Anon's a filly and Twi's not a cunt (cont.)

Mar 25th, 2018 (edited)
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  1. >be Anonymous
  2. >you begin to hear hoofsteps echo through the halls and passages of the hive around you
  3. >Twilight's coming to the throne room
  4. >after a few more apprehensive moments, she enters
  5. "Twilight, I have some stuff to say to you that's very important. You need to listen."
  6. [p]>"Anon, I don't doubt that it's important. However, it's going to need to wait for a bit. Now, go outside; I don't want you getting hurt."[/p]
  7. >no, she is not just going to throw out everything you worked for like this!
  8. "Twilight, I'm completely serious. This is something very important. Please listen."
  9. [p]>"I will, just after I deal with this [i]problem[/i] and we're on the way home. Now, go outside and wait for me."[/p]
  10. >amazing, the logical bookworm is going for the 'shoot first' approach
  11. >"I'm still here, you know."
  12. [p]>"So I noticed, and I'll deal with you as soon as she goes outside."[/p]
  13. >"I can tell you myself that he isn't going to leave without you either leaving peacefully or accepting his idea. He's made that quite clear to me, at least."
  14. [p]>"And what makes you think Anon's a 'he'? She's from Manehattan-"[/p]
  15. >"Save the backstory. He told me himself, and since he's from another world, he deserves his own agency. Let him choose what he wants to do, I know I have."
  16. [p]>"I don't know how you got that information from him, but don't think for a moment that I'll let you use it to spread your evil to another realm!"[/p]
  17. >"Thank you for completely dodging my point, but if that's what you're worried about, then let me tell you that I'm not going to act upon that-"
  18. [p]>"How am I supposed to trust you? Your entire existence is built on deceiving."[/p]
  19. >"If you would listen to him, he would tell you himself; however, you seem to be blind to that."
  20. >after that, they both go silent
  21. >they're only a few inches apart now, and you find that you've retreated back to one of the pillars
  22. >the tension is so thick that you could probably cut it
  23. >well, if you had something sharper and a bit more durable than an average knife
  24. >it seems that the tension's coming to an explosive release when Twilight charges up a spell
  25. >better duck and cover, things are about to go the way you don't want!
  26. >Twilight starts the fight off by firing a massive beam at point blank, which Chrysalis only just manages to block and send flying into a nearby pillar
  27. >it all just escalates from there, getting progressively more powerful as time goes on
  28. >eventually, as you peak your head out from behind your cover pillar, you see them flying around the room like something out of a DBZ fight
  29. >seriously, you can't even tell where they are
  30. >just where they were from massive green-and-purple explosions emanating from some point in the room
  31. >these explosions shake the room each time they happen, bringing dust down from the ceiling and the pillars of the throne room
  32. >the ones that happen farther away feel like a minor earthquake
  33. >the ones that happen closer to you feel like a grenade going off with you a few feet outside kill range
  34. >it's a nervewracking feeling with this all happening so close to you, yet you can't help but watch
  35. >it's like watching Goku and Vegeta fight in person, except it's not Goku or Vegeta fighting here
  36. >eventually they stop long enough for you to see them, but the fighting is still happening
  37. >Twilight and Chrysalis both charge up a massive beam attack while standing at opposite ends of the room
  38. >when they both fire, it collides in the exact middle
  39. >a beam struggle
  40. >you'd complain about fight cliches, but it's happening about 7 yards from you
  41. >you're more concerned with not dying
  42. >so then why are you still watching?
  43. >as the beam struggle continues, you see it being pretty much evenly matched
  44. >whenever one of them starts losing ground, they immediately push back with even more magic
  45. >eventually it ends with another explosion, sending all three of you into a different wall
  46. >Twiligt gets thrown into the wall with the door, Chrysalis gets thrown back into her own throne, and you fly backwards into the wall to Chrysalis's right
  47. >ow
  48. >that REALLY hurt
  49. >you don't seem to be bleeding, though
  50. >that's good
  51. >however, upon closer inspection of your shirt, the back is now shredded
  52. >fuck!
  53. >that was your only shirt!
  54. >your brooding over the loss of your shirt is interrupted as the fighting resumes, seemingly more frenzied than before
  55. >Twilight's not holding anything back now, and it even seems like she recovered instantly from that
  56. >Chrysalis however, is losing ground and fast
  57. >she's still putting up a good fight, though
  58. >somehow, it seems like she gets a second wind as she pushes back Twilight's assault and even starts putting her in a corner
  59. >however, you can only tell this from the explosions happening and not much else
  60. >eventually, Twilight stops on the ground for just long enough to charge a spell from behind a shield
  61. >from your initial judgement, it looks like she's sustained a few injuries
  62. >she's bleeding from a few places and has a few large bruises
  63. >all that heals in an instant, though
  64. >well, so much for that
  65. >after that, Chrysalis only seems to push harder against Twilight
  66. >the attacks are getting weaker, though
  67. >even you can see that
  68. >this is going to be over soon, and you're going to have to do your best to stop it from ending in a way that hurts everyone involved
  69. >eventually, it's Chrysalis that stops and does something
  70. >she's pretty damaged too, having even more cuts, scrapes and bruises than Twilight did
  71. >however, the light of battle still hasn't left her as she charges up a massive spell
  72. >even Twilight realizes this as she preps a shield spell, hoping to block as much of it as she can
  73. >when Chrysalis finally fires off the spell, it rips through Twilight's shield almost instantly and tears into the roof of the room
  74. >you can even see the rays of the setting sun penetrating through the thick cloud of dust that resulted
  75. >however, a shadow in the dust remains hovering in the air
  76. >just obscured by the cloud, the silhouette of Twilight remains firmly in its place, casting an ominous shadow over the whole room
  77. >eventually, the dust clears completely
  78. >Twilight's unharmed
  79. >and she's coming back down
  80. >and Chrysalis has fallen to the floor
  81. >it's over
  82. [p]>"You can't fight anymore, so I suggest you submit. Either go the way of the other changelings, or get sent to whatever afterlife you have, I don't care. You're a menace to pony society, and I will not allow you to threaten us any more."[/p]
  83. >Chrysalis has just enough strength to get back up and insult Twilight before she lands
  84. >"You may do what you like with me, but I'll never submit to somepony who recklessly abandons any thought of reason for settling old scores. What your contemptible companion did to me was enough, and I already made her pay. I wouldn't expect you to understand that though, I'm just another monster to you."
  85. >as Twilight lands in front of Chrysalis, she replies
  86. [p]>"I'm here for Anon alone and nothing else. If removing whatever taint you put on his mind can only be done by ending you, then so be it. Now, what do you choose?"[/p]
  87. >this is it, this is the only chance you have to keep things from getting worse!
  88. >you charge out from behind your pillar and start waving wildly at Chrysalis before running directly for Twilight
  89. >Chrysalis understands immediately what you're going to do and fires off the transformation spell with every ounce of magic she has left
  90. >you can feel the spell hit its mark, but you don't stop
  91. >if anything, you get faster since your now-human form is what you're used to
  92. >you also feel your shirt rip apart at your size change, but that doesn't matter
  93. >Twilight notices the spell go off, but didn't see what it was
  94. >as a result, she assumes it was a lethal strike in your direction and begins charging a lethal strike of her own
  95. >you're within jumping distance now, all you have to do is grab Twilight and you win!
  96. >don't fuck this up!
  97. >with one final step, you jump for Twilight...
  98. >...and miss
  99. >you fall to the floor mere inches from Twilight as she fires off the spell, blasting a visible hole through Chrysalis
  100. >as the light fades from Chrysalis's eyes, she looks at you
  101. >her mouth moves as if to say something, but the light is finally extinguished as her final breath leaves her body
  102. >she's dead
  103. >she's dead and you couldn't save her
  104. >you just witnessed a life end through needless violence
  105. >you will never be the same
  106. >you even physically feel something snap in your head
  107. >given the fact that all your thoughts freeze up and shatter at this moment, it was probably something in the emotion-processing area
  108. >Twilight turns around to see you, still alive and now human
  109. >"Oh Anon, thank Celestia you're alive! I thought she tried to kill you, but apparently she just... Transformed you? Also, why are you on the floor?"
  110. >now internally and externally shaken, you barely even register her comment
  111. >suddenly, the shock and emptiness in your mind begins being replaced by a torrent of emotions
  112. >sadness, anger, shame, frustration and disgust all fill your mind and vie for control
  113. >only just barely being able to suppress it all through clenched teeth and fists, you crawl over to the corpse of the queen
  114. >as you touch her now lifeless form, you now notice one of your emotions gaining a major foothold in your mind
  115. >you face Twilight with unrelenting rage fueling you to stand up and nearly throw her across the room
  116. >however, all you do is just scream at her
  118. >now realizing just how much she fucked up, Twilight immediately shrinks down before your immense form
  119. >"I-I'm sorry, I-I didn't-"
  120. >calming yourself down enough to stop screaming, you interrupt her and begin ranting
  121. "No, I know for a FACT that Luna sent you that letter telling you to stay put because she told me that you COMPLETELY IGNORED IT TO DO THIS. You didn't bother to prepare for the possibility that a fight wasn't necessary EVEN AFTER blatantly ignoring everything I was trying to do in mending a relationship and helping an individual that was being just as polite and hospitable as you were to me!"
  122. >"Anon-"
  123. "No, you don't get to interrupt me. This is on YOU this time. You're the bad guy here, Chrysalis just wanted to make sure her species- no, her FAMILY- had a future that wasn't on the verge of extinction at best! I don't know what you expect to happen now, but I know for sure that it's not going to happen."
  124. >you start walking out of the room, ignoring Twilight as she follows you out
  125. >"Anon, you have to understand that I was just doing what I thought was right!"
  126. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."
  127. >some of the doors are a bit cramped, but you still manage to make it back up to the surface
  128. >Twilight was still behind you the whole time, albeit silent
  129. >well, until now
  130. >"Either way, there's not much that can be done now. We still need to catch the train back tomorrow, and you can't do that as you are now."
  131. "YOU need to catch the train back. I'm not going back with you."
  132. >"Then when are you going back?"
  133. "Who says I am? I know that if I go back I'm just going to have to go deal with you, and I'm certainly in no mental state to do that."
  134. >"Then where are you going to go? You can't exactly stay out here, it's dangerous and you can't go back eventually without revealing that you're a human."
  135. "I'm capable enough on my own, I can survive without you like I was doing before you tore me out of my life to be treated like a child or a zoo animal here!"
  136. >that seems to be the blow that breaks Twilight
  137. >"Fine. Stay here, I'll go find you in a week when you're either begging to come back or dead. Then you can apologize."
  138. >Twilight leaves and you flip her off as she walks away
  139. >after she's pretty much out of your sight, you turn around and start walking in the exact opposite direction
  140. >in your isolation, you begin thinking
  141. >had you been too harsh?
  142. >maybe
  143. >had you been particularly rational?
  144. >maybe not
  145. >does it matter now?
  146. >lol nope
  147. >you're a stubborn bastard, you're going to survive and flip Twilight off again when she expects you to beg for her to take you back
  148. >now, all you need to do is remember all those guides you saw on /k/ and /out/
  149. >fuck, you can't remember them
  150. >you may be screwed
  151. >also, it's getting pretty cold
  152. >night would tend to that
  153. >shit, what did you get yourself into?
  154. >also, you're pretty thirsty
  155. >where was that massive stream from the other day?
  157. TIMESKIP!
  159. >you're poked awake from your third day out in the middle of nowhere in your small camp
  160. >you managed to remember more of those guides than you thought, enough to make it this far
  161. >when you open your eyes and inspect your visitor, you see that it's a changeling
  162. "Who are you and where did you come from?"
  163. >your visitor steps back in surprise after seeing that you're actually alive
  164. >"...Anonymous? What happened to you?"
  165. >that voice is familiar
  166. >is that Spinneret?
  167. "Nothing happened. This is what I normally look like, Twilight just hid it behind a transformation spell. Now, who are you?"
  168. >"I-it's... It's me, Spinneret."
  169. >confirmed
  170. >she continues after stating this
  171. >"We noticed that you hadn't come with us when we evacuated, what happened back at the old hive?"
  172. >you tell her the story from your perspective and end it at the point where you walked off into the badlands and away from Twilight
  173. >after hearing that, you see her eyes start to water
  174. >"At least she kept her dignity until the end..."
  175. >after wiping her eyes and taking a deep breath, Spinneret makes you an offer
  176. >"Would you like me to bring you to the new hive? We've managed to reorganize there without a queen, and we could use all the help we can get."
  177. >you accept the offer and follow her back to the new hive
  179. TIMESKIP!
  181. >it's been a few years
  182. >Queen Emerald took to her role well, even if it took some convincing from other changelings to get her to that point
  183. >even so, your friendship stuck
  184. >it survived one dramatic reveal, there's no reason why it couldn't survive another
  185. >after she fully grew into her role, she immediately chose you as her first mate
  186. >she also never forgot what happened to Chrysalis
  187. >as it turns out, changelings hybridized with human DNA are incredibly resilient and smart
  188. >they usually require a good reason to do orders that they don't like, but that doesn't happen often enough to make issues and they're otherwise just as loyal
  189. >Queen Emerald is hoping to use this as a way to get revenge for what happened, but you keep talking her out of it
  190. >it's bad enough that this had to happen to begin with, but you're not going to let things escalate
  191. >you're a firm believer in 'the best revenge is a life well-lived' and you're pretty good at keeping Emerald convinced of that
  192. >you still wonder how things would've played out if you had managed to stop Twilight all those years ago, but it's too late for that
  193. >far too late
  195. End of Alt
  197. > hit!
  198. >Twilight is knocked away from Chrysalis and you manage to easily overpower her
  199. >standing up with her held firmly against your chest so she can't do anything, you feel Twilight lose concentration and completely crop the spell she was preparing
  200. "Twilight, stop! She's not a threat anymore, so now you don't have to do anything except to listen to me!"
  201. [p]>"... Anonymous? While I'm glad you're okay, I told you that I would listen after. Now, put me down!"[/p]
  202. >she begins struggling, but she's nowhere near as strong as you and can't focus her magic well enough to get out of your grip
  203. "If it's an issue of my mind being in question, then do that thing that you saw Celestia do with me on Saturday. If not, then at least hear me out before anything else happens. If you don't like it, then I'll leave with you peacefully. Just don't kill Chrysalis!"
  204. [p]>"Put me down and I'll try to replicate the spell. I promise."[/p]
  205. "Okay. If you try anything, then prepare to be bodyslammed."
  206. >you set Twilight down and she turns to face you, closing her eyes in the process
  207. >her horn lights up again, but this time it's not in a malevolent way
  208. >you keep your mind as open and calm as possible as she begins to filter through it, observing your intentions
  209. >after she finishes, she opens her eyes and gets a very surprised expression
  210. >she opens her mouth as if to say something, but nothing comes out as she looks up at you
  211. "Now do you believe me?"
  212. [p]>"... Yes. I'm sorry, I should've considered this as a possibility."[/p]
  213. >she turns towards Chrysalis and walks over with a new expression of shame
  214. >resting a hoof on her shoulder, Twilight uses another spell to heal her wounds
  215. >after Chrysalis stands back up under her own power, Twilight steps back
  216. [p]>"I'm deeply sorry for not considering this, I hope I haven't ruined everything with my display."[/p]
  217. >"It's no problem, I assumed something like this would happen anyway. I'm just thankful that none of my children were harmed this time."
  218. >they both turn towards you now, and Twilight speaks up
  219. [p]>"I think I'm willing to give this idea a shot. Now what do we do?"[/p]
  220. >fantastic!
  221. >your idea gets just that much more merit!
  222. "Now? Now, we bring it up with Celestia."
  223. >Twilight nods, thinking along the same lines you are
  224. >Chrysalis, however, looks a bit concerned
  225. >"You don't seriously expect me to just walk in to CELESTIA'S CASTLE when I can barely even disguise right now, do you?"
  226. >can changelings not disguise whenever they want?
  227. "Why can't you disguise?"
  228. >"I just expended all of my accumulated magic, I have nothing to draw on while keeping the disguise stable in case of an emergency."
  229. >Twilight starts thinking after hearing this, but comes to an answer within seconds
  230. [p]>"I'm pretty sure that I can take care of anything needed in a situation like that. Well, on the condition that you don't try anything while you're there."[/p]
  231. >"I can't try anything even if I wanted to. The last of my magic went into turning Anonymous human again, and I'm not going to get any more for the foreseeable future."
  232. "Alright, now that we've gotten all that out of the way, can I go back to being a filly? I feel a breeze that I'm not supposed to feel."
  233. >they both turn towards you as you cover what you need to
  234. [p]>"Sure, just give me a sec-"[/p]
  235. >"Hold on, Twilight, I'd like a look at him first."
  236. >Chrysalis starts walking towards you as Twilight starts looking between her and you in worry
  237. [p]>"Are you sure that's the best idea? Humans aren't to be taken lightly, as Anon just demonstrated."[/p]
  238. >she's probably just trying to make Chrysalis stop
  239. >she probably won't, though
  240. >"Don't worry, I trust him and I'm sure at this point he trusts me too."
  241. >as you thought
  242. >oh well, you ARE the alien in the room, after all
  243. >what's one more poking and prodding to throw on the pile?
  244. [p]>"If you insist, then I must at least ask that you not move his hands. Princess Celestia did that, and Anon wasn't happy about it, even for the brief moment that that was."[/p]
  245. >okay Twilight, just outright tell her
  246. >now she's going to wonder what you're hiding and try to look anyway
  247. >is everypony going to know what your junk looks like by the time you're home?
  248. >well, Chrysalis made it to you
  249. >time to zone out!
  250. >could Twilight build you a magic-powered 40K dreadnought for your filly body?
  251. >probably
  252. >would she?
  253. >probably not
  254. >as fun as it would be to walk around in a giant green metal death machine, something tells you that Twilight would have some major problems with it
  255. >especially if it had flamers and missile launchers like all the cool ones do
  256. >also, you wouldn't even be able to use it since you're not dead
  257. >that sucks
  258. >well, you'd ask for a Titan, but there's even less chance of her making one of those for you
  259. >don't those need multiple drivers, too?
  260. >eh, you forgot
  261. >point is, Twilight probably wouldn't give you either of those, much less let you keep either of them
  262. >you're going to have to make it yourself if you want one, then
  263. >is it over?
  264. >time to zone back in and check
  265. >it seems like it, Chrysalis has stopped touching you and seems to be staring-
  266. >WAIT
  268. >fuck, they fell to your sides when you zoned out!
  269. >no wonder she's staring...
  270. >oh, and Twilight seems to be facing a completely different direction
  271. >this wasn't the best time to zone out, was it?
  272. >you cover yourself back up, causing Chrysalis to look up at you with an expectant look
  273. "Sorry, I zoned out a bit too far."
  274. >"It's alright, I saw everything that I needed to and confirmed that the backup plan could work."
  275. >Twilight finally turns around at hearing this, bearing a suspicious look
  276. [p]>"Backup plan? Anonymous, would you mind telling me about that?"[/p]
  277. "Sure, just change me back first. It's getting pretty cold and I no longer have fur or a shirt."
  278. >Twilight walks towards you and fires up the spell
  279. >as promised, you start explaining as soon as you can no longer feel air hitting your junk
  280. "The backup plan was for me to provide the necessary genetic material to help Chrysalis continue her hive's existence should my plan not work, I'm sure you can guess how I would do that."
  281. >Twilight's face changes to a neutral expression and she blushes
  282. [p]>"No comment."[/p]
  283. >this leaves the three of you standing in an awkward triangle
  284. "So, should we organize the logistics of all this? Like, when we're doing this? Chrysalis, I assume you want to be there to represent your hive?"
  285. [p]>"I know how Anon and I are getting there and I'm sure any day can work for us."[/p]
  286. >"I'm going to need a few days to repair damage around here before I can go, but after that I'm also open at any time. It'll also take me a day to get to your castle... Maybe we can leave Saturday?"
  287. [p]>"So that means we would end up getting to Canterlot Saturday night, and then we would talk to Celestia on Sunday. That should work."[/p]
  288. >"Then it's settled. I'll see you two on Friday, we leave Saturday, and we hold negotiations on Sunday. Now, if you two will excuse me, I need to go get the others so they can come back. I assume you have somewhere you're staying?"
  289. [p]>"Yes, and if it's not too much trouble, I'd like to bring Anon with me."[/p]
  290. >Chrysalis looks at you, prompting Twilight to do the same
  291. "Sure, I guess?"
  292. >you kinda shrug as you get up and move to Twilight's side
  293. >as you two start to leave, you turn around towards Chrysalis and wave
  294. >she smiles and waves back before heading to a different exit of the hive
  295. >you and Twilight manage to navigate your way back to the surface fairly quickly and she teleports you two as soon as you're both topside
  296. >when the purple glare stops assaulting your retinas, you see that you two are now in a hotel room
  297. >it's nothing special, but you can tell that this is in some border town by the decoration
  298. >it's kinda western looking but not really, you'd describe it further but you lack the adjectives
  299. >there's also a bed, a table, some chairs, and a bathroom
  300. >cool
  301. >you see Twilight rearranging some things in her bag nearby
  302. "Hey, Twi?"
  303. [p]>"Hm?"[/p]
  304. "Thanks for finally listening to me and cooperating there, I'm glad that you two are willing to put your differences aside for my idea."
  305. >Twilight stops rearranging her stuff, smirks, and faces you
  306. [p]>"Oh, I still trust her as much as a dragon trusts a griffon near its hoard; I just happen to trust you more than I don't trust her."[/p]
  307. >oh
  308. >well then
  309. [p]>"Don't worry, I'm still going to help you. I won't be letting Chrysalis out of my sight for as long as we're there, though. She says she can't do anything, but knowing her she can still do [i]something[/i]."[/p]
  310. "As long as you're not going to actively sabotage it, I think everyone can deal with that."
  311. [p]>"Sabotage, that's a good idea!"[/p]
  312. >Twilight starts giggling to herself while you give her the least amused face you can
  313. [p]>"I was kidding, jeez!"[/p]
  314. "This is a serious matter, Twilight. I worked hard to get this to happen. I had to convince you, Luna, AND Chrysalis."
  315. [p]>"Okay, I'm sorry."[/p]
  316. "Thank you! On an unrelated note, I hope you didn't need to use the bathroom because I haven't showered since Saturday and... What day is it now?"
  317. [p]>"Tuesday, there's a good amount of time between now and the meeting. Go ahead and shower though, I can smell you from here."[/p]
  318. >so that's exactly what you do
  319. >you clean yourself off and take care of any other hygiene matters you can think of before being reminded about your shirt
  320. >that sucks
  321. >it was your only shirt, too!
  322. >now what are you going to do if it gets cold?
  323. >you can't wear your pants since your legs aren't built the same anymore, and you can't wear your socks since you only have two of them
  324. >also, you're not sure if you could even wear socks in public
  325. >too lewd
  326. >you may need to ask for help again
  327. >you finish drying yourself off and walk back out to see Twilight reading a book in a chair
  328. >typical nerd
  329. "Hey uh, can I ask for a favor?"
  330. >she looks up from it at you
  331. "My shirt got destroyed in the hive earlier. Can you help me get a new one?"
  332. [p]>"I suppose I could, Rarity still owes me from that one time anyway. Same color?"[/p]
  333. "Yeah, thanks a bunch!"
  334. [p]>"No problem."[/p]
  335. >Twilight returns her attention to her book and you realize that you're pretty hungry
  336. >you're also really tired
  337. >which comes first?
  338. >you don't see any food around you, but you do see a bed
  339. >sleep it is!
  340. >you hop in and get comfy, reaching dreamland soon afterwards
  341. >. . .
  342. >your dreamscape is a boring one
  343. >to say that not much is going on in it would be an understatement
  344. >it's pretty much just a blank expanse of white
  345. >maybe your mind's trying to process the day's events and needs a break?
  346. >that's possible
  347. >keeping that in mind, you decide to only summon one of those coin-operated rides that you see outside stores back home
  348. >it's not one that needs coins though, that would just take more effort to make work
  349. >it's shaped like a rocket and has red and yellow paint on it
  350. >there's also a seat large enough for you in it
  351. >you hop in as it starts up and lean back into a comfortable position, letting your unconscious mind do what it needs to
  352. >your eyes drift closed a few times for some reason, and on the last one you see a familiar blue face staring down at you
  353. >"Good evening Anonymous. I can't help but notice this place is quite dreary, is everything alright?"
  354. "I'm fine, my day's just been a long one."
  355. >you lean forward to see that Luna's perched herself on the front of the ride
  356. >that's one way to do it
  357. >"Would it help if you told me some of it?"
  358. >you know, it probably would
  359. >this isn't really the best setting to go into psychoanalysis, though
  360. >what with you two both riding a toy rocket
  361. >so, you get out and summon a chair and one of those psychologist couches into this void
  362. >a couple more splashes of color, what with the chair being a shade of dark green with deep brown wooden features and the couch being a deep purple
  363. >you hop on the couch and Luna takes the chair without a word
  364. >she probably gets what you're doing, after all
  365. >time to start talking!
  366. "Well, turns out your warning wasn't unnecessary. Twilight found the hive today and she nearly ruined everything. Luckily, Chrysalis managed to get all the other changelings evacuated before she showed up, so there were no casualties. Twilight pretty much just stormed through the entire hive and immediately picked a fight with Chrysalis because she thought I had turned traitor or was mind controlled, or something."
  367. >"You know, from a technical standpoint, you had all the signs of Stockhoof Syndrome. She had a right to be concerned, not that I'm defending her."
  368. >so Stockholm Syndrome is a thing here, too
  369. >you've thought it before and you'll think it again; these ponies never cease to amaze you
  370. "Luckily, I managed to tackle her before she actually killed Chrysalis at the end of the fight that they had and forced her to check my intentions with a spell. After that, she was cooperative and now everything's going well for my part of the plan. How about on your end?"
  371. >your abrupt change to that question seems to catch Luna off-guard, so it takes her a second to reply
  372. >"There hasn't been much progress, I don't think Celestia will her any more of it from me without some refutations to her main issues with it, and I have none so far."
  373. >rip
  374. >that'll probably happen to you, come Sunday
  375. >better start preparing your arguments
  376. "What are her issues?"
  377. >"She doesn't think the public will approve of it."
  378. >oh
  379. >you don't have anything on that
  380. >wait, you're getting an idea!
  381. >but is it a good one?
  382. >only one way to find out
  383. "Does the public necessarily have to know, though?"
  384. >Luna gives you a surprised and disappointed look for a few seconds before she replies
  385. >"Of course they have to know, if there's anything that my sister and I have learned from ruling for this long is that transparency keeps the public happy by keeping them in the minds of the rulers. If we throw that out the window, then what's next? What would even give you an idea like that to begin with?"
  386. >shut down instantly
  387. >well, that sucks
  388. >"No, seriously. What gave you that idea, what is the world of humans like to make that even a thought in your mind?"
  389. "To be honest, our governments back home are about as transparent as mud. They occasionally let us in on some big stuff but give us sparing details, they tell us about all the small stuff in exasperating detail, and make it very hard to follow for an average person. That is bad enough, but there's also the problem of governmental infighting, factions, and general disarray that would make Discord himself confused to no end, and this takes place from the global level all the way down to cities."
  390. >Luna's look of surprise and disappointment ends up shifting to pity
  391. >"I don't understand how you could live under that. It seems like that sort of government would create a situation where it would do nothing but grab for power and screw over the country in the process."
  392. "Big surprise, that's exactly what it does! However, on the bright side, my country has at least set up a set of things that the populace is allowed to have that the government isn't allowed to get rid of. Unfortunately, they're trying to chip away at that, but we're still holding on to it."
  393. >"I feel sorry for you."
  394. "Don't; it's a clusterfuck of a world, but it's my clusterfuck of a world and I care a lot about it."
  395. >you two then sit in silence for a while, you thinking about home and what's going on there and Luna trying to wrap her mind around exactly how Earth politics works
  396. >this silence lasts for the remainder of the dream, nothing else significant being said or done
  397. >. . .
  398. >you wake up to see Twilight sitting at the table in the room with both chairs pulled up to it
  399. >you also see an abundance of food on that table!
  400. >fuck yeah, you're hungry!
  401. >"Good morning Anon, I hope you slept well. I assumed that you would be hungry when you woke up and from the way you're looking at what I got for you, I was right."
  402. >that's all yours?
  403. >this
  404. >is
  405. >amazing!
  406. >you pretty much jump out of the bed and bolt to the unoccupied chair and start eating
  407. >the void in your stomach started protesting as soon as you saw all of it, but it shut up pretty quickly when it started getting filled to capacity
  408. >in between your third croissant and your second apple, you decide it's a good time to thank her for this
  409. "Thanks, Twi. Also, when are we leaving for the castle?"
  410. >"No problem, we're leaving in about a half hour. The train leaves at 8:30 and it's 7:45 right now."
  411. >as you finish scarfing down the last of the food at your stomach's protest, you decide to ask what you would assume is a stupid question
  412. "Am I going back to school for the rest of the week too?"
  413. >"I'm surprised you had to ask. You are, and you're also going to do all the work you missed on the train."
  414. >wait, makeup work?
  415. >isn't that something that students on vacation or something have to do?
  416. "I'm the one who gets kidnapped, and I'm also the one who gets punished for it. In what world is that fair?"
  417. >"This one?"
  418. >you sigh and roll your eyes
  419. >"Why is this even a problem for you? You've already proved yourself to be very smart; this should be easy for you!"
  420. "It's a matter of principle! If I already know all this, then why do I need to do all this and jump through all these hoops just to relearn it?"
  421. >"This is the same discussion we had on the day you got here and the same reason still applies. You're disguised as a filly. Fillies go to school. If they miss a significant amount of school for whatever reason, then they have to make it up. As a final thought, you're severely mistaken if you think that I'll tell Cheerilee that you got kidnapped by changelings just to get you out of a few assignments that will take you less than 20 minutes to do."
  422. >you're being forced into this again, but you're not going down without a challenge
  423. "You said less than 20 minutes?"
  424. >"Yeah, why?"
  425. "I bet that it will take more than 20 minutes to do. You get another favor if you're right, and I get 100 bits to do whatever I want with if I'm right. Deal?"
  426. >"You're just going to wait it out so it takes longer. No deal."
  427. "Okay, you can watch me and make sure that I spend all the time working. Does that make it better?"
  428. >"If I think you're not working, then I can stop the timer until you start again."
  429. "No, because then you're going to stop the timer whenever you feel like!"
  430. >"Alright, then this has accomplished nothing. What would you even do with 100 bits, anyway?"
  431. "I don't know, I didn't get that far."
  432. >"Oh well. It's about time for us to leave, anyway."
  433. >you and Twilight leave the room with everything that was brought and head for the train station
  434. >the town you're in mirors the decoration of the hotel room well
  435. >it's all got the same pseudo-western feel about it, almost like Appleoosa but less stereotypical
  436. >there's not much you don't like about it, though
  437. >it kind of reminds you of some places you visited on family vacations back home
  438. >there's not much you get to specifically look at on the way though, since Twilight just teleported you two straight to the station
  439. >oh well
  440. >she gives you your ticket and you both board the train without issue, claiming your seats when you get to them
  441. >after you both are seated, she pulls some papers and a pencil out of her bag and gives them to you
  442. >"Here's everything, I promise it won't take long if you just do it."
  443. "Fine, but I hope you brought extra paper. I need to write some more stuff down and I'm pretty sure the others will want to know about everything that just happened."
  444. >"I don't have any more with me, sorry. I don't even know why you're so bent on telling all this to the others if they won't even believe you..."
  445. >Twilight pulls out that book she brought and starts reading it again, leaving you to do your homework
  446. >you sigh as you look over the piece of paper at the top of the admittedly small pile
  447. >math
  448. >your favorite...
  449. >at least it's still easy enough
  450. >find the circumference of a couple of circles, find the area of a right triangle, etc.
  451. >after about a minute of actual work and only a few actual thoughts relating to the paper in front of you, it's completed
  452. >you look at the next paper on the pile and see what torture you need to endure again
  453. >oh, it's science
  454. >geology to be precise
  455. >rocks aren't your strong suit, but it's grade school science
  456. >how bad could it be?
  457. >igneous=volcanoes, sedimentary=sediment, metamorphic=temperature+pressure
  458. >done
  459. >you don't have to grow up on a rock farm to know this stuff
  460. >it's a shame that you didn't have anything more interesting to do in this science class, you're really not a fan of rocks
  461. >oh well, what's next?
  462. >writing
  463. >didn't you just do two pages of that already?
  464. >you sigh again as you look at what Cheerilee expects you to do
  465. >'write a paragraph about your weekend'
  466. >Twilight already said you're not allowed to say anything about what happened
  467. >but then what do?
  468. "Hey, Twilight?"
  469. >she looks up from her book at you
  470. >"What do you need?"
  471. "What do I do for this? You already said that I can't say anything about what's happened this week but this assignment asks me to say what happened over the weekend."
  472. >"You weren't there for the entire weekend, just leave that part out."
  473. >oh, right
  474. >you write a half-assed paragraph describing the time spent with Emerald up until you both went to sleep on Saturday, then BS the rest of it
  475. >good enough
  476. >you don't think it'll really matter
  477. >Emerald's probably tied up in helping repair the hive anyway, so you're not going to have to deal with a conflicting story
  478. >you look at your work, making sure everything's spelled correctly and grammatically correct
  479. >when you're satisfied with it, you put it on the 'done' pile and look at your final paper
  480. >history
  481. >oh boy
  482. >as you look over the paper, you find yourself clueless on a good 75% of the questions and only barely confident on your answers to the other 25%
  483. "Uhh... Twilight? I need more help."
  484. >"What is it?"
  485. "This entire worksheet. I know none of it."
  486. >"Let me see it and I'll help you."
  487. >you give the paper and your pencil to Twilight and she looks over it
  488. >"All this is pretty basic, are you sure you know none of it?"
  489. "Absolutely certain. This isn't something I've learned at all, and I have no familiarity with any of the events or ponies listed."
  490. >"Wow. It's not going to help you learn any of it, but I can give you the names and places you need to know and you can review the paper to get a better idea."
  491. "Sure, that sounds like a good idea."
  492. >you feed Twilight the questions listed and she tells you what to write and how to spell it when you encounter something that's a bit confusing
  493. >after all the questions are answered, you reread them a couple of times to make sure that everything's still in your head before placing the paper on the 'done' pile
  494. >you grab all the papers and hand them back to Twilight, who places them and the pencil back in her bag
  495. >cool, you finished all your stuff!
  496. >how long has it been since you left?
  497. >let's see, the train left at 8:30 and it's currently...
  498. "What time is it?"
  499. >Twilight thinks for a bit and eventually comes to a conclusion
  500. >I'd say it's about 8:45."
  501. >shit
  502. >you've only been on this train for 15 minutes
  503. >what are you going to do to kill all this time?
  504. >...
  505. >.....
  506. >.......
  507. >well, I can't help you here
  508. >I have about as many ideas as you do, a fat, whopping zero
  509. >that's a shame
  510. >you decide that the best course of action is to ask Twilight
  511. "Any ideas on what I can do to kill time right now?"
  512. >"I'm not sure, I don't think I packed your phone for you and I don't really have anything else. Sorry."
  513. >fuck
  514. "None at all?"
  515. >"I suppose you could stare out the window like you did on the way to Canterlot, but I don't know how interesting that'll be."
  516. >it's not much, but it's something
  517. >you look out the window to your left at the landscape you're passing
  518. >it's just desert
  519. >like, not even interesting desert with rocks and stuff
  520. >just sand, sand, sand, and an occasional cactus
  521. >not any interesting cacti with arms or flowers, either
  522. >just a bunch of short, rotund plants with spines
  523. >this isn't going to work
  524. "This is boring too. What do I do instead?"
  525. >Twilight's starting to look annoyed as she looks up from her book again
  526. >"I don't know, you're old enough to figure it out yourself. Just try not to get yourself in trouble, and I'm sure it'll be fine."
  527. >looks like you're still on your own with this
  528. >can you get away with exploring the train?
  529. >you get out of your seat and start walking around the train car
  530. >it's pretty much empty
  531. >no, scratch that
  532. >it's completely empty
  533. >the only other pony in here with you is Twilight
  534. >wow
  535. >you decide to see what the other cars are like, but you reconsider once you see that the only thing connecting the train cars is a coupling
  536. >no way you're going to risk that
  537. >your luck in most things has sucked so far and you don't want to figure out what getting run over by a train feels like
  538. >out of options, you head back to your seat
  539. >when you plant yourself back on the cushion and sigh, Twilight takes notice again
  540. >"Nothing?"
  541. "Nope, at least not in this car. I'm not going to check the others because I don't want to fall out and die."
  542. >"That's a good reason. I suppose I could let you see the book I have, but I don't think you'd find it very interesting."
  543. >you look at the cover of the book to find that it has no distinctive markings
  544. "What is it?"
  545. >"It's a book about engineering, I decided to review what I know and try to learn something new after figuring out what your phone was."
  546. >engineering?
  547. "What kind?"
  548. >"Just engineering."
  549. >wow
  550. >this world really must not have that much in terms of actual engineers
  551. "JUST engineering? I can probably tell you more than that book can off the top of my head! For instance, there are many different types of engineering: Nuclear engineering, electrical engineering, bioengineering, structural engineering, computer engineering, and the list goes on."
  552. >you spend the rest of the time talking with Twilight and telling her everything she asks you about the many fine practices of engineering and what they each do
  553. >it's something that you thought was pretty cool, and she looked like she was learning a lot from it
  554. >"That's certainly a lot of information... I think it would be a valuable learning opportunity if you were to show me how it all works, would you mind?"
  555. "I don't think I can right now, at least not unless you packed a bunch of tools and spare parts in that bag of yours."
  556. >"Not now, you goof! When we get back you can show me."
  557. >ah, of course
  558. >how could you make that stupid mistake again?
  559. >oh yeah, you're an autist
  560. >it's your specialty
  561. "Right, sorry."
  562. >well, from the scene outside the window, it looks like it won't be too much longer before you get to try your hoof at doing some cool tech stuff!
  563. >you can see the massive crystal tree that is Twilight's castle looming just over the next hill, even if it's about the size of a toothpick right now
  564. >you're almost back
  565. >Not too long later, you both are back in Ponyville
  566. >The rest of the trip is fairly uninteresting, all it was was just you thinking of what you could do to demonstrate your college knowledge of engineering stuff
  567. >What could you do with your limited surroundings and lack of knowledge on magical tools?
  568. >You're not sure
  569. >Maybe it would be a good idea to start with a simple generator?
  570. >That's not too bad of an idea, all you'd need is a fuckload of copper, a magnet and something to wrap the copper around and turn the magnet inside of it all
  571. >It would also show Twilight that you at least know how to do something with your limited surroundings
  572. >Yeah, that's where you're going to start!
  573. >So you decided to build a basic generator to create some amount of electric potential
  574. >If you had a light bulb or something, you could prove that it worked
  575. >Unfortunately, you don't
  576. >No testing for you
  577. >It's a shame too, testing is always a fun part of the necessary process
  578. >So then how are you going to prove it?
  579. >That's a problem you'll solve when you get to it
  580. >You two get back to the castle after a decent walk, it's nothing compared to the walk in the badlands to find that river
  581. >That's beside the point, though
  582. >Twilight opens the door for you and announces your return to Spike
  583. >"Spike, I'm back! I found Anon too!"
  584. >You both walk inside and are greeted by a purple dragon a few seconds later
  585. [o]>"Welcome back! Twilight, I did everything you needed me to and I even touched up a few spots that were a bit dirty. Hi Anon!"[/o]
  586. "Hey Spike!"
  587. [o]>"Where were you? Also, why did it take 3 days to find you?"[/o]
  588. "Sorry man, that's classified by the order of Twilight."
  589. >"She got lost and then fillynapped. It wasn't too hard to find her; I just had to do some research."
  590. >Oh, so Twilight's doing the fast thinking again?
  591. >Well, that just blows everything you just said into irrelevancy
  592. [o]>"That sucks, I'm glad you made it back, though!"[/o]
  593. >Somebody missed you!
  594. >That's a feeling you haven't felt in a while
  595. "Thanks mate, what did I miss?"
  596. [o]>"Not much, Twilight flipped out and did more studying than usual before running off to get you. Other than that, nothing."[/o]
  597. >Cool, you didn't miss anything important
  598. >That's good
  599. >Twilight breaks into the conversation here and tries to steer it back in the direction of getting you to her lab
  600. >"Spike, why don't you start getting dinner ready? Anon and I still need to go down to the lab and make sure she's okay."
  601. [o]>"Okay, I hope you both don't mind pizza!"[/o]
  602. >With that, Spike leaves for the kitchen
  603. >Twilight also takes the lead on the way down to the lab, looking back to make sure you're following her
  604. >She leads you down the winding staircase leading to the massive doors holding the entrance to her secret room of science closed, opening it when you both are present
  605. >The massive metal doors silently slide open, revealing the massive sterile expanse behind it
  606. >Twilight's laboratory (queue Dexter's Lab theme)
  607. >All jokes aside, it's pretty cool that you get to actually do stuff here
  608. >Twilight leads you back to the section with all the parts and pieces of machinery organised in it and looks at you expectantly
  609. >"Can you do anything interesting with any of this?"
  610. "Not without tools, proper measurements, or my hands."
  611. >"If your body's an issue, I can fix that. I don't know what tools you'd need, though."
  612. "Neither do I, at least not without an idea of what I'm doing and some design to make sure I'm not about to kill myself with some mismatched wiring or something. However, I have an idea of something I can do as I am now. I need a lot of copper wire, a magnet, something circular with a hole in the middle, and a few other miscellaneous items that I'll mention when I need to."
  613. >"Then I'll go get that stuff, and you can figure out the precise measurements when you get it."
  614. >You wait where you are while Twilight gathers an assortment of items that roughly matches what you asked for
  615. >It's not what you expected, but you can work with this
  616. >About 40 meters of copper wire on a mounted spool
  617. >Half your work's already done, that's pretty cool
  618. >A bar magnet, Nice
  619. >A box to hold it all in
  620. >A cup
  621. >Alright, some decent supplies to start with
  622. >You immediately tear into the spool, searching for both ends of it
  623. >Once you locate the end on the inside and the one on the outside, you work on getting them a decent distance from the rest of the spool
  624. >This is where you encounter another problem, though
  625. >You have nothing to hold the magnet or turn it with
  626. >Shit
  627. "I'm also going to need a crank and something to hold it up with from inside the spool. Can you get that for me while I try to set the rest of it up?"
  628. >"Sure, give me a second."
  629. >Twilight turns back to the massive wall of parts while you scan it yourself, looking for some way to demonstrate what you did
  630. >Eventually, you see it
  631. >A lightbulb!
  632. >As long as it's not too different from a regular bulb, then you should be able to demonstrate your crude generator quite nicely!
  633. "Can you also grab me that lightbulb over there? That'll be useful to demonstrate it."
  634. >Twilight looks back towards you with a response
  635. >"That's a magic bulb, are you sure it'll work?"
  636. "Does it work by routing magic through a metal filament from two metal connector points?"
  637. >"Well, yes. However, I'm not sure how it will react to... whatever it is you're doing."
  638. "You answered yes, that's all that matters. Give me the bulb, please."
  639. >Twilight complies and gives you the bulb, along with a host of other parts which you can assemble into what you need, as well as a roll of what looks and feels like electrical tape
  640. >Jam this long bit into this round thing, force it both into this hole...
  641. >Shove the magnet into one end of the long bit and some lever into the other end...
  642. >Take the thing with the hole and tape it to that plate...
  643. >Take those four sticks and make the spool stand on them...
  644. >Carefully orient it all to work together...
  645. >Finally, you take the lightbulb and what's left of the electrical tape and fasten both ends of the copper spool to it
  646. >You also make sure to keep one end on the bottom of the bulb and the other on the side, otherwise it won't work
  647. >Now, time to see if your homemade frankenstein's monster of a basic hand generator works
  648. >Wrapping your hoof around the makeshift crank holding the magnet, you begin to turn it to the best of your ability
  649. >You turn your head to look at the bulb as you continue to spin the magnet faster and faster, and you begin seeing a faint glimmer of light coming from it
  650. >It's working!
  651. >You turn and face Twilight, who seems somewhat disinterested in what's going on
  652. "Turn off the lights, you'll be able to see it better!"
  653. >She magics a switch somewhere, sending the laboratory into pitch darkness
  654. >You resume your task, despite the lack of light, and as you expected, the dim glow of the bulb is now much more visible
  655. >Twilight gets closer to the point that you can see her expression in the dim light, and it's a surprised and interested one
  656. >This inspires you to push your turning ability to its limits and make the magnet spin even faster
  657. >Your efforts are awarded by the light getting even brighter
  658. >Well, at least until the force you're putting on your assembly causes it all to quite literally unravel
  659. >The entire assembly holding the magnet flies apart with the magnet hitting you in the face and the base falling to the floor and if the resulting use of expletives is anything to judge by, hitting Twilight in the leg
  660. >The spool and bulb are unharmed, at least
  661. >Twilight magics the lights back on to inspect the damages, and nothing is damaged
  662. >You give yourself a quick inspection to see if everything's alright, and it mostly seems that way
  663. >However, you can't seem to feel your nose anymore
  664. >No, wait, there it is!
