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Private A Cultural Exchange (1x1 with Skylight Scintillate)


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OOC Thread: 

 

@Skylight Scintillate

Things had been complicated for a while, it seemed that every other week there was some big event, and just some time prior a hive of changelings had decided to not only go public, but to 'reform' as if there were something wrong with what they were? At least Hive Cheshire stayed true to what they were when they stepped into the light, but Hive Cheshire was only a few dozen changelings living out of a theater building. This new hive...

Siren sighed, she didn't know what to think about it, her Queen was concerned, and had advised that everyling keep their distance from these 'reformed' changelings until more was known about them. Yet here she was, about to write a letter to one. She had entered into the Cultural Exchange a few weeks prior on the advice of her Queen, who thought it would be a good way to give her some experience outside Manehatten, maybe meet someone who could advance her singing career, get her ready for a tour. She was far from the only member of Hive Sleipnir to enter the exchange, and those who had finished their exchanges said it was a great experience.

So why was she so nervous?

She had gotten her acceptance letter just the day before, announcing that she had been paired with a reformed changeling named Larynx, and she was instructed to write the first letter of introduction. She brought up the issue with Mimir, her Queen's chief advisor, who reaffirmed that she should continue, "Getting close with one of these reformed changelings will help us better understand them. You're in an important place." He had said. So, all that remained was for her to write, to start this off, and see where it would go.

 

Dear Larynx,

Hello! My name is Siren Song, I'm an amateur solo vocalist in Manehatten, though I hope one day to be as popular as Hexcomb or Shy Bluff. I have a sea blue coat with a seafoam green mane and tail, and my cutie mark is a whole note symbolizing my skill in holding long notes. I can't say I've heard much about reformed changelings, much less met one before, so I hope you'll forgive my curiosity. What's it like to be a reformed changeling? What makes you different from regular changelings?

I look forward to meeting you, and I hope to hear back soon,

~Siren

 

She let out a deep breath, it wasn't a long letter by any means, but it would have to do. Hopefully it would be enough to get things started at least.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Larynx would receive a notification from the Cultural Exchange program stating his acceptance and informing him that he had been paired with Siren Song, a young earth pony mare living in Manehatten. It would instruct him to watch for a letter from her and to respond in kind when it arrives. He would receive receive Siren's letter three days later.

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(edited)

@Illiad Easle 

In the span of a few short weeks, everything Larynx thought he knew about his changeling hive had been thrown into question. Chrysalis planned a massive invasion to take Canterlot by dealing with anypony that could possibly oppose them. However, she didn't account for Starlight, who along with her friends, overthrew Chrysalis and introduced the magic of friendship to everyling. Something about giving love freely instead of taking it, but Larynx still felt a bit confused about that part. The only thing he remembered was a warm fuzzy feeling flowing out of his heart when all the other changelings did the same thing and suddenly, he became reformed. 

However, now that the changelings were friends with each other and didn't need to actively feed on the love of a creature, Larynx started pondering several questions. For one, who was he exactly? He spent so much time in disguised form pretending to be some pony he wasn't that he never really thought about his own personality. Did he even have a personality?  Most recently, he remembered being a farmfilly earth pony, a tomcolt flightless pegasus filly, and a unicorn filly that loved singing; Three separate personalities that seemed to be in stark contrast to each other. 

In addition, what was the hive in general supposed to do now? They couldn't exactly maintain their old ways of manipulating ponies for their love, but completely abandoning their own culture seemed to be a betrayal of who they are. Should they adopt pony culture? If so, how much? And which parts? King Thorax seemed torn about what to do; That is, until a flyer mysteriously appeared in the hive. It mentioned exchanging different cultures, which peaked both Thorax's and Larynx's interest. Larynx saw it as a great way to discover himself while Thorax saw it as a way to learn more about pony culture and figure out which parts to adopt. Since both changelings reached an agreement about it, Larynx signed up for the program, promising to send back notes to Thorax about what to do.

A few days after getting his acceptance letter, he got a letter from Siren Song. Larynx spent a while trying to think of a good reply. 

 

Dear Siren, 

Nice to meet you, Siren, My name is Larynx, and I'm a reformed changeling. I like singing too, I think, but honestly, I'm not really sure. I signed up for this program trying to figure out who I am because honestly, I'm not really sure who I am or what I like. I have a sky blue body with teal accents. I don't have a cutie mark but I wish I could get one. As a reformed changeling, I would say that we are no longer interested in sucking the love out of creatures like a regular changeling. I find it intriguing that the program would even give changelings a chance and that I would be paired with a pony given that ponies are so scared of us, but we promise that we won't harm them now that we are reformed. What about you? Tell me more about what your culture is like.

Best regards, 

~Larynx

 

Larynx sighed as he sent the letter back. He wasn't sure exactly what would happen next, but he was sure that things would never be the same for him or his hive.

Edited by Skylight Scintillate
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@Skylight Scintillate

Siren was anxious from the moment that the letter entered the mailbox, to the moment that the response got passed through her mail slot in Hay Tower. It nearly affected her performance that night , but she managed to compose herself enough to get through her set without issue. Still though, she spent at least an hour staring at the letter in her comfortably windowless apartment before she even dared to open it.

