The trials and tribulations of managing your own personal pony village.
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!F9CBa509ak 2017-03-24 10:04:29 No. 29737106
>>29723677
>>29723690
>>29724899

"Crescent... we need to know about the others."
> "Go fuck yourself, Thunderlane."
"Not - not for punishment, Crescent! Because of this - because when we have to go chasing you, ponies get hurt! And soon or later it's going to be more than bruises and bangs. Sooner or later somepony's going to end up dead."
> "Their blood will be on your wings."
> You bite back a snarl; this isn't working.
> Another approach, then.
"Do you think I just meant ponies we were hunting? What about innocents, just scared and caught in the way? What happens if one of your friends lashes out, snaps at a pony - goes too far? What happens if they're angry, looking for some way to vent that?"
> In the silence that follows, the gears turning in Crescent's mind could not be more deafening.
> "We're not... just going after anypony."
"No. But things can change very suddenly. A few hours ago, you were - what? Guessing that there'd be a raid."
> "Had... some guesses. We were looking for a safer place for the stuff. Too late, I guess."
> A little bit of relief for you - reassurance that what you'd done was right.
> If you'd waited any longer to move, they might've vanished even further.
"That's my point. Things move so fast, can you really be sure of how things'll be tomorrow?"
> She can't, but Crescent Moon doesn't say as much.
"We're not going to flog them. We're definitely not going to torture them. I'm just worried about ponies who might be violent. Just - even tell us who to talk to... do that much, I'll fight to reduce your punishment. Get you moved to a lighter sentence."
> This time there is a response - a nervous, jerking shake of her head that sets the chain from her collar jingling again.
> "No. Can't sell out the other groups."
"Even knowing what will-"
> "I'm going to be whipped! I get it! You don't have to remind me!"
> For just a moment fear - real fear, real terror - leaks into her voice.
> If you were a lesser pony, you could use that.

!F9CBa509ak 2017-03-24 10:05:32 No. 29737113
>>29737106

> Squeeze on that.
> But threatening a pony with torture - that's too much, even for you.
"I meant knowing more ponies will be hurt if this keeps on going."
> Laying her head back down, Crescent shakes it again.
> "Leave me alone, Thunderlane."
> Standing, you hang your head and let your frustration leak into your own tones as well.
> Let her know this is painful to watch for you too.
"Fine. Think it over. You'll be properly questioned again later; if you take my offer, tell them."
> There's nothing but silence, though, and then the squealing screech of a cell door slamming shut.
> This night wasn't nearly done yet.

> The sun was not yet up when you sit down on at the table in Anonymous' study.
> Thunderlane was already there - his head slumped on the table, soft snores emerging from the stallion as he caught a few minutes of shuteye after his hours at work.
> With a gentle wing you rouse him; he stares bleary-eyed at you for a few moments before ducking his head in a bow.
> "Y'highness..."
"How bad is it, Thunderlane?"
> "We're up to seventeen ponies arrested now..."
> Seventeen...
> Celestia help you, you'd known some were going to be caught in this.
> But nearly twenty...
"Was there much fighting?"
> "Almost all of them ran. A few... went after the guards. Hurt them."
"How many?"
> He winces.
> "Eight."
> Another eight ponies you would be responsible for punishing.
> "We also found their little resistance-museum, and-"
"I saw it. Before coming here. You were right to ask the other guards not to destroy it."
> "Thank you, Your Highness, but..."
> A glance around, and Thunderlane leans in to whisper straight into your ear:
> "They found one of Sunburst's caches."
> Your stomach plunges.
"How much?"
> "Not much. Some magic textbooks, I think. They don't understand it's important yet."
"We'll have to keep it this way. Who else knows?"
> "That we swept the camp? How about everypony here?!"
> A moment later Thunderlane shakes his head, ears falling.

