[IC] Equestrian Radio Show's Adventure Variety Hour: Explorers of STOMP


Staff member
Council of Elders
Amber looked at Static and recognized his discomfort, and smiled at him in a way she hoped was comfortingly, then nodded her head. She looked back to Willow to hear her explanation of the COIN blackmail she'd discovered.

Static listened to Snowy Skies words, and while he found it difficult trying to keep up with the metaphors, he felt he kinda got the gist of what was being said. He was even almost comforted until Tangerine Sands came out announcing that it was his turn with the chief director. Tangerine only said 7 little words...and each word felt like a death knell to Statics ears. Every step he took from the wall to the Directors Office felt like a march to his own funeral. He could almost imagine somepony yelling out "Dead pony walking."

He walked into Brisk Irons office. "Yes ma'am?"

"I'd like to hear the events in your own words."

Static fidgeted a bit. Well ma'am...before the attack started, Black Night and I had a plan to use the projector to make the attackers think there were two Black Nights. It worked on a few of them. But then the leader, Silent Belle, she saw right through the illusion.

Then she walked up to Amber and...well...from my vantage point it looked like she slapped Amber's glasses clean off. I mean, I learned later she just used her telekinesis to toss them aside...but it looked to me like she'd slapped them off really hard and then started to mock her.

And things just got so red and hazy after that. I was so angry because Amber was like...the first friend I've had in years and to see her struck...or...having thought she was struck...

I hated her, ma'am. Silent Belle, I hated her for what I thought was striking Amber. I hated the ponies with her because...ma'am...if not for a few ill-chosen words words on Dazzling Midnight's part...I could've been one of them. And I hated them for that. I hated them so much that even after the fighting was finished...even after we won...I hated them so much I just...I just...

Static was trembling at this point, the sheer blinding hatred he felt then returned to his eyes. I wanted Belle to pay. I wanted her to pay for Dazzling Midnight. I wanted her to pay for Mr. Stiff Feather. I wanted her to pay for Amber.

I kept taking pot shots at her. I mean, nothing as hard as when we were actually fighting. Barely more than hard nudges or maybe light punches. But that doesn't excuse it. They were prisoners...and uncontious prisoners at that. And when Mr. Sands saw what happened, and that red haze passed and it really sunk in what I'd done...

Static was crying now...full on crying. He tried like Tartarus to stop it and wipe away his tears. But there was just no stopping it.

"I know what I did was unforgivable. And I know saying 'sorry' rings hollow for something this serious. But I'm sorry. I am so...sorry!

There was a bit of a silence from Brisk Iron until, "You've been under a lot of stress tonight and I probably made a bad call by putting you out there. Make no mistake--I'm not condoning your actions. I'm docking your pay and this is your final warning. If this or anything even remotely similar EVER happens again, not only will you be out of a job, I'll drag you down to the police myself. However, through your admission and through Sands' suggestion, I feel this won't happen again with some training and direction. We'll need to get some sort of sleeping arrangements together for you for tonight but I need to get everything sorted out, both with the police and with our surprise arrivals. Did you have anything else to say?"

Snowy Skies stayed against the wall after Static left. He liked Static all the more, now. The pony had a handful of triggers that resulted in something well beyond fury. Otherwise, he lulled himself into sickening complacence, and drank like a fish. He would be an absolute joy to spend time around, if Snowy Skies could only find an excuse for it. But in the mean time, he wondered, what was he going to do with Brisk Iron?

His mind on the subject was a lot clearer now that he didn't have to worry about the opacity of his illusion. He was too tired to keep up the act, and he'd probably blown it with Steel Flint by now, so Brisk Iron would be suspicious anyways. If anything, this was his chance to find out how much his illusion had actually accomplished around here. Just how much had he fooled Brisk Iron? That would be a fun fact to gauge, but didn't accomplish much. speaking of Steel Flint, just how worried was she? She didn't seem scared of him, not at all...which meant she couldn't have properly comprehended what he did. Or, perhaps, she completely comprehended it, as well as he did, but that also seemed unlikely...

A chill down his spine jerked him back into reality. He had begun to doze off against the wall. Shaking himself a little, he noticed a few frozen drops of sweat falling off his coat as he walked back towards the larger group, beginning to circle it from the outside. He clearly needed to keep moving to keep himself awake.

"No ma'am...well...maybe one thing, ma'am. I doubt a good word from me means much at the moment, but if not for Black Nights help...well...I dread to think of what would've happened with the sword. We're lucky she stopped by.

"I'm sure she knows but I'll be sure to tell her if I see her again."

"From reading this, it seems things are mostly resolved. Police will remain on close and nearby grounds in case something else happens but most of those inside and those on the outskirts of the city will be dismissed. For the moment, it seems I have some miscreants in a closet to attend to." Just then, Brisk Iron and Static Signal returned to the room, "Snowy Skies, I need to speak with you."



Staff member
Council of Elders
Static was relieved to make it out of Brisk Iron's office. He felt like he'd been turned inside out and back again. That all too familiar need for a cider hit him anew. He shook his head at the thought. It was the last thing he needed.

He still had a job...barely. But it looks like he used up all of Brisk Iron's leniency in order to hold on to it.

His pay's getting docked. She didn't say by how much, but given how tight things where already...but then maybe if he quit the cider...he may be able to scrounge enough for enough frozen chimicherrychangas. He might be able to find it cheaper if he found it in bulk.

Worries for another day, he supposed. Right now he was just ecstatic that he still had a job left.

He walked over to Amber to see if he could get in on whatever conversation she was in.

"Two agents, Stumped Ivy and Summery Flutters, used the town's poverty against her, paying to hire me to help with a controlled burn. After discovering her involvement with COIN I confronted her and now learning of her situation, returned my pay and came here for help."

"Excellent." Snowy Skies says with a modicum of enthusiasm, following Brisk Iron back into her office. "Do you mind if I stand? I'm having trouble remaining awake."

"Snowy Skies, I'm going to ask you to think long and hard on your actions. COIN may be a band of criminals but that's no reason to act like them to fight them. What I have to go on is mostly opinion but said opinion of you is quite low. Your actions leave those who work with you uneasy and I'm not going to have you making life unpleasant for the rest of the staff."

"Blackmailing a town sounds most heinous. I'll make sure to inquire and question about the presence of such miscreants."

Snowy Skies was concocting a righteously indignant objection, but his curiosity got the better of him. "What haaave you been hearing?" he says, words slurring a little from tiredness. "And hooow dooes that-mix with what you already knew?"

"The 'mix' is that I'm feeling I made a mistake. Instead of a second chance, you should have just stayed in prison. The police are right out there if that's where you'd rather be."

Snowy Skies was just a little too out of it to register the gravity of the threat. "Have you ever been most vulnerable pony in a room, ma'am? Have you ever looked around and realized that if anyone, anyone around you got it into their head to do you harm, you would be helpless to stop them?" He stops, smiling politely, and waits for an answer.

"Yes, I have. It's why I try to make sure I'm around ponies I trust and your current refusal to acknowledge the situation is doing a lot to prevent me from trusting you."

"I figured you had. I'll acknowledge the situation. Being vulnerable? That's my life. You want to hear an account of my actions tonight? I did nothing, literally nothing. I made a bluff. Then I called myself a god, and COIN was foolish enough to believe me. Then I gave a pony a nightmare. Like all nightmares, she'll forget about it within the week. 100% of my actions tonight were smoke and mirrors, and if other ponies choked on the smoke a little, then my apologies, but how else am I supposed to make things believable? And I'm sorry if your rebuke normally carries more weight, but I have been reprimanded by something far bigger than either of us already tonight, in a much more graphic and tactile fashion, so this conversation is as much about informing you as it about informing me."

"I think you gravely underestimate how long nightmares can stick with some ponies. As far as smoke and mirrors, if you can be precise enough to only give one pony a nightmare, then you should be good enough at your craft that others don't need to suffer the smoke. I can't directly punish you since no rules were overtly broken but if it continues that my employees can't do their jobs around you, it's you who'll be removed, not them."

Snowy Skies ruffles his fur as he takes a slow breath, resisting the urge to roll his eyes at the jibe to 'his craft.' She wasn't getting that his craft was performance as much as illusions themselves, and there was nothing he could think of that would educate her otherwise. Resisting the urge to ask what she meant by 'suffer the smoke,' he says "Understood. May I go home? I direly need sleep."

"Yes, you may. Hopefully we'll all be in better moods in the morning."

Brisk Iron walked back out to the exhibit hall where everypony was gathered, "Did anypony else have any questions for me?"

Brisk Iron nodded for Steel Flint to walk over. Held my a magical grasp, the two read it silently. After about a minute, "Well, it's certainly more entertaining than the prev..." "Night Cap, running from the police makes you look guilty or foolish. Or both. You mention that you came upon 'information'. What information was this?"

Willow Wisp took position a few steps behind Night Cap, to both report her problem, and perhaps, prevent Night Cap from his habit of being accused of various misdoings.

"Of course word wasn't spread to the rest of their organization. They were in the frozen north with neither unicorns nor Morse code gear. If they were all arrested, how could they spread the word? Willow Wisp, did you have anything to add?"

"So, Ms. Fantastic - this really has been quite I night, I suppose. Are you still going to be able to make your performance tomorrow evening?"

"Not to Night Cap's story, but I do require aid regarding COIN activity" Said Willow Wisp, "I would prefer we talk about this alone, away from prying ears."

"Very well then." Brisk Iron led Willow Wisp to her office.

Static walks over to Snowie Skies. Looks like I'll have to tighten my belt some, but I've still got a job. How'd your...meeting...go?

"Give it a week, and you may be luckier than I." Snowy Skies says flatly. "But right now I couldn't care less. I just want to settle into bed and doze off. See you tomorrow?"

Sure thing. Static looks around himself taking in the museam. At this point, by the time I get back to my apartment and into bed...it'll be time to wake up and come back again. I wonder if there's a place around here I could just hide away and...maybe the projection booth.

He returns his attention to Snowie Skies. Something Snowies words made Static wonder if it was possible he was in an even worse position than he was. He gave Snowie an encouraging nudge. Hey, let's just try again tomorrow. Who knows, as long as we're here,

Snowy Skies looks at Static and grins. "That's an interesting perspective to have, for someone who was worried they wouldn't be able to look at themselves in the mirror."

I'm not sure how much of that's changed yet, Static admited, but if I'm going to make it through the rest of my life, I've got to hope that it will. Ms. Iron didn't fire us outright. She must have some hope in us. I'd hate to dissapoint...again.

Snowy Skies lets out a short, barking laugh. "Well, ruthless optimism is good to have in any case. And you may yet be right. Good night." He says, heading for the museum exit.

"It is an associate of mine, Veldfire Green, she's the director of parks and recreation in Nightmare Heights. She was pressganged into COIN after coming up short on bits to pay for my assistance in a controlled burn." She continued, "Two agents of COIN, Summery Flutters and Stumped Ivy paid for my assistance in exchange for joining COIN. I returned the bits and told her to keep those in case COIN comes to collect on their favors, but I fear even if they take that payment back, something else will come up and they'll strike again."

Willow Wisp ruffled her wings a bit, a slight uneasy, "After whatever it is happened here, I worry that COIN might start looking for new members."

Static goes off to find his projection booth to get a few hours sleep before his next shift.

Light Fantastic smiled.

"I'll be fine as long as I get a few hours of sleep and down an entire pot of Saddle Arabian coffee before I perform."

"You'll definitely need to give the police this information but I'm also worried about the recruiting practices of COIN. One of my employees was approached earlier today and it was discovered that there were inside infiltrators as well. You also make a valid point that tonight's events, plus the arrests made up north, probably have left COIN wanting for members."

Amber nodded to Light, reassured. "Let's both get some sleep, then. Tomorrow - or today, I suppose," she corrected herself, thinking of the time - "would seem to be another day." She set off for home at an easy pace, feeling more than a little worn down from the day's events. She couldn't help thinking of Steel Flint and the sight of her recouping from her wounds in the Strut room. She understood a bit of the anger she'd seen in the rather caustic Black Night and the unassuming and yet unexpectedly combative Static Signal. She had ultimately enjoyed the adventure of the quest for the Wand, but she hadn't expected COIN to follow her onto her home pasture, and she certainly hadn't been prepared to see her director take a thrashing at their hooves. She let herself decompress over a hot tea, set the dials of her customized alarm clock (a sort of puzzle box itself, to make certain that she was properly awake in the mornings) and curled into bed, her last thought of Rhapsody and wondering where the tough pegasus had ended up. She smiled as she nodded off, reassuring herself that Rhapsody was the one pony she knew could take care of herself and didn't need Amber's protection.



Staff member
Council of Elders
Deep in the land of dreams, Night Cap finds himself in a familiar spot--a mile high path within a gargantuan ravine. Several circular platforms of various sizes connected by solid bridges provide safe passage above a ravine where the bottom is too dark to see. As torches light the way, the gentle scent of chamomile wafts through the air. Nearby he hears a familiar young voice from earlier, "Mister Night Cap?"

Night Cap saw that it was the pegasus filly from Nightmare Heights, "Are you dreaming loudly? Sometimes when I'm asleep, my mommy dreams loudly and my dreams are different."

"I heard somepony crying but...she was also laughing. I started to follow, then I was out here."

