• Published 1st Apr 2014
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Puppets of Tragedy - Iridescence T Wind

We all know the story, human from earth goes to Equestria from buying a mystical prop from a mysterious unnamed salesman to attend Comicon. But what you didn't expect was the prop to be a puppeteers crafting kit.

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A-Dress-ing the evil that is Aku. (Ie: Two Geeks talking about shows)

I sighed, as I relaxed myself back into the bed. Next to me, a large pile of sweet candy was being sorted absent mindedly as I reviewed over having been able to attend the pony equivalent of my favorite holiday. The mere act of having been able to talk to the princess of the night had left me Giddy. Unable to quite sleep nor relax, but instead left me pacing around my room while errant hands continued projects both at my desk and traveling with me. I would have to wait and steal a newspaper soon in order to see what effect my actions would have caused, but so far it was working out fantastically.

Eventually I would be dragged into direct confrontation with one of the key elements of Equestria. Be they the princesses or the elements of harmony, and the idea of undermining their justice system had already taken a second hit if Luna became proactive against the practice of petrification. What would I do for an eye in the palace, something that could infiltrate and just... watch. But what sort of mask would that be? A dozen sketches flooded the worktable as my mind went to work and started sorting the images.

Solid Snake? Too easy for a guard to catch. Cardboard boxes weren't just left lying about in a palace. Let alone the nightmare it would be to try and capture that rugged beard accurately. That denied him as a puppet, and besides, Solid Snake wasn't the best at evading detection without lethal force. Besides, he was a hero not a villain, even if war was a morally grey area.

Nox? Too easy to spot, and without actual stealth skills his main form of hiding would be making a time anomaly which would get him caught almost immediately by the sisters. While his skills were useful, they were best kept in reserve.

A half a dozen more were removed, due to flaws in their stealthy approach, which meant I needed to turn from invisibility or hiding to a far more... direct approach. Infiltration. The key word would be who then, as a majority of the masks I had were not based on the pony identity, and even the few that could take the shape wouldn't be able to do so very accurately. Nor would maintaining a puppet at such a far distance away be easy to navigate with skill and finesse. Would I even be able to do that? I needed more information regarding magic, or more likely the ability to detect magic in order to figure out what could or couldn't be done. From what I knew they couldn't detect changelings but if that was because a spell to detect individual magical signatures weren't developed or the lack of the skill in question in general were unknown. It reminded me of what i read earlier back near the start. Information is power.

It was unknown if my presence had been detected beforehand but it seemed that the Sisters were particularly receptive towards time magic, but the other forms of magic I was using was either harder to detect or required different skills in order to find. It brought me back to the entries I had read about magic, "Knowledge is power." I repeated to myself.

Canterlot wasn't just home to the princesses, but the school for magic that Twilight had attended as well. If it was anything like a college that would mean that with winter coming a new term could begin, but first things first it was time to deal with a few guests, and gather more information. So much work to do, and thankfully a lot of time. For once there was a large number of people staying in my place of residence of which to deal with. So I decided to start with the familiar and work my way to the unfamiliar grounds. Starting with checking in on Amber, she was hard at work trying to train while my Glados puppet threw increasingly bizarre or difficult, sometimes both, situations at her. It was interesting to watch her work, as she was progressively getting stronger and better at avoiding the numerous traps and beating them back with each day of training. A griffin in motion was still a sight to behold, as Amber had figured out how to use her wings to aide in more subtle bodily direction changes through both on the ground and in the air by manipulation of her wings thanks to the few occasions Cass came down to watch, and occasionally spar with the Griffin.

With little to do aside from improving the training course, I moved on to Cass, who was busying herself with her routine workout. I wasn't a medical expert, but with Trixies knowledge of magic had recommended Cass had begun to work out with her new cybernetic limbs, improving her endurance and magical capacity through consistent use of the cybernetics I had built for her. The magic tax was incredible it seemed for people to use my props, as the props themselves were fueled from magic, but already Cass was making leaps and bounds in that progression as well, having gone from the mere half an hour of consistent use a day to several hours before needing to rest or recharge, and it made me smile a bit inside but at the same time with her busy in training it seemed like hardly the time to interrupt her with a conversation. I'd have to save the idea of adding modifications to her cybernetics for when she was actually able to use them on a day to day basis.

