The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    Chrysalis frowns. She will not lose. Not now. She is the Queen of Changelings! Present circumstances aside, she has a reputation to uphold. And one pegasus stallion is not going to stop her from claiming victory. But the rules of engagement were unfamiliar to her. She carefully reviewed her options for the tenth time, but nothing came to mind. There was no way out, at least not that she could see. Oh well, perhaps her twice-conqueror would be merciful. "You win," she says through gritted teeth and knocks over her king. Sniper's side of the board is much more populated. Chrysalis only has a few pawns left to defend herself with. "I don't like this one. 'Chess', is it?"

    She huffs and sits back. "And I see you brought more that you know how to play and I don't. How touching."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    Sniper put some disbelief on his face. Not enough to call Chryssi a liar, but enough to show some doubt at her claim. It just didn't make sense to him.

    "You're telling me that with all your history of impersonation and identity theft, you've never had occasion to play chess-- the one game as old as you are?"

    He began gathering the pieces. Chess was nice as a warm up, and it might give him some insight into Chrysalis' sense of strategy, but it wasn't his main goal today. Parasprite was.

    "Are there any games you do know how to play?"

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    "..." Chrysalis glowers at him. "I'm so sorry that in the midst of my endless torture I may have forgotten the rules to a game. I suppose I do remember playing it once or twice way back when. But that was a long time ago. Sue me."

    "Besides. I never impersonate someone whose skills I can't imitate."

    She huffs and thinks for a moment. "Oh I know how to play many games, Sniper Scope. But unfortunately, they aren't the kind you'd be interested in. Which is a shame, really. You're not the most nutritious meal around. Compassion and pity are well and good, but not very filling. They're like a..." She strives to think of the world. "A garnish."

    "But as to your question, I was always good at cards. Poker was always fun. I could read everyone at the table, no matter how good their 'poker face'. I sampled their emotions, see. And nopony could penetrate mine."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    "Fair enough point about playing chess, I suppose. A pony could forget a lot over the centuries." It made sense, but the idea of forgetting something as fundamental as chess was beyond him. It would be like forgetting how to tie a knot.

    "Remind me not to bring cards in then." Sniper allowed himself a wry smile. "Given your unique advantages. Huh. Actually... I might know of a workable card game. I'll have to look into it later."

    Other games, huh? Probably ones related to love. He'd stay ignorant about them, thanks. Until he could sort of his own feelings on the subject, he wasn't about to discuss that with Chrysalis. That would be playing with a live grenade.

    He began placing the chess set inside the box. Of course, there indented rubber spaces for the pieces. He could never above loose game pieces.

    "And on the subject of workable games, I've got one that you'll probably like better than the other options. It isn't PVP."
    Last edited by D.KnightSpider; 2017-10-14 at 12:52 AM.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    "Well! Take half the fun away from the very start," Chrysalis says with a teasing tone. "The card game is intriguing, but since you don't have it here, we will have to make do with what you brought." She leans forward. "So tell me about this 'not PvP' game of yours."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    Sniper picked up his copy of the game in question and placed it on the table. He rotated the box so that Chryssi could see it right-side-up.

    "It's called Parasprite and it was a pioneer of the cooperation game genre. Instead of player versus player every pony-- and changeling-- is on the same team. If they can work and coordinate together, then they'll win. If not, then they lose to the game system."

    Sniper leveled a grin of challenge at Chrysalis.

    "There's no unfair advantage here since we're on the same side. Do you think you could handle that?"

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    "Parasprite?" she says, "That is the threat we're facing? Alright. This should be a, ahem, walk in the park."

    She smiles as Sniper sets the game up and reads through the rules. After a few minutes, she sets them down. "Just the two of us? Hmm, this may be more difficult than I thought."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    "It's not an easy game. Although, I've found the difficulty to scale rather well regardless of player number." Sniper explained.

    He shuffled a few cards and then pushed them across the table, face down, toward Chrysalis.

    "It's up to you. If you think you can handle managing four Parasprite breeds, then draw a card and let's find out what class you are. But if working with a pony is too much for you, then we could always go back to chess."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    Chrysalis draws a card and frowns. "Researcher," she says, "Good. A useful one. Or should I say, one of the more useful ones." She looks to Sniper for confirmation that her analysis of the game is correct. "As we begin, I was wondering something, Sniper Scope. All your emotions are in a tight, little ball. Love, hate, passion, happiness, grief, all trying to occupy the same small space in the back of your mind, far from where they can touch anything. I don't care why you did it. I want to know how. Your kind are nothing but emotion. It practically oozes from you all, like soft jelly. But you are hard as diamonds. How?"

