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08/21/20New boards added: /vrpg/, /vmg/, /vst/ and /vm/
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It's not going to explode this time, I promise!

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Thread Story List (outdated):

Stories from the last thread (#85):
TiM (My Idea of a Good Time)
>https://ponepaste.org/4160 https://ponepaste.org/4161
>End of the last update: >>39594374
The Swirling Menagerie (Solanon !yMoCK30TE2)
>https://ponepaste.org/4272 https://ponepaste.org/4285 https://ponepaste.org/4286 https://ponepaste.org/8537
>End of the last update: >>39637605
Voidborne (Writefag_Is_Kill !7TFBnF3qxo)
>End of the last update >>39576596
Preservation of Innocence (Wall-o-Text)
>End of the last update >>39709075
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 https://ponepaste.org/8319
>End of the last update: >>39665776

From older threads:
Testament (Castafae)
>End of the last update >>38987765
Oneshot, archeologist
Oneshot, roboluna
Oneshot, Bootleg Lyra drives
>>38632259 >>38661265
(Name unknown) (PC Engi)
Paste unavailable
Untitled (Anonymous)
Memory of the Empire (translation)
>End of the last update: >>37162643
Shape Your Home, Wasteland 'Survival' Game Side Story (Ponegreen)
>End of the last update: >>37865386
Untitled, Battletech/Mech (Alcatraz)
>No bin
>Start here >>37462428, end of the last update: >>37935782
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)
Anonymous, the Singing Golem (leg)
>https://ponepaste.org//328 https://ponepaste.org/606
>End of the last update: >>36338890
War Anon (DreamlessAnon)
>Starts here >>36514474
(H.E.R.O) Mission (SaltAnon)
>Starts here >>36361544

Obsolete thread:
#85 >>39523798
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Ah enjoy that new thread feel
Smells like victory.
Looking at that pic I just had a silly idea for a pony asking what their cutie mark is and the when being told it's pi responds with "That don't look like any pie i've seen"
i feel like kivaposting just because
Well she is a pretty cute robo-pony
I wonder if Sol will post both halves right away or wait a bit before posting the 2nd half.
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I know it's cute, but it still kinda fills me with existential dread. Like, imagine you create actual artificial intelligence in the shape of a pony and it turns out to be retarded. What do you do then?
I guess it kind of depends on it's exact level of intelligence but maybe keep it as a pet?
Better than the scrap yard, that's for sure.
Oh most definitely
Rape it to death and try again.
>Flying boats bigger than Ponyville
I can't think of anything that could be bigger than a village
Probably means zeppelins or something, as they were fucking MASSIVE.
i think the idea is there are planes that can carry all of the ponies that live in ponyville within the fuselage
That makes more sense
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Interesting way to connect those legs
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for booze, you want a round-bottom flask. like the drinking horns of old, you have to finish your beverage before setting it down.
It seems Twilight opted for the "as long as it can hold liquid" approach instead of just sticking to round bottom flasks.
Explosions ensue.
Don't worry she's a professional.
Tech save.
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God damnit Celestia, the mail mare's gonna be late
What is this unsettling construct?
Why unsettling? I think she's cute.
It has a design that makes it difficult to tell whether it is a full machine, a living pony in a costume, a corpse animated by cybernetics, or something else entirely.
Imagine explaining that delay.

"Sorry the mail's late. Princess Celestia was explaining particle physics and it would have been rude to leave."
So, for context: I may or may not have managed to nab myself a month long all-boards b& almost a month ago, and I only have 4 days left. But I didn't want to wait 4 days to post, since the second part of this "dual update" is nearly finished, and this first part has been done for quite a while. So I’m posting this in a Panera on a different laptop. Eat it, jannies!

Quick recap, since we haven't seen Lucky Clover in a little while:
>After learning that the Site 23 comms division might be tracing his encoded messages, Lucky elects to cut off all contact with the Chancellor until he can get him solid evidence of wrongdoing.
>The Chancellor sends Pink, his Mouthless Jester bodyguard, to Site 23 to assist Lucky in his investigations.
>When Senior Inquiry Officer Comet Tail's illness proves too serious to allow for a department head meeting with Minister Black Bar, Lucky goes in his place, and learns some pertinent information:
>One, that Site Director Caballeron is being transferred to another OI site, White Junction.
>Two, that Pink successfully infiltrated Professor Neigh's lab, and caused considerable paranoia among the Site's upper management, exactly as Lucky planned.
>Lucky is also treated by Black Bar to his first glimpse of the Omega Gate, a massive underground gateway constructed by the Makers and seemingly the only entrance to the most secretive part of Site 23: Omega Sector. He leaves determined to find a way in.

Hope that about covers it. Enjoy!

>”Everything. Everything could go wrong. That’s why we’re doing this, Sham. Don’t tell me that announcement didn’t spook you, too.”
>Comet Tail creaks as he walks and croaks as he talks; the telltale signs of recovering from a bad ailment
>There are dark rings around his eyes, but rather than making him look exhausted, they actually seem to sharpen his glance, make it more focused and severe
>You are Officer Shamrock, also (un)known as Lucky Clover, and today is the big day
>The day that determines whether you walk free, both from the shackles of prison and this hellhole in the desert
>It all hinges on the careful and fearless application of this plan, the one you’ve been drafting in your head for three days now
>And, though entertaining Comet with idle conversation while the two of you make your way through a Level 4 access tunnel may, on the surface, appear to be a small detail of that plan, every detail is crucial
>If Black Bar were here now, he’d probably say something like: ‘Remove any stone from an arch, not just the cornerstone, and the whole thing topples’
>Well, Black Bar, your edifice is about to be laid bare; whether the contents go toppling or not isn’t up to you, but at this point, it’s something you’d really like to see…
“That’s not the point, Comet. It’s the principle of the whole thing. I have documents up here that I NEED access to. Now, am I going to need them today? Probably not. Tomorrow, the next day, who knows? But I want them close to me so that when I DO need them, I have them. Not locked away in some sub-chamber deep underground where Celestia-knows how many rolls of red tape I’d have to navigate to get them back.”
