This Nose Knows

by Irrespective

Chapter 1: Prologue - The News is Out

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The Changeling Kingdom—or ‘Wuvy-Duvy Smoochy Land,’ if you were near Queen Chrysalis—was a remote and desolate place out on the furthest edge of the Badlands. It wasn’t the kind of place a pony would willingly go to, even if they did know where it was, thanks to the lack of foliage and the peculiar smell that was reminiscent of old hoof clippings, unwashed socks, year-old cheese and tomatoes. However, it was home for the Changeling Queen and her drones, and all about was the sounds and sights of construction as the worker drones slaved and stewed under a hot sun to bring about their Queen’s wishes for a grand castle.

Not all of the changelings were tasked with construction, however, and one particular drone who was known by the name of Bob stood idly by the main entrance to the new castle and watched his fellows labor as he waited. It was almost time for the mailmare to make her biweekly delivery, and the morale of the hive depended on everybug getting their letters, newspapers and magazines. If he should fail in his duties, the results would be…

He shuddered. It was best he did not think about that.

“She’s not here yet?”

“Mandible,” Bob groaned and facehooved while his obnoxious ‘partner’ approached him, “asking me over and over again won’t make her show up.”

“But you know how she gets when it’s late. I had to clean out the larva pits for two weeks last time.”

“I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe next time you’ll read the job description first before you apply for an open position.”

“Hey, the post stinks but I get vision and dental included with my medical, plus a seven percent match on 401(k) contributions. Another thirty years and I’ll be able to buy my own cave network.”

“Wait, what? You get a seven percent match? I only get five! I’m gonna have to talk to HR about that.”

“Good luck. You’re going up against Coxa and Trochanter.”

“What? I thought Ocelli was in charge.”

“Before the invasion. Our Queen ‘relieved him of duty’ and put the other two in not long after we settled in here.”

“Well, I should just forget it then.”

“Hey, at least you get something,” Mandible replied, but then he pointed out a grey spot that had appeared on the horizon. “And it looks like my abdomen is safe.”

“Takes her long enough to get out here.” Bob replied before letting loose a shrill whistle.

There was a pause in the construction as every changeling quickly adopted a more pony-like appearance, but by the time dutiful mailmare made her approach and landed with a bit of a stumble before them there was nothing in their looks that was amiss.

Ditzy Doo, for her part, groaned as she unslung the mailbag that was larger than herself from off her back before stretching out and eliciting a few pops.

“You know, I’m gonna have to increase your postage rates if this keeps up,” the blonde mare grumbled. “What in Equestria is all this, anyway?”

“Pen pal letters.” Mandible answered with a straight face. “Blueprints, diagrams, building permits, uh… glue. Paper clips, big ones. Y’know. Office supplies.”

“Paper clips?” The mailmare tried to give them a doubtful look, but the effort was ruined slightly by her googly golden eyes. “Is this going to be a constant thing with you ponies? ‘Cause if it is, I’m going to start getting some help and using a wagon.”

“Yeah, I’d do that. We’re going to need a lot of them.” Mandible replied with a sheepish grin as Bob began dragging the mailbag into the castle. “I personally have been looking forward to my subscription to ‘Better Caves and Lairs.’ I’m totally loving their Fang Shui concept.”

“Don’t you mean Feng Shui?”

“Meh,” he shrugged. “Fangs work better for my chakra.”

“Chakras?” Ditzy asked with some delight. “I’m working on my Third Eye right now.”

“Really? I’m trying to boost my Solar Plexus.”

“Neat! I’ve got a Topaz Crystal I never used, I’ll bring it with me next time and maybe it’ll work for you.”

“Thanks. Who do you get your crystals from? I haven’t been able to find a good supplier.”

“I know a pony, actually. I met her out on a rock farm, but she’s going to college now for her rocktorate degree. Her prices are on the high side, but she’s never sold me a crystal that was out of tune. Here, I’ve got a business card you can have if you want.”

“Yeah, totally!” Mandible replied. “That would be great!”

The outgoing mailbag fell out of the air with a loud thud, most likely due to the quality of the changelings assigned to the task and the high window nearby which was a convenient way to ‘send’ the mail. Neither Ditzy or Mandible flinched at its sudden appearance, although it fell a little close for comfort this time. Two changelings disguised as pegasi crawled out from underneath it with a groan and a whine.

“Tim, Phil.” Mandible replied nonchalantly and without looking at them.

“I think we need to cut back on the number of pen pals, boss.” Tim remarked with a wince of pain.

“I’ll look into it,” Mandible casually replied, and he gladly took the business card with the information he needed before Ditzy heaved the new bag up and onto her back.

“I’ll see you guys in a couple of weeks,” she remarked. “Don’t work too hard.”

“Never do.” Mandible chuckled, and several nearby changelings grumbled and glared at him.

Mandible turned and trotted inside after watching Ditzy take to the air once more and he then moved swiftly over to the mailroom. Once there, he offered a smile to the drone overseeing the sorting of the mail.
“Morning, Proboscis. Do you have our Queen’s newspapers?”

“Yeah, right here,” he replied. “Looks like something big happened in Canterlot about two weeks ago. She’ll probably want to read that first.


“Looks like Roseluck wrote to you too.” Proboscis replied slyly.

“She did?!” Mandible squealed in delight. “Have that sent to my hole right away! I’ve been dying to hear back from her.”

Proboscis nodded, and Mandible proceeded to prance down the hallway towards his Queen’s throne with a happy tune. Roseluck was always so thoughtful and sweet in her letters, and she always gave him just that little bit of a nudge he needed to get through his days. If Queen Chrysalis didn’t like the headlines in the newspaper, he was going to need the extra help.

Mandible took two extra deep breaths before walking into the large chamber that made up the new throne room of Queen Chrysalis. The Queen of All She Surveyed was sitting casually on her obsidian throne, a quill and newspaper in her magic. She was intently writing something, and her tongue was sticking out of her mouth slightly as she thought.

“There,” she announced after a moment. “Mandible, what’s a six-letter word for the triangular solid mass of vertebrae between the lumbar vertebrae and the tail covered dorsally by the two ilia?”

“I believe that would be the ‘sacrum’, My Queen.”

“Ah!” She happily chortled as she wrote the word down. “So it is! Good job, Mandible. I will make Dave clean out the larva pits this week for your reward.”

“I cleaned them out last week!” Dave shouted in agony from somewhere.

“Are those the latest newspapers?” Chrysalis asked with an eager look.

“They are, My Queen. I suggest you read the top one first, you may find the news to be quite interesting.”

“Perhaps, but first I need to see if there is a new Gabby Gums article, and then I simply must check in on Caspian & Hobble! Oh, the adorable antics that mischievous little colt gets into! Do you think Caspian’s parents will ever realize Hobble is no mere stuffed animal?”

“I couldn’t say for sure, My Queen.”

“I do hope he tries to go sledding. I always love how he crashes into...”

Chrysalis paused, and her emerald eyes drank in the headline of the newspaper before her. A slow smile slid onto her face, much like a shark might get at the sight of blood, and after a moment she let out a low, hungry chuckle.

“Well, well! Sunbutt went and got married! I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks. This Baked Bean sounds absolutely delicious! Mandible?”

“Yes, My Queen?”

“I do believe we should make preparations to meet the new Prince. Even though we were not invited to the wedding, it would only be polite for us to offer our congratulations, correct?”

“Indeed, My Queen,” Mandible replied with a twisted grin.

Next Chapter: 1. - Happiness Is Estimated time remaining: 15 Hours, 21 Minutes
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