• Published 2nd May 2013
  • 71,579 Views, 7,291 Comments

Stardust - Arad

Can Twilight earn the trust and friendship of people who are by nature suspicious and hostile to anything that isn't 'human'?

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Stardust Supplemental Files (Pt. 4)




WARNING: Access to this file is RESTRICTED to personnel with TOP SECRET clearance or above. Attempts to access this file without authorization will be reviewed and be grounds for TERMINATION AND/OR PROSECUTION. Distribution of this file may only be done with authorization from Cmdr. David Bradford, failure to provide authorization will result in TERMINATION AND/OR PROSECUTION.

PROJECTDIV: Xenobiology/Behavioral Studies
DIVLEAD: Dr. Joel Mills, Dr. Kim Ngo
Attached Files: Transcript of interview with ‘Twilight', image links to xenobiology sources, images provided by ‘Twilight’, personal notes by DIVLEAD(Mills), supplemental notes by DIVLEAD(Ngo).

Personal Notes follow:

NEW RECORD: 08:00, 04/22/2013

After the somewhat startling revelations Twilight has brought to our attention, I made an offhanded comment based on something she mentioned: Artifacts from her world. This discussion came up and was discussed during Pvt. Jenkins’ card games and was strictly informal. Twilight provided illustrations of the artifacts in question later in the day and they have been uploaded as well. While it’s impossible for us at this time to verify the plausibility of these artifacts it does give us some cultural cues about Twilight’s world as well as some more information as to the entity known as ‘Discord’.

Listed below are the notes I have taken on some of the artifacts we discussed, as well as notes and speculation added by Dr. Kim Ngo during her interview. As this is entirely theoretical and lacking any practical applications, Dr. Moira Vahlen has declined to add her own comments.

The first of the major artifacts Twilight mentioned were what she dubbed the ‘Elements of Harmony.’ The artifacts are a set of six items that when worn and activated within close proximity are capable of significant effects. While some of the stories attributed to these Elements are more fanciful than others, Twilight confirmed they are the only things capable of imprisoning Discord.

(Ngo Supplemental)

The Elements described by Twilight and documented by Dr. Mills also seem to have significant social connotations as they require a close interpersonal relationship between each of the ‘element bearers’ as well as what might be considered ‘virtues’ in human society. These virtues are Honesty, Loyalty, Laughter, Kindness, Generosity and Magic. Below is a list of the six current element bearers as well as the virtue they represent. Pictures provided earlier by Twilight have also been linked for visual reference.

I’ve also included a bit of the relationship dynamics since they play a big key in the operation of the Elements.

(And yes, I did ask Joel to confirm these names with Twilight. They are apparently a product of her translation spell. I’m not making these up!)

Honesty – Twilight named the bearer of Honesty as ‘Applejack’, who is a produce farmer living on the outskirts of ‘Ponyville’. An ‘earth’ type pony of considerable strength and stamina, well-known for being ‘fair-hooved’ and honest with friends, family and visitors so long as they themselves are friendly. Has an enormous extended family with members in almost every major section of ‘Equestria’, and considers close friends as family as well. She is also described as being somewhat stubborn in certain situations. She has a friendly rivalry with the Element of Loyalty, and an ongoing bout of teasing with the element of Generosity. Identifying mark is three red apples.

Loyalty – Pegasus type named ‘Rainbow Dash’, a ‘weatherpony’ tasked with regulating the weather around Ponyville. She lives in a house made of clouds and can manipulate it at will to suit her needs. She is athletic, competitive and well known for her speed. She is currently the only known Pegasus currently capable of performing a ‘sonic rainboom’. She is also currently a member of the ‘Wonderbolts’, which is described as something akin to a mix between a professional air stunt team and an elite branch of the military. Although hostile to those she perceives as threats, she is extremely loyal to those who earn her respect. She has a friendly rivalry with the Element of Honesty (mostly revolving around physical contests), she is a close childhood friend to the Element of Kindness, and frequently pulls pranks on others with the aid of the Element of Laughter. Identifying mark (aside from the crazy hair) is a cloud with a rainbow/lightning bolt.

