• Published 7th Apr 2016
  • 3,195 Views, 64 Comments

A Day In The Hives - Shaded Changeling



Celestia wants to learn more about the Hives within Equestria, but since she has a country to run, the Hive Queens allow her student to spend a day within each Hive, and see a single day in the lives of a Queen.

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Joyous Hive: Part 1

It was quite the shock when Twilight returned to Ponyville and Pinkie had actually given her a letter, one that she claimed came from the Queen of the Joyous Hive, Eupha. Which seemed incredibly difficult to believe as from what she found out, Eupha vanished and none of the other Hives managed to find her. So while her internal cogs worked on that, she walked back to the Library to try and copy everything from the Artist Hive into her Master copy.

She tried to put the letter out of her mind until she was done copying down all of the information. But her curiosity mounted: How did Pinkie get a hold of this letter? Why didn’t she know there was another Queen? Why didn’t Celestia just send the letter? These questions eventually wore down her concentration as she put a bookmark into both of the notebooks and put them down. She then walked over to the letter and picked it up, opening the envelope to a loud bang of confetti.

Twilight gave a sharp gasp in surprise. After being startled, she let out a small sigh and shook her head. Taking the letter out and flipping it open, after cleaning off the strings of confetti from the letter, she began reading.

Dear Twilight Sparkle,

I hope that this letter finds you well, I am writing to inform you that due to the recent events concerning my fellow Queens, I have decided to partake in this excellent chance to show the best that our species can offer. I hope that soon our two species may be able to cooperate openly without the fear that has persisted over us.

If you wish to accept my offer, I will gladly see you in one week’s time. I am quite a busy mare, and require a little time to clear up my schedule. However, as I personally have a streak of keeping my Hive’s destination off of any maps. I will tell you that the Hive is located near the border of the Badlands.

If you would like for me to send an escort for you at the train station, merely send a letter to my secretary, Invoice, at 45 Chestnut Street in Manehatten. She will get back to me.

Enclosed within the envelope is another letter, this letter will inform you of a few important objects I would like for you to bring.

I hope to hear from you soon.

~ Queen Eupha of the Joyous Hive

Twilight was pleasantly surprised to see it was done officially. All of the grammar was correct, the wording made sense, when she heard about Eupha, she was expecting Pinkie Pie’s writing style, so this was a good sign.

As she looked back into the envelope, she pulled out a second letter, opening it to begin reading it.
Twilight,

If you are reading this, then chances are you have accepted my invitation. On this letter is a list of objects that are deemed necessary or unsafe for you to bring. As I am well aware through the use of Shadow Drones, you have been bringing a young Dragon with you. While normally I would tell you the dangers of bringing young Spike into my Hive, you may bring him if you deem it fit. However I advise you against bringing anything that could create a flame, as such, I advise you inform Spike of this. Do not bring anything that creates loud noises, we have plenty of those here already, and I would prefer for our engineers to remain focused.

I recommend you bring earplugs or keep some kind of sound cancelation spell at the ready. If you do not have any, they will be provided when we move to the production and testing areas. I will answer any questions I can for you.

Hope to see you there.

Twilight read through the letters, still trying to figure out if these really were written by the Queen, as far as she could see they certainly were. They were written professionally and without even the smallest hint of trying to put a joke into the letters. It was rather interesting…

Twilight certainly did want to bring Spike, though the fact that it is in the Badlands makes it slightly less pleasurable for the Dragon. Though the Changelings had been living there for however long, so it may not be that bad…

Twilight looked through the list, she definitely had a silencing spell… Though it was only a bubble that blocked out all sound around it. It may not be a bad idea to study up on a couple of sound dampening spells…

But before she could decide to go and grab a few books to read through for sound dampening charms, she decided it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get an escort for her time to the Hive, and she needed to get a hold of a train map to be able to get there as soon as possible. She quickly wrote up a mental list and put the letters back in the envelope, walking down to the ground floor and beginning to look through the ‘Maps and Atlases’ section and began to look through for a map of the train system throughout Equestria. When she found it, she picked up the map and walked over to the magic books, pulling out Wavelength’s ‘Compendium of Sound Spells’ before walking back upstairs and opening both of them.


Twilight spent a few days looking through those books and over the map, plotting out the most efficient course using the trains, learning a dampening spell, and planning out a new set of questions for the Queen. She had figured out that the most efficient way to travel to the Badlands would be heading to Canterlot, and then taking a train that ran through the southeastern side of Equestria. It wasn’t a quick trip; the edge of the Badlands was the end of the line.

According to Eupha, and the maps that Twilight looked at, the city they were going to was a small village community just outside the Badlands, an area in between Equestria and the Minotaur Republic that was essentially a wasteland and had no current inhabitants.

Twilight had spent plenty of time making the new question set, as well as spending plenty of time trying to work out what was going to happen, trying to work out what to expect. From the letters, it seemed like Eupha was more professional than all the Queens she had met with, but there were stories that Haze and Blackout told her that said she was nothing like that. In fact, they told her she was more like Pinkie than anything else. If that was true, and she was the queen, Twilight would probably have to consider enlisting Blackout’s help again. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that though.

By the time that the day of her visit had arrived, Twilight had nearly her entire visit planned out based on the previous visits to other Hives. She had sent a request for an escort to the Hive, since she wasn’t sure what kind of security measures the Hive would have incorporated and it would be better to have somepony that knew where they were going. It also gave her time to learn what she got herself into before meeting the Queen.

As was expected, Spike wasn’t too happy to be pulled along on this adventure, but he was thankful that he had more than a week’s notice this time. He was glad to help Twilight, but the constant traveling sometimes wore down on him. Hopefully this would be the last one for a while, since Twilight wanted to get a chance to sort through the data before adding the last three hives.

Twilight looked up from her notepad to see the lush grass slowly dying, turning to a dried yellow, the trees became either smaller or more twisted, until showing merely the corpses of the trees as the terrain became harder and covered in cracks. Looking out the window, she saw the tall rocky pillars that symbolized the edge of the Badlands. She sighed and closed the window, the heat already beginning to build within the cabin.

“So, do you have any idea what we are getting ourselves into?” Spike asked, reading one of his Power Ponies Comics. “I know that you got some letters, but they have been wrong before.”

