The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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    Default Celestia's Finest: Time to Bug Out

    Through here,” the guard says quietly. He glances back with a nervous expression. “Now, if she pulls anything funny, just shout. There are twenty of us in the next room and we’ll come running, alright?

    He opens the reinforced metal door, which is so strong that anypony trying to break it down would have better luck with the granite walls. A faint tingle of magic passes over Rose’s and Sniper’s spines as they step through into a sparse but comfortable cell. There's a bed and a small sitting area situated behind a sturdy set of bars. There aren’t any windows to the outside, this being the maximum security portion of the Canterlot Palace dungeons, but soft, artificial light doesn’t do a horrible job as a replacement.

    Chrysalis reclines in a cushioned couch, reading a book. A metal band wraps around her horn. A fairly standard device, this 'horn-cuff' prevents the wearer from working magic. There are some long-term detrimental effects from prolonged use, however, much like when a limb loses circulation for a long time. At the sound of ponies entering, she lets out a long-suffering sigh. “Oh don’t tell me,” she says, “You couldn’t find anypony willing to come down here, so no dinner tonight. Again. No, wait I sense...Oh, you shouldn’t have. Actual, positive feelings? For me? Who is it? Some stallion so perverted and desperate that he’s willing to come down here for a chance to…” She turns and catches sight of the pair. “Oh. It’s you. I suppose you're looking for a 'welcome! How are you doing? It's been so long. When was the last time we met? Oh yes. You were foiling all of my plans'.
    Last edited by Miltonian; 2017-09-18 at 07:04 PM.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Time to Bug Out

    "Hello to you as well, Queen Chrysalis," Rose says. She threw in the title in an attempt to be friendly. Hopefully it didn't come across poorly. It only took listening to the queen's rant once to see why she was so much trouble.

    Rose walks in with a medical kit and approaches her. "I have volunteered to perform a medical exam on you, which includes a blood draw. Sniper is here so you don't break my legs during the procedures."
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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Time to Bug Out

    Needles. The mere mention of them was all it took. In a blazingly quick burst of speed, Chrysalis is up off her couch, book forgotten and pressed up against the back wall, crouched down in a bestial, feral position like she's ready to pounce. Her teeth, a full mouth of razor-sharp ones, are bared and she hisses more like a snake than a bug. Her eyes blaze with fire and her horn sparks fitfully, though the cuff prevents her from actually casting anything. Still, she is much larger than Rose and those teeth alone make her dangerous.

    "Get that away from me," she orders, voice full of malice and hatred, "Get that thing out of my sight! Do you understand me, Rose Cross? I will tear you apart if you take one more step. You should have had them stun me and tie me down first if that was your plan. Oh, but you're different, aren't you? You're better." She laughs humorlessly. "Go away! Leave me alone! If that's why you're here, you might as well leave."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Time to Bug Out

    The ferocity of Chrysalis' reaction startles Rose. She's had patients that hate needles, but she can't recall death threats in any other incident. Rose closes the medical kit and puts it down on the ground. With a gentle tap she pushes it away from herself a couple inches.

    "I'm sorry, Chrysalis. Needles are indeed scary, and no doubt you've had more than your fair share of them back when you were on Tartarus Station," she says, standing her ground, but leaving the medical kit on the floor. She glances over at Sniper to gauge his reaction, then continues, "How about I start with some simple exams; blood pressure, reflexes, heart beat? We could have stunned you first, true, but I wanted to do this exam with dignity. Can we work something out?"
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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Time to Bug Out

    Chrysalis relaxes a little. She begins to shake, which rekindles her anger. This time, however, it is directed at herself, and not Rose. It's not that she hates needles, she has a primal, irrational fear of them. Or perhaps very rational, all things considered. She pulls her lips back into another snarl and advances on Rose, head low so that they are staring eye to eye through the bars separating her side of the cell from the 'visitor's' side. "If. You. Touch me. You. Will. Die." she growls. It's clear to see why no other doctor or medic wants to come in and deal with her. There is murder in her eyes.

