Surgas the Sticky – M. Changeling Pathfinder – 5/5 (5/5) Ci'thilix – M. Changeling Elusive – 5/4 (5/5) Ci'thclone - M. Changeling Clone - 5/2 (5/3) Quirk – M. Changeling Samurai – 5/5 (5/5) Silver Megagun – F. Changeling Warlord – 5/5 (5/5) Zandali – F. Changeling Cleric – 5/5
Last time on Changelings.
>>648603 The briefcase was pretty difficult to open, requiring a four-digit combination to unlock. Still, with a crowbar, stethoscope, lockpick and screwdriver, it might be possible to bypass the combination. Shortly after exiting the library, Ci'thclone was intercepted by Chanel, who apparently recognized the briefcase.
The bottoms of your hooves light up pink, the same color as Chanel's horn. He hooks his arm around your shoulder and forces you to walk with him down the crosswalk, slipping away the dagger. "I don't wanna do this any more than you do pal, but getting vaporized by the 'clean-up kit' inside that briefcase ain't the most pleasant alternative. Move."
>>648608 Silver organized a date with Prohorax. How nice! They're going to the spa I think. A demure white earth pony mare with yellow eyes and a blue-and-green streaked mane got off the train and tried to sniff around for changelings. Silver went undetected from all the perfume.
She sees the mare shuffle about shyly, stopping every now and again to look around and down at her phone.
>>648604 >>648607 >>648603 Quirk had some drama with Zeppelin over stupid nymph shit. But eventually she got over it. Spectacular! Zandali also got Shady, whose brain got mangled by Zeppelin's chloroform, off the streets and back at the hospital. So now everyone, including Ci'thilix, is there.
"The one you call Silver now faces a changeling queen all by her lonesome. Weak as she may be, a queen could stamp out any one of us in an instant if so inclined. Ought we to follow her?" Gladius says.
"How do you know all that?" Goober asks.
"It's called paying attention. Doesn't your queen discipline her drones?" Gladius counters.
>>648609 "Shouldn't we get the case first? I don't know where my clone went, but he shouldn't be far off. I know I wouldn't be off alone after that little alley grab."
>>648609 "W-Well, I wouldn't want to make you do anything you don't want to…" Ci'thiclone walks with Chanel a few steps, before quickly turning with a flap of his wings to try and zip away across the street. >Flight [1d10]
>>648609 >currently made of 2 bodies thanks to Body Partitioning via Adaptability >Silver Megagun 5/3 >Floral Shoppe 5/2
Silver and Floral get up from their bench, approaching the disguised queen. "Hello," Silver says, as Floral stands behind her, keeping her head on a swivel to look around the station, "My name is Silver, it's my duty today to get you relaxed and prettied up for your wedding. This is my assistant, Floral Shoppe. Please pardon the smell, she's a bit of a perfume fanatic." Silver bows her head politely to Prothorax, as her disguised clone does the same. "To be honest, I had the idea to go to the spa before I made reservations. If you'd like, Floral would be happy to keep you occupied while I find a place for us to go to."
>>648609 Quirk rummages through his bag for a yo-yo. Preferably one of his rarest ones, like the yellow one, with the insignia of that one crest he found several months back. Or perhaps the one with the two dragons.
>>648612 Prorhorax wrinkles her nose lightly as the two of you approach. "Uh, s-sure… charmed." she looks down at her phone. "Not like I had anything better to do. What's the reservation?"
>>648611 "I wouldn't dream of it, sir or miss." Gladius says, bowing his head to you. "I was merely concerned for Sir or Miss Silver's well-being, of course."
>>648610 Corpus slaps Goober's forehead. "I completely forgot about that!" "You're supposed to slap your own… also how do you forget something we were just talking about?" "Don't worry about it! Ci'th, sniff out your little pal and let's get him before those fruitcakes can!"
Chanel curses as Ci'thclone breaks free of the weak telekinesis and launches into the air. Chanel clenches his teeth and taps something into his phone, before his horn lights up. Cithclone feels a telekinetic tug on the briefcase as it lights up in pink, stopping him in mid-air. Roll to break free.
>>648614 Silver cranes her neck down and to the side in order to meet Prothorax's face better while she's on her phone. "I was planning on going to a spa for a massage or two, sauna sitting, a mud bath, a normal bath, whatever package is offered that sounds best. By the way, is there a preferred name you'd like me to use while we're in public?"
>>648614 "I can't sniff him out, but he'll look just like I am right now. Can't be too hard to find a duplicate walking around here, right? Let's hang around the rendezvous, that's where I'd head."
>>648614 Ci'thiclone stops and tugs on the case as the telekinesis snags onto it. Flapping his wings in a wind up, he twists and turns to try and spin out of it to get the momentum to help carry him over the intersection. >Escape Artist [Auto]
>>648615 Prothorax taps her chin. "Oh mama, what was the last name I used? Like… bread something or other. Uh… Carrot… no. Wash'n Dry Yeah, that's dumb enough to be something a pony'd call herself. But yeah! Spa sounds super. We going to the Vietneighmese place on 5th?"
Out of the corner of your eye, you see a text on Prothorax's phone from the Love Five, all complaining about how you guys kicked their asses.
>>648616 "That's… no. Ci'thilix's clone has it in a briefcase, but he run off after stealing it from Big Business. Now we need to find him and recover it, whichever is easier." Zeppelin explains.
>>648617 >Clone You out-tug Chanel's grasp and fly high enough to get out of his range. Stuck in the crosswalk, Chanel spits in frustration and starts to chase you, only to be stopped by the construction workers in the street. He glares at you impotently and draws his hoof across his throat. >Real "Okay! Let's… eh?" Corpus squints as he looks at something in the distance. Following his gaze, you see a faint image of your clone flying above the busy street, a briefcase in his hoof. He's several blocks down.
>>648618 You impress everyone with your tricks. You also see the above.
>>648619 Away from the unicorn, Ci'thiclone keps flying down the street, not wanting to risk getting grabbed in magic again.
>>648619 Ci'thilix looks up wih Corpus at the flying object. "Hey, hey I think that's him. Let's get him and get that case open." Ci'thilix runs down the street after his clone. >See if they both end up heading towards each other/they catch up [1d10]
>>648619 "I've never been there before, but if you'd like to go there, I'd be happy to take you," Silver says, as she takes out the phone given to her by Surgas-as-Shady, looking at it and frowning. "Hmm, you know what, I do have a lot to do- need to take care of my subordinates. Would you mind terribly if you just went with Floral? She's not much of a talker, but she'll be able to keep you company well enough." Silver-as-Floral Shoppe grunts in response, her face blank before she offers a polite smile.
>>648620 As you rush across the street, you just narrowly avoid getting run over by a taxi cart, the driver hurling curse words at you. Ci'thclone doesn't see where you are just yet, but continues to head in your direction.
From further up and across the street, you see the other diamond dog of Haute Couture (not the one you met earlier) rushing to the corner with a potato bazooka on his shoulder. He loads a potato, takes aim, and fires at Ci'thclone.
>>648622 Wash'n Dry looks a bit unnerved by Floral's reticence but nods. "I guess… how do you do? E-Equish not your first language?" she says, sticking her hoof out for a shake.
Looking back to you, she adds, "Just don't take too long, please- I hate being in this city by myself. Plus I keep hearing about these AWFUL other changelings running around trying to ruin everything! Freaks and their dead queen…"
>>648621 "What do you need his underwear for?" Aqui asks, looking equal parts worried, jealous, and annoyed.
>>648623 Gladius takes out a measuring tape then measures Ci'thilix just before he runs off. Glancing at the flying figure, he says, "They've the same measurement and colors. It must be!"
>>648624 Silver pulls her coat and hat off, turning them inside-out and handing them off onto Floral. "Don't worry, I shouldn't be long," she says, before leaving the station, sniffing out for the rest of the group. [1d10] Detecting Changelings
Floral Shoppe looks back at Prothorax, using her ears to adjust the now-black cap on her head. "My name's Floral Shoppe," she says, "My hobbies are lying still and listening to music and talking about ponies who aren't around to hear about it." She pauses for a few seconds, then says, "Let's go to the spa. I don't know my way around here yet, but cities usually have logically themed streets so ponies can find their way easily. Follow me, please, and feel free to talk about whatever's on your mind." She steps backwards a few paces to make sure Wash'n Dry is following her, then leaves the station to head to 5th Street.
>>648624 "It was a uhh… Joke… You know because, why would I say I need something with his scent after I get an article of clothing. Also where would I get a fully trained bloodhound at this hour?" She explains the joke.
>>648626 A hot red blush comes to Aqui's face, so radiant it's visible through his mask. His embarrassment is so palpable he turns his mask around so that it covers his face. He clears his throat awkwardly. "I-I-Iknewthat. Totallyknewthat. L-Lead– lead the way!"
Your clone just barely catches your voice as the potato crunches into his ribs, sending him groundward. He crashes through a bench on the sidewalk, stunned. The briefcase slides away a few feet, but remains intact.
>>648625 "So you DO speak! Well that makes things easier." Wash'n Dry facehooves. "Ugh. I'm sorry; so worked up over the wedding! It's like someone put a time bomb in front of me but then added like another week onto the timer just as it was about to go off…"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jH2SesjTjQM Shoppe and Wash'n Dry enter the spa on 5th Street, just two blocks south of the train station. A brightly-lit and spacious shop, it has several goats attending to a few ponies and chattering in Vietneighmese, and has pretty much anything that would be in a spa. The receptionist gives you a wide smile as you enter. – You pass by a manhole as you walk from the station, the stench pestering your nose. However, you hear the distant sound of a potato bazooka.
>>648627 "He has the poison we seek, does he not? We retrieve the briefcase, with or without the drone." he lectures as he follows Ci'th.
Goober and Corpus follow him. Zeppelin sighs as she watches them go. "I like your yo-yo whatevers if it's any consolation."
>>648631 She jumps onto Aqui's back, wrapping her forehooves around his neck and buzzing her wings lightly to keep more weight off of him. "You lead me somewhere, maybe closer to the briefcase full of poison we need."
>>648631 Silver's nose twitches as if she's about to sneeze, which just so happens to be something she hates more than anything else. She continues her search for her comrades, to use them as back-up against Prothorax. [1d10]Locating
Floral looks around the spa. "Seems like a nice place," she says, going up to the front desk. "I'd like the full works done on my, hmm, client. Absolutely everything that you can offer, I'd like her to be on the receiving end. I'm escorting her and keeping her safe today, so I'd like to be present during the entire time. However, if possible I'd like to use the sauna, as well. If you have one."
>>648632 She tightens her scarf. "They're alright but I've done better. I'm gonna go back to our motel and set up so that Zandali and I can put together a cure once we get the sample. Make sure those goons can't follow us back there, alright?"
She bumps rumps with you. "Good luck."
>>648634 Snorting with newly-established-but-still-pretty-fragile self confidence, Aqui charges blindly ahead, bringing up the rear behind Ci'thilix, where you see… (down).
>>648633 Weaving around traffic and pedestrians, you are the first to make it to the clone's crash site. He gets up and manages to secure the briefcase while stressed-out pedestrians start to vacate the area. You overhear them complaining about all the fights in the city lately and how all the guards around here suck.
Across the street, the dog laughs maniacally as he loads another potato into his bazooka. "Yes! Yes! Get them get them! Luxury Brand peel you all like potato!"
He takes aim at the two of you and fires. [1d2] [1d10+2]
>>648635 You can't find them, it seems they've gone off. However, you head the direction you heard the potato gun fire. After a bit, you come out onto an intersection, where you see one of the Haute Couture dogs with a potato bazooka firing at Ci'th and his clone, who have the briefcase.
The goat at the front desk scribbles your order on a checklist, nodding fervently. A trio of goats come and forcibly load Wash'n Dry onto a plump purple pillow, then begin to cart her towards one of the back rooms. Wash'n giggles nervously. Before you can follow her though, the desk-goat eyes you. "One hundred twenty Bits, right here. Small coins only. Unmarked."
>>648636 Silver moves to an alley, hiding behind a garbage bin or something to change shape into a purple earth pony. [1d10]Transform
Floral opens the coinpurse inside the coat, pulling and counting out one hundred and twenty of the smallest units of bits, making sure each one of them is clean. "That's one hundred and twenty," she says, before heading towards the back rooms to accompany Wash'n Dry.
>>648636 "Ci'thilix runs over to his clone quickly, helping him stand. "F-Finally, found you guys." "Relax, that was a nasty hit." "They're chasing this case, said something bout some clean-up in it. Don't think it's going to last long." "Alright, we'll just lose these guys and get it out. Everything will be fine, you don't have to strain yourself." Ci'thilix goes to take the case, but as he hears the bazooka go off, he tackles into his clone to get them both out of the way. >Dodge [1d10] >If fail, clone push Ci'thilix out of the way. >Dodge Assist [1d10]
>>648637 You purple it up a bit too hard and come out a shade of plum instead. How terrible. But your transformation succeeded.
"We run clean establishment here, by way. No hoes. Least not on the 'main' menu." the goat laughs as she proceed to bite each bit to check if it's legit.
Fun music pipes through the luxurious spa. The goats have dropped off Wash'n in a private room with a shower, hot tub, hooficure chair, and a mane-n-tail station. Two goats begin a full-body massage on Wash'n, while the others dim the lights and burn incense. "Private sauna next door. Towels in closet. Try not to get anything on the mahogany if you 'with' her, ok?"
>>648639 >>648640 The potato splatters against Ci'thilix's head, giving him a grisly bruise. But Zandali's magic quickly undoes the damage.
Ci'thilix 5/5 Clone 5/2
Luxury Brand starts to stamp his paws in fury. "No fair! Magic no fair! You get out changeling!"
>>648869 >>648870 >>648873 >>648872 Anyway, like I was saying, Ci'thclone and Ci'thilix started to meet up halfway down the sidewalk. Ci'thclone, carrying Big's briefcase, was shot down partway through by a launched potato from Luxury Brand's potatozooka. Zandali was quick to react, healing the two, to Luxury's annoyance.
Despite the noise and obviousness of the potato gun fire, there are no guards in sight anywhere, only confused and worried bystanders scattering.
"Okay!" Luxury shouts from across the street. "Raise hoof if you changeling and say what Hive you from. Honor system! Please let me know so I no in trouble." he seems nervous, pacing in place.
>>648871 >"…The hairs in my muzzle are turning gray just looking at the papers; on top of that, business rivals have smelled the blood in the water. It takes one - ONE - bad play to knock people like us out of a position of power. And you know what happens to guys like us then." >"What I'm getting at is that if your mare uses your matrimony as a way to cross us for her own gain, well…" >He smiles and raises his shotglass. "To your marriage, and your health! However long… or short they may be." He sips and slams the glass down on the counter facedown.
Big stated in no uncertain terms that, should Prothorax's marriage to Shady end up biting him in the ass, something awfully awful would befall Shady. Big's eyes narrow, twin slits of gold behind his rose-tinted glasses.
His phone buzzes. He turns away and casually texts a reply. "Heh! The dogs found our little delayed-wedding-gift thieves. Don't worry, the colts in blue will all be conveniently indisposed while Haute Couture wraps it up for ya."
Prothorax sighs, content beneath the team of masseuses. She lazily opens one eye and looks at Floral. Clapping twice, she says, "And just what are you doing over there? Get up here, Flower, I'm sure not gonna let you just stand in the corner and watch!" she teases. "Goats, make sure my, er… attendant here knows what it's like to be a princess!"
>>648874 Surgas's grin turns into a slight frown, realizing that the brotherly love Shady feels for Big may not be entirely reciprocated… and wonders if that could be something used against the brothers.
"Heheheh… gee, thanks dog. Can't wait to hear your toast at the weddin' after hearing that." He raises his shot as well, drinking it and slamming it down in turn.
As he mentions his boys found the thieves, Surgas's eye internally twitches. "Shit, well how about that! That didn't take long. Where'd they find 'em exactly? They have eyes on the goods?"
>>648877 "Bout half a block from the scene of the crime. The kinda shit you see in a bad cop show." Big scoffs. "As you can probably tell, they ain't opened it yet. Couture will have it back to us within the hour."
>>648876 >>648878 Soon, the massage concludes and the goats begin their work on a front hooficure. Wash'n Dry's mouth wryly scrunches. "Well, what a hard worker you are. I really could use more like you. But I am not letting you go without treating you like one of my own!"
"Sauna over there. Heat rocks yourself if you want. Don't sweat too much else you might die." one of the goats says, pointing out the sauna door.
>>648879 >>648875 >>648876 >>648880 Luxury grows pale. "Is important! Very important! Does you queen name begin with a C and rhyme with Sissy-fus, or a P and rhyme with snacks? I need to know because they say that the one that rhyme with Sissy-fus dead, and the other is boss- oof!"
Silver kicks the dumpster into Luxury, knocking him over as his eyes bug out. He lays on the ground stunned. >Heal succeeds, Clone gets EG
>>648881 Surgas groans internally as he hears Ci'thilix made it barely a block away.
"Yeah, talk about your disappointments." He taps his claw, "Couture know the passcode? You never know, they could have swapped it out with a matching one, these shits seemed prepared, after he gets it back he should check inside."
>>648883 "Oh yeah, you never explained that to me. The no-queen thing." Aqui says. Luxury looks up in a daze, spitting gravel and dirt.
>>648884 But as he gets up, you stamp him back down.
>>648886 >>648883 >>648882 "Did anybody else catch that part about Chrysalis being dead!?" Goober asks in horror. "That can't be true, right? There's no way."
"It has been a few days since the Operation… I'm surprised word didn't get out sooner that it was a failure, but…" Corpus adds. "You think ol' Sunbutt sent in the super-duper horse ninjas to track Chryssy down?"
>>648885 Big raises his paw to speak, then rubs his chin. "That… that could be it. They'd have to be lightning-fast to grab it and swap it before the timer could detect tampering… fuck!"
He gets up and shoots the barkeep a threatening look, who goes back to watching the dancing stallions. "Fuckin' fuck the fuck fuck- Shady, get us out of this fag-hole already, we gotta roll."
>>648884 "Nopony is more important to me than my children, all 30 of them." Wash'n Dry announces. Some of the goats cringe. "Even the ones that aren't my own are my children. They're all I have, and I loathe the chaaa… cha– character that, um… mistreats them." she looks around at the goats, clearly worrying that she may have let her identity slip.
With the hooficure done, she wraps herself up in a robe and sighs. She motions for Floral to get closer, holding out another robe. "Sauna tiiiime!"
>>648889 "Being inconspicuous is one thing, but did you participate during combat?" She asks, "If you're so particular about not being noticed or recognized, change your appearance! We're Changelings, we can do that." She points at herself, her normal grey changed to a plum purple. >>648891 >>648892 "Oh, right, the suitcase. Don't fiddle around with that too much, it'll explode. Maybe we should submerge it in water, but for now-" She sits on Luxury's head to cover his ears, pulling in Quirk, Zandali, Ci'thilix, and his clone, "I have Queen Prothorax in a spa with my double, surely in a compromising position. We can go over there right now, kill her, and I'll be able to take her place at the wedding as planned, without any possibility of her interrupting us or causing any more trouble."
>>648890 "I'm sure you'll treat me just as well, then," Floral says with a determined frown, coming closer to Prothorax and following her to the sauna.
>>648888 Shady picks himself up from the counter as Big shoots the glare at the bar-keep, wondering if he had just screwed over his squad in giving Big that idea.
He leaves without paying for the drinks, chasing after Big, "Woah, bro, hold up, what's got your collar tight? I thought that bomb was on a detonator, not a timer, they can set it off just by tampering with it?!"
>>648895 "Yes, explode, so don't mess with it anymore. In fact, we should get Aqui to take it somewhere safe as soon as possible. And we're fighting the queen so that I can marry Shady Business in her place, absorb his love, and leave him weakened and depressed so that when Aqui returns to his family, we'll have taken out one of the major pillars threatening his family. It's for a good cause, you see."
"Huh. Actually dunno what'd happen if she died. Maybe we'd all explode! 'Cause we're like… part of heeeer? Or something? What are changelings even made of? We're like love plus darkness or some shit right?"
Ci'thclone lays some vines over Luxury, not that he's really struggly in his comatose state.
>>648892 Ci'thclone full health. (3/3, miswrote last time).
"Not even like, where you…" Aqui tries to probe, but then turns away, feeling he may have struck a sensitive subject.
>>648893 Wash'n Dry whisks off Floral's clothing and dresses her in a luxurious bathrobe, snug and plush. She then rubs Floral's head and shoulders. "You have such a lovely pattern on your legs! How did you get them done?"
The two of them head into the sauna, a spacious three-tiered square room with a big pit with sparkly volcanic rocks in a pool of water, a cooler, music player, and more incense. Wash'n lays across one of the benches and presses a switch on the wall, in curiosity. The panels on the ceiling and walls part, revealing a ceiling decorated to be like a starry night sky. "Hum… seems a bit superfluous. How nice!"
>>648894 "I don't make a plan without a backup, and a backup for that, and for that. The timer goes off quick if it ain't opened proper and it detects that the package itself is missing– think of it as a backup 'fuck you' in the event someone shanghais me and I can't detonate it myself. But if they can open it, replace it, and seal it within the blink of an eye, it COULD get past the timer."
He looks around the grimy streets of the red-light district. "Colt cuddlers… which way'd we take to get here? We gotta move quick!"
>>648898 "Here's what you do, for now- disguise yourself as a fat pony, and swallow the briefcase. Hide it in your body, simple as that." She stands up, then starts walking backwards. "Come on, now, let's get going!" >>648897 >>648892 "Come on, we need a full team if we want to get this done!" >heading to the 5th St. Spa
>>648899 "I'm not leaving my things behind," Floral says, bringing the coat and cap with her to the sauna. "They're done in a painstaking, yet worthy, process of sealing square portions of my coat in wax, bleaching what hasn't been waxed, then dying those portions black, and later washing the wax off in hot water." She sits opposite Wash'n Dry with her coat and cap next to her. "So, what're your plans for the honeymoon?"
>>648899 Surgas's mind goes into a race as he hears just how sensitive that bomb trigger is and feels a powerful need to find it and warn the others ASAP.
"Fuck… fuck! That would have been a little nicer to know earlier bro, they could be fucking with it as we were drinking! C'mon…"
He hops along with his gimp leg, looking down the street they came from as he growls, "I still haven't gotten everything down right but… that way! We definitely came from that way." He grunts as he hobbles, "Go, I'll just slow ya down, I ain't getting blown up before I get hitched!" >Pointing Big down in a wrong direction from wince we came and convincing him to go ahead >Roll desired?
>>648899 "Don't be shy to ask. Funny enough I was raised in Zebrica for a good while… Up until I decided to travel here to Equestria to learn to be a doctor. I think you can guess how that turned out. Got what I came here for, just nobody will accept a changeling as a long-term employee.
