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"Delayed Release" 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Thread Story List (outdated):
https://poneb.in/XKLNjAAx

Stories from the last thread (#79):
Shape Your Home (#deca.mare, posted in NMP) (Ponegreen)
>https://ponepaste.org/477 https://ponepaste.org/478 https://ponepaste.org/479 https://ponepaste.org/480 https://ponepaste.org/4581

(Name unknown) (PC Engi)
Paste unavailable
>>38333505
Untitled (Anonymous)
>>38377391
Oneshots:
>>38280967
>>38291255
Memory of the Empire (translation)
>https://ponepaste.org/5243
>End of the last update: >>37162643

Oneposts:
>>37652095 by Allogenes
>>37727472 by that fucking goy
>>37751313 by Alcatraz

From older threads:
Shape Your Home, Wasteland 'Survival' Game Side Story (Ponegreen)
>https://ponepaste.org/4466
>End of the last update: >>37865386
The Swirling Menagerie (Solanon)
>https://ponepaste.org/4272 https://ponepaste.org/4285 https://ponepaste.org/4286
>End of the last update: >>38043564
Untitled, Battletech/Mech (Alcatraz)
>No bin
>Start here >>37462428, end of the last update: >>37935782
NECROPONY (Solanon)
>https://ponepaste.org/4351
Unnamed green with Nasapone and Apogee
>No bin
>Starts here >>36765234 last post is >>36782594
TiM take 2 (my idea of a good time)
>End of the last update: >>36910953
[H.E.R.O.] Revelations (SaltAnon)
>https://ponepaste.org/4652
Anonymous, the Singing Golem (leg)
>https://ponepaste.org//328 https://ponepaste.org/606
>End of the last update: >>36338890
War Anon (DreamlessAnon)
>https://ponepaste.org/4059
>Starts here >>36514474
(H.E.R.O) Mission (SaltAnon)
>https://ponepaste.org/3206
>Starts here >>36361544

Obsolete thread:
#79 >>38333309
>>
Apologies for whatever mistakes there are in the OP. I haven't been around enough lately to know what's going on.
>>
So since it's been so bloody long I'm going to repost the first part. If you don't feel like re-reading it I'll include a recap before part two, which will be linked to this post.

>Twilight Sparkle stood in her home, eagerly watching the clock.
>Each second seemed to take longer than the last on the agonizing watch for this early autumn nightfall.
>She had been anticipating this night for weeks.
>Ever since the first night she gazed at the heavens above Ponyville, she’d been marvelling at the brilliance of the night sky.
>And as it turned out, she was not alone.
>One of her newfound friends had a penchant for stargazing as well.
>And Twilight had been invited to the Apple family’s farm to watch a meteor shower.
>She fetched a scroll from her writing desk and unfurled it, eyes scanning over the contents of her checklist as it opened.
“Me? Check.”
>It wasn’t a very long list.
>Twilight pranced out the door, nearly forgetting to close it on the way out.
>The Markids shower came every year, and to some it was routine.
>Twilight, however, had spent almost all of her life in Canterlot.
>Parts of the city never slept, and street lamps were scattered across every major road to guide those who wandered late at night.
>This would be her first time seeing it in the dark of night.
>The sun’s glow could still be seen over the horizon, and the heat of the day had not yet fully left them.
>She could see a faint sliver of the new moon rising in the sky to the West.
>The gentle glow of the sun faded into nothingness as Twilight made her way to the outskirts of town, and in time the stars came out of hiding.
>Ponyville’s night sky never failed to astound her.
>There were so many stars!
>In Canterlot she could usually only see a few of them, but here there were dozens of them!
>Every time she blinked, there appeared to be a few more dotting the emptiness above.
>And right across the middle of the sky lay the Rift.
>Legend told that in time immemorial, the heavens split open and brought light to the world.
>Twilight knew it wasn’t true.
>But when she saw it without the light pollution, she could understand why early ponies told such tales.
>Even now there was a profound sense of scale at this radiant ribbon that stretched beyond the horizon.
>Its gentle radiance carved through the emptiness above and poured down onto the streets.
>Still, though, she was starting to have trouble seeing.
>The accursed lanterns from back in Canterlot did indeed serve a purpose.
>Twilight couldn’t see where the road led and had no choice but to rely on her memory of the streets.
>Or, of course, to use her magic.
>Twilight called upon the Libra ley line for a measured and controlled light.
>But immediately cancelled it.
>>
>She could see a fire in the distance, casting long but somehow welcoming shadows
>Twilight approached it, abandoning the roadway and entering an empty field.
>Something had been growing here until recently if the withered vines were anything to go by.
>As she drew closer to the fire it slowly began to resolve into a small pit, surrounded by logs hewn into simple chairs.
>A modest pile of wooden splits sat about a dozen paces away from the pit.
>And gathered on the far side of the fire was the Apple clan.
>Big Macintosh was slowly lowering a pot into the fire pit whilst the rest of them sat around the fire.
>Applebloom was holding a smoldering stick in her mouth, waving the burning end around in the air gently to make trails of light against the dark sky.
>She eventually tossed it as high into the sky as she could, and for a few seconds it appeared as though the firmament had a brilliant new star.
>To Twilight’s relief, it seemed to extinguish the moment it hit the ground.
>Applejack waved at her, face gently illuminated by the growing flame.
>”Howdy, Twi! You’re a tad early.”
>Twilight trotted her way toward the rest of the crew.
>”Spike ain’t with ya?”
“Not tonight. He had some business to attend to back in Canterlot. I don’t think he’d have stayed awake long enough for this anyway.”
>”Well, that’s a shame. Glad you could make it though.”
“Thank you all so much for inviting me. Oh, this is so exciting. I’ve never really seen a meteor shower before.”
>”Ehh? How’s that?”
>Granny Smith seemed shockingly animated about this.
>”Is your neck stiff or somethin’? Never looked up before?”
“Oh, well, I may have misspoke a bit. I’ve seen shooting stars before, but it’s a lot brighter in Canterlot so the sky is always sorta washed out.”
>Applejack beckoned Twilight to sit next to her.
>”It really is somethin’ special. Missed it mightily when I tried living in the city.”
“You used to live in the city?”
>”Yep. Weren’t for me though. I’ll tell you ‘bout it some time.”
>Applejack never failed to defy expectations.
>Twilight looked up and was overcome with a bizarre sensation of uneasiness.
>It felt as though she were floating.
>The ground beneath her was barely there, and she was being drawn into the infinite expanse above.
>”Oh! Right there!”
>Apple Bloom exclaimed, gesturing to the south west.
>”I saw one!”
“Aw. I missed it.”
>”Don’t worry. There’s gonna be thousands of them!”
>Thousands?
>Twilight had seen a few dozen shooting stars in her life!
>Surely Apple Bloom was exaggerating.
>And yet…
>What was a thousand?
>Hay, what was a million?
>The endless expanses had been there for innumerable years, and would remain for even longer.
>The cosmos was incomprehensibly vast and unimaginably ancient.
>On that scale, a few thousand shooting stars was beyond small.
>>
>>38600391
>And still it would dwarf what Twilight had seen.
>Big Macintosh reached into the pot in the fire pit with a mug and filled it with some unseen liquid before handing it to Twilight.
>”Cacao.”
“Oh! Thank you. I was wondering about the fire. It seemed counterproductive.”
>Applejack went to get her own drink from the pit.
>”We’ll smother that in a bit.”
“I’m really looking forward to it. So you do this every year?”
>”Yep. Not so important anymore, but it’s tradition at this point.”
“Important? How so?”
>”You’d best ask Granny ‘bout that one.”
>Granny Smith hadn’t moved to get her cacao.
>Big Mac had fetched it for her instead.
>And she seemed content to ignore her mug for the time being.
>”Why do we watch the stars you ask? Well, how else are we supposed to know what time of year it is?”
“With a calendar?”
>”Calendar? Time was you couldn’t trust them fancy types and their doohickies. Calendars were all over the place, and didn’t have anything to do with nothing.”
“But the calendar has been standardized for centuries. It’s VERY reliable now.”
>”Sure! ‘Twas before my time ‘n all, but way back when nopony could count on such things. We had to come up with other ways of keepin’ track of time, else the harvest would be late, and we’d try to wrap up winter at any old time. When the Markids shower ends we know it’s cider season. Course, now we do use the calendar on account of it bein’ hard to tell when the shower’s over.”
>Wadda ya mean, granny? I thought the shower was over in the mornin’.”
“Not quite, Apple Bloom. Tonight’s just the night when it’s at its peak. You see, we’re currently going through a giant cloud of rock and ice out in space. When it falls down it burns up, and that’s what we see. Right now we’re around the densest part of the cloud so there are more collisions, but even at the periphery there are a few. Granny Smith is right-”
>Granny offered a saggy smirk.
“It’s hard to predict when a shower will end. Actually, it’s hard to even DEFINE what ‘end’ means in this context.”
>”So the youngun knows a thing or two. Didn’t know they appreciated the stars in Canterlot.”
“Oh, I know quite a bit about the night sky. Princess Celestia insisted I study it, which was actually a bit hard with all the light.”
>It had always seemed strange how ardent Celestia was for astronomy.
>With the recent revelations about her sister, things made far more sense.
>”Miss Twilight?”
“What is it, Apple Bloom?”
>”Miss Cheerilee says that there are seven planets, but Granny says there are only five. How many is it?”
>”I didn’t say there were only five, I said that there were only five that mattered.”
“Well, in many ways Granny Smith is right! There are only five planets at first glance. But if you have a telescope and a lot of patience you can see a sixth planet.”
>>
>>38600392
>”So now you’re telling me it’s SIX? Sounds like grownups can’t make up their minds.”
“Ah, you can only SEE six. You’ve got Rhea, which is closest to the sun. It’s the second smallest. Then there’s Hera between Rhea and here. You can see it up there, it’s usually the brightest thing in the night sky. Prometheus is the one that looks a bit red, then you get Elysium, our home. Then way out in the distance there’s Zeus. It’s super far away, but it’s by far the biggest planet in the system.”
>”One, two, three, four, but that’s just five!”
“Yep. If you look outward with a telescope you can just barely see Cronus. It’s not as big as Zeus, and it’s even further away, but it’s there. But there’s one last planet we know of, even though nopony’s ever seen it.”
>Apple Bloom’s eyes were wide open, and not just because of the low light conditions.
“Astronomers noticed that Rhea doesn’t move quite like it should. And while we haven’t ruled everything else out just yet, it’s starting to look like it’s falling toward something big. REALLY big. The simplest explanation is that there’s another planet somewhere really close to the sun, but it’s too small and the sun is too bright so we just can see it. They call this planet Hermes.”
>Twilight could hear Granny grumble angrily.
>Something about making up new planets and the ivory tower.
“So in a way Granny is right! There are only five planets you can see, and they’re by far the best studied. But if you want to include everything out there then there are at least six, maybe seven. Maybe more! If they can discover new planets twice, why not a third time? Or even a fourth?”
>Granny let off a huff.
>”Why not indeed?”
>Twilight couldn’t help but worry that she’d offended the Apple matron.
>Was this to be the last time she would be invited to their homestead?
>Would the town think that Twilight was disrupting Earth pony traditions, or that she thought she was better than them?
>Was she going to become a pariah and wind up exiled?
>Applejack could evidently read the concern on Twilight’s face.
>”Hay, don’t you fret none. Granny ain’t upset with you, she just don’t like the Royal Astronomical Society. Long story.”
>That was a relief.
>And also a bit confusing.
>Big Mac pulled the pot from the fire and then kicked some dirt in it.
>And the sky bloomed.
>The stars were innumerable, and the planets seemed almost blindingly bright against the void.
>Twilight turned her attention to Map Marker, the constellation for which this shower was named.
>>
>>38600399
>It was just six stars out in an unusually empty part of the sky.
>Legend told of a great explorer by the name of Map Marker who had seen everything there was to see in the world and so went up to explore the stars.
>Twilight honestly couldn’t see how anypony could think THAT looked like a pony, much less why they’d think it was a great explorer.
>Time pressed on in relative silence with everypony simply observing the universe.
>And to Twilight’s amazement, Apple Bloom was right.
>If anything, she’d undersold how many of them there’d be!
>The shooting stars were innumerable.
>Twilight lay on the ground for hours, oblivious to how cold she was or how dirty her coat was getting.
>So many of them.
>Each one existing for only an instant.
>Burning up in the atmosphere, reduced to nothingness in the blink of an eye.
>Orbiting for eons, just waiting for that one climactic instant of light.
>”Well-”
>Applejack’s voice wasn’t loud.
>It startled Twilight regardless.
>”Time for bed.”
“Wait, what? You’re leaving?”
>”Eeyup.”
>”We’ve got us a busy month ahead, gotta get up bright an’ early. Besides, granny gets cranky if she don’t get her beauty sleep.”
>”Cranky? I’ll show you cranky, you- you might be onto something.”
>”Y’all are free to stay as long as you like, but we’d best get movin’. C’mon, Apple Bloom. Er, Apple Bloom?”
>It only took a few seconds to find her curled up in a ball, tail sat over her face.
>It looked like she’d fallen asleep already.
>Big Mac picked her up gingerly and placed her on Applejack’s back before returning to help Granny stand.
>Twilight could hardly believe it.
>How could anypony willingly step away from this splendor?
>Judging by the moon’s motion, it had only been a few hours!
“That’s a terrible shame. There’s a lot more to come.”
>”We’ll catch ‘em next year. You enjoy yourself.”
“I will. Thank you again, and good night.”
>Twilight returned to her stargazing.
>It was baffling that the Apples could just walk away from this, even if they had seen it before.
>But still, Twilight had to confess she was getting really tired.
>She returned to her trance-like state of relaxation.
>Her eyelids gradually grew heavier as the hours passed.
>Had she been more attentive, Twilight might have noticed one shooting star was brighter than the rest.
>Or that it was lasting much too long.
>Or that it broke in three during its descent.
>But Twilight did not see this very special meteor, because she had drifted off to sleep.
>>
>>38600400
Mission year 217
Telemetry of the stellar body is complete.

Tau Ceti
Main sequence star
Spectral type: G8.5 V
Mass [MSun] 0.783±0.006
Radius [RSun] 0.794±0.002
Age [Gyr] 5.80
Metallicity [Fe/H] -0.55±0.05
Temperature 5355±2 K
Luminosity 0.52±0.01 L

Telemetry of the planetary body is complete.
Planet
Tau Ceti F
Mass [Mearth] 4.11±0.01
Radius [REarth]1.81±0.02
Orbital Radius 1.334±0.002 AU
Orbital period [days] 632.18±0.04
Eccentricity 0.162±0.005
Semi-major axis [AU] 1.334±0.002
Equilibrium temperature [K] 160±3
Rotation period 20.45h

Anomalies detected:
The measured mass and radius imply a significantly lower density than expected.
Luminance is inconsistent with expected sunlight patterns.
Spectroscopy indicates a concentration of gaseous water that seemingly conflicts with the calculated equilibrium temperature.

Deploying vehicles 5, 6, 7.
>>
>>38600387
TL;DR, Twilight is new to Ponyville and doesn't fit in. She has been taught to appreciate the heavens by Celestia who probably did it to try and make Luna feel more at welcomed when or if she returned. The residents of Ponyville have traditionally relied on the heavens as a means of tracking time, so everyone likes stars and such. Something weird just dropped in near Ponyville, but Twilight was asleep and missed it.

>>38600406
>It had been a few days since the meteor shower.
>Twilight still didn’t regret going, but she was starting to.
>She pulled herself out of bed groggily hours after she’d meant to get up, still not having recovered from attempting to stay up all night.
>One of the Apples had been kind enough to put a blanket over her at some point in the morning, much to Twilight’s embarrassment.
>It lie on the floor of her room ready to return.
>It was item number six on her list for today, right after going to the market.
>Twilight took a quick look at her list before checking the time, and knew already that she wasn’t going to get through it all.
>Today would be busy, and some of the less important tasks would have to be rescheduled.
>She shook the sleep from her head before correcting her blankets and heading downstairs for breakfast.
>Twilight didn’t know how to cook.
>Without her parents, the palace staff, or Spike to take care of Twilight, her diet had become pretty simple.
>Not bad exactly, she wasn’t going to go hungry.
>But… simple.
>There was nothing wrong with fruit and oats for breakfast, but it wasn’t exciting.
>Normally Twilight looked forward to breakfast, and even used it as motivation to get ready for the day.
>But today she found herself dragging her hooves a bit.
>Somehow when she poured a bowl of oats it didn’t taste the same as when Spike did.
>And they were really dry too!
>Still, they were filling and let her check off the first item from her list.
>Once tooth brushing and mane combing were done, she was ready for number four.
>She gave herself one last look in the mirror before heading out into the bright of day.
>Twilight didn’t know how long she’d spend at Fluttershy’s home.
>She really didn’t like scheduling things with no definitive endpoint, since they could easily ruin the rest of her timetable.
>Back in Canterlot her day was rigidly structured, often down to the minute.
>Twilight understood why some found that taxing.
>She could even remember a time when she had trouble managing it.
>But over the years she had grown and adapted, and finally begun to thrive on the order.
>And now she was without it.
>Even after having lived in Ponyville for a few months she was struggling to adapt to the chaos of the small town.
>She walked through the peaceful streets, occasionally taking a moment to wave back at ponies who greeted her.
>And in doing so, spending unplanned time.
>She could hardly understand how this city functioned as chaotic as it was.
>>
>>38600412
>Ponies going about their day and doing their work on their own timetables, roads and structures placed organically instead of on a properly planned grid, meals being taken when ponies were hungry instead of at designated break times…
>There were too many examples to list.
>Sure, individuals and even families had plans and structure, the Apple family was a testament to that.
>But the city itself was disorganized.
>The polar opposite of Canterlot, where one could tell time based on the movements of the masses.
>For some reason, others didn’t seem to see this chaos as a problem.
>They even balked at the word chaos, instead insisting that it was laid back or comfy.
>As Twilight passed Carousel Boutique she encountered a perfect example of the problem.
>Rarity stood before the boutique, impotently pushing against a sign which had been staked into her property.
>During business hours no less!
“Hi, Rarity! What are you up to?”
>”Oh! Hello, Twilight. I’m just trying to remove this eyesore.”
“Do you need some help?”
>”If you would be so kind.”
>Twilight enveloped the sign with her telekinesis and gave a mighty pull.
>It didn’t move.
“Oh wow, it’s really stuck in there.”
>”Quite so, I’m afraid. I’ve been struggling with it for a while now.”
>Twilight closed her eyes to focus more closely on her magic.
>She couldn’t help but stick her tongue out of the corner of her mouth as she strained against the stubborn stake.
>Rarity joined in on the struggle, and the sign came free.
>Twilight came a bit closer to properly examine it, and found that it was indeed an eyesore.
>Unfinished planks had been haphazardly nailed to an old fence post to display a simple message written in white paint.
“Mare for mayor?”
>”I do wish she’d refrain from placing her signs on my property.”
“Why did she even do that?”
>”I believe it is part of her campaign for re-election. Well, she certainly shan’t be having my vote!”
“Election campaign? Oh, that’s exciting! I’ve never seen an election before.”
>”You haven’t? Why, how is public office filled in Canterlot?”
“They’re appointed by Princess Celestia. Oh, this is exciting! Who are the candidates? What are the key issues? When’s voting day? Am I even allowed to participate?”
>”I don’t think anypony cares if you vote or not, dear.”
“Really? That doesn’t seem fair, I’ve only been here for a little while after all. Shouldn’t long-time residents have more of a voice? They’re the ones that made Ponyville what it is after all.”
>”Be that as it may, I doubt you’ll change the outcome.”
“Oh, did the mayor win with a landslide last time?”
>”Not quite. In fact she only had a single vote, likely from herself.”
>But that didn’t make sense!
>If the mayor only got ONE vote, then of course Twilight could affect the outcome!
>And how could she win with only one?
“Did none of the other candidates get any votes at all?”
>>
>>38600414
>”That’s just the thing, there ARE no other candidates.”
>No other candidates?
“Really? Wow, she must be really popular if nopony even wants to compete.”
>”Quite the contrary. I think you’ll find that nearly everypony in Ponyville has taken issue with her at some point. But ultimately, she’s known to be fair and competent. There is nopony else in Ponyville who is organized enough while also being impartial. Even with her, ahem, shortcomings, we know the paperwork will be done and we needn’t fear favoritism. So the mayor runs unopposed every other year, with the election being a mere formality.”
>Twilight couldn’t help but feel disappointed.
>Her first election, and there was nothing to do!
>No issues, no proposed bills, no debates, nothing!
>And it seemed like such a silly way to govern things.
>Princess Celestia put a lot of work into selecting her cabinet, doing background checks to make sure she could trust everypony, ensuring they had the knowledge and skills they needed to get their jobs done, making sure there were no conflicts of interest…
>But here, they just settled for whoever was already there!
>”If you’ll excuse me Twilight, I should return indoors before the sun bleaches my mane. Would you care to join me?”
“Oh, I’d love to! But I have an appointment with Fluttershy. Oh no, I’m going to be late!”
>”I wouldn’t worry about that, it’s unlikely Fluttershy will even notice. Are you going to see that strange new creature she mentioned?”
“You’ve heard about that?”
>”Of course! I intend to see it myself sometime later today. She said it was cute, but between you and I Fluttershy thinks all sorts of bizarre things are cute. I would suggest you not get your hopes up.”
“I’ll keep that in mind. Oops! I have to hurry! I’ll talk to you later!”
>”Have fun, Twilight!”
>Twilight moved at a brisk canter, not quite breaking into a gallop.
>She knew her stamina wouldn’t hold out if she moved at full speed.
>In fact, Twilight wasn’t sure she could keep this up the whole way!
>But she had to try and regain SOME time, or else her entire schedule would be ruined!
>Luckily, Twilight knew that it was proper to arrive about five minutes early to any appointment.
>Sooner and you signal that you think you’re more important than the other pony’s schedule.
>Later and you risk being late.
>Twilight had a decent chance of making it on time if she maintained a swift pace.
>She was painfully aware of the seconds ticking by as she made her way through the countryside.
>But another problem was showing its face.
>She was getting tired.
>Twilight had never been as athletic as her brother, but she’d always considered herself to be in decent shape.
>In Canterlot she had the stamina to trot pretty much anywhere she needed to go without difficulty.
>>
>>38600414
>But this wasn’t Canterlot.
>Ponyville was far more spread out, especially with ponies who lived on the outskirts like Fluttershy.
>The trek to her cottage was deceptively long, and easily exceeded the distance Twilight was accustomed to walking in a day.
>She wasn’t going to be able to canter all the way there.
>Twilight returned to a more casual pace, hoping that she’d regained enough time to avoid being tardy.
>But with no clocktower in sight, she could only guess as to the exact time.
>Would she make it?
>Was she already late?
>Twilight hesitated for a moment as she stepped over the small bridge near the cottage, fearing that she had missed her appointment.
>But she knew that hesitating would only make it worse.
>Twilight swallowed her fear and moved in.
>As she approached the front door she heard voices coming from nearby.
>They sounded upset.
>Or rather, ONE of them sounded upset.
>The other was barely audible.
>”Fluttershy, this is INSANE.”
>”Um…”
>”You don’t know where this thing came from, why it’s here, or even what it’s made of!”
>What it’s made of?
>”But-”
>”But? BUT? Have you forgotten what happened the last time you brought a weird monster home?”
>Twilight rounded the building, nearly bumping into Fluttershy as she backed away from an angered Bon-Bon.
>Fluttershy jumped in shock, turning to face Twilight.
>The terror on her face immediately vanished, replaced by relief.
>Fluttershy ran behind Twilight, using her as a shield against Bon-Bon.
“What’s the problem here?”
>”Fluttershy decided to drag another monster home.”
>”It’s not a monster.”
>”And HOW do you know this?”
>”Because it’s friendly.”
“Bon-Bon, I think you might be overreacting.”
>”The parasprites ate my HOUSE!”
“Well, yeah… But this creature isn’t a parasprite. I hope. Come to think of it, where is this nameless creature?”
>”Behind you.”
“Eh? But it’s just Fluttershy and-”
>Twilight turned around to see a pink mane.
>After stepping around Fluttershy, she saw a most unusual beast.
>It was a fairly large creature, standing just above Twilight’s withers.
>It was about twice as wide as it was tall, but most of its height was made up of its six bizarre legs.
>The creature boasted unusual colouration, with a brilliant white body which reflected the sun almost as well as a mirror.
>Atop its oddly angular body sat a thick prismic rectangle with an inset eye.
>Was that it’s head?
>Closer to the middle of the body there stood a large antenna, sitting in the middle of a freakishly smooth cup-like indentation.
>And near the back, or at least what Twilight thought was the back, there stood a tall stalk with a shiny black lidless eye mounted on the top.
>Twilight got the strange impression that it was looking not just at her, but at everything at once.
>Each of its legs only had two joints as opposed to the usual three.
>>
>>38600420
>There was a partially exposed ball joint where they attached to the main body, granting a broad range of motion, and a hinge-like joint nearer to the end of its legs.
>It walked slowly and deliberately, first bending the lower joint to take its weight off of the ground, then rotating the top to move the surprisingly thin legs forward.
>Four of its six legs had thick membranes leading to the main body, reminiscent of a bat’s wings.
>Could it fly?
>Surely not!
>This creature was far from being aerodynamic, and Twilight couldn’t imagine those legs articulating properly for flight.
>It walked slowly and deliberately, moving even slower than Spike at bathtime.
>The swaying of the trees in the wind provided a stark contrast, reminding all present that time had not slowed to a crawl nor had the air been replaced with molasses.
>This creature was just slow.
>When it finally got its hoof off the ground, Twilight noticed it had a rather bizarre tip.
>It was roughly ovular, but split in half and with a rough, textured base.
>The creature’s hoof started to close around some grass, clamping it tightly in what now looked more like a crab’s pincers than a hoof.
“Where did you find this thing?”
>”Over by Froggy Bottom Bog.”
>”Yeah. You know, where there was a HYDRA.”
“I’m pretty sure this isn’t a hydra.”
>But Bon-Bon had a point.
>There were some scary things out there.
>Though this thing didn’t seem dangerous.
>It was just standing there, slowly moving grass up to its head.
“Oh my gosh, this is exciting! I think we’re about to see it eat!”
>”Because that’s never turned out poorly before.”
>Bon-Bon’s snide comment weighed heavily on Twilight’s mind.
>Or at least it would have, had this thing not been so slow.
>It took nearly a minute for the grasped grass to stop moving, held high above the creature’s main body.
>The big blocky head stared at the grass intently for several seconds.
>And then it dropped the grass, slowly moving its leg back to the ground.
>A few blades landed on its body, but the creature didn’t seem to notice.
“And we’re all terrified by its voracity.”
>Bon-Bon opened her mouth to speak.
>Several seconds later she thought better of it.
>She instead chose to walk away without a word.
>”Oh dear. Do you think maybe that was a bit too mean?”
“Don’t worry, Fluttershy. She’ll get over it. So tell me more about this critter! Is it a tortoise of some sort? Or a crab? What are the wings for?”
>”I don’t know. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.”
>Every action it took was slow and deliberate.
>Twilight had studied natural philosophy for most of her life, and knew well that this beast flew in the face of the natural order.
>It was HUGE for an insect, which it almost had to be since it was a hexapod.
>Its body wasn’t segmented, it had the wrong number of joints, and its head was on its back!
>This thing wasn’t an arthropod like other hexapods.
>>
>>38600426
>Hay, as far as she could tell it wasn’t an anything!
“This creature could be a REALLY big discovery. You should be proud, Fluttershy.”
>”I didn’t do anything special.”
“Yeah you did. You got it here. Come to think of it, how did you do that? It looks kinda heavy.”
>”It followed me home.”
“From Froggy Bottom Bog?”
>Twilight took a good long look at the creature, marveling at how it took multiple seconds for every step.
“How long did that take?”
>”A few days.”
“DAYS. You carefully guided this thing home over DAYS. But it was nothing special. We should really tell somepony about it. I’m sure there are plenty of researchers who’d love to see it with their own eyes.”
>”Oh. Umm…”
“We could have ponies from all across Equestria coming just to take a look! It might be a once in a lifetime opportunity for them, I’m sure they’d come in an instant.”
>”Could we, um, maybe… not?”
“Hm? Why not?”
>”I don’t want to stress the poor dear.”
“But we could learn so much from it! We owe it to academia to figure out everything we can about this thing.”
>”But the poor thing’s injured. We can’t scare it with all those new faces at once, who knows what it might do?”
“Wait, it’s hurt?”
>”Oh yes! Hadn’t you noticed?”
>She had not.
>”If we frighten the dear, who know what it might do? It might even run away!”
“At high speeds, too.”
>”Please, Twilight. We have to be considerate, at the very least until it’s used to ponies.”
>This was a problem.
>Fluttershy was being unusually insistent that they keep this quiet, and she was the one who found the thing in the first place.
>Didn’t she owe it to Fluttershy as a friend to be mindful of those wishes?
>But on the other hoof, this was likely a unique opportunity!
>How often did one find a completely new species like this?
>But on the OTHER other hoof, maybe Fluttershy was right.
>Maybe the publicity would scare the thing and cause problems in the long run.
>But did they have any assurance that it WOULDN’T give trouble later on?
>Wouldn’t it be better to seize the opportunity before they lost it?
>But Fluttershy was good with critters big and small.
>If she said it was hurt and that it would scare easily, shouldn’t Twilight believe her?
>But wait, didn’t that mean that it might just spook anyway?
>What was to be lost then by attracting attention?
>Not to mention that word was already out with Bon-Bon having seen it.
>She was DEFINITELY going to tell somepony.
>What if it was the wrong ponies?
‘I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO!”
>Frightened birds could be heard scattering.”
>Twilight collected herself and offered a sheepish grin as a means of apology.
>The strange beast was slowly walking away from her.
>Very, VERY slowly.
>”Oh dear, I think you scared him.”
“He doesn’t look scared. Wait, him? Is it male?”
>”I think you should leave.”
>>
>>38600441
>Twilight felt as though she’d been bashed between the eyes with a rake.
>FLUTTERSHY of all ponies had just un-invited her!
>Sure, she’d done something pretty silly, but still!
“Fluttershy, I am SO sorry. I just panicked a bit and- I- I- I’ll leave you two alone.”
>”Oh! Oh my goodness, that came across wrong. I’m so sorry, Twilight. I just meant that he’ll probably calm down sooner if you’re not here.”
“Oh. Well, that’s alright Fluttershy. I’m really sorry that I scared, um, him?”
>Twilight took one more quick look at the creature.
>It still felt so out of place.
>Like a crude doodle atop a piece of art, its appearance clashed with its surroundings.
“I’ll see you later, I hope.”
>”Of course! I’d love it if you came by tomorrow.”
“Sure thing! When?”
>”Whenever is convenient.”
>Whenever?
>WHENEVER?
>How was she supposed to write “whenever” into her schedule?
>She was going to be late AND Early!
>Oh no, speaking of that she might be late for market!
>Or maybe early!
>Or maybe-
“I’ll see you tomorrow!”
>Twilight turned tail and ran.