  665. >It's just unimaginably full of pain!
  667. >Be Twilight
  668. >Anon just showed you a basic way to create electrical potential without using magic
  669. >It was pretty cool to watch, until he ended up breaking the whole thing
  670. >Part of it hit you, but you're pretty much fine
  671. >Anon on the other hoof, is currently laying on the floor screaming and holding his nose
  672. >You can also see some blood leaking out from between his hooves
  673. >Shit, this doesn't look good already
  674. >You need to stay calm though, otherwise this might get worse
  675. "Anon, I'm going to need you to calm down and let me see."
  676. >He quiets down and moves his hooves away, but continues whimpering just a bit
  677. >It's bad
  678. >His nose is facing a few degrees to the left and is leaking blood
  679. >Yeah, he's going to need to see a doctor
  680. >You can handle small issues, but a broken nose is beyond your abilities
  681. "Alright, I'm going to need to bring you to the hospital. It looks like you broke your nose, but it's going to be fine. I swear."
  682. >He nods weakly, letting himself be lifted gently on to your back as you teleport you both to the hospital
  683. >Not wasting any time waiting for the flash to fade from your eyes, you walk up to the front desk of the hospital
  684. "Excuse me, but Anonymous here needs medical attention."
  685. >The nurse looks up from some papers on her desk to see the extent of the damage
  686. [p]>"Alright, let me see."[/p]
  687. >You turn to the side, giving her a good view of the green filly sitting on your back
  688. >Anon's still holding his nose, but at least he's stopped screaming
  689. [p]>"Alright sweetie, I'm going to need you to let me see."[/p]
  690. >She's using a calming voice that seems to have an effect on Anonymous
  691. >With minimal persuasion, he lets her see the injured area
  692. >From your perspective at least, it looks like the bleeding's stopped
  693. >After the nurse has seen everything she needs to, she turns back to you
  694. [p]>"Do you know what happened to cause this injury?"[/p]
  695. >You can't exactly tell the truth here
  696. >Well, not the whole truth
  697. >So let's try a slight modification of it!
  698. "She made something that she showed me, and when it broke, a particularly large part of it hit her in the face."
  699. >The nurse sighs and walks towards a door nearby
  700. [p]>"Wait here, I'll get the doctor."[/p]
  701. >She leaves through the door and you bring Anon over to some chairs nearby
  702. >you set him down first before taking the chair next to him, now waiting in silence
  703. >Silence is boring, and besides
  704. >You feel kinda bad for what happened, even though it was pretty much not your fault
  705. "How are you holding up?"
  706. >He shifts in the chair a bit, trying to find a way to make himself more comfortable while being careful to not accidentally do anything to his nose in the process
  707. [o]>"I'b fide, bud id hurds breddy bad ad I cand breathe doo well."[/o]
  708. "Well, I'm glad that you're staying strong despite this."
  709. [o]>"Id's no broblem, I'b breddy resisdand to bain even for huban sdandards."[/o]
  710. >The silence returns for about a minute before the doctor comes out to call Anonymous in
  711. >"Anonymous, We're ready to see you."
  712. >You turn to him and ask him a final question
  713. "Do you want me to come in with you or can you handle it yourself?"
  714. [o]>"I thing I god id."[o]
  715. "Alright, I'll be waiting for you here."
  716. >With that, Anon follows the doctor into the depths of the hospital
  718. >Be Anonymous
  719. >That magnet broke your nose, and now you're at the hospital to get it fixed
  720. >At least this isn't the first time you've broken something
  721. >Then again, it's been a long time since middle school and breaking a finger is very different to breaking your nose
  722. >That's not even counting the fact that human medicine and pony medicine are probably different
  723. >The doctor does all the standard stuff that doctors do with patients of your age, taking your height, weight, etc.
  724. >Just as you suspected, you aren't that tall and you aren't that heavy
  725. >You're just another filly
  726. >After all that, you're finally taken back to a room where the procedure will take place
  727. [o]>"You're being remarkably brave for a filly your age, and I'm going to need you to keep doing that for just a bit longer. I'm going to get a specialist to set your nose back in place, and then the worst part will be over."[/o]
  728. >You nod, and the doctor leaves again for a short time
  729. >When he returns, he brings with him a unicorn in similar medical attire
  730. >"Hello Anonymous, I understand you have a broken nose?"
  731. "Yeah, bud I bed you can dell already."
  732. >"Yeah, I'm pretty sorry that you have to be going through this right now. If you hold still, I'll have you back to at least looking normal at the count of 3. One-"
  733. >As soon as the word leaves his mouth, you immediately feel magic around your face and a new surge of pain as your nose is brought back to the proper place on your face
  734. >You immediately start screaming again, but at least you don't have to stop to breathe now!
  735. >As soon as you quiet back down, you realize that the specialist left the room and the doctor applied a bandage to help hold it in place and keep some of the blood off you
  736. [o]>"That wasn't so bad, was it?"[/o]
  737. >It wasn't, but it still hurt like a bitch
  738. "I guess not. Does this mean I get a lollipop?"
  739. [o]>"Yes it does, the nurse will give it to you when you get back out to the waiting room."[/o]
  740. >After all the explanations about how to care for your nose and how long the healing will take, the doctor lets you head back out to Twilight
  741. >2-3 weeks is what he said, as long as you don't mess it up
  742. >After that, it's all kind of a blur because of the adrenaline wearing off
  743. >You remember the lollipop, Twilight asking some things, and getting back to the castle
  744. >Not much else, though
  745. >As soon as you get back, you immediately head for your room
  746. >You then flop down on top of your bed (being careful of your face), and begin drifting off almost immediately
  747. >. . .
  748. >Your dream environment isn't a consistent one
  749. >At first, you notice only the general environment
  750. >It seems to be a larger, more maze-like version of Twilight's castle
  751. >However, there's something else
  752. >There's a slight fog over the entire place that redshifts near the periphery of your vision
  753. >Also, the environment seems to change slightly every minute or so accompanied by a small burst of pain
  754. >You don't need very much time to figure out what's going on to cause this
  755. >You only hope that your habit of sleeping on your stomach isn't going to bite you on the ass (more like it'll bite you on the nose, though)
  756. >Also, you make a mental note to ask Twilight for some pain meds
  757. >You're not sure how to deal with the pain right now, but maybe Luna will have some ideas?
  758. >Maybe, just maybe
  759. >In the meantime, do you have any ideas yourself?
  760. >Maybe dream pain meds will work
  761. >You close your eyes and concentrate for a significantly longer time than usual since flares of pain keep breaking it up
  762. >After you're fed up with getting interrupted, you open your eyes and see what you've done
  763. >A fuzzy table sits before you, holding an equally fuzzy set of pills and a cup of water
  764. >It all flickers intermittently along with the flashes of pain, but hopefully that won't be a problem for long
  765. >You pick up the pills and water and take them together, waiting patiently for the result
  766. >You wait for a few seconds, only to find that nothing's happened
  767. >Fuck
  768. >Well, you tried
  769. >You let go of the table and the glass, letting them fade back into the warped background of your dream
  770. >Seeing nothing else to do in your current state, you sit down on a nearby chair and wait for Luna
  771. >After a few more minutes, she indeed arrives
  772. >In a flash of bright blue light, the princess of the moon enters your dream
  773. >She's immediately caught off guard by the environment though, and takes a few seconds to look around the dream before returning her attention to you
  774. >"Good evening, Anonymous, has something happened? I've only ever seen this in ponies who were hurt somehow."
  775. >Absolutely correct, something has happened
  776. "Yeah, I broke my nose today and I'm a bit worried that I fell asleep with my face in a pillow. Other than that, I'm pretty okay."
  777. >"I'm terribly sorry to hear that, how did it happen?"
  778. "Well, Twilight and I got into a conversation about engineering. She asked me to build something to demonstrate part of humanity's knowledge on the subject, and the thing that I built fell apart with a particularly heavy piece hitting me in the face."
  779. >Luna visibly winces when she hears the last sentence
  780. "I was hoping that you might be able to help me figure out a way to stop me from feeling the pain here too, is that something that we can do?"
  781. >She moves to your side and puts a hoof on your shoulder before saying anything else
  782. >"Unfortunately, I don't think any of the methods I have of dulling pain subconsciously will work on you. Your mind is too strong to be convinced that this is anything other than a dream, and so nothing that can happen here will ultimately help."
  783. >Double fuck
  784. >You sigh and rub your eyes, half hoping that the action might clear up some of the fog or the redness
  785. >No dice
  786. "Oh well, any ideas on how I can learn to ignore it faster?"
  787. >Luna sits down in another chair nearby that you can still just barely see through the fog and starts thinking
  788. >After a few seconds, she comes to an idea
  789. >"This may sound counterproductive, but try focusing directly on it. Maybe by forcing yourself to feel it at it's worst, you will notice it even less when you stop focusing?"
  790. >That sounds stupid
  791. >That sounds so stupid that it just might work
  792. >Like, on the levels of your idea to hide in the oven or the fridge back at Emerald's house
  793. >Fuck it, it's worth a shot
  794. >You close your eyes and do nothing but focus on your nose, feeling the waves of pain as they come and trying to brace your mind against it
  795. >You keep doing this for as long as you can, but it's not exactly the easiest of things to keep your focus on
  796. >It's like staring at the sun, if that makes any sense at all
  797. >Regardless, you instantly notice what seems to be an improvement in your perception of the environment and the apparent red tint of everything
  798. >You can now see the entirety of the room you're in, for one
  799. >It looks like an expanded version of your own room
  800. >Luna seems to notice this as well, and looks around to see details that were previously obscured
  801. >You also don't feel it nearly as much whenever pain comes
  802. "Hey, it worked! Thanks for the idea, now I think I can actually do other stuff here!"
  803. >"It's no problem, now I know a way to help others like you too!"
  804. >Now all that's left for you to do is to test that you actually can use your dream powers
  805. >You close your eyes and focus on summoning a table
  806. >Nothing too complex, just a wooden table
  807. >When you open your eyes, you see the table before you
  808. >There's not as much detail as you would've hoped, but it's a lot better than that other table that kept trying to fade out of existence
  809. >Cool, everything works again!
  810. "Alright, now that I've field-tested everything I need to, would you like to do something more fun than help me get over the pain of a broken nose?"
  811. >You stand up and offer your hand to Luna, which she accepts and stands up too
  812. >"That sounds wonderful!"
  813. >You two spend the rest of the dream doing actually fun stuff and exploring the entire building, facing only a couple of minor issues when you need to reset your tolerance of the pain to workable levels
  814. >. . .
  815. >You wake up to find that you had been sleeping face-down
  816. >On the bright side, you didn't have your face directly into the pillow and instead had your chin resting on it
  817. >also, the pain seems to have carried over from the dream in the form of a dull, throbbing ache
  818. >At least this is more manageable than what you were dealing with in your dream
  819. >Time to go find Twilight and see what she can do for you right now, then
  820. >Wait, what time even is it?
  821. >You weren't woken up by your alarm, even though you can see your phone next to you on your bedside table
  822. >You quickly check to see that you woke up a few minutes early
  823. >Cool, you've never done that back home!
  824. >All things aside, you first wait for your alarm to go off before going to find Twilight
  825. >After some searching, you find her in her room
  826. >Not wanting to disturb her with whatever she's doing at her desk, you stand in the doorway and ask your question
  827. "Hey, Twilight? Do you know where I could find any pain meds?"
  828. >She looks up from her papers and towards you
  829. >"Does it really hurt that bad?"
  830. "Well, not right now. It was pretty distracting when I was sleeping, though."
  831. >"Alright, then I'll go get some for you while you're at school. Also, remember to not tell anypony about what happened while you weren't here. I can't stress enough about that, foals don't need to be paranoid about their friends being changelings."
  832. "Got it. Any other important announcements while I'm here?"
  833. >"Not that I can think of."
  834. "Alright, I'll see you after school then."
  835. >Twilight returns to her work and you go off to do your morning routine with some minor adjustments to account for your new injury and soon enough, you're ready for school
  836. >When you go down to the kitchen to get some food before you leave, you find some pizza left over
  837. >Oh yeah, Spike said something about making pizza yesterday
  838. >There are a few pieces left for you which you gladly take and eat, seeing as how the last food you had was your breakfast yesterday
  839. >After you finish off the pizza and steal a carrot for later snacking, you go off to grab your stuff
  840. >You head back up to your room and get your bag, checking to make sure that the work you did on the train yesterday is in there
  841. >It is, that's good
  842. >You slip your bag on and put your phone in there with everything else, and make your way to school
  843. >When you step outside, you see a few flowers blooming
  844. >You bend down and try to smell them, but you find that you can't
  845. >All you can smell is just a slight bit of iron from the dried blood still in your nose
  846. >At least your bandage is a clean one, making the iron smell much less overpowering
  847. >Slightly more disappointed than you were before, you continue off to school to get on with a day that's probably going to be much more boring than the last few days
  848. >You make it to the school house not too long before the bell rings, and you find your usual seat to be unoccupied
  849. >Good, you won't have to worry about those seated near you being fags or something
  850. >Not that you'd be able to tell though, seeing as how everypony's staring at you
  851. >What, can't a filly go missing for 3 days and come back with a broken nose without everyone getting in his business?
  852. >Apparently not
  853. >You're not used to being stared at, and you have no way to get the collective eyes of about 20 different 12-year-olds off of you consistently
  854. >This puts you in a predicament
  855. >Not seeing many other options, you decide to just shut down externally
  856. >Filly.exe is no longer needed at this time, you'll reopen the program when something important is coming
  857. >As such, you don't even notice Cheerilee starting class by welcoming you back
  858. >She follows up by asking how you are, but since you don't reply, she eventually just moves on to the lesson
  859. >About halfway through math is when you decide to finally pick your head back up, thinking that the worst of it was over
  860. >It doesn't stay up for very long though, this particular lesson is particularly boring
  861. >Graphs, mostly simple ones at that
  862. >Oh well, you don't necessarily need to stay awake here
  863. >You try to drift off to sleep, but you're not able to for reasons you don't know
  864. >Maybe it's because you aren't tired?
  865. >That's probably it, actually
  866. >Rip
  867. >You instead decide to zone out and force your mind elsewhere
  868. >How long will it be until your nose is fixed?
  869. >Maybe it would fix itself if you underwent another transformation spell?
  870. >Is that even how it works?
  871. >Magic is not your strong point
  872. >Wait, if the transformation spell won't work and you'll just have to wait the 2-3 weeks for it to heal, then what happens if you accelerate time?
  873. >No, that's another bad idea
  874. >Your perception of the world around you would be the only thing to change, it would still be 2-3 weeks to you
  875. >Well, at least your brain is still working in some way
  876. >It would be something to ask Twilight about, at the very least
  877. >Maybe she could actually give you some answers about this, too
  878. >Twilight is probably the best source of all this information you have, you might as well use it
  879. >You can't do that now, but you can definitely do it when you get back
  880. >Eventually, the bell for recess rings and you join the crowd of foals all going outside for some fresh air
  881. >You're drawn over to your bench, and a flash of sadness comes over you as you remember that Emerald isn't here with you to enjoy the view
  882. >This sadness is short lived as you remember that she has much more important things to be doing right now
  883. >So you sit on the bench in some corner of the playground, observing the others playing over towards the center and all the actual play equipment
  884. >Also, nopony's bothering you about your face
  885. >That's nice, you never were an attention whore
  886. >Enjoying the relative silence and the warm sun on your face, you lean back into a more human-esque position with your back against the back of the bench and close your eyes
  887. >You're not expecting to fall asleep, just trying to catch a mental breath
  888. >You've had an interesting few days pass, maybe something boring will be a nice change of pace
  889. >This relaxation is short-lived as you hear a particularly obnoxious set of three come near you
  890. >You open one eye a bit to see that it is indeed the crusaders
  891. >They're the worst crusaders you've ever met, they can't even retake Jerusalem OR Constantinople!
  892. >You aren't able to stop yourself from groaning as they get closer and you begin to hear snippets of their conversation
  893. >It seems to be something of good intention, but didn't your relative unresponsiveness do enough last time to make them lose interest in you?
  894. >Apparently not, to your disappointment
  895. >You open both of your eyes to see that they've stopped a distance away from you and seem to be deciding on who should actually go up and talk to you
  896. >You can tell that they're talking about you because every once in a while one of them will look over at you before saying something else
  897. "If you've got something to say, then say it. Recess doesn't last forever, and I imagine Cheerilee isn't going to appreciate interruptions in class."
  898. >All three of them look over as you say this and end up going into a game of rock-paper-scissors to decide who's going over
  899. >Wow, you must have done something impressive to make them this nervous to talk to you
  900. >Oh right, you made Diamond Tiara piss herself that one time
  901. >That would do it
  902. >The game ends with Scootaloo losing, and she's the one who goes over to talk to you
  903. >She stops a few feet in front of you and looks like she's trying to figure out exactly what to say
  904. >This is going to take the rest of recess if you don't give her some help
  905. "Good morning, Scootaloo. Are you here to say something on behalf of your friends?"
  906. >You also drop the look of slight annoyance, hoping that will help her out
  907. [o]>"Yeah, uh... I don't know if you know this, but my friends' sisters are friends of Twilight, and they told us about what happened, and how you were gone for the past few days. We just wanted to know if there was anything we could do to help you."[/o]
  908. >How thoughtful!
  909. "It's fine, I'm back and okay for the most part; I appreciate the concern, though."
  910. >This seems to put her more at ease, and Scootaloo visibly brightens from her previous look of anxiety
  911. [o]>"Okay. Do you mind if I ask what happened to your nose, then?"[/o]
  912. "I did something that quite literally blew up in my face, funnily enough."
  913. >It's at this point that the bell rings
  914. >Scootaloo turns back towards her friends and you get off the bench
  915. [o]>"Well, I guess we'll see you around!"[/o]
  916. "Probably."
  917. >After that final exchange, you both head back in with the crowd of others also trying to get inside
  918. >The learning resumes and the next subject is science
  919. >Not imagining today's lesson to be something interesting, you pull out your phone and start playing a game
  920. >This holds your attention until the end of the lesson, upon which history starts
  921. >It's stuff that you should be paying attention to, but you really can't stop your mind from wandering again
  922. >"King Charlemane did..."
  923. >How was there a Holy Roman Empire when Jesus never existed here?
  924. >"In response, this..."
  925. >Wow, any Earth ruler would've been shafted for doing something like that
  926. >"As a result, a war..."
  927. >Medieval wars aren't interesting, get on with the tanks and machine guns!
  928. >You still manage to get a basic idea of everything that you need to know, but the commentary you gave in your head was much more interesting
  929. >You also end up checking your bag to see if you have anything for lunch
  930. >You've already forgotten if you brought food, and you don't want to skip lunch
  931. >Your eating habits are fucked enough as it is ever since Twilight came to 'rescue' you from Chrysalis
  932. >When you look inside the bag, you noticed that you did pack yourself something
  933. >A whole, raw carrot
  934. >Not the worst thing you've ever eaten, but you're still just a bit disappointed
  935. >Could you have packed something a bit better?
  936. >Oh well
  937. >Hey, you haven't turned in those papers yet, either
  938. >You need to do that at some point
  939. >Probably at lunch or something
  940. >Yeah, that's a good idea
  941. >The lesson ends and the lunch bell rings, and you grab your papers to bring them up to Cheerilee
  942. "Here's the stuff Twilight had me do."
  943. >Cheerilee looks up from the other papers on her desk at you and the papers you're holding
  944. >"Thank you, and I also have a question."
  945. "Go ahead."
  946. >"Do you know where Emerald is? You were the only one who was that close to her and she hasn't showed up this week."
  947. "She had to go home and deal with some family stuff. I'm not sure when she'll be back, but I know she's fine."
  948. >"I hope it's nothing too bad."
  949. "Don't worry, she's got it under control. Anyway, I've got a raw carrot with my name on it, and I'm pretty hungry."
  950. >"Alright, go eat your lunch and I'll have this graded by the end of the day."
  951. >That's exactly what you do, too
  952. >You head over to your bench with your carrot and eat it
  953. >It's not too bad, either
  954. >Note to self, a raw carrot is a suitable snack/meal
  955. >Your lunch goes relatively uninterrupted, too
  956. >It's the relaxing break you wanted
  957. >Well, until the bell rings to go back inside
  958. >Today's writing assignment is about what you want to do when you grow up
  959. >You want to be an engineer, but that's not exactly an option here
  960. >Option number 2 it is, then!
  961. >What is option 2?
  962. >Fuck
  963. >Well, let's see if you can't pull this out of your ass too
  964. >A few minutes of craptastic writing later, you hand in your assignment and get back to writing your experiences here
  965. >It's been so long, where did you even leave off?
  966. >You look in your bag at the stack of papers detailing your adventures to find that you left off at monday morning of last week
  967. >You thought you were behind before...
  968. >Not wasting time, you start bulleting everything and get through events much faster while still keeping the general idea of what happened
  969. >This tactic brings you up to meeting Emerald before the bell rings and others start piling out
  970. >You pack up your own stuff, collect your graded assignments from Ms. Cheerilee and go home
  971. >Your journey back to the castle isn't eventful
  972. >Actually, you did see a dog
  973. >That might not count as eventful, but it's the first dog you've seen since you got here
  974. >How did ponies even domesticate dogs and cats?
  975. >The only reason humans had them around was because they fed off of the discarded bits humans didn't eat
  976. >What happened to bring them to ponykind's side?
  977. >Another question to ask Twilight, then
  978. >Just gonna throw that on the pile...
  979. >How big is this pile, anyway?
  980. >Are there any questions you meant to ask but forgot about?
  981. >Possibly, but it's not like you can remember them to ask her
  982. >Well, now that you're here, it may just be a good time to ask everything on your mind
  983. >You open the door and announce your return
  984. "Twilight, I'm back and I have a few questions to ask while I remember them!"
  985. >However, the only thing you hear in response is Spike calling down from somewhere
  986. [o]>"Twilight's still out, sorry! I might be able to help answer your questions, though!"[/o]
  987. >Can he help?
  988. >Well, he might be able to input about the question of 'how did dogs happen', but probably not for anything else
  989. "It's mostly magic stuff and hard science, can you answer that?!"
  990. >There's a pause before you get your answer
  991. [o]>"Yeah, I can't help with that! I'm in the library, want to continue the conversation there so we aren't shouting across the castle?!"[/o]
  992. "Sure, just give me a second to put away my stuff!"
  993. >You go up to your room to put away your stuff, stopping momentarily to say hi to your Aryanne and Hitler plushes
  994. >You get no response from either of them, but you've never expected one before and you aren't going to start now
  995. >After a little while longer, you find Spike right where he said he was and occupying a chair
  996. "I'm here, now what?"
  997. [o]>"Uh... I don't actually know. Was there anything left to say?"[/o]
  998. "Not that I know of..."
  999. >A silence descends upon the room, but you break it fairly quickly
  1000. "Wanna do something to help kill time?"
  1001. [o]>"Sure, any ideas?"[/o]
  1002. >Not really
  1003. >At least none that you really think he'd be okay with
  1004. "As a matter of fact, no. How about you?"
  1005. >Spike ponders this for a little while before coming to the same conclusion
  1006. [o]>"I don't have any either."[/o]
  1007. >Huh
  1008. >That didn't accomplish anything
  1009. >Well, all that's left is to just wait for Twilight then
  1010. >There's no reason that you can't do that here with Spike anyway, you just need to get something to entertain yourself
  1011. "Be right back, I'm gonna go get something."
  1012. >Spike nods and returns his attention to a nearby book as you exit the room
  1013. >You head back to your room to grab your phone off the charger and head back to the library once the object of your attention is secured
  1014. >Now back in the library with Spike, you take a chair of your own and start looking through some old memes you had saved
  1015. >it's some pretty old stuff, but it's good
  1016. >Reminds you of home
  1017. >Reminds you of your home board, too
  1018. >All those nazis and horsefuckers, it's truly a magical place
  1019. >Of course, you don't let any of your emotions show for fear of drawing the babby dragon over to you
  1020. >You'll get home eventually, anyway
  1021. >Looking at old pictures gets uninteresting after a while, so you decide to move on to some games
  1022. >It's not your computer or an actual console, but your phone still has the capacity to kill time with vidya
  1023. >You fuck around in a few different games, accomplishing nothing in any of them except for one where you level up a character that you haven't touched in months
  1024. >Eventually, you get bored of the available vidya too
  1025. >Rip
  1026. >Now what?
  1027. >You can't watch videos because there's no internet
  1028. >You can't do anything interesting in the lab because Twilight's not here
  1029. >You can't jack off because you don't have a dick
  1030. >You can read, though
  1031. >Nah, reading's for nerds
  1032. >You do come to another idea, though
  1033. "Hey Spike, do you know where I can find some paper?"
  1034. >He looks up from his book with a quizzical expression
  1035. [o]>"What's the paper for?"[/p]
  1036. >Well, you can probably tell him if you doctor the reasoning a bit
  1037. "I like writing down my life. It also helps me remember certain things when I need to."
  1038. [o]>"Don't they make diaries for that stuff?"[/o]
  1039. "Diaries run out of space, that doesn't happen with a big enough pile of paper. Also, I'm not too partial to filly things if you haven't caught on."
  1040. >Spike shrugs before getting up
  1041. [o]>"I'll show you where it is, follow me."[/o]
  1042. >You follow Spike down the stairs and through a few hallways until you both come to a door
  1043. >He opens the door to reveal a supply closet full of all sorts of stuff
  1044. >Paper, cleaning supplies, ink, and even some tools for general maintenance
  1045. >You pull down a stack of papers that are tied together and bring it back to the library with Spike
  1046. >When you both get there, you realize that you don't have a pencil
  1047. >At least you know where yours is
  1048. "Hold on to this for me, I'm gonna get my pencil."
  1049. >You go back to your room quickly to grab your pencil, finding it inside some corner of your school bag
  1050. >You also take this opportunity to organize the sizeable pile of already written material in your bag and move it into one of the drawers in your bedside table
  1051. >That'll keep it safe
  1052. >Pencil in hoof, you head back into the library to see that Spike put the paper down on a table for you before going back to reading
  1053. "Thanks."
  1054. >Spike looks up for long enough to give you a thumbs-up before going back to reading
  1055. >You, however, sit down at the table and start writing from where you left off
  1056. >Let's see, you had just met Emerald
  1057. >Okay, you know where you are!
  1058. >You write for a solid hour and make it to the point where Emerald comes over to hang out with your new bullet point tactic before Twilight gets back
  1059. >You know that Twilight's back because she called up to you and Spike, too
  1060. >"Sorry I took so long, I'm back with some stuff!"
  1061. >Oh boy, stuff?
  1062. >You and Spike both head downstairs to greet Twilight and see exactly what stuff she has
  1063. >When you both get down to her, you see that she has a bag held in her magic
  1064. "Welcome home, how are ya?"
  1065. >"I'm alright. Spike, how are you? And Anon, how's your nose?"
  1066. [o]>"Pretty good, I picked up a new book to read from the library."[/o]
  1067. "I'm managing. What's in the bag?"
  1068. >"Some stuff that you asked me for."
  1069. >Twilight puts the bag down in front of you and lets you see what's inside
  1070. >A small bottle and something blue
  1071. >The bottle has some pills and a piece of paper in it
  1072. >"That's the pain medication. Take one before bed and with water every night, there are enough in there to last for two weeks."
  1073. >That just leaves the blue thing
  1074. >You pull it out of the bag to find that it's actually folded fabric
  1075. >After unfolding it, you see exactly what it is
  1076. >It's a new shirt!
  1077. >It also looks amazingly close to your old one, but there's a very crucial difference
  1078. >Instead of a basic polyester tag that says 'Made in China', there's a small white patch inside the collar that reads 'Carousel Boutique'
  1079. >You feel yourself grin, and Twilight definitely sees that
  1080. >"I'm glad you like it. I had to call in that favor after all, but Rarity was happy that it was something simple to do instead of her usual orders."
  1081. "Tell her I said thanks, this is pretty cool!"
  1082. >You waste no more time and put the shirt on
  1083. >It's a bit roomy, but it also fits better than your previous shirt too
  1084. >Maybe because it was actually designed for a pony and not a person?
  1085. "Hey Spike, how do I look?"
  1086. [o]>"You look good, but then again, you're wearing something Rarity made. Of course that'll make you look good!"[/o]
  1087. >Even when his waifu isn't here, Spike still finds a way to be a kissass to her
  1088. >You roll your eyes at his answer before moving on to some other pressing matters
  1089. >The carrot you ate for lunch has been digested, leaving you hungry
  1090. "Hey, what's for dinner?"
  1091. >You ask to no one in particular
  1092. >Twilight answers your question, though
  1093. >"I was thinking about pasta, are you two fine with that?"
  1094. >You look at Spike who also looks at you, you both nod, and you both look back to Twilight and continue nodding
  1095. >"Alright, I'll go make dinner. Anon, go put those pills somewhere where you'll remember to take them and go put your shirt away; I don't think it would be a good idea to stain it right off the bat with tomato sauce."
  1096. >You go do exactly that and come back downstairs to find Twilight nearly done with the pasta and Spike setting the table
  1097. >You take a spot and wait patiently for the spagoot since it's still not done
  1098. >Your patience is rewarded in about a minute with fresh spagoot, and you take some along with Twilight and Spike
  1099. >You remember to eat like a civilized being too, no shoveling pasta into your face
  1100. >After you all are done, you head off to the library to collect your phone and the paper you grabbed
  1101. >You bring all the aforementioned items along with your pencil back to your room and put them away properly
  1102. >Phone goes on the charger, paper goes in your bag, green material goes in the drawer
  1103. >After you finish doing that, you head back down to the common area to find Purple and Spike
  1104. >It's a bit early to go to bed, after all
  1105. >That hasn't stopped you before, but you're also not tired
  1106. >Have you actually done the impossible and caught up on your sleep?
  1107. >That would be pretty cool if you have, it's been a while since you've gotten a reasonable amount of sleep at a reasonable time and not felt like complete shit upon waking up
  1108. >When you get down to it, you find both of them playing cards
  1109. "What's the game?"
  1110. >"Oh, I thought you went to bed!"
  1111. "I'm actually not immediately tired, for once. Pretty cool, right?"
  1112. [o]>"It's Go Fish, wanna join?"[/o]
  1113. "Sure, I might as well."
  1114. >You spend a while playing cards with Spike and Twilight until you actually start feeling tired
  1115. >When you finally feel yourself breaking down past the point of no return, you bid them both good night and head back up to your room
  1116. >As soon as you're under the covers and through saying goodnight to your plushes, you remember something
  1117. >You never asked Twilight those questions
  1118. >Shit
  1119. >. . .
  1120. >When you finish slipping into the realm of dreams, you find out something else you forgot
  1121. >The pills
  1122. >The red fog and flashes of pain are back, and you only have yourself to blame
  1123. >You only have yourself to blame, too
  1124. >This doesn't make you feel very good
  1125. >You don't even see anything around you that would give you something to divert your anger on to
  1126. >Come to think of it, you can't see much of anything at all through the fog
  1127. >Well, Luna helped you develop a method to deal with this so you might as well use it
  1128. >After doing what you can to lessen the pain, you finally get some detail into the dreamscape
  1129. >It's a large, grassy plain
  1130. >There isn't much around that you can see, and even less to do
  1131. >It's pretty much just a large, grassy expanse with nothing cool or important
  1132. >From what you can see of the sky, it also looks pretty bland
  1133. >Wow
  1134. >So boring...
  1135. >Let's see if we can't spice it up a bit?
  1136. >Oh, wait
  1137. >The fog's closing back in again, gotta take care of that
  1138. >Also, it would probably be a cool idea to make it go a bit farther away to see if you can see anything
  1139. >You take some extra time concentrating, so much so that at the end of it you can barely feel anything other than the pain you're focusing on
  1140. >After you release yourself from this concentration, you immediately notice some changes
  1141. >The fog's receded much farther than before and has revealed some more interesting things about the landscape around you
  1142. >There are a few hills, some ledges and even a structure off in the distance
  1143. >Something that's really changed though, is the sky
  1144. >You can see something pretty interesting happening there
  1145. >The ground actually curves upwards into the sky on all sides, with a star hanging lazily in the middle
  1146. >You're inside a dyson sphere!
  1147. >This is a LOT more interesting than a simple field!
  1148. >You're going to need to show this to Luna when she gets here!
  1149. >However, you want it to be a surprise
  1150. >That means you're going to need to bring the fog back
  1151. >But how do you do that?
  1152. >Hmm...
  1153. >You have an idea, but you're apprehensive about it
  1154. >It's probably going to work if you're thinking about this and are nervous about it, so why not give it a shot?
  1155. >Well, because it's going to hurt like a bitch if you do it and it works
  1156. >You're not going to find out if you never try it, though, so here goes...
  1157. >You ball up a fist and wrap your other hand around it
  1158. >You bring your hands down and tilt your head back
  1159. >At the same time, you bring your improvised double-fist up as fast as you can and slam your head down on top of it
  1160. >Direct hit
  1161. >You immediately flinch and start screaming, only to realize that you don't feel any more pain than before
  1162. >It didn't work
  1163. >That's good, for you
  1164. >However, you weren't able to crash your hands into your face with no survivors which means that the fog isn't coming back any time soon
  1165. >That in turn means that Luna isn't going to be surprised by the dyson sphere
  1166. >Is that really so bad compared to what you just tried to do to yourself, though?
  1167. >Not really
  1168. >Then again, this is a dream
  1169. >Would it really be that bad if you did something in this non-permanent landscape to yourself that caused yourself fake pain?
  1170. >You're not sure, but it would probably be an interesting philosophical issue
  1171. >Well, at least for the few minutes that it would stay on this topic and not move to something else
  1172. >Wait, where's Luna?
  1173. >Doesn't she usually show up by now?
  1174. >You look around yourself and don't see much showing her appearance
  1175. >You even think to look up and see if she's there, hovering above you somewhere
  1176. >No dice
  1177. >Well, there's one thing left to try
  1178. "Luna! You here yet!?"
  1179. >Your call into the dreamscape goes unanswered
  1180. >Well, fuck
  1181. >Might as well do something instead of standing around, then
  1182. >You look over to that structure you noticed and head over to it
  1183. >It's a large, half-submerged and angular building with designs that seem like nothing a person or pony would ever design
  1184. >Despite the fact that half of it's in the ground though, the building itself looks absolutely fine
  1185. >Even the paint or whatever's on it, is still a bright and shining white!
  1186. >When you make it to the structure, you find an open part to enter through and start looking at the interior
  1187. >It's pretty roomy and there's not much to be seen in here, but there are both ways up and down
  1188. >Let's go up!
  1189. >There's not much else on level 2 either, but there are a few windows showing a better view of the landscape
  1190. >There also isn't another way up
  1191. >Well, down it is
  1192. >You head back down to level 1 and take the stairs down to level -1
  1193. >There's some more interesting stuff here
  1194. >A few computer monitors and even a console to interact with
  1195. >Oddly enough, it's all in English
  1196. >Well, your mind interprets it as English
  1197. >It's probably just jibberish
  1198. >Well, at the very least, it seems that stuff is happening on these computers providing exposition for where you are
  1199. >This is some sort of world built around defense of something, and this structure you're in is actually part of a communications grid
  1200. >You can also see other parts of this grid on a separate display that you can interact with, and you decide to send a message to any other points that can receive it
  1201. "Hello, is anyone out there?"
  1202. >"..."
  1203. >Radio silence
  1204. >Guess not...
  1205. >You make one last visual sweep of the room to see if there was anything you missed
  1206. >As a matter of fact, there was!
  1207. >There's another staircase down that you can take
  1208. >Let's take it!
  1209. >Going down rewards you with even more interesting stuff
  1210. >There's a large variety of cables and a few assorted platforms sitting in a circle from one stationary console
  1211. >Each of the platforms has some wires coming out of them and seem to have some weird designs on them, and one of the wires always leads to the center console
  1212. >What could this be for?
  1213. >You look at the console and read what it says, hoping for any sort of a hint
  1214. >Boy, do you get a hint!
  1215. >It's a transportation hub, each of those platforms opens up a portal to somewhere else on this thing!
  1216. >Where can you go, then?
  1217. >There's a dedicated transportation hub, a few defense stations, a command center, other comms stations and a research facility
  1218. >What's the facility do?
  1219. >You're about to find out as you open the portal to it and hop through
  1220. >When you make it through, you find that the research facility is much more expansive than the relatively small comms building
  1221. >It's also got a lot more to look at
  1222. >Countless displays, many different consoles, and even a few tubes with various samples
  1223. >Those samples aren't all in test tubes, either
  1224. >Some of those tubes are big enough to hold an adult human, and by your observation, some of them do!
  1225. >The tubes all containing people seem to all contain the same person, though
  1226. >You look through some of the displays pertaining to different tubes, and find something out
  1227. >They're all you
  1228. >Each one appearing slightly different from the ones next to it and the displays each having subtle differences according to which version of you they're tied to
  1229. >Even the smaller samples have to do with you
  1230. >A torn piece of your shirt
  1231. >A picture of you from the 4th grade
  1232. >Even your phone and your plush Aryanne
  1233. >What is all this for?
  1234. >You probably won't get an answer because of the typical length of dreams and how you've never had the exact same dream twice, but you still want to find out
  1235. >You continue snaking your way through the rows and columns of tubes, trying to find some hint as to what's going on here
  1236. >You don't find any answers, but you find something that gives you more questions
  1237. >As you move farther through, you find changes beginning to compound and lead to something interesting
  1238. >The various other yous are slowly but surely transitioning from human to pony
  1239. >The
  1240. >Fuck
  1241. >Eventually, you make it down the entire spectrum and find a final tube holding a small green filly with a black mane and tail
  1242. >That's you now, isn't it?
  1243. >You're stuck in this form, and your dream had you run down a whole line showing (sometimes in unneeded levels of detail) the rapid process of you becoming this at the hooves of Twilight
  1244. >Well, that was useless
  1245. >You make your way back to the platform where you started here to find something that only confuses you more
  1246. >There's an empty tube directly behind the platform
  1247. >You check the display near it to try to figure out what it held and why it's empty
  1248. >It reads something that compels you to check further into the panel
  1249. >Subject Zero: Anonymous Anonsen
  1250. >Age: 22
  1251. >Sex: Male
  1252. >It also displays an image of you, but there's something else about this particular image that confuses you and kind of spooks you too
  1253. >It's you
  1254. >Not some other version of you or some mutated form stuck halfway between human and pony, this is you
  1255. >You decide to check the display for anything else, and you find a bio that confirms your suspicions
  1256. >It perfectly lists your date of birth, where and how you grew up, your family and friends, and all sorts of other things that line up perfectly with you
  1257. >You scroll even further down past the bio to find one last line
  1258. >Subject Status: Active, Released
  1259. >Ohhhkay...
  1260. >If that's the dream's canon as to how you got here, then who are you to question it?
  1261. >You divert your attention away from the tube and display to see if there's anything else you missed before you take the portal back
  1262. >When you do this, you notice that every single other you in the tubes has opened their eyes and are all staring directly at you
  1263. >What
  1264. >The fuck
  1265. >This is also the moment when you wake up
  1266. >Huh
  1267. >Well, now that you're awake, you should probably get around to starting your day
  1268. >That dream still lingers in your mind, though
  1269. >Did it have any significance, or was it just your mind doing what it does best when left to its own devices?
  1270. >That may be something to ask Luna about when you get to see her next, but that won't happen until Sunday probably
  1271. >What day even is it, today?
  1272. >Let's see, you broke your nose on Wednesday and that was two days ago...
  1273. >It's Friday
  1274. >Wow, time flies!
  1275. >That means Chrysalis should be showing up today
  1276. >That also means that you'll be able to see Luna in 2 days
  1277. >Cool
  1278. >You go clean yourself off for school, again being careful about your nose
  1279. >You make sure to clean the rest of yourself off well, though
  1280. >Apparently you got pretty sweaty in your sleep
  1281. >Gotta wash that off properly, you don't want to stink for a whole day
  1282. >After cleaning yourself off, you dry off and head downstairs to find some food
  1283. >When you make it to the kitchen, you see Twilight and another pot of coffee
  1284. "Another late night?"
  1285. >"Yeah. At least I managed to figure some stuff out about the spell I used to bring you here that could help quite a bit."
  1286. >You stop in the middle of raiding a cabinet to respond to this
  1287. "What stuff was it?"
  1288. >You look towards Twilight again, who is now shuffling through a small packet of papers in front of her
  1289. >"I figured out exactly what about the spell managed to tear open the wormhole and a way to make it more stable so it won't close right away after opening. I should be able to extend the portal's lifespan to about a minute with the same amount and quality of materials that I used initially, but with a steady stream of materials the portal could theoretically last indefinitely."
  1290. >Oh boy, now there's an excuse for ponies to invade your world
  1291. >Despite the fact that this shouldn't be a bad thing according to your conscious mind, you still have some issues with that
  1292. "Why would you need to sustain it indefinitely?"
  1293. >"Currently, I have no reason to. It would be fairly helpful for other endeavors after we get you home though, seeing as how this encounter has let us know about a potentially limitless environment to explore and a way to get there."
  1294. "No invading my universe, got it?"
  1295. >"Don't worry, I'm not sure that it would even be an option given what your species has managed to do."
  1296. >After this exchange finishes, Twilight returns to her coffee and you go back to grabbing food
  1297. >After you organize a lunch for yourself, you grab a bowl for some cereal
  1298. >When it's all put together and you've cleaned up what you spilled in the process, you sit down to eat it next to Twilight
  1299. >It's an uneventful bowl of cereal, though Twilight does take a minor interest in your use of a spoon and writes something down
  1300. >You don't care, you're the ayyliun after all
  1301. >Why couldn't you be a cooler alien, though?
  1302. >Eh, that's not something that matters
  1303. >About halfway through your breakfast, you remember something from Saturday, though
  1304. >Why Saturday you're not sure, but you remember it all the same
  1305. "Hey, did Celestia ever get back to you on the thing about the planet spinning on an axis?"
  1306. >Twilight at first looks confused, but then seems to remember what you're talking about
  1307. >"Yes, actually! She said it had to do with the planet having an irregular rotation that would cause major climate instability if left to its own devices, so she and Luna move the sun and moon to keep everything as stable as it can be and still seem somewhat natural."
  1308. >Huh
  1309. >That actually sounds pretty plausible
  1310. >Well, now that you're on the subject, you might as well bring up your other questions
  1311. "I've got a few more questions that I'd like to ask while I remember them too, mind if I?
  1312. >"Go ahead."
  1313. >Now, what were they?
  1314. >Oh yeah!
  1315. "Would it be possible for my nose to heal instantly if you transformed me again?"
  1316. >"The short answer is no. The long answer is no, it'll probably send bone shards directly into your brain too."
  1317. "Alright, that's morbid. Would accelerating time be able to heal me faster?"
  1318. >"Assuming you mean what I think you mean, technically it would. You'd still experience it as a couple of weeks though, while outside the bubble of augmented time flow it would seem more like a couple of minutes."
  1319. "Fantastic. One last question, how did you ponies manage to tame dogs and cats?"
  1320. >"That's actually an interesting question, if a bit different from your other two. Ancient unicorns actually ended up using some basic mind-altering spells on local wolf species to use them for protection from other animals, and after a while the changes made to those wolves became permanent and hereditary due to influenced mutations. Cats were domesticated in a similar way, but their initial purpose was to help keep mice and other vermin out of food stores instead of protecting ponies."
  1321. >That's also fairly interesting
  1322. "Thanks, I meant to ask those questions yesterday but never got around to it. Anyway, I should probably finish getting ready so I can get to school and not be late."
  1323. >"No problem, glad I could clear some things up for you. I'll see you after school."
  1324. >You head back upstairs and finish gathering up your stuff and phone, grab the lunch you made on the way to the door, and head back out on the way to school
  1325. >You arrive just barely on time after jogging part of the way, getting to your seat mere fractions of a second before the bell rung
  1326. >Good
  1327. >After that, everything pretty much just happens as normal
  1328. >Cheerilee starts teaching math and your mind goes somewhere else
  1329. >Mainly, back to your dream and what was up there
  1330. >You're not sure, but you think Luna might have an idea
  1331. >It's just a shame that you didn't see her at all last night, she probably could've helped you not be so confused
  1332. >You zone out again for the rest of math and go outside when the recess bell rings
  1333. >The time you spend outside is mostly spent dozing off and enjoying the warmth of the sunlight hitting you, but it's fairly short-lived
  1334. >You play with your phone under your desk again in science because you still know all this shit, and you pay attention in history because you have to
  1335. >Another boring time of peace, more laws made and other things, Celestia doing something important about once every hundred years, etc.
  1336. >It's not interesting, but you need to learn it so Twilight doesn't jump down your throat
  1337. >After that's over, you head back out for lunch
  1338. >Oh boy, a sandwich!
