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Manos the hands of fate (part II)

HumanSuperiority Oct 7th, 2015 (edited) 3,879 Never
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  1. >you are Honor Bound
  2. >its been a few hours but you finally have the.. 'cargo' unloaded.
  3. >the unhatched queen still inside her egg
  4. "get that egg stored and guarded. Manos will want to inspect it when its close to hatching"
  5. >you look back to the group you assigned to work on Manos' project
  6. "how long will it take to manufacture?"
  7. >they scientists jump at your sudden interruption
  8. >"uh.. Lord manos' designs are.. difficult to replicate, but with a few changes the machines.. might work?"
  9. >you huff and walk up to them
  10. "i didnt ask if they will work.. i didnt ask your thoughts.. i asked how long"
  11. >the scientists look to one another and hurriedly come up with a estimate
  12. >"uh.. if given the proper parts, we could have a... 'early model' out in a few days.. but we dont know how well it will work"
  13. >thats more like it.
  14. "then i suggest you hurry. make use of any working factories we have.. if none are available then we shall have to downgrade to workshops and so on. but get me a working one soon."
  15. >they nod their heads
  16. >"yes Sir Honor. we will hurry"
  17. "good. manos guide you."
  18.  
  19. >you are Lord Manos
  20. >and you are walking back to the Crystal kingdom
  21. "i never heard what happened to Bonbon from that messenger..."
  22. >no matter
  23. >Blackout will be along soon with news.
  24. "those scientists should be in the crystal kingdom by now... i should make sure they get to work on my project soon. i might need it sooner than later."
  25. >you shiver slightly
  26. >damn its cold out here
  27. "i suppose this is what i get for being a nice guy..."
  28. >she better appreciate that jacket.
  29.  
  30. >you are a queen
  31. >you have been waiting to hatch for a long time
  32. >you gain consciousness about half way through the cycle
  33. >you will hatch into a fully grown and able queen soon
  34. >you can hear cries and screams from your brothers and sisters of your brood
  35. >let them scream..
  36. >their cries will fall on deaf ears.
  37. >no changeling horde will be as strong as the ponies are now
  38. >there's only two options when faced with extinction
  39. >adaptation
  40. >or integration
  41. "i dont see why i cant do both.."
  42. >you smile inside your increasingly uncomfortable egg sack
  43. >the ponies here seem to want you to wait for someone to see you
  44. >it would be best to try and wait for him
  45. "manos wasnt it?..."
  46.  
  47. >you are Manos
  48. >finally you have arrived to the gates
  49. "open up! and get me a damn coat!"
  50. >you wave your arm to the guards to get their attention
  51. >soon the gates are opening and a black hand rushes out with his coat
  52. >"here lord take mine.. i know its small but it will have to do until we get one of yours"
  53. >you do your best to have the coat cover as much of you as you can
  54. "thank you. has honor bound and the research team arrived yet?"
  55. >"yes lord. they have unloaded and have received their first orders as well as a.. 'shipment' of crystals from sombra."
  56. >ill be damned..
  57. >sombra actually took it upon himself to made good on his bargain
  58. >>"lord manos! come quick! your... pet... is hatching!"
  59. >my pet?...
  60. >oh that queen copper hid from me
  61. "Coppers pet.. not mine. take me there now."
  62. >>"yes lord follow me!"
  63. >you take off in the direction of the new research lab
  64. >the new research lab is now inside its own building
  65. >large crystal walls surround the area allowing no one on ground level or in adjacent buildings to see inside
  66. >guards walk along the walls while some are stationary
  67. >all of them looking inside at this moment.
  68. "it must be starting if it has everyone's attention like this.."
  69. >you rush inside
  70. >the guards let you by without slowing you down
  71. "honor bound. whats the status on this... bug."
  72. >Honor is next to the moving egg sack
  73. >he turns and gives you a seig heil
  74. >"its hatching lord manos you have arrived just in time!"
  75. >a familiar voice comes from behind you
  76. >"whats hatching manos?"
  77. >you look over your shoulder and see Cadence along with Emerald and Sapphire Shine
  78. >all of them in full uniform and very 'uneasy'
  79. >"IS THAT A BUCKING CHANGELING EGG?!"
  80. "yes. you can thank our friend copper for it..."
  81. >you look back to the egg as it begins to move about violently
  82. >parts of it burst open letting ichor and goo seep out
  83. >the smell is awful
  84. >you cover your face with the jacket that your Black hand gave you
  85. >you hear cadence shout from behind you
  86. >"UGH what disgusting creatures! if this is how they are born then they are worse than i thought!"
  87. >you remain silent as the queens birth takes place in front of you
  88.  
  89. >you are a queen
  90. >and you cant stay inside this birth sack any longer
  91. >you bite and kick at the walls poking holes and spilling the now unnecessary bio matter out
  92. >you flex your wings desperately trying to get out
  93. >your hoof breaks through a hole in the sack and you can feel wind on your fresh carapace
  94. >you pull and rip the rest of the outer layer of sack off of you
  95. >and for the first time in your life
  96. >you breathe real air..
  97. >you smell real smells..
  98. >and you open your eyes to see your first sights in this world.
  99. >you flex your wings again
  100. >you can feel how long they are without looking
  101. >air flows in and out of your leg holes
  102. >the first thing you see when you open your eyes is a tall figure.
  103. >surrounding him are a number of ponies..
  104. >is this the creature 'manos?'
  105. >you vision is still blurry but you can make out general shapes and outlines
  106. >the tall creature approaches you
  107. >the others follow suit
  108. >you hear a feminine voice
  109. >"manos.. kill that damn creature. its an affront to all ponies!"
  110. >the creature extends a claw outward silencing the larger pony
  111. >>"it dies only if I say it dies.."
  112. >"you cant be serious manos... are you considering letting it live?"
  113. >the tall figure seems to look back to the pony.
  114. >he must be this 'manos'
  115. >"we can barely control the damn parasites! if we can make use of a queens hive mind then it wil make things much easier."
  116. >you hear a audible huff
  117. >you vision becomes more clear
  118. >the creature turns back to you
  119. >slowly the face becomes clear
  120. >look at those eyes..
  121.  
  122. >you are manos
  123. >you are mere inches away from the 'newborn' queen
  124. >you are looking her in the eyes.
  125. >you dont expect to learn much
  126. >but looking inside her head as soon as possible could give you insight
  127. >you focus on her eyes
  128. >and soon you are seeing and hearing all of her memories
  129. >you hear copper and scientists experimenting
  130. >you hear copper talking to the queen while its still in the egg
  131. >"you are a beautiful creature.. imagine the possibilities and uses you have.."
  132. >you can hear the queens 'voice'
  133. >>"uses?"
  134. >copper doesnt seem to hear it however
  135. >he continues to examine the egg
  136. >"oh.. you could answer so many questions i have! ahaha! can you control changelings? what about evolution? oh the experiments!"
  137. >"yes i can... to both.. and what experiments? what is my purpose?"
  138. >you come back to the world again
  139. >a smile on your face..
  140. "so.. purpose is what you seek.. then you shall have it."
  141. >you take your hand and brush some of the strands of her green membrane mane off of her face
  142. >you motion to a black hand to come over
  143. >you snap your fingers and point to the jacket on the ground
  144. >he takes it in his hoof and hands it to you
  145. >you wipe the goo off of the queen with it
  146. >then whatever goo that got on your hands or face
  147. "thank you kindly."
  148. >you toss it back to him
  149. >he looks confused, not knowing what to do with it now
  150. >you look back to the creature and examine it
  151. >the 'mane' is the same green as chrysalis' was
  152. >perhaps its how they distinguish hives?
  153. >or is it just happenstance?
  154. "do you have a name.. or shall i give you one?"
  155. >Cadence walks up to your side
  156. >"ill give it a name. how about disgusting."
  157. >you see her spit at the changelings hooves
  158. >"all of you are. why should this one be different?"
  159. >you cant help but laugh at the pony
  160. "never change cadence.."
  161. >you gently lift her chin up then look to the queen again
  162. "you really cant think of anything that a QUEEN might be useful for?"
  163. >"no.. and if you'll excuse me.. i have parasites to kill.."
  164. >Cadence looks to the bug and smirks
  165. >"i love killing changelings.. i think it might be my real talent"
  166. >she then walks off out of the laboratory grounds
  167. "honestly that went much better than i thought."
  168. >you stand up and wipe your hands clean again on your undershirt
  169. "honor. get my scientists studying her as soon as they are able. nothing to cause to much stress or harm she must be in a reasonably perfect condition when i see her next. i have many ideas for her... oh! and find a name for her will you?"
  170. >you turn and begin to walk off
  171. >you hear Honors hooves click as he gives you a sieg heil
  172. >"HEIL MANOS it will be done lord!"
  173. >you're glad you kept him around
  174. >hes always willing to do anything you ask without question
  175.  
  176. >you are Cadence
  177. >what is manos thinking?
  178. >why keep one of those things!
  179. "i just dont understand him.."
  180. >you look back to the lab
  181. "but.. if he wants to keep his little 'pet' fine!"
  182. >you still have plenty of bugs to work and kill.
  183. "if she makes my perfect process work faster then she will be the last one i kill."
  184. >you smile as you make your way to your favorite camp
  185. >the first one.
  186. >the one you and Manos built together
  187. >after a few minutes of walking you make it and walk inside the outer gate
  188. >as soon as you do you notice changelings waiting against the inner fences
  189. >they are silent and watching
  190. "what are you parasites looking at! get back to your work!"
  191. >you cast a spell and make the areas between the inner and outer fences ignite into flames
  192. >the changelings scurry away in fear of the flames
  193. >you smile and continue your walk to your office
  194. >you can still feel their eyes watching you
  195. >you notice that you have little bits of that goo on your hoof
  196. "ugh disgusting"
  197. >you wipe it off and toss it to the path
  198. >suddenly the feeling is gone
  199. >you look around to see some of them looking at the goo
  200. >perhaps they know its a queens scent?
  201. "i said WORK!"
  202. >you burn the goo
  203. >then the closest changelings to you
  204. "if you want to have any food tonight you will have your projects completed!"
  205. >you enter your office and look over the current state of the camp
  206. >3,214 changeling workers on site
  207. >you cross it out
  208. >3,209 changeling workers on site
  209. >production capability is at maximum
  210. >recommend a random cull of population
  211. >you finish your notes and hand it to your secretary
  212. "have a random cull of two-hundred. take your pick. the best population for here at the moment is around three thousand until we expand keep it as close as possible."
  213. >"yes ma'am. we will start immediately"
  214. >you love your job.
  215.  
  216. >you are Honor Bound.
  217. >you have so many assignments!
  218. >manos has more faith in you than ever.
  219. >build my machines
  220. >study those crystals
  221. >study this queen
  222. >as well as being the head of R&D
  223. >you pull out your manos necklace and give a small prayer of thanks
  224. >you look over to the queen
  225. >who is just standing there aloof
  226. "come with me.. you can walk cant you?"
  227. >"of course i can! im a queen not a lowly drone!'
  228. >she takes one step
  229. >and falls like a newborn fawn
  230. >you facehoof
  231. "if you cant walk then--"
  232. >she snaps back to you
  233. >"I CAN WALK... just.. need to get my bearings is all"
  234. >you watch as she tries to learn to use her legs
  235. >...
  236. >this is taking far too long
  237. >you use your magic and grip her legs
  238. >you move them one at a time with your magic
  239. "i dont have time for you to learn on your own. so ill have to show you"
  240. >after doing the movements for her a few times she gets it
  241. "ah ha! i told you i could walk."
  242. >she.. 'walks' behind you to the nearest laboratory room
  243. >where you leave her to the science teams
  244. "make sure she doesnt hurt herself. and make sure YOU dont hurt her either. manos wants her in perfect condition."
  245. >"yes sir Honor bound."
  246. >>"we will keep our research limited to questions and basic motor skill tests"
  247. "good. i have much more to worry about than a queen learning to walk.."
  248. >you walk out of the room and search for the scientists who are studying the crystals sombra.. 'gave' you.
  249. "these must be trials of patience..."
  250. >you still will not fail them
  251. >manos guides you to a bright future
  252.  
  253. >you are manos
  254. >things seem to be happening all at once.
  255. >you have put down a rebellion
  256. >you gained small amounts of both favor and fear from Celestia
  257. >you have a new queen changeling in your hands
  258. >and you are being escorted to your room by two lovely crystal mares.
  259. >"Manos. we know you have been busy recently"
  260. >>"and we know you gave us permission to go ahead and create your new.. 'police force'."
  261. >"SO! we went ahead and selected the best of the crystal guards and militias ponies for selection."
  262. >>"all we need is for you to give the final approval."
  263. "id like to see those ponies before i give the go ahead. if they are to be my Gestapo i will have each one pass a test of my own design before they are finalized"
  264. >the mares giggle
  265. >"but of course manos"
  266. >>"we are at your service after all."
  267. >they are getting a little too friendly..
  268. >you enter the castle and see a group of about twenty crystal ponies at attention
  269. >they all snap a sieg heil as you enter
  270. >"HEIL"
  271. "these must be the ponies then."
  272. >the sisters are suddenly serious and walking along their ponies
  273. >>"yes manos. these are the ponies we have selected."
  274. >emerald takes a position on the far side of them and looks back to you
  275. >while Sapphire takes the side closer to you
  276. >the ponies say as one
  277. >"heil manos!"
  278. >you slowly inspect each pony
  279. >walking down the line till you make it to the end
  280. >you look to the mare at the end
  281. "previous job."
  282. >"i was a slave in the mines sir"
  283. "did you see ponies die there?"
  284. >"yes lord... many ponies died there sir."
  285. "are you comfortable with death?"
  286. >she remains silent for a moment
  287. >"yes sir. if its necessary for the greater good."
  288. >you nod and walk down the line asking each pony the same questions
  289. >they all have similar answers
  290. "good.. because you will be expected to deal with death frequently.."
  291. >you start to walk to your room
  292. "meet me in he courtyard at noon tomorrow! that is all."
  293. >"HEIL MANOS"
  294. >you make it back to your room finally
  295. >there are black hands standing guard
  296. >as you approach they bow their heads then give a salute
  297. >"welcome back lord! we took the liberty of securing you room"
  298. >>"commander aryanne is still inside guarding sir."
  299. "thank you. you are dismissed"
  300. >they walk back to their barracks for some rest
  301. >you enter your room
  302. >as you do Aryanne snaps to a defensive stance her sword out
  303. >"Halt! this is-"
  304. "at ease commander. its me."
  305. >she stands in attention
  306. >"sorry sir. welcome back."
  307. "thank you Aryanne. is everything as it was when i left?"
  308. >you look over to the chest
  309. >"of course sir."
  310. "then you are dismissed.. id like to get some sleep if possible.."
  311. >Aryanne gives you a salute then walks out of your room.
  312. >you get undressed and ready for bed..
  313. "i havnt had a good sleep since i got here.."
  314. >this is the worst part..
  315. >you climb into bed and almost instantly fall asleep
  316.  
  317. >hours pass.
  318. >or perhaps is seconds..
  319. >its hard to tell.
  320. >you are in the immaterial world..
  321. >you can see the same planes of the dreamscape as luna can
  322. >at least you assume.
  323. >but that isnt the part you dislike..
  324. >you suddenly get a horrible pain in your mind
  325. >you grip at your head as thousands if not millions of voices all speak at once
  326. >they are all praying to you
  327. >and you can hear each one!
  328. >millions of voices entering your ears!
  329. >praying for forgiveness
  330. >praying for a future
  331. >praying to their god
  332. >you scream from the over stimulation and pain in your eardrums
  333. >no one can hear you anyway...
  334.  
  335. >you are Princess Luna..
  336. >and you can hear the screams of manos in the distance of your dreamscape
  337. >you walk across the dreams of your sleeping ponies
  338. >one after the other the nightmares are lifted away and their uneasy rests are made calm
  339. >but you can still hear the screams of Manos in the distance
  340. >you remember what it was like for you and your sister when you became goddesses..
  341. >that was the only good thing to come of your banishment.
  342. >the voices slowly began to recede
  343. >you can only imagine how your sister copes with it all.
  344. >and now manos..
  345. >and it will only get worse the more ponies believe he is a god.
  346. >you close your eyes and try to focus on his screams
  347. >you try and reach out to him
  348. "manos... please.. try to relax."
  349. >your one voice is just adding to the torrent of voices he hears
  350. "this isnt going to work.."
  351. >you look across the vast endlessness of this dreamland
  352. >manos could be anywhere in here
  353. >you do your best to try and determine where his screams are coming from
  354. >as you do almost every night..
  355. >you have never found him before.
  356. "but i should try.. he deserves that kindness.."
  357. >you walk along the dreams of your ponies
  358. >calming them as you walk
  359. "i promise manos, one of these nights ill find you.. and ill try to help the pain."
  360.  
  361. >you are manos
  362. >the sounds of the voices are crushing you
  363. >in the continuous tide of voice you recognize one. if only for a moment
  364. >".. and ill try and help the pain"
  365. >you cant place it.
  366. >but somehow you know it was for you to hear.
  367. >not the god.
  368. >but the human.
  369. >you jolt awake
  370. >your heart is pounding and your ears thump with the blood flowing inside them
  371. >you hold your heart and you can feel it start to relax
  372. >sleeping is the worst part..
  373. >and it always feels like an eternity till morning
  374. >you crawl out of your bed and start to dress yourself.
  375. >another night as a god..
  376. >another painful.. dreamless.. night.
  377. >you walk out of your room.
  378. >seems you were lucky and woke up early in the morning.
  379. >the sun hasn't even risen yet
  380. >you walk down the empty halls
  381. >the only ones inside are guards who have been stationed there all night
  382. >and they are unlikely to be talkative
  383. >eventually you make it to your balcony overlooking the kingdom
  384. >your kingdom.
  385. "it is mine, even if Sombra denies it.."
  386. >you have the armies
  387. >you have the support of the ponies
  388. >you have your own fortifications
  389. >your camps
  390. >your shops
  391. >your factories
  392. "its mine.. all but in name.. but not for long"
  393. >you look to the research center
  394. >there are lights on inside and out in the yard
  395. >but you cant see inside
  396. >there is a field of magic obscuring your view
  397. >you back away from the balcony and walk to the labs
  398. "might as well see what my brains are doing up this early"
  399. >your footsteps echo in the halls as you walk out of the castle
  400.  
  401. >after a few moments of walking and little to nothing interesting happening you make it
  402. >the lights are still on inside and you can hear loud noises of machinery and metal
  403. >the guards at the entrance give you a sieg heil as you enter inside
  404. >the place is spotless, clean all the way down the the floors.
  405. >lab coats hang from hooks by the door and hallways are closely watched by black hands
  406. >you look to the nearest guard
  407. "which way to those ponies working?"
  408. >"right this way lord manos"
  409. >the guard leads you to the larger part of the science wing
  410. >there is a large steel door
  411. >"open up! its lord manos himself! entrance code 43-23-65-01"
  412. >>"alright your code has been confirmed opening the door"
  413. >the steel door slides open
  414. >your eyes are immediately directed to the large metal machine in the center of the room
  415. >the scientists approach
  416. >"lord manos! we weren't expecting you!"
  417. >you ignore them and examine the machine
  418. >its very boxlike unlike your sketches
  419. >and the treads are much smaller.
  420. "does it work?"
  421. >the scientists look to one another in doubt
  422. >"we dont know."
  423. "well lets find out then"
  424. >you are blackout
  425. >you and the rest of the black hands that were sent to clear out ponyville are finally heading back
  426. >you didnt have the heart to tell lyra what happened to her face..
  427. >even though you know it would have been better to do so in person you left her a letter..
  428. >a letter explaining what had to happen, and why.
  429. >you also wrote that your orders wouldnt allow you time to see her before returning back
  430. >you hope she believes you.
  431. "im sorry Lyra.."
  432. >"what was that sir?"
  433. >a black hand walking beside you overheard your mumbling
  434. "sorry.. i was just thinking out loud."
  435. >the black hand gives you a nod.
  436. >"i understand sir... unlike most of the ponies here.. i cant joke about what happened.. i had to put down my sister."
  437. >the pony looks back to the others still joking and laughing as they make their way behind you
  438. >"it was for the best though.. i found out she was one of the ponies attacking civilians not willing to fight..."
  439. "that must be hard for you then. im sorry you had to do it."
  440. >"thank you sir"
  441. "for what?"
  442. >"for at least trying to make me feel better about it.. the others just told me it was for the best or.."
  443. >there is another burst of laughter from behind you
  444. >"or that.. although not as loudly"
  445. "times are hard on all of us i suppose"
  446. >the two of you walk in silence for a while
  447. "i had to kill one of my close friends.. and she was a friend of Lyra heartstrings.. and a friend of Manos too."
  448. >the stallion looks to you again
  449. >both worry and slight shock on his face
  450. >"oh.. wow.. talk about friends in high places.."
  451. >you laugh a little bit..
  452. >just a very little bit
  453. "you're telling me. i dont know how Manos will react to to though, seems that we are becoming fewer and fewer"
  454. >"who sir? black hands?"
  455. "no friends, copper was one too.. power seems to be corrupting to ponies, and manos is losing more and more friends to it
  456. >"i feel sorry for him, losing friends to their own greed then having to remove them yourself, it has to be hard."
  457.  
  458. >you are manos
  459. >and you are about to test to see if your invention will work.
  460. >the ponies testing it clamber around
  461. >inside are three earth ponies and a team of two unicorns
  462. >you climb on top and look inside the machine
  463. >its a tight fit but you yourself slide in to get a quick look of the interior
  464. >its very tight and compact
  465. >barely enough room for the ponies inside
  466. >one earth pony is in the center of the machine
  467. >his role is to look over the engine of the machine and keep it fueled with coal
  468. >the same for another earth pony but his one also is in charge of ventilation
  469. >he has to make sure all the smoke keeps going out of the long pipe leading to the outsides of the vehicle
  470. >the third earth ponies job is to keep watch over all of the internal devices and of course drive the machine
  471. >the final team the two unicorns, have seats on the top part of the machine
  472. >its their job to direct the driver as well as provide magical support to the troops in the field through the larger openings and the rotating top
  473. >there are several CLEAR drawbacks to this design..
  474. >but it is a... ok start.
  475. >you climb out of the machine and take a position outside
  476. >you hear it start up slowly
  477. >just like a train it begins to move at a slow pace at the start
  478. >it creeps out of the room into the testing yard
  479. >the more you watch the more you think about how hot it must be inside there
  480. "perhaps theres a way to maintain a normal temperature with artificial magic.. or with crystal enhanced magic?"
  481. >the scientist looks to you
  482. >"we have a few ideas for that.. but we weren't able to implement them quite yet"
  483. >the machine is now in the center of the yard
  484. >"alright! test the rotation on that top part!"
  485. "turret"
  486. >"the turret!"
  487. >the top of the machine slowly turns one way.
  488. >then the other
  489. >>"rotation is good sir!"
  490. >"how is the temperature?"
  491. >>"its.. its bearable sir! but id love some iced tea if you got it"
  492. >you chuckle
  493. >"yes.. well.. alright! test how fast you can get it to go!"
  494. >the machine begins to roll
  495. >it begins to pick up a bit of speed almost that of a jog that a normal pony can do.
  496. >then you hear a snap and a few bangs inside
  497. >the machine comes to a stop
  498. >and you hear lots of coughing inside the machine
  499. >smoke starts to pour out of anywhere it can find
  500. "shit.. well we didnt get far. but we got a hell of a lot further than i thought we would."
  501. >you raise your hands to your mouth to shout
  502. "Alright! we did good! clear out that smoke and get out of there!"
  503. >you can hear magic being cast inside
  504. >most likely to try and contain or remove the smoke
  505. >the ponies begin to crawl out of the machine
  506. >covered in smoke stains and coughing
  507. >they are also drenched in sweat.
  508. >you walk over to them
  509. "you are brave ponies ill tell you what."
  510. >they give you a quiet thank you with nodding of heads
  511. "get yourselves cleaned up in the showers. we will work more on this later..."
  512. >the crew head back inside to clean themselves
  513. >you turn to the scientist
  514. "got any ideas?"
  515. >he approaches you
  516. >"like we said.. we weren't expecting you. nor were we actually expecting the thing to work... so/ id say this was a success"
  517. "id agree with that.. to tell you the truth.. im not sure how the things work..."
  518. >you hop onto the top of the machine and crawl inside
  519. >the smoke is gone and the fires are all out
  520. >you examine the inside again
  521. "i need to know what kind of fuel supplies we have.. water of course is one.. but id rather avoid a volatile steam machine.. fuck.."
  522. >you crawl along inside the machine to the 'heart'
  523. "this idea clearly wont work.. at least effectively."
  524. >you are already sweating inside here
  525. "and this heat will likely kill ponies.."
  526. >you take a seat.
  527. "i can figure this out... i know it"
  528. >"lord manos? are you ok in there sir?"
  529. "yeah im fine just give me a minute.."
  530. >you give the machine another look before climbing out
  531. >you look to the scientist
  532. "i think i have an idea"
  533. >you walk up to the pony and turn back to the machine
  534. "alright.. heres my idea... until we find a way to get this machine to self-propel with a fuel source we do the next best thing.."
  535. >the scientist looks to you
  536. >"which is?"
  537. "take it all apart. no wait.. keep this one for now but make another one. use the lightest wood you can find."
  538. >the scientist takes notes as you ramble
  539. "and create this outline again. BUT give it a thin outline of metal. thick enough to keep arrows or any other basic ballistics out but not to thick to where we cant move it. keep the treads but give them a skirt for protection. then get the wheels to be powered by..."
  540. >the scientist stops his frantic writing and looks to you
  541. >"by?"
  542. "hoof power. we will use basic cranks for the propulsion a team of about four earth ponies would have plenty of power combined to move it. even more with unicorn assistance."
  543. >the scientist just looks at you.
  544. >"how would that work?"
  545. "give me your paper ill show you"
  546. >you take the paper and pen from him
  547. >and you draw a set of wheels with a crank between them
  548. "each of the wheels has nobs sticking out long enough for the cranks to stay attached and keep the wheels turning rotating the cranks on both sides would make the wheels turn thus moving forward or backward, doing one side or the other would allow you to turn the machine and simply holding the cranks still would act as breaks"
  549. >"well.. it does seem like it would work.. in theory.. and it would definitely be easier to manufacture quickly"
  550. >you pat the scientist on the back
  551. "oh dont worry. this is just temporary.. im sure we can get that machine running on its own soon. we just need to start small and work our way up."
  552. >you lead the scientist back to the lab
  553. >after a hour or so of discussion you finally decide on this way of power and function for now.
  554.  
  555. >you are a queen
  556. >and you have been kicked awake by three ponies in black
  557. >"get up parasite. the brains want to have a look at you"
  558. >you blink a few times getting the sleep out of your eyes
  559. >then you get another kick in your side
  560. >"now.."
  561. "alright. alright. sorry.."
  562. >you wobble to your hooves, sleep and not walking for long making it difficult this early
  563. >as you stand you have a collar attached to your neck and two chains hang from it
  564. >two ponies take hold of them and go to either side of you to prevent your head from moving to far
  565. "where are we going?"
  566. >the ponies remain silent as they walk you out of your room
  567. >you admire the clean hallways of the building
  568. "this is a very clean and orderly nest. i can only imagine what kind of drones you use to keep it so."
  569. >a pony scoffs
  570. >you try to look back to him to see what was so humorous
  571. >but you head is jerked back to the front by the other pony
  572. >why do they treat you like this?
  573. >all the ponies treat you like this..
  574. >Mano's didnt..
  575. >soon you are entering another room much like the one you were in previously
  576. >except this one has a group of ponies in lab coats and a small bed inside
  577. >>"please put her right over there."
  578. >the pony in white points to the bed
  579. >and soon you are being led over to it and told to take a seat on it.
  580. "uh.. alright. like this?"
  581. >you get up on the bed and lay down on it being sure not to upset the ponies around you
  582. >>"thats good. alright attach the chains and we will take it from here."
  583. >the ponies in black attach the chain to spots on the walls and all but one walk out of the room
  584. >the one that stays stands by the door and just watches
  585. >he must be a warrior.
  586. >and those in white must be... nurses?
  587. "for being so different you all look so similar.."
  588. >>"yes well we can say the same for you. now if you please only talk when asked a question or if you feel any pain"
  589. "oh. alright."
  590.  
  591. >you are Lyra
  592. >there is a letter sitting on your end table by your bedside
  593. >you lift it up with your magic and look it over.
  594. >there is no seal or other identifying marks on it
  595. >you gently place it back down.
  596. >you will make a point to read it later today
  597. "i have to get ready, today is another day of worship."
  598. >you wash yourself up and get dressed in your finest robes
  599. >you need to be strong for your ponies.
  600. >they need somepony to look to in hard times like this
  601. "and since manos is away. that responsibility is my own"
  602. >walking out into the main room you bask in the natural lighting
  603. >it looks so beautiful, the stained glass windows with dedications to Manos
  604. >art of the battle of canterlot
  605. >and of course your favorite
  606. >the ones where the sun and moon are is the palms of manos as he smiles down on his ponies
  607. >each of the celestial bodies having the smiling faces of the princesses looking up to him
  608. >you cant help but smile every time you look at it
  609. >you look to the pews and see a few ponies already here.
  610. >heads bowed and some crying
  611. >you walk over to the nearest pony.
  612. >a young filly clutching a manos charm
  613. >she is crying but still keeps the charm close to her heart
  614. "are you ok my child?"
  615. >the mare sniffles and looks up to you
  616. >she doesnt say anything but wraps you in a hug
  617. >for a moment you are surprised, but you return the hug all the same
  618. "there there. everything will be ok.."
  619. >"my daddy and mommy are gone.."
  620. >you take a seat next to the filly
  621. "gone?"
  622. >"they.. they said that they had to go to protect me, and ponyville. they put on their brown uniforms and left me with my brother"
  623. >you have a sinking feeling in your gut.
  624. >"then... then last night daddy came home.. but.. he didnt make it inside the house. i went outside to go to school and he just.. he fell on the ground as i opened the door.. he had cuts and part of him were.. were.."
  625. >the filly cries again wrapping you up in a tight hug
  626. >you just let the poor filly cry into you
  627. >you should read that letter.
  628.  
  629. >you are manos
  630. >you and aryanne are in the courtyard awaiting the new initiates to the crystal gestapo
  631. "have you met any of them previously aryanne?"
  632. >Aryanne looks over to you
  633. >"no sir. this will be my first time meeting them"
  634. "i see. then be sure to judge them as harshly as possible. only the best should be in my forces."
  635. >"of course lord."
  636. >your conversation with aryanne is interrupted by a Pegasus landing next to you
  637. >"sieg heil! manos, there is a representative here to see you"
  638. >a what?
  639. "a representative? from Canterlot?"
  640. >"no sir. from the griffon empire"
  641. >interesting...
  642. "did they say what they wanted?"
  643. >the Pegasus shakes her head
  644. >"no sir. they said they would only speak to the one called manos"
  645. >you turn to aryanne.
  646. "Aryanne.. can i trust the training of these new-bloods to you?"
  647. >Aryanne gives you a sieg heil
  648. >"of course manos! those that remain will be as though as nails when im done."
  649. "thank you aryanne. ill be back as soon as i am able"
  650. >you look back to the messenger
  651. "take me to them."
  652. >you follow the pegasus to the grand halls where you see black hands and crystal guards have gathered
  653. >in the center of the ponies are three large birds of prey
  654. >you approach the group, as you do Sombra, in his usual fashion appears as a large cloud of smoke
  655. >he easily grabs the attention of everyone in the room their eyes follow his movements as he lands next to you
  656. >the both of you walk together and emerge from the remaining cloud
  657. "i see you have already made yourselves at home here.."
  658. >sombra stomps his hoof and smiles his normal wicked smile
  659. >the large birds appear to smile
  660. >"ah you must be this "manos' we have heard so much about.."
  661. "yes. i am. and you are?"
  662. >the largest of the griffons gives a slight bow of his head
  663. >"i am Zephyrus.. one of the most dignified diplomats of the empire."
  664. >sure you are.
  665. "and why are you here? what buisness would you have with me and my.. quaint little following?"
  666. >Zephyrus laughs
  667. >"ah straight to the point. i quite like that.. we are here to.. aid in your little quarrel with the Equestrians"
  668. >the ponies in the room laugh
  669. >as do you, but you extend your hands
  670. "we are equestrians. i dont see any problems here. do you?"
  671. >"you are well aware of what we mean you are having political problems with the princesses. we wish to aid you."
  672. "and what you gain from this? whats the catch in this deal?"
  673. >"nothing worth mentioning really we only ask that whatever our soldiers take.. they keep."
  674. "im going to need much more information than that before i make any deals.. especially about plundering what i consider mine already"
  675. >"confident in your little coup?"
  676. >youre not gaining any bonus points with your ignorance bird.
  677. "this isnt a coup. this isnt a rebellion. this.. is simply a long term reform."
  678. >you snap your fingers and your black hands snap to attention
  679. >"SIEG HEIL"
  680. "and as you can see. its going rather well"
  681. >the bird huffs
  682. >"then we have things to discuss later till then"
  683. >and turns to leave
  684. "sombra follow them"
  685.  
  686. >you are Sombra.
  687. >glorified spy of manos...
  688. >you have followed the griffons to a forested area deep in the untouched area of Ardennes
  689. >"any luck?"
  690. >the group of birds gathered in the shadows
  691. >your element
  692. >you go in for a closer look
  693. >you meld into the shadow and creep in closer
  694. >>"no luck with the ponies in the Crystal kingdom, how about the royal equestrians?"
  695. >"they have agreed on very strict terms.. they get to keep all the territory but we would be able to keep any of the crystals, armor, bits, or anything else."
  696. >>"well thats something.. if thats as good as we can get then we will take it."
  697. >"we should head back and report to the king."
  698. >>"i agree. we have a pretty easy choice to make now"
  699. >this is interesting
  700. >the griffons are playing both sides?
  701. >manos will need to be aware of this
  702.  
  703. >you are a queen
  704. >and you have been poked, prodded, and scraped for hours now
  705. "what are you trying to learn? maybe i can help?"
  706. >the scientists remain silent working
  707. >after a few more minutes you begin to look around the room again
  708. >this is a very.. strange.. existence
  709. >"alright now a few questions."
  710. >good something you can help with
  711. >you smile excited to help
  712. "alright what would you like to ask?"
  713. >"can you communicate with changelings?"
  714. "yes"
  715. >"does this include the ones inside our habitats?"
  716. "yes of course. any of my brood mates."
  717. >the scientists look to each other
  718. >"do you worry about them?"
  719. "no, they might be my brood mates, but i have no ties.. i never met my brood mother. and i have no children."
  720. >"interesting.."
  721.  
  722. >you are Sombra
  723. >you turn to make your way back to the Crystal Kingdom
  724. >but an idea hits you..
  725. >you laugh to yourself as you look back to the griffons
  726. >they dont care whos in charge as long as they get wealthier
  727. >you approach them and merge into their shadows
  728. >"then its settled.. we will return to the king and inform him that the equestrians will give us the best offer"
  729. >you start to form in the center of their grouping
  730. "oh.. but thats where you are wrong.. i can assure you. a deal with me will be much better.."
  731. >the griffons take a few steps back as you unexpectedly entered their meeting
  732. >"this was the pony who works for that 'manos' "
  733. >you face the bird and glare at him
  734. "i do not work FOR manos! he stole MY kingdom right from under me!"
  735. >you calm yourself again
  736. "and i am willing to make any deal to get it back.."
  737. >the griffons look to one another
  738. >some of them rubbing their beaks in thought
  739. >finally the largest one. Zephyrus, takes a step forward and speaks
  740. >"what deal do you have in mind Pony?"
  741. >you smile you have a great deal
  742. >a deal that they surely will not turn down
  743.  
  744. >rewind a few minutes
  745. >you are Manos
  746. >Sombra has just left to follow the griffons
  747. >you turn back to your gathered ponies
  748. "my dearest ponies i have a mission for you all."
  749. >all eyes are on you
  750. "soon we will be going to war.. unfortunately with equestrians. i hope it will be short with minimal loss of life"
  751. >you look to the glass windows depicting the crystal kingdoms history
  752. "but.. we are not ready. what i am asking you all will be difficult but necessary."
  753. >you close your eyes for a moment to check up on Sombra.
  754. >as you expected hes making his own deal
  755. "i will need you all to gather as many ponies as you can. and have this nation go into full scale war status."
  756. >you look back to your hands
  757. "what this means my little ponies. is that everyone will have to work for the war effort. those not fighting will be manufacturing arms and armor, this is the will of fate."
  758. >"heil manos!"
  759. >you walk out of the main hall as your ponies rush out to spread your word
  760. >as you walk you keep thinking of how to get your machines to work
  761. >you stop suddenly
  762. >and laugh.
  763. "im such an idiot.. i dont need to invent a engine from scratch!"
  764. >at least if what you think will work does.
  765. "Canterlot has defiantly gone up on my priorities list."
  766. >you continue your walk to your guards barracks
  767. >you have a.. "diplomatic mission" to plan.
  768.  
  769. >you are Aryanne.
  770. >you have gathered your ponies in the barracks for another inspection
  771. >you walk along the bunks inspecting the contents of each hooflocker
  772. >of course your black hands are all perfect.
  773. >you finish the inspection without having to assign any punishments
  774. "at ease. another perfect inspection."
  775. >>"we are his shield"
  776. "we are his ponies"
  777. >>"we are his faithful Hands"
  778. "carry on."
  779. >you turn to open the door and leave
  780. >the door opens and Manos himself is standing there.
  781. >you quickly recover giving a sieg heil
  782. "Lord manos sir!"
  783. >the ponies return to attention again
  784. >"SIEG HEIL"
  785. >Manos walks inside
  786. >>"I need four volunteers for a top secret mission. if you accept you cannot back down"
  787. "I volunteer sir!"
  788. >Cinnamon, Comet Glow, and Almond Heart also quickly volunteer after you do
  789. >Manos looks around to his other bodyguards a few also volunteering but just to slow
  790. >"alright. you four will be briefed in my private quarters, those of you who also volunteered will be my acting bodyguards, you will be updated on your mission after i finish with these ponies."
  791. >Manos walks out of the room and leads you all to his room
  792. >he has you all take a seat as he lays out a map of someplace you have never seen before.
  793. >"nothing we speak of will be shared with anyone. understood?"
  794. >you all nod
  795. >"good.. lets begin"
  796.  
  797. >you are a queen
  798. >you have been left to walk around a nearly empty room
  799. >inside the room is a bed, a table with two chairs, and a small bookshelf filled with books
  800. >its an alright room to be in, much nicer than the cage you slept in previously
  801. >the only thing odd about the room is one wall is a large mirror
  802. >you walk up to the large mirror and look at your own reflection
  803. "wow.. i look so different compared to the ponies"
  804. >you twirl your mane and look at yourself for a while
  805. "i can see how they think im just a bug."
  806. >you look up at your jagged horn
  807. >then down at your legs filled with holes
  808. "i must be scary to them. no wonder they treat me like they do."
  809. >you walk over to your books.
  810. >might as well make the best of this
  811. "oh well. im sure once they learn enough about me they might change their minds."
  812. >in your head you can hear drones asking for their queen to help them
  813. >asking for You to help them.
  814. >you close your eyes and look to the normal wall and speak
  815. "no. leave me alone! you are not my brood. i am not your queen!"
  816. >you look to your books and pick one out.
  817. >its called "the rise of Manos"
  818.  
  819. >you are Lyra
  820. >after spending time with those who came early for guidance you return to your room
  821. >you grab the letter with your magic and hold it in front of you
  822. "its ok Lyra everything is ok"
  823. >you gently and very slowly open the letter
  824. >"dear Lyra, im sorry i wasnt able to speak to you in person. my mission required i leave asap"
  825. >its from Blackout then
  826. >your heart sinks in your chest a bit
  827. >but you read on
  828. >"the mission was a hard one a lot harder than i expected, but i was ordered to put down the rebellion and all its leaders"
  829. >you can feel tears forming
  830. >"but i was given orders to take Bonbon alive is possible"
  831. >there are a few wet spots on the letter. and they arent from you.
  832. >"but she wouldnt go peacefully and i was forced to.."
  833. >you put down the letter and take a seat on your bed.
  834. >you dont need to read the rest
  835. >bonbon didnt die, bonbon is alright
  836. >right?
  837.  
  838. >you are manos
  839. >the plan has been set. all you need now to to schedule a meeting with Luna and Celestia
  840. >or.. you could just show up.
  841. "we move out as soon as we are able. understood?"
  842. >your ponies look to you and give a final nod
  843. "everyone knows the mission correct?"
  844. >"yes sir!"
  845. >you look down at the map and tap it
  846. "Cinnamon, if you would be so kind as to dispose of this evidence?"
  847. >Cinnamon Pops horn begins to glow and the paper map catches fire
  848. >soon its a small pile of ash on your table
  849. "lets get moving. Aryanne. inform the others to their role"
  850. >Aryanne gives you a salute
  851. >"yes manos. we will meet you at the gates"
  852. "good. i have a former princess to place in charge."
  853. >the ponies all walk out of the room
  854. >you turn to your chest which houses the Elements of Chaos
  855. >gently you rub your fingers along the top looking for two release points hidden on the chest
  856. >just big enough for one finger to push
  857. >you find them and push in
  858. >the chest clicks open slowly revealing the crystal heart, the Alicorn Amulet, and the Dark crystal
  859. >you take the amulet in your hands and place it around your neck
  860. >then you close the chest again and look at your hands
  861. "they perfect key is one you never lose"
  862. >you then turn and leave your room
  863. >time to pay a visit to the Sisters
  864.  
  865. >you are Cadence
  866. >you are leaving you office in the changeling camp
  867. >you can smell the scent of burning bugs in the air
  868. "ah good. they are proceeding with the culling like i ordered."
  869. >you look over to the execution grounds and see a large building with a tall smoke stack billowing smoke
  870. "and they do it so effectively too. hmhm only goes to show how superior we are to those bugs."
  871. >you walk down your path out of the camp
  872. >unexpectedly Manos is the the yard waiting for you
  873. "Manos! what a nice surprise"
  874. >you smile and walk over to his side
  875. "i hope youre here to drop off that big roach of yours.."
  876. >"not this time Cadence. in fact ill be keeping her around. but thats not why im here."
  877. >you give him a grin and in a suggestive tone you say
  878. "oh.. a personal visit then?"
  879. >you flick your tail
  880. >"again not this time. perhaps soon though if you act nice while im gone"
  881. >you giggle
  882. "i do like it when you take charge.."
  883. >you go back to your business tone
  884. "but alright. what is it your off to do? and what am i taking charge over."
  885. >Manos laughs
  886. >"ah you know me pretty well i see. Ill be leaving to Canterlot for a while. no more than a few days or a week."
  887. "any particular reason?"
  888. >"its a diplomatic mission. im hoping to avoid war. but.. ive put the country on full scale war status in case"
  889. "alright. ill look over 'our' little kingdom while you go off again."
  890. >you tap his side with your hoof
  891. "BUT, you better not bring back another queen or something. ill only put up with ONE"
  892. >"last i checked i was in charge here."
  893. >Manos turns and walks away
  894. >"but ill do my best anyway"
  895. >he better..
  896. >bad enough i have to deal with those sisters..
  897. >now i have to deal with a changeling queen
  898. >a angry 'king'
  899. >and a nation getting ready for war
  900.  
  901. >you are Manos
  902. >you have ordered a group of carriages to be waiting by the gates for you and your party
  903. >they are all waiting for your arrival
  904. "lets get going. no time to wait around"
  905. >as you arrive you enter your carriage
  906. >Aryanne, Cinnamon, and Comet ride with you while Almond heart is flying escort
  907. >giving you time to talk about the mission in private
  908. >the carriages lurch forward and soon you are on your way
  909. "alright slight change of plans.."
  910. >everypony looks to you
  911. "ill be going with you. ill explain once we get there. only issue is we need a cover for why im missing"
  912. >the ponies look to each other
  913. >"Lord Manos"
  914. >you look over to Aryanne
  915. >"perhaps one of us should stay behind and cover for you. one of your personal guard will have more credit than the others"
  916. "agreed, but who will stay. Aryanne ill need you with me for this. so you are excluded"
  917. >Comet speaks up
  918. >"ill stay behind manos. the mission comes before anything else."
  919. "if we succeed you each will receive the first of my new medals."
  920. >you hold up the medals you had left on the bodies
  921. "the iron hand. awarded for loyalty and bravery. as of this moment no.. living.. pony has ever received one, not even rainbow dash"
  922. >you place it back in your pocket.
  923. "we will be arriving soon. get as much rest as you can. you'll need it."
  924. >"yes sir"
  925. >the ponies do their best to get some sleep
  926. >you look out the window and shout to Almond
  927. "almond"
  928. >you open the door
  929. "get in and get some rest"
  930. >she clambers inside quite well for it being a moving carriage in the sky
  931. "thats an order"
  932. >"yes sir"
  933. >you look out in the distance to see the mountain with canterlot on it just barely in view.
  934. >its about a two hour ride still.
  935. "wonder how happy the sisters will be to see my bright smile again."
  936.  
  937. >you are Celestia
  938. >you and luna are having a nice dinner/breakfast together before you both get ready for night
  939. "so luna. any interesting dreams recently? surely there has been a interesting one or two?"
  940. >"SISTER! i am a princess ans will not lower myself to gossip on the dreams of my subjects"
  941. >...
  942. >the two of you burst into laughter
  943. >"yes there has been quite a few interesting dreams. this one dream i saw was that of a stallion. i wont name names here. but he defiantly--"
  944. >there is a knock on the doors
  945. >you sigh
  946. >this is one of the few times you get to have social time with luna
  947. >you hate when it has to be cut short over trivial things
  948. "who is it?"
  949. >"ma'am! we have word that Lord Manos has landed near the castle, and he is asking to speak with you and princess luna!"
  950. >the both of you rise to your feet
  951. >"manos?!"
  952. "what could he want.."
  953. >Luna looks a little worried
  954. >"sister.. if i may. could i speak with manos, its about.. well.. his deams."
  955. "i thought you couldnt enter his dreams luna?"
  956. >"i cant. but.. its difficult to explain. it wont take long."
  957. >if manos is willing to talk of it then it couldnt hurt. right?
  958. "fine.. if Manos is fine with speaking of this then i wont stop you. but be careful Luna. im afraid of what Manos' intentions are."
  959.  
  960. >you are Manos
  961. >you are being led to the princesses
  962. >apparently you have caught them when they are both already together
  963. >perfect
  964. "Aryanne. please you and the others stay close to me"
  965. >as you walk down the halls you get rather cross looks from many of the guards
  966. >of course there are a few who bow their heads and utter a prayer as they see you
  967. >another voice to add to the pain..
  968. >"they are right inside here. Manos."
  969. "thank you. lets go everyone."
  970. >the guard sticks out a hoof
  971. >"just. you."
  972. "why? worried that myself and a few ponies would be able to defeat two goddesses? so little faith in your leaders."
  973. >your ponies chuckle and follow you inside
  974. >you walk into the large dinning room
  975. >your personal guard walking in beside you
  976. "AH if it isnt my favorite princesses!"
  977. >good thing Cadence didnt hear you
  978. >Celestia smiles and takes another bite of..
  979. >is that cake? really?
  980. >"ill be sure to tell Cadence that we are your favorites then."
  981. >Luna just looks at her food and avoids making direct eye contact with you
  982. "yes.. im sure she would love to hear that.. care if i have a seat and join you?"
  983. >Celestia extends a hoof to the chair
  984. >"please take a seat. we have quite a lot to talk about i assume?"
  985. >you take a spot next to them
  986. "yes we do... in fact i was meaning to talk to you about my.. position.. in this world."
  987. >Celestia continues to eat but gives you a side glance
  988. "as you are well aware. i have sacrificed much to protect our ponies.. to protect equestria. i have even put down a rebellion of my own followers to keep YOUR positions safe."
  989. >celestia lowers her fork
  990. >you place your hands on the table
  991. "i have fought a war, pacified a king, and started a.. private collection of dangerous changelings just to keep your ponies safe."
  992. >"what are you asking Manos? to take the throne from us because of good deeds?"
  993. >maybe..
  994. >you remove your hat
  995. "no no. in fact i dont want to take your place. i have no desire to rule equestria. only protect it. but.."
  996. >Luna and Celestia are both looking at you now
  997. "i would like to have a official position in your government... specifically."
  998. >you take a breath
  999. "Princehood."
  1000. >the sisters look to each other for a moment
  1001. >they whisper to each other
  1002. "of course.. i could always just keep my little kingdom to the north. and become a foreign nation... many ponies here im sure would join me. and not just here."
  1003. >you recall some places Copper told you has large amounts of followers
  1004. "ponies is Las Pegasus and Vanhoover as well as other large cities have large followings of mine. who honestly knows how they would act if i broke away from equestria"
  1005. >you smile at the princesses
  1006.  
  1007. "but i wouldnt dream of you coming to this same decision at a moments notice like this."
  1008. >you place your hat back on your head and stand up
  1009. "if you would be so kind as to allow me and my guards to stay for a few nights? only of course to give you time to make a decision."
  1010. >you bow your head.
  1011. "im sure, you two will make the right one.."
  1012. >you walk out of the room and your personal guards join you."
  1013. >as the door is shut behind you you turn to your guards
  1014. "alright. now the seeds have been planted. we have to act fast. follow me."
  1015. >you pick up you pace and walk down the halls of Canterlot.
  1016. >hopefully enough guards here are loyal to you to get you where you need to be
  1017. >as you walk down the halls you see a familiar face
  1018. "Silver Valor! how nice to see you again"
  1019. >Silver Valor turns to you a look of surprise on her face
  1020. >"uh.. hello Anon-- uh Manos what brings you to Canterlot?"
  1021. "i am currently in diplomatic talks with the Princesses.. hopefully we can come to a arrangement that will end any further violence between us"
  1022. >Valor smiles.
  1023. >"that is good to hear.. that business in Ponyville.. it was hard for a lot of us."
  1024. >you dont have time for small talk
  1025. "yes. it was.. a lot of good ponies died. on both sides... but i have important business to take care of."
  1026. >"of course sorry for taking up your time Manos. we shall talk again soon?"
  1027. "of course. i never forget my friends Silver. oh.. by the by, do you know where the royal Archives are? its very important."
  1028. >Valor gives you a look over.
  1029. >"im not sure you need to know that.."
  1030. "Valor. its me, you know that have no ill intentions, please i need to get there soon."
  1031. >she continues to look you over.
  1032. >then your guards
  1033. >"ugh.. fine.. follow me. but dont let it get out that im the one who led you there."
  1034. >you smile and give her a nod
  1035. "of course.. trust me. this is very important."
  1036. >you follow Valor down the halls both her status and yours thankfully being enough to get to the door to the archives
  1037. >check.
  1038. >Silver Valor turns back to you
  1039. >"manos. whatever you are doing in there im sure is for the right reasons.. but i cannot help you go further"
  1040. "dont worry Valor. i understand, i wouldnt want you to compromise your position on my account"
  1041. >"thank you manos. i was never here."
  1042. >Silver valor walks away
  1043. "thank you Captain. glad that the Royal guard has finally got good ponies running it."
  1044. >Silver just keeps walking
  1045.  
  1046. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upPQUSf0zME [Embed] Matias Puumala - Rebellion (Epic Action Drama)
  1047.  
  1048. >as soon as she is out of sight you turn to the guards at the door
  1049. >you walk up to them as they get closer together guarding the door
  1050. "step aside. i need to gain entry, its for the good of Equestria"
  1051. >the royal guards look at you stone faced
  1052. >"nopony may enter without the consent of the princesses."
  1053. >>"turn back sir. we cant let you in"
  1054. "i am not a pony. i am a god.."
  1055. >you look in the eyes of one
  1056. >then the other
  1057. >a second is all it takes and they are collapsed on the ground
  1058. >they mumble to themselves in near silence
  1059. >their eyes wide in shock and pain as they hold themselves tightly
  1060. "get their armor on and take positions at the doors. those who were assigned to come with me follow. we dont have much time"
  1061. >the doors are opened and your guards enter inside and clear the room
  1062. >the two guards are dragged inside and tied up armor striped from them and your ponies take their place
  1063. >you walk inside the Archives looking for the item
  1064. >as you look around you finally find it..
