• Published 23rd Aug 2016
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The Pony Dreadfuls - No one is home

A series of stories about ponies. Dreadful in both subject and quality. Enjoy :)

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Chapter 26 - Deals in the Dark

“Welcome, Prince Moonbeam!” An grinning changeling with a cyan mane, wearing a bright purple zoot suit strode from the shadows. “By all means let’s talk. We have SO much to discuss. Night Shift dear, I do believe you're standing on the poor colt’s parent’s graves. Be a good little filly and scuttle five feet to the left.”

The bloated mutant rolled her eyes, but quickly complied. Z quickly regained her composure, reassuming her more familiar ‘normal changeling’ form and glared silently at the newcomer.

“Let’s start with what exactly does the royal family have to do with the abduction and subversion of my daughters?” The stallion smiled poisonously.

Moonbeam's hooves twitched a little, swaying with the motion of his wings that kept him aloft. "I have no idea? Who are your fillies?" He was in far over his head. A little information gathering, sure, that'd help.

“Well, you seem quite familiar with my little Dragonfly. Her sisters prefer to call her by her codename, ‘Swing Shift’.” The stallion spoke in measured tones. “And you’ve obvious met little Switch Shift…”

“Z’s name is Z-978! It is a good name that she named herself!” Z’s wings flared in agitation.

“She’s obviously at that rebellious age were changeling fillies pretend to be adults and give themselves silly little nicknames.” The stallion drolled in condescending tones, rolling his eyes. “I believe you’ve been referring to my other daughter as ‘Diane’ in fact. And you’ve met much of the rest of my brood. The others are around here somewhere I’m sure. Mischievous little scamps, the lot of them.”

Moonbeam gave a little nod. "Good folk." Sure… "Me and Diane, well, she kinda started it, but I continued it, right? We get along just fine." He glanced away a moment. "Is that a problem, uh, dad?"

“Oh please call me Iam,” the changeling said with a warm smile, “and I see nothing amiss with young love. It’s not like you’ve inducted an underage changeling into your herd and had a hybrid child with her.” The stallion gave Z a reproachful look. “There’s been some confusion I think on who the villain really is here, thanks in no part to the frankly criminal actions of some of my former employees.”

“Don’t trust him, Moon!” Rock steady blurted out. “He’s the changeling who led that damned circus!”

“Yes, of course, the former employees I was refering to.” Iam nodded absently. “Ba’al Zebul,I believe abducted a young griffin as a hostage in a stand-off with some local fortune teller, a goat I believe it was. And Franklin… well his smallest crime was poisoning all my poor guests. I was somehow implicated and was forced to fend off a mob of vigilantes led by my own daughter. It was terrible misunderstanding, one I nearly didn’t survive.”

"Sucks," spoke Moon eloquently. "I know that rag. Some ponies still blame me for taking their money with that whole thing." He wobbled a hoof. "So, uh, why are you keeping Diane away from everyone? We got school to get to, ya know?" Play it cool. Keep it chill…

“Try to see things from my perspective.” The Nopony kept smiling. “My brood was supposed to have rejoined my hive in Filly years ago. The plan had been to smuggle them away from the Bitch Queen during the whole invasion fiasco. We were forced to set up the traveling circus to try and find out why they never made it. Imagine my surprise to find that they had been abducted into a foreign hive and left in the care of a disreputable beast, who has obviously already taken advantage of poor Switch Shift, and clearly turned Dragonfly completely against me. She honestly believes that I’m some boogie-pony come to life from the nightmare of a dead human. Has she told you that story yet?”

Moon tilted his head. Whether he had or not, it was not the time to go talking about that. "I wouldn't worry about it too hard, but she has a school and friends and stuff, nothin' to do with no hives, promise. Hey, we should totally meet up, ya know, regular like. Maybe get somethin' to eat, or watch a show, family stuff."

“Clever little colt, I can see why Dragonfly fancies you, but you can obviously see why I can’t just send her back to the hive of the so-called Princess Fast Change. And as clever as you are, we both know, prince or not, you have no authority to negotiate parental custody.” Iam rolled his hoof and winked at the lunar. “Now if only you were in some way able to relay a message to somepony in the castle who might have more said authority. I think any adult member of the royal family could help us clear away this misunderstanding.”

