Opportunity (Staren)

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Opportunity (Staren)
Date of Cutscene: 11 December 2016
Location: Equestria
Synopsis: In the wake of Njorun's fall, Staren knows what really matters to him. And in the next few days, the League sends an odd pair coached to recruit him...
Cast of Characters: Staren

       Staren floats above the plateau full of refugees, sitting on the broom Belldandy gave him all those years ago, staring at the devestation wrought in Njorun's fall.

        But what matters to him most, isn't here.

        <<Beam me up.>> He transmits to Kotone and Slipbolt. <<I need to check on some things.>>

        And he disappears in a beam of light.

        He appears aboard the ship -- The aesthetic of some long-gone human empire, mixed with Kotone's own. He offers Kotone and Shacklebolt, her Glitch crewmember, curt nods as he steps off the teleportation pad and immediately sets a camera drone over it, which disappears in another beam of light.

        For tense seconds, Staren waits. Blessedly, it isn't long enough for him to begin to seriously consider that she might be gone.

        The drone reappears. The teleporters are still working. Staren steps onto the pad without further comment.

        Staren is on his ship. He's immediately connected to external cameras. The planet is still there. He teleports down, in front of a house shaped like a tree. He can see her through the window, and sighs in relief before knocking on the door.

       Staren skates along the path from Ponyville to the warpgate on hovershoes. He's retained his natural form today, it's just easier. And he's going to set out into space soon, but it would be good to check first what places are 'nearby' in the warpgate network -- whether they hold potential hazards that might attack Equestria, or well-connected hub worlds that might serve as a source of information, or other resources he can use. He sees two unicorns coming the other way and offers a friendly nod; they stop. "Staren, I presume?" One speaks. The pair are dressed in early 20th century garb, but he can't tell if that makes them offworlders or some of the locals that prefer to wear clothes. They look similar, save that one sports a moustache.

        Staren comes to a stop, nodding and giving the pair a scrutinizing look. "Do I... know you?"

        "Oh no, I don't think so! We've been sent here to talk to you about an... opportunity." Replies the cleanshaven one. The mustachioed one's horn glows, levitating a smartphone before him. It plays a video, of a man beginning an address: "People of the Multiverse, we stand in the wake of tremendous cataclysm..."

        Staren nods and waves dismissively. "Yes, yes, I saw it on the Starknet. I've thought about talking to them soon. If you came all this way just to show me that, I'm afraid you're--"

        "Ah, but there /is/ more to it than that, Staren." The first speaks up again, as the second puts the phone away before speaking in turn: "This is in the interest of full disclosure! The League knows you hate people decieving you, and doesn't want to tell a lie of omission." The first nods to the other, then turns to Staren and continues: "You see, the League attracts all kinds. People of many different... proclivities." "Philosophies." "Moral tendencies." "Attitudes and behaviors." "Ethical standards." Staren's eyes dart as the pair rapidly speak in turn. "And it would be a tragedy." "A /tragedy/." "If you were to walk in the front door, see something you don't like," "or some/one/," "and walk right back out again." "A waste of potential! A /waste/!" "So we're being up front with you! There will be people you most /certainly/ do not like in the League."

        Staren blinks. "You're... here to /dissuade/ me?"

        The moustachioed one shakes his head with a "Nnnonononono!" that sounds a bit like a whinny, while the other raises a forehoof. "Oh no, it's as I said /before/, we come to you with an /opportunity/! But that opportunity isn't just a /lab/, or a /research budget/. You see, the League /needs/ your influence! Those with... /ethical/, /moral/ concerns! Your presence" "Or that of others like you!" "Is /essential/ to the League's mission! Those of keen mind /and/ morals are needed to help the less..." "Morally focused?" "ethically concerned scientists find ways to conduct their experiments in more... palatable ways." "It's good for PR!"

        Staren furrows his brow slightly and purses his lips in thought. Sensing they've nearly closed the sale, the first pony leans forward and continues: "Full disclosure once again! It's in our own self-interest. Not only because fewer people will invest if the League is seen as entirely lacking in morals... but it's in the interest of the mission, as well!" "Progress!" "Yes! /How/ can we achieve progress if noone trusts us? It's that, ah, that, ah," The first pony makes a circular motion with his forehoof. The second pony, with the moustache, looks at the smartphone. "Trolley problem." "Yes! The transplant version of the trolley problem. If doctors go around cutting one person up to save five more, then they end up unable to help anypony because everypony is afraid the doctors will cut them up! And that's not progress! All our hard work..." "Our blood, sweat, tears, and budgets!" "for naught!" "for /nothing/!" "It would be a tragedy." "/Tragedy./" "If the League sets out to improve the state of things and no one will accept its help! That's why we /need/ you. So, what do you say?" The first pony smiles and holds out a forehoof as if expecting a shake, or a bump. The second coughs, and levitates a piece of paper to Staren. "We /do/ have a message for you." The catboy reads it:

        You've tried the hero thing. Fighting villain after villain without end, hoping your masters know what they're doing. But it didn't change the Multiverse. We're not asking you to stop; One less evil in the world is one less evil. But if you could put a little of your time into something greater to change the world, would you be willing to try a new approach?

        They look at him, curiously, as his hand holding the note drops to his side.

        "I'll think about it."

        Staren walks past the pair, lost in thought.

        They watch him go. "...Well, /that's/ gone better than some of our endeavors, at least." The cleanshaven unicorn turns to the other, who nods. "Certainly." "...So, did he want us to talk to the plant mare in the Everfree?" The moustachioed one gets out the smartphone again.