The filly climbed onto Night Cap's back, "Thank you. Um, Mister Night Cap, is this what a paleoarchaeoastronomer does?"

Brisk Iron opened the door to her office, "It's been a long night Willow Wisp. I need to see about getting things situated with the ponies who will be here overnight."

After some time, Night Cap soon arrived at a majestic and magnanimously grand city of light. The filly climbed off his back. "I heard the voice coming from there." The filly pointed up.

Light Fantastic gave a deep yawn and stretched her legs.

"Well, I don't know about all of you," she said, "but I think I'm going to go home and crash."

"Where will you go from here, Mister Night Cap?"

"Oh okay. Um, if I can't jump that high, should I fly?"

Amber finds herself cartwheeling her front hooves from a dream that slips out of memory as she tries to focus on it under the rhythmic clanging and shrieking of her alarm. Reaching out with her magic, she groggily slips on her glasses and takes the clock into her hooves, rotating the interlocking disks of its casing until it stops chattering. A quick glance over the newspaper and a couple of cups of Saddle Arabian coffee later, she sets off for the museum.

Before she gets far from her doorstep, Amber Spark is flagged down by one of her neighbors carrying what looks like a soggy envelope.

"Ah, hello,"
Amber says, running through the usual checklist of possible names before giving up utterly. "Thank you," she says, accepting the envelope and looking it over.

Static sees a COIN agent dressed in the same black garb the museum intruders wore. Anger overtook him. The word turned red. In a flurry of action he took down the agent. Only he didn't stop punching. He kept hitting and hitting until he put his rage into one last punch the took off the mask of the agent. Looking at his bloody handy work, he saw his own face on the agent.

Static bolted upright in the projection booth covered in sweat. He looked at the clock. He'd been asleep fore barely half an hour. Heart still racing, he turned over to try to get back to sleep.

Static is dressed up as a COIN agent. He sees himself coming in to punch him. He's down on the floor, beaten and in pain. But the other him just keeps punching. Why oh why won't he stop?

Static wakes up again and looks at the time. He made it 40 minutes. Better at least.

He wasn't going to get any sleep worth having. He knew a place he could get an early breakfast. It was a dive were pastries were days old...and pretty awful even the day they were made. The coffee was sludge...worse than even the bottom shelf stuff he bought himself . But it was affordable. He just hoped the health inspector hadn't closed it down again.

He leaves the projection booth and heads for the museum exit.



Staff member
Council of Elders
Fast asleep, Light Fantastic dreamed of a wonderful performance. A wondrous dance that would make a true princess of Anugypt jealous. Yet, there were none around her. The music kept playing as the air grew dry and warm. As far as the eye could see, there was nothing but sand.

Light Fantastic was then awoken by the alarm. There was a lingering feeling of dread like she had been experiencing the past several days.

"It must have gotten lost in the mail. They delivered it to my address and considering the sogginess, they probably misplaced it before that." Looking at the writing, Amber could easily tell who it was from. Inside the envelope the letter read:


Static Signal headed for the museum exit only to find it locked. Then he hears,
"Good morning. I assume that slumber and sleep has eluded you?"

Snowy Skies bolted awake, the covers almost frozen to his coat by sweat. He threw the covers off and opened the curtains. It was a little after dawn, and he had slept for a while, but he was certainly not falling asleep again tonight. All the better. Now that he was thinking properly, he could tell that he needed to think, and make certain he hadn't missed anything from the nights events. He walked to his closet and opened it, looking at the sparse two items inside. One was a perfectly laundered and pressed tuxedo, which he supposed he would be wearing to the dance performance tonight, and the other was a cello made of dark, sleek, wood, taller than him, leaning upright against a stand.

As the others awoke, Night Cap continued in the land of dreams. "I'm not scared. Well...maybe a little." The filly then climbed onto onto his back again.


Static turned to see Tangerine Sands. "Not completely. I figure I got at good hour...total."Static sighed. "I was headed towards a cafeteria for breakfast. I...would invite you along, but you were far kinder to me last night than I deserved and I'd hate to repay that kindness by subjecting you to the places I go for food.

Snowy Skies pulls the cello gently out of the closet, inhaling the comforting scent of wood lacquer that accompanied the ‘gentle repose’ spell favored by woodworkers for keeping their creations fresh, and grabbed the bow with his magic. He put the bow to the strings, let his heart set the beat, and began to play Ponybel's Canon.

Ponybel's Canon is normally the bane of cello players. The swelling, gorgeous orchestra piece spends the entire song making the cellos lay the baseline, the backbone on which every beautiful curlicue of music is lain, by playing the same two notes over and over and over again. It’s just A, D, A, D, A, D, A, D, A, D...But for Snowy Skies, it was the perfect song. The part of his brain that was always looking, searching, hooking onto details like the grain of a wood or the whorl of someone’s mane, went quiet when he played music. And in that blissful calm, he could slowly, rationally, piece together the night’s events, from a radically different perspective.

A, D, A, D, A, D, A, D, A, D...The obvious starting place was the icicle that had nailed him after his illusion of life. It was probably unrelated to his dream, considering he’d had the dream before. If he keeps up this emotional state of mind, they'll find him. That was perhaps the one certainty of the night. But which emotional state were they talking about? He’d spent many years giving small regard to the ponies around him, and even less to those who attacked him. Nothing about that had changed last night. His story had, perhaps, been excessively cruel, he admitted. He had personally come to terms with that by living the story himself, alongside his target, but perhaps that was not enough for whatever cosmic power his pursuers answered to. In any case, casting the illusion of life, in any form, was clearly too dangerous, except in extreme emergencies. Nightmare was in the same boat, certainly, and Maze was probably too risky. How frustrating. He had spent years honing his sole talent, illusions, into a proper weapon, more than the stuff of party tricks and bluffs. He had thought that he was finally able to protect himself from anyone who could threaten him. And now some grand Divine Iceberg from on high was coming down to tell him nope, you’re back where you started. You can make it look like you’re wearing armor made of knives, but that won’t stop some fool from bashing you with something blunt and heavy. You can make it look like you’re made of fire, but it won’t mean a thing against the freezing cold. He was, once more, a unicorn without magic.

A, D, A, D, A, D, A, D, A, D...Perhaps even more worrisome than the new ruling from his grand Divine Iceberg was what had happened under the thau...tamacer…the dinosaur’s skeleton. When he collapsed, he'd lost sight of the difference between reality and illusion. He closed his eyes, and he saw the line in his head, inscrutable, thrumming along in time with his heart (and, by extension, the two chords of the Canon he was playing). This was his line between the real and the imaginary. To lose it was to lose everything meaningful about life. And he had lost, for an immeasurable amount of time. Given that the chase was still going when he resurfaced from the rubble, he had probably not been gone long, but the fact was that he did not know how long he had ceased to exist in the real world. This alone was probably enough to outlaw the use of Nightmare and the Illusion of Life, really. Even the Illusion of Safety suddenly seemed sinister. He would have to be very, very, careful about what he casted and when he casted it.

A, D, A, D, A, D, A, D, A, D...Brisk Iron had threatened to throw him back in jail last night. She’d certainly do it, though he wished he understood what she was receiving complaints about. Were ponies really that horrified by the bacon golem? Literally all he had done that night that should have been noticeable to Steel Flint was lie to COIN, over and over again. Everything else took place well beyond her or anyone else’s sensory realm. Perhaps those unseeable things were a touch unsavory, but he had already discussed that, both with Brisk Iron and himself. Still, the threat was real. He thought about his life here, the collection of instruments he had, the poutine supplies, the central heating…the harp in the store window he had been saving for, with the blue inlay and the swan’s head. He liked his life here, as dangerous as it could be to admit that. He didn't want to go back to jail. So he supposed he would have to play strictly by the rules…whatever those rules were right now. Maybe he should ask Brisk Iron. He was going to have to ask Brisk Iron. Perhaps he could open with an apology, Brisk Iron seemed like the sort of pony who liked it when things went the way she expected them ...

A, D, A, D, A, D, A, D, A, D...At least part of playing by the rules meant participating in more events like those of last night. Given that every proper weapon he had concocted in the last few years was gone, he needed something new. He opened his eyes and looked at the cello in front of him, still mechanically playing the same two notes. He really only had two skills. It went against most of what he still believed in to use a musical instrument as a weapon, but if his other talent was denied to him, then perhaps he had no choice. He experimentally inserted a quarter note into the rhythm, a screeching, high C sharp, before resuming his baseline. It put his teeth on edge, certainly, but what else could he do with it? He would have to investigate.

A, D, A, D, A, D, A, D, A, D...his laugh, at the end of the night, was quite interesting. It was fascinating because it wasn't a chuckle, or a giggle, or any of the numerous fake laughs he knew how to bring out. It was his real laugh, and he hadn't heard it in years. Static Signal had brought a real laugh out of him, at his most exhausted and miserable. He was a good pony, with a good heart in his chest. This was not particularly out of line with his apparent rage issues. After all, you needed to really care about something to get dangerously angry. Something about him, perhaps his persistent optimism, or his commitment to pleasing Brisk Iron and doing the right thing, was refreshing. He was…hard to malign, which was very rare. He wasn't just interesting, he was nice to be around. And from the sound of it, he needed a confidante, so there wasn't a better time to get to know him. Perhaps Static would be a good influence on him.

A, D, A, D, A, D, A, D, A, D...Light Fantastic was quite beautiful.

Snowy Skies abruptly opened his eyes. That was enough introspection for one morning. He checked the clock. He had, in fact, overstayed his welcome. He should have left a few minutes ago. He shoved the cello back into the closet, threw the tuxedo into a small box, strapped the box and his smallest viola case to his back, grabbed a banana from the counter, and dashed off to work, feeling very light. But maybe that was the lack of sleep.



Staff member
Council of Elders
"Toni?" Amber mused aloud. This is perfectly capital. "Thank you very much," she nodded to her neighbor, slipping the letter into her saddlebag and taking a moment to arrange things so that its damp wouldn't contaminate her notebooks. But who to invite? She may as well invite Mr. Signal. It would be an appropriate welcome to his new job with the Keep. And would Mr. Cap be in attendance?

Tangerine Sands seemed amused by Static's comment, "It can't be all that bad and horrible. And if it is, well...I could always tell the police, couldn't I?"

"That was like falling...up." The filly seemed confused but otherwise attentive.

Rhapsody was never what one could be called a morning pony, if that wasn't evident enough between her two jobs. It had been a long night for her, and Brisk Iron hadn't put her in the best of moods either. It was the detestable alarm that had woken up her and Tyberious. She grumbles and without looking smack the clock with her hoof sending it promptly into the wall where it lands in a pile of bent metal and broken gears... Its loss didn't bother her, as she rolled back over in her bed as by this point she just bought the stupid things in bulk. Surely a few more minutes of sleep wouldn't hurt, not like she was looking forward to facing Brisk again this morning anyway.

Static winced at the thought. "It...wouldn't be the first time it's been shut down," Static commented. And since they kinda know me by name there, I'd hate to be the one who brings them down this time. Besides, it's one of the few places I can afford. Static sighed. Well, here's hoping we catch him on a good day.

Static led Tangerine Sands down the street. The cafe wasn't far from the museum, just a few blocks. From the outside, it looked like a perfectly fine mom and pop diner. There were several such businesses that lined the street.

But the moment the two walked in, any thought of it being a respectable establishment flew out of Tangerine's mind. The tables looked like they hadn't been wiped down...let alone cleaned...in...well...ever. You could see the owner working the grill in back.

He was a brown colored stallion with a black mane and an eyepatch over his right eye. You couldn't tell how much of the black was the actual color of the mane or if it was just a bunch of piled on soot from the grill. Grease splatters obscured the entirety of the "stainless" steel grill and most of the walls. The lighting was so dim, Tangerine had to figure Static got more light in his projector booth.

The stallion came out of the kitchen and let out a cross between a laugh and a sustained scoff. Hey, Stasi, you old feather chaser! Pony feathers, son! You look like a griffon dragged you through your momma's barn yard. What happened?

Static returned the stallions grin. "Visited your sister at the stallions club, Skivey! She was a lot more gentle this time."

Skivey Dives snorted in response. What'll it be, coffee or cider?

"Coffee...lots of coffee...and the special...two of them"

A few moments later, Skivey brought the "coffee." It tasted more like water and chicory with barely enough coffee in it for coloring. The sandwhich looked edible enough, though Tangerine Sands dreaded to even think what he would see if he actually had a good look at the kitchen.

Tangerine Sands' expression was one of deep regret and sorrow,
"No wonder you were in such a foul and ill mood. I ought to simply threaten last night's miscreants with a taste of this and I'm sure it would set them straight. Reporting this would cause undue hazard to the police force. I don't want to demean and insult the chef at his craft but his craft has about as much tact as trying to sew with a battle axe." There was a long pause. "I can't let you eat this. I'll pa! y for it since it's already been ordered but it would be against principles to allow this continue. How long have you been eating here? And don't worry about negative reactions. The only pony who should be able to hear me right now is you."

As they walked into the room, a cheerful mare behind the desk greeted them, "Hello Night Cap. Need some help?"

