• Published 27th Feb 2015
  • 18,783 Views, 1,090 Comments

I Come From a Land Down Under - Dropbear

From one barren wasteland to another, less barren wasteland, an Australian IT worker finds himself stuck in the snow where nowhere to go. At least it can't get any worse... right?

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All Thanks to a Cosmic Blunder

The early morning sun blazed down upon the small Australian Outback town, baking the bitumen to scorching levels. The morning rush was in full swing, cars criss-crossing the town of twenty-two thousand on the way to drop off children at school or to head to the numerous places of employment. Normally, a morning featuring clear blue skies and a glorious unobscured sun might be seen as a perfect start to the day, but there was just one issue.

It was already forty-three degrees Celsius, at six-fifty-nine AM.

The heat was a particular issue in one household, a simple ex-government dwelling with a ‘sold’ real estate sign still sitting out the front. Inside of the cream-coloured brick house, fans and the single swampy worked overtime to keep the temperature as low as they could, however it was a losing battle.

In one plain room at the end of the house, a cheap alarm clock’s LED display ticked over to seven o’clock.

Ungodly beeping shattered the morning calm, a figure in the coverless double bed jolting up with a start.

A lightly-tanned arm swatted the clock blindly, knocking it from the small set of bedside draws. It didn’t reach the floor, the fall halted by its power cord going taut. Instead it banged against the side of the wooden draws, the alarm dying out as two sweat-covered legs swung out over the side of the bed.

“Fuck me,” the owner of said legs grumbled, running a scarred hand through his messy brown hair. “Perfect weather for a trip to bloody Tennant Creek.”

The bed creaked and groaned as Daniel Green, a perfect specimen of a twenty year-old computer technician, relieved it of his sizable bulk. Scratching the hole-ridden black briefs that he wore, he stumbled over towards the wardrobe while simultaneously shielding his cold-blue eyes from the sun. The white door was slid open to reveal its treasures, Daniel’s hand skipping the neatly arranged Iron Maiden, Metallica and Korn band shirts hanging on hangers to head straight for a brown-and-yellow vertically-striped button-up business shirt.

Withdrawing it, along with a carefully ironed pair of black dress jeans, he made a final trip to the underwear drawer before stumbling out of his room. With clothes in hand he made the short journey down the hallway, passing the remaining two bedrooms and entering the tiny shared bathroom.

Only to find a dirty set of boxers sprayed haphazardly on the tiled floor.

“Really Nick?” He sighed and sidestepped past them, shutting the door and locking it behind him. The clothing he was planning to wear to work was hung up on the towel rack, and the shower taps soon were turned to enable the ice-cold water to flow out.

Stepping into the shower-bath, he dunked his head under the water stream and immediately was slammed into full wakefulness. He had no time to enjoy the relief though, he had a wonderful five-hundred kilometre drive to complete before two and needed to get going. After the shower was turned off, he dried himself with the only towel in the bathroom that was actually were it was supposed to be on the towel rack. What followed after that was the more difficult part of the morning.

“Come on,” Daniel strained, his… ‘generous’ waistline resisting his attempts to do up his pants. “I swear to buggery!” A sudden burst of strength and the button slipped through the hole, a sigh of relief followed by the sound of a zipper. “I should cut down on the pasta,” he muttered, patting himself on the belly before donning his shirt and buttoning it up.

Turning to the mirror, he ensured that he didn’t need to shave and then placed his glasses upon his nose. One quick comb later and he was all ready to leave the bathroom, having spent no more than five minutes.

Great, that left a generous twenty-five minutes before he needed to depart.

“What a stupid cow.”

Daniel, nursing a cup of tea while simultaneously reading the local paper and putting on his forty dollar Kmart work shoes, scoffed.

“’Reducing the speed limit in the CBD to ten kilometres an hour will prevent any accidents’. Yeah, because twenty kilometres is just completely unsafe, I’m sure ten kilometres will prevent all the drunks being hit by people talking on their phones while driving”

Flinging the paper shut, he drained his tea and pulled out the ipod-touch he kept in his chest pocket. A reminder to bring the work laptop on his three day trip was quickly dismissed, and he glanced at the time.

Seven-Thirty-One am.

