Puppets of Tragedy

by Iridescence T Wind

First published

We all know the story, human from earth goes to Equestria from buying a mystical prop from a mysterious unnamed salesman to attend Comicon. But what you didn't expect was the prop to be a puppeteers crafting kit.

We all know the story, human from earth goes to Equestria from buying a mystical prop from a mysterious unnamed salesman to attend Comicon. But what you didn't expect was the prop to be a box of mask making materials and a puppeteer kit. Now with supplies to make more costumes and the super villain name of the 'Puppet Master'. You have to wonder, Just what lessons am I going to teach these Equestrians through my villainous ways.

Inspired by the grand adventures of: Malideus and Dullahan!

Behind the Strings

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Ever since a young age, I've always been obsessed with the dark side of stories. What lead to the wicked witch becoming so wicked or the boogie man becoming so terrible. Often times I'd watch a movie for the villain rather than the block head hero who seems to either get a lucky shot or have plot armor because they're the main character when the villain is far more interesting to listen to. Of course, my favorite of these are the tragic tales that are actually explored, even in the slightest. A brother denied a kingdom, a sociopath that was downloaded into a machine against her will, and even when a villain has won and gone on to create a united nation, only for a relentless psychopath of a samurai to hunt him down despite all of his resources.

So it wouldn't be a surprise that I had taken up the hobby of creating movie props at a young age, to live out the fantasy of pretending to be them, and act out their roles and tried to feel like they did. With countless games and movies having been memorized as a child, the hobby grew into an active role as I found myself taking part in more and more technical aspects of theater through high-school and eventually found a well paying job as a prop designer and art director for several small scale films. Once a hobby, had now turned into a profession akin to art, while not the best of jobs, and work in a competitive business of theater was ever scarce, there was surprising joy in aspects of my life that I hadn't considered until a stream of requests for various cosplay gear started coming in from past colleagues of my theater classes and I had went to work in carefully crafting each individual piece that was going to eventually show up at this collection of fandoms in Comic-Con.

Among the requests I've gotten, some were for heroes, but the vast majority of them were unsurprisingly villains which was pleasing to my past work, and as requests all but flooded in for last minute preparations, I had the luxury of refusing or modifying a few of them at least. After all, its hard to make a costume for a robot that stays stationary upside down on a ceiling and expect it to be able to walk through the front door right?

My latest request was a humanized version of a certain draconequus from a show meant for little girls, a rather popular one at that of which I, myself had been a minor fan of. While it was not the most challenging project by far, it took more than one try to get his horns right on the hat I had been working on all night. My latest attempt to do so had resulted in my favorite tool, a dremel tool I used in carving out foam had worn out its head. Normally a dremel tool was used to cut into foam by removing chunks similar to a miniature saw and carving tool. Some of the stronger ones could even be used to cut into wood or metal as well, though for most of my projects the lower end ones were better for the job.

With the due date for the project looming around the corner, and tickets to this convention of gaming and anime within my grasp, this lead to the interesting circumstances that would lead me to this prop shop. Most of the other stores were closed at this hour, and It couldn't wait until morning unless my client was to wear one of the failed attempts at recreating discords horn. Something I wouldn't be able to live with if it were to transpire. My reputation was for the accuracy of my props, the only exceptions of that rule being when a prop would be far too large for a human being to handle, or if the size of the prop would make it look ridiculously over-sized in comparison to the costume that went with it.

I had to admire though the store owners own style of crafting props though. They looked so real, and several of these intricately designed props were such a steal for their low prices. A large metal sword a random kid was admiring actually shimmered in the light as if it was the real thing for Petes sake. I'd have to ask the manager his secret, but first I'd have to acquire a replacement dremel, and perhaps some more crafting supplies to replace all of the EVA foam that I had used up recently. One particular kit however, a box set with all the tools and supplies needed for crafting some props, including a few straps attached for carrying it like a backpack, caught my eye. On the front it was depicted with all the tools I need, and more.

I won't lie, I love shiny things, and all the tools depicted on the advertisement for the kit was extremely shiny looking. I could hear my wallet groan as it expected a several hundred dollar price tag that usually came with these kits but when I checked, my jaw practically dropped to the floor.

"Only twenty bucks?!" I exclaimed in surprise, "you got to be bucking kidding me; that's low!"

To complete the unexpected event the shop keeper, who was as generic as an old man could get while leaning on his counter merely grinned at me, "Find something you like stranger?"

I nodded, while picking up the box in my traveling pajamas. Hey, I know that look, there's nothing wrong with a sweatshirt that has been turned into a robe while wearing sweatpants, sneakers, and a tank top underneath it. It's a perfectly manly look, especially when you spend a month trying to make it look like a white and blue traveling robe with sleeves that one would only see in an anime. The kind that went way past the hands and you could probably tie someone up with like an insane asylum while looking like a kimono. My parents had deemed it a fashion disaster, I deemed it cozy. That and somehow cute, I could hear a few suppressed giggles as I lifted my new treasure up and onto the counter. Suppressing the urge to roll my eyes as people commented on what a kid was doing alone in the store in such a get up, I also added a blank mask and marionette doll to my selection for my own use. After all, what fun is there in going to a con full of props and costume homages to your favorite shows and not having at least some of your own to show off?

The shop keeper grinned, looking down at me literally. Okay, I'll admit it, I'm not exactly the tallest of individuals around, being four feet and five inches tall. "This'll be all?" He asked me, and I nodded. His smile grew wider, "That'll be fifty even, I don't believe in that 99 cent nonsense. It only leaves you with a penny to spare out of each dollar that most people seem to never use."

I nodded again, and reached to pull out my wallet and he commented again, "Interesting choice of language by the way, a fan of the show?"

I sighed, pulling the wallet out and starting to count the mess of fives and ones inside it, "More or less, needed to get some replacement tools in order to finish the final costume piece of a discord cosplay for a client of mine. Kind of hard not to get absorbed by the show when several of your clients routinely ask you to ponify their costumes or ask for one of a kind pony variations of things that shouldn't be ponied. Nothing compared to the quality of the stuff around here though."

The clerk raised an eyebrow at that, "Discord you say?" his smile grew wider, "Tell you what, I'll hold onto this stuff for you in the back, if you show me what you have so far. If it's good, I'll even let you keep this stuff for free and maybe show you a thing or two."

"You have to be kidding." I told him plainly. It was a rough world, truth be told, there was no way that simply showing a stranger what I had would score me a lesson in how he made his props so realistic, and that much money worth of free crafting supplies. It just simply wouldn't make sense in the slightest.

But sure enough the grin was still on his face and his voice was completely serious, "I'm not. Or am I? Come back within the hour and find out."

Of course, I could bore everyone with the frantic high speed sprint in robes through the night time streets of the city back to the hotel, the hurried pace as I nearly tripped over myself countless times on the way back. And near collapsing of exhaustion from a pair of twenty minute sprints at the front desk. But that would be as boring as watching all the in between bits of random traveling the hobbits had to do between the scenes of action in lord of the rings.

He provided me a life sized manikin to put the costume on in the backroom and I obliged, the seemingly random pieces of clothing coming together quite nicely and more easily recognizable as the suit version of the draconequs. The only thing imperfect about it was the horns on the hat, the remaining one having yet to be carved fully, painted, and attached. As is, the half carved horn was placed on a nearby work table.

The aged shop keeper pulled at his beard as he circled around the costume, nodding here and there with all the seriousness of a man choosing his fashion line. Apparently he was satisfied at what he saw, as he turned to me, "I see your only missing the antler."

I nodded while admiring his various works in progress, "Indeed, It's been a troubling how many sheets of foam and wire I've gone through trying to make a perfect replica of the antler. Made a few nice ones, but they always turned out below my satisfaction..."

"Well lets see if we can fix that, shall we?" He turned towards the incomplete horn and gestured at it, "And maybe improve the costume a bit as well so it'll match the rest of our colorful friend here."

I nodded as we got to work. Well it was more him working and me looming over his shoulder watching what he was doing, though conversation started up again as he cut into the foam with a soldering iron that had its tip replaced with a scalpel that looked like it belonged in a medical drama, not a prop making table. "So are you a fan of villains, kid?"

I nodded, before realizing he wouldn't be able to see that with his gaze focused on cutting the foam accurately, "Yes actually, ever since I was a little kid, why?"

"Ah, recently then," he teased and I resisted the urge to pout, after all grown men don't pout, at least not publicly.

Instead I sighed,"I'm an adult."

"I know. Now tell me, what interests you in villains over heroes? Would think you'd have more fun designing a costume of Princess Star-Butt rather than the above average quality of these sort of costumes."

"Twilight." I corrected, "And It's because of potential of tragedy."

This gave him pause, as he turned to look up at me, I could of sworn I saw yellow and red eyes if only for just a second, "Tragedy?"

I nodded, "It's something that irks me in most stories about heroes going after villains, is that often time they aren't evil by the definition of it. Circumstances caused them to behave how they do, out of grief and anger over something they believed was wrong. The hero in comparison usually ends up removing the villain from the equation, completely ignoring this problem like a obedient block head leading into the game or story repeating a short while later. Like Equestria beating down its villains first without any questions asked as to why they were doing what they did."

The old man chuckled, resuming his work, "And you think the heroes are the real villains here?"

My head shook with my reply, "No, they're more akin to a neutral party accidentally taking the wrong side against Villains created by a mistake of someone else. Like discord not having a friend until Fluttershy gave him a chance, or the history of Luna falling from being good because no one gave her respect she duly reserved for her beautiful night."

"Things can often be more complex than they appear, that is true. How would you show them the error however?"

I shrugged, "I'm just a human being in an another universe entirely, what could I do? If anything, I'd try to show them the difference between a tragedy and a real villain. People who have no excuse to why they do evil versus those who still have a chance of redemption."

"An anti-hero then." the old man concluded for me, shortening what I said to two words, " or he who would fall so that others would rise."

I sighed, "One person wouldn't change their views. They would need to be shown several examples, and forced to learn these details in order to win, rather than just shooting everyone with a magical rainbow and calling it problem solved..."

"Well then, Alexander Herrington." the old man told me, moving away from the horn, unsupervised he had already completed it, a feat of which I was surprised. How was the paint already dry? When had he painted it? Wait, he knew my name, "I think your going to have quite the task ahead of you then"

Dumbfounded I asked him the first thing that came to mind, "How did you know my name?"

The old man ignored my question as he placed the horn against the hat and let go, somehow it stuck in place and he turned to me, holding out a once blank mask, now decorated with a simple set of block shaped eyes and a triangular hole for the mouth, both covered from the inside by black fabric giving it, I took it and admired the closer look as I could see thin yet intricate markings that seemed ordinarily hidden from a few feet away. The only way I could imagine those lines becoming visible would be if someone intentionally got it dirty to color in the lines. He gestured at me to put it on, "you've put a lot of care into your costume, I can respect that. This mask will serve as a reminder to you that the best kept secrets are behind the facade we put up for our public faces."

My moved it up, placing it on, the inside of the mask was surprisingly softer than it looked, and clung to my face as I wrapped the string around my head to keep it in place. As I looked into his workshop mirror however, the world went white. Vaguely I could hear him snicker, a fading voice among the glow, "Enjoy yourself Alex, or do you prefer Xander... Whichever way, my real gift for you is the chance to teach them the lessons you desire. Oh and don't worry about your clients, I'll make sure everything arrives on time."

As my consciousness faded into black, I sighed, "This is a dream isn't it?"

"Only if you want it to be." he answered cryptically, "Then again, what fun would there be in making sense?"

Strung Along For The Ride

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Of course, when I came to It'd be in the most unlikely and unpredictable of fashions of where I could possibly end up. It just HAD To be in the air. Right Discord? The eyes gave it away truth be told, and any worry or anger for my time on earth had passed down to the prospect of eminent death was incoming from below as I let out a lady like scream of mortal terror as the ground rushed up to try and crush my body in a hug. My fall was only broken by the treetops as I tumbled through them, earning a net of bruises and cuts as it tried to break my fall, or break my bones, couldn't really tell at this point. Probably both, though i'll be glad if I survived the fall itself. Being battered was certainly a better alternative to being dead after all.

Eventually I came to a stop, my eyes still shut and my body still off the ground. However motion had stopped. Gingerly, I opened one eye and discovered that a branch had caught my hood on the way down and was now holding me up through my robe which in comparison was forcing my arms to remain within its confines. I was about a foot off the ground when the branch snapped suddenly and I was sent sprawling to the ground. Next to my miserable body was the box of supplies I had wanted to purchase. Fat lot of good those would do in the middle of the woods.

Sighing, I got up and brushed the dirt off my robe, restoring it to its pristine white and blue coloration. That and the amount of twigs that had managed to lodge themselves inside my outfit was annoying. Pain, that was annoying too, and I wondered briefly why I couldn't of been warped into this place from a more sane height. So bruised, battered, and alive, I went to check my belongings in silence. It would just be wasted breath to cuss at the god of chaos about what he did. I was more amazed that I had even met him in the first place, after all it was at heart just a cartoon right?

Well apparently not, my brain pointed out the obvious, and I had to wonder just where and when I was. If the god of chaos sent me somewhere after... Wait a second... God of Chaos in charge of a prop store... And I showed him a cosplay of himself.

If I weren't wearing a mask, and there had been an audience, someone probably would of seen the blush of embarrassment that played its tunes across my face. Oh dear lord, I showed the god of chaos the costume. and he helped finished it. I think I would of fangasmed if it weren't for the rage of being teleported high up in the air to fall to my death.

Opening the crate however there was a note, which read in elaborate cursive,

Thought you'd be mad Xandy, so here's a gift to warm you up. In here is all the supplies you need in becoming the people you desire with powers included. I don't recommend copying ponies that already exist though, unless your planning on wrecking their lives personally or giving them a buck to the mind. As for what universe, and how far along the chart of progression you are on, Be sure to go due north for about five minutes and look up.

-Your good friend, Dissy

P.S. Hurry your flank up, or you'll miss it.

Of course I'd follow the advice of the person who just randomly teleported me here with a box of magic crafting supplies. I face palmed, feeling a sleeve covered hand momentarily crash against my mask, the later mocking me for trying to perform the well known gesture. Sighing, I shut the crafting crate while noting that the marionette doll that I had also planned to use was now hanging off a newly placed hook in the side of the box. "Well, maybe somepony would mistake me as an alien puppeteer or something." I muttered to myself.

going through the woods I began to notice some changes in comparison to my world. For one, everything was simplified similarly to that of a cartoon. Shadows were not quite as dark, and textures were off in visible range yet felt every bit as real. This evident as a nearby tree looked smooth and dark brown, but when I touched it with a pulled back sleeve it was just as rough and gritty to the touch as a tree back home. It didn't help that everything was so colorful either, just like the show it seemed.

A few minutes of walking later and I emerged from the edge of the forest I had been dropped in, and looked up in time to see a rainbow rocket out from behind a very messy house towards an upraised hill where Discord himself was standing. He saw me and winked before raising his hands in what i assumed was mock shock and terror as the rainbow hit him just like in the show. I braced myself as a wave of energy came out from that single focused point and the rainbow flew through the area, blinding everyone in bright light as the chaos ravaged landscapes of Ponyville were set back to their normal state as if nothing had ever happened.

I winced a bit as Discords statue fell backward and hit the ground, no longer having a hill to support its standing position. Alright, well that established the time line, but I had to make sure. After all, if it was the default universe, why would he-

My thoughts were interrupted as half a dozen flamboyantly colored humanoids walked into view. Oh please tell me he didn't., my mind instantly begged. But despite its protests it was still there, these weren't ponies. At least not in the literal sense. Nor were they the Equestria Girls version of themselves. These were anthros to the definition of it.The fur covered body, pony shaped heads, tail, ears, lack of hands or feet with hooves in replacement made that outstandingly clear. At least the fur covered their... more intimate bits.

I reminded my brain that I had nothing against furries personally, but it was rather how they were commonly depicted in lewd and sexual positions in art and video that made it rather ticked off. In truth some anthropomorphic versions of ponies back home were rather beautiful in art form. But the sheer amount of porn that had been made of it far outweighed the child friendly versions. And as a guy, I found it hard not to stare at their rather voluminous-

Ahem... Brain?


Their eyes are up there buddy. Get out of the gutter.

Oh, right! Sorry!

I clicked back to reality as the six of them, the 'Mane Six' if I remembered the term correctly, were walking down the street I was on. I slowly backed into an alleyway as Rainbow Dash, forever flying with the wings on her back was performing casual loops through the air while cheering, "Woohoo! Did you guys see the look on his face! It was priceless!" she mimicked the statues look of utter terror adding a dramatic, "Ohhhh nooooo how did they break my curseeeeeeeee!"

Rarity, the queen of formal occasions was checking out her element of harmony necklace rather casually as if she was thinking of something to match it, however I did spot her roll her eyes at Rainbow's comment, "Yes Rainbow, we were all there to see it."

"We should really be thankin' Twi' for remindin' us of who we are." Came the country twang of Applejack, who was striding just behind Twilight.

Twilight blushed, "But I wouldn't of been able to defeat Discord without the power of our friendship."

Pinkie, however, seemed disgruntled, "But this means no more chocolate rain you guys! Chocolate! Rain!" she waved a hoof accusingly at the sky, "I mean, come on! That's loads better than regular rain!"

"I agree Pinkie." Rarity chimed in, "at least until it expires, or hits the ground. Then it's just gross."

A chorus of agreements ran through the crowd and they began discussing the flaws if it were to rain anything other than water. It was all rather amusing but eventually Twilight called order to the group, "Alright everypony, lets head back to Celestia and tell her the good news."

Right, in the show Celestia had given a speech to the collected ponies of Canterlot in the castle over their heroic bravery in the show. Cogs spun in my head, and an idea appeared. But before I could start working on the details my vision was clogged by a bright pink fluff ball of a mane to the face. This was followed by the personal space blind Pinkie Pie's bright blue eyes as she was uncomfortably close, her face not inches from my own. Instinctively I took a step back in shock, just in time for her excited rant, "Hello! Who are you? Are you new here? Where you from? Planning on staying long? Can I throw you a party? It'll be extra special!" her questions rattled off one after the other in her hyper excited voice. I could see her pupils widening to impossible levels as she rattled off questions and things she could do with me.

Uh... Brain?

Brain.exe has stopped working.

Great, just when I needed it, "Uh..." I said lamely, "Hello. None of your business. Yes, again not of your business. Not really... No, and I don't want to be in a party as center of attention quite yet." I responded to the first few questions as best I could, my brain failing to catalog the rest of what she was saying.

"Well okay maybe later!" Pinkie pie grinned, shaking my limb, I left my hand in a fist, and combined with the thick sleeve, I hoped she didn't feel the difference as she shook it up and down, causing my poor sleeve to fly this way and that like a kite in the wind, "Well, hi Mr. None-of-your-business. I'm pinkie pie, and I'll be sure to throw you a party later then! Say in five minutes?"

"No." I said nervously, reclaiming my captured limb from her clutches. I already knew what would happen if she threw me a party, and I was in no form ready to lock myself in a room with an entire village worth of anthromorphic ponies in one of her crazy parties.

"Ten minutes?" She asked excitedly.

"No." I repeated.

"Eleven minutes?" her mane seemed to deflate a bit, another dangerous water to tread.

"How about... next week?" I told her, and she seemed to cheer up at that.

"It's a deal!" she declared and that was the end of that as she skipped back to her friends and toward the train station, "Don't worry about finding me, I'll find you!" Great, just what I was afraid of.

Well hopefully with what was going to transpire in a bit, that party in particular would be canceled at the very least. They marched on towards the train station, no doubt in order to get a ride back to Canterlot with the good news. I started to follow after them from a distance till I remembered one rather important thing.

They used bits, and all I had in my wallet was American dollar bills. I sighed, Right, Now for the not-so-legal or safe way of boarding the train. I changed my path to the front of the track and into the nearby bushes. When the train started to leave I ran out and jumped onto the rear caboose of the train in order to stowaway on it. If anypony saw it from the railway, I didn't hear them yell about it, which meant I was in the all clear. I entered the door and shut it behind me, in here at least I'd be able to set up shop and prepare for hopefully the first of many encounters with these... Heroes...

Of course there was one problem. Just how does this magic box thing work?

I'm A Frayed Knot

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So one convenient instruction manual written so only a god of chaos could truly understand, four stolen borrowed black socks, a murdered teddy bear of a Ursa minor whos guts had been scooped out by yours truly, and a ski mask later and I had the first makeshift... thing... ready. Doing anything refined or normally challenging on a moving train that bumped unpredictably at least once every few seconds was rather draining, and with all the instructions written apparently in a language only I and Discord would understand in the side of the box, in theory this would work. Apparently all I had to do was to make an accurate version of the head of who I wanted to be and put it on to complete the disguise and gain their temporary powers and everything.

With one mask down and ready for testing, I had just enough time to use some foam and work on the mask I intended to wear to their celebration ceremony. While I couldn't go through as much detail as i'd like, the moving train being the deterrent as always, and the the lack of a plugin on the train in order to use several of my foam forming tools like the dremel and heat gun which both required electricity. That and with the moving train I'd have to paint the small details on the first mask after the train had stopped. While the second one had to be cut swiftly, considering it was made of a different foam type commonly referred to as expanding foam for the larger bulkier mask I was intending to make specifically for this event. After all, what was a better way to gate crash at a ceremony held by a princess than with the master of princess kidnapping himself.

Each detail in the expanding foam had to be cut out, it was a process of rapid growth to get the size you wanted, and then removing all the extra bits with various cutting tools in order to achieve the shape you wanted. On the bumpy train, however, this limited me to scissors for most of the details and a scalpel for the smaller in between ones. I didn't really care for making a mess, since I had already ravaged the cargo for spare clothing and the occasional few bits and stuff somepony will probably miss. Great start me, robbing ponies of clothes to make masks. Do you even want to know why a bright blue bag with the image of a lyre had black socks and a ski-mask as well in it? Whatever, all major incoming criminals had to start from somewhere right? Guess looting an unarmed caboose of a train is mine. I rolled my eyes, resuming my work. The time left until we arrived in Canterlot was uncertain, and I'd have to be quick in order to evade being detected by the train ponies when they came here to unload, and faster still to paint both masks where it was needed and let it dry. Hopefully it would take a while for this ceremony or celebration to gather and start.

I had barely finished carving the second mask and cleaned it up when a whistle of warning went off from the opposite end of the train, calling for it to start slowing down and that the arrival of the train in Canterlot station was due in a few minutes. Quickly, I stored everything away in my crafting box except for the masks and the necessary tools to paint them and locked it shut, sneaking out the same way I had came in from, this time however, instead of boarding the caboose I jumped off it preemptively as it pulled into the station into some very surprised looking ponies who were waiting for their train and into the crowd. My long robes and mask easily disguising my non-anthro form from them. Of course this ended up in a full scale sprint to the castle. As I looked back to the train, I could already see the mane six talking to each other, their conversation lost in the ambient noise of the busy city of Equestrias richest snobs.

I could almost taste the smug attitudes that dwelled here. It was somewhat sickening to have to go through the crowds, but I wouldn't be able to stop here. Instead, I'd stop after reaching the top of the mountain, or at least the castle... Which was oh so far away. Seriously, invent a car or something ponies. I hate walking while carrying a fifty some odd pound box on my back. Especially if its uphill, and the corner of it digs into my back at every step. One perilous climb later and I was hurrying to pain the few details on the black mask, mostly the flaming eyebrows made of foam and the face itself which needed to be green, and on the other, only slightly more time as I could get away using a big brush for most of the color I needed.

Idly I could note the occasional stare of the royal guards as I worked on my masks. After the final layer of coat was added to the second mask, all I had to do was wait for the element bearers to show up as it dried. The tube said "five minutes or less or your money back." But I didn't exactly spend money on the tube, now did I Discord? The first of the two masks had dried and taken on a slight glow to it that either none of the guards reacted to, or the instruction said I would only be able to see. I love the whole soulbound mechanic on magic items. Especially when you're the one making them.

Though the instructions on using my new props were more vague. All it said was put it on and imagine the character you wanted to be. That and to remove it just imagine the mask he gave me. Still hadn't taken that off, Had no reason to remove it after all. Though It was starting to worry me that the Mane Six should of been here by now. Oh wait, there they are. Great, Rarity and the others were abusing spike again. Evidence being the leaning tower of diva bags and new clothing that was slowly going up the hill with the six girls just ahead of it going at a casual walk. I hooked both masks to a few hooks on the other side of my bag and put it back on after putting away the brushes, If I was right, either I'd spend another hour on waiting for this Ceremony, or Celestia had already set up this... Celebration. I didn't want to get lost though, the show had been extremely vague on the layout of the castle itself.

So instead that meant tailing the Mane Six as they entered for their praise and new found reputation of having stopped the god of chaos and then giving everyone a dynamic entry... This would serve me several purposes. I would not only be able to test my abilities using a thrown together masks of two infamous villains who could be considered anti-heroes by their own worlds, as well as make a grand entrance, and test the strength of the opposing government that had imprisoned Discord. I'd need him to be flesh and bone again if I was to get any answers from him. But at least I could try and teach these ponies the difference between a tragic villain who could be redeemed and that of a real villain who needs to be destroyed. Too often, have I seen heroes gone down the rout that meant they still walked while everyone else was either a smear of red on the ground, six feet under, or a pile of ash in stories.

In this case it was banishment and delaying their problems which was the major issue at hand...er hoof. As the show and recent demonstration of this has proven, I had to wonder just how many other villains Celestia had banished for a thousand years, locked in stone, killed off, etc. After all: Nightmare Moon, Discord, and Sombra returns were all the result of Celestia and Luna's actions within the obscure past.

With this in mind I followed after the six colorful ponies whose friendship was destined to repeat those very same actions. I smiled under my mask, as a guard pointed them down another hallway and told them quite loudly that Celestia wanted to see them immediately in the throne room. And judging from the various high society snobs taking their time to all but show themselves off with their fancy suits and snug dresses, it seemed that the celebration was about to occur. Without any regard for stealth, I ran down the hall the guard had pointed towards into the throne room of assembled ponies. Ugh. So many high strung hats and cliche mustaches and monocles I almost thought that I had just came into a room full of anthrofied bond villains.

Ignoring the already thick smell of high society perfumes that all smelled like lavender, I searched until I could find the one window that was curtained off in royal purple drapes. A tassel resided on either side of this curtain for someone to pull it open, and as I made my way towards it the fanfare of instruments began as the element bearers took their sweet merry time walking down the isle. As they did so, I took the opportunity to sneak into the space between the window and curtain, there was quite the alcove between the two, easily big enough to hold a horse, pun intended.

I took off the second mask I had made from its hook, and prepared myself as Celestia's voice rung throughout the halls as firm as any mother proud of her daughter, "We are gathered here today..."

I pushed myself to the edge of the massive curtains that held the windows, intending on remaining out of view when they opened. Sure my feet were going to be in full view if anyone looked under the curtain but the white walls of the room should provide at least some camouflage for them. The royal Sun-butt continued, "To once again honor the heroism of these six friends, who stood up to the villain Discord and saved Equestria from eternal chaos!"

The crowd cheered and I suppressed a chuckle. Not everything he did had been reversed. I was evidence of that at least. I had to wonder though, what other long term effects Discord's magic had wrought upon the world. My thoughts were interrupted as I nearly missed moving with the curtain. However the cheering of the crowd continued and I waited a few seconds until they started to calm down. Alright, now for the fun part. I peeked around the edge of the curtain, spotting as Celestia was about to say something as the crowd calmed down from its cheering, I beat her to the punch, "Not entirely." I said loudly, throwing on my best impression of an evil villain voice as loud as I could manage.

To my surprise silence instantly reared its head among the masses and for some reason they all looked back at the doors the mane six had came through. Well, everyone other than Celestia and the mane six, who were already looking at the door, they looked elsewhere. As if they were searching for someone strange among the crowd or the mismatched body of discord himself. I resisted the urge to put my face firmly in my palm. Really? Of all the places to look for someone, you all chose the second most cliche spot of the entrance to the hallway itself? I stepped out into the proper most cliche spot to be in. In front of the new window that kept the history of Discords recent defeat.

I was happy when Twilight spotted me first, and asked me the question that I was waiting for, "And you are?"

Ah a difficult question, but how to phrase it for the most shock value. An idea came to mind, something that would be fun, give them the correct mental images. Suddenly, I thanked countless hours of dedication to games and working behind the scenes on movies. I looked the part of it already, so I might as well. Balancing on one foot I stepped out from the alcove the stained glass picture was in my voice rising to a slight sing song yet still completely serious tune, "Who I am is not important, but if you must call me something. They know me as the teller of stories, the crafter of enchantments, the world traveler, and agent of chaos."

"Interesting titles, but what is your name, and why are you here?" Celestia herself questioned me, her ordinarily soft gaze starting to harden.

"Ah-ah-ah!" I told her off bravely, approaching slowly as the crowd parted around me, no doubt wanting to be nowhere near me already. Keeping a mischievous edge to my voice, "I'm the mask-maker, tale-spinner, string weaver, and oracle to the future." I spun in a circle when I reached the isle itself, stopping when I ended up facing them, "But you may call me The Puppet Master."

All of what I said was truth in a fashion. After all, I had seemingly gone both to another world and all the way back to where Discord was first imprisoned, and with Twilight being a unicorn and not a winged princess yet, it just confirmed that I was in fact at the start of season two. "As for why I am here, I've to inform you of three things."

"Ya? And what would that be?" Applejacks voice rang across the distance.

"First." I said, holding up a single heavily sleeved hand straight into the air while balancing on one foot, "Is that your princesses assumption is wrong in three ways. Though how that is, I'll leave for you to figure out."

"How the hay is any of that wrong?" Dash responded in turn, gesturing wildly with her arms while in the air. I could see Applejack had a firm grip on the end of her tail, letting this go on without Rainbow interrupting. Apparently she wanted to hear what I had to say. Either that, or she didn't want Dash to recklessly follow the later half of her name at somepony she didn't know.

I continued on, ignoring Dash, "Secondly!" I exclaimed, stretching out my foot so that my balance tipped until I landed on it, arm still raised straight up, "Is that my employer has grabbed me to teach you all a lesson about what makes a villain. Regrettably this means that from this moment on-wards, I'll be teaching that by example."

Celestia nodded off to someone to her left, and my eyes shifted to where she was staring. Oh, hello Shining armor in the back who was gathering some guards to arrest me, thanks for the hint Sun-butt. The guards began to approach through the crowd and isles, the later having backed away until there was a large circular area around me. How nice of them to provide me some more space. It looks like Rarity was going to try and distract me, no doubt the slight rattlings of metal on metal behind me being the guards approaching, "And what's the third?"

Perfect, timing Rarity, really couldn't of timed it better myself, "The fun begins immediately. So I bid you rainbow abusers, Adieu."

I slipped the mask over my head similarly to how one would don a top hat, and shut my eyes as it slid into place. I filled my mind with everything I knew about the king of bipedal turtles, his appearance, and abilities over the years he'd kidnapped the princess of a kingdom of mushroom people. His role as an anti-hero in several instances and his relentless pursuit of a princess to love him. I heard gasps, and a shout of panic from one of the snootily dressed nobles, or was that a guard. I could hear Raritys confused and momentary shocked voice, "What is that thing?" That's when I knew it had worked.

I opened my eyes, a deep chuckle filling my new found throat, an off pitch version of the original owner, but close enough. I was never tall, but after donning the mask, I now loomed taller than everypony here rather than a foot below the average. Each muscled arm easily within my view. oddly enough I could no longer feel the weight of my backpack, instead a massive armored shell in its place. I grinned eagerly as Shining Armor shouted for his men to advance and arrest me, all of them were wielding spears.

I could hear Twilight's disbelief as she shouted in wonder, "Self Transmutation? How can he do that without a horn?!" Eesh Twilight, you already met one person who could do magic without a unicorn horn earlier today. Sure he was a god of chaos and disharmony, but I digress.

The guards surrounded me, holding the tips of their spears pointed at my throat but none daring to approach the bulk of who I had become.

Let's see, how would Bowser escape this... I grinned as it came to me and pulled back my new horned maw. the incoming fire must of been evident as the guards in front of me suddenly went wide eyed and scattered as I shot a fireball toward them. It wasn't particularly strong, but it did give me the amusing sight as they had to run off to go put their tails out when they ignited. Confusion and chaos started as civilians scattered, wanting to be nowhere near this fight, or the fireball spewing giant turtle person covered in spikes. I started forward only for my path to be blocked by more guards while Celestia, surrounded by the mane six, started to approach.

Several guards lunged at me, either nicking my arms or their spears being deflected by the shell on my back. I swiped in return, grabbing and breaking whatever spears I could with my meaty scaled claws and setting another few tails and helmets ablaze. I had to resist the urge to laugh, as Celestia told me sternly behind her wall of guards, "Surrender now Puppet Master, and I promise you a fair trial." As opposed to what? An unfair one? I gave them a glance.

And now the element bearers had their rainbow shooting plot device on, oh joy. The game of shooting rainbows at villains to make them disappear. How about nope? I took another few steps toward the window I had started this experiment on, but winced as something lodged itself into my arm deeper than the other guard's attempts and kept it there. I reached around and grabbed my offender, yanking him off from his spear and dislodging it with a shake of the wounded arm. That stung a lot actually. Like being pricked by a bee. The attacker tried to dodge, but Bowser had always been a slow walker, not a slow grabber If his history were to be any indication. White fur, blue mane, and of course looking older and a bit taller than the average guard, of course the pony who just lodged a spear in my arm had to be no one other then Shining himself. Hmm, just had a great idea, now that he was in my grip and all.

"Oh Look." I grunted to the other ponies assembled, Swinging Shining around like I had found something of interest and wanted to show these ponies as fast as possible, "A hostage. Now back off before soldier boy here gets it."

That got them to back off, partially at least. They were now forming two walls on either side of me, to presumably stop me from either approaching their liege and national 'heroes' or the exit. "Now if you don't mind, I'll be leaving."

"You have nowhere to go buster!" Rainbow Dash shouted unknowingly against my planning, "Now put the stallion down and you'll be a statue for only 500 years instead of a thousand!"

I grinned at her as I backed myself to the new window, The guards forming a half circle and when I felt my tail brush against Stained glass, I gave them my cockiest Bowser patented grin and told them, "I'm afraid not See you... Next fall!" I threw Twilight's brother at them and rammed backward into the glassed window that insulted how the draconequus was actually defeated. He was beaten by an unexpected attack, not some honor bound duel. That and he had brought me here in the first place, so I kind of owed him to smash at least one window that depicted him like that; as twisted as that logic sounded.

I gave them a smug salute as I fell out of the Canterlot castle and down towards the city beyond. This entire time however, inside I was screaming in panic. I said my escape plan was brilliant, never did I ever say that I particularly liked falling several hundred feet from a broken window as a fat turtle into a city made of stone and concrete. I seriously hoped that this masks shell was harder than it looked. After all, I can't teach them the difference between a real villain and a redeemable one is if I'm a pancake by the after affects of gravity now can I? As is, I went to hide inside my new shell, and braced for impact as the cold hard stones rushed up to meet my enormous green backside.

Well This Was Knot Thought out

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Pain. Deep. Serious. Pain. Agh. I think I broke my shell. Well the mask at least. As the shards of it was scattered where I had impacted against the cold hard ground like a living cannonball. I groaned as I managed to sit up, holding my hand where the mask I still had on was. This was going to hurt in the morning, and with the sounds of dozens of wings flapping through the air, I felt a tad bit less confident with my escape plan. It seemed lucky that I was in one piece. That and so was my box which looked unharmed in comparison to how I felt.

I reached for the other mask I had made, my backup to escape, only to find that the hook holding it in place had bent from the impact. Just my luck. That left me with the marionette which had no instructions on what it did. At least none that I could find. I dragged myself up wincing as I felt a throbbing pain in my left shoulder. A quick check revealed that I had dislocated it in the fall. I'd have to try and reset it once I got out of here. I Ran into an alleyway as civilians watched, confused if they should run away from the figure who just crashed into the ground at what I thought was terminal velocity, or to try and help. The guards flying at where I had crashed probably convinced them of the former.

I was probably lucky that Neither Celestia or Luna were chasing me down, and that Twilight didn't have wings. Otherwise I'd place a bet on one of them levitating me into the air against my will before locking me up as a stone statue to be another restroom for birds to poop on next to Discord.

I spent the next several minutes running for my life. My predictions were that I was about to be tackled by Rainbow herself at this rate. Though fortunately for me, either she had been forced to stick along with her friends, or I had lost her before she could begin her pursuit proper. Both were equally as likely at this point. They'd probably lock down the city if I didn't hurry to get out in time. If Shining put his one of a kind shield spell into the- A loud pop sounded behind me, oh right. I forgot. Twilight could Teleport. I didn't stop running though, if she had found me, it'd be only a matter of time before the others did.

"HALT!" she yelled. A command I gladly disobeyed as I dived into another alleyway as a purple blast rammed down the path I had previously been going down not a moment before. I resisted the urge to scream like a little girl as another blur, this one blue with a dash of rainbow, nearly hit me as I kept diving down alleyways at random in the Canterlot maze.

Here I was thinking that I had escaped the fastest flier in Equestria, I knew that was an unrealistic expectation. I jumped over the small crowded and futile attempt of a garden backyards of an apartment complex as the magic and speed prodigys of this world chased after me. Well, Rainbow was Chasing, Twilight was now trying to keep cutting off my path with her magical teleports. I managed to nick an unattended shovel from one of the gardens with my good arm as I passed by though and as I ducked around a corner into yet another alleyway that wasn't a sad excuse of a garden, I reacted on quick thinking alone. I swung the shovel back the way I came with the flat side of it. I was met with a tremendous force crashing into the blunt instrument meant for gardening. Her own natural agility having led her into the trap of giving me a face indent of her mug made out of metal and one knocked out pegasus.

It wasn't without consequence though, as now I was holding an additional headache as her impact had sent me into the wall with the shovel and herself as well as bending the makeshift weapon until it resembled a boomerang. I heard Twilights shriek of her downed friends name and I ran, abandoning the shovel as I tried to avoid the resulting purple death lasers coming from the unicorn in my general direction.

I lost all sensation in my dislocated arm as one of the purple blasts managed to hit it before I rounded the next corner, continuing my tiring sprint for the train station. I exited the alleyways and onto the streets, already seeing the next train starting to leave. Behind me I could spot several pegasus guards above the network of passages who were either looking for me, or after Celestias star pupil. Judging from how they were going down into it, the later. I sprinted full mel for the train, closing the gap and jumping on. In the distance I could see the enraged face of Shining Armor as he called out at me from several streets away. His words were lost against the noise of the train itself though, and I gave him my best grin. I'd of waved at him, but the arm that wasn't holding onto the train as I pulled myself onto the caboose platform wasn't exactly up to the task of idle taunting.

Once out of sight of the captain of the guard, however, I let out a massive sigh as I took a few moments of rest. Getting inside the caboose could wait a moment. Running down the back alleys of a massive city after dislocating an arm was more exhausting than I thought it was. Heck, I couldn't even feel my tongue. Wait.... Why couldn't I feel my tongue? Well, small things first, lets focus on the big things now... Right, since Twilight in inadvertently used a tranquilizer or something on my arm, might as well get that over with before feeling returns to it...

Several minutes later, and I felt grossed out by my own muscle. Even numb it felt massively wrong resetting my shoulder bone in its socket. Once the spell wore off, no doubt it'd be sore as hell, but at least it was back where it belonged... At least. thank you train caboose for providing me your walls and random ponies crates in order to reset my arm. It seriously made me wish I could visit a doctor. Though I was pretty sure this worlds doctors couldn't do anything for a human being from another world in this anthro filled world. Feeling began to return to my arm as I ravaged yet another cargos worth of stored traveling gear over the course of an hour and was rewarded by finding one of those small hand mirrors that women were stereotyped of carrying in their purses at all times inside a mens traveling case. When I opened it though, I was shocked to find out what I had happened to the mask Discord had given me.

For one, the two small blue dots of paint that were centered in the eyes were gone, replaced by two small glowing balls that looked like it was where my eyes were supposed to be. I was grateful that for some reason the rest of the new hollow in my eyes were black, otherwise i'd probably have fainted from what the sight implied. Next off, the simple triangle that had once been the mouth piece that was covered in black fabric was gone, instead the mouth was moving with my expressions, currently a gaping o of shock. I slowly moved my hand to remove the mask, to see what was underneath.

The sound of rapidly approaching hooves broke my crisis over my appearance. Cursing my luck, I threw the mirror into a pocket of my dirtied sweatpants and went out the backdoor of the caboose with my backpack while barely shutting it behind me in time to duck out of view as someone bursted into the room I had just left. Well, not someone new anyway. The familiar voice of Shining Armor range through as he ordered whoever else he had brought with him that, "Look, signs he has been here recently. Fan out and search the train top to bottom, make sure this enemy of the kingdom is caught!"

How in the hay did- You know what, never mind. I should have expected this from Twilights older brother. I grabbed onto the nearby ladder that was located at the rear of the caboose and began to climb, might as well, seeing that if I didn't It'd probably end up in disaster first thing that guard opened the door.

Vaguely I thought to myself, Guess we can add train jacking to our list after this. Right next to causing a public disturbance, thievery, vandalism, arson, resisting arrest, and hitting the element of loyalty in the face with a shovel. Great start so far right brain?

Yeah, next you'll be adding extortion to that list as you shake a pony down for a meal or something.

Right, well immediate problems now, lack of ability to go to a store for food after becoming Equestria's next most wanted criminal later.

You would not believe how hard it is to move across a the top of a train going downhill rapidly without being blown off or knocked over while carrying a heavy bag. I was practically reduced to a crawl. Though distantly I saw how Shining armor had arrived. A hand pulled carriage, really? I know that's how Twilight got to ponyville but the wheels on that thing made it look like it was ready to-

A devilish thought crossed my mind. Okay, no train boarding today. Just some more risky stuntman activities that should never be done in any sane society. Well at this point, I was running out of sane options anyway. My progress towards the unmanned sky chariot however was interrupted by the sound of an enraged stallion behind me. Instinctively I ducked and was rewarded as a sword flew past where my neck had been seconds before. Wow Shining? Really?

"I'm starting to think you like me!" I shouted over the wind as I turned to face Shining armor, still squating in the wind. Yep, it was definitely him, yet again.

"Halt Criminal Scum!" Shining Armor shouted at me, "Surrender yourself before an acting enforcer of Equestrian law or feel the wrath of the captain of the guard!"

This was too much, I couldn't resist, i'm sorry brain. Even in the face of probable death I had to ask, "What, no asking to pay a fine or serving your sentence?" This confused him long enough for me to sit down and use my legs for a purpose better then crouching at the moment. Kicking him in the groin.

A cheap shot, I know, but I hadn't pulled the other mask out of its impalement to my box, and I was a tad bit desperate. At least he could feel it though, despite everything for some reason he was only wearing upper body armor, which left his entire groin and legs exposed. Stupid furries, wear all armor or none at all, not just half of what your supposed to. Sure it looked stylish, but the missing protection was not worth it if your chasing criminals.

I span around and resumed my crawl towards the charriot as Twilights brother groaned in pain. Yet sure enough I felt a blade enter my sweat pants, barely missing my leg as it pinned it to the train. "Oh Come on!" I yelled turning back to Shining Armor.

He hadn't quite recovered yet, no man could, as he was cupping his privates, a tear in his eye of pain but sure enough his other hand was on the sword that was keeping my pants pinned to the train.

Sure enough he started to pull himself up and I started kicking him in the face with my other leg over and over until he fell back, How did he even keep a grip on the blade without any fingers? Seriously. Next was kicking the blade out since my backpack meant I couldn't turn around without risking the train blowing me off. Something, I had no doubt that Shining wanted to see happen at this point.

I managed to scramble onto the next car before Shining caught up with me yet again. It seems he finally remembered he had a horn and was now using a shield spell in order to shield himself from the wind while he approached rapidly, having regained his freaking weapon yet again. This time however he stepped on my box to prevent me from going anywhere. Now I felt like a turtle again, but this time without a shell of safety to draw myself into.

I lashed a hand out to try and trip him, but from my angle that was only pathetic. to his sturdy hooves. Infact, he momentarily put all his weight on my box and through it my sore back to stomp on my reaching hand. "Surrender Now or perish in the name of the law Criminal."

I growled at him, "Would rather die now than face execution at your immortal rulers mistakes."

"Fair enough then," Shining told me, and he raised his sword to finish me off.

At that moment, I acted. Putting everything I had into pushing him off me. The act momentarily surprising him as I put every fiber of my being into getting him off and he staggered back, falling backward as his concentration broke over his shield. The wind carried him back to the caboose where he managed to get a hand hold and save himself, but lost his sword as the wind carried it away to be abandoned on the track of the railroad. I hurried as fast as I could as Shining Armor pulled himself back to a crouch. However, from a distance, he was far from harmless.

Just like his sister apparently, he wanted to send a barrage of stunning spells and tranquilizers at me. Spells that mostly went wide with the unpredictable movement of the train, or was slown down as they tried pushing their way through the winds. Though he had his shield again, and managed to hit a leg with the spell despite my attempts to dodge.

Stuipd freaking cheater magic.

now I was clinging for dear life again on the same train car as the sky carriage. It was only feet away, yet Shiny was approaching. I rolled over, out of viable options. Well all except for one. The Barren Marionette doll was swinging widly in the wind, its controller somehow still latched onto its hook. I reached back and grabbed it as Shining Approached, sheer venom in his eyes, and another spell about to fire from his horn. I muttered a quick prayer that the lord of chaos and disharmony had did something to this blank toy and launched the toy forward while holding onto its controller with my eyes shut and head twisted in case it didn't work.

The numbness of being hit with another tranquilizer didn't come. Nor did any physical pain. Slowly I opened my eyes and I found out why.

No longer connected to its strings, I could see the wooden humanoid form of the blank Manikin that was once attached to the handle. however the strings were gone on its end, no longer connecting the two together, and the wooden doll was a lot larger than when I had last closed my eyes. Shining armor, in contrast however, was now staring down a wooden puppet just as tall as he was. And unlike me, apparently it was unaffected by his stunning spell. He looked surprised slightly, but more annoyed, "Just how many tricks do you have in your bag Puppeteer?" He raised his hand, his horn forming a sword out of magic for him, "If you think a wooden doll is going to sa-

His words were interrupted as I panicked, and the doll came to life before my very eyes. As my hand jerked, I could feel a connection to the doll. And the connection had told the doll what to do. What it did however, was far from my understanding on how I had gotten it to do that particular act. It had punched Captain Shining Armor in the face. Correction. it had punched through Captain Shining armors magical shield, into his face, and then launched him off the train as the now air born captain failed to maintain momentum enough to land back on the train.

Alright, Discord, thanks for the magic puppet that just saved my life. Only If I knew it could do that from the start! It stopped moving, and I jerked my arm in the same motion that had conjured it, only this time in the reverse direction. My new theory that it went back to how it was if I reversed the motion that turned it on ending up being true as I reattached it to my box and dragged myself onto the sky chariot. Now for the other dangerous part... After a few minutes that is. I wanted a bit of distance between myself and the knocked out unicorn captain before I tried this.

Of course, that was the freaking moment one of the pegasus guards reared his monotonous heads over the edge of a caboose and looked right at me. Oh buck me. I shouted to him, "Your captain fell off the train, you can either go get him medical attention or go after me and end up needing it yourself!" I bluffed. Apparently it caught as his stoic expression became worried and he and his buddy hidden from view flew off to go back up the tracks for their captain before another train tried to run him over. I in contrast, sighed in relief and waited a few more seconds before releasing the breaks of the carriage and rolling off the train and down a very very very steep-

Brain, Please remind me why this was a good idea?

My brain responded, Cause you wanted to make sure they couldn't find you?

Well why didn't I just get the shard out of the freaking mask then and hide in the shadows?


Great, Well it was too late now, we were already rolling at break neck speeds down hill towards the distant edge of the woods. Assuming the crash doesn't kill me. At least I could steer this thing... somewhat. The wheels turned, though the balancing on this thing was horrid. Seriously, who designs a chariot with only two wheels and expect it to be stable when its not manned by someone pulling it?

Well maybe those bushes over there would provide some sort of cushion to reduce the impact...

Mess of Strings

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As luck would have it, I didn't die on impact with the bushes. But the bushes were certainly not what I had been expecting either. For one, they had thorns. Lots and lots of prickly easily piercing thorns. That made my robes both a blessing and a curse, as I had to climb out of these said bushes which meant that while my robes protected me from harm of the countless small pricks that I'd otherwise would feel. Countless said barbs were now sticking themselves into my robe, and not all of them were tearing off from their branches. But at least I had accomplished what I had been trying to do since I had first fallen through the window, so it wasn't a complete loss.

Of course, fighting Shining Armor on top of a train was hardly on my to list, for just starting a villainous career. Eesh that stallion was relentless, but hopefully with our last fight, he'd be out long enough for me to get away from the duty bound stallion. A quick once over myself revealed that I'd probably be spending the next few hours of rest that I managed to find in removing the thorns and stitching back up the new holes in my clothing. Though the box had made it relatively intact, I couldn't say the same to the other mask I had made. The poor thing was in tattered with more thorns in it than I cared to try and remove. Guess that was what I got for trying to make it out of random bits of clothes rather than making it properly from actual foam.

But I had neither the time or power to work on a proper mask as of yet. This was mainly due to the problem of electricity that powered most of my tools. While Discord had filled this box with all sorts of things, a generator wasn't one of them. This brought me to a consensus to what I needed to do next, which was either find an already made evil lair and try to conqueror it for my own, or more likely, try to make one myself. Both feats were easier said then done. As I tromped through the woods, I had to note that there was a particular feeling of emptieness about it, which I guess was only to be expected, as Equestria had not only taken over its weather but the animals of everywhere but the Everfree forest. Sure it had a set of castle ruins that would be perfect for setting up base, but it would be a tad bit too easy to find me there. After all, it was a major landmark of the nation, even if it was rarely visited.

My inner monologue and walking was interrupted as I noticed that I had reached another edge of the woods, and instead of turning slightly to go back into it, a rather steep mountain was in my way instead. Tilting my head as far back as I could I could see the distant top of the mouth of a cave near its peak. Hmm, it struck bells in my head where I'd seen it before, and curiosity began to get the best of me as I began climbing the mountain.

All in all, night was beginning to fall as I reached the top. I had taken several breaks on the way up due to the heavy bag I had carried, and the blocked path three quarters up that I had to climb over in order to continue. A rather minor irritation but crossing it had taken a lot out of my already waning endurance. By the time I had reached the top, I was panting and gasping from exhaustion. At least I had managed to get most the thorns out of my clothes on the way up here. Looking up, I could see that the cave was much larger than it seemed, The entrance alone looked like it could allow a large blimp to easily park inside it.

Once I had regained some portion of my breath, I trudged on into the cave, albietly while crouching. Though a dirty white and blue robed figure with a scary face who was carrying a fifty some odd pound box was hardly the most sneaky of figure. As I found out, it wasn't as necessary as I had thought it to be. For one, I was met with the amazing sight of an abandoned dragon lair. The same lair, I recognized, of the dragon from dragonshy. The one she used the stare on and scared away somehow. I could tell from the massive piles of gold that were still lingering along the majority of the walls. It seems, while it was away that only a few scavengers had bothered to even come up here and loot the place of as much as they could carry. The dragon himself either never came back due to being afraid of the usually timid pony, or no one really wanted to crash the Equestrian market with this much gold.

A grin slowly began crawling up my face. Well that solved several problems I would of had in the near future. As well as my current goal. That is, if this place was still uninhabited. Which after a quick search showed that the only things other than myself was a few stray high flying birds like eagles and hawks. I did have to admit, it was rather chilly up here, I could easily see snow here and there around the outside of the cave, though with night falling, i'd probably be in for a miserable night. My stomach rumbled. Right, and no food too. Well besides from the few random snack foods that I had nicked from the caboose anyway. No water though, heaven forbids we bring our own liquids into a mass mode of transport.

Setting my kit down near the left wall of the cave, I opened it up and evaluated my supplies. It was still surprisingly organized after all of the abuse and shaking around it had taken. I still had most of my grey foam, though it was near useless for me without a source of electricity to use a heat gun to mold it into the proper shape I wanted though. However, I still had a pair of spray cans for expanding foam, a spindle of wire, and to my surprise a large sheet of leather with tools meant to cut strips from it.

Setting my work station up, I began to work on a new mask while I still had enough of the lowering sun's light to work by. I chose to remake the mask I hadn't managed to use before it had been shattered. Only this time out of foam with wire and fast drying glue to reinforce its durability. Night had pretty much fallen by the time I had finished painting it, and after it dried. Well, lets say its a good thing Aku the shape shifting master had flaming eyebrows.

Of course, with the nests above me, and this new mask... Lets say that cooked meat and scrambled eggs was a rather bland, but filling dinner and a good test of how much control I had over a mask made without any form of power. Well it was better than the Bowser mask which had been made aboard a moving train at least thanks to no set deadline other than the time of day. The flaming eyebrows also helped with making a campfire for the night, Having found several smaller shrubs located around the outside of the cave nearby. With a campfire for warmth and a full stomach, I settled down for the night on the ground, residing myself to sleep.

Morning came earlier than I'd have liked. The combination of the morning rays of light, cold air from the camp fire having died in my sleep, and stone floor of a bed having created a rather unpleasant experience of what I imagined a rock would feel like everyday. Only problem was, I wasn't a rock. At least not yet anyway, becoming a stone statue wasn't very high on my list of priorities, and as I stretched and slid last nights project back over my face, I could tell that this morning was going to be rather busy.

The feeling of being submerged under water came with the transformation, i've noted. The cool sensation of a fabric like touch to my entire body as I assumed the shape and powers of Aku the shape shifting master of evil, my height growing until I was well above twice my average height, and that wasn't including the crown like set of horns that grew at a curve from his head which could well add another few feet to his height if they were counted in. Once again I ended up packing up and storing away all my gear except for a spare bag I had grabbed from the train. While I couldn't feel the weight of my supplies while under the influence of the mask, A bag of gold coins, bits mostly, from this dragons previous horde was going to be heavy by itself. But necessary for what I needed to acquire in order to continue to be a significant threat.

The first thing on my agenda was to more art supplies. Having carved the Aku mask using one of my two remaining cans of expanding foam, I would need more of it in case the other items proved unreasonable in this day and era. After all, no one quite knew for sure what technological era ponies had. The show's hospital monitors seemed to run off something, But what the something was, would determine if I could expect to use any of my electrically powered tools in the kit.

I filled a bag with gems and coins and exited the cavern, stretching and breathing in more of the chilly mountain air as I scanned the land below. The closest, but probably worst choice was Ponyville, which I could recognize from the large tree library and iconic town hall that dwelled within its distant confines. Though the next city I could spot, an industrial looking city with a small collection of landmarks that parodied quite a few of my own world's that could be seen just by crossing its bridge into the city proper. Now that looked like the city that'd have what I'd need.

Without further delay, I shape shifted my form into that of a giant raven with a green face and flaming eyebrows and with the bag of money in my new claws, I attempted to glide towards the city. I'll have to admit, Aku certainly made flying look easy in the show. But being a behemoth of a shadow creature imitating one was hard work. By the time I had touched down, my arms and legs were sore from effort. Sure, I was pretty much near the start of the massive bridge, and it had only taken half an hour or so to glide the entire distance.

Now it was the shorter more... challenging... part of the trip here, to blend in, which means Mr. Flaming Eyebrows had to change shape yet again. the results of this being a black furred and maned pony with a green face. Luckily the eyebrows being extinguished in the process and replaced by nearly flat black ones which contrasted well upon my disguise. That and I'd be recognizable if I took the mask off and just wandered into the city, that is if news had already reached here about me, if I was even that important. Huh, never thought of that. Well, I reasoned with myself, I'd certainly stir up more trouble if I just walked in with my other mask on instead.

Yeah, because having pupils made of what looks like blue fire in a endless void is a normal thing to have in a society where even a stampede of bunnies can give a pony a traumatic experience.

Morning Brain, what have you been doing?

You mean besides micro managing the estimates of how many bits your going to need if a cherry costs two of em yet a bushel of what looked like asparagus sold for one? My estimate is that either everything is going to be more realistically priced, or that the Equestrian stock market is going up and down more than the most extreme roller coasters back home. Either that, or this is a world where we have a much more logical market... Hope its that.

I agreed with brain, if only for my own peace of mind. It was pointless to worry about it after all, what with a dragon horde worth of gold in

I didn't really know what to expect, as I wandered my way towards what I would presume to be the main market. I was met with familiar yet foreign sights of what appeared to be a modern day shopping center in Equestrian naming themes. Some stores like, 'Hooves R Us.' were marginally clever, but some of them were cringe worthy, like 'Mares secrets', which was the pony version of Victoria's Secrets. Unsurprisingly there wasn't a male in sight in that particular store, nor was I going to visit it if I could help it.

Half an hour later and directions from some of the more casual walkers in the busy city streets and I was on my way to the nearest fabric store for several of the things I needed. Entering the large crafting store labeled simply as 'Herd's Fabrics'. What was pleasantly surprising about this store however, was their massive amount of fabrics, both normal, mundane, and more than a few almost enchanted looking fabrics that seemed to shimmer or move their patterns by themselves when I wasn't looking directly at it. For the next few hours I was scanning through truck loads worth of fabric designs after having grabbed a nearby shopping cart and filled a good portion of it with the equestrian equivalent of expanding foam, which apparently meant purchasing one of the patented 'expanding foam generators' which required a valuable gem to run it for differing periods of time, but with the dragon hoard up the mountain, that shouldn't be a problem.

It was a rather interesting alternate of electricity, really. Gem powered engines? I mean, talk about magical. It would certainly explain the lack of electricity throughout the towns and villages of equestria on the show if they had to use gems in order to power everything, though I was far from done here. I made a note to save a few hundred bits in case the power generator I wanted was a bit more expensive than I thought it would be after comparing the shops prices to my worlds own prices. However, as I was checking out fabrics down a particularly lengthy row of fascinating multicolored shimmering fabrics, I had the misfortune of hearing a rather familiar eloquent feminine drawl, "Oh no-no-no, this wouldn't do at all..."

That couldn't possibly be, I mean, why would she be here of all times? But sure enough, as I scanned between the rows of fabrics, there she was. The ever neon white and dark purple color scheme and element of generosity, Rarity.

Threading Along

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

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

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

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

She looked puzzled, "Lotion?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

she nodded, "Mhm."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Testing The Ropes

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"What?" I asked, my stare was quizzical to the griffin, "I just told you to bug off... Not stick around."

"No can do oh so powerful Puppet Master," she replied in turn, crossing her arms and tilting her head away as though I hadn't just spared her life, "You have my contract, and until it's been paid off your stuck with me."

My quizzical expression became complete deadpan, "And let me guess, if you break contract you lose honor due to some unsaid oath that all mercenaries need a reputation of completing their contracts, and that's something you can't lose?"

She rose an eyebrow, "How did you-"

I resisted the urge to snark, instead internally sighing. This situation was like the most cliche case for a bounty hunter to join a hero in both novels, movies, and games back home. Only this time it was for a villain, who coincidentally happened to be me. So instead, I opted for the mysterious, if only to keep her off balance, "I've seen this happen before, in a place far far away from here, countless times." Technically not a lie, after all another universe was as far as you can be, and I didn't want to bother to remember the whole villain face-heel-turn list of people swapping sides.

"Alright then..." she dragged the two words out, as if not sure what to say to that, "So you visited the kingdom of griffins?"

"Nope. Farther than you will probably ever know." I responded, continuing to set up my workstation, "And further than I wish to explain to someone who just tried to kill me."

"Ah." was that disappointment? I checked in her direction and yep, definitely a frown on her beak.

I dragged a solid gold table out of the dragons hoard that was present in the cave, vaguely wondering where he had acquired such a thing before setting it up as an impromptu crafting space around my other supplies in the cave. The first thing I set up was the generator, and power cords, while digging out a small supply of gems from the ever present mass of treasure. I'd also managed to drag out a few fancy chairs which must of belonged to some sort of unfortunate lord who was now missing a majority of his furniture. Joining the chairs was another pair of tables, some bookshelves, and a heavy metal treasure chest which promptly had its contents emptied so that it could be used as a storage container. It was also hilarious since the key belonging to said chest was still in the lock. It left me the impression of either the dragon somehow having turned said tiny key with his big claws, or having stolen it right after someone had open the chest.

Of course, that was assuming that adult dragons were still like the show, if they were like the anthropomorphic ponies, well. I' wouldn't hate to see a giant thirty to fifty foot tall girl. Even if she was scaley or something. Of course, unless she was angry, in which case I'd have to hope any mask on hand would be able to beat a monster of that size. Shaking my head I resumed setting up my gear, the griffin having dug out a mostly intact rug to lay around her own section of the cave while I manipulated and organized my workstation so that all the tools and supplies were neatly organized on or below the gold table.

However, there was something I didn't recognize within my wooden backpack. For one, it was shaped like a laptop. And on its back was a stylized version of Discord's face, simplified to show each individually colored body part of his head, being the head itself, each horn, his tooth, and his beard. The rest of the face and body was nowhere to be seen and as I opened it, I could spot that it was indeed a laptop. Albeit without any power.So I shoved a diamond into the magical generator and plugged it in, marveling how the gem began to whirl and glow while allowing the laptop to charge for a few seconds before turning it on.

I was met first by the same logo that was on the back of the laptop followed by large words underneath the symbol written in several variants of font barely organized into a legible line reading, "A.O.K. Operating System." which then elaborated with a sudden scrolling system, "Agent Of Knowledge."

I sat down, bringing the laptop closer to me and waited until a login screen presented itself, showing the options of trying to log in as either the system administrator which was the draconequus himself, or as an agent. I clicked on that, and it asked me my name and date of activation. Once inputted it, for the lack of a better word, welcomed me with a loud chime which was followed up by several rapid fire chimes as a program I didn't recognize gained five numbers in rapid succession. This drew the attention of the Griffin, but I ignored her for now, instead removing my mask so that Aku's towering frame wasn't forcing me to huddle to see the screen and clicking on the offending beeping program.

A.O.K. Quest System: Where powers are gained for completing objectives!

Congratulations Puppet Master, you have acquired (5) new Achievements! Keep the good work up! Be sure to check your A.O.K. Computer regularly for regular updates as your journey progresses!

Quest Completed: First Steps: Introduce yourself to the Elements of Harmony.
Rewards: Ability to mask your puppets


Quest Completed: Puppet Discovery: You Discovered that your marionette doll has, well you know.
Rewards: +1 Maximum puppets per Marionette doll controller.


Quest Completed: First Masks: You've used and broken your first mask, Maybe this will help.
Reward: 20% increase in mask power.


Quest Completed: Out With The Old: If it's not great the first time, remake it! You've rebuilt a mask as a better quality, which means it was stronger than the first time.
Reward: Props can now be built!


Quest Completed: Power Play: You've acquired power for the rest of your tools.
Reward: Puppet tutorial unlocked in Programs menu.


I pressed accept on each one and they faded away from the screen, and before my eyes the marionette doll split into three upon the same rack, and a slight glow momentarily overcame my tool kit as something happened to it. I didn't question it much, after all. This was Discord we were talking about. Though how the computer was able to interact with the rest of my kit, was another matter. Closing it out, I noticed there was a few new programs on the desktop, these being the puppet tutorial, and a search bar for quickly finding something.

Of course, now I had to give the griffin a glare, as she was eavesdropping and reading over my shoulder, and a bit taken aback at my normal masked face as it glared, what I imagined, was death flames at her, "You're a very nosy birdy aren't you?" I asked.

She shrugged, "The noise got my attention, can't read it anyway, those aren't any runes I recognize anyway, not equestrian that's for sure."

Huh, but I was pretty sure that they were the same language, I mean, the few instances I've seen the language at work they were in the same one. Did that mean there was an enchantment on this thing so that only the operator could read it or something? That's completely okay with me, that just meant if Twilight got her mitts on it, she'd have a hard time getting anything out of it.

I tapped through to the puppet tutorial program, "What's your name anyway?"

"Who me?" She asked, looking over my tools with the curiosity of a cat in a mouse convention.

I gave her a quizzical glance, "Is there anyone else in the cave?"

She chuckled, "Good point, the name's Amber, Amber Feathershaker"

"Feathershaker?" I smirked, "Sound's like you know how to ruffle some-"

Her death glare shut me up as she replied tensely, "Finish that pun and I'll murder you in your sleep."

I shrugged, "Alright, alright. No need to be tense, no doubt you alright know me as the Puppet Master, or Pm for short."

I reserved the giving of my usual first name to friends, and she was more of an acquaintance at the very most. Her response of, "Whatever Boss." however, also worked.

I dedicated the next few hours of the day to reading up on how my marionette dolls worked. Overall there were about forty pages on the finer details of how the physics worked, and those I would be reviewing over and over across the next few days, What was important however, was that now what I had found on accident when I was fighting against Shining Armor was about to become a lot more... Useful. Of course, I had to check the limits of these at my own time as well. But first, it was time to make the second mask to my collection. That and the first prop. Luckily, however, I knew just the two I had time to make before night fell yet again.

The mask, was going to be a product of need similar to that of Aku in the case that he had been able to shape-shift and absorb a good portion of damage thus far. It only made sense to start working on the next utility that I would need in order to progress with actually having a base, at least within full operational capacity. It might not be perfect but- the idea struck me on who would be the best candidate and it was followed by a wide grin.

I threw a gem into the foam generator and eyed its progress as the machine began to warm up. A few seconds later it began to dispense a large amount of expanding foam onto the table which I began to manipulate the machine into making a rather large semi circular lump in the center of the table. I could spot Amber watching still, wondering what I was doing but I didn't care overly much. Once the machine had done its fill I was left with a rather massive pile of expanding foam, albeitly slightly off color due to the source of its production. Something I attributed to magic over industrial science. The first step was clear, using a larger knife I cut out a large portion of foam in the general shape of my desired mental image's head. The large semi circular sphere losing a lot of its excess bulk that could later be used as material from a prop.

The next step was simple, I began to remove excess mass with an exacto knife, removing more and more excess mass until it began to take shape. I've heard once that the wood carvers desire upon the wood he carved helped it take shape as he worked with it, so too was it that way with foam. Each stroke I could see it coming to life a bit more, each cut and each take away. Before I knew it an hour had passed and it had only felt like seconds, the once blob of foam having been carved down to a rough similarity of the queen of inhumane science experiments. Now was where the power tools came into play. More specifically my Dremel, which came into play in order to smooth out the rougher cuts and give it a smoother texture and more pristine look to the colorless off-white foam. Next came the details which took a combination of both tools and minute details.

My favorite part came next, the painting. Beginning with a white coat, followed by a slight spray of metallic silver spray paint on the majority of the frame. With a dark grey, almost black for the details around the metal looking shell that was given a slightly aged look to it with a metal brush once it dried. The entire thing was almost perfect. The only thing missing, was the eye itself.

"Hey." I spoke up, rousing Amber from her slumber, she had fallen asleep some point during the painting process, and now that she was awake, it was time to ask, "Think you can search out a fist wide circular amber to fit this hole?"

"Yeah, why?" She mumbled, shaking off her nap and stretching lazily.

"Need one to finish this thing,"I told her. Ordinarily I'd use a type of light for this, but I thought the gem would look better for the sake of ascetics, the rest of the eye had been formed out of a small cut portion of EVA foam, heat gunned until it maintained a pipe like shape that fit just right into the helmet.

She nodded and flew off, and I left the project to the side to finish drying off after adding some minute details. With the rest of the foam, I considered the sun and thought about what sort of prop I wanted to make from it. Couldn't be large, and there was no way I'd just make a gun, at least not the traditional kind anyway. After all, I wasn't planning on killing anyone, just wounding.

I dug into my mind, thinking over it. What gear was common of someone who was often taken for a villain? Something that gave them a delicious ironic standing while simultaneously putting fear into the hearts of mortal men? I thought back to my childhood, during the scant months of summer that usually followed between one school year and the next. My parents had often moved, and as a ten year old this was just a few months after their third time moving around, this time in a heavy urban city. I had made a few new friends, though I knew that I'd probably be gone come the new year, but it was mainly because of an interest in a rather popular roleplay that had started up a few years back.

The session had been from the makers of the Warhammer franchise and had been labeled "Dark Heresy." We had all rolled characters back then during school between assignments and studying for two weeks and we had finally come together for our first Inquisitorial session of the summer. Through straws, we had been given the role of dungeon master to Yuko. She was a transfer student of slender build and raven black hair who's father owned a hobby shop and we had all acquired a small figurine or two from our meek allowances. However, through luck, I'd been assigned the role of Inquisitor for the group as the party leader to mix things up a bit.

The first session, I recalled was a rather fun mission of investigating the rumors of orks on planet 'Bob' (Rather uncreative name, but hey we were ten year old children, not grand space architects). Ork's were a problem,because they were green skinned brutish figures who repopulated faster than bunnies and had the rage of beserkers all the time, and once they started spreading, war and decimation soon followed. But the locals were rather tight lipped until the Inquisition arrived and dealt with the situation. Their universal hallmark badge of office granting them access to information and at the same time. It was called a Rosarius, and since we were active roleplayers, meaning that we acted out our roles, the usual badge of the Inquisition had changed frequently among us when we played. Sometimes it was a poker-chip, other times a playing card, and since I was the new player among the group, it was going to be my turn to provide the prop.

I smiled to myself as I remembered what I had done, taking some spare bits of cardboard and foam from my junior crafting kit and having made a crude skull upon a nearly flat shield. Having also used a gummy worm in place of piping to lead from one part of the skull to another and a bit too much black and white paint. It had been one of my favorite nights ever, and my other friends had been suitably impressed. From that point onward it became our badge of the Inquisition to join our fantastic little space marines and imperial guards on their adventures.

Even when I left, I had given the badge to Yuko and she had promised to use it whenever they played the game. To my knowledge she still played to this day, having turned the hobby into a job and almost having taken over her fathers shop. I used to write her letters, and if I ever was in the same city I'd visit her and the guys and another session would often start and last long into the night. She was also my number one customer whenever props were involved.

A slowly growing frown decorated my face as I realized that I would also never see her, or any other members of my friends and family, a cost for having been transported to another dimension. I shook my head, deciding not to dwell on it. What was in the past was in the past, I needed to focus on the present. Now it was time for the more technical aspects of the Rosarie.

The Rosarie itself was an almost miraculous device in that universe to protect its wearer from ranged damage, and an Inquisitor would rarely be caught dead without one. Each one was unique to the Inquisitor who had it, and for them to give their underlings their Rosarie, showed a great deal of trust in the Inquisitor that they had in their servant, as each badge gave access to a massive amount of resources within the Imperium, and the shield generator it boasted was no small wonder either. Able to block a shocking twelve wounds at the same time before overloading, but completely useless in melee combat. At least that's how I knew it.

My hands worked as I thought about it, slowly carving out a similar shield shape out of Foam but leaving most of the other side intact. I'd mount it as a necklace, and since I wanted it to be in one Piece, that meant a foam chain as well. By the time I had worked out a small necklace from the foam, Amber had returned with the jewel I had wanted.

"Thank you, now please put it on the table for now." I said to her, and she did.

"What's that?" she asked, gesturing to my prop as I carved a few final links out of the foam still attached to it, freeing it from the remainder of the mass, and allowing them to shake freely like another light weight chain.

I sighed, as I began to work on carving out the skull, adding far more elaborate details then the one from oh so long ago, "Short answer, protection and memory. Long answer, none of your business."

She sighed, "Eesh. Don't have to be so serious all the time..." My deadpan in her direction made her roll her eyes, "Yes, yes I know. I just tried to kill you, but aren't most people social creatures?"

Now it was my turn to roll my eyes, "Right..." I continued to work, every detail mattered after all. If I was going to do this, I was going to do it right, or not at all.

Pulling Some Strings

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I woke up to the minor headache. The type of headache that was accompanied with a backache as I had fallen asleep, having nearly finished with my project. It looked fantastic though, and the only smaller fine details was the small circular bolts I had left to carve symbols into around a semi circular rim that framed around the skull decorated shield. As I stirred my attention was gained and I came to full awareness as I realized who I had carelessly passed out around. Namely the black and white griffin that had 'sworn' her contract to me.

"Someones awake." Came the voice from behind me, turning around I could see the griffin in question cooking... something... on a spit with a campfire, "Mornin' boss."

I blinked, "Uh..." I said, thanking my brilliant brain for coming up with a semblance of an intelligent comment.

Great, almost forgot to mention, I'm not much of a morning person. This is evident as I shambled around to sit down near the campfire Amber had made, though where she got the wood was making me draw a blank. I was pretty sure there wasn't any wood near the top of the mountain. And in order to get wood in any sort of timely manner you would need... Oh right. She had wings.

Resisting the urge to mentally slap myself, I managed to work out a single word instead of a zombie level groan to properly respond, "Morning..."

She chuckled, and I did my best attempt at a death glare, which probably came out as a groggy questioning look. The proof was in the laughing intensifying. "Not a morning person, I take it?"

I blinked one or twice before responding slowly, "Not really... More of a night person..."

"So, your more of a star person than a sun person?" She asked, and I nodded.

"Yeah, what's it to you?"

Amber rolled her eyes, "Oh, just striking up conversation, more of an evening person personally. Stars too dark on a new moon, Sun too bright on a summers day. Twilight, Twilight is just right."

She turned back to her cooking and I sat there staring into the fire for a few seconds before she started the conversation up again, "Now that your being a bit more talkative, mind explaining what the thing on the amulet is? Doesn't look like no skull I've seen before."

I sighed, "No one would believe me if I told them anyway, so don't bother."

"Shoot." she said, "And here I was thinkin' that you were finally openin' up a bit."

She turned the spits she had around to cook the other side of the lizards, "How about this, I'll give ya one of my lizards for breakfast if ya answer a question I have about ya."

I considered it, either get my own breakfast from the nearby nest after putting on the Aku mask again and then cook bird and eggs in front of a half bird half lion mercenary, or answer a question and save myself the hassle? Well, brain, with you being slow, and my stomach being just short of growling at me, having skipped the dinner the night before while working details onto the Rosarie. Might as well answer a question, after all it might just "Fine, but it can't be on the topics I've already said no to."

She sighed before pausing to consider her question, "Fair enough. What's the plan for today?"

"Your going to need to write a list." I told her, "First, finishing the two projects on my desk. Which is then followed by number two, base building. Third is visiting ponyville, and that about sums it up."

"Visiting ponyville?"

"I need to scout around the area, formulate some things, and frustrate a certain librarian." I told her, "Besides, its a perfect opertunity to build some rep. As such, we might also end up having a secondary objective, but I'm not sure what it will be yet."

"Ah." was her reply, as she passed over a lizard on a spit, apparently it was done cooking, and after watching where she took a bite, I took a bite of mine as well.

"So. What else?" She asked, "Considering that its going to be ages before you turn anywhere into a, 'base'. Especially by yourself. Besides, how are you going to achieve that oh 'Shapeshifting master of evil'? "

I couldn't help but grin between bites, "That's only Aku." her confused look urged me to continue, "The form you fought, his name is Aku. And the mask I had you grab a jewel for yesterday is going to help."

"Pardon? How's a bunch of foam going to help you with construction?" Oh right, she saw me construct it, oh well.

"You'll see." I told her, "Things are not always as they appear young grasshopper."

She deadpanned, "And how old are you?"

"Uh... Twenty five? Why?"

"I'm a year older than you."

Drat, well there went that, I rolled my eyes, well I assumed they rolled, what with them being two blue balls of fire and all, "We are still young."

She rolled her eyes and continued on with her meal, as did I.

"So what are you?" She asked me suddenly.


"Your race that is," she asked, "Your clearly not Equine, the flat face mask sort of gives that away, and you have hands and feet unlike any pony, griffin, or minotaur I've ever seen."

Oh right, I lacked a snout or beak. Well that just made things harder, "Uh... Magic?" I replied, trying to dissuade this line of reasoning.

She however saw right through it, "So mind removing the mask and showing me what you are then?"

I shook my head, and she sighed, My response was incoming as my brain was a bit more alert now that I've eaten something, "A secret's worth depends on the people from whom it must be kept. In this case, that's one that must be kept from everyone."

"Whatever." The griffin brushed it off, rolling her eyes, clearly annoyed with my withholding of information still.

If she thought that was bad, I'd love to see her try and pry into my childhood, it was an unwritten rule for me not to speak of that to anyone else aloud anyway. I stretched, and went back to my workshop, taking up the tools I had left all over the table and resorting them back into their ordered places before resuming my work. I nodded to her as she eventually came over and asked, "So what are you planning on doing with all those bits of foam again? I mean, as much as it is lightweight, that's hardly going to block a spear."

"It is not the material that is important, it is the memory behind the appearance." I answered cryptically, gluing the new amber into the unfinished mask. It practically started glowing in the morning light after I had inserted it into the mask, and I was going to spend the time while the glue dried to finish the rosary's final details and the last layer of paint.

"Long term plan? World domination or?" Amber asked, and I rolled my eyes.

"You know how cliche that sounds?"

"Well, assuming that until told otherwise." Amber smirked, chewing on a well cooked lizard on a spit, "After all, most my contracts usually have one hair brained scheme after another to rule the world."

"Really now?" I questioned, if only to keep this conversation going, "And have any of them ever end up in this situation with you?"

"Nah." She replied, leaning back against a cave wall, "Most people don't have a face that can absorb crossbow bolts and spew them back out at me without being phased by it."

"Hah." I chuckled, "Or the ability to shoot lasers from their eyes I bet."

"Oh you'd be surprised." she smirked, "Some certainly had the ability to do that with their horns, or glares that might as well be shooting ya with one."

I set aside the rosary, checking how the gem was holding up with being glued in, satisfied I summoned one of my two marionette dolls, admiring how it loomed over us, almost two times taller than I was naturally.

Now if the laptop was right, all I had to do was do the same processes as though I was going to wear the new mask myself, but instead setting it over the puppets head. I slipped the mask over my puppet, thinking about everything that I knew about GLadOS and aperture science, from the thrilling campaign to the witty dialogue between the resident insane AI's. What drove Caroline to insanity, and what Cave Johnson did to grant her immortality at a cost. I shuddered a sigh, as the mask activated. sending tendrils of machinery into the ceiling as the body of the machine itself sprang into existence, its power over construction rapidly changing the environment around itself.

"What in Equestria is that?!" I heard Amber squawk as the machine rose itself to the ceiling at my direction, a simple flick with a mental order, and the floor and walls shook. Panels began to break through the stone walls as if it was only the surface layer, where once was crude uneven stone, panels of metal, were rooted, standardized black portal proof surfaces, and around the exit a slow wall built itself up made of more of the articulated joints as they stacked upon themselves like a colony of metallic rectangular ants before melding themselves in place, their construction being mirrored on the opposite side as well to provide a smoother appearance on both sides. I then juggled the broken segments of stone out of the room, each tile operating as a springboard to catapult shattered rock outside of the cave, leaving us with one large almost empty room only divided by the dragon's hoard deeper in.

"This, is Glados, another tragic villain created from circumstances that were beyond her control. Mistress of machinery I believe that this world hasn't ever seen, though currently, her lesson will remain untaught to those who need to see it..." I sighed, there was so much to do, but where would I begin?

I began to task my puppet into organizing the hoard of jewels, the instructions said they could obey basic and simple commands, and organizing that hoard into a more manageable state rather than a mess of random objects would take a while, as well as a portion of my mind, though now I was connected to the puppets line of sight as well. It was disorientating at first, seeing things through three or four different cameras was like splitting my normal eyes to one view of my perception and adding four smaller singular views around it without a line of transition. I stumbled, awkwardly sorting out my own movements from the puppets, was this how it was like to control multiple bodies at once? I couldn't imagine how they managed all of it constantly, but then again, those tended to be beings who lacked a original body in the first place.

I practiced my control as I moved, trying to manipulate both cybernetic arms that deployed from the ceiling and began organizing the treasure horde, finding my own bodies movements hard to maintain more than a brisk walk as I divided my attention between our two bodies, it would be much easier if I could, say, stimulate some of the personality cores that once dwelled in Aperture Science, but that would be impossible, no matter how life like it was, this Glados was still a puppet, though not that anyone else had to know that. I chuckled, it reminded me of a game I used to play when I was younger and alone, one I called Imaginary Chaos.

The rules were simple, take someone in your mind, be it from a book, show, movie, or game, and pair them up with another one. Then imagine how they would interact with each other with what you knew about them. This could also be seen as a rule of theater when one person would act the part of a character they'd been assigned without a script as part of a game. As I saw Amber slowly approaching the hanging white and black metallic shell that made up Glados's core body, I could only smirk as I imagined the response and had her follow it through in the monotonous synthetic voice of the mistress of science, "Hello, and welcome to the Aperture Science Enrichment Center. Though keep in mind, while fun and learning are the primary goals of the Enrichment Center activities, serious injuries may occur."

Amber slowly backed away from the machine, "Okay then..."

I stared at her through the machine, swaying the puppet forward until it was inches from her face, "For your own safety, and the safety of others, please refrain from-" the rest of her words momentarily dissolved into fast words of gibberish for a few seconds before ending in an understandable, "And death."

The griffin took another few steps back until the yellow glowing eye wasn't nearly bashing against her beak, "Uh, can you repeat that?"

"Don't worry about it overly much," I told her, shutting off several of the cameras so I was left with just my normal sight and the sight of my puppet's singular eye. It was much different than controlling the default model, which lacked any sort of facial features. Though it felt more restricted then a humanoid form it had by default, yet at the same time it felt more free, like the entire facility that was building itself into the ground below our feet was an extension of myself. Sterile flooring, walls, roofs, sorting devices, after hours of work, I could now build an entire laboratory where it would of taken human construction workers months, maybe even years of efforts to build one above ground. Yet with an entire mountain below us, this was just the tip of the metaphorical iceberg.

I continued to dedicate a portion of my mind to the construction of my lair as I walked to Amber, "Let us go," I told her, "I can finish the Rosary as we walk." After all, it only needed a few finishing touches with an knife to cut through some of the details that had been covered or filled, and it would help me increase my ability to multitask between two states of beings.

She gave me a stoic deadpan, "What, not going to teleport us Boss?" I rose my hand and opened my mouth to speak and offer making a portal gun to satisfy that need, but she cut me off before I could speak, "I'm joking. Eesh. Don't take the fun out of everything, alright?"

I chuckled, and grabbed the only mask that wasn't in use, attaching it to the side of a smaller backpack, a worn weathered one from the mountain of wealth that used to be a dragons horde. I wondered if he'd ever come back for it, far more than likely, after all there was more than a kings ransom in here. I took a few bits from the hoard as well, for casual spending purposes. Should we happen to get the chance to shop without being attacked by a crazy pony, something that was more than likely judging the next place I was going to visit.

At the leisurely pace we went, it was around noon by the time we arrived in the town, my new necklace around my neck, small exacto knife in my bag and remaining marionette doll hanging off a clasp in my jacket. What I first noticed, about the town however, was that no one was in sight. Not to say that it was all bolted down in fear of me, no, some doors hanged open, windows open to all the sunlight that would filter through it, and carts left unattended. It was like a ghost town, in a way. And my mind rattled for what I knew. Discord had just been defeated, less than a week ago. The next episode chronologically would be 'Lesson Zero'. But that couldn't be possible because the very basis of that episode had been caused by almost an entire week having gone by without a friendship problem. So that meant something else, right?

"On your guard." I said needlessly, Amber had already put a talon on one of her pistol sized crossbows and was peering around just as much as I was.

Deeper into town we walked, and I couldn't help but grimace, it was unnatural how the sky didn't move, not a single wind in the outdoors. It was less noticeable in the high mountains, considering I've never been so high before, or in the medieval industry that was Canterlot where stallions and mares in their fancy pantless suits and low cut dresses ran thick as pudding. It was clean, sure, without any of the human worlds heavy industry or smog. But it was still all the same. Back on earth we had poisoned our planet, brought it to a slow moving death that no one seemed to be truly worried of expiring. This was a different type of death, animals were meek, their natural instinct for survival drowned in trust for ponies. I could see the edge of the only surviving spot of true nature as we walked through the town, the Everfree Forest. The last truly free speck of land in all of Equestria, or Equis as some fans called the planet.

The first sign of trouble was heard rather than seen, "Just look at that amazing doll!" an homely twang rang out, followed by the sounds of a distant mob chattering, and bickering, as the sounds that could only be matched by a desperate stampede that went nowhere, neither gaining or losing ground. Great, so it was this episode. I immediately turned around, "Nope, nope, nope!"

Amber did a double take as I marched in the opposite direction, "What, not going to find out what's going on Boss?"

"I know what is going on, and what is about to happen, and unless you desire to be put under the effects of a 'want it, need it' spell, which is by far one of the most unimaginative names I've ever heard for a spell since 'flames', I suggest we go find the tree-library of this town known as Golden-Oak and nab a few books on the rules of magic and inner working of Equestria while there is just about no one there."

"How do you know that?" Amber asked with a look of interest, well assumed look of interest. I was never good at reading bird beaks.

"I can see the future, remember?" I muttered, breaking into a light jog.

"And you need to know the rules of magic for unicorns why exactly?" Amber asked, catching up to me with a few flaps of her wings, and passing me, keeping pace while flying backwards of all things.

I grumbled, "Because a wise person once said that half of a battle is knowing your enemy, and I've yet to have been proven wrong."

"Fight a great many enemies, have you?" Amber asked, leaning back into her flight path, "Considering you're a new bounty and all, I'd think not."

I rolled my eyes, "There are more kind of enemies than just the crown and its servants. Bullies for children, villains for heroes, thieves for merchants, beggars for the rich, muggers for the poor. And others, and the key to fighting each of them is to know them. Thus why I give as little as they desire, and wish to take as much as they allow."

"Funny how villains are on that list, considering you're one of them."

I tilted my head upward, looking towards her and the blinding sun that loomed over her shoulder in the distant sky, "Something you must know, is that history is written by the winner of wars, and good is a perception that differs from individual to individual. We are all heroes of our own story, yet there are villains that many renounce, but does this make it fact when countless consider the same exact thing?"

"Pretty much." she nodded, shrugging as I started to glare.

"It is an opinion. I'm guessing that this... nation. Has a story labeled something along the lines of Frankenstein correct?"

"Frankenstallion. Actually."

Great, should of saw that one coming, "And tell me, who was the villain?"

"The monster of course, why?"

I sighed, "And what drew you to that conclusion?"

"Well he was called Frankenstallion's monster for one." Amber pointed out.

I gave her my best deadpann expression, though it might of come across as the face one would accuse another of being a complete idiot, "A name assigned to a peaceful stallion with a heart of gold who was being chased and attacked by the civilians of a town who wanted him dead because he was different, and you see the newly risen creation of a doctor as the monster?"

"I... uh..." She muttered, her wings skipping a beat.

My eyes narrowed at her, "And people wonder why I want the world to change, both back where I came from, and here."

She tried changing the topic, "And where do you come from?"

"None of your business." I answered just as quick, "Besides, it seems we're here."

True to my word we had arrived in the only giant tree in Ponyville that had somehow been magically changed into a mix library and house. The door had a sign saying closed, and I flipped it to open, before knocking on it. I knocked again, and again, and no response. Great. That either meant spike was out as well, or that he was an extremely heavy sleeper. Either way, searching outside of the library door predictably lead me to finding a key under Twilight's doormat, ponies were a rather too trusting lot it seemed. It was a surprise that many have left their front doors wide open, as if suspecting not a single thief to dare to enter their homes. I rolled my eyes, even if I hadn't bothered with finding the key, it would of been a simple matter of slipping under the door through the mask that was hanging off my bag. But that was cheating I suppose.

