• Published 2nd May 2013
  • 59,493 Views, 7,196 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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A dark and quiet room is flooded with faint light as a video monitor turns on to reveal the silhouette of a man. A bright light shines behind him that hides his features from view. He clasps his hands before him and speaks in a grave tone.

“Hello, commander. Your performance in your position as the leader of XCOM has been an astounding success thus far. The alien invaders are being matched and beaten by our forces at every turn with the help of unexpected allies. While the war continues, Earth has begun to recover and it is thanks to your efforts.”

*Scene opens to a video feed of armored human soldiers along with a Pegasus and Unicorn sprinting down the ramp of a Skyranger and into a massive parking lot where the burning wreck of an invader craft lies.*

*Scene changes to a set of wooden double doors. The doors open to reveal a scarred Asian man wearing a black suit, earwig and sunglasses. The man scans the room and noting the dozens of middle-aged men and women in formalwear before stepping aside to reveal a uniformed unicorn with a blue mane and white coat and an equally business-like expression.*

“However, the successes we have experienced may have been at the expense of nations not directly affiliated with the Council. Recent intelligence suggests the invaders have shifted their war efforts to a new front.”

*Scene reveals a lavender Alicorn sitting in front of a massive pile of books and scrolls. She scribbles happily away before freezing in place. Her eyes go wide as she turns to the open balcony door to look out to the setting sun.*

*Scene changes a darkened night sky surrounding a city made of clouds. None of the city’s sleeping residents are awake or alert enough to notice several stars fall from the sky until they resolve themselves into menacing metal shapes with points of glowing green fire pointed at the city.*

*Scene changes to a standoff in a half-destroyed hedge garden. A thin, tall figure in white robes and wearing a metal helmet that completely covers its head is flanked by two massive bipedal figures in red body armor. The red-armored giants level massive guns towards the force opposing them; a pure white Alicorn standing over the unconscious form of another of her kind.*

“Our allies have reported widespread attacks on their homeland, and they are ill-equipped to defend themselves against this enemy. This ally has proven to be an invaluable asset to this organization, and so the Council has elected to render all necessary aid for this ally as well as deny the aliens the opportunity to turn these allies against us.”

“The operatives you send to complete this mission will have access to the greatest technological breakthroughs this organization has developed. Agents with… special skills will be made available to assist in field operations.”

*Scene changes rapidly between several human soldiers equipping themselves with heavy armor and loading several rifles as well as other pieces of equipment.*

*Scene cuts to an object falling from high in the sky. Several smoke grenades detach from it as it falls into a deserted alleyway now completely obscured by smoke. The electric whine of a gatling gun is immediately followed by an ear-splitting buzz as a twelve foot tall MEC sprints out of the smoke with its gun blazing.*

*Scene reveals the burning remains of a small town with two invader ships hovering nearby and with several hulking armored aliens firing bolts of green fire at the wooden buildings. Their attention shifts as a lone unarmored human in a military uniform teleports into the town square. The aliens turn and fire at the human but the plasma bolts simply vanish before they can connect with their target. The human’s unbalanced laughter can be heard cutting across the square as he raises his left hand and points upward. Dozens, then hundreds of portals appear behind the human and a wall of green plasma flies back at the aliens.*

“The operative you place in command must also be skilled in diplomacy as other allies may join or refuse our cause based on our actions.”

*Scene shows two large double doors open to reveal a round table around which several species sit. Minotaur, Zebra, Buffalo are easily identified and are clearly skeptical of the human entering the room. Two Alicorns, one pink and the other midnight blue, nod and smile at the new arrival.*

*Scene cuts to what appears to be a bed chamber and a mismatched serpentine body made up of several different animal parts looking away from the viewer. The uneven yellow eyes are horrified at the sight before them. He slowly turns around the room darkens. A voice devoid of all humor asks, “You will give me what I want, or I will take it from you. And I can assure you I won’t be gentle.”*

*A robed and helmeted form stands rail straight as a wall of black chitin churns around it. Slowly the insect-like creatures part to reveal a far taller member of the same species with emerald green eyes. Those eyes survey the alien figure before their owner states with amusement, “Welcome to my parlor said the spider to the fly.”*

“Maintaining the alliance must be given the utmost importance, as the invaders have also begun to escalate their prosecution of this war. There have also been reports of… collaborators in their midst. If these rumors are true, commander, you are authorized to neutralize them with extreme prejudice.”

