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About NiktoBarada

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    Pittsburgh, PA
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    Science, science fiction.

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    Tongue Twister

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  1. She does know a lot of forms - Roc, Ursa Minor, ophidiotaurus, cragadile, slinky sloth (to cross the rope) … Nice to see her actually CHANGE forms like the queen she is. The limits might be based on power and time. Chryssi obviously still has power (given how much bigger Tirek got from borrowing it), but only changed into something truly big for a few seconds (a Roc, and an Ursa Minor ?!). Pharynx did something similar by turning into that gigantic spider-thing when he and Thorax were little - that critter was huge (relative to a Changeling nymph), but he only held that form for around six seconds. So maybe they can maintain a different form roughly their natural size indefinitely, but bigger forms can only be held for a short time, with how much bigger dependent on pure power. Chrysalis, being a millennium old queen, has a lot of power, and can change into truly monstrous forms; drones might max out at something smaller. I'd guess that merely looking like a rock (with eyes - ala Ocellus and Pharynx), or an ice stalagmite (ala Thorax) isn't the same as being a rock or ice stalagmite (ie, they're not altering their chemical compositions) . If you can reshape the matter of your body to look like other critters, why not be able to look like objects ?
  2. Most ponies will tell you that the shortest route between two points is a straight line; however, the shortest route is not always the safest. As it was in Tongue Twister's case. A direct line from Las Pegasus to Archaeological Site Tenot 11-25-9 (closest to where her parents are trapped) would have her flying over the Great Forest of Leota (and disturbingly close to the Gates of Tartarus) and over several high mountain ranges. Since she had to SURVIVE the trip to be of any help to any pony, she took a slightly roundabout route. All she had to do was follow the Trensal River northward until twenty miles out of Saraneighvo, then turn ninety degrees left over some smaller mountains. Keep the Forest of Leota in sight (and a few miles) to the left. Hook around the northern end of the Webwing mountains. Look around for either an archaeological site or dad's Mini-Zep. It would be around ten monotonous hours of continuous flying, but that was no problem for a pegasus mare with years of adventuring experience in remote locations she had to fly into. It should've been a long, but simple and uneventful journey. Unfortunately, Tongue Twister is not that lucky .... "YO ! Polar Vortex !" she yelled at the off-white pegasus stallion trying (unsuccessfully) to conceal himself within a cloud, " You've been tailing me for over twenty miles ! Are you going to help me or arrest me or what ?!" "Just following to see who you're going to contact to sell stolen information to." "Uh, what stolen information ?" TT asked, fearing where this conversation was going, continuing to wing her way northward. "Secret projects are most vulnerable to discovery and sabotage while they're being built." he replied, "That's why I was on patrol and noticed you flying over the base ! What other reason could you possibly have for doing that so late at night - other than espionage ?" "Hm. 'Espionage'. That's a mighty big word for a muscle bound psychopath like you." she replied, "Are you sure Tempest would approve of you having enough brain cells to know words that big ? Especially when those brain cells 'should' be focused on how to inflict maximum pain ?" Polar Vortex growled at her in response. "Okay, stop with the dominance displays already !" TT replied with a wave of her hoof, "My parents got trapped in a temple out in Tenochtitlan, and I need to rescue them !" Polar Vortex raised an eyebrow. "Am I supposed to buy that story ? HOW did you find out they were in trouble ? Did they send you a letter a day before they 'got trapped' ?" "No. Daddy used a Remote Presence spell targetting one of my pet rats so he could tell me directly ... Wow ! That does sound rather suspicious and unbelievable when you say it out loud, doesn't it ?" Polar Vortex zipped ahead of her to block the way, using his imposing size and wingspan to greatest effect. "And how would your father be able to use any kind of spell, hmmm ?" "Daddy's a unicorn." TT simply replied as she clapped her wings together over her back, causing her to suddenly drop into a steep dive, shooting under Polar Vortex. "Where did you learn evasive maneuvers ?" he called to her once he got turned around. "I spend months at a time in jungles, where there are MANY creatures that would like to eat me !" she replied, "Apparently, ponies are a tasty part of a nutritious breakfast, lunch, or dinner ! So, are you going to help me or stop me or what ?" Polar Vortex thought for a moment. "Why should I stop you, when your inevitable failure advances my career ? I can tell Ice Storm I went to help you rescue your parents, thus getting in her good graces. And I can tell Tempest I retrieved a deserter, getting in her good graces as well !" TT was quiet for a few moments as she continued to wing her way through the night air. "And what if I succeed ?" she eventually asked in a bored tone, recognizing a blowhard when she sees one. "Oh, you