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NiktoBarada

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About NiktoBarada

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    C-Mark Crusader

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  • Gender
    Colt
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    Pittsburgh, PA
  • Interests
    Science, science fiction.

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  • Main Character
    Tongue Twister

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    Yes

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  1. Tongue Twister had to think about that for a moment. "Well, that WOULD be something nopony would expect." she stated, "And some warning is better than none at all. Celestia has dealt with Hou before. But how to tell her ? For now though, I think that question should be tabled for later." she stated as she looked around, "Now that the 'Final Battle for the Fate of All Equestria' part ten is over, every creature will be heading for home. This road might be getting busy soon, so best to get lost !"
  2. Tongue Twister took a deep breath as she ordered her thoughts. "It all started a few months ago, the day the royal sisters first decided to retire." she began, "A unicorn stallion matching your description, using dark magic and crystals, strolled into the Crystal Empire and took it over with very little effort. Then Harmony's Chosen - Princess Twilight and her friends - showed up and hit him with that 'Elements of Friendship Laser of Automatic Victory' they always use. It was thought he'd been erased from existence, but he wasn't. He somehow returned, destroyed the Elements of Harmony, and then turned the citizens of Ponyville into a mind-controlled army to storm Canterlot Castle. Since the royal sisters weren't there at the time, it was a rather easy victory. As usual, Twilight and her friends showed up to save the day, and somehow found a way to summon the Friendship laser without the Elements, and disintegrated 'Sombra' yet again." Turns out the whole thing was a ruse !" she growled a bit. "Apparently, Discord decided to help Twilight get over her insecurity by having her and her friends defeat a villain. So, he brought 'Sombra' back for them to slap around. Since they've already 'destroyed' you twice in one day, if they find you again, they'll probably try it again. Hmm - I wonder if Celestia told Twilight anything about Hou Shuren ? Or even if she has hidden vaults full of dangerous artifacts ? Those would be REALLY good things to know about ahead of time !"
  3. Tongue Twister was trying to figure out a way to find out what was stolen from the royal sister's secret vaults while Sombra was pondering his next move. Competent thieves leave no sign they were there (the longer the mark doesn't realize he's been robbed, the better chance of escaping), and she doubted Hou would employ anyone incompetent. So there was an excellent chance that nopony in Canterlot even knew anything had been taken from the vaults ! "Hmmm … now, how to alert the proper authorities that a robbery DID occur …" "So, you'll be heading for Canterlot ?" TT inquired of Sombra before continuing "I would strongly suggest staying out of sight, since Harmony's Chosen killed you twice in one day, if the newspapers are to be believed. Of course, who can be sure of anything when Discord is involved ?" she finished with a shrug.
  4. " TT thought for a moment. "Actually, I think she'd consider conquering Equestria or slaying the royal sisters too short sighted and petty." she stated, "When she was SHOVING THAT DARKNESS INTO MY HEAD, she said things like 'When sentient life will forget what Equestria or Long Guo were, I will be there. When Equinekind will leave it's cradle, and spill to the sea of stars, I will still be there. When this universe collapses unto itself and gives birth to a new one. I. Will. Be.There.' It sounds like she wants to outlive the universe. I'm - not really sure what the point of that would be. Unless she wants to influence and control a universe when its born, essentially making her a god." She took a few deep breaths. "But that's just idle and horrible speculation at this point. It would help if we knew what was stolen from Celestia's vault in Canterlot Castle. That is not going to be easy to find out."
  5. TT's ears perked up. "Her name is 'Hou Shuren' ? Good to know." she stated before writing a few notes; Tongue Twister hadn't completely trusted her own memory for years. She smiled and sighed. "Yeah. I could have just fled the scene. I may have even lived a few more years happy, ignorant, and unaltered. Until whatever plot Hou has in mind got underway. Then I could look out over the misery and wonder if it could have been stopped if only somepony had given a warning in time. The whole 'walk away and let somepony else deal with it later.' routine never sat right with me. It is way too risky ! And relies on the invader making a critical mistake. Not a very sound strategy." She thought for a bit. "Hmm - now who to give the information to, once it's been verified ?" she mused for a few moments, deep in thought. And who would believe it ? She already had three strikes against her : she wasn't overly important, she now reeked of dark magic, and could be considered a madmare. She then regarded the red-maned stallion a bit. "Your family threw you out over a mistake ? An accidental blinding is extreme, but still ! Living well is the best revenge. They tossed you aside, so toss them aside and be greater than they could ever hope to be. But if they insist on going after you, I sort of agree with Sombra on this one. But I'm not really somepony to take advice from at the moment..." she stated with an apologetic smile as the pupils in her sky blue eyes turned to vertical slits for a moment.