  1339. >It's nothing special, but you did decide to pull everything out that you thought looked good and stick a reasonable amount of each between two pieces of bread
  1340. >You also found a bag of chips and put that in there
  1341. >Nothing like deep-fried potato slices to remind you of the junk food back home in 'Murica
  1342. >After you eat your sandwich (which wasn't as good as you thought, but still good) and your chips, you throw out the garbage and sit back down to watch the scenery
  1343. >All those pastel colors still haven't gotten old
  1344. >When the lunch bell rings, you head back inside for writing
  1345. >The assignment isn't hard and you're done in a few moments
  1346. >Back to writing your experiences!
  1347. >Let's see, you left off at staying the night with Emerald...
  1348. >You write until you hit Chrysalis implying that you two should fuck before the bell rings, signaling you to pack up your stuff and go home
  1349. >Good, you weren't really paying attention today anyway
  1350. >You've got more important things to focus on, like figuring out how to convince Celestia to accept an alliance with the changelings
  1351. >Also, you have to make sure that Twilight isn't too harsh to Chrissy if she's even here yet
  1352. >After you pack up everything, you head back to the castle as fast as your small green legs can carry you
  1353. >It takes you a few minutes and a serious amount of effort, but you manage to run the whole way back
  1354. >Without much ceremony, you open the door and announce your return
  1355. "I'm back from school, what's going on?!"
  1356. >The answer you seek comes in the form of Twilight teleporting down to you
  1357. >"Not much, but I'm glad you asked. The southern train's arriving fairly soon, and I want us to be at the station when it gets there."
  1358. >Okay, you two are probably leaving for the station now
  1359. "Alright, just let me put my stuff away and we can go."
  1360. >You start off towards your room only to feel the weight vanish off of you and see a slight purple haze at the corners of your vision
  1361. >"All done, let's go."
  1362. >You turn back towards Twilight who's already moving to the door and follow her
  1363. "You're sure in a hurry, why is that?"
  1364. >Twilight continues walking as she turns to look at you
  1365. >"Remember how I said I still don't trust Chrysalis? Yeah, I still don't trust her."
  1366. >Oh, right
  1367. >Twilight still has problems with this
  1368. >At least she's willing to trust you and your judgement about this
  1369. >Otherwise, things probably wouldn't be going near as smoothly
  1370. >Not that they're going smoothly, but still
  1371. >It could be worse
  1372. >It could be roasted peanuts, but instead it's chunky peanut butter
  1373. >Anyway, back to what's going on around you
  1374. >You and Twilight are still walking to the train station when something new crosses your mind
  1375. "Hey Twilight?"
  1376. >"Hm?"
  1377. "If we're in a hurry, then why are we walking?"
  1378. >"We're walking because I wanted some fresh air, I hope you don't mind that."
  1379. "I don't, it just seemed a bit out of character for you."
  1380. >"Well, I don't really go outside much without a reason, so I try to find a reason whenever I can."
  1381. "That's respectable."
  1382. >You two continue on towards the train station in silence, but there's not really much on your mind that you think Twilight would really care about
  1383. >Mainly, what Chrysalis is going to look like
  1384. >She's definitely going to have a disguise, but how will you both be able to know who she is without her telling you?
  1385. >Actually, this is probably something Twilight would care about
  1386. >You should also probably ask her, just in case too
  1387. "Hey, Twilight? I have another question."
  1388. >"What is it?"
  1389. "How are we going to know who our 'guest' is?"
  1390. >Twilight doesn't respond for a few seconds; she's probably thinking again
  1391. >"I don't know. I could try searching out her magic again, but I'm not sure how well that'll work through her disguise... I guess it's a start, though."
  1392. >Well, at least you two have a plan to try
  1393. >You two make it to the train station soon after, and neither of you have to wait long for the train to pull up
  1394. >"Time to see if it'll actually work."
  1395. >You nod in response to Twilight's statement, noticing that her horn begins to glow faintly
  1396. >guess this doesn't take too much energy to do
  1397. >As passengers begin exiting the train, you see Twilight scanning the crowd
  1398. >Her gaze never lands on one pony for too long, but eventually you pick a familiar face out of the crowd
  1399. >A face with a light-green mane, a gray coat and blue eyes
  1400. >So Emerald came with and brought her old disguise with her!
  1401. >She starts looking around the station and eventually finds Twilight, leading her directly to you
  1402. >Even from here you can see her brighten up, and she begins trotting towards you both
  1403. >Twilight doesn't notice at first, but she figures it out when you get up to meet Emerald
  1404. >She doesn't do much to stop you, but you feel her give you a glance which you assume means something along the lines of 'You better stay somewhere where I can see you, I'm not trusting anypony here.'
  1405. >You keep that in the back of your mind as you continue to meet Emerald, meeting her at about the center of the room
  1406. [p]>"Hey Anonymous! I haven't seen you since you decided to stay back at the hive, How are you?"[/p]
  1407. "I'm fine, how about you?"
  1408. [p]>"Pretty okay, but rebuilding hasn't been too easy. We're fine now though, so Mom let me come with her! Anyway, mind if I ask what happened there? Mom won't tell me much, but she says that you were there."[/p]
  1409. "Sure, I'll tell you."
  1410. >You're not going to tell her everything, though
  1411. >Does she really need to know that you're actually an alien yet?
  1412. "Well, Chrysalis and Twilight got into a pretty big fight that I had to break up. I'm pretty glad I stayed back, things probably would've gone a lot worse if I hadn't been there."
  1413. [p]>"Either way, everypony's fine and that's what matters."[/p]
  1414. >You two walk back over to Twilight who's still looking around and sit down next to her
  1415. >Eventually, she stops looking and focuses on a pony
  1416. >She's pitch-black with a greenish-blue mane and green eyes
  1417. >No horn or wings, though
  1418. >You poke Emerald to grab her attention and point towards the mare in question
  1419. "Is that her?"
  1420. [p]>"Yeah, Mom didn't want to make herself impossible to recognize through her disguise."[/p]
  1421. >Emerald stands back up and waves Chrysalis over
  1422. >Chrysalis notices it and comes over, stopping in front of Twilight who is standing by this point
  1423. [o]>"Twilight."[/o]
  1424. >"Chrysalis."
  1425. >A somewhat tense silence descends over the four of you, and you exchange a glance with Emerald
  1426. >"I suppose we should get going so I can get you two set up at the castle."
  1427. >Twilight says this in a dry tone, maintaining eye contact with Chrysalis the whole time
  1428. [o]>"Your castle? How generous of you."[/o]
  1429. >Chrysalis has the same dry tone and maintains the eye contact, almost like she's accepting a challenge
  1430. >"Follow me."
  1431. >Twilight starts walking out and Chrysalis stays close behind her, with you and Emerald at the back
  1432. >A bit of a rocky start so far, but nothing seems certain about this so far
  1433. >It could go fine, or it could go horribly
  1434. >It's all up to how you can handle this and how willing everyone else is to cooperate with you
  1435. >Let's hope that you're up to the task
  1436. >You and Emerald try to sustain a conversation during the walk back to the castle, but eventually it's swallowed up by the tense silence between Twilight and Chrysalis
  1437. >When you all get back, Twilight leads you up to the common room
  1438. >As soon as Chrysalis is sure that nopony else will see her reveal herself, she drops her disguise
  1439. >When the green column fades, you see her sitting on the floor and holding her head, almost like she's in pain
  1440. >Emerald moves to her side and places a hoof on her back while you look on with concern
  1441. >Twilight just reacts with mild interest, however
  1442. "What's wrong? Are you okay?"
  1443. >Chrysalis takes a deep breath and gets back up, sighing before she responds
  1444. [o]>"When I said I was completely drained of magic, I wasn't kidding. Even holding a disguise together takes a fair amount of effort now."[/o]
  1445. >Ouch, that's gotta suck!
  1446. >You see Twilight pull a clipboard and pencil out of magic from the corner of your eye, and that makes you mildly disappointed
  1447. >If she's not going to be a good host, then you will!
  1448. "Well, would either of you like something to drink while you're here?
  1449. [o]>"Water, please."[/o]
  1450. [p]>"Me too, thanks."[/p]
  1451. "Alright, I'll be back in a second."
  1452. >Two glasses of water, simple enough
  1453. >Shouldn't be too much trouble
  1454. >You're a smart guy, after all
  1455. >You should be able to find a way to get them both there without spilling either
  1456. >Worse comes to worst, you can just make two trips too
  1457. >You'd prefer not to, though
  1458. >Two trips sounds like one too many
  1459. >Or is it?
  1460. >Fuck it, your stubborn pride says that one trip is your goal
  1461. >You're just about to the kitchen now, and you run into somebody who can help you!
  1462. "Hey Spike, I need your help with something."
  1463. >Spike looks up from what he was doing at you
  1464. [o]<"Sure, what do you need?"[/o]
  1465. "Well, I'm sure you've heard that there are guests over right now. Anyway, I offered to get them some water, and they accepted it. The problem is, I don't think I can carry two glasses at once without spilling them both and I only want to make one trip."
  1466. [o]<"I guess I can help with that, but I see a small problem."[/o]
  1467. "What's the problem?"
  1468. [o]<"Twilight told me to stay out of the way while they were over, and I'm not sure if this counts as getting in the way."[/o]
  1469. >Well, at least Twilight had a plan for keeping Spike from freaking out
  1470. >The operative word being 'had'
  1471. >Does it really matter if Spike knows about Chrysalis if she's going to be staying here for the night, anyway?
  1472. "How is helping out getting in the way? All you have to do is grab a glass of water for me and bring it to the common room! It's not that hard, surely you should be able to do it."
  1473. >Let's hope he takes the bait
  1474. [o]<"I guess you aren't wrong... Okay, I'll help."[/o]
  1475. >Perfect!
  1476. >You two go to the kitchen and grab a pair of glasses
  1477. >After filling them both up with tap water, you two head out to the common room with your cargo
  1478. >It's a pretty quick walk, despite the fact that you're only using three hooves to walk, with your fourth one occupied with holding your glass
  1479. >Spike has no difficulty with his, though
  1480. >Either way, you two make it back to the common room fairly quickly
  1481. >Not thinking twice about what lies ahead, you enter
  1482. >Spike follows you, and this turns out to not be the greatest of ideas
  1483. >Twilight and Chrysalis are in the middle of discussing strategies to convince Celestia and Emerald's decided to drop her disguise too
  1484. >Spike doesn't exactly handle this too well, but at least he doesn't drop the glass
  1485. >In fact, he kind of freezes up
  1486. >You'll deal with this after getting your payload to who needs it
  1487. >You hand off your glass to Emerald and grab Spike's to give to Chrysalis
  1488. >As soon as you give it to her, you feel a tap on your shoulder
  1489. >It's Spike, and he's gesturing for you to follow him out of the room
  1490. >At this moment, you also realize that everypony here also sees him
  1491. "Excuse us for a moment, sorry."
  1492. >Twilight gives you a bit of a disappointed glance as you follow Spike out of the room, but you don't think that anything too bad will come out of it
  1493. >You hope
  1494. >Spike leads you out into another room out of earshot of the others before turning to face you
  1495. [o]<"Why are there changelings here?!"[/o]
  1496. "It's a long story that I can't entirely tell you without breaking some promises I made to Twilight, but I can assure you that there's a good reason they're here."
  1497. [o]<"How do you know it's a good reason, though? Aren't changelings supposed to be good at manipulating ponies?"[/o]
  1498. "I know it's a good reason because it's part of an idea I had. Now come on, we shouldn't leave our guests waiting."
  1499. [o]<"That just raises more questions!"[/o]
  1500. >Spike sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose before saying anything else
  1501. [o]<"You know what? No. I'm not dealing with this. I'm going to go back to following Twilight's directions, and I'm not helping you with any more of this. I want no part of this, whatever this is that nopony will tell me!"[/o]
  1502. >He continues ranting like this as he walks back into the castle, leaving you alone in the room
  1503. >Well, that wasn't a reaction you expected
  1504. >Poor guy just couldn't take being out of the loop any more
  1505. >You should probably apologize to him when you get a good opportunity
  1506. >you may even be able to tell him the truth of what's going on if you can get Twilight's approval for it
  1507. >You've been gone for long enough too, you should probably go back and see what's going on
  1508. >You head back to the common room to find things in a similar state to how you left it
  1509. >Twilight and Chrysalis are still discussing what to do about Celestia with Emerald listening with only enough interest to make sure that she gets the general idea of what's happening
  1510. >You sit down next to Emerald and start observing as well
  1511. >You never know when something important will come up that you should know
  1512. >Speaking of, you probably missed something
  1513. >You turn towards Emerald to see if you're right on that assumption
  1514. "What did I miss?"
  1515. [p]>"Not much, Mom and Twilight are still just talking about how to convince Princess Celestia. I don't have any ideas on what to do, so I haven't really been paying attention though. What was all that about with Spike?"[/p]
  1516. "As it turns out, he wasn't informed about what was happening and wasn't quite sure how to handle it. From how he reacted to it when he finally got to his reaction, I don't think we'll be seeing him very often for the rest of the time you both are here."
  1517. [p]>"Oh, that's a shame; I was kinda hoping that we could play monopoly again."[/p]
  1518. >Okay, maybe Spike storming off was more of a blessing than you thought
  1519. "I'm sure we'll see him again at some point, don't worry. This castle isn't as big as it looks, you know."
  1520. >Emerald shrugs and looks back towards Twilight and Chrysalis before turning back to you
  1521. [p]>"I'm pretty bored, wanna go do something else?"[/p]
  1522. >On one hand, you agree that this is a boring conversation
  1523. >Hell, you haven't even been paying attention!
  1524. >On the other, this conversation is pretty important
  1525. >You may need to know as much as you can about this to help find a solution that might work
  1526. >Hmmm...
  1527. >Maybe- nah...
  1528. >But what if...
  1529. >Yeah, that might work!
  1530. >If you can't keep your attention on the conversation now, then you're never going to be able to reliably force yourself to listen
  1531. >HOWEVER
  1532. >Twilight seems to be taking notes with that clipboard she retrieved earlier, so maybe you can look over the notes afterwards?
  1533. >Okay, you can go off and do something else with Emerald now and look over Twilight's notes when she and Chrissy are done talking!
  1534. >That seems like a good solution!
  1535. "Sure, I'm down for a change of scenery. Did you have anything in mind?"
  1536. [p]>"Wanna head down to the school and mess around on the playground?"[/p]
  1537. >That doesn't sound like a bad idea, but you two should probably be back before dark
  1538. "Sure, let's go."
  1539. >Both of you stand up and head to the front door and Emerald goes back into her disguise
  1540. >On the way, you both run into Spike
  1541. >Judging by the empty bowl and spoon, he's either going to get ice cream or putting his dirty ice cream dishes away
  1542. >Luckily, Emerald has her disguise back on at this point too
  1543. >Spike notices this, but he doesn't put two and two together
  1544. [o]<"Hey Emerald, when did you get here?"[/o]
  1545. >You're not saying anything
  1546. >You're just going to let this play out
  1547. >It's his fault if he gets dragged back into this shit
  1548. [p]>"A while ago, long enough to see what happened earlier."[/p]
  1549. >Emerald punctuates this with a small giggle
  1550. >Okay, if Spike can't put it together now then he doesn't deserve to get it told to him
  1551. [o]<"Huh, so I guess you saw that... In my defense, it's not every day that changelings show up to the castle. Also, between you and me, I'm a bit suspicious about why they're here."[/o]
  1552. >He doesn't deserve it
  1553. [p]>"Well, what if they're here for a good reason?"[/p]
  1554. [o]<"I doubt it, these aren't the reformed changelings. These are the same ones who tried to take over Canterlot when Twilight's brother was getting married. That's just my thoughts though, since Anon here won't tell me why they're here despite saying it was her idea."[/o]
  1555. >He gives you a quick glare as he says the last part, but soon returns to Emerald
  1556. >Emerald also looks a bit less cheerful after hearing this
  1557. [o]<"So, what's going on?"[/o]
  1558. [p]>"We were heading to the school."[/p]
  1559. [o]<"Alright, that sounds better than staying here. I'll come with you two after I clean these off!"[/o]
  1560. >Spike walks back off towards the kitchen and Emerald immediately starts back towards the front door
  1561. >You follow her out even as she picks up her pace when she gets outside
  1562. >Eventually, you two stop under a tree in town
  1563. [p]>"How about we go somewhere else? I'm not really feeling the school idea any more."[/p]
  1564. "Alright, where to?"
  1565. [p]>"I just wanna walk around now, you okay with that?"[/p]
  1566. "Sure, why not?"
  1567. >You and Emerald wander off into town, completely content to just spend time with one another despite the fact that you two pretty much ditched Spike
  1568. >You two walk around for a while, but eventually you get tired of not having a destination
  1569. >You continue holding up your half of the conversation while thinking of possible endpoints, but not many ideas come to mind
  1570. >You two could go check out the market and see if there's anything interesting there to look at
  1571. >You two could go to the square and enjoy the fresh air from a more stationary position
  1572. >Or, of course, you two could go to Sugarcube Corner and see if Pinkie's willing to give you two anything for free
  1573. >Probably not that last one; goods and services always require payment
  1574. >Maybe she'd be willing to get the payment from Twilight later...?
  1575. >Nah, you'd rather not start racking up debt in another universe
  1576. >The plastic jews of back home are bad enough to work around
  1577. >Everything requires credit to buy, you need a credit card to have credit, et cetera, et cetera...
  1578. >Why can't people just buy things with cash like they used to?
  1579. >Oh well, that's not a problem here and hopefully never will become one
  1580. >Well, you have your ideas in mind; time to see if Emerald's willing to go along with any of them
  1581. >You wait for an appropriate break in the conversation to share your thoughts, and it comes soon enough
  1582. "Hey, you wanna take this walk somewhere? I'm just asking because it's been bothering me that we don't have a destination."
  1583. [p]>"Sure, any preference? Or would you like me to choose?"[/p]
  1584. "I have three different ideas in mind that I can tell you. If you don't like any, then you can choose."
  1585. [p]>"Okay, shoot."[/p]
  1586. "Option 1 is that we could go to the market area and look at stuff there, option 2 is for us to go to the town square and do something there, and option 3 is to see if Pinkie will let us have anything for free at Sugarcube Corner."
  1587. >Emerald pauses to think about what you've laid out
  1588. >Or is she thinking about a possible counter to your ideas?
  1589. >You're not sure
  1590. >You eventually get the answer as Emerald gives her reply
  1591. [p]>"I'm sure there's enough time for us to do all 3 before we have to be back at the castle, so why not do that?"[/p]
  1592. >Huh
  1593. >A bit of both
  1594. "Sure, anywhere you want to start?"
  1595. [p]>"Hm... Is any spot closer than any other?"[/p]
  1596. >That's a good question, which spot is closer?
  1597. >You know how to get to Sugarcube Corner the fastest, but it's definitely not closer than the market or the town square
  1598. >The town square isn't as close as the market, but it's certainly easier to get to
  1599. >Guess that should be the first destination
  1600. "Town Square should be pretty good for a first stop, follow me."
  1601. >You two resume your conversation as you walk off to the town square while you put your plan together for what's going to happen
  1602. >First town square, then the market, and finally Sugarcube Corner
  1603. >That should work fairly well
  1604. >You two make it to the town square about halfway through a discussion about the finer points of theoretical physics and how neither of you knows anything about it and see that nothing much is happening there
  1605. >Actually, scratch that
  1606. >There's nothing cool or interesting happening
  1607. >On top of that, there's no open benches to claim
  1608. >Fug
  1609. >All these other ponies must have had the same idea
  1610. >Well, now that you two are here, you have to do something
  1611. >Why?
  1612. >Do you want to look stupid, or something?
  1613. >I thought so
  1614. >Emerald notices your hesitation upon seeing the scene before you and questions you about it
  1615. [p]>"What's up? Not what you expected?"[/p]
  1616. "Honestly, yeah. I expected at least one open bench, but there aren't any and there's nothing else around here to do."
  1617. [p]>"Then I guess it's a good thing that you had two backups! Where to now?"[/p]
  1618. "The next closest place is the market, hopefully we can find something cool there."
  1619. >The path to the market area is a simple one to follow, but it's not the largest path
  1620. >It also doesn't help that the afternoon sun is casting some suspicious shadows across the area
  1621. >Oh well, it's not like Ponyville's particularly known for its crime rate
  1622. >The rest of the walk to the market is pretty uneventful other than the topic of conversation changing from theoretical physics to theology
  1623. >The market is much more interesting than the town square, though!
  1624. >Colorful tents with all manner of things being sold, none of which you have the budget for!
  1625. >At least you can look and keep track of things to pester Twilight about later
  1626. >You two navigate through the masses of ponies doing some shopping, spending a few moments at each tent to see what's being sold there
  1627. >You don't see anything that you absolutely can't live without, but you do see Emerald looking at some of the shinier objects
  1628. >You don't blame her, shiny things are pretty eye-catching
  1629. >Something does happen to catch your interest at another tent
  1630. >There's a pony selling magnets
  1631. >Not fridge magnets, either
  1632. >Actual, powerful magnets
  1633. >You have a few ideas of what you could do with those, but you're not sure how much of it can be done with your limited toolset and ability
  1634. >You should probably convince Twilight to teach you how to use some of her tools at some point so you can see just what sorts of things you can abuse in a world of magic
  1635. >Maybe you could build a functional hoof-held railgun that will do intended levels of damage to the target?
  1636. >You can't use natural magnets for that, but natural magnets can be used for other things
  1637. >You could use them to generate the electrical current necessary to charge the railgun, maybe?
  1638. >That would certainly be an interesting concept, a railgun charged by a kinetic generator located in a saddle bag
  1639. >If only you had the means, materials, and skills to make it happen
  1640. >A man can dream, though
  1641. >You two make it through the rest of the market in a timely manner without too many stops to stare longingly at certain things while remembering how much money you don't have
  1642. >After this is the final stop before going back to the castle, Sugarcube Corner
  1643. >Unfortunately, the previous conversation was completely lost as soon as you two entered the market, so a new topic is brought about
  1644. >Theology wasn't something you could discuss to your full potential, anyway
  1645. >Something tells you that Twilight wouldn't be too happy about you spreading the word of Jesus Christ across Equestria
  1646. >Anyway, the new conversation topic happens to be mathematics
  1647. >Oh boy, math
  1648. >You know quite a bit about this due to your studies back in college, but you can't exactly discuss it very well
  1649. >Luckily, Emerald catches you off guard with this topic by using it as an excuse to see what she missed in school
  1650. >That's easy enough to explain!
  1651. >She missed nothing, simple enough!
  1652. >After you give her an overview of what she missed (well, what you paid attention to), the topic turns to other happenings at school
  1653. >Again, nothing important
  1654. >Well, you do mention that Ms. Cheerilee was a bit concerned about her
  1655. >The topic takes another turn pretty soon after this, since there's not much left on this path
  1656. [p]>"I don't think I've asked about this yet, but what happened to your face? I didn't want to be rude earlier, but I'm still curious."[/p]
  1657. "It's no problem; I just broke it on Wednesday. It should be all better in a few weeks, though."
  1658. [p]>"Oh, that's not too bad. It must've hurt though, I've learned some stuff about medicine and I've heard that breaking something is nasty business."[/p]
  1659. "Yeah, it hurt pretty badly at first but it dulled down pretty quickly. The real problem was the fact that I couldn't breathe right, but that was fixed when the doctor set it back into place."
  1660. [p]>"That's good, I'm glad that this isn't a big problem for you."[/p]
  1661. >The conversation turns towards medicine and what you both know/don't know about it as Sugarcube Corner draws closer
  1662. >You two get there as the shadows start to lengthen even further
  1663. >It's getting pretty close to night, you two may have to hurry
  1664. >Time shouldn't be too much of a problem though, since Sugarcube Corner is pretty empty
  1665. >Because of this, it comes as a bit of a surprise to see Ponk almost immediately pop up behind the counter
  1666. [p]<"Heya, Nonny! What can I do for ya?"[/p]
  1667. >You two head over to the counter and sit on a pair of stools before you put your plan to the test
  1668. "Well, I'm not sure how much you can help out with this, but we kinda wanted something. However, we remembered that we don't have any money on us and it's too long a trip to go back and get some, so we were hoping that there was something for free."
  1669. >There's no way this will work
  1670. >Nonetheless, you and Emerald both put on your best poker faces to see what'll happen
  1671. [p]<"Huh, it's pretty funny that you ask, because I just finished a 'Get Well Soon' cake for ya! Twilight told me about what happened, and I know it's not fun at all. Well, I actually got a cast when I broke something when I was little so all my sisters got to sign it; that was pretty fun! But the rest of it wasn't and it hurt pretty bad, so I thought I should do something for you to help you feel better!"[/p]
  1672. >Did that seriously just happen?
  1673. >Holy shit it worked
  1674. >A look of genuine surprise crosses your face as Pinkie walks back towards the kitchen
  1675. [p]<"I'll go get it, be back in a sec!"[/p]
  1676. >You look towards Emerald, who meets your gaze
  1677. >You shrug and both of you work to suppress some pleasantly surprised laughter as Pinkie comes back with a box in a bag
  1678. >After placing it on the counter, she pushes it over in your direction
  1679. [p]<"It's all in there! Feel free to eat it here, but you can always bring it home if you can't. Hope you feel better!"[/p]
  1680. >With this last note, Pinkie returns to what she was doing before you two came in
  1681. >Now that you have a better view behind the counter, you can see that she's actually cleaning the floor
  1682. >Also looks like she's trying to find every last piece of dirt to sweep away
  1683. >You turn back to Emerald who's looking at your newfound prize
  1684. [p]>"So, what should we do with this?"[/p]
  1685. "I don't know about you, but I don't think Twilight or your mom would appreciate it if we ate an entire cake before dinner."
  1686. [p]>"Yeah, that's reasonable; Let's take it back to the castle."[/p]
  1687. >You pick up the cake and follow Emerald out of Sugarcube Corner, making it back to the castle as the last few rays of sun finally darken
  1688. >When you two get inside, you're confronted by a less-than-happy dragon
  1689. [o]<"What happened to the schoolyard? I was waiting there for half an hour!"[/o]
  1690. >You start to speak, but Emerald gets to it first
  1691. >probably because she doesn't have a bag full of cake in her mouth
  1692. [p]>"Sorry about that, we got a bit sidetracked."[/p]
  1693. >The unconcerned look on her face as she leaves the room says enough
  1694. >On the bright side, you're free to say what you wanted to now!
  1695. "Yeah, sorry about that. On the bright side, we brought something back with us in case you can't see the bag. You can thank us afterwards, don't worry."
  1696. >At your mention of the bag, Spike immediately stops looking quite so buttfrustrated
  1697. [o]<"What's even in there?"[/o]
  1698. >You drop the bag on the floor and show him the contents
  1699. "A little present from Ponk for messing up my nose, play your cards right and I'll even let you have some."
  1700. >You punctuate that last statement with some raised eyebrows
  1701. "Nah, I'm just messing with ya. I'm planning on sharing with everyone after dinner, don't worry. Speaking of, what is it and is it happening soon?"
  1702. >Now that this whole exchange has pretty much fixed Spike's anger, he's more than willing to answer
  1703. [o]<"Twilight said she'd order a pizza, she's out getting it right now."[/o]
  1704. "Noice, what's gonna be on it?"
  1705. [o]<"She said it's just gonna be cheese since the 'guest' shot down every other idea."[/o]
  1706. >Huh, guess Chrissy isn't too fond of vegetables on pizza either
  1707. "Alright, I guess I should put this in the kitchen and go find Emerald again."
  1708. >That's exactly what you do
  1709. >You go to the kitchen to put the cake down and go off to find Emerald
  1710. >You find her talking to Chrysalis, asking what happened while you two were out
  1711. >From what you overhear, not much
  1712. >She and Twilight came to some sort of an agreement, though
  1713. >You'll have to ask when Purple gets back
  1714. >Emerald's also dropped her disguise again
  1715. >You step into the room and make your presence known with a pleasant hello
  1716. >Chrysalis turns towards you and returns the gesture as you walk over to join her and Emerald
  1717. "So, what did I miss?"
  1718. [o]>"Not much, Twilight was as pleasant as ever. Despite that, we still came to an agreement about the plan."[/o]
  1719. "Awesome, anything I need to know?"
  1720. [o]>"Nothing noteworthy, the plan itself is more reliant on Twilight's and my knowledge of the situation and her ideas on how it could be resolved. She didn't mention you needing to be present for any of it, and she also has an idea of how to demonstrate that I'm only interested in help at this point in case that comes into question."[/o]
  1721. "Seems pretty solid so far, but what about public opinion? Luna said that public opinion about this would be her biggest issue so that should definitely be an important thing to deal with."
  1722. >It's about at this point that Emerald starts losing interest in things again
  1723. [o]>"Twilight said she had an idea, but she didn't tell me. She might be more willing to tell you when she returns, but I wouldn't get my hopes up."[/o]
  1724. "Well, that sucks. Wanna know what doesn't suck, though?"
  1725. [o]>"Sure."[/o]
  1726. "Well, while Emerald and I were out, we stopped by the bakery where one of Twilight's friends works and she gave me a 'get well soon' cake! Make sure to save room after dinner, because I'm planning on sharing."
  1727. [o]>"That's nice of her, I assume the pink one did it?"[/o]
  1728. "Yeah, actually. How'd you guess?"
  1729. [o]>"Though my time around her was short, she still left an impression that's easy to predict. Outgoing, optimistic and almost sickeningly energetic; is that accurate?"[/o]
  1730. "Pretty much, she's still pretty cool for giving me a free cake, though."
  1731. [o]>"Because of what happened to your nose?"[/o]
  1732. "Yeah, a broken nose kinda sucks so far; It's not the worst thing to ever happen, though."
  1733. >The conversation stops here since all three of you hear the door open
  1734. >Twilight's back with pizza
  1735. >"I'm back! Anon, show the guests to the kitchen, please!"
  1736. >Both Chrysalis and Emerald look at you expectantly
  1737. >They probably want you to lead them to the kitchen
  1738. "Alright, follow me."
  1739. >You lead Emerald and Chrysalis to the kitchen to find Twilight and Spike setting the table and a box of pizza sitting nearby
  1740. >When everything's set up and everypony's seated with their pizza, everyone starts eating
  1741. >You and Emerald manage to sustain another conversation while Twilight and Chrysalis stare each other down, and Spike ends up leaving at some point
  1742. >It's not really any degree of conversation that you two would normally have
  1743. >No absurd topics, nothing too deep or technical either
  1744. >Just a simple discussion about what's going to happen in Canterlot
  1745. >This discussion eventually leads you back to one thought: what do you need to do while you're there?
  1746. >You need an answer if you're going to have any certainty of being able to go with Emerald on any of the adventures that she's thinking about going on
  1747. "Hey, Twilight?"
  1748. >You draw her attention off of Chrysalis enough to get eye contact and a response
  1749. >"Yes?"
  1750. "What exactly do you need me to do while we're in Canterlot?"
  1751. >Twilight thinks for a moment as she takes another bite of pizza
  1752. >"Actually, I don't think there's anything you need to do as long as everything goes accordingly. You're pretty much free to follow Emerald, and I trust you to make sure neither of you get into trouble?"
  1753. >Oh, cool
  1754. >You're pretty much off the hook on this
  1755. "Alright, you have my word. We won't get into any trouble."
  1756. >However, in your mind, the sentence is finished much differently
  1757. >You both won't get into trouble unless it's funny or the receiving party deserves it
  1758. >You won't get into trouble unless the receiving party deserves it
  1759. >Fuck it, you just won't get in trouble
  1760. >You don't want to give the literal god across the table from you any reason to not trust you
  1761. >But, now that you have confirmation that you can just hang out with Emerald...
  1762. "Hey, Emerald, I have an idea of something we could do."
  1763. [p]>"Well spit it out!"[/p]
  1764. "Want me to introduce you to another friend while we're there?"
  1765. [p]>"Who's the friend?"[/p]
  1766. "You'll see, and I think you two might get along pretty well."
  1767. >Luna will be up for this, right?
  1768. >You're not sure, but if you're going to meet her in realspace then you'll probably have to bring Emerald with you
  1769. >You'll focus on further preparation on the train tomorrow, but for now, you're out of pizza
  1770. >You're the only one that's finished so far, so it's not time for cake yet
  1771. >Dang
  1772. >It's not that bad, though
  1773. >It gives your pizza a chance to digest before you immediately dig in to the cake
  1774. >You continue your conversation with Emerald while you wait for the others to finish
  1775. >The conversation is back to the standard sort of thing, with the topic being low-level biochemistry
  1776. >Both Twilight and Chrysalis stop glaring at each other and start staring at you two while the conversation goes on, growing steadily more confused
  1777. >Truth be told, you know almost nothing about this subject and neither does Emerald
  1778. >However, the look on Twilight's face as she listens to your conversation says you both rolled 20s on your bluff checks
  1779. >When the conversation finally reaches a close, you finish with a statement that makes Twilight question her existence and Chrysalis start clapping
  1780. "Huh, I'm surprised I carried on a conversation about something I don't know at all."
  1781. >Emerald nods in agreement as Chrysalis stops
  1782. >Twilight remains stunned for a few more seconds before asking a question
  1783. >"Do... Do you two do that often?"
  1784. [p]>"Don't friends have conversations?"[/p]
  1785. >"Well, yes, but... not usually... like that."
  1786. >Twilight apparently is having a hard time figuring out what just happened
  1787. "Yeah, our conversations usually follow a similar pattern."
  1788. [p]>"I don't see any problem with it, I think it's interesting and entertaining. Plus, it gives us an idea of just how much we know and how much more there is to learn."[/p]
  1789. >This time it's your turn to nod in agreement
  1790. >Twilight sighs and gives up on trying to understand this before clearing the table
  1791. >Now would probably be a good time to tell her about the cake
  1792. >She's started washing the plates off when you say what you want to
  1793. "Hey Twilight, Pinkie made me a 'get well' cake that I brought back. Can we have it? Like, all of us?"
  1794. >Twilight's answer tells you that she's pretty much done with today
  1795. >"Sure, go for it."
  1796. >She doesn't even turn around to say it
  1797. >Twilight levitates over a few plates and the necessary utensils to the table
  1798. >"If you need me, I'll probably be asleep or packing."
  1799. >After that, she starts walking to the door
  1800. "You can have some too, you know."
  1801. >"I'm fine, thanks; I'm just tired."
  1802. >With that final comment, Twilight leaves the room
  1803. >Chrysalis is the first to break the silence after Twilight's departure, reminding you of what's left to do
  1804. [o]>"Do you know what flavor the cake is?"[/o]
  1805. >You're not sure, but you have ideas
  1806. "I don't entirely know, but my guess is chocolate or something like that."
  1807. >Sure enough, the cake is chocolate
  1808. >You cut up the cake appropriately and everypony takes a piece
  1809. >It's a good cake, Pink doesn't disappoint
  1810. >After about an hour and some more loose conversation, the rest of the cake is gone
  1811. >You start settling into a food coma at this point, so you clear the rest of the dishes before showing Chrysalis and Emerald to a guest room
  1812. >Once they're settled, you head back to your own room to get some rest for tomorrow
  1813. >. . .
  1814. >Your dreams aren't as interesting as yesterday, but at least you can see the environment
  1815. >Yes, you remembered the pill!
  1816. >Clear skies and render distances as far as they are IRL from here on out!
  1817. >Now that you're back to functioning shape in your dreams as well as outside them, you decide to get back to work on something
  1818. >You're going to try to do something that you haven't tried since you first met Luna
  1819. >You've come a long way in being able to manipulate your dreams, it's worth a shot
  1820. >Step 1: change the map from wherever this is to Tokyo, Japan
  1821. >You close your eyes and concentrate as hard as you can on building the skyscrapers and busy streets before adding in the finer details of possible advertisements or people walking around
  1822. >After you're convinced that you've done all you can, you open your eyes
  1823. >It worked!
  1824. >It worked partially
  1825. >It needs improvement
  1826. >It needs a LOT of improvement!
  1827. >The buildings and streets are all there, but the people are stuck in the uncanny valley and the advertisements are illegible even in terms of dreams and chinglish
  1828. >Yeah, you've gotten better, but you're trying to create a massive and heavily detailed environment
  1829. >It's going to be pretty friggin' hard
  1830. >Even Luna would probably have trouble with something like this!
  1831. >You're not one to back down from a challenge, though
  1832. >One day, the Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny WILL play out inside your head perfectly!
  1833. >But for now, a certain blue pony has shown up to admire your handywork
  1834. >Initially she seems creeped out by the 'people' you tried to put in the environment, but eventually she starts giggling at them
  1835. >"What did you try to do this time?"
  1836. "I tried to recreate a setting from home so I could replicate a video that took place there. Oddly enough, that's what led me to going on that rampage a while back."
  1837. >A slightly pained look crosses Luna's face at your mention of that dream
  1838. >"Don't remind me. This isn't going to turn out like that dream, is it?"
  1839. "Nah, the rampage happened for a different reason than just not being able to do this. Besides, didn't I say that I wasn't going to do that again?"
  1840. >She relaxes again when she hears that you're sticking to that promise
  1841. >"Thank you, I don't want to see that ever again."
  1842. >You close your eyes and concentrate on clearing up the 'people' in the environment to hopefully give the rest of the environment some more resources to use
  1843. >After you're satisfied with this, you open your eyes and inspect your surroundings
  1844. >Yep, the ads are a bit clearer and the city isn't as dull
  1845. >Now that the place is a bit cleaner, you decide to walk around and look at what you generated
  1846. >Of course, Luna follows you to explore as well
  1847. >Now would be a good time to ask her about Emerald, since your brain so kindly reminded you
  1848. >Thanks, brain...
  1849. "Hey, Luna, I have a question."
  1850. >"I'm listening."
  1851. "I have a friend coming with me to Canterlot tomorrow and Twilight said I'm in charge of both of us. Would you be fine if I brought her with me when we meet up in realspace?"
  1852. >"What friend are you bringing?"
  1853. "Emerald, the only friend I have here besides you."
  1854. >"Hm, what's she like?"
  1855. >Huh, how would you describe Emerald?
  1856. >You're not entirely sure
  1857. "She's interesting, that's for sure. I don't really think I can describe her in any set way, but I can assure you she's alright."
  1858. >"Fair enough."
  1859. >You two walk a bit farther in silence before Luna starts making confused expressions
  1860. >"Wait, why is Twilight letting you bring a friend on a trip to negotiate a treaty?"
  1861. >This is easier to answer!
  1862. "Long story short, Emerald is a changeling."
  1863. >Mild surprise replaces the confusion on her face as she lets that sink in
  1864. >"How did that happen?"
  1865. "Well, as you remember, I ended up getting taken to the changeling hive by a spy planted in Ponyville. That spy happened to be playing the role of an older sister, and Emerald was helping her observe me by posing as a school-age filly to be her younger sister."
  1866. >"That's a long story indeed... I can't say it won't be interesting to formally meet a pure changeling, though. Anything I should watch out for?"
  1867. >What else needs to be watched for?
  1868. "I don't know, just watch out for a filly next to one that looks kinda like this."
  1869. >After you say this, you concentrate on yourself as hard as you can to try to change to your form in the outside world
  1870. >It works fairly well when you look yourself over, you even got the size more-or-less correct
  1871. "Yeah, about like this."
  1872. >Luna nods in understanding before you make yourself go back to human form
  1873. >After you're back to yourself, you two continue walking and exploring the city until you hit the border of the generated terrain
  1874. >The border isn't one that you can cross, so you two have to turn around
  1875. >This exploration continues until you wake up, both of you just enjoying the sights of this fake Tokyo
  1876. >. . .
  1877. >When you wake up, it's because a certain changeling is staring down at you and poking you in the side
  1878. "Alright, I'm up."
  1879. [p]>"We're leaving soon and Twilight told me to tell you to pack what you need in your suitcase before coming downstairs."[/p]
  1880. >Oh, right
  1881. >Leaving soon for Canterlot
  1882. "Okay, just gimme a second to remember where the suitcase even is."
  1883. [p]>"Isn't that it in the corner there?"[/p]
  1884. >Emerald points to the left corner of your room, and sure enough, your suitcase is there
  1885. "Alright then, I'll be down in a minute. Tell Twilight that I'm pretty hungry, too."
  1886. >Right on cue, your stomach growls
  1887. [p]>"Got it. See ya in a bit!"[/p]
  1888. >Emerald heads back out the door to your room as you drag your suitcase over to the bed
  1889. >You open it up and pack Aryanne, Hitler, your shirt, your phone, and the charger for it
  1890. >That should be everything, right?
  1891. >Yeah, what else would you need?
  1892. >Twilight probably packed the necessary other supplies, so you're fine
  1893. >Making sure that you have everything you want beforehand, you close the suitcase and head downstairs
  1894. >When you get down to the front door, you see Twilight giving another list to Spike
  1895. >Always more for him to do, isn't there?
  1896. >You also see Emerald and Chrysalis both back in their disguises
  1897. >After Twilight finishes detailing the important bits of the list to Spike, she teleports her own suitcase over and opens the door
  1898. >The four of you make it to the train station early enough that Twilight lets you take some money to buy breakfast for yourself at a nearby bakery
  1899. >Not wanting to be greedy, you end up making the money go a bit farther than just yourself and get something for Emerald too
  1900. >She gladly accepts it and the two of you spend the rest of the time before the train arrives eating your food
  1901. >Twilight and Chrysalis chose to resume their less-than-friendly staring contest since they didn't have any food
  1902. >Eventually, the train arrives and everypony gets on board for the trip to Canterlot
  1903. >The first part of the train ride is uneventful, mainly just the same interactions happening as before
  1904. >You and Emerald being friendly and having fun together
  1905. >Twilight and Chrysalis pretty much daring the other to try anything
  1906. >Again, the silence caused by the staring contest swallows up the conversation between you and Emerald and you two end up just watching the adults accompanying you stare each other down
  1907. >This is getting a bit excessive
  1908. >This got a bit excessive a long time ago, this is beyond excessive
  1909. >However, you get an opportunity to break up the tension when Twilight blinks
  1910. "Alright, Chrysalis wins. You two can stop staring at each other now."
  1911. >This statement gets Twilight to smirk and Chrysalis to sigh in an amused way
  1912. >Twilight glances at you for a moment before turning back to Chrysalis, still wearing a pleasant expression
  1913. >"Well, I guess Anon's the self-appointed judge for our staring contests now. Best two out of three?"
  1914. >Chrysalis glances at you as well before facing Twilight again
  1915. [o]>"You're on!"[/o]
  1916. >After this moment, the train ride got a lot less tense
  1917. >You and Emerald were able to hold a conversation and explore a bit without getting caught in the grievances of the two you're traveling with
  1918. >Twilight and Chrysalis also stopped being so hostile towards each other, even going so far as to strike up a civil conversation themselves
  1919. >This gives you a bit more hope for your idea being able to work, too
  1920. >It may just be the Princess of Friendship™ doing what her job title implies, but it's something
  1921. >Who knows, this could be the start of something beautiful!
  1922. >Either way, you can see the mountain holding up Equestria's capital city looming ever closer despite the morning sun making it very hard to look out the window
  1923. >The rest of the train ride is uneventful and you four make it to Canterlot sooner than expected
  1924. >After that, the only thing that really happens for the rest of the day is that you all check into a hotel, Twilight rechecks her organization, and then she and Chrysalis continue on with some finer planning
  1925. >Eventully, night falls and you all go out to eat
  1926. >It's nothing special, just some quick food before going back to the room
  1927. >On the way back to the room, you manage to snag a notepad off a table in a hallway
  1928. >There's nothing written on it, you're fine
  1929. >Luckily, you also noticed a pen in the room while you were there at first, so you can go back to writing down your adventures!
  1930. >You're going to have to tone down the human bits in case Emerald wants to look over your shoulder, though
  1931. >Everything else goes as expected for the night, with all of you going to sleep at a reasonable time
  1932. >. . .
  1934. >Be Twilight
  1935. >Everypony has gone to sleep by now, you've been laying here and waiting for about an hour
  1936. >You've kept your plan to yourself for now about what's happening tomorrow but now is the last time before then that you can make sure it'll actually work before you go to Celestia with it
  1937. >You've got to make sure for yourself that Chrysalis is worth trusting here
  1938. >You've had the means to do this for a while, ever since you figured out that you could use that one spell
  1939. >You just haven't had the opportunity
  1940. >Assuming what you know about changelings is correct, they are never showing of their true intentions unless it will get them what they want
  1941. >That is, they never show it while they're [i]conscious[/i]
  1942. >Now tht Chrysalis is asleep, you have a perfect opportunity to get a clear snapshot of her mind and everything that's going on in it
  1943. >Being as quiet and careful as you can, you make your way out of the bed you're sharing with Anon and over to the bed Chrysalis is sharing with Emerald
  1944. >After determining where Chrysalis's head is, you charge the spell as discreetly as possible before you begin the delicate process of casting it
  1945. >From the magic signature the spell had when Celestia first used it, it was certainly an advanced spell
  1946. >However, you've advanced enough in your studies and are confident enough in your abilities to do it a second time
  1947. >You've already done it properly, it should only get easier from here!
  1948. >...
  1949. >.....
  1950. >.......