Dear Princess Celestia

Today I made a faux pas and offended a friend by shouting at an inappropriate time. To my great dismay, they asked me to leave their home! However, I learned that they did so without anger in their hearts, nor resentment. When a true friend wishes to be on their own, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re no longer their friend nor does it even mean they’re upset with you. They likely have a good reason, and you should heed their wishes without assuming the worst.

On a related note, I must ask for your guidance. A strange and nigh on ineffable creature has made its way into Ponyville. Despite all the references available to me in this library, I cannot identify any species that are even remotely similar and I suspect that it may be an undocumented species. Fluttershy, the discoverer of this creature, has asked that I not inform the academia so as to avoid stressing it. I wish to respect her wishes, but cannot ignore that this may be a unique opportunity to learn about our world. After much introspection, I have still not decided on how best to approach this once in a lifetime situation and have decided to seek your guidance. What should take priority? My obligation to expand ponykind’s understanding of the world, or my obligation to heed my friends wishes?

Your most faithful student
Twilight Sparkle

It feels good to be back. Maybe a bit surreal too.
>>
>>38600443
Hell yeah! Glad to see you back in action WIK.
>>
>>38600443
It's great to have you back!
It is as captivating as it was.
>>
>>38600443
It's cute seeing Fluttershy being protective of the robot's feeling and not wanting to scare it.
>>
>>38602237
Although now that I think about it I wonder if the robot has an ai or if it's remote operated.
>>
>>38602237
I had a bit of a trouble imagining the way it looks and just sorta fell back to a mental image of the Perseverance rover (but legged instead of wheeled), with fins of the RTG sticking out the back and everything.
>>
>>38603175
Yeah I was also thinking of something that looked like one of the mars rovers.
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>>38600368
Ah is this the new thread?
>>
>>38603779
You know it
>>
>>38603779
Looks like it, I guess.
>>
>>38605111
That or it's all an elaborate joke with a fake update by WIK.
>>
>>38605534
WiK is a changeling then?
>>
>>38603779
No
>>
>>38603779
New thread? Yes.
Me failing to post it and update it before anyone else got to it? Also yes.
>>
>>38606832
At least this time it was because a writefag had an update to their story
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>>38600368
It's been a very slow week at my Ikea so far. If it continues to be like that, I'll probably write something new with Anon and Chrissy.
>>
I never understood what's going on here, but it has ponies and a nice shot of an Akira-Class.
>>
>>38608868
Here's hoping
>>
>>38609293
It does look like it would make a cool wallpaper
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>>38610083
The resolution is a bit low for that unfortunately.
>>
Bump.
>>
>>38610502
There's a higher res version on the artist's abandoned deviant art account if that helps.

https://www.deviantart.com/rattatatus78/art/pony-oc-804880401
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>>38611002
Nice find! Certainly better than the low res booru version. I wonder if it's possible to upload it to a booru and have it merge with the other picture to avoid duplicates.
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>>38611128
I already did that

https://derpibooru.org/images/2867821
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>>38611921
I could see Twilight starting out with just like a standard coffee maker and beans, not liking the coffee and than experimenting trying to make a cup of coffee she likes until she gets to this monstrosity of a coffee maker.
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>>38611002
>2499x1699
What a weird resolution to pick. Like why not round it off to 2500 x 1700?
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>>38609586
For some reason we had a lot of people so I didn't really have the time to write, sorry
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>>38612761
Perhaps he thought it was a rounding issue, like the system was starting the count at zero or something.
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>>38613640
Yeah I guess a rounding issue with whatever software he used makes some sense.
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>>38613111
That's too bad. Hopefully some other time you'll be able to write some more.
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Dunno if this was ever posted over here, it's posted in /rgre/ occasionally
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>>38614850
Huh I don't remember that being posted here. Looks kind of interesting.
>>
>>
>>38616351
This curie mark is kinda unsettling.
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>>38616492
Huh, somehow my brain just never registered that was a laughing man cutie mark
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>>38614850
wait why is that occasionally posted in /rgre/?
>>
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Emergency bump
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>>38600406
AAA aww yesss another fic by WIK!!! This gonna be awesome!!
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>>38617885
>Tfw no Lyra to awake me from the Matrix
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>>38617359
They do lots of worldbuilding there, that pic was used for inspiration for lore. This story is one of the results https://ponepaste.org/4467
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>>38619296
Ok so just a background lore thing for inspiration. Seems a bit strange to go that far for thread about reversed gender roles but then again we are on a board about colorful magic horses so I guess it's not all that strange.
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>>38619296
Hmm maybe I should out that story when I have the time
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>>38620172
That jetbike should really have something like a kickstand in the front so all that weight isn't resting on that turbine.
>>
>>
>>38621438
>Exploring space with ponies
You know the saying that everything gets better with ponies, right?
This is no exception.
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>>38621805
I think you'll find very few exceptions to that rule.
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>>38622750
That's true.
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>>38624496
You know besides 40k I don't think I see a whole lot of gothic buildings in futuristic sci-fi so it's always a pleasant surprise to see
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>>38625103
Honestly if it wasn't for the flying shuttles in the background, it saying it was on Mars, and the tiny holograms above the tablet one pony is holding I wouldn't think it was sci-fi and just think it was a modern day spin on the Crystal Empire.
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>>38626508
how is that coffee staying it the cup?
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>>38626940
Uh... Science?
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>>38626508
Hmm, a space adventure with the mares? Sounds like a dream
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>>38626940
Magical science
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>>38627545
Hell yeah it does.
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>>38626940
She was just lucky so far.
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>>38629083
Well if she's relying on luck she better hopes it doesn't run out when the cup is near that computer.
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>>38629073
I don't know why but somehow despite her wearing a yellow uniform I can't help but think she reminds me of Janeway.
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>>38628405
Imagine spending long weeks on a spaceship together, looking at the stars and just goofing around because there's not much else to do for long stretches of time.
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>>38625605
Yeah, but then again, it does look more interesting that way
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>>38630234
Ah that sounds great
>>
bump
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WiK's return has inspired me to finally turn some of my ideas into greens. This one's first because Solanon mentioned he really likes Lyra.

>You’ve got a death grip on the ceiling handle.
“Jesus Christ, Lyra! Slow down!”
>“I’m only doing 90, Anon.”
“You’re doing 90 miles, not kilometers!”
“Oh relax you big baby. I’ve got it totally under control!”
>You know she does, despite appearances.
>She probably does this shit just to mess with you.
>She’s staring at the cartoons playing on the windshield, pretending to not see anything outside.
>Lyra’s watching Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin get into hijinks, the media players turned as opaque as the projector inside the windshield would go.
>Unlike when it’s showing driving instructions, you can barely see the road through the glass.
>She’s hacked the infotainment center, which was one felony, and was committing another by how hard she was driving the projector.
>Another three laws are being broken by her operating the vehicle. You pray that there aren’t any police nearby.
>A cutaway gag on Family Guy sends Lyra into hysterics. The car swerves violently as she nearly misses an exit.
“Please! I’m begging you, just go a bit slower! I’m gonna fucking hurl!”
>The car slows, a bit.
>Not that Lyra was pushing on pedals, or steering a wheel.
>Despite how old the car looked, it was outfitted with a wireless suite.
>Dangerous, but good luck hacking a link Lyra's using.
>“Ok, I’ll drive normal… But only if…”
>She turns to you.
>The orange nixie tubes you modded into her irises being flickering.
>To the naked eye it looks like they’re controlled by a cheap PWM circuit.
>The controllers you chose were quite high quality, though.
>Your smart glasses (Your younger coworkers called you a zoomer for still using that term) were able to easily record the flashes, however.
>Lyra was broadcasting extremely lewd acts that she wanted you to do to her in morse code.
>As the paragraph grows larger on the interface, you blush and glance away. The text follows your gaze.
“I-I, oh boy, Lyra, I d-don’t think I can-”
>“Why not, lover boy?~”
>You bite your lip.
“You’re such a fucking horndog,” you mutter.
>“Says the guy who bought a ponybot to fuck.”
“I can’t help it, mares are hotter than women.”
>“You’re goddamn right about that. My flanks are very shapely.”
“Thanks to me. The factory default ass you had was downright pitiful.”
>“Two grand well spend, huh?”
>Lyra stands up on the seat, and flicks her tail up, waving her ass in your face.
>A quick glance at your estimated time of arrival tells you you’ve got time.
>You place a hand on each cutie mark, giving her a squeeze.
>Lyra lets out a moan, and all the windows on the car tint even more. You didn’t know they could go that dark.
The lewd part just kinda happened while I was writing, I might just gloss over it
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>>38632259
I was not expecting it turn so lewd so fast but hey I'm not going to complain.
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>>38633154
#deca.mare update.
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Does anyone have Thaumaturgy with Anon saved? I never finished it and all the pastebins are gone.
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>>38633515
It's all linked here: https://ponepaste.org/6924
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>>38633218
Thanks for the heads up.
>>
>>38601067
>>38601088
Glad to be back. Really sorry it took so long, but I had to live up to my name for a while.

>>38603175
Yeah, I had a lot of trouble describing the thing. It might have been easier to do if I broke the narrative, but we're seeing it through the eyes of ponies who've never encountered anything remotely like it. Maybe I'll try to draw it? Fair warning if that happens, I am a TERRIBLE artist.
>>
>>38634400
>Maybe I'll try to draw it? Fair warning if that happens, I am a TERRIBLE artist.
Maybe you could work that into the story and have that drawing be an in universe scribble Twilight made in her notes of it or something similar.
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>>38632259
Very based, made me chuckle
>>
Boop
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>>38633668
Thanks
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>>38600368
I miss when Kanashiipanda wasn't doing only porn.
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>>38637131
Kanashiipanda is still doing things?
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>>38637505
Working on a game called "Book of Lust"
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>>38633220
I'm still sad the /ppp/ decided to focus on voice instead of virtual world, AI and VR shit.
Their autism is appreciated, but "petting the mare" is way higher in my priority list than hearing her sing the last Bieber song.
>>
>>38637505
Furshit, yes.
*Cuckold* furshit to be precise.
... except everyone cuck everyone in his universe, so it's actually just a vast swinger club with pretend marriages for roleplay purposes I guess?
Yeah you are not missing much, it's a sad descent to hell compared to his non-lewd pony stuff of old.
>>
>>38638260
>*Cuckold* furshit to be precise.
Yikes. That's terrible.
>>
>>38638248
Most of the advances in pony VR have been for porn games, because those are what bring in the money. I have a feeling that as AR tech becomes more feasible virtual assistants/pets will become popular.
This story is pretty much the ideal scenerio https://www.fimfiction.net/story/464747/convergence
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>>38638910
I have a feeling she'd have better control soldering if she used her horn instead of her mouth/
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>>38639444
maybe...but would she look as cute as she does now if she did?
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>>38638248
Twilight would totally be into VR stuff.
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>>38641230
This made me laugh so loud that I woke up my dog and she came by to check on me
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>>38641646
It's always good to know that your pets care about you.
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>>38642698
Shouldn't melon be much harder?
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>>38643154
Yeah soft melons usually mean they've started to go bad. If Pinkie was talking how firm the melons are that would make more sense imo.
>>
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>decide to check Pony-VR-Ville's page out of nostalgia since it has been dead since 2016
>realize they have a subreddit
>there is a 2019 update shared by the author's in a random comment section
ffs.
Doesn't seems to have any major changes tho... and the author was talking about restarting from scratch which is never a good sign for an amateur project.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/o4tnf9ir8r3i69j/PonyVRVille%2010-2019%20Build.rar?dl=0

So ... is anyone working on making Friendship Is Optimal happen?
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>>38633218
yay
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>>38644184
>the author was talking about restarting from scratch which is never a good sign for an amateur project.
Yeah I've seen so many creators fall in that trap.
>>
>>38642698
Part of me thinks Pinkie was just VR as a excuse to cop a feel of AJ's ass
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>>38644184
>So ... is anyone working on making Friendship Is Optimal happen?
https://hofvarpnir.ai/
>>
>>
>>38644184
>Friendship Is Optimal
miss me with that tranny shit
>>
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Talking about AIs, I found this picture funny.
Imagine a misaligned paperclip maximizer running about, highly deranged but mostly harmless.
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>>38647670
>FiO is tranny
Oh come on.
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>>38600368
What kind of technologies do you guys think Equestria will lead and lag behind?
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>>38648047
Is it not about transcendence?
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>>38638248
this
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>>38648006
When you said "paperclip maximizer" I first thought you meant something like a pony clippy and not a pony obsessed with paper clips
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>>38648006
I want a mare like that to follow me and try to help me out while doing stuff, even if she's mostly annoying.
>>
>>38648006
Cute mare I'd go to the aclipolypse with.
>>
>>38648963
Huh I wonder what Paperclop would think of an actual paperclip pony.
>>
>>
>>38650965
Sweetie Belle seems scared
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>>38651552
To be fair those cybernetic on Rarity are definitely a bit scary looking.
>>
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I'm surprised this general survived
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>>38647670
"Hooves Art Online"
"World of Foalcraft"
Or whatever other MMO trope you like: FiO was just an example, tranny-obssed-Anon.
>>
>>38652705
That model looks great
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>>38652218
You would think the fashionista might change that.
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>>38654154
Maybe she's making her clothes at the moment? That's why she's isn't looking presentable yet.
>>
>>38653503
And the artist published the model too!
>>
܂>>38600443
>her day was rigidly structured
I like this contrast.
>I’m just trying to remove this eyesore
Don't they need permission to place that there?
>Mare for mayor?
Mayor Mare!
>she only had a single vote
Seems like they don't have a minimum participant requirement.
>there ARE no other candidates
Time to shine Twilight!
>I intend to see it myself sometime
Fluttershy runs a zoo.
>another monster home
Heh. So its not the first time!
>But this creature isn’t a parasprite
The parasprites started the same way..
>she saw a most unusual beast
Funny that she has no fear at all.
>that’s never turned out poorly before
Heh.
>”A few days.”
Wow.
>“Wait, it’s hurt?”
Is it? Fluttershy did not point out where.
>“At high speeds, too.”
Heh.
>WHENEVER?
I have a feeling this will end up being first light. Twilight will be super excited and will not sleep even a second trying to search for a similar creature in the books.

Thanks for the update!
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>>38654792
Nice!
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>>38600443
Based update
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>>38656922
Alad V has grown some taste, I see.
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>>38656922
Lovely view
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>>38657349
I don't know anything about Warframe but if this Alad V is making that then he don't seem all bad.
>>
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>>38658729
It's made from cannibalized exosuits.
Interestingly for me the first result is
someone requesting they make Zanuka a playable character and "Ponuka" canon as a costume
>>
>>38658742
Oh cool the thing it's based on is also a quadruped. I just assumed the pic was pony version of something that's normally bipedal.
>>
>>38659086
>I just assumed the pic was pony version of something that's normally bipedal.
And it kinda is. Warframes are bipedal by default because they're of human origin. What Alad V made from their parts turned into a quadruped though.
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>>38659167
>What Alad V made from their parts turned into a quadruped though.
So he didn't intend to make a quadruped it just turned out that way?
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>>38659167
I think it's cause he stuck a Kubrow's brain in it.
It needs a consciousness to control it.
Don't have evidence he actually did use a dog brain however.

Pic is what happens when you do a Warframe wrong.
Go on a rampage killing everything.
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>>38660414
Well that looks horrifying. Anyways that makes me wonder if someone's done a story with something similar happening to a pony getting their brain put in a warframe like that.
>>
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>>38660905
And here's the one Warframes have a symbiotic relationship with.

It's nanomachines that twist flesh and metal, giving the result traits of both. The one that creates the thing I posted earlier is a different strain, that one spreads uncontrolled. Only Warframes are immune, even machines are infested by it.
>>
>>38632259
>She winks at you, her synthetic folds dripping.
>You move your face closer.
>And then the scowling face of your boss suddenly replaces her vagina.
>A very loud ringer sounds out as the word URGENT flashes across your sight.
“Woah, fuck, shit!”
>You scramble backwards, throwing Lyra’s ass down on the seat.
“Voice answer!”
>His image updates to a live feed.
>He’s even angrier now than he was in the picture.
>Thankfully, he’s unable to see you adjusting your pants.
>>“Anonymous! Where are you?”
“Just down--”
>>“No time. Half the parabolics at site F have gone down. We’re experiencing intermittent failure from the rest. Get your ass over there now and get them back online!”
>Oh, shit.
>That’s bad.
>Your boss picks up a golden key off his desk and flings it towards you.
>It flies through the window he’s sitting in and hovers in front of your chest.
>There’s a tag attached to it.
[EMERGENCY UTILITY EXEMPTION]
>Before you can look back up at the old man he disconnects.
>Instead, you look over to Lyra.
>She’s giddy with excitement, staring at the key.
>You sigh, and hold it out to her.
“Go ahead.”
>“YES!”
>Your interface draws an orange shimmer over her horn and the key.
>She flies it to the dashboard, where a slot has appeared.
>Lyra inserts and turns it, causing several hundred pages of terms and conditions fly past the windshield in an instant.
>She probably read them. Probably.
>An identifier spawns above the car, letting everything know you’re allowed to disobey most traffic laws.
>You wonder if that includes letting ponies drive cars. Probably not.
>Lyra immediately floors it, barely waiting for the cars ahead to automatically swerve out of the way.
>You’re really, really glad that manual operation is disallowed on the freeway.
>In only a few seconds she’s up to 200 miles an hour, with cars parting in front of her like she’s Moses parting the Red Sea.
>You are very glad she’s kept the windows tinted.
>As if reading your mind she turns the tints off, and opens her window.
>Before you can grab her she’s hanging her head outside, laughing manically.
>You try to pull her in, but she’s too strong.
“Lyra you little shit those optics were so fucking expensive I swear if a rock hits them I’ll sell your NFTs to buy new on--”
>The car instantly slams to a stop.
>You jolt a few inches forwards before the seatbelts restrain you.
>Never have you been more happy that autocars require chest harnesses.
>“We’re here! Let’s go save the Internet!”
>You sigh as the harness retracts off of you.
“Living with you is gonna give me a heart attack, I swear…”
>“If that happens I can give you a jolt from my supercaps!”
“I’m not a car. I’m pretty sure you’d flash fry my heart if you dump those into me.”
>“Then I guess you better stay healthy enough to never need ‘em, Anon.”
>Her ears fall.
“I do worry about you, ya know. Humans are a lot harder to repair than ponies. You take such good care of me, but you rarely ever perform maintenance on yourself.”
>>
>>38661004
The Little Tenno Shop Horrors, enjoy your stay.
>>
>>38661690
You can feed Warframes to it to give their powers to other Warframes.
>>
>>38661265
Sweet I'm happy to see more of this.
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>>38662539
Something is going to explode
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>>38662539
Watch_Mares
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>>38661699
Plus, the remnants of the consumed Warframes leave behind one flower each, and they are even in the matching colours of said frame at that. Which is eerily similar to what happened in the movie as well.
>>
>>38662963
Watch_Mares sounds more like a pony Watchmen to me.
>>
>>38663742
You got any better idea?
>>
>>38652705
I love the impression of weight of the figurine. She looks like a real heavy lifter.
>>
>>38664867
Yeah it's got that nice wide solid stance that really helps sell the illusion.
>>
>>38662539
Cute Derp
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>>38665623
That's usually the case
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>>38666157
I'd be hard pressed to find a single instance in which she isn't.
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>>38667028
Parse error
Not_cute instance moved or missing
Rebooting
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>>38667028
I'm sure there's at least some edgy dickhead who drew some creepy stuff of her that you likely wouldn't call cute.
>>
IRL pony bots when?
>>
>>38668365
Soon (TM).
>>
>>38667493
She's even cute as a bot.
>>
>>38668818
Ah yes the ever distant "soon" my mortal nemesis.
>>
>>38668818
Celestia, I wish
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>>38668365
The tech exists right now, it's just prohibitively expensive for the average person.
>>
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>>38670218
>>38668365
If you're willing to scale back your expectations on what a "pony bot" is then there was that Twilight toy from a few years back.
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>>38670676
This looks like it's about on the same level as the furbies were in the 90s and early 00s.
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>>38671028
I'd say it's a bit more advanced being able to move it's limbs like that.
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>>38672099
I long to see this made real
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>>38672359
I want AI pony takeover
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>>38672682
Don't worry. They have already announced their coming in the PPP thread >>38663340.
>>
>>38672694
You have no idea how many times I've listened to this song.
Between that and Moonlight Rendezvous I really want a story about romance with AI Twilight that tries to bring an age of ponies, prosperity and peace
>>
>>38672703
>You have no idea how many times I've listened to this song.
I think I do. Have listened to it at least a dozen times myself in the past days.
>>
>>38672714
If you'll keep listening AI Twilight will find you
>>
>>38673038
Sounds like I need to put it on loop right away
>>
>>38673038
>>38673386
Does it accelerate when I have several instances of VLC playing the song at the same time?
>>
>>38673504
Yes, but only a little bit. To achieve a true instantaneous capture a thousand Anons should put in on and make a radio station that broadcasts it.
>>
>>38673643
It sounds like quite the task to do
>>
>>38673643
Are you sure you aren't secretly plotting to kick off a chaos invasion? This reads like some of their plans.
>>
>>38674268
No, I don't even like Chaos
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>>38674601
That's just what someone serving the Alpha Legion would say.
>>
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>>38675272
Is that Canterlot or just some generic structure in the background?
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>>38675544
I think it is Canterlot. The roofs looks similar.
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>>38672694
Man that's so cool
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>>38674957
If I would play Warhammer it would probably be with The Lamenters
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>>38678099
That's not a winning strategy.
The chapter is cool though.
>>
>>38678099
Yeah the lamenters are cool. Painting that checkerboard though is a bit of a pain.
>>
>>38676922
Man, I heard some ponies are spineless, but this is getting ridiculous.
>>
>>38678178
While Ultramarine Twilight makes a ton of sense for her organized and by the book nature I think Blood Ravens and their quest for knowledge and how many psykers they have are also a good fit for her
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>>38679526
But she isn't Kleptomaniac enough to be a bloody magpie.
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>>38679902
Well there was that time in the movie when she tried to steal Queen Novo's magic pearl.

Also that other time when she and Pinkie broke into the Canterlot library to get a spell to stop time.