>>648900 She points for Aqui to follow. "I'll make sure none of you will die, but I'm not an assassin!"
>>648906 "Ah, well, I think it's the attitude about it that matters." >>648907 "Drop it off in a dumpster near the spa, so we can at least be rid of it for a while, then. Or maybe your clone could pick the lock from atop a building, and pull the cure out just before dropping it from the top, so if the bomb decides to explode anyway, it'll be farther away from him."
>>648900 Wash'n gasps in concern. "Do those hurt? Hmm… well, they look very beautiful on you anyway."
Seeing Floral sit so far away, Wash'n scoots over but keeps about a foot of distance between them. "He's going to whisk me away to the Llahamas for a whole week! There'll be so much love going around I won't know what to do with it all… I mean- wine. Wine. And love, too!"
>>648901 Big growls and rushes ahead, eventually hopping forward to run on all four paws for speed. You see him stop at an intersection, look around in confusion, then bolt right where he should've gone left.
>>648902 "All the way from Zebrica? Whoa. Was that like, relief work for the tribes? I hear they've been having huge fluctuations in the weather with all the fighting there's been with the weather mystics and the shamans. I've always wanted to go there and meet the sand-wyrm lords in the northeast deserts."
>>648907 "Okay but still- that'd be pretty fuckin' metal." Corpus says. Gladius jabs him in the ribs scoldingly.
Stealth gained, EG lost.
>>648905 >>648900 >>648907 Silver leads you back to the spa on 5th street. A quaint salon bigger on the inside than the outside, run by many Vietneigmese goats. It's gotten slightly busier than it was earlier in the day. The receptionist's eyes bug out as she sees all of you come in through the front. She especially gives an eye to Aqui. "What kinda dragon that?" you hear her mutter under her breath. "Fatty walkin on two legs…"
>>648909 Floral blinks away Prothorax's concern. "It stings a fair bit, but like I said, it's worth it. Are you a fan of wine, then? I'm quite classless in that regard, I like to drink it on ice in a glass. I prefer white to red, all things considered, but I can never keep the different types sorted out in my head."
PlumSilver smiles at the deskgoat. "Hi, we're associates of Miss Wash'n Dry? She just came in here with my associate, Floral- pink pony, wearing a lovely coat, bit deadpan? We're her extra bodyguards- she's quite a valuable lil' mare, she is. Could we come through? We don't need any treatments, we just have to stand around and look tough, really."
>>648909 "I think my hive was trying to flee there. I'm unsure if I'm the only one, but my adoptive family told me that I was the only living infant amongst a mass of changeling corpses. Guess you can say they got caught in the fighting as well. But it is a beautiful place, sometimes I hope to make enough money to take a trip down there to see some family again." She says, turning to look at the receptionist.
After hearing the muttering, Zandali turns to give Aqui a kiss on the cheek. "I think you look quite muscular and charming."
>>648910 Wash'n smiles blankly. "Ah, white? Well I prefer, um… blue. Yes, blue's my favorite. Um…" her eyes dart around. "Well truthfully that's all I know about honeymoons. We drink, then what? I've been so wired up I can't even think straight. I don't suppose you have any more experience with honeymoons. I mean, what do ponies– I mean, what do I even do? I want to make sure it's special and unforgettable for him, but…" she sighs and lays on Floral's coat.
>>648912 Clone slinks into the shadows behind one of the potted plants at the door. Stealthy.
>>648911 >>648912 >>648910 >>648915 The desk-goat makes a big show of flipping through the pages on her clipboard. "Busy day today. Lot of clients. Can't say I know what she look like or if she here. Yeah, very busy."
>>648915 He winces when hearing the part about the bodies. "God, I'm so sorry… how long ago was that?"
He gets a bit warmer and redder after you kiss him. "Well, same here once I dont have to worry so much about my dad dying. The sand-wyrm lords are supposed to be this ancient cabal of wise dragons. Everyone gets hyped up over the Migration, but I always wanted to see them at least once, ask 'em what makes a wise dragon. K-kinda nerdy huh?"
>>648913 You transform and fly back the way you came. After several minutes, you eventually arrive there. However, nobody is at the spot where Big was robbed, nor at the corner where the others were hiding. The only thing of note you see is a bit north, halfway down the street of a T-junction intersecting that street. You see one of the Haute Couture dogs laying unconscious under some vines, half-covered by a dumpster.
>>648916 The dull yellow pony with a short brown mane, also known as Quirk, puts on a pair of boring shades to add to the ensemble of boringness that he exemplifies as he sits behind Silver, looking as boring as he can be.
He thinks happy thoughts in the meantime, like just what Zeppelin can do with a yo-yo that he can't, or how tying a book to The Stick could prove to be an effective weapon.
>>648916 Surgas stares down at the downed dog hidden underneath the dumpster, chuckling to himself as he delights in his squad having taken at least one of Big's boy's down. He doesn't find the time to question him at hand though, as he takes a quick look around the immediate area.
"Big said they'd be close by… ahah!" He says to himself, noticing the bright pink display of Chanel's coat galloping down the street. He rubs his hooves together, and lands on a nearby rooftop, transforming first before intercepting the cronnie.
>>648916 "Well… I was just a hatchling at the time, so I would say about… 24 or so years ago?"
She rests her head on his shoulder and presses her cheek to his. "Would you be surprised if I said that it's the exact reason I'm following these idiots around? I wanted to find out more about my own people by following and observing these guys… Healing them as they get into trouble, getting me fired from my last job, convincing me to even come to this spa." She says, sighing before relaxing into Aqui more. "But… as much as I hate to admit it… I have enjoyed the time I've spent with this little band of misfits… Plus they lead me to you, so that tells me enough that following them more isn't a bad idea."
>>648916 >>648919 "Actually, after seeing this place from the inside… Are you sure you don't have time for a Doctor and her boyfriend?" She asks the receptionist. >Persuasion: Compassion [1d10]
>>648918 Wash'n grimaces but forces a nod. "Riiight. That… part. I am aware of how that works and what that entails. B-but I mean, beyond that, I don't want it to just be that! What… what are couples supposed to do? I mean we're going to be together for however many years he lives– what the hell do couples do that keeps them from losing their minds?"
She scoots over and leans against Floral dramatically. "It's just so much to think about. Have you ever been in love, dear?"
When Zandali mentions being a doctor, the goat's eyes sparkle. "Oh, doctor, eh? I'll put it on your tab, give you coupon next time you come in. Back room, third from left."
>>648921 "Guess it's true what they say about how it can always get worse, huh? Uh, I mean– except in this case they got better. So, things can always get better… actually, that's the opposite of what they say."
After an awkward pause, he pinches your butt and gives you a burly embrace. "Well, I wouldn't have traded our time together for anything, even under the circumstances."
>>648920 You redisguise yourself as Big, identical down to the very eyelashes. Below, you see Chanel run up to the dog's body. He falls to his knees dramatically, crying, as if lamenting the dog's death. He bends over the body and weeps for a few seconds… then you see him check the dog's pulse. Finally, he slaps the dog, who appears to start to come to. Guess he wasn't dead.
>>648922 With his body changed up successfully down to the last detail, Surgas chuckles to himself pleased with the display. He hops down from the roof, bounding along the street on all four limbs going straight for Chanel and Luxury as he 'weeps' for the latter's demise.
He skids to a stop, standing up to full height with a snarl on his face.
"Hey boys. Sorry to interrupt your soap opera. I just bounded over here excited when I heard you found my lost merchandise." He looks around for the briefcase, "Where is it?"
>>648922 She lets out a slight eep from the pinching, even tightening her grip. "Well we can spend more time together now it seems. Just be ready to hop up with me when I need to start working my magic so to speak. For now, onto the spa room." She says, pointing for Aqui to continue onward more. She was starting to enjoy using Aqui as her new source of transportation.
>>648924 Chanel gasps in terror and stands up straight with a salute, kicking Luxury a few times until he gets up as well. "Well, I was told Luxury here had it, sir!" Chanel reports.
Luxury jumps in fear. "What? No! Changeling and possible other changeling had that! But then I was afraid they were Pro-snacks changelings so I ask them what hive they were, then stars fell on me and now I here!"
The two continue to shake.
>>648923 >>648925 >>648926 "Wait, what?" Wash'n dry asks in confusion as the party enters. The party sees a white earth pony mare with yellow eyes and a blue-and-green streaked mane. Floral shoots her, causing her to fall to the ground with a sharp intake of breath, stunned. The muffled sound of the shot is still somewhat audible in the small spa, and patrons start to flee in terror. Up at the front desk, the receptionist grabs an authentic halberd from beneath the desk. "Every week some shit like this happen. Gotta get outta this dumpy pony city."
>>648927 Surgas growls convincingly at them, putting a paw on both of their shoulders with a bit of force.
"So… what you're both telling me is someone lied to me, and NEITHER of you have the briefcase?" He grins,
"That is extremely disappointing' to hear, boys." He lets go of the shoulders, leaning against a wall intimidatingly tapping a claw against it.
"Changelings, huh. Well, I guess Pro's gonna have to answer a few questions later. But right now, I don't care if they're her changelings or someone else' changelings or goddamned alicorns. I. Want. My. Goods. Back."
He leans in to Luxury, "You have ANY idea where they went?"
>>648927 Zandali jumps at the sudden gunshot. "This is why my life has been more eventful after following these guys." She says, hoping this is a good enough example. "How long do you think she can go without me throwing a little healing spell her way?"
Prothorax's inert form springs back up, chest and cheeks expanding. She tackles Floral against the stand with the rocks and water and spits a torrent of white-hot acid onto her face, horrifically scalding Floral.
As the katana makes contact with her body, Silver sees Wash'n's coat become scale-like. "That… that was not a very smart move, was it now, my dear? And I wanted to be such good friends with you! Oh, what's that smell… Chrysalis!"
Her eyes narrowing into slits and fangs extending, she spits acid onto Silver.
>>648929 You could try to cover her in the rocks from the stand in the center of the room, or under the towels and bathrobes nearby.
>>648931 >>648929 "You? What are you doing here? Hive Chrysalis, Vespine, and… one I don't recognize. You idiots! What have I done against any of you? This isn't even close to Chrysalis territory! Do you want to stir up a Hive War? What POSSIBLE reason do any of you morons have for such an unprovoked attack!?"
>>648933 "Wa-tah!" the deskgoat yelps as she butts Quirk with the staff.
>>648930 They shiver as you let them go, thoroughly spooked. "A fatty purple one sat on my head- that's all I remember!" Luxury pleads.
"All I caught was a glance of them heading further down the street. Not much between here and there, 'sides the train station and some shops." Chanel reports.
>>648934 He growls, "…great. Then here's what you're gonna do."
He pokes each of their chests, "You're going to keep lookin' for 'em, and you're not gonna stop till you find 'em. And you see me again? You had BETTER not come up to me without the fucking briefcase in hoof. Now get back to it!"
He bounds down the street away from them, his nose flaring as he tries to pick up on the changelings' scent to reconvene with them.
>>648935 You are submerged in vomited acid, your body rapt with burning, prickling, and a stiffening feeling as you hit the ground, lights darkening.
"Aren't even going to answer me? What's your deal? At least have the courage to speak before you die, fool! What kind of changeling charges her enemy from the front? I'd be dead by now if I was fighting a true Hive assassin!"
Corpus and Goober rush in and try to help you and Floral get out.
>>648936 You topple scalding rocks onto Prothorax, eliciting a hissing shriek as she writhes from the hits. She worms her way out from the rocks, scampering towards the exit. Gladius tries to crush her before she can escape.
>>648937 Before you can connect the hit, the other goats charge you, cursing you and your ancestors in Vietneighmese while pummeling you with authentic weapons.
"Take his money!" many of them shout during the beating.
>>648938 The two of them nod furiously then try to take off, at first bumping into each other with a loud clonk, then getting up and running down the street.
You pick up a faint strain of pheromone, coming down from the direction of 5th street.
>>648939 "I'm not an assassin," Silver says, reaching towards her coat. She pulls out one of the healing potions she has inside, drinking one, as Floral does the same. >Silver and Floral drinking healing potion >0 left
>>648939 Surgas, as the two leave off behind him, homes in on the scent of his fellow changelings and turns down 5th street in a rush. "C'mon, don't blow up don't blow up don't blow up…." >Rushing down towards 5th street as quickly as possible while dropping disguise into that of the white pegasus again: don't want to risk Big or Shady seeing another Big.
[1d10] Transform into pegasus while running towards the source
>>648940 You heal yourselves, your skin still remaining horribly burnt. "Yes, you've made that pathetically clear." she hisses. Corpus and Goober end up crashing into each other in their rush to aid you, and fall down onto the acid still sizzling on the floor.
>>648941 The robe barely makes it halfway before Prothorax's trail mutates into a spiked dinosaur tail, smashing into you. You feel and hear burning and hissing at the point of impact as blinding pain wraps itself around you.
"Disgraceful… I've barely said even a few words to any of you, and yet you're throwing yourselves at me like animals! It's so… impersonal. Pointless! You're worse than obnoxious, you're– you're boring! Confusing!"
Before she can slip through the doorway, Gladius hits her with his shield, blocking her escape.
>>648943 You get back up as the goats attempt to rob you.
"How sweet of you." Prothorax deadpans. "I don't even know you, for crying out loud, what are any of you even doing here?"
A second set of forearms splits off from her back, protruding splintering jagged scales which drip acid. "I don't care about fighting you, in fact I'd really appreciate if you just moved, please…"
With shocking speed she lunges forward, slicing at you and Aqui.
[1d10+1] [1d1+10] [1d10+1] Zan [1d10] Aqui
Aqui tries to take a hit for you. [1d10]
>>648944 You change disguises again, eventually reaching a spa which has turned into a fight scene from a low-budget kung-fu movie. Up front you see four Vietneighmese goats trying to rob Quirk while beating him with authentic weapons. You hear more fighting coming from the back (can go there as a free action, see above stuff)
Roll #1 5 = 5 / Roll #2 9 + 1 = 10 / Roll #3 1 + 10 = 11 / Roll #4 7 + 1 = 8 / Roll #5 8 = 8 / Roll #6 9 = 9
>>648945 "I"m not here to be a conversationalist," Silver says, "This isn't about you, this is about the future of the race."
Silver pulls her coat back on, putting away her katana and replacing it with the ball and chain, as Floral remains armed with the pistol. They attack Prothorax at the same time. [1d10+2]Silver with B&C [1d10+2]Floral with pistol
>>648945 Quirk gets up and dashes away from the goats. "Okay, I was ggonna go easy on ya, y'know? Maybe knock out a few teeth, nothing too major. But then, you try and steal my stuff? Now that's something I can't abide by!"
He makes a wide swipe to cut the four goats. >Cleave [1d10]
>>648945 >>648943 Surgas darts into the spa, watching Quirk as he's beaten upon by the four asian goats and watching Quirk shout at them in a confusing dialect.
"No Ci'th here, need the briefcase… QUIRK! Stop yellin' in japonese and get up already. You're outnumbered by ninjas! That means that you statistically have the advantage in numbers, everyone knows 1 guy fighting four ninjas is WAAAY easier than one on one. Unleash the eye of the changeling and do your Sensei Surgas proud, I have to stop a bomb!"
>>648945 He flies into the next room over, watching as Prothorax sets down upon the squad with great prejudice. "Oh, shit, this ain't what I needed. She should be tied up, not kicking our abdomens."
He looks around the edges of the doorway that connect towards Prothorax, and begins setting up a trap around the edges to spring down in the case of her entering the door. [1d10] Trap [1d10] Appraise Prothorax
"Ahem… hey Prothy! If'n y'all and your incredibly enlarged rear-end is all done picking with my squaddies, why don't you come over here and see how a real soldier fights, ya tight old has-been!"
>>648948 You knock back the goats as they make off with a few of your sewing supplies. For good measure they try to get a few hits back.
>>648946 The two of you trade hits. Aqui's chest is sliced open, burning profusely as he falls to the floor. You're cut along the collarbone, a sizzling gash opening down your ribcage.
>>648949 "Yes, I went out of my way to ruin your day by seeking you out and vomiting acid all over you for no good reason- oh wait, that was your floozy bitch friend with the prolapsed ass tattoo!"
>>648947 "How wonderfully noble and abstract. You know, I was really serious about letting you join me, too. Ah well. What a waste."
You pummel her some more, until she smacks Floral on the head again with her tail.
>>648950 The trap fails to stick to any surface, from the moisture in the air produced by all the sauna rooms.
"Oh for Mama's sake how many of you sloppy excuses for drones are there? That's it… I'm done with this! I'm done with you! What a shitty date! And you're all ugly, too! And smelly!"
Prothorax hops into the air, her form bubbling and twitching grotesquely. She dives towards the air and spins with a shriek, acid surging onto the walls and floor from her pores and mouth, coating everything. Her very form appears to liquify and dissolve as she hits the ground.
>>648953 Ci'thilix looks for any buckets, tubs, or any sort of container that has survived the previous acid spits in the room to kick over where Prothorax aims to land in case she attempts to flee by burrowing through the floor or liquid melting away. >Trap/Contain? [1d10]
>>648953 Zandali yells from the pain, not used to being in battle and taking hits like that. As she writhes a bit in pain, she at least attempts to recover to her feet so she can focus on getting a healing spell ready. >Recovery [1d10]
>>648954 Floral's attack, a solid hit, elicits a gruesome crunch. The liquefied form splits into two.
>>648957 >>648955 >>648956 >>648957 Acid splatters all over the walls, floor, and ceiling coating and eating at the structure, leaving the sauna room a mangled skeleton of its original form. Aqui, Goober, Corpus, and Gladius are submerged in the acid, crying and howling in pain as they each topple over.
Cackling, Prothorax's form splits into three small aqueous pieces, one slithering past Gladius as the path becomes clear, and one shooting out into a vent in the spa. "You reckless idiots! Just remember as your bones melt into slag that you made me do this!" the pieces cackle.
The third, however, is hit by Quirk and Surgas, stunning it and sticking it to the ground. This gives Ci'th enough time to push over the stand that contained the rocks and water for the sauna, trapping the tiny acid part inside. You hear some struggling and whining coming from inside.
Zandali screams in pain as acid is spilled on her, she's barely able to stand as she sees Aqui cry in pain as well. "Don't you… hurt him…" She mumbles, trying to cast a more powerful healing spell. >Healing Bonds: Ci'th, Silver, Aqui. [1d10]
>>648959 Surgas howls as he's coated in acid, falling over and shifting back to changeling form as they're all hit simultaneously.
"GRAAAH! FREAKING FRAKING HOT GLOP ON A GLOP STICK, that burns!"
He struggles to recover, looking around at his entire squad getting melted. "Damn it, she's gettin' away… everychangeling on your hooves, we're pullin' out! Where's Zeppelin, we need another healer in here. Somepony secure that stand, it's the only bit we got!"
>>648959 >>648965 Quirk cracks his neck and spits out something from his mouth as he takes whatever of Zeppelin's pills he has left.
"Hey now, don't pussy out, you bitch! Come back and fight like a /real/ queen you fucking coward!"
The acid covering him hardly bothers him in the slightest, as he's hyped up on Zeppelin's pills.
He growls and sheathes his flamberge. "Changeling queen? I've had more respect for horse dung than I do for fleeing cowards like her." He walks up to Gladius and hoists him on his back. "C'mon old drone, we've got work to do." >Adaptability: Tough
>>648966 He grunts as he stands up, "Quirk, hold up a sec there: look at 'im, he ain't in condition to continue and we're barely better. We can get Prothorax whenever we want but we need to get Zandali and Zeppelin to patch us that old drone first, soldier."
>>648965 >>648967 As he stands up to full, he looks over at the trapped segmented part of Prothorax and proceeds to help Ci'th with holding it in place, firing some of his glop over it. >Glop on helpless piece [1d10]
"Silver, you mind explain' commander what in her Majesty's holy wings happened here? I came here to stop a bomb from goin' off an I find hell's all broke loose."
>>648969 "I had planned on cornering Prothorax while she was disguised and vulnerable, bringing the rest of the group with me to ambush and kill her so I could remover her as an enemy element. She turned out to be stronger than I thought, and escaped. Also, she's a virgin."
>>648970 "HA!" He laughs, "That's rich! Her Majesty will probably get cheered right up at that news."
He groans, "But damnit, I warned ya not to underestimate her. Next time we get her, we'll need to get a better trap ready."
>>648968 As he sees Ci'th, he turns and shouts, "YOU! The case, where is it?! You done anything to it yet?!"
>>648971 He nods his head, moving over to pat Quirk's back. "Damnit if we ain't gonna, Quirk. I get it: there isn't takin' a lost fight easy. But you just remember this pain and humiliation and anger from this defeat, literally drink it in, and you use it to blow her to kingdom come and make her split into FAR many more segments than just three!"
He nods as he slams the sword down. "Like that! Get that rage a pumpin', drone, feel it like a fresh-squeezed mammal's love's coursin' through you. Feelin' it?"
>>648973 "The problem will be to get her. No doubt she's going to find someone to heal her at this moment. I think we should give chase right away- probably requisition a cart and have Aqui while we pursue her."
>>648974 He chuckles, "Remember: we got her number. LITERALLY. All we have to do is have 'Shady' give 'er a call and ask if they can meet up. She can't smell our pheromones over the phone. We can get her whenever we wanna get 'er."
>>648967 Nothing happens, although the sounds stop.
>>648966 He remains limp. He'll need the acid cleaned off, and so will Corpus, Goober, and Aqui.
>>648968 Through the openings in the walls you see a solid bucket in the next room. If it's meant to hold the scalding rocks used to make steam, it should be substantially sturdy.
>>648969 You lift the overturned tub and see that the piece has turned into a miniature earth pony with Wash'n Dry's colors. It whimpers as you glop it, holding its hooves up in surrender.
>>648971 >>648972 Sure. Quirk knocks down the rest of the eastern wall. Some of the roof starts to come down, threatening total collapse.
>>648975 Thick acid is pushed off of his inert form as you heal his injuries. Despite the obvious strength of the spell, most of the worst burns remain. Stiffly, Aqui opens his eyes and shakily tries to get up. "Zan… where's…" he mutters as he starts to stumble.
>>648976 "I guess so," Silver says, and hands Surgas back the phone, "Damn, I thought we could get this done before the party tonight…" >>648977 Silver knocks over the rocks to see what was trapped inside.
>>648977 Silver sneers at the miniature Earth Pony. "Who're you, then?" She asks angrily. >>648979 >>648980 "Let's get going before this building falls down on us. We can retreat to the sewer, for now. Probably."
Silver goes to Goober and Corpus, hefting them onto her back and carrying them out to the street through the front door. >going out the front door to the street with Goober and Corpus
>>648973 "M-My clone has it. I th-think he's still hiding out in the lobby."