  1951. >You finally feel the spell take hold inside the changeling queen's mind as you begin to see images come forth
  1952. >This didn't happen with Anon, could this be because she's dreaming or did you mess it up?
  1953. >Either way, you'll have to take what you can get
  1954. >This is still the best time to get the information you need, so you'd better pay attention!
  1955. >The longer you spend focusing on these images, the more something becomes apparent
  1956. >They're not just thoughts, they're memories!
  1957. >As an image from the Canterlot incident flashes past, you end up getting hit by a wave of confidence and pride
  1958. >Soon it fades and gets replaced by stagnant disappointment seasoned with resolve and a slight hint of success(?) after the image changes to her defeat on that day
  1959. >A few more images flicker past of relative unimportance until you get to another sequence that you can't help but pay attention to
  1960. >Depression swallows you in an instant as the image of Chrysalis trying to build a new hive by herself appears before you
  1961. >This must be just after the other changelings were reformed!
  1962. >The scene goes on until you can't help but feel just a bit sorry for her as she carves out room after room while tending to a small group of eggs
  1963. >Eventually, the feeling changes to one of resolve as the hive grows in size and population number, yet the depression remains
  1964. >A few more images pass as the spell continues to work accompanied by feelings that seem to match what's going on until you get to more recent events
  1965. >The only notable one in that line was the one that showed you what happened to Starlight
  1966. >Rip
  1967. >You were only really playing nice with her so she wouldn't get suspicious anyway, you're pretty indifferent about her death
  1968. >Anyway, where are we?
  1969. >Right, Anonymous's arrival
  1970. >As the scene plays out before you, you end up getting accompanying feelings that confirm Anon's judgement
  1971. >Desperation, despair, and even nervousness assault you from every side before a final climax when you hear Chrysalis say 'I need your help.'
  1972. >That's it
  1973. >That's what you needed
  1974. >You found your reason for helping Chrysalis
  1975. >You found the reason why the map sent you to the badlands
  1976. >That's it, whatever you felt about Chrysalis before this is no longer relevant
  1977. >You have quite literally walked a mile in her hoofsteps, and it was quite a trip
  1978. >Unable to handle any more of this, you rip yourself out of Chrysalis's mind and stop the spell
  1979. >When you come to, you find that you're covered in a cold sweat and that the first rays of dawn are peaking through the window
  1980. >Wow, you were out for a long time
  1981. >You also can't feel your legs
  1982. >To be fair, you [i]have[/i] just stood perfectly still for about 6 hours
  1983. >You should probably do something to clear your head a bit and let all that new information settle in your own mind
  1984. >First, you should probably try to clean yourself up a bit
  1985. >You don't enjoy the feeling of full-body dampness, and you certainly don't want to show any trace of what you just did
  1986. >You're not sure how Chrysalis would react to you probing her like that, much less doing so without her knowledge
  1987. >That judgement doesn't even take into account the fact that she was also asleep at the time
  1988. >A slight feeling of fatigue comes creeping up on you as you take a shower as well
  1989. >You should fix that before you do anything else today, you've got enough to worry about without having to deal with the hurdles presented by a potential lack of awareness
  1990. >It's too late for you to fall asleep, but you can still do what you've always done after any other all-nighter
  1991. >Fill yourself with enough caffeine to kill a small elephant!
  1992. >Well, you DID just take a shower...
  1993. >You might as well go out and get everypony some food, they'll undoubtedly wake up hungry
  1994. >Plus, it's Canterlot
  1995. >There are always a few places open at this time, you've got some options to choose from while you walk around
  1996. >After you leave the hotel, you decide to wander towards a coffee shop you liked while you lived here
  1997. >They have what you want and, unless something changed, they're definitely open right now
  1998. >After a while of walking at a steady pace, you reach your destination
  1999. >Sure enough, it's open
  2000. >The lights are on, there's a couple other ponies inside, and there's a pleasant-looking unicorn mare behind the counter when you go inside
  2001. [p]>"Good morning, how can I help you?"[/p]
  2002. "Good morning. I'd like a large cup full of espresso shots, please."
  2003. [p]>"Long night?"[/p]
  2004. >She writes down what you asked for as you reply
  2005. "Definitely."
  2006. [p]>"Well, I hope today isn't as long for you. Anything else?"[/p]
  2007. >You look to the side of the counter into a case where you see a few pastries of different types
  2008. >You pick four and the mare rings up your total before trading the pastries for your payment
  2009. >After you get your change, she then goes back to the equipment and gets started on making your drink
  2010. >A couple of minutes later, you get your drink and head back
  2011. >The drink doesn't even last for the entire trip, and neither does your pastry
  2012. >That spell's result took more out of you than you realized, you're still hungry and just a bit tired
  2013. >That's a problem that's still solvable, though
  2014. >You stop at another place on the way back and use some more of your funds to get another round of food and coffee
  2015. >Finally, you're starting to feel a bit more like yourself
  2016. >You spend the rest of the walk back to the hotel filtering back through everything you experienced through the night and wondering how useful this spell would be for other purposes
  2017. >This could be a pretty interesting tool to help solve friendship problems
  2018. >You find the pony with the problem, see what's going on from their perspective and find a way to fix it
  2019. >It would work pretty well, but it would also be pretty impractical if the time you spent inside Chrysalis's head is any sort of indicator
  2020. >This will definitely require some more testing and refining before you can make sure it'll work, though
  2021. >Eventually, you get back to the room and find everypony else starting to wake up
  2022. >Looks like the day has officially begun
  2024. >Be Anon
  2025. >You woke up a few minutes ago to find Twilight not in the room
  2026. >Chrysalis and Emerald were also starting to wake up from what you could hear
  2027. >But what happened to Twilight?
  2028. >She went to sleep with you, so why would she be gone right now?
  2029. >Maybe she woke up early and went out for some reason?
  2030. >Hopefully that's the case, she's the only one with an actual idea of what's going to happen today
  2031. >If she's not here, then you're not going to get anything done
  2032. >At least your worries are short-lived, seeing as how Twilight comes back inside the room
  2033. >Also, do you see something with her?
  2034. >Is that food?
  2035. >Okay, this is forgivable
  2036. >You get out from under the covers to see that Chrysalis and Emerald have also noticed Twilight's return
  2037. >Twilight herself also notices the fact that all of you are now awake and decides to explain herself
  2038. >"Good morning, I didn't sleep too well so I decided to run out and get you all breakfast; I hope you don't mind."
  2039. >You don't mind, at least
  2040. "I don't mind as long as you've still got everything covered for today."
  2041. >"Don't worry, this isn't the first time I've done something this important on almost no sleep."
  2042. >Okay, at least Twilight seems confident that she can handle it
  2043. >Now feeling a bit less worried, you claim one of the paper bags she's holding and sit back down on the bed
  2044. >Emerald is the next to claim one, and she does so fairly quietly
  2045. >Judging by the look on her face, she must not be a morning pony
  2046. >Huh, and she always seemed so cheerful in the hive...
  2047. >Emerald doesn't forget her manners though, and unlike you, says thanks
  2048. >Oh
  2049. >You forgot that...
  2050. >Too late now, you'll just apologize later
  2051. >Finally, Chrysalis takes a bag
  2052. >As she stands up, you notice that she doesn't look her best
  2053. >Almost like she's having one hell of a headache
  2054. >Twilight notices too, judging from the slight worry on her face
  2055. >"Are you alright?"
  2056. [o]>"Yeah, just a headache."[/o]
  2057. >"It looks like you're not feeling too good, are you sure?"
  2058. [o]>"Completely, I just need some water and I'll be fine."[/o]
  2059. >Chrysalis grabs the last bag and a glass off a nearby table before heading to the bathroom sink to fill it
  2060. >After a few seconds, she comes out looking a bit better
  2061. >Wait, that was the last bag
  2062. >What does Twilight get, then?
  2063. "Uh, Twilight? Did you mean to only get three?"
  2064. >"I got four, I was just hungry on the walk back."
  2065. >You shrug in response before returning your attention to the half-eaten pastry in front of you
  2066. >After you finish it, you take a mental stock of what needs to happen before you all leave the room
  2067. >Odds are, Twilight's already ready to go if she decided to run out and get you all food
  2068. >You're not sure what Chrysalis or Emerald needs to do before they're ready
  2069. >You know that you need to take a shower at the very least
  2070. >Depending on the weather, you may also need to wear your shirt
  2071. >You should probably ask Twilight about that
  2072. "Hey Twilight, what was the temperature like outside?"
  2073. >"A bit cold, but it was still pretty dark out. You should be fine without your shirt."
  2074. >Okay, that's one less thing to worry about
  2075. >Now you just have to get ready
  2076. >You collect your trash and hop off the bed, taking the trash to a bin before doing anything else
  2077. "I don't know about the rest of you, but I want a shower. Anypony mind if I go first?"
  2078. >Chrysalis shrugs and Twilight completely ignores you seeing as how she's ready, but Emerald answers you
  2079. [p]>"Sure, go ahead. I'm going in when you're done, though."[/p]
  2080. >You go into the bathroom and close the door, doing everything you need to as fast as you can to make sure it doesn't take too long
  2081. >Once you're done, you go back out into the room and Emerald goes in to take your place
  2082. >Two down, two to go
  2083. >It takes a while, but everyone is ready on time to go to the castle
  2084. >Chrysalis and Emerald go back under their disguises before you all leave, and you put on your shirt
  2085. >Just because you don't need it doesn't mean you can't wear it anyway
  2086. >Twilight and Chrissy lead the way on the walk while you and Emerald trail behind, having a conversation
  2087. >This conversation isn't anything too crazy, just about what Emerald should expect from the castle
  2088. [p]>"Alright, what happens when we get there?"[/p]
  2089. "Well, I'm guessing that Twilight and your mom are going to see Princess Celestia and we'll be free to do whatever."
  2090. [p]>"Cool, is there anything I should be worried about?"[/p]
  2091. >How long ago was it when you asked Twilight the same question?
  2092. >Not that long ago, but it feels like it's been ages
  2093. "Not much. There are a lot of guards, but you should be fine as long as you don't drop the disguise near them."
  2094. [p]>"Alright. Also, who's the friend you want me to meet? The only ponies who live in the castle here are the princesses."[/p]
  2095. "Well, then it should be easy to figure out who my friend is. Twilight and Chrysalis are seeing Celestia, so who does that leave?"
  2096. >Emerald looks down and thinks for a second before growing a shocked look
  2097. [p]>"You don't mean- do you?"[/p]
  2098. "I [i]do[/i] mean."
  2099. [p]>"Wow..."[/p]
  2100. "Yeah, and you get to meet her too."
  2101. >After that, the conversation changes to another topic as you four continue on to the castle
  2102. >The trip to the castle doesn't take too long, though
  2103. >After another few more minutes, you all are standing at the gates
  2104. >Twilight walks up to the guards and tells them that she's here with you on official business, they let you all pass
  2105. >Twilight then leads the rest of you through the castle until you all arrive in front of the doors to Celestia's throne room
  2106. >When you all get there, she turns around and starts explaining some stuff
  2107. >"Anon, you and Emerald can go explore the castle. Just make sure that you don't lose track of each other and that you're not getting into something you shouldn't, and I'll come find you two when it's all over."
  2108. >Fair enough, you expected this
  2109. >Twilight's not done yet, though
  2110. >She turns to Chrysalis after she's done and explains some more stuff
  2111. >"As for you, just follow my lead when we go in there. Odds are, Celestia isn't going to enjoy the fact that you're here to begin with, but it's necessary for my plan, so just follow my lead and trust me to keep everything under control."
  2112. [o]>"I don't see how you'd expect me to do anything else, so I'll cooperate. Just don't expect me to do anything too crazy, I'll probably get another headache after dropping this disguise."[/o]
  2113. >Okay, Chrysalis is being cooperative too
  2114. >This seems like it's going fairly well so far, you just have to trust Twilight
  2115. >After this, Twilight opens the door to the throne room and she and Chrysalis go inside
  2116. >Looks like it's just down to you and Emerald now
  2117. [p]>"Alright, so now what?"[/p]
  2118. >Silly Emerald, isn't it obvious?
  2119. "Now? Now, we go find Luna."
  2120. >Doing that is easier said than done, as you find out
  2121. >This castle is huge
  2122. >It's huge to the point that it makes Twilight's castle look like a small apartment!
  2123. >This castle may be big, but it's certainly not infinite
  2124. >At least you have a finite space to check
  2125. >Besides, if the worst-case scenario happens then you can probably ask a guard
  2126. >That may not lead to the best result, but at least it will yield [i]a[/i] result
  2127. >Also, since Luna should know you two are here, you could probably just ask a guard to tell her where you two are
  2128. >You start wandering off into the castle with Emerald following close behind on the way to find your friend
  2129. >It takes you two a while, but progress was made
  2130. >You're not sure how much progress, but hopefully positive progress
  2131. >You two made it to the break room!
  2132. >This time it's not empty, though
  2133. >There are a couple of guards doing various things when you open the door, all of them stop when they hear it open
  2134. >Fuck
  2135. >All the guards seem to be just as stunned as you, at the very least
  2136. >A light-gray pegasus stallion is the one who decides to confront you two first, telling the other two that he'll handle it
  2137. >He walks over to the door and opens it completely, revealing Emerald standing behind you
  2138. [o]>"Are you two lost?"[/o]
  2139. >Well, you got yourself into this
  2140. >You might as well get you both out of it
  2141. >Plus, Emerald seems too intimidated to answer
  2142. "Yeah, I don't suppose you could help us out?"
  2143. [o]>"Well, what are you looking for?"[/o]
  2144. "Something tells me that you won't help us get to her, but we're looking for Princess Luna."
  2145. [o]>"You two better have a good reason to see her, I'm sure she's very busy."[/o]
  2146. "Just go tell her that Anonymous is waiting in the breakroom for her, we'll stay here."
  2147. >The guard perks up a bit after hearing your name
  2148. [o]>"Wait- [i]you're[/i] the one who maxed out the Pac-Mare machine three times?"[/o]
  2149. >So your reputation precedes you!
  2150. "As a matter of fact, I am. Now do you believe me?"
  2151. [o]>"I'm still a bit skeptical, but I'll run it by her."[/s]
  2152. >The stallion steps past you two and goes out into the hallway while you and Emerald go into the room to wait
  2153. >Well, now what?
  2154. >You take a seat on the couch and Emerald follows you over, sitting down next to you
  2155. >There's not much to do but wait, sadly
  2156. >The other guards populating the room are doing a few different things yet still keeping an eye on you two, and you have no idea how long it'll be until that pegasus tells Luna that you're here
  2157. >Shit...
  2158. >It doesn't feel good, but you decide to just sit and watch the room in the meantime
  2159. >You can't think of anything to talk about, either
  2160. >At least nothing that you want to risk talking about near a bunch of armed guards, no matter how relaxed and casual they may be right now
  2161. >This may take a while
  2163. >Be Celestia
  2164. >Today is something interesting, to be sure
  2165. >First, you ended up getting three meetings scheduled for today
  2166. >On top of that, they're all within 3 minutes of each other and across the city
  2167. >At least you can teleport, but that still doesn't give you much room for possible unexpected events
  2168. >And speaking of unexpected events...
  2169. >You hear Twilight talking to a few ponies outside
  2170. >One of them you recognize as Anonymous, but the other two?
  2171. >You don't have the faintest idea
  2172. >After some more conversation and what you assume to be Twilight giving orders, you finally hear two of the ponies split off and leave while the throne room door opens
  2173. >Oh boy, what's it about this time?
  2174. >You're not sure, but at least it could be more interesting than signing the 18th paper in a row dealing with possible infrastructure changes or political alliances
  2175. >Maybe some eldritch horror has appeared from its some-arbitrary-number-over-1000 year slumber, and she actually needs your help to beat it!
  2176. >Nah, if she hasn't needed you in this many years, then she probably won't now
  2177. >Odds are, it's more political bullsh-
  2178. >WAIT
  2179. >Did Anonymous manage to convince her to help him with his idea?
  2180. >This isn't what you had hoped for...
  2181. >That would also explain why the mare accompanying Twilight looks eerily like Chrysalis, too
  2182. >Well, let's just see how this goes
  2183. >After the door's closed and secured, Twilight starts talking
  2184. [p]>"Good morning, Princess Celestia. I'm sorry for the short notice, but the matter is urgent and I believe that I have something to contribute to this issue."[/p]
  2185. >Well, let's get this over with
  2186. "I'm listening, but before you start, would you mind confirming the identity of your guest for me?"
  2187. >Twilight looks like she's about to say something, but something else drags your attention away from her as it also confirms your suspicions
  2188. >A green column of magic billows off of the mare standing next to Twilight and reveals a form that you have nothing but disdain and contempt for
  2189. >The queen of the changelings is in your throne room
  2190. >Note to self: step up the guards' training and make sure they aren't slacking off as much
  2191. >After the green column fades, you notice that Chrysalis appears to be mid-collapse
  2192. >However, she manages to catch herself before falling to the floor
  2193. >She regains her footing and stands back up, but she retains a look of discomfort bordering on pain as she says her first words in this room
  2194. [p]>"Princess."[/p]
  2195. >You rise from your seated position and glare at Twilight with every ounce of 'the fuck, dude?' you can muster
  2196. "Twilight, do you mind telling me exactly why you brought [i]her[/i] here?"
  2197. >Twilight stands up even straighter than she was before and explains her reasoning in a calm but firm voice
  2198. >"I thought it would be a good idea to bring her here myself since she could explain her side of the matter better than either Anonymous or me."
  2199. >While she has a good reason, there are still numerous things wrong with the application of this idea
  2200. "And you expected her to come completely peacefully, and without any sort of plan to do anything suspicious while she's here?"
  2201. >Twilight has a response for this, too
  2202. >"To her credit, she's been quite cooperative despite my somewhat hostile welcome, but from what I saw back in the hive and from the fact that Anonymous is the only reason she's alive right now, I'd say she's in no position to try anything."
  2203. "And no other changelings came with her? Are you positive that you weren't followed?"
  2204. >It's at this point that Chrysalis tries to defend herself against your claims
  2205. [p]>"Is this not supposed to be a diplomatic talk? Why would I shoot myself in the hoof by bringing an invasion force of changelings that I neither have nor can spare at this time?"[/p]
  2206. >You turn back towards Chrysalis, still not believing anything she says
  2207. "I know that you have a hive and enough changelings to keep it running. Until I can count each and every one of them myself, I will assume whatever keeps my ponies safest."
  2208. >After you say this, you turn back to Twilight who happens to have a better answer
  2209. >"From what I could tell, we were not followed. No two ponies on both trains from the badlands to Canterlot had the same background aura, and I've learned through experience that Changelings can't hide that."
  2210. >Okay, that's some valuable detail if it can be confirmed
  2211. >If only there was another changeling around here that was willing to help, but you doubt that
  2212. >Since Twilight's dealt with most of your concerns for the time being, now the... 'negotiations'... can begin
  2213. >This day...
  2214. >Wait, Twilight mentioned Anonymous being here
  2215. >This was all his idea, shouldn't he be here to see it happen and make sure it goes over properly?
  2216. >You decide to bring this up as Twilight starts pulling out paperwork and sorting through it
  2217. "Twilight, you mentioned Anonymous being here. Shouldn't he see this through? After all, it was his idea."
  2218. >Twilight immediately freezes at hearing this before putting the papers back and giving you a slightly nervous smile
  2219. >"Of course, let me go get him."
  2220. >She immediately teleports off to somewhere in the castle, leaving you in this room with the closest thing you have to a sworn enemy at this point
  2221. >Your gaze immediately shifts to Chrysalis as your eyes narrow
  2222. >She returns your glare with lidded eyes and raised Eyebrows, but doesn't do anything else
  2223. >Good
  2225. >Be Twilight
  2226. >You managed to get your hoof in the door about explaining your idea to Celestia, but you have to admit, she did have some valid concerns
  2227. >Only a short while ago you were also worried about a few of them, but any worries have been pushed away by your current knowledge of Chrysalis's situation
  2228. >That's not your concern though, now
  2229. >You need to find Anon because Celestia asked for him to be there
  2230. >Let's hope you can find him quickly, you'd prefer to not keep Celestia waiting
  2231. >As you finish teleporting, you find yourself in a hallway
  2232. >If this worked properly, you should be fairly close to Anon already
  2233. >However, a random teleportation doesn't usually have a high rate of success if you're trying to find something- or somepony- specific
  2234. >It also doesn't help that you haven't found any luck-boosting spells any stronger than simply improving the odds you'll win at a card game, so a random teleport may not have been the best idea
  2235. >Well, time to start searching rooms
  2236. >The first room you check is empty
  2237. >So's the second
  2238. >The third doesn't have Anon in it, but it does have a few guards standing... well, guard
  2239. >If Anon's going to be anywhere, he probably isn't going to be near the Arcane Library
  2240. >Breaking in there to get the time travel spell wasn't fun, and if you weren't able to do it easily, there's no way he would
  2241. >Yeah, he's not in there
  2242. >Time to look elsewhere?
  2243. >You step back out into the hall to continue searching for Anonymous when you get stopped by another guard behind you
  2244. >He's a light-gray pegasus and looks like he has something to say to you
  2245. >"Excuse me, Princess Twilight? Do you happen to be looking for Anonymous?"
  2246. >Well then!
  2247. >An unexpected turn of events, but not an unwelcome one!
  2248. "Actually, I am. Do you know where she is?"
  2249. >"Yeah, she and her friend said they were going to wait in the break room while I went to go tell Princess Luna that they're here. I'm on my way to tell her, but I'm pretty sure that if you're looking for her, then that's more important."
  2250. "Alright, thank you; I'll go get her now."
  2251. >Before the pegasus can get another word out, you teleport off to the break room
  2252. >You can't leave Celestia waiting for too long, after all
  2253. >Not wasting any more time, you find yourself in the break room directly in front of Anon and Emerald
  2254. "Anon, Celestia wants to see you in the throne room now. Come over here and-"
  2255. >He interrupts you before you can continue your sentence and speaks his mind about what you're saying
  2256. [o]>"Wait, wait, wait! I just got here and Luna could be showing up any second! Why do I need to go to the throne room?"[/o]
  2257. >Everypony in the room is now staring at the two of you
  2258. >This isn't comfortable or time-efficient, you need to speed this up if you can
  2259. >You haven't disappointed Celestia yet, and you don't want to start now by not even getting Anon to his own negotiations!
  2260. "You know exactly why and I'm sure Luna won't mind if you aren't here when she gets here."
  2261. >Anon sighs and gets up off the couch after you finish, but not before giving a reply
  2262. [o]>"Okay, but you're bringing me back here after I'm done there."[/o]
  2263. "Deal."
  2264. >As Anon walks over to you, he faces back towards Emerald and makes a final statement
  2265. [o]>"When Luna gets here, please tell her that Celestia needed me and to wait here with you."[/o]
  2266. >Emerald nods as you begin the teleportation spell, bringing you back to Celestia and Chrysalis
  2267. >Let's hope things are still alright there
  2269. >Be Anonymous
  2270. >Apparently Twilight did need you in the throne room
  2271. >This was unexpected
  2272. >It looks like you getting to meet Luna IRL is going to have to wait for a bit
  2273. >Twilight teleports you both to the throne room as soon as you're next to her in a flash of purple
  2274. >When it clears from your vision, you see Chrysalis out from under her disguise and Celestia casting her a sideways glance
  2275. >That changes when they both realize that Twilight's back with you
  2276. >You decide to break the silence (that you presume was there since Twilight left, judging by Chrissy and Tia's standing relationship) in the most business-casual way you can think of
  2277. "I'm here now, what do you need?"
  2278. >Celestia answers you in a much more formal tone than the one you just used
  2279. [p]>"I requested your presence because I thought you should preside over the negotiations."[/p]
  2280. >It takes you a few seconds to run the sentence through your mental translator, but not too long passes before you fully grasp the meaning behind the unexpected intricacy of the sentence
  2281. >Was Celestia this formal with you before?
  2282. >Nah, she was too interested in seeing exactly what you were
  2283. >What you are, you're still a human regardless of your external appearance!
  2284. >Anyway, back to more important matters
  2285. >You come to a statement that you think will allow things to continue without you needing to be mentally present
  2286. "I shall preside over the negotiations, but shall do so without interruption. I don't want to interrupt anything that I don't have experience with, but I WILL make sure that a proper deal is made. Do all parties present understand?"
  2287. >Twilight and Chrysalis respond first, both of them agreeing to your terms
  2288. >Celestia doesn't take long to respond either, though
  2289. [p]>"Understood."[/p]
  2290. "Good. Begin the negotiations!"
  2291. >Despite your efforts to zone out and do other mental things, you remain at least partially in the room with the other three
  2292. >It seems that your ploy worked, nonetheless
  2293. >Everything being discussed seems of fair conditions for a mutual treaty
  2294. >Chrysalis and the changelings under her will receive protection from Equestria's armed forces in exchange for ending all hostilities and the donation of 10% of the ores they pull out of the ground
  2295. >Celestia and the rest of Equestria will receive the benefits of additional changeling horsepower and an ally with near-limitless potential in exchange for the assurance that Chrysalis and every queen after her is allowed to carry out necessary actions to sustain her hive
  2296. >You're not sure how Twilight and Chrysalis managed to convince Celestia of that last one, but they did it
  2297. >It must've been some sort of mind game or something
  2298. >Point is, it happened and odds are it'll be one of the conditions on the paperwork that Twilight's in the process of writing
  2299. >Also, to improve the public's reception of this idea, Chrysalis agreed to give a public apology and pay 50% of the metals that they've pulled from the ground and refined
  2300. >According to some mental calculations and estimates from Twilight, that amount would come out to just under 20 million bits' worth
  2301. >After everything's agreed on and Twilight finishes collecting signatures from everypony present, you snap back to reality completely
  2302. >Following this event, you immediately turn your attention to Twilight to ask the all-important question
  2303. "Hey Twilight, now that everything important is done, can you teleport me back to the break room?"
  2304. >She turns towards you and replies with the answer you were waiting for
  2305. >"Yes, just give me a second to put these papers away."
  2306. >True to her word, Twilight puts the papers back in her bag and charges up another teleportation spell
  2307. >A purple flash overtakes your vision as you transport back to the guards' break room, hoping that Luna's still there with Emerald
  2308. >Once it's all cleared up and you can see your surroundings, you quickly sweep the room
  2309. >The couch?
  2310. >Empty
  2311. >Nopony's over near the cabinets
  2312. >The fridge is closed, too
  2313. >Even the Pac-Mare machine's deserted!
  2314. >Where is everypony?
  2315. >Feeling more than mildly annoyed and at least slightly defeated, you flop down onto the couch as best you can
  2316. >Thanks, purple.
  2317. >When your back hits the seat of the couch though, you feel something that doesn't feel like fabric
  2318. >More like paper, actually
  2319. >Well, it's uncomfortable and distracting to lay on top of, so let's see what it is
  2320. >You fish the piece of paper out from under yourself and decide to look at it
  2321. >Well, this is handy!
  2322. >Luna may have taken Emerald and left, but at least she left you something to help you find her!
  2323. >"Dear Anonymous,"
  2324. >"I apologize for not waiting here like you asked, but knowing my sister, that meeting was going to take a long time and I thought it would be more comfortable for your friend and me to wait in my room. I hope this isn't too much of an inconvenience for you, and to make it easier for you, I enclosed directions to my room from where you are now."
  2325. >Under Luna's second sentence you see a series of written directions
  2326. >These are simple enough, you should be able to follow these
  2327. >You walk out of the break room with the letter clutched in one hoof, barely keeping hold of it just well enough to read it
  2328. >Into the hall, take a left, up these stairs, down these other stairs, find that intersection and take the third right, etc...
  2329. >You make it through all the directions in a matter of minutes, eventually coming to the final stretch
  2330. >"... Finally, you should come across a large spiral staircase. Climb it."
  2331. >You look up from the letter to see a step
  2332. >You continue looking up, trying to track just how far up you'll be going
  2333. >You can't see the top
  2334. >At least not well
  2335. >Well, nopony ever said that navigating a castle would be easy...
  2336. >With a sigh, you begin climbing the staircase
  2337. >Luckily for you, it turns out that the staircase wasn't as tall as you thought
  2338. >5 or 6 stories maybe, so definitely not short either
  2339. >When you get to the top, you encounter a door
  2340. >It's a closed door with a picture of a crescent moon on it
  2341. >Yep, this is Luna's room
  2342. >You also hear some conversation happening inside, but it's muffled through it
  2343. >Might as well knock, you don't want to be rude
  2344. >Knocking to the tune of nothing in particular, you immediately hear a set of hooves start walking towards the door
  2345. >A few seconds later, Luna opens the door and looks down at you
  2346. >"Anonymous?"
  2347. "The very same, how are you?"
  2348. >"I'm quite alright, how about you?"
  2349. >As Luna says this, she moves aside to let you in
  2350. >When you're inside the room, you see Emerald sitting in a chair in the corner
  2351. >She waves at you and you wave back as you reply
  2352. "I'm not too bad wither. You two getting along well?"
  2353. >"Yes, we are."
  2354. >Luna lays down on her bed and Emerald scoots over enough for you to join her on the chair comfortably
  2355. >After everypony's in their spots, things continue about as you expected
  2356. >You three end up having a fun conversation and everything goes smoothly
  2357. >After a while, you all hear another knock at the door
  2358. >Luna goes to answer it, and when she opens the door, you all see Twilight and Chrysalis back under her own disguise
  2359. >Looks like it's time to go home
  2360. >You begrudgingly follow Twilight out after saying goodbye to Luna, your slight disappointment apparent to them both
  2361. >It may have been fun, but that conversation left much to be desired
  2362. >You never even got to any of the expected topics in the, what, like... half-hour you were up there?
  2363. >Wow, that was short too!
  2364. >Well, at least you got to see your two friends in this world interact together a bit
  2365. >Speaking of your friends, Emerald's asking what Twilight dragged you away for
  2366. [p]>"So, why did Twilight need you in the throne room with her and Mom?"[/p]
  2367. >How to explain this in a good way...
  2368. >That wouldn't work
  2369. >That would give away the fact that you're an alien
  2370. >That... That may actually work
  2371. >Let's hope it does!
  2372. "Remember how the only reason that your mom and Twilight stopped fighting was the fact that I stopped them? Well, Twilight was hoping I could do a similar thing with Celestia."
  2373. >Emerald turns back to forward, her disguise's blue eyes pointed downwards in thought
  2374. >She eventually turns back towards you with a slightly confused look and replies in a way that makes you slightly nervous
  2375. [p]>"That just raises more questions! I'm going to ask you those later though, I don't want you to have to tell me anything possibly secret in public."[/p]
  2376. >That's good, you don't have to worry about more than just your friend the changeling learning that she's not the only one under a type of disguise
  2377. >Wait, Emerald's talking again
  2378. >You should probably listen
  2379. [p]>"Anyway, whatever you did seems to have worked. Mom doesn't look as worried as she did before and Twilight hasn't acted hostile since... This morning, now that I think of it. Anyway, my point is, that was pretty impressive! Maybe you'll get your cutie mark in... whatever you did."[/p]
  2380. >Getting your cutie mark for doing human things?
  2381. >That sounds kinda stupid, but eh
  2382. >It could be worse
  2383. >Huh, that brought up an interesting idea in your head
  2384. "You know, that got me thinking. Cutie marks are supposed to be this all-important thing that governs exactly what you'll do for the rest of your life, but I haven't heard more than some spare talk and whatever Ms. Cheerilee has taught me about them. Isn't that a bit funny?"
  2385. [p]>"Yeah, that is an interesting thing. It seems like it should be talked about more since it's also a magical birthmark that only shows up once you figure out what you're good at, but nope."[/p]
  2386. >This conversation continues down through the castle as you all head back to the hotel, the day's major doings being done and past
  2387. >You four stop to get dinner on the way back, but it's nothing special
  2388. >After another uneventful meal, you're all back at the hotel
  2389. >While Twilight and Chrysalis iron out some final legal details that weren't necessary in the throne room, you decide to chat with Emerald a bit
  2390. >Mainly because there isn't much else to do, but also to see what you missed in the time you weren't with her and Luna
  2391. "So, what did I miss while I was stuck doing political things?"
  2392. [p]>"Quite a bit, actually. I had a few questions for Luna about herself, and she had a few for me, and apparently she knew I was a changeling, too. Did you do that?"[/p]
  2393. >Caught red-handed
  2394. >Or is it red-hooved?
  2395. >Does it even matter?
  2396. >No, no it doesn't
  2397. "You caught me. I told her about you and what you are during the night before we left during a dream that she visited me in."
  2398. [p]>"First, why did you do that when ponies haven't exactly liked us apparently up until now and second, how many times has she visited you in your dreams?"[/p]
  2399. >You can answer these questions, but something tells you that you aren't getting out of this with any secrets intact
  2400. >Well, let's just see how well Emerald can handle what you have to say
  2401. >That is, if you even have to say it
  2402. >Maybe she forgot about the conversation you two had walking out of the castle by now...
  2403. "One, Luna was the first princess I convinced to help me with this whole thing. Two, she's been visiting me consistently for a couple weeks."
  2404. >Emerald's face initially shows a look of understanding, but it soon ebbs away to reveal another look of confusion
  2405. >Oh boy, something tells you that this conversation is only just getting started
  2406. [p]>"Why has she been visiting you that frequently? From my loose understanding of her job, she said that she doesn't usually visit foals and even less often does she visit them more than once."[/p]
  2407. >Let's see, how can you explain this without possibly redirecting the conversation towards her earlier inquiry?
  2408. >Uhmmm...
  2409. >Yeah, that might work
  2410. "She visited me in a dream after hearing about what I did during my first visit to Canterlot and we hit it off quite well."
  2411. [p]>"Oh yeah, that happened. What was it that you did, anyway? Well, what you did to get Luna's attention as well as what you did to get a trip to Canterlot."[/p]
  2412. >This is going too far!
  2413. >You've already revealed your true identity to four beings in this world, and you were completely naked for two of them
  2414. >While you're not completely naked right now, your light-green fur still does little to hide the mild blush and the small beads of sweat beginning to form
  2415. >Let's hope Emerald's perception check fails
  2416. "W-well, I managed to get three different high-scores on the Pac-Mare machine to get Luna's attention and Twilight brought me with her on some of her important business."
  2417. >That first stutter may have given you away, but you managed to suppress the rest
  2418. >Ah, wait...
  2419. >Nope, Emerald's not buying that at all
  2420. >In fact, she seems to be mildly concerned about your well-being from the growing look on her face
  2421. [p]>"Anonymous, are you alright? You don't look very comfortable with this, I should probably stop asking if you don't want to answer truthfully."[/p]
  2422. >Yeah, she caught you in a lie
  2423. >That only makes you go even redder though, and Emerald definitely notices that
  2424. >Her concern only grows as she starts glancing at Twilight, probably debating whether or not to tell her about your current status
  2425. >Should you tell her?
  2426. >God no
  2427. >If Twilight found out, you'd get your ass kicked
  2428. >If Emerald accidentally exposed you somehow, then it'd put both of you at risk from nasty third parties
  2429. >But if you tell her now, then you won't have to worry about what'll happen later
  2430. >Also, she [i]has[/i] already told you about her biggest secret (at least when you didn't know changelings were spying on you)
  2431. >However, her secret would've only gotten her killed; not locked up and experimented on until she died, or something
  2432. >After some more internal debate and some efforts to get your heart rate under control, your mind brings up a memory from back in Chrysalis's hive
  2433. >Particularly, a conversation with Spinneret back when you first got there
  2434. >You seem to recall her saying that Emerald wasn't very good at handling sensitive information
  2435. >Okay brain, you did something good for once!
  2436. >Yeah, it probably wouldn't be the best idea to tell Emerald until she's ready for this level of secret
  2437. >You return to the world around you, now sound in your decision, as you feel the blood content of your face return to normal
  2438. >Looks like you came back just in time to stop Emerald from getting Twilight, too!
  2439. >As she gets up, you plant a hoof on her shoulder to bring her attention back to you
  2440. >This works as intended and Emerald returns to a seated position in front of you
  2441. "I'm fine, you don't need to get Twilight."
  2442. >Emerald looks relieved for a moment before getting back her confused look
  2443. >Oh boy
  2444. >However, you find that it's for a different reason
  2445. [p]>"Is it really that big of a secret that you can't tell me?"[/p]
  2446. >How to say this easily...
  2447. >Fuck it, you'll wing it
  2448. "Well... Back in the hive, Spinneret told me that you weren't the best with secrets."
  2449. >Emerald scrunches up her face, now looking mildly annoyed
  2450. [p]>"I'm not bad with secrets and I can prove it!"[/p]
  2451. "Alright, prove it."
  2452. [p]>"I kept the fact that I was a changeling secret, didn't I?"[/p]
  2453. "You kept it a secret until you ran up to me without a disguise and told me who you were."
  2454. [p]>"That didn't matter, we were already back at the hive by then."[/p]
  2455. "Okay, I guess I was wrong about that. I apologize, but that still doesn't change the fact that I'm not comfortable in the slightest with telling anyone this secret."
  2456. >Emerald changes from looking dejected to looking less upset
  2457. [p]>"If it really makes you that uncomfortable to think about, then I'll stop asking; I don't want to put you under any pressure."[/p]
  2458. >This takes a massive weight off your chest, making you feel better too
  2459. "Thanks, that was making me a bit stressed. Anyway, what do we do now?"
  2460. >So after a bit more conversation and eventually finding a way to kill time and energy, everypony decides to call it a night and go to sleep
  2461. >. . .
  2462. >Once again, your dream mirrors the events of the previous day
  2463. >You find yourself in the US Senate Chamber all alone, but it doesn't take long for you to get some company
  2464. >When Luna appears, she materializes in a chair near you but also facing away from you
  2465. >This gives her an excuse to take a fairly long look at her surroundings when she turns to face you
  2466. >While she's still looking around, you decide to ask her a question
  2467. "Would you like to know where we are?"
  2468. >She turns around, a bit surprised at first, but nods as she continues looking around the room
  2469. "This is the US Senate Chamber, one of the most important rooms in my home country."
  2470. >After Luna's finished looking around, she asks a question of her own
  2471. >"Is this senate some sort of legislative body?"
  2472. "Yes it is, and it's the most powerful one in the country."
  2473. >"Oh joy; I've had to deal with those before, it's never fun."
  2474. "Yeah, this one back home doesn't usually get much done but that's not necessarily a bad thing sometimes."
  2475. >Luna looks at you with a confused expression before questioning the meaning of your statement
  2476. >"It's not a bad thing when your government gets nothing done?"
  2477. "Well, remember how I said that human governments aren't as straight-forward as your governments? Sometimes they try to get away with screwing over the general population."
  2478. >Luna looks mildly stunned at this, but soon responds
  2479. >"Again, I feel sorry for you."
  2480. "You really shouldn't, it sounds worse than it actually is. Most of the time, things aren't that bad. At the end of the day, life goes on and almost nothing really changes from what's already happened."
  2481. >She shrugs, seeming to accept your indifference, and changes the subject
  2482. >"So, I heard the negotiations went well?"
  2483. "Everything that needed to happen happened, the changelings are now under Equestria's protection, everything seems alright; it really did go over better than I expected."
  2484. >"Celestia didn't give you any trouble?"
  2485. "Nah, she made sure to keep things fair. Plus, I don't think Twilight would've let any sort of political screwing over happen on either side."
  2486. >"That's good, what were the terms?"
  2487. "Chrysalis has to make a public apology and fork over some reparations as well as a certain number of resources per amount they gain in exchange for protection and the ability to mingle with pony society somewhat freely."
  2488. >"And about Chrysalis's need for..."
  2489. >Luna trails off a bit here, but you got the idea
  2490. "I don't recall anything being mentioned directly, but she seemed satisfied with the results of the meeting so I'm guessing it's taken care of."
  2491. >"Alright."
  2492. >You two spend a bit longer looking around the room and admiring the detail before getting up to explore around, and you two spend the rest of the dream doing things that would normally be considered childish with all the important looking things around
  2493. >. . .
  2494. >The trip home the next day was nothing to write about, and nothing interesting happened on the train this time
  2495. >When you got back though, this was where everything started going back to normal
  2496. >Chrysalis and Emerald stay for one more night before going back to their hive the next day, but you couldn't accompany them because you had school
  2497. >You're more than a bit miffed that you couldn't even see them off, but you do still have a facade to keep up
  2498. >Besides, with the easing tensions between Equestria and Chrysalis's changelings, you'll probably get to see more of them at some point
  2499. >With these thoughts holding your mind during most[s] actually all[/s] of Ms. Cheerilee's lectures, you drift through school without many problems
  2500. >When you get back to the castle afterwards, though, Twilight says she has a surprise for you
  2501. >A surprise?
  2502. >Well, it could be a bit interesting
  2503. "What is it?"
  2504. >"Follow me down to the lab and I'll show you."
  2505. >The lab?
  2506. >This could be pretty cool!
  2507. >You follow Twilight down to the lab, noticing that she doesn't take off her bag
  2508. >Along the way, you two pass by Spike doing some housework
  2509. "Hey Spike, we're back!"
  2510. >The small dragon stops what he was doing to accompany you two on the walk as you all continue
  2511. [o]>"Hey Anon! Sorry, but I forgot to ask you yesterday: how was the trip?"[/o]
  2512. "It was pretty alright, we accomplished everything we needed to and I accomplished a bit of what I wanted to. How was everything back here?"
  2513. [o]>"Boring, but at least it was all pretty easy to manage. Anyway, what's going on now?"[/o]
  2514. >This is when Twilight steps in
  2515. >"I'm bringing Anon down to the lab to make sure that her nose is recovering properly, nothing too interesting."
  2516. [o]>"Oh. I guess that means I should get back to sweeping?"[/o]
  2517. >"It certainly wouldn't be a bad idea."
  2518. >Spike shrugs before saying a final statement
  2519. [o]>"Well, I guess I'll see you both after."[/o]
  2520. >You wave to him as you and Twilight continue on without him to the lab
  2521. >The rest of the walk to the lab happens without interruption, all while you ponder just what Twilight has for you
  2522. >What could it be?
  2523. >If you two are going all the way to the lab, then it's probably something science-y
  2524. >She also lied to Spike about what's happening, so it's probably something human-y
  2525. >But what?
  2526. >As you hear the large doors slide open effortlessly, you stop pondering in favor of finding out
  2527. >Twilight leads you past plenty of different sights, some being familiar and others being new
  2528. >Past the engineering area, into a place that seems more equipped for astronomy, and even farther to a separate area which stirs a memory from a few weeks ago
  2529. >Is this where you came through into Equestria?
  2530. >Twilight leads you over to a nearby table and lifts over a bag, placing it onto the table
  2531. "Alright, so what's the surprise?"
  2532. >She turns around, opening the bag up and revealing a few different items
  2533. >A chunk of crystal about the size of your head
  2534. >A jar with a nozzle on top containing some presumably magical fire
  2535. >A few other miscellaneous and less-identifiable items as well
  2536. >"I now have everything necessary to get you back home!"
  2537. >So that's what all that is
  2538. >All the same, a mix of feelings wash over you
  2539. >Excitement, relief, concern, worry, and even some melancholy all cross your mind in the space of a second
  2540. >On one hand, you're one step closer to getting home!
  2541. >On another, you still don't know how many steps there will be, or if there's even an end to it
  2542. >But you're closer to seeing your family again!
  2543. >But what will they think if they knew what happened to you?
  2544. >Also, leaving to go home means you'll never get to see the friends you made here again...
  2545. >Twilight notices your concern and walks over to put a hoof around you
  2546. >"What's up? I thought you would be more excited."
  2547. >You take a moment to collect your thoughts and promptly shove them into some other corner of your mind for the time being
  2548. "I don't know... I mean, don't get me wrong, this is great, but..."
  2549. >"Are you having some doubts about leaving?"
  2550. >Well, now that she already guessed it
  2551. "Yeah."
  2552. >"Then don't worry! Your family will be happy to have you back!"
  2553. "I know, but what about everypony here? I'm sure Emerald and Spike would miss me, and I know I'd miss all of you."
  2554. >Twilight removes her hoof from around you and sits beside you to think
  2555. >After a few seconds, she looks over at your face and apparently gets an idea
  2556. >"You're in luck, then. I can't turn you back into a human until your nose is healed, and I can't exactly send you back as you are now, either. You still have a while to decide before you have to make any permanent decisions."
  2557. >You nod as you take this information in, your conflicted expression changing to a thoughtful one
  2558. "True, true. Also, didn't you say that there's no guarantee that I could even go back on the first try back when you first promised to get me home?"
  2559. >Twilight thinks back to that moment for a second before answering your question
  2560. >"I did, but I'm not so sure that that's the case anymore."
  2561. >...
  2562. >Huh?
  2563. >When did this become something that shouldn't be too hard?
  2564. >Well, Twilight notices the very obvious confusion now dominating your expression and elaborates
  2565. >"The reason I say that is because in the instant the portal was open, a piece of my equipment built to detect electromagnetic radiation picked up a very specific set of background radiation emanating from the portal. After some analysis, I figured out that the radiation was part of the microwave background of your universe, though it was remarkably similar to the energy released during the portal's creation. This is the part when it gets into some more theory, but it shouldn't be too complicated for you to understand."