Twilight sighed. ”I’m not sure, Spike. I’ve heard she’s unpredictable, but the letters were written by what seemed like a professional businesspony. I’ve been getting conflicting information…”

Spike shrugged. “Maybe it’s her daughter.”

“Her daughter with the same name?” Twilight asked sarcastically.

Spike shrugged again. “Do you have any better ideas?”

Twilight shook her head. “I don’t know, Spike…”

Spike sighed and raised his comic book. “Whatever… This is your report after all.”

Twilight sighed. “I’m sure that Eupha will be reasonable… and hopefully easy to deal with…”

“So… How do we plan to get in? I mean the other Queens couldn’t find them.”

“She said an escort would be there to help me find the hive entrance.”

“Hopefully they are actually sane…” Spike mumbled.

Twilight pretended to ignore the dragon, watching as the train began to slow. A few seconds later, the train had slowed to a halt in front of a very old looking train station, it didn’t seem to have a roof, and the only thing that was there were a few metal beams and a beige earth pony laying on a bench, a small book open in front of her. Twilight gathered up her supplies and picked up Spike, walking off the train. As she stepped off the train, the Earth Pony looked over at Twilight before closing her book and putting it in her bag. “Twilight Sparkle?”

Twilight looked at the Earth Pony. “Yes?”

The Earth Pony smiled. “My name is Eggshell, and I was asked to be your guide.”

“Didn’t you come to Ponyville? I remember Surprise telling me a bit about you.”

“Yes, I was. Eupha asked me to help him get affiliated with the Hive Mind. He did pretty well… Being the only grown Changeling in a room of Nymphs that can barely talk and practically communicate with spit bubbles.” Eggshell giggled. “Granted, at first, him using the Hive Mind was kind of the same…”

Twilight nodded, making a mental note to ask about the Hive Mind later. “So what is the name of this town? I couldn’t find any definitive name for it.”

Eggshell nodded. “Well, we call it Outskirts, since it is the farthest town in Equestria, right on the edge of the Badlands. In all honesty, the town has never fully been founded, it started off as a transportation point between the Minotaur Republic and Equestria, but it hasn’t been used like that for decades… As you could probably tell…” She looked up at the lack of a station roof.

“Yeah… I noticed that…” Twilight replied.

Spike looked around. “Where is the building?”

Eggshell looked down at Spike. “Building?”

Spike looked out over the nearby town, a few small building were made out of the standard building materials, but a few were built with the same reddish-brown stone as the ground. “Shouldn’t there be a big building for testing cannons?”

Eggshell blinked. “Wow… I knew Twilight was intelligent… I didn’t expect that kind of knowledge from a baby Dragon… Though I guess you are Twilight’s assistant… So I guess that’s to be expected.”

Spike puffed out his chest.

“Well, to answer your question, Spike. The building used to be above ground, but a lot of ponies took offense to being woken up in the middle of the night by loud bangs.”

“Understandable.” Spike replied.

“If you would just follow me, I’ll bring the two of you to the Queen.” She walked off the platform, followed by Twilight and Spike.

“So, what do you normally do, Eggshell? You mentioned the nymphs earlier.”

Eggshell nodded. “I’m actually a Caretaker. Number fifteen, to be precise. I’m one of those who help the Nymphs with learning. We are integral to the future of the Hives.”

“If you are that important, why aren’t you a specialized class?” Spike asked bluntly.

Twilight glared at him, making sure that he knew the intent behind the expression.

“Well… For one, Spike, it has long been held that the Caretakers must help teach and raise the Nymphs in the early stages. We are responsible for keeping the Nymphs safe, as well as giving them naps and teaching the next generation. Having another class based purely around the education would be cumbersome, plus the Caretakers can both care for the Nymphs while teaching them. Separating them would be terrible for us.”

“Well… I guess that makes sense…” Spike said.

“So, how long have you been set up in Outskirts?”

“About thirty years. At least, that is how long the Hive has been fully set up with everything working. We had a few scares here and there… But overall everything went about as well as was expected.”

Twilight looked around the nearly barren area, the tall stone pillars in the distance, representing the middle of the Badlands. The closest she had ever gotten to those pillars and they still looked far away. “Do you ever get Minotaur customers?”

Eggshell hummed. “I… I’m not sure… That’s more a question for the Queen or the PR department. I know that a couple live in Outskirts, but I’ve never seen them come to the building…”

“What about other races?”

“Griffons mostly. Aburi and Eupha have a pretty good relationship, since Aburi is the designer and developer of many of the military Airships for the Griffon Kingdom, though she isn’t as good with cannons. So Eupha and Aburi have a pretty good relationship. Oh and Viola sometimes comes to visit.”

“Who?”

“Mischief Hive, you wouldn’t know her. Though we do use the metal from the Minotaur Republic… So we have a good relationship with them.”

“Oh…” Twilight replied. “I suppose that explains why the Party Cannon is so durable.”

“Well… The Mark III and after were more durable, and created with that in mind.” Eggshell said as they walked into the main town, an Earth Pony watering a few plants, despite the almost barren soil. Guess their plant Magic comes in handy.

Eggshell waved at the Pony. “Morning, Till. How are the potatoes coming along?”

The Earth Pony looked up. “They are coming along wonderfully, another week and they’ll be ready for harvesting. You’ll be getting your share in around then.”

“It’s all right, Till, I’m willing to wait. I’ll be sure to make you some of that stew you love so much.”

Till smiled. “I’ll be looking forward to it.”

Eggshell smiled back as she said goodbye and continued to lead Twilight down the streets. Occasionally stopping to wave hello to others, and even stopping for a minute for a small chat with a Minotaur.

After another few minutes of walking, they reached a small building with the words: “Party Ballistics Incorporated: Development & Testing” on a large sign that spread across the top of the entire building. The three of them walked up to the door as Eggshell pushed it open. It seemed fairly normal for an office building: blank off-white walls, a couple of plants, which Twilight assumed to be fake, a portrait of a bright yellow Earth Pony mare with a wild grass green mane almost like the pony never heard of a comb, a large cannon next to her as she leaned on it. Underneath the wooden frame was a plaque that read: “Party Ballistics Incorporated’s Founder, Giggle Trousers with the very first Party Cannon Prototype.”

