• Published 24th Oct 2020
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Pride and Joy - Melody Song



When Thorax finds a young orphaned nymph, his life changes in a way he never expected. But he couldn't be happier.

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To Change A Brother

Thorax sat on his oak throne, smiling as he looked around. The nymphs had fully recovered from their injuries from the cave in, ready to reform, and the remaining eggs had hatched. The Hive was truly growing since the great change. To prove it, Thorax need only look at the little nymph currently bouncing between the foreleg rests on the throne, giggling.

“Papa Thorax, Papa Thorax, lookit!” the lime green nymph cried, smiling as he sprang from one ledge-like foreleg rest to the other.

“Heheh, good job Apex, be careful now.” Thorax warned.

Apex laughed as he sprang again. However, this time, he caught onto the ledge with his forelegs. He shrieked, though still smiling, his back hooves scrabbling on the wood as he tried to haul himself up. Apex lost his grip and fell to the ground with a thump.

“Apex! Sweetie, are you okay?” Thorax stood up, leaping off the throne to lower down and nuzzle him.

Apex giggled as Thorax nuzzled his stomach, batting at the alpha changeling’s muzzle with his little hooves. “‘M ‘kay Papa Thorax!”

“Heh, okay.” Thorax lifted up the little nymph, cradling him. “But be more careful next time, okay?”

“O’ay Papa Thorax.” Apex said, climbing onto Thorax’s head.

“Thorax!” a snarling voice came from a hallway.

Thorax sighed and turned to face the voice. “Yes Pharynx?”

“What’s all this stuff about a gardening club? As if we need any more disgusting-smelling plants around here with a Maulwarf on the prowl!” the unreformed changeling growled, stalking up to Thorax.

Thorax trotted to him with a kind smile. “Don’t worry Pharynx, the gardening club will be started after we lead the Maulwarf away as planned.”

“Oh yeah, because that dumb plan’s totally going to work.” Pharynx rolled his eyes. “Don’t be so idiotic, brother! The Maulwarf will just come back!”

“It won’t, Pharynx, don’t worry.” Thorax said, but could tell Pharynx didn’t look convinced.

“Yeah right.” Pharynx muttered.

“Pharynx, aren’t you going to say hello to Apex?” Thorax asked, trying to change the subject.

“Why would I?” Pharynx asked, looking up at the nymph perched on the monarch’s head.

“He likes seeing you Pharynx.” Thorax said.

“Why would he?”

“Cause you’re the bes’est warrior o’ the Hive!” Apex exclaimed, smiling widely.

“I know I am. And you’re a grub.”

Apex tilted his head. “Wha’?”

“I don’t need to say hello to him.” Pharynx said to Thorax. “He knows I’m here, that’s enough.”

“Come on Pharynx, I think you should get to know him.” Thorax said

Pharynx rolled his eyes, buzzing his violet wings to take off. “Or I could not do that. I’m going to patrol.”

“Alright Pharynx.” Thorax said, sighing as Pharynx left.

“Papa Thorax?” Apex leaned forwards on Thorax’s head to look at him. “Is Pharynx really your brother?”

Thorax sighed again. “Yes Apex, he is…”

Apex shifted to lie on Thorax’s head more comfortably. “Then how come he an’ you aren’ the same?”

“It’s… complicated, Apex.” Thorax sighed. “He and I were raised differently, that’s all. Our mother bred him to become a warrior, making sure he trained under the top General, and… and I was shunned by her. So we grew up together, but we gained different views of the world.”

Thorax then fell silent, waiting for Apex’s reaction. He was worried Apex might react badly to hearing him mention Chrysalis.

“Oh… okay Papa Thorax.” Apex hugged one of Thorax’s antlers. “Bu’ you think Pharynx’ll like me one day?”

“Heheh, I’m sure he will sweetie.” Thorax promised as he made his way back to his throne.

“Good.” Apex said, smiling.

“Why do you need him to like you?” Thorax asked, sitting down in the throne again and levitating Apex off his head, setting the nymph between his forelegs.

“I wan’ him to teach me!” Apex said, bouncing up and down. “Like how he shows the o’er nymphs to growl! Bu’ better, I wan’ him to show me e’erything he knows!”

