• Published 2nd May 2013
  • 58,988 Views, 7,165 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. 6)

ROADBLOCKS IN NORTH DAKOTA LIFTED OVERNIGHT WITHOUT NOTIFICATION OR EXPLANATION FROM STATE OR FEDERAL AUTHORITIES. LOCAL SALVAGE YARD EMPLOYEE TED STEFFENS REPORTS WRECKAGE OF MASSIVE ALIEN CRAFT SPOTTED IN COUNTRYSIDE OUTSIDE CAPITOL: “THING’S BEEN PICKED CLEANER THAN A WALLET ON THE SOUTH SIDE. NOTHING LEFT BUT A SKELETON.”

NORTH DAKOTA GOVERNOR PRESSED FOR ANSWERS BY INCREASINGLY ANGRY PUBLIC AS NO OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT OF CASUALTIES WITHIN THE NATIONAL GUARD IS MADE BUT MULTIPLE FAMILES REPORT RECEIVING NOTIFICATIONS OF FAMILY MEMBERS KILLED IN ACTION.

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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.

PROJECTID: Stardust
PROJECTDIV: Physics
DIVLEAD: Dr. Moira Vahlen
Attached files: Transcript of discussion regarding implants with Twilight Sparkle, images of implants extracted during Project [REDACTED], Blueprints of Elerium ‘circuits’ created by Twilight Sparkle, Schematic of Thaumaturgical Energy Detector (TED), Recorded Data from TED, Personal Notes by DIVLEAD.

NEW RECORD: 08:40, 05/03/2015

After the unexpected communication received from Twilight's homeworld, it is believed that Elerium may in fact be the 'Arcanite' we have sought to locate in an attempt to replicate her abilities. I've secured a sample approximately 1kg in weight with around 85% pure Elerium. The imperfect ratio comes from the nature of recovery of the sample at the crash site of an alien craft. Origins of the sample are believed to be part of the power source of the craft, but such speculation is irrelevant at this point.

Testing will begin shortly.

UPDATE: 9:10, 05/03/2015

Testing is complete but the results were not what we anticipated. Indeed they are far more promising than previously anticipated. We have confirmed Elerium as an analog to the 'Arcanite' described by Twilight, or at least is sufficiently close enough that the effects are similar if not enhanced.

After studying the video footage of the test, I've come up with a hypothesis as to the exact behavior of Elerium in response to Twilight's abilities. Initial hypothesis was that it would simply glow while in the presence of her abilities, so the test was to expose the sample to her telekinesis by raising the sample approximately one foot in the air. Using previous footage as examples, the anticipated velocity of this was going to be 2ft per second.

While my numbers are only rough estimates based on the time stamps and footage from the security cameras on several floors of the XCOM base, what actually occurred was an upward velocity 15 times greater at the minimum. Further comparison of the timestamps shows that Twilight's spell was broken the moment the sample broke through the ceiling of the Stardust lab (illumination on her horn disappearing), but the corresponding illumination of the sample persisted as it exited the top floor of the facility.

The implications of this result are two-fold: At a minimum, Elerium dramatically increases the effect of any spell cast upon it. However, the continuation of the effect beyond its channeled duration was not anticipated either. Perhaps the effect isn't the only trait that's enhanced but also the duration of the ability, or perhaps the spell itself becomes self-sustaining when cast directly upon Elerium? This will require further testing to confirm. I foresee no problems convincing Twilight to participate in testing with her illumination ability in a more secure environment that won't risk the safety of the rest of the facility.

The second fact this brings up is that Twilight's magic can be used to hurl a projectile through reinforced solid surfaces without spalling so long as the effect is maintained on the projectile itself. By all rights the Elerium should have shattered into a thousand pieces after passing through the first level of the base, but it remained intact through several floors and the report from the situation room seems to imply it stayed intact as it left Earth's orbit. If we can find a way to recreate the spellcasting process, we may be able to create a weapon system that renders all conventional armor systems moot with projectiles as mundane as pencils.

On a personal note, I hope Commander Bradford is right. It would be quite pleasant to hear that our little experiment knocked an invader out of the sky purely by accident.

