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"We still can't predict the weather" edition.

Twilight: I can't really believe your story Anon, buildings with over 100 levels? Flying boats bigger than Ponyville? And yet there's no magic in your world? Please.
>Growing tired of Twilight's berating, you go out into the world to prove her wrong.

That's the prompt that started it all. So what's this thread about? It's about Anon bringing human science and inventions to Equestria and a disbelieving Twilight. Although, that's not necessarily the prompt you need to follow if writing is what you desire.

Remember not to save anything of value on pastebin, use ponepaste.org
Have a broken pastebin link? Replace pastebin.com with poneb.in

Thread Story List (outdated):

Active stories/updates from the last thread(s):
Red Shift
>https://ponepaste.org/3897 https://ponepaste.org/3906 https://ponepaste.org/3907 https://ponepaste.org/3908 https://ponepaste.org/3909
>End of the last update: >>36589886
Shape Your Home (#deca.mare, posted in NMP)
>https://ponepaste.org/477 https://ponepaste.org/478 https://ponepaste.org/479 https://ponepaste.org/480
>End of the last update: >>36698073
The Swirling Menagerie (Solanon)
>https://ponepaste.org/4272 https://ponepaste.org/4285 https://ponepaste.org/4286
>End of the last update: >>36716338
Anonymous, the Singing Golem (leg)
>https://ponepaste.org//328 https://ponepaste.org/606
>End of the last update: >>36338890

Others from the last 1-2 thread(s):
War Anon (DreamlessAnon)
>Starts here >>36514474
TiM (phase 2/my idea of a good time/Drostapena)
>https://ponepaste.org/4161 (old version? https://ponepaste.org/4160)
>Starts here >>36606942
(H.E.R.O) Mission (SaltAnon)
>Starts here >>36361544

From older threads:
(H.E.R.O) Vacation (SaltAnon)
>End of the last update: >>36361565
(H.E.R.O) Genisis (SaltAnon)
(H.E.R.O) An Email (SaltAnon)
>End of the last update: >>36097480

Robolight vs experiments >>36252052

Outdated thread:
#71 >>36489745
The old version in the op is the original green i wrote in 2016, the new one from the last couple of weeks is the spiritual reboot of the original green.
A promise is a promise. I know it's not Spooktober anymore, but then again I'm pretty sure I started this story on Halloween? Meaning it was November anyway by the time the ball got rolling. So whatever! A little break from the very BIG IMPORTANT events of my other story.

Part 3

“Pinkie. Checklist! What have we done so far?”
>Pinkie flips through her notepad from behind the respirator pump, which is now pushing a steady pulse of air into Pumpkin’s body
>”Ummm… we went to the park dressed as frogs, we played Strip Monopoly, we already set our tongues on fire…”
“Not that checklist. The one for right now.”
>”Oh! Oopsie!”
>Pinkie flips forward a few pages, and you can see she’s drawn a crude flip animation of her whacking a corpse with a hammer on the margins
>Maybe this was a mistake after all…
>”We polarized the telo-thingies. Twilight made a biiiig lightshow and made all the holes in the body seal up. You put your little metal heartbeat machine around the heart to make it beat, but I don’t think it’s actually doing anything…”
“Not yet, at least. But I had to get it in there while the regeneration spell was still active. No more super-healing now that Twilight’s recovering. Twilight, you okay?”
>The purple pony nods at you from the corner, where Spike is tending to her
>She’s not injured or anything, but you can only imagine how much strain casting that powerful a spell for so long can put on her body and mind
>Best to let her rest until she’s needed again for the memory spell
“What came after the pacemaker, Pinkie?”
>”Ooh, I know this one! You made Spike breathe fire right down her throat! That was fantabulous!”
“To clear the tracheal passage of any accumulation, yes. With the respirator pump on her, her body’s naturally doing what it does best: converting silicon into nitrogen. A goddamn miracle of nature, but somehow you’ve all got fission reactors for adenosines. Every time you little marshmallow horses breathe in, you should blow up from the sheer energy release. But you don’t. You don’t…”
>”So what’s next, Nonny?”
>You scratch your chin and take some time to just observe the body you’ve been working on for what seems like an hour
>She’s still braindead, but with her decayed cells restored, her lungs acting as a much more efficient generator than your little battery kit could ever hope to manage, and her heartbeat stabilized, there’s only one thing left to do
>She needs blood, fast
>Her body was a husk when you got to it, mostly intact but still dried out, and since you can’t be sure of her blood type you really don’t have a reliable donor on hand
>The marrow…
>That’s it! If Twilight’s regeneration spell was causing ALL the bodily functions of Pumpkin Spice to work in overtime, accelerating the very growth of her DNA…
“Pinkie. Scalpel.”
>Pinkie nods and hands you the shimmering blade
>Pony bones are soft enough that you won’t even need a bonesaw for this, it’ll be like cutting into a cold block of cheese
>For that same reason, you’re especially careful not to break anything as you slide the knife deep into the body’s hindleg, into her femur
>The stem cells within marrow, at least for humans, are prohibited from crossing a certain membrane without a specific type of protein found only in mature blood cells
>If you can cut just carefully and precisely enough to not damage the membrane, while still providing direct access to the outer region of the marrow…
>”Look Nonny, look! Blood!”
>As you twist the scalpel within the bone, causing some minor fractures but nothing that can’t be healed, a small spurt of dark blood sprays out of the wound
>Your marrow theory was correct; in only a matter of minutes, with Twilight’s spell targeting the proteins in Pumpkin’s cells, her long-dead marrow was able to produce this much mature blood from nothing at all
>You gesture loosely, and Pinkie seems to get your meaning, grabbing the IV tube and clean syringes left over at the bottom of your bag
>You nest one syringe inside the small cavity you’ve created, watching it fill with new blood, then connect it by tube to another syringe that you plunge into the body’s foreleg at the vein
>The blood pumps steadily from one syringe to the other as you manually draw it out from the marrow, until enough has been drawn that you feel it’s enough to survive on
“She’ll be wanting for more blood if she wakes up, but this’ll at least get the brain going again.”
>The heart’s still beating by the pacemaker’s command, and you can tell that the blood’s being circulated just by the way the pallor is beginning to return to Pumpkin Spice’s face
>For all intents and purposes, she’s “alive” right now; she has a pulse, she’s breathing on her own, she’s generating energy from the leftover protein deposits, and her motor functions should all be working now that the brain’s getting blood
>All that’s left now is to bring back the brain, and it’s easier said than done with what just happened
>You leave the body momentarily in Pinkie’s hooves to join Twilight and Spike by the bookshelves at the back of the room
>When you weren’t looking, Spike seems to have retrieved an ice pack and is now rubbing Twilight’s horn up and down with it
>You want her to get all the recovery she can afford, but at the same time she can’t wait too long
>For all you know, the brain could be rewriting memories at this very moment
“Twilight. How’s it hanging?”
>Spike gives you a halfhearted sigh while Twilight grimaces in pain
>”It’s a little better. That spell took more out of me than I thought. When I was in it, I felt like I had it, even though it hurt… but the second I released it, it just struck back at me that much harder. My aura was in a feedback through the whole body. It’s like… it’s like her magical field was fighting my own… even though that can’t be possible.”
“Why not?”
>Twilight makes a face like she’s trying to roll her eyes at you, but just ends up clenching down and closing them
>”Because… she’s dead, Anon. A unicorn’s magical envelope persists after death, that’s true, but it should have no direction. It should just be a static field with no particular force attached to it. This one felt like a raging river… it engulfed me once I was inside it, and when I tried to get out it dashed my against the rocks.”
“This may have been a worse idea than I thought.”
>”Y-you think? Anon, that thing there, that corpse… we’ve brought back everything but its brain. If there’s something wrong with her magic, I mean, if it’s skewed in some way or if some part of her lives on in it… well, not only would that change everything we know about death, but it would present some insurmountable challenges for us right now.”
“The only insurmountable challenge I see right now is retrieving her memories while our only unicorn is out of commission.”
>”I can do it, Anon. I can… oh… it’s coming back. Just a few more moments…”
“We may not have that.”
>”Celestia, Anonymous, don’t you have any conscience at all?”
>Spike’s pointing one long claw at you as he makes his accusatory stand here in the dark
>Outside, the wind’s howling, and the moonlight cast from the window is barely enough to see the anger on his face
>”You made her do this! You made her cast some spell she’s never cast before, and now you’re asking her to do it again? Now that she’s hurt so badly? It’s not happening. I w-won’t let it happen. I—”
>From your kneeling position, you stand tall, towering over Spike’s miniscule frame
>With your black clothes, surgical gloves, scalpel and the most serious face you can muster, you imagine you must look like the Grim Reaper himself to this little dragon
>You’ve always felt a little bad for Spike, and you’re glad to see that he’s got some balls under all that fluff
>But you’re not going to let him get in the way of progress, not after you’ve come so far
>Spike’s brave face melts away, and his eyes are on the gleaming knife in your hand
>You’d never in a million years use it on him, but you’re not sure he knows that
>”Spike… it’s okay…”
>Twilight’s voice is weak, and she reaches out to push him aside with one hoof
>”I can do it… I can cast the spell.”
>You grin, bending down to lift her back onto her hooves
“That’s the spirit, bookhorse. Because we may not have much time.”
>”Nonny! Something’s happening!”
>You divert your attention away from the struggling Twilight back to the makeshift surgical table, where Pinkie seems to be getting frantic
>You stride across the room to calm her down and to see what’s exactly the problem
>When you reach the edge of the table, you’re greeted with a sight you didn’t expect
>First, the eyes have begun to move in patterns resembling REM cycles, spinning wildly in their sockets
>The irises have taken on an orange hue, very similar to that of her mane
>And speaking of her mane, it’s also begun to grow out in silky tufts; she’s no longer bald, at least
>But the more pressing matter is that her breathing seems to have become erratic, her chest heaving up and down in random intervals, some intakes larger than others
”Damnit, Pinkie, I told you to keep your hooves on the pump! To stabilize if this happened!”
>Pinkie’s eyes start to water, and she gives you the saddest look you’ve ever seen
>”I-I-I’m sorry, Nonny! I did my b-best!”
>God, you forgot how delicate ponies are…
>”It’s fine, Ponks. Don’t worry about it. But actually do worry, because now it’s gonna be harder to reset the cycle. When did her eyes start spinning like that?”
>”A-about ten seconds before I called. They opened wider, too. Nonny, I reaaaaaally don’t like this.”
>”Yeah, me neither.”
>Spike strolls up beside you and lifts himself over the edge of the table to get a better look at the subject
>”This isn’t right. This can’t be how it’s supposed to look.”
“The energy output… gah, I should’ve considered this. She’s not burning any calories, she’s just lying there producing. No wonder it’s destabilizing; I bet her heartrate’s all over the place too. Twilight, I’m sorry, but we need you now. The brain has to be stirring by now, she could be responding to all kinds of negative stimuli. If you don’t rewire her brain for us, she’s going to end up either vegetative or…”
>”Or what? What, Anonymous?”
“Don’t worry about it. It won’t happen. Twilight!”
>”I… I’m on it. Just…”
>Twilight manages to lift herself up and weakly march across the room, her horn glowing a dim blueish hue
>She hasn’t got much left in her, but the act itself shouldn’t take much energy; it’s the precision of the spell that counts
>Her mind doesn’t look so geared towards precision either, though…
>You think about what she said about Pumpkin’s latent magical field resisting her own
>You’re not going to pretend you know much about magic, so if Twilight thinks it unusual or potentially dangerous then you’re inclined to believe her
>It makes some kind of sense, after all; these things persist after death, and they’re manipulated by their users, so if a user is dead then the field should be dormant, static
>But it was flowing, and what’s more it was flowing AGAINST Twilight…
>As if it didn’t want to be brought back
“Twilight, cancel that. We’re stopping now. We’re pulling the plug.”
>”Wh-what? Nonny, no! I promise I tried my hardest!”
“It’s not that, Pinkie. It’s… we can’t do this now. Not without knowing more. We flung ourselves into it too fast. We all got sloppy. I got sloppy.”
>Spike smirks
>”Finally grew a conscience, huh Anonymous?”
“Listen here, you little shit—”
“Ugh. Listen here, you little poop. The only reason I’m not drop kicking you across the floor right now is because of Twilight. You may not believe it, but I care about her safety as much as you do. If casting another spell into that pony’s field is going to hurt her, then we’ve got to keep working to find a safer solution.”
>”Anon… no. It wasn’t that bad! I-I can do it. Watch me.”
>Twilight reaches the table and stares at the pulsing body, the eyes twitching about, the arrhythmic breathing still pumping what little energy into the brain it needs to operate
>She takes on a combative stance, as though she’s trying to prevent herself from getting knocked over, and her aura becomes a tad brighter
“Twilight, come on. Since when are you so enthusiastic about this, anyway?”
>”Since you ROPED me into it, Anon! If I didn’t want to see this happen just like you, I wouldn’t be here! I wouldn’t have helped you dig this body out of a cemetery!”
>Although Spike explodes at this news, as you expected, your eyes are on Pinkie, who’s looking back at you quizzically
>”Nonny…? Is that true?”
“Damnit… yeah, it’s true. It had to be aged enough, and I didn’t exactly have the chance to ask permission. Better to ask forgiveness, Momma Anonymous always said. God rest her zombie bones.”
>”Then it’s settled. I have to do this. If we’re bringing her back into the world, then we should go for it all the way.”
>”I agree with Twilight! I didn’t stop baking my special ectoplasm-puff cakes early tonight just to BAIL, Nonny!”
>Your mind is racing
>For whatever reason, you thought this would be simpler, just a straightforward process and then BOOM, life!
>You hardly even factored magic into the equation, despite the whole thing relying on Twilight casting her two spells
>But the brain must be working overtime now to fill the space of the lost time with terrible corruptions of past memories
>And those memories in turn are overlapping with the new memories created by this strange new half-alive experience
>If Twilight doesn’t do it now, NOW…
“Fine. FINE! Do it, Twilight! You’re right, you’re all right. I brought Pumpkin Spice back into the world, the least I can do is give her a chance at remembering. There’s no precise moment now, just do it when you’re ready. But do it QUICKLY, she’s overclocking already.”
>After all, the micro-reactors in the cadaver’s very cells are releasing explosive energy into a vessel that’s about to be filled completely, and you don’t know what happens when it overflows
>Twilight nods, determination back on her face, and she gestures at Spike, who’s biting his claws frantically, to move aside
>Pinkie adopts a look of worry too, but it’s mixed with barely-concealed excitement
>”Okay, I’m ready. Just like last time?”
“Just like last time. You made me, an alien, remember my past. How hard could it be for another pony?”
>Twilight breathes in, then out, the dim aura shimmering around her horn brightening rapidly
>Her lips move as though uttering an incantation under her breath, then she grits her teeth and thrusts her head forward
>Sparks turn to a beam of pure violet energy, blasting out of Twilight’s horn and warping around Pumpkin Spice’s shuddering head
>”I see the mind inside! It’s still… still fighting me, but I can ring it in! There’s more darkness than there was in yours, WAY more!”
“Makes sense! She’s been dead!”
>The implements scattered across the makeshift operating table, the scalpels, the syringes, the respirating valve, all vibrate as the intensity in the air rises
>The spell is pushing them away, it’s so powerful!
>Menacing organ music is playing in your head, as you realize that this is really about to happen
>You are no longer Anonymous, you’re Victor goddamn Frankenstein in the flesh!
>”It’s working!”
>It’s working!
>”I can see… I can see what’s at the bottom! I can make it rise! I can make her remember!”
>Make her remember!
>Restore her very being!
>Yes! YES!
>A split second after it matters, you notice that the tools on the table are not being pushed away from the body, but rather attracted to it
>And only the metal ones, at that
>The whole body is conducting, morphing into…
>”Dear Celestia…”
“What is it?!”
>”She’s reforming! She can see how she… I can see how she died!”
“How did she—”
>Screaming in your ears
>Whiteness in your eyes
>Horror in your mind
>A psychic explosion, more than anything, but you’re still splayed out on the floor
>You can’t see, you can barely breathe, and there’s a sharp pain in your thigh
>You should’ve seen it before it happened, should’ve seen the way the body was conducting like a wire
>The conductivity was the key, it was the body overcompensating for the lack of discharge
>Everything was working, everything WOULD have worked, had the telomeres not suddenly REVERSED their polarity to prevent the body from physically exploding
>You would laugh to yourself at how obvious it was if you could stand to laugh without passing out
>It’s a natural defense mechanism, how did you THINK the ponies could withstand electromagnetic currents, their chemical composition being what it is?
>The body compensates naturally, if you’d only prepared for this you could’ve prevented…
>But that doesn’t explain the images that were just broadcast into your mind
>Fragments of memories of a life you never lived, someone else’s memories
>Pumpkin Spice’s memories, dredged up from her dead consciousness
“Wh-where… where…”
>Your voice comes out as a dry croak
>Maybe it really is that quiet, or maybe you can’t hear shit at the moment; you can’t even tell
>But when your sight returns, you don’t know what you’ll see
>You don’t know if you WANT to know
>Twilight… where are you, Twilight?
>Where are you?

That's it. Since it's been so long since the last update, I'd recommend going back and reading the other two, since they're not so long. Although the little Pinkie-fied recap at the beginning might've served the same purpose, so eh. Cheers!
Glad to see more of this. I'm curious what's going to happen with Anon now having some of Pumpkin Spice's memories and what that could mean.
>”Ummm… we went to the park dressed as frogs, we played Strip Monopoly, we already set our tongues on fire…”
Pinkie and Anon are into some kinky stuff.
>"We still can't predict the weather" edition
That's unfortunate
maybe someday
>that cliffhanger
Yeah this pretty sums up how I feel with cliffhangers in stories I like in 1.5 words
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looks like a fun class she's teaching
Teaching? More like she is screwing up an experiment as a student.
fair enough that's also possible
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Damn I love that AJ.
she got curves in all the right places
Should have called them animalcules. She is from the past.
I should learn blender just to 3d print this.
The model files are available.
that sounds like a fun project
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I really like the idea of having to teach Luna modern science using old fashion terms
The description for this image on Deviant Art sounds like it would make a good fanfic.

When Derpy accidentally falls into the parallel dystopian world she finds herself into the middle of confrontation between some rebel ponies and all-powerful artificial intelligence. Will her knowledge of friendship be enough to encourage her new friend Moondrive and others to fight for their freedom?
Nice image
p10 in 2h? wow
busy night huh?
Weird that it's for a russian convention
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>reading steel sanctuary
Why do I like this so much
because it's good
Steel Sanctuary is a fucken road trip! When reading it the first time, you never know what will happen next!
because you like torture of that anon
Something about this image says to me that it's neural network generated. Just a gut feeling.
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Accurate measurements are required for science!
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Man I have no idea how I'm supposed to read all that.
It's just the golden ratio all over.
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>mfw I've probably legitimately read Steel Sanctuary close to 20 times.
>mfw it's the genesis of all my industrialization fantasies.
>mfw I want a spinoff series with Drop and Celestia.
are you me?
>mfw I want a spinoff series with Drop and Celestia.
And now I do too, goddamn. Where would it even go though?
Drop and Anon can no longer hide the existence of Equestria from the humans. Celestia is sent with Drop as an emissary, Shenanigans ensue.
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Can i post this think im working on here?