So we entered the Golden Oak Library, and its secrets, would be mine.


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Something I had learned really quickly is that cursive was an annoying thing to read. That and nearly every book here was written in it, though I guess that had to be expected. Sorting through the shelves was also a nightmare, and it was only when we figured out that the shelves had been arranged alphabetically as a whole did we start to get anywhere with the search. My bag was quickly becoming filled by books like: 'Magic,a History' and 'Unicorn Spells for Beginners'. While others dealt with politics and history of the nation of Equestria and its neighbors.

Once my bag was full, however, I had other plans. I gave Amber my backpack after taking off the mask of Aku and told her, "There's some bits in the bag, feel free to spend them in town before heading back. I need to have a talk with someone who is going to show up."

Amber rose a feathery eyebrow, "Ya sure about that boss? I mean, she's the element of magic."

I nodded, it was going to be a short talk. Besides I had both a rosary, and a spare puppet with me as well as the mask, I wasn't as armed as I wanted to be when this episode happened, but that wasn't going to stop me if I could help it. She bade goodbye and I returned the farewell, my mind looming on the possibilities ahead. I had to smirk, as I slowed down the puppet at the mountaintop into idle inactivity and summoned my unused one, bringing the mask over its head. The next step was leaving, cloaked in the shadows that were Aku, I made sure to leave the door unlocked. I managed to dip into an alleyway, and was rewarded by a brief flash as a certain Unicorn teleported to her front door a few minutes later and then vanished again, not even bothering with the door. But the important thing was that she was home, and now all that was left to do was to wait for her friends and mentor. I wasn't disappointed to see her friends running hard towards Twilight's place. I rolled my eyes as I saw Celestia further back, taking a much more casual stroll towards the same library.

I waited a few minutes for Celestia to enter the library before I approached with my puppet of Aku, both of us having a stern expression. We entered through the second story window, and listened as what I knew as scripted went down. First came Twilight's Sparkle's voice, still a bit worried and shell shocked, "Princess Celestia, wait! How did you know I was in trouble?"

The royal voice of their princess graced by ears, and I had to resist the urge to wince at the overdone motherly tone, "Your friend Spike made me aware that you were letting your fears get the best of you. I commend him for taking your feelings seriously. Now, if you will all excuse me, I must return to Canterlot." The sound of hooves stepping away, presumably towards the door, "I'm expecting some mail."

"Y'all heard the Princess. Spike, take a letter." A country twang rang out seconds later as the door opened and shut, Applejack clearing her throat, "Dear Princess Celestia, We're writin' to you because today we all learned a little somethin' about friendship."

Fluttershy's voice, soft yet angelic chimed in, "We learned that you should take your friends' worries seriously."

"Even if you don't think that she has anything to worry about." Rainbow's voice added, for once not sounding like she was challenging everyone else around her to be better than her.

"And that you shouldn't let your worries turn a small problem..." Rarity, her voice ever an attempt at being an Canterlot elite, left her sentence unfinished for a friend to add off of.

Pinkie, ever unpredictable in her antics, "...into an enormously huge entire-town-in-total-chaos Princess-has-to-come-and-save-the-day problem!"

Having come full circle, Applejack added the parting note, "Signed, your loyal subjects."

Once Spike had caught up, he couldn't help but mutter something in a tone too quiet to hear from the door, and they all started to laugh once more. I rolled my eyes. We were once more off script. At least where it mattered. I waited for the sound of dragon fire before I made my move. I casually opened the door, and eyed them all, none of them were facing me, all their eyes were toward each other or the front door as they made their way towards it, well all but one. Spike saw me at least, and he asked quite loudly as he took in my apearance, "Uh... Girls?"

Twilight turned her gaze back to her assisstant, "What is it Spi-" she noticed me.

"Messing in a god's domain yet again Twilight Sparkle?" I said, adding the typical villain smugness to my voice.

"You!" Twilight's once look of jolly turned to rage. I interrupted her before she could say more though,

"Yes, it is I." I gave them a brief pause before adding, "How incredibly observant you are."

The rest of them turned around, once carefree expressions turning to leveled glares, Applejack added in unhelpfully, "Isn' tha' the guy who interrupted our celebration a few days ago Twi?"

"And. If I heard the royal guards who went after him correctly," Twilight confirmed, her voice becoming more feral and edgier, as her stance went from casually standing to what you'd expect from a football player about to tackle someone at the start of a play, "Put. My. Brother. In. A. Coma."

"At least I didn't destroy a town with an army of Parasprites that suffered under your previous attempt at playing in a gods domain." I countered, "Food for thought."

"Thought Food?" Pinkie exclaimed, killing any sort of tension that was building up in the room, "Oh, that sounds juicy. And creative! Wonder-what-flav-"

Applejack stuck a hoof in her mouth to get the pink menace to be quiet, but it was to no avail as Pinkie also noticed, "Hey you're also that new pony who came to Ponyville the same day we beat Discord!"

Everypony except Twilight looked at her, "Uh... Sugarcube, You mean to say that he's been to Ponyville before?"

"Uh. Duh." Pinkie said enthusiastically, "I mean, I did just say that, and I-am-known for knowing everypony in ponyville, its always-so-exciting-to-see-somepony-new!" She realized something, her high pitch tone tuning downward somewhat, "Oh wait, he put Twilight's brother in a Coma? How come I never knew Twilight had a BROTHER?!"

"We're all just as surprised as you are Pinkie." Rarity said, looking between her pink friend and me, "But this is a bit more important at the moment, understand?" Well, great, already broke the continuity. Wonder how much Canterlot Wedding is going to change in the future now.

"Oh-right!" Pinkie looked to me, and before I knew it she was in my face and I was leaning backward to get some personal space from the pink maniac, "Normally I throw a party for every pony in ponyville, but you're dead-set on becoming a villain," She sighed, "That means no party, well at least my-itchy-mane-says-there's-going-to-be-a-new-pony-soon. Though-I-don't-quite-understand-what-burning-ears-means..."

"Pinkie!" Rarity, Applejack, Twilight, and Rainbow had shouted for the third time, their previous two shouts having been drowned out by the rapid pace distracting monologue that was Pinkie's rant.

"Sorry!" Pinkie exclaimed, cartwheeling back to the rear of the group next to fluttershy, who was trying her best not to hide in a bookshelf apparently, "I'll be quiet!" with that she turned her lips into a zipper and shut it tigh- Wait. how did she do that? Ugh, brain hurting.

Twilight turned her attention back to me, now that her pink friend was being silent, her rage seemed to have dimmed at least a bit, "What do you want Puppet?"

"Puppet Master." I corrected, "And, as I said, I'm wondering why you find it funny to mess in domains that no one should. Changing the dietary habits of an entire species? Or inducing a spell that would cause psychological changes to everyone who looked upon an old doll?" I droned off, "What of turning an spirit to stone again after it spent a thousand years petrified as a glorified statue for birds to poop on? Where do you stop Twilight Sparkle?"

Twilight sputtered, and Rarity, surprisingly, was the one to respond, "Anyone with those fashion tastes must be positively blind. The first is normally a sanctioned way of getting omnivorous creatures off certain diets. While the third was necessary because Discord was evil!"

I couldn't help but notice she left out the second one, so I answered before she or one of her friends could, "And the second was due to not taking Twilight seriously, I know. But it doesn't change the fact that in a proper court Twilight would of been arrested for such a thing. Rather than a biased judge that favors her. Though there is a flaw in your logic, Rarity."

"And what's that buster?" Rainbow remarked, a rather irritated look on her face, like she'd rather be trying to pummel me to submission with her hooves.

"Is the spirit of disharmony actually evil?"

"Uh... Duh."

I sighed and turned to the side, walking towards one of the many bookshelves that lined the library portion of Twilight's home, "Ever heard the phrase, 'Life is nothing without a little chaos to make it interesting'?" I checked their faces, and a look of confusion was plainly seen on at least half of them, those being Applejack, Rarity, and Pinkie pie; Twilight still looked mad though, and so did Rainbow. Fluttershy, however, was still hiding behind Pinkie. I smirked, "Some say Love is a product of Chaos, fascinating subject, for another time at least. But that is not your lesson to learn, not today at least."

"Surrender, Puppet Master." Twilight responded, her horn lighting up. Oh joy, "And maybe your punishment will be lessened by Celestia."

I took a moment, as if I was actually considering that ridiculous notion, "Hmm, I never did believe in a biased judge and jury. So nah."

She fired off a spell, and I deadpanned as the rosary around my neck activated, deflecting the spell and out of pure chance hitting Rainbow in the face, who fell to the ground stunned. It was just not her lucky week. "And with the beginnings of a fight, I leave."

"Not so fas-" Twilight began, but I had the puppet of Aku flood the room in darkness before leaving, another spell bouncing off it and into a shelf, causing books to fly everywhere.

I ran back up the stairs and jumped out the second floor window, being caught by my puppet as we made our get away. I smirked as I saw the populace below panic at seeing a large black flying bat like creature with flaming eyebrows and a green face go past them. The fliers keeping their distance and having looks torn between 'what' and 'the hell' on their faces. By the time the darkness in the library faded, I was already at the edge of town, and into the forests that lead between my lair and ponyville. Having dispersed Aku so he was like a shadow in the air in the dimly sunset lit forest, and slowed down to a casual stroll.

I chuckled, "Can't wait till she finds out some of her books are missing."

I heard a distant angered scream, of a certain lavender mare, and my chuckles dissolved into full out giggling. What? Men can giggle. Well I guess it was more of a cackle, but still! I resolved to work on my evil laugh later as I hiked my way through the forest, I could cheat and let Aku carry me back, but I was going to need to be physically fit in the days ahead, and slacking off now would only hurt me later. Distantly through my other senses I heard and saw Amber arrive back at home, and I stowed Aku's puppet back away, interestingly enough, the doll kept wearing the mask when it turned back to its smaller marionette form, the strings now carrying a miniature version of Aku's natural state instead of a blank puppet.

It was such a pain to climb a mountain though, but with Glados, I guess I wouldn't have to. After installing an elevator of course. I started to have her dig downward with a mental command as I walked, occasionally spreading out the dig and creating new floors beneath her and opening small holes in the mountain, large enough for a Camera to peek out of and check progress. I wouldn't want to overshoot, or undershoot after all. And the added space would allow not only safety, but more room to do whatever I wanted in the mountain. Though the first few floors were dedicated for finally storing the tremendous dragon hoard above ground before I started working on living quarters. I think it was this distraction that made me fail to notice my next attacker until he was up in my face.

It was a scrawny foal of a pony. Wearing painted black chain mail, and a variety of cotton pouches probably filled with different things. His fur was a light, almost pale, brown and his mane was a similarly pale green. What I didn't fail to notice, however, was the large almost short sword length knife he held in one of his hooves. "Give me all your money." The kid threatened.

"Funny, but as you can see I have no bags." I said, "Though I hear there's a bounty on my head for disturbing the peace if that's what your meaning."

"And you're unarmed!" The kid threatened, he lunged at me, and I went backwards, to avoid being stabbed, drops of something green hit the ground from the blade.

I raised an eyebrow, "What pray tell is that?"

"My knife, you see, is coated in poison." the scrawny foal declared, in an almost gloaty edge, "The smallest cut can be fatal."

He moved to stab at me again, and this time the rosary activated, deflecting the blade of its shield, however some of the liquid stayed on it, burning away at it.

"Take care," the kid said, both an edge of worry in his eyes, and mild surprise, "My knife, has quite a burn."

I rolled my eyes, and reached for my marionette, "Don't bother fighting back, I'll have quite the time-" But I raised an eyebrow as the kid did something very stupid, he licked his blade, "Carving you-"

He looked at his blade, realizing what he just did, "I probably shouldn't of licked it..." he responded, as if casually talking about the weather, and then he collapsed.

I face-palmed. Really? Just really? I walked up to the kid, and kicked the knife away before rolling him over to his back. Yep, he was truly out of it. I checked his pouches, for some sort of antidote, I found several empty vials, and some plants I didn't know, but nothing on antidotes. I sighed, great. And just how was I supposed to stop this kid from killing himself?

I sighed, well there was only one zebra in Equestria I knew who brewed potions in canon. I summoned Aku, having him pick both the kid up and the knife, and flew him towards the Everfree forest, I knocked on her door and dropped the kid off and the knife, leaving him there before she could answer it, I could trust that she of all people would be able to put two and two together before it was too late. And I already had one would-be-killer in my lair. I didn't need a second one. Let them join me out of wanting to, not some life debt.

I resumed my walk, dispelling my puppet back into its marionette form as it reached me again as if nothing had happened. Once I had reached the base of the mountain, I sat down and waited as the elevator system continued to grow, and was rewarded as a few minutes later I found myself staring at myself through a camera. Success. Now it was time for me to get back to work.

Sentry Turrets and Voids

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My lair was really coming along, with decorations from both the dragon's hoard, consisting of bejeweled golden chairs, tables, shelves, and more, as well as the aperture science decorations. I had set up a storage room just for the furniture I found in the hoard, and Amber was going through setting up her own room on the same floor as me in the living quarters. I built my room into the place for my workshop, packing up everything yet again and setting it up on a perfectly flat metal surface of an aperture science standardized testing table. I was left with a rather sterile looking grey bed though, since the mattresses on beds befit of presumed 'royalty' were all worn and ragged in comparison to the shine and polish that the metal had.

Amber had taken the liberty of grabbing a bunch of nonperishable food from a store in ponyville, so our kitchen was also moderately stocked, for the time being at least. I left a pair of aperture turrets outside of the lower entrance in case any game came by since meat wasn't in store. Their directives were set to non-humanoids though for live ammunition, having traded out one of their twin guns for a non-lethal rubber bullet for anypony who wandered into them by mistake. The inside hallway leading to the elevator would be a bullet hell if they weren't dissuaded by the two turrets and somehow manged to tip them over.

Besides the main room at the top of the ladder, the storage rooms, and living quarters that were still being expanded upon as several basic rooms that were needed for any house (like a bathroom for example) were being made, was a large cleared out room directly below that I was building for training purposes. I would need practice in controlling my puppets and testing the limitations of any masks and props I made, and that meant both needing space, and since a lot of villains were rather flashy with their abilities, a place to do it in solitude. Thus the room.

Further below that was going to be where a lesson might be taught to a certain Unicorn in messing beyond where she had any right to be in science, but that was going to wait until either she came to me on accident or purpose, or did something that relatively god-complex-y like the changing of an animals dietary habits again, or what she had pulled with the want-it-need-it spell. In the meantime, I had other lessons to prepare. Though where I would begin, I knew not. But the more variety I had, the better. The next episode was also during a holiday, meaning that it couldn't be rushed forward unpredictably like Twilight time, and it only took a quick question to Amber to learn that I had about three months in order to prepare for it.

That was a lot of time. Though knowing my luck, I'd probably be barely prepared for whatever would go down during that day. I wanted to meet a certain someone. After all, what sort of villain for the justice for tragedy would I be if I hadn't met the most tragic one in this universe that was known so-far? I pondered what she'd look like as an anthromorph, would she be shorter than her sister yet taller than the norm? Would she be bigger? What size would her b-



Out of the gutter.


I laid down on my bed, pulling with me my bag of books that were stolen from Twilight's library, and flipped through the pages of a book labeled, 'Magic for beginners' taking note of laws that would be important in magic that were described in the foals book.

The Law Of Knowledge: The basis of this law is that understanding brings control. The more that is known about a subject, the easier it is to exercise control over it. Knowledge is power.(Explained further on page 25)

The Law Of Association: If any two pattern have elements in common, the patterns interact "through" those common elements, and control of one pattern facilitates control of the other(s) depending (among other factors) upon the number of common elements involved.(Explained further on page 26)

The Law Of Infinite Universes: The total number of universes into which all possible combinations of existing phenomena could be organized is infinite. Anything is possible, though some things are more probable than others. You might consider this to refer to the "alternate probability worlds" of science fiction, but it also has a much wider implication in magic, is that no two people dwell in exactly the same universe(See sublaw of personal universes on page 47), while unproven, it would explain some phenom that have been observed of the past one thousand years.(Explained further on page 28)

Hmm, interesting. I flipped a few pages and read on the last major law... And I was met with the disappointment when I turned to the page and read the barely explained theory of infinite universes and that only one unicorn had ever studied into the multiverse theory in depth and made any ground in it. Starswirl the bearded. And little was elaborated that any basic child could figure out, yest they existed, but at the same time there was no known recordings of it. My laptop beeped, and I retrieved it with a flick of my wrist, having an claw drop down, gripping it by the sides firmly and bringing it over to me. It dropped on my head and I cussed minorly, I needed to work on refining that control it seems. Besides the slur of new updates in the quest log, one of the programs were flashing. So I did the natural thing anyone with a computer does when one of their desktop icons are blinking mysteriously. I clicked on it.

I was greeted by a facebook-like page where I had a new alert. Apparently someone wanted to be friends, but the problem was, I didn't know who it was. For one their profile picture was that of an... gold watch? I sighed, and pressed accept. However, another prompt showed up, saying that I'd need to make my own call-sign first. A token of some kind meant for conjuring others and in this case, myself if needed and deemed worthy. I shrugged, getting up. So a small object huh? Well, guess I had the time. I drug my laptop out of bed with me and moved it onto my workshop table. What would work for a token? Hmm. Paint? too cheap. A jewel? Not personal enough and a bit tacky. I searched through my tool kit. And happened across a spare blank mask near the bottom, one of the ones that came with the kit, and was similarly adorning my face, yes that would work. I took it out and returned to the laptop.

Now that I had the token, and clicked onwards to the next screen, it had me read a long user and service agreement. Five. Hundred. Pages. Long. I took the time honored tradition of just clicking the 'I accept terms and agreements' button before clicking next. And now it wanted me to... Focus my essence and say a few sentences that summarize what I am, then throw it as hard as I could into the forming black... Void? Well, this was discord we were talking about. I sighed and stood up, taking a few moments to compose my thoughts before beginning.

"I am the Puppet Master, forger of masks, and teller of stories through literal puppetry. The tragic and misunderstood are my allies, and those who would do the true evils my enemies. Those wishing to teach a lesson, or need a story told, will find my nature of value."

With that, I threw my token into the black spiraling sphere that was the void and it vanished with the mask, Briefly I felt a brief connection as it split and began to spread, seeking out whoever was worthy of my aid, and I sighed. Well now that was over with. I went back to my laptop, and raised an eyebrow as one friend request became five. I pressed view info on the first one I had gotten, then clasped my hands over my ears as a deafening boom of a voice sounded,

I am Lechku, Guardian of time, those who seek to maintain the balance in all things are my allies. Those who would mess with the flow of time or seek to control it beware.

Ears. Hurting. Ow.

A second voice boomed from my laptop, this one quieter than Lechku but still more than mountain shaking loud, I pressed down on a button to lower volume as it spoke, "I am the twin Nechku, the second guardian of time."

No wonder it was so loud, its default setting was ten-thousand percent out of a hundred. How did that even work? Right, god of chaos gave me a laptop, never should question these things in the first place, just like Pinkie's 'Pinkie sense'... I sighed, the names did seem familiar, though I couldn't place my finger on way. After my hearing had returned I clicked accept on their invitation, with the god of chaos in stone once more, this world was uneven, with just harmony as dominate in the lands after all. A hole very similar to the one I had tossed my token into opened up, and deposited the gold watch, something I put away into one of my inside pockets, it wouldn't hurt to have someone to summon in the time of an emergency, and no doubt they would like the same.

A knock on my door interrupted me from reviewing any of the other invitations information, and I looked up from my computer, "Come in." I called, "Door's unlocked."

I should of guess that with such a loud roar of noise, Amber would of heard it, after all, her room was set up next to mine out of convenience, her feather were ruffled and she was picking at presumably where her ears would be under the mass of feathers she called her mane, "Boss, what in Aery's black feathers made that racket?"

I gestured to my computer, "Friend requests from other villains in other places."

She deadpanned, "Friend requests from your magic box? Really?"

I snarked, "Its not a 'magic-box' its a computer. A type of global messaging device capable of storing entire libraries worth of information and doing a variety of complex tasks. For some its a source of entertainment equal to a game console capable of playing endless types and amounts of video games."

She looked at me, like I was speaking alien or something, "Right... Whatever you say, I'll just go back to practicing with my crossbow while you play with the magic box. Just keep it down, I think you just caused an avalanche on the mountain side."

I chuckled, "Doesn't take much to set one of those off eh?"

She snarked, "Not when it was loud enough to rouse a deaf colt from sleep in Ponyville."

"Point taken."

She looked to my workshop, which was a mess of sketches of projects I wanted to work on, nothing too detailed, just some reference sketches for when I started with the more complex masks and props I'd need to make, "Whatcha makin'?"

"A few surprises." I answered in turn, "Villains and props from my..." I took a moment to consider the least revealing word, "Home."

"And they are...?"

Amber drew the question out, and I smirked, "A Surprise." I motioned for the door, "Head down a floor, I believe you saw how the elevators worked when I showed you down here. You'll find a large room to practice in. Let Glados know if you need anything."

I smirked, There was a few projects that would be relatively simple to create today, the first being a pair of white gloves with certain alchemical symbols located on the back. It would be for emergency purposes, but with the solar and lunar princesses, as well as the elements of harmony, I might as well utilize every trick in every book I could. Which also meant, another easy to make prop, a deck of cards, sure, but not just any cards. They would be in case I got in trouble and my puppets weren't able to be used in time. I got to work, tuning my attention as I idly watched Amber enter the training room, and one of Glados's cameras followed her movements.

"Glados?" She called uncertainly, probably wondering if anyone could hear her down in this massive empty room.

I didn't disappoint her, the cold and slightly ever mocking tone of the robotic mistress echoed throughout the room, "Hello, and welcome to the Aperture Science testing and experimentation room. Did you know, your outfit doesn't look like it can withstand a lot more punishment that the higher levels of training will provide."

She said that like a statement, and it was true, after digging out all the crossbow bolts that had been redirected back into her armor during our fight, it was rather ragged, even given the fact that she had done several patch jobs from some of her presumed past mercenary work. She snorted, "Lasted me pretty well so far." she said, and I could only chuckle.

"Would you like to begin training?" I had Glados ask, "I have an obstacle course in mind, just to check how durable your armor is, and how far you can go without flying."

"Is that a challenge?"


She rolled her eyes, "Then yes, let it not be said that Amber Feathershaker denied a challenge. Hit me with your best shot."

I couldn't help but grin with slight maliciousness in my room. Oh, not my best shot, but there were such things as non-lethal rounds after all. Abruptly I built an obstacle course of walls, turrets with rubber rounds, even reaching so far back into the immovable rocket turrets whose lethal explosives I replaced with a payload of water. Not that she saw anything past the maze like start that is, "You have my permission to try and survive this test."

So she entered, and rounded the first corner, where a turret was waiting for her, "I see you." the white tripod mounted white curved frame of the turret said, pointing at her with the laser pointer emerged from its eye, slowly its wing like sides unfolded as Amber looked at it in confusion.

"You may want to move." Glados commented.

Smartly, she rolled back where she came as a hail of rubber rounds flew through the space she had been occupying only seconds before.

"Searching." The turret said aloud, the red beam that was now present, scanning across the narrow hallway, she loaded one of her crossbows, "What is that thing?"

"An Aperture Science Modified Testing Sentry Turret designed to fire non-lethal rounds with extreme prejudice." Glados added a sarcastic quip, "Of course, I say non-lethal rounds with heavily applied sarcasm. Or do I?"

"Already I'm starting to dislike you."

"That will be noted on your official testing record." came the snarked quip in reply.

She edged herself forward, waiting for the red line to scan the opposite side of the hallway before spinning out of cover and shooting a crossbow bolt at the turret, it bounced off, but the impact did its job, and Amber only had to duck back within the safety of her own hallway as the turret fired off sporadically on its side before going into hibernation with a sad little, "I don't hate you."

It wasn't to say that I wasn't without my own learning from the experience, as Amber tried the hardest she could to get through the ever growing complex of dangerous avenues and targets that were often in positions that required her to take increasingly unusual avenues of approach. Though she wasn't without her own flaws, an hour passed before she stopped, and her armor was in rags, rubber bullets having broke the remainder of it apart, and she was soaked from head to toe in water when she was trying to avoid the rocket turrets, who quickly found their worth as being immune to any efforts to tip them over by even her heaviest of crossbows.

"Congratulations, you quit faster than any test subject on record, and judging from the state of your armor alone, for poor reasons too. Maybe you can find yourself a new set of armor from the lizard-horde of glorified metals and replace that poor excuse of whats left of a rag. Though judging from your apearance, you may have to resize them for your... generousness "

Amber shook a fist at the camera wearily, "Ya callin' me fat!?"

"The term 'generousness' is not the same as 'fat' but if that is what you wish to believe, so be it." Glados replied, tone of voice indicating that she didn't care much for which word that was used.

I chuckled to myself, over the course of the hour I had completed both simple props and was waiting for the first coat of paint to dry on two new masks before doing a touch up. I cleaned up my mess, leaving only what I needed, and disposing what I couldn't use from the remainder scraps of foam into an incinerator. It was about time I cleaned myself up, though. And that meant a shower. I went from my bedroom to my own bathroom, a benefit of being able to construct a base anyway I wanted it, was that meant everyone could have their own bloody bathrooms and water heaters. It always irked me in hotels how the water would often be either hot enough to cook a crab, or cold enough that sometimes I think they could form hail in mid air.

I chuckled, as I ran the shower, slowly prying off my clothes one by one until it was just me, the mask upon my face, and the slowly fogging mirror which decorated one wall of the bathroom. Well, for the moment of truth, what was behind the mask. I reached up, and undid the knots holding it to my face. Grabbing it by the front, and it took a surprising amount of force to pull it away, as though duct tape was attaching it to my face. But what was weirder, was that, when the mask moved away from my face, my vision went with it. I opened my mouth to gasp, but I didn't feel my jaw, the mask itself moved in a paradox in its place. For as I stood looking into the mirror upon my body I had no face, and I must scream.

A.O.K. Quest System: Where powers are gained for completing objectives!

Congratulations Puppet Master, you have acquired (7) new Achievements! Keep the good work up! Be sure to check your A.O.K. Computer regularly for regular updates as your journey progresses!

Quest Completed: Proposal of Puppets: You've been training yourself, we see. Well such acts of mastery and staying in character are no easy feat.
Rewards: Marionette can now be stored in your own personal hammer-space and controlled via mind.

Quest Completed: Summons Make Strange Bedfellows: You've acquired your first summon. Be sure to call them wisely
Rewards: Several puppets can be summoned enmass around you, but at the cost of making them weaker than normal. this allows you to bypass the normal limit, though the more there are, the weaker each one becomes and the harder it is to coordinate.

Quest Completed: Token-Book: You've submitted your first token, this allows other people to summon you if you're worthy! As a result you may have visits from beings of dimensional universes. Beware!
Rewards: +100% more attention from god like figures.

Quest Completed: Prop Broker: You've made your first few props, and as a result, your mastery of your craft has increased.
Rewards: You can now control a total of (8) Puppets normally at once.

Quest Completed: Shocking Truth: You've gotten a look at yourself, how horrifying, at least your skin isn't paper white, and your not in a black suit.
Rewards: Mask Face: your face can be removed and placed on other things, what this will do however, is unknown.

Quest Completed: Upper Limit(1): You now control five or more puppets at once normally, as a result you've unlocked new abilities. See the advanced training segments for more information.
Reward: Puppetry basic Defense abilities program unlocked.

Quest Completed: No place like home: You've built yourself an actual evil lair, congrats, now do some evil plotting or something you lazy thing.
Reward: Lair maintenance no longer requires your concentration, it is now automatically processed via your subconscious.

The Firs- Wait what?

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I had the blessing that at least my scream wasn't enough to be heard from the elevator Amber was in. A statement to the growing lair's sheer size as I dwelled within my bathroom, staring in horror from the viewpoint of the mask in my hand. This wasn't real was it? How was I alive?

I bit myself. and winced, dropping my face. Double ow. Yep not a dream, I was still connected to my body, that was for sure at least. Though it was hard finding my face with blind hands when I had landed face first into the tiled flooring. Once I had picked it up, I reattached it to my face again, finding panic mixed with relief as my body and face were rejoined, tying the strings back into place. How else did my body change? I scanned myself over, five toes on each foot? Check. Nothing growing out of my back? Check. Magnificent mess of raven colored hair? Check.

I sighed, maybe something else internal then, though I wouldn't dare go there. I was no scientist or doctor. Heck I wasn't even a full time employee at my own job back on earth. It was better to just not dwell on it, right Xander? I groaned,feeling my lungs exhale through my mask's mouth. How did it do that? I didn't know. Don't dwell on it.

My shower took longer than I expected, a busy mind left a busy body. Exiting from underneath the hot water only after the bathroom was full of steam, and everything had been rubbed clean. I ran my clothes through a light cleaning, sticky tape and steam to be more precise, surprisingly enough, there wasn't much dirt on it after the past few days. In my clothes place was an orange and white trimmed attire of a classic jumpsuit mixed with a hoodie and gloves, couldn't really afford to wear any less, else I expose how... Alien... I was in this world. Though I had already liked baggy loose fitting clothes in general.

Distractions, distractions, distractions... I started extending the growing network of aperture underground towards the nearby village of Ponyville. Needed more distraction, I went to my workshop, and began to work on an new project. it still wasn't enough, had to keep working, a busy mind meant a busy body. Puppets got pulled into being, masks on as they helped me with the project, the extra hands of three puppets accelerating the project immensely, it was enough.

A flurry of activity, and several new props were made before I stopped, the sound of talking, no where near where I was, but still close enough. The voice of a foal muffled through the dirt as the tunnel itself had progressed, squeaky yet firm, "Ugh, I can't believe her! This is the eighth time in a row that my sister canceled on us due to work!"

"Ya can't really help it 'Belle." a young country twang responded, "Even Applejack has a lot of work to do before fall comes, it's nothin' personal."

"She's been too busy since spring though, can you really tell me that your sister is so busy that she can't even come to the sister-hooves social tomorrow. We've waited for months to be able to attend that."

A third, tomboyish voice entered the conversation, "At least you have sisters, me and Rainbow aren't allowed to compete together do to the rule being sisters only."

"True Scoots." Applebloom apologized, "Well it seems like its goin' to be another borin' game, darn shame. Was hopin' to see at least one of my friends compete against me this year."

"Well we could always try our luck at running our own competition instead Sweet's." Scootaloo said excitedly, "Get our cutiemarks in game making!"

"I think I'll pass." Sweetie replied, downtrodden.

"Ah promised ma sister we'd hang out tomorrow." Applebloom also shot down the idea, "Besides we've tried that last month with making a board game..."

"I still don't understand what was wrong with using a hundred sided die in order to move across a board of ten thousand spaces." Scootaloo remarked.

"Ah think it had more to do with the fact we all kept rolling a one over and over again and all the cards were unbalanced as that statue in Canterlot."

The fillies wandered out of earshot and I was left both bemused and concerned. Alright, so things weren't going canonically. Sister hooves social wasn't supposed to happen until after nightmare night. Nor did I recall Rarity being busy during it, but rather her calling it 'Uncouth' and refusing to go until she got into an argument with her sister due to it. Well it did give me an opportunity to use one of my villains in the stockpile...

I picked up one of the newly made masks, and prepared myself to leave, it was time. Well time for the first lesson anyway. And after putting it on, it would take less than a few seconds of manipulation through the stream of time in order to reach the home of Rarity, even if I had to search the whole town first in order to find that unique residence of the villages number one fashionista.

"Wouldn' do dat if I wer' you." an brutish voice echoed throughout the room, "Ye ain't the only one in da world who would take note o' da manipulation."

I searched around the room rapidly, but the source was evident enough, there was a void rift similar to the one I had thrown my trinket into. Only instead of throwing something in, or a trinket coming out, I was looking at the disembodied head of a green, bald mostly humanoid face, which had an massive underbite and a pair of tusks jutting out from it and up to its jagged, almost comically large nose. In other words, I was looking at an orc.

"Dat's an Ork to ye, with an K, not an C." The green-skin grumbled, as though reading my thoughts. "It's Cause I am." He replied again, and I shook myself back into a cohesive state.

"An actual Ork? Like from 40k?" I questioned, feeling rather stuipd when he nodded, pulling the rest of himself out though the portal, now that I had full view of him, he was indeed, dressed in the atypical crude red heavy metal armors and cybernetic enhancements of a warboss, towering too. Considering he had to crouch by the time he was fully in the room, however he lacked an iron jaw across his face, his most noticeable feature being from a scar that resided on his jagged nose, that curled right beneath his right eye.

"The same, Skargor Duffwort's the name. Unoffical ork god of Time and Waargh starting. Friend's call me Skart 'cause it sounds like fart." he chuckled, holding out a massive hand that looked like it would crush my rib cage with ease, let alone my hand.

I reluctantly accepted, bracing myself for the probability of a broken arm, "Xander, Puppet Master and Storyteller of Tragedies."

Surprisingly, he was quite firm, yet not bone breakingly so. Though It was getting absurd with dealing with the massive Ork in my bedroom, "So, uh, what are you doing here?"

"Ah, Straigh' to the point, you." he chuckled again, "Refreshingly so in fact. I got your message from da mask ya sen' out, and I decided to check and see who ya were. Hard worker true and true, my ol' mek boyz would just love to have a go at your craftin' supplies..." He paused for a moment, forgetting where he was before realizing, "Ah, for da reason I am here, it'd be a shame if the same thin' happened to you as it has happened to me and ma boyz."

He frowned at me, or what I assumed was a frown, it looked more like a terrifying war face to me from where I was, "You wanted to use chornomancy when the major sources on this world for tha' particular blend of magic are on your enemies side."


Skart did an deadpann, "They ain't called the princesses of the night and day for nothin' ya know. Usin' tha' sort of magic when their domain is over it would be like..." He paused, searching for the right expression, "Rolling a one while inside the deepest portion of a necron tomb at trying to not wake them up."

I winced, getting the memo. Necrons were a rather brutal synthetic race whose infantry units were famous for being able to fry other factions most advanced tanks to inoperable state in one shot."So if I want to use magic that affects time, I should do so only when I have enough strength in which to challenge the sisters?"

"Almos' exactly." He nodded, "That and to tell ye, though you probably already know, this ain't the timeline from da show ya been rambling on about, and your planned lessons would go up in smokes."

My turn to look incredulous, "How do you kno-" Wait, he was a time god, of course he did, "You read my future..."

He nodded, "Tryin' to show them each villains past from da get go is going to make it all fall on deaf ears, the next plan you make, however..." he shut his eyes and nodded slowly, "Mhmmmm.... yes. That works quite nicely, given a little push."

"Push what?" I asked, was he having a conversation with me, or without me?

He started grumbling to himself, "Hmm... So many pathes he could go down, but none are definite. But there are certain things here..." He looked to me, "You wanted to become a big villain eventually, correct?"

He didn't even give me a chance to respond, as he continued rambling while tracing metal scribbles into my newly made floor, "of course he does, not exactly warboss material but... Oh, theres a little..." He looked back to me, "You're a very interesting fellow, you know that? Certainly not universal conquest like my place, but the futures, you could hold would still make my battle brother, Fork, laugh with delight."

I deadpanned, "You conquered your universe?"

He shrugged, "Accidently started an Ork Warrgh, and won."

My deadpan nearly broke as an eye threatened to twitch, "you started an Warrgh. In your Universe, and won?"

His grin grew wider, "How did ya think I became an god, boy. Apparently it's what happens when a warboss conquers everythin'. Though now it be all borin' with nothin' left to fight but a few last dregs of pony imperial forces scattered throughout the worlds, but its pretty much Ork land now."

I sighed, "Continuing on... What did you mean by a 'little push'?"

He grinned, "You're goin' to need to master three arts if your goin' to want to succeed in this here world boy," he held out three fingers, each one dressed up differently, a barbarian,a vampire, and a... smiley face?

"Combat experience, outside of those pesky little masks that is." he waggled his barbarian clad finger, "The ability to drain magic into your own body, rather than a puppet medium." He waggled his second finger, "And lastly, a group of friends in evil." he waggled the smiley face finger most energetically.

Now that got a chuckle out of me, "Because Friendship~" I twanged, and Skart rolled his eyes before joining in, both of us completely out of place in this world but tunes matching perfectly, "Is magic."

we laughed for a solid minute before he said, "Enough, as amusing of an boy you are, there is one book your going to need to find as soon as possible. Search the castle of two sisters, particularly underneath the library, and below the dungeons. That is all I can reveal without mucking about your time stream too much."

I nodded, It was a common trope in television shows back home that involved time travel. It was a common theme that giving away too much of the future could wreck the timeline entirely as a different outcome occurred instead of the proper one. I had been hoping to be able to use the mask I had made as a definitive advantage over everyone else through the rather unique abilities of that particular villain. However, with this new information, I'd need to rethink my plans entirely.

He continued on, "Now with the know-how I have given you, I know, someday, you'll return the favor. In the meantime..." He stepped back into the void portal, "I bid you a cheerful blood filled slaughter, I have to tend to my universe before another blood feud between warbosses start. Later." and he left, leaving behind a... blood stained axe... as his token. Well, that thing is going under the bed... I sighed, and turned back to my workshop. Alright, maybe I couldn't teach them a series of lessons as I had planned for them, but that meant more leeway I think. Well, perhaps some mischief could be managed in the meantime.

But first things first. What was under the ruined castle of the two sisters?

Trees and Statues

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Braving the Everfree forest was possibly both the stupidest and at the same time, wisest course of action for me to take. Something I had to remind myself constantly as these damned wooden mutts kept reforming and attacking me. It was getting more and more frustrating as wooden puppets wrestled masses of non unified twigs, that were acting similarly to that of a wooden tornado as they raked and clawed their ways into my puppets, pinning each one I made with two or three of their own. I was in the deeper woods and foolishly, I had tried going alone.

Yet another set of howls, the third set signifying yet another incoming pack of wooden mongrels that was driving me to my last nerve, the temptations just to set the forest aflame was growing every second, but I withheld the urge. It was too cluttered, and the last thing I needed was a forest fire burning out of control to draw attention to myself.

That, however, didn't mean I was left with no options. I grit my teeth as I scrambled away from yet another set of hungry fangs and claws, my long coat already torn in several places, and it was only pure luck that I hadn't suffered worse, I threw a card between me and the wolf, expanding it and running up it. It was clear to me that there was no hope in defeating every single timber wolf to cross my path. I'd be here all day and make no progress!

I flicked out cards left and right, cutting wooden heads cleanly in two, however whatever magic drove these beasts refused to let them die as the line failed to be anything but that on their bodies. It was truly wondrous to be able to use tools and magic of characters I've only ever got to watch as a kid growing up, that said however, these timber wolves were making hard to not force me to burn down part of the forest. That and they were surrounding me. Cursing, I set out several cards ahead of me, leaping from one to the other as I ran to get myself airborne.

There was a clash of wood under me as the wolves collided with each other and I couldn't help but grin like a smug jerk as I slowed down and peered between cards that I was on. Yep, they were still down there, and circling by the looks of it. I trudged onwards, towards the distant ruins. Each card costed some effort on my part, but it was sustainable as long as I moved one card at a time and kept walking. While moving the card with me on it would be preferable, my track record for skate boarding was terrible.

My mind still had mental scarring from my lack of balance on those damned wheeled contraptions.

the growling and howling below realerted me to my current situation, but it was for naught, I couldn't get rid of these wooden wolves without risk to setting the forest itself ablaze, if I recalled correctly, they were clever creatures who could rebuild themselves from the trees around them, which made fighting them in a forest rather daunting task for someone who had to build their own powers like myself. I'd have to hope that the ruined castle of the two sisters would be sparse of wood that they could use to rebuild. Though at least from the air, I had a lot less to worry about.

Or so I thought.

I barely regained my footing as a log rammed my card from underneath, toppling me over to the point where I had to fall onto another card and roll onto another a few feet down. Looking down I saw that the timberwolves were far from done messing with me, they had combined into a much much larger wolf and were spitting logs out of its mouth like ammunition. I sent a card into its mouth, slicing through some of the other incoming chunks of wood and into its throat. Causing it to cough and gag as wood started to jam itself against the obstruction. Sure I lost a card in the process, but it was worth it to see the large beast cough itself to pieces.

Though as I kept moving it didn't stay like that for long. The normal sized timberwolves were reconstructing themselves out of the pieces of the larger, and already they were resuming chase. It was half an hour of cat and mouse before I reached the large chasm separating the dark crumbling spires of the sisters castle. But luckily for me it seemed, the bridge was out again. meaning while I could cross, the timberwolves had no such luck with a gap far too wide for them to jump.

The castle itself was massive, even in its ruined state. While Canterlot's castle might of been impressive in its stature and as radiant as Celestia, the castle of two sisters must of been much much bigger at some point, and its darker stones made me suspect that it was once designed after princess Luna, or nightmare moon instead. Though in its crumbling state, Its sheer size probably had been reduced to its most basic flooring, and probably, as I was here, its basement.

The smell of mold and fungus welcomed me as I entered the castle, rugs and tapestries worn down by both the sun and sporadic weather of the everfree forest. I was surprised by the lack of actual wildlife within its halls. I would of expected at least some sort of monster or beast to have taken up residence within the crumbling ruins, but it was just that, ruins. No biological economy to keep such a thing within a dead stone hall fortress that composed the castle of the two sisters. Though the sheer size of what remained of the castle was still nothing to be overlooked. If anything I could probably spend days if not weeks within the castle and still not of explored every room.

But it wasn't every room that I needed to explore, just the basement, which meant finding a way down there. Down meant either finding a staircase, or the more likely collasped portion of flooring that lead to below. But it wasn't just there I should explore, that I took note of as I passed by the castles library, full of growing mold and dusty old books. I'd try to spend some time finding something of use later, considering the sheer quantity of tomes and ancient knowledge that would be there if any of it was still readable. But first things first.

The Ork had said that there was something in the basement, but my mind wandered to that point. Whatever had happened, I had met an Ork from the warhammer 40k universe, and was dwelling in a universe made originally for little girls as an alternate reality. The scope of the concept was shocking, really, I had to wonder what the others would think of this situation, if my friends were worried about my disappearance or what they would think about it. But if things like my little pony resulted in a universe like this, wouldn't that mean that all fictional universes were real to some extent? My brain hurt at that.

It took an hour to find the stairway down, and half an hour to clear away the rubble that had collected on it after a probable thousand years of careless abandon. From my base I had to light the way up with portal technology in order to traverse the otherwise pitch black dungeon with aperture brand work lights as I continued downward. The most immediately noticable thing was that a large number of statues, similar to those that decorated the gardens of Canterlot, dwelled here, though if they had been created by hoof, petrified by a cockatrice, or the elements of harmony doing this, I did not know. All I did know was that they all had various expressions of sheer horror and anguish plastered onto their faces. A chill was crawling up my spine, and with it, my paranoia. Cards that earlier allowed me to traverse the sky became barriers, circling around me as I trodded through puddles of rain water that had leaked in from above.

I had entered a chamber, one large enough to carry the largest of blimps back home if it had been above ground. But it wasn't, and instead of a blimp, several layers of platforms decorated either side of the large Colosseum, filled with countless statues. In the center dwelled a large pile of molted skin and the stench of decay. Something had died here recently, and from the looks of it, a giant snake. Across the room I could see a faint doorway, barely visible in the ever present gloom, and it took two shots to convene a portal across the distance. It lead to a study, to my surprise, a small room with merely a desk and rotted leather chair. Only two shelves worth of books decorated above the ancient table, and with this, a single statue of a bearded stallion lay, frozen in mid sentence as yet another stone statue. I gently pulled the book away from the statue, and flipped back a few pages to find that the incomplete chapter was on petrification. Quietly I leaned forward and read into its entries.

Journal of S.S.

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Entry 320, Date:4/21/ 50 After Discord.

Petrification magic originally has come form the basilisk. Extensive research has shown its effects to be far more potent than any other source thus far, lasting upwards towards 800 years if recent geological surveys are to be believe, however, they had been hunted to near extinction due to the same magic that originally made them so deadly. But I am getting ahead of myself.

A basilisk, at its core, is a snake that is hatched from a chickens egg placed beneath a frog. As a result it is highly illegal to try and breed these creatures, and the reason why animal caretakers can't have both living in the same residence or nearby, and also the reason they have a sterilization spell applied before being sold in this day and age. However, despite this, animal caretakers often are found guilty of attempting to hatch and raise such a creature, as the basilisk is no ordinary snake as I said prior.

To put it bluntly, snakes have always registered their ancestries to dragons, and the closest representation to this is the creature in question, capable of petrifying entire armies in an instant with its gaze and slashing them to ribbons with its massive bulk. One instance has confirmed that the gaze of a full grown basilisk could even turn their dragon ancestors into stone, though the origin of the magic lies within where the dragons innate magic would ordinarily be. The snake sacrifices limbs,and adds to length, while disabling flight and the fire gland, in exchange, the snake grows remarkably faster and its magic, without a conduit to a fire gland, starts changing into what we know as its deadly gaze. However, the last known case was hunted down rather recently as a combination of a specifically trained set of guards, Celestia, Luna, and myself of course.

While we were unable to capture the specimen alive, it was left intact under its own spell after it surrendered. Though before that point it had cut down three young mature dragons, forty guardsmen, and nearly petrified princess Celestia herself. As I understand it, the snake shall remain there, as its own self destruction was strong enough to crack any attempts to break it down. This will be researched later by my assistant while I deal with the issue this spell source was assigned. However, biological evidence suggests that the snake was over eight hundred years old and still hasn't reached the halfway point in its lifespan.

While there is a weaker species I could experiment with, Celestia has charged with with creating an imprisonment for the more fearsome members of the world. She and I have both agreed that sending every damned powerhouse to Tartarus where they could eventually get the numbers to cause an apocalypse, would be... Well. Stupid. That and paired with the Discords defeat to the elements of harmony, has given sway for an idea of imprisonment that has no chance of escape until the subject breaks free of their own bodily causes at the same time of their release date. The spell research for the safety of our future rests on this.

More when I have begun this research in proper.

Well it made sense, by why was this buried here? I turned to the next entry, poring over the knowledge contained within.

Entry 321, Date:6/21/ 50 After Discord.

With the express permission of Princess Celestia we have hatched a Basilisk in a contained environment in the deepest recesses of her castle. The main throne room has temporarily been moved to the main hallway above as we proceed to examine the growth and development of his abilities. Even as a baby they aren't to be toyed with or pampered, and we take it upon ourselves to wear enchanted eyewear in order to resist even the slightest effects of the snake at this age. However, it will be months before I can take a sample of the venomous glare itself. But my assistant has taken to training the snake while I create increasingly stronger methods to keep it in bay so it doesn't accidentally end up killing us.

I do have concerns about the princesses as of late, though. Celestia hasn't told Luna of what I am doing, and bade me not to tell her for some reason. I accepted her terms after a relentless buggering by the white and pink swan of a pony. I do not feel it is right to keep a secret from Luna, considering one of the elements of harmony is honesty after all. But I trust that she knows what she is doing.

Anyway, I have been working on a cure to petrification for the victims of past transgressions by such magical creatures. The first results seem promising, as we are now able to revert ponies who have been only partially locked in stone, and created an new type of magic, golem making, for those with more intensive stone related conversions to move with at least some functionality while we figure out how to cure the higher forms of pertrification. Once the basilisk has grown to a teenage state, I believe, we will be able to start trying the statues themselves, with proper medical personal of course.

Until such results come in,

-S. S.

The next several pages were full of different complex mathematics that I didn't bother to try and figure out, it was unicorn magic and I wasn't a unicorn. However, there was innumerable scratch out, each equation leading to a crudely drawn symbol of a skull next to the result. Another chill crept up my spin as I read the next entry.

Entry 322, Date:3/9/ 56 After Discord

Surprise surprise, its been six years already... I'm reaching the end of my life, already was seventy years old by the time I started writing this experiment, and its only been one bad set of news after another. while the basilisk has been properly trained, and its eyes are covered on a daily basis, there is a major problem to address in the formula. One that can't be reversed on mortal ponies. The fact that the vital organs that contain the pony shuts down as it turns completely into inanimate stone.

Every spell I tried, every spell I tested, I even forgone my original research into the elements of harmony for the answer to this damned spell but every time it is the same. A statue from hundreds of years ago crumbles to ash, a skeleton remained from one ten years ago, and a pony, frozen just a month before by a cockatrice, turned to mush before decaying into a foul pile of what used to be someone. The only ones who haven't had an adverse effect to these methods have been the few immortal organisms that we have been able to uncover. A centaur god named Tirek, for example was moved from a stone prison to Tartarus after he was deemed to have gone mad after Faust knows how long locked in stone. It seems even immortals have an negative effect to being locked away in stone.

Meanwhile things in the castle have gotten worse, Luna had been growing more and more recluse over the years, and rumors have started to spread. Complete lies of course, but one can only imagine how she must feel. I keep urging Celestia to talk to her sister, and include her in things, and my assistant has split her schedule between tending to the sisters and Venomfang, the key subject of our experiments. I've tried contacting Celestia about the results, but she keeps replying the same thing in all my letters, 'Good job, keep working!' As much as I want to confront her about this, she already strictly forbade me to talk about it in public until it was ready for use.

My scribe seems to have been busy, as well. As she has developed a spell to safely extract the core components of the snakes deadly gaze by use of a spell she invented to temporarily swap minds and bodies with it. I'll write again when there is an update.


Wait what?! Ponies who were petrified died? I flipped to the next page, but the entry wasn't finished, and it was in a haphazard scrawl as well. the implications in my mind were reeling as I slowly realized what I had walked past.

There is no time to write a date, its just the next day. I can't believe I didn't see this coming, Celestia's absence of content in her letters, and my scribes increasing competency in controling the snake, it isn't just some temporary mind swap shes performing, its the blackest of magics. Now that I know this she is no doubt planning on killing me with the damn thing in the other room. I need to let Celestia know the effects. Luna flew into a rage after learning what we were doing with the snake over the past months, all of Celestias secrets came crashing down on her and they are amid a war while Lunas' army comes down here to capture the largest secret itself to expose her sister.

Goddess damn they don't know what they are walking into, Lumiere Belle has complete control over the snake as well as her own body now, and all evidence of the failures, and death have been erased. I should of expected this ever since I met her. Where did it go so wrong? She was my apprentice from the seventh volume of my work, and has aided me since the yellow book three up has gotten its place in the archives. Well she'll never find those damned jewels she craved. Nor my finished spells. Not until

The rest of the book was blank, a black smear running down where the rest of it would of been. I looked to the owner, who was petrified, in mid writing and my eyes widened, this statue... I checked the front of the book.

Mysteries and Magic, 19th Edition
By Starswirl the bearded, Demon-slayer.

By the goddesses it was him. Starswirl himself. He had been betrayed, and murdered in his own study. I reeled in shock. This was the stallion who had his own wing dedicated to him? Who was on the verge of completing a spell that would later turn Twilight into an Alicorn? I resisted the urge to grab the statue and take it for later, instead focusing on his last words. he mentioned a book, though why would he mention that and a general location for it. Three up, meant three what? Three floors? No, the floor above was the ground floor and the one above that was gone mostly. I looked to the room around me, there was still just his desk, the statue of him, and the shelf of books. Wait.

I checked the shelf out, Three up... Check... There was only three levels of the shelf, and the yellow book? There was a faded one, too moldy to read but I tugged on it anyway, and was met with a click and a hiss as the shelf came with it.

What I saw inside, was surprising to say the least, but at least I knew why the Ork had sent me here once I saw it.

A Villain vs A Murderer

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There inside the shelf was a collection of objects. A mask, that was decorated in an almost tribal fashion. A Staff, of which was gnarled and twisted with a series of orbs that still hovered around it intact, and what could only be described as a red crystal heart the size of a ponies head. alongside it was a book, perfectly kept within its prison. I conjured a portal and transfered the statuefied starswirl and the rest of the rooms contents back into base before exiting, it could be investigated later, when I came back, but I wanted out of this creepy place, and to check out the library on the first floor before I left.

That's when I noticed that the pile of molted snakeskin had moved. Starswirls words came back to my mind. A basilisk could survive to reach ages far beyond the range of a thousand six hundred, and this journal, no doubt, had been written right before the fall of Nightmare Moon. What had his assistant, no murderer, done over that time? Judging from the ponies petrified in stone around the large chamber, I was about to find out.

I shut my eyes, instead focusing on seeing through the eyes of my puppets as I called them to me, all the while slipping the mask I had intended for Rarity over another puppets head. A metallic framwork with a bandaged underside covering up the wooden puppet before it transfused itself with three glowing blue lights over its tan color scheme. Nox, villain from wakfu. Tragic loss of family over his obsession with the elia cube. Master of the time magic of the Xelors, and particularly skilled in draining magic from others in his attempts to fix his own clock.

My vision shifted to Aku, Undisputed being whos origin comes from a source of absolute evil, united a massive portion of the galaxy under his rule by crushing his opposition, resulting in only small revolts and gang operations as opposed to intergalactic warfare that would've be inevitable in the future had he not united the nations under one empire. He made the difficult choices for his good and ill and suffered through the consequences.

Then there was the support of the group, GLaDOS, also known as Caroline, who was experimented on against her will and turned into the robotic monotonous device that had been too smart for her own good. They attached intelligence dampening spheres to try and slow her down but it only ended up getting all the scientists killed in the end while she had full accessibility to Aperture science. All of this was as a large singular line slowly rose up, beginning to fold, then the two serpent eyes opened. I flinched, even through the gaze of another those all but flaming yellow eyes were terrifying slits. I dare not open my own eyes, instead relying on the fact that GLaDOS was made of metal, and unaffected, and that Aku was immune to such an effort. Nox, however, I had to advert his gaze. Already a plan was in motion, and I would just have to stall the giant snake long enough for it to start working.

I'd have to hope this Lumiere was a conversationalist. I spoke up loudly, addressing the giant literal snake in the room, "You Must be Starswirl the bearded's killer." I stated, a cold clarity I didn't know I had in me, taking over my voice, my own eyes still shut tight as the basilisk took notice of me and my puppets.

"And what, are you....?" The snake hissed, slithering out of its pile of shed skin, its' forked tongue lashing out and in, no doubt tasting the air, he slithered out and around, surrounding us, "Sssomething equine? No, the scent of pony isn't on you..."

"I am no pony, yes it's true," I agreed, my voice barely not cracking into disgust, but instead taking the voice of a cold poet, "But you are no snake, that I know. Lumiere."

"How did you..." the snake looked momentarily surprised, before it realized, "Ah, you read the booksss, no?"

My tone was level as I watched small blue dots of light land on the snakes back from behind, mere insects in size, but their true purpose much more potent as a result, "Yes, I even read up to the point where you murdered your master. Why?"

I asked her, and she just chuckled, it was ghastly to listen to, her response was enraging, however, "Why because of three reasonsss."

The response of his was delayed, and I waited to hear them but nearly didn't have time to respond as the snake lunged forward, fangs bared, and my shields rose, A dozen cards that hid me from view and scattered, his sight of me lost as I vanished into one of my creations. My dolls scattered in opposite directions, Aku taking the form of a giant honey badger as Nox continued his preparations. It was going to take a lot of energy that I didn't have in order to stop something as large of this, more energy than that I had. But it wasn't going to be my energy that fueled the effort.

I exited from my card, standing on top of it as it slowed down in the air, "And those reasons are?" I asked, a disgruntled edge entering my voice, and the snake whipped its head fast enough around that I was surprised it didn't get whiplash.

"Firssst," The snake awnsered, lunging for me again, and missing as I vanished behind another hand worth of cards and scattered, "The Massster is alwayssss succeeded by their apprentice."

"And that means murdering them to you?" I remarked sarcastically adding in, "Didn't seem like that at all."

The snake of Lumiere searched for me with its gaze, hissing as Aku grappeled with it, trying to hold it down to no avail. The snake lunged, burying its fangs in the giant black imitation of a honey badger. Aku didn't care, he was a puppet that was immune to such things as poisoning, and with his ability to change shape, biting him was an even worse error. Aku filled its mouth, forcing it open as more and more flooded within it. a small torrent of poisonous liquids splashing down like a fire-hose left on as the snake was forced to eject Aku out of its mouth or suffocate.

The poison had an unexpected affect on Akus body, however, slowly his large mass was turning to stone where it touched, silently I cursed, withdrawing the doll and salvaging the mask back into my base. Now it was just me, Nox, and GLaDOS vs the giant snake, but luckily I only needed a few more moments. Blue gel splashed out of an newly opened portal, knocking the snake off its guard as suddenly its coated mid section began bouncing off everything it touched, throwing the snake off balance as it lurched sideways and threw its next bite off course that if I had been the side of a large barn, it would of missed entirely regardless.

It hissed as it adjusted itself to look at the coated part of itself, and I felt myself smirking as an message bleeped out in an familiar voice, "Hey y'all, I have a message from my scientists for if you got covered in the repulsion gel, 'do not get covered in the repulsion gel'. We aren't exactly sure what element its made of yet, but its a lively one, and it does not agree with the skeleton."

The snake hissed, looking for where the voice came from, failing to find it, it lunged towards me again. This time I vanished into a portal, and reappeared on the opposite side, as the snake crashed into a wall, sending the entire room rumbling from the force of impact. Causing several statues to tip over, and large cracks to appear on one of the walls, I was given an excellent momentary gaze over the snakes backside, which was now covered in blue mechanical dots, and I smirked, it was time. As the snake turned around and lunged I snapped my fingers. For I know, emphasis.

Nox's magic came into play as the snake was frozen in mid air. Lumieres own energy being rapidly drained to keep up the process of a psuedo time stop. With it, the snakes magic stopped stone cold, and I could now look into the eyes of the snake without being petrified. Slowly I walked up to the airborne fanged menace and bemused to myself, "You're probably wondering why you can't move, if you are wondering at all."

Elsewhere I found a mirror with a mechanical arm, and polished it, preparing it for the end of my speech, "This is a time spell, used by an inventor who is called by the shortened version of his name, Nox." I gestured to the dressed up doll who I had maintaining the spell, a massive amount of energy flooding through him from the snake and back out to the maintained spell, "The interesting thing about Nox, he became a villain from a rather tragic set of circumstances in his world that caused the indirect death of his beloved family because he was just a little too obsessed with a blue magic cube that was of his studies. He spent the remainder of his extended life trying to drain enough energy to rewind time and fix his own futures clock, but to no avail. Hundreds of years of gathering and he only rewound time by twenty minutes with all that he had collected."

The snake alternated his glance from me to Nox, as if trying to will itself to move, it didn't. I answered his unspoken question, "You're probably wondering why I am telling you this, well, time moves forward as it doesn't move backward, actions done in the past cannot be undone by the present. That includes criminal charges like murdering your teacher and employers."

The snakes eyes looked at me with contempt, and I continued, "But, I am not a man of the law, or prosecution, nor are we part of an assigned government, so you do not have to fear jail. No, but I am a man much worse to deal with as a result. I am a villain, a villain who teaches the lessons of tragedy, and as such I only have two rules. The first, is to only use villains of tragic origins. The second? Well, that makes the difference between you and me, a lesson after all is wasted upon a corpse, but judging from what you told Celestia... Being petrified isn't death, now isn't it?"

That got a look of shock out of her, and I smirked, Lumieres struggles continued, "Good thing you're a snake as well, heavens forbid I be petrifying a pony instead of a monster." I commented idly as a portal opened, with it coming a pair of mirrors modified into a giant pair of goggles that had been made with a piece of metal that was heated and bended into the proper shape. Once it was on, no matter which way she faced, she would be looking into her own gaze, and the best part about snakes? They had no eyelids to obstruct the sight.

Once it was secured, Nox released his magic, and a deafening yell filled the cavern, it was a hissed shriek of the word 'No' as the snake thrashed, its own magic turned upon itself as the drained snakes own reflected gaze petrified it. I watched with a mixture of morbid curiosity as vengeance and justice for a moment worked in tandem with each other as the snake thrashed, slowly turning into stone.

I took a moment to appreciate my handy work, before leaving. I wasn't going to risk sticking around to see if anything or more precisely anypony else showed up from that massive use of power, my mind had gone numb, now that the adrenaline had worn off, from managing all the energy Nox was acting as a conduit for, as well as plenty of other questions that had arisen since I had entered this damned castle. It was time for a rest, and perhaps dinner before I went back to planning. I left a camera in the main room, in case I needed to revisit the area for one reason or another, and left.

Eavesdropping and preparations

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Predictably first thing I had left, a certain pair of sisters arrived ten minutes too late for what had happened. The ork had warned against the use of Nox and his time magic but at the time there would of been little other choice in dealing with the snake, retreat wasn't an option back then, not when countless victims have been murdered as a result of Lumiere. It made me wonder, however, if Celestia actually learned of the truth regarding petrification. I had, however, deserved a break after the tense battle. So I did not intervene, at least not yet. Instead I worked on fixing up Aku's mask, removing the damaged materials and working on replacing them as I watched the two sisters look around, failing to spot the cameras I had posted in the deeper alcoves of the giant room.

It took some doing but I managed to hear them as they spoke, the first was Luna, looking unsettled at the army of statues as well as the giant snake itself, "Are you sure this is where the source was detected, sister?"

Celestia nodded, her own gaze sweeping across the room, "Yes sister, it was a disturbance that should cause us both great alarm. Time magic that hasn't come from either of us on a larger scale than the typical unicorn."

"But as you can see sister," Luna spoke, "There is no one here but our army that awaits locked in time for its freedom."

More like a graveyard, but I declined to comment, Celestia spoke quietly, "Soon, dear sister, after all, Discord has just managed to release himself so recently, I am sure your own friends will make their own escape, as shown by Starswirls research those many years ago."

So they didn't know, interesting. Either that or Celestia was hiding the fact that the snake had caused countless murders. Neither was entirely sure, it did call for confrontation, however, if handled right it could lead to a divide between the two sisters. But that sort of plan would have to come later, when Luna was alone and out of the castle... My mind returned to the thoughts of Nightmare Night, and I grinned.

Of course in my planning, I had also forgot that I had left one detail forgotten, the dozens of small insects from Nox's deployment were still sitting all along the snakes back, and as the princesses and their guards circled around the giant snake of Lumiere, they noticed. My mind went blank as the princesses halted and stared at the mechanical glowing insects that were still glowing with the remains of the basilisks own energy.

"Uh... Sister..." Luna asked, cautiously, "What are those?"

"I'm not sure...." Celestia responded in turn, and slowly her horn started to light up.-

All of the drones working in sync with each other was like driving a large amorphous mass of insects, they all took off from the petrified basilisk and into the air as Celestia formed a magical shield around herself, her sister, and their respective guards. Luna herself took a battle stance along side the rest of the guards, but instead of a hostile action I had the swarm flee and once out of the room, portal back to base.

"Strange..." Luna commented, "Was this the source we detected, sister?"

Celestia shook her head, "I do not know, Luna, but something is at work, that we can be sure of." They slowly turned themselves around and began to left, leaving Starswirls distant study undisturbed in its plundered state. Wow, just wow.

Luna, however, cast a glance at the immense amount of statues that were in here, "We still do not agree with leaving our subjects down here unsupervised, they will doubtless be confused when they come to..."

Celestia nodded, looking softly to her sister, "This place has been warded against wild animals of the Everfree, though I take it you would like us to assign a post here so that you will find out about their progress when the first of your friends come free?"

"It would be much appreciated." Luna smiled softly in return, and I sighed from my seat, only if she knew.

I returned my cameras, banishing them from existence, as no doubt eventually they would be found if someone was in here for long enough, and instead refocused my efforts primarily into more productive avenues of pursuit. I had cut off the petrified portions of Aku's mask, and replaced it. Now it was time for what Starswirl had left in his hidden vault; and the only way to tell for sure what he had left, and their purposes were to either figure out a way to use it or to read the journal he had left inside with the items. Now that I was given a chance to properly open the book the first page read:

Starswirl's Magical Prototype Arcane Devices.
Do not use unless it's an emergency!

Huh, I flipped the page and saw the index, a good thirty things were listed on it, but a majority of them had been stamped with the words 'failure' or 'too risky'. I turned to the first page that wasn't crossed out on the list and my mind went blank. On it was the image of one of the objects that had found itself in my possession, but around it was enough math and equations to drive anyone insane. A bit of searching and the only thing I could come up with was that these equations were part of some magical theory. Great, so I needed a unicorn in order to translate this stuff to english. I shut the book, shoving the stuff into a vault that was made in my room just seconds prior and locking it away for now. If a unicorn ever decided to join me, I'd ask them to translate it to something I understood.

There was a number of other things to do, a number of which resulted in the creation of more masks that would fill the next few days of my time, a week passed, and a not so subtle knock on the door drove me from my latest creations, "Hey Boss, you alive in there?" came the voice of Amber, "You really need to get out more."

"Wha-?" I looked up from deep concentration on my latest project, my hand almost slipping as I slowly smoothed out a rough edge of a piece of shoulder armor, Five masks lay completed in the chest beside the table, a sixth lay drying on the top of it. The suit I was working on took some doing, and a pair of aperture science robot arms to fold correctly, but it seemed that my toolkit worked just as well on metal like it did on anything else in my kit.

The door slid open and the griffin was standing there, a newspaper in one claw, and her other on her hip. She whistled, "Someone's a mess."

My brilliant response was, "I'll clean when I'm done, what do you want?"

She walked in, and passed me the newspaper, "You are planning on being a villain right? Well I just figured out something that could draw some ranks of recognition and infamy from the princesses..." She paused, and looked at the newest drying mask, a remade version of what I had once made on the train, now properly carved out of a tougher material than cotton and cloth, "If you and your heads are up to the task."

"Masks." I stated, and at Amber's questioning glance, I elaborated, "They're masks not heads; and as for your question, that depends on what the crime is."

I looked to the newspaper, on the page she had turned it to was an article that displayed a rather ornate museum, I read allowed, "The Legendary Blue Diamond of Windigos was donated by a confidential source to the museum of antiquity in Canterlot, and is due to make an appearance during the next grand galloping gala come winter. Until then Captain Shining Armor has been assigned to oversee the security of the rare gemstone due to its high value both economically and historically."

Interesting, high historical value target, eh? "You up for it Boss?"

"Yeah," I said, starting to put my tools away while I left my recent work in progress unfinished, "Might be, any idea of what sort of security we should expect?"

She smirked, "Already looked into it when I was last there, Boss. Apparently the gem itself has to be put under heavy magical guard, but most of the security has been altered around the gem itself around fire, in order to prevent any of its 'magical qualities' from trying to escape."

"Magical Qualities?" I questioned, and she looked to me, a look of mild disbelief on her face.

"you mean, you haven't heard what a windigo diamond is?" she sighed, "Of course not, listen. Long ago in the lands north of equestria there was a creature called the windigos, who were horses of immense stature who towered over pony kind and fed off of hatred and malice as a source of power.Their powers were so great it nearly brought the three pony tribes to extinction. But when the pony tribes united in friendship and harmony during their final moments, something sparked within them and drove the opposite of what they fed upon, friendship, and compassion, down their gullet. This wave of friendship nearly wiped out the species as the rest of the windigo population, without their food source that had migrated into what is now Equestria, died out of hunger."

I nodded, "What does that have to do with this diamond though?"

Amber, disgruntled at being interrupted, remarked, "I was getting to that; the diamonds of windigos are in a way, the magical essence and core of what a windigo was. In otherwords their powers. When a windigo 'dies' it compresses into a super hard state, similar to that of a diamond, where they get their names. Most of these diamonds are clear in color, and hold a great deal of magical energy within themselves as they draw upon the surrounding enviroment for miles, slowly trying to taint it with negative energy while collecting it to try and recharge itself and rebirth the being it once was."

"Ah, so these diamonds are like a pheonix being reborn for them then, no?"

"Exactly." Amber nodded, "Though the blue variant however, is something else."


"Legend has it, that once upon a time, there was a mighty king of windigos who's might and power could freeze even the dragons of old in their tracks, he was said to of tried to invade Equestria during his final days as a last ditch attempt, but was unable to stand against the current ruler of Equestria at the time."

"The elements of harmony?"

Surprisingly, Amber shook her head, "Nay, It was Discord himself who brought low the mighty hurricane that was the windigo, a grand battle between two enemies of the public that lasted a surprisingly short period of five seconds as ice turned into slushies, and storms turned into cotton candy. The creature himself was forced to crystallize and Discord threw his blue diamond into a temple that became lost to pony kind."

"And now it's been found, no?"

"It would seem so, a lot of artifacts have been getting found as of late," Amber chuckled sarcastically, "And every time one is found, a new Daring Do book appears with a story on the artifact not a month after." she sighed, and I perked up, something was off here.

"Something wrong?" I asked, and the griffon flinched.

Amber replied after a few seconds, "No, no. Just keep in mind, Equestria has many surprises, not all books labeled fiction are actually fiction, and some seem to have the power to make you relive the books story for the right price."

"Relive the book?" I asked, and she gestured at the door.

"There's a comic shop in Manehatten that sells enchanted comic books for quite the pretty bit that allows you to take the role of a main character. Though some have been outlawed in Equestria due to suggestive or even down right malicious content."

"Ah." I said, and I let the subject drop.

"So..." Amber smirked, calming back down as she changed the subject, "Lets talk about this heist..."

A.O.K. Quest System:

Congratulations Puppet Master, you have acquired (3) new Achievements! Keep the good work up! Be sure to check your A.O.K. Computer regularly for regular updates as your journey progresses!

Quest completed: Big Game Hunter: You just petrified one of the largest natural threats in the world, and it had the mind of a pony to boot!
Reward: Your laptop has gained a detailed dictionary of every single type of creature that dwells in Equestrian soil. Well almost every creature, those rare ones like Alicorns and Draconequus or mutations of a species like Chimeras are exempted from this dictionary.

Quest completed: You're not the boss of me, I am!: You've commanded several final boss puppets in one battle against a significant threat.
Reward: Masks that have a common minion under them now have the ability to spawn those minions as a power. Warning this drains upon your puppet effectiveness, as the minions are effectively more puppets.

Quest completed: Mask Parade: You have had at least five types of masks in your arsenal at one time.
Reward: Your puppets perform in synchronization with you if they are within a distance of 100 meters. At further distances puppets that work together work more effectively.

Yarn-ing For Attention

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After two days and an civilian mask that I had made out of the blue to imitate one of Amber's species, we were quietly infiltrating a museum during its daylight hours in order to get a layout of the place. The plan was simple, infact it should be considering the time of day we had planned the raid. Unlike most cliche criminal cases, in order to draw attention to myself. We were going to perform the heist in broad daylight, maybe knock a guard or two around, undermine prince plot hole again, and make a flashy getaway. But until then we were mapping out what was valuable in the museum. Aside from the diamond itself there was a number of other objects of historic importance to Equestria, though only a few of them caught both of our eyes. Though it was sure interesting to find out some relics that belonged to Ambers country was on display here, prizes of the war between the legendary Commander Hurricane when he fought against the griffins in the war so long ago.

It was a certain old gold tiara with a variety of fang shaped bones jutting out towards the top that drew Amber's ire though, "That's the crown of the high king!" she muttered angrily under her breath, and I looked to her, my light blue feathers brushing against her own as I nudged her.

"Keep calm, and carry on Amber." I suggested, my eyes glancing from her to a pair of guards across the hall. Their eyes narrowing at the two of us as we were in front of the exhibit. I guessed it wasn't the first time someone got mad about one of their exhibits.

with a slow pull I managed to pull her away from the case and into the tribal sections of equine lore, where dozens of ponies were gathered around a crystal stand that had a thin rope barrier surrounding it from a five meter diameter. Inside the circle was a large blue ring of arcane symbols that surrounded the stand, upon which held a gemstone that had to be at least as large as my own natural head of muddled ice blue that was in the shape of a sphere. The room itself felt chilly and around the stands stood no fewer than four guards who made sure no one crossed the rope. Shining armor himself was one of the four.

Amber whistled, muttering to me, "That's a big gem, and a big trap they have under it."


"That's a binding, and fire trap." Amber muttered, "Whoever steps on it would either get bound in sealing magic, or if found to be below a certain temperature, burned to a crisp. Same goes for anything that tries to go over it either by wing. Magic wont help either since the case is enchanted against unicorn magic."

"Good thing I'm not a unicorn then." I muttered back, "Any weaknesses?"

Amber shook her head, "Short of digging under the rune and breaking a part of it from underneath, or covering the top of it with something that obstructs its ability to detect heat..."

I nodded, "Digging it is. Give me a second to put things in place."

This was going to take an coordinated effort on my part. Aku was already dwelling in my shadow, and it was a simple matter to work him underneath the black and white tiled floor as we broke off from the crowds, the room itself had a skylight, but the museum itself had a gem based security network of cameras. In order to protect this civilian mask in case I needed it again, that would mean me changing back somewhere private. I asked Amber, "get to the skylight, and watch my back when I make my entrance."

"Whatever you say boss." I grinned, as she did the same, and I walked casually to a bathroom. From there it was a simple portal behind a locked bathroom door to an unlit storage room and a change of face back to the star of this heist.

Someone with experience at robbing diamonds from museums, and a story most sad. A husband who would do anything for his poor unfortunate wife. One who first sparked my affections for the stories of tragedy among villains. All the while Aku was carefully disrupting the magic circle from beneath, turning and in two cases flipping some of the magic runes tiles in order to disrupt it. Once it was down, it was time to party.

the rooms ahead of me dropped to the point where the populace shivered in their coats, questioningly some of the ponies looked both confused and startled as Ice started creeping up the glass windows that separated them from history. I could hear someone call out, "what's with the air conditioning? Did it break?" and I but chuckled as I went into the role of the villain I was playing. Each step was a click clank of metal on freezing stone, and the guards started to feel uneasy. Shining Armor's voice was clear above the crowd, "Calm down everypony, it's probably just the diamond acting up."

The doors opened from the employee only area, and I walked out, an intimidating height rivaling that of the princesses from foggy glass dome to the similar height of Celestia given a comparison. Two red glowing eyes peered from within, goggles that only added to the mystery that was my childhood villain remade. Cold metal suit continuing to whir with cryogenic technology and predictably my unnatural appearance from other ponies caused an uneasy silence as I strode through them, they walked out of my way. The guards gathered between me and the jewel. Shining armor at their front, "Halt, who goes there!"

A voice that echoed out of my mouth, a deep monotone that barely held but a spec of emotion to it, "The ice man commeth, for the diamond of blue."

Shining Armor snorted, "This is the property of the museum of Canterlot, not yours..." he paused, "Ice Man."

I would grin if I wasn't in character, "It is Mr.Freeze, Mr.Armor. And I would brace yourself."

He quirked his head to the side, curious since my character did not bear the trademarked magic horn of a unicorn, he would not see this coming, "Why?"

"For winter is coming early this year." I leveled the weapon that was held within my other hand, and pulled the trigger.

Ice, Ice was what covered the floor now, coated two of the four guards from foot to waist in half a meter of thick solid frozen water. In an instant half of them were immobilized to the point where they couldn't fight back, and Shining armor and his remaining guard dodged to the side and ran towards me, Shining armor's own barrier spell starting to raise up. I couldn't have that, so up went a tendril from Aku and the unicorn promptly fell flat on his face as the heavily armored unicorn came to a screeching halt not feet from me, his spell interrupted. It took a quick two shot to coat his legs and horn in ice as the still standing guard bounced his spear off my armor. It took a simple grab and throw to then lock that guard in a block of ice.

Shining Armor struggled still, however, but I simply marched onward. Pushing aside the glass case with my own hand, and bagging the diamond while various portals also robbed the other exhibits behind their foggy glass.

"Why are you doing this?!" Shining Armor shouted, as he banged his fore-hooves against the ice on his lower legs, and I but grinned in secret as Mr.Freeze slowly turned around and began walking towards the exit. Other guards appeared but it mattered naught for pegasus guards were glued to the ceiling after a shot, and the other two types of ponies more often than not got froze in place.

"Snow is beautiful don't you think?" Freeze monotoned, "Clean, uncompromising...."

"And cold..." one of the guards muttered, but both of us ignored him.

"Like the cold grip of vengeance." Freeze said, "Though it is not you who needs to suffer it Mr.Armor."

"What are you intending to do?!" Shining Armor voiced in dismay, finally working out how to get his horn free, but judging from the state of it, I still had a few minutes before it was warmed up enough to do anything.

"To teach a lesson, Mr.Armor." I smiled, as Aku slipped out of the area, still unnoticed, "The Puppet Master sends his regards." With that I walked out of the building and into an alleyway.

Briefly I heard Shiny yell, "You won't get away with this you fiend!"

I refused to answer, already out of sight it took another pair of portals to return myself back to base as well as Amber and the rest of my puppets, several of which hadn't even gotten the chance to see action but waited in hiding none the less. For what it was worth, the heist had been easy, almost too easy. That was suspicious, to say the least. But then again, Shining Armor was no Batman, and these guards lacked the technology that even basic security guards of that universe had. I had to remind myself that not every unicorn was as proficient in magic as Twilight. According to Amber most unicorns only learned a few spells related to their cutie mark, and I highly doubted many of the unicorns cutie marks were actually to be a guard, that would be an extremely dull personality stereotype if that was true.

I also had to remind myself that I had ambushed them from out of the blue, so it wasn't as coordinated as the real guards full capacity. It was a popular tactic in both strategy and war games to hit and run. I began to approach Amber only to see her snickering, "Wow that was awesome."

"Oh? How so?" My voice droned, crud forgot I was still wearing the mask, quickly I took it off, and repeated my question.

"Boss did you see their faces, they were all 'who's this chump' and then when you began freezing them, they all were utterly shocked!" She guffawed loudly, holding her sides, as she spat out, "Especially their Captain, whatever you said to him certainly rubbed him raw!"

I rolled my eyes and waited for her to calm down before speaking in turn, "Yeah, I simply told him that I sent my regards."

"We need to do three things then." she chuckled.

I dug through the new pile of stolen goods, giving her a curious glance, "And those are?"

"Well for one I'd like one of those ice beam things."

She asked, and I shrugged at the suggestion, "Perhaps if you can promise to remain nonlethal with it, I'll craft you a freeze ray sometime."

She nodded, "Deal."

"The second thing?"

"Well..." she picked through the few trinkets and artifacts that had been in the Griffin section of the museum, "I think you could garner favor with the Griffin kingdom if you ever needed to go there by returning these to them."

I rolled my eyes, "Right, like we want to start a multinational incident between your kingdom and Equestria."

She shrugged, "Guess I'll keep them in safe custody until we need them then."

" 'kay." I replied, "The third?"

"Well you have a gem of potentially potent magic, don't you want to gain its power for yourself?" She asked, "After all, that would be the villainous thing to do, no?"

"That or revive one of the greatest threats to Equestria." I spoke one of the other options, "But do you have any ideas how to do such a thing?"

She paused in thought, "I have a few contacts, perhaps if I could use a few of the other stolen goods, I could help you find an Unicorn who could explain the exact process for a price."

I wasn't really interested in the black market, or whatever it was called in Equestria, but there was really little other options to be had than to hire help. It wasn't like companions just fell from trees or anything. "Where did you have in mind," I asked, "And if you know anyone who is loyal to their contract long term, go ahead and add that to our list of potential recruits as well."

Amber nodded, "There's this tavern in the slums of Manehatten that serves as one of the more central locations to recruit some of the less savory types, but the real juice, so to speak, is underneath it."

I rose an eyebrow, "Underneath?"

She nodded, "Yeah, its entrance is in the sewer."

Now it was time to deadpan, "Of course it is."

"Hey its a minor inconvenience in any case, as for individuals, we could hold tryouts down there given a good enough price."

"We have a dragons horde." I stated.

"True enough." Amber replied, "Wait, question, did you deal with the dragon who owned it Boss?"

"Its been gone since the mane six scared it off to take a nap somewhere else."

The confused look on Ambers face made me clarify,"Mane six, Ie: Element bearers."


I sighed, "Lets just go to Manehatten."

Strange Strings A Foot

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"It twas a dark and stormy night-"

"Its the middle of the evening," I commented.

"-all was quiet in the usually bustling town as the Boss and his loyal adviser entered the town."

"That's because we are in the sewers. You know, with several feet of stone between us and the city above to muffle the sound?"

"The reek of industry and the influence of the rich weighed heavily upon the populace-"

"What populace? The mice? That and I'm pretty sure that stench is the waste product of its inhabitants, not its industry."

"We tramped through the mud, reaching the entrance of the secret villain tavern-"

"That's not mud."

"Oh ew...." Amber muttered, her wings flapping as she cleaned wiped the bottom of her feet off against a sewer wall. I myself was walking on top of cards hovering in the air in order to avoid stepping in sewage, "Hey it was your idea to play the 'story making' game, sorry if I embellish a little."

"Yeah, and I ended up acting out a violent scene while describing it in heavy narrative context when we got ambushed by Timber Wolves."

That had been a boring fight to be honest, for once they had attacked us in the middle of a stone road, and without the worry of accidentally setting trees aflame, it had taken but a snap of my gloves and an explosion to scare them off. The rest of the walk to Manehatten had been uneventful, as my mind was preoccupied with how to continue my projects. Many things had to be made, and others tested. I knew my creations strengths and weaknesses but I didn't know three things in order to continue. The first was the strength of my enemy, that being what sort of force Twilight, Celestia, Luna, and the rest of their kingdom could bring in combined.

The second thing that plagued my mind was my own reserve. Controlling a numerous amount of masked puppets was both taxing on the mind as well as on my body. Every blast, and motion had its limits. Creations that used their own body to strike, like my cards for instance, took a considerably less amount of energy but it was energy all the same. I was revising several strategies in case of a battle, but all of my plans relied on keeping far behind the scenes. But I couldn't always just watch on from afar or put a mask on over my face, thus the need of my tools. But as it was, I myself was still in essence an untrained human being in a world of magic, even if I did have my own brand of magic, it wouldn't be enough if by some chance someone got past my primary defenses. That and I didn't know just how far I could go with my 'magic'.

The third thing was the magic in this world. I had not a clue how it operated or if my 'magic' was even natural in this world considering who brought me here. There was a definite spark to the way mine worked in comparison to the others. For one, multitasking here was a lot easier than it had ever been for me in the past. A trait needed for when I had to operate half a dozen puppets doing separate things at far distances at once. It was the same multitasking which allowed me to continue building my newest projects via GLaDOS while I myself kept a slightly hurried walk to keep up with Amber in this dark disgusting deluge of a sewer. At least we had entered from near a farm on the outskirts of Manehatten, so that the waste was being used as fertilizer or something.

"How much further?" I asked, and she pointed into the general gloom of black ahead of us.

"At the end of this stretch, not to worry, we can leave from the surface entrance when we're done. I think it'll be night time when we do get out in any case."

I nodded, acknowledging her comment, ignoring how when I looked down, my eyes dimly lit my face in a creepy blue light. We arrived there after a few more minutes of walking. No surface down here was completely smooth or flat, instead everything was curved, as if we walked on the inside of a cylinder that had two sidewalks, one on either side, within it. Everything was wet and the constant sound of dripping fluids and moving sewage was nothing short of pungent in their odor. It seemed like hours but in reality it was minutes before we reached the door, one that was locked, at least until Amber whispered something to the crack of it, and then it opened.

Crossing the threshold we entered a rather well lit room that reeked of old smoke and fresh coffee. A pile of broken furniture decorated one corner of the room while relatively well polished chairs and tables decorated the room in a Gothic design. There was a longer table at the back with a barkeeper who was busy cleaning a glass mug with a well used looking rag. Around the tavern I could see creatures of various shapes and sizes, some ponies, others were minotaurs, a few griffins, and even a young teenage dragon of blue and yellow coloration were here, either talking with each other, or sitting while brooding in a corner with a cup of coffee. What I did note, however, was the uniformity within the room.

The griffins were grouped up at one table for example. While there was a group of presumed ponies in blue and well over trimmed robes at a second, minotaurs at a third, and a table full of guys in armor who would look more at home leading a heavy cavalry charge than at a table with chairs groaning from their immense weight. The members who weren't in one of these tight knit looking groups were at the bar itself, a collection of people who looked so mismatched compared to their neighbors that I think Discord would weep a tear of joy if he could see it. Amber gestured for me to take a seat at the barkeep table and see if I liked any of the odd ones out while she went over to the griffin table.

Hours passed in the blink of an eye it seemed, while there was a variety of skilled mercenaries in the tavern, none in particular caught me as very trustworthy, or even that willing to cooperate or submit. My own unique form did a little to impress, what with having eyes and a tongue made of blue fire and all. It would be a while before news spread of my heist, and security would likely increase on other magical artifacts as well as my own fame in the criminal world. Though I couldn't just be known as a thief. A thief wasn't the kind of reputation that warranted an army. Something more impressive would be required if I wanted to attract more impressive 'goons and minions' as it were. In the end, Amber managed to find a few feathered mercenaries with a track record of never broken contracts, and went on her merry way with them while I continued to weed through the few remaining odd ones at the table. Much to the bartender's dislike.

In the end I left the below ground tavern alone, and night time was already approaching as the sun was slowly lowered below the horizon. I sighed, the cold air of approaching fall on this night leaving a slight mist. I began to walk, pondering once more on what to do. Alleyways and buildings galore as I slid around various trash cans in search of nothing in particular. There was a noise, however, not twenty meters away from the upper exit of the tavern. Curiously, I perked my ears, and caught the noise, it was... sobbing? My interest redoubled and I persued the sound.

Joining the sobbing was another voice, a male, threateningly saying, "Out of the way girly, its not you who we want. Just walk away from this and maybe we won't mug you as well."

An overly familiar voice yelled out, "The Great And Powerful Trixie does not bow to no foul simpleton who would pick on the disabled!"


I rounded a corner, and there they were, three stallions, of lithe build, one of each pony race no less. Each armed with some knives, vs the stage mare herself. Her cloak was torn, and from where I was I could see more than a few ribbons of blood trickling down her coat, behind her, another mare was up against the back wall of the alleyway, her wings both marking her as a pegasus and covering the pegasus up as she hid behind both her wings and Trixie. From the looks of it Trixie was fighting a losing battle, but the stubborn look in her eye was...

It was daring, straight forward, righteously enraged. It was... admirable. It was rare to see such an unsettling glare, even back home. I actually paused for a moment before I noticed they were closing in on the two of them. I sprang into action.

"You picked the wrong gang to mess around with bluey." one of the thugs said, and I resisted the urge to gag at the nickname while I approached, cards in hand and shuffling.

I announced my presence, "And you, the wrong victims."

They glanced back, and Trixie backed off a step, paranoid of my appearance. I didn't blame her. After all, my eyes were made of freaking fire apparently.

"Who's this bub?" One of the less bright thugs asked.

"I don't care but it looks like a third victim joins the bunch." Said the first thug that had threatened Trixie and whoever it was behind her. waving his knife as if it was scary. It was a kitchen knife. Lame.

"Ladies and colts." I announced, "Prepare yourselves for a magic trick for the ages. The Puppet Master would like to perform the ultimate magic trick, and make these thugs..." I grinned, casting a creepy light over my face as the pale flames lit it, "Disappear."

"Lets get this boz-" whatever the thug had been about to say was silenced as I let out my deck of cards.

In an instant three cards had managed to shove them inside their surfaces, having grown to full size, and the next instant the cards that held the three thugs were spinning away, I could see them scream silently in confusion and fear inside the cards as they flew off, only to be thrown from the cards surfaces and back into the physical world several alleyways away. Returning the cards back into my deck and putting it away.

Trixie stared at me, "And what, in Equestria was that?"

"A magic trick." I smirked, before my smile went away for a more neutral frown, "Are you two alright?"

"Trixie has naught but a scratch." the blue mare declared, and I raised an eyebrow, she was bleeding. Rather heavily from one arm at that.