*Scene shows a massive darkened hallway with an Earth pony trotting further into the darkness. A Unicorn guard notices this and follows. When it becomes apparent the Earth pony is heading further and further into the darkness, the guard takes a deep breath to speak. Whatever he planned to say was lost as tentacles wrap around his barrel and neck and drag him off into the darkness. The Earth pony looks back with its yellow reptilian eyes before resuming its course.*

*Scene cuts to a battle in progress between humans, Equestrians and the aliens. An alien ship hovers over the battlefield just long enough to teleport reinforcements to assist. Among them is what appears to be an intricately detailed metal coffin hovering a few feet off the ground. Several objects break away from the outer hull of the coffin and fly through the air like missiles to acquire new targets. Each of the objects spits a line of plasma fire and several targets are cut down instantly.*

*Scene shows what appears to be an occupied Equestrian city before focus centers on a boarded-up building. Several lean ponies of various races huddle around a fire to keep warm. Just as they are about to drift to sleep the door flies off its hinges and a dozen humans wearing business suits and masks storm in with weapons trained on the now fearful Equestrians. The last man walks slowly into the room and adjusts the glasses on his bland face before smiling at the cowering ponies. Without a word, he turns and walks back out*

*Scene again shows the outside of the building and the flashes and sounds of gunfire can be heard.*

“Your mission will have three primary objectives. One, ensure the survival of the ruling government of Equestria.”

*Several rapid-fire scenes of a midnight blue Alicorn and over a dozen pegasi and bat ponies locked in air combat with dozens of horrifically mutilated aliens that appear to be a little more than a flesh-and blood head mounted atop a metal torso and arms with rockets attached.*

*Several rapid-fire scenes of a pure white Alicorn stepping towards a robed and helmeted alien. Warm, almost fiery energy comes off the Alicorn, though with each step it is replaced with freezing cold that snap freezes the burning scene around her. In those split seconds the white Alicorn transforms into an icy blue before snapping back.*

“Two, locate and eliminate the primary base of operations of the human traitors working for the clandestine organization known as Exalt.”

*Scene cuts to several humans wearing suits and ties setting up a hasty defensive line in front of a set of large wooden double-doors. When the double-doors crack and crumble the humans begin to fire into the darkness, only for each one to be silenced by a shiny projectile flying too fast for the eye to track. When the last human falls, a tan-coated unicorn steps out from the darkness of the hallway and uses his telekinesis to extract a coin from one of the bodies before looking back down the hallway. Other shapes, both Equestrian and human begin flooding the now secure room.*

“Three, counter any and all possible alien operations; and if the opportunity presents itself, strike against their command structure to disrupt their forces.”

*Final scene cuts to a cathedral-like chamber with a massive window looking out into a pitch-black starfield. At the far end of the room stands a gold-robed figure with an intricately detailed mask and helmet that turns to regard combined force of humans and Equestrians.*

*Your gifts are unparalleled and your forms are flawless. Your kind has the potential to overcome what lies ahead, The words echo around the cathedral chamber from no discernible source as the robed figure reaches upward with four arms. Come, children. Ascension awaits!*

“Good luck, commander. And remember, we will be watching.”

MENTE MATERIA – Coming 2014

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Comments ( 843 )
Arad #1 · Jan 9th, 2014 · · ·

And this is the secret I've been keeping for a good long while. My plans for a sequel, in the style of a trailer like those of the game XCOM Enemy Within and inspired heavily by Loyal2Luna's preview chapters at the end of her Doctor Who stories.

I hope everyone enjoys it!

3757561

Ding ding ding!

I mentioned them in passing during a supplemental files chapter. :)

Whoo! Gotta love a twofer!

:pinkiehappy:

We ... will be waiting.

I will be watching.

3757565 when I saw the description I thought "Sounds like those artifacts that had a clover-related name that were somewhere in the fic" and searched for the mention until I found the right name.
Also, YESSSS! a sequel! :pinkiehappy: I've followed this... actually, for not very long, but it seems longer, and loved every second of it! So now XCOM will be fighting in Equestria, huh? This looks AWESOME, especially if you add in more technology XCOM develops with Elerium Circuitry; I loved (and still love) that idea.

Good lord... I think my heart just exploded from joy!

Have fun, author. And remember, I will be waiting.

I shout in joy.:pinkiegasp:

That end... So abrupt

And both fortunately and unfortunately for the Equestrians... a forced technological uplifting is in their future.

Oh yes indeed.

You have done excellently. I wish for this story to continue! Please get that squeal out soon!

