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Everything posted by PrinceBlueblood

  1. There was a slight pause right after Icy set out the details of her offer. Partly this was because Chrysalis had a near-terminal flair for the dramatic, and partly because the Queen's mind was spinning rapidly, attempting to capture all the possible contingencies and align them. *There it is. She's giving me what I want. Can it really be that easy? To have a literal army of infiltrators right in the heart of Equestria's secret line of defense? Sure, one has to sign a non-aggression pact, but since when do these ponies trust me to keep them? Is it because we give good massages? Honestly, I ought to take them over for their own good...* All the justifications for conquest were lined up for their parade, but Chryssie shut them down. Now was not the time, not for a while, given her lack of any capability for such thing... at the present time. Breaking into a sudden grin, she accepted. "Agreed! It is a great pleasure doing business with you. We can arranged the details later, before your departure. But for now!" Stomping her hoof three times on the floor, the door opened to admit two drone servants. "Our guests must be hungry, and it is only fair to bring them a nice fruit salad after feeding vicariously off the happy couple, hm?"
  2. Berry smiled at Opal as she asked about the acronym. "Yeah, Strawberry-Orange-Grape-Sugarcane Punch, SOGS! Not the most appetizing of acronyms, I suppose, but GOSS wasn't much better, and OSGS is very hard to get right!" The burgundy mare laughed, turning around to give her tail a shake for her guests while she put away her bottles. Bit of a flirty move, but she was in a good mood, and liked the looks of all her guests. "And I'll be sure to have those barrels ready, Pinks! Hm, 'gives you wings'... that sounds like a pretty good motto, actually, though not sure how it would play with pegasi. They'd probably just make fun of it, until they tasted the punch, of course!" She could almost hear Rainbow Dash asking, "Why do I need some kind of fruity drink to make myself more awesome?" But then the cyan mare would drink it, and- Huh, yeah, that was actually a really good idea for an ad. Berry made a mental note to talk it over with her later. Now that Dashie was a bonafide Wonderbolt, there would probably have to be negotiations and arrangements made to use her likeness. Speaking of which, it seemed that Toboe was open for opportunities, and Berry was a savvy enough businessmare not to let those slip. "Funny you should mention that, but these Glasses come from Opal right here!" She pointed at the Crystal mare with a grin. "Genuine crystal, from an Empire craftsmare! You don't get any better than that, I can tell you. She does custom designs on them, too. I'll bet she could work out something nice for you; maybe a howling wolf, with the howls coming out as a music staff with notes? Be more than happy to supply what'll fill those glasses myself."
  3. Once Earth Writer caught a glimpse of that "dog" peering at him, some inner sense of certainty clicked into place. He knew, he knew that Taira wasn't a real dog... or, at any rate, a normal dog. But, what exactly could he do with that information? It wasn't as if he could prove anything. *I could sell a rumor piece to a trashy tabloid. Not as if I have any pride anymore, and neither do they.* Smiling a little at the prospect of affording groceries at someone else's expense, he got out his notebook to write the outline of his article. "You might meet them sooner than you think." The stallion remarked elliptically to Opal as he wrote.
  4. Having received expressions of interest from Raven, and promises of names for Icy of those interested in a more... "permanent residence" in her Island Paradise, Chrysalis was feeling rather pleased with herself and her hoofwork. Not that she could take credit for many of the intriguing differences; the previous owner of this dimension, Discord, had quite a lot to do with them. No matter, business called. Resting her chin on crossed forehooves, she stared at Ice Storm with slitted eyes and sphinxlike smile. "Mm, revolutionaries seek to overthrow their country's heirarchies, whereas you seem aimed upon ultimately strengthening them. Returning elites to the 'good old days,' taking matters of national security more into your own hooves... I think 'paramilitarist' would be the best term for you." Swishing her tail, the Queen chuckled, revealing her fangs. "And I am quite well aware of why you would think such measures necessary. If I may speak frankly, I never had any trouble with Equestria's official organs of defense. It was always plucky little mares like you that I couldn't overcome." Tapping her hoof on the bamboo-chitin flooring by her cushion, Chryssie signaled the end of preliminary faffing about. "In any case, it is time we went to the matter more directly. I know that you have gathered resources and organized them, but require ponypower to bring your organization up to full muster. I, on the other hoof, have many changelings hereabouts that... have not taken well to a more peaceable lifestyle. Keeping them in hoof and reminding them not to be hostile to our esteemed guests has proved a challenge, but having a place where they can put their true talents to use would be of great utility to me."