  6. "Yeah. I spend quite a bit of time alone when doing field research." Tongue Twister replied, "Found that talking to myself kept me focused. After that trip to the Fenguang Valley though, I may have overdone it. Now that old 'angel and devil on the shoulders' routine is a bit more literal than figurative for me." She took a few deep breaths to calm down and come up with a cover story. "Oh, where are my manners ? I am Tongue Twister, intern reporter for the Canterlot Historical Society1." she stated with a polite nod to Sombra and the other stallion, "I may not be a rising STAR in the Organization yet, but if I can find a big story, I could be !" She turned to look at the trees twisted earlier by the sorceress' power and sighed. "This - was a bit more than I was expecting though." She looked at one of her altered wings and scowled. "Definitely more."
  7. Tongue Twister managed to remain silent until the sorceress disappeared in a flock of jade-eyed crows. Meanwhile, inside her mind : "Why do my wings feels so heavy ?" she thought as she returned to the normal world. "I was flying past just as the battle started." she replied, struggling to get to her hooves, "That fog may have hidden both of you from view on the ground, but not from the skies. When I saw all the power that was being summoned, I figured it was yet another threat to Equestria. I didn't know how big a threat until she started talking. And throwing around flaming skull blasts. And talking. And mercury shaped and controlled with her mind. And talking. And talking. I figured someponies in power really needed to know about all of that. So I took notes." she stated as one wing turned to mercury and retrieved her notebook from her saddlebag and passed it to her hoof, with her too absent minded to immediately notice "This isn't horrible writing, it's shorthoof." she explained to Sombra, showing him what she'd written, "A way of transcribing spoken sounds as fast as they're spoken. I was keeping up with both of you .. until ... ?" She looked at her hoof - she'd just noticed that instead of the bottom third of her leg being white, it was now pitch black. She waved it in the air vigorously to shake off whatever was on it. The color didn't change. She tried to use her wing to wipe off whatever was on her hoof. She looked with horror upon the silvery liquid shape where her wing was supposed to be. She flexed the alula and pinions; the shape obeyed. "GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH !!! WHAT DID SHE DO TO ME ?!!?!" she screamed before running around in a panicked circle. She tried to fly away, but she couldn't get off the ground. Breathing heavily, she frantically willed the mercury into the shape of longer, narrower wings. They were perfectly formed, but flapping as hard and as fast as she could didn't even get her into the air, for mercury is much heavier than flesh and blood. She dropped on her haunches and spread her wings forward, trying to sense the familiar mana currents in the air. Nothing. "I -- can't fly any more ?!" she whispered in horror. "She took my flight ?! For NO REASON AT ALL ?!" she stated in a strained tone as rage began to replace fear. Tears ran down her face as her pupils became vertical slits and the sclera changed to black. She ground her teeth as they became more like a shark's than a pony's. The black part of her legs began crawling upward, until she was completely encased. "SHE DID THIS TO ME ! SHE KNOWS HOW TO UNDO IT !" she screamed, "I'LL TEAR OFF THE TOP OF HER SKULL AND PROBE HER BRAIN NEURON BY NEURON TO FIND OUT HOW !" She stood up and started to wander off, until she heard a mare's laughter in her head. "It seems the silly little mortal's control isn't as perfect as she thought it was !" the voice said, "I can work with that !" Tongue Twister stopped where she was and took a few deep breaths. As she calmed down, the more extreme changes reversed themselves, leaving her as a gray pegasus mare with black socks and silver wings. "Sorry about that." she meekly stated to the stallions, "I'm not quite myselves today." Musical Interlude : Skillet's Monster
  8. Tongue Twister actually managed a laugh at that as the sorcercess turned her attentions to Sombra. "Tyranny is tyranny, no matter how well it's lit. If I wanted to become a legend, I could just do something considered impossible by others. Like resisting your corruption ! Didn't think of THAT, did ya ?" she continued to herself with a pained chuckle. "The Light has legends of its own. And how does one become a legend of the Light ? Usually by destroying a Legend of the Dark. In an endless cycle of misery, blood and pain. The Wheel is beginning to turn; why would I want to be under it ? The world has cycles and rythms of its own; trying to force things to happen on your schedule is like trying to shove a mountain down to the sea. Or roll a recalcitrant stone uphill, as in the legend of Sisyphus. What would becoming a legend actually gain me," she asked herself with as much of a shrug she could muster while ensnared by the Blood Sun, "other than lifetime of paranoia ? If the