  2566. >Twilight takes a break here to let what she said sink in and continues once you stop staring into the distance like a lost puppy
  2567. >"What I'm thinking is that the way I generated the portal may have an effect on what universe it connects to, and if I can figure out how it connects, then I should be able to replicate the conditions that got you here and get you home with little to no trial and error."
  2568. >That would certainly help, and it would give you a choice with less risk involved if it worked
  2569. >However, you might have found a problem
  2570. "Do you have enough of everything to prove or disprove your idea, though?"
  2571. >Twilight looks back into her bag and over everything that she has in there before turning back to you
  2572. >"There's enough in there for multiple trials if I properly divide up all the materials, especially now that I've figured out a more efficient way of doing it all. If there isn't, though, I can always ask Celestia for some more."
  2573. >Looks like Twilight has everything covered for this, then
  2574. "Okay, one last question: how long will it take you to figure this out?"
  2575. >"It should only take a few tests to get a sufficient answer to work with, if that's what you're asking."
  2576. "I was thinking more about a number of days, but I guess that works."
  2577. >"If you're asking days, it shouldn't take more than a week."
  2578. >Well, all your questions are answered for now
  2579. >You guess you should start thinking about this, but something almost immediately distracts you
  2580. >An audible gurgle resonates from your midsection, telling you that you should probably get something to eat
  2581. >Lunch must have not been enough...
  2582. "Hey uh, you mind if I go get some food while I start thinking about this?"
  2583. >"Not at all! I think I'll come with you, actually; I haven't had lunch yet."
  2584. >You and Twilight both climb the stairs to get something to eat as you begin to ponder what you need to about this fresh dilemma put in front of you
  2585. >Through lunch and even on into the afternoon, this question remains firm in your mind and you think long and hard about the pros and cons of both sides
  2586. >However, the longer you think the more you worry that you would make a mistake with whatever you chose
  2587. >Contrary to what you told Twilight all that time ago, you didn't have many friends where you came from
  2588. >You preferred to spend your time at home and on your computer, where you frequented imageboards and other locales where you could hide yourself behind a fake name or even near-complete anonymity
  2589. >Sure, the people you interacted with on those sites you called your friends, but would they really notice your disappearance?
  2590. >However, you knew who WOULD notice your disappearance, and who no-doubt has by now
  2591. >Your family
  2592. >The people who raised you from birth, put you through school, and put up with your shit no matter what
  2593. >Would it really be fair to them to just drop out of the world entirely, never to return?
  2594. >Obviously not
  2595. >But...
  2596. >Would it be fair to all the friends you have now, especially after all you've done with and for them, to just leave them?
  2597. >It would be especially rude to Emerald, seeing as how you're quite possibly her only friend
  2598. >All that trust she put into you, all that she (and Chrysalis) did to make you feel welcome in the hive, would the best way to reward that really be to cut off all contact with her?
  2599. >No, it wouldn't!
  2600. >Eventually, you get so wrapped up in thought that Twilight has to physically drag you to your room after you started to fall alseep on a couch
  2601. >Maybe Luna could help you figure out what to do?
  2602. >In hopes that your new idea pays off, you calm your mind down to fall asleep faster
  2603. >. . .
  2604. >When you finally fall into that sweet spot of sleep where your dreams can take shape, you notice something prominent about it
  2605. >It seems that every wall of the otherwise fairly small room is covered in pictures, clippings of text, red string, and pins holding it all together
  2606. >Upon closer inspection, each picture and blurb of text is somehow related to a memory of yours and the decision you have to make
  2607. >Unfortunately, not even your subconscious is able to help you with it since both sides of the argument are relatively balanced
  2608. >In the end, you decide to just summon in a couple of chairs and wait for Luna anyway
  2609. >After a few more moments, your patience is rewarded as she appears in the chair that you aren't currently occupying
  2610. >She takes a moment to look around the room and work out the surroundings before turning to you and speaking
  2611. >"What's with the red string and newspaper clippings? It looks like there's some organization, but I can't follow it all when it stretches around the entire room."
  2612. "Well, to explain that, I'm going to have to tell you about today."
  2613. >"We have all night, go ahead."
  2614. >You begin recalling the day's events to Luna, skipping over the non-essential bits like school, and observing her reaction as you go on
  2615. >Her expression doesn't change much throughout your explanation, but she does nod a few times at certain parts
  2616. >Once you're finished with telling her everything, you decide to finish it all off with one last statement
  2617. "Now that you know what's going on, can you help me with this decision?"
  2618. >Luna shakes her head before putting a hoof on your shoulder and voicing her response
  2619. >"Though it is a hard decision to make, I can't help you make it. I don't know your life like you do, so I wouldn't be able to weigh the options properly. The best I can do is to offer support for whichever you decide to choose."
  2620. >You sigh as the full weight of this dilemma collapses around you, no longer supported by any but yourself
  2621. >This is all on you
  2622. >Whichever you choose, family or friends, it will be you who has to choose it
  2623. >You feel yourself slump down further into the chair as your train of thought kicks back in with renewed vigor, desperately trying to find some flaw in one side or the other that will give you your answer
  2624. >However, as soon as it starts, it's stopped by Luna getting up and walking in front of you
  2625. >As you lift your head to match her gaze, she starts talking
  2626. >"Don't worry yourself too much, you'll just think that you made the wrong decision and end up punishing yourself for it. No matter what, everything will turn out as it should; I'm 100% sure of that."
  2627. "But what if I do end up making the wrong choice? This is my entire life we're talking about, not what I should eat for lunch!"
  2628. >"The only wrong decision you could make here is how to approach this, and you've already done that. Would you like to know how I know everything will be fine?"
  2629. >That has to be bait
  2630. >Then again, you've always enjoyed taking bait
  2631. >Plus, this could actually end up helping you somehow
  2632. >You sit up straighter and cross your arms in a show of skepticism before responding
  2633. "Alright, I'll bite. How do you know?"
  2634. >Luna sits back in her chair before beginning to explain her thoughts
  2635. >"How long have you been here so far?"
  2636. "About a month, I think."
  2637. >"About a month? Then you've already set yourself up well here if you decide to stay, and your family's already well on the path to accepting your disappearance. Also, your time spent here is still short enough to go back and most likely resume your life should you choose to leave."
  2638. "Alright, so what happens to everyone here that I've already made friends with?"
  2639. >"If they know what's going to happen, then I'm certain that they won't hold going back to your family against you. It'll be sad for a while, and I might have to find some other way to spend my free time, but none of that will be permanent."
  2640. >Luna then gives you a warm smile and waits for your response
  2641. >While her words of encouragement haven't helped much on their own, it's at least convinced you to slow down on the anxious thinking
  2642. >Also, like Twilight said, you've got time!
  2643. >You don't have to immediately make this decision, it won't make it happen any faster
  2644. >You uncross your arms and give Luna a smile in return before speaking
  2645. "You got me. I'm still pretty concerned about this whole thing, but I'll try to worry less about it and I won't overthink it."
  2646. >Luna shrugs after hearing what you say, but continues to smile, nonetheless
  2647. >"Does that mean that you're not going to freak out about it anymore?"
  2648. "It's not a guarantee, but I'll remember what you said if it ever happens again."
  2649. >With all the important stuff out of the way, you decide to switch the dreamscape over to something more interesting
  2650. >In a new and more interesting place, you and Luna spend the rest of the dream having fun
  2651. >. . .
  2652. >Your morning starts off fairly normal, and everything goes as you expect up until Ms. Cheerilee gets to the morning's announcements
  2653. >You tune out most of it to keep thinking about your upcoming choice, but something she says catches your interest
  2654. >"... And there will also be a field trip next week where we will be traveling to Canterlot. While we're there, we will tour the royal castle and even be able to observe history being made!"
  2655. >The rest of the class seemed fairly bored too, but they all soon matched your level of attention at the mention of history making
  2656. >A filly somewhere between you and the left wall raises her hoof like she has a question and Cheerilee calls on her
  2657. [p]>"What do you mean by 'history being made'?"[/p]
  2658. >Cheerilee responds almost immediately after the filly finishes her question, like she expected such a question to be asked
  2659. >that filly just got baited
  2660. >"I'm glad you asked! If you haven't heard from your parents already, something happened in Canterlot recently between Princess Celestia and Queen Chrysalis of the changelings that has resulted in a new peace treaty being signed, so I decided to move up the yearly trip to Canterlot to next week so we could see the public presentation."
  2661. >Wow, you got to mediate the negotiations and now you get the opportunity to see it finished?
  2662. >Maybe you wouldn't be so terrible in politics
  2663. >You make a mental note to tell Twilight about this before taking your morning nap as Cheerilee moves on in the announcements
  2664. >Your nap is uneventful and dreamless (for once), and you wake up when the bell rings for recess
  2665. >Recess is pretty boring as well without Emerald around, so you spend most of it looking around and watching the various birds that stop by and pretending not to notice when other foals occasionally come within 10 feet of you
  2666. >The rest of it, you spend watching passersby who are going about their daily business as adults
  2667. >When the bell rings, you head back inside and go back to thinking about your predicament in a much more calm and collected way
  2668. >As you ponder the situation further and piece together a fuzzy idea of what you should do, history rolls around and you're forced to pay attention to class again
  2669. >It's a fairly boring lesson about nothing that special, some historical figure does something mildly interesting that in almost no way affects you or anyone else in the room but is still important
  2670. >You take notes and do all that other stuff that you need to to remember it for a future test and then go back to what you were thinking about
  2671. >Now, where were you?
  2672. >Oh, right, still just about where you were when you started
  2673. >This isn't getting any easier to figure out and you're not getting any further from the fateful day, but you still have plenty of time
  2674. >You're also starting to feel the telltale signs of stress creeping up on you, so you decide to stop thinking about your decision for now and think about the recent news
  2675. >You're definitely telling Twilight about the field trip and asking her to go, you always like getting to see your handiwork appreciated
  2676. >You also can't see any reason why she wouldn't let you go
  2677. >She may have to go herself, though, so you may be going whether you like it or not
  2678. >Does Twilight even hold the political power necessary to force her presence at the event?
  2679. >All these thoughts filter through your mind one after another as you continue to sit at your desk and lazily pen down whatever goes on the board up until the lunch bell rings and you're snapped out of your stupor
  2680. >You filter outside with your lunch in tow and your mind still full of thoughts
  2681. >Your lunch goes down slowly as you spend your time watching the world around you, but it's still completely gone before the bell rings to go back inside
  2682. >After all that's over and you're back inside, you rip through whatever writing tasks Cheerilee has for the class so you can go back to something that you have been severely neglecting
  2683. >You pull out the most recent piece of paper detailing your events here, scanning it to refresh you on where you left off, before resuming your self-imposed assignment
  2684. >You rip through it as fast as your hoof can move, putting down day after day of information through hoof cramps and broken pencils
  2685. >Eventually, about the time when you started writing down bits about the train ride to the diplomatic meeting, the bell rings for you to go home
  2686. >You pack up your stuff and walk out the door, collecting your thoughts and feelings about what you've done and heard today, and walk back to the shining castle at the edge of town
  2687. >It's not a long walk and you make it back with no problems
  2688. >Once inside, you go put away your stuff and go off to find Twilight
  2689. >You don't have to look very hard, she's down in the lab if those science-y noises aren't just your ears messing with you
  2690. >You walk your way down the winding staircase shrouded in a purple glow until you find those two giant doors
  2691. >Pressing your ear to one of them, you can definitely hear that science is happening in there
  2692. >Now, how to get in?
  2693. >Or should you even try?
  2694. >As far as you know, it's completely sealed to you
  2695. >...
  2696. >.....
  2697. >.......
  2698. >Well, you might as well wait
  2699. >After all, you'd rather not push your luck
  2700. >You sit down outside the laboratory after knocking on the door a few times
  2701. >It gets pretty boring after a while, but Spike eventually shows up for some reason
  2702. [o]>"Hey Anon, why are you down here?"[/o]
  2703. "Waiting for Twilight. How about you?"
  2704. [o]>"I'm just checking in. You weren't in any of your usual spots, so I guessed you'd go looking for Twilight and I was right."[/o]
  2705. "Any particular reason? I appreciate the concern, but why?"
  2706. [o]>"I'm bored and I heard you come in."[/o]
  2707. "Oh. Sorry, but I'm not really doing anything interesting in case you couldn't tell."
  2708. [o]>"Well, you can at least tell me why you're waiting for Twilight outside the lab."[/o]
  2709. "Ms. Cheerilee said something about a field trip today that's happening over the weekend and I wanted to ask her about it."
  2710. [o]>"Let me guess, the Canterlot trip?"[/o]
  2711. "Yeah, how'd you know?"
  2712. [o]>"Sweetie Belle's told me about it over the years. Why is it happening now, though?"[/o]
  2713. "Something something politics, something something history."
  2714. [o]>"And I'd be willing to bet all the money Twilight doesn't pay me that it had something to do with Chrysalis."[/o]
  2715. "Well, conglaturation! You're winner!"
  2716. >Spike turns towards you with a very confused look on his face when he hears that trainwreck of a reference to something he doesn't even know about
  2717. "It's a reference."
  2718. [o]>"... Anyway, did anything else happen at school?"[/o]
  2719. "Nah, it was pretty boring. Cheerilee gave us information, we wrote it down, and there wasn't much that I didn't know or get." How were things back here?"
  2720. [/o]>"Pretty boring too. I'd already finished all my chores for the week and Twilight has been in the lab since she woke up this morning, so I just did some random stuff around here."[/o]
  2721. "Dang, what's she doing in there?"
  2722. [o]>"I don't know, but there were some explosions and the lights flickered a few times."[/o]
  2723. "Kinda makes you wonder what's going on in there, doesn't it?"
  2724. [o]>"Yeah, but you're stupid if you think I'd want to be anywhere near what's happening in there."[/o]
  2725. >Without anything left to say, the conversation falls into a somewhat awkward lull
  2726. >Nothing you haven't dealt with before, though
  2727. >You take this opportunity to check back in on some of your mental subprocesses while Spike looks around the area
  2728. >You still haven't reached a conclusion on your big question, no surprises there
  2729. >You can still remember some of what Ms. Cheerilee said in class
  2730. >Time to go to the old standby, and make a story in your head!
  2731. >Anon's at school
  2732. >Purple is there
  2733. >Purple say 'lern math anon'
  2734. >Anon say 'heck u purpl'
  2735. >Purple gets hecked
  2736. >End of Volume 1
  2737. >This continues on to about volume 4 before the door to the lab finally opens and Twilight steps out
  2738. >However, something hits you before anything else when the doors open
  2739. >The smell of burning sulfur
  2740. >Also, Twilight appears to be covered in a light layer of soot with an outline in the shape of a lab coat and goggles
  2741. >Wasting no time, you decide to grab Twilight's attention with a question
  2742. "Dang, what happened to you?"
  2743. >She takes a moment to shake some of it off, but it has little effect to your knowledge
  2744. >"A few of my calculations were off resulting in some... rather lively reactions, but in case you're worried, it only happened 3 times before the issue was completely corrected."
  2745. >That response only leaves you with more questions, but you decide against asking them in case their answers might have anything to do with Twilight getting you home
  2746. >At least, you decide not to ask them around Spike
  2747. "Anyway, I was hoping to ask you about something."
  2748. >"Sure, just make it quick. I don't want to keep this stuff on me for much longer and it'll probably stain something."
  2749. >You give her a quick recap of the events of today and the trip that Ms. Cheerilee told you about, finishing off by asking Twilight whether you're going with her or the class
  2750. >Twilight gazes off ahead of her for a second before turning back to you
  2751. >"I'll go with you to make Cheerilee's trip a bit easier."
  2752. >With that, she teleports off to somewhere leaving only a few dirty hoofprints where she was just standing
  2753. >It's down to you and Spike again, and you still don't have anything to say!
  2754. >Spike, however, seems occupied with the floor now that Twilight's left for somewhere else
  2755. >He then sighs and stands up, going back up the stairs
  2756. [o]>"I'll get the broom..."[/o]
  2757. >Now that you're alone, you're left to your own devices again
  2758. >As you stand up to leave yourself, you end up catching something that seems pretty inviting
  2759. >The lab doors remain open
  2760. >Mischief.exe processing...
  2761. >Cancel program? Y/N
  2762. >Y
  2763. >Cancelling...
  2764. >You still wince sometimes remembering your last escapade in the lab, so there's no way that you're risking another injury
  2765. >However, you're pretty sure that you can just look around without any problems
  2766. >You wander into the lab, following the trail of dust that Twilight left in her wake all the way back to its source
  2767. >Sure enough, it's from exactly what you thought
  2768. >The table that once held the ingredients to getting you home is now scorched and covered in singed papers while the surrounding area is covered in a thin layer of ash
  2769. >You can even see a thin, but distinct border around part of the area where Twilight probably tried to put up a shield
  2770. >Other than that though, there doesn't seem to be that much damage to the general vicinity
  2771. >Good, no castles collapsing out of nowhere
  2772. >When you walk back out into the lab's entryway, you see Spike sweeping the ash that Twilight left into a dustpan
  2773. >Quickly, you look down to your own hooves to check if you're tracking anything around
  2774. >Nope, clean
  2775. >You continue on towards the dragon until you reach him, then stop
  2776. "Hey, uh, there's a [i]lot[/i] more in there that probably needs to be cleaned. Want me to help you out with it?"
  2777. >Spike looks up from his current task and pauses for a brief moment
  2778. [o]>"I don't think you'll be able to help too much, do you even know how to sweep?"[/o]
  2779. >You do not
  2780. >Even at home on Earth with hands to work with, you still sucked at it
  2781. >Seriously, somehow there was more dirt on the floor [i]after[/i] you tried it
  2782. "Good point. Just warning you though, it looks like somebody threw a molotov onto the world's largest sheet of paper in there."
  2783. [o]>"What's a 'molotov'?"[/o]
  2784. >Nice job, you screwed up again
  2785. >How do you get out of telling someone about being an ayy now?
  2786. >One thing's for sure though, roll for your pokerface...
  2787. "It's... It's a kind of spell that shoots out a projectile that explodes into fire when it hits something, and its arc looks kind of like if somepony threw a ball."
  2788. [o]>"Huh! Where'd you learn about this kind of magic?"[/o]
  2789. "You know... books and stuff?"
  2790. [o]>"Cool; I guess I'll figure out what one of those molotov spells does when I get to the end of those tracks."[/o]
  2791. >Spike then resumes his sweeping and you head back up the stairs
  2793. >Be Spike
  2794. >Once again, a large mess has been made and you're the only one equipped to handle it
  2795. >At least Anon offered to help, but she said that she wouldn't know how to
  2796. >Oh well, it's just another job to do
  2797. >Besides, it can't be [i]that[/i] big of a mess, right?
  2798. >You work your way along the trail of ash and dust and head deeper into the lab, making a few stops along the way to organize all the dirt into a large pile near the door
  2799. >Eventually, you work your way back to the trail's end and witness the true magnitude of it all
  2800. >How did some of it get on the ceiling!?
  2801. >That's not even considering how much of it is on the walls, which looks to be almost as much as on the floor...
  2802. >Maybe you should've accepted the help
  2803. >Maybe you should still go back and ask for it
  2804. >Maybe you should even ask Twilight to help out with it
  2805. >Nah, you said you could handle it yourself, so that's what you'll do
  2806. >You sigh inwardly as you grit your teeth, grip the broom handle, and get to work
  2807. >The mess goes away faster than you expected though, so that's cool
  2808. >After a few minutes of working, you have a sizeable pile built up in the middle of the room
  2809. >That's the floor cleaned, now to work on the walls
  2810. >It takes some reaching, but you are also able to knock the soot off the walls with a few concentrated efforts
  2811. >Lastly, the ceiling
  2812. >You have to get a ladder, but the ceiling is cleaned too
  2813. >That last bit of ash is added to the pile, and you begin sweeping it out of the room and back to the other piles you made
  2814. >However, something catches your eye
  2815. >Twilight left some papers out on a desk
  2816. >That's not really like her, she usually puts them away into a folder or something after recording everything she needs to
  2817. >Could she be coming back here?
  2818. >Maybe, but then why would she have gone off to clean herself up?
  2819. >If she's just going to come back and do more stuff, then why bother?
  2820. >After some more internal back and forth, you decide to do her a favor and at least put these papers into a folder that you saw on the table
  2821. >As you put the papers into an organized stack, you can't help but take a look at what was written on a few of them
  2822. >It's mostly science jargon that you don't understand, but you see a few lines on what looks to be the last page that catches your eye
  2823. >"Revised test successful, stable connection established, tell Anon"
  2824. >Why would Twilight need to tell Anon about an experiment?
  2825. >Also, what does she mean by 'stable connection established'?
  2826. >This makes you go back through the other papers, hoping to find something that you missed before that can give you a better idea of what's going on
  2827. >Unfortunately, you didn't miss much
  2828. >A few charts, graphs and equations on the backs of some papers, but that's about it
  2829. >Now feeling more confused than you have in a decent while, you decide to throw in the towel
  2830. >If you're meant to find out, you'll be told about it at some point
  2831. >It might not hurt to ask Anon or Twilight about that though, in case you [i]are[/i]
  2832. >You finish putting the papers into the folder, clear off the table of any other dust and debris, and finish sweeping your pile back out to the other one
  2833. >Once you're satisfied with your work, you finish sweeping it up the stairs and out the door
  2834. >It's a hard process to get it up there, but you've mastered it over the years
  2835. >After all that is taken care of and the dirt is swept into a trash can, you decide to head back to your room and kill time before dinner
  2837. >Be Twilight
  2838. >Your first few trial runs with testing the efficiency of your inter-universal portal spell went pretty shakily, but you figured it out quickly and fixed the issues almost immediately
  2839. >Now that all that's taken care of, you can get to work on replicating the conditions which brought Anon here tomorrow!
  2840. >Before that though, you need to finish up in the shower
  2841. >You should also clean up down in the lab, if Spike hasn't already taken care of it
  2842. >And probably wait until tomorrow, like you thought
  2843. >It's definitely been more than 2 days since you last slept and coffee's not doing it anymore
  2844. >Early to bed for you, then
  2845. >You finish washing and drying yourself off and teleport back down to the lab's entrance
  2846. >When you get there, you find the door open
  2847. >Shit
  2848. >At least the interior's spotless
  2849. >Thanks, Spike!
  2850. >Well, you should at least do a cursory check now to make sure nobody touched anything important
  2851. >You work your way through each area, checking everything to make sure that nothing's been changed
  2852. >When you get back to the area where you did the experiment though, you find the folder containing the details of your experiments with portals
  2853. >Okay, you might have left that out
  2854. >Was it opened, though?
  2855. >You think back on it, but fail to remember properly despite it only happening several minutes ago
  2856. >Even more proof that you need sleep
  2857. >Rip
  2858. >Should probably ask him about it, just to make sure
  2859. >Yeah, probably
  2860. >Worst-case scenario, he figures it all out and you have to fix that
  2861. >It won't be the first time you've had to use a memory-altering spell, and it certainly won't be the last
  2862. >It will be one of the few times you've had to use it on Spike, though
  2863. >Given how well he handles his own secrets though, you really should make sure that he forgets anything he may have learned from this file
  2864. >You spend a few minutes wandering around aimlessly looking for Spike before finding him in his own room
  2865. >He's on his bed with a comic book in one claw and his plush in the other, but he quickly discards the latter item upon your entry
  2866. [o]>"Hey Twilight, what's up?"[/o]
  2867. "I was just wondering if I put that file in the lab back together or not. Can you help me refresh my memory?"
  2868. >Spike answers nonchalantly, confirming the worse of the two possibilities
  2869. "Well, did you see anything in it that confused you?"
  2871. >Be Spike
  2872. >Twilight's in your room asking you about that file you found in the lab
  2873. >Well, you didn't have to ask first!
  2874. >That's pretty cool...
  2875. "Yeah, I was wondering why you wrote a note on the last page about telling Anon; that's about all I really paid attention to."
  2876. >Twilight raises her eyebrows for a second before dropping back to a neutral expression
  2877. >"Oh. Sorry, I can't help you with that yet."
  2878. >That...
  2879. >Was an odd answer, but an answer it was
  2880. "Well, can you tell me when I'll be able to know?"
  2881. >Twilight shakes her head no and you see her horn ignite
  2882. >A mild wave of panic mixed with a tsunami of confusion crash upon you in this moment as you watch the glow become brighter and brighter
  2883. >"Not for the foreseeable future. By the way, sorry in advance."
  2884. "Sorry for-"
  2885. >A bright purple glow stuns you for a few seconds as you feel... something leave you
  2886. >The feeling fades with the glow though, and soon your vision returns in full as you lose the feeling entirely
  2887. >Oh well, that was probably nothing
  2888. >You see Twilight standing in your doorway, looking expectantly at you
  2889. "... What?"
  2890. >"I just came down to tell you that I'm starting dinner. Do you want to help?"
  2891. >And you just got comfortable...
  2892. "Sure, just let me put this back."
  2893. >You place the comic book back on your pile and follow Twilight out of the room and up to the kitchen for dinner
  2895. >Be Anon
  2896. >You took some time in your room to ckeck on your homework and promptly ignore it before Twilight called you down for dinner
  2897. >It was somewhat uneventful
  2898. >There were a few questions tossed your way and you answered them, but it was mainly about school
  2899. >Afterwards though, when Spike was occupied with cleaning dishes, Twilight pulled you aside
  2900. >So far aside that you're both now in the interrogation room
  2901. >Iwonderwherethisisgoing.tiff
  2902. >You two both take your places before Twilight cuts to the point
  2903. >"I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is, I've managed to work out every efficiency issue with my portal spell. The bad news is that I had to wipe part of Spike's memory."
  2904. >Okay, that seems pretty-
  2905. >waiT WHAT
  2906. "Why did you need to wipe Spike's memory?!"
  2907. >Unfortunately, I made the mistake of leaving the file about the portal spell open and he decided to put it back together for me. He didn't learn too much, but I didn't want to risk it."
  2908. >Seems sound, but you still don't like it
  2909. "Okay, what did he actually see?"
  2910. >"He saw my reminder to tell you about my results at the end of the most recent page."
  2911. "And you couldn't have taken this in any direction that DIDN'T require wiping a half-hour from his mind forever?"
  2912. >"Anon, do you know how well Spike can keep a secret?"
  2913. "Not well, but I don't see why a secret would need to be kept if you were to instead have told him, oh I don't know, that it was to do with a magic project that we came up with and you were doing testing for it?"
  2914. >Twilight is looking more and more frustrated as your counterpoint goes on, but she holds her tongue until you're finished
  2915. >"Hindsight is always 20/20, but the damage has been done. Talking about better ways to fix it would've helped an hour or two ago, but now it just wastes time. In other news, I'll be able to start work on getting a portal to your universe set up tomorrow."
  2916. >You're not over the wiping of part of Spike's life yet but purple has a point
  2917. >It's too late to fix it, the damage was done
  2918. "Alright. Also, a progress report on my answer: I am still no closer to finding one now than I was before."
  2919. >"Dang, this might come down to a coin toss."
  2920. >It very well might, but like a certain quote goes, 'When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you, but because in that brief moment when the coin is in the air, you suddenly know what you are hoping for.'
  2921. >Maybe flipping a coin will help you out, then?
  2922. >You and Twilight finish up with the rest of the formalities before you two split off
  2923. >Twilight goes up to her room while you go back down to check on Spike
  2924. >When you get back to the kitchen, you find that he's gone
  2925. >Time to check the one place that he usually frequents!
  2926. >Surprise, surprise; he's in his room
  2927. >You see him flat on his bed with a comic book grasped in his claw and his Rarity plush on his stomach
  2928. "Hey nerd, what's going on?"
  2929. [o]>"Not much, just reading a new issue that came in the mail."[/o]
  2930. "Nice, what's it about?"
  2931. >You walk behind him and try to read over his shoulders
  2932. >Oh, it's those superheroes again
  2933. >Yeah, no
  2934. [o]>"It's the Power Ponies, this issue is part of the Harmony War arc. Maneos just completed the harmony necklace and destroyed half the universe, killing off half the cast in the process. If you want to read from the beginning of the arc, I can find the issue for you."[/o]
  2935. >Huh, so Thanos is a thing here too
  2936. "I think I'm good, thanks."
  2937. [o]>"Oh well, I can understand if this isn't your thing."[/o]
  2938. >Seeing no way to continue this conversation and feeling no need to stick around until you tell him that he was mindwiped, you head back up to your own room
  2939. >Once you get there, you decide to do something that you haven't done in a hot minute
  2940. "Well, today had some events."
  2941. >You close the door behind you and flop down on your bed between your two plushes, neither of whom give a reply
  2942. "Apparently Spike saw something relating to me being an Ayy and Twilight, foregoing all other options, decided to wipe that entire part of his memory."
  2943. >"..."
  2944. "Yeah, that was definitely an overreaction. I mean, I understood her reasons. There are still better ways to go about this sort of thing, though."
  2945. >"..."
  2946. >You nod in silence at the imaginary response to your statement as you climb under the sheets, hoping to finish off this day soon
  2947. >. . .
  2948. >...
  2949. >.....
  2950. >.......
  2951. >Huh, guess there are no dreams tonight
  2952. >Rip
  2953. >That doesn't stop Luna from showing up, though
  2954. >However, instead of appearing in the form you recognize, she manifests as a voice in your mind
  2955. >"Good evening, Anonymous. Normally I don't appear to others outside the context of a dream, but I felt like I needed to check on you after yesterday. How are things?"
  2956. This intrusion takes you a bit by surprise
  2957. >Also, how will you even reply?
  2958. >Thinking?
  2959. >Well, it's worth a shot
  2960. Not too bad. I still have no idea about what I'm gonna do, but I at least have a few ideas on how I can figure that out.
  2961. >"Would you be willing to share those ideas?"
  2962. >Huh, so that worked
  2963. >You tell her about the whole coin flipping thing and the two ways you could use it to help you
  2964. >"Not the most original of ideas, but you've got a decent set of plans for this."
  2965. I know, but until I'm either forced to choose or make a decision myself, it'll work.
  2966. >"Do you feel like you're any closer to a decision, by the way?"
  2967. >All this pressure, why?
  2968. No, and I'm not entirely sure that I'll come to one, hence plans A and B.
  2969. >"Fair enough. Has anything interesting happened recently?"
  2970. >Once again, you retell the previous events of the day
  2971. ... Enough about me though, how are you?
  2972. >"I'm alright. My day was pretty normal too, considering what my normal is. Some paperwork, a few different reports needing to be filed, checking on criminals and saving foals from things that go bump in the night."
  2973. Dang, that busy still?
  2974. >"I'm not sure what you expected, my last vacation was my thousand-year trip to the moon."
  2975. Rip, at least I can get weekends off.
  2976. >"It's not all bad, though. Sometimes my adventures through the immaterial realm bring me to some rather funny situations."
  2977. Oh?
  2978. >"Let me preface this by asking you how many of your nightmares you remember from foalhood, or whatever you call it."
  2979. A few, not too many though.
  2980. >"And you look back on them now wondering how you were scared by them, right?"
  2981. Yeah, I'll admit that.
  2982. >"Now imagine if somepony else, without any context for one of these nightmares, shows up in the middle of it all to rescue you."
  2983. >You would raise your eyebrows, but you have no face right now to do it
  2984. >"I know, it's a bit rude, but some of it all is just absurd! One time, I had to rescue a filly from a nightmare where she had to get a jar of peanut butter from a monster that looked like a baby drew it and, get this, [i]she was bigger than the monster[/i]! Think what you will, but I had to stifle a laugh when I figured out what was going on."
  2985. That... That's certainly a dream, alright. You know, while we're on this topic, have you ever had a dream so goofy that you wake up laughing?
  2986. >Luna goes silent for a few seconds while she thinks
  2987. >"No, I don't think I have. Why, have you?"
  2988. I have, but I'm not sure you would entirely get it. Hell, I don't even get it myself.
  2989. >"I'm willing to hear it all the same, lay it on me."
  2990. Well, one time I had a dream where something was happening. I'm not sure what it was, but it ended with Superman's head on a woodchipper screaming obscenities at the local police while shooting out corndogs that looked like they were frozen in blue gatorade. Feel free to ask for context on any of that."
  2991. >Again, Luna falls silent as she takes that in
  2992. >"... What's a Superman, what's a corndog, and what's Gatorade?"
  2993. Superman is a superhero with every power you can think of and probably even more, a corndog is a type of food featuring a sausage covered in a cornflour-based batter and deep-fried on a stick, and Gatorade is a type of drink designed to help someone recover from heavy exertion by replenishing the body's natural fluids and some other biology stuff that I don't get.
  2994. >After yet another pass of silence, Luna responds
  2995. >"Well then. That certainly does sound absurd."
  2996. >After a few more exchanges and discussions about past dreams, Luna eventually decides to call it a night and let you return to the void between dreams
  2997. >. . .
  2998. >Another day closer to an interesting day
  2999. >You go about your morning routine on autopilot
  3000. >Come to think of it, you go about the entire [i]day[/i] on autopilot
  3001. >Your thoughts drift a few times throughout the day, but nothing noteworthy happens to bring you back
  3002. >Looks like it's time for...
  3004. >TIMESKIP!
  3006. >Be Anon
  3007. >It's now Friday afternoon
  3008. >You're up in your room grouping together what few items you have to bring to Canterlot for the thing happening
  3009. >Twilight's doing the same, but she has a lot more to get than just a few plushes and some clothes
  3010. >Somehow, though, she manages to finish packing before you and teleports up to your room
  3011. >Fucking magic hacks, she probably just took everything and put it in there all at once
  3012. >Her talking brings you out of your internal grumbling, though
  3013. >"Alright, I finished packing. The train leaves in half an hour, so take care of whatever else you need to before we go. I'll be waiting at the front door."
  3014. >And poof, she's gone again
  3015. >How rude, you didn't even get an opportunity to respond!
  3016. >Oh well, a response wasn't really needed
  3017. >You finish packing your belongings and take them down to the door
  3018. >Once that's done, you and Twilight say good bye to Spike and teleport down to the station
  3019. >A short while after that, you two are on your way to Canterlot
  3020. >A few cars ahead, you can hear the noise of multiple foals goofing around and doing all the things one shouldn't do on a train, but that's not your concern
  3021. >Your concern is why Twilight keeps looking over a sheet of paper
  3022. >Moreover, why she seems to be reading it to herself under her breath
  3023. "Hey, what's up?"
  3024. >"Nothing, just making sure that I have the schedule of events completely memorized for tomorrow."
  3025. >It would probably help you to know the schedule too, if you want to be present for everything
  3026. "You know, I've heard that telling someone something helps you to remember it better."
  3027. >Twilight glances up at you for a second before her eyes snap back to the paper and she resumes reading, this time aloud
  3028. >"Nine o'clock, arrive at castle. Nine oh-five, check in with Celestia. Nine ten, finish pre-ceremony preparations. Ten thirty, meet with Chrysalis..."
  3029. >She goes on for a few more points before she wraps back around to the beginning
  3030. >This too goes on a few times before you realize that you've zoned out completely
  3031. >"... Well, I think I have it down now. How about you?"
  3032. "Me too, but I might just need a bit of a refresher on those beginning, middle, and end bits though."
  3033. >Pokerface.gif
  3034. >Twilight blinks a few times in silence before exhaling loudly, facehoofing and stifling a small giggle
  3035. >"Just stick with me and you should be fine."
  3036. "Okay, but now I have a few questions."
  3037. >"Go ahead."
  3038. "One, will Emerald be there? Two, will I actually be allowed to follow you? Three, what happens if I can't? Four, where are we staying?"
  3039. >"One, you should probably ask Chrysalis about that. Two, I'm sure that Celestia wouldn't be against it as long as you don't get in the way of anything. Three, I have a few tracking spells memorized that could help me keep track of you should we be separated for whatever reason. Four, we're staying at the castle."
  3040. >Now it's your turn to go silent for a few seconds
  3041. "Why are we staying at the castle?"
  3042. >"Celestia asked me to help her with some of the extra duties that are required of her before the ceremony gets underway and I'd like to get as much of it done today as we can. Staying at the castle means that I can help with more for longer without needing to worry about going somewhere else in the middle of the night, almost asleep."
  3043. "Fair enough. Anything else important that may need mentioning?"
  3044. >Twilight ponders your query for a little while before returning her gaze to you
  3045. >"Not that I can think of right now, no."
  3046. "Cool, then I guess I'll do my best to stay out of the way and let everything happen that needs to."
  3047. >"And I'll do everything that I need to so you'll have something interesting to stay out of the way of."
  3048. >The conversation dies down after this and you spend the rest of the train ride messing around on your phone and listening to the commotion in the next car
  3049. >Eventually, darkness falls and you reach the summit of the mountain
  3050. >You and Twilight manage to make it out of the train without drawing the attention of any of the other passengers as well, making the trip to the castle easier
  3051. >While walking there, you take the opportunity and clear your mind a bit with a few deep, loose breaths
  3052. >You're brought out of your almost-meditation by Twilight's intent staring, though
  3053. >"What's up?"
  3054. "Just a bit nervous, I guess."
  3055. >"Don't worry too much, Celestia and I already have that taken care of."
  3056. >Twilight's dry humor catches you a little off guard, but does little to help
  3057. >It kinda makes things worse, if anything
  3058. >If even Celestia is worried about this, then what does that say about the future?
  3059. >"Look, I get it. This is a big event with loads of ponies showing up to see this with probably mixed feelings, but everything official's already been taken care of. Worse comes to worst, public approval rating dips a bit until the prices of anything to do with precious metals drops by about 20%."
  3060. "Then why are you two so worried?"
  3061. >"Most events at the castle turn into a logistical nightmare. Most of what needs to be done still is simply mapping out routes for ponies to take and setting up everthing in the courtyard, nothing to do with anything political."
  3062. >You give a sound nod, finally feeling more at ease as Canterlot Castle (as well as the weekend plans) come more and more into focus
  3063. >You and Twilight arrive at the castle in short time
  3064. >When you two arrive, things aren't nearly as much of a madhouse as you would've expected
  3065. >There are a few miscellaneous officials running errands and going from place to place, but other than that it's just the standard guard patrols
  3066. >Twilight's pretty silent as you two continue, but nopony shoots you any glances while you're with her
  3067. >After plenty of twists and turns down a few different halls and through at least two wings of the castle, you two finally arrive in what looks to be a meeting room
  3068. >Celestia's standing at the head of a long table with various nobles being ordered to do various things spread out
  3069. >Celestia's also the one giving these orders
  3070. >Various other staff and guards appear to be moving about in the room, but not with the same quiet urgency as Celestia herself
  3071. >Twilight moves forward, weaving her way through these dutiful horses, and you trail slightly behind in a more careful bid to not get in anypony's way
  3072. >Finally, after charting a very less-than-straight path, you both make it to Sunbutt
  3074. >Be Celestia
  3075. >Things have been going alright so far
  3076. >Everypony's doing what they need to when they need to do it
  3077. >There's more rushing and panic than you would like, but it hasn't caused any problems yet and hopefully won't
  3078. >Luckily for you, the chance of a problem occurring has gone down significantly from Twilight's arrival
  3079. >You take official notice of her once she reaches your side and get her up-to-date on what's happened so far
  3080. "... And that's how much was done so far. The only things left to take care of are marking off where the attendants need to go and making sure they know that's where they go."
  3081. >"Fantastic, my estimates weren't far off. I'll go help with that, but I have something to clarify really quickly."
  3082. "I'm listening."
  3083. >"As I'm sure you would've guessed, I brought Anonymous with me. Would it cause any trouble to have her follow me and help out where she can?"
  3084. >You take a moment to peek around Twilight and catch a glimpse of that deceptively small, green frame
  3085. [o]>"What's up?"[/o]
  3086. >And it appears he's noticed you too
  3087. "I'm sure that doesn't need explaining. It's nice to see you too, by the way."
  3088. >You turn your attention back to Twilight as she makes a final statement
  3089. >"Well, I'm going to find out where I'm needed. I'll report back as soon as it's all done!"
  3090. >With that, she and Anonymous leave the room
  3091. >Glancing back at Twilight, you realize that you've forgotten part of your manners
  3092. >Oh, she's already almost out the door
  3093. >You quickly move a nearby pen over to Twilight to tap her shoulder, stopping her in her tracks
  3094. >After telling Anonymous to wait outside, she goes back over to you
  3095. >"Did you need anything else, Princess?"
  3096. "I forgot to mention that you can leave your bag here and I'll have somepony run it up to your room; I apologize."
  3097. >"It's fine, it happens to the best of us! Thanks, by the way."
  3098. >Twilight then removes her saddlebag and magics it over to you before going back outside to Anon
  3099. >Alright, now, back to the tasks at hand...
  3100. >Okay, why are you only [i]now[/i] seeing these papers?
  3101. >They should've been in front of you a while ago!
  3103. >Be Anon
  3104. >You and Twilight are now following the steady flow of ponies through the castle
  3105. >After a decent walk through the many halls of the castle, you both reach a large courtyard with a large balcony overlooking it
  3106. >There's also quite a few things set up around the area
  3107. >The first thing you notice is the red ropes
  3108. >After that, it's the abundance of chairs on the grass/on racks nearby and the ponies setting them up
  3109. >Finally, you notice what appears to be a magically operated sound system near the balcony
  3110. >Twilight immediately gets to work, picking up several chairs at once and moving them over to where they're set up
  3111. >Meanwhile, you're struggling to pull a single chair off the rack nearest you
  3112. >Eventually, you work one off and it unceremoniously falls to the floor
  3113. >After everypony that started staring at you went back to what they were doing, you now attempt to move the chair from point A to point B
  3114. >As you set to work again, you're paused by a tap on the back
  3115. >It's purple
  3116. >"Maybe you should leave the setting up to us?"
  3117. >You turn to face her, and she's got one of those faces on
  3118. >Her patronizing stare says that you're doing something wrong, but that it's not your fault
  3119. >You wait a few seconds before letting out a sigh of defeat
  3120. "Alright, I'll stay out of the way. Is there anything that I can do in the meantime, though?"
  3121. >Twilight takes a quick look around the area before settling back to you
  3122. >"Unfortunately, it doesn't look like there's anything else for you to help with. How about you go sit over there, and I'll come get you when it's done?"
  3123. >Twilight points in a certain direction, and you follow her hoof to a part of the courtyard near where you two entered
  3124. "Alright, I guess I'll go wait."
  3125. >You walk over to the chosen spot, faking dejection the whole way
  3126. >Once you sit down, you realize that you have nothing else to do but watch the setup happen
  3127. >It sure would be nice if you had your phone with you...
  3128. >Wait, where [i]is[/i] your phone?
  3129. >It was in your bag when you got off the train, but-
  3130. >[i]Where is your bag?[/i]
  3131. >
  3132. >
  3133. >You left it on the train
  3134. >You put your phone down to charge in your bag, then forgot it on the train when it was time to get off
  3135. >You have no idea how neither you nor Twilight caught that fact, but it happened
  3136. >At least you had nothing entirely vital in there, just your clothes that don't fit, your plushes, and your phone/charger
  3137. >That fact is of little solace though, so you opt to start repeatedly facehoofing with significant force
  3138. >You stop after only 4 though, seeing as how your forehead's starting to go numb and a headache's coming on
  3139. >Seeing nothing else to do, you begin worrying about what will happen to your stuff
  3140. >Let's see, what things can we list off that will only worry you further?
  3141. >It could have been trashed, stolen, left on the train for you to never see again, or even the train could've derailed, blown up, and destroyed your stuff in the process!
  3142. >No, it doesn't matter how low of a probability it has to happen, you're gonna think about it!
  3143. >Hell, some interdimensional monster could've come out of nowhere just to steal your shit and piss you off
  3144. >No matter what happens, keeping this to yourself probably won't help you at all
  3145. >So, you decide to do the one productive thing that even has a remote chance of helping you right now: tell Twilight
  3146. >You compose yourself, get up, and formulate how you're going to tell her
  3147. >However, all this composure flies out the window when you finally get over to her
  3148. >"What is it, Anon?"
  3149. "... ᴵ ᵃᶜᶜᶦᵈᵉⁿᵗᵃˡˡʸ ˡᵉᶠᵗ ᵐʸ ᵇᵃᵍ ᵒⁿ ᵗʰᵉ ᵗʳᵃᶦⁿ."
  3150. >She raises an eyebrow and dons a slightly confused expression
  3151. >"Could you repeat that?"
  3152. >Not wanting to make your embarrassment more known than necessary, you beckon her over to a relatively unoccupied area and only then do you repeat yourself
  3153. "I accidentally left my bag on the train."
  3154. >Twilight sits down and stares off into space for a second, taking in what you just said before saying anything else
  3155. >"Well, it's a good thing that you didn't have anything necessary in there."
  3156. "I understand that, but what about all my stuff? Is it gone forever?"
  3157. >"Probably not, seeing as I made sure that our address was on both of our bags just in case. The train ponies will just hand it over to the mail service and it should be back home before we are."
  3158. >That puts most of your fears at rest, but you still have a little niggling feeling at the back of your mind that somehow, something will go wrong
  3159. >Eh, let's chock it up to nerves for now
  3160. "I guess so. I just hope you're right..."