And to a lesser extent there was also that heist she organized to help test Canterlot's new defenses (Although that's more in line with the custodes' blood games)
>>
Any good greens which are <5k words?
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>>38681791
>WULF
>FETRIS
What does that mean?
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>>38681825
It means they used a space wolf power sword for reference. Twilight has Arhiman's staff too.
>>
>>38681845
Never mind, I'm an idiot. That's an 'n' and not a 't'. Fenris makes much more sense.
>>
>>38678836
I'll probably try and paint them when I learn to paint.
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>>38681825
Wulf Tetris
>>
>>38681791
>>38681825
>>38681845
>Blood Raven using a stolen sword
HA
>>
>>38682906
I think that's the joke.
>>
>>38682906
What are you talking about. The Blood Ravens acquired that power sword in a ceremonial exchange of arms with the Space Wolves over 2000 years ago. It's not the Blood Ravens faults that the Space Wolves lost their records of the event.
>>
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>>38684289
Sure, Anon.
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>>38684805
That's no moon
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>>38684805
I kind of want to no the context behind this scene
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>>38685185
It's the truth. Just ignore all the other times other chapters lost the paperwork.
>>
>>38686488
The longer I think about it, the more I'm convinced that the Flim Flam brothers would make for stellar Bloody Magpies if they were a thing in Equestria.
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>>38687017
Yeah sounds like a perfect fit
>>
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>>38687989
Those are some nice clean crisp lines
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>>38684805
nice art
>>38686104
probably just a random drawing with no context
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>>38686104
Horn envy gone technological. Twilight wanted to have the longest.
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>>38689474
She may try but Celestia will remain the horniest
>>
>>38689016
I thought it might have been a scene from a fic called "Eterna Malsato"
>>
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>>38690875
Ponka looks like she's having the time of her life.
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>>38691331
She probably is having the time of her life.
>>
>>38690875
You know seeing all those gems in the the asteroids I bet Pinkie is also thinking of bringing some rocks back for Rarity and Maud because they would make great gifts for them.
>>
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>>38687017
That or rogue traders
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>>38693281
I can totally picture them trading faked STCs or some crazy shit like that.
>>
>>38693458
>STCs
spoonfeed me
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>>38680559
Is this mistletoe? Does the Cyborg Pony want me to kiss them?
>>
>>38693458
They'd be pretty ballsy trying to sell a fake STCs. I think fake STC print-outs would be way easier to make and harder to catch.
>>
>>38694385
Standard Template Construct. It's basically a device that contains all the knowledge you need to build certain high quality stuff. Can be anything from knives, bullets, tanks or what have you. And they're pretty damn valuable because they stem from long-lost technology of a past age. So finding one is hard. The reward for one is astronomical though. You can buy planets for this kind of tech.
>>
>>38695790
>The reward for one is astronomical though. You can buy planets for this kind of tech.
This is no joke. Two imperial guard soldiers found a template for a combat knife and they were both raised to nobility and given a planet each.
>>
den
>>
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>>38695790
>>38695405
You guys are making me more hyped for the Owlcat Rogue Trader game
>>
>>38696866
i never understood the appeal of warhammer 40k
>>
>>38696977
It's bonkers and over the top mixed with grimdark. Some like it that way.
>>
>>
>>38697691
What type of plane is that?
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>>38697993
a large one
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>>38697993
An Avro Lancaster if the tags are to be believed
>>
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>>38696977
One thing is that it's such a vast universe there's bound to be something that might interest someone. You want something goofy orks are for you. Do you want a story involving someone uncovering mysteries and conspiracies than about looking at some inquisitors. It can be very flexible allowing to be as serious or not serious as you want it.
>>
>>38702600
#deca.mare update.
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>>38697226
Grimderp
>>
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>>38703245
And memes.
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>>38702838
Thanks for the heads up
>>
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>>38704742
>a cyberpunk universe in where Nightmare moon won and thus it is justified why it is always nightime
noice
>>
>>38704742
Hey that Flim & Flam building has an apple sign and a cider sign. I guess they were able to take the farm from AJ in this setting.
>>
Question.
If I were to hypothetically, say, post an update in a few days, would everyone be equipped to remember what's going on? Or is another recap in order?
That's only partly rhetorical. I don't expect you all to do a bunch of re-reading, of course, but I tend to think that recaps can be a bit trite. Then again, when you necessitate recaps by going dark for six months, it's sort of on you. So I guess I'm to blame for even having to ask.
Anyway, "hypothetically" was actually a clever ruse to disguise the fact that I will indeed be posting an update in a few days. Expect it. And this time, I'll try not to leave you all waiting for quite so long.
>>
>>38705648
Hell yeah! and to answer your question I don't think it would hurt to add a recap to help fresh our memories.
>>
>>
>>38706363
I'm sure there's a penis joke somewhere in the equation.
>>
>>
>>38705648
I've been behind for more than six months, so I'll have to re-read for sure. And I will... Some day...
>>
>>38702838
Ah damn, I forgot to notice you guys.
>>
Tech up.
>>
>>38706376
I wouldn't be surprised
>>
>>38708711
I wonder if there's someone in here who can make sense of that number salad.
>>
>>38708988
It's a whole bunch of different standard equations, nothing really novel. You have various wave equations, pretty much anything involving Psi is a wave or eigenstate equation of some variety. PV=nRT is pretty self explanatory. Everything involving E and B is derived from Maxwell's formulas. Everything with h-bar is generally just various expressions of the photon energy formula. You've got flux calculus with surface integrals, Reimann-zeta functions on the far right, additive wave equations on the bottom left. ISHYGDDT is a very important formula that's used in physics constantly to calculate exasperation in a particular individual. As for the diagrams, there's orbital decay, something with wavefronts(?), wave sums, a convex lens, surface integrals again, and what may or may not be a fidget spinner.
>>
>>38709234
Oops, didn't mean to tripfag. Point is, Twiggy's got a lot on her plate.
>>
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>>38706363
Meanwhile with Dash
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>>38709670
Ah yes, George Orwell's famous paradox.
>>
>>
>>38710846
And it's still going to catch fire, doesn't it?
>>
>>38711163
Just like Homer and the bowl of cereal
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Well, here goes. I was going to post this part and the next one together as a double whammy, but this one got to be fairly long as is and the next one is shaping up to be a monster. Since it seems like the consensus is that a recap is in order (not surprising), let's summarize:
>Twilight and AJ are on the ground driving, just a few miles from Pegasopolis, the stronghold of the PAS. When AJ senses the presence of invisible aircraft, she unconsciously uses her Element to light a beacon in the sky, alerting the pegasi to the imminent invasion.
>Rainbow Dash is taken captive within Staatskongress, where she not only learns that Lightning Dust was the mole, having been secretly passing information to the Canterians in advance of the invasion attempt, but that the Canterian "force" is little more than one squadron, led by Captain Spitfire and Acting Captain Soarin, and an exceedingly powerful unicorn named Trixie, whose natural abilities are being augmented by a device known as Pericles. It is the whim of Chancellor Neighsay of Canterium that Rainbow's father, General Hurricane, be taken to the city of Unicronia for a bartering arrangement with the Exsilists, while Rainbow herself will be installed as the leader of a puppet government.
>After managing to escape her bonds, Rainbow manages to take the Element from Time Turner, who has nominally betrayed her but remains a secret ally. Her newfound gift of slowing time to a crawl gives her the upper hand, and she damages the Pericles device with a stray bullet, thus breaking the illusion spell surrounding the office. She is now racing towards Highstorm Port to rescue her father before it's too late.
>Meanwhile, Acting Captain Soarin and the rest of the Thunder Nine excision force have passed beneath the floating city, and lost one of their rank to what seems to be a nigh-invisible strand of wire with enough rigid strength to hold the city up in the sky. They have spotted the Wunderbolts and are authorized to kill on sight...

******
>>
>>38712551
>By the time you’re out from under the great blackness of Pegasopolis, something else is already preventing you from seeing the sun
>A great fat layer of dark cumulonimbus clouds has swept across the city, engulfing everything in a dense electric fog
>You are Soarin… well, Acting Captain-Lieutenant Soarin
>But right now, you feel no more in charge of the situation than any of your comrades
>Hell, you may as well be one of the citizens up there, dazed and confused by what you can only hope is a well-ordered invasion force
>Surrounded by your Canterian Seventh (minus Silverwing, whose death you’ve still barely begun to process) you sweep through the air in loose formation, keeping close to the arc of the city’s convex underside
>Despite severely limiting visibility, these thunderclouds have already aided you twofold
>For starters, these “support” wires holding up the city, which must only be a few microns in diameter, were invisible to the naked eye just a few minutes ago
>In this thicket of cloud cover, however, you can plainly see where the wires “cut” the fog, leaving long, wispy white trails of moving steam in their wake
>They’re arranged in a neat grid, spaced about twenty-five meters apart; it was only a matter of time before somepony came into contact with one
>If you had known about their existence, if the Chancellor had ordered ANY kind of intel-gathering before this invasion sequence, then Silverwing would still be alive right now
>You shake your head, dispelling those thoughts along with the droplets of cold water that have condensed in your mane
>None of that is worth thinking about until this job is done, and the Wunderbolts are dispatched with
>Speaking of the Stormwing elite, the second advantage this sudden cloud cover provided was that it completely erased the direct sightline the enemy had of your squad’s approach
>You would’ve been toast once you got in range of their guns, but now that you’re where they were the last time you saw them, they seem to have disappeared
>Retreated back to the nest…
“Thunder Nine, form up!”
>You shout into the fog, and soon the hazy silhouettes flying alongside you like myriad shadows hedge closer, and their identities become clear
>Their faces, too, are wrought with varying degrees of anger, shock, and sadness
>Prism Glider, who witnessed Silverwing’s bisection firsthoof alongside you, seems particularly sullen and preoccupied
>You have to act the Captain, YOU…
>They’re all hovering around you now, and you have to say something
>After a moment, you speak into the grey mist, your breath condensing in a puff with each syllable
>>
>>38712554
“The Wunderbolts have most likely retreated back topside. They have the high ground advantage again. If we try flying up to the city level now, and the cloud cover dispels, we’ll be torn apart. But we don’t have much of a choice in that matter, since the alternative is retreat, and this is the best opportunity we’ll ever get.”
>”How can we even be sure that Spitfire and the unicorn successfully acquired Hurricane?”
“We can’t. At least not until comms resume. But since the unicorn is the one doing the jamming, it’s safe to say that she’s still in action and still has a handle on the situation. Spitfire rendezvous’d with her over an hour ago, so she has to be safe too. If everything’s going according to timetable, General Hurricane should be en route to Highstorm Port for extraction right now, in the custody of our other asset.”
>Lieutenant Snowflake, who’s fluttering across from you in the pale mist, raises her visor and exposes bloodshot and darkened eyes
>”Th…this doesn’t…”
>You quickly direct your gaze to her, trying your best to ignore the shimmering carapace of Pegasopolis’ underside looming over you
“What is it, Lieutenant?”
>”This… doesn’t make any sense! None of this does! If the General has already been removed from the city, we’ve won, haven’t we? The time it would take for them to reorganize after something like that, it wouldn’t require all this! Why are we targeting this specific regiment? Why does this feel more like an assassination than an invasion?”
>You shoot Snowflake a hard look, and she quickly lowers her worrying eyes
>The rest do the same; if it were Spitfire saying the words you were saying, YOU would do the same… but you can’t
>This is all there is… just following orders
“Our part in this is a small one, but it’s an essential one. We’ve lost the element of surprise, but that doesn’t mean we just give up and start questioning why we’re here in the first place. We’re here because our country needs the job done. We’re here because THEY, up THERE—”
>You gesture broadly at the humming monstrosity overhead
”—they wouldn’t think twice about doing it to us if they could. The Wunderbolts are young, but they’ve been trained since foalhood to kill. They’re told to kill us, they do it without question.”
>Without question…
>Yes, you’re questioning, aren’t you?
>They all are… everypony hovering about you now is questioning, trying to see through the mist
>There are forms there, shadows only, too scattered and faint to really mean anything, but you know they can all see them
>If there was only a straight path, a guideline from A to B, if it were so easy to make the hard choices, that would make you a worse person, wouldn’t it?
>But because it’s so difficult, because you question and they don’t, because you have a conscience and the ENEMY doesn’t…
“We are right. This is right. That’s all there is to it.”
>>
>>38712559
>Condensation slides down your muzzle, and you shiver as a biting wind passes right through your bones
>Wordlessly, you push off the air towards the dome, not really caring if the rest follow
>But the sounds of rustling feathers all around tell you they are, and you don’t know whether to feel good or bad about that
>Silverwing…
>You all know what being a soldier means, but to die so suddenly, so senselessly…
>Somepony has to pay for that
>Shaking the moisture from your face, not sure what’s rain and what’s tears, you twirl upwards, gaining speed as you approach the darkness of the dome
>It continues to curve outward for some ways, and the lip of the structure and the overhangs of a few buildings are visible through the haze about fifty meters above your head
>Flying the short way, however, would be almost certain death; the Wunderbolts are waiting directly above, and they likely have flak backing them up
>To gain the high ground in preparation for a firefight, you’d need to go the long way, push out far enough into the haze that you couldn’t be seen making your way above the lip
”On me!”
>You shout downward into the void, twirling backwards into a somersaulting loop that sends you away from the black dome
>A square motion, just a few dozen meters out, then up again, then back… that’s all it’ll take to mask the approach
>A tight V-formation of shady figures splits the fog in your wake, first arcing past your reach, then gliding closer until they’re in strike positions
>Mimicking Spitfire, you sign wordlessly with your hooves, and three of your comrades fan out across the left flank, each following a slightly different trajectory
>They already know the drill; wait until fire commences, then move in to cover the advance from a distance
>Creating chaos is the only chance you have
>You swoop upwards, and your remaining numbers follow; this time, the characteristic “swoosh” of their motion is a bit louder than you anticipated
>The wind in your ears must be picking up, you didn’t expect this much noise or resistance from…
“STOP!”
>Once again, it takes a few moments for rational thought to catch up with your instincts
>Several of your comrades overtake you as you push rapidly against your own motion, settling into a ragged flutter in midair
>Two of them go too far, and before you can even think of calling them back down with a bark, a single shadow drives one squarely into another
>”Agh!”
>”Eungh!”
>The silhouette which just passed overhead, no doubt a Wunderbolt masked by the foggy haze, just struck the two stragglers, sending all three careening into space away from your objective
>If they anticipated your movements, they must have overestimated the distance you’d traveled, because that maneuver did NOT appear planned
“Thunder Nine! Combat ready!”
>>
>>38712564
>The A70 mounted gun resting upon your shoulder flares into action, scanning the horizon (if it can even be called a horizon) for more hazy shapes
“Sandstorm! Rear up! Check what just happened!”
>”R-roger!”
>With a pant, Lieutenant Sandstorm doubles back, racing out into the unknown in the direction of the three tangled fliers
>You can only pray that the worst hasn’t already happened, but for now you have to focus on what lies ahead
>As you and everypony else drift closer and closer to the megastructure, now level with its topside, the scope of it all comes plainly into view as the obscuring fog thins slightly
>While you’d initially aimed to surface at Highstorm Port, the airship docking zone where the inside source informed you the Wunderbolts would be, that’s clearly not where you are right now
>Not that it matters much, since your targets are here, but the fact remains that you’ll have to adjust your tactics slightly
>Several brick structures, residential by the looks of them, stretch cantilevered out from the lip of the inverted dome
>While there are no enemy personnel immediately visible, several of the windows of a few of those buildings are conspicuously open
>Earlier, in the panic of it all, you managed to count about a dozen Wunderbolts looming in the distance before the fog rolled in
>Now, you suspect, they’re all holed up in those tenements, waiting for you to make the first move
>You’re playing on their home turf; that was always the case, and now it’s becoming frightfully clear that whatever they lack in combat experience, they more than make up for in knowledge of the battlefield
>The fog recedes ever more, the distant clouds becoming thinner and wispy, and the diffuse light from the setting sun changes in color from milky white to a deep, verdant yellow
>Everypony in the division is equipped with night vision equipment, but it’ll only be useful if you last long enough to make it useful
>”Soarin! Soarin, we have one!”
>The open windows black and uninviting, yet still apparently empty, you glide about to face the sound of your name in the opposite direction
>Out of the receding haze comes a large murky blob, which quickly resolves into four flying silhouettes
>Sandstorm, her glossy coat the color of the distant evening sky, approaches first, her eyes dark and resolved
>Behind her comes a tangled mass of two of yours, High Spirits and Geronimo, restraining a third pegasus wearing a uniform that’s all too familiar to you from the briefing
>She’s doing everything she can to try to free herself, to no avail; the tips of her wings are matted and bruised, and more than a few red welts are already beginning to form on her cheeks and muzzle
>Despite her combat gear and close-cropped ivy-colored mane, however, the healthy brightness of her coat betrays her youth
>She can’t be any more than eighteen or nineteen…
>”…off me, Canterian scum! Traitors to your species! Unhoof me NOW!”
>>
>>38712572
>While the Wunderbolt struggles and yells, Sandstorm flutters up beside you, gesturing to approach the young pegasus
>”Looks like she got a little cocky. Saw High Spirits and Geronimo through the fog and figured she could take both of them at once. She would’ve had ‘em on surprise alone, too, if you hadn’t sent me in after.”
>You nod carefully, eyeing the windows suspiciously once more before checking to make sure the others are watching them just as diligently
>Slowly, you hover closer to the captive Wunderbolt, careful not to make any sudden movements
“They’re in those buildings, aren’t they?”
>”Ssssss!”
>The mare whips about and snarls at you, and for a moment you feel like recoiling, before reminding yourself that she alone poses no threat
“My comrades have already relieved you of your pulse trigger, as well as any other weapons you were concealing. Flying out all on your own to face us probably didn’t crack the top five best choices you’ve made in your life.”
>”Screw you! Fishface landloving goatherder, don’t even DESERVE those wings! You’ll get nothing out of me!”
>The way the young mare thrashes reminds you of a rattlesnake with its head stuck in a jar
>Maybe a different tack…
“Ahhh. I get it now. You weren’t trying to face us at all. All that fog? You figured we were still down below. So the only reason you’d try to fly out in one direction, away from the battle, away from the rest of your unit, is if you were—”
>”Don’t even suggest it, carcass-mouth! Gorgons take your eyes, I’ll pluck your wings feather by feather!”
>Feisty
>That seemed to strike a nerve
>And…
“So they ARE in those buildings?”
>”I never said—”
“You want to know something, little filly?”
>You reach into the folds of your combat vest, brandishing the hook-mounted knife there to gleam in the newfound sunlight
“One of my friends was just killed down there, beneath your ridiculous city in the sky. Torn in half, by one of the wires that hold this city afloat.”
>At that, the Wunderbolt pauses, giving High Spirits and Geronimo a bit of time to tighten their grips around her withers
>”I don’t even know what you’re talking about.”
>Hm
>You haven’t got much reason to doubt her on that account
>Could it really be that the pegasi of Pegasopolis are unaware of the miracle substance beneath their city?
“Torn in half. My friend. He never even saw it coming. But YOU will.”
>You grit your teeth, trying your damdest to forget how young the glaring soldier before you really is, and wrench her muzzle up with your free hoof
“Because if you don’t give up your unit’s position right now, I will personally saw you in half, starting between your eyes and ending between your flanks, with this knife, right here. And then I’ll do it to the rest of ‘em.”
>Blood’s rushing to your brain
>For a second, you genuinely believe the words coming out of your mouth
>>
>>38712579
>Silverwing, this whole Celestia-forsaken mission… and they’d deserve it, right?
>The knife is beside you, attached firmly to your outstretched hoof, and you can see the terror in her eyes…
>You want… to…
>”Soarin!”
>Sandstorm’s voice rings in your ears once more, pulling you out of the trance
>(“S-s-s-eeeee you-ou-ou”)
>Before you can react further, you feel a warmth in your hindleg, followed by the sound of a report nearby
CRACK
>No, the report came first, didn’t it? Or…
>You look down, down into the miles of space between you and the ground
>Down at dark liquid spilling down into that same void, spilling out of a matted hole where your fetlock used to be
“GnnnnnnNNN!”
>It takes several more seconds for the pain to even register, but by the time it does you’ve already fallen backwards into Geronimo’s outstretched hooves
>Everything’s moving; the sky, your comrades, the city, the Wunderbolt
>That last one’s zipping back towards those tenement windows at top speed, or at least what appears to be top speed
>Everything’s hazy, this pain is all you can concentrate on anymore
>But even with it all unfolding, you still manage to recognize the subtle sparks of light coming out of those dark holes in the brick, the staccato-sound of rapid fire projectiles arcing in every direction
>Time to… engage…
>”Soarin! Soarin, you’re hit!”
“I… worked that out… on my own, Sandstorm.”
>Through gritted teeth and strained throat, you manage to eke out those words, practically wishing you were dead rather than deal with this pain
>”Celestia above, looks like they severed a tendon.”
“Cel…est…ugh…”
>There’s a damn waterfall of blood leaving you, and you can feel the chill replacing it in your head and hooves
>Sandstorm’s doing something with her medkit below you, but you’re too busy focusing on what’s happening in front of you to care
>The rest of the Seventh are circling one another, practicing evasive maneuvers and taking every opportunity to return fire
>The three you sent out on the wing fly directly overhead in tight formation, luring a few visible tracer rounds away from the main unit as they go
>Still, they’ve got no cover at all; something’s bound to connect out there…
>Celestia, this hurts…
>(“S-s-s-eeee you, daughter of Hurricane-cane-cane”)
>They say you hear all sorts of crazy voices before you black out
>They never said those voices would sound so whiny
>”Don’t talk, Soarin. Just let me do what I’m doing.”
“Didn’t… talk… cnyoo… dodat… while flying?”
>”Part of the job. Don’t worry, it isn’t as bad as it looks. Some amphetamines and gauze, and we’ll be back in it. Just let me—”
>(“N-not the daugh-ter-ter… where is she-she-she… need Th-th-thunder nine…”)
>”I told you not to talk, Soarin! You’re only going to make this more painful than it is!”
“Wasn’t… me…”
>Sandstorm’s hearing the echoed voice, too
>>
>>38712586
>Weakly, you loll your head back to meet Geronimo’s confounded gaze; he looks like he’s thinking the same thing you’re thinking
>Now, whether you’re really thinking it or not, or somepony else is thinking it for you, is another question
SHK-SHHHHHHHH
>Without anesthetics, the feeling of the syringe plunging into flesh makes you cringe, but a few seconds later it feels like nothing at all
>Your hindleg feels loose, maybe a little bit hollower than usual, but otherwise it’s much better
>Doesn’t feel like a hunk of lead just blazed through it, at least
>”Aaaaand… there. All set.”
>Head spinning, you return your attention to Sandstorm below, who’s just finished dressing your wound in a bandage that’s already begun to bleed through
>No matter; the feeling of hollow-ness has spread from your leg to your whole body
>And somehow, it’s not a bad kind of hollow
>The wind’s whistling through your every pore, you feel like… like…
>Like you should have tried these amphetamines a long time ago
>You tap Geronimo on the wither, who promptly lets you go; your wings stretch out on their own, then beat in time with your heart
>Those Wunderbolts are about to get a taste of their own—
>(“TTTTHHHHHUUUNDER NIIIIIIIIIIIIINE!”)
“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”
>”AHHHHHHHHHH!”
>The scream is deafening, and you’re certain now that you weren’t the only one to hear it
>Everypony, including your comrades engaged in the firefight overhead, clutch their hooves to their ears, desperate to block out the voice which seems to be emanating from everywhere at once
>Or rather, from your own brains
>(“Thunder Nine. Trix… Thunder One requires you to listen carefully.”)
>Thunder One?
>What the hell IS this?
SWOOOOOSH
>Before you can even begin to question the high-pitched mare’s voice that’s invaded your inner thoughts, you’re swept towards the dome at a terrible speed
>Something large and fast just blew you away with the sheer force of its air pressure
>(“Thunder Nine-nine-nine… Thunder One requires you to listen care-careful-ul-ully.”)
>Bewildered, you watch as the rest of the unit zooms down towards you to avoid whatever’s just disrupted the action
>And it doesn’t take much guesswork to determine what that “whatever” could be
>For just as the firing ceases from inside those buildings, its occupants probably even more confused than you are, something massive begins to return fire
>You can only watch from below as the no-ship decloaks, revealing its slick jet-like exterior, its twin cannons plowing pony-sized holes through those walls
>”Take coveeeeeeeeer!”
>The scream emanates from inside the building, of that much you can be sure
>As you imagine all those greenhorn Wunderbolts scrambling every which way to avoid the steady barrage from the no-ship, another message from your “conscience” greets you
>(“Thunder Nine… can’t… control… much longer… Pericles… too… damaged…”)
>>
>>38712589
>”What in Celestia’s name is it talking about?!”
>Sandstorm, watching the hailstorm above with awe, seems to be addressing you
“You know as much as I do, Lieutenant!”
>”But…”
>(“Can’t… hold on… must get… to… the daughter of Hurricane… escaping… Staatskongress…”)
>Now that one got your attention
>Can the voice… this voice claiming to be Thunder One… can it hear you?
“Where’s Spitfire?”
>”What?”
“I’m talking to the damn voice! Where is Spitfire?!”
>(“Spi-spi-spit… Trixie doesn’t have time-ime-ime… Trixie… needs…”)
“WHERE IS SHE?!?”
>(“With… Trixie! Your captain… safe-afe… must get to… Rainbow Dash… daughter of Hurricane… Staatskongress… NOW!”)
“GAH!”
>That last word probably would’ve deafened you if you were listening to it with your ears, rather than your mind
>Whoever Thunder One is, she must be a very powerful unicorn to communicate with you from such a distance telepathically
>You’ve only heard legends of things like this happening, and none of those ever turned out so great for anypony involved…
>Could this be Pericles? Could this be what Spitfire warned you about?
>(“Patch… through-ough? This isn’t a radio, you… Trixie can’t… hagh…”)
>At once, the dual fire of the no-ship ceases
>Then, the characteristic hum of its engines turns arrhythmic and crude
>It tilts on its axis midair, and then…
>It begins to get bigger
>No, not bigger…
“MOVE!”
>Without thinking, you snatch Sandstorm by the wing and practically toss her backwards; she spirals through the air like a flying top
>Shoving Geronimo back also, you ignore the twinges of agony from your fetlock and swoop down and away from the falling jet
>Its hulking frame just barely misses you, and you’re flung back again by the cascading air pressure as it tumbles down at an angle towards the inverted dome
>(“Can’t… maintain… control… must… overcharge… Pericles…”)
>Silently, the menace of a craft spins out of control, away into the darkness beneath the shadow of monolithic Pegasopolis
>Then, just as you suspected it might, it seems to catch on something that isn’t there, before continuing on its fatal trajectory to the earth just a bit slower than before
>Before long, it appears to be wrenched apart by a massive grip, then fritters off in two cleanly bisected halves
>Away and down… even a steel plated military marvel was no match for a wire the width of a single hair
>What chance did Silverwing stand?
>(“F-fine… Trixie can see if she can… fold you into… the link…”)
SHHHHH-ZAAAAAA
>An alien-sounding hum occupies your mind for a few moments, followed by a VERY unlikely voice
>(“Soarin… SOARIN! Can you hear-ear me?”)
>Spitfire?
>(“YES! I’m in the… it doesn’t matter-atter! Rainbow Dash is go-going to Highstorm-orm Port! She’s trying to reach Target Prime before he’s evac’d!”)
>>
>>38712593
>Target Prime… that’s General Hurricane
>Spitfire’s talking to you telepathically, somehow; she’s with Thunder One, the Unicronian
>Can she… hear your thoughts?
(“Ye-ye-yes, nimrod! All five of them! Now g-go! Abort-bort pursuit of secondary tar-ar-argets! FORGET THE WUNDERBOLTS!”)
>The Wunderbolts…
>Even if they weren’t blasted to bits by that no-ship, then they still can’t be in great shape
>And whatever condition they’re in, they’re right above you! You could take everypony up there now, and finish the job!
(“Negative, Soarin! Forget the Wunderbolts! Rainbow Dash is Target Prime now! Isolate, incapacitate, take any and all non-lethal measures-sures! Highstor-or-or-orm Port! GO!”)
>You heard her!
>Wait… you still need to use your mouth to speak
“You heard her! R-right?”
>”Affirmative.”
>”Roger, Acting Captain!”
>All your comrades, who have all taken to hovering in a loose semicircle around you, appear to have heard your psychic conversation with Spitfire and Thunder One
>They all look just as bewildered as Sandstorm, and probably you as well, but one thing’s for absolute certain
>The port is just around the bend of the main platform, and the daughter of General Hurricane is headed there right now to prevent his extraction
>And you’re starting to think that there’s no backup coming…
“Right. Right, then. Thunder Nine, form up on me! The Wunderbolts are no longer our prime objective! Repeat, the Wunderbolts aren’t our problem! We skirt the edge of the city, and under no circumstances do we fly directly beneath the dome! We move right now, and we just might… aw, no.”
>Distinctly equine movement attracted your attention out of the corner of your eye
>Eight or nine sulking shapes emerge from the smoking craters the no-ship left behind in the tenements above
>Eight or nine mares, all clad in that familiar black and blue, all clearly struggling to maintain their balance
>All looking directly down at you
“We move. Now.”
>You take flight, propelling your whole body off of the wind, and the rest of the squadron follows suit
>Rapid fire rounds whiz between you and your comrades, but you can’t be bothered to care now
>The Wunderbolts, if they’re capable of it, are the ones giving chase now
>Cloud are forming again, this time far darker than they were before
>And they aren’t mere thunder clouds; they’re bathed in a strange blue light, and materializing all around you far more rapidly than should be possible
>A storm is silently brewing, and you have a pegasus to find
>Spitfire… what have you gotten us into?