  1065. >you walk up to it slowly and grip at the blanket covering it from dust
  1066. >in one motion you pull it off revealing a large mirror
  1067. >you rub your hand across the glass
  1068. >it feels almost like rubber.
  1069. "here it is and on the other side.. everything i need.."
  1070. >you motion to Aryanne and the others to come over.
  1071. "Aryanne. you will follow me inside now, the rest of you. wait about twenty minutes before following."
  1072. >you take out the Amulet and hold it up to the mirror it glows brightly
  1073. >and you step inside...
  1074. >you feel like you are falling
  1075. >but at the same time you feel like you haven't moved an inch
  1076. >you look ahead as the weird vortex flows around you
  1077. >suddenly you feel strange
  1078. >you lose your balance and fall to your knees.
  1079. >you cant stand up
  1080. >there is a popping in your bones
  1081. >you expected this to hurt but it feels numb your body is being ripped apart and reshaped
  1082. >you know what happens when a pony enters this mirror.
  1083. >but this is the first time a human is going in, at least.. from this side.
  1084. >you try to rise your hands and stand but you keep losing balance.
  1085. >you look down and see your hands have been replaced by a hard set of hooves
  1086. >you examine the rest of your body as you 'fall' into the other world
  1087. >your skin grows a light yellow coat and your hair becomes a short blonde colored mane
  1088. >suddenly you hit a wall.
  1089. >no.. not a wall.
  1090. >a sidewalk
  1091. >you struggle to get to your feet
  1092. >er.. hooves.
  1093. >you are stuck as a pony while you're here?
  1094. >could be worse.... i guess..
  1095. "this is strange. i dont like it. i need my old body back as soon as possible."
  1096. >you look down and see the amulet around your neck
  1097. >your uniform has also changed to fit your new equine form
  1098. "Aryanne. lets get going. we have items to gather."
  1099. >you look behind you to see a very attractive Blonde woman struggle to get to her feet
  1100. >she is wearing a perfect SS uniform with her mark of manos on it.
  1101. >wait..
  1102. >you take a look at the mark.
  1103. >its a hoof now.
  1104. "alright.. we are NOT staying here long. as soon as the others get here have them be ready to move. i need to look around"
  1105. >"yes.. sir?"
  1106. >you look to Aryanne
  1107. >she is staring at you and blushing
  1108. "no time to enjoy the show. we have work to do"
  1109. >she snaps herself out of it and gives a quick sieg heil
  1110. >"yes sir! HEIL MANOS"
  1111. >first things first.. where is a car...
  1112. >you walk around the school grounds doing your best to avoid the wandering eye of the after school crowd
  1113. >you look up at the sky
  1114. >its nearly night they should be leaving any after school activities soon
  1115. >you look around and see the student parking lot.
  1116. >jackpot
  1117. "wait.. fuck.. i cant drive with hooves!"
  1118. >some students sitting on the stairs look over to you
  1119. >"did.. that horse talk?"
  1120. >oh shit..
  1121. >you quickly make a few random horse noises and eat some grass.
  1122. >pleaseworkpleaseworkpleasework
  1123. >>"are you serious?.. dude.. if youre smoking some weed without me let me know, ill match you."
  1124. >the high schoolers go back to doing whatever they were doing previously
  1125. >apparently they arent going to question why a pony is here
  1126. >you slowly meander back to Aryanne and your infiltration team
  1127. >they are all getting used to standing and walking while a few are practicing using their weapons in their new bodies
  1128. "alright everyone, no more time to waste. we need what we came for and soon, i dont know how time works between worlds so this needs to go fast."
  1129. >>"heil manos!"
  1130. "cinnamon, you and Almond heart are to follow me and wait by those cars over there. Aryanne, you are to guard this spot. make sure no one we dont know comes in or out."
  1131. >"yes sir"
  1132. "also if anyone here sees a girl with a yellow skin tone, and red and yellow hair she is also a pony. and might.. MIGHT be willing to help us if we give her reason. lets go."
  1133. >you and your team start to move to the parking lot
  1134. "alright everyone cover your faces and follow me"
  1135. >you approach a car and hide behind it as a student walks close by
  1136. >he takes out his keys and begins to fiddle with them
  1137. "lets go"
  1138. >you and the others get closer to him
  1139. >he doesnt notice and he drops his keys
  1140. >fucking scrub
  1141. >Cinnamon gets to him and puts the blade up to his throat
  1142. >"congratulations, you have been conscripted into Lord Manos army"
  1143. >>"wh-what? who are you
  1144. >almond approaches from the back adding her blade"
  1145. >"shut the fuck up and open the door"
  1146. >the kid opens his car door and unlocks the rest
  1147. >you struggle for a moment trying to open the back door but eventually you get it
  1148. >Cinnamon takes a seat next to the boy
  1149. >you and almond take a seat in the back
  1150. >almond keeping her blade close to his back
  1151. "boy. look at me"
  1152. >time to see if this still works here
  1153. >the boy turns very slowly
  1154. >his eyes are full of pure terror and he is shaking
  1155. >"is.. is that a pony? and did i talk?"
  1156. "shut up. and yes. now look into my eyes"
  1157. >he does so
  1158. >it takes longer than normal but eventually you can see his life flash before you
  1159. "take us to your house. i already know the way if you go off track you die, understood?"
  1160. >"y-yes mr. horse! ill do anything please dont kill me"
  1161. "then get going"
  1162. >he starts the car and soon you are rolling out of the parking lot
  1163. >luckily for you.. this kids dad happens to have a few, more useful weapons in a safe.
  1164. >and this kid knows the combination
  1165. >therefore you do.
  1166. >as you ride in the back seat of the car you slowly look around town
  1167. "this place looks like shit, and not in the fucked up kind of town way, but the horrible colors."
  1168. >cinnamon asks
  1169. >"is this like your home sir?"
  1170. "close. but this place cant hold a candle to my world. no.. this is just a mockery.. dont miss your turn."
  1171. >the kid suddenly turns making sure he doesnt miss it
  1172. >>"IM SORRY! SORRY! i got distracted! i have only been driving for a few-"
  1173. "i know now stop the bullshit and crying! just relax and get home"
  1174. >you realize that that is horrible advice
  1175. >this kid left school and is carjacked bu two nazis and a talking horse who threaten to kill him, not to mention you know where he lives
  1176. >and your best advice is. "relax"
  1177. >you chuckle to yourself at the obscure situation he is in
  1178. >finally you arrive to the boys house
  1179. "alright now you will walk SLOWLY to the door and unlock it."
  1180. >almond heart gets out of the car and waits for him to get out
  1181. >"yes mr.horse. i sear i wont try anything"
  1182. >soon you are walking together to the door
  1183. "open"
  1184. >the kid struggles to get his keys in the lock
  1185. >but when he does it clicks open and the door slowly opens
  1186. "i know your parents are gone for three more days, and you are home alone. take a seat on the couch, Cinnamon guard him"
  1187. >"yes sir he wont go anywhere"
  1188. "Almond with me, you have hands ill need them"
  1189. >"right behind you sir"
  1190. >you and almond ascend the stairs to the fathers room
  1191. >you see its locked and the boy doesnt have a key
  1192. "cheap wood. this should be easy"
  1193. >you turn around and buck the door off the hinges
  1194. >inside is a safe.
  1195. "Almond go over to that safe and open it. the combination is 24-12-53"
  1196. >Almond goes over to the safe and dials the combination and opens the door revealing several small arms
  1197. "put away your blade and take that small device there. its a weapon slide that small bar called a magazine inside of it"
  1198. >the owner leave pre-loaded mags in his safe? whatever.
  1199. "grab the rest of those small bars and the other device like yours, then take the larger one and add those red cylinders to the bottom and pump it. its a more powerful version of the smaller one."
  1200. >Almond does as instructed
  1201. "now to fire it pull the trigger MAKE GOD DAMN SURE its not pointed at me got it?!"
  1202. >"yes sir, it operates like a crossbow then?"
  1203. "close enough. lets get back to Cinnamon"
  1204. >the two of you walk back down stairs properly strapped
  1205. "Cinnamon load up"
  1206. >Almond tosses him a sidearm and the 2nd shotgun
  1207. "point them at a target and pull the trigger just like a crossbow, small one has twelve projectiles and the big one is loaded with eight, alright kid back to the car."
  1208. >you nod to the door as he gets up and starts to walk again
  1209. "one more stop then you will be free to go. safe and sound"
  1210. >"yes mr.horse"
  1211. >soon you and your armed guards are back in the car
  1212. "go up here and make a left at the light"
  1213. >"where are we going?"
  1214. "just follow directions and everything will be fine understood?"
  1215. >he continues driving
  1216. "dont worry Flash. everything's chill you will be back to banging chicks and smoking dope in no time"
  1217. >you cant help but smile
  1218. >"you know my name too?!"
  1219. "flash i knew your house inside out, i knew you went to school there, i now a lot. now please drive"
  1220. >after a few more miles of driving and a few missed turns you make it.
  1221. "everyone out of the car, Flash pop the trunk"
  1222. >*clunk*
  1223. >you all step outside in front of a car dealership
  1224. "alright follow me."
  1225. >the group follows close behind Flash having a gun to his side the whole time
  1226. >you walk up to the display model of a brand new super heavy duty truck
  1227. >you peer inside the open hood to show off the engine and components
  1228. >this one will work nice
  1229. "alright get the bucket out of the back of the car and follow my instructions"
  1230. >you walk back to the car and place the bucket underneath it
  1231. "give me the sword"
  1232. >Almond gives hers to you
  1233. >you grip it in your teeth and stab the gas tank
  1234. >"Hey man! thats my ride!"
  1235. >the bucket slowly fills with the gasoline
  1236. >you slowly pull it out
  1237. "alright pour this inside that hole in the side of it. Flash in the trunk!"
  1238. >"what?!"
  1239. "you heard me, get in"
  1240. >he climbs inside
  1241. "if you even try to get out you will be shot understood?!"
  1242. >there is a muffled yes
  1243. "alright time to bring back that teenage knowledge"
  1244. >you walk back to the truck and open the unlocked doors
  1245. "cinnamon open that bottom part under the wheel. and listen to what i say."
  1246.  
  1247. >you are Aryanne
  1248. >and you are standing guard outside the portal
  1249. >luckily enough another black hand followed you inside the mirror so you arent completely alone
  1250. >the other Hand taps your shoulder and points to a girl coming out of the school
  1251. >"thats her."
  1252. "you sure?"
  1253. >"yeah. matches the description Manos gave us"
  1254. >you whistle to the girl
  1255. >she gives you a odd look
  1256. >you wave her over.
  1257. >she raises a single finger
  1258. >odd response..
  1259. "look pony we dont got time. please make this easy on all of us"
  1260. >she freezes up when you call her a pony
  1261. >must be her.
  1262. "we are willing to make a deal with you if you're interested."
  1263. >she looks around to see who is looking then walks up to you
  1264. >"what is it? people around here will start asking questions"
  1265. "Lord Manos is making changes to Equestria. ones that can benefit you greatly if you are willing to help us out"
  1266. >"whos manos?.. never mind.. what kind of deal are you planning on making?"
  1267. >you smile and you're about to tell her when a loud noise catches your attention
  1268.  
  1269. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDeThz30JtQ [Embed] Dead Rising OST - Gone Guru
  1270.  
  1271. >and a large truck crashes into the parking lot with Manos in the passenger seat
  1272. >Almond rides in the back and Cinnamon is driving
  1273. >it skids to a stop in front of you and the portal
  1274. >Manos steps out
  1275. >"hello sunset. you dont know me, but you definitely want to.."
  1276. >>"so i hear. you plan on getting that huge truck through there?"
  1277. >"hmhmh yes i do"
  1278. >manos lifts his neck showing the Alicorn amulet
  1279. >he walks up to the portal and it starts to grow and swirl
  1280. >"if this works like i think it will. i SHOULD be able to send it inside. and if my faithful hands have moved the Mirror outside we should be all set, please ladies... follow me"
  1281. >you all get in the over sized truck and drive on in.
  1282. >"keep your fingers crossed! and give me the wheel!"
  1283.  
  1284. >you are Comet Glow
  1285. >Manos and the others have just entered the mirror
  1286. >so far your job has been easy Manos has done most of the work
  1287. >but now everything is in your hooves
  1288. "alright get that mirror ready to move! we dont know if anyone saw us and we will have to move fast"
  1289. >the black hands quickly move in and secure the mirror that Manos entered
  1290. "door team anypony see us?"
  1291. >"negative sir, we are green for move"
  1292. >you look to the guards who are tied up in the corner
  1293. "alright evacuation team, get them out of here and meet us at the rendezvous point planned."
  1294. >"yes sir, Heil manos"
  1295. >a unicorn and pegasus walk over to the tied up guards and are then teleported out
  1296. "alright lets get moving. door team lead us out of here as a 'royal escort' keep up with the plan"
  1297. >"yes sir"
  1298. >you and the ponies cover the mirror with the blanket again and start to haul it out
  1299. >the door guards giving you a escort and also giving you credibility if you run into more guards on the way
  1300. "down this hall and to the left."
  1301. >as you and your team are walking out you are stopped by patrol of Royalist guards
  1302. >>"halt, whats this about?"
  1303. "we have orders to move this artifact out. orders directly from the princesses and Manos"
  1304. >you nod to the door guards who are with you
  1305. >the first one speaks
  1306. >"yes sir, orders from the top. its a matter of national security and is on a need to know basis"
  1307. >the old guardspony stares you down
  1308. >and the guards with you
  1309. >>"why wasnt i told of this? i am in charge of Artifact security"
  1310. >he continues to look at the guards
  1311. >>"come to think of it. i haven't seen you before"
  1312. >"we are not artifact guards. we are regular patrol guards that were assigned escort."
  1313. "if you excuse us sir this is urgent"
  1314. >>"i understand that black hand.. but there are protocols"
  1315. >"sir, this is orders from the princess we need to move"
  1316. >>"fine! but if your flank gets kicked about disregarding protocol dont come to me for help"
  1317. >the old gruff stallion and his patrol move on
  1318. >right to the archives
  1319. "pick up the pace ponies. they were heading right to the archives, im sure they will start to question why there are no guards"
  1320. >your team picks up the pace moving the mirror to the end of the hall
  1321. "alright now we make another left then keep going till we reach the farthest door, that should lead us out"
  1322. >as your team moves on you are sure to keep an eye on the halls behind you and to your sides
  1323. >you need to be alert getting confident near the end will only get you in hot water
  1324. >"sir area is clear we are moving out"
  1325. "a-firm, good luck team be sure to send manos back as soon as he is able. i dont know how long i can distract royals on my own"
  1326. >you start to make your way back to the room manos said was his
  1327. >if that is actually the case however is still to be seen
  1328. "so far. so good. covert operation success"
  1329.  
  1330. >you are Manos
  1331. >and you are falling into the other world again
  1332. >your body is morphing and popping right in front of your eyes
  1333. >you are griping the wheel of the Vehicle as you are soon thrown back into equestria
  1334. "hold on to something!"
  1335. >you push your arm against whoever is closest to you pushing them back into the seat
  1336. >you and your newly acquired transport burst from the mirror and land in a open field
  1337. >mud and dirt are thrown into the air as you make your landing
  1338. >you smash the breaks as you skid to a stop
  1339. >everyone in the vehicle is gasping for air and their hearts are beating loudly
  1340. "looks like we are in the clear, alright everyone welcome home"
  1341. >black hands outside rush to the sides
  1342. >"lord manos sir! are you alright? the princesses could be looking for you, you need to get back soon"
  1343. "alright alright."
  1344. >you climb out of the vehicle
  1345. "Almond pass me that side arm."
  1346. >almond hoofs you the sidearm and magazines
  1347. "least now i have a real weapon on me."
  1348. >you look to the machine
  1349. "if you can, get this back to the crystal kingdom. Aryanne, come with me"
  1350. >Aryanne wobbles out of the vehicle and heaves into a bush
  1351. "once you are done of course"
  1352.  
  1353. >you are Sunset Shimmer
  1354. >and apparently for now you are back on equestrian soil
  1355. >you look back over your pony body
  1356. >you stretch your legs and pop your neck
  1357. "ah feels good to be back."
  1358. >you swish your mane and look around at the ponies here
  1359. "so you werent kidding about this Manos guy?"
  1360. >the black hands are re-organizing themselves
  1361. >the one you think is called Cinnamon walks up to you
  1362. >"of course not, Lord Manos is our god and leader. will would never joke about our faith"
  1363. "a god huh? what makes him a god? you just came from a world filled with humans were any of them gods?"
  1364. >you give Cinnamon a smug grin
  1365. >and immediately receive a hoof to the face
  1366. >you look back to him with a scowl and start to ready your magic
  1367. >then you see the other ponies also get ready for a fight.
  1368. "what the hell was that for?!"
  1369. >"our faith is undying and unquestioning. Lord Manos has sacrificed much for the protection of Equestrians and ponies everywhere."
  1370. "that doesnt make him a god!"
  1371. >Cinnamon takes a step closer his glare intense and savage
  1372. >"lord manos has died three times, he has defeated Sombra, created order from chaos, AND he has predicted events on numerous occasions."
  1373. >you look to the others
  1374. >their faces confirm what Cinnamon has said
  1375. "whatever you say.."
  1376. >you let down your guard
  1377. "what does this have to do with me though?"
  1378. >Cinnamon Smiles
  1379. >"well we need someone to bring supplies back from that other world now dont we?"
  1380. >a Pegasus mare walks up next to cinnamon
  1381. >>"and that somepony would surely become very wealthy, respected, and powerful.."
  1382. "and that someone could be me, right?"
  1383. >"that was the plan."
  1384. >>"interested?"
  1385. >very..
  1386. >very interested indeed
  1387. "im sure we can work something out."
  1388.  
  1389. >you are Luna
  1390. >you never got the chance to speak with Manos
  1391. >he dropped a pretty heavy request.. or more likely, demand and then left.
  1392. "What do you think we should do Sister?"
  1393. >you and Celestia have been in silent thought ever since manos left
  1394. >"Luna, im not sure it matters..."
  1395. "what do you mean?"
  1396. >Celestia stands up and begins to walk out of the room
  1397. >you stand and begin to follow her out
  1398. >she left her cake, this must be serious
  1399.  
  1400. >you are Celestia
  1401. >despite manos saying he doesnt want to rule equestria, you believe he desires that and much more.
  1402. >only problem is, he has just as many ponies with him as you do or perhaps more.
  1403. "Im worried that Manos is trying to do more than just protect equestria Luna i think he wants to rule the entire world"
  1404. >in fact you are sure of it.
  1405. >even if its hard to believe at times you know thats what he desires
  1406. >"are you positive sister? Manos has always been there for us in the end. even if his actions were, questionable"
  1407. >you continue your walk down the halls
  1408. "its those questionable acts that have shown me his intentions. every event thus far has been well within his power to prevent before they even begin, yet he lets them occur. then reaps the glory of being the hero."
  1409. >you let your words hang in the air for a while
  1410. "we cant give him what he wants. if we do then we will be only willingly giving up our freedom."
  1411. >"so what do we do sister?"
  1412. "im not sure Luna.. every action we take has only given him more power. even his rebellion in ponyville once it started to go sour for his ponies he simply changed sides, and the ponies loved him for it."
  1413. >"for killing is own followers?"
  1414. >you nod
  1415. "Manos is more dangerous than he lets on Luna. we cant give him the title he desires.. but we cant just deny his request either. i fear ponies will act, rashly"
  1416. >"perhaps we have him settle for knighthood? a fitting position for a hero, and if he denies it, it would only solidify your evidence against him"
  1417. "i think that might be our only option"
  1418.  
  1419. >you are Cadence
  1420. >and the kingdom is in full scale production mode
  1421. >armors and weapons
  1422. >recruitment and training
  1423. >and of course your favorite
  1424. >Changeling extermination
  1425. "Guards!"
  1426. >a few crystal guards turn to you from their posts
  1427. "has there been any sightings of Sombra? he has been gone for far too long"
  1428. >"negative Ma'am, we have no word on Sombras whereabouts."
  1429. >you have a bad feeling about this sudden disappearance
  1430. "keep me informed. i want to know as soon as he is found, he is a dog that has been on a tight leash, if he broke free then we will have trouble"
  1431. >"yes ma'am"
  1432. >the crystal guards run off to give other guards your orders
  1433. >"so.. Sombra is missing and that could be trouble for us?"
  1434. >you really dont need this right now.
  1435. >>"it could be trouble for everypony, and our commanding officer wants this to be kept quiet. why?"
  1436. >you give a sharp look to those two sisters
  1437. >emerald and Sapphire Shine.
  1438. >Emerald takes a few steps towards you
  1439. >"perhaps this loyal pony is keeping secrets."
  1440. >>"perhaps she isnt as loyal as she lets on, huh sister?"
  1441. >you snap at them
  1442. "thats enough of that! i need to keep this quiet just so panic doesn't spread, the last thing we need now is panic disrupting production"
  1443. >Sapphire looks to her sister
  1444. >>"shes probably right you know. if word got out that Sombra is missing ponies would panic"
  1445. >Emerald just looks to her sister uninterested
  1446. >"as far as im concerned if he is gone that means less trouble for us. but if you are siding with HER"
  1447. >Emerald gives a quick glance to you
  1448. >"then she must be on to something."
  1449. >she then looks to you
  1450. >"what would you have the Gestapo do to assist?"
  1451. "i need ponies on alert. be aware of anything out of the ordinary, Sombra controls fear so he will likely be using that. but dont think he wont have any help.. im sure there are fools out there that would side with him if he gave incentive.. just.. be on alert and keep me informed"
  1452. >the sisters give you a salute
  1453. >"yes Ma'am"
  1454.  
  1455. >you are Manos
  1456. >and you are carrying a very dizzy Aryanne back to Canterlot Castle
  1457. >"ugh.. im sorry sir. i just feel so sick suddenly"
  1458. "it will pass, im sure it was just motion sickness."
  1459. >luckily she stopped heaving
  1460. "but ill need you to be back in top condition before we make it back. we cant have ponies asking too many questions"
  1461. >"yes sir. im sure ill be fine in just a few minutes."
  1462. >you continue your walk, soon you are entering the city
  1463. >you set down Aryanne
  1464. "are you well enough yet?"
  1465. >she takes a few moments to take some breaths
  1466. >and gives you a sieg heil
  1467. >"of course sir, i am your shield"
  1468. "then lets get back inside, im sure the princesses will be looking for me."
  1469.  
  1470. >you are Comet Glow
  1471. >and you are standing guard outside the room Manos assigned you to
  1472. >so far he hasnt returned yet.
  1473. >the sound of hoofsteps echo from the halls and you snap your eyes in its direction
  1474. >you dont leave your position
  1475. >but you do feel uneasy..
  1476. >around the corner comes a group of royal guards
  1477. >they are fully equipped and heading for you
  1478. >"Black Hand. we need to speak with manos, we have a message from the Princesses herself"
  1479. >you turn to them and take a step forward
  1480. "you can give the message to me, i will relay it to Manos once he is available"
  1481. >the gruff pony growls
  1482. >"he should make himself available, the princesses are giving up their precious time for him. have him come out at once!"
  1483. >you stand firm
  1484. "Manos.. is, unavailable. if you need the message delivered you can give it to me, otherwise you can come back in the morning"
  1485. >"we have orders, hand. we speak with manos now."
  1486. >the guards brush you aside and kick open the door
  1487. >the room is empty, Manos is no where to be seen
  1488. "i said he is unavailable. besides. would Manos only have one guard for his room IF he was inside?"
  1489. >the Stallion commander just sneers at you
  1490. >"where is he? now!"
  1491. >you reply in your calmest voice
  1492. "unavailable. please come back in the morning."
  1493. >"if you refuse to give up where manos has gone, then you will be placed under arrest for interfering with royal duties."
  1494. "and ill be released soon after, in the end you will only be giving yourself more paperwork. Royalist."
  1495. >the other guards give you a glare
  1496. >and the Commander looks irate
  1497. >"this is your last chance, hand. where.. is.. manos.."
  1498. >you look the pony straight in the eyes
  1499. "unavailable."
  1500. >the Commander just takes a few steps back and nods to his ponies
  1501. >"if you insist then. Stallions. arrest this pony."
  1502. >>"yes commander"
  1503. >the Stallions approach you
  1504. >three to one?
  1505. >you dont have a chance, no matter how good you think you are
  1506. >they bind you in chains and start to pull you down the hall
  1507. >you dont resist.
  1508. >it would only tire you out.
  1509.  
  1510. >you are Manos
  1511. >and you are now back inside the Castle halls
  1512. >royal guards are giving you side glances or outright scowling at you
  1513. >you tap Aryannes side and quietly speak to her
  1514. "be on your guard. as of this moment its safe to say Canterlot is enemy territory"
  1515. >she doesnt respond to you, but from the changes in her actions you know she heard you
  1516. >she is keeping her eyes on every guard she can
  1517. >and constantly looking for escape routes if they are needed
  1518. >"Ah manos. there you are."
  1519. >you and Aryanne stop and turn to see Princess Luna standing behind you
  1520. "Luna"
  1521. >"My sister and i have searched this castle from the bottom up looking for you. where did you run off to?"
  1522. >you look down to Aryanne
  1523. >her uniform has a few grass stains
  1524. >as does yours
  1525. "I wanted to go for a walk, and enjoy the beautiful night sky. i didnt realize i would have caused a commotion by taking a stroll"
  1526. >you give a smile and light chuckle for emphasis
  1527. "sorry if i caused any problems for you."
  1528. >"none at all. but we did have a issue with one of your guards."
  1529. >comet?
  1530. >are we compromised?
  1531. "what happened?"
  1532. >luna smiles and walks beside you
  1533. >"apparently he was interfering with royal guard duties, we had to detain him. he will be out in the morning"
  1534. "i expect he will be unharmed? my guards have orders to follow after all. if your guards are trying to have him disobey, he will not back down. thats one of the reason he is in my personal squad"
  1535. >"he will be fine, Sister has assured me, and about your... request to become a prince"
  1536. >luna seems to be looking for the right words
  1537. >"its been taken into consideration. but we cant just go out and say you are a prince all of a sudden. at least thats what Celestia says"
  1538. >she gives you a pat with her wing
  1539. >"but im sure we can come to an agreement soon"
  1540. "i hope we do. i have sacrificed much for the ponies of equestria... even close friends"
  1541. >you think back to Coppers death
  1542. >you wouldnt say it out loud but you regret it
  1543. >he may have deserved it, but still. he was one of the first ponies you met
  1544. >and he was a friend
  1545. >now that you are thinking about it. you fear that Bonbon might have had the same fate
  1546. >fate... you are fate.. you could have prevented it if you didnt act so rashly
  1547. >Luna notices you are in though and gives you another tap with her wing
  1548. >"manos are you alright?"
  1549.  
  1550. >you are Luna
  1551. >ever since manos mentioned losing friends he has been walking in silence
  1552. >his eyes seem to be just empty not looking at anything
  1553. >they are distant
  1554. >you tap him with your wing
  1555. "Manos are you alright?"
  1556. >he snaps back to reality again
  1557. >"yeah, yeah im fine. i apologize for that. i havnt had a good sleep in a very long time"
  1558. "i know"
  1559. >manos looks to you
  1560. >"im sorry?"
  1561. "i said i know. i hear you screaming every night. and i look for you trying to help"
  1562. >"i thought you couldnt enter my dreams?"
  1563. "i cant. but you havnt dreamed since you got here have you?'
  1564. >Manos just continues walking
  1565. >eventually he speaks again
  1566. >"how did you know that?"
  1567. "because sister and i were the same when we became what we are. you hear all those voices dont you?"
  1568. >"yes, all at once"
  1569. "so does Celestia. as did I, the voices are much quieter for me now since my return. but celestia.."
  1570. >manos nods
  1571. >"she still does"
  1572.  
  1573. >you are Blackout
  1574. >you have been back in the Crystal kingdom for a good while now
  1575. >however you must have missed manos
  1576. >word has it that he left with a large group of black hands to canterlot earlier
  1577. "least that gives me some time to think.."
  1578. >here no one knows you
  1579. >they dont even know of your connection to manos
  1580. >here you are just another Black Hand
  1581. >you are just another pony.
  1582. >you smile to yourself
  1583. "maybe thats what i need now some peace and quiet."
  1584. >you walk down the streets and see the kingdom in full swing
  1585. >ponies are lining up at recruitment stations
  1586. >stores are selling everything from food, to clothing, to Manos and black hand trinkets.
  1587. >as you walk something catches your eyes
  1588. >a poster..
  1589. >on it is a pony in a black hands uniform, his horn and eyes are glowing with magic as he strikes down a foe
  1590. >the words on the poster read "he will fight the enemy without."
  1591. >and below it says
  1592. >"but who will fight the enemy within? Join the Gestapo or black hands today!"
  1593. >after a moment of interest with the poster you walk on
  1594. >soon there is more
  1595. >the closer you get to the center of town the more propaganda posters are around
  1596. >groups of young colts and fillies gather around them and stare in awe
  1597. >while Stallions and mares give them a glance.. some looking longer than others
  1598. >you look out towards the military square and see lines and lines of ponies.
  1599. >a stallion in crystal armor stands on a platform and speaks to the masses
  1600. >"Manos has declared that we enter full scale war status. he hopes that he can have talks with equestria end in peace"
  1601. >the ponies murmur
  1602. >"but he wants you, the ponies, to be safe. what better way to keep us safe than to have us ready for war in a moments notice?"
  1603. >he then points to the recruitment stations to his left and right
  1604. >"to my left is recruitment for the new crystal guard. and to my right is for lord Manos' own Black Hands, please consider signing up"
  1605. >this place isnt so different from home after all.
  1606.  
  1607. >you are Cadence
  1608. >you have just met up with the Shine Sisters
  1609. "any news? anything at all?"
  1610. >Emerald shakes her head
  1611. >"no, we have nothing on Sombras whereabouts"
  1612. >sapphire chimes in
  1613. >>"but. we do have a few ideas."
  1614. >"a few black hands were with manos when he gave Sombra orders to follow some dignitaries from the Griffon Empire, since then however Sombra has not been seen."
  1615. >>"we believe that Sombra has allied himself with them. as reports of their visit here say it was about making a deal with Manos in regards to going to war with equestria."
  1616. >so sombra has turned traitor?
  1617. >not surprising.
  1618. "i dont understand why he would make it so obvious though.. his legion war progressing in formation, why not wait until its in his hooves until betrayal?"
  1619. >Emerald just laughs
  1620. >"sombra was never a wise leader.. just a powerful one."
  1621. >>"in honesty he probably could have just forgot about them. or perhaps the griffons gave him a better deal if he went now."
  1622. "in either case. we can assume that the griffons dont have the best interests of Equestria at heart."
  1623. >you rub your head for a moment
  1624. >youre not sure what actions to take at this time
  1625. "so. basically what we know is this: Sombra is gone, and the Griffons were his last contacts."
  1626. >"yes. that is all we know."
  1627. >there is a silence as you think of the best course of action
  1628. "alright. end the search for sombra. as of right now we can assume he is with the griffons, keep an eye out for any of those birds in the skies or in our kingdom. they are now one of our biggest threats and must be treated as such."
  1629. >the sisters give you a salute
  1630. >"yes Ma'am, heil Manos"
  1631. "heil manos"
  1632. >you look to your desk filled with papers
  1633. "now ill have to divert resources from my camps.."
  1634. >...
  1635. >or will you?
  1636.  
  1637. >you are a queen
  1638. >today the science ponies have left you alone
  1639. >you enjoy days like that
  1640. >they never hurt you, but they are never very pleasant either.
  1641. >you have been reading the books left for you on your bookshelf
  1642. >the one you are currently reading is about how to spot the differences between changelings and ponies
  1643. >the one you recently finished was on how changelings eat and kill ponies.
  1644. "changeling drones are quite awful creatures.. i see why ponies hate them so."
  1645. >you close the book and levitate it back to the bookshelf
  1646. >your magic has become much easier to wield
  1647. >you can even stop those pesky voices whenever you like.
  1648. "i cannot become like those degenerate changelings. i will be better then that."
  1649. >they can burn up and die for all you care.
  1650. >you are above them and their brutality and vicious nature
  1651. >you are cut off mid thought by a knock on your door.
  1652. >you turn your head to it and stand up facing the door
  1653. "you may enter."
  1654. >you are not sure why, but they always wait for you to 'let' them in
  1655.  
  1656. >You are Cadence
  1657. >you have been watching this bug for her whole life.
  1658. >least since manos put you in charge
  1659. >the scientists need a high ranking officer to observe their studies and you are the only one available
  1660. >you have never entered the room however.
  1661. >you always watched from behind the one way glass.
  1662. >"you may enter"
  1663. >but now its different
  1664. >you open the door and slowly step inside the room
  1665. "hello there queeny."
  1666. >the changeling queen looks confused at your visit
  1667. "we have a slight problem. one that you can be of a great help with"
  1668. >even though you hate to admit it.
  1669. >she might be the only one who can help
  1670. >she takes a few steps forward and takes a seat in front of you
  1671. >"how can i help?"
  1672. >you examine her. she is about the same height as Celestia, her wings are gross and bug-like, her fangs jut from her mouth like that of a animal
  1673. >she is disgusting to look at.
  1674. >just like the rest of them
  1675. "i understand you can control changelings, to make them orderly?"
  1676. >the wretched bug nods
  1677. >"at least in the test the scientists had me perform, i was able to control small groups at once."
  1678. "could you do it with more around? perhaps a few hundred or thousands?"
  1679. >the bug ponders for a moment
  1680. >then she shrugs
  1681. >"i dont see why not. the tests were not very difficult, it came naturally to me. why do you ask?"
  1682. >this could work..
  1683. >besides the fact she is a changeling everything seems to point to it working just like you want it to
  1684. "if i asked you to help me in my work. would you?"
  1685. >the queen blinks
  1686. >"i always help with your work. why would i say no now?"
  1687. "no, you help with science. MY work however.. is much more important."
  1688. >the queen smiles
  1689. >she seems excited to help
  1690. >"what would i be doing?"
  1691. >you grin and take a seat placing several papers out on her table
  1692. "you would be helping me free equestria from a threat so great even the princesses cant comprehend."
  1693. >the queen looks at all the files and papers on the table
  1694. "you would be helping me remove violent and dangerous changelings from the world..."
  1695.  
  1696. >you are Manos
  1697. >you are still walking with Aryanne and Luna back to your room.
  1698. "so Celestia also hears the voices every night?"
  1699. >"i dont know if she hears them every night, but i know she hears them. she has heard them for thousands of years.."
  1700. >could there be a way to silence them?
  1701. >or keep the voices from coming every, single, night.
  1702. "how does she cope with it?"
  1703. >Luna shrugs
  1704. >"im not sure. thats something she would have to tell you."
  1705. >you have reached your room.
  1706. >you look to the door, it has been kicked in.
  1707. >and Comet is, in fact, gone.
  1708. "well. i see your poines were nice enough to knock."
  1709. >you point to the broken hinges
  1710. >"i dont know what happened manos. all i know is what Celestia and the guards told me."
  1711. "Comet will be freed by morning. correct?"
  1712. >Luna nods
  1713. >"of course Manos. Sister said so herself, im sure this was all just a misunderstanding"
  1714. "even if Celestia says otherwise, he is my responsibility and will be out by morning"
  1715. >you walk inside your room
  1716. >Aryanne follows you inside looking around for damages
  1717. >"everything looks fine.. did they really just kick in the door and leave?"
  1718. >you take a seat at the desk in the corner
  1719. "why would they need to search it? i havnt even been here till now."
  1720. >you hear Lunas Hoofsteps echo down the hall softly until they are gone
  1721. "Aryanne. besides the weapon you gave me are the rest all still inside the vehicle?"
  1722. >"yes and they should be on their way back to the Kingdom, im sure Honor Bound will be taking them apart soon"
  1723. >you move your hand down to your sidearm and pat it softly
  1724. "good. those alone can change the future of this world. but this on here."
  1725. >Aryanne looks to the one you are taping
  1726. "this one will be mine. and used by me alone."
  1727. >you pull out the magazines you were given
  1728. >you have three in total each of them pre-loaded
  1729. >you wave Aryanne over to your side
  1730. >you even give her room to sit and watch
  1731. >you take out all twelve of the bullets from the magazine and hold one up to her
  1732. "this is a bullet. composed of mostly lead, copper, and gunpowder."
  1733. >you flip it around to show the back
  1734. "how it works is this point right here, gets hit by what called a firing pin, that causes a small explosion inside the casing"
  1735. >you tap the copper part of the cartridge
  1736. "the force of the explosion propels the top part here"
  1737. >you tap the actual bullet
  1738. "out of the casing and out the barrel of the gun to, hopefully, make contact with your target."
  1739. >Aryanne looks at the bullet
  1740. >"but why use something small like this? couldnt an arrow be more effective?"
  1741. >you smile and pet the pony
  1742. "that depends. but when a bullet makes contact with its target its traveling at such a fast pace that the impact of the bullet will cause more damage than that of an arrow since it is traveling at a faster speed. thats how kinetic energy works, do you know why i explained this to you?"
  1743. >"no sir."
  1744. "because with the basic understanding i just gave you. its possible for us to make more."
  1745.  
  1746. >you are Comet Glow
  1747. >you are currently under arrest for 'interfering with royal duties' or as you call it
  1748. >horseshit
  1749. "this is just a waste of everyponies time..."
  1750. >you are led to a large room and shoved inside
  1751. >the room is empty except for a table and a chair
  1752. >a voice comes from a speaker
  1753. >"please take a seat Mr.Glow."
  1754. >you walk to the chair and take your place
  1755. >there is a buzz and the door in front of you opens.
  1756. >a unicorn mare in gold armor walks inside and places a chair down for herself
  1757. >"Mr. Glow, you are charged for interfering with royal duties, specifically that of the royal guard. but thats not all."
  1758. >she pulls out a few papers from her bag
  1759. >"we have reports of several Black clothed ponies leaving castle grounds with a large object."
  1760. >you remain calm
  1761. >panicking is what they want you to do.
  1762. >you panic you make mistakes
  1763. >the mare then looks to another paper
  1764. >"and the same night, last night, we have found that there are two missing guardsponies AND a missing artifact from the archives."
  1765. >she places the papers on the table
  1766. >"do you know anything about this?"
  1767. "no. i was on guard duty, in the same spot the guards found me."
  1768. >she just looks at you.
  1769. >her horn glows and a small spell is cast in the room
  1770. >in a very calm voice the mare responds
  1771. >"im sorry could you please repeat that. i forgot to cast that spell..."
  1772. "what spell was it?"
  1773. >she ignores the question
  1774. >"please repeat your answer."
  1775. "i already gave you my answer. and im sure the ponies on the other side of that one way over there all heard it."
  1776. >you nod to the large mirror
  1777. "like i said before, you're wasting everyponies time"
  1778.  
  1779. >you are Celestia
  1780. >and you have one onf Manos' ponies in your interrogation room
  1781. >why did manos take the mirror?
  1782. >you know it was him and his hands, you just dont have evidence. besides a single witness's statement.
  1783. >and that isnt enough..
  1784. >you look to the mare inside
  1785. >she was always one of your best when dealing with criminals
  1786. "if anyone can get a pony ton confess its her."
  1787.  
  1788. >you are Comet Glow
  1789. >the mare lazily rubs her eye calmly
  1790. >"alright, then we can just move on.. im going to ask you very simple questions and you will answer them, or you will be held here longer."
  1791. >she looks down to her notes
  1792. >"what is your name?"
  1793. "princess Celestia."
  1794. >the mares horn glows and you feel a sharp pain in your head causing you to flinch
  1795. >she looks at you and speaks in a very even tone
  1796. >"are you ok? you looked like you had a moment there.. sorry about that. lets go on to the next question. whats your outfit?"
  1797. "my outfit is a standard issue Black Hands Uniform"
  1798. >"very funny. but thats not what i meant."
  1799. "no, its just what you asked."
  1800. >the mare smiles
  1801. >"i hope you dont have plans tonight."
  1802. >you try to relax in your seat
  1803. "dont worry, i have plenty of time for you."
  1804. >"easy now."
  1805. >she giggles
  1806. >"i might be a bit more than you can handle... now, why did you take the mirror?"
  1807. "i didnt take anything."
  1808. >not entirely a lie.
  1809. >no pain in your head either.
  1810. >"where is it being moved to?"
  1811. "how would i know that?"
  1812. >"you are a Black Hand yes?"
  1813. "yes i am."
  1814. >"then you were part of Manos' operation here?"
  1815. "there have been many Operations."
  1816. >you give her a smug grin
  1817. "you will need to be much more specific"
  1818. >you are going to make this as hard as possible for them.
  1819. >you're sure Manos would be proud
  1820.  
  1821. >you are manos
  1822. >and now is the time of night you have started to dread.
  1823. >you turn from your desk and look at the bed.
  1824. "the worst part of the night.."
  1825. >you look back to the magazines and sidearm on the desk
  1826. >you proceed to load and unload the mags
  1827. "i can go a night without it.. i cant stand the voices.."
  1828. >the faint glow of a candle on the corner of your desk is all the light in your room
  1829. >besides the natural light of the large moon in the sky just outside your window
  1830. >*click*
  1831. >*click*
  1832. >*click*
  1833. >one at a time each round gets placed inside the magazine
  1834. >you slide the mag inside the sidearm and chamber a round.
  1835. >you then release the round again and slide the mag out and remove each round
  1836. "ill be fine with one night without sleep.."
  1837. >just need to focus on something.
  1838. >*click*
  1839. >*click*
  1840.  
  1841. >you are Comet Glow
  1842. >and this interrogation has been going on for hours now.
  1843. >you are sure than both you and everyone involved are getting short on patience
  1844. >"just tell me why you Hands took the damn mirror?!"
  1845. >there is a sharp pain in your skull as you try and laugh it off
  1846. "i dont know what you're talking about.. we never took anything that isnt our own."
  1847. >another sharp pain
  1848. >the mare sighs
  1849. >"look i can do this all night, make it easier on yourself.. please?"
  1850. >you mumble to yourself
  1851. >"what was that?"
  1852. >she leans in closer to hear you
  1853. >you mumble it again
  1854. >"speak up!"
  1855. "i said heil manos, we are his faithful hands, we are his children of-- GAH!"
  1856. >the pain in your head is increasing
  1857. >a voice calls out over the speaker
  1858. >>"thats enough for now. we can continue this later..."
  1859. "awh.. is our date over?"
  1860. >the mare laughs as she walks out.
  1861. >"we will have to do this again soon. tata"
  1862. >she has a nice flank..
  1863.  
  1864. >you are Manos
  1865. >and its early in the morning
  1866. >you know this because the sun happens to rise right in front of your window.
  1867. >you look up at the sun hoping that its glow will help wake you.
  1868. >it does, but only slightly
  1869. >you stand up and pocket your sidearm
  1870. >you slide the extra mags in your extra pockets and close your jacket concealing them from view
  1871. >Honor should have been getting his hooves into your recent 'shipment'
  1872. "Aryanne, you good to go?"
  1873. >Aryanne opens the door
  1874. >"Yes lord, ready when you are."
  1875. >you walk out of the room Aryanne in tow
  1876. "first things first. we get Comet out, after that we meet with Celestia and Luna about my requests, then we leave for home."
  1877. >"understood sir."
  1878. >the walk down the long halls of canterlot castle are always enjoyable
  1879. >the large painted windows somehow always have the light of the sun hitting them just right
  1880. >the banners flow gently in the breeze and the white walls seem to shine in the sunlight
  1881. "i envy this place, its always so beautiful to look at.. as if its all one large work of art."
  1882. >guards at their posts all eye you as you walk by
  1883. >you couldnt care less
  1884. >you approach the dining hall where Luna and Celestia always meet for their breakfasts/dinners
  1885. >the guards stop you before you enter
  1886. >"halt, its the princesses private dining time. if you wish to speak with them you can do so at a later time."
  1887. >thats new
  1888. "very well. tell the princesses i expect their answer to come soon."
  1889. >the guards look to one another then back to you
  1890. >"answer for what?"
  1891. "about my position of power"
  1892. >you turn and begin to walk down the halls again straight to the dungeons
  1893. >you know the way by heart now.
  1894.  
  1895. >you are Sombra.
  1896. >and your deal with the Griffons is better than anything Manos or Celestia are willing to provide.
  1897. >and even split..
  1898. "Everything that is taken. from land.. to riches. you get me my kingdom back and you get equestria."
  1899. >"you think that your word alone will be enough to start a war over? hardly.."
  1900. >you laugh
  1901. "of course not. thats why i have something you might be interested in.. at least.. its location."
  1902. >Zephyrus takes a step closer
  1903. >"oh? and what would that be?"
  1904. >you grin wide
  1905. "do you know of the elements of chaos?.. i know where they are, if you help me strike at Equestria and the Crystal Kingdom they ca be all yours.."
  1906. >the griffons look to one another
  1907. >"Elements of chaos you say? that could put us at a equal strength with the most powerful magics in equestria.."
  1908. >it seems they are interested in your deal.
  1909. >"we accept your deal Sombra.."
  1910. >the griffons lead you out to a spot over looking their rallying fields
  1911. >in the fields are thousands of griffons fighting and snapping at one another all of them in armors and wielding various weapons
  1912. >"where should we strike first?.."
  1913. >the only place that both parties desire...
  1914. "the center."
  1915.  
  1916.  
  1917. >you are Comet Glow
  1918. >after your little chat with the ponies in gold you were led back to a cell and chained up
  1919. >you can see faint sunlight shining in from various windows
  1920. "seems my night is over."
  1921. >you can hear hoofsteps on stone
  1922. >they are getting closer and closer
  1923. >"he is right in here..."
  1924. >a stallion in gold armor leads Aryanne right to your cell
  1925. >>"well well. you look a little tied up. perhaps i should come back later."
  1926. "ha ha Very funny commander. mind getting me out of here?"
  1927. >Aryanne nods
  1928. >>"alright lets go then."
  1929. >the guard opens the cell door and unlocks your chains
  1930. >>"make any new friends while you were away?"
  1931. "yeah in fact i spent the night with a nice looking mare."
  1932. >>"i bet she was charming, now come on. Manos is waiting for us"
  1933. >the guard escorts you two back to the entrance of the dungeon
  1934.  
  1935. >you are Manos
  1936. >you stand by the entrance to the dungeon keeping an eye on the guards there
  1937. >you thought it would be best to have someone by the door
  1938. >being locked inside a prison isnt something you want to deal with
  1939. >you look to each of the guards, there are a good few here
  1940. >and again there seems to be a split right down the middle
  1941. >almost half of the guards are giving you strong glares
  1942. >while the others bow their heads when you look at them
  1943. >that of course then gets them glares from the others
  1944. >some of the Royalist guards mumble
  1945. >"traitors" or "Hand worshiping bastards" as those few bow their heads
  1946. >you give them a nod back all the justification they need to still stand tall against the hate of the other guards
  1947. >>"lord manos, we are all set."
  1948. >you turn to see Aryanne and Comet walking up from the lower cells
  1949. "good, how was your break Comet?"
  1950. >"oh it was lovely. had a few drinks, met a nice mare. you know usual R&R stuff."
  1951. "well then im sure you wont mind it being cut a little short. we still have a lot of work ahead of us."
  1952. >"yes sir. I am your shield"
  1953. >you turn to walk out of the dungeon
  1954. >as you do you hear a few voices say "heil manos"
  1955. >you dont look back as you and your personal guards start out to exit Canterlot
  1956.  
  1957. >you are Luna
  1958. >you are eating your dinner with your sister as she is eating her breakfast
  1959. >she looks tired. like she has been up all night
  1960. "sister are you ok?"
  1961. >Celestia looks up from her pancakes
  1962. >"yes Luna, im fine. just had some trouble sleeping last night"
  1963. >could it have been the voices like manos?
  1964. "oh, i see. sorry sister. i hope your rest tonight will be better. if you like i could try to help"
  1965. >"oh. no ill be fine luna. it wasnt anything to bad. just was up all night with work and.. well. i just had it on my mind"
  1966. "what kind of work?"
  1967. >Celestia just looks back to her food and takes a bite
  1968. >nothing really worth discussing now...
  1969.  
  1970. >you are Honor Bound
  1971. >last night was definitely an exciting one
  1972. >you were notified by guards at the gate that an odd contraption was stopped
  1973. >and inside were several of your black hands as well as another mare
  1974. >since then it has been brought to R&D for study
  1975. >along with the other black hands for any information they can give
  1976. "so what is this?"
  1977. >Almond Heart explains
  1978. >"this is some transport Manos himself picked out of the other world on the other side of the mirror"
  1979. >wait a second
  1980. "the what now?"
  1981. >Cinnamon Pop escorts you over to the back of the transport
  1982. >>"this is the mirror, its a portal to another world, apparently its like a mix between ours and Manos' own home."
  1983. >you examine the piece
  1984. "this? is a gateway to a world like Manos' own?"
  1985. >>"similar, but as manos said it cant hold a candle to his own. also inside that world.. we captured these.."
  1986. >cinnamon lifts a few oddly shaped devices from the transports back and lays them out on the table
  1987. "and what exactly are these?"
  1988. >"these Sir Honor, are what manos called sidearms"
  1989. >Almond Heart picks up one of the pistols in her mouth then sets it back down
  1990. >"they function like a crossbow, the fire a projectile out the end. this one here is loaded with twelve shots"
  1991. >Cinnamon then levitates one of the the larger ones
  1992. >>"and this one with eight, and apparently this one is far more powerful than the smaller ones."
  1993. "how do they operate? and what projectiles to they fire?"
  1994. >in the background you see many of your scientists actively taking notes
  1995. >>"the way manos explained it was you load these into the bottom of the weapon then simply pull the trigger."
  1996. >she taps a magazine with her hoof
  1997. >then walks over to the larger one
  1998. >"but this one you load from here with red cylinder things"
  1999. >she attempts to pump the shotgun
  2000. >after a moment she gets it and a shell gets ejected
  2001. >walking over she pick it up and shows it to you
  2002. >Cinnamon then takes it in his magical grip and loads it
  2003. >>"and thats pretty much what we know"
  2004. "has one of these been fired yet? any tests to see if they even work?"
  2005. >the two ponies look to one another, then Almond speaks
  2006. >"no sir, we didnt really have time to do so. the operation was more of a smash and grab"
  2007. "alright, then you are dismissed"
  2008. >the Black hands leave the room for some well deserved rest
  2009. >well then looks like you need to test them
  2010. >you look over to your scientists
  2011. "alright get us a test set up. i want these devices tested, and if possible taken apart and reconstructed. if Manos himself would choose these over anything we have then ill bet my life they are better."
  2012. >the scientists look ecstatic
  2013. >"yes sir honor bound. right away."
  2014. >they rush out to set up their many new tests
  2015. >you look over at the smaller one and lift it with your magic
  2016. "it seems rather simple to me."
  2017. >you see the end where the projectile comes out and the spot clearly made for a creature like Manos to hold it.
  2018. >you turn it around and look at the bottom hollowed part
  2019. >then over to the metal boxes, you lift one over and slide it in till you hear a click
  2020. "so.. its armed then?"
  2021. >you pull the lever in the center.
  2022. >*click*
  2023. "huh.. must be broken or something."
  2024. >after fiddling with the device you see the top slides back
  2025. >you slide back the top and hear a kind of 'racking' noise
  2026. "ah ha! i think thats it."
  2027. >you point the device at a poster and pull the lever again
  2028. >there is a sudden explosion and you drop the weapon and make a shield around you
  2029. "WHAT WAS THAT?!"
  2030. >your eyes dart around the room looking for damage
  2031. >you shout out the door
  2032. "GET ME A REPORT ON THAT NOISE ASAP! WHAT WENT WRONG!"
  2033. >your ears are still ringing
  2034. >guards walk into the room and secure it
  2035. >"sir bound! are you alright? we heard an explosion and came aas soon as we could!"
  2036. >you look around to the device
  2037. >the small barrel is smoking
  2038. >you then look to the wall at the poster
  2039. >there is a hole in the poster.. a hole that goes deep into the wall.
  2040. "we defiantly need more of those."
  2041.  
  2042. >you are Manos
  2043. >you are almost out into the streets of Canterlot
  2044. >you dont mind taking the main street out of the city.
  2045. >most of the ponies here give you polite greetings or bowing of their heads
  2046. >but there are also some who spit as you walk by.