>”You’ll eat those words if some Army inspector comes through and confiscates anything you leave out in the open. Your good graces with the Minister will run out then, I can tell you that.”
>You roll your eyes exaggeratedly; synchronized, the two of you file through a circular doorframe that separates the outer ring of the atrium from the long, gaping corridor that is Psi Tunnel
“There’s no ‘good graces.’ The Minister and I had a productive conversation.”
>”One he should have had with me. One where he gave you a tour of the Omega Gate? You, a Level 3?”
>You feign exasperation, flipping one of your hooves dismissively in Comet’s face
>If you know this stallion, and you think you know him, something like that will only make him more irate
>More suggestible…
“It was a field trip, Comet. Nothing to get worked up about. You were sick! It just happened to be me and not you, it’s not any deeper than that.”
>”Well, it should have been me. You know, I was the one who signed the documents confirming Black Bar’s transfer over here. I was the first to know about his arrival. Probably even before Caballeron!”
>That’s definitely not true; still, you nod along
>You’re approaching a stairwell you’ve only gotten to know recently, this whole section of the facility having been locked off to you a mere five days ago
>”I’m Chief Inquiry Officer. I keep an eye on everypony here. I make the rounds, I clean house. I do my job, y’know? And now it’s all out of my hooves.”
“Is that what you’re worried about? Your job? You’re not gonna get fired just because ponies don’t ‘respect’ you.”
>”Oh, yeah? Look what happened to Caballeron!”
>Before you can take the first descending step down the spiraling staircase, into the neon-tinted gloom below, Comet pulls you aside into an alcove between two steel buttresses
>”The whole situation is tense right now. Celestia, that idiot Professor Neigh gets spooked because he thinks somepony went through his files, that’s one thing. Now, obviously I have no earthly idea what’s in those papers, but if it’s worth raising a facility-wide security concern, then they shouldn’t have been up here in the upper labs at all, should they?”
“Guess not.”
>”Right. ‘Guess not.’ But Black Bar blames Caballeron, and voila! Sayonara, douchebag. He gets shipped to White Junction on some cleanup errand, no q’s asked. I mean, why else would he have sent him there?”
“There’s all kinds of reasons.”
>”Suuuure. And I’m a Maker. C’mon, Sham, the timing’s way too convenient. The whole paradigm’s shifting, and I’m being left out of the mix. What’d I tell you the other day? I told you that this Liberation Act would be taken as a threat. And here we all are, doing whatever we can to cover our asses.”
>Comet gestures to a pack of hard-hatted maintenance stallions, rolling a cart stacked three-high with large, black plastic crates down a ramp adjacent to the stairs
>The crates are labeled in thick white lettering with the names of various Site 23 staff: POCKET PROTECTOR, ATOM SMASH, PRICKLEPANTS
>Most of them contain the property of upper-division labcoats, like Neigh, but some belong to other staff, anypony who might have reason to want to protect their classified materials from watchful eyes
>Eyes like yours…
“Far as I know, the Army won’t do crap, as long as they don’t have probable cause to search. The Chancellor doesn’t have the power to just barge into places he doesn’t have clearance for, and I don’t think the Senatori would let him run a sting even if he did.”
“Whatever. You DID get your documents packed up, right?”
“I wouldn’t be going down to watch it go through the gate if I didn’t. My box is probably on the same cart as yours.”
>”Well, yeah. Yeah. Sorry, I’m just… nervous. It’s like… y’know, this place is like a fortress. Well, technically it IS a fortress. Or WAS. But everypony’s acting like the enemies are at the gates, or they’re already storming through. And I’m not usually one to be paranoid, but seeing this response just makes me more nervous.”
“It’s protocol, Comet. I’m sure it’s happened before.”
>Comet grimaces; it’s clear he prefers to be called ‘Mr. Tail,’ but the fact that he isn’t correcting you tells you that he’s not as insecure as he should be
>You ought to correct that before you get down to the Omega Gate…
>”Well, all I’ve got in my container is the occupational reports I’ve done on the senior staff, some checklists, a couple digital materials… I had to pad out the space with some of my clothes. Heh. I lost so much weight while I was sick, half my wardrobe doesn’t even fit me anymore, so it’s no big loss. Oh, and that thermal blanket I’ve been using. Don’t need it at the moment, I guess.”
“Did I tell you I got one of those too?”
>”No, you did?”
“You’ve been going on and on about it so much, I decided to ship one in myself. Comfortable. I didn’t pack mine away, though.”
>Comet turns to descend the stairwell; you follow close behind, listening closely for any hoofsteps sounding up from below
>When you’re sure that nopony’s nearby to hear, and once you’ve reached the middle landing, you nudge Comet, retrieving a small flat item from your vest pocket and passing it over to him
>”Uh… what’s this?”