Moving down the list, Trixie had gotten into my stash of books that I had stolen from Twilight's library and was making notes. I tried to bother the show-mare but was rewarded with being completely ignored. Seeing as her attention was focused in said books, though from a curiosity glance I could spot that she was reading into various spells, I left her to her studying, resolving to ask her more about Canterlot's schools for unicorns later on. It wasn't a pressing concern, but I respected most peoples need for some alone time. After all I would prefer to have some alone time myself every so often and if I couldn't respect someone elses personal space, how would I expect them to respect mine?

That left mainly the space marine wing, which had been redecorated quite vastly, restudying my notes I remembered my notes of who was who of Yoko's squad, but I didn't spot Yoko among them. Where was-

Knock Knock

Oh, there she was.

"Come on in!" I yelled out, unlocking the door with a simple flick of my mind, and opening it as I strode across the room, glad for the freedom away from the wheelchair, "Yoko, what a surprise, what's up?"

Yoko herself was wearing a loose fitting shirt, with jeans, though she was still wearing her power armored boots. I noticed she still carried her bolter on her back, though I couldn't blame her, considering I still wore my marionette generating device on my side as well. Little tools of the trade given to us, and even in a secure zone I wouldn't leave such a thing where it could be picked up and examined by others. The expression on her face told me she was a bit cheerful, and her tone of voice reflected this as well, "Sup with you Xandy? Got a few moments to spare?"

"More than a few moments," I responded in turn, taking a seat and gesturing to the one I normally reserved for Cass, "Have a seat, what do you want to talk about?"

"Well for one I wanted to say thanks for saving me and my squad." Yoko started, "Though I wanted to talk to you about what your plans are. As much as I want to stick around, I don't know if I am allowed to or if it would even be possible to."

"What do you mean?" I asked, nearby my table of in construction projects slid to a halt as she continued on.

The easy going smile turned into an unsure frown on Yoko's face, "Well for one, you brought back several ponies, ponies who have different versions of themselves here, it isn't like you just brought a displaced here after all. The fact that you took me from my world means I can't rely upon my old tokens either, and anyone attempting to call me back at my 'world' would get no response. Essentially to the multiverse, I'm 'dead' I guess." She paused as she considered this, "Which means I'm stuck here as long as you continue living as well as my troops lives unless you can somehow send us to another plane of reality, in which case I'd be stuck there until I got sent back to you."

"Is this theoretical? Not that I plan on dying mind you." I told her back, pondering over the science behind it, "I mean, I know there are probably ponies out here that are alternate reality versions of the ones we brought back, but it won't really be that big of an issue, would it? If anything it just means that the most they'd need to do is wear their armor, and not meet their other selves right?"

"That or we go with the doctor who logic of the universe crashing if they ever met themselves, but that's time travel not multiverse hopping. The show itself seemed to imply with that one Twilight time travel episode that they can cause a paradox by time traveling to meet themselves."

"Ugh Science." we both said after a few moments of pondering this, and laughed when our responses were identical.

"Glad to see some things never change," Yoko smirked a bit, "So what's up with you and this universe, you told me Discord of all people brought you here?"

"Yeah, he was dressed as a shop cleric to a prop store where he made his own props, taught me a bit on making his own horn and gave me the kit I'm using to make said props." I gestured to my supply kit, which was in a very orderly state. Of course my very I meant in a mess where only I knew where the exact tools I'd need would be. Usually I left tools all over the place when working on a project, and only cleaned up afterwards. But with a constant stream of projects, there had been little chance to re-organize my worktable.

Yoko pondered this, "That's a bit odd, but at the same time somewhat expected of the spirit of disharmony and chaos. I was brought to my world by some 'merchant' fellow that a lot of other displaced think 'has to be evil' for some reason. Though I don't really get it, I mean if anything its the displaced themselves that show either evilness or goodness the merchant just seems like well, an intermediary. I mean what sort of evil villain brings random people with random powers into different universes where one of their favorite shows exist as reality?"

"Because they're bored?" I shot out, with a shrug, "That or they're actually a nice guy, who knows? I never met him and you're like one of the few displaced I talked to so far. Been a bit busy on my side to really do very much with any of them. Discord's logic behind bringing me was bit more clear than what you're saying."

