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Changing Lanes 38: Detonation

By AutoPony
Created: 18th December 2020 10:55:27 AM

  1. >"Your Highness,  a visitor seeks an audience with you."
  2. >You sit upright in your throne, the boredom and lack of activity in the last hour nearly putting you to sleep.
  3. "Thank you. Send them in."
  4. >The guards on either side of the massive double doors pull them open, and a familiar face struts through.
  5. "Anonymous? Guards, do you honestly not recognize who-"
  6. >"It's fine Luna, I told them to be professional about it. I figured you were bored and needed some excitement."
  7. >You stretch as Anonymous makes his way to you, your back popping loud enough to create an echo.
  8. >Sliding over in your throne, Anon has just enough room to sit next to you, which he does.
  9. "So what have you been up to this fine day?"
  10. >He reaches up and scratches your ear, as you can't help but lean into his hand.
  11. >"Not much really. Buried in the library."
  12. "Again? Twilight Sparkle has really rubbed off on you. I suppose the next step is besting her longest reading binge."
  13. >"I can't imagine how long that would be, as I've seen her spend a whole afternoon with her head buried in a book, not moving an inch. It's a little eerie, honestly."
  14. >You chuckle, resting your weight against him as he leans back in the throne.
  15. "From what I recall my sister telling me, Twilight once spent three days straight in the library."
  16. >"As in, afternoons?"
  17. "No, I mean seventy-two hours straight."
  18. >"Wow."
  19. "Yes. I don't know how she does it. Just sitting here for four hours has me feeling stiff."
  20. >Anonymous turns his body, looking at the throne itself.
  21. >"Obviously it's time to upgrade to a lazy boy recliner like mine."
  22. >You can't help but giggle at the mental picture.
  23. "I don't believe that could be even remotely considered professional and proper, Anon. However, it would be a welcome change."
  24. >The quiet conversation is interrupted by the echoing bong of the large clock outside the throne room.
  25. >You rise to your hooves, Anon doing likewise.
  26. "With as uneventful as this day has been, I am surprised it is already five o'clock."
  27. >"I could tell it was almost five. I'm starving."
  28. >The two of you make your way out of the throne room and to the dining room, making small talk along the way.
  29. >Celestia is already seated at the table to greet you when both of you arrive.
  30. >"Hello you two. I assume you're as hungry as I am?"
  31. "I don't think that's possible sister."
  32. >Tia sticks her tongue out at you, making you giggle.
  33. >"Wow, we just arrived and already shots fired. Impressive, Luna."
  34. >You and Anon take seats next to Celestia.
  35. "It comes natural when you've lived with her as long as I."
  36. >"Am I too late for dinner?"
  37. >Twilight Sparkle trots into the room from where you just entered.
  38. "Twilight, what a pleasant surprise. It is as if you heard Anon and I talking about you."
  39. >She stops, perplexed.
  40. >"Me? What did I do?"
  41. >"A three day reading marathon, apparently."
  42. >Twilight takes a seat across from you, seeming to go through her mind for the memory.
  43. >Meanwhile, your sister is unable to contain a minor fit of laughter.
  44. >"Oh, I had forgotten about that. The day I introduced her to the Daring Do series of books, she couldn't help to read them all in one go."
  45. >Twilight perks up.
  46. >"I remember that now! The first book was just so good, there was no way I was going to wait to read the next one!"
  47. >"And the one after that, and so on. From what I recall, those three days were followed by a whole day of sleep."
  48. >Twilight blushes.
  49. >"You complain about me getting too much sleep, and you slept for a whole day? I don't want to hear any more criticisms about my sleeping habits, Twily."
  50. >"Oh hush, Anon. It was only once. You oversleep every day."
  51. >Anon turns to you, as if requesting backup.
  52. "It's true, I practically have to drag you out of bed every morning."
  53. >He crosses his arms, acting frustrated.
  54. >"I'll remember that next time you want me to defend you."
  55. >Everypony in the room gets a good chuckle, as a few servants enter the room hovering dishes in front of them.
  56. >While Celestia gets a vegetable medley stir-fry and you get a fresh vineyard salad, Anon has gone wild with the meat, his plate dominated by a thick steak, amidst a sea of garlic shrimp.