“Yeah, sorry. Forgot I had it, kept meaning to give it back to you. It’s the Level 4 keycard that was copied over from yours. Management gave it to me so that I could pass the security perimeter down to Caballeron’s office on the day of the interview.”
>”Oh. Uh… nopony ever came to collect that?”
“Nope. Figured I’d just hand it off back to you, since it’s got your credentials on it and all. Might want to just tear it up. You’d think that with all the security concerns right now, they’d be more careful about this stuff.”
>”Guess they’ve got a lot on their plates.”
“Hay, uh, that reminds me.”
>Coming to the bottom of the staircase, you pass into a deeper, quieter part of the facility, an aging corridor with exposed red-rock walls and hazard-striped ramps that descend lower
>This is not the route that you took with Black Bar that day you first descended to see the entrance of Omega Sector, but over the last several days you’ve gotten to know it better
>In the far distance, the massive geothermal generators hum their somber one-note melody, but here, in this rarely used access tunnel, there are few unwanted ears to hear what you’re about to say
“During the initial material inspection, y’know, when the ponies from Omega Sector came up to snoop in our crates… how many of them actually looked inside?”
>”I wouldn’t know. I’m Senior Inquiry Officer, I basically just told them to piss off. I checked my own files a dozen times, don’t need anypony else doing it.”
“Right. Okay. Well, something odd happened when they were inspecting my box.”
>”What happened?”
>Another doorway, another corner, another humming hall leading down into shadow
“One of them, this bright blue stallion, waits until the other inspectors leave, then tells me he needs to do a ‘second look.’ Only he takes my box into another room, and he’s in there like fifteen minutes alone with it. When he finally comes back out, he’s sealed it up with tape, tells me he doesn’t want me opening it no matter what.”
>Even in the low light, you can see Comet’s eyebrow perking up
>”I haven’t heard about anypony else getting that kind of treatment. Might want to report it.”
“Consider this me reporting it. You’re Senior Inquiry Officer, right? Make an inquiry. I mean, I take Professor Neigh’s hysterics with a grain of salt, same as you, but you have to admit that if anypony has the capacity to be a spy around here, it’s the ponies who inspect all the rest of the ponies.”
>”Heh. You know that includes US, right?”
“I trust you. I don’t think you’re a spy.”
>Comet pretends to cough, avoids eye contact; he’s flustered, and even if he thinks he’s immune to flattery, his perception has just been colored
>If there’s one thing you learned from all the suckers you ever scammed out of their cash in your days as a black-hat, it’s that nopony wants to think badly of the pony who just complimented them to their face
>”Well, same to you, I guess. We have to stick together, us IOs. Not, uh, step on each other’s hooves.”
>Still jealous of how he thinks you and Black Bar hit it off, though; that’s good
>That’s absolutely perfect
>Just as your little conversation ends, before the awkward silence starts to set in, you round a corner and come to a junction, through which several carts stacked with labeled crates are passing
>Dozens of maintenance ponies chat amongst themselves as they slowly roll these carts in double file through a broad, open bay door
>Rows of red lights flash on, then off, then on again, signaling this noisy procession to pass into the bright place beyond that opening
>You and Comet Tail shuffle by, weaving between the carts until you come to the opposite side of the door; then, breathing softly, you step into the light
>And just like that, as your eyes adjust to the harsh floodlights casting from high above their stark shadows, you once again find yourself face to face with the terrible majesty of the Omega Gate
>The sight of this place is something you still haven’t gotten used to, even after your many trips down here over the last few days in the wake of your meeting with Black Bar, but this time the glittering horseshoe-shaped gate at the far end of this vast space looms particularly ominous
>The green spaces of the long checkered floor are luminous under the light, while the blacks appear as bottomless pits into some soundless void
>So too are the cavernous reaches of the open spaces to your left and right; some tiny part of your brain screams at the sight of them, telling you that if sideways were up or down, you’d fall forever into their shadowy clutches
>Such a labyrinth as Site 23 should only diminish in scope as its tendrils dig further and further into the earth, but somehow it manages to grow, to expand into immensities beyond reason
>The Makers built this place for one of two purposes: to keep something in, or to keep something out
>What chance does a pony stand?
