• 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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Threading Along

My immediate reaction of course was to weave back out, I had no intention on dealing with the mare who whined herself out of a kidnapping.... or was it foalnapping? Either way, I couldn't just stick around. I already had grabbed what I needed and the rest of the store, as cool as it was, could wait for another day. Immediately I diverted my path towards the cashier and as she rung up the bags worth of foam generators and fabrics I had collected already I kept an eye out for the fashionista. I shouldn't be worried, after all I had my disguise on, but I'd rather not go into talking with a fashion obsessed mare when-

"Excuse me, sir, your total comes up to one hundred and twenty five bits." The cashier interrupted me with an expression as lack luster as someone who was bored to death of standing at the same spot for several hours.

I counted out the bits and passed it to her, and she nodded, across from me at another cashier desk I spotted the mare in question finishing her own purchases, apparently she had only grabbed one bolt of fabric, the rest either having displeased her tastes or having fallen short of her standards. Our eyes met and I diverted my stare, still feeling her lingering gaze as I tried not to sprint to the exit and instead keeping a casual, if slightly forced, walked. I barely made if out the door when I heard her voice again, "Excuse me for asking," her voice rang out right behind me, forcing me to turn and confront the unicorn as she caught up, "But how do you keep your fur looking so smooth?"

Uh, what? I looked down at myself, indeed, Aku's disguise could only work so far, and instead of an exact copy of fur, I had made a close similar, a texture really, over an normally featureless surface that made up most of Aku's body. I gave it a few seconds of rushed thought before replying, "Lotion, lots and lots of lotion."

She looked puzzled, "Lotion?"

"Rub the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again." I told her, and walked calmly into a side alley before breaking out into a sprint. I grinned, her expression of confusion had been priceless, and I considered that a smooth getaway as well. Eventually I managed to come out of the network of alleyways into another market street.

This place sure was big, but to my surprise, her voice came again from behind me, "Lotion, really darling? That's hardly healthy for maintaining such a luxurious coat. What's brand are you are using?"

"Le Fleur." I lied between my teeth before diving into the crowd of passerbys trying to avoid the fashion obsessed mare who was now tailing me, "An off market mixture of several soaps and shampoos."

"Oh that sounds simply lovely," Rarity went on, somehow managing to weave through the crowds like a fish in water, "What's the recipe? I simply must know."

Yep she was digging me deeper into a pit of lies, "It's a family secret." I rattled off the excuse, ducking and weaving past several more ponies while trying not to blow my cover.

Her expression went from eager curiosity to downpour pouting, "Really? Could I at least have a sample of it? I pinkie promise not to tell anypony about it!"

I ignored her, rushing into another alleyway, and after turning the corner, turned myself and my shopping bags into an amorphous blob that smoothed out into a flat surface along the walls, casting a second shadow over the entire alleyway as Rarity ran through, trying to catch back up to me. It may of been a bit extreme for dealing with the fashion diva but I really didn't want to talk to her of all people. Within the show she had been my least favorite for the constant abuse of Spike whenever the two showed up together. While the other members of the mane six showed some abuse of spike, it wasn't nearly as large as what Rarity had him do on occasion, like carrying luggage several times his body weight and acting like a shovel so she wouldn't get her hooves dirty.

I rolled my eyes and reformed, going in the opposite direction from where Rarity left and resuming my search for an electric or camping store to find this so called magical generator that would be needed in order to power my workshops electric based tools. An hour and several ponies bribed with bits to show me the way later, and I had found the damn store hidden away between two rival construction stores called 'Marble is Best!' and 'Wood is more Convenient!'. Seriously, they sounded more like slogans than business names.

Anyway, entering the cramped location of the store, I wasn't surprised to find out that business was slacking here. For one, everything was at a discounted price due to the shop going out of business. Guess when you live in a typically medieval era with a few technological exceptions, and a generator takes years to wear out, you don't get much business in a town. The stallion who owned the magic emporium shop was a rather dismal grey bloke with a baleful blue mane did up in a ponytail. His small spectacles were similarly colored in a dark blue and he wore, what I equated to, an alchemists brown trench coat, along with a dark red scarf.