This testing also brings up a -very- important point for XCOM and any future relations with Twilight's people. With the confirmation that Elerium is Arcanite or at least closely related to it, it also confirms that her homeworld is (or was) rich in the mineral. If contact is established formally, I strongly recommend an agreement be reached to secure a steady source of Elerium from them rather than having to rely upon imperfect and often damaged salvage from alien craft.

I'll have to remember to send a message to Commander Bradford asking for clarification on the potential first contact scenarios that don't involve the invaders. As unlikely as that sounded a month ago, we cannot dismiss the likelihood of it happening now, especially when an extremely valuable resource could be gained by establishing good relations early on.

It might also be good to reiterate that if such relations were spoiled due to hostility, we might face an entirely new invasion force using Elerium in a manner that puts the current invaders to shame.

On that note, it suddenly seems a bit more believable if not plausible that Twilight's rulers are capable of moving their corresponding celestial bodies if they have access to the 'Arcanite boosters' described by her. Her drawings of both Celestia and Luna depict them wearing a crown and collar that might fill that role. If crafted specifically to enhance their abilities then it doesn't seem so far fetched.

Twilight will need some time to recover from today's testing, plus the lab itself will need to undergo repairs for the damage incurred. Bradford was not pleased with the damage but I feel that this breakthrough was worth it. And I'm quite certain he will as well once we're able to convert this into something we can use in the field.

UPDATED: 15:00, 05/02/2015

During the operation alert, I took the time to review some of the information retrieved from other projects, and on a whim I reviewed some of the implants recovered from Sectoids and more specifically the 'Sectoid Commander' recovered during the earliest operations undertaken by us. The use and meaning of the implants were only speculated due to obvious reasons, but upon reviewing the files I noted that the contents of the implants were extremely delicate and complex patterns resembling circuitry composed of Elerium.

After the discoveries that Twilight helped us uncover, combined with the location of the implants in the Sectoids, brains I started to suspect that she might be able to provide insight into the nature or exact function of the implants.

I was right.

The first implant, labeled (A), is used to gather the energy that Twilight uses from the 'Field' to power her abilities. The possibilities of this are extremely tantalizing. If this circuitry can be refined, increased in scale and retrofitted into the base, we may find the base's power concerns a non-issue. Depending on the scale of power generated, this might completely eliminate the energy crisis that our world was facing prior to the invaders.

I was at first worried that this would violate another one of our cherished laws of the universe, namely the conservation of energy, but Twilight described the field's mechanics suitably though it still rankles me greatly that she's referencing an entire branch of science we're completely ignorant of. The energy of the Field is returned to it as it is used by her abilities. The energy is never truly consumed, merely borrowed and converted, then returned to the Field.

The only weakness I can see in creating a power generator with this methodology is that we will require a 'jump start' from Twilight before it can become self sustaining. If I'm right, once one Elerium generator is running, it can jump-start further generators, or perhaps even charge batteries of a fashion with this 'Field Energy'. I imagine if we're to replicate these powers artificially and in the field, we'll need portable power supplies.

I suspect that this revelation will be the most beneficial for mankind in the long run.

The second implant (B) was described by Twilight as a form of receiver. While I didn't openly speculate as to what it was receiving, I have strong suspicions that it's tied to the nature of the third implant, especially since this second implant is found in virtually all invaders found thus far.

The third implant (C) was met with gratifying horror from Twilight. Her description of its intended use is the offensive projection of the user's will upon a target. This is seen as a high crime amongst Twilight's people, which goes a long way to dispel any lingering doubts I harbored regarding her nature. Either she is a very good liar, or she is completely sincere in her disgust regarding such abilities. But I digress.

Twilight's confirmation of this ability certainly accounts for the behavior of certain soldiers found in one of XCOM's earliest operations, where they opened fire on our troops to precede the invaders starting their own attack. I also suspect there's a more sinister application when combined with the second implant. With the second implant I suspect the third can be used to remotely access the senses of the reciever, as well as communicate or even assume direct control.

I may contact Engineering to see if we can arrange for the glass in the Containment cells to be one-way mirrors if there's any possibility of invader commanders looking through the eyes of the captives at us.