lightsiders don't kill me, one of the Dark will. Or she will - should I become too successful and become a plausible threat to her, or she no longer has any use for me, or just because she buckin' feels like it !" She managed a smirk. "In the end, it is all the same. I'm doomed if I yield, and doomed if I do not ! The First Path of the Way of the Nothing is 'Glorious Irrelevancy'. Since nothing I do matters, I can do anything I want ! So I think I'll just stay where I am. Not too light, and not too dark. I might even see if I can bend this curse to my will, to serve my ends. Succeed or fail, it will be interesting either way. And on MY terms." Tongue Twister finished - before launching into a bout of booming maniacal laughter as her wings started to distort from the ongoing corruption. She became rather quiet after that, listening to the battle of wits between Sombra and the sorceress. "Hmmph ! She's trying to gaslight him. Typical !" she mused as she labored to keep what was left of her mind together. To that end, she just started chanting 'Nothing Is Forever.' in every language she knew.
  9. "Well, of COURSE she could sense my soul !" TT groused to herself as she futiley struggled to escape the Blood Sun's grasp, "She consumes them ! And mine would be the only other soul here not her's or Sombra's !" She didn't know whether to be impressed or flattered that she could detect Yin and Yang's quarreling (she didn't think their combined energies were enough to BE detected; but, then again, she'd never been around anypony that COULD detect such things). "And now she's going to do something horrible to me !" Tongue Twister realized. Accepting that there was no escape, she focused on the image of a jigsaw puzzle, and a single word : SCATTER ! Within what passes for her mind, the last thing Tongue Twister felt was everything going cold, like burning frostbite everywhere. Then shattering like glass. When she recovered, she was drifting in a dark space, with no light in any direction. Then she noticed some movement out there - a tiny dancing light, like a firefly. She extended her hoof and let the glow land. Looking closely, it was Yang. A bit on the small side for even a Breezie. She was alive, but very much diminished. "That isn't good..." she noted to herself, before the darkness around her shrugged. Cautiously turning her head to look, the noted the darkness was Yin. Now the size of an Ursa Minor. Wrapped in the coils of a very heavy set of chains and shackles, staring blankly ahead with glowing blood red eyes. "THAT'S EVEN WORSE !!" Back in the real world, Tongue Twister was flailing as the corruption continued. But she somehow managed to stay conscious enough to hear the sorceress' monologue : "I think it would be enough for now. After all, the fist time can be.....pretty rough for the unexpirinced. Ufufufu!" Shuren allowed herself a small giggle. "Perhaps if we meet again, I will do some more work on You. But! Let's go back to the lecture at present...." she mused before addressing Sombra once more, or rather both of them. "I didn't lie when told that whatever happens in Ponyvile benefits me. It is however, only a secondary objective at best. If - by some means - neither predicted scenario happens? Oh well." Hou shrugged. "The true jackpot, was the Canterlot Castle. Or rather, the Castle's Forbidden Library, and Celestia's hidden vault where she keeps quite....interesting collection of items. Unattended. And both opened by scrolls infused with my dark sorcery. Scrolls that I handed to my servants...." Hou leaned towards Sombra "....Another resource you desperately lack. But of course they wouldn't be good enough to stop you. Which is why I had to make you busy. Perhaps if you have turned tail, and rushed straight to Canterlot, you would have had a chance at averting my efforts. But oh, that would mean running from the fight wouldn't it? No, you too proud for that.....and I was counting on this.... You lost the moment you chose to take this fight, Sombra!" white mare said in triumphant tone. Pinkie vs Pinkamena, Confrontation
  10. "This battle is getting more intense as time goes on." Tongue Twister groused to herself as she watched the carnage below, "Is there still even any point to this ? The 'Battle To Decide the Fate of All Equestria (take 11)' could be over by now ! And there is no way anyone can influence the results of a battle once the battle is over." She had a few minor artifacts in her saddlebags that could answer her questions (she'd cashed in a few favors, and favored a few with cash to get them), but decided against using them just yet - all of them required intense concentration to use, and given the firepower being thrown around by Sombra and that mare, being distracted could easily lead to her becoming dead. Or worse. "Why am I even here ?" she asked herself as the mare's sphere of mercury started tearing around the landscape, "There is literally NOTHING I can do to help or hinder either combatant in any significant or relevant way ! The only choice is to let things play out. If Sombra gets the upper hoof, she'll just use one