"You're kidding right?"

"Trixie is alright, but Trixie is more concerned about her companion." She looked back towards where the shiving wreck of a pegasus was still covered up by her wings. Without Trixie blocking her, I could see that she didn't have any legs or arms for the matter. To my credit, I resisted the urge to cringe. She had been amputated it looked like, and it wasn't recent either. But she still had both wings. Trixie trotted over to her and nudged her, adding in, "Thanks for your help 'Puppet Master' though if you're seeking a reward, we have nothing. My home and living was destroyed and Cass here was kicked out of hers."

"I... wasn't looking for one..." I said, my heart dropped, my mind searched for an idea, and only one really showed up, "Um if you two don't have a place to stay, perhaps I can be of help..."

"We wouldn't wish to impose upon a random stranger, even more so one who got rid of some thugs for us, even if Trixie could of handled it herself." Trixie quipped, helping her friend, Cass, up into a sitting position, The pegasus herself was coated in mud and grime, and thin to the point that I could see her ribcage as if her fur was just a bag over a skeleton.

I barely managed to not wince, "No, seriously, I have way too much space anyway, and it wouldn't be a bother at all."

Trixie rose an eyebrow, "And we're supposed to take your word why?"

"Why not?" I countered.

"Because you might be another ruffian?" Trixie offered in return.

I deadpanned, which is quite creepy actually, when coming from my face as it is, "If I sought to see the 'Great And Powerful' Trixie and her friend harmed, I would of done so already."

"Good point..." Trixie muttered, "Fine, lead the way then."

Cass muttered something, too quiet for me to hear, but Trixie muttered a reassurance back. I offered a small friendly smile, but she just stared. I in the meantime readied a portal. "Now this may seem a bit unsettling at first, but it is perfectly safe." I warned, "This is also to save some time walking back."

The portal opened and Trixie gasped, "Is that a multidimensional door? How? That is an 8th level unicorn spell."

"Actually," I said, "It's just a portal, to home, but if you want to call it that, be my guest." I snerked at my word play, be my guest, ha. I did a funny.

Of course it went over her head, and I rolled my eyes as we entered a hallway. Already the living quarters were expanding to account for the small amount of griffins, but for their sake I would insert another apartment complex for the two of them. Luckily I was quickly able to design and decorate a room and finish constructing it and giving it the necessities before we made it to the doorway, and from there I let them in, "Welcome to your rooms ladies." I told them.

"All this space? Are you sure? Trixie commented, and I nodded, "Well... I... uh... Trixie doesn't know what to say..."

"Thank you..." Cass responded, quietly, her voice like a dove, if birds could talk.

"Feel free to use all the hot water, bandages, food, drink, and etc you need." I told them, "Luckily Amber restocked on groceries yesterday, and the cafeteria isn't exactly that far away. Just follow the signs." I had installed those when Amber kept getting lost trying to find her room among the identical doors, "I'll tell Amber, my..." I stopped myself there, before thinking over it, "Companion... about you two so she doesn't think there's intruders here. If you need me, I'll be in my room, which is also labeled."

She nodded, a bit overwhelmed, and I left them to bandage and clean each other up. I would continue to talk to them later, but for now I had to talk to Amber about our new guests and resume the construction of my projects. That and perhaps... assign a new one for the crippled pegasus... Who said a villain had to be evil, all the time, eh?


View Online

It was morning once more, and when I checked again on the two new mares in my certifiably near spotless evil lair. I had long since given up on checking up with Amber in her quarters, as it was a mess that was beyond reckoning. Trixie was asleep, but Cass was up and moving. It had seemed that the two ponies had taken my word to use anything and everything in the apartment seriously, as the previously mud coated cripple was now her proper colors, a light blue that could only be matched by Trixies mane and a light green mane that was slightly lacking of luster since I hadn't thought to buy shampoo or conditioner for all the quarters yet.

It was interesting watching the pegasus maneuver around using nothing but her wings, in a way it was similar to a wyvern, if I had to make a comparison. Her wings acted as dual purpose, one often helping to drag the pegasus while the other wrapped around an object, as of the present case, a bowl of cereal. It was almost an art into itself how she was able to move. But it was stirring another idea into me. One that would require research. Luckily with the books stolen from Twilights library I could begin that almost immediately but there was one other more pressing matter that would determine how exactly I went around into building this project, or if the project was even viable to begin with.

I flipped open the laptop that Discord had given me when I had been thrown into this world. My mind a flurry of ideas and designs while I searched through the files for the rules of what I was and wasn't allowed to make. For what I was intending, it was going to be labeled under the rule of props, that and sharing my creations with others. As a prop it was going to be one of the hardest ones I had to make yet, no less than four of them to be precise. The finer details and full range of motion it would need would net me hundreds of dollars back on earth as just a prop. As well as of been a major break through for medical science that we hadn't even had a chance to get yet. I would make her a mask, but she wasn't exactly a 'tragic villain' but a victim who I didn't know the first thing about. Her cutiemark was a cassette tape which I took to add in as the rest of her name.

I went through the lists of restrictions and made note of the ones relevant on a scrap piece of paper on my desk, there was going to be a lot of work, but I had time, far too much time by the looks of it. Out of the corner of my eye, my attention was returned to the object of my last heist. The heart of the windigo which was lazily put onto a corner of my desk. I reached out for it, my hands bare from the usual gloves I wore, and touched it.

Everything went white.

I reopened my eyes and I was no longer in my base, though I could still feel it, like a set of strings pulled taunt, I was in the middle of an arctic field of snow, a grey mass of clouds high above me, and a singular white specter of a humanoid dressed in regal clothes of white and blue, clothes fit for a king. Atop an icy white mane sat a crown of similar light blue coloration, and I gasped at the amount of cold that radiated off of him in the form of a constant icy wind that redirected falling snowflakes in every direction away from himself. Behind me I could see the ruins of a village, mostly buried within snow, and curiously I wondered, just where I was. It was not a question that went unanswered.

"You are in the northern reaches of the ice fields of windigos. Though as you ponies say it, 'The land of the Crystal empire. More precisely, where I died so long ago."

I didn't fix his mistake that I was not a pony, but I did ask, "And you are?"

"I, mere peasant, am your king." the windigo, as I had no doubts about that that was what it was, stated.

Two and two together and my mind yelled that it was the one from the crystal. Great, just what I needed in the morning, a revived mass murdering 'king' that fed off of hatred as energy. Slowly the GLaDOS puppet started its movements as I readied myself for the worst, "Sorry but I don't follow no king. Sort of against the democratic system I've lived under for most of my life, well before coming to Equestria anyway."

The king snorted, "You will be my first subject, or else my name isn-"

The rest of what he said was blown away by his own wind, and I yelled, "What did you say?"

"I said, my name is-" He yelled back. Again getting cut off by his own wind.

"Still can't hear you!" I yelled to him.

"Are you mocking me?" He yelled, and I yelled back a negative and my response was lost to the undo amount of wind going on in the place.

He yelled something then formed a sword from the ice and snow around the place, and I sighed. "What, do you want to fight or something?"

"You want to bite what?!" He yelled, and I facepalmed.

"I said!" I yelled, "Did you want to fight or something!"

Funnily enough the wind stopped as he paused, considering it, "A duel then?"


He nodded to himself, like whatever he thought of was a great idea, "Yes, a duel, if I win You become my slave."

Now I was annoyed. "And what do I get if I win?"

He didn't answer, he was already dashing forward to strike at me. Oh that wasn't fair. The wind was back on, drowning out my string of profanity as I darted backwards, really aware of my lack of coat and weapons, barely managing to dodge the first slice of his sword by mere centimeters. But a layer of thin ice formed on my shirt as it passed, and then I was really worried about what it would do if it actually hit me.

I scrambled away from him, running, as a portal appeared, launching out my coat which I promptly caught and put on just in time for the Rosary to activate and deflect an icicle projectile that had been aimed at my back. The jerk was firing magic projectiles! Well, now it was my turn. I tossed out my entire deck of cards from my pockets while I busied myself with arming back up. Fifty two identical blank cards sprang to life as a shield between me and him, and he crashed into it, shoving his sword, which had increased in size to a great-sword, through the card in a well placed stab and slicing through it. He looked up from his handy work as I put my second glove back on, and snapped.


An series of explosions of increasing sizes came out of my gloves, and raced towards him, catching the icy king horse off guard and knocking him back with its heat. My cards returned around me, hovering in three layers of circles, one card missing but the rest slowly freezing solid. I'd have to worry about that later, as I took out the marionette doll in one hand and waited his advance. His voice was mocking, "So the brat has magic too I see. Yet not a horn on his head, how interesting."

I grimaced, the weather was getting colder, and the wind was getting more violent. Slowly my cards were losing their ability to stay where they were and for their own sake, I returned them to my pockets. He charged forward, and I snapped my fingers again, bringing forth another line of explosions that he deftly avoided, my eyes widened as my other hand brought forward the marionette doll. He lunged, and I shut my eyes, awaiting the stab.

It never came, between me and him a doll had formed, and his blade was burried in its torso. His look of bloodlust and satsifaction dying out as he saw the wooden doll that was all but towering three feet higher than him. He said but one word, "What?" before I ordered my doll to grab him.

More dolls started to appear as the first grabbed and hugged the horse, the horse protesting and trying to yank out his sword while avoiding the grasping arms of the puppets molesting his personal space. Soon enough he splintered the first wooden puppet that his sword was cut on with a well placed kicked, but then he was dog piled by four more, each working to restrain one of his limbs. That was all the time I needed, as a mask was thrown out of the portal and into my grip. I tossed it on over yet another puppet as he struggled, ice rapidly forming over his aggressors and started to break free. I let out another explosion with a snap of my fingers to occupy him, the explosion neatly dethawing the puppets he was trying to freeze as well as throwing him back in the ice and snow.

"Cheeky insect." the king muttered, as the puppets started to move unnaturally in sync together towards him.

From next to me the masked puppet erupted into shape, a green and yellow king of the koopas, Bowser, had arisen under my control. "What, you're bringing out mutant turtles and wooden puppets to fight for you?" The icy king retorted, "Well then, face MY army." He stabbed his sword into the ground and with a rumble like an earthquake from behind him a wall of white came up.

Dozens upon dozens of white armored windigos marched out of the wall, and dozens more continued to stream out of it, and I gave him a disgruntled frown. Preparing my slow moving GLaDOS for another mask delivery while Bowser and the wooden puppets prepared to fight.

They came down upon my puppets in a mob of moving blades, shields, and the occasional spear. The puppets themselves holding their own by their own physical nature of needing to be completely dissasembled before they would stop working. Whenever a puppet fell, another two took its place, but for every windigo that came down, another three seemed to erupt. Then bowser himself rolled in. Literally.

The king of koopas had withdrawn in his shell and jetted forward, a spinning spiked cyclone of destruction as he bowled into their front ranks and deep into the increasing armies mass. From there he redeployed himself and opened his mouth, the back of his throat filled with red light before it breathed out a mighty gout of flame that melted through whatever unfortunate windigo was caught in its path. I was saving his other function until an opportunity presented itself. Well at least until... The second mask came out of a portal as the windigos pushed forward. The king himself was heading to intercept Bowser while my ranks of puppets faltered from the ever advancing horde of ice warriors. That was going to change, as Aku joined the battle. In an instant, my horde of wooden puppets became the minions of the two villains. Bowsers half an army of metal clad knight turtles who were half his size, and on Aku's side an army of shadow and machine warriors.

Of course both had a better minion as a secondary force, the dark high pitched laughing of Aku's favored minion, one who looked similar to Aku but with a flaming blue hair style and black fangs grinned at the chance of collecting more souls. Bowsers own Kammy Koopa flew over him with a broom, and the king of talking turtles was boosted several times over by his second in command. I in the meanwhile was stock still, commanding more than I ever had to at once was both mentally and physically commanding and exhausting work.

Several spiked shells cut out the legs of those underneath as they shell slammed into the snow warriors, while an barrage of different weaponry cut into the ice warriors, the king himself started to engage king Bowser, who met his sword blow for blow on his hard shell, all but ignoring the ice as he spewed flames and punched the ice king back. More of the long range minions let loose their spells and projectiles as they supported the front ranks from the air, but we weren't without our own losses. Their archers were cutting down our air support, but Aku managed to cut down their ranks through literal use of laser vision and flaming eyebrows.

I grunted in effort as dozens of attacks met dozens of shields and the reverse happened as well. The fight drug on, for hours it seemed as both armies became depleted and the Koopa king and the ice king fought each other. One particularly nasty blow managing to catch the ice king, and rip apart his chest chestplate as well as managing to destroy his helmet. "Enough of this foolishness." the king declared, and he reached back with a armored front hoof, while the other leaned upon his icy sword. The ice wall advanced as the army of windigos collasped.

I gasped, that cheeky bugger. Bowser and Aku retreated to my side while the wall approached, and I went over the laptop manual for my puppets as the ice wall phased through the king, picking up speed. there was something I could do. But It was a risk. The remaining puppets reverted to wooden form, and began stacking up to each other, a staircase of wooden beings that I ran up and away from the progressing wall. The staircase turned as it continued building up, and I leapt, jumping over the invading wall as it froze the army of puppets in its tracks.

Beyond the wall I could see the king grinning, sure that he had frozen me. I really wanted to scream at how far and fast I was now falling but remained silent as I put both my fists in his general direction and waited until there was but a few seconds before impact before yelling, "HEY KING."

"What?!" He shouted in surprise.

"YOLO." I shouted back my fist hitting him in the face as I crashed into him.

I think I had lost consciousness for a second, but when I came to I was aware of intense headache inducing pain. He broke my fall that was true. But the collision had broken that as well as my hand, an arm, a rib or two, and I couldn't feel my face. That and there was a large weight on one of my hands.Oh wait, that's right my face was on the ground over there. Blindly I reached out and grabbed my face, feeling relief as I put it back on and wiped the snow and ice out of my face in order to see again. Then I saw what was bound to my broken, and somewhat numb but still screaming arm. It was the windigo's head.

The collision had driven a hole through the solid ice head but my hand hadn't managed to break through entirely. The rest of the windigos body was limb, and it took a few tries to pull my arm free of it. Behind me a majority of my wooden puppets had broken and vanished from being frozen in solid ice, but the Bowser puppet was able to start melting itself and the Aku puppet free. As I stood back up, grunting in pain as my everything protested, I was shocked as the presumed dead body of the windigo king grabbed me. Just how much force did it take to end this thing?

"I will not lose." came the shattered voice of the king, fragmented just as much as its face was. "I will no-" Ice began to crawl up my good arm, and I panicked, the GLaDOS unit tossing out the closest thing that was in my room through a portal. The token of the ork. I yelled as the ice creeped up from my arm to my face, "Skargor I summon thee!" Before unconsciousness claimed me.

Ice to See You Again.

View Online

I was briefly aware of intense pain as well as a yell of 'Warrrrgh' in my black realm of nothingness. I briefly caught a glimpse from GLaDOS's view point, my own body being carried by a pair of orks in technological garbage, before I blacked out again. I was prodded again and again, for a while, before I remained long and out.

When I came to, it hurt to breathe. I was barely aware of a buzzing sound, and I couldn't quite feel my good arm, and my bad arm felt like it was encased in something. Briefly I could hear the sounds of conversation between a male and a female voice, the first was Skargor, "Ah' said lass he was worse when I foun' 'im. He'll wake up in due time, what he was doin' was a ta' bit foolish for a firs' absorbtion."

The second voice was Amber, "What if he doesn't wake up? What then?"

"'He will, don' worry, look, he's already stirrin'."

Just because I was stirring didn't mean I wanted to be conscious, or alive for that matter as pain wracked my body. Before it felt like I was hit by a pickup truck, now it was like I was hit by a thrown barn. However, I got the uncomfortable feeling of being breathed on, and I cringed at the smell of it, forcing me to open my eyes and meet Skargors face as he grinned at me. "See, told ya."

I remained silent until Skargor was out of my face, and tried sitting up, while groaning, "What happened?"

Amber was disgruntled, "That's what I keep asking, one second I'm enjoying my morning, and the next second this strange creature knocks on our door with your unconscious body Boss. He keeps saying stuff about magic mumbo jumbo and you absorbing something."

"More like nearly gettin' possessed." Skargor muttered, "Tha' Windigo king nearly had ya, lucky you summoned me when you did; else it mighta been too late."

"How did you stop it?" I asked him, and I felt violated as well, but I didn't know how.

"Look at yer good arm." he gestured with a thumb towards the arm that wasn't in a cast. My arm, well from the hand to the elbow, had become marble white. I could still feel it but there was something different about it, it felt cold, and from that cold I could feel it reaching much further than where it was on the service, like a cold chill was going through my chest.

Skargor nodded, "noticing it now? Now try something for me, try concentrating on this." he put down an apple, "imagine that apple lifting up into the air, and use your hand to do so."

I nodded, and focused, pointing my hand towards it, palm outstretched and concentrated. For several moments nothing happened, but slowly, I could see a dark blue tinge start to form over the apple as I kept focusing, my attention diverting from checking up on my other puppets and refocusing into one objective. Instead of lifting up, the aura suddenly became a solid color and crushed the apple. Skargor chuckled. "Keep practicing, you've gotten a lot stronger magically, though it ain't without its own price for being improper."

I let go of the crushed apple, which had taken a scrunched oval shape, juice slowly spreading out from its ruined form. Quickly I tossed it into an incinerator and asked, "What price?"

"Well at the price of your arm now bein' white and havin' a blue crystal at the back of it..." Skargor paused, as though trying to remember it, "That and if your arm is ever cut off, that magic will go elsewhere 'till it regenerates."

I deadpan, "Humans don't usually regenerate entire limbs."

"Well now you will if its the white bit, watch out for over using your magic though, once you deplete the excess magic, if you deplete your own natural reserves of energy as well, there is a chance of mutations from the ambient magic and your unnatural magic upon your body. Could range from becoming a pony to getting an extra limb or splitting in two. That or nothin' could happen. What you get for trying to absorb magic without me."

I sighed, "Great..."

"Speakin' of magic, I can sense that you have collected quite a bit of it nearby. Someone took my advice."

"Yeah." I muttered, "That stuff and a Basilisk."

He looked surprised, "As in a giant snake that turns things to stone with its gaze?" when I nodded he laughed, "Oh wow, there was not but a few flies and stone statues when I went there in my own world."

I sighed, "Yeah, well all the statues on mine were ponies killed by its gaze."

He grunted, dismissing it, "Well you still have the artifacts, no?"

I nodded, and pulled them out of their hiding spot, Aperture science momentarily turning my room into a robotic arm forest as it moved the stuff onto my bed in front of me. He whistled again, and started explaining, "Now would probably be the best time to tell ya how to drain these things of their magic. Well properly, rather than grabbing a being and accidentally reactivating its central intelligence."

I stared at him, and this time managed to bring myself fully upright rather than leaning on the nearby wall. Now I could see the bandages around my chest as well. "What do I... Need to do?" I asked, my voice halting as my lungs gave me a sucker punch for breathing too fast.

"You're goin' to need a lot of rest after this, but yeah, here goes." Skargor then launched into an hour of explanation and teaching. Amber fell asleep about halfway through it, and I think I got the gist of it though, the fact that when I tried to drain one of the artifacts, the staff first, it slowly lost all color and I felt quite a bit stronger, more capable.

Once all of them had been drained he told me, "Unless you want the chance to lose that new magic, always remember, destroy the previous vessel, else some do-gooder or holier-than-thou priest type will try to reverse your power back into the vessel." He promptly threw the remaining grayed out artifacts into the incinerator I opened, and nodded to me, "I would recommend staying in bed for a few weeks, that and if you did have to move, not to strain yourself. Provided that your new magic doesn't hasten it along, mind you. Still you should keep that cast on until at least until... What day is it here?"

The question and nudge to Amber awoken her from sleep, "Huh?"

It took her a moment and the question being asked again before Skargor had his answer, "So about a night before Nightmare Night then." He nodded, "Yeah, sounds about right. Until we meet again, I have a horde to manage." he bid me goodbye and we bid him goodbye as well as he vanished back into the portals he came from the first time.

Once he had left, I was placed under a bone crushing hug by Amber. "You big idiot!" she shouted at me, "Don't you dare scare me like that again you jerk!"

I squeaked. In Pain. A lot of Pain.

"Oops... Sorry." She said sheepishly, letting go, "Forgot about the whole five broken ribs thing."

I glared at her, but after a few moments let out a sigh. "Its alright Amber, and to be fair I didn't know I was going to have that whole fight until after I touched the blue diamond and ended up somewhere up north about to fight a crazy psycho ice horse."

"Sounds like quite a story." The voice of a newcomer said, and we both looked back to my door, there was Trixie, with Cass noticeably hiding behind her legs as she stared in with us, "Care to share?"

The Aok quest system has been disabled due to sudden changes in your biology, The power tutorial unlocks is no longer restricting your being. Please see the manual for any more questions regarding your tools. Goodbye.

The Magic of Wheelchairs

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It had taken a day for me to reinvent the electric wheelchair, I didn't feel much forward onto walking with all my broken and cracked ribs. So Now I felt like Charles Xavier, gliding down the hallway, in my makeshift robo-chair and ordering doors to open and shut on my command. Aku and Bowser had returned to me, albeit after I had managed to free them both from ice and portal them back home. Though after about half an hour of striding down the hallways in my new chair, I grew bored and went back to my projects. They weren't strenuous by any means and it provided me something to do as my body recovered. Though I'll admit it was tricky to use my tools in my left hand, but I managed to compensate by using more robotic appendages from the walls to make up for my casted arm. Absently I swapped through projects that were in progress, a partially made suit of armor that was so far only an arm and a chest plate. It was a slow and arduous process, one that I wouldn't be done with for a long while. One that was only made possible by the sheer amount of space and resources that I now had in comparison to my past traveling life.

Besides that project, there were others. Masks that were still in construction, props and tools that were but blueprints upon my wall. Dozens upon dozens of things to build, to make, and to see come into reality. It never hurt to have a massive variety of utilities, but a knock on my door broke my attention. A master work of projects both being built, and I looked towards it, "Come on in." I spoke up, removing goggles that had rows of magnifying glasses on one side that I had momentarily forgot that I put on, before turning my chair to face the new company. To my surprise it was the limbless pegasus, cass, who was on the other side. "Ah, Cass, was it? Please, make yourself at home." I gestured at the part of my room that wasn't currently a creative mess, and she nodded, and flew in, landing somewhat roughly on the clean surface of my bed, "What brings you to my domain?"

For a moment the pegasus was silent, as she considered her own words, and then she spoke up. It was the first time I had heard her voice, and it blew my mind how she sounded like. Somehow against all odds I was staring at a pegasus with the voice of an angel, surpassing with softness to the point of outstripping Fluttershy. One could get lost in that voice, and if not for the slight hard edge that came from an unfortunate past, I think my jaw would of dropped. It took me a moment before I registered what she had said, "I... Heard you might be able to help me..."

"Pardon?" I asked, not quite gripping what she was asking but she sighed.

"Sorry, sorry." She amended, "What I mean to say, is that Amber said you had some knowledge in strange magic, and that you were constantly creating things that had... well... limbs."

"Ah." I said, dumbly, before shaking my head to clear it, "To be honest, I was considering to offer my help as well. Though I was having a few problems."

"Oh...? Sorry. I don't want to be any trouble..." The voice of Cass was downtrodden, and I had to speak up.

"No, no. Its no trouble at all, It was more of a... technical issue." At the look of her blank face, I continued, "You see, I'd need to take some measurements as well as ask you some personal questions regarding your... ahem... Loss of limb. Besides that, I'd have to explain each part and its origin as I made it to you, else it wouldn't work properly once you put it on."

I was a bit surprised at my own forthcoming nature, but I blamed that on the painkillers I had found on my desk soon after Skart had left. My surprise increased as Cass formulated her response and looked to me with a sense of longing, "Is... is that all?"

"Well I'd probably ask you to never use the limbs to kill or to betray the location of this base to Celestia or her ponies, but that's a subject for another day."

After a moment of a pondering look, which was cuteness itself as she tilted her head, "Why would I tell Celestia that?"

I deadpanned, "I'm sort of a villain in this nation."

"Oh? But why would a villain help two ponies out from other bad ponies?"

To that, I had no answer, and she smiled, the first one that I had first seen her, and continued, "I'll be fine with the measurements though, but it will take a while for the questions."

"I have till Nightmare Night." I responded in turn, "How about we take a few hours of each others time, and start on it." I smiled, putting away my current projects, in favor of opening a new one, a fresh blank sheet of paper, and taking out my measuring tape, as well as a choice few other supplies.

A new seat appeared next to me and I gestured for her to take a seat in it, and she gladly did, scooting closer to me as she eyed the variety of sketches and half finished projects. "You're one of those busy types, huh?"

I chuckled, "Yeah, guess you could say that. Would you mind if I?" I gestured to her arm with a tape measure and she nodded for me to continue, "So, if you don't mind me asking, how did you and Trixie meet in the first place?" I started measuring the stumps of where her limbs had been, taking careful note of exact measurements, something like this wasn't going to be easy, but it would be easier if I had exact measurements to work with rather than a vague assumption of her body size. Idly my mind picked out a medical text from the stolen horde of books from Twilights Library, and I turned to a page on the pony skeleton.

"We met a while back, I was having a stroke of bad luck finding work, kinda hard to work when you only have wings." she waggled her wings, "even if they're ambidextrous, and Trixie had recently loss her home to some Unicorn mare and a weird bear thing called an Ursa Minor. We shared the same alleyway for a time, and soon enough we became friends."

Cass was cheerful, for a shy pony, something I respected, and as I continued my measurements, correlating her muscle mass to the charts, and getting an appropriate sketch of how large I was going to need to make these cybernetics. However, one of her missing limbs bothered me. Three of them had healed up to a neat round, if uneven stump, however the last was almost flat, like something had cut a straight line through it, leaving an uneven plane of jagged scars and tissue on it. That one would require a form fitting mold, something I would need to prepare for. Quickly, I started up a mixture with the robotic assistance while I explained what I was going to do next, which was to apply some anti-stick material to her fur, before coating the stump in a thick almost cream like material which would harden enough to become flexible plastic. Normally one would never apply this to fur, but Equestria had enough of an art depot to have invented the material I needed in order to make sure it didn't tear out any fur. As I applied these two mixtures to her stump, I asked her, "What happened to your limbs? Sorry if it seems a bit rude, but it will help with the reconstruction process."

That was only partially true, I did need to know more about her, but it was more on part of my curiosity. The pegasus paused, flinching a little as the cold gel like substance was applied to her. "Lost three of my legs to a particularly sadistic dragon, who managed to capture me shortly after I had been released from the wonderbolts."

"You were part of the wonderbolts?" I asked, and she chuckled.

"Yeah, my stage name was 'Rewind Flight', On account of being able to stop in a second flat and go back at max speed as if time was being rewound." she chuckled to herself, though I could see a sadness in her eyes.

"What caused them to release you?" I pryed a bit further, and she sighed, "The loss of my first leg. We were experimenting with lightning clouds and trying to make new acrobatic tricks where we would dodge around a storm of it, sadly one of our members tripped up on a cloud, and accidentally sent off a cascade at Spitfire, a captain at the time. I barely managed to push her out of the way, saving her life, but in the end it came at the cost of one of my legs."

I winced, as her mane covered her eyes, "My apologies for asking so suddenly."

"No need to apologize," Cass told me, "After the incident, I was awarded an equestrian medal of valor, and retired from service, though the security checks handled for a while, my next accident while trying to figure out what to do with life cost me the rest of my bits in order to pay for the medical costs." She sighed, "Some worth that was."

I tried changing the conversation, "What... What did you usually do when you had limbs, and weren't part of the Wonderbolt routines?"

She sighed dreamily, "Believe it or not, I used to take long walks in the park, and lounge about under the trees, either day dreaming or reading up on the latest music trends."

We continued to talk, and the more I learned about her the more she opened up. After a while she even started to try and pry at my own life, and while I told her mostly the truth, I left out any bits that would make it seem like I was from another dimension entirely. Once the mold had been peeled off of her, I thanked her for her time, and told her that I would be ready tomorrow to continue. But for now I had to make an additional two molds out of the first one. The second mold would be made from filling out the first with a jelly that was usually used to imitate false flesh, from there a third mold would be made as well of a quick drying solid cement instead of flexible plastic, and that would serve as a base for my expanding foam, and allow me to start working on the the most complex of the four limbs first.

Though after another two hours I had meant to put down the project, I found myself strangely attached to it, unable to put it down until my eyes started to droop, and three dozen painted parts and pieces laid before me, a half completed diagram underneath it. I pulled myself onto my bed, and passed out, a satisfied smile adorning my face as my mind still rambled through the possibilities.

Good Day Mr.Knight, Trip To Memory Lane

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A week had passed in the blink of an eye, no longer did my ribs hurt without the pain medicine, but as advised I kept my cast on as well as the bandages around my chest. But, I, however had noticed something adorable. Amber and Trixie never got along that well with each other, the former was completely rigid with calling me boss and leading her flock, which she thought included everyone under my command. While Trixie, who hadn't officially, 'joined' me yet, butted heads with the Griffon. Usually giving the griffon a small laceration from the impact of her horn while giving the unicorn a migraine from the hit on her sensitive pokey organ. Their arguments were somewhat small but amusing. Like who got to eat the last peanut butter cracker (Which wasn't really the last one, not that I let them know that I had yet to eat all of mine back in my quarters). Cass had found some amusement in it too after she learned that their constant bickering between each other was mostly harmless.

In the meantime the outward world had taken notice of my previous successful robbery of the blue diamond and the headlines read, 'Puppet Master Trumps Shining Armor Again, The captain and his men after Freeze froze security to a standstill.' I felt somewhat disappointed, they forgot the 'Mister' in Freeze's name. But it was acceptable. On the cover was a picture of the museum how I had left it, covered in ice, and half frozen guard ponies. One of which had its tongue stuck on its comrades armor. I chuckled for a good while at that, regretting doing so minutes later as my sides burned. Still sore after all the abuse it had taken in my scuffle with the Windigo King. It was a painful reality check, I realized after a while. That I was still a human being, and not some villain out of a story.

Though something other than my companions or my recent battles felt off. It began when I felt as if I was being watched. Scans showed that no one had infiltrated the building, but rather somehow a solitary figure had managed to sneak up the side of the mountain. I couldn't get a clear view of him or her at first, and every attempts at approaching him with my security camera lead to him vanishing as if into thin air. Its presence leaving for naught but a few hours at a time before he would come back at a different perch. After a few days though, I had managed to get a clear view of a heavily armored, and robed figure dressed in pure red, with the occasional green highlight as trim. Full plate armor from the front, but whoever this figure was, wasn't a pony. That much was evident by the gauntlets and boots, which were contoured and divided to fit a more clawed design. The only other notable feature about him was that upon his back there was only something I could describe as a Jrpg blade. That is to mean, a blade that was impossibly large to be of any use to anyone. Heck it was so large that it had to be worn sideways on his back, and its height from blade to back of the overly large sword of compensation was thick enough to hide someone like a tower shield if he desired.

This meant one of three things to me, regarding this warrior. The first was that this warrior could be incredibly skilled in terms of combat with monstrous strength aside. A violent encounter could possibly be just as, or even worse than the fight with the king of windigos for its own reasons. Especially now that I was confined to either a chair or bed until the Night before Nightmare Night. The second thing, this could mean, was the repeat of the failure of a thief in the woods, but this was less likely considering his ability to dodge my surveillance until then. The final option was that someone had heard about the dragon that used to live here, and was looking for their own claim to the treasure, but instead found us, and was curious to just what we were, and what was being done here. Again any attempts of approach, either by puppets or intercom only made the armored figure scuttle off like some sort of pesky fly that you couldn't swat or catch. So I grudgingly started to tolerate its presence over the course of the next few days. All it was was staring at the entrance of the base, after all. Though I did have security boosted just in case during my off hours of rest and sleep.

When I wasn't watching the stranger, working on projects, or talking with Cass, Trixie, or Amber, I was expanding my base. Several rooms that I had forgotten to build previously were now being added on and several rooms being set aside for future testing experiments as well as resources. Mainly crystals since I couldn't recognize an ore to save my life. To my surprise, however, was when I kept digging down and eventually hit, or more appropriately, didn't hit something. I had found a cave, one large enough that when I kept trying to go down, I almost lost the Aperture Science Standard Drilling Apparatus finding the floor, promptly spawning the use of additional cameras as several mechanical arms pulled the drill back up. It was dark down here, and once lighting was no longer and issue, I could see just what the massive cave contained.

The cave itself was the combined size of about four football domes put together, that being what I could see from here, from my estimates I had arrived at the very top center, or near enough to it, of the dome. On the ground floor I could see a lake of motionless water, surrounded with small islands of dimly lit blue mushrooms that barely offered any illumination on the matter. Besides those were buildings half sunken in the water, one large building was directly below the hole I had made down here, and now I was more than curious. Quickly I spoke to an intercom, "Hey Amber, mind reporting to the lower floors, I found something that may be of interest."

I moved, or more precisely I had several puppets begin to move and make their way down there even as Amber took her merry time getting there. Since I didn't want to remain immobile with concentration, I had selected only two of my more mobile puppets, that is to say a pair that could move in the air as well as under water for what it may be. Those being Aku once more, and yet another new mask, which albeit lacked in the flight department but well made up for it in the aquatics. I guess it didn't hurt that the villain also had a face that was representative of a squid. With one hand being a crab claw. That and the pirate outfit was downright wonderful. I chuckled to myself, somewhat worriedly wondering if I had way too much free time now that I was stuck in the confines of my room physically, but then reminding myself that only the foolish villains ever rush their plans before its ready to be deployed.

It wouldn't be the first time where I had fallen into that trap, well figuratively speaking anyway. What little childhood had managed to be enjoyable was also the parts that started up my desire to build cosmetics and replicas of game and movie memorabilia. Though while it took up a good portion of my time, the early days were more about role playing with Yuko and company. Early on I had the misfortune of getting my character's killed off by rushing ahead while everyone else was busy with things like loot or war gear between battles. I was often under prepared for the situations ahead, but this often lead to some rather more creative sessions than the standard shoot and kill everything fest that was involved. Two close encounters with mutant killer bugs, and one somehow accidental daemon portal opening for 'thinking too hard' in a row eventually made me learn the lesson that you should really think of everything you're going to need for every situation.

Yuko had been a great help as well, later on. As well as inspired me to try my luck at being a villain. Started simple enough, but as summer progressed she ran my stuff separate from the group, giving birth to the persona of Inquisitor Dearon, a tragic villain who took unusual methods into preserving the life of the realm, before becoming named a traitor to the empire after saving a planet from a race of soulless walking skeleton robots with the aid of the cyber-punk-adoring faction known as the Tau. Afterwards fleeing and eventually finding himself joining the war and recovery efforts of the same faction. He spent the rest of the campaign trying to stop a chapter of particularly pesky space marines which turned out to be the other group of role players. I found myself an architect in a way with this, plotting out diplomacy, commanding troops, requisitioning armies worth of supplies, and once or twice even ending up building the important bases and going into advanced details for supply lines. There was also the standard action, more than one bar fight during my characters off time, as well as his insatiable craving for garlic. But those were the little things.

My mind wandered deeper as I waited for Amber to hurry her furry flank up.

Ultimately as stories go, my villain ended up failing his mission and losing his life during a scuffle against said space marine players. Inquisitor Deargons latest plans on improving the Tau armies and agriculture had been sabotaged by the Space Marine chapter that had already foiled several of his plans so far. Driving the Inquisitor deeper and deeper into a pit of which he couldn't return from. He had tried to improve the lifestyle of the Tau, who while technologically advanced in the art of war, as well as other technologies, had lacked the technologies of agriculture, as well as trying to minimize losses through the creation of a special forces team. One that was currently traveling towards another important landmark hours, if not days before the invasion had taken place, and by the time that they returned, a lot of drama had unfolded. Primarily the loss of Deargons life after a dramatic what-have-you-done speech.

The door being opened to the lowest floors caught my attention, Amber was almost here, and now it was time for a bit of Imaginary Chaos.

"So you conquered the seas as a reaper of the dead, only to be destroyed from a broken sword to the heart?" Aku spoke to Jones as Amber arised, as if already in mid conversation.

"What be ye suggesting shade?" Davy jones was, in a word, disgruntled with the taller spirit. As if they had known each other a while.

"Not only that, but you managed to get your ex lovers wrath by betraying her all those years ago because she didn't even show up to your ten year planned date." Aku shook his head, "Talk about a heart breaker."

Aku smiled coyly at his own pun, but Davy Jones merely sighed and face-clawed, "Do you not have anything better to do than make jests?"

The imposing figure of black opened his mouth to reply but Amber cut them off, "Hey, you two, wheres the Boss?"

A screen flipped out of the wall, and a camera appeared in my room, temporarily allowing me to communicate to her, "Right here, Amber, I discovered a cave system with ruins in it, wanted you and these two to check it out if it was alright."

"Alright, but who's the squid face?" Amber asked, and I replied, "Amber, this is Davy, Davy Jones, captain of the Flying Dutchman."

"Alright then, Davy Davy Jones." Amber said, "Mind if I just call you Dave?"

Did she really just...? Aku's face went from normal to puzzled, and from puzzled to smirking, "I like her." he commented as Jones eye twitched..

"You're lucky we aren't on my ship, lass. Captain Jones will work for now."

"Whatever you say captain." Amber commented, and together the two puppets and the Griffon went down onto the new elevator, and into the depths below.

A Tale Of Three Sirens

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It didn't take the misty air to know it was cold down here. Ancient ruins lined our paths, Aku and Davy Jones flanking either side of Amber as they progressed around the large pocket of air. Amber was insulated from the cold, but she shivered regardless. I didn't blame her, the cold atmosphere only added a layer of creepiness that could only be described as borderline thick. There were no corpses, that was true, but at the same time there wasn't any signs of life while we walked. The water was moving, that was true, but the source of the movement was an artificial waterfall that we discovered after an hour, one that ran on a lone dimly glowing jewel that could be seen behind its falling waves. Eventually we came to find the front of the building, and together we entered, using Aku's flaming eyebrows as well as any torch. I took a particular interest in my surroundings.

Along the walls were dozens if not hundreds of runes with matching pictures to go with them. In the light I could see that they were pictures of three... kelpies?Mermaids? surrounding a fourth one which had a crown on its head. Aside from that, many smaller ones were bowed to the image, heads lowered, I asked in Davy Jones voice, "Can anyone read this rubbish? Or is it just I who doesn't know?"

Aku commented, "I find the pictures verrry informative. It is clear that this emperor has subjected these creatures to his will, and made it so that his word was law." That was my haphazard guess, but it was close enough to Aku's character and with his body language symbolizing each word as if he was speaking to an captive audience that he gave them.

Amber sighed, "Traveled with an architect once, one of those kinds who just loved ancient ruins, looks like the story is true enough though, judging from the pictures," she gestured to one particularly gruesome one, where the three kelpie-pony-things were heading out somewhere at the king kelpie-things request, and terrorizing normal ponies in order to collect some werid green stuff. I drew on my knowledge of mlp lore, who had green magic that was used in a negative fashion? I drew up two conclusions, Chrysalis of the changelings and Sombra, Tyrant of the Crystal Empire. But it matched neither of their demonstrations of magic in the show. Chrysalis for one wasn't a fish. Nor did these merfolk have Sombra's signature evil-magic-glare. Instead the mist was depicted going into their...cleavage? What?

Mind out of the gutter.

Sorry, hearts, that better?

Thanks brain. Much better.

I sighed, pondering the wall murals while we continued onward. It told a story of how three of these flying kelpie-mermaids brought anger and wreaked havoc on the populace by making them fight each other, before eventually it ended with the three of them confronting a familiar bearded unicorn who cast a spell to send them somewhere right before he was about to be defeated by them. I snorted at that, remembering the Samurai Jack intro, 'but before the final blow was struck, I tore open a portal in time,and flung him into the future.' Those words were some said by Aku himself during the introduction part of each Samurai Jack episode he had come from. To see that reflected here was hillarious in a child like way. While my puppets remained analytically inclined, I couldn't help but let out a soft snort of slight amusement at that back in the base.

The history from then on wasn't nearly as amusing, depicting a city of once proud merfolk descending into chaos, as the king was left to rule by himself, and new policies, bad ones at that, was enforced by the cities law enforcement. Eventually it lead to its near destruction at the hand of three nations combined warfare and descent into the mountains below through the combined effort of the king and his more magically inclined court of kelpies. It stopped there, a blank portion of wall stretching onward another good five yards before ending at a doorway.

That was when I first became aware of the stares. Though seemingly sourceless, as I couldn't spot any of them in the hallway with us, I felt my spine crawl from my puppets viewpoint, and I started to prepare myself just in case. Some slight motions, Davy Jones resting his hand on the hilt of his blade, and Aku's fiery eyebrows growing a tad bit more fiery.

"Anyone else feel like we're being watched?" Amber asked, and the other two didn't respond, neither wanted to talk at the moment, busy scanning their surroundings.

Then we saw the flash of a tail as something turned and fled. Aku went forward in pursuit, Davy Jones however, followed Amber, just so I wouldn't lose track of her as she pursued after my first puppet. Aku pursued forward, an amazing pace in comparison to the rest and that was when a spear shot out of a wall and impaled him. He didn't even slow as he merely phased through the spear, continuing onward to grab at the fleeing individual. Another trap, crossbow bolts firing out of several holes in the walls, and then a guillotine. A pitfall was flown over, and that was when the kelpie was grabbed. Much to the kelpies surprise and cussing.

"Let me go!" came the hoarse voice, of the anthropomorphic mermaid.

Brain, bad. Bad brain.

What? What did I do now?

Hoarse, really brain? That bad of a pun for anthropomorphic ponies?

Oh... Uh... Hehe... Sorry.

"We just want to talk." Aku stated calmly, not letting go, "Calm down."

There was a quick flash of movement from the creatures belt, which was wrapped around her waist where the fish half of her divided into the pony, and a dagger was suddenly inside Aku's face. Slowly it started to sink into him as the blue furred and scaled- okay, just what was she? "I do not recommend doing that again." Aku stated, "I am Aku, shape shifting master of darkness, and who, as well as what, are you?"

She didn't respond, squirming under Aku's grip, which only grew more encompassing as she resisted, eventually she gave up as Davy Jones finished dismantling the rest of the traps that Aku had activated in his pursuit of the... mer-kelp-pony-thing, "I'm Melody Belle, of the Sirens." she told me.

"Wait, aren't sirens supposed to be, like, magical bird-fish people with ugly faces but beautiful voices that drive others to fight one another?" That, surprisingly enough, was Amber rather than me, or my puppets. She had caught up and was panting lightly from a mixture of adrenaline and exhaustion. She had decided to sprint through the last few traps rather than wait for Davy to disarm them through use of a sword to their sensitive interior mechanisms. This present by the score of burnt feathers that now were singed upon the back of her head where a flamethrower had barely missed her.

"Myth and legend!" The Siren proclaimed, and she struggled to try and free herself, "Now let me go!"

"Calm down and stop trying to escape, and I might." Aku stated, circling himself around to prevent the last avenue of escape and standing Melody back up.

Aku didn't release her, as Amber started to interrogate the Siren. I sent Davy Jones forward further in to disable the remaining traps while they spoke. Quickly learning about how the Siren was not the only one here, but rather there was still a small village that was ruled by their all knowing God-King "God-King?" I asked through Akus voice.

"Kingslayer Sharp Opera, our one true god and king! If you don't let me go hes going to be mad! I'm late as it is already!" the nervous siren was eyeing Amber and my Aku puppet warily, and continued, "Nothing happens on Travestos that he doesn't know about."

From my office I started to write stuff down on a spare sheet of paper. Keeping the information jotted down while I organized my collection of growing tools. "Was that him with the three other sirens depicted on the wall?"

"Yeah, that was him a thousand years ago, hes changed quite a bit since then." She said.

"Any significance of the three other sirens back then?" I questioned some more.

she seemed to ponder if she should share, but a quick death glare from Aku fixed that problem, "They're were his daughters, A-Adagio Dazzle, Sonata Dusk, and Aria Blaze."

"Were?" Amber questioned, to which Melody looked somehow more intimidated.

"T-they were... um...sorta banished by a very nasty unicorn wizard about a thousand years ago, shortly before Travestos was buried underneath the world by the power of God-King Opera." Melody chimed.

"Buried underneath the mountain?" Amber asked, a slight look of disbelief on her face, "I can't doubt where it is, but how in the world did something like that happen?"

"He is the God-King." Melody said.

"I want a better explanation than that, the sheer magic or might he did this with or some-" Amber started but was interrupted as Melody repeated.

"He is the God-King."


"God... King." Melody repeated again.

Amber snorted with annoyance, and opened her beak to reply, but Aku cut her off, "God-King." Getting a pair of glares from Amber and Jones, who had rejoined us at this point. Aku shrugged, "What?"

"In all honesty though, what makes him, quote unquote, god-king?" Amber pointed a crossbow at Melodys face as she started to say the G word again, and said, "Think wisely before you speak."

"Well... Uh..." Melody hesitated, but added onto what she was going to say quickly as Ambers trigger claw twitched, "He shouted the previous king to pieces history says, and could shake the world with his voice! I don't know much about the king other than what everyone else would know, he's our king and that's how things are when you can't look someone in the eye!"

"No one made a comment about looking him in the eye lass..." Davy Jones commented.

The Title of 'Kingslayer' was already a dead give away that something was up, but it wasn't uncommon theme in fantasy for a corrupt king to be killed. But there was also the same chances of the situation being reversed, where the killer was the corrupt one. The comment about the eyes however, was what raised the official red flag in my mind.

"What kind of ruler is your god-king?"

Another half dozen red flags went off as the siren went pale and swallowed visibly.

Terror In Terror Town

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After about an hour of interrogation, Davy Jones was leading a small pack of fish-pirates down beneath the waters of the islands with Melody, while Aku was beginning to head up the soon to be unfortunate pyramid like ruins from the inside with a very paranoid Amber in tow. I had sent Davy Jones below the water with the siren, to preemptively cause damage control as well as fulfill the purpose of confirming the disturbing news that had been revealed to me.

Naught but traps and the occasional female guard awaited Aku as he climbed, so Davy Jones had the spotlight of my mind. He was mostly silent, as was I studying the creatures while I myself dug through my laptops recently acquired wikipedia of creatures for information on sirens back in my office. However, a few other objects were coming into play in secret while I scanned through the information regarding them.

Female after female, one after another. Not one male to be found. She took Davy Jones through the underwater fish tank that made up their society. A delicate and self contained biosphere that was only able to thrive based on a tightly controlled population of not only food, living space, animals, and plant life. But on a controlled population. A population of only female Sirens.

One king, and a city full of females, sure it was a mans dream at first, as well as a way to make sure that numbers stayed where they were, but the implications was dangerous, if not outright enraging. This was a sealed society, meaning there was no leaving this complex underwater cave network of stone and rock. No place to put the males. With none around, that meant one thing...

He had their men killed off when they were born, perhaps even before that point with what little I knew of magic. This, made my vision swim a very manly shade of bright pink.

Red. Brain.

Shut up, I know what I'm seeing.

The more I looked, the more the truth of this was evident. Run down buildings, and tired, exhausted workers. A good portion of them even had scars and bruises that weren't either old or accidental. A population of three hundred women. That was what this cave system was able to support alongside their king. Each one working day in and day out like machines under his rule. To what hope did they have, though, for a freedom? When even if they could expel or kill their king, they would of been doomed to a life of extinction due to the only male of their people also being their tyrant king? It was all too easy to dehumanize him, and create a monster in my head.

But then I reminded myself that he was indeed, a sentient, thinking individual too. That self reminder transformed barely bridled wrath into something a bit more manageable but vastly more driving. Pure and directed anger. The roof of the cave slowly started to shake as the plan went underway. This siren couldn't be all knowing or omnipotent, else his guards would of been more prepared as Aku all but overwhelmed each patrol as he happened across it. My hands itched towards my chest of tools, that was slowly growing with each day, but I withheld the urge based on my tacticians approach. To reveal all my tools now, and their scope would be foolish, I knew the real strategy to winning in a sterotypical fantasy plot would be to have the most cards hidden in your sleeves as possible. These were the things that drove plot along in not only games but actual shows and and stories as well. Things like Princess Buy-our-toys and Captain Plot Armor deus ex machina changeling repulsing blast, or Davy Jone's heart.

As equally bad as the slaughter of newly made/born men was what happened when a female was given birth while their population was still at the maximum capacity, their oldest member, any excess higher than ten a year, or one deemed unable to work any longer would be summarily slaughtered like live-stock to be replaced by the newborn. That newborn would be expected to start working by the time she could think, talk, and swim by herself. By the laptops reckoning, that was about the age of five. Melody said that there wasn't one Siren on this island other than the king over thirty years old. Which means that ten pointless deaths happened per year on the female side, along side that of the males uncountable numbers. In short, at the sheer minimum, over a thousand some odd years he had killed ten thousand of the female population, and an estimated same number of men alongside whatever havoc he had created for Equestria so long ago.

Melody was oddly quiet beyond what I had told her of my plan. With what she had told me being clearly confirmed, I took out all the stops regarding the puppets I had currently active. On the laptop, however, I was learning something new about sirens. Sirens had affinities similar to changelings, in the way that they could charge their magic with emotions, but also had a ponies natural regenerative magic to go along side. That said, their magic itself was elemental based, rather than just being pure sound. This affinity usually took form in one of three shapes, with a fourth extremely rare one.

From what I've learned, the common three forms from the order of most common to least common was water, which made up the majority of these sirens, as they were primarily an aquatic species, but still were amphibious in regard to evolution. Their magic was more on the lines of stereotypical elemental magic in regards it was the healing class of the sirens in terms of use. Which is what allowed them to be so hard worked in the first place without eventually dying from exhaustion and injury all these long years. The second most common was Air. These sirens could fly through the air similar to pegasus ponies, but were also able to swim in water just as fine. Melody herself as well as most of the guard and the three sirens that were with the king before they were banished by Starswirl The Bearded.

Physical appearance wise, the water variant had smoother and more dynamic fins for water based travel while the air variant had fins that were closer to a dragons wing and ears in fin design. The third, which was the least common in the standard races were the earth pony equivalent, who could literally swim in rock, but Melody as well as the book said that the breed that could swim in that substance was unable to live in water, sinking like, well... rocks and requiring a lot of resources that were usually very hard to acquire with a majority water race. I put the king under here, because it was the obvious choice for being able to sink a mountain, something of which I had my own doubts to still.

The fourth variant was a hybrid race between a dragon and a earth variant, the flame variant, but those, Melody had thought upon being confronted with this, was extinct. Primarily due to no dragons living in the cave, and that the only instances of that race had been before the tyrant had sunken the city. If he did do this, I would have to classify him as stronger than a dragon or the ice wraith of a windigo king that had caused me so much trouble, but still weaker than Twilight Sparkle or the princesses. I mean come on, Celestia and Luna raise the moon and sun in this world, and Twilight is supposedly stronger in magic than Starswirl was and could barely lift an Ursa Minor, the same Starswirl who took out the kings top three in his command by himself as legend has it.

Something was off though, was it just me or was the water getting warmer? I at first had ignored it due to thinking its just Davy Jones getting used to the water, but it was now growing past room temperatures. Soon enough I had yet another big worry that sent my plan into overtime and caused me to drag out a mask and crown from my chest, just in case... Well that might explain some stuff, I guess. But I felt something was off here.

I wouldn't know the truth until the inevitable fighting began though, and that meant the key word to every victory. Preparation. Aku himself was approaching a large set of stone doors as Amber caught up, and I slowed myself down to a casual walk. Not only to prepare for the rest of my plan, but to allow Amber to catch her breath. The griffoness was angry for the same reasons I was, as best as I could tell. While she respected a strong man, she couldn't tolerate any of the 'shark jumping minotaur turd' that had been transpiring down here either.

After a short rest, and once everything was in position, Aku made his way into the throne room to confront the murderous tyrant king that was Sharp Opera.

Roles We Play

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A deafening screeching groan accompanied the collapse of the massive stone doors that decorated the throne room. Inside was a room dimly lit with glowing blue mushroom lights alongside various softly glowing crystals. It was clear whoever this kings designer was for the castle had done a stupendous job, as its age was even evident without taking much of its dark glory through the years. The fancy rugs that must of once been red was a faded rotten black though, and that rug lead from the door up a set of stairs centered in the back of the room that elevated the throne itself higher into the air than any person in their right mind would sit at without seeming to all who looked upon it as safe. It would certainly give the Organization XIII thrones from kingdom hearts two a run for their money, as the throne itself was massive.

Even more impressive in size and shape was the siren sitting on it. He was easily five men tall, and the doors that lead to this hallway weren't just for show where this one was involved. Aku restrained himself from matching the king size to size, it was surprise that could be saved for later after all. If I simply reacted it would mean that I was already on the losing side of this argument and that I felt threatened. The same would be the said if I made myself smaller than I already was with Aku. So instead, I went fully into character with Aku, his pointed glare being silent upon the king himself who returned it with eyes of cold amusement.

Alongside his massive bulk, he seemed almost carved from interlocking pieces of stone, without scales or fur his body instead was similar to that of aging fake leather, only in a strange dark almost black purple rock instead of a softer substance. His eyes were like cinders and idly he chewed on gemstones with one hoof while his other rested upon the throne. his portraits and pictures did not do him any sort of justice, as the giant slowly eyed Aku up, and chuckled, "Who're you to oppose me, beings of shadows and flesh?" he spoke. Without any sense of grandeur or even the high society accent I had come to expect off the rich type of people that I had observed in my brief visits to Canterlot and Manehatten. Instead his voice spoke as if he were a lion, and Aku a mouse, "Do you think yourself a hero? To try and dethrone the rightful king of these lands?"

"A Hero?" Aku repeated slowly, his eyes full of unknown malice, and his gestures almost condescendingly slow and grandeur present in his solid black form. Eyes narrowing; Aku continued, "Is that what you think I am?"

"You come into my home, and talk to dethrone me in front of my servants, and you expect me to think of you as anything but a wannabe hero here to 'save the day'? Though I'll admit, I have yet to meet a creature as... interesting during my reign."

Aku's eyes narrowed at the towering figure who's spiral fins framed a crown made of the same crystals he was munching on, "I can understand why you would think that." Aku said slowly, pronouncing each word carefully, with measured thought, "The assumption, however, that I am a good guy falls short, as you can probably tell. I, Aku the shapeshifting master of darkness is the opposite of what you would expect. I do not merely intend to free the people from your rule, but to conquer it, and set it under the shadow that is Aku."

He sneered, "Good Luck with that shade. I am not just a king, but a god." he slowly rose off his throne, drawing out what looked similar to a sword but made out a heavy stone sword that was significantly different than most of the other rocks that made up this underground world, for one it had strange markings that glowed ominously with red tinted light. Great... Of course, I decided to pull a snazy one liner, and also one of my favorite quotes of all time.

"Any man who has to say that he is a king, is no king." Aku told him, and with the coming battle, Aku started to grow to his full height.

"Funny, coming from the shade who proclaimed his own title." the tyrant god-king replied, pointing his sword at Aku. Touche, Sharp, well played.

At a hand gesture, Amber backed off. She was outclassed, but I could do with the morale support. To his sword, Aku was wary, but it didn't prevent him from changing his shape to one of the several animal motifs he was known for, in this instance, a gigantic Scorpion. The battle began.

The speed of his first attack caught me off guard. For such a large creature I had been suspecting a lumbering clumsy giant, and it was the inverse. Aku's own claws was all that prevented him from being beheaded in that instant, as I caught the blade between them. "Oh, you caught it have we? Then this might be fun after all."

I replied with a laser eye blast to his face. To my surprise he didn't even flinch, "Is that the best you can do?"

Instead of replying with words, Aku let out a cackle, bringing his stinger to bear, aiming for his face, apparently the kings eyes weren't as willing to be struck as he avoided around the stinger to strike at Aku again. This time, I was prepared against his speed, and managed to dodge, only to discover that it was a feint and was punished with a nick to a claw. It sealed right back up, but it was disturbing. He was clearly a swordsman of considerable skill. I should of expected nothing less from an immortal.

I struck back, alternating between my claws, tail, and a combination thereof while Davy Jones readied himself for combat. Up above, where we had entered this accursed city, puppets were getting into formation, infantry class puppets that were the minions of Aku. From below... well that was a surprise.

He parried my blows, almost effortlessly, and countered when I had over extended my tail by cutting it off, hissing, Aku changed forms into that of a giant crab, enlarging one of his claws to act as a shield while the other struck at the tyrant by extending and yanking at the sirens lower fins whenever he struck. He got defensive after the first few blows managed to succeed in catching him off guard in the combat change, but soon enough he countered my shield and lance like tactic by cleanly slicing through both the shield and the grabbing claw.

If I couldn't defend or attack against him with Aku, then I needed to try restraining him. To this end Aku grew further, the Siren was no Jack and was unaware of Akus powers of regeneration and immunity to standard damage. His sword may of had magical properties embedded within it, but the strikes themselves were with the basic parts of the blade. I lunged out my form, eight tentacle arms from seemingly nowhere. He didn't flinch, recoil, or try to run, instead he calmly diced through half of my arms and nicked almost the entirety of the rest before they acquired a grip around him. He studied Aku as the arms merely regenerated and recombined with Akus mass as they forced the tyrants kings arms to his sides, and held him into place.

"So I see you rely heavily on magic." The tyrant king commented, as my pressure increased, "A good tactic... Against the magically inept, sadly for you."

He took a breath in, and I realized too late what he was going to do. He shouted. Shockwaves emitting from his shout causing enough force to cause the room to shake and pry Aku off of him like loose slime into a wall. Through my link I had to remove Aku's hearing or else suffer being deafened myself. however, some damage was done and already I was starting to get a headache from the sheer volume that attack had been.

Aku, pried himself from the wall, and the king started talking, probably about how he was superior in every way or some other piece of rotten cake at a birthday party. Aku deadpanned and gestured at where his ears would be if he had any. He looked more smug, and talked some more. So, I took some of my new reserves of energy and added it to Aku's next attack. Lasers spewed into a single point in front of Aku's mouth, and he breathed flames into that mass...

Magical Lightning spewed from that single point, and struck the 'god-king' hard enough to send HIM into his throne, and break it and causing dust and bits of stray rock to spew everywhere. "How about them apples?" I snarked from base.

Aku merely stood up silently in his default form and brushed himself off as the dust settled. The Tyrant King was getting back up, but he had a burnt spot on his chest... Okay that was an understatement, it was glowing bright red and it covered up one of his breast muscles. But his expression was absolutely livid. I turned on Akus hearing again to have some more mid-combat banter with the so called 'god', "You dare?!" He all but shouted, and I had to deafen the hearing down to as low as I could.

He was bleeding, but not by much, I called out in Akus voice as a devilish retort, "I thought gods couldn't bleed. What with being omnipotent and all."

With another shout shockwave heading towards us he charged, I had him dodge out of the way of both the shout and his sword swings as he resumed his assault. Aku blasting at him with magic while avoiding his attacks with forms like a snake and hawk, keeping a distance from the fighter lest my puppet get torn apart from the magnitude. Only a few minutes of tense dodging and attempted attacks passed by before the devilish serpent started to use his own magic.

It wasn't subtle, not in any sense of the word, his voice had changed from blind yells to a song, I cursed silently, as his voice added its own chorus and music to the song as he began its lyrics. I had braced myself for a shockwave that didn't come, instead it was like an aura that passed over everything, and began to warm up. It was then that I realized my mistake in identifying him as an Earth class siren, he was different. For one, his fins didn't match up with the depiction, and the rest of the rock like armor that coated him slowly began to melt off of him like ice to water, only in this case, magma. His first spell Caught me by surprise, as lava dripped onto Aku from above, a large block of melting rock collapsing onto Aku and crushing his form underneath as well as creating a hole in his own pyramid. Aku reformed, out and around the molting hunk of sludge. I needed to move this plan outside, I had prepared for him to be an Earth user, but hopefully this would still work. Aku shifted into the form of a Chinese dragon and flew out of the hole he had made, as the pyramid collapsed.

Aku was burnt beyond a regeneration ability, the material his mask having been made from not being a high enough quality to negate the damage.

"There is a prophecy.... his voice rang out, "Of a distant fire king-..." He erupted from his pyramid, a strand of lava in tow, lifting him up into the air like a badass.

"One born between union of fire and water. One born between-" I shut him up with a blast to the face. The music continued, however through the cavern as his voice echoed endlessly from his sheer volume.

He coughed smoke and glared at me again, underneath his rock armor he was still massive, but glowing bright orange and red as fire decorated a mane that was now visible around his crown, which had somehow withstood his heat. "Sorry, as much as I want to hear your song." My voice sounded from an intercom, "You won't be getting an entire one off, if I can help it."

"And who the heck are you?" Spark asked the air, looking around for me but not finding me. I chuckled grimly.

"The guy who's going to beat you." I replied.

He started to chuckle, then to laugh, "My destiny isn't to fall to no conjuration of darkness you little shades, not to a pony, griffon, siren, or dragon. I have slaughtered countless challengers during my reign and even more before that. What hope do you have against me? I am the legendary God-King and there is no stallion or mare that can defeat me!"

Oh really now? Destiny had decreed that no Pony, Griffon, Siren, or even dragon could slay him? Good thing I was none of the above. Nor was any of the people fighting him. They were all puppets. He was asking for it. I knew he could be injured, he got another bleeding wound from that strike, a small cut on the face but it was proof enough, I took a cannonball through a portal into my room, ignoring the filling sea water as I started to paint a logo onto it, grinning maliciously in my room as I sent wave two forward, "How about this?" I replied over the intercom before all hell broke loose.

Sheer numbers, that was the word that came to mind as I saw my waves of beetle like robots crawling in rapid pace out of the prepared holes in the ceiling. Airborne units armed to the teeth coming out like a freaking horde. Rocks started to fall as GLaDOS's mounted rocket turrets descended from the ceiling, armed with lethal rounds. It would be required for someone of his caliber. For the most part he looked bemused, "What are those? Insects? Really is that the bes-"

He was getting annoying so I had Aku punch him in the face... With yet another laser. Repeatedly. The first three made contact before he started to play the dodging game, and then the scythe armed bug bots started to fall on him. He was able to massacre them easily, but they were serving their purpose. It was clear that I was going to need something with a bit more, for the lack of a better word, oomph to it. So I called to mind the most powerful cannonball I knew that a standard cannon could operate in a show.

The complex shuddered as a blast of lava rammed into the hordes with all the force of an earthquake, and I paused momentarily to make sure that I didn't make a mistake on the logo I was painting on it. A picture of crossbones and a skull with a clown nose and a pair of plus shaped scars marked in the eyes. Next I'd have to quick dry it if I wanted to use it in time. Beside me, another pair of cannonballs were being similarly painted by robotic arms. Hopefully I wouldn't need more than one. But at the moment Aku was going to need even more help. The rest of the cannonball was painted red.

The normal minions and even the special ones that were iconic to Aku were getting slaughtered by the angry tyrant. His sword was glowing red and hissing as oil and shadow as well as bits of blood rolled off of his blade. That was the good news. The bad news was that the runes in the sword had activated, and the result was, to be frank, terrifying.

He was holding a giant flaming sword. There was no other way to describe that weapon than more over-sized than any jrpg blade that any fantasy hero could ever hope to wield. Worst yet, he held it in a way that suggested that it was no heavier to him than a pencil was to me. My eye twitched. At this rate Aku wouldn't survive, and he was one of my favored heroes. A trio of puppets spawned next to my chest and reached into it and grabbed out two masks and a crown...

My concentration left the beetles to retreat and vanish as Aku held his own. The underside of my facility was heating up and I found myself replacing the ceiling and letting the old one fall into the water where they landed with a loud bubbling hiss and sank into the water. Aku was like an airborne snake, avoiding as much as he could while maintaining the bosses interests, doing all he could to avoid that ever glowing inferno that was his sword, and then his song started up again, but the lyrics were lost to the blazing fire and the sounds of magma hitting water. The caves walls were glowing and starting to melt, at this rate, I was growing even more worried.

Aku was backed into a corner, the sheer size of the sword now having grown long enough that it should of been considered a giant freaking lance at this point of death and he prepared to deliver the final blow on Aku. Then was there was a noise clearly different than anything else that was going on. The sound of a whining engine.

"Hey, Fire man." Mr.Freeze said as his gun went off, "I think you should... cool off."

The angry fire siren tilted his head, still in song only to get his head struck with a beam of ice, and an explosion of steam rolling off him. It was just the opportunity I needed for Aku to vanish into a portal for recovery. Leaving three individuals standing before Sharp Opera as the steam cleared, a section of his head now covered in obsidian that slowly collapsed off and cooled, leathery skin, beneath him.

He glared upon the Icy metal clad warrior, a blue robed old man with blue skin and a white beard, and a very angry and spiky looking turtle the size of two men.

"Okay, what is with these people and Interrupting me?!" He shouted in annoyance.

Boom Shaka Laka

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I had chosen them based on their abilities. Mr.Freeze and the Ice King were going to be primarily on the offense, while Bowser would be in the defensive at first. The new information that came with seeing a chilled piece of Opera collaspe off and leave the spot barren had given me an idea. A dangerous one but an idea none the less, and a strategy was forming in my mind on how to acomplish what I needed to. Currently the three individuals were standing in the air on a large platform that another of my puppets was providing, and slowly expanding into an Arena in size. The King was angry. This being shown as his sword grew even more firey.

"Tyrant Opera, meet Mr.Freeze, The Ice King, and Bowser, king of koopas. Each of them have something in common, in that they're tragically doomed to be villains in their own story. However, thanks for confirming things that you clearly lack." I stated over the intercom, "One, you aren't a god, something that's been confirmed by your injuries. Two, you aren't omniscient, or completely aware of everything going on like a real god would be. Unlike what your people have claimed, you let a sneak attack from behind hit you unawares. Then there's number three. You are alone against me, and without the faintest clue to who I am."

"He kinda has a good point there," The Ice king commented, "Should I tell him who he is?"

"I would prefer if you'd not." Mr.Freeze replied, "He is our employer after all. He needs a certain amount of anonymity when dealing with this 'Kingslayer'. If this was a nice guy, perhaps."

"Ah," came the ice kings reply, "So we do what now?"

Bowser growled, and a textbox appeared over him, "Cool him off, and I'll handle the runt."

The king deadpanned, "Are you three gonna talk all day?"

"You talk a lot yourself Sharp." I commented from an intercom, which got a prompt sword slicing and was muted.

"Well, if he likes fire..." The Ice king started to raise his hands and prepare for a spell while Mr.Freeze readied his guns, Bowser crossed his arms, waiting and guarding the two ranged villains from a close ranged encounter with Mr.fire-death-sword.

The king charged forward, dodging past a beam from Freeze's gun, only to be hit by a lightning bolt of ice that appeared in front of him like a wall. While he crashed through it, and kept going, a second beam from Mr.Freeze met him, covering his upper body with a layer of ice and another explosion of steam. The ice broke but he was still charging forward, and right before he reached the less armored of the two ice villains, Bowser was suddenly in his face, and punched the sword out of the way. with his shell. Only to follow with a closed fist pimp slap, causing the firey king to recoil. Into the next blast of ice, which cooled down more of the firey magma that covered him, and left more of him exposed.

Breaking out again he swung his sword, catching Bowser and Mr.Freeze, but the Ice King flew upwards by the power of his magnificent beard and out of the way of the sword. Bowser took the brunt of the damage on his chest, a wound that would of been quite nasty if he hadn't been a puppet, and Mr.Freeze now had a large dent on his suit, but otherwise fine. I couldn't send Nox out, because the use of time magic would draw the two Alicorn sisters right to me, and the other masks I had wouldn't be any help currently, at least not unless I needed to buy the time that more minions could buy. Before Bowser could recover, the angry flying fire fish decided to slam the ice warrior off the arenas edge and cause him to fall, vanishing into the ocean with a new hole in his cryogenic suit. He wasn't dead, but he wouldn't be coming back up anytime soon with a heavy metal suit that he was wearing. That was going to make things harder, but I was almost done with the cannonballs. Just a few more minutes to stall, and I was going to try and expose as much of that damn tyrant as I could before I used them.

He went after the Ice King next, but Bowser was back, a spinning spiked shell ramming into him and distracting him once more. He was wary of the remaining ice user, but Bowser was able wrench his attention enough to start making the Ice Kings blows connect. Slowly more and more of his front was being covered, but then he did the unexpected... Yet again.

With more than half of his armor gone, he had decided to fight magic with magic, and get high and airborne out of the way of the king of koopas while focusing a single spear of lava into the air next to him, readying it to launch at us, presumably, so Bowser got between his target and it. However, the spear started forward, but a second one struck the king in the back, causing the destruction of the puppet in due haste.

I barely managed to get one last ice spell off, canceling out the first spear he launched at Bowser.

"Now what are you going to do Turtle? You're all alone, with no more magic to assist you." The king smiled, a feaure that made him look particularly creepy without the rock or lava around his face, "I outclass you physically in size alone by at least twice your size, and you can't cast ice spells from the looks of it. Am I wrong?"

Bowser Grunted, another textbox, "I am the king of koopas, not a mage, but I don't need something like Ice Magic for what I can do to you now that you're missing your armor."

"Your blows have been but annoying, like a fly buzzing in my ear. Aku was worse, what could you do?"

He raised his sword, intending on killing the Koopa King, with another smug smile that two more of my minons were dead and a third would join him. I smirked from my own perspective. And tossed a small blue and uniquely logo'd orb through a portal and into the air next to bowser. It was a tool I had made, but it wasn't one that was tradionally from his games, but he did have extended interaction with it before. Another intercom, and I said in the most imitative voice of an epic announcer I could do, "Ready? FIGHT!"

"What is that?" he asked.

Bowser hit the orb, and suddenly he was covered in a multicolored aura with the orb gone, I commented, in my normal voice, "You shoulda hit him when you had the chance man."

I could of sworn I saw the light in the cavern gone dark, the magma all over the walls failing to provide enough light as Bowser hunched over and suddenly became a LOT larger and more terrifying. He dwarfed the king in the same way that the king had dwarfed him earlier.

"So you're a dragon with a turtle shell then? Really?" the King said, deadpan, "It won't make a diff-"

Bowser suddenly leapt into him, pushing him off the platform and into the air, grappeling him. He did the most infamous dunk move of all time. He took the king, flipped him through the air, upside down. and then Slam dunked him into the bottom of the lake that was visible, and crashed his face into the rock beneath. Then we discovered what happened when ice cold water on the part of Mr.Freeze and his aqua born henchmen did to a giant fire siren.

The steam that rolled off him blinded us, and even from where I was I couldn't see what was happening. I did however, feel as the water levels started to drop and pressure of deeper waters were reduced. Minutes passed, and as the sound of the steam started to die away, I became aware of the scene. The water was no longer hundreds of yards deep, all the steam having sunk up to the roof into a thick cloud like fog while the pony himself was face down in ankle deep water that was as hot as a sauna. It wasn't all the water in the area, but it was about three quarters of it was gone. Mr.Freeze was working overtime to keep covering the area in ice in order to restore balance in temperatures.

The tyrant himself was no longer glowing, his sword broken from the rough impact no longer had a point and was about a quarter as big as it was before from the handle to the end of the remaining blade, which was fractured and cracked, but still longer than a great-sword in comparison to my size.The king himself had shrunk, I wasn't sure why but now he was no longer the massive giant that I had met in the throne room, but rather about a foot bigger than bowsers default form.

He wasn't moving, but upon inspection he had a pulse, but still didn't show any signs of conciousness... Had I won? I opened a portal from my room, to the spot after arming up, and rolled through in my mechanized wheelchair. "Hmm..." I said, trying to think of what to do now. I had actually expected that to go on a bit longer, idly, I rose bowser to pick up the king so that I could determine what to do with him later.

I turned to open another portal, that was when he struck. Bowser ended up with a sword poking out of his neck, and the puppet slowly collapsed, melting into a crisp as the inserted remainder of the blade shot the Koopa king full of fire inside out. He was still up.

"I...will not be defeated...by the likes of you!" the tyrant dashed forward, even faster than before and slashed the head off Mr.Freeze and then turned towards me, "So you are their master, eh? A cripple?"

Greatttttt... Just great... I gritted my teeth. this was going to be hard, Especially with already preexisting injuries that had yet to heal fully.

I vanished behind my deck of cards as he lunged towards me, stabbing through half the deck before it could separate fully. Plan A was now back in action. My cards lured him to a larger section of the remaining water before a good majority of the remaining cards flooded into his face. In the meantime, Davy Jones and GLaDOS were the last puppets capable of doing anything to him without alerting the princesses and ultimately dooming myself.

"I will sooner... DESTROY THIS KINGDOM THEN PASS IT ONTO YOU!" he yelled, and I didn't doubt him, I loaded the first of three special cannonballs into the front cannon while his vision was covered, cards were rapidly dying off to this maniac.

"Hey, Blunt Screech!" I taunted, from a card, "Say Cheese!"


the cannon fired.

The remaining cards other than the one I was on and the two guarding it were consumed with the siren in blinding light as the explosive went off. It was a Buggy Ball, one of the most volatile cannonballs I had ever seen in a show that was used by a rather incompetent pirate captain in comparison, but was threatening enough to blow away an entire line of buildings by itself. It was a tool I really didn't want to build or ever need to use, but this was almost required with this jerk. I was losing weeks of work in this fight. Aku himself was almost unusable now that he had been taken off and the damage examined. He wouldn't survive another encounter with Opera at this point.

When the explosion cleared, he was still standing. Heavily injured, but still standing. My jaw dropped.

"I... cannot... be... beaten... by...a... few... runts." he spoke,no longer booming in volume, but instead, took his sword, and threw it. Glowing, at the ship.

It nailed the next buggy ball that I had been loading up, and I cursed, the cards being blasted across the exposed sea floor and causing the siren to get caught in the edge of the radius of an undirected explosion.

Well, horse apples. Now it was just me, him, a mostly broken puppet, a puppet that was a building essentially, a puppet that wouldn't be able to do much at this point other than irritate him, and another I couldn't use unless I wanted crown one and crown two on me.

"Give up Opera. You can't win this!" I shouted, a bluff. On the off chance he would surrender.

"I will sooner end my own race than give it to you!" He shouted, "Even if I have to erupt the volcano that dwells underneath this habitat and turn this place to naught but molten rock and ash!"

"Yeah about that... Sort of already Evacuated them back into my base. Kinda late for that." I yelled at him, feeling smug. That was what Davy Jones and Melody had been doing while all this fighting had gone on. GLaDOS had used her ability to expand her boundaries in order to abduct and rescue all the civilians that were stuck here, currently they waited about two miles higher than this caves surface, with as many of their belongings as they could carry. Not that he needed to know those details.

"WHAT?" He yelled at me, "You come into my kingdom-"

"That you stole from the previous king-"

"Attack my guards, destroy my palace-"

"You kinda destroyed it yourself..." I commented, gesturing at the half melted temple.

"Beat me within an inch of my life at the cost of countless of your own men-"

"Yeah, funny store about that, they weren't real men." I commented.

"And then you steal my people as wel-" he looked at me, speechless, "Not real men?"

"Oh, how rude of me." I told him, "I haven't introduced myself. I am the Puppet Master." I told him with a grin, emerging from my cards, and standing on top of it, "Teller of stories, particularly those of the tragic variety."

With me, dozens of blank puppets began to emerge from seemingly thin air, and I stood up from my wheel chair long enough to give a formal bow, for emphasis.

"None of them... were real?" he said, almost repeating himself.

"Eeyup." I told him.

He fell to his knees, and put his two hooves to the floor, from the looks of it a vein bulging from his forehead, he fell into a rant of profanity. Some of which I hadn't heard before now. seriously, how was 'By your mothers mossy bum' a legit curse, in the end my puppets started to approach him when he looked up to me, pounding his hooves into the ground, he told me in a dead serious voice, "I am going to kill you if its the last thing I do."

He launched himself forward by the end of his fin, ramming through my ranks of basic puppets. Quick, Xander, think of something!

Too late. Wait, what? Oh Frak.

He rammed through my ranks of puppets like paper, and was now grabbing me and holding me by the neck. I couldn't move, unless I wanted him to snap my neck. My panic became very real, and my mind paniced with a puppet formed in my room and started to put the Nox mask on, I needed him. My last line of defense. But it wouldn't be in time. "It's time I ended this." He told me calmly, and in that moment I looked death in the face and prayed it wouldn't take me.

I choked as his hand started to squeeze, and suffocate me, and I scrabbled at his hand. He was so focused on strangling me, and I on trying to escape that neither of us noted something odd. The sound of flapping wings and a thwang noise.

Thunk! the pressure on my throat loosened as a crossbow bolt buried itself in my would-be-murderers arm, forcing him to let me go. He cursed and leapt backwards as another crossbow bolt found itself flying past where his head had been a moment before. My rescuer had been none other than Amber.

I gagged a sigh of relief as air came back to me and I coughed as all heck to try and breathe again, "Boss! Are you alright?" Amber called as she took aim and shot at the Siren again, this time managing to nail him in the other arm where the upper and lower arm met, and practically disable it. It seemed that his defenses had sunk so low that standard weapons could hurt him, but he wasn't done yet.

"Why, why must everything interrupt me?!" He shouted, "I will and can not be slain by the likes of you!"

Killing him was so very tempting right now, if not for the whole dooming his species to extinction thing.

Or was it...? I quickly went to radio with GLaDOS and when I had gotten the attention of one of the civilians that I was sheltering, I asked for Melody and got the hurried movement and soon I was talking to the siren in question, "Hey, quick question, how many of your friends are Pregnant and what are the odds that at least one of them are male?"

"Uh... why do you want to know about that?" she asked the computer that had my voice on it. "How are you speaking to me anyway?"

"Not important, I'm trying to determine what to do with your tyrant king."

"Oh, Pretty high odds at least five of our fifteen women who are currently carrying a male." she told me, "So, go ahead and do what you wa-" She paused, "Wait you beat him?"

"Almost." I told her, "Just one last thing to take care of. Do you mind if he ends up petrified in a Garden somewhere?"

"He murdered and almost drove my race to extinction with his greed for power."

"I'll take that as a no, you don't mind."

"I will not be IGNORED." Shouted the Siren, as he opened his mouth to shriek yet another spell. Nox appeared, in a flash, grabbing him by the snout in one hand and holding it shut.

Nox's eyes were narrowed into slits of anger, and I spoke to him, quoting what he had told me not an hour previously, "Do you think yourself a hero? To try and dethrone the rightful king of these lands?" I quoted him word for word, and he paled, "Let alone to seal your people into the ground, and drive them to a slow extinction and death within these caves? To murder them rather than let them thrive upon the surface of the world without you?"

"Well, there is one thing I can do. Two now that I think of it. Give my regards to Princess Celestia for messing up yet another of her duties to her subjects." A portal openned, to Canterlot. His eyes grew wide, "No, no!" he shouted through his hand muzzle, and he started to glow again, I didn't like that, but there was step two. In order to prevent him from murdering someone like he did a majority of my Puppets, I was going to do something slightly risky. The last time it had happened, an Ork god had to save my butt. But this time, I wasn't the victim.

We warped to Canterlot through the portal and from there, he tried to discharge his magic in an attempt to get Nox off of him. Time froze as my resident time mage held him still. I reached out and pressed my icy white hand to his forehead, and followed Skargors Instructions to commence a magic drain. I had very little time to act, Celestia and Luna would of no doubt felt the disturbance and would be coming.

I drained him, unlike the Windigo which had felt like I was being frozen solid, the fire siren had the feeling of molten rock that creeped up my arm, adding a red band to my wrist as I forced him to relenquish his magic reserves in a process that would be considered highly illegal by these ponies. I was essentially stealing a third of his being. His body and mind were two parts of every being, and magic was the third. He would never be the same, but it was a fate that was well deserved. He would never hurt anyone again if he had less magic than even the simplest earth pony. Even a squirrel could outmagic him once I was done.

I had barely completed the process, barely managing to contain what he had for a magic reserve within myself before Celestia and Luna had arrived, "Hello Princesses." I told them calmly. As if I wasn't wearing an arm cast, or had been strangled recently.

Nox standing next to me, watched them warily as Luna Spoke, "Puppet Master, what is the meaning of thou magic? Surrender yourself at once and remove this spell."

"I'll gladly remove the spell now that this threat has been disarmed." I told them, and Nox lowered the spell, causing the panicked former-tyrant-king Opera to go limp. He was unconscious now.

"Is that? No it couldn't be... Celestia muttered.

"It is Sharp Opera, the Tyrant King of the siren race, I found him in the middle of your country, and decided to take him down, another failure upon your part, deary. In the process he destroyed many of my tools, so I took the tools he used to commit mass genocide of his people and... well... I'll leave the rest to your imagination."

Celestia looked disturbed, and Luna curious, "What is he talking about, dear sister?"

"Luna, this was after you were banished, you wouldn't know of him. But I will explain later. But for now, the bigger question is why are you here, Puppet Master?"

"To give you a criminal, who due to your absence has taken the lives of approximately twenty thousand of your citizens over the course of one thousand years, give or take about five thousand kills. I may be a villain, but I am a being of stories. Lessons cannot be learned if the individual in question is dead, but at the same time his own people would have nothing to do with him. He is useless as a hostage for me, since I do not wish to harbor a cold blooded killer."

Lunas jaw dropped, and Celestia was wide eyed in shock, "What did you expect to happen when a psychopath immortal is left unattended on his kingdom for a thousand years?" I asked, when I got no response I tossed the Siren, who had shrunk to the size of the average pony now, at Celestia, who caught him, "Also this provides a time to see just how you work your justice system. I'll await the newspaper." With that I portaled out of there as fast as I could, taking about five different portals to different locations in Equestria before warping back home, laying down on my bed, and passing out for the rest of the day.

Goddesses I was tired.

Recovery And Relocation

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I slept well into the next day, only bothering to be woken up by Cass when it came to her appointment. Once I had a cup of coffee, it was back to work on her cybernetic limbs while several robotic arms worked on restoring the damage done to Aku as well as salvaging the remainder of my deck of cards, and figuring out a way to print a new deck. While I tinkered with the cybernetic limbs, which was coming along nicely and would be due to fitting and seeing how well it worked on the near limbless pegasus soon, I was going over some design choices with her before eventually settling on a hybrid design that would be able to morph between having hands similar to my own, and actual hooves. I didn't, however, mount it with any weapons other than a short hidden blade just in case. She and I both agreed that she would have to earn those particular upgrades, and expressed child like enjoyment at the prospect of even being able to walk again, let alone have a full range of body motion.

When I checked on Amber she was in Trixies room, sharing a conversation about what happened, as well as what little she knew of my agenda. The conversation was going somewhat against the blue unicorns belief, but the more she listened, the more her face slowly grew from disbelief into a grim slim line that I had never seen on a pony before. She listened mostly, only asking a few questions from then on. Only for the conversation to end and Amber to be bid goodbye as the Unicorn mare considered her options. Though she was one of the least I was concerned about. I would ask her for her opinion tomorrow, once she had time to think.

Melody was taking the elevator up, having been briefed, probably, by Amber as well when I had passed out, and now that the facility was beginning to work again, she saw it as an opportunity, probably, to come and visit me. Though she easily somehow managed to get lost on the training level...

"Hello, and welcome to the Aperture Science Standard Enrichment Training Center." GLaDOS droned out, from an intercom, "How may I help you?"

She looked around for the source of the voice, but when she didn't find it she asked aloud, "H-hello? I am, uh, looking for your 'Master'... To discuss about what happens now that the king is... ahem... gone."

"Third floor, second door on the left." GLaDOS informed her, and after a quick bid of goodbye the siren all but bee-lined to the elevator while I set my focus back outside to once again come to terms with the mysterious knight that had parked himself at the edge of my awareness. He was no longer alone, now joined by a smaller figure in a similar cloak, however this one was clearly a pony unlike the first taller well armored stranger. I could tell because he had pale green hooves and a tail that trialed past his cloak unlike the strange knight who had claws and was hiding what I presumed was wings underneath his massive cape.

I turned my attention away from them again to my work, which was the repairs for my remaining masks as well as planning out what masks I had to replace first and the tool I had lost in distracting and eventually defeating the siren tyrant. It also didn't help that my arm was sore, well the magic decorated one, I mean. Having a broken arm still in a cast was still painful, but it was muted to the weird burning sensation that was countering the colder one that my arm had taken up after the windigo king had tried to possess me. I did know one thing though, and that was if I didn't start learning magic soon as well, to the very least how to control its basic functions, there might be consequences.

At the very least I wanted to know and have complete control over my body again. Having magic was like having a third arm, one that I hadn't even learned to move properly yet, and in the coming days I was going to need every advantage I could get, if the last two battles were any indication. I was going to need a whole lot more than an army of masks and puppets if I was engaged directly. That meant training myself ontop of everything else. But that would have to wait until I could use my broken arm to its fullest extent again before I could try. Until then, I had a few ideas in mind to what I could do to compensate until then. But first things was first. The masks and magic.

The door to my room opened as Melody slid inside. I kept working, turning a camera to where I was working with my hands while I gazed at the siren directly, "Greetings Melody, what brings you here to me? I'd thought you'd be seeing to the resettlement of your fellow sirens."

My response had given her a momentary pause, as she quickly composed herself to deliver a reply, "It is about the resettlement of my people that I have come to you about." she said, "During your companions scuffle and eventual defeat of the god-kin-"

I interrupted her, "Any King who murders his subjects one after another for little to no reason is no king." I told her pointedly, "It is a tyrant. The same being who can sink a city and form a new mountain as a result has no excuse to maintain a forced population control and that is before we consider the males of your species which he also had butchered. But go on."

She huffed, "In the end at a cost to yourself you overthrew our... Tyrant, and ended his reign of us yourself. By our customs that makes you the next king, god or otherwise."

I paused from my work, the buzz of activity from where my consciousness was stretching, halting as I considered her words, and replied with my own, "Just because I defeated your previous king, your people would let a complete stranger of an alien race, who aspires to be a villain in their own right and has no experience with ruling be your king?"

It was a fallacy. Impossible. Absurd. Yet when I looked back upon her face, she was resolute, "It is by our customs that-"

"Your customs have about as much weight to be as a books words on paper." I told her, "Despite what Aku claimed in the heat of battle, Neither I nor he has the time, energy, desire, or skill in which to micromanage a small kingdom which hasn't seen the light of day for countless years, and have already put up with each of those years under one horrible ruler already."

"Our customs matter to us, its been the only thing that the king has been lost, and that a new one must take his place in order to lead us. Without one, I fear chaos will take the place of order in our society as a fact of life suddenly is called into question thanks to your actions." She replied, trying to shift a mountain of responsibility onto my shoulders, "If not you, who else would take the place of ruling our people?"

I was going to suggest a democracy, or a rule by the people for the people. But I would rather not end up introducing such a foreign concept as that type of government system after what she had already stated was a fact of their lives. The change could be suggested, but I think that would take months upon months of more added work combined with hundreds of years of adjustment and fine tuning until such a system would completely have its kinks worked out. Despite what others may think, I was still an artist, not a politician or judge, nor a lawyer either. So that meant electing a new King, or as my mind just came up with, Queen.

"There's always another option. You could lead them as their Queen."

She stuttered, adorable really, for some reason she reminded me of the book worm type person, maybe it was the stone slate she held clutched to her chest like a lifesaver, or perhaps her history with... well... history, "W-what?!"

"I can't really see someone more qualified," I started to explain before she started up yet another counter argument, "You're a member of the species who have some standing among your community." I told her, "You have a knowledge of history in regards to your past tyrant king, and have been able to hold a position of power that is neither militaristic or political in nature."