Thorax chuckled and nuzzled Apex lovingly. “I’m sure he will, my little hyper sprite.”

Apex smiled and hugged Thorax, then his nose wrinkled. “Two new scents an’ Pharynx.” he reported.

Thorax beamed as he nuzzled Apex. “Good job Apex, you smelled those scents from pretty far.”

“Uh-huh!” Apex cuddled against Thorax. “Bu’ I don’ rec’nize the scents wi’ Pharynx…”

“Hm…” Thorax looked up, just in time to see Pharynx dragging something behind him. “Well, here comes Pharynx, so let’s just see if you’re right.”

Apex smiled and cuddled up to Thorax, laying down against the bigger changeling’s forelegs. Pharynx dragged a large bag past a few changelings, getting their attention. Pharynx dropped the bag in front of Thorax’s throne, snarling.

“I found these trespassers outside the Hive.” Pharynx snarled, opening the bag to let two unicorns tumble out.

“Starlight! Trixie!” Thorax stood up, Apex clambering onto his back. “It’s alright Pharynx, let them go.”

“But they were lurking on our territory!” Pharynx objected “In the Old Days I would’ve drained them of their love by now.”

“And that’s why they’re called the Old Days,” Thorax said serenely, placing a hoof on his brother’s chest, “Because they’re in the past. We don’t do that anymore, Pharynx.”

“I liked the Old Days better.” Pharynx huffed, barging past Thorax.

Thorax sighed and turned to Starlight and Trixie. “I am so sorry about that.”

“You better-”

“Oh, it’s fine!” Starlight said chipperly, using her magic to shut Trixie’s mouth. “But I thought Ember helped you get more assertive to deal with all the rogue changelings.”

“She did! Ember was a great help.” Thorax said, smiling.

“So then who’s that?” Trixie asked, pointing to Pharynx.

“Well… I was able to convince them all to change… except Pharynx… my brother.” Thorax sighed

“Your brother?” Starlight asked

“Yep. Pharynx is my elder clutchmate.” Thorax explained, wincing slightly as Pharynx pounced on a pile of moss and flowers nearby, tearing them up.

“Oh yeah! You guys have the same… eye shape…?” Starlight tried

Apex giggled, and Pharynx looked up, spitting out the vines.

“What a ridiculous comparison.” He said, stalking away. “We are nothing alike.” he sneered

“You don’t have to pretend that we’re similar. We know we’re not.” Thorax told Starlight, watching Pharynx go.

“Um, yeah, I have a question.” Trixie said, looking at Pharynx and shuddering slightly in fear. “If he’s still unreformed, why is he not… hungry…?”

“Oh, well, back when I lived in the Crystal Empire, I learned that chocolate tastes just like love, and it’s also sweet enough to fill us up.” Thorax explained. “Since Twilight’s been helping with showing the Hive more of Equestria’s innovations, the chefs learned how to make chocolate. Everyone loves it.”

“So… Pharynx eats that instead?” Starlight asked

Thorax nodded. “He may not like the new ways, but he also knows otherwise he’d starve without ponies to feed on. So he does eat chocolate to get nourishment.”

“Chockit’s good!” Apex added, giggling. Starlight gasped softly upon seeing him.

“Aww! Hello little one! What’s your name?”

“Apex!” he replied cheerfully. Thorax chuckled and rubbed the nymph’s head. “Hehe! Papa Thorax!”

Papa Thorax?” Trixie asked, and Thorax blushed.

“Apex started calling me that, and now all the nymphs and a few of the adults use it. They say it’s because I act more like a father than a king.”

“An’ cause he’s like my papa!” Apex added, unfurling his red wings to fly up and nuzzle Thorax.

“Heh, Apex hangs out with me a lot.” Thorax explained.

“Oh, is he… is he an orphan?” Trixie asked

Thorax nodded, taking Apex into his foreleg and cradling him. “I’ve been looking after him since the Great Change, when… when it happened.”

“So he’s like your son. That’s so sweet!” Starlight smiled at Apex

“Heh, yeah…” Thorax smiled, liking the idea of Apex being his son. “But between my normal duties, overseeing the plans to lead away the Maulwarf, and taking care of Apex, I haven’t had much time to talk with Pharynx.”

