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DerpRavener last won the day on February 26 2021

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    Gaming, game design, philosophy, logic. A little writing on the side.

    Oh yes, also changelings. I love changelings.
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  1. Naj shrugged, looking a little sad but not really pained by the conversation. “I don't really mind. Like I said, we're still on good terms, it's not like I'd feel the need to spit on his name or anything.” She reached for the book as AJ requested, but she also kept talking as she passed it over. “He's an earth pony, a stallion by the name of Red Cedar. I think...I think we first met one Hearthswarming, technically. But we didn't really meet until a little while later, after I'd had plans to more fully integrate. He seemed receptive to the idea of changelings in general, so I took a chance.” She laughs softly. “He's very sweet, his first reaction was to worry for my safety. Anyways. We hit it off, started a relationship, I moved in with him.” Naj was quiet for a moment, before continuing. “Eventually...I dunno. I can't point to anything specific, but we just didn't quite seem to connect somehow. It took a little while for me to realize that. After a while we sat down, and had a long, serious talk.” She had a faraway look for a few moments. “We both agreed that the relationship wasn't fully working out. He still offered for me to stay at his place, as long as I need. I decided I didn't want to do that to either of us, so I moved myself into the barracks. When I am staying in one place, at least.” She was quiet for a little longer, before adding. “I still keep in touch.”
  2. Naj laughed despite herself, as AJ wiggled her daughter's hoof and “spoke for” the foal. She didn't feel like she'd normally react this way, but there was something unquestionably adorable about it. Maybe it was Applejack, seeing a mare she knew so much for toughness act so...so...she wasn't quite able to come up with the right word. She also still wasn't sure how to react, but only had to get as far as giving a small wave to Ambrosia before the problem was solved by the foal demanding feeding. She listened as AJ spoke about being a parent, quietly smiling at, though only abstractly understanding the feelings the farmpony was describing for her offspring. Or at least, she was until Applejack asked the question about the changeling's own loved ones. Her expression fell, changing to that of a carefully neutral one. “I've never had kids, if that's what you're asking.” She hesitates, before adding. “Had a special somepony at one point, but we drifted apart.”
  3. “That's just the thing,” Naj replied after a nod, “that region's not very well organized, meaning anyone planning anything untoward won't necessarily get any kind of response. Someone could start building strength for years, maybe even decades, without anyone learning something's coming. That's what I'm most worried about, on that front at last.” The conversation is interrupted by by a cry from another room, followed by Applejack getting up and going to address the issue before Naj could do anything to stop her. She ended up sitting quietly, and maybe a little awkwardly, sipping her water and flipping through the book, until the farmpony returned carrying a foal with her. “Ahh, that's alright. That might be about enough work talk for now anyways.” Naj makes a mental note of the page she's on, and then closes the book and sets it aside. She leans closer, though a little hesitantly. She knew her natural appearance could be intimidating, and to be honest she wasn't sure how to interact with a young pony. “Erm, hello,” she says to the tiny pony, after a moment.
  4. Naj took the book carefully, particularly wanting to avoid any damage to it after hearing just how rare and valuable the book was. As such, she took a little extra time making sure the book was safely settled and herself comfortably so, before she opened it up and started looking through it. Then she continued. “Maretonia, someone's riling up the locals. You might think that's not really our problem, and ordinarily I'd agree with you. But whoever it is, is organized, and their reach is growing. There've been small groups all across that region with no obvious connection, but who are nonetheless a little too coordinated with each other's actions. And there might even be a some ranging farther out.” “As for the yokai...” Naj sighed, and flipped through the pages. “Honestly, I'm not even really sure that's what I'm looking into, but it's the best lead I've got right now. There was a cache of stolen goods found and recovered from that general area. Ordinary stuff really, lots of little trinkets of some value or a little magical significance. Only problem was that up until then the records said they were all stolen in unrelated incidents. No one really has a clue, save for a few legends of spirits operating in all those areas. I'm trying to see if I can either rule it out, or find some truth to it.”
  5. Naj was starting to settle in, and had at least sat down in another seat, when AJ asked the question. “Well, it's not really anything specific. I've been looking into a lot of different, scattered things. Been running all over Equestria looking into a lot of scattered things. I might just be tired from running around everywhere chasing leads down.” Then the changeling paused. “But, knowing you you probably won't buy that. 'Element of Honesty' and all that.” She sighed, and then leaned forward. “You ever heard of Yokai? Some kind of...” Naj waved a hoof in the air, as she searched for the best descriptive words, “Neighponese nature spirits. I think, I'm still learning about them myself, so that's probably an oversimplification, at least. Anyways. Supposedly, there's been some new, troubling activity from one of them. But our available intelligence of that whole region too limited to say for certain.” She paused for a moment, then scratched the back of her head and added, “and then there's that thing in Maretonia...”
