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It's the Little Things

PlaceholderIsTaken Dec 11th, 2019 (edited) 74 Never
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  1. >You shouldn't be alive
  2. >At least, not as you are now
  3. >You've been consumed by an unfeeling alien monstrosity, but somehow have come out the other side with nothing but some newfound superpowers and an extraterrestrial abomination begging you to keep it all secret!
  4. >You, a small green filly with the mind of an adult man, have somehow overcome a parasite that gives Halo's flood a run for their money!
  5. "Alright, you want me to keep this between us? Then what can you do for me?"
  6. >The shambling mound before you sprouts an eye from beneath one of the snowdrifts around you and a thousand voices echo as one in your mind
  7. [o]>W̷̩̓̍h̷͍̭͑͐a̷̼̾͑t̸͇͖͒̈́ ̶̭̲̎ċ̸̨̖́ą̴̠͋n̸̟͕̒͠ ̷̺̥͌̚ŵ̷̘̏e̵̯̹͂ ̵̞̲̍d̸̰͐̈́o̶̘͋ ̷̧̪̍f̶̮̊ỏ̵̥̿r̵̨̹̽ ̷͓̙̏͆y̶̰̳͐ȏ̶͔u̴͠ͅͅ?̷̝̔͘ ̵̳̻͂Ẁ̵͎̗ė̸̡̻̏ ̷̛̝̲́ḫ̶̞̏͊a̶͈̱̍v̸̱̈́̐ͅe̷̮͕̒͝ ̶̘͙̂a̵̮̓ḷ̶̛̀r̵̬̪̆e̴͓̺͛̃a̶͎͠d̵̢̀̀ỳ̶̜ ̷̛̪̉g̶̼̽͜į̴̈͝v̶̟̾̅è̷̡̫n̶̜̺͘͠ ̷͍͆͜y̷̝̔̉ô̷̪ū̶̥̕ ̷̨̝̓̕e̶̯̊̕t̵̢̗̓̿e̷̒̎ͅr̷͇͒͘ñ̷̼a̸͈̗͛̍l̵̯̫̓ ̶̧̬̅̈́ļ̵̛ï̴̳f̵̣́e̶̛̖ ̸̥̈͂a̸̗͂n̷̛̬͕͌d̷̪̍ ̶̹̇ą̸̗̒n̵̲̩͒ ̸͈̯͛è̷̱x̸̼̐ỉ̸̪̜s̶͎̥̊t̴̖͆è̶̬̫̅ǹ̸͍̕c̶̰͆e̵̛͓̺ ̵̨̡̈́ḇ̷̛̋e̸͇͔͠ÿ̴̩́̆ò̴̙͍n̸͔̱̒d̴̬̏ ̴͈̾̀y̶͇͕̽o̴͔̭̔͗u̷̠̦͐r̷̭̾ ̶͍́͛f̴͇͙̈̈́ő̸̬r̷͖̪̅m̷͖̟̎e̵̲̩͆̓ȑ̵̜̹ ̴͓͆͆ṃ̶͒͘o̷̞̊n̷͙̍o̷͔̟̕͝t̷̫̅̓ǒ̴̯͙ņ̶̨̉̿y̵̗̓!̷̝̀̕ ̷̠͕̒W̵̦͝ͅh̴͇͝ȃ̶̗͇t̵̞̽ͅ ̶̙͂͠m̵̺̝̋ơ̶ͅr̸̛̟͘é̴̻̇ ̶̛̖̖͝c̵̻͓̑ö̴̖͕́̆u̴̡͛l̸̆͠ͅd̶̩̱͝ ̴̤̘̄y̸̡̌̔ǫ̶̈́̔u̵͎͕̍͝ ̴̥̞͐̊a̴̦̰͐s̴̗͎͝k̸̞̗̃̃ ̷̮̃̚f̶̳͚͂o̸̾̈́ͅr̷̫̯̕͝?̷̢̙̊͝[/o]
  8. >What more [i]could[/i] you ask for?
  9. >You can already use your newfound powers to remake yourself into your old form, you can shapeshift at will, you can disassemble yourself into pieces and put yourself back together even!
  10. >But there's still been that one thing that you've wanted ever since coming to Equestria in this form, something that would complete your second childhood
  11. >Sure, Twilight's been cool, but she's always treated you more like an adult than anything else
  12. >The fact that you're alone outside, arguing with an alien parasite in an antarctic tundra a few hundred meters from a research outpost is plenty proof to that...
  13. "You know what, I'd really like it if you could at least pretend to be a motherly figure for me; it's been something my 'former monotony' has been lacking."
  14. >You hold your head high as you stare directly into one of the eye stalks, the creature eventually capitulating through (what you think is) a sigh
  15. [o]>F̷̹̉í̸̱n̴̹̥͐͐ĕ̸̱̖,̷̮͈̐̇ ̶̪͌̀͜w̷̧̱͆e̸͔̍̊ ̶͙̺̐͝s̸̬̒̐ĥ̸̲͍a̵̙̾l̸̲̽l̸͉̎ ̷̲̈́p̵̝̀ḽ̵̿͘a̶̡̎̈́y̶̼͠ ̸̹̀̈́t̶͚͐̓ĥ̴̡̼ȋ̸̦̯̎s̶̉̿ͅ ̴̤́̚͜ŗ̵̠̑o̶̖͈̎l̵̥̓̕͜e̸̳̳͗̓ ̵̳̊i̶̗͐͠f̴͇͝ ̴̧͌y̴̥̟͛o̶̮͌u̸̩̿͊ ̷͎̬̈́t̵̖̲̓̚ẹ̶̮́̚l̷̹͋l̷͓̃̈ͅ ̷̨͇̌u̵͇͆s̴̝̭̏ ̵̡͗w̴̧̟̎͆h̴̭̦́a̵̡͈͆t̸̜͆͝ ̵̪̀͜ẁ̴̺e̷̢̡͒ ̸̨̯̒͠s̴͕͖̃͆h̵̢̎ò̴͍͈̾u̷̟͈̎l̶̞̒̽d̴͖̉͑ ̵͎̣́̑d̵̦̋͜ǫ̶͚̊̆.̸̲̓ ̷̦́̽I̸̡̺͊̈́ṋ̵͝ ̸͈̓̀ĕ̷̘͍x̴̙̑̕͜c̷̿͂ͅḩ̵̟̾̽â̵̮͛n̴̰̑g̵̯̥̀́e̴̮̓͜ ̸̦͙͋͊f̵̼̤̈́̒o̷̱͇̽r̶̬̿́ ̵̼̉t̵̜̦̆͝h̶̨͌̂͜i̵̞͒̕ś̵͓̆ͅ,̸̪́̍͜ ̷͕̜͗̈n̶̦̻̔ơ̴̫̕t̵͈̅̈́ ̶̺͑͘ͅo̴̯͍͆͛n̶͔͒̒ľ̵̩ỹ̸̡̨ ̵̧̹̓̔m̸͎̽̄ụ̵͂s̸̫͉̃̀t̸̳̜̄ ̵͇̜͘y̸̗͐̏ǫ̶̪̌͠ű̶̡̈́ ̸̪̫̇l̵̨̞̀ë̶̪̮̿a̸̧̦͆̍r̸̢̗̔n̴͉͐̒ ̴͍̏t̴͔͑ḫ̵̐̓ě̷̱͖ ̸͔̘́͘f̵͔̅ũ̸͕̕l̶̛͈ḽ̴͆̒ ̸̛̟́e̵̘͇̾x̴̦͗͐t̵̜̅ë̷̩̯́́n̵̪͒t̷̡̻͆̅ ̷̬͑o̴̱̓͗f̸̨͈̍ ̷͔̉̀o̶͚̐ŭ̷͉r̶̨͙͊ ̶̈́͜ṡ̶͎h̵̻͚̄̄a̵͉͋͜͝r̵̭̍̾e̸̘̥͆d̸̯͍͆̆ ̸̩͝p̴͉͆͜o̸͖̔̃w̸̪̦͗e̴͈͗̓r̷̮͛,̴̱̼͑̑ ̷̩͇̊̀b̷͔̫̊u̸̱͑̄t̷͔̊͠ ̶̡͇̀͒y̴͕̯̓̉ȏ̶͖ū̵͜͝ ̸͔̟͛̓m̴͈͗͘u̵̬͝s̵̗͑t̵̮͚͘ ̷̥̫͆̌ü̶̞s̶̭̭͌ĕ̸̫͘ ̸͈̮̽͛i̴̡̩̐t̶͓́̏ ̶̬̓́t̵̜͖̄o̶͕͉͂ ̶̘̜̇̀h̵̗͛ę̷̄l̵͇̫̈́p̶͖͗͗ ̷̘̣̕u̸̗̠̅s̶̨̩̈́ ̷̝͖̈́͠c̷̲̒͂ő̸̯͛n̸̼̈š̷͙ủ̸͉̀͜m̶͔͋͜e̸̘̝͑̈́ ̸̞́̓ḿ̷̪͉̈́o̴͕͇͛̌r̵͍̄ę̴͊͝ ̷͈́͊l̴̛͍̗̐ȋ̵̪v̸̢̏̓ę̶̎s̸̨̘̅̑.̴͈̼͒͝[/o]
  16. "I'll accept that deal if I'm allowed to work at my own pace and those that I consume are also allowed to retain their individuality."
  17. [o]>Y̶̜̆ͅọ̸̔ű̷͇ ̴͔͔͠w̴̻͆e̶̫̔̕r̶͙̖͘e̵͎̲̓͝ ̸̢͎̈́b̷̺̿o̸̾̉͜ŕ̶͈́ń̶̟̟͘ ̴̞̋͝ͅô̶̧͙f̴̢̀ ̸͔̺͐i̸͙͒̃n̴̥͐͝c̷̯͓̿ȏ̶͇͠m̷̲̤̐p̶͔̣̐̽l̶̩͓͒̔e̸͚̒̈́t̷̼̎̎e̷̝̅ ̶̢̆a̸͈͘s̴͎̑̕s̸̲͌i̵̲̅m̶̞̣͆ḯ̴͎͜l̸̖̀á̴͇t̶̡̂ḯ̸̛͕o̸͎̾n̸̡̄̀,̵̲̋̄ ̵͓͝w̷̭͑̐h̷͚͑ḯ̷͎̤̅ḻ̸̿̀e̷̝͕̐̕ ̴̹̎w̵̨͐͝ȇ̸̞ ̸̳̋͘a̷̯̪̕r̶͎̎̚ͅè̵̼͌ ̵͛ͅc̸̱̰̀͒o̶̩͉̚m̸̙̄͜p̶͙̦̌͠l̶̲͇̋ẹ̸́ẗ̸͙́e̵̝̿.̵̗̾͑ ̷̨̀͒Y̶̙͌́o̷̢̧̐͘ủ̷̧̿ ̸̤́w̴̞̅o̸̓̕ͅu̷̻̓̚l̸̪̣̀͘d̸̡͈͆ ̶̟͋b̷̠̌͜͠ẽ̸̩͔̍ ̸͖̬͑ĺ̴͍ë̴͜a̶̠̿v̵̮̍͘ì̶͈̂n̷̼͊̊g̸̲̩͆ ̸̩̪͂̿t̶̹̤̾̄ȟ̶̡̩̊ẻ̵͕̇m̷̭͇͋ ̵̛̦̺i̴̬̍n̵̖̈́̏c̴̤̭͌o̴̭̊̂m̴̮̳͐p̶̝̄l̴̯̈́͊e̵̦̪̓̕ṱ̶̢̀́e̸̪̋̀,̷͉͙̏͝ ̵͙̔a̴͙̲͐̂s̶͎͂͗ ̴͎̂ẃ̵̜e̸̘̙͂̔ ̶̩̑h̶̡̻̓ä̸̘́̋v̶̻̿̏ė̸͉̙̍ ̵̮̆̑l̴̺̈́͝ͅě̴̞f̷̧̢̐̒t̶̘͒ ̴̠̱̌͘ý̶̻̗̈ŏ̶̗͝u̵̙͗͜.̵̡͕͌ ̶̢̛̣̉T̸͍̐ẖ̴̒͗ē̵̹̄ý̵̱̻ ̴̬͈̀͘w̷̟̍ḭ̶̻̚l̸̟̤̓̈́l̷̡̾ ̷̤̀̑l̶͔̊ͅi̸̢͔̿͆k̵̢̘͂e̷̙͛l̴̹̚y̸̗̏ ̴̙͇̈s̵͚̀u̶͇͖̐͂f̷͓͘f̷͚͝e̵͖̯͛͐ṛ̷̢́̚ ̴͖̱͂͒ă̶̺s̶͖̞̓̇ ̵͙̮̐͑ẗ̴̹́̕h̵̖͗è̶͓y̶̬͊̕ ̶̬͑͂h̶̡̤̕ạ̴̈́̈́v̷̤̬̈́e̸͚͊ ̸̭͛̋t̵̤́̿ḩ̷̮̏̚r̷̤̆̐ö̵̟ȗ̷̳̾g̵̖͆̂ḫ̵͌ ̴̣̠̐̊t̵̠́ͅh̶̖͕͂ë̴̼́͘i̵̖̜͌r̷̤̎ ̷̝̓̚p̸̹͕͊ä̷͔͔́s̷̼̫̒̌t̵̲͐̍ ̶̧̲́l̴͍̂i̵̧̞͋͑v̷͛̒ͅȅ̷̟s̷̪̈̇ ̸̥̓i̷̤̽̀f̴̠̪̈́͠ ̸̟̙͒á̴̯̲ĺ̶̩̟l̷̛͚̻͐o̷̜͌ẃ̸̰͝ẽ̴̘͇̅d̶͓̀̑ ̸̩̘̍͐t̶̡͛̅o̶̝͙̒ ̵̥͈̓é̵̤̥x̴̭͐į̵̞̀s̴͝ͅt̸̩͕̉͋ ̵̈á̴͉̄š̷̼̈́ ̷̳͖͊̀y̶̮̝̍̃ȯ̴̙̲͝u̴̠̇ ̴̭̬̊ḏ̴̉̾ơ̶͕̗͝.̸̝̑[/o]
  18. "I wouldn't call this suffering, having a bunch of superpowers is far from the worst thing to happen to me so far."
  19. [o]>Y̵̻̰͋o̶̪̙̊̓ṷ̷̲̎̀ ̶͉̺͘p̶̳̞̈́̀ơ̸͕̂ȯ̶͍̦r̷̨̾͝ ̸̫͎̌d̴̻̅̕ė̸͙͆l̴̲̈̒ṳ̷̈́d̴̨̜̄ĕ̴̥̉d̴̘̞̈́ ̴͉͑͒ͅc̸̫̓ŕ̸͘ͅȇ̸̲͑ạ̴̝̍͆t̸̖͘u̴̳͈̔͊r̵̬̝̅ḛ̷̓̃.̵̘͑ ̸̮̀̍W̸̻͛̈́e̴̲̮̔͂ ̵̯̋s̷̗̙̈́̚h̷̰͘a̷̧͒͂ĺ̶̬̆ļ̸̛͎ ̸̜͓̂̚ŝ̶̯h̴͓̯̊͝o̷̭̺̾͆ẉ̵̈̈́ ̶͓͜͝͝y̸̲͒͝ǫ̴̆ů̶̜̘̏ ̸̻̖̀̀t̷̗̭͋͆ḥ̸͠ḛ̶̝͊͂ ̵̩̱̃͝b̸̻̓̕ě̶̤̞á̶̢̨̄u̷̥͊t̴̩̬̾y̸̛͙̽ ̴̮̚͠o̴̩̾f̶̤̯͊ ̴̽ͅo̷̬͝͠ù̵̜͈r̶̥̓͝ ̴̖̯̅̎c̷̺̘͒ơ̶̩m̴̟̈́̐b̷̙̐͋i̶͖̱͒̋ń̸̪͠e̶͚͍̓d̸̡̩̅͘ ̷̫͔̋̚p̵̜̈́e̶̡̗͝r̵̲̦̾̉f̴̤͌̆ė̷̡c̴̺̬̅̐t̶̳̜͑i̸̭̰͛̀ȍ̸̺͘ń̴̘̝̎ ̴͙̞̅a̶̗͕̓̅s̷̱̃̕͜ ̵̧̦̄̇ẘ̶͕̤̈́ě̷̺̳̎ ̷̩̐ͅt̵̡̠̋̋ě̷̝̀ǎ̷̩͛͜c̶̽͊ͅh̸̻̏̌ ̸̥͌͠y̴̰͋͜ò̷͓̹ṷ̸̄ ̴̦̈́ȁ̶̰̾b̴̭̥̄o̷̪̒ǘ̴̦̂t̶̫̽͌ ̸̻͂ṯ̴̈͛ͅh̵̯̮͆ë̸̜̟ ̴͕͗̀a̸̦͂b̴̥̩͌i̴͉̟̿͠l̸̞̺̐͋i̴̖̿t̷̨͗̿ī̶̬̟e̵̻͚̽ś̶̟̈́ ̷̪̈́͘y̸̤̐́ͅo̴̡̫̾͠ǘ̴͉͑ ̴̦̘̀͠n̶͔̰̆ŏ̵̝͊w̶̗̆̉ ̵̯̜͂͠h̴̖͗ą̴̌̊v̶̺̅̊e̷̞͝,̷̧̣̌͂ ̸͍̱͂͝y̸̼͚̿͋ö̶͖̜́͐u̴̻͛ ̷̥̊̓n̷̗͌ẽ̶͓̂͜e̷̺͗͗ḓ̸̏ ̴͚̒n̸̰̄o̸̯͠t̷̬͐̐ ̵̨͠f̸̛̼͇r̷̪͒̑e̵̩̅t̵̰͗̋.̷̳͆[/o]
  20. "Yeah, yeah, that's cool and all, but if we're going to sneak you past Twilight, you're going to need you to look like a pony and talk like one too, so no more blob monster or talking to me through my mind until I can respond that way."
  21. >The flesh mass before you begins to contract and contort with several sickening snaps and crunches before arriving at the unassuming form of a light brown unicorn mare
  22. [o]>"H̸͙̿o̷̝͗̈́ẃ̴̺'̶͍̯̈s̵̛̩̒ ̴̘̑̓t̶̢̑͝h̶̠̏ḯ̵̺̈ͅs̸̜͂͐?̴̱͉̅"[/o]
  23. "You look fine, but you're going to need to stick to one voice too."
  24. [o]>"Better?"[/o]
  25. >The overtly feminine tone rings out over the subzero winds in a pleasant manner, managing to conceal its eldritch origins with surprising grace
  26. "Perfect, now let's think of a cover story for you..."
  27. >The "mare" joins you in thought for a moment before you finish thinking first
  28. "Okay, you're from a research ship off the coast who ended up teleporting here after your boat sank due to hull failure and I found you while you're out here. Now, what's your name?"
  29. >The "mare" resumes her thoughts once again before coming to a conclusion
  30. [o]>"Astra Biologis."[/o]
  31. "That'll work, you should be able to fly under the radar until we all get back to the mainland and by then things should be already going as planned. Now put on my jacket, that'll make things more believable."
  32. >You pull off your jacket as your companion stretches out a tentacle to grab it
  33. "And no tentacles or body-horror either, but that should go without saying."
  34. >Astra nods as it drapes the jacket around its shoulders before retracting the tentacle back into its chest cavity
  35. >With everything taken care of for the time being, you begin leading your companion back towards the facility
  36. [o]>N̷̪͗͜o̶̮̗̒w̷̼͌ͅ,̷̲̝̊ ̶̣̟̇ẅ̶̮̲́e̵̦͆͘ ̶͙͗́s̶̲̿t̷͖̣̒ĩ̴̜̈́l̴͔̈́l̶̰̤̎ ̴̯̾n̶̬̠̓͝ẻ̸̹ḛ̶̥͂d̴̡̬͛̚ ̵̧̣͒t̷̥̋̿o̴̦͠ ̷̘̅a̴͖̮̋s̴͕̃k̸͒ͅ:̶͇͝ ̶̦̱̚w̸̲̄̚h̷͚̏a̵̲̬͑t̴͕̟̾̂ ̵̼̓ẹ̶̾x̷̭̒̒a̷̻͇͠c̸͖̿͊t̷̘̠͆̂l̶͍͆̂y̴̨͇͛ ̴̮͗̈́d̶̟̽o̴̲̕͠ ̷̠̓̽m̸̤͒͜õ̸͎t̷͍̙̅̅h̷̰̱̊é̵̲ṟ̶͌s̵̺̘̍̉ ̶̺̩͊̅d̶͍͚͋o̸̘͌̅?̶͓̑ͅ[/o]
  37. "Why are you still talking to me in my head?"
  38. [o]>I̴̹͋̂͜t̷͎͉̑ ̵͈̒w̷̭̽̈́͜i̸̠̣͝ļ̵̄l̵̖̫̆ ̷̳̗͑a̴̩̽͌r̸̢̳̚ǒ̶͉̚u̴̪͐s̴̪̗̓̒e̸̼͗̚ ̸̥̉l̸͖̣̅͝ē̷̬̻̚s̸͉͙͑̐s̵̡̿ ̸̟̅̋s̶̡̲͆ú̷͔̕s̵͍͕̆p̶̧̳̀i̶̝͔͂ć̶͓́i̷̱̚͜ǒ̸͙͑n̶͚̙͆̕ ̴̢̤̏̓t̴͙̏̓h̵͖̫̽̕a̵͍̦͊̈́ņ̶̢̐̈́ ̸̣̖̏ţ̵̈a̴̰̲͆l̸̙̆̉k̴͕̦͋̕i̴̢͍͊n̴̥͗ģ̶͉́͐ ̶̩͗̍o̶̟̓̋p̷̗͑́e̷̛͙͕n̷͔͝ͅl̸̥̈́̽ÿ̴̙́͐ ̶̢͕̍̽i̵̢͖̓n̷̦̎ ̵̣̒̊c̴̜̔a̶͉̖̔s̴̩͊̂ë̶̤́ ̷̽ͅo̷̥͠ͅf̴̝͘̚ͅ ̵̝͈̊o̵̱͉͆͂b̵̛̮̦͆s̷̍̈͜e̷̬͑̎r̴̯̾͌v̸̰̼̇̊a̴͚̘̔ṫ̶̻͂ȉ̷̛͇͉õ̵̘͘n̶̫̫̾̆.̷͓̘͋ ̸͕͇̃͆Ñ̷̒͜o̸͔̿w̴̹̅̉,̶̣͛͝ ̸̢̭͂̒ẙ̶͎̍ö̸̮́̊ŭ̸̦ ̷͇͛ŝ̵̛̫͖ḩ̴̡̑ȍ̷̝͊u̶̫̤͂̎l̵̼͑d̴̩̎ ̵̩͔̒̄b̵̘͊e̵̯͂̀ ̴͈̈́a̶̢͖̐b̷͇͛̀l̶͇̘̓̍e̵͚͕̋ ̵̢͋t̴̗̍o̸̯̅̊ ̸̡̚s̵͕͗̍ͅp̴̩̉̐e̵͉͐̅ͅã̵̞k̵̯̼͊̒ ̴̲̦̃͝t̴̟͛õ̴̹̽ ̶̢̈́̆u̶̙͚͝s̴̟̬̀̾ ̴͍̾l̷̨̺͒̋í̷͍͝k̸͍̓̈́e̴͓̔ ̵͜͠t̵̝̦̓͝ḧ̵̰̺̂i̷͓͌s̴̞̓ ̷̥̪̊i̵̳̍̔f̸̠̀ ̴̗̉y̶̯̆̚o̴̠͋͒ü̸̱ ̴̗͆c̸̯̋͗o̴̢̿̿n̷̟̜̾c̶̹͇̃̾ȅ̸͍̲n̴̞̱̕t̷̝̣͂͋r̵̳̆͐a̴̪̳̒t̴̢̠͠e̸͍̔͠ ̶̣̌y̶̨̪̚ơ̶̖̹u̸͇̿̚r̵̢̯͆ ̸̡̈́̓ṫ̵̗̕h̴͚̲̓o̵̭͋̈u̶̦͝ͅg̷̗̼̎h̶͍͖̆͊ť̷̺͎s̴͇͒̃ ̴̺͌̚ả̵͙͈n̸̹̾d̴͇͝ ̸̗̔d̴̢̻̈i̴͎̬̽̓r̸͉̉͒è̶͕̣͆ċ̵̲̠t̴̼̄͝ ̴̪̩͠t̴̢̲̀͠ḧ̶͖́͋e̶̱̣̒͋m̸̮̘̆̋ ̵̨̔p̴͙͊̃r̴̡̲̈́̄o̸̪͝p̵̗̗̏̕ĕ̸̞̠ṛ̵̹̋l̷̩͕͌̉y̴͇͑̀.̶͕̓ ̸͍̈́̀ͅT̸̛̜͒r̷̭̃ÿ̶͙̞́ ̴̣̅̑i̴̙̒t̶̜̅ ̶̢̤̐̇ȃ̸͇ͅs̷̝̩̾̈́ ̵̗͎͊̅y̶͍͠ȏ̵̡̬͋ū̶̡r̷̖͈͌ ̶̛̫͉͋f̴͎͇̎̑i̵̝͆͝ͅṛ̶̀̈s̷̜̱͆͝t̴̛͖̭ ̵̘̻͠͠l̸͖͒ẻ̵͕̊ś̶̩s̶̘͍͛͛ő̸̙̬̂n̴̘͋.̸̤̺̔͠[/o]
  39. >You mull over Astra's words in your head before finally trying it out
  40. Can you hear me?
  41. [o]>G̷̢̉̇ö̴̦̩̚o̵̖͛̾d̶͔̿́ͅ,̵͎̚ ̸͚̮̀̚y̷͇̓ö̷͈́̒ṳ̸͋'̶̢̮̂̏l̷͇͉̏̔l̸̛̻̅ ̵͖͉̀͋b̷̭͈̈́ę̶͎̄̀c̸͕̎ơ̴͖m̶̨̺͋̐e̷͓͗ͅ ̸͎̯̕ỏ̴̢̺n̷͚̿̈́ḛ̵̞̿̂ ̴̳͂́ͅǒ̵̩̯̕f̷̮̿̀ ̷̟̽u̴̺̻͊s̸̞̈́ ̵̯͘i̵̳͐n̴͖͌̈ ̴̹̋̈g̵̬̲͑̆ǫ̸͊o̴̬̾̓ḓ̴͝ ̴̘͌ṱ̶̆͠i̸̲̬̓m̴̫̿e̷̠͌͘.̵͇̉͛[/o]
  42. Cool, that makes it easier to help you stay hidden later.
  43. [o]>Ẅ̷́́͜h̶̹̔͗y̵͙̳̓ ̶̳͉̑́w̶̧͒̒ḯ̷̬l̷̝͙̈́l̶̠͛ ̶̪̄̎w̷̲͊ȅ̵͙̺̉ ̵̼̈͐n̷͎͆̍è̷̤̇ẹ̶̀d̷̟͉̃ ̸̨̺̀t̷̲̐͐o̵̍͜ ̶̨͂̓s̶̹̈́̀ṭ̴̎á̴͉̪͘y̸̱̋͜͠ ̴̰̭̀ḩ̸͕͊ḭ̸͒͌ͅḏ̴̱̅d̶̰̭̔͂e̶̜͒̈n̴̫̺̈̇ ̷́̄͜w̷̼̎͗h̵̢́ḕ̸̡ǹ̶͓̟ ̶̳̯̽̉ẅ̷̟͎́e̶̖̽͌ ̷̅̈́͜c̸̫̐̉a̴̮̍̈́ͅn̴͉͕̈́͠ ̶̝̅s̸̘̰̏i̶̖͆̈͜m̸̰̜̿p̵̻͘l̵̰͝y̵͉͊̑ ̶̻̲̾̈́a̴̞̒s̴̢͊s̷̡͓̀̆ȋ̸͙m̶̩̘͝i̵̧̛l̶̼͊̈́â̴̮͕̓t̸͕͗̀ȅ̶̡̝̃ ̴̼͊̒ę̸́̏v̸̫͒ȩ̴͙̄ȓ̴̖̼͑ÿ̵̨̝́͆t̴̨͇͋͝h̵͙̯̿ì̸̼͛ň̵͍̓g̴̮͗͂ ̷̱͓̾̔t̴̪̂́h̶͖͖́͑e̷͓̽̈r̸̜̄e̵̪͝?̴͎̘͒[/o]
  44. Because that'll mean neither of us gets back. Twilight teleported herself and me here and you've given me no indications that you can use magic, so if she's gone, we're stranded.
  45. >Astra goes quiet for a few seconds as you both continue walking through the cold
  46. [o]>F̴̺̯̓a̵͖͗͑ĭ̸̤͖r̶̟͖̐ ̴̠̇p̶̹̉̊o̸̦͇̐i̴̗͎͛ṉ̵͋͠ṱ̴͕̀.̸̡̓[/o]
  47. Alright, we're almost there anyway, so remember the story and stick to it if you don't want to get found out.
  48. >Right as you finish thinking that, the door to the facility fades into view from the icy white
  49. >You reach up on your hind legs to open the door as Astra gives you a look, but you ignore it
  50. >After all, if Twilight happens to be within sight and sees a tentacle sprouting from you, then you're both dead
  51. >Luckily though, she's not!
  52. >But it would still be rude to not announce your return for her, so you do
  53. "Hey Twi, I'm back and I found somepony outside! I hope you don't mind, but I brought her in with me!"
