• Published 17th Jul 2017
  • 3,938 Views, 829 Comments

An Exercise In Management - Nameless Narrator



A simple drone "accidentally" failed to leave the Badlands hive for the invasion to Canterlot. He was only two weeks old, one of the clutch specifically created to break through the protective shield. Now starving, he's just trying to survive.

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5: Onwards towards danger!

“Hello, miss warrior!”

“...don’t talk to her, idiot...”

“Why, boss?”

“...because she’ll kill me. And lower your voice...”

“I… am not… deaf, and I can… hear you… whispering.”

“Don’t worry, boss.”

“Why? Killing is literally what they are made for.”

“Because her foreleg’s in that bush all the way over there , her belly plate is gone, and she has all these cracks in her chitin which can’t be healthy. Plus, we’re changelings too!”

“That means we’re food and no one will help us!”

“Don’t… underestimate me… drone...”

“EXACTLY! Let’s pretend we didn’t see anything, especially not the other two dead warriors in pieces strewn all around. Those are bite marks on their armor, and this one is missing a lot of teeth.”

“That only-”

“THAT DOESN’T MEAN SHE’S LESS DANGEROUS!”

“I appreciate… the proper… kind of respect...”

“Umm, you mean me or the boss?”

“I mean… the one trembling… in his… carapace...”

“Hey, I’m not trembling! My legs are just weak since I’m hungry.”

“She’s talking about me, and I don’t mind saying I’m halfway to gooping myself.”

“Does it glow?”

“How should I-?! Why do you even want to know?”

“My pokey spear bit went out some time ago. I liked it more when it shimmered.”

“Hrrrrgh… you, warrior!”

“Yes… drone...? Wait… no… what are… you?”

She opens her eyes glued with dried green blood wider for the first time. One is pure white, clearly damaged beyond repair, and her working one is an emerald green one with black pupil like ponies have.

“Ehhh, I’m no one important, just a drone. Yeah, nameless, easily forgettable drone.”

“Then I order both of you to come over here and give me all your love.”

The dummy whimpers, grasping his messy wooden stick, but his legs obey the order before his head can, which to be honest can’t be difficult. I, on the other hoof, feel none of the familiar pull of an order from a higher rank. In light of that revelation, I gather my courage.

“H- ho- ho- how ab- about n- no!”

My companion stops in his tracks.

“...what… did… you… s...”

“Boss, she’s healing! Her stump isn’t even bleeding anymore. What do we do?”

With utmost care bordering on paranoia, I approach the warrior breathing slower and slower.

“That’s called bleeding out.”

“That’s good, right? If she was bleeding in she’d pop like a balloon.”

“...what tragedy would that be...”

“Boss?”

“She’s dying like the last guy we found.”

“Then help her, boss! She’s big and tough and this forest looks full of mean things.”

“Like wh-”

Manticores - have the body of a lion, a scorpion's tail, and a pair of dragon-like wings., hydras - possess multiple heads, the exact number of which varies according to the source. Later versions of the Hydra reports add a regeneration feature to the monster. For every head chopped off, the Hydra would regrow a couple of heads. Hydras have poisonous breath and blood so virulent that even its scent is deadly, common wild beasts - wolves, bears, timberwolves-

“-STOP!”

“...boss?”

The hissing voices fade away, taking with them memories which aren’t mine, images of horrible creatures inhabiting this place-

-the Hayseed Swamp.

“...boss? I’m sorry I asked you to help her. Don’t be mad at me, I’m really sorry. I know you know better. I was stupid. You can have my spear stick if you want, but please don’t yell anymore. It… hurts. I’m really sorry.”

He’s sitting on the grass and grasping his head, the gooey stick lying in front of him. The warrior changeling is once again awake, giving me an exhausted look. I myself am gasping for breath, trying to sort through the aftereffects of the flurry of living memories.

“I felt… I was one… the one the hydra ate… the one the manticore stabbed… all of the ones exploring this deadly place… but I’m here… and now… me… drone… two, zero, zero.... something.”

“...in… terest… ing...”

The warrior’s whisper followed by a trail of warmth flowing from her to me is completely shocking. As if a bucket of ice water was poured over my head, I wake up and focus instantly.

“What- what are you doing?!”

There’s a searching presence inside my head again, but it’s not the dummy. This one is weak, but focused like a sharp blade.

“...the hive… must… go on. We are better… than the… traitors...”

“What are you talking about? Speak to me!”

Her whole body twitches, her mouth opens only to let a stream of green blood out-

“...as… you… com… man… d...”

-and her eyelids slowly close as her voice fades.

“No, no no no no, why did you say the same things the voices did? What do you know? EXPLAIN SOMETHING! Please!”

I stomp the ground in frustration.

“Fine, you know what? Be like that! I won’t let the only changeling around who knows something die on me without making at least SOME sense.”

I put my hoof on her cracked nose chitin, and pour several small sparks of love into her. I’m shortening my and dummy’s lives by at least a day, but she WILL TALK. The warrior spasms, and starts gasping for breath.

“Wh- what?”

“You know something about the voices. Tell me, please. Every time they scream my head hurts like it’s about to burst, but they know things. They- they… I’m not… umm... sure how to feel about your hoof on my muzzle. That smile is terrifying, though, teeth or no teeth.”

“She booped you, boss.”

“Y- y- y- y- yeah. You know w- what that m- means?”

“That she’s your friend, boss.”

“THAT SHE CAN MOVE AGAIN! RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUN!”

I turn around and bolt like a well-lubricated lightning. My existence is speed, supersonic burst of terror clearly translated into leg movement. It lasts only for a fraction of a second, though, before I smash my face into the ground.

“You are… twitchy.”

The voice is calm and curious.

“Please let go of my leg. I don’t want to be here! I’m just a drone, I don’t even have enough energy to last you for long. My chitin isn’t even tasty, I swear. The other guy’s exactly the same. We’re starving too, so if you eat us you won’t help yourself. I think I saw a pony that way! Big one, blind one too, with bandaged hooves. Won’t recognize a changeling if you hit him in the face. You could drain him for months-”

“Very. Twitchy.”

“Hey, let boss go. I mean, please.”

The idiot is actually holding the stick with his both forehooves, making short poking motions at the warrior. She chuckles, sits down, and pushes him with her single foreleg hard enough to flop on his backside.

“If this is your bodyguard, then I am sure I can top that-”

Wait, what?

“-boss.”

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