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Fallout: Beyond Equestria 192: Black Rose (Part 11) Full

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  1. <Mare-Do-Well> Previously...
  2. <Mare-Do-Well> Upon approach to Darkness Falls, the Crimson's Caravaners intervened in the attempted assassination of a wealthy pony carrying a briefcase with an odd, golden symbol...
  3. <Mare-Do-Well> ...
  4. * TenMihara is now known as Mitzi
  5. <Mare-Do-Well> "The ghouls of Equestria are being sustained by irradiated water that is hauled into the country from foreign lands by caravans.  But the trips are long and dangerous... and grow moreso every day.  Many good ponies have been lost trying to bring dirty water from the zebra lands.  Soon, it may become too dangerous to continue..."
  6. <Mare-Do-Well> Effigy frowns, "Or the water may become too expensive for many ghouls to afford."
  7. <Mare-Do-Well> Kid grumbles. "Look, is there a point t' this? What 'r we deliverin'? Some sorta balefire talisman or whatsit?"
  8. <Mare-Do-Well> Effigy nods. "Equestria would benefit greatly from having an irradiated zone within our borders. One which provided life-giving irradiated water for the ghouls... and irradiated material we could use to fuel Red Eye's old radiation engines. But thanks to the Gardens of Equestria, no such place exists here.  To create a new one, we would need a balefire bomb."
  9. <Mare-Do-Well> Shatara slowly looks up from his rifle.
  10. <Mare-Do-Well> Kid blinked. "... No. Nonononononono. No. No. You ain't suggestin..."  Kid 's forehooves flop to her side, eyes kind of watering up a bit. "You are suggestin'. Aw, Celestia, you are suggestin' it." Why'd he go and suggest that they find a balefire bomb? Why them?
  11. <Mare-Do-Well> Shatara ponders. "That would certainly explain why the Followers are hiring assasins against us..."
  12. <Mare-Do-Well> ...
  13. <Mare-Do-Well> The /Shadowbolt/ begins to move, picking up speed.  Below, a creature that is mostly a dragon lumbers out of the entrance.  Amethyst scales and ruby-spined, the dragon is covered in black vines that thread in and out of its body, covering him like veins, with bulges of oily pustules and black flowers.  The creature stares up at the ship and roars.
  14. <Mare-Do-Well> Mitzi gasps and slips Hunter behind her. "Wut eez dat?!"
  15. <Mare-Do-Well> The Stripeless react with horror to the sight below.  The translator turns to Shatara, speaking in griffin.  "It is the Black Plague of the Anulus Mortis!"
  16. <Mare-Do-Well> ...
  17. <Mare-Do-Well> Dragon_Lord_Ember frowns.  Then turns to Mitzi.  "In the spirit of building alliances, I can do you a favor in return.  I will send Citrine Glow to accompany you as my ambassador from the Dragonlands."
  18. <Mare-Do-Well> ...
  19. <Mare-Do-Well> Captain Fianchetto asks Get_Lost, "Do you think you could help get the Thunderhead airborne again?"
  20. <Mare-Do-Well> Shatara pomfs.  Mitzi groans. "Great. Bigger flyeen boat."
  21. <Mare-Do-Well> Get_Lost opens her mouth, then thinks for a moment, then closes her mouth and thinks a bit more "i... uh... yeah. i've seen it once already, it could be able to move again. airborne? depends on a lot of factors, but yes, it could be done, if the generators are still in good condition"
  22. <Mare-Do-Well> ...
  23. <Mare-Do-Well> Noble_Heart ruffled her feathers slightly and contemplated this. She was not certain she liked this idea. But right now they did need the help. "We would like your assistance in finding a way to allow the S.P.P. towers to communicate with a radio broadcast and reception system in the dragon lands."
  24. <Mare-Do-Well> ...
  25. <Mare-Do-Well> Mare-Do-Well's thoughts cannot be read, but this isn't unexpected.  The finely-dressed elderly woman has no thoughts that CopyCat can discern.  Effigy, like the elderly woman, has no discernable thoughts.  Copycat cannot read the thoughts of the griffons either.
  26. <Mare-Do-Well> The well-groomed stallion in the medical chair is very surprised, albeit pleasantly so, that the Crimson's Caravaners are here.  His mind is running through several potential ways to interrupt the governmental types and refocus this meeting.  This could be fortuitous.  Also, he wants his bomb.
  27. <Mare-Do-Well> ...
  28. <Mare-Do-Well> "Excuse me, gentleponies and griffins," the goldenrod-colored stallion finally says, nudging a button on his medical chair to make it roll forward.  "Allow me to interject, if only to welcome our guests aboard.  The /Golden Ursa/ is *my ship* after all."
  29. <Mare-Do-Well> CopyCat answers Golden_Dream, after returning to her friends. "I do not know a way to force a changeling to reveal itself," she then mentally adds, [Even if I have suspicions about some of those on deck]
  30. <Mare-Do-Well> Golden_Dream puts on her best angryface. "Yoooou shut yer' ghosty mouth." She then jumps when the goldenrod stallion says something. [Y'all got a stimpack on y'?]
  31. <Mare-Do-Well> The griffins look mildly annoyed but part for Major Tripwire to be greeted by the stallion.  
  32. <Mare-Do-Well> "Please to meet you, Captain...." the major says expectantly.  
  33. <Mare-Do-Well> "Oh no, I'm not a Captain," the stallion says.  "Not of this ship, nor in any sort of military rank.  I /own/ this ship.  I'm /leasing/ it to the Republic for the sake of a diplomatic mission to Roam."  