Z shuffled in place, suddenly unsure. Much of what the changeling said she knew was the truth, but she also knew this was the Nopony her sister only spoke of in fearful whispers. Rock Steady watched cautiously, sending a questioning look to Moonbeam, who had obviously become the group’s defacto leader.

He rolled a hoof in the air. "Sure sure, I can totally do that, but it won't look good if we're in an awkward spot while we do it. Let her do her thing while the adults argue about it. It ain't like she's going anywhere, right?"

“You say that easily enough.” The changeling’s voice hardened. “But what guarantees do I have? The word of her school-yard crush? I’ve been completely reasonable, and I will continue to be. Allow me to be more direct, I’m speaking to the parent and or guardian of the young lunar prince. I know you’re listening, unless you allow juvenile members of the royal family to wander around graveyards unattended. I have no intention of negotiating from any position of weakness, and I have no intention of returning any of my brood to the custody of Train Wreck Pastel or Princess Fast Change. We negotiate here and now, or I take my brood and I leave. Your guards have been searching for me for months. This meeting is happening because I wanted it.”

"On the contrary," came a new voice. A unicorn tossed a tied figure into a small closet space that seemed to be part of that particular grave. "I often go to a grave for confusing thoughts." Samantha smiled at the one that had summoned her. "You're a curious one. I hope you don't mind me getting rid of some of the others. It's rude to not have a one on one. Moon? Shoo."

"Yes'm!" He flew away with all the speed in him. He knew when his mom used her serious tone.

“I trust you haven’t harmed them, they are you understand, only fillies.” The stallion smiled coldly. “You must be Samantha, if my intelligence is to be trusted the adopted daughter of Princess Luna herself. I am Iam Selahc Noone. Patriarch of what I affectionately like to call The Shadow Hive. Pretentious, perhaps, but I like the way it rolls off the tongue.”

Rock looked uncertain for a moment, but then hurried off behind his friend and rival. Z-978 sulked silently, glowering at the two adults as they prepared to debate her fate. Her beliefs had been shaken to their core, and she found herself suddenly separated from everypony she would normally lean on for support, and had been simultaneously lowered in status from peer to foal to the familiar unicorn.

"That wouldn't be logical. They haven't harmed anyone." Her horn glowed as a small cloud of darts hovered about her. "Besides, I learned my lesson. Dosage is very important in my patients, and I don't intend a repeat performance." She lifted a hoof at Iam. "I'm afraid I lack documentation on the 'Shadow Hive', but I am given to understand you are having a dispute concerning the parental authority of one 'Diane'?"

“Her given name is ‘Dragonfly’. I’m afraid her mother is undergoing… shall we say rehabilitation in your castle. Poor Butterfly has always had a certain addictive personality. I’m afraid her association With Franklin Nathaniel Stein only exacerbated the problem. But yes.” Iam Noone nodded grimly, “I also would like to lodge a complaint against one Train Wreck Pastel, who has taken advantage of another member of my brood, Switch Shift, I believe you know her as ‘Z-978’ and actually fathered a larvae with her. Despite her appearance, I can assure you she is no older than your own son, and the oldest of my brood by mere hours. In addition, all of this happened under the direct supervision of your ‘Princess’ Fast Change, with her tacit approval in her own hive.”

"Serious accusations." She nodded. "It will need to be routed through the proper authorities." She looked distant for just half a moment. "Are you available tomorrow at precisely two o'clock? I can arrange a court date to settle these affairs in a complete fashion that should satisfy your need for justice and see that all issues are brought to light." It seemed perfectly reasonable to her at least.

“Of course!” Iam smiled brightly. “As a token of goodwill, I will even release both Dragonfly and Switch Shift into royal custody.” The changeling raised one eyebrow. “On the obvious stipulation that they are to have no contact with Fast Change, Train Wreck Pastel, or any member of his herd, of course. I have no other wish than to put this whole dirty business behind us, and reunite my family.”

"Of course. That will remain true until this matter is handled properly." She nodded firmly. "We have an agreement." The dart cloud about her bristled softly. "There is only one thing remaining. You threatened my son. While it was subtle, I am not entirely untrained in the art of social cues." One could thank one of her adoptive mothers. "That must be settled now, separate of the rest."

“My brood can be rambunctious, Miss… Watch is it?” Iam grinned broadly. “Children at play. I did not involve your son in this, but if you must insist on fun, one parent to another… consenting adults as they say… Blue, Red! Meet the Doppler twins.”

