Twilight. “So, mind if I ask when you plan to head out? It’s getting fairly late and I’m pretty sure Spike still needs sleep.”
“Really? What time is it?”
“Nearly ten.” Sleep replied. “And given that you are technically the ambassador to Changelings it would be bad for you to arrive one day and collapse from… Twilight?”
Twilight was looking at her shocked. “It’s already ten?”
“Uh-huh.” Sleep replied. “I know, kind of hard to tell down here, trust me, it’s about ten.”
Twilight’s horn lit up as she pulled a train schedule from her saddlebag. “The last train leaves at 10:15!” Twilight said, quickly looking around for Spike. She found him by the food table, grabbing another daisy Sandwich. “Sleep, can you take us to the exit?”
Sleep sighed. “Sure. Why not?” She said pushing herself off the table. “Get Spike and let’s get going.”
Twilight quickly pulled Spike over to her in her magic, grabbed her supplies and stuffed them into her bag. “Let’s go! I need to get home and write a report on the Hive before I go to sleep! I’m going to have to start it on the train if I want to get it done before midnight.”
Spike rolled his eyes. “Let’s focus on getting home first.”
Sleep shook her head as she ran Twilight out of the room and down the hall, stopping at the railing that stopped ponies from dropping to the ground below. She then ran down the halls of the Hive yet again, followed closely by Twilight, when they came to the blue gem, Sleep motioned to it. “There ya go.” She said, giving Twilight a pat. “Now I need to get back to the party, there’s a stallion who dared me to take shot of some Griffon whisky he bought, I’m gonna get some bits from him. You can find your way out hopefully.” Sleep said, flying out the door.
Twilight nodded as she put her hoof on the crystal and slammed her eyes shut until she was deposited on the floor of the Hospital. Once she was sure nothing was wrong, she dashed out of the basement and out of the hospital rushing towards the train station. She managed to get there just as the metallic train was coming to a stop.
Once onboard, she found a nice seat and sat down, before taking out all of her notes, samples, and a blank notebook. She opened the notebook and wrote down: Medical Hive Analysis.
Twilight began reading through her notes as Spike sat down across from her. “So Twilight, you think you can handle meeting the others?”
“Are you kidding Spike? This is amazing! I can’t wait to visit the next one.” Twilight said writing down everything on her notebook. “Who do you think we will visit next? I’m kind of hoping to visit this Queen Ovi, I have so many questions about Changeling Sexual urges she may be able to answer, or do you think we could visit Acari? Her Hive is really close to Ponyville after all. Perhaps it will be Pupa, I’ve been meaning to look into the Changeling military but I never…” She looked over at Spike, who had fallen asleep on the bench, his tongue hanging against his cheek as he snored.
Twilight giggled. “Well, I guess he really was tired after all.” She turned her attention back to her work.