  34. <Mare-Do-Well> "My name is Golden Buckle, founder of Golden Buckle Enterprises."
  35. <Mare-Do-Well> Noble_Heart stands nearby curiously, listening to the conversation. She contemplated what was going on here. It was... Problematic, to say the least.
  36. <Mare-Do-Well> CopyCat catches another thought from the stallion.  He *really* hopes that the caravan ponies have acquired his bomb.
  37. <Mare-Do-Well> ...
  38. <Mare-Do-Well> Fallout: Beyond Equestria, Session One Hundred and Ninety-Three: Black Rose (Part 11) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fus5O8SxUoo
  39. <Mare-Do-Well> --- Session Begins ---
  40. * icekatze (icekatze@Pony-em3q48.ib1q.5hv8.2d80.2604.IP) has joined
  41. * ChanServ gives channel operator status to icekatze
  42. * CopyCat sends a quick mental message to her friends, emphasizing the airship-owner's fervent hope that they had managed to get a balefire bomb for /him/.
  43. * Golden_Dream sighs, then pinches the top of her nose. [Get th' one who is actually a pony away from here on pretense of workin' out th' deal and tellin' him about some complications with the order and tell him that there be Zebra spies on this here bridge. I'll keep the rest of 'em busy.]
  44. * Noble_Heart steps forwards towards the group discussing things. "We have made a great deal of progress in getting you what you wished when you hired Us. However, We have also uncovered other dangerous plots against Equestria. We also have reason to believe that not all gathered here today are being completely truthful with their intentions."
  45. <Mare-Do-Well> One of the NCR griffons states, "We have been informed by a trustworthy third party that there is a growing threat to the New Canterlot Republic growing in Roam.  A /changeling/ threat."  He looks at the major.  "It is our hope that we can establish a dialogue, opening a path to diffuse the situation diplomatically."
  46. <Mare-Do-Well> Major Tripwire frowns.  "Well, I can confirm the 'threat' part.  And Roam is becoming a threat not just to /you/."
  47. * Golden_Dream smacks her lips. "Really? Tell y' what. Mr. Buckle, do y'all have a kitchen on this here vessel?"
  48. <Mare-Do-Well> Golden Buckle listens to Noble_Heart.  At the mention of those not truthful with their intentions, he casts a suspicious look towards the pegasi.
  49. <Mare-Do-Well> Golden Buckle gives a nod towards Golden_Dream.  "Excellent idea.  Why doesn't everyone retire to my parlor, while I have one of my staff put together afternoon refreshments?"
  50. * Get_Lost is doing things somewhere
  51. * Noble_Heart mirrors Buckle's look, but in the direction of his two 'companions', Effigy and the unnamed mare. Though it is only brief, as she has no intention of stating it outright. "We believe that a discussion about the nature of Our arrangements might be best conducted with Our employer directly."
  52. * Golden_Dream smiles. "Naw. I got this. I bet you I could whip up something better than they can. In fact, we can do a side-by-side comparison at the end of it. All of us."
  53. * CopyCat nods gently to Golden Buckle, "Our dear friend, Kid, is a wonderful cook. We will gladly meet with you while the NCR and Enclave officers open their own discussions."
  54. <Mare-Do-Well> Golden Buckle looks at Golden_Dream with some surprise.  Then shrugs.  "That might be amusing... and delicious."
  55. * TenMihara (AndChat1208@Pony-gdd.5lm.151.184.IP) has joined
  56. * ChanServ gives channel operator status to TenMihara
  57. <Mare-Do-Well> He looks to Effigy.  "Would you please show this young mare where the kitchen is?  Then promptly join me in the parlor?  Thank you."  He turns in his medical chair, instructing Noble_Heart, "Follow me."
  58. * Noble_Heart nods her head, frowning slightly but following along, she watched Effigy side-long with some concern.
  59. <Mare-Do-Well> To the NCR griffons, Golden Buckle says, "I have some corporate matters to discuss.  I'll leave you two and your diplomat to hash out airspace quarrels with the Enclave."
  60. * Golden_Dream nods her head, and smiles at Effigy. "Oh, friend. You look so thin! You better have double servings. My momma'd tan me if I let y' walk away without gettin' fed right." Phase one complete.
  61. * Mitzi has quit (Ping timeout: 121 seconds)
  62. * TenMihara is now known as Mitzi
  63. <Mare-Do-Well> Effigy notes, "I recently ate."  Then points a hoof.  "Please, this way."
  64. <Mare-Do-Well> Effigy leads Golden_Dream down a flight of steps and to the kitchen.  Meanwhile, Golden Buckle leads Noble_Heart and the others to a stately parlor of polished wood, burgandy carpeting and cushioning, and golden trim.  Large, broadly-vaulted windows stare out at the chilly sky outside.  A central fireplace crackles, providing warmth.
  65. <Mare-Do-Well> The kitchen is relatively small, but well-furnished.  The appliances are pre-war, and show the tell-tale signs of age... but are scrubbed clean, and the most decayed parts replaced.
  66. <Mare-Do-Well> In both cases, the walk is not long.  This is a ship... while luxurious, the layout is compact.
  67. * Golden_Dream frowns. "Friend, you're gonna offend me if y' don't eat some. In fact, you're gonna offend me and th' high quality chefs, who spent years learnin' the craft. And I know you can eat. You got so little meat on them bones."
