Manos the hands of fate (part IV)

HumanSuperiority Apr 25th, 2016 (edited) 1,344 Never
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  1. >you are Manos
  2. >as soon as you walk into the gestapo office Sapphire and Emerald are standing just behind the door
  3. >apparently you have made it just in time.
  4. >"Lord Manos. what do we owe this pleasure?"
  5. >Sapphire is smiling softly by the end of her sentence
  6. "any word from... any reports addressed to me?"
  7. >"to you? well no, none besides our own."
  8. >>"Should there be one? and is there a reason we were not told to be expecting one?"
  9. "Matters of security, nothing more. IF a report is to come across your desk addressed to me, inform me immediately. its long over due.."
  10. >Emerald walks over to you and brushes against your side
  11. >>"perhaps if we knew who was sent or should be expected to report to you, we could deal with it personally."
  12. >you walk past the two mares and take a seat at Emeralds desk and open up the list of agents under her command
  13. >>"is there something you would require assistance in finding?"
  14. "no, everything is under control. please go on with your day.."
  15. >you dont hear the two mares leave
  16. >you dont even know when they left
  17. >all you know is you need to know who was the most likely contact Blackout would have used, and find them.
  19. >you are Cadence
  20. >remaining in the war room with Honor Bound is taking its toll...
  21. >"well what is holding them up?! they should have taken the required locations by now!"
  22. >the pony that has currently been targeted by Bounds mirth quakes slightly as the now even more determined pony looms over him
  23. >>"well, uh, Sir. It seems that the Royalists have created a barrier around the desired locations. our forces have been stopped in their tracks."
  24. >Honor stomps his hoof in rage
  25. >"DAMN IT!... where are the current forces located?"
  26. >his eyes dart over to you for an answer
  27. "they have taken nearly all of Vanhoover.. excluding the ports and a small surrounding area."
  28. >with a sigh Honor Bound walks over to the map on the table and does his best to update it and get a better idea
  29. >"so the area we need is blocked.. of course.."
  30. "reports say that its mostly to protect the citizens of Vanhoover, there are only a few actual guards remaining there."
  31. >"that doesnt help our situation though. not only that, this is our opportunity to prove to Lord Manos that WE Cadence, are capable military commanders in our own right. If we involve Manos that would only mean we failed."
  32. >you giggle and shake your head at his use of 'we'
  33. >"whats so funny? this is a serious matter "princess"
  34. >you can feel the venom he used in that word.
  35. >standing a bit taller than usual you grin at him
  36. "I gave up that title to be by Manos' side, i have nothing to prove to you or anyone else."
  37. >"The sisters Shine done seem to think that way"
  38. "and im sure you dont either. Im not a military leader. my job begins and ends with changelings. anything else i do is by Manos' request."
  39. >"im sure..."
  42. >you are Celestia
  43. >hopefully your sister will listen to your words
  44. >she has to.
  45. >barging in the war room you make quite a scene, getting the attention of everyone in sight
  46. "Manos is targeting VanHoover! he is going to gain access to the sea!"
  47. >Lunas eyes widen for just a moment then return to normal
  48. >"we dont know this for sure, he has hit several locations at once, how can you be sure that Vanhoover is his real target? he has always had something up his sleeve in the past."
  49. "little sister, you need to believe me when i say that it IS his target. If you went to the diplomatic meeting you would understand why!"
  50. >"then share it with me sister, because right now i have no desire to lose ponies in a needless fight, just to lose more because of the wrong choice."
  51. >there isnt time to argue, if Manos has attacked with the might of his forces it could already be too late.
  52. "Luna.. Manos has made some sort of agreement with the Zebranican Republic, i know that for certain. if he has access to the sea, then who knows how many more ponies lives could be lost."
  53. >there is a moment where you could have sworn you weren't talking to Luna
  54. >her eyes stare coldly into your own considering her options.
  55. >"then we shall send everything we can spare to Vanhoover."
  56. "Thank you Luna. im sure this is what he has in mind."
  57. >"and you will lead them."
  58. >...
  59. "I will lead them?"
  60. >Luna slowly walks over to you, her hooves echoing with each step on the hard floor
  61. >her Knight watches the two of you
  62. >"yes dear sister, on their own im afraid they wont be enough, but if you were there, not only would the be inspired, you would be able to even the odds."
  63. "Luna, how can you expect me to fight them? they are still my ponies. they are just... lost."
  64. >"as you said dear sister, they are lost, and there is nothing we can do about that. even if you refuse to beleive it, they are not YOUR ponies anymore!"
  66. >you are Princess Luna
  67. >possibly the last hope for Equestria to stop Manos
  68. >and your sister is still questioning you.
  69. "they are not YOUR ponies anymore!"
  70. >you hear the words coming from your mouth, but it feels foreign.
  71. >like you are speaking without control or rational thought.
  72. >yet.. they feel like they indeed are what you wish to say.
  73. >looking over to Judice Lunae she nods back to you in agreement.
  74. "that is our deal Sister... if you want our armies to march on Vanhoover, you will lead them there."
  75. >Celestia remains in a silent shock at your demands
  76. >deep inside you feel sorry for what you are asking of her, but now is not the time for that.
  77. >every wrong choice in war can cost countless lives
  78. >and each defeat can cause another.
  79. >"Alright Luna.. Ill do as you asked."
  80. "perfect! Judice Lunae, go along too. im sure you can also be a great help in taking back Vanhovoer..."
  81. >>"of course Princess."
  82. "take as many of my Night Guard as you need."
  83. >>"Princess. Vanhoover will be ours. one way or another"
  85. >you are Manos
  86. >despite having so many agents 'removed' from Canterlot by the Princesses there is still a great deal of reading to do
  87. >a large number of active supporters and informants remain in the city, though from what you can tell, the castle has become a blind spot.
  88. >except for a very brave or devoted few who still risk their lives just to send a report or record any information no matter how trivial
  89. "it has to be one of these ponies..."
  90. >Blackout wouldnt trust just anyone calling themselves a supporter.
  91. >they would have to have a record of some sort.
  92. >perhaps connections? or their status?
  93. >you continue to search file after file
  94. >actual names have been omitted in these files but descriptions of the pony are clear and they are given a false name to use in reports.
  95. "Blackout would have sent something... she wouldn't just disappear unless i gave her orders to."
  96. >glancing through the descriptions one catches your eye
  97. >reading it the first time it was easy to overlook, but a second time makes it click in your mind
  98. "is this Rari-"
  99. >Emerald and Sapphire quickly rush inside the room ending your train of thought
  100. >"Manos, we have received some very important information."
  101. "what kind of information?"
  102. >>"Celestia is personally leading a large out of Canterlot."
  103. >"its assumed she is going to Vanhoover to prevent its capture."
  104. >quickly you stand up from the desk leaving the files behind
  105. "Celestia herself?"
  106. >"yes. we just received word from multiple contacts"
  107. >Emerald holds out several new documents
  108. >you snatch them up quickly and read over them before handing them back to her and walk out of the room
  109. >the sound of hoof-steps follow behind you, the Shines quick to follow you
  110. >>"Manos, where are you going? what are your orders?"
  111. >a hundred and one different ideas rush through your mind
  112. >if Celestia is leading a force to take back Vanhoover she must have become aware that its the main target
  113. >was it because you ordered the other positions to stop their advance?
  114. >perhaps word got out faster than you expected? or a nearby ship reported it?
  115. >more importantly what do you do about her? despite what you can do she still can beat you with raw magical power
  116. >she is a Alicorn after all
  117. >An Alicorn
  118. >suddenly an idea comes to mind on how to deal with her
  119. "Sapphire, inform Honor Bound of this development and tell Cadence to meet with me, Has Roselight returned yet?"
  120. >"yes, she and the others just arrived this morning they probably-"
  121. "Have her meet me by the south gate as soon as she is able. Same for Cadence!"
  122. >Sapphire shouts to you from down the hall as you and the two mares start to go separate directions
  123. >>"and where are you going sir?"
  124. >before you respond you close your eyes and focus on the world around you
  125. >your perception of the world changes, and time slowly comes to a halt
  126. >perhaps you can see further then just the Reich
  127. >now seems as good a time as any to see just how far it can go
  129. >you are Celestia
  130. >standing beside you are your loyal ponies in the royal guard
  131. >each of them are armored from head to hoof in their golden and magic resistant armor
  132. >even with you here leading them, you can see the worry and fear in their eyes
  133. >word has spread throughout Equestria of the horrors of real battle, and worse, the seemingly unbeatable forces of the Reich
  134. >the mere fact that they still wear their armor and willingly march along side you to face them shows immense courage and bravery
  135. >you could not be more proud of your ponies, then you are now
  136. >"I am sorry to have kept you waiting"
  137. >Judice Lunae approaches with her own force
  138. >Lunas Night guard, who have seemingly grown in number since Manos arrived
  139. >have they even been in battle with his Hands before?
  140. >do they know what they will face?
  141. >the armored batlike ponies each have a steel look of determination in their eyes.
  142. >their wings having been equipped with small blades light enough to fly with, but strong enough to strike a foe.
  143. "Its not I who have been kept waiting... but the ponies in Vanhoover."
  144. >"then we have no time to waste, I am more than a little eager to confront soldiers of Manos."
  145. >its strange to think this is the same mare you once had as Captain of your own royal guard.
  146. >she seems to have been changed more than anypony else.
  147. "Very well... let us march on."
  148. >the march begins slowly, Yourself and Judice Lunae at the front of the columns.
  149. >followed by the Royal guard, then lastly the Night guard.
  150. >as you march there is a strange feeling in the back of your mind
  151. >you look around the road and the small rolling hills on your sides
  152. >nothing seems to be there, yet you feel as though something or someone is watching you.
  153. >then in a single moment, in less than a second, the feeling is gone.
  154. >"something wrong Princess Celestia?"
  155. "everything is wrong Judice Lunae... everything."
  157. >you are Manos
  158. >before you stands Celestia and her 'loyal' ponies
  159. >you cant help but smile at their nearly depleted morale.
  160. >even with Celestia leading them, the looks in their eyes show they dont have much hope.
  161. >you can feel your astral form walking closer to the large Alicorn
  162. >as you do another pony comes into view beside her.
  163. >honestly you expected Celestia to start bringing in some help from Luna and her batponies sooner.
  164. >but now its more than likely too late to stop you now.
  165. >wait..
  166. >you push your form a few steps further walking through Celestia herself to get a look at the pony in elaborate armor
  167. >her helmet blocks much of her face and her armor covers her body well
  168. >but the few scars that show give you a good idea of who it is.
  169. "well well.. moving up in the world, aren't we Silver?"
  170. >reaching forward with your hand you pet her armored form
  171. "seems ill be meeting more than one old friend in Vanhoover"
  173. >you are glorious Starlight Glimmer
  174. >since 'Manos' has come to power and ponies have started to question the Princesses, they have arrived by the hundreds.
  175. >ponies from all over Equestria now follow your ideals and your lead.
  176. >"No longer will we be slaves to so called gods and goddesses! we shall be lead by a pony! a pony who we can trust to bring us into a new age of prosperity, equality, and friendship!"
  177. >you stand just out of sight of the large crowd of ponies as one of your loyal ponies
  178. >the sound of cheering and hoof stomping roars over the pony at the podium on stage
  179. >"Comrade Glimmer!"
  180. >as you step into the view of the crowd music begins to play
  182. [Embed]
  184. >walking to the podium with your staff in your magical grip you wave to all the ponies watching you with a smile
  185. >eventually the song comes to an end and the crowd calms down to listen to your words
  186. >for a moment you remain silent with them letting the tension build and causing your words to carry more weight
  187. "my comrades, my friends, we are a shining example of what ponies can do on their own, without a "deity" leading us"
  188. >there are a few mumbles of agreement and even a few chuckles
  189. "we have made a small town into a thriving community, we have plenty of food, jobs, and protection from the beasts of the wild. we have done this as ponies, as FREE PONIES who will not be shackled by a tyrannical ruler who seeks to merely use us as labor or entertainment! our lives matter just as much as theirs if not more"
  190. >a voice shouts from somewhere in the crowd
  191. >"we do in a day what they do in a thousand years"
  192. >a smile comes over your face as you point in the voices direction
  193. "exactly! they are lazy and unreliable leaders! look at this new city around us! we built this from the ground up with our own four hooves! what does Manos or Celestia have to show for it?! over a thousand years of rule and they have done NOTHING themselves! to those so called "gods" we are toys!"
