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Game Night 07: Anon Game Night (Part 3)

By twilightgamenight
Created: 18th December 2020 09:45:57 PM

  1. >You awaken to the sound of trumpets.
  2. >Well, actually... Twilight awakens to the sound of trumpets. You awaken to her flinging your arm aside and bolting upright in a way only anime characters can.
  3. >And apparently magical marshmallow ponies.
  4. >"We're late!" she screams, shoving you out of bed. "Stall her!"
  5. "What? Huh? Oh."
  6. >Yeah, your princess needs a good scrubbing before she's in any fit state to receive company. You pull on some clothes in an effort to look somewhat presentable and rush downstairs - almost making the trip quicker than ideal as your stumble down the shallow steps.
  7. >Common sense guides you into the kitchen on your way - a splash of water to the face does wonders.
  8. >The trumpets sound again.
  9. "Oh shit oh shit"
  10. >Why doesn't Twilight have servants for stuff like this?
  11. >Oh, right. Spike. Dammit. You're beginning to miss that little purple lizard. Aw shit, you do miss him. Someone else around here with hands that gets treated like crap?
  12. >For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my battle-brother eternal.
  13. >You fling open the front door, startling the poor herald bad enough he drops his trumpet.
  14. "Heya princess."
  15. >You hang out the door, hands on the frame, completely ignoring the entourage and hangers-on. Cadence returns your smile.
  16. >"I know it is not in the schedule, but let me spend a little time with my sister-in-law," she gently dismisses her followers.
  17. >You stand aside, allowing your third favorite princess to enter. Some of her guards move to follow, but she wards them off with an elegant shake of her head.
  18. >"A few moments, please."
  19. >You slowly shut the door, giving them an exaggerated wave.
  20. >"Oh damn it, Anon!" Cadence giggles once the door is closed. "Do you always have to antagonize my servants?"
  21. "Of course I do! They're always so gorram serious."
  22. >She lets out a very un-princess-like chuckle of approval at your explanation.
  23. >"So... I'm guessing you have to stall us so Twilight can clean up?" she eventually asks, never attempting to move further into the castle.
  24. >You step back quickly, trying to remember if you put pants on. Dammit, yes, you did. So what gave it away?
  25. >Cadence sniffs slightly, just loud enough to emphasis the noise.
  26. >"I'm the princess of love, remember?" she grins smugly at you. "I can tell."
  27. >Oh shit this little pink pony knows that you -
  28. >"I hope you two had fun last night."
  29. "Um... yes."
  30. >"Soooo..." Cadence leans over, giving you a slight nudge with her shoulder.
  31. "So why are you here? I mean... princess business, obviously, but what?"
  32. >She doesn't answer, giving you another bump, but you steadfastly ignore her attempts to pry more information from you.
  33. >"Trade agreements," Cadence eventually answers, the disappointment ringing clear and true in her voice. "The Crystal Empire doesn't have much in the way of food production, and the population is growing wildly every year."
  34. >You raise an eyebrow at her questioningly.
  35. >"What?" She returns your look. "What? Oh, no!" She laughs as she realizes what you were thinking. "Not because of me! Tourism and a relatively low cost of living are bringing them in hoof over hoof."
  36. >She gives you a sly look.
  37. >"Lots of ponies are building new lives there," she hints. "The empire was frozen in time for the past thousand years - lots of opportunities to bring the crystal ponies to the modern age."
  38. "Sorry, but I don't think Twilight would like to move."
  39. >"No, I most certainly would not!" your princess shouts as she comes down the stairs in full royal regalia.
  40. >You look over to Cadence, smiling smugly - but she only has eyes for Twilight. Staring closely at... her...
  41. >neck.
  42. >Oh shit.
  43. >A slight frown creases her face as she leans over and whispers into your ear.
  44. >"Never, EVER, let Shining Armor find out. I love him dearly, but he *can* be a bit of a white knight." She giggles demurely. "Of course, that's why I married him."
  45. >She gives you a gentle shove towards the door.
  46. >"I am sure you have something you need to do, Anon."
  47. >"Wait!" Twilight calls out before Cadence can physically push you out the door. Your bag comes floating from behind her, still stuffed full of the blank books. "I thought you might need these - I copied the text so you can drop them off for everyone early. Give them a chance to look it over before we get together tonight."
  48. >Cadence sidesteps the floating back, gently flipping open the flap and looking inside as it floats past.
  49. >"What are you two up to?"
  50. >You grab the back and run, leaving Twilight to explain her nerdy hobby alone.
  51. "Thanks!"
  52. >"Tell my minions they may enter!" Cadance yells after you. She rears up, giving your princess a hug. "I've made them wait long enough. We can chat after our little meeting."
  53. >You kick open the door, startling the poor herald into dropping his trumpet again. Damn noisemaker now has two dents in it. Heh, let's see him try to wake you up with that *now*.
  54. "Princess Pinko says you can go in now."
  55. >You jerk your thumb at the door.
  56. "Not you."
  57. >One arm shoots out to block the path of the guard who tried to enter earlier.
  58. "Princess said something about ninja assassins. You have to guard the door."
  59. >Oh bloody hell, that look of zealous determination is hilarious. The guard salutes you - salutes *you* of all people - and snaps to outside the door as the rest file in.
  60. >You salute him back.
  61. "Keep up the good work, soldier."
  62. >Whistling a jaunty tune, you march off to deliver the first of the books. Berry Punch wouldn't appreciate the interruption, and Lyra is... well... you're going to swing by Sugarcube Corner to pick up a bodyguard before stopping there. Cheerilee is probably right in the middle of a lesson. No one has any idea where Trixie lives.
  63. >So. Fluttershy. She'll be home. Time to lighten this load you're carrying.
  64.  
  65. >As you suspected, the little yellow pegasus is at home, tending to her animals. You eye that little shit rabbit of hers when she lets you in. Something about him just rubs you the wrong way.
  66. >"So Anon, what brings you here?" Fluttershy asks as reach into your bag. "Not that you need a reason to visit."
  67. >She looks eagerly at your bag, like she knows it's full of fun. Her eyes widen in anticipation as you slowly pull the book out - this might be the happiest you've ever seen her.
  68. >Flutters is the only creature in existence that can look sad while eating tacos.
  69. "Alrighty, Fluttershy, here's your rulebook."
  70. >She reverently takes it in both forehooves, almost toppling over from the weight.
  71. >"Is this just the core book?" she asks in astonishment as she lugs the tome over to the nearest table.
  72. "No, it's the core and every sourcebook for the system."
  73. >Plus a few for related systems. Damn Daemon Hunters.
  74. >She flips the book over, hoofing through it.
  75. >"Where do I even start...?"
  76. "This game has Chapters and Specialties - think of them as B&B's races and classes."
  77. >She nods, carefully listening to your words.
  78. "Start off by picking a specialty, then choose a Chapter that gives your character bonuses that match. I assume you wish to be a healer, right?"
  79. >"Mhm!"
  80. "Well, that gives you three choices - Wolf Priest, Sanguinary Priest or Apothecary."
  81. >"OOOH! OOOOOOOH!" She beams up at you with her shining eyes. "Wolf Priest."
  82. >She smiles. So innocent.
  83. >"That sounds cuddly."
  84. >You guide her through the book, showing her the advanced specialties. She frowns slightly as you explain she has to choose a basic specialty - they all sound too violent to her. Eventually she settles on an Assault Marine.
  85. >"The name isn't very nice, but that jet pack will help me get to ponies who need my help faster," she explains softly.
  86. >You get to skip one part - as a Wolf Priest, Fluttershy's character has to come from the Space Wolves chapter. Silently, you steel yourself for the barrage of Wolf terms, but thankfully she doesn't choose to equip her Space Wolf Wolf Priest with Wolfclaws, wolf pelts, wolf tail talismans. Not does she name him Wolfy McWolferson.
  87. >No, she rolls for that.
  88. >Erik.
  89. >You present Fluttershy with her character sheet.
  90. "Here is Erik, Priest of the Space Wolves chapter. A mighty hero and defender of all mankind."
  91. >Her eyes grow slowly in wonder as you continue.
  92. "He has seen stars being born and has seen worlds die. His saga is long and glorious... and yours to decide."
  93. >Her mouth opens in awe as you flip to the advancement charts.
  94. "You have 25,000 experience to spend, minus 4000 for the Wolf Priest specialty."
  95. >You point out the tables she can choose advancements from - and the whole sections she should avoid.
  96. >"What about equipment...?" Flutterbutt asks softly, trying not to interrupt.
  97. "Well, you get your Standard Issue Equipment, plus any gear from any Signature Wargear traits you take."
  98. >"I can't buy any more...?" her brow furrows in confusion. "Could you tell me how many bits I start with?"
  99. "Oh silly Flutters - you aren't playing an adventurer. You are playing a SPACE MARINE! One of the Emperor's chosen warriors - you do not buy equipment. You requisition it from the armory."
  100. >"Oh." She flips through the book. "I-I'm afraid I can't find the rules for that."
  101. "Don't worry about it - requisition happens after the mission briefing. Basically, I tell you what you have to do, and *then* you decide what extra equipment you need."
  102. >"Oh." She looks disappointed - everypony loves to go shopping, even if it is fictional equipment for fictional characters.
  103. "Any other questions?"
  104. >"One, if you don't mind..." she pushes the rulebook over to you. "Could you please show me the section for pet wolves?"
  105. >You slip out of Fluttershy's cottage, leaving her nose deep in the book, plotting out Erik's skills and talents.
  106. >Who next? Hmmm...
  107. >You look to the sky, checking the sun's position. Cheerilee should be letting the little ones out for recess soon, making that your next stop.
  108. >Though the air is cold, the warm sun makes the journey pleasant. Walking everywhere actually isn't so bad, though you do lack the pony's stamina.
  109. >It's only fair, all things considered.
  110. >As you approach the red schoolhouse, tiny little ponies spill out, bounding with the annoyingly cute enthusiasm of children everywhere. Except... there she is. Berry Pinch.
  111. >Cheerilee all-but has to push her out the door.
  112. >The little filly reluctantly wanders out to play with her friends.
  113. >You wave, catching the teacher's attention.
  114. >"Hey Anon, you're a bit early." She grimaces, unable to laugh at her own joke. "That sounded better in my head."
  115. "Just came by to drop off a rulebook - thought you might like to take a look at it before tonight."
  116. >You pull the second book from your bag, passing it to your friend.
  117. "If you want to get started on your character, you can. Fluttershy rolled up a healer - a Wolf Priest - and Twilight is going with a Librarian. She won't tell me how she spec'd him, so it could be anything from a pyromancer to a telepathist."
  118. >"Are those words supposed to mean anything to me?" she asks, looking at the book doubtfully.
  119. "They will."
  120. >"If you say so. I won't have time to -" Her head jerks up suddenly. "I have to go, teacher senses kicking in."
  121. >Cheerilee drops the book on the schoolhouse porch, rushing over to a group of foals doing absolutely nothing -
  122. >Oh. Yeah. Good thing she got over there in time. That could have been dangerous.
  123. >You'd have thought even a foal would be smart enough not to try a backflip off a swing, but nope! Good thing Cheerilee was there to catch him. Looks like she's going to be busy for a while - time to head on to your next stop.
  124. >Sugarcube Corner.
  125.  
  126. >You don't even get the door halfway open before Pinkie Pie launches a vicious hugsault.
  127. >"Hi, Nonny!"
  128. "Heya Ponka - are the Cakes around?"
  129. >Carrot Cake pops his head out of the kitchen at the sound of your voice.
  130. >"Was there something Pinkie Pie can't help you with?"
  131. "Actually, the opposite. I was wondering if I could borrow her for a while - it's a matter of kingdom security."
  132. >Pinkie falls flat on her plot, staring at you in wonder.
  133. >"Me?" she asks.
  134. >"Her!?" Carrot Cake asks.
  135. "Her."
  136. >Pinkie's head twists back to stare at her employer - from his point of view it must have looked like something out of The Exorcist, because sweat starts to drip from his face and his pupils dilate in fear.