******

That's all. Thankfully it didn't turn out quite as long as I thought it would. Like I said though, the next one is going to be a doorstopper, because a lot's going to happen and I'd rather have it all be one unit than break it up. At the rate I'm going, it may be finished by next week, but in typical fashion, I'm not about to make any empty promises. Cheers!
>>
>>38712603
>the next one is going to be a doorstopper, because a lot's going to happen and I'd rather have it all be one unit than break it up. At the rate I'm going, it may be finished by next week,
Oh ho That sounds like quite the feast of content coming soon
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>>38712603
Thanks for the update Sol!
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>>38714110
They have to work on the drainage systems.
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>>38714758
It seems no matter far tech goes there is always going to be problems with infrastructure.
>>
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>>38715309
You just reminded me of one of my favorite quotes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jufq5o13Pc
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>>38716630
Ah yes. That was a great movie.
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>>38717104
Hell yeah it was
>>
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>>38715897
Stand by for Rarafall Darling
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>>38715897
Rarity looks really cute in that pic.
>>
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>>38719666
ty. i drew it.
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>>38719950
based artfriend
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>>38719950
That's some good stuff, Anon.
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Yeah, this is gonna be long. Easily my longest update to date. I've done a LOT of writing this weekend, and I still think I'm only about two thirds of the way through it. Consider this as me making up for all the waiting I made you guys do, by dumping a metric fuckton of words all at once. Not like I have much better to do right now, since my big toe is all fucked up and I basically can't walk or drive for another week and a half. Cheers! ow
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>>38721754
Letting Derpy anywhere near this mech is just begging for disaster.
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>>38722551
#deca.mare update.
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>>38722588
Thanks Ponegreen!
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>>38721961
Thanks Sol. Sorry to hear about your toe. I'm glad that you're doing good progress with your fic. Please don't burn out.
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>>38721961
>Not like I have much better to do right now, since my big toe is all fucked up and I basically can't walk or drive for another week and a half.
Well silver linings I suppose. Hope you start feeling better soon.
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>>38722415
Eh what could possibly go wrong?
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>>38725093
She could break the thing. By sitting on it.
>>
>>
>>38725683
Ah yes the Derpy booty must not be underestimated
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>>38726288
why did we move the engine to the front? it's much more sensible to have it be at the back, near the rear axle.
>>
>>38726868
Front wheel drive vehicles benefit from having the engine on the front since it distributes the weight toward the drive train's interface with the road, namely the actual powered tires. More weight means more friction means more traction. If you were to put the engine in the back you'd need to compensate with a weight, or accept that your wheels are going to spin out much more often.

The alternative of course is rear wheel drive, and this does have some perks. Problem is that you're way more likely to spin out since your vehicle is now being pushed from behind rather than pulled from in front. A momentary asymmetry in traction such as from a puddle or patch of ice can be deadly. Try pushing a pencil from behind and notice how it'll try to go sideways if you're not quite centered, you'll see what I mean.
>>
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>>38727855
I kind of want to see a Doc Brown Anon in Equestria story now.
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>>38728906
Let me guess she has a theoretical degreed in physics?
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>>38729488
No, she's a stage talent. A computer is nothing more than a fancy smoke machine with funny sizzling sounds for her.
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>>38729494
Truly she is such a genius
>>
Screw it. I wanted to wait a few more days to drop it, but I just can't. As long as everyone's read the last one that's going to read it, I'll throw it out now. Before I do, let me just say that this is one of those Moments (tm) that were in the earliest drafts of this story, from fully 2 and a half years ago. Meaning I've been dreaming of the day I could finally put pen to paper on this for THAT long. Here's hoping it lives up to expectations, both mine and yours. Hopefully you can tell what I'm talking about. Here goes.

>The disguise worked, but not in the way you expected
>All around you, up and down Avemequus Square, hundreds of pegasi are scattering in every direction
>The pitiful military presence remaining hover at their pre-assigned key positions, feebly attempting to maintain order to no avail
>In this clunky ornamental getup, you might pass for one of them
>And so far, you haven’t been turned into meat paste by one of that witch’s invisible choppers, have you?
>That has to mean you’re doing something right
>You are Rainbow Dash, daughter of Hurricane
>Whatever path you’ve carved for yourself, whatever niche you’ve discovered that suits you, this will always be your birthright
>And yet… birthrights can be taken and given so easily, can’t they?
>Time Turner proved as much to you when he willingly hoofed over the artifact of immense power now firmly fixed in the cup of your right forehoof
>This Element, which has been passed down through his family for generations in secret, a thousand year hidden dynasty tracing all the way back to King Kabardian, the first Exsilist
>Traced down an infinite line intersecting time at all angles… you won’t even pretend to remember what the images Time Turner conjured in your trance-state made you feel
>Loyalty, you suppose… loyalty to a destiny you’ve never known, but which is apparently just as much yours as it is his
>Why you?
>He CHOSE you, that much is clear… he specifically singled you out to grant you the power of slowed time
>It’s a question you’ll be asking yourself for all twelve seconds of your remaining life
>Hastily, you scan the skyline, searching for great big looming aircraft, but you find none
>They ARE invisible, after all, or so says the enemy
>It could all just be one massive bluff, but you aren’t ready to take that risk
“Let’s see… Highstorm Port… Highstorm Port…”
>Your sense of direction has been completely screwed by the illusion field Trixie cast on the interior of Staatskongress
>Couple that with the blood you’re losing from this blade-shaped wound above your wing, and the still-lingering headache from being knocked unconscious, and you’re surprised you can even tell which way is up
>But Highstorm Port is at the northernmost tip of the platform, and north is…
>(North is where she fell and you couldn’t stop her)
>That way
>>
>>38730428
>You peer down the long boulevard of slick marble buildings stretching from the square all the way down to the gardens at the Cloudsdalia district
>Too many pegasi to count are already being funneled in that direction, whipped up into a frenzy from that message from the Chancellor which seems to have stopped now
>They’re trying to evacuate… they all want out of the city before whatever happens happens
>It’s not exactly unreasonable, but you never would’ve guessed that the PAS would be this fragile
>It’s always been a marble edifice in your mind; unshakable, immobile, standing above all the rest
>And now, without an army or even a bomb, the Canterians are rending the city to pieces
>After adjusting the straps on your ill-fitting armor, you blend in with the flow of panicking traffic, silently wincing from the pain of squeezing your wound every time you flap your wings
>(“See-ee-ee you-ou…”)
>Trixie’s voice still lingers in the recesses of your mind, but you ignore it and keep moving
>She’s bluffing; even though she’s proven that she has a rough psychic picture of your current location, her hyperbola-shaped teleportation spell takes so long to initiate that she can’t possibly hit you with anything before you’re a dozen meters from where you started
>If she could take you out with another precise blow, she would’ve done so already
>So either she’s totally out of options, or she’s got something else planned…
>The long concrete tiles rush beneath you as you swerve downwards, avoiding the thickest part of the crowd and sweeping between two hastily-constructed steel fences
>The bulk of the city guard, far ahead, look to be checking IDs as the thronging masses attempt to make their way through their checkpoints, but it’s a hopeless endeavor
>For every pony who’s getting carded, three more are slipping by, and there’s nothing the guard can do to prevent it
>Still, this is going to take too long
>You can’t fly up, above the rooftops; that’ll only mark you out for Trixie’s gunships
>And you can’t get made by one of those guards, since you still have absolutely no way of knowing the scope of this operation
>There could be a traitor to the PAS on every street corner, more operatives disguised as guards, the works
>And they’re all going to be looking for YOU
>You touch down on a raised divider in the middle of the avenue, trying in vain to collect your thoughts, to determine your next move
>Your shadow, elongated monstrously by the setting of the sun, is crossed several times a second by those of the aerial passersby above you
>Although, now that you’re looking at it more closely, you can’t help but notice that it’s begun to grow pale and insubstantial
>Light is fading rapidly, and everything’s begun to turn a deep blue shade from the storm clouds roiling in the city’s midst
>The weather dispersal units are malfunctioning, probably sabotaged… perfect
>>
>>38730429
>Actually… it might just BE perfect!
>Rejuvenated, you peer upwards to see that many of the screaming civilians have begun to bump into one another due to lack of visibility
>This inclement weather can only be a good thing for you, if it gives you a clear shot to Highstorm Port ABOVE the skyline
>Your sense of direction, disoriented as you may be right now, is one of your greatest strengths as a flier, and you foresee no difficulties in making it to the port through this dense electric fog
>But you need to move NOW, and there’s no need for this guard armor weighing you down anymore
>You remove the ornate bronze plates, then thrust powerfully with your wings, bearing the pain as you rise, first one story, then two, then three…
>Then you’re level with the stream of the crowd, avoiding a particularly nasty tangle of about eight fliers smashing into one another, blind to one another’s trajectories
>Then you can see the tiled roofs of some of the lower municipal buildings, then those of the high rises, and then…
>You’re free
>Free to the wind, free in a sea of cerulean clouds, your internal compass the only thing keeping you oriented towards the port
>Just a kilometer or so north-northwest of here, and you’ll start to see the tethered blimps rising from that flat embankment…
>You zoom off in that direction, your naked mane and tail streaking behind you, wet from the condensation of this fog
>Droplets of mist obscure your vision, but you blink them away rapidly, straining your features against the whipping wind
>Just a kilometer…
>You stretch your forehooves before you, letting them shield you, letting the air flow around you
>It’s more aerodynamic this way, and you can immediately tell the difference
>You strain against all the confines of yourself, because now is the moment, now is the time that you’re allowed to go all out, to make up for what happened way back then
>(When she fell)
>Now, more than ever, this Element affixed to your hoof, its crimson energy crackling through your very soul, you feel capable of earning the mark on your flank
>(And you didn’t catch her)
>Faster than lightning, more potent than a thunderclap
>(You could have broken the limit)
>And you will!
>You WILL!
“GO!”
>The spray of the mist turns to the sting of rain as the clouds grow heavier still, and within only a few seconds it begins to pour
>Your coat is matted, and your speed begins to diminish, but you don’t let up
>Your wings are thrashing like turbines now, the pain in your wither long forgotten
>Everything is focused on a narrow point at the center of your vision; infinite lines drawn out of the ends of space into a bead of light screaming for you to come closer
>The light is as red as blood, red as the Element, and you can do nothing before you reach it
>A light… two lights…
>A crack of lightning, as crystal blue as the clouds obscuring it
>>
>>38730436
>The rumble of distant thunder, blocking out briefly the constant patter of the storm on your bones
>An ear-splitting siren from below, which you can only guess is a warning to all those who still haven’t got the memo
>The apocalypse is here…
>You straighten your posture, tense your muscles against the rising of the cold front, and blast forth with renewed resolve
>Your bearings must be slightly off, you can’t believe you haven’t seen at least one dirigible by now
>Maybe you could reduce altitude, if only for a moment, just to see if the port is still—
>(“FOUND YOU, DAUGHTER OF HURRICANE!”)
SHA-DOOOOOM
>Mind and body, violated in tandem
>A snake of hot blue electricity cracks across the sky, arcing so close to your face that you can feel the steam of vaporized rain sear your muzzle as you pass through it
“Agh!”
>The voice was both psychic, though it sounded like it came from all directions at once
>Storm clouds ripple across your vision faster than the eye can perceive; no, they’re changing into SOMETHING, something recognizable
>For your part, you slow yourself, conscious of just how dangerous your surroundings really are
>That arc of lightning didn’t nearly electrocute you by accident
>Hell, it wasn’t even lightning at all
>And for that matter, this whole storm is no storm
>That’s something you should have figured out before you flew all the way up here, so desperate to find your father that you forgot the first lesson that they teach you at the Academy
>Never fly blind…
>Before you, towering perhaps a hundred meters, is the face of the witch, Trixie the Unicronian, composed entirely of undulating blue clouds
>At first glance, it might look like a trick of the eye, but she’s there; her pointed muzzle, her sneering lips, her ears, her flowing mane leaving trails of nimbus in its wake
>And her eyes, twin red auroras, the same that you believed you’d been imagining before, are pointed directly at you
>She’s made a clearing in the skies, just big enough for you to take in her entire twisted visage, and for you to take stock of the sheer scope of this cataclysm she’s summoned
>Blue lightning cascades across the surface of the dark cloud cover like a wave, illuminating Trixie’s gleeful face from every angle
>Far below you, the highest crowns of smoldering buildings stand out like volcanic crags from an ocean, the victims of her electric death storm
>Great Gorgons… you’d thought that she…
>(”Thought that I, the Great and Powerful Trixie, would be crippled by a bullet? Is that what you thought, Rainbow Dash?”)
>The rain continues to soak you, weighing you down as you float in place
>For what must be the fifth time today, you’re left at an utter loss for words
>You feel foolish… so, so foolish…
>>
>>38730440
>(”As you should, daughter of Hurricane. All this could have been avoided. You should have listened to the Exsilist. You should have allowed yourself to be what the Chancellor wanted you to be. Now, you’ve given Trixie no choice but to do what is necessary.”)
“Trixie… can’t keep this up forever.”
>The clouds sneer at you, baring their menacing teeth, each several stories high
>(”True. Trixie has had to push the Pericles device beyond its prescribed capacity, especially after you saw fit to defile it. But the idea of an EMP shockwave doesn’t bother Trixie in the least. It will only kill this stain of a city faster.”)
“What, and risk your Chancellor finding out that you turned his prize into ash? You don’t have the guts, hornhead.”
>(”You know NOTHING about who or what Trixie is, daughter of Hurricane! And you know nothing of the arcane! KKYYYSXYKLLYX EXUUYMMENOSSSS KAABA!!!”)
>Open-mouthed, a maw stretched wide across space, the great imitation head shudders, then flickers in a dozen different places
>The air is polarized, and the raindrops seem to stand motionless in the face of the coming vibrations
>Whatever’s about to happen, it isn’t something you want to be around for
>(”ZAA’DUUM!!”)
>Crimson waves pour from your heart
>Across time and space, the effect permeates every substance, every particle, every waveform
>Frames of motion, toppling over frames of motion
>And just like that, everything is slowed to a crawl; the Element reacted even before your instincts did
>You’ve regained enough energy to use it in this way for several more seconds, and you aren’t about to waste them in the face of what’s coming
>Indeed, each of the flickers of light you saw materialize inside the giant head have grown in intensity, and incandescent bolts of blue magic have already begun to zip across the clearing directly at you
>Having gotten thoroughly used to the way you move in this state, you glide upwards, feeling the power of the Element surge through every fiber of your being
>The bolts are bridging the gap between you and Trixie at a surprising rate, but it’s nothing compared to what you can do
>You swerve to dodge the first one as it passes close to you, once again vaporizing the stationary water particles in its path, leaving a trail of clear steam
>The next one arcs down, then up again, making it more difficult to predict; you gasp as you roll sideways, kept aloft more by the latent energy within you than by the lift of your wings
>Each imitation lightning bolt galvanizes the air as it passes, ending in the rift of clouds behind you, but despite their unpredictable twists they’re all ultimately aimed at the same spot
>A spot which you no longer occupy
>When all is said and done, the face in the clouds, now bathed in a hellish red light, is stretched open in a silent scream of exertion
>It almost seems to remind you of something… a face in the clouds, the light of the sunset
>>
>>38730448
>Like a dream you once had, and have long since forgotten…
>(Perhaps it’s the intent that mattered)
>The waves recede, and time resumes its standard pace
>Gradually, the feeling returns to your nerves, that of the constant weight of each of your actions
>When there’s no energy left in your muscles, when all the strength has been sapped out of you, you won’t be able to rely on the Element any longer
>The only thing left to rely on will be your conviction
>Your superiority over all others…
SHA-DOOOOOOOOM
>The furious magic dissipates, but you remain
>The glowing eyes of that monolithic face shift their focus, as though adjusting to relocate you
>Once they have, the voice in your head and all around you groans and snarls
>(”Youuuuuu… you can’t keep THAT up forever, Rainbow Dashhhhh…”)
“You don’t know my limits.”
>(”But you have a limit; that much is clear to Trixie. Trixie doesn’t yet know how you’ve managed to perform such ancient magic, nor why you exude such a potent aura… but when Trixie brings your limp body back to the Chancellor in chains, Trixie will have all the time in the world to learn.”)
“We’ll see.”
>With that, you whip about, throwing yourself into the raging storm below
>With the few building tops visible as reference points, you shift your body weight and fight the wind towards where you know your destination must be
>A raging cry echoes in your wake, but you’re done with talking to heads in the clouds
>Screams meld into the cacophony of the violent quasi-storm as you veer even further left, and a low rhythmic noise like battle drums joins into the symphony of mayhem
BOOM DA-DOOM DA-BOOM
>It starts off as a light rumble, then gradually overtakes all the other noises from below; though the constant rumble of thunder continues to best it
>You should know that sound, though you’ve never heard it so close to the city; they’re the anti-aircraft artillery positioned along the rim of the main platform, all booming in tandem
>The defense forces must have finally gotten wise to the show of force; that sound can only be a good thing
>And if they even have targets to fire on, that means that the witch’s no-ships must be decloaked!
>You really did a number on that ridiculous chrome eggshell of hers!
“But she can still summon storms.”
>Speaking of, a red light twinkles somewhere in the distant torrent
>At first, you brace yourself to activate the Element once again, and dig deep into whatever reserves you’ve got left to dodge an incoming strike
>But this time, rather than twinkle and spasm, the light resolves as you move closer and closer towards it, and layer after layer of blue cloud dissipates
>Then, you see it blink
“Yes…”
>You knew you would make it
>You knew you still had time
>Time, the one true source of supremacy on this earth
>Where all other species of the sky have fallen to time, the pegasus persevered
>>
>>38730454
>Where these corruptible pegasi have fallen to their fear of the passage of time, of change and new growth for their kind, the PAS have stood high, an unmoving edifice upon a mountain of rock
>Time behind, time ahead… and now, where all others have failed, you understand, is that they could not have seen their dooms coming to them in the time they were allotted
>The Makers, the Old Exsilists, the Canterian Empire, they were shattered by the great inhibition of time’s arrow colliding with the post at the end of it all
>If every frame of their dominions were strung together seamlessly, and the motions between them were imperceptible and continuous, then it should seem they would never be bested, for the flight would never end
>But they were all destroyed by time precisely BECAUSE they were limited to that seamless motion
>And no matter what, no matter if the PAS falls to the same fate now, no matter if the whole world crumbles around you, no matter if the storm takes your mother, or you lose your friend to fear, or some new fate you can’t predict befalls you…
>Time is now yours, and yours alone
>The frames of motion are visible now, distinct from one another, integer values
>You can count from one to the next, and it’s the Element that’s granted you that power
>It’s faith in the power of this thing, it’s Loyalty, it’s…
>It’s Time
>Precious seconds, to see with your very own eyes the dirigible, its great mass of stretched fabric trembling in the downpour, its engines surging with all their might
>Its warning beams flare red, then black, then red again, a constant blinking beacon through all this chaos
>A thunderclap illuminates a taut black mooring line, extending all the way down to the shining surface of Highstorm Port
>Across the sheen, the perfectly flat section of Pegasopolis Platform ends, a false horizon beyond which a drop of miles awaits
>But the dirigible is still here, and it’s barely lifted from the surface
>It must be, it must…
>You whirl about, relieving yourself of the weight of the water you’ve accumulated in your wings and coat, and dash downwards at breakneck speed
>Lightning again, showing you the black maw of open bay doors
>You can make it you can…
>Squinting, you practically crash against the upper bulwark of the dock, only just managing to prevent yourself from crashing headlong into an anchor needle
>You slide along the wet, flat surface, whipping your soaked mane out of your eyes once more
>Your eyes… they’re burning
>Gorgons, he’s here, he must be here he must be…
“DAD! DAD!”
>They’re taking him, and once they’ve taken him and once they have him in the air there won’t be any stopping…
>Somehow, your heart sinks even lower, into depths you previously thought unimaginable
>You feel lost in all this, lost in the rain, in the plans, in the motions of destinies
>Time Turner’s using you, and he’s the closest damn thing you have to a friend in the world right now
>>
>>38730457
>Those Canterians wanted you as a puppet… YOU, a thing to be tossed around from handler to handler, made to serve a cruel mockery of your father’s dream
>Everypony expects something from you, NEEDS something from you, YOU most of all
>You needed to be… to be… somepony of your own
>Not reliant, not even expectant, of any special treatment just because of some nebulous birthright
>A warrior, a fighter and victor of battles
>A flier, and a death-defiant
“DAAAAAAAAAAD!!!”
>You call out towards the dirigible even as you race on hoof towards its black carapace
>Your heart is pounding in time with the guns to either side of you
>No personnel in sight, nopony to help you
>You never needed any help, but now… where are they?
>Where are the loyal devotees to this thing, this movement, this brotherhood?
>They’re all scrambling over one another to leave at the first sight of danger!
>Or holed up in Militarbezirk, awaiting a frontal assault that’s never coming!
>No, the battle’s been fought and won, and the spoils are here, being carted off even as you chase them down, and you’re the ONLY one!
>You want to cry out for help, you want to scream in desperation
>But you already know that it’ll do you no good
>The gunners are engaged with the decloaked ships, and they’re too preoccupied with their own glory to notice that they’re battling a distraction
>A distraction!
“You’re battling a distraction!”
>Your throat trembles, sore, hoarse, run raw from the endless conversations
>The fighting, the running, the damage, the strain
>Weakness in your bones
>Weakness in your heart
>And before you know it, you’re facedown in a puddle
>Your muzzle scrapes against the smooth concrete, and you feel your wounded wing send shockwaves of agony down your spine
>You’ve come to the limit of it all; your muscles are on fire, your heart’s outpacing the guns now, your ears are ringing from the persistence of the noise, your mind is addled, your blood is rushing to your stomach
>Warm breath meets cold air, and turns to white smoke against your eyes
>It’s… it’s…
“N-no…”
>No!
>Not now!
>Not ever!
>Beyond it all, beyond the well of energy they taught you to harness when you’re at your lowest in the Academy, beyond even the deepest recesses of that crystalline fragment fixed to your frog, there is another source of energy
>Greater than your desire to save your father, greater than your desire to see the PAS live on, for Canterium to crumble…
>Greater than the white sunset
>Greater than Loyalty…
>Bones scraping against bones, ligaments wailing, mind stretched to a thin sheet, you rise onto all four shaking hooves, and wipe the water out of your nostrils
>You’ve worked up quite a sweat, haven’t you, Rainbow?
“Ha… ha… hah…”
>You take a step forward, followed by another step
>Followed by a canter, then a gallop
>>
>>38730459
>You fold your wings against your flanks and run wild, bleeding, yet full of life, towards that dirigible before you
>Towards the open bay door, towards the silhouettes within
>Your mind is so far gone, you don’t even need the context of what’s happening in front of your eyes
>All you see is a hulking obstacle, and you’re going to pass through it
SHA-DOOOOOOOM
>Light from the false lightning illuminates the interior of the dirigible’s holding bay
>Even from this great distance, you see his mane, his coat, ever so slightly darker than your own
>You see the chains of steel slumped about his sturdy form, the lengths to which they needed to go to restrain him
>You see a ragged uniform, damaged in what must have been a hell of a skirmish
>You see a proud thing, in need of liberation
>Perhaps, if you were just a little closer, you could see those steely amber eyes, staring back into your own with a dark determination
>The eyes of Bow Hothoof, of General Hurricane
>Of your father
>Before you can call out to him again, the massive iron bay door begins swinging slowly upward, and the mooring line tethering the body of the dirigible to the platform is swiftly cut
>Either they’ve noticed your approach, or you’re right on schedule
“DAD! NO!”
>You struggle to mete out the words through the fog and hail, for that’s what the downpour’s practically become in this bitter cold
>Shards of blue ice beat against your back, and out of that pool of energy whose source you can’t even fathom comes another burst that propels you forward
>Your vision narrows in on that picture of your father, clad in chains, which is rapidly turning into a sliver as the doorway between you narrows
>In one fluid motion, you kick off of an icy flagpole, driving yourself into a lean figure racing towards the small wedge in the bay
“DAD!”
>This time, the chained figure stirs at the sound of your voice, glancing up and peering through the shadows
>Though no shining bolt lights his features this time, you’re certain it’s him solely in the way that he moves
>That stallion, who wasn’t there in your earliest years, who sought his own path
>Who returned to you, and brought you back into the fold, into this bold new world of his own fashioning
>You have to repay that chance
>After all, what would be left of you without him?
>By a matter of inches, your trajectory carries you through a gap between the door and the framework, and all at once the weight lifts from your body
>The weight of the downpour, the weight of the cold, the weight of time
>In the cool interior of the lumbering dirigible, which has only now begun its proper ascent, you stumble and fall to the whining metal floor of the cargo hold
>You’re inside; you’ve made it
>You’ve made it!
>Your wings flutter automatically behind you, sending a rush of pain into your back but otherwise relieving your remaining tension
>Remember who you are, and where you are…
>>
>>38730463
>Rainbow Dash, Captain Rainbow Dash of the Wunderbolts…
>And here, bathed in harsh green neon, the airy space of the cargo hold contains but one other occupant
>He’s dressed in equal portions of shadow and light, and he’s staring right back into your bloodshot eyes with a look of silent desperation
>He’s… he’s scared
>Not for himself, but for you
>You rush over to your father, and without even thinking of what it could cost you inside, you embrace him with all your might
>It’s never been easy to do this, not even in the earliest days, and it’s only grown more and more difficult with time, and that surging feeling of independence that’s marked your growth from filly to warrior
>It’s always been about this, about how he’s looked after you
>Not about how he left, but about how he RETURNED
>Triumphant
>You bury your muzzle into his chilled form, wishing that he could return your grip, knowing that if he weren’t so bound, he surely would
>It’s always been about this, it’s always…
>”Rain… bow…”
>His syllables are ragged and weak, unbefitting of a leader
>But it doesn’t matter, because this time there are no crowds to weigh his every word in their hooves
>Only you…
>”Go… go…”
“No, Dad. I’m here. I got out. They couldn’t stop me! Not even the witch! They had me, a-and I got out, and w-we have to get you out of here!”
>”Go… he’s… here…”
“Who’s here? Dad, there’s no time! Whoever’s piloting this thing, I can take them! A-and it doesn’t matter, we just have to get you out of these chains, none of it matters except for these chains! I can break them with… with… I’ll show you! You won’t understand, but I’ll show you, I can break anything now with the flick of my hoof, watch!”
>”Trap… bewitched… Rainbow… guard… he’s bewitched…”
“Once we’re out, we can—”
>And then, you’re hurtling across the room
>Frozen in place, your hooves crumpled at awkward angles, but flying
>At first, it’s like you’re flying for the first time, unsure of what you’re doing or where you’re going
>Then, you slam hard against a metal frame, and that pool of energy you’d found seals shut
“Ack!”
>Hard globs of bloody spittle launch out of your throat, and a sickening crunch meets your ears as you fall onto your side
>A high, sharp pain like nothing you’ve ever felt before rockets out of your right forehoof
>Out of the Element
>Several seconds go by as you twitch on the cool landing pad, no air left in your lungs to cry out
>When you regain the gift of sight, all you see are faint blurs shifting beneath a latent green glow
>Then, the color green turns turquoise, and turquoise turns to stark blue
>The bay door behind you is opening again
>Somewhere, far off, the flak cannons continue their ceaseless battery
>Except… that sound is much deeper, much more ambient
>>
>>38730469
>This sound, this rhythmic sound, is the sound of something hard clanging against unyielding steel
>It’s the sound of hoofsteps
>And they’re getting louder
>Your hoof… your hoof is broken
>Somehow, you manage to shift your weight, allowing your left forehoof to caress the right from the tip to the end
>The hoof itself isn’t cracked, but the fetlock…
>The fetlock is twisted at such an unnatural angle that it’d be generous to call it “backwards”
>And the pain… the pain is darkness, spreading out of your hoof and into your mind
>Your whole mind is pain, your whole body is pain, and you want to fall asleep
>Yes, just fall asleep, just let that darkness take you and everything will be better, you won’t feel a thing you won’t…
“Guhhhh-nuh!”
>More than you can sustain
CLANG CLANG CLANG
>And then, you’re airborne again
>Your body’s off the ground, after all, so you must be flying, except your wings aren’t moving and neither are you
>And you can barely think, much less hover, so what are you doing here?
>What are you doing in this green, this green turned blue, and why are you turning?
>And what is all this whiteness?
>The hoof is darkness, yes, the hoof is pure darkness, so it can’t possibly be that that’s where all this white is coming from
>No… the dark is in your head, but the white is in your eyes
>It’s a coat… it’s hair, isn’t it?
>Thick, short, pure white hair, covering everything
>And maybe even a muzzle
>And two crimson eyes
“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!”
>A voice that must be yours is screaming
>Element somewhere, Element maybe in your hoof but it isn’t there, where is it it’s gone it has to be there but your hoof is bent backwards and you can’t move and you can’t breathe and you can’t—
>”You can’t have thought you would actually win, daughter of Hurricane.”
>Voice, voice from somewhere
>Voice out of those red eyes
>Gorgons, you’re going to black out, this pain is unbearable
>”It should be. You deserve it for what you’ve done. For all the trouble you’ve caused everypony these short few hours.”
>Not where you’re meant to be not where
>The voice is deep, too deep for Trixie, a basso from the depths of perception
>”You should have listened to your father. Should have listened to Trixie. Trixie has plans within plans. And Trixie does not compromise when it comes to ensuring that the Chancellor’s will is done.”
>You have to fight this thing, fight it
>Fight the thing holding you off the ground, fight fight fight
>It’s Trixie, the words are Trixie’s, but they’re coming out of a different mouth, a stallion’s mouth
>>
>>38730474
>”It’s all that… Trixie has left… to inhabit this form… just as Trixie did… over an hour ago. When Trixie was at full capacity, when Pericles was untarnished! It was easy then, to enter the pre-conditioned mind. To multitask. To become this stallion which Hurricane believed he had hoof-picked himself. But the power… of suggestion… is everything.”
“Mmmmhuh! Huhhhhh!”
>Words, you are not making words, you’re making sounds
>You can do better than that Rainbow, you can make words you can feel even though you’re numb all over
>YOUR HOOF FEELS LIKE DEATH
>”Bulk Biceps. We always had two operatives, Rainbow Dash. But one of them was… unwilling… to accept mere payment, as your pathetic friend did. When Trixie was given the task of… conditioning a mind… to respond to future stimulus… Trixie did so perfectly. Before he was employed as Hurricane’s personal bodyguard… before the scare we organized prompted your father to seek out… such services…”
“Nuhhhh funnnnn… funn binnnchhhh…”
>Say the words!
>Say something!
>The pain is black, and it’s moving up your spine, through your tendons
>You have to close your eyes, it’s unbearable to keep them open for a moment longer, to see that white face with the red eyes staring you down
>If you lose consciousness, you die
>”You’ve seen him before, Rainbow Dash. Trixie knows you’ve seen him, because Trixie has seen you THROUGH him. Bulk Biceps has carried the seed of Trixie inside him for months now. All that was left to do today was to awaken him to his purpose. And now that he has performed the admirable task of escorting Target Prime to our extraction vessel, Bulk Biceps… can perform… another EQUALLY noble task… unhhhh…”
>Through the blurring of noises and the screaming of ligaments, you can barely make out the strained panic besetting Bulk Biceps’ deep voice
>Everything’s burning, everything…
>”Nnnnnyou… have no idea… how much strain… even something like this… requires, Rainbow Dash. Something which should be… so simple… is now a bane on Trixie’s… might.”
>She’s losing control
>If she loses all control, and releases him from her grasp, then…
>Gorgons, your hoof is going to explode… concussed… everything spinning…
>Darkness coming…
>”So… at the risk of… upsetting the Chancellor’s plan… Trixie must… bid you… adieu.”
>Strength
>Strength from somewhere
>Strength enough to push against the foreleg holding you high off the holding floor
>No, it isn’t your strength
>You thought it had been something you’d done, but you’re plummeting, and you have never plummeted in your life
>So it couldn’t have been strength that got you here
>You were dropped, or thrown
>The foreleg pushed off against you, not the other way around
>The floor is so far away, and you’ve been falling for so long
>And isn’t that hail beating against your coat?
>Hail
>>
>>38730480
>You’re no longer in the cargo hold
>You’re falling, falling fast
>The Element, it’s…
“GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!”
>You open your eyes again, conscious at last of the source of that energy
>If not from resolve, if not from loyalty, if not from the Element, then from where?
>The answer was in front of you all along
>Strength comes from inheritance
>Strength comes from strength
>And where you had none, where you were helpless in the face of power which surprised you, you’ll never be surprised again
“URGHHHHAAAAAAA!”
>The Element isn’t gone; it still hasn’t left your hoof
>You can’t see it, can’t bend your hoof around to face its crimson glow, but it’s still there
>Still…
>Still as the waves of Time crashing over one another
>Still as the hail resting in the sky, crystalline pellets waiting to crack upon the concrete
>You breathe out into the air, then pull more back into your lungs with the force of a dragon
>Your insides are exploding with precise and concerted pain, your wing is bent, your foreleg is beyond broken
>But in this state, this redness, this potent and undying velocity, you can turn and see
>You can look down at the wet concrete slab, mere feet from where you float
>A millisecond more, and you would have been spread like jelly across that surface
>A fine place to die, for the daughter of…
>For a warrior
>Ignore the pain, Rainbow
>That’s all that can be done, just ignore the pain
>It doesn’t exist unless you allow it to exist
>Swimming through the immobile air, you touch down, and once again time resumes its standard pace
“Doesn’t… exist… doesn’t… exist…”
>Hail drives its way into the silvery pavement, an endless crackle of white noise which, under any other circumstances, would be soothing
>Balanced on three legs, the fourth raised up, destroyed by a hulking giant’s effortless toss, you consider your options
>Above you, the dirigible containing your father and the possessed Bulk Biceps rises steadily into the fog
>The beacon light is no longer shining; if you lose it in this storm, you’ll never find it again
>Not in this state…
>If you fly now, RIGHT now, you could make your way back up there, but…
>It hurts
>You can’t ignore the pain, no matter how hard you try
>It hurts so badly that you want to just crumple down and die, right here on this spot
>But you can’t, you won’t, you…
>”ENGAGING!”
>You cannot catch a break

