Children of Oonte
Chapter 12: A chewing out and more equipment and another mission for a sister.
Renee sat in the hard metal chair while Colonel Émile Baton sat in his chair and hissed at her. He was living up to his nickname, The Serpent. Birds were chirping outside and golden sunlight shone through the windows but Renee saw and heard little of that. Being somewhat hungover did not help. The good news was that Renee had found a lost patrol, saved prisoners and brought back some useful info about the CC. The bad news was that Baton had forbidden any missions to save the lost patrol. Things could have gone badly, also commanders do not like their soldiers disobeying orders even if the results were good. The volunteer patrols would get two weeks of punishment detail but they can start it after two days of rest. Renee would get three weeks of punishment detail and one day of rest. After that 1 day of rest, Renee would get Ashley to make equipment for the Parisian Resistance. "Can I go with my sister, we have an important mission to do" Renee asked.
Émile looked at Renee and sighed. "You may travel with your sisters but I want a full report of the mission. Now go and enjoy your day off!"
Twilight paced back and forth in the hotel room. It was a nice room with paintings and a view of a park with trees. She wished that Ashley would finally get out of the bathroom. Ashley was slow moving this morning. There was a knock at the door and Twilight used her telekinesis to open the door. Isabela walked in and strode right up to Twilight. "Where is your sister? I have many things to discuss with her but first we will go to a cafe and eat!" Isabela said with a shake of her red curly mane. At the mention of eating Twilight's stomach growled. Ashley finally came out of the bathroom and looked at them. Isabela walked up to her and gave Ashley a big hug.
"Sherman told me what happened and I am here to help. Come Sister, lets dine!" Isabela said with enthusiasm and put her arm around Ashley's waist. Ashley's dark mood lightened a bit.
Isabela led them to a table in front of a cafe. Renee came by a bit later but did not stay and said that they could order anything they wanted, no worries about money. It seems that the Paris Herd had a bunch of chefs that were unicorns. They could either conjure up meals or conjure up the ingredients for meals and cook them. This was payment for saving the squad and for some of the equipment that they wanted Ashley to make. Renee came by again later on and introduced her husband Abelard to the group. The rest of the afternoon was spent with conversation, song and dance. Well, a little bit of dance.
Twilight woke up early in the morning. She had been thinking about Ashley. Even during the day yesterday, Ashley was distant. She was no Pinkie but she was more reserved for some reason. Twilight liked Ashley, they had a lot in common. Twilght's ears picked up the sound of someone picking their way through the sleeping ponies and a few people, it was Renee. "Can you wake Ashley and Isabela? I will be getting my apartment ready for our meeting", Renee whispered. That was something Twilight did not understand, why did ponies from Earth (Terran Ponies) sleep in groups outside instead in their own rooms?
Twilight poked Ashley with her hoof and Ashley ignored it. Looks like this is going to take more than a poke Twilight thought. Twilight then went to Isabela and poked her. Isabela sprang awake.
"Ah, Twilight, I had the most interesting dream. Unfortunately its not one to discuss with friends unless its with drinks! There was a lot of purple in it!" Isabela got up and tried to tickle Ashley awake. For a minute, Ashley curled up and kept sleeping but Isabela kept tickling. Eventually Ashley woke up and peered around with a confused look. Isabela then stuck her face in Ashley's and grinned widely. Ashley laughed but it was weak. Twilght and Isabela led Ashley out of the sleeping area without stepping on anybody. That was not an easy feat since Terran ponies and some humans slept pretty closely to each other. Twilight resolved to ask one of the Terran ponies why they slept like this.
"We need to talk" Renee said, flicking a pink hair off of Ashley's muzzle.
"Something is eating you, sister and we need to deal with it before things get worse" Isabela said. They were sitting on various chairs in Renee's apartment and Renee and Abelard were sitting on the bed.
"Abelard is a trained psychologist and he has a background counseling soldiers. I have been a soldier for years before I became a pony and I can tell a soldier from a mile away. Please allow my husband to help you", Renee said with concern in her voice.