of her backup plans to escape. Then deal with him later. If she gets the upper hoof, Sombra can just escape and deal with her later. Unless she has a way to prevent his escape, then tries to absorb his soul or something. She did mention it would take months or so for him to recover from her attacks. That suggests that the window of opportunity to interfere with her plans is not only open, but will be open for awhile yet." She sighed again. It was as Sun Tzu noted : one can know how to conquer without being able to do it. Sometimes she felt the world was an Ogres and Oubliette's game, and she was a first level character when everyone else was at least a twenty seventh level multiclass. "I really should visit my cousin Cacophony to finish that song : 'The Down and Dirty, Fetid and No Fun First Level Blues' "
  11. "WHOA ! Wild shot !" Tongue Twister grimaced as she pulled back as Sombra's deflected blast shot through the sky nearby. She briefly thought about moving to another cloud, but there was no point - the odds that another randomly deflected blast would come exactly her way was very slim. She watched the mare set up THREE force domes. Those symbols looked like the symbols of ancient Long Guo writing, but she couldn't be sure - they were visible for only a short time, at long range, and although she'd helped compile a book on the languages of Long Guo (one of the few ways her Talent was actually useful), she hadn't memorized all six hundred fifty two or so glyphs. "Wait a minute - unicorn magic doesn't usually look like that !" she realized, "I've seen unicorns cast force domes lots of times, and they've never had writing ! Advanced spells use runes, but they're scribed on the floor ahead of time and then energized. Could that be a personal quirk ? Or a visible manifestation of her culturally influenced metathaumatical metaphoric interface routine that she uses to shape mana to her will ..." "ThE rAbBiT wIlL bE bAcK aNy MiNuTe !" the twin voices of Yin and Yang chimed in her mind. "Huh ? Oh, right ! I don't have time to follow irrelevant tangents !" she thought to herself as she got her thoughts back on track. She watched as the dark-maned mare emptied a vial of a silverly liquid on the ground. That just kept coming, and coming, and coming ! She said it was one of her greatest alchemical creations, 'Hydrargyrum Praestantis'. "Hydrargyrum - the ancient name for mercury." TT realized, "And that - is a LOT of mercury ! Wow ! She's really pushed the whole 'quick' in 'quicksilver' as far as it can go !" "Well, her cutie mark IS the symbol for mercury !" Yin stated in a tone that mixed bored and annoyed. TT looked, and Yin was right. So she quickly scribbled the mare's cutie mark into her notes; after all, the easiest way to identify a pony is by their Cutie Mark ! And not many ponies had a cobra for a Cutie Mark too. "Soooo - she's settling in for a long siege then ?" Yang inquired when she noticed the force domes, "What's the point of that ? Or any of this ? If she didn't want Sombra to interfere with her plans, wouldn't it have been far simpler to just answer his questions in the first place ?" "What is the point of having incredible power if you can't slap somepony upside the head every now and again ?" Yin asked with a chuckle. "That's not very friendly !" Yang replied. "Not all creatures are friendly." Yin retorted, "That is sort of why I exist - to keep TT here balanced." Yang sighed. "And if that mare is trying to be all secretive and lurk in the shadows like a proper puppet master, why make herself known and launch such a blatant display of power in the first place ?" "Can a display of power be blatant if there is nopony around to witness it ?" Yin answered. Yang thought for a bit. "Well, this fog bank and being far behind the other travellers would eliminate most witnesses. But Sombra can most certainly witness attacks launched at him ...." Yang's ears drooped. "Oh. He's not supposed to survive this battle, is he ?" "With no witnesses, it would be like nothing at all happened here. Her plans go through unimpeded." Yin stated, "Once the window of opportunity to stop a plan closes, the plan is almost impossible to stop." Yang mused for a moment, before flaring her wings and her light. "We have to do something to help !" Yin squinted her eyes and fired up her darkness. "Like what ? Did you SEE the power those two are throwing around ? We could get killed entirely by accident !" Yang increased her energies. "Well, better to die on our feet than live on our knees !" Yin increased her energies to push Yang's back. "In case you haven't noticed, BOTH THOSE OPTIONS SUCK ! We need to come with, you know, AN ACTUAL PLAN ! That we can survive !" Yang refused to let up. "We pegasi used to be warriors ! The passion for action burns in our hearts ! In our souls ! Now, are you a pegasus, or a pigeon ?" Yin reeled from that vile insult, before powering back. "Scatterbrained goody goody !" Yang shouted back "Dismal dark-hearted shadow sucker !" before going head to head with Yin. Then spent several moments snarling insults at each other as their chi