Let's play a game, /mlp/! Why did you let the last thread die? We were going to have a full thread for once... It would have been nice...
If you don't know what's happening, catch up here: http://anonpone.pineapplecomputing.com/threshold/23516424
Last time, Dandy entered the royal hedge maze in search of the escaped tiny Squishy. Inside the hedge maze, Dandy encountered a ghostly filly Tartarus-bent on scaring Dandy - to little avail. But after striking a deal with her, the maze has become a fair deal creepier - and more three-dimensional - than Dandy might have hoped...
Inventory: 1 house key, 1 comb, 1 white fedora, 1 temporary access card, 1 two-way radio, 1 Snapdragon, 1 lab coat, 1 moon cake, 1 bag of maple yogurt drops, 1 drinking bird, 1 coffee mug, 1 color-changing putty, 1 poster, 1 Cathedral of Terra pamphlet, 1 candle
This is where your quest continues.
Dandy follows the path he's presently on, but he doesn't find any more clues. He looks, and looks, and looks, but after ten minutes he has found nothing.
>'My wings are getting tired...'
>'It's a crumpled-up note, stuffed into the hedge... Uhhh, did something make her mad?'
Well, she did seem to notice us back there. I guess you're on your own, then, since I don't think you'll get out without her at this point, and she probably won't help you if we continue helping you.
You could say out aloud that you can't stop hearing what we write, so you can't really do anything against it. Maybe she'll reconsider.
Dandy turns the note over in the hope of getting more information.
>'...What does this mean?'
Hey Willa... I can call you Willa, right?
Can you come out so we can talk, please?
I mean, I would be very interesting to hear about you, you're making all these games for us, and I wondered why, so why not just have a little discussion
Dandy's a nice guy to be around all but we can always use a little more company, you the only person aside for him that could ever hear us...
Would you mind showing up?
>'WHAT?! Well that's just great! Now what am I supposed to do? Does that 'Follow the right wall.' trick work in 3-D mazes?
Dandy cranes his head as a girlish laughter fills his ears, seemingly coming from every direction.
"You just want to not be "it" anymore. Come find me and then we can talk.
Oh, and watch out for me friends. They can be grumpy sometimes. Ehehe...!"
>'Fine, but don't get mad if I get lost... I mean, MORE lost.'
Dandy picks a random direction and follows it. After a few minutes of blindly flying around, he comes across something new.
>'I like this suggestion.'
>'Oh Luna, don't say that Anon...'
>'Yeah, the hedges are all dead along this... uh, corridor. What could have done that?'
Fuck, is there a path we can't see? Like, to the left of the direction the creature came from? Maybe she designed the maze more for us, since she can talk to us, and as a result forgot that oversight.
Dandy wisely backs off and calls for help as the... creature barrels past, surging down the right tunnel.
>"This is Dandy Pomp, Threshold Junior Researcher! We got an A-I-don't-even anomaly in the royal hedge maze, over!"
The only response Dandy gets is static.
>'Is it just me or did the hedge maze just get a lot more... blue?'
Can ya see us now too, Dandy? Either way, might want to keep the maze in sight, since, at least from our perspective, It may as well have been disappearing for the last few seconds, and if you go too far, you might have trouble finding it again too.
Since you're using pngs, I think you can make the background transparent. Not a criticism, it's just standing out, since I don't use Yotsuba.
>'All I see is this blue void... Where am I?'
>'I think I passed that point an hour ago.'
>'There's nothing down here... Wherever 'here' is...
>I don't like this place...
>What's that noise?'
Assuming Dandy lives
>gets no sleep
>chewed out for bad performance
>they actually monitor snapdragon discharges
>gets backed into a corner explaining himself
Or my personal favorite
>squishy gets back with no problems
>but she doesn't keep her mouth shut and tells of what she and the nice dr. dandy did
>'How is this even a thing?! Nothing makes sense anymore!'
>'If my eyes could vomit, they would.'
>CANDLE added to inventory
>"Which way, Quiff?"
Quiff squeaks and points to the right.
>"I hope you're right, buddy..."
Dandy flies off to the right as fast as his aching wings will take him. The path is straight and narrow, and it becomes more jagged the further it goes. Eventually, Dandy reaches a fork.
>'It's getting closer!'
Why are we assuming that whatever is making those noises is actually hostile?
Anyway, it seems to be to your left, so fly down I guess? The candleholders are on the ground, so getting down would be a good idea.
Also, can you even see anymore? I'd imagine you're utterly blinded by indistinguishable bright red walls.
Dandy lets gravity overtake him, plummeting what feels like a mile before the gaudy red of the tunnel gives way to the stark black (what Dandy assumes to be) ground.
>'Is that the place?'