!F9CBa509ak 2017-03-24 10:06:39 No. 29737122
>>29737113

> "Sorry. Didn't mean t'snap at you, Your Highness."
"Forgiven, of course. I meant how many ponies taken by the guards. Does Haute Glamour know?"
> "I don't think so. Not too many know that."
"We need to keep it that way. I have to be seen as on top of this, or she'll dig herself even further in..."
> Thunderlane starts to speak, but is cut off by a massive yawn instead.
"How much sleep have you had?"
> "Yesterday?"
"Since this began."
> "...thirty minutes?"
> Any attempt to reply is stymied by Anonymous' arrival.
> He sweeps in still rumpled and - by your guess - not yet showered after emerging from bed.
> "Cadance, Thunderlane. Either of you need coffee?"
"I have had already."
> "Wouldn't do me much good."
> "Okay. I've heard a lot of things already but I need to know, just what are we looking at here? Thunderlane, where do we stand?"
> "We found what we were expecting, a - cache of documents."
> "Pushing rebellion."
> "Yes. We were... lucky-"
> No hiding that grimace; Thunderlane doesn't feel it is lucky at all.
> "-enough to catch a meeting of would-be rebels as well. They ran, but the guards chased them down. Some... fought back."
> "Mmm."
> Anonymous runs a hand through his hair, then rubs his eyes furiously.
> "Okay, Cadance. They're in your court. Do what you think is right, but I think it's abundantly clear to all of us now that our actions have... consequences."
"It could not be more clear."
> No matter how you wish it were some other way.
"The other ponies - taken in, who weren't with the one group. Who were they?"
> "Just... random ponies who became upset. Probably were already ready to snap at any moment. We... don't have any evidence they were involved in any resistance."
> You glance in Anonymous' direction, trying to gauge his reaction.
> He doesn't seem to have much of one at all, though that may have something to do with his dose of sleep deprivation.
"...of - the ones who fought back, how many are dedicated rebels?"

!F9CBa509ak 2017-03-24 10:07:45 No. 29737131
>>29737122

> Thunderlane shrugs apologetically.
> "I don't really know. Some of them are young. Barely mares and stallions. I've not had too much time to really talk to all of them, but I know for sure there are a couple who were... lead alone by the others."
> You know what he wants.
> Mercy.
> Something other than a real punishment.
> But this is even less in your hooves than your own six escape leaders had been.
> Not only do you have to keep Anonymous satisifed, but...
"...I have to show I'm in control."
> Cocking his head, Thunderlane looks at you questioningly.
"Haute Glamour. And - everyone else who's watching now, but especially her. If I show any sign of weakness she'll seize on it, rip into it."
> His ears fall and tail swishes; he is not happy about what you are implying.
"I may not even have a choice. Guards got hurt. That's serious - the kind of thing that could have sent a pony to the hard cells, to real torture if-"
> You'd been about to say 'if Anonymous were still running things'.
"-if they weren't here! I want to help them! I saw what they show me as, and I don't want to be that monster."
> A tense silence pervades the room, gazes locked and nostrils flared while you lock gazes and wings twitch in the age-old gestures of pegasi engaged in conflict.
> "If I can interrupt for a moment - there'll be time to discuss this later."
"...Yes, Master. What is it?"
> "I've heard the sweep isn't quite finished. Thunderlane?"
> "Yes. With the time we took to chase down the ponies who ran, it wasn't quite entirely done. We want to keep the lockdown running through today while we search."
> "Gene's thought?"
> "He agrees. He'd be up here to tell you yourself, but he's still searching. Threw me off the search after my leg got twisted."
> Thunderlane had been hurt himself?!
> Why hadn't he told you?
> "Cadance, any objections?"

!F9CBa509ak 2017-03-24 10:08:47 No. 29737139
>>29737131

"I don't think it should be done for more than a day. I can't very well address them while the camp is locked down, and the longer we go without that the more rumors will start circulating."
> "Agreed. Okay, Thunderlane - tell Gene he's got himself a day. Next, the seized materials. What're we doing with them?"
"I want a chance to look them over. If just to know what they're accusing me, so I know how to respond. Some of the less - incendiary material, the things that look like they were just pulled from history books... it may go into the proper museum."
> Anonymous folds his arms, staring flatly at you.
"Master, we have to answer them somehow. Punish them for trying to inspire violence, yes, but also show that we are listening. That kind of communication is how we've succeeded so far."
> "You check each and every thing with me before you put them in, then."
> It's as good as you're going to get, you think.
"...Yes, Master."
> And then the room falls silent again, tension once more beginning to rise between yourself and Thunderlane like water building behind at dam.
> The only question is what part of the dam fails first, and...
> "You can't have them all whipped, Cadance!"
"Then what do I do? Extra work shifts - not enough. I'm bound by things outside my control now!"
> His teeth grit in a snarl.
> Folding his arms, Anonymous just watches you argue.
> "Cadance, one of them is just a filly! Probably not that much older than Rumble-"
> Gaze turning to Anonymous:
> "-or Mocha Cream. And now Rumble's helping Mocha with the sorting the suggestions box entries - that's the kind of thing that talking builds! That's what we'll lose if we whip her! She's nearly ready to work with us, for Celestia's sake!"
> Anonymous shoots him a harsh glare, but if Thunderlane sees it he's well beyond caring.
"Is she working with us? Going to help us stop more of this?"
> "Not yet, but that's why we have to-"

!F9CBa509ak 2017-03-24 10:10:44 No. 29737144
>>29737139

"I can't wait, Thunderlane! Not when Haute Glamour is breathing into my mane! If word gets out this is a place where ponies can attack humans and get away without a punishment... what happens then?"
> Again the stallion snarls furiously - but doesn't respond.
> And yet...
> Are you sacrificing too much?
> Becoming the very monster these ponies accuse you of being?
> And if so, how do you stop?