  2047. >Aryanne and Comet are all to eager to 'correct' their manners
  2048. "ah ah, stay close. no need to cause a scene out here."
  2049. >the two settle for giving those ponies a glare and come back to your sides
  2050. >"whatever you say lord."
  2051. >Comet stays silent as he walks the street beside you
  2052. "well lets take the main gate out..."
  2053. >you point out the largest gate with many guards on it.
  2054. >Aryanne looks over to you
  2055. >"why would you want to go out that way? we already have a planned exit at the north gate."
  2056. "because Aryanne. its a good way to find out i i still have this place in my hands."
  2057. >perhaps she understood or perhaps she just wasnt going to question orders but she nodded
  2058. "alright then. lets go out the main gate."
  2059. >you and your little bodyguard group walk right to the largest gate in Canterlot.
  2060. >the gate usually only opened for large shipments, parades, celebrations, and military movement.
  2061. >will be opened.. just for you to walk out.
  2062. >you are walking to the largest gate in Canterlot
  2063. >its large white walls rise to touch the sun himself
  2064. >golden armor on the pony guards shine like sprinkles of golden sunlight
  2065. "its beautiful.."
  2066. >your guards look to the large gate.
  2067. >they dont seem to see the beauty in it like you do.
  2068. >but they dont argue
  2069. >Aryanne speaks first
  2070. >"it is.. something. thats for sure."
  2071. >>"i grew up here.. ive seen it so many times it just looks like a wall to me."
  2072. "sometimes you need to take a moment.. and just enjoy the things right in front of you. you dont know how long you will have them. and when they are gone... they're gone."
  2073. >you take a few steps forward getting closer and closer to the gate.
  2074. >a few guards ponies in ornate armors look to you
  2075. >"Halt. this is the gate of canterlot. only royal dignitaries and military officials can have access beyond this point."
  2076. >you are too lost in the intricate stone work and gold plating to mind their orders to you.
  2077. "Aryanne... if you please. let them know im here..."
  2078. >Aryanne just looks to you confused.
  2079. >then back to the guards.
  2080. >"uhm what should I.."
  2081. >she then looks above them, to the ponies in the gatehouse.
  2082. >the normal pony guards working the gate controls.
  2083. >"Lord Manos wishes to leave Canterlot. Open the gate in the name of Manos! SIEG HEIL!"
  2084. >Comet glow and Aryanne snap and give a sieg heil
  2085. >for a moment there is silence
  2086. >then the guard in his ornate armor speaks
  2087. >"this is property of the Sister Princesses and the bloodline of Canterlot! we shall not open for---"
  2088. >he is cut off my the sound of chains moving and loud cranks turning.
  2089. >"WHAT IS THIS! YOU THERE IN THE GATE HOUSE CEASE THIS ACTION!"
  2090. >you just admire the large gate, made of the hardest metals and lined with perfect gold trim slowly creep open
  2091. >ponies in the streets stop their own routines to take a look at the scene
  2092. >you stand in the center with Aryanne and Comet at your side as the large gate opens
  2093. >the sun rays lighting up the gold as it opens.
  2094. >just for you.
  2095.  
  2096. >you are Honor Bound
  2097. >and its time for the first set of tests of these new weapons from the other world
  2098. >there is a target in full gold armor around fifty or so hooves away and a small wall built behind the firing position
  2099. >you volunteered to be the one to use the weapon
  2100. >you look over to the scientists behind the wall they each have their clipboards and notes ready
  2101. >then you look the other way a single pony in a white lab coat stands next to you observing the weapon in action
  2102. "alright range is clear. ill be operating this weapon. ready for test in three."
  2103. "two"
  2104. "one"
  2105. >a loud blast comes from the weapon
  2106. >some of the scientists cover their ears while a few just scramble for cover.
  2107. >"what was that!?"
  2108. >>"is everypony ok?!"
  2109. >"sir Honor bound are you harmed?!"
  2110. >you lower the weapon and look down range.
  2111. >your shot wasn't perfect. but you did hit the target
  2112. >you empty the weapon and place it on the table
  2113. "weapon is clear."
  2114. >"what? was that the device? just a loud noise?"
  2115. >you give a nod to the target and the ponies look
  2116. >a small chuck of the armor has been removed where you hit
  2117. >you approach the target with your scientists and turn it around
  2118. >the other side of the target has a hole going inside
  2119. "remove the armor"
  2120. >"sir?"
  2121. "remove it"
  2122. >the ponies start to remove the armor off of the target.
  2123. >inside the target there is a large scrambled area of the magic gel used to simulate a body
  2124. >the scientists take measurements and see how far the little metal piece has gone
  2125. >>"sir according to our notes.. this is a lethal and very effecient weapon."
  2126. "if manos prefers it. it is the best. alright! get ready for another set of tests! and get me a new target!"
  2127.  
  2128. >you are Sombra
  2129. >and you are ready to strike...
  2130. >but its not your own kingdom you are attacking first.. no..
  2131. >you want to strike at the heart of this whole thing.
  2132. >you want to strike the place Manos first gained power.
  2133. >you and your griffons have been sneaking through pony controlled land for days now.
  2134. >its quite appalling at how easily you were able to get here.
  2135. >"a bunch of small outposts and villages... is this the great war you were promising us Sombra?"
  2136. "stop your complaining Griffon... you will get your spoils. no, our target is only a few more miles away."
  2137. >"and what target is that? Pony?"
  2138. "Ponyville... the city of Ponyville. with the great castle of Manos. and still considered property of Celestia."
  2139. >"a small village? really?"
  2140. "heheh.. if the stories i have heard are correct.. its not a village anymore.."
  2141.  
  2142. >you are Manos
  2143. >you are waiting for a carriage to be.. requisitioned from the guards.
  2144. >a few loyal Pegasi and a few moments of your time is all it will take to get home.
  2145. >after a few minutes of waiting and a royal carriage lands right in front of you.
  2146. >"lord manos. we are honored to escort you back."
  2147. "thank you. im sure this simple task has put great risk on your rank.. once we arrive if you wish you may keep your rank and pay rate as a Black hand."
  2148. >"thank you lord. but our place is here. this is simply a way to prove you still have friends in the guard"
  2149. "ill remember this kindness"
  2150. >you and your guards step inside 'your' carriage and you are soon on your way back to the crystal kingdom
  2151.  
  2152. >you are Celestia
  2153. >and you were just informed by your guards of manos' exit.
  2154. >you rub your head
  2155. "he just asked for it to open?.."
  2156. >"yes princess. he simply asked and it opened up"
  2157. "and he was given one of our carriages?"
  2158. >the guard nods
  2159. >"and ma'am he says he expects your decision on his position to be sent to him when you have made it."
  2160. "of course he does.."
  2161.  
  2162. >you are manos
  2163. >you are back at the gates of Crystal Kingdom
  2164. "thank you for the ride gentlemen."
  2165. >"you're welcome lord. its our honor to serve you."
  2166. >you give them a nod and they take back to the sky returning to their posts in Canterlot
  2167. >Aryanne and Comet stand beside you as you turn back to the gate in front of you
  2168. >the guards in the gatehouse see you and immediately begin to open the gate
  2169. >"Welcome back lord. we started to worry!"
  2170. >>"Heil Manos!"
  2171. >you step inside your kingdoms walls
  2172. >its been a while since you were in the streets of the outer city.
  2173. >ponies in the streets give you sieg heils and salutes
  2174. >even those who dont still give you a nod or bow to show respect
  2175. >everyone here is completely loyal to you.
  2176. >much like those of ponyville city.
  2177. >speaking of which.
  2178. >you still need to get a report from blackout
  2179. "Aryanne, Comet."
  2180. >"yes lord Manos?"
  2181. "i have a final mission for you before you get your well deserved rest."
  2182. >"what is it sir?"
  2183. "find blackout, she needs to report to me still about the operation in ponyville. once word has reached her consider yourselves off duty for the day."
  2184. >your faithful guards nod and rush out to find blackout as soon as possible.
  2185. >while you yourself continue to walk the streets enjoying the sights of a city in motion.
  2186.  
  2187. >you are Honor Bound
  2188. >you and the scientists of R&D now have a pretty good understanding of how the weapons work.
  2189. >the ones left are being disassembled and each step recorded so they can be rebuilt and eventually produced.
  2190. >of course there will need to be a few changes for pony use.
  2191. >the 'triggers' are made more for claws than hooves. though unicorns wont have much issue with it
  2192. "alright. now we need to understand this machine.."
  2193. >a separate team of scientists have been assembled to focus on the transport
  2194. >a science pony in a white and red lab coat moves in and opens the doors
  2195. >after struggling to get inside for a moment he is soon in the driving position
  2196. "alright what does it look like?"
  2197. >"it looks like.. well theres a lot to look at. it seems pretty complex."
  2198. "well do your best to record it all, you are to focus on the interior"
  2199. >you look over to the other four scientists
  2200. "two of you are to focus on the exterior of this machine. while the rest of you.."
  2201. >you walk over to the front of the transport
  2202. >using your magic you open up the hood and look inside
  2203. "are to figure out how this interior area works. specifically this!"
  2204. >you tap the large engine in the center of the device
  2205. >the unicorns look giddy to start to examine such a high-tech piece of otherworldly technology
  2206. >"yes sir, we will get on it right away! everything down to the last inch will be recorded!"
  2207. >>"and we will know how this device works inside and out in no time!"
  2208. "good. i expect a report on it on my desk within a few days. and a preliminary report by the end of the day."
  2209. >your eggheads nod and quickly get to work
  2210. >then there is a knock on the lab door
  2211. >"sir honor Lord Manos is requesting a meeting with you. he is waiting in the main room"
  2212. >duty calls.
  2213.  
  2214. >you are a queen
  2215. >or as the pink one calls you. 'queeny'
  2216. >its not that bad of a name. and its better than just 'bug'
  2217. >today Cadence is taking you to her personal office in her camp
  2218. >"what i am about to show you Queeny, is the whole reason Manos has gained so much support"
  2219. >you walk closely behind her
  2220. >the intimidating building comes into view
  2221. >large walls surround it with intricate statues of Manos on each of the corners
  2222. >over the entrance gate there is a large bust of Cadence the stone eyes watching everyone who enters or exits
  2223. >like the watchful eyes of an angry god
  2224. >as you walk below it you feel as if its eyes are following you
  2225. >you can almost feel its content for everything you are
  2226. >a little further inside you see many ponies in black all of their faces covered with marks of their station
  2227. >a crystal heart
  2228. >you look to your left and right and you see large barbwire fences with changelings staring just on the other side
  2229. >do you dare let the voice speak to you?..
  2230. >you pause for a moment and let down your guard
  2231. >suddenly you are barraged with cries for help and screams of pain
  2232. >"help us! please!"
  2233. >>"It hurts! please stop the pain!!"
  2234. >"the queen is here.."
  2235. >>"the queen?"
  2236. >"im so tired.. i feel so weak.. perhaps if i just close my eyes and rest.."
  2237. >then what surprises you is there are a few voices that are angry at others
  2238. >"GET back to work you useless drones! no wonder they hate us!"
  2239. >>"if we were all as weak and lazy as you then we would have died off long ago!"
  2240. >you look to where the voices are coming from and see three large changelings with red bands on their legs beating a smaller one
  2241. >"thats enough with this one. lets move on, im sure there are more drones lazing about!"
  2242. >the three larger warriors move on to harass and intimidate workers but are stopped by a black hand
  2243. >you can hear her voice in the distance though its much quieter
  2244. >"that drone is useless.. it has no purpose anymore. end it."
  2245. >she turns and walks away as the three warrior class turn back and attack the broken drone
  2246. >what is this place?
  2247.  
  2248. >you are Cadence
  2249. >you turn around to see queeny looking at a disciplinary squad
  2250. >you smile and walk over to her
  2251. "as you can see. SOME changelings are worth keeping around. if only to keep others in line."
  2252. >Queeny doesnt seem to react
  2253. "well. lets get inside. we still have much to discuss."
  2254. >you lead her back to your office and take a seat
  2255. >she takes the seat across from you.
  2256. >the seat across from you was intentionally made to be shorter
  2257. >just so you look more intimidating
  2258. "so. you saw a quick preview of our little operation.. and as you can see some of the pests are very.. unruly"
  2259. >queeny nods
  2260. "But! if a queen was in control.."
  2261. >"then there would be better efficiency and order in your camps"
  2262. >thats the first time a changeling has intentionally made you smile
  2263. "exactly, SO, are you interested?.."
  2264.  
  2265. >you are Aryanne
  2266. >Comet glow is with you as you both look for Blackout
  2267. >"commander if you were blackout.. where would you be?"
  2268. "let me think for a moment.."
  2269. >Blackout is a efficient killer and has probably seen more combat then either of you
  2270. "so.. if i was like that"
  2271. >you look around town for a moment
  2272. "id either be downing myself in Cider"
  2273. >you spot a bar with lots of drunk ponies laughing and having drunken antics
  2274. "or id just want to be somewhere quiet and alone with my thoughts."
  2275. >Comet is all to eager to get searching.
  2276. >"well commander. i think i can bite the bit here and check out that bar. for the mission of course.."
  2277. >you roll your eyes at him
  2278. "fine, if by some miracle she happens to be in THAT bar, that you always love to drink at. come and find me."
  2279. >"of course ma'am! ill be very through in my search"
  2280. >he gives you a salute and rushes off to get himself plastered
  2281. "looks like its up to me now.."
  2282. >you start to walk down the streets of the kingdom
  2283. >in the distance you see Cinnamon Pop and Almond heart enjoying some R&R at a nearby restaurant
  2284. >why arnt they in uniform? they always go out in uniform..
  2285. >you start to walk up to the two when you see Almond blushing and giggling at something Cinnamon said
  2286. >wait, Almond heart is in a dress.. and Cinnamon is dressed casually
  2287. >and they are smiling
  2288. >ooohh
  2289. "perhaps ill ask for their help later.."
  2290. >you hurriedly make yourself scarce so they dont spot their commander watching them
  2291. >you are still on duty, and you have more important things to worry about than two ponies on a date
  2292.  
  2293. >you are Blackout
  2294. >you have been spending most of your time in the park
  2295. >you sit quietly under a tree as a few of the local musicians play nearby
  2296.  
  2297. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHf4pvm-gGM [Embed] Violin & Cello Duo
  2298.  
  2299. >its nice to just relax
  2300. >you havnt had a moment like this since before..
  2301. >before the surgeries.
  2302. >you try to shake those thoughts away
  2303. "come on just relax"
  2304. >you start to recline against the tree when you see a familiar pony walking on a nearby hill
  2305.  
  2306. >you are manos
  2307. >you examine the notes a few of the scientists have taken on the weapons you brought
  2308. >they seem to have a pretty good idea already on how they work
  2309. >course understanding a weapon and building one are two different things
  2310. >you hand the clipboard back to the Unicorn
  2311. "im pleased with how quickly you are learning about these weapons"
  2312. >"we do our best lord. luckily the devices are assembled quite simply, we might even be able to start building our own soon"
  2313. "how about your studies on ammunition?"
  2314. >the unicorn looks to a earth pony scientist over at a desk
  2315. >"HEY! Quick Learning!"
  2316. >the pony looks over his shoulder
  2317. >>"yeah?"
  2318. >"how are the studies on the projectiles coming?"
  2319. >the earth pony waves you and the unicorn over
  2320. >>"its going pretty well. the only problem is im not.. exactly sure whats in this small powder."
  2321. >he points to the small pile of gunpowder on the table
  2322. >>"could you identify it with a spell or something?"
  2323. >the unicorn laughs
  2324. >>"who do i look like? Mineral Hammer? he knows more about stuff like that than i do."
  2325. >"well go get him then! i cant just sit around all day guessing at what it is now can i?!"
  2326. >you laugh a bit at the casual nature your scientists have in your presence
  2327. "its like im not even here.."
  2328. >your two ponies look back to you suddenly embarrassed
  2329. >"sorry lord manos. we get so wrapped up in out work, we sometimes forget our manners"
  2330. "ill leave you to it then."
  2331. >you look back to the door and see Honor Bound waiting there for you
  2332. "i have business to discuss"
  2333. >you and Honor soon start to walk down the halls
  2334. >but you overhear the two brains in the lab
  2335. >"well good going Mythic, you could have got us in hot water!"
  2336. >>"me? i just asked you about the projectiles then you--"
  2337. >soon you are far enough away the voices just turn to babble
  2338. "So Honor bound. how goes the project."
  2339. >you are of course referring to your tanks
  2340. >"Lord Manos, with the new devices you gave us. we will have it running in no time."
  2341. >walking the halls of this lab is starting to become a routine.
  2342. >"we have already been taking apart the transport you brought us. that device inside.."
  2343. "the engine."
  2344. >"yes the engine, appears to be the heart and soul of the whole thing. what exactly does it convert into energy?"
  2345. "Gasoline. a mix of various chemicals and water that are easily combustible, i dont expect us to have much of it on hand here. if any in this world. so im sure you will find a reasonable substitute."
  2346. >Honor bound nods his head
  2347. >"we will certainly do our best, you dont happen to have any as an example do you?"
  2348. >you both enter the main room with the large vehicle half stripped
  2349. "the only available amount i have would be in here"
  2350. >you walk up to the gas tank and give it a lift
  2351. >you can hear a very small amount of liquid inside still
  2352. >"ah we thought that would be the fuel. but we werent positive."
  2353. >you point to a bucket stashed in the corner
  2354. "bring that here please"
  2355. >a pony in a lab coat hurriedly brings you the bucket
  2356. >you tip the tank and pour the last remains of gasoline inside
  2357. "well.. these things are gas guzzlers"
  2358. >there is only a small amount in the bucket
  2359. >probably enough to fill half a bottle of water
  2360. >you set down the gas tank
  2361. "take that to the labs and have it studied for a replacement fuel. without that we wont have anything to work with"
  2362. >a female voice speaks up from behind you
  2363. >>"speaking of working with, why was i brought here? i had a whole plan set up and now its ruined."
  2364. >you turn to see Sunset Shimmer along with another scientist
  2365. >you look to honor bound
  2366. "why is she in a government protected lab?"
  2367. >Honor is quick to defend himself
  2368. >"Lord manos, we were told she was living in the human world. we brought her here for scientific insight"
  2369. >you sigh
  2370. "very well. Sunset. one: your plan fails. and two: i have a much more effective way for you to gain power."
  2371. >"well what is your plan then, if its so much better?"
  2372. >oh bacon hair you better learn to watch that mouth of yours
  2373.  
  2374. >you are Sunset Shimmer
  2375. >and since your plan was ruined by a random human you are stuck back on square one
  2376. >Manos takes a few steps closer to you and squats down to be at your eye level
  2377. >"listen here Bacon hair."
  2378. >bacon hair?
  2379. >"you little plan fails, for a few reasons. one: its a dumb plan, two: you take way too long to do it, and three: you next plan to invade with a army of Teenagers.. with absolutely NO military background or training is preposterous!"
  2380. 'h-h-how did you?"
  2381. >how did he know exactly what your plan was?
  2382. >"BUT if you have a army, trained, equipped"
  2383. >Manos looks over to Honor bound
  2384. >"and loyal to the end"
  2385. >Honor seems to stand a bit taller with a smug grin on his face
  2386. >"then you might get somewhere. but of course you also have absolutely no logistical plan, so eventually that would fail too."
  2387. >you huff
  2388. "its really easy to tear apart someone elses ideas. let hear your plan then!"
  2389. >Manos chuckles to himself
  2390. >"no no.. revealing a plan is just as bad as not having one."
  2391. >he stands back up and walks over to honor bound
  2392. >"but.. i will let you in on what i have in mind for you."
  2393. >you watch him as he reaches into his pocket
  2394. >he turns around holding a pistol
  2395. >and he points it right at you.
  2396. "what the hell!?"
  2397. >you pull up a shield as fast as you can and close your eyes waiting for the bang
  2398. >but it never comes
  2399. >looking back you see manos is just smiling
  2400. >"see that? when you make the first move, others have to react to it. giving you control over the situation."
  2401. >he holsters the gun
  2402. >you take a breath of relief, you dont know if magic can even stop a bullet
  2403. >maybe it can slow it down so it wont kill you if you are good enough
  2404. >"now my idea for you. is not to be the gun i pointed at you."
  2405. >he taps a magazine he has sticking out of his pocket
  2406. >"but to be the ammunition i have in reserve."
  2407. "what does that even mean?.."
  2408. >"you want to own that stupid little high-school? fine its yours. i dont care. but i want things from that world brought here."
  2409. "so im going to be a errand girl? just going fucking shopping while you get everything out of this?"
  2410. >manos huffs.
  2411. >"you know. out of all the ponies ive met, the princesses included, you are already giving me the most trouble."
  2412. >you have a small grin on your face
  2413. >its a small victory, but a victory none the less
  2414. >"ill give you the manpower and resources to take that stupid mockery world if you can help me take this one. is that a good enough deal for you?"
  2415. >for a moment you just look at manos
  2416. >is he serious?
  2417. "are you serious right now? you think that i could take that world? theres a reason i wanted to take my army here!"
  2418. >"ah but i think with the magic in this one. and our combined knowledge of the other world, we could easily surpass even that ones technology."
  2419. "you are crazy you know that right?"
  2420. >he just smiles at you.
  2421. >but somehow.. it seems to be believable.
  2422. "fine.. but ill need ponies to go there with me. and they will need to listen to every order i give."
  2423. >Manos clicks his tongue
  2424. >"done, i have a perfect group already assembled. i was originally going to give them to sombra. but.. i think you are a much better fit."
  2425.  
  2426. >you are Manos
  2427. >and the penal battalion will have a commander after all
  2428. >its been forming over time, when you last checked it was around 600 or so ponies.
  2429. >a mix of all kinds of minimum to low security criminals from all around the kingdom
  2430. >from deserters to political activists.
  2431. >they had to pass a large series of tests to get into the army group, if they finished their tour, they are considered free.
  2432. >all charges removed a clean slate
  2433. "speak with the Crystal guards in the castle and tell them you are assigned to lead the black legion"
  2434. >"the black legion?"
  2435. "its just a name.. dont get your hopes up. and make sure they all remain in uniform while in this world"
  2436. >"alright fine.. what do i do after i receive them?"
  2437. "find me, ill give you instructions and open the portal for you and your group. they will be sent in over time"
  2438. >sunset eyes you suspiciously for a few moments
  2439. >then she turns around and heads out to find her new command
  2440. >"lord.. do you really plan to start a war with that other world?"
  2441. >you wait till you know sunset will not be able to hear you
  2442. >then you respond to Honor
  2443. "of course not. only a idiot would go to war with an entire world thats centuries ahead of them in technology unless it was absolutely necessary"
  2444. >honor smiles a bit
  2445. >perhaps relieved
  2446. "no, i just needed to give that red and yellow bitch incentive. i have no intention of going back to that world unless i have to."
  2447. >you look over to the notes again
  2448. "oh, and get that mirror under guard. 24/7 eyes on, no one goes near it without my say so. once im done with that girl we simply destroy it. all our criminals gone, and Sunsets little power trip dealt with."
  2449. >Honor bound chuckles
  2450. >"that really is a pretty effective way to kill to griffons with one stone."
  2451. "im glad you appreciate it."
  2452.  
  2453. >you are Aryanne
  2454. >and you found blackout
  2455. >you walk up to the armored pony laying under the tree
  2456. "blackout?"
  2457. >the pony looks up
  2458. >her face seemingly relaxed and calm in her surroundings
  2459. >"yes?"
  2460. "Lord manos is looking for you.. i expect he will be waiting in his room for your report on ponyville"
  2461. >blackouts head hangs low for a moment and you hear a sigh
  2462. >she then stands up and gets her gear back on
  2463. >"very well. ill be there shortly"
  2464. >her helmet closes and soon she vanishes
  2465. >but you hear her hoofsteps as she slowly walks down the hill to the Castle
  2466.  
  2467. >you are Manos
  2468. >and you are just leaving the labs
  2469. >its just a short walk back to the castle
  2470. "its been a while since ive been in my own room."
  2471. >walking down the street to the castle you begin to think.
  2472. >with all this work and everyone getting ready for war.. everything sure seems rather bleak.
  2473. >perhaps a small celebration and ceremony is in order.
  2474. "i still need to give my loyal ponies those medals."
  2475. >that settles it. the Crystal kingdom will have a patriotic celebration
  2476. >it will be a day for the heroes.
  2477. >with this new plan in your mind you go straight to the castle
  2478. >only thing you need to do now is receive a report
  2479.  
  2480. >you are Blackout
  2481. >and even though you can easily just walk inside the castle
  2482. >you still see it as an operation
  2483. >as if your mind is stuck in operations mode
  2484. >your cloak is still on as you scan the doors for guards
  2485. >black hands guard it thoroughly
  2486. >and the areas not guarded by hands are guarded by Crystal ponies
  2487. "just like in ponyville. quick in and out."
  2488. >you walk up to the guards
  2489. >they dont notice you
  2490. >you easily slip by
  2491. >no need for contact if its avoidable
  2492. >the halls are mostly clear but it pays to be careful
  2493. >you hug the wall and step silently
  2494. >your eyes and ears scanning for anything out of the ordinary
  2495. >a mixed group of Crystal guards and black hands are laughing as they walk down the hall
  2496. >you take cover behind a statue and wait for them to pass
  2497. >you slow your breathing
  2498. >you can feel your heart start to beat
  2499. >you do your best to slow that down too
  2500. >clear.
  2501. >20 meters to target...
  2502. >15 meters to target.
  2503. >10..
  2504. >5.
  2505. >you open the doors and take position inside
  2506. >target spotted, ID confirmed.
  2507. "heil manos"
  2508. >"Ah Blackout, its good to see you. i expect you have a report for me.."
  2509. >your heart stops.
  2510. >this is the hardest part of this Op.
  2511.  
  2512. >you are Manos
  2513. >Blackout has just entered your room
  2514. >you sit at your desk disassembling your sidearm for an attempted cleaning
  2515. "Ah Blackout, its good to see you. I expect you have a report for me.."
  2516. >you dont look up from your half assembled weapon
  2517. >each of your magazines laid out on the table in front of you in line perfectly
  2518. >each magazine is empty with the twelve rounds standing next to them like little troops for inspection
  2519. >you look up and see Blackout looking at them
  2520. >she is still silent
  2521. "ah, that bad huh?"
  2522. >you started to expect this..
  2523. >you set down your cleaning kit
  2524. >"Lord Manos, the operation was a success everything gone exactly as planned... except.."
  2525. >she hesitates to finish her sentence
  2526. "i expect Bonbon didnt make it."
  2527. >Blackout nods slowly
  2528. >"I had to finish the mission.. and i tried to talk her down but.."
  2529. >you get up from your desk and kneel in front of Blackout
  2530. >you seemed to have forgotten that she is still a child..
  2531. >even if everything else says otherwise
  2532. >she never took off her helmet
  2533. >you gently pull it off of her head and she remains still
  2534. >as it uncovers her face you see a stream of tears dripping down her face
  2535. >her eyes are forced shut
  2536. >she is still a filly Manos.. no matter how much she had gone through.
  2537. >you repeat that to yourself as you gently wrap her armored form into a hug
  2538. >shes a filly who had to kill some of her friends..
  2539. >because of you...
  2540. >you softly whisper into her ear
  2541. "im sorry Little league"
  2542. >she doesnt respond
  2543. >she just sobs a bit as she returns your hug
  2544. "Im sorry for everything"
  2545. >she needs to get out of the field.
  2546. >she needs to readjust
  2547. "Little League, im planning a ceremony soon."
  2548. >she ends the hug and gets back into attention
  2549. >"i understand sir, i wont take up anymore of your time"
  2550. "thats not what i meant. i wanted to know how you would feel if i honored Bonbon at the Ceremony"
  2551. >you pull out a medal from your desk
  2552. >the same medals you had Blackout leave on the bodies but in three different variants
  2553. >one is a simple Hand inside a metal ring labeled (3rd class)
  2554. >the second is a Hand with the ring filled in so its one medal labeled (2nd class)
  2555. >and the last one is similar to a Iron Cross, but inside is a M engraved on top of a Hand in the center (1st class)
  2556. "i will be giving out some of these new medals there to ponies who have gone beyond the call of duty in the past few months."
  2557. >you move the first class one in front of Blackout
  2558. "you will be receiving one. as will several members of my personal guard... and Bonbon will officially be given one"
  2559. >Little League nods.
  2560. >"I.. I would like that."
  2561. "will you do the honors of handing them out at the ceremony? besides your own of course."
  2562. >"it would be my honor Manos."
  2563. >you look back to your half assembled sidearm
  2564. >then back to Blackout
  2565. "want to learn how this works..?"
  2566. >she doesnt respond, but she takes a seat in front of your desk as you begin to explain the intricate parts to her
  2567.  
  2568. >a hour or two passes and soon Blackout is able to take it apart and assemble it faster than you
  2569. >you arnt all that fast to begin with but still its pretty impressive
  2570. >its becoming more apparent how much those surgeries have done to her if she can learn this fast
  2571. >you pat her on the back as she finishes the weapon for the fifth time.
  2572. "already better than I."
  2573. >you look to a clock on the wall
  2574. "its about time we head out. we still need to have letters sent to each recipient and plan the rest of the day."
  2575. >you grab your sidearm and the magazines and properly holster them
  2576. >the two of you start out of your room to get ready for the ceremony.
  2577.  
  2578. >you are Rainbow Dash
  2579. >and returning to your older life in Ponyville has been a struggle.
  2580. >you are back to spending time with your friends again and for the most part the nightmares have stopped
  2581. >you still have your moments though, moments where you get lost into thought
  2582. >but they are becoming less an less common
  2583. >you still are always sure to wear something to remind you of your unit back with Manos
  2584. >"Rainbow Dash, ya ready!?"
  2585. >you did it again..
  2586. >you snap back to the world as you and Applejack are about to have another contest.
  2587. >and Iron Pony contest.
  2588. "In a hurry to lose Apple? remember who you are competing against here, the fastest flyer in equestria AND a elite pony in the Black Hands"
  2589. >"we'll see how 'elite' ya are when ya lose to a humble pony like myself"
  2590. >you can feel her sarcastic tone eating at you
  2591. "HA we will see about tha--"
  2592. >you are interrupted by a grey mailpony crashing into you
  2593. >>"uhm.. oops.. sorry Rainbow"
  2594. >you shake the dirt off yourself as Applejack has doubled over laughing
  2595. >you then look over to the mailpony
  2596. "its ok, im fine. having issues flying again?"
  2597. >>"oh, no, no im fine. but i do have this for you"
  2598. >she shoves her head inside her bag and pulls out a letter
  2599. >>"it looks important... oh my gosh i still have to get these muffins to the address before they go bad!"
  2600. >you barely take the letter and soon the mailpony is awkwardly flying around ponyville again
  2601. >Applejack walks over to you
  2602. >"whats that sugar-cube?"
  2603. >you look at the seal on the letter
  2604. >its from the black hands
  2605. >from your commander? or..
  2606. >you quickly open the letter and read what it says.
  2607. >you get a small grin on your face and look to Applejack
  2608. "im going to be honored at a military ceremony.. ill be receiving a medal for my service"
  2609. >Applejack doesnt see the entirety of the honor like you do but she seems happy for you
  2610. >"well shoot rainbow, if anypony deserves a medal its you."
  2611. >you smile then place the letter down
  2612. "dont get to soft. we still have a competition"
  2613.  
  2614. >you are Lyra Heartstrings the Hand of Faith
  2615. "we are his children of fate. he is both the light and shadow of the world, dont fear to walk in darkness for if he wills it we will be given the light we need"
  2616. >"we are his faithful hands"
  2617. "while shadows seem to bring fear and doubt what lies at the end is much greater, at the end of the shadow there is our reward for crossing. Honor, Bravery, and Hope. these are the gifts we are given every day"
  2618. >"he is the Hand of Fate, and we are his faithful hands"
  2619. "Heil Manos"
  2620. >"Heil Manos! blessed is his light"
  2621. >you nod and your congregation begin to stretch their legs and say their goodbyes
  2622. >as you begin to gather your tomes and put them in your bag a Pegasi in black approaches you
  2623. >his face is cold and even, his trench coat has no identifiable marks and his mane has been shaved
  2624. >"Lyra Heartstrings?"
  2625. "yes?"
  2626. >the pegasi in black pulls out a letter and holds it out with his hoof
  2627. >you take the letter and open it
  2628. >"you are asked to attend a ceremony in the Crystal Kingdom by Manos himself"
  2629. >you look up from your letter and look at the pony again
  2630. >you happen to get a glace at a single mark on the collar of his coat.
  2631. >a crystal heart
  2632. >the pegasi bows his head and leaves without another word
  2633.  
  2634.  
  2635. >you are Manos
  2636. >you and Blackout have made arrangements with everyone needed
  2637. >but you wanted to make a special stop
  2638. >you knock on a door to a private room in the castle
  2639. "Honor Bound open up"
  2640. >there is a quick sound of the door unlocking and Honor is at attention as it opens
  2641. >"Heil manos! what is needed of me lord?"
  2642. "are any of my tanks available?"
  2643. >Honor is taken aback by your request
  2644. >"uh. not presently lord at least none that are ready to be in combat, we just started learning how your device works."
  2645. >you shake your head
  2646. "no no, do we have any of the crank powered ones i requested?"
  2647. >Honor visibly relaxes
  2648. >"those we do have. at last count we had around twelve or so"
  2649. "that will be fine, have them ready for a parade at the ceremony"
  2650.  
  2651. >you are Lyra Heartstrings
  2652. "ill be leaving for a few days, so you are in charge of things while im away i have faith in you"
  2653. >a mare in robes of Manos nods her head
  2654. >"yes Lyra i will not let you down. please dont worry about things here"
  2655. "im leaving things in capable hooves"
  2656. >you grab the final few things you packed and a few journals you have been keeping
  2657. >you dont need much, its only for a few days
  2658. >you walk out the doors of your large cathedral and there is a carriage with several pegasi waiting for you
  2659. >most of them bow their heads in respect for you
  2660. >except the one who you recognize from when he gave you the letter
  2661. >the only reason you recognize him is because he is the only one out of place in the group
  2662. >the others all clearly wear Black Hands uniforms while is is more covert
  2663. >"let me get those bags for you"
  2664. >the stallion takes your bags and places them inside the carriage then makes room for you to enter
  2665. >you give him a quick thank you and step inside
  2666. >the stallion gives you a final even look and gives a very slight nod
  2667. >just as he does the carriage lurches forward and soon you are on your way to the Crystal Kingdom
  2668. "Its been a while since ive seen Manos or anyone"
  2669. >you soon pick up a journal and begin writing
  2670.  
  2671. >you are Manos
  2672. >its the night before the ceremony and everything is right on schedule
  2673. >you look over the list of ponies you have down for medals
  2674. >the most prominent ones being Blackout Bonbon and Rainbow Dash along with your own Black Hands
  2675. >after looking over more reports of over achieving ponies in your forces you see a name that catches your eye
  2676. >Ms. Harshwhinny
  2677. >you scan the reports of her work
  2678. >she re-organized the Brownshirts from their rebellious tendencies after the Ponyville Riots
  2679. >in less than a day or two she had all rebellious ponies corrected and re-educated before any more blood could be spilled
  2680. >shes now the current head of your Brownshirts and they have never been more effective.
  2681. "ill be sure to reward her properly"
  2682. >you read on, many of the ponies in ponyville called the night (technically two nights) the Harshwhinny Coup
  2683. >she moved up from a lowly office and desk pony to the current leader
  2684. >she was quoted as saying "the riots were simply unprofessional and needed to be stopped"
  2685. "alright thats enough reading on her shes earned this"
  2686. >you place the piles of papers down and look over to the window
  2687. >the moon is high in the night sky
  2688. >and you feel that tired wave hit you
  2689. "No, no, no sleeping.. no voices again.."
  2690. >you look back to your desk and quickly pull out your sidearm
  2691. >you extract each bullet with care and efficiency
  2692. >*click*
  2693. >*click*
  2694. >*click*
  2695. "i can go longer.. Fate.. fate never sleeps.."
  2696. >the voices have been getting worse whenever you rest
  2697. >perhaps its because you have been staying awake at night.
  2698. >is that why Celestia never deals with problems and just sends twilight?
  2699. >so she can sleep and keep the voices at a minimum?
  2700. >you let your mind wander as you continue to slide each round out of all your magazines
  2701. >then you start to disassemble your weapon
  2702. >your thumbs are raw from constant rubbing on the edges of the bullets and parts
  2703. >and small cuts have formed on your fingers and palms from the sharper parts being constantly scratched against your skin
  2704. "ill have R&D look into spells that can help me stay awake.. perhaps they can rejuvenate me?"
  2705. >you continue your routine, inspect, disassemble, clean, assemble, inspect, test, repeat.
  2706. "another night wont kill me.. fate doesnt sleep"
  2707. >you have been cleaning your sidearm for most of the night
  2708. >you stopped brushing it for fear of wearing it down and instead you use a light rag and your breath to clean each part
  2709. >each part should be clean but...
  2710. >there always seems to be little red specks and smudges on the parts
  2711. >you cant have that.. at least it gives you something to clean after you assemble and take apart you sidearm
  2712. >you've been doing this for hours
  2713. >only now do you start to feel pain in your hands
  2714. >you stop cleaning and look again at your hands
  2715. >they are sore, bloody, and raw.
  2716. "god damn it."
  2717. >you wipe off your hands and soak them in water
  2718. >they didnt hurt until you noticed it.
  2719. >why is that?
  2720. >after gently washing your hands of any blood and dirt you sit back at your desk
  2721. >there is a slight red stain on the wood
  2722. >you know what it is but dont want to think about it
  2723. >you have everything under control right?
  2724. "everythings been working out perfectly.. why, would i be stressed or worried about anything.."
  2725. >yes.. everything's perfect
  2726. "no need to be concerned"
  2727. >you open your desk drawers and slide on your black gloves
  2728. >you make a point to yourself to always wear them when someone might see you.
  2729. >since you put those on you decide to get dressed
  2730. >it just saves you time so you dont need to get ready in the morning
  2731. "i dont need sleep..."
  2732. >you sit back down and continue assemble your sidearm
  2733. >you know it inside and out.
  2734. >and outside in.
  2735.  
  2736. >You are Aryanne
  2737. >today is the day of the celebration
  2738. >you were told to meet with Manos and Blackout early today for any last minute preparations
  2739. >you walk down the hall from your barracks to Manos' private room
  2740. >you see Blackout standing outside the door
  2741. >her ears perked up as she is listening to the sounds behind the door
  2742. "Blackout, you're not spying on Lord manos are you. Because if you were id have to-"
  2743. >Blackout quickly cuts you off
  2744. >"SH!"
  2745. >and listens again
  2746. >"come here.. listen closely"
  2747. >you walk up to the door and hear very faint noises
  2748. >after focusing on the noises a bit you realize its little clicks and a soft voice mumbling quietly
  2749. "is that Manos?"
  2750. >Blackout nods
  2751. "how long have you been listening?"
  2752. >"its been almost two hours.. i dont think he actually slept.."
  2753. >this is worrying..
  2754. >perhaps the stress is getting to him?
  2755. >nightmares?
  2756. >or perhaps he is just to busy with everything happening suddenly
  2757. "we shouldnt speak of this to anypony. least not until we have a moment to discuss it with Manos."
  2758. >Blackout nods then knocks on the door
  2759. >"Lord Manos, we were told to meet with you early today"
  2760.  
  2761. >you are Manos
  2762. >and there is a knock on your door
  2763. >you turn you head away from your clean and perfect weapon
  2764. >"Lord Manos, we were told to meet with you early today"
  2765. >oh, yes, thats right.
  2766. "Ill be there in just a moment, i have to finish getting myself ready."
  2767. >you stand up and put away your cleaning utensils and splash some water on your face from your private bathrooms sink
  2768. >you look at yourself in the mirror
  2769. >Shinning Armors burn still visible on your face
  2770. >you gently feel it
  2771. "funny how you forget things like that once they stop hurting.."
  2772. >the burning stopped long ago and you almost forgot you even had a burn with how it healed
  2773. >you put on a fresh pair of gloves and grab a extra set just in case
  2774. >then you walk to your door and open it
  2775. >the brightness of the Crystal halls nearly blind you from all the light
  2776. >"Lord Manos? are you alright?"
  2777. "yes. im fine"
  2778. >you are about to step out of your room when you forget you left your sidearm
  2779. >you walk back to your desk and holster it and the magazines
  2780. >however you didnt notice that the others had followed you inside
  2781. >you hear a slight gasp from Aryanne as she takes a look at your desk
  2782. >"l-Lord manos.. are you sure you are ok? what happened here?"
  2783. >you turn to see Aryanne and Blackout looking at the blood stains on your desk
  2784. "I cut my hand while cleaning my weapon. nothing to get worked up over. lets go, we have last minute things to do."
  2785. >you walk out of the room leaving behind the two ponies.
  2786. >the sooner you get out into the sunlight the better.
  2787.  
  2788. >you are Blackout
  2789. >you take a moment to soak in what information you have about what happened.
  2790. >mumbling to himself
  2791. >continuous cleaning of his possessions
  2792. >his reaction to the sunlight
  2793. >and the brushing off of his blood on the desk
  2794. >you look to Aryanne
  2795. "He is sleep deprived... it will only get worse unless he starts to get rest again."
  2796. >Aryanne nods
  2797. >"no doubt about that.. but.. why is he avoiding sleep? Night terrors perhaps?"
  2798. "its possible. he has seen the most of the violence here. he was at every real conflict or violent act up to now. perhaps its seeping into his dreams?"
  2799. >"we will need to talk to a doctor about this.. but it will have to wait for now, we still have work to do."
  2800. >Aryanne leaves to catch up with manos
  2801. >by now he is halfway down the hall
  2802. >you take one last look at his desk then you follow her out of the room
  2803.  
  2804. >you are Manos
  2805. >you are currently meeting with the Officer Mare in charge of the Black hands and Crystal Guards in the parade
  2806. >"no need to worry my lord. we have been practicing our drills and making sure there will be no hiccups!"
  2807. "thats good. we want the ponies to see us a military to be proud of, if they are proud, then they will volunteer"
  2808. >"HA they will be more than proud Lord, they will be in awe. i can assure you."
  2809. "thank you Commander."
  2810. >the mare gives you a seig heil and leaves you to your business
  2811. >you're currently looking over a speech you have been preparing to read to the masses
  2812. >one that will make your ponies proud to be here
  2813. >one that will instill a sense of national pride
  2814. >You look over to Aryanne
  2815. "Aryanne, have all the recipients arrived?"
  2816. >she checks over her own list of ponies
  2817. >"yes Lord, all recipients of honors have arrived and are currently waiting in the main hall along with your personal guards"
  2818. "Blackout too?"
  2819. >"of course, she was the first to be there waiting she has even begun to socialize with the other Hands a bit.."
  2820. "has she?"
  2821. >..
  2822. >"well.. I did say 'a bit'.."
  2823. >a smile creeps to your face
  2824. "you're a good pony Aryanne, dont let anyone say otherwise."
  2825. >a smile and blush appear on her face
  2826. >"thank you lord."
  2827. "consider that a standing order."
  2828. >you listen and in the distance you hear the sounds of cheering and the start music
  2829. "well.. looks like its time. have the recipients come out once the signal has been given"
  2830. >"yes lord"
  2831. >you step outside and start to walk into the path made for you to reach a large platform
  2832. >ponies cheer and banners are held high at sight of you
  2833. >the Celebration has begun
  2834.  
  2835. >you are Sombra.
  2836. >and the attack has begun.
  2837. >you take to the sky over Ponyville your smoking form billowing the shadow like smog in a trail behind you
  2838. >you can hear ponies shouting and giving orders below you
  2839. >you laugh, your voice sounding like thunder
  2840. "yes.. run... little ponies.."
  2841. >you start to make your way downwards from the sky straight for the center of town
  2842. >before you get to close you pull up
  2843. >all the ponies attention is on you
  2844. >then.. they strike..
  2845. >hundreds of griffons break out of your smog trail in the sky and descend into the streets
  2846. >the sounds of battle ensue as you continue to leave more and more smoke cover for your griffons still in the skies
  2847. "Down with Equestria! death to the false gods!"
  2848. >griffons let out another war cry as another wave strikes from your smoke filled sky
  2849.  
  2850. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GD0FHEXHbc [Embed] - WW2 German Military Marches
  2851.  
  2852. >you are manos
  2853. >and you are atop your podium waving to the crowds
  2854. >you stand in front of a large banner taking up half of the view of the castle behind you
  2855. >of course its that of your mark
  2856. >the mark of your ponies
  2857. >the mark of your nation
  2858. >you look to the streets as your reorganized Brownshirts are on parade first
  2859. >they march on, once they get to a certain point they all turn their heads to face you and continue on
  2860. >"SEIG HEIL! HEIL MANOS!" they shout in unison
  2861. >you give them a Seig Heil in return
  2862. "to victory!"
  2863. >next you look and see the new Crystal guard marching behind
  2864. >their armor reflects the sun perfectly and the first two rows of unicorns unsheathe their swords and hold them high
  2865. >"Heil manos! heil the crystal kingdom!"
  2866. >the pull he swords back down and continue to march each sword a equal distance from their face perfectly in line
  2867. "Heil the Crystal Kingdom! heil free Equestria"
  2868. >you smile as you hear the marching of your Black Hands next.
  2869. >thier black uniforms come into view, your personal guards in a small group ahead of the rest holding their badge proudly
  2870. >Comet Glow, Almond Heart, Cinnamon Pop, and even Rainbow Dash (now in full uniform) march ahead of the others
  2871. >the other music stops, or at least becomes quieter so everyone can hear the Black Hands as they march
  2872. >after a few seconds the all begin to sing as they march
  2873.  
  2874. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84mXC6zlvi8 [Embed] - ϟϟ Schutze Staffel - "SS Marschiert in Feindesland" ϟϟ
  2875.  
  2876. >no other music plays as they sing, out of respect.
  2877. >or because it was planned this way, you cant tell
  2878. >when the song ends everyone in the parade stops and turns towards you
  2879. >they do it in perfect coordination, not a single step out of sync with the others
  2880. >and all as one they shout "Heil Manos! Seig Heil" and give you a sieg heil
  2881. >the ponies in the crowd do the same and repeat it several more times
  2882. >you rise your hand and eventually they are silent
  2883. >Honor Bound stands next to you and his horn begins to glow
  2884. >he stands as still as a statue
  2885. >the magic spell he is currently using is a vocal enhancing spell which will make your voice loud enough for everyone to hear
  2886. >you remain silent and look over your ponies
  2887. "My people, they have been around for centuries. long before the Princesses, long before Discord, and even longer than Equestria"
  2888. >your voice booms over the crowds
  2889. "though separated by leaders, they shared a belief, a belief that honor and justice came before personal gain, that duty and loyalty was to take priority to ones own self, and that family was more valuable than any amount of coin."
  2890. >you take a breath and look to your Black hands
  2891. "they also shared another belief, one of a paradise that awaits those who have died. a paradise so great that only the most honorable and loyal of warriors and believers could ever enter."
  2892. >the rise your fist high as you speak then next part then hammer it down as you finish
  2893. "That place was called VALHALLA!"
  2894. >you then raise your hands to your heart and speak as though it just you and one listener
  2895. "a place of faithful warriors! who gave their lives to a cause that meant more as a whole than any individual person alone! i share this belief! that when i die i shall be walking along side my brothers and sisters in the great halls of Valhalla!"
  2896. >you let your words sink into the crowd before you continue
  2897. "But i will not be going alone! while before when i thought of that paradise i thought of only humans in the great hall but i was wrong! for ponies like you are surely there with us! warriors! poets! and families alike!"
  2898. >the crowd stomps their hooves as you continue on
  2899. "You are my brothers and sisters now! and our great hall awaits us in Valhalla! we need only earn our entrance! and when i look out over the ponies here, standing tall and wearing their uniforms with such conviction and pride i know.. I KNOW that we shall make it there!"
  2900. >you point to the crowd of ponies
  2901. "For we are all worthy of Valhalla! we are proud, dedicated, and willing to give our lives to protect others no matter what cost may come! SEIG HEIL!"
  2902. >the crowd bursts into multiple chats of seig heil
  2903. >you let them go on for a while before you speak again
  2904. "to the Brownshirts who died in the ponyville rebellions! they fought for a cause they believed in so much so that is became their only way of life! they died for that belief! to those ponies! SIEG HEIL!"
  2905. >"SEIG HEIL!" "SEIG HEIL!"
  2906. >you look to the crystal guards
  2907. "to the Crystal guards! who even when they were disbanded by a mad king who ruled you with fear they picked themselves up and were born again! to those ponies who were willing to rise again even knowing that the king still lived shows great bravery to you ponies! SEIG HEIL!"
  2908. >"Seig heil!" "seig heil!"
  2909. >you dont slow your rant you go on with the momentum
  2910. "to those black hands who fought and died in the battle of Ardennes against a legion of ponies to those Black hands and to those slaves who died i say SEIG HEIL"
  2911. >you then point to the large banner with your mark behind you
  2912. "this is not my mark! this is our legacy! our symbol of justice! of order! of THIS NEW CRYSTAL EMPIRE!"
  2913. >you look back to the banner yourself leaving you back to the ponies
  2914. "to the crystal empire! SEIG HEIL!"
  2915. >you give a sieg heil to the banner behind you
  2916. >"SEIG HEIL" "SEIG HEIL" "SEIG HEIL"
  2917.  
  2918. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vezr3dW4J5s&bpctr=1445215798 [Embed] - Adolf Hitler - "Sieg Heil"
  2919.  
  2920. >you turn back to the ponies again
  2921. "we are the true inheritors of this empire! we are those who are willing to carry the weight of others troubles! some might see us as villains! some may criticize us and our views! but we know better! we shall not be bothered with arguments! our goal will be to enter the gates of Valhalla and see out brothers and sisters in paradise!"
  2922. >you hear ponies cheering but you speak on as if they were still silent
  2923. "and who blocks our way?! WHO BLOCKS OUR PATH TO THIS PARADISE!?"
  2924. >you shout with all the power you have in your lungs
  2925. "the ones who block our path are here! amongst us!"
  2926. >in the crowd you hear a few ponies shout out answers
  2927. >"the changelings!" "the griffons!"
  2928. "NO this threat is greater than the changelings! this threat is called cowardice! and its inside us all! but we must be strong! ponies will try to make you waver from our cause! try to talk you down, and perhaps blame you for evils!"
  2929. >you hammer the railing with your fist between each of your next words
  2930. "but! our! cause! is! JUST!"
  2931. >then you jab a finger towards canterlot
  2932. "and no King! or Princess! or Griffon! will ever be able to tear us down! because we stand together! we stand untied! to the ponies next to you and at your back! I SAY SEIG HEIL!!"
  2933. "this is our trial! this is our Empire! this is our home! and like any good protector we will die to defend it from all threats!"
  2934. >you start to relax and slow your breathing
  2935. >your heart is racing and your throat burns from your shouting
  2936. >you rise your hand again signaling that you have one last thing to say
  2937. "this Empire... this, this Reich. i will see it rise, i will see our children, our foals, our sons and daughters grow up in a world without fear a world where ponies are on top! where no wolf, nor griffon, or foreign intruders will ever frighten them and instead those threats will fear the children! for they will know of whose blood they were born from! they will be born from your blood! from your ponies! and from our Reich!"
  2938. >ponies are just consumed by national pride and they cheer, stomp, and give seig heils almost non stop
  2939. "this new Reich! this First Reich! will be so grand that when i die i wont have to worry! For i know who will be here when im gone! and this Reich will be so honored that even if the last pony dies ITS STORY WILL STILL LAST A THOUSAND YEARS!"
  2940. "and I have the pride, the privilege, nay, the Honor! to stand beside you ponies! Ponies like Bonbon! like Rainbow dash! Like the pony next me Honor Bound! and to a pony who maybe has given more than ANYONE ELSE be they alive or dead! and the pony who is the first to receive an official honor i introduce you to Blackout!"