Oh god yes, updates. BEST. DAY. EVER. :pinkiehappy:

Omg, 2014! That's like, this year!

That scene with the Changelings and Ethereal.

I'm quite sure Chrysalis has vastly underestimated him.
Unless she somehow cut him off from his hive-mind with her own.

Or perhaps an alliance?

Outstanding story, can't wait for the sequel.

Wow, this really feels like I'm reading a trailer for a game expansion. Since that was your intention, you've definitely reached your goal. I've gotta say, I can't wait for this come out.

I think this is going to be very interesting...

Vigilo Confido, my friend.

Well I'm now surprised at What Lies Ahead, and to my horror it isn't what I had hoped it to be, I offer congrats to Arad for finishing this crossover with an Expansion Trailer that is equally as great as Enemy Within's Trailer. However I must ask him if we can speak for I have a few questions to ask him.

Til then,

The Idiot.

Yay sequel! But poor equestria.

The MECs will win, that's all I have to say.

Also, Bellator in Machina.

Sqeeeeeeeeee!:pinkiehappy:

3757744

What did you want to know? You can always send me a private message, or we can talk in comments. :)

Well, now I cant wait for this to continue, damn I knew I should have waited for this story to complete before reading it, now I am left wanting so much more.

:yay:
That will be all, Commander.

Oh, also :rainbowkiss:, :pinkiehappy:, :trollestia: and :rainbowdetermined2:

Cyi

woot :pinkiehappy:

Holy shit.
...
Holy shit!

I had never seen a chapter done in this format before, and was skeptical at first when I read the first bit. But as soon as I got to the music and read the rest...

Holy shit!
Yeah, this sequel is gonna be awesome! I can't wait to see it. :rainbowkiss:


Also, as a note, this story actually got me to buy Enemy Within and play through the game again. Instantly on my top list of best expansion packs ever. :heart:

Can the alien forces really spare enough soldiers to maintain a two-pronged war? If they have the forces to keep both Humans and Ponies against the wall then they should've easily been able to crush human opposition. I'm also guessing that method how the aliens were able to locate Equestria will be explained in the sequel.

3757547
I need to step back for a second and address this as a marketing professional, I have to applaud you. If I had access to an IP license for both MLP and X-COM, and about thirty programmers, artists and animators, with equipment to supply all of them, I'd turn this chapter into a real trailer. This is very well done, and is professional quality writing [writing used in a marketing sense]. Enough hints at future scenes to grab a person's attention and build hype, maintaining enough vagueness to build suspense and all the while keeping inline with the X-Com series brand (and even MLP's brand to some extent). If you could do this for a few other brands, I'm willing to bet you could easily get a job at any advertising firm as a writer. This is great work, and I could see it being a real trailer.

Now, to address this as a fan of the story, HURRY THE F@#$ UP ALREADY :flutterrage: I need to see how Lana is going to explain to Shinning just how close Sparks and Harris got :trollestia:

Lab

Oh shit.

Mmmm don't care.

Good choice of music. I eagerly await the sequel.

Oh yes....

-Obviously Aliens are upping their game in the future.
~The aliens could have crushed humanity a while back? Maybe. They could easily have done so a few years back, probably. They might have been driving their own weapon technological progress (like XSGCOM, albeit that was for a totally different war)
They might be busy elsewhere, politics, or other, far more important projects than assimilating a single world out of a few dozen others under siege already.

-Hope to see Discord in combat at some point. Admittedly, this might not happen, considering that Discord appears to have been taken by surprise, and captured. If he just has all the same abilities any magic-user can get, and a ton more raw power and time to develop it, he can still be taken off guard, and sucker-punches, or, rather, surprise psionic dampeners will pretty much disable him. His body isn't really designed for non spellcaster combat.

-Celestia makes me think of Dresden in that scene. Fire-frost specialization, at least in later books. Namely abusing the movement of heat from one place to another, makes the two synergize very well.

Epic Aerial combat implied for the future. Wonder if that Alien design is to support psionic abilities. Doubtless once the Equestrian invasion gets underway, psionics are going to be developed on the alien's end, and quickly.

Hmm, Arcanite Coin projectile? Retrieved with teleportation or telekinesis I wonder? Admittedly, if I am not mistaken, it should have been an Elerium pencil (doubles as a rune-drawing utensil)

Both Matt and Moira started to ask why they were summoned when Bradford raised one hand to silence them both. He pulled his thumb into his palm, then his little finger, then his ring finger. The last two fingers closed into a fist just before an alert blared through the intercom.