  6. Naj nodded happily and moved to the kitchen. Water was fairly straightforward, and so while she wasn't familiar with the Apple family kitchen she didn't feel the need to get additional instruction. Though she did start calling back a reply to what AJ was saying. “I hear that,” she said with a bit of amusement in her voice, “I don't know what I'd do if I was told I have to just drop guard duty.” As she brings a pair of mostly full cups back, passing one to the farmpony, Naj adds, “I can't help but imagine it's better for the foal though, so they're probably right, in the long run.” She shakes her head. “Can't say I've been eager to have a child myself, but maybe that's a motherhood thing.” She settles herself down into one of the seats, before continuing. “I've been...investigating. There are a lot of weird little things happening around the continent, things noted but that aren't obviously a sign of an issue. I've found myself with some free time, I've been following up on them. A lot of them are duds, but a few of them...” she falters a bit, before continuing, “a few of them have left a mark on me, you could say.”
  7. Naj scratched the back of her head. “Yeah, that's about the short of it. My schedule lately has been...a bit of a mess. I got the letter, I wish I could have gotten here sooner, but...” She followed the farmpony inside, taking note, but making no immediate comment, on the state of it. For the most part she just listened to Applejack talk. She did start to move to catch the farmpony when the latter seemed suddenly tired, a look of concern on the changeling's face, but AJ was already seated by the time she could have done something. “You, erm, you look like you've seen better days. I guess that's motherhood for you. Though you seem happy, and that's probably most important. Drinks...maybe I should be getting those. Give you a moment to rest. Otherwise, I'm not picky. Anything you were thinking of having?”
  8. Naj jumped a bit at the sudden voice to her side, having been expecting the door in front of her to open rather than having someone approach her from another angle. Whether from self-control or some sort of exhaustion, her reaction was fairly muted. “Ahh! Hello! Good to see you too, it's been a bit hasn't it?” The changeling grins at first, though her face falls a bit at the topic of the wedding invitation. She didn't really want to talk about it, but it was kind of the entire reason she was here. So, while there was some hesitation, it wasn't long before she pushed forward to a reply. “...No, I got it. I just...wasn't able to make it in time for the wedding itself. Sorry.” She reaches behind her for a moment, and retrieves the package she'd been carrying, and holds it out in front of her. “I, um, I heard it was customary to bring gifts. I wasn't sure what, so I played it safe and brought pasty. Pumpkin pie, I figured anything remotely apple related wouldn't remotely compare to what you already make here.” She falters a little, adding, “I hope it's acceptable.”
  9. Naj arrived in Ponyville, feeling somewhat anxious. The place was an old home of hers, and it had never really lost those positive connotations. It was her situation, on the other hoof, that was weighing on her nerves. Simply put, she was late. Very late. Days late. Or so she believed. That was the other part of her anxiety: her recent schedule had left her a bit of a mess, and while she'd known there was an important event she was supposed to come down here for, she'd forgotten exactly when that was. As the train pulled into the station, she pushed down her anxiety and gathered her things. She knew Applejack didn't appreciate her being in disguise, even if other ponies often seemed to prefer it that way and even if she wasn't doing it so much to hide so much as to 'put on a friendly face'. And so, while it wasn't doing any good for her nerves she was going without, at least for this trip. Things were getting easier for changelings from what she could tell, but it would be a while before she could kick that particular habit. Naj's bag, now thrown over the changeling's back, was filled more than usual. She wasn't sure how long she'd be here, and there were a couple things she didn't quite want leave alone if she was going to be out for a few days, so she brought them with her. She was wearing fairly heavy clothing. She could handle the cold, but she wasn't particularly suited for it. Secretly though, she was also hoping it would add a bit of a barrier between anyone who sees her without outright hiding her appearance. Finally, she had a well wrapped package with her, mostly to prevent damage, which she picked up last. She took one last look around the room, making sure she'd left nothing behind, before making her way off the train. Naj was familiar with Ponyville, so she didn't spend any time sightseeing, or needing to spend any time finding her way through the town, so it didn't take her any particular length of time to get from the train station to her destination. Or at least, it didn't take any extra time until she reached the orchard itself. There she hesitated. She was a little nervous coming here, having missed an important opportunity before. But hesitation was unbecoming of a soldier, and in this case only delayed the inevitable. She stepped in, moving up to the farmhouse, before knocking on the door.
  10. Naj's emotional reading was never one of her well developed skills. Her focus had been on other areas, and in her various roles focusing on her opponent's emotions would be as much a distraction as an asset. Despite that, even she could tell that AJ was uncomfortable being this close to a changeling, or at least a traditional one. Which is why, a moment after the kiss, Naj slowly broke out into a smile. Either the farmpony had become so comfortable with her that she could do this anyways, or AJ thought highly enough of her to be willing to push through that. It still took her a while to reply though. She nodded after a moment. “W-well, I was planning to be in town for a few days at least. My time off is, um, non-negotiable they told me. So you'll be seeing me around for at least a few days. Probably. So, er, yes. I'll see you around. Though I'm not sure when I'll get back to looking for a place. Thanks for the apples!” With a bit of effort Naj hefted the bushel, and started to walk away.