  194. >you raise your staff high up into the air
  195. >behind you a flag with a large equal sign unfurls
  196. "but not here! not when we work together, not when the struggles of one is the struggle of the many! when we work together we, the ponies! are the gods. We lead knowing the hardships of mortality, the back breaking work of the weak will become lessened by the efforts of the strong, and our friendship, our comradeship! will be a beacon of hope to those ponies who slave under the hooves of those who deem themselves our betters!"
  197. >>"we are free ponies! we are friends and comrades!"
  198. >>>"the Princesses have used us for too long!"
  199. >>"and that Manos too!"
  200. >the crowd once again erupts into cheers at their own additions to your point
  201. "I promise you my friends, i promise you a world where each of us, and each of our children, and our childrens children will live a life of equality! where we will truly be free!"
  202. >looking over to the pony who introduced you he walks over and takes your place at the podium
  203. "and i too have my own share of work to do to make that dream come true... i will not stand back and let the common pony work alone. much needs to be done and i must continue it now."
  204. >the crowd cheers as a goodbye and to signal the end of your speech.
  205. >walking away two of your own ponies stand with one you have never seen before.
  206. >one of your comrades walk over to you and whisper in your ear
  207. >"he says he has something that may interest you..."
  208. "what could he have that we already dont? send him off."
  209. >as you walk away he staggers a bit and tries to speak with you more
  210. >"b-but Comrade, im sure he has something worth while."
  211. "what makes you think that?"
  212. >"he said something about once making his offer to another.. and was rejected."
  213. "see? he has nothing."
  214. >"the one who rejected it, was Manos.."
  215. >your ears perk up for a moment and your eyes glance over to the pony with a covered face
  216. "did he now?"
  217. >if it was seen as something Manos may have wanted, perhaps its worth learning.
  219. >you are Marble Sunset
  220. >there has been word from the Reich that Celestia will be coming to Vanhoover with reinforcements
  221. >but there was no sign as to when she would arrive
  222. >you can only assume that means its going to be soon
  223. "we need to break down this barrier and take the rest of the city"
  224. >just on the other side you can see royal guards patrolling and watching you
  225. >"but how can we? if its anything like Shining Armors then we would have to take the ones casting the spell down"
  226. "and they are more than likely inside"
  227. >you tap the bubble with your hoof, and little ripples of energy disperse the impact
  228. >looking behind you Black Hands have begun securing various areas of the city and collecting civilians
  229. >orders were given to hold up inside Vanhoover as soon as it was secured and besides this dome of magic, it is
  230. >the tanks that once rolled into the city in columns now hunker down and create areas of death that have so cleverly been named "kill zones"
  231. >the buildings in priority locations have been secured and fortified, making them more like strongholds then whatever they previously were
  232. >and small armed checkpoints have started to spring up in and around the city as an early warning
  233. "this damn spell..."
  234. >you punch the dome with your hoof
  235. "we could have this whole area under control and have the civilians safely away by now!"
  236. >as the ripples from the impact start to fade away an idea forms in your mind
  237. >looking past the barrier between you and the Royalists you can see them hurrying some ponies away to safety
  238. "if Celestia is coming here with another army then this whole city will be a war zone again"
  239. >"no doubt about that, was there any word on if we will be receiving our own reinforcements?"
  240. "unfortunately, not that i was made aware of... but thats not my most pressing concern"
  241. >"then what is? what is taking priority over the lives of our Hands?"
  242. >you nod to the direction of the ponies being led away
  243. "the residents of this city."
  244. >the Hand looks into the barrier and watches the small family of ponies just as they disappear from sight behind a building
  245. >"then what are we going to do?.."
  246. "the best possible thing we can do. either get them out of the city, or get them in there."
  247. >the two of you look at the royal guards remaining behind to watch your actions.
  248. "bring as many of the citizens as you can find here. I dont care what any higher ups say or think about this, if the shield stays up when the fighting starts then that is where i want them."
  249. >"if you say so Marble. I trust your judgement on this one. I hope you dont get into hot water for your choice."
  250. >you cant help but chuckle
  251. "If i do im taking you with me you know."
  252. >the Hand eventually walks off slightly laughing.
  253. >its the little things like that, that can take your mind off the stress of war.
  254. >partially...
  256. >time passes before the sound of hundreds of hooves begin to reach your ears
  257. >down the street and escorted by a medium sized group of Black Hands are all the civilians that were found or secured before and during the fighting
  258. >you can hear children and babies crying as well as a few adult mares and stallions at the sights of their home city in partial ruin.
  259. >the Hand from before walks over to you first as the large group gets led to where you are standing
  260. >"sorry it took me a while... had to do some convincing for the more.. fervent, officers who were rather against giving up civilians to the enemy."
  261. "glad you could get as many as you did."
  262. >"yeah, but there is no telling how many are still out there hiding in corners and basements"
  263. >thats true.
  264. >but there isnt anything you can do about that.
  265. "we are doing what we can for them, and thats what matters."
  266. >at the sight of a large gathering near the barrier more and more Royal guards have come to see what is happening
  267. >while there is a large number behind it, its a mere fraction of what was once defending this city.
  268. >it isnt long before a rather important looking Royalist makes his way to the edge of the barrier
  269. >his voice is muffled but still understandable through the magic
  270. >"what are you doing with those civilians, Hand?"
  271. "im giving them over to you."
  272. >the stallion looks at you confused
  273. >and you are sure the civilians who are close enough to hear you are also having similar looks behind you
  274. >you can already hear some mumbling and whispers from the group
  275. >"and why should we believe you would do that?"
  276. >what should you tell them?
  277. >that they have reinforcements coming?
  278. >even if you dont tell them, they would find out soon enough...
  279. >you look over to the Hand who just gives you a nod
  280. >guess he stands by your choice in this.
  281. "word has it, that Equestria is going to attack here."
  282. >you can already see the hope in the guard stallions eyes begin to reappear
  283. "but i can assure you, we wont be giving it up easily."
  284. >you force yourself to chuckle to show confidence to ponies on both sides of the barrier
  285. "heck, by Manos we might just even keep this place."
  286. >you can hear a huff through the magic wall
  287. "but either way, the fighting will likely be bad... and i dont want these innocent ponies getting hurt."
  288. >the two of you stare at each other for a moment
  289. >the guard searches your eyes to guess your intent
  290. >"ive only seen Hands commit crimes against Equestria and her ponies.."
  291. >you remain silent, and just take the slight verbal punishment
  292. >you know better then to believe him
  293. "these ponies need to be kept safe, and this barrier is the safest place in the city. you know that."
  294. >he stares at you for another moment then to the civilians
  295. >he gives a brief snort and nods
  296. >"you sure you are on the right side stallion?"
  297. "doesnt matter what side im on. both our goals are to protect them."
  298. >you motion to the children at the front of the group for emphasis
  299. >"fine.. once you and the others get away from the barrier we will open a SMALL opening for them to enter."
  300. >you cant help but have a smile on your face at the news.
  301. "very well. we leave them to your care, but remember, this barrier does not come down until the fighting is over."
  302. >"i couldn't agree more Hand... may Celestia forgive you for what crimes you may have committed in your service."
  303. "No crimes. Just followed orders, same as you."
  304. >with that you turn away from the stallion and begin to walk to the crowd of ponies
  305. >the ones that overheard the conversation give silent thanks and occasionally smile to you
  306. >other Hands meet you at the front of the line
  307. >>"well? whats going on?"
  308. "we are keeping these civilians safe, thats what."
  309. >>"what do you mean by-"
  310. "leave them here and return to your stations, we still dont know how soon our playmates will be arriving, and we will need everyone ready for when they do arrive."
  311. >you brush past the Hand as he looks at you with a rather shocked expression on his face at your words
  312. >he glaces at you and the crowd a few times processing what just happened before rushing after you
  313. >>"Marble!"
  314. >you do your best ignore him
  315. >>"you realize that you are giving up ponies to Equestria right?! the same ones that have begun to slaughter their own ponies?"
  316. "thats just a rumor and you know it"
  317. >>"Horseapples! I have family in canterlot, they told me what the Princesses are doing to their own guards there"
  318. >quickly you turn and face the stallion
  319. >he quickly tries to stop himself to avoid crashing into you, his hooves skidding a bit on the ground
  320. "even so, what would you rather do? keep them in a war zone with no real measure of safety or have them in a protected area that even we cant get inside easily?"
  321. >his eyes dart around and he stammers at your words
  322. >>"well, I"
  323. "thats what I thought. Besides, if this does end up being the wrong choice, ill be the one taking blame"
  324. >>"yes sir"
  325. "now get to your post."
  326. >the stallion gives you a salute and quickly trots off
  327. >you could have sworn you heard him call you a Royalist as he got further away
  329. >you are Manos
  330. >you are standing in your room alone the only light is that of the window on the far end of the room
  331. >well thats not entirely true
  332. >as you stand there you stare at the chest containing both your most powerful weapons
  333. >and possibly your own destruction.
  334. >but the thought of losing one inch of dirt to Equestria almost sickens you.
  335. >even if it was easily taken from them
  336. >the chest begins to have a dull red glow emanating from it
  337. >but the light causes no new shadows in the room and only the chest is effected.
  338. >perhaps you are imagining it, it has been a several days since you have had slept.
  339. >quickly you walk up to the chest and unlock it retrieving the Amulet inside.
  340. >the original crystal Sombra gave you along with the Crystal Heart remain inside.
  341. "perhaps i should bring it along too..."
  342. >could it also enhance Cadences magic?
  343. >there's no reason why it shouldn't.
  344. >you place your hand on the crystal then another thought comes to mind.
  345. >what if its lost in the fight?
  346. "no.. no it will stay here. This Amulet is already a risk."
  347. >you lock the chest again leaving the other two elements inside
  348. "if it comes down to it, ill give Cadence the Amulet."
  349. >it would be interesting to see what happens when a Alicorn uses it.
  350. >you leave your room ready to meet your favorite pony again.
  352. >on the way out of the Castle you are met by Aryanne
  353. >"Manos? where are you going in such a hurry?"
  354. >you walk past her, but answer calmly
  355. "Celestia is making her move, she has gathered a force of both Lunar and Solar Guards and is ready to counter attack Vanhoover."
  356. >Aryanne rushes ahead of you and stops you
  357. >"and you're going there?! and on top of that, you were going to go there WITHOUT informing me!?"
  358. >the anger in her eyes would be frightening if you didn't know she wouldn't hurt you
  359. >and if hurting you would actually do permanent damage.
  360. "correct, I am your superior, not the other way around Aryanne."
  361. >"and I am in charge of the Black Hands and your personal guard!"
  362. "who are down to just you and Comet, who is on leave, and those other reserve members. Aryanne, perhaps you should join Comet and take a short leave just to calm yourself a while. Now if you excuse me.."
  363. >as you walk you cant help but notice the sound of hoofsteps behind you on the floor
  364. "Aryanne, i said you should go on leave."
  365. >you look down to your side and Aryanne takes her usual place beside you
  366. >"then consider me on leave."
  367. >she smiles up at you from your side
  368. >"im just choosing to come along as a way to spend my free time."
  369. >as the two of you walk you reach over and pet her mane just below her hat
  370. "you're a good pony Aryanne."
  372. >you are Celestia
  373. >Vanhoover is just out of your reach
  374. >you can see the city from where you stand.
  375. >the outermost areas have been ruined or been exceedingly damaged
  376. >its not a good sign
  377. "this definitely was his target."
  378. >your guards have already begun to spread themselves out instead of remaining in orderly battle lines
  379. >its probably for the best, if they remained close together in tight formations they would just be picked off
  380. >"well? are we going in Princess?"
  381. "Judice, I know you are excited."
  382. >you look over to her from the corner of your eye
  383. "but charging straight in will only get my ponies hurt. we need to know what we are going to be dealing with."
  384. >"i already know, its Manos. Him and his Hands, and the longer we take the stronger they will get! you should know that from your attack on the Reich! or from the battle of Ardennes! he attacks a position with everything hes got, then sets up defenses and waits for another attack!"
  385. >perhaps she is right..
  386. >he does follow the same usual set of steps each time
  387. >"the longer we wait, the more lives will be lost"
  388. "and how many lives will we lose if we just rush in? we have no idea whats waiting for us."
  389. >she stomps her hoof to dissipate her anger and annoyance
  390. >"ugh.. you're right. but my points still stand."
  391. >she looks over her shoulder to the lines of night guards staying in formation
  392. >"i want scouts to enter that city and report back with any information they can get, i want to know defenses, possible rally points, and what kind of weapons Manos has brought with him."
  393. >>"yes Lunae!"
  394. >"do not engage unless absolutely nessisary!"
