• Published 3rd Mar 2019
  • 2,444 Views, 72 Comments

I Thought You'd Never Ask... - Rockstar_Raccoon



Twilight Sparkle brings the Student Six through a series of field trips to each others homelands as they mature. | Long-form exploration of the Student 6 and their homelands | Followup to "What's Your Problem?"

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The Hive - 1 - Packed up and Good to Go

And so the days went by, with professors hoofing out the various permission slips, travel forms, and waivers required for students to go on the trip. In response, much of the student body worked to get their schedules in order so they could go. Every day, the teachers stressed the deadline for turning in the forms, and every day the list of registered attendees grew.

For the five students sent by the non-pony nations, things were a bit simpler: Twilight had personally acquired permission from their governments for them to attend, and had even arranged to have all their expenses paid. It was almost as if there was some vested interest in having them come along, but whatever it was, it went over their heads. For now, they were just excited for the change of pace.

Soon enough, the day drew close, and the night before the trip saw them all packing.

“Hey Ocellus,” Sandbar called through the open door of his dorm room, “is it cold there this time of year?”

“Yeah, but it's probably not snowing if that's what you're asking. The hive's pretty far south from here...” Ocellus buttoned the saddlebags she was bringing, which were mostly books and gifts: she was just visiting home, after all.

She stepped out into the main part of their dorm hall, looking about at her friends as they went about their preparations.

Everycreature at the school was planning on wearing their school jackets for the train rides there and back, as Headmare Twilight had recommended, seeing as they were both warm and would make them easy to pick out in a crowd. They’d be less important when they were actually at the hive, seeing as they would make up virtually all of the non-changelings there. Aside from that, she’d suggested they all bring a bag of anything they’d need for self-care over the weekend.

Above her, Gallus had draped himself over a rafter, already finished packing. When he’d first come to the school, he’d been a bit obsessive about securing his possessions, but they’d worked on that the previous semester. Now, the only thing the low maintenance griffon really worried about was his toothbrush: after all, Headmare Twilight herself had paid for Minuette to drill and fill his numerous cavities, as well as taught him how to take care of his teeth, and he wasn’t interested in having another toothache. (also, he didn’t want to let her down, but he wouldn’t say that out loud)

They could hear chirping noises emanating from Silverstream’s room, where she was giddily flitting about, too excited to figure out what to pack. They’d given up reminding her that it was just a weekend trip to a place where they’d be doing things constantly, and, realistically, she didn’t need to pack anything. Instead they were waiting for her to wear herself down and just pack her makeup and brushes.

In her own room, Smolder was casually looking through the small chest of gemstones she kept at the foot of her bed, which was made of a dark grey metal and had spiked rivets. She’d already stuffed her backpack with enough clothing to keep her warm: hats, gloves, scarves, an extra jacket... She’d even considered packing something like a skirt or pants to cover her lower half, but those things never seemed to fit right over her lower belly and tail, and she still wouldn’t be caught dead wearing one of her dresses in public. Now she was just making sure she had snacks.

Yona had, at some point, tried to figure out what to bring to show that yaks were best, and had filled several oversized with Yak trinkets saddlebags before Headmare Twilight had reminded her that this was a trip for the changelings to show them things, and it would be rude to interrupt that with her own culture. After some input from Ocellus, she'd managed to narrow it down to a bag of dried roots she'd been saving from her last care package and and a piece of decorative artwork depicting yak warriors which she was willing to part with. (she would've brought her yovidaphone, but Ocellus had pointed out that she was already pushing it, and Headmare Twilight wouldn’t allow her to bring the large instrument on the already crowded train anyway.)

Sandbar was just finishing with his own saddlebags at this point, leaving a camera his parents had lent him next to them. He’d mostly packed his hairbrush and other essentials, as well as a few of his own winter accessories.

“So Ocellus,” Gallus let his head hang down from his perch, “Got any plans for your trip back home?”

Ocellus opened her wings and went into a buzzing hover, “Oh, yes. I’m going to introduce all of you to my family and friends from my old school. Headmare Twilight and Thorax asked me to help with the tour, so I’ll be doing that too.”