Eggshell walked up to the Unicorn working at the desk. “Morning, 35.”

The Unicorn looked up from the desk to look over Eggshell. “Morning, Eggshell. This her?” He said, pointing at Twilight.

“Twilight Sparkle, prized student of Princess Celestia. Yup.” Eggshell replied.

“Well, just had to be sure, can’t just let any old Unicorn in here.” At that moment, there was a light ding as a door slid open and a few ponies walked off with a cannon.

“Are you sure this is what the boss wanted us to do with this?”

“Sure as I can be, you heard her, she said that the entire frame is compromised. We need to scrap it.”

“But it…”

“It almost blew her head off when it fired. We are not keeping it.”

“Fine…”

Twilight watched the two of them push the cannon out of the door and out of sight. When she looked back at Eggshell, the Unicorn handed her a small key. “Make sure you bring it back when you’re done.”

Eggshell nodded. “Come on you two, we’ve got to head underground a few floors.”

Twilight looked at Spike, who shrugged, before the two of them followed Eggshell into the elevator. Eggshell took the key and slotted it into a keyhole below the floor buttons, of which there were four. “What do the buttons mean?”

Eggshell turned the key as both the key and the hole produced a dim glow. “Well, we have four main floors for in case inspections come along, or even when the occasional tour group comes through. The first floor is just the lobby; the second floor is essentially where the Engineers get together to talk about the newest creations, discussing changes and having meetings. The third is where we build a few prototypes and the actual products. The final floor is the testing ground for the prototypes or even just for the Party Cannons of old so others can see the advancements.”

“That seems like something I should take a look at…”

“Don’t worry, Twilight.” Eggshell said, pushing the top button as the elevator chugged into motion. “All of the best versions of that are in the Hive. Since we have free reign, we have the ability to build anything, and it is more efficient, since we don’t have to keep sound complaints or even the idea of somepony finding the plans.”

“So where are we going now?” Twilight asked.

“We are just going to the first lobby, it is set up like that so that in case a pony gets down here, they won’t see much before they get caught.” Eggshell replied.

“Oh… What is the Queen doing right now?”

Eggshell tapped her chin. “I’m never really sure… But I know that she was supposed to be checking on the newest created Cannons…” A soft ding sounded from within the elevator as the doors slid open. Twilight looked out towards a hallway with a few photos on display. The hallway itself was a fairly simple pale yellow. A few candy-cane colored pillars separated the pictures. One of which was of Giggle Trousers building a Cannon, the one across from it was of Giggle Trousers and Celestia, who had strings of confetti hanging off her body looking wide eyed towards the camera, a small neutral expression on her lips, as if she was unsure how to react. Giggle Trousers was laughing on the ground next to her with a smoking cannon sitting next to her.

Twilight looked at the picture. “When was that taken?”

Eggshell pulled the key out of the slot, placing it into her saddlebag before looking up at the photo. “That was taken when Eupha tried to get the okay from Celestia to have a patent for the Party Cannon. It… went well… Enough…” Eggshell rubbed the back of her head. “The Cannon misfired the Confetti when it wasn’t supposed to, showering it over Celestia, and Eupha… Well… She burst out laughing at the expression on her face. She managed to get the patent… And got a bunch of publicity for the next few months because of it. It helped get this company off the ground… Even if it wasn’t the best way possible…”

Twilight nodded as she looked at the picture before looking towards a couple of the other pictures. One of which had a small family photo of Giggle Trousers, a brown Stallion, and a small gray filly. Giggle Trousers was standing on one of her hind legs a party hat on and a small cannon in her hoof.

“That was the fake photo for when we needed to create the Queen’s next disguise.” Eggshell replied, she then pointed towards another photo of Giggle Trousers in front of a large building in Manehatten. “That’s when we managed to get the main building in Manehatten. Eupha had a huge party that day.”

“What are parties like around here?” Spike asked. “If Pinkie Pie’s parties are crazy, what is it like here?”

Eggshell giggled. “You’ll find out later. It is difficult to explain… Mostly because my job is actually to keep a lot of the parties away from the nursery… Can’t have them messing with the Nymphs…” She shook her head. “Anyway, the Hive is just over here. We had quite the time soundproofing this section so that in case we had a party, the ponies couldn’t hear it.”

Twilight nodded as she walked down the hall, looking at the pictures of the aging Earth Pony as her daughter grew and continued to build the cannons. The last photo was of an obviously aged Earth Pony with the gray mare. “Straight Face, Eupha’s current disguise. She decided to make it the polar opposite of her other form, making her a pure businesspony, not phased by much. It worked fairly well.”

“How so?”

“Well, Eupha is often a bit… Verbal and active. More so than many ponies. So that would cause the company to come under fire quickly… So Eupha decided to change it up… So she would be the exact opposite, and it worked.”

“Interesting…” Twilight replied. “Has Eupha talked to the Queens yet?”

“Yes she has, that was a… Very stressful meeting…” Eggshell replied. “From what I heard, both Pupa and Acari were ready to shout her ear off… Even Apath was questioning her methods.” Eggshell walked up to a couple of doors and pushed one open. “Caretaker 15, Eggshell, bringing Twilight Sparkle into the Hive.”

“Very well, you may enter.” A Changeling said beyond the door.

Eggshell turned back to Twilight and Spike. “You may come in now.”

Twilight and Spike looked at each other before walking through the door, seeing two yellow-eyed Changelings wearing dark yellow armor, a cannon with what looked like a collection of eight black spheres sprouting out of the end of the barrel. The Guards eyed Twilight as she walked past them; one of the Guards pulled a small lever on the Cannon, which Twilight was hoping deactivated it.

As she looked out towards the rest of the Hive, she noticed the familiar structures, caverns almost everywhere, a few Changelings flying around, a couple sealed off rooms with Changelings on the other side, all sitting around a table talking.

“Huh… I was kind of expecting a bit more… Disorder.” Twilight said looking around.

“Well…” Eggshell replied unsure how to answer. “This is only the top layer of our Hive, meant for the engineers and organizers to meet in order to talk about what they need built or any ceremonies that are coming up.”