A pair of fly faced changelings, color coded by name stepped from the shadows, escorting a sad and desperate looking Diane between them. The Nopony continued, “They will escort Switch Shift and Dragonfly to the castle on your authority while we settle this imagined slight.”

Samantha gave a faint nod towards them, her eyes largely on the one that had inspired her ire. "Our agreement is still in effect. Now, you could remain still and allow me to properly measure this dosage. I wouldn't want to harm a pony." But would she feel that bad? She doesn't sound like concern is dripping too heavily from her lips.

“Oh by all means, Miss Watch. I’m never one to pass on a dose!” Iam flashed his greaziest smile, all pretense past, quivering in anticipation.

The cloud was gone, shards flying out in several angry swarms of bees under the gentle grip of her magic. Only the faint glint might reveal, if one were staring at her instead of the darts, that more lurked in her pelt.

One gathering seemed far faster than the others, rushing at Iam directly, but Samantha had no delusion that the first attack would hit. Other waves were coming, separated and timed to play havoc should her victim dodge or jerk out of the way. "I mean you no harm," she said in a placid way. "You could teach me so much."

Iam stood fast, receiving the flurry of stings with a quiver of pure exstacy. He stood for only a moment, a sickly smile engulfing his face before he shimmered out of existence in a burst of static born of no known magic. Reappearing at Samantha’s flank he stroked her mane intimately. “You are a true professional, my dear. Tell me… was that an offer or just a clever quip? Because I have SO much to show you.”

She drove down a forehoof on the ground, propelling herself forward even as the silvery hints of darts exploding free of her pelt, scattering over Iam like a grenade set loose all too close. "A delayed reaction? I fear I may overdose…" Each little prick carried an unfortunate amount of depressive drugs, seeking to drag their victim down with the very power of science, or at least chemistry. "Father and mothers will be upset with me."

“Daddy doesn’t have to know.” Iam’s smile became liquid as he staggered in a happy daze. “It’s been awhile since I was the one being roofied. Are you going to tie me up? I have to admit, I didn’t see see tonight going this well! An overdose even! Tell me it won’t spoil the date if I vomit, because it’s really not my fault. You chose the dose. You’re the professional here after all.”

Scientific questions are met with answers. Samantha doesn't seem to quite grasp the uneasy behavior of her foe. "It would be prudent to secure you. Rope is the most expedient. If you experience emesis, I will ensure your throat remains unobjected." Her magic refocused in a wide fan, creating a dome over herself. "I believe you've been drugged sufficiently." It seemed she was willing to wait for the collapse to occur.

Iam flickered, appearing again inside Samantha’s shield to lay a foreleg over her withers. “Yeah, your right. We’ve had good fun for one night. I should probably sleep it off. Tomorrow at two… ish? I may oversleep, you understand why, of course.” He winked clumsily.

"You are a very agreeable subject." She bobbed her head even as she backed away from the blinking pony. "You are also alarmingly skilled at teleportation. I will have to research counters to that method. Next time."

“The offer stands,” Iam took one last stumble backwards, “I have SO much to show you. Heh, teleportation. That’s so adorable. I like you.”

The Nopony flickered and ceased to exist.

Samantha frowned a little. "That does not compute."

Does it have to?

Samantha blinked at the floating letters. Silver had mentioned them before. "You are the Text."

I am.

"I was not aware you could appear to non-humans."

And you are not? Precious little hybrid. Your heritage is not forgotten

Samantha perked an ear. "Are you here to offer me a path?"

You've been listening to your 'father'. Yes, I am. Does that bother you?

"No." Samantha sat, peering at the words that floated there. "I don't like that he escaped. I feel he is a threat to my child."

Without a doubt.

"I want to stop him."

Many others have wanted to. Are you willing to pay the fee?

Samantha tilted her head one way then the other. "Is this like the card?"

Yes. Speaking with you has a refreshing bluntness to it.

Samantha reached out a hoof. "Then I agree. Give me my card."

I had not intended on that being literal, but let it be so.

The words collapsed on themselves, congealing to a thick tarot card that fell into Samantha's outstretched hoof. She looked over it curiously before she turned it over, daring to see and face fate.

Author's Note:

Part two of the super-fun collab project! :pinkiehappy: David brought in his own twist at the end, and now the cards have been dealt and it Samantha has the Nopony in her crosshairs. :pinkiecrazy: Which means there's a rematch aaaaand another inevitable collab at some point. :pinkiegasp:

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