• Published 24th Nov 2017
  • 612 Views, 20 Comments

Archer: Magic - Thought Prism

After being blacklisted by the CIA, what's a group of freelance intelligence operatives to do? Why, sell sentient pony holograms of course.

  • ...

Zone 3

One by one, as everyone returned from their excursions, the ponies were dropped back off at the lab for safekeeping. The stated reasoning for this was so they could keep eachother company, but in actuality the humans all had either had more important things to do - such as business planning - or simply couldn't be bothered. Those who had expected otherwise were supremely disappointed by this behavior.

Krieger was the last to leave. After they all watched him go, the colorful friends were unceremoniously left alone to catch up in the cold, grey room.

Rarity immediately turned back towards the group and huffed in annoyance. "I can't believe these people. Honestly, I'd rather go back to the Diamond Dogs! At least they knew how to treat a lady properly."

"Oh, they're not so bad," said Fluttershy as she gingerly wrapped a reassuring wing around Rarity. "At least, Lana seems nice. I'm alright with staying with her for a while."

"Good for you!" cheered Pinkie. She even clapped her hooves.

Twilight hummed in thought, facing Fluttershy. "Well, this current instance of you will get to, at least. We are being, erm, 'mass produced'. Who knows what all these Bronies are going to be like?"

At this, Applejack flinched. "Trust me, you don't wanna know."

Spike blinked at her in confusion. "If they're anything like those guys I met at the comic book store, we have nothing to worry about, though. They were great once I got to know them a bit!"

"Glad to hear someone had fun," groused Rarity.

"Was Malory really such awful company?" asked Twilight. "I know I'm one to talk, but as far as scientists go, Krieger was surprisingly agreeable. He was only slightly mad."

"Yes. She was," replied Rarity. "And judging from Applejack's unusually pale complexion, Pam's conduct was less than amicable as well."

Applejack opened her mouth to reply, but closed it before she could accidentally get her friends curious.

"So? All that means is that at least half of these guys are nice!" said Pinkie. "I like those odds!" She then turned to the last remaining pony in the room. "How about you?"

Rainbow Dash grinned. "Well, apart from the whole 'stealing from a terrified man' thing, I had a blast!"

"Seriously?" asked Spike, who was now eyeing Dash incredulously. "But Archer basically killed you!"

"It was worth it, though," she confirmed. "What's life without a little adventure? Plus, Twi's new egghead buddy fixed me right up, good as new." Rainbow then did a little flip in the air to emphasize the point. "It didn't even hurt."

"Still!" exclaimed Spike.

Pinkie nodded in confirmation after hearing from Dash. "See, nice!"

"Stealing is the opposite of nice!" said Applejack. "Rainbow, you should be ashamed of yourself!"

Dash just shrugged. "New world, new rules."

"Exactly," said Twilight. "Even if all of Archer's cohorts were vile, it's in our best interests to go along with what they want. The alternative is nonexistence."

"Or possibly creative forms of torture," added Rarity, staring grimly at nothing.

"They wouldn't do that!" said Twilight. "Er, would they?"

"I hate to admit it, but it's not like we could challenge this even if we wanted to," said Applejack as she turned away. "And the only thing stopping them from doing the same to everypony else is their word."

"Applejack! Rarity! Twilight!" exclaimed Fluttershy, quietly. "That's no way to think! Whatever happened to trust and kindness?"

"They're just being realistic, Fluttershy," said Pinkie. "And although that's not something I usually appreciate, I totally understand. Except, this time, you girls are super-duper wrong!"

"Uh, how so?" asked Rainbow. The others all nodded in agreement and looked expectantly at Pinkie.

"Because this is still a business, duh! Archer and the others are just marketing our usual, cheerful selves. So all we have to do is not act like that if they start being big ol' meanies, and then they'll have to hear us out or risk losing all their sales!"

As she processed this, Rarity slowly broke into a grin one might call a bit sadistic. "Ok, I feel better now."

Fluttershy brushed her mane with a hoof. "I still think the trust and kindness angle sounds much better to me, but I suppose threatening to bankrupt them also works."

Spike snorted. "That's the spirit."

"Well, it's better than nothing," said Applejack.

"Leave it to Pinks to get us all thinking positive again," added Dash. She playfully shoved the mare in question.

An audible squeak could be heard as Pinkie smiled ecstatically.

"So, cautious optimism it is," said Twilight, looking to each of her companions. "Let's wait and see how this convention about us goes and go from there."

She was met with a bevy of affirmative gestures.

