A hive mind, the early years.
There was a dark room, with only a table and a few chairs in it. The only things that were illuminating the enclosure by a single candle in the middle of the table and the vibrant rainbow colored mane of the royal mare sitting across from me. She had an air of peace and understanding about her, it was quite a relief to feel it, knowing what was about to happen.
I wasn’t exactly a saint during my time in Equestria, but I tried not to cause too much trouble. After all, a Changeling infiltrator’s prime directive is discretion. Yet, here I am, at the mercy of the rulers of this land. So much for that huh?
I shut my eyes, awaiting her judgment, one that never came. Instead, she asked, “How are you?”
I should have expected this, she was goading me into a false sense of security, and I’ll have nothing of it. I bit my tongue and remained silent. Much to my chagrin, she tilted her head and asked, “You do not wish to speak? I’m sorry if my presence here is frightening you, but rest assured, you are safe.”
Safe? All my life I was told that the dungeons of Canterlot held onto one such as myself for life, no mercy for those it deems a wicked. I looked away, only to be surprise that she was still staring at me. I frowned, there was no getting out of this was there? With a sigh, I said, “Fine… A little roughed up by your guards, but otherwise I’m fine.”
She frowned slightly at my words; concern crept up on her, but was swiftly replaced by compassion. If she really does have a problem with me being here, then she is doing a really good job of hiding it. She smiled at me and said, “It’s alright little one. You won’t be harmed anymore. I’m even willing to give you a pardon, right now.”
My ears perked up at the thought of a pardon, but I committed no crime. If anything, I stopped one! I was about to open my mouth to response, but she cut me off with a small chuckle, “But first. I have a few questions.”
And there was the catch, there always is. With a snort, I asked, “What if I don’t want to answer?”
I was a little smug when she remained silent, but I was caught off guard once more when she responded calmly, “Then you are free to go.”
“What,” I stammered, “But you just said you have questions…”
The White pony nodded with a smile, “I do, feel free to return to the castle if your ever want to answer them. I would certainly like to know more about the hero that prevented war between our kinds.”
My curiosity peaked at her statement. She knew about the incident then. That was a relief, it seems that my message got through, despite my incarceration. I smiled slightly before asking, “Surely you could have asked Princess Luna; She was there when I was hauled off.”
The Pony nodded once more, “Indeed, she was. I did ask her, but I wanted to hear your side of the story. Why you were there, and how you knew that that in particular Changeling was an imposter.”
I pondered a moment before asking, “Is the Queen alright?”
She nodded, smiling, “The Councilwoman gave up the real Queen’s whereabouts just after her disguise failed her. After your warning, we decided it would be best not to take any chances, you see. If you’d like, I can take you to her later, she’s still recovering.”
I looked down at the table for what felt like forever, before looking up at the Pony Princess once more, “I’d like that… But… Seeing as you’d learn a bit about this later, I guess it would be all right if I revealed some information about myself.”
The Princess beamed at me expectantly, it was a little unnerving… I think she wants me to start, but where? Unsure of myself, I decided to ask, “What would you like to know?”
She pulled out a small notebook and began rummaging through it for a moment before stating, “Would you mind telling me about your early life? What was it like in the hive?”
I grinned, that is an easy answer. I wanted to make sure she was satisfied, and soon too, so I began to spin a yarn about my endeavors that lead up to the best, and the worst days of my life.
It was near then end of the life of the last Queen Chrysalis, the one that came before my Queen. She had just recently given birth to a clutch of eggs, one of which was guaranteed to be her successor, the new Queen. Likewise, her name was to be Chrysalis, as was tradition for the hive for as long as we can remember. I was in one of those eggs, waiting to hatch.
After a length of time, one of them indeed hatched. It was male soldier. He was given the name Eakco. After Eakco, came our beloved Queen, the two were recorded to have set eyes on each-other almost instantly, forming the first mental bond the new Queen would make over her lifetime. But that moment was short-lived, as the new Queen was dragged away, she has to be taught how to be a good queen, and soon. Her mother was going to die soon after all. I was next, an Infiltrator by the name of Masquerade. Next, a female Scout named Oculus. And lastly, a male worker drone named Swift Shifter.
We were a motley group to behold, but we got by. Our status was slightly improved as we were of the Queen’s brood, but that was as far as our luxuries would go. We were given our own little piece of the hive to ourselves; emphasis on little, but Swift Shifter changed that after a while of digging. Ever since the day we could walk and communicate with each other, we all have various outlooks on life, and what our callings were. After about a week to adjust to life, we were separated for our respective fields of training, only together once more in the darkest of nights. I enjoyed my training; I had a good teacher, and an even greater training partner. His name was Pliskin.
The Princess interjected with a question, “What is the mental link, and how does it affect you all?”
I pondered that myself. What exactly is it? I tried to come up with the best answer I could offer, “Well… Most would akin the links to a Hive mind. All of our minds can share and pool information, whether it be warnings of potential threats, or to receive orders from the Queen and our Superiors. But it does have limits though, our range for the links are small individually. To expand it, we’d either need a lot of energy, or many Changelings in one area, otherwise, we would be alone with our thoughts.”
She jotted down some notes as I stifled a growl, “Carryon.”
I gave a sigh before continuing my story, this time picking up just a day before the end of my training.
For years all of us studied diligently, though none more-so the Eakco. We all knew of his desires to aid the Queen, but at the time, we didn't know why. To us it seemed unnatural.
Eakco sat up next to a wall, admiring his work; he was making a crude drawing of our Queen, much to our chagrin. He spent most of his free time doing that, and it was starting to become bothersome. Curious, I walked up to him and asked, “Eakco, what are you doing?”
He looked up at me, smiling, “Drawing our Queen. What else?”
I rolled my eyes; I should have expected that answer… I decided to rephrase my question and ask, “Is the Queen all you think about?”
Eakco was about to answer, or at least, try to answer, but Oculus entering our little abode interrupting him. She chuckled, “Is he still fantasizing about guarding the Queen?”
Eakco glared at Oculus and said, “No…”
I nodded silently as Oculus grinned, “At least his heart is in the right place. As a Soldier, it is his duty to live, to fight, and to die for her. As long as he keeps this in mind, he is sure to go far. It is something we should strive for.”
Eakco beamed as I snorted at her remark, there was a difference between idolizing, and obsessing. It was unbecoming of a Changeling. Something I wanted no part of. As I headed out the door, Pliskin was already there waiting for me, as usual. He smiled at me and said, “So… The Queen huh?”
I rolled my eyes once more as we headed for one of the many exits to the Hive, “Eakco being Eakco… He always was a little different.”
Pliskin merely shrugged, “At least he isn’t a Halfling.”
I nodded in agreement, “So, ready for the final exam?”
He gave me a confident smirk that I knew all too well. He already knew what the exam was about. I probably should have asked what it was about, but it was too late for that, the Instructor was already in sight.
A Guard interrupted my story as he came into the interrogation room, kneeling to address the Princess, “My liege, the imposter has been dealt with, and our… Guest is waking up.”
The Princess beamed and motioned for me to follow, “Come with me, I am certain she would like to see you, especially after what you did today. You can tell me more along the way.”
I nodded, relieved that the Queen was all right. I began to wonder what state she was in, the last time I saw her, she was going through a really sad phase in her reign. I hope she isn’t too badly injured.