  2941. >ponies cheer loudly as Blackout approaches the stand
  2942. >you take a step to the side and let her take in the cheers of the ponies
  2943. >you signal for the rest of the ponies to assemble
  2944. >the recipients including the ponies who were before in the parade approach the stand overlooking the empires ponies
  2945. >they form a perfect line so they each my be seen by the crowd
  2946. "Blackout, for your personal sacrifices, for your undying loyalty, and for your continued commitment to the ponies here and to myself i am honored to give you this first medal. The Iron Hand First class!"
  2947. >a black hand holds out a decorated box and you open in revealing the medals
  2948. >you take out hers
  2949. >her name even engraved into the back so no one else can claim it
  2950. >Blackout takes a step forward as you place it on her uniform and armored body
  2951. >you take a step back and give her a Sieg heil
  2952. >everyone else does the same
  2953. >"SEIG HEIL"
  2954. "Blackout, would you do the honors of handing out the medals to each of the ponies here?"
  2955. >she stands in attention, and you notice she has a large grin on her face
  2956. >a single tear streams down as she smiles proudly
  2957. >"It would be a great honor lord manos"
  2958. >you take the box from the pony and he steps back into formation
  2959. >you hold the box firmly in your hands and say the next name
  2960. "To Rainbow Dash! for your valor and duty in the crucial battle of Ardennes which led to the liberation and creation of this new Reich i am proud to award you with this medal, The Iron Hand of manos First class"
  2961. >the medal is identical to the one Blackout was given but instead Rainbows name is on the back
  2962. >Rainbow takes a step forward
  2963. >Blackout walks up to her giving her a nod of respect before pinning the medal to her uniform
  2964. >she too gets a seig heil from you and the ponies
  2965. >she then takes a step back in line
  2966. "To Aryanne, Cinnamon Pop, Comet Glow, and Almond Heart"
  2967. >the four ponies take a step forward in perfect time with each other
  2968. "For your constant diligence, your undying loyalty, and for going above and beyond the call of duty i am proud to award each of you a medal, each of you receive, The Iorn hand of manos Second Class"
  2969. >at the same time each of the ponies say "We are his shield! even after death we shall serve"
  2970. >Blackout gives each pony a nod of approval and pins each medal to their uniforms individually
  2971. >as a group they all receive seig heils from you and the ponies
  2972. "and to a Ms. Harshwhinny who from the chaos that was the ponyville rebellion, was able to restore order without any contact from superiors, and took it upon herself to lead the reformed Brwonshirts i am honored to give you this medal, The Iron Hand of Manos Third class"
  2973. >each medal handed out had each ponies name engraved
  2974. >Ms Harshwhinny takes a very calculated step forward, her eyes never looking away and her back straight
  2975. >Blackout gives her a nod that she immediately returns.
  2976. >"thank you lord Manos, I am happy to serve."
  2977. >after her moment and her sieg heil she takes the same calculated step backwards and into line
  2978. "to each of you standing before me! you are now the first of my bearers of Iron! to you Sieg heil"
  2979. >the crowd gives them another seig heil
  2980.  
  2981. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTPHBVxydnI [Embed] - German Military War Songs-Westerwald Lied
  2982.  
  2983. >you set down the box and take your place next to your ponies as the parade begins again
  2984. >in the distance you see the crank powered prototypes of what hopefully will be your new tanks
  2985. >the closer they get the more ponies look at them in awe
  2986. >you yourself are impressed, though not with them existing but with how the design looks very similar to one from home
  2987. >you give a sieg heil as they drive on by each one having a pony tank commander in uniform
  2988. >they will be much more impressive once you have working engines and weapon production going
  2989. >for now you assume the best use would be for show or possibly as very light support with unicorns being the only offensive capabilities
  2990. >you look to your side as a pony in uniform urgently taps you
  2991. >you signal for Honor Bound to end his spell
  2992. >his horn stops glowing and he gives you a nod
  2993. "what is it?"
  2994. >"sir.. we just received word from Ponyville"
  2995. "word? word of what? this is a very important occasion"
  2996. >"my lord, Ponyville has been assaulted by Sombra and a horde of griffons."
  2997. "what?"
  2998. >you look back to Honor bound and call him over
  2999. >>"yes lord?"
  3000. "it seems we have a few complications. can you handle things here while i step out?"
  3001. >>"of course lord. everything is under control."
  3002. "thank you Honor Bound."
  3003. >you and the messenger pony walk off the stand
  3004. >there is a mixed group of officers, including Cadence, are there waiting for you
  3005. >"sir, we should speak in the war room"
  3006. "i agree, this is a new development that needs my attention immediately"
  3007. >you and the group start to make your way to the war room
  3008. >your highest ranking officers minus Honor Bound follow you
  3009. >you keep a calm and passive stance as you get closer and closer to your war room
  3010. >the guards outside open the door as you approach and give sieg heils
  3011. "heil"
  3012. >you walk inside and and take a seat in front of the map of equestira
  3013. >your officers have taken it upon themselves to keep it updated as they learned more
  3014. >Ponyville seems to be the only target as far as they appear to know
  3015. "Get me caught up on whats happening."
  3016. >Your officers look to one another wondering who will speak first.
  3017. >who will be the one to give you the bad news no doubt
  3018. >Cadence steps forward
  3019. >>"Manos, as far as we can tell we have lost the entirety of Ponyville city within a few hours ago. the only remaining position in our current control is what remains of your Castle."
  3020. >a Black hand steps forward
  3021. >and places his hoof on the map in front of you
  3022. >"we believe they came from across the sea, landing somewhere near horseshoe bay. then simply followed the river until they arrived at ponyville."
  3023. >that is possible. but then there should have been word that...
  3024. >you look to your officers.
  3025. "Have we received any communications from the Royal sisters? messengers, letters, anything?"
  3026. >"negative sir, as far was we are aware, they have not sent any support to Ponyville either. they might not know"
  3027. >thats bullshit
  3028. "you're saying that you honestly think that Celestia and Luna had no idea of a fucking army just taking a stroll in her countryside?"
  3029. >your words hang in the room
  3030. >the officer looks to Cadence
  3031. >she just looks back to the map in front of you
  3032. "no.. i think she new exactly where they were going."
  3033. >you tap Ponyville city
  3034. "and now that its under siege, guess who will swoop in and save the day... with her armies in gold?"
  3035. >you slam your hand on the table
  3036. "SHE KNEW THE WHOLE TIME AND KEPT QUIET ABOUT IT!"
  3037. >everyone except Cadence take a small step back from your outburst
  3038. "Assemble the men. War has come."
  3039.  
  3040. >you are Sombra
  3041. >and your attack has gone even better than expected.
  3042. >a griffon takes a position next to you as you overlook the battle below
  3043. >"there was very little resistance.. most of the fighting was over once we captured the square."
  3044. >you look over to the city square where large groups of ponies in brown uniforms have been rounded up
  3045. >there are very few Black hands among them
  3046. "are those all of the Black hands you have found?"
  3047. >he griffon looks to where you are watching
  3048. >"those are the only ones we took alive. but to be honest, we expected many more than were currently stationed here."
  3049. >you scan the town from your position
  3050. >then over into the forest. where you notice several dirt roads
  3051. "there."
  3052. >you point your hoof to Everfree Forest
  3053. "thats where they must be."
  3054. >"why would they be in the woods? isnt the city far more important to hold than a few trees?"
  3055. "im not sure, but those roads have guards... guards that did not support the defense of the city."
  3056. >"then something important must be inside.."
  3057.  
  3058. >you are Lyra Heartstrings
  3059. >Manos' speech about this place he calls Valhalla still swarms to the front of your mind
  3060. >you recorded everything he said in your journal word for word.
  3061. "it must be an amazing place..."
  3062. >could you be given entrance to the gates of Valhalla?
  3063. >at the vary least, you will be considered.
  3064. "i must spread his word as soon as i return home."
  3065.  
  3066. >you are Manos
  3067. >you have given the order to go to war
  3068. >but even you yourself arnt one hundred percent sure of the real enemy.
  3069. >the Griffons and Sombra
  3070. >or the Sun Tyrant.
  3071. >the war room is swarming with different communications ponies
  3072. >unicorns sending messages with magic, pegasi flying in and out, and earth pony runners delivering whatever orders they can
  3073. "Get Honor Bound in here as soon as possible! and find Lyra! its time to have her included in our planning!"
  3074. >"YES LORD!"
  3075. >a earth pony runner sprints out the door to send word.
  3076.  
  3077. >you are Honor Bound
  3078. >and you are over looking the final portions of the ceremony and parade when a earth pony runner sprints towards you
  3079. >you take a few steps back as she tries to slow himself before stopping in front of you
  3080. >"Seig heil, Honor bound sir, War has just been declared! Ponyville has been attacked by Sombra and a army of Griffons! its lost sir!"
  3081. >you calmly wipe the dust off of your jacket as the pony gives you the news
  3082. "so we go to war then. i assume manos has already given the order to rally the troops?"
  3083. >"yes Commander. the only ones not yet rallied are those in the parade but we--"
  3084. >you walk away from him cutting him off mid sentence and approach the edge of the stand
  3085. >your horn begins to glow as you cast a amplification spell on yourself
  3086. >you clear your throat
  3087. "Hmhmhm!"
  3088. >the music dies off and the ponies and troops on parade all stop to look at you
  3089. >including the Bearers of Iron who are still on the stand with you
  3090. >you scan over the ponies making sure to have their full attention
  3091. >then you begin
  3092. "My fellow Brothers and Sisters of Manos.. as of a few hours ago.. Ponyville. the place where manos first arrived and began his new movement.. was attacked."
  3093. >the ponies in the crowd begin to murmur to one another
  3094. "and it is with great regret that i am told to inform you, that we have lost control of the city."
  3095. >the murmurs become shouts of anger and rage at the thought
  3096. "if you are anything like myself and those ponies who wear the uniform. then you are outraged at this."
  3097. >"who did it?!"
  3098. >>"who attacked the city?!"
  3099. "we have reason to believe it was soldiers of the Griffon Empire. but now is not the time for talk..."
  3100. >you give a short pause
  3101. "its time for war.. all enlisted soldiers are to meet with their commanders and be ready to move out. we are going to take the city back!"
  3102. >the ponies in the crowd cheer and stomp their hooves in encouragement to the troops
  3103. "HEIL MANOS!"
  3104. >"HEIL MANOS! HEIL THE REICH!"
  3105.  
  3106. >you are Celestia
  3107. >and you are looking out over your beloved Canterlot towards the smoke filled direction of ponyville city
  3108. >Manos' prized city.
  3109. "Forgive me twilight... i hope you and your friends received my letter to leave.."
  3110. >"Princess ma'am. the troops have been assembled"
  3111. >you turn back to your royal guard Captain
  3112. "thank you Silver Valor. time is of the essence, i wont have innocent ponies harmed. we march immediately"
  3113. >"Yes ma'am!"
  3114. >Silver Valor turns to the other officers and gives them orders before they leave to march into the city
  3115. >you look back to the smoke coming from the city with a determined look on your face
  3116. "i wont have my ponies harmed if i can help it... by anyone.."
  3117. >you hear the sounds of marching guards in the streets as you return back to your room
  3118.  
  3119. >you are Manos
  3120. >Honor bound has just arrived
  3121. "Honor Bound, do we still have a supply of those communication crystals that Copper discovered?"
  3122. >he nods his head
  3123. >"yes lord manos, but we dont have nearly enough for all the troops. not to mention no way to regulate the communications"
  3124. "never mind that. get those crystals handed out to all of the head officers. and leave one here, i want to have communications running smoothly, that will give us a huge advantage over.. over the others."
  3125. >Honor bound walks over to a unicorn messenger and has him deliver orders to give out the comms
  3126. >you turn to Cadence who has been organizing resources and keeping tabs on local reactions
  3127. "Cadence, what do we have at our current disposal?"
  3128. >"we have plenty of basic weapons and armor for everypony"
  3129. >she looks back to the lists and reports
  3130. >"however those weapons you have brought with you havent been.. perfectly replicated yet.. we have a few operational ones but nothing close to enough for everypony"
  3131. "tell the eggheads to get off their collective asses there is no time to waste!"
  3132. >war has come a little early
  3133. >but thats fine, necessity is the mother of invention.
  3134. >and war makes everything necessary
  3135. >a black hand enters the room and bows his head to you
  3136. >"lord manos, the troops have been gathered they await your orders to move out."
  3137. >you stand up from your seat and look over to Honor
  3138. "have the commanders been given their new communications?"
  3139. >he gives you a nod and continues to give orders to ponies in the room
  3140. >no time for us to slow now
  3141. "then consider the order given! i need my formations advancing as soon as possible!"
  3142. >"yes lord! Heil manos! heil the Reich!"
  3143. "Seig heil."
  3144. >the pony leaves the room in a rush to get back to his troops
  3145. >you look over to a communications pony
  3146. "get us one of those crystals. i want to have a instant report on whats happening there!"
  3147. >"yes lord. ill have one here immediately!"
  3148. >you look back to the map of equestria
  3149. "you are playing a very dangerous game here Celestia.."
  3150. >you cant help but smile
  3151. "perhaps we arnt as different as i began to think we were."
  3152. >you are cut off by your train of thought by a blue pegasus bursting into the room
  3153. >Rainbow Dash rushes over to you
  3154. >how she discovered where you were you dont know.
  3155. >"Manos! i heard ponyville was attacked!"
  3156. "yes it has. and we are about to send those invaders home in body bags"
  3157. >there are a few chuckles and approving statements heard in the room
  3158. >"then what are we doing here!? we need to go! my friends are there!"
  3159. >you look over to Rainbow
  3160. "i know, but i am going to be much more valuable here. if i head out to fight then we wont have a central leadership to keep everyone in contact"
  3161. >rainbow still looks determined to head out
  3162. "i know you are going to go even if i give you orders to stay. so im putting you in command of a pegasi force."
  3163. >Rainbow looks surprised at her sudden 'promotion'
  3164. "and as i recall i already gave you your orders to protect your friends. get to it then commander. take back my skies."
  3165. >you point to a messenger pegasi
  3166. "he will take you to them. now go. get there as soon as you can"
  3167. >"yes sir! i wont let you down sir!"
  3168. >you better not
  3169.  
  3170. >you are Lyra Heartstrings
  3171. >the ponies in the streets with you are rushing back and forth
  3172. >everything seems to chaotic.. yet.. not
  3173. >everypony seems to know exactly where they are going
  3174. >and most of them are heading to recruitment stations
  3175. >"its our duty! as ponies of the Reich to sign up! war has been declared and blood has been shed!"
  3176. >you see a stallion standing on a crate shouting to others in the street
  3177. >you walk up to him and take a seat a small smile on your face from this ponies determination
  3178. >"We are the chosen ponies of manos! the ones he has put HIS faith in to stand by him! will we let him down because we are afraid?! NO!"
  3179. >ponies in the recruitment lines shout "HEIL MANOS!"
  3180. >as the pony keeps speaking his righteous and patriotic fervor spreads throughout the streets
  3181. >more and more ponies dropping what they have and getting in line
  3182. >determined looks on all their faces
  3183. >you step up to him and tap his side
  3184. >he looks down at you and for a moment he seems angered by being interrupted
  3185. >then he recognizes you
  3186. >"L-lyra Heartstrings?!"
  3187. >he quickly gets off the crate and bows his head
  3188. >a few others do the same
  3189. "mind if i speak?"
  3190. >"o-of course you can speak! please! speak to them!"
  3191. >you take your position on the humble little crate that is your podium
  3192. "my children of fate, and fellow loyal ponies.. You are truly brave and noble to support manos with such fervor."
  3193. >you look to the ponies in the lines
  3194. "remember what Manos told us, of the glory, the paradise that awaits us in Valhalla, that the warriors and those loyal to a cause above themselves will be granted access to the gates. and those who die in combat are awaited by their brothers and sisters!"
  3195.  
  3196. >you are Manos
  3197. >just as Rainbow Dash and the Pegasi have left your War room you notice another pony.
  3198. >he wears a Black Hands uniform and seems to be overlooked by the others
  3199. >there is so much going on right now, who would notice someone new in the room?
  3200. >he stares at you, calm and collected.
  3201. >he looks so familiar.. like you know him from somewhere..
  3202. >after a few moments of the two of you looking at one another he turns to leave the room
  3203. >just as he is about to exit a pony walks in front of you
  3204. >in less than a second he is gone..
  3205. >he never walked through the doorway.
  3206. "Cadence.. take over for a moment."
  3207. >everything in the room for some reason feels unimportant and you slowly walk out into the halls
  3208. >you barely catch the sight of the pony walking into your room
  3209. >the guards never stopping his entry..
  3210. >you follow the pony inside
  3211. >the room is empty besides your possessions and furniture.
  3212. "guards... who entered this room?"
  3213. >the two guards walk inside and look around
  3214. >"what do you mean lord? everything is as it was.. no one has been in here."
  3215. "Bullshit! i saw someone enter! they walked right in!"
  3216. >the guards quickly search the room for anyone or anypony inside
  3217. >they turn up nothing
  3218. >"my lord.. no one is here.."
  3219. "get out"
  3220. >"sir are you ok?"
  3221. "GET OUT!"
  3222. >your guards take a few steps back and give each other a look of confusion
  3223. >>"uh as you wish lord"
  3224. >the doors close behind the guards as they leave
  3225. >you know you saw him
  3226. >he was right here
  3227. >you walk to your desk and look at the stained blood on the desk
  3228. >you touch it with your hand
  3229. >"This are a little out of hand, arnt they?"
  3230. >you quickly turn to the sound of the voice
  3231. >no one is there
  3232. >it comes from behind you again
  3233. >"well, i shouldnt have expected much. after all you did lose one of your best leaders"
  3234. >you look to the chair
  3235. >sitting in your chair, there is a pony taking notes..
  3236. "Copper?..."
  3237. >the Copper turns his head back to you
  3238. >"who else lord manos? i am your faithful hand."
  3239. >you look over his shoulder to his notes
  3240. >its intricate details and notes on your weapon and how it can be adapted to ponies.
  3241. >"interested in my notes? they are yours after all"
  3242. >he places the notes on your desk and stands up from the chair
  3243. >"its good that they are finally finished. and not a moment to soon huh?"
  3244. >he smiles
  3245. "Copper.. how?"
  3246. >>"Manos?"
  3247. >you look to the other voice
  3248. >it took you off guard
  3249. >Aryanne is standing in the door way with a worried look on her face
  3250. >you point to where copper is standing
  3251. "Aryanne... how.. how is he?"
  3252. >Aryanne takes a few steps inside your room and looks to where you are pointing
  3253. >>"Manos.. no one is there.."
  3254. >you look back to where you were pointing
  3255. >what you see makes your blood run cold and your skin crawl.
  3256. >whats there... is exactly what Aryanne said was there..
  3257. >nothing... and no one.
  3258.  
  3259. >You are Ayranne
  3260. >how long has manos been going without sleep?
  3261. >has he even been aware of how long hes been doing it?
  3262. "Manos... Blackout and I know you have been avoiding sleep"
  3263. >Manos just stares as the spot in disbelief
  3264. >"he was.. he was here."
  3265. >you take a few steps closer to him
  3266. >then he suddenly snaps to the desk and stares at the papers he left on it
  3267. >"ahaHA! he was here look!"
  3268. >he grabs the papers and holds them up to you
  3269. >on the papers are notes sketches and diagrams on converting his weapons piece by piece to work for ponies
  3270. "Manos, thats all in your writing. you wrote all that.."
  3271. >you can she his hands start to shake, only a little bit, but enough
  3272. >hes scared, seeing things that arnt there, and hearing voices.
  3273. >all this, when we defiantly need him to be strong to be a leader
  3274. >this could bring an end to everything we are working for
  3275.  
  3276. >You are Cadence
  3277. >and for now everything is in your hooves
  3278. >you hardly noticed what manos said before he suddenly got up and left the room
  3279. >but you dont have time to wonder why he did it
  3280. >"Cadence ma'am the troops are on the move and instant communications have been established"
  3281. >the pony pulls out a box with one of the communications crystals inside
  3282. >he taps to box
  3283. >"just open it and you will be on the coms with every commander and NCO"
  3284. "thank you, im sure you have something else you need to be doing, ill take it from here."
  3285. >the pony gives you a salute and rushes off to his communications desk
  3286. >you slowly open the box and you hear the voices of the commanders issuing movement orders to their troops
  3287. "All forces this is Cadence, Manos has put me in charge temporarily we need you on the move ASAP, get to that city and take it back from WHOEVER hold it. understood? keep us updated on your movement.. that is all"
  3288. >there is a series of affirmatives returned back to you
  3289. "where is manos?"
  3290.  
  3291. >you are Aryanne
  3292. "Manos, stay here for a moment. ill be right back. as your personal guard commander i insist you do not leave this room until i return. are we clear?"
  3293. >Manos is just sitting at his desk as he gives you a nod and places his hands on his face
  3294. "ill be back soon."
  3295. >you close the doors behind you then look to the guards
  3296. "No one, no matter who they are is to enter this room until i return. understood?"
  3297. >the ponies give you a seig heil
  3298. >"Yes ma'am! Heil Manos!"
  3299. >you return the gesture and rush off to find a trustworthy pony
  3300.  
  3301. >you are Lyra Heartstrings
  3302. >as you were giving you little speech in the streets you were interrupted by a few black hands
  3303. >they were kind enough to let you finish your thoughts before telling you that you were needed in Manos' war room
  3304. >apparently since you were in the city and you are his Hand that makes you Second in command
  3305. >you walk with your new escort of Black Hands down the streets
  3306. >ponies give you bows of respect and others give the hands various encouragements
  3307. >then a white pony with a blonde mane comes out of the castle
  3308. >Aryanne was it?
  3309. >she looks around for something then spots you
  3310. >she rushes to you and your escort
  3311. >"Lyra Heartstrings?"
  3312. >you nod your head yes, not really knowing what to say to her
  3313. >"there has been a development, i need you to come with me. Now"
  3314. >she looks to the guards
  3315. >"i have orders from lord manos himself, and as commander of his personal guard and any active black hands you guards are to give her over to me."
  3316. >>"understood ma'am, we shall escort you the rest of the way"
  3317. "whats happened?"
  3318. >"Its manos, he needs your help, i wont say more until we are there"
  3319. >for a second a look of desperation crosses her face
  3320. >"you, you dont happen to know any sleeping spells or anything do you?"
  3321. "uh, i know a few that i use when i need to go a night or two without sleep? does that help?"
  3322. >"at this point anything will help. lets get moving!"
  3323. >she turns and begins to run
  3324. >you follow sprinting behind
  3325. >soon you are being led to the most secure areas of the castle
  3326. >ponies in uniform are rushing back and forth with orders and messages
  3327. >but you walk past that area and keep moving down the halls
  3328. "where are we going? it seems like that was the place we should have gone to."
  3329. >Aryanne looks over her shoulder to you
  3330. >"we will be, just.. just not yet, we need to see Manos first."
  3331. >you approach a room guarded by a handful of black hand guards and two crystal ones
  3332. >"im back open the doors, everyone not part of Manos' personal guard are to leave the area, thats an order."
  3333. >>"yes ma'am! heil manos"
  3334. >"follow me"
  3335. >you follow aryanne inside and the doors are seals behind you with magic
  3336. >you take a moment to get a look at the room
  3337. >its dark, only a few candles are lit and the window is covered by the blinds
  3338. >at his desk sits manos, his face covered by his hand as he seems to be conflicted about something
  3339. "Manos? is everything ok?"
  3340. >he uncovers his face and his eyes betray his words..
  3341. >"everything is fine.. just fine.. i just, havnt got much sleep recently is all"
  3342. >you look at him as a small smile crosses his face.
  3343. >"and, apparently, because of that im seeing ghosts.."
  3344.  
  3345. >you are Manos
  3346. >Lyra and Aryanne are in the room with you..
  3347. >you think..
  3348. "she, she is here right?"
  3349. >the two mares nod and Aryanne speaks first
  3350. "yes manos, both of us are here."
  3351. >Aryanne turns to Lyra and tells her to say the same thing
  3352. >>"Manos.. we are both here, how long have you been without sleep?"
  3353. >you think for a moment
  3354. "maybe.. three four days, but to be honest ive been avoiding it before then, staying up later and later.."
  3355. >you hold your head again
  3356. "because whenever i sleep.. i hear so many voices, so many prayers, all at once that its painful. it claws at my head and my sleep feels like an eternity"
  3357. >you look back to Lyra, she looks like she was hurt by your words
  3358. >"the prayers are hurting you?"
  3359. >you decide its best to give her the real answer
  3360. "only in my sleep, im not used to them yet."
  3361.  
  3362. >Lyra walks up next to you and places a hoof on her shoulder
  3363. >"manos, im sorry, but you do need to sleep.. i thought i might be able to use a spell or something but that doesnt make up for real natural rest.. and you need it now more than ever."
  3364. >Aryanne takes a spot in front of your desk
  3365. >>"Shes right sir, war has just begun, we need you to lead us... it will still be about a day or so before our troops arrive.. plenty of time to rest up."
  3366. >you look to the blood stain on the desk, then to the ponies around you.
  3367. >why are you so scared to sleep...
  3368. >the voices hurt yes, but you were fine with them before..
  3369. >you lower your head
  3370. "alright, listen closely because this is an order."
  3371. >the mares are silent as you speak
  3372. >you look to Lyra
  3373. "Lyra, im going to need you to put me to sleep.. and do everything you can to keep me asleep. for at least the rest of the day and tonight"
  3374. >you look back to your bed and begin to walk over to it
  3375. >you sit on the edge and take a moment to breathe
  3376. "alright... put me under."
  3377. >you look to Lyra as her horn begins to glow
  3378. >then everything fades to black
  3379.  
  3380. >you are Manos
  3381. >everything is black..
  3382. >you can feel your body ache as you sit up
  3383. "i cant see a thing.."
  3384. >as soon as your words leave your lips the room becomes slightly illuminated from a unknown source
  3385. >you're sitting in your room and the world seems silent
  3386. >you get up from your bed and walk to the door slowly turning the handle and opening it
  3387. >the light on the other side is blinding as if you are looking directly into the sun a mere inches from you
  3388. >you cover your eyes with your hand and take a step out into the light
  3389. >soon your eyes adjust and you are standing in a vast empty void
  3390. "so.. im here again.."
  3391. >you look behind you the room you just exited now gone and more vast emptiness stretches on behind you
  3392. >you take a breath and ready yourself for the inevitable..
  3393. >you close your eyes and soon you are barraged by thousands and thousands of voices
  3394. >you wince from the suddenness of the assault
  3395. >the voices flowing into your skull feels like a torrent of water crashing against a rock at high speed
  3396. >its uncomfortable to say the least
  3397. >you grip your head as the intensity picks up
  3398. >you dont even notice yourself falling onto the ground in pain
  3399. "AAAHHHHHHH!!"
  3400. >you feel yourself screaming but you cant hear it from all the other voices ringing in your skull
  3401. >it seems unending, you feel as though days have passed but you have no way of telling
  3402. >then suddenly... they stop..
  3403. >your scream is the only noise left in your ears and you bring that to an end too
  3404. >"heh, is life such a discomfort for you?"
  3405. >you flinch at the sound of a new voice
  3406. >will they start up again?
  3407. >"Get up."
  3408. >you feel something kick your side and you struggle to get to your feet
  3409. >"i would have thought the creature that ordered my death would be a bit more.. well.. more."
  3410. >you look to the direction of the voice and you see a tall white unicorn with a three toned blue mane
  3411. >you feel the same chill as when you saw copper again..
  3412. >"i see you remember me.. how nice of you.."
  3413. "Shining Armor?.."
  3414. >the stallion gives you an aggressive snort
  3415. >"yeah, in the flesh.. or as close as i can be, thanks to you."
  3416. >you begin to laugh to yourself
  3417. >this is insanity... you must be crazy.
  3418. >suddenly you feel the burn on your face flare up again, just like it used to
  3419. "Ah! fuck."
  3420. >you hold your face and look to the horse
  3421. >he has a prideful smile on his face as he sees your pain
  3422. >"im glad my last gift to you is still here."
  3423. "you know, i always expected you to be a lot more.. forgiving than you are."
  3424. >your face burns again and then a hoof connects with your face
  3425. >"OH im sorry! oh yeah I forgive YOU.. for everything!"
  3426. >shining armor takes an aggressive stance an his horn glows again
  3427. >"yeah! i forgive YOU for killing me. i forgive YOU for fucking my wife!"
  3428. >you are lifted into the air and slammed back down into the ground by his magical grip
  3429. >"and of course i forgive you for all that innocent blood you spilled! yeah consider all that just water under the bridge! buddy!"
  3430. >you cough and force yourself up
  3431. >why does this all hurt so much? shouldnt you not feel pain in dreams?
  3432. >you laugh to yourself
  3433. >this horse is rather pissed at you.
  3434. "hey.. if it makes you feel better.. least you dont have to worry about being a father anymore, or should i have said yet?"
  3435. >you look up to him as he charges into you with his full force his horn impaling you in the chest
  3436. >the pain is indescribable, but you dont worry about it much anymore..
  3437. >you know you cant die here.. not in this world.
  3438. >you take a step back and watch as the hole heals itself up
  3439. "i deserved that one.."
  3440. >"you deserve a lot more!"
  3441. >he might be right about that.
  3442. >you punch his jaw then tackle him to the ground and you reach for your sidearm
  3443. >to your surprise its actually there, and you shove the barrel to his gut and pull the trigger till its empty
  3444. >shining armor screams in pain and coughs up pools of blood before he too begins to heal up
  3445. "this is pointless.."
  3446. >you get off of him and take a few steps back
  3447. >"fuck you.. you are the most evil being ive ever met.."
  3448. "im not evil shining armor. i just have a path that crosses and opposes your own."
  3449. >he staggers to his hooves and looks at you anger still filling his eyes
  3450. >you both are breathing heavy from your short and very painful greetings to each other
  3451. "are we done here? nothing we do to one another here will matter.."
  3452. >you point the gun to your hand and pull the trigger
  3453. >you never reloaded it but it still fires putting a large hole in your hand
  3454. >you hold it up as it slowly heals itself for Armor to see
  3455. "see? nothing we do to hurt or kill the other will matter."
  3456. >>"he is right you know"
  3457. >both you and armor look over to the new voice.
  3458. >Discord sits on his little living room set eating popcorn
  3459. >>"nothing here really matters. its quite boring honestly."
  3460. "oh great, you're here too?"
  3461. >>"oh yes. ive been here for a while. and by here in mean 'here' "
  3462. >you see his arm appear next to you and tap your head
  3463. >>"a mind without sleep is very unorganized and chaotic.."
  3464. >you slap the arm away as it fizzes into nothing then grows back on discord
  3465. >"i should have known a beast like you would be working with a monster like Discord."
  3466. >you give Armor a glare
  3467. "yeah, well think again, im not working with or for this guy he is the embodiment of everything im trying to remove"
  3468. >>"oh yes you are doing SUCH a great job of that too by the way... how much war and strife happened before you got here? or how much was supposed to?"
  3469. >you dont answer and just look at him
  3470. >>"exactly. you are far more chaotic than i ever was... but that was by choice."
  3471. >Discord snaps his fingers and the popcorn poofs away
  3472. >>"oh and by the by, how do you like my little gift to you?"
  3473. "what gift?.."
  3474. >He laughs
  3475. >>"oh you know, the little visions. the seeing things that arnt there. that stuff"
  3476. >his smile grows wide and he laughs
  3477. >>"when someone doesnt sleep their mind is SOO easy to manipulate. yours was a bit harder sure.. but i can still work my magic."
  3478. "as can i..."
  3479. >you close your eyes and imagine your paradise you have promised your ponies
  3480. >you imagine the gates to Valhalla
  3481. >you open your eyes and you, Discord, and Shining Armor look to be flying in place
  3482. >or rather the ground is moving beneath you
  3483. >you feel wind on your face as you get closer and closer to the large buildings in the distance
  3484. >suddenly everything stops moving and the three of you are standing before the large silver gates
  3485. >the walls floating over the nothingness below yet still preventing the entrance of anyone unworthy
  3486. >on the other side you can see mountains that pierce the sky, and green hills rolling in the distance
  3487. >buildings of the most precious metals and some of the humblest of wood you feel a warmth coming from the gates as you approach
  3488. >"so, this is the place you have promised your followers.."
  3489. >Shinning armor looks to the large walls and all their intricate details as he follows you up the steps
  3490. >you are the first to reach the final steps
  3491. >gently you place your hands on the wall feeling its smooth surface
  3492. "The great gates of valhalla.. the great paradise awaiting the faithful, the noble, and the fallen."
  3493. >>"well, are you going to show us inside?.."
  3494. >you glare back at Discord
  3495. "you will never set foot inside this holy place. its a paradise earned! not given."
  3496. >you look to armor
  3497. "this is your stop shining.. you died.. this is your reward.. for your sacrifice"
  3498. >Shinning scoffs
  3499. >"why would i want to enter here? for all i know this could be the gates of tartarus in disguise"
  3500. "then that decision is yours.. but you are awaited inside.."
  3501. >you walk him to the gate and push it open only slightly
  3502. >he takes a skeptical look inside
  3503. >on the other side are lines of fallen warriors holding their weapons high awaiting his entrance
  3504. >you yourself dont look inside, you havnt died
  3505. >and you will not be temped to enter unworthy
  3506. "you are awaited"
  3507. >you turn your back to the paradise behind you and slowly descend the steps
  3508. "and i am not, not yet"
  3509.  
  3510. >you are Lyra Heartstrings
  3511. >its been a few minutes since you put manos to sleep
  3512. >Aryanne stayed behind to personally guard him while you were escorted to the war room
  3513. >the black hand open the door and takes a step back for you to enter
  3514. >"right in here commander.."
  3515. >as you walk by he gives you seig heil and slowly closes the door
  3516. >the other ponies in the room take a second of their time to look over to you and give a sieg heil
  3517. >"HEIL MANOS!"
  3518. >you look around the room, the pure energy of it is a little staggering
  3519. >piles and piles of documents, a large map with hundreds of little models and detailed plans, walls of maps, graphs, and lists hang about
  3520. >Cadence walks up to you from her position in the center of the room
  3521. >"Lyra, since you are Manos' Hand you are my superior. but manos himself put me in charge of this operation until he returns.. i hope you will understand."
  3522. >you nod your head
  3523. "yes, of course. please carry on, im not one for warfare but i want to know exactly what is going on as its happening."
  3524. >Cadence gives you a nod then walks you over to the map
  3525. >she places her hoof on the city of Ponyville
  3526. >"as of now we have no control over the city, all forces we have that are able are held up in Castle Manos"
  3527. >she slides the models to the castle then taps the city center
  3528. "we dont know the numbers we will be facing but we know they are great, the city was lost in less than a hour."
  3529. >a Unicorn Stallion walks over to the table and places a few new models next to canterlot
  3530. >>"and we have just received word that the princesses have amassed an army and are already marching to take the city"
  3531. "well thats good then! they might be able to save the ponies before we even arrive"
  3532. >the hand and Cadence look to one another
  3533. >then Cadence speaks
  3534. >"knowing my auntie like i do.. she wont be willing to give it back to manos and the ponies, she will most likely use this as an excuse to take power from manos and the rest of us"
  3535.  
  3536. >You are Officer Cadence
  3537. >Lyra wont understand.. how could she? she was never in a high political station
  3538. >not like you and your aunts
  3539. >sometimes things needed to be done to keep face with the ponies
  3540. "most likely she will take back the city, say he is incapable of protecting the ponies or something similar, then take control of the city back... and if manos tries to argue or fight back it will only make himself look worse.."
  3541. >you look to Lyra
  3542. "its been done a few times before.. and she is really good at it."
  3543. >Lyra looks a little more worried about the situation you all are in
  3544. >perhaps she realizes how serious this whole thing is
  3545. >"we will worry about that later. whats important is that we get there and save those ponies."
  3546. "understood ma'am.."
  3547. >Lyra looks back to the door
  3548. >"i have to go.. i also have orders from manos.."
  3549. "speaking of manos.. what happened to him?"
  3550. >your voice came off a little more worried than you would have liked
  3551. >a small smile comes to Lyras face as she recognizes your concern
  3552. >"he is resting.. nothing to worry about."
  3553. >you calm down a bit
  3554. >you didnt notice how much your heart was racing once you started to think about manos again
  3555. "alright.. odd time to rest.."
  3556. >"well he seems to have been putting it off for too long, i promise ill tell you more once he awakens"
  3557. >Lyra exits the room leaving the operation to you
  3558.  
  3559. >you are Manos
  3560. >behind you is the glorious paradise you so desperately desire
  3561. >but you cannot enter yet, you're still alive, and you still have too much work to do
  3562. >you notice your footsteps are the only sounds you can hear in this empty void
  3563. "Discord?"
  3564. >you look back to the stairway
  3565. >both the great walls of Valhalla and the steps are gone
  3566. >discord is no where to be seen.
  3567. >you are finally alone..
  3568. >or are you?
  3569. >you continue to walk along the vast empty world
  3570. >a blank canvas for you to create worlds
  3571. >you close your eyes and imagine
  3572. >you imagine the void as a large desert with rolling sands
  3573. >you imagine a beautiful night sky with nothing obstructing your view of the stars and galaxies above
  3574. >you slowly open your eyes and before you in the scene you pictured
  3575. >you feel the cool air of the desert night and the dry winds
  3576. >you smell the sand and the dirt that is flying in the air
  3577. >and you hear... silence
  3578. >you look up to the sky and admire the stars and planets of worlds far away
  3579. >only one thing is missing from the perfect scene above
  3580. >only one last piece to find to perfect the heavens
  3581. >you start to walk across the desert sands in search for it
  3582. "she has always looked for me.. now its my turn.."
  3583. >you will find the moon.
  3584.  
  3585. >You are Aryanne
  3586. >you look to the clock on the wall
  3587. >time could not be going any slower
  3588. >its only been two hours since manos 'went to sleep'
  3589. >and the first few minutes he was struggling and moving in rapid motions
  3590. >then suddenly he just stopped.
  3591. >you look over to the still body on the bed
  3592. >you dont even notice yourself walking to his side
  3593. >you place your hoof on his still hand as you take a seat next to him
  3594. "please be ok when you awake.. we need your leadership"
  3595. >suddenly the door opens and you jump to your hooves
  3596. >you relax once you see its Lyra
  3597. >"is he any better?"
  3598. "yes.. he has calmed down.. knock next time, you nearly scared me to death"
  3599. >Lyra chuckles as she closes the door quietly behind her
  3600.  
  3601. >you are Silver Valor
  3602. >and you and the first wave have made it to the city
  3603. "I want that block captured by the end of the night!"
  3604. >you point your hoof in direction of the end of the street
  3605. >>"yes ma'am!"
  3606. >a squad of royal guards slowly advance the streets making sure to check their sides and the skies
  3607. >once they get about half way down the street they are barraged by arrow fire and javelins
  3608. >"pull back get behind cover"
  3609. >this city has way to many alleyways and choke points
  3610. "this is going to be a rough fight.."
  3611. >"Captain!"
  3612. >you turn your head to one of your recon pegasi
  3613. "where is the rest of your squad?"
  3614. >the pegasi is battered and bloody, you already know the answer before he gives it
  3615. "all over the streets.. and in the bellies of those damned beasts."
  3616. >you curse under your breath
  3617. >all of your messengers and recon squads are just picked off
  3618. >either by arrow fire or by any griffon fast enough to catch them
  3619. "well.. whats your report?"
  3620. >"the griffons have gathered and fortified one of the larger buildings in the square.. unfortunately that was a armory.."
  3621. >you face hoof
  3622. "so what you are saying is?"
  3623. >"they will have more than enough weapons and arrows to keep us held back.. we will need more forces or a better plan of attack"
  3624. "damn it.."
  3625. >>"CAPTAIN! we have incoming pegasi"
  3626. >you look to the skies and see around twenty or thirty pegasi in black come to a landing near the edge of town
  3627. >you look to the recon pegasi
  3628. "have those ponies brought to me. they should at least be informed of whats happening here.."
  3629. >"yes captain."
  3630. "and stay on secured paths! dont take to the sky unless its absolutely unavoidable!"
  3631.  
  3632. >you are Rainbow Dash
  3633. >you and your new command of black hand pegasi are the first to make to to ponyville
  3634. >you were lucky enough to be given the fastest fliers, but even they had to struggle to keep up with you
  3635. >"commander! the city seems to be occupied by both Griffon and equestrian forces"
  3636. "i can see that, follow me were going in for a quick landing! no need to fly into a storm if we can help it"
  3637. >you and your wings make a landing in front of a group of battered royal troops
  3638. >"halt, what is your unit?"
  3639. >you ignore the pony and walk to the pegasi approaching you
  3640. >"are you black hands?"
  3641. "yes. im commander Rainbow Dash of Manos' personal guard and this is my pegasi air wing"
  3642. >you motion to the other twenty or so pegasi in black uniforms behind you
  3643. >they are all looking to the sky or to the battered guards
  3644. "what is the situation here?"
  3645.  
  3646. >you are Manos
  3647. >your eyes are constantly looking to the sky for any sign of the moon
  3648. "i have no idea if this will even work.."
  3649. >there is a few strands of nebulae in the sky all seeming to stem from one point far in the distance
  3650. >you focus on that one point and you can feel the ground beneath you moving again
  3651. >much like when you imagined going to Valhalla
  3652. >the world flows around you and you feel like you are moving a million miles without taking a step
  3653. >you take a single step and you are standing before a rip in the world
  3654. >you are close enough to see the stands leaving from the hole in existence
  3655. >at a closer inspection you see thousands and thousands of lives
  3656. >you take a step inside the tear
  3657. "i hope this is what i think it is.."
  3658. >you feel your body being pulled from your mental world and into another
  3659. >at first it feels like a cold wind flowing through your body and sucking out the air n your lungs
  3660. >but as soon as you take notice the feeling is gone
  3661. >you fall to your knees and gasp for air for a few moments before looking up from the ground
  3662. >all around you are swirling vortexes and long paths going out across a large landscape
  3663. "hello?"
  3664. >your voice echos out for what seems to be miles
  3665. >then you hear a response
  3666. >hundreds of whispers all saying the same thing "hello?"
  3667. >you stand up slowly and begin to walk
  3668. >the ground feels uneven.. and.. not solid.
  3669. >you come to a stop and look down at your path
  3670. >the path below you is like a river of clouds and stars each being fueled by little stands going down into the land below
  3671. "what am i walking on?.."
  3672. >you kneel down and feel the substance
  3673. >as your hand makes contact you can see yourself flowing into the streams
  3674. >"you are walking on dreams Manos.. be careful where you step.."
  3675. >you look over your shoulder
  3676. >standing there is the missing piece of your sky the final part.
  3677. >the moon.
  3678. >Luna stands tall over you, her wings extended revealing a thousand nightmares being pulled from dreams of sleeping ponies
  3679. "its been a while hasnt it luna?"
  3680.  
  3681. >you are Rainbow Dash
  3682. >you are on your way to meet with the commander of the Royal troops in the city
  3683. >you walk down the streets with your ponies following close behind
  3684. >"the captain is right down the road here.. she should be inside that warehouse there"
  3685. >the pegasi extends a hoof to a reinforced building with royal guards
  3686. "thank you.. we can make it on our own from here."
  3687. >the pegasi nods and slowly walks off to a nearby medical station
  3688. >you happen to get a look inside as he walks in the door
  3689. >there are ponies covered in blood and medics running back and forth trying to save as many lives as they can
  3690. >you dont look for long, and continue your walk to the building
  3691. >you were told the skies were unsafe due to so many griffon archers and fliers in the area
  3692. >we will see how long THAT lasts now that you and your troop are here.
  3693. >as you get close to the building the guards give you a quick look over and step aside allowing you to enter
  3694. >you walk inside slowly the sounds of rushing hooves and papers filling the room
  3695. "im looking for a Silver Valor"
  3696. >a earth pony in a runners uniform shouts from his chair
  3697. >"she is on the third floor third room from the left!"
  3698. >you give him a nod and begin your search for the room
  3699. >despite the chaos in the building it was easy enough to find
  3700. >you slowly push open the door and step inside
  3701. "Captain Valor?"
  3702. >Silver Valor looks up from her table and over to you
  3703. >"ah so you must be the ponies that landed near our little city"
  3704. "it not your city its ours, those of us who grew up here, and those who made this place their home.. not the guards"
  3705. >Silver laughs calmly to herself
  3706. >"easy girl, you know what i meant. besides, i have no issue with the hands in fact i was there to see you rise"
  3707. >silver valor pulls out a small card with manos' mark on it then puts it back i her bag
  3708. >"i know that little paper doesnt mean anything anymore.. but it used to mean the world to ponies.."
  3709. "so you are with us?"
  3710. >"if by us you mean ponies? then yes"
  3711. "alright.."
  3712. >you take a few steps inside and close the door behind you
  3713. "whats the situation? the more i know the more lives i can save.'
  3714. >"well then i hope you know more than i do.."
  3715. >Silver Valor sighs before continuing
  3716. >"all i know for sure is that they are held up mostly in the center of town.. much like how we were during the riots."
  3717. >she taps the map
  3718. "that place is what connects this whole city together every main street passes through there. its the most critical location in this city."
  3719. >"exactly.. and whats worse is anytime we try to get close we get swarmed from all sides. like they know where we are"
  3720. "griffons hidden in the clouds perhaps?"
  3721. >"that is very likely, but we cant send enough pegasi up there to root them out! whenever we get close we get shredded by arrow fire"
  3722. "so what you're saying is... its bad here."
  3723. >the two of you share a small laugh at the bit of humor
  3724. >"yeah.. its bad here. my current orders are to hold until more reinforcements arrive."
  3725. "what do you have coming in for support?"
  3726. >"last i saw in canterlot we had a whole army waiting to move out. so.. it could be anything."
  3727. >thats good to know.
  3728. "alright.. what about the forest?"
  3729. >"what about it?"
  3730. "have you done any scouting there?"
  3731. >Silver shakes her head
  3732. >"no, our orders are just about the security of the city. nothing else."
  3733. >theres a possibility that black hands are held up in the castle
  3734. >that COULD be enough support to help take back a part of the city
  3735. "alright, my team and i will be moving out."
  3736. >"and doing what?"
  3737. "im afraid ill have to keep that to myself for now. if everything goes however.. this city might be freed sooner than later."
  3738.  
  3739. >you are manos
  3740. >luna takes a few steps forward and seems to be conflicted on what to say
  3741. >"manos, we have heard little from you. however what we have heard ABOUT you has given us much to think about."
  3742. "and i assume you have heard all of this from Celestia and her sources yes?"
  3743. >"of course. they are the most reliable sources and dear sister would never lie to us."
  3744. >you stand up and wipe your hands clean
  3745. "then what has she told you? perhaps you would honor me with a chance to defend any accusations?"
  3746. >for a moment luna is silent, perhaps judging whether or not to ask
  3747. >"is it true you have declared that the crystal kingdom is now your own empire?"
  3748. "of course. that is no secret."
  3749. >you look back to the dreams letting your eyes wander from one to the next
  3750. "its a new beginning for pony-kind, its our new Reich"
  3751. >as the word 'Reich' leaves you lips hundreds and hundreds of whispers repeat the word
  3752. >then dreams from the paths lift up and open letting you both see them clearly
  3753. >in the dreams ponies stand together in uniforms marching proudly
  3754. >each of them marching under your banner proud smiles on each of their faces
  3755. >>"heil Reich! heil manos!"
  3756. >the sounds repeat "heil Reich!" "heil manos" over and over
  3757. >more and more dreams open up all of them similar to the first
  3758. "and it seems your ponies have the same desire as i.. they want to be proud of thier kind.."
  3759. >you look back to Luna
  3760. >she seems unfazed, of course she would have already seen those dreams long before you.
  3761. >"and what of Equestria?.. what would happen to it?"
  3762. >that is a harder question.
  3763. "Equestria.. Equestria would eventually become one with us. all of pony-kind united under this one banner-"
  3764. >luna cuts you off
  3765. >"your banner. correct?"
  3766. >you take a moment to let her words linger
  3767. "no, not my banner. our banner. it may be my hand on the flags, but its the hopes and dreams of the ponies that make it important."
  3768. >"and after that. what of equestrias history? will it just be shrouded in mystery and forgotten?"
  3769. "of course not, why would that even come to your mind?"
  3770. >...
  3771. "heh has celestia convinced you of that too?"
  3772. >you feel a slight tugging at the back of your mind
  3773. >as if you are trying to be pulled away
  3774. >luna notices your discomfort
  3775. >"its dangerous for you to be outside your own dreams for too long manos."
  3776. >she smiles as she grabs you with her magic slowly moving you back to your own dreams
  3777. >"you are not accustomed to as like i am"
  3778. >as she finishes her words she drops you
  3779. >the world above slowly disappears into the distance
  3780. >you feel yourself falling then suddenly you are still
  3781. >no pain, no impact
  3782. >you sit up, apparently you were laying down..
  3783. >you turn your head back to the opening in the dreamworld
  3784. >the one you previously walked into.
  3785. "well.. i guess i wasnt as welcomed as i thought."
  3786. >you pick yourself up and begin to wait.
  3787. >you can feel yourself waking up.
  3788. >you feel yourself suddenly becoming heavier
  3789. >you never noticed how weightless you were in the dream world
  3790. >you slowly open your eyes to see two sleeping ponies at your bedsides
  3791. >on one side is Lyra her head on your hand breathing softly
  3792. >the other is Aryanne, her hooves on your hand
  3793. "i see i was given good company during my rest.."
  3794. >the ponies dont hear you
  3795. >you look to the clock the time is a few minutes past midnight
  3796. >you do your best to get out of bed without waking your slumbering 'guards'
  3797. >you place your hand on your sidearm making sure its still there
  3798. >it is, you go to your desk and pick up the notes that copper... that you made.
  3799. >you walk to the doorway and slowly open it
  3800. >one look back to the ponies sleeping there is your momentary goodbye
  3801. >you close the door behind you
  3802. "our time for our rise has finally come. and with my new designs.. this world will begin to see the light in our cause."
  3803. >the guards at the door ordered to guard you follow behind silent and listening to your words
  3804. "they will be indulged in the glory that is Valhalla"
  3805. >you look to your guards
  3806. "and i have seen its glory.. the place where all our ponies will rest in the afterlife.."
  3807. >you walk into your war room
  3808. >the motion in there comes to a sudden stop as everyone's eyes are now on you
  3809. >you speak calm and collected
  3810. "and Lo there do I see my father; Lo there do I see my mother"
  3811. >you look around to your ponies all curious to hear what you say
  3812. "i see my sisters and my brothers; Lo there do I see the line of our people, back to the beginning."
  3813. >you walk inside to the rooms center just above your maps
  3814. "they call me, and you. they bid we take our places among them, in the halls of Valhalla, where the brave may live forever."
  3815. >the room is still
  3816. >you place your new designs on the table in front of you
  3817. "its time that we begin our new crusade. and what better way to begin one, then where it all started"
  3818. >you look at the map your eyes fixed on ponyville city
  3819. "Cadence.. i have new orders for you."
  3820. >Cadence steps forward the room still seemingly without motion or sound
  3821. >"what are they manos?"
  3822. >you tap the new designs on the table
  3823. "get these to Honor Bound, they will be the start of a new era of warfare. one that even the most powerful nation isnt ready for."
  3824. >cadence looks down to the papers
  3825. >unlike your usual scribbles they are intricate and precise, as if you sunk many hours into every line.
  3826. "while the rest of the world will wave and throw sticks.. we shall unleash lead and fury."
  3827. >you look to the rest of the ponies in the room
  3828. "get me communications to all commanding ponies, i have their orders."
  3829. >one of the unicorn black hands in the room steps forward and lifts the communications crystals over to you
  3830. >around you are twelve or thirteen floating in the magical grip of the unicorn
  3831. "All units.. this is lord manos. stand by to receive orders. take no actions without approval from myself unless it is unavoidable"
  3832. >there is a moment of silence before a series of affirmatives return to you from the crystals
  3833. >lets play some war games...
  3834.  
  3835. >you are Rainbow Dash
  3836. >you and your unit have left the city and are taking a detour
  3837. >"commander.. where are we going? i dont see how this helps take back the city."
  3838. "you will follow orders, this place is my home dont doubt for a second! that im not going to save it!"
  3839. >the pegasi mare who questioned you recoils from your verbal thrashing
  3840. >"sorry commander"
  3841. >you have been walking for about an hour now and you have finally reached your desired entry point
  3842. >you are in a unguarded edge of everfree forest
  3843. "follow me, and stay within wings distance from each other, we will have to take a short hike"
  3844. >>"yes commander. lead the way"
  3845. >"out of the city into the woods..."