  5. Earth Writer, still unwilling to let go of the last bit of bitterness in his heart, snorted at Fire Walker's reassurance. "Do I now? Well, that's nice. I wish you would inform certain newspaper editors of that fact." He did admittedly feel a little bit of regret after saying that, so his expression softened. "But as they're not offering, I'll take up yours. At least, if a more generous patron doesn't miraculously show up. Artist's dilemma, you understand." He perhaps didn't have the right to invoke the angst of choosing between art and compensation, having already sold out, as it were. Still, things were looking up. "Changelings?" He tilted his head back to look at Opal. "Mm, I don't think so. I mean, the magic might be the same, but from what I was told, their natural form was that of an animal." The thought caused him to take another look at the 'dog' that just walked in, but again the mare took his attention. "And I'm Earth Writer. Nice to meet ya."
  6. Ah, the good old back-and-forth. Chrysalis felt herself in her element; this was the information game. Each would trade places in this conversation, each trying to get more information out of the other, without tipping their own hooves as to how much they knew. Or, so at least the Queen still felt in her heart of hearts. As transactional as her new foreign policy was, she still couldn't help but think of equine interactions as zero-sum. Nonetheless, she put on as pleasant a smile as she could without actually using any changeling magic. "Indeed? I hope you wouldn't mind giving me a list; the mortgage for a place here is... very long term, but I wouldn't mind opening a realtor office." She hummed with amusement, swishing her tail once again. Her eyes followed Ice Storm's orbs as the blue mare continued. While more a specialist in emotions than artifacts, she knew great magic when she saw it. "Hmm..." She tapped her chin, pondering just how much she ought to reveal this time. "I can't tell you how I came by my information, precisely, but I don't think my general methods are all that secret anymore. As to why I called you here, well. I take it upon myself to keep at least one pair of eyes on powerful ponies, and you, my dear, have been accumulating power at a quite unusual rate. And I don't just mean those orbs of yours." She pointed a hoof, almost dismissively, at Icy's necklace. "No, you've accumulated a great deal of social power as well. Expanding your business interests, forcing yourself into the Canterlot elite scene, and getting on very well with certain of the royalty." She gave a low, throaty chuckle. "Now, I've never yet seen a mare amass that much power that quickly without some intention or agenda of use. From what I know of your sympathies, you're not a revolutionary, and you have a great deal of, shall we say, empathy for the plight my Hive has been in, historically. So, I feel as if I ought to satisfy my curiosity, and scope out a potential opportunity..."
  7. "The classics generally are so for a reason." Blueblood remarked, as he stowed away his most precious relic in the special velvet-lined box reserved for it. He lingered a bit before closing it shut, with a little more emphasis than was necessary. *Machina was right... this transformation will eat at my identity if I let it. But it synergizes so well with with my plans and other relics...* There was a risk of losing himself, but what was the alternative? Remaining a practically powerless pretty-pony. No; whatever came of this, Blueblood would persevere until he, or she, commanded their due respect... But the Prince still had a ways to go before then, judging by Ossia's appraisal. He had not, in fact, assembled the entire thing himself, though it was only with a few trusted servants that he brought down the furniture. Apparently, his alicorn mentor appreciated a DIY stallion? Hopefully that is what she meant. In any case, he nodded. "A project for when we sort our current haul out. Heh, did pretty good there, didn't we?" He ventured a grin, pleased that she seemed to agree with the statement... conditionally. "Well, no I don't suppose you did. We all have to start somewhere, though I'll admit this was the first time I'd gotten anywhere." Opportunism was often borne out of desperation, but apparently today's first lesson was to keep it around, even for the better times. Don't leave home without your relics, and always pay some attention to where the dragon is. Right. Upon seeing Ossia begin to shed her accessories, Blueblood raised a brow, thoughts already wandering away from villainy, though not quite away from naughtiness in general. There was just something about her aura, he supposed. "Perhaps... we should take the elevator to somewhere more... comfortable?"
