|A Queen and drones.|
|Homeland||Varies by Hive|
A race of insect-like equine creatures, Changelings have black carapaces, webbed manes and tails, fangs, bent horns, and holes in their legs. Changelings feed off of emotion, the more powerful the emotion, the more sustenence and strength they gain from it. Love is perhaps the most powerful emotion, but Hate also serves. Their most unique ability is their magical transformation, which allows them to perfectly mimic the appearance, and often the full personality, of a target with whom they've spent a sufficient amount of time. This, combined with a nearly hypnotic allure, allows Changelings to get in extremely close to victims, often creating a dependency that the victims will never recognize before being completely enthralled, feeding the Changeling while serving it utterly.
Changelings can vary from one another as much as any insects. Various hives of Changelings have developed different structures, identities, methods of infiltration or negotiation. Several large hives have infested the Gryphon Kingdoms, creating an environment of perpetual clan warfare to feed off of the hate. Meanwhile, hives within the Badlands have taken to infiltrating pony society, replacing loved ones and feeding until their target is drained unto death. Appearances can vary from hive to hive. Changelings of different hives may have conflicting goals with one another as well.
The most common Changeling variety is the drone. These changelings are numerous, nearly empty husks serving as purely extensions of the Queen's will. As these drones feed, they develop personalities and traits which sometime reflect the emotions and personalities of victims they've drained. Whether this is simply due to the Changelings ability to adeptly copy their victims personalities, or a side-effect of imbibing their victim's emotional identity is unknown.
Drones who continue to feed on a regular basis may molt, becoming 'specialists' of a sort. These specialists take different roles within the hive, and often serve as advanced scouts, enforcers, assassins, or even ambassadors.
Some Changelings are singled out from birth to serve as a royal lineage, these Greater Changelings are born fully aware and independent from the hive. They are fed and raised to serve as the Queen's personal handmaidens, to eventually replace her or expand to begin their own hives. Greater changelings are extremely rare outside of the Hive.
At least one other subspecies has been seen which does not produce drones. Instead it produces greater Changelings and single queens, who do not set out to breed a hive, but are instead sent out into the world to grow in personal power until they can return and challenge their broodmother for the hive. These young queens are incredibly dangerous, and are known to produce a venom which is both a temporary paralytic and psychoactive agent that can create long term hallucinations and flashbacks.
Changelings are mortal, and can be killed just as any other creatures. Their carapaces act like armor, but once pierced they are extremely vulnerable. For this reason, they prefer subterfuge over brute strength. Recent studies in the Swaybacks have revealed an experimental process of imbuing Iron with unique spells to create what has been dubbed 'cold iron'. This iron material has been found to disrupt the Changeling transformation magic, forcing them back to their true forms.
Multiple Changelings have made their presence known throughout the events surrounding the Lusty Seapony. The infamous Bounty Hunters, The Seed Sisters, were revealed to be Changelings who seduced and assassinated their targets to feed. These Changelings were rogues outside the influence of any hive. In their initial encounters with Lusty Seapony, these changelings spread chaos and disinformation in an attempt to steal the Ostfriesen robot Trixigno for a wealthy collector. However, upon finding the robot powered by crystals which absorbed ambient love, they soon changed their goals. In their attempts to steal the crystals, Flea was killed, and the other two, Mite and Tick, captured.
Subsequently, Mite made a deal with the gryphon Aidan, taking a job to capture and torture his brother, Muir. Mite, however, was simply using Aidan to create a distraction to engineer her own disappearance to allow her to return to her old ways with a new identity. Her meddling resulted in Tick being killed, and in the first reports of the Changeling slave rings operating out of the Gryphon lands beyond the Swayback Mountains. Ultimately, Mite's precautions were not enough to protect her from a vengeful Windy Ward.
With the discovery of Changeling Operations within the Swayback Mountains, Equestria has increased caravan patrols and guard presence within the base located in Tailfeather Pass. Sergeant Mint Creme, who initially reported on the Changeling activity, has led multiple operations that have hampered Changeling activity in Equestria. This resulted in an assassination attempt by one of the hives, sending a specialist known as Solifugae. Mint survived, and was able to unmask Solifugae.
In Ostfriesen, the Greater Changeling known as Simmilie Venn was discovered having crashed through the walls. Princesses Mary and Sue placed her under arrest, forcing her into indentured servitude as a maid to repay the damage done. The Princesses have kept an eye on her, believing Simmilie to be a potential spy. As of yet, she has revealed no interest in spying or conquering, and instead has begun to shun her previous life, finding new purpose within Ostfriesen.