Decision time! In addition to any ongoing punishments such as magic limiters or extra shifts...
> Ponies who fought back and hurt guards are unfortunately beyond your help, no matter what happens. They are to be whipped; ponies just caught with the materials, though, just get lighter sentences.
> Ponies who fought back will be whipped, but give Thunderlane some time to try and turn them to your side. Any who turn will be given a reprieve; those caught with materials are given lighter sentences.
> All pushed for violence, whether or not they got around to actually using it. All suffer the whip, only varying the number of lashes.
> Violence never solved anything. You will take the gamble of giving them all lighter sentences.

!F9CBa509ak 2017-03-26 05:16:10 No. 29747390
>>29737859
>>29740545
>>29737650
>>29744406

"We... can't just let this pass by without a response. People were hurt - ponies too. Not responding to this will only make it worse."
> Thunderlane looks away, his ears flat against the side of his head and wings held rigid.
"But - but. That doesn't mean we can't offer something to those young ponies who were caught up in this without understanding what it was. Thunderlane? Get some rest first, and then work on everypony who's been brought in - especially the young ones who may not know better."
> "And if they work with us?"
> His voice is still combative, accusatory.
"Then - we reduce their sentences. Anywhere we can. For the ones who fought back, they'll have to go to the whipping post - but we can take it down if they work with us."
> The look on Thunderlane's face is not a pleased one, but you can't afford to think of that right now.
> Not with the specter of Haute Glamour looming just over your withers.
"The others - as long as they didn't fight, there's no need for corporal punishment."
> "Their magic will have to be restricted."
> You grimace at Anonymous' addition; seeing it, he adds:
> "It's not purely a matter of punishment, Cadance. We need - we have to - show that we are handling this situation."
"I know."
> Celestia above, you know.
> If this wasn't dealt with, if the camp collapsed and Flurry Heart was sold off...
> The mere thought of her being out of your reach again is enough to awaken that old, hard feeling inside; the idea of her ending up with somepony like Haute Glamour-
> You push that thought away before the bile can rise too far.
"What are you thinking? Absolute severing?"
> "For the ponies who attacked guards? Absolutely."
> Your stomach drops.
"The nerves?! They'll never be able to-"
> "No, no! Not cutting the nerves!"
> Even Anonymous manages to sound horrified by that thought, though you wonder if it has more to do with the permanent loss of useful workers if that was done.

!F9CBa509ak 2017-03-26 05:17:12 No. 29747397
>>29747390

> "No surgery, and no dehorning. Period. At most I'll look at what it would cost to take them somewhere for an implant, but I'd rather not even do that."
"We'll have to use horn attenuators and wingbinders, then. For the others? The ones who didn't fight?"
> "Shackle them in at night."
> Thunderlane's voice is bitter to the point of sickness, as if he can't believe the words coming from his own mouth.
> "We can set aside one of the barracks rooms. We won't muzzle them, rule what they can say - but they were caught out of their beds at night and then ran - and we can't have that. They check in at night, get locked in, and are let go in the morning."
"That is... doable."
> Sagging in his seat, Thunderlane nods.
> You want to step over and nuzzle him, remind him that this is the time to be strong.
> That you can tell how much it hurts him to do this, but it is needed.
> Instead you settle for words.
"Go talk to Gene and then get some rest, Thunderlane. You've done enough; now your job is to make any of those ponies see reason again."
> "Yeah... alright. I'll go."
> And then there were to - the alicorn, and the master.
> Anonymous sighs heavily, hand again rising to rub at his forehead.
> "How long were you thinking of giving him before carrying out the punishments?"
"A day, at least, while the sweep is finished. Longer if needed. There's something else, too."
> "What?"
"When it comes time to do the - the whipping, I want you there to do it. To show that this kind of thing is imperiling my independence, and ability to protect-"
> "No."
> Shaking his head firmly, Anonymous folds his arms.
> "You wanted to be their leader - that means you deal with the good as well as the bad. You announced the reward for when they work well, you also get to deal with the punishment for when they don't."
> For a moment you're ready to argue, but that might only lead to you truly losing control of them.
"...yes, Master."