>Nasapone's with me when i pull apogee out of the surge tank.
>"Why her?"
"Because i want her out first"
>I say this wondering if Nasapone is jealous. I don't blame her tho: Apogee's beautiful, but she's also smart. There isn't a better syntax runner in Equestria Industrial.
>"What happened?" Apogee asks, when she's over the grogginess. "Are we back yet?"
"What's the last thing you remember?"
>"Customs" she says.
>"Those pricks on Atlas"´
"And after that? anything else? The runes? Do you remember casting them?"
>She then picks up something in my voice. The fact that i might not be telling the whole truth, or telling her all she needs to know
>"Anon. I'll ask you again. Did we make it back?"
"Yeah. We made it back"
>Apogee looks back at the starscape, airbrushed across her surge tank in luminous violet and yellow paint. She had it customized on Carillon. It was against regs: something about the paint clogging intake filters.
>Apogee didn't care. She told me it had cost her a week's bits, but it had been worth it to impose her own personality on the grey company architecture of the ship.
>"Funny how I feel like I've been in that hing for months."
>I shrug
"That's the way it feels sometimes."
>"Then nothing went wrong?"
"Nothing at all."
>Apogee looks at Nasapone
>"Then who are you?"
>"Nasapone says nothing. She just looks at me expectantly. I start shaking, and realize I can't go through with this. Not yet."
"End it"
>"Nasapone steps towards Apogee. Apogee reacts, but she isn't quick enough.
>"Nasapone pulls something form her pocket and touches Apogee on the foreleg. Apogee drops like a puppet, out cold. We put her back into the surge tank, plumb her back in and close the lid.
>"She won't remember anything"
>"The conversation never left her short-term memory."
"I don't know if I can go through with this"
>Nasapone touches me with her other hoof
>"No one ever said this was going to be easy"
"I was just trying to ease her into it gently. I didn't want to tell her the truth right out"
>"I know you're a kind man, Anon" Then she kisses me.
Yeah I'd say it fits in here.
Then ill keep going
>I REMEMBER ATLAS as well. That was about where it all started to go wrong. We didn't know it then.
>We missed our first take-off slot when customs found a discrepancy in the cargo waybill. It wasn't serious, but it took them a while to realize their mistake.
>By the time they did, we knew we were going to be sitting on the ground for another eight hours, while inbound control processed a fleet of bulk carriers.
>I told Apogee and Pleiades the news. Apogee took it pretty well, or about as well as she ever took that kind of thing.
>I suggested she use the time to scour the docks for any hot syntax patches. Anything that might shave a day pr tho off our return trip.
>"Company authorized?" she asked
"I don't care"
>"What about Pleiades? Is he going to sit here drinking tea while i work for my pay?"
>I smiled. They had a bickering, love-hate thing going on
"No, Pleiades can do something useful as well. He can take a look at the q-planes."
>"Nothing wrong with those planes" he said.
>I took off my old Equestria Industrial bib cap, scratched my bald spot and turned to the jib pony
"Right. Then it won't take you long to check them over, will it?"
>"Whatever, Skip"
>The thing i liked about Pleiades was that he always knew when he'd lost an argument. He gathered his kid and went out to check over the planes.
>I watched him climb the jib ladder, tools hanging from his belt.
>Apogee got her facemask, long, black coat, and left, vanishing into the vapour haze of the docks, boot heels clicking into the distance long after she'd passed out of sight
>I left the Harmonia, walking in the opposite direction to Apogee
>Overhead, the bulk carriers slid in on after the other. You heard them long before you saw them. Mournful, cetacean moans cut down through the piss-yellow clouds over the port.
>I followed the voice. It was Pleiades, standing by the dock
"You finished checking those planes?"
>Pleiades shook his head
>"That's what I wanted to talk about you about. They were a little off-alignment, so...
>"Seeing as we're sitting here for eight hours"
>"I decided to run a full recalibration"
"That's the idea. So what's the prob?"
>"The "prob" is a slot just opened up. Tower says we can lift in thirty minutes"
"Then we'll lift"
>"I haven't finished the recal. As it is, things are worse than before I started. Lifthing now would not be a good idea"
"You know how the tower works. Miss two offered slots, you could be on the ground for days"
>"No one wants to get back home sooner than I do..."
"So cheer up"
>"She'll be rough in the tunnel, It won't be a smooth ride home"
"Do we care? We'll be asleep"
>"Well, it's academic. We can't leave without Apogee"
>I heard boots coming toward us. Apogee came out of the fog, tugginf her own mask aside
>"No joy with the rune monkeys. Nothing they were selling I hadn't seen a million times before. Fucking cowboys"
"It doesn't matter. We're leaving anyways"
>Pleiades swore
>I pretended I hadn't heard him.
>I WAS ALWAYS the last one into the surge tank
>I never went under until I was sure we were about to get the green light. It gave me a chance to check things over. Things can always go wrong, no matter how good the cre
>The Harmonia had come to a stop near the AA beacon that marked the surge point. There were a few other ships ahead of us in the queue, plus the usual swarm of AA service craft.
>Through an observation blister I was able to watch the larger ships depart one by one. Accelerating at maximum power, they seemed to streak towards a completely featurless part of the sky.
>Their jibs were spread wide, and the smooth lines of their hulls were gnarled and disfigured with the cryptic alien runes of the routing syntax
>At twenty gees it was as if a huge invisible hand snatched them away into the distance. Ninety seconds later, there'd be a pale green flash from a thousand kilometres away.
>I twisted around in the blister. There were the foreshortened symbols of our routing syntax. Each rune of the script was formed from a matrix of millions of hexagonal platelets. The platelets were on motors so they could be pushed in or out from the hull.
>Ask the Aperture Authority and they'll tell you that the syntaxt is now fully understood. This is true, but only up to a point
>After two centuries of study, pony machines can now construct and interpret the syntaxt with an acceptably low failure rate. Given a desired destination, they can assemble a string of runes that will almost always be accepted by the aperture's own machinery
>Futhermore, they can almost always guarantee that the desired routhing is the one that the aperture machinery will provide.
>In short, you usually get where you want to go.
>Take a simple point-to-point transfer, like the Twilight Sparkle run. In that case there is no real disadvantage in using automatic syntax generators.
>But for longer trajectories, those that may involve six or seven transits between aperture hubs. machines lose the edge.
>They find a solution, but usually it isn't the optimum one. That's where syntax runners come in.
>Ponies like Apogee have an intuitive grasp of syntaxt solutions. They dream in runes. When they see a poorly constructed script, they feel it like toothace. It affronts them.
>A good syntaxt runner can shave days off a route. For a company like Equestria Industrial, that can make a lot of difference.
>But I wasn't a syntax runner. I could tell when something had gone wrong with platelets, but I had to trust that Apogee had done her job. I had no other choice.
>But I knew Apogee wouldn't screw things up.
>I twisted around and looked back the other way. Now that we were in space, the q-planes had deployed. They were swung out from the hull on triple hundred-metre-long jibs, like the arms of a grapple.
>I checked that they were locked in their fully extended positions and that the status light were all green.
>The jibs were Pleiades's area. He'd been checking the alignments of the ski-shaped q-planes when I ordered him to close up ship and prepare to lift.
>I couldn't see any visible indication that they were out of alignment, but then again it wouldn't take much to make our trip home bumpier than usual. But as I'd told Pleiades, who cared?
>The Harmonia could take a little tunnel turbulence. It was built to.

>I checked the surge point again. Only three ships ahead of us
>I went back to the surge tanks and checked that Apogee and Pleiades were all right. Pleiades's tank had been customized at the same time that apogee had had hers done.
>It was full of images of what Apogee called the BLF: The Blessed Lauren Faust.
>The BLF was always in a spacesuit, carrying a little spacesuited Princess Celestia
>Their helmets were airbrushed gold halos. The artwork had a cheap, hasty look to it.
>I assumed Pleiades hadn't spent as much as Apogee.
>Quickly I stripped down to my underclothes. I plumbed into my own unpainted surge tank and closed the lid.
>The buffering gel sloshed in. Within about twenty seconds I was already feeling drowsy
>By the time traffic control gave us the green light I'd be asleep.
>I've done it a thousand times. There was no fear, no apprehension. Just a tiny flicker of regret.
>I've never seen an aperture. Then again, very few people have.
>Witnesses report a doughnut-shaped lump of dark chondrite asteroid, about two kilometres across. The entire middle section has been cored out, with the inner part of the ring faced by the quitoxic-matter machinery of the aperture itself.
>They say the q-matter machinery twinkles and moves all the while, like the ticking innards of a very complicated clock. But the monitoring systems of the Aperture Authority detect no movement at all.
>It's alien technology. We have no idea how it works, or even who made it. Maybe, in hindsight, it's better not to be able to see it.
>I'ts enough to dream, and then awake, and know that you're somewhere else.
>"TRY A DIFFERENT approach" Nasapone says.
>"Tell her the truth this time. Maybe she'll take it easier than you think."
"There's no way i can tell her the truth"
>Nasapone leans against the wall, one hoof close to her mouth
>"Then tell her something halfway truthful"
>We un-plumb Apogee and haul her out of the surge tank
>"Where are we? Who are you?"
>I wonder if some of the last conversation did make it out of Apogee short-term memory after all
"Nasapone works here"
>"Where's here?"
>I remember what Nasapone told me
"A station in Orion sector"
>"That's not where we're meant to be, Anon"
"I know. There was a mistake. A routing error"
>Apogee's already shaking her head
>"There was nothing wrong--"
"I know. It wasn't your fault"
>I help her into her ship clothes. She's still shivering, her muscles reacting to movement after so much time in the tank
"The syntax was good"
>"Then what?"
"The system made a mistake, not you"
>"Orion sector... That would put us about ten days off our schedule, wouldn't it?"
>I try and remember what Nasapone said to me the first time. I ought to know this by heart, but Apogee's the routing expert, not me"
"That sounds about right"
>But Apogee shakes her head
>"Then we're not in Orion sector"
>I try to sound pleasantly surprised
"We're not?"
>"I've been in that tank for a lot longer than a few days, Anon. I know. I can feel it in every fucking bone in my body. So where are we?"
>I turn to Nasapone. I can't believe this is happening again.
"End it"
>Nasapone steps towards apogee
>YOU KNOW THAT "as soon as I awoke I knew everything was wrong" cliché?
>You've probably heard it a thousand times, in a thousand bars across the Bubble, wherever ship crews swap tall tales over flat, company-subsidized beer
>The trouble is that sometimes that's exactly the way it happens. I never felt good after a period in the surge tank. But the only time I had ever come around feeling anywere near this bad was after that trip I took to the edge of the Bubble.

>Mulling this, but knowing there was nothing I could do about it until I was out of the tank, it took me half an hour of painful work to free myself from the connections.
>Every muscle fibre in my body felt like it had been shredded. Unfortunately, the sense of wrongness didn't end with the tank.
>The Harmonia was much too quiet. We should have been heading away from the last exit aperture after our routing. But the distant, comforting rumble of the fusion engines wasn't there at all
>That meant we were in free-fall
>Not good.

>I floated out of the tank, grabbed a handhold and levered myself around to view the other two tanks
>Pleiades's largest BLF stared back radiantly from the cowl of his tank. The bio indices were all in the green.
>He was still unconsious, but there was nothing wrong with him. Same story with Apogee.
>Some automated system had decided I was the only one who needed waking.
>A few minutes later I had made my way to the same observation blister I'd used to check the ship before the surge.
>I pushed my head into the scuffed glass half-dome and looked around.
>We'd arrived somewhere. The Harmonia was sitting in a huge, zero-cross section. The walls were a smear of service machinery: squat modules, snaking umbilical lines, the retracted cradles of unused docking berths.
>Whichever way I looked I saw other ships locked onto cradles. Every make and class you could think of, every possible configuration of hull design compatible with aperture transitions.
>Service light threw a warm golden glow on the scene. Now and then the whole chamber was bathed in the stuttering violet flicker of a cutting torch.
>It was a repair facility.
>I was just starting to mull on that when I saw something extend itself from the wall of the chamber.
>It was a telescopic docking tunner, groping towards our ship. Through the window in the side of the tunnel I saw figures floating, pulling themselves along hoof over hoof
>I sighed and started making my way to the airlock.
FUCK i skiped this part prease understand.
Itst more exposition about the station, the rift and Luna, its important

>When they emerged, you saw dark hulls scabbed and scarred by the blocky extrusions of syntax patterning, jibs and q-planes retracted for landing and undercarriages clutching down like talons.
>The carriers stopped over their allocated wells and lowered down on a scream of thrust. Docking gantries closed around them like grasping skeletal fingers. Cargo-handling 'saurs plodded out their holding pens, some of them autonomous, some of them still being ridden by pony trainers.
>There was a shocking silence as the engines cut, until the next carrier began to approach through the clouds.
>I always like watching ships coming and going, even when they're holding my own ship on the ground. I couldn't read the syntax, but i knew these ships had come in all the way from the Rift.
>The Great rift is about as far as anyone ever goes. At median tunnel speeds, it's a year from the centre of the Local Bubble
>I've been out that way once in my life. I've seen the view from the near side of the Rift, like a good tourist. It was far enough for me
>When there was a lull in the landing patter, I ducked into a bar and found an Aperture Authority booth that took Bits. I sat in the seat and recorded a thirty-second message to Luna. I told her I was on my way back, but that we were stuck on Atlas for another few hours.
>I warned her that the delay might cascade through to our tunnel routing, depending on how busy things were at the Authority's end. Based on past experience, an eight-hour ground hold might become a two-day hold at the surge point.
>I Told her I'd be back, but she shouldn't worry if I was a few days late. I also told her that I loved her and couldn't wait to get back home.
>While I walked back to the Harmonia, I thought of the message racing ahead of me. Transmitted at light-speed up system, then copied into the memory buffer of the next outgoing ship. Chances were, that particular ship wasn't headed to Equestria or anywhere near it.
>The Aperture Authority would have to relay the message from ship to ship until it reached its destination.
>I might even reach Equestria ahead of it, but in all my years of delays that had only happened once. The system worked all right.
>Overhead, a white passenger liner had been slotted in between the bulk carriers. I lifted my custom mask to get a better look at it.
>I got hit of ozone, fuel and dinosaur dung. That was Atlas alright. You couldn't mistake it for any other place in the Bubble.
>There were four hundred worlds out there, up to a dozen surface ports on every planet, and none of them smelled bad in quite the same way
>BY THE TIME I reached the lock they were already through the first stage of the cycle.
>Nothing wrong with that, there was no good reason to prevent foreign parties boarding a vessel, but it was a tiny bit impolite.
>But perhaps, they'd assumed we were all asleep.
>The door slip open
>"You're awake" an unicorn said
>"Captain Prince Anonymous of the Harmonia, isn't it?"
"Guess so"
>"Mind if we come in?"
>There were about half a dozen of them, and they were already coming in. They al wore slightly timeworn ocher overalls, flashed with too many company sigils.
>My hackles rose. I didn't really like the way they were barging in
"What's up? Where are we?"
>"Where do you think?" a pony said. He had a face full of stubble, with bad yellow teeth. I was impressed by that. Having bad teeth took a lot of work these days
>It was years since I'd seen anyone who had the same dedication to the art.
"I'm still hoping you're not going to tell me we're still stuck in Atlas system"
>"No, you made it through the gate"
>"There was a screw-up. Routing error. You didn't pop out of the right aperture"
"Oh celestia"
>I took off my bib cap
"It never rains. Something went wrong with the insertion, right?"
>"Maybe, Maybe now. Who know how these things happen? All we know is you aren't supposed to be here"
"Right. And where is "here"?"
>"Nereid Station. Orion sector"
>He said it as though he was already losing interest, as if this was a routine he went through several times a day.
>He might have been losing interest. I wasn't
>I'd never heard of Nereid Station, but I'd certainly heard of Orion sector.
>Orion was a K supergigant out toward the edge of the local Bubble. It defined one of the seventy-odd navigational sectors across the whole Bubble
>Did I mention the Bubble already?
>YOU KNOW HOW the Milky Way Galaxy looks; you've seen it a thousand times, in paintings and computer simulations. A bright central bulge at the galactic core, with lazily curved spiral armas flung out from that hub, each arm composed of hundred of billions of stars, ranging from the dimmest, slow-burning dwarfs to the hottest supergigants teetering on the edge of supernova extinction.
>Now zoom in one arm of the Milky Way. There's the sun, orange-yellow, about two-thirds out from the distances of tens of thousands of light-years.
>Yet the sun itself is sitting right in the middle of a four-hundred-light-year-wide hole in the dust, a bubble of which the density is about a twentieth of its average value
>That's the Local Bubble. I'ts as if some divine figure blew a hole in the dust just for us.
>Except, of course, it wasn't some deity. It was a supernova, about a million years ago.
>Look further out, and there are more bubbles, their walls intersecting and merging, forming vast froth-like structures tens of thousands of light-years across.
>There are the structures of Loop I and Loop II and the Celestial Ring. There are even superdense knots where the dust is almost too thick to be seen through at all.
>Black cauls like the Taurus or Ophiuchi dark clouds, or the Great Rift itself.
>Lying outside the Local Bubble, the Rift is the furthest point in the galaxy we've ever travelled to.
>It's not a question of endurance or whatever. There simply isn't a way to get beyond it, at least not within the faster-than-light network of the aperture links.
>The rabbit-warren of possible routes just doesn't reach any further.
>Most destinations, including most of those on the Harmonia's itinerary, didn't even get you beyond the Local Bubble.
>For us, it didn't matter. There's still a lot of commerce you can do within a hundred light-years of Equestria. But Orion was right on the periphery of the Bubble, where dust density began to ramp up to normal galactic levels, two hundred and twenty-eight light years from Equestria.
>Again: not good.
>"I know this is a shock for you" another voice said "But it's not as bad as you think it is"
>I LOOKED AT the Pony that had just spoken. Normal height, White coat, with deep purple-magenta eyes and a bob of shoulder-lenght sky-blue with long a red streak mane.
"It isn't?"
>"I wouldn't say so, Anon" she smiled
>"After all, it's given us the chance to catch up on old times, hasn't it?"
>"For my sins" she nodded
"My god. It is you, isn't it?"
>"I wasn't sure you'd recognize me. Specially after all this time"
"You didn't have much more trouble recognizing me"
>"I didn't have to. The moment you popped out we picked up your recovery transponder. Told us the name of your ship, who owned her, who was flying it, what you were carrying, where you were supposed to be headed. Plus, you aren't a pony"
>"When i heard it was you, I made sure I was part of the reception team. But don't worry. I'ts not like you've changed all that much"
"Well, you haven't either"
>It wasn't quite true. But who honestly wants to hear that hey look about ten years older than the last time you saw them, even if they still don't look all that bad with it?
>I thought about how she had looked when we were.... together... Memories that I'd kept buried for a decade spooling into daylight.
>It shamed me that they were still so vivid, as if some furtive part of my subconscious had been secretly hoarding them through years of marriage and fidelity
>Nasapone half-smiled. It was as if she knew exactly what I was thinking.
>"You were never a good liar, Anon"
"Yeah. Guess I need some practice"
>There was an awkward silence. Neither of us seemed to know what to say next. While we hesitated the others floated around us, saying nothing.
"Well. Who'd have guessed we'd end up meeting like this?"
>Nasapone nodded and offered the frogs of her hoofs in a kind of apology
>"I'm just sorry we aren't meeting under better circumstances"
>"But if it's any consolation, what happened wasn't at all your fault. We checked your syntax, and there wasn't a mistake. It's just that now and then the system throws a glitch"
"Funny how no one likes to talk about that very much"
>"Could have been worss, Anon. I remember what you used to tell me about space travel"
"Yeah? Which particular pearl of wisdom would that have been?"
>"If you're in a position to moan about a situation, you've no right to be moaning"
"Celestia. Did I actually say that?"
>"Mm. And i bet you're regretting it now. But look, it really isn't that bad. You're only twenty days off-schedule"
>Nasapone nodded towards the pony who had bad teeth.
>"Alma says you'll only need a day of damage repair before you can move off again, and then another twenty, twenty-five days before you reach your destination, depending on routing patters"
>"That's less than six weeks. So you lose the bonus on this one. Big deal. You're all in good shape, and your ship only need a little work. Why don't you just bite the bullet and sign the repair paperwork?"
"I'm not looking forward to another twenty days in the surge tank. There's something else, as well"
>"Which is?"
>I was about to tell her about Luna, how she'd have been expecting me back already
"I'm worried about the others, Apogee and Pleiades. They've got families expecting them. They'll be worried"
>"I undestand, Apogee and Pleiades. They're still asleep, aren't they? Still in their surge tanks?"
>"Keep them that way until you're on your way. There's no sense worrying them about their families, either. It's kinder"
"If you say so"
>"Trust me on this one. Anon. This isn't the first time I've handled this kind of situation. Doubt it'll be the last, either"
>I STAYED IN a hotel overnight, in another part of Nereid. The hotel was an echoing, multileveled prefab structure, sunk deep into bedrock. It must have the capacity for hundreds of guests, but at the moment only a handful of the rooms seemed to be occupied. I slept fitfully and got up early.
>In the atrium, i saw a bib-capped worker in rubber "gloves" removing diseased carp from a small ornamental pond.
>Watching him pick up the ailing, metallic-organic fish, I had a flash of déjá vu, What was it about dismal hotels and dying carp?
>Before breakfast, bleakly alert, even though I didn't really feel as if I'd had good night's sleep, I visited Alma and got a fresh update on the repair schedule
>"Two, three days"
"It was a day last night"
>"You've got a problem with the service, find someone else to fix your ship" Alma shrugged
>Then he stuck part of his hoof into the corner of his mouth and began to dig between his teeth
"Nice to see someone who really enjoys his work"
>I left Alma before my mood worsened too much, making my way to a different part of the station.
>"Nasapone has suggested we meet for breakfast and catch up on old times. She was there when I arrived, sitting at the table in an "outdoor" terrace, under a red-and-white-striped canopy, sipping orange juice.
>Above us was a dome several hundred metres wide, projecting cloudless holographic sky. It had the hard, enamelled blue of midsummer
>"How's the hotel?"
>I ordered a coffee
"Not bad. No one seems very keen on conversation, though. Is it me or does that place have all the cheery ambience of a sinking ocean liner?"
>"It's just this place. Everyone who comes here is pissed off about it. Either they got transferred here and they're pissed off about that, or they ended up here by routing error and they're pissed off about that instead. Take your pick"
"No one's happy?"
>"Only the ones who know they're getting out of here soon"
"Would that include you?"
>"No. I'm more or less stuck here. But I'm OK about it. I guess I'm the exception that proves the rule"
>The waters were glass mannequins, the kind that had been fashionable in the core worlds about twenty years ago. One of them placed a croissant in front of me, then poured scalding black coffee into my cup
"Well, it's good to see you"
>"You too, Anon"
>Nasapone finished her orange juice and then took a corner of my croissant for herself, without asking
>"I heard you got married"
>"Well? Aren't you going to tell me about her?"
>I drank some of my coffee
"Her name's Luna"
>"Nice name"
"She "works" in the Royal administration of Canterlot"
>I looked at her funny
"Well, not yet. It wouldn't be easy, the amount of time we both spend away from home"
>"Mm. But one day you might think about it"
"Nothing's ruled out"
>As flattered as I was she was taking such interest in me, the surgical precision of her questions left me slightly uncomfortable. There was no thrust and parry; no fishing for information. That kind of directness unnerved. But at least it allowed me to ask the same questions.
"What about you, then?"
>"Nothing very exciting. I got married a yer or so after I last saw you. An earth pony called Duska"
>I said, ruminatively, as if the name had cosmic significance.
"Well, I'm happy for you. I take it he's here, too?"
>"No, Our work took us in different directions. We're still married, but..."
"It can't be easy"
>"If it was meant to work, we'd have found a way. Anyways, don't feel too sorry for either of us. We've both got our work. I wouldn't say I was any less happy than the last time we met"
"Well, that's good"
>Nasapone leaned over and touched my had. Her hoof had a particular shine to it
>"Look. This is really presumptuous of me. It's one thing asking to meet up for breakfast. It would have been rude not to. But how would you like to meet again later? It's really nice to eat here in the evening. They turn down the lights. The view through the dome is really something"
>I looked up into that endless holographic sky
"I thought it was faked"
>"Oh, it is. But don't let that spoil it for you"