    She pulls away and collapses back onto her couch. For a moment, she stares at the ceiling. "I suppose I owe you my life now," she say begrudgingly, "Since you didn't put a bullet in my brain while I was down. So, either you want me for something or you were being sincere."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Time to Bug Out

    That reaction was both expected and unexpected. It was one thing to see Chrysalis vent on the security feed. It was another to actually witness such a base, primordial reaction first-hoof. In a way, it made Sniper glad they hadn't actually faced Chrysalis in combat.

    But that observation didn't change why they were here.

    "The obligation goes both ways," Sniper entered the conversation. "since I owe my present life to you. I made an offer to you when we last met and it hasn't been rescinded. I'm here to help. Rose is as well.

    "To answer your musing: it's sincerity. We aren't trying to take advantage of you."

    He paused for a moment and then continued: "So what were you reading?"

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Time to Bug Out

    Quote Originally Posted by D.KnightSpider View Post
    "To answer your musing: it's sincerity. We aren't trying to take advantage of you."
    "Right. I thought you might be more amicable to having me perform the medical exam than the usual doctors," Rose adds in. "You know I'm only going to do the exam and nothing more. I'm also being up front about everything."
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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Time to Bug Out

    "Help," Chrysalis snorts, "Then let me 'help' you out. I'm fine. Perfectly healthy. A little malnourished perhaps, but that's nothing new. Write that down on paper and turn it in for all I care. And I don't care. But if you come at me with that thing, then one of us in this room is going to end up dead. Do I make myself crystal clear? I don't care if you're being honest. I don't care if you have the best of intentions. The road to Hell is paved with those anyway."

    She pauses. "And it's Crime and Pun-ishment. It would be bearable if not for the constant stream of blasted jokes. But it's this or Thorax's 'reformation guide for changelings'." She makes a face like she is going to puke.

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    "Well... how about your pulse? I don't need to use any tools whatsoever to check your pulse. Just my hoof and about a minute of your time?" Rose asks. She thinks for a moment on how to get Chrysalis to agree. Stubborn patients need a little bribery at times to motivate them. "We can sweeten the pot. Sniper is a literary study. He might know some much more interesting books we can get you if you'd just let me do a basic check. What do you think, Sniper? Know some good stories the queen here would prefer?"
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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Time to Bug Out

    Sniper rubbed his chin with one hoof. His gut said to try and find some point of agreement with Chrysalis and literature might be the way to go. What did one recommend to a hardened Changeling Queen? He began running through options.

    "I've never read Crime and Pun-ishment. The name alone was enough to dissuade me as I've always been more of a pulp fiction stallion. Which... might be up your alley, actually. Shadow Spade's always a good read." Sniper directed his words to Chrysalis. "Off-hoof, some of Vincent Prance's early work in the horror genre might be fitting-- before it became all chop-shop garbage. That was a tragedy if there ever was one.

    "Of course, I could always take a look around and find something more akin to your tastes. But you'd have to help me by telling me what your tastes are." He dropped his hoof and shrugged in good nature.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Time to Bug Out

    Chrysalis glowers at Rose. "If you think you can bribe me..." she says, a warning in her voice. But after a moment of thinking, she hunches down and hisses out another sentence, "I will let you check my pulse."

    She extends one forehoof and turns her attention to Sniper. "I never did like your horror stories. The protagonists are too stupid for words. 'Oh, let me just wander off alone into this dark, spooky basement where the monster is most definitely hiding'. I mean, honestly now. I've stalked plenty of your kind and if I were the monster in those stories, I would be too dumbfounded by their idiocy to make the killing blow. I'm convinced the 'heroes' survive not by the power of friendship or love or any such rot, but because the monster is laughing too hard to make a decent stab at them."

    "I never read much pulp fiction. I did read many of your books on love and relationships, however. A good hunter studies her prey."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Time to Bug Out

    Rose gently holds Chrysalis' leg and attempts to read her pulse, mentally doing the count while tracking time with her watch. Nothing like the classic methods. Good thing they're still taught.