>>648977 Ci'thilix grabs the bucket, and walks over to the trapped acid. "I-I'm gonna need someone ready in case I mess this up. St-Still a bit woozy from the burns." He tries to scoop the acid up in the bucket so they have it betterly trapped. >Scoop [1d10]
>>648977 Surgas snickers as he looks down at the tiny Earth Pony. "Hehehehe… well, ain't so high and mighty now when you're cut down the size, are you? We'll just glop you up into a nice comfy cocoon for safe keepin' little Prothy."
[1d10] An extra layer of Glop being applied.
>>648978 "We all still got time before that, the sooner we get healed up the sooner we can go after her. Did you call her as Shady once? She may not suspect nothin' so long as we didn't use that trick already."
>>648982 He sighs. "Wooooh. Thank goodness. Here I was afraid you all were playin' withit and gonna set up the bomb that'll level Fillydelphia if you did."
>>648980 He nods his head. "Yeah, blowing stuff up always makes me feel a lot better too. We'll go out somewhere after all this and blow stuff up to cool off. It'll be a team building exercise, we could use more of those!"
>>648979 >meh, out of combat Like before, acid slides off of the injured trio. Badly burned, they do not stir, but their breathing grows in frequency and strength.
>>648981 >>648982 >>648980 >>648983 The Earth acid piece tries to run away until Surgas glops it again and Ci'thilix scoops it into the bucket. It whines. "Please don't hurt me, I didn't want her to fight you. I won't hurt you, I promise!"
With the abandoned spa now crumbling around you, you leave, carrying the horrifically burned and injured on your backs. >Pause
The assassination attempt of seemingly-feeble Queen Prothorax took a turn for the worse, with Prothorax's acidic spit incinerating their disguises and ripping off chunks of chitin. >All disguises currently lost
With her final attack and escape, Prothorax split herself into three acid pieces. The party managed to trap one segment, manifested as a powerless Earth pony version of Prothorax. It pathetically begged for its life in the party's grasp.
Ci'thclone, hidden, has the case containing the poison Zandali and Zeppelin need to make a cure for Aqui's father.
Gladius, Aqui, Goober, and Corpus lie inert in the ruined main lobby of the spa, their bodies broken and missing chitin in several places, caked in foul-smelling burns. They're stabilized, but just barely, wheezing softly, incoherent.
>>649949 "Well, this was a wash," Silver says, frowning, tossing some water on her coat and cap to prevent too much acid damage. "I'm curious about that splitting she did, it seems similar to the Goo Ponies' ability to split themselves in the same manner I often do."
"Alright, everyone, let's regroup and find a place to heal up. We should find a sewer entrance nearby, that'll give us somewhere to hide out."
>>649949 Surgas runs over towards the downed quartet in the main lobby that were nearly destroyed by Prothorax' poison, checking them in turn as he starts to load up Corpus on his back, grunting at the increased weight.
"Alright, we all gotta scatter quick before the authorities arrive, I love makin' a scene but not as much as the cops love checkin' them out. Everyone grab some dead weight and let's get out of here. Grab Prothy and the case too, we need to figure out another plan for 'em both."
"Where the hell is Zeppelin? Zandali could use the extra hooves, none of the boys are lookin' good here."
[1d10] Looking around for an escape route, need to get somewhere safe out from the spa
>>649949 Zandali begins to lay out her medical equipment, starting by giving Gladius, Aqui, Goober and Corpus an initial heal to numb their bodies of the pain. "I need to patch these guys up first, they are in no condition to be moved." >Free heal outside combat?
>>649954 "What plans? I thought we were just supposed to get this antidote so we could fix those dragons and get back to Queen Chrysalis. Now we're getting all mixed up with this other queen and getting in over our heads…"
>>649952 You recall seeing a pothole when you were on your way to kick the daylights out of that Haute Couture dog. It wouldn't be hard to retrace your steps.
>>649955 You recall the locations of the train station, the motel, and the frozen yogurt parlor you visited early yesterday after fighting the Love Five. You could try to retrace your steps, but who knows where Big might be right now.
>>649958 Their more egregious wounds begin to restore themselves. The breathing of the four strengthens slightly. You notice Gladius and Corpus, burnt the worst, coughing a mixture of blood and acid.
>>649953 Earth-Prothorax whines a little in the bucket you trapped her in. "Yeah, can I go now?"
>>649953 >>649959 "The plans are to get the antidote, but Prothy is a threat that if we don't take out now, could spell trouble for the Queen later. We have a third of her, but we need the rest to make sure she can't get as strong as Her Majesty.
>>649958 He puts down Corpus, grunting again. "Thank the Queen, Corpus weighs like a cow. He can move his own chitin. How bad you think it is?"
>>649969 "Then go get her damn it! If you're planning to still go after that insane acid spitting bitch then you're going to need your soldiers at tip top shape!" She barks at Silver, her forehead sweating a bit as she's trying to focus on caring for Corpus.
"Hrrm… alright, Motel should still be safe, they never saw us enter or leave there. Everyone let's move, if they're not up in 10 min we pick 'em up and move them ourselves. We can't stay here much longer. Zandali, do what you can in that time but I don't care what condition they're in, we'll carry them if we have to." >Making for Motel when either party is good to go, or if the authorities show up [1d10] watching out for the cops
>>649970 "We don't know what 2/3's can do but I bet it ain't good. I'm honestly considering just stomping out this part of her here, she may be able to track us just by having it…"
>>649979 "Well, none of this is really official anyways… We just went on it on our own…"
>>649977 >>649961 "Alright, I'l see if he's still there." Ci'thilix heads back out to the lobby, shifting into a yellow earth pony as he leaves the room in case there's still anypony else out there. >Shapeshift [AutoCrit] [1d10]
>>649967 You don't have x-ray vision, but you're fairly certain you've undone a good amount of the internal damage.
>>649970 "Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaassssssssssssssssssseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee?" she continues, voice growing in pitch and volume.
>>649974 You catch a glimpse of the four Vietneighmese goats from before across the street, speaking into a pay phone in broken Equish. They've still got their weapons. You hear them talking about money frequently. One of them even has the cash register balanced on her head.
>>649983 You disguise… sort of. Most of your coat is still coated in burns which show through your disguise. You too see the Vietneighmese goats (mentioned above), but they haven't seen you yet. Your clone is still behind the plant where you left him.
>>649984 You disguise yourself, still coated in blotchy burns. Most of the towels were incinerated in Prothorax's destructive escape from the spa, but you find a decent-sized pile of (mostly) intact ones. And a stapler too.
>>649978 "Zandali, we just melted down half a spa, and most of us can't transform. When the cops get here, they'll see us, no question. We can't stay, can't you heal 'em on the road?"
>>649979 He huffs, "This wasn't exactly what I had in mind buuuut it could be worst. We have the antidote, kind of. We have Prothorax, kind of. Honestly, if I were grading us, I'd put this at a C, maybe C+ so far. Tricky part will be what comes next"
>>649989 >>649988 "And what makes you think the police will arrest me for doing my duty as a doctor? Besides, I would rather get arrested after helping my squad than risk their health." She says, continuing with her work by bandaging up Corpus.
Afterwards, she begins to move onto the second worst conditioned member to work on, going through procedures just as she did with Corpus. >Mend [1d10]
>>649990 "Oh, that. I've had a few chats with Ci'th on that, trust me it's nothing. As lazy as he is for getting shit done, he's far too lazy for treason and abandonment. It's like this weird paradox of being too lazy to do good and too lazy to do bad that sort of makes for a half-decent soldier. Besides, I told him I'd explode his ass if he tried"
>>649988 >>649990 "What?! Glopping Quirk was supposed to deal with those mammals, why are they still breathin?"
He turns to Silver, and points at the goats across the streeth, "HEY, Silver, heads up: we've been marked, they may be giving our location as we speak. Those Prothy's boys? We should handle 'im first…"
>>649993 He rolls his eyes, "Because you're a CHANGELING! Darn it Zandali, the big city is mammals at their absolute worst. This ain't like your lil' clinic in the boonies, these ponies will KILL you if they see you."
>>649988 Quirk sits back on a wall and looks through his bag. "Damnit…I knew I should've saved some pills. And I can't ask for more…man, this sucks!" He growls as he notices several of his sewing supplies have gone missing. "Damn goats, how am I supposed to make new clothes now! Ah, whatever, I'll just trade for new ones. I'm sure I have some antiques that're pretty tradeable."
He pats his head to check the condition of his wig[1d10] before he shifts his form to a pegasus, with dull shades on his coat and mane. >Shapeshifting [1d10]
>>649988 Ci'thilix ignores the screech as he leaves, hanging at the doorway leading into the lobby. He looks over at his now disguised copy hiding behind the bush. "Psst, hey. Get over here." Ci'thiclone pops his head out from behind the plant. "What happened? My disguise burned away, and you look awful." "Long story, just get over here cause we need to regroup." "Alright, alright." Ci'thiclone gets out from the plant and sprints over to rejoin the others, hopefully not being seen by the goats. >Going unnoticed [1d10]
>>649993 After performing a similar procedure on Gladius and Aqui, the four begin to stir once again, looking around in a haze of pain from their trauma. Gladius squirms on the floor, trying to get out of the last of his melted armor. Aqui forces himself into a slouch, knocking away pieces of armor to free Gladius. In time, Goober joins in the effort, his face scrunched in pain.
"Give it to me straight, doc… 'm I still pretty?" Corpus asks, leaning his head on Goober's butt. His face looks fine, albeit crosseyed. Also, one eyebrow is higher than the other… but you're pretty sure that's always been the case.
>>649997 The hair on that wig's fucked, but the base hairpiece can be repaired. You transform as well.
>>649998 >>649999 >>650001 Goat fur and strings of Vietneighmese insults go flying as Silver and Surgas up the pay phone. The four goats scatter in various directions, but none head towards the spa. One of them cries, "You gonna pay DOUBLE tab for that, fat Equestrian pigs! We saw you devil-pony true selves! Slip and slide off donkey taint and die! Floral lumpy ass betta not stink up spa ever again!"
>>650003 She begins to bandage the others up to finish their treatment. "Define 'Pretty'" She sarcastically says, giving everyone a double check on their injuries. "Is everyone okay? I can administer another pain relief spell if you guys need it." She says, looking at Aqui with more worrying eyes than the others.
>>650003 >>650008 >>650007 Surgas smugs at the looks of the goats as they scatter, moving up towards the entrance of the spa, coating the entrance in explosive goo to detonate when they leave, "Sounds like a plan to me. Now we got the goats running for cover, they won't follow us, and a nice juicy explosion will just make a perfect distraction for our getaway anyhoosits."
He turns to look at Corpus, grinning, "You're about as pretty as a pony's uncle, Corpus. If EVERYONE is ready to go, we're making for the hotel. We have a queen to deal with an a bomb to disarm."
>>650003 Ci'thiclone takes a step back as the goat and phone are bombed. "Jeez, what happened in the few minutes you guys were back there." "Just be glad you weren't there." Ci'thilix comments as they follow the others.
>>650009 Upon hearing his name, Buddy jumps out of the potted plant that Ci'chlone hid behind during the fight. He shakes himself off, scattering soil and rocks everywhere.
"So long as the commanding officer is…" Gladius huffs as you remove the last of the ruined armor, "Still in the fight, then… as am I. In truth… I wax nostalgic. Botched assassinations were somewhat of a recurrence in Vespine's hive. Heh!"
>>650007 Goober raises his hoof as Corpus picks him up by the butt and throws him on his back, re-disguising as a four-legged dragon. Aqui stands shakily, feeling his ruined wrestling leotard and mask with dismay.
>>650012 >>650013 >>650009 >>650008 >>650007 Surgas sets some clean-up charges around the most vital infrastructural points of the spa, most of them having been exposed by the copious acid sprayed during the fight. With everyone more or less ready for moving, the party leaves the spa, detonating it behind them like coolguys, leaving nothing but a meager pile of ash, brick, and wood.
Unsurprisingly, their route back to the motel is nearly devoid of ponies. It seems the events of the past couple of days has made the local populace more than jumpy, and the poor response time of the city's guards don't seem to have improved.
Sticking to shadows and alleyways, you make your way back to the motel. Through the window you can see that Zeppelin has set up a rudimentary drug lord's kitchen, stationed mostly in the bathroom.
>>650019 Along the way to the motel, Zandali makes sure to give Goober a heal just as she did before, hoping to numb more of his pain. She also makes sure that everyone is fully patched up as she makes her way to the motel. >Patching up party more
>>650019 Quirk smiles at Gladius and pets Buddy when he comes out of the plant. "Well then, you'll have to tell me more about them later, Sir Gladius. When things have settled down and we're /not/ risking our lives for once."
As soon as the party makes it back to the motel, he makes a beeline to Zeppelin, and looks for a bundle of some sort of flowers in his bag before approaching her. >flowers [1d10]
"So uh, Zepp. You wouldn't happen to have any more of those kickass pills left, would you?"
>>650024 "I'll give you twenty bits and a kiss on the cheek if you let me go…" Earth=Prothorax tries to seductively whisper from inside the bucket.
>>650027 Zeppelin leaps in surprise as you rush in with flowers. She nearly bonks her head on the doorframe. "Sweet Celestia FUCK! Holy frij– don't sneak up on me!"
As you get a better look at the setup, you don't recognize most of the stuff she uses. It's all a mix of chitinous changeling technology and some more modern pony gizmos. However, you think you've seen some toxicologists back at the Hive use stuff like this.
"I ain't had no time to make anything like that. Close the blinds already! Where's the poison? You got that, right?"
"Mph? Leg chegh? Whagh he gehhin a leghchegh fah?" You hear Big swallow loudly. "Listen, put his ass on the line. I don't know where the hell I am, but I found some sweet jewelry, and this chili dog place he'd love. Also, I got a call from his bug-bitch wife. Don't tell him I said that or your ass is going into some concrete horseshoes."
>>650032 >>650020 "OH! Uh, ehheheh, right away, sir. Just needing to change his wrappings and check the swellin', he did some runnin' he shouldn't 'ave earlier today. I'll put 'em on."
He puts his hoof on the phone, and struggles to transform, he looks at Silver, "He got a call from Prothorax, and last I checked he was looking for the case where we stole it in those alleys. Not sure why he's takin' a lunch break."
>>650032 Quirk hurriedly closes the blinds and nods. "I think we have it. I hope we have it. I'm fairly certain we have it."
He leans his head out to look at Ci'thclone.
"We have the poison, right?"
He holds the flowers up. "A gift, from me, to you, by the way…so you're sure there's no more love pills? Cause I'm dying from hunger and acid. It didn't hurt at all, but my wig is ruined. It's a nice wig, I like it."
>>650036 You get the look down, but a few whispered tests of your voice reveals that you sound a bit like someone doing an impression of Shady, but not the real thing. Given the background noise on Big's line, it could work, if you're careful. "Hah! Dumbass." Big laughs to himself between bites of chili dog as he waits.
>>650035 >>650040 Earth-Prothorax flattens herself against the walls of the bucket in fear of Dirgegun. "Please! I'll massage your shoulders, do your taxes, wash your laundry! Anything! I hate being away from my sisters!"
>>650038 >>650041 >>650042 Blinking sweat out of her eyes, Zeppelin gawks awkwardly at the flowers. "Jeez, coulda waited til I was a bit less sweaty and gross, much?" she plucks a flower out of the bushel and eats it. "Not bad."
She then pulls out another and works it into her mane, setting the rest on a bed, alongside the case. She examines the combo lock and the sides. "Confounded pony locks. Explode, huh? Hmmm… Have you considered finding a pony we could force to do it under threat that we kill his whole family otherwise? You do know the combo, right?"
>>650042 Despite not being a part of any hive, you recognize a lot of the equipment set up in the bathroom from your medical training. It's not particularly advanced, but it's sufficient for toxicology work and for breaking down and studying poisons.
>>650047 "Sisters?" Silver asks, "Are you some kind of composite being made from Changelings that were all candidates to be Queen? Or were you defeated so soundly that you were unable to form a proper single entity?"
>>650047 Once Zandali peeks inside the bathroom she lets out a sigh. "Well it's not much, but I can work with this." She mumbles, turning to Aqui with a hopeful smile. "Well, we're nearly done… We just have to get that case safely open and we can begin working on the cure. Once I finish it, I think it would be best if we rush back to your father."
>>650049 >>650053 https://youtu.be/6Yd1APSaOd4 "N-Not quite. The original Queen Prothorax made the mistake of taking on the Order of Gonys, a company of Griffon paladins, protectors of Griffonstone. Their weapons and magic, borrowed from dragon clans across the sea, nearly undid Prothorax not just in body, but in soul and concept. Had she not escaped, she could have been blotted from existence, no trace at all… and so some of us had to save her. We gave a piece of ourselves to repair the damage done to her very being, and in doing so, coalesced into, well, me. And the other two."
>>650052 "My Hive was my family. And my fellow Equestrian knights after them." Gladius says with unfamiliar reticence.
"He hates answering that. I asked earlier." Corpus whispers.
>>650055 "There you are! Hell were you doing? Twist your ankle or some shit? Take it easy, doofus. You have to wait for the marriage to begin before you run out on it. Heh heh. Get it? Running? Ah, whatever. Listen! The bad news is I'm lost. Don't ask me how I did it, you know I always managed to back at home. Now, good news? Chili dog stand, best I've had, period. Also I'm getting a cab. Let's see, what else…"
"Oh! And Prothorax called. Bad news again: she got attacked by some changelings at a spa, but she's pretty sure she killed at least some of them before she split. Now, what I'm thinkin' is, that sounds familiar. Attacking me and Prothorax the day we're both in Philly? That doesn't sound like a coincidence. Sounds like some inter-Hive shit or whatever. So as soon as I get that case back, we're taking the pesticide to these chumps 'fore we have ourselves a wedding, dig?"
>>650056 "Yeah, for sure." Aqui says. "No point in fighting that thing again." he says with a suspicious glance at Silver. "Don't know what her obsession with it is. Ugh."
Looking down at his ruined leotard, he adds, "Babe, can you sew?"
>>650060 "That's dumb, my idea was a lot better," Silver says as she squints her eyes at the little pony. "So are you a Changeling or an Earth Pony, then?" Dirgegun lifts its front legs up and spreads its wings menacingly.
>>650060 "Hah. Yeah, pretty funny, bro, I get it." Surgas fakes through the static, "Shit, sounds awesome bro, I'm surprised I haven't seen that stand yet, we'll have to hit it up. Don't worry, I learned my lesson on the damn leg."
"WHAT?! My Pro-Pro's been attacked?!" Surgas shakes the phone violently around, "Where are they, I'll kill 'em! I'll fucking BURY them like bones!"
Surgas returns to his regular voice, "Sir, sir, calm down!"
Back to Shady's "FUCK YOU TO CALM DOWN! Where are they, do you know where those bastards are?! Any word from your boys!?"
>>650063 "Yeah, well, suck my eggs, you little wannabee slut! I don't like being almost-erased by ontological weapons any more than you do." she flips you off.
>>650066 >>650063 "Now, I don't know what I am or why an earth pony, I imagine I'm some kind of physical representation of a degree of her powers and nature or something like that. We don't usually split up long enough for individual components to begin existential thoughts.
"Can I have a scone?"
>>650064 Blushing, Aqui quickly conceals himself beneath a blanket to undress. He pushes the leotard and mask towards you from beneath it, remaining concealed. "Luchador code and all. Can't be seen without 'em."
>>650065 You notice Aqui's request to Zandali for help sewing up his leotard (above). Only one of your sewing needles was stolen by the goats, you recall.
>>650068 Your puppet show-tier demonstration amuses Big, chuckling on the other end as you hear him get into a cab. "Well, apparently the Filly cops are more money-hungry than I thought. The whole precinct caught wind of me paying off the dudes from earlier– and I guess you paid 'em off last night or something? Yeah, they called me! Said they'd send me and Haute Couture info about the case as they found it, and they've already got a lead. Shouldn't be long now! Why don't you just chill out for a while? Stress is bad for a healing leg. Leaf through some nudie mags before your ladybug makes you throw 'em all out."
>>650066 >>650065 >>650064 "Well, then… yikes. Who among us is the best with handling explosives or lock-picking? Else we'll just have to either try combos, or, well… yeah." she makes an explosion sound.
>>650072 "Oh of course, can't get a good look at that handsome face of yours now can I?" She says sarcastically with a smile, taking a needle and thread from her medical equipment to fix up his things. >Mend roll if needed [1d10]
>>650089 Silver grins, turning back into her Changeling form and shedding her towel cloak. "Well, I'm sure you wouldn't mind the Queen abusing you for something or other. Maybe I should be a Queen." >>650090 Silver pulls her gun out and shoots one of Quirk's knees. >Cheap Shot, automatically renders target helpless out of battle "Yes, they are, Quirk, and if I catch you with any, you'll get a lot worse than that."
>>650074 "…I don't like the turn this conversation has taken. Why don't we talk about… how pretty you look? You look really pretty. 'Nymphs Illustrated' material, special pinup calendar… edition." she laughs nervously.
>>650085 "Heeeeeeeelllllllp…" Earth-Prothorax whispers at you.
>>650075 Like a surgeon stitching up a victim of war, you pull some sewing voodoo and piece the leotard and mask back together. You'd have to go over them with a magnifying glass to find any evidence of damage.
"Oh gods, how bad is it?" Aqui asks nervously as he listens to you sew.
>>650085 >>650079 Groaning in thought, Zeppelin dives onto the bed next to Quirk, crawling over to put the back of her head on his leg. "Okay, well, we'll have to squeeze the winning numbers out of one of the two dogs somehow. Shady's in the hospital, so we could try him, but that's assuming that the real one knows the code… it could be that we'd have to ask Big himself. Which one of you hunks is gonna volunteer for that?"
Goober and Corpus shrink away. Gladius gets to silent mediation.
>>650076 >>650074 >>650075 "So apparently, this fight broke out yesterday, 'tween some bugponies of different Hives, these goons from Prothorax Hive, and some from another. When they investigated afterward, a pig said he talked to one changeling who didn't re-disguise herself. Being a filthy changeling and all, the cops decided to keep an ear to the ground in case she started stirring up trouble again. You never know with their type."
"And guess who someone saw at the scene of the attack mounted on your poor Pro-Pro?"
>>650090 >>650093 Everyone jumps in fear, except for Gladius, as Silver ganks Quirk.
"Son, you're right and wrong. Yes, drugs are very good: when PONIES abuse them and make them easier to drain of their love and conquer their cities. Drugs are fantastic in that regard, and dealers are our allies."
"But real changelings don't use drugs, son. We use love and the patriotism of our Queen. Remember that."
>>650093 "Heh. Yeah, I guess I wouldn't. What the Queen wants the Queen gets."
As he sees her shoot Quirk in the hoof, he growls, "Hey! I'm the one who gets to hurt my drones!"