Thats all for now, im more or less halfway the story
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Thanks for the green!
Enjoying the view?
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you know it
Aight if i don't forget ill post the rest of the story later
I'm looking forward to it.
Well you're not the only one.
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Thats one good looking robopone
>I SETTLED IN front of the camera and started speaking.
"Hello. I hope you're all right. By now I hope someone from the company will have been in touch. If they haven't, I'm pretty sure you'll have made your own enquiries. I'm now sure what they told you, but i promise you that we're safe and sound and that we're coming home. Im calling from somewhere called Nereid Station, a repair facility on the edge of the Oreon sector. I'ts not much to look at: just a warren of tunnels and centrifuges dug into a pitch-black, D-type asteroid, about half a light-year from the nearest star. The only reason it's here at all is because there happens to be an aperture next door. That's how we got here in the first place. Somehow the Harmonia took a wrong turn in the network, what they call a routing error. The Harmonia came in last night, local time, and I've been in a hotel since then. I didn't call last night because I was too tired and disorientated after coming out of the tank, and I didn't know how long we were going to be here. Seemed better to wait until morning, when we'd have a better idea of the damage of the ship. It's nothing serious, just a few bits and pieces buckled during the transit, but it means we're going to be here for another couple of days."
"Alma, he is the repair chief, says three at most. By the time we get back on course, however, we'll be about forty days behind schedule."
>I paused, eyeing the incrementing cost indicator. Before I sat down in the booth I always had an eloquent and economical speech queued up in my head, one that conveyed exactly what needed to be said, with the measure and grace of a soliloquy. But my mind always dried up as soon as I opened my mouth, and instead of an actor I ended up sounding like a small-time thief, concocting some fumbling alibi in the presence of quick-witted interrogators-
>I smilled awkwardly and continued
"It kills me to thing this message is going to take so long to get to you. But if there's a silver lining it's that I won't be far behind it"
"By the time you get this, I should be home only a couple of days later. So don't waste bits replying to this, because by the time you get this I'll already have left Nereid Station. Just stay where you are and I promise I'll be home soon"
>That was it. There was nothing more I needed to say, other than "I miss you"
>Delivered after a moment's pause, I meant it to sound more empathic. But when i replayed the recording it sounded more like and afterthought.
>I could have recorded it again, but I doubted that I would havee been any happier. Instead I just committed the existing message for transmission and wondered how long it would have to waitr before going on its way
>Since it seemed unlikely that there was a vast flow of commerce in and out of Nereid station.
>I'd even told her about Alma and the damage to the Harmonia. But I hadn't told her about Nasapone
>IT’S NOT WORKING with Apogee.
>She's too smart, too well attuned to the physiological correlatives of surge tank immersion.
>I can give her all the reassurances in the world, but she knows she's been under too long for this to be anything other than a truly epic screw-up.
>She knows that we aren't just taking weeks or even months of delay here. Every nerve in her body is screaming that message into her skull
>"I had dreams" she says, when the grogginess fades
"What kind?"
>"Dreams that I kept waking. Dreams that you were pulling me out of the surge tank. You and someone else"
>I do my best to smile. I'm alone, but Nasapone isn't far away. The hypodermic's in my pocket now
"I always get nad dreams coming out of the tank"
>"These felt real. Your story kept chaning, but you kept telling me we were somewhere....that we'd gone a little off course, but that it was nothing to worry about"
>So much for Nasapone reassurance that Apogee will remember nothing after our aborted efforts at waking her.
>Seems that her short-tem memory isn't quite as fallible as we'd like
"It's funny you should say that. Because, actually, we are a little off course"
>She's sharper with every breath. Apogee was always the best of us at coming out of the tank
>"Tell me how far, Anon"
"Farther than I'd like"
>She presses her hooves on the tank. I can't feel if it's aggression, or some lingering neuromuscular effect of her itme in the tank
>"How far?, Beyond the Bubble?"
"Beyond the Bubble, yes."
>Her voice grows small and childlike.
>"Tell me, Anon. Are we out beyond the Rift?"
>I can hear the fear. I understand what she's going through. It's the nightmare that all ship crews live on every trip. That something will go wrong with the routing, something so severe that they'll end up on the very edge of the network. That they'll end up so far from home that getting back will take years, not months. And that, of course, years will haave already passed, even before they being the return trip.
>That loved ones will be years older when they reach home.
>If they're still there. If they still remember you, or want to remember. If they're still recognizable, or alive
>Beyond the Great Rift. It's shorthand for the trip no one ever hopes to make by accident. The one that will screw up the rest of your life, the one that creates the ghosts you se haunting the shadows of company bars across the whole Bubble.
>Stallions and mares ripped out of time, cut adrift from families and lovers by an accident of an alien technology we used but barely comprehend.
"Yes... We're beyond the Rift"
>Apogee screams, kitting her face into a mask of anger and denial. My hand is cold around the hypodermic. I consider using it.
>A NEW REPAIR estimate from Alma. Five, six days.
>This time I didn't even argue. I just shrugged and walked out, and wondered how long it would be next time.
>That evening I sat down at the table where Nasapone and I had met over breakfast.
>The dinning area had been well lit before, but now the only illumination came from the table laps and the subdued lighting panels set into the paving.
>In the distance, a glass ponnequin stood on a small stand, playing "asturias" on a glass piano. There were no other patrons dining tonight.
>I didn't have long to wait for Nasapone
>"Im sorry I'm late, Anon"
>I turned to her as she approached the table. I liked the way she walked in the low gravity of the station, the say the subdued lighting traced the arc of her hips and loin.
>She eased into her seat and leaning towards me in the manner of a conspirator. The lamp on the table threw red shadows and gold highlights across her face. It took ten years off her age.
"You aren't late. And anyway, I had the view"
>"It's an improvement, isn't it?"
"That wouldn't be saying much. But yes, it's definitely and improvement"
>"I could sit out here all night and just look at it. In fact sometimes that's exactly what I do. Just me and a bottle of wine"
"I don't blame you"
>Instead of the of the holographic blue, the dome was now full of stars. It was like no view I'd ever seen from another station or ship.
>There were hard gold gems and soft red smears, like finger smears in pastel. There were strams and currents of fainter stars, like a myriad neon fish caught in a snapshot of frozen motion. There were vast billowing backdrops of red and green cloud, veined and flawed by filaments of cool black.
>There were bluffs and promontories of ochre dust, so rich in three-dimensional structure that they resembled an exuberant impasto of oil colours; contours light-years thick laid on with a trowel. Red or pink stars burned through the dust like lanterns
>Orphaned worlds were caught erupting from the towers, little sperm-like shapes trailing viscera of dust. Here and there I saw the tiny eyelike knots of birthing solar systems.
>There were pulsars, flashing on and off like navigation beacons, their differing rhythms seeming to set a stately tempo for the entire scene, like a deathly slow waltz.
>There seemed too much detail for one view, and overhwlming abundance of richness, and yet no matter which direction I looked, there was yet more to see, as if the dome sensed my attention and concentrated its efforts on the spot where my gaze was directed.
>For a moment I felt a lurching sense of dizziness, and, though I tried to stop it before I made a fool for myself, I found myself grasping the side of the table, as if to prevent myself from falling into the infinite depths of the view.
>"Yes, it has that effect on people"
"I'ts beautiful"
>"Do you mean bautiful, or terrifying?"
"It's big"
>"Of course, it's faked"
>"The glass in the tome is smart, it exaggerates the brightness of the stars, so that the human eye registers the differences bewtween them. Otherwise the colours aren't unrealistics. Everything else you see is also pretty accurate, if you accept that certain frequencies have been shifted into the visible band, and the scale of certain structures has been adjusted"
>She pointed out features for my edification
>"That's the edge of the Taurus Dark cloud, with the Pleiades just poking out. That's a filament of the Local Bubble. You see that open cluster?"
>"That's the Hyades. Over there you've got Betelgeuse and Bellatrix"
"I'm impressed"
>"You should be. It cost a lot of money"
>"Are you alright, Anon? you seem a bit distracted"
>I sighed
"I just got another prognosis from your friend Alma. That's enought to put a dent in anyone's day"
>"I'm sorry about that"
"There's something else, too. Something that's been bothering me since I came out of the tank"
>A ponniquin came to take our order. I let Nasapone choose for me
>"You can talk to me about it, whatever it is"
"It isn't easy"
>"Something personal, then? Is it about Luna?" She bit her tongue.
>"No, sorry. I shouldn't have said that"
"It's not about Luna. Not exactly, anyways"
>But even as I said it, I knew that in a sense it was about Luna, anod how long it was going to be before we saw each other again
>"Go on, Anon"
"This is going to sound silly. But I wonder if everyone's being straight with me. It's not just Alma. It's you as well"
"When I came out of that tank I felt the same way I felt when I'd been out to the Rift. Worse, if anything. I felt like I'd been in the tnak for a long, long time"
>"It feels that way sometimes"
"I know the difference, Nasapone. Trust me on this"
>"So what are you saying?"
>The problem was that I wasn't really sure. It was one thing to feel a vague sense of unease about how long I'd been in the tank. It was another to come out and accuse my host of lying. Especially when she had been so hospitable.
"Is there any reason you'd lie to me?"
>"Come off it, Anon. That kind of question is that?"
>As soon as I said it, it sounded absurd and offensive to me as well. I wished i could reverse time and star again, ignoring my misgivings
"I'm sorry. Stupid. Just put it down to messed-up biorythms, or something"
>She reaches across the table and took my hand, as she had done at breakbast. This time continued to hold it.
>"You really feel wrong, don't you?"
"Alma's games aren't helping, that's for sure.
>The waiter brought our wine, setting it down, the bottle levitating with some kind of technomagic. The mannequin poured two glasses and I sampled mine.
"Maybe if I had someone else from my crew to bitch about it all with, I wouldn't feel so bad. I know you said we shouldn't wake Apogee and Pleiades, but that was before a one-day stopover turned into a week"
>Nasapone shrugged
>"If you want to wake them, no one's going to stop you. But don't think about ship business now. Let's not spoil a perfect wevening"
>I looked up at the starscape. It was heightened, with the mad shimmering intensity of a Van Gogh nightscape. It made me feel drunk and ecstatic just to look at it
"What possibily spoil it?"
>WHAT HAPPENED IS that i drank too much wine and ended up sleeping with Nasapone
>I'm not sure how much of a part the wine played in it for her. If her relationship with Duska was in as much trouble as she'd made out, then obviously she had less to lose than I did.
>Yes, that made it all right, didn't it? She the seductress, her own marriage a wreck, me the hapless victim. I'd lapsed, yes, but it wasn't really my fault. I'd been alones, far from home, emotionally fragile, and she had exploited me. She had softened me up with a romantic meal, her trap already sprung.
>Except all that was just self-justifying bullshit, wasn't it? If my own marriage was in such great shape, why had I failed to mention Nasapone when I called home?
>At the time, I'd justified that omission as an act of kindness towards my wife. Luna didn't know that Nasapone and I had ever been a couple. But why worry Luna by mentioning another mare, even if I pretended that we'd never met before?
>Except, now, I could see that I'd failed to mention Nasapone for another reason entirely. Because in the back of my mind, even then, there had been the possibility that we might end up sleeping together.
>I was already covering myself when I called Luna. Already making sure there wouldn't be any awkward questions when I got home. as if I not only knew what was going to happen but secretly yearned for it
>The only problem was that Nasapone had something else in mind
>"ANON" Nasapone said, nudging me towards wakefulness.
>She was lying naked next to me, leaning on one knee, with the sheets crumpled down around her flanks.
>The light in her room turned her into an abstraction of milky blue curves and deep violet shadows. With one hoof she traced a line down my chest
>"There's something you need to know"
>"I lied. Alma lied. We all lied"
>I was too drowsy for her words to have much more than a vaguely troubling effect. All I could say, again, was: "What?"
>"You're not in Nereid Station. You're not in Orion sector"
>I started waking up properly
"Say that again"
>"The routing error was more severe than you were led to believe. It took you far beyond the Local Bubble"
>I groped for anger, even resentment, but all I felt was a dizzying sentation of falling
"How far out?"
>"Further than you thought possible"
>The next question was obvious
"Beyond the Rift?"
>"Yes" she said, with the faintest of smiles, as if humouring me in a game whose rules and objectives she found ultimately demeaning
>"Beyond the Great Rift. A long, long way beyond it"
"I need to know, Nasapone"
>She pushed herself from the bed, reached for her suit
>"Then get dressed, I'll show you"
>She took me to the dome again. It was dark, just as it had been the night before, with only the lamp-lit tables to act as beacons.
>I supposed that the illumination throughout Nereid Station (or wherever this was) was at the whim of its occupants, and didn't necessarily have to follow any recognizable diurnal cycle.
>Nonetheless it was still unsettling to find it changed so arbitrarily. Even if Nasapone had the authority to turn out the lights when she wanted to, didn't anyone else object?
>But I didn't see anyone else to object. There was no one else around; only a glass ponniquin standing at attention with napkin over his torso.
>She sat us at a table.
>"Do you want a drink, Anon?"
"No, thanks. For some reason I'm not quite in the mood"
>She touched my wrist.
>"Don't hate me for lying to you. It was done out of kindness. I couldn't break the truth to you in one go"
>Sharply I withdrew my hand
"Shouldn't I be de judge of that? So what is the truth exactly?"
>"It's not good, Anon"
"Tell me, then I'll decide"
>I didn't see her do anything, but suddenly the dome was filled with stars again, just as it had been the night before
>The view lurched, zooming outward. Stars flowed by from all sides, like white sleet.
>Nebulae ghosted past in spectral wisps.
>The sense of motion was so compelling that I found myself gripping the table, seized by vertigo.
>“Easy, Anon," Nasapone whispered.
>The view lurched, swerved, contracted. A solid wall of gas slammed past. Now, suddenly, I had the sense that we were outside something, that we had punched beyond some containing sphere, defined only in vague arcs and knots of curdled gas, where the interstellar gas density increased sharply.
>Of course. It was obvious. We were beyond the Local Bubble.
>And we were still receding. I watched the Bubble itself contract, becoming just one member of the larger froth of voids. Instead of individual stars, i saw only smudges and motes, aggregations of hundreds of thousands of suns. It was like pulling back from a close-up view of a forest
>I could still see clearings, but the individual trees had vanished into an amorphous mass
>We kept pulling back. Then the expansion slowed and froze. I still could make out the Local Bubble, but only because i had been concentrating on it all the way out. Otherwise, there was nothing to distinguish it from the dozen of surronding voids
"Is that how far out we've come?
>"Let me show you something"
>Again, she did nothing that I was aware of. But the Bubble I had been looking at was suddenly filled with a skein of red lines, like a child's scribble
"Aperture connections"
>As shocked as I was by the fact that she had lied to me, and as fearful as I was about what the truth might hold, I couldn't turn off the professional part of me, the part that took pride in recognizing such things.
>Nasapone nodded.
>"Those are the main commerce routes, the well-mapped connections bewtween large colonies and major trading hubs. Now I'll add all mapped connections, including those that have been traversed by accident"
>The scribble did not change dramatically. It gained a few wild loops and hairpins, including one that reached beyond the wall of the Bubble to touch sunwards end of the Great Rift. One or two other additions pierced the wall in different directions, but none of them reached as far as the Rift
"Where are we?"
>"We're at one end of those connections. You can't see it because it's pointing directly towards you"
>She smiled slightly
>"I needed to establish the scale that we're dealing with. How wide is the Local Bubble? Anon? Four hundred light-years, give or take?"
"About right"
>"And while I know that aperture travel times vary from point to point, with factors depending on network topology and syntax optimization, isn't it the case that the average speed is about one thousand times faster than light?"
"Give or take"
>"So a journey from one side of the Bubble might that, what, half a year? say five or six months? A year to the Great Rift?"
"You know that already, Nasapone. We both know it"
>"Alright. Then consider this"
>The view contracted again, the Bubble dwindling, a succession of overlaying structures concealing it, darkness coming into view on either side, and then the familiar spiral swirl of the Milky Way Galaxy looming large
>Hundreds of billions of stars, packed together into foaming white lanes of sea spume.
>"This is the view. Enhanced of course, brightened and filtered for us mortals consumption, but if you had eyes with near perfect quantum efficiency, and if they happened to be about a metre wide, this is more or less what you'd see if you stepped outside the station"
"I don't believe you"
>I didn't WANT to believe her
>"Get used to it, Anon. You're a long way out. The station's orbiting a brown dwarf star in the Large Magellanic Cloud. You're one hundred and fifty thousand light-years from home"
>My voice little more than a moan of abject, childlike denial
>"You felt as though you'd spent a long time in the tank. You were dead right. Subjective time? I don't know. Years, easily. Maybe a decade. But objective time, the time has passed back home, is a lot clearer."
>"It took the Harmonia on hundred and fifty years to reach us. Even if you turned back now, you'd have been away for three hundred years, Anon"
>HOW DO YOU adjust to something like that?
>The answer is that you can't count on adjusting to it at all. Not everyone does.
>Nasapone told me that she had seen just about every possible reaction in the spectrum, and the one thing she had learned was that it was next to impossible to predict how a given individual would take the news
>She had seen ponies adjust to the revelation with little more than a world-weary shrug, as if this were merely the latest in a line of galling surprises life had thrown at them, no worse in its way than illness of bereavement or many number of personal setbacks.
>She had seen others walk away and kill themselves half an hour later.
>But the majority, she said, did eventually come to some kind of accommodation with the truth, however faltering and painful the process.
>"Trust me, Anon. I know you now. I know you have the emotional strenght to get through this. I know you can learn to live with it"
"Why you didn't tell me straight away, as soon as I came out of the tank?"
>"Because I didn't know if you were going to be able to take it"
"You waited until after you knew I had a wife"
>"No. I waited until after we'd make love. Because then I knew Luna couldn't mean that much to you"
"Fuck you."
>"Fuck me? Yes, you did. That's the point"
>I wanted to strike out against her. But what I was angry at was not her insinuation but the cold-hearted truth of it. She was right, and I knew it. I just didn't want to deal with that, any more than I wanted to deal with the here and now.
>I waited for the anger to subside
"You say we're not the first?"
>"No. We were the first, I suppose, the ship I came in. Luckily it was well equipped. After the routing error, we had enough supplies to set up a self-sustaining station on the nearest rock. We knew there was no going back, but at least we could make some kind of life for ourselves here"
"And after that?"
>"We had enough to do just keeping ourselves alive, the first few years. But then another ship came through the aperture. Damaged, drifting, much like the Harmonia. We hauled her in, warmed her crew, broke the news to them"
"How'd they take it?"
>"About as well as you'd expect. A couple of them went mad. Another killed herself. But at least a dozen of them are still here"
>"In all honesty, it was good for us that another ship came through. Not just because they had supplies we could use, but because it helped us to help them. Took our minds off our own self-pity. It made us realize how far we'd come, and how much help these newcomers needed to make the same transition."
>"That wasn't the last ship, either. We've gone through the same process with eight or nine others, since then"
>Nasapone looked at me, her head cocked against her hoof
>"There's a thought for you, Anon"
"There is?"
>"It's difficult for you now, I know. And it'll be difficult for you for some time to come. But it can help to have somone else to care about. It can smooth the transition"
"Like who?"
>"Like one of your other crew members. You could try waking one of them, now"
Aight, that's it for now.
I'll post the final part tomorrow.
Thanks. Are you going too post this to ponepaste when you're done?
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Yeah ill post a link when im done
That's good to know.
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her cutie mark looks like an orange cut in half
>you begin the trivial walk from the carousel boutique, burlap in tow- to the friendship castle.
>The door opens with a dull crystalline shriek and you inspect your pile of various dull materials contrasted by the bright colors of the castle.
>On top sits a little pink note, in twilights """""Handwriting""""" that says, simply "Impress me with all this unimpressive stuff!"
>You smirk, folding up the note and placing it into your wallet.
>You'll need a saw for the piping and a hammer, and a way to mount the crap to the walls.
>twilights probably got all the stuff you need.
>and with that- you grab the nearest hallway and begin your trek to find the book horse.
>What followed- naturally, was the longest walk of your week, up and down stairs, through bedrooms and out bathrooms, down libraries and up office spaces.
>all seem to be just 'thought up' as a good idea, even though none of them see use.
>except a couple bedrooms. And rarity- who's on a mission to bathe in every bathroom atleast once.
>You reckon, she's only about 16 bathrooms In with no end in sight.
>After about 35 minutes of walking, resting, drawing, and reading, you find twilight's quarters.
>You knock. And you hear a couple bedsheets rustle, the thump of a horse hitting the floor- the same thump on the ceiling, and a couple of gallops before she finally says "On my way!"
"What a relief, I almost thought you weren't home!"
>you hear her giggle from the other side. A sink turns on.
>the door opens, you get a whiff of incense smoke and berries, and twilight, wild looking, her mane only barely held together by a bit of water splashed on and combed in.
>"You look great anon!"
"You look even better!"
>You both laugh.
>"Sorry, I was awake all night reading this new series I found. Its on the study of mechanical potential energy and the application of counterweights as a-"
>"Yeah, I know- I almost decided to read every /other/ page to get to sleep, but it was so captivating!"
"Honestly, good for you."
>You outstretch your finger to rest one inch from her snoot, and she leans forward to be booped, then tries to snap at it like a mischievous dog."
>you both laugh again.
"Here twilight, take me back to the main hall, I want your help with a couple things."
>she immediately begins to open her mouth in protest.
>your finger, still up, makes the 'shhh' sign on her snoot.
"It won't ruin the surprise."
>wordlessley, she nods, and smiles.
"come on- you're in front. You have no idea how long ive been looking for your room."
>and with that- you both head out to find the lobby.
>It only takes twilight about 10 minutes to find the lobby, and only one bathroom stop.
"Alright, nice- here we are. Okay- check it out. You see this pile of crap?"
>"Yes I see it!" she states, proudly.
"So I want to run these pipes along the wall here, I need it to run some of this copper here-"
>You point at the corner.
"I need two wires running to here."
>you point where you're standing.
"And I need then- a conduit of 3 wires running from here to over there."
>you point at the kitchen.
"keep it out of reach, I don’t want people touching the copper. Touching the ceramic is fine"
>Twilights taking notes at this point, taking mental images of how it will run along the ceiling and such.
>She levitates a bit of the mess and then takes inventory of the length of the copper wiring, and nods.
>"we should have about 400 legs left of copper wire."
"Yep yep."
>Legs, you learned early, is a bit less than 2 and a half feet, it's approximately the length of Celestia's leg, 1200 years ago.
>Legs are divided into hooves, and further into shoes.
>Weight is first, made from the weight of 4 of Celestia's horse-shoes. Which are actually called eyes, and then divided into tears, and further into tenth's of a tear, thousandths of a tear. So on and so fourth.
>You're gonna bring imperial measurements into this world at some point, since French metric measurements make too much sense.
>And while, lost in thought- Twilight has already put up a pile of the equipment and glued it using some mounting puddy she made out of the wax and a bit of magic.
>Right! The magic.
"Hey- Twiggles."
>She turns her head, still levitating a pile of the raw materials, organizing them on the wall.
"I need you to heat proof some wax, and put it on the wire, and coat that little pile of copper there-"
>you point at the machine.
"I only want it to not melt once applied."
>She nods again.
"Don't you worry this is gonna be awesome."
>she smiles and gets to it.
>Watching twilight levitate that crap with her magic, you finally figure out what you're gonna do.
>You're gonna need some finely machined steel ball bearings and a bit more copper windings, and a lightbulb
>Finally satisfied, you leave Twilight to knock that shit out and get back to sleeping.
>And with that- you need the DC and AC machine from burly, so you can get to rigging things up.
>So- with a smile, you turn around, and head towards the door.
"Gonna pick up the final bits for this, ill be back. I think it'll be ready tomorrow."
>"I'm excited, anon- great to see you becoming the inventor I always knew you'd be!"
>"You see, I read this book the other day on alien technology, everything you claimed was sort of in my novel, they made a big mechanical fish, and a big mechanical bird out of brass and glass, so cool!"
>You feed off her energy, smile, and step with some pep out the door towards the ironworking shop.
>You smile, looking at the bees, the trees, and the flowers, ponies buying said flowers from a stand, and eating out with their friends.
>You spot an icecream stand, and decide to grab a little something for you and burly.
>approaching the icecream stand, for the first time- you produce your bit wallet, and drop about 4 coins on the table.
>after scanning the paper menu on the table, you order.
"Two scoops vanilla, in a bowl, with chocolate drizzle, and a neapolitan split."
>The mare behind the counter looks at you with her lazy eye, looks down on the table. And looks back up.
>"I must be seeing double, this is twice as much as the price is."
>You look back at the paper menu, spotting the little tag that says "All ice cream, one bit- picc and choose, silly- don't be shy!"
>you smile at the typo.
"Call it a tip. Get yourself some ice-cream too."
>She smiles brightly, and takes the money.
>"You're too kind! Let me get you your ice cream."
>the grey mare turns around, her blonde, spiked up tail follows her flank as she does.
>its easy to spend when its not your money.
>After a moment, she turns with the ice cream, and slides it over with her snout.
"Thank you, kind stranger!"
>"Oh- my- call me Derpy, see right here on my name tag!"
>She points to a spot on her fur where she would put her name tag, if she had one.
>It quickly dons on her that she lost her identity.
>Embarrassed- she quickly starts looking for it.
>In the shuffle, you see you're piling a line up, so you take your ice cream and leave.
>just before setting off, you let her know behind the counter that your name is Anon.
>she simply says "Yes!" while you turn to leave.
>as the next pony is steeping up, you realize you don’t have spoons.
>It'll be fine, you expect, so you continue onto the shop.
>You inspect the chimney, see there's no smoke billowing, and head inside.
>You reckon its about 4pm, he might be eating.
>Your suspicion is quickly confirmed as you see a tray of apples, peeled and sliced, sitting next to a spot of honey.
>Burly is nowhere to be found, but he quickly appears from the shop. He sees you, with the ice-cream- nonetheless, and smiles.
"Hey hey!"
>"Howdy, anon. got that stuff from applejack. Really nice mare!"
"Oh, you don’t know the half of it. Did you know that one time she made me breakfast in bed?"
>"Wow! I really didn’t know she could cook!"
"Yeah, great mare. Ill tell you the details later, how are the machines?"
>"Oh- just swell, I made up a rig for wrapping the copper this morning, and its working like a champ, even though I'd really like one of these motors to spin it instead of me having to use a pedal."
"Well, once I figure out how to make a battery, it'll be a reality!"
>"good stuff, let me get you your equipment."
>And with that, he leaves you with your ice cream.
>You slide the Neapolitan split over.
>You decided that it has enough crap in it that he'd find something to like.
>You thought you were gonna wait a bit, so you sat down.
>You're right, you find- as fifteen minutes later, your ice cream is gone- and he finally lugs one in.
>"sorry about the wait, I found a little issue with the windings, so I fixed it- here you go."
>You take a look up and down at the machine, long and sturdily built, one side has the 3 clips for the poles, and the other has 2, confirming that it looks good.
>"See here, I have this little accessory shaft here for putting a couple of different things on it, you can use it to drive a belt, a chain, or take input from a crank or- really anything that can couple to it."
>"she is heavy though, so watch out. Do you need somepony to take it over."
"ill take it, I bet it'll be fine."
>Whilst saying that, you grab the machine by both sides, and heave up.
>it wasn’t that bad, you decide- and you place it back down.
"Yeah- itll be fine."
>You sit down, and he notices the split.
>"ooh- this looks great!"
"yeah, its got a bunch of crap on it. I expect you'd find something to love about it."
>"Oh yeah- love the sweet stuff, as you can tell."
>he begins tearing into the ice cream with his mouth, not bothering to go find a spoon.
>You reflect on the possibility to produce plastic crap, but you decide that keeping fossil fuels in the ground is the best way.
>If you're gonna share human technology with Equestria, you'd might as well make it clean enough to not kill the bees.
>with that- you talk a bit with burly a bit more, discuss the output machine, just a large conductor transformer that is made to spit electricity out at random, and the bulb of glass that lights up when current is applied, you agree on a design, and head out with the heavy machine.
>soon, you're back to the castle of friendship.
>you set it down by the pile of crap, and spot the leftover enchanted wax.
>On it is another note, explaining that it wont get hard until it touches copper, and then it'll solidify and begin insulating.
>With a not, you begin scooping the liquid onto the machine.
>It was thick, but rolled off your hand like water.
>Extremely satisfying to work with!
>Soon, all the machines are done, finally, and all that’s left is to wire it up and see if everything turns when you spin the wheel.
>the wires run easily, and connect up to the poles, you spin them and coil them up to verify the connection to the poles, and then apply more of the insulation.
>soon, the whole room is wired up, and the machines all have a couple of offshooting wires that are meant to go to the tesla coil and the lightbulb.
>if literally summoning light and lightning doesn't impress her, then it's back to the drawing board.