Sandbar wandered out into the hall with them, “About the tour... I saw the schedule, but it was kinda vague... Is there anything we should know about?”

“Well, Thorax has designated the whole weekend as a festival. The first night, we’ll just be having dinner and some mingling while all the students settle in. The first day we’ll be teaching you all about our history and our culture, and at some point we’ll be bringing tour groups through the hive. The second day will be a bit more relaxed, and all the students will be allowed to look around on their own. Pharynx and Tymbal have been putting together their own demonstrations too, but I don’t know much about those. Knowing Pharynx, it’s probably a military demonstration. I don’t know what Tymbal is planning though.”

“Right, and we leave on Monday morning.” Sandbar nodded, “But like, is there anything we should probably know about the Hive? Like, anything we need to worry about?”

Ocellus shook her head, “Thorax and the Princesses have been trying to improve changeling-pony relations ever since we overthrew Queen Chrysalis. I think we have more to worry about than you do: making a good impression on outsiders is a major priority right now.”

“So, lemme get this straight...” Smolder sauntered out of her room, gnawing on a small sapphire, “Even if we’re rude or obnoxious or something, the Changelings won’t do anything about it, because they want us to like them?”

Ocellus cringed, “Um... That’s not what I’m saying... but... kinda?”

Gallus smirked, “Smolder, you thinking what I’m thinking?”

“Maybe,” Smolder said, swallowing as she glanced back at Ocellus, “Is the hive made out of crystal, like this place?” She reached over behind one of the potted plants, prying off a little chip from where she’d been whittling the wall down without the teachers noticing, popping it in her mouth.

Ocellus looked on perturbed as the piece of the building crunched between the dragon’s powerful jaws. “Uh... I... I don’t think it’s the kind of crystal you want to eat?” she said weakly.

Smolder gave a little cackle, “I’ll be the judge of that...”

Sandbar narrowed his eyes, “Smolder, how would you like it if some creature threatened to eat your home?”

Smolder raised a brow, “Considering most dragons live in caves filled with gemstone deposits? It’s not like it’s something we don’t already do...”

“Smoldeeerr!!” Ocellus whined.

“Fine, fine! I’m just pulling your claw!” She rolled her eyes, mumbling, “I’ll just take a little bite...”

WOOHOO!” Silverstream burst out of her room, now actually wearing her jacket and saddlebags, despite the fact that they weren’t leaving until morning, “CHANGELING HOUSE PARTYYY! NO RULES!

They heard the thundering of cloven hooves as their Yak friend bounded out to join them with a lampshade over one horn, “YONA WANT ATTEND CHANGELING HOUSEPARTY! YONA SHOW CHANGELINGS HOW TO SMASH!” In her excitement, she promptly bucked the air behind her, which happened to be the location of another potted plant, which was promptly destroyed. “NO RULES!!” she roared.

“YEAH!” Smolder pumped her fist in the air, eyes practically sparkling at the chaos she’d created.

Gallus guffawed, Sandbar facehooved, and Ocellus just let out a sad, buzzing whine.

It took them a while to calm down, and reassure Ocellus that, no, they weren’t going to destroy the Hive, or even break any rules while they were there. (although, Smolder refused to make promises she couldn’t keep when it came to taking a bite out of the wall) After that, they decided to get to bed: it was late and they’d need to get up at sunrise if they wanted to make the eight-thirty train without rushing through breakfast. They all said their goodnights, and tried to get some sleep, despite the anticipation of the next day trying to wind them back up.

Author's Note:

Here ya go, start of the Hive Arc...

This chapter, like every other I will be publishing, was available early in unproofed form for anypony who pledged at least a dollar on Patreon. Patreon subscribers help me focus on this stuff, so consider tossing mena dollar if you like my writing and want to see me do it more.

Comments ( 56 )

I'm really excited to see where this story will go!! So far, I'm super interested. I'll keep an eye out :twilightsmile:

9507790
Glad somepony's watching! I was a bit confused when no one was commenting on this chapter...

9507805
I don't know if it was the case for everybody, but the notice that the story had updated didn't show up in my favorites thing here on the site. If I didn't also get email notices, I would've never known the story updated.

