• Published 3rd Sep 2012
  • 43,806 Views, 1,031 Comments

Tiberian Eclipse - Material Defender

Equestria is under threat from a crystal from beyond their world, one which earns them the attention of forces both benevolent and malevolent...

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Chapter 16: Obfuscation

“Okay, okay, that’s enough. Seriously,” Harold said, ushering the ponies towards the door as the staff helped wheel Luna and Pinkie’s cart out behind him. “Pinkie, we got you your party, now just sit back and relax while we get the both of you to some proper facilities now, okay?” Pinkie smiled and nodded, calming down and reclining into her pillow, but her eyes darted between each of her friends as her contagious smile spread to them.

Medical staff shuffled the beds out, with a contingent of guards to accompany them. Harold and Alexandra followed, keeping close to Celestia, Cadance, and Shining as the five congregated at the elevator with the first trip down occupied by Pinkie and Luna, along with their friends.

“So, this dragon we’ll be hunting,” Shining said. “Just how exactly do you intend to find it?”

“We use the data we got from the attack,” Alexandra said, arms folded as he stared at the blinking numbers above the elevator entranceway. “Ignoring the finer details, we’re going to use traces of the dragon’s residual signature, coupled with the signature of its jamming ability, to find where he’s hiding, and take him down.”

“A bold task,” Celestia said. “Dragons are no fools in this business. It’s probably expecting you.”

“Well, it hasn’t seen just exactly what we’re capable of bringing to the table, Princess,” Harold answered with a shrug. “Though I can imagine the interest garnered at home when they learn that we’ve killed a dragon, of all things. We’ve… ah, well, dragons had a reputation of being the deadliest of foes to fight against in our tales of myth.”

“Similar to the reputation they have here, maybe?” Cadance said. “Ancient, powerful, wise with the knowledge accumulated through the centuries? They might have been myth for you humans, but they’re all too real for us… and dangerous.”

“Dragons at home, and dragons here. That’s uncanny.”

“I’m not sure if your weapons will be capable of standing up against a dragon, and an ancient one at that,” Celestia said. “In the days of old, even my sister and I had great difficulty facing off against even one. Their entire species corrupted: that’s the greatest threat we’ve faced for millenia.”

“That’s no skin off our backs,” Alexandra said. “So long as our manpower holds and the shields remain operational, we can win this through attrition. Time permitting, that is, since our reinforcements haven’t arrived yet, but I’m not willing to sit around and play a reactionary game. We strike first, and force them to engage on our terms.”

“And if that doesn’t work?”

“The ion cannon can finish what we couldn’t. It’ll be messy, but if push comes to shove, it doesn’t hurt to apply some overkill. The cannon also has a low-visibility function that prevents the charging beam from reaching the ground—you’ve seen how our cannon works, and it’s a lot harder to judge an attack if you don’t see it coming.”

“It’s not a sight that I’ll forget soon,” Celestia said. “When the skies opened up and the light came through, it caused more than a stir among the citizens of the outer city. You mean to say that the beam’s appearance before the subsequent destruction is merely a formality?”

“No,” Alexandra replied. The elevator returned, and the group filed inside as the doors opened. “To put it simply: the cannon charges the air in the vicinity it targets, making it highly combustible. When the beams fires, an explosion results as it ignites the entire space, and is effective against most targets due to the fact that the ignitable substance is the air itself, allowing the cannon to bypass armor and even shields. That’s the cannon’s general use, though. What we’re going to use against the dragon is the cannon’s secondary mode, an instantaneous strike intended to be used against fast-moving targets with enough energy to pierce through even the toughest armor in the Scrin arsenal.”

“So the beam can simply strike from the sky at any moment, with no warning?” Shining said, giving a low whistle. “And here I thought you humans already had enough to bring to the table…”

“We’ve got plenty more, I assure you. Keeping lots of tricks up our sleeves is how we keep our stubborn winning streak.” Lieutenant Viers’ call request appeared on his holographic projector, the screen taking up the view of the doorway as Alexandra answered. The commando’s face raised a brow at him from behind his transparent faceplate when he appeared, filtered blue from the Mastodon’s internal lighting. “Dagger. How goes things at Providence?”

As well as can be, sir.” Viers looked around him, dialing in a whole suite of buttons and equipment around him as the sound of deep rumbling, step by step, sounded off around him through the hull of the assault walker. “The Mastodon is up and running, just giving her a test run around Providence before we send her out. EVA says we’re going in with air support. I hope the dragon won’t be too much for the flyboys.

“We’re going off of what we know so far, and we think that it’s just one dragon. According to our friends here, there’s an entire civilization of them here, living in the far north. We’ll have to deal with them eventually, and I’d rather see what they’re capable of doing now rather than later. They’re already aware of our presence and were behind the blackout at Greenwood a while back.”

Damn. With all due respect, sir, don’t you think it’d be better to wait for the backup?

“Still several days out, and the choice is biting me twice in the ass since my command’s support crawler is with them, so the Methuselah’s Firehawks are all we have. The dragon’s leading the forces that attacked us a while back, and there’s no telling when it’ll be back to do it again—and with more numbers. Providence and Greenwood are all we have so far. Providence is still under construction, and Greenwood has only barebones fortifications. OP Castle near Canterlot is the only anti-orbital defense emplacement we have, and we don’t have enough support craft in our fleet to bring down to help us here unless we want to leave the Methuselah wide open.”

I understand, sir. Bring the fight to them before they bring it to us, huh? Ain’t the worst odds we’ve had, at least.

“We’re not bringing the fight to anyone. We’re finding the thorn in our side and pulling it out before the damage gets worse. Stay in touch.” He looked at Harold, then slowly turned his gaze to the ponies with them. “Only Captain Shining will be with me on this mission. Princesses, I’m afraid you’ll have to return to Canterlot. Safety precautions, you understand.”

Cadance nodded. “It’s fine. Just… make sure my husband stays safe.”

“You have my word. The Mastodon has a plethora of defense systems, and we’ll be outfitting your husband with his own power suit before we head out. The first prototype for ponies, to be exact.” At this, Shining fidgeted around in his hooves, lips pursed as he shared a glance with Cadance. The alicorn merely sighed and rolled her eyes at the sight of her husband’s barely-restrained grin. “It’ll be rough around the edges, probably a bit unruly and hard to move in, but we want you to get used to it first. The feedback we receive on this first model will be helpful in streamlining the design.”

“Are you sure he has to go with you?” Harold asked. He held up his PDA, gesturing to the unicorn and the earpiece he wore. “We can just wire him through comms, and he can just guide you from the intel we have on the region so far. Unless…”

“Beyond this region, the ion storms are still in full effect. We can’t rely on comms in this scenario, and we need his know-how to record locations for future reference: former settlements, geographical landmarks, and the like, as well as giving a keener eye on places a dragon might hide. The mutants might also have something to add. I’ll bring one of them, too. Dagger, you think Trixie’s in the mood for a walk?”

I think she’d be more than interested in this walk. I’ll go ask and see if she wants in. Dagger, out.

“If things go how I’m thinking it’ll go, the dragon will end up finding you first…” Harold muttered.

“You will be going as well, Commander?” Celestia asked, raising a brow. The elevator opened, and they entered the lobby of the hospital. The halls were devoid of activity, at least from normal staff—guards were patrolling down every length, and the staff member that was taking pictures of them earlier was embroiled in a heated conversation with a pair of guards. The medical staff exited the facility, entering the barracks through the hall that Alexandra and company had entered through.

“I will,” he replied. He brought them to the conjoining access hall to the barracks, and stopped them there. “Without any visual feed, I’d be directing the Mastodon on audio alone, and that does not make for effective commanding. With me at the helm, I can see what we’re going into, what we’re going up against, and coordinate our strike force’s movements without playing it by ear.”

