• 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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Villainous Security Consultant

To my immense surprise, it seemed barely any time had passed since I had been ported between worlds. If it was convenience or due to other unknown factors like Yoko being a summoned person in my world, I wouldn't know, as the trip that had taken me to her world had passed time equally, so when I came back after hours of work to still find the sun and moon in the same spot, I was notably disoriented. What pleased me more though, was that my tools came back with me too instead of returning to their original positions. The noise of my return through the otherwise silent rips between dimensions, mostly the falling, was caught on the same bed I had fell through... So aside from the squeak of the mattress being suddenly hit by the weight, the return of silence was gladly welcomed again.

My first action of course, was to stow all my now considered contraband into the deck of playing cards again, and to quickly stash said deck inside the pillow I had been provided. Unfortunately, I had to make do with burnt robes still, despite their discomfort, as if I had suddenly changed attire now, I'd be out of luck when it came to any of them taking a checkup on me. After all, if I had any objects that weren't provided for me in line of sight, they'd clearly see it as me being uncontained. Which I was, in a way. Now that I had the deck of cards again, it'd be an easy matter if I had wanted to escape. But a new plan had already come into my head, that this unique opportunity shouldn't go to waste. Equestria had a long history of security issues, things that would be basic common sense to me that they simply were blind to.

My first physical visit to Princess Luna's own personal chambers had proved that. While this may of been understandable to a certain degree, after all the evolution of tactics, warfare, and security was as a direct result of violence, war, and discontent to a degree. There was several seemingly basic security measures that were simply unused to the point where any fantasy dungeon meant to be beaten by a young adventurer would look at this castle and laugh their ass off at how childishly easy it was to get past it. So much so, I was honestly surprised at how little resistance Canterlot had to foreign invaders if the leader of the enemy army could literally infiltrate its third most highest reigning authority figure at the time, throw her in the basement beneath the castle, for what seemed to be a long period of time, and then generally get away with several blatantly suspicious acts of wanton disregard of an already established persona. The fact that the enemy leader also was able to somehow plan her entire armies course of action while behind enemy lines also meant that either the Changelings had a hive mind, making such matters trivial, or that she was then also skilled enough to somehow get a message in and out of canterlot as well. But my bet was on the former, due to such a means being available, then Canterlot wouldn't of still had the shield in place during the wedding for anything other than dramatic effect.

I took both a short nap while waiting for night to fall. The few books they had left in here had been a mild entertainment, as well as a showcase of the princesses sense of humor, as there had been a rather thick paperback book on previous events similar to the Trial of Sharp Operas, mostly recordings on tribal gatherings where the elder most or in charge pony at the time would come to a decision after hearing all the related information, or the more recent keepings of the law where mayors, region governors and the princesses themselves would usually hold matters a fair bit differently than an actual court.

While the basis was there, a defense, an offense. Both sides being heard, a vast majority of these cases had been but childrens level clear cut cases, with scarce few having room for doubt or need to collect evidence, witnesses, or enter a morale grey zone. Apparently the fact that I had brought in more than the victimized party and the accused, and had testimonies and cross examinations, or despite my disappearance mid way through, that the method had gone on for several hours with a jury in place as well was unheard of. As most cases in the book I had been given had lasted around ten to thirty minutes, and consisted of either using magic to pry the truth from an unwilling liars tongue, or had so many witnesses that an entire courtroom could be filled for the offending criminal that reading off the lists had taken the most time than actual defense or prosecution. In this, I found the backwards logic here disgusting to an almost equal degree to Canterlots Royal Guards defense measures.

When darkness fell and the guards had switched, I waited an hour further so that my current indoor and outdoor guards had the chance to settle down. It seemed that after the first twenty minutes the usually stoic guards, when left to their own devices without any form of authority to command their obedience, and not needing to be 'fully presentable would, while still standing in their stations begin to chat with one another about trivial gossip. Indeed the night crew gossiped as many books would consider like fisherman wives. The fact that they were also the day guard also put me to a mild bit of amusement since from what I could tell, the Threstrals of the castle, or Lunas personal guard would only burn the graveyard shift in their duties, which meant that during the early hours of night another massive security flaw was open when your castle was primarily lit by nothing but torches and braziers. Carefully, I unstowed my tools, having taken a quick shower beforehand and enjoying the feeling of new clothes that weren't singed, cut up and burnt. The crew had already checked up on me shortly before the wash, and that left me about another hour and a half before the next checkup to make sure I was still behaving properly.