9507871
Ok, I was noticing some odd stuff with the update, so I'm guessing there was a glitch in it or something. Hopefully the next chapter will see more interest.

9507790
And speaking of the next chapter, I'm loving Smolder as a vehicle for some sadistic humour here. You'll probably enjoy that...

9508640
Did you, at any point after publishing the chapter, un-publish it for any reason and then re-publish it?

9511284
Yeah, that's what happened. I think I was aware of that issue, but I wasn't thinking about it. Next time I'll try to remember to make a new chapter...

Every time I see the title, I just hear these lines between the Chief and Cortana from Halo 4:
"Ready to get back to work?"
"I thought you'd never ask."
It's like when you hear 'pony' or something in public, and you're suddenly hyper-aware of the conversation.

9521432
So, like, the original title was "Do you really wanna know?" and every time I tried to write, the song "Do I Wanna Know?" by Arctic Monkeys started playing in my head.

Can’t wait for the next chapter! :pinkiehappy:

9543235
Me neither: I've had it sitting 90% complete on Google Drive for a couple weeks now, sadly.

Never really though about a political twist story for the Young Six, you got my attention right off the bat! :twilightsheepish:

The interactions between the Young Six here are golden, especially for my fave orange dragon girl. Looking forward to the start of these international field trips next chapter! :pinkiehappy:

9553798
I'm looking forward to it too, seeing as it's been sitting mostly written for the past few weeks. And it's not just a political twist, because I'm going to be digging into character study while the politics plays out around them.

9553952

Now I'm even more interested!:pinkiehappy:

9624650
Yeah, I was getting ready to finish my rough draft of the next couple chapters and post them on Patreon, and then I got sick and have had trouble keeping up with everything

9627297
so, one month later, what's the sitrep

9684753

Everycreature was settled in on the train car when the door to the next car opened, and headmare Twilight stepped in.  She pulled a smile for them, just as she’d been practicing, silently willing her hooves to not shudder.

Ok, stay calm, this is just a field trip.  Just do the flash cards. You’ve got this...  She took a breath, pulling her hoof up to her chest, then exhaled, letting it fall away.  Ok, breathe in, breathe out, good... 3.  2. 1. Go.

“Good morning everycreature!” she called cheerily to the car, “I hope you’re all settled in for the next few hours.  It’s a long way to the Changeling Hive, and I’d just like to take a moment to go over things one more time...”

Some of the students rolled their eyes, but they all listened quietly all the same.  After all, they’d heard this multiple times already, but she’d been taking it so seriously that they were afraid of what she might do if a student made her uncomfortable.

She pulled out some flash cards, and began to read.  “When we get there tonight, we’ll be having dinner. Once that’s through, we’ll be shown to some guest accommodations they’ve set up with the help of friendship ambassadors Spike, Starlight, and Trixie, who will meet us there.”  She flipped to the next card, taking a deep breath and getting a bit more stern, “Anycreature who goes against the rules on these field trips will be subject to disciplinary action, and possibly involved in the nasty legal proceedings which come with an international incident.  Just in case, I’ll go over the big ones again.”

She started on the next card, “We are here to learn, not to judge.  Do not insult the changelings or their culture, and do not attempt to impose whatever conflicting values you have on them.  Remember, they are in the middle of a transition from violently repressive military-dictatorship to peaceful anarcho-monarchism, and are still working out the norms of their society.  Don’t try to pick holes in whatever they’re trying out.”

“Most importantly, do NOT bring up their history as an aggressor, and especially don’t talk to them about anything they may or may not have done during an invasion or other military action.  I am stressing that last point. Friends don’t pry friends about their past mistakes. Does everycreature here understand that?” She looked around for a moment. She’d gone over this a few times, so she assumed she’d culled out any of the students who weren’t willing to put aside whatever prejudices they had in favor of learning.  Satisfied, she flipped to the next card.