energies flared and twisted against each other in a battle that neither could win. "Of course I'm going to help." Tongue Twister stated calmly, "I can't let someone like her wander around unnoticed and unopposed. What if she got hold of one of Harmony's Chosen ? Or one of the princesses ?" "They probably have enough power to defend themselves from her." Yang stated. "All the power in the world means nothing if you don't see the attack coming." TT stated, "That's how the changelings managed to nearly take over Equestria. TWICE ! So I'm helping. I just need to figure out how. And when." The tao twins calmed down. "You do know that you're a pegasus, right ?" Yin stated, "No match for either of them on the arcane energies front ?" "There are many ways to fight." TT replied, "That mare is a puppet master, right ? Works behind the scenes. Has plots that are wheels within wheels within wheels. A conspiracy that is a well-oiled, finely tuned machine for world domination. What happens to well-oiled, finely tuned machines that get just a few grains of sand in their gears ?" Yin found the image of a complex clock exploding and tossing gears everywhere very amusing. "Oh ! It's the Ancient Ones Protocol !" Yang piped up, "Since you can't defeat a world crushing abomination with brute force, you just interrupt the summoning ritual so it never shows up in the first place !" "Uhhhm, sure." both Tongue Twister and Yin replied. "It looks like Sombra got the right idea." Yang stated with a yawn as she began to fade, "Not wasting his energy on attacking." Yin thought for a moment before fading back into TT's mindscape as well. "She's not going to be happy about that ! All that energy spent on those force domes - wasted !" "At least there will be evidence a battle happened." TT thought to herself as she retrieved a snack from her saddlebag after writing a few more notes, "Trees twisted from dark magics over there, and a field of shredded trees over there. Traces of mercury all about, perhaps."
  12. Up on her cloud, Tongue Twister was taking notes - she'd learned a form of phonetic shorthoof writing as an aid to studying languages, and could write as fast as most ponies could speak. And here's the biggest difference between us between us Sombra. When I met them first, back when the were gathering the Elements ....I managed to HOLD. MY. GROUND." "?! She first met the Royal Sisters back when they were gathering the Elements ? That was to defeat Discord, long before Luna's one thousand year banishment ! And she held her own against both of them ? Not good !" TT fretted as she wrote her notes. "...So you don't have to imagine anything Sombra. Since then I clashed with Celestia across the centuries. Time, and time, and time again!" I never allowed myself to be backed into a corner. Not by Princesses, not by Kastrotians, not by a Serpent King! I always have backup plan." "She's clashed with her repeatedly across the centuries ? That means that she has been ALIVE for at least a thousand plus years ! Or goes into stasis or time jumps or something that requires an incredible amount of magical power. Which she obviously has in abundance. Or, she could just be making it all up to sound impressive. After all, as Lao Tzu said : 'the supreme excellence is not to win a hundred victories in a hundred battles. The supreme excellence is to subdue the armies of your enemies without even having to fight them.' Many ways to do that. And of course she's a plotter; couldn't live this long with having a Plan or twenty." She noted how precise and steady the mare's stances and attacks were - obviously had martial arts training. And perhaps a millenium's worth of practice to hone her skills. She noticed the mystic projectiles the mare used - screaming pony skulls burning with jade fire. "Nope. Nothing creepy or death-oriented about THOSE !" While the mare was taunting Sombra, Tongue Twister started a To Do List : 0. Find out this mare's name ! 1. Check/find ancient records from Kastrot and of the Serpent King. Verify any and all data. 2. Check with Mom's older 'acquaintances'; Uncle Legbreaker ? Verify any and all data. 3. Check with Dad's less savory contacts; acquire new bottlecaps ? Verify any and all data. 4. ? Talk with Celestia or Luna (might be easier now that they're retired) ? Verify any and all data. Or the Pillars, since they were from all over Equestria and alive a thousand plus years ago and may have heard something. Verify any and all data. 5. DON'T GET KILLED from attracting too much attention with all this investigation ! After a few moments' thought, she drew an arrow from #5 to above #0 to indicate proper ranking. Then added 'infinity plus' in front of #4, figuring that the odds that she would have the chance/ranking/permission to do that task at about one hundred fifteen quadrillion to one against. But could perhaps find somepony else that could do it. She was thinking of crossing out the entire list, since there was no way someone like her would be allowed to do something useful or important. But she changed her mind. Hope doth spring eternal in the foolish breast ...
