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Anon's Regiment

Kriegfag Aug 18th, 2016 (edited) 2,099 Never
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  1. Anon’s Regiment
  3. >”Ah, Anonymous. How goes your writi-“
  4. >You drop the huge pile of hand-written notes with a *THUNK*, rattling the table and the china on top
  5. >With bags under your eyes, but a grin on your face, you tell Celestia
  6. “Done.”
  7. >The Princess pauses before taking another bite of her cake and taking the first thick folder
  8. >On it is your best sketch of the double-headed eagle
  9. >Under it are the words “Imperial Guard”
  10. >She opens it and takes a look at the forward, and then the subsequent pages detailing organization
  11. >”Imperial Guard?”
  12. >You shrug
  13. “Whatever floats your boat, Princess. You said you wanted to reform the Guard? You can use that name to complete it.”
  14. >Even though this nation is nothing like the Imperium
  15. >But even GW’s lawyers can’t get you here, so fuck them
  16. >”Hm…”
  17. >Celestia puts the papers back into the folder and set it down beside the pile
  18. >”And the rest of this?”
  19. “My take on science. Like I said, I’m no genius, but I’m sure your people can work things out, especially when you throw magic into the mix.”
  20. >A lot of these papers merely presented concepts no one here thought of
  21. >And to be frank, under other circumstances, most of the natives would be utterly horrified at the results of your three-day writing session
  22. >Indeed, most of these would break international treaties back home
  23. >If these weapons were real of course
  25. >But with a civil war just starting in the Griffin Empire, a bunch of dragons getting all uppity in the south, and spreading rumors of freaky shit happening in the north, the Sisters were willing to open up
  26. >And Twilight just so happened to have come across someone who offered to help improve the Canterlot Guard
  28. >”I will make sure the proper ponies receive these. Thank you Anon.”
  29. >With a tired smile, you give the Princess a nod
  30. “Thanks, ma’a-“
  31. >You do your best to stifle a sudden yawn
  32. “You can go do that, I’m gonna sleep for a bit.”
  33. >By a bit, you mean for the next twelve hours
  35. >But before you turn to go, you ask
  36. “So, the other half of our bargain…?”
  37. >The Princess gives you a reassuring smile
  38. >”Do not worry, Anon. I’m sure many will want to speak with you soon, but go rest first.”
  39. >She lifts up the stack of notes prefaced by a familiar M36-Pattern weapon and begins to read as you take your leave
  40. >Despite being ready to drop dead, you can’t wait to start changing the way of war around here
  41. >You smile somewhat maliciously at the thought of everyone here learning the phrase: Ave Imperator
  43. >You spend the next few weeks explaining yourself
  44. >Many names were flung your way:
  45. >Mad pony
  46. >Monster
  47. >One of questionable aspirations
  48. >The last one was given by Luna one night, after you showed her what exactly you were dreaming of
  49. >Yes it was treading into propaganda territory with the addition of Frank Klepacki, Sean Murray, and Christopher Lennertz, but you believe it all fits perfectly with your envisioning of the Guard
  50. >You hope you can get it all out of your head and into speakers someday
  51. >That would be the day…
  53. >But enough fantasizing, you have a lot of work ahead of you
  54. >You just finished your rather cringe-worthy introduction to the current Guard, and its obvious Equestria has experienced centuries of peace
  55. >The Canterlot Guard is less of an elite guard protecting the capital and more of a glorified police force
  56. >A police force that hardly investigates and mostly deals in issuing court orders around the country
  57. >And that activity is usually done by the recently-enlisted while the “veterans” preform drills dating back to ancient days and do lazy patrols around the city
  58. >Disappointing
  59. >And though it is arising in distant places, conflict on this world is brewing
  60. >And you can count with your fingers the number of ponies that can reliably deal with such threats
  61. >Unacceptable
  63. >Well, you’re set on changing that today
  64. >Today is when you finally get to meet the troops under your command
  65. >Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like you’ll be commanding a full regiment
  66. >Looking at the numbers, that would overshadow ALL of the current guard
  67. >You wonder if the Sisters will start a recruitment drive soon
  68. >There are a few ad ideas-
  69. >”Anon?”
  70. >You snap back into focus and smile at the Captain of the Guard
  71. “Yes, sir?”
  72. >”I have your…Guardsponies waiting outside. Follow me.”