!F9CBa509ak 2017-03-26 05:18:14 No. 29747406
>>29747397

> A moment of silence, then:
> "Did you really think I'd order their horns cut off?"
"I... don't know. I've heard of it being done before, and I didn't know if you would..."
> "I don't maim or mutilate ponies here, Cadance. I can't dehorn them any more than I can cut off the pegasus' wings or earth ponies' hooves."
"I'll tell them that, when the punishment comes. That - if more violence keeps coming, that you could be forced to do worse. Or that they could be sent... somewhere else."
> "Do it. It'll be the truth - I can't hang on to ponies who are consistently damaging. You can't, either."
> Abruptly rising from his seat, Anonymous signals you to follow him.
> "Come. I have to get my day started."
> Getting his day started turns out to mean returning to his bedroom; again, you are struck by the sheer luxury of it even compared to your quarters in the camp.
> ...right before you are struck by the fact that he is taking off his shirt as he heads for the bathroom.
> Does he intend for you to follow him-
> "Gotta shower up, Cadance. You can... wait just outside."
"Okay."
> Soon the water begins to run; with the door open, you can just barely hear Anonymous' voice coming from inside.
> "So, what is your plan for dealing with this going forward?"
"First and foremost, making it clear that violence is met with violence. Not... by my choice, but that is how it is."
> Another simple fact of being a slave.
"Making clear what is - and is not - allowed is the next step. Show that pushing for violence like this is obviously not acceptable, but words of resistance... I still think that we can cut off many of these rebels' arguments before any actual fighting and punishment by isolating them."
> "Easy to say. They're bringing fucking kids into it now - I don't think they're going to just give up because you spoke nicely to them."
"The way they see it, foals have already been brought into this when they were enslaved."
> A longer silence before Anonymous replies:

!F9CBa509ak 2017-03-26 05:19:16 No. 29747414
>>29747406

> "You almost sounds like you're defending them."
"...no, Master. Just - explaining how they see it."
> Though you can't deny a sense that at least some part of that argument was true; it still did not warrant using colts and fillies for actual fighting, though.
"The key to cutting off their support is to invalidate that argument. Give the young ponies here more to reason associate with - reasonable and sensible ponies, than with the rebels. That's why I want to see about transferring some of the material into my museum."
> "I'm still not happy about that. As far as I'm concerned, giving them that idea was what created this mess in the first place!"
"I'll fight for it until until you order me to stop, Anonymous. It might've sped it up, but time it must've taken to gather what they have - it was going to happen anyhow."
> Not quite audible, you nonetheless suspect that his next statement was prefaced by a rather hefty sigh.
> "Which is why I'm not ordering you to tear it down. I just want you to know you're on the knife's edge, Cadance."
"Trust me, I know."
> What you also know is that, in just a few days - no matter how long you "gave" Thunderlane to try and convince them otherwise - you were going to have to take a whip to ponies once again.
> This time, at least, you could tell yourself they had jeopardized the longer-running plans you were forming with Sunburst...
> Even be angry at them for how they'd demonized you in their little 'museum'.
> But that couldn't do anything about the growing sick feeling in your stomach.
"Anonymous, if you would carry out-"
> "I said no, Cadance."
> You jump; lost in thought, you'd missed him shutting off the water and dressing.
> Anonymous had appeared practically right beside you, a frown creasing his lips and peering down at you with the beginnings of annoyance in his eyes.

!F9CBa509ak 2017-03-26 05:20:27 No. 29747424
>>29747414

> "Like I said, you don't get to cast me as the whip-wielding villain while you reap the rewards. You deal with all of this, or none of it. Which is it?"
"All of it, Master."
> "Good girl."
> Kneeling down in front of you, he puts a hand on your cheek.
> "I have faith in you, Cadance. You've got the motivation, and I think you have the brains and heart too, to see this done right. To make them understand rebelling... only leads to pain and suffering, for everyone."
> Despite the gentle touch, you look away.
"I... thank you, Master. But I really do wonder if I couldn't be doing better..."
> "Then let's focus on the task at hand. For the ones who didn't actually fight, what kind of punishments were you thinking of?"

What are we doing? There was some discussion of alternatives short of whipping but more than just extra work shifts, so let's have a proper decision.
>Accept Thunderlane's suggestion of keeping them chained in place at night?
>Force them to put in extra hours on the rec center or working with Mocha Cream on the suggestions, in the hope that it drives them to behave better.
>Limit all of their magic, showing that even supporting violence carries costs as well - albeit not as great ones.
>Some combination of the above? Some new suggestion? By all means, be inventive and suggestive.
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