  68. * Golden_Dream coughs. Phase one complete. Phase two. Raise some hell. "Alright shitlords, listen up!" She shouts. "I bet you that I can cook all of y'all under the table. I got permission from the boss stallion, and we're gonna do ourselves a side-by-side. Let's do this."
  69. * TenMihara (AndChat1208@Pony-gecgo9.cable.rogers.com) has joined
  70. * Mitzi has quit (Connection closed)
  71. <Mare-Do-Well> The single chef in the kitchen looks up from her magazing, putting on an offended expression.  "Who the fuck are you?"
  72. * TenMihara is now known as Pony_43120
  73. <Mare-Do-Well> Effigy winces, but waves a hoof.  "Golden Buckle is interested in a comparative refreshment tasting.  Please show Kid around the kitchen..." such as it is.  "And have fun.  Serve in the parlor when you two are ready."
  74. * Lucy (IceChat9@Pony-gecgo9.cable.rogers.com) has joined
  75. * ChanServ gives channel operator status to Lucy
  76. * Lucy is now known as Mitzi
  77. * Golden_Dream thumps her chest. "I'm th' mare that's gonna steal your fuckin' job if y' don't bring your A-game. Let's do this!"
  78. * Nicktendonick (Nicktendoni@Pony-77jca1.res.bhn.net) has joined
  79. <Mare-Do-Well> Effigy turns, headed back towards the parlor.
  80. * Shatara quietly examines his fellow catburds, trying to figure out a way to determine if they were secret bugpone spies
  81. <Mare-Do-Well> The chef stands up, dropping her magazine ("Stalliongrad Today") and points.  "Pantry.  Fridge.  Oven.  Prep table.  There's your tour."  Her horn glows as she starts pulling ingredients from the pantry and refrigerator.
  82. <Mare-Do-Well> Shatara watches as the two griffins attempt to diplomatically ease the E.L.R.'s worries while neither giving nor committing to anything.
  83. <Mare-Do-Well> After a few minutes of dance, the griffons maneuver the conversation to the notion of establishing a political contract with the E.L.R. for airspace rights.
  84. <Mare-Do-Well> Golden Buckle offers Noble_Heart and any who followed her to take a seat.  "As you can see, I already am."
  85. * Golden_Dream immediately starts to whip out what she needs. White wine. Tomatoes. Bay leaves. Fishes. Lots of fishes. Hell yes.
  86. * Noble_Heart follows along with Golden Buckle, taking a seat cautiously. She looked to him seriously. "So you have heard that Roam has Changelings. We have reason to believe they have already made moves into Equestria and the New Canterlot Republic in specific."
  87. * Pony_43120 has quit (Quit: Bye)
  88. <Mare-Do-Well> Meanwhile, Mitzi and Wind Weaver have retired to a small set of quarters filled mostly with bunk beds and storage footlockers.  Small personal items, such as pictures of family or trophies, mark which beds belong to which members of Wind Weaver's troop.
  89. * Mitzi takes great care when sitting on an unoccupied bed to one side of Wind Weaver's bunk, not seeming to mind hunching over.
  90. <Mare-Do-Well> Golden Buckle nods to Noble_Heart.  "I would not be surprised.  Fortunately, we are not without our own advantages."  He moves to an open spot near the fire, enjoying the warmth after the chill of outdoors.  "Tell me, have you heard of Silence Station?"
  91. * Golden_Dream quickly starts making some country-style bread. She didn't quite know how to pull off a baguette, but she didn't think there was oven space for one, anyway. Besides, the sweetness would make the taste a little more palatable to a wider audience. And then the stew.
  92. * Noble_Heart looked in the direction of the fire and raised an eyebrow. "The name does not ring a bell in specific."
  93. <Mare-Do-Well> Wind Weaver sits on her bunk, looking at Mitzi.  "How... how are you doing?   How have you been?  I've worried if you made it safely somewhere.  I'm happy to see you did."
  94. * CopyCat shakes her head, sitting near to Noble_Heart.
  95. * Golden_Dream made a broth by stewing fish heads, tails, lobster shell, crushed. Spices and a small bundle of bay leaves. Then the rouille. Crushed bell pepper, cayenne, garlic, lemon juice, coarse salt, olive oil. Roast the pepper, then skin it, add ingredients, mortar and pestle it until a paste.
  96. <Mare-Do-Well> Golden Buckle nods.  "Long story.  Silence Station is part of the rich history of Stalliongrad.  Did you know that Stalliongrad was occupied by the Roaman Legion during the war?  Not once, but twice?"
  97. * Mitzi nods. "Uh nevur thought Uh'd see yu again," she admits. "Uh did find muh friends," she droops a bit, "though Uh nevur got tu see Ur sistur's puppies."
  98. <Mare-Do-Well> Wind Weaver reaches out and rests a hoof on Mitzi.  "I'm sure you will."
  99. * Mitzi smiles. "Wut about yu?"
  100. * Golden_Dream removed the solids out of the broth, then on a different frying pan, sauteed some onions and fennel in some salt and olive oil. Deglaze with white wine. Fish stock. Tomatoes and parsley. Orange peel and saffron, since available.
  101. * Noble_Heart frowns and contemplates that. "We can't say that We did. The history of the borderlands is difficult to track."
  102. * CopyCat nods along with Golden Buckle's story. "I didn't know that..." she confirms. "What does that have to do with the Silence Station?" Her ears perk up and she asks hopefully, "Did it play jazzy music with the zebra didn't like?"