won't. You're a civilian. You don't have what it takes." he replied snarkily, "I know because I've seen your files. And how well you do in training." "And that sort of attitude is WHY I took off instead of verbally jousting with jarheads." TT replied, "I'll have as much time as I need to explain myself AFTER the job is done. Just not before ! Thus the old adage : 'it is easier to get forgiveness than permission'." "Forgiveness for TREASON ? Good luck with that !" he chuckled mirthlessly, "There is nowhere in Equestria you can hide !" He was rather distressed when he noticed that Tongue Twister was smiling. Then she replied : "Three things : One : as I have not attacked the Royal Sisters, or in any way acted to overthrow the government, I am only guilty of insubordination and desertion at most. Two : Tempest turned three of the four princesses INTO STONE ! She helped a tyrant take over Equestria. Yet she was forgiven; I suspect because she is useful and thus above the relevant punishments we lesser beings must endure. But if she can be forgiven for her crimes against Equestria, why can't I ? Three : I have no intention of running away. After my rescue mission is done, I am returning to base to turn myself in." Polar Vortex nearly fell from the sky from surprise. "What ?! That makes no sense at all !" "It does to those that respect law." "BUT YOU ARE BREAKING THE LAW !" "Only because it is, for the moment, in the way of serving a greater good. By turning myself in afterwards, I am respecting those who wrote the law, no matter how limited or misguided their current work. Law states 'if you do X, you get punishment Y.' Respecting the law means accepting the consequences of your actions." Polar Vortex twitched a bit as his mind twisted itself into knots, trying to figure out what TT was up to. "YOU'RE INSANE !" "So what if I am ?" she replied with a shrug, "Being sane was not listed as a requirement in the recruitment letter for this 'organization' ." She used his momentary boggling to gain some distance. "Some ponies are just so easy to mess with !"
  3. After a few laps, Tongue Twister had managed to cut her best time through the course by nearly two seconds. It was progress - slow, but actual progress. She went home to her apartment, prepared a simple meal, took a bath and played with Ace and Deuces (being older male rats, they're rather lazy, and enjoyed belly rubs.) She was just about ready to put them back in their cage for the night when Deuces spoke up and said (in her father's voice) "You have a minute dear ?" TT looked at the rat, then became very angry. "DADDY ! I asked you to please NEVER USE THAT SPELL ! Forcing your presence through his mind like that really distresses him ! Now he's going to be a nervous wreck for a few days !" "I know honey, but this is really important !" Caveat/Deuces replied with a placating gesture, "Me and your mother are stuck in a pit trap in an underground temple in Tenochtitlan !" TT blinked a few times. "How in Celestia's name did you two manage to do that ?!" "Well, you remember that book Double Dealer asked me to find ?" he began, "Turns out that some shadowy agency may have suggested she ask for it. Your mom's guess : they were looking for one particular copy, so they wanted all copies they could find. We found one. There were notes written in the margins. Ten different languages. We used some of your old text books to figure out what the languages were. Turned out that if you put the page numbers they were on in alphabetic order by language on them, they were vectors to someplace near the Badlands." "So mom dearly wanted to take a look. And you went with her." TT stated. "Yep." "Are either of you hurt ?" "No. We're fine. For now. But we'd rather NOT be here ! So if you could come to help us get home as soon as you can, we'd greatly appreciate it !" "I'll be there as soon as I can Daddy !" Tongue Twister replied with a determined tone, "Where, exactly, are you ?" "You got a quill and some paper ?" he asked. She nodded, and he told her the vectors he and his wife had used. "Hope to see you soon honey !" he stated once he verified TT had written down the numbers correctly - before breaking contact and letting Deuces faint. She consulted the more accurate maps she used for her linguistics research in the region. "It's going to take me a day, maybe a day and a half to get there. I hope you and mom can hold out that long !" She packed her saddle bags with as trail rations and bottles of water that would fit in one. Then brought half a dozen more. In the other she packed a few minor artifacts, some light crystals, and Ace and Deuces (she wasn't leaving them home alone, for bored rats are destructive rats, and she doubted she could find a sitter on such short notice). She wrote a letter explaining what she was doing and where she was going (and a map showing the exact location), and put them in an envelope to be delivered to STAR tomorrow morning. She was NOT going to risk some officious twit telling her 'sometimes, sacrifices must be made for the greater good. And the secrecy of this organization is the greatest good that is, was, and EVER shall be ! Request denied !!' That and the fact that, since she'd only been with STAR for such a short time, she probably didn't have many vacation/personal days to use. Once on the roof, she got her bearing and put on her flight goggles. "Luna, may your stars guide me to where I need to be !" she chanted as she got a running start and launched herself into the night ...