  13. Noticing the tensions (and power levels) rising from the verbal sparring between Sombra and the mare, Tongue Twister gained some altitude. "When elephants battle, it is the grass that suffers most." she noted to herself, "And I am but a tiny reed compared to those two." Then she allowed herself a smirk. "But despite their power, unicorns are creatures of the ground. Leads to two dimensional thinking, and thus they very rarely - if EVER - look up. I am far safer up here among the clouds than I could ever be done there." she continued as she found a cloud, reshaped it a little, then laid down upon it, well out of direct view of anyone on the ground that cared to look. Things were becoming just as tense within what passed for Tongue Twister's mind : "What was she talking about Sombra throwing her equations out of whack ?" Yang asked TT and Yin, "Either Harmony's Chosen win, or they don't. If she benefits from any outcome, how can the equations be out of whack ? That would imply that it is possible that she WON'T benefit somehow." Yin sighed. "It's the Spider's Shadow. Common amongst creatures that plot years in advance that absolutely, positively MUST be in control of every little thing. When an unknown appears, they throw a temper tantrum because the universe isn't running according to THEIR plan. In order for her to be happy, either the heroes win in a way that benefits her that SHE predicted, or the villains lose in a way that benefits her that SHE predicted. She can't be happy if she didn't predict whatever good fortune falls her way." Yang looked confused. "It's kinda like getting angry that the winning lottery ticket you found isn't your favorite color." TT explained to Yang, who then seemed to get it. "Uh, yeah. Pretty much." Yin agreed with a shrug. "I'm pretty sure STAR might want to know about this !" Yang exclaimed, "A powerful sorceress that can - if Sombra was right - drink souls ! That no one knew about until now. This is the sort of threat to Equestria that STAR was founded to deal with !" TT thought for a moment. "STAR would be more effective at punishing countries that invaded, like the Storm King and his army. Not sure how effective a stealth airship capable of flattening cities would be against a single unicorn with unknown connections. But you do have a point - for now, gathering intel about that mare is the most effective thing we can do." "Well, we could go back to STAR right now and tell them what we know." Yang suggested, "It's not like anyone here would miss us." TT sighed. "Without evidence, why should anyone listen to me ? I'd just sound like a paranoid nut." "Would anyone listen to you even WITH evidence ?" Yin inquired with a raised eyebrow. TT thought for a moment, then smiled. "The First Path of the Way of the Nothing is 'Glorious Irrelevancy'. Since nothing I do matters, I can do anything I want ! And what I want to do now is investigate this matter further. Knowledge is power, and right now, we need all the power we can muster !" With that, the three became one again.