  103. <Golden_Dream> Let mingle for a while. Then add the mussels and lobster. Let that stew until fish is cooked. Then remove any unopened mussels. Plate the rouille with the bread, rubbed with some leftover garlic. Prepare to plate the bouillabaisse. Done.
  104. <Mare-Do-Well> The chef, meanwhile, brings together an appetizer dish of breaded and fried avocado, shrimp and jalapeno, with grilled corn and tomato.
  105. <Mare-Do-Well> As she adds fried herbs, she notes to Golden_Dream, "Kid, right?  Ever served griffons, Kid?  We got a couple on this boat, and they might be joining in.  Word of advice: no eggs.  Nothing with egg.  It's a cultural thing."
  106. * Golden_Dream sighs. This was the fanciest thing she's ever learned to cook. If everybody doesn't come together for this, there's no way they're not changelings. She takes a peek at what the other chef put together, more out of educational experience.
  107. * Shatara sits and watches the gryphons and Enclaves negotiate. They seemed legit enough. His mind wandered as he slumped a little. Why can't all the non-douchey pones just band together and form the alliance for non-doucheyness or something? He imagined fleets of Raptors and Airships filling the sky, raining righteousness down upon the evil bugpone armies, allowing the oppressed
  108. * Shatara zebras to rise up and join the army of awesome, and maybe they'd give him his own airship, with a sexy badass gryphess for a first mate, and a dorky unicorn engineer, and a saucy zebra alchemist, and...
  109. * Golden_Dream blinks. "Oh, really? Huh. Vault griffons don't have the same stigma. Shatara'll eat anything." Wait, crap, she's supposed to be all piss and vinegar here.
  110. * Shatara snaps out of his totally not turning erotic fantasy as he hears his name. "Buwhuh?!"
  111. <Mare-Do-Well> Wind Weaver smiles flatly.  "It's been hard, sure.  I'll probably never work my way beyond janitor.  Not with a black mark on my record.  But hey, someone has to clean the toilets, right?  And at least I'm janitor on a front-line vessel.  An actual Raptor!"
  112. * Golden_Dream tries to well it up... And can't do it. "... Look, I'll admit, I'm not actually in this fer' th' job or anything like that. I hate bein' mean. Momma used t' tell me that nopony should ever feel not at home with me."
  113. * Mitzi raises an eyebrow. "Janitur? Black mark?"
  114. <Mare-Do-Well> Golden Buckle tells CopyCat and Noble_Heart, "They built the headquarters of the Steel Rangers in Stalliongrad.  And they built six satellite stations around the city, bolstering the defense should the zebras move on it again.  Which they did."
  115. <Mare-Do-Well> "Those six satellite stations were named after the virtues of the six ponies who were the first and most famous Steel Ranger troop.  Love Station, Mercy Station, Industry Station, Hope Station, Valor Station and Silence Station."  He pauses.  Then says, "Silence is a virtue.  In fact, I'm told it was the virtue of the Equestrian hero Big Macintosh!"
  116. <Mare-Do-Well> "... don't suppose you've ever heard of him?"  Golden Buckle sighs, expecting history is likely not amongst the passions of most alicorns.
  117. <Mare-Do-Well> Wind Weaver attempts to explain it to Mitzi.  "I got in trouble for helping you like I did.  I'm not sorry that I helped, not at all.  But the way I did so was against orders and against regulations.  So they know that they cannot trust me to follow orders if I personally don't agree with them."
  118. <Mare-Do-Well> "And that means I'm pretty much stuck doing the worst work because they won't trust me with anything that takes more responsibility."  Wind Weaver frowns.  "Obedience and loyalty are the most important virtues for a pegasi in the Enclave.  That's what the whole civil war was about."
  119. * Mitzi frowns. "They punish yu fur dueen da right ting. Yu shud leave. Eet's not right."
  120. <Mare-Do-Well> Wind Weaver sighs.  "This is my life.  My family are Enclave.  It's my home.  You... I'm not like you.  I won't leave home because I disagree with my family."
  121. <Mare-Do-Well> The chef looks at Golden_Dream.  "Then why the facade?""
  122. * Mitzi raises an eyebrow. "Uh didn't leave home -becuz- Uh didn't agree with Ur father. Uh left home becuz Uh thought wurkeen wit ponees wud allow me tu easier make friends when Uh becum alpha."
  123. * Golden_Dream goes to cut her bread instinctively, before catching herself and thinking better. No. No, you want heat to stay. "Honestly, I just wanted you at your pissed-off, I'm gonna show this whorse finest. I wanna show you something, and then you're gonna tell me if it's unusual or not."
  124. * Shatara frowns and glances around, feeling remarkably out of place. He stands and wanders off to find a quiet spot on the deck.
  125. <Mare-Do-Well> Wind Weaver cocks her head.  "How is that different?"
  126. * Golden_Dream puts her hoof on the counter. "I wanna ask you something. You didn't hold back here, right? No matter what, there's absolutely nothin' you could do t' make your dish any better, right ma'am?"
  127. * Mitzi nods. "Uh will return und become alpha. Ur fathur, Mantle, he eez wise und good, but he eez stubborn againt ponees becuz he lost Ur mother. Once Uh take his place, Uh will steer ur kind towards better friendship wit ponees. Frum wut yu said, dey punish yu fur dueen da ight ting, den don't let yu challenge alpha to make dem see wut eez right."