After Twilight's reaction to the third implant plus her understanding of the basic mechanics of all three, I took the initiative and pitched the idea that she assist us in creating our own devices to ostensibly defend ourselves against the invaders. Once we can ascertain the basic concepts of how to fabricate our own imitations of her abilities, we can come up with more complex applications or even start creating our own effects.

From what I've heard regarding the Strike Teams, they could really use help levelling the playing field against the invaders. I intend to give them more than that. If decoding Twilight's abilities is the key to saving human lives, then I will do everything possible to learn from Twilight.

I've delegated the task of analyzing the artifacts retrieved from the alien ships to my subordinates that aren't associated with the Stardust Project. They are all capable with the various debris the invaders leave behind, but my time is more wisely spent on Stardust now.

UPDATED: 09:02, 05/03/2015

Another discovery has presented itself that is just as unexpected as all the others Twilight has warranted. But some explanation is in order to adequately describe just what was discovered and how.

Twilight finished the blueprints of an Elerium circuit that would be designed specifically to detect the energies of the Field that she manipulates for her spells. These designs were delivered to Engineering where they were worked into an existing detection device, specifically an audio/visual/thermal recorder, where the thermal display was adapted to interpret the information generated from Twilight's design.

Initial testing proved the concept almost immediately, as the 'thermal' component of the device quickly detected a bloom radiating from the location of the Stardust lab with a bright spot that could only be Twilight Sparkle. I decided to take readings from various locations within the base to determine if the base structures themselves in any way shielded Twilight's signature, and I discovered what appears to be an effect of the field on the world itself.

While switching from Thermal to visual mode on the detection device, I noticed that the closer a location is in proximity to the Stardust lab, the colors of the area appear to brighten. In contrast, the further the location is from the lab, the less the color changes. There is no change in illumination but the colors are noticeably richer, especially when compared with security footage of the exact same areas one month prior. I've shown the images to both Dr. Ngo and Dr. Mills and both noticed the color changes in the footage before I specifically mentioned it. Neither of them have an idea as to how this is possible, and I find myself straining to come up with a plausible hypothesis.

This isn't alteration of perception, as Twilight has indicated the 'Wallflower' power is capable of. Security footage taken and time-lapsed for the month clearly shows the gradual change to the areas around Stardust, and its gradual spread from there to the rest of the base.

The only hypothesis, the only cause I can think of is Twilight due to the timing as well as the corresponding readings that the detection device is now showing us. Twilight has mentioned repeatedly that prior to her arrival, the 'Field' was stiff and inflexible due to lack of use and that with repeated access it would become more easily accessed and used. Could the 'Field' be passively affecting the properties of the world without Twilight's input? Could this also affect the people that are on the base itself?

I've sent requests for increased screening to Medical to watch for any sort of trends with all personnel that report for their checkups. If there is any sort of side effect, I would imagine those closest to Twilight would have seen some sort of reaction before hand.

UPDATE: 17:00, 05/03/2015

After the meeting with Commander Bradford, I have taken it upon myself to call in favors with some of my former colleagues that now work at SETI and politely requested any information they had regarding any solar systems with unusual behavior. For security's sake, I gave them several sets of parameters to look for, all under the pretense of trying to locate the invader's homeworld.

The true reason for the request is to locate Twilight's home, as all parties at the meeting agreed it would be a far stronger position to possess if we know as much as we can before the inevitable first contact between us and this new power. For all of Twilight's assertions of the benevolence of her teacher, we all agreed that it is simply too risky to trust just her account of her country's (or world's?) ruler.

As soon as SETI sends their initial findings to us for review, we'll begin scanning the systems in question with the detection device Twilight provided us. Dr. Shen feels that he can create a scanner that can be attached to one of our satellites launching later this month that might be able to detect her homeworld in the same manner the hand held device detects Twilight's presence.

I've never been mistaken for an optimist, but I get the feeling that this will be the first real positive the Earth has to look forward to for centuries to come.

Assuming it's ever declassified enough for the public to be aware of it.

END LOG

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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.