“I hope the odds are in your favor,” she said. “If you get caught in the crossfire, then it wouldn’t do your compatriot any good if he has two bodies to protect instead of just one.”

“Princess, I have as much, if not more, training as Lieutenant Viers. I’m not sure what the position of a commander entails in your military, but in ours, a commander is not just another rank. We’re the backbone of the ISDI’s forces, and a lot goes into our training to ensure we don’t end up unprepared in the worst case scenarios.”

“Hopefully it’ll be enough should this attempt of yours fail,” she said. Throwing her look at the couple hugging next to her, she draped a protective wing around Cadance. “Cadance, we will leave now. And Captain Armor, aid these humans to the best of your capacity.”

Shining saluted. “Yes, Princess.”

Celestia nodded, beginning down the hall where Applejack and Rainbow Dash stood waiting for them at a half-opened door. When they had left, Alexandra turned to Harold, and the young man shrunk under his gaze. “Well?” Alexandra asked.

“W-Well… what?” Harold asked.

“You’re with them, aren’t you?” Alexandra tossed a thumb at the still-waiting ponies. Harold’s eyes widened and he hugged his PDA close to his chest, giving Alexandra and Shining a parting nod before scurrying off. “Captain, you’re with me,” Alexandra said. “We’re taking a different route. The engineering bay is where we’re going to have you suit up.”

“No weapons for now, I guess?”

“If things go south as has been repeatedly mentioned, then we’re probably better off running.” He brought up his holographic command console, sending off orders and marking off locations around the vicinity of Greenwood, and then marking down checkpoints for their journey up north: entrenchments for Hampton and Michelin, and a trail for Viers.

“I don’t have much experience fighting a dragon, but I don’t think running will help much.”

Alexandra threw Shining a dry look. “The running isn’t from the dragon. With a thing that big, there’s not a chance in hell we’re just going to poke it and decide on what to do next. We’re going to run because we don’t want to be around when the ion cannon fires.”

“Twilight, have you been up all this time?” Wesley stood bewildered at the entrance to his office in the Canterlot hospital, where a wide-eyed Twilight sat in front of his table with a wall of holograms in front of her. In front of her sat his mug and the pot from his coffee maker, but entirely devoid of their contents. “Oh, did you—Twilight, did you just drink all of my coffee?!”

“It was good,” she replied, her voice a flat drone as she stared at the screens, brimming with information, without a single blink. “Not good lukewarm, but I like it. Want to make more with the machine. Not sure how to do it, don’t know how to turn it on. I’ll ask later. Sorry for drinking it all.” Her helmet sat on a pile of books next to the foot of her chair, and her native tongue echoed as Wesley’s PDA translated the speech for him.

“Twilight, I’m not angry that you drank all of it. It’s a foreign substance, it could have serious repercussions! There is a slight possibility that you might die, Twilight, and not even getting into that, why are you even here?!” He groaned and folded his arms, looking back at the open doorway. “Besides that, you’ve been up for the longest time now, and you need sleep! And where are the guards?”

“I’m fine,” she snapped. “I don’t need sleep. Guards are on shift change. The ones before left right before you got here—they recognized me, so they let me wait outside until you sent word you were coming up.”

“You’re blazing through all that information. Can you remember it?” He waved a hand in front of her face and received no reaction. “Goodness, Twilight, are you trying to become a walking repository of knowledge?”

“Maybe. Not a lot to read here, though the translation program on the computer is doing a fine job. Mostly stuff on ISDI, simple stuff. But there’s also some other things, too, like the publicly released research on Tiberium.” She tapped her hoof when a button prompt appeared and several pictures of Tiberium appeared next to her. “There were also mentions of Tiberium mutation. I want to read about that.”

“In due time, Twilight… thank goodness for access clearances,” he said. He looked between all the screens that sat before them, shaking his head at the rate the information sped by him. “You can read all of this, Twilight? Is there anything you don’t know?”

“In order: yes, and how to use that coffee machine.”

“Did you even bother to consider the implications of ingesting a foreign substance?”

“I looked at it in the database. Essential ingredients to this drink known as ‘coffee’ in the human tongue seems to be ground coffee beans, a hefty dose of hot water, and added sugars and creams to fit the taste of the drinker. We have all of these things, too. I took a globule of the drink, isolated it in a magical containment bubble, and then ran a battery of tests on it. It came up as benign to a pony, so I drank it. It also helps that we ponies have a drink that’s exactly like this. Had it in Manehattan once.”

“Give me that.” Wesley snatched the cup from her hooves, placing it on the table and sitting down behind his desk before he slumped into his chair with an exasperated sigh. “That’s my cup… and those are my notes.”

“Yes. All on this Tiberium, I see.” She raised a hoof and paused the scrolling on a single screen, transfixed on the picture in front of her. “This. The mutation. Humans have seen it, experienced it.” She swallowed and looked at him with drooping eyes. “And after so much effort, you found a way to treat the poisoning first and then managed to find a way to stabilize the effects of the mutations entirely. And then there’s the Divination process used by the Brotherhood…”

“That’s quite the jump back into our history. I suppose this means you’ve read up on the Brotherhood’s history, then?”

“Yes. It was a… very dark time for mankind, wasn’t it? Yet the research into Tiberium produced two paths: Kane and his Divination to bring mankind into the next step of their evolution, and the mutant leader Tratos who tried to stabilize the mutation in the hopes that no one else would die from it. And I guess we can tell which one won out.”

“Tratos was killed before his research on his anti-mutagen was completed, and even then, it didn’t work. It did, however, give us a strong foundation which we built upon and perfected,” Wesley said. A grainy picture appeared, hovering next to them with a green border. Tratos’ bodily features were obscured at a distance, but his mutations were still visible on his face. “From what the accounts say, he was an incredibly intelligent man. His knowledge on Tiberium and its effects on human biology was unparalleled due to his position.”

“And then there was the Daedalus Team,” Twilight said. “He was helping the, uh… I believe it’s pronounced Gee-Dee-Eye?”

“Yes, the GDI,” Wesley said. “That stood for the Global Defense Initiative, back when we were confined to our home planet of Earth.”

“Tratos helped the GDI translate an alien data matrix called the Tacitus, and from there, they learned how to contain Tiberium using harmonic resonance and helped save Earth from being decimated by the Tiberium within a year of that finding. It also was the basis behind translating the Scrin language and information on the first iterations of Scrin technology, among other things. It sounds like an incredible object to research. I hope I can study it one day.”

Wesley responded to her aspiration with a shake of his head, and Twilight raised a brow at him. “Unfortunately,” he said, “ISDI Central Command has deemed extraterrestrial access to the Tacitus to be completely off-limits, even to our current allies. In its modern state, anyway, it’s long since deteriorated from its workable condition. It’s a glorified paperweight now.”

Twilight’s face held an expression of utter heartbreak, as her mouth dropped and her eyes glazed over with the traces of tears. Wesley’s only comfort to her was a sad smile. “I was hoping to at least have the chance to see what it looks like…”

“Not any time soon, I’m afraid,” he said with a shrug. “Aside from the anti-mutagen, the other biggest breakthrough from the Tacitus was indeed the introduction of harmonic resonance technology. It was originally used solely as an offensive weapon during the Second Tiberium War, when we didn’t know of the benefits it held against Tiberium. Following research gleaned from the Tacitus at the end of that war, however, stemmed the flow of Tiberium and saved us from extinction.”

“And you even used the technology to successfully convert a Tiberium-affected Yellow Zone back into a safe Blue Zone,” she said, nodding as a purple glow filled the room. A book and quill levitated off of the floor next to her seat, and she scribbled away with abandon. “That was the city of Munich, located in the Earth country of Germany in the Europe continent, and where—”

“The Scrin invaded us, yes. Just one of many places,” Wesley said. He looked into the cup and turned it upside-down and emptying out the droplets of coffee into a trash bin before putting it on the corner table behind him. “Sonic technology became weaponized, but was put on the sidelines during the Ascension Conflict. New technologies, like advanced starship engines, projected barrier shields, and a resurgence in beam weapon research ensured its relegation to sideline research, until we ran into the Scrin again when we expanded to the stars.” He reached across the desk and gathered all the displays up and did away with them all with a single swipe.