"And that is?" She asked, gesturing me to go on.

"Well Discord wanted me to teach them the true meaning of a tragic villain, the ponies that is." I told her and she facepalmed.

"Really Xandy?" She asked me with an exasperated sigh, "You're still hung up about their whole Elements of Harmony Deus ex Machina method of dealing with villains? It was a cartoon meant for children remember?"

"Yeah? Well its reality for both of us now," I countered and she rolled her eyes, "Besides, what else am I going to do? Interfere with Twilight becoming a Princess? Attack random villains and sit on the side lines in an otherwise peaceful and uneventful countryside? Boring."

"Uneventful?" Yoko raised her eyebrow, "It seems like Ponyville either deals with a monster attack or a friendship problem every month or so by the shows logic."

`"And heavens forbid am I preparing for the Canterlot Wedding Fiasco." I responded in turn, "We just had Nightmare Night, which means its not going to be long before Prince Plot device and Princess Hasbro-merchandise have a run in with the changelings. I'm just trying to change their system of justice to account for less extreme punishments than killing people with petrification or brainwashing them, not cause a genocide or cause total Anarchy."

"True enough I guess," Yoko said, "So what do you plan to do after you're done trying to change Equestria's government?"

I paused, giving it a thought, "Not rightly sure, after Discord is reformed I guess my life goes to... Something? Not entirely sure, might be more involved with other displaced and helping with their issues. Or even become an anti-hero or something in this universe. Honestly if it wasn't for the whole, 'No Judical system like ever' going on, I'd probably be retired and living in luxury considering the dragon horde of gold and jewels I have in the vault down here."

"Wait Dragon Horde? What? Did you kill a dragon?" Yoko asked with disbelief.

"No...?" I said back a bit confused, "I grabbed the one that the red dragon in the show left behind after Fluttershy glared it down, why do you ask?"

"That is going to bite you in the rump Xandy. Don't you remember like any of our adventures where we tried taking dragon hordes when the dragon was gone?"

"I'll deal with that issue when the time comes, I already dealt with a massive basilisk, how much more dangerous can a dragon be than a giant poison spewing, turn-you-to-stone-with-a-glare snake?"

"Dragon fire can melt durasteel in my world." Yoko said calmly. I did not want to know how she found that out.

"Okay, time to grab a fire manipulating villain then." I shot back, and she sighed, "Speaking of which, how in the world is Aku a tragic villain?"

"Giant space blob that was made by the gods and deemed evil and customarily slaughtered by its creator so only a tiny scrap of the overall mass escaped to plague the planet as a mindless puddle of what looked like oil until a jerk shot it with a poison arrow to try to kill it, and then it gained consciousness from a poisoned arrow and lashed back against the things trying to kill it?" I monologued for a short bit, before giving her a roll of my eyes, "Oh gee, I wonder."

"That doesn't excuse him from losing tragic points by taking over and enslaving the entirety of the universe." Yoko shot back.

"The only reason hes evil is because a whole bunch of people on the losing side of a war calls him that. If anything Aku is more like a child when you consider the mass he was originally a part of. A fractured soul that's reacting to its environment. Also Aku's Rule seemed to have the opposite of a bad effect if you remember."

"How so?"

"Technology sky rocketed for one, if you remember. Samurai jack was flung a few hundred years into the future, which around our time would have barely reached the industrial era, and while hes a conquering tyrant of an Empire, many other tyrants are also viewed as 'good guys' back in our own world. Take the United States for instance with the Native Americans and its former slave policies. We conquered another land as pretty much self entitled, racist, and down right inhumane settlers back then but no one bats an eye at America because its the 'land of the free' thanks to a few important politicians giving the nation a wake up call on how hypocritical it is, Yet during its brutal initial rule technology and medicine advanced far further than the natives could of ever imagined, and industry had a higher calling than the wandering tribes could hope to stand up to."

"Thought you already know a war leaves no men as good." Yoko shot back, "If I recall from our sessions, you were quite adamant on that with dealing with the Tau and calling the Empire out on its xenophobic ways."