"I hardly consider a historian as a position of power, Puppet Master." she remarked back to me, and I chuckled.

"Knowledge is power." I responded, "And within the realm of leadership it is also said that history is learned so that mistakes of the past aren't doomed to repeat in the future. Seeing as you have knowledge, extensively in your failed king's mistakes. I trust you won't make the same mistakes he did."

"B-but I..." she trailed off, she had come to pin responsibility on me, and I had turned the tables on her, left without her argument and after a minute or so of sputtering, she finally came up with a cohesive sentence, "I... don't know where to begin."

I dismissed her worries with a casual wave of my hand, "Oh don't worry. I don't intend to leave you completely to your own devices, I will help with getting your people both the food and shelter they need considering the battle between the tyrant and my forces destroyed your home. I could even offer to take your people to the best water filled locations in Equestria, provided we have enough time to scout them out and find one that will be suitable to your people."

It wasn't like I had a dragons horde worth of bits and treasure after all. It was the least I could do for these three hundred some odd sirens. I had already started to calculate how much food and drink everyone in the compound would need for the coming winter, and my solution was a genius, yet very clear one. In order to not draw suspicion I would need to gather all the supplies from several major port and farming cities under the guise that I was going to sell them elsewhere in mass. A bit of fish from the port cities, a bit of vegetables from the various farming communities, and who knows? Perhaps some Apples from a certain Applebucking farmer.

My words had calmed her down somewhat, but eventually she questioned, "Why not someone with more military or political skill?"

"Because three reasons," I said, "First, and foremost is that I don't trust anyone who was adviser or guarding the tyrant king due to the nature of the tyrant himself. Villains and heroes tend to attract like minded individuals, unless you're going for a rag tag band of either. In which case I would of probably have seen half a dozen or so gimmicky mini-villains which would of done naught but annoy me to no end. Even if I could trust them, the nature of politics itself has often been regarded as the art of being friends with someone after you stab them in the back several times in a row back home. So someone without the motive or reason to backstab either me or my future allies is more preferred than someone else, which is reason two."

"What about reason three?"

I coyly winked at her, "You're the only Siren I know besides that tyrant king. Judging from your interactions with my..." I searched for the right words, "Extended Relations..." I finally settled on that, "You don't seem to bear particular ill will that your tyrant has been vanquished, unlike some who may have grown used to, or even liked the twisted idea of being nothing but a forced extended harem of sirens."

After a moment, she sighed, her shoulders slumping, "Very well then... I will run it by the oldest members of our group."

"Should they reject, I shall see to it personally who they would rather have in charge, as well as do a few tests... on their strength of character. Yours as well should you fail." I intoned, and with a gesture of defeat she slid off, exiting.

Though before she left she had one last remark, "I guess this makes you an Emperor, then Puppet Master, For you shall rule a Queen who shall rule a nation, A word of warning though, on the subject of Harems. You may be in for a surprise, several of us have been overjoyed by the news, and some far more than most. Should you find yourself with any number of guests greater than three at your door these coming nights... Beware their joy."

With those ominous words she left, and now I had to ponder what would happen. Would I be killed if I let them in? Driven to exhaustion from over-zealous fangirls? Did I have fangirls? that was an interesting topic itself. But now I was going to resign to locking my door tonight, just in case. I chuckled to myself after she left, a villain with fangirls? This was getting silly...

A Week Later...

"Coffee Boss?" Amber asked me, and I groaned an affirmative from my desk.

"Yeah... Too much noise... mind keeping it down?"

"That marks, what? Seven nights in a row, and you still haven't let any of them in?" Amber asked, as she poured, what I was starting to consider, a god-in-a-cup-named-joe.

"Basically. I had to add a hallway between my room and the door just to get some sleep last night. Who knew Sirens had such unbearably loud voices when they want to get into something with someone who has no intentions of doing so."

"Shouldn't you be bringing this up to your little Princess downstairs?" Amber asked, taking a sip from her own mug as I all but drowned in mine, before resting my masked chin on the table again, "I've tried, shes not having much of a better situation, apparently same-gender-couples are a commonplace thing in her world, as shes been asked out so many times for bringing the 'savior from above' down on their hated overlord. In any case, shes tried to repel hers as well as mine, but only time seems to get it to their heads that we're not interested."

"You could save yourself the hassle if you just married the princess." Amber suggested.

"I don't even know her, so why would I marry her, and on the matter of Princesses... Why do people keep calling her Princess? There's no Queen or King above her."

Amber shrugged, "I think she's still hoping that you will be their king, personally. Certainly has a weird ring to it, "King Master, lord of the puppets and musical fish-ponies. Shoo be do-"

"Somepony kill me now." I whined, cutting her off,"Shes making references she knows naught about. Its not even my name anyway, that's my villain name..."

Amber took it in stride, she had learned really quickly that a sleep deprived Puppet Master was a cranky one, and it was her who had suggested the coffee in the first place after day three of hardly any sleep, "Well what is your name then, Boss?"

"Only if you promise never to sing ''shoo be do' ever again." I muttered, in hindsight, I had been meaning to tell her, if only to make conversations easier. Amber had saved my life, and that act had done wonders on my perceptions of the griffon.

"Deal. So spill." she brought up a chair next to mine, one that was usually reserved for Cass during her visits.

I sighed, "Alexander R. Herrington. I prefer Xander more than Alex," I gestured with my hand to the air above my projects, as if mocking a theater performance, "It sounds more... Exotic... That way." I finished before letting my hand fall limp to my side again.

"What's the R stand for?" Amber asked.


"You're kidding." she deadpanned.

"My parents had a sense of humor, sue me." I muttered, going officially face down into my work station.

"Alexander, Red Herrington." She put emphasis on that part of my name, and I groaned.

"Please stop, its a joke that never ceases to be the opposite of funny."

She cackled, she downright cackled, and repeated my name again, "Stttttoooopppppp...." I groaned again, giving her a pointed glare, "I really can't take it right now, I need to work if I'm going to have everything ready for the trial tomorrow, and I'm probably going to need to pass out early tonight due to it being held in the morning."

She chuckled a bit more, before relenting, "Fine, fine, here, take another cup of coffee Boss, Though I do admit, your last name sort of has its own ring to it as well."

"King Herrington?" I muttered, under my breath, "Great, I sound like some sort of guy who gets assassinated after a season or two of show time to throw a plot in another direction."

Amber rose an eyebrow, "Pardon?"

"Just muttering about how I will make an entrance tomorrow." I replied in turn, and she gave me a quizzical look.

"You're a weird guy, Xander."

"All the better to do villainy things with." I muttered, not even trying to come up with a witty reply. Man my bed looked comfy... Ugh...

To Defend By Attacking

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Canterlot Throne Room: 9:21 am, October 21st, 0002 RoL(Return of Luna)

It was early morning in the day court of Celestia's time of office. I had snuck in several eyes as I awaited the trial of Sharp Opera, the former tyrant of the underground kingdom of Sirens. He was a bit less worse for wear after I had last seen him, bandaged to the point where he was half a fish, and half a mummy in my eyes. The arm that Amber had shot to make him release me near the end of our scuffle was in a cast, the crossbow bolt probably having broken a bone in his elbow, or at least severed enough muscles to warrant the cast. His colors were muted from the magic drain I had done to him, magic which still coursed through my veins, after having captured what he had in terms of mana regeneration and storage reserves. He looked depressed, and rejected as a result of my actions, and it was a punishment in itself to no longer have even the semblance of magic. I watched as Celestia had her guards escort the Siren, who was now barely smaller than one of her guards, escorted in and to the front. From here, I could already critique what was wrong in this court room.

For one, it lacked the basis any good court room had. A jury, as well as a lawyer to defend the accused, as well as a lawyer to try and push that the client was guilty. She rambled off a long line of dialog that had barely anything to do with the case but to relist her title, as well as her present attending guards and politicians, as well as those names of the audience attending her court before she laid down an elegant version of what I myself had told her about Sharp, and some grievances and law breaking that he had committed in the distant past before he had sunken his kingdom underground. Past that, however, my blood broiled. She was going to go straight from the accusations, without any evidence mind you, to sentencing the tyrant with her biased view point of him. While he did deserve to suffer, it was an injustice to just how things were ran, especially after I had learned the truth about petrification. Sharp didn't even have the chance to head to a stand and testify his actions, not that such a stand existed in the first place.

It was abominable enough that I took action as Celestia started to say, as if she had any right to say after this mockery of a proper court room, "Now if there are no objections, I princess Celestia hereby proclaim that Sharp Opera is hereby guilt-"

A loud noise from outside the court room interrupted her, and she was puzzled. Her guards and the others watching this court hearing, also turned their heads to face the front door, rather than watch their princess continually like a bunch of puppies waiting for a treat. I spotted a number of crystaline cameras and pads of papers with pens, reporters, oh joy. Once more one of my puppets knocked on the giant doors that guarded the court room from the central courtyard of the castle. Before pushing it open with another puppet of mine. Revealing not only Aku, but myself as well as Nox and a few other puppets that had made my entourage as well as several Sirens who trailed behind me like they were ordered to. With my door opening, I yelled, "OBJECTION!" in the most lawyer like voice I could muster.

If Celestia was surprised, she didn't show it, her calm demeanor returning in place of curiosity, "And what do we have the pleasure of your company, Puppet Master?" she asked.

"Well besides you making a mockery of a court system that is?" I stated bluntly, in my arms I held the keys to my success, striding forward as my legs had recovered over the past week, I continued, "Besides from the laws stating clearly otherwise, your history with the accused leaves you biased. This is grounds for a rejection of your judgement alone, as well as several other key factors that make this court room a failure to even try and resemble a lack of the proper term, 'justice'."

If anything, Celestia was as much poker faced as ever, "Go on."

"You also leave a basic lack of a fair trial by not including a defense or prosecution to this case, and leave the basics of law jurisdiction by article 12, which I quote, is "Evidence ultimately determines the truth in court. The fact that you laid all these accusations at the fins of-" I was cut off as Shining Armor and his goons tried to send spells to try and arrest me, only to get deflected back at the guards from the Rosarie I carried that was being boosted from the magic supplies I currently had, "And for the love of Pete, Shining Armor, wait your turn." Aku chuckled.

"As I was saying, the fact that you laid these accusations at the fins of a former tyrant of another kingdom, which is also a jurisdiction you do not technically have in a court of law, but also lack any evidence to back up your claims."

"And what, pray tell, does thou plan to do about this?" That was Luna, having joined the court room from a side hallway, I wondered if she was just watching from the shadows or if she had been awoken by my intrusion, or if the Alicorn of the night had been curious to the individual that was being punished today.

I smirked, "Simple. create an unbiased court room with a new judge, and act as prosecution with actual evidence that I have gathered against what you claim is a legal defense for the accused."

The diarchy now were both curious, and Shining armor sputtered, "The princesses aren-"

"Please, Captain Armor, let us see how he wishes to proceed, if anything this will certainly spice up this morning." Celestia said, taking a sip from her coffee.

I had been expecting resistance of some sort, but apparently not. They were really going to let me go through with this? Huh. "I guess with your permission, its time to readjust the court room."

Without further ado, I whistled for cosmetic effect, as a pair of tables and chairs appeared near the audience, and my group of villains moved off to the side, giving paranoid glares at the guards until Celestia waved them down and caused them to back off. In front of the raised thrones of the sun and night, a smaller raised chair and table that had been made during the week before arose, with a gavel that could be gripped in a hoof. Alongside this, a row of chairs for my witnesses arised and i gestured for the sirens to take a seat. Off to one side of the court room, a jury booth was also dropped down via portal, and without further ado I started to pull ponies at seeming random from ponyville to fill the jury booth. As for the judge and defense...

"Luna would you please step forward, and act as the judge to this case?" I asked aloud.

That caused some surprise from the court, and I asked, "During our short meeting a week previously, you expressed both surprise and no past ill will towards the accused when we met. I would like to nominate you as the judge for this case as Celestia has far too much of a history with said accused that it would impair her judgement."

"My sisters judgement is just fine, thank thou very much." but at a glance to Celestia, who nodded and gestured for Luna to take a seat inside the judges table.

"Uh, what's going on?" one of the jury ponies I had grabbed, Roseluck if I remembered her name properly, asked.

"How in Equestria did we get here as well?" Applejack spoke, darn it. Meant to of grabbed Big Mac instead of her, but she'd do.

"Pardon the events, my little ponies." Celestia said to the jury, moving herself off the throne and trotting aside the jury booth, "It seems that we are in need of an jury to fulfill the role that this... experiment requires."

"Why does it require him?" Applejack pointed at me, and I held back a chuckle as Celestia explained

"He was the one who proposed this event to spice up the morning. Though I do not know where he is going with this."

"Nor do I..." Shining armor also added in, for what he was worth.

"Now all that is remaining is the defense. and I can't see a mare better qualified than..." Okay this was a dirty trick, even after the jury. I could spy the lavender mare eating breakfast with her young dragon secretary, and in a burst, a portal had opened beneath both her and her assistant and dropped them along with their breakfast onto the waiting hands of Aku, who brought the surprised duo to fill the chairs next to Sharp, who was eyeing me with a look akin to actual fear.

He was afraid of me, that I could see. In less than a day I had already taken his kingdom from him, as well as his magic and lead him through a fight that was ultimately deemed pointless against me, as he failed to kill one actual living being and instead destroyed nothing but toys.

Twilight Sparkle was enjoying pancakes that her assistant Spike had made for her, the young dragon himself enjoying a cup of coffee to wake himself up for the morning. They were talking about what they were planning to do for the day, before suddenly they found something odd. For one, their floor had vanished, and instead had turned into open air, and the second was that they were falling. A fall that started with a gasp of surprise, and ended with Aku catching the startled duo and their breakfast and depositing them, chairs, table and all next to the tyrant. Who shifted not so subtly away from Akus large hands.

"Wha-?" Spike muttered, rubbing his eyes, as he took another drink from his coffee, looking almost completely unphased by the sudden scenery change, "Am I dreaming or did we just fall through our floor, into Canterlot?"

Twilight, however, was a lot more freaked out, not just by the scenery change, but by everything that was going on around her in this courtroom.

Turnabout Puppet

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Canterlot Throne Room: 10:01 am, October 21st, 0002 RoL(Return of Luna)

I was currently waiting at my desk, while the court room chattered to themselves, and others took pictures of me and my minions. My stance, leaning idly in a medal chair with my feet resting on another one proposed that I was relaxed, when I was anything but. In fact the longer i sat here, the more unease I felt. despite about half an hour having past since Twilight left with her new client after a brief exchange between the rest of us and herself. Spike was also missing, but only for the first ten minutes, after which he sat at the table opposite of mine, and started doodling in a spare sketch pad a reporter pony had decided to let him borrow. From what I could over see, he was drawing a vague set of images of the villains I had standing on either side of the throne room, occasionally adding and removing details. Currently he was being frustrated by Aku's ever moving firey eyebrows, and trying to draw the fire was causing the little dragon much annoyance until he eventually erased his twelfth attempt and simply wrote the word 'fire' above each eye and continued on.

Though the distraction did little to ease the tension in the room as Twilight came back in with the former tyrant, looking visibly shaken despite her best efforts as the later looked on with a curiously dead expression that spoke volumes of disgust to his own impromptu lawyer. "Welcome back Twilight Sparkle." Luna spoke up, after they had took their seats, "We trust that thou has been properly informed as to the current circumstances of your... client?" she spoke the last word hesitantly, questioning the legitimacy of the word in regard to the Siren.

"Yes Princess Luna, I am ready to begin when you are." Twilight responded, looking through her notes, which were a collection of paper floating around her in a slow orbit around the lavender mare as she nervously scanned through the piles of documents probably not for the first time.

"Is the Jury ready?" Luna asked as well, and almost as one the group of jurors nodded, "And is the..." she looked over the small handbook that had been left on the desk, "...Prosecution ready to deliver the opening statement regarding the crime in which the defendant is being accused of?"

"I am your highness." I remarked, a facade of calm over my own worries.

"Then let us begin, Prosecutor."

Slowly I stood up, "We are gathered here today for the trial of Sharp Opera, former tyrant of the kingdom of Sirens that was sunk beneath the earth a thousand years ago after the failed attempt to usurp him from his rule. Sharp stands accused of innumerable murders, oppression, rule through force and oppression, usurping and killing the Sirens previous king, and the abuse and forced sex with the women of the siren nation during his rule of one thousand years."

I could hear quills writing furiously on levitated paper behind me, as I stopped talking. Luna nodded, and turned her gaze to Twilight, "Does the defense have anything they'd like to say regarding these charges?"

Twilight shook her head, as the siren next to her grumbled inaudibly. Luna continued, "If that is the case, then please continue, Prosecutor."

"I'd like to call my first witness to the stand, The historian of the Siren kingdom at the time, Melody."

I left out that melody was to be the future ruler, as we had yet to get everything cleared up with her own people yet. After Luna's own agreement to this, the siren in question took up to the stand and I stood up as well, "Melody, if you would please state for the record, how many recorded crimes that Sharp Opera has committed over the years."

She nodded, bringing out a stack of papers, and flipping a page, "This packet, is a list of every name of every siren that has been killed by Sharp Operas hands over the course of one thousand and twelve years of submerged ground. When counted all together the number of our species that have died to his hands is eighteen thousand four hundred and ninety seven Sirens, of those eighteen thousand, twelve thousand of them were male as he tried to drive us to not just obey him from force but as the only biological way to reproduce or else go extinct even if we did take him off the throne. A majority of these males, if you can't tell from my implications, were murdered just after birth, personally by Sharp, who oversees each mare who bears his children."

There was numerous audible gasps, even Twilight Sparkles jaw had dropped at the implications, but Melody wasn't done, "This is just the Sirens, mind you. Searching our records farther behind, before Sharp had driven us underground. there are records of numerous fights among the numerable respected nations of Equis before it was united and driven back by the princesses. These crimes are too numerable to count and in the end must simply be given to the judge in its raw form." She handed off the packet to Princess Luna, whos wide eyes scanned over the documents.

"Now, Melody, what would you say that Sharp Opera has been in your eyes?" I asked her, and she spoke on.

"Sharp Opera has culturally been adapted to be our god-king until you came along, Puppet Master and managed to break his torturous rule over our people. To me he was a monster that demanded my constant attention and care to detail lest I be thrown to the magma of his rage and die."

More scratches of quill on paper in the back and Twilight remaining stock silent.

"Thank you Melody, the prosecution rests their case." I said, returning to my seat.

Luna looked over the records I had originally given her, though she had a hard time, while scanning through the large stack of papers that melody had also added to the desk, "Thank you Prosecutor, if the Defense has any questions for this witness, please let it be done now."

Twilight nodded, and stood up, taking a deep breathe to calm herself as she approached the stand and began to cross examine Melody, "These records of yours, how are they kept?"

"They are maintained and recorded by the lore keepers within the old temple that they were wrote. As of my generation it is my duty to maintain these records and make sure none are lost upon their stone walls." Melody replied smoothly.

"Have these records ever been mishandled or exaggerated at all?" Twilight asked, next, pursing the line of questioning.

"Never in recorded history. These records are also the recorded history of my people, and the tools provided to add onto these histories as well as maintain them from eventual wear are only kept by the Lorekeeper who has the trust of her people." Melody stated, her face a cool gaze of ice to Twilight's curiosity.

"Alright then." Twilight sighed, before starting an additional line of questioning, "Do you know of the motivations behind Sharp Operas actions? More specifically what do you know about him on a personal level."

Melody shook her head, "I was born long after he forced our kingdom into the ground. Though I am under the impression that our ruler with his massive amount of power, which he used to keep us subservient to him, could of also been used to expand upon our domain rather than cause the countless needless deaths of our people. His power was massively evident in the records of the past as well as recently in the past when he had partaken in battle with the Puppet Master, or the prosecution of this case."

"What about his personality and demeanor?" Twilight asked again.

Melody looked to the defense position, where Sharp Opera had raised his gaze in a glare towards Melody, who gazed cooly back at him as she spoke, "During my interactions with him over the years of my life, it was utter terror to behold his outlook. Whenever I interacted with Sharp Opera it was like I was an object, rather than a person, one that could be discarded at a whim, and that was terrifying. Because to be discarded under his rule would mean to die."

Twilight was struck speechless, presumably under the gravity of Melody's words. I had to remind myself that this was the 'peaceful' land of Equestria that hadn't seen much of war or violence over the last thousand years, and that this sort of thing wasn't as known as it was in my own world. Where the magic of friendship wasn't the overriding factor but rather a combination of luck and skill in an overall competitive business structure ruled my world, with the infamous sins of greed and wrath among others sparking wars and controversy. Equestria, in comparison, had known far less violence on its open kingdom as of recent, though I suspected that a thousand years ago it was comparable to an apocalypse. Considering the amount of villains that were returning from a 'thousand years of fill-in-the-blank-here'. From the shows lore and what few accurate history books I had taken from Twilight's library, and the Siren's own kingdom, more than six or seven major events had happened 'a thousand years ago'. Just what had happened on that chaotic year?

Twilight continued to question Melody, each response of hers worsening Sharp's overall appearance to the crowd of jurors and reporters. Soon she moved onto the other assembled Sirens, each providing their own stories of misdeeds they had experienced under Sharps Tyranny, as well as an restrained ex-soldier of Sharp's being presented to the court for the fanatical worship he had induced in them. After that final example, Sharp was finally called to the stand to offer his testimony to his own acts as the ruler of the Sirens.

To the point, princess Luna was the first to speak after the sluggishly moving siren had taken to the stand, "Sharp Opera, do you promise to tell the truth, and nothing but the truth, as by adherence to this court room?"

Sharp didn't reply with words but rather nodded.

"Please address the court room that you will speak the truth and nothing but the truth, Sharp." Luna asked again.

Bitterly, the former tyrant replied, but rather not to Luna, instead glaring at me, "What is the point of this trial, Puppet Master? What do you stand to gain here, putting on a show for these masses? My sentence will remain the same, despite your interference."

I remained silent, not speaking but rather with a steadfast slight grin to my face, hopefully one that spoke of mysterious undertones rather than looking just clown crazy psychotic or something. Judging from my puppets view it was thankfully the former, rather than the later.

With no response forth coming from the prosecution, and Luna on the verge of redirecting the tide of the court again, exasperatedly the siren shushed the judge, "Fine, we'll see just where this goes Puppet." He turned his head towards Luna and Twilight's general direction, facing the open space between the two of them with his gaze, "You wanted the truth and the whole truth? Fine. This is the words of God-King Sharp Opera, Siren of the molten earth. Listen well Pony folk, for this is a tale I will only be telling this once."

He took a deep breathe and began, before any interruptions could begin, "Once upon a time, around a thousand years ago, Equestria was nothing but war and outrage. Crystal ponies had vanished off the face of the planet. Chaos and Disharmony personified roamed the lands spreading its poisonous roots throughout the lands. The three pony tribes fought bitterly hoof to hoof, sword to magic, magic to lightning and back again. It was a land where the undead roamed the mountains in the rulership of an evil necromancer goat, Where a centaur tried to cause eternal night with a bag. Where species arose, and went extinct within the same decade. Among this chaos and turmoil was the Sirens. My Sirens."

His glare turned away from us towards Celestia, his head almost turning completely around in order to spot the Alicorn who was watching impassively from her throne behind Luna's judge-seat, "We lived a simple life behind the waves, a small nation of three cities off the coasts of Equestria. At least until Equestrias problems, or more promptly Celestia's problems started to become ours. First it was the momentary distraction of sending Discords chaotic mind our way. We lost our first city to him as he turned our members into flying bears and fishes, never to be seen again, though I presume they died once his magic had been sealed behind that barrier of stone that the elements of harmony had caused."

He turned his gaze back towards the judges stand, "The second city we lost during the rise of Nightmare Moon, the moon she had brought forth having caused several tsunamis, and with it dragging the city of Kelpton out from the beaches edge and throwing it miles inland, where a majority of the water dwelling members of our society, died, screaming from their injuries, unable to be treated or healed with the state of medicine of that era. It was there that our kind got our names, as we wailed for our lost."

He looked almost sickened with those words, as if he wish he could destroy the namer of his race. He continued on, his rant growing more vehement as he went on, "My uncle, the ruler before me had agreed to meet with Celestia on terms of joining forces shortly after, much to the growing hatred of the rest of the noble court. I was third in line before the first city had fallen, and had become the last in line after the previous events. I was convinced beyond a doubt that my uncles path lead to ruins, with the utter carnage that had been brought forth by the nation this Princess had governed, I decided to take action before it was too late."

From the back Celestia commented, quite calm and conversational, "I was going there to make amends with your late uncles kingdom, and repay the debt we owed."

"You mean like how Commander Hurricane broke the back of the Griffon united tribes to repay them for the emergency food they had offered your nation when it would of otherwise starved hundreds of ponies?" Sharp shot back.

"Wait a second," Twilight's voice rose up, and I shifted my gaze to watch the lavender mare as she spoke, slightly confused, but more than certain of what she was saying, "Commander Hurricane lead a counter force against the Griffon empire's planned invasion and saved multiple other nations from them by destroying their armies!"

"Is that what the poisonous leach teaches to her subjects these years?" Sharp Opera sneered at his defense, "I'll have you know that Bi-"

He was cut off as a Gavel landed on his head, three times, while Luna proclaimed, in a royally loud tone, "Order in the court. We will have order in this court!"

I winced, improper use of said gavel, but it worked well enough, I guess. Luna stared between Twilight and Sharp, her own glare cowing the two back into their seats, they had slowly raised into a standing position as the story had went on, and it was Luna's words of sure confidence and cold undertones that reminded them where they were, "The Defense and onlookers will remain silent until the Accused has finished his testimony," She looked to Sharp as she added in, "And we would appreciate it if you wouldn't refer to our sister in such hostile terms."

"She's not our sister." Sharp replied under his breathe, "Just yours."

Luna redoubled her glare, on him and he sighed, "Yes your Blue-ness."

Ignoring his name calling Luna gestured for him to continue, and he did, much more subdued, but around twelve times as bitter, "Disposing of my buffoon of an uncle was easy enough, he was a wind siren, and I was of fire. While he sat and ruled and grew fat, I had spent the dawn of my youth to my adult age training to someday take a stand as an active noble of either of the three cities. It was easy to start a coop, since his advisors were already angry with his decisions, and in the lime light of approaching doom, a change of office wasn't out of the question. After he was dead, we prepared for war and calamity."

He stopped for but a mere moment, looking down into his hooves. "Our declination of friendship with the princess who had been a part of destroying two of our three cities was ultimately our downfall as the bloody evil b-"


Caught between a curse and a sentence he continued on, wincing in pain, "-eeeuttiful mare that was Celestia, upon learning of the change in rulership, charged us with her cutie mark incarnate."

"We refer to the event as the sundering from the surface." Melody quipped in from the rows of witnesses. Before a gavel tapped her on the head to be quiet. I really shouldn't of just left the instructions as 'use the mallet to bring order to the court'. Those poor heads.

"She threw the sun at us, and with the combined might of all our remaining mages, we shifted the entire city out of its path of destruction before it could hit."

"We didn't know where we ended up in, but it was deep underneath the earth, where we hoped that no one would ever find us again. From then on there, it was population control, all unneeded beings were killed as per our bylaws. Only the needed population from those who had been warped into that miserable cave were allowed to stay alive. The rest, you already heard testimony from."

He shook his head sadly, "We only needed one male to maintain the population, and early on my magic was burnt out from the amount of effort it had taken to move the city. One of the last laws wrote was that we were never to expand upon our new dwellings, lest we find another ancient evil like the likes of Nightmare Moon, Sombra, Tirek, or even Grogar."

"This is quite the tale you have wrought for us all." Luna replied her voice ever the room filling volume it was, staring as though for the first time, at the being in the witness chair. She had been staring like that, entranced since he had mentioned Nightmare Moon, Luna's alter ego that the elements of harmony had cleansed from her, "If the prosecution and defense would like to cross examine the accused, please do so now."

Twilight remained sitting, switching her gaze, from Sharp to me and back. I rose, but didn't walk towards him, "I have a few questions for you Sharp."

Sharp remained silent.

"Why was it that you haven't tried expanding? At the very least it would make sense to know where you are, even if you had to collapse the tunnel afterwards."

"When you dig, does the stone and dirt you break apart magically disappear?" Sharp snarked, "No, it becomes pebbles and other fine rock, While I may of been able to eventually melt the rock, where would that molten rock go? Into the community?" He rolled his eyes and snorted.

"Not a moment ago you admitted to having a group of sirens to teleport an entire city, and yet it never once occurred to you to teleport the debris of rock from mining away?" I replied back.

To which, Sharp remained ominously silent for but a few moments, before replying calmly, "It wasn't the sirens who had provided the spell." He sighed, "It probably dosen't matter anymore, but a unicorn was the one who provided a nexus for our desperate magic to connect to and fuel his spell. It was tremendously draining, and several of the sirens who had partaken in the ritual had died from energy loss afterwards. Siren magic is primarily sound based, not spell based."

I added that into my mental notes as well as my laptops notes, as Twilight asked a question, "So would you say it was fear of... the other forces of the outside world that forced you to commit these... heinous acts, and maintain your tyrant nature all these natures over a mental state of constant peril?"

Twilight's response was...subdued, still trying to wrap her big brainy head over the implications of what Sharp was saying. Sharp offered no excuses for himself, "I did what I had to to make sure my nation survived. I knew not how long an Alicorn could live, so I made preperations for our nation to still exist in a virtual paradise of perpetual stasis. I turned law and government into religious practices, and made my mark upon our histories. I do not deny it, and I await my punishment Stone me if you wish, you will not have the pleasure of hearing me beg for mercy. Nor will I waste what time I have left concocting lies and treasonous slanders in front of two former apprentices to Star Swirl the Bearded. One of which, during my time, bore the element of honesty at that."

The bold statement left Twilight speechless, as well as myself. I wasn't sure exactly how to respond to that. I had been hoping for some kind of excuse, or something to tear down, but with Sharps ever mindful gaze on his situation, he was essentially pleading guilty. Guilty on a case that held no chance of a sudden turnabout, or revelation that he wasn't the villain in this story. He was prepared to suffer his consequences, probably for far longer than most people could live.

"If the defense, and prosecution has no more objections or questions they would like to ask the accused..." Luna asked, her tone somber, as though matching the mood perfectly for once, "I think we should let the jury decide their verdict for Sharp Opera."

Canterlot Throne Room: 12:24 pm, October 21st, 0002 RoL(Return of Luna)

Half an hour had gone by since then, with Sharp Opera practically acting like a statue he was going to be destined to be. I had some idea of an alternative punishment for him, but it wasn't going to be easy. In preparations for the case I had dug through several stolen Equestrian law books for previous cases of villains being imprisoned in other manners than death-by-stone, only coming up with a few results, however. The best option of which, was eternal community service in Tartarus. Which I would offer up once the verdict was given. I wasn't a fan of sentencing someone who could no longer do harm to death. Even if it was a tyrant who had slaughtered thousands. I wasn't a killer, after all. Those I fought often had probably been hospitalized (Indeed I could still see Shining Armor's pointed glare, as well as feel it, aimed at the back of my head, where it had been aimed for the last several hours straight, not once had I seen the guard blink since he had started).

I waited, impatiently as the jury continued to reason with each other, reaffirming their decisions. But it wasn't the court or the stare of the solar princess that sent shivers down my spine, it was something else, something stranger. A sense of foreboding...

Equestrian Imperial Gates, Multiverse world: Skargor Duffwort's Equestria, Date unknown, time unknown.

Smoke still filled the bleak grey skies of Equestria. Around the Ork god, lay hundreds of bodies, but not one of his enemies. It infuriated him, that these few remaining mortals clung so stubbornly to life. They were doomed to fall underneath his warrgh, as without fire, hundreds more of his green skinned brothers would rise up for each one felled, and there was only so much ammunition that these proud enemy warriors could muster. But his impatience after long years of war had finally run thin, and he commanded his kill squad to stop their daily prayer to him, and directed their primal minded beings towards the source of his annoyance. As one, half a dozen bodies moved, dominated underneath his leadership, as they started towards the last fortress of the resistance.

Idly he fingered his trinket, a simple mask that had appeared between him and his rival during his last conflict. It had given him much joy to learn of the world beyond it, another world ripe for conquest, with a starting seeds of invasion already planted underneath the soils of which he had dwelled. Two batches of orks, already waiting for the perfect moment to arise and strike out. He watched on, as his kill team approached the fortress, ablaze of gunfire and war chants, screaming Orks being mowed down row after row of deadly fire, few return shots managing to pierce its bunkers. It was a wonder that they haven't had run out of ammunition yet, considering it had been several weeks since the siege began. Whereas before it was a massive fortress, now it was just one bunker. A bunker of bolter fire, powered armor, and the revving of prepared chain-blades and thunder-hammers.

All of which would be useless against his kill team. Each member was a warboss in their own right, an Ork that had been so heavily modified with their own parodies of a tech priest's cybermancy that the ork was effectively more machine than green skin, with big metal limbs easily capable of tearing apart lesser metals in an instant, with weapons that would shame a tank, and the guts, ability, and strength, not just physically, but mentally to lead a waaagh on their own. He had rounded these six up for their ability and put them to the final task that would crush the last bit of organized resistance in this world, and allow him to start expanding on other worlds. These lumbering giants of course were painted the symbolic red of his people, their abused machines miraculously working at the combined war screams of their tech priests, and the ferocity and speed applied through their almost religious worship over the color of red, the color of rage, blood, and all things Ork Culture adored.

absently he kicked sniveling runt of the liter from underneath his feet, as he slowly stood. He wanted to view this menace himself, to fully enjoy impending doom. Off handedly he was amused by his newest pawn's ambitions, but now was not the time... Skargor Duffwort was prepared for this wars end.

And then the sun vanished.

Court Interruption

View Online

The sudden realization that the sun was gone, had sent a smile on his face. That meant that the princess of the day had finally fallen, and that his forces had succeeded in taking down the last major leader of the Equestrian forces, with a bellowing cheer his men rallied once more, supporting their warbosses as they stampeded into the bunker, as the gunfire halted from within. Rows upon rows of slavering masses seeking flesh and the biggest conquest of them all, an Alicorns skull along with the heads of the power armored soldiers inside it. Several orks tackled the defenders, only for their armor to shatter apart, as if held together through only a floating force in its place, as bolters, long gathering dust from lack of ammunition, resumed firing magically made similarities.

The Ork god frowned. Bringing his own magic to bear once more, the signs of life had long since left these power armored suits, not even bodies were within these suits, only a slight golden aura as an injured Alicorn sat, stock still eyes glowing a brilliant firey red. "Gotcha." She said, knowing that he was listening in, before his vision was blinded with fire.

The screams began again, though this time not of blood lust, but sudden terror, as a mass of fire expanded from their target, and only then did he understand. The sun hadn't vanished... She had brought the sun to Equis. He yelled telepathically for his forces to retreat from the dying Alicorns last taste of revenge, but it was too late, thousands upon thousands of his finest warriors were caught in the expanding blast as his own rage grew once more for the infuriating princesses actions. It was that sour moment when his throne room's front door exploded inwards, revealing the power armored rival he had sought to finish alongside the magical ponies.

"FOR THE PRINCESSES!" came the augmented battle cry as no less than two dozen heavily armored men, four of which towered over the rest, charged forward, lead by his rival.

She was one of a kind, he would often think in retrospect. Into becoming a Space marine, each marine member started from an early age in recruitment heavily training their bodies and discipline so that they could bear the unfortold heresies that they would expect to find in combat with their orders. This was also added into the number of times that each chapter had their marine undertake going beneath the knife of a surgeons chair as they added up to sixteen different organs to a marine to better suit their power armored burdened forms, each organ serving a specific purpose, though while not all were necessary, in fact some chapters had mutated versions of an organ, or were missing some of them alltogether, it was the black carapace that was applied underneath the skin that gave a marine its uncanny ability to move and operate the Power Armor as if it were not much more than burdening clothing.

This genetic modification was made primarily for males, as it only modified the Y chromosome, which males had. This is why she was interesting. For she wore the armor, as if tailored to her, yet moved better, faster, and stronger, than the rest. He had suspected magic was the cause of this, but lacked the evidence, as it wasn't like any he had witnessed before. She charged ahead of the rest, slaughtering those who stood in her way with an ease that spoke magnitudes of what she had experienced. He was caught in this surprise attack in his most sacred sanctuary, and possibly the most well guarded spot on the miserable rock that was called Equis, well before he had sent his generals to deal with the final stronghold.

The Ork god hadn't even considered what to do about his intruders before a powered gauntlet of a fist smashed into his face, budging only slightly from the impact, before he raised his own magically reinforced hand to stopped the chain-blade that was coming at his neck, "Ah, Space Marine. What a surprise."

The blade dug into his flesh, but halted, as its internal engines within its hilt whined in protest. His grin was stopped short as the attacker rapidly let go of her blade, pulling from her armored belt a spike, and driving it into his leg. He frowned, kicking the armored warrior back from him, throwing her from his raised platform of a throne and reversing the grip of the chain blade so that he had it by the handle. A suitable weapon, blessed with the scriptures of an organization that worshiped technology, but that was rapidly corrupted in the Ork's grasp. "You would of thought that our last duel you would of realized, that such things have little to no impact on me." He grunted, striding casually towards the warriors, as reinforcements began to flood in, occupying each others groups in bloody combat.

From the back rows, a tech priest had emerged, but he ignored the snivling coward as he approached his long hated rival. The later drawing a second blade, one of shining crystals, and charged towards him, screaming at the top of her augmented lungs, "This farce ends now Skar!"

More than happy to obliged, he met her own blade with his new one, the two clanging off to each other in shrieking metal to whistling crystal. Sparks showered as the ridged spines of the chain blade started to cut off, and he aimed another kick, only for his aggressor to move to the side at the last moment, and drive a second spike into him, his other leg this time, before spinning back to face him. She barely had time to block the Ork God as he swung mightily at her neck, the marine barely dodging away in time as the blade skidded across the top of her helmet, sheering off half a feedline that had long since broken in the course of action from battles prior.

A dull rumble of an explosion was starting to grow to ears that even a mortal could hear, but they ignored it, to busy fighting for their lives, the sound only causing the other members of her group of warriors to redouble their ferocity. He let out his rallying scream, "WAARRRRRGHHHHHHHHHHHH." Which was joined by the rest of his forces, their own battle lust driven into a frenzy as they went forward.

Trading blows for blow, bullet for bullet, and scream for scream against the remnants of resistance. Which stood with its own maddening wrath, rarely did his sword find itself injuring the feminine warrior before him. Her own sword leaving dozens of slashes for each one of his own mighty chops. But perhaps more infuriating were the constant spikes she kept stabbing into, and leaving the ork god. It was a pointless effort, because he could easily regenerate the injuries, but it was still maddening to have them in, without time to pull them out, lest he lose an arm or head to his enemy.

No less than five of the spikes had been driven into him, one in each arm and one to the center of his exposed chest before the space marine, did what he saw, as a fatal mistake. She brought her sword into the stomach of the Ork god, and he smiled.

His hand reached out to grab the marine, now that it was stuck in him, and she let go, screaming, "Now!" as she dived to the side, only then did he realize the importance of the Tech Priest and the spikes that had been driven into him. Warmth, followed by the sensation of fire that started flooding his body as the tech priest raised a crown, a crown set with a gemstone that represented a star cutie mark of one he had slain months prior.

The end of each spike, a gem of another long dead bearer glowed and his eyes widened, as the tech priest lowered her hood. Long mangled purple locks and more than half of her machine, glared at him. Adorning the tiara. He dropped his chain sword, too late it was to pull those damned spikes out. As a Rainbow combined with the energy of love from the crystal heart contained in the sword, shredded the ork forces between him and the tech priest and went straight into his chest.

The screaming was heard around the world as the room exploded into smoke.

As it died down, the ragged crew of space marines slowly stood back up, their tech priest had vanished amidst the chaos, leaving only a smoked crater in the ground, as the mangled remains of their elements of harmony hit the floors.

"By the golden throne, is it over?" One of the marines asked, to their leader.

"Let us see." The female, who had born the sword and spikes replied, backing slowly away from the intense heat that was still emanating from where the Ork god had stood.

The smoke faded after several minutes, revealing the Ork god, where he stood was a crater of smoking debris. His chest had turned to solid stone, while his arms were burnt beyond recognition. The Ork god, however, breathing ragged, was still standing.

"Damn you Space Marines." He spoke, between breathes, his rage returning two fold, "How dare you use those accursed spawn of the warp against me!" He slowly moved, seeing that all of his forces nearby were ash, for one tool to even the odds, "Puppet Master! Come to me and fulfill your debt!" He reached up and showed the blank mask to the rest of the room, pouring what was left of his shattered magic into hastening and forcing the bonds to bring its owner.

Canterlot Throne Room: 12:51 pm, October 21st, 0002 RoL

The time had come, to my lack of surprise, the verdict was Guilty, and as Luna started to word out the various crimes once more that Sharp Opera was guilty of, and suggested the punishment of petrification until such a time his own natural magics had freed him, I stood up.

"Your honor, if I may be so inclined to suggest a separate punishment?"

Melody had already agreed with me that locking him up in stone would of done nothing to right any of the wrongs he had committed, and my plan was to make some of repayment that would last longer than that stone 'imprisonment'. "Go ahead Puppet Master." Luna said, a bit exasperated from how long this had taken. Already there were hundreds of ponies backed up to bring their issues to the day court, and with this trial having taken several hours, they were going to have to either have some of the line go home unsatisfied, or do the rest of it at a faster pace if they ever wanted to get back on track after this.

"I would like to remind the court of a certain punishment enacted by your benevolent princess of the sun nearly a thousand years prior in regard to the Cerberus V. Bluebloods, where Cerberus was assigned to multiple lifetimes worth of work and labor as the guardian of the gates of Tartarus in order to be punished and provide security against his former masters escape."

"What exactly are you implying, Puppet Master?" Luna asked, curious to my intentions with such a case. Twilight on the other hoof, perked her ears in realization of what I was saying, no doubt having read the case herself during her studies as the star pupil of Celestia.

"What I would like to say, is that we put Mr.Sharp Opera to work as punish-" I was interrupted.

Not by a pony, or Sharp, but rather by a void.

One second I had been standing in the room of a court, about to conclude, the next second, I felt myself ripped from the room by magic, my puppets with me as a giant portal suddenly opened up, formed a giant hand in the span of a split second, grab them all and me, minus the Ponies, Sirens, Alicorns, Spike, and Sharp, and drag my body and puppets through a black section of tunnel as I heard a familiar voice call, "Puppet Master! Come to me and fulfill your debt!"

Damn it to the moon, Skargor, I'm in the middle of something very important! I tried to resist the sensation of being squeezed down a tunnel two inches too small for me, but to no avail. The Ork god's call had me well and good, and I was forced to go to him.

Skargor's Throne room, former Imperium palace of the moon, current capital of the Ork forces. Unknown date/time

The mask glowed with power as the portal opened. Grim faced, the marines stood fast against the portal prepared to face whatever or whoever it was the Ork was summoning. They expected daemons and perhaps a being so evil that the world itself would shake if the mad ork god was summoning it.

Imagine their surprise when a guy in robes who barely met their waist height fell face first out of the portal into the ground, followed by a deludge of cosplay masks, and a marionette tool.

"What." One of the marines commented from the side.

"Is that a kid? Please don't tell me that the Ork god summoned a kid as his last line of defense." Another commented, confused at the sillyness of it all.

As the Puppet Master let out a deep breathe into the oily room, he slowly stood up, adjusting his robes and brushing the dirt off them, as he examined his surroundings, first taking in the Space Marines with a mild look of surprise, then at Skargor, with an masked expression shifting from curiosity to surprise and slight disgust at his appearance, "The hell happened to you?" the Puppet Master asked, straight to the point, rather aghast to the Ork god's ruined form.

"They, are. young Puppet Master." Skargor said with mock sincerity, pointing a grey hued stone hand, that had been curled in mid grasp before it had been partially petrified. Now it lay its accusing chipped point at the armed marines, who readied their bolters as though the stone hand could cause yet more chaos within this dying world. "I ask you, to return the favor you owe me, and take care of these chaos spawned daemons."

"Chaos spawned...?" The puppet master repeated, staring over the armor designs.

One of the other marines shouted back, "The only one of chaos here is you, Ork! Now lay down and perish as the golden sun claims us all for your folly!"

"Move aside Child!" Another shouted, "Or weather a storm of fire of which thee has never before witnessed!"

"Listen..." The Puppet Master intoned, "I have no idea what's going on here, and all. But the armor doesn't match Chaos marines, since those tend to have a lot of... well... spikes. But a friend of mine has been hurt, and as a result, I think I'll stay in the wa-" He hadn't even finished when the first bolter cleared its chamber, molten lead well over the size of a softball and the explosive mass enough to rip the side out of an Ork. It wasn't instinct or luck that saved the Puppet Master from an agonizing fate, but rather another prop, one of the first he had built. The Rosary, that decorated the Puppet Master beneath his robes, activating and diverting the fire off to the side, and several of the shots that followed as well as when it was joined by a second and third bolter revving up into full auto fire, a collection of normally devastating fire about to rend the two figures to shreds.

Or it would have.

Puppets sprang to existence, wooden and massive, some absorbing shots and collapsing back into nonexistence, and others rushing into the masks. the first that had reached one suddenly covering the room in magical darkness that kept refilling the gaps tearing explosive lead would cause, One of the marines threw down a device, a flash bang of magical origins that cleared a pocket around the marines as their visors, meant to resist even the suns mighty brightness, adjusted to compensate. The darkness was staggered for a second, the feedback and surprise of the weapon having caught the Puppet Master and breaking his concentration as the gunfire fired mercilessly into his favorite puppets darkness. The mass retreated, focusing on protecting its wielder and the Ork behind him, as the form of Aku appeared visibly. From the sides the rest of the puppets emerged, rushing in and surrounding the Marines as the fight renewed.

Soon bolters were discarded for melee weapons as the ammunition was depleted over the course of both battling to arrive in the throne room, dealing with the orcish hordes, and these new fantastic creations which they assumed were from some far reaches of chaos. Only one marine fought with knowledge of each, and it was that which caught the Puppet Master's attention again. It was the female, who walked upon the hordes of enemies, crushing warrior turtles underfoot, and sweeping through the various tides of minions of several puppets at once. Whoever was underneath that helmet was as much as a gamer, nerd, and displaced as he was. Skargor on the other hand looked on the fight with an almost unconstrained amount of curiosity, and disbelief as he started to gain his second wind.

Like shadow, the Puppet Master hid among his creations, cards flickering to life around him as well as explosions rocking the fields. He was clearly outskilled when it came to combat with these warriors, but he had the advantage of numbers. endless unceasing numbers that drawed upon his stolen supplies of magic. Magic of no less than two powerful elemental users and several of Star Swirl's own artifacts. His time magic, however, as Nox was cut down, was unable to effect those of high willpower as these space marines, and with his attention so divided between dozens upon dozens of puppets, he barely managed to notice and dodge a revved blade of a chain-sword as the woman of their group tore through the card defense around him.

"What else is in your bag of tricks, daemon spawn?" The battle-sister screamed at him, through the helmets augmented microphone.

A wordless frown of concentration was the response as the Puppet Master fell back into one of his cards, deck shuffeling and tearing back away from her, trying to avoid the deadly blade as it followed, tearing through half the deck in a single swing as he continued backing and exiting the back of the deck in a hurry. The battle crazed warrior charged onwards, as the Puppet Master Snapped his gloved hands, alchemcial symbols momentarily igniting as a chain of explosions followed towards the Power armor, adding needless char upon the already worn armor, and presenting a far less visible sign of damage than he would like. Cursing, he couldn't portal away, as GLaDOS was still within his home world, and instead sent more puppets from the twisting marionette he wielded, strings slipping and grasping like a dying squid on a spike as puppet after puppet leapt into being, wooden forms jumping into the guises of far more varities of monsters, minibosses and subordinates of the main group of masks he controlled. Still she trudged on, helmet locked, facing and following him as she charged faster than he could retreat through the mobs.

Orks joined the battle from the side lines, at their masters direction and started to rain yet more gunfire upon the masses, too confused and battle hungry to recognize their own allies, but more than enraged enough to shoot primarily at the Marines that had invaded and hurt their god. The Puppet Master was cornered, and in a last ditch effort to keep her away brought forth yet another of his Puppet's tools. The cutlass of Davy Jones and blocking the chain blade as it tore through his sword. Back against the wall, and sword rapidly succumbing to the serrated rapidly moving edges of the chain blade, the Rosary fell out of the robed collar of the Puppet Master's outfit. The increasing pressure halted, as the Space Marine noticed the logo upon it, "That symbol..." The pressure increased, "Where did you get that symbol?!"

The cutlass was breaking, almost severed as the Puppet Master's other hand, the one holding the marionette tool, ceased to make puppets, its string, lashing out and wrapping around the Marines armor, grabbing it by the joints at his beckoning, and pulling her off him, "What do you mean where I got it? I'm the one who designed it!" The Puppet Master yelled in response, only for the sudden struggles of the Marine to still, as a voice asked in disbelief, "...Xander?"

Eyes widened, as the fighting halted, the puppets momentarily ceasing all movement as the marines, almost overwhelmed, continued fighting, oblivious from their distance, and not questioning their good fortune. The Puppet Master, stunned by the fact that this seemingly random marine knew his name, saw then, the copy of the symbol of his Rosary upon her shoulder pad, and wires removed the helmet. His shock only grew more so.

Held there, by the strings of his greatest tool, was Yoko. Xander's childhood friend.

I'm Knot a Daemon

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"Finish them, Puppet Master!" the Ork god called out, momentary panic rising. He had seen the sudden pause in combat, and the shift in the tones. No longer were the puppets attacking the marines, but rather defending against them and not making further aggressive moves. What was once a wave, was now a tide in retreat. Providing a bubble around the marines which neither his orks could shoot through, nor the warriors could slice out of.

The Puppet Master was speechless, his eyes locked upon the face of his friend. Evaluating the situation among the chaotic fighting was proving futile, but he knew one thing for sure, and that was that nothing was what it seemed. He threw a new plan into action, puppets suddenly enclosing on all of them, as more and more multiplied into existence, waves upon waves of puppets now overwhelming the outer forces of the Orks, as a thin shadow of a hand reached up and grabbed the abandoned summoning trinket that had been used to bring him here in the first place. Taking it with him, he used his own trinket as a pathway backwards, dragging with him, the combined groups of a dozen space marines along with himself. Deciding to delay further action until he could safely determine it himself.

The Ork god looked on enraged at the sudden disappearance, reaching for the mask that had been stolen while he was distracted. Discovering the ploy he shouted in rage against the Space Marines and Puppet Master, as the ever closing gap between his palace and the sun shrunk. He vanished, among that bright light, right as the fires hit, and the world shattered. Consumed within the orb of fire as its massive gravity continued to grow and fires hotter than anything could hope to achieve, consumed all. His echoing screams resounded throughout that roaring fire, that he would be back. And both the Marines and the one he had summoned would pay for their actions that day.

The world consumed in fire as they warped away, before it had been cramped, as the Puppet Master was shoved through the first time, now so, it was even more so, and the degree of influence he had over their exit location was generalized. In the end he managed to drop the party of puppets, half ton marines, and himself in a scattering spray of humanoid cannonballs, as they exited. Skidding into the training room of one of the dozens of floors within his base. Thankful that he hadn't brought this war into his own world's Canterlot throne room.

Everyone groaned, from either their own discomfort from traveling between universes, or the rough landing. A dozen marines, and Yoko splayed out in various positions, quickly recovering as was their creed. Once again the puppets had been separated from their masks, an effect that the Puppet Master noted, for future travels as he slowly stood back up. Glados was back up and running again, as he stretched, and held out a hand for Yoko, who looked questioningly at him, "The hell did you just do?"

"Giant ball of fire, heading towards us from out the window, learning that your best friend from your childhood who you were previously thought never to see again was fighting your new buddy, and then trying to save you and your evident friends not a good move?"

"About as good a move as an Ork psyker stealing displaced tokens. Never expected you to be one as well, though." Yoko replied, getting up, before staring me dead in the eyes, "Are you really my Xander?"

"As assured as Deargon went working for the Tau." I said, dropping a little inside joke that only she would really know, "Shame we couldn't meet at the con. Did Discord get you too?"

"No, actually. The merchant did." Yoko replied, casually, "You got a prop from Discord? Thought you made all your own stuff. Cheater."

"I was actually shopping for a replacement tool for my kit. Can't carve foam with a broken Dremel. Picked up a lesson on forming Dissy's horn and got warped to Equestria to show the worth of Tragic villains, so that they wouldn't keep getting murdered by the elements of harmony." I explained hurriedly, "What about you? You had someone else? A Merchant?"

"Yeah, long story about that," she shrugged, "I was looking for a new bolter prop because I wanted to show off when we met again next con, but the-"

The buzzing of chainblades, cackling of thunder-spewing hammers, and whirling of axes cut her off as the group of half ton armored marines came at us, or well me. "Get the Daemon!" One of them yelled, joined by the others as they took up holy yelling. I deadpanned, portals openning beneath their feet and appearing again once more at the far end of the room. Once more they went sprawling, yelling turned into confused screams, before more angry yelling. Portals closed before they could use them to regain the distance.

Turning back to Yoko I asked, "Were they part of your world before or AFTER you came into it?"

She sighed, "Sadly, after it, they're a bit less xenophobic than the lore ones, but I did fill them up with tales of our group, both from the table top and later on in the war. Sadly they seem to be running out of worlds, since that Ork guy came in roughly at the same time I did on the opposite end of the earth. Unluckily he won in the end, as you can tell."

"In a war, no one is a winner," I quoted, not sure from who, but it sounded like something a smart person once said, "Mind telling them to stop charging at me before I need to use force? Though the portals may keep them occupied for a while." I said this as I rose a wall in time to block a thrown power axe. Which tore a rather unsettlingly large hole into the wall, before stopping.

Yoko, didn't answer me but turned to face her compatriots and yell, "Hold! This man is no enemy!"

"But he's a daemon!" one of them yelled before promptly falling into yet another portal, having made it half way to me before slipping up on a sudden portal mine field that had spawned in order to stop their rather fast charge.

"He is no more a Daemon than I am an Ork!" She yelled in response, "This is Inquisitor Deargon you fools."

I rose an nonexistent Eyebrow, "Calling me after my Character?" I asked.

"Trust me, its easier to go with that persona than try to explain to them that we role played what we actually did in that world." She responded, a look of wearyness present in her eyes, twinged with happiness, "It's been a long war, and I'd rather not have them think that I started as a complete nerd after all thats happened."

"That midget is Deargon?!" another marine shouted, delayed as he had to run back within earshot again.

I shook my hand at him, "I'm not a midget!"

"In all fairness you are short." Yoko smirked, "Probably should of drank your milk when you were growing up."

"Really?!" I exclaimed, "You're making that reference, now?!"

She gave a small laugh at my anger, "Yep, you're definitely my childhood friend." raising her voice again she shouted, "Thrones sake, Stop fighting, you're only embarrassing yourselves!"

Slowly the group of marines stopped charging, and I smiled as they put away their weapons. Finally able to let them within radius of me, walls rose once more and this time allowed the towering marines to crouch through the portals and rejoin us."

"As I was saying, boys. This is Inquistor Deargon, though he also goes by Xander." Yoko introduced me, properly, as I stared up at them. Somewhat irritated by the lack of my own height in comparison to the seven foot of the shortest of the marines. Even Yoko was taller than I last remembered. In comparison to their heights, I was a young child, barely four foot. I was all too aware of the plights of short characters, and my eye twitched once more as one commented.

"I thought he'd be taller..." The front most of the group, bearing heavier and rarer armor of a terminator Marine. Their armor was much bulkier but protective and treasured in a chapter, as it was built to withstand punishment that would make some tanks go to shame.

"Size is not the name of the game. As I'm sure you have noticed." I replied in turn, and asked, "So who're your friends?"

Yoko nodded, at the request, and replied in turn, "We tend to use a lot of code names, so in respect for their privacy. The Terminator is Captain Bronco." She gestured at the marine who had commented about my size, and he shrugged. Unlike most of the marines his melee weapon was a pair of power fists, which were massive armored gloves that would crackle with power when activated.

"Private Lion," She pointed at a marine decorated in holy scriptures to the empire, his armor was less scratched up than the others, though he bore roughly twelve smoking marks from bolters all located in one of his legs, "Don't mind the leg wounds, he gets shot there almost every time we get his armor fully repaired."

"Guilty as charged!" Lion cheerfully injected, placing a hand over the injury, already pulling out a few spare parts from his pack now that the fighting had stopped.

"Commissar Cipher," she pointed out to a marine decorated with a book sigil, and who was carrying a rather large tome in addition to his sword, remarkably uncharred in comparison to the rest of him, which was covered in various amounts of blood and gore. I recalled that the Commissar's role was to maintain the morale and improve the standings within the troops. The fact that one had become a space marine while maintaining the rank of a person usually reserved within the imperial guard was a curiosity. The marine in question nodded at me before opening his book and staring into it.

"Sharp Shooter Dead." She pointed at another marine, who was the most scrawny of the group, as well as the shortest, but who wore seals like a cape behind him, his armor surrounded in a tattered cloak, that flickered in an out of view almost constantly. He had a knife as long as my arm, which was now being used to clear gunk and gore out of his armor, "Boss, I need a new gun."

"We all do Dead." Yoko muttered to me afterwards, "He wanted his name tags when collected to be a sort of grim joke for whoever collected them."

I nodded as Yoko continue to call out names and point at their respective owners, mentally I had my puppet take pictures of each of them and write down a name so that I could recall it later on, aside from Lion, Cipher, Dead, and Bronco; there was Cat and Dog, twins who were inseparable, apparently. Onion, a chatterbox who had their audio disabled in order to keep the rest of their team sane. Speaking of sanity there was a particularly worrisome looking marine who was turning Ork blood into war paint for his helmet, repeating a V shape into it to make his helmet look eternally angry, who was called "Gogo."

Aside from them we still had Needles, the medic of the group. Circuit, who bore a large communication device attached to his pack, which was sadly useless now that it was in my universe. Polanski, who I had a creeping feeling that they could break the fourth wall if there was one. Ghost was an odd member as well, bearing pure white armor in comparison to the rest of the universal black of the chapter, which the true color only was shown as he started clearing off all the muck that had sullied his armor.

Then there was a tech priest, who referred to himself as Bronze Leaf. I'd have to keep an eye on him to make sure he didn't get into anything he shouldn't of. Already he was trying to fiddle with the edges of a portal, some innate curiosity driving him to ignore the rest of the introductions and study the non-real edge of the opening, an mechanical third arm extending over his shoulder and bringing a variety of strange tools to bear as he examined it. Shutting it on him had caused him to become aware of reality again, and with a short apology he had introduced himself, thus leading to my suspicions.

The final member, introduced himself before Yoko could, his armor decorated in seals and carvings only second to Yoko herself out of the group, instead of a helmet he wore a peaked cap with the inquisitorial symbol on its top. It was a dark red I with a skull surrounded by an almost trident like prong of three rectangles on each side. Just from the holier-than-thou tone of his voice, "I am the Chapter Master's honor guard, Hawkens." I could tell I wasn't going to like him already, his eyes measured me up almost predator like.

Great. So many new faces, "Well... Then..." I said, gesturing my way towards the elevator that lead the way both up and down my main base, "Lets find a place for you all to settle down for now and relax, it seems your chapter master and I have some catching up to do.

At Yoko's nod of assent the rest of the marines trodded on towards the elevator. One which I had to rapidly reinforce to deal with approximately six and a half tons of weight, as Yoko and I joined them last, she whispered to me, "They aren't like the normal marines, made the chapter a bit less religious, but some guys, like Hawken and Cipher follow my world's version of the Codex a bit closer than normal. Just a warning."

"As long as your Commissar doesn't shoot allies to encourage obedience, it should be fine. Not that there is much war going on yet in this world." I replied casually, before realizing, after all the excitement, "Oh god, the court case."

In the excitement and violence, I had completely forgotten the court case, and judging from the outside, how the sun was setting, it was long over. Yoko's look of confusion was amplified as I sent a puppet to check on what had happened to Melody and the other sirens as well as the results of Sharp's trial

Results and meetings. Plans for the future

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The once faceless puppet had taken a mask at random, and upon first glance had identified and shoved it on, a quick set of thoughts giving its magical form once more as not one of his usual lot but as Maleficent. The villain by default of the classic tale of Sleeping Beauty. I remembered the tale keenly as the fairy tale had been made once, from the fairy godmothers of the princess, an the hero their prince, before being remade into a heart wrenching story of heartbreak and betrayal before ultimately coming to conclusion with Maleificents wings being taken back for her. A friend of mine had once commented that the morale of the story was that true love doesn't entail a prince and princess, and that motherly love could triumph where love at first glance was an illusion. Another friend went into detail of how the real fairy tale had ended with childbirth waking the princess nine months after non consented intercourse in the bedroom.

Guess who got the fist to the face?

The first movie had been alright, but the second movie had inspired several revisions of attempting those seemingly leather wrapped horns of her, the lesson I had learned with making Discord's horn having been ultimately the final keystone needed between making the mask and breaking it. Each finite curve had bolstered the image and power of the puppet, and even while she wasn't in need of that power currently, her appearance was almost exactly the same as it had been in that live action version. I could even use it as a secondary prop, or personal prop by popping out the carved eyeless mask that I had made for it. The only problem was, that it wasn't a pony, or conformed to shape like them in their strange colored furs and muzzled mouths.

Much like most of my villains thus far, few were able to get away with that, Freeze and his helmet of misty ice could obscure most of his facial details. Bowser was a turtle, and while odd, wasn't human. Aku, who was a master shapeshifter and could be mistaken as imitating a minotaur with multiple horns like an Elk. Or myself, who mysteriously wore a flat surfaced mask for a face. I had added her appearance in the court room so that some people might identify her as one of mine in the future, her odd appearance being allowed as her dragon like horns and slightly green skin coloring differed her from myself and that she would probably be counted as another oddity in my forces rather than as similar to myself. Though, still, I worried.

Maleifcent luckily, though, had only to cross the portal to find the Siren and her entourage waiting in an massively overlarge fountain that had decorated the center square of the main entrance, ponies occasionally staring at the group of sirens as they stood in knee deep water and conversed to each other. Melody waited outside the edge of the pool. Pacing nervously in that way that a fish does when its cornered in a tank waiting for a fresh tank cleaning.

Marching forward Maleificent caught the gasps of various nobles who were about the place and sent them fleeing as guards showed up again, ignoring them I drove my puppet to Melody and asked, in a clear soothing voice that fit the faeries of her forest, "Are you alright, dear child?"

Noticing me, she ceased her inaudible rumblings and looked to Maleificent, knowing her from the court room, she asked, quite calmly, an underlying panic having gone to a cold quiet anger in her eyes that made me momentarily flinch even as I gave the squad of power armored soldiers of doom at home a tour of my base.

Odd that, end up in the middle of a war after being in a court room? Slightly confused but willing to fight. The gaze of cold gaze of anger and scorn from a woman siren who probably couldn't make a dent in my bedroom door? Heart attack. Angry siren lady was scarier than an Ork and Space Marine fight. Go figure.

"Do you know how long we've been waiting here?" She asked, before interrupting me as I opened my puppets mouth to answer, "Eight hours! Eight hours of not knowing where you went and then worrying our fishy tails off that you suddenly were wiped from existence by a giant maniac of a portal!"

"My master sends his apologies." Maleificent replied, cooly, a lot more calm than my beating heart, "We were summoned elsewhere and it was beyond our control. We have a few new guests in any case, but please, tell us what has happened in our absence."

Melody's glare lasted another few bone chilling seconds before she relented, a softer gaze taking its place, "He's been sentenced to become the janitor of Tartarus as community service for the next one thousand life times. A tenth of what I tried propositioning, but still a good deal of years, far older than any of which we will ever see. Twilight Sparkle managed to lessen the punishment as much as she could, defending what little rights he still deserved, but the life of an immortal tyrant comes with heavy consequences once they are caught."

Internally I breathed out a huge sigh of relief, at least he wasn't stoned, "It is good news," I said through my puppets voice, "Though we have to wonder what the media and others think about all this... Commotion."

"There is a newspaper system, correct?" Melody asked, and my puppet nodded, "Then we should find out when it hits the news in the coming week or two."

I nodded in agreement, mentally adding yet another note to my growing forest of them, and having my puppet gesture to a portal as it was made on the ground next to her, "We imagine your friends must be weary from a long day at Canterlot, let us return and rest. I believe a cause of celebration is at... Hoof." I said that last word somewhat caught, having almost reverted to saying hand. Ugh, why couldn't these ponies use fingers and thumbs instead of weird hoof magic to hold things. It was constantly bugging me that the flat surface of their hooves could pick up and even manipulate objects as good as a hand could, and in some cases even better. Twirling quills and holding tools in a fashion that would make several scientists roll in their graves back home. I was convinced that they had an invisible telekinetic field around the bottoms of their hooves in order to manipulate such things. It was the only explanation I could think of in this world of magic and technicolor horses.

My mind flickered back to myself, where I was giving Yoko and her rangers settled in, and installing a map in a few of the corridors in my fortress. I also gave them the specific instruction that the "Command Center" labeled on the map was actually the incinerator room for garbage, and the garbage room was vice versa. It was a small idea that I had incorporated in case my base was ever breached by equestrian forces, so that they would pass over the actual command center and provide additional chances to recover from whatever sort of surprise they could think up. Initially Yoko just wanted a barrack set up, though since she was an old friend, I told her to be patient for about half an hour and I instead installed a group wing to the complex. Sometimes it was really useful when you could control an entire base with the flick of a puppet's control. Mastery of multitasking was no easy feat, yet it was getting easier and easier with practice. The place was decorated with the basics needed for a comfortable stay. Both myself and they would probably add in their own stuff, later on. But for now, there was enough.

After I got the troops settled in, I asked Yoko if she would mind sharing some tea and catch up once she was cleaned up. She agreed, and I left them to their devices as I prepared another portal. It was for a quick run to the store with my Aku puppet to gather several sets of their largest sets of clothes. Hardly thought that they'd like to do nothing but either be in their armor 24/7 or naked. Shortly after, I entered my bedroom, with the intention to flop down for a few minutes on my bed and unwind. Instead I was greeted, by a collection of guests who had gathered in my room.

Trixie was the first to speak, with Cass lounging at my desk, in the seat reserved for her usually, and Amber who was examining the wall of blueprints that I had above my desk, trying to decipher some meaning out of the various sketches of future tools and designs I had made, "Greetings Puppet." She said, "We heard the news from Melody, though we were a bit concerned to where you went. Several of us wished to inquire."

I filled them in, shortly, starting from earlier for the two of them who hadn't met Skargor, and leaving out details that concerned my puppets having been dematerialized back into mask form during the transfer to, though oddly not from, the other Equestria. No point in revealing that particular weakness, after a few comments questioning my sanity and rebuking them with a few more explanations, and a skeptical set of stares. I bid the topic away. Amber left with the explanation, happier to know the circumstances of why the base had momentarily been without power while I had been gone.

Trixie and Cass however stayed, "Just who are you in any case?" Trixie asked, abruptly, "You're very clearly not a pony, nor a minotaur, and your face is flatter than my mothers old cat."

Now my eyebrow perked, "Your mothers cat?"

She deadpanned, "He was hit in the face with a frying pan on accident when Trixie was still learning her great and powerful magics. Though that is besides the point, explain what trickery is about your being!"

I gave her a little flourish, "My body is a mystery wrapped in an enigma oh so Stupendous and Marvelous Trixie."

"It's Great and Powerful Trixie," Trixie snapped, "Stupendous and Marvelous is reserved for Trixies mother; and that explains nothing about you!"

I deadpanned, "That's why I said it."

"And how come you feel the need to hide yourself behind such words of deception and ruse?" Trixie asked.

I replied, "How come you have to declare yourself as Great and Powerful? Wouldn't it simply be easier to just show it rather than declare yourself upon an audience as such?"

Trixie became flabbergasted, her argumentative and prying voice dissolving into a momentary sputtering of incoherence, "This isn't over! Trixie will get a straight answer out of you!"

She left with a huff, and Cass turned towards me by flapping one of her wings, "You know her curiosity is only going to worsen, right?"

My response was a wink, "The best held secrets are behind the facade we put up for our public faces. Interest in the mystery of the unknown is something I find is best solved with effort."

I didn't put in that I had no idea what discord had done to my body, nor what magic the spirit of chaos had inflicted to remove my face from its realm, and grant me my own amount of magic. My mind still considered myself human, for all but the face seemed the same, at least until my arm started changing colors with large amounts of magic being drained from artifacts, and a number of other changes happening to my body. For one, I felt a little taller!

No wait, still short. Darn it.

Cass giggled once, before asking, "I hope you're not too weary, was hoping we could squeeze in some more work on the 'cybernetics' as you call it."

Ah, right! Had almost forgot about it in the excitement, Yoko would be a while, and after time the cybernetics were reaching a state that I could start to test the limb itself with her. The initial brace that would apply itself to her was already ready to be fitted, and her own natural energies would seal the cybernetic base to her body without the actual horror of going full on hospital horror on the missing limbs.

I smiled as I brought out the surprise, the completed limbs matching Cass's own fur in coloration, and built as a mix breed between various forms of cybernetics. The amount of game and anime jargon that I had taught her would fill a massive list, and I suspected that such a thing would only work for her and myself, if it worked at all. This was a hybrid experiment of both my limits and creativity. The outside it seemed like a mechanical set of limbs, though the inside couldn't be farther from the truth. I'd polish it and refine it in future tune ups, but to see if it'd work, I needed Cass to try and use it.

"This isn't going to hurt, will it?" Cass asked, "I mean, it is going to somehow operate on my magic right? Are you sure you don't need to do any preparations on my side of this?"

I shook my head, as I lined up the prosthetic, "Only thing you need to do is keep in mind all the parts that I have taught you, and to use that knowledge, to begin to move the limb on my signal."

After finishing the first one, tied to her with leather straps, and after a few adjustments asked her, "Try giving it a shot, right arm should be attached finely now. We'll remove the straps and if you recalled what was discussed, it should stick while in use."

"If you say so Doc." Cass replied, uncertainly, a look of concentration on her face.

"I'm not a doctor," I said, with quiet glee, "Just a very villainous geek."

I let her concentrate, offering her the few tips I had about accessing my supplies. It was more by the gut feeling along with the memory, than any amount of effort a unicorn would have in their head. She was neither me nor a unicorn though, but after several minutes of trying, an almost miss-able twitched happened in the hoof. A wide grin adorned my face as that twitch slowly became a range of motion, and soon the next joint started to move, the space between lower and upper arm, flexing, and then she had a full range of motion, "I'm... I'm doing it!" Cass said, marveling that this was actually working.

"Indeed you are." we were both grinning madly, it was infectious, "Now lets get the rest attached, and see if we can get you walking."

Half an hour later, all limbs were attached, and our grins had no less lessened as the first staggered steps were taken, "This feels so weird, yet so right." she commented, as she flexed the new limbs.

I nodded, in agreement, "Its almost like you've already mastered its movements near minutes after putting them on, remember, it relies on your own energy to keep running."

"Yeah, I can feel the... drain... sort of." Cass replied, her eyes wandering over the seem between flesh and metal as she stretched and rotated her arms, the smile widening, "very little though, I feel like I could run around all day like this."

With this her gaze swapped from her limbs to me and my eyes widened as she charged me. I moved my hands up to to protect my face but found my arms trapped to my chest as the now-tall pegasus lifted me off the ground in a hug.

It would of been enjoyable hadn't she been applying enough force to break a bat's back.

I squeaked, while she said something that I couldn't hear. I could feel my ribs fracturing and I barely managed to let out a , "Too... Tight!"

To her credit after she had processed that in her head she let go, and I collapsed back into my chair, wheezing for breath, "Sorry! Sorry!" She worriedly held her hands out, "I didn't hurt you did I? I don't know my own strength." She was flustered, her wings flapping, but not to lift her off the ground, more like a worried movement.

"Ribs... intact... no harm done..." I managed to say after a solid minute of wheezing.

"Sorry Sorry! I was just trying to say thank you Mr.P."

"I'll keep watch over you from the security systems for a bit to make sure that nothing goes wrong with it. I'd recommend heading to the training room to get fully used to the limits of your new limbs, I'll clean up here. Maybe we can celebrate tonight."

She nodded as I set to work, it was an important part to know how effectively that Cass could use the tools that I had given her, and it would be an experiment to see just how far others could use my inventions, and who said being nice wasn't benefical to others! I smirked to myself. Well back to work, it was time to get more projects done and over with, Nightmare Night was around the corner afterall, and, I figure, if in for a penny, go in for a pound! Time to have a party on the best holiday of the year.

Nightmare Night 1 The Puppet Master's Game.

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"Nightmare Night, what a fright, give me something sweet to bite!" was the sing song cheer of dozens of fillies as they went door to door caroling for candy in their tiny miniatures of fairy tale witches and zombies, and costumes of all genres. In order to blend in within this nighttime celebration. I had taken up the guise of a literature classic for a tragic villain. He who once dwelled in isolation as if a sin manifest with a destiny that was beyond his own control, one of the most iconic creatures of halloween alongside witches and werewolves.

"Bleh bleh bleh!" yelled another dracula dressed foal to the ensuing giggles of the other foals of his group.

"Dracula doesn't go 'bleh bleh bleh'." I muttered under my breath, as we walked through the town festival. Alongside me were some other members of my fortress.

"Whatever boss, I think the guy has the impression down pretty well myself." Amber commented having been closest to my slightly miffed grumbling. She was disguised as the 'phantom of the Hoofra', ugh horse puns. at least the mask was form fitted to her face, though when you know a guy who can make just about anything in regards to props given the right resources, it wasn't that much of a surprise.

"Don't you worry our costumes will put these foals to shame!", from the rear was Trixie, having traded her usual star covered clothing for a pure black variant, which while was hardly original, did match the witch motif she had went for, though it was hardly 'mind shattering' as she had been commenting about the 'brilliance' of her costume for the past half hour of walking from the base to the town. I had declined outright warping us there as the town was heavily decorated and with the number of guests arriving in the town I didn't want a chance for us to be spotted arriving by portal.

The town was alight with ponies dressed in the classics, though to my disappointment, only the classics. I was hoping this world had some form of Spiderman or Batman at least, though from all the little witches, vampires, pirates, werewolves, and other creatures from works of classic literature running around there seemed to barely be any variety among the children. The adults at least had a bit more variety, though not by much. The truly interesting ones, that I spotted anyway, was a pony who was dressed as a fisherman with a shark attached to his butt, and the out of place pony who seemed to be dressed up as... What?

It was a costume of a famous play I had seen a long time ago, only the strange part about it was that three ponies were used to form it, one for the center head, and two more for each arm of the costume, the costume itself was the carnivorous plant from 'a little shop of horrors' and in it was the three most easily intimidated ponies I could ever recall in the show, the infamous flower trio who fainted at an incoming stampede of bunnies. Even more interesting was that they were scaring ponies by sneaking up behind them, then running around the pony to tie them up in the two arms and having the big head say 'feed me!' to get candy from them. I took us on a detour around the plant costume and continued on my way, "Feel free to enjoy the festivities." I managed to say before I looked back and realized that the only one still following me was Amber, who was trailing behind me as she became more interested in a game stand.

I had also gotten a game stand set up the night prior after getting permission from the mayor (in disguise of course) and it was quite a brilliant little set up that I had recalled from my time back on earth, somewhat as a nerd in both shows, tabletops and gaming, another thing that had caught my eye in the past was a game that was made solely on the computer that visited a tragic tale of children who were violently murdered and had their corpses stuffed into suits, it wasn't the most pleasant of stories, as it was at heart a horror game, though being a security guard at that pizzeria with animatronics trying to kill you was oddly addictive in a way. In a way that booth was also for me to measure the reflexes and skills of various citizens in Ponyville as well as how easily terrified they were, if at all. That bit of mind games were going on in the corner of my mind as we walked, or rather, trotted around the center of Ponyville.

My real attention was taken up with the general festivities, and keeping note of the various ponies I could spot. Twilight Sparkle was easily found, alongside two of her friends, Applejack and Pinkie pie. I noted that they were dressed in the same tropes as the rest of the city as well, while Twilight wore a robe dedicated to the stereotyped wizard, albeit with bells, and stars sewn in, Pinkie pie had chosen to dress as a Chicken along with Applejack as a scarecrow. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes at the first and last choice. Of course book-worm pony would choose an obscure reference to a magic caster while applejack would maintain the farm motif with a scarecrow. The Chicken was a bit acceptable until I drew an obscure reference to chickens and baking off the corner of my head. But then again I wasn't much better after choosing Dracula, the tragic tale of a man forced to indulge in a figurative meaning for his sin of greed.

Yeah... I trotted past them in my current disguise not getting much of a wayward glance from the three among the dozens of other costumed adults and children near the 'bobbing for apples' game that Applejack was running. Further exploration as I waited around and enjoyed the festivities was collecting some candies that were scattered everywhere. After a half hour of wandering and a new bag of collected halloween candies, I encountered Rarity who was looking disapprovingly at the sky where a single black cloud was hovering lower than the rest. Curious, I approached her, she was wearing an outfit that reminded me heavily of 'The Bride of Frankenstein', complete with hair done up in a straight up pillar and white tactically torn wedding dress that seemed to add to the allure she was trying to give off, judging at how many passing stallions gave her a look as they passed, it was working apparently. "What seems to be the problem?"

Rarity peeled her eyes away from the cloud as she took in someone was talking to her, her gaze momentarily scanning over her surroundings before settling on me, "Oh, sorry, I was looking at one of my friends who played a prank on me, Rainbow seems to be causing all sorts of havoc this year with the storm cloud she found."

"A storm cloud?" I asked, "Is that safe?"

She gave me a dismissive hoof gesture, "As safe as foals playing with stray cats I'd say, Less so when Rainbow is involved, at least it isn't like last year where she..." Rarity sighed for a moment, before giving another glare to the passing storm cloud, that now had a rainbow tail poking out of it as the cloud manipulator pushed the cloud over another group of unsuspecting ponies, "... Set half of Ponyville into a Mummy museum with rolls of toiletries."

"Sounds like one heck of a mess to clean up." I responded in turn. Should I go grab someone to go get her to stop?" I offered, though Rarity repeated the dismissive gesture.

"That is kind of you, though I'd rather not trouble someone on this holiday, I've been keeping a well enough eye on her to make sure no pony gets hurt from her antics. Last thing Ponyville needs is someone in the clinic for lightning burns."

"Okay then..." I trailed off, "Uh... see you around then maybe." I gave her a small wave and she waved back as I left the two, the only one of the mane six unaccounted for now was Fluttershy, who if I were to guess, would be locked up tight in her cottage rather than out and about due to the nature of this holiday and her timid nature.

Overall the festivities were fun, though I spent a good portion sitting on a bench in the middle of town watching and waiting seeing if a certain pony was going to arrive tonight while my mind toyed with ponies who were trying the game I had set up. The entry price was one piece of candy, and the reward, which had gotten the line super long was if they had beaten the five nights that they would get a hundred bits. Which attracted both adults and children thinking it would be easy. I cackled internally at how wrong they were. Two hours, yet a victor.

Patience paid off as I overheard someone ask, "What's that coming towards us? A carriage?"

"Not like any carriage I've seen before." another commented pony, this one dressed as a fisherman with a shark plush attached to his rear end.

"Aren't those bat-ponies who are driving it at that?" a peagsus zombie asked.

They were indeed bat ponies, and from the carriage's style, and my smile slowly grew wider as I saw that the occupant in said gothic themed bat-pony drawn carriage was wearing a long black cloak. Not unlike the one from the episode, fate favored the memorable it seemed. Though the real question was how it was going to go down in reality rather than in a half hour segment of time. In any case I braced myself to cover my ears should the noise volume quintuple in a minute.

"Its Nightmare Moon! Run!" Came the faint echo of Pinkie's shrieking terror along with the screams of dozens of other foals as they fled out of the outskirts of the forest and through the town square and beyond. dozens of children tripping and catching each other one foal dragging another up so that none of them would be 'gobbled up'.

The Carriage with the mare in question slowed down, as it began to touch down on one of the main streets and slow to a halt in the middle of the air, an impossible feat considering the harnesses connecting the pulling guards were shifting chains, but then again, there could be some form of magic to keep it there as well. Dropping down came the cloaked figure, whos shroud dissolved into bats that flew off into the night. The nearby townsfolk everywhere began to collaspe down onto their knees as if in sheer terror, though the casual glance would probably put them as prayer, a weird position in exchange to the shows variant in which the four legged equivalent looked somewhat akin to bowing in the similar pose rather than a pose of worship. I made a mental note for that. Besides me only two others were standing, Spike and Twilight.

I moved myself quickly out of general sight dipping behind a stand in the streets while Twilight spoke something from across the street while staring at Luna, Spike pulled her back though when she started to trot forward, and they both went into the same posistion as the others, though spike still had a claw to Twilights mouth as if ushering her to be quiet. Oh geeze.

Luna's wings outstretched as she walked up to the closest pedestrians and held out a hoof with a smile, before yelling out deafeningly loud, "Citizens of Ponyville! We have graced thy tiny village with our presence!" I could see a pony visibly clinging onto the ground as the voice pushed him, and it sounded from my distance like luna was shouting directly into my ears, she continued on, and I couldn't imagine the migraine the others who were CLOSER to Luna were experiencing, "So that you may behold, the real Princess of the Night!"

She began walking forward, ignoring the terrified looks with her eyes closed, "A creature of Nightmare no longer! But instead a pony who desires your love and admiration!" She still had that smile on her face, not quite reading the situation right, though everypony began to inch away from her crawling backwards to escape the Royal Canterlot Voice, "Together we shall turn this dreadful celebration into a bright and glorious feast!" she drawed out the last word doing a commanding pose, with lightning striking somewhere behind her.

"Did you hear that everypony!?" Pinkies voice came again and I looked behind me where a bunch of cowering foals and Pinkie had been hiding, "Nightmare Moon is going to feast on us all!" The screaming began again as the foals retreated back the way they had came again.

Luna noticed this, that smile turning into a look of startled bewilderment, and momentarily dropping the shouting voice, "What? No, children, no! You no longer have reasons to fear us! Screams of delight is what your princess desires." She looked disapointingly at a mare who was cowering near her hooves, dressed as a mouse.

Huh. Would of expected Fluttershy in that costume.

"Not screams of terror." Luna stomped and the mouse-dressed mare squeaked in fear before whimpering.

Luna went to mayor mare and a few other ponies trying to strike up conversation but they all cowered too much to even greet the princess. Fed up Luna dismissed them and trotted off. I knew the course of events that were going to happen, at least in regards to Luna learning to stop shouting, and the backfiring of the games, so I decided to prepare myself for when she wasn't at Twilight Sparkle's side, and went onto a rooftop to take a minor rest from standing, particularly near the spider-toss stand and focus once more on the amusing game that I was running ponies through. So far several groups have failed to pass the test, several ponies having left shell-shocked as if they had walked out of a warzone and up next was the cutie mark crusaders oddly enough. They were the second group that had decided to insist on working as a team. The other 'party' type participates had lossed but came out completely unphased from the scare somehow, meanwhile three others were in the fetal position muttering about a bunny, chicken, and bear respectively.

Returning my attention back to myself as the games went on, I tracked onward, following the slowly recovering terror of ponies from Luna's angry stomp outward, eventually leaving the general populace as I reached the outskirts of the small village. I released a cloud of bats from my puppets and scanned until I found her, making progress on foot rather than risking a chance to startle the one I sought. She was on the middle of a small bridge that crossed a creek, staring down at its thin waters that couldn't be more than a few feet deep. As I approached, I took noticed that she was leaning down on her arms staring down at her reflection, "Evening madam."

"Hello Puppet Master." Luna said without even turning her gaze, "What pain and misery brings thee here?"

"Just celebrating the holidays." I replied, "Noticed you were having a bad time as the guest of honor so to speak, and decided to check on the princess that doesn't make me want to cringe."

"Seems tis both a jest at our sister and a compliment at the same time." Luna commented, before casting me a cold shoulder, "Now what is the real reason to your visit? Can you not see that we are not in the mood for your interference on this dark night?"

I paused, giving a cautious stroll over next to the bridge, but maintaining a few good strides worth of distances, she wasn't shouting by any means, but she was a princess and I was a criminal after all, "Well two things really. One was to see if I could get an audience with you without being attacked by guards, or locked in a dungeon... Or petrified into a statue...." I rambled off for a short bit, "And two to see if I could get some answers in regards to what happened to you a long time ago."

This got a slight stare from Luna, "And why pray tell would I divulge you with answers?" I had gotten her interest, if at least a bit, which was a whole lot better than the worst case scenario of being blasted with magic and having to flee from a very pissed off and very pretty, even if terrifying, pony princess.

I smiled, "Information exchange? I imagine that my own motives aren't entirely that clear to either of you after that.. court room incident. We trade questions with each other until either an interruption occurs or we exhaust both supplies of questions."

Lunas eyes narrowed, and I added in, "Don't worry neither of us should be asking questions in lines of 'guard patrols' or 'where your secret base of operation is'. Limiting it to ourselves rather than adding risks to others. Can't imagine my friends would like it much if I brought the royal guard on our door as much as the guards reaction if our game lead to them getting ambushed on duty. I'll even let you ask the first question if you want."

Her narrowed eyes turned into a momentary raised eyebrow before she changed her stare back towards the stream that ran beneath and past the bridge, "Very well then... If this game is what thou wish to play, we shall indeed ask the first question, be it only out of duty to our subjects, even if they fear us. Your first question to answer on this night begins with this; what is your motivation for your crimes?"

I gave it a moment of thought, mostly for phrasing, and responded, "Three core things, really. Tragedy, Truth, and Redemption. Those being the short answers for it, would go into more detail, though that'd be outside of the question." I gave a soft smirk, "My turn, then, what lead to your transformation those many years ago into Nightmare Moon?"

Luna rolled her eyes at the name, "Jealously, anger, misplaced desires, and irrational behavior, take your pick." Similar to me she didn't elaborate further, "Our turn. Your 'core' things, what are you trying to accomplish with these?"

"A lesson that the truth is sometimes hidden, and that there are redeemable 'villains' out there who need a second chance and their stories told. I'm rather not fond of people becoming stoned or locked in the moon." I replied in turn, "My turn again, what sparked those emotions in you to try and overthrow your sister?"

Luna sighed, "We were jealous of our sister's popularity, and how ponies rarely showed their faces during our night, yet almost always rose with her sun. Ultimately we were misguided in our attempts to claim that attention for ourselves, and had we succeeded, our own misguided desires could of caused the world to inadvertently end."

"Understandable, a lot of people back where I came from sleep at night due to routine and jobs that were needed to be done under bright conditions of the day, was always more of a night person personally."

"Anyway, as for our question to pass the proverbial stick," Luna continued on after I had said my short piece, "Why Tragedy?"

"Tragedy is what makes a villain..." I searched for the ponified term of it, but failed, so I used the human one, "Humane." I said, "Its the difference between the villains you would see twirling evil mustaches while petting shaved cats and ones that do what they do because they find that they have, or had, little other choice in order to accomplish their goals. I take it you have heard of Mr.Freeze by now?"

"Yes, one of your lackies, Shining Armor was most peeved about his ice puns." Luna replied, "What of him?"

"On the outside he seems like just another villain, but the reality of him is, his motivation isn't greed, or hate, or anger, it is of love."