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    "Researchers are always useful." Sniper said with a nod.

    He didn't respond to Chrysalis' question immediately. Instead, he picked a card from the extreme edge of the pile, pulled it to the edge of the table and then flipped it. He snorted as he caught sight of his role in the game.

    "Medic. Now, there's irony for you, but not a bad one. Researcher / Medic is one of the more useful combinations of the game. It's not the best, but it's up there."

    He was buying time deciding how much to say. Very few ponies ever bothered to ask about his feelings or even realize that he possessed them. It was very tempting to tell everything. But Chrysalis was still Chrysalis. By her own admission she was dishonest and untrustworthy. He had to be careful.

    "In answer to your question: emotions are all mental energy. Energy can't be destroyed, but it can be suppressed. With enough patience and perseverance, a pony can learn enough self control to suppress them."

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    Chrysalis rereads the rules on medic. "I can see how that would be a good combination," she says, "Well, why don't you take the first turn then? So that I can make sure I understand how this game works." She settles back, ready to watch.

    At his explanation, she snorts. "Yes. But with you, it's a pressure cooker. You're not controlling your emotions. You're compressing them. Forcing them into a tighter and tighter ball. One day, you're going to explode and not even I want to be around when that happens. Now, let's not kid ourselves here. I don't care, but it does make it very hard to, and there's no polite term for this, feed."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    Sniper surveyed the board and the colored cubes indicating outbreaks of swarms.

    "I'll take a variety of actions this turn so that you can get a feel for the game. Action one: moving from Canterlot to Neighagra Falls. Action Two: Discarding my Neighagra Falls Card to travel directly to GriffonStone. Action Three: Clear the swarms there (Medic Advantage). Action Four: Discarding my GriffonStone Card to build a Research Station on this side of the continent." The tokens were moved in accordance with his explanation. Sniper picked up two cards from a deck: these were added to his hand. Two other cards were drawn from a separate stack. "Then I draw two player cards and add them to my hand. These other two indicate the next swarm appearance. Looks like Yakyakistan and San Palamino are the unlucky cities."

    His actions complete, Sniper looked at his cards. "I have two red cards and two blue cards. It's a start."

    "Insofar as my emotions go, it's an impasse. If I were to surface some emotion, I'd be off-balance, mentally, and easier to manipulation." Sniper leaned back against his chair. He snorted in good nature. "Besides, garnish isn't very filling no matter how much of it you eat."

    Further, Sniper wasn't entirely sure he could let his emotions out. The entire process was such an ingrained habit that it was automatic when he was around others and in difficult situations. How to stop doing that, he didn't know.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    The game runs it course. It goes pretty well, too. Chrysalis refuses Sniper's help, but quickly catches on and makes if not the best decisions, then good decisions. The plagues of parasprites, however, soon spread out of control and the game is won only by a sudden turn of luck.

    Chrysalis sits back smugly. "Well, that was entertaining," she said, "Thank you for bringing that."

    She reclines on her couch. "Sniper Scope," she says, "Who do you hate? I can sense it in you. And I don't doubt you could summon it on a whim. Whenever you kill, you use that hate, don't you? So, who do you hate? Whose face is it that you blow apart time after time?"
    Last edited by Miltonian; 2017-10-23 at 09:22 AM.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    Sniper began putting the game away once more. There were many pieces and tokens to sort, bag and stock. It was going to take him a few minutes to get organized.

    "You're welcome for the game. I'll make it a regular event."

    As the conversation turns, so does Sniper's mood. He sobered as his mental guard quickly reformed.

    "Why the determination to get inside my head when there are so many other discussions to be had?" He contemplated the request for a moment. "Tell you what, I'll trade answer for answer. I've been curious about something. If you answer my question I'll answer yours. Deal?"

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    "I get inside everypony's head, Sniper Scope. It's nothing personal." Chrysalis says. She shifts and lets loose a yawn. "But you're right. It's rude of me. So let me make my intentions crystal clear. And then I will answer your questions."