>Today, however, the massive entrance hall to Omega Sector is not quite as isolating as it usually is; today, you’re joined by a sizeable company of marching maintenance ponies, forklift operators, eighteen wheelers carrying materials across the long path to the Gate
>Surrounding you are onlookers of all shapes and sizes, ponies with Level 4 clearance and above who have come down for the same purpose as you and Comet Tail: to watch as their crates are guided into the most secure part of the facility
>When you had Pink break into Professor Neigh’s lab in Phi Sector in the upper part of the facility, and flip over his file about the Substructure Material, it inspired just the right amount of paranoia in his little bird brain
>He did exactly what you expected him to do after your first foray into his lab, and went directly to Caballeron to complain about the possibility of an agent on the inside
>That would have been enough for you, even if Neighsay’s Liberation Act hadn’t given the Army the authority to inspect civilian sites with probable cause; but with both pieces in place, it gave Black Bar no choice but to do all this
>Every single piece of evidence from the upper levels that has any possible chance of incriminating anypony on-site is now flowing into Omega Sector, where the Canterian Army or spies can’t possibly touch them
>Ironically, this move alone would be grounds for some amount of investigation; too bad you can’t securely contact Neighsay anymore
>Into Omega Sector… everything that you see now is going INTO Omega Sector…
>Everything but you; you’ll probably never see the inside of that place with your naked eyes for as long as you live
>Comet Tail nudges you along, and soon you’re thrust out of the mass of scientists, engineers, and bureaucrats and into one of the many fenced-in pedestrian lanes that span the gap between here and the Gate
>The march across is at least three hundred meters, and every pace of that journey you feel more and more acutely aware of the weight of the atmosphere down here
>Mounted turrets with barrels as thick as your foreleg scan the whole zone, watching you with laser focus
>Anything that tried stepping off the beaten path, anything that moved in the dark or tried to go through the Gate ahead of you without authorization, would be ripped to shreds in an instant by those things
>The air is charged with anticipation and uncertainty; mixed with the humor that this is all for nothing, that this worry is artificial and will blow over soon, is the silent but very real fear that danger is fast approaching
>There are guns everywhere, eyes everywhere, information everywhere
>After what feels like an hour, you and your senior officer finally arrive at the ramp leading up to the glowing monolith that is the Omega Gate
>You check your watch: 3:18 PM
>The cart containing yours and Comet Tail’s crates was scheduled to be inspected at the gate at 3:25
>You survey the long procession of sullen ponies pushing their carts across the checkered floor, wondering which among them carries yours
>Gotta be that one… or maybe it’s that one…
>They’re all identical, after all, so you’ll just have to watch and wait, hoping you can spot your name across the lane
>Up on this plateau that overlooks the rest of the vast chamber, and almost directly beneath the white arch of the Gate, a line of multi-tiered security checkpoints separate you from the darkened abyss beyond the inner door
>Inspectors are taking the carts from the maintenance ponies, offloading the crates one at a time onto thick belts, a bit larger than the type you’d find at an air terminal, which carry them through a number of intrusive sensors
>A millimeter radiation scanner, followed by a thermal imaging scanner, and then a final manual inspection by two high-level officers
>Pointedly, the officers don’t seem to be checking every single crate, only one of every five or so
>The security of what’s going in doesn’t matter nearly as much now, as long as it gets there
>”You believe all this? What, do they think somepony’s gonna try to sneak a bomb in there?”
“You can never be too safe, I guess.”
>Comet Tail shuffles nervously, scanning the line of workers for the same cart that you’ve been looking for
>Check your watch again… 3:21
>Even though there are four lines of checkpoints for the materials to filter through, only the leftmost one is being used for the personal crates; the rest are taking in truckloads of packets containing site-wide equipment that belongs to nopony in particular
>Something that looks like two enormous electrical coils bundled together is passing through the far terminal… wonder what that’s for?
>Not important; what matters is this one, your crate, your valuables…
>”Hay, did you see that picture in the email I sent you? The one with the cat walking around all funny and hitting its head on stuff?”
“Yep. Hilarious.”
>”You don’t have much of a sense of humor, do you Sham?”
>You flash Comet a tense smile, never taking your eyes off the procession of carts, the movement of…
>You see it, replete with the red hazard tape still loosely covering it: your crate, containing all the things you wanted taken into Omega Sector
>And right next to it is the one belonging to Comet Tail, pristine and perfectly cube-shaped
>You begin to sweat a little under your collar, down your spine; this has to work, NEEDS to work
>”Hay, uh, isn’t that…?”
“Yep. Let’s get a closer look.”
>Comet flashes his Inquiry badge to the nearest security guard, and together you inch closer to the booth where an operator is performing the millimeter scans
>He begins to idly (and one-sidedly) chat with her, while you watch in silence as your crate is removed from the cart first, placed on the belt, carried through the open slot of the scanner
>Your gaze shifts nervously to the operator, who appears to be watching the screen; there’s no change in her expression at all
>Then, twenty seconds after it entered, your crate exits the scanner from the other side and moves on to the thermal booth further down the line
>Comet’s crate follows close behind yours, and you suppress a groan as Comet loudly comments to the operator about how all his files are in order, like such a thing would impress her
>Another twenty seconds, and the light turns green, and the crate passes on, and your nerves light on fire
>You need to act fast, act now, before it’s—
>You tap Comet’s shoulder just as an alarm blares from the thermal scanner, and at once his attention is scattered between it and you
>He’s confused, disoriented, because the crate that’s tripping the alarm…
>It’s your crate
>”What? Wait, what could—”
“C’mon, I need to see what’s going on here.”
>”Yeah, sure.”
>Comet turns back to the millimeter operator, flashing his badge again
>”Inquiries. Sorry, uh, I need to go see what that’s all about.”
>”No Level 4s admitted beyond this point. Sorry, sir.”
>”It’s just that—”
>”I’m sorry, it’s protocol. I’m not allowed back there either.”
>You gently shove Comet aside, and flash the operator a half-sympathetic, half-edged look
“We won’t set hoof past the red line, we promise. I just want to see what’s going on with my crate over there. That okay?”
>The operator shifts around in her seat, but ultimately waves you on, and together you and Comet step over the divider and trot the distance between the two scanners
>”How’d you do that, just now? You must be popular with the mares wherever you’re from.”
“Wouldn’t say that. Sometimes, you just have to know how to bluff.”
>When you reach the thermal booth, you find that the inspectors are already unloading your crate from the belt to pry it open
>Out from inside his position at the controls of the booth steps the thermal operator, and…
>Yes, you were right!
>Before Comet can approach the blue stallion and ask him what tripped the alarm, you block him with your foreleg and pull him into a whispering huddle
“That’s him.”
>”Who? What are you talking about?”
“The operator. That’s the stallion I was telling you about. The one who stayed behind to ‘inspect’ my crate a little more.”
>”Him? The scanner guy?”