Once the seal was broken she read it quickly, then slowly again, then even slower a third time. She was relieved to see that he wasn't angry at her for her questions, in fact, he seemed a little sad, lost. She sought out Mimir for insight.

"So far as we've been able to discover, these 'reformed' changelings come from the missing remnants of Hive Chrysalis, perhaps their time in isolation after the failed invasion caused them to lose the true way?"

"Should I reveal myself? Speak of true changeling culture in my letters?"

"No, the letters could be intercepted, we can't risk that information getting out, not so soon after another incident. The ponies are already on edge despite the efforts of Hive Cheshire and Novel Tale. Broach the subject of meeting changelings, but keep yourself distinct for now. We'll treat them as we would any potential friend of the hive for now."

 

Guidance obtained, Siren set about responding,

 

Dear Larynx,

I'm very happy to make your acquaintance, and I'm glad that you're willing to keep writing. From what I've heard many exchanges don't make it past the first few letters, I hope ours will last. I'm personally not surprised that the Exchange accepted you, ever since the war they've been working hard to bridge the gaps, show the regular creatures on both sides that the other side is not so different. Hopefully this can be a continuation of that trend, a stepping stone to help your kind be more accepted? It may come as a surprise, but I have met changelings before, I even consider some of them to be friends. Maybe you'd like to meet them? They don't seem like what you described normal changelings to be like, and, well, they're different colors from the ones that attacked Canterlot, so maybe that means something? 

As to your question, I don't know if culture is something that can really be expressed just through words, it is something to be experienced, but I'll try. Ponies are a very united group, very often you'll see ponies going out of their way to help others, because we understand that together we are stronger than apart, and that helping any member of the herd serves to benefit the whole community. It's not as strong in a big city like Manehatten as it would be in a smaller town like Ponyville, but it's still present on the smaller scale, you'll often see the residents of a building or a block gathering together as a small community within the larger community. 

So, as a reformed changeling, can you still change your form? If so, couldn't you give yourself a cutie mark? Apologies if that's insensitive, I don't want to overstep after all.

~Siren

 

The letter written, sent along, Siren just had to wait for the response, this time with more curiosity than anxiety.

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(edited)

@Illiad Easle 

The few days between letters seemed to drag by and fly by simultaneously for Larynx. When the letter arrived, he practically ripped it out of the mail stallion's hooves. He read the letter quickly the first time, then slower the second, then even slower the third time.

This Siren pony definitely knew more about changelings than she would say directly. He recalled that Siren's last question in the first letter was asking the difference between reformed changelings and regular changelings, suggesting that she already knew a lot about regular changelings. Then, in this letter, she said that she was friends with regular changelings, which answered the question Larynx had from the first letter, but raised more questions. All the changelings he knew were black and were from Chrysalis' hive. Could it be possible that there were other changeling hives out there? Part of him wondered how blunt his questions should be in his letter back to her.

 

Dear Siren, 

I'm glad you are interested in this exchange program too. However, the letter you wrote raises a lot of questions. I haven't heard of any changelings other than the ones in my hive. How do you know they are changelings? Did they reveal themselves to you? If so, why? If not, how are you so sure and why are you friends with them? What are they like? I'm definitely interested in meeting them though. If they really are your friends, maybe they could teach my hive a thing or two about what it means to be a changeling. 

About pony culture, I find it quite similar to changeling culture at my hive. Chrysalis has always pushed for changelings to do what is best for the hive as a whole and while Thorax has pushed for changelings to be more independent and allowing them to do their own things, changelings still really like to help each other. It seems like the only consistent part of our personalities these days... And for the part about ponies helping each other, well it seems to be the case because the Elements of Harmony, united as a group, managed to stop Chrysalis and help us realize how we were negatively affecting ponies with our ways. Also, I think I'm a really big fan of Princess Twilight Sparkle and Fluttershy.

As a reformed changeling, I can still change my form. In fact, some of the changelings in the hive have been messing around pretending to be different ponies in their spare time. I could give myself a cutie mark, but what would it be, a ladybug? At times, it feels like I don't even have a consistent personality, much less a special talent. Maybe this cultural exchange would give me some ideas though.

Best regards

~Larynx

 

Larynx sent the letter along. Now, he was very curious to see how Siren would answer his questions.

Edited by Skylight Scintillate
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@Skylight Scintillate

Reading Larynx's letter made Siren sad, concerned for the changeling she was writing to. How could he not know about all his second cousins? She had heard that Queen Chrysalis was very self-isolated even before the wedding fiasco, had she kept her changelings in the dark about the rest of their race? The thought of being so isolated, so alone, broke her heart. She just wanted to give him a big hug, and tell him that everything would be alright.

Dear Larynx,

I wish I could do more to help, you sound so lost, lonely, in your letters, but forgive me if I misinterpreted. Per your questions, most of Manehatten first learned of changelings as a result of the Canterlot Wedding, there was a lot of distrust going around as so many ponies accused their neighbors and friends of being imposters. I myself was accused, but luckily there were very few violent outcomes before things settled back down. It was during that period that my friends revealed themselves, they trusted that I wouldn't react negatively and knowing that about them has only strengthened our relationship. Hopefully they think the same of you, I'll ask and see if they're interested in sharing some things with you when you come visit. There's more I could tell you but they don't want me sending too much information by letter. After the most recent event there is a resurgence of negative sentiment towards changelings.