    "I enjoy your company and the games. I really do. It's a welcome variation to my day to day routine. However I am also hungry and you do not give me much to feed upon with your emotions all bundled up like that. So, I want you to let them loose, for a time. And with you, I think the key is through your hate. So again, who do you hate, Sniper Scope?"
    Last edited by Miltonian; 2017-10-25 at 09:51 AM.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    "Ordinarily, I'd deflect by saying that I hate every pony equally, that way I can't be accused of discrimination. But," A sigh escaped him. "you'd probably see right through that one. So we'll cut out the cat and mouse."

    Sniper hesitated for a long moment. Eventually, he continued.

    "The pony I hate most? Myself. I'm surprised you don't know that already. A word of warning, however, I wouldn't recommend trying to surface too much hate. You've seen how disastrous that would be first hoof."
    Last edited by D.KnightSpider; 2017-10-25 at 08:39 PM.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    "On the contrary," Chrysalis says, "I found it...beautiful. A work of art, you could say. Unfortunately not one that your fellow ponies can appreciate. But I have a long history of fighting capable and clever opponents. And your abilities were most impressive. I wonder what you could do if you stopped holding back."

    She leans forward. "You shouldn't hate yourself for how you were born, Sniper Scope. You have a gift. And once you stop caring what others think about you, you'll go very far."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    Dang, she was good. He'd actually felt the tug of temptation for a moment before vindication and validation swept it aside. It was the predicted manipulation, right on schedule.

    Sniper gave Chrysalis a knowing smile. Then he asked his question.

    "Would you rather have bottles stuck to your hooves for five months or a rubber squeaker attached to your flank for eighteen months?"
    Last edited by D.KnightSpider; 2017-10-25 at 11:55 PM.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    Chrysalis pulls back sharply. A flicker of confusion crosses her face before it is chased away with pitchforks and torches by annoyance and even anger. "Since I am used to torture," she says coldly, "I choose the bottles with the shorter duration."

    She turns away. "You're a most impressive pony, Sniper Scope. You have a capability that few of your kind possess. The ability to be cruel. Mocking me? Is that what we've sunk to?Well, go ahead then. Hit me with your best shot."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    "It's not cruelty." Sniper chuckled. He began mentally digging through his emotions, looking for one particular, ancient vein.

    "It's an old party game. You give some pony else a choice between two equally absurd options and then ask them to explain why they choose the one they did. It's a great ice breaker for large groups."

    There it was. He hadn't thought about the old family get togethers in years. Sniper drudged up his old, childhood love for them and pulled it to the surface for Chrysalis.

    "We used to play it all the time back at the reunions. Take a nibble and see. Or lob a question at me. Fair's fair."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    Chrysalis glowers murderously at him, but she does 'devour' a bit of Sniper's good feelings about the game. "Because having glass break under me and stick in my legs or publicly humiliated in one of the most perverse ways is such a fun mental exercise," she says with biting sarcasm. "But fine."

    "Would you rather be flayed alive or eaten alive?"

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    "That's because you're over thinking it. It's not supposed to be real world painful. It's more like something out of a cartoon."

    Sniper turned his attention to Chysalis' question. After some thought, he replied.

    "I'd say... eaten alive, I suppose. Depending on how it's done I might bleed out quicker than being flayed alive. But regardless, it seems like more of an exotic way to die. Would you rather see ten minutes into your future or ten minutes into every pony else's future?"

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    Chrysalis is suspicious, but decides to go along with it. For now. She is clearly not sure about this game and studies Sniper carefully for any sign of smugness or mockery. She's been made a fool and subject of scorn too many times recently. "That is a good choice," she says, "Very...sensible."

    To Sniper's question, she answers, "Oh, everypony else's. I can use that to my advantage. Also, I know what the next ten minutes will hold for me." She seems to be warming up to this game. "Now. If you had to spend a night locked in a house with a supernatural serial killer or in a bedroom with your worst enemy, which would you pick?"

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    "I'll take the serial killer."

    The answer comes just a little too quick, leaving a slight awkward pause as Sniper's left trying to justify his decision.

    "Cutie Marks are supernatural to an extent and... mine would give me some insight on how to handle a killer. It would be a better game of wits."

    All the while, Sniper continued surfacing different memories and emotions of happier times for Chrysalis. All of which were before he became a creature of darkness.

    "Would you rather save the life of someone that you're close to or save the lives of 5 random strangers?"