  57. >It took quite a bit of reassurance that neither you or your sister were bothered by his normal diet before he finally gave in and began eating what he really craved.
  58. >Not a minute passes before another servant arrives, placing a nice garden salad in front of Twilight.
  59. >Nopony hesitates to dig in, the dining room devoid of conversation for some time.
  60. "So Twilight, what does bring you to Canterlot this time of the day?"
  61. >"Anon sent a letter to me a few days ago. He said the two of you have been having some difficulty talking to the changeling you've apparently caught?"
  62. >You glance to your left at Anonymous, who grins sheepishly.
  63. >Despite his protests, you have been hesitant to allow him to accompany you to the dungeon.
  64. >Not necessarily because of danger, but because you fear he may be unable to control his emotions.
  65. "Did he now? I was not informed of this."
  66. >"I thought I said something to you about it. My bad, Luna."
  67. >You sigh, turning your attention back to the purple alicorn across the table.
  68. "To tell the truth Twilight, it has not been going well at this time. In addition to a lack of information about Chrysalis's whereabouts and intentions, very little progress has been made in regards to identifying changelings masquerading as common ponies."
  69. >"Well, I've been reading up on some law and psychology books the past couple days, maybe I can help?"
  70. "I suppose I am running out of ideas, perhaps a fresh mind can come up with something."
  71. >"And maybe you can give me a crack at it too, Luna. Like you promised?"
  72. "Anonymous, please. It is for your own safety."
  73. >He leans back in his chair, studying you.
  74. >"Luna, what's the real reason you won't let me down there?"
  75. >You scoff.
  76. "That is the real reason, Anon."
  77. >The room is silent, as you return to picking at your plate.
  78. >"Either I'm getting better at reading you, or you're turning into a really bad liar, Luna."
  79. >Anonymous folds his arms, as all eyes dart between him and you.
  80. >Seeing no way out of his condemning gaze, you relent.
  81. "Anon, do you recall what we discussed about your.... magic predicament?"
  82. >"You mean if I use magic, I risk frying myself?"
  83. "Yes. I don't intend to be rude, but I fear you may not be capable of keeping your emotions in check, and thus, your magic contained within."
  84. >Twilight interrupts before Anonymous can respond.
  85. >"Wait, hold on. Using magic can kill him? When did you find this out?!"
  86. >Celestia breaks her silence, giving you a chance to sip at your water.
  87. >"We aren't one hundred percent sure, Twilight. For right now, it's a theory based on what happened in your home during and directly following the exchange between Anon and Chrysalis."
  88. >"And with all due respect, Lulu, I'm willing to take the risk."
  89. >Nearly choking, you set down your water.
  90. "Anonym-"
  91. >Animated, he shakes his head, interrupting you.
  92. >"Luna, Chrysalis wants me. And she's not going to care who gets in her way. If it takes harming or killing someone, she nor her minions are going to hesitate. If that happens, that blood is on me. And I'm not going to live with that guilt my whole life."
  93. >He unfolds his arms.
  94. >"We haven't come up with anything useful in the months since the incident. I know I'm impatient at times, but the more we sit around with our thumbs... or hooves or whatever, up our asses, the more likely it is I'm going to wind up dead anyways."
  95. >You can't help but gasp at Anon's harsh tone.
  96. "Don't say that! You act as if there is no hope!"
  97. >He seems to ease off a bit.
  98. >"I'm sorry, but I've been quiet about how I feel about this for a while now. But no more, I'm getting more involved in ending this standoff with these creatures whether you like it or not, Luna."
  99. >His words seem to echo as if a gavel had been struck.
  100. >"So, tomorrow morning, maybe?"
  101. >Twilight's eyes nervously scan the room, as she flashes an uneasy grin.
  102.  
  103. >As a dramatic score builds up from the television, Anonymous jolts upright from your desk he was slouched upon.
  104. "Fall asleep?"
  105. >He turns to you, holding something in his hands.
  106. >"No, testing this thing. Definitely still works."
  107. >He displays it to you, the object looking like a collar, but with a curious small box attached to it.
  108. "Is it a collar, a necklace... what is that?"