  3161. >You say to no one in particular, since Twilight went back to what she was doing when you paused
  3162. >Maybe that's a sign that there are bigger things to worry about
  3163. >Maybe not now specifically, but in general
  3164. >At least this is a nice enough world that you happened to land in where something like losing one's possessions isn't something to worry too heavily about
  3165. >You keep that information in mind as you go back to watching the ponies work on setting up everything
  3166. >Eventually, everything is set up and servants and nobles start filtering out
  3167. >Even Twilight, after triple-checking everything of course, comes back over to you to bring you back inside the castle
  3168. >She leads you back to the nerve center that Celestia set up to give a report of what all happened, but Celestia doesn't seem to pay attention
  3169. >She seems more interested in the paper in front of her
  3170. >You debate taking a look, but you ultimately decide that that may not be the best idea
  3171. >After sitting patiently at Twilight's side (and zoning out hard) for the better part of 10 minutes, you two eventually head back out into the rest of the now-deserted castle
  3172. >Once you two are off on your way to your shared room, you decide to ask a question to break your thoughts away from your lost luggage again
  3173. "So, what do you think was on that paper that Sunbutt was so interested in?"
  3174. >"Mm... I don't know. Probably some guard report, or something. I know for sure that she isn't happy to have Chrysalis in the castle for an extended stay, so it wouldn't surprise me if she tasked a full team of guards to supervise her."
  3175. "Huh, I hope there wasn't anything bad to report on it."
  3176. >"Yeah, if there's something that needs to not happen right now, it's anything to make Celestia try to back out of this whole deal."
  3177. >Wait, would she really do that?
  3178. "Is that a thing that could happen?"
  3179. >"Well, at this point, not without having some sort of excuse. However, the definition of 'excuse' could be used to fit any sort of happening that could reflect negatively on the unreformed changelings, and that could be spun in any number of different ways."
  3180. "I swear if all that work I put in gets thrown away like that, I'm making her give all of us back the time we wasted making it happen to begin with."
  3181. >Twilight lets out a sigh and pats your head with a wing (much to your surprise and mild annoyance) and replies in a way you didn't expect
  3182. >"Good luck with that."
  3183. >You stop walking and look up defiantly at her
  3184. "What makes you think I can't?"
  3185. >Twilight stops just in front of you, but only moves her head around to face you
  3186. >"She's incredibly wise and powerful, but she's not a miracle worker. Time isn't something that can be turned back, at least not in a meaningful way like giving you back the time you wasted in some way. Now come on, I'm already tired and I'm sure you are too."
  3187. >Yeah, she's right about the tired parts
  3188. >You're not going to let her know that, though
  3189. >Besides, this isn't the first time you've stayed up for more than 16 hours straight
  3190. >No matter what you think, though, you decide to not be a dick and go back to following her to the room
  3191. >After a while more of random halls, closed rooms, samey decorations and occasional guards, Twilight opens a relatively unassuming door to reveal a room that's anything but
  3192. >It looks like a full suite, complete with an entire kitchen and even a small library's worth of books!
  3193. >You can't help but let out a drawn-out whistle at your new surroundings as you get more acquainted to it all
  3194. >First stop is the kitchen area
  3195. >Sure, there probably won't be any food in there, but it's worth a shot
  3196. >You filter your way through the various cabinets before getting to what you assume to be another fridge-analog and having to actually work to get into it
  3197. >Not too hard, but it's a step up from just having to pull open a wooden door
  3198. >Now you have to stand up to do it!
  3199. >After staring into the empty coldbox for a few seconds, you hear Twilight comment on your actions from the other room
  3200. >"I don't think you'll find anything in there."
  3201. "Yeah, kinda figured that out."
  3202. >"So then why bother looking?"
  3203. "Because there's no reason not to. Either I find food and I'm pleasantly surprised, or I don't and I'm right in my assumptions."
  3204. >"Fair enough. You shouldn't need anything to eat though, I remember you eating on the train ride here."
  3205. "Whether or not I need more is irrelevant to this situation; it's the want that drives the search."
  3206. >"Whatever. I'm going to bed and you should too, if you want to be up in time for tomorrow's activities."
  3207. >She's got another point there, too
  3208. >Admitting defeat in your attempt at finding food, you retire to bed with Twi
  3209. >Sleep isn't immediate at your level of tiredness, but it still comes pretty quickly
  3210. >. . .
  3211. >You wake up the next morning to Twilight rousing you herself, for once
  3212. >"Wake up, Anon; you need to start getting ready if you don't want to miss anything."
  3213. "Alright, I'm coming."
  3214. >You roll out of bed with more dexterity than usual, this time not having such a hard landing
  3215. >After that, it's just routine to get yourself presentable
  3216. >Routine and Twilight fussing with your mane
  3217. >Something something 'polite company' and all that
  3218. >Once all that's dealt with, Twilight straightens herself out one last time before checking you again, deeming you acceptable, and leading the way out
  3219. "Okay, so where to first?"
  3220. >"First, we're going to talk to Celestia again. She'll be telling you whether you're watching from the balcony or from backstage, and she'll be telling me what my cues are for the ceremony."
  3221. "Cool, so then what?"
  3222. >"Then we wait for Luna and Chrysalis to show up so they can get their orders, and I'm not entirely sure after that. Luckily, a lot of time has been freed up from the schedule since all the setup was taken care of ahead of schedule yesterday, so we'll have time to get you some food."
  3223. >At the mere mention of food, your abdomen is roused from its own slumber to voice approval
  3224. "Nice. Any idea what happens after all that, though?"
  3225. >Twilight glances at you for a few moments from the corner of her eye
  3226. >"Okay, stop me if this sounds familiar: I'll be going along with everyone else to be part of the ceremony while you'll either be going to the balcony or backstage to watch it happen."
  3227. >You stay silent for a minute as you contemplate how you managed to miss that
  3228. "... Of course."
  3229. >You remain quiet through the remainder of the walk to think about what you said more than you should
  3230. >After a few minutes of walking through halls, you and Twilight find Celestia sitting at a table with Luna and Chrysalis close by and a few guards flanking both of them
  3231. >The three of them seem to be having a somewhat one-sided conversation with Celestia doing most of the talking
  3232. >As you get closer, you start hearing bits and pieces of what's being said
  3233. [p]>"... which is when, Chrysalis, you come forward and say the apology statement that you prepared. After that, press questions, and then it's over. Got it?"[/p]
  3234. >They both nod before looking down at two pieces of paper that were slid in front of them, which is when Twilight finally closes the gap
  3235. >"Good morning, Princess. Did we miss too much?"
  3236. [p]>"No, not too much. Just look over this paper and you'll find what you need to do. In the meantime, I'm going to make one last check of the area to make sure everything is 100% ready."[/p]
  3237. >With that, Celestia leaves the room
  3238. >Twilight stares after her and sighs lightly before looking at the paper she was given
  3239. >You're somewhat unsure of what to do in the present moment, so you just kinda stand there until she finishes reading
  3240. >"Well, at least I'm not just standing there and smiling this time."
  3241. >After finishing reading the paper, Twilight teleports it somewhere and turns back to you
  3242. >"I didn't see anything in there about you, so I guess that question's still up in the air."
  3243. "Darn. Anything I should know on there, at least?"
  3244. >Twilight brings the paper back from the aether to scan it again before returning it from whence it came
  3245. >"It's just a list of what happens in what order. I still stand around for most of the time, but at least I get to take control of the press questioning."
  3246. "That's something, at least."
  3247. >Twilight nods in silent agreement before making her way over to the table with the other important individuals and you follow close behind
  3248. >She pulls out two chairs and you both claim one before she starts talking
  3249. >"So, what are you two going to be doing?"
  3250. [p]>"I'm standing at Celestia's side and looking regal until it's time to sign the fake document."[/p]
  3251. [o]>"And I'm standing next to her until it's time for Celestia to stop using the microphone."[/o]
  3252. >Chrysalis gestures towards Luna in her sentence
  3253. >"Okay, so I'm not the only one. That's comforting."
  3254. "So we're all just standing around, then? Cool."
  3255. [o]>"Pretty much. Any idea when Celestia's coming back?"[/o]
  3256. [p]>"Not sure. Why do you ask?"[/p]
  3257. [o]>"I'd like to use the restroom but I'm not sure if she'd think I was trying to destroy her precious kingdom if I wasn't here when she got back."[/o]
  3258. [p]>"I'll tell her where you went, just take my guards with you and it should be fine."[/p]
  3259. >Chrysalis does exactly that and leaves the room, only for Celestia to enter shortly after
  3260. >Celestia takes a brief moment to scan the room, looking for its missing occupants before voicing her concerns
  3261. [o]>"Okay, where's Chrysalis? Am I going to have to send out a guard party to track her down?"[/o]
  3262. [p]>"Relax, she left to use the restroom. I had my guards follow her just in case too, so there's no need to flip out."[/p]
  3263. >Celestia closes her eyes before taking a few deep breaths and continuing on
  3264. [o]>"I trust you both know what you're doing for the ceremony?"[/o]
  3265. >She asks, looking between Luna and Twilight
  3266. >Luna simply nods, but Twilight also asks a certain question
  3267. >"What will Anon be doing during all this?"
  3268. >Celestia turns to you for a moment before returning her gaze to Twilight
  3269. [o]>"Whatever she feels comfortable doing, as long as it doesn't interfere with any of what's being shown to the press."[/o]
  3270. >That's a big help
  3271. "So does that mean it's cool if I watch from backstage, or wherever?"
  3272. >Celestia nods to you before teleporting out of the room in a flash of yellow for unknown reasons, just in time for Chrysalis to return
  3273. [o]>"So, she's still gone?"[/o]
  3274. >"You just missed her."
  3275. [o]>"Mmhm. Well, what do we do now? Any new instructions she has for all of us, or is it still just being props on stage?"[/o]
  3276. [p]>"Nothing new, she just checked in to make sure we knew what we were doing for the third time."[/p]
  3277. "I got confirmation that I can watch from wherever I want, so that's cool."
  3278. [o]>"That's nice, I assume you'll be staying close to the action?"[/o]
  3279. "As close as I can get, hopefully."
  3280. [o]>"Then I'll be sure to keep things civil for you."[/o]
  3281. >Chrysalis giggles to herself at that comment while Twilight and Luna give her side eye
  3282. [o]>"You both know I'm in no position to be causing trouble anyway, lighten up! Also, none of you answered my question about what we're doing until everything starts."[/o]
  3283. [p]>"I would've told you if I had an answer, but I'm pretty sure we're all in the dark on that."[/p]
  3284. >"I'm going to grab something from the kitchen, either of you want anything?"
  3285. >Chrysalis and Luna both accept, and Twilight leaves the room to return later with food
  3287. >Be Spike
  3288. >It's been a while since Twilight and Anonymous left for Canterlot
  3289. >You've already taken care of the list for this trip, so now you're free to do whatever
  3290. >Well, you would be if there wasn't a knock at the door
  3291. >You make your way up from your room to it and answer
  3292. >Before you stands a gray cross-eyed pegasus in a uniform and bearing a green suit case
  3293. [o]>"This was left on the train to Canterlot and the address said to bring it back here. Does this look familiar, Mr. Dragon?"[/o]
  3294. >You step out to get a closer look at it and read the name tag connected to the handle
  3295. >Anonymous
  3296. >If found, please deliver to the Friendship Castle in Ponyville
  3297. "Yeah, the owner of this case lives here. Thanks for dropping it by!"
  3298. [o]>"It's no problem, I hope there was nothing important in it. Anyway, have a nice day!"[/o]
  3299. >You wave as she flies off before dragging the case inside and closing the door
  3300. >You then start the process of getting it to Anonymous's room before encountering a major problem
  3301. >Wheels don't like going up stairs
  3302. >Hmmm....
  3303. >You've got two options:
  3304. >A, you can drag it up behind you
  3305. >B, you can carry it up
  3306. >Carrying would be more difficult, but it would also be faster
  3307. >Dragging it would be slower, but it would also be safer
  3308. >Seeing as you've got a plate of reheated pizza waiting for you, you decide to make it quick
  3309. >You pick up the suit case with both arms and start climbing the stairs
  3310. >The only problem you have is that you can't quite see where you're stepping, but that shouldn't-
  3311. >And right when you think that, you trip and drop everything
  3312. >Darn
  3313. >As if that wasn't enough, the suitcase then falls back down and spills its contents when it gets back to the bottom of the stairs
  3314. >Now not only is your shin hurt, but also your pride
  3315. >This is what happens when past Spike tries to cut corners, present Spike always has to clean up the mess
  3316. >So that's what you do
  3317. >You set about putting Anonymous's belongings back in the case, but you can't stop yourself from looking at some of the stranger items
  3318. >two white fabric tubes and a blue thing that looks like pants, but it's too big to be pants
  3319. >Huh
  3320. >You take it all and put it back as best you can before getting the job done right this time, but you can't stop thinking about what you found
  3321. >What would that stuff even be for?
  3322. >Why did she need them with her for the trip?
  3323. >All these questions and more, answered probably when Anonymous gets back
  3324. >Maybe not even then, since she may not like that you saw what she packed
  3325. >Oh well, questions for future Spike to figure out and for present Spike to write down until then
  3327. >Be Anonymous again
  3328. >You started watching from backstage, but after getting tired of not seeing anything and hearing even less, you've moved to a balcony on the other side of the courtyard
  3329. >Just in time, too
  3330. >A few seconds after you sit down, Celestia gives control of the microphone to Chrysalis
  3331. >The crowd, once active and eager to respond to Celestia's words, becomes silent aside from the creaking of hundreds of chairs as they all lean forward
  3332. >The silence persists for a few seconds as Chrysalis surveys the crowd before she takes a deep breath and beginning her apology
  3333. >"Good afternoon, Equestria. I'm sure many of you know who I am and what I've done, so I won't spend any time explaining that. Instead, I'll get to the point."
  3334. >She shoots an almost imperceptible glance at Celestia before continuing on
  3335. >"I deeply apologize to all of you for any and all damages I may have caused through my and my colony's actions, and I hope that you all will understand that everything I have done was for the love I hold for my subjects, my children."
  3336. >Chrysalis takes a brief pause to inhale again, as silence once again dominates the area
  3337. >"However, I realize that now more than ever the best course of action would be to simply ask for the help that I need rather than try to take it. As such, to begin working towards repaying all of you for what happened, I shall begin sending Equestria all of the precious materials not necessary to my hive's survival that we have uncovered during the hive's construction and all that shall be unearthed in the years to come."
  3338. >The crowd finally breaks its silence as a brief murmur crosses the courtyard, with the apology only continuing once the sound finally dies down
  3339. >"It is my hope that this gift shall begin to right the wrongs of the past and begin to soften all of your hearts towards us, so that one day you all may find it within yourselves to forgive us. Thank you all for listening."
  3340. >Chrysalis finally bows her head and steps back as the crowd begins to applaud
  3341. >She passes the microphone to Twilight, who waits until the crowd has resumed its silence before beginning her part
  3342. [p]>"Alright, now I'm sure many of you have questions, so we'll be happy to answer them."[/p]
  3343. >A flurry of movement comes from below as many ponies in the front row fly up (some figuratively, others literally before realizing how rude that is), all vying for Twilight's attention
  3344. >After scanning the crowd for a moment, your caretaker selects a light blue earth pony mare to ask the first question
  3345. [o]>"How do we know that this all isn't another plot to take over the country?"[/o]
  3346. >Twilight looks around in contemplation until finally seeing you and looking back to the mare
  3347. [p]>"I happen to have an informant that I've come to trust, and this individual has given me plenty of evidence that Chrysalis and her hive are in no position to act against us at this point. Next question?"[/p]
  3348. >The mare sits back down as the press go crazy again
  3349. >This time, Twilight picks a gray unicorn stallion
  3350. [o]<"Does this mean that we have to start freely accepting changelings within our towns and cities?"[/o]
  3351. [p]>"Well, I suppose that would be up to the discretion of all those who would be affected by something like that. None of us up here truly have a scope on the individual lives of ponies, and thus we can't expect you all to blindly accept a change as radical as going from a gold war with the badlands changelings to openly welcoming them into your homes."[/p]
  3352. >Twilight was about to call for the next question before Chrysalis tapped her shoulder
  3353. >"May I?"
  3354. >Twilight then shrugs and gives her the mic
  3355. >"You all likely won't notice any changes in your local changeling populations anyway, as almost all of us will continue to live in and expand our hive anyway."
  3356. [o]<"And if we do notice changes?"[/o]
  3357. >Chrysalis chuckles before answering the question
  3358. >"Then obviously she hasn't done a good job of maintaining her cover. But in all seriousness, you likely won't see anything noteworthy and what is seen shouldn't be of any concern."
  3359. >A small murmur rolls through the crowd as Twilight gets the microphone back
  3360. [p]>"Thank you for adding your piece to the answer, Chrysalis. Next question?"[/p]
  3361. >More questions roll in over the next half-hour, but they're all getting steadily more political and less easy to understand
  3362. >Also, the fact that various governmental branches with very equestrian names are being thrown around isn't helping in the slightest
  3363. >So, in your state of confused disinterest, you decide to wander back around to backstage and see if anything new's going on
  3364. >You still peek through windows at what's going on as things start winding down, and you see ponies starting to filter out
  3365. >Eventually, Twilight cuts the Q/A session off and the whole thing ends, just like that
  3366. >From your resumed post backstage, you see everyone come back and disperse a bit
  3367. >Chrysalis returns to her guards, Celestia walks out to go do something with Luna following, and Twilight walks over to you again
  3368. "So, now what?"
  3369. >"I'm not too sure. Plans didn't reach this far ahead, so we'll probably have to ask Celestia about it."
  3370. "Okay then, let's do that."
  3371. >"Sure, I just want to check in with Spike first and see if everything's alright."
  3372. >Twilight begins to leave the room as you follow behind
  3373. "Is... there any particular reason?"
  3374. >Twilight pauses and looks at you
  3375. >"Do I need one?"
  3376. "I mean, I guess not but we've only been gone for a day. Doesn't it seem a bit early?"
  3377. >"Maybe, but we also won't be gone for very long over this trip and I like to make sure that I check in at least once."
  3378. "Ah. Sorry for questioning, then."
  3379. >Twilight smiles and starts walking again
  3380. >"Never be sorry for asking a question, even if it's a stupid one. Especially if it's a stupid one, actually. That just means you're getting the stupid out of your head!"
  3381. >She punctuates her point by rubbing your head with her wing
  3382. >You both finish walking back to your room where Twilight pulls a pen and paper from thin air and begins to write
  3383. >Not seeing much else to do in the meantime, you decide to read the letter as she writes it
  3384. >It's just her asking about Spike's chores and if everything's fine over there, for the most part
  3385. >"Is there anything you'd like to add?"
  3386. >You look up to find Twilight staring at you expectantly
  3387. "Can you ask him if all my stuff got back okay?"
  3388. >"Sure, just give me a second... And done!"
  3389. >Twilight signs the letter for both of you, rolls it up and teleports it off to her castle before putting the pen back wherever she got it from
  3390. >"Now, let's see what else needs to happen."
  3391. >She opens the door for you both and leads you back to the throne room
  3392. >However, Celestia's not there
  3393. "Well, is there anywhere else she can be?"
  3394. >Twilight begins to think to herself, but not for long before reaching a conclusion
  3395. >"Either her office or her room, and I'd bet anything it's the former. Come on, I think I remember where it is."
  3396. >You both return to the maze of halls and rooms that dominate the castle to find Celestia's office
  3397. "So, what will I get if she's not in there?"
  3398. >"You're getting nothing, we're not actually betting."
  3399. >You look over to her and muster up the shit-eatingest grin you can
  3400. "Is it because I might be right?"
  3401. >"No, it's because I know you can't give me anything if- [i]when[/i] I win."
  3402. >Twilight returns the grin with less smugness but far more side eye mixed in
  3403. >"In all seriousness, this is neither the time nor place for it, so no bets will be made."
  3404. "Okay..."
  3405. >You both continue walking in silence for a while until you get another question
  3406. "So, then... Where would Celestia be if she's not in her office or her room?"
  3407. >"I'm not sure. I think at that point I'd have to start asking around."
  3408. "Fair enough, I guess t-"
  3409. >Your talking is cut short as Twilight pulls you back to her side, now that she's staring at a door
  3410. >You wonder whose door it is, given it's marked with a massive sun icon
  3411. >Twilight knocks on the door, upon which you both hear a faint and muffled sigh before seeing the door open before you
  3412. >A slightly tired looking Celestia stands behind it, but whatever exhaustion she seemed to have immediately leaves her upon seeing you two
  3413. [o]>"Joy, just the one I wanted to see! Please, come in. I have matters to discuss with you."[/o]
  3414. >The princess steps aside and opens the door farther for you both to enter before closing it shut behind you all and casting some sort of spell across the room
  3415. >This is definitely an office
  3416. >There's a desk to one side covered in papers with several filing cabinets behind it, a bookshelf covered in boring-looking legal documents, and enough crumpled papers to be overflowing out of the trash can in the corner
  3417. >However, there's also a surprising amount of room given the sparse decor
  3418. >Twilight decides to take advantage of the large space and sit in roughly the center of the room to address her mentor
  3419. >"What matters need discussing that would require a sound barrier?"
  3420. [o]>"Matters involving your friend here."[/o]
  3421. >Celestia's gaze shifts from her apprentice to you
  3422. >Before Twilight can continue though, Celestia begins speaking directly to you
  3423. [o]>"I hope you enjoyed the ceremony out there, it was quite hard to set up on such short notice; especially so with how much flak I've been getting from the nobility recently, but that's not something you need to worry about."[/o]
  3424. >She continues to stare at you, never dropping her smile
  3425. "I thought it was pretty cool; it definitely would've been better if I had actually chosen a good place to watch from the start."
  3426. [o]>"Well, I'm glad to hear that. With that all over, the entire war with the changelings is over and I never have to worry about them again thanks to you!"[/o]
  3427. >Celestia's still holding her smile, but slightly more strained
  3428. [o]>"Oh, except for one other problem: finding an appropriate stallion for Chrysalis to use for repopulation."[/o]
  3429. >And within a second, the smile completely vanishes
  3430. >Celestia stares at you for another period, but you're not sure what an appropriate response here would be
  3431. [o]>"I'm sure you can understand how that would be an issue for me, given the way the public views me. However, because of that treaty, I'm now bound by legal documentation to do this."[/o]
  3432. >She continues staring, but this time you've worked out a reply
  3433. "... Did I handle the negotiations wrong?"
  3434. >Celestia sighs and slumps down in her desk chair before resuming
  3435. [o]>"No, it was definitely a fair agreement. A bureaucratic nightmare, but a fair deal."[/o]
  3436. >She pauses briefly to lean forward towards you and Twilight, her smile creeping back on to her face
  3437. [o]>"Which is why, instead of handling that problem myself, I'm hiring you to do it for me."[/o]
  3438. >Celestia leans back in her chair, still smiling, while your mind is forced to make a hard left up a 90-degree incline
  3439. >Wait
  3440. >Hold up
  3441. >Did she really just...
  3442. >You couldn't even get yourself a GF back home, how are you supposed to do it for someone else here?
  3443. >You aren't even an adult, much less a full agent of the equestrian government, so how would you even be able to go about this?
  3444. "Uh..."
  3445. [o]>"Don't worry, you'll still be paid for your work despite your apparent age being far below that of legal employment."[/o]
  3446. >You wrangle your train of thought for long enough to get it in some semblance of an order before responding
  3447. "While I appreciate that and the honor of being able to handle something like this for you, I desperately need to inform you that I'm one of the worst people OR ponies you could've chosen for this job."
  3448. >Celestia's smile falls back into a thin line as one of her eyebrows raises and the other falls
  3449. [o]>"I beg to differ. You, of all ponies, were able to convince Chrysalis, my sister, and my apprentice all to follow your idea of peace. If anyone or anything is qualified to handle this, it's you."[/o]
  3450. "You have a point there, but everyone I convinced already knew who I was and was only really willing to follow my ideas after they were able to verify that it would even work to begin with. I won't have that same kind of sway with the average pony who's still highly suspicious of changelings as a species, and most likely downright fearful of Chrysalis herself."
  3451. >Celestia takes a moment to consider everything you've said before making another statement of her own
  3452. [o]>"You won't have to worry about not having any sway with the public, because your choices will carry the weight of my seal with them. As far as they're concerned, it will be me running this program through Twilight; nothing new."[/o]
  3453. >As she finishes her statement, she opens up a drawer and levitates out a rubber stamp before placing it on her desk in front of you
  3454. [o]>"I will be entrusting this with you until this is all taken care of, and I will pay you 200 bits for every candidate who accepts the job and a further 500 for every one of them that passes all of Chrysalis's criteria for this matter. Any further questions?"[/o]
  3455. >Many, but she'll probably just deflect them too
  3456. >You look to Twilight for any help with this, but she just shrugs and teleports the stamp away somewhere
  3457. >Seeing no other options, you sigh and accept your fate
  3458. "... What's the timeframe I have to work in?"
  3459. [o]>"Whatever Chrysalis says you have. Anything else?"[/o]
  3460. "Am I going to have to get pretty much every detail of what needs to happen from her?"
  3461. [o]>"Probably. Any more?"[/o]
  3462. "No, that's it."
  3463. [o]>"Fantastic! Now, if you both will excuse me, I have a large stack of papers to read."[/o]
  3464. >With that sentence, Celestia opens the door and puts what looks to be over 1000 sheets of paper on her desk from a drawer nearby
  3465. >Twilight and you both make your exit as she begins to flip through it, and Twilight makes sure to close the door behind you both quietly
  3466. >As soon as the door's closed, you don't hesitate to voice some complaints to Twilight
  3467. "You know, you could've helped me out there."
  3468. >She shrinks back a bit at your statement before defending herself
  3469. >"And do what, go against my boss slash mentor and the one mare who has never been wrong about anything, as far as I can tell? Also, you might want to ease back on the tone."
  3470. >Yeah, you may have started a bit harsh
  3471. "Sorry, this just doesn't seem like something I'm supposed to be doing. I mean, I wasn't even paying attention during the real negotiations, between you and me. How am I supposed to figure out how to get an at least decent stallion to put aside his preconceptions to go to town on Chrysalis?"
  3472. >"I know you don't want to hear this, but she wouldn't have chosen you for this job if she didn't think you could do it. I did pick up on some possible pettiness from her during the conversation, also between you and me, but for the most part it was all genuine. Also, we're not just going to gloss over you, the supposed arbitrator, not paying attention during the negotiations; what in tartarus were you thinking?"
  3473. >You weren't, but you aren't going to outright tell her that
  3474. "From what I knew of Chrysalis at the time and from Celestia's reputation, I figured that neither party would end up with a raw deal. Thus, I didn't bother stopping myself when the overwhelming politics bored me to the point of daydreaming."
  3475. >Twilight gives you a stern glare before replying
  3476. >"It may have worked out this time, but I'm going to make sure that you pay attention during your new job. Now come on, you have some questions to ask your 'client.'"
  3477. >Twilight starts walking off down the hall without another word, leaving you to catch up with her
  3479. >Be Luna
  3480. >Celestia tasked you with keeping an eye on Chrysalis, Mother knows why
  3481. >There are more guards than there are princesses for a reason!
  3482. >She did give you a pair of guards to help, but they're busy watching Chrysalis's guards
  3483. >Very intently, too
  3484. >Wait, that's a staring contest
  3485. >There are definitely better ways for you to be occupying your time, though
  3486. >You could be helping with the clean up, you could be catching up on work, you could be taking a nap, you could be down at the kitchen grabbing some food...
  3487. >Anything other than watching Chrysalis
  3488. >It's not like she's being a pest, though
  3489. >Quite the opposite, actually
  3490. >She's just sitting across the room from you, avoiding eye contact and trying not to look awkward
  3491. >It must be pretty nerve-wracking for her to not have a disguise up right now, no wonder
  3492. >Then again, you're probably doing the exact same things as she is, given how much else there is to do here
  3493. >You'd try to be a better hostess for her, but you've never had this job
  3494. >Tia was always the more patient of you both
  3495. >More social too, but that needs no explanation
  3496. >It's not like you wouldn't try to, though
  3497. >You just have no idea how to start with this 'hosting' business
  3498. >Tartarus, you two haven't even...
  3499. >Wait, that seems like a good place to start
  3500. "You know, I don't think we've ever really talked to each other before."
  3501. >Your words end up bringing the attention of the entire room to you before both sets of guards realize you're not talking to them
  3502. >"I'm not surprised, I haven't actually heard many words from ponies that weren't 'You won't get away with this, monster!'"
  3503. >She changes her voice mockingly from Cadance's to Twilight's to Celestia's during the last part
  3504. >If she's trying to mess with you, it isn't working
  3505. "At all, I mean. I was asleep during the invasion of Canterlot and one of your lackeys put me in a cocoon before bringing me back to your old hive for the other thing; even this morning was more us comparing notes before the event than a real interaction."
  3506. >"Oh. I suppose that's mildly interesting, what's your point?"
  3507. "Well, we've never been formally introduced."
  3508. >You get up from your seated position and walk over to Chrysalis and stretch out your right hoof, much to her surprise
  3509. >All four guards in the room are now watching you both intently
  3510. "I am Luna, princess of Equestria and mover of the moon."
  3511. >Chrysalis tentatively accepts the hoofshake, giving a greeting in return
  3512. >"And I am Chrysalis, queen of the Badlands and mother of the changelings."
  3513. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Chrysalis!"
  3514. >After a moment of hesitation, she replies
  3515. >"You too."
  3516. >After this interaction, you two go back to the previous routine except now you're both on the same side of the room
  3517. >Things do seem slightly less tense between you both, though
  3518. >The guards go back to comparing their gear and the changeling military to the equestrian one as you once again try to break the silence
  3519. >Now what?
  3520. >What would Tia do in this situation?
  3521. >Throwing her in the dungeon isn't going to help in the slightest here
  3522. >Well then, what would she do for any other guest?
  3523. >You just tried the route of conversation and your mind blanked, what would trying again do?
  3524. "Would you like to go do something more interesting?"
  3525. >"Would Celestia approve of you letting me out of this room?"
  3526. "Probably not, but she didn't say anything about not going with you. Besides, anything's better than waiting in silence for something to happen, and you look just as bored as I am."
  3527. >"Alright, I'm sold. Did you have something in mind or were you hoping for suggestions?"
  3528. "Either or."
  3529. >"Then why not show me what you do around here for fun?"
  3530. "Good choice!"
  3531. You both beckon your respective guards back to your side before you lead the way out of the room and into the castle
  3533. >Be Anonymous
  3534. >Twilight's been leading you around for a while without much in the way of conversation
  3535. >However, the way in which she's leading you is interesting enough without knowing what she's doing
  3536. >Every once in a while, she pauses and ignites her horn before taking a turn and sometimes even doubling back to go down a different path
  3537. >This goes on for a surprising amount of time while Twilight's frustration grows more and more visible
  3538. >Eventually, she just growls and makes one quick statement before gripping you in her magic
  3539. >"Hold on."
  3540. >Before you can completely register what happened, the purple clears from your eyes and you both are standing in front of a pony-changeling joint patrol headed by Luna and Chrysalis
  3541. >Needless to say, almost everyone is surprised by your sudden materialization here, you somewhat included
  3542. >"Alright, now that we're here, Chrysalis, Anon and I would like to talk to you."
  3543. >Everyone relaxes a bit once they realize it's just you and Twilight, but only Luna and Chrysalis seem completely at ease
  3544. >You're not surprised, you'd probably piss yourself if someone teleported right in front of you as you were walking
  3545. [o]>"What's the occasion?"[/o]
  3546. >"Preferably in private."
  3547. >Before you can say anything, Luna directs you all into a room and instructs her guards to keep watch outside
  3548. >They protest a bit, but the protesting stops when Chrysalis's guards join them
  3549. [p]>"Am I welcome to stay, or would it make things easier if I were to step out as well?"[/p]
  3550. >Luna looks to Twilight, who looks to you
  3551. >Soon enough, all three mares in the room are all looking at you
  3552. >So, you turn your attention to Chrysalis and ask a question
  3553. "This is going to involve some ah... sensitive topics, so the final call is up to you. You want them here for it?"
  3554. [o]>"Define sensitive."[/o]
  3555. "You know, how Celestia's supposed to hold up her side of the negotiations?"
  3556. [o]>"Well, I'd imagine at the very least having the one in charge of it being present. You can stay too, if you'd like."[/o]
  3557. >Chrysalis gives you a wink from an angle only you can see (not that, you pervert) before turning to Twilight expectantly
  3558. >Twilight stares back for a second before catching on to what's being implied
  3559. >"Oh! I'm not in charge of this one, that would be Anon."
  3560. >Luna pauses at the door when she hears this before turning around
  3561. [p]>"I guess Tia really trusts you after all this."[/p]
  3562. [o]>"That, or she wanted some payback for you getting her stuck in this situation."[/o]
  3563. "Well, whatever it was, I'm in charge, and no amount of my providing evidence to why I shouldn't be could convince Celestia to reconsider."
  3564. [o]>"All that aside, my previous answer still stands. I'd prefer a measure of privacy for this matter, if you would please."[/o]
  3565. >Luna, still near the door, holds it for Twilight who has a last word of encouragement for you before leaving
  3566. >"Remember what you need to know and remember that Celestia chose you for a reason. I'll be waiting right out here if you need anything else."
  3567. "Now that you mention it, a paper and pencil would be pretty helpful."
  3568. >Twilight nods, the door clicks shut, and your request appears on the floor before you in a flash of purple
  3569. >You both relocate to a nearby table and you get set up before starting
  3570. "Alright, Chrissy, so the first thing I need to know is what kind of schedule to work in. When do you want the chosen subject in front of you?"
  3571. >Chrysalis thinks for a moment, eyes passing over the entire room before settling back on you
  3572. [o]>"Let's say two weeks."[/o]
  3573. >You scribble down the answer and make a few bullets and a new tab below it
  3574. "Okay, now what would you like out of the chosen subject?"
  3575. >She takes her time thinking again before coming to another conclusion
  3576. [o]>"At the very least, someone in good health with a stable mental state and a strong body. I'd also prefer someone with a lot of love to give and a proper appreciation of the moment, but it's not mandatory."[/o]
  3577. "Right, right."
  3578. >You write down the last bullet before writing another tab
  3579. "Do you care how many subjects who pass are sent to you, or is there a specific number or limit you want?"
  3580. [o]>"I doubt you'll find even one, but should you somehow find more than that then by all means, send them all. I can handle it."[/o]
  3581. >Another few words are jotted down before you finish up with your last question
  3582. "And finally, is there anything I should know that wasn't covered by my questions?"
  3583. [o]>"Just in case this endeavor goes as I imagine it will, plan B is still an option."[/o]
  3584. >Oh, yeah
  3585. >Plan B is still a thing
  3586. >You wipe a bead of sweat forming just under your mane away before folding up the paper
  3587. "Then I think that about covers it. I'll get to work on all this as soon as I get back to Ponyville, and I'll get back to you with any significant applicants so you can have final approval over who you choose."
  3588. [o]>"And I'll be waiting. I know you won't disappoint me, no matter what happens. I suppose we should let the others back in too, now that we're done."[/o]
  3589. >You nod and walk over to the door, giving it a few knocks to alert those outside
  3590. >Once the party's back together, Twilight drags you back to the room you both were staying in to discuss the plans for your assignment
  3591. >"Now, what do we need to find, how does it need to happen, and how long do we have to do it?"
  3592. "Well, I have it- Wait, didn't you say I was doing this myself?"
  3593. >"You're doing all the planning and decision-making yourself, I'm just going to be your mouthpiece through all this."
  3594. "That would be pretty helpful... So, what exactly would you be doing?"
  3595. >"Whatever requires interacting with other ponies; writing memos, conducting the tests, informing those selected of the circumstances, that sort of thing."
  3596. "Okay, cool. So, as I was saying, I wrote down all the info Chrysalis gave me on that paper you gave me, feel free to take a look at it."
  3597. >Twilight levitates your folded paper over to herself and unfolds it, focus passing between each bullet point as she informs herself of the parameters
  3598. >She refolds the paper once she's done with it, nodding in contemplation of ideas that you can only hope to imagine
  3599. >"So, what's the game plan?"
  3600. "Not entirely sure. Any ideas?"
  3601. >"That's not my job in all this. I'm sure you at least have [i]something[/i], right? Every idea starts off bad, so don't worry."
  3602. >You think to yourself and throw ideas around inside your head as Twilight waits expectantly
  3603. "... I guess we should start with finding applicants, so we should probably find some way to get word about that out to the entire country. Does Celestia have some kind of public broadcasting system?"
  3604. >Twilight stares blankly at you before putting together what the word 'broadcasting' probably means
  3605. >"Technically she does, but it would only work for unicorns."
  3606. "It's better than nothing. Why does it only work for unicorns, though?"
  3607. >Twilight thinks for a moment about how best to explain this to you
  3608. >"It's... Do you have a concept of telepathy, where you come from?"
  3609. "So she pretty much just transmits a thought through magic to anything able to read it?"
  3610. >"More or less."
  3611. "That'll work, all we need is to make sure word gets spread around, and letting the listeners know to spread the word to those not as magically inclined should probably handle that."
  3612. >"Alright, that's how we get the word out. Now, the next part of the plan: we need to establish the trials and make appropriate baselines for them. Any ideas about that?"
  3613. >You take a moment to consider the criteria in place
  3614. >Sound mind
  3615. >Strong body
  3616. >Willing to properly appreciate the moment
  3617. >You're starting to get ideas and you're starting to like how things are working out in your mind
  3618. >It may not be a perfect idea, it may not even work for all you know
  3619. >However, it'll get everything done that it needs to and more, hopefully
  3620. "Okay, so hear me out on this. We start it off with having Celestia not say what exactly this all is for but just give the statement that able-bodied and smart stallions are needed for an important task and that they should report to you."
  3621. >Twilight raises a quizzical eyebrow, but doesn't interrupt
  3622. "Then, we have them run through tests of both strength and endurance to test their physical viability with benchmarks set probably by Rainbow Dash and Applejack or somepony like them."
  3623. >The quizzical stare turns to a thoughtful one
  3624. "Then, we have those who passed the first round go through a test made by you to determine how mentally viable they are."
  3625. >Twilight begins to nod silently as your idea comes together
  3626. "Finally, you reveal to those left after that what this was all for and give them the option to walk out if they want to. Those who remain after all that are all the ponies we'll send to Chrissy."
  3627. >"You had me until we're supposed to let them walk out after doing all that."
  3628. >Looks like your idea wasn't as bad-
  3629. >Hold up
  3630. "Wait, why?"
  3631. >"If we give them an option to walk after all that, we'll have wasted both our time and theirs when they leave."
  3632. "What makes you so sure they'll leave?"
  3633. >"Because Chrysalis threatened this country with her plots not once, but twice and nearly succeeded both times. All this on top of the fact that she's still not redeemed in the eyes of the public or has been redeemed physically? That's just asking for ponies to want to stay as far from her as possible. We either tell them up front, don't tell them until it's too late for them to back out, or do what you're thinking and come up with nothing."
  3634. >She has a point
  3635. >So do pencils, and yet they still have erasers in case of mistakes!
  3636. >Suit yourself, I'm just the narrator
  3637. >You still don't want to waver from your idea to make sure Chrissy gets a pony who'll do right by her, so you think up a way to disregard everything Twilight just said
  3638. "I thought you weren't the one who was supposed to have ideas in this."
  3639. >Twilight huffs a bit before responding
  3640. >"Fine, I'll hold my tongue and just say 'yes ma'am' to everything."
  3641. >You're also going to disregard the sarcasm laced into there
  3642. "'Yes sir' would be preferred if you really insist on the extra formality. Now, I believe we have a public service announcement to write."
  3643. >A few minutesof walking and drafting later, both you and Twilight are back in Celestia's office on more official business
  3644. "... So that's the plan that Twilight and I have at this point. Can you put out that announcement for me?"
  3645. >Celestia closes her eyes, sighs, and then leans over her desk again to look at you
  3646. [o]>"You want me to telepathically announce this for you, to ALL MAGICALLY SUSCEPTIBLE CREATURES within this country, and to have the word then be spread via word-of-mouth to all those who didn't receive the message from me directly?"[/o]
  3647. >You stare her right in the eyes as you announce your answer
  3648. "Yes."
  3649. [o]>"Did I not already tell you that I would be fronting the costs of all this? You could simply have advertisements placed where ponies are likely to see them."[/o]
  3650. >You think back to the previous conversation where you were first put in charge of all this mess
  3651. "Actually, you never mentioned it."
  3652. >Celestia's exasperation sublimates into surprise at hearing this
  3653. [o]>"Then I suppose it's a good thing that you came back to me before actually starting any of this. Don't worry about costs, I'm sure Twilight will have an invoice to my desk with the damages once this is all over."[/o]
  3654. >Okay then, slight change of plans given the effective blank check you've been given
  3655. >What those slight changes will amount to by the end of it all, you're not sure
  3656. >However, at least you won't be worrying about funds for this!
  3657. "A good thing indeed. I'll be careful to not put you into debt, but if any part of my plans come to involve an indoor pool or a solid gold statue of myself, I'm not holding back."
  3658. [o]>"As long as those items are absolutely essential, otherwise they're coming out of your pay. Also, from personal experience, you're better off with a lead statue plated with gold. Same effect, less cost."[/o]
  3659. "But in all seriousness, thank you for clearing that all up for me. I'll get out of your mane now and will get back to you as soon as I have something to say."
  3660. >Celestia nods in agreement, returning to her now significantly smaller stack of papers as you and Twilight make your exit
  3661. >As soon as the door's closed for the second time, you speak to your purple guardian
  3662. "Please tell me I'm not completely brainless."
  3663. >Once again, Twilight's taken aback by your bluntness, this time directed at yourself
  3664. >"You're not brainless, the rest of your plan's solid. Yes, it was implied that Princess Celestia would be covering the costs, but from what I've seen of you, you've never been too good at picking up on implications. Don't sweat it!"
  3665. "I guess. Still, one would think that I'd get better at it over time, but I have all night and tomorrow to kick myself. Let's get back to planning, okay?"
  3666. >"You're the boss. So, what else needs planning?"
  3667. >Quite a few things, if you remember correctly
  3668. >You still need to figure out how the tests will work, you need to decide how to run the ads, you need to decide where to have all this take place...
  3669. "I'll organize my ideas on the way back to the room."
  3670. >Twilight nods in understanding as you lead the way down the hall, but she soon overtakes you as you remember that you have no idea how to get back to your room
  3671. >Once you two have resumed your respective positions, you lay out your hallway thoughts to her
  3672. "Okay, so we need to plan the trials and where they'll take place, and how to run the ads. If there's anything else, then please remind me."
  3673. >Twilight's eyes flash to a clipboard she's holding, presumably with notes of what was said before, before rising back to yours
  3674. >"We still need to figure out what'll happen when every selected subject walks out when they learn about what they're supposed to do."
  3675. >You sigh through gritted teeth at the mention of that point
  3676. "Look, I get it. That's probably going to happen, but I know that Chrysalis deserves better than somepony who was forced into it. Besides, wouldn't not giving the option for them to leave be against some kind law?"
  3677. >"It wouldn't be against the law if they signed a contract."
  3678. "It would still be immoral though, so I'm not changing that."
  3679. >"Then what will happen after it all falls through?"
  3680. "Well, Chrissy told me that the backup plan from when I was at the hive with her is still valid."
  3681. >Twilight pauses and sighs briefly as she shuts her eyes for a moment
  3682. >"I had forgotten about that, thank you for putting that image back into my head."
  3683. "Sorry about that, but it's a legitimate idea that Chrissy thinks can work, so why not use it?"
  3684. >"Oh, I don't know, the fact that you're not just another species, but from another universe would probably throw a pretty big wrench in there."
  3685. "Then what would you suggest?"
  3686. >"I'm not the one in charge here, remember? I can only advise you on a plan C, not give you one."
  3687. >This shit again!
  3688. >She's willing to go so far as to correct you, but not actually give you an idea to work with?
  3689. >The fuck, dude?!
  3690. "Then when's your brother coming to town next?"
  3691. >"No."
  3692. "I don't know man; it seemed like he enjoyed it enough. I mean, if I had someone willing to go [i]all night,[/i] I wouldn't be complaining."
  3693. >You let out a small giggle at Twilight's expense as she tries (and fails) to stop her face from flushing in frustration
  3694. >After another moment, she finally just takes a few deep breaths before responding
  3695. >"I'll have you know he required medical treatment after that. Besides, aren't we supposed to be serious right now?"
  3696. >Medical treatment?
  3697. "What made treatment necessary?"
  3698. >"Exhaustion, dehydration, extreme magical fatigue, mild delirium, and newfound trust issues."
  3699. >Oh
  3700. >Well, now you feel a little bad
  3701. "Dang, didn't know about that part. The show pretty much just cut from Chrysalis being defeated to the real wedding happening. Sorry about that."
  3702. >"Now you know. So, plan C?"