  11. Naj stares at the bushel for a time, until Applejack's question snaps her attention back to the farmpony. The changeling blinks at the question, needing a moment to remember. When she finally does, she replies, “...Oh, yeah. Yeah I was looking for a place to stay. I, um, I guess that was interrupted. I couldn't exactly have worked on it while...while out in the field.” Her bits she was able to keep track of easily enough, and so five were deposited on the counter in short order. She also pulled the bushel a little closer, though that was more symbolic than anything, she wouldn't really be carrying them until she was ready to walk away. The kiss...that still made her hesitate. Applejack is, or at least used to be, one of the creatures she feared most. There might have been meaner creatures, or more imposing creatures, but none of them were so close, or so opposed to what she'd thought a changeling was or would need to survive. Eventually they grew a little more comfortable with each other, but Naj still had a lot of respect for the mare, and tended to keep a healthy distance. On the other hoof, by the same token she'd probably never get another chance like this. Even if it wasn't something Naj might have ever sought before, she would be loath to pass it up as an experience. She nods in reply. “Y-yes, let's do it.”
  12. Honestly, it didn't really surprise Naj that lots of ponies would want to kiss Applejack. She was athletic, respected, successful, confident, honest...her positive qualities, particularly those relative to a prospective partner, made up a long list. Though, she wasn't sure if she should bring that up. Ponies often found that an awkward topic at the best of times, and while Naj was perhaps more comfortable around the farmpony than she used to be that still didn't seem wise. “Uhh, busy. I'm...I'm surviving,” the changeling replied, on the question of how she'd been, as she started to get out the bits. “A mission went long, and also went sideways.” A part of her wondered how much of this she should be talking about openly, but if nothing else she knew she could trust AJ, and then her at least working with the REA was probably common knowledge. “It was...it was...months?...before we were able to make it back. Got put on forced leave, came back here.” As she set the bits down, she blinked and her motions slowed as realization finally hit. “Uhh, a kiss?” Unsure what else to do, she waited to see what AJ would do next.
  13. Naj took a few moments to realize that she was next in line. She stumbled upright, although once in motion it was easy enough to continue on until she arrived at the stall. Naj was silent in front of the stall, and the orange mare operating it. In retrospect it was obvious, and she'd be embarrassed embarrassed to have struggled with it for as long as she did. But at the time, she was still getting used to normal things. Of course it was apples, that would only make sense when everything was considered. "I'll take...one bushel?" she ventured after a moment. That seemed right. She hoped it was right. Apples were good, they had a nice flavor even if they wouldn't be fully nourishing for her.
  14. Ponyville. Naj wasn't sure why, but she always seemed to gravitate toward coming here, ever since that fateful day all those...well, her sense of time was one of the things she was hoping to get back soon. That first time she knew exactly why she'd ended up here, it was just the right mix of dangerous and unimportant to someone in her position at the time that it was a place she could stay where no one who might recognize her would find her. Or so she'd thought, at least. The other visits though, she couldn't fully account for. There had been an individual reason for each, but the general trend remained unexplained. As she waited in line, she idly wondered if it was just another manifestation of Ponyville's oddness. The town seemed to be a magnet for odd things, maybe she was just another example of that. The line. It wasn't a very big line, and truth be told Naj wasn't entirely sure what she was in line for, though she was conscious enough to pick up that it had something to do with apples, and therefor naturally the mare who sold them. The changeling knew that apples wouldn't really be something she needed right now, but they could make for a nice treat all the same. And the line, the line made for a sort of order and social interaction. She'd been told it would be good for her to mingle, to help the readjustment process. She'd...struggled with that suggestion though. The line had presented her a sort of compromise that she wouldn't pass up. She was there, she was participating, even if she wasn't really interacting yet. And so Naj waited, smiling contentedly, if a little vacantly. Though as a unicorn came back the other way, she noted with what wasn't quite a frown that there were only two other ponies left between the changeling and front end of the line.
  15. Let me take a shot at it. And I'll note I'm open to discussion on any of these ratings, as I'm still not entirely sure where the ends of the scale are. Detective Stalwart Tier 3 when going all out, due to some things they keep hidden, will typically behave as a tier 2. Intelligence: 5 Strength: 3 Speed: 3 Durability: 3 Energy Projection: 0 Fighting Skills: 5 Bulwark Tier 4, though limited enough in scope to function as tier 3 at times. Intelligence: 4 Strength: 6 Speed: 2 Durability: 6 Energy Projection: 4 Fighting Skills: 5 BROODMARE Tier 3 when she's limited to her pony-form chassis, tier 4 when she has access to systems or materials to work with. Intelligence: 6 Strength: 4 Speed: 3 Durability: 5 Energy Projection: 4 Fighting Skills: 5 Pursuer Tier 4 Intelligence: 7 Strength: 4 Speed: 3 Durability: 4 Energy Projection: 6 Fighting Skills: 5
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