  8. Chrysalis' tail swished, an amused look filtering through half-lidded eyes as she sized up the two mares before her. The new mare, Raven, had a fairly typical reaction to a pony meeting the Changeling Queen for the first time. Obviously she didn't want to be in front of royalty while shaking in her boots, but a visible (and to Chryssie, tasteable) trepidation still radiated from the broken-horned unicorn. Not unjustified, admittedly, but still; she was obviously the "plus one." The Queen had little intrinsic interest in her for now, but having her with Ice Storm would make the stay of the mare much more... profitable. And there was the possibility of leverage if things went south, but attempting to exploit that bond could turn out disastrously. Speaking of Icy, the teal unicorn had a much more commanding air about her; though how much was real discipline, and how much mere bravado? She knew through agents that the mare had faced danger before, and likely felt little in the way of fear now. Good. "I am glad my work here pleases you; I do try to satisfy all my customers' desires." She couldn't help but wink at Raven as she said this. "And you have much in your life that would make relaxation desirable, I know." How much did Chrysalis know? The Queen would let that question stew in their minds a little bit as she continued. "While my business is important, I wouldn't say that it is in any way urgent. As a courtesy to a guest, why don't you set the first item of our agenda, hm?" A smile spread across her features; not as toothy as most of her grins, aiming to be more enticing than intimidating. Chrysalis was aiming to keep her cards close to her chest, for now, awaiting first play from her guests.
  9. With a grin, Berry Punch took up Pinkie's order. "Right you are! One SOGS punch, coming up!" She almost always named her punches after the initials of the fruits involved, though they didn't always make sense, or sound appetizing. Perhaps a sharper marketing mind might have taken her business farther, but then, that might have taken her too far away from this lovely town, and she couldn't have that! All ten of the requested cups of juice were poured into a mixing bowl, stirred in with a few cubes of ice, and then the whole thing was put in front of Pinkie, who in all likelihood would drink straight from the bowl. Berry didn't mind so much; the sweetness-loving pink pony rarely let so much as a drop spill. "There we go. And yes, Miss Toboe, I am her mother. I was with her for most of the night, so I saw to it that she wasn't taken by any ghost or ghoulie!" She giggled, the afterknowledge that all had been a harmless prank let her view the whole incident with amusement. "Anyway, I heard orders for two glasses of wine. Coming up! I think you'll like this one..." Reaching under the counter, she got out a glass decanter holding a dark purple liquid, pulling over the two exquisite crystal glasses that Opal had brought over. "This one is called Mountain Midnight, made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and a bit of Cabernet Franc grapes. Very strong and flavorful, but you have to decant it from the bottle first and let it get a little air; if you just drink it straight off, it's a little rough and bitter. Should be nice and smooth now..." With all the care of a practiced bartender, she filled the two goblets, the room filling with the scent of dark fruits, before pushing them over to Toboe and Tiger. Upon sipping the drink, each would find it to be like smooth velvet sliding over their tongue, bringing an intense, precisely balanced taste of fruit and spice with it.