>>650093 >>650095 Quirk looks down to his knee, and back up to Silver. "Y'know, I don't think you know how much I've seen in the world while scouting." He leaves the bullet in his leg and sighs as he take out some chewing gum to distract himself from the pain. >not getting up
>>650096 "No problem, Sir Surgas, I'll remember that."
"A public changeling. One that never goes disguised. A nymph. Color, aqua blue. Sound familiar? 'Cause when I got off that train earlier today, there was one bug that matched that description. Standing right next to you."
"I really don't know what to fucking say. You really oughta keep a better tab on who you hire, dipshit." he growls. "If that little bug cuts your ass right as you sit in that fuckin' bed, that'll be your fault. Either you deal with it, or I'm going to do it for you when I get over there."
With that, he hangs up.
>>650098 She scrunches her mouth and looks around, playing dumb.
>>650104 >>650098 >>650099 "Yeah, I was always jealous of the Psijic changelings. They get all the cool mind-control and mind-reading powers." Zeppelin says. She looks down with concern at Quirk, but doesn't approach him, eyes cast nervously on Silver's gun.
>>650102 With an exited gasp, Aqui squirms under the blanket as he tosses on the leotard and mask, then comes out looking good as new. He flexes victoriously, then stops, clutching his side. "Cramp. Cramp, cramp. Ow." he breathes slowly, rubbing his side.
>>650099 He pats his shoulder, "Good on ya, drone. When they use, they lose."
>>650098 "Yeah well, they were my drones first and I was hittin' them first."
>>650104 "I tried to get it out of him earlier at lunch but the subject just wouldn't lead to it. He says it's possible to crack it open WITHOUT the code but, it's dangerous as all hell if we do even the tiniest thing wrong."
>>650107 "……" Surgas stands there silent as he puts the phone in his pocket, demorphing back to his changeling form.
"Alright, well, he knows Silver was leadin' the charge. You gotta stay transformed whenever ya can otherwise we're sunk. Gonna need to fabricate somethin' on Shady following up on you too, to throw him off our trail."
"Anyone know where the REAL Shady is? I saw some of you dealin' with him in that alley before we jumped Big for the case. Speakin' of which, how's that comin' along?"
>>650107 Quirk catches Zeppelin's gaze and gestures her to come closer. "Don't worry, I get shot at least once a week, burnt twice, cut up five…wow, I work in a dangerous job when I think about it…" he looks ahead of himself, "but still, I'm totally fine, y'dig?"
He rummages through his bag to get some tweezers to remove the bullet, and some bandages to wrap it up. He take out alcohol to clean the wound and his digestive system as he drinks the rubbing alcohol. >recovering
>>650110 "Believe you me, Sir, I've seen some stuff…and it's not good," he shudders, "not good at all. But there are good drugs, very good drugs."
>>650107 >>650110 Silver looks over at Zandali with an annoyed frown. "Yeah, well, I'll be needing to think of a new disguise, anyway. I'm thinking maybe something with longer hair."
Silver taps on the side of the bucket with her sword. "Come onnn, this is some interesting information you're holding back, here. Changeling biology's pretty weird, and I'm interested to know more about my own body."
Looking around at Zeppelin, Silver barks, "What are you waiting for? He got shot in the knee, help him." >>650102 "Could I get a mending spell over here, please? I'm still pretty burnt up."
>>650118 "Guess so. Have you tried any combos yet?"
>>650114 "Quirk, shame on you! You're a user?! There ain't no good drugs, Quirk, only the drugs you think are good."
>>650121 He sighs, "Well, just wanna keep tabs on the real one and make sure he and Big don't even know when they're talkin' to their brother, they're talkin' to me. If the real ones met, this phone's usefulness goes down the shitter."
He stares at her, "I told you, this is why we always disguise ourselves. Now the cops AND the biggest gangster on the east Equestrian coast has their sights on your real form. No ifs ands or buts, Zandali, you're picking a disguise from now on."
>>650122 Quirk swiftly shakes his head and hooves.
"No no no, it's not what you think, Sir Surgas, I uh…hold on." He rummages through his bag for painkillers.
"Something like these. I forget what they're made of, but pills like these help relieve pain and stuff. Really useful, actually! I swear! Now, if you take too much, I admit, you've got a problem…but I don't, I swear!"
>>650114 Zeppelin cringes as she watches you self-operate like it's no big deal. Stammering in agreement, she gets you some pillows to prop you leg up with.
>>650119 "Okay… but you can't kill me! Also, I want a croissant! With cream cheese and– and sprinkles! Extra sprinkles. Actually, I'd just settle for the sprinkles. Those are my conditions before I tell you more."
>>650121 Aqui gives you a thumbs up and a wink as you heal Silver's burns, restoring large patches of chitin and clean skin.
>>650110 >>650118 Zeppelin gulps nervously. "Sweet baby Chrysalis, what's wrong with these freaks? It explodes without a combo, it explodes with a combo… jeesh! We better get a sweet dragon ride out of this. We deserve to at least burn this general geographic region as a reward."
>>650122 >>650127 "How about this instead, capture Big and bring him to me. This goes for all of you as well, because this is VERY important. I want that code to the case, the only one who I'm sure we all know has the code is Big Business himself. You bring him to me, I'll torture the information out of him." She says, her eyes now becoming more cold along with her tone. "There's a reason why I became a surgeon in the first place, best I use those skills now."
"Aqui, Sweetie… Could you bring me something that can play classical music? I'll need it for later." She says, her sudden tone shift not changing.
He stares at the suit case. "Hmmm…. if we can't get the combo, we may have to disarm the explosive somehow. We know anyone else who deals in the boom market? This is a bit beyond my paygrade, this ain't nothing like my explosive glop."
[1d10] Appraise the case, try to work out what I can from how the device works without setting anything off.
>>650130 "Now that sounds like not a bad idea. It'll be tough though: I've spent all morning with Big and, from what I can tell, he won't crack easy. You sure you can get it out of 'em?"
He grumbles, "Of course, getting him will be hard too: he's no joke, he can give Prothorax a run for her money and she nearly wiped us all out. We can't make any mistakes like with her: we need a good damn trap to make sure he won't cause trouble."
He stares at his phone, "Course, with Shady's phone, we can get him to go anywhere."
>>650132 "It all depends on what he's willing to give up for just a simple code." She says, grabbing her medical tools and walking into the bathroom with the door open, preparing them by washing them off and sanitizing them.
"Trick him. Tell him you know where I'm staying and I'll inject him with a bit of anesthesia. Should knock him on his ass long enough to be tied up."
>>650133 "I'm going to operate on him without pain relievers."
>>650129 "O-okay. Cupcake in your eye, as the ponies say. Well, because of the residual reality-bending effects of the ontological weapons the Order of Gonys used, I'd probably explode into a self-contained ball of disproven-reality. You might not want to touch it. Then the others would probably lose whatever powers I had. Like, turning into an earth pony, since I'm the part of her dark, queenly soul that can do that. Most changelings think it's part of our body to transform, and while that's partially true, Changeling Queens can evoke a transformation of the soul, making themselves like a perfect version of whatever they're trying to transform into, tapping into the true potential of their target's race and ancestry, going back dozens of generations of memory and power, that's all just floating there in the ether of the soul. But no queen has ever fully unlocked that kind of power. All too busy trying to kill each other or taking care of their kids, I bet."
The party attacked Prothorax at the spa run by Vietneighmese goats while Big was on a wild goose chase near a gay bar in a bad part of the city. They got some very good hits in and it seemed like the battle was turning in their favor, but Prothorax slipped away by splitting herself into three pieces, one of which the party captured. They took their injured back to the motel and tried to figure out what to do with the briefcase, which they didn't have the combination for or a way to disarm the bomb.
Talks among the party turned to ambushing Big. Big said over the phone that he was on the way to the hospital, where Shady is, because he suspected Zandali (who he saw with disguised Surgas at the train station and who was seen at the spa) of wanting to kill Shady. That might be a good place to ambush him.
Corpus, Goober, Zeppelin, and Aqui busy themselves with hushed talk around the briefcase, while Gladius and Buddy busy themselves by teaching Quirk about meditative practices.
>>651464 >>651465 In the relative safety of their motel, Surgas sits on the nearby bed keeping his hooves on his muzzle in deep thought.
"Hmmm, I should come to the hospital too. We lost track of the real Shady, so if there's no 'Shady' there he's gonna think something's fishy. We can arrange the date, Ci'th and Zandali can make prepartions on his 'cocktail' that'll zonk him out for us to interrogate.
He looks around, "HEY! Who all here is too injured to move? Goober, you lie to me and I swear to Her Majesty I'll know. Big is one problem, Prothorax's other two pieces are another. Hell, Shady is a third."
>>651466 He rubs his back spines, "Yeah, the real lil' brother is a gonna be trouble if he and the real Big meet up, we'll totally lose this edge we have goin'. Remind me, anyone see where he went after he got jumped in that ally?"
>>651466 "Nnnooo, not move him, but I think we could maybe move him out of his room to another one-" >>651467 "Wat? What do you mean you lost track of him?" Silver barks out at Surgas. >>651468 "Yeah… maybe I could get to the hospital, and tell Big that they moved him to another one? I think the issue here is whether he'd be more in the mood for talking to his brother about heavy stuff or wanting some pony poon." She rubs her chin in thought.
>>651472 Silver takes the anesthetic, then looks up at Zandali with a disappointed look on her face. "Yeah, well, I need to feed on something, so making goo-goo eyes at him will plump him up a bit, at least." >>651473 "Eh? There's two of you, how did you lose track of him?" She asked, "Especially when he's as messed up as he is?"
>>651468 "Well, that all sounds right good. But I can't exactly intercept him if I don't know where he is, all we know is he's on his way to the Hospital from some chili-dog stand I never flippin' heard of in my whole stay in this Queen-forsaken city. Intecepting him at the hospital may be our only choice."
>>651469 He growls back, "Well, hell, Silver, I wasn't exactly havin' time to babysit him with his brother breathin' down my neck! I saw him get jumped in an ally on our way out of the station and haven't seen him since, I've been keeping his brother in the dark this whole time so how about some damn credit?"
As she asks where he was taken earlier, Surgas murmors.
"Er… where I took him earlier was, uh, not that important. He's leaving a Chili-dog stand now."
>>651470 >>651473 "…Goober, do you actually have training to handle a city-destroying brief-case bomb, or are you just starin' at the gloppin' thing?"
He looks down at his transforming claws as Gladius and Quirk slink still, growling, "Gah, fine. If anyone is feeling up for it, Prothorax's other pieces need to be tracked down. Interrogate the lump we have, if we have to."
He turns to Silver, "Well, the hospital's a waitin' I guess. Better beat him there if we still can. Call us on Shady's number, we need to stay in contact. Try to get a tag on our other targets, drones, and get started on his knockout juice. Do not get too risky with that damn bomb, Goober, we'll have the password soon enough if you can't make headway."
>>651471 She pouts a little at being put off, making herself comfortable against the side of the bucket, before scooting away a few centimeters, wary of Dirgegun.
>>651472 Considering that you saw the ambulance-cart pick up and take away Shady earlier in the day, it wouldn't be very difficult for you to navigate to the hospital itself (St Iron Wall's Mercy) by tracing their steps.
>>651475 "Well I'd say the three of us are handlin' it pretty well right now, sir. We're training ourselves on the go, and there's no better teacher than exp– yeow!"
Corpus honks Goober's nose then gives him a reprimanding waggle of the hoof.
"Whaddya need us to do, sir?" Corpus asks with a salute, Goober reluctantly echoing, also with a salute.
>>651474 "Buy yourself someone to feed off of then, we need to think about getting this case open ASAP."
>>651475 "Well Shady was able to walk down all the way to the train station… maybe you can text him to meet you at a good place to eat near the hospital. At least that would seem less suspicious than finding a group of us there. Speaking of which…" She mumbles the last bit, before trying to shift into a zebra. >Shapeshift [1d10]
>>651477 "Let's backtrack to where Big was before, I have a good idea of where the hospital is."
>>651477 Silver turns the bucket upside down and sits on it.
"So what should we do with the little horse?" She asks, "I'm feeling like we should just kill her, it'll make the rest of her easier to take down."
>>651478 Silver throws the recliner in the room at Zandali for mentioning such a thing for her to do. >Cheap Shot @ Zandali, automatic helplessness outside of battle
>>651479 "Funny how the two of you are almost useless," she says, turning back to them after throwing the chair at Zandali, "But at least you got the briefcase. Why don't you go out and track down Shady? I don't think we need you here to help open the briefcase when we've got two other stooges working on it."
>>651477 Surgas chuckles, looking at Corpus with a grin across Shady's face.
"That's my trooper. We're handlin' Big at the hospital. What I'd like you boys to get on is takin' new forms, and get started tracking down wherever the real Shady crawled off to and Pro-Pro's remaining pieces. Quirk, Gladius, and Zeppelin' can stay and guard the brief-case and our current piece of 'er in the meanwhile. Don't take any risks, you see any piece of her, you tail her and track her but you do NOT engage either 'o them, just call me on Shady's phone."
>>651480 >>651481 He chuckles as Zandali insults Silver, laughing outloud as she throws the recliner.
"Hehehe, well alright, now this is some mutiny I could almost get behind. Good initiative, Zandali, always good to keep your superior officers on their toes a bit. Also a good zinger. Hehe, 'Buy someone'."
>>651481 "Hey, soon as you're done havin' fun, how long you think it'll take you to whip up that drink for Big?"
"Okay, but first things first: Who's stayin' and who's goin' with who?" Zeppelin asks. "Cause I dunno about you, but the prospect of being alone with a fuck-off strong bomb in a briefcase is NOT my idea of a wild Wednesday afternoon."
Corpus shapeshifts into a peacock-griffon with a rich and many-colored plumage. Goober transforms into a skinny greyhound diamond dog. They exchange critical glances.
"You can't be serious." Goober complains. "I could say the same of you– greyhounds aren't even indigenous to the Fillydelphia region!" Corpus counters. "I… what? That's– would you at least just transform into something inconspicuous?" "That's the beauty of the plan, baby– they'll be too razzle-dazzled by my colors to even suspect me."
>>651480 >>651481 Zandali narrowly ducks into the bathroom. The recliner crashes into the door, knocking it off its hinges. Zeppelin and Goober duck for cover while Corpus merely claps.
Quickly turning red, Aqui bounces up on the bed, in preparation to dive in like a wrecking ball on Silver.
"Silver! Holy shit, if you're gonna kill each other, just do it outside so my lab doesn't get broke!" Zeppelin complains.
>>651486 "Excuse me I've done more operations than there are stripes on my ass."
"Tsk, at least this outsider is more of a queen than you are." She retorts.
>>651489 "I could stay, but I might be able to figure out which road Big is going down if we can backtrack to when we last saw him. Though Big knows what I look like as a changeling, don't know if he'll see through my disguise."
>>651489 "Well, ya won't be alone Zep, youll have Quirk and Gladius to keep ya company. I thought leavin' our only other medic in our safe house the best choice, but if you wanna tag along with Corpus and Goober, you're more than welcome.
He looks on at Corpus' stunning, attention grabbing transformation, he stands awed.
"Corpus, your strategy is as brilliant as it is fabulous. That's completely perfect logic, well done drone. I applaud your ingenuity. Goober, take notes in the future soldier."
>>651489 "Alright, alright, Aqui, calm down. This is how changelin's deal with insubordination is all, even it's it well-plotted and humorous insubordination."
>>651492 >>651490 As Silver start's shooting, he growls and tries to put a claw on her shoulder.
"C'mon, Silver, if I stook around beatin' Ci'th for every time he slacks off we'd get nothin' done all day. Though," he coughs. "I gotta say, I continue to admire your technique. Shootin' your own soldiers and all."
>>651492 >>651494 The shot misses. Aqui bounces off the bed and does a Frogsplash! [1d10+1]
>>651493 "Why can't they all be as rational as you?" Goober sighs with a look at Silver and Zandali. "Startin' to think we oughta bail on all this… takin on crimelords business."
>>651495 >>651494 >>651493 Corpus and Goober scoot around towards the exit, still watching the fight with interest. "Well just say the word and we'll hit it. Hospital, right? Or we splitting up? Please don't say splitting up." Goober says.
>>651496 Zandali turns her attention to Goober. "Hey, I just want that damn code so I can make a cure. I'm not the one throwing recliners or shooting ponies." She huffs as she swipes away the needle from Silver, making her way out of the motel. "Come on, I'll just show you the way so I can get away from this crazy queen wanna-be"
She then heads out to the road Big may have taken to reach the hospital, in hopes to cross roads with Big.
>>651496 >>651497 >>651493 He nods his head, "Well, Goober, Corpus, we don't exactly get a lot done but all stickin' to one group, and we got a LOT to do. If Ci'th is gonna go after Shady," He looks at Ci'th, "Then it's better to have someone go with 'im, keep each other safe. Keep an eye out for signs of Prothy's other pieces while you're out there but like I said, do not engage her, we don't know what she's all still capable of even with only 2/3's."
He turns to Zandali, "In the meantime, let me go see my favorite big brother and arrange a dinner that dog will never forget, heheh. Zeppelin! You're in charge while we're gone, if you blow up Fillydelphia, you're demoted."
>>651498 "Son, you don't seem to realize just how close we are to not only taking down one of Her Majesty's remaining Queen competitors, but to an army of loyal dragon allies! This goose is worth the chase, don't ya think?"
Silver still breathes, but is just dazed. Aqui sits her up on the couch, needing several attempts to keep her neck from sliding over to the side.
Zandali leads the party in the general direction of the St Iron Wall's Mercy hospital, a few blocks up from town hall. The construction in the city is still in full swing so progress is slow and requires various stops and starts thanks to the abundance of blocked-off streets.
Eventually, you make it to the hospital. Fairly modern and clean-looking, it has a big statue of a buffalo knight outside. You approach the hospital from the right side, and see an Emergency room entrance and a General entrance next to it.
An ambulance-cart approaches, with a pony riding on the top making a loud siren sound through a megaphone. It pulls into the Emergency cart parking lot, but you don't see them pull anyone out of the back. The medics just go straight in.
>>651502 >>651502 Surgas looks down at Silver's body as Aqui lands on it, snickering at his superior's officer's defeat. "Hehehe… no son, I'd say you pulled out your super at just the right time. Keep her safe, son."
Heading out towards the Hospital, Surgas practices his limp on Shady as he approaches it. He is distracted by the sounds of the siren pony, turning back to look at the odd mammal in confusion. "What the… this whole town is nuts. Can't they even afford sirens?"
He watches the medics go on in, looking back at the ambulance as they leave whoever, if any, person in the back. "Huh… wonder what their hurry was if they ain't got no patient."
[1d10] Following the medics, keeping an eye out for Big on the side.
>>651502 >>651504 The medics rush into the elevator, the one still making that "Wee-woo-wee-woo" noise as they run inside. One mashes the "close door" button the second they're all in.
The hospital is a bit busy today, with many sniffling ponies waiting around in each line. The sounds of whiny babies that won't shut the hell up accompanies the sniffling. It must be cold season for these weak ponies. There's a set of stairs, a door which leads to a courtyard, and the elevator. Two corridors go down the right and left, each of them labeled "Pediatrics" Or whatever the equivalent would be for foals.
>>651505 The mare at the counter starts flipping through folders as you ask your question. "Hmmmm…. okay, I just need your relation to the patient in question." she says.
>>651506 >>651506 Looking around at all the sickly ponies, he feels a little warm at the sight of so many sickly mammals and looks at the elevator. Seeing no way of finding out which floor they stopped on, Surgas takes the time to look at the stairs going up. "Hmm… call me paranoid but, something has me curious as all get out on those medics. I'm goin' upstairs, I'm hopin' Big didn't beat us here."
>>651508 He nods, "Yeah, we should find Big. If he's not in the hospital, he will be soon and we can wait for 'im. If Shady's here, well, we need to make damn sure they don't meet up." >Taking the stairs
[1d10] Keeping an eye out (If I run into Shady, dodging into cover so he doesn't see himself)
>>651507 The mare cranes her neck and squints at you for a couple seconds in scrutiny. "Wheeeeeeeeeeelllllll… okay, thanks for being honest, sugar. You'll find him in 4-206. That'll be on the fourth floor for you, baby. You can take the steeers, they're right over there if you're feelin like burnin some carbs…" she points out the staircase. "Orrrr if you're feelin like a plum potato, you can just sit in the 'vator over younder." she says, pointing out the elevator.
>>651509 >>651510 You bolt up the stairs, taking them two at a time. Deciding to listen for the siren pony's wee-woo-wee-woo, you wait for a few seconds on each floor to listen for the sound. You don't hear it again until you reach the fourth floor, cut off abruptly by a punch.
"Okay seriously, you did that the entire way there, I think they'll know to stay out of our way." "Fine, sorry…"
You hear them, but you don't see them. The stairs lead you out into a hallway, with a corridor to the right and the left.
Surgas gets a text message with an anime jingle. >"OMW fam, meet me in lobby pls"
>>651511 "Thanks. Uh, have a nice day." Ci'thilix says as he heads off towards the stairs, figuring they'd be more clear. Once he gets to the fourth floor, he starts scanning the halls for 4-206, and enters when he finds it.
>>651511 >>651511 >>651512 "Is that what that shit is? I don't know, you and Ci'th are the only changelings I know that get this Annie May thing you keep talkin' about. Sounds kinda too happy, for me."
He reads it aloud, "Oh em double-you, meet me in lobby please. Hmmm, dont' get the first part, but it looks like Big is right down stairs. I better go meet him, try to set that date and get him out of here before it turns out the REAL Shady is in the building."
He turns back towards the wee-wooo ponies, still extremely curious what their rush is. "Hey, Zandali, can y'all do me a favor while I keep Big busy in the lobby? Just see what those two clowns are up to. I have this weird vibe at the back of my gut. And I don't think it's just gas."
>>651514 She hands Surgas the syringe. "Sure, just keep this somewhere on you. Make sure big is somewhere private, the moment you stick him with this stuff is the moment you break your disguise." She says, before heading off to follow the emergency ponies. If she's lucky they may lead her to Shady. >Keeping out for Shady still [1d10]
>>651515 >>651514 He looks at the syringe, "This is the thing that'll knock him out cold, right? How long does it work, we still don't have a place or enough chains to keep him tied down for torture if I use it on him right now."
>>651512 >>651513 >>651514 Everyone becomes increasingly aware of a faint buzzing sound in the distance. It's very muffled, so it must be coming from outside. It's gradually growing in sound. You can roll instant to listen more closely.
>>651513 >>651515 As you head towards 4-206, you hear the voices of the three medics starting to increase in volume.
"How're they doing?" "Good, safe to move." "Paging… okay. Ready." A fourth voice, a mare's, begins to sound. "Hello? Hey, what's going on?" "Something in the IV…" a medic whispers.
