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New Age, New Edge [Ciraxis, LunarDisplay]

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Swift Squall silently stared at the wast expense of Equestria's western desert. The the dry expense of the desert's heart barely had any life clinging to it....Squall and those under his employ notwithstanding. And Swift being Swift, he had a reason for setting up a base with the landing pad in the middle of the total nowhere....

"Sir! Mr. Squallcoast! Everything is ready!" a petite, Earth Pony mare with glasses and chestnut mane styled into braid. A perfect image of assistant or secretary or assistant....

Except she wore a bodysuit, more reminiscent of Wonderbolts then anything else.

"........" despite being spoken to, noblepony did not answer, apparently distracted by his own thoughts.

"Sir? Mister Squallcoast?" the mare spoke again before shaking his shoulder. This finally got stallions attention, who turned around surprised.

"Is everything alright Sir?" she asked, worried.

"I was just in deep thought. That's all Alexandrite. There's.....lot to digest. Lot to consider." Swift mused, which was kind of not-answer.

"Please, just 'Alex' would do and.....Are you having doubts Sir?" Alexandrite asked, tilting her head prodding for some clarification.

"A little late for that. We build that and...well you can't put the genie back in the bottle one you let him out. Even if we would drop all of this....what I am supposed to say to those who worked over the project? To forget about it? It doesn't work that way." Squall shook his head in resignation.

"Well with all due respect Sir....Your way of thinking isn't working either." the mare protested which made noblestallion raise an eyebrow.

"My mother always said 'If it can be done, it will be done. Genius or idiocy notwithstanding.' And it IS needed Mr. Squallcoast, stating otherwise is just plainly stupid. I WAS in the Army. We were totally unprepared for someone like Storm King! But if we would have tools like that back then..." she waved at the humongous mountain of metal that was on the edge of the camp.

"So brutally honest Annurca....I can see why NAVY didn't liked your opinions very much..." Swift said, and for a first time since morning his worried expression was replaced with an amused smile.

"Well Sir....I may have be a solider, helmspony or test pilot....but at the center of it all I am also an Apple!" Annurca said as she scuttled off. "Also, 'Alex'!"

 

".....Hmp...I guess I should get ready too." Swift said, as he moved towards the shelter. The filed tests will begin soon.

 

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Celestial Sapphire walked upon barren land, the blazing sun had prevented most vegetation from growing. Her hooves ached after walking for miles, but she knew something was wrong out here. She could feel it with every fiber of her being, and if there wasn't, that would surprise her. The Borderlands were the perfect place to perform evil deeds because nopony was ever out here, except for today.

 

Celestial Sapphire took it upon herself stop evil in its tracks years ago and not even the scorching sun would stop her. Her sword, strapped to her side, was ready to be put to use. The last time Sapphire had put it to use other than as a doorstop was almost a year ago. The pale mare flipped her hair as she trodded up a hill. Upon reaching the top she could see, in the distance, a small camp had been set up.

 

"Hm," Sapphire smirked, "I knew it!"

 

Sapphire would have just snuck around to verify the deeds being done were evil, but after finishing two canteens of water a couple hours ago, she was dehydrated. So, she just walked right on in. Should she have been there? Probably not. Was she walking around like she owned the place? You betcha.

 

Nopony has ever said Celestial Sapphire has thought things through. Sapphire planned to live up to that as she walked around the outside, searching for a door she could enter, having approached the back. She was totally good at breaking and entering. Maybe she was wrong about this place, most evildoers have henchman guarding the grounds but, why else would anypony be out here? They'd have to be dumb to wonder out here for nothing...oh, wait.

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After changing his clothes, Squall finally arrived to the observation site.

"Is everything ready?" Swift asked, while giving a glances over his shades to the assembled crew.

"Yes Sir! All roaring and ready to go. Alexandrite also signaled that she already boarded the Vortex as well." one of TEMPEST employees stated.

"Good. Now then, rise the blast shelters and take your positions." noblepony ordered.

Upon his his, the very ground beneath the camp and beyond started shaking minute later. Some of the standing tents even fell over because of those tremors but Squall paid them no heed - everything of importance was already moved to the buildings that were now rising from Pinto Desert sands.