  73. >Donning your newly-made tan undershirt and green cap, you and Shining walk to a remote part of the outdoor training grounds
  74. >As you walk alongside him, the Captain tells you that while he does have some disagreements to this reform, he will fulfill the Princesses’ wishes and give you the next batch of recruits
  75. >Excellent, you don’t have to wrestle with content veterans
  76. >Now you get your very own group of impressionable recruits, ready to be turned into hardy Guardsmen—
  77. >Er-ponies
  78. >Your smile fades as soon as you turn the corner and see your charges
  80. >All ten of them
  82. >You and the Captain stop in front of the line of young-looking, bright-eyed pones
  83. >None of them have any armor on, so you find yourself looking at quite the color palette
  84. >You silently stare at them all as Shining talks to them in his Commander voice
  85. >It’s nice and short, but a little heavy-handed on how you’re the boss and they should listen to everything you have to say, for your word is law and etcetera
  86. >The Captain then takes his leave without saying anything else, leaving you with your measly ten raw recruits
  87. >No “You have this many weeks to train them.”
  88. >No “I expect a report by the end of the month.”
  89. >He just quickly excuses himself and goes off to presumably do Captain stuff
  90. >Wasn’t another Princess visiting or something?
  91. >Oh well, back to the recruits who are giving you mixed signals
  93. >The white unicorn on the far left looks like she’s too pompous to be commanded by a dumb ape like you, and is giving both you and the other ponies the stink eye
  94. >Next to her are two sage-green earth pones who look nearly-identical to each other, down to the mud-brown hair and purple eyes
  95. >They’re standing as still as they can, trying to make good first impressions that are succeeding
  96. >There’s a red pegasus who’s smiling and twitching a little too much for you to just write off as having lots of caffeine in his system
  97. >Next to him is a reddish-brown earth mare who is trying her best to ignore the ticking bomb next to her
  98. >Then there’s a light-green pegasus who looks to be the oldest and has a more serious expression
  99. >To his left is his opposite: a young, tan pegasus who can barely contain his grin and is slightly bobbing up and down
  100. >Next in line is a unicorn with an unkempt, dark green coat and black hair, and he’s simply looking around the large and open courtyard
  101. >Then there’s a blue unicorn who looks like she’s ready for the parade, and hasn’t moved a muscle since you arrived
  102. >And lastly, on the far right, is a mud-brown earth pony who has been absently digging at the dirt between the cobblestones in front of her
  104. >You knew the Guard came from all over, but damn
  105. >No matter, you have your training regime memorized and your times set
  106. >And now it’s time to set the tone, so you announce,
  107. “Before anything else, I want to know if anyone here had a profession before joining.”
  108. >You point to the older pegasus
  109. “What job did you do?”
  110. >He answers with a hint of a french accent, “I was part of the weather team in the north, near the crystal mountains.”
  111. “Weather team… And you?”
  112. >You point to the muddy earth pone, who quietly says, “Miner.”
  113. “Miner, alright. What about you?”
  114. >You point to the opposite side of the line, at the prima unicorn
  115. >She gives you a sideways glance before answering, “I painted, but alas, my family wished me to—“
  116. “Forget it.”
  117. >The unicorn freezes, surprised that you actually interrupted her
  118. >Before she could give you a mouthful, you look down the line
  119. “You are in the Guard now. Whatever life you had before is over and gone.”
  120. >You point up and behind yourself to the castle that dominates your view, gleaming in the morning sun
  121. “Your new lives are those of Guards, and the expectations that that designation carries.”
  122. >You lower your arm and begin to slowly walk to the right of the line, the ponies’ gazes cautiously following you
  123. “Such expectations revolve around the security of Equestria and all who reside in it. We are the ones who willingly step between the innocent and the forces that threaten the harmony that we all enjoyed as citizens of this nation.”
  124. >You spin on the heels of your steel-toed boots and make your way to the other end
  125. “And you all better realize that those forces are manifesting at this very moment, all of which are coming in many forms, but all are looking at this nation with thoughts of conquest. Such power leveled against this nation require might that cannot be met by the old Canterlot Guard.”
  126. >You reach the white unicorn at the end
  127. “That is why…”
  128. >You suddenly snap down to her level to glare directly at her
  129.  “WE, are here.”
  130. >Satisfied in her scrunched-up, startled face, you straighten up and look down the line
  131. “That is why you will be the first to undergo new training, utilize new equipment, and learn new tactics that will take the world by storm. As of now, you are not training to be Canterlot Guards, but instead—“
  132. >Someone behind you interrupts with a strained voice
  133. >”Advisor Anon?”
  134. >You give your best Dredd Pattern frown and turn to the group of offending pegasi airlifting a massive wooden crate
  135. “Yes?”
  136. >They lower it to the ground and release their harnesses, sighing in relief
  137. >The lead delivery pone hovers towards you and states, “A present from Princess Celestia.” and gives you an order sheet with a small key taped to it
  138. >As the pegasi fly off, you eye the crate quizzically for a moment before walking over
  139. >You free the lock using the finely engraved key and fling the top open
  140. >Slowly, your frown morphs into a grin
  142. >You take out the shining-silver flak helmet and present it to the recruits, who were tentatively following you over to the crate
  144. “Welcome to the Equestrian First. Let’s get started.”