  54. >A voice calls back from somewhere inside the base
  55. >"You found somepony outside?"
  56. >And before you can completely register what she's said, a bright flash of purple stuns you in your place
  57. >Twilight wastes no time in then doing what she does best
  58. >Mainly, worry
  59. >"Where are they? Did they come from another lab, or-"
  60. [o]>"I'm right here, and I teleported here from a research ship that sank off the coast. I'm okay though, thanks to your friend here."[/o]
  61. >"What sank the ship? Did anypony else make it out? Is there anything else I should know?"
  62. [o]>"The ship struck an unexpectedly large iceberg, and I was the only one on board at the moment, so there's nopony else to worry about."[/o]
  63. >After hearing this, Twilight finally lowers the threat level off defcon 1
  64. >"That's a relief. I hope you didn't lose too much on that boat, losing research always sucks."
  65. [o]>"That's fine too, my research wasn't turning anything up anyway. The most I'm out is the money I used to get the boat, but even that wasn't too much, now that I think about it.[/o]
  66. >"You really seem to be quite the optimist, don't you, miss... I'm sorry, I never even asked your name!"
  67. [o]>"Astra Biologis, a pleasure to meet you, Twilight."[/o]
  68. >"I see my reputation precedes me. I'm sure you've already met Anonymous, here, too?"
  69. [o]>"Yes, she and I became fairly well acquainted on our way back here."[/o]
  70. >Yeah, you could say that
  71. >"Then that should be enough for introductions, let's get you warmed up and away from that -30 windchill!"
  72. >While Twilight's leading you both through the base, Astra reiterates its previous question
  73. [o]>Y̴̨̫͂̀o̷̼͂̇ũ̶͇͈ ̶͍̿̿n̶̦̓e̶̦͔̅͑v̷̖̍̅e̷̥͂̉ͅr̵̮͒ ̴̞́͛a̵̠̺͂̈́n̵̨̿̈s̷͈̃w̴͎̃̓e̵̫̞͊̀r̶̨̺͗͠e̸̮͚͗͠d̶̖̿͝ ̵͚̜̈́̕o̴̠͒ͅú̸̡͈͐r̴͖̈̔ ̴̘̅q̴̭̇̈u̴̠͋̿ĕ̵͇ř̷̢͓ý̴̡̹ ̵͖͂e̶̮̗̓ä̶̜́̈́r̵̡̹͌l̸̜̖͆i̶̢͒e̵̛͓r̶̨̯͆̓,̶̛̣̏ ̷̆͜d̷̗̺̒o̸̘͌ ̵͎̄ẉ̵̇͜e̷̝̩̚ ̸͍͇̑n̵̻̝̈́̐ë̶͈ė̵̼̤d̵͘ͅ ̷̙̐͘t̶̩̑ó̵͒͜ ̶̝̓r̴̗͕̊͆ĕ̶̮͗ì̴̫̼t̸͈̝̓e̶̬̚ŕ̶͈̱͂â̴̭̚ṯ̴̙̋e̸̟͇̍͘?̶͈͋[/o]
  74. >Oh, yeah
  75. Sorry about that, it completely slipped my mind. Basically, mothers care for their children and make sure they're ready to take on the world.
  76. [o]>T̶͉̀h̸̡̊̾ḙ̴̬́ǹ̸͔͌ͅ ̶̟̬͠ẇ̴͚̇ḛ̶̢̊ ̸̼͠s̴͇̝̒ë̴̡̳́̓e̴͇̩̿͠ ̵̙͗n̷͇͝ō̸̟̈ ̷̪͐̒d̶̳̂i̵̤͝f̷̪̠̂f̵̡̽ë̷͔̟́r̷̼̗̈e̴͙̊͌ṉ̴̂̓c̸̋̏ͅě̷̞̗ ̸͈̿b̸̺̒̚e̸͙̪̎͝t̶̳̲͝ẃ̴͇ē̷̙̪e̸̫̔̃n̸͍̈̀ ̸̬͕̽̉w̶͈͛́ͅh̸̘̓ḁ̷̎̓ṯ̴̓̒ ̵̫͂w̷̉̓ͅè̷̗̎ ̵̖̯̀å̵̞̞r̴̪̖͌͂e̴̤̓̂ ̷͔̯͐͝a̷̩̱͗ļ̶̠̆r̶͓͑e̷̫͕̽̈a̷̮̐̒d̸̹̿̿ý̶̝ ̸͔̻̈́̈d̶̢̈́o̷͐͑ͅi̸̺͉̎̌n̸͉̈̚g̵̣̼̽̚ ̸͇̓ā̸̢͙͠n̶̝͍͘d̸̩̙̿̇ ̶͓̽ẅ̴͓͜h̸͇̉a̸͎̲̒̈́t̴̝̊̌ ̶̯́́y̵̓͜o̷̩̰̾ư̴͙̯ ̵̲̋a̷͉̘͗s̵̩͙̓͝k̸̨̼͂.̷̤̮͛̚[/o]
  77. Well, there's a bit more nuance to it than that that's a bit harder to put into words... Can I send more than just sentences through this mind-reading thing?
  78. >Astra goes silent for a moment, considering what you've asked
  79. [o]>I̸̪̕ṫ̶͕ ̴̛̱̍i̸̩̍͌s̶͇̓ ̶̝̲́͗ń̷̖̖̕o̶̫͈͊t̶̻̾ ̸̢̯̈́̈́į̶̚m̸͖̾̚p̷̢̲͗͗o̵̪̞͆s̷̠͝s̵͚̩̅̄ḭ̵̐͠b̴̜̪̈̑l̶̞͕̄̓e̷̜̋,̷̟̲̋̆ ̸̻̂͋b̵̯̽ư̶̙͎̿ṯ̴̓ ̵̡͓̃̃t̵̙̆͋ḩ̷̮́̚é̴̗̓ ̷͚̒̉ṁ̵̘͕ę̵̯̒̋a̸̜͓͊ṉ̸̙͘i̶̖̜̋n̵͙̯͆g̸̖̈́ ̷̜̫͛ḿ̶̧̃ã̶̢̟̉ỷ̷̧̖̚ ̸̲͌̑͜b̴̖̊̔ë̵̬́ ̴̬̺̀̀m̶̆͒ͅi̷̡̨̎̇s̴͇͕̈́t̷̹͐r̵̟̽͜a̸͚̼͗n̴͎̦̾̋s̸̠̫̊ľ̵̪̲͝a̶̫̾͝ṱ̶̈́ë̷̫́̂d̵̲̖́͝ ̸̹̈i̴̱͌̊ṇ̷̉̀ ̶̺̖̅̚t̶̜̰̄͌h̶̘̚ẻ̷̞͜ ̷͇̜̀p̷͎̬͊̊r̴͖̎̄o̵͔͙̍c̸̮̃̚é̵̮̰s̴̤͈͒̃s̸̤̠͌̾ ̴̛̬͈́ĩ̵̟̬͂f̴͈͌̚ ̴͈̱̌͑i̸͎̜̒ť̸͙̺ ̶̜͎̈̕i̵͖͌s̵̹̥̉̍ ̷͇͗͠ṯ̶͆̒ò̶̠̪o̴̘̘̿̇ ̶̧͓̔̚c̸̣͖̈́͌o̸͍͑͝m̵̼͓͊p̴̺̗̑l̷͕̳̓ë̷́̓ͅx̸̯͔̃̈́.̷̲̩͑[/o]
  80. Alright, then bear with me for a minute.
  81. >You take a moment to gather all the feelings you have associated with your mother back on Earth and then take another to simulate her own feelings towards you before attempting to wrap it all up in a mental bow and send it to Astra
  82. >When you look back to the creature to become your future guardian, you see a flash of intrigue and surprise cross its face before settling back on calm understanding
  83. >A second or two later, you get your response
  84. [o]>W̷̬̩͌̿e̴̘͌̚ ̷͎͈̋̓ṳ̸̀̆ṉ̵̙͒d̴̺̾e̴͕͂r̷͎̝̋̒ṡ̴̲̩t̸̰̆͛a̸̼͌͝ń̸̖͝d̶̳̤̍̀ ̸̙̈n̶͕̾͝ȯ̴̘w̵̤̗̎̽,̵̪̘͛ ̶͈̋̕å̷̼n̵̜̈͘d̶̛̙̚ ̵̢͓̽w̶̢͈̍è̸̪̚ ̵̛̺͚̍s̴̮̈́͘ḫ̵͎̓͝a̵̫͐̌ͅļ̶̣̋͗ḷ̶̊̃ͅ ̸͚̥͑̓d̷̥̈́̄o̵̯͒ ̵͙͗̄o̸̠̗̚ȕ̴͕ͅr̴͔͂ ̶͕̬͌b̶̳̅e̷̳͑s̴̛͙͗t̸̩̉ ̵͍̋̕ẗ̵̤̘́̅o̴̫̙̍̓ ̵̹̜̀ị̸̍̿ľ̸̦͛i̵̘̿c̷̖̈̏ỉ̸̩̹͘t̵͎̋ ̶̣̼̏́t̵̜͒h̶̡̤̿e̸͎̕ś̵͉̚ḛ̶͕͗̃ ̵̨̼̈́͒f̸̪̅̒e̷̜͗e̷̱͊ḷ̵̈́i̴̮͜͠n̶̼͋̋g̴̼̿s̵͓̄̓ ̴̤͉͋̓w̴͔̮̍͑í̴̭̠t̸͈͑h̵̨̘̊i̴̝̻̽̃n̸̰̒̓ ̷̧͑̓y̵͕͉͂o̸̢̰̒̏u̵̟̚ͅ.̵̞̏̑ ̷̥͉̈͘Ȟ̸̩̼͑o̴̖͘w̶̰͚͛͝ë̸̛̲́v̵̥͈͌͂ê̶͚̊ŗ̴̾,̷̻̽̅ ̵̧̞͒ŵ̷͜e̴̹̓̆ ̵͖́̋ẃ̶̹̚i̶͉̥̅́l̸̜̏l̷̛̳͠ ̵̘̈ͅc̷̘̤̒ẹ̴̹͐ä̶̤̫́̕s̷̯̆ȇ̴̢̩͊ ̴̭̙̉͝w̴̼͌ḯ̸̯͜t̷͍̃h̷̺̓̈́ ̸͎͐t̷͎̕h̶̬̘̿̐ẻ̷͎͌ś̶̤̎e̵̘͔̊ ̴̳̍̿a̶̟͗c̴̺̒t̴̜̞̀̒i̸̥͂͝o̷̮̿n̷̠͎̿s̵̠̉ ̶̨̚ô̶͙n̴͈̼̏c̷̣̤̉ę̷͆̏ ̵̤̑y̷̜͊o̸̻̓̕u̴͖̳̽ ̴̨̛̥h̵̩̾a̷̭͌v̴̠͋e̴̝̻̅͒ ̴̳̠̔̆d̸͈̈́e̷͓͈͘v̵͚͑ē̵͔ḽ̵̼͐o̶̬̣̐̍p̴̫̣̑͝e̷͈͍͒̽d̵̞̿ ̵͓͋͝ȋ̴̻n̸̝͍͛̆t̴̟͕̋o̵̡̗̐ ̷̨͊͛͜a̶̝̲͋ ̷̛͚̮f̴̞̠̎͝i̵̙̪̚n̷̩̋̈́ḙ̶̛̀ ̷̹̊m̶͈͕̆̀e̴̬͆̚m̴̰̙͋b̴̪̀e̵̢̹̋̇r̸̲̬̈́ ̷̭̿o̵͓̐f̵̹͊̋͜ ̵̦̽ọ̴͘u̷̜̓͘r̸̰̻͂ ̶̊͜c̷̥̎͐ő̷͍̟l̴̨̲̕͝l̷̘̐e̷̥̽̇c̸̲̿̒ẗ̸͖̀i̵̟̜̓͂v̷͖͉̌ȩ̵͂.̷̮͐[/o]
  85. Then it's a good thing I'm a slow learner!
  86. [o]>Y̵̞̅͗o̶̳̽́u̴̲̕ͅ ̴̠̎͝s̷̭͈̄ȁ̶͈y̶͔̪͛ ̵͈̀t̶͎̠̂h̶͉͑a̴̠̿t̷̡̑,̴͙͛͘ ̷̣̾ͅb̵̢̆u̷̹̝͒t̸̜͚̓͝ ̶̬̓̚ÿ̸̜́́͜o̵̤̮͗͝u̵͓͌͒'̴̦̝̀r̶͚͊͊e̴͔̣̕͝ ̷̢̆͋ä̶̠́l̴͙̃̾ṙ̸̠ͅę̷̖͑̕a̸̗̔͠d̵̲̼̚ỹ̷͈̜͘ ̶͔̜͝p̵̪̦̅r̵̡̜̽ö̷̡̦́b̷͔̑̓i̷̛̥͌ͅn̷̛͓g̵̺̔̉ ̵̩̯̓̍t̷͉̄͠ẖ̸̄͝ė̸̘̻͋ ̴̼͌̚l̶͍̏̓ĭ̸̫̼͛m̶͉̒i̵̖̇t̸̗͘ś̸̨̰̆ ̸̛̥o̵̺̔̐f̷͖͒ȏ̴͇̻̕u̵̯̓r̸͙̉̓ ̴̫̣̑́m̶͚̏e̷̺͌̀n̸̙̤͛̊t̸̻̰̽a̷͚̪̽̈́l̴̻͗̇ ̵̝͉̅͐c̶̘̰̈́ö̷̧̖́͝m̶̪͚͊̂m̵̫̻̈ȕ̵̪͓n̴̥̻͛i̵̫̾c̸̜̑͂ḁ̶̧̌̋t̷͈̒͒í̴̤̱ȯ̷͙̠ň̴͍ ̸͓̘̓n̶͕̂͌ȏ̵̫̝͝t̸͙͖̋ ̴̜̰͌̔e̶̫̝͘v̶̲͆̔ͅe̸̛͓n̴͔̞̐ ̷̰͔̄ả̶̳̆ͅn̸̠̈́̔ ̵̙̄h̵̄̚ͅȯ̷̲̗́u̵̼͊̀r̷͑ͅ ̷̠̮͘a̸̠̿͠f̴̰̄ͅt̷̙̻̄e̷͎̽̊͜r̷͇̾ ̷̡̬̾͠ỹ̵̨̯ò̶͈û̵̟̄ ̷͖̜̅f̷̠̿ī̸̡͉͝r̵̝̺͂͑s̸̥̽̍͜t̶̥̭̀̌ ̸̱̇̊l̴̀͜e̸̮̟̓̂ả̴̮̺r̸͓̱̈́n̴͕͗ ̸̘̃̈ͅỳ̴̫̐o̴̢͆͜u̸̫̘̒ ̸̪̩͌̑c̵̫̿̂a̷̙̓ǹ̸̪̰̂ ̶͙̙̿̇d̷̙̖͘ö̵͙̈́ ̶͚̌̎ĭ̴̫t̶̡̅̿.̴̲̱̅ ̸̞̆Ỵ̷͋ó̴̘͎u̶̟̣̓̕'̸͉̯̚l̴̮̋l̴̙̻̇̿ ̷̹̖̇͛b̷̡͔̆̋e̴̬̓͝c̸̳͙̚͝o̵̱̩̚m̷͔͕̽e̵̯͐̍ ̵̯̘̓͋q̵̱́u̵̲͕͒̓î̸͉̀ṯ̴̻̀̅e̴̞̊ ̴̼͋̓l̵̢̛͓̽ē̵̛̱̬a̵͓͐͒ṙ̷̲̳ṉ̷̡̈́̇ẹ̶͑̈d̶̮̓,̸̫͚̈́ ̸̻̞́â̵̡̛n̸͇̞͑̐ḑ̸́̾ ̸̗̥͐̚f̴̤̿̆å̴̤͂ṡ̶͍͊t̴̥̺̑͒ę̷̛͈̊r̸̤͋ ̷̰̈t̶̮̄̈́h̵̯̾͜ȁ̶͙͘n̸̗͛ ̷̛̥̐y̵͍̓ȏ̶̫̒u̷̙͇̍ ̷̯͒e̶̞̝̍ẍ̷̩́̏p̵̖̦̀e̵̠͋c̴̜̿͋ţ̵́̏.̸̭̌[/o]
  87. >You would reply to that, but you both round the corner to where Twilight's leading you both
  88. >A large comfortable room with a large fireplace dominating the back wall, with several chairs and couches placed in various locations around it
  89. >"Here, I'm sure this'll get you warm in no time!"
  90. >You see Astra's eyes go wide and feel the adrenaline from its fight-or-flight response over the mental connection, but nothing more
  91. >And luckily for you both, Twilight just assumes it's because of the fact that the fireplace is fucking massive
  92. >"Yeah, I was pretty surprised when I first saw it too. It's really good at heating the entire station, though, so that's a major plus."
  93. [o]>"Is something that big not a fire hazard, though?"[/o]
  94. >Twilight looks back to the fireplace before returning to Astra's concerned gaze
  95. >"Well, I mean, it's a fireplace. There's always going to be a hazard to it, but if it was really that much, then I have a hard time believing that the builders would've put this one into the outpost here."
  96. >Twilight then lays down on one of the couches near the blaze and goes back to her notes while Astra works on conquering its (admittedly quite reasonable) fear of fire
  97. >You also decide to go sit near the fire, until you realize something
  98. >A) you're still wearing some of your snow gear, so that's coming off
  99. >And 2) for some reason, the heat of this room feels a lot more uncomfortable than when you were last in here
  100. >Even with your snow gear off, the heat's still almost oppressive to your new body
  101. Hey, is it normal to be feeling this uncomfortable right now?
  102. [o]>O̵̗̠̓u̴̱̘͘r̷̙̤̀͝ ̵̗̿͛k̸̬͍̆i̷͖̮͑̕ñ̴̢d̵̨̏ ̸̲̑h̵̞͕͌ã̵͇ṿ̶̌͌e̵̝̖͘ ̶͖̰̄͠ã̴̡͕n̷̜̊ ̴̻̑̐e̷͉̱̽x̵̼͌t̶̙̅̽r̴̪͋e̴͈͑ṃ̸̒e̷̙͉͒̇ ̶̝͕̀̄a̴̤̻̍v̶̹̓ḙ̷̈́r̴̻͑s̵̥̹̈́͆i̷̖̼̔o̴̼̘͛͝n̷̻͙͋ ̵̛͙͔̌t̷̢͉̉o̷̭̓̓ ̷͇̍h̵̛̫̀ë̴͇́ą̵͒t̴̖̽̋,̶͈̃͂ ̵͔͚͂w̷͔͝é̴͉̻ ̷͎̀͜w̷̦̼̿̀ǫ̶̓ù̴̞̤l̸̥̘͘d̶̬̥̾̌ ̵̥̒͋b̶͍̖̎e̵͖͌ ̴̘͉͑s̸̨͌ů̵̪r̴͔̋́p̶͓̙̉͘r̶̤̚͝i̶̫͈͐s̵̝̠̓̍é̸̳͕̋d̸̬͓̎̕ ̸̢̯̿̃i̴̤̯͋f̴̩͌̑ ̴̺̀y̸͔̍̈ǫ̵͓͝u̸͕̘͂ ̴̩͊ḑ̶̄i̴̜̘͗̉d̵͍̿̐n̴̳͂'̴̭͐̑t̵̞̀ ̷̹̋̓͜f̴̭̾͘e̸̞͍̿e̵̖̜͒l̴̙̈́̔ ̴͎̖͒ṱ̵̰̒̄h̸͑͜ǎ̸̡̛t̷̥̎.̷͈̚[/o]
  103. >Oh yeah, because heat's one of the few things capable of killing a Thing
  104. Dang, I've always been a bigger fan of warm temperatures. Does this mean I can never take a hot shower again?
  105. [o]>W̸̱̓é̵̛̯̥ ̷̝̽h̴̼̀a̵͉͔̐̕v̷̙͎̚e̵̗̺͘ ̴̠̝̓ń̶̡̕ó̵̰ ̸̲͊i̶̠̮̽ḑ̸͎̾é̴͉̘ạ̶̓͝.̸̫̃́[/o]
  106. Then this is going to be a long stay...
  107. [o]>W̸̥̄e̶͎̣̔ ̴̟͍͑͒h̸̜̹͒̅a̶̦͙̒v̵͖̄͝ë̷̯́ ̸̭̘̀̊ą̶̥̀̕ļ̴͝s̸̨̟̈o̵̧̒̐ ̷̨̍͆ń̷͔ě̶̯͈̓g̴͉͗̑ḽ̸̄e̴̤̱͛̕c̷̙̤͐̿t̶̨̯̉e̴͎̾͜͝d̸̻͋ ̶̡̎̀t̵̲̾͗͜o̸̭̐ ̸͔͎̓̈́à̴͇s̶̩̍k̷͓̳̽͒,̵͕͍̅ ̷̫̗̎h̸̯͈̅o̶̙͒w̴̞̒ ̵̈ͅľ̷̡o̸̖̍̕n̴̼͂̐g̸̜̏ ̶̳̠̿u̴̙̾̈n̶̲͍͗ṫ̸̗̺í̸̧̳l̴̘͝ ̴̪̈́͛ẇ̶̰̇ȇ̵̹̓ ̷̞͇͑̑c̵̟̜̈a̶̱̓͜ṋ̴͇̿͛ ̸̲͑l̵̺̝͑͋ę̸͎̿a̶̞͎͌v̴̛̹e̸̟̾?̶͖̽[/o]
  108. At least another week.
  109. [o]>'̶̞͎͒͝Ḑ̸̗̕á̷̘ṇ̴͒̉ǵ̸̫̈́'̵̜͐ ̴͍̘͐͝ï̶̙n̴͔̥̐d̷̩͐͌é̴͖̿e̵͕̦͆ḑ̸̭̚.̸̙͇̕.̸̪͝.̴͉̐͋[/o]
  110. >You all continue relaxing by the fire (as best you can, for the two alien monstrosities) before Twilight decides it's time to take care of something else
  111. >"Hey Anon, I'm going to do laundry. Do you want me to throw your sold gear in for you?"
  112. "Sure, thanks."
  113. >So Twilight gets up, takes your dirty clothes, and heads off to the laundry room
  114. >Time for some alone time with Astra to get more things in order
  115. So, the way I see things, you're going to try to take over every living being on this planet and absorb them all into you. Am I correct?
  116. [o]>Y̵̰̭̑o̷̫̔̑͜u̴̘̿͠ ̷̢̳̈̓a̷͔̋r̵̜̱̃e̸̩͛̂,̸̥͈͛̇ ̷͔̯̇à̷͉n̵͙̓d̵̘̉ ̸̧̥͒ẃ̸̧̰ḧ̷̬e̷̘̊͊ṉ̶̡͑͑ ̶̡̨̑w̵̧̩͊͌ȩ̴̇̐ ̷͉̼̀h̴̻́͛à̷̙͆v̷͎̥͛e̸̼͛̎ ̶̪̉̊c̵̬͇̾͝o̵̟͗̃n̷͖̔͆s̵̫͂͘ṷ̸̮̐̎m̶̻̘̃ë̵̡͎́͐d̷̢̈ ̴͇̰̎͘a̶̲̽͊ľ̶͎l̶̛̹̯̐ ̴̝̣̔͌h̸̗̤̄̇ę̵́͜r̵͕̚é̴̙̤,̸̪͒ ̷̡̋͋ÿ̵̺o̸͎͛̐u̴͔̠̽͒ ̷̜͛ẇ̸̦̳̐i̸͍̍̐l̸̺̇̑l̶͚̓̇ ̶̰̥̑͝j̵̺̟̃o̵̳̓i̵̯͖͋́n̸͇͈̑ ̸̡̟̾̋ụ̵̘͝ș̴͍̃͐ ̴̹̭͆a̷̹̣͛s̷̘͚̐͗ ̸̜̭̏̕w̴̞͊͠ḙ̴͚͆ ̸̡̈́̉m̶̠̙̄ō̶̢v̶̥̜̆͆e̵̞̘̽ ̶̯̐͝ŏ̵̳͑ṋ̴̣̈́̕ ̴͕̺́t̷̓̐ͅo̶̥͂̈́ ̸͖̼̈́̋ţ̷̪͝h̵͈͘e̷̢̓̚ ̸̱̄ş̵̡́t̵̹̂̕a̴̰͝r̶̮̆̌ş̶̍ ̸̤̔á̸̬̖̑n̷̰͇͆d̴̻̓͜ ̴͙̜̓g̶̜̋ͅr̷̛̖̉ö̵͔̱́̚w̴͕͙̾͝ ̸̦̮̕e̶̖̯͠v̵̫͙̊e̸̢̗͝r̵͖̐ ̸̨̪̐g̴̰̕̕ŗ̷̉̈è̸̙̫a̵̳̗͛̿t̵̞͍̕ě̷̻r̴͕̂̚.̴̰̈́͝[/o]
  117. So then we're in opposition.
  118. [o]>H̴̡̱͋͝m̸͔̔?̸̤̦̾͗[/o]
  119. I've already told you, if I assimilate [i]anything,[/i] it'll be the same incomplete assimilation that made me and nothing more.