Twilight’s expression flashed for a brief moment with a hint of annoyance as he took the coffee pot away, but the fatigue fended off her discontent. “So interesting. I would have never thought about using sonic devices to try to repel the Tiberium. I don’t know of any case where ponies use anything like that in daily life. The closest thing I can think of would be Rainbow Dash and her sonic rainboom, but that’s about it, and certainly not a daily thing.” She laid her head down on the tabletop, her mane splayed across the cluttered top, and Wesley made a move to shift his ashtray away.

“Well, it has a very specific application, and—” Wesley stopped, mouth open as he tilted his head at her. “A… sonic rainboom?”

Twilight nodded. “Yes. It produces a prismatic explosion that can be seen for miles around. Rainbow herself also travels faster than the speed of sound, and visibly turns into a rainbow blur during the period. In such a state, she’s the fastest known living being in all of Equestria.”

“Interesting…” he said, nodding slowly as he looked into the lights above his table. “And you said that the explosion can be seen for miles… I estimate that puts good distance on the range of the sonic boom. And she is capable of producing this effect at will?”

“Yes. Any time she wants, though determination does play a huge factor in spurring the sonic rainboom to appear. I think Dash is over the worries of that, though. She performed it a couple of times already in the years leading up to the Tiberium landing on our world.” The scratching stopped as she held her quill in midair. “You aren’t thinking of using that to fight the Scrin… are you?”

“It’s a possibility, with permission given from your friend, of course. Further research is needed,” he said. He tilted his chin up and his countenance disappeared when a guard appeared at the doorway and gave a short knock on the wood with his knuckles. “Ah, the shift change. Yes, sergeant?”

“I’ve got something here, sir.” The guard reached into one of his rear pouches and withdrew a plain white envelope, holding it out for him to see. “It’s a letter.”

“Well… that’s strange. I don’t recall expecting any letters at all, actually. I thought we did everything through EVA now.”

“Well, sir,” the guard said, turning and extending the letter to Twilight. “It’s for her.”

The guard nearly jumped when a purple glow wrapped around the letter and pulled it from his grasp. Twilight brought it before her, setting down her book and quill on the table, looking at its unsealed back and then at the front, nearly dropping it as she saw the name. “Oh, my gosh!” she said, unfurling the envelope and pulling out the letter within.

“What is it?” Wesley asked. He shuffled closer on his chair, balancing his head his hand as he watched her skim over the contents. “I expect you’ve not received many letters in recent times?”

“No, it’s not that, it’s… it’s from Trixie!” A hoof reached up and touched her cheek as her bewilderment was shared by Wesley and the guard at the door. “And she wants me to help her with something!” A stream of mumbling followed as the letter grew closer and closer to her face, until by the end, she was an eyelash’s length away from the parchment. Then, she folded the paper four times, and neatly stuffed it away in the neckguard of her suit. “She proposes an alliance between Equestria and her… er, tribe.”

“Ah, those mutants,” Wesley said. “Lieutenant Viers made contact with them when we were scouting out locations to build Providence. We offered them our unanimous support, though, so it is a bit strange to see their leader reaching out to you, in particular, for aid.”

“She says that she wishes to see me as soon as possible, and I don’t intend to keep her waiting. Want to come along? The letter said that the mutants were all being relocated to Providence.”

“I’d love to, Twilight, but I already have my duties to attend to here at the hospital,” he said, gesturing to the pile of reports sitting in a tray marked ‘in’ at the corner of his desk. “And there are still many patients to attend to. In fact, I’m set on making a journey to the Canterlot sanctum soon to treat the less able there.”

“I understand.” Twilight hopped off of her seat, donning her helmet as the guard at the door stood aside. “Well, if you ever want to come join us, you’re free to. Trixie is probably still wary about cooperating with the ISDI, but I’ll see if I can’t convince her to at least accept your help along with mine.”

“That would be much appreciated, Twilight.” Wesley withdrew a new coffee mug and pot from a cardboard box on the table to his right, and then set them up in the machine as she watched. “And for future reference, dear…” He reached up to the machine’s side, a sleek surface of glossy black, and flipped open a panel that revealed a number of buttons. The first was keyed and the machine began to thrum with activity. “That’s how the coffee machine works.”

Ponies gasped as the Mastodon came to a stop, dropping their bags and belongings on the ground, much to the irritation of Trixie. From the refugee camp extended a long line, all mutants, with Otis rearing his bag-saddled form to let out a yawn in the distance. The first of the housing units near the camp’s entrance stood inhabited, with their lights on as the bulbous shapes of heads stared out the window at the machine.

“What are you all doing? I… oh, my.” Trixie tilted her hat back, arching her neck to stare at the underbelly of the Mastodon. “Of all the things you humans have in your arsenal, a giant… thing akin to an enormous metal pony was not what I had in mind.” The crowd gathered behind her murmured their agreements, until the approaching Viers grew near and they stopped their conversations to stare at him.

“You could say that it’s a… well, it’s called a Mastodon, and I guess that’s all you really need to know,” Viers said. The hulking Mastodon stood outside of Providence’s main gates, idling as its pilot strode forth through the closing gates.

“What are those giant metal rods on the side?” asked a member of the crowd.

“Those are guns.”

“The largest ones we’ve seen yet,” Trixie said. “I cannot imagine the sort of situation that would demand a weapon of such sizes. How long has the design of that metal monstrosity been around? It’s twice as large as Otis!”

“It’s a very old design,” Viers said, turning to look up at the machine himself. “Older than me, actually, and practically every human on this world. This is just the latest version, and it was originally designed to give an edge in any engagement, back when humans still fought each other over Tiberium on our homeworld. The war’s changed, though. Machines like this are par for the course in any planetary conflict.”

“And did you have a particular reason for creating such a war machine?” she asked. She turned to Viers, catching the sight of a weathered and unkempt unicorn gazing back at her on the ghostly green glass. “Never mind, what with the other aliens just falling out of the sky now. I suppose you’ve finally come to ask for my aid?”

“That’s correct.” Viers’ torso bobbed down, a shadow of a nod as he walked up to her. This close, Trixie gulped and stepped back a hoof as his apparent size was made clear, and a chill shook her body as her coat stood on end. “Okay…” Viers stopped just short of her, holding up his hands as he observed her expression. “Am I… scaring you?”

“Your size does not sit well with me, Lieutenant,” she replied. “Though I know better, I subconsciously still believe that you will end up crushing me in the case that you come too close. Tall, heavy, and made of metal—not a thing I’m rather used to, I’m afraid.”

“Sorry, I’ll keep my distance. Unless—” He kneeled down, left knee forward and with a metal hand perched upon the kneecap, chest bent low to match her eye level. His faceplate cleared and his curious expression, soft but concerned, lessened his fearful appearance. “—this will do better?”

“Ah, yes, that will do,” she said, stopping to clear her throat. “Very well. What is it that you require my aid for?” She looked over her shoulder, watching the growing crowd arriving from the distant refugee encampment with calculating eyes. “We’ve still much work to do in settling down in Providence, Lieutenant, and your arrival with this work of wonder is doing no favors for productivity.”

“Commander Alexandra has learned of the presence of a dragon in the region.”

Trixie blinked, and Viers stood stock-still as the air hung heavy with dread as she stood slack-jawed. “A… dragon?” were the words that broke the silence.

Viers nodded, visibly now with his head in view. “We figure you might have a greater knowledge of the land, better than our other advisor on the issue, a pony by the name of Shining Armor. You might know him—he’s Twilight Sparkle’s brother.”