Isabela said she would tell the other unicorns that Ashley would be two hours late for work. Renee would bring in something to eat a bit later. Then everyone left the room except for Abelard and Ashley. Ashley pulled up a chair next to Abelard who was sitting on the bed and they began a session.
"Isabela, why do Terran ponies sleep outside like last night?" Twilight asked.
"Well, we are herdy, we like to be in groups. Makes us feel good to be near each other even if we do not speak. When the weather gets bad we will sleep separately or in a group indoors." Isabela replied.
Around 2pm, Ashley finished up the last power generator. They had four now, two for civilian use and two for military use. With the support of the unicorn mages of the Parisian Herd, it was easy to get a lot done. There was still a lot to do. Ashley felt better, that session with Abelard had helped out a lot. She was hoping to get two food generators done before Invocation at 4pm. After that, Ashley would get back to work til 7pm. There would be some time to eat and then they were going to see a play. Isabela had made Ashley promise to enjoy herself a bit too.
That evening Ashley's head had not touched the pillow on her sleeping bag for at least a second when she found herself in a clearing in a forest. The flowers and plants looked different than what Ashley would see in a regular forest and she could see bamboo too. Maybe its an Asian forest?
"Yes", Ashley's teal eyed, yellow furred, pink maned and tailed sister said. "I used to come here when I was a child, now its all gone. My name is Mei Nuo" Ashley's sister said.
"What happened?" Ashley asked.
"It was progress, people needed space for homes and such" Mei replied in a matter of fact voice. It sounded matter of fact but there was a tinge of sadness there too.
"I am sorry to bother you, I know you are busy helping a sister and I would wait but things are bad here. Well, things are not that bad but they will be soon. The CC as you call them are raiding towns and stealing our children and babies. We need your help soon, please can you help?" Mei implored.
"I would help you but I need to make sure that the Parisian Resistance is able to defend itself" Ashley replied.
Mei said, "I know you would help me but the problem is that we need your help as soon as possible" Mei said and then she showed Ashley what she saw a few days ago.
Mei/Ashley were in a noisy market haggling for veggies for a salad, when she heard people yelling and running. She finished the trade and reluctantly walked towards the commotion. It was hard to walk through the stream of panicked people but finally she saw what was causing all the fear. A large CC ship hovered over part of the town and a red beam was going through the houses and small huts. It looked like there were small figures floating up the beam into the ship. Mei/Ashley fought her way through the crowd to get a closer look. After a bit of apologizing and pushing Mei/Ashley got a better view, the small figures were babies and small children. What happened to the adults? Mei/Ashley wondered. Then the vision ended. "Wish I could show you more but I am getting tired", Mei apologized. Mei then explained that the CC ship did its raid for a few minutes until several jets from the Chinese air force flew into the area, the CC ship did not stay around and just vanished.
"I will see what I can do" Ashley replied. Ashley came out of Pnet and went back in to send messages about what she had learned from Mei.
A few minutes later, Ashley, Renee and Isabela met on Pnet. This time Renee made a place that looked like her apartment. "Baton wants a lot of equipment from you Ashley! He is pissed that you blew up the base and destroyed artifacts that we could have studied" Renee complained.
"You do not have the facilities to study or even store artifacts safely. Why bother picking up something that tells the CC exactly where your base is?" Ashley replied, she was getting annoyed.
"Sisters, please we need to find out how to help Mei Nuo" Isabela said with a conciliatory tone. At the mention of Mei's name, Ashley tried to reach out to her but there was no reply.
In the morning, Isabela checked out the status of the poor unicorns with the shattered horns through Pnet, the Parisian Herd were taking care of them. It would be a while before they were capable to cast the easiest of spells. Even telekinesis was out of their reach for now. Isabela could sympathize with them, she could imagine having her legs shattered so she could not dance anymore. She might be able to walk with crutches or with a cane but no more dancing for a while. It would feel like an eternity. At least they were alive and maybe things could change for the better for them. Isabela relayed the info to Ashley.
They decided to send Renee back to Colonel Baton and get some sort of minimum list of items. After they were made, the sisters would fly to Beijing to help Mei. Renee dreaded going back and asking for less than what Baton wanted, he would start hissing some more but that can't be helped.