******

“ENGAGING!”
>She’s there, and she doesn’t stand a chance
>The Wunderbolts are hot on your tail, but it won’t matter once you’ve taken their leader captive
>You are Soarin, and you really can’t help but give credit to this mare where credit’s due
>Somehow, before your very eyes, Captain Rainbow Dash, the daughter of Hurricane, just plummeted almost eighty meters out of a moving dirigible, apparently unconscious and dumb to the world, and survived
>>
>>38730484
>And not just survived, either; at the very last moment, inches from the ground, she righted herself faster than the eye could perceive
>She wasn’t using her wings, wasn’t slowing her descent by any means other than sheer air resistance, and yet there she stands upon a bulwark of Highstorm Port, shaken but clearly alive and well
>Still, “alive and well” doesn’t exactly imply good health
>After rounding the platform with the beaten but still capable Wunderbolts in tow, you avoided their fire for long enough to feint topside with the rest of Thunder Nine
>No fatalities so far, thank Celestia, though Fire Streak did sound off that she took a shot to the shoulder
>Persistent little harpies, these; even the one whose life you threatened at the point of a knife has been giving chase, perhaps even more ferociously than her comrades
>Still, you managed to shake them for the time being, though they undoubtedly know where you are and what you’re doing by now
>But the new primary target is in sight, precisely where Spitfire told you she’d be over that…
>You hesitate to call it a “dispatch,” since those generally occur over a radio
>That psychic intrusion, more like
>There’s another funny thing, too, because somehow it still feels like Thunder One is inside your head
>Not speaking to you directly, but… watching, in a sense
>You can’t really explain it, but you get the feeling that your comrades feel it too
>Anyway, if she’s watching to see if you can handle the situation, you won’t disappoint
>After all, Rainbow Dash is a sitting buck down there, and in a few more moments you and the rest of Thunder Nine will be right on top of her
>And the Wunderbolts will be on top of you…
>Wonderful
>”She’s just standing there, Soarin! How do we engage?”
>You regard Sandstorm, who looks to be peering suspiciously back in the direction of the lost Wunderbolts
>Not that you can really tell what anypony’s looking at, with all this Celestia-forsaken hail
>You’ve never seen weather turn so bad so fast
“She looks unarmed! But we take no chances! Approach as if she’s a combatant, but no lethal measures! Just like the Captain said!”
>”And if THEY gain on us?”
>You shake your head, cold streaks trickling down your muzzle and out of your ears
“Sandstorm! Geronimo! On me! The rest of you, circle up top! Do not let the Wunderbolts catch us by surprise again!”
>Directing your form straight down, you hesitate briefly before diving down towards the platform, and the lone figure upon it
>The great big flagpoles with banners bearing the mark of the PAS, that strange spiral of disembodied wings… together with the mooring chains for the dirigibles swaying in the wind, they all seem to point downwards to the same origin
>You follow the lines to the source, wondering if there will be anything left to do after this is done
>>
>>38730489
>Despite being a complete bust on the surface, you suppose that the invasion’s accomplished everything it set out to accomplish, right?
>Or, at least, it’s about to
>General Hurricane’s up there, in that black dirigible silently drifting into the abyss, and you’re here to clean up what’s left
>You gently touch down onto the cold concrete, and behind you several more sets of hooves audibly do the same
>It’s difficult to look up in this weather, but you’re aware that if you did, you’d see two more pegasi diligently searching the sky for any unwelcome intruders
>Now, as you approach your target on hoof, the gap closing between you until it’s a matter of about a dozen meters, you become entirely aware of why she hasn’t tried to slip you yet
>The blue-coated unicorn, naked and bleeding profusely from her left wither, is standing on three legs, the fourth bent upwards at an incredibly painful-looking angle
>Her short, multicolored mane droops over her bruised back; her lip is split, her wing feathers are tattered and folded
>She looks beaten every which way, but she’s still standing, and what’s more, she isn’t even looking at you
>No, her violet eyes, rimmed and bloodshot, are looking up into the hail, up towards the dirigible bound for the unknown
>She was there, you realize; she was there, and she lost it
“RAINBOW DASH!”
>The trembling mare pays you no mind at all
>You’re certain it’s her, and she must be able to hear you from here
>You take a few uncertain steps forward, the torrent beating back your folded wings
“I’m Lieutenant Soarin, of the Canterian Aerial Seventh! You’re coming with us!”
>Still no response
>It’s making you a little nervous to keep approaching her, so if this is some kind of tactic, it’s working
>Nevertheless, you press on; you highly doubt she could be concealing any weapons in that condition
>Sandstorm and High Spirits catch up to you, flanking you on both sides as you close the gap further
>When you’re only a few ponies’ length away from her, the three of you fan out, forming a sort of uneven triangle around the injured Wunderbolt captain
“Rainbow Dash… it’s over. Surrender now, and we can guarantee the lives of your subordinates.”
>If they elect to surrender in kind, that is
>You may have the firepower, but they’ve got unmatched tenacity
>Suddenly, the blue mare stumbles, falling back onto her hindquarters and shaking her head rapidly
>Is she surrendering, or is she trying to “stand her ground?”
>”Soarin… should we make the arrest?”
>Sandstorm’s just as uncertain as you are
>The head shaking picks up speed, and soon Rainbow Dash is rocking back and forth, ostensibly to nurse the pain of her shattered fetlock
“She looks concussed, or worse. Geronimo, do the cuffing. Just mind her head. And keep your gun trained on her, Sandstorm. If she makes any sudden moves, put one in her hindleg.”
>>
>>38730494
>Sandstorm nods, an impulse from her pulse trigger summoning the A70 out of where it had been nestled near her flank, causing it to spring to action with a clang
>You do the same, twitching when the gun flares up next to you
>You haven’t twitched like that since boot camp…
>But this situation is so unnatural, and as you watch Geronimo approaching Hurricane’s daughter from behind you find yourself dreading what’s about to happen
>”SOARIN!”
>You jump again, automatically readying yourself into a combat stance, before realizing that the strained voice came from Fire Streak, circling above in the noisy storm
“WHAT, LIEUTENANT?”
>”High Spirits saw shadows in the clouds to the west! Wunderbolts are inbound! We need to wrap this thing up before it gets ugly!”
>Damnit… you didn’t want it to come to another firefight, but if it does, at least this time you’ll have leverage
>You tilt back on your hindleg, your dressed bullet wound barely flinching
>You’re still a bit light-headed after Sandstorm gave you that shot, but it can’t be the amphetamines alone giving you this feeling of paranoia
>You can practically hear your heartbeat over the downpour
“Geronimo… steady now… Rainbow Dash… just let him restrain you, don’t try anything stu—”
FFFSHAAAZZZZZZZ
>Several things happen in very little time
>First, you perceive a blinding red glow exuding from the hoof of Rainbow Dash, though it lasts less than half a second
>Then… well, you couldn’t REALLY explain what you saw if you tried
>Rainbow Dash is standing still one moment, then she’s moving, and FAST
>But it isn’t ordinary movement, it’s… it’s like there are two mares at once
>One moves forwards into Sandstorm, sending her flying in the opposite direction
>The other bucks backwards, stunning Geronimo and sending the restraints he’d retrieved from his knapsack hurtling into space
>Or maybe there aren’t two… maybe it’s more like a continuum of… of… of red THINGS, red projections of Rainbow Dash, all acting out the same motions in various states
>A snake of time catching up to itself
>As one charges forwards, the next rears back, and as that one charges forwards, the next rears back, and so forth
>And then, less than two seconds later, it’s over
>”Unngh!”
>”Gah!”
>Sandstorm does a backflip as she tumbles into the concrete, her wings flapping uselessly to each side
>Geronimo, a bit heavier, simply slumps to the ground, his jaw looking more than a little misaligned
>And there, between them, drenched, bleeding, and a lot more aware-looking than when you first set eyes on her, is Rainbow Dash, the daughter of Hurricane, looking right back at you
>Her limp, broken forehoof shines red, leaving a wispy trail of crimson smoke as she breathes in ragged two-time
>Her wings are unfurled, and the look on her face is one of quiet rage
>You… you back away without thinking
>>
>>38730499
>You could gun her down where she stands with your mounted A70 right now, but…
>Could you?
>You become painfully aware of the fact that your hooves have no traction on this wet tarmac
>You feel like you’re going to slip, going to…
>You could… could shoot her, and…
>”Wunder… bolts…”
>With the slightest touch, you could fall backwards and crack your skull open
>This gun on your shoulder feels like a toy
“I… I…”
>”Wunder… bolts… you have them?”
“N-no… no, they’re… they’re coming… they’re behind us…”
>”Hughhhh… good…”
>(“KILL-ILL HER!”)
>”Unh!”
>You clamp your ears shut with your hooves, as does Rainbow Dash
>You’re hearing on the same wavelength, though you should know by now that it isn’t really “hearing”
>(“SHOOT HER-ER-ER NOW!!!”)
>Lightning strikes, thunder cracks
>A chain of blue light in the sky, beginning in the north, steps from cloud to cloud until finally shooting straight down
>At once, the air is polarized, the hair on the small of your back standing straight up
>(“KAA’ZAAM KAABA CHYTHULYXOS!!!”)
SHA-DOOOOOOM
>A bolt of lightning strikes the spot Rainbow Dash is standing
>Except she isn’t standing there anymore… and for that matter, neither are you
>For a moment, you thought you saw that same glowing red chain of her, approaching you, touching you this time, though you don’t remember feeling her touch
>And if she did touch you, it was for but a millisecond; so why are you all the way back here now?
>Why are you lying flat on your back, a flash of brilliant blue above, illuminating the tense and crippled figure of Rainbow Dash?
>She’s standing over you now, and you’ve never been more certain of your complete powerlessness
>If this was what Thunder One and Spitfire intended, then they must have intended for you to fail
>There’s simply no other explanation
>”Hanh… hanh…”
>You feel as though she could kill you with a word
>And yet she moved you
>Behind her, in the place the two of you occupied mere seconds ago, an otherworldly fire burns low, surrounded by ash and seemingly unbothered by the downpour
>You would have been fried…
>Geronimo, still unconscious, seems to have been missed by mere inches
>Or perhaps Rainbow Dash found the time to push him, too
>”Hanh… don’t…”
>Violet eyes are on you again, their dark intensity outshining even the flames
>Wings sprout from Rainbow Dash’s back, ruffled sticks of singed feathers
>Then, she’s in the air, holding her injured hoof close to her, that strange crimson light glowing at its center
>Dark red veins, beginning at the light, snake up her limb like reverse-flowing liquid before your very eyes
>”Don’t… make me… regret that.”

******
>>
>>38730503
>(“Kill… her… no more to… chance… overload…”)
>Random syllables enter your mind, the product of the witch’s incessant ramblings
>As you stare down the Canterian from above, you want to believe that he won’t order his airborne subordinates after you the minute he’s out of sight
>You’re not sure if he’s hesitating to shoot you with that A70 of his because he’s afraid of what his masters will do to him, or if he’s afraid of what YOU’LL do to him
>Either way, it’s probably best not to give away the fact that you’re completely out of Elemental energy
>There’s no chance in hell that you’d be able to dodge a bullet right now
>You’re Rainbow Dash… you’re strong
>But you’re beat bad, and nothing’s going the way it should
>You had your father right in front of you, and Trixie found a way to prevent it
>You had time on your side, and now you’ve lost it
>Precious seconds ticking away, before you lose that dirigible…
>What are you thinking? You could catch up to it
>You could catch it, if you could only rest for a while
>Yes, let it go, you’ll follow its path, try to keep it within sight
>You know where it’s going, yes, you know the bearing
>Bide your time…
>But if you stay here, in the city, they won’t stop hunting you
>Even if you hide now, Trixie knows where you are; she already proved as much when she shot that blade at your heart
>Or when she summoned lightning bolts to smite you
>And then, it hits you like a cannonball to the stomach
>Pegasopolis… can’t stand up to this
>Your father is in chains, but that’s only a part of it
>If you don’t give in to them, if you run away, then they’ll raze the city
>Those soulless Canterians… you know they’re capable of it, you KNOW they’d do it gladly
>This one, this “Soarin” splayed out before you… you think he wouldn’t do it if it were his hoof on the trigger?
>If the only thing preventing him from ending you now is fear, then what’s his hesitancy worth?
>You aren’t afraid of him… you could squash him like a bug…
>A serpent of pain crawls up your foreleg, into your spine, into your whole body
>Unconsciously, you glance down at the source, only to see that what’s going on is more than just pain
>It’s red stripes, or pulsing veins, blood, or SOMETHING spilling out of the Element embedded in your frog
>The pain multiplies, and it takes all your willpower not to burst into tears from the sheer intensity
>Before, you were controlling it, there was a reserve and you were dipping into it, drawing out power in small quantities
>Now that the reserve is exhausted, it’s taking its toll on you, it’s lashing out, it’s…
>…
>You’ve made up your mind
>You saved this stallion from the lightning strike Trixie dished out because you saw no reason to let him die
>You hate Canterium, you hate their Chancellor, and you hate Trixie
>But to kill a soldier while he’s lying on his back wouldn’t be glorious
>>
>>38730505
>(“Kill… before… overload…”)
“Shut it.”
>The witch’s voice gnaws at the back of your head, even though you’re fairly certain she isn’t even talking to you anymore
>Despite all her power, she has about as much control over this situation as you, and you won’t let her pull the same trick on you twice
>So she can possess your father’s bodyguard, puppeteer his unconscious body, make him throw you around?
>If she could do it forever, she wouldn’t have thrown you out of the dirigible
>The engineer said something about overcharging the Pericles device, that it might be cataclysmic for everypony in that room
>Trixie might put everypony else, including her own soldiers, at risk, but she would never put her own wretched life on the line to stop you
>That was her last ditch effort to keep you away from your father, and now that it’s undoubtedly worn off, there’s nothing she can do
>Nothing except hope that you won’t chase after the dirigible in this condition
>And you wouldn’t dream of giving her the satisfaction
“Tell me… what your life… is worth.”
>The Canterian looks up at you for several seconds, seemingly still reeling from the shock of being carried back so fast
>”I… I don’t…”
“Is your life worth… ack… risking to stop me from going up there?”
>You gesture broadly up into the clouds, near where you last saw the dirigible floating
>”You’re… you’re the prime target. I have to follow my captain’s orders.”
“I thought you’d say that. You do realize that your captain… Spitfire, right? You realize she’s with the mare who just tried to zap you a few seconds ago.”
>”That wasn’t… that was lightning, that was—”
“It was DELIBERATE. It’s your unicorn. She’s lost all control over this fake storm of hers, and if you don’t get out of here right now, things could get a whole lot worse.”
>”They were supposed to have you. This wasn’t part of the job, none of this… was…”
“Then we’re in the same boat. And here I was thinking I was the only pony in the dark. Look, just… tell your pegasi not to pursue me. You have far less a chance of stopping me than you think, and I don’t want it get complicated.”
>You already bluffed your way out of one near-death experience today, why not try for another?
>”That wouldn’t be… look, comms are down. I couldn’t hail them if I tried. So unless you expect me to tag along with you, then…”
“No! Just… just… tell them I went south. Tell them I went back into the city.”
>You look around, trying to see if you can distinguish any visible flying shapes in the thick swirling haze, but finding none
>The only ones on the ground are you, him, and the two you already took care of
”If they come back down, tell them there was a flash. And that I was going south. I’m not coming back down. They won’t know you’re lying.”
>”They’ll know if you get shot down by the cannons on that dirigible.”
>>
>>38730509
“If that happens, then I think a white lie will be the least of your Chancellor’s concerns.”
>”Or… or I could just pop you in the hindleg. From this distance, there’d be nothing to it.”
“If you thought you could do that, you would’ve done it already.”
>Even with all the din of the downpour, you’re pretty sure you hear him gulp
>You’ve already wasted enough time down here; the time to go is now
>You exchange one last look with the Canterian, Soarin, and from the uncertain look he gives you, you can’t tell if he’ll do what you’ve asked
>All you can hope is that saving his life bought you a little bit of clemency, or respect, or something
>So, without another word, you beat your wings back, turning around and picking up speed against the rush of the wind
>Your broken foreleg is still killing you, but at least you’ve gotten a little used to the pain
>Hay, as long as you didn’t black out the second you were wounded, it’s unlikely to happen now, right?
>Right?
>A few meters further on, and you’re pleasantly surprised that Soarin hasn’t tried to shoot you in the back yet
>Once you’re comfortably out of his range, you swoop down towards a lower embankment of the port, trying to curtail what you perceive as the effective range of the Canterian unit
>If Trixie were half as smart as she thinks she is, she would’ve opened up one of those clearings in the storm like she did before, so that the Canterians would be able to track you
>On and on you fly, picking up steam, until at last you reach the edge of Highstorm Port, where the lip of the platform meets the grey abyss below
>Then, wincing as you change trajectory, you start climbing
>Higher and higher, a straight shot into the heavens, searching among the pale blue lightning for a great oblong reflection
>It’s up there somewhere, you just have to look…
>You strain as you press your wings tighter to your form, only able to streamline with one hoof as opposed to the usual two
>Your damaged foreleg, you keep tucked close to your stomach, where the red veins continue to leech into your matted and damp coat
>You don’t care; if this is the price of saving your father, of righting past wrongs, then you won’t hesitate even for a moment to let this power have its sway over you
>Time Turner’s carried it his whole life, after all, so what are a few measly hours?
>Now… once you find the dirigible, you’ll have to trail at a safe distance
>Getting out of the storm will actually make that part a bit harder, since visibility will improve such that you won’t have any hiding places
>But if you time your approach just right, you can bust in, break through your father’s chains using the Element, then cart him out before Trixie can take control of Bulk Biceps again
>After all, it can’t be too far off, and she’s still weak, and the boundary of the storm will naturally be the boundary of her influence
>>
>>38730511
>You climb higher with renewed purpose, some of that lost energy returning to your body
>You’re still dehydrated, bruised, stabbed, and broken, but at least you don’t lack for character
>You’re Rainbow Dash, after all; you’re Captain of the Wunderbolts
>Through your own merit, you rose up to where you are now
>(Rising)
>Your niche has been carved for you, and all that’s left to do is fill it
>(Falling)
>An invisible pendulum swings in the back of your throat, and the pressure drops along with the temperature
>You're gaining altitude fast, and the dirigible is still...
>There!
>You squint to confirm it, the mess of precipitation obscuring your vision, but you can’t be mistaken
>Nestled between two dark nimbus clouds is the tail end of the dirigible, its gleaming propeller dispersing everything it touches
>The rain and sleet and hail pushes you back, but you fight against it
>This is the last push, the last time you have to force it all to fall into place
>You think suddenly of the Academy, of meeting Lightning Dust for the first time
>She wouldn’t ever let you leave the Gymnasium without proving, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you weren’t holding back
>That any new trick she or you had learned was put to the test, that you’d tried to win in every way you could
>(Except that one)
>Except the way you could never replicate, that you knew in your mind you could perform, but never found the heart to attempt
>Not after what happened, not after you were frozen in fear and let her
>(Fall)
>That won’t happen again
>Forget Lightning Dust, forget the Academy, just push it out of your mind
>You wanted glory, and there it is; a great big ball in the sky, begging to get kicked
>You can’t be more than a few hundred meters below it now, if you just keep pushing, you’ll get there
>If you just keep—
>(“Lost.”)
>…
>What?
>(“You’ve lost, daughter of Hurricane.”)
>She’s in your head again, she knows you’re coming
>But it doesn’t matter, she’s far behind you, and her power can only get weaker the further you get from Pegasopolis below
>(“You thought Trixie would need to incapacitate you to win? You thought I’d need Bulk Biceps again?”)
>You grit your teeth, baring them savagely against the wind
>Fly higher, higher, ignore the voice, just keep going
>(“You’re beyond persistent, Rainbow Dash… but Trixie told you from the moment you woke up… you have no chance of affecting the outcome of Operation Thunderstruck.”)
>Higher, higher!
>(“Your Wunderbolts are below. Even now, my Thunder Nine strike team are decimating them.”)
>Don’t listen! They can handle themselves!
>(“They’re fighting for your safety, Rainbow Dash. And you’ve left them behind.”)
“EVERY ONE OF THEM’S WORTH TEN OF YOURS!”
>(“Trixie only wanted to give you an alternative. Go back, help them by turning yourself in. End all this before it gets any worse.”)
>She wants you to just lie down and take it
>>
>>38730512
>But she has no hold over you, and she can’t enter your mind unless you let her
>(“I can see how close you are, Rainbow Dash. I can see you ge-getting closer-er-er. But you have no idea how far-ar-ar you are.”)
>You must be getting close to the edge of the storm; ethereal shafts of light illuminate the blimp from behind its bulk, painting it in rich violet shades
>Make it before its guns can see you!
>(“See what magic Trix-ix-ixie can perform-orm… orm…”)
>And then, silence
>Silence that seems to prove to you that she’s no longer in your head
>Even the patter of hail against your ears sounds curiously muffled
>She’s lost, you can already feel it
>In your gut, in your mind, there’s nothing but this polarizing sense of satisfaction
>There’s nothing in your way now, nothing but—
>…
>No
>No, it can’t possibly…
>Not that large…
>She couldn’t…
>Despite coming so far, with the dirigible still tantalizingly out of range, you still haven’t breached the storm
>The light from behind the balloon, it isn’t columns of sunlight
>But it couldn’t possibly be…
>The beams spill across the surface of the dirigible, pouring outwards in every direction
>Silhouettes dance in the clouds, reflections of reflections of hyperbolic lines
>Violet lines, the size of towers
>Arcing downwards, infinitely present, never intersecting
>In planes that seem to defy the strictest definitions of space
>It isn’t sunlight
>It’s magic
>A field of violet hyperbolas, with its origin at the dirigible
>The same hyperbolas you saw in the office, and on the balcony at Staatskongress, just before the blade launched itself from thin air
>A final gambit
>But at this range, and at this scale…
>She’ll overload it, you know she will
>Your heart drops through your stomach, through your gut, through your hooves
>The air is alive with static, and the rain is just an echo in the distance
>It feels as though all the energy in the universe is about to converge on a single point, two hundred meters above you
>She’s going to teleport the entire dirigible
>She’s going to teleport it away, with your father inside it
>And when it folds through space, when it appears on the other side, in Unicronia, hundreds of miles away…
>There won’t be any hope left
>The dream your father had will crumble into dust
>His life will be forfeit
>Instantaneously
>But this… this can’t be possible!
>Your wings feel heavier than they’ve ever felt, and your mouth tastes like iron and salt
>Your eyes are burning… burning…
>Your whole face is on fire, your whole mind…
>The violet lines draw the storm clouds up into their streams, and wisps of fog coil about the beams
>No longer does the grumble of thunder occur randomly; it reverberates with a steady tempo, like the guns below
>Like the ticking of a watch
>Like…
>Like wings making ripples in the air they bisect
>Like a heartbeat, pumping life blood through your broken body
>>
>>38730515
>Like the rattle of the Element, like all of them at once, like none of them
>You’re inside a brain, no, you’re inside a cavernous hollow, no, no…
“NO!”
>What was never done has to be done now
>What could never be done to save your mother from the storm
>There is no elemental energy left in reserve, no pool to draw from
>But you need to reach that dirigible now
>Now
>In no other moment but now
>You can’t slow the approach of the time of resolution, can’t push back the motion of the hands that drive the world
>(Cannot revert the wheel)
>Rainbow Dash…
>Rainbow Dash…
>Your eyes are already closed
>Light shines through them, the light of so many unknowable things
>Light of every color of the spectrum, light…
>(“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH”)
>The vectors become thicker, the storm diminishing in volume
>All power towards the lines, all motive towards this rhythmic act
>The witch is screaming somewhere, far away
>Her machine has gone beyond its limit
>Overloaded, pulsing, pounding, driving forward, driving…
>Faster than you’ve ever traveled
>Faster than any pegasus has ever traveled
>The thing you knew you could do, but never did
>Whereas movement in the crimson space of the Element is only movement through molasses
>Now, the movement is through the sharpest of knives, the most abstract of obsessions
>This thing you have desired, and your mind is bleeding, your life is bleeding away at the seams
>Colors… colors of the rainbow
>Colors, and
>Something
>Splits
>Apart
>
>
>
BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM
(boom)
>
>
>
>Light is upside down
>The arc is too high
>The… the…
>You are Rainbow Dash
>You are the hammer of gods
>You are floating through space and through sound
>You are surrounded by colors
>You see many things through your eyelids, many notions and motions
>But the dirigible is not among them
>Your father is not there
>He is not in the space you occupy
>He is not above, nor is he below
>You have broken… broken through sound
>You are moving through lightning and thunder
>Some part of your body, stretched thin as a wire, is taking it through you
>A shock to the system
>A flash of lightning in a summer cloud
>A phantom
>A dream
>And the smell of burning flesh
>And colors become white
>And white becomes black
>And and and and and…
>And your mother is smiling at you, between columns of unshakable stone
>And you’re falling
>And she’s falling
>Falling down to the earth
>Falling
>(Falling)
>down