  146. The following scenes take place over several weeks of Anon’s patented “Proper Bloody Guard Training Regimen”
  147.     ===
  148. >”You expect ME to ruin my coat crawling through that pigsty?!”
  149. >And this is why you asked for a bucket
  150. “Trooper, I don’t expect you to crawl through this obstacle and ruin your coat.”
  151. >Your overturn the bucket right over Cream Blender
  152. >There’s a satisfying *splorsh* as the unicorn is doused in a concoction of mud and grim
  153. >If her once curling, auburn hair wasn’t covering her face, her indigo eyes would’ve been wide open
  154. >You give the mare a few seconds to be frozen in shock before leaning down to her level
  155. “I expect you to crawl through with your already ruined coat.”
  156. >You return to full height and carefully set the bucket down
  157. >It has done its purpose
  158. >With a swift kick in Cream’s pudgy rump, she flies right into the long, twisting mud pit you had painstakingly made last week
  159. >Since barbed wire is considered inpone, you had to make do with a web of string covered in cheddar
  160. >After several sunny summer days the cheese has melted into the string and has made a most incredible smell
  161. “Now CRAWL!”
  162. >As Blender is the last one to start the arduous journey through your work, you walk past the main pack, with the miner pony in front
  163. >While she doesn’t seem to mind being covered in filth, the rest are switching constantly between keeping their heads up and trying not to vomit
  164. “You think this is bad?! Wait until I get autocannons and some bleu!”
  165.     ===
  166. >You watch with disappointment as the red pegasus misses his sparring partner and rockets to the ground with a mighty “WAAAAAA-“
  167. >Dirt, wood, and sandbags are thrown from the practice bunker and into the air
  168. >The green twins, who were busy adding more rooms to it, are the first in to find him
  169. >The brother and sister duo pull out Crimson Storm from the debris just as you enter
  170. >His padded headgear falls from his bruised head, revealing recently cropped, dirty-yellow hair
  171. >He looks up at you with unsettling green eyes and give you a cocky grin, with a few teeth missing
  172. >You give him your Dredd Frown, then calmly ask him
  173. “When your opponent eludes you, what do you do?”
  174. >The grin slowly fades, replaced by a look of genuine confusion
  175. >Dammit, this is the fifth time
  176. “I’ll tell you what you don’t do: you don’t keep going until you hit something. That’s what a dumb missile does.
  177. Tell me, Trooper Storm: ARE YOU A DUMB MIS-AILSE?!”
  179. >You pause in surprise
  180. >That’s the first time he actually responded instantly
  181. >You’re not letting up, though
  182. “Then prove to me you’re not and stay in the air more than a measly minute! GO!”
  183. >With a hearty “SAR!” Crimson half-runs, half-flies past you and out of the bunker, instead of using the new hole he just made
  184. >As the green twins start to repair the wooden roof, you look after the eager pegasus
  185. >You swear that boy just ain’t right
  186.     ===
  187. >The air stings softly with the morning chill
  188. “Momma and poppa were layin’ in bed!”
  190. >The clack of your shoes against the asphalt is drowned out by the rhythm of clopping hooves
  191. “Momma rolled over, this is what she said!”
  193. >The cadence bounces off of the mountain and the forest around you
  194. “Now give me some!”
  195. >”NOW GIVE ME SOME!”
  196. “Now give me some!”
  197. >”NOW GIVE ME SOME!”
  198. >With Indigo Iron and her parade voice leading, the squad is synched wonderfully
  199. “Pee-Tee!”
  200. >”PEE-TEE!”
  201. “Pee-Tee!”
  202. >”PEE-TEE!”
  203. >Even Cream is keeping in step and tone, despite her huffing
  204. “Good for you!”
  205. >”GOOD FOR YOU!”
  206. “And good for me!”
  207. >”AND GOOD FOR ME!”
  208.  “Mm, good!”
  209. >”MM, GOOD!”
  210. >Your 10-mile run is coming to an end, and you can see Celestia’s chambers from all the way down here
  211. “Up in the morning to the risin’ sun!”
  213. >You prepare your throat for the last few lines
  214. “Gonna run all day ‘till the runnin’s done!”