I'm glad to read that you enjoy pony culture, I was hoping that you'd be able to mesh well with it. While I can't say I've ever met any of the Elements in person, I have been by the boutique that Rarity built here. I can't afford what she sells there, but they're pretty to look at all the same.

Per giving yourself a mark, a mark is meant to symbolize who you are, a sort of culmination of self-actualization. If you think a ladybug encapsulates who you are then go for it! Plus, you could always change it if it doesn't suit you later, you at least have that benefit. Otherwise, maybe take a bit and think about who you are on the inside? I'm not a psychiatrist by any stretch, but my vocal instructor always taught me that the self shines through from within, and sometimes you have to dig down and find it before you can really be true to yourself.

Anyway, I hope to hear back from you soon, maybe we can start planning when and where we'll meet up? What's it like where you live?

~Siren

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@Illiad Easle 

Now that he was looking forward to Siren's reply, the few days seemed to drag by. Most of the changelings mostly milled around, not really doing anything. It seemed like most of the changelings were still confused about the concept of friendship, but there weren't really any ponies that were willing to help (other than Siren perhaps). There were also talks about rebuilding the hive, but no changeling seemed to agree about what it should be rebuilt as.

Larynx practically ripped open the letter when it arrived. He read it multiple times as per usual, slower each time. Reading the first sentence of Siren's reply warmed his heart. 

 

Dear Siren, 

Thanks for your reassurance. I don't exactly feel lonely, but I certainly feel confused about who I am. I'm definitely looking forward to meeting your friends though. Maybe they would be able to help me too. That's really brave of your friends to reveal themselves to you like that. I wish I had that kind of bravery sometimes. 

Yeah I actually quite like pony culture. Almost too much at times, it seems. A lot of the changelings are debating about how much pony culture we should adopt. The younger changelings seem to be more open minded to copying everything pony and distance themselves from the recent incidents, while the older changelings argue that we need to stay true to changeling culture and anything less would be a betrayal of who changelings are. As for me, I'm stuck in between, because both sides have valid points. 

As for my cutie mark, well I still see myself as a changeling and I'm not sure if having one specific cutie mark might be too pony. Also, I think I'll wait a bit to find out a bit more about myself first. 

I live in a pretty rocky hive that got pretty damaged in the fight that defeated Chrysalis. Changelings are still debating about the rebuilding process so we haven't started on it yet. Plants have started growing inside though. Changelings are trying to adjust to their new lifestyle and the way they handle emotions and interact with each other and such. It's all very weird. Maybe it would make more sense if we met where you live in Manehatten. What do you think?

Best regards

~Larynx

 

Larynx sent the letter along. He hoped that he wasn't being too audacious by suggesting that he meet at her place.

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@Skylight Scintillate

Siren was relieved to hear that Larynx wasn't lonely, but was still sad to hear that he wasn't sure about his own identity. Still though, as excited as she was to be doing a cultural exchange, she wasn't exactly enthused about the idea of spending some time in what sounded like a ruin filled wasteland, she was a city-ling through and through.

Dear Larynx,

I hope that I'll be able to help you, even if it's in a small way, to find yourself. I also hope I'll be able to help you figure out which parts of pony culture you like and which parts you don't. There's no worry in wanting to come here first, it sounds like there isn't much to see over where you are, or rather, you'll be bringing everything worth seeing along with you! I'm kidding of course, I'm sure your home is beautiful in it's own way, and I look forward to when I'll get to see it.

As to when you can come here, I've scheduled a break in my performances starting next week, Let me know how soon you can be here and I'll make the arrangements as to where you can stay, then we'll go from there.

~Siren

 

She sighed as she prepped the letter for delivery, there was no going back now, soon he would be here, and they'd see if all his nicety were just words, or if he were just as kind and curious in person. She wondered what all she should show him, besides introducing him to the hive of course, she should still make some effort towards introducing him to pony culture after all.

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@Illiad Easle 

After reading Siren's reply several times, slower each time, Larynx wrote his reply.

 

Dear Siren, 

I can travel to Manehatten any time you want. Again, there isn't much going on here with the changelings having no idea what they are doing.  In addition, there's some frequent train service direct to Manehatten nearby. Just send me the date and I'll be there. As for traveling to Manehatten, is there anything I should bring? What should I expect or prepare for? And where should we meet? Maybe like a local park or something?

Best regards

~Larynx

 

Larynx sent the letter along. He was excited to start packing for Manehatten, but he wasn't sure what to expect in such a large city.

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@Skylight Scintillate

Dear Larynx,

Well, if you want to wear clothes while here you should bring enough to last a week. It's a little chilly this time of year so I'd recommend a scarf if you have issues with cold. Money is always a good idea, but no worries if you don't have any, the Exchange Service said they'd help cover costs. If you need to eat anything that a regular changeling or pony wouldn't you'll need to bring it along as while you can get pretty much anything in Manehatten, I wouldn't want to put it to the test.