  137. >"Pleeeeaaaaaaaaaaaase?"
  138. >You don't know what facial expression Pinkie made to accompany that, but Carrot Cake quickly ducks back into the kitchen.
  139. >"YES! THERE'S NO STOPPING HER NOW!"
  140. >You reach down and pick up your favorite deranged pony, carrying her over your shoulder.
  141. >"Where are we going!" she asks, somehow getting on your other shoulder, her face in your face. "Is it a party!?"
  142. "Maaaaaaaaybe."
  143. >"Is it a *surprise* party?"
  144. "Could be, but first I need to swing by Lyra's place."
  145. >"And then!?"
  146. >Despite telling her nothing, her enthusiasm ramps up with each question she asks. Good.
  147. "And then you and I go have a little talk with Aryanne."
  148. >"So it *is* a party!" Pinkie Pie claps her forehooves in joy.
  149. "We'll see, Punko. We'll see."
  150. >Pinkie Pie seems satisfied at that and settles down, enjoy the elevated view from your shoulder.
  151. >For a little while.
  152. >"Are we there yet...?" she asks after a few minutes, obviously bored.
  153. "Are we where yet?"
  154. >"Lyra's place, silly!"
  155. >You stop, spinning around in place, giving her a 360 view.
  156. "Do you see it?"
  157. >"Nope!" she giggles down at you.
  158. "Then I guess we aren't there yet."
  159. >You continue walking as a bored Pinkie Pie stretches out across your shoulders, forelegs on one, hindlegs on the other. Like an explorer drawing up the bucket of a well, she pulls your messenger bag up by its strap.
  160. >"What's in here, 'Nonny?"
  161. "Just some books for a game I'm running tonight."
  162. >"Is this what you need me for?" she asks you, her voice tinged with disappointment.
  163. "Oh no, Ponka. I need you for greater things, not mere *games*."
  164. >"But I like games!" she giggles, letting the bag drop. The sudden return of its weight on your shoulder almost tips you over.
  165. >"What system?"
  166. "One you've never heard of - from my home. Deathwatch."
  167. >You pause for a second, suddenly worried.
  168. "I hope you aren't mad I didn't invite you to join us."
  169. >Pinkie Pie somehow contorts her body enough to shove her nose against yours. Upside down, of course.
  170. >"No, silly!" she giggles in your face. "Could you imagine *me* playing a Space Marine?"
  171. >Her cake and strawberry flavored breath distracts you almost enough that you miss what she said. Space Marine?
  172. >"Besides, I'd rather play as an Eldar Har-le--q--" she trails off, realizing just what she's saying. "-QUITE AN INTERESTING GAME YOU HAVE THERE, ANON. I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT."
  173. >You resist the immediate impulse to fling Pinkie Pie as far as possible - it's your own fault for letting loudest pone get so close to your ears.
  174. "I'm not even going to ask, Punji Pop. But I hope you explain things one of these days."
  175. >She blinks twice before pulling her head back, out of your field of view.
  176. >"Maybe..."
  177. >That was never a tone you expected to come out of her mouth. Quiet. Remorseful.
  178. >You begin walking again, with a bounce in your step, jostling the little pink pone with every movement. Pinkie doesn't make a noise - doesn't move.
  179. "I could totally see you playing a Freeboota."
  180. >She laughs quietly at that; you can feel her body convulse with silent laughter.
  181. >"Waaaaaugh," she softly yells.
  182. "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUGH!"
  183. >"WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!"
  184. >The other ponies on the street jump in surprise at the sudden outburst from you two, a few bolting for the safety of sidestreets. Most go about their business after their initial reaction. Nothing to see here, just Anon and Pinkie Pie being weird again.
  185. >A few of the younger ones look around hopefully, trying to spot streamers or other signs of a party.
  186. >"Sorry, just practicing," Pinkie sheepishly apologizes to the closest.
  187. >You grab her legs, hiking her back up as she starts to slip.
  188. "Practicing for what?"
  189. >"You know for what," she answers, grinding one hoof on the top of your head. "For Aryanne, of course."
  190. "Oh?"
  191. >"Do you really think I don't know you have planned?" Pinkie begins to laugh, softly at first but growing in volume and threat quickly, ending in something you can only associate with Bad Horse's terrible death whinny.
  192. >You join in, your bellowing laughter blending with her higher-pitched giggling.
  193. >"We'd make good super-villains," Pinkie tells you once you've both exhausted your evil-reserves.
  194. "Nah, Ponk. We'd make GREAT super-villains. I just need to find a white cat to pet..."
  195. >You almost drop her as she tenses up.
  196. "What's wrong?"
  197. >"Just... skip the cat, okay?"
  198. "Yeah, sure thing Ponk."
  199. >That's weird, but not a problem. The only cat you've seen in this marshmallow world is Rarity's, and you wouldn't go near it for all the booze and band-aids in the world. Because they wouldn't be enough to patch you up after touching it.
  200. >You reach up blindly, patting her on the top of her head. Eventually. You kinda bop her nose and cheek a few times until you find the right spot.
  201. "Onward to Lyra's?"
  202. >"Onward, ho!"
  203. "Did you just call me a ho?"
  204. >Pinkie Pie giggles again.
  205. >"Well, you *do* basically have a sugar mama..."
  206. "Well I NEVER!"
  207. >You reach up, grabbing the pink pone and lifting her above your head as she laughs wildly. You fling her around, tucking her under your arm.
  208. >It's not as hard as it sounds - despite being the size of a large dog, she only weights slightly more than the bag of books on your other side.
  209. "Come along, Ponk. We have a quest to complete!"
  210. >"Two," she corrects.
  211.  
  212. >Lyra greets you with a smile as she pulls open the door.
  213. >"Heya, Anon! Hi Pinkie Pie. Come on in!" She gestures for you to enter, limping back to her sofa.
  214. >You don't move, staying outside
  215. "Leg still giving you some trouble?"
  216. >"A bit." She frowns at your hesitance. "Bon Bon's not here, if that's what you're worried about."
  217. >With one last look around you enter, Pinkie still tucked under your arm.
  218. "What's that pony's problem?"
  219. >Lyra shrugs.
  220. >"I've got no clue. She's a little clingy normally, but only gets that way around you."
  221. >"You don't seem happy about that," Pinkie comments, wriggling free of your grasp and sitting beside Lyra. "Why do you stick around with her?"
  222. >"Because a mediocre musician like me can't exactly make rent on her own in Ponyville," Lyra frowns. "She's a good roommate - never bringing coltfriends in and making a ruckus. Does her dishes. Does mine." She smirks slightly, looking around the clean and well decorated living room. "She'll make some lucky stallion a good wife someday."
  223. "You're still good for tonight?"
  224. >Lyra nods eagerly.
  225. >You pull the third book from your bag, putting it on the cocktail table.
  226. "We're going with a new system tonight. I think you might like it."
  227. >The mint pony examines the cover for a second, then flips it open, looking through random pages.
  228. >"Doesn't look too wacky. Uses d100s, roll under your stat, a classes/advanced classes." She leans back in the sofa, forehooves behind her head. "Yeah, I've played some stuff like this before. What kind of character can I do?"
  229. "Rank four, everything is open to your choice, with the exception of the Daemon Hunters Handbook."
  230. >She nods smuggly, confident in herself. You are, too. Lyra is kind of a pro at this - the kind of underachieving loser that spends too much time on distractions. Too much free time to kill.
  231. >A kindred soul in Equestria.
  232. >"Any idea what the rest of the group is running?" Lyra asks, reaching for the book again and opening it to the Specialties section.
  233. "Twilight is running a Librarian - don't know how it's built."
  234. >"Oh," Lyra looks up at you from the book, slightly concerned. "Twilight Sparkle will be joining us?"
  235. "And Fluttershy, too."
  236. >"Hrmph." She crosses her forelegs, looking back to the book. "I guess more players is never bad. Give us a better chance at winning. So what's Fluttershy playing?"
  237. "A healer, of course. Wolf Priest. No idea about anyone else."
  238. >"Cool, cool..." Lyra doesn't look up from the book as she waves you away. "Bon Bon could be back soon, so you might want to make your escape. I'll have my character ready by tonight."
  239. >Damn, she's ready to get down to business just seconds after getting the book - must be in another one of her slumps.
  240. "Sure thing. See you tonight."
  241. >She grunts farewell as you reach over and nab Pinkie Pie's DS from her hooves. Sure, it kept her quiet and occupied, but where the hell did it come from? She's not even wearing saddlebags! How was she even playing it without fingers...?
  242. "Time to go, Pinkie."
  243. >"Sure thing!" she chirps as she bounces off the sofa, following you out the door. "Time for VENGEANCE?"
  244. "Indeed, Pinkie. Indeed."
  245. >"Any idea where to start looking?" Pinkie Pie asks as she jumps up onto your back, forelegs looping around your shoulders.
  246. "Not a clue. I was planning to wander Ponyville until I found her. Honestly, I've never even met Aryanne, so I'll just be listening out for a hate-spewing white mare."
  247. >"Hrmmmm..." Pinkie Pie pulls her head up onto your left shoulder, peaking over it. "Let's go... that way, to the lake!" She points off in the wrong direction with one hoof.
  248. "The lake's that way."
  249. >You point off in a radically different direction.
  250. >"Anon! You are drunk!" she giggles in your ear. "And when you are drunk, you forget that I am in charge!"
  251. >The two of you turn your heads slightly, looking at each other almost literally eye to eye.
  252. "So, which way do we go?"
  253. >In unison, the two of you point straight ahead - a direction neither one of you had indicated before.
  254. "THAT WAY!"
  255. >"THAT WAY!"
  256. >As you walk, Pinkie occassionally taps a shoulder, steering you like you would a horse. You trust her instincts - Pinkie Sense is never wrong. She guides you through the streets, a left here, a right there. After minutes of walking she brings both forehooves down on your shoulders, bringing you to a stop in front of a food cart. The blue mare running it looks at you curiously, waiting for you to order or move on.
  257. >"We're here!" Pinkie announces cheerfully.
  258. "Aryanne's here?"
  259. >"What? Aryanne? No!" she giggles again. Always with the laughter, this one. "Pretzels!"
  260. >"Mmm. Pretzels. Always did love a good pretzel."
  261. >You jump in surprise, almost dropping Pinkie Pie from your back as that brown stallion from yesterday appears at your elbow. He throws a bit to the vendor, snatching a salted twist from the rack. You follow suit with exaggerated casualness, handing the mare two coins and taking a pair of pretzels. You throw the first into the air, trusting to Pinkie to catch it. The second you nibble on. Pinkie taps your right shoulder gently, and you turn that way.
  262. >Like you expected, the stallion follows you.
  263. "I was wondering when you would show up again."
  264. >"Ooooh, you know him?" Pinkie asks, peering down at her new friend.
  265. "We've met once."
  266. >"Twice," he corrects firmly. "Twice right? What day is this?" He looks to his foreleg as if searching for a watch, giving up almost immediately with a shocked look. "Right, forgot that. Well, maybe once. So hard to keep track of these things."
  267. >"Ooooooooooh," Pinkie lets go of your shoulders, holding herself up purely by her hindlegs wrapped around your midsection. She pokes the stallion on the nose with a hoof. "I think I *like* this one. He's funny."
  268. >He backs off, wrinkling his muzzle.
  269. >"Well, certainly glad to have your approval," he tells her with a snort.
  270. "Why are you here?"
  271. >"Right now, I was just curious about how you plan to solve this Aryanne problem."
  272. >You finish off the last of your pretzel before answering.
  273. "Problem?"
  274. >You stop walking, slowly turning to face the stallion.
  275. "Problem!?"
  276. >Pinkie Pie jumps into your waiting arms, like she knows exactly what you are doing.
  277. "THERE IS NO PROBLEM I CANNOT SOLVE WITH THIS!"
  278. >You shove Pinkie Pie in the stallion's face, her body shaking and growling like a chainsaw.
  279. >"Hi!" she waves to him energetically.
  280. >He doubles over laughing. Either he just finds Pinkie's antics amusing, or maybe he's one of the four people in the entire multiverse that would get that joke.