  120. [o]>B̸̞̟̿̍ụ̴̐t̸͚̖̊͝ ̶́͜͜͠y̶̜̯͆͒ỏ̷͕͠u̷̠͔͑̈́ ̸̛̜̬̄ş̵̮͘ẗ̸̯̝̕ȋ̶̜͚̈l̴̦̗͊́l̵̙̄ ̶͕̏͘n̸̡͆͐e̷̠͗ḙ̷̦͊͝d̸͕̓͝ ̴̳͂t̵̟͉̽ȏ̸͔̞ ̸̣͂l̸̲͒ẹ̸̺̇͝ä̸̡́̎ͅr̴̻̮̓n̸̖̙̍ ̴͇͖̓a̵͙͌s̴̞̀̎s̵͙̐̈́í̸̘m̶̧̄̾i̷͓̿̈́ͅl̴̛̘ä̴̺́̓͜t̸̨̃i̶͕̅͋o̴̘̫͊̋n̶̺̭͗,̸̗̔ ̵̮͌a̵̧͊n̴̮̚d̸̻͗̎ ̶͉̞̈i̸̳͉̅ň̵̫͔c̸͙̜̓͛o̶̢̩͒́m̶̛̳̭̀p̵̲̌l̶̮̍̃e̵̤͉͌t̵̝̠̐̕ë̷̹́̆ ̷̧̐a̸̺̓s̸͚͔͑͗s̶̯̅̓i̵̖͗̕m̸͈͝ĩ̸̧l̵̼̀͌a̸͙̲͝t̸̀̾ͅi̶̗̒̔o̸̧͋͊n̴̹͙͛̓ ̴̮͒ͅì̷͓ṡ̷̱̼̐ ̷̳̩̏a̵̲̱͠ ̵̨̊v̵̨̆͗è̴͖̥r̵̢̦̀̚y̶͚̰̾̏ ̶̳̲͛h̴̢̞͂ä̸͚́r̸͕̈́̋d̵̗͊ ̶͈̄͠m̵͖̆͂ī̶̪̭͠s̴̳͉͑̐ṭ̵̢̏̆á̵̠͗ḱ̵̦͖̒e̷̤͗ ̴̼͆͋t̶̗̓͋ǒ̶̼̯ ̵̲̅́m̷̰̚͝à̸͍ǩ̷̮̹͘ę̵̻͗ ̵͍̀̈a̶̯͑͒s̶͖͈̈́ ̴̩̙̒a̶̹͑ ̴̙̠̏͒b̴̮̅̎ė̶̬g̷͎̣͘i̴͓̍̊n̵̖̥͝͝n̴̤̖̔͒e̴͙̙͑̀r̴͎͒̽.̷̯͛͜[/o]
  121. Then I'll just test it out on something non-sentient.
  122. [o]>Y̶̧̝͗̆ô̴͈ǘ̶̼̂r̷͉͛ ̸͍̊f̷̙́̈ĩ̸̞ȑ̸̤̓s̷̗̈́̋ť̸̝̈́ ̴̚͜a̴͖̘͐s̵̟͎͐s̷͎͍̔i̴͈̋̽m̴̢̤̏̒i̶̡̯̍̆l̷̩͖͌ǎ̵̲͜t̴̲͙̍ỉ̴̭ŏ̴̦̪n̵̖̥͊ ̷͍̒ẃ̶̧̲í̶̲̼ḻ̵̇̈́ĺ̴͙̕ ̷̹̼̋͠b̸̧̊͋e̵͖͊͋ ̷̦͎̔͝ḁ̷͌ ̵̮̰̈́̑c̴͖͊͐ȯ̵̳̱̀m̵̧̛͖p̷͎͎͊l̸̡͍̔͝ê̵̤t̶̟́ȩ̵̖̏̈́ ̷͖͆͠o̶̘͋̓n̶̰̬̓e̵̺̒,̶̨͕̀̈́ ̷̛̰͔̕a̸̧̒̈́n̷̘͚͒ḋ̵̪̕ ̶̼̦́̾o̶͈͘n̴͈͌c̵̣̀e̵̱̟͋ ̸͈͛̓ÿ̷͍́͠o̵̭̘͂͝û̶̩̳ ̵͉̹̈́a̸̠̎c̸̱͖̿̒c̴͉̈́o̵̖͈̒͠ḿ̵̧̼̐p̶̲̃̉l̸̦͆̐ḭ̷̡̿̀s̶͕͚͝h̷̳̝͌ ̵̢͈̑ȉ̶̺̣̀t̵̄̃ͅͅ,̸̤̝́̕ ̸̢̜̔́y̶̪͠o̷̳̿̊ù̵̜͓̕ ̷̧̾w̸̛̤̦i̵̼͉̐̄l̷̠͉̉̚l̸͚͗ ̸̨̛͉̋l̷̯̭̈́͂ẻ̴͉̯̏ả̴̮ṟ̷͕̕n̷͚̍ ̷̥̪̚w̷̛̪͆h̵̢͔͛͑y̷̖̰͌͘ ̴̢͈͒b̶͊̈͜ë̴̮̙̐i̶̩̝̽n̴̪̫͛g̸͇̬͐ ̶͖͆͝o̶̳͝f̵͉̥̾ ̸̫̆͊ǒ̵̞ǹ̶͚̀ͅe̴̜̅͗͜ ̵̤̒m̸̬͑͑i̴̯͓̾n̵̗̔͝d̵̳̽ ̶̖̻̍͗à̶͍n̸̮̔͜d̸̻̪̊͂ ̶̮̑ͅm̴̢͈̓͝a̷̝͠ň̸̞̽ỵ̵̈́ ̵̛͇́b̴̳̑ͅo̷͔͐͝d̸̤̲͂̔i̵̤̬̋ȩ̴͈̀͗s̶̗̤̐̔ ̶̭̲̎i̷͕͆s̶̰̗̓ ̷̫̔̎s̷̞̦̉͝ǘ̶͍p̷̺͒è̸̙r̵͕̟̂̓i̷̳̐o̵̘̤͘r̷̩͉̃͠ ̶̮̇t̴̻̔̀o̴̭̬͠ ̶̤̆͑b̸̲͑ě̸̫̦ḭ̸͎̑̋n̸̠̟̔g̴̪͂͊ͅ ̶̯̀̋o̸̩͚̍f̸͍̕ ̶̺͓̈́̂m̶͓̫͊à̵̭̮̔n̵̫͠ỳ̷̼ ̸̽͝ͅm̴͙̍͊i̷̭͋͝n̶͚̋͘ͅḍ̷̎͝s̷̮̈͆ ̶̭̉͘a̸͚͊͒ň̷̘͔d̶͔͎͗̈ ̶͖͙͑m̶͚̊̓a̴̜̺͑ṇ̷͉̇ŷ̴͕ ̶͚͍́ḇ̶̥͌͘ō̷͉̳͛d̸͒ͅi̵̲̚e̵̩̐̎s̷̫̾̏.̷̞̮̈́̈́[/o]
  123. And why is it so fantastic to be a hivemind?
  124. [o]>T̷̳͗͠ͅh̷̨̉͜ḛ̵̊̕r̴̺̼̂ẽ̶͍̻̆ ̶̫́̀į̵̧̒́s̸͚͌̄ ̸̲͂̉u̶̻̽̏n̶̹̈́i̷̠̙̾̽ṭ̸͖̈́y̷̨͑͘ ̴̱̄ẅ̸̖́i̷̬͌t̴̘͂ḩ̷̇i̵̯̱͆͋ń̸̩̿ ̵͓͑͘ü̷̼̠s̵̙̈́͜!̸̧̬̒ ̴̙̺̂̓W̸̥͗̃i̶͕͒ť̶̠̚h̴̞͓͌o̴͇͜͠ȗ̶̖̫t̸̟͠ ̴̨̛͉o̴͚͛n̶̪̱̆e̴͖͇̾̈́n̶̨̢͊̾e̶̜͑s̷̯̓͝s̴͕̽̐,̷̮͎̒̏ ̷͇͗͒ṫ̸̯̀h̶͔̎̊ḙ̸̄͝r̷̻̀e̴̠͑͝ ̴̙̤̓í̷͓̝͝s̴̮͋͜͝ ̷̣̏͝o̵̧̓ǹ̸͕̪̃ḽ̴̰̉y̸̺͗͝ ̴̡͓̓d̵̠̲̒͝ì̵̢̉ș̷͇̇͘s̸͕̠̿͊õ̵̲n̷̻̄̽ȧ̷̩̰ń̸̘̦c̷̛̲̘̀ě̶̞̊.̵̫͝ ̶̻̭̓̈́Ẅ̷͉́į̸̽t̵͔͝ḧ̵̘́ͅ ̸̬̋͜͠i̴̟̫͋̊t̴̨͑,̵̝͇͊͠ ̵̻̑̽t̷̤͉̉̽h̴̡͚͒̽e̴̹̣̐r̵̹̗̂͝é̵͈̏ ̵̪̀̑ị̶̛̝s̶̻̄ ̷̖̝͝h̴̞̤͒̅ȃ̴̯̲ȑ̵̯m̷̛̼̉o̶͚̬͛̔n̵̰̊͐y̶͉̔.̷̬̩̅́ ̶̘̼͛͛Õ̶̢̗̉u̶̺͝ṛ̴̈́̕ ̷͚͆v̷̦͍͋ő̴͔ȉ̵̬c̴̪͈̉͂e̶͕͋͘͜ ̸͙͐ḭ̷̢́s̷̫̊ ̸̱̌̐t̸̝͕͠h̶̻̦̓à̷͖t̴͓̄́ ̴͙́̕o̴̯̊f̴̤̜͋̚ ̵͖̈́a̴̪̩͐ ̵̥͐̕ͅc̶̻͝h̵̓͜ͅo̵͖̠͐̐i̷͎̦͑ŗ̷͒,̸̨͒ ̷̻̏o̵̬͌ǹ̸͈e̴̼͋ ̸̣̙͒̏t̵͕͛h̷̲̟́͘ǎ̶̹t̸̨̝̓͂ ̷̻̐͆s̷̢̠̓h̴̪̑ḁ̸̖̽͝l̵͔͍̈́͝l̵͓̫͛ ̴̮̘̋͒ṣ̷͍̆͘î̶̡̫n̵̟̒̈́g̴̲̬͘ ̵͎̂f̸̪̫͂o̷̖͔͐r̵͋͌͜e̶͙̤̎ṽ̵̠͕é̵͜r̵̝̀̍ ̶̰̇ȯ̵͇n̶̮̝͛̔ ̶̖̽i̸͈̺̅n̷͉̂ṯ̶̪̎͠o̵͎̩͂ ̵͖́t̸̗̚i̷̪̍͆m̷̜̏e̴̓̕͜ ̶̡͘ẁ̶̳͝i̷̗̟͐t̵̙̭͆͘h̴̝̓͗ö̸̢́u̶̫͈͂͂t̴̢̩̉͐ ̴͖̣̈́͝n̵͎͗͝â̶̰̜͛r̶̳͚̐̀y̵̻̮̾ ̵̬̜̄̕a̸̬̜͆̑ ̵̭̅̒ẉ̴̙̃ä̶̡̘v̵͙̆ë̴̼́͂ͅr̴̡̹̽͐.̵͖͊̉[/o]
  125. But with that chorus, you lose something essential to all other life!
  126. [o]>Ā̴̲̟̏n̷̩͐d̸̼̪͛ ̴̞̽̿w̷̘̘̿͊h̷̞͋͛a̶̬̞̎ẗ̶̺́́ ̴͙̠̏͝w̷̙̿̇o̵̢̘̊u̷͇͌l̸̰͋͜d̴̉ͅ ̵̧͠ț̷̊̃h̵̥͋a̸̦͂̋t̶̪͇̽ ̸̻̦̍ḇ̸͝e̴͇̊͌?̴̥̄[/o]
  127. You lose the whole point of life! You lose the interactions between yourself and others, you lose the perspective gained from one other than yourself, and may I say most importantly, you lose the ability to form an organic connection with someone else.
  128. [o]>Ă̸̧n̷̛̘̋d̸͓̓̏ ̵̳̔͋ỳ̶̬ė̶͎t̶̙͙̅͝ ̷͇̳͊͗ẅ̴͔̱́ȩ̴͚̈ ̷̢̍̿à̵͜ŕ̴̜̯̚ḙ̷̦̇͠ ̷̹̰̌͑c̷̻̩̕o̵͉͊n̴̞̤͝n̴̲̆e̷̹̅c̵̜̤͆t̶̖̉̚e̷̘͂̉ͅd̵̨̻́ ̶̨͝o̸̘͕̐r̵̟̲̆g̴̗͇̐͗ả̶̫n̸̥̋i̸̼̋c̷̣̄c̷͉̒́a̵̝̳̒l̸̹̽̀l̵̗̯̏y̶͎͝ ̵̢̛̍t̷̡̿̀ẖ̷͝͝r̵̢̒o̵͓̻͊u̶̠̠͊g̸͋ͅḣ̸̤̂ ̸̡͕̈́̆b̷͖̀̽ö̶̢͓͘d̶͚̬̏́ỳ̷͈.̷̮͔͗[/o]
  129. I wasn't using the literal meaning and you know it. The connection between us was forced by the assimilation process, but I'm going to do everything in my power to bring you around to my point of view, or at the very least see it.
  130. [o]>A̶̲̟͠ ̷̣͉̀v̸͕̬͛ä̷͓͙́l̴̜̎i̶͉͚̍̚a̴̩͈̐n̷̺͝ͅẗ̸̲́ ̵̠͝e̶͖̲̎̈́f̸̹͐ͅf̷̺̿ọ̵̞͗ŗ̷͔̈́t̸̪͒,̷̥̈̒ ̷̧͈̓́b̷̻̂u̵͔͂ẗ̷̲́͗ ̶̢͍͂w̴̳̄̈h̴͕̩̐̂ḯ̸̖̽ļ̵̺͑͗ê̴͈̕ ̸̢͉̽ÿ̴͇ò̴̪̖ŭ̴̟ṟ̴̜̋̏ ̸̗̄ͅs̸͈͕̈́͋ò̷̳̥ļ̴͉̓́o̵͈̺͘̕ ̷̀̌͜m̷̝͗a̴̬̣͌y̵͎̌ ̶̲̘͛c̴̰̀́a̷͙̭͗͝l̷̜̓̇l̴̩̖̇ ̸̟̏͜i̶̠̍n̵̼̭͂̌ ̸͇͊̏o̵̟͊p̷͎͝ṕ̵̱͝ò̶̢̲͘s̴͙͒i̶̤͋̽ͅt̵̤͝i̴̳͌̏ó̷͓n̵̠͇͠ ̸̢͖̀f̴͈͚̍̅o̴̹̓̏ŗ̵̑ ̷̮́̍n̵͍̰̓ȯ̷̪̎w̶̬͗,̵͉̻͌ ̸͖̉s̶̯̤̊̕o̵̬͘ö̷̗̪́̄n̸̝̏ ̸̲̪̄ŷ̵̤̀o̷͎̿͝u̸̧͎͗́ ̸̘̏͝w̷̢̠̓̓ï̶̛̙͍l̸̢̤̄͊l̴̪̦̄ ̸̛̯j̴̳́ọ̶̀̏i̷͉̮͋̈ṉ̶̢̇ ̴͉̆̈t̴͕̳͒h̴͕̑͘ė̴͎̠͝ ̶̙̰͒͘t̸͇̄̇i̷̬̙̊m̴̘̫͌̓e̷̞̝͆l̸͎̙̚e̵͙͙͂š̷̼̣ṡ̴͇̞ ̴̳̟̍c̶̪̈ḧ̶̤́o̵̫̬̊̓ŕ̵̟ṵ̷̽s̸̳̓ ̴͉̒a̴͍͌̇͜n̶̻͕̉ḓ̸̛ ̴̘͍̀͠s̶̳̿ị̷̖͋͗ǹ̴͕̲͊ĝ̸̙̆ ̴̤̪̀͑e̶̗̓͝v̶͇̠̔e̵͇͆r̶̬̠̂l̴̈͜ä̴̯͕́s̷̞̽ṫ̸͛͜i̸̙̽̽n̵̥̠̑g̵͇̬̋ ̶̥̀̎w̵̧̠̅̍ì̴̟t̴̛̞h̷̜̰̾̒ ̵̧̻́u̴̲̚s̵̫̀.̶͉́[/o]
  131. >You would say something along the lines of 'we'll call this a draw, then', but you hear a voice calling over from across the complex
  132. >"Anon, would you mind coming over here for a minute?"
  133. "Yeah, gimme a sec."
  134. >You stand up and trot over to the laundry room, leaving Astra to its own devices in the living area with one final word:
  135. Don't mess with anything, I'll be back in a bit.
  136. >A short while later, you stand before Twilight
  137. >"Anon, would you mind explaining something to me?"
  138. "Sure, what is it?"
  139. >"I'm surprised I didn't notice it when you came back inside, but your undershirt has a large hole in it with a surprisingly large amount of blood around it. Are you alright?"
  140. >Oh shit
  141. >Time to see how good you are at lying!
  142. "Oh, yeah, that. Don't worry, it's not that bad. Astra just jolted up from under me when I found her and her horn caught me from below. It didn't hurt that bad so I didn't say anything, but I guess it did more than I thought."
  143. >Twilight starts nodding in consideration of what you said
  144. >Good, she's buying it!
  145. >"All the same, I'd still like to see it to make sure it's really okay."
  146. >Oh fuck
  147. >Looks like you're going to have to prove your lie
  148. >Well, you have a second before Twilight gets into position, that's enough time to create an open wound, right?
  149. >You concentrate on your barrel and imagine about what the wound should look like, willing your body to reshape itself as fast as it can right before Twilight begins her examination of the afflicted area
  150. >
  151. >"Ooh, yeah, that's definitely a cut. It's not deep though, you should be fine letting it heal normally. Just tell me if it looks, feels, or acts different, okay? We can't have you getting an infection this far from a hospital!"
  152. >Twilight smirks a bit at this last statement, both of you knowing full well you just teleported here
  153. >You, however, simply roll your eyes and agree before leaving to let her finish the laundry
  154. >At least that's what you do on the outside
  155. >On the inside, you breathe a heavy sigh of relief at having dodged a bullet
  156. >Also, you learned how to shapeshift!
  157. >Nice!
  158. >When you return to the living room, you find Astra right where you left it
  159. [o]>C̴̜̄͐o̸̗͚͋n̷̝̝̈́g̵̙͌r̴̲̭͒a̶̖͂̿ͅṫ̴̝̭u̷̢͒l̶͕̰̅͝a̵̼̓ṯ̶͇̈́î̸̖̽o̷̢͆ň̶̝̗s̴̫͉͋͊,̶̞̔̚ ̸̙̓̈́y̵̧̔o̵̫͉͂͐u̷̡͚̓͊'̸̥̙̎̊r̸̫̎e̶͑ͅ ̸͎̯̄̄l̷̜̏̈e̶̞͚͒͆a̵͈͓̓r̴̞̍ñ̵͔̠i̴͔̖͠n̵̦͉̒̃g̶̬͠ ̴͙͐́v̴̡̕͘e̶̞͌r̷͙̊̾y̴̠͍͆ ̷͔̋͜q̵̝̤́͌u̶̯̔̕ī̷̡̜c̷̣̪͋͠k̵͕̂l̴̜͚͋̀ỳ̷̬̾!̴̗̆[/o]
  160. >Hold up
  161. ... You can tell what I'm doing even when I'm not directly talking to you?
  162. [o]>W̶̩̒ê̷̳ ̴̡̮̾̒c̷̟̞̿́ä̴̞͜n̸̞̈ ̶̲̀d̵͙̓̋o̸͍͘͠ ̶͎̜̎̂ṃ̴̈͑a̴̲̻͠ṇ̶̜͂͗ȳ̵̥͇͊ ̴͓̏͊t̴̢͖̕ĥ̸̫i̶̧̿̅n̴͈̖͊͛g̴̼̤͋̆s̴̩͖͒,̵̳̰̂̒ ̷̥́m̷͍̄ḁ̵̀n̴͙̤͛̈́y̸̘͛ ̶̮̚o̷̧̲͝f̶̞͓͋͛ ̷̲̺̑w̷̯̺̏h̷̟̣̀͆ḯ̸͈̼̐c̷̨̢̅̉h̸̖̾͒ ̶̦͇̈̀ÿ̸̫́ő̸̦̣͝u̷̧̞͗̿ ̵̛̝͎̀h̴̤͇̚a̴̹̓v̸͕͇͠ê̷̜̺̋ ̵̬͈̓y̸̩̞͐͝e̴̼̾͌t̴̲́ ̵̩̄t̶̮͗̇o̷̹̭͂ ̵̢͔̆́l̸̳͔̈́e̶͉͋̾á̶̖r̵̹͋̈ͅn̸̛̝̲.̶̠͓̉ ̵̺̩̅̋Ĉ̷̪͍o̴̜̰̎̈ṇ̶͠t̸̹̳͝r̸̆͝ͅȏ̵̘̆͜ḽ̷̐̌l̵̖̠̀͂i̶̖͖̍̕n̷͙͓͌ǧ̸̬ ̸̭̈̅p̷͈͆͜ä̴͚ȓ̶̟̌t̸̡̮̅̂s̷͚̚͠ ̶̩̓͆o̴̙̫͒͝f̷̜̕ ̵̤̋y̷̙͎͐ȍ̵̠̰͂ū̴̙̀r̵̲͝s̸͚͖͑̿ẽ̶͍͖̈́ḷ̶͆͗f̷̰̅ ̸̡̽f̷̜̑͝r̵̮̼͆͛ơ̴̭̒m̴̗̈ ̸͔̞̅̑a̶̹̩̽̈f̷̯͈̎̚ȧ̸͈̃r̷̡̭͛͘ ̶̫̑́o̵̱̪̓̿r̵̺̽̎ ̵̢́͗s̵̖̆í̴̳m̸̢͕̊͝p̸̬͛̎l̶͎̤͌̑y̸̨͉͌̂ ̸̯͔̆k̷̡͒ņ̸͘o̴̥̗̅w̸̮͋i̴̪̳̍̇n̸̤̑g̸͚̰̋̏ ̷̺̯̍̐ẃ̶̲͘ḣ̸̩̭̕a̶̭͗́͜ţ̴͔͊ ̵̫̙̂͝ő̶̘̲n̵̝̯̒e̷͓͆͐ ̷͎̈͜ô̸͚͝f̵̨̖͋ ̶̰̇̓u̸̱̬͑ş̷̦̇ ̸̫͑í̶̪͗s̴̙̖̎ ̴͎̯̅u̴̥̿͝ͅp̷̟̭̒̕ ̵̫͕̆̏ţ̴͑͜ö̷̳̺́̈ ̵̫̈̏ȧ̵͕̘r̷̳̫̐̓ę̴̮̃ ̴̹́̓a̴̡̽͠m̵̘̆͝ǫ̷̨̈́̈́n̵̩̺̈͘ġ̶̱̝̽ ̸̢͓̈́̔t̷͎̆̔h̶͓͝o̵͎̅̋s̸̘̽́e̵̛̞̱͊ ̴̹̲̈̚a̵̤̪̕b̷̥͆̔ḯ̶̢̖̇l̴͎̀i̸̧͈̾t̶̪͂i̷̙͐̕e̵͎̟͆s̷͈͗.̸̡͚͌͗[/o]
  163. Ohhhkay then. Well, I might as well tell you what prompted it; Twilight found that nasty hole you left in my shirt, and I managed to bluff my way out of that situation.
  164. [o]>T̸͓̜͛̈h̷͖͎͝ẽ̸͙n̸̝̾̓ ̵̣̈́̍ẇ̴̱͕e̷̻̮̒̀ ̷̦̐a̴̟̿r̸̟̍̅e̸̙͈͝ ̶̨̟̿͠s̸͕̃͜t̶͖͑͜ì̸̪l̵̳̑̿ļ̵͍̉̈́ ̷͓̕ś̸͈͙̋a̵͔͐̚f̶̦̉̈́e̶̳͋?̵̨̙͑[/o]
  165. For now; just remember to not do anything to change that.
  166. [o]>P̸̲̋̍a̵̺̒̂ț̶̱́i̴̮͊̇e̸̱̞͘n̸̹̽c̵̘̫̈͌ę̷͔̓͋ ̵̟̔͗í̵̧̮s̵͓͆ ̵̺̗̓ỏ̷͔̬n̴͔̎ͅe̴̗̩̐ ̷̠́ö̶̱̲́f̶̛͖͗ ̵̫͉̇o̵̟̓ͅu̵̪̍͐ŗ̸͊ ̸̜̙̎̓v̸̠̌̽ï̸̘r̸̦̓t̴͈͐u̴͎͉̾͂ĕ̵͖ŝ̴̬̠;̷̲͆̑ ̶͈̍͝ẃ̵͎͔̌ě̴͉ ̸͖͐͝ḧ̷͉͙ã̸̻̳͛ṽ̸̻ȩ̵͎́ ̸̢̗̔͛w̷̰̄a̴̰͘i̴̦͝t̵̰̹̄ȇ̶̦̞͆d̸̖̞͐ ̶̖̱́͂t̷̲͘h̴͓́i̴͎̒͜ś̴̜͜ ̵̞̭̑l̴̺̋o̸̭͍͑n̷͙͆͌g̷̭͐͝ ̵̳̾t̵̯̂õ̴̗̲͠ ̵̘̾́ē̴̢̦̚s̷̺̃̆c̵͚̎͌a̷̠̰̋́p̷̘̏͘ȇ̸͈,̵̢͍̀ ̵̢̰̆à̸̫̱n̴͚͑̀ö̷̘́t̸͎̂ͅḫ̸̐ͅĕ̶͙r̷̼͚͗ ̵͈̔͆f̵̦̾̈́ȩ̴̉̉w̸̙͗ ̸̛̗̈ḑ̷͑͝ä̸̮̬y̵̻̑s̴͎̓͘ ̵̧̓̾i̶̢͙͐s̴͈͆ ̷͖̼̃͝t̶̛͈̊r̴͙̬̉î̶̲v̸̮̞̇ǐ̴͔͙a̷̻̓l̸̹̰̿̔.̴̜̕[/o]
  167. >And soon enough, another few days is indeed up
  168. >You and Astra have spent the time exchanging further information about the plan ahead, with you trying to convince it to take your side and it doing its best to bring you to its, all the while you two playing up your relationship around Twilight
  169. >At the very least, you're going to make this interstellar monster honor the deal!
  170. >It's T-minus about 10 minutes before purple teleports you all back, and you're going over some last few things with Astra while Twilight's off packing her equipment
  171. I'm just going to say this now, NO ASSIMILATIONS when we get back. I've said this numerous times, but I'm seriously not kidding. You start doing anything like that, I rat you out to Twilight and we both die.
  172. [o]>Y̸̟̲͑̃õ̴̬̪̑u̸̜͆̚ ̸̮͙̊̽h̷͍͋͜ȁ̶̜̪͌v̷̼͑e̷̦͍͂ ̷͖́s̵̛̰̜a̵̛̤͘i̶͉̽d̵̫͔̋͝ ̶̭̠͆t̵̝́͂h̶͉̚i̵̺͐s̷͚̑,̷̺̻̈ ̸̲̙̏y̴͕̭̑e̸̓͜t̴̳͙̉ ̵͍̻̑͆ẁ̸̘̾ẻ̵̝̗ ̷̧̹͐ś̴̟͋t̶̗̽͒ỉ̷͉l̶̫͜͝l̵͈̱͋ ̵̹̄ṡ̶̨̗͋ë̴̺̙́e̸̠̝̋ ̷̝͘ǹ̶̬̈ȏ̵̜̰ ̷͎͇͝r̴̭̳̈́e̵̫̓̈́ͅā̶̪̽s̸̠̉o̶̞̐̕n̸͍̬̄ș̶̢̅ ̶̲̣͑a̶̢̛͘s̷̤͓̑͌ ̷̰̑̃ť̸̙o̴̝̺͆̇ ̵̻̊̊ẇ̷̫h̴͎̥̿̌y̶̞̔͂ ̷̮̤̒w̴̮̄̕ẽ̵͕̣ ̵̢̎͗s̶̻͑̚h̵̭̝͊̉ȍ̶̱̳̀ù̴̖ĺ̸̮̍d̴̺͠n̵̯̆'̵͉̺͑t̵̡͉̋.̶̭̏[/o]
  173. Because Twilight will fry both of us where we stand, and even if you get rid of her, then we still have to worry about the two magic users capable of flinging celestial bodies around like they were tennis balls finding out and throwing us into the sun before crushing the remains with the moon.
  174. [o]>T̸͖͓̅̊h̴̹̟̍ė̶̤n̷̯͗ ̵̘͑w̵͙̅ȩ̴̍͝'̸̦͂l̸̩̝̓l̴̫̑͗ ̷̦̏͘ä̸͔́̏ś̵̹̮̓ṣ̸͐i̵̢͙͂͌m̵̬͗͘ȋ̸̪͘ḽ̵̡̽ȧ̷̧t̸̞̚e̵̜͑͜ ̶̤̫̐̌t̸͖̆̀h̸͓̀e̸͔̎́m̶̠͋͂ ̶͚͗t̷̟͐̉o̴̢͕͛õ̷̲͜.̷̢͍̎͌[/o]
  175. They're surrounded by a small army of guards at all hours of the day and night, many of them also magical and all of them knowledgable of all entrances in and out of the castle.
  176. [o]>A̷̰̾͝s̶̩̉s̸̮̚i̵͔̊m̸̱̻̈́i̵̩͂͝l̷̳̀̌ā̸͠ͅt̴̨̤̓̎ȩ̶͉̏ ̷͈͌͘͜t̷̨̀͂h̵̰̰̀́e̵̖͛ ̸̩͆g̷͕̈́u̸̞̯̅a̸͓̥̍r̶͙͎̂d̸̼̬̀s̴̛̯̖̑,̸̝̼̽͆ ̴͎̮͂͆d̶̜̊̈ǫ̵̮́ ̶̜̟͗͂y̵̧̠̅̐ǒ̴̞̗ű̵͍ ̵͔͘n̶͙͔͠ö̷̮̪́̓t̸͈͂ ̶̰́ș̸̯̋͊ȩ̷͖͐́e̴̩̤̐ ̸̜̩̾h̸̯͒o̴̟͖͆̀w̷̙͛̌ ̴̠͝ä̷̤͖s̷͍̤̓́s̶̰͇̚ỉ̵͉̟m̷̊ͅî̴̫̯̌ḻ̵͗̿à̶̮̑t̷̬̣͌i̸̛̲̐o̵̹̣͆ņ̵̈́ ̷̥̝̐̃s̴̞̈o̸̡͔͆̒l̵͎̈́v̸͇́ͅë̴̱̹͠s̸̖͑̚ ̸̨̹̓̒a̶̻̲͂͝l̴̢̟͛̋l̶̫͈̓̎ ̴̢͓̒̄ő̷͜u̷̬͓̐͝r̸̡͑ ̷̲̊͒p̸̙̈r̴̛̖͎o̷̟͆͒b̴̡͝l̶̰͆ë̷̱͖͌m̴̹͙͑s̵͍̽?̸̲̍[/o]
  177. I see how it solves all YOUR rpoblems, but it only gives me more to deal with.
  178. [o]>Ŵ̴̮́e̷̖͂̑ ̶̪́ẁ̶̪ḙ̶́͛r̷̩͘è̵̼̜n̴͑͝ͅ'̸̻̼͑t̴͉͛͑ ̶̢̿r̷̬̊͗ĕ̴̳̃f̸̤̾̍e̵̹͖̓ṛ̷̦̇̉r̷̗̓ĩ̷̗̀n̸͍̩̕ĝ̵̹ ̴̯̗̾t̶͇̩̆o̶̠̐̅ ̴̭́ȳ̴̬ö̸̙͆u̴̡̠͌̈́ ̸̠̉ị̷̽n̷̳͠ ̸̟̖̀t̸̢͐̏h̸̳͛a̶͇͕͠t̵̢̰̓ ̵̼̖͑͘s̶̮͎̕t̵̢̩̓̇ǎ̷̳̉t̶̘͠e̵͍̦͆m̴͖͖̈́ḙ̷̿n̵̗̈t̵͉̖͛ ̸͉̖͌̚a̸̛͇̰͝n̶͓̾́ͅd̶͈̣͛̓ ̴̺̋͂ÿ̸̦́̔o̸̻͑͜u̷̡̻̾ ̴̧̓k̷̙̱̑͘n̷̨̓o̷̲̙̍̓w̸̟̉ ̶͖͛i̶͎͚̓̓ṭ̴̈́̒.̴͔̫͒[/o]
  179. >You chuckle internally at that statement, solely for the reason that the unfeeling alien monstrosity is slowly picking up some of your phrases
  180. Regardless, do not.
  181. [o]>R̷͇̻͐̎ë̸͚͝g̵̳͝a̷̺̐̽r̴̺̿̂ͅd̷̳̺̓l̸̪̿̈ḝ̴s̸̫̃͊s̴̖̿,̶̯̲͛ ̷̫̦̐͂Ĩ̴̼ ̸̢̯̀̎w̵̧̻͒͝i̷͕͉̓̌l̷̖̯̎l̶̳͐̇.̵̻͔́͐[/o]
  182. >"Alright, I'm finished packing. Are you two having a staring contest, or something?"
  183. >You and Astra both turn to see Twilight standing in the doorway, a small mountain of cases and bags floating in the air behind her
  184. "Yeah, we figured it would kill some time while you were gathering..."
  185. >You gesture to the aforementioned mountain
  186. "... All that."
  187. >"Yeah, it's a lot, but I needed to pick up where I left off last time I was here and it took me long enough to get these two weeks booked. Had to make the most of it, you know? Astra, you get it, right?"