  4. It took a bit of effort, but Caveat Emptor and Shady Dealer managed to figure out what the various languages were (thanks to having their daughter's coursebooks on hoof - Polyglot's Compendium of the Ponish Languages was very useful. Turned out the notes were simple phrases that could be found in any tourist's phrasebook - 'where is the restroom ?', 'how much for a cup of coffee ?' and 'where do you keep the chocolate ?' being the most common. It made sense, since the first letter of the languages the notes were written in were the clues that mattered; WHAT the notes said was irrelevant. "So we have ten different languages, no two starting with the same letter." Shady noted, "And ten different numbers. So, if we arrange the letters in numerical order, they spell out …" "BLEARGHXDNM." Caveat stated. "I - seriously doubt that is a word in any language dear. But the other option is what ? Ten numbers in one particular order ? How does that help ? What could they mean ?" "It's a vector !" Shady replied, "Sixteen and seventy nine hundredths miles, at two hundred twenty five degrees, fifteen minutes from true east, starting from whatever longitude and latitude those last six numbers are !" "Ohhhkay. But why not just use the longitude and latitude directly ?" he had to ask. "Maybe it wasn't safe to get those coordinates." Shady replied, "Or there wasn't enough time. Or there weren't enough unique landmarks to determine position. Or to reduce the odds of just guessing right - with six numbers, you'd have a one in seven hundred and twenty chance of just guessing right; with ten numbers, you'd have a one in three million, six hundred twenty eight thousand eight hundred chance !" Caveat looked at her side eyed. "What ? I memorized all factorials up to twenty !" his wife replied, "My cutie mark IS for probability and math ! It even has P(i)=n!/r! (n-r)!, remember ?" Meanwhile, Caveat had wandered into the aisles of his shop, and came back with an atlas, protractor and compass. "Let's see - that longitude and latitude. Go that direction for that distance puts us …. Uhm, honey ? Are you SURE you got those numbers in the right order ? They put us in the Badlands ! Just east of the Sea of Ruin, on the northernmost edge of Tenochtitlan !" "Well, there ARE many ruins and old temples yet to be discovered out there." she replied. "And how are we supposed to investigate them ?" Caveat asked, "I'm a curio merchant, and you're a card sharp/shipping agent ! Neither of us is a dashing archaeologist !" "We can go and take a look. See what's there." Shady replied, "If it's too dangerous for us, we can just join up with some 'dashing adventurers' that are always swaggering through the jungles. Or pass the info onto TT. She'll know how to handle it." Caveat thought for a moment, weighing the pros and cons of this little jaunt. But since his wife was all for it, he decided to go along with it. "That's a very long journey." he began, "The trains don't go out there, and what trails MIGHT be present would be long, constant battle against the jungle. The fastest and easiest way to get there would be by air. I think I have just the thing in the warehouse !" They went around back, to the warehouse where Caveat kept curios that were too large to fit in his shop. He opened the door and went in, while Shady stayed outside (and well away from the rose bushes on each side of the door. WHY Caveat's distant relatives sent him a vampire rose she didn't know, nor cared to.) He returned momentarily, carting a large basket stuffed with steel rods and what looked like yards of grey silk. "A mini zeppelin ?" she asked. "Yep. Should get us there in style !" replied, starting to put the rods together. "Weren't those recalled a few years ago because of severe safety concerns ?" "Yep. That's why I was able to buy this for a steal !" he replied, still fitting parts together. Shady tried to say something, but nothing came out for a minute. "WHY would you buy a flying deathtrap ?!" "The original models were perfectly safe !" her husband replied, "They had to cut some corners to mass produce them. But it takes very little money to upgrade a mass-produced model to a safe one ! With a little work, you can get a safe mini-Zep for a quarter the price of a stock one !" "It is times like this that I am glad I'm a Pegasus !" Shady thought to herself.