Other than that, you should be good to go, taking the train is especially convenient, I can meet you at the train station and we can go from there It sounds like you should be hard to miss, but I'll try and put myself somewhere prominent in case you see me first. I'll wear a bright red scarf to help you find me. Lets have you come this Monday, that should give enough time for you to get a letter back confirming the time before you arrive.

I'm very excited, but also a bit nervous, I can't wait to meet you in person!

~Siren

 

(I won't make you write a confirming letter if you don't want to)

Assuming Larynx confirmed, the next Monday Siren would be waiting, bright red scarf around her neck, propping herself up against a light pole to better see over the crowds coming and going from the station. Whatever hour Larynx told her, she'd be a the station an hour earlier. She wondered as she waited exactly how long it would take him to recognize that she was also a changeling. Given he didn't know about other hives, did he simply not know how to detect other changelings?

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@Illiad Easle 

After checking the schedule of the trains at the station closest to the hive, Larynx wrote a reply saying what time he would arrive. He realized that he most likely didn't need to bring anything other than the bits he had. He didn't have much anyways, and changelings (at least the ones in Chrysalis' hive) weren't really into owning things. They always thought it was too pony culture anyways. 

Given that most ponies still seemed to be skeptical of changelings, Larynx opted to travel in disguise. He went to the train station as a sky blue unicorn colt named Lyric. Thankfully, nopony seemed to notice anything off and the train ride went smoothly. 

When the train arrived in Manehatten, Larynx was blown away by the sheer scale of everything. For one, the train station was huge, and really crowded too. No wonder the train station was called the busiest train station in Equestria. The sheer amount of feelings flowing around was almost enough to overwealm him, but thankfully, not needing to take in any of the emotions around him helped. Part of him wondered how he was going to find Siren in a crowd like this, so he just followed the crowd off the train. For the first few minutes, he wasn't able to see anything that looked like Siren from the crowd. However, just when he thought he wouldn't be able to find her, he saw her with a red scarf standing on a light pole. Something seemed off about her though.

"Hello, you're Siren right?" Larynx asked, carefully trying to detect her feelings. The results confirmed his suspicions.

"Oh, nice, I'm Lyric-ahem- I mean, Larynx. I see I'm not the only one in disguise here," he said, whispering the last part.

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@Skylight Scintillate

Siren was surprised when she was approached, first because Larynx was disguised, and second because she could detect emotions coming off of him, sure it was fainter than a regular pony's but they were still present. Nonetheless she smiled and lowered herself from the light pole, sighing as he finished his statement, "Right out the gate eh? Let's get you settled that we'll figure out where we want to start. If you've got questions feel free to ask as we walk."

Siren would lead the way out of the train station out to the main thoroughfare of the city, the place was positively packed with ponies of all kinds heading all directions, there was even the occasional griffon in the mix. Siren pointed out one of the towers with a big H on the side, "That's where we're going, Hay Tower, as that's where I live. Don't worry though, I've got a shortcut." She led the way into a storefront near the train station called Azul Shell Corp. where she approached the attendant, the store seemed to exclusively sell blue shells of all shades, "Hey Shelly, here's that colt I was telling you about, the one from the letters."

The attendant got up from her seat to get a better look at Larynx, she was a teal pegasus mare with a shell cutie mark, "Him? He's a bit more visible than I expected." She waved at Larynx, "Pleasure to meet you all the same, I'm Seashell Seashore, but you can call me Shelly. First impressions, what do you think?"

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@Illiad Easle 

Larynx was a bit surprised by what he blurted out himself. First, part of him had a feeling that Siren could have been a changeling with the way she kept referring to her changeling friends in her letters, it was something else for him to be face to face with her and confirm that it was true. Second, he was surprised he had the audacity to call her out for it in the middle of a crowded train station. Fortunately, nopony seemed to notice.

Larynx had quite a few questions to ask Siren, especially about being a changeling, but he realized it wouldn't be a good idea to ask them out in public. 

When they got to the Azul Shell Corp Larynx glanced at Shelly, trying to figure out if Shelly was one of the changeling friends Siren was referring to. When Shelly made the comment about him being quite visible, Larynx glanced at his hoof. He felt like sky blue might have been a bit too bright, but he could have sworn he saw plenty of ponies with similar shades of colors on the walk over to the store. Larynx did his best to try to answer Shelly's questions.

"Are you talking about Manehattten in general, or this store? For Manehatten in general, well it's a very large city. The buildings are so tall yet so narrow. And there is just so much going on in general. It seems astonishing how many ponies there are in one place. For the store, well I'm a bit confused: What's the reason for this store selling blue shells and only hsells that are blue? Is this some form of fashion statement, or does the color have a specific purpose?" Larynx asked.

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@Skylight Scintillate

Larynx would be able to tell that Shelly was also a changeling, and she seemed to be friendly to Siren, but there was no telling if she was one of the friends mentioned in Siren's letter.

Shelly chuckled when Larynx looked himself over at her 'visible' comment, "I meant that I can sense your emotions, which isn't typical for a changeling, you look fine."