 

"You know Sir..." a female voice said to Squall through the raised dust cloud "When we built this a year ago I didn't knew what to think." the mare admitted. "But now I can't deny how convenient it is that we have access to all of this."

"It pays to be prepared Miss Matsunaga." Swift mused. "Although to be honest I was hoping it would be REA that would make use of those proving grounds instead. Well, perhaps they still will - especially if I manage to gather Princesses support behind 'Camelot Project'. I have a feeling that REA younger officer cadre will be behind it, and some older and far-sighted commanders like General Pummel or Admiral Bluewood." unicorn gave a heavy sight just as they reached the shelter that doubled as observation and command center. "But we have to make a good impression if we hope to succeed with this. Equestria can't be allowed to fight with sticks and stones any longer." Swift added as he opened the heavy metal doors and the duo headed inside.

 

"What's the status?" nobelepony immediately asked the operators that were already inside and studying the reading from the equipment.

"Aside from visibility everything is green Sir. Captain Annurca also reported that everything is ready from her side. We only waiting for the dust to settle to start."

"Good, but allow me to reconfirm this." Swift mused before leaning over the radio communicators. "Can you hear me Alexandrite? Is everything fine on your end?"

"Loud and clear. Also, there are no problems with Vortex." Earth's mare voice answered through the speaker.

"This is fine to hear, but I was referring to You." Swift clarified which lead to an awkward pause.

"I....Well I am a little nervous. This is first time in Vortex fully assembled, and it's so different from airship or seafaring vessel...." she admitted.

"That's natural Annurca." Swift reassured his employee "After all, it's something that was never done before. We writing a new chapter in the future history books."

"......It it's the page I was expecting to debut at Sir." Alexandrite confessed.

"It never really is. But know this, there is nopony better to write it then you are Alex." he added, showing his support.

".....Thank you Sir. I keep that in mind." was heard through the radio.

"I know that you will. Also, remember that most of weapon armaments are not a real deal today - we leaving subsequent tests. Now.....IB-01 'Vortex'......BEGIN!"

 

 

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Sapphire was a lucky mare. Not only the she chose the one of places build from solid materials - thus still standing the unexpected quake - but it was also storehouse of some kind.

Water, food and many more mysteries hiding in the wooden crates - all that curious mare like her could want. Not only that, the storehouse also had a window for some reason, one that gave her the first-pony-view at the rising stone structures. The camp essentially tripled in size in just five minutes! Now it couldn't be called small by any means.

 

But it wasn't the only thing that she could see rising. Through the dust cloud Celestial could observe a massive, avian shaped giant standing up...one that had to be 100 hooves tall!

 

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Over the control room a oud cheer could be heard. While this was just a start-up nopony could withhold their enthusiasm as they saw the metallic behemoth riing and taking it's first step through the dragon glass window.

"This is Alexandrite. All systems green and responding...although controls appear to be a little oversensitive. Requesting permission for adjustments." the Apple mare asked over the radio communicators.

"Granted." Swift agreed. While his face displayed absolute control, inside he felt immense satisfaction. What they were doing today exceeded imagination of most Equestrians. Swift knew that sooner or later the technical novelties they were testing here will make their way to the lives of the average ponies, hopefully making them more enjoyable and easier....even if just a little bit. For now he had to settle with making them safer....

This much was certain....

So why he had....this feeling of anxiety present at his mind?

 

"....Kei..." he finally said to the quilin mare that was accompanying him.

"Yes Mister Squallcoast?"

"Send it patrols. With stun equipment if you will." businesspony asked

"During the test? Now? Are...are you expecting somepony here, right now Sir?" Kei asked, clear surprised.

"I know that's timing unusual but I just had a hunch Miss Matsunaga. And you learn to trust your hunch after so many close calls as I had...." he murmured quietly, with phantom pain of long gone scars creeping on his back.

"Very well Sir. I am sending patrols now."

"Thank you. And just in case you apperhoof somepony...bring them here. I don't want to miss any of this." Squall asked, transfixed on now moving Vortex.