You enter a medium-sized patient recuperation room. Three burly earth pony medics are in there, with two beds. The patients' heads are both covered by blankets, and both have portal IVs next to them. The three medics start to push the two patients towards the door, when they see you.
"Scuse us, scuse us. You can't be here. Move it." one of them says curtly.
>>651514 As you head back down to the lobby, you catch sight of a dog across the street from the hospital. He wears a long trenchcoat and a wide-brimmed hat. A glimpse of his face shows that it's Big. He looks around, trying (and failing) too look conspicuous. He glances inside the hospital from where he stands, craning his neck a bit as he sees you.
>>651517 >>651511 He looks at the syringe. "Hmmm… I'll use it when we're ready, can't take any chances with Big after he wakes up. He's gonna need a LOT to keep him down for your 'treatment', doc. Good luck, c'mon down when you find out what they're up to. I'll go see 'im."
>>651518 He flicks his ears in annoyance in response to the buzzing. "What the hell is that.."
[1d10] Rolling to listen in…
>>651518 Moving down the lobby, he spots Big's 'inconspicuous' character, moving down the stairs at a brisk (limping) pace as he makes out of the building and across the street, before slowing down to look more 'cool' and collected to meet with his equally incognito fake-brother.
"Hey Bro, what's with the gettup? You think those changeling fucks are following you? I swear, if I find the buggy bastards who put a hoof on my Pro-pro…" He bares his teeth, growling.
>>651522 It's the sound of an incoming helicopter. As you leave the hospital, you can see a black, unmarked helicopter approaching your general direction from the south.
"You know me, dawg. Allllways prepared." Big says, tapping his signature sunglasses, which he still has on. "Don't worry about her, she's good. Got the Love Colts watchin' after her and everything. So… How's that leg? I trust your 'assistant' hasn't made your injury any worse?"
He bends down and taps your 'weak' leg. A waft of heavy cologne hits you from the neck of his coat. It's the same brand which he wore when you saw him earlier, though it was less noticeable at the time.
>>651521 >>651523 "Reeeeeaaaaallly?" One of the medics asks. "Mind telling me which one you're related to? By name?"
>>651524 "I work for Shady's brotha, you got a problem with him sending us up to check on his brotha?" She asks the Medics, getting in their face a bit as she shifts her tone even more to fit with her form.
>>651524 Surgas twinges as his leg is tapped, but keeps on a pained but confident look. "Erg, hehehe, c'mon bro, I know to look out if someone's fuckin' with me now. My leg is fine, see?"
He stares up at the helicopter, soaring towards them from the south. "That's good… thanks bro. I don't know what I'd do without her. Keep them on her, she isn't going around alone AGAIN until I find these fucks and rip their throats out."
His nostrils twinge at the stench of the cologne, but focused on the helicopter. "Shit, that thing's loud. Anyways, got any more news? My assistant, the cute one you were taking too this morning hasn't gotten me anything yet to go on."
>>651525 "A pony related to a diamond dog?" the medic scoffs. "Beat it. I'm not asking again."
>>651526 "Oh. I see. Well, then." The medic in the lead gestures with his head at the bed on the left. He and one other get next to the bed on the right and head for the door. "If you'll excuse us? We've an order to move this patient."
>>651527 Big pauses to watch the helicopter approach. "Nothing much on my end. Got my colts looking out for any more movement. Prothorax says she's from the Chrysalis Hive. Grody bunch of sore losers, aren't they? Looks like someone's making a play before the world notices their queen is dead. Smart. Suicidal, but I suppose most of them would be. Gotta move quick before the survivors divvy up the territory. That's how we do it, isn't it? Heh."
"Say, you look fit enough to walk, why don't we get a sandwich or two? Relax a bit. I've got eyes out, don't worry."
Surgas freezes mid-sentence, looking at Big while struggling to still keep composure. "… did you say 'dead'? Is that confirmed now? Last I heard she was just blasted away from the palace after their wedding-crashing blew up in their face."
>>651530 "Ain't you ever heard of patient confidentiality, nosey? Shove off unless you want to look at a couple grand in legal fees."
The medic taps the elevator button, then waves at you to shoo you away. Eventually, the elevator opens, and they step in.
The buzzing sound from before is getting louder.
>>651531 As you pull back the blanket, you are met with a very pretty mare, with a beige coat, red mane, and teal eyes. She's in a deep sleep. A glance at the fluid in her IV bag makes you think they gave her a sedative recently.
The buzzing sound from before is getting louder.
"Well that don't look like him at all." Corpus remarks. "Isn't this the room he was left in? I don't get it." Goober adds.
>>651532 "Well they've got no end to the conspiracy theories, usual malarkey like 'the donkeys did it' or 'It was those space ponies', shit like that. Some say the Equestrian guard sent out a squad to put the fly swatter to her, others are still saying she'll come back any day now. Either way she's no longer the threat she used to be. Good news, right? Prothorax will be able to cut a nice slice of that pie for herself once you're married."
The sounds get louder as you see the helicopter start to descend towards the roof of the hospital.
>>651533 "Oh, alright then. I hope you don't mind if I just take this down with you then. Save a trip, you know…" Ci'thilix says as he tries to squeeze into the elevator. Without all the talking of all the medics going back and forth, Ci'thilix ponders n that buzzing sound. "Do you hear that?" >Listen [1d10]
>>651533 Surgas internally begins to worry for his Queen's safety, and remembers to make a point of checking their map later. "Hehehe… yeah, I guess so. See, and you thought there'd be downsides, dawg."
He looks up at the helicopter as it lands on the roof, "Fuck, who do you figure is so damn important. Was I stayin' with some big shot up there I don't know about?"
He turns to look at Big after the sandwich offer. "Eh, yeah, sure, I could go for a bite. And, hey, listen dawg, I did ya a big favor for takin' care of Prothy for me."
>>651533 "Apparently we were mislead." She says, lowering the blanket and sighing slightly. "Let's head back to the lobby. Big should be there but my disguise should hopefully fool him." She mumbles, making her way back to use the elevators.
>>651534 >>651535 The medics complain and grumble as you slink into the elevator before the doors slide shut. One of them even tried to push you back out, but you were too quick. Pressure builds in your hooves as you feel the elevator moving up. By now the sounds are becoming much more clear– it's the whirring of a helicopter's blades.
The elevator reaches a small room, with a door marked ROOFTOP ACCESS, and a stairwell leading down. "Sorry bud, I was gonna tell you you were going the wrong way, but you were just a little too quick there. Guess you'll just have to take the stairs, hmm?" a medic says, giving you a little nudge with his shoulder towards the stairs.
"Let's roll." he says to the other one as they head out onto the roof, keeping the blanket down.
>>651536 Big watches the helicopter land on the roof. You notice something odd: he seems to laugh a little, but his mouth doesn't move. This discrepancy is gone in an instant as he says, "Oh-ho? Really now? You know how much I hate surprises. Don't keep me waiting, pal, what is it?"
He starts to walk a bit down the street at a casual pace.
>>651537 As you head back down to the lobby, the sounds from before become clear as the sounds of a helicopter. You see disguised Surgas standing with Big, who wears a trenchcoat and a wide-brimmed hat on the other side of the street.
>>651538 "Somebody has watched too many samurai tortoise episodes." She mumbles when she spots Big's attire. She makes her way outside to find a nearby spot to listen in while still looking possibly inconspicuous. >Looking inconspicuous [1d10]
>>651538 Ci'thilix steps out of the elevator as they get to the top, looking over at the door. "Wow, must be pretty serous huh?" He takes a step towards the stairs, but follows onto the roof after they pass through the door to follow.
>>651538 Thinking that odd closed-mouth laugh a little on the peculiar side, Surgas' inner curiosity kicks in, further enhanced by an earlier question. >"Cologne…. why would this dog be wearing THIS much damn cologne…" [1d10] Appraise Big Possibly a changeling…?
He laughs, wrapping a claw around Big's shoulders. "Hahahaha! You know, I saw how you were checking out my assistant this morning, bro. Turns out, she thinks you're kinda cute too… so I set you up bro! You're welcome!"
>>651539 You become background pony tier as you get close enough to listen in…
>>651541 Something's odd about his neckline, just at where it meets the top of the trenchcoat. It appears plain, without texture or fur. It's an indescribable color that's like white, but more featureless and empty. Just shape. You spy a tiny bit of it right there where the trenchcoat meets neck.
"Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn straight. Been scopin' that ass for a while now. Hahehehehehe… when and where, eh? Don't tell me- she's already at the sandwich place? You set me up that good?"
>>651540 The helicopter lands on the roof with its blades still whirring. The medics quickly rush over as the doors slide open. As you creep out, you notice the blanket stir back a bit from the rushing wind of the blades. A diamond dog's ear pokes out- the same shade of gray as Shady's coat.
They wrap up the patient in the blanket and load him into the chopper. You notice two guards in the chopper, including one guy who looks to be wearing a series of cardboard boxes…
>>651542 Ci'thilix quickly moves behind the nearest object on the roof to get out of sight. ("Well, we don't have to worry about Big coming here. But… I think I should follow still just in case.") Ci'thilix attempts to change his disguise into a blue pegasus so he can follow the chopper. >Disguise [Autocrit] [1d10]
>>651542 Surgas points out the odd white spot to himself mentally. He grins.
"Heehhehehe, hell ya, bro, what do you take me for? Well, not at the sandwich shop you were about to suggest, I'm not a damn psychic, but I think I can call her right over there, she's ready to meet ya dog."
He slaps him hard on the back, "I mean, it just had to freakin' happen man. You and those… man, tell me how you described that rump o' hers, again?" >"The answer y'all are looking for 'lovely patterns'… ya fake fuck."
>>651545 "Hmm? Uh, they were the ones with the, cross'n pattern, right? Kinda that weird vintage aesthetic. What was it, again? Said some shit like…"
As you slap him on the back, you feel an initial pressure, then suddenly it gives way. Your paw feels like it's moving through water, then thick smoke. Big tumbles forward, his paws dissipating, first becoming white and textureless, then vanishing altogether like smoke.
A loud plastic clattering sound is heard as Big's head vanishes into smoke. You see a walkie-talkie hit the ground. You hear a faint surge of magic backfire in the distance, followed by a groan and a clattering of hooves.
"Lovely patterns!" Big's voice comes from the walkie-talkie. "Yeah, some shit like… that… what were those noises? I could've sworn I just heard… Welp. Illusion's up, isn't it?"
"Well… that's not so bad after all now is it? Heh. Heheheheh. Hehehehehe… Nah, that's not such a bad thing. Not anymore, anyway."
The party went to the Saint Iron Wall's Mercy hospital, where Shady Business was being kept while resting off the leg injury he sustained during the failed attempt to summon the Honkerlord. Zeppelin and Ci'thclone stayed behind in order to guard the briefcase bomb containing the poison, as did Silver, who was knocked out cold by Aqui's frogsplash, performed in retribution for attacking Zandali.
Upon getting there, they learned that Shady was being held in room 4-206. Some suspicious medics, who rushed into the hospital without a patient, and clambered into the elevator, caught their attention. It turned out that the medics were headed for room 4-206 as well.
In room 4-206 were two patients, but the medics got there first, and covered both patients' heads with blankets. When Ci'thilix claimed that he worked for Big Business and was sent to check on his brother, the medics obliged, and left behind one of the beds, but took the other one with them. In that bed was an ordinary-looking mare that none of them had ever seen before.
>>651750 Ci'thilix followed the medics up to the roof, where they took the other patient. Soon, a helicopter landed on the hospital roof, and the medics rushed up there. The breeze from the helicopter blew back the blanket, revealing a bit of diamond dog ear, the same color of gray as Shady's coat.
At least three figures can be seen in the chopper, two guards in black armor, and one equine covered in what looks like a shitty mecha cosplay made out of cardboard boxes. The cardboard pony approaches the figure in the bed, and starts to sniff him. "He's clean! Page the boss." he shouts over the hum of the helicopter blades.
You detect a faint hint of changeling pheromone in the air.
>>651751 >>651753 Surgas met with Big Business outside the hospital. Big was covered in a trenchcoat and wide-brimmed hat and wore a lot of cologne, for some reason. Surgas caught a glimpse of textureless white, instead of fur, where the trenchcoat met Big's chest. He also noticed Big's mouth not moving in synch with some of his laughs. This prompted a bit of testing from Surgas to see if it was a changeling or the real deal.
Surgas patted Big on the back, which caused Big to evaporate into colorless smoke. A walkie-talkie fell out of the body, then said something about an illusion.
Through the walkie-talkie, Big's voice says, "I didn't expect that illusion to be so flimsy. Guess you don't always get what you pay for, hmm? Heheheh. Well then. You'll have to excuse my absence, dear… brother, but I find it a bit risky to be out and about when shapeshifters are making big plays across the city.
"I'm sure this all seems a bit paranoid, it's just that, well, things haven't exactly been adding up around here. When 'you' and I left that bar, you'll recall that I got a bit lost on account of some rather inaccurate directions. How convenient. When I couldn't find my way back to the city, I realized I was burning time and called my good friend Chanel to check in on his progress. Now apparently that poor guy's been seeing double– according to him, he had just spoken to me just up the street! What was I calling him for? But I could have done no such thing, here on the wrong side of the tracks, now could I?
"I trust you understand where I'm going with this?"
>>651752 You had a long and relaxing meditative session with Gladius, interrupted only by Gladius falling backwards on the bed and beginning to snore. Buddy is inert, next to him. As you come out of your meditative trance, you see that an unconscious Silver has been propped up on the couch with a pillow, and that the room shows signs of fighting, with the bathroom door torn off and bullet holes riddling the floor.
Zeppelin is outside, sunning herself with one of those reflective sheets, and slowly emptying a bag of french fries.
>>651752 Surgas stares down at the walkie talkie (still in the form of Shady Business), with a sly grin forming along his lips before he moves himself back into character.
"Br-bro?! What the heck, dog, you didn't think I was me?! I'm your own brother, Big… but, yeah, I guess I see where you're coming from." He growls, "Well, are ya comin' back INTO the city, dog? I can't do this alone, I need you at my back."
He growls, "Wait, they turned into YOU? Holy… these changelings just keep trying to piss me off. So what, this show was trying to see if I was one of them too, then?"
>>651756 You shapeshift flawlessly. The medics wrap the figure in the blanket, and gingerly lift him off the bed and load him into the chopper, while one of the guards takes out a pager and begins to tap away at it. "Ugh, this thing is hard to type on with hooves. Why'd he give us these, he knows we don't have fingers…" the guard complains.
>>651757 >>651758 "Oh no, not me, I never lost control… you're face-to-face… with the dog who sold the world. Mmm! How can one song be so catchy?" Big jives with a condescending laugh. "You could say that. Between my unusual dialogue with Chanel, mixed with the sighting of Miss No-Disguise and a team of other changelings at the spa, whom 'your' lover Prothorax identified as being from Hive Chrysalis, AND the report from the Love Five that they got their asses handed to them by a team of 'unknown' changelings, one of whom was perpetually undisguised, and seen with a teen dragon in a stupid yellow wrestler getup…
Aqui turns white as a sheet.
"Yes, I'm a bit worried about some bugs in my house. My boys in the area confirmed with the Saint Iron Wall's Mercy hospital that Shady Business had not been discharged from his room yet. Now it's just a matter of which one I'm speaking to right now. Tell me- what room were you in? Did any medics come by? Did they someone off to the roof just now? Because they say they did. But, of course, being my beloved little brother, you of all dogs would know what's right and what's wrong around here, riiiiiight?" Big taunts, before breaking into more derisive chuckling.
>>651755 As Quirk slowly comes to, he looks around the room and what's become of it. With a sigh, he hops of the bed.
He cringes in pain as he remembers his earlier gunshot wound, and limps over to Zeppelin, leaving Gladius and Buddy to sleep. He makes sure that he's well behind her before he says something, so as not to surprise her too much.
"Hey Zepp. Why does the room look like a warzone?"
>>651759 Ci'thilix steps a bit towards the edge of the building from behind his hiding spot. [Let's hope they won't be able to spot me out while I follow them.] He attempts to fly, hovering down just below the hospital's roof and circling around to be closer to the helicopter to be closer to track. >Flight [1d10]
>>651762 "Oh, the others got into some argument about how to get the combination out of Big, and Silver threw the recliner at Zandali. Then Aqui did some dumb wrestling move on Silver and now she's knocked the fuck out. I'm just gettin' some rays while I wait for either my inevitable vaporization by the bomb, or for them to come back. Whichever comes first."
>>651764 As you fly around the side of the building, you catch a snippet of a voice. "Wait, that smell… hold on…" some sniffing noises follow. "We're being followed!" "Where's it coming from?" another gruff voice asks. "I don't know!" the first one responds. "The jig is up, they're closing in on us! Move move move!"
You hear the helicopter doors slam, and the engine accelerates as the chopper starts to ascend.
>>651765 >>651763 "Oh. Oh oh oh, my my my… That's a very dire accusation, there, brah. One of the Love Five was aboard that chopper. Love… fuckin' Pink, or whatever it was, they always change those stupid names… But, you don't think– you don't think that Love Pink is conspiring against me, is he? How terrible!" Big mocks.
"Aboard that chopper is a team of guards and one of the recently stitched-up members of Queen Prothorax's last remaining guard. You honestly think they would either a) fail to sniff out a fake… or b) attempt to betray me, jeopardizing Prothorax's chance to absorb the love of Shady Business… wherever he might be?"
You hear the sound of the helicopter engine intensifying. A distant beep comes from Big's end of the walkie-talkie transmission.
"Hmm. The helicopter team's telling me some interesting things. Tell me… is that dragon with you?" Big continues, more slowly and smugly.
>>651766 [Oh geez, I thought I wasn't close enough to get sniffed. Don't even know how to contact the others if I follow, but it'll be more trouble to go finding it later…] Ci'thilix quickly zips after the helicopter, trying to dash under it and grab onto the underside as it lifts off the roof before they notice. >Sneak Latch [1d10]
>>651766 Zandali picks up the walkie talkie and begins talking to Big in a cold tone of voice. "I heard you were talking about me a little while ago." she turns to aqui and whispers "Follow him." and suggests to surgas.
>>651766 Surgas sighs in defeat. He returns to his regular voice.
"Well… shit. Guessin' if you have Pro's personal changelin's on the case, I can't really turn y'all around on that. Good while it lasted though, ya dumbass mutt. Hope y'all don't think this is over by a long shot. We still got a few aces up our sleeves."
He looks at the helicopter on the roof, readying his wings for flight.
He says away from the walkie, "Hey, Aqui: you good to fly, boy?"
>>651768 The helicopter starts to fly off at full speed ahead, but you zip low and quick after it, and manage to snag onto one of the landing skids. You've got a good grip at the moment, but you can make an optional roll to get a more secure one.
>>651767 "Ahdunnah." she says with a mouthful of fry. She pokes your cheek with another fry. "You can have the crunchy ones, I don't want 'em. They're gonna do some convoluted hooha to try to get the code out of Big, with Shady as a hostage I think. I'm just here to watch the explosive."
"If they fail, though… well, Silver'd be our commanding officer in that case, right? Or, maybe she is right now. I always forget who outranks the other. But right now, she's still zonked out. Whiiiich means we'd be like, leaderless right?"
She twirls some of her mane. "Which would then leave us free to… you know, just kinda go off and find Chrysalis on our own, without stirring the hornets' nest like the rest of them. Hypothetically of course."
>>651769 >>651770 Surgas shapeshifts successfully. At the rate at which the helicopter is moving, he can't pinpoint any exact weaknesses. It looks very durable, at least. Surgas does notice a blue figure latch onto the landing skids as the helicopter speeds away.
Aqui spreads his wings and nods. Goober quickly shapeshifts into a griffon, while Corpus ruffles his feathers, apparently also ready to fly.
"Mmm? Who's on the line now?" Big asks. "Oh! You must be the infamous Undisguisable. How good to finally speak to you. I was just wondering whether you were the leader of this little cabal or a mere subordinate. Perhaps if you won't listen to me, then your lover just might."
Aqui grits his teeth and stares dead at the walkie-talkie.
"So, his name is Aqui. The only non-changeling at the spa, according to Her Majesty. I won't pretend to know exactly how this hatchling became wrapped up in all this. Maybe you're mere mercenaries who've taken his cause. Maybe he's some mere pawn in a greater overarching scheme of yours. But, I believe I've become well-acquainted with his father, haven't I? Hmm hmm hmm. Poor guy's got a case of food poisoning, I hear?"
"Son of a bitch!" Goober mutters under his breath.
"Listen close, dragon. If you and your parasite companions ain't out of my hair and out of it quick, a second 'present' will get sent to Neighagara Falls. A much louder, more immediate one than the last, you dig? But wait– don't tear apart your mercs just yet. If it comes right down to it, and I send the present to your father… I'll make it a special one, just for you. Somewhere in the present, I'll include the code to unlock the briefcase. No tricks, no traps, no questions asked. You'll have your antidote, no strings attached."
"So you can either have your changelings stand down right this second, and I'll send the present with special instructions to hand over the code… or you can continue to be a thorn in my ass, and I'll still send the present– with orders to exterminate the target on sight. Your choice."
>>651772 Quirk takes the fry and flicks it into his mouth. "Thanks. And I suppose Silver would be our commanding officer, should the others perish, which would be a damn shame. I don't like Silver, not one bit."
He tosses the puzzle in his bag before looking up. "Finding Chrysalis on our own, eh?" he continues to stare up at the sky as he thinks.
>>651772 "I'm just a Medic, but if I was forced to pick one then I guess I'll say 'Subordinate'. If he wants to agree to you then he can go on ahead, but I have another plan in mind. Let's talk for now, you're a business dog aren't you?" She stands there as she talks to the walkie talkie as if Big were right there.
>>651772 Surgas growls, "Threaten my future mount, will you you furry tit-sucking son of a warm-blooded furry mammal."
He looks to Zandali and Aqui, "You talk 'im down, say whatever you need to say to keep him occupied. No way he'll let your daddy be cured knowing he'll come burninate his ass afterwards, so don't believe a word he says. I'm taking out Pro-Pro's crew over to OUR side… changeling style."
He looks to Goober and Corpus, "You two, on my wing, take off! Circle the chopper, we can outmaneuver it. Keep them distracted, and I'll gunk up its motors with my glop till it descends. Ready? Move out!"
He takes off, making for the chopper wit them as it takes off.
[1d10] Do I need to roll to keep up with the chopper? If not, I'd like this to be my first Trap roll to start blocking up its rotors.
>>651773 The rushing of the wind and the constant hum of helicopter blades drown out any kind of distinguishable sounds you may be able to pick up from under here. A harsh bit of turbulence makes your grip on the skid warble a bit.
Roll instant to secure it, DC 4
>>651774 "Hypothetically, after all. It'd probably be a bit safer than tangling with a couple crimelords and the frickin' rival changeling queen one of them's got a crush on."