“Why can’t you just leave him be? I mean, he’s not hurting much, right?” Trixie asked, flipping her cape.

Thorax sighed. “Pharynx used to be the Head General in the Old Days, but now that we’re peaceful there’s nothing for him to do. So instead he just stalks around making everyling miserable. The other ‘lings are all sick of it, and unless I can get him to accept our new way of life, all the progress we’ve made is at risk.”

“An’ I wan’ Pharynx to transform so he can teach me!” Apex jumped down and jumped onto the moss Pharynx had been tearing up. “‘M gonna be his ‘prentice an’ he’ll teach me to figh’ an’ e’erything!”

Apex then began rolling in the moss like he was fighting an enemy. Starlight and Thorax both giggled.

“Apex really wants Pharynx to teach him…” Thorax sighed “But there’s no way Pharynx would agree to… maybe he would if he reforms…”

Crack!

“Ah!” Thorax looked around, and saw Pharynx had kicked a hole in the wall. “Pharynx! Stop doing that!”

“The Hive looked better with holes.” Pharynx muttered, breaking a rock in half and hissing at a nearby changeling before leaving.

Apex giggled and ran over to the hole, rearing up on his hind legs and hitting the area around the hole. Thorax sighed, watching the nymph with a sad expression.

“Hm… I think we might be able to help with that.” Starlight said

“We can?” Trixie asked, and Starlight nudged her. “I mean, of course we can!”

“You would?” Thorax asked

“Of course Thorax! We can handle this.” Starlight said, smiling.

“Well… alright.” Thorax said, walking over to Apex and scooping him up. ‘Thank you both.”

“The Great and Powerful Trixie needs no thanks!” Trixie announced. “Come on faithful assistant. There is a changeling in need of us.”

Starlight rolled her eyes but followed her anyway.

“Good luck!” Thorax called, holding a squirming Apex.

“Papa Thorax, I wanna fin’ Pharynx!”

“Heh, later, sweetie.” Thorax nuzzled him. “Why don’t we go get you a snack, okay?”

“Okay!”

A little while later, Thorax had returned to the throne room and was sitting with Apex, watching the nymph eat a cookie. Starlight and Trixie suddenly trotted up.

“Oh, there you two are. How’d it go with Pharynx?” Thorax asked

“Er… your brother is… interesting.” Starlight said hesitantly.

Thorax sighed. “That bad, huh?”

“Unfortunately.” Trixie muttered

“Would you like to talk about it?” Thorax suggested “You can come with me to the Feelings Forum, if you want.”

“The Feeling what now?” Trixie asked

“Heh, come on, I’ll show you.” Thorax nuzzled Apex. “You want to come, Apex?”

“Nu-uh, I wanna s’ay here!” Apex said, plopping down on the throne. “‘M gonna be king for you t’day.”

Thorax chuckled and nuzzled him. “Okay sweetie. Be good, and come get me if something’s wrong, okay?”

“Mhm.” Apex nuzzled Thorax in return, then he headed off with Starlight and Trixie.

The throne room was mostly quiet after Thorax had left, and Apex soon grew bored.

“I won’er wha’ else I can do… Papa Thorax’s king stuff is borin’… ooh, a bug!” Apex sat bolt upright as he saw a cricket hopping past.

Giggling, Apex ran for the cricket, trying to catch it. He followed it through the Hive, dodging the adult changelings that he passed by. He was so focused on the cricket that he didn’t notice where he was going. Until he crashed into someone.

“Oof!”

“Hey! Watch where you’re going, grub!” a familiar gruff voice said

“Pharynx?” Apex stepped back, forgetting about the cricket. “Why’re you ou’side?”

“I could ask you the same thing, why aren’t you with my brother?” Pharynx asked, looking into the distance and walking away from the Hive.

“He wen’ to the Feelings Forum an’ I didn’ wanna.” Apex walked after Pharynx. “Where ‘re you goin’ Pharynx?”

“I’m leaving.” Pharynx replied

“Why?”

“Doesn’t matter.”

“Is i’ cause wha’ Papa Thorax sai’ ‘bout o'er ‘lings bein’ sick o’ you?”