  281. >"Happy to see you picked the non-violent route," he eventually gasps out. "You humans never fail to surprise me."
  282. >"Non-violent!?" Pinkie shouts in faux-anger. "Mad Chainsaw Johnson isn't NON-VIOLENT!"
  283. "Hey!"
  284. >You lift your psychotic friend up, looking her in the face.
  285. "He's right, you know."
  286. >"Yeah, I know, but that's ass not funny." She giggles. Again. "Wait -" she stops laughing, looking at you seriously. "Did he say 'humans'?"
  287. >Shit, he did.
  288. >Frantically, you look around, trying to find the brown stallion, but he has already disappeared. Like yesterday, without warning or sound.
  289. >"Do you think there are more of you here, Nonny...?" Pinkie Pie asks you quietly, her nose trembling.
  290. "That... that is..."
  291. >You look into her eyes, at the concern in them.
  292. "That is a problem for later, Pinkie Pie."
  293. >A smile splits her face, extending wider than her skull should allow. You set her down, ruffling her mane.
  294. "Let's go non-violently solve Aryanne."
  295. >"Okie-dokie-lokie!" she nods in agreement. "That way!"
  296. >She points to your left.
  297. "Are you sure this time?"
  298. >"Yeppers!" she keeps nodding, growing more energetic with each bob. You wish you had some metal music playing - this pony is almost headbanging. "Can't you hear Trixie?"
  299. "Trixie?"
  300. >"Yeah! Come on 'Nonny!" She bolts off without waiting for you. "It's time for the hero to save the princess!"
  301. >You quickly follow as the first of Trixie's words reach your ears.
  302. >"The GREATLY ANNOYED Trixie would appreciate you leaving her alone!"
  303. >You burst into an open intersection, Trixie and her wagon to your left, Aryanne on her soapbox to your right.
  304. >"You shut your fucking mouth, unicorn whore!" the white mare shouts at your friend. "Race traitor! I know you spend time with -" she looks over in your direction, seeing you for the first time "- with HIM!" She thrusts a hoof at you accusingly.
  305. >At your side, Pinkie Pie begins growling and barking, jumping with every vocalization.
  306. "Huh, not as ugly as I expected. She's even almost cute."
  307. >For a pony, you add silently in your head.
  308. >"Never trust cute white things, Anon," Pinkie snarls, lunging forward. "Never."
  309. >You nod in agreement.
  310. "I was expecting someone a little more... eloquent."
  311. >No way the Cutie Mark Crusaders could have been duped by *this* pony. No way...
  312. "How do you want to do this, Ponk?"
  313. >"Let us educate the archenemy of harmony," she barks, taking a step forward.
  314. "What lesson shall we teach?"
  315. >"The Emperor protects."
  316. "Whoa, hold on Pinkie. We're going to do this nonviolently, remember?"
  317. >"Fine," she sighs, walking forward slowly. "We'll teach her love and tolerance."
  318. >You keep pace with your friend, advancing on Aryanne in unison.
  319. "Sounds good."
  320. >"Love and tolerance?" Aryanne laughs at your companion. "That's rich, coming from you. We have legends of your kind, you know." She sneers at you, her soapbox putting her head almost level with your chest. "We are a peaceful people, our stories are *peaceful*."
  321. >She looks out the the ponies drawn by the confrontation - here is the master orator you expected to find.
  322. >"But not our stories of *you*. The Gryphons, the Minotaurs - those violent beasts found ways to coexist with our harmonious realm. But not *you*. Not humans. Your kind are *monsters*."
  323. "You're right."
  324. >The crowd gasps at your confession.
  325. "We ruined our only world, raping it into submission and making it unlivable."
  326. >Ponies begin to edge away from you, looking at you in fear, worrying that today the day you finally snap and show your true nature.
  327. "We murdered our god and nailed his corpse to a stick."
  328. >Even Pinkie Pie is looking at you with concern now, silently asking just where are you going with this...?
  329. "Of course, I say 'our god' when most of us can't agree on how to govern a city, let alone on which religion is correct."
  330. >You pause for emphasis.
  331. "And so we regularly murder each other trying to prove who is right."
  332. >You look around, trying to meet the eye of each and every pony.
  333. "And yet, here I am, saying that *you* need to learn tolerance."
  334. >She opens her mouth to argue, but you continue before she can speak, your voice booming over the crowd.
  335. "Me! A monster! One of your boogymen, disapproves of your action."
  336. >You reach the mare, bending over to bring your head level with hers.
  337. "Do you even have any friends, Aryanne? Do you?"
  338. >Pinkie bounces up at your side.
  339. "Because I do. The worst monster you can imagine has more friends than you."
  340. >You turn to Pinkie Pie.
  341. "Isn't that the saddest thing you've ever heard?"
  342. >Tears drip from the pink pony's eyes.
  343. "I think you need to throw her a party."
  344. >Pinkie Pie nods as she continues to bounce.
  345. >"I'll throw her a party EVERY DAY until she has friends!"
  346. >At the apex of her next bounce, Pinkie changes directions mid-air, tackling the white mare off of her platform.
  347. >"Don't worry! You'll make friends in no time!"
  348. "Do you pinkie promise?"
  349. >"I DO! Cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye!"
  350. >"What the hell are you talking about!" Aryanne protests, flailing at the pink pony. "I have plenty of friends! YOU'VE MET THEM!"
  351. >"Really?" Pinkie Pie asks, looking at her new friend doubtfully. "When?"
  352. >"At the Earth Pony Supremacist meetings!"
  353. "Really, Ponk? Really?"
  354. >She looks up at you innocently.
  355. >"I can't skip a party, even if it's one I don't want to be at." Her guiltless face turns sheepish. "Besides, they have a buffet table and those little smoky wieners sure are good..."
  356. >She rounds on Aryanne, waving a hoof angrily in the air.
  357. >"But anyway, they aren't your real friends!"
  358. >"Of course they are!" the mare tries to pry herself free of Pinkie's grasp. Unsuccessfully, of course.
  359. >No one gets away from Pinkie. No one.
  360. >Which is why she's perfect for this.
  361. "Thanks for helping her out, Pinkie.
  362. >"My pleasure!" She waves you off, giving you an exaggerated wink. "Go play with your friend."
  363. >Right, Trixie.
  364. >Trixie's wagon is still hemmed in by milling ponies. She's looking agitated, fidgeting and harrumphing as the crowd clears too slowly for her.
  365. >You shove your way over to her, pulling the fourth book from your bad.
  366. "Heya, Trix."
  367. >"Hello Anonymous. I -" she looks around, relieved to see no one is paying attention to her. "I am glad you arrived when you did."
  368. "And I'm glad you came into town early."
  369. >You hold out the book to her, low enough for her to read the title.
  370. >"A new system?" she asks, floating the book out of your hands and into her wagon. "I should have a chance to look at it before tonight. Anything I should know?"
  371. "If you want to get started on your character, we're going with Rank 4, 40 Renown and no Grey Knights. Everything else is your choice, including armor."
  372. >"Everything?" she asks meaningfully.
  373. "Everything else is fair game, so long as you follow the character creation and advancement rules. So no giving yourself skills that you couldn't normally take."
  374. >"What of the rest of the party?"
  375. "Not a clue."
  376. >Don't want to scare Trixie off, after all.
  377. >She nods in understanding, and you have total faith in her ability to come up with a good character without further help. It's going to be interesting seeing what the Min/Max Mistress rolls up.
  378. >She opens her mouth to say something more, when a reporter barges in between the two of you.
  379. >"Any chance I could get some words about what just happened?" he asks, waving around a pencil. "For the paper, of course!"
  380. >She looks at you hesitantly, then back to him, her eyes growing cold and aloof.
  381. >"The GREAT and POWERFUL Trixie was accosted by vermin," she booms at him. "There is no story here, save that your quaint hamlet has a pest infestation!"
  382. >She marches forward, shoving him out of the way as she pulls her wagon along.
  383. >You feel like chasing after her and saying more, but she would not appreciate it now. The GREAT and POWERFUL Trixie does not speak with lesser creatures.
  384. >In public.
  385. >When others might be listening.
  386. >No wonder Trixie is such a good roleplayer. She's been doing it all her life.
  387. ely comes as a surprise when the brown stallion appears out of the crowd, beaming a smile your way.
  388. >"Brilliant!" He stomps his hooves in applause. "Absolutely brilliant!"
  389. "If we keep bumping into each other, you should probably tell me your name."
  390. >"Oh, that's not important," he says with a shrug. "Besides, would you tell me yours?"
  391. "Anonymous."
  392. >He smirks at that.
  393. >"Sure thing, *Anonymous," he laughs, turning his head to his right like there should be someone there to share the moment with. His laugh turns to sigh and he swings his head back to face you. "Where are you headed next?"
  394. >You consider the weight on your shoulder - only one more book to deliver - Berry Punch's. No, you'll see her tonight.
  395. "Home."
  396. >"Not quite yet, I'm afraid."
  397. >The stallion disappears into the crowd before you can ask him what he means. He blends in surprisingly well - you would think a drab pony like that would stand out in the ocean of pastel before you.
  398. >With a sigh, you turn back to Twilight's castle. To hell with that brown pony, you're going *home*.
  399. >There's too much weirdness out here right now, even for Ponyville. Pinkie Pie attends Earth Pony Supremacist meetings? Even if it's just for the wieners and to liven up the party, that's weird. Of course, people have been coming to your birthday parties for years, so it shouldn't be surprising that people will go where a party is, even if they hate the reason.
  400. >And what's up with Pinkie's hatred of cute white things?
  401. >To hell with all this right now. You're going *home*. Need to get a mission planned out for tonight.
  402.  
  403.  
  404. >Ponies are still skittish enough around you from your demonstration that you don't have to shove your way out of the crowd. Most quickly move out of your way - no sense in provoking the beast any further.
  405. >As always, Twilight's castle stands out above the buildings near you - it's easy enough to find your way back, even after all of Pinkie's twists and turns.
  406. >The brown stallion is *wrong*. You make your way back without incident. No delays, no wacky hijinks.
  407. >That same guard is still standing outside. Damn, Cadance is still here. That's not really such a bad thing, just... you've had enough for right now. Some peace and quiet is what you need.
  408. >The guard salutes you as you approach, as if you're his superior. Maybe you are. Twilight doesn't have a captain of the guards. She doesn't have *any* guards. The closest she has is... you.
  409. >You return the salute - seriously this time - though your pace does not slow and you breeze past him, pulling the door open and stepping inside smoothly. Your sudden entry startles some of Cadance's assorted rabble, but for the most part you pass unmolested through the castle, making your way to your - and Twilight's - sanctuary.
  410. >The library.
  411. >You should be able to decompress there without interruption. You pause, one hand on the door, and listen for a minute. No noise - Twilight and Cadance haven't retired to the library for their talks. It was unlikely that Twilight would taint her place of peace with "princess stuff," but the thought had occurred to you.
  412. >The door opens quietly with a gentle shove and you slip inside. Doesn't look like anyone is here. With a sigh of relief, you throw your bag over the high back of Twilight's chair, eliciting a shout of shock and pain.
  413. >Chairs... chairs don't normally do that.
  414. >A pink head pops over the top of the chair, crown askew.
  415. >"Anon!? What the hell?"
  416. "Oh shit! Sorry Cadance, I had no idea you where there!"
  417. >"And that's a reason to throw things at me?" she asks crankily, straightening her crown. "I'm beginning to worry you just enjoy beating up princesses."
  418. "Luna is next."
  419. >"I - what!?"
  420. >Your straight face and flat tone almost has her convinced. Almost. She laughs as she flings your bag back at you, striking you in the chest.
  421. >"Not really, right?" she asks as you pick your bag up and circle around to your chair.
  422. "Of course not, Woona if adorkable."
  423. >You gently put your bag on the sidetable between the two of you and seat yourself.
  424. "Sorry..."
  425. >"It's alright," Cadance groans as she stretches out her wings. "It barely clipped me. Anyway," she ducks her head in embarrassment, "I should not have let myself fall asleep. That was just asking for an unpleasant wake-up call sooner or later."