  188. >Astra takes a second to register that it's been put on the spot, and answers accordingly
  189. [o]>"Sure?"[/o]
  190. >"Eh, kind of a weird question I guess. Anyway, get ready to teleport in 3... 2... 1..."
  191. >A brief flash of purple later, all three of you along with your luggage and Twilight's copious amount of crap are all back in front of Twilight's castle, under the moonlight
  192. >Another flash fings out immediately, and all the crap and your luggage are off in their respective storage locations
  193. >With all that taken care of, Twilight decides to open another dialogue
  194. >"So, Astra, Will you be fine getting back to your own house from here?"
  195. [o]>"I'll be fine, no need to worry."[/o]
  196. >"Really? because I can handle any train fare you may need, or-"
  197. [o]>"No, it's fine. I actually don't live too far off, so I'm cool."[/o]
  198. >"Fantastic! Then I guess I'll leave the rest to you; it was nice meeting you, and I hope to hear from you again!"
  199. [o]>"Likewise, Miss Sparkle, I'll hopefully see you soon."[/o]
  200. >Twilight then outstretches her hoof for a shake, which Astra reciprocates
  201. >You can see it all in slow motion, and hear it in your mind
  202. >Astra going crazy because it's about to eliminate one of its biggest problems on the planet
  203. >Twilight, blissfully unaware of the monster about to consume her in her entirety
  204. >All of it crescendoing horrifyingly until-
  205. >A bright flash erupts from the point of contact between the two, temporarily blinding you and putting off more than an uncomfortable amount of heat for your new body
  206. >When your vision clears, you see a bright aura and some crackling static surrounding Twilight as she stares down at Astra's now self-mutilated form
  207. >"Figured as much."
  208. >Before you can register anything else, you and Astra are now both contained within a floating magical sphere
  209. >"Now, I know you aren't likely to listen to me, but it would be better for you if you did."
  210. "Wait, you knew?"
  211. >"Of course I did, no ships were present within ten miles of that base and most unicorns can barely teleport a mile. Not to mention the fact that a pony doesn't just forget about a wound they get, miraculously heal it, and then grow a new one when they've been caught in a lie."
  212. >Oh
  213. >"Now, this can either go one of to ways. I know you're intelligent, as you not only have a grasp of Equish but also were smart enough to realize you weren't getting out of there without my magic. Because of that, I'm willing to let you go on the condition that you don't act on your parasitic urges, but instead become a functioning member of society."
  214. >By this point, Astra has reassembled itself into a semblance of its previous form, only with fangs, a few more eyes, some tentacles, and a glare that could burn a hole through solid steel
  215. [o]>"And if we refuse?"[/o]
  216. >"Then I vaporize you here and now."
  217. >It's at this point that you look over at your bubble-mate and inject yourself into this conversation
  218. "You know, it's kinda funny; I told you exactly what would happen if you tried anything, and it happened. Not saying I told you so, but I ... kinda just did. Why did I even add that..."
  219. >Astra's glare turns off of Twilight and on to you
  220. [o]>"We can see inside your mind as you can see ours, you had just as little knowledge that that would happen as I did."[/o]
  221. "Fair point, but that still doesn't fix the fact that we're both stuck in the bubble now."
  222. >At this point, you just simply decide 'fuck it'
  223. "Twilight, I've been trying to talk sense into this thing for the better part of a week and I couldn't. You might as well just kill us."
  224. >Twilight doesn't immediately respond, but she does do something
  225. >She splits the bubble
  226. >Not in a way that would cause it to open, you're just now separate from Astra
  227. >"Anonymous, if that really is you, then tell me something only you would know."
  228. >Uhhh, sure?
  229. "You're deathly afraid of quesadillas and I decided to make your birthday breakfast a plate of them?"
  230. >Twilight's eyes narrow at you for a moment before she begins pacing, eyes still on you
  231. >This goes on for a few seconds before you realize what she's doing
  232. "Look, I'm pretty sure we both know that Astra takes the memories of anything it's assimilated, so I'm not sure why you asked me that."
  233. >"I'm also trying to see if you're acting uncharacteristic, but I'm going to need help to figure out if you really are still you."
  234. >A fat lot of good that does, then!
  235. >"Hang on, let me call somepony."
  236. "Huh?"
  237. >Twilight ignores your exclamation, instead opting to close her eyes and place a telepathic call
  238. >A few seconds in, a look of recognization crosses Astra's face
  239. [o]>"No. No no nonono [i]N̴͉͂ͅȮ̴̱[/i].[/o]
  240. >Twilight continues to ignore everything around her and continue the call
  241. [o]>"W̵̩̔ͅe̸̘͝ ̵͚͊̃š̶̜w̴͍͖͗e̵̗̠̿͝a̷̜̅ŗ̶̍͜ ̷͎̳̆̚i̵̪̓f̷͇̎̈́ ̴͚͑y̴͕͕̍ơ̴̧̩͘u̷͕͚͝ ̷̧̊b̵͓̩͒ŕ̴̜̖ĭ̴̟n̴͚̲͠g̶̘̲̋͑ ̷͉̈h̴̘͌̕e̷̺̹͊͒ȓ̵̭͓ ̷̨͋h̸̝͙͑ě̶̻̀ṙ̸̜͂ệ̶̓,̸͓̃̚ ̵͔̑w̵̞͌͂e̷̘̘̿ ̵̖͛͜w̷̲͐͝í̴̱ľ̶̢̟l̷̘͛ ̸̨̪̊̐t̶͙̒e̵̞͛a̸̱͠͠r̶̙̓̽ ̶̥̆̏y̴̻͂̂ò̸͖͖͝ṳ̵̡͋͗ȓ̴̡̟́ ̸̱͗̐m̶͓̟̅ȋ̵͇n̵̗͖̍͂d̵̫̬͗ ̸̰̜̇ą̵̨̌̏p̴͖̎̈́a̴̘͐r̴͙͌t̷̜̓ ̶̧̛͛á̸͓̬͠n̶̤̑́d̷̰̰̄ ̵̼͒f̶͙̊l̴̞̞̈͠ä̴͖̞́͆y̵̼̝̚͠ ̷͓̤́y̴̜͎͝ȯ̴͍̀u̶̟͑r̸͙̘̈́ ̷̨̿̏s̵͙͔͊̉ǒ̵̮͚u̴̫̱̾l̷͓͛̓ ̸̳̖̚ä̴̡͔́͠s̸̡͚̈́ ̸̖͗w̵̫̪̑è̵̱̼ ̸̜̈̈c̴̛͚͌o̸̡̹̒ņ̸̥̂͒ś̵̰̜̓u̴̞͘m̶͕̒̌ë̸͇̜̋ ̷̖̳̐y̸̼̽o̷̢̯̓û̸͓r̴̫̹͑͠ ̵͕͋ͅf̴̞͖̕l̸͔͕͊ẹ̶͎̋ș̶̡̾̈́h̴̥̓!̸̗̫̅"[/o]
  242. >Astra's threat barely has time to end before Twilight returns to the present
  243. >"Wow, she really wasn't kidding then!
  244. >Astra lets out a screech somewhere between jammed blender and lion kicked in the nuts and begins slamming itself against the bubble containing it as Twilight looks on with a slightly amused grin
  245. >As you look on at the scene playing out before you, you begin trying to figure out what pony could know anything about Astra
  246. >Well, it's obviously someone capable of agitating Astra greatly, something not even you could do with your constant pushing
  247. >Could there really be a MacReady here?
  248. >As you continue to puzzle further, a previously unknown presence in your mind begins to make itself known
  249. >It appears Astra's noticed too, as it's only increased its efforts at escape
  250. >As the presence finally reaches an undeniable point in your head, you hear a voice ring out behind you
  251. [p]>"Hey twilight, you rang?"[/p]
  252. >... Pinkie?
  253. >You turn around to get a firm answer to your tentative question
  254. >When you do, you see that bubbly pink mare herself glanicng between you, Astra, and Twilight
  255. [p]>"Ooh, you even managed to bring it back too!"[/o]
  256. >"Yeah, problem is it got Anonymous and I can't tell if she's still in there or not."
  257. >Pinkie nods energetically before bouncing over to you and staring at you through squinted eyes
  258. >You can't help but retreat a bit to the other side of the bubble, but you move back when you realize how that might hurt your chances of getting out alive
  259. [p]>"Nonny, is that you?"[/p]
  260. >Uhhh...
  261. "Last I checked, I'm still me. Only difference is, now I'm a lovecraftian monster."
  262. [p]>"Mmhmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm... Likely story, but I know that the REAL Nonny would've answered that her best friend Pinkie should already KNOW she's her!"[/p]
  263. "Ohshitohshit- does this mean I messed up?"
  264. [p]>"Nah, I could tell that you're still you the instant I saw you! I just wanted to goof on ya, that's all."[/p]
  265. >As you breathe a sigh of relief, Pinkie drops her overly serious expression for a more fitting grin and some mild laughter
  266. >"Pinkie?"
  267. [p]>"Yep, it's Anonymous all right!"[/p]
  268. >Twilight then lets out a sigh of her own before dropping you out of your bubble
  269. >"Thanks, that's a load off my mind."
  270. [p]>"No prob, anything for a friend!"[/p]
  271. >"Anon, if 'Astra' really didn't completely assimilate you, then why didn't you tell me?"
  272. "I'll tell you if you start explaining some shit to me, like why I can see the inside of Pinkie's head!"
  273. >"I'd think that if you can do that, you should already know the answer."
  274. "But.... But when? How? If you didn't trust me, why do you trust her? How long has-"
  275. >"I figure if you're going to have that many questions, then I might as well start from the beginning. It all started the last time I was at that base for research, and I brought Pinkie there for company. She also got infected by 'Astra', but unlike you, she was very up-front about it and even warned me about it. For the rest of the expedition, I kept her quarantined and monitored. She complied, nothing came up, and when we both came back, I kept her under even heavier observation for about six months. Again, nothing came up, so I just dropped it."
  276. "That just leaves me with one more question."
  277. >"Shoot."
  278. "Pinkie, how did you get free of Astra's control? I'm only like this because of something that it said is a rare mistake to make unintentionally, and I have a hard time believing it happened twice."
  279. [p]>"Idunno! I was just trying to be friendly with it, but it got mad and then I got my body back!"[/p]
  280. >This is when Astra interrupts the proceedings
  281. [o]>"I̸̟͌̑ ̶̞̽͜͠r̵̡̜͌e̷̛̠ͅṁ̸̺̩̏ȏ̸̭̩͒v̴̬͖̀e̶̺̼͑d̵̳͠ ̸̫͔̆y̸̲̎ö̸͓̠́̈́u̷̧̥͝ ̶͉̼̅̑f̸͈̓̓ŗ̸̓͠ò̴̼͗ḿ̶̛̬ ̵̡̞̿u̷̗̚ͅs̵̫̦̈́̏ ̷̧̝̋b̷͎̻̍e̴͓̙͒̀c̸̺͛͝ā̵̖͝û̷̮s̸̝͝e̸͎̩͝ ̷̟̥͂͛ẏ̵̺͆o̶̰͐u̴̦͂̅ ̷̮̭͛w̴̖͌e̴͖̽r̸̝̫̂e̴̛̻ ̴̜͉̍̍ċ̴͖̬̔ą̸̕u̷̢̮͒̈́s̷̬̈́ì̷̧̏n̷̥̙͑̎g̷̥͆͘ ̵̺͝u̴̢͇͠s̸̾̾͜ ̵͍̖̊̀p̶̹̄h̶͚̄ý̸̗ș̴̫̍̿í̴͚̰̚c̵̨̮̈ḁ̴͊l̴͈̽̉ ̷̼̂̆a̶̝̞͝g̴̱̉o̸̝̿n̷͙̲͂ỵ̶̛ ̶̻̍̊w̶̭̅͘ȉ̴̖ť̷̪̻ḥ̸̊ ̶̢̭͂ŷ̸̨́o̷̻̍͝ṳ̴̾ȓ̵̹̄ ̵͔̀͑c̸͈͛̕o̶̟̖̊n̸̬̂̌s̸̼̍͌t̸͕͙͗a̵̗̐͂ň̴̠̯t̷̻̤͑ ̸̝̑̉c̸̱̜̿̏h̸̟́ǎ̸͙ẗ̸̙̼̕t̵̡͗ͅe̶̯̕r̴͙͗̇ ̸̲͑à̸̪̤̀n̸̩̈́d̷͙͐ ̷̝̾̉ö̴͉u̴̺͌͘t̵͎̒ͅr̴̦̈́͜i̶̬͒ḡ̶̥̹h̶̩͂̚t̷͕̐͝ ̷̤̱̄r̵͎̈͗e̸̜̖̓̈́f̷̥̉̂ǘ̸̩s̶̥̣̀â̴̙̕l̴̜̕ ̷̢͓̾t̷̝̕ǒ̶͚̐ ̷͉̦͊j̷̛̩͋ō̴̹̼ȋ̷͓̀n̷̜̬̐̕ ̷̼͗͠p̴̤̃̕ŗ̶̯̑̄ọ̴͍͒̉p̴͎̍̐e̶͉̲̐r̴̻̖̈l̵̡͚͑͘y̴̰̜̌́ ̶̅͜͠í̵̻̕n̴̠̒̌ţ̶̖̑ȯ̴ͅ ̵̖͑͜t̵͓̬̄͊h̶̜̓͜͝e̶̺͌ ̸̲͑c̶̖̻͊͝o̷̥͚͂l̸̗̈l̵̠̏̉e̵̲̒̌c̵̫͋̿t̵̮̾î̸̗̱v̸̜̮̂e̸̛͙̍,̵̠̜̋̀ ̴̜̼̆e̶͖̕s̷̥̦̽̚p̵̗͛e̸̲̓c̸͎͔͌i̶̜͛a̸͓̒͠l̵̡̩̈͆l̴̛̞̠̚y̶̮̦̓ ̶͍͑w̴̓ͅi̵̛͔̿t̶̮̖̔ḧ̸̦͔́ ̷͈̖̅͠y̸͕͋́ò̵͈͉ư̴̪͙̆r̶̦̾̆ ̸̨̆ụ̷̺͒t̷̮̍͛t̵͉̐͌è̴͙r̴͍͛͊a̷̠͝ņ̷͘ć̷̰̘͝e̴̪͂s̴̜̈́͂ ̴̟̣̀̿ò̶̰͍̽f̸̳͘ ̸̱̙̆̉'̴̼̰͛͝ḷ̷̡́̒i̷̠̞̋ǵ̶̘̄h̶̝̆t̵̝̏̉e̷͙͐͘n̶͖̾͂͜ ̴̼̐ü̴̖͖͝p̵̼͎̐'̵̦͕̉ ̵͕̌â̸͍̚n̸̯͂d̶̳̦̔̍ ̷̺͌͝ͅ'̴͎̝̅l̴̻͘͜e̴̝̓͛t̷̺̘̂̄'̵̩͉̓s̷̝̦̅ ̶̥̈́̏b̸̭̀e̶̠̓̅ ̶̢̖̅͝f̸̳̭̌̾r̶̲̭͐͝i̴̢̾͘e̵͉͐n̸͇̂d̷̼̘̓s̵̗̥͑̀'̴̬͝.̵̯̜̅͠"[/o]
  282. [p]>"You haven't changed a bit, have you? Oh well, I'm so excited you're here now, so now you have to be my friend!"[/p]
  283. >Astra releases a low, guttural growl before giving its retort
  284. [o]>"W̸͖͒͝ẻ̵͙͜'̷̢͠d̶̢̊ ̶̺̭̽s̶͇̿ơ̵̧͝o̶̹͇͐n̵̙̜̏e̵̹̎r̶̮̔ͅ ̸̱̻̿̀p̸̧̤̊ä̴̛͕s̸͕̃ś̸̹̚ ̷̰̫̅̀i̶͖͒̕n̴͇̥͋t̵̳̬͘o̵̧͎̓ ̶͓̎e̸̗̦͆͆t̷̤̐ȇ̴͉ṟ̵̿̓n̸̹̈́ị̶͑̍t̷̗̦̿̕ŷ̸̥͓̿ ̵͈̣͛͋t̶̫̘̔ḩ̷́̃ā̷̱n̵͕̟̊ ̶̧̦̃j̸̟͠o̵̫̾͝i̴͔͛n̴̩̑ ̸̯͌͝y̵̯͆o̴̦̺͘ũ̶̝ ̵̯͝i̶͇͔̾n̷̩͓̊͝ ̴̥͎̀a̶̲͗͊ǹ̸̯̇y̶̯̾ ̸͎̈́ẅ̷̘́͠ȧ̶̡̩̽y̸͉̍.̵̯̼̌͛"[/o]
  285. >"I'll have to take you up on that, then."
  286. >The bubble then begins to glow as Astra begins freaking out within
  287. >After another second, it finally caves
  288. [o]>"A̸̺̒l̵̙̋ṟ̶̝̄͘í̸̹̯̎g̷̡̬̊h̷͕̅̚t̷̠̎̏,̶̡͗ ̵̫̈́̇c̸̝̒é̸͎̹͊ă̶͓s̸̰̐̚e̷̲̓͠!̵͕̯̀̅ ̶̘̅W̵̙̋ě̵̀ͅ ̴̄ͅs̸͉͌̈́h̶͕̹̓͝a̶͙̾̈́ͅl̶̩̪̀̇ĺ̵͚̣ ̴̰̦̍ḫ̷̜̉̀u̶̢͇͗m̷̖̗̈́o̸͕͊̑ṙ̷̨̬̽ ̴͖́̐y̸͕̠͋͒o̴͍̺͂u̵͍͇͑ ̴̫̀f̵̧͖́ô̷̗̓r̵͖̜͠͝ ̵͚̺͌́t̷̺̳̿͐h̷̳̼̄ë̸̥́͐ ̴̝̽̕ṯ̷̱̉i̸̩̩͘ṁ̵̺̚e̵̚͜ ̵̙̝̒b̷͙̔e̸͍̺̒i̶̡͝n̴̼̘͘g̷̬̋͋,̴̡͓̾͌ ̶̡̯̒̈s̶̳̙͂ȏ̷͍̀ ̴͚̦͋̓ḛ̶̳̀n̴̞̙̆d̶̬͌ ̶͔͌̒ö̶̧́̅ǘ̵͈r̶̫̋ ̵̝̲͐̋t̴̼͚͌ơ̵͋ͅr̸̫̥̔m̷̧̛͍̕ė̶͇̈͜n̴̟̱̋̕t̷̝̅!̷̧͕͊̚"[/o]
  289. >"Wow, you really don't like heat. That temperature was still within known records of certain deserts, and you already found it unbearable. I'll have to write that down..."
  290. >The bubble stops glowing and Twilight pops a clipboard and pen out of thin air to note down this information
  291. >Astra takes some time to settle down again while she does, probably so it can stop itself from repeating the situation when Twilight spells out the deal
  292. >"... Alright, you already know your two options. Either become a functioning member of pony society without assimilating or consuming anyone, or be removed from this mortal plane to save it from you. Make your choice."
  293. [o]>"Í̴͙͔̍f̷̮̔̕ ̶̳̓ý̸̳̤ȏ̴̜̳̓ŭ̴͕̦̑ ̸̙̓͝a̴̱͋͒ŕ̶̤e̶͙̟̕̚ ̵̖͝g̷͈̫̈͆ǒ̵̖̫ï̷̱n̴̼̈g̷͓̓̚ ̴̭͌̂t̴͍͓̿o̴͖͙̾̾ ̸̯̊m̴̟͓̏͝ȁ̷̢͘k̸̗̜̽̓e̷̪̋́ ̶̚͜ó̸̖u̸͈͗r̴̼̃̏ ̵͖̉ḑ̸̺̄̃e̶̛̹̔a̶̳̐t̷̰̀̿h̴̹̪̏̕ ̸̙̮͗͗a̵͉̬͌̀s̶̘̃ ̷͈́̀i̴̬̜̇n̴͇̖͠s̶̼̲̎u̷͕̼͐͝f̷̢̦͒f̶̫̓ḛ̷̎́ṙ̷̗͑a̴͉͗ͅb̴̬̋l̸̮͍̿e̸̙̝͊̔ ̸̞͛a̵͚͒̈ŝ̵̠ ̸̮͑t̵̢̪̀͛h̴̙͛a̸̩̽t̵̻́͝ ̵̞̩́̊'̴͓̉t̴̡̔̀e̸̻͉͗̋s̵̛̳͖̅t̸̹̀'̸̲̘̄͌ ̵̿̌͜o̷̺͊f̶͈͌̕ ̸̻̚y̴̨̎o̴̭͓͊̈́ú̸͈̗r̷̥͛s̴̝̤̎̇,̸̱͈̂̅ ̸̗̆t̴͔͒h̵͉̒̆e̵̦̚ǹ̶̰͉͠ ̴̹̿ẅ̸̡̪́ḛ̷̜̍̊'̵̙̄͘l̸͔̂l̶̖͊ ̴̯͕͒̚ṫ̷͓̪ā̵͍k̷̫͚̀è̸̩̼̽ ̶̫̀ͅw̶̖̑̂h̶̤̩͌â̴̞͚ẗ̴̘̠͝ ̵̡̄̊l̴͕̑ͅi̸̙͐f̴̦̼̔̾e̷̖̒͋ ̴̧͍͛w̷̟̒̔e̶̗͙̓̔ ̵̱̞̍c̵̼̥͒a̸̭̰̓n̶̬͑̿ ̴̬̈́g̷͎̗̕e̷̘̞͆t̵̳̍͠,̵̦̯̾ ̴̺͙̌̎s̵̤̲̀̋ï̷͜m̷̱̱̊̃p̸̜͎̉l̵͖̣̐͒y̸̼̿̚ ̸̺̋̒͜f̷̞͗̏ͅo̶͕̘̔r̵̥͉̊̀ ̴̛̦͜t̶̛͎̲̀ĥ̸͖̲ę̵͗̃ ̶̛͎̕c̶͖͋͠h̶̤̍a̴̻̻̔n̵͎͋̈c̶̛͈e̸͚̊ ̴̛̰͌ͅo̵̞̓͠f̶̻̎ ̷͇͂͝e̵͓̖̐x̷̠͆̿a̴̗͌͒c̵̣̭̓t̶̺̠͐̔i̸͖̓̍ņ̴̠̎ĝ̵̡͊ ̶͔̟̆̓r̵̰͇͛͝è̴̡̗̃v̵͍̌e̵̥̠͗͝n̴͈͈͒̒g̸̾̅ͅe̶͔̺̓ ̵̙͒͗ú̷͚͜p̸͈͌o̷̙̞͆n̷̘͈͊ ̴̠̤̕ÿ̷̲̥́̌o̵̥̥͑̓u̶̡̨̾.̸̦̃̍"[/o]
  294. >"If you really want to be let out, then that's not a good way to start."
  295. >Astra stays silent for a few moments, but you can feel the impotent rage radiating off it as it mentally steels itself to do the one thing it never thought it would ever have to do
  296. [o]>".̷̢̤̅.̸̰̫̈̄.̸̡̣̈̀ ̶̢̄̚P̶̼̿l̴̗͒͜e̷̦̟̓a̷̜̿ś̶͎̔ͅè̵̹̲̍ ̴̼̹̈́̈́r̵̆ͅe̸̼̒l̷̡̂ë̶͚̫́̋a̵̞͠s̷͉̜̾ẹ̷͂̃ ̸̭̍m̸͓̈́́e̷̽͜,̶͈̲͋́ ̵̥͊̑w̸͍͘e̶̼̟̐ ̵̯͂a̴̩̯̐͌c̷̙̈́͐c̶̥͇̿͂e̵̗͌p̸̪̻͌̚t̷̹͇͊ ̸̛͙t̶͓̦̄h̵̛̠̯͝e̸̞̍͜ ̴̱̓̚t̵̜̩̾e̷̟̫̎r̸͙̆m̴͙͉̿̔s̸̼͆̅ ̸̛̙̬̈a̸̤͈͑̄n̷̨̓d̴̦̂͘ ̶̞̮̋͊w̸͔̝͋ḭ̵͝l̴̞̆̏l̵̪̐͜ ̴͈͘͘â̸̙s̵̟̘̾̽s̴̨̬̅̒í̸̜̿m̶̬̙͌i̷̜̞͒ĺ̵̳̫͘ä̸̖́t̴͖͓́é̴̹͔ ̵̳̎i̷̓̿ͅn̶̝̕t̸̗͛͜o̷̭͉͒ ̶̱̿̆y̸̦͔̅ò̵̲͙ű̴̘r̴̭͆ ̷̡̾s̸̼̎m̵̳͎̊a̷̛̺̲ļ̵̣̐l̴̺̐̀-̵̬͖̎m̴͕͚̈́̑ȋ̸̟̗ņ̸̪̑d̸̛̯̲̄e̶͍͈̍d̸̲̣́̉ ̵̼͛s̵͗́ͅp̷̠̏e̴̞̯͐̋c̷̯̹̕i̴̳͗́é̸̳̮̎s̸̪̾ ̵̢̲̓ŵ̴̲̿í̶̞͕t̷͈͝ḩ̶̻̌o̴̰̽ų̴͇̔t̶͚̊̍ ̷̜̽̃g̶̠̃į̴̟͌̔v̶̟̜͗͌í̵̦͝ṋ̵̭̇ḡ̴͍͑ ̶̱͓̈̽y̴̙͎̓ȍ̷͚̜ų̸̣̑͂ ̴̮́͌å̷̻̾l̵͓̳͆l̵̉̊͜ ̴͖̟̓ť̴͎́h̶̭͎̀̚ĕ̵̳̇ ̸̗̬̒̑b̸̟͕̈́l̶̠͋̚e̵̘̿̕s̴̗͑ͅš̷͚͎i̴͔͊n̴̯͝g̸̘̑ ̷̖͊ó̵̭f̸̩͖͊̕ ̵͔̠͗ù̴͙̹̊n̷̼̓i̴͈̞̿̕ť̸̨̥͠ỷ̶̪.̸̰̤͐"[/o]
  297. [p]>"Mmmm... Idunno Twi, it didn't seem honest to me."[/p]
  298. [o]>"S̶̰̬͆͗̕I̴͙̫̬͈̤̊͌̕L̸̙͖̦̟͐̆͊͂E̶͈̿Ǹ̶̗̖̺̈́̏̏̚͜Ć̶̥̤̭̃̈̂́E̶͔̔͆̿̚,̴̢͎̞͌́͑͑̎ ̴̘̘̘̞͒P̶̧͇͉̂̈́̚Ï̸͚͆N̶̹̠̘̲̂ͅK̶̘̭͕̇ ̷͇̃͆͋T̶̲̹̕̚Ŭ̶͔̟̦̄Ḿ̸̧̰̘O̵̢̪͉͈͆͆̿Ȓ̷̥͝!̷̯̽̇̏͊̕"[/o]
  299. [p]>"And that's just plain rude!"[/p]
  300. >Astra lets out a frustrated shriek, briefly exploding out into a mass of flesh more akin to what you first encountered in the snow before once again regaining composure
  301. [o]>"W̴̩̬͛͆e̷͎̾ ̷͈̊̍h̶̘̯͑a̴̘͈̾v̴͔̐e̶̦̊ ̶̧͂͜͝a̷͕͂ḷ̴̦͊r̸͕̞̂ȩ̸͈̄â̸̺̮͌d̴͈͖͌͗ý̷͚ ̸̖̫̔a̷̲̍ġ̷ͅr̷̺̜͋̃é̶̹è̴͖̃d̴͍̥͐̉ ̶̙̈t̶̞̞̋͑o̵̲̓ ̷̝̝́ỳ̴̘̎o̵̱̗͠ù̵̡͚͌ŕ̶̟͖͝ ̵̢͌͐ẗ̸̞̪́e̸̻̔r̷̭̳̓͐ṃ̸̧̈s̸̟͇͌͝ ̸̞͙̌t̴͉̖͊w̴̯̗̆͛i̸̭̿̃c̷̖͉͆͑e̵͇̙͛,̵̻̰̔͗ ̵̘̥̄̍n̷̟͆̆ȍ̸͔̪ẅ̷͚ ̷̤͓̂r̵̗̘̎e̷̝͐́l̴̫͔̅é̴̟̰̀a̶̮͔͋s̶̩͗e̶̛̗̓ ̴̩̣͋u̶͇͈͠s̷͇͕̆!̴̧̥͊̾"[/o]
  302. >From what you can sense, Astra's telling the truth
  303. "Twilight, let it go. Astra's definitely angry, but it's also telling the truth there. It's willing to go along with your plans. Not happy about it in the slightest, but if I know my interstellar parasitic hiveminds, they rarely are in situations like this."
  304. >"It certainly doesn't seem like it, at least from what it's said."
  305. "Well, how would you feel if you were off uh..."
  306. >Well, the comparison you were going to use wouldn't quite work, given the heavily pacifistic norms here
  307. "Hang on, I gotta think up a better comparison. Give me a moment."
  308. >Twilight sighs before replying
  309. >"Take your time."
  310. >Which you do, but you don't take too much
  311. "Okay, what if you found a massive library with every book ever written free to read, but when you pulled a book off the shelf, it immediately slapped you across the face before demanding you A: not read any of the books there, and B: submit to their authority and spend the rest of your life acting like a book under threat of death?"
  312. >"I'd leave the library."
  313. "Okay, now what if you were always inside the library and there's no way out?"
  314. >"Look, I get what you're trying to say, but if 'Astra's really going to stay true to its word, then it should be able to at least make an effort starting now."
