>you begin to hear hoofsteps echo through the halls and passages of the hive around you
>Twilight's coming to the throne room
>after a few more apprehensive moments, she enters
"Twilight, I have some stuff to say to you that's very important. You need to listen."
[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]
>no, she is not just going to throw out everything you worked for like this!
"Twilight, I'm completely serious. This is something very important. Please listen."
[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]
>amazing, the logical bookworm is going for the 'shoot first' approach
>"I'm still here, you know."
[p]>"So I noticed, and I'll deal with you as soon as she goes outside."[/p]
>"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."
[p]>"And what makes you think Anon's a 'he'? She's from Manehattan-"[/p]
>"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."
[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]
>"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-"
[p]>"How am I supposed to trust you? Your entire existence is built on deceiving."[/p]
>"If you would listen to him, he would tell you himself; however, you seem to be blind to that."
>after that, they both go silent
>they're only a few inches apart now, and you find that you've retreated back to one of the pillars
>the tension is so thick that you could probably cut it
>well, if you had something sharper and a bit more durable than an average knife
>it seems that the tension's coming to an explosive release when Twilight charges up a spell
>better duck and cover, things are about to go the way you don't want!
>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
>it all just escalates from there, getting progressively more powerful as time goes on
>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
>seriously, you can't even tell where they are
>just where they were from massive green-and-purple explosions emanating from some point in the room
>these explosions shake the room each time they happen, bringing dust down from the ceiling and the pillars of the throne room
>the ones that happen farther away feel like a minor earthquake
>the ones that happen closer to you feel like a grenade going off with you a few feet outside kill range
>it's a nervewracking feeling with this all happening so close to you, yet you can't help but watch
>it's like watching Goku and Vegeta fight in person, except it's not Goku or Vegeta fighting here
>eventually they stop long enough for you to see them, but the fighting is still happening
>Twilight and Chrysalis both charge up a massive beam attack while standing at opposite ends of the room
>when they both fire, it collides in the exact middle
>a beam struggle
>you'd complain about fight cliches, but it's happening about 7 yards from you
>you're more concerned with not dying
>so then why are you still watching?
>as the beam struggle continues, you see it being pretty much evenly matched
>whenever one of them starts losing ground, they immediately push back with even more magic
>eventually it ends with another explosion, sending all three of you into a different wall
>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
>that REALLY hurt
>you don't seem to be bleeding, though
>however, upon closer inspection of your shirt, the back is now shredded
>that was your only shirt!
>your brooding over the loss of your shirt is interrupted as the fighting resumes, seemingly more frenzied than before
>Twilight's not holding anything back now, and it even seems like she recovered instantly from that
>Chrysalis however, is losing ground and fast
>she's still putting up a good fight, though
>somehow, it seems like she gets a second wind as she pushes back Twilight's assault and even starts putting her in a corner
>however, you can only tell this from the explosions happening and not much else
>eventually, Twilight stops on the ground for just long enough to charge a spell from behind a shield
>from your initial judgement, it looks like she's sustained a few injuries
>she's bleeding from a few places and has a few large bruises
>all that heals in an instant, though
>well, so much for that
>after that, Chrysalis only seems to push harder against Twilight
>the attacks are getting weaker, though
>even you can see that
>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
>eventually, it's Chrysalis that stops and does something
>she's pretty damaged too, having even more cuts, scrapes and bruises than Twilight did
>however, the light of battle still hasn't left her as she charges up a massive spell
>even Twilight realizes this as she preps a shield spell, hoping to block as much of it as she can
>when Chrysalis finally fires off the spell, it rips through Twilight's shield almost instantly and tears into the roof of the room
>you can even see the rays of the setting sun penetrating through the thick cloud of dust that resulted
>however, a shadow in the dust remains hovering in the air
>just obscured by the cloud, the silhouette of Twilight remains firmly in its place, casting an ominous shadow over the whole room
>eventually, the dust clears completely
>and she's coming back down
>and Chrysalis has fallen to the floor
[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]
>Chrysalis has just enough strength to get back up and insult Twilight before she lands
>"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."
>as Twilight lands in front of Chrysalis, she replies
[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]
>this is it, this is the only chance you have to keep things from getting worse!
>you charge out from behind your pillar and start waving wildly at Chrysalis before running directly for Twilight
>Chrysalis understands immediately what you're going to do and fires off the transformation spell with every ounce of magic she has left
>you can feel the spell hit its mark, but you don't stop
>if anything, you get faster since your now-human form is what you're used to
>you also feel your shirt rip apart at your size change, but that doesn't matter
>Twilight notices the spell go off, but didn't see what it was
>as a result, she assumes it was a lethal strike in your direction and begins charging a lethal strike of her own
>you're within jumping distance now, all you have to do is grab Twilight and you win!
>don't fuck this up!
>with one final step, you jump for Twilight...
>you fall to the floor mere inches from Twilight as she fires off the spell, blasting a visible hole through Chrysalis
>as the light fades from Chrysalis's eyes, she looks at you
>her mouth moves as if to say something, but the light is finally extinguished as her final breath leaves her body
>she's dead and you couldn't save her
>you just witnessed a life end through needless violence
>you will never be the same
>you even physically feel something snap in your head
>given the fact that all your thoughts freeze up and shatter at this moment, it was probably something in the emotion-processing area
>Twilight turns around to see you, still alive and now human
>"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?"
>now internally and externally shaken, you barely even register her comment
>suddenly, the shock and emptiness in your mind begins being replaced by a torrent of emotions
>sadness, anger, shame, frustration and disgust all fill your mind and vie for control
>only just barely being able to suppress it all through clenched teeth and fists, you crawl over to the corpse of the queen
>as you touch her now lifeless form, you now notice one of your emotions gaining a major foothold in your mind
>you face Twilight with unrelenting rage fueling you to stand up and nearly throw her across the room
>however, all you do is just scream at her
"YOU ONLY HAD TO LISTEN, AND NOTHING BAD WOULD'VE HAPPENED! SHE WAS WILLING TO COOPERATE; YOU JUST NEEDED TO LISTEN!"
>now realizing just how much she fucked up, Twilight immediately shrinks down before your immense form
>"I-I'm sorry, I-I didn't-"
>calming yourself down enough to stop screaming, you interrupt her and begin ranting
"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!"
"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."
>you start walking out of the room, ignoring Twilight as she follows you out
>"Anon, you have to understand that I was just doing what I thought was right!"
"The road to hell is paved with good intentions."
>some of the doors are a bit cramped, but you still manage to make it back up to the surface
>Twilight was still behind you the whole time, albeit silent
>well, until now
>"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."
"YOU need to catch the train back. I'm not going back with you."
>"Then when are you going back?"
"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."
>"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."
"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!"
>that seems to be the blow that breaks Twilight
>"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."
>Twilight leaves and you flip her off as she walks away
>after she's pretty much out of your sight, you turn around and start walking in the exact opposite direction
>in your isolation, you begin thinking
>had you been too harsh?
>had you been particularly rational?
>does it matter now?
>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
>now, all you need to do is remember all those guides you saw on /k/ and /out/
>fuck, you can't remember them
>you may be screwed
>also, it's getting pretty cold
>night would tend to that
>shit, what did you get yourself into?
>also, you're pretty thirsty
>where was that massive stream from the other day?
>you're poked awake from your third day out in the middle of nowhere in your small camp
>you managed to remember more of those guides than you thought, enough to make it this far
>when you open your eyes and inspect your visitor, you see that it's a changeling
"Who are you and where did you come from?"
>your visitor steps back in surprise after seeing that you're actually alive
>"...Anonymous? What happened to you?"
>that voice is familiar
>is that Spinneret?
"Nothing happened. This is what I normally look like, Twilight just hid it behind a transformation spell. Now, who are you?"
>"I-it's... It's me, Spinneret."
>she continues after stating this
>"We noticed that you hadn't come with us when we evacuated, what happened back at the old hive?"
>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
>after hearing that, you see her eyes start to water
>"At least she kept her dignity until the end..."
>after wiping her eyes and taking a deep breath, Spinneret makes you an offer
>"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."
>you accept the offer and follow her back to the new hive
>it's been a few years
>Queen Emerald took to her role well, even if it took some convincing from other changelings to get her to that point
>even so, your friendship stuck
>it survived one dramatic reveal, there's no reason why it couldn't survive another
>after she fully grew into her role, she immediately chose you as her first mate
>she also never forgot what happened to Chrysalis
>as it turns out, changelings hybridized with human DNA are incredibly resilient and smart
>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
>Queen Emerald is hoping to use this as a way to get revenge for what happened, but you keep talking her out of it
>it's bad enough that this had to happen to begin with, but you're not going to let things escalate
>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
>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
>far too late
End of Alt
>Twilight is knocked away from Chrysalis and you manage to easily overpower her
>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
"Twilight, stop! She's not a threat anymore, so now you don't have to do anything except to listen to me!"
[p]>"... Anonymous? While I'm glad you're okay, I told you that I would listen after. Now, put me down!"[/p]
>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
"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!"
[p]>"Put me down and I'll try to replicate the spell. I promise."[/p]
"Okay. If you try anything, then prepare to be bodyslammed."
>you set Twilight down and she turns to face you, closing her eyes in the process
>her horn lights up again, but this time it's not in a malevolent way
>you keep your mind as open and calm as possible as she begins to filter through it, observing your intentions
>after she finishes, she opens her eyes and gets a very surprised expression
>she opens her mouth as if to say something, but nothing comes out as she looks up at you
"Now do you believe me?"
[p]>"... Yes. I'm sorry, I should've considered this as a possibility."[/p]
>she turns towards Chrysalis and walks over with a new expression of shame
>resting a hoof on her shoulder, Twilight uses another spell to heal her wounds
>after Chrysalis stands back up under her own power, Twilight steps back
[p]>"I'm deeply sorry for not considering this, I hope I haven't ruined everything with my display."[/p]
>"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."
>they both turn towards you now, and Twilight speaks up
[p]>"I think I'm willing to give this idea a shot. Now what do we do?"[/p]
>your idea gets just that much more merit!
"Now? Now, we bring it up with Celestia."
>Twilight nods, thinking along the same lines you are
>Chrysalis, however, looks a bit concerned
>"You don't seriously expect me to just walk in to CELESTIA'S CASTLE when I can barely even disguise right now, do you?"
>can changelings not disguise whenever they want?
"Why can't you disguise?"
>"I just expended all of my accumulated magic, I have nothing to draw on while keeping the disguise stable in case of an emergency."
>Twilight starts thinking after hearing this, but comes to an answer within seconds
[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]
>"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."
"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."
>they both turn towards you as you cover what you need to
[p]>"Sure, just give me a sec-"[/p]
>"Hold on, Twilight, I'd like a look at him first."
>Chrysalis starts walking towards you as Twilight starts looking between her and you in worry
[p]>"Are you sure that's the best idea? Humans aren't to be taken lightly, as Anon just demonstrated."[/p]
>she's probably just trying to make Chrysalis stop
>she probably won't, though
>"Don't worry, I trust him and I'm sure at this point he trusts me too."
>as you thought
>oh well, you ARE the alien in the room, after all
>what's one more poking and prodding to throw on the pile?
[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]
>okay Twilight, just outright tell her
>now she's going to wonder what you're hiding and try to look anyway
>is everypony going to know what your junk looks like by the time you're home?
>well, Chrysalis made it to you
>time to zone out!
>could Twilight build you a magic-powered 40K dreadnought for your filly body?
>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
>especially if it had flamers and missile launchers like all the cool ones do
>also, you wouldn't even be able to use it since you're not dead
>well, you'd ask for a Titan, but there's even less chance of her making one of those for you
>don't those need multiple drivers, too?
>eh, you forgot
>point is, Twilight probably wouldn't give you either of those, much less let you keep either of them
>you're going to have to make it yourself if you want one, then
>is it over?
>time to zone back in and check
>it seems like it, Chrysalis has stopped touching you and seems to be staring-
>WHERE ARE YOUR ARMS
>fuck, they fell to your sides when you zoned out!
>no wonder she's staring...
>oh, and Twilight seems to be facing a completely different direction
>this wasn't the best time to zone out, was it?
>you cover yourself back up, causing Chrysalis to look up at you with an expectant look
"Sorry, I zoned out a bit too far."
>"It's alright, I saw everything that I needed to and confirmed that the backup plan could work."
>Twilight finally turns around at hearing this, bearing a suspicious look
[p]>"Backup plan? Anonymous, would you mind telling me about that?"[/p]
"Sure, just change me back first. It's getting pretty cold and I no longer have fur or a shirt."
>Twilight walks towards you and fires up the spell
>as promised, you start explaining as soon as you can no longer feel air hitting your junk
"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."
>Twilight's face changes to a neutral expression and she blushes
>this leaves the three of you standing in an awkward triangle
"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?"
[p]>"I know how Anon and I are getting there and I'm sure any day can work for us."[/p]
>"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?"
[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]
>"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?"
[p]>"Yes, and if it's not too much trouble, I'd like to bring Anon with me."[/p]
>Chrysalis looks at you, prompting Twilight to do the same
"Sure, I guess?"
>you kinda shrug as you get up and move to Twilight's side
>as you two start to leave, you turn around towards Chrysalis and wave
>she smiles and waves back before heading to a different exit of the hive
>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
>when the purple glare stops assaulting your retinas, you see that you two are now in a hotel room
>it's nothing special, but you can tell that this is in some border town by the decoration
>it's kinda western looking but not really, you'd describe it further but you lack the adjectives
>there's also a bed, a table, some chairs, and a bathroom
>you see Twilight rearranging some things in her bag nearby
"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."
>Twilight stops rearranging her stuff, smirks, and faces you
[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]
[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]
"As long as you're not going to actively sabotage it, I think everyone can deal with that."
[p]>"Sabotage, that's a good idea!"[/p]
>Twilight starts giggling to herself while you give her the least amused face you can
[p]>"I was kidding, jeez!"[/p]
"This is a serious matter, Twilight. I worked hard to get this to happen. I had to convince you, Luna, AND Chrysalis."
[p]>"Okay, I'm sorry."[/p]
"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?"
[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]
>so that's exactly what you do
>you clean yourself off and take care of any other hygiene matters you can think of before being reminded about your shirt
>it was your only shirt, too!
>now what are you going to do if it gets cold?
>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
>also, you're not sure if you could even wear socks in public
>you may need to ask for help again
>you finish drying yourself off and walk back out to see Twilight reading a book in a chair
"Hey uh, can I ask for a favor?"
>she looks up from it at you
"My shirt got destroyed in the hive earlier. Can you help me get a new one?"
[p]>"I suppose I could, Rarity still owes me from that one time anyway. Same color?"[/p]
"Yeah, thanks a bunch!"
>Twilight returns her attention to her book and you realize that you're pretty hungry
>you're also really tired
>which comes first?
>you don't see any food around you, but you do see a bed
>sleep it is!
>you hop in and get comfy, reaching dreamland soon afterwards
>. . .
>your dreamscape is a boring one
>to say that not much is going on in it would be an understatement
>it's pretty much just a blank expanse of white
>maybe your mind's trying to process the day's events and needs a break?
>keeping that in mind, you decide to only summon one of those coin-operated rides that you see outside stores back home
>it's not one that needs coins though, that would just take more effort to make work
>it's shaped like a rocket and has red and yellow paint on it
>there's also a seat large enough for you in it
>you hop in as it starts up and lean back into a comfortable position, letting your unconscious mind do what it needs to
>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
>"Good evening Anonymous. I can't help but notice this place is quite dreary, is everything alright?"
"I'm fine, my day's just been a long one."
>you lean forward to see that Luna's perched herself on the front of the ride
>that's one way to do it
>"Would it help if you told me some of it?"
>you know, it probably would
>this isn't really the best setting to go into psychoanalysis, though
>what with you two both riding a toy rocket
>so, you get out and summon a chair and one of those psychologist couches into this void
>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
>you hop on the couch and Luna takes the chair without a word
>she probably gets what you're doing, after all
>time to start talking!
"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."
>"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."
>so Stockholm Syndrome is a thing here, too
>you've thought it before and you'll think it again; these ponies never cease to amaze you
"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?"
>your abrupt change to that question seems to catch Luna off-guard, so it takes her a second to reply
>"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."
>that'll probably happen to you, come Sunday
>better start preparing your arguments
"What are her issues?"
>"She doesn't think the public will approve of it."
>you don't have anything on that
>wait, you're getting an idea!
>but is it a good one?
>only one way to find out
"Does the public necessarily have to know, though?"
>Luna gives you a surprised and disappointed look for a few seconds before she replies
>"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?"
>shut down instantly
>well, that sucks
>"No, seriously. What gave you that idea, what is the world of humans like to make that even a thought in your mind?"
"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."
>Luna's look of surprise and disappointment ends up shifting to pity
>"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."
"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."
>"I feel sorry for you."
"Don't; it's a clusterfuck of a world, but it's my clusterfuck of a world and I care a lot about it."
>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
>this silence lasts for the remainder of the dream, nothing else significant being said or done
>. . .
>you wake up to see Twilight sitting at the table in the room with both chairs pulled up to it
>you also see an abundance of food on that table!
>fuck yeah, you're hungry!
>"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."
>that's all yours?
>you pretty much jump out of the bed and bolt to the unoccupied chair and start eating
>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
>in between your third croissant and your second apple, you decide it's a good time to thank her for this
"Thanks, Twi. Also, when are we leaving for the castle?"
>"No problem, we're leaving in about a half hour. The train leaves at 8:30 and it's 7:45 right now."
>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
"Am I going back to school for the rest of the week too?"
>"I'm surprised you had to ask. You are, and you're also going to do all the work you missed on the train."
>wait, makeup work?
>isn't that something that students on vacation or something have to do?
"I'm the one who gets kidnapped, and I'm also the one who gets punished for it. In what world is that fair?"
>you sigh and roll your eyes
>"Why is this even a problem for you? You've already proved yourself to be very smart; this should be easy for you!"
"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?"
>"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."
>you're being forced into this again, but you're not going down without a challenge
"You said less than 20 minutes?"
"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?"
>"You're just going to wait it out so it takes longer. No deal."
"Okay, you can watch me and make sure that I spend all the time working. Does that make it better?"
>"If I think you're not working, then I can stop the timer until you start again."
"No, because then you're going to stop the timer whenever you feel like!"
>"Alright, then this has accomplished nothing. What would you even do with 100 bits, anyway?"
"I don't know, I didn't get that far."
>"Oh well. It's about time for us to leave, anyway."
>you and Twilight leave the room with everything that was brought and head for the train station
>the town you're in mirors the decoration of the hotel room well
>it's all got the same pseudo-western feel about it, almost like Appleoosa but less stereotypical
>there's not much you don't like about it, though
>it kind of reminds you of some places you visited on family vacations back home
>there's not much you get to specifically look at on the way though, since Twilight just teleported you two straight to the station
>she gives you your ticket and you both board the train without issue, claiming your seats when you get to them
>after you both are seated, she pulls some papers and a pencil out of her bag and gives them to you
>"Here's everything, I promise it won't take long if you just do it."
"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."
>"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..."
>Twilight pulls out that book she brought and starts reading it again, leaving you to do your homework
>you sigh as you look over the piece of paper at the top of the admittedly small pile
>at least it's still easy enough
>find the circumference of a couple of circles, find the area of a right triangle, etc.
>after about a minute of actual work and only a few actual thoughts relating to the paper in front of you, it's completed
>you look at the next paper on the pile and see what torture you need to endure again
>oh, it's science
>geology to be precise
>rocks aren't your strong suit, but it's grade school science
>how bad could it be?
>igneous=volcanoes, sedimentary=sediment, metamorphic=temperature+pressure
>you don't have to grow up on a rock farm to know this stuff
>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
>oh well, what's next?
>didn't you just do two pages of that already?
>you sigh again as you look at what Cheerilee expects you to do
>'write a paragraph about your weekend'
>Twilight already said you're not allowed to say anything about what happened
>but then what do?
>she looks up from her book at you
>"What do you need?"
"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."
>"You weren't there for the entire weekend, just leave that part out."
>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
>you don't think it'll really matter
>Emerald's probably tied up in helping repair the hive anyway, so you're not going to have to deal with a conflicting story
>you look at your work, making sure everything's spelled correctly and grammatically correct
>when you're satisfied with it, you put it on the 'done' pile and look at your final paper
>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%
"Uhh... Twilight? I need more help."
>"What is it?"
"This entire worksheet. I know none of it."
>"Let me see it and I'll help you."
>you give the paper and your pencil to Twilight and she looks over it
>"All this is pretty basic, are you sure you know none of it?"
"Absolutely certain. This isn't something I've learned at all, and I have no familiarity with any of the events or ponies listed."
>"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."
"Sure, that sounds like a good idea."
>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
>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
>you grab all the papers and hand them back to Twilight, who places them and the pencil back in her bag
>cool, you finished all your stuff!
>how long has it been since you left?
>let's see, the train left at 8:30 and it's currently...
"What time is it?"
>Twilight thinks for a bit and eventually comes to a conclusion
>I'd say it's about 8:45."
>you've only been on this train for 15 minutes
>what are you going to do to kill all this time?
>well, I can't help you here
>I have about as many ideas as you do, a fat, whopping zero
>that's a shame
>you decide that the best course of action is to ask Twilight
"Any ideas on what I can do to kill time right now?"
>"I'm not sure, I don't think I packed your phone for you and I don't really have anything else. Sorry."
"None at all?"
>"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."
>it's not much, but it's something
>you look out the window to your left at the landscape you're passing
>it's just desert
>like, not even interesting desert with rocks and stuff
>just sand, sand, sand, and an occasional cactus
>not any interesting cacti with arms or flowers, either
>just a bunch of short, rotund plants with spines
>this isn't going to work
"This is boring too. What do I do instead?"
>Twilight's starting to look annoyed as she looks up from her book again
>"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."
>looks like you're still on your own with this
>can you get away with exploring the train?
>you get out of your seat and start walking around the train car
>it's pretty much empty
>no, scratch that
>it's completely empty
>the only other pony in here with you is Twilight
>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
>no way you're going to risk that
>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
>out of options, you head back to your seat
>when you plant yourself back on the cushion and sigh, Twilight takes notice again
"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."
>"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."
>you look at the cover of the book to find that it has no distinctive markings
"What is it?"
>"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."
>this world really must not have that much in terms of actual engineers
"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."
>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
>it's something that you thought was pretty cool, and she looked like she was learning a lot from it
>"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?"
"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."
>"Not now, you goof! When we get back you can show me."
>ah, of course
>how could you make that stupid mistake again?
>oh yeah, you're an autist
>it's your specialty
>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!
>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
>you're almost back
>Not too long later, you both are back in Ponyville
>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
>What could you do with your limited surroundings and lack of knowledge on magical tools?
>You're not sure
>Maybe it would be a good idea to start with a simple generator?
>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
>It would also show Twilight that you at least know how to do something with your limited surroundings
>Yeah, that's where you're going to start!
>So you decided to build a basic generator to create some amount of electric potential
>If you had a light bulb or something, you could prove that it worked
>Unfortunately, you don't
>No testing for you
>It's a shame too, testing is always a fun part of the necessary process
>So then how are you going to prove it?
>That's a problem you'll solve when you get to it
>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
>That's beside the point, though
>Twilight opens the door for you and announces your return to Spike
>"Spike, I'm back! I found Anon too!"
>You both walk inside and are greeted by a purple dragon a few seconds later
[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]
[o]>"Where were you? Also, why did it take 3 days to find you?"[/o]
"Sorry man, that's classified by the order of Twilight."
>"She got lost and then fillynapped. It wasn't too hard to find her; I just had to do some research."
>Oh, so Twilight's doing the fast thinking again?
>Well, that just blows everything you just said into irrelevancy
[o]>"That sucks, I'm glad you made it back, though!"[/o]
>Somebody missed you!
>That's a feeling you haven't felt in a while
"Thanks mate, what did I miss?"
[o]>"Not much, Twilight flipped out and did more studying than usual before running off to get you. Other than that, nothing."[/o]
>Cool, you didn't miss anything important
>Twilight breaks into the conversation here and tries to steer it back in the direction of getting you to her lab
>"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."
[o]>"Okay, I hope you both don't mind pizza!"[/o]
>With that, Spike leaves for the kitchen
>Twilight also takes the lead on the way down to the lab, looking back to make sure you're following her
>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
>The massive metal doors silently slide open, revealing the massive sterile expanse behind it
>Twilight's laboratory (queue Dexter's Lab theme)
>All jokes aside, it's pretty cool that you get to actually do stuff here
>Twilight leads you back to the section with all the parts and pieces of machinery organised in it and looks at you expectantly
>"Can you do anything interesting with any of this?"
"Not without tools, proper measurements, or my hands."
>"If your body's an issue, I can fix that. I don't know what tools you'd need, though."
"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."
>"Then I'll go get that stuff, and you can figure out the precise measurements when you get it."
>You wait where you are while Twilight gathers an assortment of items that roughly matches what you asked for
>It's not what you expected, but you can work with this
>About 40 meters of copper wire on a mounted spool
>Half your work's already done, that's pretty cool
>A bar magnet, Nice
>A box to hold it all in
>Alright, some decent supplies to start with
>You immediately tear into the spool, searching for both ends of it
>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
>This is where you encounter another problem, though
>You have nothing to hold the magnet or turn it with
"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?"
>"Sure, give me a second."
>Twilight turns back to the massive wall of parts while you scan it yourself, looking for some way to demonstrate what you did
>Eventually, you see it
>As long as it's not too different from a regular bulb, then you should be able to demonstrate your crude generator quite nicely!
"Can you also grab me that lightbulb over there? That'll be useful to demonstrate it."
>Twilight looks back towards you with a response
>"That's a magic bulb, are you sure it'll work?"
"Does it work by routing magic through a metal filament from two metal connector points?"
>"Well, yes. However, I'm not sure how it will react to... whatever it is you're doing."
"You answered yes, that's all that matters. Give me the bulb, please."
>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
>Jam this long bit into this round thing, force it both into this hole...
>Shove the magnet into one end of the long bit and some lever into the other end...
>Take the thing with the hole and tape it to that plate...
>Take those four sticks and make the spool stand on them...
>Carefully orient it all to work together...
>Finally, you take the lightbulb and what's left of the electrical tape and fasten both ends of the copper spool to it
>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
>Now, time to see if your homemade frankenstein's monster of a basic hand generator works
>Wrapping your hoof around the makeshift crank holding the magnet, you begin to turn it to the best of your ability
>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
>You turn and face Twilight, who seems somewhat disinterested in what's going on
"Turn off the lights, you'll be able to see it better!"
>She magics a switch somewhere, sending the laboratory into pitch darkness
>You resume your task, despite the lack of light, and as you expected, the dim glow of the bulb is now much more visible
>Twilight gets closer to the point that you can see her expression in the dim light, and it's a surprised and interested one
>This inspires you to push your turning ability to its limits and make the magnet spin even faster
>Your efforts are awarded by the light getting even brighter
>Well, at least until the force you're putting on your assembly causes it all to quite literally unravel
>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
>The spool and bulb are unharmed, at least
>Twilight magics the lights back on to inspect the damages, and nothing is damaged
>You give yourself a quick inspection to see if everything's alright, and it mostly seems that way
>However, you can't seem to feel your nose anymore
>No, wait, there it is!