  395. >around twenty or so night guards rush further away from the city before taking to the sky
  396. >they ascend higher and higher until they are above the clouds.
  397. "when they return"
  398. >IF they return
  399. "we will plan our next move from there.."
  401. >you are Manos
  402. >the ponies you have asked to meet you are already waiting for you at the gates by the time you and Aryanne approach
  403. >Even with her rest cut short Roselight appears unbothered
  404. >on the contrary, she seems eager.
  405. >she quickly bows as soon as she notices you
  406. >Cadence on the other hand just looks worried at what you have in mind for them
  407. >"Manos? whats going on?"
  408. "Cadence, have you ever visited Vanhoover before?"
  409. >"y-yes? why do you ask?"
  410. "could you be a dear and tell me where in the city you have been?"
  411. >she looks rather puzzled by your request but answers you anyway
  412. >"well ive seen most of the city, at least the inner city whenever id be sent there by Celestia or whenever i wanted to just get away from things in Canterlot."
  413. "Good, then you can take us there easily."
  414. >"WHAT!?"
  415. >you walk over to Cadence and put your arm around her gently
  416. "Cadence, I want you to take Myself, Roselight, and Aryanne to Vanhoover. the quickest way I know."
  417. >"you want me to teleport FOUR beings all the way to Vanhoover?! just like that?!"
  418. >you smile
  419. "correct"
  421. >you are Cadence
  422. >he cannot be serious!
  423. >does he have any idea how much energy and magic that would take?
  424. >not to mention what condition you would be when you got there.
  425. >on top of that its a battlefield, what if you teleport into a ruined building? or into gunfire?!
  426. "i dont think i can do that Manos."
  427. >you feel Manos gently rub your side with his arm thats wrapped around you
  428. >"Cadence, you are a Alicorn, you have more magic than any unicorn out there, on top of that"
  429. >he gently lifts your face to meet his
  430. >"you have me, and I decide the fate of those who stand with me. we will be fine"
  431. >you cant help but blush
  432. >why does he have to be so convincing?
  433. "ill try. But i dont think i have enough magic to do this"
  434. >"i have faith."
  435. >He reaches into his uniforms pocket with his free hand and waits.
  436. >you take a deep breath and begin to store up enough magic to attempt a four person teleport to Vanhoover
  437. >you imagine the streets of the city, and focus on moving everyone there instantly
  438. >as you do your magic seems to be gathering much faster than you expected
  439. >its amazing! you can feel magic coursing through you, more than you have ever felt before
  440. >but you cant place its origin
  441. >it doesnt matter, you have to concentrate on this one task
  442. >you close your eyes tightly cutting off the world around you
  443. >and as you open them theres a bright flash around you and magic quickly leaves your body
  444. >it worked
  446. >you are Manos
  447. >you knew it would work.
  448. >looking around at the city its as you expected.
  449. >mostly intact, and easily repaired given enough time.
  450. "Im glad Honor Bounds plan worked so we--"
  451. >you feel a large dizziness come over you and a great pain all over your body
  452. >your eyes feel like they are burning, so does your skin and muscles
  453. >falling to your knees you cough deeply unable to take in air
  454. >>"MANOS!"
  455. >Aryanne was the first to notice and quickly rushed to your side
  456. >Roselight quickly followed suit as Cadence comes back to reality after her spell
  457. >whats happening to you?
  458. >you cough harder and you begin to have trouble breathing in any air
  459. >without thinking you grab a hold of the nearest pony for balance and do your best to lift yourself to your feet
  460. >as you stand up the same feeling of dizziness comes over you again
  461. >"Manos! did i do this to you?!"
  462. >you have your eyes closed but the voice is clearly that of Cadence
  463. >and its close enough for you to assume its her you are currently holding yourself up with
  464. >with a final deep cough you feel something wet hit your hand covering your mouth
  465. >>"he needs medical attention, NOW!"
  466. "Aryanne, Roselight, inform the nearest Hands of my situation. ill be fine here with Cadence until they arrive."
  467. >>>"yes my lord, as you command!"
  468. >>"we will be back as soon as we can. just hang in there Manos..."
  469. >you force your eyes open the world seems too bright at first causing you to close them again
  470. >but after the second try and letting your eyes adjust you can again start to see clearly.
  471. >pulling your hand away you see its covered in your own blood.
  472. >you hear Cadence gasp at the sight.
  473. >"Manos, is that?"
  474. >with the hand you are using to balance yourself you pat her back.
  475. "its fine Cadence."
  476. >"Its.. Its going to be Okay. Everything is going to be Okay."
  477. >the pain has started to dissipate slowly along with the dizziness
  478. >its not gone, but it is manageable now.
  479. >you feel Cadence wrap a wing around you and hold you with one foreleg.
  480. >again you feel a wetness on your body.
  481. >looking to your shoulder you see Cadence has rested her head on you and begun to cry slightly
  482. >again you pat her back and a small laugh escapes your lips
  483. >perhaps you do know what is happening.
  484. >if only you figured it out sooner and didn't plan on charging in to confront the most powerful Alicorn in Equestria.
  485. "everyone has a weakness..."
  487. >you are a Lunar Scout
  488. >you land atop a cloud just over the city of Vanhoover
  489. >peering down below you see that the inner parts of the city are far better preserved than the outside
  490. >not only that, but there is a large dome of magic covering the port and a small corner of the city
  491. >you have heard rumors that the Royal guard unicorns have used that kind of magic before in Canterlot
  492. >could they be survivors?
  493. >does Equestria-- does Luna still hold the city?
  494. "i need a closer look..."
  495. >you fold in your wings and dive from the could
  496. >hopefully your positioning will keep you hidden as you descend
  497. >you quickly land on one of the taller buildings giving you a much better view of the streets below.
  498. >near the dome you can see a crowd of ponies gathered
  499. >they are civilians!
  500. >and they are being herded by black hands?
  501. "whats going on down there...?"
  502. >you hear a short chirp and squeak on your left with your sensitive hearing
  503. >quickly you look and spot the source
  504. >another scout is on a building a few streets down and he points to the Hands leaving the crowd
  505. >as the Hands get further away you see the citizens start to wander towards the dome
  506. >it opens slightly and the crowd is slowly pouring inside
  507. >could those ponies in the dome be working with the Hands?
  508. >if they aren't then why would they give up captives?
  509. >you give a few quiet responses to the other scout in the form of squeaks and clicks
  510. >both his wings flare as a sign he understands and he takes to the sky to inform the others
  511. >walking around the edge of the building you spot something odd.
  512. >in the ruins of a partially fallen building there is a large... THING.
  513. >could it be the war machines that the royal guard have talked about?
  514. "if there is one then there are bound to be more."
  515. >the streets are going to be a very dangerous place to fight.
  516. >there is a sudden flash further into the city that catches you off guard
  517. "what in the moons name was that?"
  519. >you are Marble Sunset
  520. "just a little further, little more... there!"
  521. >you hold up your forelegs to signal the tank to stop
  522. "perfect. how are your sight lines?"
  523. >the top of the hatch opens enough for a mare to stick her head out
  524. >"we can see from the corner to the far street, everything is good here."
  525. "good. be sure to setup proper defenses around your position."
  526. >"sir, whats going on over there?"
  527. >the mare points behind you down the street in the direction of two mares rushing off with a group of five or six medical ponies
  528. >who told them to leave their designated posts?!
  529. >if they get lost or captured more lives will be lost.
  530. "Manos damn it!.. HEY!"
  531. >quickly you charge after the group but they keep their pace showing no signs of stopping
  532. "I am Marble Sunset and i am giving you a direct order! hold your position and inform me as to whats going on!"
  533. >one of the mares turn their head back to you
  534. >"Marble you are outranked here!"
  535. >outranked?
  536. >who is she and if she is so high above you why is she here?
  537. >with all the energy you can muster you manage to gain enough speed to get close enough to overhear the conversation
  538. >>>"what was his condition when you left him?"
  539. >the other mare speaks in a harsh and commanding tone, even when just answering what appears to be a medical question
  540. >>"he was falling to his knees and seemingly couldn't stand, on top of that he was coughing."
  541. >you cant hear the mumbling of the medics until one speaks up again
  542. >>>"was there any sign of physical damage? and could you describe the coughing? it could be magic related"
  543. >>"it was deep and heavy, and he seemed to be wheezing and unable to breathe properly"
  544. >you curiosity gets the better of you and you shout
  545. "Who?!"
  546. >they turn down a street just out of your view and as soon as you turn the corner you get your answer.
  547. >everyone has come to a halt and you nearly run into them
  548. >thankfully you were able to stop yourself before you did
  549. >the Medics quickly give a salute and you see the more commanding mare from before take a bow.
  550. >walking around the group of ponies you see a shocked looking Alicorn staring at blood on the ground and all over...
  551. "Manos?"
  552. >slowly he stands up from the ground the end of his weapon still smoking with a smile on his face and a spent cartridge in his hand
  553. >"dont worry, I took care of it"
  555. >you are a Lunar Scout
  556. >did.. did you really just witness that?
  557. >your ears are still ringing from the noise of the small object held by the one you can assume is Manos'
  558. >you stand in a small opening in a building watching in a mix of fear and awe
  559. >quickly noticing you are a little to exposed now that there are more ponies around you take a step further back inside
  560. >the shadows will help hide you from sight.
  561. >once you feel you are in a safe enough area you remove your helmet and take deep breaths
  562. >how could he have just done that so casually?!
  563. "he is-s n-not a god."
  564. >how could he have just stood up?
  565. "h-he is not a god."
  566. >and how is he perfectly fine now?!
  567. "he is n-not a god."
  568. >you raise your hoof to where you saw him place his weapon
  569. >the sight plays back again in your head, over and over.
  570. >in your trance you don't even notice the sound of approaching hoofsteps
  571. >"do you hear that?.."
  572. >>"its coming from in there."
  573. >suddenly the door is kicked open and a group of three Black Hands rush in
  574. >theres no time to waste now.
  575. >you have been compromised.
  576. >you force yourself to jump off the edge of the building and take to the skies leaving your helmet behind.
  577. >the others need to know what you just saw.
  579. >you are Manos
  580. >and you need to get a new uniform and also need to remember how useful your sidearm has become.
  581. >you are honestly quite sorry for what Cadence had to witness
  582. >it must be traumatizing seeing the one person you care about in the world kill themselves right in front of you
  583. >but, you tried to tell her to look away, she refused.
  584. >there is the sound of panic from one of the buildings overlooking the street
  585. >as you turn to see what is causing it a bat pony in night guard armor jumps from a window and takes to the sky
  586. >two of your Hands poke their heads out the window and fire a few rounds at the scout
  587. >they miss the scout but it makes little difference.
  588. >if there is one then there are more.
  589. >and if there are scouts...
  590. "Celestia will be making her move soon."
  591. >quickly you turn to Marble
  592. "i assume everything has been prepared for her welcome?"
  593. >"Manos.. are you okay?"
  594. "i am quite fine. please answer my question. have defenses been prepared?"
  595. >the other ponies, excluding Cadence, turn to face him
  596. >"yes sir. im sorry. Defenses have been prepared but we were unsure as to how soon the Royalists would arrive."
  597. >>"funny, it seems that they were never really removed from the city to begin with."
  598. >Marble quickly glare at Roselight
  599. >"and who are you anyway? i dont see any rank on your uniform, in fact, it looks like you are a member of the research branch based on that uniform"
  600. >>"my name is Roselight Bound, sister to the Reichsmarschall and one of the first Operators in the Black Hands."
  601. "what is this about Royalists still in the city marble?"
  602. >Roselight answers for him before he even gets the chance
  603. >>"when we went to retrieve medical attention for you lord, we discovered that the Royalists still control the port, and have created a barrier blocking entry. and apparently, it hasnt been taken down yet."
  604. >"There is a good reason for it!"
  605. "go on.."
  606. >Marble stands a little straighter glad to have been given the chance to explain his actions
  607. >"when we heard that Celestia was going to attack, we gathered as many civilians as we could find, we needed a place to keep them safe. and that shield was the best option."
  608. >Aryanne quickly confronts Marble, her eyes almost engulfed in anger
  609. >>>"You gave up Citizens to the Equestrians?! citizens that might have information on where we are located and how many of us there are?"
  610. >"Their lives matter to me just as much as my own men, if not more! its our job to protect them no matter what cost is it not?! from Changelings or Royalists it doesnt matter, their lives take priority!"
  611. >you should probably diffuse this situation before it gets out of hand
  612. "it wont matter, in the end we shall have the port and the civilians will be under the protection of the Reich. for now I agree with Marble, even if the Equestrians have them now, they cant lower the barrier or else putting them in danger. in effect he has neutralized the threat in the city and made its weakness an advantage."
