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[STAR members] Shadow of Ice, Base, north of Las Pegasus

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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.
--

Spoiler

[ ooc note : all of this occurs in her head]

 

"Well, THIS tolls the funeral bell !" she fretted, "What have I gotten myself into ?!  That offer to work for STAR sounded good ... in principle.  But this needless secrecy ?  Can only lead to trouble.


The EUP had exactly the same mission as STAR - and THEY worked out in the open !


'We need to maintain plausible deniability !', the higher ups doth proclaim.  But you only need plausible deniability when whatever you doing is illegal, immoral, or unethical, and you want to maintain a FACADE of decency.  


Protecting Equestria from invaders is none of the above.


'We need to make all invaders know that Equestria is NOT an easy prize to be taken !'  intone the officers.  But how can invaders learn that if we work in secret ?


Equestria will not change - it will look as 'soft' and 'weak' as it always did; the invaders will learn that one particular airship can stomp their behinds.  But since its alliance is secret, no one is expected to make the connection that it represents the defensive power of Equestria !


Thus, lesson NOT learned.


And once they notice that it only defends Equestria's interests, you'd only need the brains of a tree stump to deduce that the ship is either Equestrian, or an allies.

 

Meaning the secrecy is pointless.


Equestria needs defenders.  But is the current way STAR is intended to work the way to do it ?"


The Angel and Devil of Decisions appeared on TT's shoulders - Yang (a pure white pegasus mare with a large black spot on her forehead, representing the positive and light), and Yin (a pure black pegasus mare with a large white spot on her forehead, representing the negative and dark).

 

"STAR actually has the resources to do the job." Yang stated.


"If being a bigger menace than the threats we defeated is 'doing the job' you mean !" Yin snarked back.


"Ice Storm definitely wants to protect Equestria." Yang replied.


"Tempest seems to be doing what she did before.  EXACTLY as she did before." Yin retorted, "Different goal, but same methods.  A hammer and chisel are great for sculpting, but not so good for cooking."


"And no one's sure of what Sombra is up to."  TT interjected.


"This disharmony can only lead to disaster if allowed to continue." both Yin and Yang say as one.


"So, I should stay and attempt to sort things out ?" TT inquired, "The organization is new, so it will take some time for things to settle down."


"As a single pebble can start a city-breaking avalanche, so can a few words into the right ponies' ear have great influence !" stated Yang cheerily.


"Why should they listen to you at all ?" inquired Yin after she got done rolling her eyes, "You are merely a mortal amongst divinity !  An irrelevant piece of background furniture !  Cannon fodder to be used or ignored !"


"Uhm, Yin ?" Yang asked.


"An easily forgotten Nothing !"


"Yin ?" Yang inquired again.


"A single grain of sand on the infinite beach of their relevance !" Yin continued.


"YIN !!"


"What ?"


"Are you going somewhere with this line of thought ?"


"Oh.  Right !" she sheepishly replied before turning to T Twister "So - what will you do if things take a turn towards the dark ?"


T Twister sighed.  "If that happens, then the moral thing to do would be to take the whole organization down."


"Even if you have to go down with it ?" inquired Yin.


"Yes." T Twister replied, "I joined this organization of my own free will, so I have no excuses.
At the least, the best place to disassemble an out of control organization from is from within."


"So, observe, hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and do the best you can with what you've got.  Same as usual." Yin sighed.


"The Plan is as formless as water.  It can adapt to any situation !" Yang cheered, "Being inconspicuous is a good thing in this case !"


Yin facehoofed before she and Yang disappeared in a puff of imaginary smoke.

 


--
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.

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It kind of made sense to her.

 

Loose was still kind of mad, there was no denying that, but she understood why they never accepted her. It wasn't because she wouldn't be able to keep up, it was because they wouldn't be able to keep up with her. She can still fight, she can still train, she can accommodate herself into the military, but they cannot accommodate themselves around her. Such an army has been around for a long time and as far as she knew, it didn't really change much. Of course, the members changed all the time, but the overarching principles remained the same, and with her in, then there would have to be several changes. 

 

Like the EUP could really change that much. 

 

But luckily, she managed to find this instead. Some private elite force that was willing to take her in, a force that existed because the EUP was apparently too incompetent. She didn't really need an opinion on whether or not that was true, because this was the best option she had. She was basically a vigilante now. Like in those stories, except more real. Or maybe she was a mercenary. Glorified mercenaries they were. 