Luna's eyebrow rose, and I continued on, "Mr.Freeze was involved in an 'accident' though I guess the correct term if given all the details would be to try and stop either a murder or kidnapping. He was a professor, who was working on cryogenic research. His goal was to save the life of his wife, who was terminally i'll by preserving her until medical science advanced enough to the point where she could be operated on and live. His boss cut funding however, and tried to disconnect her and thus end her life. The resulting mess wasn't pretty. His employer escaped, and Nora, his wife, was still alive, but stuck in a cyrogenic state for the rest of eternity. As for Mr.Freeze himself, he can no longer live outside of his suit or in rooms flooded below a certain temperature."

"That is just awful." Luna said, "Did they arrest his boss for attempted murder?"

"Sadly money is power where he is from, and while Mr.Freeze has tried to get revenge on the perpetrator multiple times, he was always stopped by another cloaked crusader of justice. Though in Equestria I imagine he'd be another statue in the garden before his story was even half told due to the current legal system."

"This explains a bit about that... court thou ran a while back." Luna remarked, now she was leaning against the railing on one side, actually locked in conversation, and in interest."

"Yes it probably does, though I think you've asked two questions, so I have two for you," I replied giving her another small grin, "If you don't mind me asking, could I ask what exactly the elements of harmony... did to you when they struck you both times? I don't mean just physically, but mentally. To be more precise, what did they do to stop you from being well.... fangs and 'the night shall last forever' complex? Yes that is my second question too."

Luna winced at the 'night forever' bit in my speech but didn't keep me waiting long for her answer, which was slow as if she was thinking out and measuring the weight of each word she said, "The Elements of Harmony is a curious thing..." she began, "When we were struck the first time with them by my dear sister a thousand years ago, our ill found hate, jealousy, and lack of foresight had been fresh enough that when the elements struck, we saw they lacked the power required to cure me of them with only one user. So instead they temporarily banished me for a thousand years in a condition that would normally prove fatal for a non-alicorn. When I eventually broke free of my bonds and came back we've had a thousand years of idle waiting to vent, and while my anger grew early on, a large amount of despair also filled in over those years, and anger turned to idle hate that burned itself out over the years. My resolve shattered at that point, and only briefly resurfaced when we was freed from those accursed bonds. Similar to rekindling the coals of a fire however, that didn't last long as the metaphorical bucket of water doused with a tad bit of overkill by six individual element bearers."

She paused, to take a breath before continuing, "As for what they did... we're not entirely sure, some of it was showing us the future that we would of wrought if my vision had come to pass, an eternal darkness that lead to nothing but death, something we hadn't wanted, rather only to have others enjoy the splendor of my night. Others were the feelings of those who would of suffered under my rule, and others still... something about that strong magic had ripped away what shreds of anger I had left as well as forcefully, as we noticed once we recollected our senses, changed our body back to its former glory."

"So in other words it altered your mind." I said, recalling the various strange things in the show, "You'd think that controlling another persons mind would be illegal in Equestria, yet there are apparently books on the subject in a public library along with methods of brewing poisons and forcefully starving a species by trying to halt its diet." I recalled, remembering the scenes of discord's reformation, as well as Twilight's attempts at changing the habits of not only the Para-sprites but the Vampire Fruit Bats in the show.

"Mind control?" Luna asked, from her expression, she hadn't considered it.

"Yes, apparently the ability to forcefully reform someone is a spell found in several books," I recalled the show's salad that discord had ate during his reforming episode. Geeze if someone of less than pure intent got hold of those.

"In that light we are not aware. The elements of harmony are supposed to be just that, harmony."

A thought struck me, "Perhaps they are misnamed?"

"Misnamed? How so?" Luna asked.

"Well considering the circumstances, These elements of harmony are directly opposed to chaos in original intent, correct?"

"We originally found them to deal with Discord over a thousand years ago, and until then there had been no recollection of their use, we can assume very little, my sister may be more knowledgeable to the subject considering she has had near a thousand years to attempt and study them."

"My theory is that these Elements are rather of the order type rather than harmony. A bit of a negative doctrine so to speak in comparison to harmony. Similar but not quite the same." I started, "For instance the Elements tend to do one of either three things. The first two are demonstrated with your 'Nightmare' self. Where it tries to convert the victim into its line of thinking in order to cause order rather than the chaos of two opposing sides. When it fails, it attempts the more lethal parts of itself when non-lethal isn't an option. In your case since it couldn't kill you, it banished you to your key of power, the moon. For others, who lack such methods, it is a solid stoning."

"Your theory would be correct, but we have been assured by Celestia and from her, the correspondence of Starswirl the bearded, our old magic instructor, that the petrification process is reversible. We have underwent that process ourselves in a test spell."

So she didn't know, that confirmed it as concrete fact. My mind worked fast, already a copy had been made weeks prior, as part of a different plan, but plans change. I started out, "There is a bit you should probably... know, though not now. Wait until your holiday is over and you've had a good... day's sleep?" I added the last bit a bit questioningly. She nodded to the terminology.

Wordlessly I had a portal open, and she tensed up until she saw what popped out of it, a really old book. The last journal of Starswirl the bearded. I held it out to her, "It seems Starswirl's assistant from back then was keeping things from you, She decided to transmute herself into a basilisk and wait out eternity. That stone statue of a giant snake underneath the old palace of yours and Celestia is what remained of her after she tried to kill me."

Luna looked at me with a bit of skepticism, I didn't blame her, "You can check it for authenticity yourself, I've made a copy of its contents for a personal look, so you can have the original."

She took the book in her magic and slipped it under a wing, before speaking, "We will be sure to scour it for any signs of lies."

"I'd also give you his statue but that's a bit heavy to be dragging around." I tacked in and the look of shock almost made me concern for my own immediate health, "Should some form of agreement come around, I'll be handing him over of course. I'd rather not be the focus of a nine on one battle between the three current Alicorns and the elements quite yet."

One of my puppets spotted Twilight heading down the road, "Until then... it seems our conversation will have to wait, since one bookworm is heading down the road, please try to enjoy your holiday, even if it is built on delighting in being scared half to death."

With that the portal that had dropped the book vanished, and another opened up under me to warp myself out of there.

A few minutes later....


"Leave me be Twilight Sparkle."

"Princess.... I'm sorry it hasn't worked out how we wanted..."

And there was my queue to stop interfering with their festivities.

Nightmare Night 2: Arcade Horror

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After getting some permission while in disguise from the mayor to set up a new game stand, it was time to introduce the ponies to the work of a security guard in a fun filled game of horror and imagination. The stand itself was very small, barely ten feet in each direction, there was a flap to enter the guard station from behind, where a screen was waiting alongside the controls. On either side of the seat along two close walls were the doors and windows alongside two buttons, one labeled light and one labeled door on each side. The objective was simple. To manage your power and keep an eye on the animatronics and survive. As each person only got one shot rather than several for the sake of time, they had one life each. If they could get through the five sections, or 'nights' that each consisted of ten minutes, or so, then they would win the grand prize, a thousand bits.

To make it fair on the ponies, I had posted a list of tips and another board worth of lore outside the attraction for people to win, and with that deliciously large amount of prize money, came the temptations of both adults and foals, especially since it only took one piece of candy to enter. I was both nice and particularly sadistic with that. Such a low entry fee, so much candy to be collected, hah. There were a total of four main animatronics since I wanted to emulate the feel of the first game I was ripping off from my own dimension, only in reality, and I'd save the second game for next Nightmare Night if someone beat the first one. Internally I chuckled to myself as the first contenders came at my stand, depositing the candy to the greeter and walking beneath the broken down looking golden animatronic that sat on a stand above the doorway, looking dysfunctional and super creepy per usual.

First Contender: Doctor Whooves.

Walkng past the stand he gave a raised eyebrow to the image of the golden mechanical bear that was above the tent, he had been walking while dressed up as a rather odd salt shaker, for one he was carrying a plunger in one hand, and a cooking whisk in the other, and his hat had a strange rod hanging off it, that was limp due to the cloth not being strong enough to support a plastic tube that had been painted silver and modified to have some sort of quasi-mechanical eye attached to the end of it. "Hmm another mystery perhaps?" he asked to no one in particular, I had declined to leave a real greeter, the stand was mostly unmanned but still active, the doctor himself took out a piece of candy after reading the sign thoroughly, "Many rules for such a small tent... Hmm, might as well give it a shot."

I smirked at that, and when he inserted the candy into the slot, the tent flap came open with a hiss, and a dark chuckle emulated out of the golden bear as the good Doctor passed underneath, and took a seat. Behind him the flap closed shut on its own, and he gave the exit a curious glance, before the game began to start up with the ringing of a modified device, I couldn't use an actual phone without the technology being present on Equestria, but robots still belonged in the realm of science fiction for them.

In its stead was a old timey looking phone that looked more like it belonged in an old western movie rather than a pizzeria.

He pressed the button regarding it, having read the instructions, and the speaker began to crackle up, with the show, the phone itself was mostly for show, but the quality was still top notch, "H-hello? Hellllooooo? Uh, I wanted to record a message for you to help you get settled in on your first night. Um, I actually worked in that office before you. I'm finishing up my last week now, as a matter of fact. So, I know it can be a bit overwhelming, but I'm here to tell you there's nothing to worry about. Uh, you'll do fine. So, let's just focus on getting you through your first week. Okay?"

"Oh, a bit of a story with this game? Lovely, just lovely." The Doc Whooves replied cheerfully.

"Uh, let's see, first there's an introductory greeting from the company that I'm supposed to read... Uh, it's kind of a legal thing, you know." The phone guy ran off continuing to speak after a second of the sounds of shuffling papers and continuing his quote from the company in a mild monotone, "Um, 'Welcome to Freddy Fazbear's Pizza. A magical place for kids and grown-ups alike, where fantasy and fun come to life. Fazbear Entertainment is not responsible for damage to property or person. Upon discovering that damage or death has occurred, a missing person report will be filled within 90 days, or as soon property and premises have been thoroughly cleaned and bleached, and the carpets have been replaced.'"

Doctor Whooves now looked mildly concerned, "Okay so they're really serious about getting people spooked then." But the phone guy talked over him.

"Blah blah blah, now that might sound bad, I know, but there's really nothing to worry about. Uh, the animatronic characters here do get a bit quirky at night, but do I blame them? No. If I were forced to sing those same stupid songs for twenty years and I never got a bath? I'd probably be a bit irritable at night too. So, remember, these characters hold a special place in the hearts of children and we need to show them a little respect, right? Okay."

"I didn't even say anything to confirm...What's an Animatronic anyway Is it those things that were on the sign outside and that bear thing above the tent?"

"So, just be aware, the characters do tend to wander a bit. Uh, they're left in some kind of free roaming mode at night. Uh...Something about their servos locking up if they get turned off for too long. Uh, they used to be allowed to walk around during the day too. But then there was The Bite of '87. Yeah. I-It's amazing that the pony body can live without the frontal lobe, you know?"

"Not very well without it, that manages a lot of functions you know." The Doctor retorted, though he was quickly catching on that the message was automated.

"Uh, now concerning your safety, the only real risk to you as a night watchman here, if any, is the fact that these characters, uh, if they happen to see you after hours probably won't recognize you as a person. They'll p-most likely see you as a metal endoskeleton without its costume on. Now since that's against the rules here at Freddy Fazbear's Pizza, they'll probably try to...forcefully stuff you inside a Freddy Fazbear suit. Um, now, that wouldn't be so bad if the suits themselves weren't filled with crossbeams, wires, and animatronic devices, especially around the facial area. So, you could imagine how having your head forcefully pressed inside one of those could cause a bit of discomfort...and death. Uh, the only parts of you that would likely see the light of day again would be your eyeballs and teeth when they pop out the front of the mask, heh."

The Doctors face turned a slight shade of green at the mental image of that. Great, it was working. Though a bit too well.

"Y-Yeah, they don't tell you these things when you sign up. But hey, first day should be a breeze. I'll chat with you tomorrow. Uh, check those cameras, and remember to close the doors only if absolutely necessary. Gotta conserve power. Alright, good night"

"Right... conserve power... There are more than one stage of this game?!" Doctor Whooves said to no one in particular as he spotted the mark that said Night 1, "Well at least its already hour 3. Wow that time flew by past in that guy's monologue..."

He checked a camera, "And now we have... a curtain with an out of order sign... a few tables... ah there they are, across the pizzeria! Wow, they aren't very good looking for whatever they were called. Is that a bunny? Horrid thing looks more like a something out of a lovehoofian horror novel than a child entertainment restaurant."

Great, he was talking to himself.

He turned the camera momentarily to check on the curtain and that was when they moved. First was the chicken, Chica, who was now creeping out of the stage spot and towards the kitchen, ever wary of the gaze of the camera. Bonny however went off the stage and into the middle of the pizzeria, to stare at a camera while standing next to a table full of party hats. When he flicked back only Freddy was left on stage, staring at him. "Wait, where did the other two go? Oh wandering, right..." The Doctor spoke again, and he flicked through to the center camera, "Well theres the bunny. Nice to know he can see me too. Hello creepy things, you know bunnies aren't purple right?"

Bonnie of course didn't respond.

"Right, well lets see where the hungry lookin' one went... he flicked through a few screens, "Ah, there it is." he announced to himself, as found her, "Thought you could sneak off when I wasn't looking weren't you? Now, to check on the brown one again, and the curtain..."

Bonnie the rabbit continued his way down the hallway as he spoke to himself, "Curtain check, Freddy check... and Bonnie... gone? where did he go this time?" he flicked through the cameras but after checking each one he couldn't find him. "Huh...?" he looked away from the screen towards the left door.

Bonnie's face was next to his, already inside.

He turned pale. "Oh."

Screeching ensured.

Second Contender: Bon Bon, Ie: Agent Sweetie Drops.

A small line had started to collect as the early game began to pick up. After the Doctor himself was found outside the game tent massaging his temples and muttering about a metal bunny, others had started to take notice. The next pony of interest was Bon Bon, who was all but joined to the hip with Lyra normally. But it seems she was momentarily separated from her due to distraction, and her interest only grew stronger upon seeing her friend quaking in his horseshoes. She herself was dressed up as a detective, I guessed, judging from the Sherlock Holmes hat, light brown trench coat and fake pipe that spewed bubbles when blown into.

After exchanging a few words with the doctor, most of it being incomprehensible to the detective mare, she decided to see just how scary this 'bunny' was. Her first night was easy enough, the same monologue from before, but she paid the attractions more rapid attention than the casual monologue that the Doctor had distracted himself with. Occasionally she would mutter to herself but it was too low to pick up.

"Uhh, Hello? Hello? Uh, well, if you're hearing this and you made it to day two, uh, congrats! I-I won't talk quite as long this time since Freddy and his friends tend to become more active as the week progresses. Uhh, it might be a good idea to peek at those cameras while I talk just to make sure everyone's in their proper place. You know..."

"Already ahead of you..." she muttered, a serious look on her face.

"Uh... Interestingly enough, Freddy himself doesn't come off stage very often. I heard he becomes a lot more active in the dark though, so, hey, I guess that's one more reason not to run out of power, right? I-I also want to emphasize the importance of using your door lights. There are blind spots in your camera views, and those blind spots happen to be right outside of your doors."

"what a tragic over sight as well as the limited power one." she spoke a bit louder to herself, "It's almost like they want their guards to die."

"So if-if you can’t find something, or someone, on your cameras, be sure to check the door lights. Uh, you might only have a few seconds to react... Uh, not that you would be in any danger, of course. I'm not implying that. Also, check on the curtain in Pirate Cove from time to time. The character in there seems unique in that he becomes more active if the cameras remain off for long periods of time. I guess he doesn't like being watched. I don't know. Anyway, I'm sure you have everything under control! Uh, talk to you soon."

as the phone clicked off, Bon Bon checked her left and right and promptly closed the door in bonnies face as he tried to get at her. the animatronic clanked its face against the lowered door, and took a short bit of looking at her in the window. Bon bon gave him an annoyed glance, "Shoo. You may of gotten my buddy, but you aren't getting m-"

A yellow hand landed on her shoulder.

She flipped around, and fired a grappling hook from her coat into Chica's face. The hook bounced off and stopped dead on the edge of a room corner before hitting the ground. It didn't dent the animatronic but it did tilt its head, after which point it began screeching at her.

"Ahhhhhhh!" Bon bon screamed as the animatronic promptly grabbed her as she whacked her hooves at it, "Grappling hook, you failed meeeeeee!" as she lost the game.

Third Contender: Prince Blueblood

The third contender I didn't even see coming. Luna was arriving soon, and he was already visiting? Did he know in advance? As he parade by the streets his interest was taken by the thousand bit reward, it was a paltry sum in regards to the treasurey of canterlot, but it was still considerable enough for his interest to be caught, easy money he probably thought.

"You two. How does this game work?" Prince Blueblood demanded the two shivering ponies outside the stand.

"You don't wan't to go in there." Doctor Whooves stated, he had recovered a bit more, "Not meant for the... the faint of heart..." He wheezed.

"Nonsense, there is nothing on this night that can frighten me!" Prince blueblood snorted, "Once again I ask, how does this game work?"

"I-instructions are on the sign." Bon Bon told him shakily, and as he read the sign he snorted.

"Sounds simple enough, so simple in fact, a guard could do it. Time to test this 'games' true worth of terror." Prince Blueblood strode into the stall and sat down on the chair, "Ready when you are showponies."

The game had begun...

Night three had arrived in a flash, before either of us could of guessed. Prince Blueblood was faring extremely well as his eye for detail caught himself on the edge of defeat and back into the precipice of victory on numerous occasions. I would of sworn he had played it before, as on night two his diligence on the machines wandering around had emptied the battery precisely moments before the third nights bell would chime a new beginning. For the most part he was rather conversational. Showing a genuine interest in the phone guy, but as the third night commenced, the following conversation occurred.

The phone guy of course started it, "Hello, hello? Hey you're doing great! Most people don’t last this long. I mean, you know, they usually move on to other things by now. I'm not implying that they died. Th-th-that’s not what I meant. Uh, anyway I better not take up too much of your time. Things start getting real tonight."

"Starting to get real? An actual challenge Huzzah!" Prince Blueblood cheered, "For a bit was thinking that those things were going easy on me. Nice to know they're taking me more seriously now."

"Uh... Hey, listen, I had an idea: if you happen to get caught and want to avoid getting stuffed into a Freddy suit, uhh, try playing dead! You know, go limp. Then there's a chance that, uh, maybe they’ll think that you're an empty costume instead."

"Good advice-"

"Then again if they think you're an empty costume, they might try to... stuff a metal skeleton into you. I wonder how that would work. Yeah, never mind, scratch that. It's best just not to get caught."

"Okay, less than good advice."

"Um... Ok, I'll leave you to it. See you on the flip side."

I was starting to ramp up the actions and directions of their movements, was this really the same guy who was rude to Rarity back at the Gala? He wasn't really insulting of a presence as... what was the term... It'd come to me in a moment eventually... Left, right, left. Bonny and Chica tried to get to him. But he countered them both rather easily while maintaining watch on Foxy. Freddy tried to show up as well a few times, but similarly he was countered. Similarly to the last night, when the battery ran out on the generator the theme started up again as all three of the persistent machines surrounded him, only for the bells to go off. Blueblood had been completely unphased by the rather terrifying looking animatronics.

Okay, this was starting to get annoying. What did it take to scare Mr. High-horse?

On 'Night Four' I was going to start pulling out all the stops, movement would start to get more erratic and he would need to keep his senses sharp. But first, for the phone call.

"-ello, hello? Hey! Hey, wow, day 4. I knew you could do it."

"A decent challenge, but not quite there yet." Prince Blueblood conversationally shot back.

"Uh, hey, listen, I may not be around to send you a message tomorrow." A banging sound, was heard, twice in rapid thuds, as if something was hitting a metal door really hard was heard through the phonecall, "It's-It's been a bad night here for me. Um, I-I'm kinda glad that I recorded my messages for you-" The phone guy nervously cleared his throat, "uh, when I did..."

"Oh dear, I think I can see where this is going..." Blueblood said back, in a mildly sad tone, "Hold on in there phone-sir."

Over more loud banging the phone guys voice quivered,"Uh, hey, do me a favor... Maybe sometime, uh, you could check inside those suits in the back room? I'm gonna to try to hold out until someone checks. Maybe it won’t be so bad. Uh, I-I-I-I always wondered what was in all those empty heads back there." The familiar chime of the Freddy Fazbear theme began to spring up, a tune that Blueblood had been familiar with over the last few nights. Elictting a gasp from him as he checked the doors and blocked a sneaky Chica trying to get at him.

"You know..."The phone guy said, before giving a defeated moan, "oh, no -" The rest of the short call was filled with Metallic screeching.

"Well this is rather..." He paused, searching for a word. Bonnie tried to get in, but without even looking he flipped the switch on bonnie, making the metallic face slam into the metal door, "Unfortunate." he said after a measured breathe, waiting briefly for bonnie to leave before checking on foxy and freddy again.

It wasn't until he shut both doors for an extended period of time did he make his error.

Thirty seconds passed with the doors in that state, and then Freddy struck. Screeching at him less than an inch from his face. He didn't even flinch. Much to my confusion.

"Well played." Blueblood said, "I thought that sort of mechanism would be in play. Frankly I've spent enough time here with your repetitive game. Let me guess, night five would of had some demonic chanting for its phonecall?" The puppet for its part tilted its head.

"No need to see me out, I'll show myself out." Prince Blueblood announced to the puppet, inching around it, and leaving out the tent flap, "Nice try though, but a game is a game, no real terror to be had. Would like to talk to your inventor though, a rather well put together act."

Well... Okay then?

The rest of Nightmare Night commenced without a further bit of challenge in comparison to Blueblood's ability. Many shrieks were to be had, and more than one pony probably would need to see a counselor afterwards but it took a particularly devious mind to... well... run the fair.

A-Dress-ing the evil that is Aku. (Ie: Two Geeks talking about shows)

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I sighed, as I relaxed myself back into the bed. Next to me, a large pile of sweet candy was being sorted absent mindedly as I reviewed over having been able to attend the pony equivalent of my favorite holiday. The mere act of having been able to talk to the princess of the night had left me Giddy. Unable to quite sleep nor relax, but instead left me pacing around my room while errant hands continued projects both at my desk and traveling with me. I would have to wait and steal a newspaper soon in order to see what effect my actions would have caused, but so far it was working out fantastically.

Eventually I would be dragged into direct confrontation with one of the key elements of Equestria. Be they the princesses or the elements of harmony, and the idea of undermining their justice system had already taken a second hit if Luna became proactive against the practice of petrification. What would I do for an eye in the palace, something that could infiltrate and just... watch. But what sort of mask would that be? A dozen sketches flooded the worktable as my mind went to work and started sorting the images.

Solid Snake? Too easy for a guard to catch. Cardboard boxes weren't just left lying about in a palace. Let alone the nightmare it would be to try and capture that rugged beard accurately. That denied him as a puppet, and besides, Solid Snake wasn't the best at evading detection without lethal force. Besides, he was a hero not a villain, even if war was a morally grey area.

Nox? Too easy to spot, and without actual stealth skills his main form of hiding would be making a time anomaly which would get him caught almost immediately by the sisters. While his skills were useful, they were best kept in reserve.

A half a dozen more were removed, due to flaws in their stealthy approach, which meant I needed to turn from invisibility or hiding to a far more... direct approach. Infiltration. The key word would be who then, as a majority of the masks I had were not based on the pony identity, and even the few that could take the shape wouldn't be able to do so very accurately. Nor would maintaining a puppet at such a far distance away be easy to navigate with skill and finesse. Would I even be able to do that? I needed more information regarding magic, or more likely the ability to detect magic in order to figure out what could or couldn't be done. From what I knew they couldn't detect changelings but if that was because a spell to detect individual magical signatures weren't developed or the lack of the skill in question in general were unknown. It reminded me of what i read earlier back near the start. Information is power.

It was unknown if my presence had been detected beforehand but it seemed that the Sisters were particularly receptive towards time magic, but the other forms of magic I was using was either harder to detect or required different skills in order to find. It brought me back to the entries I had read about magic, "Knowledge is power." I repeated to myself.

Canterlot wasn't just home to the princesses, but the school for magic that Twilight had attended as well. If it was anything like a college that would mean that with winter coming a new term could begin, but first things first it was time to deal with a few guests, and gather more information. So much work to do, and thankfully a lot of time. For once there was a large number of people staying in my place of residence of which to deal with. So I decided to start with the familiar and work my way to the unfamiliar grounds. Starting with checking in on Amber, she was hard at work trying to train while my Glados puppet threw increasingly bizarre or difficult, sometimes both, situations at her. It was interesting to watch her work, as she was progressively getting stronger and better at avoiding the numerous traps and beating them back with each day of training. A griffin in motion was still a sight to behold, as Amber had figured out how to use her wings to aide in more subtle bodily direction changes through both on the ground and in the air by manipulation of her wings thanks to the few occasions Cass came down to watch, and occasionally spar with the Griffin.

With little to do aside from improving the training course, I moved on to Cass, who was busying herself with her routine workout. I wasn't a medical expert, but with Trixies knowledge of magic had recommended Cass had begun to work out with her new cybernetic limbs, improving her endurance and magical capacity through consistent use of the cybernetics I had built for her. The magic tax was incredible it seemed for people to use my props, as the props themselves were fueled from magic, but already Cass was making leaps and bounds in that progression as well, having gone from the mere half an hour of consistent use a day to several hours before needing to rest or recharge, and it made me smile a bit inside but at the same time with her busy in training it seemed like hardly the time to interrupt her with a conversation. I'd have to save the idea of adding modifications to her cybernetics for when she was actually able to use them on a day to day basis.

Moving down the list, Trixie had gotten into my stash of books that I had stolen from Twilight's library and was making notes. I tried to bother the show-mare but was rewarded with being completely ignored. Seeing as her attention was focused in said books, though from a curiosity glance I could spot that she was reading into various spells, I left her to her studying, resolving to ask her more about Canterlot's schools for unicorns later on. It wasn't a pressing concern, but I respected most peoples need for some alone time. After all I would prefer to have some alone time myself every so often and if I couldn't respect someone elses personal space, how would I expect them to respect mine?

That left mainly the space marine wing, which had been redecorated quite vastly, restudying my notes I remembered my notes of who was who of Yoko's squad, but I didn't spot Yoko among them. Where was-

Knock Knock

Oh, there she was.

"Come on in!" I yelled out, unlocking the door with a simple flick of my mind, and opening it as I strode across the room, glad for the freedom away from the wheelchair, "Yoko, what a surprise, what's up?"

Yoko herself was wearing a loose fitting shirt, with jeans, though she was still wearing her power armored boots. I noticed she still carried her bolter on her back, though I couldn't blame her, considering I still wore my marionette generating device on my side as well. Little tools of the trade given to us, and even in a secure zone I wouldn't leave such a thing where it could be picked up and examined by others. The expression on her face told me she was a bit cheerful, and her tone of voice reflected this as well, "Sup with you Xandy? Got a few moments to spare?"

"More than a few moments," I responded in turn, taking a seat and gesturing to the one I normally reserved for Cass, "Have a seat, what do you want to talk about?"

"Well for one I wanted to say thanks for saving me and my squad." Yoko started, "Though I wanted to talk to you about what your plans are. As much as I want to stick around, I don't know if I am allowed to or if it would even be possible to."

"What do you mean?" I asked, nearby my table of in construction projects slid to a halt as she continued on.

The easy going smile turned into an unsure frown on Yoko's face, "Well for one, you brought back several ponies, ponies who have different versions of themselves here, it isn't like you just brought a displaced here after all. The fact that you took me from my world means I can't rely upon my old tokens either, and anyone attempting to call me back at my 'world' would get no response. Essentially to the multiverse, I'm 'dead' I guess." She paused as she considered this, "Which means I'm stuck here as long as you continue living as well as my troops lives unless you can somehow send us to another plane of reality, in which case I'd be stuck there until I got sent back to you."

"Is this theoretical? Not that I plan on dying mind you." I told her back, pondering over the science behind it, "I mean, I know there are probably ponies out here that are alternate reality versions of the ones we brought back, but it won't really be that big of an issue, would it? If anything it just means that the most they'd need to do is wear their armor, and not meet their other selves right?"

"That or we go with the doctor who logic of the universe crashing if they ever met themselves, but that's time travel not multiverse hopping. The show itself seemed to imply with that one Twilight time travel episode that they can cause a paradox by time traveling to meet themselves."

"Ugh Science." we both said after a few moments of pondering this, and laughed when our responses were identical.

"Glad to see some things never change," Yoko smirked a bit, "So what's up with you and this universe, you told me Discord of all people brought you here?"

"Yeah, he was dressed as a shop cleric to a prop store where he made his own props, taught me a bit on making his own horn and gave me the kit I'm using to make said props." I gestured to my supply kit, which was in a very orderly state. Of course my very I meant in a mess where only I knew where the exact tools I'd need would be. Usually I left tools all over the place when working on a project, and only cleaned up afterwards. But with a constant stream of projects, there had been little chance to re-organize my worktable.

Yoko pondered this, "That's a bit odd, but at the same time somewhat expected of the spirit of disharmony and chaos. I was brought to my world by some 'merchant' fellow that a lot of other displaced think 'has to be evil' for some reason. Though I don't really get it, I mean if anything its the displaced themselves that show either evilness or goodness the merchant just seems like well, an intermediary. I mean what sort of evil villain brings random people with random powers into different universes where one of their favorite shows exist as reality?"

"Because they're bored?" I shot out, with a shrug, "That or they're actually a nice guy, who knows? I never met him and you're like one of the few displaced I talked to so far. Been a bit busy on my side to really do very much with any of them. Discord's logic behind bringing me was bit more clear than what you're saying."

"And that is?" She asked, gesturing me to go on.

"Well Discord wanted me to teach them the true meaning of a tragic villain, the ponies that is." I told her and she facepalmed.

"Really Xandy?" She asked me with an exasperated sigh, "You're still hung up about their whole Elements of Harmony Deus ex Machina method of dealing with villains? It was a cartoon meant for children remember?"

"Yeah? Well its reality for both of us now," I countered and she rolled her eyes, "Besides, what else am I going to do? Interfere with Twilight becoming a Princess? Attack random villains and sit on the side lines in an otherwise peaceful and uneventful countryside? Boring."

"Uneventful?" Yoko raised her eyebrow, "It seems like Ponyville either deals with a monster attack or a friendship problem every month or so by the shows logic."

`"And heavens forbid am I preparing for the Canterlot Wedding Fiasco." I responded in turn, "We just had Nightmare Night, which means its not going to be long before Prince Plot device and Princess Hasbro-merchandise have a run in with the changelings. I'm just trying to change their system of justice to account for less extreme punishments than killing people with petrification or brainwashing them, not cause a genocide or cause total Anarchy."

"True enough I guess," Yoko said, "So what do you plan to do after you're done trying to change Equestria's government?"

I paused, giving it a thought, "Not rightly sure, after Discord is reformed I guess my life goes to... Something? Not entirely sure, might be more involved with other displaced and helping with their issues. Or even become an anti-hero or something in this universe. Honestly if it wasn't for the whole, 'No Judical system like ever' going on, I'd probably be retired and living in luxury considering the dragon horde of gold and jewels I have in the vault down here."

"Wait Dragon Horde? What? Did you kill a dragon?" Yoko asked with disbelief.

"No...?" I said back a bit confused, "I grabbed the one that the red dragon in the show left behind after Fluttershy glared it down, why do you ask?"

"That is going to bite you in the rump Xandy. Don't you remember like any of our adventures where we tried taking dragon hordes when the dragon was gone?"

"I'll deal with that issue when the time comes, I already dealt with a massive basilisk, how much more dangerous can a dragon be than a giant poison spewing, turn-you-to-stone-with-a-glare snake?"

"Dragon fire can melt durasteel in my world." Yoko said calmly. I did not want to know how she found that out.

"Okay, time to grab a fire manipulating villain then." I shot back, and she sighed, "Speaking of which, how in the world is Aku a tragic villain?"

"Giant space blob that was made by the gods and deemed evil and customarily slaughtered by its creator so only a tiny scrap of the overall mass escaped to plague the planet as a mindless puddle of what looked like oil until a jerk shot it with a poison arrow to try to kill it, and then it gained consciousness from a poisoned arrow and lashed back against the things trying to kill it?" I monologued for a short bit, before giving her a roll of my eyes, "Oh gee, I wonder."

"That doesn't excuse him from losing tragic points by taking over and enslaving the entirety of the universe." Yoko shot back.

"The only reason hes evil is because a whole bunch of people on the losing side of a war calls him that. If anything Aku is more like a child when you consider the mass he was originally a part of. A fractured soul that's reacting to its environment. Also Aku's Rule seemed to have the opposite of a bad effect if you remember."

"How so?"

"Technology sky rocketed for one, if you remember. Samurai jack was flung a few hundred years into the future, which around our time would have barely reached the industrial era, and while hes a conquering tyrant of an Empire, many other tyrants are also viewed as 'good guys' back in our own world. Take the United States for instance with the Native Americans and its former slave policies. We conquered another land as pretty much self entitled, racist, and down right inhumane settlers back then but no one bats an eye at America because its the 'land of the free' thanks to a few important politicians giving the nation a wake up call on how hypocritical it is, Yet during its brutal initial rule technology and medicine advanced far further than the natives could of ever imagined, and industry had a higher calling than the wandering tribes could hope to stand up to."

"Thought you already know a war leaves no men as good." Yoko shot back, "If I recall from our sessions, you were quite adamant on that with dealing with the Tau and calling the Empire out on its xenophobic ways."

Man that had been a while ago, "True enough, but with all wars, history is written by the victor. Take the second world war, if Hitler had won, his genocide of the Jewish race would of been called justified and he would of been called a hero. He lost and was deemed one of the most infamous villains in history. Yet hardly anyone back where we came from recalls Stalin, who supposedly murdered nine million more of his own men than Hitler killed with his authority because that's who gets talked about in history classes."

I paused as I watched Yoko mull over that, and I took a deep breathe of air before continuing, "Yet here we rewind back to the original topic of Aku as a conquering king, having united multitudes of races under his rule, and having at some point given multiple types of animals sentience, and replaced his army with machines. If anything Aku became one of the more ideal tyrants, for he actually cared for the public opinion of his image as well as peoples lives. Why else would he of built his army rather than conscripted it?"

"To prevent mutiny?" she began again, but I shook my head.

"A lot of the robots under Aku's command have some level of basic sentience, a type of machine that was phased out. Remember the episode where they spent the entire time focused on one robot from a much earlier time of aku's rule who had emotions and loved a puppy?"

"Right, but Samurai jack murdered hi-" Yoko paused, "Great, now you're having me thinking of Samurai Jack as the bad guy."

"Samurai jack was morally grey if anything, " I responded back, "For all of Jack's good intentions, he failed to realize that the rest of the human race isn't nearly as 'good hearted' as he thinks it is. If we look at the show we see most humans are either barbaric warriors, gun totting Scotsmen, Spartans, punks, or in a few cases members of a mafia. There is barely any humans left who don't practice one form of violence or another in that show or result to using it as one of their primary methods of getting what they want. Even the monks as glorified as they were tried attacking Jack just for trespassing."

"I could argue that they were driven into that corner like rats and fought back as hard as they could by Aku, but even I know there's no winning on the human morality fight of that universe." Yoko replied, "That's like arguing that the Empire of mankind was morally correct to commit extreme genocide of xeno-races that weren't human and then throw all their psykers to die as a giant meal pot of souls to their god emperor."

I opened my mouth to agree but she continued on, "So I'll drop the matter of Aku, I may not agree on the matter but you make a very interesting argument for a show that could be reality in another universe. Though I must say you may be reading a bit TOO much into the matter of Aku. Keep in mind this is the same guy who cheats whenever he can, and called a pizza guy despite being the emperor of many races."

I chuckled, and she gave me a curious look. Quickly I elaborated, "I miss our debates, its been too long since we last saw each other, and I was still getting over maybe never seeing anyone I knew from back home again. Sorry. This has been a bit of a relief actually."

She laughed as well, "Yeah, know what you mean. It seemed like yesterday we were geeking out over the phone for the next comic-con, but now, I'm actually a space marine and you're... well you!"

She gestured broadly at me and I looked myself over, "Well, I'm still a shorty, especially in comparison to you now. But then again you were always tall..." I joked, earning a playful though somewhat painful punch to the arm.

"Yeah yeah, but what's up with your face? I was at least dressed up as a space marine when I was transported, you look like something from an anime. Maybe Kagetane from Black Bullet, if he was exceedingly short and had fire in his eyes and mouth. No wonder we mistook you for a daemon at first glance." She chuckled.

"Funny, I'm spookier under it though." I responded in turn, "Think Slenderman. Though please don't remove my face, its really really weird having three of my five senses disconnected from my body."

"Wait what?!" Yoko's face was priceless, "Dude, you can't just drop a bombshell like that and expect me not to want to see that."

"Maybe another time, still not comfortable with my face being removable. Its like... " I paused, unsure of how to explain it, "my chest gets tight, and a sense of dread overcomes me, ya know? It's really weird."

"So guess you can say, you're attached?" Yoko commented, with a small comforting smirk.

"Har. Har." I gave her a momentary glare before lightening up into my own grin, "Since when were you into puns?"

"Since I was abducted from our old reality to a world of colorful rainbow ponies." Yoko replied in turn, "You learn to lighten things up every now and then with some bad humor after a while. A lesson Pinkie taught me surprisingly back during the first few weeks of my stay."

The night dragged on, and we had some catching up to do, well she asked a lot of questions, and I mine. But all in all it was a night of fun. A lot of things were spoken of that night, most of our time since she had come through the portal was making sure that she would be alright after all. Not much had been said as the new found military force had settled itself in. Perhaps it was time to have a chat and change that...

In Service Of... What Exactly?

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Steel grey halls had turned a muted golden yellow as I walked to the dormitory of the warhammer inspired group that were crashing in my home. I was quite sure a lot of the adornments were different than I had left them, as new iconography decorated the walls alongside what I had left out for the well armored troop that Yoko had called her friends.

For my own sake, I gave myself a rundown, having been ages since I had touched even a fragment of warhammer lore aside from the very literal giant man of an ork. Because unlike orks, the rag tag barbarians who screamed a warcry that would send shivers down the spines of the most stalwart morale officer, and made colors have an actual tactical effect beyond camouflage. The Marines were a very different story altogether.

The zealous symbol of a large emblem in the shape of the letter I with wings on it was the primary symbol of interest of which I could reverse engineer from the lore of gaming workshops and old game manuals. It was the icon of an Inquisitional force. One who sought the truth, and interrogated those who would be hiding it. I held the hope however, that Yoko had enough common sense to change the system a bit to fit more of Equestria's morale standards.

A mild bead of sweat formed underneath my mask. Warhammer was anything but merciful to its own subjects. Perhaps because the human race numbered countless billions across hundreds if not thousands of stars, but a lot of the time the Warhammer lore in the book had a policy of dealing with those who went against their empires wishes. Most of those had been a swift ending of all life on the planet by calling in the most drastic measures, an exterminatus. Though nowhere on the same scale as sending Celestia's sun into the planet, it was still a great tragedy that an entire world had to be extinguished let alone the other worlds Yoko had casually mentioned shortly after I had dragged her and her squad into my own dimension.

It came to be then that these were ponies, not just space marines in my quarters. These ponies had witnessed their entire world die, black armor or no, everything the new and love was gone, and replaced by these steel halls. Morale must of been low. I paused before reviewing their armor in my head. It had been black with silver trimming, which put the pieces together as members of another chapter of Warhammer lore. The Deathwatch. The best marines from any chapter who proved themselves exceptional were often recruited into another chapter by that name.

Those who were, were ones who had already seen hell itself and outlived it and strive to stay in their lords good standing without falling to chaos or the enemies weapons. While luckily I doubt they had to face even more of the lore filled monsters beyond the Orks of a warrgh, but it did give me shivers to be entering the room full of war veteran super soldiers now, puppet master or no. These were the true Emperors- or I guess in this case, Celestias Finest. How would I appear to them? One of them did call me a chaos daemon initially before Yoko cleared it up. However she did give me the persona of Inquisitor Deargon and said that she had 'filled them up' with stories of those old gaming adventures.

A new wave of dread hit me, just what had Yoko told them about Inquisitor Deargon? In a gaming element like tabletop one could get away with an act of role playing someone you weren't and taking risks one would normally not take in their sane mind. If she told them about even a third of what Deargon did back in those days they may think I had a thing for grandstanding and beating odds no sane man, could ever beat and the charisma of a king. To my horror I remembered that I had named Deargon after the very thing that had inspired his character concept, the proud and mighty dragon.

I almost turned around, had my body not been frozen in place with all these realizations I probably would of sprinted in the other direction. I needed Yoko right now to explain EVERYTHING she had told those marines. But to my own surprise and internal screaming the door opened on its own accord, with a masculine noise of a stallion emitting a small snort of surprise, and as I looked up to the towering stallion I recognized that it was Private Lion, who cheerfully added in after his snort, "Ah Inquisitor Deargon, what a surprise to see you around here."

My unchanging face which was currently frozen stiff, as well as my lack of response encouraged him to add on, "Please, come inside, was actually about to try searching for you to get some questions answered."

I managed to break my own icy silence by the surprising overall friendliness in his tone, these were ponies after all, no need to overly worry. Calming down, I spoke up, "Ah, two minds of a feather, guess we can share each other's questions then and find answers."

I took two steps forward and found myself pushed ahead with great speed by a large hoof to the center of my back, meant as a pat on the back most likely but it nearly sent me stumbling as I entered the rather well decorated barracks.

I could see that they had taken their liberties with redecorating the place, having been given access from the treasure storage that I had funneled the dragon's horde into, they had given the barracks a rather religious feeling with the shrines and altars that had been rather well made to pictures of a far more skeletal version of Celestia. At first glance one could spot the signature rainbow hair of the Alicorn princess in the few pictures that had been emblazoned into metal, but then the skeleton attached to the mane, enhanced with cybernetic life support made her nearly unrecognizable.

The other members of Yoko's squad bid greetings in their own ways, some saying hello, others giving a simple nod before going back to maintaining weapons or armor. In case of Needles and Circuit, they were ignoring the rest altogether and in their own deep discussion. I bid them my own greetings in response before taking a spot in the center of the room, standing there as confidently as I could, clasping my hands behind my back and looking towards Private Lion but addressing them as a whole, "I heard you have some questions that needed answering, and that I was the one to give them, as well as ask my own."

I said it as if I had known in advance, which I sort of did, but with Private Lions remark earlier just reinforced it, as the space marines turned from their various tasks and turned their attention towards me, A somewhat eerie silence fell over the crowd, as my statement was left unresponsive aside from the stares.

...and more stares...

...and more...


This was starting to get uncomfortable.

Finally a voice spoke out, among the back row , "Inquistor Deargon, seems too much to be true, are you really him?" The voice had belonged to the Commissar, Cipher, "That you really took on a campaign against the worst that the universe had to offer? From Necrons, to Orks, Eldar, and Tyranids?"

All of those had various stories behind them, and suddenly I had the grim feeling that my initial fears had been correct. To remember the metal skeletal tombs of the endlessly reviving Necrons, the unending tides of Orks, the flesh walls of Tyranids, and the tricksters of the essentially jerk version of elves that were Eldar. How much of that had existed in Yoko's world? What should I say? Something evasive, but still true? I gave a seconds pause, cautiously responding, "My experience with the horrors may of been blown out of proportions Commissar, though if you've all been around as long as I've had, I bet you've had no end of others bringing things up to being bigger then they are. As Inquistor Deargon, my experiences with the menaces have been..."

I reviewed my thoughts on the endless campaigns of small plastic figures and paper cutouts of my youth.

"... an Educational..."

Then I remembered the companies constant updates on the factions, some which completely changed how certain factions worked, often causing the entirety of the lore and mechanics of the species to be messed up. As well as authors of various books playing favorites.

"...and horrifying experience. One that I do not wish to dwell on for too long."

As much as I enjoyed this series, it was also one that could drive someone to madness, Mass scale combat versions of the series existed, but I had preferred the individual series like Rogue Trader to keep things sane. It was nothing against the game, the lore was my favorite aspect of it, but the fighting aspect of the games it had felt clunky at best when dealing with armies at a time.

Judging from my expression the others took my face as having seen too many horrors to recount instead of being troubled over the sheer amount of material the universe had for rules. "What were the Tau like?" The question had come from Hawkens, who was gazing at me intently, with the intent of sizing me up by my decisions rather than appearances, "Were they worth protecting?"

"As a xenos species, they are undoubtedly one of the nicest ones to exist in my point of view." I said without hesitation, "Many disagree with the statement, calling them ignorant to the true darkness of the universe, but they are a species of progress not stagnation. With a proper guiding hand they could of become the greatest allies one could ever have." It was true, despite the flawed religious principle of the Greater Good that many people had an issue with, which pretty much made the Tau arrogant enough to disregard the individual for the sake of 'The Greater Good'. However the king of mankind had a similar philosophical idea it seemed with the obsession of mass sacrifice for the greater good, "After my efforts to save their colonies in the campaigns, I was given the honorary rank of Shas'El, and spent the remaining time among them until retirement from their forces."

The game master had been particularly stubborn with the xenophobia tendencies of Warhammer humans, and eventually that lead to the retirement of Inquisitor Deargon as he had left the party to try and convert Tau to the Imperium of Mankind. A futile effort since the lore wouldn't change, but still remembering that long drawn out section that the Game Master had only planned to be a short 'kill them all' scenario instead of a proper unification of one sector of the Inquisition suddenly committing pro-xenos heresy.

"Shas'el?" Lion asked out of very visible curiosity.

"Shas, refers to the caste of fire, where the Tau's primary military force is drawn from, while the El indicates rank within the cases, in this case, Shas'El refers to 'Knight' which is comparable to a Commander in a military, being one short of the highest rank in the fire caste; Shas'O which the change in the later letter refer to the highest ranks of command within the Tau empire."

"I see..." Said Lion, the rest of them began asking their own questions, and before I knew it, I had lost track of time.

Far later on, I finally found myself free of a near endless barrage of questions, many of which I had to spend a good deal of time trying to remember on the fly, Yoko had gone all out with these guys, and I was beginning to wonder what she left out of our childhood fun rather than what she had put in. From what I could tell only out of character conversations and a scarce few in character ones had been left out. All in all though it had helped ease the lingering tension between now and the last time we had met upon the other world. I even had a chance to throw a few jabs at Yoko to embarrass her to her squad later about her characters stories since she had told them oh so much about 'me' already. That had been a kicker, though I had to mention her in the context of her current role rather than the priest of technology she had been playing during those games. However most of the context was about the same and it offered some new views for them to ponder on.

The next morning however, I was awoken to a roar that shook the mountain.


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The Roar had awoken most of the inhabitants of the base I had made my home. Somehow I got the feeling I knew what it belonged to, and as I sat there in bed awake, my senses turned to the cameras that GLaDOS operated and found my suspicion to be correct.

As large as a several elephants stacked on top of one another, and red as blood. With scales that if legends foretold correctly, could turn back the sharpest of blades and prevent arrows from piercing its skin. Wings that could unleash hurricanes of force and claws that could tear armored men asunder. Fire rose from its mouth as it roared in anger, smoke pouring from its nose as yellow slitted eyes narrowed in absolute fury at the wall in front of the old cave entrance. It was a dragon, and unlike the rest of Equestria's inhabitants, it had retained its original shape in the show. Perhaps it had to do something with its sheer size. But I took one hard look at it, and the ruckus it was causing and thought, "Was this what I want to deal with today?"

The answer, without a cup of coffee and a good morning shower first was a resounding, 'No'.

It began to yell something as I drug on my clothes over the pajamas, something long winded and self egotistical, something about bringing fire and death upon the houses of those who dared touch its treasures. Something about being death incarnate and that it will make whoever took its treasure pay a thousandfold for every tiny piece they dared to touch. I ignored him. Focusing instead, putting on a simple mask on one of my puppets, who in turn appeared in the same grumpy disrupted sleep pose that I was in, looking about as annoyed as I was feeling. And as the dragon finished its speech and rose it claw to attack the aperture door, three things happened that the dragon did not expect.

First, as the dragons fist tried to meet the wall, the wall moved out of the way and smacked it in the face. Second, as it reeled in shock that a mere wall had dared to defy it, the floor dropped from under it, and the wall closed upon it like a giant trap door, launching the dragon downward. Third, as the dragon tried to open its wings and catch itself from its sudden fall, a green turtle about two and a half times its size pile drived it into the training center floor. The dragon confused, injured, and suddenly about two hundred feet underground lacked a witty reply as the next puppet took over.

"FOOLISH DRAGON WARRIOR.", yelled the voice of Aku into the dragons ear, causing the winded dragon to flinch backwards from the sheer volume as the shadow raised into the giant towering form of the master of shape-changing, "FOR A THOUSAND YEARS I HAVE SLUMBERED BENEATH THIS MOUN-"

"Uh, what?" A voice asked confused, and I looked down through a camera, a rather annoyed looking griffon was standing there next to Aku, and in my sleepy daze I considered what she must of just witnessed and giggled to myself.

Both the dragon in the room, Aku, and Bowser stared at Amber, who in turned stared at the mess.

Amber looked to the dragon, and then back at the two puppets and shook her crossbow at us like we were being ruffians, which I guess we were, "Hey I'm tryin' to train here!"

Tiredly I interjected with Aku, "One Moment. Then you can resume."

The Dragon tried to interject, "YOU THINK YOU CAN TRA-"

He was promptly socked in the gut by the king of koopas. Breathless the dragon wheezed out an incomprehensible finish. Which was oddly strange. I knew Bowser hit like a truck, but a truck wouldn't of done much to such a creature, was it the effect of...? I didn't care at the moment, all I knew was that the dragon was going to be causing more of a ruckus and that ruckus was stopping me from sleeping in.

I started up the coffee maker as the dragon continued to struggle, before ultimately being taken down and restrained by both puppets. It seemed dragon fire didn't stand a chance against a being who swam in lava as a giant, and another who literally had flaming eyebrows. But he didn't stop struggling, even as futile as it was. So I sighed, opened up a portal in the ground in front of him, and dived through.

"Listen." I told the dragon as I came in, "You're being a pest."

Telling a dragon it was a pest was probably a bad idea, but I'll roll with it. I was supposed to be a big ol' villain. That meant naturally of course defending claimed territory, even if that territory was once, if I suspected correctly this dragons. The dragon on its part tried to fry me alive with a gout of fire. I braced for impact, but the Rosary shield held against it. Mildly shocked at the sudden gout, both of us paused in surprise. No wonder, I had just taken a breathe of dragon fire to the face and survived unharmed. It readied itself for another gout when I leapt into action. I may of been lucky so far, but no need to test the limits. I jumped up a set of cards flying up my sleeves as they expanded and landed on its face, right past the steaming smoking nose and stared it in the eye while it stared back up at me. I recalled a few months back that Fluttershy had landed in much a similar spot in the show, and used the stare to subdue the dragon into leaving without its horde. Which had lead to my current spot.

I didn't have the stare though to subdue a dragon. Instead I did the next best thing, and drained it. Like a leech the dragons power was immense, but not so much in comparison to what had been drained previously. Both the Windigeo crystal and Sharp Opera had a greater reserve than this dragon individually. While a sharp yellow scaled ban formed on my arm within the white lines, it was far far thinner then the rest, almost like a string in comparison to a ribbon that had been the siren kings energy. However, funnily enough the dragon did change to a far greater degree than Sharp did. Wheras Sharp started to look lack luster, the dragon began to shrink, and continued to shrink as I took away every bit of magic he had tried to use to either bully or kill me into submission. Soon, he reached the size of Spike, and looked a lot like him, only with more triangular spines and intact, if albeit useless wings.

The now child-fied dragon didn't faint, or become scared, instead it became an angry ball of fangs about as deadly as a grumpy old housecat, if housecats could spew curse words. Seeing as the dragon was now suicidally mad, I did what any reasonable human being when faced with a raging lizard-man would do.

I dumped him into the badlands.

I was reasonably sure that the badlands were somewhat close to the dragonlands. If only by sheer geographical coincidence. Nor had I ever been to either lands before then, but it was a reasonable enough place to dump the unruly dragon. Especially one that likely had a grudge against ponies for his forced retreat earlier in the year. Guess he came back for his treasure before he took that hundred year nap, but on well not my problem anymore.

"Teach them to mess with my sleep and coffee." I grumbled aloud as the puppets went back to their stations.

Amber just stared at this all in mild confusion, and after a few moments of walking away she asked, "Coffee? Mind if I get a drink?"

"As long as you don't mind going by portal. I still can't get much sleep with the sirens by the door." I grumbled, "Wish they'd lay off already."

"You could tell them to scram boss." Amber replied to be met with a haggard glare.

"Talking to women who want to interrupt you every five seconds with praise and high glory about taking care of a tyrant is rather difficult Amber. Especially when their species are known for magic through sound." I looked her in the eye, "Especially if you don't have much experience turning down women. Its like an introverts worst nightmare."

Amber chuckled, "Right, want me to handle them then boss?"

"After coffee." I grumbled, "Stinkin' dragons. I just managed to get some sleep too."

"To the coffee machine boss." Amber nudged me on, and I reluctantly opened the portal back to my room again. Traveling through it, I pointedly ignored my bed before it dragged me back to dreamland and went towards the coffee machine that I had left out before dealing with the dragon.

Two mugs and several chugs of heavily creamed delightful energy caffeine later, and I was feeling more like myself to finally realize, "Wait..."

"Yeah boss?"

"Did I just take down a dragon?"

"Yes boss."


Amber rolled her eyes, "Well technically your minions did the hard work, you sorta finished it off, so yeah boss you kinda did."

I paused, took another sip of coffee and almost did a spit take before stopping myself and taking a deep swallow before continuing, "I am... to say the least... very surprised with this."

Just how much magic did I have to cow a dragon like that? I hadn't really used my magic proper since the fight with Sharp Opera, let alone considered it. Meeting Yoko I hadn't noticed the effect because of the chaos involved in Orks and Space Marines fighting each other with a sun consuming the planet rapidly. How much did the dragons add to it? Questions I had no answer to. The Ork god was no longer a friend, so I couldn't ask him for help clarifying the matter, nor did I know enough about magic to be able to get a gauge. I was snapped out of my pondering silence as Amber asked me question.

"So Boss, what are you going to do now?" The griffon was looking quizzically at my pondering expression, and I took a moment to consider.

"Anything we can do to mess with Shining Armor?" I asked.

"If I recall today he is doing his duties with the royal guard, so short of assaulting the princesses castle, no." Amber replied, taking another drink of her mug of coffee.

"Any Griffon artifacts that need recovery still?" I asked, and again Amber shook her head in negative.

"Boss you got the largest museum of magical artifacts in this country already, any more is just overkill. You could turn them over to my homeland, but currently that is amidst civil strife until a new leader is crowned. Besides most folk there are a bit..." she shook her hand in a chancy gesture, "rude."

"There must be something to do..." I mulled over it. Major events notwithstanding, I didn't want to mess with too many episodes continuity, lest it become unraveled and the events more unclear. Messing with the Mane six perhaps? I checked in, and low and behold they were amidst the mysterious Mare do Well as a masked vigilante of a changing race raced around town in probably the poorest conceived notion to curb Rainbow Dash's ego that I could think of. Out showboating a showboat to get her to not showboat? Silly and stupid. Immediately I wanted to change the course of events.

Resisting the urge was extremely difficult. There was an opportunity here, one that could turn Rainbow Dash against her friends for using the act of Mare do Well to try and teach her a lesson by betraying the trust of the element of loyalty. One could easily make this a lesson on how not to treat your friends. The lesson was there, and it was mouth watering as Rainbow dash was trumped by Mare do Well again and again. Surely she noticed as the race of Mare do well changed, from that of an earth pony to both a unicorn and a pegasus on different encounters. I could turn the heroic Rainbow dash into a spiteful villain by preying upon this moment of weakness to convince her of the truth and shatter the Element bearers unity.

I turned myself from those thoughts, Discord still needed to be freed. As tempting as it is to disrupt the episode with a silver tongue and a bit of luring. But those thoughts came back again, what if I puposely mislead rainbow dash into learning the stories of the tragic villains through this? To make her second guess villains and put Mare do Well into a different less morally harmful light. Now that, was an idea worth acting on.

"Amber, I'd ask you to let everyone know to stay clear of the bottom floors. I'm going to be having an unexpected guest over soon, and I need the room for a bit of mayhem."

"Whatever you say boss, I'm going to keep training then. Make sure to say hello to Trixie and Cass sometime today."

Ideas sprang as I put my plan into action, beginning a long collection of things I'd need to put it into action as well as watching the rest of the Mane six studiously as well. This should go according to plan. Heh.

The (Not so) Mysterious Mare do Well

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It took a few hours for events to progress down to the point where I could interfere. With it, I had captured a lot of footage just watching the mane six act. Hiding their identities behind the costumes that Rarity gave them, useful footage in fact. For all their effort Mare Do Well was about on the Superman level of hiding their secret identity, meaning changing in areas completely open to the casual passing observation and barely containing their mirth at their plans. Because if what I was going to do was going to happen how I wanted, I'd need to wait until just the right moment. Luckily towards the breaking point of mid afternoon Rainbow Dash had taken to her thundercloud and was moping to herself.

"All anypony talks about is Mare Do Well this and Mare Do Well that!"

She flipped around on her cloud to her back and back onto her stomach with restlessness, "What about me? How could everypony forget about me so easily?"

Standing up in her cloud she examined herself, "I mean... have I changed? Same sleek body. Same flowing mane. Same spectacular hooves. Nope, I'm still awesome. They're wrong." She paused and began to mope again as she sighed, " But... then... why am I all alone? I hate being all alone."

As if on queue, Scootaloo had been approaching the storm cloud for quite a while, and very oblivious to her former idols midlife crisis, she yelled out, "Hey, Rainbow Dash!"

"I knew it!" Rainbow was elated as she flew down to meet scootaloo, wrapping her old 'number 1 fan' in a minor headlock to ruffle her mane, "No need to apologize, squirt. Anypony could make that mistake."

Scootaloo for the most part looked confused, her arms pushing against Rainbows hold, "Mistake what mistake?" I mirrored the words silently from my prepared position as I watched them. I knew this song and dance, it was more infamous as one of the worse episodes of the show.

Rainbows look of elation had turned to wary suspicion, and I had the feeling she knew what was about to happen as much as I did, "Wait a minute. Why are you here?"

Scootaloos look of innocence was priceless, "To invite you to join us! We're heading off to the thank you parade for Ponyville's greatest hero, Mare Do Well."

For being Rainbows number one fan, she was sure clueless to what was a sore spot to rainbow dash, she had cluelessly hit her in the third worst possible way. The only way Scootaloo could of possibly hit her worse would of been telling her she would never be a wonderbolt or bullying Fluttershy in front of her somehow. Rainbow was taken aback. Clearly betrayal was what Rainbow was feeling. But Scootaloo was uncharacteristically misreading it like an idiot.

Rainbows voice cracked as she responded in an attempt not to show weakness, like a tsundere put under pressure, " No! No way! Can't you see I-I wanna be alone? I love being alone."

As bright as a broken brick that fell from the stone wall into a sewer system, Scootaloo responded with like zero consideration of what Rainbow Dash was acting, "Oh, okay. See you later then." and left.

I let out an angry sigh and face-palmed briefly as she jogged away, while Rainbow was busy muttering to herself in anger. I began to act, opening a portal and appearing behind Rainbow Dash about five meters or so. To her credit, despite being distraught and distracted with petty scheming, she was alert. The noise of my feet hitting the ground was all that was needed to alert her to my presence.

"Puppet Master!" She turned to face me, angry tears in her eyes, "Oh that's rich, I bet you're here to tell me you're behind Mare Do Well!"

She took a hostile stance, as if ready to kickbox me into oblivion. I raised my hand in a calming gesture, "Calm yourself Rainbow Dash, I am not her. I do tragic villains, not ponies pretending to be heroes."

"And why should I believe you?" Rainbow asked, bringing her stance backwards, and getting ready to charge.

I stood there without bringing up resistance, "Because I know who and why they are. If you're willing to listen, I can reveal to you just who, or rather the group of who that they are." This caught Rainbow off guard as it wasn't what she had expected, she probably had expected me to do the cheesy thin and go 'yesss it was me behind your torment all along' but I hadn't. I caught the hesitation in her stance and continued, "Would you please walk with me? I'd like to talk to you about this fake hero in a less..." I gave a pointed look to her stance from bottom to top, "Violent manner."

I gestured at her to follow me as I began to walk away before giving her a response time, she was considering it I could see, and was on the fence about it. "I will even Pinky promise if you want that you will not be harmed as long as you do no harm in turn if you follow. As well as in the end of the discussion you're free to consider your options and leave without any interruptions should that be your choice."

At the end of my speech Rainbow tilted her head, and said, "Then Pinky promise it, now." already her stance was becoming more relaxed, and I did so.

"Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye." I repeated the phrase, and beckoned her to follow.

She followed me, for about five minutes until we entered the brief edge of the forest to the everfree and about a minute or two of walking later to the door I had prepared for just this scenario. Behind the scenes, the door frame covered the portal entryway making it seem as if the stairs it lead downward too were a natural extension of the ground there. Only a narrow pin thin gap around the back of the frame gave any indication that the portal was even there, and as we passed by it, Rainbow was feeling a bit more uncomfortable. "So this is where you've been living this entire time? A dungeon lair right at the edge of town?"

"Something like that," I motioned her to keep following me, and we entered a side room at the bottom of the stairs. Above her, unbeknownst to Rainbow Dash, the portal shut as to prevent unwanted intruders. I gave her a nod as I introduced her to a dining room, one side cleared out for a projector screen while a few chairs sat around a table, a tray of snacks I had gathered of fruits and vegetables that both humans and equines could eat, "Feel free to sit down and refresh yourself on the snacks, I will show you the proof shortly."

"You better buster, I was going to chase down Mare Do Well at her own celebration!"

I snapped my fingers, for dramatic emphasis, as a small spark ran from the gloves and hit the wall, fizzling out harmlessly. A bit of misdirection as the screen lit up from the projector opposite. An old timey 5 appeared on the screen and began to count down as Rainbow looked at it in interest, "What is that?"

"Its a projector, it takes captured footage and replays it on a screen of light to a wall. Unlike magic, you can't easily manipulate a film without it looking clearly out of place." It was true to an extent, I was a prop maker, not a life-like CGI specialist. Computer programming wasn't my specialty, however, editing film to contain only select bits of truth or conversation to show the worst of the worst was an old practice that dated all the way to even before newspapers.

The screen first showed the various instances of Mare Do Well leaving after having beaten Rainbow Dash at being a hero, it followed her to where Rainbow had failed to chase. All the way back to Rarity's botique, where in the first instance, where rainbow had failed to save a carriage running itself towards a cliff was revealed the first identity. Applejack pulled off her hood and Rainbow's jaw dropped several inches in shock. She was speaking to Rarity and the zoom increased to them talking.

"So how did it go darling?" Rarity asked, "No rips or tears?"

"No Rarity, your costume held up pretty well considerin' what it has just been through." Applejack said with a grimace of annoyance, "I'm more concerned about Rainbow Dash."

"Oh, what happened out there?" Rarity had continued to ask, as she poured over Applejacks costume of Mare Do Well.

"No she was being a damned fool, letting her ego outpace her actual ability and bit off a bit more than she could chew with a runaway carriage full of ponies. Good thing you made this costume Rarity, maybe perhaps she'll learn there are people stronger than her." I cut away from the rest of the conversation as a momentary blackness filled the screen. In truth there had been a bit of sentiment afterwards of concern for Rainbow after the tumble, but that wasn't the point of this.

"Applejack is Mare Do Well?!" Rainbows voice was incredulous, "That doesn't make any sense, Applejack can't fly, or cast magic!"

"That isn't all of it, there's more." I said plainly as the next clip began to play. The building disaster where Pinkie had saved the lives of workers and fled off with her Pinkie sense being used to elude escape, luckily I had already staked out Rarity as Pinkie returned to happily take off the costume with Twilight nearby as well this time, "Hi Rarity! Hi Twilight!"

"Oh dear, we could hear that crash from here, is everypony alright?" Rarity asked, "No one was hurt right?"

"Yep! My pinkie sense was super duper useful at avoiding all the falling bits of building. Man those workers should be fired with how shoddy the construction on that thing was! Rainbow is alright too, if albeit a bit worse for wear, glad she hit the building on accident and revealed just how bad it was!"

"Rainbow... Crashed?" Twilight asked, and I mentally cringed at the unintentional use of Rainbows old nickname.

"Well..." Pinkie said, "She was kinda being super distracted and careless while flyinggggg."

I cut it short, as Pinkie would of gone on to say that 'wow that would be bad taken out of context'. Rainbows jaw was about at its limit, and quietly I shut it for her with a finger, causing her to snap out of it, and recoil a bit. I noted as Rainbow yelled that her fur had been really really soft under that chin, what sort of shampoo or bodywash did she use for that? Rainbows shout was, "Seriously, Pinkie pie?!"

I ignored her and played the next clip. The dam incident, and almost Rainbow caught on, "Twilight." She said before the scene could fully go around, "Rarity doesn't have the magic for it, and Twilight already was with Pinkie Pie. Let me guess, she said I was being, 'uncouth and stuipd for not realizing my hoof wouldn't stop the leak in the dam'." She snorted the voice in a pretty bad impression of Twilight. I looked at her with mild surprise, though my face didn't show it, "Spot on the mark Rainbow."

I fast forwarded with a flick, skipping the dialog, in truth she had said worse as Twilight had said pretty much a much nicer version of what Rainbow had, and skipped to the last. The last one made Rainbow Dash bury her hooves in her face, Fluttershy had flown past as Rainbow Dash thought she still had a leg up. The peagsus bit reveal Dash had no clue until she saw Fluttershy's shy face. At that point I had to pause as Rainbow hurled the table at the wall. "This has to be a lie! Fluttershy would never betray me."

"Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye its true." I repeated. No promises broken, as this was the truth, albeit the partial truth just as Spike had wrote, "She's... Good." when Rainbow had said "Shes not even that good!" since I was showing Rainbow Select clips instead of entire conversations, "Your friends couldn't take your ego or the amount of attention you were getting from other ponies. So they had Rarity stitch them up some costumes, and they decided to out hero the hero and throw your attention away from you. As punishment."

"Why are you showing me this?" Rainbow asked a hint of her firey spirit and a fair amount of loyalty still remained.

"Because betrayal is sadly a common cause among my flock." I gestured to her, "My so called minions have stories that made them who they are today. Some are worse than others, and not all were betrayed but beset by other tragedies, but even ponies who represent the biggest elements of friendship aren't immune to it. Just because you're loyal, doesn't mean anyone else is."

"What, what could you possibly know about... This!" Rainbows words were scattered, she was never the best at expressing her thoughts.

So I turned off the image as I changed some of my attention to what Cassette was doing. She was in the training room, getting her magical reserves up by partaking in physical training with her augments. "What do you know of the Wonderbolt Cassette?"

"You mean Rewind?" Rainbow asked, almost immediately, "Didn't she retire, like, years ago due to injury?"

"She lost a leg and then as a result your idols threw her out of the Wonderbolts, where she proceeded to lose her other limbs in short order. She got zero support from her team, nor government, and when I found her she was living in an alleyway." I took a mental picture and put it to the screen, "I took her under my wing. If you want to see her in her new state, feel free to come with me." I stood and walked through the door, "Or you can see yourself out, your choice."

"There's no way." Rainbow said, "A Wonderbolt is like, Equestria's elite flying force. They'd get an honorable discharge and a good retirement sum-"

The image of Cassette now, was shown on screen, "I gave her a home, and new limbs of which she now trains daily to use properly. She became one of us, in a way. A bit of street trash given power and a chance to fight back against the bleak reality of this world. Desperate circumstances had her accept my help of all people."

I left the feed going as Rainbow watched, and then she shook her head, "I don't care about this tragic villain junk. I just want to know why you're showing this to me."

"Because Rainbow, you need a new..." I paused and grinned back to her, back still to the door, "With friends like these..."

The screen flashed changing to the past they were in the room where Rainbow was trying to mope while her friends talked about Mare Do Well.

Applejack had said, the angel of the camera putting her into a darker light as a side clip of her heroics played in the corner of the screen, "Gotta hand it to the girl, that Mare Do Well sure can pull off some pretty heroic feats."

Twilight Sparkle Joined in, "I must say, I was impressed by that spell she used to fix the dam. Seems like something like that would take quite a bit of study."

Fluttershy, despite not contributing much, added, "She really cares about everypony's safety."

Rarity and her self praise, "Have you seen her costume? It is to die for! If you ask me she's a hero of fashion!"

"And she's modest and humble. She lets her actions speak for themselves. Gotta admire that." Applejack chimed in, as if putting Rainbow down on purpose while proving herself the opposite of modest and humble.

Last of all, Spike with the pen writing down words while speaking them aloud, "She's... great!"

Rainbow Dash quietly stood up after a few moments. A look of defiance was muddied by her tears as she wiped them away, I told her calmly, "If you wish to live in a place that isn't going to try to break you down and change you by force. I offer that haven. If you wish to confirm the identity of Mare Do Well yourself, they are still celebrating her in the parade. I'd recommend action before alerting them to words. I will be watching, and if you choose to join me then, simply say, 'I accept your invitation' and I'll be there to offer my support."

Rainbow Dash stared at me silently as I began to walk away. She stared back at the screen, paused on a dramatic shadow of each of her friends faces. Each paused on a moment of self praise at Rainbows expense. She. Was. Livid.

The Aftermath of a Lesson Too Far

View Online

"Wheres Rainbow? You'd think she'd of tried to unmask Mare Do Well by now..." Rarity asked, to Twilight, who shrugged as well.

"Maybe she's too busy moping? I meant we sent Scootaloo to go invite her... did Scootaloo get distracted with crusading for her cutiemark?"

"No, Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom are too busy with chores last I checked with Applejack for such an... activity." Rarity didn't approve of the fillies rushing headlong into some... no... most of the time dangerous activities unsupervised, but understood the tension of her little sister desiring their cutie-marks. But if she had made a mess attempting (if that could be said to be even somewhat accurate of a word to describe it) to cook again, then she was going to have some stern words on how not to set water on fire... again. She still didn't get how one burnt water. Water is supposed to stop fire from burning!

"I don't know..." Pinkie said, looking concerned towards her other friends, "But my knee is getting pinchy and I feel a shudder coming on, that means something of both a Doozy and something scary is about to happen."

"Something scary? Like what?" Twilight asked, jinxing herself as they watched the parade in honor of Mare Do Well.

It came like lightning, but in a rainbow of an afterimage. One second Appleack was standing as Mare Do Well upon the top of a pyramidal parade float. The next second she was gone, replaced by a line of rainbow coming from the Everfree Forest, and straight across town.

"Was that Rainbow Dash?" Rarity asked the question hanging in the air. Only one pony in all of Equestria had such a contrail.

"I think this may of gone a little too far." Fluttershy quietly added in before the group broke off into a gallop as the rest of the ponies stood confused to what had just occurred.

They ran after the contrail but as it began to fade away, they continued to ran, spreading out to try and find where they had went. It was adorable really, without a bit of a push here and there they'd never of made it. A few formed dead ends was all that was needed, no one questioned an additional wall or three amidst the panic and searching. Fluttershy didn't even try to fly. The best part is, none of them took off their costumes except for Rarity, who hadn't been wearing one.

Unlike the show, where Rainbow had announced her presence before trying to take off the mask, leading to a goose chase that lead ultimately to the horrible episode ending, I had meddled. Brought an unexpected element to try to fix it. Rainbow wasn't out to get revenge on her wounded ego. She was out for the truth, and vengeance if what I had said was truth.

Rainbow and Applejack for the most part had flown across town in the blink of an eye, faster than the farmer pony could ever anticipate Dash ever moving while carrying somepony. She barely had time to process that she had left the stand of uncomfortable waving before she found herself slammed up against both ground and tree at the edge of her farm. The hat had fallen off within the fist second of sudden acceleration, and as Dash pulled away the Mask, she stepped back in shock.

"So the Puppet master was telling the truth? Everypony else is Mare Do Well?" Her expression was one of anger, as her mane covered the front of her eyes, addressing the mare in front of her, "Applejack, Rarity, Pinkie, Twilight, and even Fluttershy?"

Applejack was recovering from her daze, to be fair flying across town in the span of less than ten seconds would of normally of resulted in a lot worse but she was very tough, though not wise with her choice of words, "Now Dash, listen here-"

"No! I'm not going to listen to you now, that's what you should of done in the first place instead of trying to do..." she gestured at the costume, "All this!"

"Rainbow Dash!" Twilights voice interjected as the rest of the Mane Six appeared from the edge of town running full tilt towards them to catch up.

"Oh great, now the lecture crew is coming to tell me I'm in the wrong, huh?" Rainbow glared as Applejack was about to say something along the lines of 'yep'.

Applejack tried to continue anyway, "Now Dash, you were-"

"Were what? Deserved to be thrown into obscurity because you didn't want me to be a hero? That my ego was getting out of control? Well newsflash Applejack you're all just as guilty. Remember what you said?" Dash actually gave a pretty good Applejack impression as she said, "She's so modest and humble."

Applejack looked down in embarrassment, and Dash sneered, "Yeah that's what I thought hypocrite."

"Dash! Wait we can explain!" Twilight yelled as they approached.

"No!" Dash's stubbornness was showing through full speed, "You had plenty of time to talk to me about what I did, what sort of friend stabs their friend in the back and rip her out of the public eye just because she was happy with having a few fans!?"

"Now Dash that isn't true at-" Rarity started but was interrupted.

"My Ego? What about yours. as she quoted word for word their self praises, and they were stunned. This had backfired dramatically from what they had planned. In stunned silence even Twilight was trying to formulate a response. Twilight was trying to work out how to apologize but Dash gave her no chance.

"You know what, if you want to play at being a hero who crushes others, fine so be it." She looked to the sky, and shouted out, "Puppet Master, I accept your Invitation!"

That was the reckless Rainbow Dash I knew, the reactive girl of loyalty who just had hers betrayed to the core. I smiled as I moved into action, a ring of shadowy flames appearing around Dash, keeping the rest of the mane six apart from their comrade. "Rainbow!" several of them cried out, as I appeared.

Giving a formal half-bow I presented a hand to her, "Glad to see you made up your mind Miss Dash."

Applejack was getting up and readying herself, muscles tensing for action, "Well that explains a bit..."

Dash ignored them, and took the hand, for a flat surface her grip was killer, "Just get me out of here P.M."

"Gladly." I said, in a way I had won, not as I had completely expected. In all honesty I had hoped the fight would of dragged on so that the rest of the Mane Six would of learned a lesson and of made up. But this worked too. Now that I thought of it, Starswirls journal probably had a method of de-petrifying discord without the elements of harmony. But it was too late to reconsider now.

"Now hold on a minute!" Applejack yelled, as she braced and jumped through the shadowy flickers of false flame. Oh by goddess, she was trying to punch me.

Instinct took over, as a hero dressed farmer ponies hoof tried to reach me for a solid slug. I flicked a card. Applejack found herself entering a flat surface, and spat out soon after on the other side with the rest of the Mane Six. I didn't need Applejack as a hostage. She would hardly learn anything if I did take her. Rainbow gave her friends a solid glare as Twilights horn began to activate, but I left before a spell could be cast at me.

The portal dropped us and the shadow coated over us like a dome obscuring our passage as we left and reappeared at the same door. I wasn't ready to completely trust Dash's change of alliance. Too many false heel turns lead to moles in stories after all. Her being the element of loyalty didn't help. Though hilariously most of the Elements of harmony carried an excess of one trait of friendship and almost minimal amount of the rest of them. Though I still had no idea how 'magic' was an element of friendship. I guess it had something to do with the reforming spells, mind control, forcibly changing others habits and the like so that different species wouldn't hunt or harm the herbivorous equines but that was a matter for another time. A room was building itself rather rapidly as I and the rainbow colored athlete walked down a stainless steel hallway.

"Would you like me to move your home down here Rainbow?" I asked her midway through the hallway, she had been quiet the entire time and the question was more meant as an icebreaker.

Rainbow started, broken out of her quiet thinking, "Wha-? You can do that?"

"Yeah, its the cloud house right?" as I brought up a screen and focused a camera on it. The backview of her home seen on the screen, "I imagine you'd like to keep your possessions without being bothered by the others." I had found the location after several weeks of surveying the mane six in their daily activities between episodes. It was hard to track the Rainbow mare as she took a different route each day, but it was nestled in the sky firmly between both the town of Cloudsdale and Ponyville.

"Well as long as you don't set up anything in my house then. That'd be creepy." Rainbow replied, "Here I was thinkin' you were going to throw me into some super badass barracks full of elite soldiers, or villains, or something else as werid."

I definitely wasn't going to throw her into the Space Marine barracks. I was pretty sure that would cause a lot more problems than I could ever count with putting the fiery athlete in with zealous space-super-soldiers. I shook my head, "I'm not that barbaric, everypony can have their own private quarters in my hidden fortress should they ask."

I would of given the marines their own privacy but they had seemed far more comfortable sharing a living space. My mind was undetered as I brought forth two puppets to employ a larger mobile portal screen to be lifted and take the house out of the area. As the portal began to rise. A pink and yellow form in the distance was flying towards the puppets, but it was far too slow as the puppets finished their work, the portal shut behind them, and the large panel dropped. With no more magic to support it, it shattered like fragile pottery upon hitting the ground. Another separate camera focused on the flying figure as it landed next to the broken wall. It had been Fluttershy, who looked increasingly worried. She said something but it was too far away to make out the words, and flew away back towards Ponyville. Hmm, had she had a few more minutes she might of undermined my security.

I opened the door leading to her home, Showing Rainbow Dash the house in its entirety, and her jaw dropped, "No way, just how strong did you get?"

"Eh, so so." I said, shaking my hand in the similar gesture, "I've been working primarily on my power base as of late."

"Power base? What are you some sort of dark-pone Hoof-lord?" Rainbow asked and I deadpanned.

Dark-pone Hoof-lord? She couldn't possibly mean... "Are you talking about the folk with the flashy light swords and incredible powers?"

"Yeah!" Rainbow Said, "You remind me of the spin off comics about the dark-pone apprentice who ran off and spent his entire career becoming a super-hoof-lord by recruiting and growing a base of operations to extend his power."

Ughhhh she was referencing star wars. These puns were unforgivable even by my standards. I hated myself as I asked the question nagging on my mind, "Hey, remind me what were the good guy side called again?"

"Oh you mean the Neigh-di?" Rainbow asked, "Haven't you read any of the comics?"

"I know the comics," I said, it was a partial truth after all, "Just been a while." Internally, I was screaming. I was pretty sure one of the blank puppets nearby was actually silently screaming for me but that was moot point. I wanted a good conk of self inflicted memory loss for the horse puns they had turned a memorable story into. The Mr.Freeze in me grinned at the self typed puns, but the rest of me withered in agony. Starwars as ponies. That didn't sound right at all. Wordlessly I brought a prop from my room with a portal and activated it.

"Rainbow," I said dramatically, bringing the Red lightsaber to bear in a dramatic pose, the tip of it sticking into the ceiling on accident.

"No, Impossible!" Rainbow snorted, laughing.

"No, I am your fatherrrrrrr!" I said dramatically and shut off the lightsaber, tossing it back through the prop portal.

"Wow, you're a bigger egghead nerd than Spike!" She was laughing. It was good to break her out of the anger cloud. Though she was genuinely curious, "So you have a Darth Hay light-saber that works? That's so cool."

My enthusiasm plummeted again from the horse puns. Darth Hay? Seriously? "Been saving it for a special occasion," i replied after a second of recollection of my facade, "Not as strong as the real thing, but too strong for every day use."

It was that moment that Cass had begun to pass by us, wearing a jogging outfit, her cybernetics on prominent display as she was wearing a pitch black tanktop with some white jogging shorts. Around the back of her neck she was holding a towel by the ends with both hands as she walked at a half trots pace, her wings reflectively open to brush either side of the corridor, which she shut as she spotted us and picked up pace to come to a halt in front of us, "Oh hey, whos the new girl?"

She peered around me as Rainbow froze, tooking in the form of Cassette as Cassette looked her over, "Lets see... Rainbow mane, blue fur, lightning rainbow storm cloud for a cutiemark..." She clapped her hooves once, "Oh! You're Rainbow Dash right?"

"You know my name?" Rainbow seemed a bit stunned.

"Yeah, before I left the corps Spitfire was talking about your efforts during the Summer Sun celebration two years ago when the face on the moon vanished. What're you doing here?"

"Cassette, she will be living with us for a while. Try to play nice, okay?"

She rolled her eyes, "Only if you play nice yourself Mister."

Rainbow looked between my casual conversation with the former Wonderbolt as if I had been talking like a cowpony to royalty. Her eyes bugged out a little bit, "You're Flight Rewind?!"

"Wow, there's a name I haven't heard in a while." Cassette took an awkward moment to fidget and laugh to herself, "Yeah, its me, just don't ask how I got that name in the first place."

"Rainbows a bit of a fan of the Wonderbolts." I clarified for her sake and Rainbow looked as if I had slapped her.

"A BIT?" she glared at me, "I'm like the number one fan of the Wonderbolts!"

Cassette tried to do a placating gesture to Rainbow and spoke back to her, "Were really not that great-" she started but was interrupted by Rainbow spewing a question at her.

"What are the wonderbolts like?" Seeing as this conversation was going to be a while, I directed the mares to a break room, and brought out some more snacks for the two of them as they continued on their conversation uninterrupted.

"Well." Cassette said, "Its run a bit more like a boot camp than a cheerleading team that it is meant to be. We're stunt fliers who are honorary military. We aren't trained for use of weapons, or even wear armor outside of our flight suits. One could argue this makes us aerial dog fighters but very little combat training is actually present aside from the occasional evasive maneuver."

She took a sip of water that I offered her and muttered her thanks before continuing, "As for how we treat each other..." She sighed, "Its a lot of tough love, and if you're even minorly injured they'll immediately try to replace you with a promising new recruit. That's how I lost my job to Soarin of all ponies. The guy could barely fly out of the way of obstacles in time and overshot the ceiling height for pegasus ponies all the time back then, but now hes second in command of the Wonderbolts thanks to Spitfire playing favorites."

Rainbow looked confused, as Cassette also said, "We get most of our names from various mistakes which we're forced to live with. Often time a pun of our original names. Spitfire got hers from accidently putting her tail on fire while flying through a storm system. Soarin overshot, and I well. I'd rather not say."

She looked to Rainbow Dash, "If I had to guess, first screw up you would ever make, and they'd call you something dumb like 'Rainbow Crash' or something like that to poke fun at the Dash in your name." Rainbow frowned as she found that nickname her bullies used again pinned to her.

"That or be called that for the Sonic Rainboom you pulled off during the Cloudsdale Flight competition, good job catching my former friends by the way." She commented, "Heard about it on a newspaper a bit after it happened, glad they weren't seriously hurt."

"Why'd you quit?" Rainbow asked, looking as if she had one of her lifelong dreams in jeopardy, "You were in your prime!"

"I didn't quit, if you were listening at all to what I was saying." Cassette sighed, "They quit on me, lost a leg in a flying accident, I could still fly perfectly fine, but recovering from the trauma apparently made me miss a single show, and as a result Soarin got my spot." She looked to Rainbow, "If you haven't guessed already, lose your spot in the Wonderbolts, and you're no longer a Wonderbolt. I got honorably discharged, and given a retirement stripend each week which is still paying off my hospital bill, until I lost another three limbs on a separate accident. In a few more months I might've started to receive the funds to live off of once both bills had been paid, but by then I'd likely be dead if it wasn't for the kind Mister in the room with us providing me a place to stay as well as a chance of hope." She rolled her cybernetic arms back to lean on the couch. Putting her lower hooves up on the table as she took a bite from a hay and sunflower sandwich.

"Wait, aren't you supposed to be evil?" she pointed at me, "Why do all this, let alone how?"

At the first question I had Aku lean into the room, "Yes." he said dramatically and slowly, "He is terr-ibbbbb-lyyyy eeeevil and here his word is law." Aku gestured for emphasis with each word as Rainbow stared at him. Aku stared back, and they locked gazes as Aku very slowly began to lean back out of the room. The sound of creaking wood following the leaving of the master shapeshifter of evil.

"To answer the other questions," I said after Rainbows attention refixed to me, Cassette hadn't even been bugged in the slighest and continued eating her sandwich as I continued, "I am sympathetic to a bit of tragedy. Much the same reason you're here now Rainbow. As for the other question." I paused to consider telling her, and then I shrugged mentally as I said, "As for how... I craft good."

It was far easier to explain, left enough said not to confuse her, as well as kept certain secrets hidden from her. Rainbow tried to pry for more, but Cassette interrupted her, "Craft good is a bit of an understatement, you told me the lore of dozens of technological advances to build these, you're like some sort of space-wizard-engineer-magic-" she paused momentarily realizing she couldn't just tack on the word pony to the end of it since I was clearly not one, "Guy."

I for one was amused, and replied to Cassettes praise with, "The horse is strong with this one."

Rainbow facehoofed that time, hah! Two can play the horse pun game universe! I heard Rainbow mutter, "Great, Spike would of just loved this guy." As Cass let out a snort of laughter.

The conversation continued for a while after that, as Rainbow all but interrogated Cass on the life of a Wonderbolt, and several hours later, the conversation would finally lull long enough for me to ask Cass, "Sorry to interrupt but its about time for the usual check up on your augments Cass, I'll be excusing myself to get the tools ready for when you arrive."

"Ah thanks P.M. !" Cass replied, "Its been a fun chat, albiet a onesided one, but yeah I'll be up there in a bit, have fun!"

I playfully rolled my eyes, "You two as well. Rainbow, feel free to take a look everywhere but the top and bottom layers of this facility. Top layer is a bit of a health hazard and bottom is a bit..." I considered the eternal steamy and molten hell-scape that had once been the Sirens primary home, "of a deathtrap right now." The top wasn't technically a lie, I just didn't want her finding out where the base was, and the sentry turrets were a bit of a health hazard. The elevator shaft wouldn't work without my thoughts to guide GLaDOS anyway, and I had planned it in such a way that the surface would be inaccessible without using or ramming through the elevators anyway. I'd handle Introducing Rainbow to the rest of the people living here at a later portion of the day, but for now I felt like being alone to work for a little bit.


View Online

Elsewhere at the local tavern promptly titled, The Tipsy Pony, a pair of stalwart figures stood in robes at a bar table, as they chatted amongst themselves looking for a few more party members. A stalwart young dragon, dressed in full plate armor that was comically too big for himself, A tower shield and greatsword far too large for him on his back revealing his chosen profession. Alongside him a skinny roguishly dressed figure in fake-leather armor armed with a variety of small knives sat. The young stallion had learned his lesson about licking strange liquids off random objects, and had chosen a drink with a straw to drink from. Juice that had the same potency upon the equine form as a strong whiskey. The dragon chose to idly eat a gemstone as they sat. Observing passively the other party goers in the room as the general discussion about Mare Do Well went on.

"How about her?" asked the smaller one as he gestured to a drunken mare, so tipsy that she could barely sit without slouching all over her table, however when someone tried to push her away, they ended up with a concussion.

"Drunken master, we don't need a monk." as the dragon shook his head in a negative response at the drunken Berry Punch.

"Her?" the smaller pony gestured to a nearby cyan unicorn who was poring over documents of... Hands?

"Maybe but she seems more like the studious type than the adventurous." the dragon shook his head again in a negative.

"How about-" He stopped what he was saying and shook his own head in a negative as he saw the pink party pony dancing atop a table, four tankards of cider in her hooves, "No, she's too...." he failed to find a better word, "Exciting."