“One last reminder.  Sections of the lower hive, such as their living spaces, will be off limits.  Anycreature who tries to sneak down there without a changeling escort will be banned from future field trips.” she glanced over at Ocellus, “Once again, Ocellus is the only student who this doesn’t apply to, but she doesn’t count as an escort, so don’t bother trying to guilt her into it.  We’re about to be the first large group of visitors in the home of all the changelings, and we need to respect their security.”

She glanced at the last card before setting them aside, “Other than that, pay attention during scheduled activities, be polite, and don’t make messes without offering to help clean up.  Wait until the end of presentations to ask questions. If the changelings aren’t comfortable answering a question, don’t press it. We’re all here to learn. Keep an open mind, and an open heart, and everything will go just fine.”  She smiled, looking around, “Any questions?” she barely stopped herself from flinching as a teal hoof shot up, “Yes, Patty Peppermint?”

“Do you think the Changelings will like this hat?” the teenaged pegasus pointed to the her hat, which was made to resemble a shiny green beetle, “Ocellus said it was cute a few weeks ago, but now I’m wondering if it might be offensive to them.”  Around her, other students began to question their own accessories.

Twilight internally thanked Celestia that the question was aimed at making friends with the changelings and not whether they’d have to worry about being eaten: she’d already told a few students not to come after getting those kinds of questions.  “I don’t know. Ocellus? Do you think they’ll like it?”

Ocellus nodded, “Oh, definitely: changelings wear insect shells as accessories all the time.  Honestly, we’ve had so much exposure to pony culture, unless you’re wearing anti-changeling propaganda, or anything which references... um... our former queen, we won’t be bothered.”

Peppermint beamed, knowing that her hat was still cute.  Nearby, Maple tried to hide his sudden realization that he REALLY shouldn’t have packed his “Stomp Chrysalis!” EUP Merchandise hat without asking Ocellus first.  He quietly reached down to his bag, making sure to shove it all the way to the bottom.

“Any other questions?  No? Alright. That’s one down.  Just three train cars to go.” She started walking down the aisle.

9690057
no, i meant "are you good to update now?"

9690062
That was your answer.
By posting that, I was trying to clarify that, yes, I have stuff, no, it's not ready to post. I hope to release a draft to my Patreon followers this weekend.

9691897
oh
sorry for the confusion

OMG!!! Am big dumb. I had no idea the sequel was out. :facehoof:

9812216
Sadly, it's seen a lot of delays, and we'll probably get cut down drastically with its more interesting stuff cannibalized for another project I haven't yet been cleared to announce my involvement in, but I hope to have the Changeling arc proofed and released over the next couple weeks...

9812253
released over the next couple weeks, huh?

9812253
so, what's the problem this time?

9921674
I posted a blog about this. Pretty much all of the time I have to do Pony stuff for the past 2 months has been devoted to that big fan episode project on which I took up the lead writer position. I've already decided to cut this short after finishing the part that I've mostly drafted, but don't worry, most of the stuff that was going to be novel about this is going to be in The Magic Continues, so it's not a total loss.

9922504
if it's not gonna be updated, mark it cancelled
don't fuckin give me hope by leaving it incomplete

9922540
It's got chapters that I started writing but didn't finish. I plan to release those when I have the time to bring them up to my standard of quality, which should be soon.

I just now got around to reading this. :twilightsheepish: I'm just glad it hasn't entered the void of cancelled.

10023191
I might do what I did with DiN and post the next chapter for community proofreading: it's been sitting on my Patreon for a while...

10023201
just heckin post it
we'll point out errors in the comments

10077687
When I say proofreading, I mean editing: it's a bit of a mess.

It's after HarmonyCon now, so I can dedicate my pony time to this.

I don't know why I didn't read this earlier. Onwards, Ever Onwards!

Shame this story's dead

10113662
As I've said, I have a bit more written, but it's pretty much been cut down to a minimum, and taken a backseat to The Magic Continues.