14 hours ago, Skylight Scintillate said:

"Are you talking about Manehattten in general, or this store? For Manehatten in general, well it's a very large city. The buildings are so tall yet so narrow. And there is just so much going on in general. It seems astonishing how many ponies there are in one place. For the store, well I'm a bit confused: What's the reason for this store selling blue shells and only hsells that are blue? Is this some form of fashion statement, or does the color have a specific purpose?" Larynx asked.

Shelly smiled, "I was referring more to the city, but I appreciate your interest in my shop. As to why it only sells blue shells, well, it's a pun! This place is a shell corp, both because it serves as a front for something else, and because it literally sells shells. Being specific on the color reduces the number of interested, and allows me to have the prices high enough that the tax collectors don't question the amount I claim to earn. Primarily though this is an entrance into the secret tunnels, they'll get you to the tower and skip the traffic. Just head on back, I'm sure Siren is eager to get things moving."

Siren smiled, "You have a good day Shelly, I'll be sure to bring him back by later."

Shelly waved as Siren led the way into the back, through a door that led to a hatch, revealing a smooth tunnel that had clearly been dug by changelings. As they were out of sight of the public eye Siren shed her disguise in a wave of cobalt fire. her changeling form was the standard black chitin, but her back plate, head fin, wings, tail, and eyes were cobalt blue rather than the light blue that Chrysalis' changelings had. She spread her wings to hover over the hole, "Well, down we go."

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(edited)

@Illiad Easle 

"Oh," Larynx laughed, flustering slightly while trying to hide it. "Yeah I noticed that too. Ever since my hive has reformed, I have been able to sense the feelings of the other reformed changelings almost as though they were like any other creature. I think it has something to do a change in the way we perceive and collect love," Larynx explained to the other two. 

Larynx was blown away when Shelly revealed an underground tunnel dug by changelings. "Wow, so this is how changelings are able to get around conveniently. I guess it would make sense a city as large as this. Part of me wonders if ponies would start digging their own tunnels to move themselves around in the future. Maybe if they ran trains through them, I don't kinow..." Larynx rambled.

When Siren shed her disguise, Larynx decided to follow suit. He figured if the tunnel lead directly to the changeling hive, it would be better to appear as a changeling. His changeling form had a similar color scheme to the disguise that he went with: Standard sky blue chitin, but a dark blue back plate, orange front plate, pink ears, wings, tail, and eyes. Dispute being a teenage male changeling, he looked a lot more like a young female changeling.

"Sure, lead the way," Larynx said has he followed Siren.

(This is what Larynx looks like.)

Spoiler

Larynx.thumb.png.7b255d3a1b8c33f374f255ec4179fbca.png

Base by Quartziie

 

Edited by Skylight Scintillate
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@Skylight Scintillate

Siren looked surprised at Larynx's undisguised form, "Ah, you look very different from a normal changeling, I can't say I expected it. I haven't met any other reformed changelings before, so I'm sorry if my comments offend."

She looked unsure, then shook her head, "Never mind, lets go."

Siren led the way through the tunnel, which was illuminated every do often by glowing chucks of cobalt changeling amber, giving everything a blue tint. They didn't run into any other changelings as they went through the tunnel, though as they passed some of the cross tunnels they'd be able to see some in the distance. The tunnel changed as they traveled, the closer they got to the town center the wider it got, the rough sides gave way to smoothed walls, then tiled walls with mosaics depicting famous ponies from the city's history. Eventually they arrived at a large area that resembled the train station, just with no trains. There were lots of cobalt changelings here, though there was a scattered number of other colored changelings, like orange, amber, and hot pink, but they were the clear minority. Not all of them were undisguised, but it was clear to Larynx that no one in the area was not a changeling. There were hundreds of changelings here, and many of them had their eyes on Larynx, most of the expressions were curious, if not cautious, and they all gave the pair a wide berth as they passed, entering a structure that extending into the ceiling above and getting in an elevator.

Siren sighed once inside, "I'm sure they'll come around eventually. Don't worry about it." She put her disguise back on as the elevator ascended, "We'll be at my room shortly, what do you want to do first?"

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@Illiad Easle 

Larynx was fascinated by the underground network of tunnels that Siren was leading him through. He glanced around almost as much as when they were on the streets up above. Everything felt so new to him. The hive he lived in his whole life didn't exactly dig tunnels in the ground like this. When they reached the large cavern area filled with changelings, Larynx flustered significantly. He didn't like the feeling of so many changelings watching him, and what was worse was he couldn't even tell what their feelings were. He was relieved when they reached the elevator and Larynx put on his disguise from earlier.

"Oh my gosh, where do I even start? So uh, what's it like as a changeling here? What do you do? What does your hive do? Do the ponies in Manehatten know anything about you changelings? What was with those changelings that weren't black back there? Wait, you should probably show me your place and where I will be staying first..." Larynx rambled on the elevator ride up, not quite sure where to start.

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@Skylight Scintillate

Siren smiled at Larynx's questions, "It's alright, I don't mind answering while we wait. I'll answer the easy ones first, than the more complicated ones once we get to my room."

"The changelings that aren't the same colors as me are changelings from other hives. Each hive has it's own coloration owing to the emotions that they were fed with in the cocoon. This hive feeds primarily off of Awe, Satisfaction, and Smug, so we're Cobalt Blue. Each hive has it's own focus so there isn't an issue when we overlap."

