• Published 28th Feb 2013
  • 3,540 Views, 57 Comments

Discord's House of Chaos - DannyJ



A recently freed Discord tries to reform a pair of thieves in a chaotic game.

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Chapter 3: Repair and Maintenance

Nowhere in the world is more unpleasant than a cramped elevator. This is a basic fact of life, but everyone realises it at different times. For some, it's like an instinctual thing that they know from birth. Others have this sudden revelation while going through day to day life, like while on the toilet or while chopping onions. But most unfortunate souls learn this through experience, when they are confronted with it themselves.

Robber Mask, Shady Dealings and the minotaur janitor Axe Grind were in a cramped elevator together at that moment as they left the basement and ascended towards the upper floors of Sunshine Hotel. By the time they'd reached the ground floor, they were already very uncomfortable.

To lessen the awkwardness, Axe Grind started feeling conversational.

"So... Time travel..." he said. "You serious about that?"

Shady shrugged.

"I don't expect anypony to believe us. Damned Discord..."

"Well, I believe you."

Both ponies looked back at the minotaur.

"What?" asked Mask.

"Well, that is to say, I want to believe you. I'm trying not to get my hopes up, but you did mention Discord, and most ponies these days don't even know who he is. Especially not in Manehattan."

Shady blinked.

"That's right!" he exclaimed, slapping his forehead. "Stupid! Discord's been trapped in stone for hundreds of years right now! Of course nopony would know the name back here!"

"Wait, how do you know about Discord then?" said Mask.

Axe Grind snorted.

"All minotaurs know about the tale of Discord. He's the creator of our entire race! Some of my kind even still worship him today! Not in Equestria of course. That's kind of outlawed here. But in the homelands, he's still revered by a minority."

"...Huh," said Shady. "I didn't actually know that."

"But you make it sound like he's free in the future. Is he?"

"Yeah, he kinda is," Mask answered. "He got released from stone about... two years ago, I think. Broke out, ruled Equestria for a day, and then he got taken down by the Elements of Harmony, who are these six mares who... Well, that's a whole other story. And then he was in stone again until recently, when he was released by Princess Celestia and supposedly reformed. And now he's tormenting us."

Axe Grind raised an eyebrow.

"The future sounds strange."

"That's not even the half of it," Shady muttered.

"What else happens?"

"You know the old story, The Mare in the Moon?"

Axe Grind rubbed his chin and squinted as he tried to remember it.

"Hmm... vaguely...."

"Well, it's true. And about a year before Discord came back, Nightmare Moon did too. And she also got reformed, and now she co-rules the kingdom with Celestia. And they aren't even the only alicorns anymore. There are a whole bunch now."

The janitor was giving Shady a look.

"Are you just messing with me?"

"Guys," Mask interrupted, "I think something strange is going on. Weren't we supposed to be just going up to the third floor? How long have we been standing in this elevator, talking?"

At that, the elevator stopped moving and shuddered to a halt. The three nearly lost their balance at the suddenness of their stop. There was a dinging sound again, and the doors opened. Not onto the floor they were meant to be on though, but instead to the grey wall of the elevator shaft.

"Oh, beautiful!" Axe Grind ranted. "ANOTHER thing I have to fix!"

He closed the elevator doors again. Then, without warning, he balled his right hand into a fist and smashed it through the ceiling. At least, that's what it seemed like. In reality he had just displaced a loose grate that was meant to be possible to remove anyway, but for a moment there the two stallions thought they'd just witnessed him punch through solid metal.

He placed both hands on the edge of the opening and began to hoist himself up. The hole was comparatively tiny, obviously designed for ponies, but somehow he managed to squeeze through without difficulty. They looked up to see his face appear in the opening, looking down at them.

"You two stay there," he instructed. "I have to do work up here."

Then the grate closed.

"...Shady?"

"Yeah?"

"What are we even meant to do? Discord must have a reason for putting us through this, but I don't get how this is meant to reform us. What's the point?"

The elevator doors opened again, this time to reveal Discord standing on the other side in a room identical to their elevator, and still in his fancy clothes from before.

"The point, my dear boy, is to teach you life lessons through experience. Something your parents obviously failed to do."

Mask stepped forward aggressively, but Shady put a foreleg in his way to hold him back.

"Simply put, you have your reasons for being criminals, you have your justifications, and you have the excuse of never having been taught how a responsible citizen is supposed to act. Your time in the hotel is going to invalidate all of that. I look forward to seeing your resolve crumble as I strip all your reasons away."

He grabbed the doors again.

"Adieu, mes petits poneys."

He pulled them closed.