    (Seems like a trivial task for trained medics, but if you want a roll: (3d6)[8])
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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Time to Bug Out

    Chrysalis' foreleg feels strange. It is warm, but harder than a pony's hide. Chitinous and smooth, but not unyielding. About as tough as thick leather. Still, it's a trivial matter for a trained doctor to take a patient's pulse. However, Chrysalis' is abnormally fast right now. She is not relaxed and this is not her resting heartrate. It feels more like her heart is trying to beat its way free of her chest.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Time to Bug Out

    "Well, your heart rate is really high, Chrysalis. Matches up with anxiety. Is something making you nervous?" Rose asks. She glances around. "It can't be us, is it? Well me. Sniper can hold his own, but I'm mostly harmless."
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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Time to Bug Out

    "Well I'm sure I don't know, doctor. But you're a smart pony, aren't you? Why don't you take a stab at it and tell me what you think the problem is?" Chrysalis' tone is biting and sarcastic. She retracts her hoof and rolls away from Rose to look at the wall instead. "But try to keep the noise of your mental gears grinding together to a minimum. The noise does tend to grate. Like claws on a chalkboard."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Time to Bug Out

    As Rose takes the pulse, Sniper kept the conversation moving.

    "I never would have pegged you for a Rom-Com Queen or even just a romance buff. I can see why you struggle so much understanding love and friendship, now. It's hard to grasp relationships from reading a book.

    "I'll see what I can find in the romance section. Maybe throw in a mystery or two just for mental simulation. Pulp fiction is a cynic's genre-- everyone gets what's coming to them at the end."

    Once the pulse was done, Sniper opted to keep quiet and let Chrysalis respond first. He was starting to get an idea and Chryssi's reaction would tell him how to play it.

    Well, there it was. Time to take the plunge.

    "If I had my guess, I'd say the entire situation had you on edge. Tell you what, Chrysalis, how about if I play test dummy for you. Rose can demonstrate what she's going to do on me, that way you'll know if there's any tricks or deceit.

    "Of course, you'll have to make a few allowances for the difference in subject composition." Sniper raised a forearm. "Half of me is metal."
    Last edited by D.KnightSpider; 2017-09-19 at 07:44 PM. Reason: Ninja!

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Time to Bug Out

    "Well, I don't think I should take a stab. Chrysalis did threaten to tear me apart the first time I asked," Rose said in an attempt at humor with Sniper. It... well she didn't put much stock that Chrysalis was in a humorous mood. Instead Rose sits down near the bars ans looks at the once great changeling queen.

    "Your life suffered the harshest raw deal, Chrysalis. You suffered several defeats by Twilight and her friends. Then lost your hive when they turned to the side of friendship," Rose says says. Her tone is soft, kinda sad. Empathic. "And then, the one time a pony tried to give you your own chance at redemption, that one pony who believed in you... someone destroyed that chance. They hurt you. Made do something terrible. And so you were taken prisoner. But, you weren't at fault. No, how could you have known? You were cheated out of the one pony who had the world of faith in you. That there was still good in you."

    "I can't imagine how much pain is in your heart from a life of what you went through. But what I do know, is that the good in you must still be there somewhere." She pauses to contemplate.
    Last edited by DigoDragon; 2017-09-19 at 07:59 PM. Reason: The Ninja Conga Line
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    Chrysalis erupts in green flame and shifts into the form of a dainty, beautiful pegasus mare who looked like she belonged on the cover of a sleazy romance novel. The cuff only keeps her from casting spells. Shapeshifting is a natural, changeling ability. "Oh Sniper Scope," she says in overblown, dramatic tones, "You understand me." She bats her eyelashes at him and turns her body just so. "I can always count on you to know just what to say. How can I ever show my, mmm, appreciation for all that you've done for me?" Her voice takes on a low, husky tenor. "Maybe you should come inside and we can find out."