  3846. "and back again, dont you worry about that."
  3847. >>"All units.. this is lord manos. stand by to receive orders"
  3848. >you and your team stop your movement into the woods
  3849. >your plan might have to wait
  3850.  
  3851. >you are Manos
  3852. >first things first, the city will not be the same as in your maps.
  3853. >it will need to be updated, and quickly
  3854. "ill need a report from each location i am about to list off. you are to consider them hostile territory and be on guard"
  3855. >you wait for affirmatives from your commanders
  3856. "i want updated information on the outskirts of the city, block by block, including hostile and friendly presence."
  3857. >you move your finger down the map listing off each area section by section you need covered
  3858. "ill also want constant updates on enemy movement and allied deployment of royal forces, if it help you to visualize them as hostiles then so be it, i want everything to be known to me."
  3859. >you look to everfree
  3860. "are there any units near everfree at this time?"
  3861. >there are a few negatives and some silence
  3862. "then ill need--"
  3863. >"my command is just outside sir, what do you need?"
  3864. >rainbow dash? perhaps she already has an idea of what i need her to do
  3865. "i thought i told you to take back my skies commander?"
  3866. >"there was a bit of a change in plans, the skies are too well covered by griffon marksmen and speed fliers"
  3867. "then care to explain why you are there?"
  3868. >"yes sir, we were told there is a concentration of black hands and other resistance forces gathered in the castle.."
  3869. >that could be useful both in manpower and in a large intelligence update
  3870. "and you planned on linking up am i correct?"
  3871. >..
  3872. >"yes sir, that was the plan"
  3873. "carry on at your own digression."
  3874. >"yes sir."
  3875. >well thats one thing that seems to be going well
  3876. "alright commanders be ready to relay your current coordinates to me, do not list of yours until called."
  3877. >as you list off the names of your commanders, all thankfully recorded on a sheet in front of you, you notice a pattern
  3878. "alright..."
  3879. >...
  3880. "do i have ANY forces besides my Rainbow air squadron not gathered in the same damn location?!?"
  3881. >a single voice comes over the coms
  3882. >"sir our previous orders were to hold up at a forward base of operations and await further orders"
  3883. >then a few seconds later another voice speaks
  3884. >"actually sir, my command and i were separated from the rest because of an ambush, we took a few casualties but we are still in fighting condition"
  3885. "where is your current location?"
  3886. >you hear slight scrambling on the other end
  3887. >like the unfolding of a map
  3888. >"uh.. according to this sir. we are.. about a mile north of ponyville citys most eastern edge"
  3889. >you look over the map
  3890. "could you repeat that location commander?"
  3891. >a mile north of ponyvilles most eastern edge
  3892. "how the hell did you get there? who is this?"
  3893. >"uh, im-im Marble Sunset sir. our commander was killed in action and i was next in command."
  3894. >of course..
  3895. "alright Marble, stay in contact with me and keep me updated on your movements dont want you getting even more lost."
  3896. >"yes sir, we will await orders"
  3897. "to all other commanders, spread the forces out along the city, i want nothing getting in or out without our knowing it"
  3898. >>"yes lord! Heil manos, heil the Reich!"
  3899. >you motion for all the crystals to be returned to their previous operators besides the one lost division.
  3900. "alright Marble, here are your movement orders."
  3901.  
  3902. >you are Marble Sunset
  3903. >and thanks to a griffon attack you are now a commander..
  3904. >you were not ready for your sudden promotion
  3905. >"ill need you to move south, as of right now, SOMEHOW, you and your unit are on the opposite side of ponyville."
  3906. >you look at the map again
  3907. >were you really that far away from support?
  3908. >"so since you are effectively out of this engagement i have a special Op for you."
  3909. >your commander died right in front of you
  3910. >you are off course and separated from backup
  3911. >suddenly you are placed in command of you and your friends
  3912. >THEN your simple mission to link up became a special Ops!
  3913. >no pressure right?!
  3914. "L-lord, im worried, i dont think im ready for this"
  3915. >Manos snaps back over the coms
  3916. >"im giving you an order, ill determine if you are ready or not. understood?"
  3917. >you jump slightly from the sudden response
  3918. "yes lord, i apologize."
  3919. >"alright, now take a moment to breathe. thats an order."
  3920. >you take a few calming breaths and regulate your nerves
  3921. >"alright, now you will be taking a position behind the royal forces.."
  3922. >the royal forces? why?
  3923. >"here are your next movement coordinates mark as alpha bravo and charlie in that order."
  3924. "understood sir"
  3925. >manos lists off a few locations in a trail that leads to the main roads behind the royal forces
  3926. >"once you arrive at charlie you are to set up for observation a-firm?"
  3927. "yes lord. understood"
  3928. >you look up from the map to your new command
  3929. "alright everypony, we have new orders."
  3930. >"what are they sir?"
  3931. >a earth pony mare steps forward
  3932. >you cant quite remember her name..
  3933. "we are to follow this set path."
  3934. >you hold the map so she can see
  3935. "and then we are to take up observation points here.."
  3936. >she looks over the position
  3937. >"but.. but dont we already have that location secured? that area is completely controlled by the royal guard"
  3938. >thats what you thought too.
  3939. "those are our orders.. Lord Manos must know something we dont."
  3940. >the mare nods and looks back to the rest of the unit
  3941. >you do the same
  3942. "alright laides and gentlecolts. lets get moving. we have a observation post to setup."
  3943.  
  3944. >you are Manos
  3945. >you cant trust Celestias forces in this fight.
  3946. >on paper your nation and hers are at peace
  3947. >but unfortunately paper treaties will only go so far, and eventually the paper will rip"
  3948. "alright everyone. i want round the clock updates. everything will be recorded at all times, if Rainbow Dash asks for any reinforcements give what we can, but keep our forces stationed where i ordered. have my unicorns ready for a barrage soon."
  3949. >"sir?.. are you going to attack our own city?"
  3950. >you look back as you leave the room
  3951. "as of yesterday that city was lost. and even if it becomes rubble i WILL take it back. dont carry out any attacks unless i directly order them"
  3952. >"yes sir"
  3953. >"Heil manos"
  3954.  
  3955. >you are Rainbow Dash
  3956. >your unit is continuing into the woods.
  3957. >so far you have not made contact with anyone, pony or griffon.
  3958. >there is a dirt road ahead and a guard post that seems to be abandoned
  3959. >you signal for your team to stop and get low
  3960. >you nod to the post and a pony slowly moves up staying covered by the shrubbery
  3961. >she gives a all clear and you continue to move up and investigate
  3962. "search for anything useful. and keep an eye out for anything moving."
  3963. >"yes commander."
  3964. >as you get closer to the main building you can smell a familiar scent
  3965. "hey get over here and help me search this building"
  3966. >two of your pegasi get on your sides as you slowly open the doors
  3967. >the stench hits you before you can even see the room
  3968. >"UGH! whats that smell?"
  3969. >you know the smell
  3970. "death.."
  3971. >you open the door the rest of the way and inside are various bodies scattered across the room
  3972. "check those rooms stay close to one another, check for survivors"
  3973. >you take a quick note of the bodies
  3974. >there are several griffons piled up in here but most of the bodies are ponies.
  3975. >the hands definitely made sure to give as good as they got
  3976. >"this looks more like a feeding than an attack commander.. its disgusting"
  3977. >you agree, the griffons in here didnt even use many weapons, they preferred to claw and gouge the ponies
  3978. "we have seen enough, this area is cleared out, be on guard as we move closer to the castle"
  3979. >you look back once more as you exit the room
  3980. >you give a silent prayer to the fallen hands
  3981. "Valhalla awaits you.."
  3982. >you continue out into the woods
  3983. "follow the roads but dont travel on them, keep out of sight, you will live longer that way"
  3984. >like a pack of wolves you and your unit continue on into the woods. the scent of blood filling your noses
  3985. >the scent is getting stronger and stronger the closer you get to the castle
  3986. >"this smell cant be a good sign commander.."
  3987. "or a damn great one, now keep quiet until we get closer."
  3988. >there is a rustle in the bushes ahead of your unit and you all sink to the ground
  3989. >a battered and bloody pony is stumbling his way through to woods
  3990. >you can hear him mumbling
  3991. >he has large chucks of flesh hanging from his leg, and one of his eyes is far to bloody to still be there..
  3992. >its a very disturbing sight
  3993. >"commander orders?"
  3994. >the pony walks on closer and closer to your unit
  3995. >then there is another noise like flapping of large wings
  3996. >you look to the treeline just as two large griffins land on the pony
  3997. >the two start to toy with their captive
  3998. >"hahah.. he got a little further than we thought he would."
  3999. >>"not far enough though, whats wrong pony? couldn't find your friends out here?"
  4000. >"we already took care of that little hideaway"
  4001. >the pony mumbles more, to traumatized to actually function properly
  4002. >you cant just stand by and watch
  4003. >you burst from the bushes and make impact on the larger bird
  4004. >your unit quickly responds by swiftly doing the same to the other griffin as well as support you on your attack on the first
  4005. >your surprise advantage was enough to get the conflict over with swiftly
  4006. >unfortunately the pony you saved isnt even able to notice
  4007. >he is still just a mumbling wreck where he lays
  4008. "hey its ok youre safe."
  4009. >you turn your head to your medic
  4010. "medic, get over here and see what you can do"
  4011. >your medical stallion swiftly gallops to your side and inspects the pony
  4012. >he sighs and just shakes his head to you
  4013. >"to far gone, hes already dead, his body just doesnt know it yet"
  4014. >you do your best to comfort the pony as his body slowly goes limp
  4015. >you watch for a few more seconds then get a hold of yourself
  4016. "alright, leave the bodies.. we still have a mission"
  4017. >"yes commander."
  4018. >your unit slowly moves on but you take another look at the pony
  4019. >you dont know why, but you walk back to him and rip the patch off his uniform and place it in your pocket
  4020. >you look for another second or two then continue to move out
  4021. >the castle getting closer with every step you take
  4022. >one step closer to your objective
  4023. >one step closer to Valhalla.
  4024.  
  4025. >you are Marble Sunset
  4026. >you have finally made it to the location designated to you
  4027. "alright, here we are"
  4028. >you look around at the surrounding area
  4029. >you are on a small overlook in a lightly forested area
  4030. >your unit start to slow to a stop
  4031. "orders were to set up a observation post."
  4032. >you take a minute to recall exactly what you are supposed to do..
  4033. "ok i want a small trench made long the overlook with foliage cover, keep all buildings small and easy to abandon in a moment"
  4034. >you look back to the road to see a group of royal guards marching down the road into the city
  4035. "i guess im supposed to observe the royals.."
  4036. >you take the best position you can find doing your best to stay unnoticed as you take out your journal
  4037. "god damn it, this would be so much easier if i was a unicorn"
  4038. >your position is rather uncomfortable but you can record everything as you see it
  4039. >and you are a faithful soldier
  4040. >a solder doesn't question orders, he follows them.
  4041.  
  4042. >you are Rainbow Dash
  4043. >your unit has arrived at the outskirts of the castle
  4044. >bodies are laying around both pony and griffons
  4045. >you slowly advance through the battlefield making sure to check each body for survivors
  4046. "alright, lets move inside. you three keep guard outside make sure nothing comes in behind us"
  4047. >"yes commander"
  4048. "alright the rest of you follow me inside we still have our mission"
  4049. >you and your unit move in the castle each member keeping their eyes peeled for an ambush
  4050. >"commander, do you think anypony is still alive in here?"
  4051. >you dont acknowledge the question
  4052. >suddenly in the corner of the room there is a sudden noise of a weapon dropping
  4053. >you quickly look to the direction of the noise
  4054. "spread out and converge at that position"
  4055. >some of your pagasi lift into the sky in the large room trying to get a better view
  4056. >as you get closer to the noise you start to see a silhouette of a pony
  4057. >"commander a survivor!"
  4058. "im commander rainbow dash of manos' black hands. identify yourself!"
  4059. >there is a silence
  4060. "i repeat! identify yourself!"
  4061. >the pony crawls out of his hiding spot
  4062. >>"keep your voice down!"
  4063. >what..?
  4064. "i am your commanding officer, you will not give me orders!"
  4065. >>"shut up! be quiet or they'll--"
  4066. >there is a scittering noise along the ceiling and a few of the walls then suddenly it stops
  4067. >>"oh fuck, oh fuck. no no. nonononono."
  4068. >the black hand quickly gets to his hooves and runs down the hall
  4069. "wait! get back here!"
  4070. >you take off in pursuit eventually taking flight to gain more speed
  4071. >you can hear your unit following behind you
  4072. >"commander!"
  4073. >you tackle the pony to the ground
  4074. >he struggles and fights you off of him
  4075. >>"get off of me! GET OFF!"
  4076. >you feel a sudden and sharp pain in your ribs as he finally gets free
  4077. >>"im not going to die here!"
  4078. >you watch the pony vanish into the dark halls as you slowly begin to pass out
  4079. >"commander?.. Commander?!.. the commander has been wounded! medic! MEDIC!"
  4080.  
  4081. >you are Manos
  4082. >the R&D labs have been thrown into overtime
  4083. >there are at least double the amount of scientists here as before
  4084. "honor bound must have called in everyone he could"
  4085. >thats good, more minds at work the faster things will get done
  4086. >"excuse me lord"
  4087. >you take a step to the side as a pony in a lab coat pushes a cart down the hall
  4088. "hold up a second."
  4089. >you approach the cart
  4090. >on it are a series of different crystals and metals
  4091. >you pick up one of the vibrant red crystals
  4092. >"ah! be careful with that one lord its very unstable."
  4093. "what does it do?"
  4094. >"well, as for what it DOES, it explodes violently when enough force is applied. but as for what we are doing with it there are several things"
  4095. >the scientists smiles at you with a look that says 'please ask'
  4096. "which are?"
  4097. >"IM GLAD YOU ASKED!"
  4098. >great...
  4099. >he grabs the crystal with his magic and gently sets it back into its container
  4100. >"well since we started to study your 'engine' we found that it needs a fuel source, a combustible fuel source"
  4101. >he shows you all of the crystals he has on the cart
  4102. >"and each one of these are combustible. of course your design required a fluid well we have been modifying and creating one of our own!"
  4103. "one that doesnt require a liquid?"
  4104. >"nope! of course its in a very early development"
  4105. "are you on your way to test it?"
  4106. >"no, not until later in the evening. right now im off to find out which of these are most compatible with out design"
  4107. >you step aside to let him carry on in his work
  4108. "have honor bound keep me informed on this. id like to see how it progresses."
  4109. >"of course lord."
  4110.  
  4111. >you are Rainbow Dash
  4112. >and you are unconscious
  4113. >or, you were.. you are waking up
  4114. >you are in a unlit room and it takes your eyes a while to adjust
  4115. >there are ponies all around you
  4116. >"commander youre awake! get up we need to get moving!"
  4117. "where are we?.. what happened?..."
  4118. >>"get moving! we need to go now!"
  4119. >you feel yourself being lifted
  4120. >"i heard you the first time you damned bird! we are not leaving our commander"
  4121. >>"fine bet get inside the room quickly! i dont know how much time we have!"
  4122. >before you register whats going on a large griffon and two black hands are carrying you into a smaller and more lit room
  4123. >you are placed on a makeshift bed inside the room
  4124. >your eyes are having issue making out whats inside but from the looks of it there are a number of both ponies and griffons inside
  4125. >most of the occupants are civilians that gathered here once the attack started
  4126. >at least thats what you assume
  4127. "whats going on.. why are there griffons in here?"
  4128. >you slowly get to your hooves
  4129. >a black hand from your unit supports you
  4130. >"dont push yourself commander. we can explain everything."
  4131. >>"if we dont all die first, thanks to you insolent hands they know there are more of us alive in here!"
  4132. >"shut up you fucking chimera bastard, this whole situation is your kinds fault!"
  4133. >>"OUR KIND!? what the hell did we do?"
  4134. "enough! someone, explain this to me, NOW. as commanding officer and highest ranking black hand i am now in charge! tell me what has happened here.."
  4135. >the arguing stops and everyone in the room looks to you.
  4136. >"commander.. remember when manos has us move everything out to the crystal kingdom?"
  4137. "yes."
  4138. >"well they cut a few corners it turns out, and not.. everything was taken or destroyed.."
  4139. "what do you mean?"
  4140. >"well either they didnt know, or didnt care, but apparently they left a"
  4141. >the griffon takes a few steps forward and jabs a talon at you
  4142. >>"YOUR superiors decided to leave behind what is now a BIG nest of changelings behind."
  4143. >the black hand who was interrupted glares at the griffon and then continues
  4144. >"OR they didnt know about it. it was no secret that one of our more.. notable.. leaders did a few things we wish we could take back"
  4145. >the mare then looks to you with a much softer face than the griffon
  4146. >"they might have just not known that he had another secret experiment set up here, it was in a top security area"
  4147. >she then looks back to the bird
  4148. >"which would have been sealed away and contained if YOU birds didnt decide to try and loot the fucking place when you attacked!'
  4149. >>"how were we supposed to know that you bat shit insane ponies would be storing a whole nest of changelings?!"
  4150. "ENOUGH!"
  4151. >you look to the griffon
  4152. "who is your commander here?"
  4153. >he remains silent and looks to the other remaining griffons
  4154. >there is only a handful of them in the room
  4155. >>"i guess that would be me. all our officers were killed."
  4156. >you look him dead in the eyes
  4157. "if thats the case I am the highest ranking officer here. I will be in command here."
  4158. >he scoffs
  4159. >>"yeah ok, let you take command? you will just turn on us the moment you see fit, or waste us right now."
  4160. >the other ponies in the room, especially the civilians look nervous.
  4161. >you take notice of the amount of innocent ponies in the room with you
  4162. >most of them are still children
  4163. >and children wouldnt have a chance without everyone here helping to get them out
  4164. >you sigh, as much as you hate it.. you will have to work with those birds..
  4165. "if we get out of here and complete this mission, i will let you all return to your own kind unharmed."
  4166. >the griffon just looks you in the eyes
  4167. >searching for any form of deceit
  4168. >>"what is this mission?"
  4169. >its one that has just changed..
  4170. "we need to eliminate that nest.."
  4171.  
  4172. >you are marble sunset
  4173. "hey.. heyheyhey!"
  4174. >you tap the pony next to you who very professionally.. fell asleep on recon duty.
  4175. >he shakes his head and wakes up
  4176. >"yeah what is it?"
  4177. >you point a hoof to the road
  4178. >exiting the city is a group of ponies in black coats
  4179. >they are surrounded by royal guards and in different restraints
  4180. "what do you think thats about?"
  4181. >the stallion looks through his binoculars
  4182. >"well.. it looks like.."
  4183. >you see him trying to look closer by extending his neck
  4184. >"thats a group of gestapo!"
  4185. "what?"
  4186. >"yeah! i can tell! i got a glimpse of the patch on the neck of that front one!"
  4187. >you grab the binoculars from him and take a look for yourself
  4188. >sure enough on the front of one of the ponies coats is a mark of the gestapo
  4189. "what are they doing taking them away like that?"
  4190. >"i thought we were on the same side, damned royals, no wonder equestria is so low on the food chain."
  4191. "too busy tearing ourselves apart"
  4192. >you observe their movement for a bit longer
  4193. >one of the royal guards walk up to a gestapo member and they talk
  4194. >you try to get a better view.
  4195. >you nearly drop your binoculars when you notice the gestapo the guard is talking to isnt in restraints
  4196. >in fact he seems to be getting along well with the guard and continues to point to the others in restraints
  4197. >you see one of the gestapo on chains spit at him and the guard
  4198. >its not long before he is 'punished' for his action
  4199. >you set down the binoculars and record everything you have just seen.
  4200. >in as much detail as you can
  4201. >"sir?"
  4202. "take those and describe EVERYTHING you can to me"
  4203. >the stallion looks over the scene
  4204. >"sir?"
  4205. "yes?"
  4206. >"arnt we going to help them?"
  4207. "just describe whats going on soldier.."
  4208. >there is a uneasy silence between the two of you
  4209. >"yes sir.."
  4210. >your orders were to do recon, and not to engage.
  4211. >orders are orders.
  4212. >you whisper to yourself so the other pony cant hear you
  4213. "im sorry brothers.."
  4214. >besides the sounds of the pony next to you describing the scene the rest of the world seems quiet
  4215. >you are completely focused on your mission
  4216. >is this what being a solder is really like...
  4217. >not a few hours ago you were nervous and afraid, worried you were not fit for commanding a unit
  4218. >now you dont care about your previous thoughts and your mind is centered
  4219. >you look up from your notes and you see the group of captives and guards leaving
  4220. >the stallion next to you sets down his binoculars
  4221. >"we should have done something.."
  4222. >you close the journal and place it in your bag
  4223. >he looks over to you
  4224. >"why didnt we? if we all went in we could have rescued them."
  4225. >you settle into your spot again trying to make it more comfortable
  4226. >you hear a sigh from the stallion as he gives up on his questioning
  4227. >sometimes you dont get answers to the questions you want
  4228. >and sometimes you shouldnt be asking the questions
  4229. >this is one of those two times, youre just not sure which one it is.
  4230.  
  4231. >you are Rainbow Dash
  4232. >after a quick headcount you see you are down three pegasi from your unit
  4233. >but you have now a slightly larger force from taking command of the Black Hands here
  4234. "ah, my side hurts"
  4235. >you place a hoof over your now bandaged sides
  4236. >to your dismay that only makes it hurt more and you quickly pull it back
  4237. "alright.. where exactly is this nest located?"
  4238. >the griffon from before whose name you have learned is Odysseus points at the door
  4239. >"its right at the end of the hall."
  4240. "that seems a little close dont you think?"
  4241. >"saying it out loud definitely makes it sound that way, but it really isnt"
  4242. >he walks over to a wooden table and scratches a very crude map of the R&D wing
  4243. >you can only barely tell its even a map
  4244. >"this large doorway here is the only way in or out of that area, the nest is somewhere inside"
  4245. >a black hand in a R&D uniform keeps looking over to you from behind the griffon
  4246. >he never speaks up and instead lets the bird explain the way there
  4247. >but you can tell he has his own idea
  4248. >"it would either be in here, the main storage area that we initially opened. when we.. liberated this place."
  4249. >he scratches an X on the room
  4250. >"or it would be in the larger room attached to it just on the opposite side"
  4251. "alright, give me a few minutes i need to get this wound checked on."
  4252. >"alright, but make it quick the sooner we do this the sooner we can leave"
  4253. >you walk away from the griffon and walk to one of your medics
  4254. >you notice the R&D unicorn from before walks behind you and takes a spot next to you as you get your wound checked
  4255. >>"commander Rainbow Dash."
  4256. >you wince at the discomfort from the medic removing the old bandages and tightly applying new ones
  4257. "yeah."
  4258. >>"you dont really plan on destroying this nest do you?"
  4259. "of course i do, why wouldnt i?"
  4260. >the unicorn looks to the medic and wait for him to finish his work
  4261. >>"this nest, while crude and violent, could be a great boon to our research on the changelings"
  4262. "why would you want to study these ones? what makes them so special"
  4263. >>"absolutely nothing, besides the fact they somehow have made a nest without a queen present."
  4264. >that is rather odd..
  4265. >>"we always thought a queen was necessary for a nest or hive, otherwise they would just be to chaotic to get much done"
  4266. >the scientist looks over to the griffons
  4267. >>"but it seems they arent, and id like to find out why."
  4268. "what would you do then? if you were in charge."
  4269. >the unicorn chuckles
  4270. >>"id simply seal the door and come back with a science team for later study"
  4271. "and you dont think sealing the door would be simple?"
  4272. >>"its closing a door commander. the only thing you would need is a distraction to keep them occupied while the door closes"
  4273. >he nods to the griffons
  4274. >>"it would be a shame if they got bad orders and the door was sealed behind them, wouldnt you agree?"
  4275.  
  4276. >you are Manos
  4277. >you continue your walk down the R&D laboratories
  4278. >as you pass each room you take a glance inside
  4279. >both to look for Honor Bound and to see what new studies are being done
  4280. >most of the rooms are just ponies looking over files and papers scribbling scientific data
  4281. >but there are a few that catch your eye
  4282. >one room had a few ponies replicating ammunition for the weapons you currently have
  4283. >a few other rooms had ponies trying to build a copy of the vehicle you brought back
  4284. >they are getting pretty close, but they dont have a working engine yet so its just a pile of metal on wheels
  4285. >finally you find Honor Bound
  4286. >he and cadence are looking over the designs you recently made
  4287. >both the new weapon and the plans to adapt the older ones to ponies
  4288. "how is everything shaping up Honor Bound?"
  4289. >the two ponies turn to you
  4290. >"Lord manos"
  4291. >Honor Bound bows his head
  4292. >"everything is going smoothly, however i have a few questions about you new designs"
  4293. "go ahead and ask"
  4294. >you walk inside and take a look at the collected designs both yours and other scientists
  4295. >"this new weapon.. the ammunition used in it seems like it would be different from that we currently have replicated."
  4296. "yes, it uses a different ammunition, it would be very similar to the smaller ones you have studied but a few changes. it shouldnt be too hard for your scientists to figure out"
  4297. >"i will have a team start research and development immediately. the sooner we have this new weapon the better."
  4298. >you look over to Cadence
  4299. "and while i have you here Cadence, ive been meaning to ask you something, what have you been doing with my little pet queen?"
  4300. >Cadence smiles a little proud of herself
  4301. >>"as of a few days ago she has been assisting me with keeping changelings in our camps orderly, its rather amazing how those little parasites can suddenly become perfect laborers"
  4302. >you dont look nearly as excited as she seems to be
  4303. "you really think thats a good idea?"
  4304. >Cadence smiles and walks to your side
  4305. >"dont worry about it Manos, i have her under control. if anything starts to go wrong ill put a stop to it."
  4306. "if anything goes wrong Cadence, it will go very wrong. keep her on a tight leash, but make sure she thinks we are in the right."
  4307. >you turn your attention back to Honor
  4308. "i heard you have a test coming up for a new engine?"
  4309. >>"yes Lord, we have a few trials to run and we need to decide on an effective power source but if everything goes well then we should be able to produce them quite easily"
  4310. "just be sure they can me manufactured soon, the longer this takes the harder it will be for us to make effective use of them."
  4311. >you stand up and look to your designs
  4312. "everything needs to be ready soon. war is already here, and we cannot afford to lose anything"
  4313. >speaking of war, perhaps you already have a weapon to use in the front..
  4314. >one that is older than warfare itself, but still as effective as it was when it was created.
  4315. "if you two will excuse me, i could only spare a few moments here. there is still a battle going on"
  4316. >"of course lord. and dont worry about our projects here, i can assure you. everything will be up and running soon sir."
  4317. >you give Honor Bound a look
  4318. >a 'dont make promises you're not sure you can keep' look
  4319. >>"and ill be sure to keep that bug in line Manos, dont worry. you can trust me."
  4320. "if you two insist. i leave this to you then, but i expect to hear good news on that engine soon."
  4321. >they give you a sieg heil and you leave the labs
  4322. >time for another change to warfare in this little world
  4323.  
  4324. >you are Aryanne
  4325. >you wake up with your head on Manos' bed
  4326. >as soon as your eyes open you notice something is different
  4327. >you look to the bed
  4328. "MANOS IS GONE!"
  4329. >the sound of your shout makes Lyra awake and fall from her spot onto the floor
  4330. >she quickly gets back up and looks at you and the bed
  4331. >"WHAT where did he go?! and why didnt he wake us up?!"
  4332. "i dont know!"
  4333. >why are the two of you yelling anyway?
  4334. >you stand up and check the room
  4335. >everything seems to be fine, besides the absent Manos.
  4336. "you think he got enough sleep?"
  4337. >Lyra shrugs
  4338. >"he might have, but any amount of sleep would have helped at this point. he might be feeling fine now"
  4339. "even if he is feeling fine again, we should find him."
  4340. >you are his personal guard, and that does require you to know where he is
  4341. "come on lets check the war room first, i have a feeling he might be there."
  4342. >the two of you leave the dark bedroom
  4343.  
  4344. >you are Manos
  4345. >you walk down the streets of your Reich.
  4346. >many ponies give you sieg heils, which you return with a smile and a nod
  4347. >this sudden war will be hard on them, ponies are just not used to warfare... yet
  4348. >you take a moment to look up at the large castle in front of you
  4349. >it seems odd that you have been inside and out so many times but you never really looked at it
  4350. >the large towers of crystal reach to pierce the skies
  4351. >the large banners of red clearly visible even in the furthest of locations, demanding the attention of anyone who looks
  4352. >your marks, your banner, your Reich.
  4353. "this little kingdom is just the beginning.."
  4354. >now is not the time for day dreaming
  4355. >you enter your castle and make your way back to your war room.
  4356. >there is a battle going on, and every edge you can get is necessary.
  4357.  
  4358. >you are Aryanne
  4359. >Lyra walks next to you as the two of you make your way to find Manos
  4360. >every Black Hand you pass gives you a salute
  4361. >its not very often that the two highest ranking ponies are seen together.
  4362. >well.. until recently
  4363. >as you walk you check every hall and room you pass just in case manos might be inside
  4364. "i cant believe he didnt wake us up"
  4365. >"its not like he cant take care of himself."
  4366. "you saw how he was acting before. how do we know he has had enough rest? what if he is chasing ghosts?"
  4367. >Lyra doesnt seem to share your concern and just shrugs
  4368. >"I have faith that manos will be fine. he has survived much worse than a few days without sleep."
  4369. >thats true.. but still, his safety is YOUR priority
  4370. >your thoughts are interrupted by Lyra tapping on your shoulder
  4371. >"there he is."
  4372. >you hurriedly look to the direction she is pointing
  4373. >and sure enough there is Manos, walking down the halls escorted by several Black hands and a R&D pony
  4374. >you quickly check your uniform and snap to attention giving a sieg heil
  4375. "HEIL MANOS!"
  4376. >Lyra bows her head with a soft smile on her face
  4377. >Manos and his company come to a stop
  4378. >>"sleep well you two?"
  4379. >he returns with a small seig heil himself by raising his hand slightly above his shoulder
  4380. >>"i hope you are rested because we have a battle to win in Ponyville"
  4381. "Yes sir. lead the way."
  4382. >Manos' tall form slowly walks to your side and then moves to the direction of the war room
  4383. >you follow close behind the current ponies behind him giving you space as well as now protecting Lyra
  4384. >as he reaches the doors he waves over the R&D pony who hands him a small box
  4385. >>"thank you. let us get back to the task at hand. taking back the capital of our movement"
  4386. >the doors slowly open and the ponies inside all take a moment to look to the new arrivals
  4387. >once they see its Lord Manos they all give a sieg heil and most return to work while the organizers all gather for orders
  4388. >>"get me communications with all commanders."
  4389. >"yes lord!"
  4390.  
  4391. >You are Rainbow Dash
  4392. >so far the plan has gone well.
  4393. >you have made it down most of the hall to the final doors
  4394. >"alright pony."
  4395. >the large griffon takes a position next to you keeping low
  4396. >everyone here is nervous
  4397. >this will most likely be a one way trip for most of you
  4398. >"whats the final move?"
  4399. >your pegasi take positions around the last stretch to the large security door just a few yards away
  4400. >just beyond that door is the hive
  4401. >the hive that somehow was created without a queen
  4402. >the words from the Scientist keep repeating in your head
  4403. >"id like to find out why" "this nest could be a great boon to our research" "simply close the door with the griffons inside"
  4404. >the more you think about it the better the idea sounds
  4405. >how can you think that?! youre the element of Loyalty! and you made a promise to the griffons.
  4406. >the griffons.. those birds that have been destroying your home
  4407. >that killed that pony in the woods who was no threat
  4408. >he was already gone before they got to him.
  4409. >you look over to the griffon
  4410. "give me just a second."
  4411. >the bird gives you a glare
  4412. >"alright but hurry it up. the longer we wait the more likely we dont get out of here."
  4413. "yeah. i know."
  4414. >you crawl over to some of your own pegasi
  4415. >they all await your orders.
  4416. >"commander?"
  4417. "theres been a slight change in the plan.."
  4418. >you are loyalty and you made a promise that you intend to keep.
  4419. >a promise you made to yourself.. to the citizens of ponyville, to that pony in everfree, to manos
  4420. >You are Rainbow Dash. the Element of Loyalty.
  4421. >and now its time to prove it.
  4422. "here are your orders."
  4423. >you give the orders to your pegasi
  4424. >they all nod their heads with a determined look on their faces
  4425. >"as you command. heil manos"
  4426. "heil manos"
  4427. >you return to the griffon and his remaining force
  4428. >"get everything settled then?"
  4429. "yes everything is ready, here is the plan from this point onward."
  4430. >you motion for the griffons to come over and hear
  4431. "how much flying have you birds done recently?"
  4432. >the griffons look to one another before coming up with a quick estimation
  4433. >"not much, we got here a few days ago so not since then."
  4434. "good that means you will be much faster than we are... what im going to ask you will depend on a lot of trust though."
  4435. >"and what are you asking?"
  4436. "im going to need you to go in first and create a distraction to pull most of the changelings away from the furthest door"
  4437. >you are quickly cut off by a few protesting griffons
  4438. >but the griffon you have been talking with previously stops them
  4439. >"enough!.. we will do it. she made a promise to get us out of here when this is over."
  4440. >he looks back to you
  4441. >"and i believe she will keep it."
  4442. "alright. so are you ready?"
  4443.  
  4444. >you are Manos
  4445. >you stand in the center of the room with the crystals all connected to various commanders
  4446. >you nod your head to the ponies in the room signaling you are ready to begin
  4447. >"your connected lord. you have the attention of all active commanders in the field"
  4448. "my faithful ponies... today i have a message for you all."
  4449.  
  4450. >you are Marble sunset
  4451. >and Manos is speaking over the communications
  4452. >"i have a message for you all.."
  4453. >you quickly and quietly move back to the campsite so the other ponies can hear
  4454. "silence everyone, manos is speaking to us all."
  4455. >the others make their way over to you and gather around the crystal
  4456. >"as you are all aware, ponyville is lost. but we will take her back."
  4457.  
  4458. >you are Rainbow Dash
  4459. >and you can barely hear the muffled voice of manos coming from your bag
  4460. >its too quiet for anyone else to hear but you can hear it clearly
  4461. >"the griffons have taken lives of innocent ponies, of foals and elderly ponies."
  4462. >you listen in a bit getting a little distracted from the situation
  4463. >"they are monsters, they deserve no mercy. from us, or from anyone."
  4464. >you look to the door just as the griffons charge inside
  4465. >as soon as they do there is a very loud wave of buzzing and clicks from the room
  4466. >soon to be followed by screams and the sounds of battle
  4467. >you and your ponies move in, standing just outside the room
  4468. >you can see the other door across the hall leading to the hive
  4469. >its clear, for the most part, and you get ready to move in on it
  4470. >you look back to your pegasi, then to the door again.
  4471. "im loyalty.."
  4472. >Manos' voice again comes to your attention
  4473. >"they have tortured and killed hundreds of your family and friends. and for what?.. for something as trival.. as greed."
  4474. >you hesitate
  4475. >"they are no better than the changelings in our camps.. no, in fact my ponies, they are far worse."
  4476. >you gently set your hoof back down and look to the door..
  4477. >"they killed for greed and fun, at least those beasts in our camps did it to survive."
  4478.  
  4479. >you are Marble Sunset
  4480. >you continue to listen to lord manos
  4481. >"but these griffons are not beasts, they can think, they can decide. just like we can."
  4482. >you look to your ponies and they have various looks on their face
  4483. >some determined, others sad or just calmly listening.
  4484. >"and they decided to become monsters.. think about that.. they chose to kill, murder, and burn. for no reason other than a few bits."
  4485. >you look to see one of your ponies spit in disgust
  4486. >"some of you might be asking what we fight for.. to those i say look to ponyville. look to the once proud city. its in ruin! bodies litter the streets and fires still burn! we have innocent ponies trapped inside being tortured! thats why we fight!"
  4487.  
  4488. >you are Manos
  4489. "we fight for our own protection! because the world looks down on us! they see us as weak little creatures they can walk over without a fuss!"
  4490. >there are a few ponies in the room recording what you are saying
  4491. >others continue to work just more determined than before
  4492. "they will learn otherwise. every day we grow stronger. with new weapons, new tactics, and the promise of Valhalla awaiting us."
  4493. >now that you have them wrapped into your speech its time to push it further
  4494. "but, there is another enemy besides the griffon that wish to prey on us. to keep us weak while they remain strong."
  4495. >though the ponies listening cannot see it, those in the room can.
  4496. >your face becomes more serious and determined as your eyes fall onto a letter waiting for you
  4497. >sealed with the royal mark
  4498. "The Royalists. the Sisters of the Sun and Moon..."
  4499. >you wait for a moment, before continuing
  4500. "for over a thousand years they have remained in power. now when a new way of life has been shown they suppress it, i myself have been arrested several times, accused of crimes, and have had been personally insulted by the sisters for what ive done. and what have i done my ponies? what crimes have i committed?"
  4501. >you take the letter and read over it
  4502. "well, i have a letter here.."
  4503. "a letter, from the sisters, for a request to become a equal ruler as them, and for equestria to be stabilized and have any conflicts come to an end, what is their response to this offer? denied.. 'Manos, my sister and I have discussed your proposal for your prince hood of equestria an continual ruling of the Crystal Kingdom. im afraid this cannot be accepted as we fear you have ulterior motives and a desire for world conquest which Princess Luna and myself cannot allow."
  4504. >you forcefully smash the letter down so those listening my hear.
  4505. "even after all we do. after a chance for peace for an equal distribution of power amongst us so that we cannot become more powerful than the others. i am denied. we.. and our Reich have been denied. to even go as far as to not refer to our Reich as its own nation.."
  4506. >you then look to the reports that you have been given from marble sunsets updates
  4507. "but thats not all the Royalists have done.. and, i wish this part wasnt true, because it leaves little options for me. i have, multiple reports.. and accounts from my own personal guards, as well as accusations from loyal guards that the princesses have been kidnapping, arresting, and torturing ponies who are associated with our Reich."
  4508. >you set down the reports and walk over to the maps
  4509. "she has already started a war with our small nation. in every sense of the word. she just hasnt declared it yet, so my ponies. here are my next orders... you are to enter the city, and remove all of our enemies. be they griffon.. or Royalists. we shall get our ponies back, we shall give the princesses the war they have already started..."
  4510.  
  4511. >you are Rainbow Dash
  4512. >you stand with your ponies just outside the room
  4513. >you can hear screams and pleas for help inside along with the noise of changelings biting and ripping apart the griffons inside
  4514. >then you hear the door slowly close with a loud clang
  4515. >"commander the door has been sealed shut"
  4516. >loyalty
  4517. "then lets head back, those ponies are still held up in that room waiting for the all clear"
  4518. >as you and your command start to walk away you can hear the voices of the griffons inside
  4519. >"you killed us!" "you damn pony traitors!!"
  4520. >you calmly respond as you continue to walk
  4521. "i gave my loyalty to the Reich, and to manos, not to animals like you. heil manos"
  4522. >the others in your command all respond as one
  4523. >"Heil manos! heil the Reich!"
  4524. >walking back from the halls you notice something a little strange
  4525. >you cant quite tell what it is.
  4526. >"commander. now that the mission has been accomplished whats next?"
  4527. >you look to your pegasus ponies
  4528. "first we get back to those held up in this castle"
  4529. >you continue to walk as you speak
  4530. "we tell them the griffons and the changelings are taken care of and that any active military ponies still here are now under my command. we will search this castle from bottom to top for any survivors as well as clear out any changelings or griffons we might find."
  4531. >you happen to look down and see there is some changeling carapace stuck to your uniform
  4532. >you brush it off without a second thought
  4533. >"yes commander."
  4534.  
  4535. >you are manos
  4536. >and you have finished your speech to your black hands in the field.
  4537. >now come their next orders.
  4538. "to any able unicorns, this is your next mission. you are to amplify the sound of my voice coming from the crystals to be as loud as you can, i want the whole city to be echoing my words"
  4539. >there is a slight pause in actions in the room, mostly from curiosity
  4540. >you look down to the map that has the current positions of your forces
  4541. "you should each be surrounding the city in a blockade. once you have the areas i have previously ordered properly secured you will being to amplify my voice and defend your positions until i give any further orders. is this clear?"
  4542. >a series of affirmatives are given
  4543. "let me know as soon as you are ready and able to proceed, Seig Heil"
  4544. >"SEIG HEIL!"
  4545. >you set down the crystal and look around the room.
  4546. "could someone please fetch Cadence for me? she will be needed for this next part."
  4547.  
  4548. >you are Cadence
  4549. >even with the current situation in Ponyville the Changelings still need to be looked after.
  4550. >currently you are doing your daily routine of checking the output and removal rates of each of your camps
  4551. >you always get a warm fuzzy feeling whenever you see the removal rates.
  4552. >"Commander Cadence ma'am"
  4553. >you look up from your desk to see a Black Hand giving you a seig heil
  4554. >you look back to your desk and reports
  4555. "yes? what is it?"
  4556. >"Lord Manos has requested your presence in the war room. he said you are integral to the next phase in his current operation."
  4557. >you get up from your desk and look out to the main guard tower
  4558. >from here you can barely see Queeny looking out over the camps with two Black Hands by her sides
  4559. >she makes the perfect guard.
  4560. >you see her gesture to a shack and soon there are several guards and changeling enforcers entering it
  4561. >they soon come out holding several changelings to the ground in the middle of the yard
  4562. >from here you cant hear what is being said by the parasites
  4563. >but you dont care, this is your favorite part.
  4564. >"Cadence ma'am? are you ready to go?"
  4565. "yes yes, one moment. i just want to see these last few moments"
  4566. >just as you finish your comment a group of weaker and starving changelings are assembled in orderly rows
  4567. >if you concentrate you can hear Queeny's voice in the distance
  4568. >"you disgusting parasites have been hording contraband as well as slacking in your duties. you are unfit for labor in my camps!"
  4569. >you see her nod once to the enforcers in the yard
  4570. >soon they approach the changelings being held and start to rip chucks of their chitin off of them
  4571. >the high pitched screams fill the air from each chuck being removed.
  4572. "im starting to really like that queen.."
  4573. >you look back to the guard.
  4574. "alright, lets go. im sure im leaving this place in capable hooves."
  4575.  
  4576. >you are manos
  4577. >even if Cadence is not here you can begin this operation
  4578. "commanders are you ready?"
  4579. >"yes lord, everything is just how you asked, our unicorns are ready to amplify the communications"
  4580. "then the light is green. begin the spells."
  4581. >you wait for all of the correct signals to be given that the spells have been cast and are maintained by at least three able unicorns
  4582. "Griffon invaders.. this is lord manos."
  4583.  
  4584. >you are marble sunset.
  4585. >you are one of the few commanding ponies that are not part of this operation.
  4586. >you were told it would give away your position and make your current mission useless
  4587. >turns out that would have been the case
  4588. >in the distance you can hear the voice of manos
  4589. >"this is lord manos. you are unwelcome here. you are far away from home and cut off from any possible escape."
  4590. >this is strange
  4591. "what is he doing?.."
  4592. >"you are trapped in a land that is not your own. with no way of escaping. your commanders do not care if you return or not."
  4593. >you can see other ponies in your unit listening to manos' distant voice
  4594. >"what hope do you really have of making it out alive? here we are without number. even those inside the city are with us. and for each one you kill that only will bring the wrath of more."
  4595. >there is a silence for a moment then a new voice speaks
  4596. >its distinctly more feminine and it takes a moment for you to recognize it
  4597. >>"I can assure you griffons. that the ponies in the black hands and in the royal guard are more than able to remove you from the city i have been a member of the Black hands long enough to know how effective they are as fighters. have you heard of the battle of Ardennes? it was a battle of around three hundred black hands under the command of lord manos, against thousands of Sombras ponies"
  4598. >manos voice returns
  4599. >"does Sombra command you too? then you should know that he wasted thier lives. for after the battle only a few hundred remained what hope do you have?"
  4600.  
  4601. >you are manos
  4602. "you are far from your friends and families. you are trapped inside a city, is that what you call a victory?"
  4603. >cadence takes her own crystal and continues to speak
  4604. >she caught on quickly to what you were doing
  4605. >"for those of you who do not recognize my voice. i am princess mi amore cadenza. or princess Cadence. my voice speaking along with his should be proof enough of his reach"
  4606. "she has willingly given up her station as a princess of Equestria so she can continue to serve in my new Reich. surely that is something to be admired. perhaps you can do the same?"
  4607. >"lay down your weapons and come out peacefully, we can promise you will be treated well until we find a way to return you home."
  4608. "what other choice do you have? you can surrender to us or to the royals. and i can assure you. we have plenty of records of the way they treat THEIR captives."
  4609. >"we do not wish for war, and only desire peace. please lay down your arms and come out peacefully."
  4610. >you hold the crystal away from you so your voice doesn't get sent out
  4611. "Cadence, your voice might carry more weight than mine here. ill leave this to you for now, when you need a break let me know."
  4612. >Cadence continues to speak now with a rather cute smile on her face as she starts to enjoy her handiwork
  4613. >your approval must mean a lot to her
  4614. >you look over to a guard stationed at the door
  4615. "we will need water, and ponies willing to continue to spread these messages once we cannot. a constant stream of this should make things easier in the long run"
  4616. >>"yes sir, ill return soon with your water."
  4617. >you hand your crystal to Lyra
  4618. "lyra once Cadence is done you are to go next, either give hope and reassurance to the ponies inside or put the fear of god into the griffons"
  4619. >Lyra takes the Crystal in her magical grip with a slight bow of her head
  4620. >>"of course lord. im sure i can think of a few things to say about you."
  4621. >she is your hand of faith, no one could do this job better.
  4622.  
  4623. >you are Rainbow Dash
  4624. >you and your team are searching every corner of this castle looking for anything that moves.
  4625. >right now it is you and only three others in this current group
  4626. >and some have been ordered to help escort the civilians out safely and secure a evacuation point
  4627. "keep your eyes peeled. for those of who who don't know, changelings arent called that for the fun of it"
  4628. >"yes commander"
  4629. >there is a sudden crash in the corner of the room
  4630. >you and another pegasi quickly take to the air above the floor to get a height advantage
  4631. >while the other two ponies slowly move in to investigate
  4632. "come out, do not resist and take a quick test and you will not be harmed!"
  4633. >you see a very slight green glow before a pony in a black uniform steps out of the shadow
  4634. >he speaks to you in a frightened yet relieved tone
  4635. >he even has the right facial expressions
  4636. >>"thank goodness you found me! ive been trapped in here hiding from those damned parasites for days!"
  4637. >if it wasnt for that green glow you saw earlier you would have bought this story.
  4638. >that is a little worrying.
  4639. >you land in front of him and look him in the eyes
  4640. "what is your name Hand?"
  4641. >>"Noble Scribe ma'am!"
  4642. "alright Noble, mind if i ask you a few questions?"
  4643. >he gives no sign of worry
  4644. >"of course commander. ask away"
  4645. "while you have been here you must have come into contact with griffons, what have you heard about the current situation with the Zebras?"
  4646. >he scratches his head for a moment
  4647. >>"i heard about them taking ponyville. those damn Zebras, my brother was killed in the first battle with them"
  4648. >there is a sudden sound of metal piercing hardened flesh
  4649. >you continue to look him in the eyes as the pegasi you remained in the sky retracts her blade from his skull
  4650. "they must not know much about what happens outside the castle, good"
  4651. >the body falls to the floor there is a slight burst of green flame
  4652. >and a changeling corpse is all that remains
  4653.  
  4654. >you are Lyra Heartstrings. the hand of faith
  4655. >and its now your turn to speak
  4656. >you move the crystal to your mouth and speak softly
  4657. "my faithful children of fate. i know you must be scared and afraid right now, but there is no need to worry. you will be free soon. as i speak Manos' forces are amassing in the thousands to take back our city. this is our home, we know every street, every alleyway, and every blade of grass. we will have you freed soon."
  4658. >you look over to your bag and pull out a tome that you have been reading from in your sermons
  4659. "for those of you who are of the faith please. join me in a prayer, He is the lord of fate, and we are his faithful hands."
  4660. >although you cannot hear it, you can almost feel the response from your brothers and sisters of fate
  4661. >we are his faithful hands
  4662. "we shall not fear the dark, nor be blinded by the light, for he is here to guide us."
  4663. >"we are his faithful hands"
  4664. >you smile as you can only image what the griffons could be thinking
  4665. >they have not come into contact with a faith like this before
  4666. "he shall guide us to a new world. a world of peace and a world without fear."
  4667. >"we will stand by him"
  4668. "for he is the hands of fate"
  4669. >"and we are his faithful hands"
  4670. "for those griffons out there who dont know, Manos has done incredible things. he has predicted events, he has ended wars, and he has liberated nations."
  4671. >a few ponies in the room chime in with a few moments
  4672. >you make sure their voices can be heard
  4673. >"the return of nightmare moon" "the ponyville riots!" "the battle of ardennes!" "the parasprite infestation!"
  4674. >they keep repeating them over and over while adding more into the mix
  4675. >it must sound like hundreds of ponies voices
  4676. "and he can end this fight with but a word. if he ordered it we would all gladly give our lives to take yours. but he has given you a chance to live! surely he is kind, what have the Royalists done? they have attacked and battered your forces. while we have given you a chance at life"
  4677.  
  4678. >you are Cinnamon Pop
  4679. >you and the rest of the team have a very important mission
  4680. >and that mission is
  4681. >"nothing! we have been sitting here in this barracks for days now!"
  4682. "calm down Comet. with everything going on and Manos needing to be overseeing operations how much could we REALLY do?"
  4683. >Comet is going on one of his rare, yet over the top stampedes of anger.
  4684. >"oh! i dont know! ANYTHING!?"
  4685. >you turn the page of your dirty magazine
  4686. >there hasnt been an inspection for a while so you happened to.. procure one from one of the crystal rookies
  4687. "we are his shield.. and when his shield is not needed we wait."
  4688. >you happen to get a look at Comet starting to stomp his way over to you when a pillow collides with his face
  4689. "nice shot."
  4690. >>"give it a rest you two, we all want to get out of this barracks, but until we get orders here is where we stay"
  4691. >you give a calm response
  4692. "Almond has a point Comet."
  4693.  
  4694. >you are Comet Glow
  4695. >after removing the puffy projectile from your face you get back to your hooves
  4696. "fine. you two can sit here and enjoy each others company. in the meantime im going to go do some PT"
  4697. >"whatever you say Comet!"
  4698. >>"be sure to be back before we get a mission, otherwise we might leave without you"
  4699. "nah, you two would miss me too much if you left without me"
  4700. >you can hear a dry chuckle from Cinnamon as you leave the barracks
  4701. >you walk down the halls casually, you never intended on actually working out.
  4702. >it was just an excuse to get out of that bunk, though you doubt you needed one.
  4703. >"excuse me sir!"
  4704. >you look to the voice speaking to you and standing there is a mare in a black hands uniform
  4705. >"are you Comet Glow?"
  4706. "yes i am, whos asking? i mean, besides a pretty face."
  4707. >the mare is unimpressed.
  4708. >"you are needed in the war room. Manos informed us of one of your past experiences in Canterlot that we could use in his new operation."
  4709. >you are quiet for a moment
  4710. >"ugh, just come with me..."
  4711. "ill follow a pretty mare anywhere."
  4712. >the mare rolls here eyes and gives a general look of annoyance as she walks you to the center of operations
  4713. >she quickly opens the door and motions for you to enter
  4714. >"here we are. luckily for me thats all i needed to do."
  4715. >the mare starts to walk off and your eyes make sure to enjoy every second of it
  4716. >"if you ever want to meet up sometime just call"
  4717. >she doesnt respond
  4718. >>"Comet. so good of you to join us, and i see you still have a way with the ladies.."
  4719. >you quickly snap to attention and give a seig heil
  4720. >you would recognize his voice anywhere
  4721. >>"well comet. now you need to say a few words about your previous date, specifically the one in canterlot. im sure you remember that lovely night"
  4722. >you smile a bit rolling with Lord Manos' humor
  4723. "of course i do sir, how could i forget such a great conversationalist such as her."