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Before Sapphire busted into the warehouse, she drew her sword using a levitation spell. With her weapon at the ready, the pale pony bust through the door to find not even a single pony, but instead a supply room of sorts. As she began to sort through boxes, she found food and water, ”Nopony will mind if I take these, because it’s for the good of Equestria.” The blue-maned pony justified to herself as she stuffed her saddlebag with rations. She began sorting through other boxes, making mental notes of what could be nefarious items if she had no idea what they were. Suddenly, an earthquake shook the room, almost causing her to lose balance. While she didn’t lose her balance, she lost her concentration and dropped her sword. It hit the floor with a loud clack which was drowned out by the continuous shaking. Once the vibrations ended and the dust had settled, Sapphire immediately noticed the titanic sized….what was that?

 

Sapphire hurriedly exited the building, grabbing her sword on the way out. She took a long drink of one of the canteens she had “borrowed”, before racing towards the behemoth that had sprouted from the ground. Her hooves hit the ground as she quickly headed towards the large structure that had suddenly appeared. Her sword remained sheathed as she pressed on, near the grounds of the contraption, troops could be seen. ’Could they be Equestrian Guards?’ Sapphire took a few more gallops before she returned to her thoughts, ’No. That can’t be them, there would have been a warning or a newsletter...who are they?’

 

It didn’t take Sapphire long to find out. She approached the patrol group less than cautiously, nopony said a word as the group apprehended her. It should have been harder, but it took a single touch with their equipment to stun her. Defeated and unable to move, Sapphire was at the mercy of her captors. if it hadn't been for the temporary stun, Sapphire would be putting up more of a fight, hopefully, they would go easy on her. 

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The nobelpony and his entourage were completely absorbed with test run observations, when the patrol arrived, with Celestial in tow.

 

"Hmmm?" Squall murmured, feeling the rush of air and the clanking of the armor. when door opened behind him. As everpony else he turned around to see reason for the disturbance. Which turned out to be a whole unit of his guards. It seemed that Swift really believed into investing into safety of his worker, because every single one of them was armored head to hooftip. The royal guard could wore a cardboard boxes in comparison

"Is that...?" the quilin mare asked clearly surprised, unlike her boss who could only smirk as he was proven right.

"Well what do you know. Seems my instincts were right." he said before walking up to the unit leader.

"Thank you for your hard work. By the way did she had any weapons?" Swift said to his employees before posing a question.

"All the day's work Sir. And indeed she did. This blade" the commander said in response before hoofing to the unicorn Sapphire's sword. Squall proceeded to unsheathe it before apprising the weapon with an eye of the connoisseur.

"Hmm tempered Aquelian steel, with moonsilver coating on the edges I see. Not a bad choice by any means. Not new but in great shape, maintained with great care." he commented aloud before making a few practice swings.

His gaze shifted to Celestial and frowned.

"Why are you still holding her?" he asked.

"Well she's still paralyzed Sir. She would fall otherwise." commander explained.

"Then why don't you put her on this armchair? She's not a sack of potatoes you know! Also errr..." Swift hesitated while the guards moved to fulfill his command, placing still stunned mare on the piece of furniture under the wall.

"Yes Sir?" one of the soldiers asked, noticing his boss indecision.

"The twelve of you...is a wee bit to much. Especially since you still aiming your stun batons at her." swordstallion pointed out with a raised hoof.

"Yeah, not to chime in, but Mister Squallcoast is right. It's getting a little too crowded here." Matsunaga added.

"Oh...apologies." commander said. Despite his voice being muffled , it was clear that he was little embarrassed.

"Nonononono, it's fine it's fine, I understand." Swift quickly interrupted. "Old habits die hard. I used to be in that business myself as you know. Just...well four of you will be more then enough. And once again, thank you by you hard work. Really quick response!"  he added a few more words of encouragement before his attention turned towards Sapphire once more.

"Where were we? Ah yes, this...." noblepony recalled before making a few more swings at the air. Seemingly satisfied, he sheeted the blade and leaned the weapon against the armchair, apprently nonchalant about the prospect of armed intruder being in the same room as himself.