“Who else? This is a real big coincidence, eh?”
>”Or not. Or, or not. Yeah. This is getting… alright. That’s not gonna stand. I’m gonna go talk to him.”
“Wait. Don’t you get it? He’s setting me up for something. He’s, like… oh, shit. Oh no. You don’t think he’s…?”
>”No. No way.”
“I mean, it’d make sense, right? Somepony on the inside. Somepony who gets to rifle through everything that everypony considers secure information. He could’ve… I mean, this is purely speculation, y’know, the paranoia talking, but…”
>”Nah. Not paranoia. Basic reasoning skills. Let’s just…”
>Comet’s face scrunches up, but in his eyes there’s a nervous sort of resolve that only comes from a need to prove oneself to others
>”Let’s just play it cool. Follow my lead. If he tried to plant something in there, o-or set you up somehow, we’ll get to the bottom of it.”
>Fidgeting with his horn and mane, Comet steps loudly across the hard concrete floor towards the inspector, who together with the others is at work removing the tape from the outside of your crate
>At the cusp of the crate, he gathers himself up into a taller posture and addresses the blue stallion in a clear, imposing voice
>”Ahem. Inspector. What exactly is the meaning of this?”
>The stallion ignores Comet at first, continuing to assist in removing the outer layer of the crate, but Comet relents, thrusting his badge under the former’s muzzle
>”I’m not going to ask you again. Senior Inquiry Officer, Level 4 clearance.”
>”Eh? Sir, there was an abnormal heat signature inside this crate. We need to run a manual inspection on its contents.”
>”This crate happens to belong to my subordinate over there.”
>”Well, then I hope for his sake that he didn’t try smuggling anything unsafe into Omega Sector.”
>Frowning, Comet turns away for a second, clearly struggling inside with what to do
>Come on, now… use some of that authority you’re so desperate to hold on to
>He looks at you, and you step forward, grimacing back at him
>Time for the killing blow…
“You need me to handle this, Comet?”
>After those words, the look in your senior officer’s eyes is unmistakable; the idea of you being able to resolve another situation that he can’t is causing his blood to boil
>It’s not hard to guess what’s going through his head right now: visions of you and Black Bar chumming it up, maybe a promotion on the horizon
>A promotion to do his job…
>With one hoof, Comet shoos you away, and you respectfully back up and let him work his wonders
>”Inspector. I’m going to need your name and ID number.”
>The blue stallion scoffs, just as the other inspectors unlock the top of your crate with a click
>”What? Respectfully, on what grounds, sir? I’m just doing my job here.”
>”Were you ‘doing your job’ when you deliberately singled out my subordinate here? When you spent extra time doing Celestia-knows-what with his crate?”
>”That’s… huh? I never even—”
>”Name and ID. Don’t make me call upstairs.”
>The operator sighs; the others are lifting up the top, exposing the contents of your crate for everypony to see
>”Sunny Skies. ID number 94801. Look, there’s got to be some kind of misunderstanding here. I didn’t touch your friend’s crate. I wasn’t even on his inspection crew when we were making the rounds.”
>”Well, kid, it’s your word against his. I’m not blaming anypony specifically, but you need to watch yourself, or you might end up getting reported.”
>”Y-yes, sir.”
>Suddenly, one of the other inspectors yanks a small object out of your crate and presents it to the others
>It’s orange, wedge-shaped, and somewhat fuzzy in appearance
>”Found the issue. Looks like some kind of heated blanket? Millimeter scanner must have excited the battery.”
>You exchange a knowing glance with Comet
>”You told me you didn’t pack yours away, Sham.”
“I didn’t. I’m absolutely sure of it. But it was in the room when he took my crate away.”
>Sunny Skies, an expression of shock forming on his face, turns exasperated towards an unamused Comet
>”I wasn’t even there! Wh-whatever happened with this dumb thing, I had nothing—”
>”That’s enough, Inspector. You’re dismissed.”
>”Dismissed? What do you mean, dismissed?”
>Comet lunges at the stallion, coming very close to touching him as he stares meanly into his fidgety eyes
>”I mean, get out of our sight or I’ll march you up to the Intelligence Minister personally. I’m Section Head, and I want you out of here, now! I’ll review your case later, I want my damn crate moved through that Gate already. One of you, fill in for him. And try not to piss me off the way he just did.”
>Sunny Skies opens his mouth, then closes it dejectedly; he steps into the scanner booth to grab his lunch pail, then walks away in a huff back to the other side of the chamber
>Another inspector, equally nervous-looking, takes his spot inside the booth; the others finish checking every cubic inch of your crate, then seal it up and place it back on the belt leading through the Omega Gate
>The laser-guided focus of the automated turrets follow its movement as it passes swiftly into the shadowy reach of that forbidden place
“Thanks for backing me up, there. Dunno how to repay you, Comet.”
>”If it’s all the same to you, Sham, I really do prefer Mr. Tail.”
“Sorry. Mr. Tail. Thanks.”
>”Don’t mention it. Us Inquiry ponies, we gotta stick together, don’t we?”
>You nod, watching Comet’s crate pass into the boxy confines of the thermal scanning unit
>A red light flickers as soon as the scanner turns on, but the operator hesitates to press the button that would sound the alarm and signal another inspection
>Instead, she sheepishly looks to Comet Tail, the Senior Inquiry Officer, for his approval; Comet frowns darkly, apparently now at his wit’s end
>This time, he personally steps into the booth to look at the thermal imaging screen, and you step back a bit to get a better view of it as well
>It’s hard to see from here, but it looks like there’s a long, flat red shape coiled around other formless blobs in the bottom part of the crate
>”Sir, your crate… um… there also appears to be an anomalous… thing.”