“Oh yeah, like he isn’t sick of me too.” Pharynx muttered

“He’s no’!” Apex bounced around in a circle around Pharynx. “He loves you, he sai’ so! An’ you gotta s’ay so you can teach me e’erything you know! I wanna be a good figh’er like you!”

Pharynx rolled his eyes. “I’d rather not get talked about for helping you because they think I’m teaching you about the Old Ways.”

“Bu’ I wanna learn…” Apex said softly

Pharynx sighed. “Grub, I-”

There was a sudden rumbling, seeming to come from the ground. Apex looked around, noticing they had gone a while away from the Hive. Pharynx’s eyes narrowed.

“Grub, hide.”

“Wha’?”

“Just trust me!” Pharynx lowered into a battle stance.

Apex ran to hide behind a rock, just as a giant Maulwarf broke through the surface. Apex yelped and watched with wide eyes as Pharynx unleashed a battle cry and launched himself at the beast.

Back at the Hive, Thorax was talking to a few changelings with a worried expression on his face. Apex hadn’t been seen in a while. Starlight and Trixie then raced up.

“Thorax! Pharynx is missing!” Starlight exclaimed

As Thorax turned to face her, the changelings nearby all cheered.

“Wait for it…” Trixie said slowly

“And the dread Maulwarf is coming this way!” Starlight finished. The changelings all screamed and began panicking.

“Told ya.” Trixie snarked

“What?!” Thorax exclaimed “Oh no… have either of you seen Apex? I can’t find him.”

“You don’t think he’s with Pharynx, do you…?” Trixie asked. “I mean, apparently he left, and no one’s seen Apex…”

“He did want Pharynx to train him… oh no, he probably wandered off looking for him!” Thorax lifted off, wings fluttering. “We have to find them, who’s with me?”

Thorax was greeted with silence. He sighed and looked away. Starlight rolled her eyes and stepped forwards.

“Oh, sure, you could all stay here, not help Pharynx and he won't bother you anymore. It's your choice.” Starlight began.

“Starlight, where are you going with this…?” Trixie asked, but Starlight ignored her and continued.

“But remember when you didn't have a choice! When you were forced to obey Chrysalis! You might have been unstoppable, but you weren't free to choose! And now you are, because of Thorax! Well, his brother and his son are out there! Now is your chance to prove you're just as strong embracing love as you were feeding on it! It’s your time to show what changelings can really be! Not because you have to, but because you choose to!”

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“That was an amazingly epic speech, Starlight.” Trixie said dramatically. “I just can’t believe not a single changeling was moved by it.” she finished snarkily.

“Focus you two, we need to find them!” Thorax said

Crash!

“What was that?!” Trixie shrieked

“Come on!” Starlight raced forwards, Thorax and Trixie fast behind.

“Pharynx!” Thorax cried

Pharynx was battling the Maulwarf. He looked up when he heard Thorax.

“What are you doing here?!”

“I’m here to save you!” Thorax said, looking around. “Where’s-”

“Papa Thorax!” Apex poked his head up from behind a large rock.

“Get out of here!” Pharynx shouted. “Take the grub and let me handle this!”

“We’re not leaving you!” Starlight protested

Apex yelped as Thorax snatched him up and cradled him. Trixie lifted up the rock he’d been hiding behind and tossed it, nearly hitting Pharynx. Pharynx performed a midair somersault to avoid the rock, growling at Trixie. Starlight fired magic at the Maulwarf, which didn’t affect it.

“I thought you said you could beat this thing!” Starlight shouted to Pharynx.

“With the rest of the swarm! Not alone!” he shouted back, as Thorax backed up, cradling Apex.

“Apex, sweetie, why did you run off?” Thorax asked

“I was jus’ followin’ Pharynx!” Apex said

“Look!” Trixie pointed above them. Changelings were charging over to the Maulwarf.

Thorax set Apex down and nuzzled him before taking off to hover beside Pharynx. Apex whimpered and backed up, crouching low. The changelings continued trying to pin the Maulwarf. Thorax and Pharynx were thrown back, and Thorax groaned.

“It’s no use! We’re out of practice and he’s too tough!”

“Ugh, too bad it can’t fight itself.” Trixie muttered

Apex screwed his eyes shut. “Tha’ Maulwarf looks really tough, bu’… fight i’self! Tha’s i’!”