Twilight followed Eggshell through the corridors of the Hive, stopping occasionally to look into a few of the rooms. The first one had the Changelings looking over blueprints for something that Twilight couldn’t quite make out. The next one had a Changeling standing on the ceiling while reading over some plans; the next room had a few Changelings looking at a dismantled cannon. The very last room Twilight looked into had a large drawing of a Cake drawn on a chalkboard, the recipe for said cake was written next to it.

Spike was just looking around at this point, barely taking anything into memory, when he had been told about this Hive; he figured it would be more interesting than a couple meetings taking place.

“Why is the first level set up like this?” Spike asked, looking into another room where Changeling was sitting on an upright wheel while looking at the plans of a bicycle.

Eggshell looked back at the Dragon. “Well, it is set up like this so that in case we do have intruders, they wouldn’t see much. Those Guards are actually our first line of defense, those cannons they have are meant to fire out a net that is attached to those spherical weights. The net has been enchanted so that it saps the strength of any pony trapped underneath it, both magical and physical.”

“What do you do with the prisoners?” Twilight asked.

“Usually? Well, normally we would just wait for the net to sap their strength and then move them back to their homes, we drain some of their emotions so that when they wake up, they have a really bad hangover and assume the whole thing was some weird trip.”

“That works?”

“You’d be surprised.” Eggshell replied. “Though not many ponies get down here and if they see too much, we would normally bring them to the nearest Just Hive outpost to have the memories erased.” Eggshell said, leading them down a tunnel that eventually got them to a large hole in the ground.

“Well, I guess we had better head back then.” Twilight said, looking down the hole.

“No, we’re going the right way.” Eggshell said, taking a few steps back from the hole.

“How? All I see is this hole and…” Eggshell ran forward, hopping off the edge and falling into the darkness below. “Dark…”

The two of them stood staring down the hole for about thirty seconds before Twilight’s horn lit up and planted Spike onto her back. “Are you sure this is a good idea?” Spike asked, looking down the hole.

“No…” Twilight replied, finding a small stone and pushing it off the edge, straining her ears to listen for a light clink, but all she got was a small plop after a couple seconds. After a few quick calculations in her head, she came up with the idea that it was either a ten to twenty foot drop. “Just hold on, I’m going to need to use a gravity spell just in case this is a bigger drop than I think… Just… Don’t let go.”

Spike nodded and tightened his grip as Twilight sighed and began trying to remember the spell. She hadn’t studied them, as much as she would have liked, the next thing on her list was a reversal spell, but so far she only had a small spell that only slightly reduced the effects. She took a deep breath as her horn lit up before it sparked wildly at the strain; her body was covered in an aura of magic before she looked down at her hooves to see them glowing lightly. “I’m going to need to practice these a little more when we get back.” She stepped towards the hole and looked down, reaffirming the fact that it was a large empty hole. She looked back at Spike. “You ready?”

Spike nodded as his claws griped a little tighter. Twilight inched towards the edge and took a deep breath, before defying everything her survival instincts were telling her and leaping off the edge. Both her and Spike let out a yell as they fell, Twilight wasn’t sure how long they fell, but she thought it couldn’t have been longer than two seconds…

Twilight heard a splash as she opened her eyes, finding herself being covered in liquid and being carried away by it. She continued to shout as she was pulled along with the current. While not much water, if she was standing, she figured it would only come up to her knees, there was some kind of slippery material helping her get carried away. The rapids pulled her through a couple loops, turning harshly to the right and left at differing intervals, the pitch blackness did almost nothing to help soothe the idea she was inside some giant creatures mouth, and neither did the sounds coming from below her; a mixture of shouting and what Twilight’s mind thought was a beating heart. What felt like a minute passed, the sounds growing louder equal to Twilight’s heart pounding faster, before the surface she had been rushed along suddenly fell away from her before she heard a splash and felt Spike fall from her back before she fell face first into the strange liquid.

She quickly raised her head and took a deep breath before raising her hooves to wipe away the strange feeling liquid from her eyes. “About time you jumped down.”

Twilight managed to wipe away the substance and looked up to see Eggshell standing outside of a small pit, in which both Spike and Twilight were sitting in. Twilight also recognized the sounds she heard before, they weren’t screaming or shouting, it was cheering, and the pounding was just music with a lot of bass. Large multi-colored lights were swinging back and forth inside the room. The pit they were in had a multitude of glowing yellow crystals on poles, casting illumination over the area the three were in.

Twilight looked down at herself, seeing it covered in a brown sticky substance. She let out a sigh, “At least we’re alive… And covered in,” she looked back at where she had fallen from to see a yellow slide, that was releasing water. “Mud?”

Spike looked at his claws, which were covered in the mud, he raised them up to his nose and sniffed. “I don’t think this is mud…” he moved one of his claws to his mouth and licked it.

“Spike! That’s gross!” Twilight shouted as Spike continued to lick the mud off his claws.

“Twilight, it isn’t mud. It’s frosting.”

Twilight blinked before she looked at a bit of the brown substance in her hoof, raising it up to her mouth and taking a small lick. “Huh… So it is…”

Spike continued to lick the frosting off his claws as Eggshell giggled. “Sorry about not telling you about the slide, I thought it would be a nice surprise.”

Twilight looked around the area, noticing that the music was actually rather quiet, seeing the crystal poles actually generating some kind of field that surrounded just outside the pit. “Is there somewhere I can clean off?”

Eggshell nodded. “The field here will clean it off, and don’t worry, it is completely sanitary. We clean the pit every half hour when we have a party and we made sure that it was cleaned before your arrival. I flew over it so don’t worry about me contaminating it.”

Twilight looked back at Spike, who was still licking off the frosting. “I’m good, thanks…” She stood up and walked towards Eggshell, stepping up to the level she was on. Twilight turned to see Spike taking a handful of the frosting and shoving it into his mouth; she rolled her eyes and used her magic to pull him out of the pit. “I don’t want you being hyper on the way back. Remember what happened last time?”

“I was being careful.” Spike retorted.

“Shoveling claw-full’s of frosting into your mouth is not being careful.” Twilight replied. “Maybe if you are good, I’ll get you something when we get home.”

Spike sighed. “One time…”

“Dragon puke is not easy to clean out of your coat, even with magical assistance.”

Eggshell looked between the two curiously. “Well… I’m sure there is a colorful story there… But would you like me to lead you to the Queen now?”