  426. "Sleeping in the library? Get bored of the talks?
  427. >"No..." Cadance shakes her head slowly. "Just tired." She closes her eyes and sighs. "Just so very tired."
  428. "Want to go back to sleep? I'll be quiet."
  429. >"No," she says again, trying to shake away the weariness. "I wished to speak with you anyway."
  430.  
  431. "Oh, did you want to join us?"
  432. >"I really hope you do not mean what I think you mean..." she pulls back from you slightly.
  433. "Didn't Twilight talk to you about our games?"
  434. >"OH!" she exhales in relief. "Yes, she did. I've never partook, but Shining Armor used to play games like that." Her lips tighten in an amused grimace. "He's always telling me stories about it."
  435. "But that's not what you wanted to talk about, is it?"
  436. >"No."
  437. "It's about Twilight, isn't it?"
  438. >Cadence nods.
  439. >"Though, your games aren't too far removed." She flips open the flap of your bag, pulling out one of the Deathwatch books and examining it. "Haven't you wondered why Twilight Sparkle is so close to her older brother?"
  440. "Well, yes. But I just assumed pony families are like that."
  441. >She laughs slightly, opening the book and reading a few lines.
  442. >"Brothers and sisters squabble, no matter what species or race. But not them." She looks up to you, her face split in a sad smile. "He was the closest thing she had to a friend."
  443. "What about you? She talks about you all the time as her closest friend."
  444. >"I wasn't around all the time. I was the one she played with, but he..." she drifts off, looking down to the book again. "He was the one who was there for her when she needed it. How do you think she got into this..." she holds the Deathwatch book up, the confusion written clearly across her face. "... this *stuff*?"
  445. "I hope you aren't claiming that roleplaying games are escapism."
  446. >You had enough of that bullshit in one world, you don't need it in a second.
  447. >She waves away your concern.
  448. >"No, I'm not saying that," she looks directly at you, almost pleadingly. "But someponies *try* to escape. And I'm worried about my little Twilly."
  449. "She has friends now."
  450. >Your tone must have been harsher than intended - Cadence's head drops.
  451. >"Because of Nightmare Moon," she whispers. "But has she gained any more since that night?"
  452. >Cadence stares at you, honestly hoping you can answer her. But you can't.
  453. >Not without admitting that's she's right. Her circle of friends hasn't changed. Sure, there's also the Cutie Mark Crusaders, but are they really friends? No, more like students than anything else. Has there been anyone else? Anyone at all...?
  454. "Me."
  455. >Cadence almost jumps out of her chair when you speak.
  456. "She has me."
  457. >The princess reaches out a hoof, laying it on your hand, patting it gently.
  458. >"But you do know what I mean?"
  459. "Yes."
  460. >Your conversation is interrupted by a knock at the door. Cadence's eyes dart to it before returning to you.
  461. >"They've found me. Time's up," she sighs, climbing off the chair and moving away. "Just remember, Twilight will do anything to keep you. Please don't let her go too far."
  462.  
  463. "I promised her I would fix everything, Cadence. And I mean it."
  464. >She nods in acceptance, keeping a fragile smile on her face.
  465. >"Thank you, Anon."
  466. >You watch her leave, worried about what she said. But you have other worries.
  467. >Game time is only a few hours away and you haven't even started planning out a mission. Your iPad can't come to the rescue this time - Twilight has hidden it again. Even if you did manage to find it, odds are the power would be drained.
  468. >You think back to your glory days. When you commanded entire squads of Space Marines.
  469. >(When you actually GMed this game frequently.)
  470. >There was one mission that never got finished - the players had scheduling conflicts and the group fell apart.
  471. >It would be nice to see it end.
  472. >Too bad all of your notes are in another world/reality/dying-god's-imagination.
  473. >You head over to Twilight's writing desk and grab some paper. Time to map this shit out.
  474. >Ten minutes in, you are *really* missing /tg/'s Dark Heresy character generator. You're having to roll up your own NPCs like a fucking pleb.
  475. >Next time you get whisked off to another universe, you're bringing your laptop.
  476. >Wait. Shit. Would a mending spell create an internet connection...? Too bad you don't have any unicorns around to help you out with that.
  477. >Boss fight or no boss fight? That always is an important question. It's always anticlimactic without a boss fight, but...
  478. >EVERY
  479. >SINGLE
  480. >TIME
  481. >the party always manages to find a way to kill it without a fight.
  482. >Seriously, what kind of Space Marine asks his rescue ship to effortlessly frag the boss instead of stabbing it with his sword?
  483. >Okay, this time, no access to gunships.
  484. >Or Imperial Guard reinforcements.
  485. >Calling in an entire regiment of Imperial Guard troopers to fight the entire mission for you. Such *bullshit*.
  486. >You were so proud of your players. So very proud.
  487. >Oh.
  488. >FUCK.
  489. >You forgot to tell Trixie no Assets.
  490. >You wouldn't bet your dick on it, but neither will you be surprised if she rolls up with Signature Wargear: 1d5+1 Battle Tanks.
  491. >Wait, can she do that?
  492. >You frantically start flipping between two sections, and PRAISE THE EMPEROR, she cannot.
  493. >Still... the thought of a Space Marine filling out all those troop movement forms in triplicate... well.. you might let her get away with it.
  494. >Damn, Trixie is such an annoying player, like a blue female pony version of you.
  495. >In the end, you fall back to the old DM standby - the best way to not let your players derail the game is to not plan ahead. You've got some NPCs, enemies, and a map. What more could you possibly need?
  496. >Just let the characters go where they want tog o and make the rest up as you go along.
  497. >Hell, you don't even need this much - you shred the map, tossing the pieces in the wastebin.
  498. >Instead, you head down the the game room - thankfully free of Cadence's attendants - and grab some of Twilight's DMing supplies. Who needs a map when you have map tiles? Just shuffle 'em up and draw randomly to generate a map for the players. Into your bag they go.
  499. >Cheerilee runs her games sans-minis, so you grab some various tokens and markers. It'll be better than using bottlecaps.
  500. >You peer into your bag, trying to think if you're missing anything.
  501. >Meh, Twilight will go over a checklist with you before you leave. You look over to the clock - how much time do you have left...?
  502. >Four hours.
  503. >The game will probably run until daybreak - no way will any of the ponies let you cut the game before it's finished. Even if they really should. Time for a nap.
  504. >Your stomach rumbles.
  505. >No, time for food.
  506. >You delve into the refrigerator, grabbing a random box of leftovers and throwing it in your mouth. Mmmm, Chinese. Well... whatever the Equestrian version of Chinese is. You can never remember what they call it, just that it has lots of rice and noodles.
  507. >And it's actually pretty good cold. A little slimy, but you can deal with it. To much effort to heat it.
  508. >You throw the empty box in the trash.
  509. >*Now* it's nap time.
  510. >You wake up to a soft pressure on your back.
  511. "Oh hey Twilight."
  512. >You sluggishly slur the words out, still more than half-asleep.
  513. "Talks over?"
  514. >"Mhm."
  515. >You turn carefully, trying not to accidentally catch her mane under you. She has her back to you; somehow she managed to crawl under the blanket without waking you.
  516. "Tired?"
  517. >"Nu-uh," Twilight grunts, arching her back to push it against your chest. She reaches back with her forehooves, pawing at you until she gets a grip on your left hand. Twilight pulls your arm over her shoulder, across her chest, wrapping her forelegs up around it to hold it in place.
  518. >"Just tired of being around other ponies."
  519. "Good thing I'm not a pony."
  520. >You give your marefriend a squeeze as she twists her head around to face you, nuzzling your face.
  521. >"Yep..." she murmurs with a smile, turning her head back and dipping it, your arm now firmly trapped between her forelegs and chin.
  522. >She squeaks in surprise as you squeeze her tighter, pulling her up against your chest.
  523. >"Careful!" she chides playfully, twisting slightly in your grip to fit better.
  524. "How long do we have?"
  525. >"Shut up and go back to sleep," she moans happily. "I set the alarm."
  526. >You don't sleep. You can't sleep.
  527. >You never slept easily back home - no, not home. That other world. You were up almost every hour for one reason or another. Twisting and turning all night long.
  528. >But that's not the problem now. No, you just don't want to miss a second of this. The warmth of her body, the softness of her coat, the beating of her heart, the rhythm of her breathing. How could you ever want to sleep when Twilight Sparkle is in your arms?
  529. >For the last hour or so you remain stark awake, but it is the most restful hour in your life. You look over your shoulder, anticipating the alarm - the clock shows five minutes left. It's a loud, obnoxious thing, guaranteed to wake even the heaviest of sleepers. Not exactly the nicest way to wake up.
  530. >You slide away from Twilight, just enough to roll her on her back. The movement joggles your marefriend from her sleep - her head moves up fractionally, her eyes trying to blink away the weariness. Her mouth opens - to say what, you will never know. You don't care.
  531. >Your kiss cuts off whatever she was going to say.
  532. >Surprise causes her to release your arm, just soon enough for you to pull free and slap the alarm before it can sound.
  533. >Beside you, Twilight stretches, rubbing her side against you.
  534. >"Is it time?" she asks with regret, not waiting for your answer before climbing over you to get ready.
  535. >Your outstretched arm comes back from the alarm, catching Twilight mid-escape around her torso and pulling her down to your with a squeal.
  536. >"We'll be late if we don't hurry!" she yells, weakly trying to pull free from your grasp. She's not trying very hard. Intentionally, you assume, considering her grin.
  537. "It's okay, they'll wait for us."
  538. >Twilight looks at you skeptically - a schedule is a schedule, after all.
  539. "They'll wait. Can't very well play without a GM, can they?"
  540. >"No, I guess not," she nuzzles your neck, carefully keeping her horn out of your face.
  541. >You hold her there for a few minutes longer, enjoying the weight of her body pressing down on you. She's light, comfortable. Like the weight of a heavy comforter pressing down on you in winter.
  542. "Okay..."
  543. >Your grip slackens and you pat her shoulder. Reluctantly, she crawls off of you, dragging her body across yours, maintaining contact as long as possible.
  544. >"Are you all prepared?" she asks, throwing a few items into her saddlebags.
  545. "I think so, but you might want to take a peak and see if I've forgotten anything."
  546. >"M'kay." She runs a brush through her mane, straightening it out. "Do we need to take any food or drinks?"
  547. "No, Cheerilee loves baking snacks. She'll have an entire meal's worth prepared. And Berry Punch will bring the drinks, as always."
  548. >Twilight looks at you out of the corner of her eye as you dress. Appreciating the view... or...?
  549. >"What... what kind of drinks?"
  550. "Cider. Maybe harder stuff. Depends on what she's bought recently."
  551. >"I thought you said she didn't drink?"
  552. >You pull on your shirt and Twilight looks away. Ah, so she was getting an eyeful.
  553. "That's why she unloads her purchases on us."
  554. >Shoes successfully installed.
  555. >"Are you..." she looks back to you, eyes full of concern. "Would you okay with me drinking tonight?"
  556. "You don't have to ask my permission."
  557. >"I'm not." She sidles up to you, rubbing against your leg. "I'm asking how you would feel about it."
  558. "Are you going to drink yourself senseless?"
  559. >"No!" Twilight stomps a hoof for emphasis. "You know I..."
  560. >You run your hand through her mane comfortingly.
  561. "You don't have a reason to now, is that it?"
  562. >"Mhm."
  563. "Drink as much as you want then. There's nothing wrong with getting blackout drunk from time to time, just do it for the right reasons."
  564. >You drop to one knee, putting your head level with hers.
  565. "Besides, I doubt you'll want to get too drunk considering who you will be playing with."
  566. >"Ugh," she grunts, pulling away from you slightly. "Trixie."
  567. "That's not what I meant. But that reminds me... bring a book."
  568. >She looks at you questioningly as she throws on her pack.
  569. >"Is it going to be *that* boring?" she teases you. "I always thought you would be a decent DM, but if not..."
  570. "It's not for you. Bring one you don't mind giving away."
  571. >"Then who is it for?"