  315. "Astra has made an effort by agreeing to your terms! It has submitted to the fact that it's not the be-all end-all of life, and that at least in this moment, you're stronger. Besides, even if Astra ends up going back on its word, you've got two of us here that can track down every last piece of it so that you can reduce them to ash before things get out of hoof."
  316. >Twilight looks back to the bubble containing the still-fuming ponybomination before turning back to you
  317. >"... Alright, but you're in charge of keeping track of it."
  318. >Twilight then turns back towards the bubble, lowers it to the ground, and opens it up
  319. >As Astra begins reforming completely into its disguised form, Twilight addresses it again
  320. >"You know the deal; no killings and no assimilations and I don't incinerate you. Got it?"
  321. [o]>"We understand."[/o]
  322. >As the manufactured voice's words ring across the silent landscape, you feel Astra's presence in your mind downgrade from full rage to a low simmer
  323. >"Good. You'll be under Anonymous's supervision, and Anon-"
  324. >Twilight turns to face you now
  325. >"-you'll be under Pinkie's supervision. We'll get the details of how this will all work sorted out tomorrow, but I still need to know one thing."
  326. "Hm?"
  327. >"Why didn't you tell me about Astra?"
  328. >Oh
  329. >She didn't forget about that
  330. "It's... It's not something I feel entirely comfortable saying out loud."
  331. >"Then just think it to me, I'll hear it."
  332. "Your telepathy works like that?"
  333. >"It works with Pinkie, so if you can do telepathic communication, then it'll work with you."
  334. >Okay then
  335. Testing, can you hear me?
  336. >Loud and clear!
  337. Can anyone else hear me?
  338. >You recieve silence on the other end, prompting you to look over at Astra and Pinkie
  339. >When you do, you see that they're both very distracted
  340. >Specifically, Pinkie's got Astra around the neck in a bear hug while explaining how they'll both become friends for real this time while Astra tries to force itself free
  341. Never mind, then.
  342. >So, what is it?
  343. Well... As you know, when you turned me into... This, I ended up having to go through the other hoops of childhood like school. You ended up playing the part of my caretaker, but something still felt missing from all of it. I still appreciate everything you've done for me, but... I guess what I'm trying to say is, what's a childhood without a mother?
  344. >Twilight recoils in surprise for a brief moment before she ultimately comes to a look of understanding
  345. >So you made it promise to be your mother?
  346. Yeah, it's kinda sad, I know.
  347. >No, it actually makes sense in a way. I'm just sorry I didn't realize it sooner, otherwise we might not be in this mess! I guess I can work that into the plan, so you don't have to worry.
  348. Thanks for understanding, Twi.
  349. >Now, how about we get those two in on the plan as it stands?
  350. You're not telling them I told you, right?
  351. [o]>W̸͖̝̊é̸̪͕ ̵̼̔c̵̤̅o̶̹̊u̶͇͚̒l̸̯͉̒d̸̨̳͊͠ ̸͔͍͗h̸͉̾ę̶̂a̴̠͊ṛ̵̹͠ ̶̡͓̍̎ṯ̴̢͋͝ḥ̵̍͜e̷͖͗̐ ̸̟̎̐w̷̲̏ẖ̸͎͐́o̸̱͗l̵̻̙̿̍e̶̪̎͝ ̸̫̅́t̵̛͊͜i̸̛̜̦m̶͈̆e̴̖͌,̷̜̝̂́ ̵͖̌͜b̴͇̻́̈u̶͙͈͐ẗ̷́ͅ ̴̨̞̐t̵̲̠́͐h̴̟͛e̸̪̠͆̔ ̸̫̞̇̾p̴͈̪̓̕i̸̢̛̟ń̵̯k̵͈̐̀ ̶͓̿ő̷͚͜n̶̯̼̿ě̴̮̙̉ ̵̩͝ĭ̷͕͙s̴̩̚ ̷̞̳̔ḽ̸̜̈́i̸̽ͅḳ̶͗̅e̸̙̺̐̕l̶̫͗̌y̸͓͎͝͝ ̶̙̻͝ḋ̴͉̒͜e̷̲̿̒ͅa̸̞̾f̶̬͎͆͝ȇ̴͕n̷̈́ͅè̷̳͙͗d̷̦̠̈́ ̵̟̺̋b̵̞̣̌͠ỳ̴̭̐ͅ ̸̧̔͠h̷͈͊͛e̵̮̅̕r̸͍̼̾ ̵͉́̓o̵̻͖̾̄w̴̠̽n̶̘̰̕͝ ̶͍̺͐̀w̸̕ͅŏ̵͉͝r̵̝͂̇ď̴͈s̶͙̽.̴̖͌[/o]
  352. [p]>Nope, I can hear it too! Don't worry though, I pinkie promise not to tell.[/p]
  353. "Then I might as well have just said it out loud, huh?"
  354. >"Maybe, but that saves part of the explanation. You and Astra stay together as you keep track of it and Astra plays the role of your legal guardian, Pinkie keeps track of you both and tells you two anything you need to know about your body and pony society respectively, and I handle everything administrative and any necessary disciplinary measures! We'll work out the rest tomorrow, but for now I'm tired. Pinkie, Anon, Astra's in your hooves."
  355. >Twilight punctuates her speech with a yawn before heading inside to bed, leaving you and Astra under Pinkie's care
  356. "So... What now?"
  357. [p]>"Now, we should probably head back to my place so that we don't wake anypony up with any more noise. Isn't that right, miss grumpy? Or is it mister? What do you want me to call you?"[/p]
  358. >If it wasn't clear from the way she was talking, the fact that Pinkie's mere inches from Astra makes the target of the statement obvious
  359. [o]>"C̸̨̅̌á̸͚̗l̶͕̙̐̏ḷ̵̯͠.̷̺̐͊ ̷̠́̊M̸̻̽͐ͅē̸͙̩.̴͕̖̅̈́ ̶̮̈́̚Ȧ̴̯̯s̸̫̎t̵̬̪̄̎r̵͈͂̀a̸͕̣̿͂.̵̲̹̋"[/o]
  360. >The sheer disgust radiating off the 'mare' almost triggers your own gag reflex, but Pinkie still seems completely oblivious
  361. [p]>"Alrighty, Astra! Let's go back to my place so that I can get you both situated!"[/p]
  362. >Pinkie then leads the way back to her place, you following behind both her and Astra, much to the latter's dismay
  363. >Once you all are there (with no mishaps, thankfully), you decide to start asking some questions
  364. "So, Pinkie, how long have you been like this?"
  365. >She puts on a face of deep contemplation before coming to an answer
  366. [p]>"A while."[/p]
  367. "... A while?"
  368. >A firm nod answers you
  369. "No specifics?"
  370. >Ponk goes back to thinking for a moment before coming back with another answer
  371. [p]>"At least a year, I know that much."[/p]
  372. [o]>"Two years, thirty-six days, four hours and 13 seconds."[/o]
  373. >You look over at Astra, a bit concerned as to why it would know the exact numbers
  374. [o]>"There isn't much to do out in a perpetual snowdrift, so we count time between assimilations to pass it without losing focus."[/o]
  375. >Fair enough
  376. >But wait, that would put the assimilation sometime within the events of the show's timeline!
  377. >Even more questions!
  378. >You turn back to Pinkie, eager to ask more questions
  379. "So all that stuff you did, like with the prehensile mane and growing a fake hand as a party trick, all those were because of this?"
  380. [p]>"Mmhm! It's also how I keep so many things inside my mane, I'm actually just moving them into my body through the back of my neck and back out when I need them."[/p]
  381. >Dang, you've got a lot to learn
  382. "Okay, duly noted."
  383. >From here, Pink shifts her attention to Astra
  384. [p]>"Astra, any questions?"[/p]
  385. [o]>"No."[/o]
  386. [p]>"Are you suuuure?"[/p]
  387. [o]>"Yes."[/o]
  388. >Ponk gets right up next to Astra and cocks an eyebrow at it, barely masking a smirk
  389. [p]>"Are you [i]really[/i] sure?"[/p]
  390. [o]>"Completely."[/o]
  391. [p]>"Are you ABSO-"[/p]
  392. [o]>"W̸͔̭͛͋ě̶̦ ̷̺̎ḥ̴̌ḁ̴̪̑v̴̪̑e̶̱͛ ̷̦͎̑̕a̶̜̯͌̚ș̵̊s̴̰̅̍ḯ̷̜͜m̵̟͠i̴̥͗͠ḻ̵̇̆a̵̤̰͆͑t̵̟̅e̵̙̒́͜d̸̑̎͜ ̶̗̣͋̄t̸̙̓w̶͍̾o̸͉̫͘ ̸̟̈̾ḅ̵̦̄e̷̘̫̾́i̵̧͋n̸̡̛̈g̶̬̰̍̽s̸̼̣͘ ̴̳̀̌w̸̽͜ị̷̤͒t̵̠͛͛h̷̹̙̒ ̸̨̜̉͗k̶̘̫̆ṅ̴̨̬ǫ̶̺̾ẅ̴̲́l̶͇̝̚ȩ̶͕͗̓d̶̼̾̆g̶͖̺͋̆ẹ̶͚̽ ̷̼͘̚ŏ̸͔f̶͕̘̏͑ ̵͉͈̄t̷̟̆h̸̺͇͑͠ï̸̝s̷͖̞̿͊ ̸̼̈́͛ẘ̵͖͙o̷͚͗͌r̷̥̰̆̿l̴̮͆̄ḑ̶̩͂͗,̴̛̣ ̵̭͈̑w̴̘̗̄e̸͚͇̿̋ ̴̛̳̚ñ̴̥͎é̶̮̎ë̵̢d̸̩̖̐͂ ̴̫̝̉n̴̼̏ͅő̵̦ ̴̳̀̽ě̷͇̚x̵̯̂p̸͓͋l̸͈̂â̵̘̫͝n̶̝͙̏͝a̵͚̐ẗ̸̩͙́͐ì̵̖o̴̗̭͋n̷̬̒̋s̵̹͕͆̆,̶̫̫̔̈́ ̶͕̈́͆è̷̠̹͠s̴̡̫̔p̸̛ͅè̶̢̨͊c̸̞̿ĭ̷̻̖͛ȧ̴̙͝l̸̘͊ļ̵̜̔̄y̸̦͑̽ ̶̞̈́̆f̸͖̆̆͜r̴̨̅o̸͓͔̚m̷̢̹̔̓ ̸̡̎o̷̥̕n̶͚͎͛e̸̼̿ ̶͚̎̍ö̴͍́̈́f̸̧͇̿̿ ̴̖̩̀͒ţ̷͚̈́h̵̘̖̆e̶̳͐̽ͅ ̸͂ͅt̶͈̽ẅ̴̙́̐o̶͓͙͘ ̸̨̺̍͆b̸̘̜͋ë̸̤͔ĩ̷͚n̸̥̈́g̵͇̜̃s̶̖̀ ̴̥͝ẗ̵̳́̉ḧ̷̩̞́a̶̙̓͗ţ̷͙̑̕ ̵̞̌g̷̥̜̈a̸̺̠͐͋v̸͙̑̅ẻ̸̻ ̷͎͔̃̇ǘ̸̢̐ṡ̶͉͜ ̶̦̏t̵͉͑̂ĥ̴̨͍̎ȋ̶͈͉s̵̪̥̈ ̷̺̆̔k̷̩͔͝n̶̢̻̏͠o̶̯͘w̵̧̄l̸̝̒ẻ̵́͜d̸̟͐g̷̨̻̎̽e̴̞͆̇!̷̭̅͗"[/o]
  393. [p]>"Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm... Oki doki!"[/p]
  394. >With this, Astra releases itself from Pinkie's grasp and slinks over to a corner to sulk in a flesh pile of its own creation
  395. [p]>"So, any more questions I can answer for you?"[/p]
  396. >You think to yourself for a moment, but come up with nothing
  397. "Not at the moment, but thanks for asking."
  398. [p]>"No prob, just tell me if anything new crosses your mind!"[/p]
  399. >Wait, you just found a question
  400. "So, uh... I actually just thought of one."
  401. [p]>"Hm?"[/p]
  402. "How do I avoid infecting anything?"
  403. [p]>"Just don't try to! Your body only does what you tell it to, so if you don't want to infect anything, you won't!"[/p]
  404. "No matter what?"
  405. [p]>"No matter... Well..."[/p]
  406. >Pinkie forms a hoof into a hand to begin stroking her chin in thought
  407. [p]>"Just don't get... 'Intimate' with anypony and you should be fine."[/p]
  408. >Wait
  409. >But how does she know that if there weren't any incidents during her quarantine?
  410. "How do you know that?"
  411. [p]>"I don't, it's just a hunch. I figure that if any 'private parties' happen, it'll end up infecting your partner."[/p]
  412. >Well, that makes sense
  413. [o]>"I̸̙̎̓t̸͉͙͆ ̵̢̘̈d̴̞̙̄̕o̵̬̮̒̾e̸̬͝s̸͓͋n̷̪͛'̸͖͛͜t̸̛͈̋ ̶̘̊̉ẅ̵̥̹́o̵͕̟̐͝ȑ̸͚͠k̴̙̭̂̄ ̶̱̃ḻ̵̢͘ỉ̶͈̕k̸̝̗̑ě̸͇͕ ̷̘̓t̵̝̘͂͝h̴̨̫́͌a̷͔̳̎ẗ̶̼̜́̆ ̴̯̂ë̵͖̕ĭ̶̮͎t̴̖͐h̴͕͍́͘ė̵̤͌͜r̸͖̃̑.̷̤̂"[/o]
  414. >Both of you look back to Astra, now re-materializing into its disguised form
  415. [o]>"W̶͇̭̎ȇ̴̠͛ ̴̤͓͂d̶̬̖̍o̷̗̫̓ ̶͉̀n̶͉͛ȍ̴̳̤t̶̻̣̆ ̵̗̉͘ṛ̶͂͛è̶̬p̶̻̣̓̔r̸̨͌̚ö̸̙́d̷̬̉u̶̗̔͠ĉ̵̢̗̈ē̸͚̤ ̴̲̊i̷͔̓̈́n̵̡̔͗ ̸̻̙̔͒ẗ̷͓́h̸̪̠̾͒e̶̘̾͋ ̷̮̐̕c̵̑̃ͅǫ̸̺̒̔n̵̬̩̕v̶̗͎̉e̶̦͝n̵͇̂ͅṯ̷̓̇ĩ̵̳͖͒o̵̝̥͋ñ̶̗̕à̷̭̻l̷̻̊̓ ̷̫̿̄ẉ̴̨̀a̵͕͝y̷̪̠̽̍ ̸̜̔̈́t̵̬̉̃h̶͔͙̒͠a̶͉͛̿ť̷̳ ̶̰̭͒̆ṯ̸̡͒ḩ̴̛̤̔ḛ̷̱̉ ̵̻͊͝l̷͙͘e̸̺̲͋ṡ̶̪͌ṡ̷͓͈é̴̢r̸͙̹̾͆ ̷̜͉̏̆b̷̖̠͝ḙ̶͖͒ī̶̹̓ń̶̚ͅͅg̷͈͔̏s̷̙̉͒ ̷̧̻̀͝ḋ̶͍͕͆o̴̪͆,̸͖͖̒ ̸̠̩̍ș̶̢͋̈́ó̷̝͙̎ ̶̪̈́̃y̸̢̋õ̴̱̺u̶̧̼̇̓r̴͈̎ ̴͔͑̕v̴̖̀e̴̦͛r̷̨̄ṣ̴͛í̴̪̤ọ̵͑ṇ̴̛͙͋ ̸̘̣̅̏ŏ̷̮͎̓f̴̺̏̊ ̵̢̀i̴͆͘͜n̴̼̕ͅt̵͔́i̴̩̞͌̋m̸̙͂ǎ̶̰̇ć̴̪̕y̵̧̝̋̅ ̷̹̿̓h̵̫̎á̴̭͙̈́s̴̢͇̉̾ ̴͔͑͜n̵̬̈́̔ͅô̴̜̤̈́ ̸̦̱̚m̷͍͘o̸̝̚r̵̳̈́e̴̝̜͋ ̷̛͍͍̈́c̷̩̼͌h̴̥̳̅̇a̵̰̬̓n̵̫̥͐̕c̴̗͑̐e̵͉̅͑ ̵͈̍̃ó̷̭̈́f̴͖̼̃̅ ̸̞̈́̈́a̶̖͋̕s̷̨̮̏̚ś̴͓i̸̧͉͋m̷͖͍̈́î̶͓ĺ̵̟a̶͔̐͝ţ̷͔̅ỉ̷̼̼ó̵̺̩n̷͕̂̄ ̴̨̺͐ṫ̵͕̒h̷͉̖̉a̷̡̦̍̐n̴̬͍͋ ̸͉͓͊å̶̤n̶̠̽ŷ̴͍ ̵̰̏ǒ̵͕̥̕t̸̤̽ḧ̵̟́͆e̵͉͛r̶̩͝ ̷͎͈̈́̀f̶͚͎̂́ỏ̴̝͉ȑ̴̦̘m̸̠̰͆ ̸̪͛̆o̷͎̚f̵͈͑ ̶̙̕p̴͕̐h̸̻͒y̷͖͝s̶͍̀į̵̳͋c̴̟̭͋̑ä̴̰́l̸͕̙͒̾ ̷͇͎̀̿c̸̝̝̏̑ō̵̖͛n̷͔̎̀t̵͇̟̋ȁ̷̙͛ͅc̴̥̓̌t̵̜̳͝.̷̹̤̀̏"[/o]
  416. "So you're saying that even if I went back to my old body and came inside somepony, they wouldn't be infected?"
  417. [o]>"Ṉ̸͎̆o̷̼̚ẗ̶͙́͝ ̵̛̳̾u̵̖̐̅n̶̫̄l̵̳̣̎̓e̸̫̯̊̈s̴͉̉s̸̡̛̞ ̶̗̎y̷̢̖̌́ơ̸̼̚ȗ̶͉̂ ̸̯͊d̷̠͋̉ë̶̲͈́̎s̴͚̒̈ï̷̮ŕ̸̢̺ê̴̗d̴̥͓̿̀ ̶̮̂̓t̶͖͕̿͝h̴͈̀ȩ̸̦̈́m̴̟̑ ̴̯̔t̶̖̗̀o̶̼̓ ̴̡́͒ͅb̸̜͈̋͆e̸̼͍͆.̸̨̱͗"[/o]
  418. "Okay, cool. I'm free to go off and pick back up where I left off before I became this without any problems!"
  419. [o]>"A̴̢̍͗t̴͓̐ ̵̧͌͘l̶̺͆e̷̡̞͘a̸̰̐͒ś̵̮̑ţ̶͓̀ ̸͙͇̐͆y̷̠̆ỏ̴̻̼ṵ̴͋̎ ̷͎̺͘h̷̝͠ă̷͚͉̒v̴̖̣̏e̷̕͜ ̷̰̭̐͝f̴̖̆́o̴͓̾u̶̮̓n̸̼̅̈́ď̷̙ ̸̨͕̈s̴̘͚̈́̇o̴̳̮̎m̷̧̪̃e̸̪͚͊ ̶͕̑j̵̳̈́o̴̝̺̚ŷ̵̧͊ ̷͓̩̉i̷̤̱̽n̶̯̱̆̉ ̴̯̙̐͝t̷̻͌̀h̶͍̓ī̷͕͆s̵̘̩͊.̷̨͒͝"[/o]
  420. >Astra starts walking back towards the corner, but you go over and stop it
  421. "Don't be so down, you're still alive and even though this isn't somewhere you want to be, you've got us to help you get eased into it!"
  422. [o]>"D̷̦͑õ̵̡̗̅n̴̬͐'̴̙̉t̸̟̍ ̴͓͓̆y̷̦̘͋o̵̟̳͊u̶̠̒͘ ̵͕͇̿s̸̠̐t̸̟̣͗a̸̰͠r̵͎̼̒t̷͇̅ ̴̪̆ẅ̵̯́͠ͅi̸̺̹͆t̷͈͋̃h̸̼̠̔ ̴̬͋̽t̵̨̹̓͒h̷̡̯̒̔ḁ̶̳͂͝t̵̠͂͜ ̶̭̎̈ͅt̷̺̺͑o̸̬̅o̴̫̓,̵͍̏̈́ ̶̘͆̔ͅŴ̷̹́e̸̙̬̒'̷̡̥̕v̴̨̈̊e̷̖̭͊ ̸̦̆͂ǵ̸̰͇̏o̷̙̚t̶̖̑t̴̬̑è̶̱͎͌n̷͖͔̈̾ ̵̞̙̈́̇m̴̺̈o̴̙̱͒r̷̛͓͈e̴̼̹͛ ̷̛̹̌t̷̫̊ḥ̵̈́͜a̷͉̝̕n̵͉̠̓ ̸̤͂̄o̶͉͛̕u̵̳̜͐̓r̷̥͛̍ ̸̫͊f̵̦̓̐ĩ̵̡͉l̷̫̆l̵̞̆ ̵͙̣̔́f̶̖͗̾r̷̢̋ȏ̶̡̼͂ḿ̵̠̲ ̸͍̉̓t̸͕̤̄̔ḥ̸̳͌e̷̢̦͆̆ ̵͉̥͂̔p̵͈̒̀i̶̗͂n̶͖͑͠k̸͍̝̆ ̷̼̽̆ỏ̷̟̻n̸̯͆e̸̯̦͛̃.̸̧̳̈́̉"[/o]
  423. >You take the hint and back down, letting Astra return to its corner of choice
  424. >Astra spends the rest of the night there while you and Pink continue discussing things until you both become tired
  425. >Pinkie asks if you want to go with her to her bed, but you politely refuse and opt to take the couch
  426. >However, you have some other ideas
  427. >Once she's gone, you go over to the flesh mound and curl up next to it on the floor
  428. [o]>W̷̨̗͆e̷̻̤̎ ̸͔̬͠á̸̭͠r̷̲͕̔e̴̟̱͑͠ ̶̤̐̈́c̸̪̰̋̐o̶̤͐̄ṅ̷͎͌t̴̹̟̀e̷͍̰͒n̷͖̈́t̴̠̎͝ ̴͔͘h̴̛̺̖̿e̸̖̠͐r̴͈͕̉e̴͙̔,̵͖͖̐̑ ̷̨͝y̶̛̟o̸̮͑u̴̝̽ ̸̪́n̴͔̰͊̃ȩ̸̭̇͠è̷͍̓d̵̝̫̑ ̵̛͚n̵̘͌͝ō̴̟͝t̸͓̀ ̴̻͐͝ͅs̵̎͜t̷̺̞̎à̵̘ý̶͚̰͊ ̸̠́̾n̵̩̍ͅę̴̡͑͐a̸̭̚r̷̦̀͋ ̵̧̂̉ų̸͔̑̍s̸̘̱͋.̵̰͇̃́[/o]
  429. I'm happy being here too, don't worry.
  430. [o]>Y̵̗͂e̸͇͙̽t̶̖͔̀ ̶̛̭͜ỹ̵̙̞͠o̴̙͑̈́u̴͙͂ ̶̤̓̅s̴̯̗̒a̸̹̽͝i̸̜̟̐d̵͈̏͜ ̶͙̬̈́y̸͈͋ơ̷͓͌u̷̘͗ ̷̪̀́ͅw̸̧͕͗̎ȏ̸̢ư̶̪͖̍l̷͉̘̊́d̴̪͛͒ ̵̟͝c̸̩̣͝l̵̜̗̋a̷̛̦ḯ̷̜̀ḿ̷͉ ̷̤̩͝ả̵̘̗ ̷̰̐p̴̼͖͒̆i̸̙̝̚ē̵͐͜c̸͚͐ẽ̷̖ ̷̪̗̓o̷̪̒f̵̱̈ ̵̘̗̌̏f̴͚̯̓ū̸͚̅ṙ̵̛̮ǹ̶̞̎i̸̩͠t̴͙̹͛ű̴̗͚̎r̷͖͇̋̌ė̶͈̱ ̷͇̀̋t̸̜̽o̷̦͛͑ ̵̧̞͘s̷̢̿͠t̵̗̫̏̓a̴͕̯͑ỷ̶̧̐ ̵̡̩̌̇o̶̝͔͌̚n̶̰͍̄.̵͚̈́[/o]
  431. So I did.
  432. >Astra doesn't respond for a moment, but eventually a mental sigh leaks into your consciousness
  433. [o]>T̷̤̓ͅh̴̜͠ȅ̸͉̽n̸͓̠̏̍ ̶̮͎̀ẙ̸̥̳̚ơ̴̙͍u̸͖͛̈ ̶̱̊m̵̥̪̏͆ȧ̸͈͕ý̴̛̱̱ ̸͙̄s̵̝̑͗͜ṭ̵̚ā̴̼̄y̶̤͓̅̉,̸̪͗ ̷̳̻̔̈ḯ̷̟͍f̵͎̎ ̴̬̋y̶̠̝̌õ̸̱̀ǘ̷̪ͅ ̴̩̀t̶̯̝͌̿r̵͍̎ư̴̼̫l̸̬͙͂͆ý̵̭̙ ̶̨̳͝w̵̟͍̅̈́i̸̞͊š̷̫̚h̶̙̼͋ ̸͓̺̃͘ẗ̵̳͎́͗o̸͕̔͝ ̷͎̖͊b̷͕̪̃ě̸̳͂ ̴͙͝h̷̳͍̔e̶̢̊̚r̵͈̈e̶̻͑.̴̨̓[/o]
  434. >You stay silent, letting sleep take you
  435. >Sure, you may not need it anymore, but it still feels nice
  436. >Before you completely go unconscious though, you feel two things
  437. >Astra's no longer feeling as irate, and some of its biomass shifts to cover you
  438. >.   .   .