  10. Oh bloody Tartarus, the wyrm was still conscious! Platinum Gem had barely enough time to realize that she was not about to die, thanks to Ossia's shield, before having to catch her breath long enough to respond. "Yeah... Not quite de riguer anymore." It was honestly a bit of a relief not to cross the final villain barrier quite yet, not that 'Pretty Gem' would ever admit that to her mentor. Anyway, she did better with less impromptu scenes. The mare shook herself. Time they weren't here. "Right, they're on their way home right now, and we should be as well." Reaching out towards the alicorn's shoulder, Platinum wasn't at all surprised to find the texture to be absolutely exquisite, like the richest of velvets imported from exotic clothiers. *I can't wait to find out what her wings feel like...* No, bad, don't picture that, otherwise Ossia will create some kind of spatial paradox. Picture instead the caverns under Blueblood manor... And just like that, they were there. They had been crystal mines, back in the day, before the mining operations had to stop out of fear that the city's foundation would be destabilized. The chamber was cool, half-furnished with shelves holding various relics, some valuable, none really powerful. Off in the corner was a pile labeled 'Fakes' that probably should be disposed of at some point. "Huh... well, here it is. They won't find us here, and we can drop off the load before going up to the house." Sighing in relief, shaking a bit to get the tension out, she levitated the Glamour Garnet off of her neck. Just like that, in a kind of of sudden shift of transformation, the handsome prince from before stood once again.
  11. The first hallway inside the doors was well lit from many windows, as well as slots in the bamboo wall, creating a pattern of dark and light within. Some beauty-minded changeling had even done up some floral arrangements, with the breeze wafting in from outside bearing the sweet odors throughout the grand hall. Once through a second set of doors, there was a darker room within, leading to a staircase, at the bottom of which was a chamber darker still, the interior much in the old style of Hive Center, lit only by green phosphorescence. There were considerably more cushions strewn about than was usual, but overall the impression was much the same as it would be in the old Badlands Hive. In the center of it all lounged Queen Chrysalis, undisguised in this, her inner sanctum. She seemed sleeker, more filled out than she had on previous appearances at the head of an invasion force, speaking well of her new diet. Raising her head to greet the pair of newcomers, she bared a grin that was just as full of pointy teeth as ever. "Welllcome..." She rolled the word in a low, sultry voice, green eyes glinting and forked tongue flicking. "I am so very pleased that you received my invitation. Do, come, take a seat wherever you like..." There was something a little too sweet in her voice; perhaps she was just trying too hard to be friendly after so long out of that habit...
  12. Oh, Earth was never going to give up writing itself; it was both in his name and in his bones, not to mention the only marketable skill he could use to put food on his table. What he'd lost was any pride in his product, or shame for that matter. Hence, why Fire Walker's attempt at encouragement drew out a laugh bitter as black coffee from the bottom of the pot. "Oh, I did. That's what got me in trouble. There's surprisingly little demand for a freelance propagandist, if you can't fool anypony into thinking you're a real journalist anymore." That was as close as he'd come in a while to a public admission of guilt; much of it was externalized into a resentment of the powerful, telling himself he'd been hard done by everypony involved, from the noble who'd entrapped him to the editor who fired him. But with destitution looming, one had to discard grudges like so much ballast to keep afloat. Sighing, he settled back in the chair with the cup of cocoa. "Anyway, thanks. I'll see her with a manuscript once I've got it finished." His eyes wandered back to Taira as he took a sip. Going off to greet the Kirin... who greeted back, apparently. Once again, buried reporter senses were tingling. "You know, I heard a story once, or read it, about creatures that could disguise themselves as animals... or, perhaps, were animals that could disguise themselves as ponies. Who are also animals, I suppose. Anypony ever wondered why that distinction doesn't seem weird?" He addressed his question to Opal, as she'd just come up to the rest of the group.