  3703. >This may require some thought
  3704. >It may also require some more questions being passed by Chrissy
  3705. "I'll get back to you about that. Also, Spike can send letters to a pony even if he doesn't know where they are, right?"
  3706. >"As long as he has a name and a face, he should be able to do it. Why do you ask?"
  3707. "Because plan C might require asking some more questions."
  3708. >"Fair enough. Any beginnings to ideas yet?"
  3709. "No, not yet. I think we've about covered all we can for this topic though, so how about we move on?"
  3710. >"Alright, what's the next order of business?"
  3711. "The tests and where to hold them."
  3712. >"I'll handle that. Next?"
  3713. "That just leaves the ad placement, I guess. You've been here longer than me, what kind of media do ponies pay attention to the most?"
  3714. >"Really, the only place we could run media ads is newspapers. There are other methods too, but the media angle's pretty limited."
  3715. "How effective do you think the newspaper ads would be?"
  3716. >Twilight tilts her head to the ceiling and rubs a hoof against her chin before looking back to you
  3717. >"I'd say it would give us a decent sample size."
  3718. "Are there any other methods you think would be better?"
  3719. >A few more seconds tick by as Twilight goes back to her thoughts
  3720. >"No, not particularly."
  3721. "Then we'll run ads in all the major newspapers and give them a definitive date to be here by for testing, probably around four days before the deadline. That should give enough time to run all the tests and get the ones who passed to the badlands in time."
  3722. >Twilight finishes scribbling your plan into her notes, then sets aside the clipboard
  3723. >"Sounds like a solid plan. I guess that takes care of everything, so all that's left is to pack for tomorrow's train ride home."
  3724. >Good, all this thinking has left you a little worn out
  3725. >And hey, the bright side of losing your bag on the train is that you don't have to repack it!
  3726. >Well, as long as the interdimensional tentacle monster currently molesting your belongings hasn't strewn them about whatever hellscape it calls home
  3727. >No, you're still not over that
  3728. >Either way, you let Twilight do her thing with packing
  3729. >You offered to help, but she had it done before you could finish the sentence
  3730. >After that, the rest of the day is free!
  3731. "So, what now?"
  3732. >"Not sure. Is there anything you'd like to do?"
  3733. >Is there?
  3734. >Well, looking back on the events of the day, you never really had any plans for what would happen after everything was said and done
  3735. >You should probably think about that
  3736. >Well, you would if a letter hadn't appeared before the both of you in a plume of green fire
  3737. >"I wonder what took Spike this long to get back to us?"
  3738. "I dunno, open it up and see."
  3739. >Twilight follows your recommendation as you're saying it and begins reading the letter to herself
  3740. >After a few seconds, she re-rolls it and tosses it into her bag
  3741. >"Good news, your stuff got back to the castle alright. Also, apparently Spike wasn't where I put the letter, in case you were wondering."
  3742. >Okay, good!
  3743. >Your stuff's home safe and sound, untouched by dimension-hopping monster kleptomaniacs
  3744. >"So, back to my question. Anything you want to do?"
  3745. "Not really, no."
  3746. >"Nothing it is!"
  3747. >Normally you'd be fine with nothing, but you also normally have some electronic on you to help kill time
  3748. "But before we do that, is there anything you'd like to do?"
  3749. >Twilight takes your question into consideration before coming to an answer in short time
  3750. >"Well, I do have that question to ask Chrysalis and I'd also like to take a look at what the royal library has to offer on changelings, but I'm not sure how much that would entertain you and I could accomplish at least one of those from the castle."
  3751. "Fuck it, let's do that."
  3752. >"Language."
  3753. >You exhale rather loudly in response before following Twilight out of the room and off to your next order of business
  3754. >While Twilight spends her time in the library interviewing Chrysalis and comparing notes with what is currently known about changelings by ponykind, you spend it chronicling the events of your time here further while learning more about chess with Luna
  3755. >Now that you know the pieces, you can actually play!
  3756. >However, the time between Luna making a move and you ending your turn is great enough that you're actually able to write a significant amount
  3757. >She's probably just trying to find the best way to go easy on you, no wonder you actually seem to be winning
  3758. >Around the time you win your first game, Twilight decides that it's time to pack up shop
  3759. >As such, you say your goodbyes to your friends and follow Twilight back to your room
  3760. >When she gets there, she places the books she checked out and papers on a small table before sighing to nobody in particular
  3761. >"There's a lot wrong in these books... Well, I guess I'll just have to set it right."
  3762. "Gonna write a book, are you?"
  3763. >Twilight turns to face you
  3764. >"Yeah, is there something wrong?"
  3765. "No, I just figured you'd be content to make a research paper. Want me to contribute anything I learned at the hive to it?"
  3766. >Twilight considers your offer before responding to you
  3767. >"Sure, my questioning only really focused on biological matters, so input on the social ones would help greatly."
  3768. "Okay, but we're splitting the profits 50/50 and I'm getting my name on the cover too."
  3769. >"I'll give you 10% and keep letting you live in my castle for free, and your name will be on the inside of the cover."
  3770. "15% and the back cover along with proper credits."
  3771. >"Deal. I hope you don't mind there being no profits, since this'll be for educational purposes."
  3772. "Why does the educational aspect make it free?"
  3773. >"Because that wouldn't be fair to those wanting to learn."
  3774. >Twilight narrows her eyes at you as she prepares her followup
  3775. >"Don't tell me that they actually make students pay for the opportunity to grow their minds where you come from."
  3776. >Time to let her down easy
  3777. "They do at the higher levels of education, but a lot of people are starting to realize it's a scam. At least they were, when I was there last."
  3778. >"Those poor humans. At least they're fixing the problem, right?"
  3779. "They're working on it. Also, why didn't you know about that from your trip through that mirror? From what I saw, it was very close to my own world in spirit."
  3780. >"If you know that much, then you should also remember that my mission there had me placed into a secondary education center instead of a tertiary one."
  3781. >Oh yeah, she's technically not legal as a human
  3782. >Wait
  3783. "Okay, that just made me remember another question I had about that. Why are you a full-grown adult here but a high schooler in that world?"
  3784. >Twilight shrugs at you over an anatomy book
  3785. >"If I knew, then I'd probably also know how to completely negate the transformation to begin with and make it a moot point."
  3786. >Huh
  3787. >Now it's your turn to shrug, but you do it in a way that shows indifferent acceptance rather than confusion
  3788. >"Anyway, where were we? Right, changeling book."
  3789. >Twilight turns to you again and levitates down some paper and a pencil to you without taking her eyes off her work
  3790. >"Go ahead and write down everything you can remember about your time in Chrysalis's hive and I'll see what I can pull from it. There'll probably be questions when you're done too, so answer what you can and don't be afraid to say you don't know something."
  3791. >After that, Twilight goes back fully to what she was doing, leaving you to write down the events of those fateful few days
  3792. >It goes rather fast, thanks to your slowly-improving memory, and you give the filled pages to Twilight when you finish
  3793. >She looks through the papers you gave her before returning her gaze to you
  3794. >"I have no questions that you would be able to immediately answer, but there's definitely a lot in here that flies in the face of what was conventionally thought about the changelings. I'll probably have to ask Chrysalis about a lot of this and see how valid it is, but it's definitely worthy of mention, at least."
  3795. "Cool, does that mean I get credit in the book or not?"
  3796. >"We'll see. Now, it's starting to get a bit late, why not turn in for the night? Remember, the train tomorrow's an early one."
  3797. >It's late?
  3798. >Can't be, you're still feeling fine!
  3799. >Time to assert your dominance through your correctness by looking out the window...
  3800. >Pull back the drapes, and-
  3801. >-And the moon's silently judging you from its perch in the sky again
  3802. "Fair point. I guess it's goodnight, then."
  3803. >"Yep, goodnight!"
  3804. >Twilight puts away all of your and her papers before turning off the light
  3805. >You both get comfortable in bed and pass the night in unconscious silence
  3806. >. . .
  3807. >Your dreams also pass uneventfully, with more chess lessons and Luna demonstrating her full ability to you
  3808. >Somehow, she managed to beat you in literally two turns [s]fun fact, that's actually possible![/s]
  3809. >After suffering this brutal defense, you decide that the pace of regular chess is just too slow
  3810. >Time for a redesign!
  3811. >Yes, a single turn should only pass once every piece a player chooses to move has been moved (only once, of course), and checkmate no longer ends the game!
  3812. >After all, in real wars all the troops can move and act independently of each other
  3813. >However, it would probably take a while to end the game completely with full board-wiping in effect, so maybe a turn limit would also help?
  3814. >Fuck it, why not just make this full ChessHammer and start giving pieces toughness and wounds, too?
  3815. >Because that would ruin the full spirit of chess instead of making it more realistic, that's why
  3816. >Well, you could at least take your less frankenstein-y ideas and tell Luna
  3817. >"That's a horrible idea."
  3818. "But why?"
  3819. >"Let's try a round and I'll show you, I'll start."
  3820. >True to her word, Luna takes every piece on her side of the board and moves them all forward and into various defensive and offensive positions
  3821. >Now, it's your turn!
  3822. >Let's see if that late mover advantage can work in your favor here
  3823. >... Nope, you're in just about the same position as her, only now it's her turn again
  3824. >With a few decisive movements, Luna clears half of your side of the table before gearing up to decimate the other half
  3825. >"I'm ending my turn now so you can at least attempt to fight back."
  3826. >You look over the board, surveying what you have left
  3827. >A few scattered pawns, a knight, both bishops, and your king
  3828. >You can work with this, right?
  3829. >Yeah, you probably can!
  3830. >Ignore the fact that I know even less about chess than you do, you got this!
  3831. >You play your pieces and take a few of hers before your turn's over, but you realize that the game's going to end this turn for sure
  3832. >Luna surveys the board for a second before resetting the board to starting positions
  3833. >"I'm sure you realized I was going to win anyways, but can you guess why?"
  3834. "Because you moved first, you were able to set up your entire defense before I was able to move a single piece. White player has that insane defensive and offensive advantage due to the early moves they can make, thus making black lose in any sort of an even-skilled game."
  3835. >"Good, you're learning. One thing I'd like to know though, is what gave you that idea to begin with?"
  3836. "Well, there are a few games back home that work like that in terms of piece movement. However, that's also balanced out by the fact that the game has separate phases where pieces can attack each other and activate abilities and whatnot."
  3837. >"So a more standard war game?"
  3838. >I mean...
  3839. "... Yeah, pretty much."
  3840. >"Then why don't we play one of those? I know a few and have gotten fairly good at them, that could be fun."
  3841. "Okay, but I warn you: I only really know how to play one game. Do you have anything like Warhammer 40K here?"
  3842. >"The name doesn't ring any bells, try describing some of the mechanics."
  3843. >You run down the whole list, from toughness and wounds to perils of the warp to weapons to miniatures to army building, point totals and even the factions, without a single spark of recognization crossing Luna's face
  3844. "... And that's it. I guess you don't know it."
  3845. >"I suppose not, but that's no reason for us to not still play it. Why not teach me?"
  3846. "Probably because it would take a long time, and I'm not too sure how long this dream will last."
  3847. >Luna glances downward in thought, considering what you've said, before igniting her horn
  3848. >After a few more moments, her horn stops glowing and she looks back to you
  3849. >"We've got about a minute of real time, which means about an hour of dream time. What can you do in an hour?"
  3850. >You consider what you know about 40K in terms of setting and rules before making a decision
  3851. "Either I can make an army for you and I can teach you mechanics, or we can save the mechanics until after you have an idea of the world and what everything's like there so you can choose your own faction and army."
  3852. >Luna considers her options carefully, taking a couple of seconds to make her decision
  3853. >"Let's hear the lore, it's never a bad thing to start with."
  3854. >You take a deep breath and gather your thoughts on how to best summarize the entirety of warhammer 40K's lore within an hour while still keeping it rich and interesting
  3855. "Well, it all started with these sentient psychic frogs called the Old Ones, these irradiated husks called the Necrontyr, and these other free-floating star-eating clouds called the C'tan."
  3856. >Good start, let's keep it going
  3857. "The Old Ones created a massive, galaxy-spanning empire some millions of years ago from current time, and they grew very powerful and very adept with their psychic skills, to the point that they could create and modify existing life. However, when the Necrontyr finally made it off of their star-blasted world and into the Old Ones' empire and learned of this, the Old Ones denied the Necrontyrs' plea for help."
  3858. >"How rude, why would they not give them help?"
  3859. "Blah blah the universe has plans, blah blah deal with it. At least that's what I gathered from my own readings, but anyway, the Necrontyr were understandably pissed about that, so when they found out about the C'tan, they decided to turn them into weapons to topple the Old Ones' monopoly on the galaxy. The C'tan were lured into giant metal bodies by the Necrontyr and were as a result given incredible intelligence and near-godlike power, as well as a taste for souls."
  3860. >This is taking a bit of a while, maybe hurry it up?
  3861. >I'm trying, but this isn't too easy!
  3862. "The C'tan then decided to go along with what the Necrontyr wanted, but it came at a cost. The C'tan consumed the souls of almost every Necrontyr and transformed their bodies from flesh to metal, turning them into soulless machines bent on ending all life. The Necrontyr turned Necrons then set about genociding the Old Ones and their creations as they encountered them."
  3863. >Luna's eyes widen as your description goes further into the realm of violence still largely unheard of by ponies
  3864. "The Old Ones then retaliated through the creation of the Krork, a hybrid between animal and fungus and made solely for warfare, and possibly another species that shall remain unnamed for a very long time, and also by raising up this third species called the Eldar to their level. By the way, Eldar are to humans as alicorns are to regular ponies if alicorns were uppity racists and also another species. Together, they just barely managed to keep the Necrons at bay for long enough for the C'tan to consume each other through political schemes and force the Necrons to begin retreating fullscale and going dormant with the remaining C'tan following suit."
  3865. >A small sigh passes from her lungs, coupled by a slight relaxation of her expression
  3866. "Don't think it's over just yet, we're only getting started and Humanity still hasn't come around. Anyway, at the end of this massive bloody war, the Old Ones are rendered extinct with the Eldar taking their place, the Krork becoming the Orks, and the afterlife known as the Realm of Souls becoming fairly fucked up by the entire interaction. More on that later, when things get even worse!
  3867. >Alright, time for a massive timesaving skip!
  3868. "As time passes, Eldar society grows stronger alongside their empire, they find out that gods can be created in the Realm of Souls and create their own pantheon, and a very important man is born on Earth after a ritualistic mass-suicide is performed by every human shaman."
  3869. >"What's a shaman?"
  3870. "At least in 40K's lore, shamans were early psychic humans. In real life, think of them as zebra alchemists except without the magic or the full knowledge of chemistry."
  3871. >Luna nods and signals for you to keep going
  3872. "From there, nothing else interesting happens for several millennia. Humanity rises to the peak of its power and builds its own empire, the Eldar grow steadily more depraved and degenerate with their actions, and the Realm of Souls, now called the Warp, births three of the four chaos gods: Khorne, god of war and bloodshed, Nurgle, god of pestilence and decay, and Tzeentch, god of change and schemes."
  3873. >This is where luna cuts you off again
  3874. >"It seems pretty important for three gods to be created out of nowhere, not to mention completely neglecting to mention how or why. Could you please elaborate on them and tell me why you decided to gloss over it?"
  3875. "I glossed over it because they don't really do much yet, but I can still explain it. They were born in the same way the Eldar pantheon was, but more accidentally and across all species that share a soul. Khorne was created from the collective feelings of anger and acts of violence committed throughout the galaxy, Nurgle was created from periods of great disease, famine, and other such situations and the feelings they generate, and Tzeentch was created from the intense political plots and times of great change that happened across the galaxy and the feelings they generated."
  3876. >"So they're manifestations of the galaxy's emotions given immense power and sentience?"
  3877. "Yeah, pretty much. Anyway, back to the action! Eventually, the Eldar grow so depraved and degenerate in their actions that they birth a fourth chaos god, Slaanesh. Slaanesh, symbolizing excess in all its forms, then proceeds to consume all but three of the Eldar pantheon, almost every single living Eldar's soul, and many of the Eldar empire's core worlds. However, in the buildup to this, a massive set of warp storms have prevented Humanity's empire from being able to continue sustaining itself, so it all falls apart at the seams. Meanwhile on Earth, now called Terra, that guy from 8,000 years ago our time has finally decided to reveal himself!"
  3878. >"Wait, how far into the future is this all?"
  3879. "Around 23 to 27 thousand years."
  3880. >"So he's been around for 33,000ish years at this point?"
  3881. "I probably neglected to mention that he's both immortal and the most powerful psychic in the galaxy."
  3882. >"That would explain it."
  3883. "So anyway, the guy comes out and reveals himself to reunite Humanity in this, our darkest hour, by first reuniting Terra. He does this by first declaring himself emperor, and then by creating an army of genetically engineered supersoldiers to fight alongside him. Needless to say, he stomped out all resistance quickly. From there, he moved on to reuniting the solar system by then moving on and reclaiming Mars, the first planet Humanity colonized. He met significantly more resistance, but he had prepared for this with his newest project, 20 sons of his, created to serve as generals and as leaders of humanity alongside him. However, the chaos gods had other plans."
  3884. >Luna's eyes begin to widen even more in anticipation of what's to come
  3885. "The chaos gods, spurred finally into action by Slaanesh, their newest member, decide to steal the emperor's sons, called primarchs, and spread them across Humanity's shattered empire and succeeded. The Emperor, not to be dissuaded by setbacks, took the remaining genetic information on the primarchs he had and used it to create even super-er soldiers, called Space Marines, and formed them into 20 legions based on who served as their base. With these space marines he managed to finish beating Mars into submission and gain the advantage of having such a technological powerhouse aiding him in his mission. From there, he spread out into the galaxy to find his lost sons."
  3886. >Her expression changes to minor disappointment
  3887. "What's up?"
  3888. >"It just seemed like the buildup would lead to something else. You know, from how hyperviolent everything else has been, I was expecting a bit more than stealing."
  3889. "Don't worry, there's good reason behind why they only stole the primarchs that we'll get to soon. Now-"
  3890. >"Actually, we're almost out of time for this dream; we'll have to continue tomorrow."
  3891. "Really? This soon?"
  3892. >"I can feel the change coming, I estimate another minute of our time."
  3893. "Oh well, at least this is a good stopping point for now. Next time, we'll get into the rest of it and then you can pick an army!"
  3894. >"And I'm looking forward to it. Until then!"
  3895. >You wave goodbye to Luna as she removes herself from your dreamscape and your mind as a whole, leaving you to continue the night in sleep
  3896. >. . .
  3897. >The morning begins anew with Twilight nudging you awake to keep with scheduling, so nothing new
  3898. >You get ready as you need to before going to say your goodbyes to all the royalty present, and Twilight has you both on the train back home by 10 AM
  3899. >Doing some math based on past trips, you estimate a four-hour journey back, so you should be home at around 2
  3900. >A perfect amount of time for you to check your stuff when you get to it and make sure nothing was taken
  3901. >Twilight's probably also going to make you do whatever homework you have to do too, but that shouldn't take too long
  3902. >After that, it's down to supervising Twilight as she does what she needs to get your plan into motion properly
  3903. >Some hours and many passing thoughts later, you and Twilight have returned to Ponyville!
  3904. >The trip back to the castle is over in a flash too, quite literally
  3905. >The purple haze fades from your vision and you find yourself just inside the front door of the castle, stationed a few feet from a fairly startled dragon
  3906. [o]>"A little warning would be great next time!"[/o]
  3907. >"Sorry about that, Spike, I didn't expect you would be right here."
  3908. [o]>"Just don't blind-teleport around like that anymore, one of these days you're going to put yourself inside something."[/o]
  3909. >"Don't worry about it, I've already run tests. The teleportation spell has a displacement field of around 0.5 meters, so long as I place myself in a fairly empty area, I won't appear inside anything as anything that I could appear inside will have been pushed away by the act of teleporting."
  3910. [o]>"Well it still scares ponies, so it's not a good idea."[/o]
  3911. >"Noted. Now, how were things while we were gone?"
  3912. [o]>"Not bad, nothing interesting to report."[/o]
  3913. >Spike soon retracts that statement, however
  3914. [o]>"Actually, I just remembered. Anon, I'm sorry, but I accidentally dropped your suitcase when I was carrying it back to your room, and it opened up when it went down the stairs."[/o]
  3915. >Fucking clumsy dragon, can't be trusted with anything
  3916. "Don't worry, as long as nothing broke or got lost it's fine."
  3917. [o]>"Nothing broke, as far as I know; I guess that makes things fine. Anyway, that's actually it, so I won't bother you further and go back to what I was doing before."[/o]
  3918. >And with that, Spike makes his exit
  3919. "Now I'm going to let you do what you need to handle the test designing and all that, I'm going to check and see what needs to be done before school tomorrow."
  3920. >Twilight nods in affirmation before adding one more thing
  3921. >"Also, don't forget to work on a plan C."
  3922. "Got it, I'll see what I can come up with."
  3923. >You and her now part ways, with you going up to your room to work on various things while Twilight goes somewhere else to plan out things to come
  3924. >However, your first order of business is actually seeing if any of your shit is broken or not
  3925. >Your clothes are fine, albeit wrinkled
  3926. >Hitler and Aryanne are still in good condition
  3927. >Your phone's case took the majority of the fall, seeing as the phone itself has no cracks and turns on fine
  3928. >The charger and magitech generator are also still okay
  3929. >Cool, everything's still in working order
  3930. >You also look through your bag and find the homework Twilight packed for you
  3931. >Nope, you didn't do it on the train up
  3932. >Guess it's a good thing you set aside time now for it!
  3933. >A few minutes and a couple of minor history headaches later, it's all done
  3934. >Good, now for the main thing you have to deal with!
  3935. >You search your nightstand for any spare papers that you haven't written all over, but find none
  3936. >Rip
  3937. >Looks like you gotta check elsewhere...
  3938. >Think, where would there be paper around here?
  3939. >Well, you should probably ask one of the two who have been here longer, namely Spike since you have little to no idea where Twilight could be
  3940. >You head down to the basement, and sure enough, purple junior's there
  3942. >Be Spike
  3943. >You're still a bit unnerved by Twilight and Anon appearing in front of you so suddenly, but this isn't the first time Twilight's done it
  3944. >At least you were somewhat expecting it those other times...
  3945. >But anyway, you've gotten back to business with a new comic that the comic store owner recommended to you
  3946. >You never were one for the more graphic side of things, but a few blood drops really do add some extra realism to fights
  3947. >Your art appreciation is paused by the entrance of a small green horse to your room, though
  3948. [o]>"Sup Spike, mind telling me where I can find some paper?"[/o]
  3949. "Sure, what for?"
  3950. [o]>"Writing a letter, I'm also going to need you to send it too, if that's not too much trouble."[/o]
  3951. "Not at all, I'll get you some paper and an envelope to put it in and even show you where to find it for later if you'll follow me."
  3952. >You get up from your chair and lead Anon back up the stairs
  3953. >To break up the silence of the trip to get paper, you decide to ask some questions
  3954. >"Hey uh, I hope you don't mind me asking, but what was that stuff you packed in the suitcase?"
  3955. >An answer doesn't immediately come
  3956. >In fact, it takes a while for an answer to come
  3957. [o]>"Sentimental things, mainly. I get it seems weird, but there are personal reasons for me keeping all of it close."[/o]
  3958. >Weird answer, but you'll take it
  3959. >"Mind if I ask what they are? I haven't seen anything like them before, so I'm just wondering."
  3960. >Again, it takes an odd amount of time to get an answer
  3961. [o]>"I'd tell you, but it's less confusing for me to not."[/o]
  3962. >Now you're starting to get a bit more confused
  3963. >Confusion isn't really helping you though, so let's just put that all aside and change the subject
  3964. "Alright. On a different note, mind if I ask who the letter's for?"
  3965. [o]>"Do you want to know now, or when I'm done with it?"[/o]
  3966. "I kinda have to know if I'm going to be sending it, so why not now?"
  3967. [o]>"Fair point. Don't say I didn't warn you, but it's for Chrysalis."[/o]
  3968. >Stop
  3969. >And you do, right where you stand
  3970. >While organizing your thoughts, you slowly turn to face the pony behind you
  3971. "wHY?"
  3972. [o]>"I hate to say it again, but it would be less confusing for me to not tell you."[/o]
  3973. "Nah, I want to hear it. I want to hear the exact reason that would bring a filly your age to send a letter to CHRYSALIS."
  3974. [o]>"I'd tell you, but it's also a long story that I'm not quite sure Twilight would appreciate me telling you."[/o]
  3975. "And why would that be?"
  3976. [o]>"Remember that time I disappeared for a few days and when I came back I told you that the events were classified by order of Twilight?"[/o]
  3977. >Yeah, but then Twilight just said that she was fillynapped
  3978. >Either way, you maintain an expression of skepticism and nod
  3979. [o]>"Well, it all started around that time and I'm not telling you the details without Twilight giving me express permission to do so, so just trust me and drop it."[/o]
  3980. "I'm guessing it wouldn't also have something to do with that time that Chrysalis and one of her subjects were our houseguests, too?"
  3981. >You add that on almost sarcastically
  3982. >Almost, because you were still expecting the answer Anon gives you
  3983. [o]>"Yeah, and just like back then I'm telling you to not think about it too hard and trust me. I know you don't want to; I'd certainly push further if I were you, but take it from somebody who knows exactly what's going on: it's a massive trainwreck of events that will only serve to raise more questions than it answers."[/o]
  3984. >You close your eyes, pinch the bridge of your snout, and sigh in defeat
  3985. "Fine, I'll stop asking about it. I don't like it, but I'll stop asking."
  3986. >You're not promising to not think about it though, especially since you're not sure if you could stop yourself from doing so
  3987. [o]>"Thanks, I'm not sure how Twilight would like it if I broke silence surrounding any of it, so just keep what I've already told you under wraps, too. 'Kay?"[/o]
  3988. "Yeah, I'll keep it to myself..."
  3989. [o]>"Cool! Now, the paper?"[/o]
  3990. "This way."
  3991. >You go back to leading Anon through the castle on your quest to find paper and envelopes, your mind swimming with thoughts and not an answer in sight
  3992. >Be Anonymous
  3993. >Spike finally leads you to the supply closet, which you mentally mark down the location of for later
  3994. >You get your stationery and head back to your room with Spike in tow, thinking about what you should write on the way
  3995. >It would probably be a good idea to start off with a professional opening and leave the casualty for the end, if any
  3996. >Hm, maybe something along the lines of 'Dear Chrysalis, I would like to ask for your assistance in-'
  3997. >Nah, too long to get to the point
  3998. >Maybe 'I would like your input on-'
  3999. >Better, but can we do even better?
  4000. >You think on it for a minute and get close a few times, but nothing improves on the lead you already have
  4001. >Oh well, you're in your room now and your pen is right where you left it!
  4002. >So, you get to work
  4003. "Dear Chrysalis,
  4004. I would like your input on matters involving our proposed plan B, and a suggestion for a potential plan C should both plans A and B fail. I continue to have confidence in your judgements concerning the executions of both plan A and B as they are, however Twilight has asked that a plan C be drafted just in case and I have so far been unable to come up with anything suitable. To this end, I would appreciate input towards what you think would be an acceptable plan C for our situation so that we may be prepared in the worst-case scenario.
  4005. I also understand that such matters may take some time to think over properly, so I do not expect an immediate reply. However, [-]to get Twilight off my back[/-] to expedite the planning process here, I would still appreciate word coming when you are able to send it.
  4006. Kindest regards, Anonymous"
  4007. >You then fold up the paper, lick the envelope shut, address it just in case, and hand it off to the cross-armed dragon next to you
  4008. "You got this, right?"
  4009. >Spike lets out an irritated sigh before grabbing the letter
  4010. [o]>"I'm not sure whether it's better if I do or don't."[/o]
  4011. "You better have it covered, otherwise I'm telling Celestia that I couldn't get everything done because Spike didn't send a letter right."
  4012. >That gets his attention
  4013. [o]>"Even the princesses are mixed up in this?"[/o]
  4014. "Yeah, so don't disappoint me so that I don't disappoint them, please."
  4015. >Spike then proceeds to stare off into the distance for a few seconds before finally bathing the letter in green fire and sending it on its way
  4016. [o]>"You do realize that you've only given me more questions, right?"[/o]
  4017. "Don't worry, you'll find out more about Celestia's involvement in all this whenever news finally gets here from Canterlot. But anyway, that's about all the help I need, thanks!"
  4018. [o]>"No problem, I guess..."[/o]
  4019. >Spike takes his leave, leaving more confused than when he entered, if that's even possible
  4020. >Don't worry Spike, you'll learn something to help ease the confusion soon enough!
  4021. >Right when the papers get around to putting out the results of yesterday's happenings
  4022. >Back to more important matters at hoof, though!
  4023. >Hand
  4024. >Stupid horse body, subverting your proud human mind
  4025. >Either way though, time to go find Twilight and report on the letter
  4026. >It's a shame Spike already left, you could've asked him where she is
  4027. >But hey, you know where he's going, so you can probably catch up to him if you hurry!
  4028. >You dash back out of your room and see him about halfway down the hall
  4029. "Hey, one last thing: do you know where Twilight is?"
  4030. >He turns to face you before pointing farther down the hall
  4031. [o]>"Probably in her room or office. If she isn't there, she's probably in her lab. If that's the case, then have fun waiting for her to come back out!"[/o]
  4032. >And with that, he resumes his journey back to his basement
  4033. >And you are left to accomplish your task once again
  4034. >Well, it won't solve itself and waiting now won't help you either
  4035. >But the question is, do you even know where her room or her office is?
  4036. >Wait, you remember a specific moment where this would be extremely useful!
  4037. >Yeah, that time you wandered into Twilight's room while trying to find your own!
  4038. >Now, what route did you actually take...?
  4039. >After wandering for longer than you would've liked, you find Twilight's room again and this time note it down for sure
  4040. >Too bad she's not in here though, that cuts things down
  4041. >Well, the next place you know of is the lab
  4042. >You make your way down the stairs, all the way to the massive set of doors between the lab and the rest of the castle
  4043. >Of course, they're closed
  4044. >Dang, now how are you going to figure out if she's in there?
  4045. >Well, that's probably a good place to start
  4046. >You press an ear against the doors, hoping to hear anything that would tell you whether Twilight's there or not
  4047. >...
  4048. >.....
  4049. >.......
  4050. >Nothing but the sound of your own blood circulating, dang
  4051. >Try knocking?
  4052. >The metallic clank of your hoof impacting the solid door rings out across the otherwise silent entryway, but after a minute, the only response you get is yet more silence
  4053. >Fuck
  4054. >Now you have to find the one spot you were hoping she wasn't!
  4055. >There is a way to find out where it is, though
  4056. >The question is, do you really want to bother Spike for the third time in the span of a few minutes?
  4057. >Well, would you rather spend an hour wandering the castle?
  4058. >Fair point
  4059. >You make the short trip back to the basement and find Spike exactly where you found him the first time
  4060. "Hey uh, sorry to bother you yet again, but where's Twilight's office?"
  4061. >Spike's shoulders visibly sag at hearing your voice yet again, but he does a good job of hiding his irritation when he gets up
  4062. [o]>"It's fine, I'll show you."[/o]
  4063. >And with that, you're once again following the dragon to your destination
  4064. >Along the way, another attempt at conversation is made by Spike
  4065. [o]>"So, why do you need to see Twilight so badly?"[/o]
  4066. "She wanted me to send that letter, so I'm telling her that I did."
  4067. >Silence
  4068. [o]>"Should I even bother asking more?"[/o]
  4069. >You're...
  4070. >Not too sure
  4071. "Well, it depends on what you want to ask."
  4072. [o]>"Is Twilight a changeling or something? Is that why all of this is happening? Because I know they aren't above trying that, so I just want to know if it's happening again."[/o]
  4073. "Last I checked, she isn't. Also, before you ask, none of the princesses are either."
  4074. [o]>"Okay, then what [i]is[/i] happening? You said I'd find out from the news eventually, so why can't you tell me now?"[/o]
  4075. >You know, he does make a fair point
  4076. >Besides, you went there with Twilight, so you'd be expected to know what happened without any extra logic being needed, so you can just say it
  4077. "As a matter of fact, I will. It turns out that Celestia and Chrysalis have finally ended hostilities, and Twilight went to Canterlot to oversee it and brought me with because of a field trip."
  4078. >All of a sudden, it seems that a set of gears finally clicked into place in Spike's mind
  4079. [o]>"So that's why the field trip was moved up! I was wondering why they would do that if it was just a regular address, but that makes a lot more sense now."[/o]
  4080. "That help clear things up?"
  4081. [o]>"A bit, but I'm still very confused about almost everything else you told me earlier."[/o]
  4082. "Eh, don't worry; that's perfectly natural."
  4083. >It's around this moment that conversation peters out, but luckily you aren't far off from the office!
  4084. >You have been noting down how to get here, right?
  4085. >Good, we don't want you getting mixed up again on another important task
  4086. [o]>"Need me to stick around again?"[/o]
  4087. >Do you?
  4088. >Well, you're pretty sure you can get back to your room without any issues, so that won't be a problem
  4089. >You're not sure if Twilight will go into any confidential matters here, but it might not be wise to risk it
  4090. "Nah, you can go back to that comic now. Also, if I need anything from you for the rest of the day, feel free to tell me to fuck off."
  4091. [o]>"Geez, I wasn't that annoyed by it."[/o]
  4092. "No, but I don't want to overstay my welcome and it would just seem rude for me to go to you for a fourth time after everything you've already helped me with today."
  4093. [o]>"It's no problem, I'm here to help out Twilight, and I'm sure she'd want me to help you too."[/o]
  4094. "Fair enough, but I'll still try to stay out of your scales."
  4095. [o]>"Cool, and I'll keep my door open in case you can't."[/o]
  4096. >And with that, you and Spike part ways, with you opening the door and him leaving for the basement a third time
  4097. >When the door opens, you see Twilight sitting at a crystalline desk with a stack of blueprints and printer paper in front of her, pen in magic, putting ink to everything that needs it
  4098. "Hey, how are things?"
  4099. >"Not bad, I've almost got the athletic test prototype designed and I've got the mental aptitude tests finished. What's up?"
  4100. "I just wanted to report in and say that I got that letter sent, Chrysalis should get back to me with an answer at some point."
  4101. >"That's good, I assume you had Spike send it?"
  4102. "Yeah, he wasn't too happy about it or the fact that I wouldn't tell him why I was writing it, though."
  4103. >"Oh well, as long as you didn't reveal too much to him."
  4104. "You're not mind-wiping him again."
  4105. >"If he figures out what's going on, he might need it."
  4106. "As project director, I'm ordering you to not mind-wipe him."
  4107. >"Hopefully, I won't need to. However, if he ends up learning the heavily classified details, it could lead him to the truth of your existence here and necessitate one. Besides, what did you tell him that makes you so adamant that I'd mind-wipe him again?"
  4108. "Nothing, I just know that you've done it for him learning less. All I've told him is things he'd learn from the news and not to look into anything else because it's all a mess behind the scenes."
  4109. >Twilight finally looks up to you and raises an eyebrow suspiciously
  4110. >However, you know you're in the right here, so you easily stand up to her challenge
  4111. >"Alright. Well, I guess that's everything you needed to do, so you're free to let me handle everything else until it comes time to actually conduct the tests."
  4112. "Then I'll leave it to you!"
  4113. >And that's it!
  4114. >You're now free to use the rest of your day as you see fit, so back off to your room to do something until dinner!
  4116. >Be Spike
  4117. >You're back in your room with the comic book, but something doesn't sit right with you
  4118. >That news about the address should've set you at least a bit straighter, but for some reason it's only making you think more
  4119. >Anon gets foalnapped, comes back a few days later, and tells you that the events are classified
  4120. >Then, Chrysalis and one of her changelings are houseguests for a day before Twilight brings them and Anon somewhere, once again you're told nothing
  4121. >Now, Anon and Twilight have just gotten back from Canterlot apparently to help make peace between Equestria and the Badlands?
  4122. >The heck?
  4123. >Putting a few of the dots together, you assume that the other trip to somewhere was also Canterlot, when Chrysalis brought that other changeling along
  4124. >But why would they be going there?
  4125. >Anonymous said it wasn't to replace anypony, and the fact that both Chrysalis and the other changeling made the return trip proves that (at least partially)
  4126. >But then where did all this come from?
  4127. >It has to have something to do with Anon getting foalnapped, seeing as that was dubbed classified by her both then and now
  4128. >And given that it's changelings that are causing you all this concern, they probably had something to do with it
  4129. >But what?
  4130. >If Anon was really taken by changelings, then how did they get to Ponyville and why did they take her?
  4131. >Well, knowing changelings, they probably got here under disguises to spy on ponies, but then why did they take Anon?
  4132. >Did she figure out what they were?
  4133. >Maybe, but then why would they bring her back to their hive and how did Twilight know it was them and that they brought her there?
  4134. >Anon was right, this is confusing to think about
  4135. >If only you had some other piece, something that would patch a hole somewhere and just tell you everything you need to know!
  4136. >Think, maybe there's something farther back that you missed?
  4137. >Something from before?
  4138. >Let's see, from when Anonymous first got here:
  4139. >Introduction to the town
  4140. >Starting school here
  4141. >Accompanying Twilight on that trip to Canterlot
  4142. >
  4143. >Huh
  4144. >Looking back on it, that's definitely somewhat out of place
  4145. >A decent place to start looking, maybe?
  4146. >Why would Twilight bring her to Canterlot, when she was clearly fine leaving Anon at home with you when she had to deal with the map problem?
  4147. >Why did Twilight have to go to Canterlot anyway?
  4148. >You're not sure, but it was certainly a last-minute decision, given it happened only a couple of days later
  4149. >So Anonymous follows Twilight on a last-minute trip to Canterlot only a few days after she gets here from Manehattan, gets foalnapped by changelings a weekish later, and then somehow that all leads up to peace between Equestria and the Badlands
  4150. >Either this filly is Marephy's Law incarnate, or something's not quite right with her
  4151. >Well, of course something's not right with her with all that weird stuff she-
  4152. >
  4153. >
  4154. >
  4155. >WAIT
  4156. >You bolt upright at your sudden realisation, pieces all starting to fall together into a coherent picture
  4157. >Those things she brought in her suitcase?
  4158. >Clothing
  4159. >That thing she always brings with her?
  4160. >A phone, she even told you that much!
  4161. >A real one too, since Twilight said that she had no idea what it was at first and she's always on the cutting edge of tech!
  4162. >Yeah, Anonymous said she was a fan of humans, but why would she have both a set of human clothes and a WORKING PHONE?
  4163. >How were you this dumb to not see it?
  4164. >Anonymous is a human, but how did she get here?
  4165. >Waitwaitwait, slow down a bit
  4166. >Humans aren't exactly as you've seen in your comics, Twilight could tell you that easily
  4167. >So then why are you automatically assuming that Anon's a human like you know them?
  4168. >Unless something happened that caused one to come into existence here, like an experiment gone wrong or something, they should still be largely fictional
  4169. >Hang on
  4170. >It feels like something blocked off inside your head is being released
  4171. >Wait, is this a thought or a memory?
  4172. >Either way, you might want to hear it out
  4173. >It's you cleaning up in the lab after that one set of experiments that made that massive sooty mess
  4174. >You're picking up a folder and a bunch of stray papers that you can't quite read
  4175. >On the back of one paper it says something about a connection being established, and that Anonymous should be told about it
  4176. >You put the folder and its contents together and back on a table before going to your room
  4177. >You're there for a while before Twilight shows up, bleary-eyed and asks you about it
  4178. >You answer, then she apologizes to you, ignites her horn, and then you completely drop all knowledge of what happened
  4179. >Did...
  4180. >Did Twilight mind-wipe you?
  4181. >Was you seeing that all it took?
  4182. >Holy Faust, if this is a real memory, then you're completely right!
  4183. >You've figured it out, all thanks to Twilight improperly performing a mind-wipe in her sleep-deprived state!
  4184. >Anonymous is a human taken to Equestria by some experiment of Twilight's, Twilight brings her to see Celestia because Anon's an alien, the changelings find out and kidnap Anon to see for themselves, Twilight finds her and brings her back home!
  4185. >That still doesn't explain how peace was formed, but it explains how things got to that point!
  4186. >But there's still one more hurdle
  4187. >But is it worth another potential mind-wipe?
  4188. >Well, even if you get mind-wiped again, then you're just back at square one
  4189. >Maybe even without any hope of getting the knowledge back
  4190. >But if that happens, then it won't concern you anyway, so why does it matter?
  4191. >You've got to get a firm answer before you go crazy from thinking anymore
  4192. >You've got to confirm your theory
  4193. >You've got to confront Anonymous
  4195. >Be Anonymous
  4196. >Ah, to be free of responsibilities, even if only for an afternoon!
  4197. >Too bad you still don't have a computer or even an internet connection
  4198. >Otherwise, you'd be tearing it up in CSGay or something
  4199. >Why'd you even think of Counterstrike?
  4200. >You don't even play it, the most interaction you've had with it is meme videos!
  4201. >Eh, there's a first for everything
  4202. >Point is, you'd like something to be here to keep you more entertained, but it's still nice to let your brain shut down for a hot minute
  4203. >Well, it would be shut down if not for a sudden disturbance at your door
  4204. "Come in."
  4205. [o]>"Hey, uh... I have a question."[/o]
  4206. >Wait, why's Spike here?
  4207. >You sit up off your bed and turn towards the dragon standing in the doorway before replying
  4208. "I have an answer."
  4209. >Spike turns around and closes the door behind him before moving over to your side, you positioning yourself to better face him
  4210. >You look at him expectantly when he remains silent, but he just beckons for you to lean in closer
  4211. >You're already this far up, let's just oblige him
  4212. [o]>"Okay, before you answer it, I just want to say that this stays between us. You don't tell Twilight, I don't tell Twilight, neither of us tells her and everything's fine. Got it?"[/o]
  4213. >Huh, it feels kind of weird being on the receiving end of a condition like this
  4214. "Sure, ask away."
  4215. [o]>"Say it. I cannot stress this enough."[/o]
  4216. >Wow, it must be serious
  4217. >What, did he somehow put together what you really are?
  4218. >Heh, nah!
  4219. "I promise not to tell Twilight, okay?"
  4220. >The dragon nods to himself before taking a deep breath and steeling himself
  4221. >What, does he want to ask you out or something?
  4222. >Nah fam, you ain't gay
  4223. >Or are you?
  4224. >Well, gay in body, straight in mind
  4225. >Whatever that means for you is still up in the air, but oh well
  4226. [o]>"Are you a human?"[/o]
  4227. >
  4228. >
  4229. >
  4230. >oh shit lmao
  4231. >We might need to take a few steps back and recheck that question
  4232. "Come again?"
  4233. [o]>"Are you a human? And not one of those humans that's on the other side of the magic mirror, I mean a human like from the comics."[/o]
  4234. >Oh fuck
  4235. >Defcon 1, it's happening
  4236. >Well, do you tell the truth?
  4237. >Do you brush it all off?
  4238. >Let's see what brought him to this conclusion and try to debunk it, maybe?
  4239. "What makes you think that?"
  4240. [o]>"Well, it all started with how suddenly you showed up here without any forewarning, even though Twilight's really good at that. Then you went with her on that short-notice trip to Canterlot, and I guess got the attention of the changelings in the process. From there, you came back and got involved with them somehow, got foalnapped, and somehow managed to turn that from a hostage situation into a peace treaty. That's not even considering your socks, pants, and your working phone, either."[/o]
  4241. >Fuck, he's got a solid case against you
  4242. >Can you even poke any holes in it?
  4243. >Not to mention you kinda shot yourself in the hoof by telling him those vague details about the times you were off doing things with Twi and Chrissy, dang
  4244. >... Fuck, it may just be time to bite the bullet
  4245. "You know, for being able to put those pieces together despite Twilight's best efforts to stop you, I think you deserve the truth. I was going to try to prove you wrong, but that's some solid detective work you've done, and I won't lie in saying that I accidentally helped with it, too. I am, in fact, a human deep down. GG!"
  4246. >Spike immediately loses all focus for a moment as his mind puts it all together
  4247. [o]>"So... I'm not crazy? You aren't just messing with me?"[/o]
  4248. "Nope, I'm not. I'm actually a 22-year-old human male underneath this pony disguise; the royal sisters, Twilight, and Chrysalis can attest to that."
  4249. >Spike spends another few dumbfounded moments staring at you before organizing another coherent statement
  4250. [o]>"Dude, what's it like there?!"[/o]
  4251. "Remarkably similar to that comic series of yours, but I've been stuck here for the past month-ish and thus can't check for inconsistencies."
  4252. [o]>"That's weird, next you're going to say that there's a comic where you come from that we're all part of!"[/o]
  4253. "Do you want me to actually say that?"
  4254. >Just as Spike was recovering from his stupor, he's put right back in it
  4255. [o]>"You don't mean..."[/o]
  4256. "I do mean. A full TV show, a few movies, and a comic series all focused around Twilight and her friends solving everyday problems and saving the world."