  216. >You wish you could grin as you yell out,
  221. >They have learned well
  222. >Iron continues to lead them over to the firing range as you run ahead
  223. >Time to introduce the real weapons of war
  224. ===
  225. >The past few days have been a real slog
  226. >The autocannon you were promised either has not been produced, or somepony along the line doesn’t want you to have them
  227. >Some Old Guards have also been spreading rumors that you have intimate information on the Captain’s genitals, and every time you’ve gone through the barracks there’s been hushed gossip and the occasional shouted insult
  228. >You’ve been forced to reevaluate your situation, and it’s about time you took further action to get things rolling
  229. >So while you’re giving the scientists and “engineers” time to build before you go over to their labs yourself, you’re giving Mild Breeze and Updraft a challenge:
  230. >Nick some bleu cheese from the castle’s stores
  231. >While you gave them a head start by setting up a way inside, courtesy of an attention-grabbing Crimson, it is up to the young unicorn and pegasus to go down to the underground catacombs and do some classic military scrounging
  232. >Unfortunately, even with your insistence for speed, they still take long enough for you to spot a duo of Old Guard turning the corner and heading down the long decorative hall
  233. >You duck back through the small doorway and fly as quietly as possible down the spiral stone staircase
  234. >Hitting the dirt floor running, you follow the faint green light that’s illuminating the damp walls, leading to the one massive room that holds ALL of the castle’s prime cheese
  235. >There’s more types in here than you care for
  236. >You’re here for the one that can produce the nastiest smell, to your knowledge at least
  237. >The first sight you see is the black-haired Breeze, with one of those string cheeses in his mouth, holding the giant sack open for Updraft
  238. >The gung-ho pegasus, who is sporting a short sky-blue Mohawk, is grabbing as much cheese with blue molding as he can and throwing it all into the sack
  239. >They both take note of you and your intense expression and you harshly whisper,
  240. “Two incoming!”
  241. >Having planned for this, Breeze ties the sack close while Updraft finds a place to hide amongst the cheese
  242. >You check that the knot keeping the sack is secure, then take it from Breeze and move to where UD is beckoning the two of you
  243. >As Mild dims his horn light to a bare minimum, you hide behind several large crates that smell somewhat like Colby Jack, though you could be mistaken
  244. >A bright light born from an oil lamp shines from outside the door, and Breeze cancels his magic completely
  245. >A bored voice fast approaching says, “In here.”
  246. >Two earth Guards, slightly older than the two recruits beside you, walk into the cheese room
  247. >Both are in their golden armor, armed with spears, while one’s spear has a lantern mounted on it
  248. >The one without a lantern sizes up the room with a grin and starts walking towards the center
  249. >”Now this is quite the find, eh Maim?”
  250. >The other Guard is keeping a straight face, “Come on, Heat, I know I saw something green coming from in here.”
  251. >”What? You think we got chrysalids down here?”
  252. >As the Guards bicker back and forth, Mild creeps up to you and whispers in his soft voice
  253. >”Sir, I have an idea on getting out of here.”
  254. >Not sure how to get past these two, you turn to him and nod
  255. >With a small smile the unicorn grabs two of the many cheese strings he has pilfered from one of the many pouches of his new gear rig
  256. >Placing them both on the ground, he conjures up a small aura around them
  257. >In the flickering light of the lantern, you watch as one ages rapidly into a disgusting rod of mold and spores
  258. >The other seems to bubble and melt, but it’s shape is barely maintained
  259. >When the spells are completed, Breeze peeks up over the crate at the guards
  260. >They got a little closer to each other, arguing if cheese could be used as an expression of love
  261. >With a quick flick, the melted cheese is shot at the lantern and its open bottom quarter
  262. >The exposed innards are slammed by the hot expanding goo, and the whole thing is overturned
  263. >This douses the candle inside and plunges the whole floor into darkness
  264. >Just as that happens, the other piece of cheese, split in two, is flung at the two surprised guards
  265. >That’s your que to bolt from your hiding place, hauling the sack of cheese over your shoulders
  266. >With Breeze lighting the way, the three of you leave the Guards to claw at their faces and hurl in the dark dungeon like food stores
  267. >In the hallway, you tell Mild as you’re running
  268. “You should share your ideas more often, trooper!”
  269. >”Sir, yes, sir!”
  270. >You can guess that he has an “innocent” grin on his face as he leads the way back to your sectioned-off quarters
  271.     ===
  272. “Again, thanks for coming out here today, Ms. Pie.”
  273. >”No problem, Anon! It’s been a long time since I dusted off this baby.”
  274. >It’s big, has a minimalistic mount, and the green paint is chipping away
  275. >All you can remember is that it is a bofors
  276. >A 40mm autocannon
  277. >Not one of the grim n’ dark autocannons that you’re going to look for tomorrow, but an old, tried n’ true beasty that looks like she’s been through a lot
  278. >And it’s time to put her through her paces once again
  279. “Is the ammo ready?”