"The ponies in general know very little about us, and we prefer to keep it that way. There are a few ponies, friends of the hive, that have been allowed to learn more after demonstrating their willingness to learn and accept us, and not attack on sight."

The elevator dinged, and Siren stepped off, leading the way through the hall to her room, 2113, and holding the door open for him to enter. It was a small, windowless, apartment with just the bare necessities, though the walls were decorated with posters depicting her own performances, as well as newspaper clippings talking about her. "I hope you don't mind, but the couch is super comfortable, the cushions are filled with gel, so it can easily be set to whatever temperature you prefer, but if you'd rather a bed... well, we'd just have to get you a room for the time you're here. It'll just be less convenient as we won't be in the same apartment."

"Anyway, as to what I do, I am a singer, so my job in the hive is Cultivator. My job is to encourage the emotions we want to collect in the ponies of the town so that the Harvesters can take it back to the hive to be distributed to everyling that needs it."

"As to what the hive does, well, we survive, we thrive here, we build up the town so that the town can provide the emotions we need."

"As to what it's like as a changeling here, well, I've never been a changeling anywhere else, so I don't have much of a reference to answer that. I think it's nice. We're free to follow our passions, and our jobs are assigned based on what we want to do, rather than the opposite. For instance, I wanted to be a singer, a performer, so I was made a cultivator. If I wanted to wait tables then I would probably have been made a harvester. Though there aren't always enough who want to work the pits, so we take shifts there and our Queen rewards us when we volunteer for more time there."

She looked thoughtful, "Could you tell me what it was like for you? I get the feeling that our experiences growing up are less similar than we might hope."

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@Illiad Easle 

Larynx was relived when they finally arrived at Siren's room, away from the eyes of ponies or changelings, his tense posture relaxing a bit. He looked around at Siren's room as he sat down on her couch. While it wasn't as impressive as many pony places he had seen before, it was quite impressive to Larynx that a changeling would have their own room. What he paid particular attention to were the posters of her songs on the walls. It seemed that Siren had developed an identity for herself, which Larynx lacked. 

"I think that this couch would be comfortable enough, and I don't mind sharing a room with someone else," Larynx replied as he got a felt for the gel with his hooves. 

"Let's see, before the reformation, all changelings looked identical. And up until the reformation, ponies didn't really know about us either. Well I mean, I guess Twilight did... We didn't exactly have individual rooms like you do. All the space in the hive is considered communal, but some areas are designated for sleeping, so it's mostly up to each changeling to claim their own space to sleep every night. After the reformation though, many changelings have taken to sleeping a pile next to Thorax to passively feed off of his love for his subjects though. Some of the younger changelings have taken to cuddling with him despite the fact that Thorax is one of the younger changelings himself," Larynx explained.

"As for how Chrysalis ran the hive, well he had the ultimate authority over every changeling. She had very strict assignments for what we were supposed to do and which pony we were supposed to imponyate without regards for what each changeling is predisposed to. Also, we didn't exactly create our own characters, we usually imponyate some pony that Chrysalis knows is receiving a lot of love. I've lost track of the times I had to imponyate a character that doesn't come naturally to me. You see, Chrysalis has a very rigid way of running the hive and anything that deviates from that is wrong in her mind. We usually end up both cultivating and harvesting the emotions from the ponies we manipulate, and for her, any method of doing so, as long as it met her quota, was fair game," Larynx explained, tensing up significantly as he explained what Chrysalis did.

"However, after the Elements of Harmony paid our hive a visit, we stopped imponyating other ponies and manipulating others. The problem is, this is basically the only thing we know how to do. Nowadays, we basically stay in our hive like a bunch of recluses, scared of what ponies think of us now. At the hive, many changelings roleplay as a bunch of different ponies while wrestling with their identity, really confused about who they are. Finally we all follow Thorax around a lot, trying to passively feed off of his love, but it usually just ends up annoying him, especially since he has no idea what to do," Larynx explained. "So yeah, that's basically a summery of what life is like at my hive."

"Anyways, I'm curious, what's your queen like?" Larynx asked.

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@Skylight Scintillate

Siren looked sad as Larynx described his history, but she politely waited until he finished and asked a question of his own before responding.

"That's... well I can't imagine being happy living like that. Though there are still some similarities, it's not uncommon for hives to have communal areas, the hive in Whitetail woods works like that, but that's because those who have their own identities can't easily work out of the hive. Here those who have identities that work in the city get a room because we own the whole building, and no pony wants the windowless interior apartments. I like it because it reminds me of the spaces in the hive proper, where we slept as we were growing up and learning how to exist in pony society. I'll have to show you it some time. I can't imagine my Queen sharing a bed with anyone, well maybe her sister, they've always been close, but not like a regular changeling like me. It just seems... uncouth?"

She shook the thought from her head, "Anyway, I guess my Queen isn't much like how you described Chrysalis. While she does have the ultimate authority, she'd only ever use it against our will if it were absolutely necessary. For instance, she forbid any of us from participating in the Summer War even in a logistical sense, though exceptions were made for medical services, but that was to keep us safe, and to keep us from having to fight other changelings. Otherwise, we're free to do as we like, so long as it does not endanger the hive. We have a good stockpile of food saved, so it's alright if it takes us some time to figure out who we want to be and how we want to contribute, and she's always willing to help, through her advisors and councilors, in any way she can."