  613. >>>"but Manos what if they-"
  614. >you place your hand on Aryannes head, which gets her a look of jealousy from Roselight and Cadence.
  615. >for different reasons you assume...
  616. "Aryanne, I trust Marbles judgement, and we have more important things to worry about now."
  618. >You are Celestia
  619. "everything is ok, please, take a moment to relax yourself and speak clearly..."
  620. >a helmetless bat pony rambles on for a moment in incoherent sentences before you, Judice Lunae, and a mixed group of Royal and Lunar Guards.
  621. >"I- yes. yes, i just need to take a moment.."
  622. >the tension builds as the Lunar guard takes slow heavy breaths
  623. >"this.. this Manos... He stands on two legs, yes?"
  624. >you nod your head and lay yourself down so you can be eye level with the pony
  625. "yes."
  626. >he guards eyes close tightly and he gulps slightly
  627. >"A-and he, he claims to be a god.. the god of Fate?"
  628. >Judice's response to the pony is sharp and harsh, and he winces as she emphasizes her point
  629. >>"that is what he claims to be, though its doubtful"
  630. >he slowly gets down on his knees and small tears form in his eyes
  631. >"then he is not a god.. right?"
  632. >>"why would you think otherwise?"
  634. >the sudden shout from the traumatized guard catches everyone off guard, including Judice Lunae who is stunned at his command
  635. >you look to her then to the now larger group of observers gathering around
  636. "there is no need to fear him little pony, i promise ill protect you."
  637. >"you still haven't said he isn't a god! why are we fighting against fate?!"
  638. >he pulls his wings in tightly wrapping himself in a hug
  639. >there are murmurs amongst the guards, lunar ones questioning royals, and royals telling lunar of past battles and experiences relating to Manos
  640. >the crowd falls silent again as they take notice of the soft voice of the scout
  641. >"I watched him.. He was hurting, he was in pain. Ponies ran off for help, Manos was dying."
  642. >the voices break out again this time louder and with mixed reactions to the news
  643. >"but he didnt die!"
  644. >the scout gets back on his hooves and exchanges glances with as many listeners as he can
  645. >"he.. he took his weapon.."
  646. >eventually his eyes lock with yours as he takes his hoof and touches it to his head
  647. >"he.. placed it, right here. On himself."
  648. >the look in the scouts eyes confirm that he is speaking the truth
  649. >they are filled with tears and fear as the image plays in his mind
  650. >"then, then he..."
  651. >>"I think thats about enou-"
  652. >"he killed himself!"
  653. >you cant help but gasp at the thought of it.
  654. >the crowd does the same, almost in sync with your own.
  655. >>"see then? if he is dead then there is nothing to fear!"
  656. >the scout glares at Judice Lunae and rushes over to her, nearly colliding with her in his rush
  657. >"BUT HE JUST GOT BACK UP! he stood up like nothing happened, his pain was gone and he was healthy again!"
  658. "are you sure thats what happened?"
  659. >now you are the center of his attention again
  660. >he glares at you as if taking offence that you would question his story
  661. >"he blood stains the streets! I saw his head OPEN on the ground! how can he do that?!"
  662. >you notice that the scouts legs are shaking, as are his wings.
  663. >in fact, every inch of his body is trembling
  664. >"tell me princess! how can he do that if he isn't a god?! he isn't a god right?"
  665. >for the first time in a long time
  666. >you dont know what to say to help a scared pony
  668. >you are Judice Lunae
  669. >and this is not good...
  670. >you can tell that word will get out about this soon
  671. >even if you were to remove the panicked scout from service, the others would have already spoke about it.
  672. >there is no time then
  673. >as the others begin to murmur and slightly panic about what this one lone scout says you step in
  674. "Where is your helmet scout?"
  675. >he feels the top of his head with his hoof
  676. >"it, it must be back in the city, why?"
  677. "then you left it behind?"
  678. >the scout takes a step back
  679. >"yes?"
  680. "why did you remove your helmet? and why would you leave such a valuable piece of equipment behind if you were scouting?"
  681. >he looks to you confused, unsure as to what any of your questioning has to do with the situation
  682. >"I, i hid. i had to take breaths to calm myself to get back-"
  683. "you ran away.. in the line of duty"
  684. >slowly you walk up to the scout your eyes like daggers
  685. "when you run away, you leave others to die. when one pony panics and runs off more follow behind him"
  686. >you raise your hoof to the others
  687. "and now you come here! and spout the panicked babble of a coward! a coward who would leave behind his friends and comrades!"
  688. >with your extended hoof you strike the scout to the ground before standing over him
  689. "you are a traitor.. just like those Hands are.. except you are worse, you are a coward, and a liar..."
  690. >his coat is soaked in mud and his own tears
  691. "and ill prove to you, coward, that Manos can die.. even if i have to kill him myself"
  693. >you are a royal guard Pegasus
  694. >its fun being a guard!
  695. >you get to wear this nice armor, you are surrounded by ponies, and you get to march in line with them!
  696. >you should do this more often.
  697. >after the other guards came to a stop and started setting up camps you went for a walk around the site
  698. >the Lunar guards seem to be much more... vicious, than the royal ones.
  699. >they have sharp fangs and their wings are all thin and unfeathered.
  700. >why would ponies want to be around them?
  701. >honestly they remind you of Changelings in a way
  703. >your ears perk up at the sound of a pony shouting
  704. >others around you also take notice of the voice
  705. >>"whats going on?" "who was that?" "what is he talking about?"
  706. >quickly you rush over to the scene, a trio of guards behind you also curious about the commotion
  707. >"why are we fighting against fate?!"
  708. >fate?
  709. >are they talking about Manos?
  710. >you need to hear this now.
  711. >with a bit of effort your force your way through the gathering crowd and see a batpony panicking and talking to...
  712. >a very large, very beautiful pony who looks very upset at the words of the Lunar guard
  713. >you can tell she is worried about him, but her worry for him seems to be overshadowed by the sudden news
  714. >"I watched him.. He was hurting, he was in pain. Ponies ran off for help, Manos was dying."
  715. >the last three words out of the batponies mouth echo in your ears
  716. >no..
  717. >no that cant be..
  718. >your wings become heavy and droop as your eyes start to water.
  719. "Manos was dying?"
  720. >>"thats what he said."
  721. >>"do you think its true?"
  722. >>"absurd, who would be there to take on Manos?"
  723. >>"perhaps one of his own betrayed him?"
  724. >your eyes look around at all the others in the crowd as they begin to voice their thoughts
  725. >your feelings are clearly out of place here, and you decide to keep quiet and look at the ground
  726. >tears occasionally start to drip down your face, but you wipe them away in hopes that no one saw
  727. >if they thought you were crying about their enemy dying, then you would surely be discovered
  728. >"but he didnt die! he... he took his weapon, and.. he placed it, right here. on himself"
  729. >ponies have already moved in closer and a few block your view, but occasionally you see the pony speaking
  730. >with a few glimpses you think you see him pointing to his own head.
  731. >is he saying Manos put the weapon to his head? or to this ponies?
  732. >"then he, killed himself."
  733. >the silence after he spoke was almost as loud as the gasp that started it.
  734. >one of the ponies behind the larger one step forward with a smile on her face
  735. >>>"see then? is he is dead then we have nothing to fear!"
  736. >you cant listen to more.
  737. >without the slightest care of being noticed you pull yourself out of the crowd getting more than a few odd looks from the others
  738. >some are downright glares of suspicion, but you cant find it in you to worry anymore.
  739. >once you get far enough away you rush to the back of the camp
  740. >the few ponies out here are either resting from the march or cleaning their weapons and armor
  741. >they wouldnt think it strange if you would step away would they?
  742. >just then a guard taps your shoulder
  743. >"hey, what are you doing back here. aren't you pegasi supposed to be further up the line?"
  744. >crap.. what do you say?
  745. "I.. uh.."
  746. >you look around desperately for an excuse
  747. >eventually they find it in a small forested area near the back
  748. "im going to go to the bathroom?"
  749. >the mare raises an eyebrow
  750. >she doesn't look too convinced.
  751. >"the bathroom huh?"
  752. >you point to the woods behind her, and she turns her head to look
  753. >then back to you
  754. "i just dont want ponies to watch me is all."
  755. >after a second or two of staring she finally relents.
  756. >"yeah i understand, but you should really take somepony with you. We are supposed to have another guard with us at all times.."
  757. >think.. think...
  758. "all the other ponies in my unit are stallions."
  759. >the words come out a bit sloppier and quieter than you wanted them too, but it seems to have worked in your favor
  760. >the mare laughs loudly and put a hoof on your shoulder
  761. >"oh celestia, i remember when i had that happen.. ah dont worry, ill go with you lets go."
  762. "go- go with me?"
  763. >"of course, you just said all the others are stallions, but rules are rules and im a mare, and dont worry i wont peek."
  764. >she laughs a bit more before the two of you make it a few feet out of sight in the woods
  765. >"alright, do your business ill be over there waiting for you."
  766. >as the mare turns to walk away you pounce on her knocking her to the ground
  767. >"what in Celestias name are you doing?!"
  768. >she struggles under you but you manage to keep her pinned.
  769. "im really sorry about this. but you shouldnt have come here with me."
  770. >your magic dissipates revealing your real form as you bear your fangs down on the mares neck
  771. >she screams in pain but the sound is muffled by your teeth and blood filling her throat instead making a gross bubbling noise
  772. >releasing your tight grip on her throat with your fangs you take a step back and look at the guard
  773. >her eyes are filled with fear and she coughs and swallows her own blood
  774. >you look into her eyes as the life escapes them..
  775. >her life... the life you took from her...
  776. >maybe all changelings are monsters after all.
  777. >the sound of a branch breaking catches your attention just in time for you yourself to be tackled to the ground next the body
  778. >you stare at the lifeless heap next to you before closing your eyes and await the end
  779. >but it never comes
  780. >the pony on top of you eventually moves away and you gather the courage to look
  781. >the blackened form brings with it a sudden relief
  782. "im sorry i didnt tell you i was coming.. but i heard something important.."
  783. >the face of the creature opens up revealing the face of Blackout
  784. >"what is the news Queenie?"
  786. >you are Manos
  787. >and now you are standing next to one of your instruments of war.
  788. >you place your hand on the tanks side, its cool metallic frame pleasing to the touch
  789. >the commander and crew watch as you admire their armored machine
  790. "these weapons were always a favorite of mine.."
  791. >you kneel down and inspect the treads
  792. "they were once thought to be a wasted technology when they were first invented back home"
  793. >you pat the side of the machine again before standing and turning to the crew
  794. "but they quickly proved those traditional imbeciles wrong, within a few years these machines became a necessity for proper warfare and yet, Equestria STILL after all this time facing them in combat, have not conjured up anything to match their firepower and armor."
  795. >you point to the crew for a moment your finger casually bobbing up and down as you do
  796. "you drivers, gunners, commanders, and crew are one of the most valuable members of the Reich.. im excited to see how you will preform here."
  797. >each of the crew quickly give salutes with prideful smiles on their faces
  798. >"we will not fail you lord!"
  799. >you chuckle at their determination and return the salute dismissing them
  800. >as you begin to walk away from the position the clouds catch your eye
  801. >the clouds are moving slowly and calmly above the city
  802. >quiet and aloof
  803. >you envy them, they sit back and enjoy the sights of the world below without needing to intervene
  804. >that could have been your life...
  805. >the wind blows across your face and you close your eyes to enjoy the moment.
  806. >then something comes to realization
  807. >those clouds are moving against the wind.
  808. "ive missed you Celestia. dont keep me waiting much longer.."
  810. >you are Celestia
  811. >and Judice Lunae is right.. you cant be waiting around much longer.
  812. >the scouts have all returned giving you precious information about the state of the city
  813. >again Judice Lunae was correct about Manos
  814. >the city itself has started to become a large fortification and the time you gave Manos has only made it stronger
  815. >you need to act without haste.
  816. >a mix of lunar guards and royal guard pegasi have taken to the sky
  817. >their orders were to move clouds over the top of Vanhoover casually and naturally as they could.
  818. >there they would wait until the attack has begun and focus on critical points in the city while the Hands are distracted with the main force.
  819. >the main force led by you.
  820. >its been a long time since you have led any large scale battle from the frontline
  821. >and if it was up to you, it would have remained that way.
  822. >but as luna has said countless times, times like these call for more drastic measures.
  823. >"Celestia. we need to act now, if you dont give the order then i will."
  824. >she probably would
  825. >and the lunar guard would follow it without hesitation forcing your hand.