“Yes, I know of him,” she snapped, in a tone wrought with anger. She caught herself, and blushed a deep red, staring down at the ground with an ashamed frown. “I apologize. The matter of this dragon does not allow Trix—me to act… sensibly. But if you require my help, then I will offer it. The old tribe leaders, myself included, did launch many an expedition north in hopes of finding new lands to build our own city. You know of the results.”

“So that’s what the scouting party was for… Well, our objective in this case is very much clear.” He stood, smiling at her, and pointed at the Mastodon. “As it is, our overarching objective is but one thing: to kill that dragon. Our secondary concerns are scouting out the northern lands and determining whether or not there are more of them hanging about.”

“Say no more. I accept.”

“Great. I’m sure you’ll be more than pleased to see those guns in action, especially against something as supposedly unkillable as a dragon,” he said. “Those things have a proven—”

He was cut off as an unfamiliar sound, close to a soft poof, aired behind them, and then the newest arrival announced her greeting. Viers reached for the cannon holstered on his back and already had it trained on the pony before the glow disappeared from her form, only to slacken his stance and lower the weapon as he recognized her.

“Hello?” Twilight asked, and her voice echoed through her helmet’s voice filter. She stood facing away, looking about the empty walls in front of her until she caught sight of the Mastodon, where she then stopped to gawk.

“Goddamn,” Viers said. “You ponies and your teleportation…”

Trixie gasped. “Is… is that Twilight? Twilight Sparkle?”

“Huh?” She turned to meet eyes with Trixie, and then galloped forward. “Trixie! I got your letter!” Viers stepped aside as she came to a halt, and then looked up at the human. “Oh, hello, Lieutenant Viers. How nice to meet you here. Did you come to talk to Trixie, too?”

“I was,” he said, then looked at Trixie. “Something else going on?”

“I sent a letter to Twilight before we began to relocate,” Trixie said. “I believe it has been far too long since we have interacted with our fellow ponies, and…” She sighed, smiling at Twilight. “It’s good to see a familiar face.”

“It’s good to see you, too,” Twilight said. Then she closed the distance between their faces, bumping into Trixie’s nose. “Oops! Sorry… I was just curious about the… do you have Tiberium growing on your face?”

“A side effect of the mutation,” she said. “And as if you’re one to talk about a change in appearance. You’re wearing more armor than a royal guard does!”

“Safety precaution,” she said, then pointed a hoof at her horn protruding through a hole in the helmet. “Well, except for that. Kind of need that, but otherwise, I can walk around Tiberium perfectly fine. I just have to avoid touching it with my horn, but enough of that. You want to propose an alliance with Equestria, and I’m here to let you know that it’s definitely on the table.”

“Really?” What began as a disbelieving chuckle gave way to grateful laughter as she rested upon her haunches. “Oh, thank Celestia… and thank you, Twilight. For the longest time, I thought that we would never be able to see our kind again, and to be doomed to exile in these lands. And…” She gulped, ensuring that none of her tribe was within earshot before she continued. “...and you wouldn’t believe how much of a drain it is on morale knowing that we willingly chose to stray from Celestia’s light.”

“You had your reasons,” Twilight said. “The problem with the ponies afflicted with the crystal was just another one of many problems we had ruling over what was left of us. But it’s all better now.” She put a hoof on Trixie’s shoulder. “You can come back. We have medical facilities, food, and with the help of the humans, better living spaces soon.”

“Well, we beat you to the punch on that,” Trixie said, chuckling as she nodded towards Providence. The tip of her hat flopped over and she caught it with a swift hoof before it fell off. “I’ll have you know, they have very fine accommodations.”

“Ladies, I’m sure you both have a lot of catching up to do, but we have a mission to complete,” he said, shaking his head. “You can gossip all you want later, but Trixie and I need to hightail it out of here soon and I’m not one to keep Commander Alexandra waiting. Every moment that passes is another moment the enemy has a chance to prepare.”

“Oh, you’re going somewhere?” Twilight asked. “Might I ask what you’re doing?”

“We’re going to hunt a dragon,” he said. “Our first serious operation since we’ve landed, and Trixie here has offered to be a guide for us, alongside Captain Shining Armor. We expect a serious fight—as if going up against a dragon means anything less—and we hope to remove its presence from the region before it becomes a major threat.”

“A dragon? Which way are you headed?”


Twilight stared at him, and then spoke icily. “Let me go with you.”

“I know Wesley says you’re okay, and I respect his opinion, but this mission is too dangerous to have you along. Your brother has a suit that’s better suited to the extreme conditions that we’ll be traveling through, and if things go badly, then we’ll be without that walker’s protection and caught out in the open.”

“If my brother is on this mission with you, then that only makes it doubly more important that I go. There’s a lot of questions that I want answered, and the dragons hold the answers to them.”

“Miss, we’re going to kill the thing, not have a chat with it.”

“Then I want to see what it looks like. I haven’t been north for a long time. Maybe I might be of help, too, if you’re scouting out the area—I have encyclopedic knowledge about Equestria’s northern territories. And it won’t be dangerous for me, I can assure you. If it doesn’t work out, I have more than enough magic to make my way back to Canterlot before night falls.”

“I can vouch for her talent,” Trixie said. “She is not a unicorn to be trifled with.”

“I’m not sure if—”

“I’m going. And that’s final.”

“How about no, and maybe you can have Trixie tell you what happens after she gets back. The last thing we need is for both you and Shining to end up getting killed, and that would be a huge blow to both your mentor and your brother’s wife. Not to mention that I would be dead, Commander Alexandra would be dead, and Trixie would be dead. That leaves everyone else in a pretty crappy spot, now doesn’t it?”

“You are Princess Celestia’s personal student,” Trixie said. “It would be a great blow to her and Princess Luna to lose you. Perhaps you should consider his advice and stay.”

“If the chances of failure are so high, then why would you commit to a military action like this?” Twilight asked. “I’m sure Commander Alexandra has something up his sleeve, and I’m sure we’ll be safe in that—” She pointed a hoof aside at the Mastodon. “—thing. Your possible deaths are also in question, as I haven’t seen any humans fight yet. But you fought off mutated wildlife, up to and including an Ursa Major in a situation where close contact would result in immediate and painful dismemberment!”

“You’re chancing a what-if here,” Viers said. “Just because we have the possibility of not dying doesn’t mean that it’s a surefire outcome that we’ll come out of this on top. Where we come from, we have a saying: no plan survives first contact with the enemy. That means that we are fully expecting everything to go wrong, and trust me, you don’t want to be there when it does. Between me and the commander, we can ensure the safety of two VIPs: one for each of us, but with you thrown into the mix, we’re going to have to juggle, and if we all get separated, having a third VIP to follow after instead of just grabbing the two and running will end up with all of us in some very hot water.”

“Twilight, we don’t want you to get hurt. You can understand that, can’t you?” Trixie asked. “And for me, this is personal. Before I came to accept my position, there used to be more ponies like me—leaders of the tribe. The dragons… changed all of that. I have to see this through, Twilight. Anything I can offer might be what tilts the odds in our favor.”

“This is personal for me, too, Trixie,” Twilight responded with gritted teeth. “The dragons are what caused all of this. They’re working with the enemy, they practically destroyed the Crystal Empire… and they took Spike away from me.” She stilled her breathing, and then repeated, “Let me go with you.”

Viers’ shoulders heaved with an annoyed shrug and he shook his head. “If we let everyone with a vendetta join in on this one, we’re going to have to bring the whole damn nation along. We’re burning daylight here, and the answer still stands: no. Trixie, if you’ve got anything you need to bring, grab it and meet me at the Mastodon.”

Trixie nodded, returning Twilight’s gesture, placing a hoof on her shoulder. “I’m sorry,” she said, before speeding off for the refugee camp. Twilight sat down, dejected but staring at Viers with pleading eyes.