******
>>
>>38730520
>At first it’s unclear, the nature of this sensation you’re experiencing
>It comes in waves, brilliant forces of energy which are not visible, but are beautiful nonetheless
>There is beauty behind the Truth, beauty in the recesses of the conscious mind, so much prophecy coming to pass
>Even without an Element of your own, you can feel that divine potential with remarkable intensity
>As though all the words of Sight of the Twelve Books of the Sun have come to pass in an instant’s time
>You are Twilight Sparkle, and even with your eyes fixed firmly on the road ahead, you know that Applejack can sense it, too
>When the pale blue storm clouds congregated about Pegasopolis Platform high above, you understood that what was going to happen was beyond significant
>The invisible ships, carrying ponies within them by Applejack’s reckoning, ascended towards the floating city well over an hour ago
>But this storm, this unnatural haze which looms large over the city and the city alone, precipitated about fifteen minutes ago
>And since then, the waves have come over you with a desperate, palpable frequency
>”Watch… unhh… the road, Miss Sunshine.”
>Jumping slightly at the sound of your friend’s voice, you regard AJ, who’s slumped back in her seat, clutching the Element tightly to her barrel
“AJ? What’s the matter?”
>She’s pale, deathly pale
>Pale as the Prophetess upon the Rock
>”It… you can’t feel that?”
>Swerving to avoid a sudden bend in the dirt path, you find yourself staring down a long, crisp shadow which stretches across the plain beneath
>It can’t be the shadow of a cloud, it’s too rigid, too…
>It must be the shadow of the city, cast by the distant sunset
>Though the storm rages far above, you can still see the crimson face of Mater Solis, gently drifting beyond the horizon
“I feel something. I feel it in waves. It’s… it’s as though Truth is washing over me. I—”
>”Not… that… unh, it’s pain! It’s somepony crying out! I can hear it!”
>Crying out?
>You hear nothing but the rumble of the ground below, and the constant bellowing of the storm above
>Wait a minute… no, that shadow…
>It can’t be cast by the sun, which is much too close to the horizon
>There’s must be a brighter light above that you can’t see from here…
>The city from this angle looks even more monumental and massive than you previously thought possible
>Part of that is the fact that it hovers so impossibly far from the ground, causing your perspective of it to be fooled
>But… if you had a tall enough ladder, and climbed up to it… Celestia, your brain can’t even conceive of such a scale
>It’s beyond anything you’ve ever witnessed
>”Twilight… help me…”
>And then, your heart drops
>In your peripheral vision, you can see your friend convulsing, jerking about in random motions, the orange crystalline form of the Element firmly attached to her
>>
>>38730523
>No, it isn’t even in her hoof anymore, you notice as you glance over in horror; it’s fused into her chest, as though magnetically drawn to that spot just above her heart
>”Twi…light…”
“APPLEJACK!”
>You can’t take your hooves off the steering module, can’t do anything to help her!
>Even if you weren’t steering, you wouldn’t even know what to do!
>Mater Solis… Mother Sun, help!
“Mater… Celestia, born of the light, imbued with the true Sight, please… please, I don’t… I can’t…”
>Your breathing is too fast, you have to control it, have to…
>The shadow is drawing closer, and you still can’t see what’s casting it
>Why is it so important? Why is this happening?
>You’ve come this far, and there’s something happening up there, in the city, beyond your control, and you can’t even see what it is, what’s to be done, what’s to—
>”AGH!”
>Applejack clutches her chest, bucking with both hindlegs, lurching her head to and fro as if searching for something to concentrate on
“Blessed is the truth of Celestia as it is spoken through her by the M-Mother of wisdom and compassion. Blessed is the word of the prophetess of the Goddess, it is Truth, it is to b-be praised. I am humble, I am bound to Her by Her will, and Her word is my… my…”
>The shadow eclipses you
>You’re moving too fast, your hoof is too heavy on the pedal
>Winona is racing forward at an unbearable speed
>Unless…
>There’s something you can feel, something… something is proceeding
>It’s too dark, too dark, and AJ is looking up through the hole in the roof of the truck, looking with blank eyes at the city in the sky
>Her mouth is open, and her convulsing has ceased
>You try to cry out to her again, but no words can leave your lips
>In the light, there’s something…
>(“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH”)
>A voice, a bloodcurdling scream, echoing through your mind
>It comes with the waves, carried on them like a signal, up and down, superposed over itself
>It wasn’t AJ, she’s still petrified and watching the sky, and it wasn’t your voice, either
>The city is almost directly overhead, and the clouds…
>The clouds are on fire
“AJ… just hold on… ow… oh, Celestia, that was…”
BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM
>Now THAT wasn’t in your mind; that came from above
>A deafening shriek of forbidden power, a noise you’ve never heard before
>And yet… it’s familiar, as is the shriek which accompanies it
>It comes from a dream, from a communion with an angel
>A Solenoid, blessed reflection of the Truth
>The noise shakes the foundation of your soul, as too does it shake the framework of the truck around you
>But it’s what comes next that shakes it the most
>You barely catch a glimpse of it before it happens, but when you look up again, tracing the vector of AJ’s entranced gaze, you see a cord of light dangling from the raging storm
>>
>>38730527
>It’s one of thousands, all eddying out in different directions, but this one in particular is growing larger and larger than the rest
>And then, half a second later, it strikes you
SHA-DOOOOOOM
>Electric sparks engulf the truck, millions of tiny lights rippling across the exterior
>Conducting them, absorbing them…
>When they dissipate, you have but an instant to recognize that you’re no longer on the ground
>Or upright, for that matter
>The world turns sideways, then upside down, then sideways again as Winona hurtles through the air from the shock of the blast
>The horizon spirals, red sky becoming black soil, a flurry of colors and shapes impossible to distinguish from one another
>For once, your heart sits perfectly still
>It’s… rather peaceful, this moment before death
>Momentum carries you up as the truck strikes the ground again
>Gravity compels you to move, but your belt prevents you from moving
>Everything’s turning, metal crunching against metal, glass shattering, directions of movement flipping from moment to moment
>Impulses, heaving, AJ looking up, then down, her Element glowing in the darkness
>And then, finally, stillness
>…
>The world is upside down
>No… it’s you
>Your braided mane hangs away from your scalp, your green Sister’s cloak draped across your face
>You’re still fastened tightly to your seat, but it hurts to move
>This is… you thought you were dead
>Thought you were on the steps of the Mother’s Garden
>And you didn’t feel an ounce of fear in that moment, embraced the possibility with open hooves
>But you feel fear now
>You’re afraid… afraid of being trapped
>You wince as you turn your neck to the right, squinting as blood pools around your eyes
>Is this the right direction? Do you see her there, next to you?
>Blood is… blood is the least of your concerns
>It’s there, and you want to throw up at the sight of it, but what matters is…
>You can’t see her; she isn’t there
>Where AJ once was, seated directly across from you, there is now only a tangle of warped metal and a mess of broken glass
>Where is she?
>Celestia, no, she wasn’t thrown out, she isn’t somewhere back there, not…
>Panic rises in your throat, but you can’t even scream
>It’s too painful, too—
>”TWILIGHT!”
>Behind you
>Something is moving behind you, something roughly pulling on your seatbelt
>Hooves reach across you, reaching out for the release switch, which is buried beneath a cluster of debris
>They fumble for a moment before retracting, then returning a few seconds later brandishing something shiny
>A sound like leather gliding across a rack greets your ears
>The bonds are loosening…
>Finally, with a snap, the belt splits in two, and you drop headfirst into the blasted roof of the truck
>Then, you’re sideways, things clutching you around the chin and shoulder, dragging you
>Dragging you into the light
“Uhmuhhhhh…”
>>
>>38730531
>Something soft wipes at your eyes, relieving them of their bloody blockage
>You can open them again, you can see…
>Applejack, standing above you
>Applejack, her breath ragged, her expression frantic and concerned
>”Twilight… are you hurt? Anything broken?”
“Uhmm… I… it hurts…”
>”I know it hurts, sugarcube. But does anywhere hurt worse than the rest?”
“Mmmm… no. No. I don’t think… no.”
>”Can you stand?”
>You clench your whole body, swaying back and forth in the dirt
>You’re prone, flat on your back, facing upwards, facing the city
>Pegasopolis, a black dot with a glorious halo
>Coughing, you close your eyes, not wanting to see specks of blood in what comes out of you
>Then, with all your might, you propel yourself onto your side, where your hooves can touch the earth
>It takes a great effort, but you manage to pull yourself onto them, bending low before standing with a crack in your joints
“My… my neck hurts.”
>”It’s whiplash. You’ll be okay, Twilight.”
“How did you…?”
>”Get out? I dunno. One moment, I was somewhere else, looking at somepony I didn’t recognize. Next moment, I was out of the truck, and this here Element was practically burning a hole in my hoof.”
>You scrape the dust off of your cloak, then turn to get a better look at Applejack
>Indeed, she appears to be completely unscathed by the crash, aside from a few minor cuts around her legs
>The Element, far duller in shade than it was during the crash, now hugs the side of her hoof, still attracted to her in its unknowable way
>Behind her, the inverted ruin of Winona hisses, wheels turned towards the sky, underside billowing out thick smoke
“AJ… your truck…”
>”It’s okay, Twilight. It don’t matter. As long as you’re okay, it don’t matter.”
“I wrecked it.”
>”You didn’t do nothing. We got struck by lightning, Twilight.”
“That wasn’t just lightning. Didn’t you see it? It was everywhere, it was coming out of the whole city!”
>”I dunno what I saw. But I know what I see now.”
>Applejack huffs, then turns her eyes towards the sky
>You follow her gaze, looking back towards the apocalyptic sight you already glimpsed
>Pegasopolis, as seen in your dreams
>The city is engulfed in a bizarre multicolored aurora, like giant towering flames erupting over its skyline
>From this angle, you can’t see very many buildings, only its smooth black carapace-like underbelly, but it too is shimmering
>Specks of light trail downwards in weird vectors from that surface, glowing lines which are impossibly thin
>But the light above… the light is as beautiful as it is terrible
>You had expected a nuclear detonation, but this… this cannot be what that looks like
>In your dreams, in those far-flung memories of the Makers’ suicide, the power of the atom came always with a great towering cloud
>But this, whatever it is, seems only to have dispersed the clouds
>>
>>38730535
>Concentric rings of every color of the rainbow cascade outwards from a point near the edge of the city
>Far beyond the extent of the initial point of explosion, the bands ripple out at several other points, creating a strange interference pattern which covers most of the visible sky
>Through all of it, brilliant white columns of energy radiate directly outward, dispersing at the edges of your vision, piercing all the colors, all the tumult
>It’s a grand design, not so unlike the fine Saddle Arabian rug adorning the Matron Celest’s private chambers
>And you are here, witnessing it from the ground, perhaps only one of two souls to do so
>But the ponies inside the radiant burst are…
“We’re too late. We were always going to be too late. Mater’s Truth is infallible. It was never our place to prevent, never…”
>”Calm down, Twilight. It’s okay.”
“It isn’t! What’s happening up there, while we’re down here, was our Mission! We needed to seek out an Element-bearer! She was here! The mare that… that Exsilist told us about! We were right to come here, it was our Mission, our fate, a-and.. and…”
>Tears blur the scope of the massive light-storm above you
>Nothing you’ve ever learned in your life could prepare you for this knowledge, no passage, no lesson, no experience, no Truth
>If you only had the Sight to perceive your own aims, if you could only see past it all…
>(See past it)
>”There was nothing we could do, Twilight! And w-we don’t even know if whatever that is is a bad thing! We don’t know what’s happened, we don’t know if—”
“She said DOOM, AJ! Doom! Numena spoke to me, I walked the bridge over the Depths, I climbed the staircase, and in the dream she said it was doom! The doom of those pegasi, there! What more can happen now, when it’s all but known to us?! Two different sources of Truth! An angel, and a demon! How is this not the worst thing that could have happened?”
>AJ stifles a sob, grunting as she wipes the dust out of her eyes
“Wh-what did you see, when you were in that place? AJ?”
>”What are you talking about?”
“When you were in a trance! When you were looking up at the city, and you s-said you saw a mare you didn’t recognize.”
>”I never said it was a mare.”
“Then who was it?”
>Applejack sighs, still only half-looking at you, and half at the spectacle above
>”It was just a face. A yellow face. She was looking at me sort of sideways. She looked like… like she was wrapped in vines, or something. She looked sad. Like everything had gone dark, all at once. That’s all I saw.”
>A yellow face…
>In a dream, an insect, nervously watching you scale the side of a colossal wheel
“I’ve seen that face too. Only once. It was in a d-dream I’d never had before, that night in Braeburn's house. A vision.”
>”And you never told me about it?”
“You wouldn’t have believed me then. You st-still didn’t believe me about th-that!”
>>
>>38730543
>You point upwards, towards the flaming reminder of all your premonitions
“That face was… was right next to that of my Matron. And the Prophetess Celestia. I thought it was just… I didn’t know what to think.”
>”When I heard that screaming, I thought it was coming from up above us. Thought maybe it was the mare we were looking for. What if… what if I ain’t the first Bearer to find her Element, Twilight? What if… what if somepony else got to theirs first?”
“That’s… no, that can’t be right. I mean…”
>It can’t be, can it?
>You’re the Sister Ascendant, you’re the shepherd of the motion chosen by the Prophetess Herself
>It should be you inciting the union… shouldn’t it?
>”Twilight… this is much bigger than either of us. Much bigger than anypony, for that matter. Even if… wait. Look!”
>It doesn’t matter
>It’s all in pieces now, all of it
>It isn’t that you’ve lost faith; if anything, your faith in Mater Solis is strengthened by the revealing of this prophecy as the purest form of Truth
>But your faith in yourself, in knowing how to prevent such catastrophe, it’s never been weaker
>You want to go home, want to—
>”LOOK!”
>An orange hoof grabs your head, and twists it gently upwards
>You snap out of your thoughts, and hear the words again
>”Look there!”
>AJ is pointing to the epicenter of the rainbow blast, where something black is growing in size
>A long tendril of smoke is shooting out of that place towards the earth, and it’s only getting longer
>Something burning, something falling
>And then, the base of your horn is in agony
“NNAH!”
>Your knees buckle beneath you, and you fall to one side, ruffling your cloak beneath your flank
>The smoke is spiraling…
>And that thing, that falling star, is approaching the ground from the place where it happened
>At times, it seems to shimmer red as it drops across the sunset sky, as though it’s reflecting light you cannot see
>But the pain in your horn only intensifies as it comes closer and closer
>If it keeps falling like that, it’s going to land less than a hundred meters from you
>”Twilight, it’s… I can see it with the Element…”
>To your left, AJ’s eyes flicker amber, and you know that the power of the seed embedded in her hoof is channeling through her vision
>Seeing beyond sight, beyond Truth…
>(Six seeds for six bearers)
>”It’s a pony. That thing is a pony. A-and… it’s alive.”
>Rainbow fire dances in AJ’s pupils, reflections of the light high above
>The column of smoke grows, the object tearing through space like a meteorite
>(Terminal velocity)
>”I… I can’t believe that she’s alive…”
“Mater Solis… bear these seeds to the earth… reveal the substance, help illuminate… the dark… th-the Depths… help…”
>It’s falling down
>Down to the earth
>And somehow, through infinite revelations, you already know the identity of the falling mare
>>
>>38730551
>Delivered to you by providence, by the careful plans of the divine
>An Element-bearer and her Element
>”W-we have to go, Twilight. Winona’s done, and we’re stranded in PAS territory. We need to find a way back, because we sure as shootin’ ain’t walking.”
“We have to retrieve her.”
>”What?”
“Have to… it’s the only way. A blue mare, with a rainbow mane. That’s what the Exsilist said, isn’t it?”
>”Y-yeah. That’s what he said.”
“And I don’t suppose you can make those features out from here, even with the Element?”
>”No. Only her life force. Only the shape of her being.”
“Celestia blesses us. She’s going to land soon.”
>”From that height? Even if she’s alive now, she’ll be dead the second she hits the ground!”
“No, she won’t. Mater wills it.”
>You divert your gaze back to AJ, and she looks back at you
>She appears shocked, and you think you know why
>There is dark determination in your eyes, slipping away with the advent of Truth
>In these moments, you are never more certain that the way you desire things to be, is the way in which they’ll come to pass
>Because… because you are the tool of Mater Solis, a Sister without the mark of magic on your flank
“I will it.”
>Seconds tick by, stares exchanged, returned to the sight before you, and not too far off, the column of smoke joins heaven and earth with a soft earthen thud
>A blue mare with a rainbow mane… that’s what you’ll find there…

******

We believed we'd catch the Rainbow
Ride the wind to the Sun
Sail away on ships of Wonder
But life's not a Wheel
With chains made of steel
So bless me come the dawn

-Ritchie Blackmore, “Catch the Rainbow”
>>
30 posts with the 3k character limit. That's gotta smash my previous best. Conceivably, I could have split this in two at the end of the Soarin part, but I saw no reason to make you all wait. Ponepaste will be updated soon, and other than that... any questions? Any concerns? No? Alright.
Hardly a spoiler, but this is the end of Part IV. Part V will begin after a brief interlude, where we'll get to see some... uh... less common POV characters get their time in the limelight. We'll tie up some loose ends, introduce some new ones, it'll be lots of fun! Seriously though, I recognize that some of these plot threads may not have popped up for a year or more, so don't hesitate to ask questions when that comes out, I'm happy to exercise my own memory and make sure none of it's self-contradictory. Cheers!
>>
>>38730571
>30 posts with the 3k character limit.
Yeah that's one hefty update. Thanks Sol.
>>
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>>38730571
This update is fucking amazing, man. I've really enjoyed Part IV.
>>
>>38730571
Keep up the good work!
>>
>>38730571
Based
>>
>>38731227
Oh man I feel like I haven't seen a reference to that ad in a long time.
>>
>>38730571
Thats a huge amount of green writefriend.
>>
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>>38733238
Yeah. It's good to see Sol get back into the swing of things.
>>
>>38733935
What's with all the smoke in the background?
>>
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>>38675272
so cool
>>
>>38735200
No idea. All the artist description says is "another ATG entry"
>>
>>38735766
That's very insightful indeed.
>>
>>38735291
Not the biggest fan of those dystopian future thingies to be honest.
>>
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>>38737651
>That text on the wall
Uh, what?
>>
>>38737919
Ok yeah that is weird.
>>
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>>38737161
To each their own. I kind of find it fun.
>>
>>38739123
Ring world taken literally.
>>
>>38739123
>>38740008
Colonization inbound
>>
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>>38741189
Heh that chauffeur looks sick of Silver Spoon's shit
>>
>>38740557
I see what you did there.
>>
>>38741189
Reminds me of LA noir with those old cars
>>
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>>38741189
>That Pegasus borne banner in the background
Okay, that's pretty cheeky.
>>
>>38742781
Man look at these nerds.
>>
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>>38742781
now use your "science" to dodge buckshot
>>
>>38743094
Hmm I wonder if that's something she hired for the photo or if that's a banner for one of Filthy Rich's stores and she's taking advantage of it.
>>
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>>38744793
If she'd throw a package into my face, I wouldn't even be mad.
>>
I am not a climatologist nor a geologist. Parts of this update involve me speculating from ignorance. Please no bully.

>Twilight Sparkle was diligently working through her day’s plan.
>The spoons had been counted- none were missing- and the wall hangings had been arranged alphabetically.
>Next came the linen closet.
>Twilight was looking forward to this one.
>When Spike did the laundry he had a horrible habit of only putting things on the shelves he could reach.
>There was PLENTY of opportunity for improvement-
*CRACK CRACK*
>A heavy knock upon the front door.
*CRACK*
>An URGENT one at that!
>Twilight hurried to the front and opened the door.
“Oh, hi there! Um- you!”
>It was a slight, blue pegasus.
>Twilight did not recognize them.
>Whoever they were, they gave her a letter with a great big smile before flying off without a word.
“Thank you!”
>It wasn’t the normal time for mail delivery, there was no mailing address, and no return address.
>This had not gone through the post.
>But Twilight didn’t need an address to know who had sent this.
>Princess Celestia’s wax seal marked the envelope.
>Twilight scurried inside and heated a knife, intent on prying the seal from the paper without damaging it.
>She had completed this task many times before and accumulated an impressive collection of identical wax seals.
>Her practice paid off, and the seal popped off in record time..
>A single piece of paper folded in half with a familiar elegant script written upon it.
>>
>>38745328
To my most faithful student,

I’m glad there is no ill will between you and your friend. Such things are wont to fester when left unresolved, and can lead to bitter feuds between once great friends. It is always wise to clear the air after any misunderstanding to ensure that there are no hard feelings.

As for the strange creature, I- in addition to many other ponies- have already been made aware of it! You needn’t decide which course of action is correct as the choice has been taken out of your hooves. I can confirm that we have no records of anything quite like it. If ever somepony has encountered this particular species before, they didn’t report or document it at all. This is an exciting and delicate opportunity, which is why we have chosen to proceed with caution. While I cannot divulge the details for risk of endangering good ponies, we are constantly monitoring it for any signs of hostility. I am pleased to report that it seems to be completely peaceful, and perhaps even incapable of causing appreciable harm. I shall inform you immediately if we should encounter any warning signs that this might change, but for now I believe it best to treat this visitor as a guest. I am entrusting you to ensure it feels safe and welcome.

As for your question, though it may not be necessary for you to make the choice I still encourage you to ponder what would have been correct had word not yet spread. It could prove to be a valuable lesson in your continuing studies. Dilemmas such as this often prove false under scrutiny.