  280. >The special pink-tipped rounds are in their giant ‘clips’
  281. >Dozens of which are stacked neatly by the gun, ready for use
  282. >Since you aren’t a real munitions expert, you cashed in a favor with Twiggles in order to make these
  283. >”Yep! Just gotta wait for your colts.”
  284. >You, Ponks, and the Twins have been doing so for the past ten minutes
  285. >Scanning the skies, waiting for the pegasi to attack from above
  286. >For the past five minutes you’ve been scanning a massive cloud drifting in from the southwest
  287. >Now that it’s almost on top of you, you’re certain they’re in that
  288. “Stally, Stubby, get on the forty. I want to try and spook them.”
  289. >Without a word, Stalwart and Stubborn Greens gallop from the little ring of sandbags you were all in to the bofors
  290. >Stalwart hops into the gunner seat while Stubborn loads the massive clips into the feeder on top
  291. >Pinkie somehow got the seat and controls rigged to accommodate a pony, so while you can’t really enjoy firing the autocannon the pones can operate it just fine
  292. >And by the Emperor, were the twins operating
  293. >Before you could hear a muffled “WAAAAA-“ in the distance, Stally had the bofors aimed high and fired
  294. >Consecutive, concussive *BOOMBOOMBOOMBOOM*s shook the tranquil afternoon, the violent sounds reverberating off the mountains
  295. >Good thing you ordered everyone to wear earpro
  296. >No need to go deaf during an exercise
  298. >You watch as three holes appear in the cloud above you, but none of them explode then
  299. >They’ll go on to detonate harmlessly a few hundred yards higher, while Stally is quickly traversing towards the direction of Crimson’s war cry
  300. >You don’t need to use optics to spot the red streak rocketing at you all from the east
  301. >The lunatic’s wings were beating fast even in a dive, but Stubborn’s loading and Stalwart’s aim was faster
  303. >The pegasus is met with four small, but well-placed shots of flak
  304. >Confetti flak
  305. >A grin works its way to your face as Crimson is slapped out of the air and spirals to the ground
  306. >Since he’s wearing pads and has crashed many times before, he should be fine
  307. >You redirect your attention to the rest of the sky, intent on finding the other two pegasi who are certainly-
  308. >A single flap of wings behind you says they won
  309. >You start to snap around, but Updraft body-checks you to the ground
  310.     ===
  311. >An hour and a half later, you walk out of the barrack’s infirmary, an ice pack strapped onto your bruised triceps, a party cone on your head, and the hint of disinfectant mixed on you
  312. >You take off the cone, appreciative of the party pone staying with you long enough to give you a get-well-soon party
  313. >She left to see the rest the squad to give them their own party, and is apparently spending the night here as well
  314. >You offered to carry some of her stuff (that she packed before coming here, even though you never asked her to stay), but the nurses were stern and demanded that you rest
  315. >They are still baffled that your arm didn’t snap
  316. >Had he went for your head, Updraft would’ve gave you a concussion at least
  317. >Yes you had your helmet on, but the young blood has been doing nothing but flying, drilling, eating, and sleeping for this entire month
  318. >Hell, they all hit hard
  319. >”Advisor Anonymous.”
  320. >You frown at the Captain’s voice, wipe the expression from your face, then turn to see him clanking down the hallway
  321. >He’s flanked by two other Old Guards
  322. >He doesn’t look too happy as well
  323. >”What is this crap about you firing upon Canterlot?”
  324. >You raise an eyebrow before asking,
  325. “Excuse me, sir?”
  326. >”My afternoon patrols reported several explosions dangerously close to the city, Anonymous. Care to explain yourself?”
  327. >Oh boy, time to rev up those lectures
  328. “Sir, those explosions were the controlled detonations of non-lethal flak rounds-“
  329. >”And who gave you such ‘ordinance’?”
  330. “A friend of your sister, sir.”
  331. >”You had a civilian participate in your exercises?”
  332. “A /willing/ participate, sir-“
  333. >”Irrelevant. It is unprofessional to endanger the lives of those we swore to protect, Anonymous.”
  334. >You were about to let loose with some more unprofessional words when Trooper Sepia speaks up from behind you
  335. >”It is also unprofessional to intentionally withhold equipment vital to the effective training and arming of the Guard, Captain.”
  336. >You turn your head to see the reddish-brown mare and the muddy-looking miner, Crete, walking down the hall side by side
  337. >Their silver flak armor has been spit-shined, and you stare inquisitively at the mechanical rigs that are holding a familiar laser weapon at their sides
  338. >The two Guardsmares walk up to your flanks and stand at attention, staring ahead at their older counterparts
  339. >With renewed tact, you turn back to the Captain, who’s eying the Private
  340. >”I would suggest a reprimand for speaking against a superior officer, advisor.”
