• 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 Frozen Heart Still Beats For Love

Buying an empty warehouse is surprisingly easy in Canterlot if you have a dragons horde to hurl money with. I almost considered it an abuse to use it at this point, the endless wealth that the dragon had left behind was certainly a boon that I was glad to remember from the show. I wasn't a greedy man, wanting everything for myself. No, I was a practical man when it came to wealth. Bargain hard but fairly if you want to buy something from someone, else others will get the wrong impression about you and dig noses too deep. In disguise, it had taken naught but an hour to acquire the empty building. Another, to rig it with Aperture equipment and set up the scene inside. Then came the route the villain would take, and leaving as few civilians in the crossfire as possible. The alleyways were cleaned to a decent escape route state via portals into the noble gardens.

As I ate lunch in disguise at a nearby dinner, respecting the taste of the controversial pineapple on whole wheat pizza alongside other sweet fruits, I had but a single puppet prepared aside from GLaDOS running both the main base and warehouse. I was waiting for the perfect moment, and watching on as a certain pink pony; Mi Amore Cadenza, lovebutt, princess plot device, and later to be bride, was dealing with foals....

Literally. She was babysitting an entire two classrooms worth of foals. This was definitely not Chrysalis. There was too much joy and she didn't even get mad that her hair got messed up here and there. I actually had to stall on a park bench after the meal just to wait until such impressionable younglings wouldn't get mixed up in this. That being said, all noble respect for princesses had been lost after the first ten minutes of watching the presumed young alicorn make goo-goo noises to children, and tell them all several hearths-warming tale with silly moments mixed in to entertain barely self aware foals. Would have to admit though, Princess Cadence would make a great mom rather than just a baby sitter. Hmm, made me wonder what would happen if she did have a foal. It made me wish I had paid more attention to the show after season 3, I had started ignoring it after its finale made Twilight a birdy after being obliterated by working on a spell, and it had gone onto season four apparently with only snippets. But the past was the past, let hindsight kick itself in the butt.

Cadences efforts had made her very popular among the common folk of the city of Canterlot. Though nobility as I observed all but sneered at the princess of Love like stereotypical nobles did. The only ones of the higher courts I noted that did not talk in disdain over various bits of eavesdropping throughout the day were the princesses themselves, Blueblood unsurprisingly, and more surprisingly Fancy Pants who actually advocated new and outrageous trends among nobles. His wife Fleur Dis Lee apparently didn't care either way for it. I made note of Cadences political stance for later as I awaited the perfect moment to enact my plans. The moment came, a few minutes after cadence had finally left the foals private school. As they passed by an alleyway with guards in tow behind them, I waited till directly after the moment they passed by and began to set the plan into motion.

The only warning was the Psshew noise of the freeze ray going off. On reflex Shining Armor brought forth a shield spell around himself and his future wife, but the guards accompanying them weren't so lucky. Various looks of shock among the day guard as the layer of ice coated their bodies from the neck down. The red glowing goggled eyes showing themselves as readily present in the alleyway as the rest of the villain followed suit into the light.

"Mr.Freeze. What a surprise." Shining Armor growled, alerted and pissed that we would attack his guards as well as attempt what he thought I was going to do with his fiance,"To what do we owe the pleasure?"

Cadence, for the most part looked wary though confused, "This is Mr.Freeze Shiny?"

"Watch out for that metal box he carries in his hand." Shining warned, "It has quite a bite."

"The frost has no bite, should it be treated soon Mr.Armor." The monotonous voice replied back slowly. Mr.Freeze, ever intimidating and calculating, responded back to Shining Armor, "You, however, are not the target of my plans today."

"And just what do you plan to target then?" Cadence asked, and upon the deadpan stare that Freeze gave back to her, she gasped in realization, "Oh! You're targeting me! What an honor."

I flinched in surprise from my nearby seat, and even her fiance recoiled to stare at her in shock, "What?" Shining responded after a moment, "Cadence, what do you mean by that?"

"Auntie Celestia is always getting kidnapped over the last decade Shiny," Cadence pouted, "I haven't been kidnapped once, just once I'd like to be rescued by my knight in shining armor." At my puppets continued deadpan stare and Shiny's look of 'what the buck', Cadence blushed and hurriedly elaborated, "A mare can fantasize can't she?!"

I was speechless, and so was everyone else present. Surprisingly Shining Armor was the first one to collect his thoughts together and say, "Cadence, I..." He shook his head, as if to clear it, "Nevermind, we'll talk about this later."