>It's just unimaginably full of pain!
>Anon just showed you a basic way to create electrical potential without using magic
>It was pretty cool to watch, until he ended up breaking the whole thing
>Part of it hit you, but you're pretty much fine
>Anon on the other hoof, is currently laying on the floor screaming and holding his nose
>You can also see some blood leaking out from between his hooves
>Shit, this doesn't look good already
>You need to stay calm though, otherwise this might get worse
"Anon, I'm going to need you to calm down and let me see."
>He quiets down and moves his hooves away, but continues whimpering just a bit
>His nose is facing a few degrees to the left and is leaking blood
>Yeah, he's going to need to see a doctor
>You can handle small issues, but a broken nose is beyond your abilities
"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."
>He nods weakly, letting himself be lifted gently on to your back as you teleport you both to the hospital
>Not wasting any time waiting for the flash to fade from your eyes, you walk up to the front desk of the hospital
"Excuse me, but Anonymous here needs medical attention."
>The nurse looks up from some papers on her desk to see the extent of the damage
[p]>"Alright, let me see."[/p]
>You turn to the side, giving her a good view of the green filly sitting on your back
>Anon's still holding his nose, but at least he's stopped screaming
[p]>"Alright sweetie, I'm going to need you to let me see."[/p]
>She's using a calming voice that seems to have an effect on Anonymous
>With minimal persuasion, he lets her see the injured area
>From your perspective at least, it looks like the bleeding's stopped
>After the nurse has seen everything she needs to, she turns back to you
[p]>"Do you know what happened to cause this injury?"[/p]
>You can't exactly tell the truth here
>Well, not the whole truth
>So let's try a slight modification of it!
"She made something that she showed me, and when it broke, a particularly large part of it hit her in the face."
>The nurse sighs and walks towards a door nearby
[p]>"Wait here, I'll get the doctor."[/p]
>She leaves through the door and you bring Anon over to some chairs nearby
>you set him down first before taking the chair next to him, now waiting in silence
>Silence is boring, and besides
>You feel kinda bad for what happened, even though it was pretty much not your fault
"How are you holding up?"
>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
[o]>"I'b fide, bud id hurds breddy bad ad I cand breathe doo well."[/o]
"Well, I'm glad that you're staying strong despite this."
[o]>"Id's no broblem, I'b breddy resisdand to bain even for huban sdandards."[/o]
>The silence returns for about a minute before the doctor comes out to call Anonymous in
>"Anonymous, We're ready to see you."
>You turn to him and ask him a final question
"Do you want me to come in with you or can you handle it yourself?"
[o]>"I thing I god id."[o]
"Alright, I'll be waiting for you here."
>With that, Anon follows the doctor into the depths of the hospital
>That magnet broke your nose, and now you're at the hospital to get it fixed
>At least this isn't the first time you've broken something
>Then again, it's been a long time since middle school and breaking a finger is very different to breaking your nose
>That's not even counting the fact that human medicine and pony medicine are probably different
>The doctor does all the standard stuff that doctors do with patients of your age, taking your height, weight, etc.
>Just as you suspected, you aren't that tall and you aren't that heavy
>You're just another filly
>After all that, you're finally taken back to a room where the procedure will take place
[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]
>You nod, and the doctor leaves again for a short time
>When he returns, he brings with him a unicorn in similar medical attire
>"Hello Anonymous, I understand you have a broken nose?"
"Yeah, bud I bed you can dell already."
>"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-"
>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
>You immediately start screaming again, but at least you don't have to stop to breathe now!
>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
[o]>"That wasn't so bad, was it?"[/o]
>It wasn't, but it still hurt like a bitch
"I guess not. Does this mean I get a lollipop?"
[o]>"Yes it does, the nurse will give it to you when you get back out to the waiting room."[/o]
>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
>2-3 weeks is what he said, as long as you don't mess it up
>After that, it's all kind of a blur because of the adrenaline wearing off
>You remember the lollipop, Twilight asking some things, and getting back to the castle
>Not much else, though
>As soon as you get back, you immediately head for your room
>You then flop down on top of your bed (being careful of your face), and begin drifting off almost immediately
>. . .
>Your dream environment isn't a consistent one
>At first, you notice only the general environment
>It seems to be a larger, more maze-like version of Twilight's castle
>However, there's something else
>There's a slight fog over the entire place that redshifts near the periphery of your vision
>Also, the environment seems to change slightly every minute or so accompanied by a small burst of pain
>You don't need very much time to figure out what's going on to cause this
>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)
>Also, you make a mental note to ask Twilight for some pain meds
>You're not sure how to deal with the pain right now, but maybe Luna will have some ideas?
>Maybe, just maybe
>In the meantime, do you have any ideas yourself?
>Maybe dream pain meds will work
>You close your eyes and concentrate for a significantly longer time than usual since flares of pain keep breaking it up
>After you're fed up with getting interrupted, you open your eyes and see what you've done
>A fuzzy table sits before you, holding an equally fuzzy set of pills and a cup of water
>It all flickers intermittently along with the flashes of pain, but hopefully that won't be a problem for long
>You pick up the pills and water and take them together, waiting patiently for the result
>You wait for a few seconds, only to find that nothing's happened
>Well, you tried
>You let go of the table and the glass, letting them fade back into the warped background of your dream
>Seeing nothing else to do in your current state, you sit down on a nearby chair and wait for Luna
>After a few more minutes, she indeed arrives
>In a flash of bright blue light, the princess of the moon enters your dream
>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
>"Good evening, Anonymous, has something happened? I've only ever seen this in ponies who were hurt somehow."
>Absolutely correct, something has happened
"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."
>"I'm terribly sorry to hear that, how did it happen?"
"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."
>Luna visibly winces when she hears the last sentence
"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?"
>She moves to your side and puts a hoof on your shoulder before saying anything else
>"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."
>You sigh and rub your eyes, half hoping that the action might clear up some of the fog or the redness
"Oh well, any ideas on how I can learn to ignore it faster?"
>Luna sits down in another chair nearby that you can still just barely see through the fog and starts thinking
>After a few seconds, she comes to an idea
>"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?"
>That sounds stupid
>That sounds so stupid that it just might work
>Like, on the levels of your idea to hide in the oven or the fridge back at Emerald's house
>Fuck it, it's worth a shot
>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
>You keep doing this for as long as you can, but it's not exactly the easiest of things to keep your focus on
>It's like staring at the sun, if that makes any sense at all
>Regardless, you instantly notice what seems to be an improvement in your perception of the environment and the apparent red tint of everything
>You can now see the entirety of the room you're in, for one
>It looks like an expanded version of your own room
>Luna seems to notice this as well, and looks around to see details that were previously obscured
>You also don't feel it nearly as much whenever pain comes
"Hey, it worked! Thanks for the idea, now I think I can actually do other stuff here!"
>"It's no problem, now I know a way to help others like you too!"
>Now all that's left for you to do is to test that you actually can use your dream powers
>You close your eyes and focus on summoning a table
>Nothing too complex, just a wooden table
>When you open your eyes, you see the table before you
>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
>Cool, everything works again!
"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?"
>You stand up and offer your hand to Luna, which she accepts and stands up too
>"That sounds wonderful!"
>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
>. . .
>You wake up to find that you had been sleeping face-down
>On the bright side, you didn't have your face directly into the pillow and instead had your chin resting on it
>also, the pain seems to have carried over from the dream in the form of a dull, throbbing ache
>At least this is more manageable than what you were dealing with in your dream
>Time to go find Twilight and see what she can do for you right now, then
>Wait, what time even is it?
>You weren't woken up by your alarm, even though you can see your phone next to you on your bedside table
>You quickly check to see that you woke up a few minutes early
>Cool, you've never done that back home!
>All things aside, you first wait for your alarm to go off before going to find Twilight
>After some searching, you find her in her room
>Not wanting to disturb her with whatever she's doing at her desk, you stand in the doorway and ask your question
"Hey, Twilight? Do you know where I could find any pain meds?"
>She looks up from her papers and towards you
>"Does it really hurt that bad?"
"Well, not right now. It was pretty distracting when I was sleeping, though."
>"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."
"Got it. Any other important announcements while I'm here?"
>"Not that I can think of."
"Alright, I'll see you after school then."
>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
>When you go down to the kitchen to get some food before you leave, you find some pizza left over
>Oh yeah, Spike said something about making pizza yesterday
>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
>After you finish off the pizza and steal a carrot for later snacking, you go off to grab your stuff
>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
>It is, that's good
>You slip your bag on and put your phone in there with everything else, and make your way to school
>When you step outside, you see a few flowers blooming
>You bend down and try to smell them, but you find that you can't
>All you can smell is just a slight bit of iron from the dried blood still in your nose
>At least your bandage is a clean one, making the iron smell much less overpowering
>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
>You make it to the school house not too long before the bell rings, and you find your usual seat to be unoccupied
>Good, you won't have to worry about those seated near you being fags or something
>Not that you'd be able to tell though, seeing as how everypony's staring at you
>What, can't a filly go missing for 3 days and come back with a broken nose without everyone getting in his business?
>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
>This puts you in a predicament
>Not seeing many other options, you decide to just shut down externally
>Filly.exe is no longer needed at this time, you'll reopen the program when something important is coming
>As such, you don't even notice Cheerilee starting class by welcoming you back
>She follows up by asking how you are, but since you don't reply, she eventually just moves on to the lesson
>About halfway through math is when you decide to finally pick your head back up, thinking that the worst of it was over
>It doesn't stay up for very long though, this particular lesson is particularly boring
>Graphs, mostly simple ones at that
>Oh well, you don't necessarily need to stay awake here
>You try to drift off to sleep, but you're not able to for reasons you don't know
>Maybe it's because you aren't tired?
>That's probably it, actually
>You instead decide to zone out and force your mind elsewhere
>How long will it be until your nose is fixed?
>Maybe it would fix itself if you underwent another transformation spell?
>Is that even how it works?
>Magic is not your strong point
>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?
>No, that's another bad idea
>Your perception of the world around you would be the only thing to change, it would still be 2-3 weeks to you
>Well, at least your brain is still working in some way
>It would be something to ask Twilight about, at the very least
>Maybe she could actually give you some answers about this, too
>Twilight is probably the best source of all this information you have, you might as well use it
>You can't do that now, but you can definitely do it when you get back
>Eventually, the bell for recess rings and you join the crowd of foals all going outside for some fresh air
>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
>This sadness is short lived as you remember that she has much more important things to be doing right now
>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
>Also, nopony's bothering you about your face
>That's nice, you never were an attention whore
>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
>You're not expecting to fall asleep, just trying to catch a mental breath
>You've had an interesting few days pass, maybe something boring will be a nice change of pace
>This relaxation is short-lived as you hear a particularly obnoxious set of three come near you
>You open one eye a bit to see that it is indeed the crusaders
>They're the worst crusaders you've ever met, they can't even retake Jerusalem OR Constantinople!
>You aren't able to stop yourself from groaning as they get closer and you begin to hear snippets of their conversation
>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?
>Apparently not, to your disappointment
>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
>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
"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."
>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
>Wow, you must have done something impressive to make them this nervous to talk to you
>Oh right, you made Diamond Tiara piss herself that one time
>That would do it
>The game ends with Scootaloo losing, and she's the one who goes over to talk to you
>She stops a few feet in front of you and looks like she's trying to figure out exactly what to say
>This is going to take the rest of recess if you don't give her some help
"Good morning, Scootaloo. Are you here to say something on behalf of your friends?"
>You also drop the look of slight annoyance, hoping that will help her out
[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]
"It's fine, I'm back and okay for the most part; I appreciate the concern, though."
>This seems to put her more at ease, and Scootaloo visibly brightens from her previous look of anxiety
[o]>"Okay. Do you mind if I ask what happened to your nose, then?"[/o]
"I did something that quite literally blew up in my face, funnily enough."
>It's at this point that the bell rings
>Scootaloo turns back towards her friends and you get off the bench
[o]>"Well, I guess we'll see you around!"[/o]
>After that final exchange, you both head back in with the crowd of others also trying to get inside
>The learning resumes and the next subject is science
>Not imagining today's lesson to be something interesting, you pull out your phone and start playing a game
>This holds your attention until the end of the lesson, upon which history starts
>It's stuff that you should be paying attention to, but you really can't stop your mind from wandering again
>"King Charlemane did..."
>How was there a Holy Roman Empire when Jesus never existed here?
>"In response, this..."
>Wow, any Earth ruler would've been shafted for doing something like that
>"As a result, a war..."
>Medieval wars aren't interesting, get on with the tanks and machine guns!
>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
>You also end up checking your bag to see if you have anything for lunch
>You've already forgotten if you brought food, and you don't want to skip lunch
>Your eating habits are fucked enough as it is ever since Twilight came to 'rescue' you from Chrysalis
>When you look inside the bag, you noticed that you did pack yourself something
>A whole, raw carrot
>Not the worst thing you've ever eaten, but you're still just a bit disappointed
>Could you have packed something a bit better?
>Hey, you haven't turned in those papers yet, either
>You need to do that at some point
>Probably at lunch or something
>Yeah, that's a good idea
>The lesson ends and the lunch bell rings, and you grab your papers to bring them up to Cheerilee
"Here's the stuff Twilight had me do."
>Cheerilee looks up from the other papers on her desk at you and the papers you're holding
>"Thank you, and I also have a question."
>"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."
"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."
>"I hope it's nothing too bad."
"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."
>"Alright, go eat your lunch and I'll have this graded by the end of the day."
>That's exactly what you do, too
>You head over to your bench with your carrot and eat it
>It's not too bad, either
>Note to self, a raw carrot is a suitable snack/meal
>Your lunch goes relatively uninterrupted, too
>It's the relaxing break you wanted
>Well, until the bell rings to go back inside
>Today's writing assignment is about what you want to do when you grow up
>You want to be an engineer, but that's not exactly an option here
>Option number 2 it is, then!
>What is option 2?
>Well, let's see if you can't pull this out of your ass too
>A few minutes of craptastic writing later, you hand in your assignment and get back to writing your experiences here
>It's been so long, where did you even leave off?
>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
>You thought you were behind before...
>Not wasting time, you start bulleting everything and get through events much faster while still keeping the general idea of what happened
>This tactic brings you up to meeting Emerald before the bell rings and others start piling out
>You pack up your own stuff, collect your graded assignments from Ms. Cheerilee and go home
>Your journey back to the castle isn't eventful
>Actually, you did see a dog
>That might not count as eventful, but it's the first dog you've seen since you got here
>How did ponies even domesticate dogs and cats?
>The only reason humans had them around was because they fed off of the discarded bits humans didn't eat
>What happened to bring them to ponykind's side?
>Another question to ask Twilight, then
>Just gonna throw that on the pile...
>How big is this pile, anyway?
>Are there any questions you meant to ask but forgot about?
>Possibly, but it's not like you can remember them to ask her
>Well, now that you're here, it may just be a good time to ask everything on your mind
>You open the door and announce your return
"Twilight, I'm back and I have a few questions to ask while I remember them!"
>However, the only thing you hear in response is Spike calling down from somewhere
[o]>"Twilight's still out, sorry! I might be able to help answer your questions, though!"[/o]
>Can he help?
>Well, he might be able to input about the question of 'how did dogs happen', but probably not for anything else
"It's mostly magic stuff and hard science, can you answer that?!"
>There's a pause before you get your answer
[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]
"Sure, just give me a second to put away my stuff!"
>You go up to your room to put away your stuff, stopping momentarily to say hi to your Aryanne and Hitler plushes
>You get no response from either of them, but you've never expected one before and you aren't going to start now
>After a little while longer, you find Spike right where he said he was and occupying a chair
"I'm here, now what?"
[o]>"Uh... I don't actually know. Was there anything left to say?"[/o]
"Not that I know of..."
>A silence descends upon the room, but you break it fairly quickly
"Wanna do something to help kill time?"
[o]>"Sure, any ideas?"[/o]
>At least none that you really think he'd be okay with
"As a matter of fact, no. How about you?"
>Spike ponders this for a little while before coming to the same conclusion
[o]>"I don't have any either."[/o]
>That didn't accomplish anything
>Well, all that's left is to just wait for Twilight then
>There's no reason that you can't do that here with Spike anyway, you just need to get something to entertain yourself
"Be right back, I'm gonna go get something."
>Spike nods and returns his attention to a nearby book as you exit the room
>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
>Now back in the library with Spike, you take a chair of your own and start looking through some old memes you had saved
>it's some pretty old stuff, but it's good
>Reminds you of home
>Reminds you of your home board, too
>All those nazis and horsefuckers, it's truly a magical place
>Of course, you don't let any of your emotions show for fear of drawing the babby dragon over to you
>You'll get home eventually, anyway
>Looking at old pictures gets uninteresting after a while, so you decide to move on to some games
>It's not your computer or an actual console, but your phone still has the capacity to kill time with vidya
>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
>Eventually, you get bored of the available vidya too
>You can't watch videos because there's no internet
>You can't do anything interesting in the lab because Twilight's not here
>You can't jack off because you don't have a dick
>You can read, though
>Nah, reading's for nerds
>You do come to another idea, though
"Hey Spike, do you know where I can find some paper?"
>He looks up from his book with a quizzical expression
[o]>"What's the paper for?"[/p]
>Well, you can probably tell him if you doctor the reasoning a bit
"I like writing down my life. It also helps me remember certain things when I need to."
[o]>"Don't they make diaries for that stuff?"[/o]
"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."
>Spike shrugs before getting up
[o]>"I'll show you where it is, follow me."[/o]
>You follow Spike down the stairs and through a few hallways until you both come to a door
>He opens the door to reveal a supply closet full of all sorts of stuff
>Paper, cleaning supplies, ink, and even some tools for general maintenance
>You pull down a stack of papers that are tied together and bring it back to the library with Spike
>When you both get there, you realize that you don't have a pencil
>At least you know where yours is
"Hold on to this for me, I'm gonna get my pencil."
>You go back to your room quickly to grab your pencil, finding it inside some corner of your school bag
>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
>That'll keep it safe
>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
>Spike looks up for long enough to give you a thumbs-up before going back to reading
>You, however, sit down at the table and start writing from where you left off
>Let's see, you had just met Emerald
>Okay, you know where you are!
>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
>You know that Twilight's back because she called up to you and Spike, too
>"Sorry I took so long, I'm back with some stuff!"
>Oh boy, stuff?
>You and Spike both head downstairs to greet Twilight and see exactly what stuff she has
>When you both get down to her, you see that she has a bag held in her magic
"Welcome home, how are ya?"
>"I'm alright. Spike, how are you? And Anon, how's your nose?"
[o]>"Pretty good, I picked up a new book to read from the library."[/o]
"I'm managing. What's in the bag?"
>"Some stuff that you asked me for."
>Twilight puts the bag down in front of you and lets you see what's inside
>A small bottle and something blue
>The bottle has some pills and a piece of paper in it
>"That's the pain medication. Take one before bed and with water every night, there are enough in there to last for two weeks."
>That just leaves the blue thing
>You pull it out of the bag to find that it's actually folded fabric
>After unfolding it, you see exactly what it is
>It's a new shirt!
>It also looks amazingly close to your old one, but there's a very crucial difference
>Instead of a basic polyester tag that says 'Made in China', there's a small white patch inside the collar that reads 'Carousel Boutique'
>You feel yourself grin, and Twilight definitely sees that
>"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."
"Tell her I said thanks, this is pretty cool!"
>You waste no more time and put the shirt on
>It's a bit roomy, but it also fits better than your previous shirt too
>Maybe because it was actually designed for a pony and not a person?
"Hey Spike, how do I look?"
[o]>"You look good, but then again, you're wearing something Rarity made. Of course that'll make you look good!"[/o]
>Even when his waifu isn't here, Spike still finds a way to be a kissass to her
>You roll your eyes at his answer before moving on to some other pressing matters
>The carrot you ate for lunch has been digested, leaving you hungry
"Hey, what's for dinner?"
>You ask to no one in particular
>Twilight answers your question, though
>"I was thinking about pasta, are you two fine with that?"
>You look at Spike who also looks at you, you both nod, and you both look back to Twilight and continue nodding
>"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."
>You go do exactly that and come back downstairs to find Twilight nearly done with the pasta and Spike setting the table
>You take a spot and wait patiently for the spagoot since it's still not done
>Your patience is rewarded in about a minute with fresh spagoot, and you take some along with Twilight and Spike
>You remember to eat like a civilized being too, no shoveling pasta into your face
>After you all are done, you head off to the library to collect your phone and the paper you grabbed
>You bring all the aforementioned items along with your pencil back to your room and put them away properly
>Phone goes on the charger, paper goes in your bag, green material goes in the drawer
>After you finish doing that, you head back down to the common area to find Purple and Spike
>It's a bit early to go to bed, after all
>That hasn't stopped you before, but you're also not tired
>Have you actually done the impossible and caught up on your sleep?
>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
>When you get down to it, you find both of them playing cards
"What's the game?"
>"Oh, I thought you went to bed!"
"I'm actually not immediately tired, for once. Pretty cool, right?"
[o]>"It's Go Fish, wanna join?"[/o]
"Sure, I might as well."
>You spend a while playing cards with Spike and Twilight until you actually start feeling tired
>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
>As soon as you're under the covers and through saying goodnight to your plushes, you remember something
>You never asked Twilight those questions
>. . .
>When you finish slipping into the realm of dreams, you find out something else you forgot
>The red fog and flashes of pain are back, and you only have yourself to blame
>You only have yourself to blame, too
>This doesn't make you feel very good
>You don't even see anything around you that would give you something to divert your anger on to
>Come to think of it, you can't see much of anything at all through the fog
>Well, Luna helped you develop a method to deal with this so you might as well use it
>After doing what you can to lessen the pain, you finally get some detail into the dreamscape
>It's a large, grassy plain
>There isn't much around that you can see, and even less to do
>It's pretty much just a large, grassy expanse with nothing cool or important
>From what you can see of the sky, it also looks pretty bland
>Let's see if we can't spice it up a bit?
>The fog's closing back in again, gotta take care of that
>Also, it would probably be a cool idea to make it go a bit farther away to see if you can see anything
>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
>After you release yourself from this concentration, you immediately notice some changes
>The fog's receded much farther than before and has revealed some more interesting things about the landscape around you
>There are a few hills, some ledges and even a structure off in the distance
>Something that's really changed though, is the sky
>You can see something pretty interesting happening there
>The ground actually curves upwards into the sky on all sides, with a star hanging lazily in the middle
>You're inside a dyson sphere!
>This is a LOT more interesting than a simple field!
>You're going to need to show this to Luna when she gets here!
>However, you want it to be a surprise
>That means you're going to need to bring the fog back
>But how do you do that?
>You have an idea, but you're apprehensive about it
>It's probably going to work if you're thinking about this and are nervous about it, so why not give it a shot?
>Well, because it's going to hurt like a bitch if you do it and it works
>You're not going to find out if you never try it, though, so here goes...
>You ball up a fist and wrap your other hand around it
>You bring your hands down and tilt your head back
>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
>You immediately flinch and start screaming, only to realize that you don't feel any more pain than before
>It didn't work
>That's good, for you
>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
>That in turn means that Luna isn't going to be surprised by the dyson sphere
>Is that really so bad compared to what you just tried to do to yourself, though?
>Then again, this is a dream
>Would it really be that bad if you did something in this non-permanent landscape to yourself that caused yourself fake pain?
>You're not sure, but it would probably be an interesting philosophical issue
>Well, at least for the few minutes that it would stay on this topic and not move to something else
>Wait, where's Luna?
>Doesn't she usually show up by now?
>You look around yourself and don't see much showing her appearance
>You even think to look up and see if she's there, hovering above you somewhere
>Well, there's one thing left to try
"Luna! You here yet!?"
>Your call into the dreamscape goes unanswered
>Might as well do something instead of standing around, then
>You look over to that structure you noticed and head over to it
>It's a large, half-submerged and angular building with designs that seem like nothing a person or pony would ever design
>Despite the fact that half of it's in the ground though, the building itself looks absolutely fine
>Even the paint or whatever's on it, is still a bright and shining white!
>When you make it to the structure, you find an open part to enter through and start looking at the interior
>It's pretty roomy and there's not much to be seen in here, but there are both ways up and down
>Let's go up!
>There's not much else on level 2 either, but there are a few windows showing a better view of the landscape
>There also isn't another way up
>Well, down it is
>You head back down to level 1 and take the stairs down to level -1
>There's some more interesting stuff here
>A few computer monitors and even a console to interact with
>Oddly enough, it's all in English
>Well, your mind interprets it as English
>It's probably just jibberish
>Well, at the very least, it seems that stuff is happening on these computers providing exposition for where you are
>This is some sort of world built around defense of something, and this structure you're in is actually part of a communications grid
>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
"Hello, is anyone out there?"
>You make one last visual sweep of the room to see if there was anything you missed
>As a matter of fact, there was!
>There's another staircase down that you can take
>Let's take it!
>Going down rewards you with even more interesting stuff
>There's a large variety of cables and a few assorted platforms sitting in a circle from one stationary console
>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
>What could this be for?
>You look at the console and read what it says, hoping for any sort of a hint
>Boy, do you get a hint!
>It's a transportation hub, each of those platforms opens up a portal to somewhere else on this thing!
>Where can you go, then?
>There's a dedicated transportation hub, a few defense stations, a command center, other comms stations and a research facility
>What's the facility do?
>You're about to find out as you open the portal to it and hop through
>When you make it through, you find that the research facility is much more expansive than the relatively small comms building
>It's also got a lot more to look at
>Countless displays, many different consoles, and even a few tubes with various samples
>Those samples aren't all in test tubes, either
>Some of those tubes are big enough to hold an adult human, and by your observation, some of them do!
>The tubes all containing people seem to all contain the same person, though
>You look through some of the displays pertaining to different tubes, and find something out
>They're all you
>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
>Even the smaller samples have to do with you
>A torn piece of your shirt
>A picture of you from the 4th grade
>Even your phone and your plush Aryanne
>What is all this for?
>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
>You continue snaking your way through the rows and columns of tubes, trying to find some hint as to what's going on here
>You don't find any answers, but you find something that gives you more questions
>As you move farther through, you find changes beginning to compound and lead to something interesting
>The various other yous are slowly but surely transitioning from human to pony
>Eventually, you make it down the entire spectrum and find a final tube holding a small green filly with a black mane and tail
>That's you now, isn't it?
>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
>Well, that was useless
>You make your way back to the platform where you started here to find something that only confuses you more
>There's an empty tube directly behind the platform
>You check the display near it to try to figure out what it held and why it's empty
>It reads something that compels you to check further into the panel
>Subject Zero: Anonymous Anonsen
>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
>Not some other version of you or some mutated form stuck halfway between human and pony, this is you
>You decide to check the display for anything else, and you find a bio that confirms your suspicions
>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
>You scroll even further down past the bio to find one last line
>Subject Status: Active, Released
>If that's the dream's canon as to how you got here, then who are you to question it?