"...I really don't like him."

The grate opened up again, and an upside down minotaur hung down from the ceiling.

"Up here! Now!"

***

The two ponies couldn't see very well outside the elevator. Light from inside it poured up through the grate, but it didn't help much. They could see the cables that connected the elevator to the top of the shaft, but they disappeared into the darkness somewhere above them. A little way up, they could make out some silver doors that likely led to one of the upper floors.

"We have a problem," Axe Grind reported. "There is another elevator blocking our way."

"Ahh... what?" said Shady.

"Another elevator. There is a second elevator in the shaft somewhere above us. I think the cable connected to this one is stuck between the other elevator and the wall of the shaft."

"I... Okay. Why is there another elevator in this shaft? Isn't there only supposed to be one?"

"That's what I thought too, pony. But here we are."

"See?" said Mask. "Discord. This is definitely his doing."

"I need somepony to go up there and tell me what's wrong. You have wings. Go take a look for me."

"Ahaha. No. That's not my job," Shady replied.

"The alternative is being stuck in here until an engineer comes to get us."

"Aren't you the engineer?"

Axe Grind crossed his arms.

"I'm the janitor. I fix some things, but mostly I just clean stuff. Elevator maintenance isn't my job either, but at least you won't have to scale the wall or climb up the cable."

Shady growled and threw his forehooves up as he rose into the air.

"FINE! I'll look at the damn thing! Do you at least have a flashlight though? Something? Anything?"

"Sorry."

Still grumbling, the pegasus flew up into the darkness above and disappeared.

***

Although as a pegasus he could have raced straight to the top of the shaft instantly if he wanted, it took Shady over five minutes to reach what he was looking for. The darkness was oppressive and all encompassing, and he couldn't see his hoof in front of his face after a while. Just a little speck of light a long way below him that showed him how far he was getting from his partner and the friendly minotaur who was their only ally here so far.

He didn't want to bang his head against something he couldn't see, so he rose slowly, just a little bit at a time. He still didn't see the underside of the second elevator coming until he actually hit it, but at least he felt his wings brush against it first so that he knew it was there.

Okay. So what are you then?

Hovering in place, he began to run his hooves along the underside of the elevator. He was assuming it was an elevator at least, because that's what Axe Grind seemed to think it was. Though looking back on it, he didn't really have any idea what made him think that. Could minotaurs see in the dark?

Shady flew towards the centre of the shaft, trying to feel around for the cable that the lower elevator was suspended by. When he couldn't find it, he instead began flying feeling the walls to see if he could find the cable pressed up against one of them. Sure enough, he did, and he followed it upwards to see that just as Axe Grind had predicted, it was smooshed between the wall and the elevator above.

And just how am I supposed to get this out?!

The other elevator had a grate in the ceiling that allowed them to climb on top of it. How likely was it that there was one in the underside of this? Not very, he would have guessed. After all, what possible reason would somepony have to go below an elevator when it's suspended above a sheer drop? But there wasn't any other way he could think of to solve this, so he began searching for one.

His eyes widened in surprise as he put a hoof through a perfectly square hole in one corner of the elevator's floor. His hoof touched against something inside. It had a coarse texture, but it wasn't very solid, and didn't resist much when he pushed against it. Flying directly below the hole, he shoved upwards against it, and it gave way to reveal light from within.

Shady had to shield his eyes for a second, but looking up into it, he saw the roof of the same elevator he had been in before. He blinked, and then began pulling himself upwards through the hole. Climbing inside the elevator, he looked around some more. The material he had pushed through turned out to be carpet. That corner of the elevator had its floor missing, and it had just been carpeted over.

Why?

He looked around at the rest of the new elevator. It wasn't exactly like the previous one. There were some subtle differences, like the layout of the buttons and the font for the floor numbers on the labels. The carpet was definitely different. That hole wasn't there in the last one, and he knew because he'd stood a hoof on that space before. And the elevator's doors looked a lot cleaner in this one. Not that the old one's doors were unclean, just that this had been polished more recently.

"Huh," he said to himself.

Out of curiosity, he pressed the open doors button to see if this elevator was trapped between levels too. To his good fortune, it instead opened into a corridor identical to the one he and Mask had initially been dropped in. He took a tentative step outside, looking around at the door numbers on this floor's rooms. They were all insanely high. Six digit numbers. Far too much for a building of this size. He wondered what floor he was even on.

"Discord?" he called out. "What's going on here? Explain this!"

No answer.

"Damn it..."

It seemed all he could hope to do now was go back down and tell the other two what he'd found. Hopefully the janitor would have some idea of how to fix everything, because he didn't.