>”That’s where all my clothes are stuffed. You’re telling me… ah. Okay. Yep, I see what happened here. I have a heated blanket too, just like his. Had it shipped here for a cold. The millimeter scanner must have done the same thing to it.”
>”Oh. Um… I suppose I can see that. It’s… faint? But sir, we should still… um…”
>Comet’s prolonged stare is all it takes for the operator’s voice to trail off into nothing
>She gulps, clearly not wanting to incur the same wrath as Sunny Skies
>Her hoof hovers over the alarm button, shaking, and then…
>With her other hoof, she activates the conveyor belt, and Comet Tail’s crate rolls on into the dark, same as yours
>It’s going, going, going…
>Comet watches it intently, almost as intently as you; then, he gives a satisfactory nod to the paralyzed operator, steps down from the booth, and rejoins you at the far end of the platform
>”You believe that? After all that… Celestia. If she’d have sounded that alarm, had them search MY stuff, after they just did yours… some days, I just don’t know how to deal with these ponies. Ridiculous.”
“It’s a living.”
>”I mean, am I harsh sometimes? Yeah. But I’m fair! I’m just doing what needs to be done. And I don’t let anypony push me around or try to pull a fast one on me. That crap doesn’t fly, no sirree. And another thing…”
>As Comet chatters on, you can’t help but crane your neck backwards, trying to see if you can make out the vague shapes that move in the dark inside Omega Sector
>There’s some kind of curtain or wall across the entire inner gate, such that nothing of the interior can be seen from the outside
>If you could just know, be certain, then everything…
>You thought this would be the part where the sweating and the fretting stopped, but it’s worse now, and it’s taking everything you have not to collapse in a pile of anxiety
>But your mental checklist just saw one more crucial task marked off, and now…
>Now the edifice comes crashing down
>”You still listening, Sham?”
“I’m listening, Mr. Tail.”
>You can do nothing now but saunter back the way you came, across the strobing checkerboard, away from the alien glow of the Gate, back towards the stairs that will take you eventually into the light of afternoon
>You’ve never wanted to feel the sun on your coat more than this moment
>”But yeah. Those were some moves you had.”
“Moves, sir?”
>”That you made on that first inspector. I mean, we kinda sorta didn’t have the authority to go back there, and she blew me right off. But you dropped a line on her, and she let you pass. How about that!”
“You’re telling me? You’re the one who wrangled those other jagoffs. The credit goes to you for saving my ass.”
>”Nah. Seriously, Sham. I mean, what I did was just plain intimidation, when you get down to it. But you had something else going on. It wasn’t flirtation, it wasn’t pity. Something got you past that mare. Wish I knew what it was.”
>Despite all your nerves, you allow yourself a single self-assured smirk
“I don’t think it’s anything special. You just have to know how to read people. Have to know how they’re going to react. When you know what you’re doing, you can get just about anywhere.”


>The plexiglass doors slide open soundlessly, the access panel flashing green
>The tiny black digits scrolling across it read “ACCESS GRANTED: WELCOME, OFFICER COMET TAIL”
>You slide the Level 4 card gingerly back into your vest pocket, and step into the dark office beyond
>You are Lucky Clover, and tomorrow is the big day
>Tomorrow, the maintenance ponies will come up to collect the last of the storage crates containing all the materials deemed too sensitive to remain on the upper levels of Site 23
>They’ll be post-processed at Omega Gate with millimeter and thermal scanning technology, and transported into a temporary storage facility inside Omega Sector
>The place where it’s all happening, the place that Chancellor Neighsay wants the most to see inside
>Supercomputers, something called Dream, alpha waves, the Material, they’re all down there…
>And if you can get something down there, even just a camera, without anypony knowing, you could capture it all, transmit one last data file back to Neighsay and await your swift transfer out of here
>For days, you’ve been preparing for this moment both mentally and physically
>You’ve made visits down to the Omega Gate every few hours, going unnoticed among the crowds of Level 4s milling about
>You’ve taken detailed notes on the entire process, from start to finish; the way the crates are transported, the specs of the scanners, what types of materials are flagged, what sets off the alarms, under what circumstances the crates are searched
>You’ve determined that the millimeter scanners are basically crap; the image they provide is shoddy, and anything darker than a black pen shows up as negative space
>What you’ve got is much darker than that, so it won’t be a problem; in fact, it’s going to help you
>No, the real issue here is the thermal scanner; no matter what you do, you can’t mask a heat signature one hundred percent
>There’s always going to be some residual heat emanating from a live body, even if it’s covered up by thick clothing
>And you WILL be getting a live body through that Gate; just not yours
“Looks safe. He’s out for the night. Come in and shut the door behind you.”