>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
>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
>This is also the moment when you wake up
>Well, now that you're awake, you should probably get around to starting your day
>That dream still lingers in your mind, though
>Did it have any significance, or was it just your mind doing what it does best when left to its own devices?
>That may be something to ask Luna about when you get to see her next, but that won't happen until Sunday probably
>What day even is it, today?
>Let's see, you broke your nose on Wednesday and that was two days ago...
>Wow, time flies!
>That means Chrysalis should be showing up today
>That also means that you'll be able to see Luna in 2 days
>You go clean yourself off for school, again being careful about your nose
>You make sure to clean the rest of yourself off well, though
>Apparently you got pretty sweaty in your sleep
>Gotta wash that off properly, you don't want to stink for a whole day
>After cleaning yourself off, you dry off and head downstairs to find some food
>When you make it to the kitchen, you see Twilight and another pot of coffee
"Another late night?"
>"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."
>You stop in the middle of raiding a cabinet to respond to this
"What stuff was it?"
>You look towards Twilight again, who is now shuffling through a small packet of papers in front of her
>"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."
>Oh boy, now there's an excuse for ponies to invade your world
>Despite the fact that this shouldn't be a bad thing according to your conscious mind, you still have some issues with that
"Why would you need to sustain it indefinitely?"
>"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."
"No invading my universe, got it?"
>"Don't worry, I'm not sure that it would even be an option given what your species has managed to do."
>After this exchange finishes, Twilight returns to her coffee and you go back to grabbing food
>After you organize a lunch for yourself, you grab a bowl for some cereal
>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
>It's an uneventful bowl of cereal, though Twilight does take a minor interest in your use of a spoon and writes something down
>You don't care, you're the ayyliun after all
>Why couldn't you be a cooler alien, though?
>Eh, that's not something that matters
>About halfway through your breakfast, you remember something from Saturday, though
>Why Saturday you're not sure, but you remember it all the same
"Hey, did Celestia ever get back to you on the thing about the planet spinning on an axis?"
>Twilight at first looks confused, but then seems to remember what you're talking about
>"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."
>That actually sounds pretty plausible
>Well, now that you're on the subject, you might as well bring up your other questions
"I've got a few more questions that I'd like to ask while I remember them too, mind if I?
>Now, what were they?
"Would it be possible for my nose to heal instantly if you transformed me again?"
>"The short answer is no. The long answer is no, it'll probably send bone shards directly into your brain too."
"Alright, that's morbid. Would accelerating time be able to heal me faster?"
>"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."
"Fantastic. One last question, how did you ponies manage to tame dogs and cats?"
>"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."
>That's also fairly interesting
"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."
>"No problem, glad I could clear some things up for you. I'll see you after school."
>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
>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
>After that, everything pretty much just happens as normal
>Cheerilee starts teaching math and your mind goes somewhere else
>Mainly, back to your dream and what was up there
>You're not sure, but you think Luna might have an idea
>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
>You zone out again for the rest of math and go outside when the recess bell rings
>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
>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
>Another boring time of peace, more laws made and other things, Celestia doing something important about once every hundred years, etc.
>It's not interesting, but you need to learn it so Twilight doesn't jump down your throat
>After that's over, you head back out for lunch
>Oh boy, a sandwich!
>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
>You also found a bag of chips and put that in there
>Nothing like deep-fried potato slices to remind you of the junk food back home in 'Murica
>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
>All those pastel colors still haven't gotten old
>When the lunch bell rings, you head back inside for writing
>The assignment isn't hard and you're done in a few moments
>Back to writing your experiences!
>Let's see, you left off at staying the night with Emerald...
>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
>Good, you weren't really paying attention today anyway
>You've got more important things to focus on, like figuring out how to convince Celestia to accept an alliance with the changelings
>Also, you have to make sure that Twilight isn't too harsh to Chrissy if she's even here yet
>After you pack up everything, you head back to the castle as fast as your small green legs can carry you
>It takes you a few minutes and a serious amount of effort, but you manage to run the whole way back
>Without much ceremony, you open the door and announce your return
"I'm back from school, what's going on?!"
>The answer you seek comes in the form of Twilight teleporting down to you
>"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."
>Okay, you two are probably leaving for the station now
"Alright, just let me put my stuff away and we can go."
>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
>"All done, let's go."
>You turn back towards Twilight who's already moving to the door and follow her
"You're sure in a hurry, why is that?"
>Twilight continues walking as she turns to look at you
>"Remember how I said I still don't trust Chrysalis? Yeah, I still don't trust her."
>Twilight still has problems with this
>At least she's willing to trust you and your judgement about this
>Otherwise, things probably wouldn't be going near as smoothly
>Not that they're going smoothly, but still
>It could be worse
>It could be roasted peanuts, but instead it's chunky peanut butter
>Anyway, back to what's going on around you
>You and Twilight are still walking to the train station when something new crosses your mind
"If we're in a hurry, then why are we walking?"
>"We're walking because I wanted some fresh air, I hope you don't mind that."
"I don't, it just seemed a bit out of character for you."
>"Well, I don't really go outside much without a reason, so I try to find a reason whenever I can."
>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
>Mainly, what Chrysalis is going to look like
>She's definitely going to have a disguise, but how will you both be able to know who she is without her telling you?
>Actually, this is probably something Twilight would care about
>You should also probably ask her, just in case too
"Hey, Twilight? I have another question."
>"What is it?"
"How are we going to know who our 'guest' is?"
>Twilight doesn't respond for a few seconds; she's probably thinking again
>"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."
>Well, at least you two have a plan to try
>You two make it to the train station soon after, and neither of you have to wait long for the train to pull up
>"Time to see if it'll actually work."
>You nod in response to Twilight's statement, noticing that her horn begins to glow faintly
>guess this doesn't take too much energy to do
>As passengers begin exiting the train, you see Twilight scanning the crowd
>Her gaze never lands on one pony for too long, but eventually you pick a familiar face out of the crowd
>A face with a light-green mane, a gray coat and blue eyes
>So Emerald came with and brought her old disguise with her!
>She starts looking around the station and eventually finds Twilight, leading her directly to you
>Even from here you can see her brighten up, and she begins trotting towards you both
>Twilight doesn't notice at first, but she figures it out when you get up to meet Emerald
>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.'
>You keep that in the back of your mind as you continue to meet Emerald, meeting her at about the center of the room
[p]>"Hey Anonymous! I haven't seen you since you decided to stay back at the hive, How are you?"[/p]
"I'm fine, how about you?"
[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]
"Sure, I'll tell you."
>You're not going to tell her everything, though
>Does she really need to know that you're actually an alien yet?
"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."
[p]>"Either way, everypony's fine and that's what matters."[/p]
>You two walk back over to Twilight who's still looking around and sit down next to her
>Eventually, she stops looking and focuses on a pony
>She's pitch-black with a greenish-blue mane and green eyes
>No horn or wings, though
>You poke Emerald to grab her attention and point towards the mare in question
"Is that her?"
[p]>"Yeah, Mom didn't want to make herself impossible to recognize through her disguise."[/p]
>Emerald stands back up and waves Chrysalis over
>Chrysalis notices it and comes over, stopping in front of Twilight who is standing by this point
>A somewhat tense silence descends over the four of you, and you exchange a glance with Emerald
>"I suppose we should get going so I can get you two set up at the castle."
>Twilight says this in a dry tone, maintaining eye contact with Chrysalis the whole time
[o]>"Your castle? How generous of you."[/o]
>Chrysalis has the same dry tone and maintains the eye contact, almost like she's accepting a challenge
>Twilight starts walking out and Chrysalis stays close behind her, with you and Emerald at the back
>A bit of a rocky start so far, but nothing seems certain about this so far
>It could go fine, or it could go horribly
>It's all up to how you can handle this and how willing everyone else is to cooperate with you
>Let's hope that you're up to the task
>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
>When you all get back, Twilight leads you up to the common room
>As soon as Chrysalis is sure that nopony else will see her reveal herself, she drops her disguise
>When the green column fades, you see her sitting on the floor and holding her head, almost like she's in pain
>Emerald moves to her side and places a hoof on her back while you look on with concern
>Twilight just reacts with mild interest, however
"What's wrong? Are you okay?"
>Chrysalis takes a deep breath and gets back up, sighing before she responds
[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]
>Ouch, that's gotta suck!
>You see Twilight pull a clipboard and pencil out of magic from the corner of your eye, and that makes you mildly disappointed
>If she's not going to be a good host, then you will!
"Well, would either of you like something to drink while you're here?
[p]>"Me too, thanks."[/p]
"Alright, I'll be back in a second."
>Two glasses of water, simple enough
>Shouldn't be too much trouble
>You're a smart guy, after all
>You should be able to find a way to get them both there without spilling either
>Worse comes to worst, you can just make two trips too
>You'd prefer not to, though
>Two trips sounds like one too many
>Or is it?
>Fuck it, your stubborn pride says that one trip is your goal
>You're just about to the kitchen now, and you run into somebody who can help you!
"Hey Spike, I need your help with something."
>Spike looks up from what he was doing at you
[o]<"Sure, what do you need?"[/o]
"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."
[o]<"I guess I can help with that, but I see a small problem."[/o]
"What's the problem?"
[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]
>Well, at least Twilight had a plan for keeping Spike from freaking out
>The operative word being 'had'
>Does it really matter if Spike knows about Chrysalis if she's going to be staying here for the night, anyway?
"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."
>Let's hope he takes the bait
[o]<"I guess you aren't wrong... Okay, I'll help."[/o]
>You two go to the kitchen and grab a pair of glasses
>After filling them both up with tap water, you two head out to the common room with your cargo
>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
>Spike has no difficulty with his, though
>Either way, you two make it back to the common room fairly quickly
>Not thinking twice about what lies ahead, you enter
>Spike follows you, and this turns out to not be the greatest of ideas
>Twilight and Chrysalis are in the middle of discussing strategies to convince Celestia and Emerald's decided to drop her disguise too
>Spike doesn't exactly handle this too well, but at least he doesn't drop the glass
>In fact, he kind of freezes up
>You'll deal with this after getting your payload to who needs it
>You hand off your glass to Emerald and grab Spike's to give to Chrysalis
>As soon as you give it to her, you feel a tap on your shoulder
>It's Spike, and he's gesturing for you to follow him out of the room
>At this moment, you also realize that everypony here also sees him
"Excuse us for a moment, sorry."
>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
>Spike leads you out into another room out of earshot of the others before turning to face you
[o]<"Why are there changelings here?!"[/o]
"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."
[o]<"How do you know it's a good reason, though? Aren't changelings supposed to be good at manipulating ponies?"[/o]
"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."
[o]<"That just raises more questions!"[/o]
>Spike sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose before saying anything else
[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]
>He continues ranting like this as he walks back into the castle, leaving you alone in the room
>Well, that wasn't a reaction you expected
>Poor guy just couldn't take being out of the loop any more
>You should probably apologize to him when you get a good opportunity
>you may even be able to tell him the truth of what's going on if you can get Twilight's approval for it
>You've been gone for long enough too, you should probably go back and see what's going on
>You head back to the common room to find things in a similar state to how you left it
>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
>You sit down next to Emerald and start observing as well
>You never know when something important will come up that you should know
>Speaking of, you probably missed something
>You turn towards Emerald to see if you're right on that assumption
"What did I miss?"
[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]
"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."
[p]>"Oh, that's a shame; I was kinda hoping that we could play monopoly again."[/p]
>Okay, maybe Spike storming off was more of a blessing than you thought
"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."
>Emerald shrugs and looks back towards Twilight and Chrysalis before turning back to you
[p]>"I'm pretty bored, wanna go do something else?"[/p]
>On one hand, you agree that this is a boring conversation
>Hell, you haven't even been paying attention!
>On the other, this conversation is pretty important
>You may need to know as much as you can about this to help find a solution that might work
>But what if...
>Yeah, that might work!
>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
>Twilight seems to be taking notes with that clipboard she retrieved earlier, so maybe you can look over the notes afterwards?
>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!
>That seems like a good solution!
"Sure, I'm down for a change of scenery. Did you have anything in mind?"
[p]>"Wanna head down to the school and mess around on the playground?"[/p]
>That doesn't sound like a bad idea, but you two should probably be back before dark
"Sure, let's go."
>Both of you stand up and head to the front door and Emerald goes back into her disguise
>On the way, you both run into Spike
>Judging by the empty bowl and spoon, he's either going to get ice cream or putting his dirty ice cream dishes away
>Luckily, Emerald has her disguise back on at this point too
>Spike notices this, but he doesn't put two and two together
[o]<"Hey Emerald, when did you get here?"[/o]
>You're not saying anything
>You're just going to let this play out
>It's his fault if he gets dragged back into this shit
[p]>"A while ago, long enough to see what happened earlier."[/p]
>Emerald punctuates this with a small giggle
>Okay, if Spike can't put it together now then he doesn't deserve to get it told to him
[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]
>He doesn't deserve it
[p]>"Well, what if they're here for a good reason?"[/p]
[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]
>He gives you a quick glare as he says the last part, but soon returns to Emerald
>Emerald also looks a bit less cheerful after hearing this
[o]<"So, what's going on?"[/o]
[p]>"We were heading to the school."[/p]
[o]<"Alright, that sounds better than staying here. I'll come with you two after I clean these off!"[/o]
>Spike walks back off towards the kitchen and Emerald immediately starts back towards the front door
>You follow her out even as she picks up her pace when she gets outside
>Eventually, you two stop under a tree in town
[p]>"How about we go somewhere else? I'm not really feeling the school idea any more."[/p]
"Alright, where to?"
[p]>"I just wanna walk around now, you okay with that?"[/p]
"Sure, why not?"
>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
>You two walk around for a while, but eventually you get tired of not having a destination
>You continue holding up your half of the conversation while thinking of possible endpoints, but not many ideas come to mind
>You two could go check out the market and see if there's anything interesting there to look at
>You two could go to the square and enjoy the fresh air from a more stationary position
>Or, of course, you two could go to Sugarcube Corner and see if Pinkie's willing to give you two anything for free
>Probably not that last one; goods and services always require payment
>Maybe she'd be willing to get the payment from Twilight later...?
>Nah, you'd rather not start racking up debt in another universe
>The plastic jews of back home are bad enough to work around
>Everything requires credit to buy, you need a credit card to have credit, et cetera, et cetera...
>Why can't people just buy things with cash like they used to?
>Oh well, that's not a problem here and hopefully never will become one
>Well, you have your ideas in mind; time to see if Emerald's willing to go along with any of them
>You wait for an appropriate break in the conversation to share your thoughts, and it comes soon enough
"Hey, you wanna take this walk somewhere? I'm just asking because it's been bothering me that we don't have a destination."
[p]>"Sure, any preference? Or would you like me to choose?"[/p]
"I have three different ideas in mind that I can tell you. If you don't like any, then you can choose."
"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."
>Emerald pauses to think about what you've laid out
>Or is she thinking about a possible counter to your ideas?
>You're not sure
>You eventually get the answer as Emerald gives her reply
[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]
>A bit of both
"Sure, anywhere you want to start?"
[p]>"Hm... Is any spot closer than any other?"[/p]
>That's a good question, which spot is closer?
>You know how to get to Sugarcube Corner the fastest, but it's definitely not closer than the market or the town square
>The town square isn't as close as the market, but it's certainly easier to get to
>Guess that should be the first destination
"Town Square should be pretty good for a first stop, follow me."
>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
>First town square, then the market, and finally Sugarcube Corner
>That should work fairly well
>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
>Actually, scratch that
>There's nothing cool or interesting happening
>On top of that, there's no open benches to claim
>All these other ponies must have had the same idea
>Well, now that you two are here, you have to do something
>Do you want to look stupid, or something?
>I thought so
>Emerald notices your hesitation upon seeing the scene before you and questions you about it
[p]>"What's up? Not what you expected?"[/p]
"Honestly, yeah. I expected at least one open bench, but there aren't any and there's nothing else around here to do."
[p]>"Then I guess it's a good thing that you had two backups! Where to now?"[/p]
"The next closest place is the market, hopefully we can find something cool there."
>The path to the market area is a simple one to follow, but it's not the largest path
>It also doesn't help that the afternoon sun is casting some suspicious shadows across the area
>Oh well, it's not like Ponyville's particularly known for its crime rate
>The rest of the walk to the market is pretty uneventful other than the topic of conversation changing from theoretical physics to theology
>The market is much more interesting than the town square, though!
>Colorful tents with all manner of things being sold, none of which you have the budget for!
>At least you can look and keep track of things to pester Twilight about later
>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
>You don't see anything that you absolutely can't live without, but you do see Emerald looking at some of the shinier objects
>You don't blame her, shiny things are pretty eye-catching
>Something does happen to catch your interest at another tent
>There's a pony selling magnets
>Not fridge magnets, either
>Actual, powerful magnets
>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
>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
>Maybe you could build a functional hoof-held railgun that will do intended levels of damage to the target?
>You can't use natural magnets for that, but natural magnets can be used for other things
>You could use them to generate the electrical current necessary to charge the railgun, maybe?
>That would certainly be an interesting concept, a railgun charged by a kinetic generator located in a saddle bag
>If only you had the means, materials, and skills to make it happen
>A man can dream, though
>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
>After this is the final stop before going back to the castle, Sugarcube Corner
>Unfortunately, the previous conversation was completely lost as soon as you two entered the market, so a new topic is brought about
>Theology wasn't something you could discuss to your full potential, anyway
>Something tells you that Twilight wouldn't be too happy about you spreading the word of Jesus Christ across Equestria
>Anyway, the new conversation topic happens to be mathematics
>Oh boy, math
>You know quite a bit about this due to your studies back in college, but you can't exactly discuss it very well
>Luckily, Emerald catches you off guard with this topic by using it as an excuse to see what she missed in school
>That's easy enough to explain!
>She missed nothing, simple enough!
>After you give her an overview of what she missed (well, what you paid attention to), the topic turns to other happenings at school
>Again, nothing important
>Well, you do mention that Ms. Cheerilee was a bit concerned about her
>The topic takes another turn pretty soon after this, since there's not much left on this path
[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]
"It's no problem; I just broke it on Wednesday. It should be all better in a few weeks, though."
[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]
"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."
[p]>"That's good, I'm glad that this isn't a big problem for you."[/p]
>The conversation turns towards medicine and what you both know/don't know about it as Sugarcube Corner draws closer
>You two get there as the shadows start to lengthen even further
>It's getting pretty close to night, you two may have to hurry
>Time shouldn't be too much of a problem though, since Sugarcube Corner is pretty empty
>Because of this, it comes as a bit of a surprise to see Ponk almost immediately pop up behind the counter
[p]<"Heya, Nonny! What can I do for ya?"[/p]
>You two head over to the counter and sit on a pair of stools before you put your plan to the test
"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."
>There's no way this will work
>Nonetheless, you and Emerald both put on your best poker faces to see what'll happen
[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]
>Did that seriously just happen?
>Holy shit it worked
>A look of genuine surprise crosses your face as Pinkie walks back towards the kitchen
[p]<"I'll go get it, be back in a sec!"[/p]
>You look towards Emerald, who meets your gaze
>You shrug and both of you work to suppress some pleasantly surprised laughter as Pinkie comes back with a box in a bag
>After placing it on the counter, she pushes it over in your direction
[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]
>With this last note, Pinkie returns to what she was doing before you two came in
>Now that you have a better view behind the counter, you can see that she's actually cleaning the floor
>Also looks like she's trying to find every last piece of dirt to sweep away
>You turn back to Emerald who's looking at your newfound prize
[p]>"So, what should we do with this?"[/p]
"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."
[p]>"Yeah, that's reasonable; Let's take it back to the castle."[/p]
>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
>When you two get inside, you're confronted by a less-than-happy dragon
[o]<"What happened to the schoolyard? I was waiting there for half an hour!"[/o]
>You start to speak, but Emerald gets to it first
>probably because she doesn't have a bag full of cake in her mouth
[p]>"Sorry about that, we got a bit sidetracked."[/p]
>The unconcerned look on her face as she leaves the room says enough
>On the bright side, you're free to say what you wanted to now!
"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."
>At your mention of the bag, Spike immediately stops looking quite so buttfrustrated
[o]<"What's even in there?"[/o]
>You drop the bag on the floor and show him the contents
"A little present from Ponk for messing up my nose, play your cards right and I'll even let you have some."
>You punctuate that last statement with some raised eyebrows
"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?"
>Now that this whole exchange has pretty much fixed Spike's anger, he's more than willing to answer
[o]<"Twilight said she'd order a pizza, she's out getting it right now."[/o]
"Noice, what's gonna be on it?"
[o]<"She said it's just gonna be cheese since the 'guest' shot down every other idea."[/o]
>Huh, guess Chrissy isn't too fond of vegetables on pizza either
"Alright, I guess I should put this in the kitchen and go find Emerald again."
>That's exactly what you do
>You go to the kitchen to put the cake down and go off to find Emerald
>You find her talking to Chrysalis, asking what happened while you two were out
>From what you overhear, not much
>She and Twilight came to some sort of an agreement, though
>You'll have to ask when Purple gets back
>Emerald's also dropped her disguise again
>You step into the room and make your presence known with a pleasant hello
>Chrysalis turns towards you and returns the gesture as you walk over to join her and Emerald
"So, what did I miss?"
[o]>"Not much, Twilight was as pleasant as ever. Despite that, we still came to an agreement about the plan."[/o]
"Awesome, anything I need to know?"
[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]
"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."
>It's about at this point that Emerald starts losing interest in things again
[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]
"Well, that sucks. Wanna know what doesn't suck, though?"
"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."
[o]>"That's nice of her, I assume the pink one did it?"[/o]
"Yeah, actually. How'd you guess?"
[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]
"Pretty much, she's still pretty cool for giving me a free cake, though."
[o]>"Because of what happened to your nose?"[/o]
"Yeah, a broken nose kinda sucks so far; It's not the worst thing to ever happen, though."
>The conversation stops here since all three of you hear the door open
>Twilight's back with pizza
>"I'm back! Anon, show the guests to the kitchen, please!"
>Both Chrysalis and Emerald look at you expectantly
>They probably want you to lead them to the kitchen
"Alright, follow me."
>You lead Emerald and Chrysalis to the kitchen to find Twilight and Spike setting the table and a box of pizza sitting nearby
>When everything's set up and everypony's seated with their pizza, everyone starts eating
>You and Emerald manage to sustain another conversation while Twilight and Chrysalis stare each other down, and Spike ends up leaving at some point
>It's not really any degree of conversation that you two would normally have
>No absurd topics, nothing too deep or technical either
>Just a simple discussion about what's going to happen in Canterlot
>This discussion eventually leads you back to one thought: what do you need to do while you're there?
>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
>You draw her attention off of Chrysalis enough to get eye contact and a response
"What exactly do you need me to do while we're in Canterlot?"
>Twilight thinks for a moment as she takes another bite of pizza
>"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?"
>You're pretty much off the hook on this
"Alright, you have my word. We won't get into any trouble."
>However, in your mind, the sentence is finished much differently
>You both won't get into trouble unless it's funny or the receiving party deserves it
>You won't get into trouble unless the receiving party deserves it
>Fuck it, you just won't get in trouble
>You don't want to give the literal god across the table from you any reason to not trust you
>But, now that you have confirmation that you can just hang out with Emerald...
"Hey, Emerald, I have an idea of something we could do."
[p]>"Well spit it out!"[/p]
"Want me to introduce you to another friend while we're there?"
[p]>"Who's the friend?"[/p]
"You'll see, and I think you two might get along pretty well."
>Luna will be up for this, right?
>You're not sure, but if you're going to meet her in realspace then you'll probably have to bring Emerald with you
>You'll focus on further preparation on the train tomorrow, but for now, you're out of pizza
>You're the only one that's finished so far, so it's not time for cake yet
>It's not that bad, though
>It gives your pizza a chance to digest before you immediately dig in to the cake
>You continue your conversation with Emerald while you wait for the others to finish
>The conversation is back to the standard sort of thing, with the topic being low-level biochemistry
>Both Twilight and Chrysalis stop glaring at each other and start staring at you two while the conversation goes on, growing steadily more confused
>Truth be told, you know almost nothing about this subject and neither does Emerald
>However, the look on Twilight's face as she listens to your conversation says you both rolled 20s on your bluff checks
>When the conversation finally reaches a close, you finish with a statement that makes Twilight question her existence and Chrysalis start clapping
"Huh, I'm surprised I carried on a conversation about something I don't know at all."
>Emerald nods in agreement as Chrysalis stops
>Twilight remains stunned for a few more seconds before asking a question
>"Do... Do you two do that often?"
[p]>"Don't friends have conversations?"[/p]
>"Well, yes, but... not usually... like that."
>Twilight apparently is having a hard time figuring out what just happened
"Yeah, our conversations usually follow a similar pattern."
[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]
>This time it's your turn to nod in agreement
>Twilight sighs and gives up on trying to understand this before clearing the table
>Now would probably be a good time to tell her about the cake
>She's started washing the plates off when you say what you want to
"Hey Twilight, Pinkie made me a 'get well' cake that I brought back. Can we have it? Like, all of us?"
>Twilight's answer tells you that she's pretty much done with today
>"Sure, go for it."
>She doesn't even turn around to say it
>Twilight levitates over a few plates and the necessary utensils to the table
>"If you need me, I'll probably be asleep or packing."
>After that, she starts walking to the door
"You can have some too, you know."
>"I'm fine, thanks; I'm just tired."
>With that final comment, Twilight leaves the room
>Chrysalis is the first to break the silence after Twilight's departure, reminding you of what's left to do
[o]>"Do you know what flavor the cake is?"[/o]
>You're not sure, but you have ideas
"I don't entirely know, but my guess is chocolate or something like that."
>Sure enough, the cake is chocolate
>You cut up the cake appropriately and everypony takes a piece
>It's a good cake, Pink doesn't disappoint
>After about an hour and some more loose conversation, the rest of the cake is gone
>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
>Once they're settled, you head back to your own room to get some rest for tomorrow
>. . .
>Your dreams aren't as interesting as yesterday, but at least you can see the environment
>Yes, you remembered the pill!
>Clear skies and render distances as far as they are IRL from here on out!
>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
>You're going to try to do something that you haven't tried since you first met Luna
>You've come a long way in being able to manipulate your dreams, it's worth a shot
>Step 1: change the map from wherever this is to Tokyo, Japan
>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
>After you're convinced that you've done all you can, you open your eyes
>It worked partially
>It needs improvement
>It needs a LOT of improvement!
>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
>Yeah, you've gotten better, but you're trying to create a massive and heavily detailed environment
>It's going to be pretty friggin' hard
>Even Luna would probably have trouble with something like this!
>You're not one to back down from a challenge, though
>One day, the Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny WILL play out inside your head perfectly!