greens updated. if its going to slow speak up, i have plans to shift away from the nitty gritty of how shit works and move into actually creating a bunch of interworking technology and equipment, doing story elements and all that.
>Take 2
I'm just curious, is it recommended to read Take 1? I noticed it was Really long, so it will take a while to catch up if so.
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oh its basically a totally different green, it was written back in 2016 when i was a bit rougher around the edges, i would have continued it further but i kind of steered it down a path that i didnt like. i reccomend reading it if you want- let me know if it stands at all.

Its more or less undetailed when it comes to the actual gritty of machines, and uses the story element of a portal back to earth, where he can get the resources to continue his inventing. i like that concept still, and might even bring it back. anyway- how bad can it be?
>NASAPONES'S WITH me when I pull Apogee out of the surge tank
>"Why her?"
"Because I want her out first"
>I say this wondering if Nasapone is jealous. I don't blame her tho: Apogee's beautiful, but she's also smart. There isn't a better syntax runner in Equestria Industrial.
>"What happened?" Apogee asks, when she's over the grogginess.
>"Did we make it back?"
>I ask her to tell me the last thing she remembers.
>"Customs" she says
>"Those pricks on Atlas"´
"And after that? anything else? The runes? Do you remember casting them?"
>She then picks up something in my voice. The fact that i might not be telling the whole truth, or telling her all she needs to know
>"Anon. I'll ask you again. Did we make it back?"
>A minute later we're putting Apogee back into the Tank
>It hasn't worked first time. Maybe next try.
>BUT IT KEPT not working with Apogee. She was always cleverer and quicker than me; she always had been.
>As soon as she came out of the tank, She knew that we'd come a lot further than Orion sector. She was always ahead of my lies and excuses.
"It was different when it happened to me"
>I told Nasapone, when we were lying next to each other again, days later, with Apogee still in the tank
"I had all the nagging doubts she has, I think. But as soon as I saw you standing there, I forgot all about that stuff"
>Nasapone nodded. Her mane fell across her face in dishevelled, sleep-matted curtains. She had a strand of it between her lips
>"It helped, seeing a friendly face?"
"Took my mind off the problem, that's for sure"
>"You'll get there in the end. Anyway, from Apogee's point of view, aren't you a friendly face as well?"
"Maybe. But she'd been expecting me. You were the last person in the world I expected to see standing there"
>Nasapone touched her hoof against the side of my face. Her smooth coat slid against stubble.
>"It's getting easier for you, isn't it?"
"I don't know
>"You're a strong man, Anon. I knew you'd come through this."
"I haven't come through it yet"
>I felt like a tightrope walker halfway across Neighagra Falls. It was a miracle I'd made it as far as I had.
>But that didn't meant I was home and dry.
>Still, Nasapone was right. There was hope. I'd felt no crushing spasms of grief over Luna. All I felt was a bittersweet regret, the way one might feel about a broken heirloom or long-lost pet.
>I felt no animosity towards Luna, and I was sorry that I would never see her again. Or at least what she was. But I was sorry about not seeing a lot of things. Maybe it would become worse in the days ahead. Maybe I was just postponing a breakdown.
>I didn't think so.
>In the meantime, I continued trying to find a way to deal with Apogee. She had become a puzzle that I couldn't leave unsolved. I could have just woken her up and let her deal with the news as best as she could, but that seemed cruel and unsatisfactory.
>Nasapone had broken it to me gently, giving me time to settle into my new surroundings and take that necessary step away from Luna. When she finally broke the news, as shocking as it was, it didn't shatter me. I'd already been primed for it, the sting taken out of the surprise.
>Sleeping with Nasapone obviously helped. I couldn't offer Apogee the same solace, but I was sure that there was a way for us to coax Apogee to the same state of near-acceptance.
>Time after time we woke her and tried a different approach. Nasapone said there was a window of a few minutes before the events she was experiencing began to transfer into long-term memory. If we knocked her out, the buffer of memories in short-term storage was wiped before it ever crosses the hippocampus into long-term recall.
>Within that window, we could wake her up as many times as we liked, trying endless permutations of the revival scenario.
>At least that was Nasapone told me
"We can't keep doing this indefinitely"
>"Why not?"
"Isn't she going to remember something?"
>"Maybe. But I doubt that she'll attach any significance to those memories. Haven't you ever had vague feeling of déjà vu coming out of the surge tank?"
>"Then don't sweat about it. She'll be all right. I promise you"
"Perhaps we should just keep her awake, after all"
>"That would be cruel"
"It's cruel to keep waking her up and shutting her down, like a toy doll"
>There was a catch in her voice when she answered me.
>"Keep at it, Anon. I'm sure you're close to finding a way, in the end. I'ts helping you, focusing on Apogee. I always knew it would"
>I started to say something, but Nasapone pressed here hoof to my lips
>NASAPONE WAS RIGHT about Apogee. The challenge helped me, taking my mind off my own predicament. I remembered what Nasapone had said about dealing with other crews in the same situation, before the Harmonia put in.
>Clearly she had learned many psychological tricks: gambits and short cuts to assist the transition to mental well-being.
>I felt a slight resentment at being manipulated so effectively. But at the same time I couldn't deny that worrying about someone else had helped me with my own adjustment.
>When, days later, I stepped back from the immediate problem of Apogee, I realized that something was different. I didn't feel far from home. I felt, in an odd way, privileged. I'd come further than almost anyone in history. I was still alive. And there were still people around to provide love and partnership and a web of social relations.
>Not just Nasapone, but all the other unlucky souls who had ended up at the station.
>If anything, there appeared to be more of them than when I had first arrived.
>The corriedors, sparsely populated at first, were increasingly busy, and when we ate under the dome, under the Milky Way, we were not the only diners.
>I studied their lamp-lit faces, comforted by their vague familiarity, wondering what kinds of stories they had to tell; where they'd come from, who they had left behind, how they had adjusted to life here.
>There was time enough to get to know them all. And the place would never become voring, for at any time, as Nasapone had intimate, we could always expect another lost shop to drop through the aperture
>Tragedy for the crew, but fresh challenges, fresh faces, fresh news from home, for us.
>All in all, it wasn't really so bad.
>Then it clicked
>It was the pony cleaning out the fish that did it, in the lobby of the hotel.
>It wasn't just the familiarity of the process, but the pony himself.
>I'd seen him before. Another pond full of diseased carp. Another hotel.
>Then I remembered Alma's bad teeth, and recalled how they'd reminded me of another pony I'd met long before.
>Except it wasn't another pony at all. Different name, different context, but everything else the same.
>And then I looked at the other diners, really looked at them, there was no one I couldn't swear I hadn't seen before. No single face that hit me with the force of utter unfamiliarity.
>Which left Nasapone.
"Nothing here is real, is it?"
>She looked at me with infinite sadness and shook her head
"What about Apogee?"
>"Apogee's dead. Pleiades is dead. They died in their surge tanks"
"How? Why them, and not me?"
>"Something about particles of paint blocking intake filters. Not enough to make a difference over short distances, but enough to kill them on the trip out here"
>I think some part of me always suspected. It felt less like a shock than brutal disappointment
"But Apogee seemed so real. Even the way she had doubts about how long she'd been in the tank... even the way she remembered previous attempts to wake her"
>The glass ponniquin approached our table. Nasapone waved him away
>"I made her convincing, the way she would have acted"
"You made her?"
>"You're not really awake, Anon. You're being fed data. This entire station is being simulated"
>I sipped my wine. I expected it to taste suddenly thin and synthetic, but it still tasted like pretty good wine
"Then I'm dead as well?"
>"No. You're still alive. Still in your surge tank. But I haven't brought you to full consciousness yet"
"All right. The truth this time. I can take it. How much is real? Does the station exist? Are we really far out as you said?"
>"Yes. The station exists, just as I said it does. It just looks... different. And it is in the Large Magellanic Cloud, and it is orbiting a brown dwarf star"
"Can you show me the station as it is?"
>"I could. But I don't thin you're ready for ti. I think you'd find it difficult to adjust"
>I couldn't help laughing
"Even after what I've already adjusted to?"
>"You've only made half the journey, Anon"
"But you made it"
>"I did, Anon. But for me it was different". Nasapone smilled "For me, everything was different"
>Then she made the light show change again. None of the other diners appeared to notice as we began to zoom in towards the Milky way, crashing towards the spira, ramming through shoals of outlying starts and gas clouds.
>The familiar landscape of the Local Bubble loomed large.
>The image froze, the Bubble one amongst many such structures.
>Again it filled with violent red scribble of the aperture network. But now the network wasn't the only one. It was merely one ball of red yarn amongst many, spaced out across tens of thousands of light-years. None of the scribbles touched each other, yet-in the way they were shaped, in the way they almost abutted against each other, it was possible to imagine that they had once been connected.
>They were like the shapes of continents on a world with tectonic drift.
>"It used to span the galaxy. Then something happened. Something catastrophic, which I still don't understand. A shattering, into vastly smaller domains. Typically a few hundred light-years across"
"Who made it?"
>"I don't know. No one knows. They probably aren't around any more. Maybe that was why it shattered, out of neglect"
"But we found it. The part of it near us still worked"
>"All the disconnected elements still function. You can't cross from domain to domain, but otherwise the apertures work as they were designed to. Barring, of course, the occasional routing error"
"All right. If you can't cross from domain to domain, how did the Harmonia get this far out? We've come a lot further than a few hundred light-years"
>You're right. But then such a long-distance connection might have been engineered differently from the others. It appears that the links to the Magellanic Cloud were more resilient. When the domans shattered from each other, the connections reaching beyond the galaxy remained intact"
"In which case you can cross from domain to domain. But you have to come all the way out here first"
>"The trouble is, not many want to continue the journey at this point. No one comes here deliberately, Anon"
"I still don't get it. What does it matter to me if there are other domains? Those regions of the galaxy are thousands of light-years form Earth, and without the apertures we'd have no way of reaching them. They don't matter. There's no one there to use them"
>Nasapone's smile was coquettish, knowing
>"What makes you so certain?"
"Because if there were, wouldn't there be alien ships popping out of the aperture here? You've told me the Harmonia wasn't the first through. But our domain, the one in the Local Bubble, must be outnumbered hundreds to one by all the others. If there are alien cultures out there, each stumbling on their own local domain, why haven't any of them ever come through the aperture, the way we did?"
>Again that smile. But this time it chilled my blood
>"What makes you think they haven't, Anon?"
>I reached out and took her hoof, the way she had taken my hand. I took it without force, without malice, but with the assurance that this time I really, sincerely meant what I was about to say
"Show me. I wan't to see things as they really are. Not just the station. You as well"
>Because by then I'd realized. Greta hadn't just lied to me about Apogee and Pleiades. She'd lied to me about the Harmonie as well. Because we were not the latest ponykind ship to come through
>We were the first
>"You want to see it?"
"Yes. All of it"
>"You won't like it"
>"I'll be the judge of that"
>"All right, Anon. But understand this. I've been here before. I've done this a million times. I care for all the lost souls. And I know how it works. You won't be able to take the raw reality of what's hapenned to you. You'll shrivel away from it. You'll go mad, unless I substitute a calming fiction, a happy ending"
"Why tell me that now?"
>"Because you don't have to see it. You can stop now, where you are, with an idea of the truth. An inkling. But you don't have to open your eyes"
"Do it"
>Nasapone shrugged. She poured herself another measure of wine, then made sure my own glass was charged"
>"You asked for it"
>We were still holding hands, two lovers sharing an intimacy. Then everything changed.
>It was just a flash, just a glimpse. Like the view of an unfamiliar room if you turn the lights on for an instant. Shapes and forms, relationships bewtween things. I saw caverns, wormed-out and linked, and things moving through those caverns, bustling along with the frantic industry of moles or termites. The things were seldom alike, even in the most superficial sense.
>Some moved via propulsive waves of multiple clawed limbs. Some wriggled, smooth plaques of caparace grinding against the glassy rock of the tunnels.
>The things moved between caves in which lay the hulks of ships, almost all too strange to describe.
>And somewhere distant, somewhere near the heart of the rock, in a matriarchal chamber all of its own, something drummed out messages to its companions and helpers, stiffly articulated, antler-like forelimbs beating against stretched tympana of finely veined skin, something that had been waiting here for eternities, something that wanted nothing more than to care for the souls of the lost.
>LUNA'S WITH APOGEE when they pull me out of the surge tank.
>It's bad, one of the worst revivals I've ever gone through. I feel as if every vein in my body has been filled with finely powdered glass. For a moment, a long moment, even the idea of breathing seems insurmountably difficult, too hard, too painful even to contemplate.
>But it passes, as it always passes
>After a while I can not only breathe, I can move and talk
>"Easy, Skip." Apogee says.
>She leans over the tank and starts unplugging me. I can't help but smile. Apogee's smart, there isn't a better syntax runner in Equestria Industrial, but she's also beautiful. It's like being nursed by an angel
>I wonder if Luna's jealous
"Where are we? Feels like I was in that thing for an eternity. Did something go wrong?"
>"Minor routing error. We took some damage and they decided to wake me first. But don't sweat about it. At least we're in one piece"
>Routing errors. You hear about them, but you hope they're never going to happen to you
"What kind of delay?"
>"Forty days. Sorry, Anon. Bang goes our bonus"
>In anger, I hammer the side of the surge tank. But Luna steps towards me and places a calming hoof over my shoulder
>"It's all right. You're home and dry. That's all that matters"
>I look at her and for a moment remember someone else, someone I haven't thought about in years. I almost remember her name, and then the moment passes.
"Yeah. Home and dry."
And that's all of it, hope someone found it interesting or something, ill make a small drawing later if i feel like it, good night.
Brainlet here, can someone explain what the fuck happened?