  4724.  
  4725. >you are Manos
  4726. >you lead comet over to the battle map
  4727. "so here is what is currently happening, listen close because im only saying this once"
  4728. >comet nods
  4729. "we have encircled the entire city of ponyville. however only this half is under MY control. the other is royal guards"
  4730. >you tap the center of town
  4731. "here we believe is the location the largest concentration of griffons and captives are located, can you see how this location is a problem?"
  4732. >comet looks at the map for a time
  4733. >"it is the center of town, it connects every street, road, and building. the only way to take it would be to go straight in"
  4734. "while that is true, thats not what i see. what i see is a choice, they know they cant get out by fighting, or at least most are learning. but now they will have to choose who they would rather surrender to once fighting is out of the question."
  4735. >you move your hand to the Royalist forces
  4736. "and i dont want them to get my ponies, or my possible new sources of intel."
  4737. >"so what is the plan sir?"
  4738. >you point to Lyra as she continues to speak about you into the crystal
  4739. "to educate those who need to learn which side is the right one."
  4740. >you take a moment to listen to Lyra
  4741. >>"Manos only desires peace in equestira. peace for all, why do you fight against that--"
  4742. "you understand now?"
  4743. >comet nods in affirmation
  4744. >"yes sir, i do. you want me to describe the Royalists little QnA session with me."
  4745. >you smile at the clever little pony
  4746. "yes i do. and i want you to not spare any detail on how 'horrible' and 'scaring' it was."
  4747. >you stand up and begin to leave the room
  4748. "ill be back shortly. i believe Honor has a few new toys that are about to be finished."
  4749. >you hear a simultaneous  heil as you make your way to the labs
  4750. "i might be able to get a proper field test after all"
  4751.  
  4752. >you are Honor Bound
  4753. >and right now is the moment of truth
  4754. >"we are ready to begin!"
  4755. "proceed"
  4756. >you stand behind a safety wall with a pair of goggles on as two ponies enter your new device
  4757. >"applying first crystal!"
  4758. "understood!"
  4759. >click...
  4760. >...
  4761. >"first crystal failed not enough power. preparing second trial"
  4762. >there are a few moments of waiting as they switch out the power sources
  4763. >"beginning test of second crystal power source!"
  4764. >there is a click then a loud rumble in the room
  4765. >"device is powered!"
  4766. "carry on with the next stage!"
  4767. >you can feel your heart racing
  4768. >after days of testing and many failures you may have got it
  4769. >"power level is stable! moving now."
  4770. >you can barely contain yourself as the machine begins to roar to life even more
  4771. >it slowly starts to move forward, the large treads picking up speed as it goes
  4772. >"beginning the course"
  4773. >the machine at its full speed charges towards a set of obstacles in front of it
  4774. >at a specific distance the crew is supposed to turn and avoid hitting it
  4775. >"lowering power to left side treads!"
  4776. >as they do the machine starts to turn, barely avoiding the makeshift wall
  4777. "hold position!"
  4778. >it takes a few moments but eventually the machine stops.
  4779. >it continues to run
  4780. >"prepare weapons test!"
  4781. >this is your favorite part, however its usually where things dont work out
  4782. >the top of the machine opens up as a unicorn takes control of the long barreled weapon on top
  4783. >"loading primary weapon!"
  4784. >you observe as the pony slowly loads the device with a projectile belt
  4785. >"ready to fire on command!"
  4786. >targets are set up on the far side of the yard
  4787. "fire!"
  4788. >there is a click
  4789. >"weapon malfunction! clearing weapon!"
  4790. >the unicorn lifts the belt out and clears the weapon then reloads it
  4791. >"ready to fire"
  4792. "fire the damn thing!"
  4793. >you hear a racking.
  4794. >then there is a series of loud cracks filling the air.
  4795. >you look to the targets at the end of the yard
  4796. >the ponies aim is either off or the device is firing too high
  4797. "lower the weapon! projectiles are too high!"
  4798. >you see the holes in the wall slowly move down to the targets
  4799. >CRACKCRACKCRACK CLANK!
  4800. >"weapon jammed!"
  4801. "for the love of manos! what keeps messing up!?"
  4802. >you get out from behind the wall and march over to the warmachine
  4803. "move aside!"
  4804. >you hop up onto the machine and inspect the weapon
  4805. >gripping the casing in your magic you remove it from the receiver.
  4806. >you pull out a few from the belt to compare them
  4807. "Manos damn it!"
  4808. >you throw the shells to the ground
  4809. "if i said it once i said it a thousand bucking times! make sure all the shells are the same bucking measurements!"
  4810. >you grip the projectile belts in your magic and toss them to the nearby scientists
  4811. "go through and double check each and every one. failures like this are made from simple laziness, i will not have lazy ponies under MY command!"
  4812. >"yes sir Honor!"
  4813. >you see the ponies rush back inside with the projectiles as you take a seat on top of the warmachine
  4814. "its simple measuring, you can make a device from another world run.. but you cant bucking measure.."
  4815. >"lord Honor sir?"
  4816. >you didnt even notice one of the ponies came back over to you
  4817. "what is it?"
  4818. >"L-lord Manos is here sir."
  4819. >great
  4820.  
  4821. >you are manos
  4822. >you are observing a select group of ponies try out your new weapons
  4823. >considering they didnt have much to work with you are surprised at the variety of devices on the table
  4824. >an all to eager unicorn scientist explains each and every one to you
  4825. >"with the plans you gave us for these new weapons we have been improving and experimenting with our own ideas!"
  4826. "such as?"
  4827. >the unicorn takes one of the more simple looking weapons
  4828. >"this one for example. a simple lever is used to fire the device, much like the ones you brought with you, only larger"
  4829. >he lifts up one of his hooves
  4830. >"for obvious reasons. however it also requires you to be balanced quite well since.. it requires two hooves."
  4831. >he sets it down
  4832. >"as you can imagine, it failed as a useful way to fire on the move. so we made this"
  4833. >the scientist motions for a pony to come over.
  4834. >a Earth pony walks over and soon is being hooked up with a harness for the weapon on his shoulder and back
  4835. >"if mounted on his back a 2nd pony may fire the weapon from a stable position OR! if its attached here on his shoulders like so."
  4836. >the pony walks over to a firing range
  4837. >the weapon extends just far enough ahead of him for him to grip the "trigger" with one hoof
  4838. >it fires off a short burst then another each one being controlled by the earth pony
  4839. >he then starts to slowly walk and fire
  4840. >however the projectiles are getting further and further away from the targets
  4841. >"he can fire and move, to an extent, but at the cost of his accuracy."
  4842. >the pony has the weapon removed and moves back to the others waiting on the side of the room
  4843. "that seems like it wouldnt be very effective.. how would he load it?"
  4844. >"im glad you asked lord! we found--"
  4845. >the doors behind you suddenly open as Honor Bound walks into the room
  4846. >>"forgive me lord. i was preoccupied with another test."
  4847. "i hope it went well."
  4848. >Honor nods his head
  4849. >>"i can honestly say everything mechanical is working as it should.. just a few user errors are left"
  4850. >the pony looks far more nervous now that Honor is in the room
  4851. >uhm.. yes well.. as i was saying.."
  4852. >Honor gives him a even look
  4853. >>"yes please. go on with the demonstrations."
  4854. >"we found it was best used with a team of ponies. groups of two or three being the best fit. with at least one unicorn."
  4855. >Honor cuts off the scientist
  4856. >>"a unicorn is better suited to firing this device, since they have magic steadying the weapon and reloading it is made trivial. however we needed to make it usable by all ponies in case of emergencies or in situations where a unicorn is not present"
  4857. >"exactly, so a team of around three ponies would be a best fit, one to fire one to load and one being able to do both."
  4858. >you look over to the table at the smaller weapons laying there
  4859. >they look very odd.. like a regular gun but with a grip on the side rather than the bottom
  4860. "and what of these? i assume they are held by the mouth?"
  4861. >"yes as you can imagine they are quite hard to aim.."
  4862. >Honor speaks up
  4863. >>"we quickly tossed that design out"
  4864. "and replaced it with?"
  4865. >Honor bound walks over to a metal crate on the far side of the table
  4866. >>"with this"
  4867. >he opens the large crate and pulls out a helmet
  4868. >>"this was something that we thought of after looking through some of my.. predecessors designs for armor"
  4869. >he levitates the helmet onto a nearby pony
  4870. >>"have him geared up"
  4871. >several scientists move to the crate and pull out various pieces of armor
  4872. >after having all the armor applied two of the machine guns are attached to his shoulders with a hard click
  4873. >>"since unicorns wouldnt need to have any gear to operate the weapons from their magic we thought of playing to a earth ponies.. strengths"
  4874. >the last part is a red crystal that is inserted to the back of the armor powering it
  4875. >>"and i mean that quite literally. only earth ponies will be able to operate this due to the amount of muscle needed to move, the crystal powering it will make most of it easy but if it fails then its all up to the pony"
  4876. "i quite like this, no i love this"
  4877. >you approach the armored up pony and examine the armor
  4878. >you can hear a hum emanating from it
  4879. >"what you are hearing is pure magic being pulled from the crystal into the armor."
  4880. "this must be rather complicated. im surprised you had time to make this."
  4881. >Honor Bound speaks up
  4882. >"to be honest sir, most of the planning was done a long time ago, it was intended to be for stealth armor much like Blackouts"
  4883. >you stop feeling the armor..
  4884. >the warm hum of its power source suddenly losing is charm
  4885. "blackout.."
  4886. >"lord manos?"
  4887. >you take your eyes off of the armor and look to Honor Bound
  4888. "nothing. its well designed."
  4889. >"and very complex and hard to make.. while i would love to see all our ponies equipped with this, its simply not feasible in our current state."
  4890. "we need more resources?"
  4891. >"and factories, and laborers, and time."
  4892. >you look back to the armor
  4893. "has it been tested yet?"
  4894. >the silence is the room is all the answer you need.
  4895. "good. have this and any others you might have created shipped out. its getting a trial by fire."
  4896. >the same scientist from before speaks up in a worried tone
  4897. >"b-but lord! it has no field tests at all, the most we know about it is it moves properly and the weapons can fire"
  4898. "hm seems like thats plenty of testing to try it out."
  4899. >"Lord manos' sir.. I"
  4900. >you turn back to the pony
  4901. "WE ARE AT WAR, perhaps you havnt grasped that idea yet?! there are both civilians and soldiers out there in ponyville in danger, now have this armor ready and in the field as soon as possible or you will be out there in its place! is that clear?!"
  4902. >the pony looks to have shrunk a few sizes and is stammering and shaking from your outburst
  4903. >"y-y-y-yes lord. r-r-right away!"
  4904. "Honor, whatever errors you still have can be overlooked for now, get those tanks moving. ive waited long enough for my city to be taken back and i wont wait much longer."
  4905. >you hear no protests as you storm out
  4906. >this is war, time is a commodity.
  4907.  
  4908. >you are the earth pony in the armor
  4909. >"ive waited long enough for my city to be taken back and i wont wait much longer."
  4910. >you turn your head to see lord Manos leave the room as Honor Bound just closes his eyes and takes a breath
  4911. >the hum of the magic engine on your back is the only noise in the room before Honor bound clears his throat
  4912. >"ehhum. well.. that could have gone a bit better."
  4913. >you dont even recognize the sound of your own voice
  4914. >the armors voice is a deep and emotionless tone, almost soulless
  4915. "when am i shipping out?"
  4916. >"Manos' orders were clear. you will be shipping out as soon as we are able."
  4917. >Honor Bound walks over and inspects the armor
  4918. >without the armor you would be around eye level with him but in this he is a hoof or two shorter
  4919. >"at least this project has come out with little flaws."
  4920. "what about the 'tanks' manos was referring to?"
  4921. >Honor bound takes a step back and looks to his papers
  4922. >"as i said, just a few minor issues to work out. most of them user based.."
  4923. >you're not sure if you believe it. but it is unwise to question a superior
  4924. >after a few more moments of silence you are given orders
  4925. >"find the other operators. and inform them of our upcoming.. trials."
  4926. "yes sir. by the will of manos i serve."
  4927. >"heil manos"
  4928. "heil the Reich"
  4929.  
  4930. >you are Aryanne
  4931. >you have been guarding the war room since you and Lyra have arrived
  4932. >not much else you can do.
  4933. >Comet walks over to you as he waits for his chance to speak to ponyville
  4934. >"commander."
  4935. "Comet"
  4936. >"im going to be honest commander. we have been getting restless just sitting around in the barracks. not that we dont enjoy R and R."
  4937. >its to be expected. after weeks of constantly being in the front or in other operations doing nothing must be worse than being in danger
  4938. "im sure it wont be much longer until manos has another idea that requires our personal touch."
  4939. >Comet chuckles
  4940. >"of course he will. its just boring waiting around here.."
  4941. >you walk over to the map leading Comet to view it with you
  4942. "i can only imagine what change this one battle will cause. we are on thin ice with the princesses.. and they with us. its only a matter of time before we might be fighting our own.."
  4943. >you dwell on that thought for longer than you would have liked
  4944. >"its a scary thing to think about.. commander. thats for sure. but i think in the end we are on the right side."
  4945. >you smile
  4946. "of that i have no doubt."
  4947. >you both take a moment to listen to Lyras final words to those in ponyville
  4948. >>"we are his faithful hands.. fate is on our side. what could be on yours?"
  4949.  
  4950. >you are Rainbow Dash
  4951. >after a few more hours of clearing you have found a handful of black hands and almost double the amount of brownshirts and civilians
  4952. >its time for you to get out of the castle
  4953. "alright everypony, we are leaving the castle. for those of you who dont know me i am commander rainbow dash, and a personal guard to Manos i am in command here, once we evacuate this area we will be linking up with a larger force just outside of everfree. keep your eyes peels and weapons ready for any griffons or beasts that we may run into. with our larger numbers stealth will be hard to maintain but i ask you all do the best you can."
  4954. >you turn to the guards you positioned at the doors
  4955. "lets move out"
  4956.  
  4957. >you are Blackout
  4958. >everywhere you go ponies give you salutes and smiles
  4959. >some even go as far as to compliment you with things like "your passage to Valhalla is more assured than anypony else"
  4960. >Valhalla
  4961. >you dont necessarily believe in an afterlife, but its nice to think you have a 'free ticket'
  4962. >"Blackout!"
  4963. >you turn your head to see a group of young stallions and mares running up to you
  4964. >>"woah it really is blackout!"
  4965. >"are you really a earth pony? i heard you can do magic with that armor"
  4966. >you have a bit of trouble finding your voice
  4967. >or rather, words to say.
  4968. >"hey can i have your signature?"
  4969. "uh.. sure?"
  4970. >the pony holds out a piece of paper
  4971. >you calmly sign your name on the page
  4972. >Little League.
  4973. >the stallion grins and looks to the paper when his face turns a little confused
  4974. >"this says little league.."
  4975. "thats my real name."
  4976. >you let your helmet close up over your face so the small crowd can see the armor work
  4977. "and im Blackout."
  4978. >"thats cool... but.. can i get you to sign 'blackout' too?"
  4979. >your heart sinks a bit
  4980. >but you push that aside for now
  4981. "uh, sure."
  4982. >you take back the page and sign 'Blackout' below your name
  4983. >"thanks blackout! this is so awesome. it will be a great thing to show my comrades."
  4984. "comrades?"
  4985. >is he in the military? hes barely a stallion
  4986. >but, youre still a filly.. technically.
  4987. >"yeah! i signed up just a few days ago. i start training in a week"
  4988. >the others gawk at your armor and your signature
  4989. >you look at all their young faces
  4990. >you hope they will be able to smile like this in the future.
  4991. >"what about you? are you going to be kicking more badguy flank?"
  4992. >you dont respond
  4993. >how can you respond
  4994. >youre a hero to them for the things you have done
  4995. >the things that still give you nightmares..
  4996. "y-yeah.. yeah ill be getting more badguys soon.."
  4997.  
  4998. >you are Manos
  4999. >and you are tired of waiting.
  5000. >you dont have the time to wait around for everything to be perfect
  5001. >sometimes you have to roll the dice and make the best of what you have
  5002. >and what you have is more than enough
  5003. >you walk out to the field in front of the labs
  5004. >you can hear the sound of ponies rushing in and out of doors and metal on metal
  5005. >after a few minutes of waiting the main gate opens up
  5006. >you hear dull thuds of lumbering suits move out of the yard
  5007. >five ponies suited in the armor that was shown to you walk up to you and come to a stop
  5008. >"our armor is but a tool of your will, heil manos"
  5009. >you rise your hand calmly
  5010. >then the sound of engines come to life and a set of three armored tanks roll out of the yard closely behind them
  5011. >they too come to a stop, just behind the armor
  5012. >a nice little company of armor.
  5013. >five suits of combat armor and three tanks
  5014. >you feel a smile come to your face
  5015. "what are we waiting here for?"
  5016. >you walk up to one of the tanks and climb up onto it
  5017. >looking to a black hand door guard you shout to him
  5018. "tell aryanne and those under her command to meet me in ponyville, ill be needing my bodygaurds once i arrive."
  5019. >"yes sir! right away!"
  5020. >the messenger rushes off
  5021. >you tap the top of the tank and the lid opens up revealing a unicorn driver
  5022. "ponyville or bust."
  5023. >"yes lord."
  5024. >the unicorn does his best to make room for you inside the small space
  5025. >its not enough for you to sit inside it, your top half sticks out of the top
  5026. >at least you can see everything clearly
  5027. "armor operators hitch a ride on the tanks, you will slow us down if you walk."
  5028. >>"yes lord"
  5029. >the lumbering suits climb onto the tanks doing their best to evenly disperse themselves across them all
  5030. "forward.."
  5031. >the engine begins to roar as the tank lurches forward and begins is travel
  5032. >you cannot wait to see how they preform in the field.
  5033.  
  5034. >you are Rainbow Dash
  5035. >you lead your new group out of the castle
  5036. "everyone spread out. civilians stay close to the center. everyone else protect them and be on guard"
  5037. >"yes commander!"
  5038. >leading a large group like this is more taxing than you thought
  5039. "i need to get them out of here as soon as possible."
  5040. >as you walk through the woods you hear voices echoing in the distance
  5041. >you cant really make out whats being said but you swear you could recognize the voice
  5042. >"commander where do we head from here?"
  5043. >you look around
  5044. >to be honest, youre not quite sure.
  5045. "uh.. give me a second."
  5046. >you quickly fly up above the tree line and look around
  5047. >in the distance you can see lines of ponies waiting around the city and you can hear Comets voice echoing over the air
  5048. "what is he doing?.."
  5049. >you fly back down and dismiss the voice of your comrade
  5050. >"commander?"
  5051. "we head this way. we should be out of here by morning if we dont stop for rest."
  5052. >"understood. after you ma'am"
  5053. >you start to move on
  5054. >the forest looks a lot darker than you remember..
  5055.  
  5056. >you are Manos
  5057. >the sound of the engines is like music to your ears.
  5058. >the ponies in armor powered the suits down to conserve energy and are latched onto various areas of the tanks
  5059. >perhaps they could use a little motivation before the upcoming test.
  5060. >you do your best to look back to them
  5061. "you, armor operator. whats your name?"
  5062. >the earth pony from the demonstrations turns his olive green head to you
  5063. >his mane has been shaved down, as have the rest of the operators.
  5064. >"its Field Day sir."
  5065. "how fitting. now, Field day"
  5066. >"yes sir?"
  5067. "when we arrive to ponyville you and the rest of the operators are going to be following my orders. and my orders alone. you will do as i say, when i say, how i say. understood?"
  5068. >"yes lord. i will obey without question!"
  5069. "good. because once we get there we will be going to war."
  5070. >"beg your pardon sir. but arnt we already at war?"
  5071. >you point to the sky and chuckle as you answer his question
  5072. "that we are Field Day, that we are."
  5073. >the lead tanks top opens up and a pony looks back to you and shouts
  5074. >"SIR! we are only a few hours away from ponyville. if we continue without pause we should reach them before daybreak"
  5075. "thats good news, the sooner we get there the better!"
  5076. >"yes lord!"
  5077. >the pony dips back into the tank and closes the hatch
  5078. >you can barely hear Field Day and the other operators over the engines
  5079. >"we are his children, our path is not of light or of darkness, it is the path of fate."
  5080. >>"we shall stand fast before our foes, for fate is our lord."
  5081. >weird how hearing ponies pray to you can inspire you even more
  5082. >wonder how it feels for them being led by the person they pray to
  5083. "for i am the hand of fate!"
  5084. >the ponies in armor all look to you and shout
  5085. >"and we are your faithful hands!"
  5086. >Zeal.. righteous Zeal.
  5087. >what force could possibly overcome that?
  5088.  
  5089. >you are Marble sunset
  5090. >you are resting back in the camp as another shift of spotters are watching the road
  5091. >its been almost a full twenty four hours of different ponies speaking over ponyville
  5092. >its rather amazing how many different ponies they have to choose from
  5093. "they definitely are keeping spirits high"
  5094. >a half asleep pegasi next to you lazily responds
  5095. >"mhm.."
  5096. >another pony inside one of the shelters mumbles to you
  5097. >>"cant imagine what its doing for the ponies in the city"
  5098. >"or the griffons insi-- iiide"
  5099. "what was that? i dont think i could hear you over your yawn.."
  5100. >"i just ended my shift sir, so im going to get as much rest as i can.."
  5101. >you cant help but laugh softly
  5102. "is that back talk soldier?"
  5103. >he is quick to respond in a sarcastic tone
  5104. >"damn right it is sir. heil manos."
  5105. >just then one of your recon ponies rush over to you staying low
  5106. >"sir, you should come see this.."
  5107. "what is it?"
  5108. >the two of you get low and crawl to the overlook
  5109. >the pony still waiting there hands you the binoculars
  5110. >you are quick to take them up and look
  5111. >your jaw drops..
  5112. >marching far down the road is a whole army of royal guards ponies
  5113. >"sir.. orders?"
  5114. "we need to send word of this immediately. the Reich must be informed."
  5115. >as if seeing the ponies marching in the distance wasnt enough, the sun is starting to rise
  5116. >right behind the approaching army. making every inch of their golden armor sparkle and shine like the sunlight
  5117. "they are going to try to take the city..."
  5118.  
  5119. >you are Rainbow Dash
  5120. "ugh finally we are out of that damn forest!"
  5121. >you didnt realize how loud you were until after you said it.
  5122. >you look back to see all of the ponies looking at you
  5123. >some with cocky smiles others with a 'you dont say' look
  5124. "uh.. yes well. were out. all we need to do now is meet with the rest of the hands."
  5125. >a mare carrying her foals shouts to you from a distance back
  5126. >"and how far is that?"
  5127. "not far. only a few more minutes of walking and we should be--"
  5128. >"do you hear that noise commander?"
  5129. >you stop talking long enough to listen
  5130. >in the distance you can hear a faint rumbling
  5131. >"any idea whats making that noise?"
  5132. "a dragon perhaps?"
  5133. >the mare from before yells
  5134. >>"A dragon?! we were safer in the woods!"
  5135. >you look back to her and shout
  5136. "you are welcome to walk back if you want!"
  5137. >she becomes silent as you give her a glare and look to the noise
  5138. >over a hill you start to see three large figures approaching at a fast speed
  5139. "everyone into the woods, i dont know what those are but they are heading this way fast!"
  5140. >the company quickly rushes back into the treeline hoping to avoid being spotted
  5141. >you stay behind
  5142. >perhaps you can lure them away if they get too close
  5143. >the things keep heading on
  5144. >but you notice something about them
  5145. >on one of the, things, you see a familiar silhouette.
  5146. "is that Manos?.."
  5147. >oh no. those things have manos!
  5148. >you quickly turn to the nearest pony
  5149. "get those civilians to safety! go on without me, those in my pegasi wing on me!"
  5150. >you take to the sky as fast as you and the other pegasi can
  5151. >you are a personal guard.
  5152. >Manos' safety is always your priority
  5153.  
  5154. >you are Manos
  5155. >ponyville is so close you can smell the smoke from here
  5156. >you look out over the plains and you can see the line of black hands in the distance
  5157. "we are making good time. a little late but not to bad for a marathon."
  5158. >"a what sir?"
  5159. >you look back to one of the operators
  5160. "a marathon. a run consisting of around twenty six miles, the name came from a city named Marathon, a messenger was sent to carry a message of a approaching army, he ran the whole way without rest, he died as soon as the massage was delivered."
  5161. >"that messenger was definitely committed sir."
  5162. >>"he is in the halls of Valhalla with his brothers and sisters!"
  5163. "that he is operator. that he is. i expect you all to be just as committed"
  5164. >"YES SIR!"
  5165. >you have a moment of pride before you start to hear a near whistling noise
  5166. >artillery?!
  5167. >no. they dont have artillery... then wha could it--
  5168. >you feel a impact on your side and suddenly you feel lifted into the air
  5169. >"CONTACT! armor up!"
  5170. >you see the ponies below you start to power up their suits and drop off of the tanks
  5171. >"secure Manos!"
  5172. "whats going on here!?"
  5173. >you hear an all to familiar voice speak
  5174. >>"dont worry sir! i got you!"
  5175. >is that rainbow dash!?
  5176. >you quickly shove yourself away from her
  5177. >>"hey! what are you doing?!"
  5178. >less then a moment later you hit the ground hard
  5179. "ah.. fuck.. bad idea.."
  5180. >you get up just in time to see Rainbow Dash and her pegasi land around you in a defensive stance
  5181. >>"manos! we have to go! those things will be after us"
  5182. >you get to your feet and do your best to brush out your grass stains
  5183. "those things are under my command rainbow."
  5184. >the other pegasi and rainbow look confused and surprised
  5185. >just in time for five armored figures to close in
  5186. >the voice of one blares out in its soulless tone
  5187. >"stop right there traitorous scum! Nopony assults manos on our watch!"
  5188. >you walk between the two groups
  5189. "stand down operator."
  5190. >"but lord.."
  5191. "thats an order."
  5192. >the armored pony lowers its weapon
  5193. >"as you command."
  5194. >you turn back to rainbow dash
  5195. "i take it your mission was a success commander?"
  5196. >rainbow looks to the suits of armor
  5197. >"yes sir, the castle has been cleared.. what are those sir?"
  5198. "those are ponies rainbow. i thought you would be able to recognize them since you grew up around them"
  5199. >"ha ha ha, funny sir. i mean what is that armor they are wearing?"
  5200. "classified for now. i hope i can trust you all to keep quiet about it"
  5201. >the armored pony speaks
  5202. >>"Lord manos, we should continue on, something isnt right.."
  5203. "what do you mean?"
  5204. >>"the sun hasnt moved since it started to rise sir. and only one pony can control the sun.."
  5205. >you havnt even noticed but now that it has been brought up it seems obvious.
  5206. "the city.. everyone mount back up we need to get there as soon as possible."
  5207. >you start to walk back before stopping and looking to rainbow dash
  5208. "Rainbow, care to provide us with some air support?"
  5209. >"as you command sir."
  5210. >rainbow flips some of her mane to the side and flies along side you on your way back to the tanks
  5211. >once you and the armored ponies get mounted up the pegasi also take a few seats on the tanks to rest.
  5212. "you dont happen to still have a communication crystal do you?"
  5213. >you feel inside your bag until you find it
  5214. >"yes sir, right here. why?"
  5215. >you reach for it and she hands it to you
  5216. "just trying to prevent this from happening again.."
  5217. >you lift the crystal to your mouth.
  5218. >you cant hear the voices echoing anymore so this is the perfect time.
  5219. >your voice might still be echoing over ponyville if you speak so you have to choose your words carefully
  5220. "dear ponies of our glorious Reich. fear for your safety no longer. For I lord manos have taken to the field.. and i shall bring swift justice to those who have committed these crimes against us."
  5221. >you look to the line of black hands getting closer with each second
  5222. "and i am already here to deliver judgement."
  5223. >you hold the crystal close to you as you finally arrive to the front.
  5224. >you are quickly approached by many many black hands.
  5225. >each and every one of them staring in awe at the machines of war you and the ponies ride, along with the ponies in armor
  5226. >the commander meets you and your force
  5227. >"heil manos"
  5228. "heil the Reich"
  5229. >you look back to your ponies riding the tanks
  5230. "dismount!"
  5231. >>"yes sir!"
  5232. >now the suits of armor are likely the center of attention
  5233. >each one completely covering the pony from head to hoof and making a low humming from the magical engines
  5234. "form up on me operators, drivers and air support. wait here until orders are given, get some food and water while you do"
  5235. >you motion for Rainbow to follow along with you
  5236. >the commanding pony walks with you getting you updated on the situation
  5237. >"lord we have received some troubling news.."
  5238. "what is it commander?"
  5239. >"the princess has a large force moving on us from the opposite side of ponyville, its safe to assume shes going to make her move"
  5240. "how close are they?"
  5241. >"not sure lord, last reports said a few hours away.. but that report itself was a while ago."
  5242. "we have no time to waste then."
  5243. >you look to your operators in armor
  5244. >they are almost as tall as you are in that armor
  5245. >almost.
  5246. "ready your weapons. your field test has come early."
  5247. >>"yes lord. we are your faithful hands!"
  5248. >the commander shivers from the sound of their voices
  5249. >"by fate.. if the sight of those ponies wont make them drop dead those voices sure will.."
  5250. >you just smile as the ponies start to load and double check each of their weapons
  5251. "oh commander dont worry, those ponies deliver more than death.. they deliver my judgement"
  5252.  
  5253. >you are a Operator
  5254. >you are a operator of the most powerful weapons in manos' arsenal
  5255. >you are a instrument of his will, and a weapon ready to be wielded
  5256. >you are Field Day, and this is your trial.
  5257. >your voice is foreign to you as the armor amplifies it to those around you
  5258. "we are ready and able lord."
  5259. >you look to the others in your group and point to your helmets
  5260. "activate internal communication"
  5261. >"a-firm"
  5262. >>"roger that"
  5263. >there is a slight ringing noise in your helmet before the voices of the other operators come in clearly and in normal voices
  5264. "to all operators sound off with status, all green here"
  5265. >"operator 2: im green" "operator 3: green" "operator 4: im all set sir"
  5266. >"operator 5: communication a little fuzzy, besides that all systems are good"
  5267. >you look to lord manos
  5268. "we are ready for orders lord."
  5269. >Manos nods his head in approval before issuing you your orders
  5270. >>"according to all reports the center of town is where all the civilians and military prisoners are being held."
  5271. >you watch him as he takes his hand and rubs his forehead where a small scratch was left
  5272. >>"so your mission is going to be straight forward. clear the center of town."
  5273. "what of prisoners sir?"
  5274. >>"if you can save them do so. ill leave it to you, if you come into contact with Royalists do your best to dissuade them from interfering"
  5275. >manos stops talking for a moment and looks to you as he holds his communication crystal
  5276. >"do those crystals use the same frequency as these?"
  5277. "no sir, ours are from a separate batch, they only communicate with others like them"
  5278. >>"do you have backups?"
  5279. "of course sir each helmet has a back up crystal in case of comm loss"
  5280. >manos snaps his claw to you
  5281. >>"give me one."
  5282. >you turn your head to one of the operators and nod
  5283. >the operator removes his helmet and tosses one to manos
  5284. >>"operators this is manos, am i coming in clean?"
  5285. "yes sir, clear as day."
  5286. >>"good. you have your orders. clear the town"
  5287. "we are your faithful hands"
  5288. >the walk into the streets of ponyville was an exciting one
  5289. >so far nothing has made contact with you, but your heart is racing none the less
  5290. >"operator 1, any signs of contact sir?"
  5291. "negative, continuing entrance to the city"
  5292. >"roger that, Op 3 check your sides"
  5293. >>"everything is clear over here Op 4"
  5294. "keep your eyes peeled for any signs of movement, we are entering the red zone now mares and gentlecolts"
  5295. >"ill be sure to speak up if i see any gentlecolts here Op 1"
  5296. >you advance the streets slowly the buildings are torn and broken, both from battle and looting.
  5297. >>>"attention operators this is manos, we are going to be continuing our little speech to the city"
  5298. "Affirmative lord Op 1 out."
  5299. >>"wonder is he will say anything about me."
  5300. >"shut up Op 3"
  5301. >the banter is cut short by the sound of manos speaking over the city
  5302. >you and the rest of the operators ignore it as you continue on
  5303. >"Op 1 movement on your left!"
  5304. >you quickly turn to the left as a duo of griffons pounce from behind a ruined building
  5305. >"contact! light em up!"
  5306. >the air is filled with buzzing and the two birds are quickly shredded by the hail of projectiles
  5307. >one of the bodies lands on top of you knocking you to the ground from the impact
  5308. >"Op 1 are you ok?"
  5309. "roger that, this bird juts decided to give me a little hug is all"
  5310. >you get back to your hooves easily shoving the griffon off of you with your armors power
  5311. >"hm, perhaps he should be checking his sides instead."
  5312. "youre a plothole Op 3"
  5313. >>"i call it as i see it Op 1"
  5314. >>>"operators whats going on?"
  5315. "just a little ambush sir, hostiles are eliminated."
  5316. >>"in case you wondered sir, these weapons do wonders for griffon weight loss"
  5317.  
  5318. >you are manos
  5319. "id like report on your current location operators"
  5320. >there is a moment of silence on the coms
  5321. >"we are halfway to the square. besides a few ambushes and some stragglers we haven't seen much"
  5322. >where are they?
  5323. >are they purposefully letting them walk in? or are they hiding from them in fear?
  5324. "keep your wits, i dont like how calm things are going. its making me uneasy"
  5325. >"we have the same feeling sir."
  5326. >you dont bother to respond and set down the crystal
  5327. >looking over to Rainbow you decide its time for a more dangerous gamble
  5328. "Rainbow. you said the air over the city was too dangerous to fly?"
  5329. >"yes sir, every pony that the royal guards have sent up was picked off by archers or caught by griffons"
  5330. "i see.."
  5331. >perhaps they arnt as active now.
  5332. >reports inside the city seem to paint a different picture than what the royal guards have said
  5333. "i want a pegasi wing to recon the city from the sky."
  5334. >"w-what? you want to send pegasi into a dangerous area like that?"
  5335. >you give rainbow a slight look of displeasure
  5336. "those are my orders. send who you will, the rest will be needed for another idea i have"
  5337. >she doesnt argue. but you can tell she isnt quite to confident in the plan to send pegasi on a suicide mission
  5338. >but the truth of the matter is, we dont know if it is one or not.
  5339. >and we need to find out
  5340.  
  5341. >you are Field day
  5342. >you and the other operators are only a few blocks away from the town square
  5343. >unfortunately the streets have been covered in debris blocking your path
  5344. >one of the other operators voices comes to life on the coms
  5345. >"well, we aren't getting through that.."
  5346. >you look over the scene for a moment before approaching the rubble
  5347. >you wont be able to climb it in this armor.
  5348. "i have another idea. all these buildings are linked together."
  5349. >"yeah so?"
  5350. >you look over to Op 3
  5351. "we are going to make our own path"
  5352. >you walk over to one of the buildings and kick in the door
  5353. "stay close, things are going to get a little claustrophobic"
  5354. >the others start to follow you inside
  5355. >the place is dark and its already been searched by someone
  5356. "watch your sides, we will be in close quarters in here"
  5357. >the building is silent besides the thumps of your heavy hooves on the floor
  5358. >you slowly make your way to the opposite side of the building
  5359. >looking out a window you try to get your exact location on the street
  5360. "alright, on the other side of this wall there should be another room"
  5361. >"im not seeing any doors here Op 1"
  5362. >you look to the wall
  5363. >it doesnt look to solid compared to the others in the building
  5364. >you take a deep breath before locating the weakest looking segment
  5365. "i do. form up around me."
  5366. >the other four operators take positions around you
  5367. "knock knock!"
  5368. >you charge at the wall with all your weight plus that of your armor
  5369. >there is a loud crash as you fall into the next room along with a large portion of the wall
  5370. >you fall onto the floor from the weight of the charge as the others quickly move in one by one
  5371. >"clearing area"
  5372. >>"contact sighted"
  5373. >"hold fire!"
  5374. >you look up from your less than dignified position and see you smashed into a room filled with griffons
  5375. >you scramble to your hooves and ready your weapons
  5376. >after a few shouts of surprise from the griffons they grab whatever weapons they can
  5377. >by the time you and your team are ready so are they
  5378. >perhaps this wasn't the best of ideas...
  5379.  
  5380. >you are manos
  5381. >and the news of that army approaching is troubling
  5382. >not being able to recon the city is also an issue.
  5383. >but you have doubts as to how dependable those reports still are.
  5384. >a voice comes from the crystal
  5385. >you know its a operator, but it isnt Field Day
  5386. >"lord manos, we have a situation"
  5387. >you pick it up
  5388. "whats the problem operator?"
  5389. >"we stumbled into the birds nest"
  5390. "then remove the birds"
  5391.  
  5392. >you are Field Day
  5393. >you and the other four operators are inside the room each of you looking from one griffon to another
  5394. >your armor is humming and you can hear the machine holding your weapon groan as you turn it from bird to bird
  5395. >with a few seconds of nothing happening one of the birds throws down his sword
  5396. >your eyes follow the weapon to the ground when another falls next to it.
  5397. >then another, and another
  5398. >soon all of the griffons weapons are on the floor
  5399. >did.. did you just take captives?
  5400. >your moment of thought is disturbed by one of the other armor's voices echoing
  5401. >you think it came from Operator two
  5402. >"a hero dies but once. a coward dies a thousand times, each time Valhalla will deny your entrance"
  5403. >as you turn to question operator 2 what that means the pony unleashes a hail of lead into the group
  5404. >a few left alive charge at you in a desperate attempt to survive
  5405. >two of them makes contact with operator 3 clawing and ripping at every inch of him
  5406. >>"get them off of me! get them off!"
  5407. >his weapon still fires as he does his best to get the large birds off of him
  5408. "stop firing your weapon! youre going to hit one of us!"
  5409. >but he is panicking too much to hear you
  5410. >one of the other operators rush to him just to be hit by his erratic weapons fire
  5411. >the suit of armor falls to its side the operator shouting in pain
  5412. "Manos damn you Op 3!"
  5413. >you charge the pony and the griffons knocking them all to the ground
  5414. >one of the griffons impacts with the wall leaving a red splat where his skull collided
  5415. >the other one hits the floor wheezing in pain
  5416.  
  5417. >you are Jericho
  5418. >and you are in so much pain. and it all happened so fast
  5419. >one minute you and the others were trying to find a way out of the city
  5420. >the next demons in pony form broke down the wall
  5421. >your ears are still ringing as you try to get up
  5422. "we.. we surrendered.. why did you-"
  5423. >one of the armored ponies hooves push you back to the ground
  5424. >you look up at the armored figure
  5425. >the long weapon that killed so many so quickly is lowered to your face
  5426. >a voice that sounds like all the beasts of tatarus mixed together fills the room
  5427. >"you are beasts, fueled by greed. you have no value in life or death"
  5428. >you were told that if you surrendered you would be treated well
  5429. >that the ponies in canterlot were the real monsters
  5430. "we were told, the hands would let us live if we surrendered"
  5431. >the helmet slowly opens up revealing the ponies face
  5432. >her mane is shaved and he has a fire in her eyes
  5433. >"take heed griffon, for pain is temporary.. glory and death are forever"
  5434. >you look to the slender weapon
  5435. >then everything is black and your pain is gone
  5436.  
  5437. >you are Field Day
  5438. >you watch on as Op 2 eliminates the last griffon
  5439. >while they are your enemies, they did surrender..
  5440. "Op 2, what caused you to attack?"
  5441. >perhaps there was a good explanation
  5442. >the helmet closes up again as the armored pony looks over to you
  5443. >instead of using the internal communications she continues with the external
  5444. >"it was their fate to die here. who are we to deny them?"
  5445. >>"sir, we have a pony injured."
  5446. >you turn to face the pony kneeling down
  5447. >their front leg is riddled with impacts from Op 3's weapon
  5448. "are you able to move?"
  5449. >the pony stands on its other three hooves
  5450. >"yes sir, i can walk. but my armor is locked up on my other leg, i wont be moving it much"
  5451. "you feel any pain?"
  5452. >"no sir, the armor lucky took most of the damage"
  5453. "then lets carry on, we should be clear of the rubble"
  5454.  
  5455. >you are Manos
  5456. >you watch as a wing of black hands pegasi take to the skies above ponyville
  5457. >they are spread out but flying without any issues
  5458. >you watch for a while longer
  5459. >from the city a single griffon takes to the sky stopping just shy of the ponies in the air
  5460. >you see them flying in place
  5461. >they must be talking
  5462. >the griffon soon returns to the ground as your ponies continue on uninterrupted
  5463. "rainbow.. once those ponies return inform the commander to send in our hands."
  5464. >you look back to your tanks
  5465. "im going to give those royals a little visit"
  5466. >walking over to your new tanks you knock on the hatch
  5467. >it opens up revealing a crew of ponies
  5468. >"yes sir?"
  5469. "we are going for a drive."
  5470.  
  5471. >you are Field Day
  5472. >after making your way through the building you are back in the streets
  5473. >unfortunately you are not moving at the pace you would have liked
  5474. >with one of your operators moving at a slower pace the rest of you have to slow yourselves down
  5475. "we are getting closer to the center of town, it should be right around the next turn"
  5476. >the sound of your lumbering armor fills the streets
  5477. >you reach the turn and look down the streets
  5478. >at the far end is a group of ponies all chained up or tied together with griffons all around them.
  5479. >the five of you all spread out along the road
  5480. >you are easily noticed by the large griffon force there
  5481. "lord manos, we are at the center of town, there is a large group of prisoners here along with plenty of griffons"
  5482. >>"understood. hold your position"
  5483. >what did he say..
  5484. "sir?"
  5485. >>"stand your ground if they engage you are weapons free"
  5486. "understood sir."
  5487. >you look to the griffons lining up in the streets
  5488. >perhaps you could talk them down.
  5489. >your voice echos in the streets
  5490. "We are his children of fate. surrender yourselves and you will be treated fairly"
  5491. >a few griffons in the square start to talk to one another
  5492. >some look eager to leave, while others are more determined
  5493. "those of you who fight will be put down. this is your warning"
  5494.  
  5495. >you are manos
  5496. >this will be a gamble.
  5497. >your tanks are moving at full speed down your front lines
  5498. >as you drive you meet with each commander giving them orders to move into the city and take as many streets as they can
  5499. >they are all to eager to follow those orders
  5500. >once you reach the final position you order them to follow behind you
  5501. >everything that has been set up can be left behind
  5502. "we march on, what we do next will determine the fate of ponyville, stay strong my faithful ponies as each one of your loyalties will be tested!"
  5503.  
  5504. >you are Marble Sunset
  5505. >the force is getting closer and closer
  5506. >you can hear the marching of hooves and the sounds of armor clatter
  5507. >"sir, what are our orders?"
  5508. >nothing.
  5509. >your orders are to do nothing
  5510. "we do as we have been. remain hidden and observe."
  5511. >"are you serious sir? they are only moments away and we are just supposed to sit here and wait?"
  5512. "thats what we were told to do. and what could we do against--"
  5513. >there is a sound of distant thunder
  5514. >you look around for clouds but you dont see any in the sky
  5515. "whats making that noise?"
  5516. >the thunder you realize, is more of a low growl and its getting louder
  5517. >suddenly a voice comes from your crystal
  5518. >"Marble.. i have new orders for you. listen closely.."
  5519. "yes lord manos. what are your orders?"
  5520.  
  5521. >you are manos
  5522. >Marbles position happens to be on the opposite side of your approach
  5523. >if everything goes well you might be able to cut off the royal ponies and halt their advance
  5524. >within minutes your tanks come to a stop just short of the road
  5525. >you climb out of the tank and take position just in front
  5526. "secure this area, make it look like we have been waiting here."
  5527. >the black hands you picked up form a few lines on and around the roads
  5528. >you can hear the sounds of marching as you look to the sunrise
  5529. >finally the sun decides to move higher into the sky
  5530. >revealing a force of royal guards in their sunlit armor marching towards you
  5531. >you hold your hand up
  5532. >you see the turrets on your tanks slowly turn to face the ponies in golden armor
  5533. >you raise the crystal you used to talk to the city
  5534. >your voice is still amplified booming over the city loud enough for the Royalists to hear
  5535. "this city is under the control of the Reich, any intervention will be seen as a hostile act and we will defend ourselves..."
  5536. >the ponies march on in their nice perfect lines
  5537. >you see large banners to the princesses being held high
  5538. >the marching force stops and a pony shouts back
  5539. >"we have orders to take back the city in the name of the princesses! return to your homes this is royal business!"
  5540. >poor horses.. so misguided
  5541. "I am lord manos. this city belongs to the Reich, the princesses have no authority here"
  5542. >"Lord manos. this is your only warning. continual interference with royal matters will have you regarded as a enemy of Equestira! tell your ponies to stand down!"
  5543. >you wave your hand and your tanks move forward the dual machine guns on the turrets aiming towards the royal force
  5544. >you look to the pony shouting to you
  5545. >you are sure he has a determined look even from this distance
  5546. >unfortunately determination will get him only so far
  5547. "take heed soldier. you are threatening a foreign leader, another threat or act of aggression will be considered an act of war and you will be fired upon"
  5548. >you raise your hand to your tanks
  5549. "and i assure you. war is something you do not desire with our Reich"
  5550. >you lower your hand down to your side arm griping it firmly
  5551. >the ponies in armor march forward again
  5552. >you look to your ponies, then to the hillside where marble is still stationed.
  5553. >you nod in that hills direction
  5554. >moments later you see the first impact spells flying into the sky
  5555. "then you have decided your fates"
  5556. >not a few seconds later the spells make impact on the ground around the golden ponies
  5557. "fire and advance"
  5558. >your tanks slowly creep forward unleashing your wrath onto the soldiers of Equestira
  5559.  
  5560. >you are marble sunset
  5561. "come on! keep up the spells!"
  5562. >the small number of unicorns under your command are having to exert themselves quite rapidly to continue the barrage
  5563. >you look over the road as the royal forces start to scatter and reorganize small charges
  5564. >whenever they start to group up you see they are suddenly cut down by loud buzzing and banging noises
  5565. >you look back to manos who has taken position on top of one of those large metal carriages
  5566. >he is kneeling over the top of one and pointing to groupings of ponies
  5567. >the top of the machine slowly turns and another burst of noise comes from it
  5568. "what are those things.."
  5569. >"sir what do the rest of us do?"
  5570. "come with me, we need to be ready for our attack."
  5571. >you gather the rest of your command and move down the back of the hill
  5572. >the one thing on your side is going to be the element of surprise.
  5573. >you hope it can be enough
  5574.  
  5575. >you are Manos
  5576. >you extend your arm and point to a group of ponies trying to regroup on the side of the road
  5577. "there is a group forming up on the right rotate and engage"
  5578. >"aye sir!"
  5579. >you hear the sound of the turret turn and soon the glorious sound of gunfire continues from your mighty war machine
  5580. >there is a sudden "clank"
  5581. >"weapon jam! clearing weapon!"
  5582. >both weapons stop firing on your tank
  5583. >why are both weapons stopping?
  5584. >"weapon clear!"
  5585. >the firing continues again
  5586. >a few more seconds pass on by then it happens again
  5587. >"clearing weapon!"
  5588. >what the hell?
  5589. >you clamber onto the tank
  5590. "what the hell is with all the jams?"
  5591. >"sorry sir! but the cartridges keep getting jammed in the weapon!"
  5592. >thats not good.
  5593. >you look over to the other tanks
  5594. >they appear to be having similar issues
  5595. >you shout into the tank
  5596. "pull yourself back to the entrance to the city keep distance between you and the enemy and figure out the damn jamming issue!"
  5597. >"yes lord, you heard him reverse and continue to fire when able!"
  5598. >this is a bad time for weapons failure
  5599. >you draw your sidearm and walk along to the next tank shouting orders as you go
  5600. "form lines! all unicorns begin Impact barrage!"
  5601. >you raise your weapon and fire a few rounds into a royal guard who has started to get a little to close for your liking
  5602. >the rounds go straight on through his soft golden armor
  5603. >he hits the ground like a sack of hammers
  5604. "pegasi get into the air! strike on the flanks where they are weakest!"
  5605. >at a time like this you cant be distracted by the city behind you
  5606. >the best you can do is hope your commanders can follow orders correctly and make decisions on their own
  5607. >you make it to the next tank and clamber up
  5608. >you bang on the top with the bottom of your sidearm
  5609. "open up."
  5610. >the top slowly opens
  5611. >"yes sir?"
  5612. "i need a report on your weapons! now!"
  5613. >"sir! we keep jamming up! everything works fine for a few bursts then suddenly we get a jam!"
  5614. "alright until we figure out why here is how you re going to operate. fire only one weapon at a time, once that one jams have someone get to work on clearing it, while someone else fires the second weapon"
  5615. >"yes sir understood sir!"
  5616. "alright, now slowly pull back and keep your distance from the main force fire on clumps of infantry dont bother with single ponies"
  5617. >you here the pony shout some form of 'yes sir' as you hop down again
  5618. >you hope your temporary solution will do some good
  5619.  
  5620. >you are Field Day
  5621. >as ordered you are holding your position
  5622. >the griffons gathering into a larger group
  5623. >you are vastly outnumbered, even with these weapons you doubt you could get out of this alive
  5624. >Op 2 speaks up in the internal coms
  5625. >"sir, if this first real fight is our last.. i just want to say i hope to see you in Valhalla"
  5626. >>"i second that, and sorry for shooting your leg Op 4"
  5627. >>>"fuck you Op 3, but i accept your apology only because it might be the last one you give"
  5628. >you turn on your external coms again
  5629. "this is your final warning, stand down or be slaughtered. decide your fate or have us decide for you!"
  5630. >you and your team raise your weapons
  5631. >the griffons are finally gathered together
  5632. >"a few versus a few hundred.."
  5633. "this is our trial"
  5634. >the griffons start to advance raising their weapons some starting to take to the air
  5635. >"sir, are we free to engage?"
  5636. "not yet.. let them close in a bit more."
  5637. >the griffons get closer and closer.
  5638. >suddenly they come to a stop
  5639. >there is a shout from behind you
  5640. >"HEIL MANOS!"
  5641. >you take a quick look behind you to see black hands flooding the streets
  5642. >turning back to the griffons you smile under your helmet
  5643. >fate is on your side
  5644. >you shout over the external coms
  5645. >your voice booms loudly
  5646. "SEND THEM TO VALHALLA"
  5647. >"for manos! for the Reich!"
  5648. >you open fire on the large groups of griffons.
  5649. >the good thing about them grouping up...
  5650. >the concentration of bodies means less collateral damage
  5651. >once the black hands reach you you charge with them guns ablaze
  5652. >your orders were to take the square.
  5653. >and take it you shall.
  5654.  
  5655. >you are Manos
  5656. >you continue to walk along the battlefield
  5657. >the Royalists are starting to organize properly
  5658. >they have pulled further back and have taken positions where they are currently safe from your gunfire
  5659. >for now.
  5660. "form a defensive line here, be ready for a counter attack"
  5661. >you walk back to your tank that pulled back to the city
  5662. >the pony commander inside already is sticking his head out for you to give him orders
  5663. >"orders sir!"
  5664. >you point the the area the Royalists have taken position
  5665. >you put on your best southern country accent
  5666. "i need you to drive me around that there hill."
  5667. >"sir?"
  5668. >you climb onto the tank
  5669. "you heard me. let go for a drive."
  5670. >"as you command... sir.."
  5671. >you wave to one of the other tanks signaling to follow you
  5672. >as the tank starts to move the other follows close behind
  5673. >the last tank remains behind providing support and deterring the royals from attacking too soon
  5674. >you grab your crystal again
  5675. "Marble.. are you in position?"
  5676. >there is a silence
  5677. >then marble responds in a hushed voice
  5678. >"yes lord, we are within charge distance from the enemy. not sure how long we can hide out here"
  5679. "dont worry. you wont have to for much longer"
  5680. >you are already coming around the hill
  5681. "we are going to make a nice distraction for ya"
  5682. >you put the crystal into your pocket and point to the gathered ponies
  5683. "fire for effect. keep moving and dont slow down"
  5684. >"AYE SIR! Valhalla awaits them!"