  572. >You shake your head, refusing to answer. Your smile at the question piques her curiosity, enough that she doesn't push the issue. Your princess enjoys a little mystery from time to time.
  573. >"Any suggestions?" she asks, puzzling over her options.
  574. "One of your B&B books might be appropriate..."
  575. >She looks at you like you're crazy. Maybe you are, suggesting she give away a book.
  576. >"Come on, Anon," she finally says with a smile. "We have to swing by the bookshop on our way."
  577. >You should have known better - no way would Twilight give up one of her books. The two of you head down the stairs. Twilight checks your bag, nodding in approval.
  578. >"Looks like you've thought of everything," she tells you, throwing a few more things into her packs.
  579. "We're all good?"
  580. >"Yeppers!" She does a little dance in excitement. "I can't wait to try out my character!"
  581. "And I can't wait to see him."
  582. >"I do kind of regret building him ahead of time," she confesses as the two of you exit the castle. "He might not mesh well with the rest of the party."
  583. "Well, that's the beauty of the Deathwatch."
  584. >She nods in agreement.
  585. >"It sounds a lot like the Elements of Harmony. On the surface, they have nothing to do with each other."
  586. >You begin to argue... but...
  587. "You're right. Each Marine is from a different chapter, with different ways of doing things. Different strengths. Just like you and the others. No one would realistically expect you to be friends, and yet..."
  588. >"And yet Space Wolves and Dark Angels fight side by side, defending the Imperium from the alien menace. The bonds of their brotherhood overcome their differences."
  589. "In fact, your strengths *are* your differences. There's only one Element of Loyalty - you don't need two."
  590. >"It's strongest in Rainbow Dash, but not present only in her. None of us would betray our friends."
  591. "And no Space Marine is bad at anything. They excel at warfare -"
  592. >"- because they were designed to excel at everything," she finishes.
  593. "So don't worry. Every character will be important in this game. Everyone will be given there moment to shine."
  594. >Mostly because you'll be making this all up on-the-go.
  595. >You walk quickly, Twilight easily keeping in step with you. Despite your earlier words, you want to be at Cheerilee's on time.
  596. >Not that you regret those few minutes spent holding Twilight to your chest, but you *do* want to see what everyone built. Trixie's character will be glorious, you know that. And Twilight's Librarian... well... if he is just the standard battle-psyker, she wouldn't have hidden it from you.
  597. >There is one thing that worries you besides Trixie's min/maxing skills - just how many follower pets did Fluttershy take? Maybe you should have stayed with her until she finished building her Wolf Priest.
  598. >Too late to worry about that now, but you should make it in time. Assuming Twilight doesn't get distracted in the bookshop.
  599. >You feel a restraining hoof on your leg - Twilight shakes her head, motioning for you to go sit down nearby.
  600. >"I should probably go in alone."
  601. >Yeah, that sounds reasonable. You nod in agreement, sitting on a nearby bench. It's far too short for you, but at least it keeps you off the ground.
  602. >The door bangs open, startling Twilight as she reaches for the handle.
  603. >"Oh! Howdy, Twilight!"
  604. >Your princess steps back, giving Applejack room.
  605. >"Thanks for orderin' this book for me!" she calls back into the shop, holding the door open.
  606. >"So what did you pick up?" Twilight asks before entering. "Anything interesting?"
  607. >"I - um - I gotta run. In an awful big rush today."
  608. >Twilight nods, politely accepting her friend's horrible lie. You, however, are not feeling quite so merciful.
  609. "Hey, AJ! Twilight's probably going to be a while in there, want to come keep me company?"
  610. >"Not really," she grumbles, making her way over to the bench and laying down. "But I guess I can stay a little while."
  611. "Good, there was something I wanted to ask you about - Earth Pony Supremacist meetings? Those exist!?"
  612. >"Oh Celestia," she groans, facehatting. "Don't remind me of that."
  613. "How the hell is that even a thing!?"
  614. >"Well, ya gotta understand..." she peaks over the brim of her hat, still holding it in front of her face, "... those didn't start off like that."
  615. "So you know of them?"
  616. >"Look, they weren't called that originally," she drifts off, looking into the crown of her hat like it's holding the notes for a speech. "They were Earth Pony *Pride* meetings."
  617. "And that's better?"
  618. >"Well yeah!" she answers forcefully, slamming her hat back on top of her head. "Some of the young'uns were feelin' mighty bad about not having wings or magic or any of that. Pinkie was just trying to show 'em that there's nothing wrong with bein' an' Earth Pony!"
  619.  
  620. "Well... that does make more sense than pony racism."
  621. >"Naw, we got that too," AJ groans. "Damn Neo-Neighzis. Rolled in and took over the meetin's."
  622. "Can't you just... use the Elements on them or something?"
  623. >From her expression, that's apparently the dumbest thing she has ever heard.
  624. >"Anon, that's the dumbest thing ah've ever heard," she says, confirming your suspicion. Shit. "Just 'cuz they're annoyin' doesn't mean we can just brainwash 'em or send 'em to the moon!"
  625. >Well, yeah. Of course. You'd hate living on the moon.
  626. >"Do you have any other stupid questions to ask?"
  627. "Yeah, what did you buy in there?"
  628. >AJ gives you a sly look and reaches back into her saddlebag. She pulls out a book with her mouth - the Cleric's Compendium.
  629. "Giving up on Dredd?"
  630. >She slips the book back into her bag with a little difficulty - something else keeps getting in the way. Finally, she nudges aside the other item, getting it in fully.
  631. >"Naw! But it did get awful dangerous runnin' around on my own. Wouldn't hurt to take a level in cleric so I can heal myself a bit. At least give me some more tools in my tool kit, so to speak."
  632. "Not exactly an optimal choice... but, respectable. You're basically playing an unarmored extra-stabby paladin anyway. Might as well get some cleric powers to finish it off."
  633. >"That's what I figured!" she laughs, slapping you on the back. "I knew you'd understand. Just don't tell Twilight, okay?"
  634. "Sure thing. But can I tell her about the other book?"
  635. >Before AJ can react, you reach into her bag and pull out one of those small trashy paperbacks. She raises a forehoof threateningly as you flip the book around to read the cover.
  636. >The Mare's Last Embrace?
  637. >Some crappy romance novel?
  638. >She freezes mid-slap, knowing it's too late for violence to hide her shame.
  639. >Slowly, carefully, you slide the book back into her bag, regretting every single choice you have made that led up to this moment.
  640.  
  641. "I'm going to pretend I didn't see that."
  642. >"No pretendin', Anon. You didn't."
  643. "Deal."
  644. >You stare at the door to the bookshop, unable to look your friend in the face.
  645. >Some things man was not meant to know.
  646. >"Ahm... uh... Ahm gonna go now if that's okay with you..."
  647. "Eeyup."
  648. >"Alrighty then. See ya in three weeks."
  649. "Eeyup."
  650.  
  651. >You're still staring at the door when Twilight emerges, saddlebags noticeably larger. Yeah, princess, that's more than one book you bought in there.
  652. >"What's that look for!?" she asks, mistaking your expression. "This is your fault!"
  653. "Huh?"
  654. >"You didn't tell me what the book is for, so I had to buy one for each possibility I could think of!"
  655. "Cool."
  656. >She finally notices the deadness of your voice and approaches, looking concerned.
  657. >"Did something happen? What's wrong?"
  658. "Let's just get to Cheerilee's. I need to cleanse my soul and mind."
  659. >Twilight Sparkle pokes you gently with a hoof.
  660. >"You can't just say stuff like that and expect me to leave it alone." She looks around, trying to spy the source of your problems. "Where did Applejack go?"
  661. "I don't want to think about that!"
  662. >"O-okaaaaay." Twilight cocks her head, staring at you with one eye. "Nevermind, I don't think I want to know."
  663. >She gestures for you to join her with a jerk of her head.
  664. >"We're going to be late if we don't hurry, so stop fantasizing or whatever about Applejack and get your -"
  665. >Her mouth snaps shut in a sardonic grin as you leap to your feet and breeze past her.
  666. "Well, hurry up!"
  667.  
  668. >Twilight hesitates at Cheerilee's door, stepping back after a second. Understandable - they're your friends, not hers. You can hear loud voices on the other side - you may not be late, but you certainly weren't the first to arrive.
  669. >You knock three times.
  670. >"That's only half of the password!" a young voice yells out from the other side.
  671. >You knock twice more and the door pulls open.
  672. "Heya Pinchie."
  673. >"Hi, Mr. Anon," Berry Pinch beams up at you, tail swaying slightly back and forth. "Tribute?"
  674. >You give Twilight a gentle nudge, but all she brings forth is embarrassed glances and awkward shuffling.
  675. "The book."
  676. >Your hissed words snap Twilight out of her confusion and she delves into her pack with her head.
  677. >"Nope. Nope. Nope. Ye-nope. Nope." Her head comes out and she begins searching the other bag. "Oh hell no! Nope. YES!"
  678. >She pulls out a book with her mouth, presenting it to an eager Berry Pinch. It's a small book. Thin.
  679. >The filly looks at the book, examining it. Her green eyes dance over the cover. She wants to reject it, you can tell. Too thin. She thinks your marefriend is insulting her. But you recognize that name.
  680. >J.R.R. Coltkin.
  681. "Are you *sure* that book is appropriate for her?"
  682. >Berry Pinch's mouth tightens in a thin line.
  683.  
  684. "I think that might be too advanced..."
  685. >The filly lunges forward, tears the book from Twilight's mouth, and runs back inside before either of you can act.
  686. "Well..."
  687. >You wave for Twilight to follow the bouncing filly.
  688. "Shall we?"
  689. >Twilight tentatively steps forward, looking to you out of the corner of her eye.
  690. >"I don't think I've seen anypony so happy to get a book..."
  691. "Since the last time you looked in a mirror, you mean?"
  692. >"Oh, shut up," Twilight mumbles as she tries to hide her faint blush. "I was never that bad."
  693. "Please, you're *still* that bad."
  694. >She flicks you with her tail playfully as she walks in. She knows you're right, but will never admit it. Dancing the happy dance for a new book isn't proper princess behavior, after all. Twilight waits for you to enter before moving further in - the sounds of laughter are only one room away, but she makes no move to join the rest of the group without you.
  695. >You look around, examining the room. In the far corner is Pinchie's customary nest - a small pillow fort built from sofa cushions and throws. She spends every game night reading and sleeping in there until her mother carries her home.
  696. >"Mommy!"
  697. >The words drown out the group's jumbled banter - or your friends are giving the little filly their attention.
  698. >"Look what the princess brought me!"
  699. "Sounds like she's happy with your present."
  700. >You pat her head reassuringly, tilting her head back just enough to see her satisfied smile. Twilight walks forward, pulling away from your hand. She stops as she feels your hand leave her head, pausing for you to join her.
  701. >"Come on, Anon. Introduce me to your friends."
  702. >Together, the two of you step into the chaos of Cheerilee's dining room. Four ponies sit around the long slab of a table. It looks sturdy. Heavy. Imperial. You could not imagine a better table for playing Deathwatch on.
  703. >Lyra, the closest, greets Twilight with an apprehensive nod.
  704. >"I heard you'd be joining us tonight, princess..." the unicorn fidgets, searching for the right words. "Rolled up a librarian, right?"
  705. >You sigh inwardly. Lyra had a million things she could say, and of course she fell back to gaming. For someone who loves to be seen out and about so much, she sure is socially stunted.
  706. >"Yep," Twilight nods, laying down next to Lyra. She digs into her bags, pulling out her copy of the rulebook and her character sheet. Your friend leans over, inspecting the character and unintentionally blocking your view.
  707. >"Interesting..." she murmurs, flipping the sheet over to take a look at the Librarian's gear.
  708. >Cheerilee scoots over from the far end of the table, sliding a plate of macaroons along the wooden surface with her. Twilight politely takes one, popping it into her mouth as your friends examine her character.
  709. "I hope you didn't mind me inviting Fluttershy and Twilight to join us."
  710. >Cheerilee waves away your apology with a smile.