“Shit.” Leaving the empty cup on the table, Daniel stood up from the cheap chair and grabbed his wallet. It went into his back pocket, followed by three pens, a pencil, half a box of peppermint tic-tacs, and a spare 3 metre Cat5 Ethernet cable.

Because nothing sucked more for an IT tech than not having a network cable when needed.

The portable tool set was the last thing he grabbed, before he raced out of the front door and into the heat of the day.

Thankfully his car was only a few metres away and under the shade, the white 2007 Toyota Corolla Conquest hopefully not about to cook if he entered it. Unlocking the door and ducking inside, Daniel was thankful that the steering wheel wasn’t hot enough to sear his hands.

Unlike the previous afternoon.

“Bloody winter,” he cursed, fumbling with the key and inserting it. “What I’d give for just one day of cooler weather…”

Pausing to secure the tool set carefully on the passenger seat, remembering the last time when he had braked hard because of an idiot driver, he turned back to the wheel and commenced a final check of the time on his ipod.

‘Eh, I guess I can late by five minutes just this once.’

Shrugging at the thought, he turned the key and started the car up.

The post-market sound-system hadn’t even powered on before a blindingly white flash filled his vision.

“The fu-“


It took his mind a few moments to process what had just occurred.

A chill wind ruffled his short-sleeved shirt, a light dusting of snow blew softly into his hair, and most importantly of all he was standing in a desolate, snowy landscape and not sitting in his car listening to the soothing sound of early morning metal.

Slowly, Daniel turned his head from side to side, trying to make sense of the situation. It appeared that, somehow, starting his car had transported him from one barren wasteland to another.

Except this one seemed slightly safer.

‘This is impossible,’ he thought while trying to think of an explanation for his situation. ‘Does God actually exist and is more Old Testament than New? Did Ronnie drug the miso soup last night?’ It was then that he came to a chilling conclusion.

“Oh no,” he winced. “Please tell me it’s not like the ‘Toyota brake recall’ all over again.” Shaking the though off immediately after, he spent five minutes searching in vain for any sign of civilisation. With any luck, he’d be somewhere nice like Canada, but considering his method of arrival he doubted that even they would be able to help him.

Closing his eyes, he took a calming breath when the winds picked up and the snowfall slowly became heavier. Bending down to retrieve the tool set from the snow beside him, he finally reached into his right pocket to withdraw his cheap HTC smartphone.

“Yep,” he muttered. “No signal.”

Triple zero was tried anyway, and when that didn’t work he scrolled through his contacts to find the international emergency number that his first-aid instructor had told them. One-hundred and twelve also yielded no result, not even when tried three times.

“Great, just great.” He hadn’t even brought any water with him, having expected to be at a servo filling up before his trip.

Daniel knew that he was in a lot of trouble. One does not easily go from being semi-knowledgeable about survival in the harsh Outback to knowing how to stay alive in snowy conditions, but he wasn’t stupid.

With the deteriorating weather, the ideal method of staying in the one spot and waiting for help was out. Likewise, he doubted that any helicopters or planes would be flying around nearby so a signal was out of the question. The primary concerns would be shelter, warmth, water and food. Currently he was lacking three out of the four.

‘Heh, see, this is why being fat has perks.’

Fat or not, his chances of living through the night were not high, so Daniel decided on the best way to go about things. His eyes rested on a mountain to the left of him, and he knew that a mountain meant a high chance of a cave. Given the barrenness of the surrounds, he doubted that any animal would be able to survive and thus occupy said cave. Also, the peak would provide a good chance for a mobile signal, so that was another point in its favour. Before beginning the trip which had a high chance of killing him, he did a final check of his belongings.

He had the clothes on his back, a cheap smartphone, an ipod with two years of IT notes and photos of server rooms on it, a toolset with screwdrivers and pliers, and a single three-metre Ethernet cable, blue.

Daniel was confident that he would be able to survive the hostile environment.

He was Australian after all.

‘Brrr, looks like it’ll be another rough storm.’