"An icy reception-" Mr.Freeze began, "But I must request that you move out of the way Mr.Armor."

Shining Armor, predictably, didn't move, his stance staying ready as he spoke, "Do your worst, but you're not getting cadence on my watch."

"What do you even want with me anyway?" Cadence asked, "Ransom?"

Mr.Freeze readied his freeze ray as he spoke, monotonous as ever, "Tell me, Shining Armor, what would you do to save a loved one? How many others would be sacrificed in order to save the likes of your Mi Amore Cadenza, or Twilight Sparkle?"

"None, I'd save them myself." Armor boldly proclaimed, and Mr.Freeze sighed.

"You misread my question Mr.Armor."

Shining's usual glare loosened with a raised eyebrow, "How do you mean, Villain?"

"Not the number of men you're willing to throw at the problem, but how many you would run over to stop them from harming your loved ones." Freeze intoned, "Though this conversation has been ice, I will not be stopped by the likes of you."

The ray fired, and a block of ice began forming on the shield of Shining Armor. The shield itself wasn't even phased, and I recalled that Shiny was capable of making a shield by himself to withstand an entire siege of Canterlot. While we had yet to reach that point, the point still stood that he was probably much better at defensive magic than he had been at physical combat as a unicorn. Mr.Freeze began to up his game, the block of ice growing to try and cover the top of his shield, and continue to grow. Its shape would be if it collapsed, it wouldn't crush either of them, but rather coat them like a prison as the weight began to steadily increase. Freeze began to circle them with the unending attack of freeze. Cadence, on her part, did not let Shining fight alone.

A telekinetic grip tried to yank the gun from Freezes hand, but failed to as the grip merely tightened. It did however, throw off my aim, yanking the grip downward enough to disrupt my view of them from a sheet of ice covering the shield proper. The thin sheet moments later was disrupted in a shotgun blast of ice shards as a concussive force struck, and knocked the ice block off of the shield. For my part, I had Freeze react slowly, enough to make him not get crushed, but not fast enough to let his gun remain intact as he had to drop what he was doing and roll out of the way of the collapsing tower of ice that Shining had been made to support.

Gun now crushed, Mr.Freeze intoned, "I'll be back Mr.Armor, my prize shall not be kept from me for much longer." he made to leave but Shiny had responded in turn.

"Not so fast, you're not getting away this time!" Shining Armor shouted, as he brought the shield spell into a more traditional form of a kite shield, launching it forward at Freeze.

Freeze didn't dodge but used the shield to propel himself away from the captain of the royal guard, leaping off it and rolling into the alleyway he had came from. Coming after him was then both the future prince and his princess as they began to give chase through the route. They were faster than Freeze, but that was the point of preparation of various traps as obstacles began to present itself, hanging obstructions making flying by air difficult, and obstacles being pushed into the way as Freeze ran past them. Always remaining in eye sight or just out of sight, they continued to chase him. Spells being absorbed by nearby scenery like garbage cans and errant clothes hanging on clotheslines.

"Stop running!" Armor yelled, and I ignored him.

"Quite lively ain't he?" Cadence chimed in, "Wonder where he's going."

"Away from us, which is not where we want him to go." Shiny responded, but they slowed down, taking a shortcut to cut me off through the rooftops above thanks to Cadence pulling him above the alleyways. I used the opportunity for them to see Freeze check behind him, and advance towards the warehouse. I could still hear every word they exchanged between them.

"Where's he going now?" Cadence asked, and Shining Armor responded in turn.

"Looks like we found his base of operations. Wonder if his boss is inside."

"Let's find out shall we? Would be quite the discovery to find out that Puppet Master guy's headquarters has been right under my auntie's noses this entire time." Cadence looked cheerful at the prospect of this, "To think she suspected the Everfree Forest."

"My theory was some slums under manehatten." Shiny added in, his anger had quieted down to a calmer curiosity, "Though a warehouse in Canterlot? It can't be that easy can it?"

They descended to the rooftop of the warehouse, and sneaked inside by prying the ceiling windows open and descending into the darkness below. Their horns lit up the seemingly darkened room, and they began to search for signs of either my puppets or me. The room slowly instead became more defined to them.

They found instead, some filing cabinets, and an old looking projector, film already loaded into it. "What's this?" Shiny asked cadence.

"Let's find out." Cadence had answered in turn, and carelessly turned it on. Man she had zero self survival skills. Turning on a projector in a darkened warehouse, might as well light a beacon saying 'here I am'.