The doors of the elevator closed as Shady stood there pondering, and he gave a growl of frustration. Stepping over to the elevator again, he was just about to press his hoof against the button to open it back up, when a voice from behind him sounded out.

"Shady, don't."

He froze. Slowly looking over his shoulder, he saw the mare that the voice had come from. She was a pegasus, like him. Her coat was a butter yellow and her mane and tail were a deep purple. Both were long and naturally curly, but also starting to lose their luster and become frayed. She appeared to be in her early fifties, or late forties at best. Though she wasn't wearing glasses right now, a pair of reading spectacles hung from a chain around her neck.

Looking at her cutie mark, he saw that it was of an equine brain.

"Are you Dr. Lobe?" he asked.

She gave him a smile, but said nothing.

"...Why shouldn't I open the elevator?"

The mare looked off to the side, avoiding his gaze.

"You said it didn't end well."

"'I said'? As in I said to you? You know my name, so... we've met before, right?"

The doctor looked back at him and nodded. He was beginning to notice that she wasn't the most talkative sort.

"Where did we meet?"

"Sunshine General Hospital. Discord threw you back there."

Shady's eyes widened.

"You know about Discord?"

"Lots of us do," she replied. "You and Mask were around a lot in the old days. You kept trying to explain it all to us. Not everypony believed you, but... I can't say too much. You warned us about paradoxes. I don't think we can avoid them completely, but Mask said it could be dangerous considering... well, you know."

"Paradoxes..."

Now it was Shady who went quiet and looked away. He sat his rump down on the carpet and bowed his head, deep in thought. Discord had woven them into the history of this building. Already he was seeing the effects of something he'd clearly done in the future. A mare who he'd yet to properly meet and who already knew him.

If he didn't meet her, then the timelines wouldn't match and there would be a paradox, but if he did meet her, then wouldn't he be doing it only because he knew he had to for this to occur? And if such a time loop were to happen, wouldn't that also be a paradox, only of a different kind?

A thought occurred to Shady that perhaps this was Discord's real goal here. What could be more chaotic and confusing than a time paradox? That was his element, wasn't it? Maybe this whole premise of a game he was playing with them was just an excuse to wreak havoc with time. If that was his plan, then they had a clear goal now: stop this madness before it gets worse.

Question was, which kind of paradox gave Discord more power? The one where the timeline stays consistent, or the one where it was broken? Clearly in the timeline this mare already lived through, he'd pressed that button and something bad happened with the elevator, but both he and Mask survived to warn her to try and change the outcome...

His future self wanted to change the timeline, so that meant... what, exactly?

Shady looked back to the button by the elevator.

"What happens if I press it?" he asked.

The smile disappeared from the mare's face.

"I... I'm really not allowed to say. You said I couldn't."

For a moment, Shady kept his eyes on the button, pondering what possible harm it could do to press it. Lobe was looking more and more worried with every second.

“Listen, uh... I think maybe you should just step away from the button for now... Come with me back to my room. We can discuss it a little more, and I can get us some coffee... You still like it black, right?”

The stallion finally tore his eyes away from the elevator.

“Oh. Uh... Sure. Lead the way.”

***

In the the elevator shaft, Axe Grind and Robber Mask found themselves staring at the only source of light to be found. A little square of light broke the darkness somewhere above them, too far for them to really see what it was coming from, and also too far to really make much of a difference. They were only slightly more illuminated than before. Most of their light was still coming from inside the elevator that they were already standing on top of, thanks to the ceiling grate.

“What is going on up there?” asked Mask.

“I was right,” the janitor replied. “Second elevator.”

“How did that happen though? There’s not supposed to be a second elevator, is there?”

Axe Grind shook his head.

“Then why is it there?”

“I don’t know, pony. Perhaps it has something to do with your claims that Discord now roams this place.”

Mask looked up to the metal doors above them that would normally lead to one of the upper floors.

“Hey, do you think you could pull those doors up there open? Maybe we could get out? Find that engineer you mentioned?”

The minotaur glanced up at it, looked back to Robber Mask, and shrugged.

“Worth a try.”

He leapt into the air and grabbed onto the cable that the elevator was suspended by. With remarkable ease, he began climbing up it until he was level with the silver door, and he threw himself off it and against the wall of the elevator shaft. Mask winced as Axe Grind hit the door with a loud clang, but smiled as he stuck his fingers between the doors and began wrenching them open, letting another sliver of light into the elevator shaft.

“Hhhhhgggrrr...”