After weeks of preparation, the day of reckoning was at hand. The much anticipated Ponycon was nigh. For one three-day weekend a year (at this particular location), Bronies the world over would gather to share in the love and friendship only a television show for children could bring.

Pam raised a hand high, rallying her longtime comrades. "Ok, team, let's milk these suckers for all they've got!"

Lana, who was busy setting up their booth, stopped to level a glare at her which seemed to ask 'really?'

"What?" Pam said. "We're all thinking it."

Cyril, after handing a folded banner to Lana, sighed at her. "Not that moral support isn't a good idea, but maybe you should have said that earlier?" He then gestured to the surrounding room.

The vendor hall was just short of massive. Dozens of people were busy setting up their wares, from handcrafted plushies and beautiful artwork to wood carvings and rows of hanging dakimakura. (If you don't know what those are, avoid googling them for your continued sanity.) Some had already finished setting up their stalls, and were trading idle chit chat among themselves. But a few nearby had turned to stare upon hearing Pam's cry.

Pam did not have the decency to blush sheepishly. Instead, she gave them the stink-eye and went back outside to carry in the next couple of projectors from the van.

Malory shook her head at the display. "Yes, that's it, back to work. Chop chop."

"Yeah, okay, just stand there and do nothing, mother," said Archer. He and Krieger were in the process of assembling a tall metal shelf. "It's not like it would be nice if you actually did something remotely helpful for once in your stupid life. Everybody else is."

Malory's left eyebrow shot up. "Really? Because Cheryl got distracted by something with glitter on it and vanished over an hour ago. Didn't you notice?"

Archer paused. He counted the heads of his cohorts one by one and came up short. "God damn it."

"Maybe," interjected Lana, "you could go look for her?"

Malory scoffed. "Have you seen this place? The festivities haven't even begun and the hotel is already filthy. Plus, I already checked the bar, and no Cheryl. My guess is that she's already been inducted into the ranks of this Brony cult."

"If this was a cult, it would be a terrible one," said Krieger, who had apparently been paying attention despite appearances. "These people have clearly retained their freedom of thought."

Everybody just ignored him and his tangent. Cyril in particular sighed at Malory, then said "Eh, she'll turn up eventually. Probably screaming and chasing around some poor bastard."

Archer snorted. "I can totally see that happening."

With that, Malory's idleness was forgotten completely as they each imagined the devastation Cheryl might be wreaking this very moment. In turn, they each threw themselves back into their labors in a futile effort to purge those images from their respective heads. However, they did soon manage to get their booth finished as a result.

The seven currently inactive hologram projectors sat atop a high shelf, away from wandering hands. Directly below hung a banner that read 'HOLOPONIES' in an overdramatic, neon pink font. Underneath the banner was a long table, covered by a cheap, white tablecloth, and another table was placed next to that one. The second table had a laptop, cash box, and credit card reader sitting on top of it. Both came with the appropriate number of chairs.

Eventually, the time came for the vendor hall to officially open. Archer wanted to do the honors, but Krieger beat him to the switch and punctuated the activation with a "Shi-pow!"

In an instant, the Mane Six and Spike materialized in front of them, somewhat disoriented.

"Oh, wow," said Twilight, blinking. "It's like no time passed at all!"

"Yep," Dash agreed. "Obviously not as much fun as flying, but you can't complain about waiting!"

Pinkie was already taking in the sights, zipping to and fro. "Ooo, look at all the neat stuff!"

Once she had straightened her hat, which had been jostled in her surprise, Applejack called out to Pinkie. "Hey, focus, sugarcube."

"Booze Horse is right, we've got a job to do," said Archer, his usual, smarmy tone replaced with a commanding one. "Our future depends on you."

"Archer is right. Let's get ready, girls," said Twilight, as she teleported into one of the chairs with a violet flash.

One by one, the others followed, AJ, Spike, and Dash like usual. Fluttershy, meanwhile, had visibly steeled her resolve, Archer's words a reminder that she wasn't just doing this for herself. Rarity was still a bit reluctant, but not as much so as Pinkie.

"But everything looks so fuuun," she whined, her pink hooves crossed in indignation. "Can't you give me an eensy-teensy bit of time to party with my fans?"

"Judging by the looks of things, I'd say the party's gonna be coming to us anyway," pointed out Pam.

Every last person in the room, merchants and con-goers alike, had stopped whatever they were doing to stare at the see-through ponies who had appeared, completely dumbstruck. It was so quiet, you could hear a pin drop. Or, at least, you would have been able to if the floor wasn't carpeted. The ponies weren't quite sure what to do, and just kept chancing sidelong glances at eachother.