Static winced. It may not be much, but it was still a regular hang out of his. Since I moved here...a few months I guess? I mean, it's not all the time, just occasionally when I need something different from those Flim Flam Frozen Chimicherrychangas. It's not so bad. It's...what I'm used to. I'd honestly be afraid to eat what you might call decent food. I'd probably get spoiled by it and start wanting it all the time.

Snowy Skies deposits his banana in the trash and his gear in the break room, heading for Brisk Iron's office. Though not as bouncy as normal, he does seem to be in a good mood. Arriving in the back depths of the keep, he gently knocks on the Director's door.


Light Fantastic awoke the next morning and slowly crawled out of her bed.

She shook her head to clear the thoughts of that dream she had had the night before. Today was the day of her big performance, and she didn't need anything to distract from the task ahead of her. Nothing that a cup of Saddle Arabian coffee couldn't fix.

"Oh, Saddle Arabian coffee," she muttered, "how I love thee."

As she meandered to the coffee pot, she meticulously went over the steps she would have to do for her performance.

It was a beautifully blissful day outside. Just as Light Fantastic reached her coffee pot, there was a loud knock on her door, "Ms Fantastic, are you home?"

From inside the office, Snowy Skies heard,
"You may enter."

Tangerine Sands shook his head,
"I guess there's something to be said for camaraderie but if only in was joined and accompanied by quality. I don't eat out that much and prefer cooking. I'm not suggesting you suddenly try to become a master chef but small changes can result in big changes over time. It just seems odd that..." He thought for just a moment, "Never mind. It's none of my business. Do you have any outside hobbies or recreation?"

"Double Z tends to come and go but she doesn't stay here. Did see her a few hours ago. Headed up to the roof and I don't think she's been back down. The filly then spoke up, "Yeah, the lady mentioned something about a zig zag. It was like she was talking to herself."

That was her voice, certainly. Snowy Skies gently opened the door and entered the room, looking very composed. "I have a few things I'd like to say and request, director."

Hobbies or recreation? Static really hadn't considered it. He worked, went home, drank cider and went to bed. And even that much he was thinking he was going to have to quit. But if Tangerine Sands was horrified by the places he ate, Static sure wasn't too keen on letting on that he was a drunkard.

Still...he guessed there was no sense in holding back now.

"My life outside of work? It...mostly centers around the contents of my fridge...contents I think I'm better off throwing out the moment I get back home." Certainly vague, but he was having a tough time simply coming out and saying "Mr. Sands, I'm an alcoholic." Besides, Sands seemed to be rather perceptive. Static was certain he not only picked up on his meaning...but probably figured out far more about his life than he cared to let on simply by reading between the lines.

Light Fantastic turned towards the door.

"Come in!" she called. "The door's open!"



Staff member
Council of Elders
After an uneventful sleep, Rhapsody wakes up close to an hour later then she wanted, thanks to Tyberious' persistent pestering. "Oh, yes Tyberious. I SO don't want to be late for my scolding by Brisk Iron." She grumbles with a roll of her eyes as she gets dressed, before going down stairs and waving a quick breakfast of apple-cinnamon oatmeal. Once basic needs are out of the way she heads out towards the museum, not in any real rush to get to work.

The museum seemed to have fallen back into its usual pace as Amber arrived. It was hard for her to reconcile that this was the same museum she left only hours before after an intense battle with COIN. Their intrusion had transformed her home turf into ... something else, and she couldn't help feeling a bit uneasy as she trotted into the break room to fetch her third cup of coffee for the day and back to her office to continue working with her bibliographic survey of the Llamayan calendar.

Her focus wasn't quite where she wanted it. She caught herself lingering and mulling over individual words and statements in the papers spread over her desk. She would need to catch up with Rhapsody today - she hadn't had the nerve to ask her friend and teammate to the performance tonight, and Rhapsody's ticket was still in her saddlebag with Amber's own, along with the two from Toni. Suddenly, she realized that she would need to repeat the performance of asking - but who to invite? Ms. Steel came rapidly to mind, but as much as Amber respected the sharp-eyed unicorn, she had always been uneasy about inviting her into her own personal life; it seemed somehow inappropriate. And Mr. Signal - Amber felt the need to welcome him properly into STOMP, but wasn't sure whether a dance and musical recital would really be to his tastes. And then there was the little earth pony, Night Cap....

She'd simply have to ask them all. Surely one of them would turn down the ticket for one or another of these very good reasons, and everything would work smoothly from there.

Night Wings cautiously entered, "Sorry to disturb your morning. While I was originally going to meet with you later, something of concern popped up. After we managed to get the suit off of the runner you captured, we found that it was Double Dusk, the extreme sports star. Upon questioning her and performing some magical tests, all signs point towards some sort of magical hypnotism. With that in mind, the police let her go. I'm hoping the police made the right decision but I'm also going to be watching to make sure COIN doesn't try anything funny tonight at your performance."

Brisk Iron arched an eyebrow, "It seems odd to walk in making requests but I'll hear you out. Said requests may not be approved, however."

"Speaking of your home, the police are actively watching and monitoring it in case Dazzling Midnight returns. There's something bothering me about this whole COIN situation and I can't place just what it is." Tangerine Sands sighed, "When you're finished with your...food...you may want to see about speaking and talking with one of the Keep's accountants. Just to make sure you aren't missing something from your paycheck."

While Amber Spark was hard at work, Steel Flint walked in, "How are you holding up?"

As if on cue, a lift arrived on that floor. As Night Cap and the filly rode up, the air grew increasingly warm and dry. It suddenly stopped a few floors from the top and wouldn't go any higher.


"Reasonably well, considering circumstances, ma'am," Amber said. "I think you'll understand that it is no small thing for me to say that I'm finding myself having some difficulty concentrating." Amber looked over the papers on her desk and straightened one pile with her magic, tapping it against the table to straighten the pages. "I wouldn't have expected that seeing COIN here -" and one of the ponies I most respect beaten and bleeding in the exhibition hall "would unsettle me as much as it has."

Amber paused. "I imagine that everypony is going to need some time and stimulation to settle back into the rhythm of things. It occurred to me, ma'am - well, I've just received an additional pair of tickets to the recital tonight, and I - I was curious if perhaps you," she said, trailing off and watching for signs of Ms. Flint's reaction.

Steel Flint chuckled, "Did Brisk put you up to this? I respect the skill ballet requires but unlike her, I simply can't get into it."

"N-no ma'am," Amber said. "I simply thought it would be good for the team to unwind a bit, ma'am, after last night - I intended to invite Rhapsody, and I thought perhaps the new projectionist, Mr. Signal, might be interested...?"

"Inviting Mr. Signal sounds like a most capital idea for getting him acquainted with current staff. And actually...if you're needing something to do, would you mind running a small errand?"

My paycheck? Static asked curiously. Oh, well, Ms. Iron already told me she was docking it. Not sure how much or for how long...but...I can't really complain. After last night I'm just thankful to still be getting a paycheck at all.

As far as Dazzling Midnight...I'm not quite sure what to expect from her. He admitted. She knew far more about me than I find comfortable. What if she found out that I sold them out last night and isn't even planning on showing up? Or maybe she'll just find me on my way home and...
Static shuddered. I don't know why. After last night, it seems like I shouldn't be afraid of Dazzing Midnight any more. It seems I can take care of myself better than I realised. Yet for some reason...that mare just scares the Tartarus out of me.

"Ye - no, ma'am,"
Amber said, "What would you like me to do?"



Staff member
Council of Elders
"Not knowing how much or how long is a problem. That's the kind of thing you should always ask and inquire for clarification on the spot. Brisk Iron may be fair but a more unsavory boss could have shortchanged you. Simply asking is well within your rights. As far as Dazzling Midnight, I'm sure that miscreant will be properly handled."

"I haven't seen Zig Zag at work today. I was wondering if you could stop by her house and see if she's feeling okay."

Night Cap waited and waited. Oddly, the lift didn't start back up.

Static shrugged. I suppose I can check with accounting to make sure nothings missing above what I'm being docked. COIN would have to be pretty petty to steal from a simple projectionists paycheck...but then...after last night I guess I can't really put anything past them. I'll check as soon as my movies are over this afternoon.

Static checked the clock. Speaking of, I guess I should make my way back.

Static stood to leave, but turned back to Tangerine. Last night, COIN really had my head turned around, not knowing who to trust. I'm...sorry. I severely misjudged you. I'm glad I was wrong though.

Static left to go back to the museum.

"It's not exactly a typical request." Snowy Skies says, taking a deep breath. "I did some...unsavory things last night. The worst of them will never be done by me again, for my sake and for the sake of those around me. However, if I was doing said worst things correctly, no one in the room that reports to you should have been aware that I was doing them. Which means you are...disappointed in me...for entirely different actions. Given that I am taking your threats of reimprisonment seriously, I would like to request exact knowledge of what I'm not supposed to be doing."


The wounderful thing about being a pegasus, is that even when running late, one could always make up a lot of that time. Rhapsody, certainly wasn't the fastest flier around, but she was far from a sloth either. With the right currents, she could easily make up a majority of her lateness. The morning sun's glare was annoying, and she ponders maybe looking into some sunglasses or something for any time she's out before noon like she is today. By time she arrives at the steps of the Keep, she's only taken about 15 minutes of flying time.

Things remained quiet until Night Cap felt like he was suddenly and sharply pulled through time and space. He felt like he went upwards but the place he wound up did not seem like the roof of a building. As far as his eyes could see was a sea of sand. However, off in the distance he could hear a voice crying. And yet, off in the distance he could hear that voice laughing.

Brisk Iron's posture slightly adjusted,
"Steel Flint has knowledge of why you're here. She initially found your bacon golem distateful but would have let it slide if not for what followed. She, or really any of us, could not have known what was truly done to those COIN agents. However, she did see the pegasus' reaction. I'm not going into details but Ms. Flint has had...a terrifying experience in the past. While not the same circumstances, she related to what was supposed to be the enemy. She finds you terrifying and if those I trust feel they can't work with you, then I can't either. The whole problem is that of not knowing."

As Static Signal entered the documents department, Ready Quill approached him,
"Hey-and-a-wonderful-morning-to-you. So-how-did-the-equipment-hold-up-last-night?"


Amber shuffled her piles one last time, sorting them into a neat and orderly stack, ready to be picked up where she left off, with a quiet sigh at not being able to do much for them now. "Yes, ma'am, of course," she said. "Where does Ms. Zag live?"

"Hm. I feel as though I should be moderately offended that my work wasn't original enough." Snowy Skies says, focused intently on the corner of a desk. He looks up abruptly and says "I don't really have much to offer in that respect except that I won't be casting that particular spell again, and if anyone thinks it might help I can write up exactly what I did."

"I don't have her address directly memorized but I know Hazel Naught is her neighbor. So you two could go together." Steel Flint said in a rather matter-of-fact tone.

Rhapsody arrived to find Brisk Iron's door closed.

Brisk Iron shook her head, "I don't think details would help. For the moment, I'll mostly keep the two of you in separate situations. She's not incapable of changing her mind but trust is hard to gain."

"I didn't think it would either, I just figured you should know the information was available." Snowy Skies turns to the door, but stops and slowly turns around, looking quite sheepish. "I have second, much more preposterous request. The dance recital tonight...well, I was unaware of it until yesterday, so I don't have a ticket, and given the...prestige...of the show, it seems unlikely that I could afford one anyways...so in any case I was planning to attend as you. Given my new propensity for following rules to the letter, this seems unwise. What advice can you give me about procuring a reasonably-priced ticket?"

This honesty thing was working out really, really, well. He probably seemed less dangerous now than he ever had before.

Brisk Iron arched an eyebrow, then pulled a ticket out of her desk,
"I plan on attending so going as me is unwise. Otherwise, don't do anything I wouldn't do. The seat itself is near the back."

Snowy Skies blinks in stunned surprise. He was supposed to be good at suppressing that sort of thing, but today was quickly becoming an off day for him. "I wasn't exactly intending to remain as you the entire time. Once you're inside people tend to assume you have a valid ticket. But, well, thank you. I'm going to go tend to the dinosaur that almost killed me last night." He takes the ticket and hastily opens the door.




Staff member
Council of Elders
Amber blinked. "Hazel Naught?" she echoed. "Yes, yes ma'am, I'll go and find her. Thank you, ma'am." Amber stepped out of the office, holding the door for Ms. Flint to exit, and silently cursing her luck to be required to interact with the accountant again so soon.

Worked like a dream, thank you. Static told Ready Quill. The Morse Code device really helped coordinating things and that projector...I can't believe how fabulously it worked. Bluffed a couple COIN opperatives into running away just by using that alone. Thanks for letting me use it. He hands the equipment back over to Quill. If I ever get put on another mission like that again, I'd love to be able to use it again if I may.

Amber found her way to the accounting department and rapped on the door to Ms. Naught's office. "Ms. Naught? Steel Flint sent me to speak with you," she said.

There was a rattle behind the latch and then Hazel Naught opened the door. "Hello there Ms. Spark. Your presence here is new. How may I help you?"

As Snowy Skies reach the exhibit hall with the damaged fossil, he saw Dusty Winds and several janitors trying to clean up the mess, "Oh hey, Snowy. You get assigned to this too?"

Ready Quill beamed, "Glad-to-know-everything-worked-like-a-charm. If-you're-so-eager-to-try-it-out-again-I-just-might-have-the-job-for-you. Considering-the-historic-worth-of-the-Anugypt-Strut-how-would-you-like-to-record-tonight's-ballet? I-don't-have-any-tickets-but-I'm-sure-there-might-be-some-coworkers-with-spares."