Finally, they flew all the way open as Axe Grind gave a triumphant roar. He turned around to face Mask again, his heroic figure silhouetted by the light from the corridor outside. The minotaur smiled and gave him a thumbs up, before realising that the cultural significance of the gesture would be lost on a pony. So instead he prepared to jump back down to help his companion get up as well.

And that’s when the other elevator began falling.

Author's Note:

Again, slow updates. Sorry.

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Comments ( 23 )

Paradoxically amazing.

Things that you shouldn't fuck with: time, parallel universes, Satan, and Discord. By the time this story ends, I feel like Shady and Mask will thoroughly mess with all of those.

The odd thing is the the less chaotic paradox is obvious, the closed time loop is in many ways incredibly ordered, an exact series of events occurring in a perfectly set pattern without deviation, the broken time loop is the shattering of said order to allow for a myriad of unknowable possibilities.

Yes! It updated!
This story is well written, has an intriguing premise, and is now adding time-paradoxes to the list of things it has going for it. This is the sort of story I frequent FiMfiction for. And apparently, it's going to be updating regularly in the future. Keep it up!

Paradoxes? Cool :twilightsheepish: ::ajbemused:

Ok, this story is awesome so far. That time travel bit made my brain hurt though.:applejackconfused:

Fav'd so freaking hard. Coming form a Homestuck/Doctor Who double time shenanigans x2 combob background... thing, I am absolutely loving the setup you have here.

Oh, this is gonna be confusing. But you manage it really well and your writing is excellent.

And I love the fact that your Discord has decided on reforming them through mildly terrifying time shenanigans. I keep thinking of haunted hotels as I read this story. That's an oddly great atmosphere you have going.

"All minotaurs know about the tale of Discord. He's the creator of our entire race!"

Oh yeah, I read something about this. Lessee... HERE IT IS!

"Discord?" he called out. "What's going on here? Explain this!"

"Lots of us do," she replied. "You and Mask were around a lot in the old days. You kept trying to explain it all to us. Not everypony believed you, but... I can't say too much. You warned us about paradoxes. I don't think we can avoid them completely, but Mask said it could be dangerous considering... well, you know."

media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lrc1bcp7y81qj0j1y.gif

Wow, the time paradox is certainly a fascinating addition to the story. It opens up a whole new side to the story; a more serious one, to be sure. Also, I find myself liking Axe Grind.

It was worth the wait for this chapter. I really enjoy this story, and I shall patiently wait for more!

I knew as soon that I read in the last chapter that there was no elevator in the future there would something happen to destroy it in the hotel. Cause if it still existed in the Apartments they would see it in the Present.
It's also funny how the knowledge of Discord is woven through the history of the building. The ponies in the Hospital probably will know about Discord, in the Hotel only a few know, in the Apartments Discord is completely forgotten and when it's Abandoned everpony knows about Discord again. But now I'm wondering, are they also going to the future of the building? When there is build something new or even further when they are the last 2 ponies on the planet and the terrain is just a forest/ruin...

This getting updated ever again? :rainbowhuh:

4104946

It is, but my update schedule has been slow for a while now and it's low priority. I have a pair of other Discord oneshots on standby, ready to be released as soon as they're done going through editing. Unrelated to this, I also have to edit the first chapter of my other story, Van Helsing, which has been waiting FOREVER for an update, and of course, I can't neglect the big stories that got me all my followers in the first place, that being Human and my Fallout fics, some of the latter of which have been waiting even longer than House of Chaos has for an update. The Doctor and the Master I've especially left forgotten for far too long.

4104980 fair enough. I'll be waiting patiently! :twilightsmile:

Oh, this is just fascinating! I really like where I think this story is going.

*Ahem*

As far as criticism goes... I have none. The story is pretty fantastic so far, and it sounds like it could be a potentially larger story (I do tend to prefer those, so there's a bias for you). Most of the writing seems well formed and I can't think of any mistakes within the last three chapters that were very striking. Your flow is excellent, and the characters already seem to be well-defined as far as their personalities go. Discord, as ever, is staying very much in character and is acting exactly as I pictured he would.

As for my own sneaking suspicions about what is coming next... I feel it could go down either path, with the whole time thing having really happened, or with Dr. Lobe actually just tricking Shady into thinking it happened to get him to think really hard and then act in a way that would seem irrational to an outsider.

So good …

I keep forgetting this story exists.

5876728

What a coincidence! So do I!

5876750 Well, I just read and enjoyed your latest Discord piece, so there's that. roundstable.com/forums/images/smilies/excellent.gif

Wish you'd update this, than again, I'm not one to talk about updating their Discord story.

More please.

Well, this took a much more confusing turn than I expected... but then, it is Discord.

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