  826. "I know Judice Lunae. i was just taking a moment for myself."
  827. >"and in turn giving one to Manos."
  828. >you lower your head slightly at her unnecessary words
  829. "Remember who is the princess here Valor, and remember that once we being many lives will be lost. there is nothing wrong with letting them live a moment longer."
  830. >you dont need to look at her to know she is giving you some form of disapproving glare
  831. >especially at the use of her real name
  832. >you turn your back to Vanhoover and face your brave ponies
  833. >their eyes all look to you even the lunar ones waiting for your word
  834. "my little ponies, i have asked much of you."
  835. >you voice echos out over the silence
  836. >despite the number of ponies listening you speak to them as if they were just one individual
  837. >and in a sense, they are.
  838. "and you have done as i have asked to the best of your ability, But now i again must ask more of you."
  839. >looking over your shoulder to Vanhoover you can see the clouds are already in position
  840. "and i dont ask this for my own selfishness, i ask this, for the ponies who cannot."
  841. >you look back to your forces
  842. "inside vanhoover are thousands of innocent ponies who need us to protect them. But even they are just a small portion of the lives we can save if we succeed. and this time, i do mean WE."
  843. >with your magic your eyes begin to glow a bright golden color and you spread your wings to their full length
  844. >as you speak again your voice booms like thunder
  845. "i will be the first into the city, and ill be the last out of it! ill do everything within my power to keep you all safe!"
  847. >you are a Black Hands spotter
  848. >nestled in one of the tall outlying buildings
  849. >your crystal communication device sits next to you on a small pile of placed rubble as you lay still
  850. >your body and uniform have been concealed to the best of your ability
  851. >dust, dirt, and various forms of rubble cover your body
  852. >you move slowly peering into the horizon with your binoculars with a very controlled sweep
  853. >in the distance you can see the forces of Equestria gathering and slowly marching closer
  854. >you smile and reach for the crystal slowly bringing it to your lips
  855. "contact, large sized mixed royal and lunar guard force, moving into fire zone 'Timber'"
  856. >"affirmative, message received, mixed force moving into fire zone 'timber'"
  857. >you can feel your heart begin to race and you have to force yourself to steady your breathing
  858. >under your breath as you watch the approaching force come slowly closer you mumble
  859. "he is here as one of us, his will reaches the stars and the earth shall quake with his mere word. Our fate is decided at birth, let our lives be worth our end"
  860. >just as you finish the first boom of the Talons fire echos from behind you
  861. >though the building is sound and sturdy the force of the artillery firing makes it quake and rumble
  862. "his will reaches the stars"
  863. >you cant see or hear the projectiles moving through the air, but in a strange way you can estimate where they are.
  864. >its as if you can feel their path to the earth
  865. "and the earth shall quake with his word"
  866. >the first projectile makes impact just in front of the mass of ponies causing them to quickly scatter and space themselves out
  867. >the next few impacts happen in quick succession, another and another then three more, then twice that.
  868. >from your building you can see a bright light shining from the Royals
  869. >a large golden shield flying above their heads blocks a few of the strikes but the blast still knocks many to the ground
  870. >taking your weapon you place it on a sturdy position in front of you
  871. >while most of the firearms made by the Reich are general purpose, yours is one of a growing few made for this range
  872. >its not mounted on your hoof and is about the length of a spear though a bit heavier
  873. >laying down you put the end of the weapon to your shoulder and hold it tight and steady
  874. >atop the weapon is a metallic tube acting much like your binoculars with a small line that moves from the bottom to top with various distances marked
  875. >you place the crystal down in it previous place and move a small paper in front of you
  876. "second hill... 735 meters out.."
  877. >you look to the few trees in the distance to judge the wind and take aim on a unicorn aiding the shield with his magic
  878. "let our lives be worth our end."
  879. >Heil the lord of fate.
  881. >you are Judice Lunae
  882. >and you feel so alive!
  883. >more than you ever have in the guard, or in Canterlot
  884. >your forces have spread out and most have taken to the sky to avoid the blasts
  885. >you can hear various commanders and leaders barking orders to their subordinates and in turn the rest of the soldiers
  886. >besides you runs a royal guard unicorn leading his own small group of ponies
  887. >and in the very front, is Celestia herself
  888. >her horn glows brightly as more impacts hit her barrier above your heads
  889. >well.. even if she has run this land to the ground, she still has use.
  890. >quickly you turn to the unicorn beside you
  891. "get as many others as you can to assist Celestias spell. thats a direct order!"
  892. >"yes ma'am!"
  893. >he breaks off from the charge and adds his own magic to the shield while ordering others to do the same
  894. >you watch him momentarily with a smile on your face
  895. >its good to know the royal guard knows their place
  896. >just as you are about to look back the pony drops to the ground hard
  897. >a spray of blood coming from his neck.
  898. "well... that was unexpected..."
  900. >you are Manos
  901. >the sound of your Talons firing cuts your conversation with a group of gathered Hands short
  902. "to your positions! Cadence, Aryanne, Roselight, you are to be at my side at all times. Mable, take command of the defending forces, im sure they are in good hooves."
  903. >"and what about you sir? if I am in charge of the city, then what are you and the others doing here?"
  904. >for a moment you ignore him and continue to give orders
  905. >you point to a Operator about to activate his armor
  906. "Roselight, commandeer that armor."
  907. >the operator looks over to you a little aggravated
  908. >>"and what am i supposed to do without it?!"
  909. >a quick glare from you makes his mouth shut and you receive a sudden salute from him
  910. "assist in bringing ammo and medical supplies to the front... your armor will be returned or replaced."
  911. >now you turn back to Marble who for a short while has followed you and your bodyguard of mares
  912. "we are going to meet up with some old friends and discuss politics like civilized cultured people."
  913. >by the time you finish your sentence your sidearm has been loaded and a round chambered
  914. "well.. off to the talks."
  915. >these ones are already going better than the ones you had before.
  916. >nothing to hide this time.
  917. "oh and marble!"
  918. >you turn back to the pony trying to rush off, as he looks back he sees you point to the clouds above
  919. "open fire on those clouds. shake the bees nest a bit.."
  921. >you are Marble Sunset
  922. >fire on the clouds?
  923. >looking up at them it does seem rather strange that on such a windy day they seem to have stopped moving..
  924. >an ambush?
  925. >Manos eventually walks off with his bodyguard behind him, one now in a suit of his crystal powered armor
  926. >how are you supposed to reach them?
  927. >can your weapons even fire that far?
  928. >as you rush back to your command post the tops of the taller buildings begin to block your view of the clouds
  929. >the tall.. skyscrapers of Vanhoover...
  930. >you need to get Hands on the top of those buildings as soon as you can.
  932. >you are Celestia
  933. >this is what your ponies have been going through in battle...
  934. >even when Manos fought for Equestria, you rarely saw what he and his Hands were capable of
  935. >but now that you have seen it for yourself, even if its only been a few moments it makes you wonder at what he plans to accomplish with this level of destruction at his beckon call
  936. >for less than a second a small flash comes from one of the buildings as you continue to run towards the city
  937. >you would have missed it if you blinked
  938. >just as the flash goes off a unicorn next to you plummets to the ground and is soon washed over by those following behind
  939. >there's another flash from a different building and then another pony lay dead a mere moment later
  940. "another of Manos' weapons..."
  941. >another wave of blasts make there presence known bombarding your magical shield
  942. >the strain on it is getting worse, the impacts making the magic begin to waver from continuous battery
  943. >but why so severely?
  944. >the flashes!
  945. >they are taking out ponies assisting with the spell!
  946. >you dont have time to think of a better plan, but you need to protect your ponies as best you can
  947. "Everypony, stop assisting with the spell! I can handle it on my own!"
  948. >you hope..
  949. >its not much further, you just need to get close enough to the buildings that the weapons cant do as much damage
  950. >as you continue to charge you search for Judice Lunae
  951. >you find her a few ponies away smiling as she charges, a glint of excitement in her eyes
  952. "Lunae! Command the night guards to take to the sky and get into that city! stop those weapons!"
  953. >with a nod she begins to bark her own orders to the bat ponies under her command
  954. >what pegasi are still with you join in the new aerial charge
  955. >the blasts come again, but you are maintaining the shield on your own this time
  956. >you stumble slightly from the force on your spell making several of your ponies pass you
  957. >How many lives would have been lost just trying to get to the city if you weren't here?
  959. >you are Manos
  960. >"sir, our observers report that they are getting too close for our artillery to be effective"
  961. >about time, how long have those guns been making your ears ring?
  962. "give them one last barrage then arm yourselves accordingly and defend your post"
  963. >with a salute the pony rushes off to relay your orders
  964. >already the sound of gunfire has increased dramatically
  965. >they must already have a few ponies in the city
  966. "Roselight."
  967. >heavy metallic footsteps make their way over to you before a equally metallic sounding voice responds
  968. >"yes lord?"
  969. "Im sure you are eager to prove your skills to me, but remember, your objective isnt to decimate guards. Its to stick close to me and prevent any harm from coming to me."
  970. >"Yes my lord, I will never leave your side unless you command it."
  971. >Aryanne is alreay staying as close as she can, her eyes sweeping the sky and the streets
  972. >as you begin to walk forward you hear Aryannes voice between Roselights steps
  973. >>"Abiecit clipeum, Roselight. Welcome to Manos' personal guard."
  974. >down the road you can see Hands rushing down alleyways, presumably to get to new defensive positions, or to push back a wave of royals
  975. >which is where you want to be.
  976. "Cadence, If you were your Auntie.."
  977. >turning to meet your pretty pink ponies glare you question your word choice regarding Celestia
  978. >but the damage is already done
  979. "in an assault, where would you be?"
  980. >it she pauses for only a moment before responding in a very sure tone
  981. >>>"Id be where I can protect, and be protected by my guards."
  982. >you were thinking the same thing
  983. >which means Celestia will be in the one place any of your bodyguards would hate to have to protect you
  984. >the thick of the action.
  985. "im sorry Aryanne, but your job is going to get really hard, really fast."
  986. >perfect for Roselights first day.
  987. >reaching into your pocket your fingers caress the Amulet stored there
  988. >hopefully it will be enough.
  990. >you are Marble Sunset
  991. >you have dispatched several machine gun squads to the roofs of the taller buildings
  992. >if Manos was right and they are just a hiding place for a Equestria ambush, you didint want to have too few ponies there to repel it.
  993. >nor did you want to pull more than nessisary away from other positions
  994. >there is a delicate balance that you hope you have found.
  995. >"Marble, the royals have made their way into the city."
  996. "do you know where they are heading?"
  997. >quickly the pony lays out his map and weighs it down with bits of rock an rubble
  998. >he glances over the map trying to find your current location for reference
  999. >once its found he places his hoof down on it
  1000. >"if this is our current location, then the Royalists have already pushed in here and... here, though thats just ground forces. With their batponies and pegasi they have taken a few smaller locations around the city"
  1001. "where is the bulk of the force located? Equestrias quite enjoy bunching up for attacks and trying to roll over whats in their way"
  1002. >"honestly sir, im not quite sure.. but with these two locations being the only ways the Royals have come in, id say one or both of those."
  1003. >If Celestia is really leading these ponies, then she needs to be your primary target.
  1004. >she will likely be where the battle is most brutal, doing what she can to turn the tide
  1005. >and if thats the case, Manos will likely be there too.
  1006. "find me the location of Princess Celestia. wherever she is, that will be our priority engagement zone."
  1007. >"yes sir, ill inform the troops to be on the lookout and report anything relating to her directly to you."
  1009. >you are Roselight
  1010. >and what a lovely day for a battle
  1011. >as commanded you stay close to your lord protecting him from any attackers
  1012. >your body, your armor, your being, is now his shield.
  1013. >just ahead a small force of Equestrians have spotted Manos and have already begun to charge
  1014. >"clear me a path. If you would be so kind."
  1015. "with pleasure lord Manos."
  1016. >even a shield can still be used as a weapon.