Laughter – The element of Laughter is nicknamed ‘Pinkie Pie’, though that is not her formal name. She is described as –extremely- high strung and cheerful, which may or may not be linked to the improbable amount of sugar described as part of her regular diet. Reading between the lines, she might also be described as a bit of a busy-body in that she knows every pony living in or around Ponyville and goes out of her way to make sure her comprehensive knowledge stays complete. She is also described as having abilities that are beyond what a specimen of her race should be capable of, including something bordering on teleportation, item conjuration and precognition. She also has a tendency to allude to events that no one is familiar with or speak to persons who are not present. Again, reading between the lines this seems to imply some sort of mental illness, but Twilight was reluctant to confirm any such thing. As mentioned previously, she knows every resident of Ponyville but is especially close to the Element of Loyalty in her perpetration of pranks on the populace. Identifying mark is three balloons.

Kindness – The name ‘Fluttershy’ seems rather prophetic for this Pegasus. Physically weaker than others of her race combined with hinted bullying when she was a child has turned her into a bit of a recluse around strangers, and more comfortable in the presence of the animals she cares for. Not only does she care for local wildlife when it is needed, she also cares for any domesticated animals living in Ponyville. She possesses an ability described as ‘The Stare’, which she uses on misbehaving animals or others of her species if suitably angry. While reluctant to go into specifics, Twilight’s description of the ability seems to indicate 'The Stare' is capable of inducing paralyzing fear in its target not to mention making it more susceptible to suggestion and commands. She is a childhood friend of the Element of Loyalty, as well as a close friend of the element of Generosity. Identifying mark is a trio of butterflies.

Generosity – I find it just a little ironic that the name for this element is ‘Rarity’, but then again it might just be my human cynicism getting in the way. She is a unicorn type who is a tailor of fine goods and formal wear for Ponyville. She is also talented at finding gemstones, as well. She considers herself ‘high class’ in appearance, speech and behavior. She also basks in the attention of others. When I started to subtly probe for further signs of potential narcissism, I was soundly rebuked with several stories of her willingness to sacrifice for others. She also has some friendly antagonism with the element of Honesty, in that she considers AJ to be a backwards hillbilly while AJ considers Rarity to be a snooty fancy-pants. She is also close friends with the element of Kindness. Identifying mark is three diamonds.

Magic – The element bearer of Magic is none other than Twilight herself. She is friends with all of the other elements as well as acquainted with a large portion of Ponyville due to her status as the town’s librarian. She also claims to be the personal student of Princess Celestia and a close friend to Princess Luna, the apparently nigh-immortal co-rulers of her country. Her brother is also highly placed in the military and is married to Princess Cadance, who rules a fiefdom neighboring their nation. I think I may have mentioned earlier that Frank would have some interesting comments on the stresses of such a highly-placed set of friends, and just about everyone in the Stardust project has had a chance to witness some of Twilight’s neurosis. But for all her faults, she is studious and dedicated to learning, and has impressive memory recall. She also greatly attributes her capacity for magic to her studious nature. Her identifying mark is a large starburst surrounded by five smaller starbursts.

What makes things interesting between the elements and their bearers is that they all seem to be related. Through coincidence, far-sighted precognition, or ‘fate’, the physical manifestations of the elements (described as jewelry, like necklaces) are directly linked to the identifying marks of the bearer who wields them. As the Elements themselves are over a thousand years old, for them to be crafted to match the marks of their bearers a thousand years in advance is extremely improbable. However unlikely, that leaves only two other options: That the identifying marks for the elements were predetermined and that the lives of these six individuals were engineered to become the new bearers, or the physical manifestations of the elements themselves change their appearance to best match their new bearers.