  5. "Well, if there is nothing else, I'd like to get back to training." T Twister stated as she trotted into the gym and began placing a few posts into a random arrangement - a small metal forest. She walked to the opposite side, hunkered down and ran around the track, slowing down a bit to weave through the posts. She wasn't above average speed by any stretch of the imagination, but that was why she was trying to improve her best times.
  6. "That's not a giant flying kitten !" Shady stammered, "THAT is a sphinx ! Just one of those terrorized an entire kingdom before it was outwitted and driven off by the best Pillar of Equestria - Somnambula !" "True enough." Caveat replied, "So, what do you think will happen here ? Standard Scenario BM-1 ?" Shady thought for a moment. "BM-1. Big Monster Attack. The BM swaggers in, does some damage, attracting the attention of the Mane Six and other Important Ponies. Who beat it down. Meaning there really isn't anything for me or Caveat or anypony else to do." "Yes, I suppose so." she sighed, "That means we can get back to that mysterious book we were discussing !" "Don't see how that's possible now. Those 'government agents' bought it from Double Dealer. It's gone now." "Oh. Right." Shady replied glumly, "Nothing to do now but go back home and wait for things to go pear-shaped here. Then back to normal." Caveat gave her a supporting hug before they took the train back to Manehattan. Scene : Caveat's Discount Emporium. A young unicorn couple have brought in an old trunk to sell. "This is a very well made trunk !" Caveat stated as he knocked on it here and there to test its solidity, "Where did you get it ?" "It used to be my grandfather's." the mare stated, "I inherited it a few years ago. Been dragging it all over Manehattan. I wanted to see if I can at least get a few bits for it." "Well, I can give you fifty bits for just the trunk." he stated, "Can you come back in a few days ? I'll need time to appraise whatever's inside. You wouldn't happen to have the combination to the lock ?" She glumly shook her head, before stating she and her husband can come back in three days. Later that day, he and Shady were checking out the contents of the trunk (Caveat knows a few spells for 'dealing with' stubborn locks) "I'd say her grandfather was Prench." Shady stated from behind a small pile of books and magazines, "Everything in here is Prench !" "Yes. It's genuine Prench junk." Caveat replied, "None of this stuff is worth much. They'd get more bits from recycling it than selling it ! The trunk this stuff was in is more valuable than all the stuff inside it !" Shady began laughing before holding up a tattered, moth-eaten book. "Hey dearest ! Does this book look familiar ?" Caveat took the book in his gold telekinetic grasp. Then sighed heavily. "It's the Hitchhiker's Guide to Equestria. First Edition. In Prench. In worse than Poor condition though; three bits would be a generous offer !" Shady was grinning, and gleefully bouncing in place. Caveat noticed, then returned the book to her. "Okay, you can see if there are any mysterious codes in it." She took the book and carefully paged through it (occasionally replacing pages that fell out). "There's a lot of writing in this book." "That's because books like that weren't meant to be collected; they were meant to be used." Caveat replied over his shoulder, "The last five pages of each chapter were left blank, so the owner could jot their own notes in." "I saw that. But there are notes in other languages in the margins on some of these pages." Shady stated, "This page has a note in Germaneic, another has Itailian, and I'm not sure what languages some of these are ! It's all in the same mouth writing. Why would somepony use different languages in their own book ? Unless - IT'S COME KIND OF CODE !!" she squealed gleefully as her husband rolled his eyes.