"Let me remind you what we're looking for." The dragon said sternly, "Either a pony with high flight combat experience and a pony with a cutie-mark revolved around magic to counter the evil arch-mage atop the mountain peak."

"Right..." the pony paused, "Why do you think they'd be in a tavern again?"

"All adventurers looking for adventure hang out in taverns!" the dragon replied with anger, thumping his clawed fist against the table, eliciting a short glare from the barkeep and the dragon gave a short apology before continuing, "Though it seems none are currently at this one..."

"Shouldn't we be like, seeking an audience with royalty if we want either of those?" asked the rogue, "I don't think either of those would bother with drinking their troubles away if they had that much power."

"Let me get this straight, you think that I, a dragon, and you, a thief walking into the most heavily guarded castle in the country is a good idea?"

"Um... If its to stop a greater evil... Yes?" The rogue was squeamish under the armored dragons stare.

The stare lessened from a glare to a bright eyed hopeful look, "Lets do it."


"Lets go visit Canterlot and get the aid of the royals themselves! I'm sure the pretty pony princess would be friends with a lot of skilled fighters like those... those..."

"Wonderbolts?" the Rogue offered.

"Yeah those guys, and that school of gifted whatsits." The dragon said happily as he got off, "Lets take the train there!"

"You do realize we need more bits for train tickets right?" the rogue said. The dragon looked at him like he was being dumb, which to the dragon, he was.

"That's what you're here for aren't you?"

"Oh!... Right!" the Rogue replied, and grinned happily, "Suppose it is! Don't worry boss, I the master of stealth and assassinating shall acquire us a seat to the capital!"

Great. The dragon thought, what could possibly go wrong? Their plan was fool proof!


Meanwhile in Twilights Library!


"What do you mean Rainbows house is Gone?!" Applejacks voice was raised as Rarity fainted upon her fainting couch.

Fluttershy had cringed at the raised voice of her friend and Applejack apologized as the quiet mare replied, "T-two puppet-things holding a p-piece of metal rammed the slab up it and it until it vanished without a t-trace. No smoke or nothing, gone!"

Fluttershy had regained a bit of confidence at the end of the sentence but Twilight quickly made Fluttershy cringe back as the scientific mare had gone ballistic, "That shouldn't be scientifically possible! Teleportation itself requires a massive reserve of energy just to teleport oneself. Let alone make an entire house vanish! Only Celestia or Luna should be capable of such a feat!"

"Maybe she's means that they smashed her house?" Applejack asked, and Fluttershy shook her head, "No, there would be the remains of Rainbows possessions and scattered clouds everywhere, they just up an-and vanished..." She looked on the verge of tears, as Rarity comforted her.

"Still impossible!" Twilight said.

"Yet it happened." Rarity interjected, "Maybe this is something traditional science can't explain, like Pinkie's special senses or Discords magic darling. Didn't he say he was working for Discords sake back when we met him in the castle?"

"Yes, but...." Twilight ground her teeth as she exclaimed, "Dang it Discord!"


Meanwhile in the Statue Garden of Canterlot


Somewhere the statue of Discord was trying to 'crack a smile' but he simply hadn't the strength to crack the imprisoning stone. Else he wouldn't be in this situation, would he? Even if he could crack the stone, there was literally an orderly office pony standing nearby his statue on guard now with a bucket of magically kept sealing cement and a scrape waiting for it to happen. Celestia had gotten paranoid of another breakout. Silly girl, thinking that a trowel and some wet cement would stop a future breakout. Discord really wanted to smile right now.


Wheras thou now? Oh outside-st thy royal chambers of thou princess of thy night? Okay then I'll stop the bad attempt at old english.


Four royal guards of the bat variety stood outside the chambers of Luna's chambers. All four were males, with two chosen to guard the princess herself, and the others her chambers. The former were curious though, since the Princess of the Night hadn't come out of her chambers in several nights. After her return from the festival of Nightmare Night in high spirits, she had taken to her room, in which the Princesses mood had soured drastically after reading 'some old book' as the maid assigned to cleaning her room had said. The maid had attempted to clean Lunas room several times each night only to be either ignored, or shoved out of the room with magic. Celestia had been saddled with most of the proceedings over the course of the day, and by the time she was done over the busy day she was about to drop dead from the social exhaustion of running an entire country by her own decisions.

The guards understood that delegating several of these decisions to an assistant or forming a co-counsel would ultimately end in disaster since that had been attempted several times before, but the nobility caste of unicorns were far too greedy and resulted in massive power struggles and constant warfare between those trying to gain, and promptly abuse, the power Celestia tried to entrust them with. The remnants of that council still had some unwanted control that they had wrested from their monarchs iron grip, mostly over political events and the ability to do just about whatever they wanted outside the bounds of the law as long as it didn't directly harm somepony else or was done in the complete open.

Only the Bluebloods, by virtue of being a blood relation to the Alicorn princess, albeit distantly, were still loyal to Princess Celestia. It was little wonder with their constant petty squabbles for power caused Celestia to be forced to act like a gentle mother to what the guards considered a flock of angry, stuck up, children from dawn to dusk. She would be far too exhausted to confront her sister about her recent change in attitude, the day guards could see how their princesses wings drooped ever so slightly as she turned in for the night. The guards had also hazarded a guess that she didn't even know about the mood that had fallen upon Luna, since the shifts also exchanged with the change of princesses. Since most ponies slept during the night, very few would ever make a meeting with Luna and what few words that were exchanged between the day and night guards were mostly idle gossip or recent events that had happened elsewhere throughout the country.

Luna still rose and lowered the moon each night, and trays of food still entered and left empty from her room as well. But the guards knew that the usually semi-shy princess wasn't just watching over other ponies dreams. Whatever had been in that 'old book' had messed with her a fair bit, and some of the guards were gambling on which idiot was going to try their luck at entering to cheer her up next. It was weighed pretty heavily that one of the maids or Prince Blueblood would try next, but others still bet on other odds. One bat pony had bet that a guard would abandon post to aide their princess. They also bet several times in the past that whatever guard was foolish enough to abandon post would probably get their heart broken and job fired but that was a longstanding bit of pragmatism. Every day guard could dream of making their princess swoon, but the night guard were above such things. Mostly because they knew Luna would find it creepy if she found her guards dreaming about her in socks and what not.

Another guard, particularly one of the escorts Luna had during Nightmare Night had bet that an animal would fly down the chimney and make a friend out of Luna, they weren't told that the chimney had a grate inside it to prevent intrusions from the outside, and were secretly being robbed from the betting pool. Another of the same travel guard had bet that the kid they had met back in Ponyville, a little scamp dressed in a pirate outfit would come pirateering dramatically to Lunas aide. That guard had been given a lecture by Shining Armor himself that if a foal with a plastic sword could break past several heavily armed guards, that they would need to seriously reconsider their career options and find more competent replacements.

One guard had bet a decent sum of coin that the one who gave her the book, the villain who had robbed the court of its natural proceedings just weeks prior and turned Luna into a judge, and made their captain a laughing stock would be the one to break in and cheer her up somehow. While the other bets had been placed in some skeptism, all the other guards had denied this outright. There was no way some scrawny kid with a weird mask would be able to get to Lunas bedroom without having to besiege the entire castle first. At least that's what they thought. Young Star Dancer was an optimistic guard, one of the few unicorns employed by the Night shift, and surprisingly a newer one at that. He had much to learn, the other guards thought. There was no possible way that the dastardly over dramatic midget could slip past them. He was way too loud and dramatic to not announce his presence to the entire world.

The pool was only growing though. Since no guard would dare abandon their post after the recent incident with Discord that year, and the maids were too intimidated to speak with Luna. That left Luna to dwell alone in her misery. Something had deeply unsettled the princess. Tonight something else interesting had happened as well. There was a momentary sound of a horn going off with a magic spell unknown to the guards. There had been no call for help, and no alarms going off. Luna had cast a spell for some reason. Silence ensured for a few minutes as the guards stood on razors edge. The doors too thick to hear the quieter sounds within. There was the clacking sound of metal on stone, as something approached the door, and pushed it open slightly. A quiet voice asked, "Someone bring me a maid... Tell them to bring a broom and dustpan."

The door shut, and one of the guards left their post to alert the appropriate staff. When the maid came in, she saw what was the cause of her summons. The statue of Starswirl The bearded had crumbled. All that remained of it was a pile of stony dust, a blue bell ringed hat with intricate designs, and a cloak that matched the hat to a key. Luna was buried in her pillows and blankets, and the only instruction the maid had been left was to leave the cloak and hat. The maid silently cleaned up the mess, not quite understanding what was happening perhaps wrongly wise enough to know better than to interfere in the affairs of Alicorns. Especially ones that terrified her with the constant thundering roar of a voice as if she was ready to send her to the afterlife


Back in the Puppet Masters Bedroom.


I was finding it a good distraction to clean and maintain Cass's new limbs. It was also good to see her maintaining a rigorous workout routine, and she was starting to understand and actually manage to maintain the limbs themselves as well. It was a bit surprising to me that someone else could maintain one of my props, as I had fully expected such an effort to fail, but it seemed as someone else used and knew how my props were supposed to work, their magic became the sustaining factor and thus allowed them to edit it without breaking it as well. Cass had gone from about half an hour of casual use to eight hours of casual use each day over the past two months worth of effort. half that under the routine she managed. She said it was 'as if they were learning to become one with the machine'. As she reported often 'feeling as if they had been a natural extension of her body', rather than as the intrusive prop-cybernetics that they were.

The maintenance had also been overwatched by Yoko, who was curious about the things I had been making since arriving here in Equestria, and her tech priest Bronze Leaf. Who looked at me with two kinds of expressions that through the rebreather covering his face made me think of a mix between, 'curious' and 'disgusted' at my antics of fake-technology.

"By the omnissiah. You are either working with tools beyond my comprehension or are truly blessed by the machine god. I can't understand how you manage to turn..." he picked up a piece of my crafting supplies, "Mere foam and bits of scrap metal into a functioning tool in much better and reliable fashion than any of those Frakkin' Orks. What trickery is this?"

"Magic." I said offhandedly, during maintenance, "Special power to craft good tools of other universes, don't overthink it too much."

"Inquistor Deargon," The Tech Priest had said, "If this was the Equestrian Imperium, then I'd be trying to take you directly to Celestia to explain your techno-heresy, but seeing as shes dead..." The Tech Priest said, "I'm going to go ahead and outdo you and invent new technology."

That set off a red flag and I looked to Yoko as she sheepishly grinned. Tech Priests in Warhammer had been against straying from a standard template construct in that universe. Doing so was heresy to a the Adeptus Mechanicus that saw straying from the templates as an invitation for disaster, such thinking had turned the cult into scavengers for recovered STC's as they were called and progress in the Imperium had ground to a halt there.

When the Tech Priest had left the room Yoko explained to Cass as she looked worriedly at my expression, "Before you say something, he is not a hera-tech," she paused as she looked to Cass, "Xander's just concerned that the nice stallion that just left is dabbling in forbidden arts. No worries though, he isn't, Bronze Leaf actually generated a fair amount of the original STCS for my universe." Cass explained, "The Universe we came from was more of... hmm... a mix between the 30k storylines and the aftermath? Definitely before the legions split."

I relaxed and Cass looked a bit lost, "Is that a good thing or a bad thing... um... Xander?"

I sighed, "As long as he knows what he is doing, Though I wonder where he is going to get the supplies for his... research."

I looked to Yoko, "If I see any flying Skulls around the place, I'm going to put him on the moon. Because that means he has killed someone."

"Got it Xandy, no Servo Skulls or Servitors."

"Uh..." Cass said, unsure of what we were talking about.

"Don't worry about it." I replied in turn, patting Cass on the head, "Anyway your maintenance is all good for now, remember not to overdo the joints, I might be considering full metal replacements soon for you, since they'll last longer, but I've still yet to master the art of blacksmithing."

I could experiment with making molds, and pouring heated metal into them, but that would be a while yet before I could figure out a way to make a molten metal resistant mold in the first place without props. Props were sturdy, but as several others had proven, they weren't invincible. A foam mold made to pretend to be an actual mold, would still burn to a crisp like a plank left in a tornado of fire if I attempted to do so. That and I'd rather not mess with flaming hot liquid metal until I was properly trained. Unluckily blacksmithing was a barely used profession outside of crafting metal parts for wagons and the like in Equestria. Factories were a thing, and their processing plants in the more major cities instead of villages handled most of the scarce metalworking. Meaning only those whose cutie-marks were of the trade even plied it right now. Even if I did find one, it was very unlikely that they'd teach a wanted villain unless they themselves were either indebted to me somehow or bribed heavily. It was more of a side project anyway, since it took pretty major blows to really harm the props I made, and with the new influx of power, I partially figured metal props would be a bit overkill.

That and I didn't know if I could use a different set of tools to make the props anyway. Discord provided the major tools for turning foam and basic non-metal materials into magical objects. Would I be able to do the same with different? The prospect horrified me to think about. As Cass left, Yoko excused herself to check on the Tech-Priest, and the door remained open long enough for another pair to enter. Melody had come, to present progress. Days earlier she had finally been fully accepted by the elders of the siren race as their new Princess, which was odd since there was no Queen or King, and had begun preparations. She had come to me shortly afterwards with a request to be moved to the western Ocean edge of Equestria, where apparently the civilization had once sat nearly a thousand years ago.

The request was granted, and the sirens now used the portal network on a day to day basis, about a few dozen of them going in between each day until the first few new homes became ready for living in, and in the span of a few days the sirens had made a small settlement from the local resources. It was taxing to open a portal across the country, doing so would drain me after a few minutes, which meant that I had to keep the portal open only around pre-determined times of which I would use the silence and concentration afforded to me during these routine check-ups with Cass. Melody's appearance had meant she had a new round of reports, four more homes were built, and that meant a few less that I needed to care for. They would still need food of course, until their own farms finally started producing their own produce, but those could be shipped from other parts of the nation once fully formed. Apparently traders had already spotted the growing community, and upon an unknown persons insistence they had begun to trade rather rapidly the much needed tools and supplies that the Sirens had needed to get well and truly going.

Melody had strongly insisted during each day to try and give me a report, in which she read off what had occurred during the day even if I wanted it or not. It would of been rude to deny the one Siren I trusted of the group entry into my office, I wasn't going to ignore a major ally like that, but the way she did present these reports were a bit... awkward. The finned pony would often take to having me sit cross legged on the bed while she herself sat in the chair I usually reserved for my workshop nearby. Reading to me as if a bedtime story. Only it wasn't interesting in the slightest nor was I tucked in like a foal with their mother. That and she occasionally looked up from her reports to... study me every so often, as if gauging my reaction or trying to figure me out. Had I not already of made it clear to her before, I would of sworn she was trying to train me to becoming a king with these reports, or into becoming her prince since she wanted the title of Princess. Self consciously I covered my lap with a workbook as she she continued, a few more idle ideas springing to mind. As she droned on and on about progress this, and what had happened that.

Eventually the Night called the siren to go back to her quarters to sleep, and I was glad for it. Accounting and mass management wasn't my thing. Puppets were busy enough to manage without adding more people into the mix. This project had been a bit of a test with my lack of involvement overall. I was testing the Siren peoples ability to create and learn new crafts to recreate their cities above land, and they were testing my ability to understand the intricacies of what they were doing.

In the end it didn't feel like it mattered much what my thoughts on their progress was. I maintained a good relation with the occasional quips, but nations and rulership did not interest me. My interests so far had been concentrated eastwards far beyond ponyville and the mountains of which I dwelt. All the way in Canterlot of which I was certain was either going to figure out Rainbows disappearance one way or another. Had Twilight sent a message confirming her screw up with her friends or did she hide the information, too scared of failure? If she did hear about it would it break the calm facade, or would it make Celestia work even harder towards Twilights eventual ascent into the Alicorn that had been the last episode of my time on Equis?

Would security double down again with the Elements of harmony no longer in action? It certainly seemed so at first glance, but then again a prominent stallion and his mare were planning for a wedding several months in advance. Just where had the time gone? So much to do, so little time. I arose from the bedside and sat back down at my station, beginning the next tool. Perhaps I should make a commission for someone in another world? Just what sort of wonders lay in other universes. I didn't need gold certainly, but a magical relic would easily be welcomed as another addition. Celestia and Luna could move divine bodies, I couldn't. The gap in strength was still highly evident, but perhaps the magic of this world wasn't the only thing else I could find... Mildly I began to search the laptop, dusting it off and making sure it still worked as I continued the project.

Its main file over my powers had degraded somewhat, confused by the changes I had gained in myself leaving just the old guide on the marionette tool of which still hanged from my waist. I brought the files attention towards the friend requests and spotted a few interesting ones. Slowly I began to browse them one by one.


The Everfree Forest, Puppet Masters Dimension


"Stinkin' twig-dogs!" an ork yelled as he smashed a timber wolf with a stone axe, "I be da bestest wolf slayer in da forest! Ya git this yet?!"

"No! I be da bestest wolf slayer in da forest!" yelled another ork as timber wolves were fighting Orks deep in the Everfree. The wolves for their part were confused and disrupted. Most prey they had in the last few hundred years had been either large enough not to mess with, and thus they didn't mess with it, or timid enough that they made easy game. These were smaller than their average hunting game, yet somehow were fighting them back with zeal reserved for yak barbarians after a particularly heavy night of drinking. Such ferocity of their target had caught them off guard, and several of them had fallen, for good this time as their magical cores had been captured by a werid one in the center of the group of melee happy green skinned humanoids.

"Now calm da self!" yelled the one carrying what the other orks had called a 'Pup-stick'. "You're both da bestest hunters in da pack! Gork and Mork would be proud that you killy so many of dem with so little!"

The staff wielding ork was a Weridzboy, one of the more experienced ones at that. He had been the sole survivor of the planet killing blast, but that didn't mean he'd stay either the only one, or be the only one left over from that world. Already these wooden daemons, as the Ork had assumed, had donated enough energy to begin the long process of bringing back their god of the Warghh. They would need more numbers, and more tools before Skargor could be brought back proper. Luckily the earth was rich in jewels and metal, and more than three quarters of the tribe had roles as miners as the goal was threefold. Mining would build up the muscles later needed for war. Mining brought forth valuable minerals that were needed for the mek-boyz to build their machines of war. Then three, this magic wielding ork was going to become the biggest baddest warboss in the sector.

Things were all going according to plan, the weridzboy thought as another spirit was drained into his staff, the reanimating spirit of the timber wolf joining the rest, as they squirmed trying to get out of his magic stick.

Rain N' Roll

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Something I learned rather quickly about Pegasus ponies being locked underground is that they are practically restless balls of energy. That or Rainbow had far too much for her own good. An underground facility was hardly the place for her to do her daily training regimen. Even if the main training chamber could allow an adult dragon to comfortably stand, Rainbow had soon complained about the height being far from adequate for practice she wanted to do. I kindly reminded her that unless she wanted to collapse the underground, or draw attention of her former friends that practicing the sonic rainboom or revealing her rainbow trail above ground was a dangerously stupid idea.

I had said it in nicer words of course, but Rainbow was still disgruntled none the less. Especially when she learned Trixie was also living here. That particular mess had taken Cass herself intervening for her friend before the former show-mare could be beat to a pulp by the athletic pegasus or the unicorn tying rainbow up like she did applejack in the show. The two soon made up though after Cass told her story about how Trixie became her friend, and I vouched for Rainbow to Trixie in turn. Surprisingly after the first day the two began to practice together regularly, and that fixed the problem of Rainbow whining about practice.

Trixie was to practice larger scale magic tricks as well as some new props I had lectured her on. Particularly a copy of the card deck I had and the dice that went with it soon became its own mobile obstacle course. Trixie trying to catch Rainbow and Rainbow well, doing her best to avoid it and tag Trixie in turn. Occasionally I'd add in puppets to mix their training up, but Trixie put the most work in mastering Luxords Deck, calling them a 'one of a kind magic trick for all ages!' That got a smile from me. As well as a lecture from Cass about becoming a one trick pony. Trixie promptly took up several other props that I had built days prior, and became proficient with a small assortment of items that I thought fit the stage magician.

Yoko as well as her group began expeditions into the void between dimensions. She still had most of her tokens, and now that she no longer had a major war to fight in was keeping herself busy with the various contacts she had gathered since arriving in her own universe. With my token in hand as well, she could traverse the gaps with her friends back and forth without having to visit the supernova that had claimed her Equis.

Amber did as she does, training when she can, and bugging me about jobs that needed doing when she didn't. So I kept her keeping an eye out for the Sirens, and chose to steal another copy of the newspaper from Ponyvilles local librarian before she could get it herself for a quick read over. The headline was unremarkable, something about folks causing ruckus in a local tavern. Flipping through other news articles something caught interest.

Princess of the Night
Unseen even at night!
Nobles suspect secret
plotting! Probably wrong
again! Reports say she
hasn't entertained the
Night Court since Nightmare

Well that was interesting, though I did wonder if this was strictly necessary. Luna last I checked operated as a dream medium during the night shift, though news of a Night Time court was certainly a new one. One that would need investigating. To be honest the minor news article took up the space of an advertisement. But then again most of the minor news it seemed were also crammed in it, as the equestrian newspaper was paradoxically made for everyone to know whats going on anywhere at once. This mystery was confusing, as next to Luna was a news report about the increasing friendship between buffalo and Appleloosa, Manehatten's latest in its version of Broadway musicals, and even a news report about the recent weather plans for some place called Vanhoover. It wasn't in any particular order, not alphabetical, by date, or even by topic importance, almost as if Discord himself ran the newspaper but without any bias which was paradoxical for media.

Twilight must of swapped newspapers, it was the only logical conclusion. Her prior newspapers had a lot more information, and I wasn't saying that to be creepy. Distantly there was a sound of a young dragon asking himself, "Who keeps taking our newspaper! I swore I saw it just this morning!" and chuckled before returning to Lunas subject my earlier mirth growing a bit less as I recalled what I had given her the last time we'd met. The knowledge about the truth of the petrified statues beneath the castle of the two sisters. That immortals were the only ones immune to its resultant killing effect, and that this would have likely either of enraged or saddened the otherwise most down to earth princess. Probably a mixture of both.

I considered what I could for the princess of the night. I wasn't the greatest motivational speaker, so what can I do? I could craft, but what? By all rights they were dead. From unnatural causes of a basilisks glare. I pored over my mind what sort of things could cure that. Harry Potter had dealt with a basilisk but not turned to stone, so phoenix tears wouldn't work. Wait... Phoenix! My mind linked the creature to another very very different genre, from books and movies to the video game series of Final Fantasy. Now I felt like an idiot for not thinking about it until now. Two consumable items existed in that game that could possibly help. But I'd need help. Neither was I a metal worker nor did I have such a bird on hand. However, Celestia and Luna had both.

I took rough aim at Canterlot's palace and shot a portal at it.

Distantly a guard reacted in surprise as a blue blob flung itself past them faster than the blink of an eye impacted against the castle wall before expanding, and being drug through by a puppets hand. "There there." Said Aku to the panic filled guard, "No worries here, it will all be okay soon." he pet the struggling guard before the hush of forced sleep overcame him from another tool. Another portal drop deposited him into the bushes for later discovery. I arrived as well, cards flickering through first as I walked across them, minding carefully just how far above the ground I was. Next came a few puppets, my concentration stretched across multiple points as the mechanical bug like drones of Nox scouted ahead, alongside Aku.

This was unfamiliar ground, but I figured that Luna and Celestia were likely to hold the highest point in the castle, or at least a spot that served comfortably between the throne room and living areas of the castle. Insects were hardly noticeable in the grand scheme of guard training. Pests were the maid and butler jurisdiction of control. So it wasn't long before the searching net found their chambers. In retrospect it was over guarded to all hell and back. I mean who needs two guards for each door, and another pair of guards for each window. With a similar formation on the other end of the same tower. The main difference was one front entrance had four guards while the other had two. Judging from the time of day, I was willing to bet that it was Luna's room. Especially since the Batponies outside of it.

Well now what. Do I introduce myself to these guards, knock them out or-.

I noticed something extraordinarily stupid. They had left a window open, with just enough open ground beyond for a portal to fit. I face-palmed. Seriously? It was a simple matter to wait till the guards gaze was focused away just right then ploop went the portal as it landed. Momentarily disrupted by its worst enemy. Carpet. I jumped through from the other side by myself. Immediately I was pinned to a wall by magic.

"Ow." I replied, as the portal closed behind me, "Nice to see you too Luna."

The grip lessened somewhat as my eyes adjusted to the semi-dark room that I had invaded. It was colored after her mane and coat, with a pure black bed of the finest silks. Around her chambers were countless books and small personal items and trophies on shelves. The origin of the magical energy, Luna, was in her bed, barely visible as a faint outline in her royal bed. All I could see were some red tinted eyes, the slight fringe of the starry front of her mane, and the long horn lit up with magic only an Alicorn could properly bear in such force. "Puppet Master, why do you invade this place?"

"Well..." I gasped a bit, "If you'd kindly stop crushing my ribcage I'd tell you..."

The force lessened considerably, but still did not let go. At least I could move, albeit in the air and unable to leave the wall. It was an odd sensation, as I noted that she grabbed me by my clothes rather than directly. That and my mask, which was painfully aware of her touch upon it. quickly I elaborated once air properly returned, "Thought I'd try to offer... a comforting hand, and offer you something."

"What else pray tell do you have to offer us now?" Luna bitterly replied, "What other hidden away horrors do you have for us today?"

"Not of horror, but of hope that I wish to test first before promising results." I replied, reaching up to keep my mask in place before it was accidentally tugged off, "I have an idea on how to save your friends whom are locked in statues back at the castle of two sisters."

This caused the magic to drop me softly upon the ground before releasing me, Luna looked at me, leaning into the light with mascara stained face of a mare who had been weeping for a long time, "How? Thou hast read the journal as well no doubt, and despite my many attempts to prove it otherwise, this book has indeed been written by Starswirl. We even attempted..." She looked even more miserable, as she pulled out an old worn hat and cloak, ones far more elegant than the copy Twilight had attempted to make for Nightmare Night, "To revive him in the manner he revived us... but it failed."

I paused, "Do you still have his ashes?"

"Yes... they're in..." she wordlessly gestured with the journal to an Urn. One normally used for burial that was now on a shelf, far newer than anything else on it, "There."

"Well that's news..." I said, respectfully, "With your permission, and a few needed objects, and a bit of help I would like to attempt to revive him."

Luna stared at me, like a hard stare of someone who has heard of this sort of thing before, "You do not mean necromancy?""

I was startled, "No of course not! Undead are hardly revived aren't they?"

Luna shook her head, "Then how?"

I gave her a calming gesture, "Please, all shall be explained in time. The thing I'd need though to work on the project is ideally a feather though."

"A feather?" Luna asked, looking at me then her own wing, "Mine?"

"Noooo...." I said, "A phoenix feather."

"Then you need..." Luna balked at what I had implied.

"Help from your sisters pet, yes. A primary feather, preferably." I explained, "I need to do some modifications, before making the attempt. The other item I'd need help with is something I'm unskilled at as well. Do you happen to know a good Blacksmith to work gold?"

Luna looked at me, like I had asked her an extraordinarily stupid question. "We live in a castle." She replied. When I didn't respond she continued, "Filled to the brim with day guards covered in the stuff."

"Always wondered why gold of all things, steel is more reliable." I said, and Luna looked aghast, "What?"

She shook her head, "You must not of done a lot of research on this matter, or come from someplace different. Steel, titanium, adamantium, as well as Mithril are all very rare minerals, forging a simple object from any of them would likely drive even the noble house of Blueblood way past their budgets. We were surprised when several of your.... weapons.... seemed forged from them."

I rose an eyebrow, "Oh."

"We assumed you plundered an entire treasury of some other far off kingdom for the tools and weapons you use, was this not the case?" Luna asked and I paused to consider it. Equestria is rich in gold and gems, its why we build so much out of the former and why the later are used cheaply for various arcane tools."

I could lie, say I built them from metal, or even were made as gifts from discords chaotic spirit. But such an action undermined what I was working towards. That and I could tell such an action wasn't going to work on someone like her. She was too acute. So I was left with one real option, and then the aloof option. I chose both, "Forged them from magic, I did. Enchanted fantastical from the mundane and opened their materials to rediscovery." I said, it was a half truth, but Lunas gaze locked into mine, and I found my will power slowly draining locked into those... curious... shining eyes.

I sighed, "look, I'd only ever show you if you Pinkie promise not to use it against me. I may be one of those big villains, and likely your guards would of tried arresting me twenty times over by now for merely being here if they knew-" I saw a guard fidget from a puppet outside, oh they knew I was in here. Their ears were now pressed against the door listening in, "Correction!" I loudly stated, "SINCE THEY DO KNOW." Each guard let out a momentary Eep before resuming post trying to pretend like they weren't totally eavesdropping, "Sorry bout that. Eyes and ears everywhere, where was I?"

"Something about Pinkie promising, whatever that is." Luna said, "Does this have to deal with Twilights friends from Ponyville?"

"The originator of the promise is-...." I sighed, "Long story short, the pink one made a promise system that somehow works that if you break the promise, you suffer shame 'foreevveerrr or something like that." I stated before resuming, "In any case, I'll let you watch me make such an item if you want as long as its sworn not to be used against me. I'm a crafter and weaver of stories, not a fighter and I don't need guards taking away my craft should they get the opportunity." I looked to her, "That'd be a breach of trust I'd compare to Twilight taking your moon from you."

"She'd never." Luna said firmly, "Shes Celestia's student and the bearer of the element of magic."

"Its an example." I sighed, "So getting back on point, before we get this on the road, can you get a primary feather from Celestia's pet phoenix?"

"Pinkie Promise then that it won't be abused for evil." Luna stated calmly, using my own words against me.

I sighed, and went through the motions, "Cross my heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye." On Lunas tilted head I somewhat indignantly said, "What?"

"Sorry, it caught us off guard." Luna eventually worded out, before getting up, "I will be back, touch anything in my room other than the floor and I'll drag you to Tia."

I held my hands up where she could see them, and she snorted, composing herself. Bled mascara washing away as she enveloped her face in magic, doing a quick cleaning and adjusting her royal crown before heading out. Leaving me to examine her room, as two other guards entered as well on her command to watch me.

After a few minutes, one of the bat ponies asked, "Sooooo what are you anyway?" only to get nudged by the other, "What?"

"New I'm guessing?" I replied, normally guards were stoic as rocks. "Hi, I'm the Puppet Master, that's what I am."

"Yeah, but what are you?" The mare asked again, getting a facehoof from her coworker, "You have fingers like a minotaur, but no horns, and your legs don't match most of the other racial profiles."

"Perhaps I'm a figment of your imagination." I replied.

The guard stared at me like I was stupid. I stared back like she was stupid to be buggering me with questions on my race. The other guard for the most part tried to maintain a calm facade, but he was clearly sweating bullets underneath that armor as the apparent recruit kept bothering one of the few villains in the realm capable of eluding justice.My hands fell upon my deck casually in case things got violent, but it was for naught as soon after, Luna came back.

"I have this feather, now show us how you intend to use it."

Burning the Midnight Oil

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Turned out, getting a feather from Celestias personal pet was a lot easier done than I had thought it was going to be. Philomena, the name of the phoenix, was already mostly done through another reincarnation cycle. Luna only had to ask the maid in charge of her cage for the feathers and came back with a few handfuls of them of different sizes and repair. Luna held each one aloft in her magic, and I opened a portal, this time to home, "Pinkie promise not to use this against me?" I asked again, and Luna nodded, "Cross my heart, and hope to fly," she began while repeating the gestures, "and stick a cupcake in our eye."

"Alright," I said, "Now give me a second to get a few tools."

I reached into the portal, above my desk, and bent down, dragging the contents already laid upon a rubber cutting board, On top of it was a small pile of premade supplies that had been gathered shortly after the newspaper article had been put down. The portal remained open, as a mechanical arm extended a small platform that had a small burner on it, the kind mostly used for science. But instead of a small glass jar there was a heated concentration of dye steaming hot in two different pots, one a light bright orange, and the other a nice steel grey. Nearby was also a bowl of water, not hot nor cold, just room temperature.

The other tools were a gem powered blow dryer, a painting set, some toothpicks, a bit of glue (still sealed as not to harden), Glitter made from crushed gems, a small bottle themed after an alchemic one, but far smaller than any mad scientists. A cork that went with the bottle. There was also a screw with a loop on the end, awaiting a painted a steel grey foam decorative wing design to be attached onto its end. Finally was an exacto cutting knife, a bit of sand paper, paint and several paintbrushes to go with it. Time to get to work.

Luna sat down opposite of me as I adjusted everything into place, first handing me a bright red primary feather. The phoenix was coated in two bright colors, I recalled, a solid red and orange, their feathers thick and single colored. I had hoped for a gradient, or gradual transition like a true bird, but the shows simplistic art style must of transferred onto this bird as the thing sat stubbornly one shade of red.

Luckily that was what the orange dye was for, as I took the feather I was forced to adjust my values. It was not hot or even warm, it felt... Normal for a feather coming from the bird many had considered made of living fire. I felt my hand bristle through the feather, as I examined it, bristles sliding back into place, and ever so slightly curved, it was strong yet soft, well taken care of before it had parted from the bird during one of its reincarnation cycles. I touched it to the bowl of water, and held my breathe for just a moment.

The feather for its part reacted like a normal feather, getting wet. Not boiling the water, or disintegrating, and I felt relief. Beginning to clean the feather, Lunas voice spoke up, as she sat down across from me, "What are you doing?" she asked.

I responded, "Cleaning it of any impurities, dirt, or otherwise that might be on the feather, as well as getting it wet so that it dosen't get as easily damaged for the next step," I nodded my head at the other pots, "Those are to dye it to the correct hues needed to advance this endeavor."

"I see..." Luna said, relaxing a bit as she watched, Once the first feather had been washed properly, another far smaller mechanical arm drew itself out of the portal and opened. I deposited the top of the feather there and let it gently clamp down, as it adjusted its course to putting the very bottom into the steel grey dye, and carefully measuring the depth until just under a third of it was slowly turning grey, with some of the heated grey liquid creeping up in an arc up the main shaft of the feather. While the dye did its work, Luna observed the gentle rotations, and I went on to the next bit of project. I picked up the foam, and began to carve away.

"Would you mind if I talked a bit?" I asked Luna, as the small block began to take shape.

"If you'd like, we would also like to ask you some questions as well." Luna responded, she had started in a formal sitting, legs underneath her, but as the minutes rolled by her pose adjusted to sitting cross legged on her pillow.

"A continuation of the game then?" I asked, and she understood.

"From Nightmare Night?" Luna paused, considering it, as silently I continued to carve out the finer details, occasionally stopping to sand paper some of the rougher work into a smooth surface, "Same rules then?"

"Yep, and I believe I asked the last relevant question before we were talking about the Elements of Harmony being misnamed. So by your lead Princess, we shall begin."

"Just, Luna will do." Luna collected herself, as she considered what to ask first. Silence continued for a while, and as I finished carving the main stay of the foam feather, it was time to switch to drying off the real one in the pot. The hairdryer started, in the other side of the portal, to help mask the noise, but still in easy view of Luna. I focused the hairdryer on the steel-greyed side, letting it dry enough so that the dye wouldn't run. Focusing on it, she asked, "Tell us about what you are making."

"Its a magical tool." I replied, "One from lands far different and even further away than here. They went by many names, and continue to grow into new ones as new lands are formed, but they are all linked by a common name of 'Final Fantasy'." I continued to work, as I took a deep breathe to go on, considering what to say, "It is a violent set of lands, full of monsters, evils, and other horrors that would take too long to describe, but it is also full of hope, heroes, and has the general theme of Justice and progress as low grade rebels, slowly prove themselves and save the world in each of their legends."

I briefly paused to consider them, I myself hadn't played much of the games, of those, were the four heroes, Final Fantasy IV, XI, and XII-2, Dissidia, as well as tactics advanced. My favorite had been the last of that group and the one I was most familiar. I also recalled foggily the movie of that was the 7th game incarnate essentially, As well as having tried to play an old version of the tenth game only for a bad scratch to interrupt me shortly afterwards. Of all the villains Golbez had been my favorite up until his face heel turn into a hero, though the music of the mad clown god Kefka was something I found myself humming from time to time as well. I found myself tempted to talk about one of them, but I hadn't answered Lunas question, "This item that I'm making was made to revive slain members of an adventuring group of heroes who fell in battle. In some circumstances, it was to simply make them regain consciousness, but in others, it would stop death and revive the dead back to being among the living."

I didn't mention the hilarious use it had on undead enemies to instantly deal maximum damage, it was actually a logical bit of thinking that the ultimate healing device would be the ultimate bane of an undead enemy as it tried to return them to life. Much like the Golden Needle of the game, an item used to cure petrification, would kill rock based enemies as well, "This item was called the Phoenix Down, named after the creature from the land whose feathers and design contributed to it. It was considered a massive boon to be given a phoenix feather in that realm, as they were legendarily rare."

"It is true here too," Luna cut in, "Very few nests are ever found in the reaches of any land. At most their numbers are probably a few thousands, since it is rare for phoenixes to meet, let alone share enough time together to breed. Luckily their reincarnation cycles keep their numbers steady, though death can still fall upon the egg, and they can be killed if not allowed to be reborn from their ashes. Though the punishment for harming such a bird is on the higher ends, unless that has been changed as of late."

"Nice bit of knowledge though to have," I remarked, wondering just how things would of gone in the Dragon Migration if Celestia or Luna knew about what Garble was planning to smash one of those eggs.

"Though I do have a question for you as well Luna," I had been idly considering what to ask her, but honestly I just wanted to know more about her, "What sort of things do you like to do when you're not working for the betterment of the kingdom?"

Luna rose an eyebrow, leaning back onto her forehooves as a support behind her, "Our hobbies?" I nodded and she continued on, "Well..." Her horn lit up, and a few things floated out from various places in the room. she had been phasing between the royal use of we, and the normal use of I for a while, but it seemed she dropped it again as she continued, "I... enjoy a good read or two alongside a few other things." She held out various books, none of which I could recognize, alongside them, she introduced, "Board games when I have the occasional guest, though that hasn't happened in a long time..." She sighed, "Would adore to play a game of Ogres and Oubliettes, though I'm often far too busy to even attempt to host such a thing." She rolled her eyes, "As if Nobles could also be expected to stoop over getting excited at the roll of a dice, or pretending to be who they aren't."

Then she held aloft a sheathed rapier, I paused to consider the action as she continued on, "Elsewise we enjoyed fencing with our guard, and the occasional activity of watching others dreams. Though..." She paused, and stated, "have yet to find yours. When do you sleep?"

That was her question eh? "Mostly early morning to early afternoon, though I've had times where Coffee was used in place of sleep." I replied, "Been sort of paranoid of a dream visit early on as well as trying to survive long enough to get going..." She gave me a questioning look so I continued, "Considering my introduction was literally breaking into the celebration meeting of defeating Discord and then jumping out one of your palaces windows?"

"Ah, you were afraid we would of tried to take you down when you slept." Luna realized, not using the royal we this time but evidently adding her sister and the elements of harmony into the mix, "A smart move, considering the lack of protection an unconscious mind normally has if untrained."

"Figured as much." I responded in turn, "I wasn't ready to pit myself against everypony at that moment, so I fled and only had to deal with Shining Armors small squad instead of you, your sister and the element bearers."

As we spoke, the carved feather of foam was getting a metallic coat of paint, the hole inside it had been joined by another loop of the same material, cut in the same go, and refined to a smooth polish, I had already let the priming black paint on it dry and sanded the rough dry black layer of it to a smooth layer again before applying the next. The phoenix feather itself had been put into the process again, only this time the proper end of the feather had been dipped into the orange end and dried to make the feather the proper colors. Now it was drying as well as the silver layer of paint, which I had touched up and gently kept paint from flowing overly into the creases by using a fine brush to do touch ups around there instead of a wide brush. The charm itself would also gain another layer of white dusting to give it a more polished look once it was dried and lightly sanded smooth yet again.

My attention returned to the feather itself again, as I took out the glue and glitter, coating the faintest tip of a toothpick with glue and glitter, as I worked ever so slowly on giving the colored feather a bit more sparkles imbued into it. The mixture was of finely crushed rubies and topaz which worked to help highlight the 'magical nature' of the feather I was working on. Detail had long since proven important, and the more I worked on something the better the end result would be. Once the feather was ready, I needed its container. It wasn't strictly needed, as the feather has been without a container in many games, but I felt it would help.

Gently I set the feather aside to dry naturally with its center glittering in the window and portal light, I asked, "Favorite food and drink?"

Luna's eyebrow rose again, that same adorable face that she had when she rose it prior, "Drink wise, most coffees, and food wise..." She paused, only for a moment before rolling her eyes, "While I'm not a big cake fan like my sister, I do prefer the occasional devils food chocolate, in the form of a cookie, with a few extra chips mixed in."

I chuckled and she asked, "Why are you asking me about this sort of thing, when I'm asking about more serious details? Let alone why do you want to help me?" Luna looked at me, that endearing curiosity reaching its peak as if she stared hard enough she could pierce the mask to what was underneath.

"Mostly because I wanted to know more about you." I replied earnestly, without hesitation, "Of all the princesses, you're the one that I like the most, both from your history as a former and now redeemed villain, and well you just being you. Don't want to know you as a distant princess, from a far away land too high up to be only respected from such a gap, but rather personally. I want to know what you like, dislike, how to make you laugh, and what to avoid to make you angry or cry. Just that simple."

Goddesses I probably could of phased that better. Or something a bit more villain like, but the words came tumbling out of my mouth faster than a tumbleweed interrupting a corny intro sequence. To divert attention away and change the topic, I asked another question before either I or Luna for that matter could dwell on it, "Have you considered reforming Discord yet?"

Luna snorted, even that was cute, "Even I have heard how you spirited away the Element of Loyalty after the Mare Do Well incident. Even if we wanted to, we can't without the Elements of Harmony or something stronger to release that particular curse. Nor do I fancy the idea yet. Tia has been leaning towards it, but still is debating risks, since without some way to re-seal him shes stalled until the situation changes."

Woops, I mentally cringed. Sorry Dissy.

She shot back, a question, this time a personal one, "What is your favorite drink and food?"

I responded in turn after a moment of refining the carving work on the painted wing, "Coffee for burning the midnight hours, as well as a good slice of apple pie."

Now that the wing had mostly dried, I had taken to it again with a very fine grip on the exacto blade, carving more details of wind in the foam wing, while the smaller metal hands worked on the glass jar, adding a swirling fire detail to the glass by use of glue as the drawing line, and glitter as the color, in shifting hues of red and the yellowish orange of topaz. Luna watched in interest as both pieces went on, and with the knife, I cut a thin line through the connected chain, as to allow me to attach it to the loop of the screw, gluing the cut back into place and painting over it again as a bit of touch up detail. The momentary silence, slowly cut itself off as I asked next, "Music preference?"

"I enjoy a good choir." Luna said, "Not the noisy kind, but the kind that reveals a story, and calms the heart, so classical in a sense. The new age beat of..." She paused trying to consider what word it was, "Rave music is just noisy to me."

Well there goes her being friends with Vinyl Scratch.

She continued onwards, "My favorites among them were written by a unicorn called Neighderic Hoofin and Moz'arff, a diamond dog with the rare and under appreciated talent of piano music back from before I was banished.

She sighed as she considered the past, so far far away. Friends no doubt long dead over the ages. As I finished the designs, she asked, "What is the deal with the mask you wear anyway? You never seem to take it off."

"Blame Discord." I said in turn, it was a harmless thing to ask initially, "Though I'd need an additional promise that you not touch my mask unless given permission, as well as a vow of silence on the matter if you want to know more."

"Hmm. Deal." Luna said.

I sighed, as I slowly pushed the feather in, rear end first so that the feather wasn't ruffled on the way in. Soon as the tip was in the neck of the bottle, I plopped the cork over it, and twisted the screw into the top of the cork, attaching the wing charm to it. By the time it was Done Luna had completed the promise, and putting the bottle to the side, I grimaced, "This is going to be awkward to say, but please remain calm."

I removed my mask, revealing the blank face, and Lunas eyes narrowed, as the mask that was my face continued to speak, "He removed my face and left me with this mask in its place."

It felt incredibly horrible to be without my face on. My chest tightened, and my nerves on edge, as if I was in a horror game rather than having a calm conversation with the princess of the night. I shut my eyes, as I awaited the scream. It never came. Slowly I put the mask back on, and let out a slight breathe of relief, opening an eye to gauge Luna's response. She was staring, her wide eyed expression calming down from shock to something more sympathetic and confused, "Discord removed thou's face and still you seek his redemption? What sort of loyalty has he inspired in thee?"

"Nothing." I responded in turn, "I just know he isn't evil, just a spirit of chaos. His idea was to give me an ironic curse before he went to stone I guess." I needed to divert the topic, I didn't want to dwell on it, but as I cleaned up, I said, "Well the Phoenix Down is now ready for the test, I guess." She helped clean up, and took the small glass jar into her grip as she looked it over, "You believe this will bring back Starswirl the bearded?"

I nodded, but added in as I realized her focus was on the glass jar, "Yes. Provided it works. I haven't exactly done this sort of thing before."

I returned the puppets back to base, their watch wasn't going to be needed at this point, and I'd rather have my concentration mostly intact as they dropped one by one into the chest before their wearers faded back into non-existence. The tools also went back into their storage areas as they shut down. Only GLaDOS remained online, and her attention was minimal in comparison to the dozens that had been in operation until just now. There, now with everything set, I took the vial as Luna levitated the urn, "Here goes nothing." I said, and uncorked the vial.

Starry Nights

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The vial glowed alight in a bright red glow as magic drained into it, and quickly I poured it into the urn containing Starswirls remains, glowing trails falling down first in a spiraling slow circle, that landed on the exact edge of the pot before pouring in, followed by the feather which took a new almost blinding glow in the nearly unlit room. When the feather touched the ashes, I knew something was wrong.

The tools used energy to perform, their drain dependent on how powerful the magic being used was. This drain was unlike any I had experienced before. It was massive, and I nearly buckled immediately as I felt in nearly an instant as if I had run a marathon. I gasped as the drain continued, already the massive reserves of energy I had from the dragon was gone, and soon after it Sharp Operas own addition to my reserves was rapidly fading. Luna looked with alarm as I landed on my knees, clutching at my chest, and in another instant the reason why became tangible. The glass jar had a visible connection of magic running through me, into it, and into the feather below.

The ashes were igniting, it was working but the drain was getting even stronger. The Link to GLaDOS was momentarily severed, as my concentration snapped, and I groaned in agony, The few tools I had on me turning off as well. A few moments were like hours of endless burning, and about halfway through the Windigo kings magic supply I knew I didn't have enough, but I wasn't alone.

Luna linked her magic into the strain, and soon the connection was feeding off of her as well. She winced as she felt the pull, but poured into it as well wordlessly, as the pile of ash went to rise, and rise and rise. Growing until it took the form of a stallion in shape. Now all that was left was the magical tools that I had absorbed from Starswirls study, and my own starting reserves. Luna was looking worse for wear, but then, suddenly the glow began to fade, swirling feathers and light now noticeable, fading away into the pot, as a stallion stood there, looking with shock at the two of us. I didn't even have the grace or energy to get a good look at him, as Darkness consumed me and I fainted, near completely drained of energy.

The darkness was blinding and terrifying, and I couldn't tell how long it lasted, only that it lasted what seemed like hours, days, or years. I floated in a dark abyss, my body hurting, and my chest feeling like it was on fire as exhaustion ran its course. Was I dead? No, Death shouldn't have this much pain. A brief soothing sensation swept onto me over the course of hours, dampening the fire, and eventually leaving just tied and sore limbs in its place. I still rested. but slowly sensation began to return. With it I came to in a new sensation.

I was covered in something soft, my head resting against something furred and slightly plushy yet firm. While my robe had been removed leaving just the T-shirt underneath. Shoes had been removed as well as my Puppeteering tool that had been attached to my belt. I slowly stirred, aware that I was on my back, and covered in a soft silk and that something smelt faintly of lavender and blueberries.

Next to return were two voices, in busy discussion, one an older mans, the others Luna's. Groggily I became awake, only to find my gaze ceiling bound to the side of Lunas bed, my head resting on her lap as she talked to what looked similar to Star Swirl the Bearded from the art, but instead of blue, he was the same colors as philomena, and his eyebrows and mane were on fire. In my dazed, exhausted state, I could only say, "Does he need a bucket of water...?"

Luna looked down at me, "Oh thank goodness, you're awake." as her hooves messed with my hair idly, "For a while there we thought you'd never wake up!"

"I think... that used everything I had..." I chuckled weakly almost immediately regretting it as my body punched me in the lungs with fire, "Way more than I had expected... Ow..."

"I've also heard, that you're the one to thank for reviving me, though I must say, this is certainly unexpected." The stallion said, sitting down aside the bed to meet me more at eye level as I turned my head to follow his gaze, "Luna has been telling me about you while you were unconscious. Pray tell if half the things I've heard about you trumping one of my former students and stopping a Basilisk is true, let alone being the one responsible for well..." He gestured at himself, "This. I have much to thank you for. What do I call my apparent savior?"

Luna moved to speak but I got to it first, Villain names at this point was pointless, and if someone was to lock me in stone somehow, I'd want my proper name on a gravestone, "Alexander... Just call me Xander for short..."

Starswirl and Luna were surprised by the name. Which in itself was no surprise to me. Considering most of these humanoid hooved ponies had names that were literally just words from a dictionary crammed next to each other.

The flaming maned stallion also had a flaming version of the legendary wizard Gandalf beard I realized, and wondered just how overkill did we go. He was clearly no longer a unicorn but some sort of phoenix unicorn. Pheoni-corn? Phocorn? No that sounded too much like Popcorn. I'd need a lot more magic if I ever wanted to try that again, and tilting my gaze, I could see the husk of the glass jar, whose insides were now blackened from flame and crumbling slowly down into shards next to the old urn, and was really glad that wasn't me right now.

I could hear the clatter of armor nearby as a large force was approaching the door, a feminine and familiar voice on the other side, "Out of the way!"

Oh goddess no.

"I really don't want to be here when Celestia Shows up..." I said, "But I can't move..."

"Do you really think she will punish you for your crimes after bringing back her father figure from beyond?" Luna asked, looking mildly shocked.

"I'm a wanted criminal... remember?"

"He has a point, at least for now you can give him credit, but stuff him out of sight for now." Starswirl said, and Luna sighed, as Starswirl the Flaming-beard added, "Under the bed with him then?"

"Sorry Ma'am give us a moment." said a Night Guard on the other side of the door.

Together the two of them rolled me off her bed and then under it and soon after the edge of the blanket covered the underside as Celestia herself bursted in just a few seconds later.

"Luna! I felt the disturbance from the Throne Room! What happ-." She looked at Starswirl the Bearded, and was silenced. Staring at the stallion as the stallion stared at her.

Silence rolled by as I stared idly at the bottom of Luna's mattress. I missed the lap already, my head was brushing against something hard, and I could turn my head enough to look at it. It felt like a box, or a book, could be either at this point but I didn't care. The lap had been soft. The floor didn't respond to my disgruntlement, instead drawing attention elsewhere on my body. There was also a quill under my back, digging a pointed tip into the back my shirt. I counted it as good luck that my possessions were on the other side of the swung inward doors, so they were out of sight while Celestia stood in the doorway, her form barely visible from the light pouring in and the veil of Luna's bedsheets between the corner of my eye and staring directly at the princess of sunlight.

I imagined her jaw must of dropped, as she stared at the glowing form of Star Swirl brought back to life. The words from Celestia's mouth was breathless, "... Swirly? Is it really thou?"

My mind skidded to a halt. Celestia had just used Thou. Oh no. "Tis is, I, in the..." Starswirl paused as the glowing beard lowered as he looked at himself, "Glowing flesh."

I didn't blink, but I could of sworn I did, as Celestia crossed the room in an instant. Colliding with the reborn stallion in what was a room shuddering thud of a running tackling hug. "Woah there! Not so tight! These old bones aren't as strong as that." Star swirl warned, before wrapping Celestia into a hug.

"How, how are you here?" Celestia murmured, as she pulled back "Let alone...Well, look at you. Your mane and beard, they're practically made of fire now!"

"Speak for yourselves. Last I checked your mane was as pink as cotton candy." Star Swirl booped the princess on the nose with the tip of his hoof smartly, "Now your hair is a rainbow, and Lunas is a collection of stars. My word, we have a lot of catching up to do."

You know, I wanted to ask why Star Swirl already knew how not to speak ye olde english but at this point I didn't care enough to blow cover from under the bed. Most I knew he was an eccentric pony in the past, maybe he had been so genius to predict speech a thousand years in the future or something, Wish I could sleep, would too if it wasn't for this pain in the center of my back and the corner of that box pressed into my head.

"Yes, we do!" Celestia had responded, "Luna, shall we retire to the mess hall and fill our mentor in?"

Luna, responded to my relief, "We would sister, but we still need to prepare for the approaching Night. Besides, we have talked a lot on your way up here. It wouldn't be fair for us to occupy the two of you when we will have all night."

I think Celestia was too busy to notice Luna distancing herself from her sister a bit with the use of the royal we over the personal term, but I would be lying if I didn't understand. Even if it was for your own good, being banished for a thousand years by family as well as the recent events didn't really shine in Celestia's favor either. Though Luna was loyal to Equestria, it would take a fair longer amount of time for the two sisters to reconcile. Especially after having showed Luna the Journal of Starswirl. I just wondered how much the Elements of Harmony affected her when she was de-Nightmare Mooned... As well as what the heck was digging into my back the longer I was under the bed. It had a point, a triangular one if my guess was correct. It also had a long spine attached to it. A quill maybe?

Starswirl also deflected Celestia away from Luna's judgement, albietly surprisingly subtle for a stallion with a now flaming hairdo, "I do feel positively famished, has culinary culture changed over the past thousand years Tia?" He guided the solar Alicorn to the door.

Celestia's attention was completely occupied by Starswirl, "Certainly! You just have to try cloud cheesecake, it is a masterpiece. Ever since sugar was discovered-"

The conversation drowned itself out as they left the room and the doors shut, the noise turning into a murmur through the reinforced door and fading away as they made distance. After a few moments, I felt both a magic field envelop me and the hoof reaching under to help tug me out from under the bed, the thorn in my back getting dislodged in the process, and I managed to check to see what it was, and confirmed my suspicion that it was indeed a quill! I also noted the box was unlabeled, though appeared to be a shoe box.

Luna was sitting crosslegged, back resting on her headboard as she drug me out from the side and plopped me down to the other side of her. "This has been an exciting day." Luna stated calmly, "Though I still wonder by what lesson you think to teach by bringing back one of our oldest of friends."

"Eh. I'll let you think on it. Get back to me... Right now though..." I tried to continue on, "I feel rather..." I passed out again, the combination of a soft bed, and Lunas calming presence had quickly overcame the momentarily exhilaration of seeing Starswirl the flaming beard and the panic of Celestia nearly discovering me in the state that I was. The dreaming world taking sway over reality as unconsciousness took over.

My dreams took a familiar form. A long twisting and winding road lined by endless flowers. Myself in a car going down the road, more precisely in the back seat,as the old green military styled jeep, went down the road without a driver or even a single noise of the engine. I was looking out the window, imaginary chaos taking place as I watched imaginary and fictive characters try to outrace each other as random obstacles presented itself down the road. All interacting with each other as the villains they were. Trying to win by sabotaging each other or using clever tricks to momentarily get ahead of the rest before another villain did the same.

I watched them for a while, for how long I did not know before a new voice snapped me out of the spectacle, "This is what you dream of?" Luna asked, bringing into focus that I was not the only one along for the dream induced car ride.

"What can I say? The mind does what it wants." I responded, without thought, as I turned to face the other direction, Luna present in the passenger seat, past her on the right side of the car, heroes doing much the same as the villains were on the other side. My attention being slowly drawn from the immediate surroundings as countless rectangles of memory appeared. Cartoons, anime, fictive works of literature rolling off the pages, and a sky filled with countless starry nights worth of stars and constellations. A hoof brought my face at attention to Luna, who was staring at me. My masked face. Still there even in dreams. I hadn't really noticed, but now I was even more frustrated at it for some reason.

"This isn't the chaos of Discord, though it isn't order as well." Luna commented, before turning to face the front of the endless winding road, "Pray tell do you know where this road leads?"

"Why would it matter?" I asked simply, "It is a dream correct?"

"One can find great meaning in dreams." Luna spoke with sage like wisdom, "Like all paths, it must end somewhere."

I considered it with a long hum, and thought deeply as the road went on, and on, episodes one by one trailing on, heroes and villains began to disappear as their franchises ran out of episodes, movies, or books. Soon only a few were left of the original racers as newer villains and heroes joined in. "Perhaps, it is the journey and not the destination that this car seeks. The destination being the point past where all stories are told to their fullest."

Like that the road faded away, the running heroes and villains all appearing at once, stuck in their various high-points of their animated and fictive lives, the jeep fading away and us suddenly being standing, in front of a large library of knowledge as texts and books floated into its open doors. The scene faded away to villains reconciling with heroes, a surprisingly friendly chatter, of hundreds of voices at once. Luna surveyed on with me my mindscape, and I surveyed with her.

I looked to Luna, and she looked on, watching as countless alien like beings in their true shapes continued to chatter, and talk. Though like all good things it quietly came to an end as each hero and their villains, collected themselves, and faded into books. Each book lining a shelf of the massive library as we entered it. Like that, a library in dreams gave way to interesting scenery. A field of moon lit flowers in the central plaza of the library with an unoccupied piano in its exact center. The ceiling above was gone to reveal that brilliant moonlit scene of endless images and stars which shed rays of thin crystalline almost solid appearing rays of dancing lights, appearing like a silvery aurora before fading and reappearing as though curtains drifting in and out of reality.

Luna was a bit surprised at the scene, I was as well a fair bit, but I did appreciate the scene it brought to my eyes as well. Music I didn't even know was playing faded away a fair bit to near silence as we approached the piano, and Luna sat down near the seat, and gestured me to take the seat itself. Her eyes spoke a question that needed answering, What was next?

I considered it, a few ideas flickering by visibly, a small scene of a sonata stowed its way back into its book. Too cheesy at this point. Something exciting? No, not quite the time for it. Then it struck me, a brilliant idea. I was a strange man with fantastic devices who lived in a castle far from ordinary. In this realm, there would be no better choice. I sat down, and began to play. I knew not the piano and how to play it, but the notes themselves slowly began to play, taking shape of a miniature moving castle.

Luna turned to watch as the small thing grew to the size of a pumpkin, and began to walk across the piano in a large circle. Its loping grate revealing itself as a small man came out, waving at Luna, before turning into a bird and flying away. As it was away a small child emerged, took one look at her, and raised up his hood, before growing a beard with magic as another small girl appeared and got medicine from the disguised kid before leaving. On the other end of the table, a small hat shop rose, and a young woman emerged, as well as the witch who would curse her with age. The tale commenced, as the woman went to find the wizard, the later returning only after she found and got onto her castle, the later turning around to provide a cutout view of the inside of it, as the granny turned hat shop woman slowly grew to love her new family, and them her. Her age seeming to disappear into only being grey hair at the end of a long tale. The Song repeating the entire time, occasionally changing in pace to match the flow of the story. Slowly, for the sad bits, and faster for the action scenes.

By the time the tale had concluded, Luna had been transfixed by the tale, and after it ended I gave the song a play through once more as the small group of people gave a theater stage type bow all together, and even though the story had lacked words, it truly didn't need them. Actions had spoken louder than words, and Luna gave a small applause for them, and me by extension. As I ended the last round of the song, I asked Luna, "What would you like to do now?"

"Well it is a dream, so we could relax for a small while before each of our duties drag this dream away, correct? That is if you don't mind me being here."

"Not at all." I said, moving myself from the wooden chair to the ground of moonlit flowers next to her. The flowers themselves were particularly radiant, and only grew more so the longer we stayed in this setting.

It was a while before either of us spoke, both just admiring the scenery around us. Luna was first to comment, "I imagine, if Twilight Sparkle was here, she'd be pouring over every book in this library and already nose deep in at least a fifth of them."

I chuckled, "She wouldn't leave my mind for weeks if that was the case. She would probably put me to sleep for months on end if she saw this sort of mental arrangement of knowledge from outside of Equis."

"True." Luna rolled her eyes playfully, her voice with mirth, "We have visited Twilight before in her sleep. It is an endless sea of books most of the time."

"What is your opinion on the star pupil of Celestia anyway?" I asked, curious since Luna was the one to bring her up.

Luna sighed, "She is talented, and intelligent, but quite... Inexperienced to adversity, and social problems. She reminds me of... well me. When we heard of the Mare do Well incident in Ponyville, we hardly believed the magnitude of the blunder that the rest of the bearers did to alienate their Element of Loyalty, Rainbow Dash."

"Posing as a superhero, upstaging your friend, and then bragging about it to her face was hardly the correct thing to do to correct Ego."

I posed the point, and Luna asked, pressing my line of thought deeper, "What do you consider would of been the correct line of action?"

"Just talking about it with her, get her to understand her flaw with examples. Instead of Mare Do Well, just check her on the ego by correcting mistakes she makes because of it. Mare do Well didn't need to stop a carriage, Applejack did." I gave the counter point, and continued to elaborate, as the library faded away to the memory, the field of flowers and pianos remaining nicely behind as we saw the scene in reenactment.

Where Mare do Well was replaced with Applejack out of costume, saving the carriage of ponies, and having a few words with Rainbow in the distance about how her Ego had almost gotten a lot of people, including herself hurt. Rainbow was many things, but stupid wasn't one of them. Just doing that could of solved the problem neatly and prevented the slew of problems that arrived afterwards including her defection thanks to everypony including Applejack making the situation worse in the end. Again that slew of Applejack singing her own praises about how Humble Mare do Well was irking me as strangely out of character for the normally polite and actually humble farm mare. Guess I had to reconsider my opinion of her as well.

"What Twilight and company did was temporarily take over what Rainbow was doing, shut her down, and quit afterwards. Now who's going to stop a runaway carriage or save some unfortunate who falls down a well? They act, but do not consider consequences for what actions they take." Mental image of Rainbow Dash ranting back in her home was evidence enough of that. Loyalty had been betrayed, and it would take a lot of effort for anyone to fix that with what had happened. Loyalty did not mean blind acceptance, it meant that you could trust one another and make sacrifices. What they tried to do was essentially clip her wings in terms of personality.

I rolled my eyes as the scene vanished to show each of the mane six standing side by side with a beam of light on all of them but Rainbow, "Imagine what would happen if they tried that stunt on any of the rest of them."

Rarity delit, speaking for herself, "What do you mean I'm VAIN?"

Twilight next, her current mistakes in using magic to forcefully solve problems constantly backfiring, "What do you mean that magic isn't the solution for anything?!"

Applejack, her stubbornness and pride getting the best of her tone of voice, "I am not prideful! I'm just telling the truth!"

Fluttershy, a crying wreck. Too busy sobbing to get a word out.

Pinkie Pie, Mane deflated, looking like a horror story ready to happen in the ordinarily cheerful world of Equestria, just giggling to herself.

The images vanished shortly after and Luna rolled her eyes, "We can see your point, none of the Element bearers are for a lack of a better word, 'perfect'. But this mistake could cost not only them their friendship but Discord his freedom should they remain apart, not to mention any number of dangers that Equestria might yet face."

"I'm working on it." I said confidently, as the music resumed softly in the background.

Luna sighed, and relented, letting the newest round of music catch her ears and leaned back into my side as it continued. We sat there a while longer staring into the starlit horizon, as the field of flowers grew larger and began to cover the empty scene, each blooming beautifully. Slowly, I plucked one out of the ground, and put it in Lunas mane. A useless gesture, as it wouldn't be there when she left or we awoke. But I thought it added a nice touch. My left arm intertwined with her right, and what felt like an eternity of peace continued onward. But like all wonderful dreams, it must slowly come to an end.

To pull the Heartstrings

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Luna was the first to awake, her presence fading away from the dream after an eternity of staring at the shifting night sky. Soon after, I came to wake, to Luna laying beside me, propped on one elbow, with a hoof resting against her cheek as she stared at me, I slowly blinked and stared back. She looked to be considering something, but what I didn't know. I was still sore, but at least now I could move, and with that movement I rolled onto my side as well.

"You are a most curious creature, Puppet Master." Luna said, and I sighed, with a small grin responded.

"Please, call me Xander." At her curious expression I continued, "Its my name, what friends call me."

"Ah the Griffonic method of naming." Luna nodded, "Very well. Xander." She booped me. What was with ponies and booping today? Well tonight; as the window outside had clearly changed from midday to night time.

I slowly sat up, and Luna did likewise, swapping to a kneeling posture on both knees as I brought myself to the edge of the bed and continued sitting there as I stood up. Still taller than me sitting down on her bed than I was standing on the ground, "I take it it is time for you to go home?" Luna inquired.

"I need to make sure everypony is alright at home." I said truthfully. Without me to power GLaDOS, the mask was likely on the ground back in the cave of the dragon. Which meant that I didn't know to the state of the rest of the base. In combination if something happened while I was gone, that would be unforgivable on my part. I genuinely liked most of the people staying in my home, and it would be remiss if I was to be gone for too long.

However, as I donned my massive sleeved coat and strapped the marionette tool back to my side, I knew I would need to take the long route home. GLaDOS had the portals and the rest of the puppets had been left back at home. As much as I would like to, I simply couldn't create a puppet across the country without line of sight at least. That, and for the first time in long while I didn't have coverage over Ponyville either anymore.

There was a desire, of course, to keep talking to Luna. She was adorable and drop dead gorgeous for a humanoid pony after all. Alongside a great personality and fun aura about her since the Star Swirl event had faded away the gloom she had first had. But a new voice on the other side of the door interrupted another train of thought.

"I am here to report with Princess Luna about the Night Guard." A murmured reply, "Someone is already visiting the princess? Who?"

The voice was Shining Armor. I and Luna locked gazes, and I looked to her balcony door. Beginning to head towards it. Luna caught my motive, and got up heading in the same direction as I was, unlocking the door with her magic as we reached the balcony.

The door burst open as the balcony doors opened alongside them, as a fully armored Shining Armor entered the room. "Puppet Master! Halt! You are under arrest!"

I winked to Luna, as I made ready to jump, "Sup Shining Armor? Well Luna, I believe we shall meet another night perhaps."

"Indeed, it has been a pleasure." Luna smiled, and as Shining charged across the room, Luna did a surprising thing.

A kiss. On the cheek, but a kiss no less. I froze, as she smiled, and gestured me to go ahead. My mind, unprocessing, went forward. Air flew past me as I fell, briefly I recalled the last time I fell from such a height as I heard Shining armor cursing me out from the balcony above. None of the night guard moved to intercept me, other than a token slow fly, one of them staring at me in disbelief as I fell.

I was elated, and digging in my pockets in mild panic now. Last time I fell from such a height a mask broke. Now I needed to take care that I didn't break.

I tossed a set of cards ahead of me, stacking them as they enlarged, and caught onto them as they began to slow down my ascent at a reasonable rate. Last thing I wanted after... That was to be smashed by the pavement. Again. After that it was like a glider, heading towards my descent as I glided above Canterlots various buildings. Starting from over the noble quarters and gliding all the way over to the train station, where I hid in the cargo car inside a card that was destined for Ponyville. Surprisingly Shining Armor didn't chase me like that first day, I was glad since I was still far stronger than I was when we first clashed, but the first time had been a victory of sheer luck as well. After the conductor checked the baggage car for stowaways, dismissing my card as a painting someone must of brought aboard, they closed the door and the train was on its way.

I exited the card and sat down on a case of luggage as the train pressed onward throughout the night. I sat in the confining box as the hours rolled by, Daybreak forming before arriving in Ponyville. I was too excited to try and sleep in the cargo car. Luna had kissed me. The Princess of the night, formerly Nightmare Moon had kissed me. Now that I had a proper moment inside the car, I cheered, and continued to cheer until my bodys soreness pressed me to sit down again as I reviewed my dream, unlike most that faded away after waking, thanks to Lunas involvement, I remembered every detail of it. Would I of considered that Dream a date then? Or just hanging out? The dream itself also sparked new ideas of things to craft. Even though I didn't call myself a Gardener, the memory was too priceless to not attempt to make the scene a reality. Not that I even had the faintest idea of how to play the piano, or how I was going to replicate even half of what had occurred in there. Maybe I'd start at the Flowers. The heavens mirror flower had looked great in Luna's mane in the dream.

My mind wandered, to the rest of the dreamscape and some words began to wonder. Yoko calling Aku not tragic, in particular. As well as the various villains and heroes I'd seen in my dreams. I looked to my gloves, themed after a hero's tool in another series, and began to wonder more. Was the tragic villain masks really a restriction? Or could I make more? Experiments and creations were now abound and brimming as the rest of the ride to Ponyville went by uneventful. However, when I arrived, a giant purple dragon was terrorizing ponyville in the early morning. The hell?

Spike was about towards the later half of his episode, if I vaguely recalled. The Wonderbolts had already arrived, and were trying to stop the rampaging dragon, but I didn't recall this episode very much. I could see Rarity pony-napped by the dragon, but I could recall the exact details of what happened. It had been a while, and not every episode was laser imprinted on my brain with exact accuracy. I was pretty sure Rainbow was supposed to distract the dragon from finishing off the Wonderbolts, who were currently now trapped beneath a water-tower lid in the side of a small mountain's side.

Sighing, as this was the last thing I had on my agenda, I considered my options of distracting the rampaging greed-growth dragon. Cards? Burnt to a crisp if I tried. Explosions? Maybe, but I didn't have enough of a magic supply to use those willy nilly. Puppets? Same as cards I supposed but more expendable. I dug around in my pockets, the rosary on my shoulder coming to life on its own accord as I prepared for the worst. I couldn't drain Spike, I didn't know what that would cause on him and he was a really good person at heart. I'll use a hit and run tactic.

I expanded three cards to support me in a fast manner and flew towards the dragon. Unlike the weaving and graceful flying of the Wonderbolts, I came at him almost dead on and rolled back my sleeve as the dragon roared. I'd make a quick distraction to get him away from the wonderbolts and let Rarity handle the rest.

"HI SPIKE! BYE SPIKE!" I yelled in panic as I snapped with my gloved hand, causing a chain of explosions to bounce off his hide and get his attention. I ducked into the Everfree to throw him off but the job was done. At least in my book as the rest of the episode continued on normally. Briefly I heard Twilight yell, "What?!" but that was the only other divergence. I'd come back later to deal with the aftermath...

Or the aftermath could chase after me, I had assumed too soon, and now Spike was chasing me, proclaiming my stuff to be his. Bugger off Spike I made this stuff, its mine! I scattered cards in every direction, confusing the simple mind induced greed dragon as I split off into fifty directions at once, the cards scattering among the start of the forest being enough to disperse his attention in my direction anyway as he brought his focus back to climbing the mountain he had left the still Dazed Wonderbolts stuck in. I took a breather as I was climbing my own mountain, sticking my upper body out of a card as I enjoyed the wind flowing past me up the ascent of the mountain. Cards recollecting themselves, and all but three fading back into a deck in my hands as the rest supported my ascent back up the mountain.

Once I had reached the peak of the mountain I took a good look behind me as a trio of puppets marched forth ahead of me. Spike was still rampaging, however my little stunt hadn't set the show on course. He was still rampaging on his own mountain now, and that had angered another dragon in a different set of woods. A green one actually this time. I vaguely recalled this one from some episode where spike got a case of 'oh no i'm being replaced' by an Owl of all things. Now the dragons were fighting. Well it would be fighting if they were properly doing it with fire and slashes. The scene I was witnessing instead was something out of a childrens cartoon.

Spike and the other dragon were pansy slapping at each other their faces turned away from each other. Each one trying to find purchase or bruise the other with the palm of their claws ineffective against each others scales. It would be completely silly if the force wasn't enough to cause local trees around them to be swaying backwards from the force. But it only grew worse the more I looked at it. They soon added their tails to the mix and eventually began headbutting each other. All the while a small purple mare and a white mare in a hot air balloon now were trying to get them both to stop.

Eventually the green one tried to breathe regular dragonfire at the balloon. This caused Spike to snap, yell something that even I could distantly hear as if a whisper, "THOSE ARE MY FRIENDS!" and grab the dragon by the snout, huck him off the mountain, and jump off himself to piledrive the green drake at the forest below. Then spike breathed a gout of green fire onto the dragon, and then the dragon... vanished?

I tried to figure out what happened as the puppets finally managed to pry open the hidden door, thankfully intact, and meander in to grab the GLaDOS mask discarded on the floor. Briefly I noted that the rest of the facility had just fallen inert, though after putting it back on, the various mechanical defenses and cameras had been vanished. Now with power restored I could get a better look as I tried to put two and two together.

Lets see. Dragons are immune to lava, so burning to ashes is out. Spike mails things with his green fire. Wait...

Oh god no.

I turned cameras to Canterlot and zoomed in as far as I could go just in time to see a green dragon form in the far far far distance away struggling to get out of the throneroom. While a swarm of angry bugs in my eyes, Royal guards probably in actuality were jabbing at the poor thing, some trying to pull it out, and others pushing. The dragon itself looked massively confused, as if in the last few moments since it was teleported straight to Celestia that it had received a massive flash grenade to the face. I opened a portal and dropped a camera for a better look at a closer point, and I could see the dragon was smoking, a good portion of its scales turned black around its hindquarters, and a rather pissed off Sun-Alicorn flying straight at Ponyville.

Two and two went together and made a four, but I refused to believe it. Spike, in his rage, had mailed an entire dragon to Celestia. And then Celestia had been sat on most likely, and then proceeded to blast the dragon off of her? She wasn't crushed by its massive weight? I didn't give Celestia enough credit it seems. Though I do hope she regained her usual calm by the time she reached Ponyville. Unlike Trixie, Tia couldn't pull of Tsundere. She was much too... Royal for that kinda attitude. Even Luna was more informal than her sister, and she was a thousand years behind where tradition and the royal canterlot voice were massive indicators. My attention, and cameras returned to focus on Spike as he was shrinking down, his friends talking him down and calming him down. For the most part they looked unhurt. That was good.

Though I now had about a few dozen more questions for Celestia in 'Why the fragging heck would you leave Twilight Sparkle as a child to handle a creature that can turn larger than a skyscrapper if it got a bit greedy' Or if she 'didn't know' why the hell she'd let her student have something that even she did not know would happen with. Not that I disliked Spike but this was a serious safety hazard on par with letting a ten year old child having a lizard that breathes fire and has a lighter for the tip of a tail as a pet in the middle of a forest that never seems to rain. No even worse, since that professor knew just what he was giving that kid! I left three cameras to monitor both Canterlot, Spike and company, and Celestia's progress as I went back inside myself.

The Elevator had been dropped into the abyss far below, and as I worked to replace it, I made a temporary elevator system using portals instead to go visit the living level. There I found several people awaiting for me in the main hallway.

"Boss, what happened to the power?" Amber was the first to notice me, and as per usual straight to the point as I made my entrance, "The base has been down for ages, had to use candles and stuff to light the place up for several hours while we tried to figure out what happened."

Yoko joined in next, "Thought you had been captured or turned to stone or something. We were planning a rescue team."

Trixie, who looked like she was trying and failing to be mildly upset instead of full blown, "Trixie was working on the most fabulous plan to convince Sparkle to destone you."

Cass cut in deadpan, "Your plan was to beg her and cry until she submitted or at least get yourself stoned in a method that would of proven most inconvenient for Twilight."

Trixie looked abashed, "Th-that's not how it was going to go."

Amber chuckled, "You were prancing circles for hours in worry girl, stop playing coy."

"Uh..."I began, breaking my usual composure, I was mildly... Well shocked. They were going to go set up a rescue attempt? I mean I could see Cass trying to do something like that, since I gave her limbs again. But all of them? I thought Amber was only in it for the money, Trixie in here for no better reason than it was a place to stay. Yoko probably would of been sent back to her 'home' dimension in the event I 'was' dead, so her rescue attempt would of failed had I been deceased by stone. I continued on my sentence, not sure where else to go with it for once, "Well... I'm here...?"

I got a punch in the arm by Yoko, not an easy thing to shrug off and left my arm massively sore for the sentence, "You, me. Training hall, tomorrow morning." She told me sternly, "You are going to learn to fight."

My mind reeled at that, "Uh, no offense, but I think one hit of either of your weapons, or a full powered punch might just kill me Yoko." She glared at me, so I continued, "Besides, I know how to fight." As I brought forth some puppets next to me, only to get another punch to the arm, disrupting my concentration and causing the new ones to fade as I winced, "Owwwww."

"I mean in person. Your work when we first met was sloppy." Yoko's hard look continued on for a few seconds before it faded to a softer look, "Look, you worried us sick, and if I know you, you only have anime and video games to go off of. What if you come across an opponent who absorbs magic, or is highly skilled in melee combat?"

Amber grinned in the malicious fashion that only a griffon could properly pull off, "I call front row seats to this. Always wanted to see the boss get their flank handed to them in direct combat."

I sighed as Trixie chimed in, "Trixie thinks you should be worried about calling a front seat, The Great and Powerful Trixie hears the first three rows are something of a splash zone."

I sighed, "Well... Might as well let a few cats out of bags, and-"

"Keeping cats in bags are a horrible idea." Cass cut in earnestly and I continued on.

"Give the rest of you a bit more knowhow, since apparently this is happening." I said, and looked back to Amber, "I'm going to need to be somewhere for a bit, then I'll spend the rest of the night resting up for tomorrow. I have something I'd like to do first."

Yoko and Amber nodded, the later responding with, "Just don't go disappearing on us all day again Boss. Still want to hear about what happened to cause you to be gone this long anyway."

"All will be explained in due time." Mentally I berated myself. Few in the complex had known about the whole puppets thing, though oddly I saw Rainbow Dash was absent among the rest of them. Turning a Camera inward, revealed Rainbow to be sleeping with a tortoise in her bed. Easily visible through an open window in the underground Cloud House. I sighed in relief. "I hope someone will keep Rainbow occupied, since I'd rather not blow all my secrets to a member of the Elements of Harmony just yet though."

"I'll have a few mercs I've recruited keep her busy with tales of Griffonia and some sparring." Amber offered, and I nodded my thanks.

"Thank you Amber, now I can concentrate on the goals ahead for now. I'll be back in a bit."

I went back to the storage area of my bedroom to take a look at my belongings. Turning to concentrate on my GLaDOS puppet, I began to print out a book with a gold case and pages. Filling it rapidly with legends and stories, far from the lengthy novels they originally were, I filled in the few missing gaps, and even converted a few games into stories but after a solid half an hour of work, I was staring at the first proper non-prop item I had made in a decent while.

It was as thick as spike was, and filled with legends of dragons. It started with one that could be considered closest to Spike, in that it started with the legend of a small purple dragon named Spyro, but other dragons were included with their own tales and legends. Dragons such as Saphira from Eragon, Firedrake from Dragonrider, and even the lore of several dragons within an older MMO of my youth, world of warcraft. Including the kind Alexstrasza and her tragic tales and the equally tragic tale of the corruption of Deathwing, the former warden of the earth in that game. Others joined afterwards, providing a myriad of details and even including pictures of each dragon, left unaltered. As for the Title, I left it as 'Dragons of Other Worlds'.

Some entries had some of my own head canons to fill in some missing information that I had forgotten over the years, and I left some a bit more open to interpretation, but the point of the storybook was to give Spike a bit of a birthday present. I might admit that I had a soft spot for the drake. Dragons were cool, and the bullying the universe gave him in the show was plainly unfair. That and I do love that he is a deadpan snarker type as they shine in pointing out how idiotic certain plans are.

Once it was done, I tried to pick it up. I groaned under the weight. Gold is freaking heavy. How do guards patrol wearing full damned suits of it!? I made three puppets carry it instead and sighed in relief before pinpointing the Drakes current location. He was in the library, laying down after having returned all the I'll gotten goods. Twilight had left a window open, and now I knew how to enter. Grinning, I shot a portal from one point to a rooftop nearby, and from there, appeared on the rooftop with my puppets, and shot another one inside.

Spike sat up straight looking around in shock when he heard the pwoosh of a portal opening up. He was more shocked, when I came through it. "Woah, uh-" He was about to shout for Twilight but I cut him off.

"Please calm yourself. I'm not here to cause trouble today, quite the opposite." I said in the most gentlemanly tone I could manage, considering I was talking to a young dragon who could mail me to Celestia at a moments notice.

Thankfully, Spike was very smart. He gave me a quizzical eyebrow raise however, "And what do you mean by that? Are you here to ask for an apology for earlier?"

"No, no. I understand that was..." I paused, and thought a moment, or well pretended to, "Greed Growth, was it? Yes." I said more to myself than to Spike, "But I wanted to celebrate the occasion of your birthday, since everything has calmed down now."

Spike looked suspicious, "Right, and I should take your word that it isn't some crazy scheme to turn me against Twilight, why? You already took Rainbow Dash from us after all. For all I know, you're planning some trick."

I dropped my aloof expression, and gave him a serious one, my tone changing to a deeper respect and authority oriented one that would match more of a wise sage instructing his skilled student, "Spike, there is nothing I value more than those who are willing to learn and listen if given the chance. I take the matter seriously, and thus I appreciate that you learned about how to better conduct yourself today, and thus want to give you an opportunity to learn about something I know you've been dying to know about."

Spikes suspicion gave way to curiosity as well as skeptism at the same time, "And that would be?"

"Dragons." I said, and the three puppets stepped through, golden book in hands, "This is a compiled book of legends of dragons from various places. I hoped to give this to you when the time was right."

Yes, play it off as if I hadn't recently just made this, "This book contains information regarding several dragons of legends from the place I come from. I hope you enjoy it."

The puppets dropped the book with a loud thunk that was enough to shake the nearby bookshelves and startle a certain unicorn downstairs. Already I could hear her hooves approaching. Spike looked at the solid gold book with disbelief, and I grinned at the expression, "Read it or don't, I'll enjoy a good conversation sometime if you do."

I dropped through the portal again with my puppets, it shutting behind us as we left not a moment too soon. Twilight came in, "Spike, what are you doing in her-" Twilights eyes lit up, "Is that a solid gold book?"

"Yeah, that weird puppet dude came by and wanted to wish me a happy birthday of all things, told me I should read it." Spike said, "Though it looks like it'd be a bit heavy to lug around."

I chuckled from my viewpoint, as Twilight was torn between suspicion, curiosity since it was a new book, and well, the sort of zealous instinct only a bibliophile could properly have. Spike, understanding this deftly waived through the situation, "If you want we could read it together, you know so you can check for anything weird he might of done to the book. He said it was about dragons from wherever he came from."

I grinned as they continued to chat, and warped home. As I got ready for bed, I had a small grin, and whispered to myself, "Happy Birthday Spike."

Adjusting some Strings

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Skargor was patient by Ork standards. He understood the requirement for it. The necessity that it was to run a proper Waaagh. As fun as it was to race ahead of the rest of the boys in the army, and feel the enemy firsthand, it was a double sided blade. Those who raced ahead first also died first, while a well organized army who arrived all at the same time however, crushed the enemy.

Victory, however, was not his primary concern. By all rights he had destroyed the remainder of the Equestrian nations, claimed all they once held dear to the horde of Orks who revered him as their god of the Waaagh, and now there was no one left in this universe to fight. He was bitter, Yoko, the one he wanted to kill almost as much as the damned solar monarch. Now they were both gone, without the thrill of the fight. One having blown themselves up, the other...

He stared to the abyss.

It would of been a good fight. One that had been denied by a turncoat. Though that feat itself was no easy thing in of itself. He was now maimed, that made it more of a challenge. Which made the fight harder, and by relation better. But the fight was not in this dead world. Not in this dead universe ruled by the Orks. He felt the connection growing, the only time he had traveled to that turncoats world, he had left the eventual seeds of his invasion.

He stared at the abyss.

He had changed, those cursed Elements of Harmony had broken his godly form. Their last ditch efforts now a horrendous pentagon of scars upon his body, their burned out husks now jagged crystals permanently in his form. He could no more take them out than rip the remainder of his own divinity out. His good fight, however, was not ready for him. He needed something stronger. Orks grew off fighting good fights. No glory to be had to Gork and Mork if you fought and beat a weaker opponent. Would be like beating a Gretchin, not satisfying.

He stared at the abyss and grinned.

No, he would grow this turncoat. His once rival no longer had the tools to hurt him further. His token was already there. A copy squirreled away in the feral tribe of Orks currently living right beneath the damned Puppet's nose. But with his token there, he could call others to fight him. Make his power grow, get rid of annoyances as well. A win win situation. Should the turncoat lose, then he wasn't a challenge worth fighting. His burly hands, charred, gripped a gold necklace. Another person of another multiverse. He would enjoy playing the game of politician.

He stared at the abyss. Where once Equis and its celestial bodies stood, and grinned.

"Oh I know just the roulette of fighters for you Puppet Master. Let the games begin." He raised the gold circular neckband and began the process. Channeling and calling forth his first fighter. "Lets see how you deal with this one."

He stared at the abyss of Equis, as he was dragged into another world, one similarly empty for a completely different reason. Where Equis was cold and dark, where one other being lived in the castle of a kingdom in revolt. Its world devoid of day and night, a perpetual twilight.

Skargor began to laugh.The abyss laughed with him.


Meanwhile back in Puppets Dimension


The disadvantage of being an insomniac is that, short of being bone dead tired, is that it is near impossible to go to sleep unless your body let you after hours and hours of laying in bed. I, in preparation for Yoko, began a series of mask maintenance and the creation of spare props while I laid in bed during the night. Several hours passed by before my concentration waned enough to pass out, and with my body getting much needed sleep. It was probably the first night since coming to Equestria that I actually had more than eight hours of sleep, thanks to turning in so early in the evening.

When I woke however, it was three in the morning. Most of it had passed by in a black void of dreamlessness that left me feeling like it had only been fifteen seconds of unconsciousness. The laptops clock, however, told otherwise. I let my body rest some more as I thought about just who I was going to be sparing with. In our youth, Yoko had been a semi reserved childhood friend, only picking up a more unreserved style of play when we had begun first playing Warhammer 40k, Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, and others. In the first one, most of her characters had been melee specialists, with fury to rival a berserker in battle, but an analytical type when involved with planning wars. She preferred hit and run tactics enough that some of the chapters of space marines who preferred such things, as well as some of the races who were specialized in it would of probably of wanted her characters among their ranks.

I on the other-hand would focus on ranged fire characters or technical support wheras I would lead a military to fortify the hell out of everything in sight to the point that a stronghold became its own massive weapon, costing the enemy a good portion of their forces just to advance inch by inch towards it. Our strategies had complimented each other in that past. She would stall the enemy, destroy supply lines and hit then where they weren't before withdrawing at the same rapid pace while I would make the stronghold to break their back upon the walls. We covered each others weaknesses back then. My fortifications would fall eventually if the enemy had a constant supply line for their siege engines, while Yokos forces would of been decimated in a straight up fight, surrounded without a fort to fall back to. It had taken about three planets before the game master of that particular game banned us from taking direct command of military forces. Yoko, had found this hilarious.

There was another factor though that I had to consider, Yoko had fought in at least a war against Orks. Let alone actually having fought any of the other xenos threats that could of lived in that universe. So I was fighting someone who was now a super soldier, with a lot more practical military experience, and as a result a far higher amount of resultant combat experience. So in other words, in an orthodox combat, I was facing a high likely hood of outright failure in a melee. So instead I worked on building a helmet. Specifically one tailored towards a combination of irony as well as hopefully catching her off guard. Renovations also started to occur as I started a pair of helmets. They wouldn't have enough time to dry properly, but it would prove a bit of a surprise if she tried to advance to a 'war game' state with this 'training' she was planning.