Night Cap's jog felt like it took an eternity. However, the voices grew louder as he got closer. His steps in the sand grew...rhythmic.


Rhapsody makes her way slowly through the museum, which seems oodly quiet this morning after so much commontion last night, she had expect there to still be more hustle in trying to settle things then there was. She passes by the fallen fosil, seeing it cordoned off, and several ponies attended to it, though otherwise thing seem rather uneventful for her this morning. She had thought for sure she would have seen Amber who had seemed rather concerned for her well being last night, or somepony else, maybe they're just not around yet. She knocks on Brisk's door as she arrives.

From behind the door, Rhapsody heard, "You may enter."

With an outpouring of speed, Night Cap soon saw a cage made of sand in the distance that was surrounded by four towers. Within the cage sat Zig Zag.

Rhapsody Enters.

Static grinned. Any chance to use this equipment sounded great to him. but then he frowned. "There's...a lot of ifs there." he said. "I'd have to finds someone with an extra ticket...and..."Dazzling Midnight in his apartment was still an issue. And there's another...issue...that needs to be wrapped up before the show even if I can find a ticket. But if I can...I would absolutely love any chance to give this stuff a whirl again.

Snowy Skies bounces a little into the air, not achieving the most graceful of landings. "Right. I forgot to check the assignment board. I bet I'm here, but I'm going to go check that." He shoots off in the direction of the locker room and assignment board.

How long until playing by the letter drove him mad? A week? Less?

"If you have no questions, Ms. Fantastic, I'll be escorting you to the recital."

"Good morning, Rhapsody. I think time away from last night's events may lead to cooler heads. I'll go first in stating that I made a mistake in not telling any members of the STOMP team, nor Steel Flint, that the Sword of Shining Dark was a replica. While I was worried about information leaks, I didn't inform those who needed to make critical decisions. What worries, if not terrifies, me is that it seems like you would have more than! gladly jumped at a chance to use the sword if it was real. You were brought on as an astronomer and intellectual who happens to spend her free time valiantly fighting crime, not as a reckless vigilante who coincidentally has a little bit of book smarts. The latter makes you the most dangerous member of the team by far."

"Well-just-let-me-know-if-it-looks-like-you-can. But-no-need-for-me-to-hold-you-up-since-I-know-you-have-work-to-do."



Staff member
Council of Elders
Rhapsody huffs as she looks to you. "As I said said last night: Silent Belle was not fooled by Static's illusion, and had little fear of Black Night in general. She was already right next to the display; with a sonic device of unknown purpose. Amber was blind without her glasses, and Static seemed like he an aloof projectionist that was way out of league... until he started to fight shortly after I made my move. During that moment, I acted on the information I had: COIN had an agent seemingly capable of getting the sword, a civilian out of his league that didn't look like he could take a punch, and the most powerful of us se! verely handicapped. The quickest route to trying to protect all your assets was the sword. If it meant saving two lives and keeping the sword in our hooves, I was willing to take the risk."

She states and looks away. "I can be reckless. but that's not always bad thing: being too cautious can be equally as dangerous in my experiences, makes you slow to react and second guess yourself and there isn't always time for that." Her voice is sorrowful, and a bit distance as she speaks on this. "Either path, you've got to to be willing to trust those around you if it goes wrong; and I trust..." she pauses for only briefest of moments. "Most of the STOMP team." There being currently only one exception to that. "If something had happened, I have faith that they'd either get through to me or been able to take me down."

The black pegasus's steely gaze returns to Brisk. "I told you last night that I accept full responsibility for my actions, that hasn't changed. You want to reprimand me, or kick me off the team, go ahead."

"Y-Yes, ma'am, I suppose that is true, ma'am," Amber said, suddenly very uneasy. "I apologize for my behavior yesterday, ma'am. I understand that the Keep's budgeting process is very important, ma'am, given the expense of much of the good work we do - a bit saved is a bit earned, correct?" Amber paused. "Ms. Flint suggested that I should check in with Zig Zag at her home - she failed to report this morning, ma'am, and we became concerned. Ms. Flint suggested that you knew where she lived, so she sent me to speak with you, ma'am."

Light Fantastic smiled at Night Wings.

"Thank you for the update," she said, "I would be delighted to have an escort."

Static gave a polite nod to Ready Quill. If at all possible, I hope to be there. I'm not usually one for musicals, but it seems to be all everyone's talking about and I actually met one of the cast members briefly last night. So...here's hoping.

Static took his leave and went into the projection both. Looking down the film schedule, he went to the film library, took out the film noted on the schedule and threaded the projectors for the first two reels. At the prescribed time, he started the movie and set an silent timer for when to start the next reel.

Once the movie was rolling, this was when he had a lot of time to think to himself. Usually it was a dull time where he'd just zone out and wait, bored out of his mind.

But today was different. He had more than just looking forward to the next cider to pass his time. Today he actually had a lot on his mind and was grateful for the time he had to think about it. He thought about his apartment layout and how best to position the police so Dazzling Midnight wouldn't see them until the trap was sprung. He thought about Amber, Snowie Skies, Black Night and that curious little fellow...Night Cap? Yeah, that was his name. He'd never met a dream stepper...or whatever they were called...before.

Then of course he thought about Anchors Away...but tried to shake that image out of his head completely. She barely even knew he existed yesterday. Once she learned of his...indiscretion...she'd probably absolutely hate him.

Still...with all the friends he did manage to make last night...he was kinda hoping one of them might actually pop in while the film was running. He certainly wouldn't mind the diversion.

"I was wondering if Zig Zag was on vacation. I do believe she's never missed a day of work. Well, I was just finishing up some tax work for some new employees so I have the time to take you. Were you already ready or did you have anything to settle away before we set out?"

Brisk Iron sighed, "I would really rather NOT have to remove you from the team. My worry is having to tell any surviving family members that you didn't make it back from a mission, especially i! f it's preventable. I've had to do it before and it's not pleasant. Many of these artifacts are dangerous on their own without COIN complicating matters.

I don't want to make this solely about reprimands so I have a favor to ask if you're willing. I would like for you to watch over Light Fantastic today. Something's bugging me about last night and I can't quite place my hoof on it. I hate that. I'm sure she won't mind if you tell her and if COIN tries anything funny during the ballet, or before since there's a charity dinner, there'll be somepony there that can handle things. I don't have any more tickets for the ballet itself but I do have a spare ticket for the charity dinner."

As the movie continued to play, Static Signal could hear somepony walk in. Sitting in one of the seats and intently watching the movie was Anchors Away.

The trip for Light Fantastic was mostly uneventful. As she arrived, she was hounded by the press but it was nothing she hadn't dealt with before. As she entered, several stared at Night Wings. "Is there a preferred place I should be? Wouldn't want to make your associates too uncomfortable."

As Snowy Skies arrived at the assignment board, he found that he was indeed scheduled for cleaning up the destroyed fossil replica.

There was a look of fear and panic in Zig Zag's eyes when she looked at Night Cap. She spoke but there was also another voice interlaced with hers:

"What are you doing?
Silly pony who does not run.
Ancient past has been summoned!
It looks like I shall have some fun.
Go tell Brisk Iron!"



Staff member
Council of Elders
"What an excellent way to waste time this has been," Snowy Skies mutters, stowing his ticket next to the tuxedo in his locker before hurrying back to the wrecked exhibit. "So where do you want me?" He asks Dusty, looking at the wreckage and trying to pick out the exact point he had climbed out of. It was fake, he realized, now that he was looking at it from a calmer perspective...which explained the lack of bone splinters in his coat, and produced a pleasant bit of alliteration. "What are we doing with the wrecked replica?" He reiterates, smiling subtly.

Rhapsody nods some. "Yes, and if I do my job, you won't have to worry about that for any pony." She replies calmly, like their discussion during the mission for the wand, the black pegasus still sees it as her duty to protect everypony around her. She nods at the request. "If you are sure you want someone as reckless as me on the job, then I am willing to do so." She replies with a soft grin. "Though before I can get to the theater I have an errand of my own to run; Black Night should check in with her police contact abo! ut last night, and probably give a heads up about the possibility of something happening at the performance tonight. Having them be on more guard should hopefully decrease the amount of trouble we have."

Static looked to see if anypony else was watching the movie. Shocker! He was playing the movie to nopony...except Anchors of course. Like many of the movies he played, he almost felt like he was getting paid to do nothing. Still, that meant he wouldn't be really interrupting if he...

He tapped on the glass to get Anchors' attention. When she looked up to see him, he waved her up.

Light Fantastic gave a shrug.

"You can wander around if you like," she said, "If any asks, just tell them that I personally invited you. Now, I must prepare."

With a flick of her neon mane, she trotted off to her dressing room.

"Makes sense on the police contact. I'll just note all this as an errand for me and that should smooth things over with payroll."

Anchors Away seemed a little confused at first, then it seemed to dawn on her and she left her seat. After a few minutes, Static Signal heard a knock on the projection room door.

When Light Fantastic arrived in her dressing room, she found that the seamstress had made the final adjustments and to the recreation of the garments worn by an ancient Anugypt Princess.

Dusty Winds pointed to a diagram, "We're checking to see if anything is missing or broken. After that, we gotta put it back together."

A laugh echoed throughout the air. Instead of coming from Zig Zag, a voice surrounded Night Cap,

"Pitiful fool who will not shoo,
I have to ask, what will you do?

"Repair the wrecked replica, based on this...replicate." Snowy Skies frowns. Not the roll he was hoping for. "Got it." He picks up a bone and compares it to the diagram.




Staff member
Council of Elders
Static opened the door and let Anchors in. It occurred to him just then that he didn't really wasn't sure what to say.

He waved her up because he thought maybe she had something to say. But now that he did wave her up, it became up to him to start the conversation.

And honestly...what was he going to say? What could he say? If she hadn't heard about last night, did he really want to start off with a conversation about how he...

And if she did know about last night, was he just going to start off with a riffling off of excuses.

Didn't matter anyway. He found the cat had his tongue...again. The best he could manage was an awkard smile, wave and Umm...hello!

Light Fantastic eyes lit up at her outfit for her performance.

"I love it!" she squealed to no one in particular, "I'm going to have to give the seamstress a bonus for this."

"Alright, so far it looks like nothing's missing and the damage is just small dents a real fossil might have picked up over time so we should be good. We'll be mounting these on support braces, then lifting the braces."


Anchors Away happily smiled, "Hello! Really wish they'd get a better narrator for these movies. If it weren't for the topic, I'd be bored. Coral is pretty."

As she marveled over the dress, Light Fantastic could hear a knock on her dressing room door.

The sand cage rose up to form a tower as the voice continued,

"Your mind shudders and trembles with fear,
Should memory of you be sincere?

Oh! Static said with a wince. You really were watching...I'm sorry. I thought...well...never mind what I thought. I guess thinking isn't one of my strong suits.

I just...I know we only met briefly yesterday. I just...you seemed like an interesting pony to get to know and when I saw you in the theatre just now, I just...I just wanted to get to know you better, I suppose. Maybe have a conversation where I didn't wind up embarassing myself...which...doesn't seem to be working out that way right now. I didn't mean to interrupt you.

But...you know...if you actually like the films, if you want to come by some time after work...I mean, tonight probably wouldn't be good because, you know...COIN operatives in my apartment being arrested, possibly Light Fantastic's performance...if I can find a ticket somewhere...

But maybe some night, after work, I can set you up with your own personal matinee. The museam has a decent sized collection of films on the coral, seaponies and other aquatic life.

Handling the bones by hoof was cumbersome, but not complicated. It gave Snowy Skies a few moments to dwell on what else he was going to do with his day. He did need to talk to Steel Flint, it seemed. He supposed she would appreciate brevity from him, whatever got him out of the room fastest. He would work on that. There was little else to do with respect to last night, wasn't there? Light Fantastic hopefully still had a neutral opinion of him. He didn't particularly care what Amber Spark thought of him. Static...wait. That was wrong. Something about Amber's quiet distaste for him irked him. How odd, given that he could brush of Steel Flint's open disgust. He would have to worry about that--

A little too lost in his thoughts, his hoof slipped, and a bone fell towards the floor. He instinctively grabbed it with his magic, flinching at forcing such a sudden deceleration...


"Come in!" called Light Fantastic.

Things seemed fine at first but when Snowy Skies went to move a larger piece into place, the whole thing came crashing down and several pieces cracked. A few of the other janitors glared at him. "*sigh* Looks like they aren't going to be stable enough to put back up. This hall is going to be closed off while another replica is made. For the moment, we're gonna have to clean all this up."

Anchors Away blinked in mild confusion, "I wouldn't want you to go to a ton of extra trouble. Besides, how would we get in after hours?"

Silky Double-Time walked into the room, "That dress looks magnificent! I don't know how your tailor does it."


The silent timer started to go off. Static walked over to the projector, motioning Anchors to come in. There's usually about an hour between the end of my last movie for the day and when the museum starts to close. He started the second projector and switched over so that the second reel was showing. It's usually time I use to clean up and get things ready for the next day. He put the old reel on the auto-rewinder and started it rewinding. But...and this is just between you and me...having learned to multi-task some of my errands, I can usually get things wrapped up in about 15-20 minutes. He set the silent timer and threaded the next reel in line. That still leaves plenty of time for one of the shorter vignettes. He comes back over to face Anchors. Which may be for the better, honestly. You still get some pretty great photage, a general overview of the subject matter...but you don't have to listen to the same narrator drone on for so long.