“I don’t know who this ‘Spike’ is, Miss Sparkle,” he said, walking away. “But I’m sure you’d do him justice by staying alive instead of risking your life trying to get even. That’s what men like me are here for.”

“Then take me along as an advisor. I know everything there is to know about dragons,” she said. At that, Viers stopped, and slowly turned to face her. His boots thumped on the ground as her mouth hung open, and she continued. “Inside and out, I know everything about them. I’m a bookworm, you know, a rather dedicated one at that. There isn’t a book in all of Equestria that I haven’t read, and I’ve read all the works there are pertaining to dragons.” Her lips thinned into a stiff line as she stood, holding her chin high, and a small smile crossed her lips when he turned back to look at her.

“...I’ll have to talk with the commander on that one.” His faceplate fogged over again and he turned to obscure his front from her. His form bobbed with the signs of a conversation, and in sparse minutes, he returned to her. His faceplate cleared in time to show him scoffing. “You’re lucky this time. No one else has the knowledge you have. Commander Alexandra wants you to come along.”

“Good,” she said. “And I would like to thank—”

“But you’re not coming alone. We’re bringing along someone to keep an eye on you… on his orders.” Twilight heard the staccato thundering of boots approaching her direction, and then she found herself picked up and hugging the side of a zone trooper. Their armors clunked against each other as their forms collided, and she found herself hanging half the trooper’s height off the ground. “That was quick, a whole minute faster than I expected, Yankee.”

Yankee Lead laughed. “We don’t spend all of that time in basic twiddling our thumbs, sir. So, we keep an eye on this one. What’s the occasion?”

“You know I can just teleport out of your grip,” she said.

“But you won’t,” Viers said. “Because if you don’t play along, we’ll have you off of this mission faster than you can say ‘oops’.”

“Even when we’re going to be out in the wild?”

“I’ll have Yankee drag you back by foot to Canterlot if need be. You’d be surprised at how fast a zone trooper can cover ground. And if you want to stay alive out in the wild, Miss Twilight, you’d best follow my orders. Last I checked, you don’t have the clearance to operate firearms, and I’m sure your magic isn’t up to snuff when it comes to tearing angry mutant creatures a new one.”

Twilight groaned. “Okay, fine. Just let me sit next to my brother, okay?”

Mister Masterson, please wake up.

“But I don’t want to pick from three colors for my ending…”

Noncompliance detected. As per your preprogrammed protocol, I will apply a minor electric shock to an extremity of the body if you do not abide. Mister Masterson, please wake up.

“...Q for spot, idiot…”

The warning has been given. Shock will be applied in three… two… one…

“Hmm, I—yeowch!” Masterson jolted upright on his couch, looking around the room to see a metal appendage with a small apparatus at its end that beeped with a pinprick of electricity before it withdrew back into the body of the drone it was attached to. The drone beeped and then wheeled off to continue its maintenance duties, leaving Masterson sitting at the couch to nurse the sore on the back of his hand. “I was taking a nap…”

Correction, Mister Masterson: you were taking a nap.

“Oh, haha. We don’t even have you programmed for sarcasm but you still find ways to make it work. Fine,” Masterson said. His small living space, marked with a sizeable red tarp in the corner of EVA’s core room, was littered with various defunct appliances, books and comics, and memorabilia of pop culture. Kicking away the Nick Parker war novels strewn on the ground on the rug’s edge, he made his way back to the master computer and sat down with a groan. “I didn’t even sleep for an hour…”

Commander Alexandra has requested that you finish your work on the triangulation routine for the dragon’s signature as soon as possible,” EVA said. “A Mastodon, as per orders, has already been constructed and is en-route to Camp Greenwood to bring the commander and his pony guides onboard.

“Ugh, I thought he’d get to it tomorrow. It’s about to hit early evening, and while I can get the thing working by tomorrow, he wants it within the hour? I am so glad the pay is worth this.” He sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Who’s hitching with him?” he asked, reaching for the mug in front of him and frowning at the lack of coffee within.

Captain Shining Armor of the Equestrian Royal Guard and the mutant tribe leader known as Trixie.” EVA brought up a chart detailing the level of energies detected during the course of the event, and another screen detailing similarities between the dragon’s energy and those that emanated from the crystal. “In addition, I have conducted a number of tests to ascertain the exact nature of the energy. The energy from the dragon and the crystal share a ninety-two percent similarity, with the remaining eight percent output differences. External variables include bleeding effect, intensity of output, and energy field localization.

“The crystal is safe for the moment, unless the dragon can alter the energy to work around our sonic containment frequencies, in which case, we have bigger things to worry about. Is there any variability in the dragon’s energy?”

No such alternations were present in the scans, although whether or not the dragon itself holds the ability to manipulate its energy is unknown. Upon further observation, the dragon’s energy signature is equivalent to that of a Scrin power plant reactor, which, in addition to mutations, may indicate a shift in biological energy storage and have altered the dragon’s capabilities from what it was originally suited for.

“Well, they had magic, and now there’s Tiberium thrown into the mix. Given how we’ve seen Scrin here already, it makes me wonder if the dragons were forced into evolving to cope with a Tiberium biology introduced by their new masters.”

While Tiberium mutation happens spontaneously within species upon incursion of a given world, the Scrin finding an advantage in directly affecting the mutation of a specifically powerful species like dragons would come as a change in standard Tiberium seeding doctrine. Given how Scrin harvesting techniques have not deviated beyond what the ISDI has learned from the Tacitus and recovered databanks from Scrin ships, CENTCOM should be notified immediately.

“Good idea, EVA. You’ve got the clearance when it comes to sending this information up the chain. Make sure Commander Alexandra learns about what we’ve found, and as per protocol, send it to General Hallman, just to be sure.” As EVA tabulated the information for him in preparation for their send-off, he brought up the incomplete triangulation routine, scanning over the code he had thus far. “Well, if the dragon’s broadcasting a signature similar to Scrin power plants, then it would be easy to just apply our current scan parameters to it.”

As he retooled the the older code, a transmission interrupted his thought process. Fingers still blazing away at his keyboard, he gave the name a glance before nodding aside, and EVA brought up the screen for him. “Masterson,” Alexandra said, helmet off as the shuffling of trio of ponies over his shoulders caught his attention, and he shooed them away. “I hear you’ve got something for me.

“That I do, Marty,” Masterson said. “Did you read the info-dump I sent you?”

Considering that I only received it one minute ago, no.” Alexandra frowned, and pointed off-screen. “There. Shining, Trixie, Twilight, what do you see here? We’re north of Canterlot, right here where these three hills meet. Looks like there used to be a road here.

Well, you’re right: there used to be a road here,” Shining said. “But if I’m guessing correctly, this is the one that leads straight north, with a branch that hangs a turn for the northeast. Continuing along the north road will take us to Stalliongrad, where the Tiberium first fell, and going the other way takes us to Manehattan and Baltimare.

He’s correct,” Trixie said. “I traveled these roads often during my time as an entertainer. There are a few towns along the north road that we should keep an eye out for. I’ve spent more than a few times at their inns, and if they’re still around, I can gauge the distance.

We don’t know the full extent of the seismic activity in this region, though,” Twilight said. “For all we know, the quaking could have moved entire roads away, and the tunneling caused by the wildlife might have submerged them entirely.

It’s mostly forest along those old routes, though,” Shining said. “Not really somewhere that a dragon could hide, but definitely somewhere that the mutated creatures can make their nests. Going off what Twilight told me, you encountered a large group of them hidden away underneath Ponyville with a gigantic shard of purple Tiberium underneath. There’s no telling how many more caves like that are around here.