Princess Celestia

>That had not been what Twilight was expecting.
>A response to a friendship report was welcome of course, but to have it arrive so soon?
>Without Spike around, Twilight was surprised the princess had even received the report so soon, never mind actually having a response delivered!
>She pushed logistical thoughts aside and read the message again to ensure nothing was missed.
>Princess Celestia ENCOURAGED Twilight to consider the problem.
>It wasn’t an assignment, and therefore had no due date.
>She would do it of course, but other matters had to take priority.
>Matters such as her actual assignment.
>Doubtlessly the reason why her reply had arrived so promptly.
>Entrust.
>To assign responsibility.
>Making sure the creature felt welcome was now her duty.
>It was going to be difficult re-organizing her schedule like that.
>But it was the princess’ orders, delivered with haste no less.
>She couldn’t let the princess down, no matter how busy she was!
>Twilight took one last longing glance at her now useless daily checklist before resigning herself to her fate.
>Some items on that list would remain…
>Unchecked.
>>
>>38745331
>Such sacrifices were sometimes necessary when the princess herself spoke.
>So Twilight prepared her bags and stepped out into the day.
>This message still struck her as odd.
>It bore the proper seal, this was an official royal communique.
>And if that weren’t enough proof, the writing was a perfect match.
>This letter HAD come from the princess, even if it wasn’t on her normal stationery.
>Perhaps the princess hadn’t been at home when she wrote it?
>That might explain how it got to her so quickly too, though that would raise a few questions about how the postal service routed messages.
>But she DID know this message had been delivered with haste.
>This was a high priority assignment!
>As remarkable as the response time had been, Twilight still wished her missive had arrived sooner.
>She could have had more time, even if only a little.
>That way she could have been with the creature at the crack of dawn!
>Or wait.
>Maybe that would be worse?
>What if by being around all the time she made it feel crowded and scrutinized?
>Maybe it was more comfortable being alone?
>Her task was to have it feel both welcome AND safe.
>What if those two objectives were to run contrary to each other?
>Which should take priority?
>Was the answer to that question a constant, or was it dependent on context?
>And how was she supposed to know how she was doing anyway?
>As far as she knew it couldn’t talk.
>And Twilight wasn’t exactly the best at reading pony body language, much less weird crab body language.
>How was she supposed to assess how it was feeling?
>Normally this could be solved easily enough with study, but if nopony had documented this thing before then that meant that books didn’t have the answer!
>A chill ran down her spine.
“Calm down, Twilight. You can do this.”
>The princess believed in her.
>Princess Celestia would NEVER set her up to fail!
>That meant that Twilight had the tools to succeed.
>There was no deadline on this assignment, so she could be careful and methodical about this.
>She could collect all the information she needed, develop and test strategies- she could do this scientifically!
>And if things proved REALLY challenging, she could always contact the princess for help.
>Twilight stopped dead in her tracks.
>The princess had said she didn’t know anything about this creature.
>The PRINCESS.
>DIDN’T.
>KNOW.
>If the thought that books couldn’t help her was frightening, the idea that the PRINCESS couldn’t help shook her to the bone.
>Twilight continued her journey, albeit with much less pep in her step.
>It was strangely exhilarating knowing she might soon be privy to knowledge held by no other pony.
>But the thrill of learning was not enough to assuage her anxiety.
>>
>>38745334
>Twilight reviewed her plan as Fluttershy’s cottage came into view.
>Identify known variables.
>Identify unknown variables.
>Create a function which solves for friendship.
>Somehow.
>It was painfully clear that she didn’t know enough about this thing to proceed.
>Before she could make any progress, she had to find some facts.
>Simple facts at first, basic parameters.
>But once she knew the first thing about it she could start digging a bit deeper.
>The princess’ secondary task finally made sense!
>Study and friendship weren’t mutually exclusive, they went hoof in hoof!
>She had to find out as much as possible without scaring it off.
>And without Fluttershy finding out, of course.
>She approached it quickly with a great big grin on her face.
>But wait.
>This animal moved very slowly.
>Would it perceive this vector to be a sign of confidence as intended?
>Or maybe it would be considered a sign of hostility?
>She slowed down to a crawl so as not to put it on edge.
>But what if it thought that meant she didn’t trust it?
>That would be awful!
>Twilight stood stock still, paralyzed by her own indecisiveness.
>But wait!
>The beast approaches.
>Or so she thought.
>It was kinda hard to tell with it looking everywhere at once and how slow it was moving.
>There were no convenient frames of reference to work with, she could really only guess at how fast it was moving.
>Or…
>”Oh! Hello Twilight!”
“Hello, Fluttershy. How’s he settling in?”
>”Very well! He’s so lively.”
“Really? He doesn’t look too lively to me.”
>”But he is! He was up all night again.”
>Again?
“So how many all nighters has he managed so far?”
>”All of them! I’ve never seen him sleep.”
>Twilight fished through her saddlebags for her notebook.
>She eagerly scribbled down the first of what was sure to be many notes.
“No sleep? Are you sure? It might be like a dolphin; some animals can still move when asleep, you know.”
>”Perhaps. Or maybe it just doesn’t sleep very long.”
>It finally reached Twilight.
>The blocky head craned itself down to Twilight’s face, invading her personal space.
>Twilight got her first good look at its “face”.
>Two glassy circles, one much smaller than the other, sat upon a nondescript flat background.
>Interestingly its face was inset a few centimeters with the “head” acting much like the brim of a hat.
“No nose or mouth? How does it eat? How does it breathe?”
>”I’m not sure it does.”
>That was DEFINITELY worth a note.
>A turtle-crab-dolphin that didn’t eat?
>It made no sense.
>The fact that it was moving, slow though it may be, was proof that this thing consumed energy of some sort.
>Maybe it was photosynthesizing, or it had tapped into one of the ambient arcane fields for sustenance!
>No, calm down Twilight.
>The simplest answer is usually the right one.
>They just hadn’t seen it eat anything yet.
>She made another note.
>>
>>38745338
>”Um, what are you writing down?”
“Oh, this? It’s, um…”
>Fluttershy didn’t want the creature to be studied.
“I’m writing a book!”
>”Oh! That’s interesting. Is it about our friend here?”
“NO! It’s, uhh, an autobiography?”
>”Ooh, that could be fascinating! May I read it?”
“NO! I mean, not until it’s done?”
>”I can hardly wait. Any idea when it’ll be ready?”
“Probably not for a long time. Changing the subject, how’s our friend getting along with the other critters?”
>”They love him.”
“Oh, that’s great!”
>”They might like him a little too much though. Mister Magpie was trying to build a nest in that indentation on his back.”
“Oh. That’s- he didn’t mind?”
>”He didn’t even seem to notice. I’ve never seen a bird try to nest on an animal before.”
“Guess he’s just that slow. Say, what’s that thing over there?”
“Over where?”
>Twilight fetched a measuring tape from her bag and held it up to the creature.
>650 millimeters to its back.
>Just eyeing it, it seemed a tad shorter than yesterday.
>Was that an optical illusion?
>Bad memory?
>Or just a difference in posture?
>It’s weird eye stalk stood at 150 millimeter off the back.
>Rough math suggested it couldn’t see the ground it was stepping on from that angle.
>The body would be in the way!
>Maybe it wasn’t an eye at all?
>Maybe those circles on its head were its eyes?
>But then what was the thing on its back?
>And why were its eyes different sizes?
>”I’m pretty sure that’s just a tree, Twilight.”
>She sheepishly hid the measuring tape.
“Oh, right! TREE! That’s the word I was forgetting. I’m so silly sometimes.”
>The creature finally moved its head away, seemingly having seen what it wanted to see.
>Twilight couldn’t help but notice that it was totally immobile while looking at her.
>None of the usual muscle spasms or twitches one could see in a pony.
>It was as steady as a rock.
>More notes.
“Hay, is that a- uh…”
>Rare critter.
“Jackelope!”
>”WHERE?”
>Fluttershy flew off at Twilight’s behest.
>Twilight repositioned the measuring tape in front of the critter, hoping to see just how quickly it walked.
>Or how slowly rather.
>It moved one meter per…
>How long?
>Without a timepiece, this experiment was pretty useless.
>Maybe a quarter of a meter per second?
>”I don’t see it!”
“Sorry! I think it was just the grass!”
>”Aww…”
>Fluttershy landed with much less vigor than she’s shown mere moments ago.
>”Well, I suppose I can’t be too upset. I just met a new friend after all!”
“And what a friend. Oh hey, check out that Esquilax!”
>Fluttershy looked away yet again, and Twilight fetched another tool from her bag.
>She started positioning it on the critter’s back.
>”Twilight? I don’t see an Esquilax. But I do see a level.”
>Twilight’s cheeks were on fire.
>>
>>38745341
>”How would you feel if a fast moving critter showed up and started measuring you?”
“I honestly have no idea.”
>That had never happened before.
>”It’s important that we make sure he feel safe and welcome! We need to give him some space!”
>Safe and welcome?
>Hm.
>In addition to feeling deeply ashamed, Twilight also felt extremely stupid.
>Fluttershy could help.
>Hay, she wanted to!
>Ultimately, their goals aligned.
“I wrote to princess Celestia about him, and she wants me to do my best to make sure he’s happy.”
>”You- you wrote to the princess? Oh my goodness, this isn’t good! Is she coming? Is she angry? Are they going to send him away?”
“I don’t think that’s happening. Turns out she already knew about him.”
>”She knew? Oh dear, oh dear! That might mean other ponies know too! I thought it was just a few, but now it’s… ten!”
“Yyyyeahhh… make it several thousand, even before I saw him. It’s probably even more now.”
>Fluttershy’s face shifted slowly.
>Almost as slowly as the machine’s legs.
>First, the smile drooped down.
>Next her brow gradually shifted.
>Then her eyes widened.
>She at last formed a vague facsimile of a concerned frown before quite suddenly snapping into outright fear.
“I don’t think you have anything to worry about. The princess has ordered me to make sure he feels safe and welcome. She’s not going to send thousands of ponies here to scare him if that’s what she wants.”
>”Oh, I certainly hope you’re right. But maybe this is okay?”
“Don’t worry! Princess Celestia is on your side. She won’t let us down, she’s wise beyond her years you know.”
>”Beyond her years? But isn’t she really really old?”
“Okay… so maybe she’s appropriately wise for her years? Either way, we can count on her.”
>”Well… if you’re sure. I suppose it would be nice to show him around town. And now we don’t need to worry about keeping a low profile since it’s already too late.”
“Now you’re talking! When can I pencil a tour in?”
>”We’ll start going now. But it might take… several hours. This evening?”
“Right, but what time?”
>”I’m not sure. It depends on when we get there.”
>Well that’s just great.
>How was Twilight supposed to plan around THAT?
“Should I make any preparations?”
>”I don’t know. Whatever you think is best.”
“Well, alrighty then-”
>Twilight said while trying not to grind her teeth into dust.
“We’ll just proceed on this assignment the princess gave me with no timetable, no plan, and no preparations!”
>”I’m looking forward to it.”
>There was no hint of insincerity in her voice.
>>
>>38745346
ATMOSPHERIC ANALYSIS COMPLETE
Atmospheric composition: 80.0±0.4% N2 14.2±0.2% O2 4.1±0.2%CO2 1±0.1%Ar
Despite the relatively low molality of available atmospheric oxygen, most known fauna should be able to adapt to the local atmosphere. With an average atmospheric density greater than 2.6 kg per cubic meter, oxygen density is actually significantly higher than on Earth. Many animals, including humans, are at risk of mild nitrogen narcosis should they attempt to breathe without proper support. Manned missions should be wary of weakness, confusion, and euphoria, and plan to ensure all hazards are accounted for before attempting to acclimate to the local atmosphere. Acclimation may take several days to weeks, depending on the individual.
Respiration will appear difficult at first, even if reasonable precautions are taken to ward against narcosis.The density of atmospheric gasses will result in unusual resistance to each breath, with muscle strain being the most notable risk. Some might even feel as though they are drowning due to the unusual resistance and sensation that comes with breathing such dense gasses. It may take some time for individuals to grow accustomed to the sensation of breathing.
Despite these complications it is expected that the atmosphere of Tau Ceti F will prove to be safe for human and animal respiration without mechanical support. Short term difficulties are expected, long term complications are not. Both short term complications can be mitigated or even eliminated by preconditioning

To date, all temperature readings lie between -27.2 celsius and +32.4 celsius.
The incredible thickness and density of the atmosphere has resulted in a potent greenhouse effect. Despite this, Tau Ceti F is slightly cooler than Earth as it is much further from its star and Tau Ceti itself is much dimmer than Sol. Heat is both added and lost at a much slower pace; days will be cooler, nights warmer, and all seasons milder. Even still, local temperatures exceed black body calculations by several degrees. It is likely that subterranean isotopic decay accounts for the difference.
>>
>>38745351
SURFACE ANALYSIS COMPLETE
Tau Ceti F is a large rocky planet with a sizable ocean covering 32.68% of the planet’s surface. Though this is proportionally much drier than Earth, the relative size of the planet’s 3.024 billion square kilometer surface still boasts oceans that dwarf our own. Nearly half of the 2.035 billion square kilometers of dry land is controlled by a massive continent tentatively called Tau Ceti F-1. 14 mountain ranges totalling in 6,783,008 peaks run throughout the continent suggesting it was formed tectonically. The perimeter of Tau Ceti F-1 features hundreds of yet unidentified anomalies. The interior of the continent is composed almost entirely of a colossal rocky desert which is far larger than any Earth continent. A persistent and predictable weather pattern has formed around the interplay of the vast oceans and deserts, with winds of reliable intensity forming at consistent times in response to the predictable thermal fluctuations. These winds carry with them huge cloud systems that result in vast wetlands unusually far from the coast. There is yet insufficient data to determine how seasonal changes will affect this desert, the wetlands, or the storm systems. There is yet insufficient data to determine how far inland these storm systems can reach.

The second continent, tentatively named Tau Ceti F-2, is a roughly circular ridge surrounding a crater of indeterminate depth. At approximately 424 million square kilometers in area, Tau Ceti F-2 represents an enormous cavity in the planet. The perimeter contains some of the highest measured points on the planet’s surface, serving as a bulwark against the ocean’s attempt to fill this hole. Intense winds upwards of 200 kilometers per hour surround these ridges. The high atmospheric density will result in far greater force than winds of comparable velocity on Earth. No electromagnetic radiation has been detected emanating from this hole. There is yet insufficient information to explain how these ridges, this hole, this blackness, or this wind can exist. Vagabond 5 was deployed to investigate.
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>>38745356
The third largest continent, tentatively named Tau Ceti F-3, lies near polar south. Constant winds coming from the nearby Tau Ceti F-2 carry with them immense amounts of vaporized ocean waters in a jetstream, which readily deposits its water in the form of snow as temperatures plummet well below zero. Most of the continent has yet to be observed using the visible spectrum due to the consistent storming. Broad spectrum sensors reveal thick and broad glaciers covering a rocky landscape ground smooth over many years of glaciation. The intense polar gravity and relatively warm temperatures have caused rapid glacial drift as the lower layers of the ice caps are prone to melting under pressure. It is likely that most human observers would be able to see the motion of these enormous ice sheets. The speed with which these sheets are moving suggests they must build up extremely rapidly, else they would not be able to form such peaks. This suggests the intense snow storms are not an anomaly and rather the norm.

The fourth largest continent, tentatively named Tau Ceti F-4 contains the most anomalies. The southern tip is dominated by wetlands, but immediately gives way to desert. For reasons unknown, local weather patterns do not or rarely result in detectable winds. No rain has been detected mere meters from the coastline. Weather patterns become extremely wet north of this desert, almost exactly on the equator. North of the wetlands lies an incoherent patchwork of badlands, grasslands, wetlands, and rolling hills. Local weather patterns defy all models, with winds and clouds both forming and vanishing with seemingly no cause. There is a massive oxygen discharge from the interior of Tau Ceti F-3 during daytime. Unusual light levels are detectable at night. Rivers do not flow naturally in certain areas. Unusually high temperatures have been detected, particularly toward the northern end of the continent. Vagabond 6 was deployed to investigate.

The fifth largest continent, tentatively named Tau Ceti F-5, has upon closer analysis proven to not be a landmass at all. A vast ice flow has formed in the ocean not far to the south of Tau Ceti F-4, which defies hydrodynamic models. The local ambient temperature was predicted to be too warm to permit such formations, and the ice sheets grow thinner and sparser as they move further from the epicenter, even when approaching polar south. There is yet insufficient data to explain how these ice sheets have formed, or how they have persisted in what should be fairly warm water. Vagabond 7 was deployed to investigate.

VAGABOND 5: NO SIGNAL
VAGABOND 6: UPLINK ESTABLISHED
VAGABOND 7: UPLINK ESTABLISHED

As you've likely all noticed, this green is experimental and unusually autistic. There is in fact a storyline, but quite a bit of time will be devoted to describing their planet and how weird it is. Hopefully it winds up being a fun read, but it might prove to be a stupid idea.
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>>38745363
Oh sweet. Thanks for the update WIK.
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>>38745331
>Some items on that list would remain…
>Unchecked.
Oh the horror!
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>>38745363
>>38745356
>>38745351
Not a fan of that dump.
Better pacing would probably be to interlace them between each scene change of the main scenery, to make it mode digestible and keep the "pressure" that something is analyzing their world while the MCs are still in happy-go-lucky mode.
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>>38745363
I like it autistic.
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>>38746880
That's /mlp/ in a nutshell.
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>>38745363
>infodump autism
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>>38747831
God Trixie's smug is dangerous.
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So, I'm having a bit of a dilemma and I wanted to hear you guys' thoughts.
The next update is probably going to be nearly as long as the last one. Fortunately, it's made up of four of what I like to call "mini-chapters", each of which is independent of the others. That was by design, I wanted to have a neat little interlude where we catch up with some characters we may not have seen in a while. However, I don't want the length, plus the fact that it's basically four stories one on top of the other, to overwhelm you all. So, would you prefer it if I just dumped it all at once? Or would it be better if I spaced them out to give discussion room to breathe? Let me know in the comment section below, and don't forget to like and subscribe.
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>>38748651
I think posting them separately feels more natural to me as it helps mentally break them up into the mini chapters.
>>
bump
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>>38747831
Is it just me of does Trixie look a little goofy in this shot?
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>>38748651
You do however you please, I will enjoy it regardless. That said however, I would prefer to have them spaced out. I was (and still am) in awe after that last mega-update, but, as you predicted in it's footnote, I had to spend some time skimming the previous parts of the story to refresh my memory.
About giving the discussion room to breathe - sorry for the lack of it, we were never known for lengthy discussions of our writefags' work and I noticed that ain't changing, at least not for the better.
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>>38748651
I vote for separate posts
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>>38752141
This is some high level wisdom there on the board.
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>>38752470
This genius brought to by the one and only Derpy Hooves.
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>>38753598
The question is not if, but when this lab is going up in a puff of smoke.
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>>38753013
The only mare who transcends logic.
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>>38754637
And here I thought she shared the title with Pinkie
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>>38755182
Fair point. It's to say who is further up there.
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>>38755836
Oh man. Luna will be mad.
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>>38749069
>>38750100
>>38751499
Looks like splitting is the consensus. In that case, the first one will probably come sometime tomorrow. Then I'll let it soak for a day or two before posting the next one, rinse and repeat. Will do. Cheers!
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>>38756741
Remember the con runs from Friday to Sunday so some of us would miss an update if you post one during it
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>>38756709
>"Who dares to leave all this junk on my moon!?"
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>>38757355
>Junk?
How rude. That junk was expensive.
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>>38759101
>The music comes literally out of her ass
Well, why not.
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>>38759346
I'd say it's more her thighs than ass
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>>38759895
That doesn't make it any less interesting.
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>>38758399
If it's so expensive why are you just leaving it laying on her moon?
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>>38761435
It's... complicated.
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>>38761892
That's one cute Sunset Shimmer
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>>38762190
You got it up and on there in the first place. how hard could it be to get it off there?
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>>38764887
Something something, someone lost the data.
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>>38765990
Who ever brought airplanes to Equestria clearly didn't think how economy seating would work for ponies.
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>>38766453
Pegasus carriages are usually more comfortable.
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>>38767118
I feel like a pgeasus chariot is a nit more like flying private airplane in this context.
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>>38767730
A private plane that's probably way slower than a passenger plane.
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܂>>38745363
>spoons had been counted
That is definitely important. Yes.
>he had a horrible habit of
Heh.
>perhaps even incapable of causing appreciable harm
They literally don't know anything about the thing, yet they make such bold assumptions?
>Unchecked.
The horrors!
>Maybe that would be
Get some binoculars and observe it from far.
>weird crab body language
Heh.
>function which solves for friendship
If only that were that easy.
>I’ve never seen him sleep
But had Fluttershy have a good sleep?
>The simplest answer is usually the right one.
But that usually requires the most knowledge.
>NO! It’s, uhh
Why lie?
>Fluttershy looked away yet again
I wonder how long will it take for Fluttershy to boot Twilight again.
>She won’t let us down
Yea right.
>It depends on when we get there.
Heh.
>4.1±0.2%CO2
Thats a lot of CO2.
>Respiration will appear difficult at first
But they don't need to breathe that fast since the density is much higher. The muscles will get used to it.
>unusual resistance to each breath
And a much lower voices!
>covering 32.68%
That's not a lot.
>clouds both forming and vanishing with seemingly no cause
In 10 seconds flat.
>There is yet insufficient data
Interesting that there is no mention at all about the life on the planet. Since there is surface measurements done, it should have already processed some of the data retrieved by a surface probe.
And what about gravity? That was not mentioned. Is it ~2g ?

Thanks for the update!
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>>38770177
With 2 gpu wings would that make her an SLIcorn?
>>
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>>38771875
Small #deca.mare update.
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>>38771907
yay
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>>38746595
I'll try to make it a bit less dense in the future. There's going to be reports coming from the probes because that's half the green, but I'll try to make it more digestible. Thanks for the input.

>>38770580
About the gravity and life questions. Both should be addressed in fiction. We already know that the planet is about 4 times the size of Earth so it has a huge gravity well, but we don't know much about surface gravity yet. Beyond that I'm hesitant to go into too much detail since you're getting close to the central concept of this green and I don't want to blow it.
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>>38772538
> getting close to the central concept of this green and I don't want to blow it.
Sounds exciting. Looking forward to finding out
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>>38771907
Thanks for the heads up
>>
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>>38775041
damn straight
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I went ahead and waited til the weekend was over, since someone mentioned the /mlp/ con was going on and I didn't want to interfere with 3 days of solid partying. Since there are only 50 posts left in the thread, it was probably a good idea to split the update. If we get real close, I might have to ask for the thread to get bombed and start a new one for the remaining parts. Anyway, you all know the score. Here goes:

INTERLUDE
FOUR STORIES

1. AMENDMENT

>The sight of this place makes you queasy in a way you can’t describe
>The chill on the air doesn’t help, makes you shiver all over, and maybe that’s part of why you’re so wound up
>Only a part, though
>You always thought the grass in the lawn looked thin, like it was too frail to keep its color
>Ill-fitting for a manse yard, anyhow
>You are Braeburn… Braeburn APPLE
>Well, for now, you have to be Braeburn Rich
>You have to take after your father for a while, just to make sure this whole thing goes over without a hitch
>And as hard as you tried to be independent, the Families always seem to draw you back in
>Maybe it’s good that you’re back in the fold; you’ve spent two nights this week already at Sweet Apple Manor, to everypony’s alarm except for Granny Smith
>The quizzical expressions of the whole clan bore down on you those nights at supper, all of them wondering what in the hay this half-drunk bastard outsider is doing back in the halls of the Apples
>You’ll…
>You almost thought “You’ll show them”
>Show them what?
>You have to let go of old grudges if you’re going to survive from this point on, which is exactly why you’re here now
>With the Apples, and with your other family
“Hurn. Let’s just get this over with.”
>Richton Estate, the vast, gaudy marble complex of edifices, spires, and landings you know all too well, stretches across acres of prim lawn before you
>It’s smaller by a tad than Sweet Apple Manor, but it makes up for it with its height, its presence
>And where Sweet Apple Manor houses about fifty these days, Richton Estate is home only to three
>The esteemed Baron Filthy Rich, Chief Magistrate of the Five Families of Rich Valley
>His wife, Her Majesty the Baroness Spoiled Rich, who’s spent her whole life trying her damndest to live up to her unfortunate name
>And their daughter, Diamond Tiara, who you knew only when she was very small
>She probably scarcely remembers you now, if at all…
>Well, you’d rather not think about all that
>The Baron knows you’re coming, since you sent ahead with a letter asking for an audience
>He replied in the formal way, no extra frills, which has tempered your expectations somewhat
>You ain’t looking for any kind of grand reconciliation, but you were equally afraid he might still be raw about the way you left things
>You decided to walk out here, rather than take the truck; it’s only a few miles out to Richton, and it’s been too long since you’ve just admired the scenery
>>
>>38776075
>There’s a stillness to Rich Valley that you doubt can exist anywhere else, a quiet beauty you don’t get much of around the souk
>It’s a bit noisier here, what with the town down the hill always raising chatter and commotion, but out in the country, between the trees and the mountains…
>You understand why the Families settled here, of all places
>Approaching the gate, you stop as you see a shape moving in one of the many windows of the manor in front of you
>Somepony’s watching you
>Could it be Baron Rich?
>You choose to keep your head down and hurry your gait, at last coming to a full stop at the threshold of the wrought-iron fence encircling the house
>A gate, inlaid with your father’s monogram, stands between you and the house
>Green lawns with wispy, dull grass stretching for what seemed to a young foal to be miles, all kinds of little nooks to climb on…
>”Mister?”
>You jump, the hypnosis induced by this picture of your childhood immediately reduced to a startle
>To your left, on the other side of the gate, a small figure is approaching you
>A filly with a pink coat, coiffed hair, and nervous eyes looking right back into yours
>It’s her… oh, no, you really didn’t want to see her
“Y-you must be Diamond Tiara. My name is Braeburn.”
>”Braeburn?”
>The filly’s muzzle twists upwards in some mix of puzzlement and distaste
>”You’re that… you’re that fella who lives down with all the Saddle Arabians, aintcha?”
>Could it be that she doesn’t know? That her mother hasn’t tried poisoning her against you?
>That would be fantastic…
>You force a smile, which you’re certain makes you look like a freak
“That I am. I’m, uh, here to see the Baron. Is he around?”
>”You mean my daddy? He’s just inside. B-but I don’t think he’s entertaining right now.”
>Behind the curtains in that upper-story window, the shadow stirs, then disappears
“Uh, I’ve got a prior appointment. Needed to discuss a potential arrangement with him.”
>”Oh. Well, that’s alright, I guess. My daddy says that if anypony shows up during daytime asking for to talk, to tell them he isn’t entertaining. But I guess if he already knows…”
>That’s curious; he used to do all of his business during the day
“So, uh. Diamond Tiara, r-right?”
>That’s my name. Don’t wear it out.”
>The filly giggles at her own joke, and you can’t help but smirk and roll your eyes
“This might seem like an odd question, seeing as how we’ve only just met. But, erm, how’s your daddy doing these days?”
>”What do you mean by that, mister?”
“I mean… does he seem alright? Does he talk to you, does he… does he meet anypony you don’t know?”
>Tiara stretches out on the grass, crossing her hooves in front of her and yawning
>>
>>38776081
>”Daddy talks to all kinds of people I don’t know. He says that when I get to be his age, I’ll have all kinds of friends from all over the country too. But he talks to me and mom plenty. Mom always says he talks too much, especially when he’s drunk.”
>Now THAT you do remember
“He ever meet with, uh, people from the big city? From Mons Canteria?”
>At the words “Mons Canteria,” the filly’s eyes light up with obvious glee
>”Oooh, I love Mons Canteria! We went there on a trip a few months ago! I brought my friend Silver with me, we saw the Capitola… Capitulate… the highest part of the city! There were all these pretty buildings there, all different colors, and they were all so tall! And you could look down, and, and there was just nothing but city as far as you could see!”
“So he met with ponies there?”
>”He left us with Mom for a lot of the time. But I dunno any of those ponies from the city. Hay, why are you asking me all this, anyway? You fixing to take a trip there sometime?”
“Heh, yeah. I’ve always wanted to see the city, too. Never had the chance to go no further than Briarton, though. I’se just curious, is all.”
>”You kinda talk like an Apple. Are you an Apple?”
“Oh, uhhh… aha, it’s actually… uh…”
>”Tiara! Get back in the house, your mother wants to sew with you!”
>”Yes, Daddy!”
>You almost don’t want to look
>But as Tiara stands up again, gives you one last sideways look, then skips back towards the manor, you’re left with watching her go, watching the approach of the one who called her in
>He walks with a funny mix of poise and hurry, his own dark mane a bit disheveled, a few loose hairs dangling over one eye
>He wears only a smoking jacket, which flutters in the midmorning breeze; a pipe hangs halfway out of one loose pocket
>When he reaches the gate, he looks you up and down with a sharp, discerning gaze, but makes no move to let you in
>You have to be strong now, Braeburn… you can’t let him see what you’re thinking
>Can’t let him use the past against you
>This is too important, and you owe it to AJ to get this done
>”You’ve grown. Put on some muscle.”
“I work the field. Couldn’t afford to pay some of my field hooves.”
>”It’s that kind of market. But those Saddle Arabians, you know, they ask for less and less every month. But I’m sure you and the Apples know all about that. Starve them out, let them pay for the luxury.”
“And you don’t do the same?”
>Baron Filthy Rich smirks, gazing over your head at nothing in particular
>He always does that, always looks over you, like you ain’t big enough to warrant his attention
>Always…
>”You come to insult each other’s affairs, or did you come to ask me for something?”
“I came to make an arrangement. Like I wrote you.”
>>
>>38776085
>”An arrangement? Ahhhh. Now, an arrangement I’m amicable to. Long as you’re aware that Spoiled won’t, eh, have it if Tiara gets a haypenny less than she’s already getting.”
“It ain’t about the will, Dad.”
>”Oh, so I’m ‘Dad’ now? Because last I heard, you’ve been cozying up with your mother’s kin. You want to air out our dirty laundry to everypony willing to listen?”
“What’s that supposed to mean? As if everypony in the Valley don’t know who I’m from?”
>”One doesn’t. One. And I’d like to keep it that way.”
>That wasn’t the response you were expecting
>Sure, you expected that from his wife, who always looked at you like you were unclean, like you were worth less than her hoof clippings
>But… if it’s really his call…
“Tiara’s gonna have to know the truth someday.”
>”Someday. Not today. Her mother and I, we do well these days. Well enough.”
“Look… Dad. I know I said some things last time, but—”
>”Last time? In the paaast, Braeburn, in the past.”
>His drawl is dripping with false nicety, but you let it pass
“BUT. What I’m asking for ain’t money, or acknowledgement, or nothing. It’s about what’s under the Sky Farm.”
>”Under? What exactly—”
>The Baron’s face drops, as does his gaze
>His eyes are on you now, and only you
>”Ah. So it WAS you and that cousin of yours. I ‘spected as much. Well, I thought it’d come to this. I’d let you inside, but… well, you know.”
“I know. Look, I’ll cut to the chase. I have to be on a train to Lumberton two hours from now, and I walked. Granny Smith wants you to amend the terms of the Convention.”
>His expression split into vertical slices by the gate’s bars, the Baron appears remarkably affable about what you’ve just said
>”Heh. Couldn’t wait till the next Summit, could she?”
“You and I both know there are more Saddle Arabians in the Valley now than we’ll be able to feed come winter. Some of those’ll disperse after harvest, but your Foundation is fixing to accept another three thousand from Horseshoe Bay next spring. The war in Unicronia’s in full swing, and we’re expected to make surplus. How are we meant to do that when we’re already running a deficit?”
“Why doesn’t Granny Smith let the Foundation worry about that? When the Sky Farms are all operational by next year’s harvest, there’ll be more than enough to go around. As for the war… we shouldn’t be hoping for violence to continue any longer than it should.”
“Shouldn’t hope? We should still PLAN!”
>You clang a hoof against the bars, the vibration rippling out to the rest of the fence, adding to the rest of the natural din
“And now that I know your little secret, it’s—”
>”Shhhhh.”
>>
(The line starting with "Why doesn't Granny Smith" is meant to be spoken by Filthy Rich. Oops.)