  5685. >the sound of gunfire fills the air
  5686. >and you watch on as ponies get slaughtered in droves
  5687. >and they get slaughtered in your name.
  5688. >in the name of humanity.
  5689. >in the name of the Reich
  5690. "seig heil."
  5691. >looking to the hill you can see Marble and his ponies closing in
  5692. >they are completely ignored by the guards who are desperate to find shelter from the gunfire
  5693. "hold fire."
  5694. >it takes a moment or two for the gunners to notice your command
  5695. >but soon the gunfire stops on your tank, the other stopping soon after
  5696. >the royal guards who survive the attack do their best to retreat to another sheltered area
  5697. >but marble and his team charge from the hilltop the attacking the completely disorganized and unaware troops
  5698. >"they're behind us! to the rear!"
  5699. >>"where did they come from!? they're everywhere!"
  5700. >after taking a moment to enjoy the sight of a properly coordinated ambush you give new orders to your drivers
  5701. "take me in close. they should be nice and broken."
  5702. >"yes lord as you command!"
  5703. >the tank slowly moves towards the guards
  5704. >the tank behind you slowly following its fun aimed at another gathered force
  5705. >with a wave of your arm you give it an order to attack
  5706. >it breaks off and starts to fire on another group maintaining a safe distance from them
  5707. "with weapons like these.. who would oppose me?"
  5708. >the shout of a pony catches your attention
  5709. >"behind us! the best is drawing nearer!"
  5710. >they must be talking about you an your tank
  5711. >you stand up on the side of your war machine a large smile on your face
  5712. "hold here"
  5713. >the tank stops the engine still running and the gunner ready to fire
  5714. >with your infiltrated team of black hands on one side and you and your mighty tank on the other the Royalists are encircled
  5715. >to their credit they still hold their weapons and look ready to fight
  5716. >you take your sidearm in your hand and step down from your tank
  5717. >you slowly walk to the ponies in gold
  5718. "you are brave ponies, of that there is no doubt. who is in charge of this little group?"
  5719. >the ponies dont respond
  5720. "come now.. no need to be afraid.."
  5721. >you raise your sidearm to them
  5722. "decide your own fates then.. if you are leaderless become your own. surrender, as prisoners of the Reich."
  5723. "so what will it be? life or death?"
  5724. >a pony steps forward his eyes full of determination
  5725. >"if you think we will surrender to a monster like you then--"
  5726. >he is cut of by your sidearm firing
  5727. >he falls to the ground limp blood and brain making his golden helmet various shades of red and orange
  5728. "he made his choice. now make yours."
  5729. >the soldiers remaining look to each other and to their current situation
  5730. >they begin to drop their weapons and remove the armor they so proudly wore
  5731. >you motion to the soldiers
  5732. "secure them, move them into the city"
  5733. >marbles voice is heard in the field
  5734. >"with pleasure lord!"
  5735. >the black hands move in securing the weapons and corralling the troops into a orderly line
  5736. >they march them back under guard of you and your tank
  5737. >the tank you ordered to attack another group has moved on and circled back to the city bursts of gunfire leave its dual machine guns as it moves
  5738. >you look to Canterlot on its mountainside perch
  5739. "i thank you for this beautiful morning Celestia"
  5740. >you mockingly bow in the cities direction
  5741. "and for this group of your ponies to interrogate."
  5742. >its times like this you wish you still kept copper coin around.
  5743. >he would have loved to have new ponies to experiment on.
  5744. "im sure i can think of something in your place copper.."
  5745.  
  5746. >you are Field Day
  5747. >you empty another burst into a griffon under your hooves
  5748. >with the reinforcements provided the square was much easier to take.
  5749. >it would have been nearly impossible before
  5750. >looking up from the pile of guts and feathers below you you scan the square
  5751. >all around you are black hands taking prisoners and freeing citizens
  5752. >ponies are quick to thank them with hugs kisses or just repeated 'thank yous'
  5753. >some in their anger take up arms and assist in the fight
  5754. >you doubt those ponies will be as willing to take prisoners as the hands are
  5755. "operators. sound off"
  5756. >"Op 2, my body and spirit are unbroken"
  5757. >"Op 3 here. im feelin fine"
  5758. >"this is Op 5, operator four awaits us in Valhalla..."
  5759. "say again? operator four was lost?"
  5760. >"thats an affirmative sir. with his armor locked up he was unable to fight off a griffons attack."
  5761. "do you know where he has fallen?"
  5762. >you look around for any sign of his fallen body
  5763. >Op 5 stands near the center of town waving his hoof to get your attention
  5764. >"yes sir, hes right here, the armor is secured. nopony is going to get close to it"
  5765. >your orders from Honor Bound explicitly said to protect your armor at all times
  5766. >if a pony was to fall either recover the armor or completely and utterly destroy it
  5767. "is his armor salvageable?"
  5768. >Op 5 kneels over the body examining it
  5769. >"everything seems to be broken up and torn. little of whats here could be used.. but im not an enginepony"
  5770. "understood, operators move in and clear a blast area we are going to destroy the armor."
  5771. >>"understood sir, moving in"
  5772. >while the rest of the city seems to be focused on the griffons or the prisoners you and your team surround the armor
  5773. >kneeling over the body of your fallen comrade Op 2 says a few words
  5774. >"by your deeds you have honored him. the gates of Valhalla will welcome you with open arms. heil manos"
  5775. >you and the rest of the team bow your heads and all say as one "he is the hands of fate"
  5776. >Op 2 moves away from the body as you move in slowly turning him over revealing the back of his armor
  5777. "alright clear back anyone in the area. im setting the crystals now"
  5778. >you have done this a million times in your head and only twice in practice
  5779. >this will be the first time you do it in a mission
  5780. >you pull out the crystals in the suits reserve and smash them into the main power area
  5781. >you now have a few seconds to clear away from the armor
  5782. >you do so, attracting many onlookers
  5783. >any griffons who are left are bound and in chains
  5784. >black hands and ponies start to give more attention to you and your team as you clear away
  5785. >you brace yourself
  5786. >within moments it violently explodes sending metal and parts flying
  5787. "our mission has been accomplished"
  5788.  
  5789. >you are Celestia
  5790. >standing from your balcony you watch your force approach ponyville
  5791. >what better time then now to raise the sun
  5792. >it has always given your ponies great pride to see their armor shine in the morning sun
  5793. >they will need it
  5794. >just as you finish raising the sun you hear some muffled noise
  5795. >looking back to your room you see if someone perhaps dropped a book or something
  5796. "everything alright?"
  5797. >you hear another soft thud
  5798. >then another, and another.
  5799. >it took you a while to find that the noise is coming from ponyville
  5800. >just as you look back to your forces you see them scattered in the distance
  5801. >small clouds of dust appear around them
  5802. "what? whats going on out there?"
  5803. >you are distracted by your door opening behind you
  5804. >"Princess, is everything ok?"
  5805. >Twilight enters your room a worried look on her face
  5806. "why do you ask twilight?"
  5807. >"oh, i just heard noise coming from somewhere, and since i was just outside your room i thought it might have been you"
  5808. >you walk over to your faithful student
  5809. "yes twilight im fine. but i worry for the ponies i sent to ponyville."
  5810. >"how many did you send?"
  5811. "many. more than i thought necessary. but the ponies in the city requested as many as i could spare"
  5812. >you thought what you had sent might have been enough
  5813. >"im sure it will be fine princess. besides, aren't there black hands and others there to help with the city?"
  5814. >you look back to the city again with now more worry than before
  5815. "yes twilight.. Black hands are definitely there."
  5816.  
  5817. >you are Blackout
  5818. >and as much as you hate to say it, you miss being in the field
  5819. >seeing all the ponies here in the Reich have such fervor and pride in their service
  5820. >it makes you feel guilty for not having the same feeling
  5821. >you wanted to be the best.
  5822. >but what do you do now that you were given that status.
  5823. >you look over to the nearby bar where a group of black hands walk inside laughing and carrying on
  5824. >"did you hear the rumors?"
  5825. >>"what rumors?"
  5826. >"i heard that there was a few new weapons leaving that high security building and heading towards ponyville."
  5827. >>"what did they look like?"
  5828. >"im not sure really. but they said they looked like those tanks we saw during the parade."
  5829. >>>"hey yeah i heard about that too. and there were ponies in some new armor riding them?"
  5830. >"yeah, but here is the real kicker. apparently Manos was with them when they left."
  5831. >>"are you serious? do you think Manos would be going into a battlefield when he could stay back in his castle safe and sound?"
  5832. >"hes done it before. why not now?"
  5833. >unfortunately for you the conversation is carried on inside the bar and you dont hear much more
  5834. >you give a heavy sigh
  5835. "Even Manos is out there now.."
  5836. >you take a moment to look at your armored infused body
  5837. >there is nothing keeping you from going too..
  5838. >you feel a new sense of determination as your hooves lead you in the direction of the main gates
  5839.  
  5840. >you are Aryanne
  5841. >Manos has ordered that you and the others in his personal guard meet him in the field
  5842. >MEET him in the field
  5843. >you storm into the barracks where your Black hands are relaxing
  5844. "Alright everyone, listen up!"
  5845. >everyone in the room quickly drops whatever they were doing and snaps to attention in front of their assigned bunks
  5846. "Manos has gone and decided he couldnt wait for us. He has already left for the front"
  5847. >while each pony remains in place you see a few ponies eyes look to others
  5848. "so im considering us late. get your gear and ready up we leave in two minutes! Heil Manos!"
  5849. >"HEIL MANOS"
  5850.  
  5851. >you are Celestia
  5852. >after a few moments of idle chat with Twilight she returns to whatever she was doing previously
  5853. >shes a good student, always studying.
  5854. >looking back over to the city you see a single pegasi rushing to your balcony in his golden armor
  5855. >"Princess!"
  5856. >you take a set back just in time for him to land
  5857. >with the stallion being this close to you now one look is all you need to see he has bad news
  5858. >he is shaking from head to tail and his eyes are wide
  5859. >even now when he is safe inside the castle grounds his eyes are bolting from side to side looking for something
  5860. >he leans in closely and whispers to you
  5861. >"i.. i need to speak to you"
  5862. "then speak my little pony. what has you so concerned? what has happened?"
  5863. >you already have an idea.
  5864. >but you hope you are wrong
  5865. >"n..n..not here. eyes, eyes and ears hear and see."
  5866. "are you quite alright my little pony?"
  5867. >the other guards in your room start to look to the panicked guard
  5868. >"no.. no not alright! we need to speak. away from ponies. yes. away.."
  5869. >one of your guards speak up and start to get between you and the soldier
  5870. >>"you are in no condition to be speaking to the princess alone soldier. you need rest, and to calm down."
  5871. >"NO no! you could be one of them!"
  5872. "What is going on!?"
  5873. >your voice gets the attention of everypony in the room
  5874. >perhaps it WAS a little loud
  5875. >"p-princess are they.. are they safe?"
  5876. >he motions to the guards in the room
  5877. "yes my little pony. they are safe. we are all safe here."
  5878. >his shaking starts to cease and he takes a seat on the floor
  5879. >his eyes are still wide and drifting between the two other guards
  5880. >"the city. the city is lost."
  5881. "how is that possible? i just sent my ponies to take it back. its only been a few hours since they arrived?"
  5882. >"there was noise.. and, and large carriages. they made even more noise! the noises killed ponies. hundreds! in seconds.."
  5883. >you wrap a wing around the shattered guard pony
  5884. >"everyone. i saw so many. so many just ripped apart. i had to run. i had to get away or id die too"
  5885. >>"you left your position?"
  5886. >you look over to the guard who spoke
  5887. "please. let him finish. im sure his reasons are sound. he did come to me and not just run away"
  5888. >"thank you princess. you are always protecting us."
  5889. "youre safe here my little pony. its ok. please tell me more, if you can."
  5890. >the broken pony removes his blood covered helmet
  5891. >"the, the Hands.. they told us to leave.."
  5892. >he looks right in your eyes
  5893. >you see a fear in his eyes you havnt seen for thousands of years
  5894. >pure terror
  5895. "and then they made us leave.. hundreds of us.. they slaughtered us.. like.. like i dont know what."
  5896. >your head snaps to the city
  5897. >manos.. you have gone much too far.
  5898. "dont worry my little pony.. everything will be ok"
  5899. >>"princess. he needs to get some rest. we can put him in the infirmary for you."
  5900. "thank you. hear that my little pony. youre going to go to the infirmary. they will take care of you there, now get some rest."
  5901. >"y-yes princess.. ill go get some rest.."
  5902. >the pony slowly gets to his hooves and is escorted by the guards out of the room
  5903. >what has manos done to cause that kind of fear?
  5904.  
  5905. >you are a Royal guard pegasi
  5906. >you are escorted out of celestias room by two of your brothers in the guard
  5907. "we.. we didnt know what hit us.."
  5908. >"its ok soldier. you will be ok now."
  5909. >you walk with the guards down the many halls of the castle
  5910. >you haven't been inside here enough to know it well
  5911. >but you're pretty sure the infirmary was a hall or two the other way
  5912. "uhm was.. wasnt that hall the way to the infirmary?"
  5913. >one of the guards speak up
  5914. >"we had to make room for another one just over here, for more extreme cases."
  5915. >>"dont worry they will take care of you"
  5916. "oh. okay."
  5917. >why do you feel panicked again?
  5918. >youre safe here. the princess told you so
  5919. >you just need to relax
  5920. >"right in here"
  5921. >you walk up to a doorway you havnt seen before
  5922. >slowly the door is pushed open for you and you step inside
  5923. >the room is nearly empty besides for a table, chair, and a bed
  5924. "where.. where is.."
  5925. >then the door is suddenly closed behind you and sealed with magic
  5926. "no.. nonononono!"
  5927. >you run to the door and bang on it desperately
  5928. >then a voice comes from behind you
  5929. >"if you were brought to me.."
  5930. >you slowly turn your head to the desk and chair
  5931. >there is a pony in the chair and it slowly turns to face you
  5932. >sitting in the chair is a pony
  5933. >a pony dressed in black
  5934. >"then you have sinned against our lord... and must be punished."
  5935. "princess... save me."
  5936. >the pony laughs and gets to his hooves
  5937. "there is no sun or moon here little pony."
  5938. >walking into the light you can see the pony more clearly
  5939. >his perfectly brushed mane, his sadistic smile, and his red armband
  5940. "only fate awaits you here."
  5941. >his horn begins to glow and soon you find yourself without a voice and being pulled into the room
  5942. >please no..
  5943.  
  5944. >you are a member of canterlots crystal Gestapo
  5945. >and you love your job
  5946. >gather intelligence at any price, and correct the population when needed.
  5947. >you just finished your work on a pegasi guard who was already quite traumatized
  5948. "that just takes the fun out of it.."
  5949. >you werent always like this, in fact the first time you ever had to commit violence you hated yourself for it
  5950. >but eventually.. once you had done it enough, you grew to love it.
  5951. >you made sure to keep notes on everything the pony said during his interrogation
  5952. >looking over the list you made sure to get all the key points
  5953. "lets see.. it seems he told the princess that the black hands are attacking royal guards. that our lord has devised some new form of weapons, and that they are REALLY effective. and that the city is no longer in royal guard hooves."
  5954. >pretty nice bit of Intel for one go
  5955. >you take a seat at your desk and begin to write out your report
  5956. >the Shine sisters will want to be aware of all the current happenings
  5957. "i really love my job."
  5958. >you seal an envelope placing all the necessary papers inside,
  5959. >along with a few false documents in case this was to fall into the wrong hooves
  5960. >of course each false document will be marked properly
  5961. >walking over to the large door you break the seal with your magic and turn to the two guards outside
  5962. "get him out of here. and have this sent out to the Reich immediately"
  5963. >"yes sir."
  5964. >the guard takes the envelope and places it in his bag before he and the other start to dispose of any other evidence
  5965. >you have been at this a while, and they know what needs to be cleared up.
  5966. "have a lovely day gentlecolts"
  5967. >"and you too sir, heil manos"
  5968. "heil manos"
  5969.  
  5970. >you are Manos
  5971. >the battle is slowly coming to a close
  5972. >ponies saw the large group of guards surrendering and quickly followed suit
  5973. >you stand on the turret of your prized tank looking out over the either routed, slaughtered, or surrendering forces
  5974. "you are making the right choice. i assure you."
  5975. >riding back to the city with long lines of captives definitely will increase moral on your side
  5976. >and completely crush it on anyone elses
  5977. >"lord manos"
  5978. >you look down from your perch to see Marble sunset
  5979. "marble! that was a textbook rout. i thought you didnt have the confidence to command troops?"
  5980. >marble gives you a seig heil
  5981. >"i found some laying around sir"
  5982. >you point to the line of prisoners
  5983. "i want those ponies names listed along with a approximate count of the dead on both sides."
  5984. >"ill have it for you sir!"
  5985. "i know you will. carry on"
  5986. >Marble rushes off to get a tally while you look to your driver
  5987. "any idea what was causing those weapon jams?"
  5988. >the pony holds up a spent ammo belt along with a few rounds
  5989. >you take them in your hands and examine them
  5990. >"yes i do sir, apparently they didnt measure the belt widths and the projectiles are in various sizes.."
  5991. "no wonder we were having issues."
  5992. >you drop the belt and the rounds
  5993. "my scientists cant even measure.."
  5994. >"on the bright side lord, now that we know whats wrong we can have it corrected."
  5995. >thats not the point
  5996. "the point is this issue shouldnt have even been an issue! how hard is it to measure and keep it consistent?"
  5997. >the pony is silent
  5998. >you know he agrees with you
  5999. "drive me back to the city. the square should be ours by now."
  6000. >the engine of your armored creation roars to life again
  6001. >"yes lord. as you will"
  6002.  
  6003. >you are Aryanne
  6004. >the rest of Manos' personal guard follow behind you as you approach the gate
  6005. >as the large gate opens you see a familiar pony walk out with you
  6006. "Blackout?"
  6007. >Blackout turns to face you continuing to walk
  6008. "i thought you were on leave? what are you doing?"
  6009. >"i decided to cut it short. i heard Manos was going into the field. figured he might want some help with whatever he is doing"
  6010. >you look back to Cinnamon, and Almond.
  6011. "Comet was ordered to stay behind since he is part of some broadcast thing manos has going on, so. we are down a pony."
  6012. >blackout continues to walk but looks back over our ponies
  6013. >"is that an invitation commander?"
  6014. >you smile
  6015. "would you feel better if i made it an order?"
  6016. >"i might."
  6017. >you hear Cinnamon's voice shout from behind you
  6018. >>"well consider it one then lets get moving, id rather be tired and there than bored and here"
  6019. "couldnt have said it better myself. now shut your yap and lets get moving. we have a lot of ground to cover."
  6020.  
  6021. >you are Manos
  6022. >you ride on into the city with a chain gang of royal guard prisoners
  6023. >the streets are completely ruined.
  6024. >trash, bodies, and rubble are all over.
  6025. >how the hell did griffons cause all this damage with basic weaponry?
  6026. >you think out loud the sound of the tanks engine blocking your words from unwanted listeners
  6027. "if birds without magic can cause all this destruction the conflict with Equestria is going to be at least double this"
  6028. >then something catches your eyes
  6029. "hold.. hold!"
  6030. >the driver brings you to a stop
  6031. >nearly everyone stops to look and see what has caused the hold up
  6032. >you slowly walk to the largely ruined piece of rock that used to be a statue
  6033. >the two sister princesses that once stood next to it completely smashed into dust besides their hooves
  6034. >and then the statue of you.
  6035. >standing tall amidst the rubble it could easily have gone unnoticed as just a lucky statue
  6036. >you are at the base of the statue now and you look up to see your image defaced
  6037. >protruding from your stone self are large black crystals
  6038. "Sombra.."
  6039. >so he was here. and possibly still is.
  6040. >a few black hands have gathered around to look at the statue covered in the black shards
  6041. >you see a pony slowly reach forward to touch one of them
  6042. >just before he does his hoof is stopped by your hand calmly
  6043. "no.."
  6044. >you look back to your line of prisoners and point to one in the line
  6045. "her, bring her over here."
  6046. >a few black hands unbind the guardmare and walk her over
  6047. >she has dried blood crusted into her coat and her eyes are a mix of worry and anger as she arrives next to you
  6048. >you grab her hoof and press it to the crystal
  6049. >not a moment after her eyes are dilated and she is screaming
  6050. >she starts to jerk herself around trying to get away from whatever she is seeing
  6051. >its then you realize she is still looking right at you
  6052. >your face reflects back to you in her widened eyes
  6053. >you let her hoof go and her screaming stops instead turning into a muffled cry
  6054. >"what are those lord?"
  6055. "a shipment"
  6056. >"a shipment?"
  6057. >you wave over a few more hands
  6058. "have it gathered and delivered to the Reich as soon as possible."
  6059. >the black hands look around confused as you get back on the tank and begin your ride into the city
  6060. >soon you approach the square
  6061. >as you expected its back in your control
  6062. "have those royals moved over there with the Griffons"
  6063. >"yes lord!"
  6064. >having all the prisoners gathered together and under watch you look to your ponies
  6065. "my children! my faithful hands! the city is once again under our control."
  6066. >you extend your hand out to the destroyed city around you
  6067. "but as you can see.. there is little left here."
  6068. >ponies look to their once proud city
  6069. >the place that once gave them pride and hope for a better future now in ruin
  6070. "perhaps it was fate that this city was to fall. we were too accepting of others. too kind and willing to let those who felt differently or had different lifestyles live amongst us."
  6071. >you hear a few murmurs of agreement
  6072. "but have no fear my little ponies. while this city has fallen another has arose! a Reich has begun in the north! where those who value the same values as you and dedicate themselves to the same faith have gathered!"
  6073. >a few crystal ponies in your black hands start to grow smiles on their faces
  6074. >you motion them over.
  6075. "the crystal ponies of the Reich offer you shelter and safety from the Tyrants of the Sun and Moon, while i will not force you to come back with us, i ask that you do. let me protect you."
  6076. >you already know they would go if you told them to.
  6077. >the ponies of ponyville city are fanatical in their faith just like those in the Reich
  6078. >but asking them to go paints a much better image of you in the public eye
  6079. "those who wish to come with us, we leave in a few hours.. i wish we could stay longer and give a proper goodbye to our home... but alas time is of the essence, and you must decide your own fates."
  6080. >you walk over to your hands
  6081. "have everyone ready to move out, i can already feel the heat of the sun"
  6082.  
  6083. >you are Celestia
  6084. >you are enjoying a nice breakfast/dinner with your sister.
  6085. >"Sister?"
  6086. >you look up from your plate to Luna
  6087. "yes?"
  6088. >"are you alright? you seem.. distant"
  6089. "im alright Luna. just thinking about events."
  6090. >"about ponyville?"
  6091. >you nod your head
  6092. "yes. i just dont understand how all this could be happening, griffons intruding on our land, Manos and his rise to power.. and now.."
  6093. >looking over to luna you notice her plate has been empty for a while, a few small bits of dried food remain
  6094. >compared to yours, still filled without a bite missing
  6095. >"and now? what sister?"
  6096. >you take a sigh.
  6097. >"manos has attacked royal guards that were trying to help take back the city."
  6098. >"is.. this true sister?"
  6099. "yes, im afraid it is luna, it wasnt until recently that I-"
  6100. >the door opens up and a royal guard steps through
  6101. >>"your majesties, Twilight Sparkle and her friends are here as you requested"
  6102. "but.. i didnt"
  6103. >Luna speaks up and smiles to the guard
  6104. >"let them in."
  6105. >>"yes your majesties."
  6106. >you look to your sister a small smile on her face
  6107. >"you always seem to be in a better mood when Twilight and her friends are here. so i took the liberty of inviting them to your breakfast."
  6108. >you give your dear sister a warm smile
  6109. "thank you luna, that was very thoughtful of you.
  6110. >with a bow the guard opens the door allowing the five ponies to enter
  6111. "Twilight its always nice to see you, how has everypony settled in?"
  6112. >before twilight answers luna adds to your inquiry
  6113. >"and.. where is your other friend Twilight? Rainbow Dash?"
  6114. >>"oh dont worry about us princess. everything has been nice, we just wish to get back home as soon as we can. its nice to be back in Canterlot but Ponyville is our home."
  6115. "i hope you can return home soon my student, i can understand being away from home must be difficult"
  6116. >>"and Rainbow Dash, shes probably with Manos. didnt you know Luna?"
  6117. >Luna looks a little troubled
  6118. >a feeling you too admit ably share
  6119. >>"shes a Black hand, a personal guard for Manos"
  6120.  
  6121. >you are Manos
  6122. "alright its time to move out, those of you coming with us please fall into line behind my machines"
  6123. >you watch as your pony citizens scramble slightly to get to where they need to be
  6124. >you signal the lead elements you are ready to move and soon the convoy start to roll out
  6125. "commander. if you please, your crystal."
  6126. >"yes lord, here you are."
  6127. >a communications crystal is lifted to your hand, then to a reasonable distance from your face
  6128. "this is lord manos, ill be leaving the city on our most protected end, all remaining outside forces are to converge on me, we are leaving the city, i repeat we are leaving the city."
  6129. >to your surprise Rainbow Dash is the first to respond
  6130. >"leaving?! i thought we were taking the city back?"
  6131. "we are Commander Dash, just leaving the stone and rubble behind. everyone we could find is coming out with us."
  6132. >well... thats not ENTIRELY true.
  6133. >there are a few ponies who desired to stay behind
  6134. >and there are most assuredly griffons and royals still in some areas of the city
  6135. >"manos, ive been meaning to find the right time to tell you, but it seems we left something behind in the Castle"
  6136. >what?
  6137. "what do you mean Rainbow? from your operation previously? whatever was left we can go without."
  6138. >"no sir, from before. from when you left to the Reich"
  6139. "what was left behind?.."
  6140. >there is a short pause before another ponies voice comes onto the communications
  6141. >"lord manos, im one of your scientists as well as a black hand. and uh, what was left behind.. was a hive. lord."
  6142. >a hive?
  6143. "how is that possible. i was told that a hive needs a queen to run---"
  6144. >a queen...
  6145. >you think back to something that your scientists informed you of
  6146. >queenie can communicate with ALL members of her brood.
  6147. >not just the ones in the camps...
  6148. "inform Cadence immediately, i want to have a chat with our little pet."
  6149. >you take the crystal and toss it back to the pony
  6150. >he looks to you with slight concern
  6151. >"lord is everything okay?"
  6152. "something isnt right.. im just not sure what it is, FORWARDS!"
  6153. >the speed is picked up slightly and a single ponies voice can be heard
  6154. >soon others join in the tune
  6155.  
  6156. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FTCajk7oeA [Embed]  PANZERLIED ! Erwin Rommel's favorite song .
  6157.  
  6158. >by the end of the song you are leaving the city and the rear guard is in sight
  6159. >you kneel down as close to the driver as you can and point to a small shack in the distance
  6160. "bring me in to the command post. there should be ponies waiting for me there."
  6161. >"yes lord."
  6162. >your tank breaks off from the main group
  6163. >they continue on, making their way from ponyville to the safe territory under control of your Reich
  6164. >upon arriving you walk past lines of unicorns and pegasi
  6165. >each of them giving sieg heils and stepping out of your way
  6166. "Commander Dash"
  6167. >"over here lord! the others just arrived."
  6168. >walking over to Rainbow you are greeted by Aryanne, Cinnamon Pop, and Almond Heart and... Blackout?
  6169. "Blackout? what are you doing here?"
  6170. >Blackout smiles as her helmet opens up to reveal her face
  6171. >>"i got bored waiting around, and i thought you might want to see my pretty face"
  6172. "its good to see you again."
  6173. >you turn your attention back to Rainbow Dash again
  6174. "Commander. you said we left behind a hive?"
  6175. >she nods in affirmation
  6176. "where exactly?"
  6177. >"back in the closed off R&D section of the castle."
  6178. "alright. you know the way?"
  6179. >"yes sir i do."
  6180. "then take me there. i need to see this for myself"
  6181. >you turn back to the pony in charge of the reserve forces
  6182. "you are to hold this position. i shall return soon with further orders. is that understood?"
  6183. >"yes lord manos! it will be done"
  6184. "lead the way Rainbow."
  6185.  
  6186. >you are Aryanne
  6187. >and to be honest it feels a little odd having to take orders from someone who was once under your command
  6188. >Rainbow Dash comes to a stop just outside the edge of everfree
  6189. >"right up here is where we first uh... made contact with you. sir."
  6190. >Manos mumbles something to himself before ordering Rainbow to continue on
  6191. >"alright, right this way. the woods have changed a little since we were last here."
  6192. >it doesnt take long for that to become apparent
  6193. >the woodland is dark, darker than it should be at this time of day
  6194. >you look up to the sky only to be greeted by layers and layers of branches and leaves as high as you can see
  6195. "well, getting our position by the sun or stars is out of the question."
  6196. >Manos continues on as you take a moment to look for gaps in the treetops
  6197. >>"not sure how that would be useful here anyway, you have two princesses who can literally move them at will."
  6198. >thats a fair point.
  6199. >one you never really thought about before.
  6200. "they usually keep things the same."
  6201. >>"unless it benefits themselves, every second they keep the sun or moon from moving is a chance they could ruin the balance of nature."
  6202. "how so?"
  6203. "the moon changing course could create tidal waves that could destroy whole cities, and the sun if left in one position too long could create a desert out of a tropical forest"
  6204. >you nearly run into manos as he stops in front of you to look back
  6205. >>"the princesses could hold your whole world hostage if they decided to. if they desired it, they could end all life here"
  6206. >this revelation makes cold sweat drip down the back of your neck
  6207. "they.. they really cou-"
  6208. >a smile comes to his face and he starts to laugh
  6209. >>"yes, it is completely within their power to do so. i just wonder if they know it, or at least the extent of it"
  6210. >sometimes you wish you could understand how manos can remain so calm knowing everything he does.
  6211. >and then go to war with beings capable of destroying the world on a whim.
  6212.  
  6213. >you are Manos
  6214. >after a hour or two you arrive at the door of your once proud home
  6215. >memories of a party you once held come to mind
  6216. >you take a moment to remember the night
  6217. >closing your eyes you feel yourself drift out of body
  6218. >time slows around you until it comes to a stop
  6219. "its been a long time.. since i have seen this place shiny and new."
  6220. >the world turns into a slightly foggy representation of the night you invited everyone to your castle
  6221. >guests are arriving at your door escorted by friends and your own guards
  6222. >you can hear laughter and the sound of drinks and silverware in the main hall
  6223. >buts its all just a memory.
  6224. >you open your eyes and let the world come back to reality
  6225. >you step inside, as if going back in time you see the castle looking new as the day you rebuilt it.
  6226. >ghostly figures of guests and guards enjoying themselves walk around your home
  6227. >then Rainbow Dash walks inside.
  6228. >"its right this way manos, be careful, this place is dangerous and a little unstable now."
  6229. >you watch as she walks through the guests
  6230. >they disappear into a cloud of smoke as she makes contact with them
  6231. >Aryanne and the others follow her closely, each of them looking to the corners of the room and the shadows for anything dangerous
  6232. >they cannot see it like you can.
  6233. >you yourself start to follow their lead, staying close and following their footsteps so you dont crash into something by mistake
  6234. >the laughter and sounds of guests talking still fills your ears.
  6235. >is this because you havnt slept?
  6236. "no, its only been one night.."
  6237. >your words catch Aryannes attention
  6238. >"what was that lord?"
  6239. "sorry. just thinking out loud."
  6240. >just then you hear your voice from behind you
  6241. >"Everyone, i thank you all for coming"
  6242. >and there you are, standing above the crowd of guests
  6243. >"and for those who were personally invited it is time for our private dinner."
  6244. >that was the night. the night you were no longer Anon...
  6245. >"but for those of you who arrived without a personal invitation don't fret! your dinner will be served out here right after we depart. i hope you all continue to enjoy the night, those of you dinning with me, please follow me."
  6246. >you look back to your ponies. who continue to march on into the castle
  6247. "wait. there's something i need to see."
  6248. >there is a slight chill up your spine as you start to walk on
  6249. >you follow the ghostly forms of Cadence, Celestia, Luna, Lyra, and the others you invited.
  6250. >surprisingly you seem to walk along the floor without stumbling or tripping on anything
  6251. >you follow yourself walking down into the crowd where you led your VIP guests to the dinning room
  6252. >once you arrive there everyone already has taken their seats and you stand at the head of the table.
  6253. >"let dinner.." you then hear the clapping of your own hands
  6254. >"begin"
  6255. >suddenly the doors open up and servants bring out all sorts of foods
  6256. >from the high class to the more humble of tastes
  6257. >you watch as everyone begins to eat and enjoy then you remember what comes next
  6258. >>"DIE QUEEN SLAYER!"
  6259. >a changeling attacks you with a broken glass jabbing it into your neck
  6260. >you watch your old self die right in front of your eyes
  6261. >you sit there and watch Anonymous die.
  6262.  
  6263. >you are Blackout
  6264. >Rainbow Dash is in a shouting contest with Aryanne
  6265. >"what the buck?!"
  6266. >>how the hell did he do that? how do we get to him now?"
  6267. >the others seem to be just as surprised at what happened as they are
  6268. >they just are at a loss for words instead of their 'commanders'
  6269. >"he- he just-"
  6270. "Calm down everypony, just think for a minute. ok.. lets go over what we all saw."
  6271. >you look to the large collapsed doorway in front of you
  6272. >you look it over for any sort of flaws or parlor magics
  6273. >"Manos, he said there was something he needed to see.. then poof!"
  6274. >>"no not 'poof!' commander Dash. there was no sound! he just.. walked right into the rubble! like it wasnt even there!"
  6275. "Cinnamon, youre a unicorn. is there any kind of spell going on here?"
  6276. >Cinnamon walks over to the rubble his horn glowing
  6277. >he examines it looking to up, down, left, right, and into every nook and cranny. before finally giving a sigh
  6278. >"if there is. its damn good magic. i cant find a thing that would suggest it.."
  6279. "alright. well we have all been here before, we all spent plenty of time here and we know the threat of changelings has been removed thanks to rainbow."
  6280. >"so what do you propose blackout?"
  6281. "we split up, try to find a way around this rubble and into the next room. if i remember it correctly this was the VIP dining hall.. there should be a servants entrance around here somewhere, Cinnamon, Almond, you two come with me. Aryanne, you and rainbow look around for another way in"
  6282. >Aryanne speaks up
  6283. >"what if we happen to get lost, this place has changed a bit since we were here."
  6284. >you close up your helmet
  6285. "our communications still work correct?"
  6286. >you can hear your voice coming from both Aryanne and Rainbows crystals
  6287. >"they seem to."
  6288. "then we can find each other if the need arises"
  6289. >>"and what about us? we dont have communications."
  6290. >you look back to Cinnamon
  6291. "nope you got me. if you get lost. yell. ill find you and return you to your mommy little boy."
  6292. >Cinnamon rolls his eyes while the girls giggle
  6293. >"dont worry Cinnamon, youre a big stallion now. im sure you will be fine."
  6294. "alright, lets move out. we need to find Manos."
  6295. >"SEIG HEIL"
  6296.  
  6297. >you are manos
  6298. >black hands dressed as guests rush to your copies side
  6299. >they quickly examine you and you can hear them speak in a hushed tone
  6300. >"oh celestia, this cut is too deep"
  6301. >"this is not good, i dont know if we can actually help him."
  6302. >you watch as Cadence rushes over and tries to use her magic to help
  6303. >but her horns glow keeps fading away
  6304. >she cant concentrate
  6305. >in her frustration she attacks the changeling beating it into the floor
  6306. >the shell of the bug cracks and opens up with each stomp
  6307. >the other ponies in the room are watching her stunned
  6308. >then everything stops.
  6309. >all eyes in the room slowly turn to you
  6310. >the REAL you the one who is watching it all unfold
  6311. >that chill that crawled up your spine before returns again
  6312. >then everyone in the room speaks
  6313. >"you had everyone under your hoof the moment they walked in here."
  6314. >then anon starts to stand up from the floor, blood still pouring from his neck
  6315. >"it was very well thought out.. and to be honest, i am jealous of your tact."
  6316. "its easy to be afraid when its the unknown you face, but once the foe has shown themselves. fear can be overcome"
  6317. >the ghosts of your friends all form into a black cloud and move into your old self
  6318. >once they make contact the whole body then changes into the form of the pony behind this attack
  6319. >his crooked smile and bright eyes are the first thing you recognize. then his horn and grey body forms, while his tail and mane remain in a ghostly smoke
  6320. "if you were smarter Sombra.. you wouldn't have shown yourself to me."
  6321. >his deep laughter fills the room
  6322. >"is that so? you are alone in here. you have no elements to protect you. and i feel stronger here than i ever have before!"
  6323. >his grin becomes maniacal and his eyes lock with yours
  6324. >"here i will end you, and i will take back my kingdom"
  6325. >you calmly feel your pocket doing your best to look natural
  6326. "simply killing me wont get your kingdom back Sombra. whether you like it or not, you need me to get it back"
  6327. >inside is the crystal that was given to you by your operators and you hope they are listening
  6328. >you are going to need help with this one
  6329. "and im not sure i want to give it back."
  6330. >Sombra walks towards you his horn beginning to glow
  6331. >you remember something that Luna told you long ago back before this castle was rebuilt.
  6332. >there are dangerous magics here.
  6333. >perhaps Sombra has gained access to it?
  6334. >you need to know what it is.
  6335. >"im going to take joy in ending your miserable life Manos"
  6336. >you watch as the large cloud loving unicorn charges at you
  6337. >perhaps this would be the end of you.
  6338.  
  6339. >you are Blackout
  6340. >Cinnamon and Almond walk with you down one of the side halls
  6341. >the castle is almost deathly silent except for.
  6342. "hold. i hear something"
  6343. >everypony stops and their ears perk up listening for anything you might have heard
  6344. >"i dont hear-"
  6345. "SH!"
  6346. >you know you can hear a voice.
  6347. >its muffled and distant but its there.
  6348. "follow me!"
  6349. >you rush down the hall, the voice getting clearer and clearer
  6350. >you make it to a small wooden door
  6351. >the voice is on the other side, you are sure of it.
  6352. >the only thing you aren't sure of is whose voice it is.
  6353. >only one way to find out.
  6354. >you and the others get on each side of the door
  6355. >cinnamon and almond on the left, you on the right
  6356. "alright, whatever i heard its right on the other side of this door."
  6357. >"alright, on three we enter."
  6358. >his horn starts to glow as he readies himself
  6359. "one, two. go"
  6360. >in a flash Cinnamon swings open the door and the three of you charge into the room
  6361. >once you enter you immediately recognize this room.
  6362. >this is the dining hall. the one manos should be in.
  6363.  
  6364. >you are Sombra
  6365. >Manos stands before you with your horn going right through his chest
  6366. >you quickly pull it out watching as his blood drips from it
  6367. >you take a few steps back from him as he holds his chest in pain
  6368. >this moment is what you have been waiting for.
  6369. "you have no idea how badly ive wanted to kill you Manos, ever since our first encounter i have hated you with a passion that i have never felt before."
  6370. >you watch as his blood covers his hands and he falls down to his knees
  6371. "you and your plans, your 'greatness' you are nothing. and this moment here proves it. you call yourself a god! you are nothing but a child with a silver tongue and mind games!"
  6372. >you knock him to the floor and stomp on his open wound
  6373. "pathetic! that is the only title you can ever own. a pitiful pathetic monkey."
  6374. >you take immeasurable joy as the life slowly leaves his eyes
  6375. >"oh i have been, where you are before~"
  6376. >the sound of a voice in the room interrupts your moment of glory
  6377. >you search for the sound of it
  6378. >"and i have felt the pain of losing who you are~"
  6379. >suddenly manos body comes up from the ground grabbing you by the neck and horn
  6380. >"and i have died so many times..."
  6381. >you struggle to get free but his arm is wrapped around your neck and the other is grabbing your horn directing your head wherever he wants
  6382. "get off of me! you should be dead! ive killed you, you were dead!"
  6383. >the once dead body of Manos turns your head to face him
  6384. >there is little you can do to get out of his grip
  6385. >"oh? but i am still alive Sombra. im alive and well"
  6386.  
  6387. >you are Manos
  6388. >and your chest hurts more than anything you have ever experienced before
  6389. >more than the time you got stabbed in the neck or either of the times you were attacked by Shining armor.
  6390. >but you didnt pass out this time.
  6391. >"how are you still alive?!"
  6392. >you grip his horn tightly in your hand
  6393. "oh ill get to that. dont you worry, but first"
  6394. >Sombra lets out a scream of pain as you twist his neck away from his horn
  6395. >he starts to buck and try to break free.
  6396. >your scuffle knocks the two of you to the floor behind the table
  6397. >you do your best to keep sombra in a tight grip but he is starting to wear you down.
  6398. >you let go of his neck and instead use both hands to grip his horn
  6399. >he takes this moment to push into you to try and throw you off balance
  6400. >rolling with his movements you regain control and get positioned over him
  6401. >you press your boot into his neck pushing him head to the floor as you pull his horn with your hands with all your strength
  6402. >you hear a loud snap and a scream of pure agony
  6403. >you let out a small laugh at the bastards pain
  6404. "want to know how i survived Sombra?"
  6405. >you kneel down to the Unicorn
  6406. "I am Fate, the rules of life and death are different for me"
  6407. >you raise your arm and plunge Sombras horn deep into his eye
  6408. >you walk over to the table
  6409. >luckily there are nice cloth napkins still on the plates
  6410. >breathing heavily you wipe the blood splatter from your face with one of them
  6411. >then you turn to look at the body of Sombra on the floor
  6412. >you cant help but chuckle to yourself
  6413. "heh, all that magic, all that potential wasted."
  6414. >you step over the body and start to walk out of the room
  6415. >as you do you start to sing softly to yourself
  6416. "Es gibt ein Haus in Neu-Berlin, man nennt es Haus Abendrot~"
  6417. >just before you leave you turn to the body again and pull out your sidearm
  6418. "Es war der Ruin vieler guter Jungs~"
  6419. >you fire a round into his head for good measure then re-holster it before walking out the door
  6420. "von mir, mein Gott lebt ich not."
  6421.  
  6422. >you are Blackout
  6423. >you walk further into the room while Cinnamon guards the door
  6424. >Almond slowly follows behind you keeping watch
  6425. >then you spot something. a trail of red blood coming from the other side of the table
  6426. "Manos!"
  6427. >you rush over to where the blood is coming from but whats there catches you off guard
  6428. "what the.."
  6429. >"is that sombra? oh my god.."
  6430. >Almond inspects the body
  6431. >well whats left of it
  6432. >the lower half of his jaw is missing from something entering his head
  6433. >and he has a horn sticking straight into his eye going into the floor on the other side
  6434. >wait.. not a horn, thats HIS horn.
  6435. >you take a moment to look around
  6436. >one of the napkins has been taken off of a plate, the dust having left a perfect outline of where it once was
  6437. "Manos should be around here somewhere. we should keep looking"
  6438. >"yeah, to be honest. seeing King Sombra dead in a dining room makes me really glad we are not on Manos' bad side"
  6439.  
  6440. >you are Aryanne
  6441. >you and Rainbow Dash are looking for a way into the dinning hall
  6442. "i told you we went the wrong way."
  6443. >"we did not go the wrong way! how could we have? the dinning hall was on the left of us and we went left!"
  6444. "well we havnt seen any way inside so how could we have gone the right way?"
  6445. >"hey, i was here just a day or two ago. i think i might have a better memory of it than you do"
  6446. "Rainbow, you might be a commander now, but im still your superior, and im ordering you to-"
  6447. >"to what?"
  6448. "shh, someone is coming"
  6449. >Rainbow quickly hides behind some statues while you get behind a large banner
  6450. >you both wait to see who is walking your direction
  6451. >>"if you can hear me, relay a message to anyone who can get a hold of Aryanne and the others, ive lost contact, tell them ill meet with them outside the castle"
  6452. >you come out from behind the banner
  6453. "no need sir. seems we have found you"
  6454. >Manos stops just as he was about to pass by your hall
  6455. >>"cancel that last order. continue on to your previous destination."
  6456. >you hear a quiet 'yes sir' come from manos' pocket
  6457. >>"i wondered where you would be."
  6458.  
  6459. >you are Manos
  6460. >and you happened to find Aryanne and Rainbow Dash
  6461. "where are the others? shouldn't they be with you?"
  6462. >"we split up when we had to search for you."
  6463. "and why didnt you just follow me inside? i happened to notice that my bodyguards were not around when i was attacked by Sombra."
  6464. >Rainbow Dash and Aryanne look to you confused
  6465. >>"uh.. Manos, you walked right though a collapsed doorway. we couldnt follow you"
  6466. >you what?
  6467. "im sorry i think i miss heard you"
  6468. >"you walked through a doorway that was collapsed"
  6469. >you just stand there for a moment
  6470. >did you really walk through rubble?
  6471. "show me"
  6472. >>"sure thing, we will tell Blackout where to meet up with us."
  6473. >you follow the mares down the hall
  6474. >even with sombra dead, this place is still giving you a chill.
  6475. >you walk down the hall in thought
  6476. >how were you able to walk through a solid object.
  6477. >whats more, how was sombra able to effect you and not tip off the others?
  6478. >"its right here."
  6479. >you look to the doorway and feel the stone and rubble
  6480. "strange. i dont remember even seeing this."
  6481. >its best not to dwell on this now. there is still that hive in here.
  6482. >you look to Aryanne and extend your hand
  6483. "communications please"
  6484. >you are handed Aryannes crystal
  6485. "Reich, this is Manos"
  6486. >you wait a few moments before a voice comes back to you
  6487. >"lord manos. we hear you loud and clear."
  6488. "has Cadence been informed of my current situation?"
  6489. >"yes lord. she is currently here now if--"
  6490. "put her on immediately"
  6491. >"yes lord"
  6492.  
  6493. >you are Cadence
  6494. >a pony rushes over to you holding out his crystal
  6495. >>"its Lord manos ma'am, he wishes to speak with you"
  6496. >you take the crystal from him
  6497. "Manos, are you ok?"
  6498. >"yes im fine, just taking care of a few loose ends. now, i need you to get to our little queen and have her put on the line"
  6499. "are you sure manos? i heard there is a hive thats forming near you. if you think its her should we be informing her of anything?"
  6500. >there is a loud silence
  6501. >then manos' voice comes back
  6502. >"please just get me into contact with her."
  6503. >you sigh as you ready a teleportation spell
  6504. "yes manos."
  6505.  
  6506. >you are Manos
  6507. >you hear the sound of magic on the other side, followed by a few footsteps and the sound of chains being unlocked
  6508. >then there is the sound of breathing
  6509. "Queen?"
  6510. >there is a little buzzing then the changelings voice comes through
  6511. >"y-yes?"
  6512. "are you in control of the hive thats growing in my old home?"
  6513. >"no! i swear im not! i had no idea that there was a hive there until i was locked up!"
  6514. >you listen to the sound of her voice
  6515. >she sounds like she is telling the truth, but Changelings are deceivers by their nature
  6516. "i know they need a queen to operate and organize so effectively, i also know they have a connection to you since they are from your previous queen, so ill ask again. are you lying to me?"
  6517. >the Queen remains silent
  6518. "Queenie?"
  6519. >"they are under my command..."
  6520. "how do i know you aren't lying to me now then?"
  6521. >while this conversation was going on you and the others have been walking to where Rainbow had sealed them in
  6522. >you are currently outside the large door
  6523. >"you dont.."
  6524. "then ill test you."
  6525. >you pull out your sidearm and aim it down the hall behind you
  6526. >you dont fire it and just wait a few moments
  6527. "anything?"
  6528. >"no, what am i supposed to be looking for--"
  6529. >you pull the trigger and the gun fires, the changelings on the other side of the door start to go crazy
  6530. >you can hear the buzzing of their wings as they fly around probably scared by the noise
  6531. >"what did you just do?!"
  6532. "congratulations queenie, you passed. please hand the crystal back to cadence"
  6533. >"but i-"
  6534. "NOW"
  6535. >Cadences voice comes back
  6536. >"Manos?"
  6537. "Cadence. here are my orders, amplify my voice so you and the queen can hear me"
  6538. >you wait a few moments so she has enough time to cast the spell
  6539. "alright Queenie im going to open that door. and here is the real kicker. if i or any of the others with me even get a scratch on us. you're going to die."
  6540. >you can hear sad bug pony noises on the other side
  6541. >"i understand. you wont be hurt. i promise."
  6542. "good girl. ill be seeing you when i get back"
  6543. >you place the crystal in your pocket so they can hear if any harm comes to you
  6544. "Cinnamon, if you please?"
  6545. >>"yes lord manos."
  6546. >the sound of large locks and tumblers unlocking fills the hall
  6547. >the changelings on the other side remain silent as the door swings open slowly
  6548. >you take a step inside the room and look at the hundreds of changelings filling it
  6549. >each one of them have their eyes locked on you
  6550. "move."
  6551. >for a moment nothing happens, then a small path is cleared for you by the drones
  6552. >you walk right up to the large hive structure. and you feel the smooth surface
  6553. "i wonder"
  6554. >you turn your head to a changeling and you point to the hive
  6555. "take a part off"
  6556. >a few drones rush to the hive and start to rip a chunk off and drop it at your feet
  6557. >you watch them closely as you pick it up
  6558. >the material is very lightweight and it feels solid
  6559. >you stick it into the ground firmly and take a few steps back
  6560. >sidearm still in your hand you point it at the hardened material and pull the trigger.
  6561. >the material falls over from the impact of the round
  6562. >the changelings in the room who had previously jumped back from the noise start to skitter back
  6563. >you ignore them as you walk over to the chunk and lift it
  6564. >there is a very small indention where the bullet made impact
  6565. >you pull the smashed bullet out of the dent
  6566. >you toss the chunk aside and holster your sidearm
  6567. "this is a interesting discovery. perhaps a cheap new armor?.."
  6568. >you look over to your ponies.
  6569. >they are far more nervous than you are about being surrounded by changelings
  6570. >but you cant really blame them
  6571. "lets go. leave them here for now. they wont be going anywhere."
  6572. >as you leave the room the door starts to slowly close
  6573. "if you value your existence.. you will continue to make that material."
  6574. >those are your last words to the changelings as the door seals itself again
  6575.  
  6576. >you are a queen
  6577. >why did you do it? all you wanted was a chance to prove that not all changelings were rabid beasts
  6578. >you thought that if you proved to manos and Cadence that you would help with removing the evil creatures they would let you start a hive of civilized and loyal children.
  6579. >you look up from your new cell and see Cadence walk in.
  6580. >she looks so angry with you.
  6581. >and she is the one pony you dont want to make angry.
  6582. >two other ponies walk in with her.
  6583. >they always wear those black uniforms.
  6584. >do they like to look like changelings?
  6585. >with a nod from Cadence the two ponies unlock your chains
  6586. >is this a second chance?
  6587. >a Cadence levitates a pink shinny rock over to you
  6588. >you stare at it for a moment before you realize you are supposed to take it
  6589. >"Queen?"
  6590. >thats manos' voice!
  6591. >you gulp slightly and your voice starts to waver as you respond to him
  6592. "y-yes?"
  6593. >his voice is even and calm, almost disturbingly so.
  6594. >"are you in control of the hive that's growing in my old home?"
  6595. >you feel your heart sink and you start to panic
  6596. "no! i swear im not!"
  6597. >why are you doing this now?
  6598. "i had no idea that hive was there until i was locked up!"
  6599. >his voice gets more assertive and angered
  6600. >"i know they need a queen to operate and organize so effectively, i also know they have a connection to you since they are from your previous queen, so ill ask again. are you lying to me?"
  6601. >...
  6602. >"queenie?"
  6603. >he called you queenie.
  6604. >you sigh and tell him the truth
  6605. "they are under my command..."
  6606. >"how do i know you aren't lying to me now then?"
  6607. >thats a good question.
  6608. >you have already lost his trust and the trust of the only ponies you know
  6609. >you have nobody... you're alone.
  6610. "you dont"
  6611. >"then ill test you"
  6612. >a test? how is he planning on testing you? how will you know what to do? what if you fail?!
  6613. >"anything?"
  6614. >no, there was nothing! did you miss it?!
  6615. >your wings buzz slightly in panic
  6616. "no, what am i supposed to be looking for--"
  6617. >suddenly hundreds of your drones are in panic
  6618. >they are screaming and looking for something
  6619. >you start to stand up, but the two ponies take a step forward making you sit back down
  6620. "what did you just do?!"