"Perfectly balanced. A little too light and short for me, but that should be expected. Moonsilver is not cheap. Was this custom made for you?" he asked but quickly verbally backspaced. "Err...Well...you don't have to tell me right away. Let me know when you can pull off a raspberry alright? Also could those daggers in your mane and tail stay where they are? Thank you." nobelpony said, earning a surprised looks from four present guards.

Before Squall could add anything else, a loud noise, coming from outside resounding thought the air. Between roar and screech, the metallic reverb made it clear it couldn't come from lungs of any living creature.

 

"What in TARTARUS was THAT?!" Swift asked, forgetting about the unicorn mare for a moment.

"...It...was a roar, Sir?" Kei suggested bashfully.

"I could hear that much. What I am asking, why does it even has this feature?! What is this, Harebro toy?!" nobelpony added in irritated tone.

 

Now that she had a first-pony-view, Celestial Sapphire could clearly see what the metallic goliath was. In shape it resembled and an avian or one of those long extinct reptiles, but it was larger then either of them had right to be. Three glowing cyan light could be seen of a profile of it's head, glowing thought the dust cloud. It was safe to assume that the other thee would shine on the other side. It had a gray, metallic surface, although it appeared to be intentionally matted. A faint aether light of the same color as it's 'eye's could also be seen, emoting from the metal giant joints. Was this...a golem...?

 

"How I am supposed to pitch that to Princesses? How can I expect them or any Army officials to treat this seriously if things like these will keep happening?" Swift ranted further.

"Well Sir....from the readings it looks like it doesn't hamper any of Vortex's functions. This is our first real test. And....." Kei said before another roar pierced the air.

"It appears Annurca is having fun." quilin mare lampshaded when ringing in everpony ears stopped.

"OH MY GOSH, THIS IS AWESOME!" could be heard coming from the radio speaker.

"Also, I want mine to do that too when it's finished! I mean, it's called 'Roar' mister Squallcoast!" quilin mare demanded.

"Fine, have it your way,. But tell engineers that NO hidden functions from now on! This isn't one of those Neighponese mangas!" businesses-stallion said before turning towards the pony that was making notes. "Put that one under..Intimidation factor,  I guess? Psychological weapon? Yeah either of the two."  unicorn shrugged before turning towards the intruder.

 

"All better I see. Good. Probably you have a lot of questions but as the host I believe I have priority when it come to that..." he started but paused when he saw a look in Sapphire eyes.

"Oh for Celestia Solar Rum sake, you not one of those idiots who took Ogres & Oubliettes way too seriously, aren't you? Please say you not." Swift said, his expression making clear how exasperated hie was with the situation. Swift took one of the sitting stools that was in the room and brought it himself, before putting it down and taking a seat across Celestial Sapphire

.

"Well alignment chart or not - time for a quiz. First question, what made you think trespassing on private property was a good idea? Especially one that serves as a proving ground?" Swift asked. "And yes, I said 'Private Property'. I mean, You had to go past the signs, right? Legally purchased by my company. Should I show you ownership papers Miss? I can get a copy here in five minutes. I even negotiated with Buffalo Tribes you know. Made sure that here is not one of their pastures after one of those rare rainfalls, ancestral graveyard, holy site or whatever. Which means that those that are allowed to be present here are only TEMPEST Corporation employees, or government officials. And correct me if I am wrong, but you look like neither. Which means if THAT would step on YOU....." Swift pointed out at metal behemont outside the dragon glass window. "....well, though luck. You would had only yourself to blame." he summed up before pausing.

 

"Second question is - what do you think we are doing here? Take your time on that one. I wait." he said, with the tone that made it clear he wasn't expecting a correct answer.

 

"And third....You seem like a mare that care a great deal about her property. Shame you aren't as careful with things that belong to the others. Let us see..." the orange stallion brought to his face a note that unit captain passed to him earlier along with Sapphire's blade. "Unauthorized entry, property destruction, burglary, robbery. Seems about right, is it?" Swift mused. "Well the third question is,- Can you give me a reason to NOT sic my army of lawyers at you?" Squall said with threatening growl while glaring at her with those emerald eyes of his.

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