>The door seemed silent when you were out in the hall, amid the evening hustle; in here, echoing off the plain white walls of Chief Inquiry Officer Comet Tail’s office, it’s actually quite noisy
>Which makes it all the more unnerving that you can’t hear her hoofsteps behind you
>You turn around, and she’s barely there; like the phantom images of monsters you think you see looming over your bed at night, it takes a few seconds for her to really come into focus
>A black shadow crisscrossed by pale stitches and arrows, a dark harlequin of the Laughing Guild
>A Mouthless Jester, here to do your dirty work
>Nopony knows she’s here, except for you and the Chancellor
>Nopony could ever suspect the trick you’re about to pull, and nopony would believe it if you told them
>Per instruction, the shadow called Pink moves swiftly and soundlessly to the back of the room, where stashed behind Comet’s overstuffed desk is a sealed black crate labeled with his name
>It’s less than a meter across each way, but you don’t expect that Pink will have any trouble fitting inside
>The Chancellor’s letter said something about chaos magic, and that she can fit into spaces no more than a few centimeters wide
>You’re going to put that to the test
>As you watch, petrified with both fear and awe, Pink stretches out one slender forehoof, and from the tip extends a long sharp knife that shines even in the dark
>Then, in a movement almost too fast to perceive, she slashes it across the crate’s seam, neatly severing the lock that kept the lid pressed tight against the top
>You take a few cautious steps forward, feeling a kind of sickly shiver pass over your whole body as you come within a few meters of her
>It’s as though, in the deepest primitive recess of your mind, you understand that she could kill you in a millisecond at this range, if she wished
>She hasn’t done it yet, though; in all the time she’s spent holed up in your hidden alcove in Theta Tunnel over the last several days, she’s never even tried to touch you
>Much less speak to you, if she’s even capable of it…
>All she does is listen, and you know that she’s listening; you know she understands every word you say, even when she shows no outward sign of it
>Sometimes she’ll give the slightest of nods, sometimes her ears will perk, and sometimes the little tuft of mane that pokes out of the ripped seam on her scalp will stand on end, in response to something you’ve said
>But all the ways you’ve learned to read ponies in your years as a street hustler in the Undermaw are worthless on her
>Her eyes, her muzzle, her lips, all of these are forever hidden behind a midnight-black mask that displays no emotion at all
>In short, she’s not much of a conversational partner, but you never needed one of those anyway
>Pink lifts the lid of the crate wide open, exposing its contents: mostly papers organized neatly into colored folders stacked on top of each other, but there’s a whole section dedicated to folded clothes
>You dig down deep into the vests and jackets to find what you’re looking for: a long fuzzy sheet, folded over itself and tied together with a thick electrical cord
>It’s the thermal blanket Comet’s always going on about, the one he claims has worked miracles on this endless damn cold he’s been fighting for the last three weeks
>You tug it out of the pile of clothes and set it aside; Pink springs up and over the edge of the crate, settling herself neatly into the space created by the blanket’s absence
>There’s enough room in there for her to curl up somewhat comfortably, or at least you hope that’s the case
>In that position, surrounded by soft clothes that contrast harshly with the black latex of her bodysuit, she looks almost… peaceful?
“Uh… so… do you eat? Sorry, dumb question. But… I brought along some snacks. Here.”
>You fumble with unzipping your lower pocket and pull out a few packages of saltine crackers, but when you extend them towards her, she recoils and shakes her head violently from side to side
“N-not a big fan of salty foods, h-huh? Well, uh… what about these?”
>Replacing the crackers into your pocket, you instead pull out a few individually wrapped blueberry muffins from the cafeteria
>Expecting the same sort of response, you’re surprised when one of her dark hooves shoots out to snatch them out of your grasp
>So, she’s a sweet tooth…
>You sigh long and loud, not wanting to do what you’re about to do, even to somepony as inequine as Pink
>But you have no choice, and she seems alright with it…
“Make sure you ration those. You’re going to be in this crate for a while. I’m sorry, but we had a really limited window to get you in here. Station lockdown comes into effect in fifteen minutes, and I just know that Comet’s not gonna take his eyes off this crate until the hardhats come to take it tomorrow afternoon.”
>Pink nods, shuffling around a bit in her new home, as if to make it more comfortable
“Okay. Now, let’s just test this again. Pink, go blanket mode.”
>At a moment’s notice, you see again the move the two of you have been practicing all day today
>With whatever strange power the Laughing Guild granted her in her long service to them, Pink manages to contort and stretch her entire body, like that of a cartoon character, until it’s nearly as flat and wide as the blanket lying next to you
>It isn’t a perfect match, but it’s good enough to fool the operator of a thermal scanner; or, more importantly, good enough to fool Comet Tail
>It’s times like these you’re grateful Pink is wearing that full-body suit; if you had to see what she looked like all flattened like that without it, you’d probably live with that memory forever
>A few minutes go by, and Pink’s body begins to tremble; shortly after, she decompresses, returning to her natural form
>She can only hold these bizarre shapes for so long without straining herself
“Right, so that’s your limit. Then this is important.”
>You toss Pink the spare digital watch you swiped out of Crescent Moon’s desk the other day, its bright yellow face lighting up the interior of the crate
“Around 3:25 PM tomorrow, you’re going to hear an alarm go off. Maybe a little before or after, but around then. When that happens, you wait another forty-five seconds or so, and then you go blanket mode. And you stay that way for as long as you possibly can. You got it?”
>Another tiny nod
“Great. Thermal scanner’s going to pick up your heat signature. But as long as you look vaguely like this blanket, nopony’s going to try to look inside this crate. I think that’s everything. Oh, crap, almost forgot.”
>One last reach into your pocket, and you gently hand your one-and-only microfilm camera pen into Pink’s possession
>She’ll need it far more than you, now that the only things you’re interested in photographing are inside that place
“You click the top to take a picture. Aperture is in the point. Once you’re in, you know what to do. Get as many pictures of as much stuff as you possibly can before you go back to storage. I wish I could help you more, but I’m as clueless about what’s inside Omega Sector as you are.”