In the meantime I was preparing a salvo, and choosing which weapon I was going to go with. The lightsaber was out, we had no way to replace a Chain-sword properly if I cut through it, and I didn't want to risk a slip in either hurting her or myself. That left one of my other pet projects considering my general lack of skill in swordplay. There was the keyblade, which had a rebar center that was then wrapped in various amounts and styles of foam, it was heavy but sturdy. Little better than a baseball bat in my grip... No that wouldn't do very well. I considered my options. Regular training swords would be lost upon Yoko, her immense strength as a space marine would snap a log like a twig. Let alone a wooden practice blades.

Yokos tool she had acquired from her merchant was a heavy bolter alongside eventually a chain sword. A gun in short, while mine was puppets. This was a warrior trying to teach a summoner to sword fight. I had relied on puppets heavily, and the tools I've made. None of what I used personally was a direct melee weapon in comparison. Always figured if I was in melee combat, something had gone seriously wrong. I examined myself.

I was short, not strong, and about average in terms of agility in my size. My legs were far stronger than my arms, more used to fine tuning and carving than heavy manual labor, as well as traveling about the place. Wielding a heavier weapon like the sturdy keyblade would be downright a no. I needed a light weapon then with reach, to keep the enemy away from me. Whips were out, they were useless against armor unless built for overkill, nor did I want to risk hurting myself with the backlash of using one. Spears were easy to counter.

Wait, there was another solution. I grinned, and began searching through more tools I had made in my spare time, mostly since I wanted to have a large variety and during offtime, it was fun to carve out new items from foam and refine my skill. This had lead to me collecting a large selection of gear. Similar to how the cards and keyblade came from kingdom hearts, other tools had also been made from that particular organization. What I was looking for, however, was one item in particular.

Vexan, he was an organization leader with a shield called the Frozen Pride The base material had been cut out with a bit of laser on thin metal action with GLaDOS also bending it into the correct shape before being covered in foam and cut to proper appearance. The Arm guard was also based on the original design, with a modifiable element to it, depending on who was going to wield it. I had briefly during creation had the temptation to give it to Fluttershy for her own protection but its effects and the lore behind the weapon would of been lost on her. That and the foam would require constant maintenance between battles until I learned of a proper way to smith than just using GLaDOS to cut crude metal sheets from wall panels.

The shield itself appeared like a blue upside-down tear drop with two chunks taken out of the side, and another two towards the point of it. A group of four small spikes lined the rounded edge of the teardrop shaped shield with a fifth one in the center that was far larger. It probably wouldn't be able to sustain that gun of hers for very long, but it would work out as a decent defense as a mage type. Defense of my own person should be a decent enough offense considering that the puppets do most of the work for me. So I could multitask as well then with the marionette tool and the shield. I also had to remember that I still wore the rosary shield and the other little tricks, but this was weapon training. Not gimmicks everywhere day.

I took a good chug of two mugs worth of coffee while sitting in bed before cleaning up both the room and myself, alongside swapping my usual robes out for a more gym appropriate workout clothes. Shield, check. Marionette tool, check.
Loose fitting but secured combat pants and shoes? check. As for the different robe, I might as well have some fun with what I was going to be using as a defense weapon for today.

I drug out one last item from the collection of Kingdom hearts memorabilia that I had made and grinned, putting it on over a light shirt and zipping it up nice and snug. Perfect fit. The only thing left was to flip up the hood and I'd be the worlds shortest Organization XIII member. Instead of Black Gloves, I wore the usual ones, and flipped the contents of my robes pockets into this one. It felt right to have the deck of cards especially in this coat. Though now I was really tempted to show Yoko more of my work. I'd show her more later. But for now, I had a few puppets put on some masks and made my way out of my room and headed towards the training room. Yoko wanted me to be there early in the morning.

Once there I began to set up shop proper, I had altered and enlarged the room to support some bleachers near the entrance, as well as a variety of sparing and dueling areas including an obstacle course for the more physically inclined. I set up a throne and began to wait in the center of one of the dueling rooms. Hood up, and waiting for the others to arrive. The shield vanished into thin air for summoning later, as I waited for them to come. The various masks being laid on a set up table next to me.

I knew a lot of them, including the mane six and the princesses already had some knowledge regarding the masks, in hind sight using the Bowser mask in front of them during my debut probably wasn't the best idea. However, they didn't know just how many of my minions WERE masks. Thus the secrecy of keeping this particular training session from Rainbow Dash. In the instance that she went back to her old friends, she wouldn't have this particular bit of information to share to affirm the fact that most of my super powered buddies were indeed puppets. As a result their combat efforts would be mostly restrained, unless the information was completely blown in which case a severe lack of self restraint would begin to be present among all hostile forces that would see me dead in stone.

My mind began to wander as I waited, but soon enough everyone began to gather, and then Yoko walked into the room. My mind went on high alert.

To make a String out of you

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Skargor was used to seeing this twilight doomed world. He had visited it in the past, and often remarked how ordinary it was in comparison to the Canterlot his mortal enemy had. It was weak, the guards ordinary and armed with spears instead of guns, and its defenses couldn't keep a civilian out, let alone its current inhabitant or a goblin like gretchin. He knew this Displaced woman who had accounted for the lack of life remaining well.

If he were to look out the window, he would see the continuous spread of corruption. Plunder seeds, not kept back by the long since dead tree of harmony. Countless bits of clothes and armor strewn about the cities with not a single soul in sight. The perpetual orange twilight would never change, those who had been responsible for it had been defeated and eaten in a swift strike rather than given the chance to even learn about her presence.

Skargor didn't particularly like her world. He preferred a good fight over all else. This sneaky girl had taken out all opposition with a combination of stealth assassinations before taking over the rest of Equestria with hillarious ease. He recalled what he had watched. Magic and the dragon, Kindness, Loyalty, Honesty, Generosity, Day, Night, Love, Armor, then finally laughter had been consumed in that order before the rest of the world began following suit. After her first few cities, she would only pause to take a long month long nap before resuming her gluttonous spree. The Elements of Harmony stuck behind a vault only the princess of the day could of opened, and the changeling invasion had only proven an afternoon snack for the monster of a displaced within.

She had eaten wars and consumed countless. Now he approached her, still far stronger even in his weakened state, far far away from his Waaagh. She had owed him a favor, for granting her other worlds to consume. Now he was going to finally spend a favor in order to get her to do what he wanted. As his large muscled hands pushed past the broken throne room doors, he laid eyes upon the monster who had ate the heroes who dared oppose her and grinned once more.

"Andrea. I call upon you to take your mantle once more." She was asleep, and he continued on, approaching the throne and grabbing her by the head, ignoring the deceiving softness and shaking her awake, "You have a job to do, and I want it done right."

Slowly the monster began to stir. Pink skin, white hair, and an appearance impossible for such a creature of gluttony. Skargor growled, "Up and at it Andrea. You have a job to do."

"But I'm hungrryyyyy."


Meanwhile back in Puppets Dimension... Again.


"Before we get down to business." Yoko stated, as she came walking in, fully geared and armored, "Let us see what you got."

Yoko's squad had taken up sitting on the left side of the door entrance, they were curious to how their leader would fair. On the opposite side as well were Trixie, Amber, Cass, Melody and a few other sirens and mercenaries. As Inquisitor Deargon had the interest as well of the Space Marines in Yokos charge, so too did the ponies wonder how my friend would fair against me. The tension was there, in their gazes. Though to answer Yoko's question I gestured to the array of masks on the ground around me, and brought forth the shield from its hidden state, Marionette tool in the other hand. With what I imagined was an elegant wave, I brought forth a row of wooden puppets, each crouched down, and had them take up a mask each.

"For those who hadn't been paying attention or haven't seen this before. I shall reiterate my villain name and the explain the basics." I flourished as each mask took form on their puppets one after another in a smooth wave of transition.

It took about a second for each mask to become active, about as fast as I could collect the information of the villain donning the mask. All in all the ones I had chosen consisted of...

Aku, formed from darkness to be destroyed. He had transpired to survive the attempts on his life and conquer. For he was the shape shifting master of evil. His origins from a cartoon called Samurai Jack where he had escaped his own death countless times including the spectacular feat of hurling said samurai in the title so hard he didn't just go into next week, but fifty years into the future. His antics and comedy was only matched by his ruthless tactics and wide variety of mechanized minions.

Nox, formerly Noximilien Coxen, a Xelor, or time manipulator who was driven insane by his research into an ancient artifact called the Eliacube. When he lost his family due to a monsterous titan, he finally snapped off the deep end and vowed to rewind his lifes clock in order to save them. He had committed evil under the impression that he could gather enough energy to undo all the damage he had caused, and failed. Only rewinding time by a mere twenty minutes after hundreds years of effort. His sorrow for what he had done was the last thing left after that failure. A once proud family man destroyed by technology he had become obsessed with.

Bowser, King of the Koopa turtles and occasionally goombas, a villain who would only work with his enemy Mario to stop someone else from conquering the mushroom kingdom. Always doomed to failure he has however also shown not to be a complete monster. From engaging in family friendly activities like Mario Party and occasional bouts of saving the world for his own later attempts to gain rule over it. Ironic he only succeeds working alongside heroes in order to advance his own goals. Tragic as well that he will never have his love of his favorite princess met in turn.

Davy Jones, Captain of the Flying Dutchman who only became a monster once his heart was broken by a force of nature breaking their deal. His long years of service in combination with this betrayal eventually drove him mad and turned him into the ruthless pirate that he was, sending most souls to his locker, and only allowing a few of those he collected to serve an unnatural life aboard his ship. He had found his end in the whirling tide embrace of his former lover. A cruel end for a sad tale.

Ice King, a man driven mad by a cursed crown to forgetting almost everything and leaving a broken obsession for his 'Princess'. He had been a kind man before going mad, even going so far as to protect a small child during a post apocalyptic event during his slow transition to madness.

Several other puppets were being held back, not because of maintaining a limit, no, I needed them intact just in case I needed them. Several, like Mr. Freeze and Maleificent were held back because I had eventual plans to put in motion soon. Two in fact. Involving a certain stallion and a mare. So instead of bringing them out, I brought out a few other reserves, as a puppet slowly transitioned into a single giant floating hand.

"Master Hand? Seriously Xandy?" Yoko commented.

"I go with the self abuse with toys theory. You know, since they animated those statues." I shot back. Yoko considered it, and sighed, "Sort of see your point but that theory was made well before Brawl."

The hand was from a game series known as Super Smash Brothers Brawl, a massive fighting arena type game that threw together everything Nintendo had in terms of game characters both old and new into one game and told them to fight each other. The one responsible for animating them was the two hands called Master and Crazy who the players would defeat over the course of the campaign. Ironically ending the game as the hands no longer pulling the strings stopped doing so. In a way, it had been self abuse. Brawl had added in forcing them to animate the statues against their will with another villain becoming the boss behind them forcing them on. I still winced internally thinking of how they had been literally speared several times over with what was essentially magic harpoons. Puppeteering the former animator.

Alongside the puppets, their minions began to gradually spawn as well, with five puppets dedicated to each main puppet for now. Alongside myself, the array of Luxord's gambling cards had taken up a defensive ring around me, and grinned to her, "Whatcha think?"

Yoko whistled, "That's a lot of crossovers all at once. Glad they're puppets or I'd pinch myself, Luna, then you for this sort of thing to see if one of us wasn't dreaming." Her chainblade revved, "Though, interesting choice of marionettes and shield for personal weapons."

I shrugged, "I don't like direct confrontation. My Puppets may have super-powered muscles, but I'm still a squishy operator. Normally I'd be out of sight and operating remotely."

"Hence this practice." Yoko replied almost instantly, "Eventually you're going to find yourself in a situation where direct confrontation becomes inevitable."

"Sharp Opera did almost strangle you to death Boss." Amber quipped in from the sidelines, as if I needed to be reminded.

"So, in the case of this demonstration. Lets see how quickly I can get from here..." She gestured with her sword to the ground, "To in your face." Yoko pointed her sword at me, and I promptly began to close ranks. It was too late though.

There hadn't even been a sign of movement, One second she was still near the entrance of the room, and the next she had appeared in front of me with a flash of metallic colored lines being the only indicator before her sudden appearance.

"Sonido type Teleportation. Bleach." Yoko smirked, "You aren't the only one who can do crossovers. Met a lot of different genres of displaced people universe hopping around before Skargor made a mess of things."

She went to tap me in the forehead and I was pushed back easily, I sighed, "Right, so Teleportation is something to be wary of." I said, "Almost like-"

The cards swarmed her as I cut off my own sentence, and a chain blade began to tear into them, but when They parted I was gone, among two dozen other cards, and Dropped myself out of them, as they reconvened even tighter in formation around me, I continued on "Sudden surprises, or unexpected tactics."

Yoko grinned, and made to move again, but the bulwark was already in action. The problem about teleporting in front of me now made readily apparent as two walls of puppets began to intersect crossfire with Yoko. Minions giving a restrained offensive, not aiming to hurt, but rather connect with Yoko.

Yoko, made no such movements, her actions were quick, lethal, and with the grace befitting that of a dancer in heavy armor. The Sword connected lethal blow after lethal blow, the minion puppets breaking into splintered wood from rush tactics. When they failed, I switched tactics. Space marines could last weeks of fighting, so there wasn't the point of trying to wear her down, besides that would be boring to throw a wave of bodies at her until one of us ran out of energy. Instead the bosses of those minions began to move as the wave of minions ended. The first minion to meet the swing of her chainsword was Davy Jones.

Her stance became drastically different as I had him swing his sword. She began to comment as she parried and dodged each blow with ease, "You're relying on showman fighting Xandy. Big flashy swings, not quick and precise." She stabbed him twice to emphasize her point, the puppet however regenerated and continued to swing, aiming for her sword hand now, "Big and flashy blows are slow, and made to intimidate, however fast and agile opponents-" She cut the sword out of his hand, and the puppet went to grab the chainsword with his claw, it promptly lost the lower end of it as she twisted it to the side and tore through it like a woodchipper.

"Can abuse and exploit it." She finished as the Puppet of Davy Jone surrendered and retreated.

"Not going to stack em all on you at once!" I yelled over to Yoko who nodded her thanks as the next puppet came to line.

Ice King stepped up to plate, "Oh, hello darling! What brings you here?" I grinned as she gave me a new look. Imaginary chaos is fun, "Did you come to stay with me and Gunter?"

The Blue robed form of Ice King kept his distance as Yoko also restrained herself from teleportation and began to run towards him, dodging lightning bolt shaped ice as it was shot at her, dodging with ease as she resumed lecture, "Mages can be painfully predictable if they fire only one kind of spell." She shouted while sprinted, "Especially if they are slow projectile oriented ones. Mix it up, aim at something other than them." She jumped as I attempted to raise an ice wall, and broke on through it, landing on the Ice King and driving him to the floor on his back.

"Okay, Okay I give! I give!" Ice king said as he faded away to a crown, and that was taken away by portal.

Next up was Bowser, who since he was unarmed, I gave him another handy companion.

Bowser and Master Hand worked in syncronization, the giant hand providing covering fire to keep Yoko from countering the giant turtles large sweeping claws. Yoko took a surprising action in power armor, as if it had weighed nothing to her, and performed a double backflip to get away from their reach, switching weapons on the final landing to her boltgun and taking aim. The deafening noise of exploding gunfire ripped apart Master Hand in moments, the leathery hand overwhelmed by grenade like explosions that brought it to the ground, stunned. Bowser weathered the storm of gunfire better with his shell, and managed to do a shell spin into Yoko, for once connecting a solid blow and knocking her back before the tide of gunfire afterwards destroyed it.

I groaned over the lost work, but also relished the chance at the same time to remake the mask better than before later on. Yokos quip this time was, "Expect the unexpected, and bring forth contingencies and smarter planning."

She began running at me as the last two puppets moved. Nox behind me and Aku forward. I could see Ambers grin as Yoko attempted gunfire at Aku. I hadn't been idle as Yoko had gone on her rant, and I utilized a tactic that I had used against her, albeit with a fair bit more difficulty considering the nature of the impact explosive rocket propelled ammunition that was Bolter Rounds. I used Aku's amorphous nature to part before impact, grabbing the fast moving projectiles by the side before they could hit, and quickly redirecting them in a U turn back at her.

By the time the first round had re-emerged and Yoko had noticed what had gone wrong, another twenty rounds had connected with Aku and her pace faltered as she had to move to the side to dodge the follow up spray of wildly aimed gunfire. She swapped back to her sword after that point, sprinting around at remarkable speed to try and hit Aku in the side.

I waited till the last second before having him shift forms, dodging the revving blade by a good half a foot before the giant mass began to descend. Yoko, ever fast with reflexes moved to pierce the form from underneath, but was caught off guard as a mass of tentacles erupted as Akus face became the center of a giant squid like beast, tentacles sweeping out to all sides away from her, as he began to shoot intentionally non-lethal versions of laser beams from his eyes. Yoko dodged out of the way barely in time before the beams connected, but the follow up strikes caught her on the legs and pauldrons of her armor. Knocking her over.

I rose Aku to take advantage of the situation, but paused a few moments from impact as she held a hand up for a halt, "Okay, I'll admit, that was a pretty good move just then." Yoko declared.

"You as well, tore most of my minions to shreds in moments." I responded in turn, "Underestimated how much damage that blade can do against my props. Guess they don't stand up much to the tech of the 40th millennium. Huh?"

"They're neat, but the wielder is the true power of the blade." Yoko replied in turn, "Surprised you came at me with Aku instead of Nox. Was under the impression Aku was being saved for last."

"Considered it, but Nox has the disadvantage of if he uses his powers, a certain pair of ponies would come snooping." I replied in turn, "Can't have Sunny and Moonie coming round here. Maybe elsewhere but not here at home base."

"Ahhh." Yoko said with the dawning of understanding, "That explains it, so hes like your insurance policy in case the two sisters have some sort of time magic shenanigans going on."

"That and I don't know if anyone else has the same type of thing." I affirmed, "Takes a lot of energy to maintain a decent radius of it though. So I'd rather not have to use it for long periods of... well... halted time?" I stumbled over the phrasing for a bit. How does time pass if time itself is frozen?

"What about personal combat skills?" Yoko asked me.

We were out of earshot as we discussed, having closed the distance and some of the others having gone from cheering for one or the other of us to now chattering among themselves, I spoke conversationally at that point, "Non-existent aside from maybe the two-three years of karate as a third grader. Not like that stuck around that well." I admitted, "I fight most close combat encounters with props like these," I snapped my fingers after putting away the marionette to my side, causing a small explosion that fizzled out into nothing.

"So Swarming is your tactic, how hard can those basic puppets hit? Noticed there was a bit of a delay between summoning them, and getting them in costume." Yoko stated, "You're not always going to have time to get them dressed up."

"Haven't actually tested that much." I replied in turn, to be honest the few times I had used basic puppets instead of costumed ones had been against Shining Armor, who was knocked out cold from a surprise hook, and then against the spirit of the Windigeo King, which had proven nearly useless due to the amount of ice magic that was being thrown around. I admitted as much to Yoko, and she paused. Before having an awful idea. I could tell because of the way her face lit up.

"Punch me."

I looked at her aghast, "What?"

"Punch me with a blank puppet. Just do it."


"I have power armor on. Come on." She was now egging me on, gesturing to her own chest, as she beckoned me at her.

"This does not sound like a good idea." I tried to reason.

"Never hurts to try. Now Do it." Yoko Insisted.

When Yoko had a bad idea, she wanted to do it, no matter what. She was like me in that way. But she was a Space Marine... They did have tough armor.... But why her? Her endless enthusiasm was beginning to show through, and I didn't want to disappoint her, as she continued to gesture at me to hit her.

"Fine, here goes nothing." I muttered, looking away personally, as I brought forth a blank puppet.

It towered over me, and met the Space Marine armored warrior that was Yoko at near head height, which was impressive considering the armor made Yoko a little taller than Celestia; horn excluded of course. The blank Puppet assumed a basic fighting pose and reeled back its fist, I wanted to say something but Yoko was literally asking for it.

I supplied it a bit of magic, the puppet took it, and brought back its fist. Then it lunged forward and the blow connected.

Everyone fell silent as Yoko flew across the room and cratered on the other side. After a few moments, Yoko began to laugh, "Oh god that hurt a good kind of way." Two of her squad mates climbed the rest of the bleachers and began to pull her out of the wall as I stared at my puppet in shock. That had definitely not been what happened the last time a blank punched someone. Sure, Shining Armor had been flung off a train, but I had accounted that due to the wind pressure of trying to fight on top of one. Nor did the Windigeo King really show how well they could perform without a mask template due to the ranged magic he employed to avoid them. Just how much more power did I get over the last few victories?

These thoughts flew into the background as I checked on Yoko. Luckily her armor had taken the majority of the blow, leaving her winded but mostly unharmed aside from a small bruise. Apologies were denied, as Yoko claimed she had asked for it, and wasn't prepared for just how much a wooden doll could output. The puppet itself, I then noted hadn't vanished, though as I noticed just how much damage it had received in such an act of strength. The arm of the puppet had torn itself into fading splinters, leaving it leaning awkwardly to the side as it stared blankly on. Wood had not been meant to be pushed so far, let alone against power armor. I released the puppet as it dropped down, fading away alongside its remains, the dim focus of energy returning to me and leaving me wondering if the marionette tool could handle me directly anymore.

I also worried what would happen should I have had attempted to do the same kind of punch. If I infused magic into one of my own blows, would it rip my arm off in the backlash? That was a terrifying thought. I didn't exactly have a suitable magic teacher, Trixie was hopeless as a magic instructor. Often referring to magic in her own show terms that left me confused on the few occasions I had asked her about it. I'd just have to exercise extreme caution from now on until the situation changed. I also began to wonder if it was possible to break a mask if I accidentally poured too much power into it, or if it would just accept the energy as it had always. Ugh I needed a distraction.

So I stole Twilight's newspapers again.

Reading it had become a habit, and it seemed that both Spike and Twilight had long since given up on the prospect of getting their daily newspaper. Instead, they were already reading a copy with Rarity instead. Huh. Neat. I flipped through the pages as I brought a first aid kit down through portals for Yoko's bruise and I found something that could possibly distract me. Captain Shining Armor was escorting a certain princess as they made public appearances around town to spread love before Hearthswarming.

Ah, a perfect distraction. I pulled upon the mask of a villain he had fought previously, and grinned to myself. A perfect one indeed.

A Frozen Heart Still Beats For Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"You misread my question Mr.Armor."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


View Online

During the events between Mr.Freeze and Shining Armor, however, there was plenty of time for experiments to take part. Recently, I had been making props to test a few theories with just how far my limits went, from these were three core ideas taken from the various conversations and sketches that had been inspired by Yoko. However, I knew not the consequences or what kind of drain using these kind of tools would offer, if they'd work in the first place. Luckily, however, with some more drilling I could get enough space to start testing my theories relatively removed from the main training course.

The first experiment was, that any puppet could be used. After Yokos's argument over the tragic-ness of Aku, I had begun to wonder if I really could only use Tragic Villain category masks. This experiment would either cement Aku as a tragic villain after all. If the test succeeded it would throw some doubt over his nature while simultaneously opening up a lot of options for what I could build. The second experiment would simply be if props of sentient items could be used similar to masks. These were items such as Rubilax from Wakfu, which was a sentient demon locked inside a sword. This experiment was second, and would only be performed if the first one was successful, since this demon had joined the side of the heroes in the same show Nox came from. The third experiment was also inspired by the same prop. To see if personality profile could be maintained with the transfer of owners should the first two be successful.

To help protect against things going wrong, Nox would be overseeing the entire operation. Particularly, since the first experiment took a direct hero from the series, and a villain as well. For the first, the wig had been a pain to make, but if it worked it would be worth it for the copious amounts of hair cementing that had to be done in order to keep the spike of orange hair upright in opposition of gravity. Unfortunately, no matter how much I tried to get him alone a new pest had begun following Nox since he had first met her.

Rainbow Dash was stalking Nox, trying to wheedle out of him just how his 'high speed movement' worked. She probably assumed due to a lack of a unicorn horn as well as alongside not having wings that Nox was capable of near miraculous levels of physical skill. But the truth of him still being a magic user eluded Rainbow Dash. I wasn't in a hurry to correct it, but it was getting annoying as the blue blur had begun stalking Nox, trying to keep him down in one place long enough to try and interrogate. Since I had no wish to harm Rainbow, Nox would warp again, only for Rainbow to quickly find him again and resume. This had gone on most of the morning since the Training room event.

Now, here she was again, somehow in the sealed away room, peering in from the vents I had thought I made too small to crawl through. But seeing as there was still the rainbow Pegasus, I guess I hadn't made them small enough, a mistake that would be fixed soon enough. My true objective would have to come in post donning if it worked. In another room I brought the mask and wig together, fitting them personally onto a puppets head and adjusting the last minute preparations as the magic began to take hold. I'd have to thank Discord for such a wonderful tool eventually, these masks and puppets were a real boon and as the mask took shape, I had two other puppets shove the donning one through a portal and into the room that I had prepared for Nox just as the later rose his hands, as if he was creating the portal himself instead of the true source.

Out of it came a small dagger like blade, a single red closed eye decorating the center where the toothed black cross-guard met between the hilt and blade. The other major decorating feature had been a tuft of black fur at the end of the pommel and the dark grey cross that ran up the blade and separated into its three pronged formation near the tip. I had left the edges blunted and unsharpened on purpose, the solution to the blacksmithing problem had come with a bit of brilliance during the night after recalling the process of making molds. It took a few trials and errors, but eventually I had figured out by trial and error how to cast a metal prop piece. It took about just as long to figure out how to polish and treat the metal and while I had zero ideas on how to reinforce the blade or proper smithing techniques, GLaDOS provided just enough ability to cover for my lack of expertise.

While I had no doubt that this would pale in comparison to a properly forged blade, since no folding techniques or proper metalworking even went into it. However even cut metal was better than using foam for the blade at least, providing both a substantial increase in both durability and hardness with less magic being wasted in maintaining intact cohesion. I was also reinforcing other props with laser cut and force/heat bent sheet metal since the day I found out GLaDOS's base stayed around after the mask fell to the ground uncontrolled. I still kept the foam versions just in case, but it was a bit better to know that if they weren't in use that they'd break if I'd accidentally bumped into something the wrong way or got caught unaware.

The small dagger like sword was picked up by Nox, and it began to come to life, "Woah, woah, woah. Who's touching me?" The eye opened looking left and right then at Nox, "Oh, its the wise guy who thinks a non-shushu cube can talk to them. Where's Sadlygrove? Run away from him?"

"No. He should be along shortly." Nox replied shortly, ignoring the minor taunts. "Though I do wonder what amount of wakfu your little body has contained in it. Perhaps an experiment?"

"Yeah, fat chance buddy. Those little bugs of yours aren't gonna pierce this metal hide. In case you didn't notice, I'm invulnerable in this thing."

The eye looked smug though Nox, on the other hand looked merely annoyed, "I on the other hand, do not need a needle to drain energy for the cube little shushu."

The act was in place, Rainbow was watching this, getting a gauge of the personality both were presenting. I kept them talking, as the first experiment had gone well. I had chosen Rubilax within the first two seasons of the show, before his master had lost his arm and promptly had the sword replace the lost limb. I had no such intent for anyone to wear an arrogant creature that was a demon by another name as a limb. So this was more than ideal. But since the sentient item was working within parameters, it was next to see if a mask of a hero would work. While formerly a god, this was going to be the mortally restrained version of the lop who was this shushus guardian. Orange wig, check. The dark skinned elven appearance of a mask, check. Even a scarf for added details to encourage the link up to work. Once all donned the experiments continued.

Out through the portal came the puppet, dressed as manly lops were. Baren chested and with naught but a worn out white scarf with a single red line as well as black baggy pants to be worn. His name he proudly pronounced as he announced his intent, "Halt, Villain! I Sir Percedal of Sadlygrove will stop you as guardian of the Shushu Rubilax!"

"An honor of a Lop versus that of a master of time? Please do not make me laugh Sadlygrove." Nox spoke calmly, as he tossed rubilax to the opposite end of the spectrum, "My first plan may of failed but another is already in the works. A new world, a new opportunity to get my future back from Ogrest. Whose horrible tears stole my family from me."

"The destruction of the world isn't worth what you want villain! It is time to move on and on to the action!" Dally, as was his nickname, pounced. But was held in the air aloft by a simple quick gesture of the hands from Nox. More precisely an infinity sign, "I will give you a warning this time Percedal. Keep the Knights of the Tofu out of my buisness or your friends will be made to pay for their follies. Farewell."

It wasn't a true time stop, I had merely halted the puppet after it had connected with the ground, but it was accurate enough to avoid arising too much suspicion from their eavesdropper. I still didn't want Celestia and Luna tracking me down to home base. Even with Luna being a neutral party Celestia was still too much an unknown factor. At this point Nox vanished and 'time' resumed, as another portal began to appear. Dally looked around, but seeing no clear entrance way, and clearly ignoring Rainbow Dash, he shrugged, and spoke to Rubilax, "We'll get him next time Rubi." A beam of energy from the portal forcing him to dodge.

"Yeah, yeah, keep telling yourself that you lop-head. Surprised you aren't going through the walls after him."

"Doesn't feel like a dungeon. That and I thought you hated being swung into stone and metal."

"Ah, shut up." Rubi retorted before scanning around as well with his eye on either side of the sword, "Hey watch out idio-"

The lop jumped as another beam of energy bored a hole in metal, purple and destructive as it may be, I left it just short on range and power so that it didn't breach the rest of the facility. However, this was starting to get a bit out of hand. Though in this action of thought, I left the laser firing a tad bit too long. There went half the lop puppet, which proceeded to collapse into a shattered mask, leaving Rainbow with Razortime and a discarded weapon between them. Razortime turned to begin to leave. Having barely arrived before having to go, the machine having been albiet a bit too fast in the momentary lack of input. He was large and round, almost like a spherical clock in shape. However, the only onlooker wasn't about to leave this where it was.

As then, Rainbow picked up the sword and broke Razortimes leg in the same swoop.

Oh, now it was on.

Sweet Treat, You or Me?

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"Mmmmm... I smell some strong energy. That will have to make a sweet treat. Probably a solid seventy or eighty even!" The pink form had barely arrived from the portal but already she was salivating. A new world, full of new ponies and apparently another displaced, "Oh I'm positively drooling! Maybe I should skip straight to the main courses!" She sniffed the air as the weakling green-skins around her barely registered aside from their usual plant-like stench. Hmmm... This lunie and Auntie are a solid few points less on the power scale, shame... Though their twilight on the other hand..."

Her nose turned from the distant mountains, the scent of distant powers filtrating like she was a blood hound in a candy store, "bit stronger, maybe a bit less dark chocolate but not milk quite yet... Aw..." The look of disappointment on the unblemished face was more a look of someone finding out the price of a tiny truffle to be far higher than it was worth to them but still finding a cheaper just-as-seemingly-good truffle right next to it.

"Fuu... Gotta admit I'm really going to owe Skarr-y for this meal, maybe he'll let me take another world out too after this."

"Ahh.. Pink 'umie? Are ya' goin' to get goin' or wot?"

She ignored the ork, not that she wasn't hungry, she just wasn't a vegetarian. That and orks had an awful taste about them. Like a Truffle that was left to rot before being dipped in ghost pepper mixed chocolate. Nasty. But then again, most food that wasn't candy to her taste buds tasted similarly. She considered stopping by Pinkie's abode, but that was going to be for later. First was the main course. That delectable scent. It was like mint, dark chocolate, and caramel all combined and made a new delectable flavor! She must find the source, she craved it, desired it... No... Needed it!

"Ohhhhh...." she moaned, crouching down before dashing off. The force of the push off the ground causing several of the surrounding trees to sway and knock over the Ork nearby.

"Wot's her deal?" One ork asked the face-planted one.

"dun' kno'." Said the first, "Dun' care eitha'."

Both orks, however, watched as the distant pink blur flew off to the mountain, and the second replied, "Sound's like a good foit is 'bout to 'appen tho." They both nodded in sagely wisdom before returning to work. The Dakka wasn't gonna build itself after all.


Back to a Puppet Master's perspective


Rainbow Dash was handling herself well for a first time using Rubilax. To my surprise, he continued to function without any input from me, implying that Rainbow was the one supplying him now, in both personality and magical power. His attitude was also being changed to more brash, just like Dash, both wanting revenge for the downed stranger Rainbow had only just met not minutes before.

The best part was that she was somehow winning. At one point, I had upped Razortime to see how fast I could get the heavy hunk of metal to go, but nothing would connect. Rainbow's natural athleticism and need for speed had placed her pretty far up there, and even in the restrained space she was using it to her advantage. Bouncing off walls like some kind of ninja and slashing away, giving razortime a death by a thousand cuts as the later failed over and over to even touch Rainbow. Though that is to say she didn't have any problems in her combat style...

For she had dozens. Her brash headed nature meant that she kept coming in head on, and that any attacks she made were heavy wide open swings that had as much zeal as an actor on stage playing a paladin type. In a fight that put her against someone of similar speed, she'd be outclassed easily by skill. But for this fight, she was perfectly mat-.

Some instinct told me to dodge, and dodge I did. Card walls erupting as I ducked down going prone as fast as my body and another card would let me. A blast pierced through the base, pink in energy and as wide as a baseball. It had cut through a card like butter, and turned the one on the other-side into a sweet roll before stopping.

That instinct, had not been instinct but my subconscious reacting to the attack from the camera feed outside. Which had came from a being that was distinctly not a pony. She was floating in the air, and the color of her skin was almost cotton candy in color. She wore blouse like white pants, with long unkept hair of similar color that was only barely tinted with the same kind of pink as her skin. Her eyes were red with a black backdrop that scent shivers down my spine. To my surprise, and embarrassment she wasn't wearing a shirt, but instead a black sports bra and sleeves that looked not out of place of some anime character alongside some decorative gold jewelry strewn about her body primarily in the form of various rings.

She waved at the camera and I was puzzled. She definitely wasn't a native. Another displaced member perhaps? But why was she-

I dived to avoid another beam. Okay stop i-

Portal to redirect another beam back at her. Rude! She dodged, but the method she did it in triggered something in my memory. Instant teleportation by black lines... pink skin... candy... Freeza style death rays... Wait Freeza?


"Nah, I'm Android 21. Get your info straight."

I turned my head in time to see she was behind me, another beam charging, "OH GO-"

I portaled myself out that time to avoid an otherwise fatal laser beam, the blast flying out of the mountain and nailing a nearby pigeon, turning it into a milkshake.

I stumbled out of the portal, now inside the Everfree Forest as the pink... Majin? Android? Whatever Freeza was? Followed after through it.

"Android what now?" I said, trying to stall for time as I regained my bearings.

"21. Though you can just call me Andrea if you really want to know." The strange woman began, bowing forward to look at me at eye level. Being quite scandalous in the process.

I kept my gaze straight on her, not focusing on a single part but the whole as best I could, "How did you get here?"

"Dosen't matter," she replied back, raising a hand as she flourished herself back into the air, "Not when you're about to be a yummy sweet." and began to charge a ball of rather sinister looking energy into her palm.

"How about no." I replied in turn, this time erecting a turret wall and having them open fire.

"Boringggg." she replied, dodging the turrets easily, and launching the first ball into the line destroying them, charging a second as swiftly as the first.

A Five more turret walls popped up evenly spaced around her.

"Ohhh, you're fiesty!" She blew them up one after the other, dodging with about the same amount of effort, "But you're mine now."

"No." I replied back.

"No?" She puffed her cheeks, "Do you not know how much work it was to get here?" Casually, she threw another obliterating beam of energy at me, and I used a pair of portals to avoid it, and move further away from her simultaneously.

Shutting it before she entered, I wasn't surprised that she followed after me with a teleportation of her own. Now the game became her firing shots off at me, while I ran between forming and collapsing portals. Pushing myself out of the Everfree Forest, and the fight as a result away from both being near ponyville and my own home as she continued to fling around energy beams with no concern at all.

I winced as one of the wild beams flew off into Canterlot, though I couldn't tell if it hit anything or not from this distance away, or if it had fizzled out somewhere along the way.

Once we had reached the open plains south of Everfree, I finally decided to stop running.

"Giving up already? You're not so fun." Andrea asked, as she readied a salvo of pink beams this time.

"Nah, we have enough distance now."

Her look turned to one of mild bewilderment as she fired off her shots and my puppets came into play.

First was a row of mooks, who absorbed the shots, turning wooden dolls into candy before fading away. Then came the masks. Shadow flooded the otherwise sunset-lit plains, as a beam of energy impacted my attacker, knocking her out of the air. This lead to a portal uppercut by the king of koopas, Who launched up, grabbing her, and while in mid air took her to a nosedive into the ground and proceeded to roast her with fire. She kicked him off and raised a hand to fire a beam, but her aim was thrown off by yet another portal, as her hand was impacted by a large icicle, taking it clean off without any blood or bone showing from the stump. Confirming another theory about her racial bias, and continuing into the combination as Ice King stepped out of his portal.

"Wuh?" she let out before another interruption caught her off guard. This time, a blast of far more powerful fire, green and black set her ablaze unnaturally. The fire of the fey-dragon Maleficent. In combination with a cannonball from Davy Jones putting a hole in her chest.

More puppets were coming out of reserve, and in the distraction, Razortime had fallen. But that wasn't important at the moment. For instead of being defeated, she started... Laughing. The crazed kind of look usually reserved for a grim-dark yandere lover had taken over her eyes, "Yes! Keep this up! You're only making me want to devour you even more!"

I probably should of expected it, but she was already regenerating at a rapid pace. The hole in her stomach was already sealing, and her arm coming back within seconds complete with clothing and jewels. "Make me more excited! I do enjoy a good workout before a meal! It makes it taste so much better!"

With that, a thousand tiny balls of energy erupted above her, and I paled.

Quickly I rose a multi-puppet wall between me and her, but the explosions threw me off my feet, only managing not to eat dirt by virtue of the cards that carried me away from the rest of the backblast, loud enough to leave my ears ringing and vision blurred. The puppets took into action, firing beam after fireball at her, while she nimbly avoided more of it like a dancer. She set herself upon Aku first by coating her arm in a strange energy before plunging it into the master of darkness, ripping a chunk out of him and... Absorbing it? I felt the loss in power as if she had taken a chunk out of me.

But it didn't end there, she was now firing lasers from her eyes as well. Aku responded to her first burst of lasers by socking her hard enough to send her flying again, only recovering a hundred feet up or so, and reforming a missing upperbody in time to witness a large amount of minion-based firepower being shot up to her with enough bullets, lasers, hammers, fireballs, and arrows, to make an Ork happy. This concentrated fire reduced her to pieces again, but it wasn't enough. Infact, she seemed to be enjoying it instead of being irritated in the least.

She reformed, and this time, blew Davyjones to pieces before I could respond. The puppet was shattered in a single shot of pink energy, different from the candy beam. "Not into sushi, unfortunately!" she gloated before losing another arm to a well placed barrage of sentry turret bullets. "Come on!" She giggled, blasting away a row of mooks with a continuous beam of lasers as if it was a sword, and then lunging for the Ice King, her arm coated in the same strange pink energy she had attacked Aku with.

The puppet was rendered barely working after the impact, but she was giggling even harder than before, "So much fun!"

She wove her hand this time, like a backhanded slap, and then a giant pink lightning bolt made of ice formed into the air. Now it clicked. With that attack, she was stealing the abilities of the people she hit with it and making it her own. Oh for goodness sake. I began to swear, as I entered the flying card and the deck scattered. The giant pink shard of ice crashing into the ground and exploding in that same colored energy as before. But just as I thought I had gotten away from her focus in the chaos. She appeared from the frontside of the card I was in, "Found you! Now I'ma gobble you up, Okay?" she licked her lips as a beam formed again on the tip of her finger this time, and I promptly rammed her into another card.

"Hey no fair!" she yelled as I began to put distance between me and her as much as possible.

I barely breathed a sigh of relief, considering the situation handled before she did something impossible. She roared, and what could only be described as a rip in space and time tore the card apart and she appeared from the rip instead of the card. Now she was mad, "I said I won, that means you become a treat!"

"You need to learn to take no as an answer!" I yelled back at her, "Seriously!"

She vanished again, but this time I was prepared, as she appeared behind me, this time I raised a metal wall with a portal just in time to intercept a ramming punch, and just as soon as I had opened it, I shut it on her midway through. With a wet splotch, the upperhalf of her body landed several hundred meters away from the lower half. Though, now she looked genuinely pissed before the Bowser puppet jumped and crushed her lower body, while the Maleificent puppet subjected her upper-side to a bath made of fire again. Only after twenty seconds when she stopped squirming, did I ask, "Done with the attempts at cannibalism yet?"

She glared at me, and suddenly I felt another chunk of my power give way as the Bowser puppet was absorbed by her legs. Caught off guard, she giggled as her lowerbody now went for my exposed backside, only for the giggles to turn to a frustrated groan as another portal sent her own kick back into her face. Before I could roast both parts of her body in more fire, she was back, this time wielding a giant pink version of Bowsers shell and crashing it down at me.

I intercepted it with a snap of my fingers. Coating and throwing it all away with a chain of explosions, barely diverting the path enough to avoid the side spikes, and nearly forgot to breathe as her fist was deflected off the energy shield that had engulfed my body during the explosion from the Rosarius shield. The shield had visibly cracked under the weight of that blow. And from the look on her face, she was getting sick of being put on fire.

She vanished again, and I felt another stab of energy loss as she jabbed-n-grabbed Maleficent, before throwing the giant dragon at me. I was forced to disengage the puppet this time, the ground too uneven for another portal to have time to construct, and caught the mask as it flew at me. Throwing it back into Maleficents more mage-like form behind me as I raised my shield up in time to block another attempted haymaker.

I was thrown off my feet again when the punch connected to my arm, the energy based shield that had cracked before having taken the brunt of the impact before overheating and the rest landing an impact strong enough on the actual metal shield to throw me a good football field with a now numb and dislocated arm.

My concentration disrupted, Andrea took advantage of the lasp of commands to absorb most of the current puppets on the field other than the injured maleficent. My faculties returning just in time to repel her with the dragon and having the mask make a hasty retreat into a GLaDOS portal before she got eaten too.

"You're mine now!" The field clear of puppets she took the lunge, tongue outside her mouth, long and sinewy. I couldn't react in time. Though stronger than before, I forced a puppet to take the punch for me, a combination of explosions also joining in to divert the main attack. However, the shock wave sent me tumbling again. This time, however, she didn't stop.

Now she was standing above me, we were back where we started in the plains turned battle field. I was wounded with a dislocated arm, ironically the same one that had just barely finished healing by Nightmare Night, and a number of burns and scrapes all over me from how much I had been thrown about. She still looked without a scratch, but from how she was panting, I must of been a drain on her too, at least somewhat.

"Finally, a treat denied too long, I wonder what you'll make... Skarry said you'd make a delicious snack." Her drool had returned with her pants, giving me a feeling of needing an adult despite being one, "Now sit still!" She raised her finger yet again, collecting energy only for a sudden moment for time to seemingly freeze.

"Oh hoho..." The Nox puppet chuckled for me, "Gotcha." Within less than an instant, the Nox puppet was now present behind her.

"Not out of tricks yet." I coughed out personally, and stood up, as swarms upon swarms of insect-minions joined me. The same sort that had drained the basilisk dry, and in combination with myself and the puppets we grabbed her.

The amount of energy that began to flood me was immense. Easily larger than both Sharp Opera and the Wendigo king combined. She began to scream, and the frozen time began to buckle in the restraints, but I continued to take as much as I could from her. But just as I thought I had won....

I was shot in the back by a beam of pink energy. I barely managed to get a look at the source before I turned into candy. A single arm, the one that had been shot off during the start of the puppet assault. When the Ice Kings icicle had collided with it from the side. The world turned to darkness, and all connections severed themselves as their source shut down. A feeling of overwhelming tiredness began to take me, transformed into a mere piece of candy I fell out of awareness to my surroundings. I could only think of one thing as it overcame me, "Did she mention.... Skargor?"

A Midnight Treat Mint

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The first sign of something wrong was going on, in Luna's opinion, was when a beam of unknown energy had collided with her sisters cloud cake. Turning it not to ash, but into a slab of raw steak. The response, as her sister had unknowingly lifted the fork full of the fluffy, sugary, and almost air light delight towards her mouth; eyes shut in anticipation of the joyous sensation, and then being treated to a mouthful of what could only be assumed was some kind of steak, was both hilarious and worrying at the same time. Neither sister was unfamiliar with the taste of meat, as it was only polite with the carnivorous neighbors they shared with the Griffons, alongside the occasional other delegates from further away countries that would on occasion, come to visit. Luna could also still remember the odd taste of gemstone as well, specially augmented just so that they could eat alongside a dragon delegate back before her banishment. Celestia's reaction had been priceless to the point where Luna wish she could copy it down and watch it repeatedly at her leisure, or show it to others.

Upon discovering the taste, to her amusement, her sister didn't freak out. Rather she slowly opened her eyes, let go of the steak to examine it in front of her eyes. Then said in the most disapointed and ashamed of someone else kind of way that would send children shivering from a mothers cold glare, "Who took my cake?"

"Not took, dear sister. Transformed."

Luna stifled a giggle as Celestia's death glare went from the cake to her, and then Tia responded back, in equal tranquil fury, "Who, transfigured my cake?"

"I believe the beam of energy came from somewhere that way." Luna gestured with her hoof then, and off her sister had went.

Luna continued to laugh to herself for that moment, but as she raised her doughnut to dunk it into her morning coffee, it was struck by a second beam. Resulting in perfectly ruined coffee filled with meat.

"Why me too?" Luna lamented, tossing both over to the nearby guard, "Get us fresh snacks, We'll be back soon enough." Luna had then took off, following after her sister to capture this horrible monster that was the bane of confectionery delights.

A few minutes into the flight, she had caught up to her sister, "Spot them?"

"No... but..." Celestias eyes were sharp however, like the eyes of an eagle... or if Luna was to compare it, the eyes of a very annoyed swan. Not that she'd ever admit to that in presence of her sister, "There seems to be... something odd near the edge of the Everfree Forest..."

Luna scanned with her own senses, a faint distant surge of energy was indeed present. Two beings of considerable strength were fighting each other. One desperate and startled, the other... Hungry? "Perhaps the source of our interrupted meal?" Luna asked, as her sister banked towards the surge. Luna adjusted accordingly, flying just behind her. At this elevation, fighting the wind was hardly the issue, but rather going with it would provide much needed acceleration to their course. They skimmed between the start of the mountain and the edge of the forest, cutting a path across as little of the unnatural place as possible without being detoured too far.

Distantly, they could spot the pyrotechnics of several beings locked into battle. Too far to make out most details, but as they approached they could plainly see that the battle was many against one, but the powers being hurled about was coming from just two people. "It seems the Puppet Master is fighting someone..." her sister commented, taking a gauge of the situation as they approached.

"Another figure from Equestria's rather complicated history?" Luna asked, her own eyes still adjusting to compensate for the distance. Her sisters powers of observation was usually far more adept than her own, and in combination with her absence, she wondered what other villains had survived the long thousand year period. Starswirl, their mentor did after all. Who else could of defied death from the ages of time?

"No, not one I recognize, at least." Celestia hummed, as the fight below continued in the distance. Puppets of all sizes and sorts were rising and falling just as quickly as they were being made it seemed. That, and one was getting pummeled quite relentlessly. Another minute of flight and Luna recognized that it was indeed Xander, the Puppet Master who was being flung about while his creations tried to hold off his crazed attacker.

"He's panicking," Celestia commented, "Lets see if we can get them both down by surprise. It would be convenient if both of them wore each other out enough to capture them without resorting to more violence."

"I think the pink one is trying to eat him..." Luna muttered, disgusted by the barbaric tactics the pink almost lizard like form was taking. Puppets were falling one after another, and now the larger ones were being maimed, crippled, and destroyed. While she was taking blows in return, it seemed no matter what the Puppet Master tried to do, she would just regenerate and continue beating his defenses down. With each puppet impaled, the balance of energy would shift a little more into her favor.

"Shouldn't we help him at this point?" Luna asked.

"He doesn't seem done yet..." Celestia murmured, her voice almost lost among the wind.

Luna squinted, seeing the talied injuries, "His arm's dislocated."

"He'll be fine. He broke it once and came back fine, didn't he?"

"His shields cracked, bleeding from multiple points, and a moderate concussion from the looks of the faltering concentration he's keeping on his energy...."

"Okay, now we should help." Celestia agreed, "Last thing we need is an accidental magic surge to level the area."

"It's a plains sister, its already mostly level."

"You know what I mean Luna." They were about to move to assist, when they felt that familiar energy erupt around the battlefield. The Puppet Master's trump card had arrived and neither Luna or Celestia wanted to fight through it,slowing their descent, they were now along the edges of the battlefield, and it seemed the balance of power was now flowing the other direction. Where it was once trickling into the pink, lizard-like girl. Now it was flooding backwards into the Puppet Master again.

"It seems he has it handled." Celestia commented. But their attention came again, when they felt the power surge from the edge of the distorted bubble.

A detached arm, pointing at the Puppet Master's back, a pink point of energy that was about to fire, "Watch out!" Luna shouted, but she knew it was too late. It pierced through the bubble like an arrow through warm butter, distorting it and slowing down fast. But not fast enough, it impacted in slow motion right in the back of his neck. The look of shock, unfocused on them, and rather towards the arm was a look Luna wanted to forget.

It was a look of cold fear, blue flaming eyes mere pin pricks in the mask, mouth agape in a jagged gasp. The flickering lights behind the pink woman going out as the puppet shut down. Mask falling to the ground alongside the marionette tool and cracked shield that Xander had been carrying. The bubble popped as no more magic supplied it, and in an act of rash determination...

Luna rushed in.


To the Confectioner


He had been a piece of work alright. But boy did he look worth it. Never did she dream of such a wonderful looking desert. He had turned into a slice of cake complete with a candy plate and fork. To be precise, she recognized the form of an ice-cream cake, from the color the lower layer was chocolate chip mint, with a red velvet center. The frosting was an icy blue with yellow spangled stars as sprinkles and a single dollop of cool-whip in the center of the cake that had but a single strawberry resting on it. It was positively drool worthy just in appearance alone to her mind. And as the time bubble began to pop, she took advantage of it to eat it all in one go. Mouth stretching unnaturally large so that she could fit the entire thing in on one go and with her unnatural strength, chewed all of it. The feeling of heaven was hers again.

"Oh ma gawd." she mumbled before swallowing, "Definitely an eighty! So good!" She squeed a little, but as she was celebrating with a little jig, a laser beam hit her in the groin, "Oh, not so good! Ow..." As she began to fall over, missing a good portion of both legs and her pelvis in general, "Ow, ow... that's hot and not in the good way!"

"Luna! Restrain yourself!" the familiar jingle rang.

"Gasp." she spoke the word, "A second course of the princesses so soon? Yay. I was still a bit peckish!" She jumped up and down, like a little girl receiving a new toy as the rest of her body regenerated, before pausing, "Wait... I'm always hungry... So I guess its a good thing anyway. Now, who wants to be my next Treat?"

Celestia's face contorted with disgust, "Okay... Disregard what I just said... Go wild."

Their horns lighted as they began to circle around, how cute. Almost like they were going to flank her. Lets see how they handled a bit of this. When they had begun to face each other again, the pink form of android 21 seemingly vanished without taking a step, only appearing mid air right before bringing her foot down upon the horn of Lunas head. Or at least that had been the plan, hadn't a yellow beam of magic intercepted within the span of a nano-second.

Interesting enough, though, Celestia and Luna both recoiled in surprise, as a spread of beams fired off from their horns directly at Android 21. Who dodged by them in the same manner she had enacted her sneak attack. But the lasers followed. Blasting pieces away entirely without chunks or even a ripple in the flesh. Where the beams hit, flesh seemingly sucked in and disintegrated. No doubt, to stop the same dislocated arm trick from earlier. What puzzled her, however, was that they had reacted with surprise while blasting bits off her at the same time. Was it automated defenses? Interesting.

Their reactions were tested, now was the time to test the defenses. She readied up a beam salvo firing wide and in scatters of rapid fire action. Forcing the princesses to dodge a veritable forest of ringing beams simultaneously. Which they did with the graces of a dancer in the air. Their attempts to dodge made her giggle. No it made her laugh uncontrollably. Adding an element of dementia to the air as she fired off another scattering, and then while the beams were in motion teleported to the side to turn a scattering forest of beams into a true laser based bullet hell. Given little other choice, the princesses pooled their power into a shield, reflecting the beams around them like a mirror while the others flew off into the distance around them.

They were not just staying on the defensive, however. as she observed her own handiwork, Luna vanished from the bubble, and gave her a bit of her own treatment. Only instead of a hoofed leg coming down upon her head, a lance of dark blue energy spearing her from head to toe. Luckily the power of regeneration was hers. The battle raged on.


In... the Confectioner?


Darkness... Wetness... The feeling of being surrounded on all sides by used old gum was disgusting... Everything was hazy and the air tasted like rotten sugar. It all felt overwhelmingly oppressive in atmosphere. Like it would be better to just sleep, and let it all fade away. What was I doing? Denying myself a good sleep? No, that wasn't it... Was it?

Where was I? Where was I going? What was going on? My limbs wouldn't move, no they couldn't move... Trying to drag my eyes open was like trying to lift two 60 pound bags of concrete at once. Difficult, and nearly impossible for a shrimp like me. Thing was though, it was just nearly impossible. Which means I could do it, but why should I?


That voice, it sounded familiar... Like someone I knew. The effort was there now. To figure the simple question out. Curiosity, once damning now being useful as a motivating force. Something was sapping at me. Almost like it was drinking me up of all my energy. Well now it was the time to change that, I began to struggle. To turn the vacuum against itself. Xander was my name, and I was... inside the beast?

I was still contained, arms and legs locked in a pink embrace of gummy-like flesh. Most of my lowerbody too. As my eyes finally opened, I could see that I had also lost my marionette tool somewhere. Alongside my deck of cards, and most of my other tools. The only tools I had still, were ones that were clothing in appearance. Which left, well, two. The worn out Rosarius symbol, and the pair of gloves upon my hands, which was the only thing stopping me from freaking out over the feeling of a near whole body encasement of old gum. It was a disgusting just looking at old gum that people would press into the bottom of the desk surfaces, let alone accidentally touching one of those. Which made the comparison infinitely worse. It was this feeling of disgust that finally got my mind kicking into gear.

I was barely able to move my head, to examine my surroundings. More pink wet gum, shaped like a long cave. There was an upwards, and a downwards direction to exit from. If I could get out of these bonds. Where did I hear that voice? There was no one in sight. More questions without answers. But it was time to figure out a solution. I couldn't snap my fingers to release an explosion, but even if I could what would it solve? Blasting my own arm off was hardly productive in this state. That meant I needed to try and draw upon a different solution. With the Rosarius busted, I couldn't rely upon it either. But maybe I could figure something else out.

First to get rid of this infernal draining. I concentrated as if to control a puppet, or a hundred on myself. Multitasking had become easy, as I narrowed down the tiny lashes that were sapping away at my ability to resist surrounding me. Next, I responded in turn, a lash for every lash, capturing and wrapping around each nugget of energy that was expended to try and take what I had collected back. The response was to double the number of lashes. So I took the next logical step.

I hundred folded it.

Like ash, the gum around my body collapsed into dust, leaving me plunging onto the floor and landing face first.

"Ow..." I muttered to myself, "Alright, so free of the cell... Now how to escape the prison...?"

Well, if this was like Majin Buu... That meant... Searching for a pod to rip down... Right?

Better idea than searching though came to mind... I began to drain energy from the floor.

"Time for one hell of a stomach ache." I muttered, as I began to up the drainage, taking in as much as I could.




Android 21 clutched her stomach after the latest in a series of regeneration, "Why won't you sit still and let me eat you already!?"

Luna responded with her own form of answer, a hammer blow of her hind hooves impacting on Android 21's face, "Give." A blast through the sternum, disconnecting her from her legs, "Him." Finally following up with a choking grip from behind as momentum carried Android 21 into the ground, ripping her head from the rest of her body, "Back!" Tossing the head to Celestia who blasted it like target practice.

Her body just shrugged, and got up as it regenerated, "Ow. Okay, Three answers to that."

She placed herself with Luna interposed between herself and Celestia before kicking the former into the later, "No." her statement was added with a second kick as she rocketed into the two sisters, "Way." A third kick from behind into Celestias back sent the duo from rocketing towards the Everfree into rocketing into the ground this time, "In hell!" As the dust settled, she asked, "Done now?"

The dust wasn't even halfway done when the next spell was launched. Now she felt heavy, heavier than she had any right to be. Looking up, she spotted the source. "Hey, was the moon supposed to be that clos-" A blue and black shell of energy formed around her and she recognized the arcane symbols. "Oh Fu-"

Gravity magnified a thousand fold, crushing the ground she stood on, as well as herself into the ground. Just caught mid run, the radius doubled past what she had expected, and the glare of a mare who was absolutely vivid was in her line of sight.

She groaned under the crushing weight, dirt becoming a circular trench hard as diamond at this point, as the weight crushed down on her, "I thought you were supposed to be weaker than himmm." she complained.

Luna's response was to narrow her eyes and increase the degree of gravity further, apparently not satisfied with a pink pancake. "Luckily for us then, I draw more than status from our moon." Luna added coldly a few seconds later.

"Well... Good thing-" Android 21 tried to respond, but was having difficulty working her jaw in these circumstances, she gave up and just resorted to some of the shot off limbs lying around. A trifecta of pink beams, which forced Luna to dodge, defensive wards already used from earlier laser shenanigans. Celestia caught them, however, and disintegrated the limbs in what could only be described as a solar flame brought forth. Air burning away in a blinding show of light and heat. Leaving even the most powerful oven dwarfed like an significant speck.

Android 21 did the one thing no one expected in that circumstance. She dodged.


Inside, again... How many of these are we going to have?


I'd have one shot at this, unless I'd want to do this the hard way anyway. But I'd need to be quick about this, no telling how far these tunnels would run in either direction. Dragonball had been nothing but time delays after time delays afterall. It wasn't until other series that they stopped running half of the previous episode and what would end up being half the next episode after all. I wouldn't be surprised if there was miles of gum-road down here. However, my target wasn't what was in the road.

Sparks began to flicker as I tested my gloves. Alright, now for step two. I focused as much energy as I could, all the energy gathered from both the crazy psychopath who ate me and what my body had left within itself, leaving just enough to move as I snapped my fingers. A spark turning into an ember, from an ember a flame, and from a flame into an explosion. Followed by another larger explosion, which began to chain in both directions.




"For a pink lizard-girl-thing. She certainly knows how to dodge as well as she shoots." Luna commented between blasts, the flow of this combat was less than predictable, but it was like she wasn't even trying anymore with the shots.

Celestia had to agree, but she was busy with her own problems. flaming lance might of been a good weapon if it could connect, but as she traded between different sizes and types it seemed that this particular menace was rather deadset on seeing what their limits were rather than ending the fight any time soon. If she liked beam spam so much, how about another trick?

Luna concentrated, to her the ranks of spells were as familiar as the back of her own hoof. In order to cast a spell, one had to imbue it with processes and magical formula. The most basic spell was to make the horn glow, which was the base component to most spells, a foundation of which to activate another spell formula upon it. That was the 0th level. Wheras Telekinesis was considered a second level spell for basic applications. One needed to form the foundation, lift, and hold and object. Two processes, one in the lift, and the other in holding.

In many ways, a unicorn and alicorn shared the limit to how many processes they could use at once, equal to their concentration and amount of energy they pumped into the spell. In this way, though, a spell like teleportation could be performed in many ways depending on how wasteful and masterful of the processes a unicorn was feeling like. One could fold the space between their current location and their destination, or deconstruct and reconstruct themselves to another location. Discord could rewrite reality to say he was somewhere he hadn't been, but then came the laws of magic that prevented such things from shattering the universe.

This was all taken in account, as Luna's horn took a second glow, a foundation reinforced with a second layer. As more and more processes were nesscary, it was also required to take a larger base to support it. One glow could handle spells up to forty processes long. a second glare could handle a string of processes 200 long. "If you enjoy the spam so much, meet my trump card."

Night eclipsed day entirely for just a moment, as Android 21 looked on puzzled for a moment, before shrugging and raising a finger to fire another beam at the preoccupied alicorn... She looked down when the beam didn't fire. Her finger was gone, in its place was a white arrow on the ground with the finger pinned there.Its head like that of a twinkling star. Then she looked up, as a giant swarm of individual points seemed to be moving. Rather rapidly at that.

"This is not fun anymore." she deadpanned, and warped out of the way figuring that was that. Then five more points impacted into her back. Burning away like self contained fires in her back, "What?"

The stars instead of impacting the ground took a sharp swerve to follow her, some scrapping out along the ground, the rest flying like a swarm of angry bees shaped like arrows. Android 21 took the next logical step and put Celestia between herself and the arrows. That didn't work, as the arrows diverted around the white alicorn racing by while missing nearly by a hairsbreadth. Celestia for her part, looked taken aback by her sisters tactics, but refused to comment but instead join the party with a spell of her own, it'd take a while to charge though.

Android 21 was not having fun, these pests were starting to be more annoying than they were worth. Why couldn't they just give up already and become a yummy treat? She was about to foil this so called 'trump card' with a shotgun blast of energy, since they weren't going to give up when something made her trip. Well a lot of somethings, and not arrows this time. Rather, explosions in her gut. What was Celestia capable of causing people to spontaneously burst into flame now or something? No that wasn't it. She looked with shock as something emerged from her exposed stomach this time, and tried to reach for it. Only to be interrupted by several hundred magical arrows impaling her in the instant she had tripped over herself.


Why won't you stop? Alright, we're back to the Puppet Master this time, I swear to chaos though, if there is another perspective shift in this chapter, I quit.


The explosions came at the cost of intense heat, but during the instant I watched as the gum like guts flew, I saw my exit, and raced towards it. Propelling myself upward and outward as the way out presented itself. However, I had over estimated my success. As the hole began to close again, Mere seconds before I could reach it, it would be shut again. So I took a deep breathe in as it was shutting itself, grabbed my face...

And threw the only mask I had left.

The Good, The Bad, and The Mask

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The explosion had popped the gut of Android 21 like a balloon. But out of it flew a mask about a quarter of an inch big, which expanded rapidly to full size. It was easily recognizable from the white coloration and blue flames where the eyes should be. The fact the rest of the body didn't follow after it, was worrisome. For the Puppet Master however...

The feeling of suffocation, despite being able to breathe, disjointed and spinning rapidly like a frisbee didn't help. Fresh air and escape from the oppressive environment that was that gum tunnel only felt more amplified as the rest of my body fell back to the floor, unable to land properly due to loss of most senses except for hearing and touch. Weirdly enough, I could still hear from the mask, but at the moment I was too blinded in worry and panic to care. This had been a really awful idea. I had just left my body blind inside the enemy after all. Outside things didn't look much better for my chances. With Android 21 almost immediately reaching for me. Though she was currently full of white glowing arrows.

I opened my mouth to scream. But then everything took on a shade of blue and I was given the distinct feeling of uncontrolled flight to make me regret opening my mouth. Instead, I shut it and swallowed hard as I was magically flung into the hooves of another. The pink menace whined as she pulled herself out of the pin-cushion she had become, "Give him back!"

"There aren't a second course for thou! Thou needs a diet!" Another voice, familiar and enraged rang out as my holder brought me face to face with my rescuer, "Are thou alright Puppet Master?"

"As well as I can be, separated from my body." I chuckled worriedly as Celestia raced by the edges of my vision, ten energy based constructs to what would be the equivalent to Zweihanders flying alongside her before she passed my range of vision.

"What can you tell me of this creature?" Luna was straight to the point, she had a slight expression of worry, but it was marred with the concentration required for our current combat.

"Well shes from another world where the laws of physics don't really app-" Luna yanked me to the side, as pink fingers tried to nab me from her, "-lyyy-eeeek."

"Noted, what else?" Luna took a stepping lunge backward as her horn lit up, more arrows raining down from above her.

"Physical attacks short of complete disintegration won't work very well, but she is mentally unhinged it seems. Capable of manipulating energy to form explosive blasts and if shes relevant to either Androids or Majin Buu, two villains from her verse. Capable of destroying planets rather easily."

"Oh." Luna's actions were jerky, as Android 21 appeared behind her before getting blind sided by Celestia again. There was something satisfying about a Zweihander braining her. Android 21 just shrugged it off like all her other injuries before being knocked out of my sight-line again. "Any other weaknesses?"

"She gains energy off eating people, but I'm going to see about reversing that flow a bit more." I quietly intoned, "Long term if you can keep her from leaving or touching her forehead for an Instant Transmission, she should eventually run out of energy as long as she can't eat anyone else."

"What do I do with you?" Luna asked, and I shrugged before realizing that, again, my body was still inside the alien-robot-girl.

"I don't... know..." I replied after a second, feeling the yanking feeling as Luna tugged my disembodied face out of the way of another beam.

"Well what happens if I wear you?" Luna asked, and I pursed my mouth.

I stared at her.

I started to blush, a combination of embarrassment and something about how she phrased it, "I... D-don't know?"

The mask turned away from Luna before the blush could fully form and she mentioned, "Wow, its bigger on the inside? Well here goes nothing."

"What? Wait a mo-" I started to reply but I was cut off as I let out a small "Eep!"

Fur unseen, bristled across my edges, a muzzle slipping into place, somehow despite my flat surface. I could the oddest sensation of her fur brushing into place almost like the mask was made for her. With that, however, my vision distorted and my own noise was drowned out by the sudden loss of control over my jaw. I could still feel my body, and hear my surroundings but my other senses had withdrawn. It was like I was now taking a backseat to my own senses. An alien sensation of a heartbeat that was not my own, as well as the movements of a body that I had no control over overlapping with my own awareness. I wanted to shudder, as though someone had just shoved a lizard down the back of my shirt.

I was also distinctly aware that my mind was no longer my own. It was in a field of flowers oh so familiar to the night we spent together in my dreams. There was a massive mirror, showing the reality from our shared point of view, Luna pacing mentally as time progressed slowly on the outside. Upon my appearance, she had given a momentary pause and looked to me, as though for ideas. I shrugged, and she sighed. On the outside Android 21 was not idle. Instead of waiting patiently she was firing a beam at us, but it was a combined effort to dodge out of the way. As though two minds shared each others body.

Power that I siphoned from Android 21 being a contribution to the effort, but it was pitiful in comparison to the massive moon overhead. I simply couldn't drain fast enough against a similar energy absorber. While I could make progress, it was slowed by the progress she in turn gave. Consuming a considerable amount of effort on my part, but watching Luna in action suddenly gave clarity to just how the horned casters did magic.

With similarity to a magical circle, an overlay would emerge from the mirror, and Luna would sequence in a long stream of icons that each had individual meanings. Some of which I knew thanks to Trixies teachings, most unknown. However, as I watched, it seemed almost intuitive as each icon matched up to a particular element of a spell. Her concentration providing complexity. It reminded me of a pianist on their craft, a song in the works for each spell. Some as simple as a few notes, others as long as a grand orchestra. Eventually even Luna's hooved hands had to stop playing though, and as the movement stopped, even if it was just for a split second... The spell would then go off. This gave me an idea.

Luna was using something she called her trump card, the formula which was repeated again and again. Channeling the power of the moon through herself like a wire. For lack of a better term, I plied myself in like a splice and donated my own efforts, not in the form of raw power...

But as a processor for multitasking.

On the outside, things had seemed one sided. No matter what they threw at her, Android 21 just kept coming back no worse for wear. But as the first few seconds of time flowed forth, there was a certain change in the atmosphere of the fight. Android 21 fired at near point blank range. This was near impossible to dodge at this range. Given that the shield wouldn't be able to come up in time to block it, and that dodging a beam moving roughly the same speed as light. But given the circumstances, she shouldn't of been surprised when the first action of the newly masked mare was to create a portal diverting it away. This gave her just a seconds pause, enough time for the princess of the sun to scorch her raw like a flamethrower.

Another new problem that was solved this time with a kick to the face, hard enough to daze the solar monarch but not enough to kill. She had bigger problems now that two of her treats were working together. The white mask wasn't moving with uncertainty anymore, instead the stern expressions of Princess Luna guided it. The flames of bright blue now becoming dark as a new wave of star-styled projectiles came into existence and fired. She began the dodging game again. Bored. It seemed both parties hadn't learned their lessons when it came to damaging her. If anything her aim had gotten worse! When she saw two shots going far wider than normal, she couldn't resist the taunt, "What? Your aim get worse with that fire vision?" Too late did she see the trap.

I had altered Luna's spell, taking some of the many arrow templates and having linked them together and removed the homing parameter in her complex designs. It had momentarily caught Luna off guard as the spell went off, but then results made it clear what had just happened. A thin string, barely a millimeter wide had strung themselves up between the two now linked spells. When they flew to either side of their target, the string caught on her gut and caused the momentum of the arrows to bend their trajectory. Drug by their tethers, they circled around Android 21 before impaling themselves into her sides. Securing her arms. Already another three of the altered spell then impacted, reinforcing the arms and capturing the legs and tail with their impacts.

Luna nodded to me, and I nodded back, "I'll create"

"And I'll upgrade!" I agreed, as her next volley of spells queued, dozens of similar arrows being processed the way she normally did it. I cracked my mental fingers and started to experiment.

Android 21 for her part was now trying. After the first wave of altered arrows she had dodged expecting more of the same. Unfortunately for her, each arrow was now given the alterations individually in ways that only a mad man who'd puppeteer dozens of different puppets at a time could give. Fire arrow, Ice arrow, Toxic arrow, explosive. Arrows that split into more arrows, others that chased her about like a flock of angry piranhas. Chaos and pandemonium added into an otherwise orderly saturation firing of spells. Her concentration was slipping with all the new factors. Then the Puppet Master had figured out how to add his own constructions to the mix. Just as she was about to fire off a beam, a energy construct had formed, just a fist, but a fist none the less and socked her in the jaw from out of left field.

The impact would of shattered her, but the realization of the fist and the time between its travel and impact had realized a shield behind her to catch the splatter before it spread. With her forced regeneration, however. The time left just enough of a gap for several more arrows to rain down. Ice encased limbs, and more tethers tied themselves around her, holding her in place.

Luna looked upon the scene, "This won't hold her for long."

I winced, "It's a fair bit more holding than what we've been doing yet."

"She can't teleport away at least. What do we do now?"

I could still feel my body chipping away at her reserves bit by bit. Luna felt it too, it seemed now that we were connected. That meant total obliteration was out unless-. Luna gave me an odd smile, the kind that made me worry for my future dreams at night. Suddenly I was the conduit for the moons power for a split second.

Android 21 was focusing, with all the things going on she needed to get free. Thus it was a total surprise to her when the caster of magic, instead of staying back away from her like normal, had decided to teleport in front of her, and hit her in the one way that she hadn't expected.

A straight curb stomp into the gut.

Like any creature with a gut when dealt a tremendous impact. The urge to hurl becomes near overwhelmingly strong. Coupled with a new explosion chaining out of it into your mouth and well... You get the idea. The resulting vomit caused several things to spiral out. First and foremost was a large amount of partially digested sweets, which reverted forms and disappeared back to the various dimensions of which they originally belonged as soon as they appeared. The second of which was the Puppet Masters body, covered in vomit and slime. The worn out thing looked like it had just walked out of a fireworks factory that had caught aflame. Robes charred and cindered, as well as gloves now ash from the latest explosion.

Heck it, and the mask on Luna's face fell to the ground first thing the former was clear of her mouth. Clearly having spent far more than it was capable of channeling at once. But the kicker was what was the third thing that fell out of her mouth. Was a far more human version of her. Shivering and in a wreck. Wearing a red and blue four checkered long bottomed shirt. The next impact had sent her flying upwards. Where now she could suffer from the missing party of this battle.

Celestia hadn't been idle. As the monarch of one of the most destructive celestial bodies imaginable short of a black hole. She had collected the suns fire into a ball of energy about three times as big as she was, balanced precariously on the tip of her horn. Now that both Luna and the others were free from the crossfire, and that she was bound unable to escape. The Solar monarch had decided to live up to her butt-mark and give her the ultimate burn.

The evil Android 21 perished in a blazing ball of light that would make Kid Buu of dragonball flinch. Her other half, still a shivering unconscious wreck, being dragged back through the dimensional portals it came from. The Puppet Master, now in the embrace of the uncaring ground, gave a small cheer before passing out from a combination of pain, stress, and exhaustion. That dark side of hers swore she'd be back, even if it took dragging herself through the gates of hell. Hell be damned, whichever one she ended up in anyway.

All Tied Up

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The pain of cooking is to accidentally burn oneself upon the stove. There was just sharp pain, coating the entirety of my body. As though one had landed face first in the hot stove top and rolled around upon it. Waking moments in agony followed by dreamless sleep from either magic or medicine I did not know. Everything hurt and all I could remember was that brief connection. Where a single strand of energy had laced from the moon lit sky, and connected to me. With it, it had felt as if an ocean wave filled to the brim with crushed, dry ice had washed over me like a sneaker wave. Caught off guard, reserves filled far past maximum I had the feeling of being about to burst, like I would of exploded. Then a snap of my fingers and nothing.

It was this bleak darkness that surrounded me for this time. But it didn't seem like much time passed at all, as though a mere blink of the eyes had transferred me from the falling sensation of the ground rushing to meet me, to the hospital bed... Then an overwhelming feeling of tiredness, in combination with the headache of having slept far longer than one should. The pain was dulled, and I could see why. There was an IV in my arm, pushing into me what I supposed was painkillers into my otherwise mummy wrapped body. But I wasn't attached to my body, it was laying there on the bed, sure. But I was set upon the nightstand. Left to face it. Like a common piece of decoration. I couldn't see my own face, it was wrapped up as much as the rest of me.

I noted, with some disconcerting awareness that my usual clothes were gone, replaced with a loose and large nightgown over the heavy bandages and that also meant someone had undressed me as a logical conclusion. I didn't know who and didn't want to know how I had come to end up in the drab teal blue almost sickly green patient garb. But as I tried to move to recover my face, my body didn't move, still sluggish and waking up, I figured it must be whatever medicine they had me on and focused on regaining feeling in my limbs. After a few minutes I was regretting the decision as dull pains, and burns began to make themselves known, still rather numb I tried to move again, and managed to tug on a blanket enough to reveal the reason I couldn't move. Which was a quadruple series of metal and leather locks on the medical bed, keeping each limb stationary and held down, while another fifth and sixth band held down my waist and torso to the bed.

Now I was concerned... Well as concerned as one who felt barely anything could be in this state. Briefly I considered my options. Which were near none until some more of the medicine wore off. During the time between passing out and waking up, it had seemed a decent portion of my magic had recovered, the energy was there but without anything to use it with it was practically useless, unless I felt like trying to learn how to levitate the bed I was on. Wait maybe I didn't have to levitate the bed... If I could concentrate...

I felt a wave of nausea overtake me as I tried to do magic on my own disembodied face. Enough so that I lost concentration, and with similar results occurring repeatedly, I gave up after the tenth try. Perhaps someone would be nice enough to put my face back on my body if I asked politely. The farthest I got was about a quarter inch off the tables surface before falling back down into where I had been laid. Which was okay I guess, perhaps I could do that cliche thing where I pretended to still be unconscious if someone came in the room and told me either their deepest darkest secrets or gave a love confession. That seemed to happen all the damn time in anime and games if someone was hospitalized.

About an hour passed without incident as if just to spite me, and I contemplated trying to go back to sleep without anything to do but wonder and plot my own eventual escape. But my position away from my body disabused me of the notion considering it was still freaky to be able to watch myself wiggle. Was my hair always that messy? I needed to get a haircut soon. I did not have hair cement to try being an anime or JRPG character. It had always been a bit long for a guy, but the time within Equestria had lengthened my chocolate colored hair to just past shoulder length before I knew it. I'd either need to invest in a brush soon or cut it. I briefly wondered if I should also dye it, then wondered if Equestria had magical hair dye in consideration to the alicorn Princesses of day and night. Before I had mostly just kept my hair in a bun behind me while working or let it down for rest or occasionally when I wanted to feel dramatic, but that probably wasn't noticed at all with my hood constantly up.

As I contemplated how Luna and Celestia maintained such extraordinary hair; the noise of hooves on stone became faintly audible. Quickly, I pretended to go back to sleep, falling limp in body like a marionette cut from its strings and letting my approximation of eyes cease to move. Something that had horrified me now that I noted it as a physical reaction was that I had never needed to blink since my face was replaced, I wasn't entirely sure how I was supposed to look when asleep, when I had tried 'shutting my eyes' in view of my puppets, my vision had never faultered from the blue orbs of fire that occupied the masks hollows. And unfortunately I was a bit too paranoid of Amber and my other companions back at base to let myself rest to find out. Yoko was a valid option, but to bother her with such a trifling matter at the time had never crossed my mind. I settled for the famous 'thousand yard stare', focusing on a line where the corner met the ceiling on the opposite side of the room, the straight forward position of how my mask was laid as the door entered and a semi out of focus white with pink mane entered the room.

She was replacing the drips that were in my arms, which signaled she was a medical pony. Boring. Alright, this was going nowhere. I guess I could wait or get some answered, so once she was done and about to leave the room I gave my best snarky opening line I had in a while, "Hello, there! I don't suppose you can put my face back on my body can you?"

The mare for her part jumped visibly and ran out of the room before I could say anything else, but my eyes managed to focus on her cutie mark, a red cross, as she quickly exited and slammed the metal door shut. Well that was fun. It was another hour before another came, and this time it was a white and Blue pony. I turned my gaze to him, "The armored Captain of the Royal Guard, Shining Armor. Is this a pleasure visit or business?"

Shield-butt gave my body a disdained scowl completely ignoring my face, as he walked up to my bedside form, before addressing my body, "You're awake."

"Eyes over here Sir Fluff." I drawled out annoyed, which caught his attention at least.

"Ah so it seems that I am addressing the wrong person then, Puppet." Shining commented as he went to the other side of the bed, picking me up in his hoof, and bringing me to eye level.

"Technically the same, just happens my face is away from the rest of myself. Guess you could say I've lost my breathe at this endeavor," I tried for a pun just to get a reaction but without receiving one, I joked, "Get it? Cause my mouth is not connected to my body at the-"

I was interrupted as he lightly thwacked my face into the side of the stand, leaving me to groan in pain as he held me back up, "You think this is a joke?"

That got a smile out of me, with a dry chuckle at that, "I very much believe this is above your pay grade captain. Why do they call you a captain anyway? Do you command a naval vessel? Shouldn't it be something along the lines of 'Base Commander' or Colonel?"

My good point was answered with a deadpan expression, "It is a term used for military guardsmen of the royal defense. Not the matter at issue here, you have been placed under arrest and strict guard by the Diarchy of Equestria for multiple broken laws within its lands."

"Hah, tell that to heroes as well as villains do you?" My grin was a bit forced, "Though I bet you've made it personal considering the incidents on the train and Museu-" Another face full of table, and this time I bit the damn leg of it. That caught his grip sliding off me for a moment before magic enveloped me and drug me off it. Stupid cheater magic.

"Continued talking can and will be used against you in the monarchs trial. Your right to a lawyer has been approved of by Princess Luna, and you will be able to appoint one by letter. And in case you are thinking about being rescued by your allies..." Shining Armors gaze narrowed, "We've found the location of your base and are currently undergoing the raid of it as we speak."

My heart skipped a beat, forcefully concealing my shock, and thinking it over. How had they found it? My thought skimmed through my mind, circling back through the chain of events that had lead to me being here. It couldn't of been Luna, in my mind I didn't ever see her trying to force herself into my memories. Which meant further back. And I realized that there had been a new exit and entrance made into my base before the battle had started. My eyes hardened into a glare, and Shining Armor's magical grip almost faltered at the pure venom in my voice, "Rainbow Dash."

It made sense, the hole in the mountain made by that 'Android' lady, a beam meant to kill me in its first strike had instead opened a half-person sized hole that could of been climbed out of if desired. She probably saw it as a perfect chance. So much for being loyalty, though I had doubted that allegiance at the start. No doubt when she saw that my base wasn't in the woods but rather at the mountain, she had flown back and done the loyal thing to her nation and friends and made my base of operations public. To think I had just armed her with a sword as well. Well there was a bit of my plans to make Rainbow a witness to tragedy into a different tragedy. There was likely going to be casualties for this, Yoko and her group of space marines would cut a lot of folk down before they could be brought down. Though I hoped they saw the subsequent loss of power as a reason to evacuate. I had no longer any control over the GLaDOS puppet mask I had early on noted, and with the mask there they should be able to escape instead hopefully.

"She came directly to the castle and told the entire day court where your base was. Did you expect her not to?" Shining Armors face was neutral, "You endangered several of her friends, and on your first meeting knocked her unconcious with a shovel." Shining Armor pointed out, and I sighed.

"Yeah, well I was hoping after the disaster with your sister and her friends, that her position would of changed somewhat. After the ill advised idea that was Mare Do Well."

Shining armored Tsked at me, which was mildly surprising. So I asked, "So when are the rest of the element bearers going to get arrested?" Which got me a raised eyebrow.

"Why would I arrest my sister and her friends?"

"Well lets see..." I rolled my eyes, "Do you want individual accounts which will take a while, or the rough approximation? No wait don't answer that I'll begin with your sister," Shining armor went to open his mouth and retort but I interrupted him, "Attempted extinction and mass genocide of an entire species through use of magic. The mass brainwashing and mind rape of the use of the 'Want it Need it spell'. Neglect and mild abuse of a minor, as well as complicit in robbery of gemstones of a tribe of Diamond Dogs with Rarity, among unlawful use of magic and other things. If you give me a sheet of paper and a pen I could write a complete list given a day or two."

Shining armor paused, "You're lying."

"That's the fun thing with people like you Shining Armor. I don't need to. Heroes are just Criminals with a moral high ground." I laughed, and laughed hard, "You lot are blind to the crimes as long as the villain or monster of the week is brought down in the end. They could demolish a barn with a Rainboom without a permit and no one would care because they are 'heroes'. The alternative is the Villain wins."

"They are heroes of Equestria, having beat both Nightmare Moon and Discord, the spirit of chaos, even if they commit minor crimes, its for the greater good of all of Equestria..." Shining armor started to say before he realized where I was going with this.

I felt particularly smug when his white face mildly cracked in horror, and continued on, "And you now realize it, don't you? That no matter how you answer you lose. Ignore me and crimes go unpunished, revealing what sort of government is at this core. Prosecute them, and you sentence your sister to jail time as well as me. Because letting someone go on from minor crimes based on benefit means a dangerous precedent." My smile cracked, edges of my mouth turning into a particularly demonic grin, "And I'm willing to bet with two major threats as well out of the way, as well as having Aided in the return of a certain so and so, and the other net benefits of my existence, that if leeway is given to the Elements of Harmony, for what rules they have broken. Some will be forced to apply to me as well."

"You're a monster. You'll never get away with this." Shining armor murmured, placing my mask down on the table face down, probably just to annoy me, "I'll make sure of it."

I rolled my eyes, as he left. The boy was painfully predictable. And I did mean boy instead of man. His maturity was flawed and he was doomed to being tricked by Chrysalis soon anyway. Vaguely I wondered when my next visitor appeared, and hoped to gain some better amusement from them while I was confined to this bed. Pondering about the fate of my friends, and hoping against some odds that they would get away to safety. A lingering sense of dread in my heart.

Knot Enough Time For This

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It was the rough estimate that the time was around dusk when the two alicorns and their old mentor Starswirl the Beard-on-fire master of magic arrived to my little medical dungeon that was a room. Shining armor had sure left in a huff, and it had annoyed me to no end that my face had been face down on the table for three hours before another medical pony had put it back upright. I gave the other medical mare a short thanks before she hurried off. Not nearly as panicked by my words as the first one had been, but then again I was apparently a villain of some renown here. So understandable at the least. The presumed morphine coursing through my system had nearly knocked me out again, but after the first few hours it calmed down again to let me regain some clarity of mind by the time they arrived.

First through the door was whom I suspected was most anxious if anypony were to be so in this castle. Luna had the look of someone who had just recently risen from bed, having tied their flowing mane into an approximation of a pony tail given that they were ponies and that the hair was waving in invisible winds unknown to man and most ponies at least. I really wanted to blurt out the question about how the heck her mane worked but kept that urge under control as the rest of them filed in. Celestia was looking a little tired, but well kept. From a distance I imagined she'd look like she always did, but makeup could only cover so much I noted. She would probably be going to sleep soon after this meeting. Starswirl for his part was... hard to read as he entered. The flaming beard and mane that made up his face making him difficult to look at directly for facial expressions. I imagine he had reason to like me after having saved his life from being a mildly popular bird-stand of a statue. After having so many discussions with Luna in the past I was banking on her being the merciful side of this conversation, but I was still wary. Betrayal by Rainbow Dash had been a small eye opener, and I was wary of repeats now.

I gave a brief noise of muffled greetings before I was picked up with magic, and began with again with a, "Thank you for picking me up, can I please be put back onto my body?"

"Why so you can try to escape?" Celestia calmly remarked, and I noted it was she who was holding my mask and not Luna or Star-swirl.

"Because it is rather awkward to talk to someone who is holding my face in a non-lover relationship, as well as disconcerting to be away from it for hours on end after having a table pressed to my face for several hours." I snipped back at the positively serene Sunny ruler that was Celestia.

Celestia and Starswirl exchanged glances, before obliging, giving me a moment to sigh in relief as the mask sank back onto my face, well whatever wasn't bandaged anyway.

"So we do have some questions that need answering from you before we proceed." Star Swirl was the first to speak up after the sigh, but it wasn't him who asked the question.

"Just who and what was that creature we fought?" Celestia finished, her gaze was studious now, I noted between the false pretense of motherly-ness. It was a subtle shift, a slight sharpening and focusing of the eyes. Almost like a buyer checking the quality of their Commission, only for a different intent.

"I have no idea, but I imagine they won't be bothering you again before you start the process of interrogation." I remarked dryly. It was the truth in a way, while the fellow displaced was something I knew about, I had not the foggiest knowledge of just what that was. If anything she had looked like a bad fanfiction being played by a complete psychopath.

"But you have some ideas who they are regardless?" Celestia queried, and I narrowed my eyes slightly irked.

"In fiction and theory, yes. But what I have is a mere bit of fantasy in term of knowledge. It bears similarity to a bit of children entertainment back home. Positively barbaric and no longer relevant now that she is gone." Diverting topic I added in, "I'm more curious to why the three of you have come here and just what you will ascertain is my fate to become?"

In the slight pause as they thought over their next words I chimed in looking between the three present, Starting with Luna, and slowly working my way between the two as their fates mixed, "Banishment to a place of certain death for a mere mortal? Being turned to stone? Mind control and reprogramming to an acceptable member of society in a method suitable to evil overlords?"

"That is for us to decide," Celestia remarked calmly, her gaze was scrutinizing now, as if she was trying to read my mind.

"Ah, yes. I do wonder if you heard from your Captain yet." My remark was finished with a slightly widening but positively icy grin, Cheshire like was what I was going for, but if it had an effect it was in vain to the cold mask of Celestia and Star swirl I couldn't tell. Luna was looking more curious between the rest of us, while Starswirl was slowly shifting his gaze between the exchanges, flaming mane and beard roiling with the slight noises of a campfire crackling.

"You mean your comparisons to the Twilight and her friends to your crime spree throughout Equestria? Where you stole artifacts from a museum, physically assaulted several guards in resisting arrest, attempted kidnapping of a royal, alongside other various misdemeanors and crimes against its people?"