  109. >He points at you.
  110. >"Collar. Shock collar, to be more precise. In my world, we used these to train dogs. When the dog wearing it does something wrong, like stray away from the property, this box will emit a small shock that startles the dog. I had a feeling I pack ratted it somewhere in my house from when I had a dog, Twilight found it for me."
  111. >You cringe as he describes how it works.
  112. "And your reason for testing that is...?"
  113. >"It's not going to hurt our little changeling friend, but it will shock the hell out of him. Or her, or it, whatever."
  114. >Motioning for him to join you on your bed, he sets the collar down on your desk and flops beside you.
  115. >His excitement for tomorrow morning is making you increasingly uneasy.
  116. "Anon, you aren't looking forward to this for the wrong reasons, are you?"
  117. >His eyes dart across the room, as if looking for the answer.
  118. >"I don't follow. Wrongs reasons as in, what?"
  119. "Revenge? Sadism?"
  120. >He seems genuinely hurt by your inquisition as he puts an arm around your neck.
  121. >"Lulu, I know you're worried about how I'm going to react during our little interrogation tomorrow, but I swear to you, this is purely to get what we need out of the prisoner, nothing more."
  122. >He stops for a moment, before pressing on.
  123. >"I suppose I didn't help matters regarding your apprehension with my little speech during dinner, did I?"
  124. >Anon his the proverbial nail on the head with that question.
  125. "No, you were a little... charged up."
  126. >"Well, it's just been festering in the back of my mind for a while now. I didn't mean for it to be that harsh. But you and Celly - hell, everyone - has done so much for me, caught me so many times when I tripped. I got us into this mess by being impatient and rushing into danger, I want to at least play a part in getting out of this shit."
  127. >You poke him playfully in the ribs with a hoof.
  128. "You seem to forget you've caught me a few times when I fell. I'd say we're already even."
  129. >"In that case, I want to get ahead of you."
  130. "You're just stubborn, is all."
  131. >He wraps his other arm around you, hugging you tight.
  132. >"I learned it from you."
  133. >You giggle, sharing a kiss with him, before your attention turns to the television.
  134. "So, what are we watching anyways?"
  135. >"Eh, various crime dramas. Figure I may as well get into the spirit of things, maybe I can pick up a thing or two from the questioning scenes."
  136. "Twilight, I can see her getting some useful insight after a reading marathon on psychology. This might be a stretch, Anon."
  137. >"Oh ye of little faith. You'll take that back when we find out where Chrysalis is tomorrow."
  138. "If you managed to do that, I'd have no choice but to knight you."
  139. >"Alright, I won't do that, then."
  140. >You turn out the light beside you, snuggling up to Anon as the next episode rolls on the TV.
  141.  
  142. >A loud clang echoes through the damp dungeon as Anonymous raps on the cell bars.
  143. >"Wake up, you slimy sack of shit!"
  144. >Startled awake, the changeling prisoner jumps to its hooves, head darting around before focusing on your group.
  145. >This is one of the few mornings Anon has woken you up, instead of what is normally the other way around.
  146. >You've relented, allowing Anon to head this interrogation session, which he was all too eager to accept.
  147. >Meanwhile, Twilight is confident in her research binge on psychology and methods of spotting 'tells,' as she called them.
  148. >Hopefully, any information you can get, she can confirm is the truth.
  149. >"What, cat got your tongue?"
  150. >You lean over to Anon.
  151. "It seems as though changelings in their normal form are unable to speak in our tongues. I have always had our prisoner shift into me to get it to talk."
  152. >Apparently it heard you, as the changeling's form begins to warp, before once again your duplicate is behind bars.
  153. >"Well, not impossible, but rather difficult. I see the princess brought her toy with her today."
  154. >You scowl, seeming only to give it more joy as it continues.
  155. >"Oh, and the purple runt is here. This is great, I was beginning to tire of seeing only this stick in the mud all the time."
  156. >"I suppose it's your lucky day then. Not only do you get new visitors, you get to see them out from behind bars."
  157. >As Anonymous taunts the creature, you use your magic to bind both its front hooves together with rope, as well as its hind legs.
  158. >You nod to Anon when you are satisfied, sliding open the wrought iron door.