>Anon is the captain of a commercial ship
>an overlook by his part fucks him and his crew big time, like really bad
>Anon ends up beyond the Great Rift, which is basiacally the frontier of how far ships can travel
>Turns out there are Bubbles like that all over the place, each one being separated from the others
>Everything that Anon saw after waking up the first time is just a simulation
>In reality, "Nasapone" is an alien that took anon's previous love interest form to help him come to terms with his situation
>He is the first HUMAN to made it that for but not the first living being
>There are many other aliens that went thru the same experience and ended up in that "Station" like him.
>Everything "Nasapone" said about where they were is truth
>At the end "Nasapone" wakes him up, he sees how the Station and its habitants REALLY look like and freaks the fuck out
>"Nasapone" puts him to sleep again in another simulation and tries again.
oh... that's pretty sad
sorry for the typos, im really tired.
Well, sometimes life be like that
I regret using Luna as he love interest, i used her just because im a Lunafag but since she is immortal it feels kinda awkward to make anon ditch her just because he left for 300 years
Thanks for the green
will read this later
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Just checking in to report I'm still alive. Productivity has been good and the workflow streamlined except for one major hangup. And that is that I haven't written it yet.
This likely penultimate chapter is hard for me to write because I'm a colossal faggot. Anyone who's been with me for a while will probably see what the problem was when it drops.
Damn, I kinda want that too. Uh, I've got no plans at the moment to write it and given how burnt out I'm feeling, I'm in no condition to do any more longfics for the foreseeable future. If somebody else wants to take a crack at it I'd be willing to help, but I'm not counting on that. Maybe I'll give it a go some day down the line when I'm out of ideas.
That looks like it would make a sick album cover.
Thanks for the heads up. And thanks for still working to bring the story to a close even through your burn out.
>This likely penultimate chapter
Oh god, with how many things are still unresolved and with how long each of them would take to wrap up nicely ("nicely" - as in a way for the story to have a good ending with all our characters alive and Equestria safe and on it's way to recovery), I have a really bad feeling you're going for a "bad ending".
As for the problem with the chapter that you're having - I have no idea what it might be. After you finish this chapter, could you fill in this clueless Anon, if he fails to guess what it was?
>Wanting good ends for everyone
Bad ends are underrated, not everyone gets their happily ever after, so Lyra being gone and BonBon losing her mind for it, being jailed/killed and giving Celestia sorrow after Luna's possible death as it seems to be going towards would be fine imho
Holy fuck i thought this was a TiM thread what did you do WiK lma0
>Wanting good ends for everyone
Yes, I'm a sucker for happy endings, especially if they involve ponies. If anyone deserves it it's them. Can you blame me for it after the series this whole fandom is based on had a bad ending itself?
>not everyone gets their happily ever after
Yeah, but the way things are going now and with so little updates left it seems like the predictions you wrote are most likely to happen, which basically means that no one will have a happy ending. Maybe except Achlys cause everyone seems to forget about her and without Bonnie and Luna she'll have a much easier job conquering Equestria.
I'm not WiK Anon
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Im just saying, to WiK: holy moly bru
She really needs to put her goggles back in place.
What could possibly go wrong?
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Page 10 save.
the thread has lived to die another day
worst case she'll never need those goggles again
Cute Derp
She'll need no eyes anymore too. Sam Neil proved it's possible if you science your shit up enough.
I'm seeing nothing but upsides here.
Well, good luck on the other side, Anon.
I made something retarded.
You mean glorious.
May as well post this now since I've got nothing better to do. This one will be a little shorter than most of my updates, but I plan on making up for it by dropping another one pretty soon.


>”Why’s it matter that it’s two weeks out, anyhow? I’ve never kept track of that sort of thing.”
>”It’s gonna be the longest, hottest day of the year. Ergo, hell to be on the field if we don’t wrap this up quickly.”
>”Way I hear it, we’ll be out of here LONG before then. Might be out before the day is up.”
>”Yeah, let’s hope so. I mean, what’s the timetable here, Cap? What’s the sitrep?”
“I can’t make that call. Even if I knew everything, I couldn’t tell you, and I don’t know everything. Way I understand it is, everypony’s got a different job. We all do those jobs correctly, and in the right order, the city surrenders within the next twenty-four hours. IF we do it correctly.”
>”And if not?”
“Then we may well be here until the solstice. Our greatest advantage on this is the element of surprise. We hit them hard and fast, we strike at their leadership, we create zones of influence that are easier for us to control than for them to retake, and we can afford to do that given what’s at our disposal. But like I said, that’s not in our job description. The way I see it, it’s better that we DON’T know. The more we know, the more can be used against us in case something goes south.”
>”Not very intuitive, but I’ll buy it. All I’m really asking, Captain, is that when we make our play, what assurance do we have that the others will make theirs?”
“We’re synced up. We don’t interact except for when we need to, we don’t ask questions we don’t need the answers to.”
>”This sounds like a hatchet job to me.”
>”But we’ll be the ones that finally end this thing, right? We’re gonna win, right, Spitfire?”
“That’s up to all of you. You’re the elite team, you have your instructions. The ponies we’re going up against are equally elite. We stall them for as long as possible, take them out if necessary. There’s one pegasus we don’t touch, that’s our informant. There’s another, too, but it’s unlikely we run into him while we do this.”
>”Just seems like we’re running into a firestorm here, Cap. Why the rebranding? Why the hush-hush? If the point was to make sure the PAS knew we were coming anyway, why are we doing this shadow dance?”
>”Yeah, I wanna know that, too. What did the Chancellor REALLY tell you, Captain?”
“I already told you everything I know. You want to take it up with high command, be my guest. Go get court-martialed for disobeying a direct order. If you want to live in contempt of the military, go do that. Just because they know we’re coming doesn’t mean they know HOW we’re coming, or in what number. They saw me, that’s it. That was intentional, you all know that.”
>”And the concussion you got from the butt-end of that hick’s rifle? That was part of the plan, too?”
“Hasn’t stopped me from thinking straighter than the rest of you, if that’s what you’re asking. I mean, what is this all of a sudden? You’ve not all read the brief? You all didn’t know what this was when we were assigned to it?”
>”Not like that, Captain. We just don’t wanna be left with our tails up our asses if Thunders One through Eight, and Celestia knows how many other teams there are, fail to account for us. If we don’t know them, and they don’t know us, can it really even be said that we’re on the same side here?”
“Piss off, Soarin. Yes, the Chancellor knows what he’s doing. No, I don’t think he’d send us off on a suicide mission if he didn’t have a plan for extraction.”
>”I heard he didn’t have Senatori approval for this.”
>”What do you care if he did or he didn’t?”
>”I care if I’m about to go commit some war crimes, yeah, I care a little bit, Fire Streak. What kind of question—”
“Enough, you two. Instead of focusing on whether this’ll be legal or not when we come back home, focus on this: the Wunderbolts are said to be vicious in aerial combat. We know from our informant that there are twenty-two of them, we know their formations are impeccable, we know they work as a unit, but we also know that outside of simulations and field drills, they’re total greenhorns. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take them seriously, but we use that to our advantage come the engagement. We fight dirty. Maybe they don’t know how to handle that. Maybe they break. That’s where we excel, isn’t it?”
>”And their commanding officer? Why does the brief say she’s also not to be harmed?”
“She’s General Hurricane’s daughter. We can incapacitate her if need be, but she’s to be taken alive in case we need her as a hostage.”
>”Daddy’s little filly.”
“She’s the best of them, make no mistake. What we really need to do is separate her from the pack. The informant said that she’s to be dealt with specially, i.e. out of our hooves. She’s not our job, she’s somepony else’s.”
>”And they didn’t tell you whose.”
“I have no problem with that. You shouldn’t either.”
>”Well, what about the rest, then? Aside from the daughter, and the informant, what’s our level of engagement?”
“Like I said, we stall. That’s the official version, at least. You want to know what I think? Elimination, plain and simple. They’re too dangerous to make it out of there alive. The Wunderbolts die in a blaze of glory.”


>”I’ve been pondering something, Captain Dash.”
“Ponder away. We’ve got time.”
>You are Captain Rainbow Dash, also known as the Worst Commanding Officer Ever
>This morning, you received a message from High Command ordering a total recall back to Pegasopolis, and to abort your seek-and-apprehend operation for the two border-hoppers
>And why shouldn’t you abort, after all?
>To your left, Fleetfoot and White Lightning lay parallel on stretchers, their broken wings and hooves splinted together for immediate transport to the Militarbezirk Medical Center
>They’re tended by your comrades, who can do little more for them but wait for the extraction transport to arrive at its destination
>To your right, Ambassador Time Turner stands weakly, drained of energy from his recent medical incident
>What should’ve been a straightforward operation was marred by bad planning and a sudden storm which wrecked the entire illusion that you had things under control, and now you’re being recalled as a failure
>You know that’s not REALLY why you’re being recalled; of course they need the Wunderbolts on the defense if and when the Canterians mount their offensive on the city
>But it definitely feels like this was your chance to prove yourself, and you wasted it
>You couldn’t even find two lousy surface dwellers, and three among your expedition team nearly died trying
>How does that reflect on you? What must High Command think of you now?
>What must Hurricane think of you?
>Push it out of your mind, Dash
>Ready yourself for the storm…
“Huh? Oh. Sorry.”
>”You looked off in another world.”
>You regard Time Turner, who despite his recent near-death experience seems to be just fine in the snark department
“It comes and goes. I’m afraid I’ve failed you. Failed my comrades.”
>”You did nothing you could have prevented. From what I hear, you saved quite a few of your Wunderbolts in that storm.”
“I could’ve saved more.”
>You glance over at Fleetfoot and White Lightning, tranquilized and unmoving, and you know Time Turner is looking at them too
>”Console yourself, Captain Dash. We have bigger problems on our hooves.”
“Kinda worrying to hear you of all ponies say so. You seem like you always have a plan.”
>Above you, the harsh electric blue light of the transport interior casts a gloomy shadow over you
>The rest of the Wunderbolts line the walls in simple benches bolted to the grated floor, beneath which the exposed motor hums
>It’s a helicarrier, a fast-moving one at that; you requested it for evac when it became obvious that the injured weren’t going to be flying anytime soon
>”As I was saying, what I’ve been pondering is this: say, for the sake of argument, that our two missing Canterians were indeed attempting to enter Pegasopolis. And say also that the Canterian military moves on us at this very moment.”
“We’ve been saying that, haven’t we?”
>”Indeed. But their vectors crossed at the border, and supposing they aren’t working together their routes are much the same. We have evidence of the movement of the strays, but none of an armored division.”
“Not even with drones, according to Hurricane. We spoke over the phone earlier.”
>”I heard.”
>The conversation had been brief, and you heard no ill will in your father’s voice, but you KNOW he must be disappointed in you
>Even if he pretends not to be, it’s something he would’ve done better, and for you to have failed so spectacularly…
>”I see in your eyes where you place the blame for this mishap. It wasn’t you, Captain Dash. Your actions were those of loyalty.”
“Loyalty… what do you know about that?”
>”A great deal more than you can imagine, Captain. Mine is reluctant, which makes it ever harder.”
>Time Turner’s eyes glisten, almost as if they’re real flesh and blood, real emotion
>At the end of the day, he’s a golem puppeteered by the elements of himself which were never meant to be
>The machine at the heart of him, at the heart of all Exsilists
>The Living Machine… they’re ALL living machines
>All with their own plans, wheels within wheels
>If there’s anything behind those eyes, it’s this: that every move Time Turner makes serves one purpose
>And it isn’t the one he’s provided you
“You think they’re masking themselves somehow? The Canterian forces.”
>”Cloaking technology is beyond our reach, if that’s what you’re proposing. But if they are closing in, they’re not taking any anticipated path. They’re moving erratically and covering their tracks.”
“They can’t think they’ll take the city with just one contingent.”
>”Then they have several. And the tactics they use won’t be conventional.”
“Nothing’s been conventional in this war. And nopony’s been truthful either.”
>Time Turner’s prehensile tail grins along with him
>”Is that a veiled jab, Captain?”
“Hardly veiled. When we first met, I asked you to drop all pretenses. That was my condition for trusting that you’re here with me in good faith to weed out a rat.”
>”I did as requested, didn’t I? I’ve told only you of my true intention in coming here.”
“But you didn’t tell me everything. Why were you so interested in getting to know those two border-hoppers? Really. Why was it so important to be the first to get a stab at them that you could drop everything, the investigation into the traitor included, and tag along with us out into the middle of the desert? You left your bodyguards behind, for Gorgons’ sake. You’re single-minded here, Ambassador, like everypony.”
>”And you’re sharper than even I expected.”
>Your wings stiffen by your sides
>Pegasopolis is near, you can feel it
>You’re careful to speak in hushed tones to not alarm your fellow Wunderbolts, but it’s taking a lot of effort not to scream in Time Turner’s face
“Then spill it! They were important to you in some way you didn’t let on at the council meeting. You tacked on that request to shadow us on our mission as an afterthought, and my fa—Hurricane, allowed it. Was it the radiation incident? Is that what tipped you off? Did you somehow know for certain they’d come from it?”
>”Sharp indeed. But how could I have known something like that?”
“You tell me!”
>You hiss at him, whisper-shouting up a storm in this little corner of the helicarrier
“It’s your kind that has the ‘prophetic encounters’ and all that techno Maker mumbo-jumbo! And now that we HAVEN’T found the border-hoppers, what? You’re totally content to just drop it? You did something out there. Changed something, I don’t know what. Ponies don’t just drop dead and come back to life without a care in the world.”
>”I fainted. You know this.”
“You had no pulse! Blaze is our combat medic, she knows what a beating heart sounds like, and you didn’t have one!”
>”A condition of our being. These augmentations are fickle sometimes…”
“Bullshit. I want to know everything. Starting with that watch—”
>You point accusingly at the crimson face on Time Turner’s fetlock, only for your hoof to want to draw even closer, to touch it
>Like an instinct, it has a mind of its own, and you restrain yourself
>”This? It’s an heirloom. My father gave it to me.”
“Your slave father.”
>”Before that, he was a watchmaker. He died four years after the Exsilist assault on our town. I was but a foal, barely aware.”
“Why does it call to me?”
>”Beg your pardon?”
>Though he hides it well, you detect the slightest hint of… something, from Time Turner’s inflection
>As if he expected the question
“I heard a ringing in my ears when you first stepped off that blimp. I thought it was you at the time. But I get this feeling in my head like I need that thing, and I know it’s coming from it. Your watch. I… this is stupid.”
>”No, no no no. Not stupid. You want it?”
“Do I… what do you mean?”
>”I’m asking if you desire this watch for your own.”
“This is hardly the time for—”
>The cyborg stallion lunges forward, placing his hoof in yours
>Before the shock of what’s happening even registers for you, his muzzle is inches from yours, and his eyes are piercing and black, staring into your own
>His tail slithers along the grates, and his outstretched hoof…
>The watch, the crimson face, is right there, you’re nearly touching it, you’re nearly
>The white sunset
>”Do you know why I became what I became? This beast of flesh and steel?”
>”You’re nervous. You’re trembling. And you’re wondering why nopony’s seeing this happening, or interfering.”
“What do you—”
>”If you move now, you risk everything. There is a potent artificial venom in the tip of this tail, which—”
>The curved tip of that strange appendage leaps into the air towards you
>Millimeters from your sweat-glistening throat, it halts unnaturally fast, and you’re reminded that it’s a machine controlled by impulse, not some murderous snake
>”Is now poised to strike at you. To end you if you make the wrong move, or pretend not to feel fear in the presence of this thing.”
>”Are you still because you’re not afraid? Do you feel a sense of calm washing over you?”
>You look for calm, something that you can latch onto, but nothing’s there
>There’s only fear, fear that the legacy you’ve imagined for yourself is about to come to an end at the hooves of this, this…
>This traitor!
>”I am no traitor, Rainbow Dash.”
>What is he doing?! Is he reading your thoughts?
>Has he been capable of that all this time?
>”Only through great effort. So no. This is the first time I’ve needed to do it to you, Rainbow Dash. You generally wear your heart on your sleeve. But not when it comes to matters of valor. You pretend to be brave because you are brave. All bravery is playing at not feeling fear when it counts. But I need to know now whether you are afraid of this death.”
“Y-you can just look inside me, a-and see it, then.”
>”No. You must say it. Say it now. And do not lie to me.”
“I… I…”
>If you even breathe wrong, that sharp needle goes right into your artery
>If you move funny
>Your body tells you to move away, to fight back, but your mind…
>Has it really come to this?
>You don’t understand what’s happening, all you know for certain is that…
“I’m afraid of you. I’m afraid.”
>The piercing gaze lessens; the wheels in Time Turner’s mind are spinning, he’s contemplating you
>The watch is there… you could touch it, take it, you could run to the other side of this hold, have your Wunderbolts eliminate him in an instant
>”You still trust me, don’t you? Even after that. Inexplicably.”
“You goddamn… you…”
>”There is a smokescreen around us now. A slight suggestive power, begging everypony else in this hold to avert their attention from us. There are powers in this world which are beyond our knowing. The Exsilists, my mistress the Highmind Empress, believe that science makes possible things which we cannot even imagine. I am a living rectification of that statement.”
>Ambassador Time Turner, this thing which is before you, is miles high now in your eyes, he is bold and terrifying, and the red crystal he carries in his watch spans the universe with its glow of ages
>”MAGIC, the true magic, makes possible things of which we cannot conceive. My father lives in the face of this watch. His father, and his father’s father, all live in this face. Back to the age of the Makers, when this watch was gifted to my ancestor, who was himself the descendant of a great magician…”
“Stop… I c-can’t…”
>You can see, SEE, the images he’s conjuring for you, bathed in red but visible as though you’re peering into some other world
>That, or a dream
>Yes, this all must be a dream, but you KNOW the difference between dreams and reality and this is reality, this is real this is real…
>You see a red line, extended into infinity and negative infinity, points on that line which are ponies, stallions, some unicorns, some earth ponies, all stallions…
>Time Turner’s apparition gestures to one point on this line, and you see that past in front of you, a strange hat, stars and spells
>”Starswirl the Bearded begot a son, who begot a son, who begot a son, unbroken until the founding of the new era, the banishment of Celestia, her turn to Prophetess of the apocryphal faith of the Sun…”
“Let me out of this, I can’t listen to this, y-you’re a goddamn… a goddamn…”
>You see a massive, haggard mare with a rainbow mane, like yours, though this one flows in the wind like a star field
>Her wings are torn and bent, her horn cracked, her white coat filthy
>And yet her eyes speak of great satisfaction, like her purpose has been totally fulfilled
>She is surrounded by stallions with crowns, and the infinite line intersects one of them
>They, in turn, are surrounded by…
>By the Gorgons, they’re massive and monstrous
>Tall, lanky forms, upright, eyes beady and dark, watching and waiting, observing history as it unfolds
>”And when she returned to Old Equestria, and ousted the Unified Kings who had replaced her before vanishing into oblivion, she allowed a single one of them to remain, one she trusted because of his heritage…”
>You feel like you’re swimming
>Like you’re underwater, and the ripples are above you; you felt this before, you feel it now
>”His name was Kabardian, Rainbow Dash. He was the descendant of Starswirl the Bearded, who even you must know by name. He carried her gift into the west, following the Makers, founded ancient Exsilia, and he was buried on death but her gift to him remained in his very blood, his very bones. Passed to his son, who passed it to his son, who passed it on for eight hundred fifty years, on and on, until New Exsilia grew from the ashes of the old, grew like a cancer without agenda. Do you know why I took this form, Captain Dash? DO YOU?”
>He’s growing still, and his voice is the voice of hundreds
>Even though he’s still standing there in front of you, nothing if not his normal self, his presence is a million miles high
>His eyes are galaxies
>And even now, those forms are like giants even to him, their heads flaming with strange manes, their muscles bound by bristling flesh, their gazes predatory
>”To survive! To be more than a slave to THEM! I offered my soul like a lamb to slaughter because I could feel the light dying in this artifact of ancient memory, this… this elemental shape which belonged to me only in the sense that I was holding it for somepony else. That somepony, Captain, is… is…”
>And then, he’s small
>Infinitesimally small
>Smaller than an atom, at least from your perspective
>The power isn’t in him, it’s entirely in that thing, that crystal face
>It’s calling to you now, but you can’t… you can’t…
>You don’t deserve it… you know you can’t deserve it
>”I can speak no more of this. The fact that you were not calmed by its power, as everypony else is, has proven what I have known to be true. You are special to it. And you… you… I understand its intentions, but you above all others it senses to be worthy. It’s unexplainable. But if fate has been kind to me, if this is truly the time of reckoning, before the coming of the Beast, if the Summer Solstice is what we’re waiting for, then… then this you cannot know. And what limited power I am afforded, this must be… must… be…”
>You are Captain Rainbow Dash, and you’re riddled with guilt
>Guilt over White Lightning and Fleetfoot, for handling that situation in the desert so poorly
>Time Turner stands beside you, and though he’s tried to offer you some consolation you can’t take it to heart
>When you return to Pegasopolis, which last you checked was around twenty minutes out, you’ll have to explain your failure to Hurricane and High Command
>Your reputation’s on the line here, and when the Canterian military comes to face Pegasopolis, wherever they end up coming from, you’ll have but that one chance to redeem yourself
>After all, if you ARE to be your father’s successor one day, you must be loyal to your true self
>And those border-hoppers… if they’re coming to Pegasopolis too, they’ll soon be in your hooves anyway
>”Captain Dash?”
>You regard Time Turner, whose dark frame is highlighted by the glint of electric light reflected off his chrome appendages
“What is it, Ambassador?”
>”I am sorry. Truly sorry.”
“Sorry for what?”
>”For… for nothing. We must find this traitor and expose them. Only then can your father be saved.”
“What’s bringing this on?”
>”The time’s drawing near, Captain. You must reassess your surroundings. Think about everything that’s transpired. The key to this mystery is within you.”
“I don’t know who’s going to betray my father, if something like that’s even going to happen, and isn’t just your Empress’ delusion.”
>”It will happen. It’s as fated as the sunset.”
“I hope you’re wrong.”
>Time Turner sighs wistfully, turning his back on you and retreating into the shadow of the hold
>As he walks away, you sneak a glance at the pristine face of that mysterious red watch adorning his fetlock
>Seems like you were mistaken; you’re almost in Pegasopolis, not twenty minutes out
>Just where does the time go?


Done for now. Yeah, not the longest update, but it should give you something to chew on before the next one really ramps things up. Cheers!
Sure picked a hell of a date for an update
thanks for the green
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yay science buddies
#deca.mare update.
Thanks Sol.
This one may indeed be a little shorter than usual, but it just as interesting.
Poor Dashie's seen some shit.
>this is truly the time of reckoning, before the coming of the Beast, if the Summer Solstice is what we’re waiting for
Given what mess the land formerly known as Equestria already is, I'm really dreading how fucked up things will become once Nightmare is freed if it's prophesied as "time of reckoning". Fuck, 14 days to go and it feels like an eternity.
Is there a ponepaste? I have no idea what's happening.
"The Swirling Menagerie" in the OP
thanks for the heads up
man the board is moving fast today
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This but its black mesa
"The right pony in the wrong place can make all the difference in the world"
>when the portal to Equestria is actually in Equestria but it's okay because ponies decided to cross in the other direction
That gave me a thought. "Resonance Cascade " would make a good name for a pony.
"Everfree doesnt have to hear this, shes a highly trained professional!"