Even in his heavy chitin armour, Burrow shivered when the chill wind blew in through the cave entrance. Their group of stragglers, left-over from the failed Canterlot invasion two days ago, numbered at fifty-three and he still had been assigned to watch the entrance for the second day in a row. He had started to get the feeling that Sergeant Piller had it out for him, the highest-ranked soldier in their group unfortunately having landed in the same place as he had.

Looking down at his left side, he winced at the massive dent in his dirty blue armour. Fortunately, he’d escaped with only a few bruises, unlike the unlucky majority that were currently being treated by the six nurses deeper into the cave. Moving over towards the flat rock that had served as his trusty seat, he rubbed it down with his forehooves in an attempt to take the edge off it. Sitting down, he shivered when his rear touched the cold rock.

‘Curse this cold. Stupid Pillar, picking me instead of Aphid again.’ Burrow continued to silently grumble, not even bothering to check the entrance like he was meant to. ‘Stupid scholars, thinking that us soldiers wouldn’t know what to do without them. At least the nurses and drones don’t constantly complain about only having three soldiers to do all of the dangerous work!’

In truth, he was still perplexed as to why Chrysalis had ordered almost every changeling to participate in the invasion; however it wasn’t like the Queen was ever going to explain her plans to a lowly soldier hatched by insignificant parents. The small amount of nurses had been brought along as medics, the scholars to decipher the Equestrian’s magical knowledge and technology, and the drones were brought along to provide numbers. He was okay with sharing the cave system with the drones and nurses, but the scholars were another matter.

‘Pompous idiots, didn’t even know how to treat a chitin crack.’

He frowned, still remembering when the lead researcher called him a ‘dullard soldier’ in front of the drones and nurses. It didn’t help that Transmutation was the highest changeling in their group, making him the leader.

Outside, the snowstorm picked up in intensity, and reluctantly Burrow left his seat to escape the chill. Moving away from the doorway, he trotted around and searched for a new spot away from the entrance.

“Grrag ba ghraa! Grrag ba ghraa!”

Burrow froze, the unnatural growls barely audible over the harsh winds.

But they were definitely getting closer.

“Grrag ba ghraa!”

Spinning around, Burrow took a frightened step back. Whatever it was, it sounded big and pissed off. That was not something that he wanted to deal with.

He glanced back towards the tunnel leading into the depths of the caves, the unsuspecting ones within ripe for the picking for any snow monster. Looking back, he gulped and stopped his retreat.

Lowering his head so that his long horn was pointed straight towards the entrance, he shivered as the growls approached ever closer.

This time it wasn’t just from the cold.

“Fuck this snow! Fuck this snow!”

Suffice to say, Daniel was not a happy little vegemite. Despite his ample (although manly) body fat, the cold was taking its toll. His teeth chattered as he trudged through the heavy snow towards the cave that promised salvation, the rage at the cold weather keeping him going.

“Fuck this snow!”

A final curse and he had done it. Daniel had reached the cave mouth. Stumbling inside, he shook the majority of the snow off of himself before placing the tool set on the ground. Hands went to his knees, and he doubled over while huffing and puffing.


He jolted upright, going straight for the tool set. Quickly snapping open the plastic latch, he withdrew the largest Philips head screwdriver he had. Waving it around in the dark, he strained his eyes and attempted to see through the gloom. “I swear, even if you’re a bloody polar bear I don’t care! I’m not leaving this cave!”

Another buzzing sound followed by a hiss was the response, so he fumbled around with frozen fingers and pulled out his ipod. Shaking the snow off of it, he managed to switch the LED light on after three shaky tries. Aiming it at the source of the buzzing and hissing, he froze when the light revealed its form.

What he could only describe as an insect crossed with a small horse was shielding its eyes from the bright light, the creature chattering with obvious anger. Thin wings on its back buzzed momentarily, and it stepped back on hole-riddled hooves. The creature came up to his waist if he was judging correctly, but one look at the fangs and horn it had convinced him to not discount it as a threat.

“The hell?” He had noticed possibly the most concerning thing about the animal he was waving a screwdriver at. It wasn’t the fangs, the horn, or the fact that he knew that nothing like it was supposed to exist on Earth.

No, it was the fact that it was wearing a simple helmet that looked like blue shell, and a covering on its back that seemed to be made of the same material.