PROJECTID: Stardust
PROJECTDIV: Supplemental
DIVLEAD: Dr. Frank McKendrick
Attached files: Personal Notes by DIVLEAD

NEW RECORD: 18:40, 05/02/2015

I was able to have my first real conversation with Twilight Sparkle this afternoon, and she is everything I both feared and hoped for. All other observations are validated and need no further detailed discussion. She is extremely intelligent and detail-oriented to the point of obsession, as well as having a creative and dedicated mind. She also has several problems that, while exacerbated by her time here on Earth, were originally started in her childhood.

As observed on multiple occasions, Twilight has shown a reluctance to use certain abilities for various reasons. It was initially believed that this was due to the traumatic nature of her arrival and the subsequent violence she participated in, but her 'acceptance' as the student of Princess Celestia is the true cause in my opinion. She was lauded for her abilities when they first manifested, but during that manifestation she lost control of her powers and could have quite easily injured or killed not only herself but her parents and innocent bystanders as well.

Combine this near-catastrophic accident with the suddenly added pressure of being the personal student of the god-figure of your world and you get a pressure cooker. Like her work and her space, her use of abilities is exact and precise and she isn't satisfied with anything less than perfection for long. Any perceived failure on her part is a catastrophic blow to her confidence, so great care must be taken not to give the impression of criticism when she uses her abilities.

She also displays a significant degree of naivety when it comes to the nature of military operations. I didn't directly question her on her thoughts on XCOM, but I did ask her about her brother's duties as part of her nation's military. She couldn't elaborate on the specifics of his duties beyond simple protection, which leads me to believe that either her homeland hasn't seen war in ages, or she was kept in the dark. To clarify, she -is- aware of the concepts of war and all that entails, but she seems completely certain that no such violence is possible so long as both her teacher and her brother are able to prevent it.

On a related note, Twilight also holds extremely strong beliefs when it comes to the act of killing. She believes under no circumstance can it be justified, and she backed this by stating that not even Celestia had executed anyone in the thousand years of her reign, not even her sister when she staged a coup to try and take the throne for herself not once but twice.

Because of these two traits, I strongly recommend that any discussions regarding the offensive applications of Twilight's abilities NOT be discussed while in her presence. I fully expect her to endorse and assist with any efforts for us to create purely defensive or utilitarian applications of her abilities, but once she realizes her gifts are being used to kill, her most likely reactions will be horror or outrage at best. At worst she may begin to see us as a threat and try to defend herself accordingly. Such an outcome would be costly for all sides.

Lastly, Twilight is extremely attached to the friends she has made amongst the Stardust personnel. She asked several times about the well-being of both Matt Harris and Lana Jenkins, which I did my best to avoid answering. At the time of this writing, Ms. Jenkins is in stable but critical condition down in medical, and was declared dead before miraculously coming back to life.

Twilight is aware of the concept of death and dying, so I strongly feel that if either Mr. Harris or Ms. Jenkins were to die during the course of their duties then Twilight could become self-destructive if she feels that she could have saved them in any way. Ms. Jenkins' injuries will prevent her from being killed in action assuming she pulls through, but there still is the very real risk of the worst happening to Mr. Harris in the field. I am also more inclined to assume the worst case scenario should Mr. Harris fall in battle due to Twilight's attachment to him specifically. I tried to probe the nature of this attachment but Twilight became evasive and changed the subject repeatedly, which only makes me more worried.

While I cannot recommend his removal from duty rotation after the losses the last operation incurred, I cannot stress enough the risk of Mr. Harris being deployed in the field as his injury or death would make Twilight significantly more difficult to handle.

I would also strongly encourage Lana's initial visit to Twilight after her recovery be monitored as well as accompanied by Mr. Shen and Mr. Harris at the minimum. Seeing her friend maimed in such a way will likely provoke a strong reaction.

END LOG

EDIT: Stardust may be your project but Twilight is still technically my patient, and the exact content of our conversation is confidential. I can give you my impressions but I'm not handing over the transcripts, Moira.

EDIT2: Dr. Joel Mills observed the conversation we had to ensure no sensitive topics were discussed or any security breaches took place. Proper procedure was followed to the letter.