  128. <Mitzi> *right ting
  129. <Mare-Do-Well> The chef turns to making a grit-crusted shrimp, intent on serving fried shrimp two ways.  As she works up a batch of sour cream and chive potatoes, she tells Golden_Dream, "No need for the personality.  I can see you've got talent.  Plenty.  Enough you don't need to hide behind your tongue."
  130. * CopyCat ponders Golden Buckle's question, then shakes her head. "I'm afraid I'm not very good with history. Sometimes I think I'd forget my own name if my friends didn't remember for me," she says pleasantly. "Do go on, though. Of the six stations was Silence particularly special?"
  131. * Noble_Heart nods her head to Golden Buckle. "We are aware of him, yes. He sacrificed his life to save Celestia at Shattered Hoof Ridge, We believe."
  132. * Golden_Dream waves her hooves. "Not th' point. I want you in particular t' look at Effigy and that other pony with Golden Buckle when we serve this up."
  133. <Mare-Do-Well> Wind Weaver considers that.  "Okay.  I think I get that."  
  134. <Mare-Do-Well> Then, trying a different approach, Wind Weaver tells Mitzi, "You said they are punishing me for doing the right thing, but they aren't.  Not really.  In order to do the right thing, I had to disobey my Alpha.  And in the Enclave, disobeying the Alpha is a worse wrong thing than the wrong thing I would have been doing if I hadn't done the right thing."
  135. <Mare-Do-Well> "Does that make sense?" she asks.
  136. * Mitzi shakes her head. "No, but Uh know ponee Rules eez different. Eet's becuz uv dat Uh didn't kill Sonica as soon as Uh saw her. Fur wut she did, no Hound wud fault me fur takeen her head, but eef Uh'm goeen tu wurk wit ponees, Uh have tu considur yur rules."
  137. <Mare-Do-Well> The chef plates the grit-crusted shrimp on the potatoes, and pours a lobster sauce over it.  Then finishes plating the dish of fried avocado, shrimp and jalapeno.  "You interested in whose spices they like better?"
  138. <Mare-Do-Well> Wind Weaver notes, "All ponies don't have the same rules.  The Enclave Loyalist Remnants have different rules than the New Canterlot Republic.  Very different."
  139. * Mitzi notes, "Uh du understand dat da 'right ting' can go against wut da ALpha wants, but wit Ur kind, Alphas can be challenged, und dey are often willeen tu accept wisdom frum uthers eef eet wud make dem seem wiser und prevent challenge."
  140. * Golden_Dream raises her other hoof. "Oh, no. Before this whole thing got started, Effigy said that he'd had a light meal. Did he?"
  141. <Mare-Do-Well> Golden Buckle nods.  Then, looking to CopyCat, he admits, "I love history.  I could talk about the history of Stalliongrad forever.  But what is pertinent here is what happened to Silence Station.  What it became after the war."
  142. * Noble_Heart nods her head curious as to what he had to say.
  143. <Mare-Do-Well> "The paramour of the Commander of Love Station, you see, was a changeling.  A young changeling queen, in fact."  Golden Buckle looks at the two alicorns.  "And that relationship gave her access.  When the apocalypse came, she moved her brood into Silence Station, along with all the ponies that she could."
  144. * Noble_Heart raised her eyebrows in some surprise at that prospect.
  145. * Golden_Dream tilts her head and whistles. "Damn. Now you got /me/ goin'. Honestly, I'm kinda at my wits end when I ain't gotta scavenge up and try to jank somethin' into existence."
  146. <Mare-Do-Well> "It was no Stable, but in the bowels of the place, she constructed a hive of pods where the ponies and her children slept for two hundred years.  In those pods, they lived a shared dream, controlled by the changeling queen.  A dreamworld utopia where her children were able to feed off the love of the ponies, living out happy homemaker fantasies. And she..."
  147. <Mare-Do-Well> "...she fashioned herself the mayor of Stalliongrad, and learned to feed off the ponies appreciation and sense of community."  Golden Buckle leans forward as much as he can.  "This alteration, this feeding on nationalism, you see?  The changeling queen in Roam isn't the first to have evolved to do that."
  148. <Mare-Do-Well> The chef smiles at Golden_Dream, looking a bit satisfied.  But in answer to her question, "Not that I know of.  He usually takes dinner with Golden Buckle.  But he could have pilfered a snack."
  149. * Noble_Heart nods her head cautiously. Contemplating that a few moments.
  150. * Mitzi looks to Wind Weaver, "Even eef Ponees und Enclave eez different, Ur kind need tu make peace wit all eef we're gonna get out uv ur engangerment." She frowns, "But dere can't be any peace wit Enclave while Sonica eez still alive, so Uh need tu convince Ur alpha tu see her as criminal. Eef yu don't stop her, den Ur kind will have no choice but to du it urselves, which wud be bad fur both uv us."
  151. <Mare-Do-Well> "They stayed like that for a long time, and probably could have indefinitely, if it hadn't been for an..."  Golden Buckle tells,"...environmental disaster that caused the collapse of the hive.  There were survivors."
  152. * Noble_Heart goes a little bit wide-eyed. "Ah. Then Effigy and your female assistant are..?" Well no point in hiding it if it was probable he wasn't their enemy at least.
  153. <Mare-Do-Well> Wind Weaver frowns and looks down at her hoobes.
  154. <Mare-Do-Well> (( hooves ))
  155. * CopyCat copies Noble_Heart's wide-eyed expression with an eerie accuracy. "Oh, my."