‘An alien?’ he wondered, keeping the screwdriver held out although he lowered the light. ‘Then again, it’s not like I’m really where I should be. This is insane!’

While perplexed and, even though he wouldn’t admit it to a soul, frightened at the many differing possibilities to explain his situation, Daniel knew that standing around and lamenting his situation wasn’t the greatest idea. The bug-horse in front of him was still standing like it was about to charge, but it had raised its head so that the horn was no longer pointing towards his groin. It chattered again, tilting its head and examining him with its solid blue eyes.

Slowly, he lowered the Philips head but continued to watch the being closely. In return, the bug relaxed its stance and took a step forward, before looking up at him and chattering again. Not knowing what to do, he carefully placed the screwdriver on top of the tool set’s lid, the creature’s eyes following his every action. When the makeshift weapon was out of his hand, the bug continued to carefully approach.

The curious expression, or at least that’s what he assumed, helped to calm his nerves. The bug must have realised that he was just as confused as it was, the creature stopping a metre away and giving him another look-over. It chattered again under its breath, before it stretched out a foreleg and tapped him on the knee.

“So, I take it that we’re not going to try and kill each other over a cave?”

In reply, the creature stopped its investigation of his snow-drenched jeans and frowned at him, more chatters leaving its sharp-toothed mouth.

“Yeah, I know,” Daniel sighed while it began to prod his shoe instead. “I wish you could speak English as well.”

Burrow snarled when the snow monster stomped into the cave, although underneath the façade he was secretly terrified of the two-legged newcomer. Changelings relied on mass numbers for a reason, and he doubted that he could hold off an angry monster that likely wanted its cave back. The thing dropped something on the ground and hunched over, Burrow steadying himself and preparing for an attack.

“Stay back!”

At his shouted command, a series of very strange events unfolded. Firstly, the creature jolted and appeared to panic, a foreleg tipped with a minotaur-like hand reaching down for the box-thing it had dropped on the cave floor. Then, after snapping open some kind of latch, it withdrew a long, pointed object with a bright-green grip. The monster then proceeded to wave the pointed object around in front of it, incredibly small eyes darting around widely.

“I mean it!” he hissed at the end for good measure.

Then, the monster fumbled around on its chest and held something else towards him with the other hand.

A blinding light burned his eyes, Burrow shielding them with a foreleg while the hardened milky shells that served as eyelids closed in order to prevent any damage. He panicked and took a step back, unable to see the attack that was no doubt incoming.

No such assault came. Instead the monster uttered hushed, guttural speech and the light was removed. Blinking open his eyes, Burrow saw that the monster had lowered the light-device and was staring at him. The pointed object was still held in his direction, but now it seemed to be more like a precaution than an attempt to harm. Weighing up his options, he decided that if indeed they were trespassing in this creature’s cave then he could at least try and be a little understanding.

He lifted his head up so his horn was no longer aiming at the monster, a gesture that seemed to convey an understandable message to the intruder.

Burrow took a step forward, his eyes darting to the piece of metal in the creature’s hand. “Can you put… whatever that is down? I’m not going to hurt you.”

The biped glanced at the weapon, before lowering down onto the top of the same box that it had withdrawn it from. It steadily stood back up to full height, Burrow still not wanting to fight it even without whatever it had been wielding before. He advanced closer, taking care to not make any aggressive moves. Stopping barely a body length away, he examined the creature and came to a startling conclusion.

It was wearing clothing, something that Equestrians occasionally wore. Also, now that he was closer, he could see that the box was in fact some type of chest with a see-through lid constructed from a mysterious material. Inside he caught a glimpse of dangerous looking implements, and he suppressed a shudder whilst silently thanking that the creature did not seem intent on using them.

Going off the fact that it was wearing clothes, seemed capable of reason, and possessed eyes that held the light of intelligence, Burrow guessed that it was not some simple beast. Rather, it was a creature that belonged to a race unknown to changelings. Or rather it was at least unknown to him, he’d bet his horn that the scholars would be very eager to examine it.