The projector began to play. As on the far wall of the office a blue transparent glow showing the basic image of a laboratory as Shining Armor dug through the filing cabinet with a single file of information labeled 'Top Secret' which showed various images of the ponified Nora.

The projector video began, with the image of the non-frozen Freeze in a very basic business suit and holding a clipboard in one arm. The younger Freeze, voice non-monotonous, and full of hope, began to speak, "My name is Doctor Victor Fries, I am recording what I pray will be pony kinds first step to immortality."

The projector shot of the laboratory began to turn as Victor looked to the side, hand clenched in nervousness at his stomach level, clipboard hugged tight to his body, revealing as he then pushed his hand out to gesture to the changing shot the machine he had made.

"Behind me, you see the C.C. one hundred. The Cryogenic freezing chamber of my own design." The shot zoomed in to show the faint outline of the woman held within it, her features mostly hidden by the contents of the machine, "I created it for the express purpose of freezing subjects stricken with inoperable illness."

Freeze entered the shot, and lovingly caressed the pods window with his hand, "Subjects like my own beloved wife Nora. Once a remedy has been compl-"

The doctors speech was interrupted by the jiggling of a door handle, and another gruffer male voice interrupting in, "Open this door, open it now!" The scene transitioned to view the entrance of the laboratory, where the door was rammed open by a generic security guard, as he, another business looking man of a pony, and a second guard entered the room shortly after. The same voice, now belonging to the suited pony, approached Doctor freeze and his pod, "Get away from that equipment!" as he gestured to his guard, "get this shut down."

"Stop!" Victors voice wavered, as he put himself in the way of the pod, the other man crossed his arms, as Victor continued, "This is my experiment!"

"Your unauthorized experiment. I ordered funding suspended weeks ago! I'm already three million bits in debt thanks to you." He clearly didn't care at all.

Shining went to say something, but Cadence covered his mouth, "Ssshh..."

Victor continued on, the already wavering voice desperate, "You can't stop it now! My wife is in there!"

As if he knew everything, the other man foolishly said, "So bring her out."

"You can't interrupt the process now!" As guards tried to do something I guess to shut it down, the buffoons hardly knew what they were doing. They were probably waiting for the actual scientist to shut it down for them and just trying to appear busy.

Done with Fries, the other man commanded his guard, "Open it."

Victor grabbed the man by either sleeve on his suit, trying to speak reason into him, "It's her only chance!"

The greedy aristocrat however had other plans, as he aggressively shook off Victors hooved hands, he shouted back, "This is my equipment! Mine! I have every legal right to use it or not use it as I see fit. I say this project ends now!"

Victor however, then took matters into his own hooves, grabbing a weapon, this time a sword from the waistband of a guard where it had been a gun in the show, and pointing it at the aristocrat, "No!" he shouted, voice breaking from smooth to gruff in the shout, "Stay away from her! Murderer!"

His hooves shook as he held the sword, it was clearly the first time he had ever used such a weapon, but the aristocrat wasn't that dumb, trying to placate Freeze, he held his hands out, showing he was unarmed, and began to talk once more, "Victor... Sorry, I lost my temper," He held his hooves up and away from him as he slowly approached, "but what about this? We can talk?" Victor loosened his guard, looking sad and semi relieved not to need to use the sword, but when he did, the aristocrat decided to act. Kicking Victor into the nearby table covered in chemicals, the resulting scream of Victor as the cloud of cryogenic gases that escaped coated the scene and hid it, in alarm the aristocrat shouted, "Get out, get out!"

Both he and his guards left the room, as the gases spread throughout the floor around it, snow beginning to form, as the slowly freezing form of Victor crawled onto the glass of the cryogenic chamber, "Nora!" Victor cried, as he began to slide down again, "Noraaaaaaaa...." the last scene was his hoof, slowly sliding down the glass, on the other side the still motionless Nora's face as the projector ended in a white screen.

"By Celestia..." Shining said, Cadence for her part had her mouth covered by her hooves in shock.

"Yes." Both of them turned around to the open doorway that had light trickling through, Freeze had arrived, and I had found the perfect opportunity to repeat the words from the old animated series, "It would move me to tears, if I still had tears to shed." he had a new ice gun, and with it he shot and captured Cadence from the waist down with ice. Shining's reflex had been caught off guard after the video, the top secret folder, filled with images of Nora, falling to the ground as he charged forward, and knocked the gun out of the way and into the air. Freeze for his part pushed Shining Armor away, and caught the gun, Freezing him up next.