Like I said, tonight's kinda bad...but if some night...it's up to you.

Light Fantastic gave a little twirl, and grinned at Silky.

"She most certainly does," she said.

"Your bluff lacks power for it to reap,
What will you do when no longer...

The outskirts of Night Cap's mind hear a shrill note that results in him waking. He finds himself in the middle lying of the floor of a large, empty storage room. A stallion looks on, unammused. The same stallion who gave him the interview for STOMP. "I was wondering when you would wake up. Do you request to speak with the Chief Director or do you have other matters to attend to?"

Anchors Away pondered for a bit,
"Yeah, that sounds nice. I'm not local but I'll be here a few days. We'll have to figure out a good day."

The stallion looked Night Cap up and down, then walked towards the door,
"With your physical capabilities, would it be swifter to take the stairs or the lift? We're two floors down."

Silky Double-Time seemed hesitant, then asked,
"Sorry to pry but what happened yesterday? Whatever it was seemed urgent."

Really? Great! That's...sure. After tonight, hopefully things should settle down enough it should be easy to choose a day. Great! I look forward to it. Static shuffled his hoof. So...umm...great!

"Now what?" he thought to himself. He didn't want to send her away now. Heavens no! But he pretty much said everything that needed to be said. So...what now? He shuffled his hoof again. You know, any time you wanna come by...well...you see how much down time I get between reel changes. I certainly don't mind company.

Then it dawned on him and he perked up suddenly. Oh...not local? I just caught what you...so you're only here for a few days then? His face turned slightly downcast at the thought of her leaving. Umm...so...how long are you here for? I mean, few days I know...but...

Static sighed, feeling rather lonely again even with her right there.



Staff member
Council of Elders
"There was an incident involving the Anugypt Strut," said Light Fantastic, "Nothing really major, but it was very tiresome."

Snowy Skies grimaces, rubbing his horn and not making eye contact with the harsh faces around him. "Right." He says softly, moving to grab some cracked bones.

Silky Double-Time gasped in shock, "Nothing major? But...if something happened to the Anugypt Strut there could be an international incident!"

Anchors Away laughed,
"Wow, you sound so disappointed. Only three days but I travel a lot and I could always wind up assigned here for something else."

The stallion started walking with a swift pace. Looking back at Night Cap he said,
"Stairs it is. Make sure you keep up."

Dusty Winds flew over to Snowy Skies,
"Are...are you sure you can handle this?"

Well, any time you come back, let me know. Mean time, how about we plan for tomorrow for the show...you know...barring any COIN invasion or apocalyptic catastrophy?

Snowy Skies' grimace deepens. "This skeleton seems determined to ruin my life, it only seems right that I put it to rest." He says quietly. "And if I break any more of it at this point, does it matter? So yeah, I'll be fine. I'm just turning some stuff over in my head right now."

"Tomorrow sounds good. Should I bring snacks or would that be too much?" asked Anchors Away.

Static winced. I...wouldn't want to make any more work for the janitorial staff...or keep them here longer than normal. If you have snacks that can be kept clean, I don't see any problem. We may want to avoid messier things like popcorn and nachos though.

"Yes, but we were able to keep it safe, so everything went well," replied Light Fantastic.

Silky Double-Time breathed a sigh of relief, "Well that's good. I'm guessing that griffin out there flashing his badge helped?"

Anchors Away's face scrunched up, "Bleh, don't like either of those. Tell you what, I'll bring something but only a small amount so there's no mess. What's a date without something to eat?"

The stallion spoke no more as he and Night Cap traversed one flight of stairs. Upon reaching the top and stepping out from behind an obscured bookshelf, "Will you need directions to the Chief Director's office?"

"I don't know if any more of the skeleton can be salvaged. Besides, making more of a mess means even more to clean up. But if you say you're okay, then that's good. The more hooves, the better."

Static smiles, as only a face that was totally un-used to smiling could. Self-consciously he caught himself and tried to force it back under control. Sounds great! he said.

The timer started to go off again. Static started the next reel rolling, loaded the played out reel on the rewinder got the next reel ready and reset the timer.

He then invited Anchors over to the movie shelf. So what would you like? Coral, sea ponies or...wait...breezies? That's not right! Static removed one of the reels from the shelf and put it on a different shelf where it belonged. Seems I'm not the only pony using the theatre for after work viewing. Don't feel so guilty now.

"Yes, good. It won't happen again." Snowy Skies says, looking around for a broom to clear up the dust. Except if it does. He adds silently.

Silky Double-Time shook her head,
"No, I mean the griffon out in the lobby. He came in with you, right?"

Anchors Away looked over the shelf, then politely shook her head, "Maybe not sea ponies but otherwise just...surprise me. I gotta go but I'll catch you tomorrow."

"Very well, you shall be escorted." The stallion and Night Cap walked to Brisk Iron's office. Upon knocking and waiting with no response, "It seems we will need to find her."

Realization dawned on Light Fantastic.

"Oh, him," she said, "He was just my escort today. He's really nice."

"See you then."

Static sees her out then turns back to the shelf. She specifically noted liking coral. Coral vids were a bit a dozen. But Static saw one in particular that seemed to fit the bill. It was short enough to a post shift viewing. But it also showed some of the more rare varieties of bio-lumiinescent deep-sea coral. For a museaum film, especially a short one, it had actually gotten some acclaim for the quality of footage and being less boring than most museaum films.

Still, it was a museam film and Static had seen it several dozen times. Near the end of its run, he had even gotten to the point where he would sub-contiously start quoting it as he watched it. He swore he would never...ever run this one again since it was past its viewing schedule. Still...this was for Anchors.

He nodded, satisfied he'd chosen the right film, then returned to his projector. He still had time before the end of the current reel...several endless hours before the end of his shift. He was okay with that. At this moment, he was on top of the world.



Staff member
Council of Elders
Amber thought of Rhapsody and the ticket in her saddlebag. It wasn't professional business - but then, it was important for the STOMP team to have some time outside of work after the attack, wasn't it? - but Ms. Flint would be waiting....

Fifteen minutes couldn't be a serious problem if Zig Zag was already so disastrously late this morning, could they?

"Ah, yes, ma'am, that seems reasonable, ma'am," Amber said. "You finish up tackling your tax work, and I can come back in about twenty minutes. Then we'll zip out to zea" Amber shook her head "see the zonked-out zebra."

When Amber Spark knocked on the door to Rhapsody's office, nopony answered.

Rhapsody nods and takes leave of Brisk's office, after taking the offered ticket for the charity dinner. Closing the door behind her, she considers her options, when she realizes she should probably check in on Amber and let her know she's okay. She could check in on Static as well... but then he doesn't know her like this so might as well wait on that. Steel Flint seemed in bad shape last night, but after dealing with Brisk she wasn't up for dealing with another 'boss'. And then Night Cap... who's probably off getting into trouble... or causing it... Anything that happens to him Probably serves him right...

Okay, so Amber's office first, then she'll head home to change, check in with Det Champron, then get ready for night out. Even if she was going to the theater to look out for Light, if she was going to be attending a charity banquet, she should probably look the part... Good thing Harmony's always sending her fancy dresses... With that decided Rhapsody heads off to find Amber, completely passing by her own office without a second thought.

Finding herself unexpectedly nervous at Rhapsody's door, Amber lingered after knocking, wondering if she was misjudging the time she'd waited, if perhaps Rhapsody was busy and about to respond, that perhaps she would end up walking around in circles for no reason; but of course it was no good if she continued to stand here for some unusual amount of time only to double back and catch up with Ms. Naught late and have her dock Amber's pay or equipment funding for lack of punctuality and what was everpony in the hallway thinking right now and did Amber seem strange just standing there or isn't that what ponies are supposed to do when they're waiting after ! knocking on a door and why did it feel so very much like the long-distance wink that STOMP had used to travel to the research station and really was everypony looking at her yet because there wasn't anythinginterestingtoseeherereallyshewasjustwaitingforafriend

Amber knocked again. "Ms. Rhapsody? Hello?"

Counting breaths, she was reasonably certain it had been about thirty seconds after the second attempt, within an error range of plus or minus five, when she turned, reasonably certain that Rhapsody was not in fact in her office, and looked for somepony to ask if they'd seen a tough, dark, determ - if they'd seen Rhapsody in today, and how did she look today, and was Amber rambling, she was very sorry....

When Amber Spark asked, the other ponies in Rhapsody's department noted that they hadn't seen her this morning.

Almost at the door to Amber Spark's office, Rhapsody was intercepted by Steel Flint,
"Good morning, Rhapsody. I haven't had a chance to thank you for last night's assistance."

Distressed, Amber considered leaving the ticket with one of Rhapsody's coworkers - but what if Rhapsody wasn't in today? What if Amber had to go and catch up to Rhapsody after work and find her before the performance and Amber didn't have the ticket? Or what if Rhapsody was ill and needed someone to -

Amber knew it had been at least ten minutes since she'd left Ms. Naught's office. She had given herself twenty in preparation for just such a deviation from plan. But ten minutes was scarcely enough time to arrive promptly back at Ms. Naught's office and seem to to have had to run. But if anypony knew where Rhapsody might be, she could be saving them both a great deal of time. And suddenly, finding Rhapsody seemed very important in its own right. What, after all, if she had been hurt in the fight last night? Why hadn't anypony told Amber?

Amber set off at a full gallop for Ms. Iron's office.

Rhapsody stops and blinks a bit as she looks over to Steel Flint... 'I guess facing her is inevitable..' though she seems a bit surprised at the bit of gratitude. "Least someone seems thankful." She huffs under her breath, before fully addressing the older mare. "I was glad to be of service, at least COIN didn't get what they came for."

"Have you seen Amber this morning? I had... heard she was concerned for my well being..."
Even if Steel Flint knew of her double identity, she wasn't going to speak openly about it in the hallways. "I wanted to check in with her, make sure everything is alright since i wasn't able to last night."

Amber Spark spotted Brisk Iron just as she was stepping out of her office,
"Good morning, Amber. You needed to speak with me?"

Steel Flint nodded, "Amber's on an errand for me. She went to speak with Hazel Naught but they might not have left out yet."

"Yes, ma'am only quickly ma'am very quickly ma'am Ms. Iron ma'am," Amber panted. "In fact I really must go and catch up with Ms. Hazel Naught in the accounting department and I simply had a very quick favor - question - favor to ask you ma'am," she said, interrupting her quick speech with deep breaths that looked like they might hurt. "Do you know where Rhapsody might be ma'am?" she asked.

"Rhapsody was in earlier. She should be alright since she was helping me during last night's events and nothing seemed remiss today. I would suggest looking in her office."

Rhapsody nods to Steel Flint. "I am also on an errand for Brisk, but I felt I should let Amber know I am okay before heading out to take care of it."

Crestfallen but not wanting either to admit or to explain that the information was less useful than Ms. Iron anticipated, Amber simply nodded and let out one last "thank you, ma'am" before running off a slightly more conservative pace back towards the accounting department.

Rhapsody nods to Sleet Flint. "Alright, Maybe I will get lucky." She replies, and turns to head out towards the entrance, maybe in a bit more of a rush then she should be in museum...



Staff member
Council of Elders

Hazel Naught met Amber Spark in the hallway, "I'm ready if you are." As they walked, several employees cleared out of the hallways. "It's wonderful to have a productive workplace, is it not?"

Amber nodded, still feeling disappointed with herself. If she had simply left the ticket with a coworker.... "Yes, ma'am, I'm ready. My apologies for the delay, ma'am."

They took to the hallway at a steady clip. Amber was surprised to find herself not having to consciously adjust her pace to her companion's; Ms. Naught seemed quite directed. She nodded as the mare spoke. "Yes, ma'am," she said. "I do value efficiency."

"Wonderful. I do believe Steel is one of our best program directors and that reflects on others. Wouldn't you agree?"

Amber blinked conspicuously. "Yes, ma'am," she said. "I have a great deal of respect for Ms. Iron. Although I have interacted with her in only a limited capacity to date, she has done nothing to call my high opinion of her into question."

Amber nodded, surprised that Ms. Naught would have much dealing with Ms. Flint until she remembered the loupe; for Ms. Naught, she reminded herself, knowing the details of everypony and everything in the museum seemed to be a part of the job description. Amber nodded, almost uneasily. "Yes, ma'am," she said, after a pause. "I'm very happy to work with Ms. Flint. She is a dedicated and capable student of the discipline and I am quite happy to have found myself as a part of her team," Amber said, still a bit uncertain where this conversation was leading.

With her swift pegasus speed, Rhapsody spotted Hazel Naught and Amber Spark as they reached the exit.

"I do need to find time to have an extended discussion with her when we're both free."

Rhapsody made her way through the museum and thanks to her natural pegasus speed, she finally spots Amber right next to the exit; thought a bit too late, she realizes that natural pegasus speed can have its drawbacks as she's going a bit too fast to stop in time. On the bright side, no pony needs to get the door for Amber and the other pony with her... On the dark side, they might need a new door...