Officer Bradford: Stern, Collected, Fucking Showoff.

And the wait begins.

MECs! Psionics (with standard XCOM maniacal laughter)! ...Needs more Genemods!
Unless I missed something, I didn't really see any examples of that...

And since with our new allies... Even more interesting genemods! Genemods for everyone!

Hell, they can now probably mod in psionic/magical ability with Unicorn genetics. Or Earth Pony strength. Or Pegasus flight!
Who needs Archangel armor when you've got your own wings? Though to be fair wings are a lot more vulnerable to enemy fire than armor.

Of course, they could also take what they learn about Pegasus flight to simply improve Archangel armor (and said improved version would probably be called Pegasus armor or something like that).

Or hell... Changeling shapeshifting! Combine that with mimetic skin and Wallflower and you have the ultimate spy.

...Ponies with hands (hey, no reason the humans have to hog the genemods)!

Anyway, good to see humans and ponies (and the other races) working together. None of them seem to be really overshadowing each other, which I really like. I think my favorite little snapshots of that are the pony attending the political meeting on Earth and being treated as an equal (after all, the ponies have certainly earned humanity's respect and trust by now) and the bit where the human is attending a meeting in Equestria (They got to wow us, now its our turn to impress them and show them our worth). I really, really like how you seem to be handling all that, you have certainly piqued my interest.

I also like how you have the new conflict seem pretty evenly matched... Well, sorta. I suspect that the Equestrians (and other species of their world) will start out a bit outmatched until they, like humanity, manage to reverse-engineer some of the aliens' stuff and learn their tactics (fortunately, their fight will be a little bit easier with the aid of their human allies, much like our fight was easier than normal with the aid of Twilight). Of course, since canonically the aliens INTENDED for both sides to be relatively evenly matched... Yeah. Should be an interesting ride. Basically, glad you're not going either the route of "Aliens roflstomp races of Equestria, humans save the day!" or "Aliens are completely ineffective against the awesome magical ponies and their immortal God-Empresses".

Specific bits that caught my interest:

*Scene cuts to a battle in progress between humans, Equestrians and the aliens. An alien ship hovers over the battlefield just long enough to teleport reinforcements to assist. Among them is what appears to be an intricately detailed metal coffin hovering a few feet off the ground. Several objects break away from the outer hull of the coffin and fly through the air like missiles to acquire new targets. Each of the objects spits a line of plasma fire and several targets are cut down instantly.*

...Huh. I suspect this is from a classic XCOM game, which I have to admit I have not played all of (only the first, and badly at that). I only read about most of them, and do not recall reading about this thing.

*Scene shows what appears to be an occupied Equestrian city before focus centers on a boarded-up building. Several lean ponies of various races huddle around a fire to keep warm. Just as they are about to drift to sleep the door flies off its hinges and a dozen humans wearing business suits and masks storm in with weapons trained on the now fearful Equestrians. The last man walks slowly into the room and adjusts the glasses on his bland face before smiling at the cowering ponies. Without a word, he turns and walks back out*

Not sure what is going on here, but seems ominous.

*Several rapid-fire scenes of a pure white Alicorn stepping towards a robed and helmeted alien. Warm, almost fiery energy comes off the Alicorn, though with each step it is replaced with freezing cold that snap freezes the burning scene around her. In those split seconds the white Alicorn transforms into an icy blue before snapping back.*

Also very interesting, but I'm not sure what to make of it yet.

The future is looking bright indeed.

Murphy's law states a third XCOM expansion will comes out that will be awesome but at the same time ruin/ really mess with your story. :D

Still, can't wait for your sequel.

3757951

I'll reply to this comment because it actually hits on some points I forgot to mention earlier.

...Huh. I suspect this is from a classic XCOM game, which I have to admit I have not played all of (only the first, and badly at that). I only read about most of them, and do not recall reading about this thing.

I don't know if there's anything similar to that in the classic XCOM games but it's something I created as an original enemy type. The ethereals that we fight ingame don't have much going for them in combat besides their psi powers. Realistically speaking, them robes aren't bullet proof. : |

So that got me thinking, what would a battle-oriented Ethereal look like? What would it bring into a fight. What I thought up was essentially an armored capsule with remote weapons inspired by this. The moment it enters the battlefield, chaos erupts as remote weapons fly everywhere to attack and pursue enemies.

Not sure what is going on here, but seems ominous.