  4257. >Spike goes silent again for a while before finally coming to a more reasonable state
  4258. [o]>"I'm gonna need to go sit down. Is it okay if I can ask more questions later, or would you rather it ended here?"[/o]
  4259. "It depends, do you want to risk more chances at getting mindwiped?"
  4260. >The dragon puts a claw to his chin as he thinks for a moment
  4261. [o]>"If I do get mindwiped again, will you fill me back in?"[/o]
  4262. "Nah, I'm not sure how happy Twilight would be about this to begin with let alone if it kept happening."
  4263. [o]>"That's fair, I'll just be careful about when and where I ask you things. Sound good?"[/o]
  4264. "It's your choice, m8."
  4265. [o]>"Alright. Then... I'll see you later?"[/o]
  4266. "See ya."
  4267. >With that, Spike returns to his basement and you return to your position on the bed
  4268. >Twilight's gonna fucking end you if-
  4269. >-WHEN she finds out
  4270. >Odds are she will, and it's only a matter of time
  4271. >Well, you'd better stick with Spike just in case she gets to him first and decides to blank him again
  4272. >You grab your phone and head out, your path clear and your goal in mind
  4273. >And soon enough, you make it down to the basement and find him there
  4274. [o]>"What's up?"[/o]
  4275. "Nothing yet, I'm just here to shield you from Twilight when she finds out about what happened."
  4276. >Spike bolts upright and somehow goes pale through his scales
  4277. [o]>"She knows?"[/o]
  4278. "Not yet, but I guarantee it won't be long before she figures out something's up and I'll at least try to help you keep your memories when that happens."
  4279. [o]>"So she really did mind-wipe me that one time?"[/o]
  4280. "Unfortunately, yes. I was of the mindset that there were better ways of going about fixing that problem, but the damage had already been done by the time I found out."
  4281. [o]>"Well, it's nice to know that you're on my side here."[/o]
  4282. "Yeah, I'm a big fan of letting people keep their memories."
  4283. >Taking the opportunity presented by this lull in the conversation, you sit over in one of the empty chairs nearby and start to mess around on your phone again
  4284. [o]>"You know, I just remembered something."[/o]
  4285. >Hm?
  4286. >You glance over somewhat expectantly at the dragon, waiting for him to continue
  4287. [o]>"The night after you first showed up here, Twilight had me help her look at that phone of yours so that we could get it working again. I'm not sure why she didn't feel the need to wipe that from my memories, but I'm not questioning it."[/o]
  4288. "That is a bit odd, huh."
  4289. [o]>"So, what are you up to on there?"[/o]
  4290. "Scrolling through saved memes, nothing too interesting."
  4291. [o]>"What's a meme?"[/o]
  4292. >What [i]is[/i] a meme?
  4293. "Well, a meme is technically defined as any sort of thought or idea that transfers through the minds of individuals and evolves over time. Where I come from though, a meme is more often thought of as an idea that is transferred and changed as such with some form of comedic value behind it."
  4294. [o]>"That... doesn't explain much."[/o]
  4295. "Think of it as an inside joke between you and literally everyone else on the planet. I know that metaphor sucks, but it's at least a bit right."
  4296. [o]>"I think it might be better to show me an example over trying to explain it."[/o]
  4297. "Okay, let me just find a few that you might get."
  4298. >Hm, what should Babby's First Meme be?
  4299. >Well, he knows a decent bit about the geopolitical climate of Earth, maybe a few memeballs to get him going?
  4300. >Yeah, that seems like a decent idea
  4301. >You grab a few of the ones he's most likely to get and slap them into a separate image folder before handing the phone over to him
  4302. "Here, this should start you out."
  4303. >He grabs the phone and begins to read the first meme
  4304. >After a moment of reading though, he asks you a question
  4305. [o]>"How do I go to the next one?"[/o]
  4306. "Swipe left."
  4307. [o]>"Ah, okay."[/o]
  4308. >Spike then spends another minute scrolling through the memes you picked before handing the phone back to you
  4309. [o]>"Not bad. Not my taste, but not bad. Got any more?"[/o]
  4310. "Yeah, but I'm not sure you'd enjoy them as much given how they extend more into human culture and get more into that 'inside joke' territory."
  4311. [o]>"Oh. Never mind, then."[/o]
  4312. "Really? You don't even want to see them?"
  4313. [o]>"Nah, I probably wouldn't get them and it would just come off as weird to me."[/o]
  4314. >Fair
  4315. >You shrug in response and take your phone back, going back to where you left off in your memes
  4317. >Be Twilight
  4318. >It seems one of your psychic alerts has just gone off for something, and you've been spending the last few minutes trying to figure out what
  4319. >So far, you've narrowed down the possibilities of what it could be from the apparent amount of time it's been active
  4320. >It's been up for certainly a while, around a week or so
  4321. >Maybe if you narrowed it down to a certain day, that would help?
  4322. >You really wish you could implement more detail into these things other than 'something happened,' but that would require completely reworking the spell
  4323. >Oh well, that's an idea for later
  4324. >For now, however, figure out when the alert was set!
  4325. >Let's see, it was...
  4326. >Tuesday
  4327. >Now let's see, what happened on Tuesday that you would've set an alert for?
  4328. >You look back to that day, but find that you can't remember much due to your sleep-deprived state that day
  4329. >Wait
  4330. >Your sleep-deprived state may have just keyed you in
  4331. >It's an alarm set to notify you of a spell wearing off, that you set to alert you later if it does wear off
  4332. >And you just happen to remember a certain spell that you casted that day that works worse the less mental stability you have
  4333. >Spike just got some memories back, and it's something you tried to cover up
  4334. >He can either take it one of two ways, though
  4335. >Either treat it like an intrusive thought, or treat it like a forgotten memory
  4336. >Knowing him, he'd probably go with the latter
  4337. >And judging as how he'd probably also remember that you were the one who did it to him, he wouldn't go to you about it
  4338. >Looks like you'll have to go to him instead!
  4340. >Be Anonymous again
  4341. >Your meme browsing is interrupted by a violet flashbang going off in the room, with a purple pony appearing out of the middle of it
  4342. >Spike is also shaken out of his comic, turning to face the newcomer to the room with a fair amount of surprise
  4343. >"Hey Spike, do you mind if we talk for a minute?"
  4344. [o]>"... About what?"[/o]
  4345. >"Just something that I'd like to check in with you about, it'll be over quickly. Now, just-"
  4346. "Twilight, no. You're not doing this again."
  4347. >The mare turns to face you, now seeing that you're in the room too
  4348. >"What would I be doing? I just want to talk to him, that's it."
  4349. "I don't know how you figured it out this quickly, but you're not mind-wiping him again."
  4350. >Twilight goes silent for a few seconds as she stares at you, eventually coming up with a reply
  4351. >"You wouldn't be saying that if he didn't know something to warrant it. What's going on?"
  4352. >You turn to Spike and cast him a glance as he returns one to you
  4353. "Well, she clearly knows already, so should we just tell her anyway?"
  4354. [o]>"Now she does..."[/o]
  4355. >The dragon sighs before continuing
  4356. [o]>"I guess there's no harm in it now, go ahead."[/o]
  4357. >You turn back to Twilight and raise yourself up as much as you can while putting on a stern expression before going into your statement
  4358. "Spike already knows that I'm a human. He put the pieces together himself from the events that have happened since I got here, all I did was answer his question when he finally brought it to me. If you're going to wipe his memory to make sure he doesn't figure it out again, you're going to have to wipe the events of the last month from his mind if you want it to stick and I know for a fact that you wouldn't go that far."
  4359. >"Anon, do you know how much of a matter of your security this is? If Spike could figure it out, that means that anything could if they had the time to figure it out! ANYTHING, including any of the evil entities that exist within this world!"
  4360. "And? That doesn't justify wiping Spike's mind, and one of those 'evil' entities already found out and things are still completely fine."
  4361. >"I'm not worried about wiping Spike's mind anymore, I'm concerned about the potential paper trail! Imagine how the Court of Nobility would handle it if they knew that an alien was living right under their noses, they'd probably have you taken to some cold laboratory in the middle of nowhere and experiment on you or something!"
  4362. "Twilight, that's not going to happen. Want to know how I know?"
  4363. >"How?"
  4364. "Because I've got three of the four princesses on my side, with the fourth likely to take it should she be informed on the situation. The same goes for any evil entities left, you've already given me the connections I need to get out of everything that could happen alright!"
  4365. >Twilight's shoulders slump and she sighs as she drops to the floor
  4366. >"I know, but what if something happens where even all that doesn't work? Where not even the combined might of all four princesses and the elements of harmony aren't enough to save you from that something?"
  4367. "Then you'll probably have bigger things to worry about. I know you made that promise to get me home, but your duties as a princess should come first. If you have to choose between me or the country or, God forbid, me or the entire world, you'd better choose the option that isn't me!"
  4368. >Twilight stands back up and nods before continuing
  4369. >"You're right, I shouldn't worry so much. You'd be surprised how easy it is to forget that you're not a foal while you're in this body, but that shouldn't be an excuse. Just promise me that you'll still keep it all on the down-low, though?"
  4370. "I will, don't worry. Just as long as nobody else puts the dots together, at least, and even then I'll make them promise to not tell anyone else."
  4371. >"I guess I can't stop you from doing that much; just try to stay out of trouble if you really have to tell them."
  4372. "I will. So, you alright now?"
  4373. >Twilight takes a deep breath and nods before turning to Spike
  4374. >"The same goes for you too, don't expose anything unless you have to. Got it?"
  4375. [o]>"So you're not going to wipe my mind again?"[/o]
  4376. >"No, I realize now that that would only lead to more problems. And besides, you're not going to get any better at holding secrets if you don't have any to hold, are you?"
  4377. [o]>"Good point."[/o]
  4378. >"Then I'm going to leave now, unless either of you has anything else you'd like to say."
  4379. [o]>"Does this mean Anon can tell me about what's going on with he- him and the changelings?"[/o]
  4380. >Twilight looks expectantly towards you, prompting you to answer
  4381. "I don't see why he shouldn't know at this point, sure."
  4382. >"Alright, anything else?"
  4383. >You and Spike exchange another glance before giving a negative, so Twilight takes her leave
  4384. [o]>"So, what [i]is[/i] happening with you and the changelings?"[/o]
  4385. >You take another pretty long while to fill him in on everything that's happened since you were first taken to the hive all the way up to now, and you even include the fact that Emerald's a changeling
  4386. >When he hears that, you see him rapidly shift from surprise to a wince, likely from him remembering his performance around her while Chrysalis came to stay
  4387. [o]>"Dang, remind me to apologize for that when we see her again."[/o]
  4388. "Sure, no problem. Anyway, that's about it. Anything else you want to know?"
  4389. [o]>"Yeah, what's that 'Plan B' you mentioned for helping Chrysalis repopulate her hive?"[/o]
  4390. "I'd rather keep that to myself, given the sensitive nature of that plan."
  4391. [o]>"Ok, I won't press it."[/o]
  4392. "Anything else besides that?"
  4393. >Spike thinks to himself for a few more moments, before finally shaking his head
  4394. "Cool, you mind if I head back to my room now that everything's been defused?"
  4395. [o]>"Not at all."[/o]
  4396. "Okay then, I'll see you at dinner."
  4397. >Spike waves to you as you exit the basement, heading back up to your room to kill time again
  4398. >However, after an uneventful dinner and a few more hours of wasted time, you run out of time to waste
  4399. >Sleeping time!
  4400. >. . .
  4401. >When you come to, you are inside a colosseum with a table sat in the direct center of it
  4402. >Oh, yeah, the winner-takes-whatever-is-offered finale of you and Luna duking it out in small 40K matches
  4403. >Well, it seems she isn't here yet, so let's see if we can make things a bit more theatrical, shall we?
  4404. >To do that, you're going to need to limit the spawning zone of the dream to a certain area, that being the entryway opposite the one you come from
  4405. >Now, how do you do that?
  4406. >Well, a good start might be to imagine the place where you spawned in as a box in the dream
  4407. >After taking this bounding box, you highlight it with your dream magic and move it to the area where you want Luna to appear in
  4408. >After that, you set a pressure plate set to activate other dream happenings when it's triggered by her appearance directly under the box
  4409. >Well, now all that's left is for you to get into your own position!
  4410. >So you do
  4411. >Now, all that's left to do is to wait!
  4412. >And you do
  4413. >All the way until a voice calls out from behind you
  4414. >"Is there any particular reason why you're just standing here?"
  4415. >Fuck
  4416. >Your shoulders immediately slump and you turn around disappointed in your abilities
  4417. "Well, I was trying to set up something that would set off as soon as you showed up, but I didn't set it up right since you didn't even show up where the mechanism's trigger was placed. Well, I'm not letting all this go to waste, so just wait here until you get the signal!"
  4418. >"What signal? And what did you mean by a mechanism?"
  4419. "Just wait, it'll all become clear soon."
  4420. >And with that, you step backwards and teleport yourself over onto the pressure plate, setting it all in motion (slightly) as planned!
  4421. >When the pressure plate is triggered, you begin hearing the gate in front of you open and a generic announcer's voice peal out across the colosseum!
  4423. >With that, you calmly stride out of the now-open gate and into the empty colosseum and begin waving to the nonexistant spectators that don't populate the stands as you walk towards the empty table
  4424. >Once you reach the table, you look to the other side of the arena to see Luna looking around to see what exactly you were waving at
  4425. >After a sigh, she also walks over to the table and looks up at you with lidded eyes and a smirk
  4426. >"When I said to build suspense, I didn't mean to go to all these lengths just for us two."
  4427. "I had time, I decided to use it. Besides, I thought it was cool!"
  4428. >"Well, it certainly set the mood for the night. So, how are we settling this?"
  4429. >Well, there are still two options for what can be done
  4430. >Either you both go after objectives and try to hold them (the more balanced of the two), or one of you holding while the other tries to capture (the one that would probably work better with small armies)
  4431. >You summon in a coin and flip it, heads is option one and tails is option two
  4432. >Right as you catch the coin in your fist, Luna stops you
  4433. >"As soon as you observe that coin, it will come up as whatever option your subconscious mind will choose. Would you rather I looked at it and told you the true result?"
  4434. >Huh, noted for later
  4435. "Yeah, that would probably be a better idea. Go ahead!"
  4436. >Upon saying that, you turn your head away and open your fist, allowing Luna to find the true result
  4437. >"It's tails, what does that mean?"
  4438. "It means that one of us will be holding the objective while the other tries to capture it! Same capture rules as King of the Hill, but different starting points and win conditions. Those should be fairly easy to remember though, one of us starts on the edge of the map while the other on the objective, the holder loses if the attacker captures, and the attacker loses if the holder lasts all 5 turns without a capture happening."
  4439. >"Sounds good, let's play!"
  4440. >The table is once again set and the minis are summoned, time to see how this goes!
  4442. >Be Sergeant Decius of the Imperial Fists
  4443. >You're stationed here with your squad, guarding this imperial outpost
  4444. >It's a good thing the fists can't lose when it comes to fortifying a defense point, right?
  4445. >You and your brothers stand guard over this outpost defending the Imperial supply line supplying this world's war effort
  4446. >Suddenly, your radar starts pinging a fat pile of alien contacts
  4447. >You and your brothers peek your heads out of your various enforcements to see what's going on outside
  4448. >Fucking traitors
  4449. >To battlestations!
  4451. >Be Sorcerer Azoth of the Thousand Sons
  4452. >You and your Rubricae have been sent in to deal with this section of loyalist forces, nothing too hard hopefully
  4453. >As you get closer to the site of your attack, you realize something
  4454. >Those are Imperial Fist fortifications
  4455. >Fucking Abaddon, sending us to the shit areas!
  4456. >Oh well, it looks like only a small number
  4457. >Something you and your Rubricae should be able to deal with somewhat easily... You hope
  4459. >Be Sergeant Decius
  4460. >Fucking sorcerors are trying to siege your position!
  4461. >Your men are fighting tooth and nail to hold their positions, and are doing quite well
  4462. >No casualties thus far, the only thing you have to worry about right now is how much ammunition you all have on hand
  4463. >There is no objective the Fists can't hold!
  4465. >Be Sorceror Azoth
  4466. >These Fists are heavily entrenched... It'll take a small miracle to get them out
  4467. >Luckily, miracles happen to be the specialty of your patron god!
  4468. >You offer up some prayers to Tzeentch as you cast your next spell, hoping for some shining light to grace you and your rubricae in the next few crucial moments of battle
  4469. >As the spell is cast, you feel the light upon you!
  4470. >Well, in you
  4471. >Your body explodes as your soul is brought to your patron deity, leaving in your place a daemon!
  4472. >Not just any daemon either, somehow a fucking Lord of Change has entered the battlefield!
  4473. >It seems the miracle has arrived, and not a moment too soon...
  4475. >Be Sergeant Decius
  4477. >You and your men scramble to more defensive positions, but you're not sure what else can be done
  4478. >It's only another two minutes before reinforcements arrive, but can you all last that long?
  4479. >Yeah, the fists can hold any objective, but not when the fight isn't a fair one!
  4480. >Either way, hold this position is what you must do, so you will
  4482. >Be Rubricae #213 stationed under Sorceror Azoth (now deceased)
  4483. >Things seem to be going well, at least from your limited knowledge
  4484. >Your state as a soul bound inside a suit of power armor leaves little room for thought, but you're still left in control now
  4485. >Uh... Carry on as planned?
  4486. >Sure, that's a good idea
  4487. >You lead by example, letting the Lord of Change do as it pleases since you can't really stop it
  4488. >Hopefully somebody qualified takes control from you after this...
  4490. >Be Sergeant Decius
  4491. >It's no use, that Lord of Change has somehow managed to overrun all of your positions singlehandedly
  4492. >You give the order to retreat, you all will have to regroup with the reinforcements to break this hold
  4493. >Hopefully with your combined might this clog in the line will be cleared, but if not...
  4494. >If not, the world is lost
  4496. >Be Thianas, Lord of Change
  4497. >Some idiot sorceror blew up his own mind to bring you here, you might as well humor his desires while you're here
  4498. >You finish scattering those servants of the corpse before breaking open a few rubricae for shits and giggles and disappear back into the warp once everything is clear
  4500. >Be Anonymous
  4501. >You just firmly lost, sheerly for the stupid luck of Luna rolling to summon a greater daemon from a warp peril
  4502. >Fuck...
  4503. "Well, you won. I guess the dice just weren't in my favor today. GG anyway, though."
  4504. >"It was a well-fought battle, you would've won if I hadn't gotten that lucky. So, is there anything else you'd like to do?"
  4505. "Funny you should ask that, I was using that battle as a litmus for if you're ready to learn more. So, would you like to start learning about how vehicles interact with everything?"
  4506. >"Sure, that sounds like it'll add quite a bit to the gameplay!"
  4507. >She has no idea how broken some vehicles can be
  4508. >And you're gonna teach her through demonstration!
  4509. >Not now, though
  4510. >Now is merely the time to let her get experienced with the vehicles themselves
  4511. >So that's what you do for the remainder of the dream!
  4512. >. . .
  4513. >Wake up
  4514. >Take a shit
  4515. >Get out of bed
  4516. >Not in that order
  4517. >Get ready
  4518. >Go to school
  4519. >Go home
  4520. >Spike letter?
  4521. >No
  4522. >Twilight letter?
  4523. >No
  4524. >Progress on things?
  4525. >Minimal
  4526. >Homework?
  4527. >Yes...
  4528. >Fuck around
  4529. >Eat dinner
  4530. >Fuck around some more
  4531. >Go to bed
  4532. >Such is life when waiting
  4533. >. . .
  4534. >...
  4535. >.....
  4536. >.......
  4537. >Huh, no dream tonight
  4538. >Well, shit
  4539. Hey Luna, are you still here?
  4540. >...
  4541. >.....
  4542. >.......
  4543. >Guess that's a fat no
  4544. >Well, shit
  4545. >Time to turn off the consciousness again!
  4546. >. . .
  4547. >Wake up
  4548. >Get ready
  4549. >Go to school
  4550. >Come home
  4551. >Go to room
  4552. >Spike comes into your room
  4553. [o]>"Mail's here."[/o]
  4554. >Grab letter
  4555. >Place letter on table
  4556. >Resume fuc-
  4557. >LETTER TIME
  4558. >Hurriedly, you tear open the stationery as best you can to expose the juicy inky depths of the paper you have been blessed to now hold!
  4559. >As expected, it's from Chrysalis
  4560. >Well, let's get to reading!
  4561. [p]>"Dear Anonymous,[/p]
  4562. [p]>I have heard your concerns and have thought about the situation as you asked me to. As such, I still am confident in our "Plan B" as you seem to call it, and as for a Plan C, should things come to that then I will be fully capable of handling that myself (assuming my mana supply is decently recharged from "Plan B".) Also, tell Twilight that she should be more worried about the success of Plan A than Plan B or subsequent plans as she is the expert on pony sociology rather than changeling biology.[/p]
  4563. [p]>Dearest Regards, Chrysalis"[/p]
  4564. >Hm
  4565. >Duly noted, you should probably bring this knowledge to Twilight
  4566. >You take the letter all the way to Twilight's office, satisfied with your plans once again now that Chrysalis has confirmed your intellectual superiority
  4567. >Knock knock!
  4568. >"Come in."
  4569. >You open the door confidently, striding forward with as much presence as your short stature will allow you and brandishing the letter gripped between your teeth
  4570. "Check out what came in the mail today!"
  4571. >"So I saw, what's the news?"
  4572. >You finish your walk and drop the only lightly damp letter in front of Twilight, who readily catches it to make sure none of your spit contaminates the other papers there
  4573. "Read it and see."
  4574. >You wait patiently to see her reaction as she reads through it, her expression remaining motionless as her eyes cross the page
  4575. >After a few moments, Twilight sets down the (significantly drier) page and turns to you
  4576. >"Well, I guess we don't need to worry about a plan C according to Chrysalis. As such, the job of deciding a plan C, now plan A.5, falls again to you."
  4577. "Plan A.5 is to let Chrysalis handle it."
  4578. >"Are you sure that's the best idea?"
  4579. "I trust her judgement more than I trust my own, that's for sure."
  4580. >"And where does my judgement place in there?"
  4581. >Where does it place?
  4582. >On the one hoof- hand, Twilight is very frequently right
  4583. >On the other, when she's wrong, she's [i]wrong[/i]
  4584. "I guess if I had to place it, it would be simultaneously higher than Chrysalis and lower than my own."
  4585. >Twilight raises an eyebrow at this odd answer, waiting for you to explain further
  4586. >Noticing this, you elaborate on your line of thinking and receive an understanding nod in return
  4587. >"Yeah, that seems fair. So, where does this place you on heeding my advice here?"
  4588. "Tentative."
  4589. >Twilight sighs briefly and shuffles some papers before responding
  4590. "Well, it's your decision to make. So, would you like to hear the progress made on Plan A today?"
  4591. "Sure, what's going on?"
  4592. >"Well, the tests have been made and field-tested and the trial course has also been assembled and baselines set. We're all set for the weekend and whatever applicants show!"
  4593. "Fantastic news! So, do we have any idea of the number of applicants?"
  4594. >Twilight pulls open a drawer and levitates out a small pile of envelopes, all of them opened yet still containing their original contents
  4595. >"See for yourself."
  4596. >Twilight places the letters in front of you on the desk and returns to her own work
  4597. >You take the pile and start moving the letters around, counting them as you go
  4598. >... 29, 30, 31, 32, 33
  4599. >33 applicants so far, that's not bad at all!
  4600. "Alright, I like how many we've gotten here!"
  4601. >"I'm glad you're optimistic, at least."
  4602. "Are you not?"
  4603. >Twilight sighs again beofre turning to look you in the eyes
  4604. >"Honestly, I'm not. With a sample size this small, we're not likely to find even a single stallion who fits all the criteria, much less one that's also willing to then go ahead with the plan."
  4605. >Oh
  4606. >Oh...
  4607. >That is not something you took into consideration
  4608. "Then what numbers would you have been hoping for to get the best results?"
  4609. >"At least a thousand, optimally two to three thousand. A larger sample size would make things take longer, but have a higher chance of success in the end. Also, to put it all in scope, the population of this province alone is around 100 thousand and we received a grand total of 33 applicants. The male population of Equestria as a whole is around 5 million as well, and that's the pool we're pulling from. We have 33 applicants."
  4610. "Okay, you didn't need to rub it in that hard."
  4611. >"At least in terms of time, it isn't that bad. At this rate, the town won't have to deal with a massive influx of ponies and the testing shouldn't take more than a few hours at most. It's a far smaller sample size than would be optimal, but it at least doesn't strangle ponyville under its weight."
  4612. "That's also fair. So, what now?"
  4613. >Twilight considers the options for a moment before getting back to you
  4614. >"I go back to sorting through all this paper that I let stack up while dealing with everything to do with our plans. I'm not sure what you'll do, so just don't get into trouble."
  4615. >With that, her full attention returns to her desk and you go off to somewhere else
  4616. >That somewhere being the storage closet for some paper
  4617. >Time to send Chrysalis a reply!
  4618. >You bring the paper back to your desk and grab a pencil to start writing
  4619. "Dear Chrysalis,
  4620. I've brought up your thoughts and concerns with Twilight and after a heart-to-heart with her, she has agreed to capitulate to your idea. As for your advice on her priorities, she merely wished to express the concern that both plans have a chance of failure no matter what, but she will also accept your judgement on it. As for the plan itself, Plan A is going along quite well. The preparations are all made and a sample size of 33 stallions has been confirmed for testing. How many of them will make it to you is anyone's guess, but we have the applicants.
  4621. Best wishes, Anonymous."
  4622. >Fold that up, slap it in an envelope, and hand it off to Spike!
  4623. [o]>"So where's this one going?"[/o]
  4624. "Chrysalis again, it's a progress report on how well things are going so far."
  4625. >Spike grabs the letter and puffs it off in green fire, then turns to you and asks a question
  4626. [o]>"So, mind if I ask what the progress being reported is?"[/o]
  4627. "Not at all. Plan A's exited the setup phase and is awaiting execution, Plan B's still on the table, and there may or may not be a potential Plan C should both plans A and B fail."
  4628. [o]>"Do you still not want me asking about plan B?"[/o]
  4629. "You know what Plan A is supposed to do, right?"
  4630. [o]>"Yeah, find a stallion that Chrysalis can use to repopulate her hive."[/o]
  4631. "And now you know what I really am, right?"
  4632. [o]>"Yeah, a human."[/o]
  4633. "A male human, don't forget. How have you not managed to put that together by now?"
  4634. [o]>"But you don't have any magic, how are you supposed to help there?"[/o]
  4635. "... Do you not know how foals are made?"
  4636. >Spike starts acting defensive at this accusation, recoiling merely at the idea that he doesn't know
  4637. [o]>"What, do you think I'm really that dumb?"[/o]
  4638. "No, but now I have a suspicion. Would you mind filling me in about how it works so we can get on the same page?"
  4639. >This seems to diffuse a lttle bit of the tension, but not much
  4640. [o]>"Well, Twilight told me something about love magic being instrumental to some sort of bonding ritual between two ponies that ends up creating a foal, but she didn't tell me much more and got all red-faced when I asked."[/o]
  4641. >This poor, poor boy...
  4642. "Spike, I hate to tell you this, but you got told the wrong thing. Well, either you got told the wrong thing or Twilight told you the right thing in a very roundabout way."
  4643. >The dragon recoils again, this time in surprise
  4644. [o]>"Really?"[/o]
  4645. "Yeah. Also, mind if I ask how long ago you asked Twilight about this?"
  4646. >Spike thinks to himself for a minute, eyes flitting about as he sorts through memories
  4647. >After a few more moments though, he comes to an answer
  4648. [o]>"A few years ago, something like that. I know we were both in Canterlot still and she was close to graduation or past it, I can't remember which."[/o]
  4649. "And how old are you now?"
  4650. [o]>"20."[/o]
  4651. >Huh
  4652. >Well, if you remember your DnD dragon rules, a 20-year-old dragon is still technically a very small child
  4653. >However, you don't think it really took into account the comparable mental age to other living beings
  4654. >...
  4655. >... Eh, Spike seems old enough to learn the truth
  4656. "I can tell you how it works for real if you want me to, or you can go ask Twilight. The choice is yours."
  4657. [o]>"I'll take what you say and line it up with what Twilight says, how about that?"[/o]
  4658. "It doesn't really matter to me since I can't stop you from doing that. Anyway, sex. Sex makes foals."
  4659. >The dragon's face goes blank for a few moments, absorbing what you just said, from the looks of it
  4660. [o]>"What's sex?"[/o]
  4661. >Oh, nevermind, that was the thousand-yard stare of utter confusion
  4662. "Ask Twilight, I guarantee she won't give you a straight answer but the look on her face will be priceless."
  4663. [o]>"Then what's the straight answer?"[/o]
  4664. "You take your dick, get it hard, stick it in the cunt of a girl you like, and instinct should take over from there."
  4665. >With that, you leave Spike standing there and looking down at himself to go back up to your room and screw around
  4666. >Well, you would, but that same dragon calls to you as you're walking away
  4667. [o]>"Can I ask some more questions?"[/o]
  4668. "You may ask one more question, make it a good one; I've got homework that I should do before I forget."
  4669. [o]>"What did you mean by 'a girl I like?'"[/o]
  4670. "You know, like how you like Rarity."
  4671. >Another flash of realization crosses his face before being quickly replaced by embarrassment
  4672. [o]>"What makes you think I like her?"[/o]
  4673. "I said I'd answer one question. See ya!"
  4674. >And with that, you leave for real
  4675. >Time to go sit in your room and do none of that homework you said you'd do since you already did it out of boredom and instead do nothing at all!
  4676. >Well, time to sleep until dinner
  4677. >. . .
  4678. >An undefined amount of time later, you're nudged conscious by a voice you recognize
  4679. >Well, better not leave Twilight without some sort of answer
  4680. "Eh, don't worry about it, it's probably fine."
  4681. >"I'm not here to get that kind of answer, what in tartarus did you tell Spike!?"
  4682. >THAT gets your attention
  4683. >You open your eyes and turn to face the upset alicorn staring down at you, face fully flushed magenta instead of the usual lavender
  4684. >You masterfully contain your laughter at this turn of events and instead answer back equally as masterfully
  4685. "Do you want me to go over our entire conversation from start to finish, or is there a specific part you want to hear about?"
  4686. >"I want to know whatever it is you told him that made him burst into my office and immediately yell, and I quote, 'sex makes foals!' before running back out and off to not even Celestia knows where!"
  4687. >This time, you struggle to hold back your laughter at the image now in your head, but you keep it together just well enough to make a coherent reply
  4688. "I'd say it's pretty self-explanatory."
  4689. >"How does that come up in a conversation!"
  4690. "It came up since apparently you didn't tell him the right thing."
  4692. >As Twilight's complexion goes from magenta further and further towards straight red, you're forced to let out a snort before you explode
  4693. "He wanted to know how I would fit into the planned Plan B, what was I supposed to do?"
  4695. "Look man, I don't know what to tell you. If you weren't going to tell him, I had to. He's twenty, you know!"
  4696. >"I would know that better than you, I hatched him myself!"
  4697. "So then why does he get to know and experience everything there is to about life's dullest times without at least knowing about its most exciting times?"
  4698. >"He's still a baby by dragon standards!"
  4699. "A baby with a mind comparable to my own, and I don't care if that makes me sound dumb, I fully acknowledge that I am."
  4700. >Twilight sighs and glares at you through lidded eyes
  4701. >"I don't think either of you are dumb, I just wish that I didn't have to deal with all of this on top of all of my pushed-back paperwork."
  4702. >Understandable
  4703. "That's fair. Is there any way I can help with that?"
  4704. >"Yeah. Go find Spike before he goes out and tells the entire world of his new discovery."
  4705. >And with that, Twilight teleports back down to her office and you're left alone in your room again, save for a new task
  4706. >Find the purple retard
  4707. >Well, you can think of one place to start
  4708. >You trot down to the basement, being sure to knock outside the door before going inside
  4709. >And it's empty
  4710. >No dragons
  4711. >Where else could he be?
  4712. >You wander up out of the basement, poking your head into every room you come across on your way to the next destination
  4713. >The living room
  4714. >He's not here either, dang...
  4715. >The kitchen?
  4716. >Nope, not even a trace
  4717. >What about the library?
  4718. >You duck into the large, book-filled room and scan around until you find something
  4719. >Well, someone
  4720. >Your target is sitting at the library desk, currently working his way through the first of a few different tomes stacked next to him
  4721. >Whatever those books are, he seems to be pretty absorbed into it all
  4722. >Well, you found what you were told to find, so that's all you have to do
  4723. >...
  4724. >You should still check to make sure he's doing alright
  4725. >You walk up behind Spike and tap him on the shoulder, bringing him out of his trance and to a position facing you
  4726. [o]>"Hey Anon, what's up?"[/o]
  4727. "Not much, just got sent by Twilight to make sure you aren't going crazy from your newfound realizations. What's up with you and all these books?"
  4728. [o]>"Just seeing what else I didn't know, now that I know I had it wrong. What, did Twilight think I would go running through town yelling about this?"[/o]
  4729. >Well
  4730. "From what she told me, your actions did give her that impression."
  4731. [o]>"Then tell her I'm fine, I just got a bit excited."[/o]
  4732. "Sure thing, buddy."
  4733. >Spike goes back to his reading and you go back to Twilight's office, ready to tell her the news
  4734. >Upon opening the door, you just pop your head in and say what you need
  4735. "Spike didn't go crazy, he just went to the library to learn more. Everything's fine, don't worry."
  4736. >Twilight looks up to you and breathes a sigh of relief at your news
  4737. >"Thanks, I'm glad he didn't do something stupid."
  4738. "Agreed, and between you and me, you should probably apologize to him and answer whatever other questions he has at some point. It'll be awkward as hell, but the bandaid's gotta come off eventually."
  4739. >"Noted. For now I still have a pile of forms to get through, so that'll have to wait."
  4740. "I'll leave you to it, then."
  4741. >Twilight nods and returns to her work while you return up to your room, satisfied with... something
  4742. >A job well done?
  4743. >Nah
  4744. >Misinformation corrected?
  4745. >Probably not that either
  4746. >Getting away with being a shithead?
  4747. >... Regrettably maybe
  4748. >Well, you've been a good boy (girl?) for this long, you deserve to start a bit of fuckery
  4749. >With this thought, you pass out again until dinner, eat, then screw around until it's time to go to bed for real
  4750. >. . .
  4751. >Friday, the last day before the weekend and the testing therein!
  4752. >Any last-minute applicants should be coming in today, otherwise there's nothing more to worry about
  4753. >Oh yeah, you also have to go to the hospital today to get another check done on your nose
  4754. >Almost forgot it was broken again...
  4755. >Oh well, at least today's hopefully going to be more eventful than the majority of this week
  4756. >Not in a bad way though, that's not what you're hoping for at all
  4757. >Nah, you just want something in school other than the usual garbage that you either already know or barely care enough to learn
  4758. >Speaking of, time to get up and get ready for that
  4759. >You get out of bed, go about your morning routine, and head out the door into the frigid late-winter morning
  4760. >Well, you expect it to be frigid, but it's actually somewhat pleasant
  4761. >Oh right, it's probably because the snow schedule's transitioning gradually back into rain
  4762. >Whatever it is, it makes for a more pleasant walk to school than the last while
  4763. >Once you reach the school though, you see something that makes things all the more pleasant!
  4764. >Rather, something that is actually someone
  4765. >Almost as soon as you notice her, that gray "filly" with a familiar green mane and blue eyes comes bounding over to you
  4766. >That's right, after a week or so that felt like fucking forever, the local changeling spies are back in town!
  4767. >You trot over to meet Emerald halfway, upon which she catches you in a hug
  4768. [p]>"Anon, it's been so long! Did you do anything cool while I was gone?"[/p]
  4769. "You have no idea. First I get to go see the whole thing at Canterlot in person, then I get an assignment from Princess Celestia herself, and then after that... Well, to be honest, things got pretty boring after that. But hey, some pretty interesting stuff before that! What about you?"
  4770. >She pulls back from you and looks around to check the surroundings
  4771. >You help out, assuming something's going to happen that nobody else should see
  4772. >Emerald then decides that the coast is clear enough and briefly allows for part of her disguise to drop, particularly near her chest, exposing a small crystal pendant with a green sliver embedded into it
  4773. "What's that?"
  4774. >Before responding, she pulls herself back in close and beckons like she's going to whisper to you
  4775. [p]>"It's my ID as an official spy!"[/p]
  4776. >So it's official now?
  4777. "Well, I can say you're doing a great job so far. Your first day of your first mission and you've already exposed yourself to the enemy, I'm pretty sure that's a record."
  4778. >Emerald's face scrunches up and she blushes a bit before responding with an indignant huff
  4779. [p]>"I only told you because you already know, dummy!"[/p]
  4780. "But what if I was somepony else disguised as me though? Then you would've been caught red-hooved!"
  4781. >To punctuate your stupid comment, you pull the smuggest look you've pulled in a decent while
  4782. >Emerald lightly pushes you in response, but the bell for class rings before you can get another word in
  4783. >From there, class goes as normal and school passes by without major happening
  4784. >Once you're all dismissed, You and your friend, now reunited, decide to walk home together
  4785. "So, I get the sense that there's more you want to know about what I got up to and I know for sure that there's more I want to know about what you got up to. Wanna head back to the castle with me, or should we go back to your sister's house?"
  4786. [p]>"Would Twilight be okay with me being at the castle if she... knew?"[/p]
  4787. >Would she?
  4788. >You honestly have no idea, but it's not like there's anything that major going on at the castle that Chrysalis doesn't already know about and that Twilight doesn't know she knows about either, so...
  4789. "I don't think she'll mind."
  4791. Some time later...
  4793. >"If she's a spy now, why did you decide to KNOWINGLY bring her here, to one of the most important places in Equestria and a resident of one of the standing princesses?"
  4794. >Twilight didn't handle it the best, but you've got logic at your side!
  4795. "She's a spy for Chrysalis, someone who we're not hostile towards anymore and who we're also currently working for. Also, from what I know, there's nothing we're doing here that's so important that it'll jeopardize the future that we're not already doing on behalf of Chrysalis herself."
  4796. >"From what YOU know. You have no idea what other projects I could be working on and what they might be for! What then?"
  4797. "Then you know that Emerald's a spy now, so you know to keep it from her. Just lock it in your lab, that should stop intrusion."
  4798. >"That lock is bio-metric, I have no idea if it would stop a changeling disguised as me from getting in!"
  4799. >Oh
  4800. >Fair point
  4801. "Yeah, I got nothing for that."
  4802. >"So now you see my problem."
  4803. >Twilight sighs and does a gesture that you can only interpret as an equivalent to pinching the bridge of her nose, but calms down and continues
  4804. >"I'm still going to let you bring her over if she wants to, but on two conditions. One, she never leaves your sight. Two, let me know before. No more unannounced visits, and make sure she doesn't get anywhere she shouldn't. I don't care how you make sure of that, I don't even care if you tell her since she seems to think you don't care about her new job, just make sure that nothing happens to violate either of those two conditions."
  4805. "Understood. Just one other question though."
  4806. >"What is it?"
  4807. "What if one of those conditions is broken from things outside my control?"
  4808. >"If it's outside your control, then you don't have to worry about yourself. If it's just the punishment for breaking these rules that you want to know, then I'm not too sure. Maybe I'll just put you back in your own universe immediately and leave it at that."
  4809. "That doesn't sound too bad."
  4810. >"Then you'd better hope that it doesn't happen before the week after next, otherwise you'll be going back through as is."
  4811. >Oh
  4812. >Right
  4813. >You can't go back to being human yet unless you want your still-healing nose to turn your brain into pudding
  4814. "Again, understood."
  4815. >"Good. With all that being said, I'll let you get back to things."
  4816. >Twilight walks back off to wherever she was going before you caught her in the hall and explained things, leaving you to go back to your room and Emerald
  4817. >One relatively short walk later, you find yourself back at your room and your friend is there waiting
  4818. [p]>"So, how'd it go?"[/p]
  4819. >Might as well rip the bandaid off now
  4820. "So Twilight's not too happy about my assumption, but she's still willing to let you come over as long as we follow two rules: we tell her beforehand, and we don't separate."
  4821. [p]>"Oh..."[/p]
  4822. "Yeah, sorry about that; I hope this doesn't ruin any of your plans for anything or put a damper on today's visit."
  4823. [p]>"It's fine, this is my job now. It's my fault for not expecting this, I just have to be more careful."[/p]
  4824. "And I'll do what I need to to keep us both out of trouble! Now, where did we leave off?"
  4825. [p]>"I think you were going to ask me about how everything went between when we last met?"[/p]
  4826. "Something like that. So, what did you get up to besides just solidifying your job choice?"
  4827. >Emerald takes a moment to think to herself and collects her thoughts before answering
  4828. [p]>"Well, I had to help rebuild the hive after it got blown apart. That was a long process and I had to help out with a lot of the redecoration, but it looks just like it did before! After that, I decided I wanted to be a spy since no other job would let me leave the hive and I wasn't sure if you'd ever come back there."[/p]
  4829. "Was there anything interesting about that, or did you just tell Chrysalis and she said okay?"
  4830. [p]>"There was a test where I had to memorize a story and not forget it for a week. There was another test too, but that one was just making sure I could lie well enough to not get caught, so it was easy. After that, I just had to choose my persona so that I could get off to where I was supposed to spy on."[/p]
  4831. "Huh, neat."
  4832. [p]>"What about you, what's the mission from Princess Celestia you mentioned?"[/p]
  4833. >Do you tell her?
  4834. >She did risk her own cover to tell you about being a spy out in front of the school, it's the least you could do
  4835. >Yeah, fuck it
  4836. "Do you know what the conditions of the peace between the Badlands and Equestria were?"
  4837. [p]>"Yeah, something about us having to give up a bunch of our ore stores, and in exchange we get protection and Mom gets help with... something important?"[/p]
  4838. "Yeah, Princess Celestia put me in charge of the 'something important.' In case you're wondering, it's going well so far."
  4839. [p]>"Why did she put you in charge of... that?"[/p]
  4840. "I really don't know, and that's even after asking Luna, Twilight and Chrysalis. It's either that she thinks I can handle it since I got everyone involved onboard with the peace agreement to begin with, or because she doesn't like the fact that I ended up getting all of this put on her through the peace agreement."
  4841. >Emerald's expression immediately jumps to confusion upon hearing your explanation
  4842. [p]>"Wait, you're why this all happened?"[/p]
  4843. >Maybe you said too much
  4844. "Yeah, it's a long story that I'm still not sure if I should get into."
  4845. [p]>"Does it have anything to do with that conversation back in the hotel in Canterlot and what you didn't explain there?"[/p]
  4846. "Funnily enough, they're actually the exact same answer. Also, the reason I'm not sure if I should say it or not, since you at least deserve that, is because Twilight wants me to keep it secret until further notice."
  4847. [p]>"Further notice being when?"[/p]
  4848. "Whenever Twilight decides the world is ready. As for an answer on that, I can only imagine."
  4849. >Emerald's shoulders droop and she lets out an exasperated grunt
  4850. [p]>"Can I at least get a hint?"[/p]
  4851. >You're definitely not saying no to that, Twilight's rules be damned!
  4852. >The question is, what hint could you give that wouldn't immediately give it away or do effectively nothing?
  4853. >Or, and hear me out here, what if we just completely shoved the problem onto someone else?
  4854. >Not a bad idea, amirite?
  4855. >Glad to see you agree, now who do we shove it off onto?
  4856. >Spike?
  4857. >A good idea, fairly close and he's the one who currently knows the most about your situation within the vicinity, but still not optimal since he's also bound by Twilight's rules
  4858. >Luna?
  4859. >Maybe, but is she even allowed by her job to infiltrate the dreams of non-citizens?
  4860. >Yeah, I agree that taking a legal risk there just to spill some beans isn't really worth it, even if she happens to be one of two beings here above the law
  4861. >Might want to ask her about that for future reference though, just in case
  4862. >Chrysalis?
  4863. >Truly a brilliant suggestion!
  4864. >Not bound by Twilight's rules (and even if she was, quite likely to disobey out of spite,) full knowledge of just who and what you are with added knowledge of how you got here, and somebody you hold enough authority with to respect your judgement in situations like this!
  4865. "I myself can't give you a hint, but I can point you towards someone who will tell you if you ask with my approval."
  4866. >Upon hearing this, Emerald almost physically jumps out of her funk
  4867. [p]>"Who?"[/p]
  4868. "Chrysalis. Just ask your mom, but make sure to tell her that I said you're allowed to know. Better yet, I have an idea! In order for us to make it happen though, first we need to find Spike."
  4869. >One letter written and sent later, you two have finished up with everything you needed to discuss, freeing up the rest of the time for games and general screwing around!
  4870. >Eventually though, even that comes to an end as Emerald has to go home and Twilight has something to bother you about
  4871. >Nevermind, turns out she was just making sure you didn't say anything confidential to the resident spy
  4872. >You didn't
  4873. >You told her where you could find out some confidential information, but Twilight didn't ask about that~
  4874. >From there, the evening is business as usual until it's time to turn in for the night
  4875. >. . .
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