Amber nodded, becoming openly apprehensive. "Yes, ma'am, of course," she said. After a pause, she added, "May I ask, ma'am, what that discussion might be in regards to?" She squinted and tried to read Ms. Naught's expression.


As she did so, she turned, suddenly sensing some kind of commotion behind her.

Hazel Naught was about to respond to Amber Sparks when Rhapsody's inertia caused her to barrel by, knocking the door clean off its hinges. The accountant calmly adjusted her glasses, looking at the door frame and then Rhapsody, "I do believe you are...Rhapsody of the astronomy department. It is quite disappointing that there would be such flagrant disregard for the safety of your fellow employees and a lack of concern for the property destruction left in your wake. I have important business to attend to at the moment but this incident will be more properly notated upon our return."

"Rhapsody!" Amber gasped, galloping a few quick steps to her side, putting a hoof to the larger pegasus' head. "Are you alright?"

She looked to Ms. Naught over her back. "I'm quite certain that Rhapsody had a very good reason," she said, slightly more snappingly than she intended.


Rhapsody blinks and huffs softly at Amber's attentions. "Yeah, fine enough all things considered. Miscalculated my speed and distance for a safe stop. Wanted to catch up with you before you left. Heard you'd been looking for me since last night..." She states shaking her head abit and looks over to the other pony that she guesses is Hazel Naught form what Steel Flint mentioned.

"Yes, glad to see you too. And yes, please worry more about the inanimate piece of dead wood then the pony that hit it. I'm guessing you must be an accountant with that kind of out look and friendly demeanor..." Rhapsody grouches as she stretches, letting some of her joints pop. "Yeah? Me too." She replies to Hazel with just a bit of annoyance. "Brisk Iron gave me a special assignment that needs dealing with."

"Rhapsody," Amber said again, smiling. "Thank you very much for - going to all of the trouble," Amber said, glancing around at the doorway. Amber noticed Ms. Naught's impatience and stood, stepping back to glance in her direction. "I, ah, I am very happy to see that you're well," she said, stammering slightly. "I was a bit concerned after I didn't see you after the attack last night and it had occurred to me that you might have been injured and you know I know that I don't have to worry about you because you're the one! always around to keep everypony safe and I told myself that you know but I just couldn't help it and I saw Ms. Flint after the fight and then I thought about what I really would think if you were hurt and -" Amber stopped, shaking her head with a pop. She seemed to realize something suddenly, and lifted the flap of her saddlebag with her magic.

"I have - well, I seem to have ended up with rather a surplus of -" Amber began to ask herself if she was blushing, and tried to reassure herself that she couldn't be, because what after all could she be blushing about? She drew Rhapsody's ticket from her bag - "Ms. Fantastic offered me a ticket to the performance tonight - well, I mean to say that she offered me two tickets, and I mean to say that I accepted, you see, and I have this second ticket and I was wondering - was curious if you would perhaps accompany me - I mean to say, was curious if you had intended on seeing the performance and needed - but I suppose that if you really meant to see it you would already have a ticket and - " Amber stopped and lofted the ticket in Rhapsody's direction.

Hazel Naught's spine stiffened and eyes narrowed as she scowled at Rhapsody, "How dare you. Upon observing the situation, you seemed to be unharmed. Now, I will apologize if I made a miscalculation. However, I do believe you are in peak physical condition and there's nary a scratch on you. If that's the case, then the only thing injured was your pompous, bloated ego. You yourself can't care all that much about about ponies if you're going to be racing through the halls with enough speed and force to destroy a door. What if you hit Ms. Spark or another employee or a museum guest? Landing a single special assignment does not put you higher than everypony else here. Now if you'll excuse me, there is a fellow employee and neighbor who may be need of Ms. Spark and I." Hazel Naught started to walk off.

Amber ducked her head and snorted. "Ms. Naught, even among those with wings, some ponies may just be less concerned with being higher than others than you might imagine," she said, her voice dripping. She gave Rhapsody a reassuring tap on the shoulder with one hoof, then darted to outpace Ms. Naught, not looking behind her as she spoke. "Let us just find Ms. Zag and have this finished with. I have a bibliography to compose, and I won't be staying late at the museum tonight." Amber attempted to confidently set out in the direction of Ms. Zag's home so much as she could without actually knowing in which direction that was.

"I think you need to remember to breathe." Rhapsody states to Amber as she tries to explain the concern she has. "Ah, sweet. Thanks Amber." She says with a smile which then turns to a glare as she looks to Hazel. "Just because I miscalculate my stopping ability, doesn't mean I'm not capable of avoiding crashing into ponies. Trust me; if I even intent to hit someone, they'll know it."

She then takes off a bit after Amber. "I'll probably be there before you; I got a ticket to the Charity Dinner from Brisk; She wants me to keep an eye on Light before the show. She didn't have a ticket to the show to give me, so this helps me out a lot. I need to go home to change first," Twice actually... "After all, I can't attend a fancy function, and our date looking like this." She smiles and kisses Amber's check. "Try not to let that Stick in the mud get to you today though." She says before once more taking to the skies and heading back to her house for the first of her costume changes.



Staff member
Council of Elders
After walking for a bit, Hazel Naught commented, "It is an unfortunate but there have been members of the STOMP team who have let said status go to their head. I certainly don't care for somepony insulting me to my face and that is a shared trait with such unpleasant members. I may have my quirks but just because I'm the accountant, doesn't mean I don't care about other ponies and I can't stand such accusations." Hazel Naught paused for a moment, "You asked about what my discussion with Steel. She's an old friend and we haven't really talked in a while."


As Rhapsody lofted into the air, Amber had stood still for a long moment. Elegant brass wheels clicking on well-oiled fittings had suddenly snapped into place. Amber had discovered her hoof lifted to her very warm cheek just as the crackling charge on her horn she hadn't noticed discharged into a nearby lamppost, flicking it on for an instant.

"Oh," she said. And very quietly, again without conscious bidding, she giggled.

She had followed Ms. Naught as if wandering a dream world. Consciously she reminded herself that she was quite angry at Ms. Naught minutes before and quite probably should remain so, but her heart wasn't in it. She nodded as Ms. Naught explained about past STOMP members and her very legitimate reasons for feeling unfairly put upon. Really quite awful, she thought. It wasn't her fault she was born an accountant. [Editor note: God I love Amber.]

"Begging your pardon, ma'am, but the two of you work in the same building," Amber said after a too-long pause. "Shouldn't you have had occasion for a conversation over the years?"

"We obviously stop and say hello but haven't made time for prolonged conversation recently. We used to play pool until it got too easy. It's just a mild irony that we talk less now that she's no longer in STOMP than when she was in it. Though with some of the things that happened, it's understandable. Situations forced us to focus harder on work."

Amber blinked in the information. "Ms. Flint was a member of STOMP?" she asked. After a moment, she emphasized, "You mean to say that she did ... field work?" Suddenly the conversation between Snowy Skies and Ms. Flint began to make an unexpected kind of sense.

"How long have you been involved with STOMP, Ms. Naught? You must understand, I'm somewhat newly involved with this ... project, and there was not an information packet at our initial briefing."

Hazel Naught looked puzzled, "I thought she would have told you she was in STOMP. I hope I've not overstepped my bounds with such a reveal. There are some Keep employees, such as myself, who have knowledge of STOMP but aren't actually a part of it. I've been involved for quite some time. It was only a few weeks after being hired on that the full ramifications were revealed. As far as the lack of an 'information packet', it is something I and the Chief Director have disagreed on."

Riding her high, Rhapsody made it back to her home in near record time. She opens the door to the shock of Tyberious. He flies over and chirps at her. "Yes, I know I am home early." Which gets another set of chirps from her pet. "No, i am not fired." She answers with a heavy huff. "The Boss has a special assignment for me, I need to make sure nothing happens to Light Fantastic.." Tyberious gets annoyed look on his face as he responds. "No, I actually will be doing this! as myself. I also kinda got a date..." Tyberious stops in mid-flight at that hitting the floor. "Oh come on, its not THAT surprising." Rhapsody huffs and pokes the bat with her hoof.

Tyberious recovers quickly and shakes his head and then chirps at her. "Yes, It's Amber. She actually kinda made the first move... She offered me the ticket and asked if I wanted to go to the show with her. Since I was going to be there anyway for the assignment, of course I wasn't going to turn her down." Tyberious scoffs and gives a sarcastic sounding set of chirps. "Tyberious! It is not like that!" She reprimands and stomps her hoof. "I need to have a talk with Det. Champron before I go, the police need to know what's happening." Tyberious huffs and gives the pegasus a minor glare. "I said I wasn't attending the preformance as Black Night; but Rhaspody isn't able to talk to the Police the same way Black Night can. It's just a simple trip, and won't take long; So get the dress Harmony sent me for Hearth's Warming out and waiting for me. I don't want to take any more time then i have to." She says and walks down to the basement to get changed into her alter ego. Later emerging from her secret exit and heads towards the Police station.

"I see," said Amber, nodding. It really would have been quite useful to know a few things ahead of time. She wasn't sure how to reassure Ms. Naught that she hadn't revealed anything important while thanking her for revealing something so important, so she shifted topics. "It's very good that you're taking the opportunity to catch up with Ms. Flint, then," she said. "You know, no matter how hectic things may get, it is important to take time for friends."

Silky Double-Time walked toward the door, "Well, I need to go get changed but we can talk more later."

The stallion seemed abnormally cautious as he searched the halls. So far, neither he nor Night Cap spotted Brisk Iron.

A burly earth pony mare walked up to Snowy Skies and eyed the illusionist with a stern gaze, "I'm guessing you're new here. You need help with that?"

As Black Night headed towards the police station, she none of the mild mannered civilians spotted her. The station was abuzz with activity. Detective Gem Champron was in his office actively looking through some files as the smell of his Saddle Arabian coffee wafted out the window.

"Yes indeed." Walking up a short hill and turning the corner onto High Street W, Hazel Naught and Amber Spark came to a row of rather drab looking houses. Walking up to the second house, Hazel Naught knocked and the door creaked open. "Oh my."

Light Fantastic grinned again.

"All right, then," she said, "If I don't see you before the performance, break a leg!"

Snowy Skies absently looks at the stallion. "Who, me? I'm just sweeping."

Black Night Stealthy entered through the window. "You should prepare for this evening, Detective. It is believed that this evening's show will also be troubled by COIN. It seems that it is linked to one of the Items they tried to steal last night."

After getting slipped into the Anugypt Princess dress, Light Fantastic and the rest of the Canterlot Ballet Company started dress rehearsal. All throughout, Light Fantastic could feel something in the back of her mind.


"While the roles aren't quite so distinct, that would probably be for the best since the Chief Director isn't in her office. Follow me." After darting across a few halls, the stallion led Night Cap to an office. Opening the door and holding it open for Night Cap, Steel Flint looked out with an inquisitive expression, "Hello Night Cap. I guess you've finally woken up from last night's excitement."

"Yeah you. The faster all this is done, then the faster it'll be done." Despite the mare's offer to help Snowy Skies, the mannerisms almost seemed aggressive.

Detective Gem Champron looked up from his files. His mirrored glasses did little to mask his weariness, "I wish I knew how you did that. But yeah, COIN's got the precinct at unease. Attempted museum thefts, trying to swipe rival employees, and even hypnotism and possible blackmail. We've got our hooves full to be sure. It's mostly going to be the foreign officers handling security for that ballet."

Snowy Skies continues sweeping, quickly noting a few things. His very posture must be different, if ponies were still interacting with him for the first time. That was good information. The mare clearly wanted to make an impression on him, and it was probably simplest to let her think she had done just that. But something in him rebelled, quietly. He was tired of taking the path of least resistance. He wasn't ready to pick a fight he couldn't win, but he knew how to set the mare on edge.

Without looking up from his sweeping, he says, sounding bored, "You seem better equipped for lifting bones than a thorough dusting. Efficiency makes the sun come up, right?"



Staff member
Council of Elders
Amber hesitated, then followed Ms. Naught uneasily through the doorway, feeling the creeping charge of being inside someone else's space. She may have been surprised or curious about their suddenly rather musical hooffalls, but the night with Static, Snowy Skies, and the false sword had pressed her to the point of impatience with simple illusions. She ignored the sound and looked around the room for signs of - well, she wasn't quite sure what she was looking for signs of, but whatever might be a bit unusual for what she imagined the zebra's home might have looked like on an ordinary day.

"Ah, Ms. Zag, ma'am?" she said in a slightly raised voice. "It's Amber Spark and your friend Hazel Naught from the museum, ma'am. We were concerned," she said.

As Light Fantastic and her troupe began their dress rehearsal, she found she couldn't shake off the feeling of foreboding she had been having all day.

"This is nonsense!" she thought to herself, "I've got more important things to worry about."

Falling back on her tried and true method, she mentally threw herself into the music and let herself get lost in the rhythm.

"I can understand your position, though I don't fully trust the foreign cops. COIN is seeming bigger and more dangerous then anypony could have predicted. I wouldn't count out them having an agent in the police in some towns. While Sands and that griffon partner of his seem to be on the level, even if it seems strange for a Griffon to be so far from their homelands, it is hard to vouch all the rest. If possible, any locals you could spare, even if its just you, could help keep an eye out for anything suspicious."