And with the quakes that shook up the entire region, it wouldn’t have been hard for them to find new places to hide in,” Twilight added. “They might not even travel by the surface anymore, instead choosing to use tunnels, but the weight of this walker must be incredible. Seeing as we haven’t fallen into any tunnels yet, they must either not have the network I assume they have, or they’re buried deep beneath the earth. In any case, I suppose having a giant metal pony that we’re all sitting in really helps when it comes to walking across this nightmare of a landscape.

I know, this thing is enormous. Except I can see the problem here being that it can’t really look up,” Trixie said.

It doesn’t have to.” Viers’ voice was seeded with amusement, a faded laugh following as he sat in a chair distant from Alexandra’s. “The only things that need to point up are the guns, and they damn well certainly can. I hope the dragon isn’t naive enough to think that we’re an easy kill just because this Mastodon doesn’t have a neck.

“Uh, Marty?” Masterson waved at the camera. “Yeah, sorry to break your little conversation there, but I’m almost done with the triangulation routine. EVA says that the dragon itself has a signature same to that of a Scrin power plant reactor, which should make finding that sucker a cakewalk.”

A reactor?” Alexandra folded his arms, and looked over the screen. With his right hand, he dragged it across the camera and brought up his command console, a transparent overlay that hung in front of the screen. “Dagger, keep those sensors up, just in case we’re having the wool pulled over our eyes and the Scrin have something in store for us.

I’m not seeing any hexapods nearby, so I think we’re fine for the time being, sir,” Viers said, chuckling at the notion. “No motherships, Devastator warships, or planetary assault carriers, either.

We don’t know if we’re dealing with the Annihilator cult here, Lieutenant,” Alexandra said. “But we resort to experience on this one: you give an inch, and they will take the whole damn road. Expand the sensor radius, and redirect some power to the subterranean detection suites. The dragons might have given them some fresh ideas.

Yes, sir, on it.

Alexandra zoomed out of his command view, switching over to tab selection for his military units as the visual feed remained unusable. He opened a tab and ran his hand down the five groups that appeared. “Command to Falcon, do you copy?

This is Methuselah Wing, Falcon Squadron. We read you loud and clear, Command. We are maintaining holding pattern above OP Castle, ready to divert and engage when needed.” Alexandra selected each of the golden triangles, ordering all five of the five-fighter flights into a straight line advancing northwards to meet their advance. “Copy, Command, on our way. Accelerating to sound barrier... now.

Those little arrows can accelerate to the sound barrier?” Twilight asked. The blips followed the Mastodon’s trail at a blistering pace, with a timer set over their icons estimating a mere three minutes before they caught up. “Doctor Wesley said something about the ISDI weaponizing sonic technology against Tiberium. Is that what they’re doing here?

Not the case here,” Alexandra said. “The reasons are apparent once you apply them: first, they need to be extremely powerful sonic soundwaves just to stop the Tiberium from growing, much less destroying it, and second being that it needs to be focused. The aircraft that are joining us here don’t have Tiberium-stemming functionality themselves, but they do carry weapons able to track Tiberium-based targets, to be used on the dragon.

“EVA, make backups and redistribute the tracker across all of our systems. Make sure the Methuselah gets them,” Masterson said. The flurry of fingers upon his keyboard stopped, and he turned to bring up the local map on another screen. “Weather coverage looks a lot better down at Greenwood. EVA, how’s the north?”

Weather coverage remains at heavy cloud cover. Interference levels in this region remains at an all-time high. Mastodon communication clarity remains at thirty-two percent, dropping as the unit proceeds northward—transmission quality remains intact. Deployment of communications relay from Methuselah’s pod bays is recommended.

“Negative, EVA, no podding here. Maybe we can use the ion cannon to break the cloud cover for a bit.” Masterson’s computer chirped, and he turned to see the filled loading bar. Clapping his hands together in success, he looked back at Alexandra with a smile. “And there we go. Tracker’s being uploaded to every ISDI detection suite we’ve got in this sector.”

Wait, you have a way to find dragons in this endless waste?” Trixie let out a thankful sigh. “Thank Celestia. And here I was thinking we were going to comb the entire stretch from here to Baltimare to find it.

Still don’t see any dragon,” he heard Viers say. “And isn’t using the ion cannon to clear the clouds a bit overkill?

It is, and I don’t want the dragon to know about the cannon. Not until we can get it in a vulnerable position where we can put it down with one shot. That is, of course, hoping that everything plays out as planned,” Alexandra said. “We’ll have to run with the cloud cover as it is. The dragon might be using it to hide, but that’s a chance that we’ll have to take. The Methuselah’s atmospheric sensors will detect it if it tries to fly too high to avoid our detection.

The lead arrow in the Firehawk formation blinked yellow as the formation flew over the Mastodon. A cluster of red icons appeared at the periphery of their detection range, flashing bright red before fading back into the landscape. “Command, this is Falcon One-One. I’m getting some strange readings on my sensors. Crescent, Diamond, Harpy, and Spear squadrons to follow, but if the Scrin are getting the jump on us here, we need to hit first or we’ll be goners. The rest of Methuselah Wing will follow after.

Are you serious? You’re deploying all of the Methuselah’s Firehawks for this?” Viers asked.

Not all five hundred of them, just a quarter of that,” Alexandra replied. “Falcon, this is Command. Stand ready to break and engage hostiles, but remain ready to divert priorities if the target is among them. We don’t know if it can fake a signature, so play it safe.

Roger, Command, Falcon on stand-by.” The five arrows diverted, with two on each of the Mastodon’s flanks with the last spearheading their advance.

Clicking his tongue, Masterson watched the map grid as the hologram began to waver, and he looked to Alexandra to find the screen fuzzing with interference. “Well, Henry, looks like this is going to be it for now.” Alexandra’s voice was marred with pops and hiss of static.

Masterson laughed, and looked at the map. “That’s right: for now. Imagine the morale boost we’d get if we manage to down one of those things—and the response we’d get back home. Hell, you’ve got over a hundred Firehawks with you on this. Why not just deploy all five hundred?”

There’s—point when—numbers become—ineffective,” said Alexandra, whose form was no longer visible through the tearing on the screen. “Damn—can’t talk. Got to—xandra, out.

Warning: Mastodon transmission clarity now at seven percent,” EVA said, just as Alexandra killed the feed and left Masterson in the dark. “The remainder of Commander Alexandra’s requested Firehawk contingent is now en-route to his location. Sensor information from the Mastodon remains at twelve percent.

“Godspeed on their hunt,” Masterson said. Turning his attention back to the windows of data idling, he brought up the data gathered on the dragon again. EVA’s extrapolations from their short conversations provided him with models of how they assumed the dragon’s biology functioned when melded with Tiberium. “With a dragon as powerful as that, it should be absolutely huge. How the hell it can make its way around without being seen or heard for miles is beyond me…”

Alert: unknown enemy signatures detected.” The map was beyond conveying anything useful except for the Mastodon’s location, but the positions of the Firehawks around it were updated in sporadic bursts. The five original arrows were joined by others, increasing to ten, twenty, and more. “Alert: unknown enemy signatures detected.

“What the—” The flashes alternated, and as the Firehawks increased in number, they fanned out further. Not a single enemy signature was found. “EVA, do you still have a line open to the Mastodon’s systems?”

Affirmative. Uplink from the Mastodon is at three percent clarity. Transmissions are ruled out, but data transmission remains intact,” EVA said, but Masterson paid only the gist of her statement any attention. Flicking his wrist past screen after screen, he ripped lines from walls of code, slapping them all together as his eyes remained unblinking in the seamless act.

“Stupid me,” he muttered. “Always forgetting to add in the important stuff. EVA! Double-check this for me, ASAP.” He pushed the screen away, watching as EVA took control of the window and began to parse through his data. Folding his arms, he reclined into his chair and stared at the map as the signatures continued to show nothing but ISDI presence. “Come on, EVA, any day now…”

Code runthrough complete,” EVA said. “Commence upload?