  711. >"The more the merrier, right?"
  712. >Fluttershy looks up from her place at the far end of the table, when you say her name, squeaking in surprise when she realizes you and Twilight have arrived. She waves shyly to you before delving back into the rulebook.
  713. >On your left, Berry Pinch is still showing off her new acquisition to her mother, who listens closely with the infinite patience of a loving parent.
  714. >Berry Punch nods at every sentence the little filly blurts out. Stealthily, you pull the fifth rulebook from your bag, walking around behind the pony and putting it on the table beside her.
  715. "I brought a book for you, too."
  716. >Berry Punch keeps nodding along with her daughter, but she puts a forehoof on the book to let you know she heard you. Looks like she was already getting started on a character - she has some notes and ideas scribbled down in her open notebook.
  717. >You move back to the end closest the entryway, sitting down with your back to it and setting up your GM screen and other supplies.
  718.  
  719. "So, we're just waiting on Trixie?"
  720. >"And I need to make my character," Berry Punch tells you as her daughter dashes back to her fort to get started on her new book.
  721. "Any ideas?"
  722. >"I thought I should wait and see what everyone else made."
  723. "Reasonable. Cheerilee?"
  724. >"Yep, got mine!" She moves away from Twilight, grabbing her sheet and holding it up. "Not quite finished, but I have the basics down."
  725. "Lyra?"
  726. >"Of course," she smirks back at you.
  727. >"I-I had a question about mine..." Fluttershy speaks up. "Not about the build or anything. I'm just wondering, how do I actually *roleplay* one of these?"
  728. >"Yeah," Lyra agrees. "That would be good to know."
  729. >The others cease fiddling with books and sheets, waiting for your answer. It takes you a minute or so to think of the right way to respond.
  730. "Think of Trixie... over-the-top. Theatrical. Arrogant."
  731. >"Are they *all* like that?" Fluttershy asks, wrinkling her nose in distaste.
  732. "No. Acting like Rarity would also work."
  733. >"Rarity!?" Berry Punch looks down at her rulebook. You can imagine what she's thinking - just how frilly is this armor?
  734. "Yes, Rarity. Polite and formal, but proud."
  735. >"I notice one major similarity there..." Cheerilee frowns. "Arrogance and pride. Why do you say it like they are good things?"
  736. "Because to a Space Marine, they are."
  737. >You are interrupted by a knock at the door before you can explain further. A few seconds later, Trixie saunters in, a smile on her face. She pauses when she sees Twilight, just for a moment, before continuing in and sitting down beside Berry Punch.
  738. >With regret, you notice her smile is now forced.
  739. "Well, now that the party is assembled, time to introduce your characters so Berry Punch can roll up hers."
  740. >You pause, looking to Trixie.
  741. "Did you have a chance to make yours?"
  742. >Her smile turns genuine.
  743. >"Oh yes, Anonymous, I did." Her smile grows wider, baring teeth. "I most certainly did."
  744. >Alrighty... you'll come back to that.
  745. "Fluttershy?"
  746. >The pegasus stretches, passing her character sheet to Twilight, who passes it to you.
  747. >"Erik, Space Wolf Wolf Priest," she answers.
  748. "Did you bring along the entire Imperial Zoo?"
  749. >No, just the one follower," she says as you read the sheet. "Fluffles, my Thunderwolf."
  750. >Attached to her character sheet is a second, with the stats for Fluffles. And the cutest little drawing of a wolf you've ever seen.
  751. >You smile, going back to Erik's sheet.
  752. "I think you forgot to write in your priests weapons... the only thing listed here is his Crozius Arcanum. What about his other gear?"
  753. >"He doesn't carry any," Fluttershy tells you proudly. "Erik tries to avoid fighting and focuses on healing his teammates."
  754. "I don't think you understand Space Marines -"
  755. >"No, see? On his character notes it says that he's lost control of himself before."
  756. >You reread the sheet. Okay, this actually makes some sense. A Wolf Priest with the Mark of the Wulfen - you can easily imagine him trying to avoid shedding blood for fear that he won't be able to stop himself. You pass the sheets back to Fluttershy, signifying your approval.
  757. "Twilight?"
  758. >"Ihaus, Blood Raven's Librarian!" She holds out her character sheet. "Wait, why are you laughing?"
  759. "A *Blood Raven*!?"
  760. >"It's a perfectly valid choice!" She thrusts her character sheet at you again. "I think he's a rather interesting character."
  761. >Lyra nods in agreement as you take the sheet and begin looking it over.
  762. "Did you take every lore skill you could get your hands on...?"
  763. >"Mhm! I may not know the game universe well, but Ihaus does!"
  764. >You pass the sheet back to her as Lyra holds up hers.
  765. >"Same design philosophy as mine - Casull, Forge Master of the Iron Hands. Mechanical stuff seems so temperamental in this universe; I wanted to make sure my character could use anything competently and it just kind of... snowballed."
  766. >You look over her character - a pretty standard Techmarine decked out to the nines. She takes her sheet back as you look to Trixie.
  767. "Okay, you can tell me now."
  768. >"The GREAT and POWERFUL Trixus, Ultramarine Librarian!"
  769. >"We already have a Librarian," Twilight grumbles.
  770. >"And now we have a *good* one!" Trixie responds, handing you her character sheet. "I may have broken character creations rules a *tad*, but it follows the restrictions you gave me."
  771. "What did you do?"
  772. >You don't even look at her sheet yet.
  773. >"I took several Distinctions. I know they are supposed to be GM rewards, but since we are starting at Rank Four, I thought it would be acceptable."
  774. "Reasonable."
  775. >You look at her sheet for the first time.
  776. "*Several* Distinctions? Aura of Leadership! Chosen of the Chapter! Endless Favour! Enduring Name! First Among Equals! Greater Authority! Lord of the Domain! Universal Renown! Did you take every Command Mark possible?"
  777. >"No, the Moderately Restrained Trixie did no such thing!" she huffs at you. "She did not take Mighty Lineage, for Trixus has built a mighty legend for himself without need of legendary patrons or ancestors!"
  778. "Wow, and his armor... *four* histories!?"
  779. >"Yes, the Ever Resourceful Trixie took the Battle Damage deed to gain an additional history," she states proudly. "Mark Four Astartes Warplate for the +15 Fellowship and three histories: Helm of Mordicus for +5 Fellowship and +10 Command, Gauntlets of Xirion for +5 Fellowship, and Cower Not Before the Enemy for +10 Command. Battle Damage grants a Mark Five pauldron for an additional +5 Fellowship!"
  780. "I... what?"
  781. >"I think we just found our squad leader," Berry Punch comments, elbowing Trixie and giving her a look of approval.
  782. "What do you take your Command Tests on?"
  783. >"On a 205," Trixie answers. "Or a 210, if Trixus takes his helmet off and carries it."
  784. "Okaaaay."
  785. >You flip through the rulebook, looking up the effects of her Distinctions to re-familiarize yourself with them.
  786. "Some of these abilities only take effect if NPCs know who you are..."
  787. >"Chapter Trapping - Heraldry Scroll with Trixus' name written upon it. Additionally, Signature Wargear: Back Banner." Trixie cackles softly. "It depicts Trixus' great victories over the centuries. All shall know of Trixus' glory and DESPAIR!"
  788. "Oh, you clever bitch..."
  789. >"The Elegant and Tasteful Trixie does *not* appreciate your language or tone!" She leans forward grinning wildly, propping her head up with her forelegs. "But yes, yes I am."
  790. "But testing for Command on a 210? You do know that all tests are made on a d100, right? There is literally no point to boosting your Fellowship that high."
  791. >She shakes her head sadly.
  792. >"And I thought you knew this system, Anonymous. If the Glorious and Masterful Trixus is squad leader, we start with 18 Cohesion to spend on Squad Mode Abilities." She looks over the rest of the table, addressing the other players. "Would any of your characters generate even five or six Cohesion?"
  793. >"Three!" Lyra shouts, laughing. "Casull is kind of an asshole."
  794. >"Six... maybe seven," Cheerilee states. "Well, I guess it makes sense that I took the Second-in-Command background."
  795. >Fluttershy doesn't even answer, just shaking her head sadly.
  796. >Twilight looks down at her character sheet frowning - Fellowship was her dump stat.
  797. >"But... Ihaus knows everything..." she finally says."
  798. >"And so he may be the Lordly Trixus' *advisor*, Twilight Sparkle," Trixie tells her smuggly. "Berry Punch?"
  799. >The Earth Pony holds her hooves up in surrender.
  800. >"No way am I going to try to beat that. All in favor of Trixus as squad leader?"
  801. >Four hooves are thrust into the air, followed by a hesitant yellow hoof.
  802. >Even Flutterbutter.
  803. >Twilight sighs loudly and raises her hoof too.
  804. "Well, okay then..."
  805. >You hand Trixie back her character sheet, turning to Cheerilee.
  806. >"Osric, Imperial Fist Tactical Marine and Company Champion." She gives her fellow players a disapproving glare. "Good thing *somepony* decided to roll up something other than a support class. Hopefully we won't wipe in the first five minutes."
  807. >You glance over her character sheet - unlike Trixie's shenanigans, Osric is built simply and powerfully. Heavy armor, a shield, power sword...
  808. "Wrist-mounted master-crafted stormbolter with a motion predictor sight and *backpack ammo supply*?"
  809. >"Oops, meant to ask you about that," Cheerilee grimaces. "I know those are meant for heavy weapons..." she looks at you hopefully, "... but could I get a backpack ammo supply for the stormbolter by using a second Signature Wargear talent?"
  810. >Cheerilee looks over to Trixie, smiling.
  811. >"After all, it looks like I won't have to use it on commander equipment."
  812. >You think it over for a second, but overall it sounds fair.
  813. "Sure thing."
  814. >She takes her sheet back.
  815. "Berry Punch?"
  816. >She looks up from the sheet she has started to fill out.
  817. >"Dark Angel Devastator Kill-Marine. All social skills up to +20 since they're so cheap, everything else dumped into 'Kill Things with Guns."
  818. "Equipment?"
  819. >"The biggest gun I can get. Sword. Pistol. Signature Whatever: Thing-That-Helps-Me-Kill-Things."
  820. >You laugh, gesturing to Trixie.
  821. "Think you can help her get that written up?"
  822. >"Indeed," she answers, her smile returning.
  823. >As Trixie and Berry Punch work together on her character and Cheerilee finishes off hers, you fill a small plate with assorted baked goods and head into the living room, motioning for Twilight to join you.
  824. "Not being squad leader isn't going to be a problem, is it?"
  825. >"What? No!" she protests. "Of course not. But..."
  826. "But what?"
  827. >"Trixie!?" Twilight gasps. "It's like she built that character just to be the squad leader!"
  828. "She probably did. Don't you think it'll be a great squad leader?"
  829. >"The character? No. With all those Cohesion points, we can use those game-winning squad abilities almost every battle!" She sighs loudly, loud enough that she looks back into the dining room to make sure it didn't attract unwanted attention. "For only two Cohesion points, *everypony* will get a +32 to *all* rolls for an entire encounter! Even on a d100 system, that's *huge*."
  830. >She circles around, you, laying down on the cushion-less sofa.
  831. "It's Trixie controlling that character that I have a problem with," Twilight tells you.
  832. >"Why...?"
  833. >Your marefriend jumps at the voice, pulling herself over the the back of the sofa to peer at Berry Pinch. The little filly has poked her head out of her pillow fort - she smells the sweets you've brought her.
  834. >You lean down, handing her the plate.
  835. "Got enough to drink?"
  836. >"Mhm!" She smiles at you, then at Twilight. "This is a good book, princess!"
  837. >"Anon! We're ready!" Lyra calls out to you from the dining room.
  838. >Before Twilight can leave, Berry Pinch crawls out of her fort entirely to pat Twilight comfortingly on the foreleg.
  839. >"Trixie's a lot nicer than the pretends to be," the filly tells your princess. "I'm sure she'll be a *good* leader."
  840. >She gives Twilight one last smile before disappearing into her fort with the plate.
  841. "Ready to kill some aliens?"