>But for now, a certain blue pony has shown up to admire your handywork
>Initially she seems creeped out by the 'people' you tried to put in the environment, but eventually she starts giggling at them
>"What did you try to do this time?"
"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."
>A slightly pained look crosses Luna's face at your mention of that dream
>"Don't remind me. This isn't going to turn out like that dream, is it?"
"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?"
>She relaxes again when she hears that you're sticking to that promise
>"Thank you, I don't want to see that ever again."
>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
>After you're satisfied with this, you open your eyes and inspect your surroundings
>Yep, the ads are a bit clearer and the city isn't as dull
>Now that the place is a bit cleaner, you decide to walk around and look at what you generated
>Of course, Luna follows you to explore as well
>Now would be a good time to ask her about Emerald, since your brain so kindly reminded you
"Hey, Luna, I have a question."
"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?"
>"What friend are you bringing?"
"Emerald, the only friend I have here besides you."
>"Hm, what's she like?"
>Huh, how would you describe Emerald?
>You're not entirely sure
"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."
>You two walk a bit farther in silence before Luna starts making confused expressions
>"Wait, why is Twilight letting you bring a friend on a trip to negotiate a treaty?"
>This is easier to answer!
"Long story short, Emerald is a changeling."
>Mild surprise replaces the confusion on her face as she lets that sink in
>"How did that happen?"
"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."
>"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?"
>What else needs to be watched for?
"I don't know, just watch out for a filly next to one that looks kinda like this."
>After you say this, you concentrate on yourself as hard as you can to try to change to your form in the outside world
>It works fairly well when you look yourself over, you even got the size more-or-less correct
"Yeah, about like this."
>Luna nods in understanding before you make yourself go back to human form
>After you're back to yourself, you two continue walking and exploring the city until you hit the border of the generated terrain
>The border isn't one that you can cross, so you two have to turn around
>This exploration continues until you wake up, both of you just enjoying the sights of this fake Tokyo
>. . .
>When you wake up, it's because a certain changeling is staring down at you and poking you in the side
"Alright, I'm up."
[p]>"We're leaving soon and Twilight told me to tell you to pack what you need in your suitcase before coming downstairs."[/p]
>Leaving soon for Canterlot
"Okay, just gimme a second to remember where the suitcase even is."
[p]>"Isn't that it in the corner there?"[/p]
>Emerald points to the left corner of your room, and sure enough, your suitcase is there
"Alright then, I'll be down in a minute. Tell Twilight that I'm pretty hungry, too."
>Right on cue, your stomach growls
[p]>"Got it. See ya in a bit!"[/p]
>Emerald heads back out the door to your room as you drag your suitcase over to the bed
>You open it up and pack Aryanne, Hitler, your shirt, your phone, and the charger for it
>That should be everything, right?
>Yeah, what else would you need?
>Twilight probably packed the necessary other supplies, so you're fine
>Making sure that you have everything you want beforehand, you close the suitcase and head downstairs
>When you get down to the front door, you see Twilight giving another list to Spike
>Always more for him to do, isn't there?
>You also see Emerald and Chrysalis both back in their disguises
>After Twilight finishes detailing the important bits of the list to Spike, she teleports her own suitcase over and opens the door
>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
>Not wanting to be greedy, you end up making the money go a bit farther than just yourself and get something for Emerald too
>She gladly accepts it and the two of you spend the rest of the time before the train arrives eating your food
>Twilight and Chrysalis chose to resume their less-than-friendly staring contest since they didn't have any food
>Eventually, the train arrives and everypony gets on board for the trip to Canterlot
>The first part of the train ride is uneventful, mainly just the same interactions happening as before
>You and Emerald being friendly and having fun together
>Twilight and Chrysalis pretty much daring the other to try anything
>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
>This is getting a bit excessive
>This got a bit excessive a long time ago, this is beyond excessive
>However, you get an opportunity to break up the tension when Twilight blinks
"Alright, Chrysalis wins. You two can stop staring at each other now."
>This statement gets Twilight to smirk and Chrysalis to sigh in an amused way
>Twilight glances at you for a moment before turning back to Chrysalis, still wearing a pleasant expression
>"Well, I guess Anon's the self-appointed judge for our staring contests now. Best two out of three?"
>Chrysalis glances at you as well before facing Twilight again
>After this moment, the train ride got a lot less tense
>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
>Twilight and Chrysalis also stopped being so hostile towards each other, even going so far as to strike up a civil conversation themselves
>This gives you a bit more hope for your idea being able to work, too
>It may just be the Princess of Friendship™ doing what her job title implies, but it's something
>Who knows, this could be the start of something beautiful!
>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
>The rest of the train ride is uneventful and you four make it to Canterlot sooner than expected
>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
>Eventully, night falls and you all go out to eat
>It's nothing special, just some quick food before going back to the room
>On the way back to the room, you manage to snag a notepad off a table in a hallway
>There's nothing written on it, you're fine
>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!
>You're going to have to tone down the human bits in case Emerald wants to look over your shoulder, though
>Everything else goes as expected for the night, with all of you going to sleep at a reasonable time
>. . .
>Everypony has gone to sleep by now, you've been laying here and waiting for about an hour
>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
>You've got to make sure for yourself that Chrysalis is worth trusting here
>You've had the means to do this for a while, ever since you figured out that you could use that one spell
>You just haven't had the opportunity
>Assuming what you know about changelings is correct, they are never showing of their true intentions unless it will get them what they want
>That is, they never show it while they're [i]conscious[/i]
>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
>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
>After determining where Chrysalis's head is, you charge the spell as discreetly as possible before you begin the delicate process of casting it
>From the magic signature the spell had when Celestia first used it, it was certainly an advanced spell
>However, you've advanced enough in your studies and are confident enough in your abilities to do it a second time
>You've already done it properly, it should only get easier from here!
>You finally feel the spell take hold inside the changeling queen's mind as you begin to see images come forth
>This didn't happen with Anon, could this be because she's dreaming or did you mess it up?
>Either way, you'll have to take what you can get
>This is still the best time to get the information you need, so you'd better pay attention!
>The longer you spend focusing on these images, the more something becomes apparent
>They're not just thoughts, they're memories!
>As an image from the Canterlot incident flashes past, you end up getting hit by a wave of confidence and pride
>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
>A few more images flicker past of relative unimportance until you get to another sequence that you can't help but pay attention to
>Depression swallows you in an instant as the image of Chrysalis trying to build a new hive by herself appears before you
>This must be just after the other changelings were reformed!
>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
>Eventually, the feeling changes to one of resolve as the hive grows in size and population number, yet the depression remains
>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
>The only notable one in that line was the one that showed you what happened to Starlight
>You were only really playing nice with her so she wouldn't get suspicious anyway, you're pretty indifferent about her death
>Anyway, where are we?
>Right, Anonymous's arrival
>As the scene plays out before you, you end up getting accompanying feelings that confirm Anon's judgement
>Desperation, despair, and even nervousness assault you from every side before a final climax when you hear Chrysalis say 'I need your help.'
>That's what you needed
>You found your reason for helping Chrysalis
>You found the reason why the map sent you to the badlands
>That's it, whatever you felt about Chrysalis before this is no longer relevant
>You have quite literally walked a mile in her hoofsteps, and it was quite a trip
>Unable to handle any more of this, you rip yourself out of Chrysalis's mind and stop the spell
>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
>Wow, you were out for a long time
>You also can't feel your legs
>To be fair, you [i]have[/i] just stood perfectly still for about 6 hours
>You should probably do something to clear your head a bit and let all that new information settle in your own mind
>First, you should probably try to clean yourself up a bit
>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
>You're not sure how Chrysalis would react to you probing her like that, much less doing so without her knowledge
>That judgement doesn't even take into account the fact that she was also asleep at the time
>A slight feeling of fatigue comes creeping up on you as you take a shower as well
>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
>It's too late for you to fall asleep, but you can still do what you've always done after any other all-nighter
>Fill yourself with enough caffeine to kill a small elephant!
>Well, you DID just take a shower...
>You might as well go out and get everypony some food, they'll undoubtedly wake up hungry
>Plus, it's Canterlot
>There are always a few places open at this time, you've got some options to choose from while you walk around
>After you leave the hotel, you decide to wander towards a coffee shop you liked while you lived here
>They have what you want and, unless something changed, they're definitely open right now
>After a while of walking at a steady pace, you reach your destination
>Sure enough, it's open
>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
[p]>"Good morning, how can I help you?"[/p]
"Good morning. I'd like a large cup full of espresso shots, please."
>She writes down what you asked for as you reply
[p]>"Well, I hope today isn't as long for you. Anything else?"[/p]
>You look to the side of the counter into a case where you see a few pastries of different types
>You pick four and the mare rings up your total before trading the pastries for your payment
>After you get your change, she then goes back to the equipment and gets started on making your drink
>A couple of minutes later, you get your drink and head back
>The drink doesn't even last for the entire trip, and neither does your pastry
>That spell's result took more out of you than you realized, you're still hungry and just a bit tired
>That's a problem that's still solvable, though
>You stop at another place on the way back and use some more of your funds to get another round of food and coffee
>Finally, you're starting to feel a bit more like yourself
>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
>This could be a pretty interesting tool to help solve friendship problems
>You find the pony with the problem, see what's going on from their perspective and find a way to fix it
>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
>This will definitely require some more testing and refining before you can make sure it'll work, though
>Eventually, you get back to the room and find everypony else starting to wake up
>Looks like the day has officially begun
>You woke up a few minutes ago to find Twilight not in the room
>Chrysalis and Emerald were also starting to wake up from what you could hear
>But what happened to Twilight?
>She went to sleep with you, so why would she be gone right now?
>Maybe she woke up early and went out for some reason?
>Hopefully that's the case, she's the only one with an actual idea of what's going to happen today
>If she's not here, then you're not going to get anything done
>At least your worries are short-lived, seeing as how Twilight comes back inside the room
>Also, do you see something with her?
>Is that food?
>Okay, this is forgivable
>You get out from under the covers to see that Chrysalis and Emerald have also noticed Twilight's return
>Twilight herself also notices the fact that all of you are now awake and decides to explain herself
>"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."
>You don't mind, at least
"I don't mind as long as you've still got everything covered for today."
>"Don't worry, this isn't the first time I've done something this important on almost no sleep."
>Okay, at least Twilight seems confident that she can handle it
>Now feeling a bit less worried, you claim one of the paper bags she's holding and sit back down on the bed
>Emerald is the next to claim one, and she does so fairly quietly
>Judging by the look on her face, she must not be a morning pony
>Huh, and she always seemed so cheerful in the hive...
>Emerald doesn't forget her manners though, and unlike you, says thanks
>You forgot that...
>Too late now, you'll just apologize later
>Finally, Chrysalis takes a bag
>As she stands up, you notice that she doesn't look her best
>Almost like she's having one hell of a headache
>Twilight notices too, judging from the slight worry on her face
>"Are you alright?"
[o]>"Yeah, just a headache."[/o]
>"It looks like you're not feeling too good, are you sure?"
[o]>"Completely, I just need some water and I'll be fine."[/o]
>Chrysalis grabs the last bag and a glass off a nearby table before heading to the bathroom sink to fill it
>After a few seconds, she comes out looking a bit better
>Wait, that was the last bag
>What does Twilight get, then?
"Uh, Twilight? Did you mean to only get three?"
>"I got four, I was just hungry on the walk back."
>You shrug in response before returning your attention to the half-eaten pastry in front of you
>After you finish it, you take a mental stock of what needs to happen before you all leave the room
>Odds are, Twilight's already ready to go if she decided to run out and get you all food
>You're not sure what Chrysalis or Emerald needs to do before they're ready
>You know that you need to take a shower at the very least
>Depending on the weather, you may also need to wear your shirt
>You should probably ask Twilight about that
"Hey Twilight, what was the temperature like outside?"
>"A bit cold, but it was still pretty dark out. You should be fine without your shirt."
>Okay, that's one less thing to worry about
>Now you just have to get ready
>You collect your trash and hop off the bed, taking the trash to a bin before doing anything else
"I don't know about the rest of you, but I want a shower. Anypony mind if I go first?"
>Chrysalis shrugs and Twilight completely ignores you seeing as how she's ready, but Emerald answers you
[p]>"Sure, go ahead. I'm going in when you're done, though."[/p]
>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
>Once you're done, you go back out into the room and Emerald goes in to take your place
>Two down, two to go
>It takes a while, but everyone is ready on time to go to the castle
>Chrysalis and Emerald go back under their disguises before you all leave, and you put on your shirt
>Just because you don't need it doesn't mean you can't wear it anyway
>Twilight and Chrissy lead the way on the walk while you and Emerald trail behind, having a conversation
>This conversation isn't anything too crazy, just about what Emerald should expect from the castle
[p]>"Alright, what happens when we get there?"[/p]
"Well, I'm guessing that Twilight and your mom are going to see Princess Celestia and we'll be free to do whatever."
[p]>"Cool, is there anything I should be worried about?"[/p]
>How long ago was it when you asked Twilight the same question?
>Not that long ago, but it feels like it's been ages
"Not much. There are a lot of guards, but you should be fine as long as you don't drop the disguise near them."
[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]
"Well, then it should be easy to figure out who my friend is. Twilight and Chrysalis are seeing Celestia, so who does that leave?"
>Emerald looks down and thinks for a second before growing a shocked look
[p]>"You don't mean- do you?"[/p]
"I [i]do[/i] mean."
"Yeah, and you get to meet her too."
>After that, the conversation changes to another topic as you four continue on to the castle
>The trip to the castle doesn't take too long, though
>After another few more minutes, you all are standing at the gates
>Twilight walks up to the guards and tells them that she's here with you on official business, they let you all pass
>Twilight then leads the rest of you through the castle until you all arrive in front of the doors to Celestia's throne room
>When you all get there, she turns around and starts explaining some stuff
>"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."
>Fair enough, you expected this
>Twilight's not done yet, though
>She turns to Chrysalis after she's done and explains some more stuff
>"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."
[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]
>Okay, Chrysalis is being cooperative too
>This seems like it's going fairly well so far, you just have to trust Twilight
>After this, Twilight opens the door to the throne room and she and Chrysalis go inside
>Looks like it's just down to you and Emerald now
[p]>"Alright, so now what?"[/p]
>Silly Emerald, isn't it obvious?
"Now? Now, we go find Luna."
>Doing that is easier said than done, as you find out
>This castle is huge
>It's huge to the point that it makes Twilight's castle look like a small apartment!
>This castle may be big, but it's certainly not infinite
>At least you have a finite space to check
>Besides, if the worst-case scenario happens then you can probably ask a guard
>That may not lead to the best result, but at least it will yield [i]a[/i] result
>Also, since Luna should know you two are here, you could probably just ask a guard to tell her where you two are
>You start wandering off into the castle with Emerald following close behind on the way to find your friend
>It takes you two a while, but progress was made
>You're not sure how much progress, but hopefully positive progress
>You two made it to the break room!
>This time it's not empty, though
>There are a couple of guards doing various things when you open the door, all of them stop when they hear it open
>All the guards seem to be just as stunned as you, at the very least
>A light-gray pegasus stallion is the one who decides to confront you two first, telling the other two that he'll handle it
>He walks over to the door and opens it completely, revealing Emerald standing behind you
[o]>"Are you two lost?"[/o]
>Well, you got yourself into this
>You might as well get you both out of it
>Plus, Emerald seems too intimidated to answer
"Yeah, I don't suppose you could help us out?"
[o]>"Well, what are you looking for?"[/o]
"Something tells me that you won't help us get to her, but we're looking for Princess Luna."
[o]>"You two better have a good reason to see her, I'm sure she's very busy."[/o]
"Just go tell her that Anonymous is waiting in the breakroom for her, we'll stay here."
>The guard perks up a bit after hearing your name
[o]>"Wait- [i]you're[/i] the one who maxed out the Pac-Mare machine three times?"[/o]
>So your reputation precedes you!
"As a matter of fact, I am. Now do you believe me?"
[o]>"I'm still a bit skeptical, but I'll run it by her."[/s]
>The stallion steps past you two and goes out into the hallway while you and Emerald go into the room to wait
>Well, now what?
>You take a seat on the couch and Emerald follows you over, sitting down next to you
>There's not much to do but wait, sadly
>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
>It doesn't feel good, but you decide to just sit and watch the room in the meantime
>You can't think of anything to talk about, either
>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
>This may take a while
>Today is something interesting, to be sure
>First, you ended up getting three meetings scheduled for today
>On top of that, they're all within 3 minutes of each other and across the city
>At least you can teleport, but that still doesn't give you much room for possible unexpected events
>And speaking of unexpected events...
>You hear Twilight talking to a few ponies outside
>One of them you recognize as Anonymous, but the other two?
>You don't have the faintest idea
>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
>Oh boy, what's it about this time?
>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
>Maybe some eldritch horror has appeared from its some-arbitrary-number-over-1000 year slumber, and she actually needs your help to beat it!
>Nah, if she hasn't needed you in this many years, then she probably won't now
>Odds are, it's more political bullsh-
>Did Anonymous manage to convince her to help him with his idea?
>This isn't what you had hoped for...
>That would also explain why the mare accompanying Twilight looks eerily like Chrysalis, too
>Well, let's just see how this goes
>After the door's closed and secured, Twilight starts talking
[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]
>Well, let's get this over with
"I'm listening, but before you start, would you mind confirming the identity of your guest for me?"
>Twilight looks like she's about to say something, but something else drags your attention away from her as it also confirms your suspicions
>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
>The queen of the changelings is in your throne room
>Note to self: step up the guards' training and make sure they aren't slacking off as much
>After the green column fades, you notice that Chrysalis appears to be mid-collapse
>However, she manages to catch herself before falling to the floor
>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
>You rise from your seated position and glare at Twilight with every ounce of 'the fuck, dude?' you can muster
"Twilight, do you mind telling me exactly why you brought [i]her[/i] here?"
>Twilight stands up even straighter than she was before and explains her reasoning in a calm but firm voice
>"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."
>While she has a good reason, there are still numerous things wrong with the application of this idea
"And you expected her to come completely peacefully, and without any sort of plan to do anything suspicious while she's here?"
>Twilight has a response for this, too
>"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."
"And no other changelings came with her? Are you positive that you weren't followed?"
>It's at this point that Chrysalis tries to defend herself against your claims
[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]
>You turn back towards Chrysalis, still not believing anything she says
"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."
>After you say this, you turn back to Twilight who happens to have a better answer
>"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."
>Okay, that's some valuable detail if it can be confirmed
>If only there was another changeling around here that was willing to help, but you doubt that
>Since Twilight's dealt with most of your concerns for the time being, now the... 'negotiations'... can begin
>Wait, Twilight mentioned Anonymous being here
>This was all his idea, shouldn't he be here to see it happen and make sure it goes over properly?
>You decide to bring this up as Twilight starts pulling out paperwork and sorting through it
"Twilight, you mentioned Anonymous being here. Shouldn't he see this through? After all, it was his idea."
>Twilight immediately freezes at hearing this before putting the papers back and giving you a slightly nervous smile
>"Of course, let me go get him."
>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
>Your gaze immediately shifts to Chrysalis as your eyes narrow
>She returns your glare with lidded eyes and raised Eyebrows, but doesn't do anything else
>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
>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
>That's not your concern though, now
>You need to find Anon because Celestia asked for him to be there
>Let's hope you can find him quickly, you'd prefer to not keep Celestia waiting
>As you finish teleporting, you find yourself in a hallway
>If this worked properly, you should be fairly close to Anon already
>However, a random teleportation doesn't usually have a high rate of success if you're trying to find something- or somepony- specific
>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
>Well, time to start searching rooms
>The first room you check is empty
>So's the second
>The third doesn't have Anon in it, but it does have a few guards standing... well, guard
>If Anon's going to be anywhere, he probably isn't going to be near the Arcane Library
>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
>Yeah, he's not in there
>Time to look elsewhere?
>You step back out into the hall to continue searching for Anonymous when you get stopped by another guard behind you
>He's a light-gray pegasus and looks like he has something to say to you
>"Excuse me, Princess Twilight? Do you happen to be looking for Anonymous?"
>An unexpected turn of events, but not an unwelcome one!
"Actually, I am. Do you know where she is?"
>"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."
"Alright, thank you; I'll go get her now."
>Before the pegasus can get another word out, you teleport off to the break room
>You can't leave Celestia waiting for too long, after all
>Not wasting any more time, you find yourself in the break room directly in front of Anon and Emerald
"Anon, Celestia wants to see you in the throne room now. Come over here and-"
>He interrupts you before you can continue your sentence and speaks his mind about what you're saying
[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]
>Everypony in the room is now staring at the two of you
>This isn't comfortable or time-efficient, you need to speed this up if you can
>You haven't disappointed Celestia yet, and you don't want to start now by not even getting Anon to his own negotiations!
"You know exactly why and I'm sure Luna won't mind if you aren't here when she gets here."
>Anon sighs and gets up off the couch after you finish, but not before giving a reply
[o]>"Okay, but you're bringing me back here after I'm done there."[/o]
>As Anon walks over to you, he faces back towards Emerald and makes a final statement
[o]>"When Luna gets here, please tell her that Celestia needed me and to wait here with you."[/o]
>Emerald nods as you begin the teleportation spell, bringing you back to Celestia and Chrysalis
>Let's hope things are still alright there
>Apparently Twilight did need you in the throne room
>This was unexpected
>It looks like you getting to meet Luna IRL is going to have to wait for a bit
>Twilight teleports you both to the throne room as soon as you're next to her in a flash of purple
>When it clears from your vision, you see Chrysalis out from under her disguise and Celestia casting her a sideways glance
>That changes when they both realize that Twilight's back with you
>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
"I'm here now, what do you need?"
>Celestia answers you in a much more formal tone than the one you just used
[p]>"I requested your presence because I thought you should preside over the negotiations."[/p]
>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
>Was Celestia this formal with you before?
>Nah, she was too interested in seeing exactly what you were
>What you are, you're still a human regardless of your external appearance!
>Anyway, back to more important matters
>You come to a statement that you think will allow things to continue without you needing to be mentally present
"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?"
>Twilight and Chrysalis respond first, both of them agreeing to your terms
>Celestia doesn't take long to respond either, though
"Good. Begin the negotiations!"
>Despite your efforts to zone out and do other mental things, you remain at least partially in the room with the other three
>It seems that your ploy worked, nonetheless
>Everything being discussed seems of fair conditions for a mutual treaty
>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
>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
>You're not sure how Twilight and Chrysalis managed to convince Celestia of that last one, but they did it
>It must've been some sort of mind game or something
>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
>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
>According to some mental calculations and estimates from Twilight, that amount would come out to just under 20 million bits' worth
>After everything's agreed on and Twilight finishes collecting signatures from everypony present, you snap back to reality completely
>Following this event, you immediately turn your attention to Twilight to ask the all-important question
"Hey Twilight, now that everything important is done, can you teleport me back to the break room?"
>She turns towards you and replies with the answer you were waiting for
>"Yes, just give me a second to put these papers away."
>True to her word, Twilight puts the papers back in her bag and charges up another teleportation spell
>A purple flash overtakes your vision as you transport back to the guards' break room, hoping that Luna's still there with Emerald
>Once it's all cleared up and you can see your surroundings, you quickly sweep the room
>Nopony's over near the cabinets
>The fridge is closed, too
>Even the Pac-Mare machine's deserted!
>Where is everypony?
>Feeling more than mildly annoyed and at least slightly defeated, you flop down onto the couch as best you can
>When your back hits the seat of the couch though, you feel something that doesn't feel like fabric
>More like paper, actually
>Well, it's uncomfortable and distracting to lay on top of, so let's see what it is
>You fish the piece of paper out from under yourself and decide to look at it
>Well, this is handy!
>Luna may have taken Emerald and left, but at least she left you something to help you find her!
>"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."
>Under Luna's second sentence you see a series of written directions
>These are simple enough, you should be able to follow these
>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
>Into the hall, take a left, up these stairs, down these other stairs, find that intersection and take the third right, etc...
>You make it through all the directions in a matter of minutes, eventually coming to the final stretch
>"... Finally, you should come across a large spiral staircase. Climb it."
>You look up from the letter to see a step
>You continue looking up, trying to track just how far up you'll be going
>You can't see the top
>At least not well
>Well, nopony ever said that navigating a castle would be easy...
>With a sigh, you begin climbing the staircase
>Luckily for you, it turns out that the staircase wasn't as tall as you thought
>5 or 6 stories maybe, so definitely not short either
>When you get to the top, you encounter a door
>It's a closed door with a picture of a crescent moon on it
>Yep, this is Luna's room
>You also hear some conversation happening inside, but it's muffled through it
>Might as well knock, you don't want to be rude
>Knocking to the tune of nothing in particular, you immediately hear a set of hooves start walking towards the door
>A few seconds later, Luna opens the door and looks down at you
"The very same, how are you?"
>"I'm quite alright, how about you?"
>As Luna says this, she moves aside to let you in
>When you're inside the room, you see Emerald sitting in a chair in the corner
>She waves at you and you wave back as you reply
"I'm not too bad wither. You two getting along well?"
>"Yes, we are."
>Luna lays down on her bed and Emerald scoots over enough for you to join her on the chair comfortably
>After everypony's in their spots, things continue about as you expected
>You three end up having a fun conversation and everything goes smoothly
>After a while, you all hear another knock at the door
>Luna goes to answer it, and when she opens the door, you all see Twilight and Chrysalis back under her own disguise
>Looks like it's time to go home
>You begrudgingly follow Twilight out after saying goodbye to Luna, your slight disappointment apparent to them both
>It may have been fun, but that conversation left much to be desired
>You never even got to any of the expected topics in the, what, like... half-hour you were up there?
>Wow, that was short too!
>Well, at least you got to see your two friends in this world interact together a bit
>Speaking of your friends, Emerald's asking what Twilight dragged you away for
[p]>"So, why did Twilight need you in the throne room with her and Mom?"[/p]
>How to explain this in a good way...
>That wouldn't work
>That would give away the fact that you're an alien
>That... That may actually work
>Let's hope it does!
"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."
>Emerald turns back to forward, her disguise's blue eyes pointed downwards in thought
>She eventually turns back towards you with a slightly confused look and replies in a way that makes you slightly nervous
[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]
>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
>Wait, Emerald's talking again
>You should probably listen
[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]
>Getting your cutie mark for doing human things?
>That sounds kinda stupid, but eh
>It could be worse
>Huh, that brought up an interesting idea in your head
"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?"
[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]
>This conversation continues down through the castle as you all head back to the hotel, the day's major doings being done and past
>You four stop to get dinner on the way back, but it's nothing special
>After another uneventful meal, you're all back at the hotel
>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
>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
"So, what did I miss while I was stuck doing political things?"
[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]
>Or is it red-hooved?
>Does it even matter?
>No, no it doesn't
"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."
[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]
>You can answer these questions, but something tells you that you aren't getting out of this with any secrets intact
>Well, let's just see how well Emerald can handle what you have to say
>That is, if you even have to say it
>Maybe she forgot about the conversation you two had walking out of the castle by now...