Twilight nodded as she looked out towards the party going on passed the small bubble, while she had seen a smallish party inside the Medical Hive, there was no denying this was bigger…

Along with the Changelings dancing on the ground, Many Changelings were actually dancing on the walls and ceilings, even in the air, it seemed like they were mostly just flailing their legs around in the air, without any real finesse to it… Then again, she couldn’t really say she knew how to dance. But on top of even the Changelings in the air, there were the Changelings swinging on lights. I hope those are secured…

Eggshell, noticing her slight distress and curiosity, looked up at the Changelings. “Don’t worry, Twilight, those lights are secured with enough materials that you would need an elephant to pull it down. Oh… and… You may want to cover your ears…”

“Why?” Spike asked.

“Well… Wave loves to… Play his music loud… Just follow me, closely… Because I’m going to get rid of my ears.”

Twilight looked back at Spike, her horn lit up as a small bubble formed around the two of them. She nodded at Eggshell whose ears were covered in a yellow flame as they vanished; she then walked out of the bubble, quickly followed by Twilight.

The instant she passed the small darkened bubble around the pit, she was glad she put up the bubble, as even despite the Bubble of Silence, a rather crude version of it that only blocked sound coming in, she could definitely hear that music. How any Changeling could listen to this was incredible to her, the rise and fall of the bass was clearly pounding within her head, and she just continued to follow Eggshell at a quick pace, a few times a Changeling would stumble into the bubble and one changeling fell flat on his face. She simply stepped over him gingerly before hurrying to catch up to Eggshell.

When she was able to, she glanced over at the Changeling at the DJ table, seeing a yellow-winged Changeling, his blue glasses holding a small green line across them that followed the changing volume of the music, why it wasn’t just peaked at all times confused Twilight, as her ears and skull would say that it was far beyond normally acceptable volume.

As they walked through the rest of the crowd, they both came up to a thick membrane, Eggshell looked back at Twilight and, seeing she was still close, Eggshell’s horn lit up and the membrane split apart. Both of them quickly walked through the membrane before Eggshell closed up the membrane, sealing the sound back inside the other room. Two wisps of flame appeared at the top of Eggshell’s head as her ears returned as Twilight dropped the bubble of silence.

Eggshell raised her hoof up to her ear and rubbed it. “Ow… I forgot how much pain those sounds cause…” She rubbed at her other ear. “That is why I stay out of those rooms. I hate that Changeling…”

“Is that usual for him?” Twilight asked as Spike tried to clean out his ears.

“Yes… Personally, I think he is half deaf. Eupha planned to have him go to Cytes to look at his ears. We just can’t figure it out on our own and even if we could, we can’t do anything about it.”

“Are there any other rooms like that?” Twilight asked, rubbing her own ears as the pounding in her head abated.

“Like that specifically, not really. There are others, but they aren’t Raves. They are much calmer and a lot less noisy. There is one just up here if you want to check it out really quick.”

“What about getting to Eupha?” Twilight replied. “I would hate to keep her waiting.”

“Don’t worry, I’m sure that she would understand. She is basically the Queen of distractions… Which happens a lot if she isn’t focusing.” Eggshell replied with a sigh. “Just follow me, it is on the way.”

Twilight nodded as she followed Eggshell down the corridor, taking out her notepad and took some notes. A couple minutes later, they stopped outside another membrane. Looking in, Twilight saw a room full of about thirty Changelings. The room was covered in balloons and streamers, there was a table of food and a punch bowl, with the Changelings all talking or dancing in the middle of the room, a couple Changelings were looking over the food while talking to each other. It seemed a lot more like something she would see in Ponyville, a rather large get together.

A couple of Changelings walked out of the room. “Get out of here!”

“I’m serious, he swallowed it!” The Changeling said.

The other changeling began laughing. “What happened when it popped?” The Changeling asked in a female voice.

The other Changeling snickered. “Before I tell you that… When he swallowed it, his neck extended by a good foot as he tried to push it down.”

“Oh… He’s an idiot… I would have spat it out.”

“Can’t give him credit for not going through with his mistakes.”

“Now, tell me what happened later.” The female Changeling said.

“Well, it didn’t pop, but when he finally got it out, lets just say he flew around the room when he let it out.” The Changeling winked.

The Changeling mare laughed. “Oh Eupha, I’m never letting him live that down!”

“I thought you wouldn’t… Oh… Hi…” Both Changelings looked at Eggshell and Twilight.

Eggshell gave the two a small wave before they both sighed. “What did she do?”

Eggshell blinked. “Oh, no she’s fine.”

“I know she did something… What was it?” the Mare asked.

Eggshell rubbed the back of her neck. “Well… She did have a… tiny accident involving… Well… Involving a pop-Cannon… But everyling was okay! All the Nymphs are fine, and we had a loooooong talk with her afterwards about aiming it at somepony’s eye.”

The mare shook her head. “I swear… I blame my husband for her. He is just as obsessed with those things as she is…” She grumbled something. “Sorry, Spring. I wanted to spend a little more time with you; I miss catching up. But I need to go and have a very stern talk with my husband…” She let out a sigh. “Anyway, good luck to you three, and special luck to you, Sparkle.”

Twilight blinked. “Wait… Why me?”

“My husband told me a few things…”

“How do you know my name?”

“Eupha’s been preparing for your arrival, I won’t say how, but you will need that extra luck.” She said. “As for your name, we all know by now.” She walked off waving back at them. “Bye, guys.”

Spring waved back at her. “See ya later, Fuse!” He said. “So… I’ve got to go… Things to do, places to go, gotta get those spring shoes finished.” Spring’s horn lit up as four large springs appeared under his hooves as he bounced off.

Twilight watched as the Stallion hopped away before turning to Eggshell. “Pop-Cannon?”

Eggshell sighed. “It’s a foal’s toy… it makes a little popping sound… It isn’t supposed to be dangerous… But when it is aimed at somepony’s eye… It can cause a wide variety of injuries, luckily it only grazed the eye.”

Twilight nodded. “What would you do if it were worse?”

Eggshell took a deep breath and let out a stream of air. “Well… That is where we have trouble… Caretakers are meant to be the first to react to a Nymph’s needs and the last to defend them. We are also supposed to be the best medical staff for them within the Hive. The only problem is… We aren’t the Medical Hive.” Eggshell began walking down the hall. “I’ll tell you as we walk.”