  156. * Golden_Dream coughs into her hoof. "But I called you out and said that no matter what, he had t' eat somethin', in front of us, or risk insulting us. And since I got th' thing he wants in th' first place, that's a risky proposition." She sighs, then rubs the back of her neck. "Especially given what it is."
  157. * Mitzi pats Wind Weaver gently on the shoulder. "Ur kind will not stand fur wut she und those wit her have done, und Uh wud not last long as Alpha eef uh turned a blind eye, which Uh wud not du anyways, haveen felt her noises fur urself. The only way tu avoid more bloodshed eez eef Yur alpha, or alphas as dere may be, condemn her, und put an end tu all uv eet."
  158. <Mare-Do-Well> Effigy enters the parlor in time to hear that.  Golden Buckle looks up, seeing his wide-eyed expression, and nods.  "Yes.  Effigy and Precious are changelings.  That is why the NCR thinks they have a way to negotiate with the Caesar of Roam.  They're bringing a changeling queen of their own."
  159. <Mare-Do-Well> Effigy stammers.  "...Sir?"
  160. * Get_Lost is on another ship, way too far from action, but feels the bomb that has just been dropped
  161. <Mare-Do-Well> Golden Buckle looks at Effigy.  
  162. <Mare-Do-Well> "I... sir?"
  163. * Noble_Heart frowns and furrows her brow. Contemplating that a few moments. "We do not think this will end well. The Changelings of Roam are... Their form of nationalism is not peaceful. It is dominating. They wish to stage a war against Equestria. To paint Our people as monsters and unify the zebras in their hatred of Us and all We represent. They have already begun, sacrificing some
  164. * Noble_Heart of their own people to frame the Enclave as monsters who would slay helpless refugees for no reason." She shook her head with concern.
  165. <Mare-Do-Well> Golden Buckle smiles.  "Relax, Effigy.  You can sense how people feel.  You can tell my feelings towards you haven't changed.  The truth is, I have known for years that Precious sent you to infiltrate my company.  That's why I chose you to be my personal assistant."
  166. <Mare-Do-Well> Effigy stands and stares, looking stunned.
  167. <Mare-Do-Well> Golden Buckle turns back to Noble_Heart and nods.  "I share your concern.  And that is why I am bringing a back-up plan.  I'm just waiting for the NCR's attempts to go south before proposing it."
  168. * Noble_Heart contemplates that a few more moments and snorts. "You hope that we have found a Balefire Bomb, to ensure that in the event that these planned discussions fail it might be used as a threat against Roam. A possible first-strike against the remains of their empire."
  169. <Mare-Do-Well> He looks at the two alicorns, "And frankly, you are a stroke of good luck, because my plan is 90% bluff.  But, with the two of you, I think we might be able to make it a legitimate counter-threat."
  170. <Mare-Do-Well> Golden Buckle nods.  "Something like that.  Actually, I am really hoping we wouldn't have to use the balefire bomb.  Equestria needs it.  However, in my quest to find a balefire bomb, I did manage to uncover the schematics to construct and entirely different megaspell matrix."
  171. * Noble_Heart really, strongly, dramatically hoped she was wrong about this, but asked anyway. "A megaspell based upon the heart attack spell?"
  172. <Mare-Do-Well> Golden Buckle grins and nods.  "The Black Rose!"  He looks up to the still stunned Effigy.  "Could you retrieve the papers?"  
  173. <Mare-Do-Well> "Full megaspell chambers were needed to throw megaspells to remote locations, even other countries. But the first megaspell was cast using a portable matrix woven into a carpet." Golden Buckle smiles. "More Stalliongrad history. The very first megaspell was cast on the battlefield during Equestria's push to retake the city after the first zebra occupation."
  174. * Noble_Heart ruffles her feathers at the thought. "The first Megaspell was cast in the Crystal Empire, centuries ago, before its disappearance in the pre-war era. But We suppose it might be the first example of a modern megaspell, yes." She contemplated. "A healing megaspell to Our memory. Which had unexpected consequences."
  175. * CopyCat blinks, "This is a lot to take in, though I can sense the truth in your words. Please give me a moment." With that CopyCat closes her eyes and sends a quick message to her friends, [We do not need to 'prove' those two I sensed on deck are Changelings. They are known to Golden Buckle, and are descended from a Changeling queen who fought for Equestria as part of the Rangers. We do not need to draw outside attention to them,
  176. * CopyCat at this time.]
  177. <Mare-Do-Well> Golden Buckle nods.  "The very same."  Then, as Effigy retrieves a set of scrolls, he claims, "I have the schematics to craft the matrix.  But I lack vital enchanted components," he admits, "Not to mention unicorns capable of casting the base spell."
  178. * CopyCat then adds, [We are, however, very much looking forward to what Golden_Dream is preparing. It smells wonderful.]
  179. <Mare-Do-Well> "Worst case, we could cannibalize the balefire megaspell to try to create a rudimentary Black Rose megaspell.  And only one of the unicorns would need to know the spell if that spell was being shared to the others though alicorn telepathy."
  180. * Noble_Heart scowls at that prospect, contemplating a few moments as she regards the scrolls. "Burn them." It was not a question, or a request, so much as a statement. Possibly edging towards a demand. Her wings ruffled uncomfortably at the prospect of what might result from their use. "We have seen the remains of the Black Rose's execution upon Roam in the war. As will you, if you wish
  181. * Noble_Heart to travel there with Us. But the stain upon the land, the clawing, biting, black death which clings to the air and seeks to consume your life is only the least of its results. There is a plague which the Zebras fear, the Anulus Mortis. It was affected by the Black Rose. Twisted. To feed upon the dead, twist them into a mockery of life. One so dangerous and lethal it can slay dragons
  182. * Noble_Heart who come too close." She scowls seriously at Golden Buckle. "We will ask politely at least once. Burn them. Leave Our world free of one remaining vestige of horror and death which should be unleashed by no one and upon nothing."