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    "A battle I am sure you would win." Sniper doesn't know quite what to make of this. It's not flattery. There's an undertone of light mockery in it. Were it anypony else, he would chalk it up to them teasing him. But with Chrysalis, he's not sure. Perhaps she is sincere, even, and that is a slightly frightening thought. Or it could just be flattery. It's impossible to tell.

    "Someone I am close to? That implies that someone got close to me, which would be a very, very impressive feat in and of itself. So assuming that and taking into account, my answer would have to be the one. Why would I bother with the five strangers at all?" She chuckles. "Ah. One life versus several. I see. Not really something I've ever cared about."

    Whether or not she is feeding on his memories, Sniper cannot tell. But they do not feel quite so warm as last time he remembered them. It is most likely from her feeding, but there's a niggling doubt in his mind that it's just him. He's slipping farther away and so what once filled his heart with warmth feels more distant.

    "Since we're talking about letting ponies die...would you let a bus of foals fall over a cliff or one of the Elements?"

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    "I think you sell yourself short." Sniper replied. He paused to put a hoof to his head. Everything felt so muddled all of a sudden. Why had he defaulted to this game again? "I know ponies have gotten close to you in the past. I've seen your interactions with Happy Hooves. I think you could let that happen again... But, then, what am I saying? I'm the last one to lecture any pony or changeling on that subject."

    The paranoid side of his mind lit up and began laying contingencies... just in case. Sniper began more carefully auditing the memories and emotions he left slip. Losing his love of a family word game was one thing, but he couldn't afford to let that bleed over into anything else.

    "Unfortunately, my answer to your question is already well defined. My duty to Equestria and the Elements come first. Regardless of my personal feelings, I would have to save an incapacitated Element over all others.

    "So let me throw one more into the mix while keeping to the subject matter. If you could bring back an old friend who would eventually die again or make a new one who would never die, what would you do?"


    Spoiler: OoC
    Show
    I figure after another round, Sniper will be bled dry and he can ask for info dumps.
    Last edited by D.KnightSpider; 2017-11-01 at 09:04 PM.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    Chrysalis seems frozen. Sniper feels something like a mental snap and the slight drain that he felt on his emotions comes to a sudden halt. He knows that, when a changeling is careful, the emotions drained from their victims return within a day or so, so there is no fear there. But this new feeling is not from that.

    "I..." Chrysalis bites her lip and turns her head. "I..." A dark look enters her eyes. She rises and begins to pace back and forth, back and forth, silently fuming over the question. She grows more and more frustrated with each passing moment until she is almost smashing her hooves against the floor.

    "I don't know," she hisses through clenched teeth.

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    "Then I need to apologize to you."

    Given the overall situation and their most recent interactions, Sniper genuinely felt uneasy for causing Chrysalis' distress. This wasn't what he wanted or was pursuing. This far he had fallen far short of his original goal.

    "It was never my intention to be cruel or torture you with these questions-- with this game. But I clearly have not properly considered your situation or past history. I saw a rare opportunity to ask a philosophical question and took it without taking your situation into account. Can you forgive me for that?"

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    Chrysalis glowers at him. "I despise pity, Sniper Scope. Pity implies that I am weak. But I recognize that you did not mean to give offense. And so, as is fitting for a queen to do, I will accept your apology."

    Under her breath, she adds, "And there is only one pony I'd bring back anyway. So I suppose the answer is obvious then."

    She settles back into a sitting position. "So what now, Sniper Scope? Despite everything, I do find your presence preferable to your absence. So please, don't leave just yet." She grins. "If you don't have anything in mind, perhaps I could choose the next activity."

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    Default Re: Celestia's Finest: You Give Love a Bad Name

    Sniper's hoof found his chin as he mulled the situation over. Being able to catalogue emotions and feelings was an ability that rarely came in handy. But this was looking to be one of those times.

    "I wouldn't call the motivation behind an apology pity. More... empathy... perhaps? It's a recognition that you've been hurt or injured and a desire to alleviate said hurt by taking the responsibility for initiating the hurt.

    "Huh. You know, I don't normally philosophize this much, but you seem to bring it out of me."


    He shrugged. It wasn't as though he had anywhere else to be.

    "In the interest of making amends, go ahead and pick. I do have a few serious questions for you, but I'm not hopeful of receiving an honest answer. So I'll ask my questions whenever you're ready."

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