  1017. >you take your position in front of Manos as blasts of magic come from the charging ponies
  1018. >the machine gun on your armor roars to life
  1019. >those smart enough to hide or put up a defense are spared from its wrath, leaving the others to perish
  1020. >instead of letting those behind their magic remain undisturbed you continually fire bursts into their shields while advancing closer
  1021. >soon enough you are close enough to see the fear in their eyes and you stop firing and instead charge into them
  1022. >your body and armor collide with the first defensive spell shattering it and leaving the unicorn exposed
  1023. >the momentum from your bash keeps moving your forward making contact with the terrified spell caster knocking her to the ground
  1024. >a quickly as you can, you train your weapon on her and fire
  1025. >a splash of blood and a cut off scream is your reward before a sudden blast of magic hits you from behind
  1026. >the pony behind you has dropped his shield and has started doing whatever her can to attempt to bring you down
  1027. >large chunks of rubble are already floating around him preparing to be launched at you
  1028. >just as one is hurled at you the magic surrounding it changes color and slowly comes to a stop
  1029. >the unicorn throws another, just for it to be caught and stopped just the previous one
  1030. >in a panic he looks around for the cause
  1031. >he finds it in the smile and glowing horn of Cadence, the only princess to see the righteousness of Manos' cause.
  1032. >"Princess Caden--"
  1033. >the rocks are sent flying back at the pony
  1034. >and he was too distracted to put up any sort of defense against them.
  1035. "the way is clear lord Manos."
  1036. >you turn back to face the group and you give a glare under your helmet to Cadence
  1037. >she should not have assisted you unless it was required...
  1039. >you are Celestia
  1040. >the streets of Vanhoover are a shadow of what they once were.
  1041. >the sound of Manos' weapons still ring out growing ever louder and numerous the further in your ponies go
  1042. >you need to be with them.
  1043. >keeping a close watch over your safety is a group of royal guards who have either been separated from their captains, or simply too afraid to get too far from you
  1044. >Judice Lunae and her night guard are nowhere to be found...
  1045. >"Princess, what are your orders?"
  1046. >a female earth pony donning your royal guard armor walks to your side
  1047. >her eyes are filled with fear but she still keeps a hold of herself
  1048. >you will keep her safe after all.
  1049. >thats what you promised them.
  1050. "we are going to find as many of my ponies as we can.. if we stick together we have a better chance of success..."
  1051. >Manos and his ponies will pick you apart if you split up into small groups
  1052. >the weapons they wield will make sure of that...
  1053. >>"over there!"
  1054. >above you in a building are several ponies in darkened uniforms pointing at you and quickly turning one of their larger weapons at you
  1055. >>"call it in! we need to keep them here as long as we-"
  1056. >with your magic you reach out and grab the ponies pulling them down to you and your companions
  1057. >they struggle against your grip but they cannot escape
  1058. >one holds a crystal in his hoof and appeared to be trying to speak to it
  1059. "what have you done with my citizens!"
  1060. >the one with the crystal spits his response at you
  1061. >>"they are somewhere safe! safe and away from you and your sister!"
  1062. >"how could you say they are safe then?!"
  1063. >the pony from before shouts at your captives
  1064. >"how could anypony think they are safe if they are with you!"
  1065. >the stallion in your grip glares back at her
  1066. >>"i could say the same for you Royalist! haven't you heard of the Canterlot Crimes?!"
  1067. "the what?"
  1068. >>"dont act like you dont know Princess, your sister ordered the execution of the royal guards in canterlot.. and anyone she even remotely suspected of assisting the Reich"
  1070. >you are Manos
  1071. >and there are muffled voices coming from your pocket
  1072. >reaching in you pull out one of the communication crystals given to you
  1073. >as it comes out the conversation becomes clearer
  1074. >"my sister is not a criminal! you are being told lies!"
  1075. >both you and Cadence recognize the voice immediately
  1076. >slowly you bring the crystal closer and listen in
  1078. >you are Celestia again
  1079. >these ponies cant be telling the truth.
  1080. >there is no way Luna would do these things or be able to hide them from you.
  1081. >but.. it would explain why she sent you so suddenly...
  1082. "no, you have just been tricked by Manos and his lies."
  1083. >>"its not Manos who i heard it from. Nor was it any of my brothers and sisters before you accuse them."
  1084. >the other captive speaks from behind his comrade
  1085. >>>"its true, these stories have come from ponies fleeing your cities! fleeing your sister!"
  1086. >they are too far gone.
  1087. >they truly believe you and Equestria are in the wrong.
  1088. >even after over a thousand years of peace, they think you are wrong.
  1089. "take them captive."
  1090. >you look back to your ponies
  1091. "they can provide us with information about the city.."
  1092. >you release them from your magic as your guards secure them
  1093. >the one pony with the crystal smiles back at you smugly as he is taken away
  1094. >>"Celesita.."
  1095. "what..."
  1096. >the pony drops the crystal at your feet as he is walked past you
  1097. >>"Manos would probably like to say a few words..."
  1098. >you stare at the pony confused before a voice comes from the ground by your hooves
  1099. >more specifically from the crystal laying there
  1100. >"its been a while Princess. How is your sister?"
  1101. >hesitantly you bring the crystal closer with your magic
  1102. "Manos?"
  1103. >"indeed, im glad to hear from you again Princess, I hope things are going well for you."
  1104. >the ponies around you are getting the same level of enjoyment out of his tone as you are.
  1105. >which is to say, very little.
  1106. "Manos, how many lives to you tend to ruin before this comes to an end?"
  1107. >"ah, so rude, but i cant be to upset, i was going to say the same to you."
  1108. "Manos! you have single-handedly brought more death and destruction to Equestria than any point in our history! and yet ponies somehow love you for it."
  1109. >you dont even notice the tears beginning to steam down your face
  1110. "you have spent your entire time in Equestria changing it into your own personal toy box, you dont even care about the lives of all those you harm in the process!"
  1111. >there is no response from Manos, so you continue
  1112. "for once, just think of all the families and lives you are destroying with every decision you have made. How can you do this and still find a way to think you are in the right when all you do is cause-"
  1113. >another voice interrupts you from the crystal
  1114. >>"Dont you DARE blame Manos."
  1115. "Cadence?"
  1116. >>"This war didnt even have to come to be Celestia, Manos has offered on many occasions a chance at peace!"
  1117. "do you really believe that he would have-"
  1118. >>"You have refused to end this Celestia, not him! And your actions have cost many more lives than Manos' have. For thousands of years you and Luna have led Equestria and were seen as the most powerful beings in existance, yet ponies lived in fear, fear of predators, fear of chaos, and fear of your sister!"
  1120. >you are Manos
  1121. >and you just stand back and smile as Cadence is doing your dirty work for you.
  1122. >she has the crystal gripped tightly in her magic and is ranting at her Auntie loud enough for even the ponies in the buildings to hear her
  1123. >if you look close enough you can even see small cracks in the crystal from the pressure of her grip
  1124. >she is such a pretty pony when she is angry.
  1125. >just like her Auntie.
  1126. "Cadence, would you be so kind as to give my back my crystal."
  1127. >you hold out your hand and Cadence's eyes nearly burn a hole into the poor thing before she finally places it in your palm
  1128. >the look in her eyes clearly shows that she wants to say more to defend you and villainize Celestia but she keeps quiet
  1129. >"Cadence im sorry that things between us have been strained, but you need to understand that-"
  1130. "its me again. And while im sure you two could go on for days theres a little bit of a war going on."
  1131. >"I dont know what you did to convince her that you are the good one in this fight Anonymous, but your lies will be exposed one day."
  1132. >...
  1133. >what did she call you?
  1134. >now its your turn then and you're done playing games
  1135. >you bring the crystal close to your lips so everything you say will be as clear as day
  1136. "Princess... You want a chance to end this war?"
  1137. >for a moment there is silence then came a determined "Yes"
  1138. >you look around at your surroundings searching for anything that sticks out clearly
  1139. >eventually you find what you are looking for
  1140. >there is a small park left nearly untouched besides a few small craters here and there
  1141. >a signreads "welcome to Flora Park"
  1142. "Ill be waiting for you at Flora park. We can settle this dispute face to face."
  1143. >with that you drop the already cracked and weakened crystal to the ground
  1144. >you dont need to hear Celestia
  1145. "Aryanne. I have orders for you."
  1147. >you are Roselight
  1148. >did Celestia call Lord Manos "Anonymous"?
  1149. >its possible you could have been mistaken, as you were more concerned with the likelihood of royal guards attacking from anywhere
  1150. >you shift uneasily in your armor as you look to see Manos speaking in private with Aryanne and Cadence
  1151. >blessed with the chance to be one of Manos' personal guard the need to keep an eye on anyone and everyone comes over you
  1152. >that includes Cadence, the Equestrian princess and temptress
  1153. >just because she seems to dislike Celestia, does not mean she wont have her own motives.
  1154. >the only creature who has your complete trust, is Lord Manos.
  1155. >no one else.
  1157. >you are Manos
  1158. "is that understood Aryanne?"
  1159. >Aryanne responds with a salute
  1160. >"yes sir! ill have it set as soon as possible."
  1161. "I wont take any chances Aryanne. I want everything that can be spared dedicated to it."
  1162. >an eager smile comes over her face as she ends the salute
  1163. >"I am your shield Manos, this mission is my day to day job. I will not disappoint you."
  1164. >you smile back at her and pat her shoulder
  1165. "I know you wont Aryanne. I know you wont."
  1166. >with that she leaves to carry out your orders while Cadence takes Aryanne's place
  1167. >"Manos, I know you must be concerned about Celestia to some extent. I just want to tell you that im by your side no matter what."
  1168. >she extends her wing around you and smiles softly though her eyes clearly have worry there is also a hidden excitement in them
  1169. "Thank you Cadence, I know you are always here for me."
  1170. >"I just thought you might want to hear me say it. Sometimes its just what someone needs in a stressful time"
  1171. >you move in close to the pink Alicorn and embrace her in your arms
  1172. >she gladly returns the embrace before bringing you in for a kiss
  1173. >as you kiss her you are reminded of your initial reason for letting this romance blossom
  1174. >and you want to think thats the reason you have kept her so close to you.
  1175. >but you would be lying to yourself if you didn't acknowledge your own growing affection for her
  1176. >as the kiss ends you look into her beautiful purple eyes
  1177. "Cadence"
  1178. >"yes Manos?"
  1179. "I want you to know that no matter what Celestia does or says, I love you"
  1180. >her eyes water and she kisses you again
  1181. >"I know Manos, I love you too. More than Ive ever loved anyone"
  1182. >Shining is probably turning in his grave right now.
  1185. >you are Roselight
  1186. >the sounds of battle are echoing throughout the city around you
  1187. >and yet Manos remains here in a unprotected area of Vanhoover standing in the center of a park waiting for his enemies to come to him
  1188. >if this is what being his personal guard is like, then you have already gained some more respect for Aryanne and her ponies.
  1189. >a small sound echos in your armors helmet, singling that the crystal powering it is starting to run low
  1190. >hopefully this armors former operator has replaced the reserve crystal since the initial attack
  1191. >already the armor has become slightly heavier
  1192. >from the corner of your eye you spot a royal guard walking down the street
  1193. >the mare spots you just as you raise your weapon and take aim
  1194. >"wait! WAIT! dont fire!"
  1195. >Manos looks over from the center of the park where he is sitting with Cadence to you and the mare
  1196. "You wear the armor of my foe, and are attacking what is now rightfully his city."
  1197. >the mare closes her eyes and readies herself for you to fire while still speaking
  1198. >"We were told to meet with Manos here! please dont fire!"
  1199. >just before you fire your machine gun you feel it lifted and removed from your armor by magic and tossed aside
  1200. >another voice comes from your side
  1201. >>"We have had to face more than enough violence and death to get here my little pony."
  1202. >turning to face the new threat you come face to face with Princess Celestia herself you own weapon in her magic
  1203. >you stare on at the Princess of Equestria from within your helmet
  1204. "no more than you deserve tyrant."
  1206. >you are Manos
  1207. >once you saw the glow of Celestias magic disarm Roselight you and Cadence have made your way over to the aggressive mares
  1208. "Princess, Lay down the weapon. This Mare is one of my personal guard, she is just doing her job."
  1209. >Celestia looks over to you an unreadable expression on her face
  1210. >"and what of the Guards in the employ of Equestria? they were innocent of crimes yet they have been met with worse... fates."
  1211. >you smile, amused at her choice of words
  1212. "I couldn't agree more, your sister has been putting her hoof down rather harshly on her own, hasn't she?"
  1213. >her expression becomes a glare and she turns the weapon to you
  1214. >as she does Roselight charges into her with all her might and the added weight of her armor
  1215. >the weapon drops from her grip as the two collide
  1216. >Celestia doesnt fall but she is shocked that an unarmed earth pony would charge into her like that
  1217. "did you ever once start to think about why my ponies follow me so faithfully? why the numbers of my citizens keep growing while yours drop?"
  1218. >she remains silent but her eyes say that she is indeed curious
  1219. >you motion to the weapon on the ground
  1220. "I provide safety for them, I give them the ability to become more than what they were not as individuals but as a whole."