Twilight quickly caught up to her and slowed down to keep up with her pace. “So… What do you mean?”

“Well, like I said, we are supposed to be the last defense for the Queen and the Nymphs. We are trained with basic medical skills and magic. So say… If a Nymph sprained their hoof, we knew what to do, or even if they cut their chitin or get a crack on their backplate, we can handle it. But anything deeper than that… Like say if something is stuck in their eye, we only have two options: hope to the Queen that our Nurses and other Hive medical staff can handle it, or we need to rush them to the nearest Medical Hive outpost.” She let out a sigh. “Now… When we are trying to stay hidden, that second one is off limits… So we have to just hope that our own medical staff can handle it…”

“Did you have any issues?” Twilight asked as the two of them walked into an open chamber, the walls being replaced with red and white striped colors.

“We had a couple scares… A Nymph breaking their wings, a couple cracked headplates, but the worst was when a Nymph had a…”

“INCOMING!”

Both Eggshell and Twilight looked over towards the voice to see a Changeling rolling on a large blue ball that was currently barreling towards them. Both of them let out a gasp as they jumped out of the way, leading to the Changeling slamming into the wall and sliding down as the ball continued to roll down the hall.

A few more Changelings ran over. “Oh no…” One of them ran over to the Changeling. “Are you alright?” She said, turning the Changeling over as his eyes had small swirls in them, his tongue lolling out.

“Yes, I’d like some noodles… Put them right on the pizza sandwich…” The Changeling said, clearly out of it. “I’ve got to get ready for the Canterlot in Bug cage… All the moose will be there…”

The mare sighed. “Of course…”

The Changeling shook his head. “Whoa… I hit that wall pretty hard…” He looked around where he was now being held up. “Where’d the ball go?”

One of the other Changelings pointed down the hall, as Twilight looked down it, she saw a Changeling quickly jump to the side, cuddling a small yellow egg as she landed on her side. She quickly checked the egg before shooting a glare down the hall.

“SORRY!” The Changeling shouted down the hall, earning him a headshake and what Twilight would assume would be a very disgruntled Caretaker. “We… Should probably stop that…”

The Changeling Mare kept him down. “No, I need to check to make sure you are okay.” She looked back at the other two Changelings. “Could you two handle the issue…”

Both of the Changelings nodded and flew down the hall, chasing after the large ball. The Mare sat the Changeling down and looked at the back of his head. “What were you thinking, Carnie?”

“Well… I always see the others doing stuff like that. I figure- ow…” The Changeling replied.

“They were specifically trained for that. You’re a trapeze artist for Eupha’s sake!”

“Same princi- Ow!” He said, moving his hoof to the back of his head. “You are doing that on purpose.”

“Maybe I am, maybe I’m not.” She replied. “You had to try this today? On the same day Twilight Spar-” The Changeling stopped as she looked up from the Changeling to see Twilight. “-kle…”

Twilight gave a small smile and waved.

The Changeling twitched a bit before looking between her and the Changeling, then looked back down the hall. “O-oh… M-Miss Sparkle!” She pulled the Changeling up, eliciting a small ‘ow’ from the Changeling. “I-I’m so sorry, I should have stopped the three of them before they went through with it. I shouldn’t have let that Bullhead talk me into it.”

“Oh, it’s all right. No harm, no foul.” Twilight replied, giving the Changeling a smile.

“Again, I’m sorry for this, I-I’ll try to keep track of them next time…” She grabbed the other Changelings hoof and began pulling him down the hall.

“Hey, where are we going?”

“To the Medic’s, I think you have a concussion…” The two Changelings continued to talk as they were hurried down the hall.

As they left, Twilight watched the two of them before letting out a deep breath before pulling out her notepad. “So… What was that?”

Eggshell turned from the two Changelings to look back at Twilight. “That was a couple of the circus performers, I think that was Tightrope… He is a skilled Trapeze artist, and the mare was a fire juggler named Firefly. Usually they are a bit better about safety, especially Fire…”

“Well… I guess that I should have been expecting a few to be like… Somepony I know…” Twilight grumbled. “Though that is not important. How many Changelings would you say are in carnivals like that?”

“Plenty.” Eggshell replied. “It isn’t just a Joyous Hive business either. We need plenty of help from the other Hives around the world. The Natural Hive help us with some of the animals, the Chance Hive help us have plenty of those annoying games everypony yells at us for. And then there’s the…”

There was a loud clang as a Changeling stumbled out of tent with a large metal bucket on their head. Another Changeling rushed out after it. “Heart! Heart! Stop moving! I need you to hold still so I can get the bucket off!”

Heart tried to talk, but it just came out as a mumble. The other Changeling rushed up and planted Heart on the ground. “Okay… 1… 2…” The Changeling began struggling against the bucket. “Heart! I said: ‘Hold on’. You are going to make it worse!”

There was a grumbling from under the bucket. “You were the one messing around and got your head stuck… Now just hold on… 1… 2… 3!” She began trying to pull the bucket off of Heart’s head while he pulled his head back. “I… Almost…” The bucket launched off his head, flying into the air as the Changeling fell back and the bucket continued to fly through the air before it landed on top of Eggshell.

Eggshell let out a sigh as the bucket was covered in a yellow glow as it easily slipped off her head, being placed on the ground. “Gyro, what happened?”

Gyro stood up off the ground. “Well, Heart here was…”

Twilight looked down at the bucket, wondering why it was so difficult for Heart to pull it off when compared to Eggshell. She looked inside of the bucket, seeing two large scratches on the inside of the bucket, she looked over at Eggshell and Gyro, and then panned her eyes over towards the other Changeling.

She felt her eyes widen as she looked at the Changeling. While he looked almost no different than any other Changeling she had met in terms of size, it had the body sizes of any of the other Changelings, but his wings seemed much smaller than any other Changeling. His fin and tail had a very strange gradient on them, transitioning from plum to magenta. He rubbed the back of his head as he opened his Rose eyes. But the thing that got Twilight’s attention, were two curved horns, both of which were curved backwards, stopping at around the same height as the tips of his ears.