In the darkness of my room, the only light being moonlight trickling in on five rectangular broken up prisms to the foot of my bed, I grinned. Cards whirled to life from their hiding place, marionette tool was in hand, and with the creation of a new puppet I had to admit it was oddly creepy in the dark. To see a giant wooden humanoid without features looming as easily taller than even the princesses it was hunched over as a result to not hit its head on the ceiling of my cell. When I put the mask upon its face, imagining everything I knew from both the movie he was in, the 2-D then 3-D animated shows he also starred in, I was caught breathless as the glorious form of new threat lurked in the dark.

Standing several inches shorter than the puppet that was once there, was a an alien composed mostly of cybernetics and as a result, metals best left to the description of science fiction nerds for their density. His form, around seven foot and an inch tall when fully upright was hunched over, a glorious dark cape like robe hanging off his frame as his almost skeletal design was hidden within. His frontal plate of his chest visible as a sandy almost white coloration in the moonlight as a skull like face composed of the same metals meet my gaze. Those yellow cat like eyes with burnt muscles around them withdrawn into the mask was the only outside indication that he was not in fact a droid, and those who had once called him that in the show bore either browned pants or died shortly after if they said it within earshot. Looking down one could find his legs to be akin almost to a raptor, reverse jointed in a way where it would make it easy for him to not only run at high speeds, but grapple things with his feet if he desired, as one such instance he grabbed a man by the face, and hurled him to across a massive room in one long acrobatic move. Beneath his robe I could feel his form, Four arms, connected into two with a design of six fingers turned to five as their equivalent to a pinkie finger met each other to combine, across his hip slung six metal poles, that could extend into the famous blades of science fiction, Lightsabers. This puppet was General Grevious, and in the darkness of my room, I squeed that I'd be able to witness this in the flesh and that I was also to be controlling this particular puppet instead of saving him in my storage chest of villains.

I did keep in mind my problems with General Grevious, his tactics and minions had been overkill for this world, in more ways than one. Given his weapons could cause instantaneous death on contact with enemies, and his minions fired god damn lasers as their primary method of attack, the closest thing to non-lethal I could find for the trade federation was either to borrow the Stormtroopers stun mode on their blasters, or to use the Magnaguard and only apply just enough electricity to their melee electro-staves to stun or incapacitate than kill. Even then, I was reluctant to use a taser given the health risks involved with being shocked with high doses of electricity.

As I stood there in my black organization XIII robe, almost feeling akin to Darth Sidious I had to resist the urge to speak like a cliche villain with ears right outside my window. Instead, with utter silence following my momentary squee of glee, three more wooden puppets appeared, filling up the rest of the walking space of the room, and were absorbed by cards. Followed by three more... And another three. With Nine card-trapped dolls acting as my eyes and ears and General Grevious himself then sucked into a card, the plan began to take action.

Doors as it turned out, are highly ineffective as security devices when around a thin volume of a magazine could probably be wedged beneath the opening, let alone a bunch of animate flying playing cards. The fact that there had been no magical wards, or enchantments upon the door implied sad things about Equestrias magic, but with my novice knowledge of the arcane, I didn't know if that was because it was particularly difficult to enchant an object, or set up a magical barrier, or if it was because of other factors like the method being undiscovered or a material cost that was astronomical. Maybe even the door was warded, but against the incorrect form of magic, and didn't function at all as it tried to seal in unicorn magic but completely missed whatever form I was using. In any case, staring dead ahead as they chatted on about how one of their squadmates had recently come out of the closet to their parents, I maneuvered an entire deck of cards out from under the door, up between the middle of both guards, taking careful measure to keep them out of eye sight, and onto the darkened ceiling of the room.