“Just what are you, an alien?” he muttered taking another look at the being’s face. Now that he was closer, he could see that his previous assumption that it was a snow monster was false. There was no coarse hair to keep it warm, only a curly, drenched, and brown mane. It lacked chitin and instead seemed to be covered with a mostly-hairless substance, pale-white in colouration although he guessed that the cold had something to do with the lack of colour. Now that he was thinking more clearly, the creature looked really out of place. Instead of owning this cave, was it also lost and seeking shelter from the harsh snow plains outside?

Reaching out a hoof, he gently prodded the creature’s knee, at least what he though was a knee. Since hooves were hard, he instead used his foreleg to touch the material and found it to be very strange indeed.

He looked up again when the creature tried to speak, the being acting as if it was directing a question towards him.

“Um… no?”

Burrow hoped that his guess was right. ‘Oh, what am I thinking? We obviously don’t speak the same language.’

The creature replied with a longer string of meaningless words, Burrow too busy examining the strange and shiny black feet. Looking back up, he noticed the creature shiver when it brushed a clump of snow off of its shoulder. Glancing around, he knew that he couldn’t take it back into the cave lest the others try and kick it out. Despite the initial confrontation, it didn’t appear to mean any harm.

“Ah, over here!” Galloping over to a corner, he pointed with a hoof towards a flat surface of rock. “It’s not a fire or anything, but it’ll keep you out of the chill.” Hoping that hoof and head gestures would be enough to communicate the point, he added a smile as a bonus. At first the biped looked merely disturbed, but soon walked over to examine the offered spot. It glanced again at him before looking around the cave, Burrow tapping on the ground to try and convince it that it was a good idea.

Evidently it was enough, the creature sitting down and placing the box of murderous implements next to it. Burrow cast a final glance towards the tunnel leading deeper into the caves. “Good, okay, you stay here and get warmer while I stay on watch. If anyone, especially those scholars, try to force you out then I’ll stop them.” He returned to his own rock, sitting down and leaning up against the wall. “Hey, at least now I have some company, even if we can’t really talk to each other.” He tapped his forehooves on the rock, asking the first question on his mind.

“Say, sorry if this is offensive, but are you a male or a female?”

Daniel tried to rub some warmth back into his limbs, grumbling to himself as the bug-horse continued to chatter away from its own seat. ‘I know I wished for it to be cooler, but this is just too far. Now I’m stuck in a cave, freezing my arse off, and the first intelligent lifeform I meet wants to beat the cold by talking me to death.’ Turning his head, he rolled his eyes at the creature. “Look, I appreciate the talk, but you know that it’s pointless though and… and now I’m doing it. Perfect.”

Bug-Horse nodded and chattered merrily, only providing another example of the communication issues. It seemed to be rather pleased with his presence now, not that he was really an expert on alien bug-horse facial expressions.

Highschool IT didn’t cover that one.

Another chatter from Bug-Horse bought up a more pressing concern than not being able to verbally communicate.

Thanks to his long and arduous journey to get to the cave, his less-than-impressive man-girth, and the fact that he still hadn’t had his usual morning coffee, the lull of sleep was calling to him with increasing temptation. Knowing that falling asleep while being watched by an unknown creature was an unwise move, he tried to keep his mind off things by thinking about how one could route an Adobe Cloud product through multiple firewalls.

He was fast asleep the next minute.

“…and then Shutter told Trans about it, and you should have seen the look on her fac- oh.”

Burrow stopped talking when he realised that his companion was no longer listening, the strange head resting on a shoulder and the fat stomach rising and falling in time with the breathing.

Obviously the spot had worked, Burrow pleased that he had made a new friend and helped out a lost creature all in one go. Already some colour was returning to the outside of it, Burrow shivering on his own seat when another gust blew by him thanks to the storm outside.

Eying the sleeping creature, he realised that the spot it was in did look far warmer than his own.
Glancing to the entrance once more, he decided that it couldn’t hurt to move to a warmer place.

After all, a cold soldier on guard duty was an inattentive soldier on guard duty.

“Don’t mind me,” he muttered, sitting down next to the sleeping creature. “I’m just going to sit here for a moment.”

It was pretty relaxing, and over the next ten minutes he did feel a little warmer. Glancing over at his friend, he smiled at the silly grin on its face.