Her expression shifted to concerned as she continued, "I also find it sad that so many of you struggle with identity, I was taught from a young age how to develop a ponysona, I went through a few different ones until I found this one," she gestured to herself, "It just felt... right. 'An outward representation of the true being within' they said, a proper disguise is almost a truer representation of yourself than no disguise at all, because out of everything you could possibly be, you chose that, every flaw deliberate." She sighed, "Maybe it would help your hive to get some teachers that could walk them through the process of self discovery?"

She shrugged, "I won't force anything, and I hardly have the authority to send anyone, but I could bring it up with Mimir, the chief advisor, and they could organize something. Oh! I could also ask him about you getting to meet Queen Sleipnir, if you want to that is, there's always the chance that we'll run into her at some point anyway, she often walks the tunnels of the central areas when she's not busy."

"So, do you have other questions? Or would you like to see some things? Meet some ponies or changelings?"

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@Illiad Easle 

"Yeah just about every changeling had something they really disliked about Chrysalis. And while I guess it would make sense for hives to have most of their space be communal areas, what I'm saying is that in Chrysalis' hive, the whole hive is communal. One of the debates the changelings are going through right now is whether the sleeping areas should become personal spaces for each changeling. However, some of the changelings argue that having things such as an identity and personal space is too pony culture. Also, I'm sure you figured this out by now, but Chrysalis never told us about other changeling hives for some reason," Larynx explained. 

"Also, if any changeling tried to figure out who they were or anything else that wasn't related to gathering love for the hive, Chrysalis would gaslight them, claiming that they were being selfish and that the priorities of the hive should come above anything else. Usually, that changeling would disappear a few days after that. So yeah, a lot of changelings at my hive have no idea who they are. Do changelings have to develop a ponysona of sorts to find their personality and such? I mean, what if I want to find out who I am but I don't feel like becoming a pony? " Larynx explained, his expression shifted to disappointed, but it shifted again to hopeful at the question at the end.

"I think that having this hive's teachers help my hive would be helpful; I'll send a letter to Thorax. Also, I do have a few questions. You kept mentioning your changeling friends in your letters. You actually have friends, right? Like, not just something you made up as an excuse to why you knew so much about changelings without admitting that you are a changeling yourself?" Larynx said, giving Siren a jokingly skeptical look. "And I would be interested in a tour of this hive. I suppose it would make sense to meet Mimir, Sleipnir, and your friends. Hey, do you have any friends that are ponies? Who do you interact with most frequently? And can you show me how you cultivate the emotions you do? Sorry for all the questions," Larynx asked.

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@Skylight Scintillate

5 hours ago, Skylight Scintillate said:

Do changelings have to develop a ponysona of sorts to find their personality and such? I mean, what if I want to find out who I am but I don't feel like becoming a pony? "

Siren looked unsure, "Well, there are changelings that disguise as griffons, or diamond dogs, or even minotaurs, but I get the feeling that that isn't what you mean." She looked thoughtful for a moment, "Maybe it's different for reformed changelings? But disguises are part of what makes a changeling a changeling, to try and be something without disguising... I think I'd feel incomplete, unfulfilled." She shook her head, "I'm sure a teacher would know better, but there are plenty of changelings who don't settle on one particular ponysona, rotating through a set as the mood strikes them, but I could never pull that off."

5 hours ago, Skylight Scintillate said:

"I think that having this hive's teachers help my hive would be helpful; I'll send a letter to Thorax. Also, I do have a few questions. You kept mentioning your changeling friends in your letters. You actually have friends, right? Like, not just something you made up as an excuse to why you knew so much about changelings without admitting that you are a changeling yourself?" Larynx said, giving Siren a jokingly skeptical look. "And I would be interested in a tour of this hive. I suppose it would make sense to meet Mimir, Sleipnir, and your friends. Hey, do you have any friends that are ponies? Who do you interact with most frequently? And can you show me how you cultivate the emotions you do? Sorry for all the questions," Larynx asked.

She was very happy for the rest of Larynx's questions, "Yes I do have friends, both ponies and changelings, though my pony friends don't know I'm a changeling. I'd be happy to introduce you to them and show you how I cultivate, likely even on the same night as they tend to come by whenever I'm performing. Mimir and Sleipnir will be a bit harder to organize, but I'm sure we can make that happen. Don't apologize for the questions, learning is the whole point of this exercise, and questions are a great way to learn."

She got up, "Well, we should get going, maybe get some food." She stopped, "You eat, like, regular changeling food right?" she sighed, "I mean, like a mix of emotion gel and food like a pony would eat? Or do you do something different there too?"

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@Illiad Easle 

1 hour ago, Illiad Easle said:

She got up, "Well, we should get going, maybe get some food." She stopped, "You eat, like, regular changeling food right?" she sighed, "I mean, like a mix of emotion gel and food like a pony would eat? Or do you do something different there too?"