Dungeons, as is typical of a medieval dungeon, suffer from poor lighting as much as the rest of the castle. While a torch mounted to a wall, or brazier placed near an entry way may light a good decent radius of 15-30ft, or 30ft-60ft for the brazier, the fact that fire still left places dark and flickering help hide the movement of cards as they almost slithered across the ceiling. The guards, staring straight ahead at the opposite side of their post, never noticed it, and I marveled the various tactics of games and novels had presented me as they slipped through the top of a closed door in bright light, almost like rain cascading down a mountain.

The next room was a stairway leading upwards, and as the cards went along the ceiling, I noted that while the entry ways to the next floor was guarded, as it was on surface level to some sort of long hallway no doubt right above me, that the stairs of the dungeon were indeed for some poor reason, connected to more floors of the castle itself. I felt an immediate surge of rage to however designed this castle. Had any prisoner escaped, this would of been the next line of defense to stop a dangerous criminal who had just gotten the equipment of at least two royal guards in his hands or hooves. And I saw, while I wasn't directly connected to the tower of the princesses, it still went up to the fifth floor of the grand castle. Meaning any escaping prisoners would have a massive margin of escape vectors that they could take within the castle proper. Slicking their way across the walls and ceiling I noted the entry way was also guarded by another pair of guards with their backs to the stairways and I fought the urge to either bite my lip or make a noise of frustration as I noted the opposite end of the hallway lacked guards to spot incoming stairway intruders.

While braziers lit the window balconies from outside, to minimize the smoke, the lighting itself barely showed the main hallway, and the open design of the braziers left them exposed to rain, wind, and what other acts of sabotage that any water based magic could easily exploit. While I didn't even need them, since the only other lighting was a few indoor torches, the massive arched ceiling of the hallways left plenty of darkness for my cards, but as a mild test, I left two cards one behind each guard, and redeployed General Grevious on the ceiling. Where he brazenly walked directly down the hall along the ceiling, each talon having to dig itself into stone like wet butter as he moved across just to see if they were paying attention.

To summarize, they weren't.

At that point I had enough. Was this the best Equestria had to offer? I sent cards back the way they came, to each guard I had come across in my cards travel. Twelve guards total, and all of them either incompetent, or incompetently placed in the worst possible positions, For good measure I put each card in position right behind each of their heads, and then. In a sudden surge of magic, each one swelled to full size, and consumed each of the guards in the span of less than a second. I then had a card push open my door, and began to walk. As I caught up to my main puppet, who had waited for me, I had the remaining cards not carrying people search out the rest of the incompetently placed guards on my path, another twelve, all in pairs, and yoink them up as well. My original plan had been spoiled by Shining Armors awful placement to the point I would ask if the world had been set on a mode easier than 'Baby'. I had expected at least some need to deploy metal gear-esque tactics, to use stealth, and have a battle of wits between myself and the Royal Guards top commander. But the fact that each set of guards were placed in a way that indicated Shining Armor had expected a threat from just within as far as I could guess, was an insult to every artist of war imaginable.

Worst off, was that as I climbed the stairs to the princesses tower itself, there was no air security, no patrols, no window locks, no door locks, no proper security checkpoints that'd stop an idiot with a woodcutting axe, Hell I'd think an idiot with a regular hammer could probably take on at least three to four of the guards armed with primitive spears. I picked one up where a shocked guard dropped it as he was getting put into the deck, and I noted the tip wasn't steel, it wasn't even copper... It was pig iron, mass produced cheap metal that was cast smelted, in comparison to a proper bronze I could probably snap this spears tip with a good stomp against it and the floor, or even cut it with a more standard proper iron or steel weapon and I wasn't even properly muscled for combat.