  159. >Carefully, Anon pulls out the collar he was fiddling with last night, fastening it around the changeling's neck.
  160. >"And what exactly is this supposed to be?"
  161. >"We're going to play a fun little game. I'm going to ask some questions, and you're going to answer them. Depending on whether we like the answer, we will either move on, or that little collar is going to give you a nice jolt. Every wrong answer kicks up the jolt a bit, every right answer knocks it down a notch."
  162. >The creature smirks, as Anon pulls out a small remote.
  163. >"You're going to have to do better than that if you're going to psyche me out."
  164. >He presses a button, causing your twin to jump.
  165. >"Still think I'm joking? That was just the lightest setting. All set to play?"
  166. >The smirk on its face is gone, replaced by the slightest hint of worry.
  167. >"Let's start out slow here. I want to know, how high up on the chain of command are you in the grand scheme of things?"
  168. >A chuckle is the initial response received.
  169. >"I've already told your pretty princess friend there, I am just one of my mother's common drones. Nothing special, which is why I'm still here with you."
  170. >While Twilight shakes her head, signaling Anon it is lying, he presses on.
  171. >"I don't believe that for an instant. you see, if I was a queen trapped in an enemy's dungeon, I'd want only my best soldier behind enemy lines to save me. I want the cream of the crop, someone with experience. I'll give you a free retry, since we're just starting here."
  172. >It shrugs its shoulders.
  173. >"I don't know what you want me to tell you, then."
  174. >"Level one it is."
  175. >A few presses of the remote, and the changeling grits its teeth, sitting straight upright as it writhes in pain.
  176. >You can't help but feel a pang of sympathy, trying to imagine what that felt like.
  177. >The creature takes a deep breath as Anon relents.
  178. >"I'm... one of Mother's.... first."
  179. >All eyes turn to Twilight, who nods solemnly.
  180. >She seems taken aback by the display as well.
  181. >"Okay, we're getting somewhere. You're one of Chrysalis's first born, I take it?"
  182. >"Yes."
  183. >Anonymous paces the room, while you sit down to the left of the seated prisoner.
  184. >"I'd say that makes you pretty important. Important enough to not leave behind, at least not forever. So how many changelings have we got in the castle waiting to rescue you?"
  185. >"I don't know. Maybe none, maybe a hundred."
  186. "Lies, you know if there is other changelings in our midst. You said so yourself, you have telepathy."
  187. >Anonymous stops his pacing, his interest piqued.
  188. >"Telepathy? When did you find this out?"
  189. >Before you can reply, your duplicate interrupts.
  190. >"The gift only shared between Mother and child. We do not share the gift amongst ourselves."
  191. >"It's telling the truth, Anon."
  192. >Anon points to Twilight.
  193. >"Be glad I brought this purple runt with me, I was getting ready for level two of this thing."
  194. >"Hey!"
  195. >"No offense, Twily. Just using its own words."
  196. >Pressing on, Anon once again begins pacing the cell, the creature beginning to look more and more shaken.
  197. >While you are impressed the method seems to be getting results, you still find the charade rather sickening to watch.
  198. [Anon, I think you are enjoying this too much.]
  199. >His eyes focus on you.
  200. >[Relax, Moonbutt. It's all part of rattling this thing's composure, nothing more.]
  201. >For now, you relent, allowing him to continue.
  202. >"Why don't we move on to the main event here, what does Chrysalis want with me. From what I understand, you've told Luna here I am not wanted dead, but alive. Why is that?"
  203. >"Mother's plans are only revealed to us when we play a part in them. Otherwise, you know as much as we do."
  204. >Once again, Twilight shakes her head no, and Anon presses the remote.
  205. >An unsettling hiss erupts from the prisoner as a charge of energy courses through its body.
  206. >"Nope, we don't like that answer. Care to try that one again, or do you want level two?"
  207. >"I'm telling you the truth! That purple one is just a sadistic little wench!"
  208. >"Level two!"
  209. >Your duplicate shrieks in agony, thrashing about as it falls to the floor.
  210. >The cries seem to echo endlessly, long after the the creature quiets down.
  211. >"That looked like it hurt a bit more. I'll give you a sec to catch your breath."