"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."
>Emerald's face initially shows a look of understanding, but it soon ebbs away to reveal another look of confusion
>Oh boy, something tells you that this conversation is only just getting started
[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]
>Let's see, how can you explain this without possibly redirecting the conversation towards her earlier inquiry?
>Yeah, that might work
"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."
[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]
>This is going too far!
>You've already revealed your true identity to four beings in this world, and you were completely naked for two of them
>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
>Let's hope Emerald's perception check fails
"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."
>That first stutter may have given you away, but you managed to suppress the rest
>Nope, Emerald's not buying that at all
>In fact, she seems to be mildly concerned about your well-being from the growing look on her face
[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]
>Yeah, she caught you in a lie
>That only makes you go even redder though, and Emerald definitely notices that
>Her concern only grows as she starts glancing at Twilight, probably debating whether or not to tell her about your current status
>Should you tell her?
>If Twilight found out, you'd get your ass kicked
>If Emerald accidentally exposed you somehow, then it'd put both of you at risk from nasty third parties
>But if you tell her now, then you won't have to worry about what'll happen later
>Also, she [i]has[/i] already told you about her biggest secret (at least when you didn't know changelings were spying on you)
>However, her secret would've only gotten her killed; not locked up and experimented on until she died, or something
>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
>Particularly, a conversation with Spinneret back when you first got there
>You seem to recall her saying that Emerald wasn't very good at handling sensitive information
>Okay brain, you did something good for once!
>Yeah, it probably wouldn't be the best idea to tell Emerald until she's ready for this level of secret
>You return to the world around you, now sound in your decision, as you feel the blood content of your face return to normal
>Looks like you came back just in time to stop Emerald from getting Twilight, too!
>As she gets up, you plant a hoof on her shoulder to bring her attention back to you
>This works as intended and Emerald returns to a seated position in front of you
"I'm fine, you don't need to get Twilight."
>Emerald looks relieved for a moment before getting back her confused look
>However, you find that it's for a different reason
[p]>"Is it really that big of a secret that you can't tell me?"[/p]
>How to say this easily...
>Fuck it, you'll wing it
"Well... Back in the hive, Spinneret told me that you weren't the best with secrets."
>Emerald scrunches up her face, now looking mildly annoyed
[p]>"I'm not bad with secrets and I can prove it!"[/p]
"Alright, prove it."
[p]>"I kept the fact that I was a changeling secret, didn't I?"[/p]
"You kept it a secret until you ran up to me without a disguise and told me who you were."
[p]>"That didn't matter, we were already back at the hive by then."[/p]
"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."
>Emerald changes from looking dejected to looking less upset
[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]
>This takes a massive weight off your chest, making you feel better too
"Thanks, that was making me a bit stressed. Anyway, what do we do now?"
>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
>. . .
>Once again, your dream mirrors the events of the previous day
>You find yourself in the US Senate Chamber all alone, but it doesn't take long for you to get some company
>When Luna appears, she materializes in a chair near you but also facing away from you
>This gives her an excuse to take a fairly long look at her surroundings when she turns to face you
>While she's still looking around, you decide to ask her a question
"Would you like to know where we are?"
>She turns around, a bit surprised at first, but nods as she continues looking around the room
"This is the US Senate Chamber, one of the most important rooms in my home country."
>After Luna's finished looking around, she asks a question of her own
>"Is this senate some sort of legislative body?"
"Yes it is, and it's the most powerful one in the country."
>"Oh joy; I've had to deal with those before, it's never fun."
"Yeah, this one back home doesn't usually get much done but that's not necessarily a bad thing sometimes."
>Luna looks at you with a confused expression before questioning the meaning of your statement
>"It's not a bad thing when your government gets nothing done?"
"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."
>Luna looks mildly stunned at this, but soon responds
>"Again, I feel sorry for you."
"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."
>She shrugs, seeming to accept your indifference, and changes the subject
>"So, I heard the negotiations went well?"
"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."
>"Celestia didn't give you any trouble?"
"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."
>"That's good, what were the terms?"
"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."
>"And about Chrysalis's need for..."
>Luna trails off a bit here, but you got the idea
"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."
>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
>. . .
>The trip home the next day was nothing to write about, and nothing interesting happened on the train this time
>When you got back though, this was where everything started going back to normal
>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
>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
>Besides, with the easing tensions between Equestria and Chrysalis's changelings, you'll probably get to see more of them at some point
>With these thoughts holding your mind during most[s] actually all[/s] of Ms. Cheerilee's lectures, you drift through school without many problems
>When you get back to the castle afterwards, though, Twilight says she has a surprise for you
>Well, it could be a bit interesting
"What is it?"
>"Follow me down to the lab and I'll show you."
>This could be pretty cool!
>You follow Twilight down to the lab, noticing that she doesn't take off her bag
>Along the way, you two pass by Spike doing some housework
"Hey Spike, we're back!"
>The small dragon stops what he was doing to accompany you two on the walk as you all continue
[o]>"Hey Anon! Sorry, but I forgot to ask you yesterday: how was the trip?"[/o]
"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?"
[o]>"Boring, but at least it was all pretty easy to manage. Anyway, what's going on now?"[/o]
>This is when Twilight steps in
>"I'm bringing Anon down to the lab to make sure that her nose is recovering properly, nothing too interesting."
[o]>"Oh. I guess that means I should get back to sweeping?"[/o]
>"It certainly wouldn't be a bad idea."
>Spike shrugs before saying a final statement
[o]>"Well, I guess I'll see you both after."[/o]
>You wave to him as you and Twilight continue on without him to the lab
>The rest of the walk to the lab happens without interruption, all while you ponder just what Twilight has for you
>What could it be?
>If you two are going all the way to the lab, then it's probably something science-y
>She also lied to Spike about what's happening, so it's probably something human-y
>As you hear the large doors slide open effortlessly, you stop pondering in favor of finding out
>Twilight leads you past plenty of different sights, some being familiar and others being new
>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
>Is this where you came through into Equestria?
>Twilight leads you over to a nearby table and lifts over a bag, placing it onto the table
"Alright, so what's the surprise?"
>She turns around, opening the bag up and revealing a few different items
>A chunk of crystal about the size of your head
>A jar with a nozzle on top containing some presumably magical fire
>A few other miscellaneous and less-identifiable items as well
>"I now have everything necessary to get you back home!"
>So that's what all that is
>All the same, a mix of feelings wash over you
>Excitement, relief, concern, worry, and even some melancholy all cross your mind in the space of a second
>On one hand, you're one step closer to getting home!
>On another, you still don't know how many steps there will be, or if there's even an end to it
>But you're closer to seeing your family again!
>But what will they think if they knew what happened to you?
>Also, leaving to go home means you'll never get to see the friends you made here again...
>Twilight notices your concern and walks over to put a hoof around you
>"What's up? I thought you would be more excited."
>You take a moment to collect your thoughts and promptly shove them into some other corner of your mind for the time being
"I don't know... I mean, don't get me wrong, this is great, but..."
>"Are you having some doubts about leaving?"
>Well, now that she already guessed it
>"Then don't worry! Your family will be happy to have you back!"
"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."
>Twilight removes her hoof from around you and sits beside you to think
>After a few seconds, she looks over at your face and apparently gets an idea
>"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."
>You nod as you take this information in, your conflicted expression changing to a thoughtful one
"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?"
>Twilight thinks back to that moment for a second before answering your question
>"I did, but I'm not so sure that that's the case anymore."
>When did this become something that shouldn't be too hard?
>Well, Twilight notices the very obvious confusion now dominating your expression and elaborates
>"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."
>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
>"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."
>That would certainly help, and it would give you a choice with less risk involved if it worked
>However, you might have found a problem
"Do you have enough of everything to prove or disprove your idea, though?"
>Twilight looks back into her bag and over everything that she has in there before turning back to you
>"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."
>Looks like Twilight has everything covered for this, then
"Okay, one last question: how long will it take you to figure this out?"
>"It should only take a few tests to get a sufficient answer to work with, if that's what you're asking."
"I was thinking more about a number of days, but I guess that works."
>"If you're asking days, it shouldn't take more than a week."
>Well, all your questions are answered for now
>You guess you should start thinking about this, but something almost immediately distracts you
>An audible gurgle resonates from your midsection, telling you that you should probably get something to eat
>Lunch must have not been enough...
"Hey uh, you mind if I go get some food while I start thinking about this?"
>"Not at all! I think I'll come with you, actually; I haven't had lunch yet."
>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
>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
>However, the longer you think the more you worry that you would make a mistake with whatever you chose
>Contrary to what you told Twilight all that time ago, you didn't have many friends where you came from
>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
>Sure, the people you interacted with on those sites you called your friends, but would they really notice your disappearance?
>However, you knew who WOULD notice your disappearance, and who no-doubt has by now
>The people who raised you from birth, put you through school, and put up with your shit no matter what
>Would it really be fair to them to just drop out of the world entirely, never to return?
>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?
>It would be especially rude to Emerald, seeing as how you're quite possibly her only friend
>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?
>No, it wouldn't!
>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
>Maybe Luna could help you figure out what to do?
>In hopes that your new idea pays off, you calm your mind down to fall asleep faster
>. . .
>When you finally fall into that sweet spot of sleep where your dreams can take shape, you notice something prominent about it
>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
>Upon closer inspection, each picture and blurb of text is somehow related to a memory of yours and the decision you have to make
>Unfortunately, not even your subconscious is able to help you with it since both sides of the argument are relatively balanced
>In the end, you decide to just summon in a couple of chairs and wait for Luna anyway
>After a few more moments, your patience is rewarded as she appears in the chair that you aren't currently occupying
>She takes a moment to look around the room and work out the surroundings before turning to you and speaking
>"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."
"Well, to explain that, I'm going to have to tell you about today."
>"We have all night, go ahead."
>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
>Her expression doesn't change much throughout your explanation, but she does nod a few times at certain parts
>Once you're finished with telling her everything, you decide to finish it all off with one last statement
"Now that you know what's going on, can you help me with this decision?"
>Luna shakes her head before putting a hoof on your shoulder and voicing her response
>"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."
>You sigh as the full weight of this dilemma collapses around you, no longer supported by any but yourself
>This is all on you
>Whichever you choose, family or friends, it will be you who has to choose it
>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
>However, as soon as it starts, it's stopped by Luna getting up and walking in front of you
>As you lift your head to match her gaze, she starts talking
>"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."
"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!"
>"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?"
>That has to be bait
>Then again, you've always enjoyed taking bait
>Plus, this could actually end up helping you somehow
>You sit up straighter and cross your arms in a show of skepticism before responding
"Alright, I'll bite. How do you know?"
>Luna sits back in her chair before beginning to explain her thoughts
>"How long have you been here so far?"
"About a month, I think."
>"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."
"Alright, so what happens to everyone here that I've already made friends with?"
>"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."
>Luna then gives you a warm smile and waits for your response
>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
>Also, like Twilight said, you've got time!
>You don't have to immediately make this decision, it won't make it happen any faster
>You uncross your arms and give Luna a smile in return before speaking
"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."
>Luna shrugs after hearing what you say, but continues to smile, nonetheless
>"Does that mean that you're not going to freak out about it anymore?"
"It's not a guarantee, but I'll remember what you said if it ever happens again."
>With all the important stuff out of the way, you decide to switch the dreamscape over to something more interesting
>In a new and more interesting place, you and Luna spend the rest of the dream having fun
>. . .
>Your morning starts off fairly normal, and everything goes as you expect up until Ms. Cheerilee gets to the morning's announcements
>You tune out most of it to keep thinking about your upcoming choice, but something she says catches your interest
>"... 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!"
>The rest of the class seemed fairly bored too, but they all soon matched your level of attention at the mention of history making
>A filly somewhere between you and the left wall raises her hoof like she has a question and Cheerilee calls on her
[p]>"What do you mean by 'history being made'?"[/p]
>Cheerilee responds almost immediately after the filly finishes her question, like she expected such a question to be asked
>that filly just got baited
>"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."
>Wow, you got to mediate the negotiations and now you get the opportunity to see it finished?
>Maybe you wouldn't be so terrible in politics
>You make a mental note to tell Twilight about this before taking your morning nap as Cheerilee moves on in the announcements
>Your nap is uneventful and dreamless (for once), and you wake up when the bell rings for recess
>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
>The rest of it, you spend watching passersby who are going about their daily business as adults
>When the bell rings, you head back inside and go back to thinking about your predicament in a much more calm and collected way
>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
>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
>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
>Now, where were you?
>Oh, right, still just about where you were when you started
>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
>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
>You're definitely telling Twilight about the field trip and asking her to go, you always like getting to see your handiwork appreciated
>You also can't see any reason why she wouldn't let you go
>She may have to go herself, though, so you may be going whether you like it or not
>Does Twilight even hold the political power necessary to force her presence at the event?
>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
>You filter outside with your lunch in tow and your mind still full of thoughts
>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
>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
>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
>You rip through it as fast as your hoof can move, putting down day after day of information through hoof cramps and broken pencils
>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
>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
>It's not a long walk and you make it back with no problems
>Once inside, you go put away your stuff and go off to find Twilight
>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
>You walk your way down the winding staircase shrouded in a purple glow until you find those two giant doors
>Pressing your ear to one of them, you can definitely hear that science is happening in there
>Now, how to get in?
>Or should you even try?
>As far as you know, it's completely sealed to you
>Well, you might as well wait
>After all, you'd rather not push your luck
>You sit down outside the laboratory after knocking on the door a few times
>It gets pretty boring after a while, but Spike eventually shows up for some reason
[o]>"Hey Anon, why are you down here?"[/o]
"Waiting for Twilight. How about you?"
[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]
"Any particular reason? I appreciate the concern, but why?"
[o]>"I'm bored and I heard you come in."[/o]
"Oh. Sorry, but I'm not really doing anything interesting in case you couldn't tell."
[o]>"Well, you can at least tell me why you're waiting for Twilight outside the lab."[/o]
"Ms. Cheerilee said something about a field trip today that's happening over the weekend and I wanted to ask her about it."
[o]>"Let me guess, the Canterlot trip?"[/o]
"Yeah, how'd you know?"
[o]>"Sweetie Belle's told me about it over the years. Why is it happening now, though?"[/o]
"Something something politics, something something history."
[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]
"Well, conglaturation! You're winner!"
>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
"It's a reference."
[o]>"... Anyway, did anything else happen at school?"[/o]
"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?"
[/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]
"Dang, what's she doing in there?"
[o]>"I don't know, but there were some explosions and the lights flickered a few times."[/o]
"Kinda makes you wonder what's going on in there, doesn't it?"
[o]>"Yeah, but you're stupid if you think I'd want to be anywhere near what's happening in there."[/o]
>Without anything left to say, the conversation falls into a somewhat awkward lull
>Nothing you haven't dealt with before, though
>You take this opportunity to check back in on some of your mental subprocesses while Spike looks around the area
>You still haven't reached a conclusion on your big question, no surprises there
>You can still remember some of what Ms. Cheerilee said in class
>Time to go to the old standby, and make a story in your head!
>Anon's at school
>Purple is there
>Purple say 'lern math anon'
>Anon say 'heck u purpl'
>Purple gets hecked
>End of Volume 1
>This continues on to about volume 4 before the door to the lab finally opens and Twilight steps out
>However, something hits you before anything else when the doors open
>The smell of burning sulfur
>Also, Twilight appears to be covered in a light layer of soot with an outline in the shape of a lab coat and goggles
>Wasting no time, you decide to grab Twilight's attention with a question
"Dang, what happened to you?"
>She takes a moment to shake some of it off, but it has little effect to your knowledge
>"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."
>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
>At least, you decide not to ask them around Spike
"Anyway, I was hoping to ask you about something."
>"Sure, just make it quick. I don't want to keep this stuff on me for much longer and it'll probably stain something."
>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
>Twilight gazes off ahead of her for a second before turning back to you
>"I'll go with you to make Cheerilee's trip a bit easier."
>With that, she teleports off to somewhere leaving only a few dirty hoofprints where she was just standing
>It's down to you and Spike again, and you still don't have anything to say!
>Spike, however, seems occupied with the floor now that Twilight's left for somewhere else
>He then sighs and stands up, going back up the stairs
[o]>"I'll get the broom..."[/o]
>Now that you're alone, you're left to your own devices again
>As you stand up to leave yourself, you end up catching something that seems pretty inviting
>The lab doors remain open
>Cancel program? Y/N
>You still wince sometimes remembering your last escapade in the lab, so there's no way that you're risking another injury
>However, you're pretty sure that you can just look around without any problems
>You wander into the lab, following the trail of dust that Twilight left in her wake all the way back to its source
>Sure enough, it's from exactly what you thought
>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
>You can even see a thin, but distinct border around part of the area where Twilight probably tried to put up a shield
>Other than that though, there doesn't seem to be that much damage to the general vicinity
>Good, no castles collapsing out of nowhere
>When you walk back out into the lab's entryway, you see Spike sweeping the ash that Twilight left into a dustpan
>Quickly, you look down to your own hooves to check if you're tracking anything around
>You continue on towards the dragon until you reach him, then stop
"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?"
>Spike looks up from his current task and pauses for a brief moment
[o]>"I don't think you'll be able to help too much, do you even know how to sweep?"[/o]
>You do not
>Even at home on Earth with hands to work with, you still sucked at it
>Seriously, somehow there was more dirt on the floor [i]after[/i] you tried it
"Good point. Just warning you though, it looks like somebody threw a molotov onto the world's largest sheet of paper in there."
[o]>"What's a 'molotov'?"[/o]
>Nice job, you screwed up again
>How do you get out of telling someone about being an ayy now?
>One thing's for sure though, roll for your pokerface...
"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."
[o]>"Huh! Where'd you learn about this kind of magic?"[/o]
"You know... books and stuff?"
[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]
>Spike then resumes his sweeping and you head back up the stairs
>Once again, a large mess has been made and you're the only one equipped to handle it
>At least Anon offered to help, but she said that she wouldn't know how to
>Oh well, it's just another job to do
>Besides, it can't be [i]that[/i] big of a mess, right?
>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
>Eventually, you work your way back to the trail's end and witness the true magnitude of it all
>How did some of it get on the ceiling!?
>That's not even considering how much of it is on the walls, which looks to be almost as much as on the floor...
>Maybe you should've accepted the help
>Maybe you should still go back and ask for it
>Maybe you should even ask Twilight to help out with it
>Nah, you said you could handle it yourself, so that's what you'll do
>You sigh inwardly as you grit your teeth, grip the broom handle, and get to work
>The mess goes away faster than you expected though, so that's cool
>After a few minutes of working, you have a sizeable pile built up in the middle of the room
>That's the floor cleaned, now to work on the walls
>It takes some reaching, but you are also able to knock the soot off the walls with a few concentrated efforts
>Lastly, the ceiling
>You have to get a ladder, but the ceiling is cleaned too
>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
>However, something catches your eye
>Twilight left some papers out on a desk
>That's not really like her, she usually puts them away into a folder or something after recording everything she needs to
>Could she be coming back here?
>Maybe, but then why would she have gone off to clean herself up?
>If she's just going to come back and do more stuff, then why bother?
>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
>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
>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
>"Revised test successful, stable connection established, tell Anon"
>Why would Twilight need to tell Anon about an experiment?
>Also, what does she mean by 'stable connection established'?
>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
>Unfortunately, you didn't miss much
>A few charts, graphs and equations on the backs of some papers, but that's about it
>Now feeling more confused than you have in a decent while, you decide to throw in the towel
>If you're meant to find out, you'll be told about it at some point
>It might not hurt to ask Anon or Twilight about that though, in case you [i]are[/i]
>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
>Once you're satisfied with your work, you finish sweeping it up the stairs and out the door
>It's a hard process to get it up there, but you've mastered it over the years
>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
>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
>Now that all that's taken care of, you can get to work on replicating the conditions which brought Anon here tomorrow!
>Before that though, you need to finish up in the shower
>You should also clean up down in the lab, if Spike hasn't already taken care of it
>And probably wait until tomorrow, like you thought
>It's definitely been more than 2 days since you last slept and coffee's not doing it anymore
>Early to bed for you, then
>You finish washing and drying yourself off and teleport back down to the lab's entrance
>When you get there, you find the door open
>At least the interior's spotless
>Well, you should at least do a cursory check now to make sure nobody touched anything important
>You work your way through each area, checking everything to make sure that nothing's been changed
>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
>Okay, you might have left that out
>Was it opened, though?
>You think back on it, but fail to remember properly despite it only happening several minutes ago
>Even more proof that you need sleep
>Should probably ask him about it, just to make sure
>Worst-case scenario, he figures it all out and you have to fix that
>It won't be the first time you've had to use a memory-altering spell, and it certainly won't be the last
>It will be one of the few times you've had to use it on Spike, though
>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
>You spend a few minutes wandering around aimlessly looking for Spike before finding him in his own room
>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
[o]>"Hey Twilight, what's up?"[/o]
"I was just wondering if I put that file in the lab back together or not. Can you help me refresh my memory?"
>Spike answers nonchalantly, confirming the worse of the two possibilities
"Well, did you see anything in it that confused you?"
>Twilight's in your room asking you about that file you found in the lab
>Well, you didn't have to ask first!
>That's pretty cool...
"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."
>Twilight raises her eyebrows for a second before dropping back to a neutral expression
>"Oh. Sorry, I can't help you with that yet."
>Was an odd answer, but an answer it was
"Well, can you tell me when I'll be able to know?"
>Twilight shakes her head no and you see her horn ignite
>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
>"Not for the foreseeable future. By the way, sorry in advance."
>A bright purple glow stuns you for a few seconds as you feel... something leave you
>The feeling fades with the glow though, and soon your vision returns in full as you lose the feeling entirely
>Oh well, that was probably nothing
>You see Twilight standing in your doorway, looking expectantly at you
>"I just came down to tell you that I'm starting dinner. Do you want to help?"
>And you just got comfortable...
"Sure, just let me put this back."
>You place the comic book back on your pile and follow Twilight out of the room and up to the kitchen for dinner
>You took some time in your room to ckeck on your homework and promptly ignore it before Twilight called you down for dinner
>It was somewhat uneventful
>There were a few questions tossed your way and you answered them, but it was mainly about school
>Afterwards though, when Spike was occupied with cleaning dishes, Twilight pulled you aside
>So far aside that you're both now in the interrogation room
>You two both take your places before Twilight cuts to the point
>"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."
>Okay, that seems pretty-
"Why did you need to wipe Spike's memory?!"
>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."
>Seems sound, but you still don't like it
"Okay, what did he actually see?"
>"He saw my reminder to tell you about my results at the end of the most recent page."
"And you couldn't have taken this in any direction that DIDN'T require wiping a half-hour from his mind forever?"
>"Anon, do you know how well Spike can keep a secret?"
"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?"
>Twilight is looking more and more frustrated as your counterpoint goes on, but she holds her tongue until you're finished
>"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."
>You're not over the wiping of part of Spike's life yet but purple has a point
>It's too late to fix it, the damage was done
"Alright. Also, a progress report on my answer: I am still no closer to finding one now than I was before."
>"Dang, this might come down to a coin toss."
>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.'
>Maybe flipping a coin will help you out, then?
>You and Twilight finish up with the rest of the formalities before you two split off
>Twilight goes up to her room while you go back down to check on Spike
>When you get back to the kitchen, you find that he's gone
>Time to check the one place that he usually frequents!
>Surprise, surprise; he's in his room
>You see him flat on his bed with a comic book grasped in his claw and his Rarity plush on his stomach
"Hey nerd, what's going on?"
[o]>"Not much, just reading a new issue that came in the mail."[/o]
"Nice, what's it about?"
>You walk behind him and try to read over his shoulders
>Oh, it's those superheroes again
[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]
>Huh, so Thanos is a thing here too
"I think I'm good, thanks."
[o]>"Oh well, I can understand if this isn't your thing."[/o]
>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
>Once you get there, you decide to do something that you haven't done in a hot minute
"Well, today had some events."
>You close the door behind you and flop down on your bed between your two plushes, neither of whom give a reply
"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."
"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."
>You nod in silence at the imaginary response to your statement as you climb under the sheets, hoping to finish off this day soon
>. . .
>Huh, guess there are no dreams tonight
>That doesn't stop Luna from showing up, though
>However, instead of appearing in the form you recognize, she manifests as a voice in your mind
>"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?"
This intrusion takes you a bit by surprise
>Also, how will you even reply?
>Well, it's worth a shot
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.
>"Would you be willing to share those ideas?"
>Huh, so that worked
>You tell her about the whole coin flipping thing and the two ways you could use it to help you
>"Not the most original of ideas, but you've got a decent set of plans for this."
I know, but until I'm either forced to choose or make a decision myself, it'll work.
>"Do you feel like you're any closer to a decision, by the way?"
>All this pressure, why?
No, and I'm not entirely sure that I'll come to one, hence plans A and B.
>"Fair enough. Has anything interesting happened recently?"
>Once again, you retell the previous events of the day
... Enough about me though, how are you?
>"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."
Dang, that busy still?
>"I'm not sure what you expected, my last vacation was my thousand-year trip to the moon."
Rip, at least I can get weekends off.
>"It's not all bad, though. Sometimes my adventures through the immaterial realm bring me to some rather funny situations."
>"Let me preface this by asking you how many of your nightmares you remember from foalhood, or whatever you call it."
A few, not too many though.
>"And you look back on them now wondering how you were scared by them, right?"
Yeah, I'll admit that.
>"Now imagine if somepony else, without any context for one of these nightmares, shows up in the middle of it all to rescue you."
>You would raise your eyebrows, but you have no face right now to do it
>"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."
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?
>Luna goes silent for a few seconds while she thinks
>"No, I don't think I have. Why, have you?"
I have, but I'm not sure you would entirely get it. Hell, I don't even get it myself.
>"I'm willing to hear it all the same, lay it on me."
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."
>Again, Luna falls silent as she takes that in
>"... What's a Superman, what's a corndog, and what's Gatorade?"
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.
>After yet another pass of silence, Luna responds
>"Well then. That certainly does sound absurd."
>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
>. . .
>Another day closer to an interesting day
>You go about your morning routine on autopilot
>Come to think of it, you go about the entire [i]day[/i] on autopilot
>Your thoughts drift a few times throughout the day, but nothing noteworthy happens to bring you back
>Looks like it's time for...
>It's now Friday afternoon
>You're up in your room grouping together what few items you have to bring to Canterlot for the thing happening
>Twilight's doing the same, but she has a lot more to get than just a few plushes and some clothes
>Somehow, though, she manages to finish packing before you and teleports up to your room
>Fucking magic hacks, she probably just took everything and put it in there all at once
>Her talking brings you out of your internal grumbling, though
>"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."
>And poof, she's gone again
>How rude, you didn't even get an opportunity to respond!