I could only twitch my eye as I wondered now if the guards golden armor was also made of actual gold, and I made a note to check if this was the case as well if any of them lost their helmets or if I found a set lying around somewhere. I also noted the piss poor design of the armor itself, as it was a spirally fancy design that left the rib cage area almost open aside from the center of the ribs, and the stomach exposed as well. Both vital areas that needed desperate protection. Hell they didn't even wear armored pants, facial protection, or had any sort of real armor aside from the end of their limbs, direct upper chest, and everywhere but the face of their head. The lazy design of the armor and weapons really showed just why the Royal Guards had no chance against any villains they came across. In anthro form, these flaws were just magnified even further. As if showcasing just how awful their military was.

As I walked, I decided to get even bolder, Sending out a few cards I stopped outside the princesses bed chamber and searched the rest of the towers till I found Shining Armor, asleep off shift, with Cadence. Not knowing if Cadence was still Cadence, I decided to leave her be, and just grab her husband in a card and drag it back. By then, at least Shining Armor was awake in the card, albiet I hadn't given him a chance to make any noise with how much I let transmit through the cards. As extra salt to injury, I didn't even touch any of his own towers guards either. To just prove a point later on.

"I'm disappointed in you Shining Armor. And all of you guards." I said to the amassed looks of terror in my deck. I was half tempted to give them the vertigo of a good casino shuffle but decided against it. I didn't want to spoil Luna or Celestia's bedrooms.

Notably I also noted a new door, did they add one for Starswirl up here? Neat. Going to Luna's I knocked twice, and entered, not finding a lock on her door either. Luna for her part was sitting at her desk, already awaiting for me, she didn't even look fazed. "I take it the guards gave you minimal difficulty?" She asked, as if commenting on the weather.

"About as much as a stiff breeze, their arrangement, security measures, training, everything was the worst I've ever seen in my life." I replied in turn, curtly.

She sighed, and asked, "Are any of them injured or suffering lasting trauma?"

"All unharmed, unless you wish for them to be shuffled," I offered, showcasing the various entrapped guards in cards, "I was planning on just sneaking by with a single puppet, but the gods awful planning of this place made it clear to me that your captain of the royal guard, and the architect who designed this place, and your armor and weapon smiths, have not the faintest ounce of common sense."

"You do not plan on dumping them here, are you?" Luna asked, giving me a studying look.

"No, I plan on dumping them on Celestia, for having over a thousand years to fix this, and having done nothing about it." I responded in turn, which got a faintest wisp of a smile from Luna.

"Let the records show I predicted this much." Luna coyly responded in turn, "Let us see her flabbergasted face when you've escaped in less than a day."

"May I leave you to explain?" I asked, "I'm feeling rather vehement and would like a chance to calm down at the absolute incompetence I witnessed getting here."

"Do you plan to escape?" Luna asked, putting down her quill and properly turning towards me in her rotating absolutely heavenly looking office chair. I had to mildly admit the new furniture felt absolutely james bond villain esque. Which made me wonder where I could get one.

I shook my head, "No, I plan to go back to my room, and offer in the morning how to improve this mess. Imagine the international scandal it would be if I just waltzed right out the front gates unopposed." I rolled my flaming eyes, starting from the bottom of my gaze to make the gesture even more evident.

"Then I shall explain and give the offer, I'll wait on your flying poster boards."

"Enlarged playing cards actually." I noted as she got the objects mixed up.

She nodded, and slowly got up, she didn't even look nervous, "Perhaps I'll visit you this night to talk more once my work is over."

That set my heart a little aflutter, "It would be an honor and a pleasure," I bowed out, as I began to walk the way back.

I took the doll filled and empty cards back, leaving just one to watch over the two dozen royal protectors and their captain as I walked back at a leisurely pace, even stopping by the royal kitchen to pick up a midnight orange to snack on the way back.

Gladly I noted the barrel of oranges was marked from Applejacks distant family the Oranges as a loud cacophony of armored ponies began to rain upon the princess of the sun. Her startled cry from sleep and the resulting bed creaking and breaking being music to my ears once Luna's own laughter joined in. As Canterlot Castle went into red alert, I merely entered my dungeon cell after disposing of the oranges peel in one of the torch sconces.

Tonight in the end had been a fun night.

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