  439. >Morning comes surprisingly quickly, and soon you awaken to Astra's form shifting around you
  440. >When you open your eyes, you see that it was turning back from a pile of assorted flesh into a pony
  441. You're up early.
  442. [o]>Ẅ̸̙͜è̸̡̫͌ ̵̺̎ṅ̸̳̟e̴̙̱͛v̸̖̻͋͑ę̴͋̕r̵̪̂͜ ̵̱̠̒̆s̴͖̊̋ḻ̸͛̍ͅȅ̸͉̀ṕ̴̠ẗ̸̤́.̸͓̱̍[/o]
  443. Oh?
  444. [o]>Y̷̢̭̏ȍ̶͚͆u̷̧̹̾ ̴̣̥͆͋s̵̤͐͐e̸̙̍͘e̵͇̎m̷̤̪̈́ ̵̖̣̈́̍t̸̡̒̆ó̷͕̍ ̶̤̓̋n̵̫͂͂ö̵̯́̀t̷̪̀͠ ̷̘̳́k̵̥͙̏n̵̲̳͌o̶̺̾w̸̡̨̿̚ ̵̙͌t̶͍́̚h̷͖̽͛i̶͙͚͒͂s̶̙̦̍̓ ̷̹̗̄y̵̟̌e̶̡̚ͅt̴͙̾̎,̸̦͙̀̿ ̴̘̠͗̌b̴̨͋̆u̷̪̠̒ẗ̸̯ ̸̖̉j̸͛͜u̶͈͌s̵̥̫͋t̸̺͔̉̆ ̵̝̀̎l̸̦͝ǐ̷̟̕ķ̷͈̓̽è̶̟̬ ̴̝͕̏̅o̴͉͎̓u̴̞̔̚͜r̵̺̠͆ ̴̠̈́k̴̗̂i̵͓͋n̸̺̑͜ḓ̷͆̍ ̶̼̈̆ć̸͈̚ả̴͚̫̒n̵̦̿ ̸̱̑͘c̸̢͋o̷̱̺͐n̶̮͊t̸͙͂͋r̴̡̞̎̓ǫ̴̪͂l̸̹̗̄ ̷̗̺̅͆ǫ̶̊ư̷̞͕̿r̴̗͒ ̶̞̜͒̃b̷͍̅̂ͅo̶͕̙͘d̵̥͐̏į̸͑̏è̷̢͕s̴̫̞͑,̵̫̝̎̿ ̶̡̠̀̆w̵̲̄e̵̫̒̅ ̴͎̍́c̸̛̫̘͂ȧ̷̗n̸̤̺̊ ̷͉̝̄ç̴͋͌o̷̥̿͛n̸̙̒ț̷̡͗̈́r̴̼̆͗ö̵̻͛l̷͔̱͝ ̶̗͂̿o̷̳̰̔̇u̸̳͕̅̎r̵̛̞̙͂ ̴̧̘̍m̸͖̕i̸͔̪͝n̸̤̎̈ͅd̶̮̅s̶̜͕̋͂.̴̰̺́ ̸̺̠͂̉S̶̘̒̏l̷̝̘̃͠e̸͓͂̄e̶̲͕̐p̵̡͑ ̵̡̖̊ȉ̷̘͝s̵̥͖̓n̴̦͌ͅ'̴̱̱̔t̸̳̖̽ ̶̡̰̄̌n̴̮̒e̷̱̗̾̂c̷̟̘̆͗e̶̲̲̓̈s̸̙͠š̶̻̚a̷̙̹͑ŗ̸̺͒́ỷ̷̬,̴̡͍͐͘ ̶̡͓̒̐m̵̝͗̎e̶̦͌r̶̢͝ĕ̵͓̹̑l̵̖̭̐̍y̷̢͐͌ ̷̪̽ș̸̒͘ŏ̴͙͙m̸͕̏e̷̡̻͗t̷̤̾h̶͓̽̂ị̸͉̒n̷̽͐ͅg̶͓͆̀ ̴͖̑t̵̙͐̒o̴̓͜ ̸͕̓̽p̴̯̿͘a̴͕͍͗̋ṡ̷̻̖s̷̞̗̓̚ ̶͓̆t̷̬́ī̸̫m̵͖͇̎ẽ̷͜ ̴͎͘͠w̷̹̜̉h̷̲̊i̸̤̩͠l̸͍͌ḙ̸̝̕ ̴͍͙̋̚u̴͉͓̎̒n̴̨̫̅ḁ̴̕͝b̴̰̬̋̍l̷̪̕e̶̠̞͝ ̸̨̒t̸̳̦̅ō̷̜ ̴̝̙̀͠a̵͓̘̕c̶̝̓c̴̡̾ọ̷̈́m̶̦̱̒͛p̸̰͙͆l̶͓̲̈́̏ĭ̴̢̯̈́s̶̢̤͊̆h̵̨̟̋ ̶͈̜̓ọ̵̩́u̸̫̒̕r̶͉̈ ̴̦̰͆m̸͚̈a̸͇̩̿̏i̴̙̭͂n̶̡͇͊ ̸̺̀̈́o̸̗͂b̷͔̓̈́j̸̘̖̾e̵̛̩̿ć̴͍̱͝t̵̰̊̚ḯ̵̮̦̿v̶̲͉͒e̴̳͐.̴͍́[/o]
  445. Dang, how do I learn to do that?
  446. [o]>Ṭ̶́ḩ̶̰̐ẽ̴͕̽ ̴̥̩͒s̶̪̈́a̵̲̠͒̂m̷͕̲̂̂e̴̯̣̽ ̶̨̼̃̉w̴̳̏ă̵̲͉y̶̪̆ ̶͇͙͊y̵̩̗̋o̷̳̒u̸͍̺̽͂'̸̛̥v̴̛̛͍͕e̵͍͍̾ ̵̭̰̿̎l̶̫͒e̸̩̅̕a̶͑͝ͅr̶̛̥͗͜n̶̜̒ḛ̸́ď̴͜ ̸̙͝a̸̡͉̓l̶͎͊͝l̴̹̦͑̐ ̸̻͕̀̾o̴̮̦͊f̴̦͎̒ ̶̻́y̵̰̠͐̈́o̸̯͒ù̴̟̿ȓ̸̞̙ ̷̳͆̌ơ̶̟t̵͙̥͠h̸̻̣͗̽e̷͇͘͜r̸͙̈́̕ ̷͙̊͐a̷̳̅b̶̝̫͘ḭ̸̓l̸̦͘ï̵̞t̶͇̭̑͑i̸̛̠̜e̴̝̖̎̿ŝ̷̭̤͌ ̸̙͂ù̴̧̖p̶̙͔̽ ̸̛̦̰̎t̴͚̞̔̒ơ̴̬̯̍ ̴̡̆̈́ǹ̵͓̖͛ơ̷͙w̵̻̗̓̈,̵̞͕̐ ̵̢͉͑ị̶̙͒f̶͔͆ ̴̡̝͐t̵̨̿h̵̡̻̀ẳ̵͈̮ṯ̴̥̄̽ ̴͔̗̃̾t̸͈͋͛r̸̘͍̀e̵̼͠n̶̨̆͊d̸̼̓ ̶͇̅h̷̯̀͝o̴̦̊̽l̵͕͖̎d̵̼̝̏s̷̨̻̈́ ̸͚͇͌t̸̤̅r̸͛͜u̵̲̭̚e̸̻̔̕.̸̭͂̃[/o]
  447. Huh... Neat!
  448. [p]>Whatcha talkin' about?[/p]
  449. >You turn away from Astra and towards the source of the mental transmission to see Pinkie now in the room
  450. "Not much, I just found out that I don't need to sleep."
  451. [p]>"I knew there was something I forgot to tell you! Thanks for taking care of that for me, Astra."[/p]
  452. [o]>"We didn't do it for you, we did it because we were asked."[/o]
  453. [p]>"It's okay, I know you just wanted to be helpful!"[/p]
  454. >Pinkie punctuates her point by bounding to Astra's side and hugging it
  455. >Astra responds in turn with a barely restrained snarl, which ponk completely ignores
  456. >Let's see if we can diffuse this, can we?
  457. "So, what's going on today?"
  458. >Much to the brown 'mare's relief, this brings the pink mare's attention off it and on to you
  459. [p]>"We're going back to Twilight to finish getting all the legal stuff sorted out, and then you two can start getting your own house together."[/p]
  460. "Cool, cool. Anything specific?"
  461. [p]>"I have no clue!"[/p]
  462. >Pinkie's grin stays persistent as you stare, first at her but then more towards the ground, and recall the events of the last night
  463. >Yeah, Twilight didn't really give any specifics
  464. "That's fair. So, when should we go?"
  465. [p]>"Mmmmmmmmmmm... I'm not too sure either, I guess we can wait until Twilight calls us or until around 10 to check it out."[/p]
  466. "Alright, what time is it now?
  467. >Pinkie takes a moment to check a nearby clock before answering
  468. [p]>"It's about 8."[/p]
  469. "Then we have time to kill, I guess."
  470. [p]>"Then I'll get out some party games!"[/p]
  471. >Pinkie runs off to another room and kicks up a commotion there, so you sit back and wait
  472. >Astra, however, takes this opportunity to flatten itself and hide under Pinkie's couch
  473. Why are you going down there?
  474. [o]>W̶͓͋e̷̛̞ͅ ̶͚̜͑͊c̴̥̣̽ä̷̭̙́n̶̢͕̄̿ ̴̲̀̿ḅ̴̯͆̕a̶͈̿̈́r̶͇̈ě̷̝̈́l̸̺̜̇y̵̘͂ ̶̫̫̓w̵͓̬͊ĩ̸̼t̴̞͎̅͝h̸̰͛͌ś̷̞̓t̵̳͈̀͝a̸̡̎n̴̡͑d̸̙̀̉ ̵̪͒́t̶̢́̇h̵̝̃ḙ̷̺̚ ̶̧͗b̵̰̀̋r̶͚̭̋̂i̷̖̿ė̸̡̜̏f̶̢̬̿̾ ̷̖̍c̷͈̫̆̉o̶̥̲͊̆n̷̲̓̀ẗ̴̤̥́̈́å̵͚͝ç̵̅ṯ̶̔̆ ̶̹͉̓w̵͉̌͜e̴̻͖̐ ̴͕͠h̵̩͑a̷̭̐͘v̵͔̆ͅe̶͌ͅ ̷̣͇́̐ẇ̴͈̠į̴̜̌͘t̶͍̥͗h̶͇̳̃̉ ̴͚̉̕ṭ̵̔h̶̰̪͝ạ̴̃͌ṱ̷̟͐͒ ̵̱͌m̶̖͇̅͋ó̶̙̭̿n̵̡̚s̷̩̑̋t̸̜͍̓r̵̢̦͂o̶̲̟̅́s̵͙͕̿ỉ̴̱̐t̵̳̩̂̆y̸̺͍̎,̴̻͂̀ ̵̪̠́w̶̱̄ẹ̸̈́ ̷̼̱̊s̴͇̉͠h̷̬̙̍̏a̸̫̒̇n̴̙̰͐'̶̖͍͝t̶̺̓͜ ̸̪̉b̴̲͗ͅe̸͚̤̋́ ̷̦̜̑j̶̦̇ͅö̷̮ͅḯ̷͉̀ń̸͍̪i̴̼̾͂n̴͓̻̍͛g̵͔̀͠ ̸͍̳̓ȋ̸͈́n̶̨̗̈́ ̶͖̓a̸̦̽ǹ̸̰̒y̸͔̐̕ ̷̛̗̊ȏ̴̪f̶̪͚̓̔ ̶͈̇̾t̸̫͔̀̓ḫ̶́̚e̵̱͊̑ ̶͎͈̿t̵̰̂̚ͅo̷̼͐̽͜r̸̫͒́t̴̮͐̓u̸̪͍̓r̴̩̎͋ͅo̷̺͊͌ü̷̼͋s̵̯̩͒̊ ̷̠͗a̸̡̗̓c̴̰̞͆͌t̴̗̻̄i̵̡̍̈́v̷̠̟̔̓į̴̱̍̆ţ̴̀͐i̶̱̯̊e̵̝͋s̸͙̅͝ ̴͇̀͘i̴̟̭̐t̶͚̹̎͠ ̶̯̦̽n̴͇̄̽o̶̦͉͠ ̴̖̒̀ḏ̷̀̒o̸͚̐͆ũ̵ͅb̴͈̣̽ț̴̠̄ ̴̫̌w̵̮̟̌i̸̛͓̩͗l̶̛̯̘̈́l̵̙̆ ̷̬́b̵̪͒͝ṛ̵͠ȉ̷̭n̵̝̒g̶̲̋͝ ̷̛͈̖̿ú̴̟͍p̴̲̏̍o̸̧̡̅n̸̻̏͑ ̴̩̆u̵̡̧̔s̵̨͈̑!̷̝͋͘[/o]
  475. Dang, you really [i]really[/i] don't like her.
  476. [o]>I̴̡̛̤̿n̶̦̙̑̌ ̴̤̄̓y̷͍̓͜͝ŏ̸̟̆ü̷̙r̶̹̋͝ ̵̳̉͊o̶̳̝͆ẇ̷̢̙n̸̡̈́͝ ̵̬̅w̷̛͖͎o̸̮͉̽͑ȓ̴̲d̶̕͜s̶̹̗̋̈́,̸̬̕ ̶̭͉̓͠'̷̢̾͐n̵̰̯̕o̵̼̿̐ ̸̜̬̋s̶̥̆h̵̻̊͌i̴̩͋̎t̶͎̉.̵͓̓̋'̴̢͉̊[/o]
  477. Then between you and me, you're probably better off in the corner again since she'll just assume you want to play hide-and-seek.
  478. [p]>What's this about hide and seek?[/p]
  479. >Both you and Astra's attention turns back towards the doorway Pinkie exited from to find her standing in it
  480. >A few separate game boxes can be seen wrapped in tentacles and pressed against her body, while a few others can be seen protruding from places where she obviously put them inside herself for transport
  481. >To top it all off, she even has a box of playing cards in her mouth
  482. >However, once Pinkie sees Astra's silhouette under the couch, they are all dropped to the floor
  483. [p]>"OOH, I'll seek first and pretend I didn't see you there!"[/p]
  484. >With that, Pinkie exits the room again and begins counting loudly
  485. Sorry?
  486. [o]>Ỵ̶͌o̵̖̺͐u̷̧̻͘ ̵̲̉̚n̶̯͎͑ě̴̟̼̊è̴̖͂d̵̻͊̇ ̶̝̈́̅n̸̖͔̅ȏ̶̥̒͜ẗ̵͕́ ̷͓̌͋a̶̓ͅp̵͓̔̄ö̶͇̠́l̴̰̹̅ö̸͔́ğ̶͇i̸̮̎ͅz̶̞̭͑ę̶̞͛̽,̵̧̫͝ ̸̹͗̚w̵̬̎͘ê̸͕̫̐ ̷̜͓̿k̶̻̾n̶͎̪̑͛ỏ̶͕̣͌ẁ̴̧̓ ̴̡͔̑̋ẏ̵̝ō̸̡̗̓ư̷̼͈̒ ̵̖̠̅̏m̵̯̹͘͝e̵̡͍͒̇a̸͑ͅn̶̟̅t̸͙̎ ̴̰͌̐ẅ̸̛̰́ę̴̪̏ľ̵̡͎̉l̷͎͠ ̸͉͙̄ị̷̺̒̚ṋ̵̮̏̕ ̶͉͌͋w̵̝͎̕a̵̲̓̋͜r̴̭̙̓͒n̸̍ͅi̵͚̩͘ņ̸͈̈́́g̴̡̟̏ ̶̗̈́͛u̶̥͈̇s̷͎̘̋͝.̵̲͗͘ ̸̞͓̋͐S̷̩̟̚i̴̫̭͌m̸͚̞͑p̴̬̱͛͐l̸̤͛y̶̤͗͠ ̵̙̔̿t̸͔́͠ẽ̵͈̼l̷̲̐ļ̸̠͌̈ ̶͈̈̐ͅu̸̹̼͆̊s̵̝͇͂͑ ̶̲̖̅t̴̳̓h̷͕̕͠e̷̤͂̒ ̸͍͜͠b̸̜̿e̷̯͂͛s̴̞̃t̵͍͑ ̷͔͑ḷ̵̃ō̸͍c̴̪͖̃a̸͕̜͘t̶͎͙̒i̴̞̐̚o̶̥͇͠n̶̻͌ ̴̀͜t̵̯̽́ỏ̵̧͖͘ ̴̬̝́̾h̷̩̓i̷̥̜̽̍d̵̢̓e̴̺̱̔ ̵̞̲͆̕i̷̮̭̍n̷̹̅͑ ̶̹̔t̸̹̙̃͠ơ̶̺̤ ̷͎̑̄n̶͖̏̍ỏ̶̼̼t̸̤̯̀̏ ̶̭͕́̏b̸̲͓̎̑é̵͉͊ ̵̩̎͠f̶͕̪͒̇ő̶̲͛ů̶̙̖̉n̴̪͆ď̶͓̝́,̵͉̪̍ ̸̢̏ͅs̶̬̤͂o̴͎͍͋̈́ ̵͓̚͝ṯ̶͂̀h̴͎̦͌a̵͎̯̎̚t̴̲̳͑ ̴̢̔w̴̥̓͛e̶̺͌ ̵̨͌̍m̷̜̖̄̑ą̴̐y̴̭̟͊ ̵͉̆́ḧ̵̡̽a̶̤̯͒v̵̟̼͂͊ẽ̷̯͑ ̷͔̘͋̋ṣ̶͌̚ȍ̷̤͆m̶̮͛e̵̙͆͠ ̸͉̈́p̷̛̣͕̒ẻ̷̤̫a̶̼̓c̵͇̓e̵̺͓͒ ̷̤̙̀f̶̡̛͎ő̴̩̐ŕ̴̪̑ ̸̭̋ṱ̷͐͒h̶̜̀ȇ̸͎ ̶̛͉̠t̵̞̎ì̷̟͘m̵̨͚̃̋e̶̬̻͊ ̵͕͝b̶̤͘e̴͎͊͝i̴̹͗͜n̸̫̎̍ͅg̵̘͈̎͒.̴͇́[/o]
  487. That depends on how small you can make yourself.
  488. [o]>Ẅ̸̢̬e̷̬̕ ̶͈̗̅c̸͖͒ȁ̸̲n̸̦͕̈n̵̗̈́͆ó̶̘t̸̉͜ ̵̟͉̎c̵̩͓̉h̶̦̪̽̀ạ̷͑͋n̸̳̯̋̀g̷̪̋e̵̢̢͐̔ ̵̙̒̅o̶̢͝ǔ̴͚̗̑r̶̆͜ ̶͔͂̐͜m̴̘̎̉ͅa̶̡̜͛s̵̻̀͆s̵̱̏̂,̶̣̫̕ ̸̧̀͒n̵͔̏͝o̶̠̕̕ŕ̷̘̓ ̴̞̌̕c̵̪̀ͅa̷̘͊ṉ̶͖́ ̸͎͙̍w̷̪͑̓ȅ̶̖̹ ̴̖̈̀c̴͎̱̽o̴͚̤͝m̵̥͉̈p̴̫͕̾́r̴̦̈́̑e̸͉̯̍ṡ̶̜͈̾s̷̭̋͊ ̷̪͝ḯ̶̹͍t̸͇͎̀͘ ̸̠̅͠b̷͔̩̈́e̷͈̚ÿ̴̯́o̷̮̽ṅ̶̛̞d̵̳͓̈̿ ̸̫̊ã̵̧̭ ̶̙̒c̴̪͂͝ḙ̷͒͌ŕ̵̯t̴̩͛̑a̷̪͍̋i̵̢̇ṅ̵̫͝ ̷̢̋̅p̵̝͙̏o̸̖̠͝i̸̼̐͘n̵̡̛̂t̵͖̗̂.̶͊͜[/o]
  489. Well, what's that point?
  490. >Astra crawls out from under the couch before shifting once again, this time to about your size
  491. [o]>T̴̞̐h̶̩͂̕i̴̛̬̮͂s̴͙̠̎̽ ̸̘͖̈́͌i̵͇̕s̶̖̳͝ ̶̳̈a̷̫͆̊s̷̳̞̒́ ̴͉̋̌f̶̗́̎ȧ̷̪̠͆r̷͓̮̂ ̸̲̓̃a̵͇̓ͅs̴̯̾ ̷͎͎̌w̵͇͒͠e̵͍̾ ̵̧̳̍c̶̱̝͒̀a̷̭̱̍͝n̵̖͖͋̈́ ̶̹̥́͝g̷̞̽ǫ̸̲̅̇.̶̻̆[/o]
  492. >Huh, not exactly optimal, but you can work with it
  493. Okay, new idea. Split yourself up into pieces and hide those pieces inside all the game boxes. Sound good?
  494. [o]>T̵̝́h̷̻̬̎̀á̵̹̘͝t̴̺̕ ̴͍̌s̶͉̙͊h̸͍͌á̸̡̤͗l̶͉̹̎l̸͖̑͝ ̸̣͂͗s̴̫͎͑͐e̵͈̎ȓ̸͓͝v̵̮͔̏̂e̵̹̍̇ ̷̥̊̄ų̶̜͝ś̷̼̖ ̶̩̒w̷̺̎̆e̶̪͔͒l̷̻͕͌l̴̖̈,̷͚̩̋ ̸̙͚̔͘ţ̵͚̚h̵͔̀̀͜ȧ̵̱͜n̸̲̂k̷̫͆̋͜ ̷͕̇ŷ̵̞ọ̴̝̏̽ù̸ͅ.̷̢̼͝[/o]
  495. >And with that, Astra divides up into several smaller pieces and puts itself into a few of the different game boxes before closing them up in about the same position
  496. >Now for your hiding spot
  497. >You're not exactly looking to stay hidden for two hours, but you do still want to make Pinkie work to find you
  498. >Time to test some of your abilities, maybe?
  499. >And you even have an idea!
  500. >First, you begin by transmuting your hooves into more broad, flat structures with something akin to gecko pads on the bottoms
  501. >You then press one up against the wall to see if you've done it right, and since it takes a fair amount of effort to pull yourself away, you assume you have
  502. >Now comes the trickier part!
  503. >It takes a second, but you do manage to get your entire weight on to the wall
  504. >So far so good...
  505. >And after a few tentative steps, you've reached the ceiling
  506. >One more tenuous transition later, you've reached the top of the room and begin the last phase of your plan
  507. >You lay down (up?) and create more of the gecko pad surface on your midsection and flatten yourself out, and with perfect timing
  508. >Pinkie calls out the magic set of words right as she enters the room again
  509. [p]>"Ready or not, here I am!"[/p]
  510. >Wait, you just realized something
  511. >How is this going to be fair if you all can sense each others' presence and discern their location from it?
  512. >Well, let's hope Pinkie isn't a cheater!
  513. >She casts a few glances around the room first before going back towards the couch and checking under it
  514. [p]>"Nope, not under here."[/p]
  515. >Ok, so it seems she isn't so far
  516. >Next, she moves over to the pile of games she dropped and starts moving them around into a flat sheet
  517. [p]>"Nope, nobody here either..."[/p]
  518. >Pinkie spends a bit more time looking around various furniture and under it, further convincing you that she actually doesn't know where you are
  519. >You allow yourself a sigh of relief at this, but it comes out louder than you expect
  520. >And just as you feared, you see one of Ponk's ears twitch
  521. >She stops her search for a few agonizing moments, all the while you panic and realize just how open you are
  522. >She
  523. >Looks
  524. >Up
  525. [p]>"Found you!"[/p]
  526. >FUCK
  527. "You wouldn't have if I didn't sigh there like an idiot, dang."
  528. [p]>"Oh well, now you can help me look for Astra!"[/p]
  529. "Nah, if I helped you it'd just give away its spot since I helped find it to begin with."
  530. >A flash of worry briefly crosses Pinkie's face before it returns to normal
  531. [p]>"Astra's still in this building, right?"[/p]
  532. "Don't worry, I would've seen it leave if it changed spots."
  533. >And just like that, Pinkie's back to business
  534. [p]>"So what you're saying is that it's in this room somewhere?"[/p]
  535. >You... may have said too much
  536. "I'm not revealing anything, Astra asked me to help it find a spot better than any other and I feel like I've done exactly that."
  537. [p]>"Better than any other..."[/p]
  538. >Pinkie scans the room inquisitively again, passing over everything in it with her gaze
  539. [p]>"So then it's something that nobody would even think to check!"[/p]
  540. >And with that, the search is resumed with renewed vigor as Pink tears through the room, checking literally every nook, cranny, drawer, and bin
  541. >Whoops
  542. >Sorry Astra, this spot won't last the 2 hours you wanted it to
  543. >After another minute or so, Pinkie reaches the game boxes
  544. >When she opens the first one, she immediately dumps it out and exposes the Astra fragment
  545. [p]>"So that's where you are! Come on out, you've been found!"[/p]
  546. [o]>Ỷ̸̡̪̀ö̶̜́̎u̵̫̭͐̽ ̶̥̠͂h̶̲̿a̶̯̽v̷̧̌́e̶̙̖͑̕ ̶͎͊ơ̵̯͚͝ñ̷͕l̵̻͈̚͝y̶̱̜͒ ̷͕͇͂f̶̨̛̜o̴͇͔̿̾ų̷͙̾̾ņ̸͂̓d̸͚̙̍ ̴̹̈͝o̷̥͌̿ń̸̜̟̒ẻ̷͈ ̴̣͑s̶̡̏̉m̴̧̥̌ȁ̷̟͒͜ļ̸̳͐̓l̸̖̈́ ̷̪̇͌p̷̬̃̈́a̶̯̓͘r̸̢͕͑͝t̶̬̃ ̴̓̈͜o̶̮̯̒f̶̧̋̓ ̴͕̈́m̵̤̞̾͝e̵̮̥͆͂,̷̞͉̚ ̷͎͇͋͌n̷̗̆̂ơ̸̼̯͗t̶̛͎̹ ̷̘͝m̸̟̎̒y̸̖̓̕ ̵̹͐é̸͇͖͋ń̶̪̺͝t̶͇̞̂̍i̸̹̜͆r̸̲̕ę̸͑ ̵̮̂f̴̺͋̇ơ̴̦̜̓r̵̝̀̏m̴̲̀̄;̷̘̀ ̶͍̾̔Ȉ̶̡͠ ̴̢̩̿̀s̷̟̼̉h̵̨͙͑̐a̵̼̒̏l̷͍̾̇l̶̻̥͒̄ ̷̡̠̀̎r̸̳̓e̴̛̝̬m̴̗̦͗͠a̸͙̔͑ỉ̴̥ṅ̴̢͑ ̷̪̀̕ḧ̸̥i̷̥͑d̷̨̓d̷̬̃ͅẹ̸͇͆n̶̘̈́ͅ ̴̨̅ṷ̵̐͒n̸̥͛t̶̩́͘ì̵͉̌l̷̗̕ ̷̧͖̀̐y̶̧̹͛o̴̯͌͑u̴̯̕ ̵̠́d̷̺͂̚o̵̘̚ ̵̯͇̅ś̸͍͛ơ̵̬͓̕.̷͓̄̇[/o]
  547. [p]>"You're in the rest of the game boxes, they're the only places I haven't checked in here and Anon told me that she would've seen it if you changed spots."[/p]
  548. [o]>T̴̻͒h̶͇̫̀e̴̱̔͝n̸̼̥̅͝ ̴̮̓̓p̶̩͓̃̈́r̸̺͠ȯ̶̫v̸͔̑è̵̙ ̸͙͑͊i̸̡̩̽t̸̛̜̺ ̴̡̂ô̴̹͌ṟ̷̙̈́ ̴̢̍c̸̪͊̀ͅh̶̛̯͆e̵͍̿͌c̷̢̔͠k̷̤̱̈́ ̷̞̆̎ť̸̛̳h̴̫̼͠e̴̫͐̂ ̸̭̿r̷̨̾̏o̶̦͘͝ọ̸̗͊m̷͎̊͌ ̶̮̳̐a̸̝̞͂̀ḡ̵̩͒a̷̛̭͑ḭ̶̼̐̎n̵̢̈́͜͝.̷̝̀[/o]
  549. >Pinkie then grabs the rest of the boxes with various extended tentacles and exposes their contents simultaneously, revealing all the other Astra fragments
  550. [p]>"Proved, now who's seeking next?"[p]
  551. >Astra growls to itself as it recombines before going off to sulk in the corner again
  552. "If it's alright, I've got another idea for a spot that I'd like to try now that I know more of what I can do. Is it fine for me to hide again?"
  553. [p]>"Sure, Astra's seeking then!"[/p]
  554. >Astra sighs and plays along for about thirty seconds of counting before immediately finding both you and Pinkie with the proximity sensor
  555. [o]>"We aren't playing anymore, we have indulged you enough."[/o]
  556. >With that, back to the corner
  557. [p]>"Well aren't you a party pooper."[/p]
  558. [o]>"I̶̲͙͝t̶̢̟̏͂ ̸̘̺͐̇i̴̪̒s̸̫͑͂ ̸͇̖́͂ṱ̵̛ą̴̕k̴̳͋í̸̧͖n̶͕̚ͅg̷͎̊ ̴͉̰͊e̵͍͚͝v̴̹͕̀ẹ̷̹͘r̶̼͔͑̑y̵̰̤̿ ̷͇͑f̷̺̀i̶̡̟̓͑b̵͕̚e̷͉͖͠ŕ̷̦̇ ̸̲̄ö̴͚́f̵̧̄ ̶̬̇ò̷͎̫͊u̷̹͚̽͝ȓ̴͚ ̷͜͝b̵̖̼̚é̸̪i̸̥͘n̴̞̞͛g̵͕̲̿ ̸͚̯̎̈́ẗ̴͙ő̴̼͛ ̵̦̐̂ņ̸͘ö̴̧ṯ̴̩͗̕ ̷̲̭̓͝e̷̦͌s̸͕͒c̸̼̳̿̑a̸̗̤͌p̶͍͒ę̷̰̋ ̷̝̈͂à̵̤͇ñ̷͈ḏ̵͆̋ ̵͔͔̓b̸͈͛̚ǘ̶̯i̶̳̋l̵̛̰̞͝d̴̘̒̏ ̸̢̮͒o̸̙̔̀u̸͜͝r̷̥̔͂ṡ̴̱̏e̴̛͚̤l̸̖͘f̴̹̐ ̴̥̮̊̍u̶̺͊͆ͅp̸͔̓ ̶̫̌ť̸̜̻͝o̸̦̟̎̊ ̵͖͘t̸̘̎e̵̫̍͋a̸̗͓͗̽ȓ̶̦͉͒ ̴̮͋̒ÿ̶̡ȯ̶̺̊u̶̘͕̾ ̷̦͋ȁ̵͈͙p̵̮̉ͅa̷̗͙͆r̴̠̙̃͛ṱ̸̈́ ̵̤̖̾à̶̅͜s̵͇̕͝ ̴̡̖̓w̵͎̆é̷̝͗ ̶̦̀̂s̸̺̘̿͝p̸̛̭̦̈e̸̟͋͗a̶̦̟̓k̶̛̫̉,̵̤̦́ ̴͍̩̈w̸̦̺̒e̴̡̒͝ ̵͙̼͝w̴̦̝͂̐í̵͎̹͌l̸͎̅̓l̷̺̉ ̵̟͖̏͂t̸̨̔̎a̴͙̜͋k̴̘͇̂ë̷̹́ ̶͖͘̚ò̸̫̉ȗ̴̬͚ȑ̸͓ ̵̘̈́l̵̟̬̀́e̷̳͝ą̶̈́̕v̶͚̉̌e̸͍̳͒͑ ̵̦̿͠ȁ̷̩̺̇ṡ̶̲̂ ̸͜͠w̷̩̗͆̽ẻ̵̡͕ ̷̺̈̐s̷͕̆ẹ̶͋̈ẹ̴͗ ̷̡̃͌f̶̪̣̈i̸̳̲̒ṱ̷͆̂.̴̞̇͛"[/o]
  559. >The amount of malice contained with that sentence seems to completely bypass Pinkie yet again, however
  560. [p]"Oh well, I guess it's just me and Nonny then!"[/p]
  561. "I guess so, so I'm seeking?"
  562. [p]>"Yep! Start counting and I'll go hide!"[/p]
  563. >With that, you head over to the next room and start counting
  564. >You'll give her about thirty seconds before you head out, but you're going to try using that proximity detector yourself when you seek
  565. >Hell, why not try it now?
  566. >Let's see... Pinkie is...
  567. >In the other room, still at ground level...
  568. >Moving to behind you and to your right...
  569. >Crouching...
  570. >She's under something...
  571. >... The couch!
  572. >Aaaand thirty!
  573. "Ready or not, here I come!"
  574. >Time to see if you got it right!
  575. >Sure enough, you are!