>'I don't know... Were they supposed to light up by themselves like that? At least they're warm... It's chilly walking around at night in just a labcoat.'
Dandy looks behind him.
>'She's not here... Guess the game isn't over yet.
...What's that smell?'
That's when Willa's voice shrieks from the crayon-scribbled aether: "NO!!! What are you DOING?!?"
That wasn't our intention, but it does look like everything has turned into a drawing so maybe we're destroying the maze she crated. Stick around long enough to see what happens after the fire burns a bit.
>"What the heck...? Where did this come from? What's happening to the crayon stuff? How did I get back here? I have a LOT of questions!!"
>'But where is she?'
"You... You JERK!!"
>'Oh, there she is.'
"You ruined EVERYTHING!!!"
>"Hey, hey, calm down! I didn't know that the candles would do that, honest! I thought they'd show me where you were hiding or something!"
The ghost filly scrunches at Dandy, her beady eyes flashing with anger. "Liar!!"
>"I'm telling the truth! I was just trying to find my way out because of how scary everything was getting."
"You're faking it! You weren't scared!"
>"Yes, I was!"
"Your friends weren't! If they were, I'd be able to leave! But I'm still here, so you must be lying!"
You mean you can't reach the great beyond because you have to scare somebody before?
Is that becaus of some unfinished thing as a living of just a universal ghost rule?
I'm interested, really
Can't you try to be cure instead of scary? I'm sure you could do that with a smile and a little effort
>"I'm sorry, WIlla, but my friends are used to scary stuff. I guess even I am, too: I work with a lot of scary things these days."
Willa's angry expression softens and droops like candle wax. Very sad candle wax. "But that's not fair...! Nopony ever comes here at night, and when one finally does, I can't scare him because his imaginary friends are too brave? That really bites!"
>"Maybe you could try being a cute ghost instead of a scary one? You wouldn't have to try very hard: All you need to do is smile."
"I can't just be cute!" Willa shrieks, squeezing her eyes shut. "I have to be scary!"
"Because that's the rules! I can't leave unless I scare somepony!"
Willa looks up at Dandy, suddenly looking far more like a guilty child than a spooky ghost.
"When I was a meat-pony... I mean, when I was alive, I was a bad filly. I always played pranks on my friends and family. One day, I tried to scare my mommy by hiding in a tree and then hanging off a branch and yelling in her face when she walked outside. But I lost my grip and fell... When I woke up, there was a long hallway with a bright light at the end, but a big creepy pony in black wouldn't let me past. He said that since I liked scaring ponies so much, that he'd make me the scariest filly in Canterlot. If I could scare somepony, he'd let me go to the bright light. I thought it'd be easy, but he told me I had to stay in this maze, and I could only come out when it was dark out. He said it'd be "more challenging" that way... I didn't think it'd be this hard...
Dandy gives Willa a thoughtful look.
>"When was this?"
"I don't know. I can't count that high..." She sniffles and rubs her eye. "I just want to go home. I want to tell Mommy I'm sorry. I don't want to be here anymore!"
You go and search for her mom right away, mister.
Then you tell her her dead daughter wants to talk to her, and that she can only do so by going to a dark place while the guard is likely distracted with the moon.
It can't backfire in any way at all. Because you'd be IN A MISION FROM GOD.
>"What's your mother's name?"
Willa sniffles. "Spotlight. Sh-she's a blue unicorn."
>'Now that's a very dandy idea!'
>"Maybe I can help you scare some pony! What about my friend Squishy? You said she's here, right?"
Another sniffle and a nod. "Y-yeah... She's helping me. I told her to follow you around and make noises to try and scare you."
Dandy blinks and then turns around. Sure enough, there's a very small pony behind him, a scrunch on her tiny face.
"See?" she asks in a smug, somewhat angry tone. "It's not fun being stuck in one place, is it Dr. Dandy?"
Well, it's not like there's a lot we can do about that, Squishy.
Inquire about Spotlight's whereabouts.
>All this time a ghost was right in front of the Threshold HQ yet somehow they didn't notice her
>"Squishy, you know that I'm not doing what-"
"IS IT FUN BEING STUCK IN ONE PLACE OR NOT?!"
>"Okay, no, it isn't! But I don't have a choice!"
"You always have a choice! You're just scared to make the right one!"
"Scared...?" Willa asks in a small, hopeful tone.
>"Squishy, I already know all this! But my hooves are tied. I can't do anything!"
"I thought you were my friend! If you were me and I was you, I'd help you! ...I mean, me... me-you. You would... me..."
Squishy pauses mid-rant, her eyes crossing.
>'Oh great, I think she blew a fuse.'
>"Willa Wisp, where does your mom live?"
"At my house."
>"Right, where is that? Like, what's the address?"