    The form disappears and she laughs. "Good? Ha! Even Celestia gave up on finding that!" She gives Rose another fanged grin. "I'm not good. I just happen to be on your side when it comes to the Lord of Stars."
    Last edited by Miltonian; 2017-09-19 at 08:12 PM.

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    Rose blinked. That form was... different. She didn't like Chrysalis flirting with Sniper. Rose was sure it wouldn't work on him. Stars and moon does flirting not work, but all the same, Rose felt a protective instinct wanting to get up and interpose. She kept it down for now.

    "Not good? Well, I disagree. Back on the station you had the chance to take us on, but you didn't. You hesitated. You had a moment before Twilight regained control and you let it slip by. I'm curious to know why?"
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miltonian View Post
    Chrysalis erupts in green flame and shifts into the form of a dainty, beautiful pegasus mare who looked like she belonged on the cover of a sleazy romance novel.
    Once Sniper's skin stopped visibly crawling, he shook himself fiercely. Ugh. He was going to need a long shower after that one. Just the thought of-- No. No. Don't go there. He'd like to keep his lunch in place.

    Ugh. That was creepy.

    He finally found his voice: "Thank you for proving my point. That was a play for lust, not love."

    He moved on to address Rose's point.

    "I... don't know if I agree or disagree, Rose. I've been wrestling with this for a while, so I may be projecting. But, I, well, don't think arguing about whether someone is good or not is going to do anything... If I had to guess... I'd say the problem here is guilt.

    "It's guilt that you did something horrible, Chrysalis, and no matter how much others argue against it or try to rationalize it away, you just can't forgive yourself. Maybe you even feel the need to punish yourself because you feel you deserve it... I don't know.

    "As I said, I could be wrong. It's just... Where I'm at right now." Sniper gave Chrysalis a look and a shrug. "So I understand if that's the case."

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    "Oh that's simple. Despite my posturing, I was afraid to die. Like all creatures, pony or not." Chrysalis waves Rose's question away. Then, she snorts in response to Sniper. "That wasn't a play," she says, "That was me mocking you. I can do it again, if the first time didn't quite catch." In another burst of flame, she takes on Sniper Scope's form. "Mares have cooties!" And she turns back into her own form, a smug look on her face. "There. Was that more clear? Or should I pull out the crayons next?"

    However, he notices a slight tremble in her voice and back as he speaks of guilt and not being able to forgive herself. One that does not come from exhaustion or malnutrition. A surge of anger passes through her right after it, stiffening her spine and hardening her voice. It's almost too simple. Under her mocking words, she's easy for him to read right now. All her long years of practicing deception are failing her. She's been broken and has yet to heal. The walls that normally allow her to channel and hide are cracked and shattered.

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    Sniper was forced to smother a laugh at Chrysalis' impression of himself. That was actually pretty funny.

    He contemplated his options for his customary moment and then approached the bars. He kept his gaze on Chrysalis. It wasn't piercing, but attentive.

    "Is it Starlight Glimmer?"

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    Starlight. That was the pony Rose referred to earlier. The one pony who gave Chrysalis a chance, and Chrysalis killed her. "I remember what you had said, Chrysalis, when you find those files in the maneframe. I could hear the pain in your scream, that for all these years you believed you were attacked by Starlight, when really you were set up. You killed perhaps your only friend, thinking she betrayed you."
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    At the actual mention of her name, Chrysalis falls silent. Her expression grows cold and distant. She steps away from them and turns toward the wall. “Leave me,” she says, “If you honestly care about my well-being, do not speak that name again.