It was then that the fin on the back of his head quivered, Burrow’s eyes widening in surprise. He felt a small amount of affection coming from the biped, not directed at anything in particular but rather leaking out. Tilting his head, he tried to figure it out. Even stranger was the fact that it contained an undercurrent of lust, but how was that possible during sleep.

Burrow fidgeted on his spot, trying to ignore the trickle of energy. Whatever the magical force that had expelled them from Equestria had been, it had also almost drained him completely dry of energy. Two days later and the need to feed had grown, now the arrival of the creature and the revelation that it could provide affection fit to feed on provided a most tempting situation.

‘No, it’s wrong,’ he tried to look away. ‘It’s asleep and trusts you.’ His mind recalled just what the plans had been if they had succeeded in their invasion, the Equestrians enslaved as a source of nourishment for life and workers. He had, and was, still willing to do that if it meant the prosperity of his Hive. ‘But this is different,’ he reasoned while he fidgeted with his forelegs. ‘It’s lost just like we are.’ His attempts to not betray its trust were ruined when his stomach growled, Burrow glancing back towards the oblivious target. ‘Well, maybe just a really small snack, but only one.’

His mind made up, Burrow edged closer until he was touching the biped on its foreleg. As soon as he did, the energy stopped leaking and instead flowed to him. Burrow buzzed with content, thankful that fate had looked down on him that day. Taking his fill, the tide of emotion never seeming to ebb, he realised that it had a subtly different taste than what he was used to. There also seemed to be very limited magic power in it, in fact it was almost devoid of it. Still, it was a filling meal and that’s all he was really after.

Unfortunately there was a side effect. With the energy came warmth, and with warmth came drowsiness. Even though it was against the rules, he reached up with both hooves and removed his helmet. It was placed down in front of him on the rocky floor, although his main armour stayed on. Yawing, Burrow lost focus on watching the cave entrance and instead rested his head against the softest thing available.

The creature’s shoulder was surprisingly comfortable, even if the fabric covering it was still a little damp. Knowing that it would be a huge embarrassment if he was caught sleeping on the job by his fellows, he focused more on the tunnel leading into the inner cave rather than the doorway he was supposed to watch. In addition, they’d probably just see him as hording a source of food for himself, even if it wasn’t like that at all. That would certainly cause trouble, both for him and his friend.

‘This can only end badly,’ was the last thing he thought before sleep came to claim him. His eyes closed and he toppled over further against being he was resting on, the snowstorm outside picking up with no sign of dying down.


Aphid, a simple soldier serving Hive Chrysalis, entered the small entrance cave from the tunnel and looked around. “Burrow, Pillar wanted me to take over from you for the night.” She waited for a response, and when none came she lowered herself to the ground and slinked forwards. Limping slightly thanks to sealed crack in the chitin on her right hind leg, her eyes scanned the gloom. Living underground and in dark places had given changelings excellent night vision, and it wasn’t long before she identified the soldier she had come to relieve.

Unfortunately, he was resting up against a large creature that she had never seen or even heard about before.

It was like a furless minotaur, or at least that was the closest thing she could think of to describe it. A strange box was clutched to its chest, grey with a white top. The creature was wearing some type of clothing and its feet were some of the weirdest she’d ever seen, shiny, long, and black things with what appeared to be little bits of black thread criss-crossing the middle.

Burrow was snoring peacefully, curled up against the monster’s side with a smile on his face.

It took a few minutes for her to get over the shock of finding out that her comrade had not only let an unknown creature into their caves, but had also decided to fall asleep next to it. Aphid didn’t know what to do, glancing to the creature and then Burrow.

Whatever it was, it looked big and mean, massive shoulders and a large gut a likely sign that it didn’t have a lot of problems with securing food. Hopefully it didn’t like dining on changelings. Even if it was wearing clothes and appeared to be a civilised creature, she couldn’t afford to take any chances.

Unlike Burrow it seemed.

Creeping around softly, she reached out a hoof and shook Burrow’s side.

“Huhza?” Burrow muttered, opening drowsy eyes to look at her. She gave him a few seconds to wake up.

And wake up he did.

“Aphid!” he winced, glancing towards the creature he was against. It continued to slumber, Burrow sheepishly scooting away from it before refocusing on her. “Look, I can explain.”