  7. Outdoor café in Canterlot. Table with the unicorn mare Double Dealer, and Tongue Twister's parents Shady Dealer and Caveat Emptor. "I'm sorry for any trouble I put you and your family through !" Double Dealer said to Shady, "I honestly don't know what got into me !" "It's okay Double Dealer." Caveat replied, "It wasn't your fault. Once some of those artifacts take hold, they're hard to fight off. I should've thought to look earlier, but artifacts like the Shining Star are pretty rare. The one you had was only the second one I've ever seen. Where did you get that item anyway ?" Double Dealer thought for a moment. "You know, I - don't remember ! That whole miserable episode is kind of blurry now." "Don't worry about it. Fuzzy memories are a common side effect of spells that alter the mind. Oh, what are you planning to do with the book ? I know a few ponies that might bid on it." "Oh, I don't have it anymore." Double Dealer replied, "Some stallions from the Bureau of Artifact Verification and Fraud Compensation showed up a few days ago, and bought it for fifty bits. Good thing it was a fake, all things considered." Shady glared at her. "The book Caveat sold to you was NOT a fake !" "Oh." Double Dealer stated, "So, I lost two hundred bits buying a book I really didn't want because my mind was warped by an artifact, and then got cheated by a government organization. I'm down one hundred and fifty bits !" Shady nudged her husband. "I can give you a, refund, if you'd like." he said, barely managing to force out the hated word 'refund'. Double Dealer thought for a bit, before sighing. "No. Keep it. Consider it recompense for the trouble and aggravation I put your family through for no good reason. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some afterschool programs to set up for tomorrow. We have a few pegasi foals in the program. You wouldn't mind stopping by and helping with some flying around the city Shady ?" "I'd be more than happy to help some little fliers !" Shady replied, "Same time they usually start ?" "Yes. See you then." she said after she picked up the check and left. Shady and Caveat returned to their home, Shady flying two feet off the ground, and Caveat staying a few feet away (having learned from decades of marriage to her just how much room she needs for proper flaps). He noticed she seemed deep in thought. "What's with that look, dear ?" he asked. "I don't know what you're talking about." she groused, not changing her expression. "We've been married thirty years. I know when there is something stirring around in your head. What is it this time ?" "That was an oddly specific thing she asked for." Shady stated, "Why that, and not something else impossible to get ?" "It was just a random idea that popped into her addled head." Caveat answered, fearing what rabbit hole this conversation may be headed into. "If it was a random idea, it would be an idea already IN her head !" Shady answered tersely, "How many ponies have ever heard of that book ? Or knew there was more than one edition ? Or that it came in Prench ? And I know there is no 'Bureau of Artifact Verification and Fraud Compensation ! There isn't enough of that sort of fraud to have a whole agency for it." Caveat sighed. His wife was an expert at probability mathematics, which for some reason led her to see connections where none actually existed. But she may have a point about that non-existent bureau. "What are you suggesting dear ? That someone gave Double Dealer that Shining Star, then suggested she ask for one particular rare book ? Whatever for ?" Shady thought for a moment. "Maybe somepony with a Prench first edition used it to go somewhere he shouldn't have, and found or hid some treasure, and he made notes in the margin ! And now somepony is trying to find it ! Which means examining every single Prench first edition that can be found !" "That's - highly unlikely dear !" he replied. "But this is EQUESTRIA !" she stated as she took to the air for a dramatic gesture, "Less likely things happen with disturbing … regularity …. here ?" she continued with a very confused look on her face, looking at something behind her husband. Caveat turned to see what she was looking at. "Huh. A fancy unicorn riding a sphinx. Point taken dearest !"
  8. "Do any of those creatures have their own significant language as well? I never really thought about that, or are they all just dialects of Ponish? I wouldn't entirely be comfortable with calling it Ponish in that case." Loose Cannon asked. "I've traveled quite a bit, doing field research." T Twister replied, "Ponies have no trouble understanding griffins, dragons, diamond dogs, and hippogrifs. The languages they speak are essentially ours. Possibly a side effect of us having an immortal ruler. The only ones that sound different are the yaks, but they use the same words with a different grammar. Probably because they were isolated for so long. Ponish from a thousand years ago seems to been the same as now - the ponies of the Crystal Empire sound no different than anyone else. Creatures from more isolated realms - like the Zebras, and the isles of Neighpon and the Fillypines - still have their own. It's like my instructors said : 'if there are many different languages, they will all eventually become one. If there is one language, it will eventually split into many.'" She noted what Ice Storm said. "So you learned what your special talent was the hard way ? That - could be rough. Your special talent could've been fire control, and having to find out by being caught in a forest fire or something."