“Do it,” he said. “How long will it take?”

Upload commencing. ETA: nine minutes.

“Better now than nothing,” he said. He grabbed the window, duplicated it with a drag of his hand and updated the map system with the new code. With a tap, the window was closed, and he sat back and watched the map return its pings with the new data. The first brought nothing, then the second repeated, then the third returned empty. “Come on…”

Then the beep rang true to his ears, and he smiled with smug satisfaction. “Goddamn, Marty, sometimes I wonder what you’d do without me and my magic fingers.” The smile soon disappeared as the beeps ceased, only to return with a piercing drone; the map began to fill with red signatures. First tens, then dozens as the Mastodon and its escorts approached a wall of opposition, with the crowning king of them all the massive red blip that flew over the Mastodon itself. “Son of a bitch.”

Enemy forces detected. Force projection estimates that the enemy will have double the ISDI attack force numbers in less than three minutes at continued reinforcement.” Masterson gritted his teeth, and he watched the space north of the Mastodon drowned in a sea of red. “Immediate reinforcement is recommended.

“Yeah, let’s get Hampton and Michelin on the line, see if we can’t—”

Attention: the rest of Methuselah’s Firehawk wing has launched. According to their launch vectors and movement commands given by Commander Alexandra, they are on an intercept course to enter due west of the Mastodon’s last known position.

“Why would he… oh.” Masterson clapped his hands and sat back. Hundreds of signatures descended from the Methuselah and began to break into the atmosphere, towards a flickering command triangle where the Mastodon was. “That’s Marty, alright. Lure the enemy out in a Mastodon with an escort of a hundred and twenty-five fighters, and then blow them all up when the other three hundred and seventy-five arrive to back him up.”

Should Commanders Hampton and Michelin be notified in case of emergency?

“I don’t want to take any chances, so I say go ahead. If anything, they’ll be amused at Marty’s definition of aerial superiority.” Sighing, he stood and made for his living spaces with a yawn. “EVA, I’m going to catch up on my beauty sleep now. Wake me up in…” He looked down at his wristwatch as he stepped over his possessions and settled down onto a couch. “...well, whenever something big happens. I expect that to be ten minutes, give or take a few. Let’s just hope Marty knows what he’s doing…”

Author's Note:

Thanks to Brother Malachai and sadron for helping me with this chapter.

Unfortunately, due to real life circumstances, chapter 17 is not finished, and will not be seeing a timely release after this chapter.

Comments ( 99 )

At least it's something, athough that end note is saddening. Not a timely release, huh?

Shit has hit the fan.

FIVE HUNDRED Firehawks?? That's enough to annihilate the entire Scrin mining fleet back on Earth! Shit, this is gonna be good. The Scrin are in for one hell of a surprise. And the ISDI haven't even deployed their Ion Cannon yet!

Loved this chapter. But I hope we get to see what happened to Spike, soon... the poor kid.

This chapter is good, but it is, in my opinion, ten thousand words of build up, and nothing more.
Relatively enjoyable build up, but still with the time between chapters, it just feels off.
Perhaps the chapters would flow together if read consecutively, but eh, this is fanfiction.

4525052 You're correct that this chapter is completely build-up. It's something I touched off on, as it used to be a part of chapter 16. As I wrote it, it ended up becoming it's own chapter, with chapter 17 to be the actual action, but that's been waylaid by busy work in real life, hence the mention that the next chapter won't be available in short order.

This chapter has actually been sitting in my queue for a couple of weeks now, but I figured with my delay on the next chapter, it'd be better to give readers something to read than nothing.


Real Life be puttin us down man!
We gotta fight the power!

By locking ourselves away and living through the internet.:trollestia:

But yeah, life takes precedence, obviously, and something is better than nothing.
Like I said, when the story is done, and one reads the chapters consecutively, it will have a steady flow. It's one of the problems for fanfictions; where the author has to choose between risking having time between chapters being posted breaking the flow, or writing each chapter in a way that can easily stand on its own in a sense.

“But I don’t want to pick from three colors for my ending…”

Shepard knows your pain Masterson. Shepard knows your pain...

“Give me that.” Wesley snatched the cup from her hands, placing it on the table and sitting down behind his desk before he slumped into his chair with an exasperated sigh. “That’s my cup… and those are my notes.”

yeah I think you mean hooves.....:raritywink:

4525116 Hah, I knew I forgot something. Thanks for pointing that out, it's been fixed.

Then, suddenly, Command & Conquer started happening from every side (as it always does).

So when do we get to see the 17 hour battle consisting almost entirely of building a ridiculously massive base with 50 block stretches of 3 block deep walls made wholly of turrets followed by a 17 minute slaughter with dozens of tanks and aircraft and hundreds of jump troops that turned out to be way easier than you thought it would be and not really worth the buildup? :pinkiecrazy:

4524996 Technically they have deployed the Ion Cannon. For a single shot to clear the initial landing zone but yes, the true terror of the Ion Cannon has yet to be unleashed.

I just hope the Firehawks have enough ammo to deal with their numbers. I don't believe they strictly follow the game payload of either four missile volleys or two bomb drops but with an enemy of unknown numbers and the dragon being well... Let's just hope the Mastadon can help back them up enough.

I'd like to see an upscaled version of the Guardian Cannon though, with the Rail Gun upgrade of course. It would be artillery level firepower even. I'm one of those types that like to just place that wall of death in the way:pinkiecrazy:

Does 'timely release' mean a long time from now?

I actually missed out on even HEARING about 4 until the giant C&C bundle happened.

It was never advertised in any of the places I looked because it was that bad. Having said that, the story and lore in it was decentt but didn't come close to making up for the GOD AWFUL gameplay

Now if I heard all that overkill comments I would have just said 'Overkill is underrated, besides...who doesn't enjoy a good light show?' :pinkiecrazy:

But 500 Firehawks...hope they are better at not blowing each other up than how some games do it with Interceptor aircraft. Nothing more annoying than watching your units blow themselves up because they were unfortunately in the same general space as the big air unit you trying to kill. But these are not stupid units so should be fine...mostly -laughs-

Yet I sooooo want to see all of those fighters just fire a wall of rockets at once, 500 or so rockets screaming through the air and slamming into everything in front of the fighters. Nothing like `plowing the road` if you get my drift...still I wish the NOD like ISDI group shows up soon. I just love NOD in how they act and such, that and flame weapons are fun...more so if they could show up and demonstrate to the dragons the TRUE way to use cleansing flames!

I wonder if Twilight will regret her smugness and insistence on tagging along. It's not a very smart thing when trained soldiers tell you not to go and you "still wanna, cause I want!":unsuresweetie:



It's official: Trixie = Umagon.

By the way, will we get to see Spike kicking ass and taking names?

Weaponizing the Rainboom will require focusing the beam... maybe she could try going supersonic over a prism? Spectrum Cannon power to the max. :rainbowdetermined2:

His faceplate cleared in time to show him scoffing “You’re lucky this time.

Missing punctuation.

“I was taking a nap…”
“Correction, Mister Masteron: you were taking a nap.”

Am taking a nap, perhaps? Currently they're both correct. Also, Masterson.
Eh, I think "I'm a bookworm!" is fairly flimsy terminology for justifying going on the mission. A scholar, yes, a scientist well studied on the topic, but just saying she likes to read books? I doubt the translator would use 'bookworm' over a more concrete term, anyway.

I have a sneaking suspicion we will see Spike kicking ass... but not in the way we'd want, and very, very soon (relatively speaking, that is; whenever the next chapter or two is out, I'd say). :raritydespair::ajsleepy::fluttercry:

“But I don’t want to pick from three colors for my ending…”


Glad to see this update and Great build up chapter, wont mind re reading it when you do complete chapter 17.