  1221. >you look around to the city completely turning your back to the Princess
  1222. "look at Vanhoover! its only been a few days and yet its been captured, fortified, and made ready for your attack. The weapons being used made and manufactured by ponies in the Reich to make them stronger than anything they have ever seen before."
  1223. >"so you offer them weapons to kill each other? thats what they want? forgive me for not being eager to do the same.."
  1224. >you sigh
  1225. >clearly she doesnt get it.
  1226. "No celestia, thats not what I mean, I give them reason to not be afraid of things stronger than they are! instead of cowering and waiting for someone like you or I to help solve a problem they overcome it!"
  1227. >your turn back to her again
  1228. "in your thousand years or more as the Princess of Equestria how often has the guard actually solved a problem? have they put a stopped beasts attacking? no. Have they prevented crimes and war?"
  1229. >you look to Roselight and then Cadence, both of which are wearing either armor or a uniform with your mark
  1230. "apparently not..."
  1231. >"Manos. the other ponies here might believe in what you are saying, they might think they are doing what they believe is best, but Equestria has been at peace for generations, there has been to conflict, no reason for them to need the weapons you now create!"
  1232. >she is right in that regard. But she has failed to see the world as a whole.
  1233. "Equestria hasnt had need for them, you are correct. They have not had a battle or war with lives being lost like this in ages. But what of the rest of the world Celestia? the Griffon Kingdom was more than willing to start a fight, the Zebras eager to gain new lands, and the bat ponies have swarmed into your military once Luna, who now kills your own guards to secure her own control, has returned to military command. Equestria hasnt had need of the weapons in the past, but you were failing to see the future."
  1235. >you are Celestia
  1236. "Failing to see the future!? Manos anything that would have been a threat to Equestria before you came could have been overcome"
  1237. >"by you or the Elements correct!? not by your ponies! or even by common sense!"
  1238. >Manos reaches into his pocket and pulls out the Amulet
  1239. >"Do you even know where I got this?! this Powerful artifact that can rival your elements of Harmony?!"
  1240. >the thought never really occurred to you before.
  1241. >you were always so concerned with Manos having it, yet you never thought of where it was found
  1242. "Where did-"
  1243. >"it was being sold in a shop for a handful of bits! and it was going to be purchased by a pony to use for revenge! and you wouldnt have had any idea until it was too late."
  1244. >the Amulet starts to glow in Manos' grip
  1245. >"And Sombra, Sombra possessed another. instead of securing that you just let it go without a fuss, whats more it was in the same place as another one! Each of these items of immense power were jut laying around Celestia, Laying around under your nose."
  1246. "Manos you cannot expect me to know where everything in Equestria is!"
  1247. >your words fall on deaf ears
  1248. >Manos continues to rant at you
  1249. >"and to top it all off Celesita you are doing it again..."
  1250. >the Amulet slowly stops glowing and Manos starts to control himself again
  1251. >"but this time its not a item of power being carelessly unattended. Its a power hungry sister."
  1253. >you are Judice Lunae
  1254. >you stand with your lunar guard in a building overlooking the Princess and Manos' meeting
  1255. >from here you can easily see the large force of Black Hands moving around the park
  1256. >most of them are wearing the same armor as the pony who attacked Celestia
  1257. >"Lunae, Celestia is in danger, what are your orders?"
  1258. >the guard takes a step forward ready to follow your orders
  1259. >with a hoof your block his advance
  1260. "we do nothing."
  1261. >"nothing? are you sure thats-"
  1262. >you silence the lunar guard with a glare
  1263. "My orders came from Princess Luna herself. disobey and you will be labeled a traitor to Equestria, and no better than those Hands down there."
  1264. >looking back down at the scene all you can see is Manos standing there.
  1265. >Standing there and thinking hes won...
  1266. "Not all of your plans will work as well as you imagine them to, sir..."
  1268. >you are Aryanne
  1269. >the block around the park has been surrounded by a mixed force of Operators and Black Hands
  1270. >Marble offered to send a few tanks he had kept in reserve but they aren't exactly quiet
  1271. >the suits of armor themselves are already pushing it when it comes to setting up an ambush
  1272. >in the park you can see Manos Cadence and Aryanne standing with Celestia
  1273. >some of course more eager to see the Princess than others
  1274. >you'd be surprised if Cadence has said a single word to her by the way she is glaring at her.
  1275. >"Commander we are in position. Give the word and we will advance and bring this conflict to an end."
  1276. "good, stay in position until i give the word... Manos was clear on what he wanted me to wait for."
  1277. >the Operator gives you a nod but keeps his weapon ready
  1278. >Everything has gone just as Manos has wanted.
  1280. >you are Manos
  1281. >Celestia slowly approaches you and soon the two of you are face to face a mere inches apart
  1282. >"Anonymous."
  1283. "Its Manos Celestia. it has been since I gave my life for the safety of these ponies, and so it will remain."
  1284. >Ignoring your correction she continues her thought
  1285. >"Anonymous, you pass judgement on others without taking the time to see the consequences of your own actions. You have lied and deceived ponies some of which i may never share a bond with again."
  1286. >she is of course speaking of Cadence
  1287. >"even so, some of your words have truth in them, perhaps I have made a few mistakes with my ponies."
  1288. "Its a little late for apologi-"
  1289. >the Princess raises her voice possibly loud enough for everyone in vanhoover to hear
  1290. >"This is no apology Anonymous!"
  1291. >again she refuses to use your name
  1292. >"What you have done, what you continue to do, will only cause pain and suffering in the end. And I will not allow you to continue!"
  1293. >your hand snaps to your sidearm but your are too slow
  1294. >the Princesses horn is aglow as you are caught in a aura of magic and immobilized
  1295. >"Anonymous, I have said this before but i assure you this will be the last time I do."
  1296. >the grip around your head loosens enough so you can speak
  1297. >"Stop this fighting and let Equestria take possession of the Elements of Chaos. The lives of too many ponies are at stake"
  1298. >for a moment, held the the grip of the Princess of the sun all you can do is stare at her
  1299. >her mane flows blissfully in the wind and her violet eyes look to you with a mix of rage and hope
  1300. >the hope that you will finally listen to her reasoning
  1301. >the hope that this conflict should somehow come to and end here
  1302. >and the hope that you were lying about her sister.
  1303. "Celestia.."
  1304. >your voice is soft and relaxed
  1305. >you speak as if it was just the two of you, like when you both stood in the Ardennes
  1306. "I wish I could-"
  1307. >suddenly a blast of magic collides with Celestias side and her grip on you is released dropping you to the ground
  1308. >by the time you stand back up Celestia has turned her attention to her attacker
  1309. >>"Celestia you are a liar, a fool, and blinded by your own false truths!"
  1310. >Another blast is sent at her which she quickly dispels before it can reach her
  1311. >"Cadence I-"
  1312. >Roselight then charges into her again from the opposite side catching her off guard
  1313. >the mechanical voice of her armor rings out
  1314. >>>"you have brought Equestria to ruin with your inaction, and made her ponies weak and undisciplined"
  1315. >>"your own lies have made you unable to hear truth anymore, Manos is doing this for the betterment of our ponies!"
  1316. >now you have your weapon in hand and the amulet in the other
  1317. >the three of you have Celestia surrounded and her attention divided
  1318. "Celestia you gave me the choice to surrender to you and end this fight. Now I offer you the same! surrender yourself and I promise that those under your command will be treated well and the citizens here left unharmed!"
  1319. >the side of your uniform now looking like a dull shade of red from the glow of the Amulet
  1320. "If you truly want this to end, then you dont have a choice."
  1321. >you fire a single round from your weapon into the air and for a moment Celestia looks more than ready to fight her way out
  1322. >then your Hands start to come from their positions with weapons at the ready
  1323. >Operators in fully powered suits lead groups of infantry closer and closer
  1324. >some even have royal guard captives at gunpoint but again, no Lunar guard ponies are to be seen
  1325. "well Celestia? your ponies await your decision."
  1326. >taking a moment Celestia weighs her options
  1327. >she looks around to each of you and to her once loyal ponies in their black uniforms
  1328. >perhaps she is taking their lives into account along with her own.
  1329. >whatever the case may be, she sighs and looks to the ground visibly deflating at what she has decided
  1330. >"Anonymous, i surrender myself to you not for myself, but for my ponies."
  1331. >you calmly bring your weapon back to its holster
  1332. "you have made the right choice"
  1334. >you are Judice Lunae
  1335. >and Lunas plan has gone just as expected
  1336. "give the order to pull back to Canterlot, or mission was a success"
  1337. >the guards hesitate for a brief moment and look to the Princess of the sun surrounded by Hands
  1338. >"Lunae, are you sure that-"
  1339. >you strike the lunar guard to the ground and stand over him
  1340. "I said give the order. the Princesses sacrifice was nessisary for Equestria to survive."
  1341. >the other guards quickly give you a salute
  1342. >>"right away Lunae! as the Princess of the moon wills it"
  1343. >swiftly the guards rush out of the building out of sight of the Hands
  1344. >you calmly take your leave opting to take the stairs due to lack of magic or wings
  1345. >getting back to Canterlot will take you some time, but eventually you will make it.
  1346. >you just need to get out of the city
  1348. >you are Starlight Glimmer
  1349. >and as scheduled the pony you spoke with has returned with a group of his own
  1350. >the foreign ponies carry with them a decent sized crate placing it in the center of your office.
  1351. >your own ponies walk over to the crate and prepare to open it but are stopped by a larger stallion with a golden tooth
  1352. >its rather disgusting and a bit irritating to look at if you are being honest
  1353. >but you remain silent just smiling calmly at the pony
  1354. >"not so fast there.. we need our end of the bargain first."
  1355. >you puff out your chest while maintaining your smile and stride over to the large stallion
  1356. "ah yes... your bits."
  1357. >you lead the pony away from his group and over to your desk where you pull out a sizable bag and place it in front of him on the floor
  1358. >as he bends over to open the bag the sounds of a scuffle come from behind the two of you
  1359. >with your magic you grip your staff tightly and just as the stallion turns around you strike him down
  1360. >your comrades continue to bludgeon the other ponies as they lay on the ground beating them into submission
  1361. "now comrade, surely you see that the good of the group comes before the needs of the individual.."
  1362. >you lift the bag and place it back on the desk the bits inside left untouched and walk over to the crate
  1363. >your fellow ponies drag the beaten captives out of your way as you open it
  1364. >once the top comes off you peer inside
  1365. >there is a special kind of twinkle in your eyes as you pull out one of the many items inside
  1366. >this particular item is a tome, sealed with a golden lock and a bright pink jewel placed in the center
  1367. "well isnt this a fine piece of literature."
  1368. >despite the lock itself being gold the mechanisms inside are not allowing you to unlock it with your magic
  1369. >you can hear the stallion behind you on the ground start to cough and rise to his hooves
  1370. >"you stupid whorse.. do you know who we are?"
  1371. >one of your ponies quickly makes his way over and kicks the stallion back to the floor as you read the contents of the tome
  1372. "you are a simple casino gang, you think you are much more important than anyone else but you will see that all of us are equal to one another."
  1373. >your eyes find a rather interesting spell inside the book
  1374. "perhaps sooner than i expected.."
  1376. >you are Judice Lunae
  1377. >by the time you reach your planned exit of the building the Hands have started to move.
  1378. >in the distance you can see Manos and company lead the princess away from the park
  1379. "im sorry I couldn't catch up sir, but im afraid my orders prevent it."
  1380. >"did you hear something?"
  1381. >shit
  1382. >>"it came from in there."
  1383. >quickly you duck back inside the building as two Black Hands walk inside
  1384. >your dark armor hides you pretty well in the darkened corner room
  1385. >just enough to where they dont see you from the light of the door
  1386. >they walk in a bit closer and their attention turns to you just as you kick a chair at the furthest one
  1387. >it knocks him to the ground and you charge the other
  1388. >luckily you were close enough that in his panic he was too slow to raise his weapon
  1389. >you smash into him your armor adding to the impact
  1390. >as he staggers your draw your sword and slash into his neck
  1391. >as he grips his throat desperate to contain the fluid you turn back to the Hand under the chair
  1392. >....
  1393. >make that the Hand pointing his weapon at you
  1394. >slowly you take a step forward as the pony looks at his dying friend
  1395. >and as you finish your step his attention is back on you
  1396. "put it down."
  1397. >"so you can slice me up too? i think not."
  1398. >the pony takes a step back keeping distance from you
  1399. >you're not close enough to charge him
  1400. >if you did he would likely gun you down before you made it far.
  1401. "are you a good shot?"