 

She was given the rank of E-4, or a specialist. She didn't have to work her way up the ranks since this was newly formed, there were plenty of positions available so she didn't have much opinion on the judgment of her commander. She was still an enlisted though, and in the eyes of the army, that meant she was the working soldier. There to do the physical work, because who would ever trust her to be an officer? Not even herself. 

 

With her enlistment came her transfer to the new base, which was located near Las Pegasus. Not quite finished, but enough to satisfy her needs. Or at least she thought, she hadn't actually explored the entire base yet. 

 

When she walked into the gym, she sensed around. A gym it was, but more so suited for the combat of a soldier. She noticed another pony there. She recognised her from the first session. To be fair, she only really paid attention to half of that, but she still remembered this pony. Tongue Twister wasn't it? And she was a linguist, mostly working for museums. That's what Loose remembered. Certainly a better candidate for the specialist role then she was. 

 

"Yo, um hey you're here too, Tongue Twister right?" Loose walked in introducing herself. Tongue Twister was an enlisted too right? So it was okay for her to act like this? "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?"

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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."

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Yeah, that's right. She did say that cheesy speech. Well, it was kind of cheesy to her and she swore she wasn't in control of herself, which was a lie, it wasn't much different from her normal speech. "That's right, I'm Loose Cannon. When you're good at martial arts there are really two options to protect others. Teach them how to fight or fight for them," She explained. As she talked her positioning would drift more so away from the mare as she examined the room. "And I don't think I could possibly really teach anyone much. Could you imagine that? Sensei Loose?"

 

"Well, I mean, I don't think you can because I bet you don't know me very well. I'm not entirely sure how I got the invite, but I'm not going to question the methods of the Commander. All I can tell you is that I took this job because nopony else would have me, some stuff about accommodation," She trailed out near the end.

 

"I don't think it would matter what colour they painted the place if it's supposed to be concealed. Maybe some colours to indicate guidance and stuff? It doesn't matter to me," she turned back towards Tongue Twister. "You're a linguist right? And you work with artifacts? Do you think any of them could be vital to our defense?"

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EelWvW1.png

 

The meeting that she had been apart of had taken a lot less time than she had envisioned it taking. Truth be told, Tempest, while a powerful mare was still very much a loose canon. Their pact was the only guarantee that she would remain loyal to her. The sooner that she was able to solidify her research on prosthetic horns and the method that she was envisioning... and making it work, the better. After all, if she could get a mare like Tempest unwaveringly loyal to her, that would make everything much easier for her later. The biggest problem was that it didn't seem like Tempest and Luna were going to get a long very well. As much as she was hopeful that both of them could look beyond the past, she wasn't surprised that the two didn't trust each other. However, if this was going to work, they would have to prove to each other that they could be trusted. Luna wasn't just going to openly trust her because of what she did, and Tempest wasn't going to trust Luna because she would feel like they have constant eyes on her. Waiting for her to mess up so that they could take advantage of that. It was a delicate situation.

 

She would have to deal with that in time as it rose though. Right now, since she was on the base anyway, the most important thing for her to do right now was to mingle with the rest of the staff and soldiers on the base. After all, what reason would anypony here have to follow her if she didn't at least make an effort to prove to them that she was a mare with trusting. It was just as important that everypony here trusted her as much as she was trusting them. She figured the best place to start, would be the first place that most soldiers would go in a place like this. Either the gym, or the mess hall, and she went with the gym first. It was on the way to the mess hall from where she was so it made sense.

 

She approached the door and as she did she could here some of the conversation that the ponies were having inside. It was muffled from the door and the walls but she started to open the door and make her way inside. Inside, were Tongue Twister and Loose Canon. Some of her more unique soldiers that were more to add to the list of ponies that current Equestrian Society had failed. Those who wish to help defend our land should never be denied the opportunity to at least try. If it ends up not being something they can do, at the very least Ice Storm would give them a chance to try. And if they couldn't fight, there were plenty of other uses that she could find for them to let them fell useful in what ways that they can. nopony was ever useless here. She heard them start talking about the paint and how cool it can get here at nights.