There is also the functional nature of the Elements when activated to consider. Each of the physical manifestations of the elements by themselves are nonfunctional, a simple trinket to be worn. Also, even if they are together but the element bearers are not appropriate, they will not function. However, if the proper conditions are met then they can be activated and directed to great effect. According to Twilight, the elements were used a millennia prior to banish Luna to the moon, and before that they were used to petrify Discord. More recently they were used to re-petrify the escaped Discord, then break him free in an attempt to reform him. I didn’t voice it, but I have to question the decision to let this ‘Discord’ free. If he’s as bad as described I’d let him stay a garden gnome forever, but I’m getting off topic.

Just prior to the second petrification, Discord was able to prevent the elements from being used on him successfully by corrupting the bearers of the elements themselves. When asked about the nature of this ‘corruption’, she explained it as being forced into the opposite of their true nature. Generosity became greed, kindness became cruelty and so forth. After a brief explanation on the process (Twilight was understandably leery about recounting the tale), it seems that the ability is unique to Discord as he attacks the victim’s beliefs verbally until they question themselves, though he can simply force the change on his victim if he so chooses. The process was only reversed through the use of some of Twilight’s magic to achieve something akin to a cognitive reset to before the attack by Discord. While Discord himself is a fascinating topic, he isn’t the main issue at hand.

Since the elements respond only to those with certain virtues, and only if the bearers are close to one another, which lends some rather interesting evidence to the theory that Twilight’s race is passively psychic or empathic as a whole. It would make sense that they would make tools to take advantage of something they consider to be a part of their natural physiology and psychology. After all, we humans make just about everything we have based on the assumption that the user will have thumbs. It’s so basic to our nature that we never even consider a user who uses things in a different manner. (Granted there are exceptions in that case for handicapped people)

When I was positing this theory to Joel, he brought up one of the many species Twilight had mentioned during one of the first interviews: Changelings. Shapeshifters and emotional vampires do fit the picture that Twilight is painting for us. Twilight has mentioned repeatedly that friendship and certain emotions have special power in her home, so it wouldn’t seem too far-fetched for a parasitic organism to develop specifically to leech that power. Joel also mentioned that Twilight was extremely reluctant to speak further on Changelings and speculated that it may be due to a bad personal experience with one. If so, I hope she comes to trust us enough to eventually talk to us about it.

(End Supplemental)

The second artifact Twilight mentioned was something called the ‘Alicorn Amulet.’ She describes it as a triangular necklace with a ruby in its center, with stylized wings and a horned head along the top, and it is stated to be able to enhance the magical powers of its wearer at the gradual cost of their sanity. It cannot be removed by anyone other than the person who wears it.

(Ngo Supplemental)

While we only have Twilight’s personal experience to go on, I suspect the amulet somehow interacts with the ‘horn lobe’ (for lack of a better term) section of the unicorn brain to allow for much greater power draw and control, which eventually causes mental degradation. To be honest the thing sounds like one of the cursed items you’d find in video games these days.

(End Supplemental)

The third artifact that came up was called the ‘Crystal Heart’. The name is an accurate description of the artifact, and it is kept at the center of the Crystal Empire. It is described as the emotional focus of the residents of that particular region, and the region itself was subjugated by ‘Sombra’ when he managed to take and hide the crystal himself. Sombra was eventually defeated when the heart was recovered and used by Princess Cadance.

(Ngo Supplemental)

And here we have some more evidence to support the theories that have been cooking. If the powers of emotions that this species has could be focused into a container like this Crystal Heart, perhaps supercharged with a little help from Cadance, then I imagine it would be quite the trump card. Especially when a political rival like this Sombra decides to encroach on your territories.

Cadance is appearing to be more and more the biggest threat out of all three of the princesses described, especially with this Crystal Heart.

Another thing to consider is that Princess Cadance’s identifying mark bears a strikingly similar appearance to the Crystal Heart itself. Like the Elements, such a thing cannot be coincidence.