He took one look at me and smiled, though I could tell it didn't quite reach his yellow eyes, "Hello, welcome to Ting Wong's Magic Emporium, your source for everything magical, and a few things not quite as magical. How can I help you today?"

I browsed through his wares, looking through the various magical artifacts he had on display and nodded to him, "Yes, I'm seeking a generator in order to power some tools in my workshop for finer work, and was told this was... where to acquire one?"

I had a definte pause, I wasn't quite sure this was the right place after all, but the shop keeper was in no state to leave a potential customer wondering, "Yes, yes, of course!" He told me, "we have a few in the back in excellent condition at the price of about a hundred bits each. Feel free to browse while I dig it out and bring it up front for you."

I nodded and looked around as the stallion disappeared into the backrooms of his shop, my own gaze wandering between things like ancient looking staves, those magical crystal orbs cliche witches tended to have, Mask's that looked like it would belong in Zecoras hut, and various tomes of spells for unicorns which were practically useless for a human like me. A few things caught my complete interest, like the Alicorn Amulet that was on display on a counter in the back, but I pulverized my temptation. I wasn't about to buy an artifact if it corrupted the wearer. My mask makings as far as I was aware of, was a much safer alternative to that particular method of power. And as much as a staff would be a welcome addition to my arsenal, I was no mage or wizard.

Soon enough, the shop owner came back with a sturdy metal cube that had a compartment slot for a few gems, and outlets coming out of the side that perfectly matched my own tools, at least based off my memory anyway. He even threw in an extension cable that increased the number of tools I could have plugged in at a time on the agreement that I'd come back again some time. So several bits poorer, and one generator richer, I left the shop while merging the new acquired tools back into my mass, it was a much easier method of transport oddly enough, and it was a wonder I hadn't thought of it earlier.

Hours later, and I had returned to my mountain summit, albeit with a feeling of unease. Things had gone swimmingly, after all. Almost too well really. But then again, it was only a shopping trip. However, after seeing Rarity I expected to run into some guards at least, if not a patrol of equestrian law enforcement. Though with Shining Armor probably still hospitalized, it was anybodies guess to what the rest of Celestia's army of guards would do in his absence of leadership. I think it was this edge of paranoia that made me uncomfortably aware of minute changes in the cave. For one, some of the gold had been piled up near the exit where it wasn't there before. Two, there was a rather feminine looking half bird half lion anthromorph in dark tanned leathers with a variety of crossbows all over her person.

And three, my brain pointed out, She's pointing two at your face.

"Surrender of perish in the name of my employer, the Equestrian Government." The griffin told me, with a shooty look.

It was just something you either learned after watching a lot of action movies and focusing on the villains body movement, or had live combat experience with. As I had more of the former rather than the later, I decided to distract the griffin with a question, mostly directed at her garb, "Employer? You're a merc?"

"Ya. Now hooves up in the air where I can see 'em bub."

I deadpanned, "And what are you being paid to do this job?"

"Ten thousand bits." she rumbled off, now I felt vaguely insulted. Sure you can buy about a hundred generators with that, but really?

They needed at least another zero. Well soon enough they'd see the error of that mistake soon enough I guess. "And wanted alive or badly wounded i'm guessing?" I told her, remembering full well that I was still wearing the mask of Aku, and my form having turned into a black and green imitation of my normal clothed body with eye and face exception.

she nodded, "Mhm."

I looked over to the large dragon horde, "And I'm guessing even if I payed you ten times their amount to work for me instead, you'd just say the dragon horde right there is a bonus to what your already going to get if your take me out?"

She nodded again, and I sighed, "This assuming that you can even harm me if I, what's the phrase, 'resisted arrest'?"

She smirked, "Wouldn't try that if I were you, I'm the best shot this side of Equestria. Nail a fly from a hundred meters with a crossbow any day of the week."

"Uh-huh." I replied, "Well you'd find that..." I said, starting to move forward, "The form of Aku, shape shifting master of darkness." I began to expand, taking in Aku's tall stature rather than my current disguise until I was the full towering height and shape of towering evil from space, "Is a lot harder to kill than a fly."