>Pink gathers up both the watch and the camera, stuffing them into some invisible fold in her suit
>The muffins she leaves scattered around her, presumably for later consumption
>Despite the terrifying aura she gives off, at the end of the day Pink is the only real ally you have in this Celestia-forsaken pit in the desert
>You manage a slight smile, and you imagine that underneath that dark, expressionless cowl, she’s giving you one back
“We’re both gonna make the Chancellor proud. And I promise I’ll get you out of there.”
>Nothing more needs to be said; you reach across to the lid of the crate and pull it shut, leaving Pink in total darkness
>You reseal the containment lock, furl the thermal blanket up, and step swiftly back out of the office with it in tow
>When you return to your crate, you’re going to stuff this blanket down into it, then seal it up with a roll of red inspection tape
>The most important piece of information you’ve learned from your observation of the Omega Gate over the last few days is this: the shifts are remarkably consistent
>Every day at 2:45 PM, the blue unicorn named Sunny Skies takes up his post at the thermal scanner, and doesn’t get off until 5:45
>That means that he’ll be manning it at 3:25, the time scheduled for Comet’s crate and yours to pass through
>All you have to do now is invent a story to tell to Comet involving this Sunny Skies, anything to get him dismissed off of the scanner after inspecting yours and finding Comet’s blanket inside
>His replacement will be too afraid of invoking Comet’s wrath to check inside your boss’ crate, and it’ll pass through the gate completely unmolested
>And the best part?
>Even if everything goes south, even if this whole ridiculous plan collapses around you, it won’t even matter
>Because Comet Tail, not you, will be implicated every single step of the way
>He’ll be the one who arouses suspicions, if there are any suspicions to be had; it’ll be his temper tantrum, his anomalous crate that goes unchecked, his access card signature that’s been used every time you visited the Gate
>Your pissant of a boss will get fried if you fail, and for your part, all you have to do is feed the fire of his temper
>Play up your meeting with Black Bar, make him feel insecure about his authority, do whatever it takes to make him take his jealousy and rage and ego out on those inspectors
>Tomorrow, the edifice comes crashing down
>Tomorrow, you put everything on the line
>As you make your way back to Theta Tunnel, crossing one of the many suspended catwalks that zigzag over the sunlit atrium of Site 23, you unconsciously reach for your flank
>You rub the clovers of your cutie mark with the tip of your hoof, then bring the same hoof to your lips and kiss it
>It’s the gesture you made when you were young, right before every street con you ever ran
>It’s a sign of fortune, a little luck to get you this far
>With just a little luck, this will be foolproof…


And done. Is it obvious that I rewatched the Oceans trilogy right before starting this chapter? I really wanted to do the whole "see the plan unfold before it's revealed how it's done" thing, and I hope I executed it decently well. Some of you probably figured out what was going on before it was revealed, in which case: great! I want my mysteries to be easy to solve so long as you're paying attention.
Expect the next chapter in 4 or 5 days or so. It'll probably be finished before my, uh, "vacation" expires, but I really don't want to have to do this again. Cheers!
yay green thanks
>Expect the next chapter in 4 or 5 days or so
Oh I'm looking forward to it.
Tech up.
These glasses look adorable on Celly.
Yeah and plus the tie which I think helps complete the look,
why is the transistor mare messing around with vacuum tubes?
Just started reading Red Shift and wow. I can't stop reading.
Guess she could just be curious about the history of electronics and wants to get some hooves on experience
Javascript? Is that what you call a writer's work at starbuck?
Wow, long legged Walker Rares with 'limb enhancers' a QT!
I mean Rarity is normally a cutie anyways
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Tech backup.
That pic looks like it could be in a story book
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I know this isn't the /MLPSWG/ but seeing as it's dead I'll put this here.

>What if Kamino was originally a waifu factory and they made Pone Troopers instead of Clone Troopers due to precedent and a spelling error?
And Further
>Would they all be Pinkie Clones or would they be various Mares?
>Would different regiments be made of different ponies?
>ie 501st is all Rainbow Dash, 212th is all Applejack.
>would Alicorns be arc troopers?
>If they're all Ponk clones would the bad batch be the pie sisters?
I think they might go for a bit more variety with pone troopers. At the very least they would have seperate mares they're cloning for earth, pegasus, unicorn, and maybe alicorn.
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>I think they might go for a bit more variety with pone troopers. At the very least they would have seperate mares they're cloning for earth, pegasus, unicorn, and maybe alicorn.

That would actually be smart. In that case I'm thinking.
>RD for aerial missions
>Yellowquiet medical officers
>Ponk commandos
>Aj infantry
>Rarity precision

If you add Alicorns that means you'd have shit like force trooper variants which'd take the role of legends Arc Troopers. Also order 69 instead of 66, death by snu snu.
>Also order 69 instead of 66, death by snu snu.
Good ponies follow orders
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The great and powerful blue screen!
Hey nice error code
What does it stand for?
Tech save. Always remember to make incremaretal backups.
It means the artists was having a bit of fun when they wrote "Error Code: 0x42069?"
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Do you think she's be insulted if you tell her that you have a bug to report?
At the very least I think she'll be unamused.
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That's putting it mildly.
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what a glorious view
>"Excuse me, Chryssie, I didn't mean to bug you."
You better bug off before Chrysalis decides to end you.
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The animated version of this is nice
That's some impressive AI & editing work
It certainly helps when the original pic is so fine.
>Factorio, but its Equestria and the changelings are the insect monsters
>you build bakeries and pastry shops instead of factories
Well why not.

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