She rolls onto her side to get a better look at you. "'d be just you and me, plus Gladius and… whoever managed to survive tousling with them. Sweet baby Chrissy, I wish not all of them went with Surgas."
"I'm sure this all sounds like a lotta insubordination… I'm just saying we should keep our options open, huh? Worst case scenario and all." she says with a bit of worry.
>>651775 >>651776 "Five minutes, drones. That's how long you have before I make my move."
>>651775 "I'm listening?" Big adds with a mix of curiosity and boredom.
>>651776 >During this sequence, keeping up with the chopper will be necessary, but instant. Not this round, however, that's for gauging your initial progress in chasing the chopper.
>>651776 >>651775 Surgas, Goober, and Corpus take off in the direction of the chopper. Aqui tries initially to fly after them, but his wings lock up and he only get a few inches off the ground.
As S, G and C chase the chopper, they become aware of four shadowy equine figures chasing after them in turn. You try to get a good look at them, but each of them seems to be wearing cardboard boxes over their bodies.
>>651777 Quirk stares right into Zeppelin's eyes. "Insubordination or not, it's a good idea. One that I'd take right now, to be honest, I forgot why we made this pit-stop in the first place, I just wanna find the queen and go home."
He goes back to looking at the clouds, with a frown on his face. "Have you ever wanted to explore?"
>>651777 >>651773 Surgas turns around to look at the shadowy equine creatures with the cardboard boxes.
"Damn it, of course he'd have back up…" he turns to look at Ci'th on the underside of the helicopter, smiling. "Ci'th! Perfect timing son, I need a cloud, a big one! Goober, Corpus, focus on the chopper, we'll lose those sons of mammals yet…"
[1d10] Flying after the choppah
[1d10] Trap on Chopper, hocking up a loogie to spit into the blade motor.
>>651777 "I know you're probably not going to give a shit. I don't know where you are and honestly I have no way of stopping you. What I can do is instead try to find your brother… and torture him to tell me everything he can to find out every single bit about you. When I'm done with him, I'll hunt you down and torture the code out of you. Even if you do something to Aqui's father I'll still get the enjoyment of hearing your screams before I slice out your tongue." She then moves to lean up against a nearby building wall.
"But, if you give me the code then I'll leave you and your brother alone and you'll never hear of me again. Unlike other changelings I won't try to deceive you, why else would I walk around undisguised?" She says, never losing her cold tone. >Persuasion to convince to hand over code [1d10]
>>651778 "The others agreed that, not only would taking a dragon to wherever Chrysalis landed equal a BIG promotion and pay raise, but it'd be a lot faster and safer than just trying to get back to the hive on hoof. I've checked the map, but it hasn't shown any movement from Chrysalis since we landed… so who knows how fruitful that would be."
She looks up at the clouds with you. "Well, sort of. You mean like dungeons and monsters and shit? Well… sort of? Not like I've ever had much a chance to do it. All the movies we've seen at the hive make it look like shit, honestly. Getting eaten by trolls or… or abducted by killer bats or eaten up by spiders? Yeugh. If it were a horror movie, I'd def die right after the zebra does."
"Not so fast, ne'er-do-well!" a familiar voice screams, causing your ears to ring. The four equine figures toss off their cardboard boxes and drop altitude to come closer.
"Not these chumps again…" Goober complains.
You recognize them as the Love Five, minus Love Pink. Each of them wears a shiny, flexible metal costume which completely covers their exoskeletons. Red's has a cape, and dragon fangs around the mouth. Yellow's has a collar of speakers around the neck, and a disco ball in the chest. Green's helmet looks really sad, and he has a belt full of baseballs, and a baseball bat with him. Blue's has wings which are three times the normal pegasus size.
"Gaze upon us, evildoer! We are no longer the Sunday 2AM anime timeslot jobbers of yesterday! We are the knights of the cocoon of tomorrow! We are 「Shining Hyper Incredible Team, Version 8.3: Love!」
"RED! BLUE! GREEN! YELLOW! AND PINK IF HE WERE HERE!" they declare as one, with Green looking much less enthusiastic.
"Shining Hyper Incred… pffffft!" Corpus begins to snicker.
"…AND YOU WILL GO NO FURTHER! FINAL WARNING, ASSHOLES!" the Shining Hyper Incredible Team declares, getting in your way as the helicopter speeds off.
>>651782 "Finally! Finally, finally. Someone reasonable. Someone with a proper business sense. I didn't think they'd be so rare among the changelings. I have no personal vendetta against your Hive, in fact, if your queen were right here, I'd be more than down for a perfectly civil partnership, all nice and friendly.
"So let's get to brass tacks, drone. What are your exact terms. A trade in person or over the phone?"
>>651781 >>651779 You manage to hold on tight to the skid. The helicopter heads in the direction of the coast. You hear some commotion behind you, but it's too far away to be distinct.
Inside the chopper, you hear faint overlapping voices, talking about a countdown until a 'final move' gets made by Big, and some medical talk involving Shady.
>>651783 "I'm the only kind of my hive, so keep the nice and friendly up. We could meet, but I'm not sure I would be comfortable talking to someone in a room full of guards… So let's meet somewhere to figure something out first before we make the trade. How about you take me out to dinner?" She asks, looking at the distance where surgas flew off to. "You can bring one bodyguard if it makes you feel safe." >Persuasion roll more in case needed [1d10]
>>651783 Quirk scoffs. "Pay raise and promotion, eh? Load of bollocks, more like."
Quirk grimaces at Zeppelin's statement. "No!" he stomps his hoof. Hard. "No! No! No!" He stomps with each "no" "That is all wrong, all of it! Wrong!"
He takes out his anger on the ground. [1d10] "All they do is scare you! Scare you! Scare you! It angers me to no end!" He looks at Zeppelin "Those movies," his voice still shaky, "all of them are wrong. Every single one, full of cliché and bs. The outside is amazing, glorious, beautiful. M-many adventures to be had, individuals to meet, places to see…"
He hangs his head, "and we're cast out of it because we're changelings. Those trolls and bats and spiders, all dumb reasons to keep you inside…" He lies down.
>>651784 "You know, on second thought, it may be harder than normal to meet you for dinner, where I'm going. Sticking around to watch this farce fall apart is a bit too dangerous with all the shapeshifters around; you understand, don't you?"
"Here are my terms. Call off any and all attack on my forces, agree to allow the helicopter depart in peace, and allow the wedding between Prothorax and Shady Business to continue unabated. Prothorax –no, not you, hold on, I'm talking to them right now– just ignore that, a little background negotiation. Prothorax will allow Chrysalis a three day grace period before making any movement into territory owned by another Hive… and I hand over the code. Painless enough, yes?"
>>651786 "TEAMWORK POWER OVERDRIVE! GLOWING FRIENDSHIP!" BLUE declares, martyring himself by throwing himself at the glop. He starts to plummet as the glop bunches up his wings.
"FORBIDDEN WRASSLIN' SENTON BOMB!" RED shouts, flopping and diving at Surgas [1d10+2]
"Baseball… something." Green mumbles, throwing a baseball at Goober. [1d10+2]
"FUTURE SO BRIGHT!" Yellow declares, his disco ball shining at Corpus. [1d10+2]
Goober and Corpus attack their respective attackers. [1d10+2] [1d10+2]
>>651787 As you pull yourself up towards the door, your hoof catches on the skid and you stumble a bit, hitting your chin against the side of the door. You feel a bit of shuffling come from within the chopper. Someone's coming to take a look. Roll to hide, instant.
>>651785 Zeppelin is shocked at first, but sits and listens, captivated as you stomp and strike a fearsome figure.
"H-how much of it have you seen? I– I did doubt that the tapes were giving us the whole picture, once or twice. That waterfall, Neighagara Falls, that forest… when I first landed, I was damn terrified, I thought we'd be gobbled up in seconds, but… it was still beautiful too, in a kinda creepy, horrible way. What else is like that, out there?"
Roll #1 10 + 2 = 12 / Roll #2 9 + 2 = 11 / Roll #3 1 + 2 = 3 / Roll #4 4 + 2 = 6 / Roll #5 10 + 2 = 12
>>651788 "Sounds reasonable to me. Your brother gets happily married, we get the code, Prothorax gets a meal, we stop becoming an annoyance to you. Problem is, I'm not even sure these changelings will listen well enough to me. As for Chrysalis, that business is between you and her drones since I have no say in her hive as I am not one of them." A sudden realization dawns on her as she talks.
"You may want to watch out for one drone in particular, the one that had attacked Prothorax first. She ruined my relaxing spa trip as well as hers, a bit of a loose cannon that one is… Radio over to the chopper and tell them to say this to the ones flying at them. 'Zandali said to return back to her, immediately.' They're idiots so I apologize if they don't listen."
>>651788 "HEY! You got in the way of my shot ya lil' blue waste of insect!"
He turns up to look at Red as he charges him, "Oh, blast it… alright, if i have to take on you loud over flashy excuses for soldiers, I'll do it first! What kind of disgrace are you, shoutin' your attacks?! You're totally dropping the element of surprise, numb-skull, your enemy shouldn't know what hit 'im till you're gloating over their dead body!"
[1d10+2] Charged Explosive on Red [1d10] Keep up with that chopper!
>>651788 Quirk takes a deep breath to calm himself as he sets his bag on the floor. He rummages inside of it, and pulls out a mark littered with circles, crosses, and many other signs and symbols. There seems to be a vast amount of circles, and only a few x's. "X's are places I've been, not too many, as you can see. I've visited Canterlot before, through means I won't elaborate on, but it was nice. The forests and the mountains all have their fair share of monsters and Beasts, but with the right amount of knowledge and skill, they don't prove much of a challenge."
He looks at Zeppelin "But during my time outside, I've seen so much. Beautiful forests, enormous trees, wildlife living in peace, ancient ruins long forgotten. The outside world is full of all kinds of adventures and stories just waiting to be experienced and shared. Certainly beats living in the hive all day long."
He stands up and looks directly in front of him. "I always wanted to leave the hive, ever since I first layed eyes on what Equestria has to offer, but my loyalty to the queen hold be back." He looks back. "But after I met Sir Gladius, I wondered if I could live among ponies, like he did. I questioned if I could make my own home, instead of forcing myself to return to my current one."
Quirk sighs. "I just don't know what to do anymore."
>>651791 "Well, hopefully this loose cannon of yours will see the wisdom in your very… economic approach. Just a moment, if you will."
Aqui is holding his head and leaning against the nearest building, ghost-white.
>>651789 >>651790 The helicopter door slides open about an inch, and an armored black muzzle and hoof poke out and scan the horizon. Before you can be caught, you scuttle back beneath the belly of the chopper, avoiding their sight.
You hear voices yelling within the chopper, talking about a deal, a negotiation between Big and one of 'the changelings, Zandail'. The chopper slows slightly.
>>651792 "NO TRUE KNIGHT HIDES BEHIND COWAR–" RED begins, before you hit him with explosive gack. He plummets and crashes into you, knocking you out of the air and sending you hurtling downward. You manage to keep your fall in the direction of the chopper, which you notice is slowing.
Goober screams as the baseball hits him in the teeth, and explodes, burning him severely.
Corpus starts to throttle Yellow, who ends up blinding himself with his own disco ball.
Green picks up another baseball, when he stops and holds his ear. "Uhhh…"
>>651792 "M-Mister… leader guy? I-I know you don't like talking in the middle of a fight, but… b-but, u-uhm… they want us to stop fighting, a-and to tell you, 'Zandali says to return back to her immediately, th-there's a d-d-deal going on. I'm not lying, I promise."
>>651793 "He left his Hive, huh… I did overhear them when Corpus asked about that but I just didn't think much of it. It's just so… unthinkable. I mean, what do you do all day if you're not in a Hive? At home I'm always busy, busy busy busy, but I've never really had it any other way. I mean… sure, getting lazy is fun sometimes, but I'm not Goober, I'd go nuts if I didn't have the Hive duties to occupy me. But like, you, I mean– you could handle yourself, for sure. I mean, you went across, like dimensions or some shit, yesterday, right?"
>>651794 "COWARDICE?! It ain't about cowardice ya pony-brain, I'm talkin' about strategy, suspense! What tension is there if you out right say what you're doing before for y'all do it? You should do it AFTERWARD, like this. EXPLOS-"
He looks up at Green, pausing as Red causes him to plummet. He growls, and tries to stand back up.
"Ah yeah? What kinda deal, larvae?" [1d10] Recovering
>>651794 Quirk smiles. "When you're not in a hive…you have to survive. If you're hungry, you have to work for love. If you're lacking shelter, you have to make your own. Every day is something different. A new lesson learned, or a ruin explored. Sure it gets boring and sure, it sucks being a loner, but it's nice not having to obey anypony except for yourself. You decide to get lazy, you're gonna pay for the consequences. If you work hard, you'll reap the benefits without needing to share," he lifts his bag up, "stuff like this."
He chuckles. "Yeah, I fell into another dimension, saved Buddy and Gladius in the process. Sure, stuff like that doesn't happen every day, but it sure won't happen in the hive any time soon."
>>651796 You smash onto the rooftop of a nearby building, with RED having the good fortune to have you break his fall. A small crater is left on the rooftop.
Goober continues to fall. Corpus continues to throttle Yellow for a few moments in wild glee, until Green flies over and taps him on the shoulder.
GREEN continues to press his hoof against his ear. "Okay, they're saying… something about a trade. I guess she talked to Mister BB, and he's gonna 'give them the code and let the dragon dad go' if you guys let the helicopter go. That's what Zandali said apparently. But if you keep attacking us, it'll be 'real deep shit for them'… I guess that means you."
Corpus laughs out loud. SHIT! Their name spells SHIT! You fuckin' dweebs."
>>651797 The cool ocean breeze greets you as the chopper continues to slow. You've almost reached the coast, where you see a sleek, long cruise ship making its way out to sea, but suspiciously curving toward inland.
>>651795 "I'm just… finding this all a bit hard to believe. He came so close to dropping another bombshell on my family when I'm so far away from them… This close." he says, holding up two claws with a centimeter of space between them.
>>651798 "Sounds so… uncertain. Insecure. I can't… I just can't imagine seeing that, every day. Though, i guess there is a certain kind of order to it? An order of disorder. Only certain thing being no certainty… Just makes me dizzy thinking about it." she muses. >Paused
Big revealed that, through a combination of speaking with the goons of Haute Couture, as well as receiving the testimonials of the Love Five, the Vietneighmese goats whose spa was trashed, and Prothorax, he unraveled, more or less, the gist of the party's plan to make attempts on his life. He wasn't exactly sure of their complete motivations, but emphasized that he bore them no ill will and was willing to negotiate for a peaceful solution.
>>652603 You hid aboard the landing skids of the chopper carrying away the unconscious Shady Business from the hospital. While eavesdropping, you heard talk of a negotiation taking place between Big and Zandali. The chopper slowed down while en route to the coast, where you could see a large ship pulling in to the dock.
The chopper idles in place. You use this opportunity to look back, and see the Love Five, wearing spiffy and overly-detailed new metal costumes, in some kind of standoff with Surgas, Goober, and Corpus.
Back in the motel, your clone sees Silver waking up on the couch. There's also some music videos playing on the TV.
>>652602 The Love Five, now named the「Shining Hyper Incredible Team, Version 8.3: Love!」, made every effort to delay you while the chopper flew away. Your fight was cut short when GREEN announced that the fighting was to stop, as Big Business and Zandali were opening negotiations.
RED snaps at Corpus and YELLOW, who are having a slapfight on the roof where you landed. "Hey! Don't make fun of our name, you super-jerk! I'll have you know we were rated the #3 most entertaining guard group back in our warren!"
RED rolls off you and dusts himself and his magnificent cape off.
>>652604 You gradually come to after Aqui's frogsplash sent you into a stunning and cramped unconsciousness. You wake up on a couch, a small plate of hayfries on your lap, your neck propped up properly with a pillow. Ci'thclone is nearby, along with the bomb. You see Zeppelin and Quirk hanging out outside.
>>652606 You had a long philosophical conversation about freedom and life outside the Hive with Zeppelin, who seemed curious but generally opposed to leaving the Hive, fearing the lack of structure, discipline, and security.
"You sound like you've thought about this a lot." Zeppelin says, watching clouds gone by. "I'll be honest, this is probably the most I've ever considered something like this." she leans back and looks back at Silver through the window. She cringes. "Guess who's up?"
Surgas grunts as Red rolls off of him, "Yeah, that's right, roll off ya flashy egotistical bag of dried glop. Wearin' a cape into battle, you got no shame do ya son? This is WAR, not the damn comic of cons."
He begins dusting himself off, "CORPUS! Cease fire means cease FIRE, cut it out." He looks at Green, "Well, string-bean, don't skimp out on the details, what the hell kind deal is goin' on here?"
>>652608 >>652609 >>652611 "Yeah, they went to the, the, uh… the whatchacallit. Um… Saint Wall hospital!" she snaps her hoof. "That's it. They were gonna kidnap Shady while they had the chance or something. You got a pretty nasty KO there by Aqui." Zeppelin confirms. "How's the neck?"
>>652611 "…What if," Zeppelin whispers, "When we're out of here, we go back to the Hive and… I dunno, ask around, see if anyone else feels like that? We can't be the only ones who have this on our minds."
>>652612 "Oh, I radio'd to them alright." Big says between crunches, "So, y'know, if this blows up in your face, it'll be from your drones' antics. Just summ'n to keep in mind."
You catch Surgas' voice yelling at someone. Your eyes are drawn to a nearby rooftop, where you see what appear to be the Love Five, minus Love Heart, having an uneasy exchange with Surgas.
>>652613 RED ignores you, busying himself with stoically surveying the battlefield. Corpus and YELLOW mutually phase out their slapfight after a few last hits. The final exchange is of dirty looks.
"So… um… if I have this straight, um… it's… if we give you the code, and agree to stay out of Chrysalis territory for a few days, then y-you'll leave us alone and we can all be happy and safe. I think that's a very good deal, personally. I mean I'm no leader but, if I were in your shoes, I would very certainly take the deal." GREEN mumbles hopefully, wringing front hooves in worry.
>>652609 The chopper increases its elevation while gradually re-approaching the site of the confrontation between Surgas and the Love Five.
>>652616 Zandali sighs and brings the radio with her, but she attempts to fly up to join the others. >Rolling for flight in case [1d10] >If zandali gets there. "HEY! SURGAS! Stand down so we can make a peaceful agreement with Big!" She yells to him.
>>652616 Surgas leaves Red to brood heroically as he surveys Green, sizing up the squirt as he rubs his chin, "Hmm… sounds almost too good to be true. Diabolically ideal, one might say."
He circles Green, "So we're gettin' out of each other's wings for a while, but how do we know this 'code' ain't one of the ones that are gonna make the whole thing blow up then and there? Y'all got a helicopter takin' the one thing he cares about in this city outta here, and I can't imagine he'd be too happy on us all gettin' what's inside of the case. If I were him, I'd be thinkin' of swattin' three bugs at once and give us somethin' that'll blow us all straight down to Tartarus."
>>652618 As you fly up to the roof, you see the Love Five wearing shiny, metal new outfits which cover their whole bodies. GREEN, YELLOW, and RED are present, as well as Corpus. BLUE and Goober enter from the roof access, having what appears to be a casual conversation.
>>652617 "Totes. Not too many, since we'd draw attention, but maybe we could slip out on an… exploratory or whatever adventurers call it, we could just say we were out on a mission or something." she agrees.
>>652619 "…That's a good point. I-I can ask him if you want, I mean he might be busy, but… okayI'lljustaskhim." GREEN mutters.
Moments later, he turns pale as a sheet beneath his visor. "Okay… h… he says he's open to letting it be opened right here, s-so if he were to blow it up, w-w-w… we'd all be blown up with it." GREEN reports, his voice warbling on the verge of a fearful sob.
>>652622 Similar sounds of confusion come from within the chopper. The guards inside seal up the door, and the chopper remains stationary.
>>652623 "Nah, I got field medic immunity. I get to stay here with the explodey poison." Zeppelin quickly answers.
>>652618 Big casually hums in the background. "Holla if you need me, I know how tricky those drones can be about taking orders from anyone but the queen."
>>652625 "Hmmmm… we do have puh-LENTY of those, that's true."
He taps his hoof, "I still don't feel all that sure… he told me he has some codes that'll light it up immediately. He's got the one thing he cares about in this city on a helicopter, why not blow us, the poison, and Prothy's hive to hell and be done with it? Seems like what'd I do."
>>652626 Surgas leans in on Green, "Gah, have some spine son."
As he explains Big's response, he leers, "Oooooh, wouldn't THAT be convenient! Opening up the case right in front of his boys so he can swoop in and take it right from under our noses after we open it up?!"
>>652627 >>652626 As he's handed the radio, he nods to Zandali, "I don't intend to. Good work, soldier."
He talks into the radio, "Hey there, 'brother'. So, you're willin' to let us take the case' contents so long as we leave you good mobsters alone for a while, is that what I'm gathering? And you'll even let us open the case here so we know it won't blow? For a guy who was awful protective of that poison before this feels a little too easy now… we made that strong an impression, did we?"
>>652626 Ci'thilix looks off towards that boat that was coming into harbor, now that the helicopter is stationary. Maybe it has a logo or something on it that can shed some light on this change of plans. >Percepion [1d10]
>>652626 Quirk nods. "Yes, exploratory. We would need to keep the party small, since it'd be unusual to see a large group on a small exposition. Ample food and water, some love rations. I should have enough supplies for four…" He thinks about the expedition more and more as a grin expands on hs face. "I'm no medic, but I can close a wound," he mentions when he hears "medic"
>>652623 "Yeah yeah, wherever you say, boss," he says in a mocking tone.
>>652627 >>652628 "Buddy… buddy." Big opens with a laugh. "Take a load off, already! Even a dog like me who sleeps with his thumb on the doomsday trigger knows that not every rock or tree is hiding an assassin. Sometimes, a good deal is just a good deal. Now I'll level with you. I would like it back. I very much, if you must know, but hey, at this point, I will gladly settle for this arrangement. You've proven yourselves to be a decisive bunch of bugs, very persistent. Not prone to flights of fancy or distraction. Qualities like that are what I look for in those few I see eye-to-eye with. Consider this gesture not just a smart business decision, but a… job description of sorts. As you can imagine, hiring drones from a rival hive is less than smart when your brother is dating an… 'injured' queen, but still– wouldn't you and the last of your Hive much rather be able to pick up the pieces with a good friend on the east coast, than be exterminated here and now like vermin?" he replies coyly.
>>652631 >Free disguise since you're in the motel, feel free to describe
Recalling what you remember about the hospital that Shady was sent to, and the last conversation the party had in the motel, you head down the street, fortunately finding that traffic has dimmed somewhat, and the construction slowed down. Taking a cab for extra speed, you arrive just outside the Saint Iron Wall's Mercy hospital in around 30 minutes.