>Oh well, a response wasn't really needed
>You finish packing your belongings and take them down to the door
>Once that's done, you and Twilight say good bye to Spike and teleport down to the station
>A short while after that, you two are on your way to Canterlot
>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
>Your concern is why Twilight keeps looking over a sheet of paper
>Moreover, why she seems to be reading it to herself under her breath
"Hey, what's up?"
>"Nothing, just making sure that I have the schedule of events completely memorized for tomorrow."
>It would probably help you to know the schedule too, if you want to be present for everything
"You know, I've heard that telling someone something helps you to remember it better."
>Twilight glances up at you for a second before her eyes snap back to the paper and she resumes reading, this time aloud
>"Nine o'clock, arrive at castle. Nine oh-five, check in with Celestia. Nine ten, finish pre-ceremony preparations. Ten thirty, meet with Chrysalis..."
>She goes on for a few more points before she wraps back around to the beginning
>This too goes on a few times before you realize that you've zoned out completely
>"... Well, I think I have it down now. How about you?"
"Me too, but I might just need a bit of a refresher on those beginning, middle, and end bits though."
>Twilight blinks a few times in silence before exhaling loudly, facehoofing and stifling a small giggle
>"Just stick with me and you should be fine."
"Okay, but now I have a few questions."
"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?"
>"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."
>Now it's your turn to go silent for a few seconds
"Why are we staying at the castle?"
>"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."
"Fair enough. Anything else important that may need mentioning?"
>Twilight ponders your query for a little while before returning her gaze to you
>"Not that I can think of right now, no."
"Cool, then I guess I'll do my best to stay out of the way and let everything happen that needs to."
>"And I'll do everything that I need to so you'll have something interesting to stay out of the way of."
>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
>Eventually, darkness falls and you reach the summit of the mountain
>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
>While walking there, you take the opportunity and clear your mind a bit with a few deep, loose breaths
>You're brought out of your almost-meditation by Twilight's intent staring, though
"Just a bit nervous, I guess."
>"Don't worry too much, Celestia and I already have that taken care of."
>Twilight's dry humor catches you a little off guard, but does little to help
>It kinda makes things worse, if anything
>If even Celestia is worried about this, then what does that say about the future?
>"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%."
"Then why are you two so worried?"
>"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."
>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
>You and Twilight arrive at the castle in short time
>When you two arrive, things aren't nearly as much of a madhouse as you would've expected
>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
>Twilight's pretty silent as you two continue, but nopony shoots you any glances while you're with her
>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
>Celestia's standing at the head of a long table with various nobles being ordered to do various things spread out
>Celestia's also the one giving these orders
>Various other staff and guards appear to be moving about in the room, but not with the same quiet urgency as Celestia herself
>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
>Finally, after charting a very less-than-straight path, you both make it to Sunbutt
>Things have been going alright so far
>Everypony's doing what they need to when they need to do it
>There's more rushing and panic than you would like, but it hasn't caused any problems yet and hopefully won't
>Luckily for you, the chance of a problem occurring has gone down significantly from Twilight's arrival
>You take official notice of her once she reaches your side and get her up-to-date on what's happened so far
"... 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."
>"Fantastic, my estimates weren't far off. I'll go help with that, but I have something to clarify really quickly."
>"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?"
>You take a moment to peek around Twilight and catch a glimpse of that deceptively small, green frame
>And it appears he's noticed you too
"I'm sure that doesn't need explaining. It's nice to see you too, by the way."
>You turn your attention back to Twilight as she makes a final statement
>"Well, I'm going to find out where I'm needed. I'll report back as soon as it's all done!"
>With that, she and Anonymous leave the room
>Glancing back at Twilight, you realize that you've forgotten part of your manners
>Oh, she's already almost out the door
>You quickly move a nearby pen over to Twilight to tap her shoulder, stopping her in her tracks
>After telling Anonymous to wait outside, she goes back over to you
>"Did you need anything else, Princess?"
"I forgot to mention that you can leave your bag here and I'll have somepony run it up to your room; I apologize."
>"It's fine, it happens to the best of us! Thanks, by the way."
>Twilight then removes her saddlebag and magics it over to you before going back outside to Anon
>Alright, now, back to the tasks at hand...
>Okay, why are you only [i]now[/i] seeing these papers?
>They should've been in front of you a while ago!
>You and Twilight are now following the steady flow of ponies through the castle
>After a decent walk through the many halls of the castle, you both reach a large courtyard with a large balcony overlooking it
>There's also quite a few things set up around the area
>The first thing you notice is the red ropes
>After that, it's the abundance of chairs on the grass/on racks nearby and the ponies setting them up
>Finally, you notice what appears to be a magically operated sound system near the balcony
>Twilight immediately gets to work, picking up several chairs at once and moving them over to where they're set up
>Meanwhile, you're struggling to pull a single chair off the rack nearest you
>Eventually, you work one off and it unceremoniously falls to the floor
>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
>As you set to work again, you're paused by a tap on the back
>"Maybe you should leave the setting up to us?"
>You turn to face her, and she's got one of those faces on
>Her patronizing stare says that you're doing something wrong, but that it's not your fault
>You wait a few seconds before letting out a sigh of defeat
"Alright, I'll stay out of the way. Is there anything that I can do in the meantime, though?"
>Twilight takes a quick look around the area before settling back to you
>"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?"
>Twilight points in a certain direction, and you follow her hoof to a part of the courtyard near where you two entered
"Alright, I guess I'll go wait."
>You walk over to the chosen spot, faking dejection the whole way
>Once you sit down, you realize that you have nothing else to do but watch the setup happen
>It sure would be nice if you had your phone with you...
>Wait, where [i]is[/i] your phone?
>It was in your bag when you got off the train, but-
>[i]Where is your bag?[/i]
>You left it on the train
>You put your phone down to charge in your bag, then forgot it on the train when it was time to get off
>You have no idea how neither you nor Twilight caught that fact, but it happened
>At least you had nothing entirely vital in there, just your clothes that don't fit, your plushes, and your phone/charger
>That fact is of little solace though, so you opt to start repeatedly facehoofing with significant force
>You stop after only 4 though, seeing as how your forehead's starting to go numb and a headache's coming on
>Seeing nothing else to do, you begin worrying about what will happen to your stuff
>Let's see, what things can we list off that will only worry you further?
>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!
>No, it doesn't matter how low of a probability it has to happen, you're gonna think about it!
>Hell, some interdimensional monster could've come out of nowhere just to steal your shit and piss you off
>No matter what happens, keeping this to yourself probably won't help you at all
>So, you decide to do the one productive thing that even has a remote chance of helping you right now: tell Twilight
>You compose yourself, get up, and formulate how you're going to tell her
>However, all this composure flies out the window when you finally get over to her
>"What is it, Anon?"
"... ᴵ ᵃᶜᶜᶦᵈᵉⁿᵗᵃˡˡʸ ˡᵉᶠᵗ ᵐʸ ᵇᵃᵍ ᵒⁿ ᵗʰᵉ ᵗʳᵃᶦⁿ."
>She raises an eyebrow and dons a slightly confused expression
>"Could you repeat that?"
>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
"I accidentally left my bag on the train."
>Twilight sits down and stares off into space for a second, taking in what you just said before saying anything else
>"Well, it's a good thing that you didn't have anything necessary in there."
"I understand that, but what about all my stuff? Is it gone forever?"
>"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."
>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
>Eh, let's chock it up to nerves for now
"I guess so. I just hope you're right..."
>You say to no one in particular, since Twilight went back to what she was doing when you paused
>Maybe that's a sign that there are bigger things to worry about
>Maybe not now specifically, but in general
>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
>You keep that information in mind as you go back to watching the ponies work on setting up everything
>Eventually, everything is set up and servants and nobles start filtering out
>Even Twilight, after triple-checking everything of course, comes back over to you to bring you back inside the castle
>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
>She seems more interested in the paper in front of her
>You debate taking a look, but you ultimately decide that that may not be the best idea
>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
>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
"So, what do you think was on that paper that Sunbutt was so interested in?"
>"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."
"Huh, I hope there wasn't anything bad to report on it."
>"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."
>Wait, would she really do that?
"Is that a thing that could happen?"
>"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."
"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."
>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
>"Good luck with that."
>You stop walking and look up defiantly at her
"What makes you think I can't?"
>Twilight stops just in front of you, but only moves her head around to face you
>"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."
>Yeah, she's right about the tired parts
>You're not going to let her know that, though
>Besides, this isn't the first time you've stayed up for more than 16 hours straight
>No matter what you think, though, you decide to not be a dick and go back to following her to the room
>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
>It looks like a full suite, complete with an entire kitchen and even a small library's worth of books!
>You can't help but let out a drawn-out whistle at your new surroundings as you get more acquainted to it all
>First stop is the kitchen area
>Sure, there probably won't be any food in there, but it's worth a shot
>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
>Not too hard, but it's a step up from just having to pull open a wooden door
>Now you have to stand up to do it!
>After staring into the empty coldbox for a few seconds, you hear Twilight comment on your actions from the other room
>"I don't think you'll find anything in there."
"Yeah, kinda figured that out."
>"So then why bother looking?"
"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."
>"Fair enough. You shouldn't need anything to eat though, I remember you eating on the train ride here."
"Whether or not I need more is irrelevant to this situation; it's the want that drives the search."
>"Whatever. I'm going to bed and you should too, if you want to be up in time for tomorrow's activities."
>She's got another point there, too
>Admitting defeat in your attempt at finding food, you retire to bed with Twi
>Sleep isn't immediate at your level of tiredness, but it still comes pretty quickly
>. . .
>You wake up the next morning to Twilight rousing you herself, for once
>"Wake up, Anon; you need to start getting ready if you don't want to miss anything."
"Alright, I'm coming."
>You roll out of bed with more dexterity than usual, this time not having such a hard landing
>After that, it's just routine to get yourself presentable
>Routine and Twilight fussing with your mane
>Something something 'polite company' and all that
>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
"Okay, so where to first?"
>"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."
"Cool, so then what?"
>"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."
>At the mere mention of food, your abdomen is roused from its own slumber to voice approval
"Nice. Any idea what happens after all that, though?"
>Twilight glances at you for a few moments from the corner of her eye
>"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."
>You stay silent for a minute as you contemplate how you managed to miss that
"... Of course."
>You remain quiet through the remainder of the walk to think about what you said more than you should
>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
>The three of them seem to be having a somewhat one-sided conversation with Celestia doing most of the talking
>As you get closer, you start hearing bits and pieces of what's being said
[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]
>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
>"Good morning, Princess. Did we miss too much?"
[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]
>With that, Celestia leaves the room
>Twilight stares after her and sighs lightly before looking at the paper she was given
>You're somewhat unsure of what to do in the present moment, so you just kinda stand there until she finishes reading
>"Well, at least I'm not just standing there and smiling this time."
>After finishing reading the paper, Twilight teleports it somewhere and turns back to you
>"I didn't see anything in there about you, so I guess that question's still up in the air."
"Darn. Anything I should know on there, at least?"
>Twilight brings the paper back from the aether to scan it again before returning it from whence it came
>"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."
"That's something, at least."
>Twilight nods in silent agreement before making her way over to the table with the other important individuals and you follow close behind
>She pulls out two chairs and you both claim one before she starts talking
>"So, what are you two going to be doing?"
[p]>"I'm standing at Celestia's side and looking regal until it's time to sign the fake document."[/p]
[o]>"And I'm standing next to her until it's time for Celestia to stop using the microphone."[/o]
>Chrysalis gestures towards Luna in her sentence
>"Okay, so I'm not the only one. That's comforting."
"So we're all just standing around, then? Cool."
[o]>"Pretty much. Any idea when Celestia's coming back?"[/o]
[p]>"Not sure. Why do you ask?"[/p]
[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]
[p]>"I'll tell her where you went, just take my guards with you and it should be fine."[/p]
>Chrysalis does exactly that and leaves the room, only for Celestia to enter shortly after
>Celestia takes a brief moment to scan the room, looking for its missing occupants before voicing her concerns
[o]>"Okay, where's Chrysalis? Am I going to have to send out a guard party to track her down?"[/o]
[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]
>Celestia closes her eyes before taking a few deep breaths and continuing on
[o]>"I trust you both know what you're doing for the ceremony?"[/o]
>She asks, looking between Luna and Twilight
>Luna simply nods, but Twilight also asks a certain question
>"What will Anon be doing during all this?"
>Celestia turns to you for a moment before returning her gaze to Twilight
[o]>"Whatever she feels comfortable doing, as long as it doesn't interfere with any of what's being shown to the press."[/o]
>That's a big help
"So does that mean it's cool if I watch from backstage, or wherever?"
>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
[o]>"So, she's still gone?"[/o]
>"You just missed her."
[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]
[p]>"Nothing new, she just checked in to make sure we knew what we were doing for the third time."[/p]
"I got confirmation that I can watch from wherever I want, so that's cool."
[o]>"That's nice, I assume you'll be staying close to the action?"[/o]
"As close as I can get, hopefully."
[o]>"Then I'll be sure to keep things civil for you."[/o]
>Chrysalis giggles to herself at that comment while Twilight and Luna give her side eye
[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]
[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]
>"I'm going to grab something from the kitchen, either of you want anything?"
>Chrysalis and Luna both accept, and Twilight leaves the room to return later with food
>It's been a while since Twilight and Anonymous left for Canterlot
>You've already taken care of the list for this trip, so now you're free to do whatever
>Well, you would be if there wasn't a knock at the door
>You make your way up from your room to it and answer
>Before you stands a gray cross-eyed pegasus in a uniform and bearing a green suit case
[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]
>You step out to get a closer look at it and read the name tag connected to the handle
>If found, please deliver to the Friendship Castle in Ponyville
"Yeah, the owner of this case lives here. Thanks for dropping it by!"
[o]>"It's no problem, I hope there was nothing important in it. Anyway, have a nice day!"[/o]
>You wave as she flies off before dragging the case inside and closing the door
>You then start the process of getting it to Anonymous's room before encountering a major problem
>Wheels don't like going up stairs
>You've got two options:
>A, you can drag it up behind you
>B, you can carry it up
>Carrying would be more difficult, but it would also be faster
>Dragging it would be slower, but it would also be safer
>Seeing as you've got a plate of reheated pizza waiting for you, you decide to make it quick
>You pick up the suit case with both arms and start climbing the stairs
>The only problem you have is that you can't quite see where you're stepping, but that shouldn't-
>And right when you think that, you trip and drop everything
>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
>Now not only is your shin hurt, but also your pride
>This is what happens when past Spike tries to cut corners, present Spike always has to clean up the mess
>So that's what you do
>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
>two white fabric tubes and a blue thing that looks like pants, but it's too big to be pants
>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
>What would that stuff even be for?
>Why did she need them with her for the trip?
>All these questions and more, answered probably when Anonymous gets back
>Maybe not even then, since she may not like that you saw what she packed
>Oh well, questions for future Spike to figure out and for present Spike to write down until then
>Be Anonymous again
>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
>Just in time, too
>A few seconds after you sit down, Celestia gives control of the microphone to Chrysalis
>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
>The silence persists for a few seconds as Chrysalis surveys the crowd before she takes a deep breath and beginning her apology
>"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."
>She shoots an almost imperceptible glance at Celestia before continuing on
>"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."
>Chrysalis takes a brief pause to inhale again, as silence once again dominates the area
>"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."
>The crowd finally breaks its silence as a brief murmur crosses the courtyard, with the apology only continuing once the sound finally dies down
>"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."
>Chrysalis finally bows her head and steps back as the crowd begins to applaud
>She passes the microphone to Twilight, who waits until the crowd has resumed its silence before beginning her part
[p]>"Alright, now I'm sure many of you have questions, so we'll be happy to answer them."[/p]
>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
>After scanning the crowd for a moment, your caretaker selects a light blue earth pony mare to ask the first question
[o]>"How do we know that this all isn't another plot to take over the country?"[/o]
>Twilight looks around in contemplation until finally seeing you and looking back to the mare
[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]
>The mare sits back down as the press go crazy again
>This time, Twilight picks a gray unicorn stallion
[o]<"Does this mean that we have to start freely accepting changelings within our towns and cities?"[/o]
[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]
>Twilight was about to call for the next question before Chrysalis tapped her shoulder
>Twilight then shrugs and gives her the mic
>"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."
[o]<"And if we do notice changes?"[/o]
>Chrysalis chuckles before answering the question
>"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."
>A small murmur rolls through the crowd as Twilight gets the microphone back
[p]>"Thank you for adding your piece to the answer, Chrysalis. Next question?"[/p]
>More questions roll in over the next half-hour, but they're all getting steadily more political and less easy to understand
>Also, the fact that various governmental branches with very equestrian names are being thrown around isn't helping in the slightest
>So, in your state of confused disinterest, you decide to wander back around to backstage and see if anything new's going on
>You still peek through windows at what's going on as things start winding down, and you see ponies starting to filter out
>Eventually, Twilight cuts the Q/A session off and the whole thing ends, just like that
>From your resumed post backstage, you see everyone come back and disperse a bit
>Chrysalis returns to her guards, Celestia walks out to go do something with Luna following, and Twilight walks over to you again
"So, now what?"
>"I'm not too sure. Plans didn't reach this far ahead, so we'll probably have to ask Celestia about it."
"Okay then, let's do that."
>"Sure, I just want to check in with Spike first and see if everything's alright."
>Twilight begins to leave the room as you follow behind
"Is... there any particular reason?"
>Twilight pauses and looks at you
>"Do I need one?"
"I mean, I guess not but we've only been gone for a day. Doesn't it seem a bit early?"
>"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."
"Ah. Sorry for questioning, then."
>Twilight smiles and starts walking again
>"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!"
>She punctuates her point by rubbing your head with her wing
>You both finish walking back to your room where Twilight pulls a pen and paper from thin air and begins to write
>Not seeing much else to do in the meantime, you decide to read the letter as she writes it
>It's just her asking about Spike's chores and if everything's fine over there, for the most part
>"Is there anything you'd like to add?"
>You look up to find Twilight staring at you expectantly
"Can you ask him if all my stuff got back okay?"
>"Sure, just give me a second... And done!"
>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
>"Now, let's see what else needs to happen."
>She opens the door for you both and leads you back to the throne room
>However, Celestia's not there
"Well, is there anywhere else she can be?"
>Twilight begins to think to herself, but not for long before reaching a conclusion
>"Either her office or her room, and I'd bet anything it's the former. Come on, I think I remember where it is."
>You both return to the maze of halls and rooms that dominate the castle to find Celestia's office
"So, what will I get if she's not in there?"
>"You're getting nothing, we're not actually betting."
>You look over to her and muster up the shit-eatingest grin you can
"Is it because I might be right?"
>"No, it's because I know you can't give me anything if- [i]when[/i] I win."
>Twilight returns the grin with less smugness but far more side eye mixed in
>"In all seriousness, this is neither the time nor place for it, so no bets will be made."
>You both continue walking in silence for a while until you get another question
"So, then... Where would Celestia be if she's not in her office or her room?"
>"I'm not sure. I think at that point I'd have to start asking around."
"Fair enough, I guess t-"
>Your talking is cut short as Twilight pulls you back to her side, now that she's staring at a door
>You wonder whose door it is, given it's marked with a massive sun icon
>Twilight knocks on the door, upon which you both hear a faint and muffled sigh before seeing the door open before you
>A slightly tired looking Celestia stands behind it, but whatever exhaustion she seemed to have immediately leaves her upon seeing you two
[o]>"Joy, just the one I wanted to see! Please, come in. I have matters to discuss with you."[/o]
>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
>This is definitely an office
>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
>However, there's also a surprising amount of room given the sparse decor
>Twilight decides to take advantage of the large space and sit in roughly the center of the room to address her mentor
>"What matters need discussing that would require a sound barrier?"
[o]>"Matters involving your friend here."[/o]
>Celestia's gaze shifts from her apprentice to you
>Before Twilight can continue though, Celestia begins speaking directly to you
[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]
>She continues to stare at you, never dropping her smile
"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."
[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]
>Celestia's still holding her smile, but slightly more strained
[o]>"Oh, except for one other problem: finding an appropriate stallion for Chrysalis to use for repopulation."[/o]
>And within a second, the smile completely vanishes
>Celestia stares at you for another period, but you're not sure what an appropriate response here would be
[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]
>She continues staring, but this time you've worked out a reply
"... Did I handle the negotiations wrong?"
>Celestia sighs and slumps down in her desk chair before resuming
[o]>"No, it was definitely a fair agreement. A bureaucratic nightmare, but a fair deal."[/o]
>She pauses briefly to lean forward towards you and Twilight, her smile creeping back on to her face
[o]>"Which is why, instead of handling that problem myself, I'm hiring you to do it for me."[/o]
>Celestia leans back in her chair, still smiling, while your mind is forced to make a hard left up a 90-degree incline
>Did she really just...
>You couldn't even get yourself a GF back home, how are you supposed to do it for someone else here?
>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?
[o]>"Don't worry, you'll still be paid for your work despite your apparent age being far below that of legal employment."[/o]
>You wrangle your train of thought for long enough to get it in some semblance of an order before responding
"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."
>Celestia's smile falls back into a thin line as one of her eyebrows raises and the other falls
[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]
"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."
>Celestia takes a moment to consider everything you've said before making another statement of her own
[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]
>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
[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]
>Many, but she'll probably just deflect them too
>You look to Twilight for any help with this, but she just shrugs and teleports the stamp away somewhere
>Seeing no other options, you sigh and accept your fate
"... What's the timeframe I have to work in?"
[o]>"Whatever Chrysalis says you have. Anything else?"[/o]
"Am I going to have to get pretty much every detail of what needs to happen from her?"
[o]>"Probably. Any more?"[/o]
"No, that's it."
[o]>"Fantastic! Now, if you both will excuse me, I have a large stack of papers to read."[/o]
>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
>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
>As soon as the door's closed, you don't hesitate to voice some complaints to Twilight
"You know, you could've helped me out there."
>She shrinks back a bit at your statement before defending herself
>"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."
>Yeah, you may have started a bit harsh
"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?"
>"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?"
>You weren't, but you aren't going to outright tell her that
"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."
>Twilight gives you a stern glare before replying
>"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.'"
>Twilight starts walking off down the hall without another word, leaving you to catch up with her
>Celestia tasked you with keeping an eye on Chrysalis, Mother knows why
>There are more guards than there are princesses for a reason!
>She did give you a pair of guards to help, but they're busy watching Chrysalis's guards
>Very intently, too
>Wait, that's a staring contest
>There are definitely better ways for you to be occupying your time, though
>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...
>Anything other than watching Chrysalis
>It's not like she's being a pest, though
>Quite the opposite, actually
>She's just sitting across the room from you, avoiding eye contact and trying not to look awkward
>It must be pretty nerve-wracking for her to not have a disguise up right now, no wonder
>Then again, you're probably doing the exact same things as she is, given how much else there is to do here
>You'd try to be a better hostess for her, but you've never had this job
>Tia was always the more patient of you both
>More social too, but that needs no explanation
>It's not like you wouldn't try to, though
>You just have no idea how to start with this 'hosting' business
>Tartarus, you two haven't even...
>Wait, that seems like a good place to start
"You know, I don't think we've ever really talked to each other before."
>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
>"I'm not surprised, I haven't actually heard many words from ponies that weren't 'You won't get away with this, monster!'"
>She changes her voice mockingly from Cadance's to Twilight's to Celestia's during the last part
>If she's trying to mess with you, it isn't working
"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."
>"Oh. I suppose that's mildly interesting, what's your point?"
"Well, we've never been formally introduced."
>You get up from your seated position and walk over to Chrysalis and stretch out your right hoof, much to her surprise
>All four guards in the room are now watching you both intently
"I am Luna, princess of Equestria and mover of the moon."
>Chrysalis tentatively accepts the hoofshake, giving a greeting in return
>"And I am Chrysalis, queen of the Badlands and mother of the changelings."
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Chrysalis!"
>After a moment of hesitation, she replies
>After this interaction, you two go back to the previous routine except now you're both on the same side of the room
>Things do seem slightly less tense between you both, though
>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
>What would Tia do in this situation?
>Throwing her in the dungeon isn't going to help in the slightest here
>Well then, what would she do for any other guest?
>You just tried the route of conversation and your mind blanked, what would trying again do?
"Would you like to go do something more interesting?"
>"Would Celestia approve of you letting me out of this room?"
"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."
>"Alright, I'm sold. Did you have something in mind or were you hoping for suggestions?"
>"Then why not show me what you do around here for fun?"
You both beckon your respective guards back to your side before you lead the way out of the room and into the castle
>Twilight's been leading you around for a while without much in the way of conversation
>However, the way in which she's leading you is interesting enough without knowing what she's doing
>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
>This goes on for a surprising amount of time while Twilight's frustration grows more and more visible
>Eventually, she just growls and makes one quick statement before gripping you in her magic
>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
>Needless to say, almost everyone is surprised by your sudden materialization here, you somewhat included
>"Alright, now that we're here, Chrysalis, Anon and I would like to talk to you."
>Everyone relaxes a bit once they realize it's just you and Twilight, but only Luna and Chrysalis seem completely at ease
>You're not surprised, you'd probably piss yourself if someone teleported right in front of you as you were walking
[o]>"What's the occasion?"[/o]
>"Preferably in private."
>Before you can say anything, Luna directs you all into a room and instructs her guards to keep watch outside
>They protest a bit, but the protesting stops when Chrysalis's guards join them
[p]>"Am I welcome to stay, or would it make things easier if I were to step out as well?"[/p]
>Luna looks to Twilight, who looks to you
>Soon enough, all three mares in the room are all looking at you
>So, you turn your attention to Chrysalis and ask a question
"This is going to involve some ah... sensitive topics, so the final call is up to you. You want them here for it?"
"You know, how Celestia's supposed to hold up her side of the negotiations?"
[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]
>Chrysalis gives you a wink from an angle only you can see (not that, you pervert) before turning to Twilight expectantly
>Twilight stares back for a second before catching on to what's being implied
>"Oh! I'm not in charge of this one, that would be Anon."
>Luna pauses at the door when she hears this before turning around
[p]>"I guess Tia really trusts you after all this."[/p]
[o]>"That, or she wanted some payback for you getting her stuck in this situation."[/o]
"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."
[o]>"All that aside, my previous answer still stands. I'd prefer a measure of privacy for this matter, if you would please."[/o]
>Luna, still near the door, holds it for Twilight who has a last word of encouragement for you before leaving
>"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."
"Now that you mention it, a paper and pencil would be pretty helpful."
>Twilight nods, the door clicks shut, and your request appears on the floor before you in a flash of purple
>You both relocate to a nearby table and you get set up before starting
"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?"
>Chrysalis thinks for a moment, eyes passing over the entire room before settling back on you
[o]>"Let's say two weeks."[/o]
>You scribble down the answer and make a few bullets and a new tab below it
"Okay, now what would you like out of the chosen subject?"
>She takes her time thinking again before coming to another conclusion
[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]
>You write down the last bullet before writing another tab
"Do you care how many subjects who pass are sent to you, or is there a specific number or limit you want?"
[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]
>Another few words are jotted down before you finish up with your last question
"And finally, is there anything I should know that wasn't covered by my questions?"