As time passed, Static Signal soon came to his break.

There was no response. As Amber Spark and Hazel Naught looked around, things seemed normal until they reached the bedroom. Inside, it had a heavy scent of chamomile, the hoofsteps were much louder, and there was a huge hole busted out of the wall. "We...we need to get back to the Keep."

Light Fantastic felt something subtle coursing through the air. It was like that feeling when someone tried to use their magic to lift you but right before they got a good grip. It didn't impede her dancing at all but it was there lingering about.

As Night Cap turned to speak, the stallion was already gone. Steel Flint chuckled, "He has the clearance, otherwise I wouldn't have carried you to his office. Confidentiality is his job. Anyways, what did you discover?"

"Yeah I'm good at lifting stuff. Just looking to see if the new guy needed any help."

Detective Gem Champron nodded, "It might be a foreign artifact but this is still our city. There's definitely going to be a few local officers there, just not as many as I'd like. We've got some watching a Keep employee's house since a COIN recruiter is supposed to be returning. From one that was captured last night, it seems they play up adventure and glamor while not being upfront about the danger or criminality."

"That would seem slightly premature, Ms. Naught," said Amber, casting her a quizzical look as she stepped forward with her notebook and quill at her side. She looked around the room and stepped up to the hole, looking it over for evidence of how it had been made. "With the two of us here, it would be rather a disappointment if neither of us had thought to take any records."

"And as I said, I'm just sweeping. So I think I'll be fine."

As Static came to his break time, he figured he had more important things to do than take a lunch. Besides, something about that breakfast he had made him decidedly not hungry.

He had two people he needed to see, Brisk Iron and accounting. What should the priority be?

Well, if push came to shove, he really could see accounting another day. His own personal finances didn't seem quite as important as what his role should be in the capturing of Dazzling Midnight...and that small matter of who his boss is, he noted as he walked by Stiff Feather's office. They had already taken the name plate off the doorway.

Static winced as he considered how close he came to being in the same boat.

Objective in mind, he went to to Brisk Iron's office and knocked.

Light Fantastic was temporarily pulled out of her trance by the subtle feel of a magical aura in the air. Almost as if somepony were trying to pick her up. Had she not had years of experience under her belt, the sudden shock would have been enough to cause her to loose focus on her dancing.

As it was, she continued her performance, taking care to be mindful of the intruding aura.

After knocking on Brisk Iron's door and waiting, nopony answered Static Signal. He then heard a voice shout from down the hallway, "Hey heeeey, didn't know they transferred you down here too!" The voice came from a light blue stallion whose purple mane was slicked over to the side. He wore a neon green necktie with pink dots.

"That's a valid enough point." Amber Spark saw that the hole appeared to have been created when something in the room escaped out. However, there was far less debris than if it were knocked down.

Steel Flint looked worried, "There's actually a few employees checking on Zig Zag right now, though one lacks combat capacity. As far as close associates, that's either nopony or everypony since she gets along with all the staff but doesn't seem to have a group of best friends. What exactly would the coffee be for?"

"Of course they would; An organization like that wouldn't get any recruits if they were told directly they'd be risking their lives for dangerous artifacts in far off and likely deadly locales." Black Night replies with a shack of her head. "Knowing at least some local PD being there is helpful. I'll also be keeping an eye on the place, there seems to be a lot of moving pieces to all this, and I fear it might get much worse before the night is over." Black Night states, and as quickly as she enters, she leaves knowing she has to get back and get changed to ! attend the dinner and show... She wanted to get there as quickly as possible, but she She knew Light was perfectly capable of handling a lot, and doubted too much trouble could happen this early.

Transferred? No...not tran...I...I actually need to speak to Ms. Iron about a couple things that happened last night...and something that's supposed to happen tonight. It's really important. Do you know where she is? He asks, trying to place the face of the stallion.

Amber looked over the hole and circled the room twice over again, taking some quick notes, and nodded, satisfied. "I must admit I'm somewhat perplexed at how to explain to Ms. Iron that both Ms. Zag and a sizeable section of her house are missing, but lead on, Ms. Naught," she said, waling to Hazel Naught's side and preparing to follow her back to the museum.



Staff member
Council of Elders
Arriving back at her house, Rhapsody changes out of her Black Night outfit and stores it in her secret basement, before going up stairs. As instructed, Tyberious has the dress out. Her sister Harmony was a dress maker in Manehatten, and would occasionally make dresses for her sisters as gifts, and Rhapsody had been waiting for an opportunity to wear one; she didn't often get many chances to dress up, but tonight she had plenty. She couldn't just attend a charity Dinner in any old thing, she needed to look like she belonged there, and of course that she would also be on Date with Amber didn't hurt her desire to want to look nice either.

She takes the the hair band out to let her mane fall down, though her attempts to try and make it look nice are marred by its constantly chaotic nature. Even when 'straight' it still look spiky. "Fine, I'll just wear a flower in it, that should look nice at least." She says with a huff of annoyance before proceeding to do a bit of makeup. a soft aqua eyeshadow, with ruby lipstick and a faint bit of pink rouge to add some color to her otherwise monochromatic face. Getting dressed isn't too difficult, not with the help of Tyberious to make sure everything looks alright.

The dress itself was mostly purple with a rainbow stripped waist, and an amazing prismatic skirt. Of course, being Rhapsody she still have on a set of stocking; though rather then her normal rainbow ones, she goes for a more conservative lilac colored set. Finally she slips into a set of glossy black heels, feeling that anything else would be too much color.

"Alright. Thanks for all your Help Tyberious. I'll probably not be back till late. Try not to worry too much about me. Just how much trouble could a dunner and musical be?" She asks with a soft giggle. she makes sure she has her tickets and then heads to the theater to check in with Light and make sure everything is going well there.

As Light Fantastic continued her rehearsal, Rhapsody arrived in the lobby of the ballet hall. Rhapsody saw Night Wings reading a poster. He looked at Rhapsody but didn't seem to realize that this was secretly Black Night's alter ego. "Quite nice. If my guess is correct for your attire, you're here for the charity dinner. It'll be a while before they start."

The mare shrugged and walked back towards the ponies moving bones, "Fine,! just trying to help."

The stallion shook his head, "I was just now coming to speak with the boss lady myself. Just making sure the last few details of paperwork are straightened out. The name's Plaid Paisley, by the way. Your's..?"

Hazel Naught nodded and led Amber Spark out. Things were silent most of the way until, "I wish I could be more useful than just giving directions."

With a knowing look, Steel Flint used her magic to give Night Cap a cup full of a dark brown liquid, "Black tea has roughly the same caffeine as coffee and in this region it's usually sweet by default. The jolt is less immediate but it doesn't taste like an insult."

"My, this night must be huge, if we are attracting griffons to this event." Rhapsody says to Night wings, in a calm voice not betraying the fact she already knew he would be around. "While I am indeed here for both the Dinner and the performance, I am also here to meet with Light Fantastic. We are good friends and have had some adventures together in in our past. With everything that is going on tonight, I want to make sure everything is going all right for her. So many many trouble makers around lately." She says, trying to sound like she fit in at a fancy! charity event, as well as not reveal her connections to STOMP or the Keep; while she didn't completely distrust the griffon, she wasn't sure how much he knew or needed to know

A receptionist spoke up from behind the desk, "She may still be rehearsing. Your name?"

Oh, right! Static...Signal. Static Signal. I just...

Static looks around helplessly Now what? I suppose I can go talk to accounting. I needed to talk to them anyway...and just hope Ms. Iron's back at the end of my shift. Static fidgets a bit. Brisk Iron really was the more important objective. But if she couldn't be found, what else was Static supposed to do?

Static looked around and sighed. Do you know where else she would be in not in her office?

Rhapsody looks over to the receptionist, and hoped there wasn't a list of names. Surely Brisk Iron would have informed her if that were case... "My name is Rhapsody. Even if she is rehearsing, It would still be best for me to go in and see her. I promise not to be disruptive, but knowing for myself that she is doing alright is preferable to just being told she is"

Amber blinked. "How do you mean, ma'am?" Amber stopped in place for a moment and looked at the mare. "We both went to find Ms. Zag, and now we're both returning to report to Ms. Iron. Really, the only difference is that you knew where to go," she said, her mind racing, attempting to explore the possibilities of this subtext that Ms. Naught seemed so very fond of communicating in. Was she regretting being born as an accountant again?

A part of Amber considered that Ms. Naught could be quite useful to Amber if she were to report to Ms. Flint while Amber tried to find the new projectionist, Mr. Static, and deliver his ticket to the performance to him, but Amber was quite certain that suggesting so would not at all be reassuring to Ms. Naught. After all, Amber still had to find a recipient for the last ticket and prepare herself for her date with Rhapsody....

Date, Amber reminded herself. Date. She had a date, tonight. What on earth was she going to wear? Was someone expected to bring flowers? But the recital hall would hardly be likely to permit snacks. How did one prepare for a date?

"Ma'am, have you ever been on a date?", Amber asked, her throat making uncomfortable shapes with her words as they worked their way up from what felt to be her stomach.

The receptionist got up from her desk. "One moment please." After walking out, she soon came back. "Looks like they just finished up. Should be fine if she recognizes you. If not, an officer is already here."

After making sizable progress in cleaning up the replica skeleton, "Looks like it's time for break and we're at a good stopping point."

"I've got no clue where she'd be but I can lead you to accounting if you'd like."

Hazel Naught gave a joyless chuckle, "I was neither popular nor wealthy growing up. Some things are harder to calculate. All I did here was give directions. I do believe now is the wrong time to give an assessment of the cost to repair the damages to Zig Zag's home."

Without looking behind her, Steel Flint idly poured herself a tall glass of tea, "It would be nice if she were here but she's probably going to need to speak with police and insurance adjusters throughout the day. Plus, she'll have to explain the situation to foreign diplomats. It's never fun when things turn into an international incident."



Staff member
Council of Elders
Accoun...did I say that out loud? Yeah, I suppose I did. Well...umm...

Static fidgeted a bit. His own personal finances were actually not his priority when compared to what needed done with Dazzling Midnight.

Did Brisk Iron need him to play a part? Did she need him to stay away? It would help to know one way or another. He really needed to talk to Brisk Iron.

Still, he figured he could go to his house to be on the safe side. Could be Dazzling wouldn't even make her move if he didn't show up.

Besides, what could he do if he couldn't find her? Nopony seemed to know where Brisk Iron was.

And maybe if he went to accounting, they could answer the question about how long and how long he'd be docked as well as whatever Tangerine Sands thought needed looked into.

Besides, there was still the hours after work where he could try and find Brisk Iron again. It's not like he had anything else to do. The chances of him ever getting tickets to that event tonight was looking rather slim.

He took a deep breath and turned back to Plaid.

Sure. That would be great, thank you! Static started to follow Plaid. You asked if I was being transferred. I don't remember if I answered, but no. I work at the museum theatre as the projectionist. One...of several...questions I needed to ask Ms. Iron was actually who I reported to now. Last night...my b...several interesting things happened. Long story.

But yeah, I work the projection booth. And what do you do?

Rhapsody nods to the receptionist as she returns. "Thank you, I am sure his involvement won't be necessary." She smiles and trots into the theater hall to meet with Light, hoping that she's not gone back stage just yet if they're so recently finished.

And some things difficult to measure and record, Amber thought.

Her concern for Ms. Naught so directly confirmed, Amber resolved to set her own worries aside for the moment. Again she stopped walking, and put a hoof on Ms. Naught's shoulder. In the most reassuring tone she could muster, she said, "I'm sure that Ms. Zag will very much appreciate your estimate once we find her." She nodded her head in what she hoped was a chin-up gesture before resuming their progress back to the museum.

Snowy Skies stretches a little as he quietly leaves the janitorial crew. Sweeping was normally dull but rhythmic, the sort of task he could lose himself in. But after this new debacle with the thamicera-whatever skeleton, he'd felt obligated to be attentive and focused. As attentive as he could be, with ponies bothering him. The end result was that he was tetchy and bored. What a brilliant time to go apologize to Steel Flint this is, hm? He thinks to himself ruefully. But he had no guarantee of any other breaks in the day, so he makes his way to Steel Flint's office, where, through a closed door, he can hear a muffled voice...Night Cap? Why is Night Cap...Oh bugger.

You never know. Mabye it's not actually Night Cap in there.
He thinks, a pitiful feigning of hopefulness. Only one way to find out. He reaches out a hoof and knocks on the door, twice and then twice quickly.

The receptionist walked down to the stage, "Ms. Fantastic, there's a Ms. Rhapsody here to speak with you."

Plaid Paisley proudly puffed out his chest, "I'm in marketing. All those fancy discoveries don't mean much if nopony sees them. Projection booth you say? That sounds kinda exciting to have a job that lets you watch movies all day."

Hazel Naught ! shook her head, "Most ponies don't appreciate it. I do believe that things would go over better if so."

"Waiting could lead to the Keep being shut down or worse. One moment..." Steel Flint opened the door and frowned, "Oh. Snowny Skies. What was it that you wanted?"

Snowy Skies takes a few steps through the doorway to confirm that Night Cap is in the room, and sighs. "Something calamitous is happening, isn't it?"

"Perhaps. However, you came here for a different reason I assume."

"I feel like impending disaster overrides anything I needed from you." Snowy Skies says flatly. "What's happening tonight? Is the museum getting torn down brick by brick?"