>>38776089
“Fine, I’ll whisper! Now that I know what’s really going on beneath those Sky Farms, that the government’s turning the Valley into a gol-danged nuclear missile silo, you’ll excuse me if I find it difficult to believe that we’ll really have more than enough!”
>”The Farms themselves do exactly what’s on the tin. Their secondary purpose don’t make a lick of a difference in that regard. They’re hollow in the middle, and so what?”
“So it’s… it ain’t right, Dad.”
>”Right? Right?! What right does that green old chewed-up n’ spit-out toothless Apple got to send you to me and beg for a change of the Convention? Eh? What’s right about that?”
“We’re dying, Dad. The whole Valley’s getting crushed. You know it as well as I do. And something has to be done. And if you don’t… if you don’t make the change, then folks are gonna know what I know.”
>”You’ll blackmail me? You’ll stand at my gate, my own flesh and blood, and tell me you’ll go against me?”
“I’ll do what I have to. And it ain’t just for the Apples, Dad. It’s for all of us.”
>”All of YOU. Ha! What exactly is ‘all of you?’”
>Applejack
>Twilight Sparkle, the nun who can’t help but make an impression
>Ponies you have to learn to trust, despite your instincts
“Look. I don’t want to do this. But it affects me. Something you did affects me. And I ain’t gonna just lie down and let it happen. I ain’t no messenger, neither. I came here because I wanted to. Granny Smith ain’t the only one struggling to make ends meet.”
>”Ends meet. Pah! The whole Barony idea, the whole lot of the Families, it’s antiquated! You want to see something that’s ‘dying,’ look no further! The Handbook changed the world, my son. You want your change, you don’t come to me.”
With that, the Baron turns and marches off, back towards the bright mahogany doors at the far end of the lawn
>You’re trapped here; you can’t make a move, can’t take a step forward
>Unless…
>He’s halfway there
>Unless…
>Say it now, or say it never
“Legitimize me.”
>Caramel-colored ears pop up behind the tuft of a lopsided mane, and your father’s plodding gait reverses
>The pipe falls from his pocket onto the grass, but he doesn’t seem to notice or care
>”Say it again.”
“Legitimize me. Make it officially documented, in ink, that I’m yours.”
>The Baron practically skids to a halt when he reaches the gate again
>If it weren’t there to stop him, you believe he’d trample right over you
>”You’re pulling my chain. You’ve got some nerve, boy, to come to my house, come speak to my daughter like she’s some kind of sister to you, and then have the GALL to say something damned stupid like that. After what you said to me last time you were around.”
“Thought you said that was in the past.”
>>
>>38776094
>”Give me one reason why I’d even consider it.”
“You’re still standing here, instead of laughing your way back inside. That’s one reason.”
>”I’m standing here because I’m curious how deep a hole you can dig for yourself. Or did you come with a script from dear Granny?”
“You publicly acknowledge me as your son. Your wife would throw fits, but the rest of the Valley sees me as an asset. A friend, even. I’m the one who puts the lumber in the fires, the bread on the tables. I’m the one who makes the trades, signs off the shipments. No Saddle Arabian can do what I do, and I do it because I’m your son.”
>”How flattering.”
“If you’re skittish about inheritance, then it’s no hair off my back. Make it all out to Tiara. She’ll need it more than me, after all. But tell them all my name’s Braeburn Rich, and your standing with the ponies who are most affected by the fruit shortage increases tenfold. They see YOUR name on the shipment forms, instead of ‘Apple.’”
>”And what exactly is your end of this bargain?”
“That is my end.”
>”You finished?”
“No. I spread the good word about dear devoted daddy wanting to help out best he can, not playing favorites with the immigrants because it gets him richer than he already is. And in exchange, you reduce the number for next spring to one thousand. Then, the spring after that, you reduce it again.”
>”I don’t control the flow of Saddle Arabians into Canterium, Braeburn. The Senatori has that luxury.”
“But you can keep them out of Rich Valley.”
>The Baron’s expression contorts into a look of prim annoyance you know all too well
>He used to wear it whenever you made a particularly good chess move against him
>”This would have been far easier, Braeburn, if you’d only kept in touch these last long years.”
“I ain’t interested in nostalgia. I just want what’s mine, and what’s best for mine.”
>”Then I’m sure you’re aware that I can’t simply make a public declaration citing my legitimate male son as such without also compensating you in my will. Nor can I do so off the cuff. You have to be the son of a Baron, which entails certain responsibilities.”
>He’s really considering it
>You honestly didn’t expect to get this far
>All that time twisting Sadd’lah around the bend must have REALLY improved your bartering skills
“Anything.”
>”Well, then, this might excite you. You want an end to the influx? An acquaintance of mine in the Senatori informed me that there’s going to be an envoy from Saddle Arabia in Baltimare a week from today. Oh, yeah. They’re sending a delegation over from the city to discuss supply chains, moving equipment to aid the Shahanshah in their civil war. Big payout, low risk.”
“And you’re telling me this… why?”
>”Because, my wily son…”
>Baron Rich presses his hoof against the bar in kind, close to where yours is resting
>>
>>38776100
>It’s hardly a display of affection, more like a challenge for you to rise to
>”The Shahanshah wants the same thing you do. You think he wants fighting-age stallions and mares crossing the sea, when he could be using them against the rebels? He’s tried locking the borders time and again, but he can’t do it without the Senatori’s help. But the Senatori can’t spare the time nor the horsepower to help. We’ve got our own problems on this side of the water.”
“You want me to somehow convince this delegation to make a deal with the envoy to put a deadlock on immigration. How am I supposed to do that?”
>”No deadlocking, no. Just restrict to a more reasonable inflow. It’d put a minor damper on my plans, but it’s worth it if it means… well, I’ll only say I’m amicable to your offer. And if you play your cards right, you won’t need to approach the Senatori delegation at all. Approach the envoy directly, and he’ll raise your points for you.”
“And just who is this envoy?”
>Filthy Rich grins, exposing his unnaturally white front teeth
>”Haakim. He’s the younger brother of the Shahanshah. Plant a notion in his head, and you’ve practically planted it in the Shahanshah’s, as well. If you need passage, I’ll arrange it.”
>With that, your father cracks his neck, crosses the gate, and turns back towards the house
“Dad. Just one more thing.”
>This time, he doesn’t look back to address you
>”No, this don’t count as a reconciliation. When we’ve reconciled, you can walk on the other side of that gate. Nopony, not even my own flesh and blood, gets to say the things you said to me that night, and come in my house without paying for the privilege first.”
“So it’s all money to you, then? It’s all one big payday?”
>”If it ain’t to you, then you’re playing wrong.”
>The door at the end of the yard opens, then closes again, leaving you alone again with the wind and the noises of nature
>Haakim, the brother of the Shahanshah
>You kill two birds with one stone by approaching him in Baltimare
>And maybe, just maybe, you stop doubting yourself somewhere along the way
>Shoring up your wits, you trot back down the hill, back towards the trainyard, the summer breeze hitting all the right places
>One thing’s for certain, though; when all this blows over, you’re never going back to live in that house
>Maybe with the Apples, though you doubt it, but NEVER in Richton Estate
>That great big house of three just isn’t big enough to accommodate four…

******

That's it. On the shorter side, but just remember it's 1 of 4. Next one will come when I've got time in the next couple days. Cheers!
>>
>>38776106
>On the shorter side
Yeah it's bit unfair to compare this to that massive 30 post update from before but this is a nice decent size update.
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>>38745363
I've been reading your stuff since about halfway through Steel Sanctuary, and while nothing you've written has ever quite recaptured that magic I still find myself looking forward to what you come up with next. You've even inspired me to write some of my own stuff. Thank you.
Would you be okay with me, let's say, stealing some of your ideas? More specifically, I'm probably going to wind up with at least one fight down the road with my current green. Potential spoilers in case anyone here reads it. Chrysalis has access to human military hardware, and I need a powerhouse who can take a few hundred bullets and keep going. My eyes are currently on Luna.
It's not set in stone, and if it does happen it won't be for a fair while, but I don't want to plan around this without knowing if it's okay.

Full disclosure, the green is about rape. It's over in /SiM/, so I would understand if you're not comfortable being associated with it.
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>>38776106
Thanks for the update Sol
>>
>>38777316
Oh that sounds like it's almost right up my alley for a story I want to read. I'm just not so sure about those last details at the bottom.
>>
>>38776106
Damn, I had almost forgotten about the immigration crisis... nice to see you returning to the side stories, even if it's just for a bit.
>>
>>38778647
Yeah. Seems like a good way to refamiliarize people with some plot points from a while back that may soon be relevant
>>
>>38776106
Hey just got back from vacation, and this is some good shit to catch up on. Thanks Solanon
>>
>>38777316
>spoiler
I'd guess any of the alicorns are a safe bet as they got the magic shield bubble. Alicorn body being somewhat resilient to damage is also a popular headcanon. Luna is a good choice. Her ability she used in the first episode as Nightmare Moon where she turned to mist would make her effectively immune to small arms fire. If not then her short temper and stubbornness would still make her a good candidate for someone who chooses to stand and fight despite their injuries aka a "too angry to die" character.
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>>38780674
What's that golden streak on her face? A mask?
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>>38781759
I think it's a golden face plate for some sort of cybernetics.
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>>38782527
Could be.
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>>38784157
Does anybody know if the symbols mean anything?
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>>38784656
Parts of them look very similar to nordic runes. But that's only about 50%. No idea about the rest.
>>
>Thread sliding like crazy
What the fuck is going on here?
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>>38784878
A lot of posts in other threads.
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>>38785301
It's a bit unusual for that much apparent activity at around that time if day.
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>>38786035
Highly unusual, even.
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Looks like I can just manage to fit one more in before we move on to the next thread. I planned on posting yesterday but was interrupted by a long adventure involving transporting a captured raccoon to a new home where he can no longer ravage my tomato plants. Anyway...

2. NARROWS

>You are Lucky Clover
>And you are royally screwed
>Screwed every way to Solday
>They know, and you know that they know
>And THEY know that you know that they know
>You’re crouching in the darkness at the end of your little abandoned offshoot in Theta Tunnel, watching shapes moving behind the translucent glass of the sliding doors
>Watching the worker bees, the scientists, all of them rushing through the intricate mayhem of Site 23
>You could swear that every now and again, one of them peers for a little too long back in your direction as they pass
>Beyond, the soft sunset glow illuminates the red rock of the central pit of the site
>But you aren’t concerned with beautiful things right now
>Right now, you just want to hide in this hole forever
>After all, better to be terrified for your life than actually put your life in a malefactor’s hooves
>You sent those microfiche prints over your secure link to the Chancellor immediately after getting ahold of them, but there was something you didn’t like about it
>Sure, there was the whole “giant yellow corona over See Rock” thing, but it was what happened afterwards that really set your teeth on edge
>When you terminated the connection in the usual way, by unplugging your modified routing cable to avoid detection by comms two floors above, you received a feedback hash you’ve never received before
>You didn’t bother decrypting it at the time, since you thought it was just a glitch, but after what happened earlier today, you can’t stop thinking about it
>And as for what happened earlier today, well… it isn’t the worst thing that could have happened, but it’s damn close
>You must have made a mistake, just a tiny one
>When you pulled that stunt in Professor Neigh’s lab, you thought you’d accounted for everything, but you must have left something behind, o-or somepony must have noticed you leaving when everypony was rushing out to see where the noise was coming from
>Maybe you didn’t put the manila folder back exactly where it was, or Neigh had devised some kind of system for detecting if it was moved
>Either way, the outcome’s the same; earlier today, you overheard Neigh jabbering on to one of his whitecoats about an intruder in his office
>That pencil-pusher, the bruise on his eye nearly healed after his violent encounter with Caballeron, was practically belting out his laments to the whole facility
>It made your blood freeze, even with the Badlands sun beating down your neck
>But even if he knows that somepony was there, it hardly means he knows it was you
>>
>>38787046
>But there’s going to be tightened security in his sector, and probably all other secure sectors with sensitive materials, which’ll make it impossible to do any kind of intelligence-gathering from here on out
>If they catch wise that there’s an informant on the inside, it’s only a matter of time before they trace it back to you
>Hence your concern over that strange hash function; after mentally poring over everything that’s happened in the last few days—rubbing shoulders with Black Bar, breaking into Neigh’s office, seeing See Rock explode into orange light, transmitting the files, accidentally ordering decaf at the cafeteria…
>Well, one of those things might be less important than the others
>Point is, when you played it all back in your head, the feedback hash stood out, and now you think you’ve devised a theory as to what happened there
>Since the drive on your hidden computer effectively gets wiped every time you use it, with the only data stream left being the digital receipts of pinging the comms array (which you can’t delete, since they hold the key to accessing the array the next time), you can’t confirm this, but…
>You think that hash might have been some kind of backdoor trigger getting sprung up top
>More specifically, since the last time you hijacked the array to transmit info to the Chancellor, somepony’s taken the time to actually install security measures that could detect the array being used that way
>Of course, it should be impossible to digitally trace it back to this module, but that’s hardly the point
>If they’ve seen that a computer not on the network is overlaying encoded messages over the standard broadcasts, they will quite literally scour every square inch of this facility to find that computer
>You may be good at hiding things IN computers, but you’re not so proficient at hiding the computers themselves
>This junky little alcove in Theta Tunnel, protected only by a reprogrammed lock that could easily be overridden, is the only safe place you have for your little den of techno-wizardry that currently sits to your left
>Hence the panic
>Celestia damnit, that’s two strikes already! What happens when you mess up a third time?
>You never should have taken this deal; this was a TERRIBLE idea from the start
>What were you THINKING when you signed up to do a covert op for the Chancellor in exchange for your freedom?
>You won’t have any freedom if you’re discovered here, and what awaits you down that path is a million times worse than any cell
>You took the time to take the compact disc containing the footage of your break-in out of the manual surveillance room, so at least they won’t get you that easily
>But there could be all kinds of threads that lead back to you, threads you aren’t even aware of
>If you show your face out there, somepony perceptive will see the guilt writ as plain as day on your face, a-and they’ll report you to Caballeron, or to Black Bar, or…
>>
>>38787054
“Calm down.”
>Yes, calm down
>You heard that Comet Tail, the senior inquiry officer, got over his food poisoning, and he’s scheduled to meet with Black Bar tomorrow
>If he hadn’t gotten over it, it would have been YOU in the hot seat, so there’s a bit of luck
>Yes… when all else fails, you’ve always had luck on your side
>Literally, there’s a four-leaf lucky clover emblazoned on your side
>You crawl out from behind the stacked crates and mining equipment you’ve holed up in, and dust yourself off
>Site employees are still trotting back and forth down the hall beyond the window, but you aren’t afraid of them
>To them, you’re just Officer Shamrock, and nopony has any reason to suspect you in particular of being a mole
>No reason for paranoia, no cause for concern
>But you’re going to have to find some other way of accessing the comms array that doesn’t trip up their new security measures
>After all, you’re sure that after sending him all that juicy material about the “gluonic substructures” and whatnot, the Chancellor’s salivating for more
>You’ll need a secure way of communicating with him, and you’ll need it—
TAP TAP
>You’d jump out of your skin if your legs hadn’t just turned to jelly
>Something soft and plastic-like just double-tapped your shoulder from behind
“NuhAHH!”
>Your hardhat falls off your head, clanging against the rock wall to your right
>For your part, you stumble forwards, whipping about to face whatever just touched you
>You wish you hadn’t
>Celestia, you wish you hadn’t
>Standing before you, concealed in the semi-darkness of this barely lit alcove, is Death
>Or at least, it’s something like how you’ve always pictured Death
>It stands on four legs, it’s got the body of a pony, the head of a pony, but…
>Your blood turns to ice, and your teeth feel like they’re grinding themselves to dust
>Losing all control of your motor functions, you stumble back, your animal instinct to run from danger taking the reins
>Into the offshoot you go, into the room where your console hums idly, and with a crash you slam into the roller chair you’ve positioned at the center of the room
>One hoof shoots out to try to find a grip, to no avail; the chair sails away, knocking over a very expensive piece of equipment that probably shouldn’t have been on the floor
>But it doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter, this is it you’re going to…
>The shadow-thing wastes no time in rounding the corner, passing through the steel frame of the doorway into your cave-hideout
>The little lightbulb hanging from a wire at the center of the room illuminates some of its features, and it’s even more horrifying than you could have imagined
>The thing, now more obviously pony-shaped, is covered head to hoof in an oily black latex substance, but for a few curly mane hairs protruding from a seam in the top of its skull
>>
>>38787066
>Crude stitches, threads of every color, zigzag across its body, joining and separating seemingly at complete random
>Between the seams, a mishmash of pinkish diamonds of varying shapes and sizes speckle the blackness like the pox
>If there really is a pony underneath all that, you can’t understand how it sees; even its eyes are covered by dark reflective fabric
>It approaches you with intent, its steps perfectly silent, its gait some kind of unnerving cross between those of a spider and a pigeon
“Please, no, d-don’t… p-please…”
>These are the last moments of your life, you’re about to be eaten by a monster, you know it you know
>And your last meal was a cup of decaf!
>DECAF!
>And yet…
>Once it reaches you from the other side of the room, it pauses, simply pondering your pathetic prone form
>Through the hooves you’re cowering behind, you see it looking down on you, appearing disturbingly tall from this angle
>Can it even “look?”
>For several seconds, stretched into what seem like hours, you just sit there, staring in shock, your heart drilling a hole through your chest
>Then, slowly, you lower your hooves, and shift into a more upright position
>When you do, the thing moves its head with a resounding crack, making you flinch in abject fear
>It’s looking at your console, taking in every detail of the room
>What is it?
>Is it… is it a MARE?
>The thing raises a hoof, then plunges it into a… pocket?
>Some kind of recess on its flank that you’re pretty sure wasn’t there before
>But after shuffling around for a few moments, during which time you could swear you hear the honk of a goose and a cat’s meow, the thing pulls its hoof back out, revealing a scarlet envelope
>Then, the most unexpected thing occurs
>It bows low, stretching its hoof towards you, the letter perfectly poised atop the stitch-encrusted heel
>With great caution, you reach out and take the envelope, expecting to be eviscerated or mauled or cloven in two at any moment
>Then, ripping the envelope open with your teeth, you retrieve the thin wax paper within, and scan fearfully across the simple black lettering
>>
>>38787077
>It reads:
Clover,

I thought it ill-advised to send word ahead of the arrival of my servant. It’s come to my attention that one or both sides of the channel we are using to communicate may be compromised by OI. Black Bar has ponies on his payroll everywhere in Castle Kabardian, and it is not out of the question that my personal encrypted line at home may have been tapped. Drones, very resourceful agents, you name it. Communications between us must be, for the time, severed altogether while I work out a fix.

However, the information you have provided me thus far from the Maker’s Fist has proven essential, and though I imagine security has grown much tighter since the radiation incident to the north of the site, I have devised what I hope to be a quality solution to your ever-burdensome task of gaining access to some of the more confidential areas of that place.

This is Pink, my recently appointed bodyguard, as well as one of my closest confidants. She is a Mouthless Jester of the Guild of the Laughing God, and if you are receiving this letter, it means that she has succeeded in crossing the Badlands undetected and infiltrated Site 23 without issue. Though my security concerns are nominally at an all-time high after the recent attempt on my life, I have elected to sacrifice Pink to your service, as it is critical that you perform your task with expediency and discretion. More critical, even, than my own life, for the purposes of our nation’s safety and peace.

Pink is an uncontested master of infiltration, camouflage, and extraction of key elements. Though I received her as a gift secondhand, and have never directly conversed with her Guild, I can assure you that she is absolutely loyal, and I have instructed her to follow your commands until such time that I recall her back to Mons Canteria. I cannot claim to be especially knowledgeable of the arcane nature of her abilities, but as I have come to understand it, Pink has been ritualistically exposed by her Guild to some manner of ancient chaos magic, of the sort unknown even to the most knowledgeable Unicronian practitioners left alive in our present world of Maker technological dominance. She is able to conceal objects nearly as large as her own body on her person without a trace. She has been known to vanish outright when nopony is looking, and she can contort her body so precisely that she is able to fit into spaces no more than a few centimeters wide. Put simply, she is the perfect tool of espionage.
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>>38787084
With Pink at your command, I am confident that you will find it trivial to locate and extract materials related to those with which you have already provided me. These gluonic substructures, prophetic dreams, alpha waves, the purpose of these supercomputers, and this “Hull” are of particular interest to me. As I am not in a position to give you instructions any more specific than this, I shall leave it to your discretion. But I can only wonder if the key to all of this lies in the Omega Sector in the deepest levels of the facility.

Stay vigilant. Keep contact with Pink to an absolute minimum, she can take care of herself. And DO NOT jump ship. I needn’t point out that Pink will find you long before Black Bar does, if you elect to run. Speaking of Intelligence Minister Black Bar, I should like to know how he spends his days there in Site 23, after I have now recalled him to the city three times without word back. Work with Pink to keep tabs on his movements. Do these things for me, and I can foresee your extraction and pardon occurring within the month.

YOURS HUMBLY,
CHANCELLOR NEIGHSAY

P.S. Do not attempt to remove Pink’s carapace. In fact, try not to touch her unless absolutely necessary. Her friendliness only extends so far.
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>>38787087
>You read the letter three times over, careful not to miss anything
>Then, you fold it and place it on the wooden table next to you
>Immediately, the bodysuited shadow pony—Pink—snatches the paper off the table and returns it to her invisible pocket
>Safer with her than with you, you suppose
>The first thing that comes to mind is that you needed absolutely no encouragement from the Chancellor not to touch his “gift”
>If you were caught between her and swimming pool full of broken glass, you’d do a backstroke to make sure she wasn’t following
>Aside from her serial-killer getup, she exudes some kind of tangible menace… you don’t really know how to describe it, but it freaks you out
>Still… despite sneaking up on you, she hasn’t exactly done anything overtly malicious
>And if the Chancellor sent her to you personally to help you out, he must be dead serious about canvassing this place top to bottom
>He’s done with the kind of comp-trolling espionage you’ve been getting up to, and he’s resorted to sending a Mouthless Jester to do his dirty work
>Yes, you’ve heard of the Laughing Guild… they come from the east of Equestron, somewhere around Horseshoe Bay
>You’ve heard stories about them worshipping some giant old statue, dancing around it in insane bacchanalia rites
>Crafting special ponies for special purposes
>You don’t even want to imagine what’s underneath that bodysuit… something beyond the strict definition of a pony, you’d imagine
>But even with that faceless, featureless black mask stretched across her face, you can still feel Pink’s intense gaze boring into you
>You should probably say something
“Um… so… do you talk?”
>Pink merely cocks her head to the side, a move that sends a shiver up your spine
>She even makes that look creepy…
“I’ll… I’ll t-take that as a no. Then… am I, like, your boss now? Head honcho? Aha…”
>The patchwork pony nods a little too rapidly, like a dog expecting a treat
“Alright. Then… uh… okay. You can get into places that I can’t. Higher clearance areas. R-right?”
>She shrugs
“That’s not helpful. Well, alright, I guess it isn’t fair to ask you that if you haven’t even gotten a… uh… a lay of the place. A-and… you’re not a miracle worker. Are you?”
>Pink appears to ponder the question for a few seconds, then shakes her head side to side mechanically
“Sure. I guess I can’t expect you to… okay. Okay.”
>You have an idea
>A ridiculous idea that would never, ever work
>From what little you’ve heard about Omega Sector, you know there’s only one entrance, and it’s guarded closer than the Vault of Everhoof
>Pink may be some kind of chaotic genetically-modified assassin, but even she wouldn’t be able to get past that
>So… you want to try something small
>Something that, if done right, may turn into something much bigger
>>
>>38787095
“The letter says you can fit through small spaces. There’s a vent downstairs, near the entrance to Phi Tunnel. It leads into Professor Neigh’s lab office. I can’t go anywhere near that place after last time, b-but you can. You’re like a… a ninja, right? Sneaky?”
>She nods
“Good. Okay, good. Tonight, I need you to go through that vent. Go in when nopony’s there, and inside the office, underneath the desk against the wall on the far side, there’s a small opening. It’s like a hidden drawer underneath the lowest drawer. Inside that opening, there’s a manila folder. I need you to flip that folder over. That’s all. Just flip it over, put it back where it was, then leave. Don’t change anything else in that office, and don’t trip any alarms. Got it?”
>She nods
>She’s surprisingly easy to talk to; you’ve always preferred good listeners over chatterboxes
>She still gives you the creeps, but it’s less of an “oh Celestia I’m dead” sort of creeps, and more of a “I really wish I could change out of this skin into a new one” sort
“Okay. So, do it tonight. When nopony’s around. Let me be responsible for replacing the security footage. Then come back here tomorrow at noon, and I’ll tell you what to do next. That’s it for now.”
>Wordlessly, the Mouthless Jester creeps backwards, crossing back through the doorway into the derelict tunnel
>The back end of her body rounds the corner and departs from view, and then…
>The visible part of her rises
>She’s walking on the wall outside, keeping her stare fixed firmly on you
>Then, as quickly as she entered this place without your knowledge, she blends into the darkness, gone
>You exhale all the air that’s been hiding in your lungs for the last ten minutes
>You… you need some sleep
>You already know you’ll be having nightmares about this encounter, but by morning, it won’t matter
>If this goes off without a hitch, you could be home free back in Mons Canteria before you know it!
>Still, you think as you fidget with your various equipment, there was one line of Neighsay’s letter that caught your attention more than any else
>”Pink will find you long before Black Bar does, if you elect to run.”
>He didn’t just send his bodyguard here to help you out; he sent her as an insurance policy, as a soft threat
>You don’t like being threatened, but you have no choice but to comply
>You’re caught in the narrows, and the only way through is forward
“Luck’s on my side… heh. Sure.”
>You collect the things that need collecting, wait until the coast is clear, then depart your little alcove, moving among the other workers as junior inquiry officer Shamrock, just another cog in the well-oiled machine of Site 23…

******

That's it. We're halfway done with the Interlude now. See you next thread!
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>>38787108
Nice. Thanks again Sol.
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>>38787108
Oh shit nigga, more ponk, and a few more scraps of info about the Laughing Guild! I'm genuinely very interested to see how she'll (presumably) end up in Nunlight's party.
Also 4chan pone's in a good position to dig up more juicy secrets from the Maker's Fist, so I hope we get to learn more soon. The gluon chain stuff honestly went over my head (and I had trouble finding more about it via google) but it was really interesting to me all the same.
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>>38787108
thanks
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>>38788662
man I love that flutterfly gif
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>>38788662
Looks like a heartbeat somehow.
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>>38790399
Yeah I can see what you'd think that when looking at it
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>>38791576
>Scootaloo chicken meme now transcends to dogs
Hm, okay.
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>>38792493
Ah yes. Back when Bloom didn't have a canon cutie mark. I remember the neat little what ifs from back then.
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>>38792801
Yeah that was a sun time.
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>Bump limit
Time to panic.
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New thread when?
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>>38793961
I'll create it in an hour or so.
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new
>>38794327

Sol, WiK pleade update your bins.



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