One man in a hoodie whispered "I really should have taken it easy on the pot."

Malory rolled her eyes. "Quit reciprocating their gawking and hustle! Places!" Then, she unceremoniously plopped herself behind the cash box.

"Uh, oh yeah," said Cyril, taking the seat next to her and opening the laptop.

Then, everyone was moving. Archer stood stoically with his arms crossed, guarding the merchandise. Krieger sat next to him, pulling out an electronic stopwatch. Pam and Lana started walking into the center of the room, beckoning to the onlookers.

"If anybody wants to talk to Fluttershy or any of the other Holoponies, please form a line!" shouted Lana.

"And if you wanna take 'em home, we've got preorders too!" added Pam.

This was enough to convince the onlookers that, no, they weren't hallucinating. They immediately dashed over to form a line as instructed, their wildest dreams now made real. Some of the other vendors even abandoned their own wares. More an more people filed in as word spread, and the line rapidly grew, snaking back and forth. Some of those present chatted amongst themselves, sharing joy and disbelief. Others just acted like groupies, screaming their love for their chosen Best Pony for said pony (and everybody else) to hear.

Applejack's jaw dropped. "Whoa, nelly. What an enthusiastic bunch."

"Yeeesss..." agreed Malory as she rubbed her palms together. You could almost see the dollar signs in her eyes.

Archer smirked down at the centers of attention. "You ready to get started?"

Before anypony else could reply to the contrary, Rainbow waved the first young man in line forward.

There were about ten full seconds of high pitched squee-ing before he actually managed to speak. "Hi everypony! I just wanted to say how much you all mean to me, especially Twilight. Watching you come out of your shell, make friends, and grow into a princess help me get over my own anxieties."

Twilight was taken aback, at a loss for words upon hearing his heartfelt admission. Spike, however, was not. "It's good to hear I didn't suffer through all those panic attacks for nothing," he said.

At this, Twilight's ears folded in embarrassment as all her friends and the teenage Brony giggled. After that, he had nothing else to add beyond a 'see you later', and graciously moved along to place his preorder.

The next person in line was wearing a girl wearing a Sunset Shimmer cosplay, complete with wig. She wasted no time on pleasantries. "So, I and many others have debated this question for years. Now I actually have the chance to ask: what are your sexual orientations?"

"Ha!" said Archer. "We've got a blunt one here."

"I'll say!" exclaimed a blushing Rarity. "How forward!"

Fluttershy, too, had turned red as an apple, and was hiding in her mane while making squeaky noises.

"Guess I'll go first," said Applejack as she made eye contact with the cosplayer. "I'm straight as an arrow."

"Her family's huge for a reason," quipped Rainbow. "And I'm gay, obviously."

A chorus of "Called it!" and "I knew it!" emanated from the rest of the line.

Spike rolled his eyes. "For the record, I have no idea. Beyond Rarity, anyway. I won't hit dragon puberty for another hundred years." He then twisted to look at Twilight.

The alicorn fidgeted in her seat. "I, uh, haven't really had the time to explore that, myself."

"And I don't discriminate!" chimed in Pinkie. "My first crush was a helicopter!"

Before she could elaborate on that, or Rarity and Fluttershy could answer, Krieger's timer beeped. "Ok, sorry, your turn's over," said Archer. "Next!"

The proceedings went by in a blur from there. Bronies of all shapes and sizes would approach, said what they wanted to the Holoponies, and then moved on to preorder one or more for themselves. If anyone questioned the ethics of the situation, they were far too thrilled by the alternative to complain. Some well-to-do folks even penciled themselves down for the whole set. Everything was going swimmingly.

At least, until the first furry showed up.

This particular individual was dressed as Bon Bon, covered from head to toe in cream colored, synthetic fur. The large headpiece's expression was set in a permanent, slightly unsettling smile. "Boy, was I sure surprised to see you here," he said.

Archer narrowed his eyes. Something was familiar to him about the man's voice, but he couldn't quite place it.

"Trust me, we were surprised, too," said Fluttershy.

'Bon Bon' waved a hand-turned-hoof in dismissal. "Not you and your friends. I always suspected somebody would pull this off eventually. I was talking about the people with you."

"Really? Why's that?" asked Pinkie, leaning over the table.

Before he could answer, Archer abruptly gasped, then furrowed his brow in rage. "Oh, shit! Everybody, get down!"

Then he whipped a pistol out of his coat and straight up unloaded half the clip into the guy in the fursuit, the sound of the gunshots echoing loudly throughout the hotel.