  341. “Noted, but I agree with my subordinate, sir.”
  342. >You cross your arms and let the Shining know that it’s /you/ staring down at /him/
  343. “I have been requesting equipment repeatedly for several weeks now, and I have only received armor, construction materials, five lasguns, and finally rigs that allow for easily wielding of said lasguns. Celestia herself has promised me that all of the equipment I requested was to be produced and delivered to me promptly.”
  344. >Your eyes quickly dart over the two Old Guards standing at attention by the Captain
  345. “I was also promised that there was to be cooperation between my squad and the rest of the Guard. So far that simply has /not/ happened. I have been forced to be their opponent in most exercises and the nurses here are not happy about it.”
  346. >Your gaze returns to Shining
  347. “Something tells me that the Equestrian First is being viewed as nothing more than a nuisance, sir.”
  349. >”Perhaps it is, Anonymous.”
  350. >That stops you in your tracks, and the Captain continues
  351. >”Equestrian /First/. Advisor, your squad is certainly not the first of the Canterlot Guard. It has been preceded by centuries of loyal ponies, all of whom have been the servants of the Princess and the protectors of Equestria. I will not let somepony by the likes of you do away with such history overnight.”
  352. >Shining thinks you’re trying to erase history?
  353. >You open your mouth to tell him that was never on your mind, but he talks over you
  354. >”You will continue to ‘train’ your ‘Guardsponies’ until further notice. You will leave the fighting to the mettle of the Canterlot Guard. Are we clear?”
  355. >There is a moment of stillness as you collect your thoughts, and the Captain repeats,
  356. >”Are, we, clear?”
  357. >You voice is flat as can be
  358. “Crystal…sir.”
  359. >And with that, you turn to walk back to your squad’s barracks
  360. >Your two Guardsmares crisply about-face and trot/march to match your speed
  362. >Fifteen minutes of navigating the castle’s grand, moonlit halls later and the three of you are right outside your wing’s double wooden doors, recently painted a much-needed coat of silver by Crete and Updraft
  363. >You stop and face the two troopers, your expression one of relief
  364. “Thanks…to the both of you. I wasn’t expecting to be blindsided by the Captain.”
  365. >Crete merely nods, while Sepia gives you a smile that slowly disappears, her dark red eyes looking up at you with conviction
  366. >”I appreciate that, sir, but I must apologize for speaking out of turn and will accept the appropriate punishment.”
  367. >You wave it off
  368. >She was the reason you weren’t verbally trampled over
  369. “I’ll have you run extra laps later, but again: thank you.”
  370. >You reassure the mare with a small smile of your own
  371. “And since the Captain confirmed my suspicions of us being put on a shelf, I say it’s time we put our training to the test.”
  372. >You turn back to the doors and push them open to reveal the musty old hall the Old Guard has stuffed you all in
  373. >Even though it’s late at night, everypony’s awake and tending to the three other lasguns along with their armor
  374. >There’s streamers, the rich smell of baking coming from somewhere, and a small gator is occupying one of the bunks, but other than that the hall is the same as you left it
  375. >The Guardsponies all look up and note the purpose in your walk and the faux-innocent grin you got from Mild Breeze
  376. “Guard! I’ve received confirmation from the Captain himself that we’re being put on a shelf.”
  377. >A smiling Pinkie skips around from the door leading to the abandoned kitchen, a large platter of frosted cookies balanced on her back
  378. “Ms. Pie, would you like to join us in planning?”
  379. >Pinkie sets the platter down next to the group, asking, “Planning what, Anon? A party for Shining?”
  380. >You were about to say “Quite the party.”
  381. >But you stop yourself and sit down in a spare wooden chair, Sepia and Crete taking a seat next to you
  382. >You lean back, hands clasped together, and you keep yourself from giving a mischievous smile
  383. “Well, I should start off by asking: what do you know of scouting?”