Twilight stared at him as he continued to rub the top of his head, before he moved his hooves up to his horns and tapped them, making sure that they were still completely fine. When he was happy his horns weren’t bent, he looked over at the two Joyous Changelings, before looking over at Twilight, when he did, his own eyes widened as his jaw fell open.

“Uhhh….” Heart said as he looked at Twilight. “That Bucket must have done more than I figured. I’m starting to see ponies.”

Spike looked over at the Changeling, raising his camera and snapping a picture. “Weird…” He said, “think it’s some kind of…”

Twilight’s horn lit up as she closed Spike’s mouth. “Not right now, Spike…”

Heart looked over at Eggshell and Gyro, then back at Twilight before standing up and clearing his throat. “Um… Please tell me that you are actually a Changeling trying to freak me out again…”

Twilight shook her head. “Twilight Sparkle.”

Heart let out a sigh as he relaxed. “Oh good! I thought it was some other random Pony. Name’s Heart-y.” He stuck out his hoof.

“Well, hello. What hive are you from? I’ve never heard of any Changelings like you.”

“Well, I’m not from Equestria actually, only got here a couple weeks ago and…”

Gyro walked over and grabbed him, looking him right in the eyes. “You did that on purpose!”

“What! N-no I didn’t!” He tried to look away.

“Heart!” Gyro said sternly. “You are going to clean up everything in that tent!”

Heart groaned. “But that will take me forever!” He whined.

“Think about that before you BREAK my gear!”

“Oh… That was yours…” Heart said, looking at Gyro surprised. Gyro just gave him a death glare as she growled. “Uh… I’m sorry… and I will…”

Gyro’s horn lit up as she began to drag Heart back by his horns. “You just be lucky that I can take a joke…”

“OW OW OW OW!”

“Or I would have planted you on the ground and whipped your chitin!”

“This is you taking a joke?”

Twilight watched as the two of them disappeared into the tent. As the two of them vanished, Eggshell walked up to her. “Sorry about that… Heart-y is new…”

“Who is he?” Twilight asked. “He’s clearly not from your Hive.”

“Well….” Eggshell said, beginning to walk down the hall. “Remember when I said that we need a lot of Hives' help…”

Twilight nodded.

“Well… He is from the Mischief Hive; they are a nearby Hive in the Minotaur Republic. Eupha and Viola were incredibly close… Well… As close as two Queens from different countries can be. Queen Viola runs the travelling circuses in the Republic, now while they run them… They aren’t as skilled as some of our own. So Viola and Eupha decided to work together. Viola would send a few Changelings that needed additional training, and we would send over a few Changelings that would help maintain the equipment, they also help with a bit of emotional collection.”

“Interesting…” Twilight replied. “So… What does Gyro do?”

“Gyro? She has amazing balance! I’ve seen her do some pretty ridiculous stuff. You ever heard of those ponies that could stand on beds of pins and needles? Well… I’ve seen her stand on a spinning platform, while juggling… With her hind hooves…”

Spike whistled. “Wow…”

“I swear, she doesn’t go down when she doesn’t want to.” Eggshell replied. “Heart was actually here to learn from her… Though from the sound of it… He broke her equipment… A shame too… It was specially crafted by Tettix… She loved that gear… Hopefully Heart left something there…” Eggshell let out a sigh. “Well, we had better get moving, Eupha should be just ahead…”

“Well… Do you think that this Queen Viola would be open to letting me see her Hive?” Twilight asked, eliciting a groan from Spike.

“Great… We’re going to have to go across the world now?” Spike said, laying back on Twilight’s back and letting out a sigh.

“Well… I don’t know how the talks with the other Queens are going, but I’m sure that a couple will let you enter.” Eggshell replied. “You’ll just have to wait and see…”

Twilight nodded in understanding while making a mental note to research circus acts in the Minotaur Republic. Perhaps find out a little bit about the Queen before I go…

The two of them walked down the halls of the Hive, making small talk for the most part. There were a few times that Twilight asked small questions about the care of eggs and Nymphs and how they differed from other Hives. While Eggshell couldn’t talk about the other Hives, she said most of it was related to making sure the Nymphs didn’t hurt themselves.

After a few minutes of walking, the two of them descended into the Hive, coming up to a large door, glowing with yellow magic. Eggshell walked up to the door before turning back to Twilight. “This is the underground testing and development area, this door leads to the testing range. Eupha should be just in here, but you should put on a sound spell… Just in case…”

Twilight nodded as her horn lit up and covered both Spike’s head and her own. As she did, Eggshell turned and pushed open the wooden door, letting Twilight look into the area beyond.

The chamber they stepped into was a large open cavern; the ceiling was a long way above them, easily enough for three stories to be built in the area. Instead the air seemed to have a few platforms with painted on targets. The front area was composed of a few teams of three to four Changelings; all gathered around different gadgets, ranging from a couple fireworks, a cannon, to any number of various contraptions. Most of them were gathered around differing versions of a cannon, making small tweaks, looking through the unloaded barrel, and placing new barrels on the cannons

Twilight looked around at a few of the other contraptions that were being made, and for a few of them, she could understand the mechanics, but a couple made no sense, such as the spinning wheel with six ballistae attached to it. Why?

Eggshell led Twilight through the grid-like floor; apparently each team had a cleared area to work on their various contraptions, a few using magic to help build or contain various pieces of the equipment. A few of them were talking to each other or they stopped working upon seeing Twilight and Eggshell. Twilight was looking at the equipment, and the Changelings working on them, wanting to get a picture of them, however when she looked back at Spike, he was looking at the Camera with a confused look on his face. He looked up at Twilight and shrugged. Twilight rolled her eyes before taking the camera from him and attempting to take a picture. To her surprise, the camera simply clicked as though it was broken.

Twilight lowered the camera and began inspecting it. She made sure that everything was where it was supposed to be before experimentally pushing on the button, getting nothing but a faint click in response. She looked back at the camera confused before Eggshell lowered the camera and pointed at her ears.

Twilight lowered the bubble around her head, just as a loud cannon blast sounded next to them. Twilight jumped into the air before looking over to see a Changeling lying on the ground. His hind leg twitching as his chitin was noticeably darker and his fin was covered in black powder. He opened his mouth as a small cloud of soot flew out. The rest of the team shook their heads before one of them walked up with a white box with a red cross on it, opening it and pulling out a syringe full of some strange amber colored liquid. He tapped the syringe before taking it and injecting the soot covered Changeling by the wings.