"Jesus Christ, Archer!" exclaimed Lana.

Cue mass panic. Everyone not familiar with Archer (namely the Bronies) started scrambling away in every direction, most while screaming. This included the convention staff and hotel security, both groups woefully unprepared for an actual, armed assailant, and they instead opted to call the police once out of harm's way. The noise tapered off as the last few tripped up stragglers fled the premises. Twilight and the other twice-animated characters were quite shocked, but didn't follow the throng out, some because they had never seen a gun before, others because of how familiar they were with crisis situations.

'Bon Bon' stood unharmed, save for the bullet holes in his outfit. He crossed his fuzzy arms. "Oh, come on. You can't be stupid enough to think that was going to work."

Archer kept his weapon leveled at him. "Why are you here, Barry!?" he exclaimed.

Now all the other former ISIS operatives collectively gasped. "Barry?"

"Oh, shit, that is him," said Cyril as he crouched into a defensive position.

Rainbow glanced back in confusion. "Wait, who is this guy, exactly?"

"And did you just try to kill him?" added a flabbergasted Twilight.

"It wouldn't be the first time, Twilight." confirmed Archer though gritted teeth.

Before Twilight could exposit on how generally terrible murder is, Applejack beat her to it. "Killing someone in cold blood is downright reprehensible!"

"He was a KGB agent!" protested Archer. "They're like the human equivalent of changelings! Er, before their extremely recent reformation. He's tried to kill me, too! Like, all the time."

"Oh, that in no way justifies all the shit you've put me through!" Barry exclaimed. "Since we've met, you've shot me, shattered both my femurs, stolen both my fiancés, got me turned into a robot, left me to die in outer freaking space, and also blew me up in a grain elevator! I mean, most of that was in the job description, but the adultery was completely uncalled for, hence my repeated attempts at vengeance!"

"Oh, boo hoo, I've been through worse in one day," said Malory, nonplussed.

Meanwhile, Dash was now staring wistfully at Barry and Archer. "That all sounds wild. I wish I coulda been there to see it."

"Yeah, the sex was pretty great," Archer admitted with a smirk. Barry's face was still covered, but you could tell he was now scowling just from his posture.

"Wait, and I'm sorry to interrupt this... fateful showdown, I suppose, but did Barry just say he's a robot?" asked Rarity.

"Oh, that's why he's dressed like that!" suddenly realized Pam. "He's gotta hide that evil, Terminator-ripoff body of his. And yes, he is a robot," she added on Rarity's behalf.

"A small price to pay for being literally bulletproof," said the now clearly annoyed Archer. "Nice choice of costume, by the way. Very clever. A spy disguised as a spy. What I don't get is how you're even familiar with MLP in the first place."

"Thank you. And actually, the show has a surprisingly active fanbase in Russia," said Barry. "The same guys who built my body got me into it. They've been working on a Sweetie Bot in their spare time for a while."

"And it's not done yet?" asked Krieger. "You'd think a full cyborg would be harder to construct, but what do I know?"

"In any case, Barry, are you going to try and kill us again, or what?" said Lana, hands on her hips. "Because I have an infant daughter now, and I do not particularly like the thought of her living without her only responsible parent."

"Funny you should mention that, because that's exactly why I'm here," said Barry. "Here as in talking to you assholes, not here as in Ponycon. When I saw you were making AIs of these not-assholes, it got me thinking. See, I never knew my parents."

"Oh my, how awful!" exclaimed Fluttershy.

Barry nodded. "Exactly. I'd been meaning to try and get in touch with my mother for a while now, but the first chance I get is after I was turned into a tin man that can't go to a detective without the feds being called."

"So instead, you're buying a copy of one," finished Spike with wide eyes.

"That was the idea," Barry said.

Upon hearing this, Rarity sighed. "Oh, if only I had my Shadow Spade outfit. Or any outfit with a coat, really."

"I'll be more than happy to help!" said Pinkie, who was now inexplicably wearing her old-timey investigation hat. "A mother's smile is sure to make anybody feel better. We just have to track her down!"

"Honestly, I'm not even sure the Elements could fix him, but it's worth a try," said Archer, finally putting his gun away.

After leveling an unseen glare at Archer, Barry twisted to address the ponies. "To be frank, this is going to mostly involve combing through an obnoxiously large pile of records. I was actually thinking Miss Sparkle would be more helpful."

Twilight's ears twitched in surprise. "Me? Well, I suppose I can do that." She narrowed her eyes. "But you have to promise you'll table your revenge schemes indefinitely."