  384. ===
  385. >Even after a month of training, it's a bitch to open the heavy wood-and-steel door to the lab
  386. >You have to heave it slowly open, the hinges creaking and squeaking obnoxiously
  387. >When you open the door wide enough, Indigo Iron leads the way in, followed by Cream Blender
  388. >You shuffle inside behind the two unicorns and pull the door shut
  389. >The mechanical clicks of the old locks mix with the various mechanical thrums and rhythmic bangs of the Canterlot Central Laboratory
  390. >From what you've heard it's both a laboratory and a workshop built into the mountain, and much of Equestria's "technology" has come out of here
  391. >Instead of your world's reliance on electronics, these ponies have their own science in actual magic and all it entails
  392. >That explains the mix of medieval ascetics, modern comforts, and the ability to create the equipment you have asked for
  393. >Speaking of modern comforts, the entire lab is brightly lit by massive lights embedded high above in the warehouse-like ceiling
  394. >You set your lantern on the smooth grey tile by the door, snuffing out the small flame  that lit up the dark hallways leading to here
  396. >With that taken care of, you turn to take in the sight of the massive room
  397. >The entrance is the tamest with safety signs posted all around the door and directions painted on the floor
  398. >A few paces out marks the start of a large U made of long tables and tall metal rigs showing off the myriad of devices that have been made in here
  399. >Some of them are obvious in their function; pumps, medical devices, even a "magical" combustion engine, but for many more you have no clue
  400. >The displays are so cluttered you can't see anything immediately beyond them
  401. >You can only see the tops of overtly-complex and powerful fabrication machines far off in the distance
  402. >Like attractions to a park
  403. >Hell, this place is the right size for a small amusement park despite being completely underground
  405. "Alright, finding the autocannon might take some time. Let's split up and find a scientist that can show us the way, or better yet Doctor Tinker herself."
  406. >Indigo Iron raises a hoof without even looking back
  407. "Trooper Iron?"
  408. >When she's not using parade volume, her voice reminds you of Major Kusanagi
  409. >Not inherently sexy, but it can turn seductive on a dime
  410. >"Down at the end, sir."
  411. >The faded-blue unicorn points straight down the middle
  412. >It takes you a moment to spot what's unmistakably a crew-served weapon
  413. >It's at the bottom of the U, almost a football field away
  414. "Never mind. Good spot, Iron."
  415. >She says nothing as you walk past her
  416. >You think you imagined Blender "Hmph"-ing under her breath, since she was busy gawping at the place
  418. >In the minute or two of passing the myriad of displays, you notice a scant few pony scientists and engineers working beyond the rows of islands and rigs
  419. >All are too busy operating machinery or inducing spells to notice you three
  420. >Some of them are very close to looking like voodoo zombies from working through the night, intent on finishing their projects as soon as possible
  422. >When you finally reach the weapon, you stop just in front of it for some scrutiny
  423. >You can't give exact measurements, but...
  424. >The barrel is slightly longer than a pony from snout to rump
  425. >The barrel's diameter is about half the size of Pinkie's 40mm
  426. >On the table behind the weapon are several metal drum clips, and next to those are a couple of massive rounds
  427. >The weapon is fixed to a wheeled chassis and there are leather straps attached to it, so any of the pones can simply hook up to the gun and pull it along
  428. >All in all: it's not the bofors, but this rather portable weapon can still fuck up anything not behind very thick armor plating
  430. "What do you two think?"
  431. >Iron answers first
  432. >"The Green Twins will love it, sir."
  433. >Blender, with her posh accent and a hoof to her chin, answers thoughtfully
  434. >"There are a few colour schemes I might try, but it would be best if we take this to the barracks first.”
  435. “Agreed”
  437. >The voice of a disappointed young girl responds behind you
  438. >"Aw,"
  439. >The three of you snap around to find a small, sandy-feathered, emerald-eyed griffon peeking from behind an island
  440. >"And I was hoping I could test that out."
  441. >Nevermind wanting to shoot the autocannon before you, who is this?
  442. >Is she allowed to be in here?
  443. >Did someone let her in?
  444. >There is an awkward pause as you try to pick a question
  445. >Blender comes to your rescue
  447. >"Our most sincere apologies for denying you your fun, miss..."
  448. >"Gisela."
  449. >"Miss Gisela, but we have plans for this weapon and we must be off."
  450. >As Blender explains, Gisela the griffin walks out from behind the island
  451. >You immediately take note of the faint metallic *clink* *clink* *clink* her two forelegs are making
  452. >You look closer and find that they are entirely prosthetic, all the way up to her torso
  453. >It takes you a moment, since they're painted cleverly to match her dark brown leg-fur
  454. >You look back up to see her crestfallen expression
  455. >”But it looks like a lot of fun.”
  456. >You almost say it indeed is, but you then figure it’s best not to encourage her
  458. “This weapon isn’t for fun, miss. Besides that, why are you here?”
  459. >The little griffon is surprised, lifting a foreleg in confusion
  460. >”Well—I always visit Mrs. Tinker when I can.”
  461. >She shakes her metallic leg
  462. >”She’s the one who gave me these.”