In typical cartoon cliché, Larynx's stomach grumbled, which got a nervous laughter from Larynx. "Hehe, I guess I'm hungry after all. Yeah I eat regular food. Although you are going to have to explain this emotion gel thing to me. I haven't heard of this before. Uh, lead the way, I guess,"

(I'm not really sure what else to say.)

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@Skylight Scintillate

Siren looked positively shocked to hear that Larynx didn't know what emotion gel was, "What? No... you've got to be pulling my leg, really? Well, no wonder everyone needed to be gathering energy all the time if you weren't storing it away. Let's start there, back into the hive we go."

She walked with a new conviction, leading the way back to the elevator, pressing a special series of buttons to open an extra panel that listed out floors in the hive, where she then hit the second lowest level, which was indicated to contain food storage, among other things.

"So, I'll take you to get fed first, but then I'll show you where it's made so you get a feel for what you've been missing out on. I always thought it was an integral part of any hive, without gel everyone would have to be harvesters, which it sounds like that was exactly the case for you. I don't know if we have love specifically gathered, but I'm sure we can find another emotion you'll like."

Once they passed the ground floor Siren dropped her disguise again, "Oh! another thing I wanted to mention," she held up one of her legs to show the holes in it, "While most changelings look identical superficially, every changeling has a unique arrangement of holes, the Whitetail hive uses that as a sort of key system, but it just wouldn't be practical here. Anyway, that's one way you could tell if a changeling was pretending to be another changeling."

Soon enough the elevator arrived at the floor, which seemed to be built like a warehouse, large shelves full of wooden barrels all marked with different emotions, the majority of them marked Satisfaction, Awe, and Smug. Though there were plenty of barrels of all different emotions. There weren't as many changelings here as there had been in the room they first arrived in, but they were still attracting glances. Siren marched up to a nearby desk, where a gruff looking changeling was going over some paperwork, he cracked a smile all the same when Siren approached, "Hey Magni! How're things here?"

The gruff changeling chuckled, "Busy as always, who's your friend there?"

"That's Larynx, he's a reformed changeling. We got paired up in the Cultural Exchange and Mimir thought it would be a good idea to have him showed around to see how our hive works. Speaking of," she pulled out a card and showed it to Magni, "Mimir gave me this so we could get places I don't normally need to be in. Now, Larynx tells me he's never had emotion gel before, can you believe it? I figure it's been long enough."

Magni also looked surprised, "Never? I find that hard to believe, but alright." He turned his attention towards Larynx, "What can I get you? City like this we've got just about every kind there is. What's your preferred emotion?"

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@Illiad Easle 

"Yeah I guess Chrysalis didn't mention that either. Chrysalis didn't mention a lot of things, actually. It's like the more time I spend here, the more I find out how awful she is and all the things I have been missing out on. You know, you would think that with the way she preaches about the priorities of the hive is the most important, she would have mentioned this, but she didn't," Larynx said, rubbing the back of his neck with his hoof.

Larynx didn't seem to mind constantly transforming between his changeling form and his pony form. While there still was that flame that engulfed him, it didn't exactly hurt. In fact, he remembered some changelings messing around with each other by seeing how fast they could transform between different disguises back at his hive. 

"Wait, changeling pretending to be another changeling? Are you saying that it's impossible to copy leg holes or something? For my hive, after we reformed, we are like a gazillion different colors, so we kind of started using that to differentiate different changelings," Larynx asked as the elevator descended into the basement.

When they finally arrived at their destination, Larynx looked around in awe. The place was huge, and there were so many barrels. Everything in this city just kept blowing his mind away. So much so that he almost didn't notice Magni. "Oh, do you have love?" Larynx asked, snapping out of his distraction.

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@Skylight Scintillate

18 hours ago, Skylight Scintillate said:

"Wait, changeling pretending to be another changeling? Are you saying that it's impossible to copy leg holes or something? For my hive, after we reformed, we are like a gazillion different colors, so we kind of started using that to differentiate different changelings," Larynx asked as the elevator descended into the basement.

Siren looked thoughtful, "Well, maybe not impossible, but it would be especially hard. Since the leg holes are actually holes, and you can't make a different hole through yourself with a disguise, while you could superficially look like another changeling they'd be able to tell if they tried to pass through the holes and they didn't line up with your actual holes."

She shrugged, "It's not like many even try, there's not much to gain from pretending to be another changeling."

18 hours ago, Skylight Scintillate said:

"Oh, do you have love?" Larynx asked, snapping out of his distraction.

Magni raised an eyebrow at that, then nodded, "Ah, that's right, you reformed changelings come from Hive Chrysalis, We don't keep too much love in stock as it can make the rest of us sick if we eat too much, too sweet, but I can have some brought down for you."

He flagged down one of the workers and relayed the order, who set off to get some love for him, "In the mean time, maybe you would like to sample some other emotions? Maybe you'll find one you like better?"

He pulled out a stack of jars from under the counter, the gel within looking like a jam or preserve in a few different vibrant colors. They had a slight glow to them and Larynx could detect the emotions coming off of them, pure and undiluted. He had with him the staples of the hive, which were different shades of blue, being Awe, Satisfaction, and Smug, and two others in an amber color labeled Simple Winder and Inspiration. (Each tastes different to different individuals so it's up to you what he likes or doesn't)

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