She shot me in the face and grinned at me as it met its mark and burried itself in one of my eyes. I didn't feel it though, Aku was an immortal normally shapeless being of evil who could only be harmed by the power of magic, as the story goes. And as with his backstory episode in Samurai Jack, I absorbed the cross bow bolt into my body. The smile vanished from the griffons beak and she began firing round after round at me, aiming for where vital organs would normally be on a complete living organism. Each bolt becoming absorbed by its fellows until she had expended the two crossbow bolts in her hands, the two larger ones on her hips, the gatling crossbow shooter that had a belt fed hand operated crank to reload and fire itself, and threw a knife into my groin. Even if I didn't feel that one, I felt the urge to wince had the scenario been for anyone else.

I grinned cockily as she yelled at me, "What the heck is that..."

"Aku, the shape shifting master of darkness." I repeated, while raising a hand, aiming it at her and everywhere in her general vicinity. All the absorbed ammunition rearranging itself into a shotgun pattern, "And this is but the first of many tragic villains I intend to teach the world about."

Without further warning I shot every shot she fired at me into her general direction. Unsurprisingly this lead to a griffin being knocked out of the air as her armor managed to hold back most of her own bolts, her arm armor having given her a sporting chance to protect the unarmored face, but the combined hits of dozens of different crossbow bolts sent her flying into the opposite cave wall. She got up and charged me with her knife, another thing she managed to get back from the return fire. Her wings now useless with several bolts wedged into her wing armor to the point where if she flapped or folded them, she'd tear her armor apart first.

I deadpanned. What would get the point across without killing her... Oh I know! I shot lasers from my eyes and the ground at her feet exploded, knocking the griffon through the air and into my outstretched hand. Okay not so much as my outstretched hand but colliding bodily into me. However the pillar of darkness that made Aku didn't budge an inch from the unexpected force of a griffin impacting on him, instead I took the moment she was dazed to pin her to the ground by sitting on her back.

"Eye lasers?" She sounded both incredulous and enraged, "SERIOUSLY?!"

"Mhm." I told her, "and more, but that's just overkill with what I already showed you." In truth, I had created Aku first for a reason. Nothing short of magic would harm him, and the only magic that counted back then was magic from divine gods and purity. Which meant while nothing short of the elements of harmony could hurt that Aku, I had a expectation that even if it wasn't a perfect copy, it would stand its own against any melee, ranged, or physical fighter short of a unicorn with a selection of battle spells, or an Alicorn princess. "Luckily for you, there is one rule I will always follow."

"And that is?" She vehemently asked me after a few seconds of waiting, disgruntled from the lopsided fight.

"I have no intention on killing anyone when my lessons need to be taught for the difference between a Tragic Villain, and one that deserves the punishment Celestia and the elements of harmony are bound to dish out without education." I told her, "I am not the executioner or the judge in this court. Only the jury."

I stripped her of her weapons, and the multitude of crossbow bolts that were stuck in her armor before tossing them into a pile a few feet from her before standing up and going back to business, "If you work for the highest bidder, and capturing me and gaining my new found wealth as well as your payment was one bid, I think your life as a bid just outbid whatever the princesses could give you."

She looked at me in confusion, and I rose an eyebrow as she continued to lay there, "What, did you expect me to do? Some sort of low class rogue cliche where he kills you and takes your stuff before dumping your body into a lake?"

"Yes?" she answered hesitantly, anger having drained from the young Griffin, now that I had a clear look at her, she was pretty nice looking for an anthromorphic mixture of a bird and lion. Her coloration behind her armor was black and white over Gilda's brown and white. Though her open face helmet pretty much hid what her hairstyle would look like.

I rolled my eyes after turning away from her, ejecting the contents of my shopping spree and starting to organize my new supplies in the cave as best I could. However, there was one other problem I hadn't planned for, the Griffon didn't leave as I planned, and instead of responding, I just kept setting up camp again. By the time night had fallen, one thing became clear to me as she kept staring at me as if wondering my intent while disarmed and in hole filled armor. However, as night began to fall and my attempts at organizing a small workshop and lower walls of what I planned to be a long term stay, it was clear that she wasn't going to go.

However, what I didn't expect was her sudden words as I prepared to bed down for the night in an uncharacteristic and formal tone that contrasted her seemingly casual rough-house nature she had displayed to me not hours earlier, "You have my contract oh Puppet master, and as thus, my allegiance until a higher bidder arrives, or my debt can be repaid..."

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