  9. "Everypony has to start somewhere." T Twister replied with a shrug, "One of the things you need to be a teacher is to know the subject better than your students. But I do believe the title 'Sensei' takes a few decades to earn." "Ah. CYR - 'Cover Your Rump.' A very common - and rather annoying - practice." T Twister mused to herself, "You might be able to do a job very well, but if hiring you means spending a few extra bits, they won't !" "Yes. I'm a linguist." T Twister replied, "I work with artifacts because they're the steadiest source of novel languages to study - just about every creature in modern Equestria speaks Ponish, or a variant of it. I've been dealing with artifacts most of my life - dad sometimes imports a few trinkets with 'peculiar' traits. And considering how dangerous some artifacts can be, keeping them out of circulation seems a very good idea !" About then Commander Ice Storm came in. T Twister gave her a quick wing salute. "Ah yeah. Those sandstorms ! Been caught in them a few times too many." T Twister stated, as she recalled a few excursions she and her cousins faced when they were foals.
  10. It was only a few minutes before another pony came in. She was an Earthpony mare, with an orange coat, red mane and tail, a Cutie mark of a horseshoe on fire, and milky white eyes. "Yo, um hey you're here too, Tongue Twister right?" Loose walked in introducing herself. "Seems pretty cool here to me. I was expecting maybe, dark colours, maybe... well, I'm still expecting it because, I can't see colour to satisfy that expectation right?" "Yes. I'm Tongue Twister. And you're Loose Cannon, if I recall. I remember you from the meeting." she replied, "You said something like 'no one is meaningless', and 'we need to fight so those that can't won't have to'. Very civic minded. Probably why you received one of those enchanted recruitment letters like I did. The deserts around Las Pegasus can get surprisingly cool at night. They painted this place in neutral grays, for easy maintenance I'd suppose."
  11. Ice Storm's Casino, the bar : "Don't see you out this way too often cuz !" Icepick (a sand colored pegasus stallion) said to Tongue Twister, "What brought you out ? Checking up on one of your dad's money-making ventures again ?" "No. Not this time." she replied, "They're considering downsizing back at the Manehattan museum. So I got in on the ground floor of something out here before things went pear shaped back home." "Bogus ! The MMNH not need translators of ancient artifacts anymore ?" "They do. It's just that they can get three translator interns from the college for what they pay me." "Ah." "So, this is the newest casino. Kind of ice themed." "Yeah ! Great place ! Overcast got her first real job as a dealer at the poker tables last week !" "Sweet !" "So, how things at your new job ?" "Reminds me of a joke." Tongue Twister replied, "An ice goddess, an invincible warrior, a Shadow Lord and a mortal walk into a bar. The staff set up a table for three." Tongue Twister leaves the table and starts walking away. "Wait, what ?" Icepick replies, "Was that a joke ? Where's the punchline ?" "I said it reminded me of a joke." she replied, "I never claimed it was a good one." Icepick watched her leave, greatly confused. "TT always was a little off." he thought to himself as he finished the drink she left behind, "Shady Dealer should have never married a unicorn !" TT entered the base, deep in thought. -- -- Having devised something that vaguely resembled a plan, T Twister went to the base's locker room to stow her bags. She'd recently received a care package from her parents in Canterlot - homemade snacks, and a magazine from her father. Tales Of The Almost Unbelievable, Issue # 472. With stories with titles like 'The Human That Fell Into The Sky', 'Hayburger Zombies', 'How a Street Thug Beat A God', and 'Orange Frogs and Poodle Teacups' "I don't know where dad finds these things, but they're always a hoot !" she chuckled to herself as she put it in her bag. "Okay you two - no funny business until I get back !" she stated to Ace and Deuces. Ace gave her a salute, while Deuces sort of half saluted, yawned, then went back to sleep. T Twister went to the gym for yet more training (alongside the rest of the 'fodder'), and waited for someone to show up.