"We've assured the princess that nothing will go wrong"

"Theyre waiting for you, in the test- chamber~"

Oh my would this even be considered TiM?
I feel like a story involving ponies being manipulated into opening a portal to Xen would fit in with this thread.
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I choose the exit sign.
Another story!

Anon, a theoretical physicist and inventor is brought to equestria in order to advance equestrian technology for some reason:

Win a war For the good of ponykind

Or Something not so violent
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I don't think I get it.
Based on the ending of Half Life 1
>Anon ends up in Equestria from a portal created by the top secret lab he worked at
>He uses his knowledge to re create Black Mesa in Equestria in an attempt to make another portal and return to Earth
>Discovers Xen and starts harvesting the Xenium crystals after discovering they are composed of exotic matter
>An experiment with a crystal goes wrong and aliens from Xen start randomly teleporting
>Eventually Twilight or whoever pushed the crystal in goes to Xen to kill the Nihilanth
>Celestia ascends her for it
>Meanwhile Earth detects the energy from the resonance cascade and is able to open portals to Hearth
>Humans quickly invade Hearth to kill the aliens
>Anon is appointed interim administrator once the aliens are killed
>He elects to establish his administration in UN disaster relief city 17
Short cross post for an enquiry. Would anyone in this thread be interested in a continuation of the April Fools' side story in a similar tone? I wager it would be more fitting here as it would make heavy use of the proxy, and that sort of thing does not really belong into /nmp/.
I've only read a little of Deca Mare but I found your April Fools thing interesting. The RGRE thread had a similar idea a while ago where Littlepip and Blackjack were just friends running a tabletop campaign.
So yes, feel free to continue and post it here
I say go for it
I don't see how that doesn't fit /nmp/, proxy or not it's still interacting with a lovable pure "mare" right? If you feel the need to move then feel free to, still haven't read the April fools myself since I was only made aware of it after this last green post, but I'd never say no for more green even if as a side story of sorts, which I imagine it was considering the date
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Noted, thanks.
>I don't see how that doesn't fit /nmp/, proxy or not it's still interacting with a lovable pure "mare" right?
It absolutely is. The concept I have in mind is to have a side story that's set in the same custom universe, but doesn't have any direct impact on the general plot, i.e. it doesn't negate anything happening in Shape Your Home and can be considered "canon" to the story if one wishes to. But it doesn't have to be seen as such, meaning that no one loses any context of the larger story if it's ignored. Regardless, it's Anon x #deca.mare at the end of the day. Though the main reason why I'm not sure if it should be posted over at /nmp/ is because Anon uses the proxy more or less constantly in the story, and #deca.mare talks to him from the "off" most of the time. Which would fly in the face of my statement to use the proxy sparingly as to not distract too much from the man x mare aspects of the green.
Plus, I can guarantee it's going to be used as additional ammunition against me and the thread by a certain someone who loves to accuse me of all kinds of stuff in regards to writing a "stealth transformation fic". It's just draining to have that issue coming up each time Anon uses the proxy. And while I'm not going to let it affect my main story, I don't want to indirectly pollute the thread over there any further. /nmp/ is the target of enough shitposters as it is, and posting this side story here hopefully mitigates that sort of thing since the prompt is thematically suitable for this thread. And I know some regulars over here already follow the green, so that's yet another bonus.
By the way, what is the common acronym used for this general? Is it /tech/ or something else? Asking for potential tags on Ponepaste.
>what is the common acronym used for this general? Is it /tech/ or something else?
I've always used /TiM/ for "Technology isn't Magic" on the rare occasions I've had to use one.
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Careful there, friend. You're treading dangerously close to a story spoiler. ;)
Well I guess it's time to go rewatch the Matrix movies.
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I guess this was posted a few times before but still, this is what i would show twilight if i could:
I never seen that one
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>"Wow, thanks Anon, thanks to these machines, I have so much more free time now"
>"I was hesitant about it at first.. But y'allve really shown me that I can use these machines to not only do the work faster, but also better too. It saves us time, and money, and most importantly I can spend more time with my family."
"That was the idea Applejack."
>"S-so um.. Listen.. I was thinkin since you're uh.. So smart and all you wouldn't mind teachin me more stuff bout science and all that."
"You sure?"
>"I-i know I've been pretty ignorant.. But with you, learning seems a lot more fun now. And I wanna try new things with ya. U-um.. That is, iffin's y'all don't mind instructin a dummy like myself."
"Sure.. You're open to dating as well then yeah?"
>"That was more or less the proposition I was gettin at, but yes. Anon you've opened up my whole world. I can't thank you enough."
"You're gonna let me do lewd stuff right?"
>Aj blushes and looks away,
>"Aw shucks.. Well I suppose you city folk are a lot more open about that stuff huh? Sure, I guess it's on the table.. Let's see where it goes then."
...Go on
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up you go
This was cute. Thanks!
>AJ turn out to not be room-temperature IQ, but just a bad case of very poor education and not enough free time to solve that by herself
How will Twilight react when human science&engineering get mainstream but it's AJ that ponies turn to for explanations and theoretical discussions ?
On some level I think she'd be proud of AJ, but also desperate to catch up and learn all she can.
This possible story dynamic is also fun to think about.
I remember a similar image with a stallion at a heliocentrist booth who argues with the royal guard while Celestia stands in the distance doing a facehoof.
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this pic right?
Yeah that one. Thanks.
no problem
wik when?
A rare behind the scenes glimpse of the engineer Pinkie in action.
she puts a lot in designing and building those party cannons
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>Though I'm past one hundred thousand miles, I'm feeling very still
>And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
>Tell Anon I love him very much, he knows
>Ground Control to Nasapone
>Your circuit's dead, there's something wrong
>Can you hear me, Nasapone?
>Can you hear me, Nasapone?
>Can you hear me, Nasapone?
>Can you... "Here am I floating 'round my tin can
>Far above Luna's moon
>Planet Equus is blue
>And there's nothing I can do..."
"Pony Pills" replacing "protein pills" in the lyrics gives me some serious "Onions Green" vibes
>"Onions Green"
Well that's an annoying word swap.
maybe they're pills that turn you into a pony?
What a cutie.
#deca.mare update.
Page 10 save.
Thank you for the heads up.
Will read once I have some free time.
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Its sure a must know thing for woodland critters how nuclear reactors work.
Maybe she's teaching them how to run it? They may even do a better job than Anatoly Dyatlov.
God I love it so much I wish based writefag would continue it somehow, but I don't know how it would go. Militarized autonomous dyson sphere warfare? Nuking the magical egg dimensions? Fug, only thinking about it excites me.
Fuck I forgot who drop was, can someone help me out?
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>not a qwerty layout
I hate those
would you rather that keypad be in dvorak instead?
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at least that has a layout trying to minimize finger movement
ordering it alphabetically makes no sense at all
anon's memelord dad, what an absolute lad
For anyone who likes the tranhumanist angle of Steel Sactuary I cant recommend The Process enough. Starts off as horror but becomes very wholesome.

Good do I love this story. When I found factorio after the story was finished, I became fucking obsessed with it, being almost something like Steel Sanctuary: The Game, kek. And the massive amount of mods only makes it better, tho I wish there was some kind of pony mod.
>being almost something like Steel Sanctuary: The Game
Well wasn't Steel Sanctuary directly inspired by Factorio?
>pony mod
sadly these are the only ones I could find:
still better than nothing.
On the topic of pony mods, does anyone know what happened to the Starbound pony mod? I'd love to have some horses in space again.
ooooh a starbound pony mod? that sounds fun
Yeah, there's a pony mod with custom species, items/gear, and custom starter ships. Only problem is, the maker apparently didn't catch up with all the updates, leading to problems when bigger ships and similar things were implemented. No idea what its state is now.
Sad, but better than nothing, I guess.
Thought we had more autists dedicated to mod poners in, considering the relatively big community of factorio I estimated some dedicated horsefuckers would be within it as is with almost every bigger modable game.
ah that's a shame
To be fair people who make mods are generally in a super small percentage of a games community. So getting that overlap of mod maker and mlp fan is harder than it might otherwise seem.
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nice green, I like all the world building and switching perspectives to build suspense. cool to see nasapone too, this is the first time I've seen her in a green. whole concept really seems like the matrix, except anon isn't powerful enough to escape. but maybe in this case it's for the better since there is no civilization in reality to join. and at least this being wants to minimize suffering, not create biological batteries
this was fun to listen to
I get severe Borg queen vibes from this.
Oh god ahhhh, I keep coming here every morning expecting to post this new update before realizing that it isn't done yet. I keep adding new shit to it and it's getting a little long. I hope you guys liked the swapping perspectives from two updates ago, because this one's chock full of them. Expect it, uh, hopefully tonight or tomorrow, that's really how close I am. Cheers!
Looking forward to it.
Bump the tech.
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that is too much power for one pony
I want to give her a high five.
I think of the cybermen
AJ's looking fine.
Damn strong table
its too bad that looks like she's missing the fun bits
There are "other ways" to have fun.
she's just leaning on it. any old table can handle that
They can't be completely gone though. Apart from the "fun times", it's needed for basic bodily functions that no pony can abstain from. Pregnancy on the other hand could become a problem, depending on how much is augmented inside her.
Would they even give her a full pussy or would they just build something like this for her to piss with

Pardon my french, but that would be pretty shitty to live with for a living organism. I don't want to know it feels like to live with a permanently embedded enema. Besides, removing a horse vag would be a crime against nature.
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I have precisely zero knowledge what's happening in this image, but I do like the Akira-Class. It's one of the coolest non-flagship designs in the fleet.
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Incoming Green
“We are on the verge of something truly magnificent here. If only the politicians at home would abandon their greed and cowardice then, and only then, will we be able to accomplish a task our lonely race has hoped for since we’ve gazed into the stars.” -[Identity Redacted]

”The lonely filly still quietly made her way through the forest, unaware of the creature that stalked her.”
>You lean in close to make sure the school children were paying close attention.
>Their eyes gazed up at you with paranoid fascination.
>You flipped a page.
“She was so close, she could hear the rest of the fillies and colts playing without her, having continued their games as she went in to retrieve the ball from the woods.”
>You flipped another page.
“Then, her hoof got caught on a stray root that stuck out into the clearing. She fell and lost her grip on the ball.”
>Quiet gasps escaped the throats from several of the kids.
>One of them buried their face into their hooves and whimpered.
“She landed into the dirt, vulnerable and stuck. And that’s when…”
>Pause for dramatic effect.
“The Mare-eating Moth Pony ATTACKED! Gobbling up the young one who thought it would be a good idea to wonder into the Everfree without an adult!”
>The kids yelped and whined.
>A few of them huddled close or hid behind the pony closest to them.
>”W-what happened then?”
>A tiny colt, Featherweight asked.
>You leaned your face close to his, almost muzzle to muzzle.
“She was never heard from again.”
>Shivering, he gulped and backed away slightly.
>Composing yourself, you shut your book and place it to your side.
>Happy with your work your smiled and looked at the crowd.
“So! How did you guys like it?”
>”It was scary!”
>”I don’t wanna be eaten!”
>”I really need to pee now…”
>You chuckled. It seems the story had the desired effect.
>A tiny hoof raised among the crowd, waiting to be called on.
“Ah! Yes, Snips. You have a question?”
>”D-does the horrible Moth Pony live near here? I-it isn’t going to come out of the woods to eat us is it Princess Twilight?”
>You chuckled.
“Oh, no. Of course she isn’t! The Moth Pony only ever stays in the Everfree in the stories. And that’s all it is. A story. She’s not real.”
>”A-are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m certain. You’re safe. It’s just an old pony’s tale to keep you kids out of the Everfree. Which you SHOULD by the way. Pony tale or not, the Everfree is very dangerous, even with an adult.”
>You stomp a hoof for emphasis.
“In fact, that’s what most of these stories are for. They’re warnings for how to act. What TO do and what not.”
>”So I won’t grow mushrooms on my head if I don’t wash behind my ears?”
>A little colt asks.
>”A-and a giant kraken won’t pull me into the ocean if I get too close to the water?”
>Another one asks you.
>That one was new.
>”So why do our parents tell us this stuff?”
“Well, so you will all do the things that you’re supposed to to be healthy. Honestly in my opinion, the REAL consequences themselves are scary enough on their own.”
>You look to the ponies in question.
“So while there are no ear mushrooms or krakens, you should practice good hygiene because...well you’d smell bad if you didn’t. And you shouldn’t swim in the water unsupervised because you may drown.”
>Applebloom cries out. Pained by her sister’s perceived lie.
“Uh...no. Worms like apples Applebloom. You still need to check before you eat one.”
>”Alright, alright.”
>Cheerilee walks up besides you and gets the attention of the class.
>”All of you have had great questions for the Princess. She’s a busy mare however and unfortunately princess reading hour is over. Time for lunch everypony!”
>The kids all scramble to get up to leave the schoolhouse to fill their little bellies.
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>All saying goodbye and thanking you for reading to them.
>Now alone, Cheerilee approaches.
>”Twilight, thank you so much for reading to the kids today. They always love it when you come in.”
“Oh! It’s no problem. It makes me feel good to inspire these kids to love reading. I’ve been on a binge on some cryptids and other pony tales myself recently.”
>”Oh is that so?”
“Yep! It’s actually very insightful to see what our cultures have come up with to explain various phenomena in the past before science came in to explain them.”
>”Well, I’m glad to hear you’re having fun with it. Do you have any more news for me regarding the Princesses visiting next week?”
“Nothing new no. Just show up the day before to help with preparations and a clean school to show off.”
>You envelope your books in your aura and place them into your saddle bag, throwing it over your back.
>”Alright, I’ll see to it. Again Twilight thank you so much. Some of your stories have been a blast to hear for me too.”
“Thanks! If that’s all you have for me I’ll be on my way.”
>”Yep! Take care!”
>You left the school house and started down the street back to the castle, checking off the reading time on your checklist, grinning as you do so.
>Now that’s done, you and spike can complete the pre-preperation checklist for the Princess visit.
>After that of course is going to be checking in on Rarity to see how your dress is coming along.
>A scheduled and work filled day.
>As you like it.
>Idle hooves are Discord’s play things.
>Well, maybe now that Discord is a “friend” you should come up with another phrase?
>No, it was still very accurate.
“What the-”
>Something fuzzy ran underneath you and down the street.
>A blur of yellow and pink wizzes past chasing after it.
>”Mr. Wolpertinger!”
>Well, looks like duty calls.
>Using your magic, you levitate a crate from a nearby stall and catch the little rabbit bird that Fluttershy was after.
>Confused, the butter pegasus came to a halt.
>”Where did...oh! Twilight!”
“Hey Fluttershy! Looked like you needed some help!”
>”Oh yes, thank you. Poor Mr.Wolpertinger hasn’t been feeling very well lately and I need to bring him to the vet. He isn’t a very big fan though and ran off as soon as I got to the door.”
>The local animal caretaker brings her eyes down toward the animal in question.
>”Isn’t that right Mr. Wolpertinger?”
>The winged rabbit’s eyes droop and looks away from the mare.
“Aw, what’s wrong with the guy?”
>”Well, that’s what I’m trying to figure out. He’s been getting these awful leg cramps and has been gnawing at his hind leg for weeks now. Just look at him, he’s chewed away a bald spot back there.”
>Looking down you see what she meant.
>The hare had a distinct lack of fur on its back thigh.
>”Poor little guy has been complaining for weeks. No salves or cremes seem to help!”
“I’m sorry to hear that Fluttershy. I hope he doesn’t have a deep infection or something.”
>”Me neither.”
>She picks up the crate and cradles it on her withers.
>”Hopefully Dr. Fauna can help. And if Mr. Wolpertinger is a good boy, we’ll be in an out in no time. And I’ll make sure to give him a big juicy carrot as a treat.”
>The little critter squeaked.
>You giggled.
”Sounds delicious. Oh! Fluttershy, since you’re here. Do you have the all the birds necessary for the Princesses’ visit?”
>Fluttershy wiggled a bit getting the crate on her back into a more comfortable position.
>”Mph. I do. My little birdy friends have been practicing all week for their arrival. So much in fact that I may have some free time! That’s if Wolpertinger is feeling better that is.”
“Wellll...if the little guy is feeling better. I may need some help with decorations. If you’re free that is.”
>”Of course Twilight. I’ll tell you if I’m free. Come on little guy. Let’s go to Dr. Fauna. I promise it won’t be so bad.”
>”Check. Talked to AJ while you where out.”
>You were standing back in your castle looking at a blackboard with various notes and diagrams on them.
>Your loyal assistant, Spike, was helping you with the pre-preperation checklist.
>”Check! Pinkie Pie stashed all the streamers, banners, and other party favors in town hall for Sunday.”
”How about landscaping?”
>”The Flower sisters have gotten together with several other ponies to rake, mow, and plant several flowers down town.”
“Great. How about...uhm.”
>You scratched your chin.
“How about…”
“Ah yes. Music. Go ahead and put a check on that one. I ran into Fluttershy earlier.”
>The baby dragon taking notes looked up from his parchment.
>”What about Lyra?”
>Shoot. You haven’t talked to her in a few days.
“Oooooh. It’s been a while. I’ll have to see if she’s home when we go over to Rarity’s.”
>”I’ll just put that down as half a check then.”
>Spike scratches off that half check mark and looks back to you with a grin.
>”Alright! Other than your dress, that should be everything for today.”
>You turned over to Spike from your blackboard.
”Oh! Wow! We’re ahead of schedule! Rarity won’t even be expecting us for another hour and a half.”
>”I mean...we could always visit early...more time to help and talk to her?”
>A blush blossomed on his face. Thinking about the most beautiful mare in Equestria.
>You giggled.
“Sorry Spike, but you know how I am about being punctual. I told Rarity a specific time, I will be there no later and no earlier.”
>The dragons spikes drooped at this.
“Although, we CAN go and visit Bon Bon’s candy shop to see if Lyra is there. It will give us a chance to get lunch at least.”
>The mentioning of food brought Spike right back to attention.
>”Well, what are we waiting around for? Let’s go get us some music!”
>The bell above the shops door rung as you pushed it open.
>”Just a minute!”
>You and Spike entered the shop, the sweet smells invading your nostrils.
>Now, Pinky was a good friend, but you couldn’t be vulnerable to bias.
>Despite the brutal competition, Bon Bon’s Sweetshop was a damned good alternative to Sugar Cube Corner.
>In fact, certain items on the menu were just objectively better here. Specifically her cinnamon rolls.
>Even when Pinky had them for the first time, she had to admit, to her chagrin, that Bon Bon’s rolls were probably the best this side of the mountains, if not in all of Equestria.
>The mare in question finally walked up to the counter, rubbing her hooves on her apron.
>”Princess Twilight! What can I get for ya?”
“Two Cinnamon Rolls please.”
>You smiled.
>”Those will be right out, anything else?”
“Nothing that’s on the menu. Is Lyra here today?”
>The confectioner rolled her eyes.
>”Lyra? Did she not get back to you?”
>You shook your head.
>”That mare, I keep telling her to...never mind. No, no she isn’t. She’s in the park, either playing for bits or reading that book of hers.”
”Oh, well that’s fine. The Princesses won’t be here for several more days. Even if she didn’t practice, I’m confident in her.”
>”You more than me. Well, if you need to go and speak to her, do you want those rolls to go then?”
>You take your last bite into your roll as you walk into the park.
>”There she is.”
>Spike points out, crumbs spewing out as he talks with his mouth full.
>You follow his claw to a bench in a secluded corner of the park where the minty mare sat, reading a book.
>She looked up from her book.
>Noticing it was you she got a little flustered.
>”OH! Princess Twilight! Hey, I meant to get back to you but I-”
“Hey, it’s fine. I just wanted to check in to see how your piece for the visit next week is going.”
>”O-oh. Well, that’s coming along fine. I’m almost done with it actually.”
”That’s what I needed to hear. Any clue how long until it’s done?”
>”Um. Like, two more days?”
>Two days?
”Really? Lyra the Princesses are showing up Monday.”
>”Mhm yes?”
“And...today is Friday...will you have enough time to finish AND practice it by then.”
>The unicorn waved a hoof.
>”Pff, you kiddin’? I could finish it the morning of and still pull it off.”
>You raised an eyebrow.
“Are you sure?”
>”Of course! I actually would’ve been done since Wednesday if it weren’t for uh...some distractions.”
>Lyra glanced at her book then back at you.
“Oh? Whatcha got there?”
>The mare became visibly excited.
>She was giving you the look Rainbow would give a pony if they asked about her time in the Wonder Bolts.
>She grabbed the book in her magic.
>”This, is a book about golems!”
>A book about what?
>She grinned at you expectantly, assuming you knew what those were.
“Uhm...what are golems?”
>Lyra’s jaw dropped.
>”You DON’T KNOW what golems are?”
>You shook your head.
>”Wow, I mean, I know they are pretty obscure but, out of all the ponies in town, I would’ve expected YOU to know!”
“And why is that?”
>”Well, you’re a smart pony Twilight. You read a lot of books and stuff so I thought the mare who used to live in a library would’ve known!”
“Well...I don’t. Care to explain.”
>A smug smile spreads across the musicians muzzle.
>”I will gladly.”
>Using her magic to turn several pages, she stops on an artist’s depiction of the creature in question.
>”THIS is a golem.
>You scanned the image over carefully.
>The drawing depicted what appeared to be a bipedal creature made of twigs, leafs, and mud.
>The eyes were large and featureless, and the cheeks bulged out at the sides and it’s forelegs ended in sharp claws.
>”It’s a creature that’s made of the dirt and earth of the environment it lives in!”
>She turned another page.
>”See, this one is made up of mostly snow and ice.”
>Another page turned.
>”And this one is made of sand.”
>Spike got closer and spoke up.
>”Hey! I know these things! They were in some of my comic books!”
>Lyra sat back a bit.
>”Yea, they’re getting more attention these days. Which blows my mind with how old the myth of these guys is!”
>At the mention of myth you spoke up.
“Old myth?”
>”Yea. Well...I say old. They’re actually a relatively new myth compared to others like the Moth Pony. But I mean, 100 or so years is still pretty old!”
“Hey do you mind if I…”
>You extended a hoof, wanting to see if you could have the book.
>”Oh, sure, go ahead.”
>You took the book and flipped through the pages.
>The drawings and maps expanded more on the creature in question.
>This was so weird.
>You’ve never heard of this creature before until now.
>Hay, you were on a mythical creatures binge and none of your books mentioned anything about these things.
“Lyra, you said these were a myth?”
>Lyra nodded her head.
>You look back down at the book.
“I’ve never heard of these...golems, until now. Do you mind if I borrow this book?”
>Lyra looked at you quizzically.
“It’ll only be for the night. I’ve just been reading up a lot on mythical creatures recently and I haven’t seen anything about these things.”
>”Haven’t you now?”
>You shook your head.
>Lyra rubbed her chin with her hoof, contemplating on whether to lend it to you or not.
>It took her a minute to give you an answer or not.
>The thought seemed to genuinely unease her.
>”Well...normally, if it were any other pony, I would say no. But, since it’s you Twilight. I’ll let you borrow it.”
>”Sure. I guess I’ve been getting distracted by it anyways.”
“That’s great! Thanks! I’ll make sure to return it to you tomorrow.”
>”Tomorrow morning?”
“Sure thing!”
>”Great, hope you enjoy the read Twilight.”
“I’m sure I will.”
>You levitate the book into your saddle bag.
“I’ve got to be going now. I need to get an update on my dress Rarity has been making for me. So, two days right?”
>”Oh, yea. Two days and I’ll be ready.”
“Good to hear. I’ll see you tomorrow morning Lyra.”
>You and Spike wave bye to the mint colored mare as you headed to Rarity’s.
>You opened the door to your castle and drop your bags as you enter your room, Spike walking in behind you.
>”Alright, so music and dress are a check! And that’s with some time to spare!”
>A warmth filled your heart at that.
>The ponies in town have been so helpful with the preparations needed for when Celestia and Luna visit.
>All of them have not only taken the initiative to do their part, most of them have asked for MORE work to help out.
>It’s facts like these that make Ponyville feel more like a home than Canterlot ever could.
“Sounds good Spike, that means I have time to look over everything one more time to make sure there won’t be any hiccups.”
>”That ALSO means I have time to relax and enjoy the rest of that gem cake.”
>You rolled your eyes and giggled.
“Hehe. Let’s see how fast we can get through double checking FIRST, and then you can enjoy that gem cake of yours.”
>*knock knock knock knock knock knock*
>A rapid soft knocking was coming from the front door.
“Hm, who could that be?”
>”I don’t know. We checked off everything on the list.”
“I’ll go answer it. You get everything together so we can double check Spike. Faster we get this done, the faster we can relax.”
>Spike does a quick mock salute as you leave to the door.
“Aye, aye cap’n!”
>*knock knock knock knock*
>Who ever is at the front door must really want to see you, the knocks are getting faster.
>Opening the door you see your timid, butter colored friend.
“Oh! Hey Fluttershy! Do you need something?”
>”Hi Twilight, um, I actually want you to look at something for me.”
>You raise an eyebrow.
“What is it?”
>Fluttershy reaches into her bag and pulls out something in her teeth before spitting it out on her hoof.
>”Do you have any idea what this is?”
>You squinted to see what exactly was in Fluttershy’s hoof.
>It was a small green square that seemed to have golden lines snaking around it.
>In the center was an even smaller gray square and a plastic bubble next to it.
“What is it?”
>”I don’t know! Dr. Fauna found it in Mr. Wolpertinger’s leg. It’s apparently what’s been causing his discomfort. I was hoping you’d know.”
“No, I can’t say I do. Do you have any idea how it got in his leg?”
>She shook her head.
>”I have no idea. At first we thought it was a piece of twig or a rock, but it doesn’t seem to be made of anything I’ve seen in nature.”
>You take a closer look at it, noticing a very small, what you assume to be an engraving, on the smaller gray square.
>It was way too small to read though, you’d need to put it under a magnifying glass.
“You mind if I take a look at it?”
>”Go right ahead Twilight. I need to get back to Mr. Wolpertinger anyways. He’s recovering from his little operation, this thing was in his leg deeper than we thought.”
>You envelope the tiny square in your magic, intending to take it with you as you walked back inside when it dropped to the floor.
>”Oh, I’m sorry. Here.”
>Fluttershy bent down and picked it back up in her teeth, spitting it back into her hoof and holding it closer to you.
>Using your magic again, you envelope it in your aura to grab hold of it.
>Pulling back however did nothing except move your tiny cloud of aura.
“What the?”
>”What’s wrong Twilight?”
“I can’t pick it up with my magic.”
>”Oh...is it to small?”
“No. I definitely should be able to hold it with telekinesis.”
>”Well, that’s odd.”
>You stared at the little square. Growing very suspicious.
“You said you found this in Mr. Wolpertinger’s leg?”
>You tried several more times to pick it up with telekinesis, all failing.
“Here just put it in my hoof and I will look at it inside later.”
>Fluttershy hoofs you the small...what ever it is.
>”Thank’s Twilight. I need to go and take care of the animals now. I’ll talk to you later?”
>You nod without taking your eye off the square.
“Yea, uh-huh. I’ll see you Sunday.”
>”Alright, have a good night Twilight!”
“Yea, you too Fluttershy.
>You shut the door, still not looking away from the strange square now in your hoof.
“I think my night just got a lot more interesting.”
Okay, it's been several months since I've written anything. I've gotten all I could've got out of my short stories in this universe and I'm starting on the main one now. It HAS been several months so I'm probably rusty. So critique is welcome!