On a nearby roof, you see Zeppelin and Surgas dealing with the Love Five, minus Love Heart. Surgas and Zeppelin have a radio with them.
>>652629 The boat is rather unmarked, but it appears to be the most opulent and large boat in the dock, when compared with the nearby fishing ships and even one cruiser. Such a display of power smacks of something egotistical that a rich guy like Big would be prone to. You also note a large platform on the top that a helicopter could land on.
>>652630 "Heh… when you phrase it like that, it's really starting to sound like a thing we could actually accomplish." Zeppelin laughs. Seeing Silver leave, she nods in that direction. "Gonna stick around here? Something tells me she might need the security. I've still got a few tricks up my sleeve around here."
>>652632 >>652633 "Hey, y'all never know that. I'm prepared for some enemy mammal behind every corner." He chuckles, "And I'm flattered, really, I do like when a changelings' qualities are realized, but don't tryin' to butter me up, fur-skin."
He taps his hoof, "Hrm… we are gonna be lookin' for allies. That's gonna be between you and Her Majesty, after we find her, but… I can see what you're sayin' here. I don't think Pro-Pro will like that much at all but, hey, what she doesn't know, am I right?"
"Hmm.. so, all we do is say 'deal' and you'll give us the code here an' now? Do it in person, how's this gonna play out from here assumin' my boss agrees?"
He puts a hoof over the radio so that Big can't hear, and asks Zandali, "Hey, you realize we go through with this, y'all ain't gonna get to torture him anymore, right? You realize what you're givin' up now?"
>>652632 Silver squints as she sees Zandali and Surgas, then quietly flies herself up to the same height they are, but on a building with enough distance between them that she wouldn't be noticed, having disguised herself as a pink pegasus before leaving the hotel.
>>652632 Quirk scowls. "I'd much rather stay, not like I'll be needed over there." He turns to the sleeping Gladius. "Besides, I have a few questions for the wise warrior over there." He starts walking over to Gladius, and turns to speak to Zeppelin. "I know we can do it."
>>652639 "Hmmm…. maybe. I dunno, guy like Big sorta feels like you'd get enough satisfaction outta the whole thing, don't it? Ah, well, I'm sure we'll get another opportunity someday. Just hate seein' the young missin' out on a chance to make a mammal scream is all."
>>652637 You perch on a nearby building and quickly accumulate a few neighbors, in the form of pigeons and crows. You can hear Zandali and Surgas from here, but hearing whoever's on the radio would require a roll.
>>652636 Given the talk of negotiations, you suspect that the only reason Shady isn't on that boat right now is some kind of good-faith measure devised by Big, to get Surgas and Zandali to listen to him. You also recall that the guards in the chopper were armed with some heavy artillery– they could be getting in range if things turn sour.
>>652634 >>652633 "We-he-hell, I am just positively certain, one hundred percent, that if your 'Majesty' is still around after the THRASHING those prissy royals in Canterlot gave her, she isn't going to be picky about her allies. Not that I wish to imply I would offer her anything but the highest-quality partnership. Just assuring you of the longevity and quality of our dealings."
"Now, before I divulge the goods, there is just one small… loose end I think would do to tie up before we get any further along. The dragon. Not that I know the full extent of your ties with him, but given that he was willing to hold himself back for so long, I suspect he's put a lot of faith in you. It wouldn't end up well for any of us - especially you - if he were to throw a wrench into our plans, now would it? So here's what I want. An assurance from him that no dragon shenanigans will follow this deal, and a small tax on their horde. Two percent of what they've got. Monthly. See how generous that is? Why, I think they'd be robbing from me at that point. It's perfect, right?"
>>652640 "Well alrighty then. Do feel plenty safer with you here." Zeppelin adds, in a quieter voice. Gladius jumps awake, diving on his pillow and hugging it with shock from the impact. He surveys the room, wide-eyed for a few moments in abject fear, but soon calms when he sees you. "Ah, hello sir Quirk! Are we moving out? Where is our leader?"
>>652642 "Deal, but dragons being proud won't hand over their treasure to mooks. So you know you're going to need to make personal appearances for that." >Persuasion for adding onto the deal?: Compassion [1d10]
>>652642 >>652643 He growls, "Well, just hold on to your ass, Big. Queen Chrysalis IS out there, and she's gonna deliver back that minor setback a hundred fold… and you'd do well to keep your word on bein' a good partner when she does."
He listens to the demands of the Dog as they request 2% of the dragons horde a month. He taps his hoof considering the consequences of giving them what could very well be millions of bits, but then listens to Zandali's counter offer.
"She's all got a point there, bucko. Dragons won't just hand it over to anyone at first, would make 'em more enticed if y'all dared to do it in person."
He turns to Aqui (presumably having followed Zandali?) "…hey, just outta curiosity, what was the original demand? This any sort of deal?" He asks away from the radio so Big can't hear him ask.
>>652642 Ci'thilix looks from the boat, helicopter, and rooftop. Unsure of what to do, he keeps holding on. If anything starts to happen with the copter, it looks like he'll be the only one able to do anything about it.
>>652642 Quirk doesn't catch what Zeppelin adds as he leaves. He smiles when Gladius jumps. "Nah, we're not moving out just yet. Our "leader" left to go catch up with the others," he looks back, "I just hope they're not gonna get us killed any time soon."
He sits down on the bed and faces Gladius. "So Sir Gladius, tell me why you left your hive." he leans in.
>>652645 From what you can pick up, it seems like they're negotiating some kind of deal. You hear talk of treasure– could be something involving Aqui's family. An extortion, or perhaps bartering.
>>652643 >>652646 "Oh yes, those dragons are quite bent on their clinging to old-world traditions, aren't they? How charming. Something you'd see in a museum, these days." Big muses. "Well of course, I'm just so generous and reasonable that I can give-or-take on the tax. What I need from you is the dragon's vow, or at least yours, that each of us knows which side of the street to walk on. What I'm offering to him is a deal of peace. What I hope for, such as what I'm doing with you, is a greater deal. I'd like to think that the dragons and I can help each other out, but only if they put down their dukes when I do."
"Do we have a deal?"
>>652646 "The original was four percent, but Papa and the others wouldn't have any of it. Sent the first representative packing with some sicknasty burns– also we lit him on fire." Aqui reports.
>>652648 He sighs. "In truth, it is not such a glamorous and bloody story as others in my position would spin for you. Vespine, our queen, lost the last two clashes over trade routes that our love-scouts would prey upon. These routes, being contiguous with our fierce rival's territory, that of Queen Irides, were a source of periodic strife between our Hives. With the queen's health failing, both from these injuries and elderly age, the hive was rife with faction conflict. Groups of drones backed particular nymphs who they believed were the TRUE successors to Vespine. They were analogous to what you moderns would call 'fancolts'. And indeed, they wielded illustrations and slogans demonstrating their love for their particular nymph champion."
"I left because the nymph I backed sent back the love letter I wrote for her, unopened." Gladius dramatically admits. "It was a dark time."
>>652649 "Overall, big daddy dragon needs to make that ultimate vow. We can't get that without him being healthy, so for now you have mine and Aqui will also vow, since he's a bit too nervous to talk to you. So for this peace agreement to work you'll need to let me cure him to get his vow, alright?" >Persuasive Compassion: Give cure first before signing contracts? [1d10]
>>652649 Surgas muses over as Aqui answers his question, listening to Big offer a solid deal over the radio. "Hehhehehe… you'd rather invest in an army of changelings over dragon treasure, eh? Not a bad choice there, son, not a bad choice at all."
He looks to Aqui and Zandali, nodding his head, "We'll see about the treasure, but as far as a cease-fire goes? Stayin' the hell off each other's toes? That I'm pretty sure we can safely deliver in exchange for the code…"
He grumbles, "Almost, almost got a deal. See, I'm the squad leader but, I'm still not the highest ranked officer. Changeling's have protocols, I'll need the commander's say first. The chain o' command is the one thing separating Changelings from common insects, you know?"
>>652649 Quirk slowly nods while chewing on a pipe he picked out of his bag. "So…that's why you left. And I can fathom a guess that the hive's either broken apart, or completely dissolved by now."
He takes out another pipe and offers it to Gladius. "So what made you blend into pony society? My experiences with most pony communities were often ugly, with me getting chased out of town. How'd an ol' drone like yourself convince them you were different?"
>>652651 "Still need more time? Very well, very well– I'll wait. Don't take too long now."
>>652650 "But of course, of course. That's perfectly reasonable, of course. Though, I'd be quite careful in how you handle that bad boy. It doesn't do well out in the open. Mishandle it– and it's the dragon's funeral.
"I've got my paw on the defusing program. That bomb will be safe as houses. I promise. But if my thumb should slip, well– that won't happen. I'm not that drunk this early, heheh. I'll happily hand it over, once I've at least got the changeling commander's approval."
>>652653 You watch them from a distance. From within her bucket, Prothorax-Earth begins to mumble, "Food…. food… water… TV… mixtapes." with increasing volume.
>>652652 "Twenty-four-seven disguises is how I did it. I was not yet at a point where I would risk such a thing. Luckily by that point I honed by disguising to not only suppress my pheromones for certain times, but also disguise my arms and armor. Which was good, for pony armaments ill-suited me and my tastes."
>>652654 >>652650 "Alright. Then, we'll stay in touch. We'll use this radio when we got 'er. Until then, no violence on either side. Cease fire."
He turns to look at Corpus, "You hear that Corpus? I admire your patriotism, but no jumpin' the gun without my say so! And Goober, for Queen's sake at least TRY to look antagonistic! I see y'all gettin' along with Blue over there, give 'em a stink eye or something."
He says into the radio, "Stay sober."
>>652650 He turns to look to Zandali, safe from prying ears. "Well, we seem to have reached an agreement. Silver should hear this, then we can make it all official like…"
He smirks, "You know, we could probably turn this around real quick, come to think of it, after all's said and done. They're givin' us a cure, all they're asking for is a vow… but, somethin' tells me Big might actually be useful for Her Majesty too."
>>652654 Quirk blinks as he's taken aback. "You were able to hide your pheromones and equipment? In all my time wandering and traveling…I've never heard of a changeling who was able to do that…I'd think that to be impossible!" He looks to the side, and back to Gladius.
"You /have/ to show me how you pulled it off, Sir Gladius!"
>>652658 Surgas cringes, "Uh, a clinic for dragons sounds pretty hard ass and all but, why not a clinic for changelings'? Regardless of what state her Majesty's in, we are gonna have a lot of re-buildin' to do. You should come home to the hive with us, kid, be among your own kind. Been around ponies too long. You've done good work here, we could really use ya."
>>652659 "It's going to be an all around clinic. I wouldn't waste my skills on just a single species. As long as you make sure to come in for check ups I'll help your hive. Tell her that this queen is giving her a treaty of medical peace."
>>652660 "Guh, all around, huh? Hrrmph… guess if I can't show y'all how much ponies don't deserve your skills by now, I ain't gonna now. Hmph, alright, deal, but you keep our visits off the table, can't go tracin' us. And we demand a pro-rate for sharing your species and a treaty. And when we rule Equestria don't expect a huge bonus if you're gonna play both sides now. Also, give Ci'th and Goober lots of shots. Toughen their shells up a bit."
He chuckles, "Hehehe, and, you're a bit short for a queen there, ain't ya?"
>>652657 He looks gravely serious. "It is nothing I can impart in the span of days, or even weeks. Few can handle it, and those who attempt often liken it to holding one's breath underwater, with monumental weights strapped all along the body. Seconds become hours, hours into days, and so on and so forth. It is not until the technique is mastered that one fully functions in that state."
>>652656 "I'd EXPLODE! Pfew!" she says, with a small jump. "Probably into a self-containing ball of disparate reality that would almost certainly not be a good time to touch. So, hey, don't do it. Please. Feed me instead."
>>652655 >>652658 >>652653 "We're just talking about comic books, those always lead to very combative and thought-provoking discussions." Goober replies. BLUE nods in agreement.
RED, who has been frozen in his stoic pose this entire time, starts to tremble. "C-can I move yet? I can't feel my left side." he whispers.
Corpus sits around and, seeing Silver, raises his nose to sniff the air, then waves hello.
GREEN and YELLOW sit nearby, talking about what kinda uniform upgrades they want to get.
>>652655 >>652658 "I wasn't so hot on it before, but if it gets us that stupid poison faster, I'll go along with that tax– maybe get it down to one percent so it's not such a strain on us." Aqui says, rubbing his chin.
>>652662 "Goober, I'll tell y'all what I told Ci'th: get a goddamned life, son, you're gonna rot your brain reading that junk. What the hell did comics ever teach anyone about actual combat that going outside into the real world, picking up a stick, and going around beaten' ponies with it never could? Nothin, trick question that's what that was, son, keep up."
He turns to Red, "Son, did anyone order you to move yet?! Of course not! Stay right there, drone."
He opens his wings, preparing to find Silver, "Well, c'mon, we better go let her know before the fox changes his mind."
>>652663 "Aw, c'mon, just a few little big ones? They need it."
He chuckles, "Sure, y'all can go with that if you want. So if you're startin' up your own hive where's your brood?"
>>652665 "AH! Speak of the devil, Silver! Ma'am, listen, shit hit the fan while we were out." He groans, saluting.
"I've failed, man. Big somehow put it together I wasn't Shady and was on the move to take his brother. There wasn't leadin' him into the date like we planned."
He stands at attention, "We were in the process of takin' Shady back to infiltrate his inner circle once again, but, then Zandali got talkin' with him over the radio… we think we may have a mutually beneficial deal in the works here, Silver."
>>652665 "I did what a proper queen would! Made a peaceful solution!" She shouts back.
>>652664 "How about I just give you over the counter steroids?" Zandali says, blushing at that last part. "Th-That's none of your business! I-If it comes to it I'll use something from Aqui to get the ball rolling."
>>652667 "Oh, alright, then," she says, sounding both pleased and disappointed, "Thought it'd be nice to have a date, but this works out, it seems." >>652668 "Would you kindly eat a sack of shit before criticizing a combat officer for suggesting combat and subterfuge to get what I want?"
>>652668 "Hey hey hey! Remember what I said: real winners don't use drugs. They make mammals use drugs."
"Woah, hold on: what sort of degeneracy am I listening to?! You start a hive with another changeling, Aqui's a nice dragon and all but you can't be meaning to make a whole BROOD with 'im, are ya?"
>>652669 >>652670 "Right, I was disappointed at the severe lack of torture involved in this scenario too, ma'am. And, to be frank, I believe we could still pull a win out of this… buuuut this is essentially getting us exactly what we want, namely the code to the briefcase. All they ask for in return is a cease-fire with their people and Prothy's for a few days, and a vow from the dragons not to take revenge and, if possible, convince 'em to take a small tax. In return, we get the poison, a cure for the dragons, and by extension their loyalty," He smiles, "And, possibly best of all: Big wants to start business with us, help Chrysalis get back on its legs. He has a sizable amount of resources and, Big himself has a bone to pick with Prothorax. It could be a lucrative deal, but, I wanted to get the commander's take on things."
>>652674 >>652673 "Now hold on: there's no factual evidence we COULDN'T have gotten things done in a few minutes if we fought instead, we didn't try it therefore it remains a valid 'what if'. All I'm sayin'."
He smiles as the two females go at it yet again. "Should I get some pillows?"
>>652676 "I agree ma'am, and, to be fair, Big did not specify what we had to do with her piece that we have. But, I get the feelin' he'll want it back for his brother if nothin' else. Then again, he may not give a crap at all about her."
"In the chance he for whatever reason does, can't we make plans to take her out in the long run, maybe? Can't we do anything to the piece we have that we can exploit when time comes to take her out for good?"
>>652677 "….huh… suddenly degeneracy sounds oddly appealing. Immunity to fire, you say… hmmm, alright, maybe you won't go down to Changeling Hell but you better make sure to teach your changelings good, Chrysalis approved values in the Hive."
He frowns, "Hmm, suffocate? Sure you wouldn't want to just, you know, hit her with it?"
>>652680 Quirk does just that, and appears to be taken aback by the astounding amount of television shows and movies available on the TV. He starts sifting through the channels, looking for something to watch, sharing his wonder at the vast amount of options that are available to watch with Gladius. He turns to Zeppelin and nods, "Yeah, I knew that the first time I saw him. Might as well have some fun, eh?" he whispers to her.
He turns to Gladius again. "Violence and subterfuge, eh? I'm always willing to learn more about those two areas. Oh, if you wouldn't mind, can you tell me about your time working under the Honkerlord?"
>>652681 "Well that doesn't sound very ho-, uh, ho-wholly necessary."
>>652683 "Still got the radio if ya want me to check in on what to do with Prothy. I don't even know if he knows we got the piece we do, Prothy may not have told 'im everything. Could be we could stomp her out and no one would even know."
>>652681 >>652683 From within the bucket, Prothorax-Earth's stomach rumbles. She looks up at Zandali with pleading eyes, making no attempt to flee.
>>652682 "Thankfully, whatever spell he used to obfuscate my senses and bend my will to his also dulled my memory of that awful turmoil. I do not know the length of my confinement, but much of my servitude, save for some moments in which I attempted to break free and slaughter him, were often used for the amusement of those marshmallow-things he treated as audience and food. I was his greatly unwilling 'lovely assistant.'"
"Woah, woah, hold on there, eager beaver. Prothorax only looks cute when she's split into three, when she's put back together she's going to be a damn threat. You remember how she nearly wiped us all out? Imagine how bad she's gonna be when she's married and has a constant nuclear reactor's worth of love at her beck and call!"
"We either ain't lettin' her get back together or, if we are, we're damn sure gonna put something in her to make sure she stays compliant… like, i don't know, maybe I can work some of my glop into her before letting her go back? Put a little bomb in her head we can blow if she doesn't play nice with our hive?"
>>652687 >disregarding at dusty's request You get the bucket of Prothorax. She whispers, "Croissant with cream cheese and sprinkles, cup of java, black… please."
>>652689 Zeppelin squints in confusion at the wink. "Wait, am I supposed to play along?" she whispers. "It sucks, but I don't get what we're doing here."
"Yes, quite along those lines. Though, to think on it in detail now, he impelled me little to do things that were strictly malicious or cruel. I believe the draconequus genuinely enjoyed their inane squeals of amusement and mirth… just as much as he enjoyed eating them.
>>652694 Quirk hurriedly nods at Zeppelin. "I don't get it either, I'm bored out of my mind, and extremely worried that we're gonna blow up in seconds. Might as well listen to an old coot ramble. An old coot who I respect," he whispers back.
He turns to Gladius. "Oh, what a relief. I was worried that you were the head butcher or something. I thought you were genuinely feared by the marshmallow-ponies." He looks around. "Say, where's Buddy?"
>>652700 >>652694 "Hehehehe… well, trust me, I don't think we're gonna have a problem with that. Trust me, there's no lost love there. He's sure she's planning to play his brother for a sap and take over so, enemy of our enemy is our friend sort of deal. One sec."
HE activates the radio that Big's double left behind. "Hey, fox? You there? Just makin' sure I'm remembering an earlier conversation accurately you gave your bro: there ain't a lot of love lost between you and ol' Pro-Pro is there?"
>>652702 "Oh, there you are! Thought you'd forgotten about me. Let's see, what page was I on? Thirty… two. Okay. Been leafing through some of this minotaur historical calligraphy, lot of ceremonial stuff, very bloody– lotta battles in there! Okay, but enough of that shit… I don't think I need to tell you that. Not really relevant to anything on our table, is it?"
>>652703 "Oh, there was an effort once to see the effects of bringing trained animals into missions in our Hive. Because no measurable benefit came to the rate of mission success, the project was quickly abandoned. He's just a cat after all."
Zeppelin reclines on the couch. "Meh, I'll do it later." >PAUSED
Negotiations between Big and the party continued relatively smoothly; Big was more than happy to allow the party to walk off with the poison, in exchange for simply being left alone. On top of that, he threw in that Prothorax would stay out of all Chrysalis-owned territories for three days. His only condition was that Aqui himself had to swear to keep the dragons from coming after him. Talks turned toward taxation of the dragons' hoard, but Zandali's suggestion that Big meet with the Papa dragon to negotiate in-person was quickly met with backpedaling. It seemed he was getting worried.
Throughout all this, however, Big did not once mention Prothorax-Earth's captivity by the party, despite all his big talk and claim to have figured out the party's master plans. Had he not thought it an important issue, or was he not as aware of the big picture as he thought?
"Oh, there you are! Thought you'd forgotten about me. Let's see, what page was I on? Thirty… two. Okay. Been leafing through some of this minotaur historical calligraphy, lot of ceremonial stuff, very bloody– lotta battles in there! Okay, but enough of that shit… I don't think I need to tell you that. Not really relevant to anything on our table, is it?" Big says over the radio.
You notice, one by one, the LOVE Five beginning to press their hooves to their right ears. After a few seconds, they start to eye you suspiciously, circling you and looking you up and down.
GREEN approaches you, tapping his front hooves together. "Um… I'm very sorry to interrupt, b-but have you seen a little pony around here? It's not mine, but, u-um… it should be very little, about one hoof tall?"
>>652704 Buddy occupies himself with slapping at Zeppelin's tail, while Gladius zones out from talking about himself, instead focusing on the TV. "Perhaps it would do to check on them at some point? I hate to intrude on their operation, but we've no reason to think our hideout has been compromised, so we don't all need to stay here."
>>652988 Surgas listens in on Big's voice on the walkie talkie. He rubs his chin, smiling,
"Well, after much consideration with our commanding changeling, I do think we can find those terms agreeable. We'll lay off your crew, startin' now, and you hand over that code for your case."
"So, what is it?"
As Green asks all of them about the one-hoof tall pony, Surgas shrugs him off, "Eh, no, sorry son, I got me enough kids to watch as it is, can't keep track of all o' them."
>>652989 As he talks over the walkie, he looks up at the hovering helicopter. He takes a deep, deep breath, and shouts, "CI'TH! Get your lazy drone abdomen down here, double time son! Triple time even! Don't make me go quadruple time on ya!"
>>652989 Your hooves are beginning to sweat and cramp with how long you've been hanging there.
>>652990 GREEN shudders, mumbling a hushed string of apologies, backing away a few inches.
>>652993 GREEN gets a little indignant. "I'm sorry, but I can ask any kind of question I want, particularly when I'm told to–"
RED quickly hip-checks GREEN to the side. "Just answer the question, blue."
"Me?" BLUE asks.
"No, idiot, her." RED points at Zandali.
"…Dude, just because you got to wear the cape doesn't mean you get to be a dick about it." BLUE gripes.