 

Ice smiled a bit as she started to speak up. "I've done what I can to accommodate for the temperature loss at night. Keeping the base underground like I have allows it to stay at a more consistant temperature than it would be on the surface of the desert. It actually serves multiple purposes. Not only does being underground make it harder to detect, it also saves on maintenance by quite a bit actually. Not only that but it's also completely protected from the sandstorms that like to pop up out of nowhere. I do know that in some of the upper levels it can get a bit cool or warm depending on the time of year its in and I made sure that all of the climate controls were one-hundred percent functional before I even considered opening it," she said with a smile. "As far as the colors go, everything in the base right now is basically a primer. We haven't decided on a a color scheme for the organization yet, but it's a work in progress. Once we get that finished, we'll completely overhaul the colors here."

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"That's right, I'm Loose Cannon. When you're good at martial arts there are really two options to protect others. Teach them how to fight or fight for them," She explained. As she talked her positioning would drift more so away from the mare as she examined the room. "And I don't think I could possibly really teach anyone much. Could you imagine that? Sensei Loose?"

 

"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." 
 

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"Well, I mean, I don't think you can because I bet you don't know me very well. I'm not entirely sure how I got the invite, but I'm not going to question the methods of the Commander. All I can tell you is that I took this job because nopony else would have me, some stuff about accommodation," She trailed out near the end.

 

 

"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 !"

 

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"I don't think it would matter what colour they painted the place if it's supposed to be concealed. Maybe some colours to indicate guidance and stuff? It doesn't matter to me," she turned back towards Tongue Twister. "You're a linguist right? And you work with artifacts? Do you think any of them could be vital to our defense?"

 

"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.

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She was nowhere near the age of being a Sensei at that point, and she didn't really feel like competing with her old teacher. "Things might change when I get older, maybe I will become a teacher. If I'm still alive by then. I don't really expect to live that long and I'm kind of okay with it," she explained before thinking. She heard someone come in behind her but she didn't bother to check who it was while she continued. "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." Hopefully she asked that correctly because she got lost on her own words.

 

When she heard the commander speak, Loose quickly turned herself around and snapped her own salute. She wasn't expecting a visit from the commander so soon, what with all the stuff going on. But maybe there was a reason. "Commander, I wasn't expecting to see you again so soon, what brings you down here at this time? You really put a lot of thought into the base. I'll have more comfort knowing that the base is adequately designed even if I would have tolerated the conditions otherwise," She complimented. "When you do overhaul the colours, I do ask that you let me know so I won't feel so left out."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A smile beamed across Ice Storm's face as the two cadets turned to her and saluted her. She gently raised a hoof and dismissed the formality. "I appreciate it, but when we aren't on the battlefield, there is little need for such formalities," she said with a bit of a jovial tone. One that was very much different from when she took on the persona of Black Ice when she was at the meeting the first time. It was obvious that she was much more laid back now that they weren't dealing with important issues themselves. In fact she relished the opportunity. When Tongue Twister mentioned that she had been caught in those sand storms a few too many times.

 

"I'm sorry to hear that. I myself never got caught in a sandstorm, so I can't say that I know what that's like, but I have been caught in a blizzard. I remember very little of it though. I remember I was very young and traveling to Canterlot. I made it halfway up the mountain when it hit. next thing I knew I felt a surge of magic, and I blacked out. When I woke up the blizzard was over and I was in a small igloo. To this day I'm still not entirely sure what happened or how I survived. I just know when I woke up, I had my cutie mark," she said with a smile as she looked over to Loose Canon that seemed surprised to see her. Almost like she wasn't sure that she was supposed to be down here or the like. She figured that she would still be dealing with the important stuff.

 

"Well the meeting I had planned for today didn't take as long as I was expecting it to, so I have a bit of time to kill while I'm here so I figured the best way to utilize that time is to get to know the ponies that I will be fighting with. As for the base itself, a lot of thought has to be put into something of this magnitude. It's really hard to keep something like this hidden in plane sight, so it took a lot of strategic planning and a lot of utilizing a lot of the natural resources in the area. Most of the rooms and corridors in the base are just extensions of the cave systems in the ravine, but reinforced and expanded for what we needed. This way all of the structural integrity remained intact above us. That being said, when we do finally decide on a color scheme for the organization, I will make sure to let you know," she said with a smile.

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"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."

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