"Oh lets not compare notes just yet Celestia, You should know better than to make me bring up the particularly bright spot that is your Pupil or the violations to the Magical Sanctions she has committed in this land of yours."

The Magical Sanctions had been brought up by Trixie when I had asked her laws in regards to Magic and the governments laws and restrictions on them. As it was, it was a rather well written legal document on magic and its practices that was signed internationally as a part of an agreement in order to prevent nations with or without magic from completely ruining each other with mass devastation or cruel and unusual use. It was meant to prevent occurrences of things such as Necromancy, and Diabolism apparently from wrecking havoc upon the world but it also covered such various acts of magic such as unwilling use upon another civilians. It also covered inhumane uses of certain spells such as memory and mind alteration outside of an approved government sanction or for approved therapy. Many such spells that could be dangerous or lethal to another individual were included in here, from Age Alteration, transmutation, to such simple things like shooting someone with a raw blast of magical energy. Interestingly enough, Celestia had been one of the causes for this, having caused a Drought which turned Ancient Neighgypt, a parody of Egypt, into a desert by bringing the sun closer and holding it there during a war to force surrender around 800 years ago. Officially the document was labeled the 'Magic Morales Sanctions Contract' or the MMSC for short. Such violations were likely to be handled by an international court if it affected more than one nation, in order to learn of the cause, the effect, and what appropriate punishment to decide upon in regards to the offender.

Funnily enough, in the form of the Elements of Harmony alone, they violated at least half a dozen different sanctions by itself, let alone Twilights little magical attempts to fix things at various points. I imagine had she stayed in Canterlot rather than go to a remote village isolated from the rest of the nation, she would have been arrested for even half of what she managed to do in the small period of a year alone should it of been reported. Clicking it together, this also explained the severe lack of guards or police force in Ponyville, which made me rise my eyebrow as I realized a bit of the reasoning behind it, "Oh, I see why you sent her to that small remote village now. Tricky, tricky." I compliment the last two words with three taps of my fingers on the bed.

She had very slightly flinched about halfway between my two sentences, meaning she actually was reading my mind somehow, that or she came to the same conclusion that I had. That cold falsely mother like look actually faded a tiniest sliver of a bit to what I could recognized as calculated anger, one of the most dangerous forms of it. Like a cheated ex-girlfriend who wanted revenge on an unfaithful lover, her own tone matched, calm and slightly caring in the false pretense sort of way, "And just why are you hung up on laws, oh agent of Chaos?" her tone implied a sense of 'be careful what you say'-ness to her that I found completely unwarranted.

"Simply put, oh lady of Order." I snarked back at her attempts to passive aggressively threaten me, "One needs rules to prove a point. Though I never imagined one such as you to be acting so..." I paused for a good moment before choosing my next words, "Rash. In comparison to the very laws your land is meant to uphold. But I supposed laws can be bent and ignored altogether if it happens to be broken by someone who either saves the day or is the rulers apprentice in the arcane after all." I spoke the words in the same sense of sick justification one could match to a member of nobility down trodding a lower class family into the ground in the name of profit. If she was reading my mind, she would be getting a sense to just how many villains had used that argument. Of choosing 'The ends justify the means'. Hell several of my villains that I had made the masks for did just that.

"Hmm, we will have to see about assigning a just punishment for all offending parties then." Star swirl interrupted, breaking the tension with his elderly guffaw of presumably thoughtful thinking, "In this case, a lot of heroes could be tried for the same crimes then, no? Does the intent disprove the violation, or does the intent fly out the window in the regards to completing a crime?"

"We would think it would be similar to Self Defense," Luna commented, "A crime of violence being placed on another in order not to have a crime done to themselves, no?"

"A debate for another time." Celestia broke the conversation before it could spiral out of control, "We are not here to judge yet today, but to simply check on our criminal prisoner. Though to be certain, you won't be lonely for long. Puppet Master."

"You mean your raid upon my base of operations?" I gave her a dour glare, "Harm any one of them and the price will be repaid ten fold."

Star swirl actually had the gall to chuckle, "That is awfully big words for someone who is hospitalized with at least half the bones in their body currently on the mend."

"Your base is completely surrounded, with an entire regiment searching the mountains high and low for an escape passage. Shining Armor is personally leading the charge with Twilight and her friends in tow as well."

"Bringing civilians into a military operation, really Celestia?" I gave the dry snark back at her.

Her gaze was almost venomous, and I felt kinda proud that I had gotten that sort of look out of her. Mildly terrified, mind you that she could call upon the entire wrath of the sun upon me, but proud, "We should have a report any moment now, so please, do keep up that bravado." she turned away, momentarily looking to Luna, "Sister, please make sure he ends up in the dungeon proper by the end of your shift, I have no more time to spare before the Day Court begins."

Luna gave a somber nod, her own gaze mildly confused but calculating. Star swirl bid his goodbye as well after patting me on the head for some reason like an irresponsible foal who managed to do something both impressive but highly irresponsible, but left without a word as well. Leaving me with Luna. Once the door was shut, I let out a breathe I didn't know I was holding which turned into a sigh of relief.

"You really ought to manage your tongue." Luna cheekily commented, her eyebrow raised at me.

"Yeah, yeah. Just doing the classic villain thing and digging under her skin." I let go of the pretense of villainous flair, she had already seen my dreams a fair few times and I knew better than to try and hide that much from her at this point.

"So making mine sister furious is your master plan then?" Luna chirped, now that Celestia and Star swirl was gone, she took up a chair I couldn't previously see, and sat on it, leaning her self upon the bed like one would a desk of a study.

"No, it is to make her think," I would of tapped the side of my head if my arms weren't tied down, "Double standards are one of the few things I can't stand at all. Especially when it comes to classifying people as heroes or villains."

"Oh? I don't think you read enough layers into her as I have then." Luna smiled a bit softly, as if a joke was forming, "She has been very frantic as of late managing the safety of Equestria, and it seems you pulled on just the wrong cord for a large number of reasons."

"I will handle that when it comes down to it," I dismissed the topic, not wanting to dwell on such a serious topic further while heavily injured and numb off pain medicines meant for another species, it was a miracle I could form coherent thoughts considering most of my body felt like it was full of loose sand beneath the skin at the moment, "In any case I do need to thank you."

"Oh, what for?" Luna remarked, her grin implied she already knew what for, but wanted to hear me say it anyway.

I rolled my eyes at her little bit of wit but continued on with it anyway like she wasn't being cheeky, "For helping out back there with... This." I eyed the rest of my body, "Had things gone on longer, or you've not shown up, I'd be dead at the moment, so thought I'd give credit where its due to the one actually willing to work with me and as a result save me from that psychopath."

Lunas smile went from mischievous to gentle, "Well you're welcome then, though I do have much to ask of you for tonight. We can continue this discussion once we get you settled in. Celestia does want you in the dungeon after all, and it is not like you're going anywhere else in a while."

"Ah, yes indeed..." I paused as Luna began lifting me, and all the medical equipment attached to me with her magic, and as she began taking me out of the room, I asked quietly, "Luna?"

She hummed a pause, before answering, "Yes?"

"Would you mind giving me an update when it arrives if anything has happened to my..." I paused to think of the correct word, considering the variations of acquaintances to close friends and colleagues in my home, as well as my boss/minion relation to Amber, "Friends? I am rather worried when it comes to armed conflicts and them."

"Only if you don't mind becoming a conversation partner once and a while." Luna remarked back, as we walked and floated down a windowless stone hallway.

"Deal." I replied, without hesitation.

"Deal it is." Luna confirmed, and I let out a much louder sigh of relief.

Well I might be a prisoner, but at least there was someone who could be counted as a friend in here. I just hoped that everyone working for me stayed safe and sound. My mind already going into overwork in trying to predict the results or what my long held bestie would do given me being taken out of action. Quietly, we descended the depths of Canterlot Castle to the dungeon.

Masking To Stay...

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Today was the day everything came crashing down on that smug kids head. That was the prerogative today at least. Given that the idiot had allowed a member of the Elements of Harmony to escape, it was going to be bobbin for apples in a barrel without water for capturing all his colleagues. At least that was what Shining Armor, Captain of Equestrias most elite and finest guards had to think about the situation. Already the guards were climbing up the mountain the Puppet Master had hidden his base away on. With Pegasai patrolling the perimeter in the sky with eyes sharp as hawks. Unicorns bringing out all their fancy tricks, a myriad of magical arrays that would make escape impossible short of a master like Star Swirl The Bearded. Then, even speaking of the said flaming spire of brilliance and genius himself was tagging along up the mountain. The fiery radiance that was said to have been granted with his arrival at Lunas own power alone. That was truly astonishing in his book. The elderly stallion was marching at a pace that set his own soldiers to shame, all the while making it look as if effortless.

With their combined might, this mission would, and should be a breeze. Hopefully as something to makeup for his wounded pride. Too long had that damned grinning masked menace had made a fool of him. After both the train and the museum, it was time for the Puppet Master to end up on the losing streak. With this he ordered his men onward to secure the base, their second set of trump cards however, kept a worse pace than his guards. which was to be expected unfortunately. Half of them were, after all, not meant for athletic efforts of mountain climbing.

"Wow, we really are going the exact same route aren't we?" the beautiful mare, one of the top fashionistas in the country asked, "Did he really make his lair in the cave Fluttershy scared away the dragon of?"

"The one who threatened to nap for a hundred years and cover Equestria in its snoring-smoke?" the master of sugar, both in and outside the body asked. Of them she was the only one who showed Star Swirl levels of energy, possibly even beyond that as she was positively skipping up the mountain, "Yeah its the same route."

"Hold, on. Wasn't there like, a metric field load of treasure up there?" Applejack asked, looking more like she was putting pieces together than even considering the effort it took to climb such a steep incline. Shining Armor was beginning to rethink his soldiers training regiment with how easy so many civilians were making it look like.

"Well, technically speaking that would make sense that the treasure was still there, after all the dragon didn't appear to have any giant reinforced bags to carry all that treasure with him when he left, and he did leave in an awful hurry after Fluttershy scared him into behaving."

The mare in question, was dubious to Shining Armor. She seemed more afraid of her own shadow than the sort to even try to scare away an adult dragon. If it wasn't for his own sisters testimony he would of inquired further. Normally he would join in the socialites, since he was curious after all just who his sister made friends with. But rigid training in the guard kept him on duty. Unfortunately for Twilight, he had to smirk a little, this caused problems for the once introverted bookworm that was his sister.

"What I want to know, is since when did Twilight have a brother?" the only other athletic member of Twilights band of friends, who was albeit cheating by flying, had pointedly store the question back in with a glare that could nail down a train track, "Let alone that she didn't even tell us he was also in the royal guard. Details Twilight!" The bookworm, that was his sister merely seemed to stammer but it was quiet enough that he didn't catch the follow up conversation.

Rainbow Dash was here twofold for the reason that she was the one who found out the location of the villains lair, as well as being a member of the element of Harmony. Though he had to note that she was very moody the entire time they were traveling together. Something must of happened between them recently, probably something that caused Rainbow to end up in the Puppet Masters lair in the first place. But so far she had been mostly passive-aggressive and then almost truly hostile towards her own group of friends, which was ruining any chance of his own first impression of the Mare of Loyalty. Who true to her element, stuck around loyal as any guard, but really seemed to hate being within even line of sight to Twilight, let alone any of her normal friends. But given their luck, it'd likely be a song, a sob or a life threatening danger that returned them to the status quo, probably with some sappy comment about how they should never have done X or that they should of done Y.

Shaking his head clear, Shining Armor continued the advance, directing guards left and right, only pausing as Rainbow Dash investigated and found the hole she had crawled out of to freedom. The end had been blocked with a large rock, but that didn't dissuade a royal guardsmen. One order, and a guard specialized in cutting magic down the hole later, and a path was cleared... Quickly the guardsmen rushed down, one after the other, to take up as much space as possible. Though Rainbow had cut ahead of him, he had prepared a shield spell just in case of an ambush. But all was quiet.

"Alright his entire bunker should be right in here!" The Rainbow mare declared, as they breached the final few feet of the cramped confines, but Shining Armors confidence was shot as he came in after her, Rainbows own words echoing his thoughts, "What? Where did it go?"

They were standing in a roughly hewn cave, ones that lacked any semblance of life save from the unnatural cuts in the stone itself. This can't be it, shining thought to himself. After all, how does one dismantle an entire underground facility in the matter of less than an hour. Any deconstruction and transportation would of been easily sighted by the watchmares he had posted as soon as he had received word about this base. At most, since Rainbows departure Puppet Masters forces would of had less than half an hour to pack up and leave. There should at least be the structure behind, let alone dozens of folk trapped here with no other escape. He sent Pegasai both up and down the sudden pit that marked the central piece of the structure, but he knew it was in vain. It took immense willpower not to take off and hurl his helmet to the ground, and curse out the Puppet Master for once again foiling any attempts to deliver the crowns justice upon the foul villains he had held.

Meanwhile, by a city near the Sea, Yoko took off a mask with the amber eye, glad she had been given the time to evacuate not just everyone and their stuff, but all of her friends stuff as well. Already news reports had come in about Xanders capture, which was worrying, and she mildly cursed herself that she hadn't reacted in time when her friend was under attack. But perhaps there was still a way to save him. Or at the very least grant him a way that he could get out. At worst, she could stage a rescue, but that would blow all their covers and her grimdark team of war veterans weren't exactly used to using the non-lethal approach that Xander stated as part of his guidelines for combat on this world. The only mask she had of his was GLaDOS, and while useful for maintaining and building defensive structures and position, was near useless as a non-lethal measure by itself.

In the regards to setting up a new base, it was proving crude but useful, though to be honest it was a miracle that they even had the mask at all. They had to work together to decouple an elevator and when that refused to open for sole pegasus Cass in the group, it had taken a carefully aimed series of bolter rounds to blast open the door before Cass could retrieve the mask and bring it back down to Yoko. Xander had been clever, but he hadn't allowed for stairs or an emergency exit/entrance in the event of his own collapse, and she suspected if she hadn't been there or played the Co-Op with her friend, the entire group would likely of been facing a swarm of guardsmen around now. The hole that had been carved out seemingly by a laser was too small for most of her own allies to fit through, not to mention that if they did get out that way if they could even returned. So with mask in hand she took the next logical step and became temporarily the psychopathic A.I. and proceeded to portal everybody, their possessions, then Xander's possessions and treasure horde to the city that was being built for the Sirens. To be precise to a little bit of woods right on the outskirts above the beach. Then came the tricky part, of lowering herself into an open portal, and withdrawing the rest of the structure so that nothing would be left behind for study. But it turned out most of the structure had been formed from magic, and with conservation of energy in mind she had channeled far more than she should just transferring the energy into a new structure.

It was... Sloppy, admittedly, she knew she never had an eye for proper design when it came to mixing living conditions with defensible structures. Xander had been more of the architect type, and an utter terror for any Dungeon Master who let him construct his own base back in their old world. But it would hold until she could mount a rescue. About thirty minutes later and she could of sworn that she heard the distant rage of a screaming stallion in frustration, but chalked it to her imagination before getting things properly together. What else of Xanders toys remained?

Lets see... a lot of his proof of concept weaponry and tools were still intact, albeit the chest itself had suffered a severe dent in one corner when it landed from a less than precise landing after portaling. Various eras of Starwars Lightsabers constructed from PCP pipe and foam, mostly useless since she was unsure if her friend would have the energy, let alone the skill to wield a lightsaber, let alone a sword in combat. Taking out and putting aside the energy swords, she found a collection of Gimmick Weapons from Kingdom hearts 2 Organization XIII and even a robe that matched them. She snorted, as she saw he also had built one for a stockier frame, likely herself. Aw, Xandy-Candy had wanted them to match. Her snort really did melt into an aw, as she then dug out a half completed suit of power armor, the kind she instantly recognizing to have belonged to one of her own characters back in the day. The fact that Xander had even remembered the photo she had badly drawn and made it at least partially reality was a fair bit touching. But as useful as that seemed, Xander did say incomplete props as well as heavily damaged ones couldn't even begin to be of use beyond acting as their foam counterparts normally did.

She kept digging, eventually sorting out the trunk sized chests contents out and moving onto a second before she pieced together everything she could think would be possibly useful for Canterlot Castle. In the end she had to go with a spare deck of cards, which she did note was a brand new deck in comparison to the one her friend normally used. But then again he did say he went through decks of Luxords signature weapon at an alarming rate, so it would be strange if he didn't keep a deck or two spare. If all else it was something he was familiar with by now. Aside from that, she had found a mask of Sauron from lord of the rings among his possessions, but deemed it useless for a stealth extrication. But kept it aside for later. She would find it funny to scare someone from another realm with that mask, should the occasion arise for it. There was also would be the good lesson for her friend to improve his own raw talent than rely on such an overkill mask, considering the rate he used them even more than the cards. Moving on she had already chosen a utility, but now as the place for something in the supportive role and offensive role. For the former, she placed the Black Robe in. Perhaps Xander could emulate the nobodies ability to travel between realms with it and do a short distance teleport, but if that failed the black clothes would still be of use in blending into the shadows.

As for the offensive role, she debated long and hard but found a proper solution buried behind the layers of props she had extricated. Most of the ones that Xander had used didn't have a proper spare yet, he hadn't been a big fan of duplicating his work unless needed, and the ones he had left had mostly lethal intents, or were meant for projects that he had yet to explain properly. Parts in other words. In the end she had to reach for a Lightsaber, trusting her friends judgement, and trying to find a simple easy to conceal one she instead found something so much better, and that drove a smile to her face, "Oh gods, you were always were a massive fan of the 2D animated 2003 version of him weren't you?" She quietly teased, "Nerrrddddd." under her breath. Now she just had to figure out a way to get these to him without him getting beat up and the props confiscated.

It was time to mount a rescue mission...

Surprise Party

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You know, for a dungeon I was expecting the cliches. Skeletons hanging from shackles behind bars, rats the size of house cats waiting to chew your corpse to bones, and bats screeching throughout the night. Or at the very least the grey concrete prison cells of somewhat modern standard at the very least. But instead what I got was a room that resembled more of a hotel than a dungeon proper. Sure there was still a metal door, warded with all sorts of magic and the typical tiny window too small to fit more than a hand through at a height that required stacking furniture to reach... But the bed was absolutely divine, and for some damn reason the floor was smooth polished stone, the furniture was wooden and nice, as well as a small writing desk with a few books of choice alongside a drawer filled with paper and the materials to write with a quill and ink.

I paused after that, wondering how the hell people used quills in the first place since the only attempts I've ever made with such a thing was as a child, and that usually just ripped straight through the paper with the small sharp metal tips that they had. In the past when people had asked for ye olde font I had made do with a typeface cut out and a paint brush. I made a request for a pencil with the guards stationed outside my cell, though I think it was denied since the request never made it back to my royal captors at least by the evening bell. Rude.

The Cell itself had two ponies, whom were both unicorn guards stationed outside the door and another pair I would later note stationed right outside the window in the event I somehow figured out a way to fit through there. While their backs were to me, I had no doubt that between the magical inscriptions on the door, the fact that tossing the useless quill at it and the resulting smell of burnt feathers signified that yes, I wasn't getting out that way anytime soon. Besides if I had a way to touch a burning energy field, as much as I'd love to risk a hand to drain it there was at least three metal doors between me and the nearest guard. Two sets of bars running different directions but evenly spaced, as well as a solid metal door between them. It was almost as if they expected someone who was able to break through one set wouldn't be able to do the same to the others.

When they had asked about my dietary requirements, I was relatively surprised that they could cater to an Omnivore, but given that Griffons existed, as well as Minotaurs, dragons, and other meat eating carnivores, I guess I shouldn't of been surprised. While they didn't prepare cows, pigs or other animals of land variety, it was a soft core carnivorism that Celestia could prepare on a sudden notice, Fish and eggs were in abundance, and apparently Crustaceans were a favorite among pony nobility which caught me off guard since I considered the vast majority of ponies to be strictly Herbivores. While I wasn't going to be getting the crab and lobster treatment soon, I did have a delicacy that I had thought never to be had again, one of my favorites behind butter baked crab legs.

Shrimp! Glorious and curved pink shrimp! Oh how I missed the little things! A diet of Eggs, fruits, and vegetables had left me longing for the foods of home. I practically had a tear to my masked eye at the sight and smell of it, let alone the five star cooking that had it prepared as if Gordon Ramsey himself had made it just on the other side of the door. The smell, the texture, as my fork slowly slid into it with a satisfying slight resistance that only meat and seafood could offer I felt the weight of home sickness I didn't even realize I had, lift a little. The divine long since thought lost flavor easing burdens and weariness in my whole body.

After the meal I was told to feed the plate back through the small slit in the door, and I did so while asking the guard pony to thank the chef for a taste of home as emotionally as I could manage. Mildly disturbed, the guard nodded before quickly closing the slit as if I was a loony idiot. Well, I guess I would think it silly too if I saw someone make a fuss over what must of been basic seafood.

I went to sit down on the bed, mostly to lie there and let my body rest a little more, My clothes were unfortunately still uncomfortable burnt robes, and I pondered asking Luna if I could stitch some new ones to replace them since otherwise I'd be going around in the buff with my junk exposed, but I hit the point where my butt should of hit contact with the bed itself, I kept going without contact. The unexpected lack of resistance causing me to fall as I saw that suddenly I was being drawn through a portal not unlike the ones that had taken me to Yoko and Skargor way back.

Oh god no. No no no no no! Heck no! I was unarmed! Injured! Why would someone be summoning me now? Where was the phrase that was usually said when people summoned me! Panic shot through me, someone used the laptop, likely Yoko, otherwise this was all really uncalled for. I desperately hoped that she had some sort of plan, and that I wasn't going to arrive in another war zone while injured and unarmed as I tumbled through the void. The portal shut quickly after the last bit of my body fell through it, with nothing to grasp onto I rather didn't have a choice this time. Feeling a little sick, I tumbled through the black space between realms, a faint grey fog overwhelming the entire place, before hearing a portal rip open behind me. I tumbled through it, landing gracelessly face first into the grass of another world.

"Ow..." I Muttered, trying to stand up when another unexpected item fell through the portal. My entire crafting kit and the wooden backpack that it fit in, span out, and nailed me in the back, "Gaghh!" I whined, my abused body crying in protest at the impact. My gloves were intact, so I had that going for me, as I slowly stood up, I was of course surrounded by a few ponies, a short small child who looked like she fit in a military academy with a bobby hair cut that was fit for a 1920's icecream commerical, a red haired for the lack of a better word Amazon, and a guy in a mask with a katana that had my summoning charm on it.

The ponies seemed standard, at least as far as I could tell, but the guy was defintely human, or at least as far as I could tell given that he had an eye visor and looked like he just walked out of a high quality CGI anime with spikey red hair that looked sharp enough to give Sonic a run for his rings. My back screamed at me as I stood up, and rubbing it I commented, "Ow! Damnit, I really need to find a new way to get summoned aside form getting literally ripped from home.”

If I had some way to say yay or nay to being conjured it would be extremely convenient Otherwise this was going to get old really fast if I say was about to go take a nap and suddenly portals. Oh wait. Looking around on the ground, I noticed a few of my pet project masks had fallen through with my kit, in particular a Sauron mask, General Grevious mask, and with a note of satisfaction I saw my marionette tool had somehow managed to sneak its way back to me despite being under Celestia's magical lock and key. The swordsman I note, kept his hand on his swords hilt as he asked, "Are you the Puppet Master?"

"Woah, calm down dude. You are the one summoned me. No need to go off the rails." I stretch, trying to rub out the aching pain with my hands only to get a loud crack of a pop which causes one of the nearby mares to wince, my attempt at putting them at ease seeming to put at least the ponies more on edge.

One of the ladies, the smaller one in military uniform, my guess out of a sense to down the tension walks straight up to me without a care in the seeming world for a potentially dangerous stranger, and asks, "Are you a human? Or a Faunus?"

If the look of confusion that crossed my face wasn't a dead give away enough, I pondered the question a short bit before remembering, right I have a mask for a face with fire for eyes and a tongue. Not sure what the later bit is I both answer and ask, "Human, though what's a Faunus?"

I quickly bent down to retrieve my small collection of left over props as the swordsman at least seems to take his hand off his sword, heading over and uprighting the crafting kit of mine as he responds, "I am. Faunus are basically humans with animal like features. Most have things like horns, animal ears, senses and even scales." As he explains I shoot another look his way and notice just who is behind him.

"Oh great the Elements. Guess you are one of their friends?"

He must of noticed my sense of distaste, that and my wording was shit, I was half surprised my given taste of hostility at their appearance hadn't immediately triggered him to... Well I don't know, summon a dragon or something? I couldn't place a marker on what he was from. Faunus didn't ring any bells, which might of meant he was a displaced of a series that didn't exist when I was taken away. His own mouth seemed to turn to a frown, expecting probably that I was a villain of some sort, which while I was most certainly a dastardly villain, I wasn't an 'evil' one. His voice confirmed my suspicion, "Yes I am. We met after I protected the town from a Grimm attack. What is with the tone little dude?"

Oh that triggered all my Edward Elric Instincts. Taking a deep breathe to calm myself I respond, "Sorry. I haven’t been having a great time with my version of the Elements aside from Rainbow. And even then, it is only because she ‘works’ for me." Not a technical lie, Rainbow did 'Work' for me for however briefly, even if she did turn traitor right afterwards.

"Well, let me be the first to welcome you here to my home. My name is Adam Taurus." Adam says holding out his hand. I considered the danger of him just overpowering me if I took his hand, but since they hadn't attacked me yet, I cautiously reached forwards and shakes his hand before he shoots a look to the two pretty anime girls, "Those two are Penny Polendina and Pyrrha Nikos." He leans down to whisper in my ear, "They are characters from the show RWBY and they both died in their world. The gods of their world decided it was not their time and sent them here."

My eyes widened in surprise, well it wasn't discord at least who brought these three, I didn't recognize the show which explained a few odd terms like Grimm. But it was rare for characters to die in a show, most of the time they circumvented their deaths one way or another, so it was a surprise to hear not one but two people who look like classic harem material for a shows main dude protagonist to kick the bucket. An educated guess to anime tropes I would of pinned the red haired amazon Phyrra as the Tsundere main interest, and Penny as the little sister incest romance that anime was fond of.

I bring forth my best smile, "Nice to meet all of you. I go by Puppet Master in my home but that is just a title and alias. My name is Xander." The others looked a little unnerved, and I internally wince. Right, fire in my eyes and mouth. Frick. Both of them were also armed I belatedly noticed, Penny with a hovering back mounted string-sword no less. God I was jealous of that already. How did that even comply with physics? Actually, I didn't want to know. I'll just assume they are magical girl high schoolers or something.

I tried to make a coy comment, the words leaving my lips without forethought or shortly memory of what I just sid before getting a smart response that they were called Huntsmen. In which I'm given a full rundown on the series, from what Huntsmen and Huntresses were, to Grimm and the strange weapons at least two of them were using. At least I recognized a Katana, but apparently his had a special ability. Which given the anime tropes, what anime protagonist didn't have a special demon sealed sword or what not? When he commented about the grimms being dangerous to catch when I made my own comment about studying one or two, I decided to show him why I was called a puppet master after digging out one of the older worse quality masks that I had found in the bottom of my kit, it was an old one, not well built to the trained eye, but the spare Bowser mask had been left buried beneath tools and while rough to wear the king of the Koopas popping into existence seemed to impress at least Adam and the two other humans. If scaring the ponies a little bit. We come to an agreement.

In exchange for my temporary stay here, I'd build him a prop, while he went to work on a house project of his own. Apparently he was a recent arrival. Well given a few sketches, I set to work. Shotgun gauntlets were apparently what he needed, and while the design was a little... Eccentric to say the least, it was good to get an itch out of my system to do some work again. Being cooped up in a medical bed had left me albeit a little restless, and while I did need more rest, sitting in a chair with my crafting tools was far more satisfying than taking a nap. While I began molding the basics, I had my puppets begin to search out other materials that I didn't have on hand. While I had plenty of coloring, crafting foam, and moldable plastics, thanks to the gem powered generators, I did need to scavenge gemstones as well as desiring a closer look at these 'Grimm' themselves.

Puppets scattered, basic wooden dolls leaving into the forest in search of familiar landmarks near Ponyville. Five snuck towards the gemstone mines of the Diamond dogs, and came back shortly with enough gems for the next few projects alongside the current one, and others went to the most dangerous place in Equestria presumably. I did find an odd bear with tar black skin and bone exoskeletons similar to Adams mask, but when several dolls worked together to suplex and strangle the thing to death, it dissipated into smoke. Which meant gathering materials from such creatures were impossible. So Instead, I had them check around the mountain of the dragon where I had made my own base in my old world, and dragged back enough gold and iron to do a rough coating. While I wasn't a blacksmith, gold decorative band for wrists and ankles could be reshaped to fit Adams arms, and iron was the perfect material for where shell casings would be put in and ejected. For shells I molded a bunch of individual plastic and metal duplicates using coins and a puppet spot weld with metal rings to form the base of them and prevent misfire. Fitting the firing chamber to fit the shells themselves and provide as much user safety as I could offer to such a silly thing as shotgun Gauntlets could allow.

Once the prop itself was made, a quick three coats of spray paint would see it completed to his specified color schemes, and as they dried between layers, I worked on a few replacement masks to the ones I had lost fighting the Bio-Android-Majin-Buu-Psychopath. Only had time to set two of them drying before the shotgun gauntlets completed their final layer of paint, as the first was primer to set a default shade. The Second was the paint colors itself, and the third was a glaze to both preserve the paint from damage by weather, as well as provide a shine that was similar to metal that it was mean to look like. The shotgun shells themselves didn't require paint, since the molding process of plastic required the color to be added beforehand before the mold, and the metal coins and rings used were already the right color. I couldn't fill their contents with actual ammunition since I wasn't actually a gun or ammo smith, but Adam had a solution to that.

After I packed everything up, we bid our goodbyes and he exchanged a token with me as well. At least this time when the service was concluded, the portal opened up properly, allowing me to step through it rather than ambushing me suddenly. However, just as before I ended up falling head over toes, this time gracelessly crashing onto my bed. Shockingly no time seemed to have passed since my departure, and the noise was quiet enough not to alert the guards. Though I quickly hid away my tools beneath my bed before catching my breathe in case they suddenly barged in or checked on me.

I did take note that I had a side room in the form of an enclosed bathroom as well. While It was too small to hide something in, I could work on smaller props in there under the guise that I just had indigestion. Actually, these security measures were far too lax. Thinking of things now, there was a massive problem with Canterlot Castles security, from under performing royal guards to really bad security measures that would screw them over in the long run...

Thinking back to Canterlot Wedding episodes, maybe it was time to pay Celestia a little visit, just to prove a point.

Villainous Security Consultant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To summarize, they weren't.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tonight in the end had been a fun night.

Strand of Thought

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It took half an hour before somepony in the guard actually bothered to check the dungeon itself for me, when Shining had called a search of all the castle and the nearby Roadways for my 'escape'. It had then taken dumping him and his retinue of guards into the pond located in the castle garden to calm him down enough to realize that if I had wanted to escape, I would of already. Though in the end of the night as I was getting comfortable, he had decided to erect a shield against me around me to keep me contained. To which I had to comment that it was too little too late. For in a way, I had already sent around a dozen puppets going every which way out of Canterlot.

Eventually one of them were going to reach the city, and among all the others acting as decoys should they be followed, it would be a fairly difficult mission on foot to track which doll was going where if any of them realized it. When it came to rest, I found I could also maintain the puppets motor functions somewhat automatically, or at least keep them from disappearing at further distances. While I had maintained an Aperture portal at great distances before, it seemed I had drained enough magic to maintain that distance in puppets now near effortlessly for the dozen that was out. I imagined I'd still have great difficulty with more than that if it was cross country, and even leaving the city into the distant countryside I could feel a slight delay between what I received, and what was being inputted as they left my more immediate control range.

I was out of the loop, but given the lack of smug coming from the captain of the guard, it was a given that something had happened to prevent my friends capture. One such puppet found itself wandering the way back through the various roadways and forests towards the mountain I had called home for several months. Just in the event that they had been repelled, or if the worst had occurred. The direct most path would be swarming with guards soon, so I had sent the puppet on a roundabout path to the mountain, deciding that if I were to get there, I might as well use the entrance at the foot of the mountain, instead of using an entrance near where Rainbow Dash had escaped. The lack of information I had was only given comfort by the fact that Yoko had summoned me elsewhere, meaning she was at the least, safe.

I dozed off for the night, puppets in the far distance moving to hide themselves, and my gear hidden away in cards once more. I decided to try something that would likely piss off any of Shining Armors guards and carded myself and the bed I was in, leaving in the place of it one large playing card with me comfortably in it. Being in the card was like being in stasis, almost. I was aware of my surroundings, one side, lit by moonlight and the natural ambience of the room like a giant window from the surface of the pool, and the rest an inky void, confining yet comfortable. I gave one last grin as I snuggled in, sleep slowly overtaking me as the outside world had been muted by choice.

When I found myself aware of the dream, it was a scene somewhat new for me. I wasn't in the car, driving away with boundless imagination, or the library of stories with the piano and acting castle... Instead I found myself laying in a massive grass field of a rolling hills, as fictional aircraft slowly glided by without a care in the world. Distantly I could see a kid standing atop the base of what seemed to be a brick tower, and as I noticed he began to blow into a trumpet. As the pleasant tune came, a distant golem began to descend from a flying castle in the sky, and I marveled the theme, as the sound of rustling grass not caught by wind unseen, but rather a body moving to it caught my attention.

Sitting up, I found myself suddenly realizing that no, the kid was not atop the base of a tower, but rather near the top of an uncompleted one, as the field ended to a cliff top... It was overlooking a peaceful quiet town below, but midway through it transitioned to a completely different city in somehow a both natural yet somehow unnatural way that I couldn't put my tongue on. The first half was a mining town turning towards that of windmills and blimps as I caught myself paused on the view. The reminder was uncanny as if I had remembered a scene I hadn't seen in years. Tilting my head, I ripped my eyes from the scene, as I met eyes with the Princess of the Night. Luna for her part dressed in seemingly a white summer dress, with a wide brimmed hat that matched the outfit, a large stitched flower decorating it in an odd way that was somehow endearing. The details of the flower kept shifting, as if trying to find the perfect match to the dream it was in, and failing. A moment of tranquility drained to reality as I stared upon the detail.

After a few moments it settled down on an odd combination of different tropical flower details, and my attention returned to Luna proper as she was looking not at me but the scene past me, towards the boy who had stopped playing once a familiar golem had come down to pick him up, and off they had flown. Distantly the music had switched, as a young girl flew past, upon a broomstick with an odd pair of black cats. A package of some sort hanging from it as she went about her way, stopping at a house to deliver a package, and fly back the way she came.

"What is this place?" Luna asked, as the distant sea breeze somehow carried across town, to our faces as if it was just right in front of us.

"Hmm... I'd say a mixture of two other stories tonight." I pondered, as a blimp, large and marvelous momentarily cast its shadow upon us, a slight chill interrupting the summers day, but when it left it had become night, without either of us noticing at first.

"Things seem to be changing quite a lot," Luna commented, as she sat down beside me, "Though I imagine you already know why I'm here?"

"Hmm... Could be a variety of reasons." I replied, the city itself was alight, and now changing, as we found ourselves slowly descending, as though the cliff we were on was slowly ceasing to exist, and rather transition towards being the border of the town itself. My dream wandering guest paused at the shifting landscape, the marvelous view of the ocean had been interrupted after all, and as details changed, I asked, "Want to walk and talk?"

"Hmm... Yes. To the beach?" Luna asked, the path itself clearing the way around the borders of the field, and I nodded, "By way of the grassy fields." I replied as I stood up, noticing I myself had been wearing casual clothes for summer, plain tan shorts, and a casual long sleeve shirt of green and blue stripes. I didn't really notice the details of my feet, but I was wearing some sort of sneakers as we began to walk. Gradually the fields of grass turning to flowers, both real and fictional as we walked on in companionable silence for a short while.

Luna was the first to break the companionable silence as we walked, "So why didn't you take the opportunity to escape? I imagined you would of taken the first opportunity."

"Simply put, opportunity." was my instant reply as the music slowly shifted, again, a softer and more relaxing tune accompanying our walk as flowers began to bloom at night, glowing softly in the moonlight, distantly airborne blimps were lighting up softly, designs of many petaled flowers, and festivals adorning the field in dim yellows and reds, As we found ourselves stumbling through the flower fields together, I took a moments pause to breathe in the scents of seeming home. Despite its lack of presence, lilac trees and bluebells tickled my nose, as Luna paused beside me, both of turning as we saw our target location before us.

From here, the lowered hills met sand dunes nicely, sand impossibly white like marble and softer than pillows met our touch as I kicked off the sneakers I was wearing. We climbed together, this time hand in hoof to the top, and she asked, "To do what?"

Her voice was serene in combination with the oceans waves and the song playing from an unseen source, I paused and gave her a wry grin, "To prove a few points."

As we crossed over the dune, sliding ever so slightly upon the sands as we did, we walked our way towards the shining water, sparkling like stars upon the surface. Distantly I could see sparkling jewels and upon closer inspection endless arrays of magical tools and weapons beneath the surface, of armor and equipment, robots and vehicles. Even mechas and castles that moved on their own. Like watching a rolling ever shifting mirror, I wondered if this was this dreams version of the library in my head from our last visit, and as we walked along the shores edge, there it was. A piano that sat perfectly still upon an upraised dock, gentle torches lit with glowing crystals leading to it above the oceans edge. I continued my line of thought as we walked towards it, water lapping at our ankles, warm as if made from the embrace of a bed in the morning, "There are countless flaws in Equestria's security, and the fact of the matter was, that relying upon Twilight and her friends for everything was a dangerous idea."

"Hence breaking out of your imprisonment?" Luna asked. Her mane sparkled quite beautifully in the rosy lit night, and as our legs found purchase upon the start of the small dock that had decorated the beach, the response was natural.

"If your guards aren't able to handle me when I'm mostly inoperable, what pray tell will you do if someone stronger than me shows up, or if someone armed with a broom wants to break in?"

Momentarily there was the creation of a royal guard, as I spoke, and a batty old mare running up to him and beating the guy upside the head with a broom, and the guard passing out as a result of the impact. A bit overkill and unrealistic, but it put the point across, "Let alone I have gripes with many of Celestias countermeasures alongside Shining Armors."

"And you would be willing to share your gripes with her?" Luna prodded, and I paused, before nodding sagely.

"Perhaps if it was for community service." I thought out, "You know, as punishment for my few crimes against Equestria, perhaps as mercy for aiding in the defeat of Android 21, Sharp Opera, and the resurgence of the Windiego King. As well as Starswirls Apprentice.

Four screens momentarily popped up, each with the narrow victories and risks that had been taken in defeating each villain I had encountered, but I shooed them away, they were ruining the ambiance. The talk of prisons and cells had nearly transitioned the town into a full security prison before reverting to that of a quiet peaceful fantasy village. Dreams could be finicky environments, I decided to myself, as I sat down on the pianos seat, Luna herself, laying sideways upon a couch that had appeared that looked eerily similar to Raritys infamous fainting couch. If it had been taken from my memory or if Luna herself had manifested it, I did not know. After a moment's consideration she responded, "you would need to discuss this with mine sister. Which means getting into her good graces. Quite the difficult feat for you currently."

I paused as I considered her words. It was true I had been naught but antagonistic to Celestia. Though I had very little reason not to be at the moment. Between her shoving nation level crisis after crisis on others, the ineptitude of her own security, and lack of foresight in the show. Not to mention her apparent abandonment of her own veteran flier Cassette. Among shoving her 'prized pupil' with zero knowledge of acceptable magical practices in the real world. I had not much but ridicule for Celestia. Some of this was given the slightest of leeway by trying to get Twilight Sparkle to become an Alicorn by the power of friendship, but to me that was a thin excuse. In terms of literary tropes, I had stopped watching the show the moment she got her wings because it was such an obvious sellout to the rest of the series working its way up to Twilight claiming it eventually. Of course, I didn't know when the series would end, or how. Be it pulling a sucker punch with the rather forgettable solar princess getting locked in the sun, or more likely returning to status quo and no one even blinking an eye that there was another of an extremely rare species who could be counted on the hooves of a pony in terms of population. Unless you considered the animation glitches of random Alicorns canon...

Focusing back on the piano, as the three second pause vanished, I wondered what I should play at the beach side piano I was sitting on. On one hand, Davy Jones could have a lot of fun here, but in the tranquility of the moment, I don't think I wanted to tell a story of heartbreak to someone whose affections I wanted. Even if it would garner sympathy the foreshadowing would be unwanted. My second thought was instead of doing a movie to do a game, as Davy jones reminded me of the world of that movie being involved in Kingdom Hearts. Specifically the second one. No, it would be awkward to tell the entire story of Sora. Keeping track of all his game titles stories had been a nightmare, let alone to explain it all to someone else. However, a game maybe was a right track.

It sparked then, suddenly. As I actually stood up, ignoring the piano entirely as it disappeared into the void, a new set of orchestral instruments forming into view as if wielded by invisible hands. Luna tilted her head questioningly, "What are you going to play this time?" She asked.

"Not all stories need be tragedy to be worth telling. Just as not all stories need a hero." I replied in my best Gandalf the grey impression, "This is a story of a farmer, who through hard work, brought a farm from ruin to wealth, and had a happy family life." My inside voice would note that Applejack might of liked that sort of thing, but as my instruments began to play the world around us slowly changed.

A young man marched forward from the edge of town, dressed in overalls and wearing a big blue cap backwards. Overall his appearance was that of a farmer, one might of mistaken for a generic npc had he not been the titles cover. A hoe carried over his shoulder, and a smirk on his lips. A single strand of hay posed out of his mouth like one might use a toothpick or cigarette. As he walked forward, so too did other villagers come out of the scenery, as snow began to drift down on gentle winds. Luna sat up as she watched, as many people, some old, some young. Quite a few girls, though only one stood side by side with the farmer. The wife, and their child. The ocean transitioned into a spring and waterfall backed by a cliff, the surrounding cliffs and fields into forest and mountain walls. The peaceful melody continued to play throughout the night.

And for what it was worth we enjoyed the scene together.

Tea Party

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In the morning I found myself with a brief salad probably as a small act of vengeance on Celestias part for breakfast. While it didn't fill me up, it was still quite fresh. What was more amusing was who I was sharing a morning salad with. Apparently during the early hours of the morning, Shining Armor had decided that the best course of action had been to attempt to confiscate my stuff while I had been asleep, but failed utterly since my entire bed and me, alongside the rest of my stuff had lasted throughout the night inside the enlarged card. So while the wooden side of the two doors was now left open he had now decided to simply bring his office to me so that he could stop me from pulling anymore stunts on his watch. The fact that the number of guards around my cell had tripled as well was hilarious to me. Despite the magical barrier around me, I couldn't help but ask, "Why bother with these measures? If I had wanted to escape, I would have done so already."

Shining Armor gave me a look that was normally reserved for either something incredibly bitter or disliked as he lowered his paperwork, "I can't let you just wander the castle freely. Apparently all of our top grade soldiers couldn't stop you last night. So I am here to make sure you don't do that again."

I shrugged as I stuffed another mouthful of salad into my mouth, given our first fight on the train the logic had been there, but a lot of things had changed since then, "If that's your top grade, I fear what it looks like to be to just be a regular guard."

Shining gave me a not amused expression as I finished breakfast and he returned to work. It wasn't till noon bell that something exciting happened. A guard came, carrying a letter. Sadly it wasn't handed to me, but to Shining Armor instead given the magic barrier and all. But the look on his face told me all I needed to know in regards to what to expect. Still I asked anyway, if only to tease the easily irate stallion, "So, got a love letter there or are you going to share with the class?"

Shining for his part snorted, looking less than bemused, "No. It seems the princesses are inviting you to Tea if you agree to behave."

"Behave under which ruleset?" I asked jovially, "Cause if I have to deal with a dozen different forks and spoons I'm going to throw most of them into a rolled up napkin and ignore them."

That actually earned a snort of genuine amusement much to my surprise. Shining Armor did recover quickly and replied with his usual stern expression, "That only really happens with formal dinners with nobility and national representatives. No, you're likely only wanted for tea and pastries. I would request you to disarm yourself if you wish to go."

"I will take your suggestion into consideration. Then remember they have literally the sun and moon at their beck and call and promptly ignore it" I stated, "Had I malicious intent, the kingdom would be in a panic given last night."

Shining made to argue and I held a hand up, "But." I conceded, "As an act of good faith I will leave the offense of my arsenal here."

I disposed of my deck of cards into the room. All fifty two of them with the various items I kept within them floating about. A few of them held the crafting box and the few tools I had made during my brief escapade to another universe. The rest held puppets, blank faced and life sized save Grievous who was merely in the state of impatient waiting with his arms crossed and foot tapping on the non existent floor of his cards interior. These puppets would keep watch over my belongings while also giving the facade that I could only call on so many of them like a finite resource. A small amount of ongoing misinformation to join whatever else they had gathered. All in all, however, twenty eight cards contained puppets, including Grevious, while the rest were either empty, or holding the various bits of personal effects that I had managed to secure thanks to Yoko.

While I could likely control hundreds of puppets now, I'd present far less of a threat to the princesses if they had the idea of restriction in some form or shape. To aid this I had left the same number of cards empty corresponding to the number of puppets that had fled to the country side. Of those in reality, six had reunited and was a quarter of the way to the siren city, while another two were taking a more direct route through the Everfree forest to the mountain base home. While another group of four traversed the longer countryside in order to assure if something happened to the forest duo, id still have a backup plan. As for the rest of the dolls, I had dispelled back from where ever they came from once I had made a decent distance away from Canterlot.

The response to commands was slowly getting more sluggish as distance provided a delay. As well as the drain for maintaining them growing more costly as the distance grew, though given so few of the puppets I would find the burden easy in comparison to when I had first arrived in Equestria. Like Lifting a pencil in terms of effort. If I had compared that to when Discord had first brought me here, I'd probably be bed ridden from trying to maintain such a far away puppet, let alone several. Turning back to Shining Armor I could tell he had noted that I said only the offense. The implications about defense making itself self evident as he gave me an uneasy look. However, the barrier did drop after a short few tense seconds. And a few more after he unlocked the metal door and swung it open as I stepped out, "Lead the way Captain."

Shining ignored my response as he nodded to his fellow guards who nodded back. I had the odd escort of four guards moved to surround me like that of a tight knit square as we left. Shining Armor trailing close behind. While we walked from the central dungeon turned office I asked, "So are those armor solid gold or just plated?

"Plated?" I had hoped he meant that as a statement but from the tone of voice I was already gasping in shock.

"Why would you torture your men with such a weight?!" I asked, horror evident in my voice.

"It makes us stronger, Like working out but on duty." Shining Replied like it was a no brainer, " The weight also helps with intercepting criminals."

I countered, "At the cost of weighing you down a large amount, reducing the ability to move in a timely fashion and being far worse in terms of protection."

Shining Armor elaborated, "Other materials age too quickly and aren't as abundant as gold. Miners need to dig extraordinarily deep in order to extract ores like Iron and mithril, let alone rarer metals like cobalt and adamantine. One suit costs fortune. Let alone that they have to be tailor fitted to an individual wearer. The nation of Griffonia and the Diamond Dog Corporation have the primary keystones on mining deeper metals, but the former have been extremely controlling on where it goes and what quality leaves their empire, while the secondary is... For the lack of better words, difficult to negotiate with at the best of times."

"I sense hostilities, all the more reason to arm up for a defense, but not so much to go overboard. Is that the reason why your spears are god awful pig iron?" I queried, and Shining armor gave me a snort in return, neither confirming or denying but damning himself by lack of an answer. The remaining walk was rather brief, as tea was apparently being held within one of the castles many private courtyards. A flowery sort of area full of different types of floral expression. A bright backdrop of Peonies, Begonias, Yellow Carnations, and Rhododendrons framing the central gazebo, a white construction with flower decorated cushions and a round table designed after a yellow rose. I may of not been a flower expert, but so many passive aggressive flowers in a single spot spoke volumes with how annoyed Celestia was with me, as said diarch awaited me on one of said cushions, subtly placed a little higher than the rest by a mat beneath it. The fact that the princess of the sun wore what looked to be a mix of a sundress with hat and a proper ballroom dress made me feel awkward in my organization thirteen coat. The fact we were polar opposite in color, probably another jab at the lack of subtly of the events yesterday. The icy look of complete calm on her face as she sipped from a tea pot reminding me of a disapproving mother having caught her foals hooves in the cookie jar.

The darkness fell over my face as it hid my immediate distaste for the situation I was walking into, but a promise to Luna was a promise. Sadly the later of the two monarchs wasn't here, but I imagined what was spoken of in this conversation would reach Lunas ears anyway. As the guards separated from formation, allowing themselves into surrounding the gazebo but politely facing away from the meeting as they were trained to do. Shining armor stood right behind my shoulder, as Celestia nodded to us, the later giving a military salute to their princess and leaving as I moved to sit down opposite of her. Feeling sort of childish as the cushion barely sunk beneath my own mass, leaving me having to wiggle up like a child into the seats proper center. Once such situated did Celestia spoke, the level of calm in her voice only a twinge angry. For what it was worth, that had a shocking amount of weight behind it, "Good Morning Puppeteer. I hope you found your night more restful than mine."

Now the polite thing would of been to agree, but without thinking I responded, "Eh... Always been more of an insomniac, good nights sleep are rare."

Given my immediate response, I paused as the conversation trailed off, for a moment, me with my hands awkwardly in my lap not making a move for anything on the table, while Celestia continued to sip her tea. The later gave a few tense minutes of silence before speaking up again, "Not even a full two nights out of the infirmary and already busting out of prison?" She asked, her voice almost ice.

"To be fair, I was worried about my friends..." At that her eyebrow perked up, the icy look abating somewhat, so I continued, "And the security situation caught me as horrendous, to a massive degree-" The look returned, and my train of thought derailed itself, "Anddddd I was so shocked by it that I wanted to bring it to your attention with the same amount of shock that it gave meeeeee...." I trailed off as the icy look continued. I swear if this woman wasn't the princess of the sun she'd be perfect as the princess of ice burgs instead.

After a few tense moments of consideration, Celestia slowly took another sip of tea as her look wandered off of me, and towards her drink, before remarking, "There were other ways to get my attention, you know."

In the interest of extending the olive branch, while simultaneously benefiting myself, my mind went to work. I gave a moments pause as the increased processing power I was gathering over time to manipulate puppets was working itself up with a plan that had been on the backburner since Lunas first dream visit, "The action was to make sure you were unable to ignore it as a fact of the current time. I barely had to do anything in order to bypass your security, and about half way past sneaking through the entire castle unnoticed, I decided that it was horrendous how bad Equestrias elite of the elite was in terms of actually protecting their princesses. You and your sisters safety being at risk as a result, alongside the rest of the staff that work here."

Celestia leaned into the line of thought, a momentary look of curiosity intermingled with her Icyness, "And pray tell, what compelled this type of reasoning from Discords Advocate?"

"The idea of a deal." I responded in turn, "In exchange for what amounts to peace between yours and mine, I'd like to request a trade with a few terms so that we both can benefit."

Celestia gave pause as she considered the option, I could see the smartness in her eyes, as she processed and weighs the pros and risks, before she asked, "What terms do you request?"

"In exchange for the service of training and equipping a select portion of guards to actually be up to a standard that both of us can be satisfied with, as well as testing your security measures and getting them more devious sorts... I will also provide my services as a 'reformed villain', and provide you with a bit of information you may find vital for the near future."

As I gave pause for breathe Celestia quirked an eyebrow, "Pray tell what information would you know, that I wouldn't?"

"It would rather be said in private, but if you wish to know, one of the topics is Sombra." I said, as I saw the mask of perfect serenity mixed with ice cold stare, crack to surprise I resisted the urge to grin, keeping neutrality, "It is a matter that requires utter privacy between you and me, however to discuss." In the interest of the people rather than the show, I had to keep the matter close knit, because if Chrysalis already had her fangs in Shining Armor, or if any of the guards happened to be changelings, the Canterlot Wedding invasion might be called off, or delayed or rushed.

"We will discuss that as soon as the deal is arranged within the Black Room." Celestia said as she nodded abruptly, "I'm not even going to ask how you know that name, to call upon it with such certainty. What do you want in exchange for these services?"

"Mine and my friends official pardon from the crown, not difficult given the fact that I've dealt with not just Sharp Opera, but the King of Windiegos and that world eating via candy woman. As well as the Basilisk beneath your old castle. However there is more." I paused for another breath, calm working its way and Celestias scrutiny slowly chipping said calm away, "I would like to request three more things, and offer another to sweeten the deal."

"Name them." Celestias look of icyness was fading fast, to her serene calm, as she refilled her cup of tea, tipping in two to three more sugar cubes with the refill. I lost count as I was more concentrated on her face, and I didn't have my usual network of puppets around me to keep track of peripheral stuff.

"I'd like to visit Discords Statue, ask you to consider his reformation, and host a Table Top game, biweekly between you, Shining Armor, Prince Blueblood, and Luna during the evenings of your least busy day."

Celestia slightly nodded towards the first two as she heard them but paused when she heard the last one, "Pray tell, why?"

"Isn't tabletop gaming a way to make friends?" I asked, with a grin showing beneath my hood, "If I heard correctly, your captain of the guard used to be a big fan of Ogres and Oubliettes." I had wanted to run a session of dungeons and dragons at some point in this universe, but discovered in this universe the name sake cousin was just as fun. I had only vaguely recalled the comics, which had placed Shining Armor back in college enjoying the game, as my attention span had been on other things back in my own universe.

The main reason for the change as far as I could tell however, was because the pony universe already had dragons, but not ogres apparently, and doing the metallic vs chromatic in this universe would of probably insulted the actual dragons. Sadly while Yoko was on board for joining a game of it, no one else really had the time in their schedules at the base to do so. Trixie was constantly practicing magic, Cassette had a vigorous workout sessions to get used to her new limbs, so while she did enjoy it, her normal free times were when I was either dead asleep till the later portions of the morning, or way too late to maintain everyone else normal sleeping schedules. Yokos crew was jaded to war, and while willing to fight, they weren't so eager to sit down to pretend-fight. Amber and the Griffons had preferred their drink, and the Sirens while willing would of undoubtedly all made bards and tried to seduce my every npc to get at me considering they still didn't leave my door alone at night.

As Celestia considered her options my train of thought ended as she asked, "And what would you give in exchange for these three choices?"

"Quite simple," I responded in turn, "I will provide the same service I provided Star Swirl the Bearded." I gave pause as Celestias eyes widened to a pleasurable degree, "I will return Luna's guard back from the stone statues they became."

The icy facade broke, as Celestia agreed, "Let us talk the finer details of the arrangement."

I smiled to myself, these was going to be a fun few weeks, I just hoped nothing went terribly estranged from the original plot of the show from my actions. Or if they did, it would go so much better than normal.

Leaded Chains Lead to Regretable Decisions

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The Black Room, as it turned out was a room located in the depths of Canterlot Castle, which was magically warded against outside spells by the simple virtue of being a magically dead material. The fact that this material was Lead made me cheer for all those magic enthusiasts I had known throughout the years, and reinforced that some level of warding was indeed possible within Equestrias own magic, as said room was layered in as many wards against divinitation and outside eavesdropping as physically possible.

My conversation with Celestia, and just Celestia had allowed me to them divulge a few show time secrets, and confirmed Shining Armor and Princess Cadence's wedding as two months away. In exchange, I provided that some time shortly after their wedding The Crystal Empire, and Sombra were going to emerge, and to tell them to tilt their head frick fracking 15 degrees up and look at the top of the tower in the center of the city for the location of the Crystal Heart, and that its spot would be warded against teleportation magics and try to trap whoever grabbed it. Pardon my language, but the spot was a serious plot hole that relied upon the entire population not cranking their head to look at the tower in any detail what so ever and that there was absolutely never going to be at least a single Pegasus, Griffon, Dragon, Alicorn, Bird, or etc. around at all, ever, in the empire. I was honestly surprised that Rainbow Dash didn't find it in the show, given how out in the open it was.

I had also informed her of the details surrounding the Canterlot Wedding invasion, and asked her to remain quiet regarding the details to anyone other than Luna and to inform her of the same. I had to reassure her about the details in regard to getting Cadence out of the mines beneath Canterlot, as Twilight needed to be sent down there to retrieve her, and I made sure to ask if they could even GET the Elements of harmony without her, given the fact that the door to it was locked to a key that was literally Celestia's own horn. The fact that Twilight and company wasn't Celestia made them going for the artifacts pointless if they didn't have a way to retrieve them.

In all honesty, I was curious to what would of happened in the elements of harmony had been retrieved and they were able to go and blast Chrysalis with the 'Friendship' Ie: Mind-Breaking-Lazer-of-Villain-Doom. My own show knowledge had stopped at the end of season 3, and the fact that Sombras return wasn't going to be affected by whatever happened in Canterlot, it was an idea that I wanted to see happen.

As for the guard situation, I was still working out how to train them. While Yoko might be convinced to do so, I didn't exactly want the guards going full space marine on me. Not to mention her presence as a secret was currently beneficial in the event of resumed hostilities. The idea was being mulled out, but so far I had half an idea of how to get the recruitment for the 'Test' unit of guards as we had put it. In order to filter out the Changelings I had recalled from book seven of harry potter which had a waterfall in a very certain part that erased enchantments, including the mind controlling spell, and polyjuice potion which served to temporarily turn you into someone else. Both of which was useful against two of the primary infiltration methods of changelings, and I doubted Chrysalis would ignore me while I did my own thing. Which meant I was upgrading my own defense measures in the event of an attempted mind control or assassination during the night.

The fact of the matter, was now I was technically 'bunking' with Star Swirl himself, as the man was to accompany me as a co-worker and aide to not just study me, but also assist me with information on unicorn magic and how it worked. Shortly after this point in the conversation, we had made a break to fulfill one portion of the agreement, as we continued to talk about far less pressingly secret matters, such as how I was going to be bringing back Luna's old guard from the Castle of Two Sisters, and working out a schedule. Aside from training the guards, which would happen for about a month straight, I'd also be working through Luna's personal guards from highest rank to lowest in order to get the chain of command adjusted so that they could help their lower in chain comrades adjust to the present day. The fact that this was also going to be done on Luna's schedule meant we had to plan around her as well as hire more ponies like the sort that helped Luna first adjust after her return from banishment.

I had a theory I wanted to test in the matter of how many I could bring back as well. While Starswirl had required a massive amount of energy, he was a rather highly powered unicorn, and it had lead to a transformation with how much we had pumped into bringing him back. So the idea was to try a Gold Needle from Final Fantasy instead, rather than use the direct part of a Phoenix. While I imagine there was benefits to the transformation that Starswirl had undergone, we had no method of getting consent for the Threstral guards, and according to Celestia, bright light without proper training or equipment hurt Threstral vision, and kept them from concentrating fully. Starswirl had also complained apparently that it stung to take a shower, and now he was forced to use a fire-proof, water-proof beard and hair net to get cleaned up.

As we reached Discords statue, I had to ponder the creatures intent for bringing me here, considering he wanted freedom, and it seemed until now that I had fallen short on that deal. But as I approached, under watchful eye of Celestia, I went up to the statue and spoke, "Alright, Discord. Don't know if you can hear me, but working on a plan to get you out like you asked," He was so large, even taller than Celestia who already dwarfed her ponies, whom most of them already dwarfed me. I'd almost compare him to a chinese dragon if not for all the mismatched animal parts. Of him, he was still the most show accurate, the only other identifying feature of his uniqueness in this universe being that he still wore the hat prop he had shown me how to fix, giving him a hilarious double horn aesthetic despite the hat being turned to stone with him.

I gave pause as I decided to reach to touch one of his paws, the only one outstretched as if to sing downwards, oddly at just the right height that I could reach it, "It shouldn't be much longer, at least in comparison to the thousand some odd years you've already been a rock, maybe a few more months, but perhaps sooner if we can hash things out a bit m-"

When I touched his palm, my body lurched back a step, as a near phantasm of something hit me with incredible mental force. A sea of chaos, the void of the multiverse, and a vision of home, vastly accerated, as if years of being on earth occurred that I had been ripped away from had occured anyway. As if I was living a second life entirely unaware that I had even encountered the draconequus. As I recovered, and remembered to breathe, as my other-life flashed before my eyes I felt the gentle hoof of Celestia upon my shoulder, but the voice of Discord resounded in my head, 'A present of the present, for your Performance thus far.'

"Are you okay?" Celestia asked, and I shook my head clear.

"I'm.. I'll be better give me a moment, I think he just shocked me for a moment..."

Living another life was like a flood, and I added, "I need a moment to sit down... Can we go back inside?" The fact that moment had been strenous was ever present when I was still a massively injured, but as several years of my alternate life had been building props, and watching cinema, and becoming oddly obessed with other shows, and picking up older ones after a while, I needed to sort through it all. However, one idea did come to mind, "Do you have, perchance... Knowledge of where I can find a craft supply store?"

"What?" Celestia asked, "Why would you need that?"

"Its for the guard training... I can make a few tools to help, but I need to visit it to acquire what I need..."My brain was in overdrive, and my concentration fully returned as I found a few of my puppets had vanished with the lapse from shock, not all of them thankfully, but my mind was currently at capacity.

Somewhere between six to eight years had transpired on my earth, and apparently between jobs I had really, really let myself binge anime, cartoons, and video games in my off time more so than usual on that earth. Despite far less time having passed on this reality. Almost as if time was going faster by about twelve times on earth than it was in Equestria. I resisted the urge to gag, as my mind processed some of the more forgettable moments of my life, and it was a monumental effort to chuck out irrelevant memories. The sheer amount of driving, bathroom trips, and idle conversations that had occurred was really of no concern to me, and I wasn't really desiring to go back to my own earth any time soon given that I was pretty much wealthy enough to happily retire in this universe. That and between my friends here, and fun I was having with magic, the choice leaned heavily in favor of staying. I did keep some of the tricks I had figured out in the other life, as well as the volumes of cinema and gaming which was rapidly being organized. I was sort of disappointed however, in how little new content had really came out in six years, and the sheer amount of displaced in another world anime the other me had decided to binge watch. I mean, some of them were really good, sure, but come on, variety! Give me variety, me!

However, Discords gift had given me a great idea, one which unfortunately forced me to craft something I hated to do, and that was to make a wig, with enough hair-cement to properly anime it. I could already tell the next few days were going to suck, and that I was going to need some privacy. Thankfully with my new lodging, privacy was what I was going to get, as the only guards were going to be the slew of them guarding my door rather than watching me.

As for recruitment, I had initially wanted mostly a force of unicorns and Pegasai ponies, Celestia tried to convince me to take on a few earth ponies by pointing out that their inherent magic made them valuable for terms of endurance, and calmed my concerns about their magic actually being mostly passive, but with what I was intending, they'd be little better than civilians caught in the crossfire, unless I was to gimmick the heck out of them, which could be done better on the other two races anyway. Celestia argued Equality, while I argued practicality, but eventually I relented, and decided to put whoever passed my testing phase that I was coming up with on essentially 'central duty' or rather as part of the back-line support staff that would be essentially in charge of commanding, radio operations, and logistics for the corp I was making.

Part of me wondered why I was going the extra mile here, and another part said that everypony deserved kindness. Still a third part already knew that Canterlot would be fine, with or without me, and why would, or rather should I care about the aristocratic elite or the citizens of Canterlot? As Celestia bid me goodbye for the evening, as the lunch period was ending and her court of the day was soon due to resume, I froze. Why did I care at all? What did I want out of this?

Shining Armors squad of guards escorted me back to my prison as I pondered that question. What was my goal, aside from doing as Discord said, to get his freedom, which had already been all but assured in the shows own lore? Money and wealth was irrelevant thanks to the dragons horde, and acquiring power had come as a reactionary measure rather than wanted. Albeit Power was always welcomed in my hands, as magic was a great option to explore, but I was not the type to hide away and study arcane books rather than go out and about. Even if I was, the unicorn based magic of Equestria was almost useless to me aside from if situations like that of Luna wearing my face...

My mind pondered the mare, while I found her intriguing, there was too many unknowns to call it love, as I had cared not for appearances, however her status and mine own would complicate an issue of pursuit of such a goal. While I had no doubt I could buy myself a noble title given the horde, the question of likelihood of having the feelings returned was on the downer side of estimations. She was a thousand plus year old immortal goddess, and in comparison my own age almost seemed infantile, and irrelevant given the mortal coil of span that humans could call a life. While she may feel indebted to me for the events that came the future, I doubted it would amount to much in the long run, short of being turned consort to a returned Nightmare Moon.. My mind snorted at the ridiculousness of such a concept, considering such a villain from what the show represented would likely be too busy stroking its own ego to pursue romance... Something sat oddly.

Aside from Luna's past, there was the manner I was now aware of, thanks to Discords latest gift, that Luna was indeed torturing herself with something called.. What was it? Tenta-bus? Tantalus? The name didn't matter, but she was at least going down a self destructive path, that could be avoided if she just talked to others. Albeit that episode was great for 'feel free to talk to others', morale. Fans had been decidedly split on it being a horrible representation of how to deal with depression, since Luna was pretty much told that it was okay that she was a terrible person, and the episode kinda just ended on that note after fusing with her 'guilt monster'. Some fans argued that meant she had come to terms with the Nightmare Moon phase she went through, though I had in the other life, and now here as well that the Elements of Harmonys brain washing, just like all the other incidents of forcibly changing someone elses mind with magic in the show; the case of vampire fruitbats and parasprites coming to mind; was imperfect, as well as damaging to the psyche.

My distaste however, wasn't just that, given the Elements of Harmony more and more deserved to be thrown in a trash compactor in my books, but the sense of wrongness was something else, deeper in. Maybe connected to that strand of thought. Ironically it was my habit of being a merchant for my wares that brought the feeling fully into light. I had given a metric load of information about the future, as well as was going to provide proper training for Celestias military in exchange for freedom that I could just escape for, and the ability to hold more conversations that would likely of been needed anyway with being here. In other words, a scam that normally I'd be perfectly aware of. Part of me said it was fine, after all, I had 'wanted' more opportunities to make friends with-.

I grabbed that thought, like a weed, and pulled at it roughly My mind working with the concentration of an army at the beck and call. Digging deep there was the sense of wrongness started? It was when I first woke up, face separated from bedside. Something had felt weird then, but I had attributed it to being on Equestria's version of morphine, and dismissed it as a side effect passively. But like anything weird that stays a while, like stress between the shoulders knotting up, eventually I had learned to ignore it altogether, and it became like a background noise, only as a thought. Bitterness stung my tongue and anger clouded my thoughts, by this point I had been pondering so long that I had been let back in and merely was pacing in my cell. That feeling, trying to pin it down was like pinning down a wet bar of soap with greased hands. But as my pacing continued, while sure it could avoid a pair of hands, but a hundred? A thousand? Tens of thousands of mental hands, spears, daggers, swords, scissors, and the like diving in at it, in ever increasing numbers, it swam like a reed. Then I caught it, there nestled away deep in my thoughts was a shackle. Magical, in nature.

I followed it, both towards and from me, like a mental collar it was tied around my head like one a dog for the neck, the other, a chain leading towards... The day court? Oh that clever daughter of a-. The logic was there, the spells were public after all. Celestia would of course be well versed in all magic, and magical laws. With a dangerous criminal element like me, making things a little easier would solve away many issues. I wondered mentally how many issues were solved like this. Were Canterlots Elite merely inept, or were they unable to formulate proper common sense because of the errors that came with the brain washing? I nearly broke the collar, chain and all then and there. But then an idea, a desire, a want arrived. With a grin like the grinch before his heart grew three sizes, I found a wonderful use for this mental magical collar.

"Captain Shining Armor?" I spoke aloud, knowing that he could perfectly hear me, "I'd like to arrange a meeting with Princess Luna when she is free."

"Given your abilities, I'll send someone to inquire. Mind if I ask the context of this sudden request?"

"Oh, just some details I'd like to go over between mine and Celestia's little deal, you know, involving the Threstrals, adapting them to society like she had to, and what not. As well as the method doing so, since we brought Starswirl back together, after all."

"I see. I will pass along the message shortly then." Shining Armor nodded, unaware of the shackle, or that I was now gleefully grinning since my back was to him.

I could still spot him through a card however, writing up a letter and sending it by horn into a puff of smoke. I couldn't help but let out a small chuckle, of all the things Celestia had to do, she had to pick the one thing I hate most about Equestrias magic system. After a moments consideration, I thought about how much that it made sense given Celestia. A thousand years of peace, no conflict, and everyone happy? Oh how the puzzle fit together. No wonder everyone sang show tunes, and danced about the place like a Broadway musical as if life wasn't, well life, but a play upon the stage. I couldn't help myself as I laughed to myself about the absurdity of my own presumed thoughts of Celestia's 'perfect' reign if what was given here was the truth.

As I recomposed myself, for Shinings Sanity if not my own, I wanted to say many things, but the one word that was on my mind was, 'Mistake'.

There Ain't No Strings On Me.

View Online

I found myself humming a tuneless song as I waited for the time to pass. Luna would be receiving me shortly after the dinner bell. I had bid Shining Armor good night after being released again to a new set of quarters within the second tallest tower of the castle, and while climbing it on foot had left my legs sore, it was certainly worth it. While somewhat barren I had a modicum of privacy now that I hadn't had in the past few days. Wide and spacious the half spherical room was mostly carpet with a bed framing the space on its own slightly elevated island that followed the back wall leaving about a three meter indent of a channel where a variety of empty shelves framed circular portion of the walls, only interrupted by a large desk on the closer end and a door to a massive balcony that circled around the tower. The desk itself was made for writing, and was posed in a way that a sudden intruder wouldn't immediately be able to read what was on it, as a pair of room divider screens provided a cover both at the desk and the bed in the event either someone came in while I was changing or writing something sensitive.

Oddly as I checked the dresser I found a variety of clothes already present. What more they were all already my size, a perfect fit at that. The look of them super fancy too. The fact that they must have had taken my exact measurements for these disturbed me and made me wonder both how much they had done in the hospital, but also how far along Celestia had planned this. These clothes must of cost a small fortune, and it was clearly not any hand me down type sets either, the gloves in one of the drawers were tailor made for my hands. Closing and vowing to myself to never open those drawers again, I had moved to try and get a work station set up at the writing desk, a card acting as both a table and as an emergency tool storage should I be interrupted. It took five more cards to block out the window after having ventured earlier to the balcony and realized that I did have a fear of several hundred foot drops, and that the balcony around actually did lead to my new neighbors door as well.

Speaking of my neighbor, Star Swirl the Bearded was also staying in this tower, and as I debated asking him if he knew about Celestias spell, I decided to let it wait as Luna was a far better judge of his character than I was. In the meantime, however, I was now at work. Crafting some replacement masks yet again, a constant trend in which I was sorely tempted to just build five of each so that the coming days would see at least one survivor villain other than Nox. The Nox puppet had lasted a surprisingly long amount of time in the field. While I hadn't recovered him during my brief bout of unconsciousness, it had been returned with my marionette tool when I had visited the other dimension. It worked well to have at least a second measure of personal security at least, and the time based master was usually in reserve anyway.

As the time passed, I managed to put together yet another replacement for the Aku masks I had been blowing through between fights, before sending him out when the paint dried to retrieve more supplies for a wig. Thankfully the small motor that powered my tools didn't require a fresh gemstone for a while, and there had been a nice stash of bits inside my crafting case thanks to Yoko presumably. I was normally one loath to recreate the same prop over and over again, but I did put in the effort to make another two backup masks of Aku considering how much of a frontliner the ultimate being of darkness had been put through. Which was understandable that he'd be rapidly targetted as Aku was the sort of being to be an unpredictable threat on the battlefield. Once they were done though, the first of the Aku masks had returned with the supplies I needed. Mainly in the form of a long blond wig, which I was soon trimming into an anime-esque pixie cut. Taking fine use of a mixture of irritating methods to make sure such things as the proper style and the odd cow-lick like strand of hair that many an anime character claimed as an emotive piece when they were too short for the camera to fully display on screen.

The fact this wig would normally be extremely uncomfortable with the amount of glue I applied was only counteracted by not actually feeling the prop being worn while it was in use, which made discomfort for as long as it was reasonable, far more bearable. The mask that went with it, one might mistake for a little girl, if being a sadist was normal. The grin was particularly fun to make, as it had been a while since I had used the human-like ballistic gel and plastics required for it, and using a mixture of soft skin-tone primers, ballistic gel compliant paints, and careful detail work, it was completed. The reason for the ballistic gel was simple.

Ballistic gel was the closest texture to actual human flesh that I could get my hands on without attempting to find a magical analogue. A few theories had pulled itself over the weeks and been tested with, but the mask, while unfeasible for my own personal wearing would fit perfectly fine over a puppet, the main agonized subject of the experiments. From what I had noticed, the closer and more true to the character the prop was, in intent. The better it turned out when converting my own power into the animating fuel that drove the prop to behave like its fictional counterpart. While I'd likely never be able to emit the powers of an actual god, driving such villains as Darkseid, or Thanos's infinity gauntlets into discarded idea piles... Theoretically if I wanted, say a proper lightsaber that didn't drain large amounts of energy like a cross country delivery truck chugging fuel... Making such a thing out of components it would actually be made out of would make it dozens if not hundreds of times more efficient than making it out of plastic. Unfortunately for me, maybe reaching a hundredth of what it normally cost for a plastic model might be impossible for a large number of objects, since things like Kyber crystals didn't actually exist, or spaceship grade metals, but it did mean a lot of the lower technology options were easy to make far more better on my Mana economy. Hence the experiment.

The mask of the psuedo-German character before me was an odd case of a mix between interests to befriend on the behalf of the genuine like for Luna, and the desire to have a bit more of an area of effect capable air-fighting force among my puppets. As oddly, most of mine puppets lacked a good air option, or those who had them either took to the air themselves, as a giant target, or had a silly minion such as a winged version of a basic ground mook. While I was loath to introduce Equestria to guns, it made a good reserve troop in the event of say, flying changelings, pegasus armies, dragons, or in the worst case scenario, Alicorns. But the mere thought of Luna sent what I was now referring to as The Shackle attempting to influence me again. That Celestia was of good intention, and that I should try to be even more outgoing towards Luna.

I promptly mentally slapped the shit out of the suggestion and renewed my vice grip upon it.

With my limited view on magic, I was tempted to visit the library, as asking another unicorn about this might just tip Celestia off, and for how much I enjoyed the stage magician who had put herself into my home, Trixie was hardly an expert on Celestia tier magic. There was another option, I had been debating. But going to that particular stallion was a hit or miss, as I was unsure where his loyalties may lay after a thousand years of being dead in stone. The fact that he was now my neighbor was eating me inside, as I put aside the newest mask alongside a small carving of a waterfall that my hands had messed with as a break between Aku masks. The topic of Starswirl was something my mind had considered a strayed point. The Show was clearly different on the matter, as my other self had seen a bit more of the mlp verse, only scraps in comparison to the first few seasons, but enough to witness the whole pony of darkness arc, and that apparently this stallionwas supposed to be sealed in a magic circle of rocks somewhere until released several years past this current point. Given that Celestia had also appointed him to being my aid during Training, was not helpful as well in the slightest.

Instead, as I fiddled around with my new belongings, awaiting the dinner bell, and thus the start of Luna's day. I found myself drawn to figuring out what I could of the chain. Focusing on it while my hands fidgeted with the objects in my grasp. Moving over from the now unproductive workstation, to sit cross legged on the bed as I closed my eyes to the world around me. Letting Cards return to normal sizes, and puppets vanish as I focused upon the chain that was trying to restrict my flow of thought. Initially I could only feel a few shackles, around the mental collar that was attempting to compel my obedience to the crown. But as I grabbed onto it, and began to search like a blind man for a coin he dropped upon the gorund, or a needle within a haystack, I soon found another... Then another... Then another...

Tick Tick Tick, went the clock, as I fell into the trance of trying to find the next link, again and again. Focusing, studying as I searched. My breathing deepened, as I lost track of time, and was startled when a knock on my door interrupted me from my focus. Senses rapidly returning, I opened my eyes to find the sun already near setting outside, and dinner being brought in by a castle maid, who looked absolutely petrified to be serving me, "Leave it where you like." I told her, and she gulped and placed it literally on the nearest surface before bolting back out the door, closing it shut behind her as she went. Sometimes I forgot how alien I could loo-.

I could see the chain.

Blinking, and rubbing my eyes, to make sure I wasn't just seeing things, I could see the chain that was binding me. A light yellow little thing, floating in the air like a parallel to the ghosts of Christmas past's regrets from a scourge movie. Only these were no thick iron chains, merely thin strands of links leading from me to some missing end point in a density that made them look like it belonged on a fine necklace. While I could see the fine chain, across the room, it ended just short of the door itself, and as I gave it a slight tug with magic, it simply floated towards me as if air, raveling and making more chains as it approached me, before slowly sliding back from a jumbled mess into a more or less loose straight line, approaching the way it was facing, caused more of it to simply phase out of view as I approached the door, proving that these chains had an ethereal property to them, and that I really needed to get a second opinion of what spell I was under.But given the maid had just delivered dinner, It would be rude to just interrupt the sagely wizard while he ate his own delivered meal most likely.

Luna's own invitation for later tonight, aproximately three more hours from now had also been delivered to my room at some point, and that left about two and a half hours of time where I could attempt to ask Starswirl his thoughts. Once my meal was done, a fine sushi experience, I waited about another ten minutes before poking my head out of my room front door, and fought the urge to blink again.

Of the four guards that were standing guard over the two doors that had people living in them, I could see dozens upon dozens of chains. All centered on them, and leading to other people including each other, floating away in various directions. Was Celestia such a paranoid dictator that she bound all her guards to relating to each other and then some? Disoriented, I shut my door, attempting to calm down as I wondered how far this folly ran. Luna was going to have to see this for herself, I'd lend her my own damn face to show her on purpose this time. In my head my voice snidely commented, Magic is Friendship and for one I had to angrily agree that by this logic, should it be what I feared, all these friends people made with each other were all based on lies and magic forcing compliance. No wonder groups of ponies could break out into synchronized song, and dance at a tip of the hat, or find highly unlikely friendships such as that between farm pony and fashionista. I had long wondered what the heck 'Magic' had to do with friendship, and my interest for the show had waned from being a season bringer due to Twilight going mary sue with wings without any actual explanation of why it was an element of friendship, or how did she earn her wings for essentially fixing a problem she herself caused.

Recollecting my thoughts and tempering my growing rage, I took the step out, crossing the hallway and doing my best to ignore the trees of chains around me as I knocked upon Starswirls door, receiving a gruff 'come in', a few moments later, and gladly sighing a breathe of relief as I entered, and shut the door behind me. I did notice among the guards one chain in particular that was pink instead of dark golden in color, but it only took a small theory to place it on Cadence. After all, the show had artfully shown Cadence doing much the same as Celestia had been doing in the Canterlot wedding part 1, when Cadence settled a couples argument by force of magic to return them to a lovey dovey state in, as Twilight put it, the name of 'spreading love wherever she went'.

As I turned, both clearing the growing list of unpleasant thoughts, and to gain my bearings into the room I had just entered, I was unsurprising to find Starswirls study and bedroom to look more akin to a library, albeit with modifications to account for his flaming facial hair. The signs of a messy writing desk that made up most geniuses supposedly and an oddly left painting easel near the window marked the artistic and scholastic sides of the master mage of magic that had ruled the dark ages of Equestria as the mage-supreme. Supposedly he was the teacher to Celestia, and like me he bore few chains, but seemed to be unaware of them, as one was idly slapping him in the eye, as it tried to face itself back towards the direction Celestia was in. That or he had a good poker face.

"Starswirl, pleasure to meet you properly today." I spoke, first greeting.

That earned a casual chuckle from the wizard as he sat at his desk, chair still turned towards me, "Well do feel free to make yourself at home, and sit down to stay a while. To what do I owe the man who saved my life so recently ago their visit at this hour?"

"I've come with a few questions in regards to magic, among other things, and I seek an answer for them. Things that you are uniquely suited for and might find issue with others in regards to their wanton use." I studied the stallion, whose face was practically unreadable, from the wise expression that reminded me of just about any old man wizard, and the flaming beard making it hard to stare at his face without burning a phantom image of his beard into my eyes for an extended period of time.

"Oh by all means, I do have my own questions in regards to you as well, if you don't mind." Starswirl nodded to me in agreement, waiting until I sat down near him on the step of his own rooms island before giving me the go ahead.

"I would like your opinion on mind altering magic." I asked, and that broke the facade, as Starswirl went from being about to take a sip of tea he had procured from somewhere within the mess of his desk, to staring at me in mild surprise.

Given the expression... This was going to be a long night.

Freedom of Expression

View Online

Starswirls considering look of interest reminded me of a college professor on the verge of retirement having his curiosity piqued for the first time in a long while by a middling student as he beheld the question brought before him. He didn't rush his response, taking several minutes as he mulled it over before addressing me, "The subject of mind altering magic largely depends on consent and circumstance." He conceded, "Between its practical use of removing unhealthy self habits or the harmful practice of brain washing, such magic is in itself incredibly rare, as one would either need a large amount of strength, or a talent in either such a magic or in magic in general to be able to cast such a spell without risking massive complications."

"Complications?" I queried, provoking on purpose a continuation of the matter, Starswirls own interest was vested here, and both of us could tell that I wasn't well versed in this type of magic.

"Despite what most people think, be it ponies, minotaurs, or otherwise. The mind is far more fragile than most people would think. Even mundane life can stress and break some people into inoperable condition, and that is before magic is put into consideration as well." Starswirl took a sip of tea just made on the spot before continuing, "This is not to mention that the longer lived the creature is, and more sentient, the far more riskier it becomes for someone else to alter their minds. As at its heart to change someones mind from within would require an immense dedication on behalf of the caster."

"So younger and simpler minds, such as animals or foals are far easier to change than elderly ponies or ancient dragons?" I asked, and starswirl responded within a moments notice.

"That is correct, though only half way so." He closed his eyes and nodded to himself, "Perhaps an example is needed... Pretend per say, that there was a unicorn who practiced this magic, who thought coffee was superior to tea, and that tea was gross, and was disgusted that someone else liked tea versus coffee. That unicorn would then cast the spell to try and impart that change forcibly on another. What would happen if they just cast the spell to change just that prefrence and nothing else?"

I considered it a moment, "A paradox?"

His flaming eyebrows shot up, "Oh, what makes you say that?"

"None of the memories connected to the preference, be it previous tasting or events related to tea had been altered, at the mildest I would think either confusion or worse would occur as suddenly they find their preferred stress relief object, tea, disgusting, or perhaps coffee being something he hated after witnessing an event related to it suddenly tasted good again, and meant subconciously he had become alright with an otherwise unforgivable situation, and not known why."

"Well thought," Starswirl commented, "You can then also see why this can cause huger baseline issues, for if someone can change the way they perceive taste, you could also mess with their life skills, make two plus two equal five, or that the correct way to fish was to use yourself as bait for sharks. This alas is the far more dangerous route of mental magic, as with any direct edits upon the brain requires one to be skilled enough to go through the entirety of someone elses memories, and alter every single bit that they had in order to not risk an eventual break in sanity of the individual involved. I've yet to see a case where something like that worked as intended, though I suppose a viewing into recent years magical history may be in order."

"You say that its the more dangerous route, implying there is a less dangerous one?" I asked, dialing the conversation back before Starswirl could mention more about delving into books.

"Hmm, you have a sharper mind than most I notice," Starswirl nodded to me once more, sipping his tea and causing me to sip some of mine own that he had presented me, cinnamon and orange? What was this abomination of a drink? He continued, "Mental magics can be recoursed into three broad categories, though none of them safe. Internal, External, and Emotive. Of the three, Emotive is the least dangerous as it simply causes an emotion being felt in the moment to become either present or drastically reduced, but of course certain emotions are key to survival, and removing too much can skew ones view on certain types of situations. Where as Internal mind manipulation is what we were just chatting about, where memory is edited and oft leads to others insanity, and occasionally the insanity of the caster."

I gestured towards him, attempting to prod him on in deference to his mastery of magics,"Then External is...?" I asked, as it sounded like the closest match to what I was seeing.

"External mind altering magic is to put an effect in place that can alter opinions or provoke a state of mind from either having it bound to ones person, placed on a visual proximity of an object, or act as a filter for ones true thoughts. Such as temporarily literally bottling up ones anger towards something else, making oneself more desirable, or setting a sense of doom and gloom over an area to convince people that they shouldn't wander into certain areas."

"Ah, like the want it need it spell." I spoke aloud the thought.

"Exactly like that." Starswirl nodded once more in agreement, "Is that the spell you wished to discuss?"

"Unfortunately not," I said shaking my head, "The spell I'm interested in knowing about I know not the name of, only that it is trying to affect my mind, and that others have it on them."

"You're aware of this spell?" Starswirls eyesbrows quirked again, "How did you become aware of its existence?"

"I first came aware of it when I found myself thinking unusually, which after digging at that thought, I found myself then seeing the spell around mysel-" I was interrupted by starswirls snort of surprise and coughing as he suffocated momentarily on his tea.

"I'm sorry, did you say, you saw the spell?" he asked after he recovered, "As in, you became aware of it and then began to see it without the use of a spell?"

"Yeah... Why, what's wrong?" I queried a bit automatically, a bit thrown off from the reaction, "Aren't most spells super visible, like the standard telekinesis?"

"That may be the case for run of the mill spells of the Arcane disciplines, but magic focused on the subversive tends to be nigh near impossible for the average person to detect, such spells usually requires a unicorn trained in divining out such spells individually tailored to detecting the type they are searching for." He paused a moment as he looked over his spilt tea, and with a slight disapointment over the wasted beverage began to clean it up with a bit of magic, "Let alone for a subject of such a spell, whom such spells tend to subvert the senses of in order to avoid detection. I take it you do not have formal training in magic?"

"My magic has mostly been provided by Discords blessing till recently." I conceded, not entirely true but close enough in the scheme of things, "Though it was more of self examination that revealed to me the issues involved."

"Then either you have a gift for magic, or are remarkably strong in mindset, be it willpower or sheer mental capacity." Starswirl nodded, "Tell me more details of this spell, and do you know who else you've seen with it affecting them as a second question to follow the first."

"Golden chains, and occasionally pink ones, leading from the body, varying from the head to the neck, and chest." I spoke first up, "The one around me is like a collar trying to limit non-harmonious thoughts, it seems, encouraging me to work towards its casters goals. As for those who are affected by it, I count every guard I've seen right outside of our room at the least having dozens of those chains and a pink one besides, whom I think I know the likely caster of, and you as well with a chain currently... Still sticking out of your face in an awkward spot."

"You know the caster of these spells?" Starswirl prodded as he tried momentarily to reach for where I described, the chain phasing through his hoof.

"I have my suspicions, but I've yet to see where the other end of the chain leads." intoned in my voice the words of caution, "Also your hoof just phased through it."

"Hmm. I do not know what it could be for... I feel mostly like myself, if it is there." Starswirl grumbled, "But then again that is the point of such a spell, to remain undetected by the target... It doesn't sound like a magic from my era, but then again, Luna had yet to become Nightmare Moon before I was turned to stone, so no telling what magics were discovered between then and now."

"If you want I can try to drive a wedge between you and it, so that you may become aware of it?"

"You can... touch it?" Starswirl shook his head as if to clear it, "Ah yes, I need to remind myself that you're one of Discords, the spirit of chaos and disharmony. Things that logically make sense don't seem to apply to you, if you can, you have my go ahead."