• 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 9 - House of Lies

“Watch yourself Picture, this isn’t The Belfry. These ponies aren’t here to be understood.” Orange Pip’s eyes narrowed as they moved through the smokey bar.

“Orange Pip,” a course earth pony snarled as he moved to intercept the couple, “I thought you were cleaning up you act? You slummin’ it, or just showing that pretty little ray of sunshine how ponies have fun in the barrows?”

“‘Ey, Pip!” A lascivious mare grinned at the stallion. “Got yourself a proper lady, ‘eh? You don’t actually think she can satisfy your appetites? You know you need somepony more… flexible?”

The mare shifted in a flash of unseen green flames, becoming first a griffon, and then a manticore. “I knew you’d be back. Hope your daddy doesn’t get word of this, it’d be a shame for him to cut you off… again…”

Pip scowled as he pushed past the mare and towards the bar. “Box Cutter. I’m here to see Anypony.”

“I’m sure you are,” a scar-faced lunar bartender laughed cruelly, “What makes you think she wants to see you?”

“Trust me, she’s gonna want to see what I have to show her,” Orange Pip hissed, “Come on, you’ve had your fun.”

“Oh we haven’t had near the fun you’ve brought through the door,” the first stallion said menacingly as he came up from behind them, “I ain't never tried a trick with a noble-whore… not one who walked straight through the door at any rate.”

The stallion grinned as he slapped Picture Perfect's flank casually. There was a blur of movement, and a changeling stallion was laying on the floor, unconscious with a thin stream of blood running from his mouth.

“Hooves off the lady, she’s with me.” The earth pony's voice was cold and analytical as he took in his surroundings.

Throughout the bar, one by one each pony dissolved into flashes of changeling magic. Two large changeling stallions took point and advanced on the couple. “Why did you have to go and lay hooves on Sleazy, Pip?” The largest stallion scowled at the smaller earth pony. “Did you really think you could just walk in here after all this time with some upper crusty cunt of a mare and demand to see the Madame like that? Then you gonna put my brother on the floor? You’ve got nerve.”

“Don’t make me make you stand down Toad,” Pip snarled in reply, “You’re talking smack because I’m letting you, and you know it.”

“You’ve really got it bad, don’t you deary?” A sultry voice floated down from the ceiling. “Too bad I can’t feed off that, but then again, your little snack is radiating just the sweetest affection. The fear makes a nice seasoning.”

Instantly the glamour was dispelled and the shadows fled the ceiling, revealing a fat bodied chitinous… creature. It’s forebody was clearly a changeling mare, holes proudly displayed without shame. All resemblance to any normal changeling, however disappeared at the barrel which continued into a bloated abdomen. The thing clung to the ceiling by four chitinous insectile hind legs surrounded by hanging pods some empty others revealing equine shadows that hinted at their foul contents.

“Madame Anypony,” Pip acknowledged the creature with stern courtesy, “I have news about your sister.”

“Oh please darling,” the thing replied as it descended on a thin rope of organic silk, “There’s no need to be so formal, call me Night Shift. And I certainly hope you’re not just here to tell me news you know I’ve already heard. Poor Day Shift, we was always a sweet little thing. It pains me, but what can be done? She was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“I have reason to believe that your sister was the actual target of the assassination. It was the Minotaur who was in the wrong place, Pic, dear, could you bring out the picture?” Pip nodded to his marefriend.

“Madame, my special talent is reproducing any scene, with more detail than any camera.” Picture Perfect fought to keep the fear out of her voice. Pip had warned her they were going to a changeling bar, but things had escalated all too quickly. And too many questions had been raised that would demand answers, but she knew this wasn’t the time. “If you pay attention to the victim's fetlocks and her horn you’ll notice very specific scarring.”

The paper was snatched from Pic’s magic grip with a magic of surprising strength and ferocity. As the creature called Night Shift focused, two additional eyes opened to her forehead. “What is the meaning of this?!?!”

“We believe the victim was restrained for an extended period of time before her murder.” Picture Perfect swallowed hard at the monster’s scrutiny. “The scars indicate that she was kept in both chains and a horn blocker, both of which were tight enough to scar the chitin. The scrapes along her fetlocks indicate that she had probably pulled free of her manacles forcefully, probably around a week and a half prior to her murder.”

“I see, little pony.” Night Shift glared at the mare before focuses her gaze on Pip. “And what makes you think my sister was the target?”

“The… brutality of the crime for one thing,” Pip explained cautiously, “Day Shift was beaten to death with the remains of an improvised human firearm. That’s a very personal means to silence a witness who already wouldn't have dared to come forward. I’m more concerned by the lack of defensive wounds. She was a gentle soul, but I have a hard time seeing one of… any changeling standing by while they were beat to death with a blunt object.”

“I agree,” Night Shift nodded thoughtfully, “We are a resilient species. Day Shift never hurt any living creature. When Alias went berserk, she ran. I’ve been searching for her ever since. You will find who did this.”

It was neither a question nor a request. Pip nodded in reply. “I believe the key lies in finding the maker of the murder weapon. I suspect a human, or at least a former human, to be the source. If you have any information about any human who might deal in such things…”

“There are rumors.” The changeling-thing spoke in slow measured tones. “When the monster prince banished the Nopony and the ponies locked up Madame Butterfly they created a vacuum, and as much as nature hates a vacuum, power hates it more. There is word of a human. No one knows his name. He is anonymous, but his reputation spreads quickly. Canterlot, Manehatten, Vanhoover. One day you hear a rumor from one city, the next from another. He is a shadow cast by a dozen candles,”

“And you’re sure it’s not a new incarnation of…” Pip began, only to be interrupted by the thing’s laughter.

“As if he would ever remain anonymous. He never hid his name. He simply never had one. No, this pretender is something altogether new.” As the creature ascended back into the reforming shadows on the ceiling her voice taunted Orange Pip. “If you ever get tired of repenting for the sins of your infancy little cuckoo bird, you know where to find us.”

Picture only looked between the two silently, her eyes silently questioning everything she had just seen.

“Just let it lie,” Pip whispered desperately, “Please, if you love me at all just let it lie.”

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