  13. As soon as Kahz saw Raven come up from behind Icy, his compound eyes lit up in sparkling blue, and his wings began to buzz and chitter happily. "Ah, welcome, welcome! It is an amazing place, isn't it? Much better than the Badlands, to be sure. Praise to the Queen for bringing us here!" The little drone here would have more reasons than most to praise the change; part of the reason he was so small and bent was due to nymphood malnutrition. But now, with loving customers coming in nearly every day, why, it was a near-constant feast for the Hive! Chuckling at the apropos mention of the food, Kahz stepped forward to offer himself as a guide. "The Palace is open to you for the duration of your stay! You'll have free rein of all the VIP accommodations, once you've concluded your meeting with the Queen. Follow me!" He led the pair on a path over the dunes and sea cliffs, a bit rough at first for those lacking wings. It offered a fine view of the beach resort, with the clear lagoon spread out before them. Ponies could be seen swimming and sunbathing, usually accompanied by a disguised 'ling rocking a perfect beach body. Once they went up and over the bend, that view would be cut off, only to reveal an even more striking one. A row of palm trees swaying in the breeze, marking a path down a lush lawn to a sprawling complex of bamboo and coral, held together here and there by the black chitin normally used in changeling architecture. A palace fit for an island queen, whose massive doors were opening before them now. "Go right in, she knows you're coming!" Kahz smiled and stepped aside. Unlike years before, he was reasonably certain that he would see the two again, once they crossed the threshold into Chrysalis' private domain...
  14. Smiling at having her recollection confirmed, the burgundy mare nodded eagerly at Toboe's question. "Yep! I always help little Pinchy with her costume; she was the Bride of Ponystein that year! I don't usually have time for my own, though; I'll definitely have to check out that shop if it's here again next year!" She was about to ask her for a drink order, when all of a sudden, the shop was invaded by a pink progenitor of prodigious partying! "The usual, eh Pinkie?" She laughed, turning around to grab the bottles behind the counter. "Coming up! Ten cups of the good stuff. You want them all separate, or do you want to try them all in a punch?" Berry looked back with a gleam in her eye. She rarely suggested this sort of thing, even though her full name suggested a particular application of this talent. Her parents had raised her to appreciate ingredients in themselves before bringing them together, drawing a parallel to inter-pony relationships. Each needed to know and respect themselves before they could do justice to another, a lesson which Berry took more to in drink than in ponies. After all, every time you met another pony, you couldn't help but mix, right? She laughed again at Opal's formalized hesitation. "Well, it might be, if it hadn't been so long since the last one. Pinkie builds up so much party in her, that if she doesn't let it out regularly, they become real blow-outs!"
  15. In truth, 'just off the Equestrian Shoreline' was an inadequate way of describing the location of the resort land Chrysalis had acquired from Discord. In one sense, yes, it was but a short sail from the Strand cities to her pleasure port of call, in another, one could hardly call it a part of the same dimension. The two suns were the biggest clue in that regard. So far, however, no random storms of chaos had messed up the Queen's ambitions to use the place to harvest love in a less evil and more successful manner than before. Now that issue of her Hive's immediate survival was taken care of, she couldn't keep her scheming brain quiet. But what could she get up to that wouldn't be counter-productive at this point? Well, perhaps she would get a good idea from her meeting today. An old hoof at espionage, whispers of things happening in a certain mare's life had reached her ears. A mare who was a repeat customer. Possibilities brewed in her mind, leading her to sending out an invitation. Not that she greeted the mare at the docks; after the grand opening, the 'Island Queen' no longer made a habit of personally welcoming the ships. Now, her drones did so. Undisguised, now that her 'secret' was out. She had assigned the more charismatic and sensitive members of her hive (rare among the unreformed 'lings) to guide each customer to the sector of the island most suitable to their fantasies. Kahz, a diminutive, slightly bent out of shape, but utterly charming was the one greeting Ice. "Miss Ice Storm? Lovely to see you again!" Smiling, he took up the scroll in his magic, glancing over it. "Looks to be in order; be glad to take you there!" His smile dipped a bit as he saw one of the last lines of the scroll. "You're not bringing a plus one? Her majesty had been hoping you would."
  16. Berry had been about to nod and pack it up once again, but then she heard the little dingle of the bell over her front door. Customers! "Hold that thought for now, I've got ponies to take care of." Smiling at Opal, she was positively beaming at the shaggy-maned newcomer. "Yep, that's me! Come on in, ain't seen you 'round these parts before, I think?" She tilted her head, trying to place Toboe on the rather vague memories she had of a similar-looking mare. "Or weren't you here for Nightmare Night? Yeah, I think I remember seeing you there." Not just that, but another customer was coming in right behind! Ooh, an exotic-looking earth pony; mama like. "Well there, handsome, the nice thing about wine is that it comes in so many varieties, you can find one for any taste! Whether you like them sweet and fruity, bright and zesty, smooth and elegant, or dark and rich, I got one for all, and even more! And if you don't know what you like yet, I'll give you a sampler tasting for 5 bits! You won't find a better deal this side of Canterlot."