Man that had been a while ago, "True enough, but with all wars, history is written by the victor. Take the second world war, if Hitler had won, his genocide of the Jewish race would of been called justified and he would of been called a hero. He lost and was deemed one of the most infamous villains in history. Yet hardly anyone back where we came from recalls Stalin, who supposedly murdered nine million more of his own men than Hitler killed with his authority because that's who gets talked about in history classes."

I paused as I watched Yoko mull over that, and I took a deep breathe of air before continuing, "Yet here we rewind back to the original topic of Aku as a conquering king, having united multitudes of races under his rule, and having at some point given multiple types of animals sentience, and replaced his army with machines. If anything Aku became one of the more ideal tyrants, for he actually cared for the public opinion of his image as well as peoples lives. Why else would he of built his army rather than conscripted it?"

"To prevent mutiny?" she began again, but I shook my head.

"A lot of the robots under Aku's command have some level of basic sentience, a type of machine that was phased out. Remember the episode where they spent the entire time focused on one robot from a much earlier time of aku's rule who had emotions and loved a puppy?"

"Right, but Samurai jack murdered hi-" Yoko paused, "Great, now you're having me thinking of Samurai Jack as the bad guy."

"Samurai jack was morally grey if anything, " I responded back, "For all of Jack's good intentions, he failed to realize that the rest of the human race isn't nearly as 'good hearted' as he thinks it is. If we look at the show we see most humans are either barbaric warriors, gun totting Scotsmen, Spartans, punks, or in a few cases members of a mafia. There is barely any humans left who don't practice one form of violence or another in that show or result to using it as one of their primary methods of getting what they want. Even the monks as glorified as they were tried attacking Jack just for trespassing."

"I could argue that they were driven into that corner like rats and fought back as hard as they could by Aku, but even I know there's no winning on the human morality fight of that universe." Yoko replied, "That's like arguing that the Empire of mankind was morally correct to commit extreme genocide of xeno-races that weren't human and then throw all their psykers to die as a giant meal pot of souls to their god emperor."

I opened my mouth to agree but she continued on, "So I'll drop the matter of Aku, I may not agree on the matter but you make a very interesting argument for a show that could be reality in another universe. Though I must say you may be reading a bit TOO much into the matter of Aku. Keep in mind this is the same guy who cheats whenever he can, and called a pizza guy despite being the emperor of many races."

I chuckled, and she gave me a curious look. Quickly I elaborated, "I miss our debates, its been too long since we last saw each other, and I was still getting over maybe never seeing anyone I knew from back home again. Sorry. This has been a bit of a relief actually."

She laughed as well, "Yeah, know what you mean. It seemed like yesterday we were geeking out over the phone for the next comic-con, but now, I'm actually a space marine and you're... well you!"

She gestured broadly at me and I looked myself over, "Well, I'm still a shorty, especially in comparison to you now. But then again you were always tall..." I joked, earning a playful though somewhat painful punch to the arm.

"Yeah yeah, but what's up with your face? I was at least dressed up as a space marine when I was transported, you look like something from an anime. Maybe Kagetane from Black Bullet, if he was exceedingly short and had fire in his eyes and mouth. No wonder we mistook you for a daemon at first glance." She chuckled.

"Funny, I'm spookier under it though." I responded in turn, "Think Slenderman. Though please don't remove my face, its really really weird having three of my five senses disconnected from my body."

"Wait what?!" Yoko's face was priceless, "Dude, you can't just drop a bombshell like that and expect me not to want to see that."

"Maybe another time, still not comfortable with my face being removable. Its like... " I paused, unsure of how to explain it, "my chest gets tight, and a sense of dread overcomes me, ya know? It's really weird."

"So guess you can say, you're attached?" Yoko commented, with a small comforting smirk.

"Har. Har." I gave her a momentary glare before lightening up into my own grin, "Since when were you into puns?"

"Since I was abducted from our old reality to a world of colorful rainbow ponies." Yoko replied in turn, "You learn to lighten things up every now and then with some bad humor after a while. A lesson Pinkie taught me surprisingly back during the first few weeks of my stay."

The night dragged on, and we had some catching up to do, well she asked a lot of questions, and I mine. But all in all it was a night of fun. A lot of things were spoken of that night, most of our time since she had come through the portal was making sure that she would be alright after all. Not much had been said as the new found military force had settled itself in. Perhaps it was time to have a chat and change that...

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