"Oh... I don't think I'm supposed to tell strangers that."
>"Well, we played hide-and-seek-"
>"Hide-and-spook. Doesn't that mean I'm not a stranger anymore?"
"I guess not..."
>"I'm just asking so I can help you talk to your mom. You can't leave the maze, right?"
Willa pouts. "No..."
>"Then maybe I can bring your mom here."
Willa looks up at Dandy in surprise.
For the first time since he met her, Dandy sees Willa Wisp smile. Not a smug smirk, or a mischievous grin, but a genuinely happy little smile.
"Thank you, Mr. Dr. Dandy. Mommy lives at 84 Cass... Cassie..."
>'That's only about ten minutes from my place.'
>"Alright, 84 Cassiopeia Drive. I got it."
>"Is there anything I can tell your mom so she'll know I'm not lying and it's really you?"
Willa thinks for a moment. "Tell her that there's 11 bits hidden in a sock under my mattress. I was saving them up to buy a birthday present for my sister. Will that work?"
>"I sure hope so. You wait here and I'll bring your mom to meet you, okay?"
"Okay... You will come back, right?"
>"Yeah. I promise."
I was kind of hoping that we could wrap this up tonight, but I guess everyone went to bed while my computer was shitting itself, so... Tune in tomorrow for the epilogue?
They've been present right in front of the maze for years, probably centuries, and somehow managed to not notice her. I agree that it's a risk, since they have field agents everywhere, but up till now Wisp seems to have been just fine.
>"Squishy, I need to help Willa. Will you come with me?"
Squishy nods. "Okay!"
>"Can I carry you?"
Squishy pauses. "I don't know..."
Squishy nods. "Okay!"
Dandy holds out his hoof; Squishy rears up and wraps her front hooves around it, sticking herself to it until Dandy raises his hoof to his back. She undulates off and settles next to Quiff, who she proceeds to pet and fawn over.
"You're a chubby doggy!" she proclaims with a giggle. Quiff gives his owner an uncertain look, but nonetheless plays along.
>"So, Squishy, are there anymore of you? Like, back at the Threshold?"
Squishy frowns. "Yeah. Big me is still in the cage. Like a good pet."
>'So, what do I do now, guys? It's got to be after midnight by now. Talking to Spotlight about her daughter's ghost is already going to be a hard sell. Waking her up in the middle of the night about it... No way she's going to like that.'
Is little Squishy connected to big Squishy? I don't really mind her staying out if they won't be looking for her, but she has to be careful. They learn she can do this and things could get worse for her.
>'Alright, I'll see what I can do...'
As Dandy trots across Canterlot (His wings are too tired to fly the full way.), he talks to Squishy.
>"Squishy, you said there's a big you at the Threshold, right?"
>"How does that work? Is the big you sentient?"
>"Um, awake. Like, can the big you talk and move around and stuff like you're doing now?"
"Oh, yeah! But she's sleeping right now. Do you want me to wake me up?"
>"No, that's okay... Wait, you could do that? Are the two of you connected?"
"No, silly. She's in there and I'm out here!"
Dandy's brow furrows.
>"No, I mean, how would you wake her up? How do you even know she's asleep?"
Squishy doesn't answer right away. "I don't know. I just kind of know because she's me and I'm me."
>"...So you can do stuff here as you and you can do stuff there as the big you? At the same time?"
"Uh-huh! I'm multitasking!"
>"Huh... I guess you are."
Dandy stops and looks up at the house in front of him.
>'This is the place... Okay, Anons, what should I say?'
If they have no way of knowing little Squishy exists than she could hide out here and experience freedom while big Squishy stays locked up. If they're connected than big Squishy would be able to experience freedom through little Squishy.
Dandy knocks at the door, but he gets no answer.
>'Must be a heavy sleeper.'
Dandy tries again. When that doesn't work, he rings the doorbell. A good twenty seconds pass before he finally hears something inside the house.
>'Guys, I need a line here!'
The door opens, revealing a unicorn mare old enough to be DANDY'S mother, let alone Willa's. Her eyes have thick bags under them, and her hair is a wild tangle resembling a bird's nest. Made of cobwebs.
"What...?" she mutters, noticeable unhappy. "Who are you? Do you know what time it is?"
Well, it'll be awkward anyway and she'll probably think you're some kind of lunatic, if she's even still alive.
So I guess say that you're here because of Willa Wisp and have information about her and ask whether you can talk to her mother about it.
Also like the other Anons said, you might be able to leave tiny Squishy outside as long as she is sure that she can keep it a secret to anyone else and never mention it inside the facility even to you (because monitoring, ASCII would probably hear it).
It also means that you can actually experiment with this capability in the facility and write reports about it. You might even become assigned to Squishy like that.