  17. "Usually I'd hear about it if she were..." Berry mused. Smiling at the compliment, she brushed back a bit of her mane from her eyes. "Why, thank you! And this is a slow part of the day for me, most of my business comes early in the morning, when little colts and fillies pick up their juice for their packed lunch on the way to school, and in the afternoon and evening, when the grown-ups come for a drink."
  18. "That's alright!" In better and more profitable times, Berry would have been glad to give the drink on the house. As it was, however... things hadn't been going so well, lately. There was only so much demand here, hence the mare's collaborative idea to generate some with crystal goblets. "Two bits, please." After hoofing over the drink, she leaned on the bar-counter, looking out the window towards the empty square. "Huh, guess not many are out on this street. Might be at the park, or something."
  19. There doesn't seem to be anyone in the shop right now; hopefully none were here and left while Berry was gone. "Well, here's the place." It was internally furnished with much in the way of stained wood shelves, with grooves to hold wine bottles on their sides. Little tables were set up, most of them empty, but a few with bottles tastefully arranged. Closer to the front were the juices made for younger ponies, and those looking for a softer drink. Many of these were in boxes. "You wouldn't believe what it took to get the machine to make those, and even then I have to remind the little ones to recycle them. Still much safer than giving them glass, though.
  20. "Alright then!" Berry beamed, standing back up and heading towards the door. "We'll just take a quick walk back to my shop, just to make sure I haven't left a customer disappointed, then we'll just go out on the town, see who we run into!" Opening the door for her new friend, the earth pony mare quietly cheered herself on. Why be satisfied with a slow shop day, when you can make a new friend instead? The resident Princess was certainly right in her priorities, as far as Berry was concerned.
  21. Hm, head tilt in confusion. That told Berry that Opal had little, if any, experience with flirtation or any other kind of teasing. And probably wasn't looking for anything of the kind either. That was fine, the burgundy mare just had to remember to tone it down around her a little, that's all. "Well! Did you have any plans today? Because I didn't, and there's no time like the present, as our resident doctor likes to say!"
  22. Berry did perk up at the compliment, sharing in the vanities common to all mares. "Aw, thanks sugar crystal! Would be depressing to think I was losing it already." She even ventured a wink that verged on brazen. Most of the town were used to her ways, and knew not to take them too seriously, though. She kind of did want to see how the newcomer would react, get a read on her character and all that. "I see you haven't got much in the way of local connections, then. Sometime I ought to take you around and make a few introductions; it's the ponies here that really make the town worth living in, occasional disaster an all!"
  23. "Oh!" Berry's eyes shone at the final product, getting up from her seat to take a closer look at the crystal glass and it's design. "May I?" She asked, before taking the goblet into her own hooves. Her grip is more gentle and precise than that of an average earth pony, mostly due to her having handled glassware all her professional life. Holding it up to the light, twirling it between her frogs, she tested the balance and light refraction, before setting it back down with a smile. "It's perfect! I'll take two dozen of this design, at least to start. Two to display, and the rest to sell. I'm not sure how much demand this town will support, but I'm sure I won't have to hold on to them for too long!" Though her business was concluded, the burgundy mare was in no hurry to leave. After all, neither of them had any customers to deal with, and she wouldn't have to leave until Pinchy came home from school. Time enough to socialize and chat! "So, how do you like your new home? I'll bet seeing Princess Twilight's new castle really brought back memories, huh? Seems hard to imagine now that she was just Twilight Sparkle, town librarian a few years ago. Well, that and a national hero!" She giggled, but could not sustain her laughter for long, deflating into a sigh. "Changes like that make me feel old, gotta say. I don't look it, do I?"
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