Sorry to hear life is giving you a hard time, hope things get better for you soon.

im so glad this got an updade. sorry to hear about the problems. hope to see more keep up the good work.

Great chapter!

One thing I'd like to point out, though, is that the ion cannon's charging beam was never a "formality," or an unwanted "side effect" at all. Those beams you see in C&C 3: TW (haven't played C&C 4, so I don't know how it works there) are -- as far as I know -- used to create a cloud of highly ionized, and thus highly explosive material, which is then detonated by the cannon's fully powered salvo. I'm guessing the combination of both was what created the huge explosion we see in the game.

No, I'm not saying the advancements they've made since then aren't valid (though once again I feel that everything is "too easy," since the ISDI armaments seem to possess no weaknesses at all.) Just wanted to put that out there... just in case someone else hasn't already... :twilightblush:

Dialogue is a bit too lengthy at times, though I can chalk most of that up to mandatory exposition (especially with all the details that newcomers to the C&C universe might not be familiar with.) Another issue is the human characters, specifically Commander Alexandra and Lieutenant Viers. Their dialogues are almost interchangeable, which doesn't exactly do good for character variety. Since the latter is a commando, I'd have assumed his lines would be a whole lot shorter and more practical, not to mention less formal. That stuff works fine with the Commander while he's busy explaining things to the princesses and whatnot, but then have the same kind of dialogue between Viers and Trixie? As in: two warriors just a few steps away from a potential battlefield? It really bogs down the pacing, to say the least. Same goes double for Viers and Twilight, in which case you don't exploit the differences between their characters by having them both speak so formally...

Good example:

“Miss, we’re going to kill the thing, not have a chat with it.”

Bad example:

“You’re chancing a what-if here,” Viers said. “Just because we have the possibility of not dying doesn’t mean that it’s a surefire outcome that we’ll come out of this on top. Where we come from, we have a saying: no plan survives first contact with the enemy. That means that we are fully expecting everything to go wrong, and trust me, you don’t want to be there when it does. Between me and the commander, we can ensure the safety of two VIPs: one for each of us, but with you thrown into the mix, we’re going to have to juggle, and if we all get separated, having a third VIP to follow after instead of just grabbing the two and running will end up with all of us in some very hot water.”

As for the plot itself: things got really intense toward the end, and it was about time our heroes didn't have it so easy, too. But then... aw, come on! The guy just goes back to sleep? What kind of cliffhanger is that? :trixieshiftleft:

But these are just minor nitpicks. The story as a whole is still very satisfying to read. Well done! :raritywink:


“So interesting. I would have never thought about using sonic devices to try to repel the Tiberium. I don’t know of any case where ponies use anything like that in daily life. The closest thing I can think of would be Rainbow Dash and her sonic rainboom, but that’s about it, and certainly not a daily thing.”

Rainbow Dash = new sonic weapon? :rainbowlaugh:

You sir made me play C&C 3: TW as the Scrin for the first time in Eons

Great Chapter, but why didn't they deploy the communications relay pod? You gave us a bunch of reasons why they shouldn't use the Ion Cannon instead of the pod, but no reasons why they shouldn't use the pod, yet they used the Ion Cannon, why?

I never realise how much I love this story till a new chapter comes out xD

4529221 Pods are a static emplacement, and it would be a gross waste of resources to deploy them at the current rate of advance (a large walker plus fighter escort) if they can't stay around to ensure that they would remain intact in mutant country. There is a reason for that, though, and that will come in later. For now, it's just "part of the plan".

It's all fun in games till someone busts out the Ion cannon.

Time to prepare for a big aerial battle! Hopefully the new chapter is released soon.

This story is awesome and I love it.

4525289 3 rail, 2 watchtower, 2 AA and 1 sonic... that's my standard defence cluster, minus the mammoths and firehawks. I usually have those clusters with overlapping fire in choke points... it's a common tactic to super weapon my base defences since that's often more efficient than targeting power or critical structures with me.

4537721 I guess it would actually depend in my case and on what faction.

If I was GDI, then I would most likely just match them with mammoths and firehawks of my own, maybe with a rig or two if I can. Or maybe I could use the Juggernaut to bombard from far.

If I was Nod, then I would just send a mass of flame tanks your way. Sure they can ie quick to Rail Gun tech but they do massive damage to buildings at a ridiculous rate. Or I could just use the Shadow Teams an Artillery if we're playing the expansion.

If I was Scrin, I would probably use their carriers and storm ability mixed with Tripods. Or I could just use the dang millipedes and just bum rush with anti everything attached if it was the expansion.

So many choices to make but yeah, it can be more beneficial to super weapon your main defense. Or you could super weapon their economy and then follow up with bombardment. Yeah, I'm one of those types:pinkiecrazy:

4538885 I'm a nasty Steel Talon player. I'm pretty weak early on but if you don't take advantage of that you'll find my micro management of Mammoth Tanks is hyper dangerous, I don't know many people who make full use of the reactive armor

As at least one other person has pointed out, the smaller pre-firing beams of the Ion Cannon are neither a formality nor an unwanted side effect, but rather a way to seed the area with highly explosive materiel for the main beam to detonate.

Personally, I'd suggest having it instead explained as the cannon having one firing mode that's meant for large groups of soft, slow moving, or stationary targets, in which the damage is dealt entirely by the explosion, and the beam itself never even reaches the ground (it stops a few feet short). It's other firing mode is meant for "assassinations" of single, high value/hard targets, and consists of a single beam strike without seeding the area with explosive materials first. It has an incredible amount of stopping power and penetration, but causes no collateral damage and has little to no warning, and it can also hit fast-moving targets because they don't need to stay in a seeded area to be affected. This would make the second firing mode ideal for taking out a dragon, and it could also come into play later on for softening up Scrin atmospheric warships.


The information on the ion cannon is a worthwhile tidbit, and one I'll amend into the story. I hadn't consulted the wiki (where all this information is stated), so I take full blame.

On the issue of the human dialogue: you're correct in that there isn't much to distinguish between the human characters, and that is something I'll take into account later on.


This is correct, and is what it says on the wiki. Changes will be implemented soon.

Hey now:ajbemused:, to be fair the Ion cannon has come a long way since the C&C: Tiberian dawn. In it and Tiberian Sun the Ion cannon could and did fire without any warning at all it was just more of a precision weapon/strike. Unlike in later games/times where the Ion cannon had more area it could effect due to tech upgrades:ajsmug:.

So, just gonna throw in my two cents: you would lose data comms long before you would lose voice comms.

Redundancy alert.

The infamous green crystal that wholly destroys entire worlds in its wake of global proliferation.

It completely destroys whole worlds?


I never would've guessed!

(Alright, this one isn't that bad. It's still kinda awkward, though.)

This has been your monthly dose of Grammar Nazism, courtesy of SirAnkylon! :trollestia:

I'd love to see the type of armor they make for pinkie then tell her the scrin hate party's and point her in their general direction. (:trollestia:insert evil laugh)

What happened to the other species? I mean we know what happened to the Diamond Dogs and the Dragons, but what about the Minotaurs, the Griffons, the Zebras, the Buffalo, and the Changelings? What happened to them.


An excellent question actually......what happened to them all? I sincerely hope the Changelings don't try anything...foalish. The buffalo, surprised they didn't evacuate when Appleoosa did

And why hasn't the princess used her ability to send messages to spike yet? That would most certainly have been useful to keep track of the little guy.

Okay, five bits says Spike is somehow that dragon.

Keep it up! I'm very glad I found this story. ^^

4698280 Mass Effect 2, Mordin is one of the best characters in the whole series.

Is the Methuselah a repaired, rebuilt, and revitalized GST as from the games or is it an entirely different ship altogether.

hello are you still gonna do the story??

5571504 going to try for a C&C3 crossover:rainbowhuh:?

So I haven't read this is a good while and am just wondering if it will ever be updated again?

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