Soon, my children. Soon, we shall FEAST!

"Owww… my head."

"You heard that too, 200234, right? It's not just another migraine?"

"Yeah, I just wish she didn't yell so much. I get it, she's happy."

"I can't be too mad at her, to be honest. My stomach's growling a lot louder than yesterday."

"Well, it's not your fault she got mad at the last prisoner telling her her mane looks like a torn, moldy tablecloth. We could have squeezed some more love out of him."

"What did she do to him?"

"The usual - the single digit warriors had some fun with him before she sucked him dry and then filled the mentally butchered body with eggs."

"Does that work? I thought our eggs needed at least ambient love to hatch."

"Apparently it does, since you're one of them. Either she's pretty bad at sucking, which would explain why she needed to use magic to gain affection of her Canterlot pony guard, or we don't know that much about our biology. I mean, both are pretty likely. From what I gathered our queen is the 'lay as many eggs as you can and hope for the best' type."

"How did she become a queen anyway?"

"Why are you asking me? I'm like two weeks old."

"Well, I'm ONE week old, and you're pretty much the only changeling to ever tell me something other than 'Get back to work!' or 'Your job is to obey. If you don't like it you can kiss the grinder on the way out!'."

"Uhh, what's a grinder?"

"Go tell that warrior his chitin looks moldy and that he handles his spear like pony you-know-what and he'll tell you."

"I don't speak high changeling."

"Do you speak punch?"

"I… think I'll cherish my ignorance."

"Anyway, the queen did sound more agitated than usual, maybe this time she's for real?"

"I don't know. Last time she promised us a good meal we swarmed some tiny village. There were like twenty ponies living there in total. It turned out the infiltrator who reported the situation didn't have access to the math part of the hive mind."

"Oh, what happened?"

"I recall it clearly as if it was just last week… because it was, actually. The queen woke the reserves from their dormancy, infused them with our little remaining love, and five thousand of us flew outside under the cover of darkness."

"That sounds like a massive waste of energy, especially when love is so scarce right now."

"Yeeeeeah. At first we thought we hit the wrong town, since there were like five buildings in total, but the infiltrator was adamant. A bit confused why we needed that many changelings for that operation, but sure of himself. When we landed, it was pretty clear that unless the ponies were exceptionally tiny or gods at playing yoga tetris with themselves, there was no way the projected amount would fit into those few houses."

"The queen wasn't happy, was she?"

"Noooope."

"The infiltrator got tossed into the grinder, right?"

"No, she just whipped him to death with his own tail still attached."

"Wait, is that even possible? I mean, it just reaches our back chitin."

"It… took a while, I met the drone who got to braid the tail for better whippage, though. He's sort of a celebrity now."

"How do you know all that anyway?"

"She made us watch the whole thing in the gathering cave. Three days of her furiously flapping his tail against his back plate. He fell asleep like three times despite her screaming, saying his legs hurt from all the standing up. In the end, I think he died of boredom, or burst bladder since, you know, he wasn't allowed to go to the bathcave."

"That sounds like an even worse waste of energy."

"Our queen isn't the smartest when things don't go her way."

Fly, FLY! Onwards to Canterlot!

"Well, 200234, this is our big moment. The capital city of ponies. We will never starve again. Next time I see you, I won't be just a drone 300548, but a warrior, maybe even with a triple-digit rank and my own herd of pony slaves."

He… she… it... buzzes off like the optimist it is.

"Is anyone else getting the idea that this is only going to make things worse?"

"MOVE, DRONE! Buzz those wings. We need ones like you to crash through that huge shield around the city."

"Why do you warriors like yelling so much?"

"BEST PART OF OUR CHARM, WORM!"

*Gulp.*

"Wait, did you say shield, as in hard… thick… thingy?"

"Definitely harder than your drone chitin, but with enough of you as fodder, we'll eventually break through."

"But I thought we'd just win and then munch some ponies..."

"I mean, I guess some of you drones MIGHT survive and enjoy some delicious pony love, not this ten times regurgitated minor affection we get served here."

My stomach rumbles just at the mention of that tiniest drip of food.

"I'm so hungry..."

"Then I have excellent news for you, drone."

"Really, you'll give me some for the road?"

Well, I tried.

"Hahahaha! Don't be silly. Take it like this, though. Whether you go splat against the barrier or you survive until the end, you won't be hungry tomorrow anymore."

"Hey, that's grea- waaaaait..."

"No, no more waiting. MOVE!"

He-

"Ouch!"

-smacks me with the butt of his rotting and rusted spear before buzzing off as well, mixing into the clouds of changelings leaving through the hive's skylights.

"...aand now he's gone too, smug bastard. Oh well, it's not like I have a choice..."

"...I just wish I could move my wings a bit better. So damn hungry. She could have fed us at least a bit before we leave the Badlands. I wonder how many of us will drop on the way to Canterlot..."

"Oh well, up and away!"

Flapping my wings, get off of the cold floor.

"Out of the way, worm!"

Someone very warrior-y rams into me from behind-

"Aaaaaa?"

-and I kiss the ground.

"Oww, damn it! You didn't have to bodyslam me from behind."

"True. That was entirely voluntaryyyyyyyy!"

"...holy moly, changelings are assholes..."

Goodbye, Badlands. Goodbye, starvation and misery! Tomorrow we dine in Canterlot!

The overwhelming buzzing grows distant.

"Wait… wait for me! My hoof got stuck when he knocked me from the air. It's kind of bent, but I can still shuffle!"

The constant whispering in my head accompanied by clicking of moving changelings goes unnaturally… quiet.

"He tore my wing too?! Damn warriors and their spiky carapaces."

"Anyone still around? If you carry me to Canterlot you can use me as ammo against the shield!"

My new answer is almost complete silence disrupted only by the faintest buzzing of wings.

"I'll take my chances rather than stay here! Because… you know… potential love."

Complete silence.

"Anyone? Badlands scorpions excluded."

"I want lunch too..."