  1402. >you cant show your fear
  1403. >if you do they get the upper hoof on you
  1404. >"th-the best!"
  1405. >his voice is shaky and he stumbles slightly over some trash in the room but he never breaks visual
  1406. >you force yourself to chuckle
  1407. >kinda hard to do when there is a weapon pointed at you, but you make it work
  1408. >just enough to make him uneasy
  1409. "better hope you are.. if you hit anywhere that has armor ill be left unharmed... cant say the same for you though."
  1410. >you take another step to the side
  1411. >he does the same in the opposite direction, this time without stumbling
  1412. >he quickly glances to his still gurgling partner then back to you
  1413. >"dont worry buddy, help is coming, just hang in there."
  1414. "he wont be able to get help if im here. You know that, and so does he."
  1415. >you glance over to the exit
  1416. "so i think we have two options. One, we both go our own ways and your friend gets help, or two, you fire and hope and pray you kill me with your first shot."
  1417. >the two of you stare at each other for another moment the sounds of the Hand starting to fade away on the floor
  1418. "so? what will it be?"
  1419. >the Hand slowly lowers his weapon with a nod of his head
  1420. >"okay... okay go then! get out of here so i can get help."
  1421. >victory
  1422. >you keep your eyes on him as you walk towards the exit you decided was best
  1423. >before you leave you turn back to the Hand who has already started to do his best to slow the bleeding
  1424. "you can give this to Manos when you see him. im sure he will know what it means."
  1425. >you pull out your little card with his mark and toss it over to him as best you can
  1426. >it flutters to the ground a few feet away but he gets the message
  1427. "till next time, traitor."
  1428. >with that you step out of the building and begin to make your way out of the city
  1429. >mission accomplished
  1431. >you are Manos
  1432. >your travel down the streets of Vanhoover goes smoothly
  1433. >those ponies still engaging with one another soon come to a stop once they see that Celestia is now into captivity
  1434. >the news apparently traveled fast, as by the time you have made it back to Marble and the large dome almost all of the fighting in Vanhoover had come to a stop
  1435. >"what is to become of Vanhoover Anonymous?"
  1436. "this city will be rebuilt and cared for by the Reich.. and its ponies will be given citizenship after an adjustment period."
  1437. >looking over the city you imagine with the aid of magic the repairs shouldnt take too long.
  1438. >in fact, it quite possibly be rebuilt better than before with a few adjustments.
  1439. >in the distance you can see Marble and a few other ponies make their way over to you and your newly captured Princess
  1440. "speaking of the Vanhoovites.."
  1441. >your Hands greet you with a firm salute
  1442. >as does Marble
  1443. >for a moment he is distracted by the sight of Celestia but gets a hold of himself
  1444. >>"Manos sir, almost the entirety of Vanhoover has been secured, the remaining Royalists are being rounded up as we speak."
  1445. "im glad everything went so smoothly. Any luck with making contact with the ponies inside the barrier?"
  1446. >you notice that Marble gulped slightly at your question and before he can speak you silence him
  1447. "it doesnt matter, im sure they would rather hear its safe to let the barrier down from the Princess herself."
  1448. >you look over to the Princess from the corner of your eye to gage her reaction
  1449. >she remains steadfast and accepting
  1450. >honestly you expected nothing less.
  1451. >despite her few slip ups at previous meetings she for the most part has kept a rather good poker face.
  1452. >>"Sir, I would like to request that our medical teams treat the wounded based on severity.."
  1453. >how else would they treat them?
  1454. "what do you mean Marble? that is the standard method of operating in a situation like this isn't it?"
  1455. >Marble adjusts himself slightly and one of the other Hands step forward.
  1456. >>>"What Marble is... suggesting sir, is that OUR ponies take the time to treat the wounded Royalists. In some cases, before our own. sir."
  1457. >its easy to see that the two ponies have clearly been discussing this prior to speaking with you
  1458. >>"Yes sir, that is what im requesting. Even if they are our enemies, they are still ponies of Equestria which we all were at some point."
  1459. >the stallion huffs at his words
  1460. >>>"speak for yourself, dull-coat. The Reich has been my home since Manos freed us from Sombra. Equestrians are Equestrians."
  1461. >Marble ignores the insult and waits for your response
  1462. >As does Celestia along with the rest of your company
  1463. >honestly the answer is an easy one.
  1464. "your request is approved Marble."
  1465. >you turn to Roselight
  1466. "Roselight, please go with Marble and make sure that no one give him any trouble and to confirm my approval."
  1467. >Roselight remains silent for a time before the sound of her armor opening up breaks the tension
  1468. >within a few moments she is out of the suit and her helmet is removed
  1469. >"of course Lord. I go where you ask"
  1470. "good. once everything is taken care of report to Aryanne she will have something for you to assist with im sure.
  1472. >you are Prince Rutherford
  1473. >Prince of YakYakistan
  1474. >for many moons your lands have been kept safe by your policy of solitude
  1475. >and just as you decide to reach out to Equestria and the other civilizations you are at war.
  1476. >"WAR! WAR! WAR! WAR!"
  1477. >the voices of your strong and mighty Yak soldiers echo around your keep
  1478. >you culture has always been ever ready and able to go to war with anyone that offended you.
  1479. >and Equestria, by killing innocent traders with your new friends in the Reich have definitely done that.
  1480. >you yourself are eager to repay the favor but you have just one problem...
  1481. >sitting on your throne you look over your outdated maps of "Equestria"
  1482. "Yaks have not fought war in many moons...."
  1483. >and you dont know the first thing about fighting a war
  1484. >fighting? sure.
  1485. >fighting a war? not a clue.
  1486. >"Yak prince Rutherford"
  1487. >you peer through your bangs to the dark hared yak standing before you
  1488. "yes? what yak want?"
  1489. >"the raids have stopped. and we are ready to bring the Reich their Yetis."
  1490. "very well. Yaks send yetis to Reich as promised."
  1491. >just then you get an idea and quickly sit up in your throne
  1492. >your bangs flip away from your eyes from the speed of your movement
  1493. >The Reich!
  1494. "Yak Prince go too! i need to speak with Reich leader Manos!"
  1495. >you may not now how to fight a war.
  1496. >but you know from the stories that the Reich does.
  1497. >perhaps another deal can be made.
  1499. >you are Manos
  1500. >Celestia, Cadence and yourself are standing a few feet away from the dome in Vanhoover
  1501. >when you first arrived the royal guards didnt even bother to confront you
  1502. >they remained at their posts just watching you
  1503. >that is until you brought Celestia over, then suddenly you had the full attention of the lookouts
  1504. >now you are just waiting for the pony in charge to show up
  1505. "Marble, that pony from before"
  1506. >it takes Celestia a minute to notice its her you are talking to
  1507. "He is a good pony, war doesn't really suit him."
  1508. >you glance over to the princess as you clean the outside of your weapon to pass the time
  1509. >"War doesnt suit anypony Anonymous."
  1510. >you nod slightly with a chuckle
  1511. "indeed. But i think thats what makes him perfect for it."
  1512. >Celestia gives you a quizzical look and takes a set forward only to be blocked by Cadence
  1513. >"what do you mean?"
  1514. >you flip the safety of your weapon on and holster it again
  1515. "you saw the other pony, the Crystal one, yes? he wanted to treat the wounded by nationality first, which from a military view makes sense. However Marble Sunset doesnt think that way"
  1516. >Celestia is about to say something, but the royal guard in charge arrives
  1517. >>"Princess?! what has happened?"
  1518. >you say nothing and just look to Celestia to do her part.
  1519. >she looks at the pony seeing the worry in his eyes
  1520. >"please, dispel the barrier. Manos has promised the safety of those inside if I surrendered peacefully."
  1521. >>"Princess are you sure?"
  1522. >you can almost see a tear form in her eye but its held back and disappears
  1523. >"yes, Im sure."
  1524. >>"as you say Princess... I shall inform everypony of your orders."
  1525. >the pony and his companions eventually leave your sight far inside the dome
  1526. "almost all the civilians we could find are in there by the way.."
  1527. >this time you dont look at Celestia and instead watch the large formation of lunar guards flying above the clouds leave Vanhoover
  1528. >you wonder how many of those batponies actually fought in the battle...
  1529. >and you also wonder what the purpose of sending them was if they didn't fight.
  1530. >surely Luna would want to keep Vanhoover?
  1531. >what could possibly be here that she is willing to lose to you?
  1532. >"You gave up the civilians to my ponies? why?"
  1533. >it clicks in your mind what Lunas plan was at the sound of her voice
  1534. >but instead of looking at her you turn your attention to the crowd of ponies gathering just as the barrier falls
  1535. "no, Celestia not I. You can thank Marble for that."
  1537. >you are Blackout
  1538. >you sit in the small wood just outside Vanhoover with Queenie
  1539. >she has been far quieter than normal.
  1540. >at first it was nice to have a bit of peace but its starting to worry you.
  1541. >although you would never admit to worrying about a parasite like her
  1542. >looking over you see her staring at the grass as she lay under a tree, her black carapace almost blending into the dark wood
  1543. "Bug, whats wrong?"
  1544. >subtle
  1545. >she jumps out of her trance at the sound of your voice
  1546. >"nothings wrong."
  1547. >shes lying.
  1548. >you walk over and sit down right in front of her, letting your helmet open up to reveal your face
  1549. >she looks at you for a long while, with tears still fresh in her eyes
  1550. "you're lying to me, whats wrong?"
  1551. >she takes her hoof and wipes the last remaining bits of water from her face
  1552. >"that pony died.."
  1553. >you tilt your head a bit in confusion
  1554. "yeah? this is war. Ponies die.. I-"
  1555. >you cough into your hoof to keep yourself from remembering a few things you've done
  1556. "It was the best way to keep her from turning us in. you made the right call"
  1557. >for some reason your words dont seem to help her cope.
  1558. >in fact the tears in her eyes begin to return again
  1559. "I killed a pony.. I killed a pony so that a monster could live"
  1560. >is she referring to herself?
  1561. "I thought I could be different than those other parasites. those other beasts! but im not, i killed a pony with my own fangs and whats worse, when i was doing it i felt nothing, only after it happened did i regret my actions."
  1562. >she quickly wraps you in a hug catching you completely by surprise
  1563. "Blackout how can you do it? how to you cope with knowing that a pony with a normal purposeful life has ended?"
  1564. >you close your eyes and let Queenie hug you
  1565. >its not fair
  1566. >why does she get to be the innocent one..
  1567. "Im sorry Queenie."
  1568. >shes the parasite, why does she care if a life has ended?!
  1569. >and why dont you care anymore when you end one!
  1570. >now you find yourself hugging her back, your own tears forming in your eyes
  1571. >damn parasite...
  1573. >you are Manos
  1574. >Vanhoover is finally and utterly in your control
  1575. >citizens that were under the protection of the Royalists now are your own to care for
  1576. >and you shall care for them, starting with the city itself.
  1577. >the captive royal guard who have surrendered to you will make a excellent labor force for such a project
  1578. >and its one you sure they wont have too much of an issue with.
  1579. >whats bad about wanting to fix a battered city?
  1580. "Marble."
  1581. >Marble comes over to you and gives a salute
  1582. >"yes sir?"
  1583. "once all the captives are fed and rested have the local construction crews use them to assist in repairing the city. under guard of our own Hands of course."
  1584. >"sir, you want to use prisoners to rebuild?"
  1585. >you give Marble a short nod
  1586. "indeed, at least until our own crews can arrive from the Reich to assist."
  1587. >Marble seems a bit torn on the idea but agrees none the less
  1588. >"as you command Manos."
  1589. >before he gets to far away you grab his shoulder
  1590. "and Marble... make sure that the Hands guarding them know they are workers, not slaves..."
  1591. >"yes sir, Alright, lets get these ponies moving.. they are going to have a bit of work to do once they get back on their feet!"
  1592. >the line of captives start to move away from the civilian group
  1593. >they already start to mumble about the sudden removal of the guards before you step forward
  1594. >you raise your hand and wait for them to come to a silence
  1595. "Ponies of Vanhoover... The protection and ownership of this city has been passed on to the Reich."
  1596. >peering through the crowd you can see a rather large portion of ponies smile at the news while a few others grumble or flat out object
  1597. "but.. BUT!.. don't let this be seen as a occupation. No, quite the opposite in fact, this is a Liberation! under our protection you will not have to fear the horrors that you have experienced again. under our banner you will be safe and secure for generations to come."
  1600. as of 6/6/2016 this story was put on hold due to a series of personal life events, and picked up a month later on 7/20/2016
  1601. Since there was such a large break I decided to end this part here and continue Manos on Part V.
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