Who do we know that has a bland appearance, wears glasses, and pals around with EXALT? FORESHADOWING! *Torgue voice*

3757792 There's the Big Mistake the aliens have just made. They've now divided their forces against a pair of foes who have now joined up against them. It's turned into the classic Allies vs Axis of WWII. And I feel about as much sympathy for the aliens as I do for Hitler. :trollestia:

I definitely enjoyed reading this story and look forward towards the sequel.

3758073

YES. SOMEONE MENTIONED THE SHIRT.

I was worried folks would miss it.

Also, it isn't described in the story but the back of the shirt says "YOLO!"

3758015

FORESHADOWING! *Torgue voice*

NOTHING IS MORE BADASS THAN TREATING A WOMAN WITH RESPECT! *SEVERAL SECONDS (Truthfully, several hours) LATER* BIG DEAL. I CAN USE INNUENDO TOO. TONIGHT'S FIGHT IS BETWEEN FLYBOY AND THE VAULT HUNTER...BLOWJOBS!

And that's why Mister Torgue High-Five Flexington is always allowed to say what's on his mind.

Arad, you're now my new favorite author of all time. Few have pulled off a game crossover, especially with games i very much enjoy. You've just... you've blown my mind so hard right now i can't even words. New #1 favorite story (rarely do complete stories make the list at all). Hands down.

Verbatim from a convo with a friend.

9:53 PM - Princess MF Existentia (1437): And i'm gonna go pass out from a fangasm.
9:53 PM - Princess MF Existentia (1437): Arad... you are now my favorite author. Ever.

Edit-
3758073
To be fair, i think we all do.

Edit2- Torgue's full name is completely awesome.
Mister Torgue High-Five Flexington.

3757911
Pretty possible.

One major point that make crossovers easier for XCOM is the fact that the Ethereals during the first conflict really went easy on humanity. Likewise, Equestria will be a very different battlefield.

Equestria, as a planet, will start VERY uneven ; Equestria (the nation) will be better off than Earth regarding enduring terror and abductions thanks to heavy magic. However, the other nations of the planet, lacking modern-level weaponry and the magic of ponies, will suffer *immensely* from Ethereal attacks. Likewise, the Equestria planet's leadership although capable of turning the tide of some battles also give the Ethereals big fat targets to strike at and as Twilight before the Ethereal Overseer shown, being able to steamroll hordes of Mooks with magic will not save you from a Psionic Panic/Mind Control strike.

Likewise, unlike on Earth where XCOM started with the support of every nation from the start and had humanity uniting readily, on Equestria they will have to convince each nation to join up and they'll definitely need to do so ; apart from political matters, there is the fact that nations not joined to XCOM will be MUCH more likely to make pacts with the Ethereals when panicked. Likewise, XCOM on Equestria will need local ressources to run at full efficiency.

Finally, although XCOM will be coming in with their magical-powered weapons and armor, thus having an advantage over their initial situation back on Earth, the Ethereals will likely have learnt from the deteriorating situation on Earth and will thus take out a few of their *real* technologies to the field. I must stress that the Ethereals are insanely advanced, more than their first conflict gear may indicate, and that if they start to escalate SGCcom-style, XCOM on Equestria will be in for a VERY rough ride despite their better starting tech.


Excluding my comments on that... well, nice to see Stardust finally ended. I really look forward to XCOM's campaign on Equestria and, judging from the 'preview', XCOM starting to fight EXALT proper.

Oh and I guess, from the last real chapter, that Anette Durand (the field main character from Enemy Within/Operation Progeny) will join Zhang, Matt, and Lana as part of the main field operatives.

Oh and... Chrysalis has absolutely no idea just how foolish she was in that preview. But then, given she understimated Discord of all people, I'm not surprised she understimate the Ethereals too. Likewise, the 'Thin Pony' scene amused me, I admit. The Discord scene also intrigued me ; I think that on top of the Equestria leadership, the Ethereals will most probably try to target Discord too or at least try to blackmailing him into helping them or in not intervening.

These last two chapters were both really good, but it was the `trailer` chapter that really sent shivers down my spine. The way FiMfiction allows linking so that written stories can have soundtracks makes it far superior to Fanfiction.net, in my opinion. You captured the rapid-fire cuts of a game trailer very well, and the scenes in question all fit very well with the XCOM universe that you`ve described.

Also, a Combat Etherial sounds like hell on wheels to fight. I`m glad nobody asked you to design units for XCOM.

Ans so, the mother of all shitstorms begins...

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