“Papa Thorax!” Apex reared up. “The story! ‘Bout Pharynx makin’ you hi’ yourself!”

“That’s it!” Thorax and Pharynx said as one, grinning at each other.

The other changelings stepped back as the two brothers began to trick the Maulwarf. They even went as far as taunting it. Apex giggled and cheered from on top of a rock. Together, the brothers drove the Maulwarf back into the ground, Pharynx causing it to bite it's arm with a teasing hiss.

“Papa Thorax, you did i’!” Apex ran for Thorax, who scooped him up and nuzzled him. He then turned to Pharynx.

“What were you doing out here, Pharynx?”

“Leaving. I’m done with all of you.” Pharynx muttered

“Then why bother fighting the Maulwarf?” Thorax asked, smirking slightly.

“Well, I couldn’t just let it attack you!” Pharynx snapped.

“But I thought you didn’t care about us.”

“The Hive is the thing I care about most.” Pharynx growled

“Well you certainly don’t act like it.” Starlight pointed out. Pharynx rolled his eyes.

“I’m sorry if I don’t get excited by flowers or Feeling Circles-”

“Feelings Forum.” Thorax corrected

“Whatever. Doesn’t matter. Even if I do care about the Hive, I obviously don’t have a place there anymore.” Pharynx muttered. Thorax reached and lifted his chin, smiling softly.

“You do have a place in the Hive, Pharynx.”

“Yeah!” a changeling spoke up. “We were wrong, just because the Hive is a gentler, nicer place, it doesn’t mean we won’t ever have to defend ourselves.”

“Clearly.” Trixie added, looking at the hole the Maulwarf had gone into pointedly.

Apex smiled and jumped onto Pharynx’s back, giggling and nuzzling him. “I wan’ you to s’ay.”

The changelings around them all called out in agreement. Pharynx looked around, surprised, but a soft smile growing on his face. Apex flew back to Thorax.

“Y-You all want me to stay?”

“Unless you still want to leave the Hive.” Thorax replied.

“Why? I love the Hive.” Pharynx replied, smiling.

They all gasped as a warm pink light enveloped Pharynx. He was lifted up and wrapped in a glowing pink cocoon. It split open midair, revealing Pharynx again. But this time, he was different, with cyan chitin, a violet carapace, red antlers and tail, and lavender eyes.

“Pharynx!” Apex said, recognizing him by his personal scent of a Meyer lemon. Pharynx smiled softly, approaching. He hesitated, looking at Apex, then spoke.

“I did want to teach him… I just thought everyling would think I was being a bad influence on him…”

“You don’t have to worry about that now.” Thorax assured him

“Yeah… I guess I just got a bit worried about you kicking me out when I heard those two plotting to tell you you had to banish me.” Pharynx added, glaring at Starlight and Trixie. The two mares blushed and shied away sheepishly.

“Well, lucky for us, you weren’t a lost cause.” Thorax said, smiling.

“Lucky for me, you wouldn’t give up on me.” Pharynx replied

Apex giggled and jumped over, hugging Pharynx around the neck. Pharynx chuckled and hugged him back.

“So doe’ this mean you’ll teach me?!”

“Of course grub, we can get started right away.” Pharynx replied, smirking. “After all, I’ve got to carry on the tradition of the current General teaching the next one.”

Apex gasped and beamed, hugging him.

“Sooo…” Trixie began, getting their attention. “Glad everything worked out…”

“Yeah!” Thorax said, then his smile dropped, and his eyes narrowed. “Let’s talk about how you not only attempted to lead the Maulwarf to the Hive, but also drove my brother away from it!”

Trixie backed away, and Pharynx chuckled, giving Apex a quick nuzzle.

“I have to admit, part of how I was acting was me getting him to use his new assertiveness.” Pharynx whispered to Apex, who giggled.

“Really?”

“Yep.” Pharynx then raised his voice, carrying Apex closer to Thorax. “Hey, you guys want to hear about how I used to make Thorax hit himself?”

“Oh yes, absolutely, right now!” Starlight said, smiling sheepishly as she sat down.

Pharynx chuckled and began the story, Apex still cradled in his hoof. Apex snuggled down into Pharynx’s grasp on him, smiling.

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