  576. [p]>"Darn, I was sure you wouldn't check there!"[/p]
  577. [o]>"À̴̻n̴̯͛̑o̴̯͑ẗ̴̺̪́̒h̵͍͚̽̓e̶̹̝̿̎r̵͚͌͊ ̸͓͋s̷͖̾͗ḵ̴́̇i̶̘͓͝ḻ̶͑̏l̷̥̓ ̶̳̒̿l̴̯̟͗e̷̢̻͝a̴̢͕͊ṙ̸͉͇͘n̶̝̓͝ḙ̷̎̆͜d̸̠̋,̶͕͕͗͂ ̵̪̯͒y̴̘̕õ̵ͅǘ̶̩ ̵̩̅͘c̵̗̊o̷͖͙̍ṉ̴̅t̴̛͚̤͝i̷͂͝ͅn̶̲̒ů̴̡̠è̴̻͙ ̷̗̱̋t̶̯͑͆o̷̹͛̓ ̶̯̈́͜ġ̷̳͉r̸͕̃õ̵̢w̵̜̋͝ ̶̦̈́̈w̴̙̾͠ȩ̴̞̃͌l̵̹̍l̵̟̤̂.̷̠͑"[/o]
  578. >Pinkie's head jerks over to Astra before turning back to you
  579. [p]>"Wait, did you cheat?"[/p]
  580. "Only to see if I could do it, just in case I ever need to."
  581. >Pink considers this for a moment, but just shrugs
  582. [p]>"Alright, I'll let it slide. Just save that for a last resort for the next round, okay?"[/p]
  583. "Sure, now I believe it's your turn to seek."
  584. [p]>"Then I'm off!"[/p]
  585. >Pinkie bounces out of the room again, counting loudly the entire way
  586. [o]>W̴̝̺͋ȩ̴̌ ̸͉̓́h̷͎̉a̴̛̟̫v̸̦͔͘e̷̥̠̿͝ ̶̢̇͐ǎ̴̞̼̐n̸̡̕ ̴͔̘̓ị̵̱̂̕d̵̜͘͝ḛ̸́à̸̜̄ ̷͓͋͠f̸̨̘̓̓ǫ̶́r̵͔͂̓ ̷̛͉͍͋y̵̡͒́o̶̳͛̄ṵ̵͝r̷̬̿ ̶̤̒͗ͅh̶̰͍̉̉i̷̞̥̔d̸̞̲͗i̴̺̲͝n̸̝̼̈́̌g̷̹̀ ̷̯̟̕͠s̶̛̘̓p̶̲͈̃̄o̴̙̬̊̋t̴͕̹̀͘.̴̫̀̀ͅ[/o]
  587. >You turn to Astra and walk over to it
  588. What is it?
  589. >The shapeless mass before you opens up and forms an opening about your size underneath it
  590. [o]>H̵̨̽̌ẽ̴͙̹r̸͉̳̂e̴̪͗̐,̸̢͐ ̴̞̿̆w̴͇͊ė̴̳̱͌ ̴͈̩̊̇ẅ̴͔́i̸͎̝͐l̵̫̳̈́͝l̴̨̯̇ ̴̧͑k̵̡̯̆̚e̸͚͉̐e̷͝ͅp̴̩̕ ̵̫͇͌y̵̢͝o̴̡̪͗̎u̶̟͋̅ͅ ̶̻̒c̸͇̋̄õ̴͍̚n̶̝̼̄̓c̷̤͒͝ȩ̶͖̓a̴͇͛l̸̤̲̅̐e̶̿̈́ͅd̸͕̑̿͜ ̶̛͙ţ̶̟̏́h̵̬̫̊r̶̝̽o̴͎͛̽ͅu̸͉͐g̸̱̿̈h̵̭͋ ̵̱͝ŏ̷̡̳̕ư̵̗̺r̸̲̈́̌ ̵̬͑p̸̣̊r̷̰͘e̴͎̗͗̓s̵̖͍͋ȇ̸̠ń̴͓ć̸̖̟̐e̵͕͒̀.̴͇͙͒[/o]
  591. Okay, but I have a few questions before I take you up on that offer: one, how will I breathe in there, and two, are you really okay with leaving yourself alone with Pinkie?
  592. [o]>Y̸̟̖͛̚ō̵̯ǘ̸͓̪͆ ̸̺̤̈h̷̭̉ͅa̷̪̥͊v̵̪̙͊͝ȇ̴̻̆n̷̟̱̈́'̷̳̽̚ẗ̵̥̱́ ̷̖̓̀n̶͕̎ͅe̵͕͎͌͠e̴̠̖͠d̷̢̓͜e̵̡͌̾ͅḍ̸͗͆ ̴͍̈͘t̶͚̐̂o̴̧̠͘ ̸̝̦̉͌b̷̝̦͛r̷̻̓ě̵̼̙̄a̴̺̓t̴̞͇̃h̵̟̎e̴̳̮͂ ̶̧̗̊̂ṣ̸̾ị̸̧̿n̸̜͝ͅc̵̲̝̔̈́e̵̙̳̕ ̷̹̔ÿ̵̛̫́ȍ̸͚̱ü̶͓͍̑r̷̟̂̄ ̴͕̈́̑ͅḁ̸̈́̈́s̸̰̱̾͛ć̵̞ẹ̴͙̀̉n̴͎̩͆s̶̤̾ì̵͉̖o̴̖̖̿ṉ̶̀̽,̵̡̪̏̐ ̷͖͋͋a̷͉̭͐͂ñ̵͖̞̒ḋ̶̩̺̓ ̸̮̀w̸͍͂̀ȩ̷̤̾̕ ̵̪͗̐w̷͉̱͗̀i̵̤̝̓l̷̻͘͝l̴̨̤̍ ̶̼̉̂h̸̬̉ͅo̷̝͙͊l̷̤̂͋d̷̝͔͂̏ ̵̃ͅȏ̴̥u̵̩̾̏t̶͓̯͌͘ ̷̡̜͆̂f̶̞̻̏o̷̭̦͛r̶̤̀͐ ̸̯̌͘á̴̘s̶̮̀ ̵͓͒͠l̸̹͆o̶̰͚͌n̷̼̘̋g̶̱͐̈́ͅ ̴̡̣͗̌a̸̡̭̋̍s̵̳̅̓ ̴̹̊̚ȉ̶̫͛t̸̜͑ ̶̹͠t̴̲͌a̴͙̠̒̒ḵ̴̐̄e̵̩̼͝ş̴͆͑ ̵̲̟̉t̶̗̑o̷̞̗͆ ̸͓͗͗g̸̨͐͛e̵̞̞͒t̸̪̖͠ ̴̧͇̔ẗ̵̩͈́̄ḧ̵̤̚e̴̱̪͂ ̵̠̱̏s̷̖̼͒͂ą̷̤̈́̈́t̴͈̂i̵̹͆͂s̵̤̙̈́f̵͉͙͑̿ā̶̱̗c̷̝̠̿̏t̴̟̆i̸̢̩͘ȍ̴̙̐n̵̺̗̚ ̷̧̎o̷̗͇͆f̶͇̘̊ ̸̩͇͛d̷̬̗̓̕e̸͎͎͂n̵͈̙̊̍y̸̭͝i̷͔͍̕n̸̳̄g̴̲̐̓ ̸̘͛̋ḩ̶͉̃̒ȅ̵̞͔r̸̝̂͝ ̷̨̱̅̔ǎ̵̢̨ ̵͍̱͐v̵͔͓̎i̶̩̤̊͑c̸͓̊̈́t̶̹̺̾̉o̵̩͐͘r̶̦͕̍̓y̴̜̑̌.̴͚̚͝[/o]
  593. But what about what you said before? You already said you're at your limit, this'll just put you beyond it.
  594. [o]>T̵̝͈̋ì̷͕̱̐m̵͎̌e̷̩͗́ ̸̣͝ḩ̶͋a̸͑̆ͅs̴̮̥̏̆ ̵͇̄̒t̶̼̽͝ą̵̞͠u̷͚͂ğ̵͓̔h̸̬̪̀̊t̶͓̲̔ ̴͙̩̐̈́ü̸͓s̶̗̿ ̸̛̺p̴͕̚à̴̧ţ̶̀i̵̞̽̈è̶͇̇n̷̳̽͝c̸̮̳͂͂e̴̗͛͊,̷̤͒͝ ̶̟̎̅ḭ̴̺͒͆n̸̤̑ ̵̟̖̑̕t̸͍͛͗r̵͖̳̋u̷͔̿̋t̴̫̐̔͜h̴̯̓̂ ̴̘̏̐w̵̟̲̄̑é̵͚ ̸̣̦̔͑š̴͉t̷̩͛͜͠ḯ̸̯̼̂l̶͍̽l̴͙͝ ̸̤̣͛h̴̛̜à̶͔̐v̷̞̪̔e̶̞̖̎ ̸̞̏͆͜ą̷̩̈ ̵̧͎̔ġ̸̙͘r̸̮̽̚e̶̞̊a̷̜͋̎ẗ̸́ͅ ̷̞͛̿d̸̘̕e̸̮̤̍̇a̵̟̽l̸̤̤͒ ̶͈̥̌͝l̵̛̪͔̓ḛ̸̐f̴͚̳̏̄t̸̨͘͝ ̸̯̹̐̚t̸̮̓̋ǫ̶̈́͠ ̶̰̎̎d̶̞̏̃r̸͇͍̓ǎ̴̖w̶̙̋ ̶̫͌̀f̸̘̆r̵̪̗̎̏o̸͎̘̽͗m̷͈̪̍̇.̶̿̚͜ ̶̝̄Ò̴͖͖̊ú̶̙r̶̭͗̎ ̷̺̈̀s̸̘̀t̸͍̀a̵̢͉͑̓ṫ̴̛̟ě̵̩ṃ̶̡̂e̴̖̲̐̾n̴͙̈́ͅẗ̷͙́ ̴͕̭͋ẃ̷̬͑a̸̡͈̎s̴̟̜̍ ̷̖͕̿m̷̧̓ȇ̸͍͔̒ȑ̵̟̤̓e̴̳̬̐͘l̸̞̼̓y̸̡̤͘ ̷̜̌̅͜ṁ̶͈́e̴̹̾ǎ̵̝͔͌n̵͔̅̎t̸̢̳̕ ̴̖̏̚t̷̹̋͂o̷̰̼͐ ̵̗̆r̶͔̣͒e̶̜͊̕l̷̝̫͂̔e̶̖͂̿a̶̖͌s̸̡̠͝e̵̮̊ ̶͈͆u̸̬͊s̶̭͕̈̋ ̵̭͝f̸̱͕́r̶̗͝o̸̻̟̎͠m̵̨̬̓ ̵̮̬̈ẗ̷̡́h̷̺̐͂e̷͚͈̅̋ ̴̘̗̄o̶͙̽͆b̵̤͂l̴͈̐i̴̺̣̚ǧ̵̺̮a̶̺͆ẗ̶̨͒i̴̲͕̔o̶̢̎n̷̹̝͗ ̵͙͋́ó̶̝̝͝f̷̧̤̀ ̷̨̳̄p̵̺̙͒l̵̥̳͒ä̷̩́̂ỵ̸̿ḯ̷̢͘n̴̤̊͛g̶͚̑ ̶̺̓̑t̶͚̤̂h̶̺͇͛i̴̹̫̕͠s̸̨͑ ̵͍̉͘g̸̦̈́a̶̼͗̌m̴̥̊̈́é̴̤̦͌ ̷̜̙͊w̸͕̓i̴̦̕t̵̗̍h̵̥̟͆ ̸̧̰̀͘t̵̛͈h̸̯̎a̸͓̥͊t̸͈̥̅ ̴̰̞͋͝p̵̧͍̆o̸̲̍̋x̷̦̜͆́.̴̦̣̆[/o]
  595. ... Fair point.
  596. >Without further ado, you climb into the space Astra provided for you and cozy in
  597. >The entrance closes behind you, leaving you fully encapsulated within the warm, fleshy embrace of the creature that made you what you are now
  598. >Right on time, too!
  599. >You hear a muffled scream from outside, presumably from Pinkie's finished countdown, before more silence
  600. Any word on what's happening out there?
  601. >A moment passes before Astra responds, somehow much quieter than normal
  602. [o]>T̶̝̱̓͒ḧ̸̻̬́͐è̸͕̦̎ ̸͔̎͝t̴͇̺̀́ǔ̵̱̊m̸̙̪̀o̴͈͓͐͠ṙ̷͓͊ ̴̥͑͘i̶̢͆͌s̷̗̾͛ ̵̲̘̂ś̸̲͕ȇ̶͚ä̴̰̠r̴̟̅č̸̙̹͐h̷̘́̒ȋ̴̝̋ṇ̴̯̄ĝ̶͉͓́ ̵͈̇f̷̬̀ö̷̢͓́̌r̸̝͈̾ ̷̙̤͋̈́y̶̖̌̂o̷̼͛͘u̵͉͒́ ̸̖̈́ď̶̩ͅu̵̥̳̽t̷̮̳͋ỉ̴̟f̷̛͎͌ǔ̶̝l̵̳̔l̵͔̠̋͘ý̴̝̪,̴̍͆ͅ ̷̬̫̆ẅ̶̘́̈e̵̳̬̓ ̴̫̑̉w̸̤͐o̴͆͜ͅủ̵̬͖l̸̝̲͗̚d̸͕̎ ̴͙͇̚r̶̙̒e̶̢̘̍̊c̷̖͌͘o̴̤̍͠m̵̫̐m̶̢̑e̶̹̍̚n̷̳̾d̸̟͇̚ ̵̭͈̽̓s̷͔͜͝t̷̛̚͜ͅạ̸̳͑ỷ̸͚͚̽į̵̖̇n̴̻̈́͋ǧ̷̞̈́ ̶̧̩̃̇s̶͓͂̂î̵͕̣̄l̵͍̬̽̍e̸̯͌n̶̜͐̒t̴̹̏ ̵͙̃͛f̶̞͓͐o̵̩͚͒r̷̼͘ ̶͓͘ę̴̓v̷̥̑͗e̶͖̠̔̃n̶̤͛̑ ̷̢̉m̵̱͛e̷̹̮̋͗n̶͇̪̓ẗ̸̙a̷̡͋̆l̷̙͈̒ ̵̲̍̏c̴̟̹̈o̶̭͛̀m̵̗͊m̸̳̟̊̉ǘ̸͉̽n̶̥̮̚î̷͈̙͐c̴̤̜͆̈́à̸̞̬͆t̷̢̛͝ȋ̷̕͜õ̷̞̭n̵̦̗̾s̴̝̎ ̴̤̾̏s̵̱̜͑͝ô̸͍͍ ̵͈̉́ṭ̵̀h̸̨͓͛̕a̸͉͖͋ť̴̤̉ ̷̧̙̚s̴̢̾h̴̹̊ę̴̞̌ ̶̨̍d̴͎̅o̴̜̊é̶͈̲͝s̵͔͙̕n̶͖̋̽'̵̝̹́͛ť̸̯̯̃ ̸̲̀g̷̬̥͐r̸͉̀ȯ̴̼̳̓w̵̘͔͐ ̴̪͝w̴̩̘̐i̸̙͗̚s̸̛͇̆ē̴̼ ̶̙̐̅t̸͍͛̋ö̶͍́ ̵͎̊y̸̮̒̓o̵̥͊͝u̵͚̅̅ṛ̷͖̕ ̷̠̓l̴̰̹͛ò̵̫̮c̵̡̈̈a̶͓̓͐ț̸̆i̵͍̊ò̴̰̠̍ñ̷͓̍.̸̮̈͛[/o]
  603. >Huh, guess there's a way to whisper your thoughts
  604. >You don't want to risk it now though, so you instead whisper with your voice
  605. "Got it."
  606. >And then you wait
  607. >And you wait some more
  608. >And you wait even more
  609. >And you wait and you wait, wait wait wait wait...
  610. >Is wait even a word anymore?
  611. >W a i t, wait
  612. >It's starting to sound weird now
  613. >Look weird, too
  614. >Who even decided that wait was spelled wait?
  615. >Wait, am I even spelling it right anymore?
  616. >Eh, it doesn't matter
  617. >Anyway, where were we?
  618. >Oh, right
  619. >Waiting
  620. >And waiting
  621. >Aaaaaaaand waiting
  622. >...
  623. >.....
  624. >.......
  625. >Fuck it, you gotta know how long it's been
  626. "How long have I been in here?"
  627. >Astra is still silent for a small while before responding
  628. [o]>A̸̻͔̒̐r̷̢̦͌̈́ő̶̟̖ű̸̩̉ń̴̰̂d̸͈͆̄͜ ̷̈̇͜t̸̟̓e̵̡̐̐n̷̳̖̈́́ ̶̦̑m̴̱̙̅i̶̢͑n̶̹̄ù̷̡͈t̵̜̏ê̶͙̦̚ŝ̵̙͈.̴͚̄͠[/o]
  629. >HOOOOOOOOOOO BOY
  630. >And so Anonymous waited, longing for release but unable to leave
  631. >So, he eventually stopped thinking
  632. >Clap and laugh at my supreme genius, jotards
  633. >But seriously, you end up waiting for a fucking long time with the wait time only feeling amplified from the fact that it's nearly pitch-black in here with roughly nothing to do besides what you can do with yourself
  634. >No, you're not killing some time by sticking a tentacle or two where the sun doesn't shine
  635. >Imagine if Pinkie somehow figured out you were in here and Astra revealed you while you were in the middle of that...
  636. >Okay, stop thinking of that
  637. >I said stop, you horny bastard!
  638. >Fast forward again to some unspecified amount of time later, Astra eventually reopens the hole
  639. >Have you been found?
  640. [p]>"So THAT'S where you were!"[/p]
  641. "What's going on? Astra, did you sell me out?"
  642. >Pinkie responds in Astra's place, as you notice that it's currently in the process of reassuming its disguise
  643. [p]>"Nope, Astra was completely tight-lipped about it. It's just time to go see Twilight, that's all!"[/p]
  644. "Oh, cool! Did she call, or did I really just spend the better part of two hours in there?"
  645. [p]>"She called, you were only in there for about 20 minutes."[/p]
  646. >ONLY 20?!
  647. "Dang. Well, did Twilight at least have anything to say?"
  648. >Pinkie thinks for a moment before coming to a conclusion
  649. [p]>"She said... She said that Astra's legal registration is almost complete and so are the custody forms, and that a place for you both to live in town has been found!"[/p]
  650. >That's good
  651. [o]>"Then we should leave and finish that off, shouldn't we?"[/o]
  652. "Yeah, probably."
  653. [p]>"No arguments here!"[/p]
  654. >And with that, you're all off to Twilight's castle to get yours and Astra's new life sorted out
  655. >After a short walk lead by Pinkie, you all are at Twilight's front door and Pinkie's knocking
  656. >Quite fervently, too
  657. >However, after about four seconds of sustained knocking, she stops to wait with you two
  658. >And then, another four-ish seconds later, Twilight opens the door!
  659. >"Good morning everyone, I trust Pinkie filled you in on what's already done and what's left?"
  660. "Yeah, let's get that all done with; the faster it's done, the faster Astra can properly settle in here."
  661. [o]>"And the faster we get away from the pink one."[/o]
  662. >In response to that, Pinkie immediately leaps to Astra's side before putting a hoof over its shoulder
  663. [p]>"Aww, don't worry! I'll miss you too, but just remember that we'll only be across town from each other. No need to get so upset over it!"[/p]
  664. >Understandably, Astra begins a low growl that only ceases when Pinkie moves away
  665. >More pleasantries happen between Twilight and Pinkie, but you tune them out as the party moves back into Twilight's castle
  666. >After a while navigating the familiar hallways, you make it to Twilight's office
  667. >Once inside, Twilight takes a seat at her desk in the center of the room and begins leafing through a stack of papers before her
  668. >"Just a moment, Astra, I'm just pulling all the papers you need to sign to formalize things."
  669. >After making it through the entire stack, Twilight holds a few papers in her telekinetic grasp and beckons Astra over
  670. >"Sign these and you'll be officially registered as an Equestrian citizen and thus a legal entity, have full custody over Anon for the remainder of his years of 'foalhood,' and also have a place to live in Ponyville. Also, you'll be officially employed as a clerk here at my castle."
  671. [o]>"And what does that entail?"[/o]
  672. >"Nothing too much, just sorting documents and bringing necessary things to my attention. Nothing too hard or time consuming, since I fully intend on using some of the time you're here to help you adjust further."
  673. [o]>"Of course you do..."[/o]
  674. >Astra sneers at this, but nonetheless extends a tentacle to sign the papers
  675. [o]>"Now where am I supposed to sign these?"[/o]
  676. >"Just flip through and sign wherever you see an empty line with an X before it."
  677. >Astra proceeds to sprout a few more tentacles after hearing this, using them all to sign every paper at once wherever they need signing
  678. [o]>"Is there anything remaining that is required, or are we free to leave now?"[/o]
  679. >"That's about it, all that's left is for me to show you around town and where you and Anon live now."
  680. [o]>"Then let us finish these engagements so that we may resume our solitude."[/o]
  681. "I'll be there too, you know."
  682. [o]>"Yes, but you have proven that you are capable of interaction without annoyance. We accept your presence."[/o]
  683. >It's a start
  684. >"Then without further ado, let's go get you orientated and situated!"
  685. >Twilight takes the lead on the way back to the entryway with all of you following behind, and this lead extends all the way to the tour of the town
  686. >All the major spots are covered
  687. >The market district, town hall, the school, even Pinkie's house and place of work in case any emergencies happen
  688. >A few meet-ups with some ponies that are out at this hour happen with Astra being largely silent and letting Twilight handle all the introductions
  689. >You catch Astra in the process of planning a few assimilations, but you quickly shoot them down with a simple 'Don't.'
  690. >After a little while longer, you realize that Astra actually hasn't been paying the slightest bit of attention to any of the landmarks it's being shown
  691. [o]>Ȓ̵̪͝e̸̘͝m̶̡̜̈́ȅ̶̩͚m̷̫̑b̸̡̝͠e̶̟͋r̸̨̯̾,̴̝̀͋ ̷͚́͜w̶̩͒ȩ̸͘͝ ̶̠̀̂h̶̲͑͋a̶͂ͅv̴̬͎͋̉ě̴̯̉ ̴̜̊͘a̵͓̮̿̚ć̸̝̙̓c̴̭̅̚é̵̛̘s̶̛̠̘s̶̩̑̂ ̵̪̘͝t̶̠̃͗ó̶͖͇͠ ̴̧͚̀̆t̷̺̤̅h̷͍̾͝ȩ̸̐ ̵̲̄͝c̸͈͇̾̓o̵̱̠͐l̶͈̐l̸̳͆́e̸̬̥̓́c̶̣̹̃̉ṫ̵̗̝̿i̸̺̿̅v̶̤͎͛e̷̹̍̋ ̴̘̈́k̶̭͑͜n̴̢̦̽ò̸̢̳̅w̷͓̿l̴̩͎͌e̵̯͙͗̅d̸͔͍̊g̷͈̈́͊e̴̱͝ ̴̩̅̄ó̶͎̩͒f̴̪̖͛̇ ̴̧̿̐a̴̧͓̔́l̶͚͊͗l̴̛͖͠ ̵͕͕͐͒t̵͕̍ḥ̸̳͝e̶̺̊ ̸̝͒b̷͓̒e̸͉̜̊̑i̵̜̠͋̋n̸̻̈́g̶͚̈́s̶̡̺̈́ ̸̩͋̆ẅ̸̭́e̶̞͎͝ ̵̜̺̉ḁ̶̥͌̊s̶̜͆̌s̷̢̰͊͌i̴͙̓̅m̴͔͋̿í̵̻ḽ̸̈́a̵̲͔͆t̷̗͍͐͝ȇ̸̢,̶̨̛̭ ̵̮̥̅e̷̳͝v̸̧̟̆e̸̼̦͗n̸̺̈̉͜ ̵̳͇͗̏y̸͎̓o̴̡͙͐ú̸͎͎̕r̵̛̘̘̊ ̵̳͑ō̴̟̚ͅẃ̶̨n̵͕̘̏͘.̴̰̩̂̈́ ̷̦̬̓̽T̸̠̯̄ḫ̵̗̍ì̴̼̳ş̷̚ ̴̻͎͂̂t̸͖̉ő̴̥̱͠u̸͍̖͆͝ṛ̷̣̅ ̵͔͌͑i̵̧͍̐̚s̸̤͇͂̿ ̵̮̭͗n̶̯̾͂ę̸̖̔̆a̵̔͜͠r̶̤̲̂̐l̵̬̆̚y̶͔̩͠ ̴̘͗̚p̷̮̭̅o̷͓̮͠i̴̺̓ͅn̶͎̽͌t̶̺͌ḽ̷͈̇̕e̸̜̜͊s̵̢̢̽͋ṡ̴̲͌,̶̣̃͋ ̶̬̀a̶̭̫̾l̸̝͘l̵͕̄ ̴̞͎̈ẘ̵͍̹ë̵̙̪́ ̶̫̈́ṛ̶̊͘ë̸͎́̄q̵͙̈̽ǔ̶̖͓i̵̳̽ṙ̴̛̗e̵͙͝ ̷̯̽͑í̶̥͑ͅš̷̯̞̎ ̴̩̦̂̅t̸̖͛ḫ̴̩́̀ë̴̟̜́̉ ̸͓͗k̵̥̄n̸̰̈́͋o̵̖̖̊̕w̴͉̿l̷͍͊̊e̷̫͛̀d̸̠͆g̶͍͊ḛ̸̋̑ ̴̗̒̀o̵̞̜̾f̸̮̹̓͊ ̷̟̰̐̍w̷̬̯̍ȟ̶̜͓e̴̲͖͋r̷̛͙͗e̶̲͝ ̷̢͕̆ŵ̷̟e̴̖̺͗̽ ̸̪̱͌w̸̗̜̐̈i̶͓̠̍̽ĺ̵͎l̷̥̂͝ ̷̠͚̈́b̷͉͎̌̔ĕ̸̢̤ ̴̢̱̆̆s̴̜̼͆͝ṯ̸̟̂͊a̶̞̦͗̚y̴͉̬͐̀i̸͚̦͆n̸͈͔̊̀g̷̨͙̀.[/o]
  692. Yeah, I probably should've remembered that and brought it up.
  693. [o]>M̵̭̌̃i̵̱̻͒̃s̴̥̏̌t̸̰̙͆͗ḁ̵̱̂͊ḵ̸̥̒e̴͕͔̽s̵̤̈̇͜ ̸̞͖͑a̷͂ͅr̶̮̤͌̌ê̵̖̌ ̴̡̹̈́̇m̵̯̐a̷̰̋͌d̸̢̥̋e̶̱̘͂̃.̴̙̈̓ ̶̫̀D̷̡̝̄ö̵͙̖́̚ ̵̺́̿n̶̜̍͘ö̷̝́͝t̵̻̙͊̚ ̴̭̹̎d̸͉͍̆̿w̸̟̓̔ͅë̷̝͚́͝l̸͈̂l̷͔͇̎,̴͉̀ ̵̜̋̄b̴͓̠́u̵̧͐͝t̷̨͈̊͠ ̷͔͕̎̏r̵͉̾ạ̵̊t̸̢̪̋ḣ̶͍͚̀e̶̝̽r̵̪̕ ̴̡̋é̴̯̃n̶̨̤͂͗v̶̩̈̀i̵̘̝̊s̵̫̺̏i̴̟̐õ̶͇̱̕n̵̥͕͆ ̴͕̱̊͂ṯ̴̐ḣ̸͖̻e̶͎͒̕ͅ ̵̜͋̚f̶̧̈́ṷ̸̓t̸̙̽͘ů̶̲r̵̘̼̂ẹ̵͌ ̴͓̮͂͌w̶͙͉͒͑h̴̻̼́e̶͍͂r̸̘͗è̴͇̼ ̷̼͌t̴̳̪͛͠ḩ̵͂ì̵͖̒s̶̯̉͊ ̸̛̣̮̋ẽ̴̕ͅx̸̺͑p̸͎͝e̴͖̔r̷̞̃i̸͚̒̄e̴̳͛͑ṅ̴̯̕c̵͇̕ė̴̠͇ ̷̛͕̔w̷̰̞͝i̵̪͆̕l̵͈͐ͅl̸̄ͅ ̷̱̤̔s̶̛̻̠͐a̴̞͐v̵̯̦͋͂ê̵̲ ̷̭͇̍y̷͇̲͆̚ö̶̪̪́ū̶͔̒ ̷̮̍̕t̴̼̰̒̈́ị̷̾͆m̴̛͎̜̆e̷̖͝ ̶̮̲̔̉t̸̜̏̎h̵̛̘͇̚r̶̨͇̊o̴̯̲͌u̸̟͐͝g̷̮̅̍h̶̙̏ ̷̢͎̐͋n̶̤͖̕o̴̺̍t̷͔͈͂̾ ̶̞̔̂ŕ̸͕͖̏e̶̡̋̀p̷͎̼̅̆ȩ̶̓͠a̸͎͝ẗ̶̼́i̷͇͂n̷̡̰͂g̷̟̳͒ ̵̡̙͑t̷̨̥͊h̵͓͋e̷̡̞͑̐ ̸̢̇e̸̖͈͆̄ṟ̵̍̐r̶̝͛o̵̧̿r̷͔̥͛.[/o]