“I doubt that!” she hissed back. “You’ve let in a monster! What if it decides to snack on a few changelings when it gets hungry!?”

“He isn’t like that!” Burrow whispered back, frowning at her. “Mr Growls is nice, he’s just lost like we are!”

“Mr Growls?” she couldn’t believe this. “That’s its name, is it even male?”

Burrow began to fidget. “Well, I don’t really know. He looks like a male, and he can’t speak out language.”

“Did you try Equestrian?”

“No,” Burrow admitted. “But it won’t make a difference, I think he’s from very far away.” He looked up at her. “Please Aphid, he’s my friend. He won’t hurt anyone, and I promise to take care of him and keep him out of trouble. He’s nice, see? He was just scared at first, that was all.”

‘I can’t believe that he’s done this,’ she mentally sighed, before shaking her head.

“No, Burrow. This thin- Mr Growls, is too much of a risk. Besides, we can barely feed ourselves let alone a solid food eater.” At her words, Burrow brightened. She watched on in confusion as Burrow moved back towards the sleeping being and gently held out one of its forelegs out to her with pride on his face.

“Aphid, come and touch him, he’s still leaking out enough love to feed plenty!”

He received a flat look in response.

“Ew. I may be a soldier class but even I have standards. Still, ah… good for you?”

“I’m surprised you’re not an infiltrator, considering that was your first thought.” Aphid took a step back in surprise, the venom in Burrow’s voice taking her off guard. “No, I mean that when he’s sleeping, Mr Growls is letting out love. If you touch his foreleg then you can feed off of it.”

“No way,” she tilted her head. “That’s impossible, love is either directed at you or you drain it, it doesn’t just ‘leak out’.”

“It’s true,” he pressed on. “Step closer and you’ll feel it.”

Hesitantly, she approached closer. Only a body length away, her head-fin began to quiver and her eyes widened. ‘Wow, he’s actually telling the truth!’

“See?” Burrow grinned. “If you’re hungry, and don’t mind ‘leaked love’, then go on and touch his foreleg to get some. It’s different and it won’t recharge your magic very well, but it’s good to eat.”

Aphid reached out her leg but stopped short, wavering as she eyed the creature she was about to feed off. “Are you sure? What if he wakes up and attacks?”

“Then I’ll tell him that you’re not to be attacked, and that’s even if he does attack you.”

“But should we be hogging it for ourselves, what about the others?”

Burrow frowned, glancing down the tunnel. “We’ll… work that out after Mr Growls wakes up. Then we can ask him if it’s all right, but we’ll have to make sure that we let him recover after each feeding.”

“About that, will this harm him?”

“No, it shouldn’t. I mean, it’s only a small amount, right?”

“He is much bigger than a pony,” Aphid began to agree. “That means more love, right?”

“I guess?” Burrow answered, before gesturing again. “Go on and just give it a small try.”

Reaching out the rest of the way, she shuddered when her hoof made contact with the strange substance of the bare foreleg. Burrow was right, a trickle of love beginning to flow into her. It soon grew in amount, and while it tasted weird it did indeed do the trick. Breaking the contact after taking enough, she stared at the creature, then her hoof, and then the proud Burrow. “That’s amazing!”

“I know, right?”

Aphid glanced behind her, making sure none of the others could overhear them. “Should we really be hiding him? I don’t object to a secret food stash, but some of the injured drones could really use this more than us.”

Burrow frowned, clutching Mr Growls’ foreleg protectively. “I don’t know, he’s my friend and I don’t want to just… to just share him around with everyone.”

Aphid had to restrain herself from making another sex joke.

“Burrow, relax,” she reassured while taking a seat away from them both. “I’m sure the scholars will go easy on him.”

“Yeah, right,” Burrow grumbled, settling back down next to Mr Growls. “They’ll probably try and do horrible experiments on him.”

She shook her head, but didn’t attempt to defend the four scholars that were leading their group to safety.

After all, she wouldn’t put it past them.

Author's Note:

Totally a self-insert Totally not a self-insert.

I'm so sorry, to all of you.

It had to be done, it's a Fimfiction HIE rite of passage.

Feel free to point out any errors or suggestions, I'm ready for them.