    She hesitates for a moment and then takes a gentler tone. “I am rarely honest, but your...kindness and unfailing belief in me reminds me of her. So I will try being a little honest with you. They say that love is the most powerful force in the universe. I would normally agree, and then proceed to take all that power for myself. But now, I fear that regret is proving stronger. It is not an emotion I have much experience with. Please, leave me alone with my thoughts. Or do what you came for quickly and then leave.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Miltonian View Post
    I am rarely honest, but your...kindness and unfailing belief in me reminds me of her. So I will try being a little honest with you. They say that love is the most powerful force in the universe. I would normally agree, and then proceed to take all that power for myself. But now, I fear that regret is proving stronger. It is not an emotion I have much experience with. Please, leave me alone with my thoughts. Or do what you came for quickly and then leave.
    Rose is silent, not pressing any further verbally. 'What could you say to that?' Rose can clearly see why Chrysalis is a difficult changeling for medics to work with. It requires more patience than most ponies have. Maybe Rose is wrong about Chrysalis having a bit of good in her. Sniper seems better at reading others, picking out the regret spot on. Still. Rose just... has that intuitive feeling inside herself that Chrysalis is holding back a flood. More emotion and truth than the Hoovers Dam. After all, one cannot regret if one doesn't have a heart capable of caring, right?

    While she's thinking these thoughts, Chrysalis' request to be quick pushes Rose to pick up her medical kit and see about gaining entry into her room proper to do the tests efficiently. Maybe she's risking getting thrown across the room, but this is what she volunteered to do. Rose knows the risk.
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    "I can respect those wishes, Chrysalis. Both of them. As soon as we've done your medical exam, we'll leave you be."

    Sniper caught Rose's eye and nodded. He joined her in entering the restricted area.

    He had a pretty good idea of just what bothered Chryssi. Or felt he did, anyway. There was one thing he would have to do to find an answer for both of them. He didn't like it, but there were many things about his new existence he didn't like.

    But it was the only way to know. How could he provide an answer to Chrysalis that he, himself, didn't know?
    Last edited by D.KnightSpider; 2017-09-20 at 01:03 PM.

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    Everything is fine until Rose moves to put the needle in Chrysalis foreleg. The changeling queen is a model patient, adopting a bored and disinterested attitude toward the whole affair. She obeys instructions, but makes no further attempts at conversation. She does watch Rose as she goes to work, but her eyes are half-lidded and she yawns every so often. All her vitals are within the recommended range, if a bit on the edge due to malnourishment. There aren’t that many ponies willing to feed her, after all, and the Royal Treasury has to offer steep rewards for anypony to volunteer.

    Then, Rose pulls out the needle and she stiffens. She fixes her gaze on it, eyes narrowing. And as it draws near, a faint growling noise comes from the back of her throat. Sparks of green flame come off her form a few at a time. As Rose inserts it, they become gouts of it and the queen’s form begins to twist and warp into a larger, feral, spike-covered version of herself. Her expression is strained, holding herself back from lashing out and quite possibly sending Rose to the hospital again. But Rose gets the sample and, the instant the needle is withdrawn, she reverts back to her old self. The queen huffs and withdraws her leg quickly, licking at the little bit of blood leaking from it.

    Satisfied?” she says in a low hiss.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Miltonian View Post
    Satisfied?” she says in a low hiss.
    "I am. Thank you for your cooperation," Rose says as she packs up. Once everything is gathered, she scratches the back of her neck.

    "If you wish, I can come back for future check ups. That is, if you'd prefer I handle it over the regular staff. Up to you, and I'd be happy to come back." Rose didn't know why she did what she did next. It just... felt like the right thing. Maybe because she didn't have any lollipops to reward her with.

    She stepped forward and have Chrysalis an Honest-to-Celestia hug because she cared.
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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Time to Bug Out

    Chrysalis goes stiff as a board. She gives Sniper a panicked look that he can, for once, empathize with. After a moment, she carefully reaches up and removes Rose's hooves from around her neck. "Aaand that's enough of that," she says sharply, "To...to answer your question, yes. I would prefer if you came instead of the others."

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Spamalot in the Playground
     
    DigoDragon's Avatar

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    May 2008
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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: Time to Bug Out

    Rose relents on the hug when her hooves are removed. "Alright, I'll give my contact info out to the heads here so that we can schedule future appointments."

    She looks to Sniper if he has any parting thoughts to add?
    Last edited by DigoDragon; 2017-09-20 at 06:02 PM.
    Digo Dragon - Artist
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