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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.

PROJECTID: Stardust
PROJECTDIV: Xenobiology
DIVLEAD: Dr. Joel Mills
Attached files: Personal notes by DIVLEAD

NEW RECORD: 18:00, 05/02/2015

I am so glad I volunteered to be Frank's wingman for his meeting with Twilight. That big hairy genius was able to wrestle out of Twilight one of the subjects I have been -dying- to know about since our first interview: The Changelings.

To review, Twilight had previously shown a significant amount of reluctance in discussing the Changelings beyond the basics, and when in-depth questions were asked she expressed discomfort and the subject was dropped. Due to their nature as emotional leeches I immediately suspected a bad personal experience with one such changeling because of her reluctance. I was only partially correct.

Twilight first encountered the Changelings during her brother's wedding. Unlike my previous theory that Twilight was a victim of the changelings, it seems her brother (Shining Armor) was the target instead. The Changeling known as 'Chrysalis' kidnapped and then assumed the identity of Cadance, Shining's fiance. Chrysalis then used her position to fatally undermine the capital's defenses to allow a force of changelings into the city.

The changelings were repelled once the real Cadance was freed and reunited with Shining Armor. The method of repulsion was rather unique, at least if I'm reading between the lines correctly. As mentioned previously, Cadance draws her power from emotions and can manipulate them as well while Shining Armor's power appears to be a mastery of various shield and barrier spells. Again, reading between the lines, upon Cadance's arrival, her power increased exponentially due to Shining Armor's emotions toward her, and she then fed the excess power back into him. The bubble shield he created expanded out from the chamber they were in to encompass the entire city while hurling every changeling out.

It didn't feel tactful to mention, but I wonder if changelings that were indoors were crushed between the walls and the spell as it expanded...

Regardless, this confirms most of my theories. Chrysalis, at the height of her power while she was leeching the emotions of Shining Armor, was able to direct enough power to defeat Celestia in a power struggle. Twilight was quite descriptive in the collossal amount of power that was used by both sides of the fight, but I personally suspect that Celestia was holding back. If she is truly as strict with her 'no kill' policy as Twilight says, she was likely watching out for the safety of the innocents in the room as much as Chrysalis.

Oh, and apparently Luna slept through the whole thing. She must be a VERY heavy sleeper. Or cast some variation of Twilight's silence spell as she slept.

Aside from sating my curiosity regarding the changelings, this also brings up two very interesting points: One, the princesses are not omnipotent, as Cadance was kidnapped (though she's a lesser princess apparently) and the deception wasn't revealed even while in the presence of Celestia herself.

The second point is that, at least in this one anecdotal example, Celestia did not resort to fatal levels of violence even if it would have saved herself from defeat during the fight. Such a story, if it is true, goes a long way to calming my fears at least that XCOM is bringing the wrath of an angry god against all humanity for harming a single hair on Twilight's head. While I have no doubt that she COULD be pushed that far, it is reassuring to know that she won't hurl us into the sun because we didn't have sweets for Twilight.

I hope.

END LOG

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FROM: Cmdr David Bradford
TO: Strike Team Leaders
DATE: 05/06/2015, 08:00
SUBJECT: New Targets

Effective immediately, when Strike teams encounter undocumented or unknown aliens, the following guidelines are to be followed:

1.) Do not fire upon them unless aggressive action is taken against humans (XCOM or others) by the subject.
2.) If the subject attempts to approach Strike team personnel in a non-hostile manner, retreat unless otherwise ordered.
3.) If subjects engage or are engaged by known invader aliens in combat, all Strike team personnel are to report immediately and then assume overwatch until other orders are received or the conditions of 1 or 2 are fulfilled.
4.) If subjects are seen working in concert or cooperating with known invader aliens, normal rules of engagement and reporting apply.
5.) All sightings are to be forwarded immediately to Cmdr David Bradford and Dr. Moira Vahlen for analysis.

As always, consider your number one priority is the mission and the safety of your squads; but if any new or unusual aliens are spotted that fit the above profile, check your targets and tread carefully.

If there are any questions, my office is open.

Cmdr. David Bradford.

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