Good to see you back in action Salt
Ach, okay. Just checked and I'm up to a lot of words, so here's what I'll do. Since this update's already somewhat split into sub-parts, I'll post a little less than what I've got now just to tide over, and then post the rest at a hopefully soon-ish later date. It's already been two and a half weeks since the last update, I don't want to make you wait any longer if I don't have to.

>”So everything’s set, then? I thought the op don’t start until Thunder One gives the O-K.”
“It doesn’t. But that’s our only contact with another unit for the entire duration of this mission.”
>”Is there a reason you took me aside here, Captain, or do you just think I’m slow and wanted to reiterate?”
“Bite me, Soarin.”
“There’s something special I need you to do for me. Something the others can’t know about.”
>”Need me to, uh, get you in the fighting spirit? Maybe help you get the juices flowing, if you know what I mean?”
“I could break your forehoof in half before you count to one, soldier.”
>”But you won’t. ‘Cause you’re so infatuated with me.”
“Listen. We don’t have much time before pre-deployment. Have you ever heard of something called Project Pericles?”
>”Sounds above my paygrade.”
“I wasn’t being completely truthful back there when I said I knew nothing. The Chancellor let it slip from the outset when he consulted spec ops that something big was being deployed in the field for Operation Thunderstruck. A piece of hardware that’s barely even been field-tested, much less used in combat.”
>”But that’s somepony else’s job, right?”
“Right. But we don’t even know how many teams this operation has. For all we know, we could be flying in the dark right down the barrel of whatever the Chancellor’s going to do to these separatist pieces of shit.”
>”He wouldn’t authorize something that would put us in harm’s way.”
“You don’t know him like I do. Our job’s to take out the Wunderbolts and whatever else stands between the extraction team and General Hurricane. But who knows? It could very well be somepony else’s job to clean up whatever mess we make afterwards. Maybe clean us up too.”
>”You’re overthinking it, Spit. You said it yourself, we don’t ask questions.”
“He doesn’t have Senatori approval for this. I’m sure he doesn’t have any sort of writ to deploy Pericles, whatever the hell that is, and if it’s some kind of atom bomb times ten then we’re royally screwed.”
>”You think the secrecy’s to mask our own suicide.”
“No. I’m not gonna start thinking anything until I KNOW.”
>”The PAS knows we’re coming. I mean, they SAW you. That WAS intentional, right? You didn’t just say that to save face?”
“I did what I was asked to do. The Chancellor wants the enemy to hedge up all they’ve got, get everypony in one place. That can only be bad for us, no matter how you slice it.”
>”What am I supposed to do about it?”
“I was getting to that, asswipe. Look, once we find the informant, we’ve done our job. Either the Wunderbolts are all incapacitated, or all of us are. When that happens, and I mean the SECOND that happens, you round everypony up and get them as far from the city as possible. It’s not desertion if we’ve done what we came to do. But you’re not gonna stick around to see what the other Thunder teams have planned once the Wunderbolts are out of their way.”
>”Why’s this my job? What are you doing during all this?”
“Classified, sorry to say.”
>”Aw, c’mon. Don’t hit me with that red tape nonsense. We’re pals, ain’t we?”
“I just can’t, Soarin. If everything goes as well as we hope, then we’ll see each other on the other side like nothing ever happened.”
>”And if it doesn’t go the way we hope?”
“Then we’d better pray that Project Pericles is just some fireworks to celebrate our victory.”


>”Twilight Sparkle.”
“Numena? Is it you? Are you… are you here?”
>”The light, Whisperer. Come away from that light. It shines too brightly.”
“But you are a being of the light. A Solenoid. Your power is…”
>”My power is of no concern to you. I am occluded by that which you mortals see. As the Truth is by design occluded by the grand obligations of fate.”
“Yes… I-I know that. If I can see you so clearly now, in these visions, in these dreams… who’s to say that whatever’s between me and the Mother’s Garden hasn’t diminished?”
>”Your proximity to that power aids you.”
“The Element?”
>”You are connected to it in more ways than one, Whisperer in the Dark. Your friend Applejack is its rightful bearer, this is true, but you are the force which compelled them to unite. You are also a bearer in your own right, of a power that is not yet fully yours.”
“The Matron Celest’s advice… am I really following it correctly? She told me to find the Truth and see past it before I could make it mine. I still don’t understand that, Numena. I’m still so lost…”
>”And yet you are found. By myself, by the Prophetess and the Mother above, you are cared for and guided by our hooves. Is your purpose not clear to you now?”
“Yes… I must unite the Elements… then what?”
>”Then and only then shall you stand against the thing which has been foretold, the incarnation of all of ponykind’s past mistakes. History was irrevocably altered by one fatal happening, nigh on a millennium ago. If the happening were to be rectified, if the future might be freed by the suffering of the past, then perhaps the Prophetess’ dream might become reality.”
“I am away from the light now.”
>”Yes… you are away from that which binds you to your body. Your soul is welcome here. And look below. What do you see?”
“I see what I’ve always seen. I see the Depths, and what awaits me if I fail in my purpose.”
>”Not only if you fail, Twilight. You cannot be punished for failure, any more than suffering can be quantified. You will fail many times in this thing. You will bear a mark, but it will not be failure that gives you that mark. Your purpose is one of hope.”
“I have so many questions. As always.”
>”I cannot answer them. This is known.”
“You answered one before. This is important, Numena, I—”
>”You do not make REQUESTS of me! Of an Angel of the Truth! Of a reflection of Mater Herself!”
“I know! I know… I’m sorry… so sorry…”
>”You are afraid of what you have seen. You want an explanation, do you not?”
“The Exsilist… how can he possess the power he did? If it is what I suspect it is…”
>”It is.”
“How can he have an Element?”
>”The how of the matter is unimportant. But though he comes from a different tribe, his guidance was that of Truth. You are to find this pegasus mare, the one he described. When this is done, you will know where next to search.”
“And the city? Pegasopolis? What will become of it?”
>”You have seen it plainly. The Truth is not revokable. It cannot be altered. It encapsulates all time, all space. What you and Applejack have seen in your visions will come to pass.”
“Then I’m already too late. I can’t save them…”
>”You will save one. The one that matters most. They are not yours to save, Twilight Sparkle. Until you have gathered the Elements, the six seeds of prophecy, until you have brought to light the Prophetess’ ultimate course, you are but a pony. Nothing more, nothing less. Take this in stride. See beyond the harshest parts of the Truth, see only what you can change… and change it.”
>The light… the light beyond the shadow that is Numena’s form
>It’s blue… has it always been blue?
>Deep, dark blue, the color of the infinite void of space
>The color of the Depths, too
>As the dream state collapses from waves to single value, from the infinite to tangible, the question still lingers
>The one you wanted answered most from this being with all the answers
>How did this Exsilist…
>How could he possible possess…


>An Element
>A second Element, equal in power to the first, if not greater
>Though, if they are pieces of Celestia’s power granted to her by Mater Solis, can their energies really be compared?
>You start awake, terrified of the ample yellow light that penetrates what was just darkness
>You’re certain of it now, more certain than before; what you and AJ saw last night was no shared vision, no dream
>There is a pony, an Exsilist stallion, in Pegasopolis RIGHT NOW, who bears another Element
>He used it to communicate with you across space
>He projected himself as Mater Solis projects the Truth across the Sun, exposed only for those willing to look
>It can only be more evidence that you’re on the right path, that the visions Numena imparted unto you weren’t just guiding you towards your own Ascension, but rather towards the higher purpose of the universe
>That dream… that dream!
>That was a dream!
>Where are you now? Why were you even asleep?
>Who are you? Are you Twilight Sparkle?
>Or are you something more… something less…
>”Finally awake?”
“Had another dream. Another encounter with Numena.”
>AJ snorts
>”Shoot, I barely slept at all last night. And I wasn’t quite in the mood for no more encounters with ghosts, after what we saw.”
“That was no ghost. That was an Element bearer.”
>The haze parts away from your eyes, and you’re able to see clearly
>You’re still in the cave where it happened, still tucked beneath that outcropping, the sands from last night still piled up on the other wall
>The sandstorm ended right after the apparition vanished, but you didn’t bother clearing out an exit then, you were so terrified
>AJ was worse; you had to drag her against the wall, since she either wouldn’t or couldn’t budge on her own
>She was pale in the face, and her hooves wobbled; whatever she saw then, when the Exsilist touched her head and shared his Truth with her, apparently robbed her of her finer motor skills
“I’m sorry you didn’t sleep. If I’d known I would’ve stayed up. With how weak you were, I’d assumed you were likely to pass out any time.”
>”S’alright. Somepony had to get up and clear the mountain of sand off of Winona.”
“You can stand.”
>”I can stand. I feel fine now, or whatever ‘fine’ is when you’re in the situation we’re in.”
>You struggle to do the same, lifting yourself gently onto your hooves and dusting off your robe
>It occurs to you that you haven’t changed clothes in four days, you’ve been in such a rush
>The clean spares are in your saddlebags, but this one…
>You suppose the dust suits you now
>Wordlessly, you hike your saddlebag up over your flanks and join Applejack where she stands, at the narrow exit of this rocky alcove
>You walk together outside, where the sands from last night have covered all trace of your being here
>Except for Winona, who’s been freshly cleaned
“How far out are we now? I wanted to discuss last night, but…”
>”Right. The map’s not much to go by out here, but my rough estimate’s that the city will be overhead in just a few hours.”
“I can’t believe we made it this far. All other factors notwithstanding, I guess I thought we’d be caught by now. Escorted up in one of their flying machines.”
>”You really ain’t scared of them, are you?”
“Me? I’m terrified. But I do what I do because—”
>”Because Mater wills it. Got it. But not every mare would stick her own neck out for what she believes in. I respect that.”
>You blush; Applejack flashes you a smirk, then starts towards the truck, where you follow her
>”Y’know, Miss Sunshine, that’s a mighty big assumption you made.”
>”That what we saw last night was the work of another Element.”
“It has to be, doesn’t it? Numena all but confirmed it in my vision. As did the Exsilist. He’s out there somewhere, but rather than seek him out he wants us to find another. Somepony more worthy?”
>”Maybe he just came as a warning. Maybe he don’t want none snooping for him. That kind of power’s dangerous in the wrong hooves.”
“I don’t know. I felt… calm around him. Content, even though I felt as though I should’ve been afraid. And why should he have come to us, told us so much, if only to mislead us? We had nothing to go on to begin with.”
>AJ shakes her head as she climbs into the driver’s seat, and her body language tells you she isn’t quite convinced
>”The calm felt more like a side effect of whatever state he’d put us in than anything. Something to keep us from hightailing it outta there at the first sight of his spooky self.”
>Legs still wobbling, you stumble up into Winona’s cabin, saddlebag in tow, ready to face whatever’s ahead
>AJ flicks the starter switch, and the truck beneath you hums to life
>”This is gonna take some doing.”
>The sand is still piled so high up against Winona’s front grill that getting out of this little alcove is going to be tough
>After a few attempts at ramming against it, however, AJ finally succeeds, the front end lifting against the bump and careening down against the desert floor with a heavy thump
>Then, you’re back on the road, or at least what passes for a road in this part of the country
“I-I’ll be honest with you, AJ. These are all clearly points we’ve gone over before. What we’re doing in Pegasopolis, how it connects to the Mission, to the Elements, and now this new factor, knowing there’s an Element bearer in the city, knowing he plans to… well, I suppose to trade it off to somepony else he considers more worthy of its power.”
>”No guarantee of that.”
“My point being, the argumentation over it is all going to be moot once we make first contact. It doesn’t matter whether this Exsilist means us harm or good, and it doesn’t matter if the pegasi will treat us roughly or not. Either way, we must go into the city. Find a way, somehow.”
>”Our plan’s been loosy-goosy at best so far, so why change it up now?”
>You smile
“Precisely. We let the Truth unfold. We see past it.”
>”Easier said than…”