Dandy takes a deep breath.
>"Uh, yes, ma'am, I know it's very late, but I have something very important to talk about with a Miss Spotlight."
The older mare's expression softens a little. "Well, my name is Spotlight." she answers.
>"Miss Spotlight, I'm here because I have some information about your daughter."
A look of fear comes over Spotlight's face. "Twinkle Star? Did something happen to her...?!"
>"No, ma'am. I'm talking about Willa Wisp."
Spotlight is silent for a moment, her expression hardening. "Is this some kind of joke...?!"
Tell her that there's 11 bits hidden in a sock under my mattress and that she was saving them up to buy a birthday present for my sister. It will give us the benefit of the doubt.
This is the part where you explain your a researcher at the Threshold facility, deal with paranormal stuff on a regular basis, and discovered the ghost of a filly in a maze around here.
Bonus credibility points if you show her squishy, and mention the fact that she loved spooking people. Also the hidden bits.
I like the idea of that other Anon to mention that you work with anomalous events. Also try not to be too blunt with asking whether her daughter died, but ask if that's the case.
Dandy tugs at his coat collar.
>'I don't think I'm allowed to mention the Threshold, but I'll see what I can do.'
>"This is not a joke at all, ma'am. Please listen, this will only take a minute. I'm... a doctor, and I'm looking for the mother of a filly named Willa Wisp."
Spotlight calms down a little, but she's still glaring at Dandy. "That would be me." she answers. "I don't know what you think you can tell me that I don't already know, 'Doctor.'"
>"Well, ma'am, I'm a specialist in... unusual incidents. It's kind of complicated to explain, but earlier tonight, I found what I believe to be a message left by your daughter."
Spotlight looks confused. "A message?"
>"Yes, ma'am. She- I mean, it mentioned Willa's name, your name, and a few other details. I'm here because I hoped you might be able to verify it, and see if it's legitimate or not."
Spotlight's eyes glint a little. "Did you bring this message with you?"
>"I'm afraid not, ma'am. It's in the royal hedge maze. I couldn't remove it."
"So... What?" Spotlight frowns. "Do you want me to follow some strange stallion into a maze in the middle of the night? I don't think so...!"
>"Well, Willa's message mentioned a sock of 11 bits hidden under her mattress, for buying her sister a birthday present. Does that sound familiar at all?"
Spotlight freezes. She looks Dandy in the eye. "How did you know about that...?"
>"That's what the message said, ma'am... Is it true?"
Spotlight is quiet for several seconds, deep in thought. "Yes... I found that sock when I finally decided to clear out her room a couple of years ago. There was a note that said the bits were for Twinkle Star's birthday present... But how... Why would a message like that be in the hedge maze?" The mare goes quiet again. "What did you say your name was...?"
>"My name is Doctor Pomp."
"And... This message is in the hedge maze..."
>"It's right near the entrance, ma'am."
Spotlight looks conflicted. "I don't know... Maybe I should wait until daytime."
>"The message has certain chemical properties that make it invisible during the day. That's... probably why no pony has seen it until tonight."
"Well... Alright. But I'm bringing protection. Wait here while I get dressed."
>But I'm bringing protection.
You look old enough to not need it.
We epilogue now. No more commands will be accepted.
Dandy waits outside for Spotlight.
>'That went better than I expected it to.'
After a few minutes, the door opens, and a much less haggard Spotlight trots out.
>'Whoa... I didn't think they MADE baseball bats that big.'
"Alright, let's go." she says, leading the way. "And don't try anything funny."
>"I-I wouldn't dream of it!"
A short (and uncomfortably quiet) time later, Dandy and Spotlight enter the hedge maze.
"So... Where's this message of yours?" Spotlight asks.
>"Uh... She-... I mean, it was right around here when I last saw it."
"Really." Spotlight asks darkly.
Dandy begins to sweat as Spotlight turns back towards him, lifting her bat.
That's when he notices movement behind her.
"Nice try." Spotlight says with a scowl. She starts to turn towards Dandy, a menacing look in her eye.
I follow it, but the moon is changing again. Look at it.
Old asset. Ignore that.
Spotlight spins around towards the source of the voice, her eyes widening with shock. For a brief moment, she locks eyes with the ghost of her daughter.
Willa Wisp smiles and nods, a sheepish smile on her face.
Spotlight is motionless for a few seconds.
Then, she moves. Towards the ground.
Willa Wisp zips over to her fallen mother, trying to shake her. But her spectral hooves go right through Spotlight's body.
"Mommy, wake up! Please, Mommy! I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you! I didn't mean to be a bad filly! I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry!"
Dandy's heart goes out to the poor filly, who begins sobbing over her mother's prone form.