  6621. >there is a soft chuckle from manos
  6622. >"congratulations queenie, you passed. please hand the crystal back to cadence"
  6623. >what did he do though? has he hurt them? you want to know for sure
  6624. "but i-"
  6625. >"NOW!"
  6626. >you drop the shiny rock in your panic and push yourself back to the wall
  6627. >you watch as the rock gets lifted by Cadences magic
  6628. >>"manos?"
  6629. >you cant hear whats being said but there are a few nods from cadence and she never takes her eyes off of you
  6630. >then suddenly the voice is loud enough for you to hear it
  6631. >"alright Queenie im going to open that door. and here is the real kicker. if i or any of the others with me even get a scratch on us. you're going to die."
  6632. >die..
  6633. >you look up at cadence and a smile crosses her face
  6634. >you know she wouldnt mind putting you in one of the camps
  6635. >you know what you are to her.
  6636. "i understand. you wont be hurt. i promise"
  6637. >before you even finish speaking you are giving orders to your drones
  6638. >you tell them not to panic just watch those who are going to enter
  6639. >and if the tall one speaks. listen to him
  6640. >"good girl. ill be seeing you when i get back"
  6641. >Cadence takes the crystal back and places it in her front pocket
  6642. >the two of you and the other guards all take a seat and wait.
  6643. >you all listen to the voices in the crystal for any signs of assault
  6644. >Cadence makes sure to keep a close eye on you
  6645. >"if ANYTHING so much as scratches manos. ill rip you apart myself"
  6646. >your wings involuntarily buzz and you give a quick chirp
  6647. >if cadence doesnt speak changeling. but you are pretty sure she understands what a fear reaction is
  6648. "h-he will be fine. i promise."
  6649. >your eyes move to the floor
  6650. "i wouldnt hurt manos, hes all i really have besides you.."
  6651. >"nice way of showing you care by betraying us.."
  6652. >you feel a tear come to your eye
  6653. >that really hurt..
  6654. >you were just doing what you thought was best
  6655. >there is suddenly a loud Bang from the crystal
  6656. >the guards in the room get back on edge and draw their weapons
  6657. "I-I-nothing happened! i swear!"
  6658. >Cadences horn glows and you can see and feel her anger
  6659. >the moments following feel like a lifetime, and for you it nearly was
  6660. >Cadence is close enough to you now that you can hear manos' voice
  6661. >>"this is a interesting discovery. perhaps cheap new armor?"
  6662. >you release a breath you didnt even realize you held
  6663. >>"lets go. leave them here for now. they wont be going anywhere"
  6664. >your eyes keep moving from Cadence to the shiny rock and back again
  6665. >did.. did you pass?
  6666.  
  6667. >you are Manos
  6668. >the door has closed and begun to seal itself shut
  6669. >as it closes you turn to your ponies
  6670. "alright everyone. let head back to our Hands, then to the Reich. we have killed two birds with one stone today."
  6671. >everyone starts to walk down the halls away from you still checking for anything that might cause you harm
  6672. >speaking of harm.
  6673. >you pull the collar of your uniform back a bit to examine the cloth napkin you have used as a makeshift bandage
  6674. >its not really a 'bandage' its more like a wad of cloth on a wound, which is what it is.
  6675. >the blood on it has started to dry along the edges but the center still is bright
  6676. >and the hole in your chest is still there, though slightly smaller than before
  6677. >if you hadn't seen all this happening a long time ago. you would have panicked when sombra attacked you.
  6678. >but you saw his whole life from its dull beginning, to its end.
  6679. >and end you were more than willing to grant him.
  6680. >"Manos? are you alright?"
  6681. >you place the cloth back in the wound and continue on
  6682. "yes sorry, just had to keep an eye on a little scratch i received. i dont want to have too many stains on my uniform"
  6683.  
  6684. >you are Cadence
  6685. >you look at queenie as she huddles in fear in of you
  6686. >you cant believe you started to trust her.
  6687. "why would you betray everything we are working towards?"
  6688. >queenie just sits there quietly
  6689. >a few small chirps and buzzing is all the noise she makes
  6690. "you were the only changeling i thought i could trust, and then i hear you are making a hive?! why!"
  6691. >the queen lifts her hoof to her face to wipe a tear away
  6692. >you almost start to tear up but you fight it back
  6693. >you dont waste tears on bugs..
  6694. >"i just thought if i helped you then you would give me a chance to make a better kind of changeling. a civil one, that wouldnt be like the monsters you have had to deal with."
  6695. >you feel a lump in your chest, besides Honor Bound and Manos, Queenie has been the only other, creature, you have got to know.
  6696. >and whether you wanted it to happen or not you have grown attached to her
  6697. >you look away from her and whisper to yourself
  6698. "attachments can be removed if they must."
  6699. >but you wont do it unless manos orders you to.
  6700. >or unless she trys to harm him.
  6701. "ill be back to check up on you."
  6702. >you turn away and walk out of her cell. the two guards locking the restraints on her before leaving
  6703.  
  6704. >you are Manos
  6705. >after a long tiring walk through the forest you return to the rear line of the Black Hands
  6706. >most have started to continue the movement back to the Reich but you still have plenty here for a decent defensive line
  6707. "Aryanne, Blackout. take the others and get some rest. we will be moving out soon and you will need the energy"
  6708. >as you give the command for a short break to your guard one of the few remaining commanders approaches you
  6709. >"lord everything is set. should we begin?"
  6710. >you nod and he escorts you to the top of a nearby hill
  6711. >looking out over the gathered unicorns you take a deep breath
  6712. "my ponies. we fought long and hard for this city. and in the end we gain possession of it"
  6713. >the unicorns remain silent, some might have and idea that this isnt a congratulations speech
  6714. >they wouldnt have been ordered into their squads if it was
  6715. "but unfortunately we wont be able to restore it to its former glory. and ill be damned to an eternity on the moon before i see it lost again!"
  6716. >its slowly becoming more and more clear to the ponies what you are going to ask them to do
  6717. "i know this is home to many of you. and to be honest. its home to me as well."
  6718. >you turn around to the city in the distance
  6719. "this is where i met you ponies. this is where i met Lyra, Copper, Blackout, and... and bonbon.."
  6720. >you hear a few voices from behind you shout
  6721. >"she awaits us as the gatekeeper! she will judge us in Valhalla!"
  6722. >you feel a tear run down your face, Lyra must have been speaking to ponies again.
  6723. "Lyra.. i hope thats true"
  6724. >you wipe the small tear and turn back
  6725. "that she will. and this was her home too. a home she fought hard for, going as far to die for what SHE wanted. and what she wanted was Ponyville to be out of Royalist control. and we will give Bonbon that gift!"
  6726. >"seig heil! Heil the Reich"
  6727. >you look to your Unicorn commander and nod
  6728. >he steps forward and in a strong determined voice he gives the order
  6729. >"Form bombardment squads, and ready your spells!"
  6730. >you watch as the ponies get into their positions
  6731. >a few are a little hesitant but do so none the less
  6732. >"ready spells, prepare to let them loose!"
  6733. >combined impact spells start to form above the squads
  6734. >they hold letting the spells magic build up and increase their power
  6735. >"fire!"
  6736. >the sound of the spells being cast is similar to that of a loud gust of wind
  6737. >the spells take to the sky arching towards the city
  6738. >you watch as they make impact.
  6739. >large buildings start to crumble and sway, dust and debris fly up into the sky
  6740. >the ponies who decided to stay in the city decided their fate.
  6741. >you had told them before you left it was their choice to stay
  6742. >fate doesnt feel guilt for his actions. Fate has the last say.
  6743. >a second barrage makes impact on the city
  6744. >a whole block is completely leveled nothing remains there
  6745. >you take a moment to close your eyes and get a close up look at the destruction
  6746. >you feel yourself leave your body as the world around you freezes
  6747. >inside the destruction you see small groups of griffons that remained undetected by your hands
  6748. >there are buildings that were still occupied by royal guards
  6749. >and there were families trying desperately to escape the fighting
  6750. >all of them were now buried in rubble and dust
  6751. >you open your eyes again, the world returning to its normal state
  6752. >you continue to watch as your unicorns continue their barrage
  6753. "i will leave nothing for the sisters, when they come to salvage the city, they will find nothing but rubble and ash.."
  6754.  
  6755. >you are Rainbow Dash
  6756. >Manos gave you and the others orders to rest
  6757. >and you intend to follow that order
  6758. >laying down on a small bedroll you relax and stretch your wings
  6759. >nothing beats a nap.
  6760. >but just before you are sent off to dreamland there are a few thumps in the distance
  6761. >you lift your head and look around but you cant see whats causing it.
  6762. "it must be something outside..."
  6763. >with all the strength you can muster you force yourself out of the nice soft bedroll and out of the makeshift shelter
  6764. >you look up and see large impact spells flying to ponyville
  6765. "whats going on?!"
  6766. >following the trail they left behind you see Manos standing on a hill with a few other ponies
  6767. >there must be more behind it since there are so many spells in the air
  6768. >you hear more of the thumps which you now realize are the spells making impact
  6769. >each one lands on ponyville shaking the very buildings to the ground
  6770. "manos! what are you doing?!"
  6771. >he cant hear you from here. the spells are being cast from right behind him
  6772. >you rush towards him until you are close enough for him to hear you
  6773. "MANOS! whats going on?!"
  6774. >Manos turns his head to you and motions for you to stand next to him
  6775. >you begin your walk up the rest of the hill until you are by his side
  6776. >his face and uniform seem to be illuminated by the light of the magic behind him
  6777. >"im saying my goodbyes dash.. would you care to join me?"
  6778. "why are you destroying ponyville? thats our home manos!"
  6779. >he breathes a deep sigh and sits down next to you
  6780. >the city has started to fall even further and small fires have broken out
  6781. >soon the city is glowing in the distance
  6782. >it reminds you of a setting sun, the color of the flames mixing with those of the spells impacts
  6783. >"it was our home rainbow. but it was too far gone. it would have been too costly to rebuild, and with the royal guard attacking.."
  6784. >wait hold on a second
  6785. "the royal guard attacked us?!"
  6786. >Manos just nods continues
  6787. >"we wouldnt have been able to safely repair it.. im afraid this was our only option."
  6788. >you watch ponyville, your home slowly burn and break.
  6789. "was there really nothing else we could do?.."
  6790. >Manos' voice is calm and almost soothing tone
  6791. >he turns to look to you his face glowing in the light of the magic being cast
  6792. >you see the burn on his face a mark of constant pain... and the look in his eyes matching what his scar already shows
  6793. >"not until this war is over.. not until we have united as one country again.."
  6794. >you look at your home and the home of your friends
  6795. >you can feel your wings drooping and your heart get tight
  6796. "i promise manos.. ill do everything i can to make that happen."
  6797. >you feel a soft motion along the top of your head down to the back of your neck
  6798. >manos slowly pets you as the two of you sit on the hill
  6799. >"I know you will... Commander."
  6800.  
  6801. >you are Honor Bound
  6802. >the ponies in your new armor have just returned.
  6803. >wait a minute..
  6804. >one, two, three, four...
  6805. "where is my other suit? Field Day?"
  6806. >"we lost one of our operators during the mission."
  6807. "would you like to explain to me how you ended up losing a operative?"
  6808. >Field day takes a step back as he finishes removing the armor
  6809. >"we were ambushed and there was a bit of friendly fire. they survived and carried on with the mission"
  6810. >you watch him waiting for further explanation
  6811. >the other operators finish removing their armor
  6812. "Roselight. would you care to explain?"
  6813. >your sister removes her helmet her golden coat and skyblue eyes look over to you
  6814. >"Op 3 got our friend wasted. he paniced during a fight and shot his armor up and one of the legs malfunctioned"
  6815. "is that so?"
  6816. >you look over to the accused operator
  6817. >>"uh.. it was an accident?"
  6818. "i expect the armor was dealt with properly?"
  6819. >"Field day took care of it. the suit was removed"
  6820. "you are all dismissed. i expect a full written report soon."
  6821. >all the remaining operators besides your sister leave the room
  6822. "how does it handle?"
  6823. >"the armor is flexible but a little slow to respond. the weapons fire at a high rate but are prone to jamming."
  6824. >she gives you a slight glare
  6825. >"that would have been nice to know before going into the field"
  6826. >you ignore her attitude and inspect the remaining suits
  6827. "and it would have been nice to have more competent ponies"
  6828. >"all of Manos' children are chosen for a reason. fate will choose who we are given brother."
  6829. >you look over your shoulder to her
  6830. "dont forget dear sister. im the one who gave you this chance. and i am the one who taught you of manos"
  6831. >she huffs and changes into her black hands uniform
  6832. >"it doesnt matter who knew of him first brother. only who will follow him the longest. his light will never be extinguished if i can help it"
  6833.  
  6834. >you are Roselight
  6835. >sister to Honor Bound
  6836. >you were never appreciated in the family like Honor was, probably because you weren't a unicorn
  6837. >both of your parents were unicorns, same with every other member of your family
  6838. >though your mother denied it your father accused her of cheating and left her
  6839. >your family was split that day, you and Honor were the two children caught in the middle
  6840. >both families wanted him and cared nothing for you.
  6841. >you were seen as the reason for the split...
  6842. >your crime was just being born. a crime you take no shame in being guilty of.
  6843. >eventually Honor chose what family to live with, but his only condition was you were to be kept too
  6844. >you were always grateful for that. even if no one else cared your brother was there to watch out for you.
  6845. >while you both were grown you still watched over each other. then Manos came, and Honor was gone.
  6846. >you thought he abandoned you too, until he came back one day in a brand new uniform.
  6847. >once he told you of Manos and his plans for a better future you had to sign up.
  6848. >you were in canterlot when manos was freed from jail
  6849. >you were at the party in the main hall when manos came back from the dead
  6850. >you were in Ardennes. you saw how manos was able to defeat a legion with a few hundred.
  6851. >you have seen what other ponies ignore. you have seen his light when Lyra would preach in the cathedral
  6852. >Manos is your reason to exist.
  6853. >you bow your head to a small statue of manos you have over your desk in your room
  6854. >holding a mark of manos necklace in your hooves you start to pray.
  6855. "we are his children of fate, we are his faithful hands. he will lead us to the glorious place that is valhalla where our brothers and sisters await us with open arms. we are his sword when he needs to strike. we are his shield when he needs protection. heil manos. heil the Reich"
  6856.  
  6857. >you are manos
  6858. >the travel back was a very quiet one
  6859. >the troops remain silent as they march on, the only sound heard is the sound of their hoofsteps and the engines of our tanks
  6860. >your guardponies ride along the sides of the tanks while you continue on
  6861. >"manos"
  6862. >you look behind you to Rainbow Dash who is riding on the same tank as you
  6863. >"do you think my friends made it out ok?"
  6864. >honestly thats something you never thought about until now
  6865. >they could very well be dead in that pile of rubble.
  6866. >but you didnt see them anywhere. even when you watched as the city fell to the earth
  6867. "Commander Dash. i believe they made it out."
  6868. >Rainbow nods a bit, the thought of ponyville being destroyed still fresh in her mind
  6869. "remember rainbow, i am the one who decides ponies destiny, they are fine"
  6870. >you dont expect that to cheer her up. but its better than nothing
  6871. >you look to your driver
  6872. "how much further until the Reich will be in sight?"
  6873. >"lord, the Reich should be coming into view relatively soon the others should have already made it back and gave word to expect us."
  6874. "good. i expect everyone will want some rest."
  6875. >you happen to look to the forest as you ride on
  6876. >everything looks so peaceful, so at ease in the darkness.
  6877. >you smile as the small woodland as you pass on by
  6878. >just as you start to look away you see figures in the woods start to move
  6879. >one stops and looks in your direction, its yellow eyes looking at you with mild interest
  6880. "timberwolves."
  6881. >unless they are desperate for food or just stupid they wouldn't get any closer to your convoy
  6882. >"what was that sir?"
  6883. "timberwolves, in the small woodland to our left. nothing to worry about"
  6884. >the pony tank commander pokes his head out of the top and looks into the woods
  6885. >"if you say so sir."
  6886. "dont worry, they understand that we are more dangerous then they are, they will keep their distance"
  6887. >there is a howl from the woods and the pony commander takes a breath
  6888. >"if you say so sir"
  6889. >you watch the wolves as you ride on to the Reich
  6890. >the large gates of the Reich are a welcoming sight
  6891. >large red banners hang off the walls light a large beacon of hope for those who wish for a brighter future
  6892. "we made it back, they should be waiting for us inside, alright hands, secure a perimeter around the prisoners, i dont want them trying to get away in the streets"
  6893. >"yes sir! you heard him, get those rope warmers secured"
  6894. >the convoy slows down as you get within a reasonable distance to the main gates
  6895. >you stand up and hold your hand high in a Sieg Heil and you look to the gate keepers
  6896. >they return the sign and immediately begin opening the doors
  6897. >the sounds of the large cranks are absent however. the gates still open in a smooth motion
  6898. "wonder what they have been doing since i have been away"
  6899. >once the gate has opened enough you and your convoy enter
  6900. >black hands have lined up down the main street in clean ornate uniforms
  6901. >as you start to pass by they all give a sieg heil
  6902. >you ride in returning the gesture to the Hands and the crowd of ponies that have gathered to welcome you back
  6903. >your guards have surrounded the tank and walk along side Blackout taking the lead
  6904. >this is one of the first times your citizens have seen operational engine powered tanks
  6905. >each tank commander pokes their head out of the top as they roll inside
  6906. >and the prisoners of war stand almost awestruck at the masses and organized guards
  6907. >for them this is the first time they have laid eyes on the Reich and its ponies
  6908. >unfortunately for them the citizens are not as welcoming to them as they are for you and the hands
  6909. >whenever you see the prisoners walk by a group of cheering citizens their cheers turn to shouts
  6910. >occasionally a pony or two might get close enough to throw an odd object or two at them before being pulled back
  6911. >you turn yourself around to the prisoners behind you to address them yourself
  6912. "this is what you were fighting against! you are fighting progress and order! now you will have to accept the consequences"
  6913. "hold here! hold!"
  6914. >the small impromptu parade slows to a stop and the prisoners all look up to you
  6915. >perhaps they finally understand what they fought against. or perhaps they regret being cowards who surrendered
  6916. "in case you dont know who i am. i am Manos, once a citizen of equestria and a protector of her people. but not anymore. now i have my own people to protect! i have my own nation to care for and grow. one that you and your leaders fail to care for or even acknowledge.. do you doubt my words? how many of you even have heard of our Reich?"
  6917. >the prisoners mumble quietly or remain silent not one of them able to speak up
  6918. >the silence is seen as insulting to the crowd enticing boos and various insults to the Royalist ponies
  6919. >once you think they have has enough ridicule you raise your hand to silence your ponies
  6920. >then you point to a pony at random
  6921. "you there.. tell me, where are we?"
  6922. >the pony looks around to the others they all just look back worried
  6923. "well? where are we?"
  6924. >"uh.. we are.. in the crystal empire?"
  6925. >you smile and look to your hands then to the crowds
  6926. "he doesnt listen well does he?"
  6927. >the ponies laugh at your remark
  6928. "my ponies. tell me, where are we?"
  6929. >"the Reich! Seig Heil! Heil the Reich!"
  6930. >you nod your head and smile
  6931. "we are at the start of a new world. one of order and peace."
  6932. >you look to your hands guarding the ponies
  6933. "take them to their new accommodations."
  6934. >you dismount the tank and walk in front of the convoy
  6935. >you have a little bug and pink princess to talk to
  6936.  
  6937. >you are Queenie
  6938. >you remain in your cell waiting for something to happen
  6939. >you havent been communicating with any of your 'children' since you have been in here
  6940. >and they have been mysteriously quiet since Cadence left the room
  6941. >with nothing to do you take the time to make sure your wings are clean while you wait
  6942. >just as you start to clean them the door in front of you opens
  6943. >you sit up straight and look to the door as two ponies with black helmets and uniforms walk inside
  6944. >"against the wall bug"
  6945. >you back up against the wall as instructed as Manos steps inside
  6946. >another pony brings in a chair setting it down in the room
  6947. >Manos motions for the ponies to leave
  6948. >"leave us please."
  6949. >>"are you sure lord? if we are outside then-"
  6950. >"ill be fine. tell cadence to meet me here."
  6951. >the guards look to each other for a moment before eventually leaving
  6952. >manos takes a seat on his chair leaning forward in your direction
  6953. >"so.. we need to talk."
  6954. >your wings buzz for a second
  6955. "manos.. im sorry for what i did, i didnt think it would be as serious as it turned out. i just thought-"
  6956. >manos interrupts you
  6957. >"i understand what you thought you were doing. its natural. you wanted to preserve your own existence."
  6958. "you.. you knew?"
  6959. >"not so much as knew, more like, i expected it. just i didnt expect it to be so well hidden."
  6960. >does that mean he isnt mad?
  6961. >he seemed really mad before..
  6962. "are you mad?"
  6963. >manos laughs quietly to himself, and wipes a bit of sweat from his face
  6964. >he must have got back recently
  6965. >"im furious..."
  6966. >manos lurches forward and grabs you firmly
  6967. >you panic as he holds you in his grip but you dont make any action to prevent his fury
  6968. >but surprisingly his grip relaxes and he pets your head before walking back to his chair
  6969. >"but, im not a bad person, and i wont punish you too severely for just trying to survive"
  6970. >you smile at manos
  6971. >you are lucky to have him in charge
  6972. >at least he understands you
  6973. >the door behind manos opens again
  6974. >this time its Cadence behind him, she walks in and stands next to manos
  6975. >"glad you could make it Cadence. miss me?"
  6976. >she takes a seat rather close to him. and smiles a warm smile as she speaks
  6977. >>"of course i did. we havnt spent much time together since this whole incident in ponyville started"
  6978. >incident?.. and where is ponyville?..
  6979. >you dont know much but since they are both in here talking to you, it was probably your fault or had something to do with what you did
  6980. >perhaps thats why Cadence was so much angrier than manos seemed to be.
  6981. >you kept them away from each other..
  6982. >after a quick moment of the two talking they focus back on you
  6983. >>"so.. what are we going to do with this traitor?"
  6984. >you dont need to be looking at cadence to feel her eyes burning a hole into you
  6985. >you do your best to look to manos and keep Cadence out of your vision
  6986. "manos.. im really sorry, you know i didnt mean to do anything to upset you."
  6987. >you accidentally chirp after speaking
  6988. >why are you suddenly acting so strange?
  6989. >Manos continues to look at you and he takes a deep breath
  6990. >"despite her actions, as negligent as they were.. she had led to a recent discovery that in the end will benefit us"
  6991. >>"what do you mean? what did you discover?"
  6992. >"while i was in her little hive i found out that Changelings make a very lightweight and sturdy material"
  6993. >manos reaches forward and taps your carapace
  6994. >"much like their hardened skin. to build their hive structures"
  6995. >manos looks from you to cadence
  6996. >"copper must have already had an idea of this since one of his experiments was infusing their natural armor into that of a pony who i shall not name."
  6997. >>"and you intend to harvest this resource. dont you?"
  6998. >manos starts to pet Cadence and she starts to lean into it
  6999. >ponies must really enjoy being pet.
  7000. >"yes. i do. but for them to make it, at least properly, they need a queens instruction."
  7001.  
  7002. >you are manos
  7003. >and you are playing a game with the ponies in this room
  7004. >in this game you have two objectives, objective one; get control of queenie, she can still be useful in several ways.
  7005. >and objective two; convince Cadence keeping her alive is a good idea
  7006. >knowing her she has already threatened to kill Queenie and would gladly do so
  7007. >the only way you can win this game is if both objectives have been met.
  7008. >"so, you're going to let me live right?"
  7009. >instead of answering her you look to Cadence, who is thoroughly enjoying the attention you are giving her
  7010. "that was my intention."
  7011. >you give Queenie a small smile before looking to your little pink pony
  7012. "what do you think girly? does queenie deserve another chance?"
  7013. >you stop petting her long enough so that she can focus
  7014. >she remains quiet for a good amount of time, most of it she is looking at Queenie with a conflicted expression
  7015. >you can tell she wants to just be done with her, but something is keeping her from just giving the order.
  7016. >though what it is you're not sure, but you hope its the attention you have been giving her.
  7017. >"one more chance.."
  7018. >Queenie smiles wide and her wings buzz a little
  7019. >"but! if you do something like this again without manos or I knowing--"
  7020. >you stand up and start to leave the room
  7021. "yes yes, she will be in the camps like the rest of them. guards. release the queen"
  7022. >the guards soon enter the room and remove the restraints from queeie
  7023. >Cadence never takes her eyes off of her
  7024. "Cadence, Queen, lets go for a short walk. there are some ponies id like you to meet."
  7025. >ponies who have lots of new information to hear.
  7026. >information they would probably give freely.. to a princess.
  7027. >as you walk down the hall nearing the end of the labs a thought crosses your mind
  7028. >ponies dont know about the queen. only those in the camp and the lab do.
  7029. >her identity being discovered to early could backfire and ruin everything
  7030. >oh wait, shes a changeling she can just change into something else
  7031. "Queenie, its best if you put on a disguise before we leave."
  7032.  
  7033. >you are Queenie
  7034. >a disguise?
  7035. >you must being going somewhere outside the labs or camps
  7036. >this is really exciting! you have never seen any of the world besides those two places
  7037. >you try to calm yourself down from the sudden rush of excitement
  7038. >"well? going to get into one?"
  7039. >you see manos and Cadence waiting for you by the door
  7040. "yes, right a disguise. just a quick second."
  7041. >manos and cadence wait for a moment before turning back to the door
  7042. >"Cadence and i will be waiting outside, try not to take too long."
  7043. >>"and if you try to run away.. you know what will happen"
  7044. "yes, i know, dont worry just give me a second."
  7045. >you've never had to put on a disguise before
  7046. >you dont even know how the drones do it!
  7047. >think, queenie think!
  7048. >you concentrate on the form of a pony
  7049. "i can do this!"
  7050. >with a bit more thought you feel yourself burst into a small green flame
  7051. >you did it!
  7052. >and you look perfectly disguised!
  7053. >you smile, proud of yourself as you walk out the door to meet manos and Cadence
  7054. >nopony will be able to tell you are a changeling now.
  7055.  
  7056. >you are manos
  7057. >as you wait for Queenie you share your plan with Cadence and then tell her of Ponyville
  7058. "the city was evacuated. everyone considered a citizen of our Reich is now here."
  7059. >"and what about the city? are you letting my Aunts have it?"
  7060. "no, the city will not fall into their hands-- or hooves rather. its nothing but dust and rubble now."
  7061. >shes shocked at your words
  7062. >"Manos, why did you destroy the city? that was your home.."
  7063. "i know that, and it was the home of many others, and none of them would want it to fall to the royals, i did what i had to do. even if i regret it"
  7064. >Cadence is about to speak again but the door behind you opens
  7065. >oh my god..
  7066.  
  7067. >you are Queenie
  7068. >and you are ready to go
  7069. "alright, hows this?"
  7070. >you look over your work, and to be honest it looks really good for a first time disguise
  7071. >Manos looks at you, probably amazed at how well you did for not doing this before
  7072. >then you look to Cadence, her reaction is more surprising
  7073. >shes jaw dropped
  7074. >>"WHY!?"
  7075. "why? why what? i thought i was supposed to be in disguise? should i not be?"
  7076. >out of habit you try to buzz your wings but instead they flap and take you off the ground slightly
  7077. >you stop yourself and come back to the ground
  7078. >its a good thing you have pink fur now, otherwise they might see you blush from your mistake
  7079. >>"no i mean why did you disguise yourself as me!?"
  7080. "is that bad?"
  7081. >Manos laughs and starts to walk away
  7082. >you start to follow him before Cadence blocks your path
  7083. >she gives you a stern look
  7084. >>"No you change to somepony else now!"
  7085. "I'm not sure if i can.. it took a lot of concentration just to get this right."
  7086. >Cadence huffs and starts to walk on
  7087. >>"fine but just.. just put on a lab coat or something!.. and next time take off a few pounds! im not that fat."
  7088.  
  7089. >you are manos
  7090. >and you were not expecting to see her come out as Cadence.
  7091. >while it was funny to see, it will obviously cause a problem if people see two of her.
  7092. "Come on Cadences. we have somewhere to be."
  7093. >it should be rather easy enough to tell them apart
  7094. >the two approach you one in her regular Black hands uniform
  7095. >and one in a lab coat that isnt quite the right size.
  7096. >it might be the wings being stuck underneath the coat making it look small.
  7097. >but its still obviously the same ponies to onlookers
  7098. "well we will have to cross that obstacle when we come to it. come on."
  7099. >you and the Cadences make your way to the castle entrance
  7100. >as soon as you are inside you are greeted by the Gestapo.
  7101. >well.. to be more precise the heads of your gestapo.
  7102. >"hello manos, its been a while since we had the pleasure~ of your company"
  7103. >the Shine sisters, Emerald and Sapphire approach you all to happy to get more than a little inside your personal space
  7104. >>"its been too long, perhaps you wouldnt mind having dinner with us? we still owe you for the one you gave us."
  7105. "not right now, i have some important business to take care of with the new arrivals"
  7106. >"oh you mean those prisoners, dont worry, we can take care of them if you like..."
  7107. >>"we are more than capable of getting any information you need out of--"
  7108. >Emerald stops her rant suddenly
  7109. >>"Sapphire.. am i going crazy?"
  7110. >Sapphire pokes her head around you to see what her sister is looking at
  7111. >"unless we both are going crazy.. are you seeing two of Cadence?"
  7112. >great...
  7113.  
  7114. >You are Cadence
  7115. >you grit your teeth as you watch as the two mares ogle and rub on manos, under the guise of 'business'
  7116. >every time they get near him you get more and more angry about it
  7117. >Queenie looking like you isn't helping your temper much either.
  7118. >>"Sapphire.. am i going crazy?"
  7119. >Sapphire pokes her head around manos' legs to see you and Queenie standing there
  7120. >>"unless we both are going crazy.. are you seeing two of Cadence?"
  7121. >well they are not going to get away with flirting with manos in front of you.
  7122. >you give a harsh whisper to queenie
  7123. "come on!"
  7124. >you start to walk over to Manos' side and 'gently nudge' Emerald out of the way
  7125. >that felt good.
  7126. >Queenie just walks up to the other side of manos, looking around at the room and the two sisters, not knowing whats going on
  7127. >Luckily manos has an explanation
  7128. >"dont worry about it. just a little experiment. ill be sure to tell you about it later. but right now i have to speak with our guests."
  7129. >manos starts to walk on to the dungeons Queenie following right behind him
  7130. >a little something comes to your mind as you start to walk away from the sisters
  7131. >you look back with a mock smile
  7132. "why would he want you, when he now has two?"
  7133. >you flick your tail at them as you walk to catch up to manos
  7134. >its amazing what a little bit of payback can do
  7135. >that little comeback made today almost worth the trouble
  7136. >you quickly catch up to manos and take your place beside him as he continues on
  7137. >Queenie just looks around at all the banners, paintings, busts, and other ornaments in the halls
  7138. >this is really her first time seeing anything besides the labs and the Camps as far as you know
  7139. >you quickly turn your attention back to manos, you give a slight cough to get his attention
  7140. "uhm, manos. i was hoping, now that youre back and we have a little bit of time.. do you think we could spend some time together? you know. just us?"
  7141. >you worry about his silence
  7142. >does he have no interest in you anymore? did those sisters already get him?
  7143. >you feel his warm hand rub the back of your neck
  7144. >"sure thing, im sure i can find some spare time, but this has to come first."
  7145. "of course! of course. i understand that, i just missed you.. a lot."
  7146. >"i know."
  7147. >by now the three of you are at the castles entrance to the dungeons
  7148. >of course the prisoners wouldnt have been brought this way, they would have been taken in through the guards entrance.
  7149. >the guards on duty snap to attention as they see you and manos approach... and you..
  7150. >>"heil manos!"
  7151. >you return the heil as does manos
  7152. >queenie on the otherhoof takes a bit longer to catch on, but eventually does the same
  7153. >>"lord manos.. you do realize that.. there are two Cadences with you right?"
  7154. >"yes i am well aware.. it doesnt take a genius to figure it out. this is an experiment. top secret. i expect you to not inform anyone of this."
  7155. >>"of course sir! we are your faithful hands."
  7156. >the guards step aside and open the large doors to the dungeon
  7157. >cold air escapes from below giving you a chill.
  7158. >you have never been down there before. but you assume little has been changed or improved inside since before Sombras time
  7159. >Manos enters inside his boots making contact with the cold stone
  7160. >the sound of his footsteps echo throughout the cold silent dungeon
  7161. >Queenie continues on, still just happy to be seeing new things
  7162. >ignorance must be bliss.
  7163.  
  7164. >you are manos
  7165. >ah now this is a prison.
  7166. >the damp air and wet stone leave you feeling chilled and rather refreshed.
  7167. "you know, if i had to decide between being held here and in canterlot again.. id probably pick canterlot."
  7168. >you make sure your voice is loud enough for both your double Cadences and the ponies in the dungeon to hear you
  7169. "this place sucks the life out of you, it was made to break ponies without any outside influences. something Sombra was definitely knowledgeable of"
  7170. >a few guards are all thats needed to keep this place secure
  7171. >there are many stairways leading up and down to rows and rows of cells.
  7172. >at the bottom of the dungeon is what looks to be a large pit that goes on into nothingness
  7173. >that must be some sort of persistent magic sombra used, it definitely fits.
  7174. >you start to walk to the middle floor where a stone bridge extends across the pit with a small circle in the center where all cells can see you.
  7175. >even the ones below would at least be able to see some part of whoever is speaking
  7176. >thats where you stop and look to your captives with a smile on your face
  7177. "welcome to your new home!"
  7178. >Cadence and Queenie remain below just out of sight for now
  7179. >you slowly start to pace around your little 'stage'
  7180. "you are here.. because each and every single one of you, have committed crimes against our nation."
  7181. >your footsteps, and an occasional drip of water are the only noise besides your voice
  7182. "here, you are to be under guard. at all times. you will eat, what we feed you, and drink, what we tell you. you dont get options, you dont get free time, you dont get rights.."
  7183. >you see one of the guards already sitting on their wood benches that also serve as beds
  7184. "here, i decide who will live and who will die."
  7185. >you pause for a moment letting your words sink in
  7186. "no one is coming for you. my intelligence gatherers have already informed me, that Celestia was told you were and i quote, 'wiped out'.. to her, and the rest of the world, you are already dead."
  7187. >you motion for the Cadence in her Black Hands uniform to come to your side.
  7188. >Queenie remains sitting just out of sight
  7189. >once Cadence comes into view you hear a few various reactions.
  7190. >some are shocked that she is one of your ponies, others sulk, reminded that even a princess was willing to join you.
  7191. >but she has done so much more than simply follow you.
  7192. >she stands looking to all the ponies in their cells, the guards on duty all giving her a salute.
  7193. "Cadence here.. is perhaps your only hope of getting back home."
  7194. >you place your hand on the back of her neck.
  7195. "with a simple letter Celestia and Luna would be aware of your situation and im sure they would offer us some deal for the safe return of her guards."
  7196. >Cadence interrupts your little speech, already knowing where its leading
  7197. >"But. we need something in return. each and every one of you knows something about Canterlot, the guard, or perhaps even about my aunts. if you all share this information, without a fuss, then that letter will be sent out much quicker.."
  7198. "now, see isnt that a fair trade? you already have your tickets home! you just need to turn them in."
  7199. >a voice rings out, though hard to place the area it originated from in clear.
  7200. >"and what if we refuse to tell you anything?!"
  7201. >you turn to the direction of the voice
  7202. "oh you will. if i wanted to, i could simply walk through the cells one by one and get everything i need from you without saying a word. or, i could let some of my friends come in and have a private chat with each of you, but id like to avoid any unnecessary harm to my guests."
  7203. >honestly you couldnt care less about what happens to these ponies.
  7204. >they chose a side, unfortunately for them. it was the wrong one.
  7205. "and im sure Cadence here wouldnt like seeing any ponies getting hurt unless they deserved it."
  7206. >you kneel down to Cadence and softly brush her mane
  7207. "right Cadence?"
  7208. >Cadence looks surprised at your sudden attention
  7209. >you talk softly so only she can hear you.
  7210. "Cadence. i need to learn as much as i can about what the royals have."
  7211. >you pull you hand back from her and continue to speak
  7212. "i understand you want to protect these ponies... im sure what you just told them must have been harder for you to do since.. well since they arnt changelings."
  7213. >you look over to Queenie sitting by herself
  7214. "but i want you to be in charge of getting any information out of them."
  7215. >"why?"
  7216. >you sigh and try to think of a good way to explain it to her
  7217. "because you care for the ponies even the ones loyal to Celestia and Luna. and because you believe in what im doing."
  7218. >"well then why dont you have the Shines get what you want out of them?"
  7219. >you smile softly at the pink pony.
  7220. "because Cadence. like i said. you care about these ponies. and you wont harm them unless its a last resort."
  7221. >Cadence looks conflicted with her options
  7222. >she agreed to do this little speech with you, but she had no idea you would put her in charge of this
  7223. >"I-im not sure manos.."
  7224. >she looks to her uniform, but you gently pick her face up to meet yours
  7225. "Cadence. please?"
  7226. >with a small sigh she brings a small smile to her face.
  7227. >"alright.. i suppose its best if someone who cares about them talks with them.."
  7228. "thank you Cadence. and i look forward to spending time with you again."
  7229. >you surprise Cadence with a kiss
  7230. >a kiss that each of the ponies in their cells could clearly see.
  7231. "ill leave this to you then."
  7232. >you stand up and begin your walk back to the entrance
  7233. >your footsteps echoing in the silence of the dungeon.
  7234. "queenie, would you come with me please?"
  7235. >the other Cadence in a lab coat quickly gets to her hooves and follows you out of the dungeon
  7236. >the guards at the door give you a sieg heil as you walk by
  7237. "tell me. right now, can you communicate with those changelings in the castle?"
  7238. >Queenie is quiet for a moment as the two of you walk down the hall but eventually responds
  7239. >"yes, its a bit harder when im in disguise. but i can."
  7240. >thats good to know.
  7241. "are they continuing to build their little hive or are they doing anything different?"
  7242. >you recall your lasts words to them were to make more of that material
  7243. >unfortunately you didnt tell them to make it easy to move. they could just be continuing to make their home there
  7244. >"well.. the seem to be doing the normal stuff they always have. but.. differently."
  7245. "different how?"
  7246. >no one questions you walking with 'Cadence' now that the two of them are separated
  7247. >besides a few looks from the guards who saw them before
  7248. >they probably wonder which one to listen to, if any.
  7249. >"they are making materials for the hive, but not. uhm.. applying it to the structure."
  7250. >well its a start.
  7251. "is it possible for you to have the Changelings here make that material? i assume its biological and made from mucus or something."
  7252. >"do.. do you want them to?"
  7253. "In fact i do. i wont tell you what for, or my reasons behind it. ill be sure to inform Cadence about the small adjustments to the labor schedules"
  7254.  
  7255. >you are Aryanne
  7256. >you are currently looking for a clean uniform to change into after your previous assignment
  7257. >Comet was a more than a little upset that he was left here when everyone else went out on a mission.
  7258. >apparently that's why he left the barracks in the first place. boredom.
  7259. >"honestly it doesn't even surprise me, i run my mouth and take a short walk and at that moment you get called out, and who do you take with you? blackout and rainbow!"
  7260. >>"well its good to see you too Comet.."
  7261. "well comet, if you still want a mission so bad, we need a shift change on Manos' room. and i think you would be a perfect fit."
  7262. >you hear Comet sigh then snap to attention
  7263. >"yes commander. anyway, it was nice seeing you again rainbow. glad to have you back"
  7264. >>"thanks, ill see you after your shift, if im still awake."
  7265. >Comet leaves the barracks leaving Almond, Cinnamon, Rainbow and you alone in peace and quiet.
  7266. >Blackout just went her own way after you got back
  7267. >where she is, is anyone's guess.
  7268. >finally picking out a clean uniform you start to change
  7269. "hey rainbow.. before we left ponyville. you left for something. what was that about?"
  7270. >Rainbow sits down on a bunk
  7271. >"when? when you guys were resting?"
  7272. "yeah, you rushed out and the next time i saw you was when we were moving out. you with manos."
  7273. >"oh.. yeah, that."
  7274. "trying to suck up to superiors rainbow?"
  7275. >you laugh a bit but rainbow just stays quiet.
  7276. >by now you have changed out of your uniform and into your new one
  7277. >you look over to see rainbow just sitting on the bed.
  7278. "well?"
  7279. >she sighs before speaking
  7280. >"i sat with manos as ponyville was destroyed.. he said we couldnt leave anything for Celestia or the guards."
  7281. "oh.. im sorry to hear that rainbow.. i didnt grow up there like you did, i can only imagine what that felt like."
  7282. >"dont worry about it. ill get over it, besides. who knows, when this is all over, we might rebuild it and make it even better."
  7283. >you give rainbow a smile
  7284. "let hope for that then, heil manos"
  7285.  
  7286. >you are a Queen
  7287. >manos is walking you around the castle, but he hasnt really told you why.
  7288. >not that you mind. in fact its quite nice being out of the labs or camps.
  7289. >everything here is so clean, and orderly.
  7290. >ponies in uniforms stand guard at almost every doorway while others in different clothes are cleaning and doing other small tasks
  7291. >do ponies have a drone class?
  7292. >you look up to manos. he has been rather quiet since he talked of the drones and the hive from before
  7293. "manos.."
  7294. >"hm?"
  7295. >you lower your voice so other ponies cant hear you
  7296. "do.. do ponies have a drone class?"
  7297. >manos makes a small snort sound followed by a bit of chuckling
  7298. >"no, not really. though i suppose if you have ponies who will do whatever you ask without thought, that might make them seem that way"
  7299. "oh. i see"
  7300. >you feel silly for asking, you should have known that ponies and changelings are two completely different beings
  7301. >"why do you ask?"
  7302. "oh well ive just only seen two or three types of ponies. the soldiers, the scientists, then these ponies here cleaning. i thought that perhaps they were drones of some kind"
  7303. >you feel manos' hand petting your head.
  7304. >that feels nice...
  7305. >"no, ponies arnt split up like that. they choose their roles in life unlike changelings"
  7306. >manos looks down to you as he continues walking you around
  7307. >"in most cases"
  7308. "what do you mean in mo--"
  7309. >"how are you enjoying the walk? i think its rather calming. gives you a chance to think"
  7310. "it is nice. i havnt seen much besides--"
  7311. >"it gives you a chance to think about ones future. and their own place in it"
  7312. >manos walks you to a final room
  7313. >standing outside of it is a group of four black hands all at attention.
  7314. >>"heil manos!"
  7315. >"heil the Reich, good to see you again Comet i trust my room is still secure?"
  7316. >>"no one has been in or out. are you and Cadence going to need privacy?"
  7317. >privacy?
  7318. >"perhaps later. when she gets here"
  7319. >>"uh.. what? sir, Cadence is right here."
  7320. >the pony gives a nod to you
  7321. >you give a uneasy smile and look back and forth between manos and the pony
  7322. >manos just tells the guards in a rather 'matter of fact'
  7323. >"thats not cadence. this is one of my.. experiments."
  7324. >the pony just looks more confused
  7325. >>"would you like to let me in on the experiment sir? you know. for old times sake?"
  7326. >"Comet, if you werent one of my personal guard i might have been insulted. but luckily you are you."
  7327. >manos turns to you.
  7328. >"alright, feel free to drop the disguise."
  7329. "are you sure?.."
  7330. >all eyes are on you.
  7331. >you feel your heart beating inside your chest
  7332. >hope manos knows what he is doing.
  7333. >in a flash of green flame you are no longer Cadence
  7334. >you keep your eyes closed worried about the ponies reaction
  7335. >>"a changeling!?"
  7336. >you flinch at the sound of swords being drawn but nothing happens
  7337. >you peek out of one eye and see manos standing between you and the ponies.
  7338. >"i told you, shes one of my experiments Comet. no please, open the door. Cadence should be along sometime later."
  7339. >there are a few more glares and other looks from the guards, but eventually they step aside and open to doors.
  7340. >manos leads you inside before taking a seat at his private desk
  7341. >"welcome to my quarters. not as big as the one in my old home.. but ive grown to like it here. please take a seat anywhere you like."
  7342. >you look around the room before just sitting on the floor.
  7343. >wonder why he brought you here.
  7344.  
  7345. >you are manos
  7346. >you watch as Queenie takes a seat on the floor.
  7347. >you look around to the chairs you have in the room before looking back to her
  7348. "now, queenie. im worried. im worried you will try something like your little hive again despite the vote of confidence i gave Cadence."
  7349. >you raise your hand as queenie opens her mouth to protest
  7350. >she closes her mouth and remains quiet on your floor, her bug wings drooping slightly
  7351. "why i believe you might do something like that is simple. you wish to survive, as all creatures do."
  7352. >you pull out your sidearm and place on the desk beside you before turning away from her to disassemble and clean it
  7353. "and the way things are currently looking, the odds for you must not seem very.. pleasant."
  7354. >after a removing a few larger parts of your sidearm you take off your gloves, revealing your hands. little scars remain where you were previously cut, although even they are slowly fading
  7355. "so, to ensure a more beneficial outcome for BOTH of us, i think we should come to some sort of arrangement that will greatly increase your survival chances in the future."
  7356. >"what do you mean? what kind of arrangement?"
  7357. >you hear a faint buzzing of her wings as she talks
  7358. >wonder if that has to do with how changelings communicate?
  7359. "Changelings have a few natural advantages to ponies, one being numbers, and the other being natural stealth."
  7360. >you start to clean the barrel of your gun and turn back to her
  7361. "example: you were never taught how to change yourself. but you naturally knew you could and thus did."
  7362. >she slightly turns her head indicating she is at least curious to see where this is going.
  7363. "to recap you are excellent at hiding in plain sight, and you are excellent hunters."
  7364. >you set down the now clean piece on the desk
  7365. "perhaps.. a select few could be used for the Reichs more, covert needs."
  7366. >"i uhm.. i could see that yes. but what about the ponies? they hate us. and to be honest, im not quite sure i like changelings either. and i AM one."
  7367. "that is true. the ponies of the Reich and most of the world hate changelings. but, what if. the one group who is seen as actively removing a threat of your species caliber is also protecting you?"
  7368. >you smile and walk over to a chest
  7369. "at least.. for a price."
  7370. >you wave Queenie over to you
  7371. >she gets to her hooves and walks to you and the chest
  7372. "i am searching for a select group of items.. six items to be exact. of which i already have three."
  7373. >queenie watches as you move your hands around the chest in front of you.
  7374. >you make sure to hit the locks as you move so its hard for her to see the exact spots
  7375. >you slowly open the chest, revealing the long stored elements.
  7376. >each emitting a unique glow.
  7377. >red for the Alicorn Amulet, purple/black for Sombras Crystal, and a teal-cyan glow for the crystal heart.
  7378. >the little queen changeling looks inside at the glowing elements.
  7379. >her eyes almost fixate on the crystal heart.
  7380. >you can only imagine the amount of food that crystal alone can supply to her
  7381. >you snap your fingers and she quickly looks back to you.
  7382. "as im sure you have guessed. just from the crystal heart alone. these are very important tools."
  7383. >you take out both Sombras Crystal and the Amulet before closing the chest again
  7384. >you feel your spine crawl and goosebumps form all over your body from the brief contact with it
  7385. >you waste no time in placing it on your desk, and pocketing the amulet.
  7386. "tools that i require information on. because as of right now. i have none."
  7387. >"im a little confused on what you are asking me.."
  7388. >perhaps you need to be more straight forward.
  7389. >she was 'born' only a week or so ago.
  7390. >you put your black gloves back on as you start to clean every part of your weapon with a small rag
  7391. >you dont want to leave finger prints after all your hard work.
  7392. "you control changelings. i control you. why not let you have more freedoms in exchange for more control over your changelings."
  7393. >you pull the finger printed slide close to inspect it as you clean, blowing off small bits of rag that get left behind
  7394. "im willing to make you an 'honorary' citizen of the Reich, you will receive most of the same rights as a normal pony, as well as protection from any outside forces. you will be as close as you can become to being a pony in the eyes of the Reich,"
  7395. >you place the parts down and take sombras crystal in your now gloved grip
  7396. >you still feel its power making you on edge, but it is severely lessened. though whether this is from the glove, knowing what to expect, or a mix of both, you cant be sure.
  7397. "all i would require in return. is help in finding the last three elements."
  7398. >queenie has a smile of her face
  7399. >perhaps the thought of being a 'pony' instead of a changeling is all the leverage you need.
  7400. "so, do we have a deal?"
  7401.  
  7402. >you are Cadence
  7403. >the real one, the one who is now in charge of both Changeling and pony prisoners
  7404. >you have ordered a group of dungeon guards to go from cell to cell to get as much information as they can without your help
  7405. >from the sound of it, little progress is being made.
  7406. "these ponies believe what they are doing is right.. of course the wouldn't just give up"
  7407. >you stand in the center of the dungeon watching as each cell gets questioned one by one
  7408. >you hear a pony shout to you
  7409. >"why would you side with that monster! you would choose him over your fellow princesses?"
  7410. "manos is not a monster!"
  7411. >you find yourself shouting at the offending pony.
  7412. "manos has done so much to protect Equestria, he has created new weapons, he has fought off changelings and griffons! he defeated sombra when he returned!"
  7413. >your shouting has attracted the attention of everypony in the dungeon, including the guards
  7414. "he cares for his ponies and has lead them into every battle on the front lines, he is constantly putting himself at risk to keep his own safe! how does that make him a monster!?"
  7415. >your anger at the pony has caused your eyes and horn to glow with magic, but you get yourself under control.
  7416. >manos is just being blamed for everything now..
  7417. >celestia and luna are probably doing this..
  7418. >you look to the guards who were questioning the ponies in the cells
  7419. "thats enough questioning. there isnt much point.."
  7420. >you start to walk away from the center of the dungeon
  7421. >you look over each of the cells, the ponies inside giving you either sad looks, or sharp glares.
  7422. >you hear various insults slung at you once they think you are out of earshot
  7423. >you ignore it.
  7424. >you can continue this later... besides you are going to see manos.
  7425. >everything else can wait.
  7426.  
  7427. >you are Manos
  7428. >you extend your hand out to the little queen
  7429. >just remember little changeling when you make a deal with the devil
  7430. >her hoof extends out to your hand and you grip it giving it a firm shake
  7431. >he will always collect.
  7432. >you lock eyes with Queenie and the world around the two of you dissolves and changes into a blank space
  7433. >she looks around slightly panicked by the sudden change in scenery
  7434. >"manos? whats going on?!"
  7435. "relax."
  7436. >you let go of her hoof and walk away from her.
  7437. >the world changes again and you are back in Castle Manos.
  7438. >specifically you are in the dining area where you and Sombra fought
  7439. >you take a seat at the head of the table.
  7440. "this is where i had to end a deal with someone who thought they would be better off on their own."
  7441. >"what happened to them?"
  7442. >you smile rather warmly to her.
  7443. >i collected. he wanted out of the deal so i simply took what was mine.
  7444. >two smokey figures appear in the room
  7445. >after a few moments they start to take shape, one being you the other Sombra.
  7446. >the fight plays out in front of you in a more slow and dramatic fashion
  7447. >it stops when sombra lays on the floor with you standing over him with his horn.
  7448. "sombra gave his life to me long ago. in exchange for letting him and his kingdom continue. when he decided to make his way in the world without me.."
  7449. >you extend your hand to the scene
  7450. "i simply took back what was mine."
  7451. >the figure representing you raises his hand and plunges the severed horn back into sombras skull
  7452. >as it does the figures dissolve in a smoky dramatic fashion.
  7453. >queenie stares at the scene until its end
  7454. "just remember queenie.. i am much more than powerful than i appear to be."
  7455. >the real world rushes back, and the two of you are still holding 'hands'
  7456. >you are a few inches from her face with a smile
  7457. "i hope you remember that."
  7458. >you kiss her hoof then let it go.
  7459. >just as you sit back down into your chair at the desk there is a knock at the door
  7460. >>"Lord manos, Cadence is here she wishes to see you"
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