Erm I do have one question before I read but after the events of your last fic in this arc and with galluses breakdown as he was crying and the fact he told them he was at the school because no Griff in the entire country would care why would you bring that up second on the visit it would work better at the end because over the time they spend learning about the others culture they would grow closer in there bonds meaning they can be there for gallus and he can truly accept even to a small degree they care for him more then he knew where's at the second stop it seems like he's going to blow up in anger again which could cause dire circumstances if he ends up in a fight with other Griffin's and he loses himself in anger and gets hurt or his friends get hurt

Oh also can others enter this universe your building up it has potential to be amazing

10119039
When I get around to drafting the end of them and proofing them. Like I said, The Magic Continues is annihilating the already spotty time I have for ponies...

10120241
I'm having a HUGE amount of trouble understanding you, because you didn't put in punctuation, but it looks you're trying to ask me where I'm going with Gallus here.

This was the original planned ending, which is now scrapped
Over the course of the story, Gallus starts to understand where all of them are coming from, but he still doesn't know why they would care about him, and in fact, seeing their homelands makes him feel less sure. The final trip is to Griffinstone, where everything sucks, and they basically learn the really dark reality of what growing up as an abandoned child in a failed-state is like, and why the griffins can't seem to keep a stable society together.

Silver runs off to try and find some way to show him that they really do care: when Gallus finds out, he tells the others to get their guards and rushes off to go save her, because Griffinstone is really dangerous. Silver gets chased and cornered by Gallus's old gang, then he shows up to have a brutal claw-fight with them all at once. Rainbow and Flash arrive just in time to see Gallus go down in a bloody heap. As the Rainbow and Flash fight off the gang, Silver cradles Gallus in her arms: he tells them he's not important like they are, that they have so much more to live for, and that he loves them, and dying for them is the best he can do with his life. Each of them says how they feel about him, then he blacks out, making you think he's dead.

Gallus wakes up later in an infirmary they've set up in Gilda's house, surrounded by the others. A week later, Rainbow gives Twilight some paperwork, to which she is surprised and calls Gallus to her office: it's papers for Rainbow to adopt Gallus as her son.

That was the gist of how I was going to end this, but it's scrapped now, because of stuff that happened in Season 9 that I wanted to incorporate, and then The Magic Continues happened, so I don't wanna be spending time writing a series-endcap while I'm already writing for a series-continuation project. Like I said, I'd like to come back and wrap this up some time, but The Magic Continues takes priority for now.

10121604
Ah neat though I'm actually writing a background story on gallus continuing the fic why don't they want me written by rated pony star can I incoperate gallus being apart of a gang at a young age into it it has a huge area for plot potential and goes with a line setup and idea I have to show just how bad it was for him growing up just asking

10121604
And yes I was on about gallus lol

10121610
Please learn to use punctuation before you write anything like that. No one's going to be able to read it if you don't have periods and commas.

10121650
I do use them when I write I just need to get into the habit of using them all the time. Also is that a yes I can use the gallus in a gang growing up idea?

Are you gonna continue this

10378392
As I've said, I have an ending to this arc written, and will post the notes explaining what I was going to do with this before I dropped it for bigger and better projects.

10395757
So like, this was a whole discussion I had with some other authors a while back...

Sandbar is intentionally written to be bland.

It's not that he's not a unique and good hearted individual, but like, look at some of his quirks. Talks like a surfer dude? Tells boring stories as if they're riveting? Misses the point a lot? Tosses his mane a bit? Not even a unicorn or pegasus? None of these things are particularly interesting. If you compare him to any other character, they've got something that makes them more interesting. Meanwhile, Sandbar is grouped with 5 of the most off the wall characters on the show.

The point of Sandbar isn't to be a super-interesting character, it's to be this bland foil for the exchange students. He's a boring generic every-pony to make it clear just how out of place the exchange students are, and to give some level of grounding to them while also providing their group with a member who understands Equestria.

I don't think he's a bad pony. On the contrary, he's a perfectly good pony. But in the sense of being purposefully uninteresting, he's the worst pony.

10401674
is this story ever gonna update?

10401674
Poor sandbar he's been getting a lot of hates for no apparent reason for it just because he's an earth pony and if stereotypical surfer dude he makes him the worst pony 😕 and I feel like it's because of Vincent Tong I feel bad for the guy he plays a character but then always ending up the character that people hates

so uh
this ever gonna update?

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