  212. >It feels like an eternity before the thing is able to speak.
  213. >"Mother has found very few foes that can stand up to her. Mother was under the impression you did not possess magic, but her metting with you proved that wrong."
  214. >Your twin rises to its hooves, still a bit wobbly.
  215. >"Mother desires your power for herself."
  216. >An uneasy silence settles upon the cell.
  217. >You don't understand how Chrysalis thinks she can harness that power for herself.
  218. >Nor do you want to know, for that matter.
  219. >"See? This can be very easy and painless if you just answer correctly the first time."
  220. >"You will not be laughing after Mother has her way with you."
  221. >anon rolls his eyes, as the fake Luna scowls.
  222. >"I think you're getting ahead of yourself here. But while we're on that subject, where is mommy dearest?"
  223. >The question incites a bout of laughter from the weary prisoner.
  224. >"You really think I will tell you where the hive is located? You think I would betray my own kind?"
  225. >"Okay, we'll start on level two this time."
  226. >You cringe and turn away as the creature screams again.
  227. [Anonymous, maybe we need to take a break.]
  228. >[We're on a roll. We need to press on, Lulu.]
  229. >"Now, try again. I can do this all day, and I still have three more levels on this baby to play with."
  230. >"Go... to... Tartarus.."
  231. >"Cool. Level three!"
  232. >The howls only get louder as the energy increases, the changeling flailing about.
  233. >You spot something that makes your blood run cold.
  234. "Anon, stop!"
  235. >He looks over at you confused, letting go of the button on the remote.
  236. >With a surge of adrenaline, the creature growls, noticing the loosened bindings on its forehooves.
  237. >You try to jump in front of it, but the changeling is quicker, leaping at Anonymous and landing a forehoof across his head, knocking him to the floor.
  238. "Twilight, help me!"
  239. >Before it can take another lunge at Anon, you and Twilight manage to hold the thing back, as you use a bast of magic to subdue the raging beast.
  240. >It falls to the floor, knocked unconscious.
  241. "Dammit, Anon! When I say we need to take a break, we take a break from now on, do you understand?"
  242. >You turn around to him, where he still remains on the floor.
  243. "Anon, are you alright?"
  244. >Your heart rate begins to quicken as you gingerly roll him over.
  245. >An ugly bruise begins to form on the left side of his head, as he lays unconscious.
  246. "Anon, we need to get going!"
  247. >Carefully pulling an eyelid up with your magic, his pupil nearly takes up his whole eye.
  248. "TIA!!"
  249.  
  250. >The doctors surround Anonymous in a flurry of activity as You and Celestia arrive at the hospital in a flash.
  251. >Numerous tubes and devices are connected up to him, as you try to understand what is going on.
  252. >"Sister, what happened?"
  253. "I don't know! Somehow the thing's bindings got loose, and it just- "
  254. >"I don't have anything over here!"
  255. >The pace of a few doctors quickens, as one attaches something that looks like a bag over Anon's face, pumping it rhythmically.
  256. >What the hay are they doing?
  257. "Sister, I must admit, I didn't pay attention in health or anatomy in school, what - "
  258. >"Still nothing!"
  259. >None of this makes sense!
  260. >He took a blow to the head, clearly it's a concussion.
  261. >A few doctors walk away, as the feverish movement in the room slows down.
  262. "Where are you going?! As your princess, I demand that you return at once!"
  263. >"Luna-"
  264. "We both demand your undivided care upon Anonymous!"
  265. >"Luna-"
  266. "Hush sister!"
  267. >Everypony seems to ignore you as they slowly shuffle past, leaving a ragtag group in the room.
  268. >You can't keep your composure any longer as you raise your voice ever louder.
  269. "Why aren't any of you doing anything?!"
  270. >The head doctor looks over at you, his gaze one of empathy and fatigue.
  271. >"I'm sorry."
  272. >You suddenly feel extremely ill as your knees become weak.
  273. "No. Nonono. NonoNONO! NO! NO!"
  274. >You feel something catch you as you lose all control.
  275. >"Time of death..."
  276.  
  277.  
  278.  
  279.  
  280. [Originally posted 11 November 2015]
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