The Changelings legs fell back as he began twitching. Another Changeling, most likely the leader of the team walked up to Twilight. “Sorry for that… New guy…” He walked back over to his team and started to watch the twitching Changeling before he sat up and shook his head.

Eggshell shrugged with a sheepish expression before mouthing the word ‘Sorry’ and, after waiting for Twilight’s ears to stop ringing, she cleared her throat. “Cameras don’t work in here, it is one of the enchantments placed to ensure the security of our equipment. Can’t have any rivals taking our secrets, or have a Changeling accidently reveal us…”

“Oh… Well…” Twilight looked back over at the Changelings as their comrade stood up and took a rag to wipe away the soot. “What was in that syringe?”

Eggshell looked over at the group. “Oh… That… Well… It is essentially a cocktail of emotions that will kick start the healing process. I believe it is full of Joy, love, appreciation, and… I believe ecstasy. The mix is nearly intoxicating, but very difficult to make.”

“Huh… So every Hive can do that?” Twilight asked.

“Yes… Now put your spell back up before something else explodes.”

Twilight nodded and replaced the shield before following Eggshell through the hall. When the two of them passed a couple of the larger contraptions, blocking off the view of anything behind them, Twilight saw a row of Changelings each standing next to a cannon. Twilight looked down the line; all of the cannons were pointed down a large target range, each pointed at a different target. To the far left, Twilight saw the Queen, she was standing tall, looking down the range with a neutral expression on her face.

“Fire one!” She commanded as the first Changeling fired the cannon, launching a large white glob at the target. “Two through Five, FIRE!”

The next four cannons fired their own globs. As they did, Eupha began to walk down the line, as she passed each cannon, they fired.

Twilight walked up to the Queen, who continued to hold that neutral look. “Hello, your Majesty.”

“Greetings, Miss Sparkle.” Eupha replied. “I am quite glad that you could join me within my new home.”

Twilight blinked a little. “Well… Thank you for the invitation.”

Eupha glanced down at her. “Is something wrong? You seem uncertain.”

“Well… I’ve heard quite a lot about you… And… I’m just a little confused whom I should believe…”

Eupha stopped and raised her hoof, all of the Soldiers stopped. She then walked down the range, motioning for Twilight to follow. She took Spike off her back and set him down behind the line before following her, lowering both of their bubbles.

As Eupha reached the targets, she looked over at Twilight. “Now, what did you expect of me?” She asked, looking back at the target.

“Well… I was told that you were unpredictable and could be off the walls… But… I don’t know…”

Eupha nodded. “First impressions can be everything.” She said, raising her hoof. “It can be used to make you seem smarter, more courageous, less energetic, ooor…” She took her hoof and ran it across the splatter, picking up a bit. And placing it into her mouth, she swallowed and smacked her lips. “It can be used for surprise.”

A few Changelings flew over with Clipboards, holding pens in their hooves.

“Too much flour in number nine.” She said. The Changelings then began to write down on the clipboard. Eupha moved down to the next target, taking another hoof-full of the charred glob. “Too much blast powder…”

The other Changelings nodded and wrote down on the clipboards. Twilight herself looked at the goop that was slowly dripping down target number nine, looking at it and sniffing it. “Is this cake?”

Eupha looked over at Twilight, and then pointed at one of the other Changelings with a clipboard. “You are in charge until I get back. I want full statistics on each cannon and product on my desk by tomorrow morning.”

The three flying Changelings nodded and proceeded down the line. Eupha turned to Twilight and smiled. “I suppose you want to meet in my room?”

Twilight blinked. “Um… I guess… Could I get Spike really-”

“Oh, I’m sure he would help you take notes about some of the other areas, EGGSHELL!” She shouted. “COULD YOU SHOW SPIKE AROUND THE OTHER ROOMS!”

Eggshell looked over at the two of them when her name was called, then back at Spike, who rolled his eyes and sighed. Eggshell then looked back at Eupha and shrugged.

Eupha leaned down to Twilight and began whispering to her. “You wouldn’t mind if Eggshell shows Spike around would you?”

Twilight looked back at Spike before tapping her chin. It would be a great was to get more information on the Hive, since Twilight would be with Eupha for the rest of the day. While Twilight didn’t know exactly what Eupha had planned for her, it could be dangerous for all she knew.

Twilight gave Spike another look, before looking back up at Eupha. “Could you give me a minute?”

“Sure!” Eupha said. “I’ve got time.”

Twilight walked back over to Spike and Eggshell. “Spike, I want you to go with Eggshell. And before you say anything, I will let you stay home next time.”

Spike sighed. “Fine, what do you want me to do?”

Twilight smiled as she pulled out a notebook and a couple quills. “I want you to follow Eggshell, and take notes on anything that you think I would write down, and take pictures that correspond to those notes.”

Spike took the notebook and quills. “And then I get to stay in Ponyville next time?”

“So long as you get plenty of information and pictures.” Twilight replied.

Spike nodded as he took the camera from Twilight. “Thank you for doing this, Spike.”

“Yeah… Anything to help, I guess.”

Eggshell gave a small smile. “I’ll keep him safe.”

“Thank you, Eggshell.” Twilight said before turning back and hurrying over to Eupha. “Okay, I’m ready.”

Eupha gave a wide smile. “Okay then, my throne room is just back here, but I want to stop at the Bakery really quick. I need to check up on those Cakes I asked for.”

“Well, okay I gue-”

“THANKS, EGGY!” Eupha shouted, waving back at Eggshell. Eggshell had turned around again and waved back before walking away with Spike behind her. “Come on, Twilight, if you want to get as much time as possible, we need to get going.”

Author's Note:

Part 1... Again as stated before, I hated having to split this up, but after seeing the length, I decided against posting it in one chapter. I also promised to get this chapter up today.... SO this is the solution.
I'm going to aim for getting it up before next week is over.... But no promises.

I hope you guys enjoy the first taste of Eupha's Hive. Is it everything you expected? Is it not? Well, this is only part 1 :raritywink:

The next section will focus on the Queen, and everything that comes with that.