"This is why you're a villain?" Cadence asked, distracting him as she pointed to the projector.

I borrowed another line, as he reached towards cadence and brought it back to himself, a scowl developing in exchange for the poker-face he normally carried about him, "Think of it Ms Cadenza, to never again walk upon a summer day with a hot wind in your face and a warm hand to hold it. Oh yes, I'd kill for that."

In the moment of distraction, Shining Armor had burst from his icy prison, another shield ramming into existence and knocking Mr.Freeze back into the hallway beyond. Another gun crushed as he retreated back again. Cadence burst out of her own prison and they continued on after making sure each other were okay. As they chased, Cadence looked sad, and her voice reflected it as her nose scrunched, "Can't we help him?"

"He's a dangerous criminal Cadence." Shining Armor responded, "He needs to be stopped before he can hurt anyone else."

Cadence added a counter argument, "Then why is he going after me? Is there some way we can resolve this peacefully?"

They both chewed on this question silently in thought as they entered the laboratory proper, dimly lit by a skylight above, light trickling onto the same cryogenic chamber from the video reel, with the same woman locked within. It was perpetually snowing in the lab, a trick done with clouds normally reserved for winter, stolen from a weather factory on short notice. Freeze had acquired yet another gun, instead of a pistol, a rifle type design as he brought it to bear and fired.

The shot was blocked again by the magic shields Shining Armor brought up, creating a curved wall of ice around it. They weren't dumb, I could see Shiny and Cadence both analyzing Mr.Freeze, and could guess where their gaze locked as they saw him fire again, the rifle attached to a unit on the backpack he carried by a tube. They began returning fire, causing freeze to erect his own wall of cover as magical blasts caused craters in both ice and wall alike. Mr.Freeze taunted, "I will finish this."

"Not on my watch Victor." Armor responded, as another shield rammed through the ice that Freeze was using as cover. Cadence opened another shot, perfectly timed with her fiance, the beam cutting like a torch through ice and cord alike, as the off balanced Mr.Freeze could do naught but fall onto his rump. This shield didn't just fade away, however, but stop in motion and then rammed downward, pinning Freeze to the floor as the cord that held the cryogenic liquids gushed its contents onto the nearby floor instead of into the gun. The floor freezing next to Freeze himself and with a hand he shut off the flow, still pinned to the floor. Now unarmed, and restrained, I began my test of the character of both the princess of Love, and her knight in Shining... well Armor. Bad pun intended.

"I... failed you..." Freeze, rose a hand weakly towards the frozen form of Nora, "I wish...There was another way to say it... But I cannot..." Shining Armor rose, to approach but Cadence held up her hoof in front of him, stopping him as Freeze continued, "I can only beg your forgiveness and pray that you hear me somehow..." Tears began to emerge underneath the goggles of Freeze, pouring down onto his cheeks and into his suit, "Someplace, Someplace where a warm hand awaits for mine..."

Cadence looked to Shining Armor, and he sighed, as he looked to Frieze, a second and third shield forming to pick him up and hold him aloft in the air, bringing him to a more conversational distance, Shining asked, "Alright, fine. Victor Fries, why did you need Princess Cadence?"

"An Alicorns genetic line, holds the key to saving my Nora..." Mr.Freeze spat out after a few moments, and the shields force lessened on him, "If I had but a sample, and an hour of time, I could of seen if it could of cured my Nora..."

Cadence paused to consider this, but Shining continued his interrogation, "And why her in particular?"

"Mr.Armor, do you suggest I stood a better chance against one who controls the summer sun or the one capable of moving oceans with but a thought and adjustment to the moon?"

"So you picked me since I was the weaker of the three princesses?" Cadence asked, not sure if to be insulted or impressed.

"I picked you since you... Since you were the most likely to help me after you saw my Nora." Freeze began again, "But as I see now, I have..." He trailed off, on purpose, as he looked wordlessly to the cryogenic chamber.

Shining Armor sighed again, and shared a look with Cadence, "Should we really?"

Cadence nodded and Shiny released the shields he held around Freeze, letting him drop to his knees, Shining Armor responded quite tense but slightly sympathetically, "This is what you meant in the street about what you would do to save a loved one?"

Wordlessly, Mr.Freeze nodded, and Cadence chimed in, a small smile doting her face, "Then we'll help."

Mr.Freeze gave them a thousand yard stare as he stared at them in shock. Armor chuckled, "Think we just broke him."