Barry raised his right arm. "Sure. Scout's honor."

"Oh, like you were ever a boy scout," said Malory. "Cut the bullshit."

Barry sighed. "Ok, you got me there. I'll at least promise to stick to non-violent methods. Like, posting unfairly negative reviews of your product online, or something."

Lana facepalmed. "I suppose we can live with that."

"Also I want all seven of them. For free," he added, gesturing to the ponies.

"What! Come on, man, do you have any idea how expensive these are going to be to mass-produce?" exclaimed Krieger.

Barry stared at him, the menacing red glow of his eyes brightening enough to be visible through his mask. Fluttershy paled at the display as Spike's jaw dropped.

Cyril leaned over to stage whisper to Krieger "It's not worth your life, is it?"

"No..." he admitted.

"Great!" said Pam. "Let's get your written up." She then waved Barry over to the table.

As he walked over, humming in satisfaction to himself, Applejack threw up her hooves. "Don't we get a say in this?"

"Not really, no," Rarity helpfully pointed out.

"Cooperation, remember?" added Pinkie as she dragged the pair of them together into a hug.

Archer cracked a smile at the display. "All of us have been through worse. Trust me, everything will work out."

It seemed like Archer had been right. For about three minutes. Because after that the cops showed up.

Naturally, they were all taken in for questioning, except for Barry, who had escaped with superhuman agility the moment he hear the sirens, and Cheryl, who had already left the building entirely courtesy of poor impulse control. The detective in charge quickly determined that Archer had been the culprit, because everyone told him as much. Including Archer himself. He was then placed in prison, awaiting trial, but was later released in under a week once the police dug into his background. Putting a 'clandestine' government operative such as Archer under oath was a terrible idea.

The next two days of the convention went on as before, sans Archer, obviously. Monkey business may be universally frowned upon, but the pony business was booming. One could even take their roaring success as evidence that MLP was addictive. The last time the ISIS crew had seen this much cash was when they had been literally selling cocaine, so that was a reasonable hypothesis to make.

As it wound to a close, the ponies talked amongst themselves, still processing how much love and support they'd gotten without knowing until now. Malory, Pam, Krieger, and Cyril counted their earnings, bouncing plans for their future endeavors back and forth. Lana, however, stared off into space. She couldn't help but feel like they were forgetting something important...

~ Meanwhile, many miles away ~

Outside a hospital, a man sat in a wheelchair, glaring angrily into the distance. The overcast sky and loitering elderly people perfectly captured his current mood.

"Dammit, where the hell is everyone?" exclaimed Ray.

Author's Note:

I probably could have stretched this out longer, but I didn't think I had it in me to write anything humorous enough to be worth the effort (at least, not compared to this final chapter). Especially since I can now move on to a different crossover I've been dying to write in some form for ages now. Fans of a certain popular anime villain should be most pleased by this next one.

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Comments ( 3 )

I had a feeling Barry was gonna be involved the moment that 'familiar voice' popped up.

Poor Ray. This was a definite 'roll credits' closer :rainbowlaugh:

"Thank you. And actually, the show has a surprisingly active fanbase in Russia," said Barry. "The same guys who built my body got me into it. They've been working on a Sweetie Bot in their spare time for a while."

Excellent reference.

"Her family's huge for a reason," quipped Rainbow. "And I'm gay, obviously."

Huge. And Rainbow Dash’s preference is a smart? One?

"Thank you. And actually, the show has a surprisingly active fanbase in Russia," said Barry. "The same guys who built my body got me into it. They've been working on a Sweetie Bot in their spare time for a while."

We’re doomed! Russia has an active unicorn cyborg!

But uh, good job on this story. I agree that the last chapter isn’t as more effortive as the others, but it’s still half-humorous to read.

As it wound to a close, the ponies talked amongst themselves, still processing how much love and support they'd gotten without knowing until now. Malory, Pam, Krieger, and Cyril counted their earnings, bouncing plans for their future endeavors back and forth. Lana, however, stared off into space. She couldn't help but feel like they were forgetting something important...

~ Meanwhile, many miles away ~

Outside a hospital, a man sat in a wheelchair, glaring angrily into the distance. The overcast sky and loitering elderly people perfectly captured his current mood.

"Dammit, where the hell is everyone?" exclaimed Ray.


Well, that largely went better than expected.

Also, since this chapter involved discharging a firearm, would that make it the... danger zone? :trollestia:

In any case, wonderfully insane crossover. Thank you for it.

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