  463. >Ah, so she’s friends with the head scientist
  464. >Must be royalty to have that kind of connection, though, so you better be caref-
  465. >*BANG*
  466. >Gisela jumps at the explosion while the three of you duck low and turn to a space to the right of the entrance
  467. >You curse yourself for not having any of the lasguns, them all being used for last-minute practice outside
  468. >You then realize the rest of the lab isn’t exploding, nor are a bunch of heavily-armed goons trashing the place
  469. >So after making sure everyone was alright, you decide to go investigate with little Gisela following your team
  471. >You find a small group of scientist pones, crowded around an island covered in familiar sets of armor and other assorted tactical gear
  472. >All of them are nursing their temples, ears, or eyes, groaning or rolling on the floor
  473. >You note the scorch mark on top of a clearing in the island
  474. >On the tiled floor is the metal remains of, what you assume to be, a flashbang
  475. >As the ponies start to shake off the effects, a deep voice calls out frantically from the side aisles
  476. >”Gisela?! Gisela!”
  477. >The little griffon perks up at the voice, calling out, “I’m here, Greg!”
  478. >Greg?
  479. >You all hear the fast rhythm of talons against tile
  480. >From the maze of machinery rushes in a much larger griffon with clothing only European medieval big wigs would have
  481. >His mass and heavily scarred head, missing many brown feathers, denotes his occupation as a soldier, and an experienced one at that
  482. >His wide grey eyes immediately find Gisela beside Trooper Blender, making him stop and relax
  483. >Rushing up behind the griffon, well out of breath, is a familiar grey-coated unicorn scientist
  484. >Aged silver hair in a bun, the blue-eyed Doctor Aluminum Tinker takes several deep breathes, gloved hoof against her chest
  486. >Little Gisela suddenly prances past you, eagerly coming to /Greg’s/ side
  487. >At the same time, Tinker finally notices you and smiles, trotting past the two seemingly familial griffons to come face to face with you
  488.  >"Anonymous! Good to see you again!"
  489. "Likewise, Doctor Tinker."
  490. >You glance at the crowd of scientists trying to clean up the mess the flashbang made
  491. "I see you're still on a roll with the inventions."
  492. >The smile becomes wider
  493. >"Oh you have no idea, Anon! I haven't been this excited for so long since my internships."
  494. >That's evident with her fidgeting in place, unable to keep still
  495. >You can't help but give her a modest smile
  496. "Well, I'm glad I've been able to make you feel younger, Doctor."
  497. >A little rude to say in front of everybody, but you've learned from your first meeting weeks ago that Aluminum takes her age in stride
  498. >Her grey cheeks gain a small blush, but your conversation is cut short by the bigger griffon striding up to you two
  499. >His voice is low, clear, and confident
  501. >"So you're the advisor. Many around the castle have been talking about you."
  502. >Now starting to force your smile, you turn squarely to the griffon
  503. "I'm sure they all have, mister..."
  504. >The scarred hybrid stares at your outstretched hand for a moment
  505. >You later would suspect he was seeing something else
  506. >He snaps out of his trance quickly, though, and shakes your hand once
  507. >"Gregario, Greatclaw and Watcher of Lady Gisela."
  508. >So a veteran bodyguard, by the sound of those titles
  509. "Anonymous, Advisor of the Canterlot Guard and leader of the Equestrain First."
  510. >The griffon soldier gives you an inquisitive look, "Equestrian First?"
  511. >You nod and take a step back
  512. "Hopefully, the first of many teams that will be utilizing these high-tech pieces of equipment here."
  513. >You gesture to the cluttered table with your watch hand, then casually flick your wrist to check the time
  514. >6:07 am
  515. "Shi-"
  516. >You catch yourself from cursing in front of young royalty
  517. >"-ip."
  518. >Everyone but the few pones cleaning up is now looking at you
  519. >Some are glaring, others are curious
  520. >Little Gisela is simply confused
  521. "Sunrise's at six-thirty, and I need to speak with the Princess before the day court swamps her."
  522. >You turn to Doctor Tinker and the other pony scientists and jab a thumb over your shoulder
  524. "Sorry for leaving before you can show us anything, but can we at least take the autocannon?"
  525. >Doctor Tinker blinked once, then answered
  526. >"Sure, go right ahead. That cannon and a few other pieces have been sitting there for a week or so."
  527. >A full week of an autocannon gathering dust?!
  528. >Jesus, you need to improve your communication with these ponies down here
  529. >But first, you need to get to Sun Horse pronto
  530. "Thank you, ma'am... What do you mean by 'other pieces'?"
  531. >"Just other small gadgets you suggested, like flares, vox casters, micro-beads..."
  532. >Hot damn, she has been working
  533. >But Sun Horse, gotta get out of here
  534. "I see. Thank you so much, Doctor. We'll be putting all of these to good use soon."
  535. >You start to back away, making sure to give a look of acknowledgement to everyone
  536. >It has to look awkward as fuck, but you just want to get going
  537. >But not before giving your two troopers here some orders
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