  14. Weeks later, Caveat and Shady are sorting through his mail. "You're SURE these three tax bills are for three different taxes, right ?" Caveat asked his wife while levitating several sheets of paper in his orange aura, "It looks like I'm paying the same bill three times ! Which would be a pretty good scam, if it weren't so blatant." "Unfortunately, yes they are three different bills." she replied, "There is only so much grift the government can get away with before someone takes notice." "True - with so many marks, the odds that one will note something is off is very high." he replied, "I suppose you've noticed those two ponies trying to covertly watch the store ?" "Yes." Shady sighed glumly. "I think our TT may be in over her head at whatever she's doing now." Caveat thought for a moment. "Well, she's a very resourceful mare. If she were in trouble, she'd notice long before it was inescapable. I haven't received any mail from her lately; have you ?" Shady shook her head. "Best to assume she's safe then." he stated, "After all, she spends months at a time in the jungles of Tenochtitlan or even more remote and dangerous locales doing field research. Dealing with the perils of civilization should be a vacation, relatively speaking." Shady Dealer mused for a moment before heading for the door. "That doesn't mean we can't help her by taking some of the heat off." Meanwhile, across the street, two unicorn stallions were sitting at a bistro, trying to hide behind newspapers. "How long do we have to watch these two ?" one asked the other, "It's been weeks, and nothing of note has happened !" "That doesn't matter." the other replied, "The boss says to watch the shop, we watch the shop until we observe something of note, or we get recalled." They heard a chair being pulled beside them, and somepony sitting down at their table. It was Shady Dealer. Who flagged down a waiter and ordered a coffee with honey in it. On their tab. "We don't know who you are, but this table is private ! Buzz off !" one of the unicorns stated. "You've been watching my husband's store for almost two weeks, and you don't know who I am ? Shameful !" she replied with a smirk. The other unicorn glared at her for a moment before relenting once he accepted their cover had been blown. "What do you want Shady ?" "I'm just wondering why you're watching Caveat's shop." The unicorns had a quick discussion with each other. "Were you visited by an earth pony and a unicorn a few weeks ago, claiming to be from an antiquites fraud bureau ?" "Yes. Figured out pretty quickly they weren't real. They work for one of your rivals ?" "Yes. What did they want to know ?" "If we'd brought anything back from Tenochtitlan, and where Tongue Twister is." "What did you tell them ?" "The truth - we didn't bring anything back from that horrible vault ! And that we don't know where TT is at the moment !" "Did your daughter 'TT' find anything of note and bring it back ?" "I don't know !" Shady exclaimed, "She and some meathead were still in the vault when me and Caveat headed for home. They might've found something. Or not. I don't know." The two agents mulled it over a bit. "Have you seen those two fake antiquities assayers again ?" "No. They were rather insistent on finding TT, so I'd guess they're looking elsewhere for her." "Any idea where that might be ?" Shady sighed, weighing whether or not to trust these two. "Las Pegasus, most likely. The last I heard, she took a job out there." The two unicorn stallions conferred for a moment before getting up to leave. "You've been very helpful Shady Dealer." "Does that mean you'll stop watching the shop ?" she asked. "That would be my guess." one of the unicorns replied, "We're trying to keep tabs on criminal organizations; the fact that one was snooping around here caught our attention. If they've moved on, then we should as well."
  15. Tongue Twister winged her way through the skies near White Tail Woods, enjoying the relative peace up in the skies, away from all the quarrelling ponies. She knew there was an apocalyptic 'battle to end ALL battles !!' about to take place in the heartland of Equestria, but figured Harmony's Chosen - The Mane Six - would handle things. Again. As they always do. "Let's see - how often do we have an apocalypse anyway ?" she mused to herself, "The return of Nightmare Moon. The return of Discord, and the Changeling Invasion (Take 1). Return of the Crystal Empire and King Sombra. Tirek. The Changeling Invasion (Take 2). The Pony of Shadows. The Storm King. Cozy Glow's attempt to be the Empress of Friendship that nearly ended all Equestrian magic. And now the Terrible Trio. That's at least ten that I know of within my lifetime !" She let that sink in for a moment before shuddering. She heard an unusual sound, then she noticed something going on the the forest below her. The prelude to a magical battle between that dark grey stallion and the pale mare perhaps ? She mused about what to do about it. She wasn't too keen in getting between battling wizards (VERY bad for one's health), but with most (if not all) of the Forces of Good gathered for battle elsewhere, the rest of Equestria was wide open ! Now would be a great time for somepony to do quite a bit of crime, since no one was watching ! Or available to stop them ! "Well, I suppose I should take a closer look..." she decided as she slowly descended,"I can always pull back and get appropriate help later if the situation goes sideways." She noticed the trees were twisted - blighted with Dark Magic. And those dark crystals sprouting from the earth here and there were familiar. As was the stallion now down below.
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