  183. <Mare-Do-Well> "So, please tell me you have my bomb.  Not only for the sake of Equestria, but so this backup plan is... at best, a bluff with the force of possibility behind it, and at worst a last resort solution."  Golden Buckle admits, "I am rather hoping that the historical weight of the Black Rose on Roam's psychology will make the threat alone a sufficient deterrent."
  184. <Mare-Do-Well> Golden Buckle frowns at Noble_Heart's reaction.
  185. <Mare-Do-Well> Golden Buckle offers, "Once Equestria is safe..."
  186. * Noble_Heart ruffles visibly and scowls more heavily. "Their city is inhabited by thousands of innocent zebras who have done nothing save love their country and wish to see it flourish." She stands up and stomps a forehoof. "Equestria, nay, the world will never be safe so long as the threat of weapons such as these exist!" She glowers at Golden Buckle in seriousness, though at least
  187. * Noble_Heart manages to restrain herself from physically approaching him. "Our world burned. Our leaders died. Our people have suffered for hundreds of years. And the zebras had it worse. Yet you would still believe that such a means could lead to peace? That such a threat could ensure safety?" She shook her head. "Even if that threat were enough to stop them, it would not be enough to make it
  188. * Noble_Heart merely a threat. You would need those plans, those threats, to continue. And they would seek ways around them. In time, empires would burn again and the world might not have the chance to recover a second time."
  189. * Noble_Heart shakes her head. "We cannot win this conflict with threats or megaspells. We must tell the zebras of Roam the truth. Show them what has happened to them. Ensure that we are always, always seen as the morally superior. That we are those asking for peace and not war. That we are those who are reasonable. Weapons, bombs, guns and threats? They cannot slay a nation. Only its
  190. * Noble_Heart people can slay a nation." She emplores him as best she can. "To threaten its people. To hold such a weapon above them. It only confirms what Roam has said, that Equestria is a land of brutality. Where innocent lives mean nothing and who will stop at nothing, not even the Black Rose, the threat of the Anulus Mortis, to see themselves victorious. Please, do not do this. It will not
  191. * Noble_Heart end the way you wish."
  192. * Golden_Dream quickly notes, out of nowhere, in a loud voice, "Celestia /fuckin'/ damnit."
  193. <Mare-Do-Well> The chef raises an eyebrow.  "Don't tell me you confused sugar for salt."
  194. * Mitzi sighs and leans back from Wind Weaver. "SOrry. Uh shud be takeen dis up wit yur alpha. Yu eez good ponee, und we shud be haveen nicer talk. Plus Uh'm not Alpha yet ."
  195. * CopyCat opens her large, rose-hued eyes once more. "My sister is right. A peace attained through the threat of violence is no true peace. Any creature, when threatened and cornered, will fight back to survive. Asking them to live their lives with a blade pressed to their necks is asking for them to do the same and more back to us. We... we cannot repeat this mistake of the past."
  196. * Golden_Dream grumbles. "No, th' others figured out what I was goin' t' check t' see in doin' all this and confirmed right before we plate. Galdurnit." She folds her legs. "... Guess there's nothin' but th' serving."
  197. <Mare-Do-Well> Wind Weaver smiles sadly.  "I'm sorry I cannot help more.  Thank you for being a friend."  She pauses.  "We're friends, right?"
  198. * Golden_Dream huffs. "What's your name, by th' way? Mine's Goldie." No point in hiding it. Not on the return trip. The return trip ends, and so soon will the grudge.
  199. * CopyCat mentally fangirls over Noble_Heart's speech, the little filly in her head jumping and cheering and clapping. This internal squeeing gets sent to her friends. The speech would be shared later during the latest meeting of the Noble_Heart Fan Club.
  200. * Mitzi nods. "Yu showed me kindness when uthers wud not, und yu gave back Ur freedom. Dat's a gud step fur friends. Still, yu cud du someting. Make uthers see dat wut eez been dun to Ur kind eez wrong. Show dem, tell dem, make it known. Dat way, when Uh cum back as Alpha, Yur alphas might better see the wisdom of dueen da right ting."
  201. <Mare-Do-Well> Golden Buckle blanches.  Then carefully hooves the scrolls back to Effigy.  "Put these away, please," he says softly.  Then, with a bit more voice, he tells Noble_Heart, "You have given me a lot to think about."  Frowning, he adds, "So I put it to you to come up with an alternate back-up plan, if the NCR's attempt at diplomacy goes like we both anticipate."
  202. <Mare-Do-Well> The chef nods.  "Pleasure to meet you, Goldie.  I'm Summer."\
  203. * Golden_Dream blinks. "Summer Harvest? I think I might'a heard of you in th' newspaper."
  204. * Noble_Heart frowns, but nods. "We shall give it thought." She calms down slowly and does her best to relax. "We shall do whatever we can to help ensure it does not come to that, as well."
  205. <Mare-Do-Well> "Really?" the chef sounds pleasantly surprised.
  206. <Mare-Do-Well> Wind Weaver looks nervous but says, "I'll try."  It is not an easy thing to ask.  But she knows it is right.