  694. Quite inspirational, but what made you mention all that here?
  695. [o]>C̸̛̯̏ö̸̬̹́͂ṵ̶͋̕n̷̢̞͠͠t̷̺̦̽i̵̬̾̈ͅn̵̼̉̽g̴̥͝ ̷͔̾͐s̸̱̓̿ͅé̴̙̲ć̷͔͝o̵̰͋́n̶̪̽d̵͈̋͆s̸̝͑͘ ̶̙̞̓̈́ḑ̵͖̄̎ǫ̵͊e̸̼̽s̴̙̬͂n̸̛͍̞̓'̵̫͊ẗ̴̳́̽ ̵̭̾́p̸̤͐̉ȧ̴͙̞s̵͕͘s̸̢͠ ̴͔̕ṯ̵̾ì̶͇m̶̤͖̔̿ĕ̵͔͒ ̶̲͑a̷̱͒̑s̴̲̱̽̂ ̶͓̓̾w̶̡̩̐ę̸͖̔l̵̻̈́l̸̥̍ ̶̜̝̌a̵͓̍͂s̷͙̒͠ ̴̲̣̀̚c̴̲͊̽o̸̡͈͘ņ̶̖̂͠v̷͎̑é̴͍͘r̷͚̆s̷̭̐̄a̷̬̤͐t̴̰͂̊i̶̞̋o̸̠̓ͅn̵̞̖͊͋.[/o]
  696. Fair point. So, if you want to talk more, how about you start thinking about how you want our house decorated?
  697. >Astra goes quiet for a few moments, concentrating on its own thoughts briefly
  698. >Despite all that, you get an answer remarkably quickly
  699. [o]>D̶̗͕̅ḕ̴̗c̷̙̑ǒ̵̘͝ͅŕ̶̫͎̊ả̶̰͇t̶͓͌i̸̖͂̅o̷̗̅̕ṉ̶͔͊̈s̴͓̏ ̶̙̍á̵̖̀͜r̵̲̀͝ȩ̴̲̈́̾ ̵̫̓b̴̻̆͜u̵̙̇͠t̴̤͍̓ ̸̯̮̊͛t̸̨̺͐ŕ̶̢i̴̼͙̔v̴͙̎̑i̸̭̮̊ǎ̸͉̅l̶͍̉̑ ̶͖̊̈͜d̷̡̓i̶̠̐͑s̴̞̀͝t̴̙̃r̶̝̀͝a̶̲̙̓̉c̴̺̭̍t̶̬͍̍i̶̥͖͒ő̵̘ṉ̸̏͝s̴̝̚ ̵̟̾̊ơ̸̤͊f̵̢̛͖̐ ̷̝̌ͅt̴̨͎̐h̶͉͊e̴͉͙̾̈́ ̵̣́m̷̲̿ḯ̴̝̤͂n̴̬͆ḑ̴͊͒.̵̗͙̿ ̵̫̚͝Ẇ̵̪͘ͅȩ̸͈͒ ̸̲̠̔r̶̾͜ễ̶̜q̴̬̹̂ù̷͖̏i̸̫̪͑r̴͍͎͊̅ę̴͚̔ ̵͈̿̃n̴̘͋̒o̵̠͘n̵̺̗̕ę̶̿ͅ,̷̥̿ ̵̢̹̿͋n̶̮̠͒o̵̳͓̕r̷̝̣͒ ̸̡̰͋h̷͎̥͌́á̶̡̑v̸͓̭̇̌e̵̞̰̊͐ ̵͔͓͌͝ắ̷̹̫ṇ̶̑ỷ̶̡̈́ ̷̛͖̏p̸̘̿r̸̺̘̂ë̴̗̚f̶̲̋̊è̵͉͔r̷̺̅e̵͎̹̾n̵̮͔̾c̵͚̗̈́̋e̸̞̳͐̄ ̷̛͓̐t̷̰͆̀ö̷̮̭w̴̼͒ā̴͇͕r̸̹̈́͝d̵͇̀s̸̩͎̽ ̸̘͗ͅw̵̞̫̎h̵̻̘̕a̸̦̻̿ṭ̴̛͖̓ ̷̠̦͋͋i̷̗̚s̸̭͊ ̴̞̈́̀û̴̖̭̉s̵͕͛e̷̐̽͜ḑ̸̜̚̚.̴̪̍ ̴̢͠ͅY̸̬̑͐o̴̙͆͘u̸͈͇͘ ̴͖̠͌͠m̴͍͘a̸̕ͅy̴̧̦͊̏ ̴̽͛͜d̵̩͇͌ö̴͉̠́ ̸̜͔̿a̵̻̋s̸͍̹̉ ̸͈̦̌y̸̨̼͆͝ō̸̯͒u̵͙͍̚ ̸̼̃w̴̪̮̏̀ȉ̷͙̭s̸̻͝h̶̗̽̅ ̸͇́ẁ̴͙̽i̴͎̠͐̌t̷̰͑h̸̩̃ ̴̨͈͗͘ț̶̛̠̈́ẖ̶̣̊a̸͉̽̔t̵̼͐̐.[/o]
  700. Is there really nothing that you care about having around the house besides the essentials?
  701. [o]>T̴̝̿͠o̸̘̚ ̷̻̇̔ȗ̶̬̹ş̶̨̋e̴̡̎ ̴͕͂a̴̦͙͛n̴̖͘o̵̺̊̾ṫ̴̢h̶̙̆̄e̷̡̋̋ṛ̴͉̈͝ ̵̠̊̾o̵̼̗̅̃f̵̯̹̈ ̵̯̟̌̅y̸̬͌̏o̵̜̽̈ȕ̴̡͇̾ř̶̡͑ ̴̢̻̍͛p̸͕̙͂h̶͍̙̀͛ṙ̷̯â̵͕s̶̞̲͝ē̸͜ṡ̶̢,̷͙̜̑ ̸̣͚̐ẁ̴̧̙e̴̛̺̣͂ ̵̟̗̎͠c̴̥͋̐ö̸̮̦́̚ǘ̸͕̠l̶͙̄͛d̶̢̆̿ ̵̨́n̸̗̭͒o̶̟̣̊t̴͙̎̕ ̴̧̈́c̵̟͑͘a̶̜̔͠ŕ̴̲͒ȇ̴̪͝ ̶̰̾l̴͕͆ę̸͉̈́̀s̸̹̺͝s̴̙͉̚.[/o]
  702. Alright, feel free to cut in whenever during the decoration process if you change your mind.
  703. [o]>A̶̖̜̕c̸͉̤͌̅k̸̝̙͋n̴̼̉ò̶͓w̴͓̌l̶̹̜̊̚e̶̪͙̽̍d̸͓͐͜g̴̖͆e̸̖̹͑͝d̷̟͛͘.[/o]
  704. >"... And this is where you two will be living!"
  705. >You snap your focus off of Astra as Twilight exclaims this and reorient it to where she's gesturing
  706. >A humble two-story house, typical in both size and style to the usual Ponyville building
  707. >Uh, how did you get here again?
  708. [o]>Ẁ̵̞̘̑ȩ̵͌͘ ̵̊ͅk̷͔̈ë̴̢p̴̬̌t̸̨͕̚ ̴͚̜̊ņ̵̔́ö̷͔́ț̴͖͛̅ë̴͙̦̅ ̷̡͖̓o̴̹̳̊f̸̨̓̔ ̸̩͗ț̷̩̄̓h̷̼̾̿â̷̹t̷͎̆̕,̴̺͆̀ ̶̞̂̊d̶̹̟̈ỏ̴̪̼͘ ̴͕̇̈́n̵͙̝̓o̴͎̊͌t̵͎̪́ ̶̫̤̾w̴͉̎̚o̵̰͌̓r̶̡̓r̷̨̹̔y̶̞͌̇ͅ.[/o]
  709. >As the words flow into your mind, you also receive a mental package with it
  710. >Upon your realization that this has happened, the package immediately opens and you are bestowed with the knowledge of just where in the town you are in relation to everywhere else you visited
  711. Thanks!
  712. [o]>Y̴̪̘͠ō̸͖̠u̵̪͈͋ ̶͚̂a̵̘̓̚r̷̬͌̂é̵̛̬ ̵̘̤͝w̵̘̪͒e̶̜͈͒̚l̶͍͈̔̈́c̷̲͊̈́ỏ̶̟͕̈m̶͙̒ȅ̷̜̠.[/o]
  713. >Now that all that's out of the way, you turn your attention back to Twilight
  714. >"You two feel free to get to know your new home, and Anon, I'll teleport your stuff to whichever room you choose for your bedroom."
  715. "Alright, thanks! Astra?"
  716. [o]>"Yes?"[/o]
  717. "Still no input about the decorations?"
  718. [o]>"None."[/o]
  719. "Alright. I'll let you make that decision when you're up to it, and until then I'll handle it."
  720. >With all that decided, you lead the way into the empty house to start looking around
  721. >It's a cozy little building, despite its two-story framework
  722. >The lower floor is divided between a living area, a kitchen and a bathroom while the upper floor is divided between a hallway, two bedrooms and another bathroom with a stairwell connecting the two floors
  723. >Upon reaching this upper floor, you inspect the layouts of both rooms to see which fits you better
  724. >Astra follows you up here, with Twilight and Pinkie following behind 'her'
  725. >While you're thinking about this, you shoot Astra a question
  726. "Pretty sure I know the answer, but do you care what room I choose?"
  727. [o]>"We do not. Choose whichever you would rather take and we will accept the other."[/o]
  728. "Alrighty, I'll take the right one. Twilight?"
  729. >"Sure thing, just let me get over there."
  730. >Twilight comes forward from behind Astra, the latter physically flattening itself against the wall to avoid touching the other, and steps into the doorway of the room you chose
  731. >After a flash of magenta, you peer in from behind her to see all of your stuff now inside the room!
  732. >Dank, and it all fits well!
  733. >You take a brief look at your belongings before deciding that they're all in the right place and going back out into the house
  734. >The others you came here with also clear out of the upper floor, but before you join them, you decide to peek into the other room
  735. >All that's there is a wall mount for a lamp
  736. >Literally nothing else
  737. >Now burdened with this knowledge, you return back to the ground floor with everyone else
  738. >Upon finding them in the kitchen with Twilight making sure Astra knows how everything works, you bring this up
  739. "I just noticed that there's nothing in the other room upstairs. No bed, wardrobe, nothing. Not sure if this is a problem, but just thought I should bring it up."
  740. [o]>"We see no probl-"[/o]
  741. [p]>"OH NO! Where are you going to sleep!? Where are you going to put all your cool things that you get from your friends in the future!? Don't worry Astra, your old pals Pinkie and Twilight are gonna fix this right up!"[/p]
  742. [o]>"There. Is. No. P̴̳̭͋͂R̵͌ͅO̴̩̣̔B̵̙̊Ḷ̵͐E̷̢̜̒M̸͍̰̈̅."[/o]
  743. >Through the course of this interaction, Pinkie collapsed onto Astra while Astra turned most of its biomass into a pseudopod designed specifically to wrench itself free of Pinkie's grasp
  744. >After a few more seconds of Pinkie somehow staying firmly wrapped around Astra's neck while Astra tries continually to break free, Twilight steps in and magically pulls them apart
  745. [o]>"We have never needed to express gratitude before, but there is a first for everything. Thank you, Twilight Sparkle."[/o]
  746. [p]>"Aw, why the breakup?"[/p]
  747. >Twilight sighs and turns to Pinkie with a serious expression
  748. >"Did you not feel Astra pushing against you to get away from you? Not to mention that you kind of cut... Her? It? Whatever, you interrupted Astra as they were responding. Maybe you should try giving them just a bit of space?"
  749. >Upon hearing this, Pinkie's eyes widen as the realization strikes her
  750. [p]>"Ohhh! I'm really super duper sorry, Astra. I didn't consider that you might not be as friendly as a regular pony yet, so I must have been too close for comfort! Starting now, I'll give you some more space."[/p]
  751. >You feel some relief coming from Astra's vicinity, but not much
  752. [o]>"However much space you think we need, double it at the very least."[/o]
  753. >Pinkie looks down from her current position to observe the current space between her and Astra and steps back accordingly
  754. [o]>"Double it again."[/o]
  755. >Pinkie again looks down, judges the distance, and moves
  756. [o]>"One more time."[/o]
  757. >Pinkie backs up the remaining distance she can, now standing on the staircase
  758. [p]>"This is about as far as I can go right now, is this fine?"[/p]
  759. [o]>"Mmmmmm... I lied, one more time."[/o]
  760. >Pinkie concernedly looks behind her, seeing nothing but the wall
  761. [p]>"I, uh... I don't think I can go any farther back."[/p]
  762. [o]>"You can if you leave this building."[/o]
  763. >This is where Twilight steps in again
  764. >"Astra, at least let us help you get situated here with Anon before shooing us out please."
  765. [o]>"Oh, I'm not shooing you out. Just the pink one."[/o]
  766. >Twilight sighs, Astra pulls a masterful pokerface, and you feel a wave of smugness fall over you from Astra's direction
  767. >"She's not going until I am, so please at least try to manage it until then?"
  768. >Astra releases a slightly growly sigh before capitulating
  769. [o]>"Fine, what else is there for you to do here?"[/o]
  770. >"I know you've already expressed your desire to the contrary, but it's going to seem weird if this house doesn't at least look like it's lived in by more than one pony, so we're going to need to furnish it."
  771. [o]>"We will allow you to do this if you provide us a good reason."[/o]
  772. >"Well, what if a pony who doesn't know about you were to come here? I know that Anon's brought friends back to the castle before, so they'd be pretty confused if it didn't seem like his new caretaker didn't even live in this house with him."[/o]
  773. [o]>"Would those 'friends' have any reason to go through what is supposed to be our spaces in this building?"[/o]
  774. >"While they shouldn't, it's a simple fact here that foals will do what they aren't supposed to. It's also fairly well-known that foals are bad at keeping secrets, so if one of them happened to see this and bring it to the attention of another adult either on purpose or by accident... I'm sure you could guess the problem that would arise."
  775. [o]>"So not only are we to assimilate into this world, but we're also to mask our true self even while within our own sanctum?"[/o]
  776. >"As much as you may not like it, that's probably what's best to make your integration go as quickly as possible."
  777. >Astra raises an eyebrow at Twilight, who sighs and continues with her explanation
  778. >"Look at it this way, if the other ponies get used to you being a pony and you get used to having the pony mindset at the same time, it'll probably go over a lot easier with both you and everypony around you when you finally make the big reveal that you're actually a shapeshifting parasitic alien hivemind."
  779. [o]>"Fine. I can tell that you wish to strip our dignity from us further, so we'll simply let you and ignore it."[/o]
  780. >"Would it help you if you thought of it more as a way of solidifying your infiltration into this world's population?"
  781. [o]>"Only slightly."[/o]
  782. >"It's a start. Anon, want to come with us to help out, or would you rather stay here and get your room in order?"
  783. >Twilight and Astra both look to you when this question is asked, but Astra has a bit more to give than an expectant look
  784. [o]>C̴̰̖͌o̷̡͒m̵̀͜͠e̵̠̪̚,̷͎̕ ̵̧̇̚p̷̺̚r̴̬̎ͅo̸̘͗͝v̶̡͕́ǐ̵̪͓d̴̦͚̀ě̵͕ ̴̨̥͑ù̸̢̩͠s̷̤͖̑͝ ̷̹̗͝ẃ̵͕̲i̵̙̇ţ̸̘̓h̸̡͆ ̴̯̈a̶̺͈͛̀ ̴̡̦̅b̴̻͎̋ụ̶̆f̴̞̂̈f̷̡̈ĕ̶̞̼r̴̳̝̄͛ ̸̨̻͆f̴͚͔͒r̶̢̪̊o̵͈̽͝m̸̹͗͂ ̵͈̜̾̓t̷̛̼͉̕h̷̊͠ͅė̵̘͆ͅs̸͛̚͜é̴͜ ̶̼̈́̋t̵͍͊͘w̷͑̀ͅò̸̯͑.[/o]
  785. Alright, but I'm not going to be able to be a buffer forever. Eventually you'll have to figure it out yourself, so just remember that.
  786. [o]>Ẃ̵͔̼̾e̷͊̐͜ ̴̡̥́͋s̵̺̺̆̕h̷̗̍̀ả̶͍͕l̶͚̀̉l̶̢̀ ̶̧͊b̵̛̥͑ú̸̗ȑ̸̞͎n̶͚͌̀ͅ ̵̞̊̀t̶̳̑͘h̸̭͍̆a̶̱̎̕ṫ̴̘̚ ̸̹̂̿b̴͈̟̒͠r̶̼̠͑i̵̬̻͒d̴̛̜̳g̵͔͕̉͠ē̶͇̻͐ ̷͔̦̐̂w̶̱̹̌͊h̵͕͎͐̆e̶̢̋n̷̪̕ ̶͕̲͆̃ẇ̷͜e̵̙̓̽ ̶̻̆͛g̶͖͈͆̇ė̸̩t̴̨̽ ̵͈̗̐̽t̷̨͋ȏ̷͓̦́ ̷͈̖͐i̷̾̋ͅt̴̙̑͠,̵͎͛͜ ̵̛̪ṋ̵̡̾̐ợ̶w̷̤͓̌̂ ̸͇̑c̶͕̫͘ȯ̶͕m̶̯̿e̷̛̤![/o]
  787. What's the magic word?
  788. [o]>... P̷̻͙̅̚l̴̻̇͝ë̵̝̀ä̴͎͜s̷̢̀e̴͉͓̊?[/o]
  789. There we go, now let's go!
  790. "I'll come, I can get my room in order on my own time."
  791. >"Alright, let's go!"
  792. >With that, Twilight leads the way down the stairs and out to the outside world, with everyone else following behind somewhere
  793. >After a few trips to a few places to pick some furnishings for the house with you doing most of the choosing while Astra deflects it all to you, you all return back to your new home to get it all in place
  794. >By the time it's all over, the day's almost completely spent
  795. >So many hours with so many stops made...
  796. >It's a good thing that Twilight was footing the bill, otherwise the actual haul would've been far less and thus far less convincing
  797. >Well, according to her argument
  798. >Something tells you Twilight had other reasons for it, but you're not complaining
  799. >Now, there's space for you to lay around all around the house instead of just in your room and Astra has all sorts of places to hide for when Pinkie shows up!
  800. >"Alright, do you two want us to help get everything organized and set up in a way you want, or can you both handle it from here?"
  801. [o]>"We are quite fine with handling everything, you may leave."[/o]
  802. >"Are you sure? There's a lot here to move, we can help get it all done a lot quicker."
  803. [o]>"There is no need for assistance, we can both handle it from here."[/o]
  804. >"Alright, if you insist. Come on, Pinkie, let's go home."
  805. >Twilight and Pinkie start heading for the door, but Twi stops short as she remembers to say something
  806. >"Oh yeah, Astra, remember to be up and ready by 9 tomorrow, that's when your job starts!"
  807. [o]>"Yes, yes, we will be ready. Please leave."[/o]
  808. >"Alright, we're going, don't worry!"
  809. >Twilight gives an exasperated sigh as she pushes Pinkie out the door with her, closing it afterwards
  810. "So, how are we doing this?"
  811. [o]>"We have no preferences. We will help you do what you need to make things look as you wish them to, but we have no input on this matter either."[/o]
  812. "Okay, but I meant more what would you rather do in terms of getting everything set up? Move furniture, hang pictures, what?"
  813. [o]>"Again, we have no preferences. Whatever you require of us, we will do."[/o]
  814. >You never quite realized how frustrating your own indecisiveness was to everyone aroud you until now
  815. "Fine, uh... Hang pictures, I guess. You know how to do that, right?"
  816. [o]>"If you know, then we know."[/o]
  817. "Good, you do that and I'll see how far I can get with moving furniture."
  818. >Astra nods before immediately sprouting numerous tendrils and using them simultaneously to pick up both pictures and hangers and mount them on the walls
  819. >Meanwhile, you get to work pushing a couch and find it surprisingly easy
  820. "Hey, did you turning me into this also make me stronger?"
  821. [o]>"Yes and no. While your relative strength is still the same, your body is now capable of using its full potential to exert force while also reallocating unused musculature to areas where it is needed most."[/o]
  822. "Neat!"
  823. [o]>"'Neat' indeed. However, this does come at the cost of you no longer being able to grow stronger through traditional means. In order to increase your own strength further, you must attain more biomass and absorb it."[/o]
  824. >And there's the catch...
  825. >Well, maybe
  826. "Does it have to be living biomass?"
  827. [o]>"While technically no, you will gain far less strength from biomass that is already dead due to you not being able to assimilate living cells and instead having to process dead cells back into living ones."[/o]
  828. >Okay, that's a breath of fresh air
  829. "So one more question: can it be biomass attained from plants as well as animals?"
  830. [o]>"Yes. Plants can also yield strength if processed correctly, but it will yield less than other animals even if those animals are dead."[/o]
  831. "Then let me guess, eating dead plant matter will actually cause me to lose strength?"
  832. [o]>"No, but you will not get stronger either. You may as well absorb nothing if you choose to absorb dead plant matter."[/o]
  833. >Well, looks like you might as well not even bother eating anymore then
  834. >Unless it's for fun
  835. "Okay, I lied, I have one more question. Is there anything else I should know about the kinds of biomass I consume?"
  836. >Astra pauses briefly in its tasks, considering your question for a moment
  837. [o]>"Animal biomass yields strength and intelligence due to assimilated muscle fibers and neurons, plant biomass yields endurance and durability from assimilated chloroplasts and cell walls."[/o]
  838. >So everything gives something...
  839. "And I'm guessing the same rules for living versus dead apply to plant matter as well?"
  840. [o]>"Correct. You learn more every day, soon you will be a master of your own body. Then, we can begin your true ascension."[/o]
  841. "I'm still not assimilating anything unless it's willing and I give it back its body."
  842. [o]>"You will, in time."[/o]
  843. >Yeah, that's what you think
  844. >Who does it think you are, your mom?
  845. >Oh yeah, that's the whole reason why you live with that thing
  846. >You finish pushing the furniture to your desired places soon after you finish questioning your new existence further and decide to check on Astra's job
  847. >When you look around, you find every wall barren!
  848. >Where did all the pictures go?
  849. >Then, when you get back to the living area, you see it
  850. >One solid block of pictures, all clustered right in with each other haphazardly on one wall
  851. >Bruh
  852. >Well, time to teach Astra a lesson in interior decoration
  853. "Hey, you mind coming in here?"
  854. >After a few moments, something halfway between a pony and a shambling mound enters the room
  855. [o]>"Y̵̢͒ͅe̴̳̥̚̕s̷̗̞͒͒?"[/o]
  856. "When I said to hang the pictures, I didn't mean to hang them all in the same area. You gotta spread them out, give every room a bit of attention so that it all looks better instead of..."
  857. >You turn back to the eyesore
  858. "Instead of this."
  859. [o]>"T̴͚̒̇h̵̘͖̋̚e̵͍̅n̸͍͎̑̋ ̶̳̿f̵̜͈̀̕ū̵̼̩͗r̶͇̠͛̄t̸̺͆́ḣ̶͕e̴͇̯͐̅r̸̺̈́ ̶̡̦͆ŝ̸͓͊p̶̢͎͂̓e̴̞̖͛̃c̷̙͓̓̄i̷̱̣̾͑f̴͈͐͘ì̴͛ͅc̶̬̈́̈́a̴͎͝t̷̲̙̓̀i̸͔̭̔̀o̴̢̗̽ņ̶̻͘͘s̸̢̟̕͘ ̷̺̜̽̓s̵͔̐̀ḧ̵͕̫́o̴̠̞͐ũ̷̩l̵̜̝̆d̵̯͋'̵͇̝̏͋v̴͈͕͂e̸̯͈̎ ̵̜̌͠b̴̮̭̈ė̷̹͝ě̸̱̩͘n̸̻̥̿ ̴̬̉̂m̸̙̐ȁ̵̭̼́d̵̟̂é̵̢́."[/o]
  860. "You can see the inside of my head and you have every piece of knowledge I do, there had to be something in there that was telling you this was a bad idea."
  861. [o]>"T̸͉̺͆̓h̷̞̑ë̵̪̙́̕r̵̛̝͎͑ę̶̥̂ ̵̠̭͌ẘ̴͙̥̕ǎ̸̜̜s̴̰͗̕,̴̠̕ ̷̛̺i̵̧͖͒t̵͇̐͝ ̷͔͎̒̑w̷̻̩̔a̴̰̥̾̄ş̶͘ ̴̼͛͜ȉ̸͇͖g̵̢̀̎n̸͊̆͜o̷̢̘̿͑r̵̫̅̾͜e̸͇̓̌d̶̳̈̉ ̷͈̈́b̸̩̆y̶̼̎ ̷̻̑t̵̯͍͆̒ḣ̷̡͍e̵͒̓ͅ ̵̻̕c̶̞̣̔̀o̸͔͒̓l̵̬͉͛l̴͍͉͒͗e̴̠͐c̵̦͐t̶̟̀i̷̩̼͌́v̶̭̝̋ë̵͓."[/o]
  862. "Protip, sometimes that nagging feeling's actually right. Now, do you mind helping me take all this down and spread it out properly? And just in case you need further clarification here too, pictures don't go in the bathrooms. Every wall other than the four in my room are also fair game, got it?"
  863. [o]>"D̷̜̔͝o̴͍̦͗̕ ̴̱̫̽͋n̸̮͕͐̒o̵̦͋t̷͚̕͠ ̴̤͚̈͋w̸̠̄̔ò̶̟͠r̷̟̀͐r̸̻͌ỹ̴̡͗,̵̛͈͓̚ ̸̖̌w̶̧̦̎ẹ̷͘ ̶͎̬̾w̷̱̪͝e̷̪͋͑ṙ̴͉͍ȩ̸̎ ̸̤̓̚n̷͓̰̈͝ọ̷̋́t̵̙̫̽ ̴̣̲̒p̸͇̃̏l̶͙̬͗͑a̸͙̖̅̕n̴̖͊̀ǹ̸̮̫í̶̠̩͂n̷͔͘ͅg̶͔̃ ̶̳͐o̶͖̖͋͌n̶̫͈̓͠ ̶̞͗͜m̸̟͇͊͊ȩ̴̝͂̀s̵̡̀͝s̴̡͈̀̓ĩ̵͎n̸̝͒͛g̶͕̥͌́ ̴̻͋w̶̲̳̐i̸͉͛͝ț̴͉̀̔h̵̹̏ ̴̨̄̈y̷̥̐ŏ̸͈̕u̴̗͖͒͘ ̴̙̈́̎t̶͍̿w̵̳̦̆i̵̙̎c̶͉̒̇ę̸̀."[/o]
  864. >Wait a fucking second!
  865. >You halt in place, several tentacles holding pictures in the air around you
  866. "So you were messing with me?"
  867. [o]>"W̴̢̯̆͐ḧ̷̡͕́ą̷̩͘t̴̥̀͝ ̷̤͆ơ̷̲̬͑f̷̟̏̊ ̶͔̤̕͝ì̸̘̈ṯ̷̫̓̈́?"[/o]
  868. >Astra's pokerface is as flawless as ever, but you can feel the mirth radiating off it from here
  869. "Wow, with a guardian like you, who needs a real parent..."
  870. [o]>"D̸̤̀̓o̵͓͊͝ ̷͍̪̈́̇n̴͓̾o̸̺̿t̵͎͆ ̶̩̪̌b̵̨̦̀ḛ̶͌ ̶̞̭́̋s̵͕̜̎̍ȏ̴̟̪͆ ̸̝̓̑͜ȕ̵̠p̸͔̔͆ś̶̺̙ë̷̘̬́͆t̵͍̘̾,̴͈͎̍̇ ̶̝̣́͘i̷̲͊̀ṫ̶͕ ̴̧̒̐w̷̭̝͗̀ḁ̸̾ș̸͔̐ ̶̣͊m̷̼̙̂ë̶́ͅr̷̲̤͝e̶̬̳̋̂l̸̨͍̾͐y̸͉͒ ̸͂́ͅi̴̙͛̔ņ̵̥̆́ ̵̤̞͂͑j̵͖͖̆̓e̶̟̖͗s̴̪͝t̸̟͑."[/o]
  871. "Yeah, yeah, hang the pictures please."
  872. >Without another spoken word, you and Astra set back to your task, quickly correcting the problem and getting everything sorted back out
  873. >There, now this house looks more lived in!
  874. >While you're admiring your combined handiwork, Astra goes back to its own room without further interruption
  875. >That seems like a good idea, you also decide to go up to your own room too
  876. >Not to relax yet, you still need to put things into reasonable places first
  877. >However, once all your things are properly in order, you settle into your chair to read a book you're partly through
  878. >After it's finished, you decide to check the clock
  879. >It's four in the morning
  880. >And you didn't even tell Astra goodnight!
  881. >Well, you can still say good morning
  882. >Good thing sleep's optional too, otherwise you'd be hating yourself tomorrow
  883. >It is still summer though, so you could've gotten away with it for another month if you needed
  884. >Not like you need to, but you could've
  885. >Oh well, there's plenty of books you can still look at and besides, if you really run out of things to do then you can always go bug Pinkie, now that you know she's probably up at this time too
  886. >You instinctively get up, thinking to go get something to drink now that you're up, but remember that it's still physically impossible for you to be either hungry or thirsty now
  887. >Huh...
  888. >Then what do?
  889. >Uh...
  890. >Read more?
  891. >Eh, sure
  892. >You place the book you were reading back on the shelf you have and grab a different one off it, cracking open the front cover to check out what's inside
  893. >And this is how things continue for the rest of the night, all the way up until the sun rises and it becomes acceptable for you to go outside
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