>>652991 The hustle and bustle of the city mixes with the aftermath of extensive road construction, and has left the unpleasant scent of asphalt, grime, and smoke in the air, cutting off the pheromone trail heading north from the motel. You recall them saying they'll head to the hospital, so you could try getting directions there. There is also the matter of that big helicopter which is just floating relatively low over the residential buildings for some reason.
>>652992 >>652990 >>652989 >>652993 Big sighs deeply, and you catch a sense of relieved tension in his tone. "Grrrrreat! Great great great. Well, little bugaroos, it's just been such a… such a… memorable experience dealing with you all. About as memorable as that gum I got stuck on my good pants and twice as fucking persistent. Well then, without further ado, let's get started. Lay the briefcase flat, very flat. Make sure the part with my sunglasses on the side is face-up, else this is gonna end REALLY badly for everyone there."
"Now then, let's get this over with: Two–"
"HOLD THE FUCK UP!" YELLOW declares into his speakers for extra volume. "Turn out your pockets, right now." he points at the party.
"What. Are. You. Fucking. Doing." Big snarls into the radio.
>>652995 Silver approaches Red, Blue, and Green, sneering at them. "Hey, how about you get outta here, you Whole Wheat Hive losers? Quit hassling us Chrysalis changs if you know what's good for you. Maybe if you're polite to me, I might forget how you all got in a fight with me the other day and I can maybe do you a favor sometime in the future?"
>>652995 The mundane brown pony grumbles in defeat as he hangs his head, not able to find a trail to follow. However, the low flying helicopter catches his attention, and he starts to follow it. Quirk rummages through his bag for a pair of binoculars to see if he can catch a better view of the oddly low-floating heli. [1d10]
>>652996 "WHAT? What you need a teleprompter for?! Just get down here, I have an order for ya!" He shouts over the rotors.
>>652995 "Yeah, well, you know us changeling's like to make a strong impression, heheh. So, that's 2…"
He growls as Yellow speaks up, shouting at us. He gives a long sneer,
"Son, first of all, I ain't got any pockets. Second of all, keep yer trap shut, the grown-ups are talkin. Somethin' tells me if yer Boss' fiance's brother doesn't want you interruptin' a fair transaction in process, ya best be listenin' to 'im."
>>653001 "Something's improper?!" Ci'thilix looks up to the helicopter. "Hold on, I'm gonna fly over since it looks like we aren't going anywhere anytime soon." He says as he let's go of the copter and flies over to where everypony else is.
>>652997 "You made the first play by steppin' all over PROTHORAX territory in the first place, Floral Shoppe. All you have to do is show us what you have. Won't take nothing. You may just have a… a very important… something on you. That may or may not belong to someone else." RED counters.
>>653000 >>652997 >>653001 GREEN and BLUE back away from your protests to his demand. However, YELLOW and RED look at one another and seem to just get more persistent.
"This… this deal is off unless you show us what you've got. If you're being honest and have nothing to hide, it'll just take a second." YELLOW declares.
"I… I'm sorry, this old radio must be malfunctioning, Yellow." Big's voice turns icy and slow. "It sounded to me as though you were attempting some kind of coup. Do I need to have a word with your mother?"
"We're doin' it for her safety." RED counters.
Big pauses, his voice turning deeply intrigued. "Really…? Carry on."
"Just show us what you have and we can all go home." RED reiterates. "We're just making sure this goes peacefully."
BLUE raises his nose and starts to sniff the air.
>>652999 The binoculars reveal several figures arguing on the rooftop, one of whom you recognize as Aqui.
>>653003 "You know what? Forget this," Silver says, turning and hopping from the top of the building, "You don't trust me, fine, you can make your deals without me. I want the same thing anyone else in the party has, but apparently I'm not the kind of pony that can be trusted." She glides down over the street in a spiral pattern, landing on the ground and giving a rude gesture to any of the Five who look down at her.
>>653003 She opens up her medical bag to show them all of her equipment inside. "There, everything I've been carrying since I got to this town. What is with this investigation anyways?" She says. >Persuasion to stop pestering her [1d10]
>>653003 Surgas looks alarmed as they start compromising there deal, the big burly changeling standing up to full height against both Red and Yellow, the only two with the remaining huevos to stand up to them.
He makes sure the radio can hear, and blocks their path from Silver.
"Drone, Mr. Business? I'm honestly gettin' mah lil' changeling feelings a little hurt by this poor sense of trust we have goin' on here. We have an understandin': We stop shittin' in your coffee, we get our poison. We ain't got nothin' more than that, ain't that right Big? Ya said it yourself."
He opens up his disguised wings, "Go on, take a look then, if it'll convince ya to piss off."
>>653004 >>653002 As Ci'th flies down, he growls, "AH! There you are, now stop talkin' about your park-hopper and listen up. I need ya to run down to the hideout and get back the case, we're openin' it up."
He points his eyes towards Silver, "And go with Silver, won't ya? It's uh, a bad part of town. Don't want her gettin' hurt, you hear me drone?" He winks.
>>653004 They leer at you as you descend, but seem relieved at the new distance between you and them, and do not follow.
>>653006 The two sift through the surface of your belongings, but don't make any attempt to take any of it. "Could've sworn I smelled… nevermind. You're good."
>>653007 >>653006 >>653002 YELLOW and RED back away from Surgas' display of openness and bravado. They meet and huddle for a few moments, whispering furtively with visible desperation and confusion. Eventually, they turn back, both looking slightly defeated and worried beneath their masks.
"R-right. All clear. Carry on as you were." YELLOW declares.
"Care to share what that was all about, drone?" Big asks.
"Nothing that concerns… I mean, just some… hive business, sir." RED answers.
BLUE and GREEN fly in the opposite direction that Silver went in, scanning the ground below as they fly over the city streets.
>>653008 Quirk continues to peer at the rooftop through his binoculars, sighing out of boredom as he hides behind cover. "…are they…negotiating?" he blinks out of confusion. "…well that's no fun," he remarks.
>>653008 Surgas takes a subtle eye back to look at Silver as she makes it away with the segment of Prothy they have.
He turns to look at Yellow and Red as they stand down, smiling. "Glad we could settle that reasonably. Well, not entirely glad, anything's always best settled with explosives, but, you know, business' business, son."
He takes a whiff of Quirk's scent as he lands, but turns to look back down at the radio, "Now then, I believe that was '2-…?"
>>653009 "Good drone. I think…" he mentions after Ci'th takes off after Silver.
>>653008 Silver has Dirgegun hold the bucket once she gets to the ground, having the mechanical beetle buzz menacingly to frighten the blob inside. >>653009 Silver looks up at you with an annoyed expression on her face. "Yeah? Alright, sure, let's get back to the hotel," she says, "If that's where it is, anyway, for all I know your clone is using it to play tug-o-war with an elephant."
As they head back, Silver asks Ci'thilix, "I've been curious about something in general for a while- have you ever wanted to have children?"
>>653013 >>653010 >>653011 "Perhaps I'll have to have that word with Prothorax after all, if so-called 'Hive Business' gets in the way of an important fucking negotiation. Now that it seems like we all trust each other… once again… we're going to do this very slowly and methodically. Now: as I was saying!"
"Now, you better open that bad boy nice and slowly, otherwise you are gonna get a faceful of something nasty."
>>653014 >>653015 Silver waits for Ci'thilix to get the briefcase, then says to Zeppelin, "Here, hold onto this," and hands her the bucket, "Don't let her out and don't feed her. Don't kill her, either." She resumes her conversation with Ci'thilix. "See, I think there's a certain drive in our species that's lacking because we don't have proper reproductive abilities," she says, "Furthermore, don't you think it's strange why we have to hide ourselves to other ponies and creatures? It's because we're considered monsters, but it's entirely possible to be civil and not kill anyone, isn't it?"
>>653015 "You're back already? Where's everypony else?" Ci'thiclone asks the original as he walks in. "Making a deal, we gotta bring hte case over to get it opened." "It was that easy? Huh, alright. Got it right here." Ci'thiclone holds up the case.
>>653016 "Well there has to be some, how else would we have more changelings, right?" Ci'thilix thinks for a moment. "That is true, we haven't killed anypony here even though we've been dealing with mobs and stuff. Only really fought other changelings too."
>>653017 "It's because the queen gives birth to the drones, you dummy," she says, "Were you not paying attention in school? And you're right, we've only ever been fighting other Changelings, besides that spirit we fought in the wedding tent the other day." "The real problem is that the queen is holding reproduction back from the drones, and instead of crossbreeding with other races, she's just giving birth to other Changelings, which perpetuates the problem."
>>653015 "2 8 6 3? Got it. And, not yet, I sent one of my drones to go git it. He'll be back any moment, but I remember the instructions. Your shades face up, open it slowly after puttin' in the numbers. Just give 'im a minute here."
He turns to look at Yellow and Red, smiling, "How is your queen holdin' up, by the way? Haven't seen her in a while."
>>653020 "The queen reproduces with selected male drones, then eats them afterwards. She lays her fertilized eggs, and all the children have a varied genetic makeup. Crossbreeding seems perfectly realistic, we're already so similar to ponies, aren't we? They should be lining up to breed with Queens for the superior Changeling genetic abilities, shouldn't they?"
>>653019 "Rrright. Go to all the trouble of stealing it then not even bring it to the big final talk. Then I guess we just wait for your bugs. Cross our fingers, or whatever it is you ungulates do for luck." Big chuckles.
"How kind of you to be so concerned after attacking her." YELLOW retorts.
"Just fine, thank you very much. Already much better after what you did." RED adds.
>>653022 "Ehh, well, clearly the issue is the queen not wanting to spread the genes around," Silver says, "It's a regal megalomania, where they can give birth to subjects who are compelled to follow their orders, not children who will eventually grow up and split off. >>653023 "Don't let her near any drains, either," Silver says, getting ready to leave now that Ci'thilix has the bucket.
>>653023 "Well, soooorry, your majesty. I didn't exactly know this would be final talks! I came here just hopin' to spend some quality time with my brother, that's all, remember? Hehe, good times. Remember the gay bar?"
He looks on back waiting for the case to arrive, and then turns to Yellow and Red. "I actually came late for that lil' rodeo, if it makes ya feel any better. See, it was SUPPOSED to be a lot less messy but, heh, guess we got over-eager. You know how it goes, big operation set up and then it all kinda hits bump after bump?"
>>653032 "As far as I know, any female Changeling can breed, but only the queen can ovulate. That and all the other powers she has is related to her horn, I think. Which is why it's important to start crossbreeding, as well. I think a crossbred Changeling female would be capable of breeding."
>>653024 >>653027 "Aye aye, captain, she won't get so much as an airhole out of me." Zeppelin says with a salute.
>>653025 "Well, you know what they say about hindsight. Had I been a bit more suspicious of why my soon-to-be-wed brother was frequenting a gay bar, I could've probably outplayed you a lot sooner and stacked this deck far more in my favor. At least the drinks were good."
RED and YELLOW remain stoic. "Guess your goons weren't quite up to the task? A symptom of poor leadership, don't you think?" RED taunts.
"Y-yeah, you had her right there on a silver platter and still dropped the ball. Quality work, pal. Totally the rivals we deserve." YELLOW adds.
>>653030 >>653029 >>653027 >>653025 >>653026 As Silver and Ci'thilix get back to the rooftop with the case, Big says, "Well, my eyes in the sky are telling me they've finally got a visual on the case. Now. Open it slowly, tell me when you do, so that I can dismiss the notification and disarm it remotely and end this without any smoking craters where there used to be cities."
>>653029 You continue to watch the conversation from a distance.
Soon you see Silver and Ci'thilix coming back, with the briefcase.
>>653034 >>653025 Silver waves to Surgas once they return to the rooftop, hoping the Five are dumb enough to not raise an issue about her being back. "Did we leave any notifications that in the event of said explosion, that it was Big's fault, ultimately?" >>653036 "We can talk about this later."
>>653038 "You did that on– you son of a BITCH!" RED declares, getting into a battle pose, before YELLOW slaps him.
"Get real dude, that's not what she said it happened." YELLOW corrects him.
"You fool! I just did that on purpose! Testing your reflexes. B-plus!" RED says sheepishly.
>>653035 >>653036 >>653037 >>653038 >>653040 Surgas rotates each of the tumblers in the briefcase's lock to their proper numbers, and the case opens with a clack like a sigh. Aqui is pale white, his muscles tense but relaxed. He looks ready to pounce on RED and YELLOW in an instant.
Opening the case slowly, you see a heinous device. It's a futuristic-looking weapon, shaped like a rifle with a sleek chrome body, a long thin chamber, an assortment of small monitors and meters on the side, and a long thin barrel. The barrel itself is shallow, with a needle-like point just inside the barrel, barely sticking out half a centimeter. Aqui nods gravely. "That's it, alright."
Next to the weapon is a long thin tube full of a crystallized substance, a nauseating brownish-yellow.
In the top half of the case is a black matte covering. You hear faint beeping beneath it.
"Aaaaand… done." Big says. Soon, the beeping fades out.
Corpus and Goober, who had been hiding behind you, sigh heavily. "Just like that…" Corpus muses.
"Yeah that's great and all, let's skedaddle!" Goober adds.
>>653041 Quirk scoffs and places the binos back inside of his bag as he slinks back off the side of the building, making a beeline for the hotel as he takes his time.
"Well, that was uneventful as heck. I'd've expected Prothobitch or whatever her name was to burst outta nowhere…this whole trip's been a bust." He continues to grumble as he makes his way back to the hotel.
>>653041 He chuckles, "HA! Got ya, you dumb-ass Yellow. See why he wears the cape, he's got your number. Good work, soldier. Just need to pick a winning team."
>>653041 Surgas' mouth drops open as he stares at the weapon in all its grandeur. "Oh my Majesty's royal glop jelly…" He reaches in, grabbing at the rifle with both hooves as he holds it up to observe.
"Big… y'all are evil masterminds, and that I respect about ya. This thing is so beautiful if it were a mare I'd suck the love right out of it."
As the beeeping fades, Surgas sights, turning to look back at his crew. He nods, "Yep, just like that… everyone, ya'll did good today. But no breaks yet, we're leavin' the city. Got our own bargain to keep." He turns to the walkie talkie, "Nice doin' business with you. We'll get to talkin' with those dragons next, to keep our end of the bargain."
>>653042 >>653042 "Yeah, it was over all kinda lackin' in explosions and heroic maneuvers by yours truly. Didn't even lose a single drone! I was supposed to be brooding over how Goober or Ci'th gave their lives valiantly for the sake of the hive, now I got nothin' to brood over!"
>>653046 "Understood, commander. With this, we can get those dragons on our side though, that'll be sure to make the Queen happy for the slight delay, wouldn't it?"
>>653049 "I'm sure it will. Hm, a hive with dragon allies will be difficult to fight against, won't it?" She asks, rubbing her chin, "I'll just have to wait and see." She pats Surgas on the head. "I'd like to give you a promotion, but I think you're happy just where you are right now."
>>653050 "Completely agreed, ma'am. Why, I pity the look on ol' Celly's face when we come into Canterlot again but with those heavy artillery salamanders under our flanks."
He blushes as he's pat, then growls, "Well, hell, don't think like that. Who doesn't like a good promotion, ma'am? What are ya thinkin, Super Sargent? First class?" >>653051 "What?! No, son, no."
He puts a comforting hoof on his shoulder, "I wanted you to sacrifice yourself, for honor! Glory! It'd make the war story a whole lot more interestin' if at least one changelin' dies durin' it. You would be immortal, Ci'th, immortal."
And so, for these changelings, many of whom were thought dead by their Queen, one road had finally ended.
Back at the motel, Zandali and Zeppelin worked for eighteen hours straight to derive some kind of antivenom for Aqui's father. Ultimately, the party was forced to pack up and return to the apothecary in Hollow Shades when they found that they lacked some key herbal ingredients. By the time they returned to Neighagara Falls, they were ready to administer the antidote to Aqui's father.
Soon, they were able to enlist the dragons' help for flying past the Badlands, where Queen Chrysalis had been sent. They found the Queen and much of the Hive intact, but largely weakened and demoralized from the failure of Operation: Wedding Crashers. With Prothorax-Earth still in captivity, they explained their harrowing journey to Queen Chrysalis, who was surprised, and threatened, to learn that Prothorax still lived. Talk turned to the deal, and the agreement for Prothorax to stay out of Chrysalis' territory, which still had one day left out of the agreed-upon three.
Silver attempted to persuade Chrysalis for permission to attack Prothorax, which was met with much opposition by the generals. Chrysalis recognized the magic present in Prothorax-Earth, and understood at once that they had an advantage they needed to push.
Finally tracking Prothorax back to a secluded bunker southeast of the Crystal Empire, the Chrysalis army advanced upon the Prothorax forces. The battles were a drawn-out grueling attrition, with the vastly-outnumbered Prothorax Hive fighting with barbaric, savage guerrilla tactics that gave pause to even the most hardened Chrysalis drone. They fought with a wild desperation, hardened by their brush with extinction at the claws of the Order of Gonys.
Eventually the fighting drew into Prothorax's private chamber, and the Queen herself proved no pushover, even with a third of her soul and power gone. Mortally wounded, Prothorax set off a chain of explosives that had been rigged into the walls and ceiling the night prior, in a desperate grudge attack. Silver, set on finishing what she started, was the only one to remain behind, while Surgas and the other leaders evacuated the wounded drones from the crumbling caverns.
Silver was presumed dead.
The victory was remembered as Pyrrhic at best. Surgas and the other members of the party who went into battle received special commendations and recognition from the Queen herself. Many of the Hive looked up to them as examples of what every drone should strive to be. However, many more, particularly those who returned from the battle and saw firsthand what had happened, cursed their names and legacies, accusing them of being power-mad fools who would trample any number of their brothers for their own advancement. They were revered and vilified.
Zandali, who was not at the battle, established her own clinic in Hollow Shades with the money which Chrysalis sent to her upon hearing of her aid in returning the party to the Hive. With that money, she and Aqui helped the monsterponies of Hollow Shades for little to no charge. Big, however, never returned to Neighagara Falls to negotiate a tax on the dragons.
>>653055 Shady Business was livid with grief upon learning of Prothorax's death, confronting his brother over what happened between him and the Changelings who he dared to negotiate with instead of kill outright. Big, who had harbored suspicions of Prothorax from the beginning, deflected his questions. The two quickly split their assets and territories, going their separate ways.
Not long after, Big became the survivor of several assassination attempts by "unknown changelings", who, by some oversight of the security teams, always managed to get away despite not succeeding in killing him. Big began to suffer bouts of paranoia and night terrors, his imagination and dreams soon haunted with shadows of Prothorax and her Hive, and the forms of the party, from whom he thought he saved his brother. Becoming increasingly reclusive and self-preserving, Big would often fire huge portions of his staff at a time, thinking them all double or triple or quadruple sleeper agents, crippling his own empire. He has not been seen since, and his name eventually faded into obscurity.
Many of the remnants of the Prothorax Hive scattered to the Equestrian landscape, never to be seen again. But, a great many had pledged themselves to eternal service of Shady Business, for unknown reasons. Perhaps they saw him as the closest they'd ever have to their Queen. Shady became reclusive and brooding. With his taste for plunder and extortion sullied by his suspicions of Big's treachery, Shady's estate never grew to the size that it once was with Big's help. The taxes and other payments he levied off territories soon diminished. He focused his ambitions on other, more productive things. He often donated to charities anonymously, funded adventurer guilds and churches. He would spend much of his days in bitter recluse, his ambition a wavering, impotent thing. >If you wish, post your individual epilogues
>>653056 >>653053 Ten days later, a lone figure limped clumsily from the smoldering wreckage of Prothorax's bunker, awkward and clumsy in her steps. In the final battle, Silver crushed Prothorax's horn and absorbed its magic, mere instants before being dashed to pieces by a boulder. When she awoke, she was stronger, smarter, taller, and felt a plethora of untapped power at her wingtips, in her new, Queenly form.
>>653057 >>653055 Silver would retire to an island in the middle of the ocean to start her own hive of crossbred Changelings to enact and fulfill her dreams of Changeling integration into pony society. Progress has been slow and the process has been extremely strenuous on her, but her will to continue and her determination to advance her species keeps her going.
>>653056 Zandali had taken her opportunity to learn more about changelings by giving free medical services to Chrysalis' hive. The lone blue doctor had never searched outside of her clinic for possible survivors of her hive, content with the possibilities of having her own family in her peaceful clinic. Only time would tell if Zandali will be forced to leave another home.
>>653055 >>653056 Fed up with hive life and how boring it was, Quirk stayed true to his plan with Zeppelin, and explored all throughout Equestria, his burning desire to view the outside having been satiated at long last. He would never return to the hive as his lust for exploration and his extreme curiosity would keep him from settling down anywhere. He would learn what he could before moving on, becoming a master of survival, with his trusty Stick and flamberge to ward away threats to his party.
>>653056 >>653055 >>653052 Following his successful promotions given through Silver in Her Royal Majesty's changeling army, Surgas realized his love of telling drones what to do and when to do it. His calling was found, and his experiences with lazy slackin' glopbags like Ci'th and Goober had inspired him to turning them into model drones like Quirk or Corpus.
Commander Surgas was as unreasonable as he was cruel, and hundreds of drones would come to curse his strict regiments as he strived to make Hive Chrysalis even more formidable following their crushing defeat at Canterlot. He would have several more campaigns himself thoughout his Queen's career, loving every high explosive he made but loving even more the sight of his students picking up his example of bravery and merciless towards the mammals.
He made heavy use of Aqui's dragon allies as well, enjoying every opportunity he could to ride them into battle as he did with the war against Prothorax's hive. He let his detractors speak as they did, for he knew in his cold unfeeling heart that he knew what he wanted to do, and what he wanted to do was fight and show others how to fight harder! He would keep Goober and Corpus close at hoof while he could, cursing Quirk leaving the hive with Zeppelin but allowing his former 2nd in command to do as he pleased.
He mourned Silver's loss following Prothorax's fall, but did not spend too long looking for the body as he reaped the benefits of the quick promotions to follow. He also didn't keep strong ties with the dogs, seeing fit to let them dismantle their own criminal empire from afar while his Hive regained strength. Plus, deep down he still feared the potential both had.
He would make frequent visits to Zandali's clinic in Hollow Shades, and not a single trip would end without him reminding her that she should come to their Hive. He also decided to pick up a manga out of curiosity for Ci'th's fascination. He would receive several more through a private mail box that he would be willing to kill to keep under cover.
>>653056 Ci'thilix stayed out of the Prothorax war, taking a well deserved (in his mind) vacation. Afterwards though, he had the opportunity (read: forced) to teach others of the hive his technique in clone conjuring, a technique that would have served well and will so in the future. Despite his usual laziness, he actually enjoyed this new job somewhat. It meant he didn't have to leave the hive really, just had to sit back and show others how to do the magic. And Ci'thiclone, because of this occurrence, didn't need to be dismissed or was 'killed' in combat, and gt to enjoy living life like any other changeling.