[o]>"Just in case this endeavor goes as I imagine it will, plan B is still an option."[/o]
>Plan B is still a thing
>You wipe a bead of sweat forming just under your mane away before folding up the paper
"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."
[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]
>You nod and walk over to the door, giving it a few knocks to alert those outside
>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
>"Now, what do we need to find, how does it need to happen, and how long do we have to do it?"
"Well, I have it- Wait, didn't you say I was doing this myself?"
>"You're doing all the planning and decision-making yourself, I'm just going to be your mouthpiece through all this."
"That would be pretty helpful... So, what exactly would you be doing?"
>"Whatever requires interacting with other ponies; writing memos, conducting the tests, informing those selected of the circumstances, that sort of thing."
"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."
>Twilight levitates your folded paper over to herself and unfolds it, focus passing between each bullet point as she informs herself of the parameters
>She refolds the paper once she's done with it, nodding in contemplation of ideas that you can only hope to imagine
>"So, what's the game plan?"
"Not entirely sure. Any ideas?"
>"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."
>You think to yourself and throw ideas around inside your head as Twilight waits expectantly
"... 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?"
>Twilight stares blankly at you before putting together what the word 'broadcasting' probably means
>"Technically she does, but it would only work for unicorns."
"It's better than nothing. Why does it only work for unicorns, though?"
>Twilight thinks for a moment about how best to explain this to you
>"It's... Do you have a concept of telepathy, where you come from?"
"So she pretty much just transmits a thought through magic to anything able to read it?"
>"More or less."
"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."
>"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?"
>You take a moment to consider the criteria in place
>Willing to properly appreciate the moment
>You're starting to get ideas and you're starting to like how things are working out in your mind
>It may not be a perfect idea, it may not even work for all you know
>However, it'll get everything done that it needs to and more, hopefully
"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."
>Twilight raises a quizzical eyebrow, but doesn't interrupt
"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."
>The quizzical stare turns to a thoughtful one
"Then, we have those who passed the first round go through a test made by you to determine how mentally viable they are."
>Twilight begins to nod silently as your idea comes together
"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."
>"You had me until we're supposed to let them walk out after doing all that."
>Looks like your idea wasn't as bad-
>"If we give them an option to walk after all that, we'll have wasted both our time and theirs when they leave."
"What makes you so sure they'll leave?"
>"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."
>She has a point
>So do pencils, and yet they still have erasers in case of mistakes!
>Suit yourself, I'm just the narrator
>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
"I thought you weren't the one who was supposed to have ideas in this."
>Twilight huffs a bit before responding
>"Fine, I'll hold my tongue and just say 'yes ma'am' to everything."
>You're also going to disregard the sarcasm laced into there
"'Yes sir' would be preferred if you really insist on the extra formality. Now, I believe we have a public service announcement to write."
>A few minutesof walking and drafting later, both you and Twilight are back in Celestia's office on more official business
"... So that's the plan that Twilight and I have at this point. Can you put out that announcement for me?"
>Celestia closes her eyes, sighs, and then leans over her desk again to look at you
[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]
>You stare her right in the eyes as you announce your answer
[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]
>You think back to the previous conversation where you were first put in charge of all this mess
"Actually, you never mentioned it."
>Celestia's exasperation sublimates into surprise at hearing this
[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]
>Okay then, slight change of plans given the effective blank check you've been given
>What those slight changes will amount to by the end of it all, you're not sure
>However, at least you won't be worrying about funds for this!
"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."
[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]
"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."
>Celestia nods in agreement, returning to her now significantly smaller stack of papers as you and Twilight make your exit
>As soon as the door's closed for the second time, you speak to your purple guardian
"Please tell me I'm not completely brainless."
>Once again, Twilight's taken aback by your bluntness, this time directed at yourself
>"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!"
"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?"
>"You're the boss. So, what else needs planning?"
>Quite a few things, if you remember correctly
>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...
"I'll organize my ideas on the way back to the room."
>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
>Once you two have resumed your respective positions, you lay out your hallway thoughts to her
"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."
>Twilight's eyes flash to a clipboard she's holding, presumably with notes of what was said before, before rising back to yours
>"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."
>You sigh through gritted teeth at the mention of that point
"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?"
>"It wouldn't be against the law if they signed a contract."
"It would still be immoral though, so I'm not changing that."
>"Then what will happen after it all falls through?"
"Well, Chrissy told me that the backup plan from when I was at the hive with her is still valid."
>Twilight pauses and sighs briefly as she shuts her eyes for a moment
>"I had forgotten about that, thank you for putting that image back into my head."
"Sorry about that, but it's a legitimate idea that Chrissy thinks can work, so why not use it?"
>"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."
"Then what would you suggest?"
>"I'm not the one in charge here, remember? I can only advise you on a plan C, not give you one."
>This shit again!
>She's willing to go so far as to correct you, but not actually give you an idea to work with?
>The fuck, dude?!
"Then when's your brother coming to town next?"
"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."
>You let out a small giggle at Twilight's expense as she tries (and fails) to stop her face from flushing in frustration
>After another moment, she finally just takes a few deep breaths before responding
>"I'll have you know he required medical treatment after that. Besides, aren't we supposed to be serious right now?"
"What made treatment necessary?"
>"Exhaustion, dehydration, extreme magical fatigue, mild delirium, and newfound trust issues."
>Well, now you feel a little bad
"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."
>"Now you know. So, plan C?"
>This may require some thought
>It may also require some more questions being passed by Chrissy
"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?"
>"As long as he has a name and a face, he should be able to do it. Why do you ask?"
"Because plan C might require asking some more questions."
>"Fair enough. Any beginnings to ideas yet?"
"No, not yet. I think we've about covered all we can for this topic though, so how about we move on?"
>"Alright, what's the next order of business?"
"The tests and where to hold them."
>"I'll handle that. Next?"
"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?"
>"Really, the only place we could run media ads is newspapers. There are other methods too, but the media angle's pretty limited."
"How effective do you think the newspaper ads would be?"
>Twilight tilts her head to the ceiling and rubs a hoof against her chin before looking back to you
>"I'd say it would give us a decent sample size."
"Are there any other methods you think would be better?"
>A few more seconds tick by as Twilight goes back to her thoughts
>"No, not particularly."
"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."
>Twilight finishes scribbling your plan into her notes, then sets aside the clipboard
>"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."
>Good, all this thinking has left you a little worn out
>And hey, the bright side of losing your bag on the train is that you don't have to repack it!
>Well, as long as the interdimensional tentacle monster currently molesting your belongings hasn't strewn them about whatever hellscape it calls home
>No, you're still not over that
>Either way, you let Twilight do her thing with packing
>You offered to help, but she had it done before you could finish the sentence
>After that, the rest of the day is free!
"So, what now?"
>"Not sure. Is there anything you'd like to do?"
>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
>You should probably think about that
>Well, you would if a letter hadn't appeared before the both of you in a plume of green fire
>"I wonder what took Spike this long to get back to us?"
"I dunno, open it up and see."
>Twilight follows your recommendation as you're saying it and begins reading the letter to herself
>After a few seconds, she re-rolls it and tosses it into her bag
>"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."
>Your stuff's home safe and sound, untouched by dimension-hopping monster kleptomaniacs
>"So, back to my question. Anything you want to do?"
"Not really, no."
>"Nothing it is!"
>Normally you'd be fine with nothing, but you also normally have some electronic on you to help kill time
"But before we do that, is there anything you'd like to do?"
>Twilight takes your question into consideration before coming to an answer in short time
>"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."
"Fuck it, let's do that."
>You exhale rather loudly in response before following Twilight out of the room and off to your next order of business
>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
>Now that you know the pieces, you can actually play!
>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
>She's probably just trying to find the best way to go easy on you, no wonder you actually seem to be winning
>Around the time you win your first game, Twilight decides that it's time to pack up shop
>As such, you say your goodbyes to your friends and follow Twilight back to your room
>When she gets there, she places the books she checked out and papers on a small table before sighing to nobody in particular
>"There's a lot wrong in these books... Well, I guess I'll just have to set it right."
"Gonna write a book, are you?"
>Twilight turns to face you
>"Yeah, is there something wrong?"
"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?"
>Twilight considers your offer before responding to you
>"Sure, my questioning only really focused on biological matters, so input on the social ones would help greatly."
"Okay, but we're splitting the profits 50/50 and I'm getting my name on the cover too."
>"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."
"15% and the back cover along with proper credits."
>"Deal. I hope you don't mind there being no profits, since this'll be for educational purposes."
"Why does the educational aspect make it free?"
>"Because that wouldn't be fair to those wanting to learn."
>Twilight narrows her eyes at you as she prepares her followup
>"Don't tell me that they actually make students pay for the opportunity to grow their minds where you come from."
>Time to let her down easy
"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."
>"Those poor humans. At least they're fixing the problem, right?"
"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."
>"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."
>Oh yeah, she's technically not legal as a human
"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?"
>Twilight shrugs at you over an anatomy book
>"If I knew, then I'd probably also know how to completely negate the transformation to begin with and make it a moot point."
>Now it's your turn to shrug, but you do it in a way that shows indifferent acceptance rather than confusion
>"Anyway, where were we? Right, changeling book."
>Twilight turns to you again and levitates down some paper and a pencil to you without taking her eyes off her work
>"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."
>After that, Twilight goes back fully to what she was doing, leaving you to write down the events of those fateful few days
>It goes rather fast, thanks to your slowly-improving memory, and you give the filled pages to Twilight when you finish
>She looks through the papers you gave her before returning her gaze to you
>"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."
"Cool, does that mean I get credit in the book or not?"
>"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."
>Can't be, you're still feeling fine!
>Time to assert your dominance through your correctness by looking out the window...
>Pull back the drapes, and-
>-And the moon's silently judging you from its perch in the sky again
"Fair point. I guess it's goodnight, then."
>Twilight puts away all of your and her papers before turning off the light
>You both get comfortable in bed and pass the night in unconscious silence
>. . .
>Your dreams also pass uneventfully, with more chess lessons and Luna demonstrating her full ability to you
>Somehow, she managed to beat you in literally two turns [s]fun fact, that's actually possible![/s]
>After suffering this brutal defense, you decide that the pace of regular chess is just too slow
>Time for a redesign!
>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!
>After all, in real wars all the troops can move and act independently of each other
>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?
>Fuck it, why not just make this full ChessHammer and start giving pieces toughness and wounds, too?
>Because that would ruin the full spirit of chess instead of making it more realistic, that's why
>Well, you could at least take your less frankenstein-y ideas and tell Luna
>"That's a horrible idea."
>"Let's try a round and I'll show you, I'll start."
>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
>Now, it's your turn!
>Let's see if that late mover advantage can work in your favor here
>... Nope, you're in just about the same position as her, only now it's her turn again
>With a few decisive movements, Luna clears half of your side of the table before gearing up to decimate the other half
>"I'm ending my turn now so you can at least attempt to fight back."
>You look over the board, surveying what you have left
>A few scattered pawns, a knight, both bishops, and your king
>You can work with this, right?
>Yeah, you probably can!
>Ignore the fact that I know even less about chess than you do, you got this!
>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
>Luna surveys the board for a second before resetting the board to starting positions
>"I'm sure you realized I was going to win anyways, but can you guess why?"
"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."
>"Good, you're learning. One thing I'd like to know though, is what gave you that idea to begin with?"
"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."
>"So a more standard war game?"
"... Yeah, pretty much."
>"Then why don't we play one of those? I know a few and have gotten fairly good at them, that could be fun."
"Okay, but I warn you: I only really know how to play one game. Do you have anything like Warhammer 40K here?"
>"The name doesn't ring any bells, try describing some of the mechanics."
>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
"... And that's it. I guess you don't know it."
>"I suppose not, but that's no reason for us to not still play it. Why not teach me?"
"Probably because it would take a long time, and I'm not too sure how long this dream will last."
>Luna glances downward in thought, considering what you've said, before igniting her horn
>After a few more moments, her horn stops glowing and she looks back to you
>"We've got about a minute of real time, which means about an hour of dream time. What can you do in an hour?"
>You consider what you know about 40K in terms of setting and rules before making a decision
"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."
>Luna considers her options carefully, taking a couple of seconds to make her decision
>"Let's hear the lore, it's never a bad thing to start with."
>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
"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."
>Good start, let's keep it going
"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."
>"How rude, why would they not give them help?"
"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."
>This is taking a bit of a while, maybe hurry it up?
>I'm trying, but this isn't too easy!
"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."
>Luna's eyes widen as your description goes further into the realm of violence still largely unheard of by ponies
"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."
>A small sigh passes from her lungs, coupled by a slight relaxation of her expression
"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!
>Alright, time for a massive timesaving skip!
"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."
>"What's a shaman?"
"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."
>Luna nods and signals for you to keep going
"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."
>This is where luna cuts you off again
>"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?"
"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."
>"So they're manifestations of the galaxy's emotions given immense power and sentience?"
"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!"
>"Wait, how far into the future is this all?"
"Around 23 to 27 thousand years."
>"So he's been around for 33,000ish years at this point?"
"I probably neglected to mention that he's both immortal and the most powerful psychic in the galaxy."
>"That would explain it."
"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."
>Luna's eyes begin to widen even more in anticipation of what's to come
"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."
>Her expression changes to minor disappointment
>"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."
"Don't worry, there's good reason behind why they only stole the primarchs that we'll get to soon. Now-"
>"Actually, we're almost out of time for this dream; we'll have to continue tomorrow."
"Really? This soon?"
>"I can feel the change coming, I estimate another minute of our time."
"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!"
>"And I'm looking forward to it. Until then!"
>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
>. . .
>The morning begins anew with Twilight nudging you awake to keep with scheduling, so nothing new
>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
>Doing some math based on past trips, you estimate a four-hour journey back, so you should be home at around 2
>A perfect amount of time for you to check your stuff when you get to it and make sure nothing was taken
>Twilight's probably also going to make you do whatever homework you have to do too, but that shouldn't take too long
>After that, it's down to supervising Twilight as she does what she needs to get your plan into motion properly
>Some hours and many passing thoughts later, you and Twilight have returned to Ponyville!
>The trip back to the castle is over in a flash too, quite literally
>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
[o]>"A little warning would be great next time!"[/o]
>"Sorry about that, Spike, I didn't expect you would be right here."
[o]>"Just don't blind-teleport around like that anymore, one of these days you're going to put yourself inside something."[/o]
>"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."
[o]>"Well it still scares ponies, so it's not a good idea."[/o]
>"Noted. Now, how were things while we were gone?"
[o]>"Not bad, nothing interesting to report."[/o]
>Spike soon retracts that statement, however
[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]
>Fucking clumsy dragon, can't be trusted with anything
"Don't worry, as long as nothing broke or got lost it's fine."
[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]
>And with that, Spike makes his exit
"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."
>Twilight nods in affirmation before adding one more thing
>"Also, don't forget to work on a plan C."
"Got it, I'll see what I can come up with."
>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
>However, your first order of business is actually seeing if any of your shit is broken or not
>Your clothes are fine, albeit wrinkled
>Hitler and Aryanne are still in good condition
>Your phone's case took the majority of the fall, seeing as the phone itself has no cracks and turns on fine
>The charger and magitech generator are also still okay
>Cool, everything's still in working order
>You also look through your bag and find the homework Twilight packed for you
>Nope, you didn't do it on the train up
>Guess it's a good thing you set aside time now for it!
>A few minutes and a couple of minor history headaches later, it's all done
>Good, now for the main thing you have to deal with!
>You search your nightstand for any spare papers that you haven't written all over, but find none
>Looks like you gotta check elsewhere...
>Think, where would there be paper around here?
>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
>You head down to the basement, and sure enough, purple junior's there
>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
>At least you were somewhat expecting it those other times...
>But anyway, you've gotten back to business with a new comic that the comic store owner recommended to you
>You never were one for the more graphic side of things, but a few blood drops really do add some extra realism to fights
>Your art appreciation is paused by the entrance of a small green horse to your room, though
[o]>"Sup Spike, mind telling me where I can find some paper?"[/o]
"Sure, what for?"
[o]>"Writing a letter, I'm also going to need you to send it too, if that's not too much trouble."[/o]
"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."
>You get up from your chair and lead Anon back up the stairs
>To break up the silence of the trip to get paper, you decide to ask some questions
>"Hey uh, I hope you don't mind me asking, but what was that stuff you packed in the suitcase?"
>An answer doesn't immediately come
>In fact, it takes a while for an answer to come
[o]>"Sentimental things, mainly. I get it seems weird, but there are personal reasons for me keeping all of it close."[/o]
>Weird answer, but you'll take it
>"Mind if I ask what they are? I haven't seen anything like them before, so I'm just wondering."
>Again, it takes an odd amount of time to get an answer
[o]>"I'd tell you, but it's less confusing for me to not."[/o]
>Now you're starting to get a bit more confused
>Confusion isn't really helping you though, so let's just put that all aside and change the subject
"Alright. On a different note, mind if I ask who the letter's for?"
[o]>"Do you want to know now, or when I'm done with it?"[/o]
"I kinda have to know if I'm going to be sending it, so why not now?"
[o]>"Fair point. Don't say I didn't warn you, but it's for Chrysalis."[/o]
>And you do, right where you stand
>While organizing your thoughts, you slowly turn to face the pony behind you
[o]>"I hate to say it again, but it would be less confusing for me to not tell you."[/o]
"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."
[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]
"And why would that be?"
[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]
>Yeah, but then Twilight just said that she was fillynapped
>Either way, you maintain an expression of skepticism and nod
[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]
"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?"
>You add that on almost sarcastically
>Almost, because you were still expecting the answer Anon gives you
[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]
>You close your eyes, pinch the bridge of your snout, and sigh in defeat
"Fine, I'll stop asking about it. I don't like it, but I'll stop asking."
>You're not promising to not think about it though, especially since you're not sure if you could stop yourself from doing so
[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]
"Yeah, I'll keep it to myself..."
[o]>"Cool! Now, the paper?"[/o]
>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
>Spike finally leads you to the supply closet, which you mentally mark down the location of for later
>You get your stationery and head back to your room with Spike in tow, thinking about what you should write on the way
>It would probably be a good idea to start off with a professional opening and leave the casualty for the end, if any
>Hm, maybe something along the lines of 'Dear Chrysalis, I would like to ask for your assistance in-'
>Nah, too long to get to the point
>Maybe 'I would like your input on-'
>Better, but can we do even better?
>You think on it for a minute and get close a few times, but nothing improves on the lead you already have
>Oh well, you're in your room now and your pen is right where you left it!
>So, you get to work
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.
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.
Kindest regards, Anonymous"
>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
"You got this, right?"
>Spike lets out an irritated sigh before grabbing the letter
[o]>"I'm not sure whether it's better if I do or don't."[/o]
"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."
>That gets his attention
[o]>"Even the princesses are mixed up in this?"[/o]
"Yeah, so don't disappoint me so that I don't disappoint them, please."
>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
[o]>"You do realize that you've only given me more questions, right?"[/o]
"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!"
[o]>"No problem, I guess..."[/o]
>Spike takes his leave, leaving more confused than when he entered, if that's even possible
>Don't worry Spike, you'll learn something to help ease the confusion soon enough!
>Right when the papers get around to putting out the results of yesterday's happenings
>Back to more important matters at hoof, though!
>Stupid horse body, subverting your proud human mind
>Either way though, time to go find Twilight and report on the letter
>It's a shame Spike already left, you could've asked him where she is
>But hey, you know where he's going, so you can probably catch up to him if you hurry!
>You dash back out of your room and see him about halfway down the hall
"Hey, one last thing: do you know where Twilight is?"
>He turns to face you before pointing farther down the hall
[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]
>And with that, he resumes his journey back to his basement
>And you are left to accomplish your task once again
>Well, it won't solve itself and waiting now won't help you either
>But the question is, do you even know where her room or her office is?
>Wait, you remember a specific moment where this would be extremely useful!
>Yeah, that time you wandered into Twilight's room while trying to find your own!
>Now, what route did you actually take...?
>After wandering for longer than you would've liked, you find Twilight's room again and this time note it down for sure
>Too bad she's not in here though, that cuts things down
>Well, the next place you know of is the lab
>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
>Of course, they're closed
>Dang, now how are you going to figure out if she's in there?
>Well, that's probably a good place to start
>You press an ear against the doors, hoping to hear anything that would tell you whether Twilight's there or not
>Nothing but the sound of your own blood circulating, dang
>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
>Now you have to find the one spot you were hoping she wasn't!
>There is a way to find out where it is, though
>The question is, do you really want to bother Spike for the third time in the span of a few minutes?
>Well, would you rather spend an hour wandering the castle?
>You make the short trip back to the basement and find Spike exactly where you found him the first time
"Hey uh, sorry to bother you yet again, but where's Twilight's office?"
>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
[o]>"It's fine, I'll show you."[/o]
>And with that, you're once again following the dragon to your destination
>Along the way, another attempt at conversation is made by Spike
[o]>"So, why do you need to see Twilight so badly?"[/o]
"She wanted me to send that letter, so I'm telling her that I did."
[o]>"Should I even bother asking more?"[/o]
>Not too sure
"Well, it depends on what you want to ask."
[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]
"Last I checked, she isn't. Also, before you ask, none of the princesses are either."
[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]
>You know, he does make a fair point
>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
"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."
>All of a sudden, it seems that a set of gears finally clicked into place in Spike's mind
[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]
"That help clear things up?"
[o]>"A bit, but I'm still very confused about almost everything else you told me earlier."[/o]
"Eh, don't worry; that's perfectly natural."
>It's around this moment that conversation peters out, but luckily you aren't far off from the office!
>You have been noting down how to get here, right?
>Good, we don't want you getting mixed up again on another important task
[o]>"Need me to stick around again?"[/o]
>Well, you're pretty sure you can get back to your room without any issues, so that won't be a problem
>You're not sure if Twilight will go into any confidential matters here, but it might not be wise to risk it
"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."
[o]>"Geez, I wasn't that annoyed by it."[/o]
"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."
[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]
"Fair enough, but I'll still try to stay out of your scales."
[o]>"Cool, and I'll keep my door open in case you can't."[/o]
>And with that, you and Spike part ways, with you opening the door and him leaving for the basement a third time
>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
"Hey, how are things?"
>"Not bad, I've almost got the athletic test prototype designed and I've got the mental aptitude tests finished. What's up?"
"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."
>"That's good, I assume you had Spike send it?"
"Yeah, he wasn't too happy about it or the fact that I wouldn't tell him why I was writing it, though."
>"Oh well, as long as you didn't reveal too much to him."
"You're not mind-wiping him again."
>"If he figures out what's going on, he might need it."
"As project director, I'm ordering you to not mind-wipe him."
>"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?"
"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."
>Twilight finally looks up to you and raises an eyebrow suspiciously
>However, you know you're in the right here, so you easily stand up to her challenge
>"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."
"Then I'll leave it to you!"
>And that's it!
>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!
>You're back in your room with the comic book, but something doesn't sit right with you
>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
>Anon gets foalnapped, comes back a few days later, and tells you that the events are classified
>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
>Now, Anon and Twilight have just gotten back from Canterlot apparently to help make peace between Equestria and the Badlands?
>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
>But why would they be going there?
>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)
>But then where did all this come from?
>It has to have something to do with Anon getting foalnapped, seeing as that was dubbed classified by her both then and now
>And given that it's changelings that are causing you all this concern, they probably had something to do with it
>If Anon was really taken by changelings, then how did they get to Ponyville and why did they take her?
>Well, knowing changelings, they probably got here under disguises to spy on ponies, but then why did they take Anon?
>Did she figure out what they were?
>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?
>Anon was right, this is confusing to think about
>If only you had some other piece, something that would patch a hole somewhere and just tell you everything you need to know!
>Think, maybe there's something farther back that you missed?
>Something from before?
>Let's see, from when Anonymous first got here:
>Introduction to the town
>Starting school here
>Accompanying Twilight on that trip to Canterlot
>Looking back on it, that's definitely somewhat out of place
>A decent place to start looking, maybe?
>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?
>Why did Twilight have to go to Canterlot anyway?
>You're not sure, but it was certainly a last-minute decision, given it happened only a couple of days later
>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
>Either this filly is Marephy's Law incarnate, or something's not quite right with her
>Well, of course something's not right with her with all that weird stuff she-
>You bolt upright at your sudden realisation, pieces all starting to fall together into a coherent picture
>Those things she brought in her suitcase?
>That thing she always brings with her?
>A phone, she even told you that much!
>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!
>Yeah, Anonymous said she was a fan of humans, but why would she have both a set of human clothes and a WORKING PHONE?
>How were you this dumb to not see it?
>Anonymous is a human, but how did she get here?
>Waitwaitwait, slow down a bit
>Humans aren't exactly as you've seen in your comics, Twilight could tell you that easily
>So then why are you automatically assuming that Anon's a human like you know them?
>Unless something happened that caused one to come into existence here, like an experiment gone wrong or something, they should still be largely fictional
>It feels like something blocked off inside your head is being released
>Wait, is this a thought or a memory?
>Either way, you might want to hear it out
>It's you cleaning up in the lab after that one set of experiments that made that massive sooty mess
>You're picking up a folder and a bunch of stray papers that you can't quite read
>On the back of one paper it says something about a connection being established, and that Anonymous should be told about it
>You put the folder and its contents together and back on a table before going to your room
>You're there for a while before Twilight shows up, bleary-eyed and asks you about it
>You answer, then she apologizes to you, ignites her horn, and then you completely drop all knowledge of what happened
>Did Twilight mind-wipe you?
>Was you seeing that all it took?
>Holy Faust, if this is a real memory, then you're completely right!
>You've figured it out, all thanks to Twilight improperly performing a mind-wipe in her sleep-deprived state!
>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!
>That still doesn't explain how peace was formed, but it explains how things got to that point!
>But there's still one more hurdle
>But is it worth another potential mind-wipe?
>Well, even if you get mind-wiped again, then you're just back at square one
>Maybe even without any hope of getting the knowledge back
>But if that happens, then it won't concern you anyway, so why does it matter?
>You've got to get a firm answer before you go crazy from thinking anymore
>You've got to confirm your theory
>You've got to confront Anonymous
>Ah, to be free of responsibilities, even if only for an afternoon!
>Too bad you still don't have a computer or even an internet connection
>Otherwise, you'd be tearing it up in CSGay or something
>Why'd you even think of Counterstrike?
>You don't even play it, the most interaction you've had with it is meme videos!
>Eh, there's a first for everything
>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
>Well, it would be shut down if not for a sudden disturbance at your door
[o]>"Hey, uh... I have a question."[/o]
>Wait, why's Spike here?
>You sit up off your bed and turn towards the dragon standing in the doorway before replying
"I have an answer."
>Spike turns around and closes the door behind him before moving over to your side, you positioning yourself to better face him
>You look at him expectantly when he remains silent, but he just beckons for you to lean in closer
>You're already this far up, let's just oblige him
[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]
>Huh, it feels kind of weird being on the receiving end of a condition like this
"Sure, ask away."