  842. >"Sure..." your marefriend laughs, climbing off the sofa and accompanying you back into the dining room. She takes her place between Lyra and Cheerilee as you sit at the foot of the table behind your DM screen.
  843. "Characters all finished?"
  844. >Six character sheets are thrust skyward.
  845. "Dice at the ready?"
  846. >Six hooves hold d100s high.
  847. "Drinks poured?"
  848. >Six mugs of hard cider are raised in toast - Berry Punch immediately sets hers aside to take a sip of water from her other mug.
  849. >You don't know why she still pours herself a mug of cider every night - she's never sipped from it once, nor will she ever.
  850. "Alrighty, let's get this started."
  851.  
  852. "Leader of the Squad! Accept your orders! Contact has been lost with the deep-space mining outpost Solan's Reach. Elements of the Salamanders Chapter report receiving distress calls from the outpost but were unable to interviene due to current engagement with xenos forces."
  853. >"Our mission is to investigate?" Ihaus asks.
  854. >The Watch-Commander holds up one armored hand, signalling the curious marine to hold his questions.
  855. "No. The station has come under increased threat in the past years and has now been deemed a threat to Imperial security in this sub-sector. Forces cannot be spared to cleanse and resecure the outpost, nor can further elements be spent to defend it in the face of increased aggression. Your mission is to scuttle the station to deny the enemies of the Imperium resources and a foothold in our territory."
  856.  
  857. >"Wait -" Twilight puts down her pen. "We can't have it so we're going to blow it up so no one else can either?"
  858. >"Well of course," Lyra answers for you, thumping the table with a forehoof for emphasis. "Whoever took it are the *bad guys*!"
  859. >She pauses for a fraction of a second, before twisting to face you.
  860. >"They are the bad guys, right?" she asks.
  861. "Which ones?"
  862. >"The ones that aren't us." She sticks her tongue out at you.
  863. "Yes Lyra, it was the bad guys that weren't you."
  864. >"Ouch! You say that like we're bad guys too!"
  865. >You shrug.
  866. >"W-what about the ponies trapped there...?" Fluttershy asks softly. "We have to rescue them!"
  867. >"There probably aren't any," Twilight tells her with a wave of her forehoof. "There's no mention of them in the briefing."
  868. >"Yeah," Lyra agrees. "All dead."
  869. >Fluttershy's head dips down and she paws gently at the edge of the table.
  870. >"We should... we should still try, right?" Her voice is sad and soft, without hope.
  871. >"Why waste time on dead NPCs?" Lyra argues. "We're willing to blow up a mining instalation just to stop the baddies from controlling it! Who cares if a few NPCs die along the way?" She turns to Trixie, appealing to the squad leader. "Right?"
  872. >Trixie puts a forehoof to her chin in thought, pondering the issue for a minute as the rest of the players argue back and forth. Cheerilee throws her support behind Fluttershy and Berry Punch tentatively agrees, as long as it doesn't make the game last too late. Lyra remains vocally opposed, and Twilight - Twilight wants to follow the mission you gave them.
  873. >Trixie gently raps the edge of the table to get everyone's attention.
  874. >"The Wolf Priest has a point... let us see what resources we can muster before coming to a decision. Also, Anonymous, does the Watch-Commander believe there may be survivors?"
  875.  
  876. "It is possible."
  877. >The Watch-Commander scrolls through his data slate, consulting it for further information.
  878. "However, since the first calls were sent out, no further distress calls have been recieved. Either Solan's Reach has fallen to enemy forces or those who hold it have turned traitor - any attempts at closer investigation have come under heavy fire from the outpost's defense cannons."
  879. >"I assume that is why it cannot simply be destroyed by mass torpedo strike or other ship-to-ship weaponry."
  880.  
  881. >Twilight giggles, giddy as a schoolfilly, at her first successful skill check of the game. Tactics (Void Warfare).
  882.  
  883. "Correct, Brother-Librarian. Ships-of-the-Line are not available at this time and smaller vessels lack the durability to complete the task before being destroyed."
  884. >"How will we board the station, then?"
  885. "You seem to be the expert on void warfare, Brother-Librarian. I leave those details to you."
  886.  
  887. >"Aww sh-" Lyra cuts off at a harsh look from Berry Punch. "I mean - DARN, Twilight! Now you annoyed him and our transportation will have to come out of our requisition! And I was going to get myself a big flamethrower and everything!"
  888. >"No," Trixie tells her friend. "This is good. Now we can pick the optimal way in. Anonymous, do you have a map of the instalation?"
  889. >And you thought you were clever, tearing it up.
  890. "Yeah, give me a second..."
  891. >You grab your pen and sketch out a rough outline. Not individual corridors, but a general layout of where important features are - weapons batteries, shuttle docks, control rooms. Trixie examines it briefly before passing it on to Twilight.
  892. >"He's *your* coltfriend. Can you make sense of this?"
  893. >"Not... not really..." she answers, turning the map upside down.
  894. >This is almost insulting. Your sketch isn't *that* bad. Twilight holds up a d100.
  895. >"Tactics(Void Warfare)?"
  896.  
  897. >"The outpost's schematics are rudamentry at best, Brother-Librarian Trixus, but I see several obsticals to traditional insertion."
  898.  
  899. >"Stop laughing, Anon!"
  900.  
  901. >"Point defences guard the shuttle docks and loading ports to defend the outpost from pirates. If they are still operational, those entries are suicidal." Ihaus accesses a list of Deathwatch naval assets on his data-slate, scrolling through searching for available vessels. "I see several routes open to us. A Caestus Assault Ram or boarding torpedoes might be able to penetrate the flak envelope and punch through weaker parts of the station's surface. Alternatively, a stealth insertion would allow us to access maintainance hatches. Either would require transport via Nova Frigate or other vessel, exposing them to fire from the defense cannons."
  902. >"You have a third idea, Brother-Librarian Ihaus?" the Ultramarine asks, long years of serving side by side telling the squad leader that the Blood Raven always has more ideas.
  903. >"Rapid insertion via teleportation." He calls up a map of the surrounding space on the main pic-viewer. "Our vessel travels at high speed, passing through the station's firing window before its targeting systems can lock on." Ihaus traces a path with with finger, showing the vessel's direction of travel, curving around a nearby asteroid. "The vessel will take cover from the station's weapons here, holding until we call for extraction."
  904.  
  905. >Twilight pauses, turning from the other players to face you.
  906. >"Plausable, Anon?"
  907. "Very."
  908. >"Requisition cost?" Cheerilee asks, pulling out her notepad to keep track. "And how much do we start with?"
  909. "How about... 200 requisition to start. Boosted to 250 since you are providing your own transport."
  910. >"You have forgotten the Magnificiently Generious Trixus' First Among Equals?" Trixie chides.
  911. "270."
  912. >Cheerilee jots the number down on her notebook, flipping open the rulebook and writing down several more numbers. She pauses mid-stroke, looking up to the rest of her players.
  913. >"Any one have any problems with me playing quartermaster?"
  914. >She glances around the table - no one objects.
  915. >"Okay then, transport there insertion AND extraction should run us... 80. D-Darn."
  916. >You laugh quietly at Cheerilee's near-slip up.
  917. >"Oops. It'll be 90 if we need to be teleported out." Cheerilee shakes her head. "We might need a different plan."
  918. >"No," Trixie responds. "Trixus approves this expenditure."
  919.  
  920. >"With the ship remaining on standby, we will first strike to disable the defense cannons," Trixus takes up where the Blood Raven leaves off. "Then, if we discover survivors it will be able to move in to the loading ports to extract them without risk."
  921. >"Not entirely without risk," Osric objects. "We do not know the source of the trouble. Docking the ship will leave it open to boarding actions. We will have need of armsmen squads to protect the ship."
  922.  
  923. >"Luckly, that will only cost us 15 more..." Cheerilee grumbles. "One team should be enough, right?"
  924. >Berry Punch shakes her head.
  925. >"Naw, make it two," she says. "There are three key thing to remember when preparing for anything - redundancy, redundancy, and redundancy."
  926. >"But that's the same thing three times!" Lyra objects.
  927. >"Redundancy," Berry Punch responds with a smile.
  928. >Cheerilee scribbles over her last line, rewriting it to two teams.
  929. "Are you sure you want to go through with this? You've burned through over a third of your requisition and haven't even picked up any gear yet."
  930.  
  931. "Rescuing survivors is not part of your mission, brothers. The Inquisition does not ask this of you."
  932. >"Bah!" Trixus waves his arm through the air, as if to brush aside the Watch-Commander's words. "To hell with the Inquisition - the Emperor alone can judge the righteousness of our deeds!"
  933. >Osric nods in agreement.
  934. >"Would you render us defeated before we have begun?" the Imperial Fist asks. "To act without honor is to fail, and honor demands we make an attempt to rescue any survivors."
  935. >"Every life is a blessing from the Emperor," Erik agrees. "To let them be wasted needlessly is blasphemy."
  936. >Casull wanders off to the corner of the briefing room, staring into the shadows.
  937. >"Better be enough left for me to get my gear..." he grumbles.
  938.  
  939. >Trixie shrugs.
  940. >"The Generous Trixus requires no additional equipment," she says. "Divide the remainder amongst your characters - starting with Erik."
  941. >Fluttershy's eyes flare open.
  942. >"ME!?" The pegasus tries to hide behind her rulebook. "Why me!?"
  943. >"It is never a good idea to skimp on the healer," Trixie answers. "Then..." she drifts off in thought for a second "... then... Anovel."
  944. "Anovel?"
  945. >Berry Punch raises her hoof.
  946. >"My guy. Trixie helped me come up with the name."
  947. >"Erik, Anovel, Casull, Ihaus, then Osric," Trixie finishes firmly.
  948. >"Why am I so far down!?" Twilight asks snidely. "Do you hate me that much?"
  949.  
  950. >Trixus places one ornate gauntlet on Ihaus' pauldron.
  951. >"Like me, your weapon is your mind," the Ultramarine tells him. "What is the power of technology compared to that?"
  952.  
  953. >"Do you need any extra equipment to come up with plans?" Trixie sneers at your marefriend.
  954. >"No, but -"
  955. >"Most of our killing power is in Osric and Anovel, so if you want to cripple us, feel *free* to requesition yourself additonal... whatever you think you need."
  956. >"But -"
  957. >"*You* come up with the plans, *Trixus* enacts the plans, and *Osric* and *Anovel* enforce the plans," Trixie tells her firmly. "It's how our characters are spec'd."
  958. >Lyra snorts angrily.
  959. >"I didn't hear Casull or Erik mentioned. What are we supposed to do?"
  960. >"We put them back together when they fuck up," Fluttershy whispers, jumping when all eyes turn to her. "What? You heard that!?"
  961. >"YES!" Berry Punch throws her d100 at Fluttershy, bouncing it off the pegasus' forehead. "Watch your language!"
  962. >Fluttershy shrieks, falling over backwards more from suprise than the force of the impact.
  963. >Cheerilee frowns at her friend, catching and tossing the dice back to her.
  964. >"Like violence is any better."
  965. >Berry Punch grunts, looking to the entryway.
  966. >"I'll be right back," she grumbles. "Trixie?"
  967. >"Worry not, I shall take care of your gear."
  968. >The Earth Pony stands and stretches, grabbing the pitcher of water off the table before heading into the living room.
  969. >"Don't you need any other gear, Cheerilee?" Twilight asks, trying to change the subject. "Doesn't this bother you?"
  970. >The teacher laughs lightly.
  971. >"What else could I possibly need?" she asks Twilight. "I got everything I could possible use and more as either Standard Issue Wargear or Signature Wargear; Osric literally can't carry it all!"
  972. >She looks around the table.
  973. >"Anovel probably needs a fancy pistol, maybe you as well. Casull probably needs some tools -"
  974. >"- AND A POWERFIST!"
  975. >"Yes, Lyra. Some tools and a powerfist," Cheerilee corrects herself, rolling her eyes at the unicorn. "But Erik? He's a backup healer being played as a dedicated healer. He's going to need at least 50 of our remaining requistion." She shakes her head sadly. "I appreciate what she's going, but really, what is Fluttershy thinking?"