"Shatter matter." Snowy Skies curses quietly. "I'm her recent associate. For the last 24 hours, anyways. She went home after talking to me, and disappeared. As for work, I'm under the impression that she rarely does actual dreamwalk work for the keep.
...When you say where or why, do you mean you couldn't find her in the dreamlands? Or something worse."

"She was humming the music from the Anugypt Strut all of yesterday. But they might have adapted it for the dance tonight." Snowy Skies says with a hint of a smile. This was beginning to resemble to the Night Cap he had first met.

"She was...humming...the..." Steel Flint rubbed one of her temples with a hoof, "I think she unwittingly did the equivalent of reading a spell book out loud. I think Zig Zag summoned something."

Snowy Skies squinted at Steel Flint in mild disbelief. "You can do that?" And if you can, what are the ramifications of my orchestra session last night? "Also, if you think it's a spell, you must have some idea what that 'something' is, yes?"

Static let out a self-derisive snort. That's what I thought as a kid. I used to love coming to the museum and seeing some of those movies. I thought "wow, it would be so cool to have a job where I can watch these all day." But then...you watch them...all...day...and don't really have a choice of which ones you watch either. Static caught himself and shook his head. Not that I'm complaining...much...well...maybe I am but now that I think about it, there are worse jobs. And it did open up...other...opportunities.

Static and Plaid kept walking. It surprises me how big this museum is sometimes. He looked at a clock as they passed by. He still had plenty of time before he had to get back to the booth. But it wasn't unlimited.

So, all those flyers and commercials we see at the big theatres...that's you? Static grinned Now that sounds like an exciting job! All that creating, everypony seeing something you created... Static sighed. If he could get a ticket to tonights performance and get some good shots with his equipment...maybe then somepony would see something he created. If he did it good enough...well...no way he wanted to stay in that booth for the rest of his life.



Staff member
Council of Elders
Light Fantastic turned to the receptionist.

"You can bring her in," she said.

"It is certainly very useful information," said Amber, almost warily. Amber thought of the couple of occasions on which she had nearly died on the mountain. "But I do believe that if somepony stole my wall and foalnapped me, it isn't the very first thing I would hope to hear on being found by my friends. Sometimes all that's needed are a few reassuring words and a strong wing around you, I think," said Amber. "Really, I don't imagine that I'm altogether so much better suited for these strange adventures. An expertise in metalworking is very little help when somepony is swinging a sword at me."

The receptionist walked Rhasody down to Light Fantastic, then left.

"Some of them are mine and some aren't. Haven't had a chance to really get a feel for what pizzazz catches the attention of the locals down here." After some walking, Static Signal and Plaid Paisley arrived at the accounting department. At the desk was a pegasus writing out some paperwork. "Hello there wonderful. My friend Static Signal has some questions for! your department."

"Metalworking can be used for numerous things in the field, especially if you've got an eye for...did you hear that?" Hazel Naught's ears twitched and she looked around.

Static walked up awkwardly to the receptionist. Umm...yeah...Static, that...that's me and...friend? He turns his attention back to Plaid briefly. Thank you. That...that's certainly nice to hear. Thank you.

He turns his attention back to the receptionist. Umm, yes...Static...Signal. I know I'm going to be docked in pay, but I'm not sure by how much and for how long. I was hoping I could ask Ms. Iron about that, but can't seem to find her.

But also, I was advised to check with you to make sure nothing out of the ordinary was happening beyond that. I don't know...maybe something was being taken out that shouldn't be or something...I...I honestly don't know.

"Hmm?" Amber asked, caught off guard.

The accounting assistant pulled out a large envelope. "The department head finished working on your files before she stepped out. As far as the matter of things being out of the ordinary, it seems like during your time in the Manehattan branch, you were being paid less than Keep standard for your employment." "Hey, that happened with me too." "It is a situation that the Chief Director will be sure is...properly dealt with. On the matter of docked pay, due to last night's misconduct, you aren't being paid for last night. Any other questions?"

Amber Spark didn't hear anything other than the friendly chirping of birds on a sunny and peaceful afternoon in southern Equestria. "I guess it was nothing. Still, you're right that I should talk to Steel when I get back.


Thank you. It's nice to have casual conversation with somepony instead of them acting more scared of you than the Chief Director."

Static breathed a sigh of relief. One night wasn't nearly as bad as he feared. And since the other matter of underpayment was being taken care of...that really was everything he meant to ask accounting. Still, there were other matters.

Well, there were questions I had for Ms. Iron...one of which is kinda time sensitive if you happen to know when she'll be back. The other two questions...well, I don't know...maybe you can help. If not, I guess it doesn't hurt to ask.

Of lesser importance I guess is if you happen to know if tickets are sold out for Light Fantastic's performance tonight.

More concerning is that I noticed Mr. Stiff Feather's name is no longer on his office door. While I have a pretty good idea what happened, I have to ask...who's my boss?

"Light Fantastic's ballet is not part of the Equestrian Expedition Keep so we would not have tickets. Any questions about management would be better directed to the Chief Director." "If I may, I've got a question." "Which is?" "Are you single?" "I'm married." "Oh. Well, if you've got any sisters, cousins, or aunts that are looking, tell them Plaid Paisley in marketing is available and amazing." "Uh huh. You're sure to be the first I think of."

Static raised an eyebrow at Plaid and returned his attention to the accountant.

Yeah, I figured. Still, no harm in asking I suppose.

Static turned to the door to leave before turning back again for a moment.

Don't suppose you know when the Chief Director will be back?

"I have no idea. Hopefully soon."

Static nodded. Thanks! He looked back at the clock. I should probably get back. Thank you for your help. He turned to Plaid. Thanks for your help too. You seem like a nice guy. Please don't ask any more questions that'll land you at HR.



Staff member
Council of Elders
After some walking, Amber Spark and Hazel Naught soon arrived back at the Keep. Hazel Naught followed Amber Spark back to her department and upon knocking on Steel Flint's door, "Why do I feelsodiiiizzzz..." Hazel Naught suddenly fainted in place. Steel Flint opened the door only to gasp in shock, "What...what just happened?!?"


As they exited the office, Plaid Paisley commented, "Glad to have met you and hope to see you around. By the way...ballet?"

Static shrugged with an almost embarrassed grin. Not my usual choice for entertainment I admit. But I was asked to document the performance. Of course, that seems less and less likely since I can't seem to find any tickets. And even if I could... Static sighed. His life certainly got more complicated since the previous night. Used to be he'd do his job, go home, drink himself to sleep. Now he was actually trying to balance having almost too much to do at once. Besides, Light Fantastic is a...what? Friend? You were barely in the same room together long enough to say you know her at all. You could barely call it an acquaintance! But then again...things did seem to be moving quickly since last night. His social circle...heh! He had a social circle now! We met once. He finally said.

Amber was on the verge of offering Ms. Naught one of the tickets not yet spoken for in her back in the hopes it might cheer the poor mare up, but it had occurred to her that she didn't know whether accountants enjoyed music, and she didn't want to insult her. She had nodded knowingly when Ms. Naught thanked her for the conversation - "of course, ma'am" - but she still worried at the poor mare's mood.

Amber was glad to be back in her department - surely she would still have time to finish up her work on the bibliography, find Mr. Static and possibly Night Cap, then go home and find something to wear for the event, get herself ready, and then meet with Toni and Light before the performance - as the items in her list stacked up, she thought morosely, yes, plenty of time, so long as someone puts a good word in to the dear Princess to add a couple of hours to the day.

She was once again lost in her thoughts and caught completely off guard when the accountant collapsed beside her in the doorway. "Ms. Naught!" she exclaimed. She looked to Ms. Flint with an expression of panic. "Ma'am - I don't know, ma'am," she said, then kneeled at Ms. Naught's side.

Snowy Skies is still sorting out his best course of action when Night Cap demands an awakening, which seems reasonable. He draws a little bubble around the accountant's head, locks in the sound around it, then produces a loud foghorn noise, interrupting it occasionally so it doesn't become monotonous. Aside from the carpet rustling a little extra, nobody else would be bothered by it.

Rhapsody smiles as she walks up to Light. "It's been awhile. Keeping warm, I hope?" She asks with a soft giggle.

Light Fantastic grinned at Rhapsody, as she did her cool down routine.

"Trying to, at least," she said, "Dancing does help on that front. So, how has life been treating you?"

"Well enough, I suppose. Been keeping myself busy between work and the occasional nightly pursuit or two." :She responds and looks around a bit. "Brisk Iron wanted me to check up on things with you, considering the break in last night, and COIN likely still being in the area. Its only natural a big event like this might catch their attention as well. You come across anything out of the ordinary today?"

Light Fantastic thought for a moment.

"There was a moment during the rehearsal that I felt a strange magic aura around me," she said, "I wasn't sure where it was coming from, but I too busy concentrating on my dancing to search for it too much."

"Well, I'll catch you later." Plaid Paisley then walked off.

Hazel Naught sat up and adjusted her glasses, "I do believe I just fainted, didn't I? I thought I heard a horn just now but it was muffled by music." "What happened to you two while you were out? I think the situation may have escalated."

"Sure thing," Static replied as Plaid walked away. As he passed Brisk Iron's office, hoping against hope that she might have come back while he was in accounting, he knocked on the door. He sighed as no answer came and started back to his booth.

Everything seemed to be resolved except the most important thing...what his part was going to be in taking down Dazzling Midnight.

He decided it didn't matter. He'd given up on the possibility of getting tickets to Light Fantastic's ballet. It was a shame. It was a perfect chance to show off what he could do as far as creating a documentary. It could've been the chance to start on a different career, more satisfying career, than the projection booth. Plus he may have only met Light Fantastic very briefly, but she seemed nice and he surly wouldn't mind supporting her in her career either.

But what could he do? He had no idea how to get tickets, and he still wasn't sure where things with Dazzling Midnight stood.

It was decided then. He'd just go home like usual in order to confront her and hope that he could be helpful to the police. If it turned out they didn't want him there, he could always leave. But that's why it might've been helpful if Brisk Iron had let him in on the plan before disappearing.

He could try to find her again after work, but he wasn't going to dwell on it. He had work to do.

He opened the door to his booth and walked in.

Rhapsody hmms softly. "Too bad I couldn't get here earlier, maybe I could have helped identify it. I'm fairly good at that sort of thing; but it is something to be aware of. I wonder if it was just targeting you, or if others noticed it as well? Maybe you could ask around see if any of the other performers experienced something like it as well." She ponders for a moment and then asks. "While I know you were focused, were you able to get a feel of what the magic was trying to do? If so, it might give some clues to the type of magic or at least what the caster might have been after." Rhapsody was still of mind that COIN was trying something. "Last night they were after a piece of music, and with this show I can't help but feel like there is a connection somehow."

"It kind of felt like telekinetic magic," said Light Fantastic, "almost like someone trying to lift me. It was strange."

Amber looked back and forth between Steel Flint and Hazel Naught. "Hazel, are you quite alright?" To Ms. Flint, she asked, "Situation, ma'am?"

"Which brings us back to my interrupted question." Snowy Skies says, turning back to Steel Flint. "You knew the Anugypt Strut contained a spell, what does the spell summon?"

There was a very quiet crack in the back of Amber's mind as her itinerary for the day cracked and collapsed under strain. "The strut? This has to do with that music? And to do with Ms. Zag's having been foalnapped? What does any of this have to do with Ms. Naught?" Amber shook her head. "The music was vanishing from the papyrus - except it wasn't vanishing, was it? It left the papyrus - and we heard musical notes in Ms. Zag's house, but I assumed it was only another of these enchantments -" Amber shot a look at Snowy. "Now you're hearing music and horns," said Amber to Ms. Naught. "And the three of you mean to say that all of this has to do with whatever beast carried off poor Ms. Zag and a chunk of her wall?"

"The horns were mine." Snowy Skies adds helpfully. "I can try to heterodyne the Strut's song next time this happens."

"Entered?" said Amber in a sudden case of dramatic echolalia. "That's to say, from outside? You mean to say that you believe that this something is from beyond Equestria?" She looked at him quizzically and didn't seem at all convinced.

Amber held herself from her first response, fluttery nonsense and said instead, with a cock of her head, "Then why did it want her wall?"

Amber paused, thinking. "The hole was the wrong way around," she said, finally. "I've seen quite a lot of besieged barricades and collapsed blind arcades in my tenure, Mr. Cap. The hole was made by something leaving the house. If it were some beast unfamiliar with doors, how did it get inside?"

Snowy Skies successfully represses a snort, but forgets to quiet the wet choking noise that comes out instead. Given what his brain was conjuring in the extra-dimensional horror department right now, the levity was refreshing.

"Ms. Flint, it's clear that I'm of no further use here," said Amber. There were two possibilities in Amber's mind: One, that she was to become an unwilling accomplice to a wild griffon chase, and two, that these two carnival hands were somehow right and that she really was going to be quite useless in the pursuit. "I would like to go and speak with Mr. Signal - Static - concerning a personal matter. Do you mind?"

She turned to Ms. Naught. "If you're well enough tonight, and the performance isn't canceled," she began, drawing one of her two spare tickets out of her saddlebag, "I believe you should attend. Try and have some - ah - fun. Don't estimate anything," she said.


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