(End Supplemental)

The last artifact Twilight mentioned that I felt should be recorded in these notes is a quartet of items called ‘Clover Leaves’, allegedly wielded by a unicorn leader known as ‘Clover the Clever’ during a time of civil war between the three major races of Twilight’s species. While I wouldn’t normally rank this necessary to be included in these notes since the total information on these items isn’t very complete, what Twilight did say caught my attention.

Apparently the Clover Leaves were created using a mineral known as ‘Arcanite’, which is noteworthy for being able to amplify or store the effects of the ‘magic’ cast upon it. Its usage was banned after the resolution of the civil war and all stockpiles of the element were destroyed as well as a sign of peace towards the other races. Apparently during the civil war unicorn soldiers were dramatically outnumbered by their ‘earth’ counterparts, and they lacked the weather control and speed of the pegasi, so Arcanite-enhanced unicorns became equivalent to super soldiers.

As there’s no way of knowing just what element ‘Arcanite’ is in terms of Earth standards, I’ve brought the subject up with Dr. Vahlen and we’ve agreed that further testing should be attempted with a variety of elements to see if this ‘Arcanite’ ends up being something we can use. If we could use that with Twilight to create some sort of wearable gear to mimic the effects of her ‘wallflower’ spell, I’m quite certain our operational casualties would be significantly reduced. Hell, if it’s something ridiculously abundant like aluminum and is permanent when cast, we could line the XCOM facility with it and maybe get to go outside more often.

Attached to this entry is a more detailed list and description of artifacts mentioned by Twilight, as well as illustrations for most of those described.

In the end I think this might have turned out for the best, despite the verbal lashing just about everyone got from Bradford. Here’s hoping we have a breakthrough soon for all our sakes and Twilight most of all.



DIVLEAD: Dr. Moira Vahlen
Attached Files: Visual footage of subject performing newly discovered abilities, personal notes by DIVLEAD.

Personal Notes follow:

NEW RECORD: 17:00, 04/28/2015

After the events of Operation Silent Rain, the subject was discovered to possess more abilities than we were previously led to believe. Moreover, these abilities are capable of altering perception of objects and people which is approaching dangerous ground in terms of alien capabilities. The moment these abilities became known, I ordered a complete review of security footage of the Stardust Labs as well as the entire XCOM facility. There has been no indication of the subject using its abilities to escape the confines of its habitat thus far, but this subject has a reputation for achieving things without leaving proof behind.

Testing of the subject was delayed mainly to properly gather evidence on the ability in question as well as to test the artifact retrieved during Silent Rain.

1. The subject calls the ability ‘Wallflower’, and like the name implies it renders the target unnoticeable.

a. Line of sight is required to activate the ability but not maintain it

b. The ability can be maintained so long as the power source (the subject) remains active. If not actively maintained, the effect begins to wear off within an hour, and within three it is no longer present

c. Targets under the effect of this ability cannot be specifically noticed by observers. Conditions and exceptions have been noted:

i. If an observer can see the target while the ability is being cast, then they are not affected by it.

ii. If an observer is able to see several similar objects where only one is affected, the presence of the affected target may be noticed but specifics the affected object cannot be distinguished or identified within the group. Cmdr. Bradford first reported this phenomenon, and it was reproduced in lab conditions with Pvt Jenkins.

iii. If the target brings attention deliberately toward itself through speaking or touching an observer, the effect is broken. Sounds not specifically recognizable as originating from the target are an exception and aren’t heard at all. (Tests included identification by voice, as well as clapping and other various sources of noise)

iv. Sense of smell is not affected by this ability, and if the smell is strong enough or easily identified, the ability may fail.

v. Observers viewing the affected targets through an electronic medium such as a camera are not affected by the ability.

vi. All tested electronic security devices thus far have also not been affected by the ability. Methods tested include security cameras, motion sensors, laser sensors, retinal scanners and fingerprint scanners.