After a few more moments, and Cadence waving her hoof in front of Victors face, he just asked, "Why...?"

"I can see you're not heartless, and that's what matters most." Cadence responded, "Somepony is in trouble, so we should help."

"For better or worse, but if this harms my marefr- I mean, if it harms Princess Cadence, I will send you to the deepest pit of Tartarus myself."

"Understood." Freeze responded, as he began to get up, "All I needed was a few drops of blood."

They began to set to work, or well Freeze did, Cadence and Shining Armor supervising him, as the lights of the lab lit on proper around the work space, with just a prick and a quick band-aide, Freeze began to do some silly science. Most of the chemicals unmarked, and actually food coloring, with only a few actually holding chemicals like tiny bits of sodium or a dozen recolored types of salt.

The silence, was broken after naught but a few minutes, Shining Armor asked, "Why do you even work for that Puppet guy anyway?"

"Mr.Armor, he provided me with power to live in a world where none means..." he left the sentence unfinished, letting Shining's and Cadence's imagination finish it for them, "Then, he provided me a place in his home, where others like me can rest and plan. No, Mr.Armor I will not reveal that location nor their numbers or talents."

Shining Armor, if he felt disappointment, he didn't show it, but a new strange look entered his face instead, "I understand." Was that respect? I didn't know. It had been mostly scowls with him every time I met him, now it was something different.

"What do you plan to do once Nora is cured?" Cadence asked, and Mr.Freeze responded in turn.

"Spend the remainder of my days seeking a cure for myself, so that I can hold my Nora with warm hands again, and enjoy the summer days together."

"That's all?" that was both of them.

"I have simple desires Mr.Armor, Ms.Cadenza. I served villains to keep my Nora safe. Once she is safe again, and I can hold her... I have naught else to desire. Revenge may of been a dish best to seek, but there is no method of which I can reach the man who tried to kill my Nora." He swirled a vial, as he watched orange and blue oils mixed together, the drop of blood being poured in as he stirred and watched the result. He took a sample, and made to study it under the microscope, adding a drop of his own false blood to the mixture.

Cadence was the next to speak, her voice filled with the compassion suitable for the princess of love, "Then as long as you don't cause anymore trouble, go and live out your lives together, alright?"

"Cadence, he's wanted by the law." Shining informed her, and she looked at him.

Cadence, rose herself to full stature, "And as a princess of Equestria, I can pardon him of any crimes he may of committed, he may of given you a cold, but its not an excuse to lock up a perfectly redeemable stallion in a cage for eternity for trying to save his wife."

Wow, what a head on that pair of shoulders, Shining Armor conceded the point, and when Freeze Injected the concoction into the tank, Nora began to unfreeze. With the tank draining shortly after, and the unconscious Nora, a beautiful mare in her own right falling right into the hands of Victor Fries. Emotion returned to his voice proper, "She is cured..."

Holding his wife, Victor spoke to them again, "In time, Mr.Armor, Ms. Cadenza, I will have my happy ending thanks to you..." He nodded his head, "Now, I must bid you both goodbye, and hope that you learned as much as I in the values of pony kind..."

Before either of them could respond, a spray of water, thick enough to coat vision appeared, and in the burst of snow that followed, Mr.Freeze disappeared with his wife. All the lab equipment and tools used in the process with it. When it cleared, they were left in an empty warehouse, with only one item left upon the ground. A letter.

Cadence picked it up and read, aloud, "Dear Cadenza and Shining Armor, Victor will see you again one day when you most need him. To thank you for your kindness to him, I have left a gift for you to celebrate your own eventual happiness. Thank you for taking care of him. Puppet Master."

Shining then took and shook the envelop, and out dropped a pair of fancy rings, one of the many treasures that had been found in the dragons treasure horde. Little things that were meant to be worn on the horn, and bedazzled with sapphires. I had taken an extra step in carving some iconography and re-polishing the metal using lasers and polish, "Hmm? How did he know about our relationship?" Shining asked Cadence, and she shrugged.

"Well, it looks like he just got us some wedding rings." Cadence took them and pocketed them away behind one of her wings for safe keeping, "Another step down for our marriage, right Shiny?"

Shining Armor blushed, and I shut off the surveillance. One Lesson done, just seven more planned to do.

Author's Note:

Wanted to pay tribute to Mr.Freeze, one of my favorite villains in Batman The Animated Series. This was a fun way to teach a lesson of how easy it is to go to extreme lengths for loved ones. As well as set up more future lessons and what was intended for them.

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