  207. * Golden_Dream points at her. "Yeah, you had that periodical about th' recovered Canterlot cookbook in, right? A couple of recipes in there too. I could never make 'em, since stuff short of the basics are hard t' get by in Froggy, but I liked readin' 'em."
  208. * Mitzi nods. "Before Uh go, Uh will try tu convince Yur alpha on dis ship dat she needs to be condemned for the criminal she eez. Eef dey will not listen, Uh will have tu come back." She then drowns. "Dere eez not uther hounds on dis flyeen boat eez dere?"
  209. <Mare-Do-Well> Wind Weaver grimaces and looks aside.  And mumbles, "Two."
  210. * Mitzi nods. "Tank yu. Eef uh cannot get yur Alpha tu condemn Sonica, Uh will at least get dem freed."
  211. * Mitzi also adds. "Uh will not tell dem yu told me, but while dey eez still captive, yu can show yur uther friends wut dey eez suffereen. Wut Uh suffered."
  212. <Mare-Do-Well> Wind Weaver nods.  "I'm so sorry."
  213. * Mitzi pats Wind Weaver on the head with the flat of a paw. "Yu know dey eez suffereen und yu know wut eez right. Da best yu can du now eez make other Enclave ponees see eet."
  214. * Golden_Dream tries to haul her bouillabaisse and rouille out of the kitchen. "Right. Well. Better get th' Griffons and th' Boss pony fed at least."
  215. <Mare-Do-Well> Wind Weaver sighs.  "They understand that you're suffering.  They just don't understand that you're *people*."
  216. <Mare-Do-Well> "Sonica does, sort of.  But only sort of.  Like hellhounds are really intelligent pets."
  217. <Mare-Do-Well> Summer Harvest follows Golden_Dream with her fried shrimp done two ways.
  218. * Nicktendonick is now known as NNickPlays
  219. * Mitzi frowns. "Uh knew sonica was [hellhound noise meaning despised one], but Uh did not know uthers uv yer group were ignorant een such a way."
  220. * NNickPlays is now known as NNickPlays|Youtube
  221. <Mare-Do-Well> "They see hellhounds and they see monsters."
  222. <Mare-Do-Well> "Most of the others I talked to thought I made it up that you can talk."
  223. * Mitzi nods. "Many uv Ur kind tink ponees eez monsters, but we du not tink yu eez animals. Eef yu were just animals, den dere cud be more forgiveness fur yur ignorance."
  224. * Golden_Dream charges out into the lobby, sounding kind of defeated. "Right. How's about y'all soldier boys get yourselves somethin' good t' eat fer' once. Nopony or nobody can survive on MRE's alone. Little bit of a contest goin'?"
  225. * Noble_Heart stands up at the sound of Golden Dream beginning to serve food. "It seems that lunch is served. We suggest getting it while there is some to get. Kid's food is not something to be missed." She departs from the lounge towards the actual eating areas to given Golden Buckle time to think.
  226. * Shatara heads towards the promises of tasty foods.
  227. * Golden_Dream folds her legs. "Now, I know that nobody that ain't a griffon can ever make a proper one of these, but how's about y'all try some a' my totally-not-a-bouillabaisse with some rouille on country style bread? See which y' like better between this here and what dishes she put together."
  228. <Mare-Do-Well> Wind Weaver tells Mitzi, "I think they would change their minds if they met you, talked with you.  Got to know a hellhound other than on the battlefield, as an enemy or under Sonica's control."
  229. * CopyCat nods curtly and trots after Noble_Heart with a spring in her step. "Kid's food is good eat'n!"
  230. <Mare-Do-Well> Chef Summer Harvest presents her dishes second, putting them alongside Golden_Dream's.  Then proceeds to try Golden's cooking.  After savoring for a few long moments, "You've /very/ good."
  231. * Mitzi nods. "Dat may help, but Uh can only help wit other packs once Uh'm Alpha. Den other alphas will listen outside dere packs. Hellhounds has long memories though, stories going back countless generations. Change will not be easy."
  232. <Mare-Do-Well> "After you're done with whatever employment you are engaged in, should you look for something stable, I would definitely have a place for you in my kitchen," she tells Golden_Dream.
  233. * Golden_Dream goes ahead and samples hers. And feels like her mouth was exploding with flavor. "... Shit, yer' cookin' is like runnin' m' tongue on solid ever after. Th' texture feels /gentle/. I ain't ever tasted gentle food before."
  234. <Mare-Do-Well> Chef Summer beams at the compliment.
  235. * Get_Lost is sleeping
  236. * Get_Lost has quit (Quit: Leaving)
  237. * Mitzi stands up stretching, "Walk wit me tu yur Alpha. Uh'll share sum stories wit yu, und be seen talkeen too."
  238. <Mare-Do-Well> Wind Weaver nods.
  239. * Mare-Do-Well pauses.  "Technically, Doctor Sonica is my boss.  But she's not military, so I'd be taking you to Major Fog Bank.  He's my C.O."
  240. <Mare-Do-Well> (( MEEP!  Not Mare-Do-Well.  Wind Weaver says that! ))
  241. <Mare-Do-Well> Wind Weaver pauses.  "Technically, Doctor Sonica is my boss.  But she's not military, so I'd be taking you to Major Fog Bank.  He's my C.O."
  242. * Mitzi nods. "Eez He een charge uv dis flyeen boat?"
  243. * Noble_Heart is now known as Ilushia
  244. <Mare-Do-Well> --- End of Session ---
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