1. This will need to be retested if we can capture Floater specimens alive. As Floaters have extensive mechanical replacements for their eyes, it cannot be guaranteed that this ability will work against them.

d. Observers tested immediately after or during the effects of these tests showed no abnormal brain activity, nor have any of those exposed to the ability during Operation Silent Rain reported any signs of trouble or behavior changes.
2. The subject’s second ability was entitled ‘Want It, Need It’, and is the inverse of Wallflower in that it makes the target extremely noticeable.

a. Line of sight is required to activate the ability. No maintenance is required as the spell itself is designed with a variable duration.

b. Targets under the effects of this ability are extremely noticeable to observers. Observers also feel compelled to take the object in question, and keep it from others.

i. Observers in this testing were mice, as the subject refused to use the ability where humans might be affected.

ii. Regardless of if the observer is watching the target before or after the ability is used, all test subjects have shown the same effects.

iii. All other objects will be ignored in favor of the targeted object.

iv. Observers viewing the targeted object through an electronic medium such as a camera are not affected by the ability.

c. Testing of this ability has ceased due to new guidelines instituted to ensure the… comfort of the subject.

Larger scale testing is planned to resume for the ‘Wallflower’ ability, and we will attempt to revisit the other ability if possible.

At this point I would like to put a personal thought in writing: I told you so! This is clearly mental manipulation in some form! If perceptions can be altered with abilities such as this, then what else can be altered? I’ve reviewed both Dr. Mills and Dr. Ngo’s notes and Twilight herself admits there is precedent for mind control in everything but name. A ruler that can manipulate emotions? An entity that can force behavioral changes? This ‘Twilight’ is either ridiculously naïve to believe these abilities are as benign as she describes, or she is covering something up. The subject herself can manipulate the perceptions of those around her at will; these recent abilities further verify my belief that this project is becoming a danger to XCOM for as long as it is allowed to continue.

However, I have been overruled and testing will continue until significant breakthroughs are achieved or we’re all dead at the ‘hooves’ of this monster and its allies; or killing each other at its behest.

On the subject of breakthroughs, testing is also planned using various materials to try and find an earth equivalent to the ‘Arcanite’ material described by the subject. If we are able to make a breakthrough with this line of testing, we may be able to use this specimen’s abilities to benefit the XCOM project. If it is also capable of being stored artificially we may have better results when it comes to detecting and measuring the power itself. If we can finally make some progress, the subject may no longer be necessary to continue our research.

Another comment mentioned by Joel was to discuss the practical applications for this ability if we are able to reproduce it artificially. His suggestion for using it as part of our soldiers' standard equipment is a practical choice but not very imaginative. The Super Heavy Infantry Vehicles (or SHIVs as Shen calls them) performed admirably on their first mission but all three were damaged severely by the end, and may not be available for further deployment for another two weeks. If this ‘Wallflower’ could be applied to the SHIVs then it would make up for its most glaring weakness: A lack of subtlety. A SHIV controlled by a skilled operator can perform impressive feats that would be far too dangerous for a human to complete, but the noise that the vehicle generates combined with its relatively high profile shape makes it far too clumsy to be used on missions where discretion is necessary.

The second application that immediately comes to mind would be using this ability on our Skyrangers. While they already use stealth characteristics and heat baffling to evade most conventional detection methods, they are still VTOL aircraft that often land in highly populated urban environments. This, unfortunately, leads to pictures and video of both the Skyrangers and our troops in the field and gives our organization attention that it most certainly doesn’t want. If this ability could be used on the Skyrangers we could produce the first aircraft truly capable of the ‘stealth’ trait and it would greatly reduce the visibility of our operations as a whole.

This could also be applied to our interceptors, which I suspect would drastically improve their kills and survivability in the field against the vastly superior alien craft.

Of course, all of these possibilities rely on our ability to crack the secrets that the subject is hiding. We’re close. I can feel it.

And since the subject has decided to be so helpful, I've made arrangements for it to assist with an experiment using other resources obtained during Operation Silent Rain. The subject’s demonstrated abilities can be used to revisit lines of research that were previously thought dead or nonviable.

If the subject’s reluctance to display its new abilities prevents a breakthrough in that field, then we will use its already displayed abilities to make progress in others.