“Can she stand?”
>”Barely. But I’m not about to allow her that risk, even on your command, Captain Rainbow Dash.”
“She’s your patient. And what about—”
>”Still the same, I’m afraid. We’re monitoring her condition, but right now all we can do is wait.”
“Okay. Thanks.”
>Together with Lightning Dust, you stride out of the cramped medical chamber into the broad hall of the Militarbezirk medical wing
>Beyond the threshold, your fellow Wunderbolts are waiting anxiously for news
>All you can do is shake your head to assuage their combined nervousness
“It’s the same as before, ladies. White Lightning’s going to be out by this afternoon, no major fractures, just cut up good on impact. Doc just finished patching her up, in fact. Fleetfoot’s a different story. Her head got knocked around, might be concussive, might not. She sustained fractures in her left wing and foreleg, which is going to put her out of commission for a while.”
>”Lucky it wasn’t worse.”
“That’s right, Lightning. As for the rest of you, you’ve been briefed. You know your places. We’ve been tasked with the standing defense of lower Highstorm alongside infantry, to fall back to the central district if necessary. Stay posted in the area, you’ll be contacted when we’re ready for action. Dismissed.”
>With a mixture of forlornness and anxiety, your comrades scatter into their typical groups, whispering as they recede into the rush of the medical center
>Now, as usual, you’re left alone with Lightning Dust
>”I meant you, by the way.”
>”YOU’RE lucky it wasn’t worse. The two of them’ll be fine, but you? You’re gonna be in trouuuuuble.”
>That sing-songy mocking always sets you on edge, but in light of what’s happened you control yourself
“That’s not true. We were recalled to aid with the city’s defense. That mission was never pass-fail, and you know it.”
>”Although if it was…”
“If it was, you’d better damn well have given me a passing grade, considering I pulled your sorry neck out of that dune.”
>”I’ll let that be compensation for all the times I saved you from flunking out of Academy.”
“That never—”
>”Shh. You hear that?”
>At first, you expect some kind of crude jab from Lightning, but when one doesn’t come you scrunch your features and listen
>Through the din of the walking medics and nurses, through the constant droning of medical equipment in the rows on rows of recovery rooms, you listen
>Across from White Lightning and Fleetfoots’ joint chamber, a long plate window exposes a view of the lower courtyard of the military complex, which sweeps by suspension bridge into the concourse of the main platform
>Lightning’s right; you do hear something emanating from that direction, from outside, though you can’t place exactly what it is
>Some kind of low rumbling, underneath everything else
>An earthquake down below, on the surface?
“I hear it. Should we…?”
>”You’re the boss, boss.”
>You shake your head and look back through the open door at Fleetfoot’s prone body, tended by the resident nurse
“I can’t imagine that happening to me. I honestly can’t even picture it. Losing a wing, a hoof, even for a little while… I couldn’t bear it.”
>”Like your purpose goes unfulfilled. But injuries in the field do happen.”
“If there’s ever going to BE a field. This whole defensive is based on a single encounter at the border. Not that I think it’s a terrible idea, but we could be pushing in right now. Acting rather than reacting.”
>Lightning leads you away from the recovery chamber towards which you’ve been slowly gravitating, and down the wide sunlit hall
>”You’ve always been too eager, Rainbow. Don’t forget this was your little coltfriend’s idea in the first place.”
“My… hey! You stand down on that, Lightning! Ponies could hear and actually believe it!”
>”Pffft. Is it wrong to say you’ve been close with him?”
“Out of necessity. Time Turner is a sensitive asset to the PAS right now. He’s high in the Exsilist ranks, he has the ear of the Highmind Empress, and…”
>It almost spilled right out, but your brain caught up to your words at just the right moment
>You begin coughing spontaneously, and Lightning nervously comes around to your flank to rest a hoof on the base of your wings
>”Gorgons, Dash… swallow a fly?”
>You struggle to laugh; your lungs feel like they’re bursting out of your ribcage
“Probably still some sand deep in there from last night. I’m surprised you’re not worse.”
>”Guess I’m just realllly good at holding my breath. But Dash?”
>You know the question before Lightning asks it, with that devilishly quizzical look on her face
>”And… what?”
“And… what do you mean?”
>”Don’t leave me hanging. If there’s some reason beyond the fact of your being Time Turner’s adjutant that you’re spending so much time with him, then I need to know.”
“Unfortunately, Lightning, you don’t ‘need’ to know anything. It’s all… very… complicated right now. And confidential.”
>”So it’s ‘this’ then? All the rules?”
“What are you talking about?”
>”C’mon, Rainbow. All formalities aside. It bugs you that I call you Cap’n, well there. It bugs me when you pretend that it’s all cast in a different light now we’re the Wunderbolts, that that somehow changes everything. That what we used to be, which was best friends, isn’t how it is anymore.”
>Your friend looks legitimately hurt, in a way you haven’t seen in her since the early days of the Academy
>It’s a look you thought had been bred out of her, but there it is, plain as day
>”We made an oath way back then, y’know? We said… we said there’d be no secrets there. And I know we’ve had this conversation before, about different things, and I KNOW that duty transcends yadda yadda yadda… but…”
“We made that oath when we were fillies.”
>”And that lessens it?”
>You’re tempted to give her a flat “yes”, but you find that the word just doesn’t describe the way you feel
>You’ve wanted to share the details of Time Turner’s true intentions with her since the moment he divulged them to you, but you didn’t want to risk compromising her
>Despite how much she pisses you off, she’s loyal to you, loyal to the PAS; if there’s anypony you can tell about the theory, it’s her
“No. It doesn’t. And we ARE still friends, first and foremost. But there are certain things—”
>”I’m also your squadmate. Your second-in-command. I see no reason why you shouldn’t just say it, now that it’s clear there’s something to be said.”
“I… listen.”
>Cautiously, you point with your head and eyes to a dark, empty recovery chamber, which Lightning silently follows you into
>The shades are drawn, the equipment continues to hum, and you close the sliding door behind you
>Then, you look Lightning directly in the eye, her features crossed with stripes of diffused sunlight in this blue darkness
“This doesn’t leave this room.”
>”That’s a given.”
“Time Turner believes… and this is an enormous maybe. But Time Turner believes there is a Canterian spy, a traitor, working high in the ranks of the PAS. Possibly even a member of High Command. He believes they’ve been placed there to assassinate the General, my father.”
>Lightning shrinks at the word “traitor,” but quickly recovers and blinks frantically
>”Based on what intel?”
“Intel of a…”
>You can’t believe you’re saying this
“…of a supernatural origin. The Highmind Empress of New Exsilia has these visions. Something to do with her connection to the Makers through their technology, maybe even a tech they aren’t sharing with us. But she sees the future. And she’s seen what might happen if this Canterian invasion comes to pass.”
>”Okay. Um… yeah. Passing over how ridiculous that sounds, if there’s a mole, you should’ve come to me the second you learned about it. I could’ve helped you, Rainbow.”
“Time Turner’s been conducting his own investigation, as have I. To what… uh… limited extent I can. We compared notes before the High Command meeting that led us into the Palomino, but all we know for certain is that they’ll probably come out of hiding during the Canterian assault. We don’t know who, we don’t know when. But soon. And they’re entrenched deep.”
>”Somepony on the division?”
“I considered that. But I trust all of them completely. Time Turner seems to suspect Hauptgeneral Wind Rider, but…”
>”But he’s been with the PAS since its inception. Since the Rebellion. Who’s new? Who might’ve come out of absolutely nowhere, blindsided everything?”
>You shake your head in frustration, both at your lack of an answer to Lightning’s question and at your decision to tell her
>As much as you trust her, you’ve now placed a hefty burden on her shoulders that she doesn’t deserve to carry, especially in this time of crisis
“They can’t be TOO new. They’re trusted, we know that much. As trusted as a member of High Command? That remains to be seen.”
>Before your friend can ask you her question, the low rumbling you heard earlier intensifies
>It had waned down without your noticing, but it’s back now, and it’s impossible to ignore
>Lightning notices it too, clutching her head and regaining her balance as the room seems to destabilize for a moment
>”Wh-what the… the propulsion?”
“Doesn’t matter. We need to get to Staatskongress, now!”
>”We don’t even know if—”
“I said NOW!”
>You rush out the door back into the open hall, and Lightning relents, following close behind
>You weave through nervous fluttering military doctors and mobile patients, and when the galloping becomes too hard to maintain, you lift off and swoop over their heads
>Around a corner, into the atrium, and out the broad sky-door, into the light of mid-afternoon
>Into the sun
>The air is warmer than you expected, especially for the altitude, but you pay it no mind
>Noises like that are NOT supposed to happen, and if it’s happening universally across the city, rather than just being localized in Militarbezirk
>Well, you can’t answer that question without contacting your father
>You key into his offices with the short-range comm on your fetlock, listening to the fain buzz as the device attempts to establish contact
>Then, the static resides and gives way to a brusque voice on the other end
>”Rainbow Dash?”
“General! What’s happening, are you alright?”
>”Fine, Captain. What seems to be the concern, I thought you’d be stationed by now.”
“We’re in Militarbezirk. The briefing isn’t for another two hours. What’s the situation there?”
>”We were finishing up some detailing, and then I was about to meet you with a detachment for personal instructions.”
“There was a noise here. Something is happening, the propulsion is destabilizing, i-it feels like an earthquake!”
>”In Militarbezirk? That shouldn’t be possible considering—”
>The command in your voice surprises even you, but now is no time for formality
>The sun, it’s… why is it that shade?
>You’re staring right into it as you sweep low across the courtyard and towards the bridge, intending not to stop flying until you reach Staatskongress
>The feeling in your mind… something is wrong, VERY wrong
>In any other circumstance, you’d chalk up whatever happened back there, that something that EVERYPONY felt, wasn’t worth your time or notice
>But given the possible imminence of Canterian contact, it’s as though there’s something driving you forward, something magnetic and awful, containing you to this path
“General, Lightning Dust and I are on our way to evac you, now.”
>”Captain Dash, I hardly think that sort of action is nece—”
“No! We’re running out of time!”
>”What makes you say that?”
>What does make you say that?
>Apart from the rumbling, and the sun…
>The sun…
>You stop dead in your tracks, fixated on that point in space
>It’s across the city, through the weave of pillars and roofs, towers and banners, not yet touching the summer horizon but approaching fast, and it’s…
>A sea-green blur rushes by your flank, then doubles back and halts hovering before you
>Between you and the object of interest
>”You shot out of there so fast I could barely follow! If we’re going to Pegasopolis Platform, we need to notify the rest of the Wunderbolts! They’re still back at Militarbezirk, and—”
“Lightning. Do you see it?”
>Your friend merely stares at you, dropping elevation slightly and rolling in front of you, but it’s already too late
>You can see it through her, past her, you can see the color of that light in the sky
>Of course in the daylight it shines, but dark clouds are brewing on the horizon, thunderclouds, and the light persists through them
>Not through them, in FRONT of them
>When it sinks there, when you’re right there, sinking along with it, you’ll see it again, you’ll see it so clearly, so intimately…”
>”Rainbow! If we’re going, let’s go!”
>”Captain Dash, we are perfectly capable here. Your presence at Staatskongress is not… ed at th… else…”
>The signal’s breaking up with General Hurricane
>No, dad
>He’s more than that, isn’t he, more than just…
>This presence in your mind…
“General Hurricane! Can you hear me?”
>”… all… posit… elp carry wha… nit all on th…”
>And then, silence
>But for the wind, of course, the highline wind carrying across all the lands of Equestron
>Ending here, at the edge of the world
>It isn’t just a white sunset anymore, there are two suns
>Obscured by the material things in front of it, but so visible to you
>Two suns, one eclipsing the other, one so much closer, mere miles away
>The satellite image, the grainy prints, they’ve come to life
>It’s something you feel in your heart, and even so far away, so obscured, you’re certain it’s there
>Certain that…
“It’s today. It’s right now.”
>”What are you talking about, Rainbow?”
“It’s going to happen soon. It’s all going to happen soon. General Hurricane, my… forget the Wunderbolts. We need to be there now. We need to…”

”Move! Go faster, faster!”
>”What in the sam hay do you think I’m doing, Miss Sunshine?”
>Applejack veers off the road, kicking up dust as Winona goes careening into the ditch at the asphalt’s edge
>It’s been three hours since you left your alcove campground, and you are Twilight Sparkle, a-and…
>And you can barely concentrate with all this noise
>Not the noise on the surface, not here, but someplace else, someplace both darker and lighter than this material world
>The sub-layer, the layer beyond dreams, beyond consciousness…
>Is it Truth? Is it…
>”Get your head back in it, Twilight! They aren’t even following us!”
>You’d sensed something there, another soul perhaps, but now it’s being ripped away, and you’re back here, back in the truck with Applejack, back to being chased by…
>Well, you don’t even know who
>You saw it on the horizon fifteen minutes ago, a distant shimmer, like a mirage
>But mirages REMAIN on the horizon; this one only rose, gaining speed and altitude, distorting the clouds and eventually the sun into rippling waveforms as it passed over them
>With the Element, Applejack had seen life there, but it was too fleeting for her to comprehend its shape
>It came closer and closer to you, following the road, coming to terminal velocity several meters overhead; only by that telltale sheen at its very edges could you distinguish its shape, its presence
>Something following, something LIVING…
>With how many bizarre things have come to pass in the last few days, you’re barely even fazed, though at least the Exsilist had cast some form of psychic inhibitor over you, preventing you from feeling fear
>No such presence exists here; your instincts drive your senses wild, you’re desperate to get out of this truck, to GALLOP, to RUN as fast as you can
>Your body doesn’t care that this way is faster, it must be better than this, it must be it must be…
>But… wait, what did Applejack just say?
>Your thoughts overtook her voice… did she say it isn’t following you?
>It should be YOU who’s driving now, and her who’s…
>Celestia, of course!
“Applejack! Trade places with me!”
>Your friend shoots a panicked look in your direction, those emerald eyes full of the same confused terror you feel in yourself
>”Are you off your rocker? Not at this speed, and you never even properly learned—”
“I’ve seen you drive! How hard can it be?”
>”For somepony without any experience at all? Gee, I sure wonder!”
“It’s the only way for you to get a closer look at that thing! If it isn’t just an illusion, or some kind of PAS defense mechanism…”
>”That probably IS what it is! You have no idea what the Exsilists have cooked up for them, for how close we are to Pegasopolis!”
“Please, AJ!”
>Applejack tosses her hat off her golden locks, spiraling it into the back seat, then gently eases off the acceleration lever
>No, no… the “gas pedal,” that’s right
>”Cross over me! Now or never!”
>Standing up in your seat on all fours, your head crushed against the roof of the truck, you steady yourself as AJ gestures for you to take the steering module
>You take it just as she releases her hooves from it and from the gas, and you slide in opposite directions while Winona barrels on at a slight angle away from the road
>As long as you don’t crash into a dune, everything SHOULD be okay
>With some minor readjustments, and an unfortunate kick to AJ’s barrel which she receives with a huff, you slam yourself down into the driver’s seat and prepare to do what you’ve been afraid of doing this entire Mission
>Nervously, you drive your hindleg into the accelerator, feeling the vibrations beneath you as Winona responds to your input
>That part of it’s almost easier than you thought, but steering is another story; you’re too rough with it at first, and Winona jerks and almost loses balance in the low friction of the sand giving way to dry grass
>”Less force! Compensate, don’t yank it! Get us even with the road, and then just keep it steady
>You don’t really feel like you’ve got the hang of it yet, but for the first time you realize you’ve been looking at your hooves this whole time, not at what’s in front of you
>You glance up and out the windshield, and the rush of this incredible speed hits you again, just as it did the very first time you rode in a vehicle with Brittle Bong
>It’s different now that you’re controlling the movement; it’s like you’re galloping without anything to halt you, not your stamina, not the terrain, not anything
>It’s exhilarating and terrifying all at once, and without thinking you slam your hoof down on the gas as far as it’ll go and ease the wheel towards the road again
>By now, the shimmering invisible thing has surpassed you, and is moving along the vector of the road up in the air
>Applejack hurriedly produces the Element from her saddlebag, and as it glows in her hoof you can only guess at what she’s seeing
>It’s in clear view of you now, a distortion of reality gliding over the world, a great invisible monster
>With life force
>The quick glances you’re able to steal over at AJ while you pilot this metal box on wheels tell you that her explanation won’t give you much else to go on
>Her eyes are locked on the shape, transfixed by it; you even detect an orange glow there too, as though the Element’s energy is pouring out of her, too much to contain or suppress
>That sort of power… you find yourself desiring it more than anything else, but you banish those thoughts as soon as they appear
>A Sister of Solemnity should not covet…
>”Alright. I’ve seen inside.”
>AJ stoically sets the Element down, and its psychic hold on her form instantly dissipates
>She can control that more easily now, it seems…
“What IS it?”
>”There are ponies inside. Technologies I’ve never seen before… engravings all over, tiny, tiny engravings. Like random little grooves all over the inside. But the ponies… they don’t look Exsilist. They’re entirely organic. But they ain’t all pegasi neither.”
“So it isn’t a defense… it’s an assault?”
>”That Spitfire at the border… I think she was only the beginning. Whoever that is, they aren’t concerned with us in the least bit. Their destination’s the same as ours, but what they mean to do there I haven’t the foggiest.”
“It’s invisible… how is it invisible? Where did it… they…”
>”Ain’t entirely invisible. We could see it behind us after all, though only because we were REALLY looking for it. Though it ain’t making a lick of noise, and if I had to guess I’d say radar don’t see it none.”
“Then it’s today. Celestia, it’s today. What we’ve seen in the visions, the city in flames… we’re going to be too late. It’s already happening. Numena was right.”
>”She told you about this? Last night?”
“Only that fate is irrevocable. Unchanging. What we see is what will come to pass. In other communions, I’d been led to believe otherwise, but… no. We can only save our one.”
>”Then why the trouble of finding the missile silos underneath our own danged Sky Farms? Why any of the pretext from the very beginning? Assuming it was all ‘part of the plan,’ that is.”
“I… I don’t have an answer for that. But I suppose the truth behind the six seeds could not be revealed to us until we had one in our possession. It was too dangerous, or rather… if you had known what lay within See Rock, would you still have followed me up its slopes?”
>”Don’t expect an answer to that from me, either. I can never go back, knowing what I know. Being in possession of this…”
>Your friend regards the hexagonal gem snuggled between her leg and the seat
>”…this THING, it’s only made my belief that we’re doing the right thing stronger. But put all that aside for a second. How are we going to get in touch with this pony, this mare, once we’re there? Or failing that, the Exsilist?”
“We’ll find a way. I know we will. But I’m going to follow that thing for now. Keep your mind trained on it as best as you can, in case I lose sight of it.”
>The ditch deepens; you push Winona harder over a slope to get back to the road, but the terrain gives you more trouble than you expected
>The San Palomino desert is giving way to a more humid, grassier climate, with brush and old irrigation canals flanking you on both sides
>You suppose this land must’ve been settled by earth ponies before the PAS banished all non-pegasi from the region
>This is the borderland of Las Pegasus… that is, it used to be
>But that means…
>”Twilight? Look.”
>The slope crests, and you swerve back onto the pale, neglected asphalt to trail in tow of the invisible aircraft
>You look up from the road, and see what AJ signaled
>It’s there
>You hadn’t really believed in it until just now, just this moment, but it’s really there, the inverted dome
>Pegasopolis against the horizon, looking from this angle like any other city, but rising rapidly as it parts from that line between earth and sky, until it detaches completely from the land below
>Its size deceives you; you know it must be miles in the air, and yet it seems so close to the ground
>It is every pegasus city that the PAS have stolen, anchored, and towed into their monstrous collective
>It is Maker magic, the magic of technology beyond your knowing, that allows it to float without the aid of pegasus cloud magic
>No Blight, no blasphemy there, merely untold ages of an alien race, long dead now, perfecting their knowledge, and that knowledge passed on to ponykind
>There are no propulsion elements visible on the underside of the dome, no massive electromagnets or blazing blue flames, nothing but a smooth chrome surface that casts a shadow like a mountain below it
>And resting upon that bowl is a city, a real city, real as any other, and the likeness is so perfect to your visions, your dreams, that you can barely breathe
>It’s this angle, this fatal angle, the sun nearly eclipsed by the shape of Pegasopolis, it was from RIGHT HERE that you saw that terrible power inflict itself upon all within
>Engulfed in rainbow fire, ponies burning, and yet… you are here for only one
>You’re too late, you’re far, far too late
>All around the main “platform,” smaller satellite clusters comprised of elements of the other pegasus cities float suspended to the central axis, and that somehow bothers you more than anything
>Back in the convent, Orange Swirl called them “grav-platforms,” in a conversation which now seems ages ago, and yet truly it’s been only around a month
>But looking at the shape now, you don’t believe it’s some form of anti-gravity that compels Pegasopolis to reach those heights
>It’s something else, something more obvious, something…
>”You seeing that too?”
“I see… oh Celestia, I see it… the city, it’s… it’s incredible. It’s wonderful.”
>”It won’t be for long. But that ain’t what I’m talking about, Twi. It’s the invisible thing… or rather, the THINGS…”
>You glance left and right, and sure enough across the plain, miles away but visible enough when you squint and search, are other shimmers, other transparent objects all converging on Pegasopolis
>Well over a dozen, by your hasty reckoning
>The base of your horn begins to burn, but you pay it no mind; you resolved to do this, you resolved to complete your Mission, to unite the six seeds of prophecy
>You will not abandon that course for anything, least of all fear
>You are a different mare than the one who left that convent, you are not afraid, you are a Sister of Solemnity imbued with the Truth, a sharer of Syncresis
>You are Twilight Sparkle, and you will drive on, drive on
>”I can warn them.”
>The tightness in your chest rises again, out of nowhere
>You aren’t far away anymore, you’re close, so close
“What? How?”
>”The beacon, Twilight. Before it was unconscious, it was just a sign of the fusion. The orange light in the sky over See Rock, I think… I think I can reproduce it.”
>The city must only be half an hour away or less now
>Your mind is racing; can you trust AJ to deliver on a promise like that without hurting herself?
>If her fugue state before was a consequence of the energy release that accompanied the Element’s materializing on the physical plane, then you have no idea what recreating the conditions of that release could do AJ
>It could put her out of consciousness, it could cripple her, or worse…
>To make such True magic manifest… but you’re left with no other options
>You could signal the arrival of these craft, as well as your own presence on the ground
>You don’t care about the consequences now, you NEED to ensure the survival of the Element bearer in that city, and whatever’s within those invisible craft is about to make your visions come to life
“Do it. I-if you think you’re able, do it.”
>”Here goes nothing.”
>AJ clutches the Element, and a sharp cry escapes her lips as her motivation fills its gleaming core
>It glows around her, through her, and before you even have time to shield yourself from whatever’s coming, a great arc of electric light blasts upward from her head into the air
>It blows a smoking hole clean through the roof of Winona, and continues upward into the sky, now darkening with foreboding clouds
>The storms of Rich Valley have caught up with you, and you’re bringing the thunder…
>Before the arc can puncture the underside of those storm clouds, however, it explodes like a great firework, and the rippling beauty of Celestia’s true magic echoes through your heart
>A star has appeared beneath the clouds, a great blinding sphere of divine energy, Mater Solis come to earth
>It surely glows as brightly as the sun, casting harsh shadows outward from your moving vehicle, the dusky grass, even the city far, far away
>You know they can see the beacon there, as can the inhabitants of the invisible craft
>If they notice you, fine; you could use the attention
>You’re so close now…


That would've been positively nightmarish with the old character limit, god damn. I told you things would start to heat up soon! The battle of Pegasopolis, as seen on TV (and by TV, I mean in Twilight's lucid future-dreams) is here! And it's going to be a doozy to write. The closest thing I've written to an action sequence so far was a couple hillbillies and Saddle Arabians shooting each other with shotguns, so this'll be both a challenge and an opportunity. Cheers!
>The battle of Pegasopolis, as seen on TV (and by TV, I mean in Twilight's lucid future-dreams) is here!
Oh I'm excited for this this
Hell yeah a double dose of green!
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Thats a lot of green!
thanks for the green sol
a mod that replaces biters and spitters with different ponies would be cool
Wik when?
>The light… the light beyond the shadow that is Numena’s form
>It’s blue… has it always been blue?
>Deep, dark blue, the color of the infinite void of space
>The color of the Depths, too
You know, for the longest time I was certain that Numena is Celestia, but this is the second time that you mentioned those details and this time it's much less subtle, like you were screaming "Readers! Pay attention to this and get it right this time!" while writing it. So now I'm speculating that this is either Luna going behind Nightmare Moon's back in the dream realm and orchestrating her alter ego's downfall or it's actually Nightmare Moon herself trying to unite the very weapon that defeated her before (Elements) for a reason we don't know (yet). I can't figure out because Numena's outbursts could fit Luna (she has a temper) and Nightmare as well (she's egoistic and a megalomaniac). Same as this part:
>”Then and only then shall you stand against the thing which has been foretold, the incarnation of all of ponykind’s past mistakes. History was irrevocably altered by one fatal happening, nigh on a millennium ago. If the happening were to be rectified, if the future might be freed by the suffering of the past, then perhaps the Prophetess’ dream might become reality.”
Depending how you interpret it, it can fit as Luna's, Celestia's or NMM's speech.

>The battle of Pegasopolis is here!
Oh shit
>The closest thing I've written to an action sequence so far was a couple hillbillies and Saddle Arabians shooting each other with shotguns, so this'll be both a challenge and an opportunity
You managed to not disappoint so far, so I'm sure you'll pull it off this time as well.
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Hopefully soon, but no need to rush WiK
Damn Bon Bon looks great in a suit
Bumpin' the tech.
Tonight or tomorrow morning. Depending on time zone.
Hell Yeah!
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hey, was away from the internet entirely for the week due to the work schedule, getting the update together now

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