[o]>"Say it. I cannot stress this enough."[/o]
>Wow, it must be serious
>What, did he somehow put together what you really are?
"I promise not to tell Twilight, okay?"
>The dragon nods to himself before taking a deep breath and steeling himself
>What, does he want to ask you out or something?
>Nah fam, you ain't gay
>Or are you?
>Well, gay in body, straight in mind
>Whatever that means for you is still up in the air, but oh well
[o]>"Are you a human?"[/o]
>oh shit lmao
>We might need to take a few steps back and recheck that question
[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]
>Defcon 1, it's happening
>Well, do you tell the truth?
>Do you brush it all off?
>Let's see what brought him to this conclusion and try to debunk it, maybe?
"What makes you think that?"
[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]
>Fuck, he's got a solid case against you
>Can you even poke any holes in it?
>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
>... Fuck, it may just be time to bite the bullet
"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!"
>Spike immediately loses all focus for a moment as his mind puts it all together
[o]>"So... I'm not crazy? You aren't just messing with me?"[/o]
"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."
>Spike spends another few dumbfounded moments staring at you before organizing another coherent statement
[o]>"Dude, what's it like there?!"[/o]
"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."
[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]
"Do you want me to actually say that?"
>Just as Spike was recovering from his stupor, he's put right back in it
[o]>"You don't mean..."[/o]
"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."
>Spike goes silent again for a while before finally coming to a more reasonable state
[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]
"It depends, do you want to risk more chances at getting mindwiped?"
>The dragon puts a claw to his chin as he thinks for a moment
[o]>"If I do get mindwiped again, will you fill me back in?"[/o]
"Nah, I'm not sure how happy Twilight would be about this to begin with let alone if it kept happening."
[o]>"That's fair, I'll just be careful about when and where I ask you things. Sound good?"[/o]
"It's your choice, m8."
[o]>"Alright. Then... I'll see you later?"[/o]
>With that, Spike returns to his basement and you return to your position on the bed
>Twilight's gonna fucking end you if-
>-WHEN she finds out
>Odds are she will, and it's only a matter of time
>Well, you'd better stick with Spike just in case she gets to him first and decides to blank him again
>You grab your phone and head out, your path clear and your goal in mind
>And soon enough, you make it down to the basement and find him there
"Nothing yet, I'm just here to shield you from Twilight when she finds out about what happened."
>Spike bolts upright and somehow goes pale through his scales
"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."
[o]>"So she really did mind-wipe me that one time?"[/o]
"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."
[o]>"Well, it's nice to know that you're on my side here."[/o]
"Yeah, I'm a big fan of letting people keep their memories."
>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
[o]>"You know, I just remembered something."[/o]
>You glance over somewhat expectantly at the dragon, waiting for him to continue
[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]
"That is a bit odd, huh."
[o]>"So, what are you up to on there?"[/o]
"Scrolling through saved memes, nothing too interesting."
[o]>"What's a meme?"[/o]
>What [i]is[/i] a meme?
"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."
[o]>"That... doesn't explain much."[/o]
"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."
[o]>"I think it might be better to show me an example over trying to explain it."[/o]
"Okay, let me just find a few that you might get."
>Hm, what should Babby's First Meme be?
>Well, he knows a decent bit about the geopolitical climate of Earth, maybe a few memeballs to get him going?
>Yeah, that seems like a decent idea
>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
"Here, this should start you out."
>He grabs the phone and begins to read the first meme
>After a moment of reading though, he asks you a question
[o]>"How do I go to the next one?"[/o]
>Spike then spends another minute scrolling through the memes you picked before handing the phone back to you
[o]>"Not bad. Not my taste, but not bad. Got any more?"[/o]
"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."
[o]>"Oh. Never mind, then."[/o]
"Really? You don't even want to see them?"
[o]>"Nah, I probably wouldn't get them and it would just come off as weird to me."[/o]
>You shrug in response and take your phone back, going back to where you left off in your memes
>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
>So far, you've narrowed down the possibilities of what it could be from the apparent amount of time it's been active
>It's been up for certainly a while, around a week or so
>Maybe if you narrowed it down to a certain day, that would help?
>You really wish you could implement more detail into these things other than 'something happened,' but that would require completely reworking the spell
>Oh well, that's an idea for later
>For now, however, figure out when the alert was set!
>Let's see, it was...
>Now let's see, what happened on Tuesday that you would've set an alert for?
>You look back to that day, but find that you can't remember much due to your sleep-deprived state that day
>Your sleep-deprived state may have just keyed you in
>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
>And you just happen to remember a certain spell that you casted that day that works worse the less mental stability you have
>Spike just got some memories back, and it's something you tried to cover up
>He can either take it one of two ways, though
>Either treat it like an intrusive thought, or treat it like a forgotten memory
>Knowing him, he'd probably go with the latter
>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
>Looks like you'll have to go to him instead!
>Be Anonymous again
>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
>Spike is also shaken out of his comic, turning to face the newcomer to the room with a fair amount of surprise
>"Hey Spike, do you mind if we talk for a minute?"
[o]>"... About what?"[/o]
>"Just something that I'd like to check in with you about, it'll be over quickly. Now, just-"
"Twilight, no. You're not doing this again."
>The mare turns to face you, now seeing that you're in the room too
>"What would I be doing? I just want to talk to him, that's it."
"I don't know how you figured it out this quickly, but you're not mind-wiping him again."
>Twilight goes silent for a few seconds as she stares at you, eventually coming up with a reply
>"You wouldn't be saying that if he didn't know something to warrant it. What's going on?"
>You turn to Spike and cast him a glance as he returns one to you
"Well, she clearly knows already, so should we just tell her anyway?"
[o]>"Now she does..."[/o]
>The dragon sighs before continuing
[o]>"I guess there's no harm in it now, go ahead."[/o]
>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
"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."
>"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!"
"And? That doesn't justify wiping Spike's mind, and one of those 'evil' entities already found out and things are still completely fine."
>"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!"
"Twilight, that's not going to happen. Want to know how I know?"
"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!"
>Twilight's shoulders slump and she sighs as she drops to the floor
>"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?"
"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!"
>Twilight stands back up and nods before continuing
>"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?"
"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."
>"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."
"I will. So, you alright now?"
>Twilight takes a deep breath and nods before turning to Spike
>"The same goes for you too, don't expose anything unless you have to. Got it?"
[o]>"So you're not going to wipe my mind again?"[/o]
>"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?"
>"Then I'm going to leave now, unless either of you has anything else you'd like to say."
[o]>"Does this mean Anon can tell me about what's going on with he- him and the changelings?"[/o]
>Twilight looks expectantly towards you, prompting you to answer
"I don't see why he shouldn't know at this point, sure."
>"Alright, anything else?"
>You and Spike exchange another glance before giving a negative, so Twilight takes her leave
[o]>"So, what [i]is[/i] happening with you and the changelings?"[/o]
>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
>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
[o]>"Dang, remind me to apologize for that when we see her again."[/o]
"Sure, no problem. Anyway, that's about it. Anything else you want to know?"
[o]>"Yeah, what's that 'Plan B' you mentioned for helping Chrysalis repopulate her hive?"[/o]
"I'd rather keep that to myself, given the sensitive nature of that plan."
[o]>"Ok, I won't press it."[/o]
"Anything else besides that?"
>Spike thinks to himself for a few more moments, before finally shaking his head
"Cool, you mind if I head back to my room now that everything's been defused?"
[o]>"Not at all."[/o]
"Okay then, I'll see you at dinner."
>Spike waves to you as you exit the basement, heading back up to your room to kill time again
>However, after an uneventful dinner and a few more hours of wasted time, you run out of time to waste
>. . .
>When you come to, you are inside a colosseum with a table sat in the direct center of it
>Oh, yeah, the winner-takes-whatever-is-offered finale of you and Luna duking it out in small 40K matches
>Well, it seems she isn't here yet, so let's see if we can make things a bit more theatrical, shall we?
>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
>Now, how do you do that?
>Well, a good start might be to imagine the place where you spawned in as a box in the dream
>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
>After that, you set a pressure plate set to activate other dream happenings when it's triggered by her appearance directly under the box
>Well, now all that's left is for you to get into your own position!
>So you do
>Now, all that's left to do is to wait!
>And you do
>All the way until a voice calls out from behind you
>"Is there any particular reason why you're just standing here?"
>Your shoulders immediately slump and you turn around disappointed in your abilities
"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!"
>"What signal? And what did you mean by a mechanism?"
"Just wait, it'll all become clear soon."
>And with that, you step backwards and teleport yourself over onto the pressure plate, setting it all in motion (slightly) as planned!
>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!
[o]>"LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, HUMAN AND PONY ALIKE, WELCOME TO THE FINAL BATTLE FOR THE FATE OF THE IMPERIUM! HERE, THE IMPERIAL FISTS TAKE ON THE THOUSAND SONS IN A HIGH-OCTANE, FAST-PACED FRENZY OF ACTION THE LIKES OF WHICH HAVEN'T BEEN SEEN SINCE THE HORUS HERESY ITSELF! REPRESENTING THE IMPERIAL FISTS, MISTER ANONYMOUS FROM EARTH! REPRESENTING THE THOUSAND SONS, PRINCESS LUNA OF EQUESTRIA! REPRESENTATIVES, PLEASE TAKE YOUR PLACES!"[/o]
>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
>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
>After a sigh, she also walks over to the table and looks up at you with lidded eyes and a smirk
>"When I said to build suspense, I didn't mean to go to all these lengths just for us two."
"I had time, I decided to use it. Besides, I thought it was cool!"
>"Well, it certainly set the mood for the night. So, how are we settling this?"
>Well, there are still two options for what can be done
>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)
>You summon in a coin and flip it, heads is option one and tails is option two
>Right as you catch the coin in your fist, Luna stops you
>"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?"
>Huh, noted for later
"Yeah, that would probably be a better idea. Go ahead!"
>Upon saying that, you turn your head away and open your fist, allowing Luna to find the true result
>"It's tails, what does that mean?"
"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."
>"Sounds good, let's play!"
>The table is once again set and the minis are summoned, time to see how this goes!
>Be Sergeant Decius of the Imperial Fists
>You're stationed here with your squad, guarding this imperial outpost
>It's a good thing the fists can't lose when it comes to fortifying a defense point, right?
>You and your brothers stand guard over this outpost defending the Imperial supply line supplying this world's war effort
>Suddenly, your radar starts pinging a fat pile of alien contacts
>You and your brothers peek your heads out of your various enforcements to see what's going on outside
>Be Sorcerer Azoth of the Thousand Sons
>You and your Rubricae have been sent in to deal with this section of loyalist forces, nothing too hard hopefully
>As you get closer to the site of your attack, you realize something
>Those are Imperial Fist fortifications
>Fucking Abaddon, sending us to the shit areas!
>Oh well, it looks like only a small number
>Something you and your Rubricae should be able to deal with somewhat easily... You hope
>Be Sergeant Decius
>Fucking sorcerors are trying to siege your position!
>Your men are fighting tooth and nail to hold their positions, and are doing quite well
>No casualties thus far, the only thing you have to worry about right now is how much ammunition you all have on hand
>There is no objective the Fists can't hold!
>Be Sorceror Azoth
>These Fists are heavily entrenched... It'll take a small miracle to get them out
>Luckily, miracles happen to be the specialty of your patron god!
>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
>As the spell is cast, you feel the light upon you!
>Well, in you
>Your body explodes as your soul is brought to your patron deity, leaving in your place a daemon!
>Not just any daemon either, somehow a fucking Lord of Change has entered the battlefield!
>It seems the miracle has arrived, and not a moment too soon...
>Be Sergeant Decius
>THAT IS A FUCKING LORD OF CHANGE
>You and your men scramble to more defensive positions, but you're not sure what else can be done
>It's only another two minutes before reinforcements arrive, but can you all last that long?
>Yeah, the fists can hold any objective, but not when the fight isn't a fair one!
>Either way, hold this position is what you must do, so you will
>Be Rubricae #213 stationed under Sorceror Azoth (now deceased)
>Things seem to be going well, at least from your limited knowledge
>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
>Uh... Carry on as planned?
>Sure, that's a good idea
>You lead by example, letting the Lord of Change do as it pleases since you can't really stop it
>Hopefully somebody qualified takes control from you after this...
>Be Sergeant Decius
>It's no use, that Lord of Change has somehow managed to overrun all of your positions singlehandedly
>You give the order to retreat, you all will have to regroup with the reinforcements to break this hold
>Hopefully with your combined might this clog in the line will be cleared, but if not...
>If not, the world is lost
>Be Thianas, Lord of Change
>Some idiot sorceror blew up his own mind to bring you here, you might as well humor his desires while you're here
>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
>You just firmly lost, sheerly for the stupid luck of Luna rolling to summon a greater daemon from a warp peril
"Well, you won. I guess the dice just weren't in my favor today. GG anyway, though."
>"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?"
"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?"
>"Sure, that sounds like it'll add quite a bit to the gameplay!"
>She has no idea how broken some vehicles can be
>And you're gonna teach her through demonstration!
>Not now, though
>Now is merely the time to let her get experienced with the vehicles themselves
>So that's what you do for the remainder of the dream!
>. . .
>Take a shit
>Get out of bed
>Not in that order
>Go to school
>Progress on things?
>Fuck around some more
>Go to bed
>Such is life when waiting
>. . .
>Huh, no dream tonight
Hey Luna, are you still here?
>Guess that's a fat no
>Time to turn off the consciousness again!
>. . .
>Go to school
>Go to room
>Spike comes into your room
>Place letter on table
>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!
>As expected, it's from Chrysalis
>Well, let's get to reading!
[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]
[p]>Dearest Regards, Chrysalis"[/p]
>Duly noted, you should probably bring this knowledge to Twilight
>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
>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
"Check out what came in the mail today!"
>"So I saw, what's the news?"
>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
"Read it and see."
>You wait patiently to see her reaction as she reads through it, her expression remaining motionless as her eyes cross the page
>After a few moments, Twilight sets down the (significantly drier) page and turns to you
>"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."
"Plan A.5 is to let Chrysalis handle it."
>"Are you sure that's the best idea?"
"I trust her judgement more than I trust my own, that's for sure."
>"And where does my judgement place in there?"
>Where does it place?
>On the one hoof- hand, Twilight is very frequently right
>On the other, when she's wrong, she's [i]wrong[/i]
"I guess if I had to place it, it would be simultaneously higher than Chrysalis and lower than my own."
>Twilight raises an eyebrow at this odd answer, waiting for you to explain further
>Noticing this, you elaborate on your line of thinking and receive an understanding nod in return
>"Yeah, that seems fair. So, where does this place you on heeding my advice here?"
>Twilight sighs briefly and shuffles some papers before responding
"Well, it's your decision to make. So, would you like to hear the progress made on Plan A today?"
"Sure, what's going on?"
>"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!"
"Fantastic news! So, do we have any idea of the number of applicants?"
>Twilight pulls open a drawer and levitates out a small pile of envelopes, all of them opened yet still containing their original contents
>"See for yourself."
>Twilight places the letters in front of you on the desk and returns to her own work
>You take the pile and start moving the letters around, counting them as you go
>... 29, 30, 31, 32, 33
>33 applicants so far, that's not bad at all!
"Alright, I like how many we've gotten here!"
>"I'm glad you're optimistic, at least."
"Are you not?"
>Twilight sighs again beofre turning to look you in the eyes
>"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."
>That is not something you took into consideration
"Then what numbers would you have been hoping for to get the best results?"
>"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."
"Okay, you didn't need to rub it in that hard."
>"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."
"That's also fair. So, what now?"
>Twilight considers the options for a moment before getting back to you
>"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."
>With that, her full attention returns to her desk and you go off to somewhere else
>That somewhere being the storage closet for some paper
>Time to send Chrysalis a reply!
>You bring the paper back to your desk and grab a pencil to start writing
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.
Best wishes, Anonymous."
>Fold that up, slap it in an envelope, and hand it off to Spike!
[o]>"So where's this one going?"[/o]
"Chrysalis again, it's a progress report on how well things are going so far."
>Spike grabs the letter and puffs it off in green fire, then turns to you and asks a question
[o]>"So, mind if I ask what the progress being reported is?"[/o]
"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."
[o]>"Do you still not want me asking about plan B?"[/o]
"You know what Plan A is supposed to do, right?"
[o]>"Yeah, find a stallion that Chrysalis can use to repopulate her hive."[/o]
"And now you know what I really am, right?"
[o]>"Yeah, a human."[/o]
"A male human, don't forget. How have you not managed to put that together by now?"
[o]>"But you don't have any magic, how are you supposed to help there?"[/o]
"... Do you not know how foals are made?"
>Spike starts acting defensive at this accusation, recoiling merely at the idea that he doesn't know
[o]>"What, do you think I'm really that dumb?"[/o]
"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?"
>This seems to diffuse a lttle bit of the tension, but not much
[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]
>This poor, poor boy...
"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."
>The dragon recoils again, this time in surprise
"Yeah. Also, mind if I ask how long ago you asked Twilight about this?"
>Spike thinks to himself for a minute, eyes flitting about as he sorts through memories
>After a few more moments though, he comes to an answer
[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]
"And how old are you now?"
>Well, if you remember your DnD dragon rules, a 20-year-old dragon is still technically a very small child
>However, you don't think it really took into account the comparable mental age to other living beings
>... Eh, Spike seems old enough to learn the truth
"I can tell you how it works for real if you want me to, or you can go ask Twilight. The choice is yours."
[o]>"I'll take what you say and line it up with what Twilight says, how about that?"[/o]
"It doesn't really matter to me since I can't stop you from doing that. Anyway, sex. Sex makes foals."
>The dragon's face goes blank for a few moments, absorbing what you just said, from the looks of it
>Oh, nevermind, that was the thousand-yard stare of utter confusion
"Ask Twilight, I guarantee she won't give you a straight answer but the look on her face will be priceless."
[o]>"Then what's the straight answer?"[/o]
"You take your dick, get it hard, stick it in the cunt of a girl you like, and instinct should take over from there."
>With that, you leave Spike standing there and looking down at himself to go back up to your room and screw around
>Well, you would, but that same dragon calls to you as you're walking away
[o]>"Can I ask some more questions?"[/o]
"You may ask one more question, make it a good one; I've got homework that I should do before I forget."
[o]>"What did you mean by 'a girl I like?'"[/o]
"You know, like how you like Rarity."
>Another flash of realization crosses his face before being quickly replaced by embarrassment
[o]>"What makes you think I like her?"[/o]
"I said I'd answer one question. See ya!"
>And with that, you leave for real
>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!
>Well, time to sleep until dinner
>. . .
>An undefined amount of time later, you're nudged conscious by a voice you recognize
>Well, better not leave Twilight without some sort of answer
"Eh, don't worry about it, it's probably fine."
>"I'm not here to get that kind of answer, what in tartarus did you tell Spike!?"
>THAT gets your attention
>You open your eyes and turn to face the upset alicorn staring down at you, face fully flushed magenta instead of the usual lavender
>You masterfully contain your laughter at this turn of events and instead answer back equally as masterfully
"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?"
>"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!"
>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
"I'd say it's pretty self-explanatory."
>"How does that come up in a conversation!"
"It came up since apparently you didn't tell him the right thing."
>"AND HOW DID THAT COME UP?"
>As Twilight's complexion goes from magenta further and further towards straight red, you're forced to let out a snort before you explode
"He wanted to know how I would fit into the planned Plan B, what was I supposed to do?"
>"I DON'T KNOW, TELL HIM TO ASK ME!"
"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!"
>"I would know that better than you, I hatched him myself!"
"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?"
>"He's still a baby by dragon standards!"
"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."
>Twilight sighs and glares at you through lidded eyes
>"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."
"That's fair. Is there any way I can help with that?"
>"Yeah. Go find Spike before he goes out and tells the entire world of his new discovery."
>And with that, Twilight teleports back down to her office and you're left alone in your room again, save for a new task
>Find the purple retard
>Well, you can think of one place to start
>You trot down to the basement, being sure to knock outside the door before going inside
>And it's empty
>Where else could he be?
>You wander up out of the basement, poking your head into every room you come across on your way to the next destination
>The living room
>He's not here either, dang...
>Nope, not even a trace
>What about the library?
>You duck into the large, book-filled room and scan around until you find something
>Your target is sitting at the library desk, currently working his way through the first of a few different tomes stacked next to him
>Whatever those books are, he seems to be pretty absorbed into it all
>Well, you found what you were told to find, so that's all you have to do
>You should still check to make sure he's doing alright
>You walk up behind Spike and tap him on the shoulder, bringing him out of his trance and to a position facing you
[o]>"Hey Anon, what's up?"[/o]
"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?"
[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]
"From what she told me, your actions did give her that impression."
[o]>"Then tell her I'm fine, I just got a bit excited."[/o]
"Sure thing, buddy."
>Spike goes back to his reading and you go back to Twilight's office, ready to tell her the news
>Upon opening the door, you just pop your head in and say what you need
"Spike didn't go crazy, he just went to the library to learn more. Everything's fine, don't worry."
>Twilight looks up to you and breathes a sigh of relief at your news
>"Thanks, I'm glad he didn't do something stupid."
"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."
>"Noted. For now I still have a pile of forms to get through, so that'll have to wait."
"I'll leave you to it, then."
>Twilight nods and returns to her work while you return up to your room, satisfied with... something
>A job well done?
>Probably not that either
>Getting away with being a shithead?
>... Regrettably maybe
>Well, you've been a good boy (girl?) for this long, you deserve to start a bit of fuckery
>With this thought, you pass out again until dinner, eat, then screw around until it's time to go to bed for real
>. . .
>Friday, the last day before the weekend and the testing therein!
>Any last-minute applicants should be coming in today, otherwise there's nothing more to worry about
>Oh yeah, you also have to go to the hospital today to get another check done on your nose
>Almost forgot it was broken again...
>Oh well, at least today's hopefully going to be more eventful than the majority of this week
>Not in a bad way though, that's not what you're hoping for at all
>Nah, you just want something in school other than the usual garbage that you either already know or barely care enough to learn
>Speaking of, time to get up and get ready for that
>You get out of bed, go about your morning routine, and head out the door into the frigid late-winter morning
>Well, you expect it to be frigid, but it's actually somewhat pleasant
>Oh right, it's probably because the snow schedule's transitioning gradually back into rain
>Whatever it is, it makes for a more pleasant walk to school than the last while
>Once you reach the school though, you see something that makes things all the more pleasant!
>Rather, something that is actually someone
>Almost as soon as you notice her, that gray "filly" with a familiar green mane and blue eyes comes bounding over to you
>That's right, after a week or so that felt like fucking forever, the local changeling spies are back in town!
>You trot over to meet Emerald halfway, upon which she catches you in a hug
[p]>"Anon, it's been so long! Did you do anything cool while I was gone?"[/p]
"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?"
>She pulls back from you and looks around to check the surroundings
>You help out, assuming something's going to happen that nobody else should see
>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
>Before responding, she pulls herself back in close and beckons like she's going to whisper to you
[p]>"It's my ID as an official spy!"[/p]
>So it's official now?
"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."
>Emerald's face scrunches up and she blushes a bit before responding with an indignant huff
[p]>"I only told you because you already know, dummy!"[/p]
"But what if I was somepony else disguised as me though? Then you would've been caught red-hooved!"
>To punctuate your stupid comment, you pull the smuggest look you've pulled in a decent while
>Emerald lightly pushes you in response, but the bell for class rings before you can get another word in
>From there, class goes as normal and school passes by without major happening
>Once you're all dismissed, You and your friend, now reunited, decide to walk home together
"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?"
[p]>"Would Twilight be okay with me being at the castle if she... knew?"[/p]
>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...
"I don't think she'll mind."
Some time later...
>"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?"
>Twilight didn't handle it the best, but you've got logic at your side!
"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."
>"From what YOU know. You have no idea what other projects I could be working on and what they might be for! What then?"
"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."
>"That lock is bio-metric, I have no idea if it would stop a changeling disguised as me from getting in!"
"Yeah, I got nothing for that."
>"So now you see my problem."
>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
>"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."
"Understood. Just one other question though."
>"What is it?"
"What if one of those conditions is broken from things outside my control?"
>"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."
"That doesn't sound too bad."
>"Then you'd better hope that it doesn't happen before the week after next, otherwise you'll be going back through as is."
>You can't go back to being human yet unless you want your still-healing nose to turn your brain into pudding
>"Good. With all that being said, I'll let you get back to things."
>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
>One relatively short walk later, you find yourself back at your room and your friend is there waiting
[p]>"So, how'd it go?"[/p]
>Might as well rip the bandaid off now
"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."
"Yeah, sorry about that; I hope this doesn't ruin any of your plans for anything or put a damper on today's visit."
[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]
"And I'll do what I need to to keep us both out of trouble! Now, where did we leave off?"
[p]>"I think you were going to ask me about how everything went between when we last met?"[/p]
"Something like that. So, what did you get up to besides just solidifying your job choice?"
>Emerald takes a moment to think to herself and collects her thoughts before answering
[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]
"Was there anything interesting about that, or did you just tell Chrysalis and she said okay?"
[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]
[p]>"What about you, what's the mission from Princess Celestia you mentioned?"[/p]
>Do you tell her?
>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
>Yeah, fuck it
"Do you know what the conditions of the peace between the Badlands and Equestria were?"
[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]
"Yeah, Princess Celestia put me in charge of the 'something important.' In case you're wondering, it's going well so far."
[p]>"Why did she put you in charge of... that?"[/p]
"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."
>Emerald's expression immediately jumps to confusion upon hearing your explanation
[p]>"Wait, you're why this all happened?"[/p]
>Maybe you said too much
"Yeah, it's a long story that I'm still not sure if I should get into."
[p]>"Does it have anything to do with that conversation back in the hotel in Canterlot and what you didn't explain there?"[/p]
"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."
[p]>"Further notice being when?"[/p]
"Whenever Twilight decides the world is ready. As for an answer on that, I can only imagine."
>Emerald's shoulders droop and she lets out an exasperated grunt
[p]>"Can I at least get a hint?"[/p]
>You're definitely not saying no to that, Twilight's rules be damned!
>The question is, what hint could you give that wouldn't immediately give it away or do effectively nothing?
>Or, and hear me out here, what if we just completely shoved the problem onto someone else?
>Not a bad idea, amirite?
>Glad to see you agree, now who do we shove it off onto?
>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
>Maybe, but is she even allowed by her job to infiltrate the dreams of non-citizens?
>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
>Might want to ask her about that for future reference though, just in case
>Truly a brilliant suggestion!
>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!
"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."
>Upon hearing this, Emerald almost physically jumps out of her funk
"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."
>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!
>Eventually though, even that comes to an end as Emerald has to go home and Twilight has something to bother you about
>Nevermind, turns out she was just making sure you didn't say anything confidential to the resident spy
>You told her where you could find out some confidential information, but Twilight didn't ask about that~
>From there, the evening is business as usual until it's time to turn in for the night
>. . .