  976. >At the sound of her name, a yellow hoof feebly reaches up, pawing at the edge of the table.
  977. >"I-I'm okay." Fluttershy tries to pull herself up but her hoof slips, dropping her back on the floor with a thud. "Still okay!"
  978. >Trixie looks around in confusion as Twilight and Cheerilee continue to debate, ignoring the pegasus moaning in pain.
  979. >You kind of feel like an asshole, just watching, but you're curious how this is going to develop. You pretend to be engrossed in the rulebook, looking up something, watching out of the corner of your eye as Trixie subtly crawls over to check on Fluttershy.
  980. >"Are you okay...?" Trixie asks softly. "You can't use language like that around Berry Punch. Not when her daughter is nearby!"
  981. >"I can say whatever I want!" Fluttershy whines, her hooves waving wildly in the air and driving Trixie back. "No one ever listens to me anyway!"
  982. >Trixie inhales sharply, pulling back even further. She looks around again, noticing your sly glances and frowning.
  983. >"It is the opinion of the Helpful Trixie that you stay down," the unicorn tells Fluttershy, keeping her eyes on you. "She will return with some ice for your head."
  984. >Fluttershy slaps the floor twice with her tail.
  985. >"My hoof is fine!"
  986. >"It's for your head!" Trixie half-shouts with concern. "You hit it on the floor twice!"
  987. >Twilight Sparkle and Cheerilee's back-and-forth banter fill the silence as Fluttershy lays quietly on the floor, Lyra adding an angry interjection occasionally.
  988. >"For my head?" she asks softly.
  989. >"YES." Trixie's eyes leave you, staring down at your friend.
  990. >"Oh." Fluttershy taps the floor with a hoof several times, deep in thought. "Okay. That sounds nice."
  991. >"Cheerilee, I'm going to grab some ice from your freezer..." Trixie tries to tell the teacher, walking out of the room. She does not bother to wait for an answer, knowing it will never come - there are two things that always cancel out Cheerilee's teacher sense - gaming and being old enough to vote.
  992. >Lyra empties the last of her mug, looking around for a refill and spying nothing. With a look to the entryway, she reaches across the table to Berry Punch's full mug.
  993. "Are you sure you want to do that?"
  994. >"If I don't, it'll just go to waste," Lyra answers with an exasperated sigh. She stretches a little further the tip of her hoof scraping the handle. "Anyway, fortune favors the bold."
  995. "The bold, yes. The suicidal...?"
  996. >With another sigh, Lyra pulls her hoof back. Just in time it turns out, as Berry Punch returns with the water pitcher.
  997. >"Got the gear all settled?" she asks, putting the pitcher back on the table. "Get anything nice for me?"
  998. >"Almost," Twilight answers, to your surprise. You were so focused on Fluttershy and Trixie that you hadn't actually heard a word the others said. "And yes."
  999. >"Spiffy! What did Trixie pick out?" Berry Punch looks around, trying to find her friend. "Where did she go...?"
  1000. "To get ice."
  1001. >"For what?" The mare looks down at her mugs. "Drinks getting warm?"
  1002. >Fluttershy shifts, answering Berry Punch with a groan. She jumps, suddenly skittish.
  1003. >"What happened to our medic!?"
  1004. >The trio of shoppers see the injured pegasus for the first time and shrug unconcerned. If it's not in the rulebook, it isn't their problem right now.
  1005. >"You," Trixie answers grumplily, returning with a small bag of ice for Fluttershy's head. "She smacked her head pretty hard when she fell over."
  1006. >"I'm okay..." Fluttershy moans, sitting up with Trixie's help.
  1007. >"Here, keep this on your head..." the unicorn says, putting the bag into Fluttershy's hoof and guiding it to the growing welt. "You should be more thoughtful about how your actions impact others."
  1008. >"Are you talking to me?" Berry Punch grumbles. "Or her?"
  1009. >Trixie looks up with a frown, reassuming her mask like she always does when challenged.
  1010. >"It matters not," she answers with exaggerated casualness, finally casting off her cape to join her hat.
  1011. >Berry Punch scrunches up her face, laying down with a huff.
  1012. >"Did you at least get me some cool gear?" she asks Trixie sharply.
  1013. >"Such things are below the Masterful Delegator Trixie." She dismissively waves a hoof at Cheerilee. "Ask the quartermaster."
  1014. >Cheerilee doesn't notice Trixie's tone - no, she notices, but she takes no offense at her friend's performance.
  1015. >"Twilight and I have come up with some suggestions..."
  1016. >Your marefriend smirks at that, her smile turning to a sneer when she noticed Trixie also smiling.
  1017. >"The Wise and Intelligent Trixie chose her advisors well."
  1018. >Cheerilee pushes a list to the center of the table so everyone can read it, all six ponies leaning over the table to take a look. Even Fluttershy, still holding the bag of ice to her head.
  1019. >As expected, most of the gear is for Erik - either medical gear or medicine. Casull gains a barrage plasma gun and powerfist.
  1020. >"To take on any heavily armored targets," Cheerilee explains as Lyra nods eagerly. "Of all of our characters, the Techmarine will get the most out of that suicide gun.
  1021. >Anovel gets... a camo-cloak.
  1022. "Interesting choice..."
  1023. >"What happened to me getting the most gear?" Berry Punch complains, rescrunching her face.
  1024. >"No, no, I see where Twilight Sparkle is going with this," Trixie says, pulling Anovel's character sheet over to her to double check something. She nods, finding what she was looking for and points to the line for Berry Punch to see. "We maxed Move Silently and Concealment to use up the last of your XP, remember?"
  1025. >"So basically you're turning Anovel into a sniper?" Berry Punch asks Cheerilee. "A sniper with a heavy machine gun and sword?"
  1026. >"Yep!" Lyra answers for the teacher. "How cool is that?"
  1027. >"Besides," Twilight continues the explaination, "You're wearing the lightest armor of all of us."
  1028. >Trixie had pulled similar armor shenanigans on the Dark Angel as she did on her own character - the weaker Mark Four armor grants additional Armor Histories, allowing the a more specialized piece of equipment. In Anovel's case, greatly boosting his aim at the cost of dodging.
  1029. >"We thought that you might need to hug cover more than the rest of us."
  1030. >Berry Punch hesitantly looks to Trixie.
  1031.  
  1032. >"I can find no fault with your equipment requests, Ihaus," the Ultramarine nods in approval. "Are there any further items we need from the armory?"
  1033. >The Blood Raven shares a look with Osric who shrugs, his massive auto-reactive pauldrons exaggerating the gesture.
  1034. >"We know not what we face," the Imperial Fist says slowly. "But we do know the environment we will be fighting in - cramped corridors and small rooms. Flame weapons could clear entire hallways, but we believe our holy bolters will serve us just as well."
  1035. >"Depending on what we face, flamers could prove entirely useless."
  1036. >Trixus frowns, going over the equipment request list one more time.
  1037. >"Then what shall we use to clear large nests of enemy forces?"
  1038.  
  1039. >"Meltabombs," Lyra answers with a devious smile. The group waits patiently for her to continue, Twilight eventually rolling her eyes with a sigh.
  1040. >"They're meant for breaching thick armor plates -" she explains. "Like the hulls of starships -"
  1041. >"- or space stations," Trixie finishes. "Excellent plan."
  1042.  
  1043. >"Any sections that are completely overrun we can simply void," the Blood Raven Librarian tells his squad leader. "Much of the station has an exterior wall where we could breach the hull with a single meltabomb."
  1044. >"Would not the outposts automated life support systems seal off a voided section?" Trixus asks, knowing full well that Ihaus has taken that into account.
  1045. >"Exactly. Either the enemy is sucked into the void or suffocates, or the station itself works in our favor by sealing off the section with the enemy inside so that we can continue our mission unimpeeded." The Librarian examines the outpost's schematics again. "We can also use them as area denial, voiding sections behind us so the enemy cannot follow."
  1046. >"Or to seal off sections around survivors," Erik chimes in, his first contribution to mission prep. "If we can move them all to the loading ports, we can rupture the surrounding sections to prevent hostiles from advancing on them."
  1047. >"Between our environmentally-sealed armor and enhanced physiology, we can survive in hard vacuum for a time, whereas the most likely foes will be rendered helpless or dead in a short period." Trixus gives one more nod of approval. "So any routes that we void are not closed to us entirely. Any other equipment we require?"
  1048.  
  1049. >"Haven't we spent all of our requisition?" Lyra asks, double checking Cheerilee's notes. "Yeah, we did. So even if we need more, we can't get it."
  1050. >"There are ways..." Trixie frowns slightly, flipping through her rulebook. "Trixus could request additional gear at the cost of his reputation..."
  1051. >Even though this is only a one-shot game, you're surprised Trixie is willing to make the offer.
  1052. >"No need," Cheerilee tells her. "The only thing I didn't list was a Teleport Homer, but I took that cost into account with the extraction cost. I'm pretty sure this is all we'll need. And if not, we're too screwed for it to make a difference." She shrugs. "Besides, what's the worst that'll happen? We lose and hate Anon always and forever?"
  1053. "Don't worry, I'm used to that."
  1054. >"I'll make you sleep on the sofa!" Twilight threatens you with a smile. "Or at your *own place!*"
  1055. >Trixie's head twitches, the corners of her mouth turning downward. Berry Punch looks to her with concern, subtly putting a comforting hoof on her friend. From Twilight's angry snort, she probably noticed.
  1056. "SO! All that's left for mission prep is for your Kill-Team to take your oath! I was planning on us not using Squad Mode rules, but -"
  1057. >"NO!"
  1058. >Well, that sure distracted your marefriend from whatever unhappy - and wildly incorrect - thoughts she was having.
  1059. >"Even if Trixie didn't have all those bonuses, even if most of us *hadn't* taken abilities that work only in squad mode, No!" she insists.
  1060. >"A Space Marine on his own is a mighty warrior, but together..." Cheerilee trails off.
  1061.  
  1062. >"The deeds of one bold warrior can alter the course of a battle," Trixus tells the Watch-Captain. "I have five such men under my command and our every deed changes the shape of the galaxy."
  1063. >The Librarian's black-armored gauntlet slams into the ornate scrollwork decorations of his breastplate as he salutes his superior.
  1064. >"We fight as one."
  1065.  
  1066. "And have you already decided the team's oath?"
  1067. >"Oath of Knowledge would be nice..." Berry Punch trails off, obviously looking for the bonus to hit.
  1068. >"Too bad we do not know what we face." Trixie frowns, looking at the list. "We only have one choice - Oath of the Emperor."
  1069. >Berry Punch shrugs if off, checking to see what that oath grants.
  1070. >"Not the bonus I was hoping for, but those Squad Mode abilities..." Her UNF face is both unexpected and mildly disturbing. "I can use my reaction to fire a full-auto burst? Yes, please!"
  1071. >This draws a smile from every pony at the table.
  1072. >"Just try not to burn through all of your ammo too quickly," Trixie cautions, though still smilling at Berry Punch's reaction. "You only have enough for 25 bursts from your heavy bolter."
  1073. >"Good thing I'm also carrying a sword!"
  1074. >"Which you totally aren't spec'd to use," Cheerilee cautions.
  1075. >Berry Punch grins like a totally idiot, grabbing her mug of cider.
  1076. >"Then don't make me use it!" she yells, sloshing the mug around - but not drinking any.
  1077. >Lyra frowns at the wasted cider. And... Twilight frowns at Trixie, her distraction only momentary. That settles it - you probably should have explained some stuff to her beforehand, but your love of teasing your marefriend got the best of you. First available stopping point, you're going to have to drag her out and explain some things to her.
  1078. >Maybe go pick up food somewhere.
  1079. >Pizza?
  1080. >Nah, the two of you have had pizza too often, and neither man nor pony can live off pizza and waffles alone.
  1081. >Chineighse, then. If everyone agrees.
Twilight Sparkle Anon Trixie Berry Punch Warhammer 40k /tg/ Traditional Games Complete NSFW

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