  12. T Twister entered the base, deep in thought. -- Having devised something that vaguely resembled a plan, T Twister went to the base's locker room to stow her bags. She'd recently received a care package from her parents in Canterlot - homemade snacks, and a magazine from her father. Tales Of The Almost Unbelievable, Issue # 472. With stories with titles like 'The Human That Fell Into The Sky', 'Hayburger Zombies', 'How a Street Thug Beat A God', and 'Orange Frogs and Poodle Teacups' "I don't know where dad finds these things, but they're always a hoot !" she chuckled to herself as she put it in her bag. "Okay you two - no funny business until I get back !" she stated to Ace and Deuces. Ace gave her a salute, while Deuces sort of half saluted, yawned, then went back to sleep. T Twister went to the gym for yet more training (alongside the rest of the 'fodder'), and waited for someone to show up.
  13. Tongue Twister was lounging in a cafe in Las Pegasus, having returned from an unexpectedly successful trip. She managed to acquire a matched pair of memory pearls, and her dad and his associates were crafting the Memory Vault for her. She had also picked up some Hearths Warming gifts - a small cask of beer from Hoofenheim for mom (she used to work in the casinos, and they always had The Good Stuff), and some Polka albums for dad (she loves the big goof dearly, but his tastes in music were, well .... ) She looked around and the busy opulence around her. "Hard to believe mom grew up here." "Long time no see, cousin !" a pegasus stallion stated. "Looking good Crowbar !" TT replied, "How's Uncle Legbreaker doing ?". "Same as always." he replied, "So, what brings you to town ? Las Pegasus has never been your style." "Business. Been trying to expand my vocational abilities." Crowbar looked around furtively. "Now may not be a good time for you to be here." "Oh ? What's going on ?" "Some new casino moved in. We may have to have a talk with them, to make sure they're not going to muscle in on our territory." TT held her breath to not snort her iced tea out her nose - Crowbar was talking about Ice Storm's place ! "The folks there have no intention of muscling in on anybody." TT replied quietly, looking about sneakily. "Really ? How would you know that ?" "I have my sources." she replied, "Trust me - it's just some rich stallion trying to get richer without anyone noticing." Crowbar suspected his cousin was shading the truth a bit, but knew not to press. "You're sure we won't need to have a meeting with them ?" he asked. "Probably." TT replied with a dismissive wave, "But I'm just spinning the breeze here. Give my regards to Uncle Legbreaker for me." "Sure. See you later." Crowbar replied as he walked away, figuring that TT had passed on a warning for him about pursuing the matter further. TT heaved a sigh of relief. "Hopefully, STAR will have one less mundane threat to deal with. And mom's old friends would've been wiped out if they tried to 'deal with' them ! It's funny - if I do things right, nopony should know if I've done anything at all."
  14. Gotta wonder what Cozy Glow's parents think of all this - the princesses sent her to Tartarus ! Unless she's actually an adult that just looks like a filly - seems very smart and focused for a kid. She did manage to drop a LOT of energy into the Void - hope that doesn't attract the attention of something.
  15. Tongue Twister looked over the paperwork her mother had given her - various documents of transit, passports, import/export licenses, and directions. "Great Celestia does Mom give wonderful directions !" TT said to herself in her room in Manehattan, "This has got to be the most efficient route possible. Except near the end here - if I stop at this station, I'll have to fly for three and a half days to the east, slightly curving to the north north east along a river's course. Or, I can just go to the end of the line. Then it's just two days straight flying." She noted that on her map, her mother had drawn a rough cartoon of an elderly stallion, with the words 'Ticket Taker of DooOOOOM !!' written under it. TT looked at it closely, squinted at it, then wondered why her mom had written it like that. "Short, straight and direct is always best for long trips." she noted to herself as she headed for the train station. ----- "Well, THAT was ... cringeworthy !" she noted to herself as she took to the skies, heading twelve degrees, 25 minutes, 15 seconds north of east. It was times like this, high in the air among the clouds that she REALLY loved being a pegasus ! Ace and Deuces had a rather different opinion of things; being ground creatures, they hunkered down in her saddlebag and didn't move much. TT figured three stops of half an hour each for meals and such should be fine. She'd end up on the eastern shore of Equestria, to catch a boat to Neighpon (she can't fly the great distance with no rest stops !) From there it was a short flight to Long Guo. Then to the Outer Ward of Heighjing to track down the Longma dad sold that bottlecap collection to.
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